open thread – October 17, 2014

It’s the Friday open thread!

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

{ 1,169 comments… read them below }

  1. Mike C.*

    So here’s a question I’ve been thinking about this week. It was announced that Apple and Facebook are now willing to pay for women to choose to freeze their eggs for later implantation. Is this a great perk to attract more women to places that are notorious for not being women friendly places, or will female employees be pressured to use this perk rather than take time off? I can’t really decide which.

    1. BadPlanning*

      To me, longer paternity leave where men are expected to take it (not the “we offer it, but everyone will mock you for taking it”) seems like it would be a better perk to attracting women. If men and women take baby leave, then it’s “normal” and not “ugh, she’s going to be popping out another kid….we can’t put her on project X.”

      1. Mike C.*

        Then there’s the middle ground of “yeah it’s expensive, but it’s not like we hire a ton of women anyway, so we’ll do it for the publicity”, but there’s only so much cynicism I can cram into a single post.

      2. Anonsie*

        I think this is something we should be doing across the board for a huge number of reasons, starting with the fact that dads flipping deserve it and ending with your point here.

      3. Kate, Chicago*

        An on site nursery where mothers can have easy access to their infants would be great. Especially if it was subsidized to some degree.

        1. Camellia*

          This would be fantastic on all levels. Can we get Dolly, Lily, and Jane to take over all the corporations now?

        2. Mallory Janis Ian*

          And the subsidized amount could vary by salary band. For example, at the university where I worked until just recently, there were reduced annual parking fees for those making $34K and under.

          1. Natalie*

            My company handles spouse & dependent health coverage in a similar fashion. Employee coverage is a flat amount per check, and spouse and dependent are a specific (small) percentage of your salary. It caps at $300 per paycheck if I recall correctly.

    2. NK*

      I think help with childcare would be much better. It’s a nice option for women who want it I suppose, but it feels icky to me for the latter reason you suggested.

    3. Stephanie*

      I cynically read it as a way to keep women working in the office during a time when some women leave the workforce or look for less demanding jobs (“Here! Now you can spend the last of your childbearing years crunching ad data!”). Coincidentally enough, I have a phone interview with one of those companies in a couple of hours. I find it a little creepy, especially given the cost and that the company seems to have halfway-decent maternity benefits.

      1. Ophelia*

        A coworker and I were talking about this news yesterday. I actually find it pretty offensive, as if they’re saying, as you implied, “we don’t want you to have babies and leave, so use this incentive to put off getting pregnant until you’re high enough up on the workforce hierarchy that you won’t want to stay home.” I think there are much better ways of giving incentive for women to return to work after having children, like paid maternity leave for an actually reasonable amount of time, in-house childcare, and as someone else mentioned, even paternity leave.

        This is an issue I’m especially attuned to now, as I’m currently pregnant and debating the benefits of staying at home versus working at an office. I think this is an issue facing many women in my generation as they think about whether they’ll actually make any profit by returning to work and thus needing to put their child in day care, which at least in my area, can often be more expensive than the take-home pay.

        1. Natalie*

          You probably know this, but just in case – simply comparing take home pay and childcare costs sometimes make it seem like a wash between the two choices, or even that staying home is the cheaper choice. But many people who leave the workforce for several years experience a fairly significant lifetime earnings hit. That should be part of any stay home/go back to work decision.

          1. C Average*

            + so, so much.

            My husband is a high earner and his ex-wife wanted to stay home with the kids. Financially, this was a great idea for their family. Fast-forward five years, and they’re divorcing, and she’s been out of the workforce and can’t get a job. She had to go back to school and get a second master’s to make herself marketable . . . in a brand-new field, at 42 years old.

            I make peanuts compared to my husband, and everyone’s lives would be a million times easier if I stayed home and did all the household administrative stuff and schlepped kids around. But I never will. There’s no way in the world I’d take the risk of becoming unemployable by spending time out of the workforce.

            Women (and men, too) who voluntarily opt out of the workforce need to consider what they’d do if they found themselves on their own (widowed, divorced, supporting the family if the spouse lost his or her job, etc.). These things do happen.

        2. Biff*

          I work in tech and I actually found the whole thing kind of sinister. In Silicon Valley the tech companies have all kinds of ways of making sure employees don’t go home and, more importantly, have a life that revolves around work. They have laundry services, massage services, DocWagon (ok, it’s an arm of Standford Health in a bus, but you get the point) and FB is even building corporate housing. Most teams have happy hours that blur the lines between friends and coworkers, managers and crew. I felt like this was another extension of the effort to keep people at work, in their chair.

          But more than that, this benefit is an anchor. Freezing eggs is an expensive proposition. Once you are using the company dough to store your eggs…. it’s going to be very difficult to jump ship for a similar position unless it comes with a pay hike. Otherwise, good-bye eggs. And, if you do choose to jump ship and lose them… it might mean no children at all. While it’s all a moot point to me (no kids, don’t want kids) for some I see this as a faustian bargain.

    4. Pontoon Pirate*

      I’m still sorting out my own thoughts on this one, but there was a thoughtful article in Slate this week that touches on other reasons this perk might be considered from the perspective of a women who knows she wants kids, wants to raise them with a partner, but isn’t there yet in her personal life. The author suggests that it is a benefit that should be on the table alongside the benefits we sorely lack: paid parental leave, for instance.

      1. Pontoon Pirate*

        My comment is in moderation because I provided a link, but I’ll take the opportunity here to clarify that the article itself is not written by a woman who “knows she wants kids …” yadda, but that the author poses this perspective as one she encounters frequently as a medical specialist dealing with high-risk pregnancies.

      2. The IT Manager*

        I didn’t give this as much thought as many of you, but it struck me as a perk. I never had a great desire for kids but expected it to happen after I got the husband. I am now in the risky/difficult child bearing years. Knowing what I know that I’m 40 without kids yet, it seems like a perk to me. I kind of wish this had been an option in my early 30s; although, I had serious boyfriend then and fully expected to have his ifs until the relationship fell apart.

      3. Sunflower*

        This is exactly how I feel. There are a lot of women who aren’t planning to have children til later for many reasons that don’t necessarily revolve around ‘the maternity policy in my office sucks’. There are some women who may want to continue working and not take time off til later as a personal preference, not because they feel they are forced into it by their strict leave policies

      4. Larisa*

        This was actually my good friend’s response. She is 31 and wants children. She’d have them now if she could. Only thing is….she is single. She hasn’t met the right person to be the father of those children She said she would jump on an offer from an employer to freeze her eggs for later in life when she has met that right person. She is concerned her ‘best’ fertile years are being wasted right now.

      5. Kyrielle*

        …I hadn’t considered that. Thank you: I have had to reconsider my position on this, and I really appreciate it.

        I will instead say that I think such a policy should be embedded in a family-friendly context, with good policies for those who do want to (and can) have children now.

        But this has seriously changed my view quite a bit. Thank you again.

      6. Anonsie*

        Ding ding ding. What keeps being left out of this issue is that a lot of us actually want such a benefit because we really don’t want to have kids young, for whatever other reasons.

        In fact I feel like that gets left out of the women in the workplace discussions all the time… The fact that not all women want kids or want kids young or want to be home all the time* or whathaveyou. A third of women never have children, but issues of women in the workplace consistently come back to being a working mom– with the occasional dip into being underpaid. I’m not at all arguing that the issues working moms face aren’t important or pervasive, but boy is that not the only problem, and I think we are creating a lot of additional complications by consistently couching this issue from the perspective of the young mom only.

        *I will refrain from getting on my soap box about how much the responsibilities of the other parent are also left out despite being a holy crap huge and irreconcilable part of these problem

        1. JC*

          YES, thank you for saying this. Being able to work if you choose and also have the benefits that help you with being able to raise your child the way you want is absolutely an important issues for parents. But as a woman who does not want children, I often find it frustrating that some discussions of women in the workplace come to a stop at the issue of children. It also does not help that I am in a demographic where others expect I will have a baby soon (32 and married for several years), and so others assume that the working parent-related issues resonate with me, when they do not.

    5. MJH*

      It’s a nice idea, but women need to be aware that egg-freezing doesn’t easily solve the fertility question. Once you are ready to use them, eggs must be unfrozen and placed via IVF, which takes a total of 3 tries to work, if it does. It’s also expensive (does insurance or egg freezing cover that? If you leave the company, are freezing fees your responsibility?) and requires hormone treatments (I think.) Giving women more options NOW seems like a better idea than egg-freezing.

      I imagine the women who do take advantage are women who don’t have a partner but are worried about their bio clock or women who are undecided about kids right now. But encouragement to take maternity/paternity time for both fathers and mothers, and an atmosphere where that is welcome, seems like a much better plan.

      1. ella*

        I have a friend who recently went through IVF treatments, and while it was successful, the process was apparently less than fun.

        1. KellyK*

          Yep, “less than fun” is right. I’ve never been through IVF, but IUI is annoying, and IVF is, from what I’ve heard, worse. (The initial monitoring is the same, the end of the process is just more involved.) Here, show up bright and early for invasive tests and bloodwork, and we’ll call you in the afternoon to schedule your next appointment. It might be tomorrow, even if tomorrow is a Saturday, so don’t make any plans! Oh, and your trigger shot has to be kept refrigerated, so unless you live near a specialty pharmacy, plan on taking *yet more* time off work to sign for that delivery.

          Not that I’m cranky or anything, but I am glad to hear it worked for your friend.

          1. KellyK*

            Yeah, mine too. It doesn’t help that, of the two people I know who’ve had IVF, one had twins and one had triplets. (I think the one with twins may actually have started with trips and had a selective reduction, if I’m recalling correctly.)

            The odds of having multiples are greater than one in four for IVFs where multiple embryos are implanted, compared to one in eighty in the population as a whole.

      2. KellyK*

        Insurance generally doesn’t cover IVF. There are some states that require that it be covered, but even 50% coverage brings a 10-15k procedure down to 5-7k. Multiply that by three or four tries…yeah, ouch.

        If a company is offering egg-freezing as *part* of offering insurance that actually covers fertility issues, then that’s great. Mostly for the people you mentioned—women who don’t have a partner now or who are undecided/don’t want kids yet, but don’t want to rule out the option forever. But by itself, it very strongly sends the icky “we don’t want you to have kids while you work here—put it off as long as scientifically possible” message.

      3. Cat*

        Yeah, I seriously doubt a single person will delay having children because egg freezing is available. It is basically impossible to be a woman over 28 in modern America and to not have heard every piece of information about fertility and related options more times than you can count. So some of the coverage that is like “those selfish career women just don’t get how they need to have babies NOW and not be so selfish” really bothers me. Trust me, we know.

        This is a great option for people who aren’t in a position to have babies now and can really help them.

        1. Mike C.*

          Anyone who seriously believes that someone is selfish for not having kids at a specific time/at all needs a good smack in the face. Two smacks if they actually say it out loud.

          1. Cat*

            Yeah, it’s incredibly frustrating – another example of how women are damned if they do, damned if they don’t in society.

          2. C Average*

            Just about all kid-having decisions are selfish. People have kids young because they want to. People have kids when they’re older because they want to. People don’t have kids because they don’t want to. Personal decisions like this tend to be selfish because . . . wait for it . . . we’re making them for ourSELVES.

            My kid-having choices were selfish. So are the choices of just about everyone else who has any control over his or her fertility.

            So yeah, I agree that the whole selfishness accusation needs to go away. Not because it’s inaccurate, but because it’s universally accurate.

      4. Cucumber*

        Apologies, but I’d like to clarify some inaccuracies in what you’ve just posted. I have been dealing with infertility for almost eight years. First, egg freezing does potentially solve fertility problems for some people. No, IVF does NOT take a “total of 3 tries to work, if it does.” Some people get pregnant the first time they try with IVF; others try many times and then get pregnant, or never get pregnant after ten tries. Or, they get pregnant, but then lose the baby. Some people simply can’t succeed with their eggs, and must use eggs from a donor.

        Egg quality and number is a major reason why people turn to IVF, because these both drop naturally over time. We are born with all the eggs that we will ever have, unlike men, who also have age-related drops in fertility, but continue to generate new sperm much longer. When women are older, statistically, a greater number of their eggs are older. IVF treatment can include things like a genetic diagnosis, but it’s also possible for someone to do everything “right”, and then get told that the embryos created from their eggs are of such low quality, their IVF procedure will be cancelled.

        For whatever reason, I ended up one of those people whose egg quality and number started to drop earlier than expected, to the point where I’m expected to go into early menopause, probably 5 years early. I already have hot flashes, and I’m not yet 40.

        I’ve had multiple early miscarriages, no children. My only options to have a child now are donor eggs with IVF, donor eggs with a surrogate carrier, or adoption — assuming that I’m not one of the 5-8% of women with my condition who get spontaneously pregnant (in a last gasp by our bodies to push eggs out, some women get pregnant).

        My doctor told me I almost certainly had this condition in my twenties, and the only reason I was considered to have “unexplained infertility” for the first five years we tried, was medical error (a ob/gyn who didn’t notice my ovaries shrinking despite scans; cue some unnecessary tests), and the fact that a serum test has only been widely available for the last five years.

        So, is giving women more options “NOW” a better idea than egg freezing? Depends on the person. For a young woman working at Facebook or Apple with my condition, it might be the one shot they have to have a baby genetically related to them.

        I do agree that people should also receive paid parental leave, and onsite day care. As NPR reporters discussed this morning, very few companies cover fertility treatments, period. My company won’t pay for anything that isn’t diagnostic. IVF, medication, all that good stuff, I get to pay out of pocket.

        Yes, IVF requires days of hormone treatments to stimulate the egg production, unless you are trying the “mini-IVF” protocol. You will also be asked to take a stim shot in order to “push” the follicles and get the eggs at the right time in your schedule.

        One other thing – I haven’t read through the entire thread, but when the topic of infertility, and high tech treatments come up, there’s often someone who says, “Why don’t you just adopt?”. To anyone who thinks that, or says that – please research further before saying that. Start by learning about what’s now called the “baby scoop era”, when millions of young women got pregnant out of wedlock and gave up their children, often through coercion. Those bad old days are behind us – women have better choices these days. Adoption is very different now. There are far more couples wishing for an adopted child than homes available. The going rate for a baby ranges from $20,000 to $40,000 (unless you adopt out of foster care) and it involves many things, including thinking about home studies, whether the adoption will be “open” or “closed”, multiracial adoption, deciding on foster to adopt or whether a special needs child or child with reactive attachment disorder is something your household can handle. No one “just” adopts. Period.

        1. Natalie*

          “Start by learning about what’s now called the “baby scoop era”, when millions of young women got pregnant out of wedlock and gave up their children, often through coercion.”

          Have you read The Girls That Went Away?

          In a similar vein, there is a lot to be concerned about with foreign adoption. I highly recommend The Child Catchers (Katherine Joyce). Comprehensive look at the the difference between the narrative in the US, particularly within evangelical Christian circles, and the reality, which is substantially more complicated and horrible.

          1. Cucumber*

            Yes, I did read “The Girls That Went Away”. Simply amazing. My mother in law and one of my ex-boyfriends were both born during the Baby Scoop Era, and each has expressed anger or contempt for their bio mothers… After I read that book, I realized there was a very real chance they had been coerced or even forced to give up their children.

            Thanks for the suggestion on The Child Catchers. Overseas adoptions concern me too (one newspaper article I read, the reporter found an Indian boy who had been stolen from his family, and the adoptive parents made all kinds of excuses not to speak to his family or even check the DNA). I also have some issues with some of the LDS adoption agencies in Utah, amidst reports that children are being adopted without the father knowing or agreeing to terminate his rights. I read one news article about a teenager who was sent a plane ticket to Utah and signed paperwork to give up her child, without her parents’ knowledge or consent.

            Oh, and whoops, I meant that statistically, a larger number of women’s eggs are damaged or low quality as they age.

        2. VictoriaHR*

          I’m sorry for your struggles. I had wanted to be a surrogate or at least donate my eggs, but because my BMI was in the “overweight” category, they wouldn’t let me. And now that I’m almost 40, it’s completely off the table regardless of BMI. I wish you success in your journey!

        3. Liblady*

          There is a good book on the subject: The Big Lie: Motherhood, Feminism, and the Reality of the Biological Clock.

          1. Cucumber*

            That sounds like a fascinating book. I recall Lesley Stahl interviewing a woman who was writing a different book, about fifteen years ago, about the reality of the biological clock. She interviewed many young people who thought getting pregnant at 40 would be easy. For some of us, getting pregnant at 30, or even 20, might be hard – it really is a conversation every person (not just women) needs to think about while they still have a lot of choices.

    6. AVP*

      This is getting a lot of discussion on my young feminist Facebook group this week. All in all, it’s complicated but most of us** feel that we are pro women having options, and it’s a great benefit to have – even if you don’t use it, it’s nice to know that you have that option. I have a number of friends in high-pressure, high-visibility occupations who have mentioned interest in freezing eggs (we’re all 28-32) because we don’t know when our careers will allow us to have children, even though we think we may want them in the future. This is across single, committed relationship, and recently married women…I do wonder if we’ll get just a bit older and realize that we definitely do have time for families if we want to make it.

      On the other hand, if they’re paying for the freezing but not for the other (major) expenses that go along with it, it’s a lip-service benefit only. And it is frightening if this is just a way to encourage people to stay at the office even later and push off vacations and real life even further than we already are.

      And in general, it could be more of a symptom of our fractured health care / benefits system that no one can afford to have kids or freeze their eggs in the first place. In an ideal world, you don’t need companies to sponsor this stuff as a “perk” – it should be a reasonable option for people who want it no matter what you do as a career.

      That was a lot of rambling, but as you see we’re all a little conflicted on this!

      (**Not trying to speak for “the movement” or anyone except for the people I know!)

    7. Jubilance*

      I’d rather these companies provide a full year of paid parental leave, and then lobby both government and their peers to do the same. That would be a much bigger statement to me.

    8. whatnow*

      Having heard more about US labor laws I think better maternity leave would be an actual perk. If they have this baby from their frozen eggs, how are they going to deal with maternity leave, or as someone else said paternity leave?

      Egg freezing seems like both none of the company’s business, and potentially forcing people to put off having a baby, because they can just freeze their eggs. It seems like an area a workplace shouldn’t get involved in; other than offering great maternity leave/adoption leave/paternity leave, flexible working and good childcare options.

      1. Natalie*

        Plus daycare, after that first year or two (assuming two parents with consecutive leave). In my mid-sized city daycare for a toddler runs around $1200-1500 a month, or $7.50/hour assuming a 40 hour workweek.

      2. Nina*

        This was my thought as well. While freezing your eggs is a nice option, it doesn’t solve the problem of the pitiful maternity leave policy that so many places utilize. It feels like it’s a way to have you work harder and longer in the interim, because you’re under the impression that you can have a baby later.

        But if you’re (rightfully) concerned about the status of your job once the baby shows up, the issues you face with maternity/paternity leave are still there, whether it’s now, five years, or ten years.

        Also, what if you lose your job? Would Apple/Facebook own the eggs, or are they sitting on them until you buy them out?

        1. Cat*

          Wait, on your last sentence, I don’t think Apple and Facebook are actually providing the egg freezing services. I think they’re offering money to do it at a clinic that does it. If I’m misunderstanding that is a HUGE issue that hasn’t been reported.

          1. Nina*

            I just reread the USA Today article, since I haven’t seen it in a few days. This is what it says: “Facebook said it offers egg freezing for female employees up to $20,000” and “Apple also offers egg freezing and storage”.

            I didn’t mean that Apple or FB actually do the egg freezing themselves; that’s a whole different dept. What I meant was that if Apple & FB are footing the bill for the eggs to be stored year after year, what happens if the employee in question loses their job and can’t afford to keep the eggs in storage? Do the eggs get disposed of? If not, who owns them? I’d think the fertility clinic would, but do Apple & Facebook own any part of them as well?

            1. Cat*

              I don’t know the answers as to storage costs, but I’m sure it would be in the paperwork from the fertility clinic; this wouldn’t be sprung on you. I’m equally sure that Apple and Facebook don’t own employees’ embryos.

      3. JC*

        FWIW, my understanding is that the companies in question that are offering this *do* have good maternity leave policies in place, at least for the US (something like 4 fully paid months). My employer certainly does not offer that.

        1. JC*

          And by “maternity leave,” I meant “parental leave.” The folks I knew at facebook who were able to take advantage of their leave program were both fathers, who had also both been with facebook for less than a year.

    9. Kyrielle*

      I was honestly hugely offended and aggravated when I heard about this.

      First, family-friendly policies would be more use than reproductive services.

      Second, it’s *not that simple*. “Oh, just freeze your eggs and use them later” assumes that you won’t have problems with hormone levels preventing you from *keeping* a pregnancy, that later will ever be allowed to happen, that you won’t have a health crisis that means you never get to use the eggs at all (unless a surrogate is involved).

      Third, it’s just freezing the eggs – not fertilized, from what I read? Which means Dad is aging and his eventual sperm would be older. Which is actually a small risk factor for some health issues, as I understand it.

      And, keeping up with small children is tiring. Better for the parents and the children if the parents are young and healthy.

      The younger the parents are, the more likely they’ll live to see their children grow up.

      But most of all…it’s “oh, we know we ask you to put your life on hold for us. So we’ll help pay the hold fees!” No. No, no, no!

      (NB: I bring up age as a factor where the company is artificially influencing it. It’s certainly not a big enough factor that people should avoid kids because of it – absolutely not. But it is enough of a factor that I think a company artificially pushing the parental age of its female employees up by “helping” them is not nice, and that it might be a concern of those employees.)

      Also, want to bet that now that this is available, *women* who take parental leave at those companies will also be looked down on?

      …and if you leave the company, of course they’d no longer be paying the yearly maintenance fees, which you’d have to take on. Oops.

      1. Cat*

        I think this would be true were the company encouraging women to wait to have kids. However, an awful lot of women are just not in a position where they can have kids at the “prime” fertility age and there’s nothing wrong with a company providing egg freezing as a benefit as part of their a comprehensive suite of benefits. As a substitute for parental leave, it’s awful. In addition to generaous parental leave, it’s just another good benefit.

        1. Cat*

          SA. To clarify, it shouldn’t be an either/or – either you have fertility benefits or you have programs to support parents. You should definitely have the latter and if you do, the former is a nice benefit for employees who aren’t yet parents but may want to be.

        2. Kyrielle*

          Thank you. Yes, I am rethinking my position on this – I saw it through the lens of “many tech companies want ideal workers” and thus mommy-hood is discouraged – as another way to discourage it. (And of course, I’m married and a mother, so I see it through the lens of “why would I have wanted to do that”? – when, of course, I’m probably not the target person for this benefit!)

          I didn’t think of it embedded in a context otherwise supportive of families. In that context, and especially if women who want children now and are in a position (personally / home life) to have them aren’t encouraged to defer, it’s a really nice benefit.

      2. Jady*

        This is all of my thoughts exactly.

        The entire move seems to be a way to encourage women to not have children. They are legally required not to discriminate against women, so they want to eliminate the potential downsides of having female employers.

      3. Cucumber*

        There are also benefits for those who choose to have a child later in life, reporting for instance, more confidence in their parenting abilities; those who put off marriage until their late twenties or older, or who are college educated before getting married, divorce in lower numbers (which is a net benefit for their kids).

        Have you seen the research indicating that older mothers may be statistically more likely to live longer? In other words, the opposite of your thesis? The study didn’t look at women using IVF, or parse out women with PCOS (who often have a better chance of getting pregnant later in life, but have other risk factors), though, but here’s an article: – unfortunately a scientist quoted also suggests Halle Berry is a typical late in life mother, without indicating that many over-40 moms in Hollywood use frozen or donor eggs.

        My first thought was that, statistically it might not be true that the younger parents are, the more likely they’ll live to see their children grow up. For instance, it might be that when you reach a certain age, you age out of certain risk factors that could cause you to die of something other than natural causes. For instance, if you’re a 32 year old man, you might be less likely to die in an auto accident than a 22 year old man. You might postpone childbirth a few years because you have a higher socioeconomic status, and that might have some other benefits with it – greater access to prenatal care, greater access to health insurance or providers, more financial stability overall, which might correlate to increased health.

        I would have loved to have had my first child when I was younger, but it just wasn’t in the cards; by the same token, a friend of mine had her first child before she was 20, and rues the impact on her career. If more people discuss actual reproductive, and career realities – without judging each other or jumping to conclusions – this decision by Facebook and Apple may be good for everyone.

    10. Sunflower*

      I’d like to hear input from their current employees. I’m more curious if this was just something Apple and Facebook saw as a growing trend so they wanted to jump on it or if employees have complained about leave/working mother policies and this was the solution. I don’t know a lot about either of these companies workplace perks but what are their current benefits like? I’m aware of the more quirky ones but do they have unlimited time off policies(or are they work places that have them but don’t let people actually use them)

      I can only speak from my position in life. I’m 26 and no where close to meeting someone I am ready to settle down with. My main concern, as far as having a family is concerned is, ‘when i’m ready, will I be able to?’. Someone else my age might want to have children, but can’t because they can’t afford to take the time off from work. This perk speaks to us in two totally different ways. For me, I would see it as a perk. Someone else might see it as a non-solution solution.

      1. Anx*

        That is also my concern. I always thought, naively, that I’d work for 5-10 years, get married and have children, go part-time or some other situation where I could raise a family, and then go back to work.

        But now that I’ve seen so many smart, competent mothers of my peers struggle to reenter the workforce at the ripe old age of 55…and have spent 6 of those 10 years trying to get my first career track job and failing, I’m silently panicking that I can’t have both.

        Anything that would take the pressure off of ‘pregnant by 35’ would probably help me.

    11. Cat*

      I think were it just egg freezing, that would potentially lead to the pressure you describe. However, from what I’ve seen, this is actually more like that they’re adding more fertility coverage to their benefits package. I think that’s a good thing and isn’t particularly likely to lad to pressure.

    12. AndersonDarling*

      Bottom line-> Why is later better than now? I’m guessing the idea is that you are starting a career and you need to wait until you are a director to have a baby. So you should wait until you have more commitments and responsibilities in the workplace, then you should have a baby?
      It makes no sense to me.
      The impression I get is that these companies don’t want you having a baby while you are young, and you should wait until it is unlikely that you will have a successful pregnancy.
      (Sorry, that sounds like a conspiracy theory.) It would have made more sense to have on-site daycare.

      1. Cat*

        If you think about it as part of your health benefits, it’s a totally different thing. Some employees aren’t in a position to have a baby yet for reasons completely unrelated to work and could really use this. The same way they could really use any part of the health plan for reasons unrelated to work. (A company offering coverage for broken bones isn’t saying it doesn’t matter if you break your bones at work; suck it up and use the health plan.)

        If they’re pressuring employees not to have babies, that’s an entirely different issue.

      2. Cucumber*

        Can you quantify your assumption that waiting makes the chance of a successful pregnancy unlikely?

        Yes, older mothers’ risk factors can go up, for things like pre-eclampsia and gestational diabetes. That does not mean that it is *unlikely* for the pregnancy to succeed.

        And, if you’re freezing eggs at an age when you’re younger, or using younger donor eggs, a lot of those risks go down – for instance, chromosomal abnormalities are less likely for a middle-aged mother using frozen eggs from her youth, than if she was using existing, older eggs that were not frozen.

    13. Joey*

      It’s Sort of a statement that the company is número uno and family should wait. it’s sort of hypocritical to do that unless they also provide realistic leave benefits related to childbirth.

    14. LBK*

      Maybe I’m naïve but I took it at face value. I can see how it can be read as “great, now you can stay here and work for us and worry about that whole baby thing some other time,” but I think it was just intended to be a great, unique benefit for people who want it. No one is being FORCED to have their eggs frozen.

        1. Anonsie*

          Oh none at all. These types of companies are all about the weird novelty benefits, and I’m sure that plays a big role here. I highly doubt the fact that this announcement coming out now and egg freezing has been a bit of a buzz recently is a coincidence.

          But hey, I would really really love to be able to do this myself, but it’s cost prohibitive for me. I’d be thrilled if they offered this where I work.

          1. Joey*

            It’s equally for show. Sort of like all other benefits or perks that sound really cool and progressive that very few employees actually utilize. Unlimited days off comes to mind.

    15. Anonsie*

      I find this significantly less offensive than everyone else seems to– my only questions were 1) what childcare (even just FSA) or other dependent benefits do they already offer, 2) what types of maternity/paternity leave options do they have, and 3) do their insurance policies already include good coverage for fertility treatments, maternity care, etc?

      Because if it’s the only thing they’re doing, yeah, that’s weird, and I can see how people would say it supports the kids-OR-career attitude that we don’t need more of.

      But I kind of doubt that’s the case, and I think there’s no downside to offering more different options to people in terms of their health and family planning.

      1. LBK*

        Also – I don’t see how this could be construed as sinister but offering to pay for birth control isn’t. Couldn’t that also be taken as “we don’t want you to have children now while you’re working for us”?

        1. Natalie*

          I think that’s a little different because birth control is usually just a part of your health insurance. In most companies (fundies excepted) I can’t imagine the specifics of birth control coverage are driving their health plan decisions.

          (There are also off-label uses for birth control.)

          1. Cat*

            So think of this as covering fertility treatments under the health care plan (I understand that in the case of these plans, other fertility treatments are covered).

            1. Natalie*

              From what I understand, though, it’s fairly rare for health insurance to cover fertility treatment, as it’s considered elective. If this was just something they added to the health plan along with other fertility coverage, than yes, mentally I’d put it in the same category as bc.

              1. Cat*

                I think it was though; it’s just the only part of it’s that getting coverage but they do cover other fertility treatments.

    16. Nerdling*

      A friend of mine who struggled with infertility and has gone through IVF really changed my perspective on this. Initially, I was extremely cynical, seeing it as a way to get more work out of women when they’d really rather be creating more of a work-life balance and having children earlier. But my friend pointed out that this can be seen as a big step in the right direction toward companies having benefits that cover IVF and other infertility options.

      I’d like to see this being offered hand-in-hand with really good parental leave and childcare coverage. But I’ll also take baby steps.

    17. INTP*

      I don’t think that it will become an expectation right away, but if a lot of women do utilize this perk, it will become expected over time. Kind of like how it’s currently not viewed favorably if you choose to have a baby in school (even graduate school, med school, etc) or the first couple of years of your career. Most women are willing to wait longer than that, so it sticks out if you won’t.

      1. Cat*

        Huh, this hasn’t been my experience as a lawyer – many of the women I know had babies in law school or in their first couple of years at big firms (often in order to take advantage of the 6 month paid maternity leave at those firms) – and it was accepted and often encouraged. Which is not to say there’s not many inequities in the legal profession’s treatment of women, many of them related to its treatment of mothers, just that that particular one hasn’t been my experience.

    18. JoAnna*

      I think it sets a bad precedent. If a working mom asks for a flexible schedule or some other accommodation, the response (from Apple/Facebook HR) could very well be, essentially, “Well, if you had just frozen your eggs instead of having kids when you did, you wouldn’t need accommodations. Sucks to be you.”

      1. Cat*

        I think the better way to say it is it creates the possibility of a bad precedent. If someone does that, it’s horrible; if the company allows that to happen, they’re doing a bad job. However, giving people the benefit and not allowing that to happen (by creating a culture where it won’t and not tolerating managers who try it) does a good thing for women without realizing the bad possible effects.

    19. Mister Pickle*

      Oh, so they’ll pay to freeze a woman’s eggs, but if a man wants to store away his sperm, he’s got to pay for that himself?


      Actually – something like this was a plot-point in Robert Heinlein’s 1963 novel Podkayne of Mars. It was handled with the kind of sensitivity you’d expect from Heinlein.

      1. Cucumber*

        Just imagine how the topic would have been covered if he’d written it in his “later” period. Eew.

    20. CAA*

      Several people have said that maternity/paternity leave would be a more important benefit. Both Apple and Facebook are headquartered in California, where we do have paid family leave, and these companies already exceed the state law by offering more pay and longer leaves than required. Also, this benefit is available to male employees who can cover their spouses.

      The reality is we have a hot job market in tech, and there’s a lot of competition for top talent. Offering a benefit that nobody else has can make a difference.

  2. Penny*

    I’m still new to my office job (less than six months) so I’m not sure if this is me being a gullible new worker or if my co-workers took a joke too far.

    I returned to my office on a Monday and went about my usual morning routine. As I went to put my lunch in the fridge, I glimpsed a co-worker’s door at the end of the hall, covered in some kind of bright yellow tape. I didn’t think much of it because many others decorations on their door. When I returned to my own office, which I share with a co-worker who is even newer than me, I opened my email to see that a link to a press conference article had been sent to my entire department/floor.

    It read that there had been a murder in our building, on our very floor, over the weekend. There were some details about it being a crime of passion between a cleaning woman and an unknown male, and to come forward with any information you might have. I asked my roommate to open her email and she read it. We both started wondering what the heck was going on and that was when I realized the door decoration I’d seen was actually police tape. We got really nervous and anxious, with my roommate saying she was on the verge of packing up and leaving for the day. A part of my brain argued that if there had been a murder of some kind, our entire floor would have been closed for the day but the article emailed to us made it seem so real. We decided to walk down and see what was going on.

    We nervously edged down there and could clearly see police tape on the door and an official looking note stating it was a crime scene. As we stood there looking completely freaked out, another co-worker came out of her office and laughed at us. She then explained it was a prank being played on a different co-worker who was returning that day from a long vacation. She poked her head into the ‘crime scene’ office and said to more co-workers standing inside that they’d scared us newbies.

    My roommate and I walked back to our office, neither finding the joke very funny. As the day wore on, it was clear that our department was split between those who thought the prank was funny and those who thought it went too far, especially since it freaked out the new people. The next day, those who had done the prank brought donuts in and sent out an email that was kind of an apology but basically just said ‘Sorry if you didn’t find it funny’.

    Now I’m all for pranks but I prefer the kind that have a clear GOTCHA moment. Rearrange all the furniture in an office, switch a screen saver or background picture to something silly, hide all the chairs; stuff like that. And we a friendly and fun office so I’m not surprised that they want to prank each other. they had even just decorated the office, I would have been fine with that. But the fake press conference article sent to the entire department, which looked pretty real to me, was a step too far. Plus we are a government office; others I know who work in government said that they could be fired for pulling this kind of prank. So was this joke too much or was I being too gullible?

    1. Malissa*

      That is an extreme prank! I do appreciate the attention to detail that went into it. But not having a a clown with knife through it being visible so that it was obviously a joke was the only detail they forgot. So yeah, I’d been creeped out too.

      1. Penny*

        See that I could have gotten behind! A stabbed clown sitting at the desk would have been funny, that would have made me laugh. Maybe that’s what I really didn’t like about it; the article was too realistic while a clown would have been over the top. Thanks for that!

    2. JMegan*

      Oh my gosh, that sounds awful. I hate pranks, for lots of reasons, but I can live with the “rearranging your office furniture” type if it’s clear that the prankee is actually enjoying it. But this…yeah, I would argue that it’s way too far, and potentially really upsetting for a lot of people.

      Not sure what you can actually do about it, other than take it as a data point about the culture of your new office, but I’m with you on the “completely inappropriate” side.

    3. The IT Manager*

      Hmmm … I am not a great fan of pranks, but I can see this as rather amusing. I don’t think the intent was mean spirited. I don’t think this it went too far, but I can’t help wondering if the fact you got pranked inadvertantly and laughed at (uncool) is coloring your view.

      OTOH I’m sorry if you didn’t find it funny is at most a back-handed apology.

      1. Penny*

        I’ve been on the end of pranks before and it doesn’t bother me. I don’t care about being laughed at (though I think my roommate definitely didn’t like that). I cared that I was freaked out enough to actually think something bad had happened in our office and that they still let us come in, something which could potentially happen seeing as they let us continue to come to work when there was a bedbug problem.

    4. Kelly L.*

      I vote too much. Part of my reason is that I know our cleaning dude–he’s my baseball-ranting buddy. If I came in and someone said he’d either committed murder or been murdered, I’d be incredibly upset. You don’t fuck with people’s emotions like that.

      1. WorkingMom*

        Or if the prank was intended for this one coworker coming back from vacation – send an email out to the whole group minus the target of the prank so everyone knows it’s a joke. Then hopefully when the target comes back and sees everything, the pranksters would be there for a quick “gotcha” moment, and not just let this person sit around all day thinking this might be real.

      2. Cat*

        Yeah, this is my problem with it. I think the fake police tape on someone’s office when they’re returning from vacation is actually hilarious however the way they’re doing it implies the lives of your cleaning people are worthless and that is icky.

        1. Anonathon*

          Yeah, that was my reaction too. I’m going to assume that no one would send out a fake press release about one of your co-workers dying … but it’s somehow okay if it’s someone from the cleaning staff? Not cool.

    5. Lily in NYC*

      I like pranks, so maybe I’m biased. I think this was slightly over the top, but not really something to get too upset about, especially since they seemed a bit remorseful. How did the person whose door had the crime scene tape react? Oh, now that I think about it, I don’t think they should have sent that email – that’s probably the only reason you didn’t realize it was a joke. I am in a quasi-governmental office and one of my favorite coworkers was fired for a prank that involved an email, so yes, it definitely could have backfired big time.

      1. ThursdaysGeek*

        Yeah, the email can get them in serious trouble, depending on where it ends up.

        A few years ago I worked for a government contractor, and as a joke, another employee made up a fake email saying we had got a contract. He made it look very official, and sent it to a couple of people as a joke. Unfortunately, they sent it to a couple more people, and they sent it to others, when it got to the newspapers (who were waiting for the news) and the DOE (Dept of Energy) and had their logo, it was no longer funny. He’d worked at the company for a long time and was considered a very valuable worker, but someone had to be punished, and he was quickly fired.

    6. Gwen*

      Both? I don’t think the prank/joke was appropriate for work, but it was pretty gullible to entertain the thought that there’d actually been a murder on your floor and everything was just continuing as normal while the crime scene was still open.

    7. Anna*

      Yeah, pranks can be fun, but like you said, there needs to be a clear GOTCHA moment. The fun part of pranks (if you’re a person who enjoys them) is that at the end everyone has a laugh. Freaking people out and then laughing at them is not fun.

    8. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Well, they apologized so they get that they went too far. I’d let it go.

      I like pranks more than some here, but the thing that’s grossest about this is the “ha ha, a cleaning lady, no one might know her and be genuinely upset” element to this.

      1. Penny*

        I’m not harboring a grudge or anything about the incident, I’ve definitely let it go. I will say that the apology was a very non-apologetic one, like they didn’t understand why people didn’t find it funny. And you’re totally right about the ‘unnamed cleaning lady’ element, didn’t care for that either.

        1. Lily in NYC*

          When I lived in Italy, a news show pranked one of their anchors by having her do a news piece in a 4-seater airplane. Unbeknownst to her, the pilot was really a stunt pilot and the prank was to convince the anchor that they were about to crash. He started flying all erratically and yelling how they were going down. She was so terrified, thinking she was about to die. Then he lands safely, and she gets off the plane to find her coworkers standing there laughing at her. I couldn’t believe how she just laughed it off; I thought it was so cruel. If someone did that to me I would get stabby. I also hate pranks where you get someone to think they won the lottery. So mean.

          1. Penny*

            OMG I absolutely hate flying already so if anyone had done that airplane prank to me, they would have had to deal with me screaming, cursing, and going full out panic attack. That would have been awful!

            Also my high school friends did do a money prank on me. They gave me a fake scratch off ticket for like $10,000. They stopped me just short of calling my mother thankfully. I was bummed but I was able to laugh that one off.

            1. Lily in NYC*

              You are more gracious than I am! I would be so pissed if someone pulled a money prank on me. I like stupid pranks – the slapstick humor type ones like short-sheeting a bed.

              1. Penny*

                This was my same group of friends who had me believing for a month that a friend was moving to Alaska (which I didn’t believe at first and only accepted when the friend got her parents to confirm it). They only let me believe the money thing for a few minutes. Any longer than that and I would have actually gotten mad.

          2. ThursdaysGeek*

            Yeah, I guess that makes it even more clear to me: pranks that involve death (like the original example too), job changes, or other events that really can affect our emotions are not appropriate.

            1. Lily in NYC*

              I’ve realized the same things as I read these comments – silly, harmless pranks = fun. The ones like you mention = no bueno.

          3. HMV*

            Yes. In my opinion, anything that would significantly change my life if the outcome were to come true is off limits.

      2. LCL*

        Ha ha. Women being killed by men is such a funny topic, and you didn’t get the joke?
        Seriously, I am surprised management didn’t impose some severe punishment to the people behind it. And no, it isn’t less offensive because a woman was behind the joke.

          1. Mephyle*

            Actually, cutting and pasting from Penny’s original post, a crime of passion between a cleaning woman and an unknown male.

          2. Penny*

            If it didn’t come across in my original post, the fake article said that the victim was a cleaning lady and she was killed by her lover. I don’t have the original email to give an exact quote but that was paraphrased what it said.

    9. Magda*

      Yeah…. I’ve worked with people whose sense of humor was like that, people I got along with very well in fact, so on some level I get it. But I think it was wrong to involve the whole office via e-mail, especially given that the prank revolves around workplace violence (and personally, I’m not wild about “a crime of passion between a cleaning woman and an unknown male” being part of the joke either).

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        I don’t like pranks very much, but what strikes me is the apology, and the idea that you have no sense of humour for not finding it funny.

        1. Kelly L.*

          And it’s also not an obvious “pranking” day–you’re generally more suspicious of things if they happen on April 1 or maybe right on Halloween.

    10. Adam V*

      That one’s too much. Honestly, even the police tape is fine with me, but the department/floor-wide email was too much.

      At the very least, an email to everyone except the victim giving them a heads-up would be required, so everyone’s not freaking out for nothing, or relying on someone nearby to tell you “this is actually a joke”.

      1. Hous*

        Yeah, the email to everyone is what gets me. If your goal is really to prank the person who was on vacation, then you should make sure the rest of the office is aware of what’s happening, so you don’t get people like the OP who are caught in the crossfire. Sending an email to everyone but not telling everyone but the prankee what was going on is not really good prank etiquette. I don’t think the OP can really do anything about it, but that’s the part that bothers me most.

    11. Nina*

      I wouldn’t find that amusing at all. Sure, a prank can be all in good fun, but the thought of someone having been murdered/assaulted/stabbed/etc at my office for any reason would leave me feeling unsettled. I think they went too far.

    12. Traveler*

      And what if one of the workers there had actually experienced a murder at or close to work (or even in their personal life) and been affected by stuff like this in the past? This was pretty thoughtless.

      And that kind of Sorry Not Sorry apology where they apologize if you “didn’t find it funny” rather than, sorry we did something stupid and ill conceived… would make it worse for me. I would have lost some respect for the coworkers that did this, and I’m the type of person that enjoys the more harmless office pranks like balloons in offices.

    13. Not So NewReader*

      Just my opinion but it’s too much. We are post WTC, post anthrax, this just isn’t that funny. In a government office? Really?
      Annndd they may have set the crime scene up on their own time, but it is definitely interrupting the work day of the others who work there. “Interrupting” is putting it mildly as you are saying this can be very disturbing for some people. I am not sure that taxpayers would think this was a good use of work time, as other workers are left to sort out what is going on here.

      They are lucky no one called the police to get follow up inputs. (warning: snark ahead) I think I would put it out there that I almost called the police station to verify the situation and what precautions should be taken. ( /snark ) Let the perps stew on what would have happened if I had actually reached the police station.

    14. Anon Accountant*

      I don’t find that funny either. A prank I’d like is along the lines of an episode from the show “Mama’s Family” where the neighbor offered her sponge cake and lifted the cake lid and there were kitchen sponges and no cake. That type of prank I’d find funny. Or how 1 of the partners got a rubber skeleton, put a baseball cap and dressed it fully, sat it in a chair in a conference room over a weekend and waited until Monday morning. We all got a good laugh when it was discovered- a fully dressed skeleton with a coffee cup in front of it sitting in a conference room chair.

      The prank they pulled? I think it’s in poor taste but hopefully they fully understand they went too far and it won’t happen again.

      1. Mister Pickle*

        Oh – this guy. Yeah. I saw something he did … I’ll append it when I find it … where he was pretending to torture some guy, Russian Mafia style, in an elevator, and people would walk in and freak out. Although the last guy rushed him and nearly kicked his ass.

    15. BB*

      What they should have done was at least tell the other co-workers that morning, who weren’t in on it, that there is a prank going around. It was all just bad planning.

    16. Mister Pickle*

      In my experience, there are an unfortunate number of people who think they have a great sense of humor – but in fact it’s not so great, and nothing shows it off more than when they pull a prank like this – you can almost imagine them saying “it’s gonna be epic! EPIC!” – but in fact it is not the knee-slapper they thought it would be, and are left going “gee, don’t you people have a sense of humor?!”

    17. Josie*

      I don’t like pranks, at all. I can deal with the ones that hide your pens or loosen the power cable to your computer, but I prefer pranks to be far away from me and the workplace.
      I took last April 1st off work since I coworkers who love that day, and I most certainly do not. The next day I had an assignment for a very strict higher up that had to be done by lunch so I came in early, and found that I had been pranked: they had swiched almost all the keys on my keyboard, and gotten the IT guy to log into my computer with an admin password to flip the screens upside down. Hilarious right? I had to get somone from IT to help me get the screens sorted out and get a new keyboard – it took almost an hour before I was able to get started on work. The higher up was not amused when she came to check on my progress, and I hadn’t even gotten started. They targeted me because apparently it’s being weak and a coward to hate April 1st and take the day off. Can’t wait for next year….

      1. Not So NewReader*

        And no one got written up? Messing with company property, messing with the computer system.. just wow.
        I supposed someone could say I am too serious. But to me there is nothing funny here at all. Any time someone messes with my work or work station and causes me problems with my job. that is on a par with messing with my paycheck. People that mess with other people’s ability to earn a living are not funny. At all.

        1. Josie*

          Nope, no one got so much as a talking to. They couldn’t understand why I didn’t find it funny either. I ended up having to work through lunch with the higher up standing next to me trying to get everything done in time for shipping. Which got me some snippy comments from the pranksters about not eating lunch with them.

          I agree with you about messing with someone’s ability to do their job, it’s taking things too far.

      2. Mister Pickle*

        Yeah, not really funny. Although it may not have been so much that they targeted you for disliking April 1st as they targeted you because you weren’t there?

        I confess I once pranked someone who’d received a new model computer by swapping the “insert” and “delete” keys. He was baffled for about 5 minutes, then he figured it out, walked over to my office, stuck his head in the door and said “Pickle, you a**hole!” We had a laugh together. I like to think that as pranks go, that one was just about right.

        (I could be wrong)

        1. Josie*

          One of the main guys behind the prank told me afterwards that they did target me because I don’t like April 1st. He also didn’t understand why I couldn’t just laugh about it, after all, he thought it was funny.

          Had they switch only two keys, it would have been different (they actually did that the week after). But the nearly all of them?

    18. Perspective*

      Reading this, I didn’t identify with the office workers who thought there had been a murder in their building, I identified with the cleaning woman. I have never worked in an office, but I have cleaned large buildings after hours. Imagine that, working all alone at night in a huge, empty building, and then having a jealous ex or boyfriend show up and corner you in one of the offices and murder you. That is CHILLING, and that’s the story they wanted to prank someone with, the “joke” being “haha something weird happened in your office”. They just assumed that the coworker would think about themselves and not the victim, like the expected reaction was that the prankee would feel unsettled and surprised by a crazy event in their office. The pranksters apparently didn’t expect that people could empathize with the victim and be absolutely horrified (and also feel unsafe about the building’s security).

  3. a.n.o.n.*

    Interesting development: the company I was trying so hard to get into over the past 8 months has contacted me again. This is the fourth time! But this time it sounds like the job is truly what I’m looking for. And it’s not the same one I turned down last year. I’ll be meeting with someone from the company next week to discuss further.

    A couple months ago, after thinking it was a sure thing and then being told it’s the same job I turned down last year and, “oh we don’t have an open position after all,” I concluded that it wasn’t meant to be and maybe I’m better off. But now it’s got me thinking all over again. I’m miserable at the current job and I would be back working for a tiny company, I’d wear many hats again, and I’d actually have some authority. Things are more casual and flexible, too.

    The hurdle? It’s further away that the job I’m at now. My current job is 43 miles one way. The new one would be 73 miles one way and I would have to drive through a very congested area, which would prolong the commute. I can’t take the train due to the location of my house; very cost-prohibitive and my commute would be 2 hours one way. I could leave extra early, but there still tends to be traffic even that early. I’m guessing I could try to negotiate a couple work-at-home days per week. Or maybe a small allowance for travel.

    Any ideas about how to overcome this hurdle? And am I crazy for considering this company again?

    1. Wilton Businessman*

      I did a long commute for 5 years. It will kill you. Once you establish yourself at the new place, set a date when you will move. Then every day you can say to yourself that this 7734 is only temporary. The only time that I could deal with it was when I put in place a plan to move within 2 years.

      1. A.n.o.n.*

        Actually I just moved within the last few months so that’s out of the question. I’ve found my forever house and I’m staying. This company seems pretty flexible so I’m going to try to see if I can work from home a bit. We’ll see what happens.

        1. Wilton Businessman*

          OK. Hope you’re a better person that I was. The last year I left my house at 4:50am every morning just to avoid traffic and got home at 7pm.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Two hours one way? And presumably worse sometimes? That’s 4+ hours in the car a day. There are more jobs out there than this one and the one you’re currently in. You don’t have to pick between just these two.

          1. Craigrs1*

            I am not disagreeing with you, but I find the flip of opinion kind of interesting. Two hours one way? No. There are other jobs out there. Forget it. Oh wait – you meant one hour each way? No big deal. Nevermind.

            Obviously there’s a big difference between a one hour and a two hour commute, but I don’t think the difference is quite that big . . .

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              To me, one hour isn’t outrageous; many D.C. commutes end up being one hour pretty regularly because of traffic. But two hours one way is four hours a day in a car, or 1/4 of your waking time. That seems really excessive to me. But of course different people will draw the line differently.

        1. danr*

          That’s without accidents and bad weather. I did a 70 mile one way commute by car for years. It wasn’t bad in the beginning and I found mass transit for bad weather days and bad accidents at the choke point in my commute. I gave up going by car after the commute stretched from an hour and a half to 2 – 3 hours due to traffic and daily accidents. It was easier to take the train. And for us, moving closer was not an option since my job wasn’t the big money job. On one hand, commuting by car meant that I had plenty of time to listen to the news and plan my day. On the other, I was very tired during the week and it got worse as the commute got longer in time.
          You have to think about this stuff and decide if it’s worth it.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            I’d give anything to be able to take a train and not drive every morning. Everybody drives like an idiot or a maniac. I got spoiled by the ease of public transit on holiday, even at peak time and even with delays and reroutes. I miss the tube. And the bus, believe it or not.

            1. the gold digger*

              I miss the bus, too. I have to drive to my new job because the bus route is really incompatible with my hours. I am a little resentful about having lost 90 minutes of reading time a day.

          1. A.n.o.n.*

            That’s without traffic. Depending when I leave it would obviously be more than that. Haven’t driven it so I can’t say for sure yet.

          2. Dan*

            I was going to ask the same.

            You can do 45 miles in 45 minutes if you have 60 miles an hour. Which means you live and work near the freeway in an uncongested area. Doable without losing sanity.

            73 miles? You’re at an hour and fifteen minutes with no traffic. Congestion is going to add 15 minutes at a minimum, and more if the congestion is “clogged freeway” or “city traffic.

            In the DC area, a 73 mile commute would be driving on I66 from I81 to the DC line. I can’t imagine doing that every day. And if I worked smack in the middle of the city, that would drive my commute time way up for a negligible increase in mileage.

            Given what the OP describes, I think they’re looking at a commute that is pushing 1:45 each way.

            1. Karowen*

              To be fair, I live in an area where the speed limit is 70 and I have a massive lead foot, so I’m going 80. I can definitely do 73 miles in an hour, and that’s including getting to and from the highway.

              It definitely doesn’t account for congestion, though (I go against traffic), but maybe if you leave early enough you could avoid it.

              1. Meg*

                I live in the Raleigh-Durham area, and our freeways are also 70 mph. I live on one side of Raleigh, and live in the other. A distance of 20 miles. In the morning, it takes easily an hour to get to work via the freeway, and that’s assuming there’s zero accidents. Of course, that’s not going to happen. So I end up going THROUGH downtown Raleigh, speed limits between 35 and 55mph the whole time, and it takes 45 minutes.

                If I leave work by 4:30pm, I can take the freeway and be home in 25 minutes. If I leave between 5 and 6pm, it takes 45-60 minutes to get home.

                Drive your route a couple times, and check out the Waze app to divert you around traffic. Wake County (where Raleigh-Durham area is located) just reached 1 million residents, and accidents are daily. It’s gotten so bad that children are being hit by cars waiting for school buses in the morning, but that’s a different story.

                Drive the route, check out the congestion, and see if that’s something you can see yourself doing multiple times a week, or daily if they don’t let you work from home.

          3. danr*

            I’m sure the whole trip isn’t in a congested area. If it is… forget the drive and take the train. Also, keep tabs on driving costs against train costs. I quit driving when it was cheaper to take the train and the time differential was nearly equal.

            1. A.n.o.n.*

              No its not. Just a specific area. The first 45 minutes would be no traffic at all. The last leg is where the traffic would be.

    3. JB*

      That commute would kill me. I’d never consider it unless I was desperate. But other people like to use driving time to listen to books on tape or call friends/family to catch up, so it doesn’t have to be a deal-killer.

      If you like spending time in your car, then I’d say at least talk to the person to see what’s different this time, or if nothing is different and maybe you should steer clear.

      1. Stephanie*

        But even then, that amount of driving will wear most cars down fast. Plus the gas costs! (Unless he has a diesel, but diesel fuel costs a small fortune as well.) Also, think of what would happen if there’s an accident–that two-hour commute will turn into four hours. I live in an exurb now and can make it from downtown to home in about 45 minutes…if there’s no traffic (traffic is light here, anyway). If there’s a major accident, I’m screwed and usually end up going to a coffee shop or something to wait the accident out.

        1. danr*

          My cars did better with the long commute than going back and forth to the train station. I regularly got over 200,000 miles on a car before repairs got too expensive. These were American station wagons with moderate gas mileage. I wanted to be in something that the truckers could see.

          1. Stephanie*

            That’s true. With my car, it’s usually the most efficient (fuel-wise) between 45-70 mph. Over 75 mph, the gas efficiency starts declining (I have a five-cylinder hatchback, so it’s not exactly designed for high-speed performance).

            I was more thinking from a routine maintenance standpoint. Even if the car’s in great mechanical condition, there’s still things like oil changes (which he would probably be doing monthly with that much driving), tire replacement, brake pad replacement and so on. His insurance may increase as well depending on whatever actuarial tables his insurance company is using. I was thinking of the car costs more in terms of those things.

          2. Dan*

            I junked my last car at 135,000 miles. I had it for 12 years, so couldn’t complain too much.

            At 150 miles r/t a day, the OP is going to put 200,000 miles on the car in 5 years. With that kind of use, the OP should just budget for a perpetual car payment on top of gas and repairs.

    4. Stephanie*

      I had coworkers in DC who commuted insane distances (but via commuter rail, usually) from God-knows-where Virginia and Maryland. Even with the train taking up a chunk of their commutes, they looked miserable. Don’t do it! If you really need or want the job, maybe look into renting a crash pad for the work week?

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        My first job out of college was in Northern Virginia, and I was still living in Maryland with my parents. Found an apartment that wasn’t available for 6 weeks. I had no choice but to drive, and it absolutely wrecked me– could be 45 minutes OR 2 hours each way, and there was no way to know until I was already in the car. I was only 22 and already completely stressed out and miserable. Then I moved to Northern Virginia, and the commute was STILL horrible. Good suggestions, and I hope the OP reaallllllly thinks about this one.

        1. Stephanie*

          I worked in Alexandria and had coworkers who lived in Baltimore, Southern Maryland (like…by the Naval Warfare Station) and Richmond. I think in all those instances, they had spouses whose jobs were in those places (plus, we worked in an expensive area). But they definitely showed up to work with these thousand-yard stares after their commutes (“I left my house at 4:45 this morning…”)

          1. Dan*

            My old boss used to commute from somewhere near college park to Dulles every day. His peer came from Camp Springs (Andrews AFB) and claimed that living in Virginia was for the devil.

            1. Lily in NYC*

              College Park to Dulles – isn’t that only about 40 miles? I used to have to drive to Dulles from College Park (not as my commute) and don’t remember it taking more than an hour- more like 50 minutes. But I guess it’s a lot longer with awful DC rush hour traffic. When I worked in DC (close to the White House), my boss drove up from Richmond every day. I thought that was insane.

              1. Dan*

                The beltway regularly gets reviewed as the most congested road in the country. It once took me 2 hours to drive from Dulles to BWI during rush hour.

                Also keep in mind that the DC area is a growing region, so rush hour traffic is a lot different now than what it was even ten years ago.

                It used to be that driving from Dulles into the city via the toll road and 66 in the evening was considered a traffic-free reverse commute. Not any more. The stretch from Tysons Corner into the city is now a parking lot during evening rush.

                1. Lily in NYC*

                  Yeah, I left in 2001 and I imagine it’s worse now. Which seems inconceivable because it was so bad back then!

                2. Aunt Vixen*

                  I was at BWI when my flight was cancelled and the only way to get me halfway to my destination that evening was to put me on a plane out of Dulles instead. The airline was going to have me driven there in a taxi. This happened at 6pm at BWI and the Dulles flight was at 9pm, and I was genuinely not sure if I’d make it.

                  Our Nation’s Capital is a whole different place now than it was even ten years ago.

            2. Stephanie*

              I’m just getting twitchy thinking about commuting from College Park to Dulles daily, even if part of it is reverse commuting. I’ll look for this in a bit, but there was a story in the Washington Post about people abusing the free portion of 267 by stopping to buy a pack of gum at the airport (or something equally trivial).

              Also, I used to live in Camp Springs (briefly). That is not better than living in Virginia. He might have argument if it was one of the nicer parts of PG County, but Camp Springs? No. Especially if he was living in close proximity of Rte. 5.

              1. Dan*

                One man’s “abuse” is another man’s “patronizing the airport gas station is legally accepted as airport business, and therefore a proper reason to use the free portion of the airport access road and skip paying the tolls.”

                1. Stephanie*

                  I see you’re an expert at this.

                  Here’s the article:

                  1. Harpers Ferry, WV to Alexandria?! *eye twitch*
                  2. “‘The Washington area commuter is by far the most ingenious,’ Homer said. ‘They use loopholes, inflatable dolls . . . they get into cars with complete strangers and go west to go east. They do what they have to do to survive.'”
                  3. “‘They spend 26 cents and they ask for a receipt. I don’t know why,’ said Tigi Zewdie, a cashier at the On the Run convenience store attached to the Exxon.”

                  And a follow-up:

          2. KellyK*

            Yeah, I live in Southern MD, and there are a fair number of people who commute from here to DC. I know pay is higher there and property values are lower here, but I don’t think you could pay me enough to spend that much time in my car. Especially not if the Beltway’s involved. There is a commuter bus that goes up to the Metro station, although I’m sure that takes a bit longer than driving. (If you drive directly to Branch Avenue, the closest metro station, the only available parking is the reserved spots, and I’ve heard the waiting list for those is a matter of *years.*)

            1. The Barb*

              My friend’s husband commutes from Southern MD (near Prince Frederick) to Ft. Meade. Insanity.

          3. Rat Racer*

            My first job out of grad school was in DC and I was living in Baltimore (newly married and husband’s job was North of Baltimore). After 6 weeks of trying to commute on the MARC train, which broke down or was delayed at least once a week, I gave up. Took a $15K pay cut and found a job in Baltimore. Life is too short.

            1. Natalie*

              Huh, I had a friend who commuted by MARC for years and never mentioned recurring issues. He loved reading on the train or getting a jump start on work so he could leave early. I used to take it alternating weekends to visit my then boyfriend.

              Maybe they upgraded the line or something.

        2. Meg*

          You couldn’t pay me enough to drive from Gaithersburg to Bethesda in the mornings. I-270 was terrible. Thank god for the Red Line.

          1. Dan*

            You mean the thing that seems to be the most unreliable line on the metro system?

            Man, your stretch is bad and you don’t even touch the beltway.

      2. Mister Pickle*

        The DC area in general … I will beg spare change and sell my blood and live in a cardboard box in LA before I will ever move back there for a job or True Love or anything.

        Been there. Done that. Did not like.

        1. Dan*

          I couldn’t get enough change nor enough money for my blood. I left LA and ended up back in DC.

          Granted, I was no fan of the Valley either.

    5. ella*

      Could you ask about flexible work hours? Maybe come in after the worst of the rush hour, rather than before. Of course, that depends on whether they’re okay with you staying late in the office, whether you have family/kids that need your time in the evening, etc etc.

      1. A.n.o.n.*

        I’d much rather come in early and leave early if they’ll allow it. Something I just thought of is I know someone that commutes in that direction. She’s near my current job but I’d have to drive this way anyway. I could ask about carpooling.

        1. KerryOwl*

          Yeah, I had a ~90 minute commute for a while. I did carpool with someone; generally, in the morning whomever wasn’t driving was napping. I ended up really liking the guy and we became friends, which made it more bearable, but I still wouldn’t have done it for more than a year. It’s like I can feel my life getting shorter.

          On the other hand, I was only at that company for four months. He worked there for years before me and years after me. He complained, but he still did it forever.

          I recommend a subscription to Audible. Or listening to a lot of podcasts, if that’s your bag. The time seems less “wasted” (to me, anyway) if I feel as though I’m “accomplishing” something. Still, that kind of commute is brutal.

          1. A.n.o.n.*

            I agree. Making more money than I make now, having more flexibility and enjoying my work would be the three things that would make this a good trade off for me. If i were to get some of these things then that might be unacceptable. I don’t know. I was going to tell the guy upfront that the commute might be a deal breaker but now I think I should hear him out. It might not be a deal breaker.

    6. Julia*

      I did a commute like that for just three months and it was awful. When you add your travel time to your hours spent at work, you have no down time at all. Not worth it.

      1. Manager Anonymous*

        I had an hour and 1/2 commute each way public transportation for 15 years. My job was worth it. (NYC…so there was no moving closer $) Podcasts and Books on Tape made it doable.

    7. Anon Accountant*

      That sounds really draining on top of a long workday. What if you have to work 12-hour workdays during a busy time at work?

      I understand being unhappy at your job but are there other companies you’d be willing to consider? Do you live in an area where winter weather may be an issue that would prolong the commute?

    8. LibKae*

      I think you’ll find it depends entirely on the job. I had a 1-1.5 hour commute each way for a job a few years ago, and since I hated the job to begin with, the commute meant that I was a ball of rage by the time I got home at night. My current job is about the same on a good day (I’m one of the Maryland-to-Virginia commuters people have talked about up-thread), but I love the job, so I don’t mind it at all. The commute has actually turned into a relaxing part of my day — I put on a audiobook, turn off my brain, and just drive. It gives me a chance for some downtime before I get home.

    9. MissLibby*

      I have an 83 mile commute, each way. I spend 3 hours a day in the car and have been doing it for 6 years. I commute from a rural area into the fringe of a metro area, so traffic is non-existent except for school buses and tractors and combines during certain times of the year. That helps a lot – I have a long drive, but it is an easy drive. It has just become part of my daily routine.

      I never planned to do this commute long-term, but I started in 2008, which pretty much quickly eliminated any possibility of my husband finding a job close to where I work for several years. Fast forward 6 years, he has that much more seniority and time invested in his pension (he has a union, government job) and my kids are now in middle school and high school so moving would be much more difficult on my family at this time. I continue to drive because there are very few job opportunities in the small town that I live in and because I really like my job and get paid well for what I do. If I am still working here when my kids leave for college, I will probably look for an apartment to stay in during the week.

      That was a lot of background info, but the point is that the commute should not be your only consideration. While I don’t particularly enjoy spending an extra 3 hours a day away from my family there are other benefits. Like most things in life, it is a trade-off. You just have to weigh your options and make a decision on what will be best for you.

      1. A.n.o.n.*

        I agree. Making more money than I make now, having more flexibility and enjoying my work would be the three things that would make this a good trade off for me. If i were to get some of these things then that might be unacceptable. I don’t know. I was going to tell the guy upfront that the commute might be a deal breaker but now I think I should hear him out. It might not be a deal breaker.

    10. Audiophile*

      I feel like the only person who’s unfazed by this. I currently commute for 35 miles one way to work, so 70+ miles a day. I briefly worked at a job in NYC, which meant I took the train for 80-90 minutes. Everyone at the job was stunned that it took me that long, they had no concept of the suburbs. I didn’t mind the long train commute, it was so much more relaxing than driving. Even the subway, which involved a transfer between two lines, didn’t bother me all that much.

      I don’t think I could drive 73 miles, but if you have a new-ish car, you should be ok, the max I would do would be 50 miles one way. My 35 mile commute typically takes me 40 minutes give or take. It’s longer if there’s any kind of accident. The other day, because of an accident it took me 6o minutes. The worst it’s ever been was 4 hours, but that was because of an unexpected snow fall.

      See what happens with the interview and see what you can negotiate. Good luck!

    11. C Average*

      I used to live in my dream apartment in a hip part of the city. I commuted at least an hour each way (by either car or train). I basically slept in and wrote a monthly check for my dream apartment.

      After two years of this, I moved to a decidedly un-hip apartment in a dreary part of the ‘burbs a short distance from my workplace. I went into this arrangement fully anticipating that I’d hate it, that I’d miss my wonderful apartment and neighborhood, that I’d have lots of regrets.

      I had NO regrets, not one, ever. The quality-of-life bump I experienced by being a short walk from the office (and the money and automotive wear and tear I saved) more than offset the drop in awesomeness between one dwelling and another.

      I totally get being in love with where you live and not wanting to move (and I get that you’re talking about a house, which is obviously a much bigger commitment than a rental apartment), but demanding commute can reduce your dream home to a glorified crash pad.

      Think really hard about taking this job. And if you do decide it’s your dream job, think hard about whether moving is really and truly off the table. A forever home needs to be compatible with your forever job, or one of them’s not going to last.

  4. Karowen*

    I know that we’ve talked about professional vs. non-professional LinkedIn pictures and not having pictures on your resume, but what’s everyone’s verdict on a picture on your online portfolio? It’s for a marketing/writing portfolio, and it would be a professional picture (not me with dogs/kids), but I can’t figure out whether or not it’s okay!

    1. Blue_eyes*

      I think a professional picture on your online portfolio would be fine. Think about the pictures that journalists have next to their columns in print and online, or photos of authors on their books. Especially in the field of writing, it seems common to have a picture associated with your work.

    2. Karowen*

      Thank you both! That’s what I was thinking, but when my design-friend asked me my first thought was to freeze like a deer in headlights :)

    3. INTP*

      I think it’s fine. It sticks out on a resume because so few people do it. Most professionals who need to maintain a strong online presence, in my experience, have professionally taken pictures on all of their social media outlets at least. If I were looking at a writing portfolio online and there was a picture of the author on the website’s home page or header, it would not occur to me to find it strange or unprofessional.

    4. Mister Pickle*

      My LinkedIn profile has a picture of my daughter and me in a swimming pool. It also says I have a Doctorate from Miskatonic University in Arkham, Massachusetts. I don’t take LinkedIn very seriously.

      Someone from still tried to recruit me.

      1. AB Normal*

        I, on the other hand, treat my LinkedIn profile very seriously. The best jobs I got, including the current one, which has all sorts of perks, I got through LinkedIn contacts. You probably don’t need LinkedIn to help you advance your career, but I would NOT advise anyone to follow your approach. A professional picture and well designed profile are much more likely to get people to contact you.

        By the way, I got a contact from someone from Google once, but I also get weekly contacts from all sorts of headhunters with interesting jobs I’d love to interview for if I wasn’t happy in my current job (which I took less than a year ago).

        1. Mister Pickle*

          True. If I really relied upon LinkedIn, I might put up a more professional picture. Surprisingly (or not) no recruiter has ever been able to offer me better recompense than what I get at my current job.

          I don’t know whether to call this “lucky” or not, but if I were to be laid off at this point in time, I’d probably just consider it unofficial early retirement and maybe start a home business building bespoke steampunk electronic musical instruments or something like that.

      2. C Average*

        Mine has me in a running singlet emblazoned with my company’s logo. It’s decidedly un-serious. But I would never consider working for a different company, and my company is sports-oriented. The picture is authentic and appropriate to my career path, such that it is, but it would definitely scan as unprofessional to a recruiter!

  5. Circumpolar*

    I am a supervising attorney responsible for hiring lawyers, investigators and support staff. After all the criticism of a law career from yesterday, I feel I must chime in about the practice of law, and the rumored glut of well- qualified yet unemployed lawyers. First, don’t go to law school if you want a legal job that pays well. Go because law is a calling. Go because it’s all you wanted to do since you were six. Go because you want to change the world. You probably won’t change the world, but you will make your corner of it more just and fair. As a side benefit, eventually you will make a very comfortable living.
    When I raised my hand at my first swearing in, 18 years ago, I teared up at the honor of joining the ranks of lawyers throughout history, many unknown now, who fought against slavery, child labor, suppression of speech and press, discrimination against minorities, women, state’s mockeries of the right to a fair trial, etc. THIS is what lawyers do. THIS is the power your law license gives you. Use it wisely.
    Are the hours long? Yes, sometimes. Dedication to your work and the greater cause it serves sometimes requires sacrifice. And, just when I think I’m too old for an all nighter, I blast music at my office all night as I write, (like cramming in college) and feel 30 again. Then, when the music stops and I collapse in exhaustion, I take a week off. It all balances out. People even have families, too. Through it all– the travel, sleeping on floors, long hours, general chaos–I know my work and my life have purpose and meaning.
    As to the glut of lawyers, a couple things: I see an attorney with a ton of debt as an attorney with poor judgment. Sorry. Some lawyers I know did Ivy schools, but their families could afford to support them. Good for them. Despite being accepted into Prestige Law School, I went to as low rent, and low ranked I could find. I knew what I wanted, and I knew I couldn’t count on big money coming out of school, so I didn’t incur unmanageable debt. We all take the same Bar exam, and nobody cares where you went to school after you’ve practiced a year. That differs if you value a career on Wall Street or something. If so, then you’ll probably do fine in that world. Know what you want to do and plan accordingly. A failure to adequately plan your legal education does not bode well for your ability to strategize your cases. If you have a lot of debt, it’s probably best for your career if you keep that to yourself.
    Second, the unemployed and underemployed lawyers I see don’t make it past the first cut. Why? They lack that spark– the drive and internal motivation that differentiates between the job-seeker and the lawyer who wants to do consequential work. If, say, you are living in your parents’ basement for lack of work, that’s understandable. What’s bewildering is why you’re not practicing law. With a computer and a phone, a lawyer can file documents, accept payment for services, and take CLEs. Add a suit and public transit or a used car, and you have a law practice. Take court appointments and clients who can’t pay. They’ll pay you the second time they need you. Go to court and shine. You’ll get a reputation, maybe more court appointments. Pretty soon, you’ll have a practice, albeit small. More importantly, when you interview for a steady paycheck you can say “I opened a practice the day I was sworn in. I took these clients because I believe in the rights guaranteed by Gideon.” Dedication and commitment in two sentences. It also applies to any type of law you want to break in to. Experience working with underserved populations and cultures different from your own are inherently valuable and an asset anywhere.
    I’ve carried on long enough. Stop reading about job searches. Go out there. Practice law. Change the world.

    1. JB*

      The legal field has changed a lot since you graduated. Even the low rent, low ranked schools charge and arm and a leg. Then because of the glut of lawyers, it’s very, very difficult to get a job when you graduate from a good school, much less get one that will pay off the student loans. Graduating from a low ranked school makes getting a decent paying job even more difficult. Not many people can go to law school these days without incurring unmanageable debt. What you’re saying sounds less like good advice and more like you don’t understand what current law students and graduates are facing.

      I do agree, though, that it doesn’t make a lot of sense for people to go to law school these days. But I don’t agree that you should only go if you see it as a calling. I think you should only go if you have a guaranteed well-paying job when you graduate or if you have a guaranteed free or nearly-free ride for all three years.

      1. Kat M*

        There is a point to the OP’s statement of going if you have a calling and a passion for it, as well as finding a way to make it work and doing whatever it takes to get clients and money from the start. I think the main points are as follows: A) It’s a rigorous field-not a field for someone who’s only hoping for the promise of money or who’s entering law school in order to put off “the real world”. B) You do have to be driven from the beginning and do what it takes to get your name out there. I’m not a lawyer myself but I’m noticing this among my peers who are lawyers or who have thought of law school (the current generation of law school grads).

        Also, to be fair, the OP did mention hiring and supervising lawyers. I hardly doubt this is a rose colored nostalgic, “Back in my day,” viewpoint.

        1. Senor Poncho*

          “Also, to be fair, the OP did mention hiring and supervising lawyers. I hardly doubt this is a rose colored nostalgic, ‘Back in my day,’ viewpoint.”

          one would think

    2. lawyer with a dimming spark*

      I am going to print this out and hide it in my drawer for those long nights at the office. Thank you for this!

    3. Molly*

      Honestly, though, the field was very, very different to enter 18 years ago. And I say this as someone who’s absolutely won the post-law-school lottery: I run a successful firm with two partners, we’re expanding regularly, and I work M-F, 9-4 with regular vacation time. My partners and I are incredibly lucky, as recent grads (2011 calls)–but our friends have not been. Many of my law-school friends are unemployed. Many of them hung out a shingle for lack of other opportunities and have not found clients. Many of them moved provinces to find jobs, leaving family and friends. Many of them have settled for document-review temping gigs, for soul-crushing work of various kinds, or have just gone back to school for something else.

      I always like to point out to kids who are considering law school because they’re smart that there are a million smart lawyers. There’s a limited and very in-demand number of smart law clerks, and they have five or six fewer years of tuition and delay before they start accruing experience and raises.

      1. lap_giraffe*

        I’ve long harbored the itch to practice law but I’d have to take out loans to pay for it (thankfully no undergrad loans, thanks mom and dad) and have always been dissuaded by all the negative press – too many lawyers, not enough jobs, debt debt debt, soul crushing life, etc. At 30 I’m reevaluating my career, though, and have an interview coming up with a small firm for an admin position. I imagine it’s less money than I make now, but I’m willing to take a cut to 1) cut out some mega expenses from my current job and 2) be closer to the actual practice of law to see if it’s something I should really jump after. I’d also really like the chance to be in an office and have a more “normal” life, have been doing sales on the road for years and am exhausted by it.

        Would be curious your thoughts about the idea, advice on what an admin’s life is like at a small firm, idea about what kind of salary range would be normal for a position like this in a large-enough US city, and anything else you’d like to share.

        1. Cucumber*

          Lap_Giraffe, you might consider the University of Houston law school. It has one of the best part-time programs in the country: tuition is about $26K a year, and it’s possible for people to work and take night classes. They have a fabulous people’s law workshop once a year for the public, and are highly ranked for public law, intellectual property and health law.

      2. Cleopatra Jones*

        Please don’t chalk your success up to…”I won the post-law-school lottery” or “My partners and I are incredibly lucky”. It undermines all of the hard work you and the firm’s partners have put into making your business a success. It seems like you are apologizing for being successful. Honestly, you should never apologize for success.

        I think better questions for me would be, what differentiates you from your unemployed lawyer friends? Did they go into extremely competitive areas of law? Are they unwilling to take on lawyer positions even if it’s in an area they don’t like? Do they think that having a JD automatically qualifies them for a job of their choosing?

        There has to be something.

        I hate when people say, ‘If I can do it then anyone can’ (or its equivalent) because that’s not really true. Being successful at anything takes a sh!tload of focus, discipline, and drive which many people just do.not.have.

        1. Senor Poncho*

          As someone who’s been practicing more or less since graduation and who makes decent enough money, I can honestly say that my success to date has been probably 90% luck (I’ll omit the details because the story isn’t much of a story). Now, I had to put myself in a position to get lucky, so to speak, and I think I’m pretty decent at my job, but, in my opinion, the nature of the beast these days is that luck is probably something close to a necessary-but-not-sufficient condition of a successful career in this field (and probably a lot of other fields too).

            1. Relosa*

              Right, but only about half of grads – in any discipline – have opportunity these days. CHANCE is heavily involved. You CAN affect your odds but not entirely by yourself.

              1. Felicia*

                +1. I am in a different field, and I worked hard before getting my job, still work hard, and am very good at what I do. But I still feel I was lucky to get a job in my field. Because many people (maybe more than half) who are graduating with degrees in the same field work just as hard, are just as good, do the internships, do everything they could possibly do, and they dont have a job in the field. I didnt have a job in the field for 2 years before I got lucky. I really dont do anything more or different , I work hard, but I recognize so do they.

      3. Dorothy*

        2007 law grad here — after the 2007-2008 economic debacle, it took me a long time to get where I’m at now. Things have changed a LOT in 18 years – unless you have someone else paying out of pocket for law school, you graduate with an average of $150k in debt, which is what I have. I can pay the necessities and I struggle with the loan payments, but I can’t imagine what else I would do other than practice law.

    4. Lily in NYC*

      Sorry, but things were way different 18 years ago. Nothing you wrote changes the fact that attorneys are not retiring at a rate fast enough to replace them with new graduates. What infuriates me the most about law school is how it’s almost a scam at so many places – how you will get a scolarship as long as you keep a “XX” average. What they don’t tell you is that they grade on a curve and only one or two people in the entire class will get that grade and be able to keep their scolarship. Everyone else is out of luck and the school rightly assumes that most of them will take out massive loans in order to finish. It’s such a scummy practice and while the very top schools don’t do it, plenty of otherwise respectable ones do, like Rutgers for example.
      I do agree that if you have a calling, then you should go for it. But only if you can get accepted into a top school.

    5. Dan*

      While I’m not a lawyer, I’ve looked at going to law school, and know a handful of ex-lawyers. (I know more ex-lawyers than any other profession. While this is partly a side effect of DC, I actually don’t really know that many other ex-anythings.)

      I’d also note that while the OP hires for *her practice*, her practice may not be representative of the market as a whole.

      In this day and age, I’d go to the best law school I could get into, no matter what the cost. I wouldn’t go to a low rent, low ranked school. OP’s practice might hire those grads, but there’s many places that won’t. And those schools aren’t cheap either.

      While I agree with the OP’s sentiment (don’t go to law school just to get rich!), because there’s many respectable jobs that don’t pay boku-bucks, the reality is that the economics of law have changed over the years.

      Just having a passion isn’t enough of a reason to get into law.

    6. Joey*

      how though can lawyers live with themselves for “practicing law” at the expense of morals and values. Oh I get it that you have a professional obligation to represent your client to the best of your ability. What I can’t get past (and I’m sure many others) is how can you live with yourself by making a career of looking for legal loopholes? Especially when a ton of people believe taking those loopholes is wrong and unethical.

      1. Reidi*

        It is difficult to respond in substance to such a broad critique of a profession as a whole, but I can’t help myself from trying. It is so disappointing to me that the legal profession is one against which people seem to think it is okay to levy personal attacks regarding the morality of the individual members. I am a lawyer who has practiced in the public and private sectors, handling both civil and criminal cases, and I know my colleagues to be smart, hard-working, dedicated, professionals who take very seriously the oath we swear upon entering the profession. The legal profession is also one in which pro bono service (including at the fancy Wall Street law firms) is highly encouraged and where it is not unusual for lawyers working in the private sector to donate many hours of their time to these pro bono efforts each year, which I believe is relatively rare among corporate jobs. Of course, litigation is an adversarial process, but I do not know a single lawyer who thinks of himself or herself as making a career out of looking for “legal loopholes.” Instead, they work to diligently and ethically to represent their clients’ interests within the confines of the law. Joey, perhaps you had a negative experience with an particular lawyer, leading to your negative view of attorneys in general. That is unfortunate, but I would encourage you to try not to let that experience color your view of the entire profession.

        1. Dan*

          I don’t believe in loopholes. Sure, there’s “unintended consequences” and things like that, but if the lawmakers were that interested in closing them, they would do so. Not my fault we have a dysfunctional government who can’t pass a law to save their life.

          Elsewhere on this thread, we’re talking about an issue with DC transportation, and how buying a pack of gum at the airport gas station constitutes enough “airport business” to avoid paying a toll. (And also skip a lot of traffic.)

          Is that a loophole, or following the law? Either way, if the government wanted to, they could “close the loophole” or more accurately, tighten up the laws defining “airport business.” Problem solved. If the lawmakers continue to let “loopholes” exist, then I assume it’s an intended consequence. Again, not my fault if they can’t fix unintended consequences.

          Loopholes are about doing what the law permits. They’re not about breaking the law and avoiding prosecution.

      2. Amanda*

        Assuming that all lawyers practice law at the expense of morals and values is like assuming that all IT professionals are hackers like Edward Snowden.

      3. Helka*

        I’m not a lawyer, but I do work in a job that involves a lot of “defending the indefensible” and playing merry hell with loopholes.

        And at the end of the day, it’s about a different way of looking at the idea of “represent the client to the best of your ability.” Sometimes our clients are in the wrong. That’s an inescapably true thing. But even if they are, what we’re doing is looking to make sure that the dispute against them doesn’t turn into a free-for-all. If they’re liable for $200, we make sure they’re getting hit for $200 and not $400. If there’s an accusation that’s probably true, we push to make sure it’s definitely true. If the dispute’s supposed to be opened within six months of the event, then we’re going to make sure that deadline is held to and our client won’t get hit for something that happened a year ago.

        That’s still representing best interests. Sometimes it sucks. Sometimes I hate having to take a side I think is ultimately wrong. But overall, it’s still a good thing to make the guys on the right side do their job properly. If you want to win, you can’t half-ass it, and enforcing that is part of my job.

        I’ve defended timeshare resellers, shady “tech support” services, and debt collection agencies. Do I think I’m doing God’s work? Heck no. But representing these folks is part of making sure the system works. Do they suck? Yeah. But that still doesn’t mean they don’t deserve to have someone representing their interests at the table.

        1. Dan*

          Yeah, and besides “did he do it?” isn’t usually the right question to ask. Did the accused kill his wife? Sure… but that’s not what he goes to jail for. He goes to jail for 1st degree murder, 2nd degree murder, voluntary manslaughter, involuntary manslaughter, and perhaps one or two more, and even that depends on the state.

          So yes, people deserve representation do ensure that thy’re charged with an appropriate crime.

      4. Cucumber*

        Joey, there are some wicked lawyers out there (and I mean that in the dictionary sense, not that they are ‘wicked cool’ like in Boston). But there are others who went into the field because of their morals and values. My cousin started out as a labor lawyer and is now a fed.

        Among the people she’s helped are people who were discriminated because of their disabilities or national origin, and survivors of child abuse and domestic violence.

        Likewise, one of my best friends in college has investigated workplaces for civil rights violations – like the kind we read about here on Ask a Manager. She’s also defended people who were cheated by landlords (sweet justice, considering her family was illegally thrown on their street by a landlord when she was a kid), and people who have been discriminated against because of their disabilities. Neither one of these women make a living off legal loopholes, and don’t live high on the hog off “BigLaw”.

        And you know, I have a lawyer who advises my small business, and another lawyer I work with at my day job. They don’t live for loopholes, they live to protect people from making dumb mistakes and putting their company at risk.

        As Reidi said, this kind of generality about “all” lawyers is not fair, especially when there are lawyers who are just as disgusted by unethical behavior.

    7. Senor Poncho*

      I’ll keep this very very brief, and will simply (a) point out that you’re way off on the debt / “ivy league” issue, among other things (massive debt is the rule, not the exception), (b) provide Berkeley’s nominal in state tuition of $48,165.50/year and Hastings’ nominal in-state tuition of $ 48,335/year as examples, (c) point out that the trade off for prospective law students is typically between better job placement (read: schools that actually place most of their graduates in jobs that pay enough to service their debt obligations) and cheaper tuition (read: discounting schools provide to students with higher LSATs to entice those students to attend), and (d) point out that paying clients are typically necessary not only to practice law but to, you know, survive, get food/shelter, meet debt obligations, etc.

      Honestly, just take 15 minutes and surf around on here if you want a more realistic picture of things: . It ain’t pretty.

    8. Stephanie*

      Not a lawyer, but I did work in the legal field and have several friends who went to law school and are now attorneys (so I know a lot of attorneys). The main complaint I heard was that law school didn’t prep them to actually practice. The few who did land jobs post school learned the actual practice on the job, but the recurring complaint was that school taught them the theory and history behind a contract but not how to actually write a contract.

      And seconding everyone who says school is absurdly expensive. There is an unranked, for-profit school locally that costs $180k for three years of attendance. Even if your goal isn’t to work at Cravath, $180k is still a ton of debt to try and start running a small or solo business.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Good point. The theory and thinking behind the law is there but the practical side is sorely lacking. I am hearing the same thing.

        1. Anx*

          Inspired by today’s other post on law degrees….

          I can’t help but think that there is some value in focusing on the theory, and not the practice. Because not everyone who gets a JD or studies law is interested in being an attorney. I would imagine there should be some specialization in the final semesters for career preparation.

          I know nothing about law, though.

          1. Jillociraptor*

            I think that’s absolutely true. The base of knowledge about the law is so vast and so ever-changing that you actually can’t “learn” it. What you actually need is a structural understanding of the law, and a basic set of frameworks and skills so that you know how to find and interpret the information you need. Eventually you reach a point where you are an expert in an area of law, but when you’re a new associate? No way; you need to know how to research and contextualize what you find. I can’t fathom how a law school would ever “teach you to practice.”

      2. Dorothy*

        Absolutely correct. I tell people that law school didn’t prepare me for anything except law school exams — it doesn’t even really prepare you well to pass the bar exam. You probably know, but many readers won’t, that in order to take the bar exam, the majority of us took (and PAID FOR) a separate, “bar prep” class in order to pass the bar exam? And by the way, studying for the bar doesn’t prepare you to do anything other than pass the bar (I think that any reasonably intelligent person who hasn’t gone to law school could probably pass the bar exam after taking the bar prep course and studying for 2-3 weeks as a full-time job). I’ve heard lawyers say that the third (and last) year of law school should be a practicum, working in law. I think that’s a fabulous idea – maybe that way, new grads will be a little more prepared for practicing law, because there is a lot of damage that a brand -new lawyer with a license and no experience can do to clients.

        1. anon attorney*

          In my jurisdiction, after the law degree you have to take a one year practical diploma then do a two year internship before you can be licensed to practise. Which means that by then you should be reasonably well versed in the dirty details of law e.g. not pissing off clients, keeping your files organized, getting paid.

          I feel sorry for people who genuinely want to be lawyers who live in the US given what I’ve read about the job and education market. Messed up. I didn’t qualify until I was in my late thirties and I’ve never regretted changing careers although unfortunately I now make about half what I did before (although I also work 4 days/week and don’t do crazy hours. My firm doesn’t expect it and I wouldn’t work somewhere that did.)

    9. Rat Racer*

      I’m don’t think you’re correct with the statement “nobody cares where you went to school after you’ve practiced a year.”

      That depends heavily on the firm and what kind of law you practice.

    10. Lamington*

      I just want to chime in that I went to a T4 school and owe 130k just on tuition money, I always worked during my law school in a full time job. also for court appointments, it is competitive and feast or famine. One of my friends does this for a living and is making less than 30k a year, you cannot just rely on that.

    11. JCC*

      ” If, say, you are living in your parents’ basement for lack of work, that’s understandable. What’s bewildering is why you’re not practicing law. With a computer and a phone, a lawyer can file documents, accept payment for services, and take CLEs. Add a suit and public transit or a used car, and you have a law practice. ”

      That’s the big elephant in the room — nobody wants to be Lionel Hutz practicing low-rent law out of a briefcase, even though that road is always open; why not?

      1. Circumpolar*

        My comments were directed at motivated, competent, lawyers who cared about the law and their clients, yet still lacking formal employment. I don’t think I overestimated most of the AAM legal community. Those who see themselves as incompetent, and are willing to do shoddy work, have more problems than any hiring manager can solve. Good luck.

        Finally, regarding loans. I had them. My employees have them. We/they hunkered down, made a plan, and paid/pay them off– not unlike Dorothy above. Had enough for necessities, lived modestly, drove old cars, ate noodles. Yet, couldn’t imagine doing anything else. Salaries are higher now than 20 years ago, so if you manage to cut your costs through scholarships and work (and schools like Houston, mentioned earlier) , as many of my employees have done, you can still get out with less than half of the 130-150,000 commonly invoked. As to Ivy’s, we have those, too. All I care about is whether a person can read, write, think at a high level, and has the life experience to relate to everyone. No school has a monopoly on those lawyers. They are everywhere, fighting for justice and the expansion of liberty and due process for all people, in often heroic anonymity.
        Thank you for your thoughtful responses and dissents to my post.

  6. Elkay*

    Hopefully Ask A Manager readers don’t need to hear this but from experience this week – please don’t stop by your co-worker’s desk for a long (5+ minutes) chat about a project you are working together on when you’ve just been for a run.

    1. Lily in NYC*

      I wouldn’t care as long as is wasn’t a guy wearing head to toe spandex that makes it look like he’s smuggling grapes in his pants (my former coworker).

      1. Adonday Veeah*

        Oh, Lily, how can I POSSIBLY explain to my co-workers why I am laughing so hard tears are streaming down my face?!

  7. Starbux*

    It has been an interesting week at work for me. I have been looking for a new position for several months because my current team and company just isn’t a good fit anymore, my manager has turned into a Mean Girl, etc.

    Earlier this week, our team met and they announced that our division is being shut down. The silver lining is that I was not laid off and will be shifted to another team within the organization. I’ve heard great things about my new manager. We did have some layoffs, which are always unfortunate but when you’re in sales and haven’t sold anything in years…yeah, it might be time to go.

    1. Starbux*

      I should add that it has been hard for the existing staff as well. A lot if blood, sweat, and tears went into our work and we feel like failures. I’m trying to remain positive, especially about my “new” role and manager but I’m just so tired of this place. I feel like I already have “one foot out the door” anyway, because I’m actively looking for a new position. Plus, all our existing work had been put on hold…so I literally have very little to do.

    2. Ali*

      I wish you luck. I’m trying to switch jobs for similar reasons (albeit I have a male manager haha). I used to love my job, but I’m burned out and it doesn’t really fit me anymore. Hope you find something soon!

  8. Larisa*

    I’m looking at going back to college at an older age (I’m 30, I’ll be almost 35 when I graduate). All I’ve really done over the last decade are call centre sales jobs (I hate hate hate insurance and sales, my current job is so depressing) and various retail and baby sitting and child’s party entertaining jobs (dressing up as a princess) since then which has prompted me to go back to college because I want to make a career (in Marketing/PR/Communication fields). Will the fact I am older and a new graduate make this impossible or is there a chance my maturity and ‘life experience’ will be more of an asset than I think it could be. I’m scared I’m wasting my time and money going back and should just accept I’m stuck in dead end work and try and make the most of it. Do managers hire older people who basically wasted their own lives before getting their crap together or will I be judged badly for not having it together for 10 years?

    1. Nerd Girl*

      #1 – I just turned 40 so if 30 is old, we have issues. ;)
      #2 – Good for you for going back to school! I am planning on taking advantage of the company tuition reimbursement this winter and pursue my degree in business. :)
      #3 – I hope that you won’t be judged. I don’t think that many people out there “have it together”.
      #4- don’t accept the life you have now as the only thing you’re ever going to have. Follow your dream, get your degree, and make things better for yourself!!!

      1. Larisa*

        1. LOL, I don’t think 40 is old, but I panic at the whole ‘it’s impossible to get jobs after your 20s’ things I’ve read online.
        2-4: Thank you for your kind words :)

        1. Anna*

          What you’re reading is BS. I was 39 when I was hired at my current gig and it is the job I had been pursuing for more than 2 years (not this exact job, but a job doing this sort of thing). As Alison has said on this blog many times, people change fields and directions for a variety of reasons. I’d add that they don’t all do them when they’re 25.

        2. Parfait*

          I’ll tell you one thing: your degree date will make people assume that you are a lot younger than you are when they’re looking at your resume. My mother-in-law got her degree late in life, and she swears that a degree date of 1985 versus 1970 saved her from a LOT of age discrimination as she got older. Sometimes there was a little shock when she appeared for an interview, but guess what, she got the interview.

          That might not seem like a boon at 30 but when you’re 50, it absolutely will.

    2. soitgoes*

      Lots of people our age are hitting the same roadblocks you are, and going back to school is a great way to open up new opportunities. Not just because you’re being educated, but because you can take advantage of internship placements. Marketing is a bit tricky these days; lots of people want to work “in marketing,” and a lot of businesses are finally realizing that running their own social media campaigns isn’t all that hard. But being educated and qualified in any sense will help you, and it’s definitely good for explaining away a spotty resume. You were in school, after all. Good luck!

      1. Larisa*

        The problem is that working in ‘harder’ business areas like accounting, finance and banking are not options for me because I am not very good with numbers at all, so I need to look at the softer areas of business to try and find something that matches my strengths. Unfortunately, my real strengths are things like History, which are useless unless you want to be a teacher, which I don’t. The internships was what I was really hoping the access. The problem is that I have to go to school in a city I don’t want to live in, and I’m worried I’ll get stuck living in that city after graduation.

        1. soitgoes*

          I’m definitely not trying to steer you away from what you want to do! It’s totally possible to use a marketing degree to enter pretty much any field you’re interested in. I just think it’s worth mentioning that general “marketing” is this decade’s fantasy dream job. Remember how, when we were little girls, all of our favorite TV characters wanted to be journalists? These days it’s marketing, to the extent that nearly every local startup I’ve seen (that has folded within a year or two) has been a marketing agency. Why do you have to go to school where you don’t want to live? I’d say focus on that first, since jobs are limited by location.

    3. Wilton Businessman*

      My Aunt cut hair full-time and went to school part-time for 10 years to earn her degree at 50. She is a really strong person and I admire her for it. And she’s in a much better place for doing it.

    4. Robin*

      Will some people judge you? Sure. But some people will use almost any excuse to judge. Have you seen how much judgy crap people write about millennials and their work ethic?

      But I think most people know someone who took a little longer to get it together, and sometimes those people are much harder working, and more focused, because they know a lot better than the rest of us what the alternative is.

      On a related note, I think in your situation, confidence in yourself is going to be really important. I think your insecurity about this is going to be a much bigger issue if you’re projecting insecurity. And in the field you’re thinking about, self-confidence is especially important. You are accomplishing great things! And you’re doing it the hard way! Maybe spend the time you’re in school also working on building up your own confidence in yourself, or at least finding a way to fake it ’til you make it.

      Good luck!

      1. Larisa*

        Ah yes, I’ve seen all the writing about how my 1984 birthdate means I am an entitled lazy brat who wants to spend 9 months of the year on vacation and get a new smart phone every month LOL.

        I do feel insecure about it mainly because I have friends who managed to get it all right the first time and never had to go through this crisis of sorts. It makes me feel like a real loser next to them to be 30 and basically at the same point in life as a 18 year old high school graduate.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          The people who get it all right the first time, fall apart at the first bump they hit. Why. Because they are used to getting it all right. They have no clue how to handle or react to the bumps in the road.

        2. Anx*

          I can feel you. I have a flip phone phone and want 10 vacation days to visit family and help my family with home maintenance projects.

          I feel like such a loser thinking that I was in a better place at 18 AND had no student debt/hadn’t had my mom pay for school yet.

    5. Future Analyst*

      I can’t speak to the effectiveness of getting a degree in order to change enter this particular field, but I would certainly caution against presenting yourself as having wasted your life before going to school. It would be much more useful to tweeze out any skills you learned during your previous positions that apply to the new field. Customer service positions offer direct interaction with the clients (which speaks to an understanding of your audience), call center sales and retail jobs speaks to communication skills, and even the child’s party entertaining jobs can speak to being creative and innovative in your approach to your audience. By reframing your previous experience as providing you with indirect experience in marketing/PR, you can show that you see things in a creative and positive light, which would certainly help in this field.

      1. Larisa*

        Thanks for that :) It just feels like a waste to have had such ‘useless’ jobs whole most of my peers have careers at this age.

        1. ThursdaysGeek*

          Yeah, comparing yourself to others doesn’t do any good. There will always be others that look better, especially from the outside.

          It’s better to compare yourself to yourself — where you are vs where you could be, where you want to be. And if you’re not where you want to be, what does it take to get there? Start at least taking small steps in that direction, and pick up speed as you get confidence in the direction.

        2. Dan*

          My “useless” jobs are an integral part of my employment today.

          I used to be a truck driver before going back to school in software engineering and mathematics. Think driving a truck is useless? Not when you’re working for a trucking company developing software and routing algorithms.

        3. KSM*

          Don’t compare your day-to-day with everyone else’s highlight reels. You see their fabulous, rising career, but don’t know they hate their job, etc.

      2. Nanc*

        Future Analyst has it right about applying your previous skills. Raise your hand if you’re in marketing and have dressed in costume for a trade show or event!

      3. SherryD*

        I agree that those birthday party gigs sound like they are good experience for marketing and communications. That shows you’re not shy — or at least that you’re willing to be extroverted, and “perform” when the job calls for it.

    6. Calla*

      Congrats! I just turned 26 and am going back to school currently (will graduate with my bachelors when I’m around 28 probably, unless I really load up). I haven’t tried to change careers yet and also can’t speak for Marketing specifically, but in my experience, having a degree will definitely help you. And IMO you will have a leg up on other “new grads” because you have real-world work experience.

    7. Artemesia*

      Getting a degree resets the clock to some extent and you are likely in many fields to be able to come in above entry level as the past work experience makes you more desirable. And you will have an advantage in school over your 18 year old self and many of your 18 year old peers; older women who have been learning to juggle their many roles tend to be good students — they know how to organize themselves and get things done. (and in a few years you will be a few year older; with this plan, you will be older and have that degree)

    8. ella*

      One of my aunts went back to school after raising four kids and nursing (and losing) her husband to a long illness. She has a job that she loves now. Granted, this was ten years ago or so, when the job market was very different; and she went into teaching, which I think might be more forgiving to the “older person changing their life” demographic (more forgiving than, say, a social media marketing firm might be). But it worked out well for her and it’s great to see her so happy and fulfilled in a job she loves. Good luck!

    9. HAnon*

      Here’s my 2 cents as someone who works in this field (on the creative side), and also would not want to incur any extra debt. I’d try to get some kind of entry level job in a marketing agency…even as a receptionist, so you can get a foot in the door. Agencies don’t typically pay very well until you get up to a certain level and often work their salaried employees around the clock, so even with a shiny new degree it would probably still take several years to work up to a really decent paygrade…I’d look into taking a continuing education type of course in the field you’re interested in, as well as reading up on whatever new methods/technology/etc are being used in that field, and read some white papers. Volunteer to manage the social media for a friend or family member’s website or small business to earn some experience on the side. I say this because the marketing field is definitely not for everyone, and it might give you a better idea of what you would actually be doing on a daily basis before you commit to a full degree program with loans (my assumption) and everything that comes along with it. Also, start looking for opportunities to do some PR/Marketing for your current company…see if you can take on some extra tasks that will give you some experience to put on your resume…maybe it’s crafting social media posts, responding to customers, revamping something on the website…so much of this can be self-taught if you look for the right resources. Get in touch with a hiring agency that places people in marketing/creative positions, and ask them what you need to do to make yourself an attractive candidate. If you have a customer service background, that definitely can fall under “communications experience”…try to think of incidents where you took time to really understand what the customer wanted/needed/was looking for…see what other skills can translate to the marketing field. You might also want to consider a position in marketing like a Project or Traffic Manager, or Media Buyer. Also, if you have really great people skills, work ethic, and positive attitude, that’s a huge plus. You can teach anyone facts/skills…I’ve found that employers are often looking for people that will be positive, bring solutions (not problems) to the table, and be pleasant to work with and interact with…so no job experience has been wasted if you can demonstrate these things.
      Good luck!

      1. Anna*

        My personal experience with deciding that I liked marketing/PR/communications is that if you’re planning on going full tilt to school and not working, volunteer to do some marketing or PR for a non-profit that needs help. That is exactly what I did. I was hired on to do that sort of work (not for the NPO I volunteer with). Or, even if you are working, you might carve out some time to volunteer doing that sort of work. My volunteer work led directly to my current career. I cannot emphasize it enough.

    10. Felicia*

      I am in Marketing/PR/Communications and you can do it! You are not stuck! It is a hard field to get into for absolutely everyone, but i think your age won’t hold you back:) make the most of your school experience and get as much volunteering/interning in the field as you possibly can while you’re there – which i would tell anyone! Age might hold you back in entertainment marketing and those really competitive agencies, but i’m in non profits and here it won’t. Your customer service experience will be an asset :) And really as long as you get as much practical knowledge/experience as you can while you’re in school then you’ll be fine!

      And no one has it together or is stuck.

    11. straws*

      I have 2 positive anecdotes to share on this:
      1) My husband just obtained his associate degree and has started job hunting. It gave him a great confidence boost, and he’s already been interviewed. His current & previous jobs were in somewhat related industries, so his experience is absolutely a plus (he was specifically told this by one interviewer).
      2) My mother went back to school after 15+ years of being a stay at home mom. She almost immediately found a job and moved around companies and within her field 3 more times before retiring. She never felt like her age should hold her back if her grades, and later her work quality, were impressive. I think her confidence in that helped her a lot. So if you do push forward and go, let yourself shine! And good luck either way!

    12. whatnow*

      Don’t not do it because you’re older. Especially if you’re already stuck in dead end jobs that you hate, the worse thing that could happen is that you go to college, and come out with debt and are in dead-end jobs that you hate. But then the worse thing that could happen right now is you keep staying in those jobs. At least if you go you would have had that experience of going to college, and you would have the possibility of keeping applying to jobs you want, and changing where you end up.

      Also as long as you go to college and are really active: internships/volunteering/part-time jobs and really learn everything there is to know about Marketing/PR and plan it out – research etc about looking for jobs/companies, then I think you’d have an advantage over younger graduates. A lot of people go to college when they’re young not knowing where they want to be, or what they don’t want to do. You’ll have loads more motivation and insight. Just make sure you plan so that you can get a great job/experience when you graduate. Good luck!

    13. Turanga Leela*

      Go for it! Be smart about networking and looking for job opportunities while you’re in school. Practice talking about your work history and how it led you to go back to school and change fields. For whatever it’s worth (and I’m not in marketing or communications), I would LOVE to hire someone who used to be a birthday party princess. You know how to work hard and have a real reason for going to college.

      You’ll be 35 whether you go back to school or not; the question is whether you’d rather be 35 with a degree or without.

    14. Seal*

      Despite having a BA, I went back to school to complete an addition major in my 30s, then got 2 masters degrees in my 40s. I was never the oldest person in any of my programs. I had been stuck in a dead end library job for years; going back to school was absolutely the best thing I’ve done for myself. After finishing my first masters degree in library science, I was able to get my first professional position at age 43 and was made a department head a year later. My combination of years of library experience prior to getting my MLIS plus the MLIS itself was what got me the job. Truly, it’s never too late to go back to school.

      One other thing to consider. Five years from now you’ll be 35 regardless of whether or not you go to school. Do you want to turn 35 as a new college graduate on your way toward a new career you love, or do you want to turn 35 having spent the past 5 years working at jobs you say you hate? The choice is yours, but you DO have a choice.

    15. Lily in NYC*

      My aunt went to med school at 35, and she had 4 little kids at home (who she neglected while she was in school, but that’s a different story). She was so successful she ended up being the president of her state’s AMA and was the head of her department at UCLA medical center, which is very competitive. But she was very, very driven.

    16. LiteralGirl*

      I went back to school at 39 after being a stay-at-home mom for 6 years. It was actually a confidence booster for me. I understood the material better with some life experience under my belt and really excelled. When I finished, I knew where I wanted to work and took a job that, while not what I wanted to do, enabled me to move up to my current position pretty quickly.
      Go back to school if you can. Take advantage of the fact that you’re older than many of the other students, lead project work, and really get into what you’re studying. Be willing to start in an entry level position when you graduate and work your way up. You may be doing it later than your peers but you will have a much more satisfying work life if you are able to do work you are interested in.
      Good luck!

    17. periwinkle*

      Ann Landers (or Dear Abby) used to remind people that you’ll be 4 years older in 4 years, whether or not you go for your degree. I finally got around to finishing my bachelors at age 44. At 47 I finished my MSc. At 49 I was hired into a thoroughly awesome position.

      1. anon attorney*

        +1. I went back to university part time to do my law degree when I was 32. Ten years later I’m happily employed in the field and I have work friends who were older than me when they started. Life experience is an advantage in almost all academic and professional fields IMO. If you can afford it, definitely go for it.

    18. lap_giraffe*

      1984 gal here in the same position, also considering going back to school (i made the unfortunate decision to get a masters in the arts, thus graduating in 2008, and it’s amazing to see the difference between my college friends who went straight into the workforce in 2006 “thriving”, and those of us who thought we were making a smart decision very much struggling)

      I’ve had a distinct pleasure of getting to know several great people in the 47 – 62 range over the last few years, and just generally getting out of the same age bubble that college and young adulthood encompass, and I’ve realized that a lot of the anxieties I have are normal and not necessarily something people grow out of. One of my best friends is 51 and he did all the right things, worked the right jobs, stayed in positions and grew within companies, and he looks at me and some of our other younger colleagues with envy because we feel free to try on new things and move on from something that’s not working for us. Another friend, who is one of the smartest and most successful people I know, is nearing 50 and entertaining new career ideas and feeling the pull of a new city.

      The caveat here, worth mentioning, is that none of these people have kids or traditional families. I don’t know if having kids makes it any different or gives you the stamina to push through bad jobs knowing that someone else is relying on you, but I imagine people are always going to be doubting if they’re doing the right thing, if they’re far enough along the success continuum, if the grass isn’t greener….Maybe that sounds depressing, that it never gets better, but it has freed me up to realize I’ve given myself impossible standards and need to come back to reality on a regular basis :-)

    19. Sabrina*

      I hate to say “don’t do it.” But since I can’t be a shining example, I guess I can be a horrible warning. I went back to school to finish my degree. I already had an associates, so I just needed to finish my bachelors. A year after graduation, and I couldn’t find anything. I’ve only had one interview. The thing with marketing, is right now, you need experience AND a degree. I couldn’t afford to do an internship (paid or unpaid) while I went to school, and it’s crazy, but I’ve found internships that want experience too! So here I am, still in a crappy job that I went back to school to get out of, except now I also have student loans to pay for. Going back to school is easily the worst decision I’ve ever made.

      1. Dan*

        That sucks. I’m the complete opposite though. When “school” comes up here, I always say, “go back only if you have a real plan.” Because you’re right, you don’t want a pile of debt and no extra money to pay it off.

        Although, I’d argue that a BA/BS as a returning adult probably isn’t a real door opener anymore. It seems that most that get that degree late in life do it for self-esteem reasons as much as anything else. It’s almost just a bare minimum, so part of me understands why if you’ve already got a job, then the degree isn’t adding a whole lot of value.

      2. Cucumber*

        Sabrina, I’m sorry this is happening to you. Maybe you can move into a peripheral field – for instance, managing social media for an organization or business (where your maturity will be an asset – mucho horror stories about young ‘uns using Facebook or Twitter irresponsibly). I think health care marketing and communications is an area that will continue to grow, even if it’s not as glamorous as some other fields.

        I graduated into a recession (though this one has been worse for a lot of people), and couldn’t work in my chosen field, had a lot of doors slammed in my face. I found peripheral work; then as a military spouse, later on, started a sideline business — and the sideline business finally allowed me to work in my chosen field, and eventually led to a solid day job. I do think persistence can lead to luck, over the long run.

        1. Felicia*

          In my experience, managing social media for an organization is an even harder thing to get into than traditional marketing. Everyone wants to do it…such jobs often get hundred of applicants.

          It took me 2 years of internships, volunteering, one temp job, living off my supportive parents and lots of tears before getting my job in public relations, which I have now. I love my job now ,and I loved getting my degree. I’m very passionate about the field. I think if you do it , it has to be a passion – it’s not really a good plan if it’s just to escape crappy jobs, because plenty of people who graduated with me, did well in school, and have done 2-3 internships and/or volunteer, are still stuck working in retail , or in a call centre, because thats all they can get.

    20. A Teacher*

      I teach a required course at a junior college at night for those entering the health care field. Many of my students are non-traditional–some are 25, some are 40, and my oldest was 56, he was going to be a physical therapy assistant, and has since graduated. I LOVE my non-traditional students, mainly because they have had life experiences that a lot of students fresh out of high school haven’t had. I like the traditional students too, but overall I find that my non-traditional students tend to be more focused–even more focused than the “A” traditional students and they appreciate when I talk about real life experience because most of them have had jobs. Good luck to you!

    21. Puddin*

      Mr. Puddin is on his last semester of his Bachelor’s degree after returning to school in his late 30’s. His age has been a blessing. He knows how to cut the crap with fellow students better than most traditional age students (like the person who does not pull his/her weight in group work) as an example. He relates to the instructors as peers – because they are age-wise – this creates some intangible benefits in those relationships. His experience lends ‘trust’ and ‘capability’ to his boss’ perception of him in is current internship which allows for more tasks and exposure than it normally would.

      I finished my Bachelor’s (Professional Communications) when i was 28 – so a little older than traditional as well. I cannot recall anytime in school or in my career when this has been a negative. The only thing I worry about is that if a prospective employer sees my graduation date, they might assume I am younger than I am and have less ‘on the job’ experience than I do. Although, I am getting old enough (44) that is becoming less of an issue.

      Go to school! Even if your job life or income is only marginally better, you will have grown personally and been exposed to concepts, perspectives, and people that will change you – for the better. I do believe in an education for its own sake. And, even with the hiring difficulties people experience in troubling economies, you will (nearly) always have a better chance at getting a better job with a degree or win out over another candidate without a degree.

      Finally, I think you are judging yourself too harshly when you say you wasted your life. It seems to me that you were figuring things out. Now that you know what you want, go get it. I’ve been where you are and getting my education was the best decision I ever made.

      Whatever you choose, good luck!

    22. HR Manager*

      Maybe this is my overly idealistic view, but I don’t think it’s the age per se that may stop a manager from hiring someone older for an entry-level job. It may be their presumptions about your expectations on work, salary, growth, etc. You will be competing for jobs with other fresh grads who may be ok earning 25k a year because they’re on their parents’ health insurance until they’re 26, or who are excited to learn anything because it’s all new to them. And yes, a lot of recruiters and hiring managers stereotype without consciously doing so. The important thing will be to challenge those presumptions in your interview, when you can.

      You want hiring managers not to stereotype you because of your age, but don’t expect them to generalize and assume positive qualities due to your age either. Life experience and maturity (age-wise) themselves usually don’t translate to much when I recruit — staying calm in difficult situations, a pattern of showing good judgment or making good decisions, history of taking on more responsibility, managing through tough situations, etc. do. I can’t tell you how many cases of office drama I’ve seen involve older workers who regress to being 8 yrs old when there is any conflict.

    23. Anonicorn*

      I think being a PR Director (or whatever) for 15-20 years is better than being one for 0 years.

      Last year as I was nearing my 30th birthday, I went back to college for a degree in biochemistry. I already have an undergrad in English, so this was something completely different than my entire academic and professional past. I don’t think it’s all that uncommon. I’ve met dozens of people who aren’t fresh out of high school. People can judge, but that’s their problem. Besides, I’ve consistently had the top test grades in two of my classes so far. I think there’s more value in a well-established work ethic than simply being “on the path” at a young age.

    24. Cucumber*

      I’m sure other people have told you this already, but non-traditional students (those over 25) tend to do better academically and have higher GPAs.

      Also, I recently did a study for graduate school with a specific group of students, some of whom were non-traditional. We found that the older students tested better on new knowledge than the younger students.

      Back when I was a (traditionally-aged) undergraduate, my favorite people in many of my classes were older students, because they had a different perspective, could explain stories and ideas based on the places they’d been and things they’d done, and as people, tended to be more confident in their identity. I met an exception or two (a fifty year old woman who was too much of a free spirit; her age seemed to have nothing to do with it; and an older guy who was a little skeevy with the ladies).

      Have a lot of fun and do great!

    25. Just me*

      I was working in a call center and graduated with a BS in marketing at 30. Seven years later I am in a senior marketing position. Things to consider:

      •marketing is closely related to sales. Your experience will likely be helpful.
      •consider your area. Marketing jobs are hard to find in rural areas. I had to relocate to find a new position to grow in my career.
      •volunteering can totally help you. Not having experience will make it difficult to transition when you do graduate.

      I started in a smaller company and had the opportunity to really grow. Being more mature is not a problem, but make sure you network. In marketing, social media is important. LinkedIn will help! Understanding social media isn’t just for kids.
      Good luck!

    26. Dr. Doll*

      Make the most of your time in school by cultivating relationships with your professors. Professors are pretty good about not judging people who needed time to get their crap together (as long as it’s not done in *their* class!) They will be absolutely delighted with a mature, serious, hard-working person who is interested and committed. And then they steer you toward good opportunities and write very good letters of recommendation. If you can, join things like the honors program in your school; there’s a dearth of business types in those programs so you will be extra-special welcome.

      And btw, I just now hired a student “communications director.” Look for opportunities to work in your field AT your school.

  9. Nervous Accountant*

    I’ve been toying with the idea of taking on a temp assignment in another state… real reason except mild curiosity for a change of scenery. I’ve never been interested in going out of the city so this has come totally out of the blue and I’d have absolutely no idea how to go about doing this. The biggest hurdle is the fact that I don’t drive yet (the city does have public transit although not the kind I’m used to here).

    Am I crazy for wanting to do this? If not, where/how do I even begin searching? I’m sure there are posts here, so any thoughts/links would be appreciated!

    1. Karowen*

      I don’t think you’re crazy! There’s a whole industry dedicated to travel nursing that lets you work quarter-year contracts around the nation. If you don’t have ties to an area, or just want to get out of where you are now, I’d definitely say to do it. Literally the only reason I wouldn’t say to go for it is if you have a partner’s career or children to consider.

      I don’t know about the searching part, but maybe try some of the bigger staffing firms that have locations nationwide/globally. If you can work well with them, they may be able to help you bounce around.

    2. Lily in NYC*

      Honestly, I would learn to drive first and then go for it. If it’s a place with only mediocre public transporation, I think that’s a pretty big annoyance. You might be able to get to work easily enough, but think about the rest of your life – shopping, errands, meeting people, etc.

      1. Nervous Accountant*

        I think that’s my biggest hurdle right now :( Working elsewhere was never a thing for me but I’m growing more and more interested in the idea.

        For some reason, I dn’t plan on having much of a social life…during tax season I don’t think I’ll be working less than 60 hours, so that won’t leave alot of extra time to shop or run errands etc.

        1. fposte*

          I could see doing this for a temp position with a finite end. But I think if it doesn’t have a finite end and an escape route it can leave you in a very bad place.

          I’m assuming that you would at least be able to buy groceries, though. If you can only eat restaurant delivery, that might end up being an expensive experiment.

        2. Lily in NYC*

          I don’t mean this to sound judgy. But if you don’t plan to have a social life and are just going to work ridiculous hours, is it worth moving elsewhere if you aren’t going to be able to actually enjoy exploring the area and getting to know new people? I can relate about the driving thing – I’m in NYC and haven’t driven a car in 10 years. I would be terrified to get behind the wheel after such a long break.

    3. The IT Manager*

      Not crazy! My previous job forced me to move, and it was a great experience. I thought I liked living in the country, but I just did not know any better. Also what living in a city means, varies widely. I’ve decided I like living in a city or a large town with all the perks that come with it. BTW I have briefly visited but never tried to live in NYC. I think I would not like it. Too many people and buildings crowded together.

      It is a bit harder to find a job long distance, but the desire to move and experience something different is normal. I think it’s awesome that you’re willing to take the chance.

      1. Sara aka NV*

        Plucky…cute word!!!!

        That’s pretty much the only reason I want to do this, for the story… is that a bad reason? my husband is supportive of me being away for a couple of months since there’s a firm end date. I’ll be staying with family so as long as I can contribute $$, getting around for errands, groceries, etc shouldn’t be a problem.

        1. nep*

          No bad reasons. When we create or live a new ‘story’, we’re experiencing new things and people, and probably learning a lot.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      I took a summer job in a resort area, decades ago. No regrets. I wanted to do more of it, but other opportunities came along. Although, I had my DL, I had no vehicle. Public transportation was non-existent, but walking was doable. (Work was about a mile away.) The only big deal were groceries and laundry. I had to be able to carry everything back and forth. If you are going to walk every where and work 60 hours a week you are going to be one pooped puppy. (Heck, walking everywhere and working 40 hours a week will get plenty tired. And odd things come up- I worked 3-11 and the grocery store closed at 9. That meant get groceries before work or be hungry after work. No wiggle room there.)

      Since I was still in school my plan was to move home once the semester started. So I had a back up plan if I ran out of employment opportunities. Make sure you have a back up plan and/or safety net. Know the area. If you know public transportation is not good, part of your plan should be to get your DL and a cheap car.
      The hardest part of the story for me was not having a checking account and a credit card. (There were no debit cards then.) Banks were hostile to seasonal employees and there were all kinds of fees for any type of service if you did not have permanent residency. I kept a bare bones savings account. I had to walk to the bank, cash the check and walk to the various locations to pay my bills. That was hard.

  10. Malissa*

    What a week!

    We had a long-time employee quit in a fit of rage. After hours thank goodness. I got reprimanded for being helpful and organized. We had picture day at work. Alison confirmed my suspicions that I work for a loon.
    Also I found what may be a perfect position for my escape.

    So how was everybody else’s week?

    1. Diet Coke Addict*

      I spent twelve hours working on a project as instructed, then my boss came back into the office today and told me I’d done it all wrong (even though I worked from his instructions exactly and had his most beloved employee help me). I was apparently supposed to take the (differing) input from 3 different people and put it together, even though I was not informed of this at any point, ever. Whee.

    2. In Disguise*

      Good! Two steps forward, one step back is still forward progress. I see the light at the end of the tunnel, and although we’re not approaching as fast as anyone on the team would like, we’re definately approaching it. Current challenges seem surmountable.

      Yesterday afternoon with 30 minutes in the day, I was caught up on all my project work for the first time in to 12+ months I have been on this project. It’s a wierd feeling, but obviously very good.

      1. In Disguise*

        So this morning, I have been catching up on my overflowing email box. So easy to delete or archive things quickly when they’re months or weeks old. The items in my Inbox are less than 400 now. Wheee!

        I’m getting all ambitious and think maybe I can use some of this spare time in my day to implement some sort of Inbox management system before my next project starts. Does anyone has system that works for them? I avergae 40 – 50 messages a day with about 70% releated to my project. Some need responses but I am also CCed on a lot of info that I may just save “in case I need it.”

        1. Blue_eyes*

          A lot of people like the Inbox Zero style of inbox management. You can google it. It basically makes sure to take action on each email you receive (even if the action is to delete it), and don’t spend too much of your day (and therefore energy) managing email.

        2. ThursdaysGeek*

          I have folders for my general work email, with subfolders for some of the more common types, such as meetings, policies, status. Then I have another main folder for my work emails, with subfolders for each project. That way everything is more or less organized.

          In addition, I archive everything by year, so there is a general-2013 and work-2013 archive folder (with all the subfolders), and will be the same for 2014. That keeps me from getting in trouble with the email folder-size police.

        3. Yet another Alison*

          I have finally found a system which works for me, based on two folders – “action” and “archive”. I empty my inbox into those once a day or so. Only emails which need me to do something go into action, everything else gets deleted or archived.

          If I need to find anything in the archive the search function in outlook is fine. It could be better but even so the amount of time spent searching is so much less than the time I used to spend filing emails into sub folders. It’s also great to know that all the emails I have to respond to are in one place, which eliminates that niggling worry that there’s something urgent lurking in my inbox that I have missed.

          I also have one extra folder where I keep nice emails where people have said that I have done a good job on X, which serves two purposes – it cheers me up to read them if I’m having an awful day, and I show them to my line manager at performance review time. I do pieces of work for lots of departments, so my while my line manager is aware of what I’m up to, he doesn’t actually see most of it. It’s useful to have something to demonstrate what I’ve done well on.

    3. KellyK*

      Reprimanded for being helpful and organized? Ouch. I really want to hear that story. Were you making the slackers look bad or what?

    4. ThursdaysGeek*

      Also I found what may be a perfect position for my escape.

      I imagined your ‘perfect position’ as you perched in an upper window of the office, hang-glider wings folded against your body, about to launch yourself away from this current job, looking back slightly with a wave and a smile.

    5. Elizabeth West*

      1. Airport Saga from Hell (read latest blog post) made me have to spend the night in Hotlanta instead of getting home on Monday night like I was supposed to. Called my boss from the hotel shuttle and she was very sympathetic. I love my boss. She is the best boss EVAH. <3 :D

      2. Finally got home at 11:30 am. Went to work for three hours. Had 380, 916, 652 emails.

      3. Am still jet-lagged, I guess–yesterday I got very little done. But I did a stair climb at work this morning and it was too easy! I'm going to have to ramp up my activity if I want to maintain the weight loss London and Cardiff gave me.

      1. Natalie*

        I spent a couple of months in Dublin during college, and it was bonkers how much weight I lost just from walking everywhere. And walking fast – Dubliners do not dawdle.

      2. Mister Pickle*

        Delta gave you a hotel room? I’m jealous!

        (j/k!)(I got stuck in Atlanta on the tail end of that big icestorm awhile back – the place felt like a refugee camp).

        1. Elizabeth West*

          If they hadn’t, I would have paid for my own.

          I wonder what would happen if you were traveling for work and that happened. Would your company reimburse you if you had to stay another night and/or find another hotel? I guess it would depend on the company, but I wouldn’t have liked to have to make that call. It was bad enough telling AwesomeBoss I wasn’t coming in in the morning.

          1. Mister Pickle*

            Actually, in the instance I mentioned, I was traveling on business (going home). My company’s policy is that they would indeed have paid for a hotel room (and I would have gladly taken them up on it!), but long story short: after a series of delayed and canceled flights, it was 2:30am and I had a ticket for a 7am flight out. It just didn’t seem worth the effort.

            (Also, insofar as there’s a silver lining, where I work, overcoming adversity during business travel is good for one’s reputation).

    6. Red*

      My large, non-profit academic institution announced that they’ve convened a committee (of faculty) to look at means of reducing our budget deficit from the last fiscal year. Looks like most of what they’ll be looking at is reducing admin. Is it wrong that I’m hoping that I’ll get a nice offer to escort me out the door?

      On the plus side, we received our third partial request for one of the recent queries we sent out to literary agents, and I got our website back up over the long weekend.

  11. Name*

    It might not happen (wishful thinking?) but it looks like my public-facing co-workers and I will be told to wear a plastic mustache in the name of “fun” at some point. Since I’m new I won’t protest it but I need somewhere to complain about being told to wear a gender-identifier of the opposite sex. Would they ask men to wear a hair bow or lipstick? :I

    1. Ash (the other one)*

      Hmm. I don’t see toy mustaches as a gender identifier… most men don’t wear toy mustaches either. They are pretty distinguishable from real facial hair. And women often wear them for laughs in goofy pictures or what not. But if you don’t want to participate, don’t… they shouldn’t make you do something you’re not comfortable with.

        1. Jazzy Red*

          ~> Snicker!>~ So true!

          OP, why can’t you just go with it? It’s not a big deal, unless you decide to make it one.

          Frankly, I think everyone should wear a fake mustache, groucho glasses, or a clown nose every now and then, lest we take ourselves too seriously.

    2. Robin*

      Dear all companies,

      Please stop making your employees wear humiliating things (like words on their butts, or mustaches, or whatever other crazy stuff you can think of) in the name of appealing to your customers. Your sane customers will think you’re stupid, and your employees will hate you.



      1. Seal*

        At first glance I thought you wrote “like words or mustaches on their butts” which made me giggle like a school girl. I wouldn’t want to work for someone who made me wear either of these things on my butt, either.

      2. Puddin*

        I think if these things occur organically from the customer or employees AND they are optional, then sure go for it. But this strikes me as mandatory fun. I will have none of it, thank you kindly. ;0)

    3. lifes a beach*

      Well, for women, once you get to a “certain” age, a moustache is no longer gender specific! I speak from experience!! LOL!!!

      1. Karowen*

        Or if you’re certain nationalities. Teenage me (through current me) can speak from experience on that one!

    4. Poohbear McGriddles*

      I don’t think I’ve ever seen a toy mustache, unless it was attached to a fake nose and glasses. Is this some sort of “Mo-vember” thing? If so, to me that would be like asking the guys to wear pink bras during October. I doubt you’d find many men interested in that. Okay, probably more than you’d like to think. Still, while I’m all for cancer awareness, this doesn’t sound like something your company should be forcing – or “strongly encouraging” – y’all to do.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        I have seen plastic moustaches in Christmas crackers before. They have 2 little prongs of plastic which attach to your nostrils.

    5. Anx*

      I wouldn’t like this, either.

      As a mammal, I do have hair. As a woman in America, I tend to feel very self-conscious about it at times. I have a blonde mustache and beard, ‘peach fuzz.’ Most days I don’t notice it, but under the right light it’s visible.

      Something about wearing a mustache, even a fake one, would make me uncomfortable. Like, ‘haha, imagine how funny a mustache would be on her.’

    6. C Average*

      What’s up with the glut of inane, juvenile initiatives with no identifiable business purpose in the workplace? I swear I am not the Grinch, but it’s getting to the point where I want to get in the brace position every time someone tells me we’re going to do something “fun” at work.

  12. Perpetua*

    Sharing happy news – I’ve gotten my first raise! I actually skipped on my way back to my office! :D

    A 17% raise after only 3 months in my role – I feel very fortunate to be doing something I enjoy AND being very happy with the money and the overall conditions!

    Also, I approached my bosses simply wanting to get some additional feedback, see how I am doing so far, do they want me to do some things differently, etc., just like AAM always suggests, the raise was a welcome surprise. :)

  13. The IT Manager*

    I mentioned several weeks back that I was “conducting an experiement. ” I purchased a cheap (but seemingly accurate) digital thermometer and have been watching the temps as my cubical neighbor and I felt cold throughout the day. I discovered that the tempertures really do hover between 71 and 72 degrees most of the time (and rarely drop below 70 ever), and it is not signifigantly colder when I start to feel cold, and throw on a sweater or when I am really cold a fleece zip up.

    I can’t say it is all in my head, but I can’t blame the office for being crazy cold like I believed it must have been before I got the thermometer. Now I just put on sweaters without complaint and blame sitting all day long. I look forward to colder weather where I can wear long sleeve shirts and sweaters without working up a sweat on the 2 block walk from the parking garage to the office.

    1. Elizabeth*

      When you’re feeling cooler, is there a breeze from the HVAC blowing on you? We’ve noticed that that makes nearly as much difference as the actual temperature.

      1. The IT Manager*

        There’s no obvious breeze. I agree with Judy that it can be worse after lunch especially if it was accomapnied by a cold drink; although, I prefer my drinks without ice.

        1. Cath in Canada*

          You get colder after eating because your digestive system pulls more blood into the core of your body to help digest and absorb the food. This means there’s less blood circulating outside the core, so less warmth getting to your extremities.

    2. Sadsack*

      Our buildings always have air blowing, or circulating as the maintenance guys say, but the room temperature will read 70 degrees. It will be 70 degrees whether the air is circulating or not, but it definitely feels colder when it is circulating.

    3. Madtown Maven*

      Are you in a position/office where you could just put something on your neck when you’re cold? Just a wearing a scarf can make a huge difference in how your body regulates temperature. I sit under a vent (on which I’ve installed an air deflector), and when I get cold, I throw on a light scarf and feel much better.

      1. Nanc*

        Thumbs up to scarves! I have quite the collection now and my blue-collar grease-monkey brother is surprisingly adept at picking out great colors and patterns as birthday gifts. I even keep a couple in my desk drawer for those summer days when the AC never shuts off.

      2. The IT Manager*

        Hmmm … honestly I have been eyeing the scarves at Target. Maybe your post will inspire me to buy one and give it try.

        I am mostly just unsure of how to wear accessories.

        1. Lauren*

          I’m glad its not just me. Scarves, hats, weirdly long necklaces or hair stuff thats not just a grip of a hair tie confuse me greatly.

      3. Natalie*

        Scarves are great. I’ve also switched from pumps to short boots as I noticed my feet get cold. No exposed skin with short boots, plus I can wear warmer or cooler socks as the season demands.

    4. Judy*

      I’m nearly always cold after lunch, and I attribute that to blood flow to the stomach. I usually get up and go for a short walk, then put on my sweater. I did have an office once that would get down to 62. I was wearing fingerless gloves and scarves there.

    5. Chuchundra*

      I my old control room, I used to say that it’s not the temperature, it’s the wind chill factor. There was a strong breeze blowing in from the vents and traveling from one room to the next. Just looking at the air temperature didn’t give a real picture of the environment.

      And sometimes you just feel colder/hotter during different parts of the day. When I work the overnights I often feel cold around two or three in the morning even though the temperature remains the same.

      Your body has a natural, daily cycle. That’s not the same as it being “in your head”

    6. AndersonDarling*

      We ran a similar experiment and found the thermometer did not change. Then we added a gauge to check the humidity. We discovered that air was so dry that it felt much colder. We started humidifying the air and the temperature balanced out throughout the day.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Clever observation.

        I noticed at home that my chairs were cold and it made me cold. Well, I do not have cushions or pillows on them. (Furniture seems to retain coolness longer.) I started with a cushion on the seat and that helped some. Then I put a pillow on the back and that clinched it. I do feel warmer.

    7. INTP*

      Does it correlate to your activity levels at all? I’m convinced that my body produces no heat when I’m entirely sedentary. I wind up needing gloves and a coat in lecture halls and offices in many offices though I doubt the temps ever get below 67 or so (whereas if I go for a walk in a long-sleeve t-shirt in that temp, I overheat). Getting up and walking around more often before you get cold may help.

      1. The IT Manager*

        I am entirely sedentary at my job. I work virtually with a team so all day in front of a computer IMing, emailing, telecoms, etc. I do try to stand up and move a bit and that can help – especially a walk around the block because the temps are still in the 70s.

  14. NK*

    My coworker seriously dropped the ball on some work he was responsible for, and we found out about it yesterday at 3pm when it needed to be done by last night. He was assigned this work a month ago. My boss ended up reassigning it to me, causing me to stay at the office until 10:30pm and doing passable work, but not something I’m proud of. My boss was fine with the quality of work because he understood the situation, but I am seriously pissed at my coworker. I actually had a lot of bandwidth earlier in the week and easily could have taken this on if I knew about it earlier. This is far from the first time this kind of thing has happened with him. Another coworker told him he should be buying me lunch (in front of me), and he made all these excuses about how he was working off an old assignment sheet and didn’t realize he was assigned this task. Never sincerely apologized. The question is, do I say anything to our boss (and if so, what)? Obviously he is aware of the situation, but I don’t know if I should say anything else. We’re all aware that this coworker sucks, but this is the first time it’s affected me in such a big way.

    1. Wilton Businessman*

      It doesn’t hurt to talk to your boss, but he already knows. The question is why does he allow it to happen?

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        Right, I think this is the boss’ issue to handle. NK, if you feel like the boss isn’t protecting you adequately from circumstances like these, you can talk to them, but they’re probably not going to change, and you might want to either resign yourself to occasionally earning gold stars at the expense of your sanity or finding another employer.

        But then, it could just be that this is the first time that that employee dropped the ball, and the boss had to let them do so one time before closely monitoring them on the level of, say, a new intern. Since you picked up the slack, it would be nice if the boss let you know more details, but you shouldn’t feel entitled to too much information on their process, especially if it involves possible personnel actions against another employee.

      2. KellyK*

        Absolutely. If you have a good relationship with your boss, that’s how you can bring it up to him. Not in an accusatory way but a “What can we do to prevent this in the future?” And if his plan for the future is that you just pitch in at the last minute, then at least you know to run far, far away.

        1. Puddin*

          And mention that you are not especially proud of the work quality and had you known he needed help earlier, you could have fit this into your schedule without compromising your other tasks.

          Maybe Boss knew all along and did not want to bother you while he held out hope against hope that your co-worker would pull through.

          I also think that it would be fair for you to firmly but with the utmost profession remind Co-worker that, ‘We all are responsible for knowing what is on the most recent assignment sheet. When you drop the ball you impose on the team. Let me know if you need help in the future.’

    2. Trixie*

      Does your boss ask for regular updates, maybe in weekly meetings? There’s no reason he should not have known this guy dropped the ball. Unless the coworker BS-ing about making progress in which case this should be a serious mark on his record.

      1. NK*

        No, we don’t have that kind of structure. My boss is great in many ways and I like him and my job a lot, most of the time. But I was pretty frustrated that no one even knew this work wasn’t getting done. Neither my boss, the other manager involved, nor the project coordinator realized that this was not on his radar. It’s frustrating for the rest of us on the team because we feel like there aren’t any consequences for him, but my boss is discreet enough that I suspect there are consequences behind the scenes. At the very least, he has basically no chance of career growth, and I know he feels like he deserves a promotion (he is clearly in lala land on that one – he is the lowest performer on our fairly large team).

    3. Elkay*

      Do you have regular meetings with your boss? That would be the best time to bring it up. That way you can make it part of “what happened this month” not “must discuss this now”. Otherwise I’d let it go, there’s not a lot that can be done, unless there is going to be more work to be done on the same piece of work in which case you can ask your boss who’s going to take responsibility for it and raise your concerns.

      This will probably be burnt into your memory but it’s worth making a note of exactly what happened in an email to yourself so when review time comes round you can speak to your boss about it then.

      You have my sympathy, the closest I got to flipping out at my previous job was when something similar happened to me (and that place was a whole heap of crazy pants). Mine was me saying “If you want me to do this tell me know because I will not have time to do it later”, I asked several times and got nothing until “later” arrived and I very firmly told them I would not be doing it because I did not have time, as I had told them three months ago. Admittedly I was working my notice at that point so I was little more open than I might have been!

    4. HAnon*

      I feel your pain. A team member of mine is supposed to be managing all of our projects, but is not really cut out for the role…leaving me trying to put out fires everywhere over the past 48 hours while my boss is on vacation. Fun friday! But my boss is aware of the situation, so we’ll see what happens… :p Coworker is also not here today, so I’m having to dig through old emails and etc to try to understand WTH is going on with all these projects.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        I am having a drowning headless chicken moment at work. What doesn’t help is the assumption that all the extra work can be pulled in, when it can’t.

    5. LiteralGirl*

      Why did your boss reassign it to you rather than telling your coworker to get it done? He should have been the one staying until 10:30 last night finishing it. I don’t get the logic.

      1. NK*

        Because he had other stuff that was also urgent to get done. He did leave before me which I was pretty peeved about, but only by 15 minutes or so.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      NK, sometimes in these situations you can earn major, major points with the boss. Don’t blow it by steaming at your coworker. Realize that his failure could be a serious gain for you.

      Remain the calm, cool, collected you. Go to the boss and say “I don’t mind helping out where possible. But our tardiness on X could potentially hurt us. I was wondering what we are going to do going forward to prevent another occurrence. I don’t feel right about not handing over my best effort. [Or fill in with some things similar that is important to you but has nothing to do with coworker.]”
      Approach it from the angle that you are concerned for the group and your work as a department. Big picture focus. If you focus on your need to choke this person it will detract from all the good you just did. It’s tough, I know.

      IF, notice am saying IF, later you find out that the boss has blown you off then move to plan b where you have a conversation about how the worker is impacting you. Take the high road first. See if you have gained a new level of respect or whatever from the boss first.

  15. Elizabeth*

    I’m squeeing inside. I signed paperwork this week for my first raise in 5 years, which amounts to about a 40% increase. And, my job description changed, so that I’m going to be supervising 7 other people (which hasn’t been announced yet). It is effective on next Monday!

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Congrats. I hope you take part of your new raise next pay period and get yourself a treat!

    2. StudentA*

      Wow! Way to go!

      Think now about what you want to do with the extra money. Maybe have your employer do direct deposit some of the extra cash into your savings. Just a tip, ’cause this type of thing doesn’t happen every day!

  16. Retail drone*

    I currently work in a large department store. I just transferred departments and most of the time I’m only working with another employee who was been there 10+ years. He’s a peer in the organizational structure however he keeps dictating what tasks I should do. These are basic upkeep tasks that we both have to do but he keeps trying to delegate them to me such as him telling me, “Can you go fold those shirts over there.” That is task for anybody working the department, not for him to tell me to do it while he rings out customers.

    I’m pretty sure this is because of his seniority and he did have to do a little training with me but he is in no way, shape, or form a superior to me. What is the polite AAM way of saying, “You are not my manager and stop telling me what to do.”

    1. Artemesia*

      I’d probably pick another task and say ‘you might want to go ahead and do those shirts because is am going to be straighten up the sock display.’ And then a little later say ‘I noticed the sweaters are out of order again, could you straighten those while I check the fitting rooms to see if there are things we need to put away.’ If nothing else it will confuse him and make you feel better.

    2. Judy*

      I would think (from my haven’t worked retail except GS cookie sales in many, many years experience) that the two of you should work out a rotation. First half of the hour, you do the register and as many close to the register tasks as can be done and he does the outlying tasks. From X:30 to Y:00, you do the outlying tasks and he does the register and the close in tasks. It allows both of you time to do all the tasks, and moves you around a bit.

      I would hope the two of you could come to an agreement on how to work as a team. But I know it’s not a perfect world.

    3. The Cosmic Avenger*

      The advice given so far is good, but if you have a supervisor who you feel you can turn to, you can ask them if Wakeen is supposed to be assigning you tasks due to seniority, or if you’re supposed to work out the distribution between the two of you. That’s the polite, non-tattling way of asking them to clear this up for you. :) A smart supervisor will figure out what is going on based on that question.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        It could be that he is supposed to be doing that and no one knows it. I have seen managers forget to mention that type of stuff.

    4. Elsajeni*

      In your previous department, how would you and your peers have worked out the distribution of that kind of work? Because in my retail experience, the way your new coworker is doing it would have been pretty normal — if there was a manager around, we might wait for them to tell us what to do, but otherwise, it would be completely normal for one of us to say “Hey Sarah, can you fold those shirts while I take care of these go-backs?” or whatever. Basically, I guess what I’m thinking is, it’s certainly possible that he’s doing this in an obnoxious and bossy way, but it’s also possible that it’s just the way things are done in this department and it’s different from what you’re used to. A couple tests that might help tell which: Can you imagine him saying “Can you go fold those shirts?” in a way that wouldn’t bother you, or would you find it annoying regardless? Do you feel like he would find it acceptable for you to tell him to go fold the shirts, if you were busy with something else and noticed it needed doing?

      1. Retail drone*

        First, thank you everybody for your suggestions.

        I can imagine ways it would be less annoying and I can imagine a time where it might be acceptable to ask him to do something. If he was busy with something and another matter needed immediate attention I would be ok with it. But it’s just him sitting around pretending to be my manager when he’s not. The problem is I moved to a much smaller department where it’s just him and me most of the time so I think he feels like defacto manager since he has been there about a decade and I have been at the store for 8 months and only in this department a couple weeks. In my old department there were a lot of us and always a clear manager to delegate.

      2. StudentA*

        I agree with Elsajeni.

        Another point: If he is a retail veteran, and he is that good at his job, you can take his bossiness with a grain of salt and really soak up all you can learn from him. Even if you don’t want to stay in retail, you can learn a lot from this type of person in regards to sales, business, customer service, productivity, merchandise presentation, etc. The best way to soak up this knowledge would be treating him as a quasi-mentor, which demonstrates you value his experience. Maybe he will back off a bit.

        Now, if you feel he is exploiting you, that is a different story. If he is disrespectful and arrogant, wait until the right time and ask if he would agree to using a different tone with you. If he gives you a hard time about it, go to your boss.

        1. Retail drone*

          He’s not really mentor material. He’s been there for so long because he’s a warm body who can show up on time and doesn’t steal from the store. Definitely not because of his expertise. He’s slow as molasses at doing anything and calls all women sweetie.

    5. Janis*

      Is he Captain Peacock? It sounds like he isn’t. I might put up with it for a little while, but that would chafe after a while. I think in time his little “Peacockisms” will become easier to ignore — like the upcoming Christmas season.

  17. Pontoon Pirate*

    Feelin’ overwhelmed, y’all. My boss is preparing to go on FMLA next week, and I’ve been tapped to be the “point person” in the department in the interim, meaning I will cover a variety of projects that she would normally own. Yet, my old position (I was also promoted to a new position that I’m not really ramped-up in yet) is not yet filled and I have my own job (now with its own expanded job description!) to cover. I know I’m not really doing the work of three positions, but it sure feels like it a lot of the time. I’m happy for the most part, but this week has just taken it out of me. Would be grateful for good juju today. :)

    1. Red*

      Best of luck to you, that sounds like a great deal of work to juggle at a very inopportune time. If things turn out well, though, it’ll look very good for you!

    1. fposte*

      If it has a link, any word that’s been associated with spam, or any mysterious combination that rouses the filter gods.

      1. Stephanie*

        The emails from a volunteer coordinator would always end up in my spam folders. Her name was Liliana, so I think Gmail learned to associate her name with spam male enhancement emails (as those emails often come from Lilianas, Adrianas, etc).

    2. Kelly L.*

      I’ve got one in moderation right now for an F-bomb, I think. Sometimes also if there’s a hyperlink.

    3. soitgoes*

      Mine get moderated when I link to shopping sites (for when people ask for comfy work attire or good coffee supplies, for example).

    4. Nervous Accountant*

      my comments are always under moderation, even though I never post links. Foul language? Idk.

      1. Nervous Accountant*

        even though I don’t recall using harsh foul language in any of my posts. Is it my username? It’s never happened with any other username I’ve used before this one.

          1. Natalie*

            Maybe something about the email address? Perhaps there is a spam-triggering word hidden in it, or it’s flagged somehow?

            1. Sara*

              I’ve taken out my email and still happens. I’ve only started using this username recently, I used several others beforehand, and don’t recall it happening.

                1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  I just figured out why. I had “vous” on the list of words that would trigger the spam filter because a while back there was an influx of French spam that all contained it. I was looking at your IP address as the trigger and it wasn’t that — it was “nerVOUS” in your user name. I’ve removed “vous” from the list now since the French spam has subsided, so feel free to go back to using it if you’d like.

  18. Future Analyst*

    Any ideas for how to address being unemployed for 10 months (to be home with my son) without confirming that I have a kid? I used to work in the legal field, and am trying to transition to a more technical field. I’ve been working on a certificate in database administration, and have been pointing to that as what I’ve been doing in the meantime. But in interviews, I’m not sure how to address the question of why I left/what I’ve been doing. Also, any ideas for how to stress that I’m technically inclined, even though I worked in law and have a degree in English?

    1. fposte*

      What’s the reason you’re so determined to avoid mentioning you have a kid? I think it would be weirder to try to pretend you don’t, and a kid is one of the best justifications for 10 months off that you’re going to find.

      1. Diet Coke Addict*


        Even if you don’t mention it in the interview, wouldn’t it come up eventually, like in your benefits paperwork, or conversation?

      2. Future Analyst*

        Not really that I want to avoid mentioning it altogether, just want to avoid the stigma attached to being a mom. I think staying home with my son would signal to certain people that I’m not committed to my work, when in reality, I was looking to change fields anyway, and don’t foresee a lot of conflict between my work and family (my husband has a very flexible work arrangement, and could easily attend to any issues that arise).

        1. fposte*

          I’d suggest owning it rather than ducking it. Just be matter-of-fact. I think most industries are pretty used to people taking time off after they have a kid (10 months isn’t a lot), whereas a mysterious 10-month absence for no explicable reason is an eyebrow-raiser.

        2. Lily in NYC*

          You could always say it was a “caregiving situation” – people will automatically assume it was for an elderly relative but it’s not a lie at all – you were giving care to your kid.

        3. Cleopatra Jones*

          I get what Future Analyst is trying to say…technical fields can be hard for women.
          Sometimes, it seems like the people in IT/technology try to disqualify your knowledge because ‘you’re a girl’ (that’s the tone, I hear when it’s happened to me) and you couldn’t possibly know anything about technology, math, or computers.

          Just own your choice, matter of factly and move on. You can always tell them that your decision to change careers coincided with having your child. You decided that it was the perfect time to focus on getting additional technical skills and staying at home with your child.

      3. Student*

        Statistically, she has a better chance of getting a job if they don’t know she’s married or have kids. She also has a better chance at a higher salary if they don’t notice she’s a mother. Once she’s in the door, it’s unlikely they’ll retroactively reduce her salary when they find out she has kids.

        There have been lots of studies, and mothers get a harsh employment penalty for having kids, whereas fathers get a bonus. Keep it out of the spotlight if you can. Just be careful not to step into lying territory.

        If there is a valid secondary reason for your absence beyond your son, go with that explanation. Maybe your son was the driving factor, but there were factors two and three that kept you out longer than you would’ve been otherwise. If your son is the only reason, then you’re pretty stuck with that and you have to hope people don’t ask. You can try to deflect by not answering the exact question – someone asks why you were out so long, and you talk for a bit about how hard you searched to find this great job opportunity instead of why you left your last job, but that can backfire.

    2. Anjum*

      you could just say you paused your work in order to “attend to a personal family matter” which could mean anything – taking care of an elder, for example.

      given your username i assume you want to not mention having a child so they don’t consciously or subconsciously question your willingness and ability to work long hours and “do the job.” some may not agree with the approach but i know that biases can be very real even if subconscious – you do what you need to do. apologies if i’m totally off base, too!

    3. Robin*

      1. Taking care of a family member could cover it, or dealing with a family issue that has been resolved.

      2. Do you have any volunteer work / hobbies, etc. that highlight your technical inclinations? Were there technical aspects to your previous work that aren’t obvious in your job title, but can be explained in your resume or cover letter? Do you have a good explanation worked out that lays out your own transition in interests?

    4. KellyK*

      As far as the second part of that, are there techy things you’ve done that you can add to your resume, even if they aren’t work experience? Volunteering or anything? If you haven’t, maybe start?

    5. Kate*

      What? You should be proud of your child! Do you really want to work somewhere where they don’t accept working mothers? You might get a job earlier, but you wouldn’t feel good in a place like that, I bet.

    6. Jillociraptor*

      Hmm. I understand (and H-A-T-E) the impulse and need to downplay parental responsibilities. But also you’re still gonna have a kid when you get the job, right? So it might be helpful and illuminating to see how they deal with it now, so you don’t hit a snag 6 months from now when you need flexibility to care for your kiddo.

  19. Calla*

    I’ve been refreshing for this!

    So, I have started the process to get a reduction on my chest (phrasing this way so I don’t get caught in moderation). Right now I have really good healthcare and PTO so I figure now’s the time! It’s not scheduled yet–I have the first consultation December 5. But, I’m already thinking about how to handle it at work. I know I will likely need 2 weeks off, which I have, and am hoping I can schedule it around Christmas or early January, when people are taking vacation anyway. I also know the clothing transition trick–wear clothes that de-emphasize my chest the few weeks before the surgery, change something else before I come back, etc. so the change is not as noticeable (I’ll be going from DD+ to a B/C hopefully).

    Anyone else done this and have any tips? How long did you take off? Did you work from home for any of it (I can do that in my job)? How did you manage reactions? Anything else I can expect that I’m not thinking of? I’m an admin, so it’s a desk job, in a casual office environment.

    1. Ash (the other one)*

      I haven’t had this done, but do you really care if someone notices? I would just react that 1) they shouldn’t be looking at my chest, and 2) I had a chest reduction. End of story. The point of it is to be confident in yourself rather than for other people, right? So I wouldn’t spend too much time or energy on this.

        1. Calla*

          Yeah, there are certain coworkers I would probably be okay with telling, but for the most part, I do not want people to notice what happened. From what I’ve heard, it usually goes unremarked on, but that doesn’t mean I want to disregard any tricks that take attention away from it.

      1. CoffeeLover*

        Different people are comfortable with different things. Personally, I’d be totally fine telling people I got a chest reduction. It’s a surgery that’s done purely for health reasons, and I don’t find that embarrassing. I find very few things embarrassing though and if people have the nerve to ask me about it, I have the nerve to tell them about it ;).

    2. ella*

      I don’t have any advice for this, but good luck and congratulations! I have a few friends who’ve gone through it and they’re all much happier and more comfortable now.

      1. Calla*

        It seems to have one of the highest satisfaction rights! I’m excited, despite being terrified of surgery.

    3. straws*

      I have a coworker who went through the same thing. She was my employee at the time and we’re both female, so she was comfortable telling me what was going on. I think a few other employees knew what it was for, but the company-wide reason she was out was just for surgery. She was out for about a week, with a little part time work. The main issue had to do with needing to wear very support undergarments that could rub a big, so occasionally she did work from home after returning just for the comfort level. Her size change was similar to yours, but I honestly don’t know that anyone noticed the difference. She never mentioned any uncomfortable conversations or questions to me, at least. Good luck!

      1. Calla*

        Thanks! Yes, I didn’t realize until I started doing more research recently that you have to wear the specialty/support bra for a while, which does seem like something I should consider with clothes/comfort.

        1. Lily in NYC*

          My best friend did it and very few people noticed (or if they did, they didn’t say anything). Never understimate how unobservant people are, myself included. My coworker who I am friends with and have sat next to for 8 years shaved his long-term beard and I didn’t notice.

      2. AvonLady Barksdale*

        Exactly this. A good friend of mine had been wanting to do this for years, had the surgery scheduled, doctor flaked, took her almost two years to find someone else. You’re just out for surgery, and if people ask if it’s serious, just smile and say “No, just necessary” or similar. You don’t have to give details. For all they know, you’re getting a bunion removed. My friend went from something like a G to a C, but honestly, very few people noticed unless they’d been specifically told. Congratulations (it’s a big step!) and good luck!

    4. Natalie*

      I’ve never done it, but a friend in high school did and FWIW you really couldn’t tell. I believe she went from an H to a D. I was kind of vaguely aware that she looked different but I couldn’t figure out exactly why and I didn’t spend a ton of time thinking about it. If people she didn’t know well asked, she just said she lost some weight.

      I’ve made fairly obvious changes to my face and head area (2 piercings, cut off all my hair twice, got glasses at 26, routinely switch between glass and contacts) and lots of people just don’t notice. Including my parents! Sometimes I’ll mention the change casually and I’ll get a sudden “that’s what it is! I couldn’t figure out what was different about you.”

      1. Not So NewReader*

        A relative had a double mastectomy. Even though she lost quite a bit, you really could not figure out why she looked different. So Natalie is correct. You could probably say that you had surgery and lost weight because of the surgery and most people would buy that.

        One factor that you may not be thinking about or maybe you are. Because my relative felt better about herself she carried herself differently. I think that her new found confidence was a further distraction from the physical changes she went through. People were more involved in how “You look great” than actually figuring out why.

    5. lifes a beach*

      I am not sure you need to explain anything, unless it drastically changes your appearence, or you normally wear figure hugging clothes. People probably will not even notice and if they do I hope they would not be rude enough to ask you about it point blank.

      on the otherhand, At my job there was a time, where several of the younger women took time off (not at the same time, but it seemed like it was the thing to do for about a year), and came back with obvious “enhancements”. They did not have to explain anything.

    6. Gwen Soul*

      Congrats! My mom had this done a few years ago and it was the best thing ever for her. Just one comment, 2 weeks is REALLY optimistic to going back full time. She took a good 6 weeks to really feel recovered and 3 moths to be back 100%. She was in her 50’s so if you are younger you might bounce back faster, but have a plan to ease in if you need it. She was at a desk job and it still wasn’t pretty. It is really major surgery.

      Also get loose shirts and sports bras to start with, ones that zip up the front so you don’t have to reach around much. Wait until you are a few weeks out to buy any clothes as there will be swelling and shifting for a while.

      1. Calla*

        Thanks!! Time off is something I’ll definitely discuss with the surgeon and have realistic plans for after that, but I’ve seen women my age go back after 2 weeks or so so that’s about what I’m hoping for (especially with my schedule–on top of work, I also go to school and am planning a wedding, so I can’t spend 3 months at home!).

        1. Puddin*

          You might not be able to all three though. Your doctor should prescribe your time off for however much time you think you need. Better to ask for it and not need it. If you have STD – oh wait, that looks wrong – Short Term Disability insurance use it! Trust me, you do not want to under perform or be perceived as under performing while trying to recuperate because you wanted to ‘do it all’.

          Best wishes, people I have known that had the procedure were all very happy with the results!

          1. Not So NewReader*

            Echoing this one. Granted my relative was older so that gives you an advantage. But do not plan a bunch of other stuff AND this, too, within a narrow time frame. It’s too much.
            There’s lots of not-so-obvious stuff here. Like how long will it be before you can return to driving. Wardrobe is going to need a change over. And there is all that paperwork for the insurance/surgery/etc.

    7. Jam Wheel*

      I had this surgery done abut 15 years ago and it was, without a doubt, one of the best things I ever did. Same size as you and oh – just wait until you can shop in the “pretty” section of the undergarment area, rather than the industrial-grade side!

      I would suggest being aware of any habitual movements you do now that require you to lift your arms above your head – like move your cereal if you keep it on a top shelf, if your winter sweaters are high up, etc.

      I did mine while still in college, but I can’t recall just when I did it. I want to say it was just after the holidays. After the surgery drugs wear off (day or two) you should be just fine to work, but definitely keep it easy on yourself. You will need to change dressings so if you can work from home that would be best, especially if you can work in a prone position on the couch, for the first 3-5 days or so. Do not misjudge how long it can take for anesthesia drugs to get out of your system and recover from surgery – I remember still being tired two weeks later, when I went back to school. I don’t think I fully recovered/was cleared for strenuous exercise until maybe three months later.

      I don’t recall what I did for clothing – but if its winter then sweaters cover up many sins :) I doubt anyone will call out the obvious, and frankly, in my family, we are STILL wondering if my aunt had one done 5+ years ago, because its sort of rude to flat out ask someone.

      I would recommend having some sort of cheap cotton bra in your new size handy, one that you can get stained before buying the cute new stuff. Walmart worked great for that!

      Good luck!

      1. Calla*

        Thanks, this is super helpful!! Re: movement, I’ve talked about this with my fiancee (who is so supportive and excited for me) and she would make sure she’s off work the first few days I’m home so she can help me, and then we’d also make sure I have snacks, etc. within reach!

        I’m glad to hear that my expectation of going back after 2 weeks isn’t too unrealistic. Making sure I take it easy though shouldn’t be a problem.

        And I cannot WAIT to buy small cotton bras!

        1. Janis*

          I, too, need twin I-beam suspension and would love to not lead with my chest, so to speak. Just last month the lady in the office next to me got her chest reduced. She went from about a DD to a B/C. She was out for about 10 days. On her first day back she asked me if anyone was staring at her chest. I answered, “You mean anyone … besides me? Because you look great!” She just laughed. Let us know in a few months how it’s going.

          1. Calla*

            I’m excited to hear of another person who went back after about 2 weeks!

            And I’ll try, if anyone cares enough for me to update :) The next big hurdle after the consultation is finding out if my insurance will cover it!

    8. Ashley*

      Adding to the chorus of “no one will notice”. One of my coworkers had a reduction done a couple years ago – she was out for surgery, came back, I think worked PT for a week or so? – and I had seriously NO clue, and I normally pride myself on being really observant – I noticed when anyone gets a haircut or loses weight, and I didn’t notice at all. When she told me I was surprised!

      And, in the reverse – one of my best friends got implants and was worried about coworker’s reactions – the only comment she got was from the cleaning lady who told her that “her hair looks different – shinier”. We joke that her surgeon must have given her a deep conditioning treatment when she was out :)

    9. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

      Best decision I ever made.

      The only negative: I was not prepared for the recovery time. Mine was 25 years ago and I’ve no idea how things have advanced in that time, but I needed someone with me and to wait on me for several days. I was single and living alone at the time but had *fortunately* arranged for friends to pick me up and let me stay the night. I stayed a week.

      After the first week, I got much better and in a few weeks was right as rain.

      The bra shopping, omg, how wonderful was that. You will be so very very happy!

      Re work, most people won’t notice. They will think you’ve lost weight.

      Just plan enough time off and don’t push your recovery!

      1. Calla*

        Yes, I’ve been reading blogs at a website called RealSelf and watching youtube videos of women who have had it done (but not too many go into returning to work), and having someone there to care for you the first few days was definitely a theme! That’s definitely part of my planning.

        Thanks!! It’s been really encouraging how many people say they have done it or know someone who did and it was the best decision of their life.

    10. azvlr*

      Truly the best thing I ever did for myself! I did it during the summer when I wasn’t teaching so by the time school started again, I was back to about 80% function. It was tricking putting up decorations on high walls for the start of school.
      People thought I lost weight, because I did. Once I had the surgery (the doctor liposuctioned my sides under the pits) I continued to lose weight for about a year afterwards. I don’t know if this will be your experience, too. I just know that it was a life-changer for me in so many ways. I felt more confident in clothes and it really changed how people interacted with me, and thus how I saw myself.
      I was out of commission, for two solid weeks. I couldn’t drive during that time because I needed to take meds for pain. Don’t make the mistake of letting your pain meds wear off before you take them again, especially at first. Stay on schedule with them. You will heal better that way. Best of luck!

    11. Hlyssande*

      I had one in 2008 and while my surgeon was terrible, I can’t recommend it enough as far as back problems and clothing fit issues go. Just make sure you do your homework with your surgeon! Ask to see their portfolio and ask about their failure rate of anything. Most especially, ask how they determine cup size. I got hit hard on that – asked to be a D cup (and he only asked me the day OF the surgery), and I barely fill out a B most days, because that doc went strictly on measurement to nipple from collarbone and nothing else. He blamed it on bra manufacturers (among other things he failed at). Like I said, the surgeon I had was terrible – I got suckered in when he was positive he could get my insurance to pay – which he did, and didn’t ask questions I wish I had.

      Protip: If you do end up with some complications and blood pooling and they do the needle thing to allow some of it to release, instead of going with expensive gauze pads that you have to change frequently, go ahead and stick an unscented maxi pad to your bra. Seriously. Saved me a lot of money.

      I was out for two weeks total, I think.

      Good luck! I hope you have a fantastic outcome!

  20. Sandrine (France)*

    Update to the Nelly/Perry thing of last week:

    So as I told you, Nelly only had a verbal warning. Perry had his pre-termination meeting yesterday and while he certainly is to blame, the boss was rather… weird.

    So Nelly asks Perry about how it went down, and Perry is pissed because he thinks someone ratted him out (for example, he’s the one who showed Nelly how to cheat the system) . He strongly implies he thinks Nelly did it, and she says she only gave his name when chatting with coworkers who were also in trouble, but she didn’t say it to any bosses (even in her apology e-mail she didn’t name him) . Perry said the boss told him a female coworker wasn’t shy about mentioning him (yay bosses, way to foster a good morale and start rumors between workers, woot woot) .

    I got this from text screencaps from Nelly, but when I talked to Perry myself later in the day, while he doesn’t seem to realize how dire his actions were, he does grasp the “actions have consequences” things and did mention that he wasn’t shy about telling them exactly why anyone would use the “tricks” (work conditions getting worse, and so on) and of course, they didn’t like it.

    So that’s about it for now. Oh, and of COURSE the powers that be decided that sending an e-mail about the trick that started it all in the first place was good…. on Monday or Tuesday maybe. As in, you have done all your dirty work scaring people and NOW you tell them not to use this.

    Ha. Good riddance for me, really :) .

  21. Trixie*

    Did anyone catch this story on NPR this week? “Can Changing How You Sound Help You Find Your Voice?” You can also read it online. Discusses how gender bias in how Americans perceive feminine voices: as insecure, less competent and less trustworthy. Voice coach interviews is fascinating, and enlightening.

    1. Tinker*

      Heh. I joke about how if I just transitioned already, it’d probably benefit my career. Except, it’s not actually a joke >_>

      1. Anonsie*

        I joke that the only reason I haven’t is because the life of an extremely short man is probably not a whole lot better than the life of a very short woman, but I am also not really joking.

    2. chewbecca*

      I think I’m fairly similar to the lawyer they talked to in that I’m short and have a fairly high-pitched voice. I’m also very young-looking. I do feel like sometimes it affects how seriously people take me.

      I have found recently that I can speak in a slightly lower register that seems less Peppy 13 Year Old, which helps in in-person interactions. Sadly, I still tend to use my default voice when answering the phones at work, because I struggle with sounding friendly otherwise.

      I agree with the up-talk issue. Rightly or wrongly, I tend to question the authority of people who use up-talk. It sounds like they’re not sure about what they’re talking about.

      1. Red*

        I’m short, high-pitched, and look younger than my age. People I work with over email tend to take me more seriously than those I work with over the phone or in person–it can be a little frustrating, sometimes. I find myself using up-talk on the phone in particular, especially when handling an aggressive caller, to try to ameliorate some of that phone-rage.

    3. Anonsie*

      Oh thank you for reminding me, that seriously made me want to find an SLP who does that kind of work and try it out for myself. I’m very small and I get a big kick out of having a mismatchedly deep voice (which I have intentionally cultivated) now all I need are the speech patterns to really throw people off.

      I get why this bothered some people. It bothered me at first, too, before I’d gone through the whole story. The idea that being professional means being less female, and that the burden of responsibility is on us to achieve that, is easily objectionable. But there’s a middle ground for me at least, and I suppose for this woman, where using subtle influencers like that to reinforce your authority doesn’t feel like a compromise at all. And it’s not in any way to please people who don’t deserve it– I feel like it’s more a way of momentarily tricking them into forgetting their biases. I’m happy to try to sound more authoritative as they’ll hear it. I’ll laugh all the way to the bank.

    4. Puddin*

      I did see the article and vacillated between disgust at the ‘high voice’ dissenters and her eagerness to change and understanding that it just might not be related to a sexism issue but really an issue of being audible i.e. heard and understood.

      Long story short, I would not have made the same decision the lawyer did. I might have taken elocution or even some theater classes but changing the pitch of my voice is too far in my book.

      This piece also reinforces just how ingrained the (straight white) male perspective is as the dominant cultural driver in the US.

  22. Nervous Accountant*

    I hope I’m not limited to one topic/conversation :]

    In August I had posted about my boss and new job. Alot of you confirmed my fears that he was an emotionally volatile and verbally abusive person; while I got paid, it was still quite awkward to get my paycheck.

    Since then I actually left the job, went away for a couple of weeks (for other reasons). I had one paycheck due, and it was a chore trying to get it from them, a whole lot of run around …..21 days, 30 emails, escalation to the boss, the “it’s in the mail” routine before I finally got my check and deposited it.

    First thing I did when I came back home was apply for jobs and apply for unemployment.

    I know the general rules on receiving unemployment regarding quitting/how much you earned etc. When I filled out the application online they asked for details on why I quit. I put down the truth about the work environment (angry and volatile, payroll issues, the final paycheck issue) but that I had given my boss a completely different reason (a detailed email stating I was going out of town to attend to personal matters). Unfortunately, aside from the final paycheck issue, I don’t have any written proof of how the work environment was.

    I am a little worried. I know DOL reaches out to former employers. I’m worried as to whether this will have any affect on my future job prospects somehow?
    The (former) boss had described an ex-employee as scum of the earth, scourge on the system, deadbeat etc, bc of a DOL issue..I’ve been in dispute with one employer vs unemployment before (I think I won it?), and it was such a shitty ordeal that I resolved to NOT ever go back on it ever again.
    But….bad luck.

    I know looking at my job history it LOOKS like I’m that kind of person and this is my second claim and may potentially be the second time having problems w an employer, but I’m really not a lazy deadbeat…..

    I guess I’m just a little anxious/worried about this whole thing. Am I overthinking it or right to be worried ???

    1. fposte*

      What’s the mechanism by which you think this could affect your future employment? Were you counting heavily on a reference from the crazy boss and think that contact from UI would make him change his mind? I’m not sure his would have been a reference to count on anyway. Aside from that, UI isn’t really relevant to a job application. Hiring managers have no idea if you received UI or fed yourself by selling your Picasso collection.

      1. Nervous Accountant*

        No it wasn’t the reference.

        Last year I started receiving unemployment and began working PT a month later. When I switched to full time, I stopped claiming. They asked me about my new FT employer, including company name, address, ph # etc. I’m not sure if they contacted my (at the time, present) employer or not, but I guess I’m overthinking it.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Yep. You’re over-thinking it. Call up unemployment and ask why they did that. They probably just needed to record that you found FT work for their pool of statistics that they keep.

    2. Smilingswan*

      You’re over-thinking. Future employers will not know that you received unemployment unless you tell them. You can just tell them you left the job because it was a bad fit, or something of that nature. The only problem you might have is if you need this boss to provide a reference for you. There’s not much you can do about that unless you want to work there forever.

    3. Red*

      I’m glad to hear you got paid! I hope you didn’t help with the payroll (that was you, wasn’t it?). UI won’t affect your future employability, even if you have a conflict, but I don’t know if I would use that guy as a reference were I in your shoes.

      1. Sara aka NV*

        Yes, it was me. And no I didn’t have to do anything, except go after the accountant/escalate it to the owner. Their solution was I have a phone conference or come in inperson and help….had to remind them several times I was overseas and didn’t have access to either.

        1. Red*

          How uncomfortable (and what bad judgment on their part!). I’m glad you’re out of that situation.

    4. Ashley*

      I am the lucky (sarcasm) unemployment person for my company, so I get everything – new claims, audits, etc, etc, etc. Every once in a while (it used to be less common but as UI is being tapped dry it’s becoming more frequent) I’ll get a letter/form from a state’s UI division requesting start dates/wages for a new employee to verify that they appropriately reported their start date to UI – and I fill the form out and forget about it .2 seconds later.

      Don’t worry about it.

      1. Sara aka NV*

        Oooh, glad to se the other side of this! Is that all you have to do? What about in the situation where a claimant reports a hostile environment? Or is that meant to be confidential or something?

  23. karis*

    Hi! So, I work with someone who talks loudly about politics and Obama. Especially now about Ebola. This guy is not here all the time. I really find it annoying and distractive. He doesn’t talk to me about it, but everyone in the office visits him to talk about it. I don’t know what to do. He knows my political views (which are usually opposite of his) and he seems to politicize everythang. I don’t think I can confront him, because like I said he doesn’t speak to me directly. He is just very loud and very opinionated. Any advice?

      1. karis*

        He is the regional something. He is high up there but I am not under him. The thing is he’s been here for years and years and years. I’ve talked to him before about gay bashing but I just don’t know if this would be something I can speak up about. If I should say something what would be most appropriate. He seems to have a temper but has not exploded on me so far. I am guessing because I am a female. Any advice?

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          I think it’s totally reasonable to say something, either to him or someone else. You could talk to your own manager (or even potentially HR, depending on how they work at your company) and frame it as, “It’s distracting and a little unsettling to hear inflammatory political conversations going on so frequently. Can we keep the politics out of work?”

    1. Larisa*

      There is guy in my office who is very religious and it’s very off-putting because I am not, but my managers won’t do anything because he is a top performer, but extending my sympathies because it is an uncomfortable and quite annoying situation.

    2. Anna*

      Every company I’ve worked for has had a policy about discussing politics. Mainly that it can create a hostile work environment and shouldn’t be done. Perhaps you could look at your employee handbook to see if there’s a policy there about political or religious discussions?

      1. karis*

        I looked over the policy and there doesn’t seem to be anything specific about politics or religion. However, I think I could argue that the language he uses is threatening in nature. He seems to get really fired up and loud about it.

    3. Karowen*

      My personal office instituted a politics “swear” jar. Not necessarily something you can do, and it only worked for us because we were all friends in spite of our political differences, but it saved my life last election.

      1. Karowen*

        (And by personal office, I mean the 5 people in my department that share an office. Not like I can close the door and have my own space.)

      2. chewbecca*

        This could work, actually. You could contribute a dollar anytime he goes off, and then after a set amount of time use the money you’ve collected to buy something fun. My fiance and are doing something similar with music to save money for our wedding.

      3. Red*

        That’s kind of a cool idea. And to run off of chewbacca’s, I might tell him in a friendly way that if he doesn’t cut back on the political talky-talky, I’ll donate to campaign of the candidate that opposes his favored candidate. ;) (Or party, and so on.)

    4. Cleopatra Jones*

      IME, I find that learning to ignore these types of people goes a loooooooooooong way in helping my sanity. I think this dude says those things to get a rise out of people (some people just enjoy inflicting anxiety on other people) because if he really believed everything he was spouting, he wouldn’t need validation from co-workers. So if you don’t have an HR department or some kind of company policy, go with ignoring him when he starts his tomfoolery. You will be so much happier at work!!!

      As an aside, I find it really sad when people blame all of their woes/unhappiness on the POTUS. Seriously, how is your happiness is affected by someone who you’ve never met (and probably never will meet)? I don’t understand.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        This is really good. OP, try to keep in mind that the guy ENJOYS getting upset and enjoys getting everyone else upset. I bet if you listen you will find a pattern of him saying something more outrageous than the previous outrageous statement he made. You will be able to see escalation.
        You might try something like “With so many difficult situations going on out there, I feel that it is very important to maintain a level head and a logical perspective.”

        ugh. I am not big on people who stir things. I am more impressed by people who try to find solutions and solve difficult problems. That is REAL talent.

        1. Cleopatra Jones*

          I wouldn’t even give him the courtesy of saying that because any kind of response from her will feed the troll. I guarantee after she says that very simple and level headed statement, he will start with even more outrageous statements.
          I have an office troll at my job (he tries to provoke people all the time with outrageous statements on just about anything you can think of), I’ve learned to not engage. If he says any thing other than hello or something about work, I walk away. Plain and simple. I don’t even give him the chance to finish his sentence because I DO NOT reward bad behavior with validation. He has learned where his professional boundaries are with me and my work life became a thousand times easier without his foolishness.

    1. Ash (the other one)*

      As checked out as you are, make sure to still do a good job in case you need a reference in the future! And congrats!!

      1. Jules*

        Thank you :)

        Not quite checked out, since I am anal about responsibilities. I got all the relevant work reassigned. Persoanlly, I am going to miss people that I work with. I just can’t work with them anymore, which is sad.

  24. Ali*

    I have an interview on Monday!!!!

    It’s for an online marketing job, and the position would be remote, though the job is based in the city I hope to move to eventually. I’m talking with the hiring manager over Skype. The pay isn’t much different from what I’m making now, but I am hoping to switch to a job that involves more marketing and social media, and this job has both aspects. The managers also understand the importance of mentorship and training and are willing to work with the right person.

    I know that nothing is a guarantee, but I e-mailed my resume and got a response almost right away. It was a huge boost, especially after just deleting a rejection e-mail from another position. Even if I don’t get this job, I’m hoping this interview will be the start of dominoes falling.

    1. Golden Yeti*

      I’m not sure why, but I keep not just my applications/job descriptions, but also most of my rejection e-mails. Maybe because at the end of all this searching, I’m kind of curious to see just how many applications I will have had to go through to move on.

  25. Anon4This*

    In my department, each team is to sort out holiday leave among themselves from what is available and for the 4th year in a row, I’m expected to take the least desirable periods because my bosses always gives priority to the parents of young children and I don’t have children. This is my 4th Christmas period being here yet a woman who has been here 6 months got to pick before me because she has children and I don’t think this is fair. I tried to say something to my boss and all she said was ‘you’ll understand when you have children’. I still don’t think it’s fair that I’m expected to take my Christmas leave in 3 chunks of 2 days in February because I don’t have children. What can I do?

    1. Laufey*

      Find a new job.

      You’ve spoken to your boss and she had no intention of even reconsidering the policy. Stay if you never want holiday leave until she leaves the Company, or polish up your resume.

      1. Anon4This*

        Been looking for a new job for over a year, it’s so soul destroying. Only still there because I need to pay rent.

        1. Artemesia*

          If you are stuck then readjust your head on this. Lobby for bigger chunks of holiday time off and do something cool. It isn’t fair but if you can’t do anything about it make lemonade.

      2. LCL*

        Yup. Your boss is awful. If she wasn’t awful, she would put something on paper for needed holiday coverage, and then decide how to rank time off requests. She is abdicating her responsibility by telling you to work it out among yourselves. Also if she actually wrote down her criteria for requests, she might see how awful her policy is.

      1. AndersonDarling*

        Yeah, that is blatant discrimination. It may not seem like a big deal to your boss, but if things go slightly sour, you could easily sue for discrimination. (Is “parent” a protected class?) And HR does not like to have these situations brewing.
        But…it is totally unfair because you have a family, even if you don’t have children. I bet you would like to see your parents, siblings, cousins, at the holidays. Your boss is pretty much saying that you will never get to have Christmas off. I’d be super upset.

        1. fposte*

          It’s not illegal discrimination at the federal level–you can’t easily sue for discrimination for any federal reason here. State and municipal laws may have different protections, of course.

    2. Anonsie*

      Wait, if you’re supposed to sort it out amongst yourselves, why is boss coming down with the Parents Only hammer here? Can you get one of the parents to trade you?

      And this is the wad in me coming out today, but next time she says “you’ll understand when you have children” I suggest replying “you’ll understand when your kids can’t get off work to come visit you.”

      1. Biff*

        The boss sounds vile. A truly entitled, horrible person. I just don’t think your suggestion has enough bite to it. What happens when she says this to someone that CAN’T have children, or LOST their children? That can only go extremely badly. Also, what sort of company pushes out Christmas leave until two months later? I thought the rule of thumb was that those who must work Christmas Eve/Christmas got New Years off.

        For what it’s worth, I understand — I am rarely able to get Solstice off (which is my ‘big’ holiday of the year) and it’s very disheartening some years. If it was NEVER an option because I didn’t have children, I think I might lose my &^%$. Holidays aren’t about children or the lack there of.

        1. Natalie*

          Taking your holiday off likely falls under reasonable accommodations your employer has to make for you, given that religion is a protected characteristic. It’s obviously totally up to you whether or not you want to pursue it, but if you did Alison’s articles about bringing up legal issues to your employer might be helpful in framing your approach.

          1. Anonsie*

            I wonder how that would work for me– the Solstice is big for my dad and I like to join in on his activities, but it’s not a part of my own religion. I was raised with it, though, it’s more of a family thing at this point. Christmas, too, at that.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        “Then you should only hire people with children, then everyone would be equal here.”

    3. Puddin*

      Ugh. I am sorry I did not realize my aging parents and grandparents – or whomever I chose to spend the holiday break with – took a back seat as ‘family members.’ Because without kids, apparently your time is not valuable and neither is your family. What a condescending answer from your boss as well, and I would e mortified if I were the employee with kids who got preferential treatment. That person should have given their ‘slot’ to you. This policy is utterly unfair.

      I would absolutely start applying elsewhere. Unless everything else about this job was career utopia, it would be time to move on. Alternatively, have some fake kids – say you adopted, get some photos to put in your cube, leave early every Thursday from Aug-Nov for band practice from 1st thru 12th grades, and then get your pick of holiday time. Finally, I would ask if I could then use my holiday time in one big chunk some other time of year. If you can only take it off in bits in Feb, maybe there is another time of year when you can get it all at once. Or ask have every Fri in the month of June off. Basically ask for some other more agreeable time off schedule if that is suitable to you anyway.

    4. Janis*

      Many years and jobs ago, like literally 30, it was always me and three Jewish guys who worked the week between Christmas and New Year’s. We called ourslves the “Three Wise Men and the Honorary Jewess.” I know it stinks, and I can scarcely believe they still do that kind of thing in this day and age, but I will tell you that Michael, Robert, Ed and I had many, many laughs during that week. We ordered pizza, chatted on the phone, read (no internet then), arrived late and left early … and did very little actual work.

    5. Nanc*

      Oh been there! Always worked the holiday eves, the day after the holiday, had my vacation cancelled because someone with kids also wanted those days. Mind you, if they had asked I probably would have tried to work something out. Which is why after being laid off after 12 years you had to pay out 12 weeks of vacation (yay for a strong contract). I had another job before I used up that money and a big fat deposit went into my savings account.

      You could go to your boss and suggest a rotation method. She who had the suckiest shift the year before gets the best shift this year. Honestly, kids understand this stuff to a point. If the parent doesn’t make a big deal out of having to work an occasional holiday eve, the kids probably won’t care.

  26. JMegan*

    Just want to drop a quick note to Alison, or whoever fixed my html fail earlier in the week. (Do you have an assistant for that kind of thing?) It’s a little detail, but it’s the kind of detail that has an impact on reader experience, and really shows how much you care about the site. So please consider this as virtual flowers and chocolate to you for keeping things running behind the scenes!

  27. Ash (the other one)*

    Does anyone else work for a “soft money environment” where they have to bill hours to specific projects? I am three months in and finding the process a bit stressful. My main task right now is fundraising and I am often working over my allotted hours for those proposals. Or today I am in a lull waiting for others to complete their tasks so I can do mine but unsure where to bill my hours. I can bill a maximum of 9% of time to “admin” which covers things like staff meetings, but it makes me really nervous. I know I need to ask my boss, but it is also frustrating. I am a senior staffer so I am “expensive” compared to an assistant level so have to really watch how much I charge, but still need to charge somewhere! Any advice?

    1. KerryOwl*

      First question: yes! I am! It sucks! Last question: keep up communication with people. If there are specific things that are making things take longer than they should, say something. If you don’t think you’re getting enough time to do the things you need to do, say something. Can you do research or something during your “lull” period? So you’re still billing to overhead, but at least it’s SOMETHING. But find out what they want you to do. I always leave it for too long and then my projects are over budget and it’s all terrible.

      I know some firms that require a 100% billing rate. Which means that salaried employees pretty much HAVE to work overtime every single week. Because it’s pretty much impossible to be billable every moment of the day. So you’re either overcharging your clients (doing admin stuff when you’re billing their projects), or working overtime so that you still have 40 billable hours a week. That sounds like bullshit to me.

    2. CheeryO*

      Going to be watching this one. I’m in a billable hours environment (engineering consulting), and it’s a significant cause of anxiety for me. I’m also only about three months in, so I don’t have much advice, but I totally commiserate.

    3. Lily in NYC*

      I actually quit a high-paying job because I hated billing my hours so so much. It felt shady to me because I worked a ton of overtime on personal work for the president and had to bill it to clients. I don’t think clients should have to pay for my staying late to balance my boss’ checkbook.

    4. Annie*

      I’m in engineering consulting, and I hate billing my hours more than anything else about this job. My best advice is to just let people know when you’re in a lull, generally other people have small tasks that they haven’t been able to get to that can be billable.

    5. hermit crab*

      I’m in a similar environment (basically, we’re expected to be 100% billable unless we are on vacation, doing pre-approved professional development, etc.) and I always regret not asking enough questions about that stuff in my first year or so because now, six years later, I feel like I still haven’t quite figured it out and it’s too late to ask any questions. It’s definitely awkward, but do try to ask very specific and direct questions. It will only help you!

      Also, semi-related: I once received the advice “Don’t bill like a girl.” Apparently someone did a study and (surprise, surprise) found that women in billable-hours environments are more likely to think things like, “Well, I spent half an hour staring out the window thinking about how to write the report, but that’s not the same as actually WRITING it, so I’m not going to bill for it, I’ll just make the time up later” — whereas men are more likely to think, “I spent half an hour planning how to write the report, 0.5 hours to Project X.” I definitely have “bill-like-a-girl” tendencies, and it’s a really tough habit to break. Anyway, when you are trying to figure out how to bill your non-billable hours, make sure they really are non-billable.

      1. Tris Prior*

        This is really interesting…. I do the exact same thing. I came from a company where we were only allowed to bill what the client felt the job SHOULD have taken, not what it really took. And our clients had completely unrealistic expectations for how much time the work would take.

        I’m now in a job where I have to account for my time by task, though I don’t have clients. It is VERY hard to break the mindset of “well, I spent half an hour thinking about the best way to handle Task and researching how it was done in the past, but that’s my issue, I must just be slow or dumb, so that shouldn’t be billed.”

    6. Tris Prior*

      Oh, my other favorite head-scratcher regarding billable hours was:

      “You can’t bill any more time to this job or Client will be angry that we went over budget.”
      “No, there is no other job that you can work on and bill your time to because everything else is over budget too.”
      Then, after submitting my timesheet:
      “…. why does your timesheet have so many nonbillable hours on it?”

      I never did figure out what they wanted from me.

    7. Mz. Puppie*

      When I worked in a consulting environment, the corporate guidance to us around this issue was like this:
      1) If you spend 15 minutes during your morning shower contemplating an issue with Client X, you bill a quarter hour to Client X. Any time spent spending any brainpower counts, no matter when or where it happened.
      2) My employer had the concept of “value billing”. Which was like this. If I spend (and bill) 5 hours developing a report for Client X, and then I re-use that template for Client Y in such a way that Client Y’s report-generation only took 1 hour, I bill 3 hours to Client Y, not just the one actual hour I spent. The reasoning is — why should Client X take all the hit for the development time when Client Y also benefits from that time — they should both pay for it in a reasonable manner. That “value billing” is what ended up completely covering all my waiting-around time and coffee-pot-chatter time etc.

  28. OliviaNOPE*

    I work in an organization with a LOT of turnover. Our new Director started in August and I already hate him. He is sarcastic, rude, refuses to drive to our frequent out-of-area meetings, has disparaged my work (which was done correctly) and allows the office receptionist to boss around the management team A LOT (she writes incredibly unprofessional and rude emails and CCs him so I know he’s seeing the way she speaks to us). He is something like our 5th director in just under 4 years. For the record, I liked the last three directors. Part of me is thinking he won’t be around long and just shut up and deal with it. Part of me is already ready to go to his higher ups and express my concerns. Is it too soon?

    1. CTO*

      If you’re going to go over his head to express your concerns, you’ll have to come up with some specific, objective examples of how his behavior affects your organization’s success. For instance, has his refusal to attend out-of-area-meetings had a significant impact on your bottom line, quality, or relationships?

      What do you think of upper management? Are they trustworthy? Responsive? Do you have a good relationship with them?

      I’m curious about the high turnover rate. Does this signal poor upper management who are unlikely to respond to your concerns effectively?

    2. Mister Pickle*

      I’d be very careful. I don’t know your work environment, but going over someone’s head to complain about them is, in some places, considered Very Bad Form.

      (and some places have an Open Door policy that explicitly allows for this – although it’s inadvisable to use it unless you’re reporting on a serious issue that is negatively affecting the conduct of business).

  29. LDT*

    Hi everyone! 2 questions if anyone can help me out:

    1. Bad Glassdoor reviews / a potentially bad work environment?
    – I just accepted a job at a company that has only 8 Glassdoor reviews, but about half of those are recent and negative. Some complaints include upper management being cruel, cursing at employees in e-mails, setting themselves up for a lawsuit, and being stuck on a sinking ship. Other reviews are neutral.

    I had to take this job, though; I’m very early in my career and honestly don’t think anyone else will hire me for the hours/pay that they offer. Any tips for how I should be taking these reviews or how I can prepare myself?

    2. Currently, I work as an independent contractor remotely for another company. While I initially informed my manager there that I’d be leaving once I found fulltime work, after some thought I’ve decided that I think I want to continue working for them, in addition to the fulltime job. I realized that the hours/workload there are light enough that (I don’t THINK) they’d become overwhelming for me.

    Is this considered faux pas in any way, or am I overthinking it? If I tell my manager I want to stay signed on even though I’m now employed fulltime, will that be okay?

    1. Ash (the other one)*

      Make sure there’s no violation of workplace agreements at your new job to continue doing the consulting. While some people do it under the table (“moonlighting”) it can have significant consequences if its against company policy (e.g. termination).

      1. bridget*

        And if your consulting work is for a competitor or it means you yourself are acting as a competitor when you moonlight, that could expose you to liability even if it isn’t explicitly against the rules in your new company. In many states employees have a common-law “duty of loyalty” to their current employers. Depending on how broadly or narrowly that common-law doctrine is defined in your state, that could easily include a duty to not directly compete with your company.

        1. LDT*

          I don’t think these two companies are directly competitors… but I’m not sure? One of them is LexisNexis, and the other is a company that produces directories of information on leading corporations, CEOs, other figures, etc. in different industries.

          Is this pushing it, though? I don’t HAVE to stay with LexisNexis, I just thought it’d be nice. Should I just drop the idea and give my 2 weeks notice as was the original plan?

          1. Jam Wheel*

            Is the directory company publishing any product that would be considered a competitor to any product of LN or its parent company, Reed Elsevier? Actually, I would be more concerned about the new company objecting to the moonlighting if they ever found out, considering how valuable some of the directory information can be.

      2. LDT*

        That’s a good idea; I had that thought as well — if I wanted to stay, would I be asking BOTH my new job and my current job if there are any conflicts?

    2. Nervous Accountant*

      Re #1-I went through something similar this past summer, except the company had even less reviews (2) and both were horrible. Unfortunately no red flags came up for me at the interview, I focused on the “positives” , and the co seemed to have great (customer) reviews online…..I ended up posting about it in past open threads including this one, and I regret taking it.

      Since quitting may not be an option for you and you need the experience and $$ I’d suggest just trying to get as thick a skin as possible. Don’t take their swearing personally, and don’t internalize it. It didn’t take long for me to start thinking I deserved the berating and beating myself up over little mistakes.

      1. Artemesia*

        Enter this job as an anthropologist who will be noticing and documenting (for your personal research and future glassbowl review) the local flora, fauna and natives. When the cursing and ugliness begins, feel a thrill of triumph as you have already witnessed the illusive ‘full asshattery’ after so short a period of observation. Gloat quietly to yourself that they are so predictable and you are on to them. Keep as much clinical detachment as you can as you rack up experience and accomplishments.

        And of course have your job search boots on from the getgo. You may not actively search for 6 months or a year but be poised to do so, have your paper in order, and be constantly scanning the horizon for giraffes (more pleasant jobs.)

        1. fposte*

          Oh, I like this. There was an article on The Cafe this week about the author’s attempt, years ago, to interview Anna Nicole Smith, and how she needed five “scenes” to make the article (but was having a hard time getting them since ANS mostly wanted to sleep). That’s similar–you’re a journalist looking for “scenes” to relate.

        2. bridget*

          I use exactly this strategy when conversing with my mother (whose personality quirks have a tendency to drive me a little crazy if I let them).

        3. LDT*

          This is a great way of putting it, haha! And I especially like the phrase “the illusive full asshattery.”

          Thanks everyone. I’m not so worried emotionally-speaking — I have a pretty thick skin when it comes to these things. I was just wondering if anyone had testimonies of Glassdoor reviews like that being off-base.

          The only thing I’d be concerned about in entering a potentially toxic work environment is how that could impact my resume later on. I’m early in my career and don’t have much on it. It would really suck to not be able to take away a reference from my first fulltime office job. :(

          1. Sara aka NV*

            Yeah, tha’ts a toughie, esp if the environment is so bad that you’re sure you’ll get a shitty reference, it’ll feel like all your hard work was for nothing. I’d like to see the responses to this….

          2. Puddin*

            I find that Glassdoor reviews for Current Company reflect all the worst issues and only some of the best issues. I think Glassdoor skews negative – similar to customer feedback surveys. If things are honkey-dorey then no need to share your thoughts. But one bad day and poof there goes a crappy review.

            Look for trends in the reviews. If 70% of them mention the review process is Fail, then take that under advisement and steel yourself (or be the change you want to see in the workplace if you end up agreeing with the reviewers). If one guy spouts off on how management is clueless and is very vague about it, then take that with a grain of salt, move on.

            Either way, you work there now. Use your own judgment as your guide. You don’t know what is truly there until you walk through the door and sit your butt down.

            good luck!

    3. Frances*

      I like Glassdoor, but for most companies, the reviews vary. For instance, my current company has a LOT of negative reviews, but there are also some average-t0-good ones and even a few excellent ones. I definitely agree with the negative reviews, but there are some good and bad things about all companies…and you may have to find those out for yourself. I would keep those things in mind, but what is a deal-breaker to one person might be no big deal to someone else. And there might be plenty of people who are satisfied at a company who may not feel compelled to post on Glassdoor.

  30. straws*

    My boss & I are working on ways to increase my authority so that I can take on decisions & tasks that are currently handled by him. Having more time will be extremely helpful to him, and I’m excited to move forward. However, I’m currently 7 months pregnant, so I’ll be out for extended leave fairly soon. It would be great if he could have more time in the next 2 months, but I’m also concerned about reworking communication lines to go to me instead of him when he’ll just be stepping back in. I can’t decide if it will help establish what should happen when I return or if it will make a permanent change in the future more difficult by going back and forth. Should I hold off on pushing for this change before I leave?

      1. straws*

        We’ve kind of been waffling back and forth on it together. So I guess you could say the question is from us both. I know he’d love to have more time now, but everyone is very used to going straight to him for everything. I realize it’s mostly speculation at this point, but it seems like disrupting habits but letting them fall right back would be worse than just waiting. We seem to have a 50/50 success rate with him handing tasks off to me. Sometimes everything goes smooth as can be, other times it seems like he spends more time redirecting everyone to me than he did taking care of the tasks himself.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          How many people are impacted?

          I hate saying this as it goes against my usual thinking, but if there are a lot of people involved and they do not seem to be catching on maybe wait. You could use this time to design the new system or set up whatever you need. Then when you come back roll it out.

          1. straws*

            We’re a small company, but about half of our employees are affected in some way or another. The more directly affected people are the ones with the most ingrained habits though. I like the idea of focusing on a new set up, and maybe my boss will find things to tweak while I’m not around. I also like Marcy’s idea of handing off just the smaller things.

        2. DG*

          Can your boss phrase it something like “Going forward please take this to straws. We want to make sure we are up to date on all work before she heads out on maternity leave and she will be handling these tasks when she returns as well.”

        3. Marcy*

          I am the manager in this exact situation, including the employee being 7 months pregnant. I have been handing the smaller things off to her because she plans to work from home after the first month and will be able to handle those small things from home fairly easily. I plan to step in that first month and just explain I am only helping out until she is able to resume that particular task. The larger things I am keeping until she is back in the office. I’m finding that works pretty well.

          1. straws*

            How funny that we’re both in this situation. I’ll be gone for about a month as well. Handing off the smaller things may also help us try out some of the new arrangements and see what the reactions are without too much disruption.

  31. Lisa*

    I am so happy! I was not feeling new corporate company that acquired us after I was hired recently. I wrote once on here that I wouldn’t have taken the job if I had known we were going corporate. I was so disappointed with how acct management made me feel like a minion, and was so depressed and constantly looking for a new job cause I felt this shadow of corporate BS that was killing my abillity to do my job at all. I was completely deflated, and didn’t want to work at all based on my interactions with anyone at corporate and was quietly stewing. Trying to wait out any better integration that was bound to happen, but getting more deflated as the weeks went by and no real convos about this.

    Then, I went to headquarters this week. OMG, it is sooo diff than what I had been experiencing. Turns out everyone is upset about how acct managers handle everything. My perception of corporate was because of them. The top acct guy was recently let go too. They hired someone else, and I got a real view of the company and people that I hadn’t had contact with much. I love this place! They seriously were on the verge of losing me, because I kept thinking so this is how corporate life is. Circular logic, BS process, overly yes-ing and promising things we don’t even do to the clients. Turns outs its just the acct teams. The other departments are amazing, and I am now super hopeful for the future. This trip completely changed my outlook. The transition since we were bought has been quiet, so no one has really been telling us anything cause they are all super busy. My only interactions were with these acct people, which made me want to stab myself in the eye. But now that I know this is not how the company wants them to act, I am very happy. Still some adjustments to deal with, but I am no longer looking to bail.

  32. A Different Day's Handle*

    (There is a question at the end of this, I swear. Basically “what can I do to help, without hurting?”)

    One of my coworkers – part of the team I am on, not someone who reports to me or is above me on the org chart, but significantly junior to me in time with the company – has some habits that are irritating his coworkers.

    When he tries to explain the viscosity properties of chocolate, and how combustion works, when I only wanted to know if the last batch of teapots passed the ‘candle flame’ test, I just tell him that I don’t need to know all that, I just need the answer to my question. (It really is that level of detail different – what should be a single-sentence answer becomes a 5-minute monologue if you let it.)

    When he stands near my desk and stares into the middle distance over my head, I say, “Yes?” And then he either says something to me or goes away, coming back later when he’s worked through whatever thought is in his head.

    But not all of our other coworkers are as direct. I know – because they tell me, which isn’t very useful – that these habits annoy them also, but they do not address them with him in the moment.

    Our immediate supervisor is aware of the issues. I do not know if he is addressing them, but my impression is ‘not’ (because they are social issues, not directly work-performance issues). I may be wrong about that. I have a good rapport with this supervisor and he is generally a good man to work for, but of course I wouldn’t expect him to tell me if he was addressing any of this. (Even if he is, I don’t think everyone is telling him when it happens, so he would have a partial-picture rather than a full one. I suspect that’s true of me as well, but I still am concerned.)

    But we are a team and need to work fairly closely together. As far as his actual teapot skills, this man is a decent teapot engineer for his level. I’d hope that he will stay on and integrate well with the team. At the moment, I’m concerned about that last part.

    Is there anything I can do, that would be useful, and not outside reasonable boundaries? Because other than setting my own – and encouraging people who complain to me to do likewise, so far with little effect – I’m not sure what more I can/should do.

    1. whatnow*

      Not entirely sure. But can sympathize, I have a relative who does this. They can’t ‘think’ into the middle of an issue, they have to start right at the outside of it (wherever their thought process or knowledge originated) – so you want to know how to get from one to store to one gas station, and they’ll tell you how to get there from their house. So things just take a ridiculously long time to get anywhere, the annoying thing is they only seem to do this when they’re flustered – so there’s other people there and they feel the need to make a good impression. And usually I’ve already heard the story and know the pertinent points, and have to signpost so they’ll get to the point.

      You can really only tell your co-workers to do what you do. Really it’s just annoying habits, that everyone have. I’m sure you’ve got a few that people work around.

    2. zecrefru*

      Sorry, no advice. This reminded me of someone I worked with. What’s the saying? Something like “Ask him the time and he’ll tell you to make a watch.”. Anyway, this still makes me smile: one day a co-worker asked me a question and I suggested she ask him because he had more expertise on the subject. She sighed and said, “but I don’t have that kind of time.”.

    3. soitgoes*

      In some people, this habit develops as a result of working for a boss or having a parent who can’t accept a simple answer and needs to have every detail accounted for. “Where are you going? Who with? Where did you meet them? Did I ever meet them? Do they know anyone I would know? Didn’t you just go there last week?” All of that in response to, say, “I’m getting dinner with Tina.” That’s an example that’s not related to work, but I think we all know people who badger others with questions, to the extent that others have to learn how to bring entire stories to the table. Can you think of a way to indicate that you DON’T need that much backstory? Sometimes I’ll interrupt and say, “Dude, just get to the punchline.”

    4. LCL*

      He’s an engineer, right? Some of them are just like that. Interrupt him when needed to keep him on topic.

      1. Adonday Veeah*

        Yeah, engineering brains often work differently than others. I find it endearing to work with them, but it wears thin when I’m dating one. They cannot change, any more than you can. You just have to know their workarounds. LLC offers a good workaround, worth a shot.

        1. Anonsie*

          God. My partner is like this– I pictured him immediately at the “walking over and starring for a while before leaving to think more” bit.

      2. Puddin*

        +100 – “I understand all of that” or “That is not what I am asking. I need x.” And don’t wait until he is finished, correct him as soon as you can tell he is trailing the wrong bird.

        As far as the staring in your direction, I was unclear if he does that out of the blue or in the ‘explanation’ discussions. If the former, I would shake my head and smile and say out loud – in a playful way, “there goes Charlie staring a hole into the void.” Done with a lighthearted tone it is a mild social correction.

    5. Red*

      To keep yourself from becoming the team’s officially unofficial mediator with this guy/his interpreter in chief, here’s something you can say when your team complains to you about him. “Huh. Have you said anything to him about it?” or “That sounds frustrating. You should really tell him.”

    6. Anonsie*

      When he tries to explain the viscosity properties of chocolate, and how combustion works, when I only wanted to know if the last batch of teapots passed the ‘candle flame’ test, I just tell him that I don’t need to know all that, I just need the answer to my question.

      This happens to me constantly, only here I think a big contributing factor is that a lot of folks just genuinely assume the small lady with only an undergrad degree is dumb and needs everything explained to her. Example I’ve given here before, they could tell me they want all their paperwork put on the moon and if I asked what kind of space shuttle they planned to use they would sigh deeply and tell me the moon is that big round thing I see in the sky at night sometimes.

      I do one of a few things depending on the situation. Usually, I wait until they’re done and leave a little bit of a pause and then slowly say “Okay. But I need to know [repeat question verbatim].” Alter as appropriate for the person you’re talking to.

  33. AvonLady Barksdale*

    I had a Skype interview yesterday for a job that sounded interesting; after the interview, I really want to move forward and I really want this job. The woman who interviewed me is the head of operations, so it was more of an initial screener, but I liked her a lot and she asked the BEST interview questions. “What’s your ideal work environment?” “Tell me about your most satisfying experience in chocolate teapots.” “Tell me your biggest frustration in your current role.” But I don’t know how I did, because while I think it was ok, I’m never sure if it went WELL. For my current job, I thought I bombed the interview, so I’m just terrible at gauging my own performance. My biggest trip-up, I think, was around questions she asked about my current job. I gave her the “acceptable” reasons for leaving– I miss lots of client interaction, I want to do more custom teapot design– but I was so caught up on not sounding “negative” about my current position that I left out the others– I’m bored out my skull, I don’t have enough to do, this company has no transparency, etc. I was afraid to say I was bored lest she think I wasn’t used to a fast-paced environment (though I did say I miss the quick deadlines I had at my old company). Maybe I’m just over-thinking things.

    She also asked for writing samples, so I found a few a sent them over. I included one I am particularly proud of– a blog post I wrote for my old job– but while I think it’s a great example of some of the more conversational writing I’m capable of, now I’m thinking it may have included too much personal information. AAARRGGGHHH. I wish I could just shut off the voices.

    Anyway, I think I just needed to vent and rant, but please wish me luck! This sounds like a great place; small office with locations around the country, interesting clients, a real emphasis on ideas. I hope my interest came across. I was so wrought up after the interview that when I changed out of my interview clothes, I violated my own work-at-home policy and opted for yoga pants and a comfy sweatshirt and took my laptop to the sofa for the day. I’m hoping that the way the rest of the day went– I found a lost dog (a story for Sunday) and met a great bunch of new people– is indicative of some kind of good energy from the interview, but… I guess we’ll see.

    1. Artemesia*

      The job search process is full of mysteries. Do great and you don’t ever hear again; do badly and they hire you. Alison’s continual advice on this i.e. put it out of your head and assume it isn’t happening until it does, is really good. You could be the best thing they saw all week and someone’s brother in law could still get the job. We never see what is really happening on the other side. Good luck — but seriously, put it out of your head until something happens.

  34. Trixie*

    I know AOL and Hotmail email addresses are seen as outdated on resumes and such. Do folks still use Yahoo? I do have Gmail address which I tend not to use because it gets so much spam.

    1. Sandrine (France)*

      Since I mostly use Gmail on Thunderbird, I gotta say the filters work pretty well, so you can get to your e-mail in relative peace :P .

      That does remind me I have to make new ones though… Thanks for the reminder :P

    2. Blue_eyes*

      Gmail is pretty good at filtering out spam, especially if you drag anything that gets through to your inbox into the spam folder. It will learn what is and isn’t spam. Or you could always open a new gmail account and just be careful where you use it so it doesn’t start getting spam. I think yahoo would be ok, as long as your username is professional.

    3. KerryOwl*

      I’d say that Yahoo is still cool.

      I have a gmail account, though, and I very rarely (maybe once every few months?) get spam in the main Inbox. Its spam filter is pretty smart. I imagine that if you used it actively for a little while and tagged the spam that you do get, it would figure out pretty quickly how to separate the wheat from the chaff.

    4. Sadsack*

      I was using my main yahoo account for my job search, but my mailbox also receives a lot of spam. I created a new gmail account that I use strictly for job-hunting. It is the one listed on my resume and the one I give in online applications, etc. It really gets no no other activity except for the occasional email from Google, so there’s no garbage and I am not in fear of missing an email should one of my applications actually get a response.

    5. Jubilance*

      In my experience Gmail is really good at filtering out spam, but you have to teach it. Mark all the stuff that is spam as spam (there are quick ways to do this) and they won’t hit your inbox. I’ve also had things that I deleted a lot (like emails from companies) end up in my spam because I deleted them so much, so that’s another option as well. I found that Yahoo lets a lot more spam through than Gmail.

    6. Smilingswan*

      I use a Hotmail account. The same one I’ve always had. All my contacts have that address, and it’s on my personal business cards and resume. I don’t understand why it is considered outdated. I do have a Gmail account set up “just in case”, but don’t really like the setup of that system, so I don’t want to make a permanent switch. What difference does it make which e-mail provider you use?

      1. Blue_eyes*

        Just like anything else, the email provider you use says something about you, whether you want it to or not. It’s not necessarily accurate or fair, but it’s there. I would compare using a Hotmail address professionally to writing your resume in Comic Sans. Sure Comic Sans is a legible font, but some people are going to judge you for it. I feel like in a lot of ways gmail has become the professional standard. Hotmail seems like you’re a 13 year old girl in 1998.

      2. Blue_eyes*

        Also, if you want to keep using your Hotmail account, you could set up a gmail address and just have it forward everything your Hotmail inbox. You can probably also set it to look like your outgoing messages are coming from gmail even if you send them from Hotmail. That way you could keep the email set up you like, but take advantage of the appearance of using gmail.

      3. Ann O'Nemity*

        I think hotmail is probably the worst email provider you could use for professional purposes. It’s outdated; you literally cannot even sign up for new accounts and existing users have been encouraged to move to And hotmail has an unfortunate history of being the target of security hacks and being used by spammers. If I see a hotmail address on an application, I’m going to immediately question the applicant’s ability and willingness to stay on top of the latest technology.

    7. Gwen*

      Yahoo reads just as outdated as Hotmail to me, though slightly less ridiculous than AOL. I’m surprised your gmail gets a lot of spam…it’s pretty smart about learning in my experience, I haven’t seen a spam message in my inbox in months.

    8. Elizabeth West*

      I still have a yahoo address (sbcglobal), but I only use that for non-work stuff. I use Gmail for writing and job-related stuff and for Amazon UK because I have to keep that separate from my US Amazon account.

    9. Cath in Canada*

      I’ve been emailing a lot of undergrad and grad students recently about volunteering at a conference, and I was astonished at how many of them gave me hotmail addresses as their contact info! Like, more than half, from a sample of about 2o people! Maybe it’s now retro-cool in a hipstery kinda way?

    10. NW Cat Lady*

      I’ve heard this as well, but I’ve had my yahoo account for almost 20 years, and I find it really difficult to make the switch.

      But I did set up a gmail account for job hunting, and just have everything forwarded to my yahoo address. My pay notifications, OT approvals, and all other e-mail correspondence from work goes to gmail. It’s nothing I have to respond to, so it works for me.

    11. jhhj*

      Depends where you are — hotmail especially but also yahoo are really common here. It’s not a factor for me. (But it might be if I were hiring IT.)

  35. MsManatee*

    So one of my coworkers is about to be fired. It’s not unmerited – he’s definitely not where needs to be after nearly a year of very hands-on training by me and my coworker, and he also has other issues like constantly making mistakes, poor time management, and talking back to our manager. It just feels kind of weird because he’s a nice guy, but there’s just this disconnect in him where he’s not getting it. It feels like everything we say goes in on ear and out the other. Has anyone else been in a similar situation? How did you handle it?

    1. LiteralGirl*

      We’ve had an admin in our office like that. Nothing was done with her; she was allowed to just continue making mistakes and she eventually became miserable. After 2 years she quit. At least your manager is doing something about it.

    2. Colette*

      It’s possible for nice people to have jobs they’re just not suited for – similarly, it’s possible for nasty people to be good at their jobs.

      It’s hard to watch someone you like struggle and fail, especially if you know that failing will cost them their livelihood, but ultimately there’s not much you can do about it.

      If/when he gets fired, about all you can do is sympathize and wish him well.

      I’m curious about why you know he’s about to be fired – it seems odd to me that you know before he does. Maybe there’s a legitimate reason for that, but if not, you might want to think about how this kind of thing is handled at your company.

      1. MsManatee*

        My manager had been asking me and my other coworker – who are in more senior positions than the other guy – for feedback on him throughout the year, since we work more closely with him than my manager does. So he let us know the other day what his plans were. Also this manager leaves his door open a lot when the coworker gets chastised. Not a good plan. :(

    3. Craigrs1*

      It’s interesting. I deal a lot with insecurity at work – I feel like I’m not contributing enough, etc – and the notion that some people sit around on the job and are actively destructive to their organizations, yet don’t get fired, is strangely comforting to me.

    4. Anonicorn*

      I’ve been through this / am going through this. My coworker is not about to be fired that I know of, but he really should be. It sucks that a nice guy is getting fired, but what’s worse is someone being kept around who’s bad at his job and bringing the team down. So I applaud your manager for dealing with it because you could end up with this situation:

      Elaborate initial training. Still bad at job. Further one-on-one training for each project. Still bad at job. Manager informed of issue. Still bad at job. One year mark. Role partly changed. Still here and bad at all of it.

    5. Jules*

      Some people I can be friends with and work with. Some people, I’d rather not work with. There is a disconnect between being personally nice and professionally compentent. For the most part, people are really nice. Sometimes though when it comes to work, when your work philosophy doesn’t jive, it makes you ready to rip your hair out.

      Doesn’t make you or him a bad person. He is just not at the same place as you are. Maybe all he needs is a little seasoning elsewhere where people will not take his BS and will tell him to cut the crap. Not many do that. Even I don’t tell some people to cut the crap when I should.

  36. Diet Coke Addict*

    What’s the best way to use my sales experience to transition OUT of sales?

    I hate my sales job, and I’ve been trying to get out for a while–focusing on my proven track record of sales achievement, strong relationships with clients, excellent database and project tracking skills, etc., as well as my non-work freelance writing work and other work experience. Is there anything else, skills-wise, that a sales background can transition to that I’m not thinking of?

    1. whatnow*

      Marketing/PR/Communications? or Admin maybe – database work etc, speaking to people. Potentially management roles, as you spoke to lots of people/negotiation?

      Probably better to figure out what interests you and see if you have transferable skills and/or how to get them. Rather than possibly transition to something that works on paper that you hate as well…

    2. Julie*

      Marketing/business development. I do some of that for a law firm and it requires understanding clients, curstomer service, being a translator between attorneys and clients, lots of tracking of deadlines/pitches/follow-up conversations, issuing positive press stories or industry news, and writing for marketing materials. I actually rarely deal with clients except maybe a few pitches because another higher up person takes credit for all that work in public.

      If you have a special skill set or background that might direct an industry. I’ve done both IT and legal work because I’ve trained in both fields but I also have worked with the public long enough to know how to make the jargon accessible for clients which is really valuable, or so they tell me. My measurables tend to be based on delivery, not conversions so the feeling that I must always be “on” that I got from sales isn’t really there. Think about what you don’t like in your job and start rewriting an ideal job description. I did that and while “Professional ice cream taster” didn’t pop up, this one did.

    3. JustSteph*

      Fundraising. I transitioned from a 100% sales job to a national non profit fundraising position to a university development position. Much better work environment and my skill set is very much valued!

  37. HateTheWeather*

    I’m stuck living somewhere I really don’t like while working/going to grad school and it will be about 3 years before I can move. I absolutely hate it here but have to suck it up because of residency/tuition. It’s either freezing cold or sticky and humid with no in between. I’m worried that I’m going to get ‘stuck’ living here after school is over if I pick up a job from an internship and all my contacts will be here. Is it really that hard to move away after finishing grad school for a new city on the other side of the country. Am I over estimating how much my contacts will be ingrained here?

    1. Artemesia*

      Any chance of an internship in the city or region you prefer. Off site internships are not unusual. I once worked with an internship program where we had people in the home city and in San Francisco, New York, Atlanta, Washington DC and London and the occasional person placed individually in other cities. The listed cities were all staffed up with faculty run seminars linking the coursework and the internship; the independent sites were rare and managed on line.

      There are also colleges that don’t have their own internship placement network nationally but allow summer or even academic year internships through other programs. My daughter went to school in the west but did a summer internship through another college in DC and was eventually hired by the firm she interned with. Even schools that normally don’t do this, might for a proactive well motivated student who figures out how to get it done.

      You know you don’t want to be where you are so get very proactive about a bridge to where you would like to be. I had a career where I had little location choice; if I had it to do over I would decide where I wanted to live and choose my school and certainly my job that way.

      1. Artemesia*

        PS In colleges it is surprising how really flexible many things are for aggressive students. Your school may not have done this off site internship much in the past, but with your motivation of wanting to work in an area and your homework to identify sites or even other programs you could join just for the internship, you might be surprised how easy it is to get permission. I’d appeal if it is turned down at the first level — very calm, self-directed and professional of course.

    2. CheeryO*

      Well, this is just one bullet point, but I went to grad school in the Great Lakes area and got an offer from a company in a big East Coast city, even without any contacts there. Many of my classmates stayed fairly local, but I know of people who went to the West Coast, too. I think it depends on how marketable your degree is, but it’s definitely possible.

  38. Allison*

    In recent months we’ve had discussions about things we’d rather our co-workers do in the bathroom, or not at all while at work, so I have a somewhat related question:

    I have an oily complexion, and for a while now I’ve been keeping blotting tissues on my desk and blotting my face during the day while at my desk. It’s an open office but we have short walls around our desks for privacy purposes, so I’m not even sure if people notice I’m doing it most of the time, but could this be grossing out my co-workers? Should I start doing this in the bathroom from now on?

    (I’m NOT looking for product recommendations, but if you absolutely *must* tell me I should use something else to control the oil, please note that a) I can’t use anything with salicylic acid, and b) part of why I use the blotting sheets is they contain green tea which helps keep acne at bay, I’m really into natural skin remedies since they’re less irritating)

    1. Larisa*

      I personally wouldn’t find it gross at all. Other people might be different, but I don’t see the problem.

    2. Calla*

      I think this is 100% fine. I mean, unless like you have a blotting tissue dripping with oil and show it around, which I doubt. I don’t get oily often anymore but I sometimes dab my face with a tissue if it’s one of the days where I am, and have never thought twice about it.

    3. Kelly L.*

      I wouldn’t care as long as you toss the used ones as soon as you’re done with them. It’s about on par with dabbing at your nose with a tissue IMO, which I also think is reasonable at a desk (as contrasted witj, like, endless foghorn nose-blowing or something).

      1. Sadsack*

        Endless nose-blower here, and it will never stop. If I went to the ladies room every time, I’d never be at my desk. I don’t know if I am a foghorn, but I am sure others can here me anyway. I am already on allergy meds for other allergies, so there’s not much more I can do. Sorry, neighbors!

        1. Kelly L.*

          Sorry! :( I didn’t mean to single anybody out, and I have endless nose days too. Was just trying to think of a more dramatic nose-thing!

    4. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Blotting papers are a godsend and changed my (oily, shiny, acne-ridden) life when I learned about them. No one ever noticed or cared when I used them at my cubicle or in my office. It looks like you’re just using a tissue or maybe wiping a bit of sweat from your brow. Make it quick and throw the paper away immediately, and you’re good.

      Also, a tip: in a pinch, if you’re out and about without your papers, toilet seat covers are made with the exact same type of paper and work really well (albeit without the green tea).

      1. Cruciatus*

        Just what I was going to say! I take some of the toilet seat covers back to my desk and cut them up and use them as my main blotting papers! I’ve also read something about napkins at, I believe, Starbucks…

        1. voluptuousfire*

          Yep, Starbucks napkins work just as well. I keep stacks of them in my car and my desk drawer at work. It also helped when we’ve had things spill on our desks at work. I always saved the day by having a stack of Starbucks napkins at the ready. :)

      2. Nina*

        I agree. Those papers are a lifesaver. So much better than blotting powder, imo.

        And no, I don’t think it’s a problem. It’s not a real time consuming activity and as long as you toss them away once you’re done, you’re fine.

      3. Anonsie*

        YMMV but I find single-ply toilet paper (or one side of double ply) works significantly better than toilet seat covers, which absorb nothing as far as I’ve ever experienced.

        2nd voluptuousfire on the Starbucks napkins, though.

    5. Monodon monoceros*

      I wouldn’t care what you are doing as long as I can’t smell, feel, or taste (eww, grossed myself out) what you are doing, or see body parts that aren’t normally seen at work, or bodily fluids.

      So blotting your face would be fine with me, unless you crunch up the paper, try to throw it in the bin and it hits me. Then not OK. :)

      1. Monodon monoceros*

        I forgot hearing. I don’t want to hear it either (which is what bothers me about extensive nail clipping. Clip. Clip. Clip. drives me crazy. One nail, fine. All 10 or 20 digits, not fine).

        1. Allison*

          Thankfully blotting my face is quiet. Not sure I wanna know what sound it could make . . .

          But I am thankful to everyone for the feedback!

    6. Anonsie*

      (I’m NOT looking for product recommendations, but if you absolutely *must* tell me I should use something else to control the oil, please note that a) I can’t use anything with salicylic acid, and b) part of why I use the blotting sheets is they contain green tea which helps keep acne at bay, I’m really into natural skin remedies since they’re less irritating)

      Are you sure? Have you tried Proactiv, or like, some sort of products for oily skin? Clean and Clear makes some.

      I JEST I get this crap all the time, I go from 0 to rage so fast. “Oh no, I haven’t ever tried anything because I’m a complete idiot! I’m so glad you saw some Proactiv commercials and could tell me it exists, what would I ever have done without you?”

    7. Anx*

      Way back when I had oily skin, KimWipes were my paper of choice, because I could them for my eyeglasses too.

  39. Nonprofit Woes*

    Hi all! I’d love to get some insight into the situation my nonprofit is currently facing. Details have not been forthcoming, and what has been shared has had a positive spin, so I’m not sure what’s realistic. Basically, we’re small, and about to run out of cash (no reserves). We have a chunk of restricted funds that can’t be tapped for operations, and some contract money that comes in every month, but it’s a small amount. For those in the know, if an organization couldn’t cover expenses for the next month, with just a glimpse of being able to do so the following month (yearly appeal) with 2015 totally up in the air…. what are the options? Does this spell longer term furloughs, layoffs, a total shutdown? For me it seems the sky is falling but with no conversations going on (that I can tell) about contingency planning, perhaps this is not too far from the norm and we’ll try and get credit, or something else.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      At a minimum, they’ll probably need to lay people off. They’ll almost certainly do everything they can to avoid shutting down, but it might not be avoidable, depending on what their funding forecast looks like.

      Furloughs are an option but in a situation like what you described, it’s probably not enough (not unless there’s a massive check that’s coming for sure in a month, or something like that).

      Credit isn’t generally an option in situations like this. I would expect layoffs, and be actively looking.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I should add: When you say they can’t cover expenses next month, what does that mean? Can’t make payroll? Can’t keep a particular campaign going? Depending on what it really means, it might just mean cutting programs but not staff. But it sounds like it might be more about not being able to make payroll, and that would mean layoffs (unless they could figure out and justify moving money from a different part of the budget — but that often doesn’t make sense even if they could do it, because you want to be looking at what will be sustainable long-term).

    3. CTO*

      I’ve seen nonprofits rebound well from serious financial woes that threatened to shut them down. That said, this doesn’t look very good if you rely on a paycheck from this place. If you can, get some clarification along the lines of what Alison suggested.

      One organization for which I worked a few years back was facing a temporary financial shortfall from a government shutdown. The leadership was as open as they could be about their plans–how we’d cover expenses, what programs could be impacted, whether we’d have furloughs, etc. It was a stressful time but at least I had the information I needed to plan for my own financial needs.

      If you’re not getting any openness or candid information about what’s going on, I’d be looking elsewhere and quickly.

    4. Amanda*

      Almost certainly layoffs. I’m sorry. Nonprofits are wonderful in so many ways, but this is one of their huge drawbacks. There are probably contingency plans being discussed at the board and director level, but depending on where you are in the hierarchy you won’t hear about them until they’re shared with everyone.

      I’d also be worried about an organization that allowed this to happen, and is looking to an annual appeal as a savior.

      As to a complete shutdown – that would be the last resort, obviously, but I think it depends on what the core mission of the nonprofit is, and whether it’s feasible to shut down. Think about what your essential functions are and whether they can be transitioned. I’d guess it’s also more likely with a very large or a very small organization. If a large org has zero reserves they’ve probably gone down a very rocky road to get there and they have to raise that much more to get back to solvency; if a small org has zero reserves they just don’t have the resources to bounce back and raise even a small amount.

      That said, there’s stories of situations like this going every which way. I hope your organization transitions smoothly and that you come out of everything okay.

  40. Stephanie*

    What is the proper etiquette in this situation?

    It’s a business meeting. A man escorts his boss into the roo . I’ve already met the man and his bos . My two managers have not met him, so they stand to shake hand . Now everyone in the room is standing except m . Do I stand, too? Shake hands even though I already know everyone? Does it make a difference if I’m the only women in the room? How about if I’m the only women and we’re in a Middle Eastern country where traditional men are uncomfortable shaking hands with with women?

    I never know if I should sit, stand, offer my hand, or just hide under the table.

    1. fposte*

      I don’t know about the Middle Eastern part, but in the US I’d say you would be okay either remaining seated and saying “Nice to see you again, Bob” or getting up to shake his hand. Which I’d choose would probably depend on how far I was away from him and when it was I last saw him (met him last year, I’d get up and shake hands; saw him this morning, wave and hello).

    2. Artemesia*

      I’d stand and shake hands. It is normal in a business setting to shake hands on seeing someone you know in a meeting whom you haven’t been talking with recently. e.g. if you had been chatting with Ambrose just before the meeting then it might be odd to do it again, but if it was last week, then join the shakeathon.

      In the Middle East it is tricky. In my experience, first meetings always involved the proper exchange of business cards, so if I had done that already I would probably not join in with that.

    3. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I think the key is to remember that not every client will approach this the same way, even if they’re from the same company and country, so be open to cues. A good compromise might be to stand, look him in the eye, and say “Good to see you again, Mr. Teapot!”, and watch with your peripheral vision to see if he extends his hand. Heck, if you’re talking about a culture where it might be considered unseemly to have physical contact with the opposite sex, standing without extending your hand (but watching for him to extend his) might be a good way to greet any new client!

      1. fposte*

        I think in general that the rule is when in doubt, do the ritual. You’re likelier to feel weird about doing nothing than doing something.

    4. Jules*

      I am very sensitive to people who don’t shake hands with the opposite sex, I would just nod my head when introduced. Otherwise I would just wait for cue. Not everyone is a stickler about it. In the US though, unless I am specifically told otherwise, I will always, get up if I am sitting and shake hands with everyone as I am introduced.

  41. whatnow*

    Having mini-freakout about interview I have coming up.
    Mainly because it sounds like a great job and I seem to screw up interviews for jobs I really want (well all interviews, but it hurts when you wanted them!)
    It’s a bit of a commute, which I think may put them off, but I’m looking to move, and my previous commute (using public transport) took much longer. How do I address this in the interview?
    Also I talked on the phone and made a slight error, I said I wanted to work in a certain area in film similar to what I’ve done before, but I actually had an interview for a job earlier in the year, which I would have loved and I think this would have been a better fit to say as I my dream job. (Producer’s Assistant) and fits in better with what the role might entail. (Also true, I really wanted that job.) Anyway to rectify this? I was generic (want to work in production) then said I wanted to work around the role I had in my CV.
    Third and final thing :) Everyone always comments on this and I don’t know how to answer well. I did a course in Screenwriting last year. Everyone asks if that’s my dream job, and I say it’s something I’m thinking of in the future, and working on in my free-time. I never know how to address it properly. It’s something that may take a very long time and/or never happen. Almost like a hobby.

    Any advice appreciated! Thank you :)

    1. Malissa*

      On the first one, if they ask, tell them you are looking at apartments in the area.
      Don’t mention it. Chances are they may not bring it up. If they do then you can expand on it. “I’m really interested in that area, but also looking to expand into X.”
      The screen writing thing, “Well I know many people dream of working in that area, but I took the class to expand my skills as it’s a hobby I was interested in learning more about. And if you could add in something about how the class would relate to the role you are applying for, even better!

  42. Treena Kravm*

    A lot of the time I send emails or verbal requests and until I hear back, I don’t/can’t move forward. These aren’t vital to my job, but I still want to easily track it. I’m realizing I haven’t developed a system because they’re not vital, but it’s time I start using one. I’ve tried putting them in their own folder in my inbox, but that doesn’t work for sent mail and verbal things.

    So what do you find to be a helpful trick or tool to keep track of all these little things to follow up on if you don’t hear back?

    1. Jillociraptor*

      I bcc myself and track the message in a category in my inbox.

      I keep my whole to do list in a spreadsheet, so I have also just tracked it there, it I’ve found that having the email message readily available to forward again is most useful since it has all the context.

    2. Karowen*

      I use Outlook, and I absolutely adore the task feature. I just flag the emails as soon as I’ve sent or received them and set a reasonable date/time (with a reminder!) to follow up on them. You can also create tasks to remind yourself to follow up on verbal conversations.

      This only works, though, if you actually clear the items out. I have co-workers who have 100s of flagged tasks all bright red, and it obviously doesn’t work for them. But if you’re like me and hate having notifications or tags waiting for you to clear them out, this is perfect. It’s really easy to send the email as soon as the reminder pops up, or reset the flag to remind you at a later date/time if necessary.

    3. Frances*

      I have Outlook at work, and I’ve found those little follow up flags incredibly useful for that kind of thing, if it’s an individual message chain that I need to keep track of. If it’s a project where I need responses from multiple people (I do a lot of work where I need forms back from a dozen people), I usually set a calendar reminder, if it’s particularly time sensitive. I also have running to-do lists in Google Keep for tracking multi-stage and recurring projects (useful for projects where there are other parts of the project I can do while waiting for responses).

    4. Mister Pickle*

      I’ve developed a ‘system’ over the years. It’s not perfect but it’s super-easy and it works well enough that I’ve never been driven to move to a more sophisticated system.

      It’s basically this: I have a text file in an editor that stays up and running all the time. When I need to do something, I add a line to it that begins with a dash:
      – talk to Bob about frangible teapots
      When the task is in process (I called Bob but I got his voicemail), I’ll append an ‘x’ to the front:
      x- talk to Bob about frangible teapots
      When the task is done (Bob called me back, we talked), I remove the dash:
      x talk to Bob about frangible teapots

      Also: I’ll copy/paste any manner of random data into the file, too: phone numbers, email addresses, URLs, code fragments. I’ll use the editor’s search function to find things when I need them. When the file gets too big, I’ll archive it and start a new file. It’s often handy to have a record of what has happened in the past.

      It’s so simple it’s actually kinda stupid. But it works. I use an editor called emacs and I feel guilty because it has a special “org-mode” that, in theory, should be even better for this kind of thing. But so far it’s simply not been worth the effort.

  43. NoReferences*

    How can you get around having no references? I got fired from my last job for not making enough sales, but truth be told, sales just wasn’t for me. I didn’t have the ‘killer instinct’ and don’t have a pushy bone in my body. But I do know I am a hard worker, very organised, efficient and motivated. I just wasn’t suited to that job. But because no one will ‘vouch’ for me, I can’t get a job. What can I do?

    1. whatnow*

      Have you got older references you could use? Or personal references (former colleague maybe)? You could do some voluntary work and use them as a reference perhaps…

      1. Felicia*

        When I was in a similar situation, I started some volunteer work which (sort of) got around it, though people will wonder why you don’t have references from that job (i was fired after 3 months so i took it off my resume, but you probably can’t)

  44. Aidan*

    A good friend recently graduated from law school and is applying for legal jobs: mostly fellowships, government work and public interest. He’s asked me to help review his cover letters. I’ve provided feedback on the content of the letter, but I had a couple of questions to make sure I’m giving the right kind of advice. He often refers to “being near his girlfriend and her family” as one of the reasons for his interest in job. I gave the advice that that’s irrelevant and the employer won’t care, but he countered with the explanation that legal jobs want to know that you have ties to the area. Is this true? Secondly, he doesn’t like to sign his full name on cover letters (“Sincerely, -Will” instead of “Sincerely, William Smith”) which strikes me as noticeably informal, but he stands by it. Does this matter? I’m inclined to think he won’t get passed over for jobs for something like this if he’s a good candidate, but I’m also wary of overwhelmed employers looking for any reason to narrow the pool.

    1. neversawthatb4*

      I think on those matters, he should get advice from the career services office office at his school.Those are good points for you to bring to his attention.

    2. Turanga Leela*

      I don’t know about the signature, but as far as the “ties to the area” thing goes: Legal employers DO want to know that you have a connection to the area, particularly if you’re coming from out of state to a smaller legal market. (No one in NYC or DC cares if you have local ties; they just assume you want to live there anyway. Employers in Nebraska, however, will care.) However, “my girlfriend and her family” isn’t going to sound like a deep connection, and I wouldn’t recommend saying it. “Girlfriend” just doesn’t sound serious or permanent.

      Instead, he could just say he has family in the area, or he could talk about other reasons why he wants to be there—maybe he has spent time there in the past, or maybe he has always wanted to do X kind of law that this area is known for, or maybe he is simply passionate about this job in particular and is willing to move for it.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Agreed. “Girlfriend and her family” won’t sound serious enough and will come off a little strangely. He should just say “family in the area.”

        1. Senor Poncho*

          Was going to comment that ties are important and “significant other + family in area” is a pretty typical way to go, but I like your version better.

          1. Lisa*

            Side rant – I always hate when people assume that a gf or a bf is less permanent. I am 11 years in my relationship, but somehow people think I am less a part of the family cause we are not getting married. We’ve been together longer than his brother and sister’s marriages combined, but yeah not serious enough to some.

            1. bridget*

              Yeah, we need a new term for long-term committed partners. The problem is that it’s hard for an employer to tell from just the term “girlfriend” or “boyfriend” whether you’ve been living together for five years and have a house and a dog, or whether you’ve been seeing each other for six weeks and just decided to be exclusive, and you’re moving nearby to “see how things develop.” One is much much different than the other, and it’s kind of silly that we use the same term for them. But, I can see how from an employer’s point of view, where they have no information about what kind it is (and they don’t want to pry for details), they might worry it’s the less permanent version.

              I’m guessing they see “spouse” differently, even if it’s a new marriage, because it would take some legal doing to disentangle the relationship, which is not necessarily true of a non-marital relationship of a similar length.

  45. Stephanie*

    I ended up not getting the job I posted about a couple of weeks ago (the one that was first-line supervision). It was a little awkward as the recruiter called me to tell me they were moving forward with other candidates. But oh well.

    But maybe I’ll luck out soon. I had a phone screen yesterday (the job I posted about where I interviewed before) which went fine. The interviewers didn’t remember interviewing me previously (and I didn’t bring it up). And I have one in a couple of hours (that I need to get back to preparing for).

    1. Trixie*

      Did they offer any feedback? It sounds like you were prepared for supervisory experience question. And good luck on next interview!

        1. Stephanie*

          Nah, just the generic “we’re going forward with candidates with more direct experience.”

          And thanks!

    2. fposte*

      Sorry about the supervisor position, Stephanie, but it sounds like your applications are drawing good interest right now–hopefully one of them will be right!

  46. JMR*

    Hi-I had a couple questions I was just curious to get some opinions on. First, should I worry that the last few new hires at my company are either close friends or family members of the owner? The owner’s best friend that he has known since childhood has been hired to be the new CEO and a new manager at another location is his nephew. Second, the past few Fridays (and only Fridays) my boss has texted/called me to come back to work after I have left. The call will usually occur 10-15 minutes after I have left (I have a 30 minute commute) and when I return it’s been for menial tasks like sending a fax or copying a few pages. He could ask his assistant/someone else who is still there to do it. I don’t know if there is anything I could or should say about it.

    1. Karowen*

      I wouldn’t worry about the nepotism until you see evidence that they’re incompetent. Sometimes the person you know truly is the best person for the job, if for no other reason than you know that you get along well and can work together. I’d definitely be frustrated by the calling you back in after you’ve left, but I have no idea what you could do about it…

    2. Chocolate Teapot*

      I would be seriously annoyed about the being called back for stuff which could wait/be delegated. On the other hand, saying no to a Bigwig can be tricky.

      The new hires thing also sounds worrying.

    3. Swarley*

      Boss: I need you to come back and send this fax for me.
      You: Hi Boss! I’d be happy to, but I’m already a ways down the road. Is it urgent? If so, Assistant is still in the office I believe and should be able to help out with this.

      When you come into the office the next morning you might follow up with Boss and say something like: I know how time sensitive some of these faxes can be, so I’d be happy to show you how to do it if you have a minute!

      However, if your boss is calling you to come back into the office to send a fax I’m guessing he already has some glaring problems that won’t make this an easy conversation.

      Good luck!

    4. CTO*

      I’d worry that the new folks are untouchable even if they have performance issues. The boss will either be blind to the problems, uncomfortable addressing them, or refusing to let other people step in to address the problem.

      1. Too Much Nepotism*

        Yep, I had a similar experience. The director best friend was the supervisor, the supervisor’s sister was a co-worker worker. The director’s brother and his wife worked there. Also the director was the bestie of another worker. This was not a family run business –it’s a roughly 25-30 person non profit. And it was clear that those people were untouchable no matter how incompetent (brother was a janitor–and there was always complaints from clients and staff who didn’t know “who he was” how disgusting our staff bathroom was–untouchable. One of the bestie lacks professionalism is very rude and nasty to coworkers in front of clients and is always undermining the other bestie of the director -untouchable. And the supervisor bestie just tries to cater to her not knowing how much she tells everyone she hates her. Oh and the supervisor sister was notorious for making mistakes, telling on other coworkers then acting aloof. The only person, i think deserved their job is the brother’s wife. She did get the job because of who she know but she does work hard and is competent. Anyway layoffs happened and guess who were untouchable?

    5. Artemesia*

      These are both the universe’s way of telling you it is time to look around for a better position.

      Nepotism is almost always a bad thing for other workers in a setting. There are exceptions. Sometimes the boss’s wife is a wonder. Sometimes the nephew is the greatest thing ever. But even so, you know that these people will be the ones getting the promotions and raises ahead of non-family members and family friends. The worst place to work if you are not family is a family business. (and for many people that is true when you are family as well.)

      Being jerked around for trivia by someone who assumes you have no life and are his personal slave is a sign that you are not valued. Couple that with the nepotism? Bad news. Being asked to rush back because a crises is occurring — you are IT and the system is down, you are an ER doctor and 3 ebola patients just arrived, you are working on a grant project and the renewal was just sent back for re-do by tomorrow because something is missing — all understandable. Being asked to rush back to send a fax? This is someone who doesn’t really see you as a human being.

    6. Julie*

      My last job was with a person who did the nepotism thing and made me stay later than him to do tasks that he had plenty of people actually assigned to. Turns out, he was only asking me because he “trusted” me. He had this weird obsession with trust they made him sound paranoid. He would ask people to tell him if he was being talked about, he had spies ride the elevator to listen for office gossip, all early warning signs I overlooked because I didn’t even acknowledge him since he rarely worked in the office. Somehow I ended up in his inner circle which I thought was good. It wasn’t – for all those late evenings, missed lunches, and general disrespect that was because he trusted me so much.

      Find out your boss’s motivations for keeping you around/making you come back and if they sound crazy, they probably are.

    7. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I’m wondering about this calling you back…you don’t give your opinion of what it’s about, and it could be a wide range of issues. Is he passive-aggressive, and maybe he’s resentful that you’re gone when he wants something done, or he feels you should be working as late as he does, and this is his way of “telling” you? Is he just oblivious, or maybe has trouble with new routines, so his only thought when he needs something is to get you to do it? Or is he the kind to be manipulative as well as passive-aggressive, and maybe he is trying to get you to quit because he wants to hire another friend or family member?

      Those are all possibilities, each with very different prospective outcomes. But whatever the cause, you should set aside some time to meet with the boss and ask him politely how you can both solve the issue of administrative needs that arise after your (presumably agreed-upon) end-of-shift time.

      1. JMR*

        I’m definitely annoyed by him calling me back. He’ll only say I need to come back and not for what. I had initally thought it was due to me leaving a little earlier (about 10 minutes) on Fridays but last Friday I left at 5:15 and he still texted me to come back. I wouldn’t think of him to be passive-aggressive; he’s pretty vocal and open about how he thinks things should be and if he thought I should stay later for whatever reason I feel like he would tell me. I honestly can’t really think of any good reason why he would do it other than to be a jerk and show he has power. He kind of did the same thing when I took 1 personal day a couple months ago to have a long weekend out of town. He called asking where I was, implying was I able to stop by the office. I’ve been at the company for a little over a year and think I am now seeing how my boss really acts.

        1. The Cosmic Avenger*

          Well, even though you said he’s pretty vocal, he also sounds like he’s doing it to prove a point, which to me seems passive-aggressive.

          But if you’re fed up with this and you really can’t stand it any more, one approach would be to start going to his office a few minutes before you leave and asking him if there’s anything else that he needs. I would also stop answering my phone in the car if I were you, as it can increase the chance of an accident even with a hands-free kit or headset, and take that opportunity to remind him that you won’t be available during your commute.

          But first I advise figuring out if this is the hill you are willing to die on, or is it better to just start thinking of your Friday hours as ending at 5:30 or 6, if you think he’ll be punitive and you really need this job.

          1. The Cosmic Avenger*

            Doh! Of course I responded directly to JM, then I see that both of my recommendations were made earlier downthread! [smacks forehead]

            1. JMR*

              As you and someone else commented, I’ll admit I could be more consistent on checking in before I leave. I’m thinking it’s probably something I’ll just have to put up with

    8. Hooptie*

      Can you check in with him 10 minutes before your planned leave time to see if there is anything else he needs for you to do.

      Side note – he is being a jerk by asking you to come back.

    9. M*

      I wouldn’t respond to texts and reply when you get home “Sorry, I was driving and couldn’t check my phone”. That way if he calls you can say “Well I’m almost home, is Bridget Jones still there to help you?”

      1. JMR*

        I had actually thought of doing that if it happens next time; not answering and just saying my phone was off. I feel like if I were to say no I would get in trouble but I feel like asking about why it’s happening could sound like I’m whining.

      2. Mister Pickle*


        What are the laws like in your town/state on using the phone while driving?

        Actually, who cares what the law says: I know in my heart of hearts that it interferes with my driving, so I simply don’t use the phone while I’m on the road.

    10. Jazzy Red*

      When you’re ready to leave on Fridays, go into your boss’s office and ask if there’s anything else you can do for him before you leave. Then, if your phone rings while you’re driving home, DON’T ANSWER IT.

      As for the family moving into management positions, I’d say that’s not a good sign. You might want to consider looking for another job. If the family does work out OK, no harm done. Looking is not a commitment, but you’ll feel better about them.

  47. ella*

    I had a little laugh to myself this week when I noticed that my organization is offering a “How to work in a multi-generational environment” training. I almost want to go just to see how they handle (or if they’re able to get past) the stereotypes, but there’s really no reason for me to. (My workplace offers lots of trainings and very few are required, you can usually go to any one you want as long as the office can spare you and you have a solid reason for going.)

    1. whatnow*

      What does that even mean? Isn’t that just working with people?
      If I was you I’d go, and document what happens/ask awkward questions…

      1. ella*

        It’s a Millenials vs Baby Boomers training. I could go and pretend to be the 30 yr old who knows nothing about computers?

        1. Anx*

          This is a little OT, but I really don’t understand computers. At all. I don’t understand how they work, the log base system it uses, or how wireless communication works. And I’m a millenial.

          I also don’t understand why emojis are a ‘thing’ and can’t understand how it’s much different from AIM smiles and old FB symbols. I was one of those that were irked by the WH millenial infographic, namely because it strained my eyes to have to translate things (I don’t ever encounter emojis in my life).

          1. ella*

            Oh, I hate inforgraphics. Hate hate hate. Just write a well written paragraph and cite your sources, ffs.

            (I do understand that infographics have their place and that many people find them useful, but…haaaaaaaate.)

    2. Red*

      My institution does that as well. The training is run by the same people who call all the female employees in our building (ages 20s – 50s) “girls.”

        1. Not So NewReader*

          I think it would be more to the point to send upper management to learn how to deal with all of us!

  48. Natalie*

    Anyone have any recommended resources on volunteer recruitment/retention? I chair a committee (as a volunteer myself) and getting more and more regular volunteers is one of my primary goals for this upcoming year. But I have precisely zero experience with this, and the organization I volunteer for is pretty small and doesn’t have much by way of resources.

    1. Elkay*

      Retention – show them they’re appreciated. I’m half a step away from dropping out of an organisation I volunteer for because they don’t seem to think it’s a big issue that after I’d committed to an event they a) told me they wouldn’t be covering all my expenses and b) after the event reduced the amount they were willing to pay.

      Provide a forum once a year for your volunteers to give you honest feedback. If you think they’re being unreasonable don’t show it, remember they are giving up their time and may not have as much invested in this organisation as you (for example I’m sure there are lots of people who wouldn’t have the issues I have over expenses).

      As for recruiting them, it depends on what the organisation is, can you get a stall at local events? I’ve been to a few local events where charities have had a stall with information about themselves and what sort of volunteers they need.

      1. Natalie*

        We manage plantings on a regional bike trail. So mostly gardening, occasionally some design or hearing a presentation about some other garden thing someone wants to do.

        Unfortunately I don’t really have a budget, but the larger org does a volunteer pizza & beer party every year. I could probably also spring for sodas or what have you for some of our workdays. I have a Costco membership. :)

        1. CTO*

          Key things that keep many volunteers coming back for events like planting/gardening:
          – Clear information in advance about when/where to meet, etc.
          – Site is organized in advance so volunteers can jump into work quickly
          – All needed supplies and materials are available
          – Someone welcomes the volunteers, learns their names, thanks them, and overall shows that they’re glad the volunteers are there
          – Appropriate instruction or training
          – Follow-up contact inviting them to stay involved
          – An understanding of how their work makes a difference and who their service benefits
          – (For many people) the opportunity to get to know other volunteers–working in teams, happy hour afterward, or other ways to get people talking to each other

          1. Not So NewReader*

            Yes, please remember to say thank you.
            I volunteered for an eco-fair. One of the main people let their kid run amok all day, we all took turns watching. The overall attitude was “you should be grateful that I let you work this event.” And there was absolutely no out reach to newbies. At all.

        2. Judy*

          Certainly cold water/soda/lemonade/gatorade would be good, even if it’s just paper cups and a cooler of water and a cooler of lemonade/gatorade. Depending on the area and season, a popup shade tent for resting out of the sun might be nice.

    2. fposte*

      We’ve got a semi-captive population for our volunteering, so they already start pretty interested. But we do holiday/end-of-year thanks and small goodies and offer a small perk when they hit certain volunteering milestones (it would be like a gift-shop credit in the real world); we also give them a lot of flexibility and check with them to make sure they’re not stuck with tasks that they hate (interest is varied enough that there’s no project that everybody’s trying to duck).

    3. CTO*

      VolunteerMatch offers free webinars about the basics of volunteer management, including issues precisely like these. It would be a great starting point.

      If retention is a problem, try to get some information about why previous volunteers left. Poor match for their skills/interests? They didn’t feel welcomed or appreciated? They had too much work to do, or not enough? Lack of information before or during their volunteer tenure? Each problem has a different solution. It might be in how you screen, place, and set expectations for new volunteers. Or it might require improving how you treat volunteers already working for you.

    4. Hooptie*

      How about a picture of the group with an article describing your work in your local newspaper? Sometimes that kind of recognition goes a long way. And you would have the bonus benefit of additional media coverage for your organization.

    5. Verde*

      Retention – try making it really really easy for people to sign up for volunteer shifts. Post open shifts and have a sign up form (paper, online, etc.). Having to email back and forth with someone to find a shift that fits is a time suck for all involved. We use Shiftboard, but that might be too large for you org, but something along that line will help a lot. Also, clear “job descriptions” and instructions that give everyone the same info for the job so they know what to do and who to talk to about anything that comes up. Consistency is really key.

    6. ella*

      At the place I volunteer, what keeps it easy for me is:

      -Regular schedule. I’m one of those people who needs to know things a week or more in advance. (There’s also a lot of flexibility in case I need to change.)
      -Good work. They don’t have me doing the mindless things that none of the staff people like doing, and they aren’t giving me things just to fill my time. I feel like I’m doing work that needs doing. (And related to #1, I feel like the workflow of the place where I’m volunteering would suffer if I didn’t show up.)
      -Clear communication. I get an email once a month (not more) about what shifts I’m scheduled for. I also have access to a Google calendar so I can see what’s coming up (and when I’m scheduled).
      -The people are fun to be with (both staff and other volunteers).
      -I get thanked for coming pretty much every time I come in.

    7. Natalie*

      Thanks everybody! (And anyone from the future)

      I definitely thank everyone, in the emails I send out and after every work event.

      It might be the work itself, unfortunately – our primary duty is maintaining a half-dozen gardens, which means 85% weeding, 10% mulching, and 5% other. At least a third of the time I have to sort of force myself to go, so it’s not really surprising that the other volunteers come less often.

      I guess my winter project is figure out some feedback mechanism and then, well, we’ll see.

  49. Anna*

    New week; new notices that people are moving on to new jobs. Since March, 12 people have left for a variety of reasons. Still trying not to freak out, but seriously. What the hell?

    1. Ali*

      Something similar is happening at my job. I haven’t counted how many people have left. My old boss left for (non-life threatening) medical reasons, and since then, I can count at least 5-6 other people that have bounced, both on my team and in other departments. I’ve also amped up my own job search and would love to have something by year’s end.

      I’m not sure what’s going on at my company either, but it has me freaked out a little!

    2. AVP*

      Not saying that hiring has fully picked up, but I’ve noticed the same thing in my industry and the prevailing wisdom over here is that people who have been trying to leave their companies for months or years are finally able to get new positions. Which opens up new positions for other people, and on and on.

    3. Lily in NYC*

      Ugh, it’s kind of scary, right? We’ve lost 20 people out of a 60-person division since March. Things are grim. You’d think the head honchos would realize their new hire (our boss) is not working out. Especially considering three of our star performers left and made it very clear new boss was the reason.

    4. Golden Yeti*

      I’ve witnessed this pretty much since I started, so I think in our case, it’s inherent. Last time I actually tried to count turnover, I think it was about 20 people in 3 years (in a small company).

  50. Elkay*

    I’m going to file this one as: there are no stupid questions. Just found out a form was missing from my initial offer package, thought it was a bit strange that they hadn’t asked me for certain pieces of information.

    1. Lizzie*

      When the other new girl and I did our hiring paperwork at our last job, the boss failed to separate it correctly. She had two non-compete agreements, I had two W4s, etc. I also didn’t ask, having not worked in the U.S. for a couple years prior I just figured this was normal! Luckily things did get straightened out.

  51. chewbecca*

    I’m going stir crazy. I cannot seem to focus today. Yesterday I was incredibly productive and got a lot done. Today I have much less to do, but I just can’t get in to it.

    I’m sure part of is the fact that I did so much yesterday, combined with it being Friday, my boss is out of the office and then throw in the fact that the entire city is going crazy because of sports right now, it’s just not really conducive to getting stuff done.

    I guess that really wasn’t very substantive, but I needed to get it out there.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      I have found that my productive levels vary, like you are saying here.
      One thing that I like to do when I feel I have “lost a day” is make a heavy hitting to do list for my next work day.
      I think these lulls happen for a number of reasons. “I can’t believe I finally got X done. I thought I would NEVER finish that.” OR I did so much the previous day I need to regroup and rethink my next steps because my work yesterday changes the picture a lot. And sometimes I am just plain tired. I need to spend time cleaning my desk as suggested above here or doing little things that have seemed to pile up into a Mt Everest size stack.

  52. Betty*

    I start my new job next week! It’s a bittersweet feeling. I’m going to miss my boss, she really is the best boss I’ve ever had but I’m looking forward to new experiences. Also, can’t wait to get away from the office politics here. I’m sure there will be a whole new set of politics in the next job but at least it’ll be new and different.

    I heard through the grapevine that my current department is disappearing so it looks like I got out at the right time.

    1. Joey*

      Why bittersweet? I always think there shouldn’t be any mixed feelings. Afterall youve just added a whole bunch of good people to your network that you can probably call on for favors and vice versa.

      It kind of reminds of thinking of finishing school as bittersweet. No way. My times over there and it’s time to move forward onto the next phase of my life. You can appreciate all of the good people you’ve met but there shouldn’t be (I think) any feelings that you are sad to leave. Co workers come and go. Appreciate them while you work with them, but embrace that nearly everyone you work with will change time and time again.

      1. Lily in NYC*

        Why not bitterseet? Some people are more nostalgic than others. I don’t think there’s a right or wrong here. I was really sad to leave a job I loved because it was a dying industry. I felt the same graduating HS – I was super excited to leave home and go to college but I will still sad to leave my friends and the place where I had spent 12 great years of my life. I don’t think it’s a sign of weakness in any way.

        1. AdAgencyChick*

          Agree. When I quit my first job in advertising, I cried. I was leaving great people. But I was also poached by another great person who had already left. So of course I had mixed feelings.

          My current firm is a pretty good place to work and has some awesome people, but doesn’t do well with keeping junior employees’ salaries at pace with market rates. So, inevitably, a lot of them jump ship for large raises. They don’t necessarily want to stop working here, but they’re in the salary-building phase of their careers and they have to leave in order to make bank. I see a lot of bittersweet feelings on the part of those leaving, and I don’t blame them for a second.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          I think having to opposite feelings at the same time is totally normal.
          Very rarely is something all bad or all good.

  53. Sunflower*

    I know I’ve been asking a ton about project management so figured I’d get down to it and just ask what is a good way to break into the field. Right now I’m in event planning and doing logistics management- I’ve been ding this for about 3.5 years since I graduated from college- but eventually I’d like to get into the healthcare/pharma industry or possible go towards advertising to be more of an account/project manager. Any advice on how to get experience in either of those things? What jobs should I be looking for as I’m ready to move on from my current one and get away from events and more towards managing logistics and budgets?

  54. KD*

    I work in a large distribution center. We typically promote current employees to management positions when there are openings. This internal application round, all our candidates currently have leadership positions (one step below the manager position they’ve applied for). As a member of the HR team, I’ve been asked to come up with realistic scenarios these candidates might be presented with on the job as managers, and then walk the candidates through the scenario to see how they would respond during a more interactive part of the interview process. I am relatively new to the company and to the DC environment in general.

    I’ve got some ideas, but I’d love to hear others from someone with more experience: What situations with your employees from your management experience stick out to you? Why? What situation did you feel most prepared to deal with as a manager? Least? Thanks!

    1. MT*

      From the DC world, the two most common issues deal with associate interactions and customer interactions. Associates asks for a day off, but doesn’t have any available time to use. And customer has an issue with a shipment.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Giving critical feedback (ask them to roleplay it)
      Talking to an employee who wants to take on responsibility you don’t think they’re ready for (again, role play it)
      High performer who doesn’t get along well with others
      Announcing and implementing a decision the staff disagrees with/doesn’t support

  55. chump with a degree*

    Why did someone (allegedly in the next department) reheat fried fish in the microwave yesterday? And why did my coworkers try to cover up the smell with something that smelled like rancid hair-oil?

    1. Sascha*

      Ugh, fish can be so awful. I had a former coworker who would microwave fish all the time, and the worst part was, he did it in the morning for his breakfast. So first thing you smell when coming to the office is microwaved fish.

      1. chewbecca*

        That’s grounds for firing in my book. I have a coworker who reheats Indian food at lunch, which is not as bad as fish, but it does have distinct smell that can tend to linger.

    2. Felicia*

      A former fish microwaver at my work was recently fired (for performance reasons, to fish) , but i am so glad i don’t have to put up with that smell

    3. Gene*

      Could be worse, we had an Engineering Tech come back in on a frog-strangling rainy day and attempt to dry his socks in the microwave. That was about 15 years ago, and sometimes if someone new(ish – new around here is less than 5 years) says, “Joe who?” and gets the reply “the socks in the microwave guy”, they know exactly who it is.

      1. NoTurnover*

        This happened in my office, too, long before I started working there, and is still mentioned to this day. You never get over being Socks in the Microwave Guy.

  56. TheExchequer*

    Today is going to be one of those days, so I sure can’t stay long, but does anyone have any tips on negotiating or just talking with clients when it’s obvious English is something they struggle with?

    1. Sascha*

      I did an internship overseas for 3 months and encountered this on a daily basis. My approach was just to be patient, don’t dumb down my language but try not to speak too quickly or use a lot of idioms. I would also repeat back to the client what I believed to be their points – I didn’t repeat back every sentence or anything, but basically just summaries throughout the conversation.

    2. Diet Coke Addict*

      Speak slowly and get used to repeating yourself, and try to monitor your speech for a lot of colloquialisms–instead of “Yeah, give me five and I’ll shoot that back to you” about an email, “I will try to return your email in 5 minutes or so” and the like. Whenever I’m speaking with someone in a different language whose pace wayyyy outstrips me, that’s what I appreciate most. And it can be hard to even notice you’re doing it.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        Excellent points. I’d add that email or even a bullet point of terms would help a non-native speaker, as a person’s reading comprehension is often much better than listening, especially if they have to translate in their head. The text gives them the ability to take their time and look it over.

    3. Blue_eyes*

      As in, they are not native English speakers? If that’s the case, try to consciously speak more slowly and annunciate more clearly and use words that someone learning the language is more likely to know (obviously don’t do it in a way that feels so exaggerated as to be insulting). After you’ve said something, repeat the information by rephrasing it another way. If you’re talking in person, try to use concrete samples of what you are talking about so they can see as well as hear the information. You could also write down the main points you are addressing. Many people’s ability to read in a second language is far better than their listening comprehension.

    4. Kate*

      I’d recommend you speak more slowly, and to repeat (sometimes it would take 3 or 4 times), and use as many other ways to communicate as you can (hand gestures, pointing to things you’re talking about, etc.), to help them understand. And if all else fails, use the most simple English (grammar & dictionary).
      And be kind, very kind and patient. Do not let them feel inferior because their English is not as good as yours. Focus on helping them understand. Be thoughtful.

      1. AB Normal*

        On top of that, please don’t keep repeating the same words over and over!
        If you say “for here or to go?” twice and the person doesn’t show sign of understanding, use different words, even if it’s a longer sentence, as in: “are you going to eat here, or take the food with you?”.

        Sometimes, repeating the same words just makes the person more nervous (“oh, no, she’ll continue to repeat the same thing, I can’t understand!”), whereas changing the words may help relax the listener, who may be able to combine part of the first phrasing with the second one to figure out the meaning.

    5. Janis*

      Rick Steves the travel write (and my Dream Boyfriend) speaks openly about how he can’t speak any language other than English but he has learned how to communicate by using simple words that are much more recognizable to non-English speaking people: Use car rather than automobile, train rather than Mtero/subway, toilet rather than restroom/bathroom (hard for us Americans to say, but perfectly acceptable for others), “where is” rather than “Excuse me, please, can you please tell me where X is”… I don’t think it’s dumbing down, I think it’s being realistic.

      When I was in France, relying on rusty college French, I would not have cared if they’d given me children’s books to read as long as they spoke slowly and enunciated carefully. And they did.

  57. CheeryO*

    Has anyone ever re-interviewed for a government position? I’ve been trying to get into a particular state agency all year, and a whole bunch of positions just opened up, including one that I interviewed for back in August. I’m just wondering if it will be awkward, considering that the interview will almost consist of the same rigid list of questions that I was asked last time. Should I try to build on my answers, or just pretend that the last interview never happened? (FWIW, both interviewers told me on my way out that I did a great job. I’m pretty sure I wasn’t hired because my exam score was lower than at least one other candidate’s.)

      1. De Minimis*

        I’ve been in that position before, but didn’t do so great in any of the interviews. It got almost comical after a while, I interviewed with one of the people at least 4 times, and after that I just gave up.

        It probably won’t be awkward, especially since they said you did well. I wouldn’t pretend the previous interview didn’t happen, but would just say something like “Nice to see you again,” assuming you have the same interviewers. If there’s something you can build on and improve from last time, I’d certainly do it, but it sounds like you interviewed well before so I would not worry too much about it.

    1. Case of the Mondays*

      My husband applied and interviewed but didn’t get the job and then applied again and interviewed and got the job. One of the tough questions they asked him was “why do you think you didn’t get the job last time?” This was a fed job though and he was already a fed, just with another agency.

  58. Lamington*

    My boss just informed us he is being laid off at the end of the year due to cost cut. The bigger cheese met with me and said my position will be OK. Now, I’m not sure how to act around my boss since I feel bad he is leaving specially after having a great year with our team winning 2 awards this year. My other coworker found a new position.

    1. CTO*

      Be the best employee you can be to him. Make sure to let him and others know how great he is to work with. Ask him if there’s a way you can be helpful in his job search.

      1. Camellia*

        This! And you can offer to be a reference for him; it’s an interesting perspective that future employers might appreciate. Also ask if he will be a reference for you.

    2. HR Manager*

      How is he feeling about it? Is he mopey, sad, or acting as normal? I’d take his behavior as a cue. If he looks a little upset, I’d offer consolation and support, but if it gets bad enough may be ask if he needs a day or two off. If he is so upset that it becomes distracting, maybe his manager needs to know to be able to manage this.

      You’re experiencing survivor’s guilt – this is not uncommon after a layoff. If your manager is still around, they must expect a transition of sorts, so find out how you can help him achieve that goal (and maybe let him feel comfortable to take some time to find the next thing) and have him exit on the best of terms.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Tell him pretty much what you said here.
      It’s okay not to be able to fix the situation. It’s not something any single person could fix.
      Definitely tell him the positives, great boss, 2 awards, etc. Your words will come back to him later on in a quiet moment when he needs that.

  59. Wondering Out Loud*

    Looking for the group’s input on my current situation. I’m wondering when it’s time to look for greener pastures. My husband thinks it’s time for me to move on, and sometimes I agree, but other times I don’t want to leave. When do you know? My current situation outlined below:
    -Been in my current role for 8 years, have grown in the role, taken on new challenges/responsibilities over the year and learned a ton.
    -Not currently paid appropriately for my workload and responsibilities. Has been addressed with my manager, and essentially was told I’m paid as much as I can for me role. (If I make too much more I’d make more than those “above” me on the totem pole.)
    -I really, truly, enjoy my day-to-day work. Yes there is stress, there are negatives, but most days I’m quite happy with what I’m doing.
    -My manager trusts me … SO much. This is the biggest part that would be hard to give up. I have a GREAT manager, we have a great relationship. She trusts me to the moon and back, she has very high expectations and keeps bringing me new challenges if I get bored. As a results of the trust I have a fairly flexible schedule (technically 9-5, but she doesn’t care about the hours as long as the work gets done, which it does. *I salaried.)
    -The thorn: a colleague, Jill, who I believe is an “untouchable” (probably related to someone very high up) who is essentially “blocking” my path to actual growth, up the ladder. She is not responsible for much, produces no work, has no expertise, yet she is in the role I should be in, but as long as she’s here… I stay where I am.

    Now, I don’t want to move elsewhere just to get away from Jill. I would feel like I’m letting her bully me in my career path. But I also have to be honest with myself. As long as Jill is here (and why the heck would she leave? fat paycheck/minimal work) I don’t see how I could take the next step, unless I move to a different business segment, etc.

    Thoughts? Input? Advice? Suck it up buttercup? I welcome anything! Thanks in advance!

    1. Seal*

      I’m in a similar situation, although in my case my previous director (who I report to) was almost completely hands-off. When he left a few months ago, everyone hoped that his replacement (the former deputy director) would make some much-needed changes to the organizational structure. Although I have no doubt he will do good things here, he has clearly indicated he has no intention of addressing an organizational structure all of middle management considers to be fundamentally flawed. This means that while I am a highly successful department manager who likes what I do, there is no opportunity for growth or upward mobility here. Since I am underpaid for what I do both due to location and the fact that raises are based on seniority, plus the fact that my goal is to move into administration, I am actively searching for another job. For me, the negatives far outweigh the positives of where I work, so I’m planning to leave – that’s really the question you need to answer for yourself.

    2. J.B.*

      How much frustration does the lack of progression cause? I would say look around but take your time to find really the right fit. It can take a while.

    3. The IT Manager*

      I’d be you in that the perks (great boss, flexible hours) sound like they outweigh the negatives (unknown upward mobility and no pay raise without it), and I would put off the job search. Great boss and flexible schedule are very, very important to satisfaction and the “great boss” part is very hard to asscertain before being in the job so you risk losing a lot by leaving the job.

      1. Wondering Out Loud*

        The lack of upward mobility causes moderate frustration. To be completely honest – I notice it most when I come in direct contact with Jill’s lack of work. Essentially, when it’s thrown in my face by her (intentionally? maybe?) or by others inadvertently.

        The great boss piece I think is the main reason I have not put my resume out there. I’ve updated it… but that’s it so far. I’ve worked for crappy bosses and so-so bosses, and having a GREAT boss is so rare. I think I still have some thinking/soul-searching to do. Thanks for the input!!

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Food for thought. I really doubted I would find a good boss. And yeah that trust thing is huge. I changed jobs and my new boss grew to trust me faster than my old boss. I think that people who are used to being trusted employees, telegraph that to new bosses, some how. If you decide to job hunt decide that you will interview the interviewer in order to try to protect yourself a little more from bad bosses.

  60. KellyK*

    I’m leaving my current job, and I’m trying to figure out what to say in the exit interview. How forthcoming to be about issues, that is. For background, I’m a tech writer, editor, and QA person, and I’ve been here for 9 years. This has been the only job I’ve had in this industry—before this, I taught middle school English. The new gig is in the same industry, similar work, but a much wider variety of projects. Currently, I’m doing QA for interactive tech manuals, and the new position will include more writing and document formatting, and will be supporting multiple projects.

    Some of the issues with the current job are either things I don’t see changing or things that shouldn’t affect my replacement. For example, I work at one office, while my supervisor and everyone I work with directly is in another office in another state. So there’s all the communication issues and being left out of the loop that seems to be a natural part of being a remote employee. My replacement is in the same office with everyone else, so that won’t be an issue for him.

    On top of that, the work hasn’t been steady. It seems like I’m either up to my ears with 50 modules to review ASAP, or I’m getting two, or zero, in a day. (To put that in perspective, I can usually review 2-3 an hour. The occasional monstrosity with 60 steps takes a couple hours, but the simple ones run anywhere from 10-40 minutes.) It’s a valid issue to bring up, but I don’t know if it’s fixable.

    There’s also some tension with writers who don’t seem happy if I suggest any changes, although I think that’s pretty universal. One in particular is okay with simple, blatant stuff (“You spelled that word wrong”) but accuses me of messing up their schedule and productivity when I suggest punctuation changes or that they put figure captions in title case or hyphenate a term the same way every time. They also tend to not check things back in when they’re supposed to. I’m not sure if