open thread – August 15, 2014

Olive in doorIt’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.

{ 858 comments… read them below }

  1. Paloma Pigeon

    Throwing this out there:

    In April, I applied for a regional manager role with a national nonprofit that has satellite offices. In my cover letter, I mentioned that the mission of this organization is one that is very important to me since it affects a member of my immediate family, that my family has participated in their fundraising events and that I have served on committees for these events.

    In late April, I had a phone screen with their HR Director and then an in-person interview one week later with the director responsible for hiring regional staff. They were hiring for two manager positions and a director position in our city. I filled out a 4-page application, including reference contact information, to bring to the interview. The national director was very excited that I was so passionate about their mission, and anxious to hire because their big fundraising season starts in early fall and they were behind on their fundraising goals. She mentioned they had not gotten a large response to the listing. The timeline I was given was early June, in time for a staff-wide national conference. I left the interview feeling very positive.

    Two weeks later, I emailed to follow up and I offered to come interview again if they needed me to, and they asked me to interview with their new SVP who was traveling to our city in mid-May. That interview also went well and I again asked about the timeline, and was told they needed someone ‘Yesterday’. However, the SVP thought they were only hiring for one manager position.

    Two weeks after that (while I continued to apply for other jobs), the national director emailed that they had extended an offer for the local director, and they wanted her to have a say in building the local team. The timeline now for the position pushed to early July, and the managers would not be attending the national conference. They were still hiring two positions, and I was still very much ‘in the mix’. Then the manager positions were re-listed.

    One month later, I had my third in-person interview with the new local director, who was the supervisor to the position. So in some ways things were a little backward, because I had interviewed with higher-level people first and then got to meet the hiring manager. I was able to ask more detailed questions about the role but since she had only been there a week she could not answer all of them. She said the national office had asked her to interview several people, and that they were most excited about me. I also interviewed with the entire team – the coordinator and one new manager, who I discovered had been hired in June by the national director, before the local director had started. But wait- didn’t they say the local director was supposed to pick the team?

    Two weeks after those interviews, I followed up again with HR, asking if I should alert my references. (I was having major reservations, but I wanted to see this process through). I was told that they hoped to finish up hiring by the end of July, and would hopefully “be ready to make a decision and notify all candidates at that point.”

    Three and a half weeks after that email, I get a solicitation email for an upcoming event – clearly from the new regional manager (spelled ‘manger’ in the email).
    REALLY?

    I absolutely dodged a bullet, but what is the best way to respond to this? My thinking is to take the high road and send a polite email saying I noticed from the solicitation that they have filled the role, and thanking them for their time and wishing them well. Dear readers, my question is – do I point out the misspelling?

    1. LF

      No. Let them figure that one out. That will be your tiny bit of petty revenge, which is something that spurned candidates rarely get to enjoy.

      1. Vicki

        It’s not a misspelling. It’s a minor typo, not caught before whoever wrote the email pressed Send. These things happen. Humans are not perfect. Let it go.

    2. LBK

      To be totally honest, nothing here seems to be as outrageous as your conclusion makes it sound. There’s a lot of possibilities here:

      1) Other manager position filled: maybe the person they hired was clearly a right choice, so they didn’t feel they needed input from the director because she was going to be the obvious candidate for one of the spots no matter what.

      2) Timeline repeatedly extended: I get the sense that this isn’t atypical in non-profits. With generally fewer staff, all hands need to be on deck almost all the time, especially when they’re behind on fundraising goals. For a higher level position, 3 months from start to finish seems long but not crazy to me.

      3) Email from the new regional manager: wait, are you positive this person filled the position you were going after and it’s not the other one they hired? Or an interim manager who’s been doing the role and using the title until they get an official replacement?

      4) Continuing to say they were interested before apparently not giving you the position: well, that could have always be true, but as the interview process moved along maybe they decided that while you were strong in X that was good, they really needed someone with more Y. And they could’ve also been legitimately happy about you being passionate about their cause, but decided that passion wasn’t enough to compensate for other areas that you might not be the right fit. That might also explain relisting the position – casting the net out again to see if maybe someone with different experience applied.

      1. Paloma Pigeon

        Re 3): Yes, I am sure this is the new manager, because one of the two listed positions was filled by the person I interviewed with when I met the team in July. I think my biggest issue is that they didn’t bother to even send me a canned ‘thanks but no thanks’ email before they hit me up for money.

        1. Boats

          Since you’re sure this is the new manager, then I think it’s obnoxious (but not unusual) that they didn’t take the minimal effort to send you a canned email. What crosses the line is that they informed you that they’ve chosen the new “manger” :) by asking for a contribution. I wouldn’t respond at all.

        2. LBK

          Was this a personalized solicitation email that was clearly handwritten by the manager to you, or was it an email blast that was sent under the manager’s name? I find it really hard to believe the new manager would intentionally make such a brazen attempt to get money from you. Since you said you’ve been a prior donor and volunteer, I assume you’re still on their distribution list for these kinds of requests. I wouldn’t take it personally.

          1. LBK

            Also, if this isn’t someone you ever met or knew about prior to receiving this email, how would they even know you were in the running to get their job? Hiring managers don’t choose someone and then say “Oh, and here’s a list of the other top 5 candidates that you beat out for this position, make sure to avoid them because it might be awkward.” I doubt this person even knows who you are.

      2. whatnow

        I think three interviews – would at least require a curt – you were not successful email.
        You usually get that after just one interview.

    3. VictoriaHR

      That stinks. Sorry. Nonprofits are notoriously slow in their hiring practices, but they still should have had the decency to cut you loose when they realized they wouldn’t be hiring you.

      1. CTO

        I’ve actually had faster hiring processes at nonprofits than for-profits. I think it does a disservice to paint an entire industry as one way or the other, since there is a ton of variation.

        OP, I think you should just let it go. What would you really gain from following up with them? Sorry they handled this so poorly.

        1. Paloma Pigeon

          Not much. It’s just hard to let go since I’ve been a donor and volunteer of theirs for years.

          1. Not So NewReader

            Sometimes I don’t want to apply to places because I don’t want to get a glimpse inside how the company/organization works. If I find out ugly things, it’s tough for me, too.

            I will say this. I worked for a NP. I quietly went about learning my job,etc. It took me years to figure out that everyone there worked there had a loved one with similar problems as our population. I don’t know why that never occurred to me that sooo many people could be working there because of their personal experiences. But my eyes opened up and I realized, interviewers at my company were used to hearing the personal experience stories… VERY used to it.
            I think because employees are surrounded by the suffering, they grow accustomed to seeing it. Then the dots stop connecting. The employees fail to see that the interviewee has a heavy emotional connection to the cause. They miss the fact that this is not just an interviewee this is also a supporter.

            This is what happens to some people when they reach saturation level. My theory is that we can only see so much pain and suffering and then we have to turn it off or detach somehow. The detachment can manifest in many ways including forgotten emails.

            So what this looks like to me, is the organization is scrambling for help. There is not even enough help to hire more help. Secondly, the person who does the mass mailings has no clue about who has applied to work for the organization (more disconnections). The person who is supposed to be hiring is so new or so harried that it never occurred to her to send out “thanks, but no thanks” emails before the solicitation went out. Now, is too late, of course.

            Like you said, bullet dodged.

          2. MandyBabs

            I’m completely with you – you have the right to be miffed to say the least. You definitely dodged a bullet, but you are entitled to your feelings.

            Also- uh Development/Executive should know better to just send out any request for money without thinking. If they’re worth their salt (and abilities to handle a donor base) they know they are asking – no matter if it’s automatic. They should have had the wherewithal to know not to hit you up. But – that is another sign of the bullet dodged.

            1. BRR

              If the OP was already a donor and volunteer she is likely in their database and when solicitations go out they just select the group such as “people who donated last year.” While it is unfortunate that it happened I feel like it’s understandable that nobody thought to remove the OP’s name.

              1. Ask a Manager Post author

                Exactly. This is automated and done by selecting particular groups like past donors, volunteers, etc.. Unless they’re selecting “job applicants” as a group to hit up, it was just a coincidence that she had also applied for a job there.

                1. whatnow

                  I doubt she would have been upset about receiving that email, if she hadn’t already had three interviews with the company, been told she was the best candidate, been strung along about hiring dates, spoke to HR on multiple occasions and then they hired someone else and the way she finds out is through a donor email rather than being simply told that she didn’t get the job.
                  If you think that she was just on their donors list and it’s a coincidence she got this, that means that this company didn’t have the decency after three interviews to tell the unsuccessful candidate that they were so.
                  It speaks to very poor management – the whole process. Including the spelling error.

              2. E

                Yes. I was surprised that she ended up in their database, as at places I’ve worked (on the database end of things), HR and the database are pretty separate. Knowing that she was already a donor – not surprised. Ideally, HR shouldn’t be sharing hiring and candidate info with the database team, whether to add them or remove them from the database, so status quo (in this case, getting solicited as a previous donor) would remain.

                Also, there is a fairly good chance that the new regional manager has their name on the email without having had anything to do with the lists or email composition. We send newsletters out from our Executive Director, but he is not pulling lists and he is trusting our staff to get spelling right.

                1. MandyBabs

                  I see your respective points, but I guess I’ve seen enough database mistakes that it bothers me when people really aren’t thinking across all levels. If I knew a frequent donor applied for a job and didn’t get it, I’d really try and review how to couch an ask for money.

                2. StudentA

                  Can you clarify why you were surprised? If she is a previous donor, she is automatically on their email blast list. If she feels strongly about the cause, who’s to say she won’t donate again?

                3. E

                  The thing is, and I’m not saying there aren’t database mistakes, but if that frequent donor applied for a job and didn’t get it, would they want the whole development department to know about it? I believe that information like that becomes HR confidential info, so they can’t start blanket choosing not to solicit people. People respond to things like this differently, and some might still want to give – and the development staff would want to know why they were being asked not to solicit people they have relationships with,

                  I applied for a job once and got added to the mailing/solicitation list without getting an interview, and I was annoyed about that. But if somebody’s already on the list, I think the protocol is pretty different, and removing them might be as bad as adding them.

                4. E

                  StudentA, I was surprised until I read that she was a previous donor – sorry if that was unclear.

                  I think there were mistakes here – the development department made a spelling mistake in an eblast, and HR should have let the candidate know that she wasn’t hired. I just don’t think that the candidate ending up on that list was a mistake.

  2. XT

    Hey all, interviewing question again! I wrote in two weeks ago because I wasn’t hearing back about a rescheduled interview for a job I really wanted. I ended up calling to check and it turned out that it was just a mistake that I hadn’t been recontacted, and the HR manager I spoke with said if I was interested I was definitely still in the running, they just had to put a pause on conducting the interviews for the time being because of some big scheduling issues on their end.

    Fast forward to today, I just finished the first round of interviews for another job that, while good, is significantly less appealing to me than the first. I know this is a preemptive worry, but I want to make sure I have a good idea what to do, just in case.

    Assuming Company A was being honest when they said they still did want to conduct an interview with me, what do I do if I am offered a second interview with Company B? Company B supposedly moves very quickly with their hiring process. Is there a way to contact Company A again to see if they have any better idea on the timeline for their interview process? Again, I know it’s early and this may not even happen, but suppose Company B extends an offer before I interview with Company A. I obviously couldn’t ask them to give me an indefinite amount of time to consider the offer waiting to see when and if Company A even pans out. I also can’t really just say ‘No thanks’ if its a reasonable offer and I have no idea if Company A will even truly interview, let alone hire me.

    I’m afraid if I wait for a (hypothetical) offer it’ll be too late to tell Company A that I have an offer and need to know how they are progressing in their process to then interview, maybe have two or more interviews, and wait for their decision. I also know if I reach out to them now before I have an offer they may tell me that they can’t give me an answer and say I should move on, take me off their list, and then I may not even get an offer from Company B and I’ll be stuck with no jobs and not even any promising prospects.

    Is is possible to reach out to A, if I get a second interview with B, and ask for a timeline update and let them know I am in another interview process but still very interested in their position, so I’d like to see if it was possible to get an interview in soon?

    Also, to reiterate, our communication thus far has been that I sent in my application, they asked for an interview, I accepted, they scheduled, I confirmed, they said they had to reschedule, I reached out a week later for a follow up, I heard nothing, I called a week and a half after that, was told they are still in process and will contact me when interviews resume. Would a new message, even in the context of “time is becoming a factor I’m interviewing somewhere else” just annoy them and make them want to say “fine just go there.”

    1. BRR

      I wouldn’t reach out again. You’ve reached out what is a lot as an applicant. With your question being because you have an interview don’t do it. I really think that for the vast majority of the time you can only reach out when you have a pending offer and you have interviewed with the other company.

      1. XT

        Thanks for your reply! I have been concerned about contacting too much (though for context, first was to follow up because their “we’ll call next week to reschedule” deadline passed and they had mentioned wanting to finish interviews in a short timeline. I received an “out of office until XX” auto reply, so a few days after that date passed I called to check in, as it had seemed when I looked back on our emails that there may have been someone else who was supposed to contact me in her absence and perhaps a miscommunication happened, which it turned out it had.)

        So in those instances I decided that a follow up was okay since it was in response to information they provided, but yes, was definitely wary that this time could be too much.

    2. Kimberlee, Esq.

      I would wait until you have an offer from Company B. That’s really actionable on Company A’s end, whereas just knowing that you’re interviewing elsewhere isn’t (in fact, if you’re interviewing with them, they probably assume you’re interviewing elsewhere too).

      Once you have an offer from Company B, give Company A an email, be candid about how excited you were, and let them know that you have to accept or decline the other offer by DATE and want to know if they want to work with you on that. If they can’t, then you have to decide if Company A is awesome enough to forego an offer from Company B.

    3. StudentA

      I really don’t think it’s appropriate to email Company A to let them know you’re interviewing elsewhere. Generally, applicants do not give the nudge until they interview with the company. I understand Company A is a more desirable employer, but, honestly, just tell yourself if it’s meant to be, they will get in touch with you.

  3. C Average

    I’ve been thinking a lot about the “Bill” letter yesterday, and realizing that I occasionally find myself getting lazy at work and needing to re-engage.

    I’ll leave the “why” aside. There are a lot of reasons. Some are legit, some are not, and all of them are probably better dealt with in a shrink’s office than here.

    I’m interested in the “how.”

    Here are some things I do when I know I’ve been drifting into slacker territory:

    • Perform a back-of-envelope gap analysis to see what I’ve been neglecting and to what extent. What should I be doing that I’m not doing? What specific things would I need to do to do a good job? Make a list and put it in order, most to least urgent.
    • Identify some kind of time-tracking/scheduling tool I can use to stay on track, at least at first. (I like the ones for student class schedules. I know there are lots of time tracker apps, but I’ve found paper still works best for me.)
    • Block out part of each day to work my backlog. Try to eliminate distractions during this period. Fight the resistance! Remind myself that when I complete these backlog tasks, they are going to be GONE. Forever! Push through. The only way out is through.
    • If there are projects and processes I should own that have drifted into other people’s wheelhouses, schedule meetings with those people. Thank them for doing my work while I was otherwise occupied. (Keep that part as vague as Ineed to.) Tell them I’m reclaiming these tasks. If I need re-training or a refresher, ask for it. Humbly. Take good notes and pay attention so that I can, in fact, reclaim the task or process effectively. After I’ve reclaimed the task, tell my manager that I had temporarily delegated that task to Jane due to competing demands and that she did a terrific job for which I’m very grateful, but that I’m now back to performing the task myself.
    • Demonstrate engagement at every meeting. That doesn’t mean “ask lots of questions.” I may not talk at all. It means take notes, pay attention, identify action items, and don’t multitask or look at my phone.
    • Remind myself that no matter how I feel about my job, I agreed to perform certain work for a certain amount of money. My employer is keeping its end of the bargain and I should keep mine.
    • Remind myself that I like and respect my colleagues and owe it to them to do my work well so they can do theirs well.
    • Pick a trusted colleague (I have one of these from another team within my department) and confide that I’ve been struggling with motivation and am working to do better. Plan a standing weekly check-in meeting. Fifteen minutes is plenty. I’m basically just making sure that once a week, I talk honestly to someone about the progress I’m making and the obstacles that are emerging.
    • Be judicious about taking on anything new. It’s tempting to take on new projects to prove myself capable, but it’s more important to clear my backlog, resume responsibility for the tasks that legitimately belong to me, and THEN take on new things. (This assumes, of course, that there’s a choice. Sometimes there isn’t.)

    What kind of tricks and tips do you all use when you have an I’m-slacking-off epiphany?

    1. M. in Austin!

      This is very helpful!

      Something that I do:
      I think of where I want to be and what it will take to get there. For example, in 1 year, I would to be a Teapot Maker II. I can’t get there by just doing the bare minimum. I really have to be a “go-getter”/superstar. So that motivates me.

      I’m the type who needs to see the big picture and work backwards. So I see my big goal (Teapot Maker II) and outline what I need to do to get there.

    2. A Jane

      I clean my desk/cubicle area. It’s really silly, but gives me a sense of a refresh start and actually getting something done.

      Of course, when that doesn’t work, I pull out the post-it notes and write down things I need to get done. And then I organize in terms of priority. And get one thing done.

      1. AVP

        This is so perfect for me today. I’ve been slacking this past month due to burnout and a slow period for my company, but this is what I’m going to do today to get back into the swing of things.

          1. AVP

            It took me, like, 20 minutes to do the organizing I’ve been putting off for a year. I feel so much better now! Wish I could add a picture here, its beautiful.

      2. Puddin

        I have this same system. I call it ‘sharpening the saw’ after the Stephen Covey principles*. Having a clear desk space promotes a clear mind space for me. It makes work feel newer and shiny (ooohhh shiiinnnny). This is just enough incentive to rebuild and focus on the tasks at hand.

        * a rather loose interpretation of what he was getting at, I think.

      3. ExceptionToTheRule

        I did exactly that this morning. Makes me feel less cluttered and then I know I haven’t forgotten something that’s buried on the papers on my desk.

      4. C Average

        YES. It’s amazing how much it helps. It’s like just by cleaning your desk, you’ve signaled to the world and yourself, “An organized, together, hard-working person sits at this desk. Sit back and be amazed.”

    3. Carrie in Scotland

      Well, at the moment I’m a huge slacker – mainly because my new role is much, much slower paced than my last one (sadly). But in my previous job, when I’d been slacking, I’d put together a “to list” e.g – has this letter come back, what is the status of this project, shall I chase this up again, etc. Then I would compile it and either phone/email/have a quick 10 minute catch up meeting with the person I was supporting. Seemed to work.

    4. cv

      I re-read Getting Things Done, which always kicks off a flurry of motivated productivity. My systems slide after a while, bit it can help me push through a backlog and get back on top of things.

      1. C Average

        You know, I love the spirit of this book, but I just can’t and won’t try to carry out its precepts. I don’t have ADHD, but I have a learning disability (nonverbal learning disability) that has a lot of crossover symptoms with ADHD, and one of the most helpful learning-to-cope resources I’ve come across was a parents’ guide to helping your ADHD child get organized. One of the book’s insights was that people with ADHD are literally not aware of things that are stored out of plain sight, so places like drawers and files aren’t ideal storage options for stuff belonging to people with ADHD. That totally resonated. If something is in a drawer or file, I might as well not own it. So the GTD advice about, say, filing emails just isn’t realistic for me. But the big-picture aspects of the book are great.

    5. Joce

      This is fairly specific to me as someone with ADD, but I take a step back and talk to my doctor about whether my meds need to be adjusted.

    6. A Minion

      So glad to know I’m not the only one who’s dealt with this! Like you, I have to step back, take stock of what I haven’t been getting done and start making lists. I find that I can stay motivated in short spurts, but it’s getting more and more difficult to remain that way in my current position.
      Not sure about yours, but my lack of motivation comes from the position I’m in. How do you stay motivated to perform when you feel undervalued and unappreciated? In addition, I’ve worked hard to earn a degree – I’m a bookkeeper for a small-ish nonprofit – and now that I’ve graduated with a B.S. in Accounting, I’m thinking “Bookkeeper” isn’t exactly the title I want to have for the rest of my life, but it’s been made very clear to me that a bookkeeper is all that’s needed here. I had planned to get my CPA designation and transition into more of a financial director role here and, in fact, had a plan in place with the former director. When he left, however, that all fell apart and the current (acting) director doesn’t see a need for a financial director. Even though she has no idea how to deal with the finances of this organization – she readily admits she has no clue when it comes to money and even jokes that she doesn’t even know how much is in her own personal account – doesn’t even balance her checkbook! That wouldn’t be a problem if we had a CFO or someone over me who handled the finances…but I’m it. The entire financial department all rolled in to one stressed-out nerd who finally earned her pocket-protector.
      So, yeah…I’ve been looking for another job for more than 8 months now with no luck. I’m feeling dejected, unmotivated, devalued and downright depressed.
      Sorry for the vent.

      1. C Average

        Oh, man. That does sound tough. Have you found many positions that appeal? Do you have a pretty good idea of what you’re looking for? It does sound like all signs point to you needing to move on. I can see why you’d want to.

        I’m not in that sort of situation, fortunately. I think, honestly, I am just bored and disengaged. I’ve been doing roughly the same thing for quite a while (writing technical content in support of a particular product line), and the product line is slated to be phased out and replaced with a different type of product over the next two to three years. I’m the senior subject matter and process expert on the team, so it’s up to me to both lead the end-of-life effort for the existing product line and help create content and set up new processes around the new product line. I’m not particularly enthusiastic about any of the products. The old ones were groundbreaking when they launched, but now they’re dated and inferior to others’ offerings. The new ones are still really just conceptual, but I haven’t yet seen anything to excite me.

        In order to get excited about my work, I have to back way away from the actual substance of my writing and engage with the strategy and operations side of things. That, fortunately, is pretty interesting. It just requires engaging on a higher level and pushing myself through the very necessary scut work.

    7. Not So NewReader

      This is kind of along the lines of cleaning up the top of your desk, but I have two favorites that I use.
      The bulk of my slacking comes from feeling overwhelmed. To beat that feeling back into the closet where it belongs I:
      a) Take a short project that requires 15 minutes but I will notice everyday. Don’t make this hard. Most recently I decided that I was spending too much time looking for phone numbers. It took 15 minutes to slam the most commonly used phone numbers into a spreadsheet and print that out. I think I climbed Mount Everest.

      b) Take a short project that has been sitting there for months and move it to the next step. Again, just pick something that takes 15 minutes. We were asking for approval to do X. Approval never came and it’s been four months. I sent the fax again plus a new cover sheet explaining that it’s been four months and, gee, we would really like to move forward here. When that approval came flying back to me by return fax, I felt like I had won at least a silver medal.

      Energy/motivation has to come from some where. Small successes might work to re-energize or re-motivate you. The trick is when you feel yourself starting to tank, intervene early. If you wait several days or several weeks, you have waited too long. It makes it harder then. I use these as early and quick interventions to keep me on an even keel [or at least keep me appearing to be on an even keel].

      1. Loli

        I watch Apollo 13. I always feel motivated about my job after watching the team pull off the job of bringing our astronauts home. I even screened it for my team one time to help motivate them. It got everyone’s juices going. Sometimes our projects are so big that they seem too overwhelming to attack. Apollo 13 reminds me to break everything down into sections so I can actually see success and I can reach the end of each of the mini projects needed to complete the big project.
        BTW – I clean my office space when I am feeling overwhelmed.

        1. C Average

          My go-to get-motivated movie is Blue Crush. I wish I were kidding, but I’m totally not. I’m reminded of what it’s like to want something so badly you’re willing to work really, really hard for it.

    8. afiendishthingy

      Do you have ADHD? I do and I know how feeling overwhelmed/disorganized can lead to avoidance of work because I just don’t know where to start. I’m still working on this (and just started a new position which, once I have a full workload, will most likely be pretty challenging for organizational/prioritizing reasons, among others).
      -Definitely try to tidy your workspace as a starting point.
      -I also like to switch locations sometimes. Is there a conference room or unused office you could escape to for a couple hours a day? It helps me sometimes to be away from distractions, and if I’ve goofed off a lot in one place, I associate it with the goofing off and am more likely to veer away from work into random internet-ing.
      -I try to track what work I’ve completed as well as making to-do lists. Even if it seems like it takes forever for me to get something done, I can look back on the calendar and see what I did on each day and realize I am making progress towards my goals.
      -When possible, break large projects down into small, concrete tasks. If that’s not possible, I set goals for at least how long I will work on a project at a time- 30 min on project A, 5 min break, 30 min on project b, another 5 min break, then maybe back to project A.
      -Checklists are your friend- a coworker at my new job who also has ADHD shared her daily checklist/log of what she’s done with me, and I think it’s going to be a great tool – we have to track our time and rack up a certain number of billable hours. Even if you don’t have to do billing it might help you to behave as if you do!

      1. C Average

        I love these and am adding them to my list, especially the one about avoiding known goofing-off locations.

        I don’t have ADHD, but I have a learning disability (nonverbal learning disability) with a lot of similar symptoms, including being easily overwhelmed when there are too many disparate tasks.

        Something else I’ve found helpful is to establish a transition ritual for task-switching. I’ll perform one task for x amount of time (usually 45 minutes to an hour) and then walk to the kitchen to refill my water glass, say hi to any colleagues I pass, and then jump into a new task.

    9. QualityControlFreak

      I don’t really tend to slack off much, but I do have to manage a wide variety of tasks and projects simultaneously. I’m tracking a lot of actions, both my own and those of other members of the teams I lead. I’m known as a workhorse and I’m busy pretty much all the time. I honestly thrive on being fully engaged and I love what I do, so it works for me. I get to shift my focus between the details of the day-to-day work of the organization, to running our internal audit program, to researching, compiling and presenting data describing the effectiveness of our core processes, to the bigger picture of our overall mission and how well we’re meeting the needs of our customers. I rarely feel disengaged, but I do experience some information overload.

      And sometimes, I organize my desk. It helps ground me when I feel like I’m going too many directions at once. It allows me a moment, mentally, to step back and regroup. Glad to see I’m not the only one.

  4. Elkay

    I’m very excited because I actually pulled my finger out and started contacting recruitment agencies. I also threw an application in for another job. Funny how actually doing something can make your current situation more bearable.

      1. fposte

        Amusingly, the British “pull my finger out” is even more bodily in its meaning–the finger’s been up your arse.

        1. The IT Manager

          I’m American and filled in “of my arse” in Elkay’s first post, but “arse” was spelled the American way.

          If it wasn’t coming out of her arse where was her finger pulled from?

          1. Lily in NYC

            Her nose? Ear? I don’t know! I was just referring to when someone tells you to pull their finger and then they fart when you do it.

        2. Monodon monoceros

          New phrases from my British boss that I’ve incorporated into my everyday language- pulled their finger out, and diddly-sh*t. So much more satisfying to say diddly-sh*t than diddly squat!

          1. Elkay

            That one’s just your boss!

            Didn’t think about the second meaning, I was just really proud of myself for doing something.

  5. Trixie

    Looking for suggestion on academic employment blogs. Similar to AAM but geared towards PhD’s with 20+ years experience who are looking to continue working, either in academia or transitioning to private sector.

      1. Trixie

        Thanks, I will. Its for my mother who at 66 is looking to continue working in science but also open to transitioning out if need be. I think she’s facing a lot of the same ageism issues on both sides.

    1. Mimmy

      Not sure if you’re looking for job postings or articles, but another good source is HigherEdJobs(dot)com.

      1. NZ Muse

        Well, I read Grumpy Rumblings of the Untenured regularly, and while they aren’t focused on this solely they do often talk about this kind of thing, and frequently link to other blogs that do in their regular link roundsup. Might be worth a look :)

  6. nyxalinth

    Do corporate recruiters work on commissions or have quotas? I have to ask because I’ve been contacted by them in the past (Bombast was the latest) and they always seem really enthusiastic about my skills, fit for the position, etc. but the interview never pans out for me. So I wonder if in order to make quota they throw in a few “Eh, they fit the bare minimum requirements” types. I should add I do everything I can on my end to get the job. I find that I tend to get too hopeful about my chances when I’m contacted by a recruiter, so I guess that’s why I’m asking.

    1. Bea W

      They get paid for every placement, and some are definitely working by submitting as many applications as possible to increase the chance of that happening. Not all recruiters are like that. The smart ones don’t want to waste too much time on submitting candidates that are unlikely to even get an interview. I’ve worked with some that are very good at finding out what the employer is really looking for and screening candidates and then others who haven’t quite figured that out yet.

      1. nyxalinth

        I wish more that I have dealt with were like that! I would waste my time or the interviewers. then again I think it’s good to try, because you never know when fit might win out over skills etc. Thanks for your answer. From now on I know to put a little less stock in recruiters, and trim my hopes back a bit.

    2. Allison

      Agency recruiters are paid on commission, and the quality of their work may affect whether clients keep coming back or referring the agency or specific recruiter to others, but there’s often a lot of desperation in filling the role ASAP, especially when there are multiple agencies working on the same roles.

      Internal/corporate recruiters are different. They are expected to fill the roles, often as quickly and cheaply as possible; they won’t be kept around that long if they don’t deliver, after all. But they’re also evaluated on the quality of their work. If they keep submitting poor candidates to the hiring manager, it may be held against them – unless the issue is culture fit or technical ability, which a recruiter can’t be expected to adequately judge just by looking at a resume and chatting on the phone for 15 mins.

      Some recruiters are held to quotas, where they have to contact a certain number of people per day or have to have a certain percentage of candidates hired OR ELSE. These companies may have a legitimate interest in making sure people are productive, but aren’t very good at effectively ensuring that people are successful.

    3. VictoriaHR

      Corporate recruiters are different from 3rd-party or agency recruiters. Corporate recruiters work for a large company and recruit for just that company. I work for a large insurance company and only recruit for our positions. I am paid an annual salary, no commission. My role is administrative in nature – I collect applications for open positions, send likely candidates to hiring managers, do prescreens if the manager wants me to, schedule interviews for them, and process the new hire paperwork for the candidates that they select to move forward. I have very little decision-making power on who gets the job.

      When I worked at a staffing agency, I recruited for a variety of clients, and yes I got bonuses on placements for some of them (the full-time perm jobs), but also got a good base salary. I had a great deal of say as to which candidates were offered to a client, because their success at the client’s workplace meant continued client relationships.

      3rd party recruiters tend to work on just full-time permanent openings, and they tend to be commission-only. So yes they will work the hardest at finding the most candidates for their openings. They’re also usually competing against other recruiters to fill the position, so it’s a competitive job and they can get a little (or a lot) cutthroat. Good recruiters in this role make over $100k, but they really have to hustle. Personally I wouldn’t work with this type just because I find their general practices distasteful. But agency recruiters, I have no problem with. 3rd party recruiters are the ones who would seem the most enthusiastic because they’re trying to sell you on the position, as much as they try to sell you to the client. 3rd party recruiters also just place the candidate, collect their commission, and move on to the next spot to fill, as opposed to corporate recruiters continuing to work for the same company.

      The problem with some agencies is that they hire inexperienced folks who get overwhelmed, and they have high turnover in the recruiting/sales role. I left my agency recruiting position because they were pushing sales over all else, and I just wanted to recruit.

      1. Bea W

        Maybe it depends on the field, but 3rd party recruiters in my industry often work on temp / contract positions, and not as many perm positions though that could be because there are fewer perm openings in the field and more contract positions. It seems like companies are a lot more selective about who they farm their recruiting work to. I don’t think my employer uses 3rd party for perm at all. They have internal recruiters. Some smaller companies in my area will farm out perm searches to 3rd party recruiters. I haven’t encountered that with the large ones though, at least not in my industry. YMMV.

  7. Diet Coke Addict

    After a glorious week of vacation, my work this week hosted a workshop which has turned out to be an unmitigated disaster. Highlights have included my boss asking me to give up my evening to drive several men I don’t know to a museum and usher them around (all unpaid, of course), which fell through once he realized said museum wasn’t open; an attendee yelling at my boss for not having equipment he wanted to see and my boss lying through his teeth that he had expected to have it by now (which he did not, since generally you must order something before expecting it); and my boss telling an attendee that a former employee here “was just working to get his employment insurance back, he really screwed us over when he left” knowing full well that the employee left for a $5/hour pay raise at a different job.

    So I’ve spent a lot of my week applying and writing cover letters. I’m disheartened by how I’ve been applying steadily for a few months now and haven’t had a bite—not even a phone call, let alone any rejections—after tailoring my resumes, crafting careful and well-written cover letters vetted by people I trust, and applying to jobs I know I’m a good fit for. Even though I know full well that I’m not crazy, it’s depressing to go into work every day to participate in the lunatic carnival, you know? It’s astonishing to see the lack of professionalism and I’ve thoroughly lost any trust in my boss that I ever had in the ten months I’ve been here. The weekend is making an enormous difference in my outlook today!

    1. Carrie in Scotland

      Eek, that sounds dreadful! I’m sure that someone, somewhere soon will contact you about an interview though – just keep on going! :)
      I too, am looking forward to the weekend (for me, it starts in 45 minutes as open threads are posted at 4 pm my time) and I only had a 3 day week – which says it all, really!

    2. RB

      Keep your chin up. It takes longer these days to find employment. Employers expect a perfect candidate (no such thing) and the economy is still somewhat stagnant. I left my toxic job and boss a year ago, but I started my search in earnest over a year prior. I kept sane by keeping my sense of humor, volunteering and learning to focus on other things besides the insanity at my old organization. By the way, it was through volunteering that landed me my current job.

      Good luck!

    3. Meg Murry

      So sorry to hear that! Are you in touch with anyone that has since jumped ship from your current company? The majority of the times I’ve gotten actual interviews from my resumes are when I’m applying through a former coworker hand delivering my resume to HR or a hiring manager. So maybe brush off linked in and pound that pavement?

      1. Diet Coke Addict

        Both are already being done. The difficulty is that I’m in a fairly depressed, fairly rural area, so my options are pretty limited. It’s a double whammy of difficulty!

        1. Not So NewReader

          Ummm… maybe you just need a day off from work AND from job hunting. Tomorrow is Saturday, can you take a the-heck-with-it-all day and do something to light/fun?

          Maybe what you need the most is to step back from the whole thing for 24 hours.

  8. Cruciatus

    I have two somewhat related questions that I’ll ask separately. The first one is–does anyone have experience working in a university registrar’s office? I have an interview next week for an admin/clerk position at a university with probably about 12,000 students on the main campus (they have 8 branches). I’d be at the main branch and am not sure if all students go through the main campus registrar or not (as they do where I work). If that’s true then they have about 30,000 students total in the system. All of the admin/clerk job descriptions are the same regardless of department so they all have generic things you’d expect in an admin/clerk ad (ability to type, ability to gather information, knowledge of office practices and procedures, ability to provide clerical support, etc.).

    I understand that no one can speak for every registrar’s office ever, but can anyone give me a better idea of what I might expect in such a position? I work at a very small college now but no where near the registrar’s office (and if I asked them about things they would be suspicious and then everyone would know I’m job searching). Do you want to pull your hair out all the time? Is there ever down time or is it go, go, go! Should I expect lots of data entry? Meeting students in person? What might a typical day be like? It’s a bit behind-the-scenes so is there an element of satisfaction in helping people? High turnover rates? Burnout?

    1. TotesMaGoats

      Burnout would depend on how effectively they use technology, so that would be a good question to ask them if you get an interview. Coupled with that, if they are good with their tech there would be little in the way of data entry. Your busy times will be right before the semester starts, right before graduation and when registration periods. There is an ebb and flow to it. You’ll probably be do general jobs like printing transcripts, helping students register or finding information. You may run reports or submit data to other departments. It depends on how the department is run.

      Big questions for you to ask:
      1. What technology to they use? How much do they use it?
      2. What’s the biggest frustration for students? For faculty? For staff?
      3. How does the Registrar’s Office work with other departments on campus for things like graduation or freshmen orientation?
      4. How is the office structured? Everyone knows everything a little bit or specialists for things like graduation or va certification.

      1. TotesMaGoats

        Let me add that like most other jobs burnout also depends on the office culture and balanced workload. I don’t want you to think it’s all on technology’s shoulders. But I’ve found that to be a big culprit in turnover in that particular office.

        1. Cruciatus

          Thanks for all of the info. Just wanted to let you know I’ve printed off your questions! Assuming I’m not crucified for my Banner blunder, I’ll try to get to the bottom of burnout. Is it weird to ask how long the previous person was in the role before you?

    2. Joce

      I don’t work in the registrar’s office, but I work in admissions which works closely with the registrar and I have several work friends who are involved.

      My impression is that their schedule is fairly similar to ours, in that things get really busy in the weeks leading up to classes starting — students need to be enrolled right now, they’re trying to get residency figured out right now, etc — and then it will slow down a bit once the incoming class is decently settled. It’s never entirely quiet, but this time of year particularly is very much go, go, go.

      Yes to lots of data entry, because those SIS systems unfortunately don’t update themselves, and meeting students will really heavily depend on what you’re doing within the office. I hope this is helpful!

    3. Bea W

      I worked at a community college for a couple years doing this. I found it was crazy during certain times of the year, like when registration opened and at the beginning of the semester, but in between those times it was pretty quiet and unexciting. This was 20 years ago, and we did not have computerized registration. We used 3-part NCR and caught up on data entry (in a DOS program!) after the rush and did a lot of filing. I suspect now that registration is computerized and can be done online, you don’t get as much of a crush of bodies in the office. I’m not sure how much data entry you will have to do. I left just after the school implemented computerized registration. So there was no more data entry of the piles registrations filled out on paper. You will probably get a lot of phone calls. They will be pretty straight forward requests and questions about schedules and registration/changes/dropping classes, transcript requests, that kind of thing, and the occasional call from an employer or some agency looking to verify registration of an employee.

      The office I worked in handled both the evening and community ed (non-credit) and was actually responsible not just for registrar duties, but hiring adjuct faculty for evening and weekend credit courses and all of the planning and logistics for the community ed offerings. We also scheduled appointments for evening/weekend students who wanted to meet with an advisor. Our office was the only one open evening and weekends, so all business with the college during those hours went through us, including accepting the occasional tuition payment. During rush times, we often had additional help from the business office to take payments from students during their off-hours. During normal weekday hours, we would send them over to the business office with their paperwork.

      Other things I did were distribute mail and paychecks (evening adjunct mailboxes were in our office), proof the course offerings catalog, take applications, mail materials, maintain mailing lists, collect student surveys for the evening staff and then tally results and compile comments, answer questions for people who came to the office in person, and sell parking stickers off hours. Our office was the first one right inside the door, so we got a lot of random people looking for this or that office.

      The college did not have email when I worked there. I’m not sure if you job would also include reading and responding to email requests. All of the requests people email and submit electronically were all done by phone when I was in this job. So it may be more email and less phone or in person interactions. I have no idea how the internet has changed things in this job.

      I really enjoyed working there. There wasn’t a lot of turnover and burn-out. The workload ran in predictable cycles and started on well-defined dates because it was totally based on when registration opened and closed and the last day to change or drop a class. Whether it’s a good place to work will depend on the school/office itself and the people you work with. My co-workers were great. My boss was great. People were mostly pleasant. There was a lot of answering questions from students and helping them navigate the registration process and giving them information about classes and options and such. The downtime was nice and I really think prevented burn out. We’d be full speed ahead for a few weeks, and then cruising the rest of the semester.

      Totes gave some great questions to ask, and ask the things you’ve asked here during the interview. Those are the people who can speak specifically to the school at which you’ll be working.

    4. Bitter

      This is what I do. I…would not recommend it. We are overloaded and stressed as hell, and we’ve literally been told we have to be perfect at all times. Which we do, because if anyone doesn’t get what they want, they start calling as many higher-ups as they can find. It’s tons of data entry, mostly too much work but with the occasional hour of down time. You deal with students constantly. My job is to solve your problems and fix your life and give you what you want with a big ol’ fake smile on my face–and if I don’t do that, people report on me. And answering phones: you have to answer ANYTHING, no matter what it is, and you can’t say no, I’ve never heard of it before. They will never hire new staff, either. Do not apply with a registrar’s office unless you can get a position that doesn’t involve serving the public. Period. I got transferred into this.

      1. Cruciatus

        The university I’m interviewing at is a top rated place to work in the region–which doesn’t mean that the registrar’s office isn’t a flustercluck, of course. I’m still planning on going to the interview but do you have any advice for the best way to ask if it’s a miserable situation like yours is? You got transferred into it, but were there any warning signs before you got there? Or even way before the transfer that made you wary?

        1. Bitter

          I had NO IDEA. I worked on the technical side and never had to talk to anyone all day–my job basically got transferred over here with a heaping helping of public service and poo and loads of other things thrown in. As far as I knew, everything was happy-dappy-doo on this side because I knew nothing about it and worked in an adjacent office. I didn’t know everyone reports on you all the time (both customers and your coworkers), I didn’t know that almost everyone you talk to at any point in time complains to as many higher-ups as they can find. We had a guy come in today who is now reporting 3-4 people formally “for being rude to him.” Which is to say, they had to tell him that he can’t drop out of summer school after summer school has already ended. I’m told it’ll go to the chancellor. (Meanwhile, we’re reporting him to judicial affairs in kind. There’s several reports going out today for people’s sterling behavior.) Oh yeah, and he got a parking ticket while he was in here screaming at 4 people and he wants us to pay it. A few weeks ago, we had people come in that cops had to be called about. It’s stuff like this all. the. time.

          Honestly, I think most of the problem is that the job serves the public and the public are assholes and we have to do whatever they want/be their butt monkey. There’s some management issues that don’t help, but in general it’s that anyone who has to serve the public is going to get shit thrown at them no matter what they do. My reputation here is now mud, because they all tend to think we’re horrible (guess why). And it’s worse than retail because everything is high stakes and involving tons of money. And if it’s an international student, they run the risk of deportation if say, they decide they want to drop out of school. It’s just the job, I’m afraid.

          Don’t go. I took the job because I had no other option but unemployment, and now I can’t find anything else. I am trapped here until I die or get canned. Unless your only option is unemployment, do not do this.

          1. Bea W

            I have to think the problem lies with your environment, and not the job in general. Your situation sounds toxic as heck. Not all academic environments are like that.

    5. C Average

      I haven’t worked IN a registrar’s office, but I’ve worked closely WITH a registrar’s office when I spent about a year as an academic adviser.

      Most of the people in that office had been there a long time, which seems like a good sign, and they were always really helpful and good-natured and patient when I needed to work with them.

      I would say if there’s one quality that would really serve you well in a role like that, it would be the ability to exude calm competence. You’ll be dealing with stressed students, helicopter parents, and faculty with big egos. You have to have a certain amount of self-assurance to not get easily stressed out in that environment, I’d think. When I think back on the registrar’s office, there’s one woman in particular I recall who was just wonderful to work with. She knew the rules, processes, and systems inside and out, and she was wonderfully patient and polite no matter what question you came to her with. She appeared all-knowing and absolutely unflappable.

    6. Chloe

      I worked in the business office at a Big 10 school. The school has 3 campuses and the campus I attended has 40,000+ students. I was a cashier and basically dealt with tuition, registration, deposits to student orgs, money to departments, etc. Besides me, there would be 3 other people working the windows, but not even all the time. There were plenty of times where it was just one or two windows open. Things got very busy during the early parts of the semester, but it wasn’t that bad at all. Yea, sometimes I got a little frazzled, especially if my coworkers were slacking or absent, but what else can you do but power through it? There was a lot of downtime too. Much more than you’d initially expect at a school of that size. But you’ll soon learn that a school’s size doesn’t always correspond to how busy you are all the time. I think if my school were less organized, it could have been a disaster of a job. But everything was pretty compartmentalized so it was okay.

      I did a lot of data entry, cash handling, customer service. Behind the scenes I did a lot of data entry, document management, filing, other random errands, and just regular office/administrative things. I encountered students, faculty and university personnel every day all day. I wouldn’t say I interacted with them necessarily because I just provided a service, exchanged niceties and they went along their way. I guess that is interacting now that I put it like that.lol

      I don’t think you should worry too much. :)

    7. BB

      One thing you can do is visit the registrar’s office at that university and ask the people working there the questions that you have about their job.

    8. Artemesia

      I once managed an admissions office that worked closely with a registrar’s office and thus observed what they do. There are crazy busy times of year: notably these are the time around registration — a few weeks before and after and the weeks leading up to graduation where students have to be certified to graduate. During these times there is a lot of student contact although within the office some people are more engaged with this than others.

      During other times, things were also busy as the process of vetting people for graduation goes on all year — the college I worked with only allowed people who graduated to walk and so students had to be notified the semester before the semester they graduated of any outstanding requirements so they could fix that during the final semester. (nothing like grandma flying to the city to witness a graduation at a prestigious institution that wasn’t happening, especially if grandma was a major donor) The registrar’s office was also in charge of producing the schedule and catalogue and this was an ongoing process with deadlines all year long. They also managed academic appeals. There was also a fair amount of engagement with faculty around advising, training for advising, student probations and the like. My impression was that most of the people in the office had student contact and some roles it was the primary thing they did, so knowing the specific roles is important.

    9. SouthernBelle

      I used to work as an Assistant Registrar (easily the position that most regret leaving) and I LOVED it!! The only reason I left is because my boss was unbearable.

      I was hired in a customer service manager position and promoted about 3 months later into the Assistant Registrar position. Day to day, you’re dealing with the students, administration, faculty, and other departments, and even in a clerk type position, you have a lot of information that you need to know and apply (even if just on a superficial level). The busy times are generally registration, de-registration (if your school does that), withdrawal/drop time and graduation. Since the registrar’s office is pretty much the nerve center of a lot of the academic operations, down time is rare. I experienced a ton of satisfaction though. I still have letters that I received from administrators and students thanking me for the problem solving that I did to help them with whatever issue they presented. Turnover was pretty nonexistent (state job) so you were stuck with your bad apples until they were ready to move on; most of the staff had been there for 10 – 20 years and all planned to retire there.

      Sigh… I miss that position.

  9. Lunaire

    My gross coworker came back from his vacation bearing a gift for me. A wrapped gift. Just for me. Nothing for everyone else. It was creepy and I managed to stand up for myself for once (after hiding in the restroom for a while) and I told him flatly that it was completely inappropriate and he should take it back. He refused to take it back but at least he’s been avoiding me all week, which is awesome. I hope it lasts. Thanks for giving me courage, everyone.

      1. AnonyMOOSE

        I would just throw it out or donate it, if it’s worth donating. If he doesn’t want it, he doesn’t get it.

    1. A. D. Kay

      Let your manager know he tried to give you a gift. In fact, since Creepyhead refused to take it back, you can use it as evidence.

      1. Chinook

        Not only would I tell your manager about the gift, but I would unwrap it in front of her so that you can both see what it is (because a) I am curious too and b) the content of the gift may really up the creep factor).

          1. The Real Ash

            I third the motion. Motion carries.

            (I am so sorry you have to go through this. It’s just terrible when people take advantage of others’ “inability” to stand up to huge levels of creepiness. Also please tell us what it was!)

            1. Lunaire

              I will dig out the gift from the paper trash tonight and check it out. Also definitely emailing my manager (who is also his manager) but I’m a remote employee so sadly I can’t really have him there when I will open the package.

              If my manager was on site I bet all this situation would play out very differently.

              1. Gene

                Since your manager can’t be there, video the opening. Also, have witnesses (other than Mr. Creepypants) there when you open it. You can decide after opening if your manager needs to see the video.

    2. Not So NewReader

      Good for you. Not easy stuff at all. But he is the one who is out of line, keep telling yourself that.

      The few times I have had a boss or a coworker give me a gift it was never wrapped and there was an explanation, such as a holiday or a special “thanks”. I noticed how things were not wrapped and I concluded that is because it makes the gifting less awkward. I could immediately see what the item was, no awkwardness while fussing with wrapping paper.

  10. Anonymous

    Need some perspective:

    I left a company a few months ago because it was a financially sinking ship and the commute was awful. The new company Iwork for pays well, is closer to home, and has better benefits. Overall it’s what I was looking for. The only thing that has been making me doubt my decision lately is that the culture is seemingly welcoming and collaborative but in truth, a lot of the people I work with seem unhappy to help or provide guidance, communicate poorly, and come off as rude.

    It seems like when help is needed there is a resentment to show a new person how to do something because it requires time and effort. I think it is also because the environment encourages people to be “empowered” which seems to be translating to “figure it out yourself like we had to”. Overall I have recieved positive feedback so far. What is bugging me is the fact that sometimes people’s rude responses or reactions are making me feel uncomfortable. I feel dumb and vulnerable in these situations which is making me question if I am the problem or if this is a bad cultural fit.

    I was used to an environment where we openly worked together to solve issues and it was expected to be collaborative in this way. For example, in my last job (as a last resort after my own efforts were expended) I could openly ask if anyone knew how to find something on our shared drive or something like that and someone would help. Here, the answer is always, look it up and if you can’t find it, keep looking.

    Is this a normal type of environment to work in? In my field one has to be persisitent to find solutions on their own and it is very technical but if I need help I am not ashamed to ask. Anyone else ever experience this????

    1. Kaz

      It sounds like there is a persistent culture problem there. I would just try to figure out who is not overly burdened by your asking for help and only ask them, and ask only when you have already taken a stab at figuring it out yourself. Also make sure you are thanking them for taking the time to help you, and that you appreciate their guidance as you get up to speed. Perhaps you can take advantage of the Ben Franklin effect. :) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ben_Franklin_effect

    2. Jen RO

      I will say… it depends. A lot of people in my company seemed rude and unhelpful until I realized that they just didn’t like to be interrupted. I started setting up meetings with them, at their convenience, and everything improved. For the small questions like the shared drive one – could you maybe make a longer list and send it to someone once a day or something? (This obviously won’t work for time-sensitive things.)

      In defense of your coworkers, even the most patient person will be driven nuts if interrupted dozens of times a day, and even if it’s your first question, maybe 20 people came before you. (Can you tell I’ve been there, done that? The rudeness is not excusable, though – I always apologize if I can’t help someone right away.)

      1. fposte

        Yeah, I’m going with an “it depends.” I’d say my workplace is collaborative, in that people are eager to partner up on projects and initiatives. It’s not, however, very instructional; new hires generally are expected to self-teach on new tasks and solve things on their own. Showing somebody how to do a task isn’t the same thing as collaboration to me.

    3. Kimberlee, Esq.

      So I have two thoughts on this.

      The first: Is your job super technical or focused in such a way that the people you’re asking legit don’t know the answers? At my previous job, I had certain people I could ask questions to, but for a lot of the work, there was nobody else at the organization that did that work, and I had to figure it out myself. And I definitely detected frustration at times from people who were getting sick of being asked about stuff that they didn’t know how to do, or that they could only give the broadest idea of.

      The second: Did/does the company have high turnover? Or does your department? Maybe people have explained stuff enough times that they just don’t feel like it’s worth the time investment anymore, if they suspect you’ll leave, or they just don’t want to invest their own time into you until it’s clear to them you’re in it for the long haul?

      Either way, it’s unfortunate. :( But at least the indication seems to be that you CAN figure it all out on your own, it’s just faster to have someone tell you?

      1. Anonymous

        Hi! thanks for your thoughts.
        1. It is a very technical field. In my role I am assigned to perform management reporting in a homegrown system that very few people actually know how to use. The system itself is powerful but not intuitive. In the past few months have managed to dig around for information and come up with solutions without too much guidance but there have been times where I cannot for the life of me figure something out at which point i ask the “expert” in this.
        2. I didnt really think about this until you mentioned it but there is no high turnover. However, it is very difficult to attract people to this group. While the work is challenging, it can be daunting and requires very demanding timelines.

    4. LMGTFY

      I’ve been on the other side in a similar situation. I found that I’ve been more willing to help when someone starts the request for information by saying something like, “I’ve done X, Y, and Z to find where the Teapots are located but am at a loss. Could you point me in the right direction?” That way, I know their default mode is to be self-sufficient, but that they’ve just legitimately hit a roadblock.

      (I’m one of those people who will respond with a link to Let Me Google That For You when asked a question about something someone could have easily been found on their own.)

      1. Anonymous

        Definitely agree with you on letting the person know you have actually tried.

        In other instances it hasn’t been a matter of guidance on a project or issue, it has been as simple as asking who the appropriate contact is for whatever task I am working on. Our group does similar work and works with a lot of the same people and I would think that asking who is the right person to contact about this issue would be met with a simple answer. Sometimes looking up the address list in Outlook is not a good way to start, especially in a huge company.

    5. Not So NewReader

      I think there is a lot of places out there like this.

      A couple of suggestions that may only work over a period of time, if ever:

      1) Watch how your relationships with people are going. Learn something about each person and remember it. Joe has model airplanes that he flies. Sue is raising lambs. Whatever. Make small talk and show an interest in them. It seems unrelated but when they start thinking of you as an actual person, it will be harder to blow by your questions.

      2) Try to keep a mental list of the real snotty people. For your own self-preservation try not to ask too much of the real snotty people. Once you have been there awhile they may warm up to you. So try to give them the benefit of the doubt for the moment, but don’t put yourself in the line of their fire.

      3) Figure out who excels at what. “Gee, Matt the last time I asked you about X, you just had your fingers on the pulse. So I have another question in the same arena.”

      4) If you can, check in with your boss to see if she has ideas or techniques that work give the nature of the environment.

      5) Give them about 12-14 months. Not kidding. The last time I encountered this one it was just over a year. On the plus side, I never had to go back to where I once was with the folks. It was over. If you get new hires, be aware and be friendly. This will help you to feel less isolated, too.

    6. C Average

      Ouuuuch. I read ‘ “empowered” which seems to be translating to “figure it out yourself like we had to”’ and instantly recognized certain aspects of my company.

      This would not fly everywhere, so I’m not out-and-out suggesting it; I’m just relating something that happened to me.

      I’ve been on the other side of this. I get wrapped up in my work and can be unapproachable. Most of what I know I’ve figured out for myself. As a result, I can be downright gruff with newbies.

      There’s a woman in my department who did something I consider really gutsy. One day, after I’d rebuffed one of her efforts to get information from me, she approached my desk and said, “Can we talk for a few minutes?” Her body language made it clear she meant “Can we go to an empty conference room or somewhere else private for a few minutes?” I agreed, and we found a private space.

      She said something like this: “You know, you’ve been here for a long time and you might not know how you come across. When I come to you with questions, you make me feel like I’m bothering you and you wish I’d go away. I’m not trying to be a pain in your ass. I’m just trying to become competent at my job as quickly as possible and you know things that I need to know, things that aren’t documented anywhere. Can you please at least be polite to me and help me? I don’t want to take up a lot of your time, but there are answers I need that only you have.”

      I felt like SUCH a horrible person. She was totally right.

      We developed a mutually helpful, respectful relationship and are actually good friends now. In a weird twist of fate, we’re on the same team now in parallel roles, and she helped onboard me! She was WAY better at answering my questions than I was about answering hers.

      If any of these people seem like otherwise decent people who are just a little dense, you might try being straightforward with them at an opportune moment.

    7. MissDisplaced

      I’m fairly new to my company and it is also much like this. I wouldn’t say people are rude, but they are often unhelpful. The company is huge, and it is difficult to know who or even which department handles certain tasks.

      That being said, I don’t blame the co-workers… everyone has much work and answering my email can mean them getting sucked into something they’re not really equipped to do. I try to always preface my requests with an “I don’t know if you’re the right person or department that handles these requests. If you’re not, can you please point me to the right area” type of thing. It helps also to admit you’re new. I’m quite sure I feel “dumb” at least once or twice a week! :-)

      As for the culture, well in one of my orientations they admitted that the company culture about information is more of a “pull” than “push,” and the employee is expected to seek their own answers and solutions. Unfortunately, this can mean a great deal of frustration when you’re new and don’t know where to turn! But be patient, it won’t be that way forever. It’s never “dumb” to ask questions. Even if you feel they’re being rude or abrupt, just be polite and thank them for their time anyway.

  11. Cruciatus

    And secondly… I may have inadvertently lied on the job application for the place I’m interviewing next week. A supplemental question asked about Banner experience. I Googled it and saw it come up with other words like “Portal” and “Jenzabar” which is what we use at work, so I said I had experience with it. Yesterday, while starting to prepare more for the interview, I looked further into Banner and I found a university that had an instructional guide to Banner and…it’s not anything like what I use. I can hope there are different uses for Banner but I’m not sure. On our “Portal” (“powered by Jenzabar”) I post schedules and PowerPoints for the students. It’s not really a database, like what Banner looks to be. I don’t input student info (but maybe the registrar here does?). I only have access to certain features like schedules and HR’s tab, the library’s tab and so on. I really didn’t mean to mislead them–I thought they were similar things.

    Can anyone tell me more about actual every day university Banner uses and maybe how should I address this when it comes up in the interview (which it will since they made a specific question about it).

    1. TotesMaGoats

      They probably use Banner as their database of record. This means it’s the one place that holds ALL student information. It’s what the government audits. I’ve never used Banner but I know it’s similar to Peoplesoft and Datatel. I’ve use those. Usability should be on par with most corporate database systems.

      I would be upfront that you answered the question incorrectly. I wouldn’t say you were confused. If you’ve worked with Banner, you’d know you worked with Banner. But use it as an opportunity to talk about your computer experience. They’ll want someone who can pick it up quickly if they don’t already know the system.

    2. ElinR

      Even if Banner is a similar program to what you used before, you don’t have experience in it. They weren’t asking for Banner or similar, so from my perspective you lied.

      I would handle this as any lie, come clean and be mortified.

      1. Cruciatus

        Oh, I am mortified. Not that it’s an excuse, but I applied months ago and totally forgot about the whole thing and had to look up what position I applied to when I got the call. So now that an interview is actually scheduled I’m quite anxious–mostly about this. I am usually honest to a fault on those things despite having people tell me to lie so that my application isn’t trashed right away. On that particular day I must have just thought “close enough” and went on with my life. Don’t worry–not a mistake I’ll make twice.

      2. fposte

        As an HM, I wouldn’t consider this a lie; I’d consider it an error, so long as it was quickly and honestly corrected. I’d fully understand if a candidate said “It turns out the system we’re using that I thought was Banner is actually Gryzpf, so I’m afraid need to update to say that I haven’t had direct experience with Banner.”

        1. Cruciatus

          Thanks for saying this. I will tell them I misunderstood and what my true experience is and hopefully move on without dwelling too much on it (as I have been today so far…).

    3. Carrie in Scotland

      Yes I would say that you answered incorrectly about Banner but you have done x and y in other, similar systems.

    4. Libby

      My campus uses Banner. I think TMG is right that they probably use it as the main database. From your post, it sounds like you might have been using a course-management system rather than a campus-information system; I can’t quite tell. I think Banner can do course-management stuff, but my campus doesn’t use it for that. I think you would do well in the interview to ask questions about how this role uses Banner so that you can speak about your experience doing similar tasks. Don’t try to cover your inexperience.

    5. CTO

      I used Banner several years ago (I was a student worker in the university’s IT department). It was our backend database for many aspects of student/staff information. In particular, it handled registration and grades/transcripts, payroll, HR, financial aid, etc. There’s a user access aspect but it’s not for daily class/learning management like Blackboard, Moodle, etc. would be. From my limited use of it, Banner was pretty easy to learn if you’ve had experience with similar databases. Given your role you’d probably mostly be using it for data entry.

    6. Anon College AA

      We use Banner at the college I work at. Its a database, and unless a user front end has been put on it, it is not user friendly at all, IMO. I use the financial end of it, not the student/registration end of it, so I can’t tell you much about that. Do you still have a copy of the job description? Is Banner under the “required” or the “recommended” requirements. Even though its not that hard to learn if you are good at taking notes and writing down the random strings of letter you have to type to get to the screen you need, you may be out of luck if they consider prior experience with Banner an absolute must-have.

      Basically, do you enter data into any kind of database now, or run reports off a database? That’s what you’d be doing with Banner. Can you talk about how you learn new software, etc as an talking point when they bring it up?

      1. Cruciatus

        The job ad prefers Banner experience but it wasn’t a must-have requirement. However, it’s obviously very important to them since it was a supplemental question.

        The only thing I run reports off is the Scantron machine. When I worked in a library I did have to enter bibliographic information into the correct spots so searches could be run on the info later. But that’s about it. Crap.

      2. C Average

        +1 on Banner not being super user-friendly, and +1 to citing general database experience you’ve got. I occasionally use SAP where I work, and it reminds me of Banner in the sense that it does a jillion different things and the ability to do one thing with it doesn’t negate the need to be trained if you’re going to do something else with it. I wouldn’t think Banner experience specifically would be critical unless they’re looking for someone who’s already familiar with the specific Banner functions of the role. Otherwise, even if you have Banner experience, you’re going to need more training for the job-specific processes.

        1. Kelly L.

          This. There’s just so much Banner stuff that they’ll have to train you on how to do their specific thing anyway.

  12. Anon for This

    Does anyone have any experience with disclosing mental health issues at work? After a lot of stalling and struggling and internal debate, I’ve finally gone through my EAP to get an appointment set up with a therapist to get evaluated for ADHD and to handle the depression I’ve been experiencing, and I’ve got a feeling that disclosure of at least some of what’s going on is going to be in my near future.

    I’ve already done the disclosure jig once, for a lesser issue (insomnia), and my overall sense was that while my boss was sympathetic, he also didn’t take it very seriously. He had my work evaluated for a couple days to make sure that sleep deprivation wasn’t making me fudge up, and then declared that I was fine, the evaluation period was over, and it should be smooth sailing going forward. He’s also made it really clear that he basically doesn’t want to be ever discussing anything related to medical or accommodation issues with me unless a member of HR is present, which makes it really hard to check in — instead of just stopping by to have a short talk with him about anything, I have to make it a full-blown meeting on the schedule with a member of HR and that means a couple days lag time.

    The insomnia thing is under pretty good control as a rule, so it doesn’t come up as an issue often, but the rest of it… I’m pretty nervous about how this is going to shake out with my job and my relationship with my boss.

    1. The Cosmic Avenger

      Well, if he is acting like that, can you tell him you have a new issue that you will explain more if he wants to arrange a meeting to include HR (as he requested), but you’re going to need X accommodation (time off, extra time for assignment, etc)? If he’s averse to discussing personal issues, maybe that can work in your favor? You won’t be taking advantage, but in a way *you* will be accommodating *him*, by only telling him what he needs to know. :)

      1. Anon for This

        That’d be nice! We’ve already locked horns a bit over my productivity, before my friends sat me down and went “You know, a lot of the stuff you’re complaining about fits symptoms of ADHD, you might want to get evaluated for that.” So my big worry right now is that he’s just going to see it as another sign of me dodging responsibility and not as a legitimate health issue (if indeed that is the problem).

    2. AndersonDarling

      I believe ADHD is covered by ADA, but I don’t think insomnia is. So they should take ADHD more seriously.
      Talk to HR and make sure they are aware, especially if you need any accommodations to do your work: headphones, small breaks, a silent workspace…

      1. Anon for This

        That’s what I’m hoping for. Headphones would be nice – right now they only let us cover one ear/have one earbud in, and having music in one ear and coworker conversations in the other isn’t much of a step up.

        1. Bea W

          If having certain accommodations related to a medical condition would help you, it’s worth disclosing. Personally, I choose not to disclose unless whatever I’m experiencing requires some adjustments in my work environment or schedule that I don’t have the flexibility to manage on my own.

      2. fposte

        ADA doesn’t explicitly cover anything except for HIV–there’s no other condition that’s automatically in or out.

  13. YouWillNeverWorkInThisTownAgain

    How do you all feel about managers/supervisors having personal friendships with their subordinates? Do you feel like it inevitably gets in the way of work stuff, or enhances the professional relationship?

    1. Kaz

      I would advise that you avoid it. It just makes things more difficult if your ‘friends’ are then not performing well, taking liberties, etc. Plus if you are friendlier with some subordinates and not others, there will be a lot of resentment about favoritism. (Seeing a lot of that at my work right now.)

    2. Emmaloo

      I think having a cordial, friendly relationship is important, but I have found that actual friendship is much more difficult and puts a strain on both the social and work relationships.

    3. Kai

      I’ve seen it work, but only rarely. You really have to have good communication skills and know where to draw the line–when to communicate as friends and when to communicate purely as boss/employee. I think it can be hard to balance, especially if one of you screws up at work and it ends up burdening the other person. Plus it can very easily lead to favoritism.

    4. TotesMaGoats

      I probably wouldn’t want to hire someone who was a friend first but I have friendships with all my staff and don’t see an impact. There is balance and boundaries to navigate but it’s not impossible.

    5. Jen RO

      If both people are mature enough, it should not get in the way. I was friends with my team lead and it actually helped in our professional interaction. I think it can be tricky to hire people who are already friends of yours, especially close friends. I would stay away from that.

      I don’t think it’s mandatory to be *friends* with everyone on your team, but I personally need a friendly and relaxed work environment. I have withdrawn from several interview processes because the manager seemed too “managerial”.

      1. Ali

        I would try to avoid it. My last manager appeared to be friends with a couple of my team members, and it never looked good to those of us who weren’t near the main office and so forth. At times it came off like he played favorites.

        One of my peers was just promoted to my boss’s old job and it was definitely awkward at first, though he is good at his new role. I just keep it cordial with him but probably won’t be “friends” with him till one of us resigns. My old boss has been gone a month now and I’m just getting around to adding him on social networks to keep in touch.

    6. Anon for this

      I work in a staff of 5 others that do similar work as me. But we all have our own specialties. I have one peer that overlaps with me on an area of our work and she has been around for nearly 20 years, my boss just as long. Those two have become friends and I would say that it detracts from the work because when my peer needs to be put in her place, my boss isn’t always willing to do so. Overall it works, but many work conversations are taken over by personal converstations and although I’m the queen of shiny objects, even that gets annoying sometimes.

    7. Elizabeth West

      It depends on the boss and the company. The manager absolutely has to be able to step back and handle professional matters impersonally, however. I was friendly with the boss before the last one (we’re still friends, in fact), and she had NO trouble schooling me if I screwed up. But I’ve seen other bosses do it and it gets completely out of control–they wimp out and let their buddies get away with murder.

      Overall, I wouldn’t recommend it, but if you do, at least stay off friending them on Facebook, etc. I never add any coworkers/bosses to social media unless one of us has left the job and/or we’re no longer working together.

    8. Lily in NYC

      We’ve discussed this before – I think it was last year, and I got so much crap for posting about my boss becoming one of my best friends. Almost everyone told me it was a pipe dream that would blow up in my face and would foster resentment with his other reports. Anyway, we’ve been together for 7 years and it’s still going great. There’s no resentment because I act as his assistant and am not competing for promotions. No problems whatsoever except that I think he is going to quit soon and I will probably leave too because I can’t imagine working here without him (and for other reasons).

    9. HAnon

      Ugh. My current manager just hired someone from another department who used to be a peer and a friend of hers, and the friend is now working directly under my boss. It has been so tense in the office since she started. They are not getting along and are not adjusting well to the new dynamic at all. If my coworker actually sticks it out, I doubt they will be friends after she leaves this job. There are only 3 of us in the department including my boss, and it is super awkward.

    10. MaryMary

      I became friends (good friends, but not best friends) with a coworker who was later promoted to be my boss. We were able to stay friends and not let it impact our jobs, but it was difficult sometimes. We set certain boundaries and were direct with each other about it. “I am telling you this as my manager, not my friend.” I think it also helped that we were able to leave professional disagreements at work, and we aren’t the type to have drama in our friendship. We were also careful not to be too chummy in the office. She has relaxed, friendly management style in general, and our company was very egalitarian. But we didn’t broadcast it if we went out for drinks after work, or caught a ballgame on the weekend.

      1. Not So NewReader

        This. It is additional work in the relationship. And there has to be a friend/employee on/off switch. If one is switched to the on position the other has to go off. Otherwise you end up with two friends fighting over their work.

    11. WanderingAnon

      I agree with the other replies. It’s a fine line, and most friendships won’t survive the realities of performance management. That said, I manage someone I used to work with (for 8 years) at another company – in fact, I hired her. But most of the reason I felt comfortable hiring her for this position is that A) she stood out head and shoulders above other candidates for 2 of the most important qualifications we were looking for, B) the developer teams took to to her immediately and C) the hiring committee was similarly impressed.

      We had also talked at our previous job about if we would be comfortable working for each other. We were.

      So I would say we’re still friends, but the friendship has changed. We’re both mindful of the power difference and the need to be professional and get work done. I personally would not hesitate to have a tough conversation with her if things weren’t going well.

    12. C Average

      I am on the fence about this, honestly.

      My manager is very good friends with several people on our team. Facebook is full of pictures of them hanging out together evenings and weekends, and it’s clear that they have a strong rapport, which is . . . great for them. Sincerely.

      My manager has also made strong overtures to be my friend. She sent me a Facebook friend invite almost immediately upon being hired, and she always invites me to go out with her and our other colleagues. The thing is, I don’t really want to. I’m kind of a homebody. My friendships tend to be long, deep, and few in number, and I’ve always been fine with that. My colleagues have always been pretty solidly in the well-liked acquaintance category, and I like it that way.

      It does feel like others have more access to her than I do from a professional standpoint because they’ve chosen to cultivate a personal friendship. This makes me uncomfortable and feels like a no-win situation: either I accept a friendship I don’t really want, or I accept that I have less standing with my boss because I’ve chosen to keep things arms-length.

      It’s not horrible or anything, but I don’t love it.

      tl;dr = these relationships can have ripple effects on the whole team–be aware of that.

    13. Schmitt

      I had a coworker-friend. I don’t remember the exact timeline now, whether we were friendly before I was promoted over him or whether it coalesced afterwards. But we enjoyed each others’ company, and our spouses also hit it off, so at some point I opened up the “you guys are important to me, but I’m your boss, but it’s awfully rare to find friends you click so well with, so what do you think?” conversation. And we decided to give it a try, not without reservations on my part.

      It wasn’t an issue at work even when there was some critical feedback. I am a cranky boss; was before the friendship, was after – one time his wife did ask me to not be cranky at him so much ;)

      I ended up having to lay him off. I fought harder to try to keep him than the other guy we laid off, but I’d been trying to convince my bosses to fire the other guy for four years, so I think that was OK, cough cough. He handled it with grace. The month where I knew he was going to be laid off but it hadn’t been announced, though – that was hell on my nerves.

      However. Now that he is no longer working under me, the friendship is /so much easier/.

    14. Rebecca

      I’m against it. My manager hired a friend, and this friend is a low performer in our office, and has been for years. Manager constantly covers for her, to the extent that she has stripped her workload down to a fraction of what the rest of us handle, fixes her mistakes, assigns people to sit with her to make sure she’s doing things correctly, etc. This has been going on for over 15 years now. To say that the rest of us resent this is an understatement. Many of us refuse to fix her messes any longer and won’t point out her errors; we just let them go for everyone to see. It’s getting very hard for our manager to shield her friend, but again, not our problem.

  14. Christian

    I talked to my boss today and told him that I want to resign in december – he recieved it well, but I still feel guilty. He is a really good boss and I like to work for him, but my fiance is moving and I want to move with her.
    Since I have no job lined up, I have to start tje job search know – since I want to move to similar but different field, that feels like the plunge into the deep dark ocean.

    On the other hand, a really great firm contacted me today and offered me my dream job – unfortunately, it is far away, so no chance to get that job. I like the offer though, since it proves that I can move into my dream field, if I find a firm in my new home region.

    1. Kaz

      I’m not sure what your question is, but I would definitely express to the dream job company that you really appreciate the offer, and it unfortunately won’t work out right at the moment as you’re moving to X City, and ask if they have any opportunities there, and if not, you would love to work with them in the future if it aligns with your future plans. They may have a recommendation or be able to offer some information about stuff in your new city.

    2. StudentA

      Well, it sounds like you’re in a good, albeit thrilling, place! It’s a buyer’s market, so congrats on being a highly desirable candidate, and one with a guaranteed great reference to boot ;)

  15. College Career Counselor

    You could look at Karen Kelsky’s “The Professor Is In” blog. While is suspect the audience is mostly grad students/new PhDs (she runs a consulting business, too), perhaps there is something there for the more seasoned PhD holder. Kelsky herself gave up a tenured position after 15 years of teaching, so perhaps she’d be a place to start?

    Good luck!

    1. Trixie

      thank you! I think she’s looking for any insight from C.V. reviews to transferable skills to selling herself as an active and seasoned employee.

      1. College Career Counselor

        Trixie,

        She may also benefit from some books such as “What are you going to do with that?” basalla and debelius. Bethany Nowviskie has a blog on alt-ac careers (I haven’t read much of it, so I can’t comment authoritatively) which may also have some info, although she’s in the humanities. She could also look at the Chronicle of Higher Education CV doctor column archives (Julie Miller Vick and Jennifer Furlong, from U of PA grad career services run that column).

  16. AnonyMOOSE

    My husband has been unemployed since last summer as he focused on school and later to be a stay-at-home-dad while I worked. After he left school, we decided it would be best if he just stayed home full-time rather than him working and us having to pay for childcare.

    Now that we have moved and are living close to family and have easy access to free childcare, he wants to look for a part-time (10-20 hours) just so he can have a break during the week. The problem is his resume. He has an AA in a field he doesn’t want to pursue. His jobs don’t really connect, and like I mentioned, there is a significant time gap on his resume.

    He and I are not sure how to address this because we know that because he hasn’t worked for the past year, most employers won’t consider him for an interview. We want to communicate that the gap was intentional rather than forced but aren’t sure how to go about it.

    Any advice is greatly appreciated as we are both feeling stuck.

    1. BRR

      You could possibly mention it in the cover letter. There’s a lot of information out there for how stay at home parents should handle the issue.

    2. Trixie

      Agree with BRR. If he can make it clear in the cover letter he’s looking for just PT hours at this time, he’ll be fine.

      My local YMCA is often looking for PT help, and the upside is includes membership and free childcare. I know you don’t need the latter but its nice to know its there. Or maybe your local Trader Joe’s/Whole Foods, college/university, places that typically hire PT help on a regular basis. Around October he might even inquire with Costco (or whatever you have locally) for seasonal PT help. They often keep folks on after the holidays.

    3. Clever Name

      When I went back to work 2 years after my son was born, I just said in my cover letter something along the lines of, “After taking some time off to have a baby, I’m excited to get back into Field X”. I think your husband could say something similar. “After taking some time off to be a stay-at-home-parent……”

  17. Eva

    Recently on reddit I came across a few managers (all INTP personality types) talking about how they wish they didn’t have to actually manage people. It’s very brief, but I thought some people might find it interesting to see a few (presumably) bad managers commiserate with one another:

    Person #1
    “Did this resonate with any other managers: ‘I feel awkward and drained when managing other people and telling them what to do. I wish they could just do their own thing like I do my own thing.’
    I’m in an executive role at work and I wish everyone would just go do their work and leave me alone to do mine! This is how I want to be managed and I (foolishly) wish everyone else were similar.”

    Person #2
    “Manager here. That completely epitomizes how I feel about managing other people. The other day my “employee” asked me if we could have more regular meetings to discuss the work she’s doing. I was taken aback completely!”

    I semi-seriously want to have these people do an AMA (“Ask Me Anything”). Not sure if others are as fascinated by this glimpse into such managers’ brains as I am, but thought I’d post it here in case they/you are.

    Source: http://www.reddit.com/r/INTP/comments/2cymy1/a_new_test_to_help_figure_out_if_youre_intp_or/cjkiek0

    1. Jen RO

      I don’t know why you assume they are bad managers. Feeling drained does not mean that you don’t do your job as a manager – in fact, I think they *are* doing their job and that’s what makes them feel so drained.

      1. Eva

        You are right that I am making an assumption. However, I’m not just making it because they are feeling drained, but because they express a preference for managing in a laissez-faire way. Reading their comments, I am skeptical that they make sure to give their employees enough feedback, for instance, since one was “taken aback” when an employee expressed a desire for regular meetings to discuss their work. Perhaps “bad” is too strong a term given that we don’t have much information to go on, but I definitely get the sense that they are not managing in a way that AAM would approve of.

        1. Jen RO

          I would probably be one of these managers, if I ever got to that level. I also prefer to be managed like the first redditor described – my manager pretty much tells me what result he wants and that’s it – it’s my responsibility to go to him if I’m having trouble, not his responsibility to come to me. I’m in a quasi-team-lead role at the moment and it’s pretty tiring to have to ask the new hires every day if they did this and that. I was under the impression that once a deadline is decided, they will keep it in mind and work towards it… but I think they are too new to the corporate world/this company to realize what’s important and what’s not. Most day I dearly wish I could put on my headphones and ignore everyone! (Hence my post below where I rejoice about my day alone in the office.)

          The second post is a bit weird, I agree. I would probably hate those regular meetings, but I do understand they are useful… so I’d just grin and bear.

          1. Bea W

            Same – because I do find it draining, but that doesn’t mean that I would be bad at managing. These are two separate things. No doubt some of these types of people are bad managers, just like any personality type. There are also things that people just don’t really like doing, but they do them because it is part of the job, and they may even do them well. Liking something isn’t a requirement for being good at it.

          2. Eva

            “it’s my responsibility to go to him if I’m having trouble, not his responsibility to come to me.”

            I think both managers quoted above would be chagrined that you came to them if you were having trouble though. It seems like they’d rather not get involved in their employees’ work *at all*. At least that’s how I’m reading it.

      2. Kai

        Yeah, I’d agree with this. I had a very enlightening conversation with my own boss a few weeks ago in which he told me he actually really dislikes being a manager. He has weak areas, for sure, but in all he’s not a “bad” manager in my opinion.

        But the Reddit conversation does sound very interesting and it makes a lot of sense to me. Management may come with some level of power, but it also comes with a lot of headaches.

        1. Pontoon Pirate

          Well, being a weak manager can translate into being a “bad” manager. Not a bad person or a bad employer, mind you, but a bad manager. It just means that person is not good at this aspect of work at this moment in time. I used to be “bad” at Photoshop. Now I’ve improved to merely “meh” at it. :)

    2. The IT Manager

      While I am somewhat horrified by these responses by “managers”, I can somewhat relate.

      I am finding myself involved in technical meetings just to get the conversations started. I wish I could say, “I need you to do this” and my people would do it and keep me updated on progress. I don;t think the “this” I am asking for is really outside their duties, but maybe I am wrong because it seems like if I am not their nothing happens.

      I don’t think I an inadvertently being a micro-manager, but sometime I feel like if I weren’t here my own team would just stop because no would step up and take charge. (To be clear my bosses would probably have to come in a make the work continue.)

    3. M. in Austin!

      Thanks for the link!

      Maybe they prefer the business side of being a manager and not the people side? I’m grasping at straws.

      1. Eva

        My own random guess is they’ve been promoted to management because they excelled at the work itself, but really they should’ve remained in a non-management role. But I don’t know – that’s why I’d be curious to pick their brains further!

        1. Anonsie

          This is the rub with a lot of people– you want to go up, you have to be managing other people. Which… Really shouldn’t be the case.

          My partner is up for promotion and has two places he can go: higher-level tech or manager. He’s technically skilled but not good with people or interested in managing, however they need more supervisory roles and are more than willing to put him in one soon. I think this is a really bad idea… I am sure he will be hiring people and managing them by the end of the year, though.

      2. straws

        Please don’t grasp me :(

        I do know a number of people who love managing projects/data/etc, but not people. I could definitely envision some of them behind these reddit comment!

    4. Ask a Manager Post author

      I think, too, that even people who are good at their jobs have days when they just want to scream about some particular aspect of it. Or feel like if they never have to do X again, it will be too soon. It can come across weirdly when the job in question is managing, though.

      I’ve spent the last few years not managing (until a month ago) and I have to say, it was pretty damn awesome not to have to do all the stuff that managers have to do, and I’m someone who likes managing. It was like getting to put down a heavy package that I’d been carrying for years. I still like that package and its contents and usually don’t mind carrying it, but it does get heavy at times and I can totally see letting off steam about it.

      Now, that said, those managers being quoted sound like they might be crappy managers with bad instincts.

        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          I took on a management role for a client I’ve worked with for a long time, so it’s basically an expansion of the work I was doing with them. I’m still a consultant, but we added in me managing a staff person there.

    5. Rat Racer

      I think it’s fair to say that managing is at times draining for everyone. I had to have a tough talk with an employee yesterday; he has explicitly stated that his goal is to be promoted next year, and from what I’ve seen so far this year, it’s clear that he’s not ready. (Earlier in the year, a promotion for him seemed more promising, but then another member of my team left, and it became clear that the departing team member was doing a lot of editing/coaching; without that filter, the other team-member’s work totally tanked).

      Breaking bad news is totally draining – I was exhausted for the rest of the afternoon.

    6. MaryMary

      A lot of people become managers because they’re good at their job, but many times the skillset for being good at your job and the skillset for being a good manager are not the same. Most managers get little, if any, training to build that managerial skillset. Those who do get some sort of training usually have it focused more on project management or financial management than people management. I did get formal training on how to manage people, and it was mostly on how to use the performance management system, how to review timecards, and how to follow labor laws and keep the company out of legal trouble. There was a brief section on motivating people, but all I remember from that is that Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs was involved.

      As other people have said, managing people is challenging even if your enjoy it and have a natural aptitude. Managers are usually contributing directly to the business as well, doing whatever they did before they got promoted, and that can be tremendously hard to balance. I’m not at all surprised that some managers find the experienced awkward and draining.

    7. Not So NewReader

      All I could think of is reading about a survey that said 80% of parents regreted having children.

      There’s a parallel here that if you start to consider the awesome size of the responsibility you have taken on as a manager that might give you cause to pause, too. I don’t think that people who regret having kids or being managers are necessarily bad at what they are doing. It could just be that they are realizing how much they feel they should do and yet don’t do. It could be that they are facing complexities that they never, ever anticipated. Or it could be that they are facing demands that is way out beyond their skill sets.

      I think there are very few managers out there that have never once said “I wish I wasn’t a manager today because today I have to X and I am not sure if I can bring myself to do it.”

      1. Lee

        I am a teacher and I’ve just stepped up to be a team leader (out of the classroom, managing other teachers, performance etc). When I was teaching, I essentially did what was asked of me. If there were very small problems with other staff members, we sorted it. I’m guessing it’s stuff like this that got me promoted, but I’m always a little shocked when other people aren’t the same. Some people on my team run to the team leader for every little thing, even simple issues that, as professionals, they really should be able to problem solve themselves. I guess this is the thing with managers, as someone said above, they’re probably in that job because they excelled at the skill set. I suppose sometimes it’s tiring or challenging when managing others who don’t have the same initiative, drive etc that you do.

        I guess the point I’m trying to make is, I imagine I’ve always been a fairly easy employee to manage because when a task is set, I do it, and to the best of my ability, with as much independence as possible/appropriate. I’m still a bit surprised to find others can find that so hard to do themselves.

        (Not sure if I’m making sense here- I hope so).

      2. C Average

        YES. I actually came here to say that I thought there were likely some parallels to parenting (or stepparenting, as is my situation).

        When it is your role to be available, helpful, and supportive of other people, it’s so hard sometimes. You have to tamp down your own fear, misgiving, displeasure, exhaustion, frustration, etc., and put that person’s needs ahead of your own comfort. It’s not for everyone.

        As a part-time stepmom and as someone who occasionally acts in a project-manager capacity but has no direct reports, I can say that this small taste of parenthood and management has persuaded me that I don’t want more than I have of either. I will stick with cat owner and individual contributor.

  18. Aunt Vixen

    I am finishing up my second full week at my new job.

    The second day here was better than the last day at my old job. The learning curve has been shallow and totally easy to navigate, and I felt instantly at home with the team in a way I never got to feeling at the old place (despite there being some people there I liked very much), even after almost a year.

    I absolutely made the right choice. \o/

  19. Vanilla

    On my team, birthdays/weddings/baby showers are celebrated. For birthdays, someone usually will bake or bring in a cake and arrange a lunch for the birthday person – usually their manager.

    This is the second year in a row that my birthday has been forgotten. I’m not vocal about my birthday, but honestly, when everyone else’s birthday is celebrated but yours, it does hurt a little.

    My boss “remembered” my birthday about a month after it happened and offered to organize a lunch for me, which I declined. She asked if she could make me a cake (she likes to bake) and I said I would love that. Well, needless to say, I’m still waiting for that cake.

    Someone in our department celebrated a birthday this week. This person isn’t on our team anymore, but my boss used to manage them. Anyway, my boss brought in cupcakes and organized a lunch for them. It kind of hurt my feelings.

    I know I should let this go, but it’s yet another reason why I don’t feel like I fit in well with this team. :/

    1. Carrie in Scotland

      That really sucks. I don’t have much to say, other than I’m not sure I fit in with my co-workers very much either. I don’t really have a “team” but instead, support various different people – neither of which are my manager or co-office worker. It’s difficult.

    2. Move along

      I say, bake your own cake! Bring it in and offer it to others, and when they ask the occasion, say you wanted to celebrate yourself!

      1. Vanilla

        I thought about that, but I have to walk several blocks from where I park to my actual office, and it’s a huge pain to carry that along with my lunch, shoes, purse, etc.

        Honestly, I’m hoping this is the last birthday I have to celebrate with this team. I’m interviewing now for other positions, so it may become a reality. :)

    3. HeyNonnyNonny

      My birthday was always on or near the first day of school. As a fellow member of the Forgotten Birthday club, I sympathize. Treat yourself to a nice present!

      1. Vanilla

        #treatyoself
        (Sorry – couldn’t resist including a “Parks and Recreation” reference there. I love that show!)

      2. afiendishthingy

        My mother’s birthday is in August, and as a child she hated that her friends were always on vacation then. So when she went to college, she began telling people her birthday was in April and celebrating it then. When she started dating my father one January, she told him the April birthday… and then again at the end of July she came clean so she could have another celebration. Surprisingly, not a deal breaker.

    4. Ann O'Nemity

      It’s not fun or fair that your birthday is forgotten while everyone else’s is celebrated. That said, I think your options are to speak up next year and notify your team that your birthday is coming up so they don’t forget you, or decide to let it go. Suffering in silence is only going to hurt you.

      1. Vanilla

        That’s a good point. I’m leaning more to the “letting go” option. (Cue music from “Frozen”…haha)

        I think one reason it’s so hurtful is because I used to be the one that organized stuff for everyone else’s birthdays, whether it was purchasing or bake a cake, getting the card, etc. I stopped this after my birthday was forgotten last year (well, that and the fact that I was “voluntold” to organize a co-worker’s baby shower celebration that fell on the same day as my birthday. That was a little extra salt in the wound right there.)

    5. EG

      Bring your own celebration of cake or pie, whether it’s just for you or to share with coworkers you like. Or tell the boss you’re taking a long lunch to treat yourself on your birthday to a nice meal. You deserve to treat yourself, ignore the manager who can’t be bothered to remember.

    6. annie

      I am the person who usually goes and gets the cake at lunchtime for everyone else, and when it is my birthday, it has definitely been forgotten a few times. (Which is crazy because I drop hints all the time the week in advance, knowing this.) What I’ve done is stepped back from organizing things for others. I’ve also taken my birthday as a vacation day once too!

      1. Vanilla

        That’s terrible, annie. :( I’ve done the same thing as well (see my post above) – I had to take a step back and things are “better” now than they were. Good suggestion on taking a vacation day on my actual birthday.

    7. chewbecca

      I can relate. I’ve been in my position for four years, and two of them didn’t receive the customary card.

      Usually, the birthday person’s manager will buy a card and send it around the department for everyone to sign. Years 2 & 3 here, my manager forgot. The first time I shrugged it off, but the second year I took it kind of hard. I felt resentment every time that card came around for one of my coworkers.

      This year I got one, but I have a feeling our HR manager put some pressure on my manager because she knew the situation.

    8. Another J

      This happens to me as well. I think it is because I take the role of remembering everyone else’s birthday in the office and people think that since I do the birthdays, that I do ALL the birthdays. JMO, I think it would be tacky to prepare my own birthday card. They have been conditioned to not think about birthdays until a card is passed to them to sign and an e-mail goes out about it.

      However, I have learned to not complain about it because of the one time when they made me a certificate and misspelled my name on it to congratulate me for working here for several decades. In addition to getting my name wrong, they were off by a few years about my employment date. And one employee who has been working here longer than I have keeps telling new hires that she is the only one who can pronounce my name correctly and then tells them how to mispronounce it just like she does.

  20. C Average

    This is for Fact & Fiction (and anyone else who has successfully written a book or completed another creative endeavor while working full-time).

    How did you get started? Were there any tools, tricks, or tips that really made a difference for you?

    I have a rather good novel that lives in my head, and I’d really like it to live on paper. I’m an html copywriter by day and struggle to be creative and productive in my free time after being creative and productive on the clock all day.

    1. LMW

      You actually need to set aside time to sit down and churn out the words.
      Personally, I MUST have a deadline. I only had four months to write my book (I was approached to write the book as a subject matter expert in a niche topic) and it pretty much consumed my non working hours for that period. But I don’t know if I would have gotten it done if I hadn’t had that pressure. When you don’t have a deadline from a publisher, you could substitute in a writing group (where you are expected to contribute on a regular basis) or you could always national novel writing month to spur you through a rough first draft.

    2. Delurking Librarian

      Well, I haven’t published anything, but have completed several novels while also raising a toddler, working full-time, and freelancing occasionally. For me, the key is to find outside sources to help you stay motivated. If you’re an extrovert, writing organizations and small groups are a great way to meet others and hear about their experiences. If not, that’s OK – there are lots of blogs and online places. Check out Writer Unboxed – http://writerunboxed.com/ I love their motivational posts. The book Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg is also good.

      I try to write every day, but even if I can’t, I consider it progress if I’ve thought about the story in the shower, worked out a plot point, etc. All of that is part of the process.

    3. Lynn Rainham

      I write poetry and fiction while working in PR so I might be able to help you out a smidge.
      The biggest myth out there is you have to write every day. You don’t, but you do have to set aside time to write. I find writing after coming home from work exhausting, however I make a point to set aside Saturday mornings to pick up a pen. As soon I learned there were more professional writers in the same position who used this strategy, it really took a weight off my shoulders.
      That is probably the best tip I can honestly give.

    4. Manders

      I have a full time job and write novels as a hobby (none published or on the road to publication yet… I need to work on my self-promotion skills). I try to write one each calendar year, but I really hit my stride this year and I think I may complete two.

      There isn’t any substitute for sitting down and working really, really hard. I did feel like I improved as a writer when I started using the snowflake method. It’s a technique for outlining your story before you begin, starting with a single sentence premise and getting more complex from there. The outlining process is loads of fun, and if you have a detailed plan you’re less likely to stall out in the middle of your story.

      I also like setting weekly word count goals for myself. I use an excel spreadsheet to track my progress and make pretty graphs so I have visual proof that my novel is growing. I use HabitRPG to reward myself for writing every day.

      I had to tell myself that I wouldn’t go back and edit my work, even for major continuity errors, until I had a complete first draft. There are writers out there who can edit as they work, but I always got stuck picking at the first few chapters until I was sick of them.

      If you have author readings in your area, go to them and ask questions about process. The most successful writers will say they don’t believe in writer’s block. They treat writing as a job, and they sit down and do work every day whether or not they feel like they’re producing their best work. There’s always time to edit later.

    5. Chinook

      I haven’t published anything but Diana Gabaldon is my hero when it comes to getting published. She wrote her first novel because she wanted to see if she could write one and never intended to get it published. 8 novels, 5 or 6 short stories (a.k.a regular length novels), one graphic novel and a tv series later, she has become quite successful.

      Her advice, which has been the same over the last 23 years, has been that you just need to put your butt in a seat and write every day. She started writing when she was the main bread winner as a university professor (her husband was still in school, I think) and had small children and she would carve out time after everyone was in bed and just pound away.

      Her other advice is that there is no right or wrong way – some people plan every detail of the story while she just writes the bits and pieces in her head and then,w hen she has enough, she sews them together so that they make sense. She is also big on research (which is why she chose to do a historical fiction-esque story) but that is more a reflection of who she is than what is needed.

      1. Ms. Anonymity

        I love her! I’ve heard her talk a number of times and think she is down to earth, friendly, and full of great advice and insight. Her books are amazing. When you finish one, you mourn for the “friends” you’re no longer involved with on a day to day basis. For me, that’s what makes an author great.

    6. Elizabeth West

      Butt in Chair.

      It really is that simple. You have to MAKE time to write. If you’re good at switching gears, it’s easy to think of it as working on different projects rather than WORK / NOT WORK, because if you’re creative at work, then you can ride that flow. It’s still work. Also remember that some of writing isn’t necessarily writing–there are thinking times, and outlining times, and research times. But if you want to be good at it or have it happen in the first place, you have to just do it.

      Me, I write at lunchtime and after work (I just can’t manage to do anything in the morning before work–bluuuhh need coffee). At night, I give myself a break of X time to look at facebook, etc., and then the writing begins. And weekends and holidays too.

      Music helps too. I make playlists for books, or listen to a certain album while writing for each one. Once I plug in that music and put on the headphones, it’s easier to plunge into its little world. I just have to watch it so I don’t stay up too late. I still have to be in bed by midnight at the latest or I’m a worthless zombie at work the next day. An alarm on my phone helps when I feel like a writing session is going to be intense and lose track of time.

      You can also set a deadline for yourself, like a mini-NaNoWriMo (it doesn’t have to be a month). That was the ONLY way I was able to finish Tunerville. I didn’t actually sign up for NaNo, but I did my own concurrent with the real one.

    7. AndersonDarling

      Write! Even if you are uninspired that day and what you are churning out is crap. I would force myself to write one day, then rewrite or edit the next day. It is so important to get into a rhythm with your time and to make it part of your daily life. If you get stuck and start writing drivel one day, keep going so you can get through that chapter and come back to it later.
      Do not get stuck doing prep work, you will never get started if you focus on making the perfect workspace (“I need a new lamp before I can start working”) or are trapped in drawing out storylines. The first novel I tried to write, I got no where because I spent weeks drawing characters and maps… they are all in a box and I never wrote one word.
      Just start, then keep going! Once you see you are making progress, you will be motivated to continue!

      1. AndersonDarling

        Oh, and it really, really helps if you have someone interested in what you are writing and you can send them the chapters as you finish them. But only if they really, truly are engaged in your work (just because you married someone doesn’t mean they want to read your book). :)

        Good luck!

      2. C Average

        Hahahaha! Yes. I think Death By Research could definitely befall my would-be novel if I don’t get my butt in gear and WRITE.

    8. Just Visiting

      Probably not what you want to hear, but I can’t go home and be creatively productive (I am also a writer, and have been published, just short stories for now though) after a job where I have to write all day. Things like data entry, filing… those are fine. Higher-level jobs, no way. It’s not a “don’t have time” thing, it’s a “I can’t switch gears” thing. Maybe it doesn’t work this way for everyone, but I feel like I have a certain amount of creativity in a day and once it’s gone, it’s gone. I’ve decided that my writing is more important than anything else in my life so I’ve restricted myself to entry-level jobs and eschewed promotion for the past decade. This isn’t everyone’s path, but it’s mine. Good luck to you.

      1. C Average

        I’ve actually wondered about this. Back in the day I had many mindless, menial jobs and considered a writing job the Holy Grail. But now that I’ve got one, I realize that I did much more creative writing then than I do now. You might be onto something.

        1. QualityControlFreak

          I think there’s some truth to this. I’m a deluxe model multitasker, but I write A LOT at work, and not nearly as much creatively as I did before.

    9. EmmBee

      It’s not what you want to hear, but the truth is, if you really want to write your book, you’ll find the time.

      I work full-time and once had a ghostwriting project (a full YA novel – about 60K words) that I had to write in 5 weeks. It was insanity, and I didn’t take a single day off work to do it. I got up an hour early to write, then came home, allowed myself a dinner break, and wrote for another three hours.

      When you’re not under deadline it can definitely be hard to get motivated, but that’s where daily/weekly word counts come in. Start small – set a goal of 1,000 words the first week, then 1,200, then 1,400, etc. Use the Pomodoro technique if focus is a problem. Use Scrivener to organize your thoughts.

      Butt in chair is the only way to get writing done, imo.

      1. C Average

        I’ve bought Scrivener and taken the tutorial. I don’t find it particularly intuitive or inviting. How long did it take you to get comfortable with it? I’ve always used Word in the past, but I’ve heard such good things about Scrivener I really wanted to give it a try. It feels more like a barrier than an aid so far.

        1. Fact & Fiction

          Ironically, I’ve found the same thing for me. I bought and keep trying to love Scrivener, but I just don’t. :( These days I use Storyist on my iPad (which is very simplistic), and just use Word on my desktop, or sometimes Pagefour, which is a very streamed-down writer’s program.

    10. Fact & Fiction

      Of course I checked for the Open Thread all morning and when I when I was unavailable for a couple hours it showed up. Better late than never, right??? I’ve been writing since I was extremely young, and always had the goal of becoming published someday. It’s not always been an easy path, but it has been worth it, for me. Even now when I’ve been between book contracts for quite some time and trying to land another (not a fun place!).

      I haven’t read any of the other replies yet, but I can certainly tell you what works for me. Keep in mind that I write commercial genre fiction, which is what I love, so most of my advice is geared toward that end. First, you have to figure out whether you want to write simply for the love of it (which is perfectly awesome), or if you want to write with the aim of getting published. You still (in my opinion) need to love it to do it well, but there’s nothing wrong with writing for yourself or just for a smaller audience if you don’t want to be published.

      If you decide you DO want to become published, it helps to read widely; both inside and outside of your genre. When you read inside the genre, you’re picking up on what particular conventions seem to work well in that genre, what tropes might seem over-done, what you think works well versus what doesn’t, etc. Reading widely outside the genre helps you keep your perspective fresh and, in my opinion, helps you learn more about writing. There are a couple of books I found pretty helpful; one being Stephen King’s “On Writing” and the other being GMC: Goal, Motivation, and Conflict by Debra Dixon. I read a few others; but mostly I just read them, took what worked for me, and ignored the rest. I mostly do things instinctively when I write rather than thinking about them too much.

      The other thing that is just as important as reading widely is, of course, to write. Write often, write fearlessly, write badly, write well — just write. Keep in mind that writing is like any other creative endeavor. You’re going to have to put in hours and hours to perfect your craft. Musicians and artists put in tons of time perfecting their art, so writers are no different. Some of what you write will be okay, some will be great, and some of it just may plain suck. But you can’t improve your writing skill if you aren’t actually practicing it. Writing well is as much about re-writing as anything, for most of us; even if you’re lucky enough to write fairly clean first draft.

      You don’t need to write every single day, by any means. You just have to find a consistent writing pattern that works for you and stick to it. I struggle with this sometimes myself due to demands in my life and struggling with anxiety disorder/OCD; but I’m way happier when I’m writing consistently than when I’m not. Also, not-so-shockingly, vastly more productive.

      If you have trouble writing your own stuff after working on HTML writing all day, try and carve out a few hours each weekend where you can get away and just write. If you can, maybe get up a half-hour earlier each work day and do a few paragraphs before work. You could also try doing something completely fun and non-productive right when you get home to unwind from work, and then dedicate just an hour to writing creatively without putting any pressure on yourself.

      We writers have a saying: BIC, which means Butt In Chair. At the heart of the matter, no matter what sort of schedule you set, you DO have to just put that BIC time in if you want to see any forward motion. It doesn’t matter how much or when you do it; just find what works for you. Don’t expect to write perfect prose right away. Try a few smaller projects or free-writing exercises first. Write a single scene with characters who amuse you that you don’t plan to do anything else with. Go against all the advice writing “experts” tend to give you and write out that 50-page infodumpy prologue that gives you, the writer, all the backstory you need to know about your characters–and then find the REAL spot where your story should begin, copy all the extraneous information into a separate file, and go to town having an awesome time torturing your characters.

      Yes, I do enjoy torturing my characters, whether physically or just emotionally, because that tends to be where the best conflict/writing flows from, for me. That’s one reason GMC contains so much awesome advice, in my opinion. It reminds us that what makes for fun reading is connecting with characters who you want to succeed at something, and then spending time watching life try to prevent them from accomplishing that very goal — and seeing the characters succeed anyway. Maybe not easily and maybe not in the way they originally envisioned, but damned well coming out the other side stronger and usually better, in whatever way speaks to that character the most.

      Kind of like real life, for many people, only without most of the normal ho-hum drudgery; and in the genre I write, usually with way more butt-kicking and plain old fun.

      1. C Average

        Lots of great stuff here, and I have (mostly) no intelligent reply other than “thank you.”

        I’m just getting into the Debra Dixon book. Fantastic stuff. It really distills the key elements. I appreciate the recommendation!

        1. Fact & Fiction

          Oh, excellent! I am glad that recommendation was helpful for you. I think that Debra Dixon does a fabulous job getting writers of all levels to really think about what makes for compelling fiction, without getting them TOO bogged down in technicalities.

    11. Kerr

      Not a published writer or anything, but I’ve been writing much more than I used to. Butt-in-chair and actually sitting down to write are important, as everyone says. For you, that may be the weekend, not the weekday.

      My tip? Do NOT go straight from sitting in a chair at work to sitting at home, trying to write. Your body will be cramped and miserable, and of course you won’t be creative or energized! Take time out to do something active, preferably outdoors, to clear your head and exercise your body. I’m doing that, and it’s helped SO much.

    12. C Average

      Thanks, everyone!

      I am honestly not surprised there are so many writers here. I’m consistently amazed and pleased by the quality of writing in the AAM comments section, and it’s a big piece of why I keep coming back.

      I’m seeing a consistent theme here. Pen in hand. Butt in chair. Words on page.

      I know how to do that. I do it at work every day. I need to just do it at home, too. I’m saving the advice you’ve given here to mull over in the coming weeks as I get started and gain momentum.

      (Side note: I’d been strongly considering doing an evening MBA program, mainly because I feel a little stalled career-wise and my employer will pick up a big piece of the tab. But I’m leaning toward NOT doing that. The writing feels much more urgent, and I know I don’t have time to do both plus be present for my family and continue marathon training–two things I WON’T give up. Thanks for helping to validate that impulse with real-life writing advice.)

      1. Fact & Fiction

        Yeah, the BIC time can be the hardest part to implement, even though it’s really the simplest and most important! Just remember, even if you only write one hour a week, that’s something! And I find the more I write, the easier it gets to make it a steady habit.

        I hear you on the logistics of the MBA program. Ironically, I wrote the book which got multiple agent and editor offers (which makes the fact the series didn’t take off as well as hoped all the rougher) while I was working full-time, going to grad school for my Master’s full-time, and eight months pregnant with my son. I look back now and can’t figure out how the heck I did it. =) Well, my wonderful and supportive husband is really the main answer to that, but still.

    13. krisl

      I haven’t published anything, but I wrote and illustrated a few children’s books. My nephews and nieces like them :)

      I did a lot of it while watching TV. One thing I do is to write down ideas when I have them if possible.

  21. Delurking Librarian

    Feeling a bit stressed even as I remind myself how lucky I am. I’m in a nice position at a good organization. But lately I’m losing people because I can’t give them full-time jobs (my boss is wary of going over 25 hours a week for new hires because she’s afraid of ACA implications). Burnout is also an issue for them – lots of work with the demanding public and few intellectual, project-type tasks. At the same time, another department is suffering due to lots of different issues, and I feel powerless to help them, but I know I have the expertise to do so. I feel there might be some creative solutions – we’ve talked about cross-training and rewriting job descriptions – but I don’t think my boss is going to go for any of it. I have a feeling she’s just going to have me post several 15-hour a week positions and I’ll be in an endless loop of training new people only to have them leave. If them’s the breaks, I can handle it. I just feel bad about the whole situation.

    1. MJ

      Sometimes it is necessary to have part-time positions because of scheduling (needing two people at work at the same time), but I wish more businesses would do the math and realize that when you hire part-time people there are huge costs in staff turnover, retraining, and managing additional staff that probably eat up the savings from health insurance.

    2. krisl

      Can you focus on recruiting college students and stay at home parents who might want a part time job?

  22. NotMyRealName

    So here’s one for all of you, after 15+ years of self-employment, my husband would really like to work for someone else and not worry about the bills. We found a listing that looks to be right in his wheelhouse, but the online application wants two previous supervisors or coworkers. Since he’s been his own supervisor for so long this is kind of a problem. He’s considering using a couple of long term customers, what do you think?

    1. The IT Manager

      I was going to suggest customers or clients even before I read your last line. I think that’s the answer.

  23. Elizabeth

    I applied for the director of our department on Monday. On Wednesday, the screener emailed me to set up an initial call yesterday. I took a late/long lunch and did the call from home, and what was supposed to be an hour took 20 minutes, since she didn’t have to describe the job or facility. I have a call with her boss on Monday morning. Our interim director wants me to come in early on Monday to prep me for that interview.

    This could really happen!

  24. Anon this one time

    Age impostorism at work…again my coworker that tries to use an inflated age to feign more experience came out with a story of “oh that happened when I was a teenager, so it was like 30 years ago.” Honey, even if we are talking about the day you turned 13, that was not 30 years ago. Now, maybe you were 7 or 8 30 years ago, but certainly not a teen. This is seriously annoying. Lying about your age and being vague about your work history doesn’t make me thing you have better experience and more power than the rest of us.

    1. fposte

      I dunno–when you’re talking about when you were a kid, the difference between 25 and 30 years isn’t worth fussing over to me. I think this is just a thing that’s bugging you about this person generally rather than a specific iteration that’s a problem.

      1. Anon this one time

        I think is more than a 5 year difference…most people, when they said “when I was a teenager,” don’t mean 13 years old and one day, they mean 15 and 16. Also, when I said “could have been 7 or 8 then” I was giving a couple extra years to be generous. Because having to make up elaborate stories to add a couple of years to your age is ridiculous!

        I guess what annoys me in general is the vagueness of his language with this stuff. Just admit you are only a couple years older than most people on the team and be done with it. Stop trying to be special!

        1. fposte

          Unless it’s over a 20-year difference and the person was clearly meaning to be exact for a reason, I really wouldn’t get exercised about this statement. At my age, I really don’t do the math between then and now and couldn’t tell you what the spread was unless I counted, and I’m not going to bother to count; I think some people come to that earlier, and you should let this one go.

          1. MJ (Aotearoa/New Zealand)

            Yep. I’m the opposite; my brain is still convinced that stuff that happened in 1997-1998 (when I was 7-8) was ten years ago, so I probably often make myself sound way younger than I am.

      2. Anonsie

        Agreed. People often exaggerate when listing how many years have passed since they were kids, too, and it’s understood as hyperbole rather than an intentional lie.

    2. ClaireS

      While this person is absolutely being ridiculous and weird, I can kind of relate.

      Up until very recently, I’ve always been the youngest person on a team by a lot (in both actual age and years of experience). It can really impact your confidence. Throw in some potential imposter syndrome and it’s a tough space to be.

      Now their actions aren’t justified but try to be compassionate about it. Just ignore it and be sure you’re not being patronizing in other scenarios. They will eventually grow out of it. (Or they’re just cray and this will morph into something else weird then you can snicker all you want)

      1. Anon this one time

        Well it will be really funny when said person turns 50, but think they are 60 something and are confused why they aren’t retiring! What are they going to say then, “Oh I decided to work til 75?!”

        1. fposte

          I think most people won’t care much. And maybe they will work till they’re 75 so it won’t be an issue.

          1. Anon this one time

            OK. Guess I’m just wrong. It is fine for my coworker to make up things to put themselves in a position of power over the rest of us. Great!

            1. Not So NewReader

              I’m not understanding how he is using his age to gain power over everyone. (Sincere question, not snark.) Is he younger or old than everyone?

            2. Eden

              I don’t think you’re wrong, but I bet that this person is doing this in the hopes that you might respect him or her more, which I feel is kind of sad. I’m not sure how being slightly older creates ‘power’ over you.

              One thing you can do that might just nip this in the bud is just to ask, right out, what year were you born? Can’t have a vague answer about that, and unless this person is a pathological liar, they’ll answer you.

            3. fposte

              What I remember you saying before is that he tries to sound older to make himself more experienced than the rest of you. Which is in its own right annoying, but not that big a deal; even if he were older than you by generations, it wouldn’t make him righter or more powerful or somebody you need to listen to more, so just tell him it’s wonderful he’s still getting around at his age and ask him what it was like before talkies. This particular thing? Isn’t even a deal. Is fine.

              1. fposte

                Clarifying: it can be not fine and still something you are much better off just letting go. I think all of this is in that category. It’s not fine, but it also doesn’t matter all that much.

              2. Not So NewReader

                I agree with this. The way out is by lightening up the whole situation. “So how do you like your dinosaurs cooked? medium? or well done?”

                See, humor strips him of his power. If you are laughing at the image of him cutting up brontosaurs and having a BBQ, there is not a lot he is going to be able to do/say here.

                People that are actually “older” don’t want to be thought of as “older”. I worked a part time job with people of varying ages. I did not want the 20 and 30 year olds thinking I could not pull my weight because I was decades older than them. And I kept it at the front of my thinking not to say things that indicated I think because I am older then I am automatically superior/better/etc. Rudeness does not have an age limit or a statute of limitations. People remember the rudeness of a person no matter what their age.

    3. LBK

      I still think frequently think of the 90s as being last decade/10 years ago. It may not be intentional.

    4. Befuddled Squirrel

      I can see why you’re bothered by it. Someone who’s maintaining a lie could be lying about other things as well. I’d put the age thing in the “weird but none of my business” category, but keep an eye out for other signs of dishonesty.

    5. Angela

      Are you positive they aren’t that old? I made a reference to something happening 20 years ago which prompted a coworker to ask my age because they thought I was only 23-25. I was 35 at the time.

      1. Jill of All Trades

        That’s happened to me as well; I stunned someone once when they found out I’d worked for our company for 9 years – they’d thought I was 21-22 years old (thanks for the genes Mom and Dad!). If my hire date hadn’t been on the ID badge hanging from my neck they wouldn’t have believed me.

        Plus, I round to the nearest 5; like if something happened when I was in high school and if it seems like it was toward the earlier part of high school I’ll say 20 years ago even if was actually 17 years ago because I’m estimating.

        1. Not So NewReader

          I think most people estimate like that. I would expect if someone said “oh 20 years ago….” that could mean 17 years ago or 23 years ago. It’s a ball park time frame.

  25. J in NY

    2 Questions, really!

    1. Is there any job security in a grant funded position at a non profit? I (think) I am being seriously considered for a position that I really really want at a non profit, but at the interview, I was told that the company is able to hire for this position because they were given some grant money. Almost 2 weeks after I interviewed, I emailed the hiring manager who told me that she should have an update on the position at the end of the following week. i didn’t hear from her and called the following week to find out she was on vacation. She just got back and emailed me to inform me that there was an unexpected delay in grant funding and will get back to me at the end of this week with an update. This made me think: if I am offered and accept this job, is there any job security in a grant funded position? Would I likely be laid off soon after accepting it if they lose the grant money?

    2.Drawing from my first question, if I do not hear from her at the end of the day today, would it be too pushy to call her on Monday to see where the position stands?

    1. TotesMaGoats

      Usually** once a grant is awarded the money can’t be rescinded. So, you’d have your job but no guarantee of keeping it past the length of the grant award.

      **I caveat this because anything can happen.

    2. A.

      Hey, J in NY! Grant-funded employee here, working for a non-profit. Once the grant has actually been given to the non-profit, your job is usually secure–until the grant ends. I’m under the impression your prospective employer hasn’t actually received the grant yet, and that is the reason for the delay. If you are offered the job, my biggest piece of advice for you is to find out when the grant ends. I’ve seen grants range from six months to 10 years!

      As for you second question, I’d wait. She knows you’re interested, and if you’re truly a front runner for the position, she’ll have no problem contacting you.

    3. BRR

      Agreeing with A. that they probably don’t have the money yet and to figure out when the grant ends. I would make sure they have received the grant funding before you accept and I would make be politely pushy to find out if it’s really for the entire duration they say or if for example the grant only covers one year of salary but they have told you it’s a two year position because they’re confident they can get funding again next year.

      For your second question don’t contact again. You’ve followed up. If they want you they’ll contact you.

    4. CTO

      Ask for more information about the grant length and what/if the plans to fund the position after the grant expires are. Keep in mind that even if they are optimistic about renewing the grant or funding your role another way after the grant is up, that’s far from a guarantee.

      I just got laid off from a grant-funded position after one year when the grant expired. (They didn’t disclose this funding during the hiring process, but that’s a bad story for another day.) They were initially very confident that they’d find ongoing funding to keep me on, but that didn’t happen. Foundations’ interest in our kind of work was drying up (as some funders switch their focus areas frequently) and we struggled to meet the goals we laid out in our original grant proposal, as my work took a different turn (since the role had been poorly planned and didn’t really meet what the actual need was) and my actual duties ended up not being the kind for which there are really grants out there.

      My story is worse than average, for sure, and it all worked out for the best as I’m in a much better job now. But it goes to show that grant funding isn’t always a super-reliable source of long-term employment unless the grant has a nice long funding period.

      1. Anonsie

        Absolutely this. Everyone always thinks they’ll be able to get continuing funding– the reality of the funding climate right now is not usually supportive of that, though.

        Ask about the grant that is supporting this position and how long it’s for. As others have said, you can be confident that the money will definitely be there for that time period at least. You can also ask how they’d be looking for funding past that point but don’t take too much stock in their plans, since it’s not going to be up to the people hiring you in the end.

    5. NHLib

      I’m the caveat in TotesMaGoats reply. I was supposed to be grant funded through 2016 with a high chance of the project being re-funded, but the funding was unexpectedly cut in May and now I’m unemployed. It was a large, federally funded health project and they weren’t getting the response they wanted to their survey.

      However, staying funded may depend on your skills… my husband has been totally grant funded for 10 years. He’s a computer programmer. I’m a librarian.

  26. snapple

    I recently started a new position as a grant administrator at a homeless shelter recently. It’s a BIG change for me since I’ve previously worked at “prestigious”, nationally ranked institutions (one a college and the other a hospital) and the culture here is a lot different. During the interview process, everyone that I spoke to was extremely upfront about the working conditions (the building is very old and sort of run-down) and warned me about the occasional unpleasant run-ins with some of the shelter residents. The conditions of the building didn’t phase me because I could work in a tent as long as I have the materials to do my job but I think I severely underestimated my ability to handle some of the residents in the building. I’ve only been here for two weeks but every day at least one resident does something that makes me uncomfortable. I’ve been yelled at for not being pleasant enough when greeting someone, people literally stare at me like they want to murder me, and I’ve even bit spit on.

    My question is, how bad would it be to quit because I’m uncomfortable in this environment? I feel bad because I assured everyone during the interview process that I could handle this but, at the time, I don’t think I quite grasped what the day-to-day life would be. For the record 95% of the shelter residents are great! It’s the other 5% that make me so uncomfortable that I don’t think I could continue working here. OH, and my boss is pregnant and due in 4 weeks which makes me feel even worse!

    1. Elizabeth West

      I’d recommend talking to your boss or another, experienced employee and seeing if she has some recommendations for how to handle these things. They might have suggestions that will make it easier. If you really feel you can’t handle it, though, I’d let her know sooner rather than later so she can try and get things covered.

      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        I like this suggestion. They’ve probably seen lots of people go through this and talking to them might help. It still might end up that this isn’t for you, but talk to someone there about how you’re feeling before you decide anything.

    2. BRR

      Could you possibly ask to work from home part of the time? If this didn’t happen every day would it become more tolerable since it didn’t happen every day or would it exasperate the issue since it would stand out more.

    3. fposte

      I agree with Elizabeth on talking to the boss. It’s tough, because if you’re going to quit you should so ASAP so they can go with their next choice and so it’s so short you don’t have to put it on your resume; you also likely won’t be able to collect unemployment, so you’d need to be okay funding your own not-working for what might be a while.

    4. CTO

      Yes, for sure talk to your boss or other trusted coworkers. I’ve worked in the admin side of homeless programs, and encountering the clients can be tough when it’s totally outside of your experience/work/comfort zone. And it sounds like a few of your folks are particularly tough to be around. You will probably get more comfortable with it in time. For me, one thing that really helped was communicating closely with the front-line staff so I had a good understanding of whose behavior was challenging, why they acted that way, and how I could deal with it most effectively.

      If you’re willing to consider staying, ask for some training (internal or external) about basic “social worker” type skills that could help you be assertive, calm, and safe in the face of tough situations. Build relationships with the front-line staff who are responsible for enforcing behavior so you feel comfortable bringing concerns to them and you can trust that they’ll back you up when disciplinary measures are needed.

      And it’s also really helpful to try your best not to take it personally. Homelessness is complex and stressful. Your clients are in a very difficult place in life and mental illness is quite often a contributing factor and/or result of that. You don’t have to tolerate abusive treatment (and a well-run program will back you up on that–in my many years of working in shelters, I was never spit on and a client would have been promptly banned from the shelter had that happened) but it can provide a bit of solace to know that you didn’t do anything wrong and you’re not being targeted. You just happen to be around when these behaviors are being exhibited. It has nothing to do with you.

      1. CTO

        I just realized that most of us didn’t really address your core question about quitting. If you try to make things better (a candid conversation with your boss, asking for training, etc.) and it doesn’t improve, I think it’s an entirely reasonable thing to quit over. Organizations like this usually understand that this is a challenging environment and just isn’t the right fit for every person. It sounds like they’re pretty self-aware about that. Don’t give yourself a hard time about underestimating the challenge. That’s a common thing in work like this, where “fit” with the clients is really important yet the people accepting these administrator roles can’t be expected to have much experience in that area.

        As long as you don’t try to move on to a role in a similar organization, I think any future hiring manager would understand, “The role involved some client contact by nature, and that ended up being more challenging than I anticipated. I’m looking forward to moving back into a quieter setting where I can use the X, Y, Z, skills I do have, rather than social-work skills that I just don’t possess. This position at Company A is appealing because I thrived in similar environments in the past, as demonstrated by…”

        1. Mimmy

          This is great advice. I’m actually surprised that your office, as a grant administrator, is right there at the shelter (if I’m reading that correctly) since you’re technically not direct service staff. I too am looking for more administrative roles (I’m a social worker by training) and I honestly cannot imagine writing grants right in the trenches of a shelter.

          Your safety and comfort is primary here. I’d absolutely have a chat with the boss. If he/she doesn’t offer any useful suggestions, I’d start looking again using CTO’s terrific suggestions.

    5. the_scientist

      Oh, do I feel you on this. I work at a psychiatric hospital and although I’m in research I frequently interact with clients within the hospital campus. Like you said – 99% of our clients are friendly and pleasant and simply want to have their basic humanity acknowledged in the form of a brief “how are you/have a nice day” type of conversation and I’ve never felt uncomfortable or actively unsafe around the vast majority. The remaining 1% are where I’ve had a few interactions that left me feeling not fantastic. We have forensic inpatient facilities here as well as a variety of addictions programs- I’m imagining that this crowd is similar to the shelter population and yes, it is a bit of a rougher and more challenging crowd.

      1. Like everyone else suggested, I would try to talk to your manager or an experienced coworker about how you’re feeling. If you’ve never worked in this kind of environment, there is a definite learning curve. And in time, you’ll get to know some of the “regulars” and figure out the motivations behind their behaviours or certain triggers and you’ll also get to know the positive aspects of their personality as well. Keep in mind that people who end up in shelters likely have traumatic histories- you don’t have to tolerate abuse or bend over backwards because of this but many people are looking for a way to have their humanity and innate worth acknowledged without having the tools to have positive interactions.

      2. Did your workplace offer you crisis training? (i.e. crisis prevention and intervention or CPI, de-escalation techniques, etc). This is standard for ALL employees at my organization, even those that don’t work directly with clients. If it’s not, perhaps talk to the clinical or social work staff for advice on how they would handle a situation?

      3. Do the people harassing you know you are working in a staff capacity? (i.e. you’re not a visitor, or a random person?). Obviously your employee ID isn’t a shield but there are strict consequences for harassing employees where I work, so clients know not to push it. Further to that point, is there a “code of conduct” or similar for people who are using shelter services? If so, familiarize yourself with it, and eventually, you might try asserting yourself with clients. It doesn’t have to be unfriendly or “I’ll report you”, just “hey, you know that this kind of behaviour isn’t allowed here, you need to stop”.

      4. Finally, learn some good “conversation closers”. Things like “well, you have a great day” or similar when you need to get out of a conversation. If you eat lunch outside here while wearing an ID badge, you’ll have many clients coming up to talk to you. It’s really awesome that clients are confident enough to approach staff, I think, but sometimes I just want to talk to a coworker over lunch, so conversation closers are great for ending an interaction. Of course, you need to physically turn away from the person or leave immediately after to make it clear you’re done.

      The spitting is gross and I think you’re within reason as an employee (contact with another person’s bodily fluids should require infection control reporting of some kind, yes, even for spit) to bring this specific incident to a manager and ask what you should do if it happens again.

  27. Bend & Snap

    Soooo my new boss gave me in-depth constructive criticism in front of my team, including one of my direct reports and a (junior to me) colleague/frenemy who felt free to chime in with the places she thought I could improve.

    Behind closed doors, I was reassured that my performance is excellent and it was just a coaching moment.

    I’m pretty shocked that it happened in public and it makes me nervous about future interactions. Is there any way I can handle this? Boss is an experienced manager and I thought “praise in public, critique in private” was a pretty standard rule of thumb.

    Thoughts?

        1. Apollo Warbucks

          that’s no surprise, if they haven’t been in the job long they’re still leaning the way things are done.

          1. Bend & Snap

            Not new to management at this company though, or even to this team. Which is what has me scratching my head.

        2. Ask a Manager Post author

          Eeewww, doing it her second week on the job is even more tone-deaf. I mean, if you wanted to try a coaching strategy like that, you’d want to really know the lay of the land and the people involved first.

    1. HeyNonnyNonny

      Yikes! Could you maybe gently ask her to not do that again, since you need your team to have an accurate idea of how you’re doing, and false criticism could lead to confusion?

    2. College Career Counselor

      Your boss has appeared to undermine you in front of your team, deliberately or otherwise. If you had more of an established relationship with the boss, I would follow up and say something like, “In the future, I would prefer to hear critical feedback in private, so I can process and strategize how to talk to my team outside the moment.” two weeks into the boss’s tenure, you don’t know how this will be received. You could wait and see if it happens again or if this was a one-off. But I agree: public praise, private critique is generally how it should go.

      1. StudentA

        Totally agree. I’ve done it – I emailed a boss and told her to criticize me/my work far away from my directs. She actually apologized. Problem was, she constantly discussed me with my directs and others at that organization, so I now no longer work there. It was a terrible job anyway.

  28. Liz S.

    I recently accepted an offer for a position that I’m really excited about! It is a definite step up for me – better pay, more responsibility, more in line with my long-term goals. I’ll miss my 5 minutes commute, but hey, you can’t have it all.

    I resigned on Wednesday, giving about 2.5 weeks notice. My current job was my first out of college and, while it didn’t work out, they are a really admirable company and treated me wonderfully during my time here. Is there anything in particular that I should do during the next two weeks to make the transition as easy as possible? I’m working on creating a “handbook” of sorts for my replacement, but any other suggestions would be appreciated. I want to leave on awesome terms and let me boss and coworkers know how much I appreciated them.

    1. Move along

      I am in the same boat! Turned in a notice at today’s my last day. I would document as much as possible – instructions, templates, files – so that someone who needs them can easily access them. I wasn’t able to train a replacement in my final two weeks, so I’m trying to leave behind as many organized instructions as I can so that the phonecalls and questions after I’m gone aren’t overwhelming as I start a new job.

    2. Carrie in Scotland

      Re: the handbook – I had one of those for my new job but as it’s a totally different environment from where I’ve come from, some of the information was over my head in the beginning. I’m adding to what was left to me with some basic info, like “here is how you mail merge” or “here is what the key code is”.

      1. CTO

        Yes, and maybe even tips and tricks about general office life–the best way to get help from the Accounting department, where the bathrooms are, what the closest lunch place is, how people communicate about taking time off. We learn so much of that on the job and it often gets skipped in orientation.

      2. brightstar

        I found that problem in the past, which is why I make my training materials super simplistic. Once you’re accustomed to a job, it’s too easy to forget the basics that it took you a while to learn or to adjust to things that after a while, seem like second nature when they really aren’t.

      3. Golden Yeti

        Agreed! It’s better to assume no knowledge and prepare for that than to assume knowledge and leave the new person bewildered. If the person already knows how to do something, they can just skip it. On my handbook, I even have how to use the postage machine.

    3. CTO

      Ask your boss what they need! In addition to creating a handbook, here are some other ideas:
      Clean your desk (wipe out the drawers, etc.) so the next person has a decent workspace.
      Help communicate your departure and work with your boss to make sure that any internal/external partners know who to contact in your absence.
      Write thank-you notes for people you particularly appreciate.
      Make a to-do list of anything urgent that won’t be able to wait until your replacement is in place. If you can’t check off certain tasks, let your boss know what has been left undone.
      Connect with current coworkers via LinkedIn or pass along your personal contact information if you want to keep in touch. Offer to be a reference for them if they ever need it.

      Congrats on the new job and good luck!

    4. MaryMary

      I think a handbook is a great idea. Make sure you’re taking a full calendar year of work into account, not just projects that are in flight now. It’s invaluable for a new person to know that year end financials need to be submitted no later than December 10, or that client XYZ always puts in a big order in March.

      If you want to do something extra nice for your boss and coworkers, I’d suggest putting together individual feedback and thank you emails for them. You won’t be around for everyone’s annual review, so now’s the time for you to document your feedback. It can be difficult for someone at review time when the person who could have given the best feedback isn’t at the company anymore. This is also your opportunity to thank the people who’ve gone above and beyond to help you out.

  29. Malissa

    So after much consideration and one very insulting job offer I’ve decided to open up my own business. Got all of my paperwork in order and now I’m ready to start advertising. I’ve got a guy lined up to do web work for me.
    I still need a place to get business cards–I know y’all have some good recommendations on that.
    Also I’m looking for ideas on how to grow my business. I’m a CPA and I’ve actually signed on my first client this week. I’m not looking to quit my day job just yet, but I am hoping to grow to that place in a year or two.
    Any other advice or ideas you want to give me would be great as well.

    1. Lily in NYC

      I see ads all the time for Vistaprint – I think it’s only $10 for 500 cards. But I’ve never used them so I can’t vouch for them.

      1. NotMyRealName

        Vistaprint works fine, just realize that they will try to upsell you at every turn. If I recall correctly, there’s even a charge to eliminate their advertising line from the back of your card.

      2. Not So NewReader

        I have done business with Vista Print for a while and I have been satisfied. If you get on their mailing list, you can get some real bargains.

        My friend ordered business cards 500 for a decent price (I have forgotten the amount). And yeah, they do the suggestive selling, he was offered 500 more for $15. Sure, he took that offer. It’s no more annoying than “Do you want fries with that?” People are just doing what management tells them to do.

        What I have found outstanding is their willingness to tweak your card/banner/etc for you before you finalize the sale. I had problems with an old font, they matched it as best they could and put it in beautifully.

    2. Elizabeth West

      I’ve used VistaPrint–it’s reasonably priced, and the cards look great. (That reminds me–I need to update mine.) Something they have that you might be interested in is packages of marketing materials that match with the cards, and they let you upload your logo.

      1. AndersonDarling

        I used them a long time ago and just ordered some personal cards from them. They weren’t great, and I said so in an auto-survey they sent me. They refunded the cost of my whole order, and I didn’t even ask!
        I was a little iffy about vistaprint, but it looks like they are building up their customer service to be top of the line.

      2. Malissa

        Crap, I think I need a logo. This is why I love this blog. Things I would never think about on my own.

        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          Assuming you want something pretty low-cost, you can find some decent logo designers on Etsy, which is a place I wouldn’t have thought to look.

          1. Malissa

            I never would have thought of that either. I’ll look there if farming it out to my network doesn’t get me a winner.

            1. Milly

              Vista print for business cards and for logo I found a really good cheap designers on ebay!
              Just be careful with Vista print. They try to upsell and had to call them angrily to get them to refund 3 payments they took from my PayPal account that I did not approve nor have interest in for email marketing. They did refund straight away but that was very inappropriate!

          2. JoAnna

            I actually found someone on Etsy last Christmas to design a mock “family crest” — my father-in-law had jokingly described one day what our family crest would look like, so I gave his description to the designer and she made it up. Then I uploaded it to zazzle.com and put it on a beer stein. He loved it. I was glad I thought to search Etsy for that kind of thing!

    3. Kimberlee, Esq.

      Overnight Prints for business cards. MUCH higher quality than what you get at Vista, and only marginally more expensive (you’ll be fine with 500 cards, and that’s usually like $35. Not bad at all, and free gloss coating if you like). I’ve ordered from both, premium on both, and Overnight is just a million miles better than Vista.

    4. Bay Area KS

      I ordered my business cards from moo.com – they’re wonderful and very affordable! I picked one of their standard designs (a variety pack of 4 actually), and the cards are so soft and beautiful, that I loooved* handing them out to people.

      *past-tense because when I got a job, they gave me my own cards :) I still show off my old moo cards to friends though, because they’re just so nice!

  30. The IT Manager

    Our office moved recently. Despite fears that the open floor plan with very low cubical walls would be terrible for noise and distractions (discussed on some old threads), it has not been too bad. They do have some white noise devices and my only rare noise complaints have been my immediate neighbors – one when she occasionally gets angry/frustrated on work calls (more amusing than annoying because its quick) and the other who just has a loud voice and carries on distracting personal calls (calling phone company customer service about a problem, etc) and conversations at her desk. The one who gets loud when she gets frustrated was shared my previous office so I heard those calls in the old office too. Also most people (including those) work from home several days a week so the office is never completely filled and never really noisy.

    The new locations downtown has a number of amenities and I’m really enjoying walking to nearby restaurants to grab take out lunch (when I have time to step away from my desk) and being downtown/near stuff after work. It also has floor to ceiling windows which makes the office brighter and provides a much better view than my old cubical walls. Also my commute got slightly better even with the two block walk from the parking garage to the office. We can park on the lower levels my car is not in the sun and boiling hot at the end of the day so I consider that a win.

    Overall my fears about the move did not materialize, and I actually prefer the new location. I am pleasantly surprised.

    1. LMW

      I find this reassuring, since our building is gradually being renovated to a more open plan like this!

    2. Lily in NYC

      We recently switched to this type of floorplan and I despise it. My coworkers love speaker-phone conference calls and I have a difficult time concentrating because it’s just so loud. And now people stop by my desk all day long to ask for favors. Everyone wears headphones so it’s not like we communicate more. It was done only so we could squeeze more cubicles into the space.

      1. The IT Manager

        We are all on the phone most of the day, but we all have headsets (with mics). If someone tried to use a speaker phone, I’d tell them to stop right away.

      2. Natalie

        Concur. For some reason my boss and another co-worker’s favorite place to talk is literally right in front of my desk. There are SO MANY other places they could talk.

    3. YouWillNeverWorkInThisTownAgain

      This is great to hear. My company is moving next month to an open floor plan and I’ve been concerned about the noise levels, privacy, and germs (yes, I’m a germaphobe). Do you all have designated spaces or just hotel desks? That’s one of my biggest concerns with this type of floor place, because I like having my own space and not sharing equipment (phones) with others (again, germs ;)).

  31. Anonyby

    Does anyone else get writer’s block working on cover letters?

    I’m trying to get job applications out there, but I’m struggling with writing good, individual cover letters. Half the time I can’t even get started, the other half I get maybe a paragraph into it before stalling out. The nature of the jobs I’m applying to (mostly receptionist and admin asst.) certainly isn’t helping me drum up enthusiasm.

    1. HeyNonnyNonny

      If I’m stuck, I just start re-typing the company’s mission statement. Sometimes just getting words down helps, and hopefully I’ll catch something from their language that resonates with me and I can start riffing off that.

      1. Befuddled Squirrel

        If you do that, be sure to convert it to PDF format before submitting it so they can’t look up previous versions. Extremely unlikely that anyone would do that, but it’s best to be safe.

    2. Elizabeth West

      I did, and I basically did the same thing HeyNonnyNonny did. Or make a list of the requirements and wish list from the job posting and see if any of that makes you think of anything.

      1. Anonyby

        Sometimes they don’t even post a full list of requirements… Or what they do post is entirely uninspiring (“must be proficient with Microsoft Office Suite”…)

        I have worked with mission statements on some, but not all companies have them posted, or when they do they’re generic and/or a far cry from the work I’d be doing.

      2. Anonyby

        Another quick question for you folks…

        I use Craigslist as one of my resources for job ads… Why is it so common for employers to not say who they are? I’ll see an ad that otherwise looks great and like something I’d want to respond to…but I’ll have no idea who it is and don’t respond because I can’t look the company up.

    3. Perpetua

      Oh boy, I know the feeling. I’d actually try to apply some of the advice given to writers above, because writing cover letters is still writing. :) My mantra was “you can’t edit a blank page”, repeated over and over, so I’d just try to write something, and edit later.

      If you overheard a former boss or colleague praising your work to another person, what would you want them to say? What would you say to your best friend about why you’d be good at a particular job? Try thinking about yourself and your work in different ways, maybe you’ll find some inspiration there.

      Good luck!

      1. Anonyby

        lol I’ve tried just writing, even in other situations… I just seem to write myself into corners and stall out all the time! (I’ve tried NaNoWriMo a couple times and never hit the 1k mark, much less 50k!) I just really do better with someone to bounce off of, but that’s not really possible with cover letters, or other business writing (at least that I would be asked to do).

        I do try to state what I see as my strengths, but I feel like I’d never be able to prove it so they’ll end up thinking I’m misrepresenting myself… Or I won’t be able to come up with enough strengths and the letter ends up really short.

    4. Ask a Manager Post author

      Pretend you’re writing an email to a friend about why you’d be awesome at the job. You probably would not get writer’s block on that; you’d just talk. So write that, and then you’ve got a starting point.

      1. Anonyby

        Thanks Alison!

        I think part of my problem is that I’m not super-excited about most of the jobs I’m replying to, or a large portion of what caught my eye in the ad is something that is poor taste to mention in a cover letter (like salary/benefits). I’m more in a place where I need a full-time job more than I to find my life’s passion, and most of the jobs are entry level with a lot of drudgery. They’re also mostly heavy on CS, which is my least favorite part (but I don’t really have the job experience to do anything else).

    5. Golden Yeti

      I usually save my cover letters, and start them all with the same opening sentence. Then I pick and choose good bits from what I’ve already done, and add new material as needed.

      1. Anonyby

        That’s a good idea. I’m already saving mine. Do you have an issue with lack of flow between sections?

        1. Golden Yeti

          It can sometimes be a little choppy, in which case I edit it for flow. (Editing is definitely required for a “patchwork” cover letter–slap and go will not cut it.)

          Also, I tend to highlight the same or similar things in each letter because I’m applying to jobs in similar sectors, which minimizes choppiness, too. It also doesn’t hurt that I’ve been searching for about 3 years (in only a few fields), so there’s a lot to draw from. With that being said, you should also try to read your old letters objectively and decide which ones are really good and are *worth* borrowing from in the future. If you can’t tell, maybe have a friend read over some for feedback.

          1. Anonyby

            I’ve been job hunting for over a year now (though a took a break for a few months after changing offices). The ones from last year really aren’t that good. The more recent ones are better… but I’m still not sure there’s enough there to borrow from, at least not yet.

    6. Befuddled Squirrel

      Personally, I find cover letters to be the most challenging type of thing to write. I’ve written novels, songs, poetry, news articles, internal communications, blogs, technical documentation, the list goes on. All are easy compared to cover letters.

      1. Anonyby

        For me, it’s the whole ‘tooting my own horn’ part of cover letters that’s the worst. That’s one of the things that makes me most uncomfortable.

  32. A.

    Is it atypical to use a recruiter or hiring agency if you’re already employed? I have a job but have been job hunting, unsuccessfully. Are hiring agencies and recruiters typically only for people unemployed and looking?

    1. TheExchequer

      Most of the agencies I went to basically want you if they can sell you to other employers. So as long as you don’t have a noncompete, you’re in a better position. (And even then, I’m sure agencies are used to that).

    2. Lily in NYC

      Headhunters likely prefer people who are already employed. I’ve gotten 3 jobs using a recruiter and I was already employed during two of the job searches.

  33. Sunshine

    Any advice for handling an employee who is extremely negative (about nearly everything), but only when the boss is not around? I always feel weird about disciplining someone for actions I only hear about second-hand.

    1. AVP

      Are you the boss in question?

      I would have a sit-down and bring it up directly, not naming those who you’ve heard about the comments from. Reasons for this are that a, it’s a morale issue for your other employees, and b, it might hint at underlying problems in your department that you’d want to know about.

      1. LCL

        Yes, you should talk to this employee to find out what is going on. You also need more information (maybe you have it but didn’t mention it) as to what negative means. Is it Marvin style “that’ll never work” or is it personal “the bosses idea is stupid and she is an idiot” talk?

    2. BRR

      If it’s multiple people who are expressing the same information I don’t think it’s out of line to bring it up to the negative employee.

    3. Molly

      You could say something like, “I’ve heard from several sources lately that you’re not be happy about X. I’d prefer it if you addressed concerns like these to me directly, so we can discuss them and hopefully resolve them. Can you tell me what your concerns are?”

      It’s not precisely discipline, but it lets the employee know their negativity has been noticed, that you’re not happy about it, and that you’re looking into it. If it persists after that conversation, that would be the time to start thinking about discipline.

  34. Anon

    Hi all, I’m applying for a promotion that my manager seems to think is a shoe in (I’m more cautiously optomistic) and I remember Alison saying that we shouldn’t accept without negotiating pay. Normally I wouldn’t bother negotating, but I’m in a government job that has had years of pay freezes and am a new home owner so could really do with a salary bump right now and Alison’s comment has played on my mind. I’ve never done this before – never even negotiated salary – as money has not been much of a motivator for me until now! Does anyone know how to negotiate in a promotion situation? What has worked well for you?

      1. BRR

        Also since you’re in government can you look up what the last person was paid? Not as a for certain number but just as an idea.

    1. fposte

      Do you know what the range is for the new position and what people of experience equivalent to yours are getting for it? If not, find out. Have they already stated what salary they’re offering with the promotion, or is it a range (or not disclosed at all)?

      I’d say wait until you get offered the number in 2 and then say “I was actually hoping for [number commensurate with your experience]. Is there room for movement on that?” And if they don’t offer a number, say “We haven’t talked about the salary. I’ve seen $xxk as usual for somebody of my experience in our positions like that. Is that a possible number?”

    2. Apollo Warbucks

      Don’t do what I did when I applied for a promotion. The salary offer was nothing short of an insult, I was so angry and ended up having a massive tantrum using a load of expletives and tell my boss he could shove the job and find someone else to do it. The next day he came back with a better offer but I still feel hard done which I accepted but now wish I hadn’t, as I’m still trying to get my salary up to where it should be, its a shame to have missed a good opportunity for a salary increase.

      Give some thought to what salary you want for the role, see if the job was advertised externally as they might include a salary band you can use to asses their budget (I found a few jobs online and recognised my company from the description it was very interesting information to have) also you can see what other comparable jobs in your area are paying to see what the market rate is.

      If you’re offered the job you can say something like “that’s fantastic, [fill in here why you’re excited about the job] I’ve been looking at similar roles and was thinking a salary of X does that seem appropriate to you?” or “I’m delighted to be offered the job, is now a good time to discuss the details?”

  35. TheExchequer

    Enjoying my new job. :D Did not think I was a sales person or a designer person, but here we are.

    My question today involves my brother. He works for a major retailer; although he signed a contract as a full-time employee, he never got copies of his paperwork. And in June/July, he found out that the store had switched him to a part time position without telling him and without him signing any paperwork. He’s made several verbal requests to his store’s HR to get the copies of the original paperwork to no avail. I’m thinking the next step is to make the request in writing, but I’m not sure what other advice to give him. Any help?

    1. fposte

      Where is this? His other remedies will depend on the answer to that. And what term was the contract for?

      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        Also, are you sure it was an employment contract? Those are fairly unusual in the U.S. It might have just been routine new hire paperwork, rather than an actual contract making promising about his employment.

        1. TheExchequer

          Having not seen the paperwork myself, I don’t know. He seems pretty convinced it was a contract, but I couldn’t tell you for sure.

          1. fposte

            I suspect it wasn’t, though; that it was new hire paperwork as Alison suggests. It’s pretty unusual for retail workers in the kind of positions with part-time possibilities to have actual contracts, and that’s why he doesn’t have a copy of it. Also, if he’s asking for his contract and he doesn’t *have* a contract, that may have something to do with why they’re not responding.

            I think LBK’s suggestions are good–check the handbook and check with HR on benefits.

      2. TheExchequer

        I don’t know if I want to say more than it’s a major retail store that starts with an M. My understanding is that it was for a year.

        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          Honestly, I’d bet money it wasn’t an actual contract. It’s extremely rare to have employment contracts in the U.S. for anything but high-level positions. If he’s working retail, he almost definitely does not.

          1. littlemoose

            My guess is that it was part of the new hire paperwork that listed his hours of availability and perhaps desired number of hours per week. I know I filled out forms like that when I was hired at a retail job. But that’s not an employment contract that would guarantee a minimum number of hours per week, just availability and preferences. I doubt this document could be used to “force” the employer to give him more hours.

      3. TheExchequer

        And it just occurred to me by “where is this” you meant geographically speaking – in which case, California, the land of all weirdness.

    2. LBK

      I’m confused – wouldn’t he notice he had been switched to a part-time employee by nature of no longer being scheduled for full-time hours?

      1. TheExchequer

        You would think that, but the way he found out was trying to get benefits and his supervisor telling him, “Oh yeah, I meant to tell you . . .” I smell something hinky, but he isn’t convinced it’s more than a communication error.

        1. LBK

          Hmm, interesting. What’s weird is that benefits eligibility has always been hours-based for the retail positions I’ve worked – that is, if you average more than X hours over Y weeks, you’re considered a full-time employee and required to receive benefits, whether your employer decides your title includes full-time or not. For one job I worked at the cutoff was 32 hours, another it was 20 (thank you Starbucks for having insanely awesome benefits). I believe there’s actually a federal cutoff of 30 hours now thanks to the ACA, though I’m not positive.

          At the very least, he should review his employee handbook or talk to someone in HR, because the employer may not be as clever as they think if he’s still working a certain amount of hours.

    3. MaryMary

      Does he have an offer letter , or a copy of the original job posting? An does either specify that the position is full time? An offer letter would be better than the job posting, and neither is concrete. However, it’s better than nothing.

      Retail is such a variable industry, though, it’s not unusual for someone’s hours to drop if business is slow. Your brother’s employer could be trying to screw him over, or it could be that sales volume doesn’t support additional resources right now.

  36. EA

    For those of you with company-provided cell phones, how often do you check them when you’re not working?

    I tend to glance, and occasionally respond to mine during the time when I’m not at work. (My team does have an on-call rotation, and whenever it’s my turn, of course, I always respond appropriately) . (I should also note that I’m in a Salaried/Exempt role, with no supervisory responsibilities) Is this about average? I’ve got a friend who will constantly respond to emails, and even join calls about ongoing issues, even though it’s not his turn to care about it.

    I don’t want to be viewed as a slacker, but at the same time, I do enjoy the concept of “time away from work”

    1. hermit crab

      Ha! I just posted a very similar question below (but specifically about non-company-provided phones). I don’t have any answers for you, but I’m interested to see what people say and I’m glad I’m not the only one thinking about these things.

    2. Steven M

      Never. :) Ok, that’s not *quite* true, but it’s close.

      It’s actually in our handbook that we could leave them in the office if we really want to. I do take mine home, but at latest I’ll check it right when I get home. After that it gets put away (out of sight, out of mind) and I don’t look at it until I get in the next day.

    3. MT

      I have a special wringer for work email and work contacts. I use my company phone as my personal phone as well. I always have it on me, but that’s what is required. I try to use technology as little as possible when i leave work.

    4. MaryMary

      I think this is very company and industry specific. If your corporate culture or client base is one where people expect a prompt response whether it’s 8am or 8pm, then you should probably be more responsive. If no one is doing much email after 5 unless they’re on call, I wouldn’t worry about it.

      At OldJob, I was on my phone a lot, and I logged back in to work from home a lot (or just stayed in the office late). But we were very fast paced and had a significant offshore operation. I’d check in at night and first thing in the morning to make sure no one half a world away was waiting on me to answer. Now, I usually check email once a night at home on the phone, but that’s almost out of habit. I hardly ever have anything urgent to respond to.

  37. Betsy

    My company offers no raises, no promotions, and no reviews.

    Question: what perks, if any, would keep you working at such a place? I love my work and my colleagues but am thinking about a switch. I have a flexible schedule, minimal tuition reimbursement, and get paid training and conferences.

    1. Jen RO

      I don’t know if it would be enough, but the paid trainings and conferences sound great to me. (My company offers all that yours doesn’t, but no trainings!)

    2. Sunflower

      I would only stay until I felt I’m ready to move on. It sounds like your job is okay as long as you’re still being challenged and learning. For me, I would see no incentive in staying past that point if there is no room for growth. I’m in a similar spot where I can get minimal raises but my schedule isn’t flexible and i don’t get a lot of paid training. Even if I was getting great perks, I don’t think I would stay past the appropriate time. There’s nothing that can make up for me not advancing my career.

    3. Waiting Patiently

      commuting time, hours, flexibility in hours, salary, liking my co-workers and the work generally …yep that’s why i’m still at my job. We get the barest minimal raises, promotions (there is really no moving up—you just have to find something better and making more money). We do get plenty of training. Benefits suck–I can only cover myself.

    4. Jubilance

      Health insurance with no employee contribution, 401k to the max allowed by law (IDK if there’s even a limit but if there is I’d want the max I could get), minimum of 4 weeks PTO, ability to work a flexible schedule/work from home.

      1. LBK

        401(k) expert here: there’s no legal limit on what percentage the employer can choose to match (if they even match at all, which isn’t required), but there are IRS limits on how much you can contribute per year and a limit on the total combined contribution you and your employer can make annually.

        However, you generally can’t determine matches and employer contributions on a case-by-case basis – there’s a plan document created when the plan is first set up that outlines all the rules for contributions. If an employer’s plan document dictates a 3% match, you can’t negotiate for a 10% match (unless their plan is set up to allow discretionary contributions, but I’ve only heard of that in rare union plans, which are generally weird and have different rules).

        The closest they’d be able to do is bump up your salary to allow you to increase your (unmatched) contribution percentage without affecting your take home pay.

      2. Betsy

        I get 3 weeks a year, my health insurance payment is $0 (and the coverage is good), and my company matches my 401K to $2000. People have been telling me I am crazy to stay with no chance for raise/promotion but I think the perks are good. Thanks, everyone!

    5. CTO

      Your benefits sound good, but not so amazing that you couldn’t still get ahead by switching companies. For instance, if your pay is falling far behind industry standard, you could get a big raise by moving and still come out ahead despite paying for insurance, tuition, etc.

      I’d stay as along as I was happy, until it became clear that staying longer would significantly harm my future career advancement. If you get to the point where you’re unsure, try tossing out a few feelers. That way you’ll make an informed decision, rather than one based on fear/uncertainty about what else was out there. I know that at times I stayed at good jobs because I was convinced that I’d never find anything else nearly as good, only to discover that I indeed could.

    6. Just Visiting

      Time off and lots of it, flexible scheduling/work from home, no (NO) dress code, benefits fully or almost completely paid, no time clock, 35- or 37.5-hour workweek. You’re describing the first professional job I had, and it was wonderful, the benchmark by which all my subsequent jobs have been measured, and something I hope to get again. But I gather I’m an outlier here for not having any desire to advance beyond entry level.

    7. chewbecca

      I didn’t realize that my office had two locations. At this point, the only thing keeping me here is the short commute. Being able to go home for lunch everyday is awesome.

      My time here should have been up two years ago, but I’m having problems finding positions that are a step up from entry level and don’t require reception work or customer service.

      I’d love to work with an employment agency, but I can’t afford to be without health insurance for their probation periods. I keep trying to convince my fiance to push up our marriage so I can get on his insurance, but he’s stubbornly sticking to our date next year.

  38. hermit crab

    Opinion question: Is having a smartphone necessary to be taken seriously as a professional in this day and age? I’m 28 and recently made the jump from “junior staff” to “mid-level staff” in a medium-size consulting firm. My job does not explicitly require constant access (i.e., I wouldn’t qualify for any cell phone reimbursements under company policy) and there are very few true emergencies, but I still have clients and deliverables and some time-sensitive work. Not having a smartphone hasn’t been a problem so far; it’s more that I’m starting to feel awkward about not being able to be on top of what’s going on with my projects if I’m at an all-day meeting offsite or waiting endlessly in the doctor’s office. It seems a little weird to say “I won’t be able to check email this afternoon, but please call my cell if you need to reach me right away” — I don’t want to be seen as some sort of curmudgeonly late-adopter snob who makes people wait or do extra work to get in touch with me. On the other hand, I’m not sure that I want to shell out the money for something I wouldn’t necessarily need or want otherwise. Am I missing out on something that would make my professional life a lot smoother? Do you think most employers now expect their staff to use personal devices to stay connected to work, even if it’s not specifically required?

    1. HeyNonnyNonny

      I think it’s going to depend a lot on your industry and company, but I think you can survive. I have a smartphone, but there is no way I will use it for work outside of work hours.

      But then again, I’m curmudgeonly in a more leave-me-alone-when-I’m-not-at-work way, so I don’t feel guilty about being off the work grid.

    2. Anoners

      I think it depends on your workplace. It sounds like having a smartphone might make your life a little easier for times when you want to check in on the go. If you havent run into any problems without one so far I wouldn’t be too concerned about it. If you need to, you could probably get an Iphone 4 on the cheap if you do need to get one. I got one recently for like 100 bucks and it does everything I could possible need.

    3. Lily in NYC

      Unfortunately, I think it is kind of essential if you work in management consulting (not sure what type of consulting you do – I’m using big firms like McKinsey, BCG, etc as my example).

      1. hermit crab

        Definitely not management consulting! We have a more laid-back environment, generally. I don’t think I could handle the management consulting lifestyle. :)

        1. Lily in NYC

          Yeah, I agree! I lasted 5 months at a big mgmt consulting firm- the only short tenure of my career. I couldn’t deal with the personality-types there.

          I think you are safe without getting a smartphone. I feel like mine is such a waste of money because I don’t use it for anything except phone calls and a few texts.

    4. Elizabeth West

      If you decide to do it, try a prepaid one. It’s cheaper and you can still do everything a contract phone will do (except go overseas). You’ll have to pay for the phone upfront, but look for specials on older or basic models. That’s how I got my Samsung Galaxy with Net10. It’s an S2, but it works fine for everything I need.

        1. Nina

          +1 for the prepaid phone. Even if you’re paying retail price, you’re still saving money on the back end by not using a contract, plus paying back the price of the phone little by little.

          As for actually needing a smartphone, I definitely think it depends on your industry. I love having a smartphone, but I also know that they’re more of a status symbol for most people than something they legitimately need. You should be able to do the basics on a flip/candy bar phone like email, but since smartphones have larger screens (some of those phones can barely fit in a pocket) I think they’re ideal for viewing spreadsheets and PDF files. So it really just matters what you need.

    5. JC

      I was a late adopter to having a smartphone, and got one 2 years ago. Like you, I didn’t *need* one for my work, but felt awkward not being able to check my email when I was away from a computer for an extended time while traveling or at a doctors appointment or whatever.

      I found that biting the bullet and getting a smartphone was much more useful than I imagined it! I got a phone through Virgin Mobile, where I pay $35/month for unlimited data and no contract, which is around what I used to pay for my Verizon voice and text plan. The downsides are that I had to buy my own phone, the service is worse than Verizon’s, and the phone minutes at that price are minimal (but plenty for my purposes). I believe they offer some pretty basic, cheapish smartphones if that’s what you want, though.

    6. Tris Prior

      I was just coming here to ask something similar!

      I had to have an awkward conversation with a supervisor recently. I’m taking time off work to attend a several-days-long event, and I had to explain that I will not be able to check or answer email during the day at all because I have no smartphone, no ipad, etc. He was very surprised that I don’t have one. I sort of wanted to tell him that I cannot afford one on the low salary they’re paying me (which is true – I REALLY want one but it’s just not in the budget right now), but I restrained myself.

      I do think it hurt my credibility, but the fact is, I just plain cannot afford one right now. My managers and co-workers are all millennials, and I am not, and I think they cannot fathom how someone in this day and age can function without a smartphone. It was a pretty embarrassing conversation. :(

      1. hermit crab

        Yikes, that does sound awkward, though I think they were probably just surprised (and maybe embarrassed that they had never considered that this was a possibility?). One of the reasons I’ve been holding off getting a smartphone is that I’m worried that I will turn into one of those millennials!

    7. MaryMary

      Would your company provide a smart phone? At my company, we can set up work email on our own phones if we prefer, but if you don’t have one they will issue you one. It’s worth asking about, at least. Some large companies also have corporate discount programs with certain providers, so even if you have to pay for it yourself, you could get a 15% discount.

    8. Windchime

      I have a smartphone, but I don’t have my work email connected to it. I got it all set up and ready to go, and then was notified that I would have to change my Verizon contract to add some kind of additional service so that the work email application would function. Um, no thanks. I am not paying extra so that I can be connected to the office 24/7.

      I’m in a job that doesn’t require 24/7 connectivity. When I’m on call, I can log in from my laptop at home. I’ve seen coworkers who have work email on their phones, and it’s like they become compelled to checked it every couple of minutes and are constantly answering non-critical emails.

      I need a break from work when I’m at home.

  39. Masters Degree Searcher

    I had an hours-long in-person interview on Monday. It involved a panel meeting with the leaders for an hour, individual one-on-one meetings with a few of them, a writing test, and an HR meeting. It’s been 4 days, no word yet. HR told me if I don’t hear anything by this coming Tuesday to circle back to her.

    It’s the dream job I’ve always ever wanted, plus it’s convenient and comes with a variety of lovely perks. (I do have another in-person interview and am getting recruited for something else next week too). I guess I have 2 main questions:

    1. How long does it take for a company to make a phone offer? (Is 4 days enough to reject someone)?
    2. I’ve had 5 in-person interviews in 3 months. How do I make myself *the* best candidate (instead of the runner-up)? I’ve always struck up awesome rapport and done everything within my power, it never seems enough, and it’s ridiculously discouraging. (Not to mention my family constantly calling me on the phone asking if I finally got a job yet and implying I’m lazy if I haven’t).

    One ivy league degree, down the tubes. *ugh*.

    1. brightstar

      1) It’s impossible to know from the outside what is going on in their hiring process. If you hear nothing by Tuesday, then I’d get in touch with the HR Person as she recommended to find out if the timeline has changed.

      2) Job searching is soul sucking and hard and discouraging. Unfortunately, there isn’t a way to make sure that you are the best candidate unless you just happen to be that best candidate. It’s nebulous and varies from organization to organization and job to job.

      If someone does patent a way or create a potion that would ensure you get an offer for every job you interview for, that person will be a billionaire. Until then, just keep on applying.

      1. Masters Degree Searcher

        Thanks. I have another in person interview coming up.

        It’s been five days since the interview (today: Saturday). On all my past positions, it took six days total between interview to offer. I’m wondering if that’s true across the board generally. It’s weighing on my mind like crazy and it’s tough to concentrate on anything else this weekend. I know I gave all I could but it’s kind of making me sad that no matter how hard I work nothing’s coming to fruition [yet]. *siigh*

    2. Not So NewReader

      Tell your family “I will let you know when I find something.” Keep repeating it each time they say something.

  40. HeyNonnyNonny

    So what do you do at work to fill your time when you’re between projects or waiting on others to get back to you before your own work can move ahead? I’m in a position where the work flow is extremely dependent on outside forces, so sometimes there’s simply nothing for me to do.

    My list so far is:
    -Read up on industry news
    -Prowl business-related blogs like AAM

    What else can I do? Any good free educational websites for general work-relevant skills I should be checking out?

    1. Bea W

      I can always find other work, but catching up on back filing, cleaning my desk, cleaning up my email, etc tend to be my go-to activities. I can’t remember the last time I actually had that kind of down time though!

      1. HeyNonnyNonny

        Oh, email cleaning is a good one. My jungle of old emails definitely needs to be sorted out.

    2. CTO

      I also like to learn internal stuff–read the intranet, review policies, look for training opportunities. Is there someone else with similar downtime who might want to have a “get to know you better” meeting?

      1. HeyNonnyNonny

        The ‘get to know you’ meeting is a great idea, especially since I’m still fairly new to this department!

    3. AVP

      I also like to clean and de-clutter things.

      Other ideas:
      – update all your computer software
      – take a cheap or free online course in something that would help you in your position (if that will fly with your manager. It’s cool with mine.)
      – work on documentation so you won’t have to scramble if you decide to leave
      – check upon any interesting projects that your competitors are working on

    4. Nina

      Not work related, but if you’re looking for a fun website that can educate you at the same time, freerice.com is good. Every time you get the correct answer, you donate 10 grains of rice to the World Food Programme. They’ve expanded beyond words, now they have math problems, humanities, chemistry, geography, etc.

  41. Qwerty

    Can I just complain a bit about a company’s job application process? I did an application that has got to be one of the most tedious and pointless processes I’ve ever done.
    First, to apply for the job you have to watch a 10 minute long video about the organization saying how awesome the work culture is, with lots of buzzwords. The video would periodically stop to ask you a question, such as: “Is having a culture with [buzzword] important to you?” This whole thing was mandatory; you couldn’t even see the application without it.
    Second a recruiter called me a few days later to set up a formal phone interview time. The only real question they asked me on this phone interview was why I was interested in this position. The rest of the questions were about things that I had already answered in the application, such as “Are you an American citizen, or otherwise able to work in the US?”.
    Then he sent me a link to do a video interview, where they give you a question and you record your answer.
    I’m just so annoyed at this whole process, which is for a professional level job. I don’t know that I would even bother to go in for an in person interview if I were called.

    1. AndersonDarling

      They may not have real employees. The managers are actually robots, and your phone interviewer was a recording.
      It all sounds a bit X-Files.
      :-)

    2. OriginalYup

      Good lord. Nothing says “awesome work culture” like hiring processes that totally devalue the applicant’s time.

    3. HeyNonnyNonny

      That sounds awful!

      One time I had to watch a training video starring Harry Potter’s uncle (before Harry Potter was even a book!). So maybe some day, years from now, you’ll recognize the video guy in something amazing!

  42. Holly

    Our VP of Business Development has the flu – fever and all – and is walking around like he’s totally okay. Everyone has told him to go home and he refuses. I can’t get sick because my Dad has zero immune system, my coworker can’t because she’s a single mom, and the IT Director next to us spreads it to everyone the second he gets sick. And yet, there he is, coughing and touching everything…

    He’s a family friend, so I’m giving him a lot of grief over it, but it still actually irks me. Dude, you have sick days for a reason. Go home! >:/

    1. TotesMaGoats

      If you are close enough to give him grief, say what you said here about your dad and single mom coworker. Might do the trick.

    2. Molly

      Unfortunately I think beyond giving him grief, there’s not much you can do about it. Take heart in the knowledge that your VP is just the tip of the germ iceberg — just the small part you can see. Some sick people hide it way better than others, or can be infectious before they start to show symptoms (or a while after symptoms abate.)

      There’s no way to manage a work day without coming in contact with an infinite variety of cold and flu bugs — everything you touch has been touched by at least ten different people, probably in the past 24 hours. If you take public transportation, you can multiply that by a factor of thousands.

      Stay away from your VP as much as possible till he’s over the flu – don’t let him breathe or cough on you, don’t sit at his desk or let him sit at yours – and you won’t be any more exposed to germs than you would have been just living your life.

      Sorry, I know it’s icky and makes your skin crawl. I have an autoimmune condition and for several years I was on immunosuppressants. I cringed every time somebody blew their nose in a fifty-foot radius. But really — unless you want to live in a plastic bubble, life is made of germs.

      1. Molly

        I would however suggest that you shower and change clothes before seeing your dad – just as a matter of general practice. If he’s home-bound, that could significantly reduce the chances of you bringing your VP’s germs into your dad’s house.

        Your coworker is probably more likely to catch something from her kid than the other way around.

  43. Lily in NYC

    I take the NYC subway to work and there is an exit that goes directly into my office building. Last week, I saw a coworker and a random dude both turn a corner at the same time (right in front of the door to our bldg) and they almost bumped in to each other. No big deal, you just say excuse me and go on your merry way. Coworker is a big dude and the other guy was small. Coworker got all up in the guy’s face and started screaming at him to apologize and threatened to beat him up. The poor guy looked terrified and said “I already said sorry, but sorry” (even though he did nothing wrong). Coworker still had his chest all puffed up and said “Good, then I guess it’s your lucky day”.

    I was disgusted. This guy is universally despised in my office for being a bully (surprise surprise). My question is – do I say anything to HR about him threatening this guy? My gut is saying to let it go because we weren’t on work property and I don’t think HR would do anything. But it was awful to watch – this guy is the worst.

    1. Kai

      Oh, that’s horrible.

      I don’t know if HR would actually do anything, but they might be interested to know. If anything it could be good for them to have in case something like this actually does happen at work.

      1. AndersonDarling

        I agree, if this guy is this awful, HR probably has a file on him. Could you talk to the guy who was bullied and let him know you saw it? If he wants to say something, you can be a witness.

        1. Lily in NYC

          Thank you both. I don’t know the guy he bullied – he was walking in the subway corridor near our entrance but doesn’t work here. I have a feeling my office is trying to get rid of the bully because of his attitude and complete incompetence (he is in a pretty high-level role and sucks at it). Maybe I’ll mention it casually to our HR rep like you said – like: “in case you think this is important here’s what I saw”.

          1. AndersonDarling

            Holly Cow! He was bullying a stranger! It could have been a client! That is even worse!

            1. Lily in NYC

              And to make it even worse, where I work is part of the Mayor’s Office and the press loves to hate us. It would have been very easy to figure out where bully works just by seeing him go through the entrance in the subway hallway.

              1. fposte

                Oh, yeah, definitely mention it. You really don’t want “Mayor’s Aide Sends Constituents Running for Their Lives” as a headline.

    2. Not So NewReader

      I would say something.

      I reported something I saw a coworker do once, but it was outside of work. I do not think it caused his dismissal, but it was another story on the pile of stories and it provided more context.

      My company was very concerned about their image. I am sure that they were considering what would happen if coworker got arrested for the behavior and how that would impact their image.

  44. Lurker

    Any suggestions for dealing with being annoyed all the time at coworkers who are never here for as long as they should be? It’s turning into a huge pet peeve of mine to see people take 90 minute lunches every day or come in after me and leave before me and no one says a thing.

    1. Lily in NYC

      It’s maddening, but if it doesn’t affect your ability to get your job done, then you really shouldn’t say anything. These things always backfire and in my experience, bosses don’t want to hear about it. The only time I did something was when the other person’s tardiness caused me extra work. I complained once and nothing was done. Then I started documenting the person’s start time for two weeks – and she was over 45 minutes late every day. I also stopped doing her work for her when she was out and just said “sorry, I’m on deadline” when her boss would come to me with her work to do. She ended up getting fired. But she was an admin and had strict work hours. This rarely works with exempt employees. Also, I come in at 8am so sometimes I leave at 4:30 (my hours are 8-4 but I never leave at 4). People don’t know I get here so early so I’ve gotten comments before – which irks me because it’s none of their business and it’s not my problem they aren’t here early enough to see me arrive.

    2. Ann O'Nemity

      I try to ignore stuff like that, especially if it doesn’t affect my work. It’s not my job to keep track of everyone else’s schedule. Who know what’s going on? Maybe they are approved for flexible schedules, teleworking, PTO, medical appts, etc.

    3. Not So NewReader

      “Looks like a management problem to me.” Repeat as needed.

      At some point it stops being an employee problem and starts being a problem of neglectful management. When I start thinking like this I start wondering what else is going on that management is not attending to.

    4. JoAnna

      For all you know they are using intermittent FMLA leave to go to medical appointments before/after work or some other approved reason. Maybe try give them the benefit of the doubt?

    5. QualityControlFreak

      I would reframe the way you’re thinking about this. I’m not a manager, but I am a team lead in a couple of areas. One of these is front desk reception + front and center office admin for the facility, by definition butt-in-chair type jobs. A number of people on my team work flexible hours due to medical issues. When there is no one else in the office I jump in and cover where needed. We have enough people to get the work done, and I don’t have to cover a disproportionate share, so the way I look at it is to be glad that I work for an organization that is so supportive and accommodating of its employees.

      Now, if their work is falling on you routinely, that’s a different conversation.

  45. Jen RO

    Today is a national holiday, but I went to work so that I can take an extra day off next month. There were only two people on the entire floor (open space plan) and it was soooo nice. I like interacting with my coworkers, but one day like this per week would do wonders for my productivity.

    1. hermit crab

      I love those days! I live walking distance to my office so I often come in during snowstorms, etc. when everyone else works from home. It’s so peaceful!

    2. straws

      I’m lucky enough to work in a pretty flexible environment, and I chose to start working on Saturdays for exactly this reason. I’m not the only one, but there’s typically zero interaction and I get so much done!

    3. Elizabeth West

      Oh that’s so nice when that happens. At Exjob, we didn’t shut down between Christmas and New Year’s Day, but a lot of our vendors and customers did, and people would take off and the office was SO quiet. I always saved my mindless, away-from-the-front-desk organizing tasks for that week.

      It was really quiet around here at the end of the fiscal year, too, as people were taking massive amounts of PTO days to use them up before year end.

      1. Jen RO

        It’s the same at my job, and I’ve often worked the last week of December/first week of January. It’s great! (But August 15 was better, because there was no crappy snow and cold.)

    4. OfficePrincess

      This is the one thing I like about Mondays at my job. Our shifts run non-traditional schedules because of the industry we’re in, so I’m usually one of 4 people working on a Monday. I can dig through all of the weekend’s problems and handle emails without people constantly dropping by with more problems.

  46. Over-Zealous College Recruiters

    I’ve been thinking about a career change and considering going back to grad school. In researching graduate programs, I signed up for the mailing list of a few schools I was interested in.

    Shortly afterward, I received some calls and emails from these schools’ recruiters. I’m still at an information-gathering stage, so I haven’t responded. But one school’s recruiter won’t leave me alone. I finally answered by mistake when expecting a call from someone else and she launched into an interview about my career goals. It was a bad time and I wasn’t prepared so I asked to reschedule. She said she’d like to talk within the next couple of days. Then she followed up with four separate emails.

    I feel really uncomfortable and pressured, and yet I don’t want to make a bad impression because what if I decide I want to study there? This is a school with a good reputation. However, the fact that their recruiter is being so aggressive is making me think twice about them.

    1. TotesMaGoats

      Ask to be put on a do not call list and that you’ll follow up when you are ready. Because you reached out to them, you are considered a “hot lead” and so you’ll be hounded to death on a very specific schedule. Fight back. I work in higher ed and this drives me batty, the way we try to engage students. Urgg. If it’s too heavy-handed ask to speak to a manager.

      1. Over-Zealous College Recruiters

        Ok, good to know this is a common practice these days. I’ll write back and let her know I’m still at an information-gathering stage and will contact her again when I’m ready.

  47. louise

    Just did my first firing. Had to do it over the phone because the employee is off work following a truck wreck (his being at fault in an accident in a company dump truck is the reason for the termination). No sense bringing him in all the way to our offices just to deliver that news. He wasn’t a bit surprised to hear from me and knew what was coming. Said thank you to me as we hung up. I had thanked him for his hard work and his strong work ethic and wished him all the best. The whole conversation was under 1 minute.

    Easiest firing I will ever have and I know it–I feel lucky that was my first experience rather than an ugly one! And I really do hope for the best for this guy. Everyone needs to feed their family and I hope he quickly finds something.

    1. Elizabeth West

      Oh, I’m glad it went okay and he was reasonable about it. It sucks to make a mistake like that and lose your job because of it. It sounds like you did it very well.

    2. Not So NewReader

      Some people are amazing, aren’t they? I would look at that and wonder if I would have such grace under a similar stress load.
      Good for you for having an easy time of it.
      And, yeah, I hope he finds something soon, too.

  48. Joce

    I am starting a new promotion on Monday and I am nervous as hell about it. I know I can handle the work, because I’ve been essentially doing the job since my predecessor left in late June, but still. Imposter Syndrome keeps sneaking up on me whenever I have my back turned.

    1. Not So NewReader

      Some self-checks are good. If the thoughts are haunting you, counter each negative thought with “I CAN do this”.

      Best wishes for Monday and for your new job.

  49. Jill-be-Nimble

    Followup: Last week I asked about temp jobs–whether it was cool to quit in the middle of a contract if you get full-time work. A few people referred me to a thread where others had discussed the same thing. In my instance, people thought that I should stick it out and not quit; in the other posts, people were generally of the consensus that everyone understands full-time work is better.

    So, first: My temp interview went really well and I just got the job! Woo-hoo! Four months of stability! And the place/my boss actually seems really cool and it pays a good chunk more than my last temp job!

    Second: Before I went into the interview, I called my temp agent and asked their policy about quitting. He said that everyone realizes that full-time work is better and that he requests a minimum of a week’s notice–two is better, but unnecessary. Hope that helps people who are in the same situation in the future!

    1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

      Good for you.

      If I had seen your post last week, I would have told you that as a frequent temp employer myself, I’m fully supportive of people who have to leave a temp job because they get a perm offer. (I didn’t click the link but I’m probably in the other thread saying the same thing :) )

      Hope you have a great time at during your four months of stability!

      1. Jill-be-Nimble

        @Wakeen’s Teapots: Thanks! I’m looking forward to it. AND I have some really good full-time job leads as well, which is why I asked in the first place. I know that I’m super-late on this, so don’t know if you’ll see it. But you’ve given me really good insight on temp advice in the past, and something came up that really bugged me. Not enough to make a huge deal of, but enough that it might be turning clients off…

        So, when the temp agent called to confirm that I had gotten the job, she said, “Happy Friday!!” when she left the message. Then she repeated it as a greeting when I called her back. I’ve been out of work for the past few weeks.

        All I want in the world right now is to be in a paying job. I’m not looking forward to the weekend, because every day is the same and I can’t afford to go out and have fun. You would think that, as my temp agent, she would know this, and that “Happy Friday!!” isn’t a great greeting to unemployed people. Is this oversensitive of me, or should I gently say something to her? They’ve been good about getting me jobs and making sure that I’m not out of work for very long..but isn’t this kind of common sense?

        1. NewGirlontheBlock

          I’m going to be honest. As a very sensitive person, I think you’re being oversensitive (and I hate that word). Many of the unemployed (I’ve been there) still look forward to the weekend, because it can be a time when things feel less pressured. No one is going to call or email with a rejection, so you’re still in the running for everything.

          First, it WAS a happy Friday. YOU GOT A JOB!!!! Sure, it’s only temp, but it is still a job.

          Second, you need to still find ways to enjoy your weekend! It’s still a weekend. Go to free events, find somewhere to volunteer (never a bad thing when hunting for work), take a hike, go hang out with friends, etc. etc.

        2. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

          Glad to hear I was helpful. :)

          Mostly, “Happy Friday” is something that nice, cheerful people say to others. I do get what you are saying re off key to say to someone who has no job. I think that if you said something to her, you’d either make her feel bad or make her think there is something negative about you. Which would happen would depend on how internally kind she really is.

          I’d let it go in the one to one situation, but it’s thoughtful of you to point it out generally. I’m not a “Happy Friday’er” myself. If I ever become one, I’ll watch who I say it to.

        3. Jill-be-Nimble

          LOL, OK–I guess it is time to lighten up. For me, my irritation with that phrase goes back to being in tons of extremely low-paying jobs and working 24/7 just to make ends’ meet. So, everyone would be all, “HAPPY FRIDAY!! What are you up to this weekend? I’m going wine tasting on a mini vacation.” And I’m like, “I’m working two other jobs and then coming back here.”

          Now that I’ve been out of work, even for a short time, everyone wants to know my weekends plans, and I’m like, “Conserving money, writing cover letters, and not hearing back from my applications for another two days. Woo.” /Curmudgeon.

  50. Virginian

    What sort of questions would be good to ask after you’ve been hired and have accepted an offer? It seems that once you’ve accepted an offer, advice peters off.

    1. hermit crab

      It seems silly, but ask about the logistics of your first day. What time should you show up? What do you need to bring so that you can complete the necessary paperwork? Is there anything special you need to know about parking or getting into the building? etc.

    2. Perpetua

      What sort of questions are you thinking about? I’d say that after accepting an offer there isn’t much you can/should ask, because it is kind of expected that you have gathered all the information you need to make a decision. Anything else is related to actually doing the work once you start, but that falls under the category “questions to ask at a new job”. :)

      Of course, that doesn’t include “technical” questions, such as when to come in on the first day, location/building/office number, should you bring any documentation, etc.

    3. CTO

      Ask if there’s any paperwork to do before you start (background check, etc.). Also ask when your health insurance starts if that’s important for you.

  51. Sabrina

    I would just like to vent about a job I applied to internally. It was an Administrative Assistant position, something I have 10.5 years of experience in. The posting asked for at least 3-5 years. I didn’t get an interview or anything, but I heard back from HR that they were considering candidates with more experience. Uh, OK yeah I guess they could be. I mean what, you found someone with 11 years? I don’t know I just find it hard to believe and I think it’s a BS answer. My manager even said it’s a BS answer. In general I’m frustrated and discouraged that they would treat an internal employee like that but I don’t know why I’m surprised given past experience with them.

    1. MT

      I wouldn’t be surprised if they had someone slotted for that job before it was even posted. Better to let you down early in the process than get your hopes up.

        1. fposte

          Yeah, I think internal candidates deserve better treatment than that, and even external candidates deserve slightly better BS.

      1. Sabrina

        That’s possible, but I have experience in everything they asked for in the ad. Which, granted, are very generic. I emailed the HR contact listed to find out who the hiring manager is, in part to find out more information because it didn’t even say what area the job was for. So, maybe, but if the job posting was more detailed, it would be more helpful. But as they say, if wishes and buts were candy and nuts, we’d all have a Happy Christmas!

    2. Molly

      Ask for feedback. There’s someone at work that this happens to – every other year or so. She’s been trying to move up into an Exec Admin position for years. Every time a position opens up, she applies to it, and doesn’t get it. The main reasons are her negative attitude, her “meh” work ethic, and her sense that the company owes her a promotion.

      I’m not saying ANY of these things are problems for you — obviously. But there may be something specific holding you back that HR would be willing to discuss with you. It could be something like a personality conflict with someone on the team you’d be working for, or a single negative interaction that someone on that team is hanging onto. Or you could be a superstar in Teapot Spreadsheet Reporting and they need a superstar in Teapot Report Editing and Scheduling, instead.

      1. Sabrina

        I have, but I don’t have a lot of hope of hearing an answer. Our HR department is very hands off.

  52. Lauren

    I have a unique situation. I work for a private, non-profit University. I recently interviewed and was hired for a position at the same University, but in a different department taking on a new role (an internal move). However, when the VP of my new department let the VP of my old department know I had been selected for the position, he DEMANDED that I work longer than a typical 2-week notice, and said he would not “release” me from my duties until October 1 … 6 1/2 weeks from today! Is this legal? Are there different exceptions made for private organizations? It just bothers me because I know if I was leaving to move to a different organization, they couldn’t make me stay more than 2-weeks unless I was contracted. Please provide any insight.

    1. TotesMaGoats

      Is it legal? Most likely. Why wouldn’t it be? It’s in the best interests of your employer to work out a transition plan that’s best for the departments involved, not for you to move on. While I’d agree that 6.5 weeks is a little on the long side (not knowing your job), it’s not unheard of. About a month can be normal at my university.

      Consider this an opportunity to build your reputation for cooperation and flexibility. Do you really want to pitch a fit and burn bridges with your old boss and make inter-departmental relations difficult for your new one?

    2. Helka

      As long as the VP of your new department has your back, your soon-to-be-former boss can’t really make you show up. What’s he going to do if on Monday of Week 3 you just aren’t there, because you’re in your new office doing your new job?

      I would make absolutely sure New VP has your back before you do anything, though.

      1. TotesMaGoats

        Why on earth would you do that? Internal moves are really common in universities of all shapes and sizes, the last thing you’d want to do is piss off another department. That story would follow you everywhere. And you’d probably lose that boss as a positive reference. It’s only going to help you to be cooperative in the next 6 weeks.

        1. Colette

          Agreed – and if the VPs have worked it out so that you start in 6.5 weeks, it’s going to reflect badly on you if you show up at your new job 4.5 weeks early.

          This is normal – I once had 4 months between knowing I had a different job and actually starting it.

    3. Jubilance

      I’d contact your HR dept about this. Different employers work differently. I’ve worked at companies where your current manager has no ability to stop your internal move, but at my current employer, the current manager has final say on if the employee can move & when. You should clarify what the policy is at the university & then go from there.

      1. Befuddled Squirrel

        And also contact your new boss and see what his response is (if you haven’t already). In places where I’ve worked, this would be something for the new boss and the old boss to sort out, and the transferring employee would be expected to be flexible and go along with the agreed upon transition plan.

    4. The IT Manager

      IMO this is not up to you. When an internal transfer starts is up to the old and new VP and their boss if they cannot work it out among themselves. You just do as you’re told.

      It’s all up to your new VP. If he can make a case that you’re needed to start earlier (and maybe needed to start now at the beginning of the new semester) then you start earlier than October 1st. But you’re old boss is free to make the counter-arguement that he needs to time to hire your replacement (although, let’s be honest rarely is a position fillled in 6 weeks).

      This is absolutely legal and applies to all public and private internal transfers.

    5. Lauren

      Thanks everyone for your advice. I guess I’ll just have to go with the flow for a little while longer. Have a great weekend!

      1. Frances

        Just adding on that, yeah, you should let your new and old bosses work this out. I did an internal transfer within a university once upon a time, and it just so happened that the second week of my two week notice was a week that everyone else in my old department was out of the office at a conference. So my bosses worked out a deal that I’d work a half day in my old department the following Monday so I could hand off everything in person, and then go to the new department.

        It’s annoying, but I also bet your HR department has some language in their internal transfer policy that covers this — and it likely says that it’s the responsibility of the two department heads to work out a mutually agreeable transfer date.

        1. Not So NewReader

          I have seen this one at Old Job. And just like you are describing here, the department heads hammer out a plan and agree on the plan. The employee just sits there for however long it takes for the plan to play out.

    6. Petunia

      I’m not sure of the US legalities, but I work in a UK university and my notice period is 3 months. So not only legal here, but standard, at least in my institution. I’ve lost job offers because of it :(

  53. ACA

    I have a job interview scheduled on Monday! In this round of job-searching (which, in fairness, has only been going on for a few months), I have yet to obtain a second interview anywhere, so I’m going to try and amp up my preparation for this one.

    This might be the rare interviewer who understands the difficulties of interviewing while already employed – especially interviewing at the same company (and by company, I mean university). The interview is scheduled at 12, obviously during my lunch hour, and she told me that it would be okay if I was a little late, since she knew I might not be able to leave work until 12 exactly. And she offered to meet in a neutral location if I wanted to avoid running into anyone I knew in her office! It was so encouraging, and it made me even more excited for this interview than I already was.

  54. RandomNameHere

    So this is very preemptive but I wanted to get your thoughts. I’m in an organization that has a very clear promotion path. I joined a couple of years ago and have gotten really positive feedback ever since. This has led me to believe that I could be promoted at the end of the year (it would be an early promotion, but not terribly unusual for my organization). I recently asked for some informal feedback and again got a really positive message. My question is this: how can I avoid thinking about this as we get closer to the end of the year? I basically don’t want to psych myself out if I’m not promoted, given that there could be various reasons for that not to happen, independently of my performance. But I’m naturally a planner, and I tend to run scenarios in my head for every possible situation – it’s what my brain does when I’m not fully focused on one task. I don’t know how to think about my upcoming review without thinking of its possible outcomes, or even if that would be a good idea.

    1. Malissa

      Take the promotion off the table in your head. Give yourself 500 reasons why that won’t happen this year. Budget to tight, no openings, etc.
      I say this knowing that I too would be running 1000 scenarios in my head as well. If you can get your head into a place where you don’t think it can happen then you won’t be disappointed if it doesn’t happen and you’ll be happy if it does.

  55. Molly

    I’ve been waiting for the Friday open thread!

    My group just hired a new team member. She’ll be working very closely with me, as kind of a two-person team doing Teapot Quality Control for a new regional office. There are lots of other people in the office, but they’re all in different departments; we’ll be the only two people in Teapot Quality Control in our office. Even our supervisor works in another office.

    Yesterday was my first day working with her, and she seems lovely. She’s very warm and friendly — a bit over-eager to please, but I imagine that will pass. I know a lot of things about the company she doesn’t, because she’s new; she knows a lot about the work that I don’t, because I’m an internal transfer to the Teapot Quality area. I think we’ll get along fine, and can help each other a lot. I want to make her feel welcome. I’ve let her know I’m willing to help with anything she needs, or answer any questions I can.

    The problem is, while I consider myself a warm and friendly person when I’m socializing, I can be pretty reserved at work. I’ll stop and chat now and then, joke around with people in nearby cubes when something like that breaks out — but I tend to spend 90% of my time doing my own thing. Mostly my own work thing; sometimes my own reading-ask-a-manager thing. I’m an introvert who likes people — I just like them in very measured doses, and not at regular intervals. Lunch, for instance, I prefer to manage on my own, because it gives me a chance to relax and stop thinking about work, and just read a book or whatever.

    What are some ways to make her feel at home and support her as a new employee, without having to be Sally Social all the time? I get the feeling she might be more on the extroverted side, and since I want us to be a great team, I want to get off on the right foot — and not resent her for just being another human I have to interact with.

    haven’t been the “new kid” in an office in a long time, and I can’t really remember what might have made me feel more welcomed and supported. Plus, it’s probably different; I think I mostly wanted to be given direction and then left alone. :)

    1. Aunt Vixen

      “I really want to make you feel welcome and at home and supported as a new employee. Please don’t think that when I’m doing my own thing it means I am not available to you or anything like that. I’m pretty introverted and reserved but I don’t want you to see ‘quiet’ and think ‘go away’.”

      Or something. Manage her expectations! It is not wrong to be reserved and introverted.

    2. M

      Maybe just a statement summarizing what you’ve said?
      “I tend to be a little quiet or wrapped up in my work, but feel free to ask me any questions if you have any. I think you’ve been doing great for your first week/day here.”

    3. CTO

      I agree with the others–just explain your style. Also let her know what the best way to ask you questions is–do you prefer email? Drop-bys? Scheduled meetings to address it all at once? Can she interrupt you if you seem hard at work?

    4. CTO

      Also, be her source for insider information–the best lunch spot, how to work with a particularly difficult coworker, the conventions around who speaks in meetings. We often learn that stuff the hard way, and it’s so nice to have someone smooth the way for us a bit.

    5. HeyNonnyNonny

      As a recent new kid in the cube, the things that made me feel welcome weren’t necessarily ‘getting to know you’ conversations, but more people taking care of practical details that made my job easier, like making sure I had the right office supplies and network access. That might be a good way for you to show her that she’s welcome without having to be too social.

    6. MaryMary

      I’m on the introverted side, and I prefer structured social time to random chats. So take her to lunch, invite her to happy hour, and/or schedule a periodic check in meeting to make sure she’s settling in okay. You can also make sure that you introduce her around to other people in your office. Even if she won’t be working with them directly, it’s nice to know the names of the people you pass in the hall.

    7. Not So NewReader

      Start by giving her the shorten version of what you have said here. As mentioned above make sure she has supplies and information. Introduce her to the others. Don’t make her always come to you. Randomly seek her out and ask her how it’s going or ask her specific questions. Don’t forget notes. Little notes on things here and there, will help her to work independently without giving her a sense that you don’t care.

      One thing I like to keep in mind is could this person work without me for a day (winter storm, sick day). If you are showing her how to stand on her own two feet that is huge. The sooner you get her confident about what she has to do the less concern you will have here.

    8. Jen RO

      I would simply tell her that. She will probably appreciate knowing when and how to approach you, and knowing that you are not unfriendly, just more reserved.

  56. lucy

    I guess this is what the open threads are for.. this is going to seem kind of petty, but any advice that you might have would be really appreciated.

    I’m the most senior employee on my team. I’ve been tasked with mentoring one of my newer coworkers, it started organically and then the organization made it official. There’s some things that she does that are really obnoxious, but I can’t tell if it’s just me being annoyed by it, or if it’s something that might be hurting her.

    She is too much of an active-listener (if there is such a thing). During meetings, she will say “yes, mhmm, okay” every other beat of the conversation. It’s not so much of a problem when we’re just brainstorming, but she also does it while higher-ups are teaching us things or going over very important assignments. I know she’s just trying to be engaged in the conversation, but in those cases it really comes off as her knowing all the information already, and I’ve seen her get strange looks from some of the VPs.

    Another thing that she does, is when we’re in important meetings that I’m leading, she will hear me make a statement, and then she will rephrase what I said and say it again. She does the same thing when we’re all copied on emails.

    So what say you, readers? Is this something that a mentor can address, or do I just let it go?

    1. Sabrina

      This might be her way of remembering things. Especially the part where she repeats it back to you. She might be making sure she remembers and understands. The active listening thing might just be how she is.

      1. lucy

        Well she doesn’t really repeat it back to me, she rephrases what I say and says it to who I was talking to. Kind of like a weird translator. It’s awkward.

        1. fposte

          I don’t think they sound as obnoxious as you do generally, and I’d probably let the “yes, okay” thing go. I might give her a heads-up on the explaining thing–I have a compulsive mediating itch myself, so I understand the impulse, but it sounds like unnecessary clutter. I might in a calm moment note that she has this “translating” behavior–could she explain what motivates it? It sounds like she might be somebody who feels like she’s not contributing if she’s not making noise, so give her permission and strong encouragement to contribute by quietly listening when you’re giving meeting instructions or emailing, or by adding something when her contribution has been sought.

          1. Mints

            I wonder if this ties into the interruptor thread a while ago. IIRC, fposte was an interruptor (I am too), and the “Yes” “Mhhm” wouldn’t really bother me. But if you’re not, it might feel more disruptive

    2. AndersonDarling

      These quirks almost sound like a result of bad advise. I’ve read about repeating everything back in your own words as a way to show your boss that you understand. And I could see the murmuring in meetings as bad advise to make sure you are noticed by the speaker.
      It sounds like a very awkward situation. Maybe you could just point out these quirks and ask her about them. It may start a discussion where it would be easier to say that she should restrain herself in these particular situations.

      1. Molly

        I’ve heard advice like that, too – that you repeat a request or direction in your own words, either in person or in writing, to make sure you and your supervisor are on the same page. I think it can actually be helpful advice, as long as you’re not being weird about it.

        It sounds like she’s being weird about it, though. This is the kind of thing I’d do in email. Like, “Jane, just to confirm from our earlier conversation, you wanted me to do X and Y, and I’m on that. Is there anything else you’ll need for this project? Thanks!” It also gives me an opportunity to ask for anything we might have skipped over, like a deadline or a question about how to do X or why.

        The translator thing you describe seems like something different, and maybe something she could be coached out of if she’s at all receptive to feedback.

      2. Clever Name

        I had a coworker accuse me of stealing his ideas when I repeated something he said in an email in a reply to that email (in my mind, I was reiterating what he said, but he obviously didn’t see it that way). Now I make sure I specifically say, “I’m repeating this to make sure I’m understanding where you’re at” or whatever. I don’t know if you necessarily need to caution your coworker against this, but apparently some don’t like it when people do this. I had also heard it as advice from a former boss. Different strokes, I guess.

    3. MostlyAnony

      “Yes, mhmm, okay” wouldn’t bother so much as if she was saying “yes, I know.” That would be way more obnoxious and would totally grate me… I experience this so much in training. We are often trained on the same topics every year with little variations on the topics. Everyone knows pretty much all the material being covered–so it’s mostly refreshers. We usually have different presenters who bring different experiences so I look to find something new in the discussion but the peanut gallery talk about how much they already know throughout the entire workshops every.damn.year. I don’t mind goofing off, during the lunch session but while the presenter is speaking just drives me insane not to mention it’s so freaking rude. Sorry…

      Anyway what you’re describing doesn’t sound obnoxious, it sounds like she’s trying to remember the information or feels she needs to respond to breaks and silence in a conversation so that becomes her cue to say ok (for lack of better term). It really seems like her style learning and remembering…

      1. HR “Gumption”

        Oh man, I hear you on that “yes, I know” response. I had one emp (manufacturing days) that did that all the time. I began to reply, “No, you don’t and that’s why I’m talking to you now”.

    4. Not So NewReader

      I worked with one of these people. And is it super distracting. After a bit I began to see her as not-so-professional. I tried not to let my bias creep in but it was a battle for me.

      Start out softly by pulling her to one side and saying “You do not have to respond to every single thing I [we] say.” Point out in meetings that answering every sentence the speaker says is generally not done and she needs to be more aware of that. Tell her a good rule of thumb is to remain silent unless someone is clearly speaking directly to her.

      If the behavior continues you will have to step up to stronger wording. In the end, if she does not stop, her coworkers will be wanting to choke her.
      The long term impact of this habit is that her coworkers will end up confused and off track. The endless chatter really pulls down the group over time. Please do not let this go unchecked. Picture this three years from now.
      I suspect you have been assigned this person for this very reason. The higher ups think that she is not “getting it”.
      Before you do much of anything check in with your own boss on this.

    5. Windchime

      I don’t really have advise, but can commiserate. I’ve seen people do this, and it feels like they are aligning themselves with the speaker and confirming (for everyone else’s benefit) what the speaker is saying. So rather than signaling “Yes, I understand” with their murmuring, it’s like they are saying, “Yes, you are correct”.

      Same thing with the “translating”. The translator is demonstrating that they understand what has been said, and they are re-explaining it to someone else. That’s the way it seems to me anyway.

      I could be misinterpreting the behavior, but this type of thing really bugs me.

  57. Screwed up at work

    I screwed up at work this week, twice. One was a small mistake of the “stuff happens” variety. The other was the result of just not doing a good enough job. I feel terrible and filled with anxiety and shame (more than I should, but that’s another issue). The worst of it is that I failed the “don’t surprise your boss” test; she got two surprises this week that were the result of my screwing up. Yuck.

    So, to help me maintain my sanity: I’d love to hear your stories about times you made a mistake/did a bad job/etc. and recovered. Like, you didn’t get fired, you went on to have be successful, your boss didn’t care nearly as much as you feared, etc. Please help me out!

    1. Kai

      Early in my career (I do customer service-type stuff at a university), I gave a student’s parent incorrect information on the phone, and then the parent went to some higher-ups with my name, saying “Kai said that I could make this happen for my child and therefore I am demanding it happen,” when there was no way it was going to happen.

      I was so ashamed and miserable, but I was very honest and apologetic about my mistake, so my very reasonable bosses didn’t do anything, even though they were super annoyed by the inconvenience. I’m sure if I had gotten defensive or lied about what happened things would have gone differently.

      Hang in there! I know it sucks.

    2. Aunt Vixen

      I once got the following e-mail from a senior partner at a law firm where I was a legal assistant:

      Hi Vixen and [co-worker]-

      Please be prepared to explain to [junior partners] tomorrow why a Federal Express package from opposing counsel that was delivered by [secretary] to the workroom last week on July 6 or 7 sat unopened and unreported until about an hour ago. At that point, we found out that the opponent had filed a paper last week and sent it to us by Federal Express. As I understand it, we then contacted the workroom and there the package sat.

      That unopened package contained a paper by [defendant] that we had been waiting to receive all of last week. A reply is due today, and we are urgently attending to that now. So we cannot confer with you today to get to the bottom of this and find out any further facts of which we are unaware, but this is a very serious breakdown in our system which must never happen again.

      I am leaving town today at 6 PM to visit another client and cannot sit in tomorrow to go over this situation. But [junior partners] fully understand the gravity of this situation and will represent me at the meeting. Maybe we misunderstand the facts, but we must find out why this happened and how we can assure that it never happens again.

      If you’re reading that as “I do not have words for how profoundly you have screwed up,” you’re reading it right. Within minutes, I replied with (essentially) “I’m Spartacus”:

      Hi everyone —

      I obviously take full responsibility for our failure to distribute the paper in question immediately. We received a number of pleadings from [secretary] last week, and while we can’t always recognize the relative importance of one paper or another from its title, there’s no question that everything should be distributed promptly. In the past, as I understand it, there’s been some confusion about distributing hard copies of papers that have previously come in via the fax server — but I have explained that it’s far preferable to distribute a document twice than not at all. Additionally, there are some pleadings that are not to be distributed to the client, and we don’t know which these are — but there’s no reason we can’t distribute all documents to the team even before we hear back from [associates] about whether the client gets them or not.

      All of the above seems second nature, but I shouldn’t have assumed when I handed off the [tasks] that what was obvious to me was obvious to anyone else. It will not happen again.

      I made a date to get yelled at, and kept the date although the yelling never really materialized, because as Kai noted, taking responsibility tends to take a little wind out of a not-unreasonable boss’s sails. A week later, I stayed late to finish something one night and the first thing I saw in my inbox the following morning was a “well done” from the very same senior partner.

      You’ll be all right. Tell your boss you feel terrible because of [mistake] and you’d like to suggest a way to fix it or at least a way to ensure you won’t make the same mistake again. And let us know how you’re doing!

      1. Screwed up at work

        Thank you. This is really helpful. The details aren’t at all the same but the basic situation is: I was responsible for a thing and it didn’t happen (and it was my fault, truly), and there were negative consequences to my organization.

        I sent my version of the apologetic email. We’ll see about the conversation in which I am chastised – will probably happen during my regular check-in next week.

    3. AndersonDarling

      I once mixed up two fed-x packages. A check was supposed to go one place, and a contract to another. Ops.
      I felt terrible, like I was going to get fired. But I admitted it happened, and I did everything I could to fix it. My boss wasn’t as upset as I thought he should have been. Maybe those things happened all the time before I worked there.

      1. Elizabeth West

        Oh, I did that once with two giant, heavy widgets. I mixed up the addresses and each one went to the wrong place. Getting that straightened out was really awful and embarrassing. Grrr. I took full responsibility and my boss wasn’t happy, but he didn’t freak out. He just said, “Get it fixed.”

        1. chewbecca

          I’ve been surprised at the amount of checks I receive for our competitors. They’re addressed to us, some are even written out to us, but the payment itself is supposed to go to our competitor and usually includes their invoice.

          I’m sure it’s not good on their end, but I always find it somewhat amusing.

          1. Windchime

            We actually used to have that happen all the time at a previous job where I was in charge of the payment posting team. Once, we received a huge check (thousands of dollars) for another medical facility. Our cashier opened hundreds of checks per day, so she opened this one as well and we deposited it. Once we got to the voucher for this check, we immediately saw that it wasn’t for us so we promptly refunded the issuing company and sent a letter explaining what happened (as well as returning the voucher to them).

            Fast forward a couple of weeks, and we get an angry call from the other medical facility. The insurance company had told them that we cashed their check, and now the other facility wanted money from us. I was able to diffuse the situation by producing copies of the check that we had refunded to the insurance company as well as the correspondence. That calmed down the lady from the other medical facility immediately, and now she had information with which to get her check reissued from the insurance company.

            So yes, the mistake was ours and we should never have deposited the check in the first place, but the fact that we promptly refunded it AND didn’t get defensive when the other medical facility contacted us was very helpful in resolving the situation.

    4. Jubilance

      In my first job I broke an expensive piece of equipment when I didn’t read instructions correctly. Actually, this happened twice – once I didn’t read the directions & the other time I just spaced out & forgot a crucial step. In both cases, the equipment was down therefore testing couldn’t be done, so we were holding up other team’s timelines. And there was a cost to the company to get them fixed. With each one, I immediately told my boss and we were able to get the equipment fixed under our service contracts in a timely manner. Sometimes stuff happens – all you can do is react as best you can. Best of luck!

      1. Clever Name

        I swear to God I broke the transmission on one of our work trucks. It’s an enormous beast of a truck with manual transmission, and while I used to own a manual car, I always had a heck of a time shifting that darn thing. One day, I just couldn’t get that thing to go in the right gear. I was afraid I wouldn’t make it to the jobsite because I just couldn’t drive it. I took it back to work and drove my own car. The next day I found out that the transmission was utterly hosed and the truck was in the shop. I went to one of my bosses and fessed up that I thought I had broken the transmission, and I hadn’t said anything earlier because I thought I was just having trouble driving it. He assured me that it was impossible that I ruined the transmission, but I still felt awful.

        1. MaryMary

          When I was in college, I was an office assistant for the Dean of Students. One day they sent me to drive one of the enormous university-owned passenger vans to the airport to pick up our oldest living alumna and drive her to her hotel. I made it to the airport fine, managed to get our oldest living alum up into the van, and helped her into the hotel. The van was not a new model (and this was some years ago), so you had to unlock the door with the key instead of clicking a button. When I went to drive the van back to campus, the key broke off in the drivers side door lock. I had half (well, probably a third) of the key in my hand, and the rest was securely in the lock.

          I had to explain to both my boss and the people at the hotel that I had not locked myself out of the van, but actually broken the key and screwed up the lock on the drivers side. They eventually had me leave the hotel employees to deal with campus maintenance services or whoever was in charge of university transportation, and I walked all the way back to campus. I never learned how they fixed the van, but it probably wasn’t cheap.

          1. C Average

            I’m sure it was awful at the time, but what a fantastic story!

            (I have to admit that even in the midst of the stupidest scrapes I’ve gotten myself into–and there have been some gems–I’ve thought, “Wow, I can’t wait to tell people this story.”

            1. MaryMary

              Well, at least it was just bad luck, I’m not sure it’s very helpful to poor Screwed Up. At least no one banned me from driving around campus. Actually, after that incident the Dean loaned me his Mercedes to run a work related errand. He is a short man and I am a tall lady and I couldn’t figure out how to adjust the seat, but there was no permanent damage to the car (or me).

    5. Jill-be-Nimble

      I work on the editorial side of magazines. When I first started my first job, I stoked to be in touch with the relative of an extremely famous (albeit, famously cranky) author as part of an article I was fact-checking. (To be honest, I kind of detest this author and never read much of him outside of what was required in high school/college–but it was cool to be in touch with a part of literary royalty.)

      Well, I made a bunch of rookie mistakes. I used a common misspelling of the author’s name throughout my email communication (in my defense, several of our authors make that same mistake when quoting this author–you can be sure I never did again!). I asked too much of the author, trying to clear a couple of extra things off my list, which annoyed him. Stuff like that.

      I got a blistering email back from the guy’s nephew saying that, because of my egregious errors, I was obviously a trolling groupie who couldn’t possibly work for the publication I claimed. He demanded a copy of my resume, three references, and proof of employment before he would even deign to answer my questions.

      I, nearly in tears, told my manager, who caught my mistakes. I tried to placate him by apologizing and explaining that it wouldn’t happen again..but if he really doubted where I worked, he could ask the author who had originally interviewed him. I guess he had forgotten her name, so he acted like he had never heard of her when he wrote me a snide email back, saying that I hadn’t provided the requisite documents.

      The worst part? I was just trying to check that he actually said a quote somewhat on par with: “The lake water was pretty and clear. We sometimes raced boats on it.” That was it.

      I totally thought that I was going to get fired for offending this guy–luckily, my manager wrote him off as the entitled a**hole he was, and I learned a valuable lesson about communicating with sources!

      1. Jill-be-Nimble

        Oy, I just realized how unclear all of that was. I hate making so many typos when I talk about working in editorial (especially about making mistakes…sigh).

        Anyway, it was an in-house author who interviewed the nephew of a famous (dead) author. The nephew was the one who chewed me out. I told the nephew to check with OUR author about me, because he had spoken with her directly. He still didn’t remember her and chewed me out again.

          1. Jill-be-Nimble

            Hah–thanks! This was a woman (who is still one of my idols) who comforted me with her first errata letter: she had let an article go out with a photo caption about “Boston’s Pubic Gardens.” We’ve all been there at some point!

    6. Sadsack

      Seriously, I just posted the same exact request a couple of weeks ago. You are not alone!

      I made a mistake in calculating a large payment we needed to make. The mistake didn’t cost us any extra, but delayed our knowing by a couple of months the significant amount we should have paid. I was deeply entrenched in the work I was doing and didn’t step back to realize the big picture. My manager wasn’t thrilled, but I did what I could to minimize the blow and we found a way to work with what we were dealt. I felt terrible and was really embarrassed. I told him so, and he was cool about it. It really made me assess how I manage my work though, so I don’t miss important details in the future.

      The fact that you accept that it was your mistake and you feel bad about it should mean something to your boss.

      1. Screwed up at work

        Do you remember what thread it was in? I’d love to read some of the responses you got!

        1. Sadsack

          It was the July 25 open thread, but my name was Big Stupid – that should give you an indication how I was feeling that day.

    7. Clever Name

      This happened within the last year. I’m a really good writer, and if my perception of my reputation at work is accurate, I think I’m seen as one of the better writers in my (small) company. I was directing a junior coworker in writing a memo/letter, and I just did a really terrible job. It was a bad work product. Granted, my junior coworker’s name was on it, but I took full responsibility for it to my boss. I just wasn’t thinking what the deliverable should be, and the client was in a big hurry, so the letter was really lacking. After I helped my coworker fix it, I popped my head into my boss’ office and said, “Oh, sorry that letter was so crappy. I won’t do it again.” He just laughed. I’m still here, and I wasn’t “disciplined” for it in any way. I acknowledged my mistake, fixed it, briefly apologized, and moved on. That’s really all anyone can do.

      If you feel unrelenting shame and are beating yourself up and feel anxiety over it, maybe it’s time to talk to someone about it. :)

    8. Not So NewReader

      My husband came home from work one day pretty shook up. “I am getting written up for forgetting to do X”, he said. (He had never gotten written up on any job, this was huge to him.)

      I said, “Well is it true, did you forget X?”

      Yes, he answered.

      I said, “Fifty percent of your problem is SOLVED.” He looked at me like I was from outer space. I said the worst thing that can happen to a boss is these situations is that the employee entirely denies the error. If the employee admits it you can almost see the boss exhale and resume breathing normally.

      I gave him some steps to work on. 1) Apologize. 2) Tell the boss what steps you will take to fix the immediate situation. Give him a time frame. 3) Tell the boss what your plan is for preventing this mistake to ever, ever happen again.

      Unfortunately, the boss wanted to carry through with the write up anyway. So my husband pressed on. “I have been here Y years. I have never had a write up. I am a reliable employee and my coworkers count on me. [etc, etc].” In the end the boss threw away the write up. Of course if my husband forgot X again, he would have been in super hot water. But since he had a plan to ensure that never happened, there was no further issue here.

      A subtly here: My husband chose words and examples that his boss could use to explain to the big boss why he did not write my husband up. Remember your boss has to explain to someone why he feels the situation is resolved. Give him that explanation.

    9. Pretend Name

      My first job out of college I missed a line on a report and didn’t schedule the inventory our customer required for the next day’s production. My boss got a call at 10 that night. We didn’t shut down the line, but it cost about $1000 to avoid.

      I got a talking to about details the next day and we added a check to the process. I still miss working for him ten years later. Unfortunately the business hasn’t grown enough for him to need my current skill set.

    10. Schmitt

      My department head in college always told us, “You aren’t a real programmer until you’ve made a $10000 error.” Shit happens, especially in my field.

      There are a lot of ways my boss could improve, but he’s /amazing/ when I’m all, “I screwed up, here’s what I’m doing to fix it” – he just keeps calm and helps fix it. I thanked him for it last time, and he said, “The mistake was already made. What would getting angry about it help? You were already doing that anyway.”

    11. NewHR

      When I was working as an Admin Assistant for an accounting firm, the big BIG boss messed something up and had me drive my vehicle with the financial statements over to the client a.s.a.p. I was working on another client with a similar name and I was in a hurry to get this done for the boss so I didn’t realize until after I got back that I delivered the wrong financial statement, so we messed up something twice for that company. I called the person I dropped them off to and asked her to throw them out or shred them so I could e-mail the correct financial statements but she didn’t. Later that day the client called to tell me that he received the wrong ones and that he just shredded them. I then e-mailed him the correct ones and everything was fine. I am not sure if the big, BIG boss ever found out what I did.

  58. Ask a Manager Post author

    For the first Friday in months, I’ve taken the day off from all other work and am just lounging on the couch with a cup of tea, reading the open thread in real time. (I used to be able to do this nearly every week before my workload seemingly quadrupled.) It is bliss.

    1. KarenT

      This thread is awesome to read with the new website format! I’ve always avoided the open threads because of the way they acted on my phone. This is my first time reading one with the new site design and I love it!

      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        Yay! There have definitely been some hiccups with the new site (and we’re still trying to get the ads to behave right on phones), but overall I really like the changes and am beyond thrilled that for the most part people are happy with them. I had been bracing for a flood of complaints, which is what usually happens when websites change things.

        1. AVP

          I think you hit the right combination of tweaking things that needed to be fixed, and leaving enough of the bones in place to feel similar for long-time readers. Very few redesigns get that mix right!

    2. Cbuk

      Excellent! I tripped and fell on my way out of the office so I’m the couch with ice on my knees. Keep the comments coming, people, I’m not good at resting.

  59. Karon

    I’m curious what everyone’s take on this would be. My brother is currently looking for employment in my institution, and I know that some job openings will be coming up in a division which is completely different from mine. I keep him informed about vacancies, so when they come up, if he is qualified, he will apply, but can the fact that I have worked for this institution for almost ten years (and done quite well) be helpful to him in any other way? He doesn’t have many references, could he list me as one of them? The people in the division know me, so they might recognize the similar last name if he goes into an interview. If they don’t mention it, can he bring it up if it seems organic to the conversation? Do you think it would help at all? My immediate reaction is not to show there is a connection between us at all unless someone specifically asks about it, but I wonder if I am preventing him from having an extra advantage if I do. I’d appreciate any thoughts on this.

    1. TotesMaGoats

      No, you cannot be his reference. Unless you were ever his actual boss. If he chooses to bring it up, he should be very careful with it. Something simple like “I’ve heard my sister, Karon, talk about how great it is to work here.” And then LET IT GO. You are letting him know about vacancies, the rest is up to him.

      1. The IT Manager

        Yep! As a sister, you would be assumed to be a biased reference. This is a case where friends/co-workers.former co-workers can help someone that a family member can not.

    2. BRR

      He should not list you as a reference unless you can speak to the quality of his work and even then I might not buy it. I would also not bring it up if I was him, it doesn’t strengthen him as a candidate.

  60. Pontoon Pirate

    How do I deal with an opportunity that’s fallen into my lap?
    A little less than a year ago, I took a job at a large nonprofit that was settling in after a restructure/re-org. I’m not new to the nonprofit world, but my last several jobs were either short-term contract gigs, one short-lived job at a truly dysfunctional nonprofit, and my previous job, which I intended to stay at long-term, but budget issues drove my manager to make noises about a layoff, so I left.

    For the most part, I really enjoy the work I do here, but the re-org has had a number of issues relating to process, efficiency and overall job satisfaction in my department as a whole. Worse, the re-org suddenly closed off opportunities for advancement that I thought were available when I interviewed.

    Now, a strange opportunity has fallen in my lap. My husband’s ex called him yesterday asking if I’d be interested in replacing her in her role at a private sector company. The job duties would have a lot of overlap with what I’m doing now, with a few more administrative tasks. It’s a lateral move for the most part in title but in seniority it would be a move back. Yet, I can’t stop thinking about it. I could finally earn a decent paycheck (I know people say you can get paid well in non-profits, but in my part of the USA, my colleagues and I agree that’s a purple unicorn). There’s room for growth and actual resources to get the job done. But the job would also require some OT and staying on top of a lot of requests that are often unpredictable. I have an anxiety disorder that manifests itself in a lot of panic over “reading” situations, like, “Am I asking the right question? What if I forget to ask for B? What do they mean by X? Should I wait on F because maybe G will happen?” It causes me to overthink a lot of things, be more risk-averse, and generally need more of an internal push to be proactive about things I’m not totally clear on.

    My husband is really pushing me to consider taking this job for the higher salary alone (nearly 40% than what I make now). I don’t want to leave the devil I know just to fail, but that may be my anxiety talking. When your anxiety sounds exactly like you, it can be difficult to be objective! This will definitely alter my career path (such as it is). There’s no definite offer, but Ex got the job through a private connection and she thinks this could work the same way. I’m torn!

    1. fposte

      I’m not seeing you mention the trajectory thing that comes immediately to my mind: if you get this job, you really have to stay for a while even if you don’t like it, because you have a lot of short-term history and would be leaving your current job after a scant year.

      Also, don’t be overly seduced just by the fact that this job came to you. If you’re willing to be considered for other jobs right now, don’t limit yourself to this one–look around. If you are going to leave early, make the most of it.

    2. BRR

      You say it’s a step back in seniority but in an overall career path is it a move up? That probably makes no sense but I have a colleague who was associate director of chocolate teapots at organization ABC, now she’s a senior chocolate teapot analyst which is a step down but our organization is like ten times the size of ABC so in a way it really is a step up.

      I think most people get new job anxiety. I don’t think the anxiety is worth never branching out. But I also don’t think you should accept a job just for salary. I also think if you think if you’re seriously considering the private sector job you should apply and get to know about the organization. You can always turn it down if you get the offer because you don’t think it’s a good fit. Don’t put the cart before the horse.

    3. HeyNonnyNonny

      Personally, I’d say go for the higher paycheck– a 40% increase can do amazing things. But I am a chronic budget worrier, so I’m pretty biased! I agree with BRR– you might as well apply and interview to find out more. Get more information before you worry about a decision.

      1. Pontoon Pirate

        Ha! Yes, a higher salary can bandage a lot of wounds, especially when the work is fairly similar. There’s always a sense that the grass is greener, but there’s no harm in seeing what’s on offer. I haven’t been actively looking, to be clear. A lot of promised opportunities that were supposed to come with this job have not materialized, but I do (did?) want to stick with this gig for at least a few years.

    4. Not So NewReader

      Anxiety can be based in part because of the absence of facts. I think you need more facts.

      Will your hubby’s ex talk with you about the day-to-day stuff at the job?

      You know it’s only an application and an interview. You can back out at any point. I’d recommend to go on a fact seeking mission.

      Why is ex leaving?
      What were the best/worst parts of the job?
      Any dingbats that you should be aware of?
      What about the benefits, are they real or just something on paper?

      If you can, calmly explain to your husband that his pushing you is only adding to your anxiety. Tell him that you are not comfy changing jobs so soon, but you would like to learn more about this job. (Hopefully, he will dial back the push somewhat.)

      1. Pontoon Pirate

        Yes, she’s already walked me through the day-to-day stuff. She’s leaving because her old boss is starting a new company and she misses the work she used to do for that boss–another opportunity that just fell in the lap. I think every workplace has some dingbats, but her description of the culture and the people didn’t raise any red flags for me. The benefits seem fairly standard, honestly, but some of them she wasn’t entirely clear on, so I’d have to get an offer before I could find out more there.

        My anxiety is an ongoing disorder–I think everyone has a certain amount of anxiety to start something new, but I battle it every day, and I know how to do my job–my brain just tries to make me think that I don’t. That’s the concern I have with switching to a faster, more unpredictable schedule. But at the same time, I don’t want to be held back in my career forever because of anxiety. I work with a therapist and it’s been helpful, but I’m not all the way “there” yet, you know?

        1. Not So NewReader

          You might be closer than you think. I hope you are talking to your therapist about this, because this is a real-life example that she can help you with and maybe the two of you make some differences in your life. (NOT necessarily meaning you get this job, but rather use it as an example that can be applied to other situations.)

          I am a fan of inching through uncertianty (such as changing jobs), go slowly and with eyes wide open. It is to your advantage that you can back out at any point in this process- not all situations come with that option.

  61. KarenT

    Ok, I’m expecting a job offer next week, but I’m not sure I want the job. How long can I reasonably ask for to think it over without coming across as disinterested?

    1. fposte

      The problem isn’t just that you’d look uninterested, it’s also that you’d be risking them losing the person they’d hire if you say no.

      How much time do you think you’d want to think it over?

      1. KarenT

        A few days to a week, I think. It depends on what the offer looks like. If I’m not happy with it I’d decline quickly.

    2. Perpetua

      I’m not basing this on experience, but my first thought was “I wouldn’t ask for longer than a week”.

      Then again, my company has just hired a soon-to-be grad who was thinking about it for 3 weeks and it was perfectly acceptable for us/my bosses, so it really depends on the company.

      What do you expect to change in the time you ask for, that is, in what way precisely will you be able to make a better decision if you have more time?

      1. KarenT

        That’s good to know! A week is enough for me. I can’t imagine asking for three weeks, but it’s interesting to hear your company was okay with it.

      2. AndersonDarling

        I was thinking the same thing. More time may not get you to a firm conclusion. I would consider why you may not want the job, then be prepared to talk about those reasons when offered the position. Money and benefits are things that could be negotiated. If it is work culture or the actual job duties, they may be able to answer some more questions to help you make the decision.

    3. CTO

      Ask them! “I’d like a few days to think everything over. When do you need me to get back to you?” Asking for a few days is entirely normal at most employers.

  62. Labratnomore

    I am wondering if any of you have some advice for me. I recently interviewed for a position in my company for which I am very qualified. Another qualified candidate got that job, and I got some good feedback from the hiring supervisor of some areas that they thought I was lacking. I have been trying to work on the feedback, which included my project management skills (this is where that group has the most interaction with me). It has only been a couple of months, so I have not had much time to work on those skills and to gain visible improvement from their perspective. Now they have a second opening at that position, I didn’t apply because I am still working on improvements from their feedback and feel I have not gotten to the point where I am a stronger candidate that before. This week it was announced that the supervisor is also leaving, and there are some skills that the supervisor and I have that are unique to the two of us within the company and would be very difficult to find from outside applicants. While it seems too soon to reapply because I haven’t had much time to work on the feedback, I also have some skills and experience that they are now lacking. I would like to have a conversation with the manager letting him know my interest in the original position, and that although I haven’t had time to work much on the feedback that I do take it seriously. I also want to remind him that I have those unique skills that are now gone from their group, and ask him if now would be a good time for me to reapply. Also they have not had any other qualified candidates for the current open position (it has been about a month and literally not one qualified candidate) so I think that is to my advantage as well. How do I start off the conversation in a positive way that makes it clear I am just enquiring about the position now that their circumstances have changed but that I understand I still have work to do on their feedback?

    1. Puddin

      I would request an informational interview with the current manager about the open position and the supervisor position if it is also open. Frame it by saying you got some good feedback from the supervisor when you originally and are working on it, you would like to verify that you are moving in the desired direction. I think this might sufficiently open the conversation up so that you can talk about your strengths, what you bring to the position, and how you are filling the gaps. If the opportunity presents itself, ask if it would be appropriate to apply again after you had a chance to explain your skills.

      1. Kimberlee, Esq.

        I like this generally, but I would phrase it as requesting a meeting specifically about the open position… an informational interview for an internal opening seems too formal (though maybe this is a formal workplace? Even still, I think a meeting is formal enough).

        But I will say that a couple months is *probably* enough time to demonstrate enough improvement to show that you took their feedback seriously, and hopefully you can point to a time or two where you did something you wouldn’t have done before, and how it actually made things better.

        BUT, on top of all that, I’d say just apply, and put all that in your cover letter. Unless you feel like you might be penalized for it, just skip those other steps and straight apply!

    2. Not So NewReader

      I would go to the hiring manager and ask for a few minutes of his time. Tell him you are still interested in this position and you were wondering if it would make sense for you to apply, since you had recently applied. Then launch into the good points, tell him you missed out the last time because of x and y but you are working on that.

      He may give you a generic answer, “Well, everyone is welcome to apply.” Don’t get excited but do apply.
      If he says no, then that is your answer.
      If he says yes, please apply. Just tell him you are looking forward to discussing this with him later on. Still, don’t get excited.

  63. Rye-Ann

    Let’s say one knows that she will have to move to another area in order to get a job in her field. Is it a better plan to first move to an area with more jobs and then job search or search for a job, then move to where it is? I realize the answer is probably “it depends” but I was wondering if anyone had any input on this issue.

    1. fposte

      In general, it’s easier to search where you are than where you want to be. But yes, it depends.

    2. Jennifer

      Usually you have to move there first, unless you are a superstar enough that people won’t care about your lack of residency.

  64. Pensacola Pencil Pusher

    At a recent job interview I was asked, “How do you feel others think you should behave?” It was an initial question, not a follow-up.
    What’s the purpose? What’s the right answer?

    1. fposte

      To see if you can follow a convoluted sentence? Honestly, it sounds gimmicky and annoying to me, like a question out of the MMPI that made it into an interview. Maybe they were trying to get at the thing where people tell you what other people are likely to do as a way of revealing their own behaviors and expectations, but I don’t think this would get there and I’m not sure what they’d be aiming for anyway. If I was feeling confident, I might try to clarify by asking “Are you asking about strengths and weaknesses that I think those working with me have found?”

    2. AndersonDarling

      Like myself? Like you? Like a monkey? I don’t care what others think.
      And who is “others?” My co-workers, family, strangers?
      I hope there isn’t a “right” answer.

    3. Sadsack

      I expect others to behave professionally and cooperatively, so I think others probably expect the same from me.

      Maybe that’s not out-there enough?

    4. HeyNonnyNonny

      Once, back in high school, I was in a very…experimental play. One scene involved all the actors, about seven of us, standing in different poses and repeating, ‘How am I like myself? How am I not like myself?’

      I am guessing there is no right answer.

  65. EJ

    I have a question about applying to support staff positions at universities/colleges:

    I know that academia is different from most industries in their hiring, but is that just for faculty, or does it include hiring for support staff? Should I be aiming for concise as I would usually, or should I include all relevant skills/experience that are mentioned in the job ad?

    1. Jennifer

      Use all relevant experiences. They literally check off every single thing that you qualify for or not in academia.

    2. BRR

      When people say academia is different they are usually referring to faculty. For example a cover letter for a faculty position is usually two pages and they use a CV versus a resume.

  66. Cassie

    My friend went on an interview the other day and was a bit unimpressed with the whole proceedings:

    1. My friend sat in reception for about 15 minutes (this was after the receptionist informed the interviewers that she was there).

    2. One interviewer Barney showed up – he wasn’t sure where his supervisors Fred and Wilma (the other two interviewers) were but he didn’t want my friend to have to sit there by herself.

    3. As they walked through the cubicles to get to the conference room, my friend noted (to herself) that a lot of staffers were standing around chatting with each other. One person looked like she was boxing up her stuff. No one seemed to be doing work (mid-afternoon break, perhaps?). Barney pointed out Wilma’s cubicle – her half-eaten lunch and a novel were sitting on her desk, like she had just vanished while she was eating lunch.

    4. Barney asked some basic questions about her resume. Then Wilma showed up and apologized for her lateness – it’s apparently their busy season. They waited a little bit – Wilma decided to start without him since they weren’t sure how long it was going to take Fred to finish whatever he was doing. First question Wilma asked was “Do you have any questions for us?” (Who asks that at the beginning?!)

    5. They asked the standard interview questions. At one point, when my friend was explaining something, Wilma hopped up from her seat exclaiming “I forgot I have to do something! You guys keep talking!” and dashed from the room. Wilma popped back in shortly – my friend got distracted when she returned and lost her train of thought.

    6. My friend didn’t ask any questions at the end (she had a few prepared but seeing how the whole situation went, she just wanted to get out of there).

    I was just astounded by the complete lack of professionalism and organization (although I guess I shouldn’t be). Barney didn’t seem surprised or embarrassed by any of it so maybe it’s just another typical hectic day in the workplace. I would have loved to hear how they would respond to questions about their workplace culture and challenges that the incumbent would face. Their actions pretty much already answered that.

    The only upside is that my friend didn’t have to waste too much time – she works in the same building and since it’s the same government agency, she didn’t even have to take time off for the interview. I’d be pretty mad if I had to use a few hours of vacation time for an interview like this. Even if they already have an internal candidate and they’re just going through the formalities, at least focus for 20 minutes and conduct a proper interview!

    1. Anonsie

      Aside from the one running out in the middle like that, this doesn’t sound so awful and unprofessional to me. What it does sound like is that if your friend takes the job there, they should be prepared to always be on alert and always busting buns with no ability so much as finish their lunch or conduct an interview without being penalized for being away from their tasks.

  67. Anonsie

    I’m in a weird situation. I got the opportunity to help someone I admire very much on a project of theirs as sort of a side project for me, since it’s not part of my regular job. My boss told me this was ok as long as the time I spent was kept to a minimum, and I had agreements with this person’s staff about who would handle what that would allow me to help them a lot without it taking away from my regular work since I am really at capacity. The other department is paying mine for my time, though, so it’s not like I’m just doing them a favor. Well, now there’s been some turnover there, and the new people want me to do everything, and the time I’ve spent this week trying to get a very small thing done is absolutely outrageously high. We have a similar project here on which I can complete similar tasks in a fraction of the time. On top of that, I could not reach anyone for assistance for days, and this has been a pattern with some of these staffers so far.

    I can’t do this again and we need to go back to our original arrangement. They also need to be more responsive or mistakes are going to be made. Their director, the person who is the reason I agreed to help and want to work on this, was the only one who would talk to me and seemed to be working very hard. It’s the staff at my level that are problematic, but when I mentioned how I could not get a hold of anyone and was having trouble he sort of brushed it off.

    Now I’m not sure how to give feedback to the director. I want to keep working on this project and I want to work with this director, but I got the sense that he does not see this as an issue and will be put out that I’m not doing what I can since they are paying for it. My supervisor was putting a lot of faith in me to let me start this collaboration in the first place, to boot. I did draw some boundaries on what I could do before, though, without any blowback. Any thoughts?

    1. Not So NewReader

      I’d go back to the original agreement. You can put x amount of time into the project. Can you keep track of your time and stick to your time agreement?

      Conversely, can you keep a record of where the hurdles are? Needed X on Monday did not receive it until late Thursday afternoon. (Notice how there are no names used here.) Once you have collected up a few hurdles can you approach your boss?

      OR in a totally different approach can you go to your boss and say “As you know I am thrilled to be working on ABC. So you can understand it is quite difficult for me to come for advice on a particular matter.” Be sure to point out that there has been a total change over in people that may not realize what your part in all this is. Let him know that you have tried to resolve the problem on your own and have not been successful. Now issue has become bigger because you are having to spend large blocks of time on something that should have been done before it got to you. Which is chewing into the time you should be doing your own department’s work.

      Weave into the discussion that you are concerned because you genuinely appreciate the show of faith he had in you to allow you to start the project. You never anticipated that there would be so many changes in such a short time. Now the whole game has changed.

      Personally, I think it is time for your boss and the other boss to sit down and talk about your role in this project. I think that the reason you are having difficulty solving this problem is because it’s a management question. 1) New people may not be aware that your inputs are important. 2) Your own boss may not be aware that you have suddenly acquired all these new layers of complexity.

      I am standing waaaaay over here and looking at your situation through binoculars because I am so far removed. So I could be off base entirely. Punchline is to look at what you originally agreed to vs what is happening now. Look for the differences.
      A contractor comes to put a new roof on your house and you tell him “oh BTW, I also need a new bathroom upstairs and I want to put a shed out back.” The contractor would say “Whoa, that is way more than we talked about in the beginning here. We have to sit down and work out the details on this additional stuff.” This sounds like where you are at.

  68. super anon

    Is it worth teaching myself some technology skills (I’m specifically teaching myself coding, starting with web languages – html 4 and 5, css, and jquery before moving on to programming languages) to augment my arts degree? I’m increasingly realizing that with my current skill set my job opportunities are lacking and as I’ve always enjoyed learning about technology and am very good with it. I worry that employers won’t value the skills because I don’t have a Computer Science degree to back them up/

    1. BRR

      You should look up jobs you’d be interested in and see what requirements they’re asking for. If you build up your skills enough you could perhaps do some projects as a volunteer and use those to show your skills.

    2. Golden Yeti

      I’ve considered doing the same thing through Code Academy or something, but I haven’t pulled the trigger yet on it. I’m afraid it will be too complicated to teach myself–not sure if that’s a valid concern.

    3. AVP

      I think so. I learned HTML and CSS a few years ago and, as totally basic as they are, the fact that I can fix my company’s wordpress sites and customize a cheap tumblr design have been goldmines in terms of my boss loving me, and not having to pay someone else to do these easy things. And in an arts company, whenever you can save a few bucks, people tend to be happy.

      In my case it doesn’t matter whether I have formal training or not because it was like, can someone do this? Yes? Great. On my resume I added those to a list of other skills. I wouldn’t make a new line or section for them, but they’re nice to have. And it’s very satisfying to learn.

    4. Kimberlee, Esq.

      Yes! There are so few jobs that aren’t helped by a little HTML/CSS, and a lot of places that would pay you for your aesthetic senses will want you applying those senses to the interwebz/graphic design. I’d honestly say that anyone pursuing a career in the arts (well, in the arts that involve painting or drawing; performing arts less so), they should strongly consider augmenting it with a minor in graphic design or web design. They’re just so complementary, and one is a lot more in-demand than the other!

    5. Befuddled Squirrel

      Yes! Do it! When it comes to technical jobs, what you can do often matters more than what your degree is in. Some employers like to hire candidates with arts degrees because it shows they’ll be creative and will be able to handle the design aspects of projects. Just get examples of what you can do online, whether it’s a personal portfolio site, Git Hub, or some freelance or volunteer projects you’ve taken on.

    6. Victoria, Please

      YES.

      I just had the opportunity to hire not one but two people who needed these skills. We got lots of artists applying but it was heck trying to find artists with programming skills. The job descrip allowed for artists so we would have not minded you not having a CS degree.

      Then volunteer for building things using the skills so you have a portfolio to show.

  69. Perpetua

    How to find/search for a good project manager? In my company (40-ish employees), there are two bosses who separately lead projects, but there is no middle “layer”, and it is becoming more of a problem as we keep on expanding. From what I’ve learned about the way things are done (I’m new), Boss A will choose one project and do it properly/thoroughly, giving the team plenty of guidance and input. Boss B will have 3-4 projects at the same time (in addition to running the company) and a lack of time to dedicate to any of them, which leads to things being changed at the last minute and more team dissatisfaction, as well as project failure.

    We (the three of us) have talked about this and they are well aware of the need for a good project manager, but they feel that it is a “hopeless cause”, because they don’t see true project management potential in any of the current employees, but don’t want to bring in someone new either (“there are no good project managers and it would be weird to bring in an outsider to lead them”).

    Any advice?

    1. CTO

      I don’t think your main problem is recruiting a good project manager. The larger problem seems to be that the bosses are scared about bringing in an outsider into a leadership role.

      1. JMegan

        I agree, I think it’s more of a leadership problem than a project management problem. There are people who have built careers out of project management, and there’s a certification body (Project Management Institute), and a whole lot of good PM’s out there in the world.

        The biggest problem is usually finding someone with subject knowledge – you wouldn’t want an engineering PM managing a database development project, for example. But even that is relatively easy to get around, by advertising within the industry and specifying X years of PM experience required.

      2. Perpetua

        Well, I agree (and I could’ve worded the initial question differently), so is there anything I can do about it? The thing is, they’ve been running the company successfully for a couple of years now, so I’m unsure of the right way to approach this topic again without undermining their experience and knowledge.

      3. Not So NewReader

        I agree that a new layer of management needs to be inserted. Boss B should not be running the company AND running the projects. If Boss A is on a par with Boss B then Boss A needs to step up to the plate more.

        If the bosses do not see anyone that they can promote then they need to start developing the people they have so they can be promoted.

    2. AVP

      Is there someone on staff that you think has potential here? If so maybe you could convince the Bosses to give them at shot at managing a single project as a test case.

      For my money, people who would make good potential PMs are incredibly organized and type A, good at communication and people management, good with timelines and budgeting (so, even in different positions, do they always get their stuff in when they’re supposed to? Have they ever gone over budget on something, or forgotten to turn in an expense report?) and responsible – you want the person who absolutely always does what they say they’re going to do, by the time they’ve promised it.

    3. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

      Huh.

      I’m interested in this question because I’ve recently identified this need in our technology dept. Basically, it’s developed into a clogged up clusterfudge the last year, to the point nothing is moving out .

      I am also stuck because we’ve nobody to move into the role. (We do have potentially great project managers but anybody who would be qualified is too needed where they already are.)

      Never hired a project manager, and in technology specifically, we have only ever hired IT staff, programmers, designers or chief programmers. I need not-a-programmer who speaks programmer-ese + lay people and who can get this stuff moving out and keep everybody looped into the progress details.

      I feel you, Perpetua.

  70. BRR

    Does anybody else get annoyed by coworkers who constantly complain about work? I mean specifically the “ugh it’s monday” “yay it’s friday” chatter. The people who are doing it are mostly non-exempt so they aren’t working long hours, they show up late and leave early, and get paid very well for what their positions are. I know it’s part of workplace small talk but it’s just so much negativity.

    1. Joie de Vivre

      +1
      One of my colleagues started the day with “Wow, feels like it’s going to be a long one today!” accompanied by a huge sigh. Seriously, you just got here, haven’t even put down your bag yet and the complaining has started. Seems the only thing that makes her happy is leaving work.

      1. BRR

        I have a friend on fb who does it and he only works about 15 hours a week. He’s going to be in for a rude awakening since he’s actively looking for full-time work.

    2. Molly

      I don’t really get bothered by it. I think for some people, it’s just a way of making conversation beyond “Hi, how are you?” I get bothered by the monotony of it, but I don’t think that’s what you mean.

      What bugs me more are people who make a virtue out of their inability to manage their work loads, constantly telling everyone how late they stayed the night before and how often they come in on the weekends and how they’re sooooooo busy. That’s a kind of negativity, too — but one that turns the speaker into a martyr. It usually has exactly the opposite of the intended effect on me – instead of thinking they’re great, dedicated, loyal workers, it always makes me wonder what’s wrong with their work-style that they can’t do their jobs in the course of a normal 8-9 hour day?

      1. BRR

        That bothers me as well and I really enjoyed when that had its own post. Being busy isn’t a sign of importance.

        It’s like in grad school there was another student who’s schedule was identical to mine, same classes, same assistantship, no other jobs. She would go “I haven’t gotten more than 3 hours of sleep a night in the past month.” I was like why?

        1. Diet Coke Addict

          That made me insane in grad school too. All of us had the same classes and same workloads, but there were always keeners who would go “Oh, I went to bed at 4am last night, too busy!” and “I got up at 5:30 to start working!” and I’m like….why? You could perfectly well finish the work in a normal day and evening, as everyone else managed to.

          Being busy is not a virtue by itself.

    3. Colette

      Most people around me who say things like that (and I’m one of them on occasion) aren’t complaining about the job, just remarking on the struggle it sometimes is to get out the door (in comparison to weekends, when their time is far more flexible). I don’t see that as being negative in itself.

    4. Kai

      That bugs me, too. I’ve recently found myself saying similar things and am putting effort into keeping it to myself, because even if it’s not annoying, it IS cliche.

      Incidentally, I have a coworker who likes to say “Happy Friday Eve!” on Thursdays…heheh.

    5. HeyNonnyNonny

      Aw, that person is me. I’m bad at small talk, so I use the good standbys: Ugh Monday/Yay Friday, How About This Weather?, and Hey, Sports Happened Last Night!

      1. C Average

        Heh, me, too. I am SO small-talk challenged. If someone else talks to me first about something I know anything at all about, I can be witty and engaging and clever. If I make eye contact with someone and they look like they expect me to come up with some kind of greeting or ice-breaker, they’re gonna get a cliche of some sort, because I suck at openers. The day of the week, the weather, Sports Happened Last Night! Yep, those are good standbys.

        1. Molly

          Ha! =D My response to “Sport happened last night!” is usually, “Baseball… that’s the one with the goals at the end of the field, right???”

    6. Cath in Canada

      I have one colleague whose IM status basically counts down to Friday… it says “1/5” on Monday, “2/5” on Tuesday, and so on. Just checked and right now it also has a “14 days until vacation!” status, as a fun little bonus. Just, don’t.

    7. afiendishthingy

      There was a woman at my last job whom I barely knew (I worked as a special ed paraprofessionals, she was an art teacher who I never worked with) but at some point she’d learned my name and every time we passed each other in the hall she made one of these day-of-the-week comments! I think partly she was just being friendly but it got really old, you seriously can’t think of anything else to say? At the end of the school year she asked if I was coming back in the fall and I didn’t know yet (as it turns out, no, because I just finished a masters degree and got a higher level position elsewhere) and she said “Well if you get a new job, I hope it’s somewhere better than this!” I liked my old employer, my bosses were great, I was in a union, I just left because I became overqualified for my position. Granted the teachers and paraprofessionals were in different unions and the teachers had a lot of contract disputes with the school board last year, but it definitely rubbed me the wrong way.

    8. Jennifer

      I’m pretty tired of “Is it Friday yet?” (On Monday morning.) Or “Is it 5 o’clock yet?”

      No. No, it’s not. And saying that is not helping.

      1. Not So NewReader

        On rare occasion, I have said, “I am trying not to dwell on that because it makes everything so much harder.”Usually it’s with a person who over indulges in the negative line of thinking.

      2. Windchime

        A variation of this is the person who constantly announces the time. “Ugh, it’s only 10:00!” “I can’t believe it’s only 5 after 11:00”. “Bummer, it’s only 1:15!”.

        Clue to the Time Announcers: Telling everyone what time it is every 15 minutes doesn’t make the time go by faster. It just annoys us and you should knock it off.

  71. Audiophile

    Yet again, I’m late to the party.

    As much as I’m enjoying my new job, everyone’s taken off and I’m basically alone in the office. I do get to leave early, because we have summer Fridays, so that’s good.

    Still working on getting acclimated, I know it takes time, but it’s a little frustrating.

    1. The Other Dawn

      Yay Summer Fridays! Wish I had that. Wish I could wear capris…but I digress.

      Things will get better. I still don’t feel 100% acclimated after six months. I still feel like the new person.

      1. Audiophile

        It’s not bad, getting to leave early. I stayed late yesterday, didn’t leave until 7pm, wanted to make sure I had double and triple checked everything.

        I’m not a capris person, I’m pretty short.

        I’m frustrated because I feel like, since I’m “new” everyone pooh-poohs my ideas. When I tell others about suggestions I made, they respond positively. I’ll just ride it out.

        1. The Other Dawn

          Maybe if you explain your line of thinking it will cause a different reaction. They might be thinking, “She’s new. What does she know?” But if you say, “Here’s why I’m suggesting XYZ,” that might make a difference.

          For me, it’s more about fitting in with the other employees (not in my department). They’re a fairly social group and eat lunch together a lot. They also have a lot of celebrations that involve food. I feel weird when I walk into the lunch room and they’re all in there. I guess I feel like I’m intruding. But I eat at my desk anyway so I can read, so it’s not like I’m sitting alone at the next table. Someone who started after I did is always in there with them, but she seems to be more outgoing that me.

          1. Audiophile

            I’ve tried to be clear in explaining my line of thinking. I think you’re correct, because I’m new, they’re thinking what does she know. This is a relatively entry-levelish position, though I have some experience in it. As I’ve told other people in the org, my ideas, they’ve said they’re valid and I should just run with them. But I’m wary of doing that.

            I understand the lunch thing, my last job had a huge cafeteria. I regularly ate downstairs unless I saw someone I knew. I would say just go in and politely ask “can I sit here?” It’s kind of like being back in school, I know, but I think most people are afraid to offer because THEY feel like you might not be interested. I’m not saying you’re giving off a “stay away from me” vibe, just that most people are hesitant to make the offer.

  72. The Other Dawn

    UGH! I missed the open thread due to a marathon of meetings – 4 hours!!

    Anyway, I’ve applied for three jobs over the last two weeks. I’m hoping I get some calls. Can’t wait to move on to another job/career direction. After so many years of doing the same thing, I desperately need a change.

  73. HAnon

    I’m highly considering leaving my current job due to some ongoing medical issues, in addition to the fact that the company moved 3 months after I started to a city far north of the previous location, turning my roundtrip commute into a 3 hour ordeal every day. I’ve only been with the company for a year, and I was at previous job for just over a year. I don’t want to look like a job hopper, but I know that the commute + medical stuff is draining me, and I really need to look for something closer to home. The company doesn’t allow telecommuting or flextime, and with my health issues I am trying to work through it’s making it really difficult for me. I just feel so guilty about leaving after such a short time (I’m not going to leave until I find something else though). Need some advice or encouragement from people who have been in a similar situation…

    1. Kimberlee, Esq.

      If it’s a specific medical issue, you could ask for flextime accommodation via ADA stuff (which may make flextime for you a legal obligation). Worth looking into?

    2. Not So NewReader

      If you didn’t have a medical issue would you feel less guilty?

      I got pretty sick while I was at one job. I think that being sick really wore me down and messed up my thinking.

      Think about you, without or with less medical issues. Would the healthier version of you find a 3 hour commute doable? (Even at my best, 3 hours of commute time is a deal breaker.)

      Three hours of commuting is not doable for me. I cannot imagine having an pressing health issue and STILL commuting 3 hours per day.

      I have a friend who works a couple towns over. She has emergency clothes at a friend’s house in case she cannot make it home. Would something like that be helpful to you?

  74. Unsearchable me for this

    Whew, I had my evaluation yesterday. I haaaaaate those. The time leading up to them is nerve-wracking.

    It went very well. I borrowed a colleague’s empty office and my boss and we did it over the phone (she’s remote from me). She’s very satisfied with my work. We had some things we wanted to have me doing that haven’t happened yet, so those are on the table for the near future. I had some anxiety about one, and we discussed it, along with how nice it is to work for a company where you’re not bullied, screamed at, or treated like an infant (she totally gets the PTSD from other jobs thing). I love my boss. :)

    She joked about work while I’m on holiday and basically said, “You are NOT going to do anything but enjoy yourself.” I told her I’ll get as much done in advance as I can, and in fact, I’m already doing so. I told her if the building burns down or somebody croaks, then she’ll be able to get hold of me, but we agreed that nothing is likely to be that urgent.

    Some of my team is already making noises about “Ohh vacation, good for you but bad for us.” I know they’re just kidding. But I’m not even checking my email while I’m gone. They’ll survive. :)

    40 more days!!!

  75. Calla

    I just have to vent!! I have a coworker driving me crazy right now. Emailed me at 11:30am today asking to set up a meeting with 7 very busy people for this Monday. By 12:30pm (while I was at lunch), she called my desk phone AND cell phone to “make sure I saw it.” (Keep in mind–it’s not like this is my boss sending me something urgent.) When I got to a little bit later, I saw two people were out of the office on Monday (one being the CEO) and one was out for the morning, so I sent an email telling her that and asking who was necessary. She responded “Can you ask [coworker] if [CEO] is able to make it.” I asked CEO’s assistant since that’s who would actually know, and then sent my coworker the message that we can add them as an FYI but the assistant could not guarantee CEO would be on the call. She responded with “So then can you schedule it for the afternoon so we might get everyone.”

    I want to be like “???? Are you actually reading any of what I’m saying???”
    (Answer: No, because related to this meeting, she got snippy with me for supposedly not booking a conference room for the time she needed when I did, sent her an email confirming it, AND she responded to that email.)

  76. Diane

    Should I consult for my former awful employer on a worthy project? If I do, how do I structure the consulting relationship to maintain my sanity? If I don’t, how do I deal with survivor’s guilt? I really don’t want to, but the prospect of charging them a LOT of money in my unemployment is appealing.

    I specialized in grants. I had little support, an ever-shrinking budget and staff, and an incompetent supervisor who made up performance problems. Since I left, the office was taken away from her. Seriously she’s worse than the supervisor who kept talking about my nipples. The organization is poorly managed, so it’s not just her.

    The person who wants me to consult says I have a national reputation for these kinds of grants, that I’m the only one who can pull this off in this timeframe, and that I won’t have to work with anyone I don’t want to. It’s flattery, I know, and he’s desperate, because if he loses funding, he loses a job. He’s also a decent person doing good work that I believe in. And the organization is sooo far behind in finding someone to help him, it’s going to take a miracle or a shit-ton of money to get them a competitive grant in a few months.

    As soon as I knew I would be leaving, I advised management and the grant directors to look for good consultants who specialized in these grants, and to expect to spend at least six to nine months working on them. This did not even remotely happen. It’s down to four months.

    If I had nothing else to do, I’d take a large amount of their stupid money, build my consulting biz, and go. But I’m changing careers, and I need time to excel in my classes.

    Also, apparently I am less zen about leaving that place than I thought.

    1. SeattleMom

      I would offer to be the consultant to hire and coach a new grant consultant. You can still provide your services, grow the skill base of their consultants, charge them a lot of money, share your expertise, manage the hours you have available to guide/support and look like the hero.

    2. StudentA

      How long of a commitment is it? I guess it depends on how bad you need/want the money. If it were me, and I wasn’t working, I would do it. You know the work already like the back of your hand, so it shouldn’t interfere with your classes like it would if it were a brand new job. And hey, hopefully your reference will be even stronger? That’s another plus, should you ever need it.

      1. StudentA

        “And hey, hopefully your reference will be even stronger? ”

        By that I mean since your former boss is kinda begging :)

  77. Amy

    I am a long-time reader (and first-time poster) and hope that you brilliant AAM readers can help. I have a situation that I haven’t seen addressed here and need your advice. I currently work for a financial institution (FI) in a capacity where I do not handle cash but I do have access to view accounts but no access to do anything with funds whatsoever. I have been invited to interview with the HR recruiter for another FI next week. It is in the same capacity as what I am doing now, but a step up. About a year and a half ago, I filed for bankruptcy as a result of a messy, expensive divorce. Of course, working at an FI, this was humiliating, however, I retained my job (legally, they could not fire me), got over the shame, and my performance has continued to exceed expectations.

    My question to you is, should I mention the bankruptcy in my interview with the recruiter? In most industries, this would not impact my chances of being hired, however, it will eventually come up when they do a credit check, and in my state they are legally allowed to deny me employment because of it. I don’t want to waste their time or mine if I were to become a final candidate but I don’t even know if it’s something they can discuss with me during the interview process.

    I feel that my experience could be an asset to the FI in my capacity as I am an excellent example of when bad things happen to good people, and how you can rebound after a financial disaster. They will only see the bankruptcy on my report, not my score. My credit has recovered nicely into the “very good” FICO range, which they will only know if I tell them. I have ALWAYS had excellent credit, and have been financially responsible, but as we all know, life is uncertain and sometimes bad stuff happens.

    I have avoided looking for new jobs in the financial industry for this very reason, but now that I have been presented this opportunity, I really would like to go for it.

    Suggestions? Advice?

    1. The Other Dawn

      This happened in my former job. We interviewed someone and, before she left, she disclosed to me her bankruptcy and explained the situation. We weren’t thrilled, but it was helpful to know ahead of time so we could then decide if we wanted to go any further. We ended up hiring her. It may have been a different outcome if it had come up during the credit check and she didn’t mention it ahead of time. But because she did, we knew we wanted to move forward and didn’t waste a bunch of time. I looked at it as a time-saver.

      1. The Other Dawn

        Forgot to mention that I am in the financial services industry. YMMV depending on the size of the bank/institution you’re applying to. We were a one-branch bank so we were always very flexible. We weren’t nearly as rigid as the multi-billion dollar banks.

        1. Amy

          I feel strongly that being upfront is the way to go so I don’t waste their time (or mine) if it’s a deal breaker. And they are a small FI so may be more flexible and understanding. I”m hoping they see it has no impact on my ability to perform my job whatsoever.

          1. The Other Dawn

            I’d go with being upfront. We certainly appreciated it. And it turned out it wasn’t necessarily mismanagement of her money and being irresponsible. She was about to lose her condo due to being laid off a couple years prior and just couldn’t make ends meet. She was advised by her attorney to walk away and file bankruptcy. Her credit report wasn’t bad at all, other than the bankruptcy, so we felt OK about hiring her.

            My new bank, however, burned through many highly qualified applicants a few months ago because they wouldn’t relax their rules. Low credit score=no job offer. Didn’t even want to know the story behind it.

            1. Amy

              Thank you! This is making me feel a lot better about my decision in how to handle this. Like I mentioned, my credit score is very good and my credit history is impeccable up until about 6 months before filing for BK. Fingers crossed! But if it doesn’t work out, at least I know not to pursue any other opportunities in the financial industry.

    2. BRR

      I’m not sure of the typical process but when do they do the credit check and do they notify you? If they do it after the interview I would let them know then.

      1. Amy

        They probably wouldn’t do it until after I met with the hiring manager and was being seriously considered. At my current job, they didn’t do it until they made me an offer. The offer was contingent upon my passing a drug screen, background check and credit check.

  78. Nervous accountant

    Last week I posted about my somewhat crazy new place of work. Since the I found out an ex coworker used to work here and she told me it’s a horrible place. The thing that stood out was that she said she never got paid on time. Saw a flas door review that said the same. Redflags everywhere. How do I approach this now? I have NO idea when I’ll get paid or even how mich my salary is. What have I gotten myself into.

    1. Megan

      I would start looking for another job TODAY. Take advantage of the flexible/unknown schedule and use that time to interview for something else. I’m so sorry.

    2. The Other Dawn

      You accepted a job without knowing the salary? I’m sorry if I sound critical (I’m not trying to be), but your user name indicates it’s in your nature to pay a fair amount of attention to detail.

      1. The Other Dawn

        That said, I think you should talk with your manager to find out your salary ASAP. Did payday come around yet? If so and you didn’t get paid, check with your manager. Then based on that talk, start looking for another job ASAP.

      2. Nervous Accountant

        It’s not that I missed that detail lol. They had given me two $$ figures and told me they’d decide in a few days what my hourly rate should be, depending on whether I needed a lot of training or not. I thought it was unusual, but I wrote in to Alison and asked af ew other friends and they said it wasn’t necessarily a red flag.

        I accepted because, well, I wanted to work (and the prospect of a little $$ is better than $0).

        Today was the end of the pay period and I submit my timesheet, so…..let’s see what happens.

  79. whatnow

    Hey,
    Wondering if anyone has any ideas for my job search. I had a job interview recently where they seemed to discredit all of my administrative experience (3+ yrs), over a year long screenwriting course I took. They seemed to think I was so creative, I wouldn’t be able to sit behind a desk- although I’m temping at the moment and doing just that. I understand they’re worried I’m run at the first sign of my screenwriting career ‘taking off” – (which if you know anything about screenwriting is highly unlikely and will take a while.) I need a job, a well paying job – I’ve got a loan to pay off. How to I get around people thinking I shouldn’t be working for them, because I’m ‘too creative’?
    Equally what sort of jobs could I look into with a background in admin and great writing skills (I also have a degree, and some film and theatre experience.) I’ve had about 6 or 7 interviews in the last 5 months, but I’ve been considered under-qualified for the film roles and too creative for the admin ones. I don’t really know what to do.

    1. Just Visiting

      Be honest. Say that you prefer dull work (maybe don’t say “dull”) because it leaves you a lot of energy to work on your passion. I’ve always been upfront with employers that they are only a day job, but I take my day jobs very seriously, and I have the track record to prove it. (FWIW, I’ve twice gained jobs through temping… might that be an option for you?) Some people especially those without a creative outlet will get offended but the right employers will know exactly what you mean. I all but come out and say that I’m not seeking any type of promotion and again, that can work in your favor. There’s a lot to be said for someone who will just show up every day, enter a crap ton of data, and leave at five.

      Or you could just leave the screenwriting off your resume, unless your degree is in it or something.

      1. whatnow

        Thanks – I left it on there because it shows good writing/communication skills, also because otherwise I’d have a year long gap as well. But it does bring up a lots of questions, unless I’m going for a film job.

        It was a ridiculous interviewing process anyway. It was an admin job and they’d selected any candidates they thought were interesting and then were interviewing all day in 30 minute increments – morning till evening. Great selection process…

        I was considering leaving it off some jobs and saying I’d gone traveling.

        1. Jennifer

          If it’s causing this much of a reaction, saying you went traveling instead might actually be a better option.

          I cannot believe anyone is getting ruled out of jobs for being “too creative” or “what if their screenwriting career takes off.” Really? This is genuinely a super big worry? Have they been living under a rock as to how “creatives” need day jobs?

          1. whatnow

            I know it was also vaguely offensive as it was an artistic company – specifically they work with arts and kids, and so I thought it would be a good fit in that way. But then like above their hiring process was ridiculous… Having roughly 20 applicants interview in one day just doesn’t make any sense whatsoever.
            Maybe I was being blown off in a ‘kind’ way or they thought I’d be majorly bored – although I’ve done it all before (grr….)

  80. Megan

    What would you recommend as the best way to suss out how much a job is going to pay (roughly) before going through the entire interview process? My area is notorious for never including a salary range in job postings unless it’s a government job or minimum wage, but I can’t be taking time off for interviews that end up being a waste of my time anymore. Any tips?

    1. CTO

      I recently had a similar issue because I was looking for a new job and I suspected (but didn’t know for sure) that my range was well above what some of the positions I applied to would pay. I had good luck by being honest with interviewers when they called to schedule a meeting. I said, “I’m really interested in this position, but the posting didn’t mention a salary range and I know there can be a lot of variation in our field. I don’t want to waste your time if we’re too far off, so may I ask what the hiring range is?” Some gave me a number, some asked for mine. I actually turned down a couple of interviews and it ended graciously on both sides. I’m sure that wouldn’t work in all fields but it worked well for me.

  81. More of a rant...

    It is so disheartening to prepare for a presentation and a.) have no one ask questions/get engaged in the presentation and b.) not have your own manager be in the audience for it. :( Granted, my manager has all but “checked out” lately and I totally get that, but it’s still frustrating.

    1. MT

      I feel you. Once a year i create a presentation for the hourly associates, 20 associates per group, 10-3 hour presentations. They couldn’t care less, but I still have to do it yearly.

    2. Kara Ayako

      I hear you! I did three identical presentations today to different groups. On the first two, I had really wonderful questions and engagement. On the third, crickets! (Unfortunately, the third is the one that was recorded for thos who couldn’t attend any of them.)

      This doesn’t mean it’s you or the content, sometimes it’s just bad timing (right after lunch or right at the end of the day) and sometimes it’s the attendees.

      1. Fact & Fiction

        I had this happen a few months ago when I was asked to do a career day presentation at a local school about being an author. Most of the classes had tons of students who were really interested in writing and publishing, and asked great questions. One class, not so much. It can make it difficult but luckily I think well on my feet so was able to improvise and eventually draw them out a bit more. It still wasn’t nearly as dynamic as the earlier classes, but I got through it.

        Makes it even more difficult when it’s a regular occurrence at work!

  82. Mimmy

    *Headdesk* *Headdesk* *Headdesk*

    I came across a part-time job earlier this week that seemed pretty ideal for my current situation. It’s at a nonprofit that I’ve been interested in working with. The announcement had no details about the job itself, but I was able to get a general sense of what they were likely looking for and tailored my cover letter as such.

    But dang, they really want someone fast! I sent my resume & cover letter this morning; not even an hour later, the hiring manager calls! He actually wanted me to come in TODAY, but I already had another commitment. I actually felt kinda bad because he was a very nice guy and he seemed genuinely impressed with my background. He was upfront about the fact that they really need someone quickly because they have a major conference at the end of next month that they need to prepare for. He’ll be away this coming week and said he’d call me on the 25th if he hasn’t hired anyone by then. If he does call, I will be sure to have my suit ready to go!

    I probably lost out on a decent opportunity by not being willing to go in today—my husband reminded me that other candidates will drop everything—but I just panicked. I don’t do well when I don’t have time to fully prepare. What do you guys think?

    1. Colette

      I would be concerned about a place that wanted/expected me to drop everything to to interview, because I wouldn’t enjoy working somewhere that wanted me to change my personal plans at the last minute because something came up. (Occasionally it’s fine, but if it’s a regular thing, that’s a problem.)

    2. Golden Yeti

      I’d say prep for the 25th just in case, but don’t kill yourself prepping for it. If they needed someone that quickly, they should’ve indicated such on the job posting so you’d know what you were getting into.

      I know I already chimed in on LinkedIn, but 2 more cents. :)

      1. Mimmy

        Well, I’d asked a fellow council member about this position because he has ties to this organization, and his contact wrote back saying that they were “interviewing people now”, so I had a feeling it was going to be a quick turnaround. Honestly, though, I thought it’d be a phone interview because I applied with this organization 2 or 3 years ago–different program, different hiring manager–and I had a phone interview. Though, now that I think about it, that was weird in itself. The call was pre-scheduled, but the night before, the woman changed the call time to a couple hours earlier, and I’d already mentally planned to give myself prep time in the morning.

        So….yeah….maybe this organization isn’t the best fit after all :/ Unfortunately, I do tend to get swayed by otherwise good behavior (e.g. nice personality), which tempts me to want to give people the benefit of the doubt.

      2. Mimmy

        That said, I do plan to go ahead with this if he calls me on the 25th. But you’re right…because this is a part-time assistant position, there’s no need to go crazy in preparing. I’m pretty familiar with this organization and their population anyway.

    3. whatnow

      I’ve had similar- drop everything type interviews. For a while they seemed to be the only one’s I’d get, and I’d drop everything, because even though they knew they were internally promoting someone for x amount of months, they hadn’t bothered to hire a replacement. Instead they wanted the candidate to be ready to interview whenever they wanted and start the next week.

      This actually happened at two places I interviewed, and I’ve now decided I can’t be bothered with this type of tactic. It also shows disrespect for you as a candidate (and as a future employee), disorganisation on their part – and just unnecessary stress that you’ll no doubt encounter at the workplace. – In other words drama for drama’s sake.

      Don’t beat yourself up about it, you can’t change what happened, and you might have got yourself out of working in a difficult environment.

  83. Jennifer

    I really want to dye my hair an unnatural color. I am an admin/peon in academia. I don’t think my office will care because several other people have weird hair colors. But … job interviews? How bad is it? I don’t know if I even care any more, I’m tired of having “normal” hair for “possible job interviews” and to not upset my mother….but….well, you know. Thoughts?

    1. Megan

      I think it totally depends on your area and the jobs you are applying for. If you’re interviewing for a liberal department in your college, you might be fine!

      1. Kai

        I agree with Megan, and also I think it depends partly on what color. Red/burgundy/pink tones are going to be acceptable in many more places than, say, bright blue hair. If you’re job searching really seriously right now, I might hold off on dyeing your hair for now, but it doesn’t sound like that’s the case, so…go for it!

    2. Ann O'Nemity

      I wouldn’t go too crazy you’re serious about interviewing. You could probably get away with an unnatural red or something like that, but not pink or blue. Too big a risk that it would hurt your chances, even for jobs that don’t ban current employees’ crazy hair colors.

    3. super anon

      I had an unnatural hair colour for a bit and I bought a few different wigs to wear on days that I wanted to cover up my hair or do things like job interviews, etc.

    4. Just Visiting

      Are you actually looking for another job? If not, and you’re wanting to test the waters with your manager or whatever, I’d say something like “hey, I really like Ashley’s hair, I’m thinking of doing something similar” and see what they say. Or just do it anyway. But yeah if you’re looking for a different job then hold off but IDK I’d be pretty content at a job that lets you have crazy hair and would not be looking to make a switch. (Like the position I’m waiting on at the local university. Oh, please let me get this job at the local university!)

      1. Jennifer

        I am not “seriously” looking because I rarely qualify for ANYTHING in the first place. I have applied for 2 jobs this week, which is really rare for me, but I do not reasonably qualify for one of them at all and don’t think I’d even get an interview for it. The other one I don’t particularly have high hopes for or interest in (the department is not one I have any interest in, it just sounded like a less public service-y job and that’s all I cared about), but it was a rare job that I had the qualifications for, so I did it.

        My manager is fine with it, I think. I came in with chalked hair today and nobody even noticed until I pointed it out. She seemed fine. I don’t think my hair will make me worse than I already am at this point here on the day job.

        I’m just tired of waiting on “it MIGHT happen…” And a friend of mine who has managed to get a job with pink dyed hair (her boss has blue) is offering to do my hair for free this weekend–one time opportunity, let me tell you. I really want to but know I shouldn’t because of MIGHT….but grrrrrrrr.

    5. Mints

      Oh, I really want to dye my hair again. My job here is so conservative, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed that my next job is casual enough that I could (a few months in, probably)
      I’m naturally dark-medium brown, and died it a dark red color that was unnatural but not flashy. Or of they’re really cool, I might even do a straight purple again.

      Sigh. I’m just commiserating with the dye itch.

      Although if you do dye it, and want to be a little conservative without covering up your hair completely, I think a low bun is probably the way to go

  84. Recent JD

    What does it mean when an interviewer tells you to “be aggressive”?

    After two interviews for an out of state job I’m trying to find the right balance between waiting patiently and asserting my interest. I was told that decisions would be made three weeks ago. When the first deadline came and went I sent an email (to the hiring coordinator) inquiring about an updated timeline- no response. I waited another week plus and then sent a quick check-in email and was told that the partners were meeting about the position that day and I’d have an update by the end of the week. That was last week- still no response. I think that proper etiquette is to let it go (I’m pretty sure I’m not a front runner at this point) but during an interview the partner who would be my direct supervisor told me that I should “be aggressive” in pursuing this job. I’ve tried to do that in a respectful way: I’ve checked in regularly with friendly and enthusiastic emails and I sent detailed follow-up messages after each of my interviews. But that’s it, right? I shouldn’t send another email to this particular partner inquiring about timeline? I think I know the answer to this question, but the be aggressive part throws me a bit. (Also, I have moved on in the sense that I’m actively applying to and interviewing for other jobs. I’m just particularly interested in this opportunity.)

    1. Anonymous

      You should pretty much move on. I think you struck the perfect balance in following up. There could be several reasons why they are delayed in their hiring process, as AAM would say, there could be more urgent work priorities the company has to work on, decision makers could be absent due to vacation/sickness, or a myriad of other reasons. Or, if they re incredibly rude, they just do not want to tell you that they hired someone else. Focus on the other opportunities.

  85. CollegeAdmin

    Can someone explain how non-exempt travel works? I looked at the FSLA guidelines but didn’t quite understand them. I’ll be going to a conference in April – I’m flying out midday on Saturday, attending the conference Sunday through Wednesday afternoon, and flying home Wednesday evening. To make things trickier, the Monday is a holiday for me (Patriots’ Day – state holiday in Massachusetts). What hours, if any, should I put in to be paid for for the weekend and holiday?

    1. Agile Phalanges

      You should definitely check with your manager, but at the company I used to work for, you got paid for the “door-to-door” time. That’s the time it took from your house to your destination (hotel, if that’s where you headed first, otherwise the time you finished working for the day if you went straight to work).

      In the case of the holiday, you simply calculate how many hours you worked and traveled in the work week (which varies by employer–often Sunday through Saturday, but it can be any configuration of seven consecutive 24-hour periods). If you worked more than 40 hours, including travel time but not including the holiday, you get overtime for any hours over 40. Then on TOP of the regular pay and any OT, you also get the 8 hours of holiday pay. So if you worked/traveled 38 hours, you’ll get paid for 46, but won’t get time and a half for any of them. If you worked/traveled 45 hours, you’d get 40 regular hours, 5 OT, and also the 8 holiday, for 48 hours of regular pay and 5 of time and a half.

  86. Mary (in PA)

    A question for the group: how do I ask for more help, with a reasonable chance of success?

    I’m the marketing manager for a small company — and the entire communications department, all by myself. There is way too much work to do, especially at a company with aggressive goals for growth (like we have) and I need help. I feel like I’m reaching my limit and can’t do everything that I want to do — much less everything that everyone else wants me to do — but I don’t know how best to ask for help in the way that will give me the biggest chance of actually getting what I want. (I really need about three employees, but I would still be able to do a lot more than I can do now with just one.) It complicates things in that my position is a brand-new one that was just created this year — until now, communications was handled by “whoever had time to do it.” Which was pretty much everyone and no one.

    Has anyone else here been in a similar situation, and if so, what did you do? I want to be able to do more with less, but right now, I’m trying to do more with almost nothing.

    1. JMegan

      The fact that it used to be handled by “whoever had time to do it” seems like a good way to open the discussion. Because you’re the first person to formally handle the role, it makes sense that you’re also the first person to really understand the expectations and resources required.

      I would make a list of all the things you’re doing, or expected to do, and approximately how much time you spend on each. Then lay out three options: status quo, one new person, and three new people. Specify the pros and cons of each (status quo – too much work for one person, you’re getting exhausted and burnt out, but the “pro” is that you’re not costing the company any additional money. Three new people – expensive, but with a good chance to really improve the work. Etc.)

      You want to make it sound like Option B (one new person) is the best of all the possible options, and clearly explain why. (Alternately, if you really think you need three new people, then make that your Option B, and Option C could be five or six.)

      If you do a really good business case like that, it demonstrates that you’ve really thought it through, and you’re not just complaining because you’re having a bad day or whatever. It doesn’t mean you’ll get the new person, of course, but at least you’ve made your case. And then if things haven’t improved in a year, you can update your options list and open the discussion again.

    2. whatnow

      As you are a marketing manager – do you have people below you who you can delegate work to?
      If this is the case it seems you need to get authoritative and hand out work.
      Also by saying the work gets handled by whoever has time to do it, means people may not be aware of all the projects you are dealing with and all the requests you are handling.

      This seems like a good Alison question. Putting my Alison hat on I’d say it sounds like from the way you say people expecting to do stuff, and the way that this job was whoever had time to do it, that this job is perhaps given low priority and that lots of people dump things on you and expect you to do them. Also that it isn’t entirely clear to you or other members of your team what your role is – what tasks fall under your remit.

      If this is the case you need to get more authoritative and perhaps clearer on the roles and responsibilities of your position. Maybe talk to your boss and phrase it as wanting to be clear about your role in the company as you have been given a number of tasks to do and to be able to do them to satisfaction, you’re going to have to prioritize certain projects and put others to the wayside, or ask for assistance from other team members, and you want your boss to help you understand what the company wants to prioritize.

      1. Mary (in PA)

        It is a great Alison question – I was considering writing it up and submitting it to her.

        I am a manager, and I report directly to the president (Mark*), but I have no team. It’s just me. I want to make a case to obtain some more help. For example, there is a guy in our art department (Chase*) who does projects for me “when he has the time, on a freelance basis.” He does great work and I have more than enough needs for great work to give him a full-time position. But if Chase comes to work for me, there’s one less person in the art department — and we’re a small enough company that taking a person out of the art department would affect them (and the business flow of the company).

        I guess I just want to know how to make the case that I need help without looking like it’s because I can’t handle the job.

        *name changed, because reasons

        1. whatnow

          I don’t think that makes you seem like you can’t do your job at all, unless you’re also required to do all the artwork as well.
          I think putting a case to your boss would definitely require you getting clear about what Mark thinks your role involves, and what it actually does. One or both of you might be surprised, from the sounds of it, he might be surprised by how much you have to do. Or you might find he’s not expecting you to do certain things, just you’ve ended up acquiring them. I think that would be essential to be able to broach hiring new members for the team or just getting more formualised time with Chris – perhaps a job share with the art department?
          You’ve also essentially ‘stepped’ in to a role which wasn’t official before – so this also a good way to phrase it, that you’ve adapted to the role and that you’ve found there’s a great deal you could do with further team members, or more ‘protected’ time with other members of staff. If this isn’t possible you’re going to have to prioritise such and such project /campaign which has such and such benefits, and diminish your time dealing with x, y and z, due to the constraints of your time.
          It sounds like you’ve been kind of fluid with what you do (and what other work you take on from other members) and they’ve got used to it and you’ve not said no. You only have a certain amount of hours in the day you can do things, it’s not about not being able to do your job (unless there are skills you’re lacking) it’s about having time to be able to do everything you believe is expected of you to a high standard.

    3. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

      Welcome to my wheelhouse. :)

      Okay, this is a financial decision because marketing ties to revenue, and marketing budget ties to revenue goals.

      You aren’t asking for help. You’re not asking for PTB to lend you hand, or drive the U-Haul for your personal move across town, you’re asking for an increase in budget so you can accomplish their goals.

      With the current budget (your personal cost as an employee + whatever other marketing expenditures), you can accomplish X. With an increased budget (the above + $$ to hire additional employee (s)) you can accomplish Y.

      Know your numbers and go ask for money .

      1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

        p.s.

        Don’t be afraid of two year projections. If marketing has been badly understaffed/underdone, it can take a year just to get to baseline, with revenue increase in year two.

        Marketing is a classic “takes money to make money” .

        1. Mary (in PA)

          Thanks, Wakeen! This is really helpful. I have some numbers, but tracking down the rest will be tricky…and necessary. But not impossible.

  87. Anon for this

    Longtime reader. Recently left my toxic job (company circling the drain, boss was a screamer, morale virtually nonexistent because they cannot afford to hire the proper help needed to manage the workload), and I am so relieved to be out of there. I have a new job that I love, but now…

    After being screamed at almost daily for over a year, I have these moments of panic that I’m completely screwing everything at my new job up and that my new boss will yell at me/I’ll get fired. This is not something I really believe would happen. New boss actually knows how to manage, understands normal learning curve, is a reasonable human being, etc.

    I also have feelings of extreme guilt over the people I left behind, who are all good people. The thing is, my leaving has WAY more impact on them than on the verbally abusive boss who bothers to show up about 30% of the time during the work week. I got a panicked e-mail from one of them last week, which made me sad- I knew he was emailing out of desperation, because the boss was screaming at him. However, I really feel like it needs to be a clean break at this point. I answered his question when I saw the email a couple hours later, which led to him immediately emailing asking me to call his cell. I did not do that, because as much as I like them… I don’t want them thinking I am on-call for their needs.

    Does anyone have advice about how to get past these feelings? It’s like I have terrible-workplace-PTSD. I’ve gone through the archives here, but additional thoughts are welcome.

    1. Anonymous

      I’m going through the same thing, so I can offer more sympathy than advice. I do suggest three things: 1) forgive yourself for leaving; 2) clearly tell your old coworkers how you can and can’t help them; and 3) immerse yourself in new, challenging, rewarding things that help you see yourself as worthy, capable, and in charge of your destiny. (can you hear the inspirational, cheesy music?)

    2. Not So NewReader

      Tell them that they have graduated to “friends” now. So as a friend you would be happy to help them with general life type things. But because you are no longer coworkers you cannot help them with work stuff.

      Just as no one could plug you into a new work environment, you can’t wave a magic wand and give them new jobs. That is something they have to do on their own.

      If you would be happy to help them in their job search then say so. And definitely draw your line about rehashing the problems with the old job.

    3. Amethyst

      Keep repeating to yourself that there’s nothing to feel guilty about. You don’t have to believe it at first. Just keep saying it. You can hope that your old co-workers get out of the situation, too, but your utmost responsibility in that situation was to rescue yourself.

      Keep repeating it while denying any further requests for Old Job work support. You can’t provide life support to Old Job. Not just practically, because you have other stuff to do now, but emotionally as well. When you’re stuck in an abusive situation it becomes EVERYTHING and once you’re out I think one of the biggest obstacles is forcing yourself to get into the thought pattern of “that was a toxic situation, it wasn’t acceptable, it wasn’t normal, and it shouldn’t be a part of my day any more.” For your own mental health and because it’s not your job, you can’t keep your old work responsibilities. If you want to maintain social contact, tell them you’re happy to stay friends, but for your own well-being you can’t continue to do work from your old job.

    1. Julia

      If you use the term virtual, work from home or telecommute when searching for the role you’re looking for, something might come up. I know I saw a list once of major companies that hire for virtual positions – I’d try googling for something like that and visiting each site too. Good luck!

      1. CTO

        This is a frequent Open Thread question; perhaps searching the AAM archives will dig up some useful advice!

        1. Ellie

          I’ve never seen it asked in an open thread and haven’t seen Allison address this question in any posting which is why I asked :)

          1. fposte

            It does come up with some frequency, though–try searching to see what you find. Google is often superior to memory :-).

  88. A. Nonimous

    Today I was awakened by thunder and torrential rain – the thunder was shaking the windows and actually woke me up. It stopped, but started again and by the time I heard the news reort that the local bridges had accidents and delays, I decided that I would work from home today even though I am scheduled to go in the office on Fridays. Definate perk of the job.

    Co-worker who works from home full time mentioned yesterday, though, that she bought a generator for her house when she made the decision to work from home full time. Unfortunately it wasn’t helping her since power outages at local internet provider substations had her with no internet access except wireless yesterday.

  89. Kay

    Strange side note from an earlier post. I work in a recruiting firm and we just send a candidate over for an accounting role. She had fantastic experience and they were almost going to hire her sight-unseen. She decided to bike to the job interview. We got feedback afterwards that they weren’t interested, the hiring manager got back to us and said that she smelled pretty bad after the ride and they thought it was pretty unprofessional. I am firmly in the quick shower after workout camp now.

    1. The IT Manager

      Seriously?

      It’s one thing to bike to work regulary and take some sort of shower, bird bath, or wet wipe clean up, but to bike a job interview. That is totally unprofessional because in the interview you should be putting you’re best foort forward and dress and appear more professional than you will when you work there.

      1. Maeve

        Hmm. I’m assuming the office was accessible by public transit, if the option of biking was judged?

        1. Colette

          Whether public transportation is available or not shouldn’t be a factor when deciding whether to bike to a job interview that is far enough away that you will be noticeably sweaty. This is the kind of situation where you have to make a choice – but if the choice you make will take you out of the running for the job, you’d be better off just explaining you won’t be able to make it.

          1. Just Visiting

            It might be hard to believe this, I know, but not everyone owns a car. Or has a license. Do these people not deserve jobs?

            1. BRR

              I don’t think that’s what Colette was implying. It’s that the candidate smelled bad. It’s not how the candidate showed up but that the candidate made a choice that resulted in coming off as unprofessional for the interview by smelling.

              1. Just Visiting

                And again, I don’t know the whole situation but in some areas of the country there’s an ingrained belief that bike commuters smell, even when we don’t. You don’t know that they didn’t see her, look outside and see the bike, and make a snap judgment that she had to be smelly based on her method of transportation.

                Yeah, probably the lady could have used a handful of wipes, and that was a poor call to make. But I do take offense that commuting at all (which is what the IT Manager above implied) is kinda unprofessional and not “putting your best foot forward.” Some of us know how to do it right.

                1. Colette

                  And you don’t know that she wasn’t drenched with sweat.

                  There are a lot of things you can do once you have the job that will seriously hurt your chances with interviewing. Looking sloppy or less than hygienic will most often hurt your chances when interviewing.

              2. Jennifer

                I have gone to job interviews without a car. I walked to the location (in hot weather) and made sure to get there early and freshen myself up in a nearby bathroom and give myself some time to cool down before the interview. It’s doable.

                I am not a biker and hate biking anyway, so I don’t know how doable this is for the woman. But at the very least, arriving early to clean up beforehand was probably an option.

          2. Just Visiting

            I’ll also add this: at my last permanent job, which was in a very bike-UNfriendly city, I biked to my interview and on almost every non-snow day afterward. Later, after I was hired and the manager learned I don’t drive, she admitted that she’d have balked at hiring someone without a car or a license because she couldn’t know that they were reliable, but now knows that’s wrong. If you’re doing it right, nobody should ever know how you arrived at the office.

      2. Just Visiting

        Yeah, because it’s so unprofessional to bike. *gag*

        She should have brought wipes, I’ll say that much. But there are also people (not saying you, but it could be you) that think any method of transportation short of climbing in a Range Rover is “unprofessional” or not “polished.” I’ve had people question my taking public transportation before. “You took THE BUS to get here??” (This was in a city where people of a certain shade were terrified of people of another shade and the people of this second shade were the overwhelming majority of bus riders.) I think that’s pretty unprofessional, no?

        P.S. I’ve biked to job interviews, gotten the job, and nobody even knew I biked there. Hell, at my last permanent job they didn’t even know I biked to work for like a month (everyone else drove). It’s not the method that’s the problem, it’s the execution.

        1. The IT Manager

          Don’t know what you’re gagging about.

          It’s not unprofessionally to bike to an interview. It’s unprofessional to show up to an interview smelly.

          1. Just Visiting

            OK, I misread your comment. I thought you meant it was unprofessional to bike to an interview at all. My bad. :/

          2. Maeve

            Ok, I agree that it’s bad to show up smelly. Some antibacterial wipes and reapplication of deodorant might have been helpful. The idea that bike commuting to an interview is a bad choice when it may have been the applicant’s only choice doesn’t really make sense to me, though.

            1. Just Visiting

              Yeah, if you’re doing it right, nobody should know you’ve biked to a place unless you tell them. It’s really not that difficult.

              1. Felicia

                About half of my 20 person office bikes to work and you’d never be able to tell because they all smell normal. Not that I go around smelling them, but they have no noticeable bad smell:)

                1. Windchime

                  My boss rides to work over 20 miles and you’d never know it unless you noticed his bike in the foyer. I don’t know if he showers or not but he always looks crisp and clean and absolutely isn’t smelly. I honestly can’t tell which days he has biked and which days he has driven. But it sounds like this candidate showed up sweaty and smelly, which is absolutely unprofessional!

  90. Tiffany In Houston

    I could really use some help here folks. I’m currently working contract but have looking for a full time role for almost 2 yrs now. I have been very fortunate to get interviews and even make it into the second round or as a finalist but I cannot seem to close the deal. I have another interview next week and the recruiter told me that they almost passed on me because my tenure on my resume but my skill set was so strong that they decided to bring me in. I am really starting to suspect that my tenure is the source of my issues.

    Is there any advice people can give on overcoming this?? Please help.

    1. BRR

      I’m not sure I understand the question. Is it that you don’t have enough years of experience or that you’re currently working contract? I’m also not sure by what you mean by working contract.

      1. Tiffany In Houston

        I’m a contractor at my current job and I want a full time job (which I’ve had in the past). But because I have some tenure issues on my resume, I think that is what is holding me back in moving forward to getting an offer. Does that help?

        1. BRR

          It sounds like you’re saying tenure issues as polite phrasing such as I was let go instead of I was fired. We can help if we know more. Do you mean you were a job hopper, were you previously fired from one or more positions, etc?

          1. Tiffany In Houston

            I’ve been both fired and laid off..most recently laid off due to the great recession. And yes I have job hopped earlier on in my career as well. And tenure refers to the length of time on my positions.

            1. BRR

              I was able to get my second job (which I am currently at) after being fired from my first job with the help of a couple things.
              1) I had awesome references, when I got my offer they commented that I had particularly strong references
              2) My first job was doing A and B, I was fired for not being good at A and I applied to jobs that only did B. A and B are really not related at all so it was easy for people to understand how I can do B and stink at A.
              3) I got really lucky (which is essential to many job searches)

              I hope some of that might help you.

  91. JMegan

    I posted a while back about my boss asking if I’m happy at work, and not knowing what to say when the answer is a resounding no. The responses on the thread suggested that either she suspected I was unhappy, or that someone else on the team was, or that she herself was unhappy. I thought – and still think – that all three of those things are true.

    Then I had a really interesting conversation with her yesterday, indirectly on that same subject. We had our team meeting in the morning, at which she told us that Function X is now being handled by two people not on our team – one in a project management role, one in some sort of loosely defined “client advisory” role. This is something that is explicitly being taken away from us, and the decision was made a level or two above her without her input.

    Later on, we went to an offsite meeting together, and on the way over she asked how I felt about it. I said that I think both of those functions are core functions of our team, and that it might look to the client like we’re adding layers of bureaucracy between them and the actual work. She also wanted to know what I thought the rest of the team might feel about it, and what the impact might be to our unit.

    So far, so strange – IME it’s pretty unusual for managers to speak so candidly to their employees about issues like this. But then she said “You know your friend Jane (who is the manager of a similar unit in our large bureaucratic organization)? Does her area have any room for someone doing this type of work?”

    All I could think was, she’s telling me to start sending out resumes. Of course she’s not going to say it in so many words, but her comments about our functions being “taken away from us”, plus wondering if other people are hiring for the work I’m doing – it seems pretty clear to me what she’s thinking. I’m not going to jump ship until I have another job, of course, but at least I know she won’t be surprised when I do.

    1. StudentA

      Maybe she thinks she is being helpful, since she senses your are unhappy at your job? This could be her way of being supportive or pointing out alternatives to you? It depends on her personality, of course. If she is generally a considerate, supportive boss, it makes sense that she would try to get you out of a bad situation.

      Good luck moving on to something better.

  92. Julia

    Hi guys! I was laid off in May and have had several interviews, but no offers. I’ve gotten some decent feedback – not enough mgmt experience, wanted more experience in a particular area, etc. and just haven’t heard back anything from a few. However, I do have a hearing loss and wonder if its worth mentioning up front? I usually don’t, but have conflicting on advice if I should. I don’t know if I may be coming across a little “aloof” without realizing it – perhaps I mispronounce a word or two? I hear on the phone okay and talk clearly, so its not really something people realize unless they notice my hearing aids (and my hair is usually down). I don’t really require any special accommodations and have worked in PR jobs where I use the phone quite a bit in the past. Thoughts?

    1. Trixie

      I would try a couple mock interviews with friends and see what happens. If they don’t’ notice anything, I wouldn’t be concerned that’s the reason. It sounds like your resume is strong since you’re getting interviews but I would peruse AAM’s archives re: interviews. There might be something there you can hone in on. More than likely, you’re just experiencing today’s job search where there is still a number of qualified applicants for each position.

      Keep at it!

    2. Militant Intelligent

      Hi Julia. Maybe at a face to face interview, if you feel that it could be an issue, or upon accepting a job. Otherwise, I would not feel the need to disclose. Then again, perhaps someone who is more knowledgable or has some direct experience with this could better advise. I wish you the best and hope you find something soon!

    3. BRR

      Well it sounds like by what you’ve said that you’re just a little off in your experience from what they’re looking for.

      As for mentioning your hearing loss, do you have any problems hearing? If you require that people repeat themselves every once in a while I might just do a quick sentence at the beginning.

    4. University Allison

      I also have minor hearing loss — I have a hearing aid but can live without it if necessary. I have opted not to wear my hearing aids when applying for jobs, because I don’t want to risk any negative assumptions. I have been told that hearing loss is a disability and is a protected class — they cannot legally not hire you solely on the basis of your hearing loss.

      I would not bring it to their attention. As you say you don’t need special accommodation, then it shouldn’t be an issue in the hiring process. Wear your hair as you would for an interview, be yourself, be confident and do your best.

      Oh, and if someone DOES ask you about it, reassure them that you don’t need special accommodation. It might be a red flag, but it is probably someone in HR just trying to make sure you have any accommodations you legitimately need. Don’t be flustered — be confident.

      Good luck!

    5. Julia

      Thanks! I usually mention it once I’m hired, ie: “just so you know, I have a hearing loss and I don’t really need any special accommodations, blah blah.”

      I don’t think its holding me back, its just a matter of someone else being a better fit as I am in kinda a weird spot careerwise. I’ll keep chugging along, thanks for confirming my initial thoughts of not mentioning it.

      1. Mimmy

        I too have a slight hearing loss, and would probably use the same strategy. I do wear hearing aids, but always have my hair down. I haven’t needed any special accommodations or equipment in past jobs, although I am starting to wonder if I should be using an assistive listening device in meetings. So…..hmmmm, you’ve got me thinking.

  93. Maeve

    I’m about to tell my boss that if our nonprofit collaborates with an anti-gay church for an event I’m quitting.

    I mean, I won’t start with threatening to quit, I’m just prepared to go there if my explanation of why it isn’t a good idea doesn’t have the desired effect.

    I’m very nervous.

    1. whatnow

      I just want to say that’s awesome, and great that you’re standing up for what you believe in.
      Maybe you should phrase it more that you’re having a very hard time understanding how working with this institution suits the remit of your non-profit. Maybe with A-Z evidence – do you have donors or sponsors who would be offended? Also great if you have a charter or something that this clearly violates or an equal opportunities policy…. And then bring in personal disgust. But probably from the outset best to phrase this as how will the be perceived and how does it fit with the inclusive nature (or whatever) of our non-profit.
      Just fully read your comment, and realised you probably have a plan of action already. I just want to say go you! :)

      1. Maeve

        I had the conversation with no mention of me quitting, just explaining why it’s a Very Bad Idea, and my boss said she would bring it to the board. So, we’ll see what happens. I might throw up though.

      2. Maeve

        The good thing is that the local public broadcasting station tried to have an event there once at this very church and there was huge backlash and they canceled it, so I have that on my side. My boss agreed that we don’t want backlash, and also seemed to listen when I said how I don’t think it’s ok/is completely against our mission/etc but seemed to think it’s just part of doing outreach to faith communities (which is one thing our organization does). I think there’s a difference between doing a presentation at a church and inviting our members to an event we are collaborating with a church on. I’m gay and my boss knows that and I won’t be a part of an organization that does that.

        I really shouldn’t be posting under my first name since it’s a weird name but I’m feeling too upset to care.

        1. whatnow

          If it’s really about faith communities can’t they reach out to another church or an interfaith organisation?… As it clearly affects you personally it makes sense why you’re so upset, and why it would make you perhaps feel ‘attacked’ in a place you felt safe.
          If your boss is aware you’re gay and can’t see why this would be a problem, then I think it would be a good idea for you to be looking for other jobs. I don’t think I’d want to work with someone who couldn’t see how this would be a problem or how it could affect you personally.
          Congrats on standing up for yourself and others, hope you have someone you can go talk to/ have a drink with. I think I’d be really shaken by this personally.

          1. Maeve

            My boss mulled and seems to be on my side now. I don’t think it’s officially resolved but I doubt the event will happen. I’m glad I took a stand but I wish I worked somewhere where I didn’t have to explain these things. I do feel shaken and emotional but fortunately directly after work I’m going to drink some wine at a benefit for the organization for queer youth that I volunteer for and everyone will be queer-friendly and it will be great.

            1. whatnow

              I’m glad to hear it :) Weird way to look at it, but by being there and explaining these things you’re making life better for the queer- youth you volunteer for :) and making people think outside of their own constrained view.

        2. Felicia

          I hope the board realizes it’s a Very Bad Idea and yoou don’t have to quit. Though I admire you fr being brave enough to do so. As a lesbian, it would make me sick too, and I’d probably have a hard time not crying about it. If outreaching to faith communities are an important part of your organization , there are so many churches, synagogues, mosques , various denominations that are welcoming to the LGBT community. Here there was an interfaith fair at World Pride, with 30 participants. Not all churches are anti-gay, and some are even super welcoming so I hope the board realizes you don’t need to do this as a business.

  94. Poopsie

    My question is how to deal with an overbearing co-worker during meetings, so it doesn’t result in a p!ssing match. Basically, I’m on a team that is leading the effort to do a v.2 of a project. Crackers, the overbearing one, was on the v1 team, and is now working on other things. As a team we’ve been planning for this re-do. While going over the initial project design, Crackers started really arguing, not even being reasonable, like asking if it’s necessary, if stakeholders are requiring this re-do, and then not happy with the new plan and explaining why the old plan should stay as is (even though it’s outdated and disorganized). This, led to a back and forth–him making assertions, me coming back with a rationale.

    I hate being in this situation and getting sucked into some overbearing persons argument, when it’s more about a control issue than the actual work. Being that he’s a contractor (as am I) it’s even more inappropriate in my mind. He’s really stepping out of his bounds, but I feel like an accomplice.

    Is it better to shut my mouth rather than try and explain what was done and why to someone who is not going to be reasonable?

    1. fposte

      If he’s not part of the team on v.2, can’t you just wave him off? I wouldn’t bother explaining it to him any more, certainly; I’d just say that we know his feelings, but that’s not what we’re here to meet about, and any concerns should be brought to [person who made decision to design v.2] anyway; now, about the watercooler issue.

      (Though it sounds like people not on the v.2 team are in the meeting about working on v.2–what’s up with that, and is that going to change?)

      1. Poopsie

        Thanks for the reply. I think this meeting initially did start out as “this is the way it’s going to be,” then Crackers started arguing and another person involved in v1 chimed in. The manager was involved in this conversation and I didn’t want to take on the “this is how it’s going to be” tone, deferring to the manager. Although the v1 folks got their hands on the plan to review and revise it, my manager isn’t terribly interested in their feedback at this point, since we just need to move forward. v1 people may have to be involved in some development, but it’s not a huge commitment on their part.

        I used to sit near Crackers and my manager let me move (with everyone’s blessing because he’s that nosy and annoying), because Crackers was always asking what I was up to, what I was working on, looking at my monitor, listening to my phone conversations, and so on, and then bring the manager his special ad hoc report (although he’d tell me the manager was too busy for the likes of me, while he’d regularly hold office with our manager). I’d get curt with him and ask if he was a PM, and was really getting tired of getting in his face.

        Anyway…thank you! Good food for thought.

  95. LJL

    I hope this isn’t too late in the thread.

    I just learned that I will be teaching a class in business communication. The class will include email communications, resume writing, tone, and short report writing. I plan to hit proper grammar and punctuation hard, and I’ll certainly include Alison’s resume writing guidelines. Is there anything I’m missing? Thanks in advance!

    1. BRR

      My friends took a business communication class and they would have to write memos that were 1 page max and included a certain number of points.

      1. LJL

        I’m planning to include some of that as well as it’s often a difficult switch for students to go from “this has to be X pages long” to “this can be a max of 1 page.” Thanks!

    2. whatnow

      I have never had any formal training in this – was wondering if you had any online resources other than Alison’s site that you could recommend?
      Thanks!

    3. Hillary

      PowerPoint presentations that still argue your case when they’re being read. Most of my current team can present well in person thanks to college, but they’re not great about a case that’s going to be read by leadership later.

    4. Jen RO

      How to write a work email that is not: rambling, rude, too friendly, too short, too long, etc. And for dear God please tell them *not* to use stationery in Outlook! My new coworker does it and it makes him look so childish! (He’s 23 or so.)

      1. Anonymous

        Most definitely. Stationary is evil. There’s going to be a good bit on tone as well…formal enough but not too formal, the importance of subject headers, and no one-word answers.

  96. Militant Intelligent

    Starting a new job soon with Company A. Is it unprofessional of me to NOT notify Company B, who I have just had an in-person interview with, that I’ve accepted a job elsewhere? Company B left me hanging as far as next steps, seemed to invent a need for additional rounds, and made it obvious that they wanted to interview more candidates during the interview. In fact, they seemed to be on a high-horse.

    I don’t want to damage my own future opportunities or professional reputation. My parent says I should just ignore Company B until they get in touch with me, because they have been rather disinterested, not even very nice, and are not deserving of my courtesy.

    Also, any advice as far as starting a new job?! I’m NERVOUS for my first day.

    1. fposte

      Congratulations on your new job! I’d notify Company B on the “be the bigger person” philosophy; they may not care, but you can be smug about how much better you are at communicating than they are.

    2. Anx

      I had an offer from Company B, but Company A started earlier. I tried to make myself ignore Company B and keep them in the dark–after all, that’s what most employers do. Then I decided to call them because I didn’t want them to have too many surprises. I called to let them know I had another job and they practically shoo’d me off the phone before I could ask about their training schedule to see if both would work with each other.

      Company A let me go right away and Company B is out of the picture. I probably should have just stood them up.

      1. Anx

        But truth be told I’d probably make the same mistake again. I really hate knowingly leaving people in the lurch.

    3. StudentA

      I can’t see the point of notifying Company B since you have not received an offer, and if you did, you wouldn’t consider it. They sound pretty disorganized anyway. You also mention they seemed disinterested. I would just let it go, unless they get in touch with you again.

  97. Fact & Fiction

    Of course I checked for the Open Thread all morning and when I when I was unavailable for a couple hours it showed up. Better late than never, right??? I’ve been writing since I was extremely young, and always had the goal of becoming published someday. It’s not always been an easy path, but it has been worth it, for me. Even now when I’ve been between book contracts for quite some time and trying to land another (not a fun place!).

    I haven’t read any of the other replies yet, but I can certainly tell you what works for me. Keep in mind that I write commercial genre fiction, which is what I love, so most of my advice is geared toward that end. First, you have to figure out whether you want to write simply for the love of it (which is perfectly awesome), or if you want to write with the aim of getting published. You still (in my opinion) need to love it to do it well, but there’s nothing wrong with writing for yourself or just for a smaller audience if you don’t want to be published.

    If you decide you DO want to become published, it helps to read widely; both inside and outside of your genre. When you read inside the genre, you’re picking up on what particular conventions seem to work well in that genre, what tropes might seem over-done, what you think works well versus what doesn’t, etc. Reading widely outside the genre helps you keep your perspective fresh and, in my opinion, helps you learn more about writing. There are a couple of books I found pretty helpful; one being Stephen King’s “On Writing” and the other being GMC: Goal, Motivation, and Conflict by Debra Dixon. I read a few others; but mostly I just read them, took what worked for me, and ignored the rest. I mostly do things instinctively when I write rather than thinking about them too much.

    The other thing that is just as important as reading widely is, of course, to write. Write often, write fearlessly, write badly, write well — just write. Keep in mind that writing is like any other creative endeavor. You’re going to have to put in hours and hours to perfect your craft. Musicians and artists put in tons of time perfecting their art, so writers are no different. Some of what you write will be okay, some will be great, and some of it just may plain suck. But you can’t improve your writing skill if you aren’t actually practicing it. Writing well is as much about re-writing as anything, for most of us; even if you’re lucky enough to write fairly clean first draft.

    You don’t need to write every single day, by any means. You just have to find a consistent writing pattern that works for you and stick to it. I struggle with this sometimes myself due to demands in my life and struggling with anxiety disorder/OCD; but I’m way happier when I’m writing consistently than when I’m not. Also, not-so-shockingly, vastly more productive.

    If you have trouble writing your own stuff after working on HTML writing all day, try and carve out a few hours each weekend where you can get away and just write. If you can, maybe get up a half-hour earlier each work day and do a few paragraphs before work. You could also try doing something completely fun and non-productive right when you get home to unwind from work, and then dedicate just an hour to writing creatively without putting any pressure on yourself.

    We writers have a saying: BIC, which means Butt In Chair. At the heart of the matter, no matter what sort of schedule you set, you DO have to just put that BIC time in if you want to see any forward motion. It doesn’t matter how much or when you do it; just find what works for you. Don’t expect to write perfect prose right away. Try a few smaller projects or free-writing exercises first. Write a single scene with characters who amuse you that you don’t plan to do anything else with. Go against all the advice writing “experts” tend to give you and write out that 50-page infodumpy prologue that gives you, the writer, all the backstory you need to know about your characters–and then find the REAL spot where your story should begin, copy all the extraneous information into a separate file, and go to town having an awesome time torturing your characters.

    Yes, I do enjoy torturing my characters, whether physically or just emotionally, because that tends to be where the best conflict/writing flows from, for me. That’s one reason GMC contains so much awesome advice, in my opinion. It reminds us that what makes for fun reading is connecting with characters who you want to succeed at something, and then spending time watching life try to prevent them from accomplishing that very goal — and seeing the characters succeed anyway. Maybe not easily and maybe not in the way they originally envisioned, but damned well coming out the other side stronger and usually better, in whatever way speaks to that character the most.

    Kind of like real life, for many people, only without most of the normal ho-hum drudgery; and in the genre I write, usually with way more butt-kicking and plain old fun.

  98. University Allison

    May be too late to get much response, but here goes:

    I am flying out to house-hunt for my new job next week. I’ve contracted with these folks before, and the manager hired me with just a phone interview. I am meeting my new colleagues for the first time next week — getting a tour of the workplace, hopefully talking to HR, etc. I then fly home for a week, pack up, and start in early September.

    Here’s my question: what do I wear? Interview clothing seems inappropriate — I’ve been hired. Do I wear what I would wear if I was actually working, or do I need to dress it up a little bit because of the first-impressions nature of the meet and greet?

    1. Teacher Recruiter

      I’d wear business casual unless it’s an industry where suits are required every day. If it seems like a casual office, you could also reach out to your new manager to just check and see what would be appropriate (although I know a lot of times people aren’t comfortable with that).

  99. Vancouver Reader

    I have a new boss who is looking to relocate our office (only she & I are here) to where she lives in the near future. She’s a ferry ride away, so commuting is a pain in the butt. We are looking into possibly making my position a remote admin position. Does any have any experience with doing that and if so, any advice to share? I haven’t finished reading through all the posts here on working remotely, but I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to take advantage of this group’s thoughts.

  100. cuppa

    Does anyone have a good response for over defensive employees? I took over my staff a few months ago. They had a toxic manager before me, and things are going ok except the over defensiveness. It seems I can’t give anyone any sort of reminder or feedback without getting a wall of defensiveness thrown at me.
    I can handle the ones where they are in response to actual issues, but the ones that are really throwing me are the situations where it’s a friendly reminder in a staff meeting, and I just get hit back with the defensiveness. I’m concerned that because of they hyper defensiveness, they aren’t internalizing the feedback.

    1. MJ

      You may be encountering an interesting psychological phenomenon where this group is so used to negative feedback, it’s all they know how to hear. I think if they are defensive, they are definitely hearing it.

      A few months isn’t very long to have managed them. Maybe keep getting to know them, and give them plenty of positive feedback (just “thank you for the report – it was really helpful”) as well as the reminders. Try not to take the reaction personally. It takes a long time to shift culture.

  101. Sif

    I’m looking for advice on dealing with a rude, condescending boss. Specifically, there’s this one thing she does that
    drives me absolutely bananas!! (There are many other things, but I’ll stick to one here!) She’ll tell an employee about a task she wants them to do, and if the employee feels the need to ask for clarification at all (since, you know,
    we’re not mind readers), she’ll answer, but with a tone of voice that comes across as, “Duh!! I think you are the BIGGEST IDIOT I know!” My co-workers have dubbed it the “idiot voice”! For the year and a half she’s been my boss, I’ve ignored it, because she’s kind of horrible and I want to keep interaction to an absolute minimum. Also, she gives off a vindictive, gossipy kind of vibe, so calling her out could potentially just make things worse for the
    employee who does it. OTOH, ignoring it seems like saying it’s okay for her to talk to us like that. Any advice for
    how to respond to this, at least until I can get out of there?

    1. Not So NewReader

      “It seems I have upset you, with my question. I did not mean to. I just want to make sure the finished item is exactly what we need.”

      Or

      “It’s important to me that my work is correct. That is why I am asking.”

      Or the preemptive strike: “I know this question is going to sound stupid but I need to know the best course of action here….” (I like this one a lot because you beat them to their own punchline and sometimes this really takes the wind out of their sails.)

      1. nep

        In my view it’s never a good thing to preface any comment or question with ‘I know this is going to sound stupid, but…’ Even if one is being subtly sarcastic given a boss’s shitty behaviour, it’s an awful way to present oneself. And it’s not authentic.

        1. Not So NewReader

          Yeah, I agree. I don’t use it unless I know I can muster the tone of voice and the body language to match. If I am already ticked off about something else I will not be able to pull this one off today.

          1. Sif

            Thank you both for the advice. It can be difficult to be objective about ongoing, long-term issues like this, so it’s nice to get some fresh perspective!

        2. Windchime

          I have someone at work who prefaces nearly everything she says with “I apologize for my ignorance, but….” or “This is probably a stupid question, but…”, etc. It’s exhausting and annoying and I long ago gave up reassuring her every time she said it.

          So yeah, use that with caution.

  102. AC

    So, ever since that thread about the food sounds? I have been hyper self-conscious to the sounds I make while eating chips at my desk. It just seems to echo, and I’m worried it’s bothering my coworkers. Should I ask, or am I just being ridiculous?

    1. Nina

      If you’re really concerned, ask a friend or family member how you sound when you eat them. Some foods will make noise no matter what, like chips, nuts, apples, basically anything crunchy. It does help to keep your mouth closed, because I know some people who eat with their mouths open and the sounds are just amplified.
      But I don’t consider the noise to be a big deal, unless you’re eating this all day long so the chewing sounds never stop.

    2. Jen RO

      I’ve become like that too, because my boyfriend also has misophonia.

      I’ve told my coworkers that yes, I eat a lot of noisy food, please smack me if I get annoying. One of them told me that she also hates certain sounds, so I generally ask if I can eat a bag of chips or if she’s gonna want to kill me in my sleep. She usually just puts her headphones on, and I’m still alive. (I work on a very friendly and casual team, if it wasn’t obvious.)

  103. Anx

    I started a new job this week but it didn’t work out. I had my 3rd shift today and I didn’t make the cut. I feel a little better about it because my shift supervisor was very enthusiastic about serving as a reference (not that I’d include it where I don’t have to) and that even after the cuts, it doesn’t look like anyone has a lot of shifts this week (as in, they definitely over-hired).

    The thing I’m most disappointed in is that I was so nervous about doing a good job that I didn’t do a good job. I was a little uptight and nervous about making mistakes that I didn’t ‘engage’ properly. I also think they thought they were getting someone else when they hired me.

    In truth, it wasn’t the best fit. But I was so happy to be working again and the past week was the best I’ve had in years.

    From here though, I don’t know what to do. This just makes me even more nervous about my next job. Knowing that you don’t get a few days grace period. I also had hoped if something wasn’t going well they would have talked to me first. I could have easily switched to a different style.

    1. Not So NewReader

      I had a job where I had to be tested as part of the interview. They were doing mass interviews. I failed the test terribly.

      And that was when I realized I was just not suited for that type of work at all. I had to look at totally different jobs. (Actually that worked out well for me but it took years for me to figure out just how well.)

      In your case, not every job has that set up. Here they threw you in the water and said “sink or swim”. You can expect to see that type of thing in factory work or work that is repetitive. They figure you either get it or you don’t. Try looking for jobs with less stringent requirements. Typically the more different tasks you do, the less apt they are to kick you out for not doing one thing well.

  104. afiendishthingy

    3 shifts?? Yikes. Not all jobs are like that! For the next job, I would ask in the interview or at least after the offer how long the training period is and how long they expect a new hire will take to get up to speed. Your experience is not the norm so don’t let it scare you off your next job.

    I am very grateful the job I started this week (technically last week but last week was all orientation) does not operate like that; my supervisor (who seems very supportive and awesome) said she expects most people in my position will take about a year to really feel like they know the job. Nonetheless I am deep into OMG WHY DID THEY HIRE ME mode. I’m a clinical supervisor for home-based therapy for kids with developmental disabilities, or I will be once I get my certification exam results (took it August 1, results coming September at the earliest, mid-October at the latest) – provided I passed. They hired me knowing this and said I’d just be a coordinator (a step below clinician) until then, but in reality that’s not really feasible either because I’d need to have a caseload as a coordinator that would not be the same cases I would then have as a clinician. So I’m just sort of in limbo, tagging along on other people’s home visits and looking for things to do when I’m in the office, which is hard since I have no computer or clients of my own. I’ve worked with people with autism for about 5 years, but since I just finished my masters and took my certification exam this is a significant step up from previous positions. Also most of my previous experience was in schools rather than homes – and my supervisor and at least one of my coworkers has said that’s valuable to have that insight into the schools, but it’s a big change. Lastly, it seems that one of the major reasons for hiring me was that I am bilingual in Spanish, although I’m not a native speaker. I did a meeting yesterday with a Spanish-speaking mother and I felt like it was kind of a disaster, my Spanish was rusty because I haven’t needed to use it regularly for a few years, although I’m sure it’ll come back quickly, and although another clinician and a coordinator were present as well I felt like I had to pretty much run a meeting that I would have been uncomfortable doing in English let alone my second language.

    I don’t think I misrepresented myself in my interview, so intellectually, I think things will probably be ok once my feet are under me, but the irrational part of my brain thinks I’m totally unqualified and worries that everyone else thinks I am too! Commiseration and pep talks would be lovely, if it’s not too late in the thread.

    1. Anx

      It is a service-based position. I can see where they are coming from in that they are opening a business and don’t want to see if the issues correct themselves. But I’m still disappointed in myself for not picking up on the fact that they were looking for something different earlier.

      It’s the second job I’ve had that didn’t last after a long bout of unemployment (years). It’s difficult to process because about 10 years ago I could pick up things pretty quickly and hold onto my jobs. In fact, I was always commended for my job performance. I suppose it’s time to call the other one back and see about whether or not I was secretly fired or if they really meant that they it was a temporary lay off due to the summer.

      My campus has fliers for part-time positions working as skills instructors and other assisting positions for developmental disorders including autism. There are minimal experience and education requirements, but this seems to be to be a very important job. I am concerned about inadvertently working against the best interests of the clients. Do you know if it’s normal for part-time (mostly students) do this type of work without any prior education specific to the field? I’ve taken a few psychology courses, but the bulk of my understanding of autism comes from Tumblr of all places. I’ve been considering applying for a while but until today I didn’t think I needed to :-/.

      As for your situation, I can imagine the switch from schools to homes to be quite significant, regardless of how many years you’ve been doing it. I feel like that changes the entire dynamic between the relationships. My Spanish isn’t so great, either. When I volunteer in my local hospital I usually bust it out when nobody else is fluent, but there is a lot of me emphasizing to the family that a translator is coming and that I cannot reliably rely critical information (medical/financial/legal). I pretty much just talk to the kids a little bit and help guide them around the building and explain our communication system.

      It might help to remember that mutual native speakers have moments of miscommunication all of the time. As long as you are clear in explaining your limitations you’re being honest and a bigger help than not having a translator at all.

      1. afiendishthingy

        Many entry level part-time workers are students with little to no experience in the field, although most places want you to have at least some experience working with children – volunteering in the hospital might be relevant. If you do decide to seek this kind of work, try to do it with a reputable agency where you will have enough contact with your supervisors to ensure that you get adequately trained. Not all agencies are created equal and you definitely don’t want to be in a situation where you’re totally unsupported or going against best practice. It’s not easy work but it can be really fun and very rewarding!

        I have worked a bit in homes before this — but only 3 or 4 homes, and none very long-term… it’s definitely not my comfort zone. The dynamic is completely different, but it’s good experience and it’s definitely really important to target skills and behavior in the child’s home.

        1. Anx

          I have some experience working with children in after-school programs (although that was over 5 years ago). Thanks!

      2. Not So NewReader

        Regarding the job flyer. try to figure out if you would be working in a classroom setting or be working by yourself. It makes a huge difference to have other people around you who know what is what. No, I would not do this alone, either. But with others there, it might work out okay.

        Ask around on campus and see if you can find out about the company that is hiring.

  105. Anon DS

    So, I’ve been searching for a job since I got my master’s degree in May. No luck on a full-time job yet, I keep getting passed up for candidates with more experience (from the feedback I’ve gotten). I’m not surprised, since my work history is filled with (a lot of) internships, volunteer work and part-time jobs but no full time experience. My degree level and experience level don’t “match.”

    I just accepted a full-time paid internship somewhat related to my field since I figured it couldn’t hurt and would at least be a couple of months of good experience. It could lead to a job? I haven’t the faintest idea. I keep wondering how much experience I need to scrounge together before someone will actually hire me for a full time position. Will I just need to keep taking internships and part-time jobs to get just enough to make my loan payments (which start in a few months) for who knows how long? Will I ever have enough experience for an entry level position?

    I am excited about the internship and I need to be positive. Just a bit frustrated too.

    1. Felicia

      That was me for about 2 years after I graduated – I spent those 2 years doing volunteer work, 2 internships and a couple of very short contracts. I just got a full time entry level position 2 weeks ago and so far so good! So it’ll happen eventually. I know exactly what it feels like to think you’ll never have enough experience to get a full time job and no one would give you a chance , but it takes just one place to give you that first opportunity. I got this job entirely because of one internship and one 6 week contract I did – because both of those things were so specifically related to the job, and while lots of people would have more experience in the area, not as many peoples’ relevant experience was as specifically relevant as mine. So the internship will definitely help – maybe not to get a job there, but for sure to get a job somewhere else

      1. Anon DS

        Thanks Felicia! I appreciate you sharing your experience, and that does make me feel better. Hopefully the next steps will keep working out, and eventually lead to a first full-time job.

        1. Felicia

          I hope it works out for you too! I really thought i’d never get a job and I was regretting every volunteer , freelance or internship assignment I ever took. I thought none of it would ever be good enough and i’d just keep failing forever. Now thinking how I got this first full time job, i never would have gotten it without those experiences. I think when a lot of places are hiring people with 5-7 years experience for entry level job it’ll never be enough, so for the places that are more likely to give you a chance it’s ok to hit on the right combination of specific experience.

          I hope it doesn’t take you as long as it took me ( 2 years is too much!) but even if your internship right now doesn’t lead to a job right away it will be part of the reason you get a job eventually. its been a combination of all my unpaid or temp experience that caused it t work out

    2. Amethyst

      That happened to me out of grad school. I’m happy for you that you found a paid internship – that’s so great! I hope it’s a good experience for you. It took me a year to find permanent full-time work: I used a temp agency and was in three different offices before the third decided to hire me. It was hard to feel good about doing temp work, but if there’s a good agency in your city, it might be a decent option if the internship doesn’t end with a hire.

      Also, if your loans are federal, definitely get them income-adjusted on one of the various plans. I couldn’t fill out that paperwork until about 45 days before the grace period ended, but it took what would’ve been a $1200 a month payment to $110 a month. (Who is making enough to pay $1200 a month on loans 6 months after school ends, I don’t know…)

      1. Anon DS

        That’s insane- I don’t know anyone who could afford that 6 months out of grad school. I could afford a few months payment on mine right now, but it would burn through my savings pretty quickly.

        Thanks, I’ll definitely see what I can find out about temp agencies around here.

  106. Jz

    Earlier this year, my company announced it was setting up a leadership program and encouraged applications for it from anyone who was looking to progress within the company. It was billed as a course running until the end of the year, facilitated by the company’s head of training who would hold monthly group meetings with everyone involved. Everyone on the program would be assigned a senior employee as a mentor, there would be ongoing projects with different themes each month, building up a portfolio of work and developing leadership skills. This was advertised as something prestigious that would help the company develop the leaders needed for the expansion the company is preparing for in the next couple of years.

    I was really excited about this and (after a gruelling application process) I got accepted as one of 10 people who made it on to this program. This was in May. Since then, one ‘monthly’ meeting has taken place, which was arranged for a date that not everyone could attend (and some of my colleagues on the course who couldn’t make it had a ‘catch-up’ session scheduled which was then cancelled, so they haven’t had any time at all with the head of training who is running the program). Other sessions have been arranged (and sometimes also rearranged) then cancelled at the last minute with no reason given – including the meeting scheduled for August, so there won’t be any new meeting until at least September. The only other work we’ve been given was to complete a few competency tests and fill in one form. There have been no mentors, no projects, no indication that the time scale for the program will be extended.

    The person who is supposed to be running this course occupies a very high-up position within the company, is obviously knowledgeable and seems to be respected by her peers. Her involvement was supposed to be a big draw and a sign that the company was taking staff development seriously. However she does have a reputation amongst staff as being unreliable when it comes to things like this (I know of a manager who had a training course cancelled and re-arranged 10 times by