open thread – August 8, 2014

LucyIt’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.

{ 956 comments… read them below }

  1. Amy B.*

    My apologies for the length. I really did try to edit it down!

    My manager and I are close in that we both respect each other and he praises and values my work. We are not close in the sense that we share our personal lives with one another. It is almost all business. Over the past three years I have been coping with episodes of excruciating nerve pain and he has been fairly understanding of the amount of time I have missed (sometimes letting me work from home) but it has an impact at work as I manage other people. Lately, I have been experiencing more nerve related issues and the doctors are fairly certain we are looking at Multiple Sclerosis. I still have to have a spinal tap to confirm.

    My symptoms (crippling pain, loss of grip strength, double vision, tripping over my own feet, fatigue, and not being able to retrieve the correct words from my brain) come in waves and some parts of my body can be affected while others are fine (that week anyway). The symptoms are worse in the afternoon (especially the fatigue and words/brain problem, which is more frustrating than I can express).

    Would it be advisable to discuss this issue with my manager to see if we can do things to help accommodate the situation such as holding meetings in the mornings when my brain is functioning at its best, and….I don’t even know what else? Or should I keep this to myself as long as possible so I won’t be, even subconsciously, thought of as “the person with MS.” I have worked so hard to raise myself out of poverty and build an amazing career. I don’t want to now be seen as the weak one that can’t be depended on.

    1. The IT Manager*

      My suggestion: Yes, tell him, but feel free to ask him to keep it to himself so your medical problem is not known throughout the office (Contingent on him not having to go too far out of his way to make the accommodations. If the accommodations start impacting others, they may need to be told at least some of the story even if the details are left out).

      Also start investigating law and what kind of accommodations that they are legally required to provide.

      1. The IT Manager*

        PS Hiding it as long as possible sounds like a bad idea, just because by the time you have to tell your reputation may have taken a nose dive. If you don’t share the source of your problems, they may just assume you’re not a good worker. Also I’m fairly sure legal accomidations don’t apply until you tell them you need them.

        1. Artemesia*

          This — when the symptoms are as obvious as stumbling, weakness etc people will begin to suspect alcohol, drugs and such and gossip. When you have a problem as serious as this with evident symptoms that show at work, it is far better that people are aware you have a medical problem. You may not want to go for full disclosure, but even something like ‘having problem with nerve issues that are affecting my balance’ or something like that would help frame it away from substance abuse. I have worked with several people with MS — the kind that comes and goes. All were luckily able to continue working and for the most part were not heavily affected; it was important during flare ups that people were aware the problem was physical.

    2. Elizabeth West*

      First, I’m so sorry you’re going through this. I hope the doctors can get your condition diagnosed and under control soon.

      If it’s affecting your work, I think you absolutely need to sit down and talk to your manager about it. I would go in with a plan–“This is what works best for me, this is how I can get X stuff done,” etc., to allay any fears that you won’t be able to handle the workload. The suggestion of morning meetings is a good one–most people don’t like meetings and would rather get them out of the way anyway (at least I would!).

    3. Chinook*

      Amy B., first off – I hope you are feeling well today. It is great that your manager is so supportive and I think that getting a daignosis of a disease with a name (vs. just various symptoms) may make things easier to ask her to accomodate you. I can see no problem with asking that meetings preferrably be scheduled in the morning and any other accomodations that you might come up with (maybe an ergonimc assessment for better designed work tools like mice, keyboards or chairs?). It may feel like you are playing the “but I am disabled” card but the reality is that you do need to accomodate your disability in order for you to productive for longer.

      And, if it is MS, you may also want to look at your long term strategy – what is the plan for when the disease becomes debilitating? Is there a point where going on disability is an option because the pain from working is not worth the rewards from working (i.e. a sense of purpose, higher income). This long term strategy is important not only for you but also for your boss as there may come a point where job sharing may be a better option so that you can work in the mornings and someone else can do so in the afternoons (I have heard of this in Canada and often the salary and responsibilities are split between two employees and the only added expense to the company is the benefits).

      Lastly, check out a local MS Society and see what they can recommend in the way of job adaptations (as well as for your home). Talking with people who have gone through what you go through should help with logistical plans as well as give you some emotional support.

    4. fposte*

      Ugh, I’m so sorry.

      I think that most managers would want to know and want to be able to help you do your best work. I also think that having work arranged to the best of your ability is a better protection of your reputation than keeping illness a secret. As somebody who’s not great at vulnerability herself, I’ll say that resistance to vulnerability can be a weakness disguised as a strength–consider what’s best for you, not just what makes you feel least weak.

      1. QualityControlFreak*

        “Resistance to vulnerability can be a weakness disguised as a strength …” boy, isn’t that the truth! A very difficult lesson to learn, but a really valuable
        one, OP. Good advice here – best of luck.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          It strikes me as odd. Sometimes when I admit that I can’t do this or that, I end up feeling stronger. Part of it is because, no one cares, as in, “Don’t worry about that part, NSNR. Handle this part and that will be fine.” Some times it’s about giving people a way they can pitch in and help. Some times it a peek inside people’s thoughts to find out that the thing that concerned me is a non-issue. Some times I have to give people a chance, which is an odd way to frame it.

          (Think evil wind comes through my neighborhood and puts my roof on my lawn. ugh. Not comparable to OPs situation except for the part of giving people a chance.)

    5. Persephone Mulberry*

      You have gotten some really good advice here; I have little to add but that I’ll send some positive thoughts your way. One of my dear friends from high school was diagnosed with MS at 22 and has been living with the disease for over 10 years, and I have witnessed her ups and downs (both physically and emotionally). Best of luck to you.

      1. Nodumbunny*

        I think everyone above has given good advice and don’t have much to add – just wanted to say how sorry I am this is happening to you. I’ve been close to two situations where one of my family members was managing someone who had MS- I really agree that it’s best to let your boss know so that your reputation doesn’t take a hit before you get accommodations in place. Very best of luck to you.

    6. Kimberlee, Esq.*

      I want to echo Persephone Mulberry a bit here, and note that one of the most awesome people I know has been an events planner at a museum for 9 years (today!) and is a kickass bar trivia host, and while her MS has been progressing, she’s still able to live, work, and have fun. I think talking to your boss once you have a confirmed diagnosis is key, and telling him that you’re officially seeking accommodations that will probably need to change over time. Starting out with having more meetings in the mornings is a great start, and I’d think pretty easy to accommodate. From there, keep the conversation going, and let your manager know when things are changing and what you need.

      Here’s to a long and successful career ahead of you!

    7. Mimmy*

      The advice above is absolutely right on the money…I love what Chinook said about thinking of the long-term plan if it turns out you do have MS. MS–and other autoimmune conditions–can be unpredictable, so it’s good to consider your options should the need arise.

      I think it would be a good idea to speak to your manager now. Even if you don’t have a confirmed diagnosis yet, I think it’s good for him/her to be aware of what’s going on so that there are no inaccurate assumptions, especially if others have noticed the stumbling or the word-finding issues. I like the suggested verbiage Artemesia provided. In fact, as others have mentioned, I think the law does require that you disclose if you need any accommodations–you don’t have to go into every minute detail (I don’t think?)

      1. Chinook*

        I think this is one of those times when even disclosing to colleagues may be to your advantage because I think some of the MS symptoms can make you look drunk. Better to have them know that you have an illness and how you are dealing with it to lessen its impact on them than to have them think that you are coming in drunk and the company is letting you get away with it.

        BTW, I know that it sounds weird to make it about them and not you, but I think that pointing out from the styart that you know it will affect them and you hope to mitigate it gives them room to tell you it isn’t a problem (sort of them giving you the accomodation rather than you taking it). But, if you work with unsympathetic idiots, you know which ones would use this informaiton against you and whether or not you should give them ammo to use against you.

    8. Amy Jones*

      Hi AmyB, AmyJ here. :) I have MS. I was diagnosed in 2007, and for the most part I’ve made the decision to be as open about it at work and generally in my life as I can. My reasoning is that it’s too much work to keep it secret, and it’s just simpler (for me) if everyone knows. Yes, the pity can be annoying, but for me it’s the better choice. I know NMSS has some resources to help you decide about disclosing.

      If you have good insurance, I’d look into/ask your neurologist about stimulants for the fatigue. I’ve been taking Provigil (now generic, Modafinil) for years, and it’s really helped me to live the life I want to lead. Provigil works on the Central Nervous System, and it’s great — it doesn’t make me jittery, it’s not habit-forming (though you do develop a tolerance after a while), but it really helps with the fatigue. Not so much the “cog fog,” and tip of the tongue syndrome (which also drives me crazy). I mention the insurance because insurance companies do NOT like to pay for it, and will make you jump through as many hoops as they can think of to stall/not accept it, and it’s ridiculously expensive — more than $1000/month (which is why they don’t like to pay for it). And that’s the generic. There are other options, as well — I know Nuvigil is a similar drug, and my current neurologist gave me a prescription for an anti-viral (I think?) that mysteriously helps some people. So far it hasn’t helped me, though.

      One thing I’ve had to learn — my symptoms are hugely noticable to me, since I live inside me (so to speak) — but often, other folks don’t notice at all. This is both a blessing and a curse, but it’s possible that your stumbling, etc, is less pronounced than you fear it is.

      The final piece of advice I’d give you is to look up It’s primarily a forum/chat site for folks with MS. I’ve found it to be a great resource for support, and for reality checks about symptoms, etc. You don’t have to wait for an official diagnosis to participate — there are a bunch of people ‘in limbo’ who post there regularly (since MS can be so had to diagnose).

      Also, I was really afraid of the spinal tap, but it was no big deal at all. I think it used to be much more painful before they started using X-Ray machines to avoid your bone.

      I’m really sorry that you have to go through this. It’s no fun — but it is survivable. I know you may be in a crisis stage, but after a while you do adjust, and hopefully you’ll be able to continue living your life with minimum disruption from the disease.

    9. MaryMary*

      I’m so sorry you have to deal with this.

      I agree with the other posters that you should talk to your manager sooner rather than later, but if you work for a company that’s large enough to have a professional HR staff, inform them too. A good HR person can assist you in sorting through options like flex time or intermittent FMLA that could really be helpful for you. It sounds like your manager is supportive of you in general, which is great, but if that ever changes or if you get a new manager, you may need HR’s formal support.

      Good luck

    10. Amy B.*

      I want to thank everyone very much for the great advice and words of comfort and encouragement! I am definitely not big on vulnerability and that will be the hardest part of this. It took me a month to tell my SO and he is the only one that I have told. I will definitely talk to my manager. Right now I am thinking I will take Artemesia’s advice and tell him I am having nerve issues and follow. Elizabeth’s suggestion of going in with a plan is great because I am just a bit (a lot) of a control freak and that will let me feel like I have SOME control. That has been the hardest part of this: not being able to control my own body.

      Amy: Thank you for the MS specific advice. I have a lot to learn; but I am comforted to know we may be able to soon put a name on this mystery after so many years. Keep rocking on!

      1. PJ*

        I may be late to the party here, Amy B, but if you’re still paying attention talk to your HR department about FMLA. It’s a law that can protect your job while allowing intermittent absences. I know it’s hard to talk about at this stage (and what a brave thing you did by sharing with us, thank you!) but you deserve to have all your resources lined up on your side.

        Best of luck to you on this incredible journey you’re on.

      2. Lisa Jones*

        Hi Ann, hopefully you are still reading here. I have a chronic illness that is progressive in nature, and am still working.

        My biggest piece of advice to you is before you talk to your boss, do some reading at JAN – Job Accommodation Network –
        They have a wealth of information about requesting reasonable accommodations for health issues at work. They also have consultants you can speak to for free, anonymously as well.

        Before I requested my accommodations, I did a ton of reading on-line, and consulted with an employment attorney in my state, so that I could be as informed as possible before I went to my employer.

        I personally would not trust my employer to necessarily be on my side, even if they are supportive, and that is why I feel its important to be informed before going to a manager or HR about this.

        You do not have to disclose the nature of your illness to your manager. HR will require a note from a doctor if you request disability accommodations and/or use of FMLA. But that information does not have to be shared with a manager.

        Anyway, my reasonable accommodations are what have kept me employed for the past ten years. I have had to request that they be altered as time has gone on as my symptoms have changed.

        I feel much more secure knowing that these have been formalized with HR rather than making an informal arrangement with a manager. Sadly, most of the managers I’ve worked with over the years are woefully uninformed about the process of reasonable accommodations.

        Best of luck to you!

  2. The IT Manager*

    I wrote in on the July 18th open thread. My customers’ unrealistic deadlines remain, but I have been much more vocal about problems that are impacting the schedule. He continues to speak about us/me crashing the schedule, but the parts under his control drag on and on. I know why, I just wish he’d have a lightning bolt moment and give me some breathing room – ie few extra weeks / a month.

    But we have had some successes lately. Some parts are making progress, so I feel rather upbeat today. My mood can change with the delivery of email telling of more problems, but this week probably had a bit more positive than negative. I will happy when this project is done, though because #1 hey, it’s done, and we’ve succeeded, and #2 escaping the stress and dysfunction of the project. I fully expect my next project to have some kind of dysfunction – just a different kind – perhaps an disinterested customer for variety.

    1. Artemesia*

      Sorry this continues to bedevil. I have worked in a situation where someone constantly drug their feet then expected magic overnight completion of projects. I started being very clear with ‘if we don’t have A by Friday next, we will not be able to make the June 1 deadline and it will be pushed back a week.’ Didn’t always work but shining light on where the log jams were made the problem very visible to everyone.

    2. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I’ve been lucky to work with great clients, but could you start saying that you have an estimate of, for example, 80 hours for yourself and 40 hours for his input, clear it with him, and then when he sits on stuff for a total of two weeks you can show that he delayed the schedule for a week? Maybe putting it that way will make it clearer where the delays are coming from without sounding like you’re personally laying blame.

  3. Ali*

    I took a much-needed vacation from checking my e-mail! I went out of town for a few days so got a four-day break from being connected. Oh it was wonderful even if I had to get back in the loop when I got back. If you get the chance, I really suggest doing this. Taking my work e-mail out of my phone for a few days was freeing, and I have no desire to put it back in there. (My bosses and coworkers have my phone number and can text in true emergencies or if they just want to ask something without awaiting an e-mail reply.)

    1. Meredith*

      I’m going camping in the Boundary Waters later this month, and I am very much looking forward to not being available! My phone will be utterly useless there (not that I would want to check it anyway)!

    2. Elizabeth West*

      I NEVER check work email outside work. It was a revelation to me at Exjob that once my day was over, it could be over (I wasn’t on call or anything, nor do I have to be at Newjob). I didn’t have to think about it or worry about any of the bullshit that was going on. It was one of the best things I learned from being put on a PIP–just to let it go at the end of the day and make my personal time MY time.

    3. The IT Manager*

      Awesomely I can only check email on my work laptop. I do take it home at night and work from home some days, but I have no desire for a BlackBerry which would provide handheld email. Fortunately because of security there’s no option to put work email on my personal device – THANK GOODNESS! – I do not want that.

      I greatly enjoy being “unplugged” from work when I am not there.

    4. Ash (the other one!)*

      I’m way too obsessive to do this. It even makes me antsy when I’m on an airplane without WiFi!

        1. Jen RO*

          We’re very much alike, it seems. I never check work mail outside work, but I get jittery without my personal internet!

    5. Midge*

      I went on my first cruise this summer, and decided not to pay for WIFI on the ship. It was awesome to be disconnected for a week!

      1. Xay*

        I went on a weeklong cruise last month – didn’t pay for wifi, only turned on my phone to check email during one port day and it was wonderful and freeing.

    6. GraduateDiplomaInkStillWet*

      I have a job interview Monday for a low-paying, temporary, part-time job filling in for someone on maternity leave. It would be good experience to put on my resume to help me get into the area of my field I’m most interested in. Any advice on how to answer if they ask if I can commit to the full term of the temporary job? The truth is, if I get a full-time permanent gig elsewhere, I’m outta there, but I’m worried being honest will cost me this opportunity.

      1. Chuchundra*

        If they actually ask you to commit to working the full term then you say yes, of course. A silly question doesn’t deserve an honest answer.

        If you were in a snarky mood (and didn’t actually want the job), you might ask if they’d be willing to sign a contract and guarantee you a job for the stated time period.

  4. Becca*

    I LOVE my new boss. She’s fantastic, I can learn a lot from her and she’s a genuinely nice person. Now, I’m like 90% sure she is having an affair with HER boss. Now, I THINK both of them are divorced (not sure on him) but that’s beyond the point. The point is….everyone and their mother at work tries to drop this subtle “hints” to me and I don’t know how to react. The other day I had someone come and look for her and then look at me and say “Oh…the lovebirds….always together.” or make snide comments about how “Oh well [My Boss] will keep him warm in the winter.” It makes me uncomfortable and I’m still pretty new to the company. We have a policy where you cannot work with spouses, but I’m not sure about dating co-workers. Naturally, a supervisor relationship is disallowed most likely too…but besides the intelligence of the situation, does anyone have any tips or things I can say to deflect people when they make these comments to me? They obviously want me to agree with them, but so far I just play dumb or ignore them because I love my boss and really do respect her.

    1. Sunflower*

      I think the best and only thing to do is continue to Play dumb and ignore ignore ignore. This is a situation you DO NOT want to get in the middle of. If people keep dropping hints, I like to do an uncomfortable smile/laugh and people usually get the hint that I do not want to talk about it. If anyone says anything explicitly, just shrug your shoulders and go back to work. Eventually people SHOULD stop asking

    2. Zillah*

      Oooh, that’s awkward.

      How about just saying something like, “I’m not interested in gossiping” or “This really isn’t any of my business”?

      1. JMegan*

        I would even just say “Okay”, and then stop talking/ change the subject/ walk away. Make it clear that you’re not going to engage in the conversation, and they should stop trying to involve you.

        1. Mints*

          I would probably do this too. I’m not sure I’m brave enough to call out the gossip directly, but I’d definitely just do a “Oh… So do you watch the Waking Dead? I’ve just started it” or “Okay… So here’s my draft of the excel. Let me know what feedback you have. Seeya”

        2. OhNo*

          I usually go with “Oh, interesting” in the most bored tone of voice I can muster. Obvious disinterest work wonders for shutting down some people.

          Body language can help a lot in these situations, especially if you don’t feel comfortable saying anything. Look away, check you watch, tap your foot, nod while looking distracted, use a bored or distracted tone of voice… If your coworkers have any sense, they will catch on that the subject does not interest you pretty quickly.

    3. Chinook*

      Have you mentioned the rumours to your boss? She may not be aware of the optics of the situation if it is completely innocent because all she sees is her and her boss working closely and effectively and these rumours could defintiely undermine her authority. Speaking as someone who has a weirdly deep (like mind reading deep) connection with a woman I ran reception with, I wouldn’t have at all been surprised if they suspected that we were in the middle of a love affair (and me looking at her one day at an office party and her response being to stick out her hip so I could grab her swipe card from her back pocket probably didn’t help). But we never supervised one another, so it didn’t affect out jobs.

      Now, if the rumorus are true, take Sunflowers advice and stay out of it.

      1. Becca*

        I haven’t…..I don’t even know where to begin mentioning it to her. I’m still very new (like, under 4 months) and I don’t want to make her feel awkward around me or anything. We literally sit next to each other right now, except when she’s with her boss (which she is right now, hence why I can type this).

        I really, really, thought it was innocent for awhile…but then when it became 60% of her day being with him, eating lunch with him, etc, I started to get the hint. It wasn’t until other people mentioned it that I realized I’m probably not wrong on my hunch.

        But I really just don’t know how to bring that up to her without making things awkward.

        1. MJ*

          Are you actually typing things about your boss on an Internet site while you are at work? Probably not a good idea, especially if you are on a work computer.

          1. Becca*

            No, on my phone…which we ARE allowed to use, but I try not to do it in front of her just because I feel weird about it :)

        2. fposte*

          What is it that you would want to happen in response to your bringing it up to her? If the rumor mill is in full churn, her publicly denying an affair isn’t going to make much difference anyway.

          I’d go with ignoring it and pushing back on the gossip attempts. “Not my boss’s keeper, dude. Are you good for Friday on the reports?”

          1. Becca*

            Yes, this is a good point that I didn’t think of. Idk if anything would happen except maybe make her feel bad, and I don’t want that.

          2. Not So NewReader*

            Love this response. Also “not my life..”, “not my turn to watch her”, and “I don’t care”.

            Basically, these things go well until they go bad. Or they go well and people move on.

            Since you work closely with her your cohorts probably expect you to start telling them juicy details. This is where “It is what it is . I’m here to work.” comes in handy.

        3. CandyFloss*

          Do not get involved under any circumstance. You like your boss but that’s doesn’t means she has good judgement. I see no good outcome if you get involved in any way in what’s going on. Ignore/deflect the comments other people make and remember as much as you like your boss, she’s not your friend, she’s your boss.

        4. krisl*

          I don’t think I’d bring it up at all. I’d ignore it and play dumb as much as possible.

    4. Brett*

      Been through something similar (except boss was married and the rumored affair was with a subordinate and got messy).
      Forget deflecting. Be blunt. In the same situation, I said variations, “I don’t want to hear that. I work for her and your comments are not something I care to hear so please stop.” And repeated that, every time. The comments stopped after a few months and never came back. Pretty sure everyone just knew by then, “Don’t talk to Brett about his boss’ marital issues/social life,” and that was exactly what I wanted.

      1. EG*

        I second this. If coworkers have an issue, they should go through the formal channels to report it. Gossip isn’t helpful or pleasant at all. If you shut this down, at the least you should stop hearing these comments.

    5. ClaireS*

      The supervisory stuff aside (which i don’t think is ok), I can confirm that spouses can work together well without it being weird for colleagues. I work with several sets of spouses and it’s a complete non issue (probably bc they work hard to make it a non issue).

      I realize this doesn’t help your specific situation (others advise is spot on) but wanted to throw my 2 cents in that it doesn’t need to be weird.

      1. Becca*

        I agree with you…but, this is my company’s policy. People have apparently gotten engaged and someone had to leave because this is what my company states in our handbook. It used to be no one related to you can work at the company, but they’ve let up on that and now your children, sister, father, whatever can work there…but still no spouses.

        1. ClaireS*

          What an unfortunate policy. This would never fly in my (small) industry. Everyone is related to someone!

  5. Empress Zhark*

    I started my job in October last year, and I quite enjoy the work, I like the people I work with and things seemed to be going well. In April this year I was awarded a 10% payrise, at a time when others were only getting 2-3% cost-of-living raises, and my boss seemed happy with my work.

    Then, about 2 months ago I slipped into a “funk” – not motivated to do any work, I spent a lot of time slacking off, avoiding work where possible. There was no logical reason for this – no family problems, no health problems – I just lost my mojo. I kept up with the bare minimum of work I needed to slip under the radar, and nothing major had slipped, although my work quality was certainly not my best.

    I have in the past week pulled myself back up, I’m catching up with the work I’ve put off and am trying to get back to being a high-performing employee. My boss, if he has noticed a dip in my work quality, has not addressed the issue with me directly, although I will be having my first full performance review next month and he may be waiting until then to bring it up.

    My question is this – should I be proactive and schedule a brief meeting with my boss, to apologise for my poor performance/attitude in recent weeks, and show/tell him what steps I am taking to rectify the issue, ensuring it won’t happen again? Part of me thinks doing this would reflect well on me and my maturity/professionalism, and show that I take ownership of my mistakes; however another part of me wants to keep it quiet in the (possibly vain) hope that my boss hasn’t noticed the huge dip in my work quality and that as long as I get back up to scratch pretty quickly the episode can be forgotten.

    Should I schedule that meeting?

    1. Elizabeth West*

      I would save it until your review, but you might want to address it then if it’s really bothering you. If he’s noticed, I would imagine he’ll bring it up anyway, or maybe obliquely refer to a drop in quality, at which point you can address it directly.

    2. BeenThere*

      I would say not to mention it. You’ve addressed the issue, possibly before anyone else even noticed it was an issue.

      I have had a very challenging year in my personal life, a roller coaster of terribleness, with some health issues thrown in. I’ve felt like I was just going through the motions at work – I never had a visible breakdown or anything but I definitely wasn’t giving it 100%. In my annual review, I received the highest possible rating. Up from last year, even. Glowing review. I was stunned. But I’ll take it!

      My point is that other people can’t see EVERYTHING. Sometimes that is bad, but sometimes it works out for the best. Be prepared to address it in the review and make the necessary assurances, but only if your manager brings it up first.

    3. ClaireS*

      I can completely relate. I’d be prepared to talk about it if your boss brings it up (acknowledge and talk about your steps to overcome it) but I wouldn’t bring it up proactively. There is a good chance they haven’t noticed.

    4. fposte*

      I personally would lean away from such a meeting, given that there’s no identifiable cause for your dip and no particular guarantee that you’re out of it for good after only a week–it could feel a little bit to me like a disguised attempt at getting absolution and reassurance before somebody’s really noted the sins. Be ready to talk about it at your annual review. Also consider checking out therapy, because that’s pretty early to be burned out on a job that’s going well, and two months of work slippage in your first 10 months there is a significant chunk that you really don’t want to repeat.

      1. Tinker*

        Heh, speaking of medical type interventions, I’ve been in a bit of a similar boat recently — where I’d have chunks of time when I was okay, work-wise, but also just really not on the top of my game for no discernable reason. In a shitty mood, not really concentrating, things like that. I kind of chalked it up to the human condition, and I have some fairly decent skills for saying “oh well” and pressing on in these cases, so I didn’t really think anything was up, but…

        It turns out, long story short, that my doctor’s office pretty much totally dropped the ball with regards to my thyroid replacement, in retrospect several minor annoyances I’ve had were probably symptoms that I wrote off as aging or lack of willpower and I’ve probably been hypothyroid for the past two years. Whoooooops.

        And here’s the thing: I had RAI when I was 17. I have little to no residual thyroid function. I’m permanently and obviously a thyroid patient, I have to be tested at least every year, and I’ve had prior experience with the sets of symptoms for both hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism. If I can get missed, and if I can fail to realize the issue, there’s nobody who can’t.

        PSA: If you’re feeling like you’re behind the ball a bit, even if you think it’s probably your fault or maybe you’re just expecting too much, get it looked into. There are a lot of little medical things, of which the foregoing is one of the more common, that can cause a person to be a little (or a lot, sometimes) depressed, or not quite as energetic or focused as they would rather be. And this one, particularly, can often be easily fixed. And I now have to add this — even if you have a condition that you know about and THINK is under control that can cause these things, are you sure it’s really under control?

        Maybe it’s nothing, but I can also tell you from bitter experience — these things can be really big and they can sneak up on a person. It’s worth considering the possibility.

    5. KayDay*

      If you haven’t made any major mistakes / dropped any large balls, I would not say anything. Definitely do not make a whole meeting out of it. There is honestly a good chance no one has noticed, and espeically if you normally are a good worker, you don’t want to highlight your mistakes. Have an apology prepared if anything ever is raised by someone else to you, but don’t bring it up. If you still really want to say something, you could mention it in the performance review under the lines of “I’m really proud about my performance with X, but I am disappointed with my work during early in the summer, when I was a little bit burnt out. But now I am doing Z to ensure that I can continually perform at a high level.”

    6. VictoriaHR*

      On one hand, if he HAS noticed and is planning to dock you on your performance review because of it, pre-emptively saying something might convince him to revise it before it’s official. On the other hand, if he HASN’T noticed, you’re bringing it to his attention before your official review, and he might use that information to revise your review negatively. Not a good position to be in, honestly. If it were me, I wouldn’t say anything and hope he hasn’t noticed.

    7. Empress Zhark*

      Thanks for all the responses!

      I think the best course is to wait until the review – I’m probably making a bigger deal out of this in my head than it is in reality. WAiting til the review also gives me chance to make sure my recent good performance is stable, rather than an anomaly.

      I’d not really considered this as burnout – I kinda always associated burnout with high-stress jobs, which mine definitely isn’t. It’s not as if I got bored by the work either – I really enjoy it! I just.. lost focus a bit.

      I’m determined to put it all behind me now though and concentrate on performing as highly as I can, acknowledge the problem if it’s brought up by others but otherwise move on and look forwards rather than dwelling on past mistakes.

      Thanks again AAMers!

      1. AM*

        I’ve had this experience before, though it was for a few weeks. I did bring it up with my manager at the time, saying similar to what KayDay wrote – “I was off my game for a bit and I think my work was not up to the highest standards I usually hold for myself. I want you to know that I’m back to normal / focused / working on it (whatever works for you).” My manager HAD noticed but hadn’t said anything because I have typically been a better performer, he figured I had an “off” time and I guess was hoping I’d ge tback into it. But If it’s been going on for a couple months, I think your boss would have noticed (unless he/she is not very attentive to your work output, which some are) — in which case it’s better to not wait until the formal review.

        This all depends on your relationship with your boss though. Is it the kind where you can have casual, not on the record, honest conversations? If it is, you should have a brief (like <10 min) convo acknowledging the lapse and what you're doing to move forward. If it isn't that kind of relationship… I might risk waiting till the review – but it being documented as part of the formal review has got to be worse for you.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          This good bosses are aware that there are peaks and valleys in performance levels. As long as you get back on board and stay there I don’t think you will have too much problem if you boss is decent.

          Some jobs have been like an adrenalin rush for me when I started. Once I got into the swing of it and saw I could do it- I tanked. Could it be that you had a big push of energy starting the job and just found you could not maintain that level?

    8. Robin*

      Since I don’t think anyone else has said it — have you been screened for depression? It could be there is something chemical happening, and it could happen again. I think it’s worth checking.

      1. fposte*

        That’s what I was thinking when I said “check out therapy”–thanks for being clearer!

      2. Zillah*

        This was my thought, too. Not your doctor and can’t diagnose you from a post on the internet, obviously, but it might be worth looking at.

    9. Mephyle*

      There may be something else at play here, as others have suggested, but it could be just the ‘6-month’ hump. It seems to be a common phenomenon that when people are settled into a new routine, it goes good for about 6 to 8 months, and then the motivation just goes flat. It’s not unique to jobs – it can happen, for example, with personal habit changes too, like healthy diets. Sometimes just knowing that it’s not just you or your job – that it happens to other people and with things other than jobs – can help you push through it.

      1. Wo Fat*

        This sounds like it could be the reason for the slow down. It’s not unusual to reach to plateau for a while then get your game back together.

  6. Area codes and job searching?*

    What do you think of area codes and job searching? This is from the comment section of the previous post:

    August 8, 2014 at 10:27 am
    When I moved, I didn’t get a single call for an interview until I changed my cell phone number to a local one. Then I became quite popular!

    August 8, 2014 at 10:29 am
    SERIOUSLY? Does everyone know this but me? Should I get a google phone number with my local area code???

    1. Zillah*

      It seems ridiculous to me, given that people will keep their cell phone numbers through many moves, but I’ve heard the same thing from friends. It could just be coincidence, or that they changed to a local number about when they’d generally be hearing back anyway, but…

    2. Jubilance*

      I think this is one of those things that are dependent on your industry & the area you’re trying to move to. If there are a lot of local candidates in your industry, then yes they probably won’t call an out of towner unless you’re resume/cover letter are stellar & you have way more skills/experience than the other candidates.

      When I was job hunting & looking to change cities, I didn’t find my current address to being a deterrent at all. BUT, I was looking in a field that just doesn’t have a lot of people (polymer chemistry w/experience doing failure analysis/unknowns identification/manufacturing support). The likelihood of a hiring manager finding a large pool of qualified applicants in any one geographic area for that field aren’t as high as someone looking for people in a more saturated field.

      My advice – know your industry & market. If you think there’s gonna be a lot of local ppl competing w/you for jobs, a local Google Voice number probably couldn’t hurt.

    3. Sadsack*

      Was it obvious that the first number you had was a cell? If someone listed a cell with a non-local area code, I doubt anyone would think much about it. If there was no note about it being a cell and so it seemed like it was your home phone, that may be what was the issue.

      1. Zillah*

        Do people generally indicate cell/home, though? On applications, I might specify cell, but on my resume, I just put my phone number – specifying cell seems needlessly awkward to me.

    4. Sunflower*

      I think the idea of getting a new phone number/area code is ridiculous. I’ve had the same phone number since 8th grade. The amount of time and effort it would take to give everyone who needs my new number is ridiculous. Disclosure: I’m 25 and a good amount of my friends are still on their parents phone plans. A lot went into jobs right out of college that are not at all physically close to where they grew up and I don’t see it really affecting them.

      IMO- I think the idea of changing your number to a local one seems very behind the times. I get the idea of it but I think it would be incredibly silly of a company to judge whether to call a candidate back based on their phone number- they would lose a lot of great qualified candidates that can start tomorrow or already live in the city they’re looking at.

      1. Helka*

        I have to think that this is something that’s going to start going the way of the dinosaur. Anymore, you can transfer even landline phone numbers — my father moved from Virginia to Tennessee and kept his exact same home phone number, area code and all! So as time goes on and this becomes more and more common, I think that area codes will start to lose their value as being solid identifiers of where someone currently lives. And, of course, cell phones are becoming more common as well and carry the exact same issue. I’ve had the same rural Virginia area code through living in three different states.

    5. LAI*

      I think it’s the address that matters. I was using an out-of-town area code for 12 years professionally because I never changed my cell phone number from the one I got in high school, and I’m not aware that it was ever an issue. However, I always listed my phone number on my resume right below my local address, so I think it was still pretty clear that I was a local candidate.

          1. Bea W*

            Cell phones weren’t a thing when I was in high school. I do remember when my sister got her own landline!

        1. Noah*

          I’m 30, and I think I was right at the start of high-schoolers getting cell phones. I had one when I was 16, it was added on to my parents plan, but I had to pay for it.

    6. Children's Librarian*

      Only anecdotal but it’s never been an issue for me. Most people use cell phones now and since you can move all over the country and keep the same number–it’s not really a reflection of where you live. I still have the same cell phone number as I did in high school (I’m 30) and I have worked in 3 different area codes since as I have moved for college and then for different job opportunities. No one has blinked an eye.

    7. KayDay*

      It depends on your location mostly, I think. In many major cities, there are (a) multiple area codes and (b) lots of people using cell phones from their home towns. So, look at how other people in your area tell you their phone number – do they normally give out their area code? Do businesses normally post their area code on their ads? If people almost never use area codes, an ouside area code *might* be an issue (but it might not). If people regularly use the area code when giving out their number, it probably doesn’t matter what yours is.

      (Note: when I moved from Pleasantville, Nowhere to DC, I was surprised that some longtime DC (and surrounding DMV area) residents did not know that you could dial a phone number without the area code. Back in Pleasantville, I never dialed a local area code.

      1. Kimberlee, Esq.*

        This. I went back to my hometown in Idaho recently, and was surprised to see business phone numbers painted on car doors and whatnot without the area code. Like, just seven numbers looks WEIRD to me, because I’ve been living in DC where it’s pretty rare.

        And in DC, nobody would think twice about a far away area code. But in Idaho Falls, I’m sure a non-208 area code would stick out and could very well matter in a job search.

        1. Celeste*

          I lived in Idaho Falls in the early 90s. It doesn’t surprise me that they would do this. For a city, it has a small-town feeling.

      2. Dan*

        I grew up in an area where half the state had the same area code. (No joke, 715 covers all of the Northern WI.)

        When I moved to DC, I learned how to dial the area code every time I have to make a call. Whether or not I can make an area-code free call, I have no idea. I haven’t tried in 16 years.

        But when I drive through small towns, and pass something with a phone number on it, I think, “Gee, I’d love to call but actually have no idea what area code to dial!”

        1. Windchime*

          Washington is this way, too. 509 covers the entire eastern half of the state, so when I’m over there, you don’t give your area code unless it’s something other than 509. Now that I live on the western half of the state, everyone gives their area code because there are many different ones here. I frequently get comments, though: “Oh, 509? Where are you from?”

          I keep my 509 area code so my parents can call me toll-free from their landline. And because I’m an Eastern WA native and I kind of like people to know that. :) I haven’t had to conduct a job search with a 509 phone number, though.

      3. Bea W*

        I can’t remember who i was with who was having trouble dialing a number from my phone. She was totally perplexed that she had to dial the area code. At that point we’d had 10 digit dialing for years, and i just assumed the whole country had switched over.

        1. Felicia*

          Dialing an area code became required when I was a very small child – like the age I was just learning my own phone number and how phones worked, so I dont really remember not having to dial one. I think there are some places that don’t have to do it , but only seeing 7 numbers looks weird to me.

    8. sitting duck*

      I did have a few problems with this actually, I live in a state that has ONE area code for th whole state, therefore some people.tend to assume that your phone number starts with that area code. I am from another state, so I have a different area code for my cell, a number I have had since getting a phone 12 years ago.
      I recently found out that the person with my phone number, but with the state area code has been getting calls for me. Important job search related calls. This happens because when people are dialing from a landline, the area code in state isn’t dialed and so they just assume it is the state area code, even though it is written on my resume with the correct one.
      I actually ended up getting a Google Voice number with the local area code so that wouldn’t happen anymore. Its a pain.

      1. Thomas*

        I say this as someone who works in a national company makes ONLY long distance calls for work, but…that’s an embarrassing failure of reading comprehension on the employers’ part.

    9. JC*

      This has been discussed on AAM before, and I think the general consensus has been that cell phones with out-of-state area codes are so ubiquitous these days, especially in more transient cities, that it does not matter for job searching. The only places where I could possibly see it making a difference is when a) your address is also not local, or 2) you are applying to jobs in a part of the country that tends to not get a lot of out-of-towners moving in, and thus an unusual area code will stick out more.

      I personally live in Washington DC, which is a very transient place, and although I’ve now lived here for 5+ years and have no plans to leave, I have an out-of-state cell area code from the place I lived when I got my very first cell phone. I have not worried about my area code when applying for jobs and no one I have spoken with when applying has indicated that they thought I was non-local.

    10. Just Visiting*

      I’m considering changing my area code. I live in a city with a LOT of transplants (Portland, OR) and there’s some backlash, not because of provincialism, but because employers just don’t know who’s planning to settle here and who’s going to be here for two years and then go back East, having had their fun. (This apparently happens a lot, which surprises me. Who can spend thousands of dollars bouncing from coast to coast on a lark?) I know for certain that I missed out on a job because the manager didn’t believe I’m really here for good. If changing my area code makes me look more permanent, then it’s probably a good idea. Of course, all of my work experience and my college degrees come from places out East, so it’s not like I’d be trying to pass as a native Oregonian. But if such a little thing can help, and it’s cheap or free, why not? Except I already have lots of resumes out with my PA number on them…

      1. Amy*

        I’m a hiring manager in Portland, and I never pay attention to area code, only mailing address. (And if you’re from Florida, going to university, and have an expected graduation date of May 2015 and don’t explain how you’re going to make that commute work in your cover letter, I’m probably not going to call you for an interview!)

        When I moved to Portland 8 years ago, I changed my phone number immediately because that was still what you did when you moved, but now? There’s no reason. If you have a local address, I’m going to assume you are planning on living here!

    11. Celeste*

      I had posted to a letter once that I thought it helped when you were trying to job hunt long distance, and commenters wildly disagreed with me that it was dinosaur thinking. I still think it could matter to a hiring manager, but of course you have no way of knowing how the one you’re dealing with feels about it. I read some article last month on hiring, and it said to go with local candidates because they are more likely to work out, having ties to the area. Does everyone believe this? No. But some do.

    12. Anonymous Educator*

      Not considering a candidate because of her area code is definitely silly.

      At the same time, I was recently looking for a job, and I definitely switched back to my old area code for the job search, because I wanted to make sure I was being safe and covering all my bases. It’s easy when you’re not looking for a job to say stuff like “If an employer cares about that, I don’t want to work for that employer.” When you’re looking for a job, you really want to keep all potentials open.

      It may not even be a conscious act “Oh, that person is not in our area code! Trash her résum&eacute now!” They may just start with the locals first and find great candidates there and think it’s not worth looking at the others.

      I would definitely recommend getting a Google Voice with the local area code. It’s great for the job search, but honestly a Google Voice number is also just a handy thing to have in general—it gives you a lot more control over blocking and routing calls than a traditional mobile or landline number does.

      1. Tinker*

        “When you’re looking for a job, you really want to keep all potentials open.”

        No, that is not actually what I want when I am looking for a job. For me, I’ve found that it gives other people leverage to mistreat me while I am job searching, causes me to be prone to unproductive modes of thought, and distracts from my major goal of representing myself well so that I look good to people who would actually like me.

        Other people can, of course, take whatever approach they think works for them, but I deliberately don’t pursue that one.

    13. Snork Maiden*

      In Canada, it’s much less common to have a national plan, so area codes are an indicator of transience to more conservative employers, like having a car that’s plated in another province. I work in a province that has a fair amount of inter-provincial immigration so it’s not unusual to see a neighbouring province’s area code. Cell plans cost much more here than the States, so most people change their numbers in order to not get dinged for long-distance all day. Our province recently instituted 10 digit dialing for local calls and it was like the sky was falling!

      If I moved to a different province, I would get a new number. It would be a pain, but cheaper. I’m also interested in the comments on the other thread about all the options Google Voice has (recording, forwarding, blocking numbers) which would be immensely handy for a move.

      1. Felicia*

        That is definitely how it is different in Canada – I know lots of people who have moved to other cities, and a couple of people who have moved to other provinces, and they’ve all changed their number to get a local area code (sometimes you can keep the same number with a local area code, because not changing to a local area code is so uncommon). So I think in Canada, your area code is much more of an indicator of where you live. One of my friends has lived in 4 different cities whihc were in 3 different provinces in the past 5 years, and she’s gotten a new number of each move. You do that here because otherwise you’d have to pay so much long distance.

    14. Xay*

      I think it depends on where you are. Atlanta has lots of transplants and 3 area codes of its own so I don’t think that bias exists. The address on your resume might matter more, but even then having a long commute is extremely common in a nine county metro area.

      1. Steve*

        I hear they’re adding more, 470 area code coming soon. Which sucks since so many of us are used to just writing the first digit of the area code when jotting down a number or taking notes. Now you can’t put your number as (4) 555-1212, since people won’t know if it’s 404 or 470.

        This just shows how old I am, but I can actually remember a time when you only had to dial 5 digits (yes really). Your number may have been 678-1111, but if someone else with a 678 number called you, they only had to dial 81111. I’m only 50, but as a kid, people still said “my number is orange 81111” with the ORange being the 67.

        1. Windchime*

          My family’s number was Sterling 2####. The ST in Sterling stood for 78, so really 782-####. But yeah, when I was a kid, you just dialed the 5 digits. For the neighboring town, you just dialed 3-####.

        2. BettyD*

          I’ve started running into the 404 vs 470 problem at my library, and it is terribly hard to break myself of the (4) (6) (7) habit!

    15. Lori*

      I’ve lived in LA for nine years, kept my NYC area code/cell phone number the entire time, and – to my knowledge – it has never been prohibitive to getting interviews. Perhaps that’s because I clearly put my LA home address on my resume, and almost always mention my move in my cover letter, as it represents a significant move in my career. I have had a few interviewers ask me “just to clarify, you are in LA, right?” but to my knowledge, it has never once prevented anyone from calling me.

      1. flaw in your thinking*

        How would you know if the area code has ever prevented someone from calling??

    16. Mena*

      I just interviewed candidates for a position and made a hire. I saw all different area codes and didn’t give it a thought. The person I hired has a NJ area code (this is MA). I didn’t ask her why – who cares?

      1. Bea W*

        In the Boston area especially it’s common to see out of state codes, just due to all the student transplants. No one thinks twice about it.

    17. Not So NewReader*

      Where I am there are so many new prefixes, that people automatically give the area code even though we all know the area. (We only have to dial 7 digits within the area code.) It used to be you could tell where a person was from by the prefix- not any more.
      We have areas that are densely populated and large areas with very low population but it seems to me that no one cares what area code your phone has with the exception of idyll curiosity.

  7. Anon for this*

    I’m connected with the owner of a mid-size web development shop that I’d love to do business with. I’ve freelanced for them before, but it’s been a while. When the owner posted to her social media feed that she was looking for a new developer, I shared the listing with a couple of my friend, and then commented on her status update, stating that I’d done so. And I also mentioned that it was a shame that she didn’t have an opening for my specialty, because I’d enjoy working with her again.

    So then she emails me later that day and asks if I’m free to meet in a week. I say yes, we arrange a meeting, and as I’m not sure what kind of meeting, I offer to do it over the phone, at her offices, or meet at a coffee shop if she’d prefer. She says, at her offices, so that other managing partner can sit in. I then ask if she’d like me to bring anything, and she says she’d like to see some of my recent work, and that she needs to understand my capabilities.

    It sounds more and more like this is leaning toward an actual job interview, and less of an informational meeting. But I doubt there’s an actual position with a job description written up at this point. So how do I prepare for something like this?

    1. Brett*

      It’s a mid-size shop? That probably means they have the flexibility to just make a position for you on the spot. They want to figure out if your skillset adds up to value for them as an employee instead of a freelancer. This really is a “prepare for the job you want to have” situation, because your meeting might be essentially writing the job description.

    2. ClaireS*

      That’s exciting and a little nerve wracking. Can you ask outright? I know you’ve asked if you should bring anything but maybe say something like: “hey Wakeen, can you give me some details about what it is you’d like to meet about. Is there a specific project you want to discuss or is this something else?”

    3. ANB*

      I agree, this sounds like they’re looking at you to do some work for them – contract, freelance or otherwise. Although it will likely be less formal than an actual interview (I anticipate the questions will be more about the work that needs to be done and your background than BDI-type questions), I would suggest you prepare for it the same as you would for an interview. Bring copies of your resume, practice answers to questions about your background and strengths, think about what you love about working for their company, dress in business attire, etc. At the end of the meeting you may feel like your preparation was overkill, but it would never be to your detriment to be this prepared.

    4. Gene*

      Prepare like you know it’s an interview for what you do. When you go, take some of your recent work as well as what you did for them in the past (assuming it’s some of your best.)

      Best of luck with this.

    5. Chriama*

      Alison has written a post on it before, but I have terrible google-fu so I can’t find it. The general gist, if I remember correctly, was to to treat it pretty much as a normal interview. Describe your skills and what makes you valuable, get a sense of what the company is in need of, and see if there’s an intersection between the two.

    6. Clever Name*

      I would also ask outright what they’re thinking in terms of what your role would be. Are they wanting to hire you as an employee, or is it freelance work on an on-call basis, or are they just wanting help on a particular project? If you are an indirect person I realize that this type of question can seem too forward or blunt, but not knowing what they envision for you will just be confusing and awkward.

      I would say something like, “So how can I help you guys out? Is there a specific project I’d be working on, or were you thinking something more long-term?” Also, if they want you to be an employee, and you are happy freelancing and working for multiple clients, they need to know that too.

      1. AB Normal*

        [ I would say something like, “So how can I help you guys out? Is there a specific project I’d be working on, or were you thinking something more long-term?” ]

        I like this question, but only when you are there in the meeting and if the information isn’t forthcoming. Sending an email or calling to ask beforehand would not be a good idea, in my opinion. They asked you to come and talk, that’s when they’ll discuss whatever they have to discuss.

        Prepare as best as you can, having short answers ready about your recent accomplishments and how you think your skills can help them, and go from there. Good luck! Looks like your efforts so far to help them and demonstrate interest are working :-).

  8. Chocolate Addict*

    I’m having a bit of impostor syndrome with my latest promotion. I know I deserved it but am struggling with the pressure that even more is expected of me now!

    Any advice?

      1. ClaireS*

        Short, sweet and exceptional advice.

        Also, don’t beat yourself up over mistakes and errors. You will make them but you will learn from them.

    1. MaryMary*

      My manager for my first “real” job out of college told me that it takes 6-12 months to really feel proficient in a new job. So give yourself time. Of course things will come a little less easily for you in a new job full of new responsibilities, than in your old job where you were the expert. You’ll become an expert at this new job too, just not right away.

      1. Hermione*

        This x1000.

        And keep in mind that the day will come when you finally feel like you know all the ins and outs of your position, and it feels GOOD.

    2. A Jane*

      I went through the same thing this week. I was handed a stretch project to manage and I had a LOT of uncertainty in my ability to handle it.

      I tried to identify where I had uncertainty — if it was something I could take action on, I made a plan to move forward and acted on it. If it was something I had no idea about, I pushed down the “oh gosh ,what will they think of me?” feelings and asked without shame. Putting things into certainty & action helped reduced my impostor stress.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      They think you can do it, or they would not have promoted you.

      Annnnddd they fully expect that you will have to grow into your job.

  9. Renegade Rose*

    Today is my one week anniversary at my new job and I love it! Flexible hours, great coworkers (so far), open communication, working for a mission I am very passionate about, my own office with windows, and I tripled my salary…. this is wonderful. The best part is that new office is a dog friendly workplace and my sweet, older dog is hanging out my office today. We had an obedience test this morning to ensure that he is well trained and I have control; I presented his vaccination records and now we are good to go! I am so thrilled to be out of my former toxic workplace and on to better things. :)

    1. voluptuousfire*

      Yay! I’m also glad your new employers are smart enough to do an obedience test and ask for vaccination certificates before allowing dogs in the workplace. Dog friendly workplaces are wonderful but as a dog lover but non-owner, I’d be glad to know such precautions are in place. I <3 employers that have their stuff together.

    2. LAI*

      Yay! I’m in a very similar position minus the tripled salary. It’s amazing how important windows are, isn’t it??

      The worst part of being in a dog friendly office is that I can’t bring my own! He’s not a sweet, older dog — he’s a sweet, hyper, crazy dog who would never let me spend more than 15 minutes not paying attention to him.

      1. Dan*

        Mine’s a couch potato, I wouldn’t have a problem. The only issue would be the obedience test, cause all he knows how to do is “lay down” and you don’t even have to tell him.

        My real serious issue is that he gets car sick at the drop of a hat, so I’d have to dope him up for the ride over and the ride back. Since he does Not Take His Pills Without A Fuss, it’s really not worth the hassle on my part.

    3. Mephyle*

      How nice to have him with you! In effect, your dog had to do a job interview. What obedience did he have to demonstrate?

      1. Renegade Rose*

        HaHa, I didn’t think of it that way! We had to demonstrate that he would listen to me even when tempted by food or other interesting things. He showed that he knows sit, stay, and is not aggressive. It was a fairly basic test and Leon performed admirably. :)

      1. Windchime*

        I would love being able to have my cat at work, but he would probably spend all of his time hiding under the desk and making people sneeze!

  10. Fed Job Question*

    I am trying to apply to another position similar to the one I have now (same agency, different location). It is a federal position. I am using the USAJobs website to build my resume and apply. The directions said my resume has to essentially match my occupational questionnaire answers. I was thinking of taking the questions and aligning them into the resume to show how they fit. Can I do that? For example, the questionnaire might say “develop xyz program” and if I did that, I was going to put in “developed “XYZ” program,” just being slightly more specific as to what the program is. In other instances, I can’t be as specific, but I can just say, “Assisted customers with their questions/problems” which would look very similar to the questionnaire. I feel like it’s plagiarism – which makes me cringe at the thought – but I want to be very specific on how it matches between resume and questionnaire.


    1. Ash (the other one!)*

      That’s exactly what you have to do — keywords are key. Remember, a computer reads it first before it gets to the HR people.

    2. Reader*

      Never have applied to a federal job so can’t tell you if your approach works or not but from everything I’ve read do do want to do something along this line. If they want XYZ you need to be as specific as possible about having XYZ.
      But regarding the idea of plagiarism – you’re not plagiarizing when you use their words in your answer. You are in effect answering their questions. Do you have experience in ABC? Yes I have experience in ABC.

    3. Dan*

      I did successfully make it to the hiring manager phone screen on two different fed jobs. I consider that a complete success given the labyrinth of bureaucracy that is the federal government jobs hiring process.

      And yes, Ash is right. Say there’s a multiple choice question on the KSA that reads, “Evaluate your experience with XYZ program, and that experience must be substantiated on your resume”. Your resume *better* have a section that says, “Experience With XYZ Program” and you should write a paragraph detailing that experience.

      If I may ask, since you already have a fed job, aren’t you familiar with the process and what a fed resume really entails?

      1. Fed Job Question*

        This is my first fed job and I applied to where I was volunteering, which helped a lot. Now I’m looking for work elsewhere for when my term here ends. I’ve been referred on a couple of applications thus far, but I have not been receiving interviewing phone calls. I do not know if the hiring manager has gotten that far yet in his/her timeline, but if they have and I haven’t heard, I want to improve with each application.

    4. Kirsten*

      Not sure if a link will send this comment into moderation, but this might help you. I’m not sure if the process is the same for the VA system as for other federal jobs (assuming you’re not applying within the VA), but in my own experience with the VA, just trying to put key words/phrases into my resume didn’t get my application past HR to the interview stage, even when I was highly qualified for the job (e.g. had been covering the position duties until it was officially filled). Once I started writing basically short answers for each item, that seemed to do the trick. It made me feel kind of dumb to submit that with my resume, but it seems as though that’s what they want. I’d double check with HR if you can, but that’s my experience.

    5. The IT Manager*

      Totally not plagerism and exactly what you must do on USAjobs. This seems to be a fairly good way to tailor your resume for non govt jobs too.

    6. periwinkle*

      If the ATS is scanning your resume for specific phrases, use those specific phrases! I was hired not that long ago at a company with a notorious ATS (hint: we make big tubes that fly); I made it through the initial computer screen because I revised my resume to use the exact phrases for skills and competencies that were in the posting. Their system is so picky that if the posting calls for “project management”, it won’t recognize “managed projects” or “project manager” as equivalents.

      It’s not plagarism unless you copied big swaths of the posting and claimed them as your skills and accomplishments!

  11. Brett*

    My boss finally announced yesterday that he is retiring in two weeks (we knew for four days before that, but he wasn’t telling us). And then he took vacation until his last day, which is the day he will be interviewing internal candidates for his replacement. So much for training his replacement. His predecessor took 8 months to train him before retiring (and that still was not enough). This is the same boss that kept loaning me out to other departments for awful assignments, give me stellar reviews but would not push for a raise, and generally led from behind for years. To say the rest of our office is relived he finally found another job is an understatement.

    -And- our sitting county exec lost in the primary. So that means we have a new executive leader in November. Unfortunately, all of the remaining candidates have promised big budget cuts and a property tax cut. Since we already do not get raises, that means layoffs.

    Our department head retired in January. Our division head retired soon after that. And the manager of the other unit I report to just transferred out to a different department. And that’s my entire chain of command. Every single person above me in the organization on January 1 will be gone by the end of the year.

    1. Ann O'Nemity*

      My first thought was, “That’s terrifying!” Followed quickly by the second thought, “You know, that leaves a lot of opportunities for you to advance or redefine yourself.”

      1. Brett*

        No real opportunities to advance unfortunately. All the open positions, including my boss’ are pay cuts or terminal lateral moves with the same pay but more travel and responsibilities.

        This might be a good time to get out though. New people might be happy to let me go without enforcing our existing ethics ordinances so they can hire someone else. I think my big concern is that after the coming promotions leave open positions at the bottom, those positions will be eliminated and our work load will increase. Right now, I am covering my position, plus an open social media manager, IT specialist, and planning specialist that were all cut as open positions, which has dramatically increased my work week. We will be under a hiring freeze starting in October until the new executive is elected because of the change at the top.

    2. MT*

      This just shows you that government jobs are not immune to the issues that private businesses face. Turnover and loss of revenue are a pain.

  12. Livin' in a Box (formerly CanadianWriter)*

    Four of my coworkers at the resort told me that I’m their favourite coworker! My head has now grown to an enormous size. I was looking for a new job but have been persuaded to stay for another season.

    1. Carrie in Scotland*

      That’s so great! Everyone is always fairly quick to complain but just stay silent on good/positive service. I think you deserve the enormous head size :)

  13. Anon Regular*

    Last week (or the week before?) I posted about my struggles with work anxiety. I have a good update!

    Yesterday, I had a review with my boss, and as Katie the Fed suggested, I was pretty upfront with her about my anxiety issues. She responded pretty much exactly as Katie described her own reactions to an employee with anxiety: She thanked me, told me that it helped her understand some of the stuff that’s happened, and asked me to tell her when I was feeling anxious or getting stuck. It was a pretty hard call (because I had to hear that she had indeed noticed, and that my anxiety had caused actual problems – ugh) but overall really productive. So thank you for encouraging me to be open with her!

    1. Trixie*

      I’m sure it wasn’t easy so this is especially great to hear. Sometimes a difficult situation becomes so much more approachable when discussing it head-on. So much better than stressing about it and adding to any anxieties. Good for you :)

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Yeah, this is a circular thing and you have to break into the circle some where in order to make it stop happening. Dragging the problem out into the light of day is your best bet. You did very well.

      My issue isn’t so much anxiety but I get stuck. Something that should probably be 15 minutes goes 2 hours. My boss gave me great advice. She said “Work on it yourself for 15 minutes. If you have not figured it out by the time the 15 minutes is up start looking at what outside resource you can use to help with the problem.”

      It took me a bit to get used to using her idea. My number one enemy was that I simply forgot her advice. My second enemy was I kept coming up with excuses not to follow her advice. My classic excuse was “I think I did something wrong here and messed it up. Therefore, I must figure out what I did wrong.” I blamed me, instead of asking someone to help. Now I call someone and tell them “I did something wrong here, I think.” [The nature of our work is such that most people laugh when I say that.]

      However, push yourself along to work with her advice. I promise you half your battle is behind you now, simply because you confronted it.

  14. Ali*

    But now for the negative…

    Has anyone else ever found it difficult to deal with turnover in your job? About 3-4 people have left my immediate team within the last eight months. Two were let go (well, one definitely was; we’re not sure about the other, but we think he was fired based on the language used) and two left on their own terms. The first resignation was my ex-boss due to a medical problem he was having, and the second came just last week from someone who got an awesome job offer pretty much out of the blue. He was in contact with Awesome Popular Company (seriously, it’s a name brand and if I said it, you’d know it) before he took our offer, but I guess they didn’t have anything at the time. He liked working for us but Popular Company contacted him during his vacation with an offer and he accepted. In fact, the start date was coming so soon he didn’t even give two weeks notice. Another coworker who I work closely with but is in another department has also resigned to go to grad school, as he just had too much desire for school to keep working with us.

    I took these last two resignations hard. Maybe it’s just because I’m job searching and I envy my coworkers who are moving on to bigger and better things while I’m stuck behind. Of course, my team is pretty close and is a fairly social group. I have seen my coworkers for meals together and will be going to a picnic with them next week. We have almost a family-like atmosphere, so part of me just feels sad that the people I know are going away and others are replacing them.

    The coworker who got in with Popular Company wasn’t even with us for six months. I’ve also compared myself to him and it makes me envious that he’s so desirable that he couldn’t even give two weeks notice and that he could get in with this company to begin with. I hope to have a second part-time job go full-time within 6-8 months, but who knows? I just feel down knowing how lucky he is to be getting out, and after such a short time no less. I also see other people in my company moving up and getting accolades, and it makes me sad that I was told I may not ever be promoted. I get strong reviews, but there just might not be room. Even people with less experience are moving up quicker…

    I’m going back out of town for a week and will be working only part shifts while I’m gone (I have a virtual job). I tried to get interviews in the city where I’m going since I’d like to live there, but no employers contacted me.

    1. Elizabeth West*

      It sounds like a transition-type place, where people come and go. Some jobs are like that.

      I understand this, because while I haven’t lost any coworkers, I see the same progression in the careers of writers I know and sometimes it frustrates me to no end. One author I know has several books out, one book coming out in the UK, is at LonCon 3 right now (grr, so jelly I could cry), and is just enough steps ahead of me that I can see the path, and I feel like I’ll never get through the gate and onto it. He’s a fantastic writer and a great guy and I adore him, but I can’t help being really jealous, especially of the whole UK thing. He’s living my dream, basically, right under my nose.

      Here’s the deal though–we write TOTALLY DIFFERENT STUFF (though both his and some of my work has speculative elements) and it’s pointless to compare myself to him. All I can do is concentrate on my own work and get it as good as I possibly can, because that is how I’ll progress, not by sitting here wishing I was in his place. If I do that, then maybe I’ll get there (and he is the kind of person who would bend over backward to give me advice if I asked him for any). So I AM making progress, in a way–I’m building a network with these people whom I really like and respect.

      That’s what you can do–if you want to follow that path, then start preparing to do so. It’s fine to take some pity time for yourself–feelings are what they are. Put a limit on it, and then chuck it for the day. Say, “I’m going to wallow in this misery for fifteen minutes, and then I’m going to get busy.” Then put that energy into writing a bang-up cover letter, or whatever.

      And enjoy the picnic and the time with your coworkers. It’s fine to ask departing coworkers if you can keep in touch via LinkedIn or whatever–and if they know you’re job searching, maybe they can throw some information your way. Good luck on your job search. :)

    2. Dan*

      If it makes you feel better, there is no household-name company that would go by Awesome Popular Company. (Popular, yes.) But Awesome? Well every company has its issues. Every One. You just don’t know them until you work there.

      Even my company. By any right, it’s an awesome one to work for. But you pretty much won’t get a promotion until you’ve been here for *four* years. To me, that’s an eternity.

      1. Dan*

        Let me rephrase slightly: You won’t get a promotion until you’ve been here for *at least* four years. I.e., don’t expect it before then, and even then, you’re just starting to take your place in line.

        1. Ali*

          Oh man that’s awful. At my company, I was promoted after two years. But I’ve been there for four now and was told that there might not be anywhere else for me to move to. That was hard to swallow and part of why I searched…

    3. Ann O'Nemity*

      I came here to post something similar. No advice, just lots of empathy. There’s been a lot of turnover in my department as well. In fact, something like 2/3 of the people who’ve been in my dept have left in the past 2 years. And this is not normal for the work we’re doing. It’s been a combo of quitting, position eliminations, and firings. The last one hit me the hardest – one of my closest co-workers quit with no job lined up because she just couldn’t take it anymore. I’m sad to see most of these folks go, and I’m worried about the overall health of the department.

      1. Ali*

        I’m not sure how normal this kind of turnover is for our field. Out of the people that left, only one clearly left to take a better opportunity. However, I do work in the media/journalism (for a web property, though, not a paper) where burnout can be pretty common after a few years. I read a forum for journalists sometimes and a lot of them have talked about how they’ve successfully changed careers, even just into PR, or how they’ve wanted to get out and do something altogether.

        For those unfamiliar with media/journalism, the pay isn’t that great and opportunities can be competitive, plus don’t even get me started on the hours. I have worked every Thanksgiving and Christmas the last few years and am tired of it. I’m hoping that my second job brings me full-time…partly because their office isn’t open weekends and holidays! Fingers crossed.

        1. YouWillNeverWorkInThisTownAgain*

          I don’t have any advice, but just want to say I understand where you’re coming from and respect you for sticking it out as long as you have. I was a journalism major in college and wanted to work for a magazine when I graduated…until I looked into the pay, the hours, etc. and decided it wasn’t for me. I went into PR/marketing instead and it’s worked out well. I do freelance writing on the side, and it’s definitely been a great creative outlet for me.

    4. Lily in NYC*

      My 60-person division has lost 18 people since March! It’s been brutal. You’d think the president’s office would realize it’s because of our new division head, but they seem to be blissfully ignoring the issue. Thankfully, a superstar just resigned and talked to the president about how awful our boss is, so I’m hoping that he might have actually listened to her concerns.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      The places I have worked at seemed to have periods of people leaving then a dry spell where everyone stayed put. A while later, we’d go back into the flood of people leaving. It would cycle like that.

      I think sometimes a person leaves and that triggers other people to think about leaving. It could be because of the grapevine gossip or it could be coincidence.

      I am hoping the cycling is what is happening to your company here. You will get in a new bunch and they will stay put for a while. I have found that the longer I stayed at a company the more of this type of stuff that I see.

      Changes can be tough no matter what those changes are.

  15. Rebecca Too*

    I had an interview today, for an internal role in my organisation, that would be a promotion. While it didn’t go terribly, it didn’t go great. The interview was very short and while I answered the questions, I never really felt like they probed or asked follow ups. I got almost a vibe like they were going through the motions, Plus they did internally advertise the role with a slightly different title, but at a higher grade two days ago. So, all in all, I don’t think I should get my hopes up.

    But alas I’m a natural hopes-getter-up-er, and already had to some degree. so I’m feeling very disappointed. Does any one have any tips on how to mentally brush myself off and move on? And to make sure I don’t come across as disaappointed while at work?

    1. Befuddled Squirrel*

      Just remember there are other opportunities out there, and some are better than the job you applied for. Sometimes things don’t happen for a reason. A lot of jobs aren’t as good as they sound (or seem from another part of the org). Maybe they knew you wouldn’t be happy in that role and were sparing you. If you’re looking for a change, focus on all the good things out there – future job possibilities, professional development opportunities, educational opportunities, etc.

    2. Brett*

      Not sure it is the best way to do things, but our internal interviews are always pretty brief and shallow compared to external interviews. People often have their opinions formed going into an internal interview and don’t feel as much need to probe into answers, even for a candidate they intend to hire.
      Not saying you will get the job, but it’s not over either.

    3. Jennifer*

      You have my sympathies–been there, done that. Just tell yourself you’ve already lost the job. Repeat to yourself every time your hopes start jumping. And while you’re at work, smile, smile, smile. I am the queen of faking a Stepford Smile at work these days, probably even if someone punched me in the face.

      It helped that someone else told me what was going on before they eventually rejected me for the job, so I had four days to be able to put on a public face about it. I was perfectly calm because I wasn’t hearing it for the first time–I probably would have been a total wreck and embarrassed us all had I been totally surprised and not known until the rejection hit officially.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      If you have the vibe that they are going through the motions, pay attention. That is shame ON THEM, not shame on you. You did nothing wrong. If they interviewed you for a job that they had already picked someone for they are the ones being fake.

      I would use it as an eye-opener to make sure I had a real assessment of what my company was like.

      Perhaps you can find someone to confide in that will give you the real story. I have worked for places where I found that person who would say what was actually going on. I could learn if someone had already been chosen for the slot or if they were genuinely looking for a person.

    5. Rebecca Too*

      Thanks everyone for the advice and comfort. I spend the weekend trying to clamp down on the disappointment, so I’ll be not visably upset it I don’t get it.

      Unfortunately there’s no one I can ask about it. The position is a new one, which would be supervising the one I’m in now, and reporting to my manager, but due to a quirk in my organisation, she’s not been involved in hiring to my knowledge (we’re in different locations). So, no one to ask. But, it is what it is. Organisation generally fine but think it might be time to start looking to make a change.

  16. krm*

    I am a long time reader, but haven’t commented much in the past. I was unexpectedly laid off early in July during company wide reductions in staff. I revised my resume, and ended up recieving an interview for each position I applied for! I ended up having multiple offers to choose from, and have just finished my first week in the new position. It is unlike anything I have ever done before- I am now a part of the administration of a county-run skilled nursing facililty. The advice from AAM was instrumental in improving my resume, cover letters and interview skills! My new job pays about 25% more than the old one did, and has fantastic benefits – 8% gross salary match for retirement, fully paid health/dental/vision, flexible scheduling, paid gym membership (to the facility of my choice), free lunch, and generous PTO. Even though I didn’t ask for any job searching advice directly, everything in the archives was very helpful, and I wanted to thank you all!

  17. Referring Friends*

    I work at a medium sized company where about half of all new hires are referrals from employees. Those employees receive generous referral bonuses.

    After working there for a year, I’ve decided to jump on the bandwagon and start recruiting friends. I know lots of people for whom working there would be a big step up.

    I now have two friends applying for jobs where I work and I’m worrying about how to make the best impression on their behalf. Preferred processes vary a lot between departments and hiring managers, and I have a good sense of that. I’m just stressing over small details, like if I email a hiring manager to let her know my friend is interested in working for her, should I include a link to the friend’s LinkedIn profile? Or attach the friend’s resume? Or ask the hiring manager if she’s like to look at a resume / LI profile first or if the friend should just apply?

    I know I’m over-thinking this. Just confused since this is my first time acting as a recruiter!

    1. Barbara in Swampeast*

      It’s great that you have referred your friends, but I would be wary of promoting them too much. I know you would like to get the bonus, but if something goes wrong and they do not work out, you don’t want to be too closely associated with them. Just follow the normal referral procedure.

      1. Referring Friends*

        Yeah, that’s one of the things I’m stressing over. These aren’t people I’m especially close with. It seems like a win-win for me to encourage people to apply and then do what I can to put in a good word for them, but I don’t want to take it too far, considering all the unknowns involved. Honesty and my reputation are definitely more important to me than bonuses (although I know the more people I refer, the more likely it is that I’ll eventually get a bonus).

        1. Chriama*

          That’s actually not true if you get a reputation for bad referrals — if they can’t trust your judgement they’ll start throwing out your recommendations before they even read the resumes.

    2. Enhance Your Calm, John Spartan*

      Perhaps send an email to the hiring manager, asking what she’d prefer? Then you can tailor them exactly. :-)

    3. Janis*

      We have a very specific path for employee referrals and I can’t imagine that your company, if they give generous referral bonuses, doesn’t also have one. I’d start with your HR rep. Sending a resume to a colleague would not work here. Your friend would have to apply through the company web site and specifically mention your name in the submission process. I have referred people I haven’t known well — a former coworker’s recent college grad son, a former coworker’s girlfriend — so I doubt it’s necessary to be able to vouch for them personally. That’s what background checks are for.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      I’d start by asking my friend. Your friends may or may not want you to do this. Or they may prefer to put your name in the cover letter and let the rest go.

      Start with the friends first.

  18. YouWillNeverWorkInThisTownAgain*

    Asking this for a close friend…

    My friend has been working in her current job for several years (5+ years) with a close-knit group of colleagues (approximately 10 women between the ages of 25-35). She has become friends with several of her co-workers over the years and they used to hang out regularly. Everyone she works with is around the same age/stage of life (newlyweds/new parents).

    Two years ago, another woman joined their team (Gilly). Coincidently, I used to work with Gilly at a different company. Gilly and I got along fine and worked on several projects together but we never became friends. Gilly (as well as some of the other women on the team) had a prejudice against unmarried young women, for whatever reason, and also really enjoyed gossiping about other coworkers not in the clique. I was single at the time and Gilly and her crew didn’t always treat me very well.

    Anyway, since Gilly has joined my friend’s team, she has created some division. There were no cliques in their workplace and now it’s apparent that there is Group A and Group B. One example: Several of the women had children around the same time last year, so there are many 1st birthday parties this summer. Many of the coworkers invited everyone (and their children, of course) to their child’s party as a courtesy, so that no one would get their feelings hurt. Gilly chose to invite a couple of coworkers (which is fine and within her rights) but then talked about her son’s birthday party at length and made it known that she didn’t invite everyone from the office. Gilly is also pretty competitive and, as I said earlier, really likes to gossip, so that’s not helping the situation either.

    If the group hadn’t been so close knit before Gilly’s arrival, my friend wouldn’t be as upset as she is. It’s pretty obvious that Gilly is causing the divide in the group and she’s just not sure how to handle it. Has any one else experienced this?

    1. KTM*

      Yep, I hear you. We have a small (<20 person) office and had an employee like this for about a year. It was always these small little things that she did that were hard to report to HR since there was no 'big incident' but she created this stressful, cliquey, uncomfortable environment. Everyone seemed aware of it but no one really did anything about it. I sucked it up for the time she was here since it was a temporary placement with an end date (sorry that doesn't help your friend) however if it would have been permanent, I would have discussed this delicately with HR under a 'toxic workplace' type discussion.

      Coming up with specific examples might be hard with out sounding petty (I was also very worried I would come off as catty if I brought it up since we were similar ages and both young females) but if your friend can at least express to HR or a boss about the general feel of the workplace (maybe specifically the gossip issue could be addressed) it might help, depending on her rapport with that person. Good luck to your friend – that's tough.

    2. louise*

      A pot-stirrer. I’m sorry for your friend! No advice, just commiseration that I’ve worked with pot-stirrers before and since it’s usually happening related to personal stuff, not work performance, there doesn’t seem to be anything to do about it.

      1. YouWillNeverWorkInThisTownAgain*

        I just have to say that I loved that you used the word “pot-stirrer” in your response. It describes this situation so perfectly!

    3. Colette*

      I think the only thing your friend can do is shut it down – not go to anything Gilly organizes unless she invites everyone, refusing to engage in gossip, etc.

      1. YouWillNeverWorkInThisTownAgain*

        That’s solid advice. I know my friend has tried to be polite to Gilly (because, after all, they do work together) but she has tried to distance herself since she noticed that this is going on.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          hee-hee… she can also say things like “We all work together and get along here”. In other words, tell Gilly about the culture of the place, or at least how the place was until she came along.

          Yeah, I have had bosses take an interest if one person seems to be dividing the workplace. Your friend can frame it causing a “lack of cohesion” that used to be in place before this person came on board. Your friend will have to gauge how receptive her boss might be to this type of conversation. She can talk about increased stress and increased gossiping that seems to be detracting from the work.

          Once a former boss was reviewing applications. He came across a certain person’s app and I said “If you want to double the stress and triple the gossip, hire her.” The app went into the circular file.

    4. Rana*

      It seems to me that the problem is that your friend and her coworkers are confusing work relationships with personal relationships (because, before Gilly showed up, they were identical, overlapping sets). Gilly’s shit-stirring, yes, but it’s also completely reasonable for her to only invite some of her co-workers’ children (or none at all), and out of the norm for people to have their social cohort and their work cohort be essentially the same group of people. That’s the sort of thing that’s common in college and a few isolated work environments (because everyone lives and works together, 24-7) but it’s rare outside of those settings.

      It feels like a Gilly problem because it started when she showed up, and she’s not making it easy for people to ignore her, but, really, this sort of social arrangement is inherently fragile and temporary. People leave their jobs, new people – who may not be parents, nor newlyweds, nor young – get hired, and so on. And each new person who wasn’t part of the social set who joins the workplace is a potential point of disruption… and that is normal. That’s why we usually treat our friends and our co-workers (or “work friends”) as different things.

      So I think the solution is for your friend – and her coworkers – to accept that they now have a new coworker who is not necessarily going to be a friend and that maybe they should be learning how to separate work relationships from more personal friendships, rather than being surprised that such divisions are normal in most workplaces.

  19. MT*

    This topic was kinda touched on earlier in the week during one of the letters. Is it fair to put someone on a PIP, that is either unrealistic for the employee to meet the requirements or the timeline? Where the PIP is just documentation until you can fire that person. If that is the case, wouldn’t it just be easier to just fire the employee?

      1. MJ*

        It also gives the employee time to resign if that is her preference. That choice can be surprisingly empowering, where just being fired can leave someone wallowing in victimhood which affects getting on with the job hunt.

    1. ClaireS*

      The PIP should reflect the needs of the role, not the needs of the person. If the person cannot meet the needs of the role, they won’t be successful through the PIP.

      At this point, you may just fire them but fposte makes an excellent point.

      1. OriginalYup*

        Ditto. Also, some company policies require a PIP as a formal step before someone can be fired for performance reasons. (Meaning that you could fire someone outright for theft, but a PIP is required if someone isn’t meeting deadlines, etc.)

    2. Tinker*

      If it’s the case where “Bob is not doing his job, we put Bob on a PIP that he needs to do his job or be fired, based on prior experience we don’t really expect that Bob in particular can or will do this so we will be shocked and amazed if Bob does not end up being fired”, it strikes me as entirely fair — one might predict that failure is likely, but at least the guy got a fair chance to prove it.

      If we’re talking about assigning a person tasks that really can’t be done in general — IIRC the statement being referred to sounded a bit marginal to me in that it was something like “Put her on a PIP to do a bunch of tasks, don’t help her do them, then when she fails to do them fire her” — it wasn’t clear whether the idea was to prove the inevitable or outright sabotage the person, and I think the latter is scummy and cruel (particularly if the sabotage isn’t extremely obvious). It’s fair that there’s a poor fit, or a working relationship that is just not turning around — but setting someone up to fail rather than addressing such things honestly is just not right.

      1. Gene*

        That was my comment. And in that case it was to prove the inevitable (great turn of phrase), mainly because the person was a friend of the boss. That raises the bar for firing someone, and you need to show that you’ve done what you could, short of doing their job for them (and that’s what it sounded like was going on in the original question).

        “Your PIP is to show you can do your job within 30 days” is perfectly reasonable. “Your PIP is to invent commercially viable cold fusion by Wednesday” isn’t.

        1. Tinker*

          Yeah, I didn’t quite phrase that correctly, amusingly enough — I got the impression that “prove the inevitable” was the intent, but it was worded in a way that struck me as being inadvertently ambiguous with “sabotage”. Which does seem to happen, and I gather that folks in highly bureaucratic places are at times tempted towards this, but usually I’d expect it as the subject of a letter rather than from a participant.

      2. BRR*

        I had the exact same thoughts. If the person is not doing the job well and you’ve outlined what the expectations are then it’s fair. If the expectations cannot be met by anybody then it’s not fair. You should only give a PIP to outline what the expectations of a position are and that if they’re not met they’ll be let go. Giving a PIP as a formality when the person is going to be fired no matter what is cruel.

    3. Artemesia*

      The PIP may be an internal requirement for firing for performance (as opposed to firing for some egregious at like theft). In this case, it gives the person time to move on without being fired and is a kindness to allow this transition.

    4. ANB*

      Thre is a big difference between a PIP that is unrealistic for the employee and one that is unrealistic for the job. If you’re holding the employee to the same expectations everyone else in that role has, then that’s not unreasonable. If; however, you’re giving them additional expectations or making them committ to an impossible timeline just to prove their ineptness, then that’s not fair to the employee. This assumes the employee has the capability to meet the requirements for the job. If you feel they’re not skilled enough for the job and will never be able to meet expectations, you could look at terminating their employment, but then you’d be looking at a without cause termination with no formal PIP in place.

    5. Lily in NYC*

      In my office, it’s pretty much over for you once you’ve been put on a PIP. I can’t think of one person who wasn’t fired after it expired.

      1. MT*

        I have never had anyone recover from a PIP either. I have had employees who I have fired after a PIP, tell me that they had no chance of recovering from it, and I should have been upfront with the unlikelihood that they had a chance of keeping their job.

      2. On Your Permanent Record*

        My (thank goodness) former employer put people on PIPs as a matter of policy and were shocked when a co-worker went to an employment attorney about hers. “It’s just a management tool,” they said. “It doesn’t mean we plan to fire you!”

        And then didn’t – and it turns out that have put almost everyone in the office on a PIP at one point or another.

        It is not a US company, so I wonder if this is standard in Australia, where the HQ is.

    6. MaryMary*

      In my opinion, it is unfair and disingenuous to put someone on an unachievable PIP, just like it would be unfair to set goals of performance measures of any kind that weren’t really possible. If the individual on the PIP can’t meet the basic requirements of the role, that’s one thing, but it’s another to set them up to fail so you can fire them. I have seen people put on a PIP who have improved and stayed with the company for years. I’ve also seen people temporarily improve, and end up on another PIP. If you really want someone out, I’d say just fire them, or go with a verbal warning/written warning/termination program (aka three strikes you’re out).

      A lot of organizations use a PIP to give themselves a little protection or at least documentation in case of a wrongful termination suit. If you create a PIP that is not realistic, you’re opening up the company to additional risk.

    7. HAnon*

      I’m not sure if this is the case in all states, but in GA, if you are fired without prior warning, you can collect unemployment. The company that fired me (without warning or explanation) did not want to pay unemployment, and they contested it. The state worker assigned to my case found that since there was not a paper trail of being written up I was eligible. I have a feeling if they’d made me sign something before and put me on a PIP, I may not have been able to get unemployment benefits. I think it’s a CYA thing for the company…but I’m not an HR expert, that’s just my one experience.

    8. Not So NewReader*

      Are the requirements not doable for that particular person or no doable by any human being?

      Have you see the company do this before, or is this a one-off?

      Is this target person at fault or does the company just not train people then fire them because they screw up?

      It seems to me that Alison has something to say on this type of thing in general- and it’s NOT good. It could be that something is running in the background that no one knows about and that is why this is happening.

  20. Trixie*

    If your job includes health coverage and/or retirement benefits (401k matching or other), how soon did they kick in after you started? I’m assuming insurance somewhere between immediately and 30 days, but wondering what the range is on retirement benefits.

    1. Persephone Mulberry*

      Our medical/dental and ST disability kicks in on the first of the month following 30 days of employment; retirement first of the month following 6 months; PTO begins accruing immediately and can be taken after 6 months.

    2. Lalalala*

      At my current job everything starts immediately. At my last job, health insurance didn’t kick in until after the first of the month following the month where you had worked your first 90 days. It was OK for me since I was still young enough to be on my parents’ insurance (thanks, Obama!) but what a cheap way to save a few bucks. Typical for that place though.

      1. De Minimis*

        It’s immediate now, but I know they used to make you wait six months before you could get involved in the 401k-type system. Guess they realized that if they want more people to contribute to it they better make it easier.

        Health benefits have always been immediate.

        We got a scare with my wife’s old job once, we had relied on COBRA for benefits after I lost my job but I quit paying once she started work. She told me her first day that she heard benefits didn’t kick in right away which really upset me, but it turned out she was mistaken.

        Good lesson though, if you’re doing anything like that make really sure of when a new job’s benefits kick in before you quit paying the premiums.

    3. JamieG*

      I’m hourly, and my retirement benefits kicked in after 1000 hours of work. For me that was about 8 months, but it varies depending on scheduling.

    4. HR_Anon*

      Current company: Insurance benefits start on day 1, 401k after 30 days
      Prior companies have either started insurance after 30 days or on the 1st of the month following hire date. For 401k, I’ve seen everything from 30 day to 6 month waiting periods.

    5. Ash (the other one!)*

      New job:
      Health (with dental and eye) starts on day 1 as do STD and LTD
      Retirement — eligible for 403b (no match) day 1. 10% vested in pension after 1 year of service.


    6. Brett*

      Our pension vests at 5 years. The employer owns all contributions in our pension plan, so if you leave before 5 years you get nothing. Your pension is also 1.5% per year worked, with a cap of 40 years, so in reality you have to work 40 years to get a max pension of 60% of highest three years average income.

      I think the vesting on the 457(b) plan is 10 years? If you leave before that, you lose all employer contributions and any earnings on it. Our employer contribution has been set at 0% since I have worked here though, so I am not really sure on that one.

    7. BRR*

      Health insurance 1st of the month starting the month following your start date.
      Company retirement contributions start immediately but you aren’t vested until 2.5 years from your starting date.

    8. Natalie*

      All of ours kicked in within a month of hire. Most of them kicked in immediately, with health/dental/vision starting on the 1st of the following month.

      Waiting 3 months to get health insurance is something I don’t miss about unskilled labor, along with drug tests and irregular schedules.

    9. Dan*

      Health insurance is Day 1. 401k is a one-year waiting period, but fully vested. They match 10%.

      A competing offer had a 3% 401k match that I believe started DOH, but progressively vested over 5 years.

      1. Ali*

        I could sign up for insurance after three months at my current company but it didn’t kick in until the start of the next new year.

    10. Lynne*

      Everything immediately (including fully vested in 401k match from day 1). Pension plan kicks in at 5 years.

      1. De Minimis*

        I think our 401k-thing vested at 3 years.

        I can’t remember on the pension…I know in theory you don’t have to put in too many years, but you won’t really get very much per month unless you have a good 25 years of service at least. Think you get a slightly higher percentage of your high-3 average if you work until age 62, but it’s still nowhere near what Brett describes. Most people will be doing well to hit 30%, unless they started very early and stayed the entire time.

    11. Kate*

      Mine kicked in the first of the month after I started, including my 403(b). Asking around my network, having that for the 403(b) seems fairly unusual in nonprofit – most of them had to work for a year first.

    12. Bea W*

      Health was immediate. I don’t recall when the 401k kicked in. I think that was also immediate at this company. The longest i’ve had to wait for 401k is 6 months. Health has always been day of hire. That’s common in my industry (assuming you can find a regular job)

    13. AcademicAnon*

      Health insurance either 1 month after start or 1 month after a “qualifying life event”
      Retirement is weird as there are several plans, faculty contribute to a 403b, while staff get a pension. However since it’s a self-funded pension plan by the university that doesn’t have employees contribute, it requires being vested, which takes 5 years.

    14. Windchime*

      My health benefits didn’t start till I had worked 90 days. And get this–I work for a medical facility. Fortunately, part of my negotiation when I started was that they had to reimburse me for 3 months of COBRA payments.

  21. Lunaire*

    Hello AAM people, me again.

    First: Thank you for your great comments last time. I have worked up the courage to talk to my manager about my gross coworker. My manager and I had a long talk about it, and after that my manager had a long talk with my coworker as well. It got better for a while, since my coworker blissfully shut up for about a week and a half before returning to the same patterns. My higher dose of meds finally kicked in, I meet my therapist regularly and I have not thought of suicide since I got out of the hospital.

    Now to what prompts me to comment again.

    My gross coworker has been on vacation for the last two weeks, which was immense relief for me. Unfortunately he comes back Monday and since he is absolutely not cured from his blabbermouth behaviour, he will attempt to come to my cubicle to try and tell me *all* about his vacation. To say I am dreading his return is an understatement. I do not miss him in any way and I have less than zero interest in his trip or his vacation, but I need a polite but firm way to tell him that I don’t want to listen to his tales without exploding or getting stuck pretending to listen while internally seething.

    Thanks in advance.

      1. snapple*

        I think the world is about to end because I actually disagree with fposte’s suggestion. I think this sounds incredibly rude.
        ” I can’t talk right now because I need to focus on my work.”

          1. Lunaire*

            I understand fposte’s rudeness perfectly, because my coworker has kept me from working before and he’s the type to flat out ignore repeated polite requests to let me work in peace. Increasing the rudeness and the bluntness may very well be a solution at this point.

            1. Lizabeth*

              Sometimes a blunt, direct, & rude comment is the ‘only’ thing that an obtuse coworker will understand. If every other attempt to get the point across failed…

          2. Jillociraptor*

            There’s a point where you don’t have a “partner in politeness” anymore, when the other person is either clueless to or manipulative enough to circumvent social norms that would let both of you move past the situation more politely. I think the rudeness and directness is totally warranted in this case! Seems like the kind of guy where if you said “I don’t have time right now,” he’d keep checking back until he found a window to yam your ear off. Blech.

          3. Jazzy Red*

            fposte’s suggestion is great! Take it to heart, OP. This gross coworker is much more rude than that statement. If he gives you trouble about it, just keep repeating it verbatim until he leaves.

        1. Clever Name*

          I can’t recall the original thread, but honestly, the amount of strife Lunaire’s coworker is causing her, I think this level of bluntness is necessary and warranted. When a person is unable or unwilling to get hints and politeness, you need to be this direct. The social contract “to be nice” has already been broken, by Lunaier’s coworker.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            I agree. Try answer people in a similar manner that they address you. An obnoxious person is not going to understand “Not now, please, I am working”. The obnoxious person will only try again five minutes later.

            Go back to your boss and ask how he wants you to handle the situation. This guy has too much free time on his hands in my opinion. I think the boss would be interested in finding out how much work this guy does do.

            Lunaire, continue to stand up for yourself. There is no greater let down than when we fail to stand up for ourselves. It’s going to be a bit harder because this has been going on for a while. Maybe in the beginning a firm NO said 3-4 would have worked. But now it maybe that you need to say it 12-15 times. [I am just using the numbers as examples, I don’t mean literally.]
            Hammer out your plan and stick to it come H or high water. Your new determination alone, will send out a signal to this …. person.

    1. Zillah*

      Hmm. If you think that just deflecting him for a bit until he’s no longer in ‘vacation was awesome’ mode, you could say, “Glad you had a good vacation! I really can’t talk right now – I have to get XYZ done by the end of this week” (or just “Can’t talk right now – I’m really busy”). Maybe even while you have headphones in, if that’s a thing you do – then he doesn’t even really have an opening.

      If you think that deflecting him for a week or two won’t change him oversharing later, you can change that a a little and just say, “I’m glad you had a good vacation, but I really need to concentrate on this right now.”

    2. LF*

      I missed out on the original discussion, but I have a similar problem at my workplace – my assistant will keep me for hours with the most asinine stories and I always complain to my husband about wanting those minutes of my life back. A straw broke recently when she started telling me, in detail, about what her childhood friend who she hasn’t spoken to in 30 years’ parents used to do, while I had gotten up from my desk, slowly walking us both out of the office – I finally said “Sorry but I have to get this done for [the partner that we both work for].

      I’ve been working on getting her to leave me alone more lately but it’s important to me to keep the peace… she is my legal assistant (I can’t switch assistants) and it doesn’t help me to crush her morale. Here are my chief deflection tactics:

      1. Start walking and walk to a place where it’s awkward for her to follow (she’s not going to follow me into the bathroom).
      2. Say “Thanks [chatty assistant], that’s really nice to hear about, but I’ve got to get back to work.”
      3. Last resort – “Sorry, can’t talk. I’m really busy right now.”

      These seem to be relatively OK. But I’m still annoyed that she just interrupted my thoughts to call me to talk about how it was world cat day. And I haven’t been gushing at all about getting a new puppy on Wednesday because her return gushing would really drive me crazy. I cut off her vet advice by saying “I don’t know anything about his fleas – just letting my husband handle it” and walking away.

    3. Rebecca*

      Do you have a trusted friend in the office? We used to have a story teller who would corner us and blather on about her family, grandchildren, what she did over the weekend, ad nauseum, and while we wanted to be polite, she wouldn’t shut up. So, if one of us got trapped, we would call the trapped person from an outside line so it looked like a call was coming from our corporate office, and they’d say “ooo, I have to take that”, answer the phone, and talk about pretend work emergencies. Worked like a charm.

  22. Zillah*

    I just finished my MLS (which I’ve mentioned before – sorry, I keep bothering everyone with my stuff!), and while I’m applying to library/archiving jobs, I also feel like I should be applying to other things, too. It’s a competitive field, and while I have decent savings, I’d rather not deplete them by being jobless until February (or whenever).

    I’m trying to figure out what else I can apply to, though, that my degree is vaguely applicable to and which will either be reasonably fulfilling or not a big deal to leave if I find a library job within a year. (Because I definitely don’t want a reputation as a job hopper.) I’m considering editing, because I have experience in that, but ASAIK, that’s also pretty competitive…


      1. Zillah*

        Hmm. Particularly if I could only find a PT library job, that would definitely help pay the bills. Thanks!

        1. LibrarianJ*

          Along similar lines, I don’t know how the hiring process for these companies works, but you could look into a service like ChatStaff or that provides online reference service. Our libraries use ChatStaff as a back-up for our virtual reference service (for odd hours or in case we’re shortstaffed or something). It’s a useful service, could probably be done remotely and might give you valuable reference experience that you could actually use towards one of those coveted library jobs :).

      1. Zillah*

        I hadn’t, really – I guess I was poisoned against the field a bit by a professor I had who was a records manager and just wasn’t a very good teacher. I should look into it, though. Thanks!

        1. brightstar*

          I’m in records management, which is why I suggested it. And over the past few years it seems that many companies want someone with an MLIS. I’m sorry the teacher was bad, but obviously not everyone should be one.

          1. Zillah*

            Yeah, no, it wasn’t a conscious thing – I just realized it after you suggested it, because it is a really good idea. I’ll definitely look into it. :)

    1. Children's Librarian*

      Anything customer service orientated would be good. All librarians have customers, even catalogers.

      The easiest way to get a library job is to be willing and able to move (sometimes quite far). I’ve been lucky enough to stay in my desired state but have moved several times. It’s hardest to get that first job with “Librarian” in the title and then once you have 1-3 years of experience, it’s easier to move for a job in a better area, or a better job period.

      Do you follow I Need a Library Job?

      Good luck!

      1. De Minimis*

        My area seems to have a good number of library jobs, but none are full time and are lower level. Seems like it’s hard to move up into better positions even after you prove yourself.

        Our nearest branch has two retirements coming up, so maybe that wave of librarian retirements is finally about to begin?

      2. Zillah*

        Unfortunately, moving isn’t really an option for me – I need to find a job that I can commute to from where I live. That said, I’m living in the NYC area, so there are a lot of libraries… and, unfortunately, a lot of librarians in need of jobs).

        I do follow I Need a Library Job, but I hadn’t looked at it in a couple weeks – just got home from vacation. Thanks for the reminder. :)

    2. MJ*

      There are a lot of skills that libraries need that are not “librarianship,” so a job that fosters growth in one of those areas will create a well-rounded resume. Customer service skills are an obvious one, and as our library is very busy, I always love to see that someone has survived restaurant work and can still talk positively about it. Working for a book store is great because you develop your RA skills and stay abreast of publishing. Working corporate is also great because you develop work maturity (learning how work works), especially if you learn some good Excel skills which are woefully missing in most librarians. Libraries make a lot of their decisions based on stats – you might find a job where you can learn how to analyze numbers. Libraries have to advertise, so graphics skills are great to have. Libraries need people who can present programs – find a job where you teach or present. While social media skills are a must at most libraries, pretty much every librarian applying can demonstrate those skills now, so focusing on those may not give you a leg up. Technology, though, we need – keeping the network running, getting all the printers working after the latest software upgrade, helping us evaluate which tablets to use for our new catalog kiosks, etc. Outreach is big, so find a job where you develop networking skills. Business development is also a growing need in libraries – find a job where you learn about business startups or business resources. Marketing is also an avenue you could consider – learn how to find out about the community/customer you serve. Good luck!

    3. Just Visiting*

      If you just need money, how about temping? You probably won’t get something applicable to your field but it’s cash and the agency only shows up as one employer on your resume. And nobody expects you to stick it out if you find something you want.

      1. Zillah*

        That’s definitely a possibility, and one I’ll fall back on if I have to. I’m just kind of hoping to find something that’s more steady – after how hectic this past year was, I really want a job with a regular schedule and a regular place. :/ (Which doesn’t lend itself to ‘easy to leave,’ I know.)

    4. Stephanie*

      I used to work in a niche area–patent searching. Our company did research and consulting work for IP attorneys. We hired a couple of MLIS holders to assist the analysts (which was my role) doing the searches. The staff librarians keep abreast of the the best databases and looked for gaps in subscription coverage (e.g., if we should renew our IEEE subscription or didn’t have a good resource for instruction manuals). The librarians were also on hand if the analysts got stuck. In a similar vein, I’d look into law firms. The bigger ones usually have staff librarians.

      I do also see postings at larger companies for information managers. For example, I saw a posting at Ford for an information manager to be a resource for manufacturing strategies.

      Good luck!

    5. Denny*

      Prospect research is one thing I know people with MLS degrees have gone into, and which I’m looking into myself (I finish up my MLS in December.)

  23. Elizabeth*

    Last day at my current job!

    Definitely bittersweet. I’m thrilled professionally, as my new position is a much better fit for my long-term career goals and management here is a bit of a mess, but by and large my co-workers are fantastic, and not seeing them every day will be hard.

    Oh well. Here’s to better things, and my weekend of unemployment!

  24. Kelly O*

    Amazing news!

    Last week I found out I did not get a job I’d been hoping for. It was with a company I’ve been trying to get on with since we moved to Houston, and I’ve applied for anything I was remotely qualified for. I went through three interviews, was one of two finalists, and they just decided to go with the other candidate.

    I got a call yesterday from the recruiter I was working with. The manager and department head liked me so much, they want me to come work with them. They’re finishing up my background check, and will be in touch with more detail in the next couple of days, but they are creating a position in their department and want me for that position!

    Y’all I cannot even tell you how excited and encouraged I was by that. I went from feeling rejected again, worrying about everything going on at current job, and trying to figure out where best to regroup, to this. It is pretty much just getting things in a row so I can get more detail and figure out a start date.

    This good, common-sense, reasonable approach to work will eventually work out for you. I love the AAM community, and I’ve learned so much from Alison and all of you. I know I did so well on the interview because of the perspective you all provide, as well as that aforementioned common sense.

    I will be sure to let you know when I start! :) Happy Good-News Friday!

    1. Tiffany In Houston*

      Congratulations! I needed to hear some good news today as my own search has not been going well! Kudos!

  25. KTM*

    My husband started a new job a couple months ago and is an extremely competent engineer (I know I am biased but please take my word on it for now!) He really fights with himself with kind of an imposter syndrome type thing where he shrugs off compliments and accomplishments as ‘well anyone could have done that’ and he is constantly too hard on himself. I keep trying to tell him he has only been there two months so he is still learning!! But he is used to being good at things right away…Does anyone have any suggestions (advice, books, columns, etc) that could help him out? I know a lot of us have the ‘oh my gosh someone is going to find out I’m not as smart as they think’ feelings but his seem to be really strong and it’s causing a lot of stress.

    1. ClaireS*

      This is tough and it sounds like a combo of perfectionism and imposter syndrome. If this is seriously causing him trouble (stress, inability to finish things), I know people who’ve successfully battled this sort of thinking with cognitive behaviour therapy.

    2. LAI*

      I’m actually going through the same thing right now. I’m used to being good at what I do, but I just started a new position 2 months ago and am still learning. I haaate making mistakes or not knowing the answer to something. Basically, I am trying to spend as much time learning as I can (when I’m not reading AAM, of course) and I remind myself that I was probably the same way when I first started my old job, I just don’t remember that long ago. Everyone in my office reassures me constantly that it will take at least a year to be really good, so I just think about how I will feel a year from now and use it as a goal to work toward.

      1. Jen RO*

        I’m seeing this from both points of view now. When I first worked for this company, it took me a year to start understanding *anything*. The first months were horrible, I wanted to quit on my first day! When I quite that job, almost 4 years later, I was probably the most knowledgeable in the department.

        Then, three months ago, I went back to the same company and job, but working on a different product… and it’s back to square one. Once again, I don’t know anything, understand anything, or have any idea who the key people are. What helps me is thinking back to that first year, and the huge difference it made. I also told this to all the new hires, and most of them feel much better when they realize that no one expects them to be experts on day 1.

    3. GH*

      As a person who is very good at my job but has experienced major Imposter Syndrome on occasion, I want to mention that at least for me, being reassured about my skills or reminded that these feelings are normal doesn’t help. It feels like minimising my very real concerns. I still cringe when I remember how I was struggling through high school math but couldn’t get my parents to believe me because I was still getting A’s for some reason. The fear and panic were real and I needed that to be acknowledged, not denied.

      1. KTM*

        Thanks GH – that is pretty much what is going on right now. I try to reassure him and tell him this is normal, and try to get him to role reverse and think about what he would say to me (I do imposter syndrome thing too and he has always told me I’m being irrational) but I really feel like it doesn’t get through. Thanks for everyone else’s suggestions as well!

    4. Chriama*

      My suggestion is therapy. That much stress is unhealthy, and he doesn’t need to have something “wrong” with him to want to see a therapist. I think cognitive behaviour therapy might help him break negative thought patterns and overcome anxiety.

    5. A Jane*

      I read “Brag!: The Art of Tooting Your Own Horn without Blowing It” when I was younger. The tips are good, but it does help put things in business perspective.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      I am a big fan of just reading current news in the industry. It is amazing how reading, even a little every other day helps to build confidence. That is not an instant fix. But it is an investment.

    7. Meg*

      I had a hard time accepting compliments and accomplishments as well. I STILL have a hard time saying “You’re welcome” instead of “Oh, it was no problem” in a casual, but warm “you’re welcome” vibe, so it’s never really been addressed as any different. What I did to accept compliments and accomplishments though was simply say “thank you” and nothing more, and don’t draw too much attention to it (because I would fidget or shuffle my feet or other nervous ticks). Just “thank you” and not another thought to it and go back to whatever I was doing.

      It’s not desensitizing myself to it negatively, but allows me to treat it as “you better get used to it now, because you’ll be hearing it a lot more, you awesome person you!”

  26. AdoptingManager*

    When should I talk to my boss about my plans to adopt? I’ve always been intent on keeping my fertility plans quiet in the office so no one knows that I’ve had 2 pregnancy losses in the past 12 months. I am moving forward with adoption plans – the home study is underway, training, etc. None of that affects my work at all so will be kept quiet. But given the possibility (hope!) that a child might be placed with us with little notice (certainly not the 5-6 month lead time you get for a traditional maternity leave) what are your thoughts on when I should mention the possibility of needing leave?

    I won’t take a full 3 month leave but I will need some time off. I qualify for FMLA and am aware of all the paperwork needed and that I’m not required to give any notice by my organization in these circumstances, but it feels like I should give my boss a heads up that this might happen. I work in a senior leadership position and I have flexibility – I don’t imagine I will check out completely right away – we will work together to make my absence as easy as possible.

    I’m thinking after we are on the official waiting list? Any insights into this situation are greatly appreciated!

    1. fposte*

      I think the official waiting list plan sounds feasible; it’s both a sensible timing and a sensible explanation for your timing.

    2. LMW*

      I’m contemplating foster-to-adopt myself, and I’ll be really interested in hearing about your experiences (how much time you thought you needed vs reality, reactions in office, announcing at work, etc.) after the fact. Particularly this needing sudden leave aspect. So, no advice to offer, but tons of best wishes.

    3. ClaireS*

      I think the wait list plan sounds good. I would also explicitly request that your boss keep this confidential. If people need to know so they can be trained for your potential absense, I would ask that it be framed as general cross training.

    4. Jillociraptor*

      First of all, I’m sorry for your losses, and also excited for you to start this process!

      Do you have any concerns about how your boss will react? If, in general, you think they will be supportive and eager to be flexible, I’d give them as much notice as possible to make sure they’re prepared for coverage on your work (or taking you out of approval streams/decisions for the time when you’re with your new child). Give them a heads-up now, a super brief overview of the process (including the “we might have a baby like…tomorrow” part!) and keep them in the loop as the process progresses.

      Until my direct report adopted a baby I had no idea what went into it. Laws vary by state I’m sure, but there were lots of meetings, court hearings, etc., not to mention having a newborn kind of suddenly! Luckily I’m in a position where I can provide her with a lot of flexibility (she has continued working), so I really appreciate when she is upfront about what she needs.

      If your manager isn’t as flexible or you have concerns that they’ll probe into personal things you don’t want to share at work about your fertility or personal decisions, that’s a lot harder and you might wait until later in the process.

      I’m thinking of you and wishing you well!

    5. Apollo Warbucks*

      It sounds like joining the official waiting list would be a good point to talk to your manager. It’s the earliest possible point that you’ll be considered for a child that needs adopting, so any earlier would be premature and it means you give your boss the maximum possible notice you require some leave.

    6. YouWillNeverWorkInThisTownAgain*

      First of all, that’s awesome you are considering adoption! :) I have a close friend who decided the foster-to-adopt route was a good fit for her (i.e. single, never-married woman in her early 40s). Being single added another “layer” to the process, if you will, and has been a struggle for her, but she wouldn’t change a thing. :)

      My friend waited until all of her training, interviews, home visits/inspection was complete until she mentioned her plans to her boss. Her soon-to-be formally adopted son was placed with her shortly after she was placed on the official waiting list. He was born around Christmas time and I believe she took a month off. It was a combination of FMLA and her PTO time. She would have loved to take more time off but being the sole provider for the family, unpaid leave wasn’t an option.

      Best of luck to you all. :)

  27. TheExchequer*

    The good: my boss thinks I’m brilliant and I had a client tell me I “had” to tell my boss I deserved a raise. (I may have neglected to inform said client I’ve been there less than a month. :look:)

    The bad: I had a call from a client yesterday that started out with the client asking how to spell the name of our website. (I have no idea how they contacted us without knowing that). The call did not improve from there.

    The question: I’m pretty sure one of my coworkers is going through either a death or very grave sickness in the family. I’d like to offer some kind of support, but I can appreciate she may not want to share that with someone she barely knows. Thoughts?

    1. Lily in NYC*

      I wouldn’t mention it – first, because as you wrote, you don’t know her very well yet and she might be a very private person. Second, it might cause her to get emotional if she is feeling raw. My dad died last month ago after a long illness and there were times I probably would have burst into tears in the office if someone had approached me to ask how he was doing. However, there were other times I would have welcomed the chance to vent. I just think that the fact you’ve been there for so short a time means you should hold off saying anything unless you have a really good rapport with her.

    2. Clever Name*

      I just had to laugh about “the bad”. I’ve worked for clueless clients in the past (although not that bad), and it’s really, really difficult. I mean, it is part of a consultant’s job to let the client what they need (from a regulatory standpoint), but when you tell the same client they need the same permit for the same type of project that you’ve done for them in the past, it starts to get frustrating.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      It’s really good that you are aware there may be difficulty. Keep your ears open for an opportunity to offer help. It could be that she starts talking about it with a third person but right in front of you- those are the opportunities you are looking for.

      It might boil down to waiting until the boss informs you that she has suffered a loss. You can ask the boss if she needs anything or find out what the group is doing and pitch in.

  28. Green IT*

    I recently was kind of “voluntold” into a new position. My previous position had some leadership opportunities and I did my job well and then was kind of reccommended and then poached for the Sr. VP as his assistant who manages his calendar.
    People have been telling me that this is a great opportunity and allows for exposure with other senior management – but I’m not convinced…its like my slow climb to management just got side-tracked.

    Has anyone else been through this? How do you cope?

    1. Lily in NYC*

      I am an executive assistant and believe me, exposure to senior staff means absolutely nothing. It really depends on the company. Where I work, it is almost impossible for an admin to be promoted out of an admin role. But I had another job where I was promoted two times in 5 years after starting as the receptionist. I would have an honest talk with the VP and tell him your concerns. I was offered a promotion here a few years ago by the head of another dept. My boss found out about it and sabotaged it behind my back because she didn’t want to lose me as an assistant – it happens way more than you probably think. If you get the hunch it will be a difficult road there, then I would start looking.

      1. Green IT*

        Yeah…that’s what I figured! What a bummer…I’ve already started job hunting.
        P.S.[Your boss sounds horrid…who does that to their staff?!?]

  29. Sloop*

    Burning out.

    How do you all manage the feeling of being way over capacity in your workload and management not caring at all? I work in financial consulting and have been in the industry for ~5 years, so last minute deadlines and a solid busy season from August through November is nothing new (we do not have the luxury of some other fields that have crazy busy seasons but then work half days throughout the summer or something – we have “summer Fridays” in name but ask me how many I’ve taken…yep, zero.)

    I have most clients in my entire department based on revenue and billable hours. We landed a massive account in January, and I was assigned to the client team (yay! Hard word is rewarded!) but my boss promised that by being put on BigClient, he would reassign some of the smaller clients to my coworkers at the same job level. That promise has been forgotten in the last 8 months as “the clients like you too much” and I will not be pulled off the little clients. I am routinely pulling 85 hour weeks and am stressed to the point of nausea, and am really frustrated with work in general. I am constantly panicking that something is wrong. We even had a client call our Managing Director this week and tell him that our work hasn’t been as top-notch as they are used to (nothing that I directly did as I am not the senior consultant, but the guilt kept me up literally all night. Running off of diet coke and coffee this morning.) As guilty as I feel, I am also a little ticked off that I’ve been telling my boss all along “no more clients, take me off LittleClient and SmallRevenue like we discussed back in January because I am OVER capacity and don’t want our level of service to fall off” and that’s exactly what happened. Does anyone have any tips for managing your boss when you feel like you could literally curl up and die of exhaustion and management doesn’t care? I 100% love my career field and am extremely happy with my job most of the time, but this is just ridiculous. My industry has a high burnout rate and I do not want that to happen to me, so am struggling with an insane workload / little to no time to TAKE my ample PTO / off-the-charts guilt.

    1. Gobrightbrand*

      You have to have a conversation with your boss. You need to say something like:

      You: “Now that I have BigClient, we need to reassign ClientX, Client Y. I can not continue to work 85 hours a week, let’s discuss a transition strategy.”

      Boss: “But Client X and Y love you so much”

      You: “I really appreciate that and the time I was able to dedicate to them. But in order to truly serve our clients, they need to be given the full-attention of someone who isn’t focusing on BigClient. It is unsustainable for me to continue servicing all of these clients and has been for a while. They need to be transitioned.”

      You have to be firm, calm and on point. Any deflection just needs to be met, unfortunately I can not continue to work on Client X and Y. Let’s discuss who might be best suited for taking over those accounts.

      If the boss doesn’t acquiesce, I would start cutting your hours back to a more reasonable amount and start giving the boss choices. I can do X and Y this week but not A and B. What would you like me to prioritize?

      1. Chriama*

        I agree. Sometimes you need to have a ‘big picture’ conversation about your workload. It’s not about the fact that these clients love you so much, it’s about the fact that they’ve successively added to your workload over time and you are now at an unhealthy point. I have to say though, if your industry has a high level of burnout and your company just doesn’t acknowledge it… you might be stuck. If everyone else works as many hours as you do, there might not be anyone to shuffle the work to.

        Anyway, best bet is to have a comprehensive discussion with your boss about how to make your work more manageable (there’s always the subtext of “or else I’ll quit”, so you decide how subtly or bluntly to make that point).

    2. LCL*

      Get your doctor to approve FMLA for a month for stress related issues. ANY issue a doctor is willing to sign off for qualifies for FMLA. Then take your full month off.

    3. ThursdaysGeek*

      It sounds to me like you are already burning out, and just haven’t realized or acknowledged it yet. Look at the words you used: panicked, stress, guilt, diet of coffee and diet coke, nausea. You’re not sleeping well, working more than 2 full time jobs, and not eating well. Your boss is willing to continue to burn you out, even though you could provide a long-term benefit to him. Are you willing to let him?

    4. Clever Name*

      I think you need to start ruthlessly but politely explaining a) just what your workload is and b) how long things would take if you worked a normal work week (let’s say 45 or 5o hours).

      I’ve definitely gone through periods where I’ve had too much on my plate, and it’s stressful, but it’s also a sign that you do good work. So there’s that.

      What I do is I constantly ask about deadlines and priorities. I’ll say, “I’m working on x,y, and z now, where does q fit into that in terms of timelines and priority?” Of if someone asks if I can help on something, I’ll ask what the timeline is and say that I wouldn’t be able to get started on it for 3 weeks (or whatever) because of deadlines of projects x, y, and z. Sometimes deadlines/priorities will get shifted, and sometimes they’ll give the work to someone else. At one point I flat-out said to a boss, “I’m at the point where some things are not going to get done; I need to know what has to get done” The next week we hired another person to take over what I didn’t have time to do. :)

      Notice how I never outright say, “No, I can’t do this, I don’t have time.” but I think I do communicate clearly what my workload is and show my willingness to juggle things and work extra (but not insanely so) when necessary.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      I would stress the 85 hours per week. That is not one job, that is two jobs. It’s also not sustainable. It will only be a matter of time before you call in from a hospital bed. And then you will not be there period. I got treated for exhaustion once and the doctor had me on full bed rest for a month. I fell asleep and woke up four days later. [I slept reeeally good.]

      The boss cannot assign every client in the place to you simply because you are good at what you do. This actually means the boss is bad at what he does- he cannot delegate or he cannot get people trained. He has not developed his staff. And that is NOT your fault.

      What would he do if you ran away to Bermuda or got hit by a bus or any number of other scenarios? He would be screwed.

      This is hard because on top of being exhausted, you have to argue with the guy. When I am really tired I cannot argue with people. It is easier just to do what they are asking, it’s less tiring. Maybe you need to get a note from a doctor to help you get your points across.

      And a bit of snark: Does he work more hours than you? I am betting not.

  30. Mimmy*

    Okay, I have a couple of questions today. I’ll keep them separate.

    One of the questions in this morning’s “short answer” post got me curious about something: I’ve noticed a couple of people mentioning they’ve hired a “job coach”. I’m only familiar with the type who work with people with disabilities and mental illness. Do job coaches exist outside of disability/mental health services? I assume these are NOT the same as career counselors/coaches, right? I’m not necessarily looking for a job coach–I was just curious.

    1. Persephone Mulberry*

      My assumption from today’s thread was that “job coach” was synonymous with “career coach/counselor” – someone you are paying to critique your resume, aid in interview practice, help with career research if you’re not sure “what you want to be when you grow up”, etc. Very different from a disability/mental health case manager or therapist.

    2. College Career Counselor*

      Job Coach can also mean a consultant who helps you develop certain skills to perform your current job better (developingt better communication skills, role-playing scenarios that are likely to occur, etc.). Sometimes these consultants are referred to as “executive coaches” and are used when someone is new to the executive level of an organization.

      While I think there can be value in this, it has to be done for the right reasons and in the right manner. Case in point, the division head who wanted his direct reports to get job coaching because HE loved it so much. In fact, he was so enamored of the process that he had a new job coach for himself at least every other year. Remarkably, despite all this coaching, he remained completely unchanged in his approach to leading/managing the division. But he pushed many people to participate (it was not voluntary, because you got punished for not participating fully and/or happily), and since he hired these consultants, they all reported to him on their interactions with the subordinate reports. Let’s just say that the most critical aspect of job/executive coaching at that place was “how to manage up.”

  31. L*

    I have a question about “Women’s Work.”

    When I started at my current job, I was so happy to have found a job right out of college in my field that I was excited and energetic about taking on all projects, even the ones I wasn’t hired for. The VP who oversees my team (about 50 people in total work here) would frequently delegate admin tasks to me like ordering lunch for client meetings, reserving hotel rooms for him, taking notes at meetings, researching flights for him, covering for the receptionist when she was out, setting up coffee and conference rooms before client meetings, etc. (I had been hired to do social media and graphic design, and none of the above admin duties had been in my job description.)

    I’ve recently seen a lot of commenters on this blog saying that the above tasks are “women’s work” and that we shouldn’t take them on if we want to be taken seriously by men and other women in the workplace. I’ve since been promoted, and I’ve seen these tasks fall to more junior female colleagues, all of whom were hired straight out of college and had the same eager-to-please attitude that I did.

    My question is — where do you draw the line between “I decline to do this task because it’s considered traditional women’s work and I want to be taken seriously in the workplace” and “I will do this task because I’m the most junior member of the team”?

    1. Sally Go Lightly*

      I personally don’t look at this as “women’s work.” I look at it as administrative work. When I was working my way up the ladder, I didn’t have any trouble doing this kind of work. I wouldn’t think this would have anything to do with gender unless junior male colleagues are not expected to do the same.

    2. Elizabeth West*

      I’d say when you move out of admin responsibilities, no matter what your sex. Those things are typically handled on a support level. I wouldn’t expect the supervisors, managers, or officers to do them.

    3. snapple*

      I don’t think the stuff you described is “woman’s work”. I think it’s entry-level administrative work which is probably why your VP delegated these assignments to you.

    4. Chriama*

      It would really have to depend on where you are in your career and what you’ve noticed at your company. I think after entry level you don’t want to be doing administrative tasks, but in your first few years it’s a combination of being at the bottom of the totem pole (you have no one below you to delegate to), cheaper labour (you’re paid less), having more capacity (because you aren’t yet competent enough to take on more complex work or are still in training), and yes, probably a little unconscious sexism. I think it’s better to be visible to higher-ups than not, even if it means boring work, with 2 caveats:
      1) If you ever feel like people disregard you in your actual professional role. E.g. you’re having a meeting to figure out specs for your project and the others expect you to take notes even though you should be a key participant.
      2) The males at your level get assigned more presigious projects. E.g. the junior males get to lead the meetings while the junior females get to take minutes or send out the agenda.

    5. fposte*

      If the men at the same level never have to do the tasks, or the women at higher levels are assigned the tasks in instead of men in support roles.

      If there are no men at the same level, you’ll probably serve yourself better by assuming it’s a junior thing and doing the tasks well, as it sounds like you did.

    6. HeyNonnyNonny*

      It’s only ‘women’s work’ if you’re required to do it based solely on you being a woman. If you’re an administrative assistant who happens to be a woman, well, then it’s just regular ‘work.’

      (You don’t mention if there were other receptionists or men who were more junior to you– that would make a difference.)

    7. ClaireS*

      If there is no dedicated admin person to do these tasks and you are the bottom of the totem pole, it makes sense they fall to you and I wouldn’t push back.

      But, if there are junior men who don’t receive these tasks, I would gently push back with a, “I’m very busy with (other work) right now. Any way Jeremy can help you with that.” I’d be sure to take on my fair share but also push back so it’s evenly distributed.

    8. The IT Manager*

      You decline or support other young women declining when you notice that only the junior female employees get assigned these tasks. Are there junior male colleagues who are not being asked to do these tasks or are refusing them and leaving them for the women?

      Basically “woman’s work” is when a female peer is always the one asked to take notes, get lunch, etc.

    9. Clever Name*

      Yeah, I think it’s more administrative work, but most admins are women…….

      That said, I’m mid-level technical staff at a consulting firm. Most of my hours are billable, and I’m not on the admin side at all (I’m a scientist). I will do things like cleaning in the kitchen and refilling the paper towel dispenser, mostly because it drives me nuts when those things don’t get done. However, I try not to let it be known that I do those things. Even so, the admin staff pretty much know at this point that I help out doing some of that stuff, but I’m never asked to do it.

  32. Nervous accountant*

    Ok so I was prepared to ask this before yesterday’s how to terrify new employees post. But Has anyone ever been in a situation where things were bumpy at the start but got better?

    Here’s the background (little long I know)–
    I started a new job a few days ago. It’s a small company, a few people in the office, with lots of opportunity learn. I’m *willing* to do everything and learn, I have experience in one thing but not a lot in a few other things which I made VERY clear in the interview. They offered me a PT-to-FT position nonetheless, which I accepted. When I researched them, I couldn’t find any employee reviews, save for one which was pretty horrible. After my own interview, I had a good feeling about it so I didn’t give that review much thought.

    So….the “bumps”—

    My boss, the owner of the company, emails me at 11 PM asking for an update on a task he left for me, which I had completed. Gave him the updates, and he says my job is to keep him out of this stuff. I was utterly confused because he emailed me first…?

    I’ve had a handful of conversations with him and he makes it very clear that he has very high expectations which is fine. But what makes me uncomfortable is how he puts down his former employees. “I had an employee who sat there did nothing all day/who said they had 5 years of experience but didn’t know shit.” etc

    In all the conversations he’s been annoyed/upset, reassures it’s not at me, but at another employee/former employee. He acknowledges that I’m new, and I don’t have experience in certain things but that I need to get a handle on expectations. He did say I had a good attitude though?

    A few days ago he was on speakerphone, openly berating another employee…I had to leave the room because it was rough to hear. I know I’m new, but I’m scared that any day it could be me on the other end of that rant…

    The other things that bother me but not sure if they should:
    I don’t have a definite schedule yet. I’m only told/confirmed the day of when to come in again (hours are consistent though). They keep putting off talking about it and setting something up. I get it-they’re busy and other things suddenly pop up….

    the biggest frustration is that I’m pretty much on my own right now. Although they do acknowledge that it’s not the most ideal way to start, when someone or other is out/going on vacation, but most of my days are spent worrying that I’m falling short of expectations.

    There’s another intern, college student, who started the same time as I did, and seems to have more work to do whereas I’ve had mostly grunt/admin work–although not sure if that’s a real concern or not.

    There is someone else in the office, and she’s otherwise very nice and helpful but she has a lot of her own work to do and I feel silly about asking a lot of questions…esp since a lot of em are about how to navigate the software or to decipher my boss’s notes, or quick background questions about clients.

    If it matters–I have this fear/anxiety that stems from being suddenly let go a few years ago; it’s followed me into the job after it, and is in this one as well. So I’m not sure if that’s something that’s coloring my perception of the situation.

    So….it’s not so much a complaint as concerns and I’m not sure if they’re valid or not. I wish I could trust my own judgment.

    1. Laura2*

      Yeah, your concerns are totally valid. Your boss sounds like an ass. Berating an employee in front of you and badmouthing other employees is a dick move, and leaving a new employee to sit around wondering what they should be doing is exactly what Allison said NOT to do yesterday!

    2. LCL*

      Your boss is a jerk. His abusive style of managing is leading to a chaotic workplace. You very well may be let go from this job suddenly; instant firings are a hallmark of this type of manager. So if you can convincingly tell yourself it’s him, stay with the job. If you can’t reach this level of detachment, you are better off working somewhere else.

    3. CandyFloss*

      This is a bad boss/human and when it’s the owner, that is a non-fixable problem. If he yells at others and shit talks them behind their back, it’s is 100% sure that he will do the same to you/about you. Your instincts are right, this is a bad situation and you need to figure out if you can live with it and be able to withstand his treatment without taking it to heart.

    4. Colette*

      He definitely sounds like a jerk, and I think you should face the fact that he will likely behave the same way towards you – and that is about him, not you. I would also make a point of putting money aside and keeping my network active, because he sounds erratic.

      I think small companies are more prone to this kind of thing, because it’s more personal and because they don’t have the same sort of oversight (shareholders, HR, legal) that larger companies have. That doesn’t mean there aren’t small businesses that are great to work for, just that it’s highly dependent on the owner.

    5. Sharon*

      I want to comment on this detail, since others have commented on the rest: “In all the conversations he’s been annoyed/upset, reassures it’s not at me, but at another employee/former employee.”

      There is absolutely NO excuse for taking things out on an unrelated party. It’s irrational and immature. People who redirect their anger like that are unpredictable and if you let them take things out on you enough times, they actually do start thinking you are the source of their problems. Not to mention how they make you feel like crap for things that you had nothing to do with. Don’t tolerate this, look for another job working for an adult manager.

    6. Agile Phalanges*

      I was going to respond to this as someone who has had a less-than-ideal onboarding process but it seems to be working out well, but I agree with the other replies that your boss seems like a jerk, and there are some definite red flags in your case.

      For anyone who cares, my experience is at a tiny company (only three office staff, plus less than a dozen manufacturing staff) with very little experience hiring office staff (last hire was 13 years ago). They were replacing someone who had left suddenly with very little documentation, so it’s understandable that I’ve had to figure a lot of things out on my own and haven’t had a lot of training, but thankfully my boss completely understands that, and is very forgiving of my questions and inevitable mistakes. And of course, with no IT department, and with a lot of outside websites I need logins for, it’s taken a while to get my own logins instead of having to use the prior person’s or have my boss log in for me with his. But again, it’s completely understandable given the circumstances, so in my case, are not necessarily red flags, just temporary annoyances that WILL get better.

      In your case, I’d probably start figuring out an exit plan.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      If you can stay at the part time level while you sort all this, that might be a wise move.

      I think your instincts are right on target. It’s not because of any ONE thing,but because you have numerous concrete examples of situations.

  33. Beth C*

    I love open threads. :) There’s a job opening at a company I’d love to work at and am working on a good cover letter. The job requires excellent attention to detail and I’d like to ease in an opening for a project I helped lead.

    I was going to include a line about “an affinity for technology” and write a brief summary of a project that increased efficiency of reports for the department. When I read it out loud it came across as a bit snobby to me. Please critique my wording and suggestions are welcome.

    My daily job duties require strong attention to detail and if you don’t have those skills you won’t be there long. I’m unsure how to mention excellent attention to detail in my cover letter. Should I mention it and a few lines about something that required strong attention to detail?

    1. Persephone Mulberry*

      I think “affinity for technology” is not in an of itself snobbish/stilted, as long as the example to go with it is conversational. I am going to toot my own horn a bit, and share an excerpt from my cover letter that was featured here back in February:

      In addition to being flexible and responsive, I’m also a fanatic for details – particularly when it comes to presentation. One of my recent projects involved coordinating a 200-page grant proposal: I proofed and edited the narratives provided by the division head, formatted spreadsheets, and generally made sure every line was letter-perfect and that the entire finished product conformed to the specific guidelines of the RFP. (The result? A five-year, $1.5 million grant award.) I believe in applying this same level of attention to detail to tasks as visible as prepping the materials for a top-level meeting and as mundane as making sure the copier never runs out of paper.

      Personally, I would pick one requirement/strength to highlight with an example (e.g. either affinity for technology or attention to detail) – probably whichever one doesn’t lend itself as well to being demonstrated in your resume.

      1. snapple*

        Nice! I thought that cover letter was awesome and it’s nice to know who to attribute it to now.

      2. Beth C*

        I really liked that cover letter. Great job on it and it’s nice to know who the reader is who wrote it.

      3. Chriama*

        I don’t think it’s a bad idea to include both. It depends on the flow and structure of your letter. However, for some reason the phrase “affinity for technology” doesn’t sound right to me. It’s a little too generic, maybe, and the word “affinity” has the wrong vibe to it. If the point of this phrase is to describe how you initiated a project that improved the department, I would focus less on the technology and more on the idea that you look for areas of improvement and go above and beyond — in more original language, of course.

        For attention to detail, it’s a good idea to include numbers if you have them or otherwise describe their impacts. Persephone’s paragraph is good, but even if you were doing support-type stuff that didn’t have a big payoff at the end, talk about how your low error rate benefited your department.

        1. Beth C*

          My line was similar to “I have an affinity for technology and lead a project reducing reporting time by 75% in subsequent periods”. Basically reports that took a great deal of manual work to export the data, summarize and format it into required formatting was reduced. The project included a significant investment of time per report structure (the software has some limitations) but time will be reduced to checking the summarized data. The summarized data’s supporting schedules are available to show if correct data pulled in. It was an awesome project but not to pat myself on the back too much.

          1. Chriama*

            But why the ‘affinity’ for technology? Is this a technical role? Isn’t it better to show that you’re good at learning new things and always willing to go above and beyond? It sounds like it was an amazing project, but I think you’re emphasizing the wrong aspects of it.

            1. Beth C*

              In my mind it sounded good and I have a tendency to undersell myself at times. I was trying to use language to call more attention to the project. It was so nice to have that project completed!

            2. Beth C*

              The role is a technical role and will be focusing on more analyzing/analytical work also, which I’d like to do more of.

              What should emphasized instead? Sorry my previous cover letters were the generic restatements of my resume so this is all new to me.

          2. Not So NewReader*

            Take the sentences you wrote here to describe it to us and toss in some numbers where you can. For example: “Basically, reports took 3 weeks to export the data, summarize and format….”
            OR The project included a 3 day investment of time per report structure …. but the time will be reduced by 1 week…..”

            My numbers might be crazy but you get the idea.

            At the end say something like “This was a very rewarding task that I totally enjoyed.” Tell them you had fun, or you were excited to see the project come to fruition– let your enthusiasm show the way it does here with us.

    2. Margali*

      Just make sure that if you call yourself a perfectionist, don’t spell it “profectionist” like in the resume I reviewed yesterday!

  34. Shell*

    I got rejected from the place that interviewed me two weeks ago. I was a very strong candidate since they invited me for a second interview that same day of the first interview, but they called me for that second interview after I’d left my office and couldn’t put in a request for time off (they wanted me to see a VP the very next day, and I couldn’t have made it without faking sick). When I tried to ask for a call or a later date, I got “let me check with the VP” and then got rejected this past Wednesday. I guess the successful candidate could’ve made the short notice if the second interview…

    Sigh. Sorry, venting.

    1. Carrie in Scotland*

      I’m really sorry, as that sucks. I mean, surely it is understandable and logical for them to think that “hey actually, as much as Shell wants to do the second interview she might not be able to get the time off so soon and so we’ll make it work for her?” :( *virtual hugs*

      1. Shell*

        I know, right? The HR person acknowledged it was super short notice. I mean, she called me AFTER regular business hours; I’m pretty sure the number I called her with was a company cell phone.

        Ugh. Sigh…

    2. Beth C*

      I’m sorry. That’s frustrating.

      I think they needed to permit candidates to have more than 1 days notice to schedule an interview with a VP. I understand VPs have many demands for their time but the company needs to realize candidates can’t always take off without much advance notice. Not that it eases the sting very much.

  35. Christian*

    Hello, I poster three weeks before if my fiance should search for a new job because hers is dysfunctional or should stick out,because we want children.
    she sent a resume to a well known facility and went to an interview today, which went great . Unfortunately, she want her at first October, which is unrealistic in Germany. But she has two other contacts which are preparing job offers, so there are options. Only downside is the pay, probably 10.000 euros less because they are university jobs. One is at a private institution, but is located where I would have problems to find a job.
    but all in all we are stressed because there are so many options, but is positive stress – the thought of leaving dysfunctional company is exhilarating.

    1. Christian*

      Update, they called her a minute ago and they want her. Incredible, the interview was 3 ours ago.
      she is very good at what she does, so I am not surprised, but I feel like an underachiever at times.

      1. fposte*

        Oh, that’s wonderful! And I doubt she thinks somebody so supportive and interested in her happiness is an underachiever :-).

    2. Persephone Mulberry*

      Out of curiosity, why is a start date 6 weeks out unrealistic? That it’s a cultural thing is a given, but I’m curious what a reasonable expectation would be.

      1. Christian*

        In germany, there are two types of employment: “Befristet” which means that you have a contract which runs a certain time E.g. you have a one year contract from July 1 2013 to July 1 2014. At the end of the contract, both parties can walk away free, or negotiate another contract.
        On the other hand, there are “unbefristete” contracts, which have no limit – the contract runs forever, and firing somebody can be impossible, depending on a lot of circumstances.

        Especially the latter type of contract has often notice times of three or four(!) months, which makes “quitting with another job at the hand” very challenging. Especially white collar jobs are known for such long times so a reasonable employer would expect 3 months. Most do not, which makes job searching frustrating as hell.

        All in all, the german employment system sucks as hell because it is so inflexible – but for my extremly left conservtaive country, “never c hange a running system” is a primary goal, so increased flexibillity is not a top priority.

        1. Sarahnova*

          Hmm, that’s interesting. I actually had a three-month notice period at my old job, which is unusually long for a non-senior-executive job in the UK, but it was a specialised role. But surely when 3 months is a standard notice period, companies accept they’ll simply have to wait for employees to work their notice? We manage in this country, more or less.

  36. Jellybone*

    How do people feel about two-column resumes? I’ve been seeing more and more of them, especially from people in my peer group (older millennials), and I was wondering if they’re getting more common. Or just used in certain fields (media and PR, maybe)?

    1. TotesMaGoats*

      Blech. No. While content norms may have changed, I don’t see the format changing to columns. I can only imagine how some application engines would screw with that formatting.

      1. Jellybone*

        Eurgh, I didn’t think about application engines. The thought of all the formatting errors that would crop up is giving me low-grade anxiety. Maybe not, then.

      2. QualityControlFreak*

        Preferences about processing information are not limited to application engines. Humans have them too. These comments have some good examples. Good information here.

    2. Jillociraptor*

      My top two candidates in my current pool had two-column resumes! That’s not what sold me on them, of course. Their resumes were intuitively designed in general – it was easy to find the information I needed and I was compelled by how they sold their experience, which are obviously the more important parts. But I’ve got no beef specifically with the formatting.

      1. MJ*

        I don’t like them. I don’t want to multi-task my way through a resume. I prefer the candidate to prioritize and put things in order of importance, as I will expect them to do when they work for us.

        1. Jellybone*

          Most two-column resumes that I’ve seen, though, have skills/certifications/what-have-you on one side and experience on the other, in chronological order. Are you seeing something different?

          1. MJ*

            I get that it’s different info in each column and both are chronological, but by putting two columns in front of me at the same time, you are asking me to attend to two things at once. You asked how people feel about them – I read a lot of resumes and my personal preference is for a more linear construct. If every other resume in my pile is linear, and yours is different, it annoys me because I have to process the information on yours differently. Also, in every two column resume I have received, other bits of information tend to be scattered around the periphery. If I have to put in extra work to find the bits I need, I don’t like it. I might not exclude you, but you’ve cost me energy. Maybe I am a curmudgeon, but maybe I am the curmudgeon reading your resume…

            1. Jellybone*

              Just asking for clarification! I was wondering if people were doing something different with the columns, is all. No judgment here; curmudgeon on with your bad self.

              1. MJ*

                Thanks for the laugh. I didn’t read judgment from you, and I do appreciate being recognized for badness!

    3. EA*

      My resume is currently 1 column with all the main details, and then 1 column (much smaller) with “Skills/Software” as a bullet-pointed list, with no descriptives.

      -MS Office Suite
      -SAP Business Objects)

    4. MaryMary*

      Personally, I find multiple columns very difficult to read when it’s not a hard copy. Columns on electronic devices (even large computer monitors) drive me batty. Something to keep in mind.

  37. the_scientist*

    Hooray, I’m in early this week! here’s my question:

    I provide analytic and research support for a big research program- dozens of affiliated scientists, lots of big egos. I report to the principal investigator (PI) (the scientific brains and getter of grants) of the project, as well as the program manager. The PI is completely conflict averse, and I am increasingly concerned about that.

    The program manager and I work very closely together. We have the same advanced degree and she’s been an amazing mentor and has consistently advocated for me to take on tasks that will build my resume and help me in the future (as an entry-level employee, this is incredibly helpful). Unfortunately, she is leaving the program very soon, moving on to a great new opportunity, and I’m unsure of how to navigate the post-departure landscape.

    I was hired because of my technical abilities and advanced degree. The principal investigator foisted a lot of admin work on to me (she needs an admin assistant badly), and the program manager helped me advocate for taking on responsibilities that are more in line with my skills. With program manager leaving, I think my boss is going to put “not rocking the boat” ahead of giving me experiences and letting me take on responsibilities that add to my skills. It troubles me that many of the outside scientists view me as strictly an admin assistant- I don’t think I’ll be able to recover from that image and I can’t correct them without sounding like a diva.

    I’m also not sure how to ask my boss for things without coming across as pushy/bossy/demanding- asking for support to complete assigned tasks is often met with long-winded explanations of why we have to appease people’s egos, not make waves, be really nice and friendly to everyone etc, and then it’s my fault when these tasks aren’t done (because I don’t have the buy-in to get them done).

    So, while this is TL;DR….any suggestions? I am looking for a new job, unsuccessfully.

    1. butterbeans*

      That’s tough. Are you in an academic setting? My lab had uncertain funding for a while. The postdocs and grad students had to split the admin duties, which really cut into our research time–we’re scientists, and not necessarily efficient at admin work from day 1. We got a student worker to cover some of the very simple tasks. If it’s a funding issue, is it possible to have an entry-level admin, even part time? Or is that not appropriate for the type of admin work? Of course, if your PI doesn’t want to hire someone and would rather just give the work to you… I have no idea. I’m sorry; this sounds very disappointing.

      1. the_scientist*

        Yes, this is an academic research setting. My boss has like 5 different projects (and many different grants) running at the same time, to the point that she could maybe get a part-time admin assistant from the organization (i.e. not from grant funding). She had our postdoc doing admin work for a different study for a while, and the postdoc actually put her foot down and said that it wasn’t an appropriate use of her time. So she could possibly get more support, just doesn’t want to/doesn’t have time to think about it/ doesn’t care as long as it gets done.

        Further, we had planned to hire a replacement program manager, looking less at someone with a research background, and more for someone with a strong project management skill set. However, we haven’t received any “good” applications (it’s an 18-month contract with no benefits, so this isn’t surprising)……so we may just not hire a replacement. Which means that all the stuff that my boss was adamant about not handing off to me (budgets, contracts etc) will likely end up on my plate eventually. Ahhhhhh.

    2. ClaireS*

      That’s tough. I would try to put what you learned from your mentor to work. How did she help advocate for you? Can you mimic that and continue the trend? Maybe try to see it as an opportunity to practice advocacy (for yourself) and assertiveness. Although not always natural, they are very important qualities to develop.

      Good luck.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Yeah, I would go back to the mentor and ask her for some pearls of wisdom. Maybe she even has thoughts on what it would take to get an admin for your boss, which would help to solve your problem.

        You may have to put your foot down in the end. However, I would try playing the role of advocating for improvements first. This could mean having a conversation with the boss saying that you can see she needs and admin very badly and what can you do to help that process along?

    3. Student*

      Your perception of you:
      “I can’t correct them without sounding like a diva”
      “…without coming across as pushy/bossy/demanding”

      Your perception of the successful scientists:
      “we have to appease people’s [successful scientists] egos”

      Guess what? In order to be a successful scientist, you need to accept that you will come off as a bit of a diva, pushy, bossy, and demanding. You will also have to snatch opportunities by force, guile, and politics.

      If you want to be liked, continue being a de-facto admin. If you want to get research done, stop worrying about whether people like you. Prioritize getting people to perceive you as competent, above all else: you muse be the person who can answer their question / get their research done. They will appease your ego and accept incredible quantities of social dysfunction from you to get research done, if they believe you can get things done.

      1. HP*

        I hate to say it, but this (from one scientist to another). Part of science is playing the politics. I do agree with ClaireS to watch your mentor and observe techniques to be effective at advocating without being a complete asshole. But sometimes you have to be an asshole.

    4. AcademicAnon*

      Maybe present it to your manager as a cost/benefit about having 1 person dedicated only to the admin stuff AND dealing with all the other scientists? I have a similar problem with a coworker whose job is split between admin and research, coworker is good at the admin stuff but not so good on the research side. The lab as a whole could have had better output on experiments (and maybe grants) if my manager had realized this and converted coworker’s job to admin only and got someone else to handle the research side of things.

  38. Gene*

    What are you doing for succession planning? One of our workgroups has lost over a hundred years’ worth of institutional knowledge in the last two months with the retirement of 3 key people. While they tried to pass on what they could, nothing can make up for the “Oh yeah, when that pipe was installed in ’75 we had to do X.” Our office of 5 average age is 56 with the youngest just over 50.

    So, are you planning for when we old guys retire? Not that I’m counting, but I’m eligible for full retirement in 2962 days. :)

    1. Sadsack*

      I have a great story of how NOT to plan your succession.

      Many years ago, I worked in a small but key department of a mid-size corporation. The head of the department was the biggest pompous ass of the worst kind I have ever met in my life up, even to today. We’ll call him PompousAss. All the other people in positions in our dept that could potentially one day be his successor were all his age, about 15 years from retirement. So, in all his wisdom, PompousAss decided that he needed to hire outside the company for someone who could be there when he retires to take over the position. (Yes, that was probably an age discrimination issue, but I digress).

      So PompousAss went about interviewing, telling the interviewees that the goal was to find his successor. He hired someone, let’s say Zed, and when he took Zed around to introduce him to all his new coworkers in and outside of our department, PompousAss introduced Zed as his successor. It was really weird and everyone laughed at PompousAss behind his back, which they were already doing anyway so nothing new there.

      I left the company about a year later, but about a year after that, I heard from a former coworker still working with PompousAss and Zed that upper management decided to just make Zed the head guy now and moved PompousAss into a lower level role, reporting to Zed.

      I don’t’ know the reasoning, but the point is that the whole “hiring my successor” thing did not work out for PompousAss the way he planned it. So don’t be a PompousAss.

      The End

    2. NOLA*

      We do a couple of things on the succession planning front (some are executed better than others):

      * Document, document, document. We went wiki style and tag everything so it is searchable
      * Hold lessons learned or debrief sessions after each project or sprint (this would just be the folks involved in the project)
      * Hold monthly brown bag lunch sessions where we talk through the results of each debriefs — goal is not to shame but to educate (this is the whole unit)
      * When assigning work, we try to mix things up so people get cross trained. This is tough because the quickest, most efficient thing to assign Sally is an application she has 10 years experience in, but she is the only one who knows it. Harder to assign it to someone else to get cross-trained, but no one can learn how to troubleshoot or enhance these things without getting their hands dirty. Balancing act!

      Industry = financial services. Dep’t = development shop

  39. Enhance Your Calm, John Spartan*

    I’m divorcing the husband I work with because he’s having a fling at work. I have no savings, so I’m stuck at this job until I can find something else.

    He is lateral to me, fling and her (oblivious? not oblivious? don’t know) still-boyfriend are both direct report below him. Question: How do I convince him he’s set himself up for a sexual harassment suit if he makes the fling angry?

    Or do I say nothing and let it all run its course? Right now, I am doing my very best to fake normal, because I really want to keep my job. Help, please.

    1. fposte*

      Why would his screwup mean you lose your job? If he hasn’t already figured out this is a bad idea, words from his soon-to-be-ex aren’t going to make a difference. Now’s the time to put a lot of space between you, not to engage further.

      1. Enhance Your Calm, John Spartan*

        While we are technically lateral, he runs multi-year projects that I work with. I guess those projects would be replaced with something else.

        I appreciate the perspective, thanks.

        1. Nina*

          I agree with fposte; I can’t see how this would affect your job, especially if you’re going to divorce him. Just keep doing your job well and keep your distance from him.

          Sorry this happened to you.

    2. Persephone Mulberry*

      I have no good advice, but I wanted you to know that your username has been the high point of my day.

    3. some1*

      You can’t. He already knows it was a bad idea. And I’m guessing this isn’t about worrying about a lawsuit, but a roundabout way of getting him to stop seeing her.

      1. Enhance Your Calm, John Spartan*

        Actually no. He can see whoever he wants, but not me. I’m at THAT stage. :-) If everything works out for them, grand. But what if there’s a shakedown ploy with her still-boyfriend?

        1. some1*

          It’s possible, but it’s not your problem, it’s his. Unless you are worried about alimony slipping away, I don’t get why you think you are invested in this.

          1. fposte*

            And really, it’s not all that likely. Adultery is common; work drama is common; shakedown ploys are not.

            1. Enhance Your Calm, John Spartan*

              More awesome perspective, thank you! That makes me feel better, which seems odd, but really! :-)

          2. Enhance Your Calm, John Spartan*

            my job will change drastically if he is fired. his job brings in the funds for all of us workers, so i could be fired too. but i’m definitely mentally getting to: hey, what’s another big change?

            thank you.

      2. Enhance Your Calm, John Spartan*

        And yes I appreciate your perspective of “You can’t,” but might be a little defensive on the other part. ;-) Thank you!

    4. Helka*

      Honestly, I wouldn’t say anything about that. You have zero obligation to shield him from the results of his own lousy decisions. And honestly, he probably would not take you seriously on the warning, given that you’re hardly a neutral party in the matter and he’s incautious enough to be engaging in a relationship with one of his direct reports in the first place!

      1. ANB*

        I completely agree. He’s clearly fine with making poor choices, and nothing said by you will prompt him to do otherwise. Plus this isn’t your problem, it’s his, so you don’t need to make it yours by getting involved and forewarning him.

        1. Enhance Your Calm, John Spartan*

          Thanks. It’s kinda trainwrecky. I’ve been trying hard not to interact _at all_ with any of the parties, and I guess that’s the best I can do.

          1. ANB*

            Plus I’m sorry this is happening to you. It’s so icky that it’s encroaching on your work life too.

      1. Enhance Your Calm, John Spartan*

        I like it. Thanks! My screen saver is currently “Keep calm because there is nothing you can do about it.” Apply here as well.

    5. Enhance Your Calm, John Spartan*

      Thanks everyone, you’ve been AMAZING. I was just so anxious that MAYBE I’m supposed to be doing something. But I can’t. What happens happens.

      1. LCL*

        What you should be doing immediately is getting your finances in order, for your own sake. Don’t take the scorched earth approach because it will interefere with the financial decisions. Figure out what to do about the credit cards, any debt, any joint accounts, etc. Don’t forget to change your beneficiaries, dependents on your insurance, etc, if needed. Only 1 example-what happens if you close a joint account that is having payments taken out for your car, and the car gets repo’d?

  40. New Job Didn't Work Out After 2 Days*

    Hi everybody…here’s a bit of an awkward situation:

    I’d been in a job for seven years and treated very well, but there was another field that I was always passionate about. I had an opportunity to take a position as a new executive director in that field, and decided to take the chance. I gave three weeks’ notice and said goodbye to staff, other professional colleagues, and a large number of volunteers. I changed my position on LinkedIn, and made the announcement on Facebook. After only two days in the new job, I learned the organization was wildly dysfunctional and running out of money in less than a month! I told my previous boss about it and she offered to take me back. Now I’ve left the new job and am returning to the old job at the beginning of next month. In the meantime, I’m still getting all kinds of congratulations from people via Facebook and LinkedIn (even though I’ve removed reference to the job from both places), and there are a huge number of people who believe I’ve left. How do I handle telling people? I’m obviously very embarrassed about the whole situation.

    1. Artemesia*

      Don’t give this a thought; just say ‘the new job turned out to be quite different from what I expected, so I have decided to return to antiquing teapots’ and leave it at that.

      I wish I had had the good sense to leave when I discovered the job I moved my husband and family for was a financially unstable organization (and I asked all the right questions when interviewed — they lied and it was pre-internet when it was harder to find out these things.) I uprooted my husband’s career and then the company I did it for went under and we were stuck in the new place and I had to hustle to make a career there. (my husband’s career was not mobile so making one move was a real sacrifice — not doing it again)

    2. BB*

      I wouldn’t worry about updating friends and colleagues about it either. Just make sure you update Linkedin (removing the new job completely) and anywhere else online that you need to. People who know you will figure it out sooner or later.

  41. TotesMaGoats*

    About a month ago, I had a 1st round phone interview for what would be a great next step for me and getting me out of a toxic workplace. No calls about 2nd round and I’d given up hope. Got the “thanks but no thanks” email on Monday and saw yesterday that they reposted the position.

    Should I reach out to the hiring manager and express my continued interest? Part of me says yes. Part of me says, “you’ve missed out buddy”. But that’s ego talking. My mom says to email. She’s fairly high up in higher education admin and I trust her judgement.


    1. Elkay*

      This might sound harsh but they rejected you on Monday, and they did that for a reason. They’ve reposted the position because no-one who applied was suitable. They’ve already given you an answer and unfortunately for you it was “thanks but no thanks”.

      1. TotesMaGoats*

        And that was might thought as well! My initial reaction to that suggestion was no, don’t reach out. As a hiring manager myself, if I rejected someone I did it for a reason and would wonder why they would think I’d want to interview them again after rejection. On the other hand, my dad applied, got rejected. Applied again, got hired. Hiring manager told him they should have hired him on the first time around.

      2. Steve G*

        This is one time where it sounds harsh, but it is true. We just hired 2 new people at my job, and one of the runner-ups was awesome and lived near me and is around my age and I totally imagine us being friends, but….the other one had more of a “I take ownership of stuff around me and worry about stuff going wrong” attitude than the runner-up, so…..but she was awesome regardless….and if she reached out to us again, it would go nowhere, unfortunately

    2. some1*

      If you know it’s the same position, and not another opening with the same name, then I wouldn’t. It’d be like contacting a guy who already turned you down on a dating site.

    3. Artemesia*

      I have had candidates do this on a long search and it always baffles me. We said ‘no’. What was unclear about that? It is not as if we were not aware that this person was interested in working here. It is very awkward. The most you can do is an email that thanks them for their consideration and for getting back to you and indicates interest if a future position opens up, but nothing more confrontational like that and certainly not anything that looks like re-applying for the position they just turned you down for.

      1. TotesMaGoats*

        Agreed. Very awkward. I guess I wanted some validation for my original gut reaction to not reach out.

      2. CandyFloss*

        I can think of many reasons why someone would reapply. They have no way of knowing you are still looking to fill the same opening. Perhaps you hired someone who didn’t work out and you are re-opening the search. Perhaps you are adding more widget analysts and this is a new position.

        A lot of people who apply for jobs are doing so because they really need them. Having a little compassion if they err on the side of being overly optimistic wouldn’t be amiss here.

    4. Julia*

      Have you asked for feedback on your interview? I know there some good tips here on how to do that. I agree with the others that it is too soon to reapply.

    5. akl*

      I agree with those saying not to re-apply or reach out specifically on the re-posting of the job, but this could be a good opportunity to respond graciously to the rejection email.

      AMA had a good example – I can’t remember where – when the person responded back very graciously to the rejection email and it left a good impression.

  42. Anon for this*

    So I have a job offer through a temp agency where I want to work but don’t love the hours. I am also waiting to hear from the company I am currently temping at about a job I interviewed for this week (the job itself is unconnected to the agency). I told the agency my reservations about the hours but I like the people. Not sure I can hold them off until I hear from the job I do want.

    How bad would it be to pull out of the job agency offer 3-4 days before I would be starting (it is less than 2 weeks until start now and just got the offer today)? I’m assuming very bad. Plus I’m afraid that they will be doubly mad because I might take a job at the temp place but it isn’t through them.

    Help me.

    1. NOLA*

      Bad idea IMO — you’ll burn bridges. I just experienced this from the other side…I need to bring on a contract project manager through an agency. Made an offer to a candidate and she accepted, but she asked for a start date 3 weeks forward. I agreed. She just pulled out 1.5 weeks later.
      Now I have to start the process over. I won’t consider for a position again. I’m also annoyed with her agency (I realize this is slightly unfair). The agency told me they won’t represent her again as well.
      The impact of pulling out will vary based on the size of your industry and location, but it will have consequences

    2. Dawn*

      That will completely and totally piss off your temp agency. Been there, done that, didn’t get the T-shirt.

      That being said, does it matter to you in any way or in any capacity if you piss off your temp agency? For me, I had good rapport with the employees at the agency, and I only angered the manager at the location I was temping out of- and she was a known nutcase in the first place so it didn’t matter to anyone other than her.

      However if this is a temp agency that you’d ever possibly conceive of working for again, then don’t piss them off!

  43. Anonymous*

    Need some advice please:
    I started a new job about 4 months ago. I like the company and culture and overall like what I am doing. The only exception to this is that I indirectly report to a higher up who I respect but every time I approach him or we have a meeting to discuss our periodic results I am always caught off guard by his questions even when I feel I have planned for what he typically asks. He has a very serious demeanor and overall comes accross as brief and unimpressed by anything. I believe I can learn a lot from someone like him and everyone else in the office seems to like him. Everytime I ask something, I feel my face turning red and like every sentence I speak sounds idiotic. He has a constant expressionless look so I never know how to read his mood. I understand he has high expectations which is fine, everyone in his position does and that does not intimidate me.

    It is worrth noting that I am only a couple of years out of college but have recently held positions in another company where I had high visibility to upper management which included presentations, long conversations and meetings regarding our results that they would in turn present to our board or other leaders.However, as I look back, the difference I feel is that while those managers and the company was dysfunctional, I felt so much more comfortable sitting in a room with them talking about our lack of growth and looming financial disaster. They were good people to talk to and despite the circumstances.

    How can I become more confident when I talk to this person? He is the only higher up that I feel this way around. Every other VP, CFO, or Director I work with is awesome. I need to overcome this shyness or whatever it is if I want to succeed in this role. I have never been in this situation or felt so small when I talk to someone. I don’t think he does this intentionally, he is a nice person, incredibly talented, and well respected. Eventually I want to move on to another role within this organization but I cannot do that if I have a reputation of being shy.

    1. fposte*

      It sounds like you might be thrown by how little feedback you get from him. So don’t worry about impressing him–just focus on making your statements clear and informative and assume it’s fine unless you hear differently. Take more time, think about what you’ll say before you say it, shut up once you’ve asked your question/made your point, and use your thoughtful pauses as a benefit rather than rushing over silence.

    2. ClaireS*

      I have this same problem sometimes. When I get unexpected questions or challenges, you can see my shock, frustration, fear, irritation, insert every other powerful emotion, all over my face and in my body language.

      I’ve actually had convos with my boss about how to manage this better.

      Besides being as prepared as possible, I now give myself a pep talk before such situations are likely to occur. It’s almost like I pre-forgive myself for not having all the answers. I also try to change my outlook from “this a-hole is challenging me” to “this is a unique perspective I should consider.”

      So far, it’s only been moderately successful but hopefully practice makes perfect.

      Also, fposte has excellent advice, as per usual. To build on it, maybe ask for feedback after such a meeting (I’ve done this before too). A day or so after the meeting, say “how do you think I did in that meeting? Did I present what you expected?” You may here “yeah! You were great!”

    3. Reader*

      Agree with Fposte. And I doubt you’ll be perceived as shy if you only have a problem with one person.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      I am chuckling. I have a friend like this. Super-smart but always speaks to the point. Initially, he can be intimidating. He’s actually a very funny, very caring person.

      Try to copy him- be brief, report things without a lot of emotion.

      Retrain your brain that his lack of expression means everything is okay. He is just one of those rare people that are tough to read. If he thought something was wrong he would say so, probably.

      Find someone that is willing to give you some pointers.

      OR find someone that will include you in a casual conversation with him. This is where you piggyback someone else’s good relationship and learn to relax a bit.

      I would not do it all the time, but once in a while ask him “Have I answered your questions satisfactorily?” or in a more casual context “Does that help?”

      Lastly, try to find out something about him, that could be his favorite team or he loves dogs or his grandson just turned two. Find a subject that is comfortable small talk for you.

  44. GrumpyBoss*

    Manager question here.

    Somehow, I’ve managed to avoid the chronic compensation complainer for as long as I have been managing. Until now. I need some advice on how to communicate with him to knock it off, other than “STFU”, because that’s where I’m at now.

    Background: my team is paid very well and are inline with industry averages. I k is we pay higher than our closest competitor. My complainer came in as a manager at his previous job but wanted to go back to being an individual contributor. He was making $20k more than the top end of the range. We were transparent with him on what the job paid before we continued the interview process. He said it was not an issue and agreed to come on for less money than he was making because the opportunity interested him. Within 3 months, he was complaining. I was impressed with his work, so I did something I don’t think was appropriate for someone who hadn’t been there for a year. I fought for a small boost (2.5%). It ruffled a lot of feathers, and I regret doing it. Especially since he was complaining AGAIN after another month. Every one on one is filled with his asking why he can’t make what he did before he came there. And while I’ve never witnessed it, I suspect he is complaining to his peers as well. One recently asked me for a raise, parroting the exact same talking points of my complainer.

    I don’t want to see him quit or feel demoralized, but I am so sick of the complaining.

    1. fposte*

      Possibilities: one, you can just play the safety valve on this and let him play Complaint Radio at you periodically; two, you can say “We’ve done all that we can do for you on this, so it’s not a fruitful way to spend either of our time going forward. The topic can be reopened in a year.”

    2. Artemesia*

      Have you not said ‘Lothar this is not happening. When you interviewed for this job we made it pretty clear that the pay for this role was lower than your previous management position and you indicated it was not a problem. Now I am hearing continuously from you that it is a problem. You are payed more than the industry average for this position and there is no possibility of the kind of raise you are asking for. The constant complaining about this fact of life will not change that. I really don’t want to hear it again. If the pay is not adequate then you need to consider finding another position.’

      Or some variation — but knock it off I don’t want to hear it anymore because this is not changing needs to be communicated. This kind of attitude is also appropriate to note in annual reviews. And of course greasing this squeaky wheel has guaranteed that it continues squeaking — he probably hopes to wear you down.

      1. GrumpyBoss*

        I really wish I hadn’t greased that wheel – because you are right, that is exactly what I did. I convinced myself that I was recognizing his performance, but there is absolutely no way that I would have entertained the idea of a bump to someone who had only been on the job for a quarter if I hadn’t been pestered.

        I have an out-of-band review with him next week where I will make it clear that I will not entertain any further discussion on the topic.

    3. Chriama*

      Unfortunately, because you gave into him once, he believes he can get you to give in a second time. If the first time he complained you’d shut him down, that might have made what you said at the interview true. Now you’re both liars – him for telling you he’d be happy at this salary, you for telling him you couldn’t pay him any more.

      As for what to do, it depends on what you want the outcome to be. He’s already demoralized. If you explicitly tell him he can’t make more than the range for this position, he might suck it up, lower his work quality , or leave. This guy keep imagining what he used to have. He isn’t earning $y where he used to make $x, he’s losing $x-$y every year.

      If your employees are fairly compensated, they may look at other jobs but they probably won’t leave (however, make sure you check those numbers every couple of years!). However, if you pacify him with another raise because you don’t want to lose him, employees are probably going to look for a place where they’re treated more equitably.

      You have to decide who you would rather lose, or if there’s enough raise money that you don’t need to lose anyone, and then act accordingly.

    4. Celeste*

      Well, now you know it was a mistake to go the extra mile for him. Live and learn–it’s a mistake you won’t make again. CLEARLY he didn’t appreciate it.

      My take on it is, if he won’t drop the complaining, then he isn’t a great employee. Period. He’s creating hate and discontent in the ranks, and you aren’t getting forward motion with him in your meetings with him.

      I think it’s time you talked to him one last time about money and say, we will not be raising your pay up to the level you had at OldJob. ***pause*** If he starts in, repeat it, we will NOT. Then tell him you have heard quite enough of this complaint and you don’t want to hear it again. I don’t see how anything you do can demoralize him, when all he cares about is the money. HE needs to decide if he’s in, or he’s out.

      I’m sorry your good worker has turned into this.

    5. Janis*

      OK, I know this guy. No matter where I’ve gone in life, he (or she) has come along with me, like a sticky note stuck to my shoe, and now at last he’s someone else’s problem — Hurrah! Here’s the insight I’ll give you — no matter how much he’s nagging you, he’s complaining to his peers about how great he is, how much he works, how much *harder* he works than anyone else within earshot. (BTW they hate him, or soon will, because what he’s saying to their faces is that he’s better than they are.) He’s also convinced his wife or girlfriend how great he is.

      He’s also having some financial problems — maybe his house is under water, or he overbought a fancy car. No matter what, he can’t get ahead financially and thinks that if *you* would just pony up some more money, he could get ahead of the curve. He never will. He’ll have limited social awareness of how his complaining seems to others. He’ll talk up how hard he works so much that he might even “Stockholm Syndrome” some of his peers into his intervening on his behalf!

      You have to hold your line: “Lothar, this is not going to happen.”

      I’m thinking of one person who did this at a former job. Management gave in, and gave in, and gave in. Until they finally fired him because they could not stand him anymore.

  45. rose*

    I was let go from my job last April. Not being able to secure a perm position, I accepted a temp assignment last month because I needed the scratch.

    I put the job search on hold when I accepted the temp gig, but I’m still getting calls for interviews. My assignment will end in a couple months. When I explain to employers who want to interview me that I’m not available for two months but would be interested, they understandably decline.

    I’m not interested in leaving my assignment early. I made a commitment, I need the reference, and don’t want to upset my temp agency.

    Is it better to do what I’m doing or interview with these jobs on the off chance they can wait to months for me to start?

    1. Elizabeth West*

      Why would the temp agency get mad if you accepted permanent employment? I bet they deal with this all the time. If not, they’re not a very good agency. They can surely find someone to cover the rest of the assignment if you got a permanent job.

    2. Artemesia*

      The whole point of temp work is that it is temp work and a chance for permanent employment takes precedence. I can’t imagine being loyal to a company that offers only a short term opportunity when you need permanent work.

    3. Persephone Mulberry*

      I do not understand why you are turning down the possibility of permanent work in favor of a short term assignment. I appreciate that you want to honor your commitment, but the temp agency will understand (I guarantee it happens every day), and a 3-month assignment is not that strong of a reference.

      I would take all interviews and not mention the duration of the current project. See how the interviews go – you may find a position you absolutely would throw over that temp job for, or you may find an employer who wants you bad enough that they’re willing to wait.

      1. Mints*


        Bailing on the temp agency for no reason would burn bridges, but a permanent job is definitely a reason, and they shouldn’t really be surprised

    4. Lily in NYC*

      We often hire temps for a somewhat longterm assignments (2 or 3 months) and I fully expect them to quit if they get a permanent job while working here. I don’t think twice about it- they need to do what’s best for them and I would never expect someone to stay for the entire assignment and give up the chance at a full-time gig. And we always let them take time off if they have an interview. The temp company is acting in their own best interests, not yours. Do what you need to do.

    5. Chriama*

      I think temp work is understood as less desireable than full-time work. Unless this position is special — it’s giving you amazing work experience, they’re paying you great benefits, there’s a strong possibility of full-time hiring or it’s supporting a critical project that would really hurt the company if you ditched partway through — I don’t think you owe them any more than the standard 2 weeks notice. Check your contract to be sure there’s no penalty, but I think you’d be ok.

  46. Amanda D*

    Does anyone have advice on how to deal with a credit-stealer at work? We have a new team leader at my office who has on a couple of occasions claimed an idea or brainstorm as his idea when it was, in fact, someone on my team who originated it. I suspect it’s not only my team he’s been doing this to. This person is rather highly-placed in the org and I worry that this pattern will lead to problems down the line–everything from a lack of trust in leadership to potential challenges advocating for my team’s ideas and successes.

    Is there a way to call attention to this (either to my boss, other leaders, or to this person directly) without *me* ending up looking like the jerk?

    1. HeyNonnyNonny*

      No advice, just commiserating. I had a boss who would flat-out lie about doing work I had done. She claimed it was because “the clients expected the work to be hers” and she didn’t want to rock the boat and confuse them with telling them it was mine.

      Bright side: All the clients knew I was doing all the work. So maybe your higher-ups aren’t entirely clueless about this guy.

    2. GrumpyBoss*

      Not a lot of advice for you, but people who do this tend to be pretty transparent. It will be realized and seen through by most.

      How to make sure that it is seen through by the people who matter, however, is tricky. I’ve always been passive in these situations. 100% of the time, someone has figured out that Wakeen didn’t do the work, it was me.

  47. Amerge*

    My boss – who is great – is about to go on maternity leave, any day now. And I’m getting put under someone while she’s out that actively doesn’t respect me or my work. There’s nothing my boss can do, it’s a formula for who you get put under while someone is on leave, and she didn’t get to pick. I’m really concerned that he is going to actively undermine me for the next three months in an attempt to push me out. I’ve basically been hyperventilating every time my phone buzzes thinking it’s my boss letting me know that she’s having the baby, knowing that I’m about to lose my biggest advocate. How am I going to survive these three months while she’s out?

    1. Lynne*

      I know this isn’t going to sound helpful, but you just do, day by day. I worked for an active underminer for over a year before a new manager came in. It was awful, but some things helped. I made sure to interact with other people who valued my work, I reminded myself of the good work I was doing and had done in the past, and I tried my hardest to leave work at work. The damage she will do will probably be primarily psychological. No one is going to think you went from being a good performer to suddenly being incompetent at the convenient timing of this person coming in. Also, if she’s as bad as you say – other people probably know she is like this and take her word with a grain of salt.

      Focus on retaining your sanity, and document how you spend your time. I started keeping bullets of my accomplishments each week so my previous manager couldn’t make it sound like I didn’t do anything, and it’s something I still do (under my new, great manager) and it remains helpful! You’ll get through it. 3 months seems like a long time but before you know it your good manager will be back.

    2. Chriama*

      Can you try to cultivate a relationship with someone higher up than the disrespectful_supervisor? Or even at peer level? If you can have valid reasons to communicate with someone else directly it will be harder for disrespectful_supervisor to undermine you to outside observers.

      Also talk to your boss about taking some of her lower level responsibilities while she’s gone. Maybe some inter-departmental communication that she used to handle can now be done directly by you. I assume disrespectful_supervisor has her own job to do, so it’s not like she can handle all of your boss’s stuff herself. Some of it is probably being put aside, right?

      Depending on your relationship with your boss, maybe you could explicitly state your concerns to her and ask for her advice. I’m assuming disrespectful_supervisor is at peer level with your boss. Maybe she’s identified ways to work smoothly with this person.

  48. bathroomfreedom*

    I’m wondering how I should approach requesting my own bathroom key at work. I’ve always had my own, but the building management just changed the bathroom locks and our office now just has a few shared keys for the whole staff (small, but still).

    I have some IBS issues and just generally prefer to know that I can access the bathroom at any time, but feel awkward bringing it up. I suppose I could suck it up and deal with the shared keys, but it causes me a lot of anxiety.


    1. fposte*

      Can you have a quiet word with the office manager to see if there’s a possibility for an individual key given some relevant health issues?

    2. TotesMaGoats*

      I don’t know that this would fall under ADA but a convo with your manager might solve the problem quickly.
      “Hi Boss, I don’t want to get too TMI with you but I’ve got IBS. While I work hard to keep it under control, it can flare unexpectedly. During those times, not having a key immediately available causes me a lot of anxiety. Would it be possible to have a key made for me?”
      Simple and to the point.

      1. Chriama*

        I like this. Just a quiet mention that you need this accommodation. What are your alternatives? If you advocate for everyone getting shared keys and it doesn’t happen (not enough money, security risk, whatever), you have to have this convo anyway unless you can run to the nearest 7-11 each time.

    3. BadPlanning*

      Since it’s a small staff, is there any chance you could advocate for a key per person? I bet you’re not the only one who isn’t crazy about shard bathroom keys. “Hey Boss, I know we have a shared set of restroom keys, but I think everyone would be more comfortable if we could each have a key. Then no one has to worry about finding the shared keys — especially if they need the restroom quickly. For example, if they need to dash between meetings.” And then “oh geez, stomach unhappy, gotta go” is just implied.

      Maybe you don’t have many back to back meetings, but we do! Sometimes you are sprinting to the bathroom before jumping to the next meeting.

    4. Natalie*

      If you’re willing to pay for the key have you contacted the building management to see if you can just buy one directly from them? They’re not typically that expensive – we charge $5 for bathroom keys.

    5. Cath in Canada*

      I’ve visited buildings where the bathrooms are locked but instead of having physical keys, they have a keypad and you can unlock the door with a number combination – so any employee can get in whenever they need to, and the combination can be given to authorised visitors, but random walk-ins can’t get in. I know your office is unlikely to implement this so soon after they’ve just changed the locks, and it would be more expensive, but just throwing that out there just in case it’s helpful.

      I have similar health problems and can’t imagine having to hunt down a shared key at work, so I 100% understand your anxiety. I think asking for your own key would be what I would do if they’re unlikely to go for the keypad system – you don’t have to give any more information than “medical issues”. Best of luck!

      1. Janis*

        Yep, that’s what we did. Just took the two keys (men’s and women’s) to Home Depot over the weekend and had about 20 copies made of each. So stupid. Locked bathrooms. You try being a meopausal women in need of a potty, scrounging around for a key your 25 year old coworker accidentally put in her purse! I should have wet the floor right there in her cube!

    6. Gene*

      I’m one to take direct action myself. I would likely “forget” to put a shared key back at the end of a day, have one made that evening, and put the shared one back first thing in the morning. Odds are no one will notice, but if anyone asks, I’d say that I did it because of a medical problem. If your office is the type where someone would notice that you have a key, they already know you make frequent visits, sometimes at a dead run.

    7. annnnnnon*

      Hey just wanted to throw this out there – i was officially diagnosed with IBS, but had a really horrible time of things and ended up seeing a specialist. They did some tests and it turns out i actually have ulcerative colitus, which is something you can take medication for (and it really helps). also, i have found that by cutting dairy and gluten out of my diet (especially dairy), my bad times have gone waaaaay down. Just food for thought – these things can be greatly managed with a change in diet. Good luck, know exactly how you feel, and i’m sorry you have to go through that. The anxiety only makes it worse.

  49. Jennifer*

    So I am trying to write a cover letter for a(nother dull) clerical job. Problem is, I’m not even a tiny bit interested in what the organization does (engineering–I am literally not smart enough to comprehend what engineers do), and the description of the job is short and deeply uninspiring to write a personalized cover letter saying I’ve always been interested in their organization. It’s along the lines of “perform clerical support for the people who run the office.” It’s not like I need to be an engineer to type all day, but it’s just hard to try to make this sound awesome in a letter. But it’s a rare job that I actually have the qualifications for, so I gotta go for it. I’m just…stumped on how to make it better.

    But since it’s going to engineers, maybe it doesn’t matter? God knows that no engineer I’ve ever known gave a crap about writing and style and personality.

    1. Amanda D*

      Can you focus on the job tasks rather than the organization’s tasks? For instance, if you’re going to be (say) managing an office calendar, can you share examples that highlight your commitment to accuracy and your attention to detail? Since you’ve got the qualifications they’re looking for, I’d focus on that and less on what the organization does. That way you stand out as a great candidate that can do the job, rather than twisting yourself into a pretzel trying to project an interest in the org that you don’t have.

      1. Kelly L.*

        Agreed. When I was searching for similar jobs, in a variety of fields some of which I knew nothing about, I highlighted how I enjoy making offices run smoothly. The way I see it is, it’s the engineers’ job to do engineering (or insert other profession here), and it’s my job to take care of a lot of nitty gritty stuff so they can concentrate on engineering instead of, oh, fighting with the copier. ;)

    2. Alara*

      What makes a successful admin/clerical worker is punctuality, attention to detail, and willingness to jump in and help out. Can you highlight those qualities? Also, if you look on the company’s website, you can probably find some information about their mission, whether it’s making products that improve lives, managing construction work, etc. Connecting to the mission and not the minutia might help you address why this organization.

      And as an engineer, I can tell you that we do care about writing! We may not be the best at it, but we can appreciate it when it’s well done. (Much like a non-technical person can appreciate an iPhone.)

    3. Golden Yeti*

      It’s weirdly assuring to hear that someone else is doing this, too. :)

      Yesterday I applied for a job in a field I have no interest in, just because it’s a rare local job. The funny part was I had to go through one of those fancy online platforms and answer a bazillion questions just to apply for this job in my small town. Kinda funny.

      I didn’t really put much heart into it. But, as I say, it’s kind of nice to see someone else taking an opportunity just because it’s an opportunity.

  50. Mimmy*

    Post #2: I really hate to keep dumping all of my quandaries on you guys, but I really need to vent about where I’m at these days.

    So as some of you may know, I’ve been wavering back and forth about my various career options. I’ve even been volunteering on several committees as a way to meet people and gain new skills and knowledge. I have a bit of a love-hate feeling with my two main councils, but overall, it’s all been really fascinating and invigorating, and has given me at least some idea of where I want to focus my career (I’m just not sure in what capacity). I have been contemplating the PhD, but I don’t think it’ll be a wise move right now.

    I’ve never stopped looking for employment, but my self-confidence keeps getting in the way. I know….only *I* can fix that. Right now, between starting a graduate certificate program shortly, wanting to stay with my councils for the time being, and having been out of the workforce for so long, I think it’s best I seek part-time employment to get my feet wet again as to being in an office environment.

    However, I know that the longer I sit here trying to figure things out, the less employable I’ll be. Again, I’m not looking for you guys to have all the answers–I know a lot of this is self-inflicted (I could write a novel on everything I’ve tried and the reasons I’ve held myself back–I’ve mentioned some of it here before).

    I’ve learned a great deal through AAM, and when I do begin to have success again, I will be here taking in everything you guys say because I’ll need all the help I can get! Right now, I just need some pointers about jumping back into the ring. I know what needs to be done, but taking that first step is the hardest part. I’m not even sure my resume is any good because all of my recent experience is volunteer-based. Is that going to be a deal-breaker?

    Thanks for letting me grump :)

    1. Colette*

      “Get a new job I like” is a big, scary goal, so my advice is to break it up into smaller goals.
      1. Update resume to incorporate the volunteer work.
      2. Start networking with people in careers that interest you, asking questions about what a day on the job is like, what qualifications they look for, and anything else you want to know.
      3. Locate a job posting you’re interested in.
      4. Write a cover letter for that job.
      5. Apply for that job.
      6. Repeat steps 2 – 5.

      You may run into people who won’t hire you because your recent experience is volunteer (hopefully not many, I don’t think it’s that big of a deal), but they’re already not hiring you, so there’s no real down side there.

    2. fposte*

      Is it worth underweighting your safety margin a little? As I recall, you’ve got less pressure because your household is okay with just a single income at the moment–but what would you do if your husband lost his job or couldn’t work? Could you try doing that now?

      1. Mimmy*

        Not entirely sure I understand what you mean by “underweighting your safety margin”. If I’m reading it correctly, are you suggesting I imagine what I’d do if my husband lost his job?

        1. fposte*

          Right–or just do what you’d do if your husband lost his job. Maybe this is a situation where the cushion of not having immediate financial pressure to get a job is allowing you to duck risk you’d otherwise steel yourself up for if you had to, or enticing you to wait for the perfect thing when an imperfect sooner thing might be better. Which is okay if it makes you content and it’s lifelong sustainable, but it always sounds to me like you want to work, and if something (heaven forfend) did happen to your husband’s job, you’d be in a lot better position to deal.

          Just some musing–you know better than I do what your challenges and concerns are.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Why not let Alison help you with your resume?

      That seems to be square 1 of your problem. If you knew you have written the best resume you can given your givens, then you can move to square 2.

      It is very difficult to jump from the starting line to square 23. Much easier to move to square 1 and see what is needed there.

  51. Kimberlee, Esq.*

    Hey AAM friends!

    I’m in a new job (technically started about a month and a half ago, but have only been full-time for a week and a half. Loving it, no regrets on leaving my last job.

    However, my last job has ended up in kind of a lurch (which I fully aknowledge to be their own fault and not my problem): They have like 7 open positions (in an org with only about 28 people), and my position was in charge of most of the frontline hiring stuff (in many cases, all parts of the process up to the in-person interview). I stayed to train my replacement, but she’s awful and it’s become clear that she needs to be fired. Which means that hiring for all these positions is put on hold.

    I’ve been thinking about offering to do some of the hiring steps (initial resume screening and evaluating writing samples/written exercises) as a contractor on the side. My boss (Alison) advises against it but as long as it’s on my own time, it’s allowed.

    I’m very mixed, because I’m really into moving on completely from this other organization and making a clean break, but honestly I could get, like, extortive rates because my former boss really trusts me with the work and is super nervous about having so many positions open (and, otherwise, no real hope to fill them for MONTHS). And I could use that money, especially for a temporary assignment (once they have a decent Office Manager settled in, there’s no reason to think they’d ever need to hire outside help again).

    What do ya’ll think? Any advice? Any thoughts on what I should (attempt to) charge if I did decide to go for it?

    1. Elizabeth West*

      I don’t have any rate advice, but I think that if you decide to do it, I would put a definite time limit on how long you can help them. And make sure you spell out that you’re not available 24-7 or during your new job hours, if that’s the case. Get that in writing, absolutely (in fact, get the rate and everything in writing). Make sure you and they are on the same page. That way, you can help for X amount of time and still move on.

      1. Kimberlee, Esq.*

        Yep, yep and yep. I’d write an extensive agreement detailing everything. And I woud do each hiring round separately, one at a time, so that if I decided I’m done, I’m not obligated to keep working until all spots are filled or anything.

        Availability shouldn’t be an issue, because I’d get everything I need on the front end (job description, list of qualifications, traits they’re looking for, writing sample/employment exercise) and then my “product” would be x number of applicants to advance to phone interviews (which I would not do). So there shouldn’t be an expectation of ongoing contact (and that would definitely be in my contract; thanks for that note, I don’t know if I would have thought to include it).

    2. Jen RO*

      I’d do it, if the money was good and you could make sure it wasn’t taking *too* much time.

    3. Golden Yeti*

      I’d be interested to hear feedback on this, too. My company depends a lot on me, and whenever I leave, a huge hole will be left. I wouldn’t be surprised if after they try convincing me to stay, they propose me doing contract work for them. On one hand, I’d want to make a clean break because the place is toxic. On the other hand, though, it would be extra money, and my student loans are massive…

    4. Mints*

      I’d probably do it for a huge amount of money, and limits on both the weekly time and the long term time. Like 15 hours/week, for 6 weeks, or whatever.
      Also, “huge amount of money” varies, obviously, but I’m thinking I’d demand 3-4 times my hourly pay.

      Lastly, I’m not sure what you want the money for, but it might help to do an automatic pay schedule to pay off debt or vacation or whatever, because it’d be really easy for me to get used to it.

      (Disclaimer: I’ve never done this, but I like imagining it)

    5. Chriama*

      Have you done a basic pro/con list? What’s the worst that could happen if you do this work for them? Contractors set their own times and rates, so if they become too demanding you could just drop them as clients. However, if it would damage your professional reputation this may not be a realistic option. How bad could it get if you got in deep with them? Are you willing to take that on?

      1. Kimberlee, Esq.*

        I do have a basic list that helped me crystallize things. The only (significant) downside is dedicating mental energy to an old job that I want to break away from. I think that if I do weekends only, I wouldn’t be pulling brain-attention from my new job, but that’s something I’m not sure about and would need to find out as I went.

        I have a really hard time imagining this particular engagement affecting my professional reputation either way, and I’d set it up so I could cut loose after each hiring process if I wanted to. It is work I enjoy doing, and would enhance, to a small degree, my skills in that area. But probably not a ton.

        1. Chriama*

          Well it sounds like the risks are low and the potential for reward is high, so I don’t see why not. Definitely build yourself an escape clause and get all the agreements in writing, with signatures from important people. The worst would be your boss bringing you on and some higher-up refusing to pay you *after* you’ve done a bunch of work.
          Probably the most important thing to me in that situation would be to
          a) make sure everyone is aligned on expectations and outcomes (how much time you’ll spend, pay structure, how often they can contact you)
          b) make sure the decision-makers agree to the arrangement
          c) get everything in writing! Not even in a cya way — it’s just too easy to give ourselves the benefit of the doubt when remembering something, and you don’t want to get into a he-said she-said debate.

    6. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Can I weigh in on this, or is that way too meta since I’m the (current, not former) boss involved? I’m here not to convince Kim either way but to flesh out my thinking on it for others who find the topic interesting. (Kim, I have zero doubts that you’ll handle it well either way, whatever you decide to do.) What I told Kim when we talked about it earlier was:

      * Making a clean break when you leave a job has psychic benefits that I can’t overstate. One of the real advantages of moving on from a stressful job is that their problems are no longer your problems. It is hugely liberating to remove the emotional ties to an old job and have their burdens no longer be your burdens.

      * In addition, I think continuing to do some work for the old employer prevents people from becoming fully committed to / a part of their new job, because they still have a foot back in the old organization (and part of their brain, and usually part of their heart).

      * There’s something to be said for not going above and beyond to solve this problem for them, because the more of that you do, the less they will have to solve their own problems, which ultimately is bad for the organization from an institutional standpoint. This is a structural problem that they need to figure out how to solve. Ask yourself how they’ll handle this if you don’t help. They’ll find a way, right? And whatever that way will probably be good for them to get experience in, so that they have a system the next time this comes up.

      That said, more money is nice, and I think Kim’s plan of confining it to weekends is workable and not crazy. I just hate to see people give up the emotional benefits of The Clean Break … but I agree it’s possible that there’s some sum of money that makes that worth the trade-off. (And Kim, if you do this, I hope you figure out what that sum is and get it!)

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Outstanding advice, as usual.

        To me the mental health and well-being component is the make it or break it point. I’d have to say +100 to that point alone.

        Kim, there are two parts to this question, one is having extra income for a bit. The other is helping this former employer.

        If you really want extra income there are a lot less painful ways of getting that income.

        If you really want to help your former employer, then that changes the picture here. Figure out if you really want to help these people.

        It could be that you would like the extra income and this is an “easy” path to that income. If this resonates with you, then start looking around for other ways to earn that extra. There’s more fish in the sea.

      2. QualityControlFreak*

        Your third bullet point is so true, and related to the previous two on so many levels. My current organization is an outstanding employer and I’m completely committed to our mission. I’m a team lead in one area and pushed for cross training, but in the end I just kept making it work … and I was not helping. Early this year I was removed from the equation for a period of time – reasons beyond my control – and they figured out in a hurry that yes, we need cross training! Now I’m back and we’re moving forward in a positive direction, for my team and for the organization as a whole (my team is front and center admin for overall operations; I’m also quality lead for the org – different team).

        I guess what I’m saying is that when I was not there to fix things for them, they found a way to fix it themselves and at least keep it going until I was back in the saddle again. It was an important thing for them, and me, to learn. And it has resulted in us improving our processes and strengthening our overall performance.

  52. Anon1235*

    My manager is out on medical leave for the next few weeks, and I’m the only one left beneath her. This week, I’ve had several large decisions that I’ve had to make in her absence, and her boss is out of the office, but they’re very time sensitive and can’t wait until next week.

    I’m feeling torn about what it is that I should do when I have situations like this. I don’t have anyone to bounce ideas off of, because no one really knows what it is that I do. I think that I know the answer that my manager would make, so it would be easy to make that decision, but in these cases, I disagree.

    What would you do? Do you make the call you think is right and then explain your reasoning later, or do you take the safe route and just defer to what you think your boss would say?

    1. Kaz*

      Why would your manager give a different answer than you would? If you have sufficient experience that you can make this call, but would just give a slightly different answer, I think that’s fine. If your boss has a lot more experience and that’s why she’d call it differently, or if it’s a personality issue, I think she may be annoyed or concerned when she comes back and has to deal with the sequelae of these decisions.

      1. Anon1235*

        We have a similar amount of experience.

        It’s like our company has been invited to participate in a program. This program is open to all our competitors as well. It has the potential to bring us a lot more business, but it also has some risk in opening ourselves up to the competition too much. My boss tends to shy away from anything that would do that, so I think she’d say no. But.. I think that it would be a safe trade-off. And if we don’t participate now, we’ll never be able to. But if we do, then we can always pull out if she comes back and decides not to.

    2. Steven M*

      I’d definitely make the call I think is right. It’s far easier to explain/defend a decision you believe in than one you don’t. Plus, if you make the call wrong on what you think the boss would say, then you also end up with the ‘why would you think I’d do it that way?’ question to answer. Mind reading should not be a job requirement.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      I had a boss that used to tell me to make the decision that would be LEAST hard to undo if it was wrong.

      What I did with that is I looked at options. For example: I must decide between A or B. A was a big commitment with no “easy out” button. B was a more conservative choice but I had several options. I would routinely chose B. I never had a problem with my decisions biting me.

      See, in the end we aren’t paid to agree with the boss, we are paid to do what we are instructed to do.

      That said, if you are going out on a limb, make darn sure you can explain and support every aspect of your decision. Sometimes a good explanation will clear up any tension over a particular decision. Recognize what work will need to be done and have a plan on how it will get done.
      This is no more than what the bosses are doing. Think like a boss. Take responsibility like a boss.
      I have a hunch you are going to be okay on this one.

  53. De Minimis*

    Going to apply to some jobs this weekend [haven’t had time during the evenings this week.] I’m a little anxious. This is the first time I’ve actively looked for a job since I got this one back in 2012. I’ve applied to some federal jobs but those were done in more of a “let’s see what happens” mode, although I’m still really disappointed by losing out on the one with my current employer.

    My wife applied to a job at her old employer [back in our former state] last week and is still waiting to hear. Her former supervisor had let her know about an upcoming opening and is going to be on the panel and has a lot of pull in general. Going to be really hard to extricate ourselves from here [we really really shouldn’t have bought a house, and especially not the house that we bought…] but stuff has not worked out well here. If she gets the job I’m hoping to find something around the same time, I really don’t want to be the unemployed spouse again. I keep reminding myself I’m not the same candidate I was then, with two years of decent experience that can help me in government, healthcare, or in many non-profits, but it’s hard to quit worrying.

  54. Kaz*

    So I finally got my full-time offer at my current job, after being temporarily part-time. My last timecard (which my manager signed off on) was for 82.5 hours – but I was paid for 80 today. So it looks like they consider me salaried. I don’t think my coworkers with my same position are salaried, but am not sure. How do I approach this?

    1. Trixie*

      I’d review any paperwork you have or fine print available online, then speak with your supervisor who might refer you to your HR department. Could be clerical error but easily clarified.

    2. fposte*

      That’s an echo of the salary thing from this morning’s earlier post–it’s something you really want to clear up before you accept, as you now realize. For a start, is there an official posting for the job, and if so, what does it indicate? You can also talk to your supervisor or HR, depending on who seems relevant, and say that it looks from your pay like the position is being handled as exempt, which you hadn’t realized–could the exemption reasons be clarified?

    3. Chriama*

      If you were non-exempt as part time, why are you exempt now? Maybe they’re easier about approving overtime for part-timers because the overall cost is less, but you still need to know this before you work more hours than your company can pay. Talk to your boss! Or, talk to HR!

  55. Anon E. Mouse*

    I’ve been meaning to participate in open thread more – sorry all!

    I was the person in one of the posts last month that thought their department’s VP was giving hints about a layoff. Well, I was laid off, but I’ve found a great gig now and couldn’t be happier. I’m working from home (score!) and full time (yay!) in my field, and for more pay, too. Too many pluses not to pass up.

    My coworker they let go at the same time as me hasn’t been so lucky. He’s still job searching 3 weeks since being laid off, and I just learned today our former company is not only getting a community development award, but they’ve reposted his job on the Careers page. The community development award is laughable given they laid off 20-25 people in our city last month and about 75 people total from the company.

    Has anyone seen employers do that – lay people off and then repost their job for hire? Why would they do that rather than just fire if it was a performance issue? It makes zero sense to me.

    1. fposte*

      Sometimes it’s a kindness, sometimes it’s ducking conversations, sometimes it’s because they want somebody cheaper.

      1. Anon E. Mouse*

        The reason for the layoffs was supposedly financial, but given HR’s director spoke with us and not our supervisors, it was probably a little bit of both the second and third reason you laid out. My boss and his were in his boss’s office when we were escorted out, and they couldn’t even make eye contact with us.

        I just feel so bad for him. My position was completely eliminated from the company (and it was newer – I was only there a year, so it wasn’t a total shock to me, in addition to me seeing the signs coming), but to post something you JUST laid off someone from doing…harsh.

    2. Natalie*

      It could be that they were working on termination, and then layoffs came down and simplified things. That is happening in my office right now. As part of company-wide layoffs, three positions were eliminated in my office, one of whom is a low performer my boss has been managing out for a while now. A couple of weeks later, the other person is Low Performer’s department quit. If Low Performer wasn’t THE WORST, he would probably be offered Quit Guy’s job. As it stands, he will be laid off and then a very similar position will be opened immediately afterwards.

      1. Anon E. Mouse*

        Oooh, that’s tough. Neither of us quit, but he was let go, and then they posted his job this week on the Careers page as if to hire again. We weren’t really sure how people were chosen, but you’d think they’d discuss PIP’s instead of a complete layoff.

        I was never given a formal review since I’d only been there a year before being let go and they moved promotions and review to September (another sign they were struggling financially), so it’s not clear to me if my layoff and the complete elimination of my position was performance or dollar related. I can’t speak at all for my coworker on his situation, and I have read before that a layoff looks better on your resume than being fired, but it’s still a strange situation from my perspective.

    3. Mimmy*

      That happened to me….sort of. My part-time position was eliminated but replaced with a full time position. My notice period was a month; they advertised for and hired my replacement while I was still there! (the replacement started after I left, so I did not meet her). I was the only one let go, which was very strange–I guess they no longer felt I fit in and just wanted to be kind by calling it a layoff rather than a termination *shrug*.

    4. Ann Furthermore*

      I thought that was a legal no-no — you can’t get rid of someone and call it a layoff, but then turn around and re-post the same position.

      About 5 years ago a friend of mine was “laid off” from the Finance department in my company and was told her position was eliminated. Realistically, it was the awful director of that area taking the opportunity to get rid of the people she didn’t like. I work in another area, so I was not privy to the details, but they did post new jobs. But I’d heard they’d had to work quite a bit with HR to make them significantly different enough that they would not be construed as the same jobs being reposted. Or something like that.

      1. fposte*

        As long as they’re not getting rid of people for illegal reasons and they’re not breaching the WARN Act or anything, I don’t know of a law that would forbid it. I can see that it might raise some legal questions–you don’t want to have a massive layoff of the over 40s to hire 20-year-olds for the same job–but the at-will precept applies to groups as well as individuals.

        1. Anon E. Mouse*

          I’ve been looking into it and, unfortunately, it seems they haven’t violated the law with the layoffs. My stat is an at-will employment state. Additionally, the WARN act didn’t come into play because they laid off 25 from our location in one state and about 50 people in other locations. But it’s still shady at best to remove people from positions, especially something like technical writing where you need a specific skill set (and in our organization, there were only 4 or 5 of them), only to repost their job three weeks later.

          1. fposte*

            It’s pretty common in house-cleaning situations, though–they just fire the old team to bring the new ones in. And it’s probably better than being fired for poor performance.

            1. Anon E. Mouse*

              True. He’s able to file for unemployment, and I’m not so sure that’s a possibility with being fired. And they’ve been restructuring other departments, so it’s not too hard to believe they might restructure ours.

      2. Anon E. Mouse*

        From what I could see, the job post they put up is exactly the work he did, so it’s pretty ridiculous.

        We have both discussed it and felt since we didn’t take part in office politics or hang out with the department clique, they thought we would be more likely to let go. (For the record, people in the office clique hung out after work, went to the same gym, etc.) The only person not in the clique they kept does our creative director’s job for him now; every assignment he’s given goes to her to design while his role has now moved into planning, budgeting, and creative project direction.

        Anyway, I’ve brought some of these issues up with someone in our state’s economic development department, so hopefully they can figure out if he was let go illegally or at least put in an inquiry as to how people were chosen to be laid off since it seems a little like it was pick-and-choose instead of performance based or something.

    5. EvilQueenRegina*

      People were laid off in a restructure where I work, and not long after the outcome was known, a few people decided that actually they wanted to leave. One did this pretty much immediately and was replaced with someone being made redundant, but when others left a few weeks later, the jobs were advertised company-wide and the laid off employees didn’t get any priority – in fact, none of the laid off employees got those jobs at all. There was some bad feeling about it.

      I know there were performance issues in the case of one laid off person while another had had a disciplinary. I don’t know why the layoff route was chosen rather than firing. If the rumour I’ve heard about one is true, then that one person should have been fired.

  56. Ann Furthermore*

    Similar to L’s comment above, I have a question about how to deal with something: should I say something, or just deal with it and let it go?

    I’m working on a pretty big, complex project, and I’m the lead person for my area. I work with the application from the front end, and I’m working with the lead developer on the programming requirements we’ve identified so far. Together we come up with the high level design specs, and then he works with one of the people on his team on the finer details.

    I really like this person. We’ve been on the same team for a couple years, but this is the first time we’ve worked closely together on anything, and it’s been great. He is very nice, and incredibly smart, so I’ve learned a great deal from him in just a few months. We traveled together to another office where the end users are, and spent a few days with them hammering out requirements and identifying what programming and development would be needed from him and his team. We got along very well on that trip, and in many cases what he proposed was along the same lines as what I’d been thinking about. In this line of work, if 2 people come up with the same general idea, it usually means that it’s a solid solution and not too hare-brained. So it’s been good all around, except for one thing.

    Any time we need to meet with the users to clarify something, or answer their questions, or talk through requirements, and so on, he’ll always stop by my desk and ask me to schedule a meeting. I find it a tad bit off-putting. He’s got the same Outlook application I do — why do I always have to schedule the meetings?

    He is one level higher than me in the food chain. So it makes me wonder if he asks me to do this stuff because he is senior to me, or if there’s some kind of gender stereotyping going on. Although he is from another country, he has been living in the US for almost 20 years and became a citizen about 10 years ago. Plus we both work for a woman, and I’ve never noticed any issues there.

    I’m inclined to just let it go, since I have a very good working relationship with him overall, and working with him has been a great opportunity for learning more about the technical side than I knew before. But it’s interesting, and I’d like to get someone else’s take on it.

    1. Jillociraptor*

      I’ve often used the “oh, my calendar is up to date so please feel free to send any time that works for you!”

      If you’re the one asking for the meeting, you should schedule it, but you can also set the norm that if he needs time with you, he should just request it.

    2. fposte*

      I would either let it go, or at a quiet moment when you’re working along well together, ask him what’s behind that thought.

    3. HeyNonnyNonny*

      Confession: Outlook terrifies me. I always get an administrative assistant or a coworker to do the meeting setup. He could just be a slight technophobe like me, so I wouldn’t read into it.

    4. OriginalYup*

      Sounds like one of those things that’s not a big deal until one day, you notice it and then you can’t stop noticing it every single time.

      You describe him as generally a good coworker so honestly, it could be a zillion different benign things. Maybe he views you as the “lead” on the user element, and thinks that invites on such should officially come from you to prevent confusion from the attendees. If it’s really bugging you, you can certainly raise it as a curiosity: “You usually ask me to do the scheduling, any particular reason?”

      1. Ann Furthermore*

        Oh, that might be it, OriginalYup. When we traveled to the other office for a working session, we were putting together the agenda. And he made some comment in passing about how I should send it out since I’m the functional lead. So maybe that’s it.

        Thanks! I can always find answers here.

        1. Anonymous*

          Yeah, I bet he either
          a) doesn’t want to be seen as stepping on your toes (sending out meeting invitations implies authority, maybe?),
          b) doesn’t want to/ doesn’t know how to use Outlook.

    5. CandyFloss*

      I work in a very meeting-centric company and depending on the invite list, it can be a massive PITA to find a time when everyone is free. I wonder if that’s a factor in why he doesn’t want to do it himself.

    6. Eden*

      I guess it depends on how much it bothers you, and whether you feel like your annoyance is becoming cumulative. I always feel like it’s better to say something before all those little grains of sand start looking like a mountain, because you do risk looking a little unhinged if one particularly stressful day you suddenly snap at him about something you’ve always seemed happy to do. But this is tricky, because you like him and have a great working relationship–and he is slightly above you, rankwise (this, and the fact that you’re learning so much, would probably be what would keep me from saying anything).

      Do you joke together, or playfully rib each other over anything? If it’s that kind of easy relationship, I would try a little joke, just to call attention to it, but ambiguous enough to be taken as affectionate teasing (“I can come show you how to send those any time”) rather than “Hey, buddy, I’m not your assistant, why don’t you get right on that?” (which in my experience is what will come out of your mouth on the bad day where everything is going wrong and it’s the last straw).

    7. Elsajeni*

      I wonder if he’s actually trying to be sensitive to your schedule by letting you be the one to propose the time first? I’m in a role where I rarely have actual scheduled demands on my time, so when I do have to meet with someone face-to-face, their schedule is almost guaranteed to be more constrained then mine; I’ll often send an email along the lines of “My schedule is very open this week; what time would work best for you?” rather than schedule a meeting for a time that, honestly, I’d just be picking at random.

    8. Student*

      Do you cancel meetings a lot? No-show? Come in substantially late often?

      Do you use flex time very frequently (like, regular weekly or daily reasons to come in at non-standard hours)?

      Those are the top reasons where I try to put the burden on the other person to schedule a meeting. I count on the other person to know if she has a 1-2 meeting that is really likely to go to 2:30, or regularly needs to leave to pick junior up at 4:00 so can’t make a 4:30 meeting. Those kinds of schedule issues may be things that you expect your co-worker to know, because they are so routine for you, but they really don’t stick in other people’s heads that well.

      1. Ann Furthermore*

        This could be the reason if I did those things, but I don’t. The things you cite are huge pet peeves of mine, and people at my company are terrible about cancelling meeting, strolling in 15 minutes late, or just not showing up. It drives me nuts because it’s disrespectful of people’s time and then you waste a bunch more through rescheduling. Most of us work from home one day a week, and it’s always the same day.

        Some others have said that he may be leaving the scheduling to me since I’m the lead person for this area, and I think that might be it. It makes sense when considering some of the other discussions we’ve had.

  57. Jill-be-Nimble*

    Need more temp advice–I know that some people here have really great insights!

    I’m interviewing for a temp job that will start on Sept. 2 that will go through Mid-December to cover for someone’s maternity leave. I’ve been doing temp work for about 9 months now, ostensibly while looking for full-time employment…but I keep getting in these contracts where the timing is never good for getting a “real” position. I’m really ramping up my job search because I want this to be the last temp position I have (should I get it).

    One of the companies I really want to work with just posted a couple of positions that would be great for me, and I’m applying. From what I’ve seen, they have a medium-fast turnaround for hiring people (~1.5 months from posting). I know that all of this is conjecture and nothing is certain, but I want to know how to address this, should I get interviews and/or placed in this temp position. What if I get the temp job and then get a job offer shortly after? Can I quit a 4-month temp position? Am I obliged to stay the whole time and put off a job offer elsewhere? How badly will it reflect on me if I do quit?

    Thanks for any insights you might have!

    1. Kimberlee, Esq.*

      Honestly, I think that you’re free to interview for both, but if you take the temp job, you need to stick with it for the 4 months. It would be really crappy for them to have to do another search, and it would be a major bridge burned with that company/anyone at that company.

      It would be one thing if you needed to quit because of medical stuff, or a personal emergency or something, but not for another job. If you get the offer for the temp job, let the other job know that you’ve got this offer, and see if you can get the other process to work within your timeframe.

      If you think there’s a strong enough chance that you would duck out of this temp job before it’s completed, I just wouldn’t take it. Sorry, I know that’s probably not the answer you were hoping for. :(

      1. Jill-be-Nimble*

        No, that’s exactly the clarity that I need! I was thinking along those lines as well. Thanks; I appreciate it! I was wondering if it was possible to say something about just being transparent about my job search and that I would work with them to make everything jibe–that would have worked at my current position (not needed for a specific duration), but I think that the maternity leave position is a different story.

        I think I’m going to try for both–if nothing else, maybe the company I want to work with will either let me start later or will come back to me if something else opens up.

        1. Chriama*

          Someone else just asked a question in this open thread about looking for full time work while temping, and the consensus was that people understand that full-time work with its job security and benefits plan is understood to be desireable to part-time work. If you’re being assigned to a critical project you obviously don’t want to leave your company in the lurch. However, the fact that you use the term “temp” and not “contractor” makes me think it’s lower skilled work. In that case, why not leave?

          1. Jill-be-Nimble*

            Argh, I wish I had seen this earlier. It’s temp work because I’d be filling in for someone on maternity leave–but I’d be assuming all of her duties as a copy editor at a magazine while she’s gone. I’m going through a temp agency and being paid an (admittedly small) hourly wage. I tend to agree more that I would be disrupting them if I dropped out suddenly, but I’m going to apply to all the positions I want and see what kind of vibe I get in the interview. Thanks for the suggestion!

            Do you have an idea of the date for the Open Thread where people discussed this? I tend to only follow them sporadically and miss the good discussions.

          2. Kimberlee, Esq.*

            I think general “temping” is different than “taking a specific role for a specific period of time.” There are lots of places that use temp workers, and have a good system for training them, and can easily deal with different workers coming in on different days.

            Covering maternity leave generally means that the employer is specifically screening for a certain set of traits, and for a certain timeframe. If you were stuffing envelopes or doing data entry for a month here and there, that would not bother me. But if I went through the trouble of hiring you specifically for a 3 month period to cover a maternity leave on my team, and you bailed, I would consider it to be extremely unprofessional and not only would not work with you again, I would probably be reluctant to continue working with your agency (because they should also be working to ensure that their people understand the commitment level I’m looking for on any given project).

            1. Chuchundra*

              I think that’s incorrect. No matter what the temporary person’s role in your organization is, they’re still a temporary worker. You can’t reasonably expect that someone in a low-paid, temporary job with no benefits to give up an offer of a full-time, permanent position because it inconveniences you.

              If you really need that role filled for the specified time period, you should incentivize it as such, with a formal contract and a completion bonus.

  58. Exhausted Anon*

    Just need to vent and hang my head in shame.

    Been working on a project all week that’s kept me up till midnight every day (the team I’m working with has been working even more than that). I had a meeting this morning about something completely different and I just lost it. Not in a “went postal” way, but my words were harsher than they should have been and I wasn’t as professional as I normally am. Please tell me that this is going to be OK, once I get more sleep and less stress.

    1. Kelly White*

      It will be ok. People know when you aren’t at your best, and make allowances.
      If you think you need to apologize to someone, that can go a long way, too.

    2. Mimmy*

      Absolutely! Go back to them later today or on Monday, apologize for coming across harsher than intended, and explain that your project has had you on edge all week and that you’d just hit a breaking point. I think these things can happen even to the best of us.

      Been there, done that…just be professional, don’t make it a big thing, and be kind to yourself :)

    3. Lo*

      Congratulations, you are a human being! By that I mean–you’re under stress, you’re tired, and it came out in a meeting. Now the best way to deal with it…deep breaths, sleep in tomorrow if you can, and do whatever you need to do to take care of yourself. Do you do yoga, or know other deep breathing kind of stuff? Maybe just taking a small walk, getting outside and away from everything. Take care of yourself! And remember–it’s going to be okay!!

  59. super anon*

    Hi open thread! I have two questions for you (if that isn’t too much).

    1. What is the proper etiquette on name misspellings in the workplace? I have a common name with a less common spelling (one N instead of two) and people often spell my name wrong when they email me. Normally I don’t mind as my name isn’t the norm, out of my 3 supervisors only one can correctly spell my name! I have been with my office for a year, and the two supervisors I interact with the most can’t spell my name, even when they’re replying to emails I’ve sent them, which include my name correctly spelled in my signature. I feel like if my boss can’t even be bothered to spell my name right, I really can’t be that memorable/valuable to my workplace. How do you suggest handling misspellings of names in the workplace?

    2. Is an employment gap a big deal if you were going to school full time during that period? I’ve elected not to extend my current contract without anything else lined up as I can financially afford it, but I worry that the 4 month gap between my last employment and my degree completion date would be a problem for employers and signal to them that I am unemployable and a bad bet to hire.

    1. fposte*

      1. I know opinions differ on this one, but I vote for letting it go and not worrying about it unless it’s wrong on something official. People misspell everybody’s name–you do it, I do it–and they don’t check .sigs before they respond. It’s not likely to be a reflection of how you’re regarded in your workplace, and if it is, that problem isn’t going to be solved by getting them to spell your name right. If you were staying there, I might mention it in the annual review (“Just FYI, because I don’t want there to be a problem with the official records–I’m a Jeannette with two Ns and it’s getting spelled with one a lot.”) But otherwise I’d ignore it.

      2. It’s not going to speak immediately for itself, since you were already at school while you were working before rather than this being a situation where you left a job to start school, but it’s pretty easy if you’re asked to say that you just wanted to concentrate on school for the final push.

      1. super anon*

        In regards to the name thing, I think it just bothers me because there’s been other indications that my boss knows absolutely nothing about me at all even though we work very closely, and I touch base with him multiple times a day on various projects. There’s also the fact that he has drilled into me that it is absolutely imperative that I spell the names of our email recipients correctly and use their preferred names when possible, and yet I don’t have the same courtesy extended to me by either of my supervisors.

        Luckily, all of my official documents are correct, so this is more of a personal grievance than anything that would effect me officially.

        1. Chriama*

          Yeah, it sounds like the issue is more your relationship with your boss. I don’t think getting the name thing solved would give you much satisfaction. It’s a little hypocritical that he would say that to you while not paying attention to your own name spelling, but you’re internal, not a customer.

    2. HeyNonnyNonny*

      Yeah, I have an archaic version of a common name. People always misspell my name or call me the wrong thing. I just go on signing my emails correctly and not saying anything. When people realize their mistake, they are mortified, so I don’t think it’s an issue of not caring. I’d try to focus more on the rest of the emails: Is your boss appreciative, polite, and kind?

      If it really bothers you, you could always frame a correction in terms of wanting to make sure official paperwork is correct.

    3. Anonymous Educator*

      Perhaps you can indicate on your résumé that you were going to school full time instead of just leaving the four-month period blank?

    4. BRR*

      I have a non-traditional spelling and I learned to let it go a long time ago. My boss who is hyper accurate with writing got it wrong half of the time until I was about four months in.

    5. Jillociraptor*

      RE: 1, isn’t that so annoying! It’s a tough call because on the one hand, IT’S RIGHT THERE, COME ON! But on the other hand, probably your managers would be mortified to realize they’re doing it! Sometimes things go straight from brain to page without you really seeing them. I wouldn’t read anything meaningful into it.

      My employee has a name with a less-common (but not uncommon) spelling. Think Ashlie instead of Ashley. One of our colleagues consistently spells it incorrectly…which led another to ask me if I was sure that it was spelled Ashlie. ??? So if you get to a weird place where LOTS of people start misspelling your name because your manager or someone you work really closely with does so, then you might want to address it.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      The spelling thing will eat at you if you let it.

      How’s your humor?

      If you have to email one of the neglectful supervisors can you say “Hi Bobb!” or “Good morning, Jann”. Then sit back and wait.
      Bob: “There is only one B at the end of Bob!”
      You: Oh, you mean single letters just like MY name? I am seeing some extra letters in my name here so I thought I would share them.”

      **only works if you know your bosses.

  60. typo drama!*

    I sent this question to Alison, but I am pretty desperate, so I am just going to post here.

    I applied for a high visibility communications role via LinkedIn. As of now, there are 200 applicants (posted a couple of weeks ago). Scary, let me tell you. The job looks like it could be a dream job for me! I don’t have the strongest background, in a traditional sense. Anyway, because I am so intrigued by the position, I emailed the hiring manager/job poster at their work email, which I looked up. I sent a complete resume (more details than the LinkedIn profile) and real cover letter, and offered to send writing samples. I was surprised that the hiring manager responded the same day, saying he’ll contact me next week (which is now this week) if I am shortlisted.

    I responded to his response this week, to remind him of me (since there are 200 applicants!). I always proof these types of emails three times! Well, I looked in my Sent folder the next day. I had 2 typos in my short email! I must have been exhausted or distracted or something not to catch those typos. :( Needless to say, he didn’t respond to that and I have not been called in for an interview.

    Would you consider someone for a communications role who sent you an email with two typos? Please share your thoughts!

    1. fposte*

      Depends what they were. And since there’s nothing you can do about it now, I’d say your choice is to let it go or let it go. Up to you which one :-).

    2. CommDirector*

      I’m a Communications Director and while I wouldn’t love an email with typos, it wouldn’t be a dealbreaker. As long as all the other materials you’ve submitted are good.

      Following up to point out or correct the mistakes would just make it worse. Sit back and hope for the best!

      1. typo drama!*

        Wow, that’s a relief. Thank you. Do you think I should email some writing samples without being invited to do so? I’m so itching for this particular job! And I’m not working.

        1. Anonymous Educator*

          You should definitely not email writing samples without being invited to do so. At this point, the hiring manager has your LinkedIn application, your separate résumé, and two emails from you.

          I think the ball is really in his court at this point, and if you send him anything else unsolicited, you could easily go from being a promising candidate to being the “annoying” candidate in his book.

          1. fposte*

            In fact, I’d say in general, don’t email a hiring manager just to remind them if they’re still within the promised timeline. That’s got more risk of annoying than chance of helping.

    3. BRR*

      I wouldn’t consider it a deal breaker but it probably doesn’t help. The bigger issue is you circumvented the hiring process and that risks annoying the hiring manager. Do not contact them again, if they want you they will let you know.

  61. AnonyMostly*

    I just got a job offer, pending a background check. I was arrest years ago, completed a diversionary program, the case was nolle prosequi. Also because of the arrest cps was involved in the case. The case was unsubstantiated and closed- (at the time of the arrest the police made it seem like formality –and I remember him actually saying he didn’t have to file it-but he did.)
    Anyway under the laws of my state I can swear under oath that I was never arrested or convicted/found guilty of a crime. *this statute was also on the background release form I signed, right underneath the question have you ever been found guilty or convicted of a crime.* The job is working in a state agency w/kids. There was another question asking if I had been involved with cps and I responded no as well. My thought at that moment as I checked “no” was that the cps case was connected to the arrest and that was behind me.

    The background check came back and the hr person called me and said I see that you were arrested. I explained to her that I was told back when I completed the diversionary program, all of this would be removed if I had no further incidence in so many years. She then asked me if I could write a statement explaining what happen. I agreed because, of course, I want to prove my innocence. I was little emotional because of the nature of the incidence. She sounded very caring. I even volunteered to get a police copy and a court copy. When I went to the PD the clerk told me it was nolle prosequi and she couldn’t release any information without reason, and even that would require a lot, she further said “tell them pull it, nothing is there” But of course, I wanted to prove my innocence.
    I went to the courthouse same response. The clerk at the courthouse also gave me pamphlet that showed that explained how the records are stored and kept based on convictions etc and for how long they are kept. As my record would have gone to central processing years prior. The pamphlet even described under what conditions (time frame and disposition) the clerk office and central record centers would make a response of “no public record”

    So I’ve had a couple of days to think on this. And I feel like this agency violated me. I feel like all they saw was the arrest. And maybe even knew that it was nolle prosequi. And unknowingly, I gave them more ammunition to disqualify me by writing a statement that admitted an arrest and cps involvement.

    The hr person, had called me back later that day after I emailed her my statement. She asked why I answered “no” to cps involvement. I explain, while NOW I do see them as 2 separate incidences, at that moment I thought it was all 1 case. And that everything was expunged from my records. So I look further into the cps issue and I am supposedly protected under a different statute that states, ” unsubstantiated cases are erased after x number of years.” I was never put in the registry or anything like that. But this one seems to be carrying more weight because I admitted in a sense that I lied-because it’s in my statement I wrote to them. The fact is, from the moment I received the final letter from the court x years ago, I just wanted this all behind me and I thought it ALL was behind me.

    I’m waiting now for them to pull the case (that supposedly has nothing there) and compare it to my statement. I also learned that the EEOC says they can’t disqualify me, the only exceptions that are given is if I was trying to go into law enforcement. There is one part of the EEOC, that I’m unclear about because it states by “nature of employment” I maybe disqualified. Under a different subset it also states that “in no case may records of arrest -w/o conviction -erased be used, distributed or disseminated by the state or any of it’s state agency for employment.
    Again the only exception I could find was for law enforcement.

    All I wanted was a better paying job in my field. I really want this job but at the same time I’m feeling uneasy about the scrutiny. I feel like a old wound has been opened. I can honestly say that I did not consider myself as having a cps involvement because the arrest (in my opinion) was unjustified. We were herded into the family court where we met with arbitrators who said you need to do x,y,z and then you’re be fine. I just didn’t think it was 2 separate issues. Maybe I was being a little naive and didn’t want to open an old wound again.
    I wasn’t even aware that I didn’t have to allow cps to investigate the case but, of course, innocence can only be found through investigation.
    So now I wait for answer from them…

    1. fposte*

      Oh, this sounds like a mess; I’m sorry. To clarify, you’re talking about your state’s EEOC, right? (The federal EEOC, they have no *law* that says you can’t be disqualified for criminal backgrounds–they have guidance, which employers are not legally required to follow.) Without really knowing your state’s laws and the context if the part you refer to, we probably can’t say whether they abided by it or not, but jobs working with vulnerable populations get a lot of slack. If the sticking point was that you stated you had had no CPS involvement, for work with kids, when you had had such involvement, the failure of the records to be erased as per statute probably isn’t going to help you.

      You can probably file a complaint, and you may try talking to a lawyer, but it’s not likely that anything would happen that would get you the job. I’m sorry.

      1. AnonyMostly*

        Yes, this is my state EEOC statutes.

        I’m going to let it go. What it will be, will be. I just had to vent a little.

        1. fposte*

          Understandably–it seems like a very frustrating situation. Good luck to you in moving past it.

  62. The Maple Teacup*

    I’m interviewing for a new job and have gotten through the first round of interviews. The salary range for the job is $39500 to $45000. If things keep going well, what number should I say at the start of salary negotiation? The lowest end of the salary range isn’t worth it for me to change employeers.

    1. Ash (the other one!)*

      Well, hopefully the employer will be the one to start the conversation and offer you a number. Then you can determine if to go higher and how far…. You’re only through the first round, though, so don’t start counting your chickens…

      1. The Maple Teacup*

        No chicken counting! But I don’t want to be taken off guard and say the wrong thing because I wasn’t prepared.

    2. BRR*

      Don’t say lower than you’d accept. If you won’t leave for $41k don’t say $41k. Then maybe pad it for when they counter.

      1. The Maple Teacup*

        I’ve heard suggestions from my parents that you should start negotiating higher than what you will actually accept. Say, $44k when you’re actually aiming for $42k.

        I want 100k but I’d have to kill a few directors first. :)

    3. LAI*

      I’m probably a terrible person to answer this question because I never negotiate, but since there is a posted range, I’d look at how qualified you are within the full scope of the job description. For example, if you have multiple years of experience doing exactly this work and meet every one of their criteria and would be able to walk in and start doing the job well immediately, then I’d say you could ask for the top end of the range.

    4. Mena*

      As with any negotiation, decide where you want to end up FIRST. Let’s say in this case, $43,000.

      If you want to end up at $43,000, I’d start by asking for $45,000. You need to leave room to appear flexible and send a message that you’re willing to compromise without doing yourself a dis-service or leaving money on the table.
      Good luck!!!

    5. Chriama*

      Yeah, I’d start with the lowest amount you’d accept + 5-10%. Make sure you check out the benefits (I hear healthcare is a biggie in the US) that come with the salary before agreeing to any offers!

  63. Kirsten*

    I work in health care in a field that is very specialized- facilities usually only have one person in my profession, and often not even that. Yesterday the facility where I’ve wanted to work for pretty much my entire career just posted an opening. I didn’t figure I’d ever be able to get in there, because the person who currently works there has been there for 15+ years and is far from retirement, but apparently there is too much demand for only one person to cover everything, and the facility has approved a second position. This is so exciting, because I think/hope I’ll be a pretty strong candidate, having worked at a similar facility before and having certifications that go above and beyond the requirements.

    For the last few years I’ve been doing contract work in my field, and in June I added some on-call work in mental health through the hospital system in my area. Should I include the on-call position on my resume? On the one hand, it is the only mental health work I’ve done since working at the facility similar to the one where I’m applying, so it would show that I’ve been keeping those particular skills relevant. (This position would involve mental health, as well as several other medical specialties.) On the other hand, I don’t want to look like a job hopper by trying to leave a position I’ve only had for a couple of months. I think I can explain it well enough, since it’s something I picked up to supplement my contract work and essentially involves me filling in for others when needed, generally no more than 8 hours a week. The newness of the job doesn’t discourage me from applying to this one; I just can’t decide whether to put it on my resume (or even application- would I have to put it on there too?). Thoughts?

    1. Dawn*

      Put it on there and put a little line by it that says (on-call as needed) or whatever.

      Honestly in every resume I’ve ever looked at when looking at the dates for jobs if there was something weird or out of place I’d just ask about it in an interview. So for you, if your resume looked like “Current job (April 2012-present)” and “Mental Health Job (on call as needed) May 2014-present” I would either understand immediately that it was a side job or if I had further questions, ask about it in the interview.

      As long as you have a good steady history of staying at a job for a period of time I don’t see how a super part time job taken in addition to a full time contractual position would look like you were job hopping.

    2. Gene*

      On-call is so common in health care that I don’t believe it would cause any raised eyebrows. The question you are likely to get is, “Do you intend to continue in the on-call registry if we hire you?”

      I’d put it as “On-Call Teapot Therapist: Date to present”

  64. Jillociraptor*

    I really like my manager personally. Professionally, we struggle. We have different decision-making and communication styles, which is a big part of that challenge, but there has also been a pattern of situations where I felt like she’s just not in my corner in a way that really harms my ability to do my job. (Things like: assuming that I’m withholding from her or colluding against her with other teammates, criticizing me for having the “I can do X or Y, but not both” conversation, not seeing my perspective in a situation where many were at fault, snapping at me when I questioned a decision)

    Several weeks ago, I brought this feedback to her, with several specific examples, hoping to clear the air and move forward, and she treated it as a complete non-issue. Like, she was just completely not concerned that I am really struggling, feeling disrespected, and pretty strongly considering seeking another job over it. I’m a really strong performer, from her reviews, so I don’t think this was coming from a place of “Good, I hope you get a new job so I don’t have to find a way to counsel you out,” but she’s very indirect so maybe it is? I’m feeling pretty down about it.

    Any advice?

    1. Adam*

      Normally I’d suggest trying again to have an open conversation with her, but it sounds like she’s just not receptive at all that your struggles and her interactions with you might be at least slightly connected. Is there someone above her you can try talking to? My organization provides a forum for giving feedback on managers anonymously. Does yours have something setup like that?

    2. Chriama*

      Well you’ve tried the open conversation and she isn’t having any of it. The only thing left is to maybe point out specific situations in the moment instead of trying to have a ‘big picture’ talk? Hindsight is always seen through rose-colored lenses becuase things usually turn out ok, but maybe if you can say in the moment “your behaviour right now is harming me in these ways”, that might make it more real for her. To be honest though, it doesnt’ sound like she’s the right manager for you.

    3. Izzy Leighgal*

      Jill, you and I may have had the same manager. Based on my own experience, I see a few options for you in this case:

      1. Go with your gut and start putting feelers out regarding a new role. If possible, start with your own HR department to see if there are internal opportunities elsewhere in the company. My manager never changed – she was very stuck in her ways. If you think your manager can be coached – either subtly by you or overtly by her own manager, you could consider sticking it out. This manager seems like she is highly insecure (i.e., assuming malice on your part, criticizing your solutions, etc). It’s sometimes easier for you to change jobs than for your manager to change a deeply-ingrained character flaw.

      2. As another poster said, speak with her as in the moment as possible. Identify the SBI. (Situation, Behavior, Influence) i.e.:

      Situation: “Just now, when we were in X meeting…”
      Behavior: “…you mentioned that Y…”
      Influence: “..and that causes me concern, because Z.”

      Above all else – document everything (and keep it on an external hard drive or cloud drive). Conversations, feedback, notes, etc. I know it’s work, but if you ever have to defend yourself – like in your next review – there’s a history to back it up. Good luck to you!

  65. Adam*

    I’m sure Alison has covered this at some point but I couldn’t find it so…

    I’m in the process of job hunting and I don’t like my current job title for my resume. It sounds pretty basic/unimpressive and doesn’t really reflect my actual duties all that well. Fortunately, there has been movement to give me a new updated job title! I’ve discussed it with my manager, and I like the proposed title change a lot more than my current one. My manager signed off on it, and then forwarded it to our department director for her approval. In fact, she (my director) was the one who initiated the title change to begin with as part of our annual performance review/job description update process and the new proposed title came from her. So really all that needs to happen now is for HR to finish up whatever process they have to get it on the books.

    Should I use my new title in my job hunt, even though it isn’t a done deal just yet? There’s no telling when our HR department will get to it and I can’t imagine it merits a high priority. I’d really like to update my resume and can’t really put off applying to jobs I find right now. I know a lousy job title probably won’t break a resume, but my current one certainly isn’t helping and I need all the assistance I can get.

      1. Adam*

        Thanks. That’s what I figured, but thought I’d ask anyways. Patience is a virtue, but it’s not one of the fun ones…

        1. OriginalYup*

          You can address it in cover letters to any jobs that you’re applying for in the interim, if that helps. “In my current role as Teapot Handler, I’ve achieved ABC Impressive Things and routinely handled XYZ Tasks That Belong to the Better Title.”

          Hopefully the title timeline will progress sufficiently sothat you can bring up the better title in interviews: “Actually, my title was recently changed to Supreme Teapot Master Extraordinaire to be reflect the responsibilities I’ve managed for the past two years.”

          1. Adam*

            Thank you! That seems like a good way to handle it.

            Also, my title change just went through, so problem solved!

    1. LAI*

      Hmm, I guess I have a different perspective than others who have responded to this. In my role (university student affairs), people have an official payroll title which is usually something like Administrative Analyst III or Student Affairs Officer III, etc. — I’m not even sure what mine is, to be honest. Then there is the actual title which describes what you do, like Academic Advisor or Graduate Coordinator, etc., and there has usually been some flexibility there. In most of my roles, I’ve been able to choose my title. In my field, no one would really know or care if you created your own title to list on your resume as long as it was a reasonably accurate description of what you do.

      1. Adam*

        That’s interesting. Is that perhaps because in a university setting many of the titles seem more like achieved designations rather than actual job titles (Professor, Dean, etc.)?

  66. Beth Anne*

    Has anyone ever worked 2-3 part-time jobs verses 1 full-time job? I’m leaning in that direction right now as I have found a few bookkeeping opportunities that are only part-time but I’m thankful for the experience. I kind of like the idea of doing it even though I won’t get any benefits.

    1. Adam*

      As with most things it has its pros and cons.

      – Depending on your assortment of jobs it can keep you from getting bored at any one job since there may be more variety, say if you do bookkeeping a certain amount along with a job in retail or such. This is assuming you actually like all the jobs to a degree.
      – If you’re not looking for a lot of responsibility in many part-time setups you probably won’t have quite as much to stress over.
      – When you decide it’s time to leave for whatever reason you probably won’t have to think about it as much and won’t feel conflicted doing so.
      – If you’re hoping to meet more people, this could provide a great avenue for that.

      – Pay/benefits may not be that great.
      -Your schedule is almost guaranteed to be offbeat and depending on what jobs you have may change up on a regular basis.
      – Can be exhausting with the little things like extra travel time between work locations.

    2. Stephanie*

      I did it once a summer in college. I worked about 20 hours at a lab and then 30-40 hours doing retail. It was kind of exhausting. Luckily, my lab boss was pretty understanding (as he said he could only hire me part-time to begin with). Main drawback were the hours–the lab job was during first-shift business hours, but retail was…well, it was retail. So I’d sometimes have to close and leave work at 11 pm…to have to be at the lab by 9 am the following morning. The jobs weren’t near each other either, so I did spend a lot of time commuting.

      One thing–watch your tax withholding (if you’re in the US). If you don’t have enough withheld from both jobs, you might owe as the IRS will tax you assuming you just have one income (versus two or three).

    3. Not So NewReader*

      I’m doing it, now. Not by choice, I assure you. I will not sit home but FT jobs here are still kind of tough.

      I have to say, I love it. It’s been so interesting and I have met so many cool people. I could live the rest of my life like this and be very happy.


      I have no retirement and my income is no where near what I think it should be. And, yeah, those are biggies.
      If you do this, set goals and have a purpose for each choice that you make. Be deliberate.
      I would never think of this as a long term plan.

  67. Katie NYC*

    What’s the dress code for a woman interviewing at a start-up? I’ve always done suits for interviews – even if I knew the office culture was a bit casual… but startups are really casual. I had one interview, and all my interviewers were in jeans. The suit made me feel out of place. Thoughts?

    1. Beth Anne*

      All the offices where I live tend to be SUPER casual and I usually will wear a dress with a cardigan or black pants with a nice shirt and a cardigan…I feel like it’s not as overwhelming as a power suit.

    2. Helka*

      If the suit makes you feel uncomfortable enough that it’s going to rock your interview cool, then you might step down to slacks and a blouse. It’s still pretty dressy, especially if you accessorize right, but it doesn’t mismatch quite so heavily as a suit when everyone around you is in jeans.

      1. Lynne*

        I think it depends on how you feel in a suit. If you have a suit that you wear that makes you feel confident and smart and like a great fit for the job, then you won’t be overdressed, no matter what they’re wearing. But if not, then I’d go for something like dress slacks and a cardigan. I am a big fan of dressing in such a way that I don’t look overdressed but instead makes others feel underdressed (because I am so confident in my dress). If you get what I’m saying. :)

        1. Lynne*

          Side note: when I interviewed for my job (not a startup, but a major outdoors retailer where the unofficial uniform is jeans and a plaid flannel) I wore a dark grey sheath dress (not unlike this: but not shiny with a lighter grey cropped jacket over it. Definitely more dressed up than any of my interviewers, but it helped me feel confident and put together, and I got the job. :) Good luck!

    3. TotesMaGoats*

      I’ll freely admit that I don’t know much about the start up world and interviewing there. That being said I’d lean away from the suit and opt for a dress. If you are going to do pants or skirt, you might as well do a suit.

    4. Julia*

      I have a green/black sheath dress and black suit jacket I wear for when I’m interviewing at places that I know aren’t super formal. I’m all for wearing what makes you feel comfortable and is professional.

      1. Mints*

        Same. My “casual” interview suit is a dress (medium blue, just below knee) and a black jacket. Actually, the jacket is slightly casual, too; I think it’s cotton. The rest is regular conservative black leather

    5. Jen RO*

      Don’t wear the suit. Go for slacks and blouse, or a dress – not more than business casual. I don’t think interviewing in a suit would *hurt* you, but it might raise some questions regarding your fitting in with the company culture (you might be seen as “too stuffy”).

      1. Katie NYC*

        Thanks guys – I do feel comfortable in suits, and it’s my interview standard, the position I’m applying for is a client services position, and I’d be working with clients from my current, conservative industry. People wear suits everyday in this sector. So do I demonstrate fit with the startup, or do I demonstrate fit with the client?

        1. Dawn*

          Demonstrate fit with the client. If this was a tech start up where the CEO is frequently pictured in jeans and a polo shirt my advice would be totally different. But if, in your new position, you’ll be running around in Professional Business Attire, then that’s what I advise you to wear to the interview.

    6. Stephanie*

      Would it be really awkward to ask? I suppose it would depend on the startup, but if it’s one where they really embrace the hoodie-and-jeans ethos, a suit could show you’re a poor fit or too tied to a corporate mindset. If I think an office is more casual, I usually wear a sheath dress and a cardigan.

    7. Audiophile*

      The job I just started, has a pretty casual atmosphere, despite being affiliated with a church. I wore the same suit to both interviews, but wore different tops. First interviewer – manager – was wearing a jacket but casual pants. Second interview – 3 people – men were wearing casual dress shirts and woman was wearing casual shirt.

      Now that I’ve started, I’ve noticed that they dressed it up a little for my interviews, manager has worn jeans several days and casual tops. I’ve started buying pretty casual tops but I’m not going to go down to jeans, that’s too casual for me. I wear jeans on the weekend, I couldn’t go into work that way. Nothing wrong with anyone who does, but for my own comfort I can’t do it.

      I think you could wear a suit, pair it with a casual-ish top. The only time I didn’t wear a suit to an interview was for retail store of large “fruit” tech company and that was because I was told several times: “we’re casual, come in jeans.” I still felt very uncomfortable.

  68. perebe*

    Does anyone know what types of jobs are out there that involve problem solving? I’m a relatively recent college grad, so I’m still at that stage where I’m a little confounded as to what I want to do with my life. I guess I’m looking for inspiration when seeking out positions because I’m not entirely sure what to look for. I’m a good writer, a fast reader, but I also have a liberal arts degree that I’m not always sure how to translate into something constructive or beneficial to a company when they’re looking for more technical degrees. Any help or advice would be appreciated!

    1. Ash (the other one!)*

      Lots of things deal with problem solving — law (policy advisor, lawyer, legislature); medicine, heck, most things. I think you need to narrow it down a bit more to what you enjoy and what you don’t…

    2. Anon E. Mouse*

      Do you have any interest in SEO? I work in SEO for a marketing firm and love it. It gives me a good chance to write and problem solve on a daily basis. I also have a background as a freelance writer, copywriter, and experience with Google Analytics and AdWords. You’ll use writing and problem solving if you pursue work with AdWords. Please let me know if you have any questions!

    3. Anonymous Educator*

      I know this answer may not be the one you’re looking for, but, in my experience, almost any kind of office or school job (those are the two types I’ve had) can involve problem solving.

      If you’re an administrative assistant, you can be a problem-solver. If you’re a receptionist, you can be a problem-solver. God knows I solved a lot of problems (and made systems more efficient) when I was in those types of roles.

      1. Chriama*

        I agree that “problem solving” isn’t enough to make a job decision on. Also, you probably won’t be solving any high level problems for the first little while in any career. Maybe narrow in on what kind of problems you like to solve, or what kind of industry you’d like to work in?

    4. Jen RO*

      I do lots of problem solving in my tech writing job! It’s one of the things my boss appreciates the most, actually.

    5. NOLA*

      One example you may not have thought about — operations or back-office customer service roles at a bank…not the branches but the core processing. Solid entry level, good opportunities to move up and they usually train. They are looking for folks who can handle exceptions and error resolutions quickly and communicate results to the front of the line (customer facing staff)

    6. BRR*

      Many fields have problem solving jobs, are there any specific fields you might be interested in so we could better help with suggestions? I’m going to just throw out management consulting.

      Also I wouldn’t worry about the degree as much as much as your experience.

    7. Hillary*

      Operations, planning, supply chain, logistics, transportation. New challenges to overcome every day.

      I’m a liberal arts grad, now an MBA working in operations analysis and vendor management. Half the planners on our team were business majors, the others did liberal arts. I suspect the liberal arts majors are going to go farther eventually because they tend to be more flexible and creative.

  69. Waiting Patiently*

    I went jogging with a former co-worker yesterday. I was all sweaty and gross. She hadn’t broke a sweat, (we were jogging and she was carrying on a full conversation as I was panting for air every minute– such a show off!) Anywho, just before we said goodbye she goes in for hug (from yesterday’s post). I had to do the “arms extended, don’t get to close, I’m not the huggy type person anyway, plus we are both sweaty..eww” pat on the back.

    1. Cath in Canada*

      heh, I was cycling home last week at the same time as one of our team leaders (although not my direct supervisor) was running along the same street. It’s up a steep hill and it was a hot day, so I was sweating and panting a lot; she was going only ever so slightly slower than me, without sweating at all, and while keeping up a continuous conversation with her running partner. So embarrassing (although, to be fair, she’s the women’s Provincial and Canadian Ironman champion for her age group and I am most definitely not – but still!)

    2. CC*

      Don’t compare your fitness level to anybody else’s, for starters. (I know it’s hard not to, but really, don’t. I cheer for my friends who run and carefully try to not look at their posted times.) Who knows how long they’ve been doing whatever it is they’ve been doing.

      Also, this is why I prefer to run alone. Running with somebody at a different fitness level isn’t really good for either party — the slower person is stressed and gasping and not enjoying it and it’s frankly demoralizing (been there), while the faster person is not getting any fitness benefit from the run (also been there). If it’s intended to be a social run and not a fitness-improving one, then going fast enough that the slower person is gasping is too fast!

  70. I've Had It!!*

    I’m totally overwhelmed at work, the people who were assigned to help me are either on vacation or overwhelmed themselves, and when I begged my manager for help from the home office, she said “that doesn’t fit in with my plans”. OT is limited and actively discouraged. No suggestions as to how I’m supposed to do the work of 2 people, but she was kind enough to tell me I’m not managing my workload correctly. She won’t ask for help from the home office because she isn’t willing to give work “back to them”.

    In a nutshell, she’s agreed to take on more and more work, overloaded us all, and now it’s not a question of if we’ll fail but when.

    I know the answer to this is “find another job”. Easier said than done. Which brings me to my primary grievance: why should I have to give up an OK paying job, with benefits and 31 paid days off per year (between paid holidays and vacation/PTO), because my manager doesn’t know how to manage? I think she should be the one to go, and the company should hire someone competent. I know, I know – good luck with that.

    1. BB*

      That’s not cool. Wow. The only thing you can do for now is prioritize your workload and make sure the important stuff gets done. You said your colleagues are also overwhelmed. You guys should talk about it. Be each other’s support. I could only imagine how this situation will end up. It’s best that you start looking for another job. Even if your manager is the one that is incompetent, she may never leave or get removed and how long would you be willing to continue working in this situation?

      1. I've Had It!!*

        We are trying to work together as best we can, but at this point it’s like we’re putting out fires and hoping things don’t go wrong. I’m as much as 2 weeks behind on projects, but I do what has to be done and I’m telling people sorry, I can’t do better, you’ll need to talk to my manager. Of course, they never do, because she’s developed the reputation for not taking care of things. I am so thankful for my coworkers, and I hope they are thankful for me. We bail each other out as much as we can every day.

        My primary worry is when I find another job, and I come into contact with some of the same customers, I hope they don’t have a bad opinion of me. I used to be regarded as the go to person, getting things done, on time, correctly, etc. and now I’m just flailing because of this nonsense. I apologize if I can’t make a deadline, and people are understanding, but that’s only going to last so long.

        1. BB*

          Since it will affect your reputation, that’s another big reason for you to look for another job asap.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          Uh. Actions speak louder than words. The customers will see that you have moved on. Typically, people don’t leave companies they like.

          You may be surprised to find the opposite problem: “My customers are coming into my new job and telling me ‘It’s about time you wised up and left Old Job.’ How do I respond to that?”

          Silently, with a knowing grin.

    2. Dawn*

      1- Stop working OT. When you hit 40 hours turn off your computer and GTFO.
      2- Manage upwards. When you have too much to do in those 40 hours, send an email to your manager and say “This is my workload for this week- A, B, C, D, and E.” On Thursday say something like “I am halfway through C and anticipate that I will be mostly wrapped up with D by COB tomorrow, just letting you know where I stand with my workload.” Then on Friday COB send her a “This is what I completed this week. I will be starting on E first thing Monday morning, and then I will be doing F, G, H, and I”. If she gives you ANY CRAP at all turn it back on her- “Ok Agnes, what priority should I be doing these in?” And if she consistently throws up her hands and says “I don’t know just get them all done!!!” ask her if you should get OT for getting them all done. And if she still throws a hissy fit start looking for a new job.

      1. I've Had It!!*

        I take my breaks, plus a lunch period. I don’t send too many emails to her – there have been times when it takes weeks if not months for her to get back to me – but I ask – what do you want me to let slide? She usually says I need to get my work done, and “we” need to put the time in to get it accomplished. Unfortunately, it’s the royal “we”, meaning me, so a non answer. She manages like Captain Picard. “Make it so!”

        One of her favorite things to say is “I’m always willing to take on more work”, except she’s not the one doing it. I always get a kick out of Alison’s lists of bad things managers do. I’m convinced she watches my manager from afar and takes notes.

  71. Xay*

    I’m four informal interviews into the job seeking process with a consulting company (including an informal meeting with the potential client) and I’ve just been informed that now I should be contacted to set up a formal interview. On one hand, the hiring manager that I have been talking to seems very interested in hiring me but the whole process so far has been a lot of conversations about company fit and not much in terms of measureable progress, well defined role, or a vague timeline. Fortunately my current job is secure for at least the next 8 months and I’m in no hurry to leave. This kind of company is very different to me – I’ve worked in government, academia and currently as an on-site federal contractor so I’m wondering if this is typical for big consulting companies.

  72. BB*

    I’m applying for an admin position in the art department of a university. In the description it states that a BA in Art is preferred which I do have. As a student, I have worked in non-office positions within the school of the art at my alma mater and want to mention that somewhere to show my involvement outside of being a student. However, I know that my supervisor for one of my jobs no longer holds that position and is no longer at my university.

    What is the best way for me to handle this? Should I just mention my non-admin uni jobs in the cover letter? Any ideas would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      Those jobs should be on your résumé for sure. I don’t know that you need to mention them in your cover letter unless you’re citing specific experience or accomplishments you demonstrated there that would be relevant to the position you’re applying to.

    2. LAI*

      The fact that your supervisor is no longer there isn’t a reason to leave that job off. If you want to use that supervisor as a reference, then you should track them down wherever they currently are, but you can still list the job on your resume either way.

      1. BB*

        Reminds me of another issue…I have to fill out an online application and I don’t remember but I might need to provide phone numbers for my supervisors or at least their office phone when I list the job (not to use as a reference, though). What do I do then?

  73. Amaryllis*

    This is more of a vent than anything… I am pretty sensitive to noise and smells and it grates on my nerves when people make loud sounds (e.g. dropped a large box on the floor) or when people heat up food in the toaster. Working in a cubicle, I know that I’m going to be subjected to it more than if I were in my own office, so I try to ignore it as much I can. I am very non-confrontational so I can’t imagine me asking them directly to move the toaster to the breakroom (we have one, it’s just on another floor) or to please not drop stuff on the ground.

    I’ve taken to taking my laptop and sneaking away to an empty conference room for an hour or two when I can. That way, I can do my work in peace and quiet, they can continue to do what they want, and we’re all happy. Anyone else experience the same problem?

    It’s not the incidental noise (like keyboard clacking or paper shuffling) that bothers me. It’s impossible for people to be completely silent and I don’t expect people to be. I just wish people would be more considerate without needing to be told that their actions may be disturbing someone else. Sometimes I wish I worked in a library, where everyone knows they need to keep noise to a minimum.

    1. Mimmy*

      I totally hear you. I too wish I’d worked in a library! (I did consider an MLS, but people discouraged me from pursuing it–different story for a different day :) ). I’m not too bad with the every day background goings on in an office–quiet chatter, some office machines, the microwave, for example–but when certain sounds cut through that, I’m ready to jump out of my skin. Crackling snack bags makes me want to take the bag away and clicking / tapping pens just jangle my nerves.

      But yeah, I too know I can’t expect 100% silence, so I’m not always sure how to address the noise without sounding unreasonable. Those who know me sometimes apologize when I give them a look, lol.

      1. fposte*

        Be careful what you all wish for–a library is not a quiet place for those employed in it, I assure you :-).

      2. snapple*

        I’ve worked in libraries in the past and while they are quiet, they are by far the most disgusting places ever. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to clean up bodily fluids from the tables and chairs.

    2. snapple*

      YES! I started a new job this week and my new coworker is a nightmare! Besides the fact that he’s been cold to me since I started (he completely ignored me on my first day), he’s just not very professional. He watches YouTube videos for a large percentage of the days and then snorts/laughs loudly every few minutes. He talks with his mouth full constantly, and he’s frequently finger drumming his desk or loudly tapping his feet to the music he listens to. He’s also pretty popular in the office so he usually has 1-3 visitors per day come into our open office to just hang out for at least 30 minutes. I think a lot of this might be office culture differences though. In the past I’ve worked at prestigious institutions that were a bit stuffy and this is a non-profit(homeless shelter) so I’m not sure how much of his behavior can be attributed to the more relaxed environment. I’m seriously considering quitting this job because of this guy!!

    3. BB*

      Ear plugs! You will still be able to hear if your phone rings and if a colleague comes up from behind you and says something, they’ll learn pretty quickly that you have ear plugs in and they would need to tap you on the shoulder to speak to you in person.

    4. Audiophile*

      I’ve been trying to get used to the noise level at my new job. It’s a pretty small office, but in Manhattan, so I’ve contending with emergency vehicles whizzing by a lot. Then the general noise of the office – there’s a Keurig machine that seems to befuddle one particular person in the office – people dropping boxes, plates, utensils, tapping on their keyboards (I’m by no means a light typist, but I’ve tried to start).
      I understand where you’re coming from. I may start sneaking off to the conference room.

  74. LibrarianJ*

    Hopefully this is on topic (I would consider it work related, but it might be on the line) —

    I’ve seen a lot of questions lately about weddings and inviting coworkers, and I do know I’m not really obligated to invite anyone from work. Some of my coworkers would definitely be hurt if I didn’t. It’s also more complicated because we are both alumni of the college I work for, and he has relationships with some of the staff from his student worker days (though it’s a little one-sided, since he doesn’t care much anymore). So if I (sort of) have to invite some coworkers, there are a couple of things I’d love input on:

    (1) I’m planning to invite my immediate boss and the 3 coworkers in my subgroup of our department, who I work with most closely. I know one of my coworkers invited boss’ boss to her wedding. Is it bad form to leave boss’ boss out? I work with her sometimes to get permission on things but she’s not my immediate supervisor and we’re not close personally.

    (2) Being that we’re alumni, we have strong relationships with a couple of faculty on campus whom we’d really like to invite. I’m a little worried about doing this, since it’s basically inviting folks from another department when I could make room for more of my immediate colleagues instead; however, I’m closer to the faculty than most of my coworkers and they’ve been really important and supportive mentors to both of us. Does this seem like a bad move?

    I know these seem like silly questions, but I’ve really been agonizing over this and I’d very much appreciate any feedback. I’m still in my first professional job and make my fair share of newbie mistakes with office politics, so I don’t want to inadvertently cause a problem.

    1. Kimberlee, Esq.*

      On #1, if you don’t know the boss’ boss that well, don’t invite her. Not a problem at all; I’ve never heard of that being a gauche thing to do or anything. Now, if that person has a history of getting butthurt about stuff like that, and taking it out on others at work, it might be worth considering, but certainly don’t feel obligated.

      On #2, I think people will understand why some faculty (who presumably actually taught you guys) would be invited while some co-workers were not. View it through the same lens as #1; if you have evidence that it would cause specific problems for people, take it into account, but faculty that have taught you before are a whole different type of guest than a random set of co-workers. Absolutely no obligations there.

    2. Lynne*

      I work in a small dept (7 people) and work closely with a much larger dept. I am getting married next month and would really like to invite one person from my dept and one person from the other dept I work with closely, but doing so felt too awkward given the situation. I am instead inviting no one from work at all. It’s actually made it easier as I feel like I can talk about the wedding without feeling uncomfortable because some folks will be there and some will not.

  75. Mel*

    Commute question: Is there a point that a commute becomes a deal breaker? What is your commute like?

    Mine is about an hour door-to-door, but my son just started day care which adds 15 minutes (at least) on either end two days a week. I work 4 days a week, with one from home, and was just told I need to be in the office all 4 days. I otherwise like my job fine and there is plenty of room to grow, the people are great, pay is good, etc. but I’m afraid the time spent in the car and on the bus is going to drive me to burnout really quickly. It’s already wearing on me, and I feel terrible that he’s in daycare for so long – it ends up being about 11 hours a day, 2 days a week. Plus I miss him! I’m considering looking for a new job but I’m not sure if the good things about my job outweigh the bad commute.

    1. MT*

      Personally I hate a long commute. Anything longer than 30 minutes door to door is a deal breaker for me.

      1. De Minimis*

        Mine is too long….I work in a smaller town and the nearest city [of around 60,000 or so] is 45 minutes away depending on where you live. That was manageable, but last year I moved to one of the major cities here just because I was tired of smaller town life. My house is around 60 miles from work. We have some people make a similar commute so I thought it was manageable. But I didn’t take into account traffic on the drive home [which isn’t really bad, but adds at least 5-10 minutes on to the commute] and that I am almost on the complete opposite side of town, so it takes me around an hour at 15 in the morning and usually at least an hour and 20, sometimes a little more on the drive home. The drive home especially is really grinding me down.

        I think an hour each way is about the limit for me–and it also depends on the type of driving—if it’s just straight highway driving and you’re moving along pretty good the whole time it isn’t too bad, but if you’re spending a lot of time just sitting there in traffic that’s something else.

        And although gas is fairly cheap here, I hate that I’m spending so much on it each week. Unfortunately, I don’t think I could get a job that paid this much closer to home since wages are pretty low in my state. We’re kind of wanting to pack it in and leave completely soon, but failing that I think we may bite the bullet and sell our house at a loss and move back to the smaller city that is closer to work. We haven’t been too fond of the house or the city it’s in…I used to live there in my 20s and liked it okay, but can’t stand it now.

        1. MT*

          If there is no traffic, my commute is 21 minutes door to door, 30 if traffic, 60 in bad weather.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        Mine is really short, but it’s super aggravating. I live near an industrial area and one large truck can completely bork it all up.

        A longer one is out of the question. I wish I could move.

        1. De Minimis*

          I run into that on some stretches of mine too….we have a lot of oil/gas activity and it’s easy to get stuck behind trucks hauling pipeline and other equipment. My regular route has about 20-30 miles towards the end that is just rural highway with only a few passing opportunities, so big trucks can be a major headache.

          It’s also about to be time to start playing the “beat the school bus” game–not a lot of fun to be behind those either, although the ones here usually will pull over to let people by.

            1. Rebecca*

              I always get behind Ma and Pa Kettle driving 15 miles an hour to go get a coffee when I’m trying to get to car pool! Seriously, can’t you wait until after 8 AM when most people who are trying to get to work are either there or well on their way??

    2. weasel007*

      My commute to the office is 1:40 one way, and that is hard driving (75 miles). They allowed me to telecommute coming in once a week. But now due to org changes my new team is very co-location centric. They want everyone in the office every day. They agreed to let me continue my schedule for now. I’m pressured to make it two days a week. I know it won’t last forever, but I’m networking for when that happens. Spending up to 4 hours a day 5 days a week in the car is totally not feasible for me. That is a deal breaker. Add on that my husband is going blind and I have to drive him to work.

    3. Livin' in a Box (formerly CanadianWriter)*

      I’m about 15 minutes from work and I still feel like that’s too far.

      1. Cruciatus*

        I’m with you. My commute is maybe 17-20 minutes (more in winter) and I often think “If only I lived closer to work!” My dream is to be able to walk to work. But not where I currently work… But that’s another story.

    4. Amber*

      I don’t see any reason not to start looking. If you get an offer for another job, that’s when you can compare the pros and cons of each, commute included.

      For me, 2 1/2 hours in the car, even two days a week, is too much.

      1. De Minimis*

        It really is…and I never really get enough sleep, which doesn’t go well with a lengthy commute.

    5. Anonymous Educator*

      Well, each person has her own threshold. Mine is less about time and more about how many transfers I have to make.

      If I can get on one bus that takes me from my home straight to work, I don’t mind being on it for over an hour.

      If, however, my commute is theoretically 40 minutes, but I have to take two or three modes of transportation to get there, dealbreaker (at least after a while).

      A couple of years ago, I was doing a 90-minute commute each way using three modes of transportation (car drive to commuter station, commuter rail, and then subway or walk). That was a miserable experience. I got a lot of knitting done on the train, but adding in the driving and subway/walking on top of it… ugh.

      Now I’m in a situation in which my commute is about 70 minutes (potentially 80 with traffic) but all car. I don’t love driving. Sometimes it’s nice to be able to just sing along to music without worrying about bothering other passengers. Sometimes you just want to zone out and not concentrate on the road, though.

      I don’t have kids, but I get where you’re coming from about being away. When you talk to other folks with long commutes, at a certain point it’s less about the time you’re spending on the train/subway/bus/car and more about the time you’re not spending at home… with loved ones, or in your bed sleeping, or at your table eating dinner (earlier)…

      1. LibrarianJ*

        I think this holds true for me as well — it depends on how I’m getting there (and, related to that, on how reliable that method of transportation is).

        At my last position I had a commute that was in total 90-120+ minutes each way — carpool to commuter rail to subway to short walk. The “120+” part was because the public transit was ridiculously unreliable and I had to plan at least a 30 minute buffer to be anywhere on time (and anticipate extensive delays which could cause me to miss a transfer now and then). However, this was in the DC area and I couldn’t afford to live any closer in. I had 13 hour days, but the up side was I was usually able to do some work on the train, which meant that when I finally did get home it could (usually) be family time.

        Currently my commute is a 15 minute drive in the morning, 30-40 in afternoon (due to traffic). I miss being able to zone out, but I don’t miss being reliant on train schedules (or non-schedules, as it were). When I get married next summer, my commute will go up to 60-90+ minutes again, since my fiance works about 2 hours away — gotta split the distance. This will probably feel pretty doable if we’re able to live on the train line, less so if it means driving on the turnpike every afternoon. But, it’s worth it to me because this is the only way we can both continue working at our ‘dream’ jobs, so….

      2. Mimmy*

        That’s actually a really good point. I mentioned below about my long commute to my internship and my monthly state council meetings. It really is more due to all the transfers that I have to make. If there’s even a slight delay on one leg, it can potentially muck everything else up afterwards (e.g. a train is 10 minutes late, so you miss the bus at your destination, and you have to wait an hour for the next one). Whereas if you’re driving (or getting transported door to door via a cab or whatever), you have a better chance of a smooth commute (barring any major traffic hangups, that is).

        Yes, I know I used a lot of parenthesis in that answer, lol.

    6. Mimmy*

      I’ve had commute be 2+ hours (that is not a typo!!) due to needing to use multiple forms of transportation. It was for an internship that I absolutely wanted even though I knew it’d be a real PITA 2-3 days a week! I do this to myself all. the. time. Currently, I commute about 1.5 hours one way door to door once a month for one of my councils, and even that’s enough to rattle me for the rest of the week.

      For me, an ideal commute time is up to 30 minutes. It would take the opportunity of a lifetime to get me to endure a one-way commute much longer than that.

      1. De Minimis*

        If we end up relocating, we will likely be in an area where public transit will be an option…I’m really excited about that possibility even though I think the commute will probably be pretty lengthy.

    7. LAI*

      I think this is the kind of thing that is going to be different for everyone. Personally, commute becomes a deal-breaker for me around the 30 minute mark. If I have a half- hour commute each direction plus an 8-hour work day plus a 1-hour lunch break, then I’m out of the house for 10 hours per day. I am a single dog-owner, so I can only be gone as long as he can hold his bladder.

    8. Lynne*

      Oh man, I’m with the 30 minute folks here. Maybe I’m spoiled because of where I live (awesome small city where everything is pretty close) but I have a 30 minute one way commute and a great job and often seriously consider looking for a new job so that I can be closer to home. An 8 hour day, 1 hour lunch, and an hour commute means I am away from home at least 10 hours a day. Add in errands and getting ready for work and it’s enough. Plus my poor dog/my poor wallet for a dogwalker. Any more and I’d go crazy. In an ideal world, I’d work within 5 miles of my house.

      1. Just Visiting*

        Hey, no argument here. My husband says I’m forever spoiled because my first non-temp job was a 15-minute walk from my apartment. There is nothing as wonderful as a walking commute, NOTHING. I commute by bicycle, which you’d think would be similar and it’s definitely less annoying than a PT commute (I don’t drive so have never had a car commute to compare), but it’s torture compared to being able to walk to work. When I read about about others’ commutes I feel chastened because at least I get to combine a commute and exercise… but I still want a shorter one!

        1. Lynne*

          Exactly! If I lived closer I could walk or bike to work (I work about 22 miles away now, too far for me at this point) and then could get more fitness in! Right now I bike or run at lunch which is good but often problematic (trying to fit in a run + a shower + refreshing makeup and hair in an hour is not easy). Public transportation would be great too. Right now my only option for PT is the train, which runs 2x a day and would get me to work 90 min before I need to be there and leave 90 min after I get out, and the station is still 3 miles from my house. Not a good option, sadly. I actually work 20 miles outside of the major city here (in a manner of speaking, it’s still very small) and live just outside it, so the chances of finding a closer job are good. Hard to justify leaving though when everything else is good and 30 minutes is not *that* bad.

    9. Magda*

      A bad commute can definitely be a dealbreaker! Over the last couple of years, my jobs have slowly been located farther and farther away from my home… before I knew it, I realized I had crept up to about an hour commute each way. It SUCKED.

      I was lucky enough to be able to move, and I picked my new apartment based almost solely on its proximity to my office because I couldn’t stand the driving. I’ve been here a few weeks and I’m already noticing I have more energy and my general frustration level (even when I’m not in the car) has gone down 90%. The long commute also had physical effects, namely that I gained about 20 lbs. and I had NO energy to go to the gym after a long annoying drive, so I’m pretty out of shape.

      I don’t mean to be all doom and gloom about it, but I definitely would not underplay the effects a long commute can have. It is a real quality of life issue.

    10. Just Visiting*

      Mine is about 35 minutes one-way now, and will expand to 45 minutes one-way if I get this job I want… but it’s on a bike. That’s about as far as I’m willing to travel, even on a bike. (I do not drive.) I mean, I like biking and all, but I also don’t like the idea of spending over an hour a day in the saddle and I’ll likely be getting some slicker tires and other “cheats” to reduce commute time. In a perfect world I’d have a bicycle commute of around 20 minutes but since I want to work in university administration, and the university in this city is downtown, and I don’t want to/can’t afford to live downtown, I just have to live with it. But I can dream!

      Once upon a time in another city I used to have a fifteen minute walk to work and it was as wonderful as you could ever imagine. I cried for a week when we lost our grant funding and I’ve never found a job I liked more than that one.

    11. snapple*

      I used to have a 2 hour commute to NYC. It was the absolute worst (plus very expensive!). Because the trains during rush hour frequently experienced delays up to an hour, I had to leave the house at 7am for a 9am start time just to make sure I got to work on time. That got old really quickly. Plus, add in all of the stress of dealing with the NYC transit system and the hordes of people and I was a very miserable person for the 2 years that I did that.

      Going forward, I think 30 min is the ideal/target commute time for me.

    12. chump with a degree*

      Ours is 20 miles of hard road-literally-including the “Orange Crush” * but the van-pool means only one person needs to pay attention. The rest of us sleep, visit, et cetera. I would never go back to driving alone.


    13. Mel*

      Thank you for all the responses! The poster who said I should start looking and evaluate a new offer with my current job is absolutely right. No harm in applying and seeing what else is out there closer to home. I dream about what I would do with an extra 1-2 hours free a day – maybe I could actually get caught up on laundry for the first time in a year! :)

      1. anonintheUK*

        Mine is about an hour each way, but 40 minutes of that is on foot – house to railway station, station to office – so I don’t find it all that bothersome.

    14. Stephanie*

      For me, depends on the area. Where I live now, traffic isn’t that bad. But people routinely turn down jobs that are on the other side of the metro area due to commuting distance. Sprawl is pretty bad here (about 80 mi east-to-west), so I have heard of people (who have the luxury obviously) of turning down leads for that reason.

      I think I have a slightly higher commute tolerance if it’s on public transit (and doesn’t involve lots of transfers).

    15. Rebecca*

      Before the company I work for was purchased by another company, I didn’t mind the 30 or 35 minute commute. Now, I hate it. I live for time out of the office, and now that it’s construction season on the 4 lane, it’s stretched to 40 minutes or more one way, depending on issues. I’m not allowed to work from home, because my manager must see everyone in their seats, and she says that since she can’t trust everyone to work from home, no one can. So I drive about 48 miles round trip, every work day, and waste 6+ hours of my life every week.

    16. LAMM*

      My commute is 35 minutes with no traffic (32 miles all freeway) If I have to do a 9-6 its about an hour and 15 minutes in the morning and about an hour in the evening due to rush hour traffic. There’s a major freeway that’s shut down at the moment and the way I take to work is one of the alternate routes so I’m hoping when it opens back up in the winter my commute time will decrease.

      The other day it took me 2 hours to get home due to 4 accidents within a quarter mile. That was fun.

    17. Not So NewReader*

      I am pleased to see so many people saying 30 minutes or so. PHEW! I am normal.
      Thirty minutes in good weather here translates into 2 hours in bad weather. I can barely hack it.

      For a while, I had a job 15 minutes away. In bad weather it was 45 minutes. That was not good.

      I think that work environment comes into play as far as the commute. If I have a job with decent coworkers and bosses plus decent pay, I suddenly start coping better. But there is nothing like driving 2 hours in a snow storm to get to a nasty boss and crappy working conditions.

    18. Windchime*

      My current commute is about 15-20 minutes in the morning and can be double that on the way home. It’s only about 9 miles away but I have to cross a suspended trestle-type highway that has no exits along its 2 mile length, so if there is any kind of an accident (or even a car pulled off to the side, my commute time is drastically increased.

      Several times a year, I have to drive to cities closer to Seattle during rush hour and it can take up to two hours to drive there; it’s normally 20 to 30 minutes during non-rush hour. I can do it for a week at a time but I absolutely hate it and wouldn’t be able to stand it on a daily basis, although I know people who do it every day.

    19. Felicia*

      I just started a job last week where the commute is one hour and 15 minutes by public transit. I get to sit the whole time, and it’s just 2 different subway lines, the longer of which is the opposite way that most people go, so its not particularly unpleasant. Just long. Particularly because I have an 8 am start time for the summer. It’s just sooo long and i’m already struggling . But before I had ever gotten this job I had been wanting to move elsewhere in the city, which if I found a place in that area would make my commute roughly 30 minutes on a single subway which would be great. 30 minute commute is considered short here though, which is sad

  76. weasel007*

    HAPPY FRIDAY!! I’ve been asked to be part of the team interviewing for an additional person on my team. This person will be a consultant (possibly temp to hire but sometimes it takes up to 18 months) and a direct under me and my co-worker. The first time I was asked to do this was last minute and I wasn’t prepared. Regardless, I think I did do a good job and got a good feel for the person’s potential fit with the team. The people we are interviewing have already cleared the skillsets and experience hurdle. I’m more intested in how the deal under pressure, working on a team and their attitude. Our environment is tough and really takes some getting used to the vastness of my entire organization, so ability to adapt is key. Can anyone point me to some good things to read up to adequately screen for these skills? I don’t want to ask the same old questions: “Where do you see yourself in x amount of years” or “If you were a vegetable, what would you be?” Thanks!

    1. MaryMary*

      When I was trained on how to do interviews, they encouraged us to use behavioral questions. These are questions where you ask someone to give an example of how they’ve handled a situation or displayed the characteristics you’re looking for in the past. The idea is that past experience is the best predictor of future behavior. So try questions like this:

      Tell me about a project you had to complete under a tight deadline.
      Tell me about a time you had to work with someone who had a very different style from your own.
      Describe a situation where you had to get yourself up to speed on something new.
      Tell me about a time you had a disagreement with a coworker. How did you resolve it?
      Tell me about a time you had to go above and beyond to complete a project.
      Describe a stressful situation and how you handled it.

      You can google behavioral interview questions and get other examples. Don’t hesitate to follow up on the responses you get from your interviewees. You need to know what the situation was, what action they took, and what the result was.

      Please don’t ask people what kind of vegetable they would be.

      1. Jillociraptor*

        These are great suggestions. A question I’ve used for similar needs was “How do you typically make decisions?” followed by “Can you tell me about a time when you had to make a really hard decision?”

        It has been a good line of questioning for evaluating how the candidate deals with ambiguity, which is often a good proxy for flexibility and rational, intentional thinking under pressure. You want to see the ability to consider multiple perspectives and make decisions based on what’s going to get the outcome you want, not just what’s going to make the most people happy or be the easiest to execute. You also want to see if they can go from a big, ambiguous pool of data to refining the question, and analyzing the information they have to come to a good answer.

        Another good way to think about working with a team is: what kind of person will be a good complement on your team? So what type of person would really benefit your team’s overall function? Or avoid some of your pitfalls? I’ve been on teams that really need someone to bring them down out of the clouds, and on teams that tend to spiral when faced with a challenge. In the first case, someone who’s really good at identifying problems and challenges would be a huge boon. In the latter, they’d probably just add to the wheel spinning.

    2. fposte*

      In addition to MaryMary’s excellent suggestions, feel free to draw on real-life examples of problems people in that position tend to face to ask what they’d bring to that situation, what they think is important in this scenario, how they might deal with the situation, etc.

    3. NOLA*

      Totally agree with MaryMary on the behavioral interview questions. Don’t let them answer in hypotheticals — keep pressing them to respond with a Situation (what happened), Action (what they actually did, not “we” or “the team”) and Result. Expect to have to ask follow up questions to drill down to the details.
      You’ll end up asking fewer questions, but you’ll get greater insight into their work and style

      1. weasel007*

        Thanks everyone!

        Yes, I don’t want to get into the what vegetable are you question. Someone would answer tomato, and I’d argue with them that is a fruit.

        1. Sue D. O'Nym*

          Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is knowing that it doesn’t belong in a fruit salad.

  77. sick coworker*

    We are having an issue at work and I’m wondering if anyone has dealt with something similar. A coworker of ours has gotten sick with mono but still insists on coming in to work. We have an outdoor, physical job, so for the first week she stayed in our office doing paperwork-type stuff. But this week she has come back outside to work – problem is, she can barely do anything. She essentially can’t help our customers at all, which is the main part of the job. I think it looks bad when a customer walks by someone in uniform who won’t talk to them or help them (they can’t tell that she’s sick). She also won’t relinquish control on certain projects/duties, protesting that she’s the only one who’s “allowed” to do certain things (even though she can’t complete them in a timely manner). Not to mention that being outside all day long is probably not helping her illness at all. And even though mono isn’t that contagious, there’s still a small risk that she could get someone else very sick. Our manager has been out of town this whole time, and the other managers have just let her do what she wants. What’s an effective way to let our manager know, when he’s back, that it’s not helpful at all to have our very sick coworker hanging around, doing very little?

    1. Livin' in a Box (formerly CanadianWriter)*

      Do you get paid sick leave? If you don’t, she doesn’t have much choice.

      1. sick coworker*

        We don’t, but employment insurance does cover sick time. She might be sticking around partly for money reasons, but my impression (based on what she has said and the kind of person she is) is that she can’t bear to be away from work and out of the loop.

        1. Rebecca*

          My company pays a generous $200 per week sick pay, and we pay for the premiums. We can’t not pay and put the money toward a personal policy, like Aflac, yes, we asked. So unless I was quarantined with a communicable disease, or completely immobilized, I’d probably drag myself to work too – because after paying health insurance premiums, the $200/week would fall to about $95/week, and that wouldn’t work well for the long term.

          I had mono when I was in my early 20’s. Missed 4 weeks of work, rec’d 1/2 pay (this was in the mid 80’s), and even after coming back, it was all I could do to get up, go to work, and then collapse at home, and this was at an office job. I give your coworker a lot of credit for being able to be up and on her feet all day.

    2. weasel007*

      Do you have an HR dept? I would totally go there. I know people with low resistent immune systems and this totally is a risk. I find it incredibly rude that sick people go to work. I totally understand that sometimes there is no paycheck if they don’t, but if they don’t have a paycheck if they don’t work, most likely others who work with them are in the same boat.

      1. sick coworker*

        We do have HR, but talking to my manager would be much more effective, I just don’t know how to phrase what I want to say.

        1. Izzy Leighgal*

          I would suggest going to your manager with concern for your co-worker: “I’m worried about Jane, I don’t think she should be possibly extending her illness by being at work. She’s great at what she does, so we need her healthy ASAP.”

          Or, concern for co-workers and clients. “It could be harmful to the business if either another employee or a client becomes ill.” (Not as likely, but in case you need ammo)

          1. sick coworker*

            This is a good way of putting it, I will keep it in mind. I may also see what happens in the next few days when my manager gets back. He might already have an idea of how to handle it.

      2. StudentA*

        I agree about talking to HR and/or your boss. Coworkers who can’t relinquish control are a problem. Often they are not team players and allow their ego to get in the way of what’s best for the company. If I were the owner of that company, I would want to know if my employee is coming to work with mono! Simply ridiculous!

        1. sick coworker*

          Yes, this is what I’m getting at – there is no advantage to her being around when she physically can’t do her job. This is coworker is quite bossy, and it’s been frustrating to put up with her superior attitude combined with the lack of output. Though I know it’s not her fault she’s sick, it would actually be a load off if she stayed home and took care of herself until she’s better.

  78. Malissa*

    I’m looking at applying to a job that would be a significant jump. Is there a point when climbing that resumes and cover letters should start looking different? Or is professional always enough?

    1. Dawn*

      Make it as professional as humanly possible and you’ll be good to go. Pretty much the only time I’ve ever seen a really different looking resume is when someone is applying for an *extremely* specific and technical position, and that’s because they submitted a CV instead of a more typical resume. SO their resume ran to 2 pages and had a big list of all of the research studies they participated in and a list of all of their professional publications, etc. Not anything you’d run into unless you were in that field already.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        She is wondering if there is a difference in resumes between someone who is looking for an entry level or mid level job versus someone who is trying for upper level jobs.

        Extreme example: a resume for a receptionist versus a resume for a chief financial officer.

  79. Holly*

    Quick rant: the bereavement leave policy at my work sucks. Though *begging* the owner she agreed to lend me 5 days of PTO that I will need to accrue back (so basically I’m in the negative for a while), plus 2 days of time everyone at the company gets. I know it’s better than nothing but this is the same company that nickle and dimes our 15 minute intervals so I’m a little annoyed.

    Also, anyone ever have an HR department that’s obsessed with how you look? My HR director frequently stops meetings to point out I shouldn’t ever lean over because she can see too much cleavage (I have a tank under the shirt, and it’s covering everything, but okay.) However, yesterday she actually WAGGED HER FINGER at me and shook her head vigorously to tell me not to bunch a quarter inch of fabric on my skirt nervously because “it won’t do you any favors in the working world” and it’s unprofessional. I’m trying to talk to her about something serious and she’s worried about a tiny twitch. Normal or am I working in the Twilight Zone?

    1. Sadsack*

      For immediate family members, my company gives up to three days with pay.

      The other matter is just weird. I think I would just pause for a minute when she speaks up and then continue with the conversation without responding.

    2. Colette*

      Bereavement leave is a strange thing. Often, it’s very limited (3 – 10 days), but … what’s the right amount? How long should you have off if you lose an uncle, or the sister you haven’t seen in 10 years, or a parent with Alzheimers, or spouse, or a child? For some people, having a lot of time off would be a gift, and others just need the time to deal with the immediate aftermath and then they need to get back to work. It’s not like you can just come back after it’s all over, because in many cases, it’s never really over.

      Having said that, if it’s someone you’re really close to and if you also have to deal with planning the funeral/disposing of property/income tax/etc., two days is really short.

      Often, employers are compassionate about the situation and will make allowances for individual circumstances – but I don’t think it’s really unreasonable to require you to use PTO if you go over the number of days they allow. It depends on how you think about PTO – a death is not a vacation, obviously, but if you think of it as “time you’re not at work”, it’s a little more understandable. And I’d expect an employer who does nickle and dime you normally to take the same approach to leave of any sort – because that’s how they do business.

      Also, your HR director is odd. She’s offended because she can see a tank top? Seriously?

      And I’m sorry for your loss.

      1. fposte*

        Yeah, ours is three days for immediate family and one day for extended, and we’re pretty generously supplied on most benefits. My suspicion is that its roots lie in funeral leave, and the idea is you get three days if you’re organizing and one if you’re just attending. It’s really not time for dealing with actual grief.

    3. Stephanie*

      My last job, you received three days paid for immediate family members (spouse, child, sibling, parent) and none for extended family. I discovered this the hard way after my bereavement leave for my grandfather’s funeral wasn’t covered (I ended up borrowing vacation). I thought it was kind of nitpicky (as you can’t assume who someone would need bereavement leave for), but I suppose bereavement leave is more for dealing with estate and next-of-kin issues than grieving.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      The clothes thing is odd. Rule of three, you see her doing this a third time ask her what is up with the remarks about clothes or ask her for a copy of the company dress policy.

  80. Ellie*

    I applied for a job at a college a while back. I made it to the final interview round and they said that while my accomplishments were “notable”, they selected a different applicant.

    I just went on their website and noticed that they relisted the job… they are still looking for somebody to fill this position, with a start date of “immediately.”

    Seriously, what the?! They disliked all of their applicant pool so much that they’d rather just re-do the search and have nobody in the role in the meantime? I just don’t get it.

    1. LAI*

      Actually yeah. I don’t know what college this is but it’s incredibly difficult to fire someone at the public university where I work, so it’s really important that you get the right person in at the beginning. I would absolutely re-do a search before I would hire someone that I had reservations about, even if it meant leaving the position vacant for a few more weeks.

      However, are you sure it’s the same position you applied for? It could be that there are multiple positions for the same role, or it could be the same position in a different office.

        1. Persephone Mulberry*

          This is my thought…and perhaps there’s some red tape that prevents them from just diving back into their applicant pool without reposting the job.

          Is there someone at the organization with whom you could discreetly inquire about this possibility?

    2. BRR*

      There’s really no other option to your “nobody in the role in the meantime” unless they hire a temp. It’s not like they can hire from the current pool and continue searching for a different candidate.

  81. Holly*

    Alison – my comment just went to moderation… can you look into why/clear it? How strange.

    1. fposte*

      I think it’s not uncommon, actually. It happens to me sometimes even when I don’t post a link, and it’s fun (and not always that hard) to guess what got it caught in the filters.

    2. Gene*

      My money is on “cleavage” (if this gets moderated, that’s it.)

      I had one that went to moderation, and Alison (properly) let it die there. We had an offline discussion about it and she was right.

    3. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Sometimes it’s truly just a fluke. For instance, if the spam filter malfunctions, it’ll send everything to moderation during that time, which is usually only a few minutes.

      If everything you send is going to moderation, there’s an issue and you should email me about it. But if it’s just occasional, it’s just a weird fluke and nothing to get alarmed about.

  82. Lynne*

    Hi folks,

    I work in a pretty decent place, though it is a cubicle farm. I work in a small (7 person) dept and have the smallest cube. I went to the gym at lunch and came back to find everyone talking about changing to an open-office environment (I blame a nearby department for doing this, they’re thrilled by it). I hate this idea. Not only do I have a cube set up in such a way that without walls I’d essentially be in the main hallway of my building, but my coworkers routinely conduct 5+ person meetings in their cubes, take conference calls on speaker phone daily, etc. I need what tiny barriers I have. My walls help me concentrate.

    I mentioned that I didn’t love the idea and that I thought while that could work well for teams that work in silos, that we already collaborate frequently and effectively (true). I also mentioned having read some studies showing that sort of office plan can reduce productivity. They all shrugged and basically said “I think it would be cool, I am open to it.” I don’t want to be the office curmudgeon or look like I am not a team player but I do not want this! Any other suggestions? I need my walls.

    1. fposte*

      Whose actual decision is it? If it’s a manager’s, can you talk privately to the manager and see if there’s an opt-out possibility? If the manager balks or it’s the group decision, I think your best position might be to give it a try and then seek to get a wall back for you later if it doesn’t work for you. I think you’ll get more points for gamely swimming with the current for a while than fighting it.

  83. Snork Maiden*

    My close acquaintance just found out they are being laid off. What would you suggest I can do to help them? (We are in different fields, so alas I can do little in the way of offering them a job). I’ve sent them the Ask a Manager advice on layoffs and I’m taking them out for a good supper and a drink. What is something you wished you had if/when you were suddenly made redundant?

    1. Mints*

      Generally, try to read signals if whether they want advice or just “Man, that sucks.” Lots of times, it’s just the latter

      Also, invite them to free/cheap outings (like getting ice cream, free concert) because lots of people will feel obligated to pay half, even if you offer to cover.

    2. Graciosa*

      What I wanted most was a job.

      Until I found one, I wanted something to distract me from thinking constantly about my lack of a job – or someone to listen as I thought about it endlessly out loud – or someone to reassure me that This Too Shall Pass. Which of these took priority varied wildly from moment to moment.

      Loss of a job feels like an emergency which requires immediate (sometimes frantic) action to fix. I’m sensing a bit of that in your post as you search for something else you can do to help, but this probably isn’t something you can fix at all. What may be most helpful is stepping back and letting the person directly affected take the lead. If you can remain a steady oasis of calm throughout what may be a very long job search process you will have done this person a great service.

      Good luck to both of you.

  84. YouWillNeverWorkInThisTownAgain*

    What’s a reasonable transition time period for an internal move?

    We just hired a new person on our team and they currently work for our company, but in another department. Their current department wants a three month transition time, which I find to be ridiculous. We’ve “settled” on a two month time period, but even that seems excessive to me.

    They’ve also been piling on long-term projects on our new hire since they announced they are leaving, which seems so strange to me.

    1. Sadsack*

      My company allows for up to six weeks, but there are sometimes managers who negotiate for more. They suck.

    2. MaryMary*

      ExJob was terrible about transition timing, three months or more was not uncommon. It usually involved splitting time between both roles for a while. My last role at Ex-Job involved a move to a different building, and I had a couple of weeks where M-W-F I was in one building an T-Th I was in the other. It was ridiculous.

      In my opinion, anything over a month is excessive. If someone quit to take an outside position, you’d transition their work within two weeks. It’s doable, there’s no excuse to prolong the inevitable just because it’s an internal transition.

    3. EvilQueenRegina*

      When I was redeployed in a restructure, I knew where I was going to on 18th December and started on 20th January. A lot of that time, however, was limbo when I didn’t know exactly when it would be, and I only got my definite date a week in advance, so my winding things up in Old Role was very rushed.

      The job change I had before that was also internal but that dragged on for about six weeks (long story, our manager had been encouraging us for weeks to look for other jobs because layoffs were coming but as soon as people started getting offered other jobs she tried everything to hang on to us all as long as possible!) and by the end I’d just had enough and was desperate to move on.

  85. Golden Yeti*

    I’m wondering: if you’re wanting to keep in touch with a recruiter/company, what’s the acceptable time frame between communications? I’m thinking of re-contacting a company I talked to about a month ago, but I don’t want to be too heavy-handed.

  86. Boss's MiniMe?*

    I work at a small non-profit that has been understaffed since I joined last October. My boss, who is a national expert in our field, talked to me today about mentoring me to become a “mini-her.” This aligns with my long-term goals of becoming a non-profit executive, but I’m concerned about three things:

    1) My mother has some serious health problems and may need me to move home to help take care of her in the next couple of months. I don’t know yet the full situation. Is it worth it to talk to my boss about how this would work? We’re in DC and Mom is in the deep South.

    2) I would like to start a family in the next couple of years (I’m 29) and I’m not sure that a CEO-track is compatible with this. How can this be balanced?

    3) I’m already overloaded at work and I’m not sure how much else I can take on. It’s not clear to me if a new role would also come with new salary, and it’s hard to make enough money in DC to save for things like cars, reasonably sized apartments, etc.

    My options if I move home would be either to practice law or to become a consultant.

    1. Celeste*

      #3 says it all. You would need to tell her you are considering her offer, but of course you have these questions. I’m guessing it does not come with a pay raise, but ask. Maybe you could negotiate letting something else(s) fall off your plate. The place being chronically understaffed is a separate issue. Could be that you need some fundraising just to get more staff no matter what.

      I feel like you could start the mentoring if you liked without having to commit to going forward with it. #1 and #2 hint at you not knowing what the future holds, so I feel like you should just admit that you don’t know what mentoring will do to your future.

      I’m sorry about your mother and hope that she will be okay.

      1. Boss's MiniMe?*

        Thanks, Celeste. I appreciate your thoughtful comments and the well-wishes for my mother.

    2. Gene*

      I know it’s not the norm, especially in the South where many people live in the same town, if not house, all their life, but is there a pressing reason you can’t relocate your mother to DC?

      1. Boss's MiniMe?*

        Hi Gene, thanks for the suggestion. I hadn’t thought about it, but that might be one potential solution. That may be one solution – they’re not yet retired, so they need both of their jobs to support themselves (and I don’t make enough to support them and my small family).

  87. Bess*

    Managing up question here:

    I’m working for a micromanager who wants all the details of what I’m doing but doesn’t do a great job helping me manage workflow (which has been pretty heavy- I’m picking up slack for other people who left but whose positions haven’t been filled). I’m on a big project with him and have things I need from him, but he’s constantly changing what he said he wants from me or the project, and he doesn’t come through with his own deadlines. I’m trying to manage up by sending weekly emails with everyone’s deliverables and lingering questions, but moving the work is a heavy lift without more engagement from him. He’s also frequently out of the office which makes it harder to pop in for a status update. Any ideas for what I can do to manage things more effectively? Any advice is greatly appreciated.

    1. Dawn*

      “Jim Bob, here’s a list of everything I’m working on. Problem A- if I do not hear from you differently by COB today I am going to do X. Problem B- If I do not hear from you differently by COB today I’m going to do Y. Problem C …”

      If tomorrow rolls around and he goes “OH MY GOD HOW COULD YOU HAVE DONE X THAT’S NOT WHAT I WANTED YOU TO DO” then bat your eyelashes and direct him to the email you sent him yesterday. It’s stressful but it’s a really good way to let your boss know what you’re working on and what you intend to do while still giving him a clear timeline for jumping in with direction if he wants to offer it.

    2. Chriama*

      If you try to get him to help you prioritize and he doesn’t, I agree with Dawn. Tell him what you’ll be doing and tell him to let you know if he has any concerns. For work that you’re not doing, make sure to justify yourself in writing. “The saucer project is going to be on the backburner until next week because Apollo hasn’t gotten back to be with the specs after 2 email requests and Daphne needs the spout design approved by the end of this month.” That way, if he questions why something isn’t happening you don’t look incompetent.

    3. Graciosa*

      Sometimes it helps to think about what would make it easier for your boss to give you what you what you need. For example, my current one responds to subject lines in all caps for certain topics, like “ACTION REQUIRED BY TUESDAY NOON” or “WORK STOPPED UNTIL DATA RECEIVED” which I would find obnoxious. I have some groups of people who need to sign off on decisions who respond immediately if I provide voting buttons (and may or may not reply in a week or so if I don’t).

      If your boss isn’t responding to comprehensive emails, maybe you need to break them up into digestible pieces for him. Or if he doesn’t like responding to emails at all, maybe you’ll have better luck with other forms of communication. I had one boss I could always reach if I phoned his mobile around 5:30; if I had needed a CYA document dealing with him I would have followed up with a summary email of our discussion.

      You may have to keep trying a lot of different techniques until you stumble upon the one that works best. It’s much easier if you can just ask him what will be most effective (and you should certainly try if you haven’t already) but sometimes these types of people lack sufficient self-awareness to give you a useful answer.

      I know this must be really frustrating – good luck.

  88. Jen RO*

    Things are starting to become clear at work, and most signs are good. Background: we have people from three teams in my location (same job, different product). Team 1 is led by my friend, who is pregnant and going on maternity leave for a year at some point in December. Team 2 (where I am) is led by someone who has been laid off and will also be leaving in December. Team 3 is being led by someone in another location, who is a jerk and sucks at managing. I left the company last year, after almost 4 years with them (on Team 1), and came back 3 months ago on Team 2.

    My friend met with our common boss today to plan for her absence, and it looks like it will work out fine for everyone, if big boss agrees: I would become team lead for Team 2, and sorta-kinda team lead for Team 1 (helping them out basically, since I used to work on that product and I have a lot of experience). Also, big boss will talk the lead of Team 3 and tell him to stop being an idiot, because his two employees in our location (who actually do all the work) are already job searching because of him.

    The good part is that, I hope, no one will leave and no feathers will be ruffled, since everyone in our location respects me and wants me (or can at least tolerate me) as interim lead. The bad part is that I don’t want to lead anything! I could last a year, I suppose, just because I don’t want to see our work go to hell – but if my friend doesn’t get the promotion she was promised, she won’t be coming back after maternity leave… and I definitely don’t want my “interim-ship” to last forever! (The plan – before she announced her pregnancy – was for her to become the line manager for teams 1 and 2, which would mean that I could handle the day to day stuff, and she could handle the icky stuff like talking to people about bad things.)

  89. Anonyby*

    How many red flags does it take to turn you off a job posting?

    I see postings with red flags all the time, but I still apply to at least some of them. And then earlier this week there was one job posting where the job description/desired qualifications mostly looked okay…but then it turned into a huge rant about how he doesn’t want whoever he hires to behave and things he’s going to focus on… When I was done reading it, I couldn’t believe that I was still considering responding. The items that he went on about were reasonable, but the fact that he spent more of the job ad focusing on that than the job itself seemed like a huge red flag to me. (I ended up not responding.)

    1. Colette*

      Wow, that’s definitely one to avoid!

      I think I’d apply with one red flag, but I’d be looking for others. (Are they flaky or demanding about scheduling interviews? Do the people you see treat each other with respect?) I’d also directly ask questions about whatever concerned me – how the organization is structured, how involved the president is in the day-to-day life of the business, why the last person left, when was the last time someone in the department worked on the weekend, etc.

    2. In progress*

      Trust your instincts! If there’s something you still don’t feel sold on, remember that the interview is for you to decide if you want to work there, too.

      1. Anonyby*

        If only I were getting interviews! I’ve had one preliminary phone interview, and there were red flags in both the ad and in the way the phone interview was handled (calling out of the blue and launching immediately into the interview without even asking if it was a good time, much less asking if they could schedule one), so I wasn’t that upset when they didn’t get back to me the way they said they would…

        Most of the job ads I’ve been replying to have one or two small red flags, but if I didn’t apply to them then I’d be applying to nothing. This particular red flag just seemed so out there…

  90. Probably best to be anon today*

    I fear that my frustration with a coworker who asks never-ending questions, including a high percentage of completely pointless ones, may be approaching “bitch eating crackers” territory. I’m trying to pull myself back from the edge, because I’ve been there before in a previous job and it’s really not fun. Things I’m trying include:

    – avoiding the temptation to vent with another coworker who I know shares my frustrations (it’s nice to be validated and realize you’re not being completely unreasonable, but the temptation, it is strong);
    – making a conscious effort to notice when the frustrating person makes a good contribution (this worked for me on my commutes to work on my bicycle – I was approaching an “all drivers are evil and want to kill me” mindset after a run of near misses with people running red lights and swerving into bike lanes, and made a conscious effort to notice the actions of courteous drivers).

    Any other suggestions? I interact with this person a LOT, so I can’t really just avoid her.

    1. Jen RO*

      I will be following the replies. My (other) coworkers and I are in the venting phase already… and sometimes this makes it worse!

      My only coping technique, so far, is engaging as little as possible. She asks a question, I answer, she (always!) wants to discuss further, so I just started telling her that if my answer isn’t enough she should go talk to Expert X or Y. She probably hates it, because she loves over-analyzing every little thing, but I just refuse to get roped in.

    2. Colette*

      Are they “how do I do X” questions, or random questions about anything that comes to mind?

      If it’s the first, I’d start pushing back. “What have you tried?” “I think we had a similar issue last week, have you checked the mailbox to see what Jane did?” – don’t refuse to help, but make it easier for her to find the answer herself than to ask you.

      If the questions are random and non-work related, you can just be less engaged – “Wow, can you believe it rained again?” “Mmm.” – or just directly say you need to get back to work.

      I like the idea of avoiding venting and pointing out the good things she does, as well, I think that will help.

      1. Probably best to be anon today*

        Thanks for your response – figuring out how to respond to the questions in a (mostly) constructive way that also reduces their number in future is a great strategy!

        The questions are a real mix – some are fine, others seem to come from a profound misunderstanding of some of our processes (or maybe just mouth-before-brain-syndrome), and the most frequent type seem to be just her version of small talk, to fill a silence (e.g. after we got an all-staff email this morning with the title “B1 server room” (where B1 is our Basement 1 level, in a small building), she interrupted my work to ask me “where’s the B1 server room?” Um, a) it’s on B1, and b) you will never need to know where the server room is).

        I find the third category of questions the most annoying because of the sheer number of them, but I will try the “mmm” thing, thank you! The second category is probably the hardest to deal with – the “have you tried” approach wouldn’t really logically follow from some of them, because you have to reply with “no, wait, actually, we don’t put the spouts on the top of the teapot at all, they have to go on the side” (cue multiple follow-up questions about why this is, at least for the less obvious examples).

        I guess, charitably, she could just be asking this type of question as a knee jerk first response, without thinking about it first – so maybe asking “hold on, why do you think the spout goes on the top?” would be a better response to that kind of thing. I will try that next time!

        1. Colette*

          You can also refer her to documentation, if it exists – i.e. “Have you checked the teapot architecture guide? I think it covers this.” It’s also fine to decline to answer questions like the server room. “I’ve never needed to find it.” “Don’t know, sorry.”

          It might be a knee jerk response, or it might just be that she needs more social interaction than she’s getting, but if you make the behavior less rewarding (i.e. don’t engage), you might see a change.

        2. Jillociraptor*

          I had a manager once who loved to interrogate her employees about every aspect of their work, including some questions of the “B1” category. For her, it was less that she didn’t know the answer or actually needed the information, and more that she felt super on the hook for every project and was trying to help assuage her anxiety by going deeper and deeper into our work. It’s kind of like how little kids ask “Why?” repeatedly. They actually don’t care why, but they want to feel secure that you actually do understand how the universe works.

          I don’t think that’s your coworker’s actual issue, but I say it to suggest that you look for what she’s trying to get at. It’s probably not information. It could be as you say a simple knee-jerk reaction to not knowing the answer (i.e. it’s easier to ask than investigate). She might also be lonely and trying to make small-talk in an albeit awkward way. She might get the sense that she doesn’t quite understand what’s supposed to be happening so she’s hoping to pick up more context generally by asking lots of questions. She could just be someone who processes everything verbally. But maybe looking into what’s motivating her questions could help you identify a good strategy to help her, so that your work isn’t interrupted (by her questions or by B-E-C stewing!)

    3. Not So NewReader*

      You may have to have a chat with her about appropriate questions.

      Explain to her that her endless stream of questions could detract from her professional appearance or credibility.

      Some questions are necessary. But some questions are not necessary and the answers will become apparent in awhile. It is part of her professionalism to accurately ascertain which questions are absolutely necessary and limit herself to just asking those questions.

      Explain that it is fine to have an inquiring mind, but in the work world it is more important to focus on the work itself. This is because of your own deadlines and other people waiting for your work to be completed so they can meet their deadline, etc.
      You may need to say, “If we are asking questions all day long then we are not making money for the company. That means our paychecks are in jeopardy.”

      Then inform her that going forward you will only be answering questions about the work in front of her today. If she repeats questions, answer with, “We talked about that yesterday. Now, what did we say the answer to that question was?”

      I worked with a woman that asked questions non-stop. It was to the point where I no longer could have my own train of thought. Every. time. I. turned. around. there. she. was. I really wondered if she was losing her mind.
      The best I could do there was just answer her question with a question. It took months. Finally she decided to ask other people, not me.

  91. Audiophile*

    It’s so weird be posting right at the beginning of these open threads. I completely missed last week’s and this one is already pretty packed.

    New job is definitely taking a lot of adjustment. Manager and I haven’t “jelled” yet (manager’s word, not mine). I pointed out, it’s barely been two weeks, I didn’t really expect us to jel very quickly. I need to start asking for more clarification, because there’s been two instances where manager wanted something done and I wasn’t aware that it was a top priority. I think a lot of this will be sorted out with time spent together and communicating on projects. It’s just hard for me, because I want to do well and be successful and I feel like I’ve dropped the ball a lot already.

    1. Dawn*

      TALK with your manager! All the time! About everything! Have you sat down and asked her what she wants from you? What kind of communication she wants, how frequent, is it in person or email? This is the kind of thing that you can solve with a quick, direct conversation. For example, my old manager and I had a situation similar to the one you described, until she sat me down and said “OK, I want you to send me a detailed list of every single thing you’re working on every Friday, and then we will sit down and go over it in our 1:1 meetings on Tuesdays, and then I want you to CC me on every email you send out until I tell you not to”. From then on it was smooth sailing, because she knew everything I was doing and I knew she’d jump in and steer me where I needed to go. Eventually she backed off more and more as I got to know my job more intimately.

      1. Audiophile*

        Well that’s part of the problem. She had said she wanted to see things, so I was going based on that – emailing, asking her to come by my office – and then the other day, she became more hands off. So when she did this, I tried to come back and say ‘well you call look at this thing before I post it’ and I was surprised when she said no and wanted to know why I hadn’t understood that she had expected me to post it. So I think Monday will be a more proactive day, where I request a sit down and ask what she expects. I’ve asked for some clarification on a few things, but that related to getting one message from her and something else from someone else on the team.

    2. Chriama*

      Make it a habit of asking what the priority is on things she asks you to do. Also, I think she probably doesn’t know what she wants. A manager who says you two haven’t “gelled” is a manager who doesn’t know that proper communication doesn’t just happen naturally if you give it time. You have to work at it! I would probably bring up to her that you would like to “gel” but it will require setting clear and explicit expections on both your parts, and ask her what she wants of you.

      1. Audiophile*

        I don’t believe she’s new to managing. She managed the last person in this role – everyone I interviewed with had great things to say about last person (left for a better paying job). But yeah that statement left me taken aback. I think some of it may be – we had a great conversation during the interview, it flowed pretty nicely (though I was less than thrilled with some of my answers), so maybe the thinking was that based on that, our conversation styles were more similar than they are? I don’t know. I’ll get to the bottom of it. I much prefer when people are more direct with me, “Audiophile do this.” As opposed to, “do these three things, whatever order you want.” I think most of that is my learning disability.

  92. ANB*

    Anyone else experience this at work?
    We have bathrooms with multiple stalls, and often when there’s one other person in a stall they go completely silent while I’m there. I don’t know if they’re trying to pretend like they’re not there, but I can always tell when I’m not alone. I get the urge to say “I know you’re in there” before I leave, but I’m good at keeping those thoughts to myself. Anyone have rational theories on this or do it themselves?
    I hope this is work-related enough, I’ve only ever seen it happen at work!

    1. Malissa*

      Silent people in the bathroom are a blessing! I’m guessing they just want to pretend they are alone.

      1. De Minimis*

        I have a thing where if I’m in the stall, I’ll often wait until people have left before I make my exit. It doesn’t apply if it’s just someone in another stall, then I’ll just leave.

        It’s not OCD to the point where I have to do it, but it’s my preferred practice.

        1. fposte*

          Yeah, I’m not completely committed to silence, but I want to maintain the illusion of the closed door equaling nobody’s in there at all doing anything, nope. I think it’s a social courtesy to allow us to continue with such illusions.

    2. fposte*

      What is it you’re thinking they should be doing? I guess I think it’s weirder if people are noisy than quiet in a communal bathroom.

      1. ANB*

        I guess I just expect the sounds of tp or something. I understand them waiting like De Minimis says above, but to make NO sound just seems weird to me…

    3. ANB*