open thread – November 14, 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.

* If you submitted a question to me recently, please don’t repost it here, as it may be in the to-be-answered queue :)

{ 891 comments… read them below }

  1. TCO*

    I just wanted to share a little “good employer” story to brighten up your Friday. I started a new job a few months ago and was hired at the same time as three others. We were all given the same title but different duties and pay; our experience and education varies pretty widely. The four of us were chatting yesterday about our hiring process. It turns out that all of us were very pleased with our initial salary offers. I negotiated for a little more anyway, but everyone else accepted the offer they were given.

    Not only did I get the higher salary I asked for, but then the hiring manager went to the other three and offered them more pay totally unsolicited after they had already accepted the job! I guess our leadership wanted us to feel like we were all being compensated fairly in comparison to the others, so they made sure to preserve the “gaps” they had set up between us.

    It’s pretty rare to find an employer so concerned with fair compensation and employee happiness that they’ll give four people raises when only one asked for it. It made me all the more impressed with my office’s leadership. There are good employers out there, people!

  2. drt*

    Hi everyone! Job application question: I applied for a really good job at a company I really like last night. After I created my account and applied for the position, however, I could see the list of all available job openings. One is the exact job I applied for, but a “senior” version. At first I didn’t think much of it because I haven’t been in the field all that long, but then I noticed it only wanted 3 years of examples, which I have and then some.

    So the senior role is doing almost exactly what I applied for, but with stated better hours, (presumably) more money, better title and some added responsibilities. I think my experience and accomplishments really line up for that role, and while I’d take the lesser of it got me in the door there, the senior role would be so ideal for what I’m looking for.

    Since it’s essentially the same job, though, for the same boss in the same department, do I apply for the senior position and mention the general roll application in my cover letter? Do I need to drastically rewrite my cover letter, even though the bulk of the work is the same?

    Or would I say, wait until I (if I) got an interview offer and ask them if I’m able to be considered for both, or would I mention it during the questions part of an actual interview and mention that I say they also had a senior role of be interested in being considered for if that was possible?

    I know I’ve seen people writing about applying for more than one job at the same company on here before, but I’m feeling uncertain what to do some it’s essentially the same job, just one that is considered introductory while the other is more advanced.

    Thanks so much for any insights!

    1. MsM*

      I think it’s more likely they’ll also consider you for the less senior position if you go for the more senior one than vice versa, so I’d shoot for what you want, emphasize just how much you’d love to work for the company in your cover letter, and go from there.

    2. A.*

      Submit an application for both positions. I wouldn’t wait until an interview to tell them I’m also interested in another. You never know, they could choose to interview you for one and not the other. Also, I wouldn’t drastically change my cover letter. Just add any additional information that may show you’re qualified for a more senior role (i.e. supervisory experience, project management, etc.) Good luck!

    3. HR Generalist*

      Submit for both jobs. You can use the same application, but modify for the application position name, date, etc. Some smaller companies may automatically consider you but I do HR for a federal organization and we cannot consider a candidate unless they applied for that specific competition prior to the deadline.

      In general, all of our competitions are handled completely separately, so the hiring manager wouldn’t see the resumes for the other competition until we had properly handled the first one.

  3. EmmaB*

    Is there anything that I can do for a friend who is having issues with job search motivation?

    Some quick background: We graduated from the same college in 2011 with Liberal Arts BAs. We didn’t have jobs lined up after college so we both did a little traveling, volunteering, and working retail. After a year of that, I really knuckled down to job searching and found my first full time job a year later. I’ve now been in my job for eight months. It’s not what I want to do for the rest of my life but it is job experience that things I want to do down the road require, plus some much needed money.

    My friend, on the other hand, does not seem to have any focus on job searching, nor a desire to gain it. Last weekend, I tried to talk to her about it and she didn’t have much to say. She still wants to do more traveling and is far more concerned with planning a trip abroad next year (one funded by her parents) than looking for a job, despite her own desire to not work retail for the rest of her life. She’s mentioned trying to find a job abroad, mostly being an Au Pair or teaching English, but she has absolutely no background in working with kids and I know her well enough that I really don’t think she’d like it. I know she’d much rather be a tourist having fun than doing work in a foreign country.

    After our conversation, she made some vague Tweets about how much anxiety she gets job searching; that she’ll find a job posting but get so nervous about applying that she’ll put it off for a week and then it’s gone when she comes back. I gave her one of the best pieces of advice I ever got from this blog, to apply to a posting and then completely forget about it and move on to the next one, but she’s not taking it to heart. She also Tweets that her parents are putting more pressure on her to find a job with causes her to stress out even more. She’s a very sensitive person who gets anxiety easily.

    She’s not a lazy and spoiled rich kid who thinks she can live off her parents forever and I know she does have things she’d enjoy doing as a career; I think she just hasn’t had the wake-up call from reality that myself and the rest of our friends needed. But she resists all attempts to talk about it. She’s one of my dearest friends and I’m really legitimately worried that she’s messing up her future. Any advice for helping her?

    1. TCO*

      Do you want to help because you’re concerned that her anxiety is getting in the way of what she really wants to do? Or are you just worried that her path looks different than yours? You can’t mother your friend into a job. It’s just not healthy, and it’s rarely successful. You have to let her make her own choices even when they are different from yours.

      That said, you can offer your friend some support about calming her anxiety and applying for jobs–IF that’s what she really wants to be doing. But do it gently and only if she indicates that your help is actually welcome. Alison has some great advice in the archives about helping a friend job-search and I recommend you read up on those.

      1. EmmaB*

        I don’t care that it’s a different path than me. We have dozens of friends who all have different paths: in grad school, in their dream jobs, successfully working abroad, in part time work but are enthusiastically looking for full-time, any number of things. I’m concerned because she’s the only one who is not being active and working towards something.

        I’m not turning her into an unhealthy obsession. I know I can’t force her to do anything. I’m just worried about her. I’ll look further into the archives, thanks for the tip,

        1. BRR*

          Unless she asks for help I would let it go. It just won’t end well. I’m not on twitter so I’m not sure how it works but I would hide her tweets. It sounds like she’s more concerned about complaining about her situation than taking action to change it.

        2. TCO*

          It sounds like you still have a limited view of what “success” can or should look like in your peer group. Everyone besides your friend is striving, working hard to achieve their dreams, and putting their degree to use. Your friend is on a different path, but that doesn’t make it a bad one. It might help to realize that you’re measuring her success based on others’ standards. If she’s happy, be happy for her. If she’s not happy, gently support her as she explores the root cause of that unhappiness–but that’s up to her to explore, not you to define.

          1. JB*

            I didn’t get that at all from her post. It sounds like she knows that her friend isn’t doing what she needs to for her friend to accomplish what her friend has said she wants. That’s not saying “there’s only one definition of success, and it’s mine,” that’s saying “My friend has said she wants X but I don’t see how she’ll get there on this path, and the longer she goes down this path, the harder it will be for her to get to X.”

            But I agree that it’s not possible to talk people into doing what you think is best for them. If it were me, I would have a conversation with her about how you are concerned because she says she wants to do XYZ, but she won’t take anyone’s advice on it, and she isn’t doing anything about it on her own. Then I’d offer to help her with getting her job search going if she wants that kind of help, but then not bring it up again.

            If she brings it up and talks about being stressed about it, I would tell her that if she has anxiety issues or worries about her life’s path or anything bigger than job searching help, you’re not the expert she needs to talk to, but you can help her find someone who is. And I’d tell her that it’s causing you stress to see here stressed about a situation she can’t or won’t get out of, and therefore you need to limit talking about the same issue over and over. Then if she brings it up, just repeat something along the lines of “I’m not really qualified to help you with that.”

            Bottom line: make it clear that if you she needs help figuring out how to job search, you’ll be there, and then don’t bring it up again. If she brings it up, repeat that you can help if she needs it, and then change the subject if she just says the same thing over again. If she talks about bigger worries or anxieties, tell her you can’t help with that but you support her. You can’t fix her, you can’t make her want to fix it, you can only make sure you aren’t getting stressed out by what is either just a longer path to her goals or the beginning of a life of talking about goals she’ll never accomplish. It sounds harsh to not be more helpful, but there’s really nothing you can do even if you are 100% correct.
            Source: vast personal experience

    2. soitgoes*

      It sounds like she doesn’t want (or really need) the help, at least not right now. She doesn’t have to knuckle down and get a grown-up job if she has support from other sources. In short: she doesn’t have to be exactly like you.

      As you get older, you’ll come across more and more people who tend bar, wait tables, and work retail their whole lives. Moving up the ladder just isn’t a priority for them.

    3. LisaLisa*

      Let her live her life? If she asks for advice, by all means give it, but I don’t think you need to be guiding her to the path of jobfullness unsolicited. Some people take difference paths in life and I don’ think not finding your perfect career path 3 years out of college is “messing up your future.”

    4. Museum Educator*

      Yeah, I don’t think there is much you can do here. Your friend has to find her own way and will at some point. I agree with what TCO said. You can continue to offer her support and advice when issues come up. Also, if she is such a dear friend, can you just be candid with her about your worries? Perhaps having an open conversation about it will reveal some things to both of you. Maybe it’s just not a priority for her like it is for you. If she can work retail and still travel, maybe thats more important to her. Or maybe there are some issues she hasn’t truly voiced and if you get to the root of it you could offer more targeted advice.

    5. Observer*

      I see three possible issues here.

      One – she’s more spoiled than you give her credit for, and she won’t get her “wake up call” unless and until her parents stop pressuring her, and instead give her a cut off date for the the extras, and possibly even the general allowance.

      Second possibility is that the anxiety is really what’s holding her up. In that case, her parent’s pressure are not helpful. The only thing a wake up call might do for her is to get her to deal with the anxiety – but she needs to realize that this is really the issue at hand.

      From what you say, I think there may be a bit of both. But, there is really nothing you can do about her parents enabling her to coast. There is not too much you can do about the anxiety. But, if you are really close, you COULD broach it – ONCE. You need to be totally non-judgemental about it. And the focus is not on the job hunting per se, but on the fact that her anxiety seems to be keeping her from moving ahead with her life. Something like “I’m concerned that your anxiety seems to be keeping you from moving ahead with your career. Have you thought about finding someone who can help you deal with that?”

      Lastly, she may have come to realize that she is not cut out for / does not want to pursue the path the her education was meant to prepare her for, and she doesn’t really know how to deal with that. I’m not sure how I would approach that issue, though.

      1. Alice*

        The Emma B’s friend reminds me so much of myself. I am battling anxiety, and her behaviors echo mine. I’ve posted worries to social media, but when it comes to talking with friends I will talk about ANYTHING ELSE. “Nope, everything is rosy. Did you hear about my trip? Please don’t make me panic right now.”
        No advice here, just sympathy?

    6. Vancouver Reader*

      Like the famous Dorothy Parker quote says, “you can lead a horticulture but you can’t make her think.” So you can talk til you’re blue in the face about what she should do, but the onus is on her to follow through. You’re a good friend to support her emotionally.

    7. Kitty*

      As you said, she may need that wake-up call; she’ll have to find that on her own, though. If she doesn’t have the drive to job-search for herself, then there’s not much you can do.
      You’ve tried talking to her, and she seems to be resisting your help. If she had come to you herself and asked for advice and help with her career planning, then I would say you could do your best to share information about strategies that worked for you, resources (like AAM), etc. However, it seems that she would rather tweet vaguely and not address the issue, so in this case I think you have to let her work through this on her own. You can certainly be there for her as a supportive friend if she needs help or someone to vent to, but you just can’t save someone’s future for them.

      Sometimes the best way to help people is to let them figure out how to help themselves.

      1. College Career Counselor*

        You guys beat me to much of the advice I would have given (she has to want to change her circumstances, you can’t mother into a job, etc.). I work with a lot of students who are “at sea” with their job search because they don’t exactly know what they want to do, they have motivation problems, are dealing with anxiety, are afraid of making a huge mistake/committing to one field, etc. All of which aggregate into a huge pile of “I don’t know what I want to do and it’s hard, so I’ll do as little as possible because that’s easier.”

        If you’re interested in being helpful, you MIGHT say something like “the anxiety you have seems to be preventing you from moving forward–have you considered getting professional help to assist?” that could be anything from counseling for depression/anxiety, to medication, to reconnecting with your alma mater’s career services department. I don’t know what their reputation is, but I bet they offer job/career counseling assistance to alumni. And if she’s not looking for fulltime/professional opportunities, they likely have resources for a gap year or abroad option.

        Sometimes starting small (volunteer work) in a field/area of potential interest can provide a sense of accomplishment and clarify what she might need to do to move forward full time. But not if she’s not also somewhat motivated to change the circumstances. And that might have more to do with her parents starting to implement deadlines/conditions than anything else.

        1. Daydreamer*

          I second the professional support for her anxiety. It can be really hard to feel scared/insecure/anxious when it comes to applying for jobs (even after counselling to deal with my own anxiety, I struggle with seeing myself as a worthwhile candidate — my own worst critic), and getting advice and pressure from friends and family can really make it worse.

          And offer to be there as she needs someone – like someone else suggested, to review cover letters or resumes, or to just be a sounding board. But don’t offer solutions or constantly act like a “You can do this!!” cheerleader, bringing her out of her anxious place. She needs to learn how to do that for herself. (Again, I’ve learned that from experience — hard work but damn worth it)

          I wish her lots of luck!

    8. Allison*

      It sounds like she’s getting enough pressure from her parents to get a job, and you trying to motivate her, or give her a wake-up call from reality, or whatever other form of tough love you may think she needs, is only going to make things worse and make her more resistant to get out there. She needs support, she needs positive reinforcement when she does apply somewhere.

      When I was job hunting, I definitely didn’t appreciate a bunch of people getting involved in the process. My parents were one thing, since my lack of a job did impact them – but all my friends piling on advice, tough love, demands for details and attempts to figure out what I was doing wrong may have had the best intentions, but only made me feel worse, which didn’t help.

    9. Helka*

      It’s not your job.

      If she needs a wake-up call, your words thrown at her when she’s not interested in hearing them obviously do not constitute that call. Keeping up the pressure is only going to recategorize you from “friend” to “source of anxiety.”

      The next time she tweets about her parents’ pressure and how anxious she feels, I’d suggest telling her something like this: “Hey, I know the job hunt is really intimidating for you. If you want someone to talk you through writing a cover letter, helping you proofread your resume, or pep-talking you before an interview, I’m definitely there and really happy to help you. Just ask me, I’m only a text message/phone call/IM away.” And then drop it. Move on to other things. Be her friend, not a third parent adding to that crushing pressure. She knows she can ask you for help or moral support.

      Going forward from that point, before you open your mouth to say anything about her job hunt or lack thereof, ask yourself, “Am I giving her new information that I reasonably believe she has never heard before?” If the answer is no, then don’t say it.

    10. Future Analyst*

      I have a friend who’s also looking for work, but gets too worked up and stressed to actually apply for the job. I think it’s better to address the anxiety aspect than the job aspect– once she can get a handle on her emotions, the rest should follow. I would suggest that she talk to someone (therapist, etc.) who can help her work through what’s making her so anxious and stressed (and you can obviously also talk to her about how she’s feeling). And I wouldn’t tell her that you’re worried about messing up her future– ultimately, most people get jobs at some point, in some fashion, and even if it’s an incredibly winding road, she’ll figure out where she wants to go. Hearing from her friends and parents that they’re worried about her future will likely just make her feel more anxious and less in control of her own life.

    11. Danielle*

      Interesting. In my opinion being an au pair is a great experience. I was one for almost a full year and it a great experience. It’s like becoming that big sister that they never had and/or wanted.

      It’s not your job to find your friend a career path or a calling. It’s also not your place to determine what is a valid or exciting experience. If she complains then as an adult you hide her updates.

      1. JB*

        I don’t think the OP was saying it wasn’t good experience for someone, she just didn’t think this friend would enjoy that type of work. I think it can be a wonderful experience and have several friends I would have recommended doing it at that age, but it sure wouldn’t have been a good idea for me.

        1. JB*

          Nope, Danielle said, “Interesting. In my opinion being an au pair is a great experience.” I wondered if maybe she had interpreted EmmaB’s original post about her friend not being right for an au pair job as saying it’s not good experience or waste of time.

          1. Bee*

            Yeah, I thought Danielle’s comment was meant to be somewhere else. Didn’t have much to do with EmmaB’s post.

    12. Vanilla*

      I was in a very similar situation until recently – a friend of mine lost their job earlier this year and has been looking for a job since. They would ask for advice but then get very argumentative/defensive when anyone would offer help/assistance. Several AAM readers provided great advice, which I will paraphrase here:

      1. She may very well need a “wake-up” call. She may have to hit her personal rock bottom or a point where she is forced to change/reevaluate her tactics.

      2. Don’t offer advice, especially if you don’t think it will be taken well. Basically, you can offer the most practical, helpful advice in the world but if someone isn’t open to receiving it, it will not do any good. If your friend asks directly for advice, adjust your expectations accordingly. In my situation, I basically stopped giving advice (even when asked) because it was a wasted effort and just made both of us frustrated.

    13. GigglyPuff*

      Yeah, I’d say stay out of it. My best friend is like that, and after a while, I’m certainly there to listen to her talk about everything, offer advice if she asks, but beyond that, there’s nothing I can do.

      The only thing I might suggest is, next time she brings up a job posting, suggest meeting up at a coffee shop for some scheduled “study hall” time. And ask if she wants another opinion on her cover letter or resume, etc…but beyond that you have to let it go, or else it does wear you down over time. For me, I just had to accept this is way my friend does things, and if she ever really needs help/support system, I’ll be there.

      And it might help, that if in person, she’s discussing all her problems but unwilling to do anything about it, just tell her, that unless she’s asking for help, since she’s not doing anything about it, you’d prefer to stop hearing about it. Might sound of like a jerk thing to say, but it might make her think about it more every time she starts to complain about the stress.

    14. Anx*

      I’m probably projecting a bit, but I am sure anxiety is the issue and not actually motivation.

      I know for me, I naively believed growing up that all you needed was some motivation, hard work, and persistence to make something happen for yourself. It was incredibly unnerving to put myself out there over and over again and be rejected over and over again. I knew how important finding a job was, but that only made me more stressed. I already had the motivation.

      Eventually the pressure caused me to shut down. I’d conflate worrying about an application with actually doing it.

      My biggest obstacle was being afraid that I only had one shot with each employer, and there were so few openings that were appropriate. I’d think, “maybe I should wait until I can really research this company more” or try to get some experience volunteering just for that position, and then of course it would be gone.

      I don’t have any advice but I think it’s very likely that your friend does take this seriously and is deflecting some questions because the lack of success is so incredibly painful.

      1. JB*

        My sister went through that when we were right out of college. She didn’t think she was good enough for any job. I finally came across a job I thought she’d be great at and told her I was sending in her resume and that it wouldn’t do any harm because they wouldn’t call her if they didn’t think she was qualified. She worked that job for seven years. She let the same kind of worry you describe hold her back.

        But although I was sending in her resume whether she wanted me to or not, we have that kind of relationship. Generally you can’t just take charge of somebody’s job search for them.

        1. JB*

          I should also add that she really wanted that job, she just wasn’t going to apply because she thought she’d never get it.

    15. AnotherHRPro*

      All you can really do is let her know that you are concerned for her. Not because she hasn’t made progress in finding a job, but in her wellbeing. Specifically, that she is experiencing so much anxiety and it seems that it is keeping her from doing things that she wants to do. Then just listen and offer your support. From what you write is sounds like she could use some professional help in dealing with anxiety. We all handle stress differently and needing help is not a sign of weakness of failure. If she is open to seeing someone, please be supportive.

    16. Not So NewReader*

      Lots of really great advice here.

      The first thing that jumped out at me was her parents are paying for another trip and yet they are nagging her to get a job. Until the parents figure out cause and effect relationships here, you are going to continue seeing more of the same.

      My point is that there is more than one thing going on here.

      I think most of us “get it” about job search anxiety. We all have some type of issue about job hunting, all of us. Those of us having more than one issue can be facing paralysis because of being so over-wrought. Think about anxiety for a minute, what is it? Well, sometimes it has a physical basis and/or it has a basis in fear of the unknown. If she is the last one in the group to anchor herself into something that alone can be high pressure- this can exasperate anxiety.
      My suggestion is pretty simple. Tell her to start reading AAM daily. She can go at her own pace. She can read it in private, so she can just sit and absorb what is being said. And she can do this from almost anywhere that has internet. She can ask questions and collect up tips.

      If she is reading the crap that is out there on how to job hunt and thinking that is how to handle a job search that has to be raising her anxiety levels, too.

      I think that the best you can do is encourage her to think in terms of the next five years. What would she like to do for the next five years? Try to get across to her that she is not doomed to stay at Miserable Employer, Inc for the rest of her life. If you can, use yourself as an example. “I am at Happy Job, Inc. But I don’t know if I will stay there or move on. Maybe I will get promoted, but maybe I won’t- I don’t know. And all that is okay. It’s fine not to know all these things.”

      Also as her friend, you can point out to her things she is good at. And you can point it out in the moment that you see it. “Oh you know, you have always been great at writing.” Or “You’re the only person I know that can do such a wonderful job arranging flowers.” This is a crock-pot solution because you are going to have to wait for the comment to settle in and incubate. She will remember it later.

      1. JAL*

        Having someone with anxiety think about the next 5 years is a nightmare and causes more panic and stress and worrying….

        1. Not So NewReader*

          yeah, this could be happening also. But if she is thinking about the rest of her life, she can be encouraged to break her time in to smaller segments. Some people will happily plan out 6 months or a year from now and totally freeze up if they have to plan out 10 years from now. Differences in people.
          I should have been a little more clear. I think that if OP focuses on finding what her friend is willing to do and encouraging those things she will gain more ground. And it will put OP in a good spot of cheering her friend on, as opposed to being weighted down with concern.

    17. JAL*

      Job searching with anxiety is hard. It sucks, and it’s overwhelming and causes a lot of panic, especially for someone who is sensitive to stress or changes in life. I know from experience with my anxiety, it pays off to be picky with your job choice and where you want to apply. You need to account for a lot more compared to a person who doesn’t have any type of anxiety about this thing.

      It also annoys us to death when our friends put added pressure on us, so just think about that. If we ask for help, we want help.

  4. NOLA bound*

    I currently work from home two days a week, but I am about move a thousand miles and work from home full time. Any suggestions on things I should consider about full-time work from home when house hunting. My company requires a designated office, and I’d want that anyway.

    I am moving to New Orleans. My family is from the Louisiana area but definitely not the city. So I welcome advice related to living in NOLA too. I’m already disappointed to discover that fiber optic to the house won’t be an option for Internet service.

    1. HR Manager*

      Just had to note a former co-worker moved and had to work remotely from home without a private office set-up. To keep the kids out, she had to work out of her bathroom and lock the doors. Her stories used to crack me up.

      1. Iro*

        I WFH occasionally in a rural area with poor internet quality, you should be fine from the internet front. Think of this as an oppurtunity to choose and furnish your own office!

    2. brightstar*

      I lived in the NOLA area for a few years, what kind of advice about living there are you looking for?

    3. AvonLady Barksdale*

      We moved about 900 miles away and I took my job with me. The reason for our move was my boyfriend’s PhD, so that was an extra consideration. We moved from NYC and only have one car, so some of our house considerations may not apply, but here’s what we looked for:

      – Designated office space (which you already know about!) with space for both of us (we ended up turning the master bedroom into an office with room for both our desks, plus the master bath is en-suite, which is kind of nice!)
      – Places nearby that I can walk to– the car we have is mine and my bf usually walks to campus, but after living in Manhattan where I could walk a block for a cup of coffee, this was a huge consideration for us. On days where I reaaaalllly need to get out of the house, it’s nice to know I can walk to a deli or a yogurt place or a coffee shop and be back well within an hour and I don’t have to get in the car, deal with traffic, etc.
      – A fenced-in backyard for our dog– if you have a pup, it’s nice to be able to let them outside during conference calls!
      – You gotta love your space. My bf was in “student” mode (which is nuts because we’re both in our 30s and out of school for a long time) and kept suggesting neighborhoods full of students where we could spend nothing for a little apartment. NO WAY. I could afford it, so I wanted a place I could be happy sitting in for 24 hours/day.
      – Check the environment! If you need quiet while you work, pick a quiet neighborhood. If you like buzz, find a great downtown spot. Our neighborhood is in between; there’s a community a block away with a bunch of kids, and there are people around, but it’s quiet enough during the day that I can concentrate and make my noise if I have to.
      – Good wifi. Our house is relatively small, but I like knowing that I can take the laptop into the kitchen or in the backyard.

      There are a whole bunch of other things, but those were our basics. Good luck!

    4. stillLAH*

      Welcome! I work in NOLA but live out in Lafourche Parish (splitting the difference between my husband’s job). The food is delicious, the people are great, and the arts are everywhere. You’ll miss the worst part, which in my opinion, is commuting via I-10.

    5. NOLA*

      I live in NOLA and wfh a couple of days a week.

      My primary home office tip is to make sure the space has plenty of light (but few distractions). It helps me with motivation on tough days.

      Let me know if you have any specific questions on living in NOLA. Quick plug — I highly recommend the Algiers Point neighborhood on the West Bank. Historic houses, French Quarter is accessible by passenger ferry (or the bridge), and very laid back. We have a couple of good bars, an amazing take-away restaurant, record store, music store, etc. but no touristy crowds

      1. chewbecca*

        “My primary home office tip is to make sure the space has plenty of light (but few distractions). It helps me with motivation on tough days.”

        Yes! This! When I worked from home, I was in a basement surrounded by dark wood paneling and it was so dark and dreary.

    6. AnotherHRPro*

      I used to work from home and quickly learned I needed a space that was removed from the center of the house. For me, being near the kitchen, living room, front door, etc. meant that I was close to many, many distractions. It really depends on your work style but I really liked having a window that I look out while on conference calls.

    7. periwinkle*

      Last winter I took a position on the opposite coast; like you, my husband was working from home part of the time and was able to change that to full-time WFH. From our experience so far..
      1. The designated office must have a door. I don’t know if that’s a technical requirement, but it’s a sanity-saving one!
      2. If you’re easily distracted, find a house with office space that’s away from the main living area and/or has a boring view from the windows. Unfortunately my husband’s office is a bedroom with a splendid view of the Cascade Mountains. When we house-hunt next year, a basement office is on the wish list.
      3. Location can be important depending on your business needs. It might be really convenient to be near a FedEx Office or Staples/Office Depot if you need to ship packages or express mail often. Is there a place nearby where you can pick up an appropriate toner cartridge when you realize you forgot to stock up ahead of time?
      4. Isolation can be a problem. My husband doesn’t require much social interaction, but even he feels the need to get out once in a while. If you’d be interested in working out of a coffee shop once in a while, is there one nearby that seems congenial enough? Do you need other places for short workday breaks? Should they be within walking distance?

      We did not buy immediately, which I think was a good idea. We’ve had time to scout out this new city and to better understand what we need in and near the house.

  5. Natalie*

    We’ve talked a fair bit about misclassification here, so I was interested to see one of the “sharing economy” startups is being sued for practically every labor law violation in the book. They all ultimately stem from allegedly misclassifying employees as ICs. (Link in reply)

        1. Natalie*

          Oo, I saw that in the discussion of the wage thing. Those people sound like the absolute pits.

          Apparently the company started because some dude couldn’t find a service to clean his dorm room. I don’t usually pull the “entitled brats” card, but seriously – what kind of entitled brat can’t clean a 10 x 10 room?

              1. Natalie*

                That said, it appears it was misreported in the article and it was actually an apartment. Given that there are approximately 80 gajillion cleaning services out there, I suspect the actual issue is that he didn’t want to pay market rates.

                1. LadyTL*

                  Honestly when I was moving out of my rented room, I couldn’t find a cleaning service in the city that was willing to do a one time deal at any rate. Most of them only do regular service, not one time-deals. I wouldn’t have been happy to pay market rates, I just didn’t want to invite some sketchy craiglisted person to do it.

              2. Mister Pickle*

                OMG. I’d heard about this, but I only just now read the article. I want to slap most of those people. But I’m also feeling kind’ve sick to my stomach.

            1. Anon.*

              That’s fine and all, but he doesn’t exactly fit the humble starving student mold. Honestly, being someone who lived as the humble starving student (with minimal parental financial support to start and none after a couple of years), people like the owner of this company rub me the wrong way. This guy did come across as cocky and self-entitled and his business model shows it.

          1. Allison*

            Hey man, I’d imagine there are some pretty filthy dorm rooms out there. Some people suck at cleaning, some people overload themselves with classwork, sports, and clubs that they barely have time to sleep let alone clean. I myself had a dirty room at some points. Not that I’d pay someone to do it, but I can definitely see a market for that kind of service. As long as people are paid well and treated well. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like these people are.

            Odd that the founder clearly sees a lot of value in the service, but not the people who provide it.

            1. Senor Poncho*

              I would argue that, for the McKinsey/Harvard biz types — and for the most part, people generally — that’s a pretty typical outlook.

                1. Senor Poncho*

                  Eh? Maybe you’ve had different experiences than I have, but I don’t think that’s too controversial of a statement. We treat unskilled workers horribly in this country.

        2. Beyonce Pad Thai*

          Yes!! I’m so happy they’re not getting away with it. The comments on that article are really worth the read as well, several ex-employees chimed in.

        3. Allison*

          Wow, you weren’t kidding, that is horrifying! The casual sexism and racism in the office, 35k/yr for 12 hour days, in NYC, with no company-provided device or reimbursement for using your own? Big bucket of NOPE right there. Sounds like a place that employs desperate young people and exploits them, making them think they’re getting a good deal and getting away with it because the poor kids don’t know any better.

          1. AvonLady Barksdale*

            I know waaaayyyyy too many people who are so caught up in the “startups are awesome!” mentality that they overlook crappiness in search of the next big cool thing. This is from the employer AND the employee side. Then the startups go bust and everyone just moves on to the next one. Frustrating to watch.

            1. Mike C.*

              Yeah, the start up culture in SV is absolutely terrible. Breaking the law is not “disruptive”, sorry folks.

          2. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Yep, and I bet they’re not being paid overtime and they’re clearly non-exempt. I hope that’s the next suit Handy gets hit with — those employees could file for back wages.

            1. Zillah*

              If they’re routinely working 50+ hour weeks, they must be owed thousands of dollars in back wages, which is absurd.

          3. Anx*

            Yeah. I don’t know any better myself. I look around and I feel like I live in a completely different economy than my friends and family members that are just a few years older than me. I feel like I struck gold because my job pays more than 1o dollars an hour and I get paid for all hours worked. I think I’d die and go to heaven if I could make the FPL. I can’t imagine how much easier my life would be if I made 12K a year.

    1. Mike C.*

      Handy is f*cking terrible and I hope the employees unionize out of spite. I saw another article on Handy that discussed how if Handy were somehow charged with inappropriate tax withholding or incorrect employee classification that customers would be on the hook for all fines.

      Not that it’s enforceable in any way shape or form, but what a great way to show the courts that you had malicious intent!

      1. voluptuousfire*

        This does *not* surprise me. I’m in NYC and check out Craigslist for jobs occasionally and they spam terribly there.

        Yes, start up culture can suck. I worked for one at my last position and it was terrible. Nowhere near as bad as Handy, but it definitely had it’s downsides. It was also a crappy place to be if you were mid-career and weren’t related to the exec team in some way. If anything, that’s mentioned in a good quarter of their reviews on Glassdoor.

  6. Museum Educator*

    I work in an extremely niche field and its nearly impossible to find work locally to me. I have had to move to different states every time I’ve taken a new position. However, yesterday I came across a job posting for a position in my field that I am very qualified for and is local to me. The only thing is that the posting says that all applications were to be submitted by November 7th at 5:00 pm. I’m so frustrated that I didn’t see it because I am constantly searching.


Is there any way I can still apply for this? The job posting is still up on their website with directions on how to submit. Should I even bother? If so, how out of line would this be and is there a good way to address it in my cover letter?

If it makes a difference, this is for a position at a museum that is part of a university.

    1. Audiophile*

      I’d definitely still apply. On more than one occasion I’ve applied and been interviewed for jobs, where the stated deadline had passed.

        1. Audiophile*

          No. Just apply. I never addressed it. Because if they’re not aware of it or have forgotten about it, now you’ve brought their attention to it.

          1. Museum Educator*

            Oh, huh. Interesting thought. What do you think about what JMegan and I were saying below. Does it look like I can’t follow directions then?

            1. Audiophile*

              Eh I don’t know. I can only tell you what I’ve done and what’s worked. I will say I’ve acknowledged it interviews, like ‘oh I noticed…’ And it was never an issue. You can certainly acknowledge it, but it’s just not something I’ve done myself.

    2. Museum Educator*

      Additionally, any suggestions for how to address job gaps due to difficulty finding work in a niche field in my cover letter?

      1. Liz*

        People in museums already know :) I would make it clear you’ve been contract to contract (assuming) but don’t worry about it.

        1. Museum Educator*

          True. I’ve never addressed it before and it’s never been questioned. My positions have all been short term or part time and I have that pointed out on my resume.

          1. Liz*

            That’s good to hear. I work in museums too and highly recommend emailing your application with a fabulous cover letter, I wouldn’t waste other people’s time with a phone call. Especially if you don’t know people there. If it’s local though it shouldn’t be a problem to get it into the hiring manager via your network, I’d do that assuming you are a strong candidate.

            1. Museum Educator*

              There are not a lot of museums in my area and I don’t have much of a local network. I am also not sure who the hiring manager is. The posting just says “Search Coordinator”. I’ve googled and googled and can’t find who it is. The museum is also not on linked in and I don’t see any connections to this place at all. Also no email for resume admission, just a fax!

              1. Andrea*

                Educator here also. Does the museum you are looking at not have a website? I’d definetly fax the letter and resume though without calling.

                1. Museum Educator*

                  There is a website that is part of the university website. It lists a few of the very high up individuals. There is no way to know who is the actual hiring manager for this position.

            2. Museum Educator*

              As to the fabulous cover letter… Is this good, terrible? I have been struggling with it. Sometimes I nail it and sometimes I think its awful and I freely admit that I have lost all perspective. Somewhat embarrassed to post it here but I could use an opinion.

              Here goes…

              Dear Search Coordinator;

              Yesterday I came across your posting for the Program Associate position on I was immediately excited to see an opening of this nature that is local to me and at the architecturally stunning X Center. I see from the job ad on your website that the position closed on November 7th, so I appreciate your taking the time to review my application. I feel I would be an excellent candidate for this position and I couldn’t let this opportunity pass by without introducing myself.

              I’ve been involved in a variety of museums and non-profit organizations in various capacities; occasionally as a designer, marketer, or technical guru, often as an educator and coordinator, and always as an administrator. I thrive in a fast paced environment where I get to dip my fingers into many pots. I’m very hands on. I genuinely enjoy coordinating, planning, and managing schedules and programs; particularly when I have chance to absorb a new subject or increase my own knowledge and skills.

              I have a passion for the arts because they push us to tap our inner potentials and lead richer, more meaningful lives. Beyond that, I believe exposure to innovative concepts, as well as establishing connections with others, is essential to pushing the boundaries of our knowledge. These are some of the reasons why I got into the this field and why I want to contribute to a cultural organization such as the X Center. Additionally, I am very driven, passionate, creative, and hold myself and others to high ethical standards, all personal assets that I believe are critical to the success of your projects and organizational integrity.

              Thank you for taking the time to review my application. Being a part of the X Center family would be a great honor that I feel would benefit us both. I would love to meet with you to discuss the position in more detail.

              Museum Educator

              Please be brutally honest… I can take it.

              1. fposte*

                My brutal honesty is not about the content of the cover letter, but that it is near COB on Friday afternoon a week after this position’s stated close–you need to submit the materials today and not wait longer to get feedback.

                1. Museum Educator*

                  Good point. I submitted it but it was after COB. Also had to go by fax so hopefully it will get seen. I’m always nervous about whether a fax goes through or not.

              2. Steve G*

                Well you certainly are passionate about this job! It is obvious it is tailored to this company and job, and that you really want to work there – you aren’t just some candidate applying to every job available in a field.

                The only items I would “improve” (and I may be wrong on these):
                1) The first line is weak. For every job I’ve ever gotten, I wrote “I am enthusiastically applying for Xyz position posted on…..,” bolding and underlying the job so it sticks out to someone who has to sift through a lot. I think my line is more straightforward than yours. Of course, mine could be bad, but I did job hop a lot in my 20s using my standard CL.
                2) I do think the 2nd to last paragraph is not strong for the purpose of getting a job. Some of the items are a bit cliché and non-specific. I think it would be better to write about some of the specific items you did at your past jobs. For example, “because I have a passion for the arts because they push us to tap our inner potentials and lead richer, more meaningful lives, I have: 1) worked with local artists to host the first local art night at xyz museum, which drew in 100 more visitors per day than during regular exhibitions, etc…..”

                1. Museum Educator*

                  Thanks so much for the feedback! That is really helpful. I always struggle with this and seeing how you phrased it in your example at the end is really useful. Gives me some ideas.

                  I also like your suggestion to add descriptive words like “enthusiasm” to the opening line and to underline the job. Good strategies to get attention.

    3. JMegan*

      It’s not going to hurt you to apply late – or it shouldn’t, anyway. They may have specific rules about not accepting applications after the deadline, in which case they just won’t look at it. But nobody is going to think badly of you just for sending it in. Is there a number you can call to see if they’re still accepting applications?

      As for addressing it in your cover letter, I would say something like “I see from the job ad that the position closed on Nov 7, so I appreciate your taking the time to review my application.” Don’t just ignore it, or they’ll think you don’t pay attention to details – but don’t make a big thing of it either, just acknowledge that it’s coming in late and move on.

      As an aside, isn’t it frustrating when this happens? When I was job searching, I had so many alerts and notifications set up, and I regularly reviewed all the job boards I could think of, and I *still* missed some good opportunities. So I have no advice on that part, just sympathy. Good luck on your search!

      1. Museum Educator*

        I like how you worded that. I definitely didn’t want to ignore it for just the reason you mentioned. I don’t want it to look like I can’t follow directions. There is a number I could call. The draw back to that is the chance they could say they aren’t accepting applications and then I can’t get my resume in front of them. Or perhaps that is over thinking it. I guess they wouldn’t know who I am.

        And YES! I have tons of alerts and look daily at all the boards. If I type in “museum” into major job boards I barely get any results so I really don’t know how I missed it. Perhaps because the job title isn’t typical for the role. But yeah, I’ll definitely apply.


        1. JMegan*

          But if they’re not accepting applications, then you won’t get your resume in front of them anyway, right? You have nothing to lose at this point!

        2. Amanda*

          Just as a heads up on this – and for reference I agree with everyone else, submit the application! – museum jobs are almost never posted on major job boards. You need to look at museum-specific sites, like the AAM job listings or the HistPres blog listings. Mayyyybe If you have a regional museum association they’ll have job listings too. The market is starting to open up again, finally – good luck!

          PS – if there’s any chance you’re in New England, reply to this and I’ll send you some region-specific job sites.

          1. Museum Educator*

            I am in NY (Long Island).

            I am a member or AAM and look there regularly for jobs, as well as HistPres and I love Idealist because I have a lot of experience in non-profits. They hardly ever have anything in my area because there are virtually no museums here. I am not too close to the NYC and Long Island is fairly isolated from everything else. I have a whole slew of websites that I do search for museum jobs, but I would love more resources. Can’t get enough of those.

            1. League of Librarians*

              You should also try – I know you’re not a librarian, but I see museum jobs on there fairly regularly. Or you might see something that’s not *quite* a museum job, but is super duper close.

        3. Midge*

          I have that problem with job boards, too. Also, LinkedIn sends me tons of job postings for collections agencies because I’ve done museum collections management. Sigh. Mind telling us what kind of museum work you do? I’m curious as a fellow museum person.

          1. Museum Educator*

            Generally I work in interpreter, curriculum developer, program coordinator type roles. My last position as Education Coordinator for a small museum. I ran the department by myself so I basically did everything. My bachelors is in Art History but I have worked in art, transportation, agricultural, history, and science museums. Also have worked in some technical roles for educational non-profits. So it’s kind of across the board.

            1. Museum Educator*

              Sorry, I could be more clear. In museums I have mostly done school programs. My audience is typically K-12, though it occasionally extends into college and family programs as well.

              1. Liz*

                Interesting to hear from other museum people, my job is very similar. For what it’s worth for future applications, when I started adding some specific anecdotes to my cover letter intended to illustrate the accomplishments in my resume I got more traction from my letters. I also usually test out my cover letter by sending it to a non-museum friend and asking if they can figure out what the role is that I’m applying for – sometimes that helps me to add or delete things for clarity since many museum roles can be pretty broad when you’re first starting out.

                1. Museum Educator*

                  I always struggle with adding anecdotes to my cover letters. I am not great at them. I actually love to write and its a hobby for me. I have a friend that is a phenomenal and accomplished writer and she always compliments my writing, but cover letters are tough for me. I’m never sure of what kind of anecdote to include.

                2. Museum Educator*

                  Have you ever applied to a government museum position, like on I wonder if there is a difference as to how to do the cover letter and resume?

              2. Liz*

                Sorry I haven’t applied for government jobs yet but I highly recommend going back over the advice on this website and just working through it. For example, if you contemplate what your answer would be to some of the job interview questions suggested here you will find stories. Or, ask yourself what would you brag about at thanksgiving dinner when your family asks you to tell them about your job. My boss also suggests asking yourself what your boss would say about your work.

    4. A.*

      APPLY! My job leaves up job postings past the ‘due date’ all the time, and readily accepts late applications from qualified applicants.

      1. Museum Educator*

        Alright! Love hearing this. I always think applying late is a no-no. I also wasn’t sure if it being in academia made a difference because from what I hear they can be pretty strict. But I guess there is no harm in applying.

    5. HR Manager*

      Possibility of getting a job with a late application? Maybe 1-10%.
      Possibility of getting a job with no application? Definite 0%.
      [Disclaimer: I made up that first stat! *shakes fist at the internet*]

  7. Audiophile*

    So glad it’s Friday.

    I had a phone interview yesterday, which I came away with feeling good but realizing I need to switch cell phone carriers. I’ve been trying to get one recruiter on the phone all week. It’s frustrating calling and leaving messages, and then getting called back at unusual times. I much prefer when recruiters email as well. That makes it easier to respond.

    1. Kimberlee, Esq.*

      I will take this opportunity to shill Ting! I’ve had them for several months and love it. And I’m saving around $40 a month versus my old AT&T plan (for three lines).

      1. Audiophile*

        Hmm thanks Kimberlee. I’ll look into. I live in NY but not in the city and my service tends to be crappy lately.

      2. EA*

        I will second the recommendation for Ting. They are a MVNO on the Sprint Network, and every time I’ve had to contact them, they’ve been excellent.

        1. Audiophile*

          I’m actually on Sprint now and I’m trying to get away.

          This phone interview the other day, was kind of disastrous. They kept asking me to repeat myself because there were all sorts of connection issues. The hard part is – ATT and VZW work well in the building I work in, and Sprint does since it roams on VZW, but it’s when I get outside and close to home that the service is awful. I have almost no service at home. The house is old, stone and near tons of trees.
          I tried ATT for about a week or two and that was actually worse, as far as the house goes.
          I’ll figure it out. Thanks for the suggestions though.

          1. Observer*

            Check both ATT (Again) and Verizon. Even though Sprint technically roams on Verizon, it seems that their traffic is “second class” or something. All I know is that I see people with sprint phones not being able to hear while someone with a Verizon phone is doing fine. And, in the wake of Sandy, both ATT and Verizon have had to upgrade some infrastructure (in different places…)

            1. Audiophile*

              Alright. I’ll give it another try. I had zero service in my bedroom.
              For whatever reason that area of the house goes back and forth between Verizon and Sprint. I was on Verizon for 7 months and then went back to Sprint.
              People keep telling me to try T-Mobile but that’s even worse, the only plus would be WiFi calling.

  8. Skye*

    I posted a while back about being given the task of typing up roughly 16k addresses. That had a good ending (or at least, better than it could have been) – the one assigning that honestly did not know that things like mail merge existed, and after about four hours of editing the horribly formatted .csv file (once procured from our horrified IT person), got it all printed. But not onto envelopes because we didn’t have enough so we wound up with 16k+ labels to put onto envelopes. Luckily, we got approval to pay QuickCopy to stuff the envelopes for us.

    All so we can alert our customers that our boss is retiring.

    1. GOG11*

      I don’t know if you watch Parks and Rec, but you really needed a Gerry! (The episode where he stuffs a ridiculous number of envelopes and then realizes he stuffed them with the wrong thing once he’s done so he starts all over again. “Well, you know what they say, ‘It’s not government work if you didn’t do it twice!'”)

      I didn’t see your original post, but I’m glad things turned out well for you all in the end :)

      1. Anonsie*

        I’m sometimes concerned with how much I identified with him one that one. “I like this work, it makes sense to me.”

        I feel you, J/G/Larry

        1. Anx*

          I love Jerry. My heart breaks for him sometimes but then I get so envious at his awesome life. Home by 5. Pension. Can support his family while being incredibly mediocre at life. He really is living the dream.

          1. GOG11*

            Seeing Ben stand up for Jerry in the final season was really satisfying…and then they made it terrible. Even everything-is-awesome Chris becomes very un-Chris-like toward Jerry :/

    2. Observer*

      Why was your IT person horrified? I hope it’s because of the idea of asking someone to TYPE the labels instead merging them.

      But how on earth does someone get the stage where you have the authority to assign this type of task and not know that mail merge exits?! (No, don’t answer, it was a rhetorical question.) This one would be hard to believe, even in Dilbert.

      1. MissDisplaced*

        I have seen many, many persons in positions of power that have no idea how a mail merge works.
        So sad.

        1. the gold digger*

          I had a temp job once where they wanted me to analyze a bunch of shipping statistics. They gave me a stack of papers 2 inches thick.

          The two managers – fairly high up, at 3M, were stunned when I suggested that this work could be done on a spreadsheet. (This was 1992, but spreadsheets were not new at that point.) I scanned the documents and converted them to excel (Lotus?) and then worked with the managers to come up with the decision rules to do the analysis.

          They were soooo impressed that I had found a way to automate the task. I was shocked that they thought someone was going to go through the data by hand to figure out the number of late shipments, the average number of days late, and the reason for shipping late.

        2. Bea W*

          I know of a CEO who handwrites her responses to emails on hard copies and gives them to her EA to reply back in email.

        3. Observer*

          True. It’s not so much “power” as “assigning specific office tasks”. It feels almost as bizarre as telling someone “go clean the floor” without realizing that that requires at least a broom or mop.

          Then again, there is a reason why Dilbert resonates so much…

      2. Skye*

        Yep, horrified that I was told to type them all.

        My manager regularly forgets how to attach files to an email so not knowing that mail merge exists wasn’t too far a stretch.

    3. Mimmy*

      I totally remember that post!! So glad someone finally came to the 21st century and discovered Mail Merge–which I’ll admit is still a bit of PITA.

      But yikes, just for one announcement?! That’s what websites and email blasts are for :)

      Glad you were able to get an outside source to do the envelope stuffing–I about had a heart attack when a temp job asked me to prepare nearly 600 conference registration confirmation letters. That sounds like nothing compared to 16,000 though!!

      1. Mimmy*

        FTR – I balked on doing all that envelope stuffing alone (I know, bad Mimmy….) and they had another group do it instead.

        1. Bea W*

          I support you in balking. Expecting one person to stuff 16k envelopes is not based in any kind of known reality.

          1. EA*

            I used to work at a mail/shipping processing place … I think the most envelopes I ever stuffed singlehandedly was a 10,000 piece job. (Labeling? Over 30,000 pieces, singlehandedly, and since it was a bulk mail job, I had to keep them in perfect order by zip code … someone else was doing the bundling and tagging.)

            1. Bea W*

              Out of curiosity, how long did that take? I think that was one of the parts of the discussion – how long would it take a single person to stuff, seal, label, stamp 16K envelopes.

              1. EA*

                If I recall correctly, it took about a day to stuff the 10,000 piece mailing (pre-folded … We did have a high-speed folding machine, but it tended to be “sensitive”, so we vastly preferred to receive pre-folded inserts). No sealing or stamping, as our postage meter machine took care of that.

                Labels, it depended a lot on the type and quality of labels. With good-quality 30-to-a-sheet labels, I could often peel off an entire column (10 labels) using the edge of a table, and then pick them up 4 at a time (1 for each finger), and label pretty quickly. Continuous dot matrix labels were slower. Low-quality labels that stick to the backing? AWFUL.

      2. Skye*

        Yes, well, it’s the state medical board that’s requiring the letters (and a newspaper ad). Our boss also thinks it’s ridiculous, but would rather we have our butts covered than leave ourselves open to lawsuits.

        1. Elizabeth*

          I wondered if it might relate to the medical field. Most state medical boards require a specific notice period when an established provider leaves a practice to give patients an opportunity to get their records and move to another practice.

          1. Skye*

            That’s exactly it. It’s a little bit of a weird area because this is not a private practice. (But maybe people do change hospitals because one doctor leaves?)

  9. Hiding*

    No kitty picture? :(

    One of my managers is in town (not my direct one) and we had dinner the other night. The conversation turned embarrassingly personal on my part. (I confessed something that was bothering me that had nothing to do with work–or with her.) Now I feel really stupid, and I’m just trying to pretend I never said anything. I’m afraid she thinks I’m an idiot.

    1. Elkay*

      Kitty pictures moved to Sundays only a few weeks ago.

      Probably best to just act professional from now on. Unless an opportunity arises for you to apologise I wouldn’t force it.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Let it go. Stuff happens. You don’t mention any negative reaction on her part. So I would not worry. It sounds like it is a one time occurrence, which is also in your favor.

    3. Tomato Frog*

      I’ve done stuff like that and found that as long as it’s not a regular occurrence, it really doesn’t seem to have any effect on people’s perception of my professionalism. And don’t forget my life motto: people are usually waaay more concerned with whether or not they appeared foolish than whether or not you did.

  10. a.n.o.n.*

    Well, my offer letter is signed (I got a 10k salary bump!), I received my New Hire package, and I gave my two weeks’ notice. Life is good.

    My boss took it well; he’s always professional when it comes to stuff like this. He seemed surprised even though I’ve made no bones about the fact that I’m unhappy. And he was disappointed, but understood my reasons for leaving. I stated my reasons as a bad fit for the job and that I want to be back in management. He asked if there was anything about the department or him that I would change or that would have made me stay. I just talked about the fact that there were too many meetings in the beginning, but realize part of it was training. I didn’t say a word about his talking down to others and being a micromanager; I don’t want to burn a bridge and lose a reference.

    In order to avoid making a big announcement, I told two specific people knowing that they would take care of spreading the word. And it spread. Like wildfire. For those who asked, I explained that I want to do something different and it wasn’t the right fit. My boss has quite the reputation for micromanaging so I knew people would automatically assume I was leaving because of him.

    So, Wednesday was a great day. After I gave notice all I heard from people was that I seemed very happy and that I was glowing. Yes. Yes, I am.

    1. a.n.o.n.*

      Thanks, all! I’m getting pretty excited for the new job. And I’m thrilled every time I complete a task, because I know it’s the last time I’ll have to do it!

  11. manybellsdown*

    I have a couple of jobs that would be relevant experience, but I’ve been leaving them off my resume because both of the companies have closed down, and there’s no way for anyone to verify my employment. One company went bankrupt after the owner’s son used it as his personal piggy bank, and one was closed for violating industry laws.

    So not only do these look like poor employment choices on my part, there’s no way to contact anyone I worked with there. But without those jobs, I look like I have far less experience than I do. Does anyone have any suggestions about putting them in my resume, or should I keep leaving them off?

    1. soitgoes*

      Companies go out of business all the time. Businesses know this. I usually find a way to write “no longer in business” somewhere on the resume or in the “reason for leaving” section. I don’t see it being a big deal. I’ve never had an employer call every single one of my past managers after an interview.

    2. a.n.o.n.*

      Leave them on the resume if they’re relevant experience. Same thing happened to me, but i left it on because it was all relevant experience. I still keep in contact with the former CEO so I listed his cell number as the business number on the application and made a note of it.

    3. TCO*

      I think you should leave them on if they were significant parts of your career and there’s not any appearance of you being personally involved in the misconduct. You can always explain at the reference-check stage that the companies are closed and you are not in contact with anyone who worked there. If they really insist on verifying that you worked there, could you produce pay stubs or something as proof of employment?

    4. HR Manager*

      Echoing ‘soitgoes’ advice. I’ve recruited a lot in the tech sector where start-ups come and go weekly. You almost haven’t earned your stripes unless you’ve worked for a start-up that went bust. Don’t worry about not having a reference, and just be clear when reference time comes. Having the job listed is a good idea to show the continuity, rather than mysterious gaps on your resume.

    5. danr*

      Leave them on your resume. You did the work. If your new company wants to find them, they will. If you look for them in Google or Bing or subscription business databases, there will be hits all over the place.

      1. Steve G*

        I agree. I have pay stubs from every “real” job I’ve had. Of course, I am only 33 so that is still feasible at this point, but it certainly helps me sleep better when I am job hunting because what manybellsdown wrote in about could happen.

  12. anon in tejas*

    I am on the board of an organization. We have a number of affiliates who the board, staff and ED have a close relationship with. Our ED of the past 11 years has announced her departure, and we are going to be sending her off at our national conference next year. Suggestions on how to creatively honor her?

    Here are some ideas that we have thus far:
    — huge card in which everyone can write notes/memories
    — slide show presentation of pictures together over the years to play during the conference in one of the common areas

    I’d love to hear how you’ve honored folks, who have had a lasting impact on your work, in your professional lives. I think that honoring folks who have retired, CEOS or other executive professionals would be the most relevant.


    1. TotesMaGoats*

      Used the poem “Oh the places you’ll go” and changed all the words to include major events from her tenure or phrases she was known for saying. Tears all around. Photo album of our teams are always a big hit. We bought a journal and gave everyone a chance to write a special note to her. For people who could get to the journal in person, they could email in their notes and someone would hand write them.

      1. anon in tejas*


        we are going to likely have a cocktail reception where this type of stuff will happen. but I am looking for ways that folks can send her off/honor personal memories/significant accomplishments.

    2. MsM*

      Depends whether you want the focus to be more on the relationships she’s cultivated or the impact she’s had, but if you’re looking for the latter, I’ve seen some really awesome slideshow or online interactive timelines of departing EDs’ accomplishments (illustrated with pictures, anecdotes, etc.).

      1. anon in tejas*

        This sounds like an idea could work. Do you have any suggestion on what kind of software/program/online app for an interactive timeline?

        1. Cassy*

          Prezi would give you a really cool (but easy to put together) visual that you can start now and easily add to as more people send things.

    3. Joey*

      A framed picture of “the company” with signatures of the relevant team members. I’ve also seen an exec rattle off major accomplishments the person headed that were especially notable and talk about the character traits they were thankful for.

      1. anon in tejas*

        I am in charge of making sure that it’s the membership/affiliates get a chance to honor her– her staff will probably do the photo thing, but that’s hard to organize with affiliates totalling 100 different groups internationally.

        Don’t want to create space for speaking stuff. And rattling off accomplishment sounds so rote/not creative or really specific– which is what are trying to avoid. It sounds like my questions/post may not have been super clear because I am getting really generic responses. :(

  13. C Average*

    My job is bumming me out.

    It’s not an objectively bad job. It’s just not a good job for me. I knew this the first week I was in the role, and it’s never really gotten better. I’ve been here, doing this, for going on three years now. I feel like coming here every day and doing something that feels boring and meaningless is sucking out my soul and my brain, and it’s harder to project confidence and enthusiasm in general. I worry that what this job is doing to me will make it impossible for me to get a different job.

    I love my company and don’t want to work somewhere else. How do I bust out of this rut? Have you been in a similar spot and escaped?

    Can you give me some Chicken Soup for the Wage Slave Soul, folks?

    1. Ali*

      This is happening to me. I’ve been doing basically the same thing for four years, and there’s no real chance to learn anything new or advance in my role. I like my company too for the most part, and would love to move up if given the opportunity, but there’s hardly ever any openings for advancement. (Low turnover and considered a dream/good company to work for.) I’ve been told we have tuition reimbursement available, but the classes have to relate to our job, and I don’t really see any certificate programs even that would help me be better. I’m an editor for a website, so I don’t need any copy editing classes or anything, and we don’t do site layout or design anything, so that’s out.

      I am looking for a new position and don’t need to feel “passionate” about wherever I go next or feel like I have a “dream job,” but I would like more variety and want to actually be employable. Right now, it feels as if no one wants my skill set, so I feel you.

      1. Future Analyst*

        Even if you guys don’t do layout or web design, you could still see if they’ll pay for a web design or programming class. If nothing else it’ll make your more marketable if/when you eventually move to a different company. OR, you could offer to take on some of the layout/web design work as a means to cut costs for the company, thereby making yourself more invaluable, which would tend to help you along for promotions down the line.

        1. Betty*

          Learning about web design could be useful even if your company doesn’t do that particular role: you’ll have a better understanding of what is possible, which may help you produce more interesting web content.

      2. C Average*

        Yeah, I’m with you! Whenever I read some blog post about passion and enthusiasm and dream jobs, I find myself rolling my eyes so hard they hit me in the back of the head. Right now my dream is to do something other than what I am doing. My dream is to transition into something that gives me mind space to dream. It ain’t here.

        Because my current job isn’t particularly aligned with my skills, it’s not only boring but difficult and sometimes confusing. So I’m not only getting nothing from this job, but it feels like I’m giving EVERYTHING to it. Long hours, no energy or creativity left at the end of the day. Gah. Just GET ME OUT.

        It feels really good to say this out loud. I’ve been attempting to keep my chin up for a long time. It’s gotten me not much more than a crick in my neck.

        1. Ali*

          I really wanted to work full-time at the company I was doing part-time/intern work for, but the pay was so low (and very likely without benefits) that I had to decline that and stay on as a part-timer. My supervisor understood because we work at a startup and her pay isn’t much either, but it sucks because I really thought this would be something I could jump into and leave my current job behind for. But it’s not, so I’m still looking…

        2. Jennifer*

          I hear that. My job is like the one pair of shoes I own that sorta fit, but give me blisters and are a size too small and stiletto heels so I fall down a lot. But it’s either that or go barefoot while walking through broken glass, so…. I’m no longer bored, but I am stressed out alllllllllll the time. And all I ever see for job listings are ones that want someone to do payroll and expenses and that’s one of the few worse jobs than this. Nuh-uh.

          God wants me in this job until I die, that’s all there is to it. There’s no options out there but this.

    2. Elizabeth West*

      I think of boring stuff as a way to finance my desired work, which I’m not getting paid for right now. I also try to find ways to make it more interesting, like rearranging the way I do things or taking it upon myself to be proactive about deadlines, etc. I had to do that at Exjob just to keep from running out the door screaming.

      If your company offers additional training, you might also take advantage of that, or seek out something that would complement your job.

      1. nep*

        Great way to approach it — Seeing tedious potentially soul-sapping work as a way to support you in other pursuits / other things you want to do.
        I was working in one city where I took traditional drumming lessons with a dear, dear friend. We would sit a couple metres from the ocean and play, a few times a week. I once joked, ‘I’m staying at this job/location to support my drum habit’. (It was just a quip though — I quite enjoyed my job at the time too.)

    3. Future Analyst*

      Have you talked to your manager/supervisor about taking on more challenging projects? I was in a position like this, and luckily I had a boss who looked out for me and found work for me that required me to use my brain. It can be tough to convince someone to let you try something harder, esp. if you haven’t been doing your best because you’re bored out of your skull, but taking on more challenging work really can change your life. If nothing else, are there other positions for you to apply to in your company?

    4. A.*

      Are you me? Ha. I’m in the same boat. Not a bad job; just not the job for me. Been here for three years. Hard to project enthusiasm. Feels boring and meaningless. Yep, you’re me. I don’t have advice, but I can offer solidarity. I know you say you don’t want to work somewhere else, but maybe it’s time for you to move on. Is that a possibility? I know I’m trying to move on.

    5. Sam*

      This happened to me too. But in my case, I got a chance to do some amazing volunteer work for my true passion, and since returning to work have found myself in a real depression. Seeing a therapist now, hoping she can help me sort through things and decide if it’s simply a new job I need, or a whole career change…

      Best of luck!

    6. GOG11*

      Are there any projects related to what you’re currently doing that you could take on which would be more fulfilling/meaningful for you? You (most likely) can’t abandon the tasks which feel boring and meaningless if they are a core part of your job, but maybe a project or new task can keep you from feeling like everything about your job is weighing you down.

      I recently talked with my supervisor and let her know that I am able to take on some additional tasks. We talked things over and decided to expand one of my projects to include certain tasks at the front and back end of something I was doing already. Having more responsibility, having tasks that weren’t so disjointed/fragmented, and being able to work on things in a “big picture” way really helped me to put my menial tasks in context and give them more meaning for me.

      If you feel that you’re ready to move on and you love your current company, are there other positions within your company that you could apply for?

    7. Mimmy*

      I can’t quite tell from your post, but are there any advancement opportunities at your current company?

      Other than that, I’m afraid I don’t have any wise, chicken soup-worthy advice. Will a cyber-hug do? ((hug))

      1. C Average*

        Tons, actually, if you’re a go-getter type in a visible role. I work for a huge company with lots of different roles, and there’s ample opportunity for advancement if you are perceived as someone smart and motivated.

        My role is not particularly visible, and I don’t think it does me any favors in terms of looking smart and motivated.

        I used to be a go-getter in previous roles. I’d like to be one again. Finding the mental energy to be that person again feels daunting when it takes so much energy just to show up and do my job every day.

        I’m doing a really cool stretch assignment for a different department. It’s challenging to find time for it right now–I haven’t even really gotten a weekend for a long time because my basic workload is kind of insane–but I need to carve out a few days to finalize my draft soon. I’m hopeful that will tap into some too-long-buried enthusiasm and give me a chance to show some other folks in the company what I’m capable of doing.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Fake it. Fake being a go-getter. At some point things will happen that you won’t have to fake it any more.
          Sometimes just finding different people to talk with can bring back some of that enthusiasm. I think you are saying you see positions you are interested in. One idea, FWIW: Find reasons to talk to people who are working in that area. Don’t let yourself sit there all alone- figure out who is doing what and find reasons to strike up a conversation with them somehow. Different people = different conversations = renewed energy levels.

  14. Sharon*

    I think it would be fun to swap stories about protected people. You know who they are: the coworkers who drive everybody nuts and somehow manage to never get in trouble. They are usually protected by someone in management. A couple of examples I have:

    At a job some years ago there was a software developer who had severe interpersonal communication problems. I won’t diagnose him because I don’t have a clue. But he rarely talked to anyone, unless you asked him a direct question about work and then he’d answer. I remember once we asked him what caused some program issue and his answer was incomprehensible. I was a software engineer at the time, so it’s not that it was too technical. Even I was going “… wha..?…” Another time we had a meeting with some other people and when I walked into the room he stared at me…. stared… like I was a blue space alien with three heads. Some of the other guys noticed and laughed nervously. One commented that he’d apparently never seen a woman before and apologized to me on his behalf. He finally stopped staring and ignored me the rest of the meeting. He was so strange that I could NOT figure out how he managed to get through a job interview in order to get hired. Interestingly, when his supervisor quit, he was gone the same day. I don’t know what the connection was between the two of them but clearly she was protecting him.

    There is one at my current job, too. A lady who also has terrible communication skills. Talking to her is like talking to someone who’s just done cocaine while being amped up on amphetamines. She’s not just fast, but so fast she trips over herself verbally and can’t frame a cohesive thought. It takes a ton of patience to wait for her to ask an understandable question. Lots of people here don’t like her. I’m ambivalent because she has given me some really good information that nobody else has. But even for me it takes a ton of patience to deal with her. And yes, she’s a gatekeeper for something critical here, and she tends to over-reach her authority. Despite complaints, it has not changed, so she’s clearly being protected by our director.

    Anybody else?

    1. Judy*

      There was a director once who had a saying “When you find a turtle in a tree, don’t remove it until you understand how it got there.” It is possibly a Brazilian folk saying. There was a manager in the organization that was referred to as a turtle in a tree.

    2. HigherEd Admin*

      A colleague who sits in her office and watches YouTube videos all day, everyday. Most of her work gets passed on to her teammates, but she still manages to get credit for it. Somehow recently got promoted, too. Her teammates, of course, did not and when they asked about it, got shut down pretty quickly by their supervisor. Not sure what the deal is, but complaining about this person is clearly a no-no.

      1. Cath in Canada*

        We have someone in our office who plays Solitaire for hours at a time, with her computer screen facing her open office door. She just doesn’t care. Sometimes she branches out into opening up the local paper and doing the crossword. Once I walked past and she had the paper open on her lap and a crossword cheat website up on her screen – I said to my colleague “not only is she getting paid to sit there and do the crossword, she’s getting paid to sit there and CHEAT at the crossword! I’m so outraged!” Occasionally she comes out and engages our poor sweet accountant, who wouldn’t say boo to a goose, in VERY loud conversation about breaking current events. It disrupts the whole office.

        Apparently she’s very good at the one thing she does do, and apparently her direct supervisor thinks she’s great (he works on a different floor so he doesn’t see the epic Solitaire sessions). And at least they moved her from the ground floor, where people walking past the building could look in and see all that time wasting going on…

    3. Sascha*

      Ooh I have some! They’re not so much “protected” as the VP of our department hates conflict and hates firing people, so I guess there’s that protection (also it’s a state university where firing is extremely difficult anyway, even for terrible employees with mountains of evidence against them).

      – the receptionist who swears at people on the phone, and also at our director and manager – been here over 10 years
      – the man in his 50s who uses baby talk all the time, has terrible communication skills, and rarely learns anything new despite being the training manager – been here almost 15 years
      – the “might be a stalker” guy (no longer in my dept thank GOD) who knew how to butter up the managers but never actually did any work; also he might be a stalker

      And then there’s one guy who works in another dept who apparently is a hoarder, he keeps a bookcase full of hoarded food that goes rotten all the time but he refuses to let anyone throw it away, and sometimes he eats spoiled food from the fridge because he can’t bear for it to be tossed out. He’s been here nearly 15 years, because he knows how to game the system when it comes to firing.

      1. loxthebox*

        This and the post a couple weeks ago about baby talk make me really curious to encounter such a person. More just in passing to see it up close, working with such a person would drive me insane.

        1. Sascha*

          Babytalker goes into that mode whenever he is confronted with anything. He will constantly ask me and my team how to do things – things he should know, as he trains clients on the exact same things – so when I tell him “You know this,” he goes into the baby talk about how he’s not good with “pooters” and forgets stuff all the time. It’s his defense mechanism. But he only does it with peers or people lower than him – I’ve never seen him do it with his boss, the VP. It’s repulsive and fascinating all at the same time.

          1. loxthebox*

            I would seriously want to slap him… You’re a grownup, you know what a COMPuter is. I also have a really strong aversion to “tummy ache” if you’re an adult, but that might just be me. My brain hurts to think there are people who do this.

          2. nep*

            That is horrible. I don’t even want to imagine a supposed adult in the professional world going there.
            Just. No.

        2. KJR*

          We have a woman who baby talks sometimes too. I seethe inernally the whole time she’s talking. She even shakes her hands and stomps her feet while she’s “talking.” It is so freaking weird.

      2. Natalie*

        Conflict-averse boss is the worst.

        My old boss once wrote up a formal memo to the entire office about our office norms. What she actually wanted to accomplish is tell 2 people that they should say hello and goodbye generally.

      3. HigherEd*

        Sascha, I also work at a state university so I know what you mean. I used to have a coworker who would throw temper tantrums and threaten to quit when she didn’t get her way. Once it was over the fact that we wanted to get new furniture in the conference room. I also had a coworker who was literally counting the days to her retirement (despite it being several years away still) and putting maybe 25% effort into doing her job — she would constantly make extremely basic mistakes despite the fact that she’d been there for 30 years. And when I say that I “used” have these coworkers, it’s because I eventually left — they’re both still there.

    4. Jell-O Cafetiere*

      Hmm. I kinda misread “protected people” for “people in protected classes” — my bad, but then you went on to talk about not wanting to “diagnose” the guy in your first example… With respect, I think you are skirting close to making fun of a disability there.

      1. Sharon*

        No making fun at all. He seemed to actually have some kind of social disorder, barely functional. But I didn’t want to make any uneducated guesses and risk starting a discussion about those possible disorders. Only he and his doctor knew for sure. That’s all I meant by it.

      2. Jazzy Red*

        Oh, get off it. You sound like someone who constantly looks for insults, i.e. “your hair looks really cute today.” “what are you saying, that it usually doesn’t look good?”

        I’m sure if the OP had offered an opinion of someone’s social disability, you’d be all over her for that. Chill.

    5. Elkay*

      We had a woman who would just straight up refuse to do work that needed doing. She was also incredibly patronising and believed she knew better than everyone else in the department so when she did decide a job was not below her she’d screw it up and we’d all have to run around fixing it. She also favoured any clients from the “upper” classes (privately educated/armed forces officers). Equally would agree to processes, until she had to abide by them then would re-write them on the fly.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      Many years ago, I worked with a woman who was about 19 or so. There were many little odd things that happened there. The best part (not) was watching her follow the boss around. I said nothing. It was years and years later, I ran into another coworker and she mentioned X. Then she said, “Oh and X always followed the boss around.” I laughed out loud. She followed the boss around so much that years later, my other coworker still had that fresh in her memory.

      I wasn’t laughing when I was at the job. It took time to get perspective.

    7. catsAreCool*

      I had the co-worker who seemed to try to do his job as slowly as possible and let things turn into disasters without asking for help and spent at least some time staring into space or calling family members at work to chat.

      There was the co-worker who didn’t seem to be able to touch the software code (he was a developer) without adding a bug or two.

      There was the really creepy guy.

      Still have a mildly creepy guy. Still have a guy who apparently does a great job and is capable of being nice to people he thinks “matter” but is more than willing to be rude to everyone else.

    8. Chris C*

      We have a sales manager who never actually sells anything. He got the sales of fired/past employees, all of the sales that came through referral partners, and some house accounts handed to him. He rarely does anything sales related, yet has the biggest commission checks of all of the guys. It is nuts. I have no idea why this started, why it is acceptable, and how much longer it is going to go one. When I discussed with higher ups, they acknowledge he is annoying and lazy, but they can’t get rid of him since he sells so much! They think he got at least 1/2 or more of these sales on his own, but he didn’t. If they believed me that he didn’t fight for any of these accounts, he’d be a goner, but they think I a exaggerating.

  15. PuppyPetter*

    Allergies and the workplace/conferences…
    Went off to a workshop for work today and wound up sitting between two people who were each wearing perfume. I’m mildly allergic/highly sensitive to scents; nothing debilitating but now I have a headache that will keep me muddled for the rest of the day.
    How do you handle this? I felt awkward moving – the only open seat was at the far end of the room and, well, I had already been seated and we were about to start. I stayed in my seat but tried to sit back a bit.
    This is often a problem -whether perfume/cologne or cigarette smoke on someone (hair, clothes).
    Would have taken a benedryl but A) didn’t have one on me & 2) The meeting was at the crack of you’ve got to be kidding and I was barely awake as it was – antihistamine would have knocked me flat.

    1. Observer*

      What about claritin? It seems to be less sleepy making for some people. If that won’t work for you, perhaps you can talk to your doctor about a different medication.

      1. Natalie*

        Yep, I’ve never found loratadine to make me sleepy. I use it under the Alavert label because it’s a quick-dissolving tablet so it starts working pretty damn fast.

      2. Artemesia*

        Claritin doesn’t counter this sort of thing for me. It is better than nothing to keep seasonal allergies more or less at bay — but it won’t keep the smoker next to me from winding up my sinuses and head.

    2. Night Cheese*

      You should probably talk to your allergist. Zyrtec might not make you sleepy. A rescue inhaler or some nasal spray might also provide some relief.

      1. Kelly L.*

        Yes! Zyrtec is my soulmate. Claritin will do in a pinch, but Zyrtec works faster. (I actually like Allegra even better, but even its generics are still a little pricier at the moment.)

        1. Anonsie*

          Allegra is the beeeest.

          You can also beef up your H1 blocker with an H2 blocker. I take ranitidine and the generics are nice and cheap.

    3. Judy*

      I keep a few chlor trimeton (my fast allergy med of choice) in my purse in one of those cylindrical stainless steel on the key chain pill holders. I got mine at the pharmacy.

      We were eating dinner the other night in a restaurant, and they seated a family in the booth behind me that reeked of cigarette smoke. I just took my pill and went on with dinner, but if it were a meeting, I would most likely have moved if there was space elsewhere, especially if the other seat had a better view or something.

      1. Judy*

        Looking at it, it may be aluminum. But it’s just about the same size as a chapstick, so it’s not a burden to carry with me.

        1. Artemesia*

          I usually wear jeans — they are dark black and not with jean finishing so I can wear them as slacks. But they have a watch pocket — and I never leave the house without aspirin packet (heart attack first aid — my husband and I are old), immodium, alavert in sealed packets tucked in my watch pocket. If I have a cough I will also put in a delsym lozenge with the dextromethorphan. If wearing other slacks, I keep these basics in a jacket pocket or purse (I try to dress to not have to carry a purse.)

    4. Elizabeth the Ginger*

      If this is a workshop full of strangers or slight acquaintances, I think it’s harder to prevent this than when you’re among the same people all the time, unfortunately. The only prevention I can think of is that if you’re there with people who you know well and who don’t wear scents, you could try to sit in a group with them… but that runs the risk of looking clique-ish.

      I’d advise putting a small stash of medication in your purse/briefcase/something – both allergy meds and painkillers for if you do get a headache. (Have you tried Allegra? I find it deals nicely with my allergies – admittedly, they’re the hayfever sort, not to scents – but doesn’t make me groggy.)

      Good luck. I feel for you. :-(

    5. HR Manager*

      I’d alert the facilitator or coordinator on site (they always have someone) of your allergies and see if they can help you get a better seat (not way in the back). If you have to, let them know you can’t see or hear the presenter well from back there.

    6. kozinskey*

      Perfume gives me headaches and makes me nauseous, so I would absolutely change seats in an atmosphere like that. Maybe you could explain the move as sneaking out to the bathroom before the meeting starts, and then choose a different door to come back in so the other open seat is closer to you (and of course you want to sit down asap if the meeting’s about to start….)

    7. GigglyPuff*

      If it’s just for the awkwardness, even if it’s about to start, and you know you’ll be miserable, pretend like you got a phone call and walk out, then come back in and sit somewhere else, or head to the bathroom for a minute (which would look less strange if you have to move your stuff too).

    8. Cautionary tail*

      I’m going to to say that all these people don’t know what they are talking about and I say this from suffering just like you. I take Claritian D (behind the pharmacy desk) for regular allergies but they have no effect on perfume. When someone wears perfume I go into uncontrollable sneezing fits and the only solution, as you’ve already described, is to get the heck away from it/them. If there is no empty seat I will stand in the back of the room, find a chair somewhere or whatever, but I can’t stay near the source of the problem – perfume. It pisses these ladies off to no end but I’ve learned to not care about their feelings toward perfume if they don’t care that they are causing me excruciating agaony.

      1. Observer*

        I think you are overstating the case that people “don’t know what they are talking about”. The poster indicated that Benadryl works, which indicates that in HER case, a histamine reaction is at least part of the story. Thus other anti-allergy medications might work.

        Although most of us would agree that getting away from the source of the problem is a good idea, in any case.

      2. Just me, Vee*

        My SIL took medication for her fibromyalgia that resulted in her being deathly allergic to perfume, soaps, lotions, colognes. She has to carry an epi pen with her. Luckily, she works in a building in which only about 10 others work (but there are always coworkers from other buildings at the plant coming in and out). There is a sign in bold letters on the door warning that the bldg is a fragrance free zone and to ignore this would endanger someone’s life. But still, people ignore the warning, and when my SIL has to run out of the bldg, they get all huffy, like she is being overly dramatic.

    9. Mister Pickle*

      I hear ya. Brings back bad memories of being forced to sit next to some smelly lady in church for an entire hour. If I’d known then what I know now, I wouldn’t have held back, I would’ve upchucked right there and then.

      Can you tell if this is your sensitivity, or if these people dumped it on in excess?

      The obvious ‘fix’ is to move. I wouldn’t worry about being rude, especially if they’re “dumpers”, which is pretty damn rude in itself.

    10. No smells!*

      I don’t have advice but you have my sympathy.

      It should be socially acceptable to move away from people wearing perfume.

  16. ZSD*

    Job interview in an hour! I have to give a prepared presentation, among other things. Good vibes, please!

    My morning routine was disrupted enough that I almost forgot to put on deodorant. At least *that* mistake was avoided.

    1. loxthebox*

      Good luck!!

      I once went to a job fair and had taken very careful care to ready myself and look very professional and thought that it went well only to come home and find out I had my underwear on inside out the whole day.

    2. ZSD*

      Thanks for the good wishes! I think it went moderately well. One never really knows, though.
      Loxthebox, was this a job fair that involved people *seeing* your underwear?

  17. wanderlust*

    Not sure if this is work-related, but it’s definitely work-and-career-adjacent. I’m considering starting an MA in Sustainability and Development and just wanted to see if anyone has any insight into where that degree might lead career-wise. I have a background in international development and I’m interested in focusing on resource allocation and social justice, particularly in nutrition and food supply. I work for a university and get full tuition benefits, so the financial commitment is not a factor, it’s really more evaluating whether the time would be worth it and whether it would be beneficial in the long term. Insights appreciated!

    1. Not So NewReader*

      I so envy you. I think this is cutting edge stuff. There are lots of groups that have adjacent interests. One thing I have been looking at lately is the Bionutrient Food Association. But another interesting group is Towns in Transition- they are interested in sustainability. If you can locate a time bank in your area, you might find more like-minded people with ideas for you.
      Not necessarily your chosen arena but there is a lot out there with alternative energy sources, too.

      Yes, yes, yes, keep pursuing this degree.

    2. misspiggy*

      Consulting for companies interested in improving their social and environmental sustainability is one way to go with this type of degree – look at organisations like Sustainability.

  18. Museum Educator*

    Also curious…

    I interviewed for a great job back in May (that I didn’t get). I was flown out for the interview so there was definitely serious interest. When HR called to let me know they chose someone else she said I should keep an eye out on their website for future job postings. I followed up to the hiring manager to say thanks for his time and also asked for some feedback, which he never responded to.


I’m wondering, how serious are employers when they tell you to keep an eye on their job openings? I want to apply for another position there but feel a bit silly since I never got any feedback from the hiring manager. I realize it doesn’t necessarily mean anything, but I’m just wondering what others think about this.

    1. TCO*

      You’re overthinking this. Why wouldn’t you apply for future jobs there? The manager was probably just busy, or has a policy of not giving feedback, or didn’t feel like they had anything useful to share. It means nothing.

      1. Museum Educator*

        Yeah, you’re right. For some reason I just felt silly after being rejected. Perhaps because it was a very long process and a two day interview that felt very comfortable and like the fit was really high. Then to just be disconnected is weird. Yes, I am over thinking it.

    2. Anna*

      Go ahead and apply. It may have been a platitude, but they did fly you out to interview so obviously they liked enough about you to do that. Not receiving feedback isn’t that big a deal (as Alison has pointed out many times) so the lack of feedback shouldn’t keep you from following the hiring manager’s actual words to keep an eye out.

      Asking for feedback is one of those things where really the only way to handle a request is to not respond unless you plan on giving it. You can’t really send an email back telling the asker you don’t have time to offer feedback because that would look ridiculous. You had time to tell me no, but not time to write two or three sentences? Even if that’s not reasonable, I feel like that’s what it would look like to anyone asking.

      1. Museum Educator*

        Yes, I thought of this. And I wasn’t offended or anything that he didn’t give feedback. I totally get that it’s just a bonus if it happens. I once asked in an email for feedback and the hiring manager actually called me to give it. I wasn’t home so she just left a message. It was basically just “the other person happened to have a bit more experience” type feedback. But it was really nice that she did that.

      2. Museum Educator*

        Plus I recently had an interview that I never ever heard back from. One phone interview, then a face to face. Was told I’d hear something in about a week. I followed up about a week after the deadline with no response. Then followed up about a month after, still no response. It’s now been several months and I never was told I didn’t get the job. I find that inexcusable after two interviews.

        So, I really appreciate that I got a phone rejection from the place I didn’t get feedback from.

  19. Spongebob Anonymouspants*

    I work at a ski resort. Everyone was just told to reapply for their jobs. I only know it was everyone because HR is too dumb to use bcc. We already have a lot of snow so the last minuteness of this whole thing concerns me. The resort hasn’t been doing that well because last winter was awful and the summer was cold.

    I have a second job so I won’t have to live in a box, but this is still kind of stressful. I wish they’d done this a few months ago so I would’ve had time to apply at another resort.

    1. PuppyPetter*

      It may just be a formality – did you have a management change recently?
      If they have posted job openings tot he public, I’d be a little concerned, but check with HR to see if they are just gathering info on staff.

      1. Spongebob Anonymouspants*

        Management changes are fairly constant because the owner likes to fire people. Lots of job postings are on indeed, etc., but they are set to open next week so it’s not like they have time to actually read the resumes and interview people. The whole thing is just a mess.

  20. AdAgencyChick*

    I want to hear stories about people who broke rules, written or unwritten, and had good things come of it. Not researching or anything, just sheer curiosity.

    I’ll start: a few jobs ago, my awesome boss quit with no notice — he’d been shielding us underlings from a lot of the garbage going on at the top. This left me and one other person at my level, and TPTB decided not to hire someone to replace my boss. They had another coworker who knew us well float the idea by us of the two of us essentially running the account with some freelance help.

    So after this idea was floated unofficially, my coworker and I broke the rules (back then was it legal for employers to forbid salary discussions? because I remember that being in employee handbooks 7 or 8 years ago, though it isn’t now) by talking to each other — we knew we were going to be pulled in for salary and title negotiations, and we wanted a fair shake. The two of us ended up actually insisting on doing the negotiations together, which took our new boss aback — but he knew we had him over a barrel, because we both could easily have walked and gotten a raise and promotion elsewhere, and then without us and our old boss this guy would have been *screwed*.

    We ended up getting a better deal than I think I would have negotiated for on my own, which was the point :)

    1. JMegan*

      I had a boss assign me work one time, and not tell me about it – the first I heard of it was when the client phoned and started asking me detailed questions about the project. I was embarrassed and flustered on the phone, and when the call was over I went storming into my boss’ office demanding to know what the hell he was thinking. (Over-react much?)

      But it worked out fine. He apologized, and promised to do a better job of keeping me in the loop. Not that he shouldn’t be able to assign me work, of course, but ideally I would at least hear about it from him rather than being caught flat-footed by a client.

      And now, more than ten years later, I don’t work for this boss any more, but I’m still friends with him. In fact, he thinks I’m kind of a badass for standing up to him like that!

    2. Kimberlee, Esq.*

      I recently changed jobs, and am friends with the person who replaced me and periodically give him advice. A couple weeks ago, I advised him to do something his boss (the head of the organization) had specifically told him not to do. It was a bookkeeping thing, and it was an issue that I understand much more clearly than either of them, and it’s the sort of thing that during my tenure in the position I would have done without even consulting the boss. If my replacement had done what his boss wanted him to, it would have been a gigantic waste of time with only a small chance of actually solving the problem they were having. I felt a bit bad, but I know it was the right call (I mean, I knew it then because I know that job, but I also know it now because my replacement took my advice and the problem is solved).

  21. Future Analyst*

    I received an informal job offer this week! It’s a govt job, and they’re still clearing me via background check etc., but if all goes well I should start in the next couple of weeks. This is truly a perfect fit for me, but I can’t stop worrying that it’ll all fall through, even though I don’t foresee any issues with the BG check or references, etc. I’m still looking and applying for jobs, but the anxiety is hard to shake. Any ideas about how to just relax and let the process happen? I’m a nervous wreck!

    1. Xay*

      When you figure it out, let me know. I’m in the background check process of a job and the background check company has contacted me twice already – first because they couldn’t confirm a university where I took one non-degree class and again because they couldn’t confirm that I work for my current employer. I’ve made good use of the wait by making sure all of my paperwork (transcripts, W-2s, year end paystubs, etc) are in order in case I need to send anything else.

    2. nep*

      Breathe. Deep breaths.
      Great that you continue to apply for other jobs — the gig isn’t yours till it’s yours.
      Any activities you do that help you de-stress and just forget about the world for a while? (Knitting, yoga or other kind of exercise, playing a musical instrument)?
      Hope that govt job works out for you — sounds like you get a good vibe about the place and position. Good luck and keep us posted.

  22. Jill-be-Nimble*

    Just need to vent–I’m so, so frustrated with my temp gig this week. Got the “Oh God, this ends in a month; why haven’t I been looking harder for a job” scare yesterday after I was reprimanded for showing up 30 minutes late due to extreme traffic congestion and buses running ~45 minutes behind. I was told that, because I wasn’t a “real” employee, I wasn’t allowed to make up the time over lunch or by staying late, because HR policies stated that they liked to “punish” temp employees by “making them pay” for being late–so I just had to take the time off my card. This is after two forced unpaid holidays that took big bites out of my already miniscule paycheck (Columbus and Veterans Day).

    So, everyone else here gets to work extremely flexible schedules with real salaries and paid holidays, but because of my temp status, I can’t be off by 30 minutes without having to shell out cash. I guess I get playing the temp game and stuff, and it is their rules, and I know I was late–but it’s so infantilizing. I don’t have to answer phones or have a client-facing role; I communicated with my boss what was happening with the bus situation and she knew it was out of my hands; I offered work extra time.

    The worst part is, they have been acting like I’m so stellar lately and talking about how they want to hire me on. If they like me and my work so much, why penalize me and treat me like I’m less than human now, if they want me to stay on later?

    1. Vancouver Reader*

      Is this a temp gig you normally like, or can you asked to be transferred elsewhere? If you were consistently late, that would be one thing but who hasn’t been caught in traffic or was late because of an accident. Ridiculous that they’d be so inflexible about it.

    2. Natalie*

      “because HR policies stated that they liked to “punish” temp employees by “making them pay” for being late”


      These people are terrible.

    3. KJR*

      There is an actual HR policy that states “they liked to ‘punish’ temp employees by ‘making them pay’ for being late?” Good heavens, what is wrong with these folks?? We always treat temps well in the hopes they will stick around! It’s very hard to find good employees, so it’s their loss.

      1. Jill-be-Nimble*

        No, that’s not set down in writing–that’s just how my boss phrased it (she thinks the policy is BS too and was frustrated with having to enforce it.) OK, so I typed out of frustration and venting and guess I was a little too hyperbolic. Good things about this place: my boss and her boss are sane, but HR policies are very old-fashioned and rigid. She came back at the end of yesterday and said, “You know what? Just don’t tell HR and don’t mark it down.” Then she asked me about what my experience has been with the hiring process (frustrating). I do like working here most of the time–it’s interesting, my co-workers are wonderful, and the hours are good. I really do want to work here. It’s just that the timing of the overly rigid policy and my freakout about “what am I going to do?!” came at the same time. I still spent the day perplexed and angry about selective enforcement of arbitrary hours and am questioning whether I want to work in a place where policies like this are sometimes enforced. I don’t know. I still just feel icky about the whole thing.

        1. kozinskey*

          I don’t blame you for feeling gross about that policy, but if they’re saying they want to hire you on I might still consider accepting the job if I were in your place and desperate enough. It could just be a place that picks on temps but has better policies for permanent employees (like having Veteran’s and Columbus day off, which I get and love). It could also be a place that’s awful all around, but if you can stomach it for a little while it might boost your resume more than a temp gig would.

    4. Elizabeth the Ginger*

      Is it the same people reprimanding you and talking about wanting to hire you? I’d see that as more of a red flag than if, for example, your immediate boss tells you she’s happy with your work while some upper-level red-tape kind of department is being bureaucratic about you not making up the time. It wouldn’t be ideal to work at a place where HR is inflexible while your boss is supportive, but it’d be significantly more frustrating to work for a boss who’s kind of a Jekyll and Hyde about things.

      1. Jill-be-Nimble*

        It’s the same person who thinks that the HR policy is dumb and wanting to be supportive. She knows that she should follow higher bureaucratic procedures, which are much more strict for temp workers than for “real” employees. I think that we both think this will go away if I’m hired full-time. I’m still a little wary about it. She does want to hire me, but also has to enforce institutional restrictions for the class of worker that I currently fall under. It’s just…kinda dumb and demoralizing.

    5. some1*

      This is a crappy policy and I’d alert your contact at your temp agency. They probably can’t do anything about it but they can at least make sure other temps know about the policy going in.

  23. ExceptionToTheRule*

    A plea/piece of advice to job seekers: if you’re applying for a job in which you have absolutely no background and no education and you want to actually be considered for an interview, you’re going to have to include a cover letter explaining why I should spend time talking with you over people who have some level of experience. Even if it is for a part-time position. /vent

    1. KJR*

      Thank you!! You’re just left to wonder if they even read the ad! Your applying for a CNC operator position, and you’ve worked in banking for 20 years? Please explain!!

    2. CPE*

      I have the opposite advice to employers. Just don’t call people for interviews if you look at their resumes and think they are not qualified. I attended an interview few weeks back and it went well but I didn’t have experience doing that precise job. Then the hiring manager got back to me and said the interviewers got back to him and said that I did the interview well. But they couldn’t get past the fact that I didn’t have a PhD or prior work experience in that area. I got this feedback because it was an internal position. If PhD and prior work experience was a must (and doing well in the interview doesn’t suffice), then just don’t call me for an interview. I didn’t state that I have a PhD or work experience in that area in my resume.

      1. Kimberlee, Esq.*

        To be fair, in this case it sounds (to me, anyway) like they were totally open to your application. I’ve definitely advanced people that didn’t have what I thought to be requisite experience because I thought they had something else to offer, but the threshold for those applicants is much higher, and I just wasn’t “wowed” by them in the end. It’s not that I knew I would reject them because they didn’t have A and B, its that their C ended up not being enough to overcome the deficits they’d experience from a lack of A and B. But C might have totally been enough for a different candidate.

  24. HeatherSW*

    Quick vent: I’m job hunting: hearing nothing is a part of life. However, I applied for a job at a place I have volunteered for three years, interviewed..and I haven’t heard back despite following up. I’m pissed. #vent

    1. Beyonce Pad Thai*

      Can you reach out to people you worked with there? I imagine that’d be fine cause you already know them!

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Yeah, that is a risk in applying at places you volunteer for. It sucks. Is there are similar organization that you could apply at? Do you have a trust-worthy person at your volunteer job that might give some insight to your setting?

  25. Ali*

    I am having a hard time staying positive in my search as I approach 50 applications sent. I’ve had maybe three employers show any interest, and with the end of the year coming, I know hiring and application posting might slow down. I don’t feel as upset as I did a few weeks ago, but I still find myself discouraged as day after day goes by with an empty inbox and no phone calls.

    Anyone have any advice to keep up my energy level and interest into the home stretch? I don’t plan on stopping my search, but I definitely feel myself losing motivation. Although I’m not as upset and sad as I was for a while, I do get discouraged when I see things like “80% of jobs are filled by networking” or “If you talk to someone about your application after you apply, it’s too late.” This blog is one of the only places I haven’t seen those sentiments, so at least there’s comfort in that.

    1. matcha123*

      Take a few days for yourself to relax and do something that’s not related to job searching.

      I found that was really the only thing I could do to keep myself sane during those months of searching.

    2. Jean*

      Ouch. I’ve been there. Nothing like an empty in box to make you feel invisible! Hugs.
      If I recall correctly, you’ve been working full-time throughout your job search? A steady salary doesn’t necessarily elicit job application responses, but it does beat working without income.
      Try to take good care of yourself and find some satisfaction in your tenacity, and in doing some other, non-job-search-related activities that make you happy. Really, the only thing to do is to take a break of sorts and then keep on keeping on. Maybe while you’re taking a break you’ll have some new ideas of places to apply, or new directions to pursue.

      1. Ali*

        I have a full-time job and a part-time gig at a startup company that can’t pay me what I would need to come on full-time, though I know the interest in a more permanent role is mutual. I would happily go to the startup if I could afford the huge pay cut, but I just can’t.

        I am in therapy to deal with my self-confidence that part comes from job-related issues (no calls back, no advancement opportunities at Current Job), and I started to cry in my first session last week. I’m trying to work on improving my attitude in the meantime, and I know Thanksgiving is coming, which is a built-in excuse to take a few days off.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          You know, just as we feel bosses have to let us up for air, we have to let ourselves up for air. Perhaps take a few days for YOU, and line up activities that you will definitely have success at. I did ten things today that I had marginal to no success at. HOWEVER, tonight I am going to rearrange a drawer that has been a mess for a long time. Silly, but I am kind of happy about that. Beings need to succeed at something. Give yourself something to do that makes you feel like “wow, got that DONE.”

    3. BRR*

      If it makes you feel better I got my job and all but one of my interviews without networking. In fact the only job where I had a networking connection rejected me.

    4. Malissa*

      Have a friend or somebody who can be objective look at your resume and cover letters. They might need reworking to get a better response rate.
      Otherwise you may just not have found that perfect match yet. Figure every one you didn’t hear from is probably some place you didn’t want to work anyway.

      1. Ali*

        I did have Alison look at my resume a few months back, but something must still not be clicking. I will probably start re-reading her book and see if I’m overlooking a step in the process.

        Go figure that I’m a writer and editor and can write articles like nobody’s business, but I can’t even put together a cover letter and resume that get responses. Haha. Sounds so bad.

  26. Amanda C*

    I got too close to a friend at work–daily lunches, occasional happy hours, etc., and now I wish I hadn’t. We’ve grown apart and I’ve lost respect for her because of some work-related issues. I tried to take a step back from our relationship and she complained to our manager and I got scolded for upsetting her. How do I disengage from here? I feel like I’m forced to be friends with this person because our boss loves her and doesn’t like me very much. If it matters, my boss’s manager clearly likes me very much, it’s just that my immediate boss seems to view me as something of a necessary evil.

    1. KJR*

      Given the situation, I would still be friendly to her, but make myself unavailable for the lunch/after work stuff. And steer the conversation away from personal stuff if you can, to cut back on the personal connection. I seem to remember a similar situation on this blog where the letter writer didn’t want to eat lunch with someone anymore.

    2. loxthebox*

      Ugh… Your manager is lame. I’d just keep ignoring her and see if you get scolded again. Or be direct with her ‘I’m sorry, I can’t do lunch anymore.’ End of conversation. Is she really going to keep tattling on you and is your manager really going to keep trying to force you to play nice?

    3. CPE*

      I was in a similar situation during my first job. The problem went away when she moved to a different city to be with her husband. I learnt my lessons. I just don’t become very close with the people whom I work on a every day basis. I maintain friendship and become close to the people with whom my wavelength matched once we are no longer working together!!!

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Uh, how does your boss feel about his boss and visa-versa?

      Try not to get so engrossed in the you vs coworker story that you lose track of the story with the bosses. If your bosses are picking favorites because of animosity between each other, then this is nothing you want to get involved in. It only gets messier and messier.

  27. Cruciatus*

    I’m applying to an International Enrollment Advisor position that sounds interesting to me. Does anyone have any experience or knowledge of this or similar types of roles? What might the day-to-day be? What does a great day look like? A bad day? It’s not at a huge school–maybe 4500 students or so.

    The only part I’m less enthusiastic about is the travel part. It only says “Must be able and willing to travel abroad using various means of transportation including air travel…” It doesn’t give any indication how much travel to expect. I actually don’t mind traveling some, but if I’m away from the office more than I’m there that would be a deal breaker. But a few trips a year, no big deal. But everything else about the job is quite appealing so I’ll apply anyway and see what happens.

  28. HigherEd Admin*

    Just wrapped a phone interview that went okay. I prepared all week for it and practiced my pitch until I could recite it in my sleep, and then during the phone call I….just went blank. The interviewer’s questions were phrased in a way I wasn’t expecting, and I guess that threw me off. I think I managed to convey the bulk of what I wanted to, but certainly not as eloquently as I had intended. I’m hoping to make up for that in my thank you note — but send me good vibes, please!

    1. Apollo Warbucks*

      Don’t over analyse your performance I bet you did much better than you thought.

      I’ve left interviews thinking I’d done really well and job was mine but never heard anything else from the company, I’ve had what I thought were poor phone interviews and been invited to meet in person . Recently I applied for a job in the Canadian office of the firm I work for doing exactly the same job as I do in the UK I thought the job was mine and was getting excited about moving overseas. So I was shocked
      when the hiring manager emailed me to say my skills and background were not what he was looking for.

      1. HigherEd Admin*

        That’s so disappointing! I’m sorry to hear that. Things like this always make me wonder how much the posted job description really matches what the hiring manager has in mind for a candidate. Best of luck as you continue your search!

    2. nep*

      It likely did not come across as badly as you perceived on your end. (I once went blank during a phone interview, on a really simple question — Got the job.)
      Good idea to reinforce some of the points you think you could have made more strongly, if the occasion arises, but — of course — not to refer back to the phone interview and what you saw as flaws there. Be done with that and look forward. Good luck.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Good vibes! If you conveyed the bulk of what you wanted to say, then you probably did much better than you think. We tend to be our own worst critics.

  29. matcha123*

    I was thinking about an application/resume I wrote up months ago when I was trying to switch jobs. The job description mentioned something about being familiar with editing and some other things I can’t remember at the moment.

    When I wrote my cover letter, I mentioned that I had experience editing film (print and video) when I was in high school and how that experience helped me communicate better with media staff in my then present job.

    Is there any limit to how far back you can reference experience? Knowing photography terms and what types of stops and starts are needed when editing sound really did help me communicate better with coworkers in that job. But, since I didn’t get so much as a reply from that place, I’ve wondered if they were weirded out by me dropping something from high school in my application.
    What do you all think?

    1. Kai*

      I’m not sure I would have specified that the experience was from high school, but that also depends on how recently you graduated. As long as the experience is something that you’re still pretty fresh on and would still be relevant to the industry, it’s perfectly fine to say you have it, and not go into details about when you learned it.

    2. MsM*

      I suspect they were probably looking for someone with more current editing skills on their resume and that’s why you never heard anything, but do you really have to bring up when you acquired the experience? Wouldn’t just saying “I’ve been able to serve as a liaison with the company’s media staff thanks to my familiarity with editing techniques” suffice?

    3. nep*

      Depends on how long ago high school was. For the most part I’d say I’d leave any mention of high school out, and just note the training and skills.

      1. matcha123*

        Thanks for the replies.
        The job wasn’t focused on editing, but that familiarity was a plus. I never thought that leaving off when I got the skill was something I could do. Especially when my current job was not something directly related to editing (or customer service, etc. in that case).

  30. Ann O'Nemity*

    I’ve seen several commenters talking about how their jobs have morphed over time and how unhappy they were with the changes. Now I’m in a position where the focus of my direct report’s job is moving away from her passion. It’s not a complete job morph, more like the job used to involve A, B, and C but is now moving towards just B and C based on client needs. Unfortunately, this employee is most passionate about A. For those that have experienced job morph, do you have advice for the manager?

    1. themmases*

      When this happened to me, I was really frustrated that whenever I would point it out to my boss, he would just point to my job description and shut me down. I usually wasn’t saying I shouldn’t have to do B and C– maybe not X and Y though– but acknowledgement would have gone a long way. I sometimes felt that I was being treated like a whiner or like I was trying to get out of doing work just for pointing out the fact that the job had changed and asking what I could expect. My boss didn’t seem to realize that I could and probably should leave if the job had nothing to do with my goals.

      My partner’s company handles this a lot better. Lots of new hires come on through a team that is probably not their dream job, but do so with a 12-18 month commitment to that team while they work with their manager and others to figure out where in the company they should advance. My partner has stuck with roles he didn’t enjoy because he saw this promise being backed up for him and his coworkers, and has even accepted short term responsibilities that he was promised he wouldn’t have to deal with because they were part of a promotion.

      I think if you are sensitive to your employee’s professional development and realize that you are basically taking them off track for a while, a lot of people will be willing to stick it out for a reasonable amount of time.

      1. AnonAnalyst*


        Also, are there any other assignments/tasks that she might find more interesting, or that might contribute to her professional development to help her achieve her professional goals? If you’re able to help her have even a small role on those, that can also help her feel like she’s still working toward something she values. Plus, if there’s any flexibility in the role, over time, letting her take on some of those outside or stretch assignments might help shape the role into something she enjoys as much as A.

        I can sympathize with your direct report (and with you as her manager), as I’m sort of in her position right now and HATE it. So much so that while I still like the company I work for a lot, I’ve become increasingly frustrated with the situation to the point that I’ve started putting out feelers to see what else is out there, so I can understand your concern assuming you don’t want to lose this employee. Having said that, a) an expectation of when I might be able to get back on track with where I want my career to go, or b) working on something where I feel like I am developing skills that will help me in the future would help. Unfortunately, my days are 100% B and C which in my case, are tasks that don’t interest me and don’t help me learn new skills (and frankly are mostly using skills that are things I’d like to move away from doing), which is a big part of my current frustration.

        Good luck!

    2. Not So NewReader*

      If you have been in the arena a while maybe you can point out something like this– “I started here X years ago. At that time we did C, D and E. Well, after a few years we dropped E and picked up B, then more time went by and we dropped D and added A. You came in when we had A, B and C. I’d like to encourage you that things do, indeed, change.”

      I had one boss encourage me to stay by showing me other jobs that I could apply for. Yeah, that sounds a little backwards, I know. But her actions meant that she really understood my predicament. It made me think about what my next boss might be and how the next boss might not be anything like her. YMMV.

    3. Jennifer*

      If there’s nothing you can do to get the job slanted back towards A, then well, she either has to put up with it or look elsewhere. I’m not sure what you can do if you can’t get her back in the direction of her passion. Sorry.

    4. C Average*

      If you have a good relationship, let her know that you will understand and be supportive if she wants to start looking for something else. When my job started to morph, I was fairly transparent with my manager that I would eventually need to move on. (The new direction didn’t align with my skills or interests, and in fact is a bit of a nightmare at times due to a learning disability I have that makes me ill-suited for the kind of work that’s taking up more and more of my time. It’s really stressful, and I know I’m never going to really excel at this kind of work.) It’s been really helpful to know that if I want to pursue an internal transfer, she’ll support me and won’t impede my efforts in any way. She’s also gone out of her way to praise me in the places where I HAVE successfully adapted, and that means a lot to me.

      Good luck!

  31. Felicia*

    I got a raise! and my boss said I’ve “more than proven myself”, so I get to take on a project I really enjoy and no longer have to do a project I don’t enjoy as much :) I’m just very happy. This is the first job I’ve ever loved AND done well at. I’ve found my thing!

  32. Triple Flip*

    In every single job I have, I get “voluntold” to be on their version of an Employee Engagement (aka Party Planning) committee. I hate this crap! Just last week, my new leader (my current team was displaced and we were shuffled to a new area in the same company) told me that they nominated me for their new and improved version of the committee. I told them (in a nice but firm way) that I really disliked being a part of these types of committees. Their response? “Well, you don’t have to plan parties….unless the rest of the committee wants to throw parties.”

    Short of finding a new job (I’m actively looking for a new position, both internally and externally), how can I avoid being placed on these committees? Any ideas?

    1. soitgoes*

      There are usually a few people on those committees who are super into the planning stuff. Just stay quiet and let them do whatever they want.

    2. HR Manager*

      Find a few people who you think would love to do this, and offer them as replacements. Ask them that perhaps finding someone who had the right level of enthusiasm for these activities might be a better person to be involved.

      1. Sadsack*

        You could also suggest that they rotate committee members from year to year so everyone gets an “opportunity” to participate.

    3. Jennifer*

      Geez, really? They at least ask politely at my job. I keep turning them down because the only thing I want to do about party planning is decorations.

  33. cereal killer*

    This is somewhat work related, somewhat not. So let me know if I should save it for Sunday’s open thread. I work as an industrial designer (ID)- which is very broad area of design, I understand the design process and could theoretically apply it to many different areas or industries. I’ve been working for the past 10 years designing products of various sorts, but I would really like to move into service design specifically focused on social problems. These jobs and few and far between usually at small consultancies. I had interviews this past spring for two of them, but they both rejected me saying they wanted someone with experience in design for the social sector. Which is your classic catch-22, though to get that experience without a job.

    So I know volunteering is one option to get that experience. My skills as a designer would be listening to consumers, understanding unmet needs, researching, taking a lot of disparate information and making sense of it, organizing info into action items, identifying solutions, and presenting that info to stakeholders. I’ve only been a volunteer at a day to day level- sorting food at the food bank, building some houses for Habitat for Humanity. When I look into more involved volunteer opportunities at organizations it seems like they are looking for people to fund raise, and as an introvert this is my own personal nightmare.

    I know there are lots of people on this board working in non-profits or otherwise well versed in this stuff that might be able to give me some ideas of how to help. I don’t know IF or HOW my design skills would be useful to a non-profit, especially at a volunteer level. Anybody think this would be useful? Have suggestions what types of organizations might be interested in this? Who at the organization I should approach? Thanks for the help!

    1. MsM*

      I don’t know where you’re based, but you might want to check out the Taproot Foundation or other similar groups that connect nonprofits that need higher level strategy assistance with pro bono volunteers.

      I will say, though, that while there is certainly a need for the kind of consulting you’re describing, where most nonprofits really need volunteer assistance is on the implementation side. That could potentially include putting together materials for stakeholders, but it also means stuff like data entry and wrangling other volunteers and staffing events and, yes, fundraising. (And frankly, any action plan that doesn’t include where the funding is going to come from is not going to be terribly useful, so if you’re going to really jump into this kind of work, it might be a good idea to start getting comfortable with that side of the sector. It doesn’t always have to entail making face-to-face asks; you could also help design and write copy for an online or direct mail campaign, or research foundation prospects and put together major donor profiles for the actual major gifts officers.)

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Can you give an example of what you are thinking of when you say “social”?

      My first thought was adaptive equipment (a large area). But then I was not sure if you meant serving individuals or serving communities as a whole.

      I sense that you maybe looking in the NFP sector? But there are plenty of for profits that are also interested in these things- so make sure you are not limiting yourself.

  34. Bend & Snap*

    Does anyone have tips for staying visible when remote? My child is having some health issues and I’m now working 3 days at home to address her issues, and 2 days in the office. I’ve been assured that this will not negatively impact me, but my office is a very “butt in seat” kind of place, and I’m concerned about being out of sight/out of mind when opportunities, reviews and raises come around.

    1. just laura*

      Be super-responsive on email, chat, and phone. Update your project statuses in meetings or in project management software. Good luck to you and your child!

  35. GOG11*

    I’m an admin assistant and, due to lack of available offices elsewhere in the building, I work in the lobby. In other buildings on our campus, the admin assistants are tucked away out of sight. The admin assistant role is mostly supposed to be behind-the-scenes here but I am happy to greet people who come into the building, direct/walk them to where they need to go if they check in with me, etc.

    About once a month, someone will come in and ask me to schedule an appointment with someone, ask if they’re available, etc. I let them know that I do not have the ability to access the calendars/schedules of my colleagues but that they are welcome to check that person’s door schedule and I provide them with the business card of the person they’re seeking so they can schedule an appointment directly with them.

    Due to the fact that I sit in the lobby (I think), some people don’t understand or don’t believe me when I handle their request this way. Thus far, I have simply repeated the what I said above in various ways. Any tips on how to handle this better/more effectively?

    1. TheExchequer*

      Maybe something like: “Each person in this office handles their schedule themselves, so unfortunately, I can’t make an appointment for you”?

    2. Nanc*

      Instead of saying you don’t have access to the calendar, say something like “Dr. Doolittle schedules his own calendar. You should check his door schedule and then email or call him [hand them business card] directly.” I would also suggest they give him several time/day options, etc.

      That puts it square on requester to follow up, as it should! And FYI–I ALWAYS keep my own calendar. It’s very rare I ask an admin to schedule something for me.

      1. GOG11*

        Thank you! I will try this instead. I hate saying “I’m sorry, I can’t help you” even if I can’t. This focuses more on the solution and less on why I can’t help.

        1. Anonsie*

          Depending on your work environment, this still may make you the point contact person for this. So be wary of that.

        2. Part-time receptionist*

          This is similar to the line we use at my job. Part of my job is front desk reception, but reception does not schedule appointments, and we are specifically tasked with being gatekeepers for a specific department people often want to speak to. I give walk-ins the card for who they need to talk to and say, “Everyone here keeps their own schedules, so you would need to call or email [Person].” They will sometimes try to tell me their story again and again, and I just keep repeating, “You would really need to talk to [Person] about that.” We do this pleasantly, but it can take several repetitions for it to sink in.

    3. BRR*

      Also try I only support Jane and do not have access to other calendars because I’m her admin. Bob supports Laura and can help you schedule an appointment.

      1. GOG11*

        Thank you for your reply! Only those who are really high up have admin assistants who work with their scheduling, or this would be perfect. There isn’t anyone (except the person they want to meet with) to send them to.

    4. Anonsie*

      Ohoho. I’ve been doing this for years, and for extra fun I’m not an admin at all.

      So in my experience, no amount of explaining or gently directing them to who can help them or anything like that will ever make it stop because you’re conveniently located and new people will come through all the time. Yes, people still narrow their eyes and look affronted that the receptionist who just told them she’s not a receptionist is being so rude as to not check them in for an appointment. There are giant neon-colored signs on all sides of me announcing that I am not a receptionist, I tell people I can’t do what they’ve asked but they can find the correct people over in [directions], I smile and apologize for not being able to help with more… Nope, people still get cranky.

      My suggestion would be to try very hard to move.

      1. GOG11*

        I am so sorry you deal with this so frequently! I don’t get it too often, but when I do, they’re SO insistent.

        I wish I could move. I am in front of the door and it’s FREEZING in the winter, people sit on my desk to talk to one another and they use it as a work space/supply cabinet. I would NEVER go in someone’s office and take their stapler or sit on their desk. It baffles me, really. I work in a different office for part of the day and I don’t experience any of these issues. I honestly think it’s simply the fact that I’m in a lobby.

        Do you have the option of moving?

        1. GOG11*

          Caveat about the stapler (I feel like I sound overly sensitive): the work area is about 5 feet from my desk and it has all the supplies my desk has. Plus, it is not within reach without walking behind my desk and taking it or, for certain supplies, going through my drawers to find them.

        2. GOG11*

          The “I’ve been doing this for years” that I missed the first time is probably my answer to whether or not you have the option to move.

        3. Persephone Mulberry*

          Sitting ON your desk – while you’re working at it? Rude. But I think it’s more that your desk is unoccupied for part of the day (rather than the positioning of it) that causes people to treat your space as a free-f0r-all even when you’re sitting right there.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      Silly question. Would they put up portable partitions for your work area? Then they could put signs on the partitions instructing people where to go.

  36. Anon Today*

    I have my performance review today and got my written review last night. My manager is smart, reflective and generous so it was fair and useful… but also demoralizing. There were plenty of good things in there but I’m (of course) stuck on the bad stuff… especially the overall message that I’ve been performing at a level lower than I am (competent program management but not as much vision and leadership as is expected for my level).

    I’d love any support or advice!

    1. HR Manager*

      Thank your manager for the feedback. Plan a follow up conversation once the manager is done with all the obligatory conversations, and say you would like to take action on the feedback by getting advice on how to work on those areas. Leadership means so many different things, so I’d ask “Can you give me an example of what you’d like to see me do to demonstrate my leadership skills to you?” Or “What behaviors would you expect to see from me, if I were hitting the right stride in these two areas?” If you honestly thought you were doing these already, important to know how the manager views this.

      Hopefully the thoughtful manager will probe and ask about why you may not be doing this already? Is it skill level? Confidence? At the end of the conversation, have a plan that allows you to get specifics of how to move forward, and how the manager can support your development.

      1. QualityControlFreak*

        Oh yes! These are really good questions, and a smart, reflective and generous manager will see the value in them and help you find the answers.

    2. AnotherHRPro*

      Try to show your appreciation as giving good feedback takes preparation and is hard work. Your manager will feel encouraged if you are appreciative of the feedback and believe it or not, you do want to encourage feedback.

      Assume good intentions and that your manager values you and wants to help you improve even if the feedback expresses some dissatisfaction or criticism.

      Focus on understanding the feedback. Ask yourself if you understand the results. Did you hear any surprises? Why do you think that is? What parts of your job is currently challenging? How do you want to be performing next year? In a couple years? And most importantly, what do you want to do about the feedback you received?

      Then take action. Evaluate the feedback and prioritize development goals. Develop action steps based on the feedback. Create a development plan and share it with your manager.

      Finally, you will want to follow up. I recommend scheduling regular meetings with your manager to get on-going feedback on how you are progressing.

      1. AnotherHRPro*

        During your meeting with your manager, don’t forget to breath. Seriously, if you find you are becoming defensive just take a moment, and a deep breath. By doing so, you will be able to think through what you have heard and determine how best to respond.

        And make sure you listen to the positive feedback as well. By understanding what you are doing well, you may be able to leverage those skills and improve your performance in other areas.

        Good luck!

    3. some1*

      Great advice from HR Mgr, also, don’t beat yourself up over this. We all have room to improve in our jobs and bosses are supposed to tell us that in reviews.

    4. Crow*

      I haven’t seen it mentioned, so I recommend Welcome to Night Vale. I commonly refer to it as community radio from the Twilight Zone. Funny, creepy, excellent characters, and a slow growing romance that is simply awesome. I don’t cheer out loud at much media (Eowyn defeating the Witch King, anyone?), but WtNV had me cheering loudly a couple times. It’s rough at the start, and takes a few eps to get going. Try ep 9, Pyramids. It’s a good representation of the show for much of its current run, then start at the beginning if you like it. Happy listening!

      1. Crow*

        This was supposed to be areply to Nerd Girl below! Wonky…

        To your question, give yourself a few days to process the feedback. I take stuff like that badly for a short time, then my upset feelings over the feedback fade, and I can face the information more rationally. Good luck!

    5. Not So NewReader*

      Vision. Do you know how much discretion you are allowed? If you have an idea, do you feel free to implement it, or does the Pope have to bless it and Congress pass a resolution? Are you feeling brain-drained at the end of the day? If yes, do you have subordinates that would toss around some new ideas with you? Does your boss offer ideas and somehow the ideas skate by you?

      Leadership. Is she down grading you because you are not a visionary leader? Is this one problem with two costumes? Can you subscribe to a journal or an online group that does your type of work and tap their collective genius? What would happen if you went into your boss’ office and said, “Boss, I want to do better but I need to be able to bounce ideas around with you.” Do you have peers? Can you watch them and get ideas from what they are doing?

      I think that both things require reading, staying current. Not a magic bullet, but a good solid start. See if you can find out what other places similar to yours are doing that seems to be working well. Can you apply it to what you do?

    6. C Average*

      No advice, but I’d like to repeat something one of the other commenters said here one time: Constructive (negative) feedback usually means that the person giving it thinks you’re worth some trouble. Which makes sense when you think about it. If you think someone has promise but needs to work on a few things, you agonize over how to deliver that message in a way that will motivate rather than demoralize. You WANT to help that person improve because you see the potential.

      We all routinely encounter people we find lacking, and generally we just complain about them here and figure they’ll eventually move on and not be our problem. We only deliver the hard messages to the ones we want to keep around.

    7. Anon Today*

      Hey all – thank you for your kind words and help here! The review conversation was tough but useful. We really identified one key theme that I need to work on (and I totally agree, and it’s unfortunately a challenging thing – not a skill that I can develop or habit I need to adjust but more a mindset I need to shake) and overall I felt very well understood and supported.

      Someone posted here a while ago some research about women and criticism – something like that a lot of smart women think that when they do a good job at something they expect to receive nothing but rave reviews. That’s definitely true for me. I obviously know there are things about my work that I can improve but for whatever reason it stings to hear that anyone else observes them as well. I’d prefer to think I come across as perfect! :)

      1. Anon Today*

        Also, I should just rave a bit about my manager. She structured the conversation so well, and although a lot of what we spent time on was the stuff that was hard to hear, the conversation as a whole didn’t feel negative – it felt like we were jointly problem-solving. She’s terrific.

        1. QualityControlFreak*

          She sounds awesome, and she clearly thinks you are worth the investment of time and effort, so this sounds like a win-win. How cool is that?

      2. Not So NewReader*

        I think there is an expectation for women to be perfect. That could be a feeling I got from my elders, not sure. I can tell you this from first hand experience, once you decide that you will probably make a mistake here and there and you are going to own your mistakes, a really cool thing happens. You bump up to a higher level. A level you did not even know existed. You notice people actually respecting you MORE. It becomes easier to talk to others about their mistakes/shortcomings. And things that you used to feel you could not learn, all of the sudden these things are not such a big deal. You start to like yourself better.
        Do the best you can at conquering your hurdles and KNOW that there is something pretty cool on the other side.

  37. Zillah*

    Oh, I’ve been waiting for the open thread all week!

    So my current job, which is project based, ends at the end of December. I would really prefer a job with benefits after that, bc I really need health insurance. Right now I’ve been looking for full time jobs, but I’m still at the beginning of my career, and my field is quite competitive, so I’m trying to decide whether I should be applying to pt jobs, too. I don’t want to psych myself out of getting a ft job by accepting a pt one in desperation quickly but at the same time, I don’t want to be left with no job.

    I have fairly low living expenses for my area and decent savings – a pt job and buying a plan on the exchange wouldn’t require dipping into my savings too much. However, it also would leave me unable to pay off my student loans as quickly as I’d like, and I’d need more help from my partner (and maybe my parents, with medical bills) than I’m really comfortable with.

    Ughh. Thoughts?

    1. Zillah*

      This has especially come up bc the place I currently work – which I love the environment of – just sent us all an email about a pt job opening starting soon. It’d be 3 days a week. It’s not really enough to survive on… But I do have savings, and I’ve been grappling with some health issues that might make pt preferable, even considering money issues. :/ I don’t know!

    2. A.*

      Apply for both full-time and part-time jobs. If you’re hired for a part-time and a full-time job comes along, I don’t think any employer in its right mind would begrudge you for leaving and taking a full-time position.

    3. HR Manager*

      Is FMLA an option or an accommodation of sorts? Moving to a PT job would be a permanent change, rather than a temporary solution that might tide you over your health issues, and might leave you stuck if you want to move back FT. If you think it’s going to be the long haul, then maybe PT is an option. I’d think it over and talk to your manager or HR to discuss options, if you think it would help.

    4. Zillah*

      No – my job is ending in December, bc it’s project/grant based. Sorry, this was supposed to be nested in my other comment, it would have made much more sense that way. :(

    5. ProductiveDyslexic*

      BBC Radio 4 (news, factual, drama, comedy)

      BBC World Service (the same, but with a worldwide rather than UK view)

      No adverts on either :)

  38. Iro*

    When is COBRA information typically made avaialable after leaving your job?

    A friend of mine is leaving our office and he is saying that HR won’t mail him paperwork until 15 days after his last day … which would be past the time that the health insurance expires.

    Is this a normal practice? I would think that getting COBRA and other termination paperwork would be given prior to leaving?

    1. HR Manager*

      That seems unusually long, but it can take a bit. We use a 3rd party vendor, and it’s a fight to have them send it out quickly and with accurate information. My blood pressure rises just thinking about having to deal with them. I’ll say for the ex-employee to receive it in 2-3 weeks is not uncommon.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        I’m glad I read this, because my first thought was that 2-3 weeks sounds crazy! I only had to deal with COBRA when I left a big company who dealt with this stuff all the time (and had lots of power and clout to get things done quickly, I’m guessing). I got my COBRA info at my exit interview with HR, which was 2 days before my last day.

        I’m waiting to hear from our head of administration about my COBRA stuff, and this company is much smaller, so I will keep this in mind.

      2. KJR*

        This is accurate. Tell your friend that s/he can sign up for COBRA retroactively if needed. I think former employees have up to 60 days to respond, and another 45 days to actually begin payments for it (although bear in mind that if someone waits this long, they still have to pay for their coverage during that time, meaning your payments will have to “catch up” to whatever month you are currently in). The company can go back and add them back on within that time frame. If your friend has a decent HR Dept, they may be able to tell her the costs before the letter gets mailed out.

        One thing to consider though, COBRA is (usually) extremely expensive, it might be worth having a lot at some other options/policies out there, especially in light of ACA plans/exchanges. Hope this helps.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          This sounds right to me. I was in a pickle a while ago and I am remembering something about waiting 45 days to decide. At the last minute, my other insurance came through so I did not need the Cobra.

    2. TCO*

      I’d encourage your friend to look at his state’s health insurance exchange, too. Even without eligibility for tax credits or other financial assistance, the options there might be a better deal than COBRA.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        This. I looked at Cobra 8 years ago and it was $400 per month then. I knew I could not do that for long – a couple months tops.

    3. bridget*

      Keep in mind that COBRA coverage, if he elects it, is retroactive (I think to the date of termination of regular health care coverage). So even though there may be a gap between his regular health insurance and electing coverage, he would likely still be covered for that gap, although after the fact. If he can, he should reschedule doctors appointments until later, to ease paperwork. If seeking healthcare is unavoidable during the gap, he may have to front the money and get reimbursement through COBRA coverage later, which is a pain, but less of a pain than not being insured at all.

  39. Mister Pickle*

    Just venting: I was contacted a couple of weeks ago by a company who said they have a local opportunity for me. I’m definitely interested, but it’s been slow going: my current job has been pretty intense this past week. I bought Alison’s book and I’m starting to read it. I’m a bit lacking in motivation, to be honest, because I went to Glassdoor and checked on salaries for this “opportunity” and they seem to be a bit less than what I make at my current job (where I also have 5 weeks of paid vacation every year, and I can work from home). So … I guess my motivation is flagging. But I’ll try to give it a push this weekend.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      They contacted you? Seems they should be telling you what the incentive is here for you! hahaah

      1. Mister Pickle*

        *sigh* I need to finish Alison’s book. In the interest of saving time and hassle, I may just level with them and say “here’s what I have now – are you going to be able to offer me better?” The job they’re offering is pretty awesome in terms of work: I let out involuntary Keanu / Matrix-style “woah!”s five times reading the two page description. But at this point in time, a lateral or backwards move in compensation is just not going to fly.

  40. Nerd Girl*

    I have HUGE issues with noises: typing, paper shuffling, pen clicking, etc. I work with several people who seem to be incredibly loud with these tasks and so I end up listening to headphones all day. I find that I prefer to listen to people talking (comedy, motivational speakers, etc) along with the usual music. Does anyone have any suggestions for some new listening material? The stuff I have on the iPod has been here for a while and it’s gotten a bit stale. Any suggestions would be welcome.

    1. GigglyPuff*

      Luckily for me, I’m able to split my attention, so I actually usually need something else going on to focus on normal work tasks. So when my music started getting stale, a co-worker mentioned someone else occasionally watches Netflix, so I asked and started watching shows on my iPod. It’s a great thing, especially if the show is entertaining enough but not something I love so much I don’t work. So I’ve rewatched several old tv show’s enjoyed. So if your workplace doesn’t mind, and you’re able to not get sucked into the show, so you’re continuously watching it, tv streaming has been great.

    2. Keri*

      I also have huge issues with those kind of soft repetitive sounds. When music or white noise isn’t working for me I usually do a quick search for industry related podcasts. For me this is easy because of the nature of my work; I don’t know if that would be true for everyone. It also has the added benefit of being work related if you are in the type of office where others are paying attention to what you’re watching/listening to.

    3. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Serial! It’s an awesome weekly podcast about a 15-year-old murder, but it’s good and really gripping.

      I subscribe to a few podcasts that are just episodes from talk radio and work well as background noise, like Fresh Air on NPR, KCRW’s Good Food, and NPR’s Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me.

      I, like GigglyPuff, and a good attention-splitter, so TV in the background works for me too. There are a few YouTube channels that show old episodes of good stuff. For me, the best have been Happy Endings and Shark Tank.

    4. Gene*

      My podcast list is heavy on science shows; “60 Second Science”, “BBC Discovery”, “Discovery”, “Quirks and Quarks”, “Science Friday”. Also some more entertainment “Penn’s Sunday School”, “Betty In the Sky with a Suitcase”, “Gilbert Gottfried’s Amazing Colossal Podcast”, “Savage Lovecast”, “The Alton Browncast”.

      One thing I love is using a Bluetooth headset. The cord was always a problem for me.

    5. Nanc*

      Reduced Shakespeare Company’s podcasts. Also, any of their audio shows! BBC has some great podcasts about stuff. Short audio books like the Jeeves and Wooster series are pretty light and always funny.

    6. HR Manager*

      Can you stream Pandora at your work? If so, I often do that to mix up the type of music when I need it.

    7. Random Reader*

      I’ve started binge listening to Oh No Ross and Carrie. Ross and Carrie are investigative journalists who look into weird science, cults, and other things that people might be interested looking more into. Very entertaining but also informative.

    8. Emily, admin extraordinaire*

      Old-time radio! Jack Benny, The Bickersons, The Whistler, Lights Out, Suspense (those last three can be really creepy) The Shadow, Fibber McGee and Molly, Dragnet, Johnny Dollar, X Minus One. . . so much good stuff. I know there are several apps on Android (and I’d assume on iOs) that you can stream and/or download (for free) episodes from, or you can Google lots of good podcasts that replay episodes with certain themes or on the same days they were broadcast way back when. Just search for “Old time radio.”

      I’d start with Jack Benny (as long as laughing out loud sometimes won’t be a problem :) ), and maybe some of the Suspense shows. The original “Sorry, Wrong Number” broadcasts on Suspense (they did one on east coast time and one on west coast, each just the slightest bit different) with Agnes Moorehead are stunningly effective.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I love all those old radio mysteries, but I cannot listen to them when I’m trying to edit or do my data work. Talking on radio, TV, or in the background is too distracting for me. Even vocal music is bothersome (I want to sing along), though if it’s a task that doesn’t require a lot of concentration, I can listen to Pink Floyd. I’ve heard their albums so many times I can sort of tune them out/mouth the words automatically So for me, it’s soundtracks, soundtracks, classical, and more soundtracks.

        Somewhat off topic, but I make playlists for whatever book I’m working on and loop them when I’m writing. Always instrumental music, though.

        1. Emily, admin extraordinaire*

          Yeah, I can’t listen to them at work unless I’m doing something fairly mindless, but since the OP mentioned that she liked podcasts and such that require just as much concentration, I figured I’d suggest it. :) I do love them for train rides and commuting, though.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            Yeah, I love to listen whilst I’m doing something like cleaning or sewing, both activities I’m not super fond of. Or yard work, which I really don’t do anymore.

    9. Lalaith*

      Jumping on the bandwagon for podcasts – I love NPR’s Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me and Ask Me Another, as well as Nerdist and the Alton Browncast.

    10. Kimberlee, Esq.*

      My Brother, My Brother, and Me! It’s the only podcast I listen to. I highly recommend starting at episode one (not because there’s continuity, but because it’s changed over the few years it’s been on and it’s a fun evolution).

    11. brightstar*

      Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History.
      Stuff You Missed in History Class.
      We Hate Movies (I just listened to them talking about “Tuff Turf” which I agreed with completely, it’s a terrible movie but also glorious).
      Doug Loves Movies
      Who Charted
      The Smartest Man in the World

      And Seconding Serial. It’s completely engrossing and I love it, love it, love it. I’m totally obsessed with it.

    12. Windchime*

      I like Ted Talks and the Moth radio hour. I wouldn’t be able to work while listening to them (that’s just me), but they are both really good podcasts. I also like On Point and Fresh Air.

    13. Geek Girl*

      More podcast suggestions:

      Back 2 Work (about productivity, working, creativity, barriers)
      If you like that, try Roderick on the Line and Grit (used to be named Quit!)
      The Flophouse is HILARIOUS and I cannot listen at work due to disruptive laughing.
      Judge John Hodgman
      Depending on what kind of nerd you are, you might like The Incomparable (nerd culture: books, movies, TV, comics)
      Pop Culture Happy Hour from NPR

  41. LOtheAdmin*

    First time posting, but I’ve been lurking for awhile.
    This is a great website with very intelligent people posting in the comments and I’m hoping
    that someone can give me some guidance on what to do about my current situation.

    I’ve been at my current job for two years and have been
    looking for another job for awhile. The current job, however, is causing me to have serious anxiety.
    I’ve not had a great career where I am now. In the two years I’ve been here, I’ve moved departments twice. The first move was a disastrous experience,
    complete with the tail end of it with me having a crying meltdown in front of a boss who just stared at me and made me feel like
    a pitiful moron for crying AND working in a call center where I was routinely cursed at by customers. (note that the call I had was particularly brutal
    and I’d already been stressed out by two bad bosses who were demeaning and hurtful nearly everyday for no reason)

    This next move was a promotion to Administrative Assistant, but the department I currently work in is very toxic. Managers yell at each other, slam doors, and communication is terrible through the entire department. The VP that I work for is mentally checked out and spends most days in his office staring out the window. The straw that broke the camels back was that he randomly stated that “members of senior management” notice I spend too much time in the bathroom (??) and that if someone said something to him about it again, he would write me up. Then, in my year end review, he gave me an almost perfect review and said I was an asset to the department. (??)

    My current status is somewhere between spending hours staring at my computer with zero motivation to do anything and being productive for short bursts. Certain tasks cause me to have minor panic attacks (Sending group email is one after a few people responded in a not so kind way to an error I made in an email) and I’m not sure how to handle all of this.

    I’m tired of feeling this way. I’ve made attempts to seek counseling, but the company I work for is being sold, so I’m hesitant to go too
    far into the process because my current benefits will change and I’d have to search for counseling all over again.

    Can anybody offer some tips on getting through the day when the motivation to do so is low?

    1. Zillah*

      I’m not sure about most of it, but I’d strongly encourage you to continue with counseling. Even if your benefits change, many therapists take multiple kinds of insurance, so you might luck out even if the plan changes… And even if you don’t, you can always find a new therapist. What you’re describing sounds super stressful, and I think you’d be a lot better off not waiting to seek help.

      1. LOtheAdmin*

        After re-reading what I said, I think you’re right. I’ve been through so much with this place and I’m
        mentally exhausted by all of the stress and drama. I will continue to push forward with the search
        for a counselor. Thank you!

    2. limenotapple*

      I am so sorry this is happening to you. I was in a similar work situation and did come home crying every night. It was helpful for me to yes, have a therapist, but also find the small things to look forward to every day so I wasn’t just wishing my whole week away all the time. Maybe it’s saying hello to the maintenance guy or having a cup of coffee or whatever. I would also look for all the happy, kind people I could find, even if they weren’t directly associated with my workplace because just seeing someone’s smile or small talk with someone kind made a big difference. And it won’t last forever, even if it feels like it now.

    3. Iro*

      First, get out of there as fast as you can. Start looking for other positions, either in the company or in another, but clearly this department and your last one is dysfunctional and staying in this sort of environment can give you work PTSD (see AAMs article on that).

      In the meantime:
      – Start tracking and evaluating your own performance.
      – Give yourself goals, and reward yourself for succeeding.
      – Stop accepting responsibility for how people think of you if those people you are trying to gain “approval” from seriously complain about bathroom usage at a senior management level without discussing it with you first.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Keep reading here. It’s a healing place to be- people are actually sane! imagine that.
      Instead of staring at your computer, shift over to reading AAM, even if it’s for only a few minutes you need time out from the toxic people.
      Learn about picking work places.
      Slowly move yourself over to job hunting.

      It’s no coincidence that you are having panic attacks and you are not sure how to handle all of this. You’re human. So decide, to grow some part of you to learn how to handle some aspect of this whole thing. I think deciding to pull yourself out of that black hole of a work place would be a great goal. Once you see yourself investing in YOU, the anxiety might go down a bit. Also do some reading on toxic work places so you can better understand what is going wrong here and how it is eroding you.

  42. Cake Eater*

    Corporate versus non-profit work environments question:

    For those of you who have worked in both environments, which did you prefer and why? Likewise, large companies/orgs versus smaller companies/orgs – which did you prefer and why?

    I’m currently in a corporate environment which I’ve enjoyed for the most part. I’m interested in moving to a different segment of the business. I’m currently interviewing for a role in a large non-profit org in town and I’m passionate about the work they do. There are many , many opportunities to move around at my current position and future opps at the non-profit are somewhat limited.

    1. Joey*

      There are tradeoffs. Ive had better experiences in corporate though. The non profits I’ve seen up close through experience or through close personal friends tended to be blinded by the cause and placed much less priority on making sound financial/business decisions. They did things like trying to spend money when the ROI was low, used non profit status as a crutch for problems, looked down on people who weren’t willing to “sacrifice” things like pay for the cause. And they tended to value loving the cause over people who were more qualified at doing the job. In other words I’ve always seen the cause get in the way of running the organization in a smart way.

      1. Monodon monoceros*

        Exactly my experience as well. It was really disappointing actually and makes me hesitant to ever go back to the nonprofit world-although I will likely always be in a state or fed agency, or intergovernmental org, where I am now. I know the government gets a bad rap for management, but I’ve had much better management in agencies than I had at my nonprofit organization.

      2. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Just want to say that while this is certainly the case at some nonprofits, it’s not true at all of them. There are rigorous, well-run nonprofits out there; you just need to probe to see if the one you’re interested in falls in that category or not!

        1. GOG11*

          Is this the sort of thing you could ask about at an interview? If so, could you give an example of how you would word it? If not, would you use your network to find out from someone who already works there? Something else entirely?

          I’ve worked for two nonprofit organizations and, though I’ve always wanted to work in that sector, the lack of organization, good management and general lack of interest in delivering an outstanding “product” really made me question whether I wanted to work at a nonprofit in the future. At one, we provided a service that was in competition with for-profit companies and the collective attitude was that the clients received our services for free so they should be happy to get what they get. I can’t think of a way to have found out about these things before actually working there :/

          1. Joey*

            Ask employees and your interviewers why they work there. If they mostly talk about how much they love the cause or there you go.

          2. MsM*

            Networking’s always ideal, but I’d recommend looking at the organization’s annual report and other informational materials as part of your research. A well-run nonprofit will have something easy to find that’s well-laid out and clearly written, with the organization’s mission and impact and financials discussed in a transparent way that’s consistent with the rest of the information on their website, and may even have an archive of past years so you can track their progress. A disorganized one will have something that doesn’t make a compelling case for why you should support them, or won’t have one at all.

            1. GOG11*

              Ah, yes! I worked for an organization that provided the funding, oversight, and some training for my position but I worked on-site at a different nonprofit. Had I researched the organization I was to work with (rather than just the organization that paid, trained, and provided me to the other org.) I would have seen their very poorly-organized website, at least.

          3. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Talking to people in your network who know the inside scoop is the most reliable way. But also: Look at what they’ve actually achieved in, say, the last year. Do they get real results? That’s one thing will quickly separate organizations into two different camps.

            In addition, here’s a link to a piece I co-authored (from a larger book that I didn’t author) about how philanthropists can assess whether an organization is worth their funds. Much of it is philanthropist-specific, but there’s stuff in here that I think can be adapted to how job searchers could think about and assess organizations too:

      3. Not So NewReader*

        I am agreeing with Joey and praying Alison is right. I won’t go back to the NFP sector. I’m done. What I saw was a few people at the top making huge salaries and everyone else was food stamp eligible. Definitely do your homework like Alison says.

    2. LizNYC*

      I think it’s more of an individual company atmosphere question. At my old company, which was 150+ workers, there was no way for me to advance or change jobs in any way. After 5 years of doing the same thing, I started looking, since I knew I was a) never getting a raise and b) never moving to a different/more interesting position there. People regularly left because they couldn’t progress any further and management made few attempts to keep them.

      At my current, much smaller company (40 people), I started in one position, then after 18 months, was promoted to a completely different department/position since they saw potential in me. And in this position, I can make it anything I want. I’d say in this smaller company, I’ve had more opportunity to try things out. As for advancement, so far it’s been fine. If I wanted to really advance (like become a manager or VP), I’m not sure. But I do know they’re interested in keeping good people and promoting them. OldJob didn’t care.

    3. anon attorney*

      I think the corporate/nonprofit dichotomy is a bit of a red herring, to be honest. What fundamentally matters is whether the organization is solvent and well run or not. Can it attract and keep good people? Is there a professional and humane management culture? Is there a career path/talent management strategy? I’m just a sample of one, but my current company, which is corporate, is very well run and a good place to work; my experiences of nonprofits as an employee have been less positive, but great nonprofits exist (I am on the board of one!) I do think smaller nonprofits are more at risk of the personality cult style of management where a charismatic director and weak board governance result in dysfunctional work cultures, so that is something I’d look closely at.

  43. GigglyPuff*

    Ugh, I’m completely stressing out.

    My job ends in a few months, so started looking recently. One of the first things I found was exactly what I wanted to do, which is rare, especially since it’s also permanent. Applied, had a great phone interview, said it would be a month before they probably knew anything. Month later, got a call to see if I was still interested. We talked about salary, start dates, moving to the new city, etc. Asked for my SSN and then asked for another reference in e-mail the next day.

    It’s now been a week, and I can’t stop checking my phone or e-mail. Everyone tells me this a really good sign, but I don’t want to start dreaming about all the possibilities. It’s just completely stressing me out, making me completely unfocused at work, I want this job so much.

    So asking about things like start dates, references, and for a SSN is good, correct? It means I’m probably primary or secondary candidate?

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      It sounds good to me, but ugh, I feel your stress. SO HARD. If you don’t hear today, email them on Monday and ask if there are any updates. Good luck!

      1. GigglyPuff*

        Thanks! Most of my stress earlier was because they’re training on a new software in December, and part of my job would probably require that software, but I am out of state (but lived where the job is before), and with the holidays, when we discussed start days, they were understanding of it being January before I could probably start.

        So I completely started worrying I would lose the job to someone in state, but did e-mail and let them know, all I would need is the standard two weeks notice for my current job (no time needed for moving, thankfully my mom was very supportive). So hopefully, me being an out of state candidate isn’t a factor anymore. And it is state government and it sounded like were still trying to nail down the salary (had been very firm from the start, but then mentioned a range again in the follow-up call)…

        Sorry for the long details!! Just helps to mention it to people who you know, aren’t vested/want to reassure me. SO ANXIOUS!!

  44. Lamington*

    just got rejected for a short term assignment that i had applied. i did great on the interview and prepared but no dice. :(

  45. TheExchequer*

    So, I may get the opportunity to give some input into the hiring process! I have a fairly good idea what we’re looking for in a candidate (though I should probably nail that down with my supervisor). I know there are some excellent posts in the archive about good questions to ask potential candidates – does anybody have any other tips or things to avoid when talking to a candidate? (Other than combining 39 people and making them cook dinner for me, I mean. :P)

  46. Stephanie*

    How do I handle an angry co-worker? The situation is this:

    He has his own deadlines, separate from mine. Occasionally, things get held up with external sources. This only happens say once a month to every other month. But his level of anger freaks me out. He’ll slam his hands on his desk and mutter swears or the word scumbag. sounds minor, I know. The thing is, it’s the tone that makes me very uncomfortable. It’s not the tone of frustration or annoyance. It’s a level of rage I’ve never encountered…basically in my life. It’s the kind of tone that makes you think someone is about to be stabbed.

    He’s normally very mild mannered. But this sudden outpouring of rage always comes out of nowhere (as I’m not a part of whatever he’s working on and only hear his seemingly out-of-the-blue response) and it badly startles me every time. Our desks share a half-wall.

    Should I say nothing? It’s rare enough and he’s already having a bad day, so let it go? It just–if you could hear his tone. It’s scary.

    1. A Non*

      Ugh, that sounds terrifying. I would be physically tense all day around someone like that. I can’t advise you on what to say or to whom – I have no idea what’s appropriate here – but a good organization would care if there’s something that makes it difficult for you to focus on your work. Is there any chance you could move desks?

      1. Stephanie*

        I wish I could move! My boss prefers us within a few feet of her office though and there are no other spaces nearby.

        1. Sadsack*

          Maybe you should ask your manager if she has noticed your coworker’s behavior. Let her decide how to deal with it.

    2. Colette*

      I’d be leery about saying something when it happens – he’s already ridiculously angry and hitting things and I don’t think it would be safe. You could say something when he’s calm, but I think this is one I’d ask your manager to deal with.

      1. Stephanie*

        I know people normally recommend talking with an offender before going to management, but that’s generally in a situation where someone eats smelly foods or asks overly personal questions. Considering this is an anger issue and it really makes me nervous, I can see why speaking with my boss is an option. Thanks.

        1. Anonsie*

          As someone who does the slam-and-swear when something is driving me nuts (though only at home in private, not at work, because I’m not five years old) I would suggest just mentioning it when he’s in normal mild-mannered mode.

          Expect him to be surprised that you’ve ever noticed and especially surprised that it makes you uncomfortable. Focus on that it’s distracting rather than that it’s scary or concerning, though.

          1. Colette*

            Well, this is scary behavior, so I don’t think that not bringing that up is doing him any favors.

            I agree that Stephanie should bring it up when he’s calm, if she feels like that would be safe for her to do, but it’s reasonable not to want to bring this up with someone who is visibly angry at work.

            1. Anonsie*

              I suggest not making it an issue of “I feel unsafe” because that whole angle could really easily cloud the discussion by what feeling is more or less valid and whether this is a coworker issue or a Stephanie issue and blah blah blah when all that really needs to happen is for him to stop doing it, same as any other disruptive behavior.

              1. Anonsie*

                To clarify, I think it will help Stephanie be rid of it without a big fuss this way, which I’m guessing is what she wants. If she says it makes her nervous she might just get a “oh but it’s just JimBob! JimBob’s a nice dude! Don’t be nervous!” or, on the opposite end of the spectrum, it might turn into a Big Thing where they get moved around and Stephanie is giving statements or something over the top like that.

                If it’s just about how he startles the crap out of you periodically, people would be hard pressed to try to explain away what is obviously inappropriate behavior.

          2. Mister Pickle*

            This. In my personal experience, I’ve encountered people acting like this, and will typically say something like “Dude, you okay?” Admittedly, this may or may not work for you, depending on your personal style, and just how over-the-top this person is acting.

            Some people do stuff like this just to release tension. As Anonsie notes, he may not even realize that he’s being overheard.

            Having said that: if your gut feeling is such that you can’t do this because he scares you, then don’t do it. I’d personally try to bring it up with him when he’s calm (for me, that would be more difficult than “Dude, you okay?”) and only go to mgmt if you absolutely have no other option.

            1. Anonsie*

              Yep. Seriously though, these folks are not extremely angry, and they’re not more likely to suddenly become violent with you than anyone else. In this guy’s case, he’s doing it in a place that is inappropriate because to him this is a totally normal expression and it’s not associated with being extremely angry or violent or anything like that. People do different things when they’re really frustrated– I’ve sat by folks who tap their feet at lightning speed, sign or groan loudly, type furiously, slap their phones back into their cradles, all kinds of things that come out naturally but aren’t nearly as noticeable. Usually they don’t notice it or they don’t realize how well you can hear it, and just pointing it out is all you normally need to do.

        2. Colette*

          If it were a “my coworker is doing X, and I don’t like it”, I’d say talk to him yourself, but this is “my coworker makes me feel unsafe”, which IMO means it’s fine to ask someone in authority to address it.

        3. GOG11*

          If you’re concerned for your safety in the moment, I would recommend excusing yourself from the room/area until he calms down. It’s not your job to de-escalate the situation in the moment if it puts you in harm’s way. I’m sorry I don’t have advice for how to approach him or a manager when things aren’t tense, but your safety should come first.

    3. ExceptionToTheRule*

      I really think it depends on the person. I work with one guy I can say something to and one guy who I just let it go. I’ll admit I’m more than a bit inured to the behavior (which is disgustingly common in broadcasting) and as long as chairs aren’t being thrown, I’m kind of “eh.” I can understand how it makes others feel unsafe though, as outbursts like that aren’t cool in most workplaces.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      My husband was very mild-mannered and even-keeled. So when he got ticked off it was a stark contrast to his normal personality. I think if we see people in varying degrees of anger we tend to be less concerned about it. Since I was married to the guy, it did not bother me. I knew it was not about me. However, some of his other family members were scared by it.

      My point is that these even and mild people can really give us a jolt when they blow a fuse. Just because the difference is so biiiig.

      You know your limits. If you can’t bring yourself to talk to him then. please, go to your boss. Do not sit there scared. Just don’t. I have reported a person for their temper because I did not feel safe around that person.
      There have been other times where I have confronted people directly. In those cases, I felt reasonably safe AND I knew just what I wanted to say. I kind of felt that the conversation would be okay. I don’t think this describes your setting. Please talk to your boss.

  47. limenotapple*

    Is it weird to bring a humidifier into work? And does anyone have a small one they like? My work is 10-12% RH and I keep having nosebleeds and/or asthma problems.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Not weird, just make sure you clean it regularly! Those things can develop mold and mildew very quickly. You may have to take it home to bleach it.

      1. Artemesia*

        I use one that makes steam so that the water is boiled. You can also get cartridges that disinfect the cold water ones — I just got one today so I don’t know how well they work yet but it is supposed to prevent bacteria and mold. This time of year I have totally ripped up sinuses and miserably itchy skin rashes if I don’t use a humidifier. They come in all sizes and it is easy to find really small ones. I saw a ‘travel humidifier’ that uses a bottle of bottled water as its reservoir. I am very tempted to get one.

        I know LA is dry as in drought. Is it also dry as in needs a humidifier? I will be visiting for a week and don’t want to dry up and blow away.

    2. bridget*

      I have this one, and like it a lot. How well it will work at work will probably depend on how open your office plan is – if there is too much open space, it might not humidify the air enough to make a huge difference.

      I don’t use my humidifier anymore, because I had my nasal passages cauterized. If you haven’t looked into it before, I’d recommend it – I went from 3-4 nosebleeds a day, of varying severity, to zero. It was way less uncomfortable than I anticipated. (Obviously, that won’t help with asthma issues).

  48. Happy Anon for This*

    I went anon for this because I don’t want to potentially out myself. A few weeks ago, I cried in the office (I know, big no no). Fortunately, it was in a manager’s office and not in the cube farm. This manager listened to my (many) concerns about my job–for which I’ve felt overstretched and undertrained–and encouraged me to tell the higher ups about it. I hesitated at first, since I didn’t want to go over my immediate manager’s head (not the one I cried in front of), but I decided that I could either continue being miserable and hating my existence or attempt to make it better. Well, the higher up listened and was very receptive. They knew something was wrong in my dept., had already hired a consultant to address the larger issues, and wanted to hear my opinions. Was also astonished at what I’m assigned, what I accomplish, and wasn’t surprised that I feel like I’m taffy pulled waaay too thin. Vowed to make it better — and it already has been. Guess the moral is sometimes it’s OK to cry/sound the alarm–if you’re not a crier/complainer (I’m definitely not)–since it can be a wakeup call that something’s not right.

  49. themmases*

    I have a question about leaving a toxic workplace.

    At my old job I became very close friends with a coworker who had a similar role. We bonded over the poor treatment, unreasonable expectations, and our inability to be recognized or promoted no matter how much responsibility we took on. We helped each other apply for schools related to our job (me grad school in a research field, her med school) and I left this summer for a great program and assistantship I’m really happy with. She just got accepted to med school and is winding down her time there.

    The thing is, keeping in contact with her drives me up the wall. I felt that the people we supported at our job really compared us and played us off each other (to my detriment, since I was one level below her even though by the end neither of our titles reflected our roles). At the time, it hurt but it was easy to see that it wasn’t my friend’s fault and we would be better off for working together. Now my friend seems to want to contact me to vent about this job just like before, which stress me out since it brings up bad memories, but shuts down if I share at all. Other times I’ll get texts from her about who from that job is so happy for her. She’s obviously closer with these people than I ever was, whatever their faults, and that hurts too. When we talk, I don’t really feel like my friend understands my career decision– or values the work I did that led me down this path– any more than the terrible people I worked for. It’s just a mess, and it makes me less happy for her when of course I’d prefer to be.

    I don’t want to take a break from talking at all, but I’m getting there. My friend knows that talking about this job hurts me, but she still forgets and brings it up or changes the subject but not enough. Sometimes I wonder if we ever would have been so close at all if not for this intense job experience we went through together.

    1. Nerd Girl*

      I have no advice but I can commiserate. I worked for a company with a toxic enviroment and several co-workers and I bonded over the terrible things we put up with. I left the company several years ago and realized soon after that my relationships with these women were based on the horrible environment and that without it we had little to nothing to talk about. It was sad to let them go becuase they did make a bad situation bearable and without them encouraging me I would never have left the company for something better, but I couldn’t continue to dwell on things going on in a place I’d left behind. I just let them drift away and noticed that as I stopped reaching out to them, they did the same.

    2. Mister Pickle*

      Some relationships have lifespans. This one – which apparently started under somewhat unnatural circumstances – may well be at an end. Or at least a ‘break’, until maybe circumstances change to better support the friendship.

    3. Miss Chnadler Bong*

      I would be upfront and consistent with her when she brings up the job, ie, “I’d really rather not talk about that workplace, it really triggers bad memories and anxiety when I hear about it”. And stay true to that. Don’t talk about it. Also, if the relationship is mainly via text, don’t feel like you always have to answer, especially not immediately.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Uh, I think I was that friend to someone else. I can see her saying some of the things you are saying.

      I think that you should say directly that you really mean it- you do not want to talk about Old Job. You value her friendship and you want the two of you to talk about other things. You can say you recognize she is in survival mode trying to get to the end of this, but you also need to get to the end of it. And wouldn’t it be nice to talk about something other than That Place.

      Give it one last shot- you clearly care about your friend or you would not have taken the time to post. It could be that you were friends “for a reason” and that is it. Or it could be that you remain friends but med school swallows up every minute of her existence. I know I have said to people. “I can’t keep going through this with you. If you need someone to do that for you, I am not that person.” Throw it out there and see what she says. At least you gave her a chance to really think about this.

  50. E.R*

    Do any college/university/professional certification course instructors have opinions about students writing thank you notes after a great class? I want to write one after my current professional certification course concludes in December, because this instructor ran a really great course in a program that varied a lot in terms of quality instruction. Any chance this will be weird?

    1. EmilyG*

      I teach in a program like that and treasure such messages! I’m also pretty happy to stay in touch with students about job-hunting and whatnot, too.

    2. Future Analyst*

      Go for it. In my experience, people who do a fantastic job like to be acknowledged, and even though it may not be standard to get a thank you note, it’ll be appreciated.

    3. AvonLady Barksdale*

      That would be so nice! It never hurts to send a sincere note telling someone they did a great job, that you learned from them, etc. I would do it via email, for two reasons: 1) a card might seem a little over-the-top, and 2) an email can be saved and shared with the dean, school administrators, etc.

    4. Jillociraptor*

      I often wrote notes to my faculty thanking them for a great class and sharing something I was taking away. It was always really well-received.

    5. Artemesia*

      It will be treasured. And better yet send it by email and copy her dean. I once had a doctoral student in a professional program I taught in write an incredibly glowing and specific note like this to me which basically said ‘I have been in education for over 30 years and this is the best teacher I have ever encountered.’ And then he went on to specify why he thought so. He copied my Dean and it was really helpful in cementing my reputation with her. (I didn’t get all that many of these over the years but I still remember them all)

      Administrators like to think well of their teachers and this kind of feedback is incredibly politically useful to teachers.

  51. EmilyG*

    Maybe I’ve gotten to this thread early enough this week to ask a general question! What do you all think about making a planned relocation with no job lined up? I’ve been trying to apply for jobs on the other side of the country for a while, with no luck so far. I work in a fairly abstruse area where jobs aren’t thick on the ground. But I don’t like where I am now and am considering setting a deadline for just going back. I have family I could stay with, pretty comfortably, for free. It still seems like such a risk–what if I couldn’t find appropriate work for a long time, would it be a bad choice to take a lower-level job to cover the gap, what if I couldn’t get my own housing or deduct the cost of relocation due to not finding work fast enough…? But life is too short to live so far away, and the golden handcuffs chafe.

    1. HigherEd Admin*

      I did this. I don’t regret it for a second. The months when I was crashing at my sister’s house were a bit embarrassing (since I had previously been a really independent and self-sufficient adult), but being local really upped the frequency of getting called in for interviews.

      One thing I relied on were recruiters. I was connected with a temp-to-hire firm that had a great reputation and they worked really hard to fit me into a job that would get me through a couple of months.

      The cost of relocation was my biggest hurdle. I moved 5 hours north, and saved a little bit of money by hiring a U-Haul rather than professional movers and asking friends/family to help load up the truck.

      1. drt*

        Same. I actually still lookin for work for up and moving about two months ago now, but I’m so glad to be here. I’m temping at the moment and while nothing has solidified yet, I’m making connections I wouldn’t have made from afar and getting to know the city so that when the time comes to start working I feel familiar with the commute and the community. It’s not for everyone, and it does feel awkward to go from being an independent, successful adult to living with my family again while I job hunt, but for me I’m so glad I did it.

      2. EmilyG*

        Thank you both so much for your responses. I wouldn’t do this for nearly a year, most likely, because I live in a city with stiff penalties for ending a lease early. Therefore, I’m looking at the end of my next lease for a strategic departure, because I’ll actually save a lot of money over leaving at another time of year where I’d be breaking the lease. I have time to think about it and save up, but it’s really reassuring that it isn’t guaranteed to be a fiasco!

  52. C.*

    I just started a new job about a month ago as an assistant manager. My direct manager started shortly before me, and isn’t thriving in the position. Last week, one of the higher-ups met with me briefly to let me know I’m fitting in well and he really wants me to succeed in the organization. He also mentioned that he would like me to demonstrate more leadership, and basically told me not to be afraid to step on my manager’s toes because I have his support. I have heard rumors that I will be promoted to manager if my current manager doesn’t improve. I guess I’m looking do advice on how to demonstrate leadership. I already have been sort of cleaning up the messes my manager creates and catching the balls he drops; the higher up told me to be sure I receive credit for what I’ve been doing but I’m not sure how to do that while still showing respect for my manager.

    I would also appreciate any resources (articles, books, etc.) on demonstrating and improving leadership and management skills! I haven’t received much formal management training and am really looking for ways to improve and learn.


    1. Artemesia*

      Boy way to mismanage. The higher ups are asking you to kneecap your manager? They need to deal with him and you need to be careful. Lay claim to your triumphs but carefully — e.g. there may be moments in meetings when you can update the group on how something has been dealt with or there may be moments when your sending an email to your group about an issue will lay claim to your success — but I’d be very carefully about ‘stepping on toes’ here. Those encouraging you to do this should be dealing with their manager, not undercutting him. How will you like working with them if they do the same to you.

      1. Mister Pickle*

        How will you like working with them if they do the same to you.

        Yeah. I call this the Human Sacrifice Fallacy: “Lord Cthulhu grows impatient! Help us snare your boss tonight so that we may make a sacrifice, and his job will be yours!” “Sure! Oh umm … But how do I know you guys won’t sacrificeme next?” “Oh, we’d never do that to you! We like you!”

        If nothing else, are you picking up on how your upper management thinks you’re stupid?

    2. Not So NewReader*

      I agree, they are showing you how they will treat you if they decide that they don’t like you so much.

      Maybe read articles about managing up? No idea. But continue to bat clean up, learn as much as you can and I guess keep the boss in the loop as much as possible. I would not step on your manager’s toes. The next thing that happens is that the big boss says “oh, I never said that.” And then you are screwed.

  53. Nashira*

    I came out to my boss this week about struggling with major depression, and being aware that it was impacting my workload, and it went so much better than I feared. I figured it was wise to say something when only one minor task was backlogged, instead of waiting until I was in trouble everywhere or randomly burst into tears at my desk again. I’ve got her support for modifying my schedule some due to hopefully-imminent therapy sessions, which is a big relief, and she’s helping me catch up the one task since I have a work-related injury that interferes with it.

    I’m pretty proud of myself for saying something. My parents always told me to hide the mental illness or I’d never work again, even if it’s so bad i have suicidal thoughts and want to self-harm. Or cry randomly at work. It’s a big deal that I’m overcoming that to get the help and treatment I need, and I just wanted to brag about myself.

    1. Future Analyst*

      So happy for you that you said something. It’s much easier to work with someone who is dealing with issues who acknowledges it and wants to make sure that it doesn’t negatively affect their company/colleagues, and I’m really glad your boss responded well. Good luck! :)

    2. loxthebox*

      Good for you! It’s a huge deal to be able to do that. I suffered a long time because somewhere in my head I believed that depression was something that happened to other people and that I didn’t have anything to be depressed about. Seeking help was the best thing I ever did, and it was really really hard to admit to myself that I needed it. Even after I made an appointment with my doctor I kept thinking I should just cancel it because I was thinking she’d just laugh me out of the office and my lack of depression would be super obvious. Thankfully that was not the case, and I’m on medication now and the downer feelings are because my job sucks, not because my brain is being a jerk.

      Hang in there, I’m proud of you.

    3. Trixie*

      Well done. I’m sure it was difficult but sharing what you’re dealing with will hopefully take some of the pressure off. Focus on it a healthy way without the added stress of it colliding with your work world. And kudos to your boss too for responding in a productive, helpful manner.

    4. Jillociraptor*

      This is great. I’m really struggling with how to talk to my boss about this and it’s really awesome to hear about a conversation that went really well.

      I hope that you are getting the support you need to recover!

    5. Miss Chnadler Bong*

      Congratulations! I have my three month performance evaluation coming up and am considering telling my supervisor about my inattentive-type ADHD and anxiety disorder, as both can get in the way at times of me performing up to my full potential. It’s great your supervisor was so supportive and it took a lot of courage to tell her!

      1. Keri*

        Please report back if you do! I’ve been having some work issues lately partly due to my own ADHD, and it’s never been something I felt comfortable discussing at work.
        I hope everything goes well with your manager if you decide to bring it up!

    6. Not So NewReader*

      Well done. Our problems cannot own us if we confront them. You are confronting yours from so many angles, it’s amazing. You should be proud of yourself and proud of the effort you put into this. May you have many more successes!

  54. Rita*

    Does anyone have any marketing classes they recommend? Can be online or in person, or even seminars (I’m in the New England area, if that helps). I recently moved over to the marketing team, and while I’m doing well with creating and cultivating ideas, I’m kind of winging it because I don’t have a marketing background. Just some experience here and there over the years assisting with marketing.

    1. Kimberlee, Esq.*

      I love this blog, and they often do webinars and stuff too. I think that sort of reading up on blogs and articles and just sort of immersing yourself in the field is probably better for what you’re looking for than a real “class.” Good luck!

  55. pizzagrl*

    Are there any EXECUTIVE ASSISTANTS out there who can talk to me about what it takes to be an exceptional EA? Skills? Approach? Attitude? Etc. I really want to mold myself into one. I’ve obviously done some of my own research but would love to hear from the AAM commentors. Thank you!

    1. Betty*

      Ah, my comment is awaiting moderation because I included a link. There’s a blog titled “Musing of a High-Level Executive Assisant” you might be interested in. It hasn’t been updated in awhile but I have found some helpful tips. However, I’m not an executive assistant.

    2. Sabrina*

      Antici…pation (couldn’t resist) basically you have to be three steps ahead of your boss to know what’s coming up and what needs to be done.

    3. Joey*

      Anticipating what your boss needs and exactly how he wants it done is the holy grail of ea’s. And I’m not just talking about office type stuff. I’m talking about the mental aspect too. Knowing things like when your boss doesn’t want to be bothered, (or knowing how he prefers to be bothered) when your opinion will be welcomed, and when he’s having good/bad days. Essentially, when you can read his mind and give him what he wants and things he needs but may not realize he needs you are there.

  56. Fed Engineer*

    I work in the federal government. I have an interview coming up for a promotion in a different office within the same agency. I’d normally wait until I had received (or accepted) a job offer to discuss it with my management. Given the interview structure (a presentation followed by meeting with a lot of staff in the other office), I’m concerned my supervisor will find out about the interview through the grapevine. The hiring manager has promised to keep things as confidential as they can, but if 50+ people know I’m interviewing…that’s a lot of people to keep a secret. I figure being proactive and discussing it beforehand will be better than him finding out through another source. He’s a long time federal employee so understands the difficulty in getting a promotion, but it still feels awkward. Any tips/thoughts/concerns on how to handle this conversation?

    1. Joey*

      Yes, just tell him you love your job, but feel like you’re ready for more so you’re looking at opportunities in the organization. He’ll understand.

  57. chump with a degree*

    I had a bad tooth pulled and it’sgoing to be six months before I can get an implant. How do you feel about interviewing someone missing a front tooth?

    1. GigglyPuff*

      My advice, just casually mention it to the interviewer beforehand, like in the e-mail confirming time. That generally seems to the be the answer to questions like this around here.

    2. Betty*

      I don’t know your situation but they can’t give you anything temporary? My husband got into an accident and lost a few front teeth. They were able to put in some temporary teeth somehow (sorry, I’m fuzzy on the details). They were nowhere near as nice as his implants are but they did the trick.

  58. Purple Rose*

    I have been at the same company for 15 years. I am starting to look for a new career. I have gained a lot of experience in several areas. I manage a small hotel. I don’t have an assistant in the sense that I do everything from security reports, payroll, invoices, project scheduling, and a whole lot more. My problem is that I don’t know where to go from here. I don’t really want to go to another hotel, at least not managing one. I am qualified for a wide array of jobs and I don’t know where to start. I thought about going through an employment company but I hear too many negative things about them. Has anyone been in this type of situation? I feel like I’m starting from scratch.

    1. Nanc*

      Hmm. Well, you have some solid skills that would work well in lots of businesses. Are you interested in staying in hospitality and tourism, but in a different area? Conference Center? Tourist attraction? Chamber of Commerce? Non-Profit? Event Company? Parks and Recreation? Museum? First step is the hard one, but remember, you have a job so you’re in a position to take your time looking. You might start by attending gatherings at your local chamber–they often have events where non-members are welcome.

      Volunteering is often a great way to get a handle on whether you’d like a new industry/experience. If you’re not able to commit long term, you could try volunteering for special events–those always need extra hands.

      Finally, is there any way you can change your current job so you like it better? Is the owner receptive to suggestions? If you can figure out what you don’t like and offer suggestions to make it change for the better, at the very least you’ll be doing something different while you look around.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Start to narrow it down by chucking the parts you did not like or were not good at. This should leave the stuff you like and the stuff you were good at. This becomes a foundation for thinking about the next job.
      Then think about what is important to you- location, hours, pay, etc.

      This helps you to start to build a frame work for what your choices might be.

  59. Excel Geek*

    I am dealing with a first in managing. Another manager told me that my employee (I only have one direct report) and his have been abusing the company ping pong room, sneaking off to play more than is appropriate. I am stymied, because I sit right next to my employee. He is so quiet that I sometimes don’t know whether he is there or not. He has been getting his work done, and fairly well, but I’ve noticed he doesn’t go the “extra mile” that some of his peers do. Obviously, I have to talk to him about the ping pong issue (we are both out today, but I just heard the news). Any advice on how to handle this? I have been lucky as all of my previous employees have been stellar, so never had to pass along negative feedback, so this is new to me!

    1. TCO*

      It doesn’t sound like ping-pong is really the problem here. The problem is that he’s doing a good job but not an excellent job, and you’d like to see him reach for the next level. If he stops playing so much ping-pong he can just waste that time on something else. Ask him if there are projects or tools you can give him to help him excel.

      1. Allison*


        The performance should be addressed first and foremost. You can bring the ping-pong into it by saying “people have noticed you’ve been playing a lot of ping-pong, but I’d like to see you spending more time on X.”

    2. MissLibby*

      Sounds like the other manager doesn’t want to address the issue with their own employee and is hoping you will solve the problem for them by telling your employee to knock it off.

      I do agree with other commenters that you also need to deal with the performance issue….otherwise the employee will likely just replace ping pong with some other activity and still won’t be going that extra mile.

    3. AdAgencyChick*

      Do you NEED him to go the extra mile? (ie, is the “extra mile” not truly “extra”?)

      If you don’t, then I don’t know that you need to do anything (not sure how one defines an “appropriate” amount of time to be playing ping-pong, really). Just that when you have discussions with this employee about his career path, you’re clear with him that doing what he’s doing is good enough to stay employed, but it’s not going to put him on the track to [insert raise, promotion, or whatever advancement is appropriate here]. If you and he are both fine with that, what’s the problem?

    4. Mister Pickle*

      One thing: I agree with the others that his performance is the real issue. But the ping-pong thing? I wouldn’t even discuss it unless I saw it happening with my own eyes. In general, I will avoid confronting a team member about problem behavior until I’ve had a chance to investigate it myself. It’s a matter of respect for my team, but also it’s a matter of not looking dumb – this other manager says your guy has been abusing the ping-pong room – then later it turns out he mis-identified your guy, he meant Bob’s direct report. Sorry!

    5. Kimberlee, Esq.*

      Ugh, if you don’t want your employees playing ping-pong, don’t buy them a ping-pong table! This reminds me a lot of the complaints you hear about unlimited PTO policies causing people to take less time off. The problem isn’t the policy, it’s that management is being crappy about setting expectations.

      Yeah, if your employee is playing ping-pong four hours a day, they probably can get more put on their plate. That’s not the ping-pong table’s fault! Unless you’re going to put up a sign that says “No more than 20 minutes of ping-pong per day” then you have to deal with the fact that some people will play more than others, and that you just have to do the work to manage their performance. (None of this is directed AT you, Excel Geek! I am frustrated for your situation, especially if you’re of the opinion that your employee’s ping-pong levels are fine!)

    6. Mister Pickle*

      I’ve been thinking about this. One more thing, and I don’t mean to second-guess you, but – was this lack of “extra mile” something you observed before the other manager came to you? If so, fine. But if it only became apparent after you heard about the ping-pong abuse – I’d think long and hard on just how much of a problem it really is.

      I think AdAgencyChick has the right idea about how to talk to him about it. But for me personally, I’d probably end up sounding like Jennifer Aniston’s boss in Office Space: “We need to talk about your flair.” and it all goes downhill from there.

  60. Allison*

    I’m thinking of asking my manager if I can work from home once a week. I don’t mind going into the office, or working with the team in person, but right now things are really busy and a lot of people are stressed out. And I work in a high-traffic area, so people are constantly stomping past my desk, huffing and puffing away, or stopping to talk and mentioning how busy they are. While my workload doesn’t stress me out, I find myself internalizing the stress levels in the office, and sometimes feeling guilty, and I’d rather have one day a week where I can get stuff done in a more peaceful, quiet place. I’d plan it around meetings and in-office events, and have it coincide with other stuff that would require working from home (so if I needed to see a doctor, the day of my appointment would be my WFH day).

    Does this sound reasonable? In general we’re pretty flexible on working from home when needed, and my boss did mention he might be open to letting me work from home once a week or so when I interviewed. Have other people asked to do this for similar reasons?

  61. Sabrina*

    I think this may have been asked before but my Google-fu skills fail me. My husband has been interviewing for a job he found out about from a former co-worker. He had the second interview late last week, and now they are doing the background check. But he hasn’t been offered the job yet. I’ve always had it where I was offered the job, pending the background check. To me it doesn’t make a ton of sense to do the check before the offer because how do you know the employee would even accept it? Seems like it’s spending money if you don’t have to. And this isn’t just a reference check, this is a standard BG check, and not for a job that requires clearance or anything.

    1. HR Manager*

      Were you googling for whether it’s legal to do so? It’s certainly common (and advisable on a legal front, in my opinion) to offer first and then check, but as long as the employer doesn’t base its decision to make an offer on a factor that could be construed as discriminatory, the company can check before hand. Like you said, it would also be a waste if the person doesn’t accept an offer, but that might be a small financial risk for a big company.

    2. MissLibby*

      I had this requested of me one time. It was for a management position with a local government and they wanted me to complete the same background check that they used for police officers-very intense, every detail of your life back to childhood, pages long questionnaire, etc. I asked if I was being offered the job contingent on the background check and they said no, all of the finalist were being asked to complete it and it would be used as part of the decision making process. I withdrew my application at that point.

      It really felt like an intrusion for a job that I may or may not even have a shot at, not to mention a colossal waste of time for me and the person conducting the background check. I also felt like they were really opening themselves up for a discrimination lawsuit based on the detailed information they were requesting in that background packet. The whole thing just made me feel like it was not a place I wanted to work. I was also not desperate for a job, so that made my decision to withdraw easier.

      1. Sabrina*

        I don’t think it’s super intrusive, just a regular one like if you’ve got a criminal record, where you’ve worked, gone to school, etc. I agree I wouldn’t want one in detail like that if it wasn’t necessarily a job I wanted.

      2. C. Also*

        Same here. I was approached by a company–one of my co-workers knew they were looking and recommended me–and asked to come in for an interview. I went in and interviewed, and then, before they would even tell me a JOB TITLE, they wanted to do a full background check. I thought that was really weird, and withdrew my application. There were other reasons too, but that was one of the main ones.

    3. NoPantsFridays*

      The only time I had a background check before a job offer was when I was the second (or possibly third) choice candidate. If the first choice had failed her background check and I’d passed, I would probably have been offered the position. As it was, she passed and I was rejected. So that might be it.

  62. It's Only Me*

    I have been with this smallish company about 7-8 months now. I was hired to essentially produce content for a daily newsletter. After a short time it became clear I was able to accomplish what it took my predecessor took all day to do with a couple of hours to spare, so we talked about expanding my role a bit. Largely this has been doing editing work.

    In the meantime, the company contracted a marketing firm to produce a marketing and communications strategy. While we were waiting, I was tasked with coming up with a content marketing strategy for just one of our projects, which I did, and my boss, the CEO, loved. Shortly thereafter we received the plan from this third-party firm and my boss pulled me into his office and has said that he’d like to continue to hire this firm to advise on the strategy but he wants to have somebody in-house take the reins on implementing and overseeing the plan (i.e. me). In time this other firm will play less of a role as I gain experience in the role.

    I’m excited for this opportunity: this is my second job after doing a humanities PhD and I’ve been eager to show I can do more than entry level stuff. However, it sounds as though my boss wants me to retain most of my current duties on top of this new role. We talked about this and I said I was concerned about capacity, as the new duties will require a lot of hands-on work, more than I can deal with in the 2 hours a day I have saved from the efficiencies I’ve added to my primary role. The other issue is that to me, this sounds like significantly more responsibility for me, and I am wondering if I should be looking for, if not a promotion-level raise, at least a title change (I’d really love a title that doesn’t sound so entry level). The concern is that the reason they want me to continue to do my other role, and the reason they’re not going outside to hire somebody with more experience to do this job they want me to do, is because they aren’t in a position to add salary on at this time.

    What should my approach be here? I’d really, really like the title change at least, and obviously I’d love the raise. I also feel I have well exceeded expectations up until this point, otherwise they wouldn’t be looking to me for this new role. But, I haven’t yet been here a year, and it’s not as though I’m about to threaten to go take another job. Any advice?

    1. PX*

      Ask! As is the mantra here: come up with solid arguments for your case (which it already sounds like you have) and then just ask. You’ll never know if you don’t try.

      1. It's Only Me*

        Is it okay to do that when I haven’t been there a year yet though? That’s part of what is holding me back.

        1. NoTurnover*

          If you’re taking on significantly more responsibility, I don’t think it matters how long you’ve been in the role, either for asking for a raise or for asking for a title change. You’re doing more/more challenging work; it’s completely fair to at least ask to get something in return. Good luck!

  63. Brett*

    Small thing that I am trying to figure out.
    I am applying for a position with an online resume submission (past into the box) where it matters that I do presentations regularly (and papers). I started putting together my list, and it turns out that I have done 30+ presentations in the last 7 years; 19 in the last 3 years.
    I cannot put all of them on my resume, but I am not sure how to handle this.

    I have done 10 presentations so far in 2014. Two were invited presentations in the last year for the company I am applying to. One was very significant (international webinar), the other was less so (moderated discussion at a conference they sponsored). Three other presentations were for a regional conference but directly related to this job. The rest were workshops, which means I was in front of an audience for 4 hr to 16hr.
    In 2012/2013 I did more workshops, a plenary at a major regional conference, and multiple invited informal presentations but for fairly high level groups in my field.
    And I have a cluster of presentations in 2007 and 2009 related to a significant published paper and award I won with it.
    I think I could prioritize these fairly easy, but I am not sure how many to list or how to address the fact that I have done many more than I would be listing.
    Any advice on this?

    1. Museum Educator*

      I would just include 2-3 of your best examples. I don’t think employers expect an exhaustive collection of your work when you submit an application so I don’t even think you have to address that you’ve done more in any particular way. It’s generally assumed that there is more than what is included in the application. But you could just put it in a bullet on your resume, in particular the invited presentations. Not exactly sure of the wording, but I think it would be sufficient to just put it in a bullet or two.

      1. C. Also*

        I agree. Use some of your best examples, and then mention the numbers in your cover letter, because they are impressive. If you have an online portfolio, you could also mention them there (with SlideShares, if you’ve got them!) and link to your online portfolio in your cover letter or resume.

  64. Tara*

    Last week I mentioned being utterly unprepared while dropping off my application… apparently she didn’t notice that as much as I did, because I was called in to interview on Wednesday and hired the same day! I’m going to be doing technology workshops for adults and seniors, so I’m pretty excited. Thanks for helping me learn to write cover letters, AAM!

  65. loxthebox*

    Super excited today!

    I have a phone interview on Monday for a role I’m really excited about. It’s a project management role which I’ve been trying to get into at my current role for about a year and been receiving lots of empty promises from TPTB about making that happen. I also found out that my name was bumped up the list because a friend that works there mentioned my name to the manager. So I think if the interview goes well there’s a decent chance I’ll be out of here soon! *squee*

  66. Lalaith*

    Is there any sort of standard (or at least good practice) for how long one should stay at a company after it’s been acquired by another one? When we came over, the bosses said they needed “almost” everyone to be on board for the merger to work, and I couldn’t help thinking I was one of the ones who wasn’t totally necessary. There isn’t anyone in the new company who really does what I do. Anyway, I was thinking about leaving before this merger was announced, and two months later nothing has changed to make me happier, so I’d like to move on. Is it too soon?

    1. A Non*

      I don’t think there’s any standard or any obligation to your company, and it’s normal for lots of people to leave when a merger happens. If you weren’t happy before, and aren’t happy now, start looking.

    2. Kara Ayako*

      You’re not obligated to stay just to be nice. If you’d like to leave, I say leave.

      When companies go through merger and acquisition activities, they’ll often provide the critical folks an incentive to stay by offering them compensation packages. If you haven’t accepted one of these, you’re under no obligation to stay.

      If you’re unhappy, move on.

      1. Lalaith*

        We did all get raises, but I see your point. I have guilt issues :-P I just have to force myself to accept that it will never be a truly good time to leave.

  67. DarcyPennell*

    Last week I found out that my former job, which I left a few months ago, routinely expects unpaid overtime from non-exempt employees. I was exempt & had no idea while I worked there.

    I sent a couple of relevant AAM columns to the people who told me, stressed that this is serious, not a “ha ha every job has its problems” situation, & urged them to talk with their fellow admins about working together to put a stop to it. Don’t feel like I can or should do anything else: I don’t have any evidence, it never happened to me personally and I think I would look like a disgruntled ex-employee. It just makes me really unhappy. I felt that even though it didn’t work out for me, this was a great organization, overall a good place to work and the work they do is really important, helping disadvantaged people. It’s a real eye-opener to find out that they’re systematically exploiting young employees who in some cases aren’t that different from the people the org is helping.

    I guess I don’t have a question. Sorry for venting!

      1. DarcyPennell*

        I don’t want to do that: I have no evidence, I could easily look like a disgruntled ex employee trying to make trouble. Besides it would be pretty obvious who talked to me, I don’t want to possibly get them in trouble by taking action on their behalf without their OK & possibly against their wishes.

  68. Ama*

    I would really appreciate the input of the manager-type commenters here.

    My current role in my job is one that is high pressure, extremely variable volume, high stress, low-payoff, low visibility. The only indication that I do my job well is that the status quo is maintained. In addition to this, I’m also responsible for much of the monitoring and testing on the results side of what I do. During crunch times or high volume, I feel drained and burned out, sometimes even breaking down in stress-tears at the end of a rough week. I’m supposed to be moved from this position to a new one, once the new team is put together… eventually. There’s no set start date for that so we can pile feeling lost or in limbo on top of everything else.

    I finally caved and told my manager that I’m feeling burned out with my current responsibilities. He was concerned and apologetic, and we worked out a plan for me to shift to more of a backup for this role, and offer partial temporary coverage in a significantly lower pressure position that will soon be vacant when a coworker leaves, so he has more time to find a replacement for them.

    But now, instead of relief, I feel worse, like I made a horrible mistake by bringing this up. Like I look less competent or responsible now. I should be able to do all of this just fine. I have a really strong, positive reputation among the leadership in my department, and I’m afraid that I’ve jeopardized it.

    I tend to be pretty hard on myself. In another open thread, someone mentioned impostor syndrome in a reply to my question, and it seems accurate to how I feel to a certain degree.

    I suppose I’m asking if I really did mess up, or if I’m just being too hard on myself. What would you do if an employee approached you about feeling burned out? How would that change your perception of them?

    1. A Non*

      You did great. Telling your boss when your job is not going well is part of being competent and responsible. Your boss is also awesome for shuffling responsibilities around in a way that benefits you and the company. You’ll have a while in a less stressful role to get un-burned-out, and then move on to bigger and better things on the new team. It’s a good plan.

    2. JMegan*

      Honestly, I’d be really happy you told me. Not happy that you’re feeling stressed and burnt out, of course, but happy to hear that
      a) you had noticed a problem and identified what it was
      b) you were taking steps to resolve that problem
      c) you trusted me enough to come to me for help.

      In addition, if you came to me before I noticed on my own, I would feel terrible about not noticing. In any case, I would definitely take steps to help you. You’re not doing the company any good as an employee like that, and you’re certainly not doing your own mental health any good either. You did the right thing by talking to your manager – hopefully they’ll be able to get you into a better role very soon.

    3. BadPlanning*

      You did well by telling your manager. Most jobs will take, take, take — it’s up to you to say, “Too much now, need less.” I assume you are not now running around the office bragging about how you dumped your work onto other people.

      I think it’s good for some people to back off and have management adjust their work — it shows other employees that if they’re under water, they can speak up too. Not that they have to strive to some unsustainable workload. Otherwise, it totally burns people out and that’s not useful to anyone.

  69. Anon for This*

    I can’t use my regular posting name for this. If someone from my office reads this, they’ll know exactly who posted it.

    I’m non exempt, and have worked for my current employer for over 10 years. I’ve been asking my manager for 3 years what I can do to move ahead, get an evaluation, earn a merit increase, etc. because our new parent company does not provide raises or COLA increases. The short answer was “nothing”, but that didn’t stop her from piling on a lot of extra work. I did my best, got compliments for my ideas and streamlining, but aside from that, no promotion.

    This week we were told by corporate that a new coworker in my department was given a promotion to exempt and manager status. I had no idea there was a promotion opportunity available. I wasn’t approached to see if I would be interested or given a chance to apply.

    I have to admit I cried privately, not in front of anyone, and I’m trying to appear happy for this person while I’m in the office. It just felt like the cold, hard 2×4 of reality smacked me right across the face. I truly thought if I did a good job, asked for opportunities, made improvements and accomplished the extra tasks thrown my way, I’d at least get a chance to move up. This isn’t the case. If I’m destined to be a bottom level employee, I guess I have to accept that. At least I still have a job, and since I’m over 50 now, I’m really grateful for that at least.

    I just wish I could get over this sadness. I feel like such a failure. Here I am, like a serf that got tossed in when the new land baron came along, and I just feel stuck. And to top it off, my manager is one of the crazy people who throws a nutty fit if anyone tries to get another job. I’ve been watching local job postings, but the job market here is pretty much low paying service jobs or natural gas field jobs. So, I’m stuck here for now.

    I know there’s nothing that can be done at this point, I just wanted to write this down in hopes I can get past it. Thanks for listening.

    1. JMegan*

      Oh my gosh, that sounds awful. :( I don’t think it’s a failure on your part, though. Your manager, yes, and maybe the organization as a whole, but you have certainly done everything you can. I’m sorry you got such a crappy outcome out of it, though – hope you can get out and find a better job soon.

    2. Joey*

      there is a silver lining. You know where you stand. You know what to expect. You know that there’s proof that that’s likely a dead end job. That may not sound like a silver lining, but knowing that will help you accept it or decide to move on. That is way better than hoping for change that isn’t likely to happen.

      1. Anon for This*

        You are exactly right. At least I know there is no hope, so I can continue to do a good job for my own satisfaction, at least, and feel no regrets when I walk out the door. When, not if.

        1. Mister Pickle*

          I think there’s still hope, in that you should try to find a new job where your abilities are appreciated better.

          I know that people tend to pin their self-esteem to their jobs, but “job status” is not a reliable indicator. Some people you work with don’t appreciate your value – but their opinion is nothing special. You don’t become magically wise and blessed because you are boss – just look at all of the tales of incompetent mgmt here in AAM.

          It sounds like you’re down now, and sometimes that’s part of processing something painful. But try to look inside of yourself and re-appreciate your value as a person.

    3. AnotherHRPro*

      Annon for this – Can I ask why you want to advance to a higher level position and what don’t you like about your current position? The very frustrating reality is that not everyone can advance to higher level jobs. I personally believe I have probably maxed out on my upward potential. At first, that realization really bothered me. I was raised to always strive for more. But after a great deal of soul-searching I have realized that I like the work I do and the amount of responsibility I have. I also know that I do a good job at this level.

      All that said, it is completely normal be upset when you see someone else “get ahead” and you are left asking yourself why not me. And I think it is totally unprofessional that your manager has told you that there is “nothing” that you can do to get a raise or promotion. That is a lazy manager who isn’t doing their job!

      1. Anon for This*

        I guess for selfish reasons – I’d like to earn more money so I can live more comfortably, instead of just getting by. I’d like to be able to afford a little better car, maybe go on a real vacation someday, and save more money for retirement.

        1. AnotherHRPro*

          That is not a selfish reason. It sounds like you need a job that pays more money, not necessarily a higher level. I think it is ridiculous that you aren’t being given opportunities for pay increases. You probably do need to look for other opportunities where you can earn more money. Good luck.

      2. Joey*

        “Not everyone can advance?”

        BS. Everyone who has the ability to work has an opportunity to advance. Granted the opportunities get fewer the higher you go but the op sounds like she isn’t high on the corporate ladder.

        And just because there are no pay or advancement opportunities doesn’t make the manager lazy. That might be completely true.

        1. AnotherHRPro*

          Everyone can not advance. There are a limited number of higher level positions. And not everyone has the skills, ability or interest in doing jobs that are at a higher level. In my large company, there are only 4 positions at the next level and there are about 20 people at my level. We can not all advance into those 4 positions. Sorry, the math just does not work.

            1. AnotherHRPro*

              True, but it is still a scale issue. There will always be more people in lower level jobs that want to advance than there are positions to advance into. That does not mean someone who wants to advance should stop trying. And if they are the most qualified candidate, they will eventually get the job. But advancing isn’t for everyone and I think it is ok to be satisfied at your current level.

    4. LCL*

      I am sorry. My best guess is your boss finds you extremely useful, so wants to keep you right where you are. This based on what you said, that your boss throws a fit if anyone tries to get another job. Your boss isn’t just nutty, she is a jerk.
      Also, since it was a new employee that was fast-tracked, is it possible that the new corporate owners wanted this to happen for her specifically?
      I think you should talk to someone in corporate about moving up and what it would take, but very careful regarding your boss. Because you would be going over her head. Maybe someone with more tact than I could offer tips on how to do that.

  70. Noni*

    I have three direct reports, two of which requested to work a Sunday – Thursday shift and one chose the Monday – Friday shift (both shifts were offered to all three upon hire). Now that we are coming up on the holiday season, one of the Sun-Thur workers has noticed that many of the company holidays fall on Fridays next year and she is adamant that she should be paid for these days as everyone else.

    I’ve never heard of a company paying holiday pay for a holiday that falls on a worker’s scheduled day off. This has caused a huge huff in the HR team here and everyone is conflicted on what to do.

    Has anyone had a company do this before? Thoughts?

    1. MT*

      Are you talking about a holiday premium, or a day off with pay. If it’s a holiday premium then no way should it be paid.

      1. Noni*

        To clarify, it is a day the company closes, for which people scheduled to work will be paid in lieu of having to have an unpaid day.

        It is essentially to compensate for the company’s decision to close certain days.

        1. MT*

          That is the spot my company is in. My company pays the person their time for that day then gives them a holiday to use in the future. If you are not scheduled that day, then we just give you the holiday. In no way, is either option fair. You either get someone who only gets 4 days of a work and a holiday, and the other person gets 5 days of work and a holiday. Or you get 2 people who get 5 days of work and a holiday. One person is shorted in either senerio, I would rather short one person by having them work a little bit more vs one person getting shorted on pay.

          1. Arjay*

            Yes, it’s fair. People get paid for whatever time they actually work that week, plus 8 hours of bonus pay for the holiday.

    2. MissLibby*

      Couldn’t the Sunday-Thursday people take Thursday or another day as a holiday on the weeks that the actual holiday falls on a Friday? I am assuming these are paid holidays offered as part of a benefit package. It seems strange that employee A would get X number of paid holidays and employees B and C would only get Y just because of how the holidays fall in their schedule. I would be unhappy about that as well.

      My husband works in a job where he is required to work many holidays, so all of his holiday hours are put in a bank and can be used like PTO. That way he still gets the same amount of paid holiday hours as others but just uses them on different days.

      1. Noni*

        They aren’t actually working on holidays, though. The holiday falls on their normal day off. They are just not receiving additional pay for these days and their concern is that other people (who normally would work these days) are getting it off with pay (to keep them at 40 hours for the week).

        1. Colette*

          When a holiday falls during the weekend, a lot of companies give employees an alternate day off – the same could apply if the holiday is a day some people are working.

          What would happen if everyone chose to work the same shift? Is that a problem for your business? If so, give them pay or an an alternate day off.

        2. Nerd Girl*

          But the employees who have those days off are getting the day off AND paid for it. I can see how that would be upsetting. Could you give the employees who aren’t normally scheduled for those shifts floating holidays?

    3. HR Manager*

      No, and when we have a non-regular schedule as these people do (aka, not Mon – Fri) we explicitly state in a handbook, vacation/holiday policy, or offer that holidays are paid only if they fall on a regularly scheduled work day.

      The person doesn’t like it? Tough! The worker chose that schedule.

    4. Camellia*

      This sounds similar to a situation where someone doesn’t observe Christmas, for example. If the company gives Christmas day as a paid holiday, the employee can’t “trade” Christmas day for some other holiday. The office is closed on Christmas and if the employee wants another day off to observer another holiday they can do so, but if they want to get paid for it they have to use vacation/PTO.

      For a slightly different example, if an employee has a vacation day scheduled and weather forces the office to close, the company doesn’t give back the vacation day.

      So in line with these examples, if the schedule is Sunday through Thursday, and Friday is a holiday, oh well.

    5. Joey*

      Give them an alternate holiday or adjust their schedules that week so they work one day less and get paid for the holiday. If some folks get one paid holiday day others should too.

    6. LCL*

      We pay it. The way it works is,
      everyone gets 8 hours holiday pay. This is straight time pay. Doesn’t matter what shift you work, if you are an employee you get it. To understand this, it helps to think of it as a bonus, though it isn’t technically.
      If you work a holiday, you get paid for those hours worked with some premium, varies depending on the labor agreement.
      I think our way is more fair. Why should people who work odd shifts not get holiday pay?

      1. Arjay*

        The Mon-Fri people are only working a 4 day week and getting paid an extra day to make it a paid 5 day week, so the Sun – Thurs person should also only have to work a 4 day week and get paid for a 5 day week. If coverage allows it, then they should take a different day off during the week. If coverage doesn’t allow it, and they have to work a 5 day week, they should get paid the same extra day as everyone else to make it a paid 6 day week (without paying OT, since they aren’t actually working over 40 hours during the week).

    7. Johr*

      At my company, everyone gets paid for the holiday and they are just scheduled with a different day off. Veterans day, for example, fell on a Monday. Anyone who would normally work Tuesday through Saturday would still receive the holiday pay and would get a different day off – maybe they would only have to work Wednesday through Saturday or Tuesday through Friday that week. We consider the paid holidays to be a part of the compensation package so everyone is entitled to them.

    8. mondays*

      I used to work Tuesday – Saturday schedule and for holidays observed on a Monday I got the immediately preceding Saturday off as paid holiday time. That way I could enjoy the three day weekend with everyone else. Seems fair to me. For example, shouldn’t Thanksgiving weekend be Thursday – Sunday for everyone unless there are specific coverage issues that need to be taken care of?

    9. skyline*

      My company pays everyone for the holiday (pro-rated for part-time employees). If it falls on your day off, you can request another day (or part day) off; if that’s not possible due to business demands, you earn comp time or additional pay. It’s nice and fair. We’re unionized, which probably helps!

    10. Trainer*

      I work a job where holidays are required to be worked. We staff less people on those days, but they still need to be covered. So I don’t know if our policies are typical or not, but on weeks with holidays, we take our “holiday” day not necessarily on the actual holiday. So if you typically work Wednesday- Sunday, you may get Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday off the week of Thanksgiving. So whether you work the actual holiday or not, you still get a “holiday” day. Does that make sense? We try and rotate who works what holidays, and often times our “weekend” will change the week of a big holiday so that the people with Thursday’s off don’t always get thanksgiving off.

  71. jack of all*

    I’m having trouble figuring out what my post-consulting career move should be, since my consulting experience is spread out across different functions — not focused or specialized on any one function or problem type. my career progression has been: psychology in college –> HR/training/change management consultant for 5 years in 10+ companies/industries –> MBA –> marketing and management strategy in the pharma industry. since my MBA i’ve been a management consultant in that 1 industry, but worked on projects that are in 3 different functions – some marketing, but some medical, some clinical/R&D. so i find myself again having exposure/understanding of a few different functions, but not an “expert” in any one. when i leave consulting, i won’t feel/be qualified to be a manager/senior manager in just ONE of those functions, compared to people with MBAs who’ve been working just that one function for >3-5 years.

    the only thing i’m truly an expert in (besides the typical transferable soft skills of course) is project management / program management — which i am really good at, but find SO annoying, constantly having to chase people down just to get them to do/track their own jobs. the only option I can think of is finding a PMO group within a large company and just do the program management track — i’ll be well able to converse with and understand the colleagues from each of the major functions.

    does anyone have any ideas of what i can do post-consulting if i am exposed to a lot of functions but not an expert in any of them?

  72. Anx*

    In the past few weeks I feel like I’ve noticed more questions than usual on relocation and how long you should stay in a position.

    I am due to graduate in May with an AS related to my BS (long story). My boyfriend is due to finish his PhD a year later. The nature of his current research means he’s looking at doing his postdoc out of town and plans to relocate. I moved down here to be with him. We are discussing the possibility of a breakup because the areas that may be great for him may be harder for me to find work (they are similar to my hometown in the tourism is the major industry and they have a high enough cost of living). If we do choose to stay together, I may be moving in a year or two.

    So that complicates things quite a bit. When I moved here it took me over 2 years to find a job (any job) and I love the one I have now but it’s only part-time. I don’t want to lose the momentum of being a new graduate (it’s one of the reasons I went back to school), but I worry that I can’t try to find a permament full-time job if I may leave it shortly. The reason I would be following him and not the other way around is he is more heavily invested in his education (higher student loans, more years in school) and has specific career goals. I can see myself doing a variety of things and am far less invested in a specific career path.

    Do you think it would be bad form to take a job knowing I don’t plan on living here for many more years? Of course, there’s always the possibility that he finds something here. And I don’t even know how long it will take him to find a job after graduation. I was thinking of trying to find paid internships but then I wonder if that’s even realistic (how many internships are really paid?) or if it would be hard to transition into full-time work (I don’t want to get pigeonholed as a temporary worker).

    Does anyone have any insight on how I should proceed?

    1. BRR*

      If you can give the company a year I don’t see it as a terrible thing to take it. Also it’s important to be realistic about his job opportunities. My SO is an academic going for a degree in the humanities from a pretty poor school and he doesn’t have a lot published. We’re not investing too much in his career as an academic.

      1. Anx*

        So true. It’s so difficult to make realistic plans because you don’t want to be overly optimistic, but if things do go well, there are very specific issues to consider.

        He is not in the humanities, but of course research grants and public funding are shrinking all across the country (US).

  73. A Non*

    I’m ranting here, and if anyone has advice for dealing with coworker’s emotions when you don’t have authority I’d be happy to hear it.

    My horrible boss was asked to resign. Yay! It’s a VP level position, so our CEO is taking his time on the job hunt to make sure we get a good person in that role. Also yay! And in the mean time we’re moving forward on fixing things that really need to be fixed. More yay!

    I was the second in command, so I’m sorta nominally in charge of our department’s work right now, though I’m not directly supervising the rest of the team and don’t have managerial authority. We have one employee who has managed people in a previous job, and has the longest tenure on the group, who seems to think she should be in charge. Not that she’s issuing orders, but she’s taking issue with things I do and say, and with things the CEO does and says, and is generally venting her disapproval at me in a way that I don’t know how to cope with. Mostly she thinks we shouldn’t be changing things until we have a new manager, and that it’s causing constant crises (we’ve had constant crises, but not due to changes, and she hasn’t been at the center of them. I have.) and it’s stressing her out. She’s telling me this with both the attitude that she’s in charge and has authority to be Disappointed with me, and also with the attitude that I’m in charge and should be able to fix everything.

    I want to tell her that management changes like this are going to involve tremendous amounts of change and stress, and she needs to take a deep breath and deal with it like a professional. But of course, her background means she thinks she knows everything about running a workplace, and I don’t have any official authority here, so I’m kinda stuck. Any suggestions?

    1. jack of all*

      i would speak to the CEO about an interim VP – at minimum, identifying you or someone else to be the interim leader. you can explain that decisions need to be made and there is some confusion in the department as to who has the authority to make them, and an announcement that you are the interim lead should cool that down until a VP is found.

      also i think your line about this being a time of change and stress is a good one, and if you feel it necessary to put her in place a little more, you can say it with the implication that if she can’t manage this time of change for just her work and herself, she wouldn’t be able to manage the department very well. i’d find a nicer and subtler way to put it, but i’m saying this is an opportunity to remind her that she may think she knows everything about running a workplace, but her reactions and behaviors suggest she is not ready to deal with the many non-operational stressors of being the top lead.

      1. A Non*

        Part of the issue is that we sort of have an interim VP, but not really. We’re a non-profit, and a friend of the CEO’s (who is more than qualified, and I wish we could hire him) is volunteering to help with some of the issues. His time is limited, though, so 90% of the stuff a VP should be doing is going undone or falling to me. My coworker doesn’t like him and complains to me that he shouldn’t be changing things if he’s not going to be here full time.

        My current approach with this coworker is about what you suggested, empathy for how hard the change is, but also acknowledging that this is how it’s going to be for a while. The CEO, the volunteer VP, and I are all on the same page here, so she’s not going to get much traction.

        (For example, she’s already complained to the two of them that it’s inappropriate for the former boss’s email to be coming to me, because I’m not a manager, and employee privacy, OMG. Never mind that I’m not reading his past email, and all that’s coming in now is spam. When they said “no, it’s okay for A Non to be getting that email”, she came to me to make sure I knew she thought it was inappropriate. She obviously expected me to agree with her and was unhappy when I didn’t. I don’t even.)

          1. A Non*

            Yes, I can. I’m concerned I’d sound petty, though. What’s the best way to phrase this for him?

            Possibly more concerning to the CEO, she’s panicked and said she’s ‘so sick of this she’s ready to walk out’ a couple times when I ask her to do something within her job description but that is new to her. If I were her manager I’d shut that down hard, but I’m not. We’re an IT group and she’s at a remote office, her official manager is the head of that office. The manager isn’t a tech person and probably has very little idea what’s going on. Unfortunately I don’t know her well, and I’m afraid that going to her would be the nuclear option where this employee is concerned. It’s not that bad… yet.

            1. Mister Pickle*

              I agree with Alison: it’s time for a talk with the CEO. I personally hate doing that kind of thing – I’d rather try to fix the issue without going to mgmt – but from what you wrote, it sounds like things are getting to the point where this Problem Employee is affecting the performance of normal business. And that’s the point when mgmt needs to get involved.

              I don’t have a set of Magic Words for you, but I might try to express it along the lines of “some people aren’t coping well with the lack of a solid chain of command while we find a new VP”. If you’re really crafty, you could maybe go with that and never even have to mention Problem Employee’s name. But if not – I’d be ready with some concrete, no-wavy-handy instances of problem behavior that is affecting your ability to do work.

              I don’t know you or PE or your relationship – do you have any idea of why she is acting this way? I’m guessing she wasn’t like this until y’all lost the VP? Or does she have a personal grudge against you? If it’s this last, I’d still go the High Road and stick with some kind of story about how PE is nervous about the lack of stability in the company. Which *shrug* might be the case.

              In any event: if your CEO listens to you and agrees that Something Must Be Done – like, talking to PE’s manager – it’s probably better coming from him than from you.

              The Usual Disclaimers, I’m not a professional mgmt consultant or anything. I don’t envy your situation, but I wish you luck.

        1. jack of all*

          if anything, the volunteer VP makes the question of who has teh authority to make decisions in the interim even more confusing! i’d chat with the CEO about a formal “interim” post being assigned — to you or the volunteer friend (who would have to be made non-volunteer, i expect?). the issue isn’t just managing change — it stems from lack of authority, plus multiple non-authority-holding leaders cobbling it together.

        2. Persephone Mulberry*

          Consulting on some of the reorg (which is what I’m guessing “helping with some of the issues” actually encompasses) is way different than being an interim VP, IMO. Especially if his time is limited, it’s even more important that there be a solid day-to-day person of authority in place.

          When our project manager left on the brink of a major rollout, we didn’t put the part time project consultant into the lead role – as valuable as that person was to the success of the project, the interim lead had to be someone who was on site, all the time.

    2. Darth Admin*

      I think you need to get clear with the CEO on who really is in charge at this point. If you’re making changes or are seen as implementing CEO’s changes but no one has said that you’re running the show on an interim basis, it’s kind of hard to address with Coworker.

      I’d also remember that people have different capacities for change. It might not be that she’s upset with the particulars of the changes, but more with the fact that there are changes. Given that lens, maybe she’s trying to exert some control over the situation, albeit in annoying-to-you ways. You might just try asking her what she thinks you can do to help and see what she says.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      All I can think of is Calamity Jane. Or Chicken Little type of thing, “the sky is falling, the sky is falling.”

  74. KMC*

    two questions, really –

    1. Any advice for dealing with a boss that travels 50-75% of the time, and is really busy when in the office? To the point of sighing when I walk in and ask something? I’ve tried asking if there is a different way they would prefer things approached – email, phone, etc, but they say everything is fine.

    2. Any advice on how to handle a boss (same one) who says “yes, we’ll meet today” and then doesn’t set a time (or if they do, keep moving it)? I tend to be on edge and not want to get deeply involved in a project (or eat lunch) if I don’t know when they’ll want to go over things, and it winds up irking me. I know it shouldn’t, and it’s just a matter of looking at it differently, but I’m having trouble with how.

    1. jack of all*

      do you have regular 1 on 1’s scheduled? a lot more can get done in 30 minutes of talk time (in person or by phone) than you can do in multiple emails. you can set them up for regular day/times in the week if the boss’ travel schedule allows for it.

      also, can you see the boss’ calendar/travel schedule? if I know the boss is traveling and will have blocks of time to review/work offline (on a plane), i make sur e i get documents/work to be reviewed (or whatever the case may be) to him/her 2 hours before that flight (need to ensure time enough to download it pre-flight).

      another idea is for the boss to implement – maybe he/she gets frustrated by questions that come up (from you or others) that distract him/her from concentrating. so a good solution to that is blocking time on his/her own calendar that is a not-to-be-disturbed time. if you can see his/her calendar, you’ll know when not to “interrupt.”

  75. TinyPjM*

    Is there such a thing as “too many promotions”? I’ve been fortunate enough to have been promoted 3 times at my current company, and 4 at my former. I don’t want this to affect any future job hunt as I don’t want to give the impression that I am always seeking to move out!

    1. Joey*

      youre fine. Internal promotions are okay since the organization isn’t losing you External ones would worry me

      1. TF*

        Can you expand on why a lot of external promotions would concern you? In having trouble coming up with any ideas about why a promotion could be bad.

        1. skyline*

          Depending on how quickly the promotions happen, and how many organizations are involved, it could look like job hopping.

          (I usually only use the word promotion for internal moves up, though. It helps me keep things in clear in my head–but to each their own!)

  76. SleepyJean*

    I have to deliver a negative performance review today for a relatively new employee. His first review was marginal and the follow-up is worse. He hasn’t improved in any of the areas we noted as needing improvement, and has actually gotten worse despite repeated reminders. He’s very argumentative, which is one of the issues, and I know he’s going to argue about the review.

    I’m not sure how to handle that. My feeling is that he needs to argue less and absorb more. Just let him vent? Counter with examples (I already have examples listed in the evaluation)? Arguing seems pointless, since it won’t change the review, but I don’t want to just shut him down. But constant pushback is one of the issues mentioned in the review, and I don’t really want to indulge during in the review. Thoughts?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      It sounds like you need to start preparing to let him go. Any reason not to explicitly lay the groundwork for that today?

      On the arguing, I’d say, “I hear what you’re saying, but ultimately what I need in the role is someone who can do ____.” Also, “As I’ve talked about, I’m concerned that when you push back in this way, you’re not processing the feedback I’m giving you, and it’s essential that you hear it and incorporate it into your work in order to be successful here.”

      But it sounds like you’re at the point where you need to fire him.

      1. SleepyJean*

        Thank you so much, those sound like perfect things to say. I had discussed it with a colleague and she suggested just letting him argue as much as he wanted in the review, but to me that seemed like it was undermining the point about arguing less.

        We are definitely laying the groundwork for possible dismissal. The review concludes by listing areas he needs improvement in, and that failure to do so may result in termination. If he does a total reversal and becomes a pleasure to employ, it would be a relief…but I’d be surprised if that happened.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I’d also have someone else sit in on the review process. I don’t know if you do that regularly at your company, but in my experience (both seeing this and directly), when someone is getting a PIP or getting canned, the manager always has another person with them. The presence of a witness tends to make people simmer down a bit.

          1. SleepyJean*

            He has a dotted line to another manager, and she’s taking part in the review as well. I’m not sure having anyone else in will help; he pushes back even with the vice president of the company, which is crazy.

        2. KJR*

          In my experience, people like you describe rarely come around or show any type of improvement in their performance or their outlook. I’d have to agree with the consensus to begin laying the groundwork for termination. Maybe it will be a wake up call for him.

          1. SleepyJean*

            Honestly, I don’t expect him to improve; I think he’s very pleased with himself. But being surprised about it would be a nice thing.

        3. Joey*

          Why are you waiting? You’ve told him you expected improvement and he hasn’t delivered. Do you really think he’ll improve now? Then why wait.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              You can do that today though. “I need to see X, Y, and Z changes by two weeks from today. If not, we’ll need to let you go.” Be clear and don’t let this drag out!

            2. Joey*

              You’ve already started doing that with the first review. All that’s left to say is that his job is on the line if he doesn’t get up to par immediately.

      2. Swarley*

        I want to write how much I appreciate that you take the time to weigh in on the comments regularly in your posts. I’m thankful to have a job that I enjoy with a great manager, but reading this blog is still one of the best parts of my day. You’re awesome!

  77. LOL Skool*

    Currently in my third year of legal practice. Civil lit. Decided I can’t maintain the stress/workload and keep my physical health/sanity at the same time. Blood pressure is up, weight has been gained, having trouble focusing on tasks, gym has not been attended frequently, heavy weights have not been lifted, etc.. Obviously there’s a burnout issue here, as I’ve been going pretty hard for about 18 months.

    So, I’m looking to get out of law, even with a pay cut. Big problem is the balance on my student loans, which still sits at ~$95k (there are ways to minimize required payments, e.g., going back to school 1/2 time or getting on IBR/PAYE, but I’m still going to prioritize paying them off). I think I’m going to need to make around $50k, minimum in a new gig, but that’s just a rough guesstimate.

    Long and short of the question is: anyone have any ideas or experience with this? I really am looking for a pretty drastic change, and don’t want to be doing even quasi-legal work, e.g., compliance, insurance, etc. Don’t need anything prestigious or anything like that. Just something more…I dunno…chill? I’d like to avoid bringing my work home so much, play beer league softball or bowling, golf, and maybe take a vacation here or there. I’m probably inherently a pretty lazy guy, personality-wise, but apparently I’m also stubborn enough to credential myself into a fairly striver-ish career. Not that I’m avoiding work — I tend to always have 1 or 2 side gigs in addition to a primary job — but I just don’t want my job to encompass my whole life. Work style I would describe as “grinder” — i.e., I’m not superdupersmart or anything, but I can be fairly intense and really focused, and throw a lot of time at something if it needs to be done. Background: T14 law school, unknown UG econ/history BA, stat. minor, JC real estate AA. Pretty good writer, though I’ve been exclusively doing legal writing for probably the last six years now. Big transferable skill I’ve developed, imo, is an ability to quickly learn new subjects well enough to write somewhat intelligently about them. I’ve also actually got a lot of great substantive legal experience too — taking/defending depos, appearing in court, lots and lots of motion practice, discovery, etc. — but outside of maybe smaller litigation shops, I’m not sure that experience does me much good.

    So — ideas? Thoughts?

    PS: please excuse the rambling, stream-of-consciousness style post :P

    1. BRR*

      I work in fundraising and a lot of planned giving people have law degrees. Because it’s usually more about the structure of the gift a lot of places want someone with a law degree.

    2. Cheesecake*

      You want to completely avoid law? Hm, that may be tough.
      I was going to suggest compliance – specifically research or contracts & grants… it may be enough of a change that you wouldn’t mind it?
      I only know one person who is not practicing law after law school and he is now a realtor.

      1. LOL Skool*

        Incidentally, that’s one field that I’d be pretty interested in, but the problem is that I need a steady income in the near term and would have to do that part time and pair it with something steadier for it to work. May end up going that route tbh.

  78. Enid*

    I was just wondering if anyone might be able to link me to an AAM post, that I THINK was relatively recent (but may not have been), about whether you should ask your current employer for a raise if you’re currently looking for another job. I haven’t been able to find it via search. Thanks to anyone who can help.

  79. Anonsie*

    So here’s my conundrum. I need a really sharp suit and it needs to be under $200. I’m very short, especially in the torso, so to buy a suiting jacket I essentially have to budget in an additional $75ish to $100 to have the jacket entirely restructured. That leaves me with a really small budget for the suit pieces in the first place. Any suggestions for brands that look nicer than they actually cost? I’m trying to find something at a decent discount online or in some clearance stores, and it’s easiest to go by brand.

    I’m petite and smallish and I’ve never had any luck finding something close enough in size to tailor at a 2nd hand or consignment store, so I’m guessing I just have to go for a new one. I tried Theory first and I am honestly shocked at how crummy and thin all the pieces are for the price– the lining of the pants pockets shows through them like you’re wearing x-ray goggles, for god’s sake.

    1. Sascha*

      Do you have a Nordstrom’s Rack near you? Last time I was in one, they had some very nice suits and suit separates for like $50 a piece, some of the whole suits were under $100.

      I would also try Loft, as they have a large petites section online, and I’ve been pleased with the quality of their trousers at least – haven’t gotten a blazer yet, but I’ve tried a few on and they are nice. Also they will run sales pretty often and you can get things 40-50% off.

      1. voluptuousfire*

        Try JCPenney. Their prices can be decent and they usually have coupons available. Quite often they have their Worthington lines on sale and with the coupon, it can be very reasonable. The Worthington line also carries petites.

    2. TotesMaGoats*

      I’m 4’11”. I’ve had a lot of luck at Kasper outlets and Macy’s Petite sections. Anne Klein has always fit really well. Aside from the standard couple of inches that all my suits get hemmed. I rarely have to have more than the sleeves taken up. I like being able to buy separates so I can get petite pants but standard jackets as they tend to be fuller in the bust, which I need.

      1. Anonsie*

        Aside from the standard couple of inches that all my suits get hemmed. I rarely have to have more than the sleeves taken up.

        I bet you’re long-waisted but short-legged, right? I’m the exact opposite. The bust and back seams hit at my hips instead of my waist on just about everything.

        1. Lore*

          I have been extremely lucky at the Macy’s petites department–haunt their sales. I had a job interview a few years ago about which I was somewhat ambivalent, and when I found out on the Friday before that the interview was business formal and I’d need to run out and buy a suit, I mentally gave myself two hours at Macy’s and said if I couldn’t find something off the rack in my budget, I’d have to cancel the interview because I didn’t have time for tailoring. I walked out with two pants suits (one for the interview and one more of a cocktail suit for a family event later in the year, on a day that was unexpectedly 80 degrees and I had to wear something else, but never mind that now), two pairs of jeans, and a knit shell to wear with the interview suit for about $200 with all the discounts and coupons. The suit pants are the tiniest bit too long for flats or a very low heel but worked perfectly with the shoes I meant to wear. (And I had many options to choose from–I ended up with the one that had the neckline that went best with the top. It’s Nine West, who I didn’t know made clothes, but I think Calvin Klein also had a number of nice, surprisingly reasonable options.)

          I’m short-waisted and long-legged, with a disproportionately long rise, if that helps.

    3. HR Manager*

      I’m petite too. I’ve never paid over $200 for a suit – and most have probably been closer to $100 or so. When I used to have to wear suits, I used to troll places like Filene’s Basement (don’t think these exist anymore!), TJ Maxx/Marshalls, and other fashion discount outlets all the time. You can also find decent discounts at Ann Taylor or the Loft. Tahari has nice line of petite professional wear if you can find it one sale, but I typically don’t pay attention to brand otherwise. If you have a Macy’s, their private label Inc. used to offer nice petite professional close too.

      1. Anonsie*

        Filene’s is gone! So is Loehmann’s and I believe Century 21. If those places were still around (or if I still lived near the mega outlets in San Marcos) I’d have more than a few ideas of how to get a deal.

    4. skyline*

      The Limited has petite suiting, and it can be pretty affordable (especially if you take advantage of coupon codes).

    5. Andrea*

      Talbots has petite sizes and they often have good sales and better suit selection online than at the mall store in my area. I got a wool suit there this spring for $150 which left enough for alterations which make it look way more expensive

  80. HR Manager*

    Have you ever worked for a forgetful/absent-minded boss? The manager is a nice, thoughtful and smart person but sometimes forgets that a decision or course-of-action has already been taken. I have a good relationship with him, and he entrusts me with lots of responsibilities, but this is one area that I still have yet to get used to.

    It often results in rehashing something we’ve already decided, so no harm or no foul, but once in a while it leads to a different decision or course of action from what we previously agreed upon. Sometimes course is adjusted easily, and sometimes not so much. Often this makes me feel silly or stupid to go back and communicate something different from what was already communicated, but I have to admit that it makes me or HR feel like we don’t know what we want or what we are doing.

    Sending emails to confirm a decision is not an option, as he gets so much email, he doesn’t read half of what I send (he tells me this). We often revisit and reiterate things in person, which I’ve found the best to keep moving, but that doesn’t stop him from changing it the next time it comes up! He is also so distracted with other things that to bring up the same thing over and over for confirmation would not help. This isn’t just me, as I also see him run afoul of his own schedule (not remember a meeting, skipping a deadline even after I remind him 3x, etc.). I’ve even heard employees jokingly call him “unreliable”.

    Before this sounds too many alarms, he is generally acknowledged as capable and effective, so we have a functional team. We’ve taken on a lot this past year, and I’ve managed much of the new program implementations. He is appreciative and has recognized my work in this, and he sees that our styles complement each other because we are opposites. But my organization/planning obsessed side struggles with the absent-mindedness. Has anyone dealt with this before? Any suggestions? Should I just get over it? I am not a last-minute person, and sometimes I feel like this causes a lot of things to be left to the 11th hour (or to be a 180 from what I planned).

    1. Joey*

      Yes. Instead of an email hand him a weekly one pager with bullets of items you’ve discussed and the course of action you’re taking.

      1. HR Manager*

        Hmm, he’s got papers all over his desk, so I don’t think that would work for him. It’s not that he’s messy, but it’s the easily distracted thing. If I could personally grab his notebook and write this stuff down, that might take, but dang – any other piece of paper not stapled to him I don’t think would stick.

    2. Joey*

      He’s good, but is too inept to find/use basic tools to deal with his forgetfulness. He sure isn’t sounding that good.

      1. HR Manager*

        Because when he’s in conversation with you he gives you his full attention. He sometimes forgets time and is late to the follow up meeting, but it makes the employee feel they are valued and that he is genuinely seeking to help and counsel. People are quite forgiving because of other very positive qualities he has.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Try using a single idea such as, “Boss, yesterday you told me X, today you are saying NEVER X. I need to do the task once and do it right. I do not have time to rework stuff.”

      You can say the same thing a different way, “I have no preference if we do a or b, but it cannot be “do a” one day and the next day “do b”. We should be consistent on this stuff.”

      Harp on time or consistency or some other thing that you know he will agree that he values.

      Basically if he is happy being scattered all over there is not a lot you are going to do about it. I can see where he would fall apart with out you there, though.

  81. Hannah*

    What are your thoughts on bringing your own food to catered meetings and workshops. I never like the food on offer so I’d rather just bring something I do like. But last time I did this I think I got some weird looks from others at the meeting.

    1. HR Manager*

      As long as it’s not a stinky food, I don’t see the problem. I don’t like pizza (the horror!) and so I cringe at the typical pizza lunches a lot of companies offer. I’ve seen people bring their own food on occasions, so not weird to me.

    2. super anon*

      I always bring my own food and my own coffee. I don’t eat dairy, and there’s so very rarely a non-dairy coffee creamer, and a non-dairy food option (pizza lunches are the worst) that I’d rather bring my own food than chance not being able to eat anything at all. If anyone ever asks me about it, I tell them I have dietary concerns and they’re usually ok with it after that.

    3. KJR*

      I eat a somewhat restricted diet, and sometimes bring my own food. Usually my anticipation of people’s reactions is much worse than their actual reactions! Sometimes I even get comments that my food looks better than what they are being served.

    4. Jillociraptor*

      We actually set a conference norm most of the time that you take care of yourself when it comes to food. We’ll provide a meal that meets everyone’s dietary needs, but if you know you need more protein, or always get hungry in the afternoon, or hate eggplant Parmesan (which is served at EVERY CONFERENCE it seems), bring your own stuff and take care of you. It has not been an issue at all.

    5. Just Visiting*

      Honestly, unless you’re a vegan or have allergies or something, I wouldn’t. It’s like saying their food sucks, which it might, but come on it’s only one meal. Just pick at it and bring some granola bars in your bag or something.

  82. super anon*

    Should I tell a new employer about my anxiety? I was diagnosed with general anxiety disorder recently after having suffered through anxiety for over a year. I’d always been an anxious person but now my symptoms are physical, at my worst I was having anxiety attacks (and occasionally full blown panic attacks) throughout my entire work day, every day of the week. It’s especially problematic because my anxiety trigger is work, mostly having to speak to my supervisor/boss, and getting any kind of performance review. Honestly, just thinking about having to get a performance review is enough to send me into a full blown panic attack. I try my best not to let my anxiety impact my work and I am very successful at hiding my panic/anxiety – for a long time I didn’t even realize I was having panic attacks because they were such a normal daily occurrence for me, and I was just working through the pain, so to speak.

    I’m getting help for my anxiety, so that isn’t an issue, but I’m just not sure if after I get a new job, if I should tell an employer about it. There is such a stigma around mental health issues, that I wouldn’t want to jeopardize my relationship with a new boss by disclosing that information.

    1. HR Manager*

      It’s not an issue unless it starts to affect your work or your performance. If that is a concern or a possibility, I would bring it up only if you have to. E.g., if employees saw you often sitting separately and not looking well and expressed concern to your manager, that might trigger the need to disclose to your manager or HR.

      Unless you need an accommodation or a leave, I generally don’t advocate disclosing medical issues for no reason.

      1. fposte*

        I’m in agreement. I’d also note that such sharing would usually imply there’s something you want your manager to do with this information, so until there’s an action you want taken, the manager’s knowing isn’t likely to help you anyway. I think once you’re working there and have a decent reputation and have a specific request based on it-like an alternative way to handle a review, for instance–that can be worth doing, so I’m not opposed to disclosure–I just think it needs to be clear what the benefit would be.

        That sounds really tough, though; I hope this gets better for you.

    2. Anon4this*

      If the anxiety is seriously affecting your ability to work, you may be eligible to work, you may be eligible for SS Disability. Really. My wife is on permanent SSD mainly for her anxiety disorder.

    3. Bee*

      I was diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder. I probably have PTSD instead, if this makes my advice more or less relevant for you.

      It would be best to tell your manager if you need a specific accommodation, or there is something your manager should do with that knowledge. However, what you’re describing as triggers are very normal, understandable things to be nervous about (you or I just might have a stronger feeling about it). Your manager might be more understanding than you expect if you’re anxious during a review.

  83. CB*

    Hi all, long-time lurker, first-time commenter here.

    I’ve been in my current job for about a year and am beyond ready to begin job searching again. I’m doing very low-level admin work at a company that has no relation to my previous studies, experience, or interests, and the culture is just not a good fit. It’s just deathly boring and the petty office politics are wearing on me (though I’m aware office politics can happen anywhere), and there really doesn’t seem to be any possibility for advancement or change. The pay, hours, and benefits are all pretty good, which is why I took the job in the first place (after a solid year of unemployment). My question is getting back into the job market – how odd will this look on my resume, and how can I explain it to people? I’m trying to think of a better explanation than “I was desperate for a job so I took it” but am having trouble.

    Additionally, I’m worried that now that I’ve been out of school for over 2 years, it will be hard to find a job that’s appropriate to my interests and skills, and that not having anything more recent will hurt me. I really don’t have the money or time to get a certificate in anything until next summer at least, so I’m not really sure what to do with that.

    Overall I’m feeling really insecure about putting myself back “on the market” so to speak, and am unsure how to deal with my somewhat convoluted career path thus far in discussions with potential employers.

    1. Persephone Mulberry*

      Okay, I don’t want a first time commenter to feel ignored, so here’s my $.02. :)

      You didn’t give any detail about what your “interests and skills” or degree actually entail, or what area you’re hoping to get in to, but overall I don’t think your path thus far is as “convoluted” as you think it is. You graduated two years ago, were job searching for a year, accepted a position which you’ve been at for a year. Potential employers are going to get that you do what you need to do to pay the bills, and now you’re operating from a position of strength – even if it’s not exactly in your preferred industry or role, you’re gaining experience and building your professional reputation. Plus you have a paycheck you can rely on, so you’re not in the position you were a year ago – you don’t have to take the first job that’s offered to you if you don’t think it will be a good longer term fit.

      Dust off your resume, update it with what you’ve been doing for the past year, and get out there. best of luck!

      1. CB*

        Only just remembered to check this – thanks for the advice! The frantic pressure and stress of just finding a job is a nice thing to not have to deal with right now. Thanks :)

  84. chewbecca*

    What sort of embarrassing things have you done at your desk that you’re glad people don’t see?

    The original handset to our switchboard was malfunctioning, so our IT dept switched it out for a different one. This one is heavier than the the old one (that I used for 4 years), so I keep misjudging how much force I need to pick it up with. I just hit myself in the jaw with it, and not for the first time. Luckily not hard enough to bruise, because that’d be almost as bad as when I thought I was going to get a black eye from dropping a bottle of tums on my face last year.

    I also have a tendency to bob along to music. I try to keep it in check since I sit in a high traffic area, but sometimes I just can’t help it.

    1. nep*

      I talk to myself quite a bit, at home and at work.
      Not really that it would be embarrassing — I don’t embarrass easily. Just would be a bit of a chuckle for all concerned, I guess.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Ha ha, me too–I work out dialogue out loud, especially if I’m having trouble thinking through a conversation between two characters. Mostly when I’m doing dishes.

      1. Mimmy*

        I’m guilty of this as well. So, so hard to keep in check around others!! Unfortunately, for some reason, it helps me to process things.

      2. TheExchequer*

        I’m another proud member of the “Talk to Myself and Inanimate Objects” club. I figure as long as nothing starts talking back, we’re all good.

    2. Joie de Vivre*

      One casual Friday this summer I decided to try a long maxidress.
      Part way into the morning, I stood up quickly without realizing that I had rolled over the bottom of my dress with the chair. Body went up, dress stayed down.

      Nothing like unplanned semi-nudity to make you do a “DID ANYONE SEE THAT?!?!?” double take.

      1. Anonsie*

        I’ve done something like this a few times. When I have to tuck a blouse into a pencil skirt I’ll usually tuck it into my tights so it stays put. A few times one fall I miscalculated how much of the blouse should be strapped in there and I stretched at my desk later only to have the blouse stay put but the actual top of my body keep going out the neckline…

        The first time I don’t think anyone saw, the second time someone walked up to my desk right as it happened. Eesh. Didn’t make that mistake again.

    3. bridget*

      Given a recent heated debate on this subject, I know I SHOULD be embarrassed … but I floss at my desk. I have a private office, and only floss when nobody is around, so I’m not subjecting anybody to seeing it. This no-harm no-foul aspect means that the thread where it became clear that it was a bathroom-only activity didn’t really deter me. (Actually, it reminded me that I had some in my drawer and that it would be good for my teeth to use it more often).

      1. Lalaith*

        I often dig hairs out of my bra. Boy does that sound weird… I mean the hairs from my head, which often end up in my shirt!

    4. HR Manager*

      In my first job, a few years into it, I was FT recruiting and had an office for that purpose. I worked in a tall office building in a busy area with a lot of neighboring office buildings. If you were ever bored, you can stare right into the building across the street and check out people working.

      I have never been very lady like, and I where commuting shoes that get changed into proper work shoes when I get in. About ready to go home, I had the door closed, and hiked my legs up on the desk while wearing a skirt to tie the shoelaces on my sneakers. Completely forgot that I was flashing all the neighboring offices in the building across the way. Not sure if someone saw me, but that was delightfully awkward.

      I talk to myself quite a bit too, and I growl when I get frustrated with something.

    5. A Non*

      I often stand while I’m on the phone, and that sometimes turns into stretching – not just arm-over-the-head but foot-on-the-desk-folded-in-half-like-a-ballerina stretching. No-one’s seen me, and I haven’t ripped my work pants… yet.

    6. Lizzy*

      When I am in deep thought, I’ll find something to concert station point and just stare. I mean creepy, in a trance type of stare. And I’ve been caught too; a coworker once found staring intently at a potted plant when I was just really going over my grocery list in my head.

    7. Bee*

      My shirt unbuttoned itself in the wrong place once.

      And now that shirt’s only for wearing under sweaters.

    8. Mister Pickle*

      Speaking for myself and also for probably every guy who has ever worked in an office: scratchin’ the boys.

      The phone handset reminds me of back when I started working. There was a woman in my office who spent most of her day on the phone – it was simply the nature of her job. She also wore a LOT of makeup, including lipstick. Eventually, there came a re-org and everyone got shuffled around into different offices. The person who got placed into this woman’s office – call them W – called me, quite distressed, and asked me to stop in their new office.

      I walked over and W showed me the phone handset, the mouthpiece of which was caked with many, many ancient layers of lipstick. “I can’t use this phone!” said W. “Wow, I bet there are fossils in there!” I said, staring at it. W gave me a dirty look. “Maybe you could trade it?” I suggested helpfully. “Wanna trade?” asked W, not with any real hope. “Just ignore the stuff that comes out of my mouth” I said.

      W eventually went quietly to management and arranged to get a new handset. Not without comedy: “Oh, just call Bob in Telecom, he’ll set you up” said the manager. “Ummm, that’s a problem …” said W. But it eventually got handled.

      I forget his name, but there’s a researcher who has made his career out of studying dirt and germs and how they spread. I wonder if he’s ever studied office environments? I’ll bet they’re filthy. One thing I’ve noticed over the years I’ve worked at home: I get sick a lot less often.

    9. Cheesecake*

      I’ve sneezed yogurt all over myself/desk/computer/keyboard a few times. Sometimes the sneeze comes on so fast I don’t even have time to put my hand up, much less swallow the food in my mouth. My poor keyboard.

  85. PTO Audit*

    I am currently doing an audit of PTO time for my company. We were recently taken over by a larger company and are planning on gradually changing our policies to be more in-line with theirs. Part of that is updating our PTO policy. We currently have “comp” time that is largely overused by employees, or so my manager thinks. My question is, if you were seeing an audit of PTO use over the past year (Oct 2013 – Oct 2014), what kind of information would you want to see?

    I’m thinking:
    – % of PTO used
    – % of PTO lost
    -% of comp time used
    – Actual Hrs worked
    – Actual Hrs not worked but paid (PTO or comp time)
    – Avg PTO used
    – Avg comp time used

    What am I missing? Should I remove some? What would be most useful to you if you were a manager and looking to change the PTO policy?

    1. bridget*

      I think the manager should be interested not only in averages, but median use and if there are any individual outliers. A handful of people might be pulling the average up, and creating the perception that the benefit is overused by the group as a whole – don’t ruin things for everyone by changing the overall policy if the manager could just talk to a person or two about their attendance.

      1. PTO Audit*

        Great point. Thanks.

        I am creating a tab per person and a summary tab so I can easily pull that info out.

      1. AnotherHRPro*

        And if you find any interesting themes. For example, do some parts of the organization (department/function/location) or demographic (yrs of service/shift/organizational level) use more or give up more?

    2. LCL*

      Is each employee’s PTO account separate from their comp time account?
      Can comp time be used for any type of leave?
      How many OT hours did each employee work?
      How many of those OT hours were turned into comp time?
      How many hours of comp time did the employee cash in each year?

      Do your employees have a limited carryover of PTO? If PTO is use it or lose it, it seems more advantageous to the employee to use PTO whenever possible.
      We had to change our comp time policy. I won’t call what was happening abuse, the employees were using a benefit that was negotiated. But we didn’t have a per year limit on comp accumulation, so people would earn it, cash it in, earn some more, cash it in. The heavy users were using approx 100 hours a year, which amounts to 100 more vacation hours a year. Our large company couldn’t accomodate that loss in productivity. Yeah, we are the government but there is a limit.

    3. HR Manager*

      What questions are the audit seeking to answer? Just a slice and dice of PTO in any which way? I think understanding that might be helpful. Or what are some concerns out there re: PTO?

      Possible additional ways to analyze this:
      – vacation usage & loss analysis by exempt/non-exempt, or by job grades, or by dept
      – dollar value of vacation time used (either as a whole, or individually) and lost
      – sounds like there is no carryover, and CA is not in the picture – but just in case – dollar value of what’s carried over (this is usually a big one for Finance)
      – if you accrue additional PTO over time – I would note how many employees fall into those different tiers of vacation accrual rates

    4. Mister Pickle*

      I’d like to know if it’s true that 40% of all employee sick days fall on a day immediately before or immediately after a weekend.

    5. Rebecca*

      When the company I work for was purchased by another, they changed our vacation and PTO policies. No more rolling over any vacation days (we used to be able to roll 5 to the next year), and they reduced the PTO days from 7 to 5, with no payout for days not used. In the old system, if you didn’t use any PTO days that year, the company paid out 5 days on a separate check in late December. If you used any time, you got a check for half of what was left. It was also nice to be able to roll over 5 vacation days to give yourself a cushion in case of sickness or a family emergency – there was always that extra week accrued.

      Since the new policy went into effect, everyone uses every PTO day and every vacation day without fail. Not surprisingly, people call in “sick” **coughcough**when they’re not just to burn that day because the number has been reduced and the incentive not to take them has been taken away.

      I’m just pointing this out because in my experience, when studies like this are done, it’s not so the worker can get better benefits.

    6. Observer*

      What exactly is Comp time? If it’s time over 40 hours in a week that people work without getting paid and putting into a “bank” to be used other weeks, it’s not legal for non-exempt employees. It also happens to be be a surprisingly common – it’s one of those things that people really don’t seem to understand, whether employees or employers.

  86. Trixie*

    I applied for a computer help desk manager position (managing students), and now looking at interview with three team leads and the person this position would report to. Anyone here act as team lead or work with one, and if yes, can you share any insights about the team lead’s role/position?

    1. Sascha*

      I’m a team lead on a specialized IT support team at a university. My role consists of training and mentoring the other team members, and I also make a lot of decisions on day to day processes, and delegate tasks and projects. I have a manager who is the official manager of team, but he mostly handles things like hiring/firing, client complaints, approvals for things (equipment, travel, etc)., and performance reviews. He will also take care of the difficult conversations needed for some employees, like performance coaching – I do a little bit of that, and wish I could do more, but I think HR prefers the official manager handle problem employees.

      1. Trixie*

        Very helpful. Does he do anything specifically that really helps team leads, and are there things you wish were done better or differently?

        1. Sascha*

          Well, I wish he did everything better. I’m really not keen on him. He is good at handling irate clients, but he’s too much of a hands-off, uninvolved manager. It’s great not to work for a micromanager anymore, but he’s on the other end of that spectrum and that can be just as bad.

          Some specific things I wish he’d improve:

          – learn how to give actionable feedback; my reviews are just “you’re great! keep it up!” with no negative feedback ever for good employees; bad employees get “you’re bad, stop doing that” with no real coaching
          – stop talking so much ; he talks waaaay too much and usually turns all conversations back to himself, so he wastes meetings and interviews
          – don’t be reactive to problems; he gets very emotional and defensive when the higher bosses hand him problems to deal with, so he comes to us very agitated, and focuses more on blaming others than figuring out how to solve the problem
          – be more involved in general; as I mentioned, he’s too hands-off in that he doesn’t really understand the work we do (hence the poor feedback), and even when I keep him in the loop, he still gets surprised by things because he’s forgetful and uninvolved

          I have a lot of strategies for managing himself and getting around these problems, but it’s tiring. I don’t like the fact that I “manage my manager.” I would prefer that we work more collaboratively, and that he would actually lead – I often feel as if I’m the real manager here, but he gets the paycheck and the title. So my advice for a manager who is going to be managing team leads is basically just be involved and be knowledgeable about your team and their work, and develop your big picture leadership skills. And read all of AAM’s posts on being a good manager! :)

    2. Mister Pickle*

      I’ve had a lot of Team Lead gigs. If you’ve got a good team, it’s great work. Although if even one of your team members is a jerk, your life will be hell. Team Lead is essentially “all of the responsibility with none of the authority”, so it’s important that your boss has your back. In the past I’ve had to deal with a passive-aggressive team member who felt that they would be a better Team Lead, and my boss just didn’t want to hear about it. It was not fun. But if you’re going to be in charge of student workers, you probably won’t have any trouble with that.

      I find I have to walk a fine line: it’s not a good idea to be “best friends” with the people on my team, but I definitely want to be on their side. One way to do this is by promoting their good work: “my team was #1 in last month’s ranking” you say, to everyone you see. Make sure your team knows about any opportunities that might come along (“hey, the company has a new scholarship award thing – who wants in on it?”). Say “it was a team effort” a lot. The team will look to you for direction, and (especially if they’re younger) you’ll find yourself surprised that they don’t know some things which you take for granted. You may have to explicitly tell them to do some things (“you need to test the code before you check it in to the main build”). Make sure that you know what the job is, and make sure that everyone on the team knows what the job is, too. You’d be surprised at how often that gets overlooked. You may end up talking to your team quite a lot – but make it a point to listen to them when they have something to say. And let them do stuff – don’t try to do their jobs for them.

      When I think about it, Team Lead has a lot in common with the Teaching Assistant jobs I had while I was in grad school.

      Don’t have sex with anyone on your team.

      Lastly: just like you want your boss to back you up, remember to back up your team. If someone screws up, talk to them privately. Don’t ever yell at someone or chew them out or punish them in public or in front of the rest of the team.

      It sounds like your Team Lead job will be different than any of mine have been (usually software development kinds of things). If I were you, I’d want to know about the office culture: am I really supposed to be leading a team? Or am I supposed to be some kind of “enforcer”, tracking how many minutes someone spent in the restroom and stupid shit like that. If the latter, I’d walk away from the job.

  87. Raine*

    My office is going to have a holiday potluck — it’s a large group of folks. I was hoping to bring my meat lasagna; I don’t have a vegetarian recipe I like at this point, and think it’s probably fine with how huge our office, but wondered if it’s passe now or even a faux pas to bring a meat dish?

    1. Diet Coke Addict*

      Certainly not at all, unless there are some extenuating circumstances, like, I don’t know, you work for the Vegetarian Association of America or something. Just make sure you note that it’s a meat lasagna so no one mistakenly thinks it’s veggie lasagna and you’re fine.

    2. Sascha*

      I don’t think so, at least not in my area. There is a wide variety of dietary needs in my office, but we all work it out just fine, and no one gets offended if a meat dish shows up. In fact, our holiday lunch is usually catered barbecue, and then we supply sides and things like that.

    3. A Non*

      Many potlucks I’ve been to included little cards next to each dish giving the name of the dish and a list of any ingredients that are allergens or that some people avoid (eggs, dairy, meat, nuts, etc). It works out pretty well. Like Diet Coke Addict says, unless you work for a vegetarian organization, or the potluck announcements specifically requested vegetarian dishes, or something like that, meat dishes are fine. And delicious.

    4. BadPlanning*

      It’s fine in my area. But then we gave up all planning of potlucks some years ago. Now the only planning is, bring your own beverage and a food item. The managers pick up some buns and sandwich meat so there’s a “main meal.” Usually there’s a big variety of stuff so you could find something to eat — unless you have severe food allergies — but if I had severe food allergies, I wouldn’t trust any potlucks!.

    5. Felicia*

      I think as long as you say what’ s in it it doesn’t matter. Generally at potlucks i’ve done at work there have been sign up dishes with a certain amount of spaces for meat (main dish) vegetarian (main dish), meat (side) , vegetarian (side) etc so people don’t overlap too much.

    6. AnotherHRPro*

      Yum! I think many people would love meat lasagna. And as it is a pot luck, there will be lots of other things for people to select from if they don’t like it. Considering how much work goes into lasagna, I think it is very nice of you to bring it in.

    7. HR Manager*

      Does someone have a sign-up list of dishes so that folks don’t bring the same stuff? I find meat dishes welcome, and expected. With the sign-up list method, it’s a nice way to make sure you’re not overloading on dessert/meat/veggie and that there is a good variety for everyone.

    8. Mister Pickle*

      I seem to recall a discussion about Potlucks here on AAM several weeks ago. Something about cats and kitchen counters and litterboxes …?

    9. Just Visiting*

      I’m a vegetarian, I wouldn’t care. Just say it has meat in it and you’re fine. I usually assume food has meat in it unless it’s obviously something that doesn’t.

  88. lalla*

    I posted in last week’s open thread about looking for resources to help with confidence in the workplace, so I’ve had a week to ponder the responses I got (thank you to everyone who replied) and what the issue really is.

    I think the reason my mentor picked up on this as an issue was that in our first meeting, he recommended that I apply for an internal vacancy. When we met again I told him the truth – that I’d looked at it, thought it sounded really interesting, half-heartedly gone through the specification, then decided not to apply. I don’t know if it was the increase in responsibility, the pay rise or just the fact that it’s really different to my current role, but I felt overwhelmed by the prospect of applying and responded by doing nothing. My immediate response was: there is no way I could get this job. I regretted that decision almost as soon as I’d made it (the job really was ideal) but my original thought is still there: I can’t see why anyone would even consider me for a job like that.

    I think there’s a big gap between how I see myself and my skills and what everyone else sees. I think of myself as competent and reliable and I know those things aren’t nothing, but I don’t see anything special or anything that stands out. Everyone from my peers to my manager to my mentor to people I interact with all over the company tell me how amazing I am and how I can do anything I want, but I don’t really believe that. I think I’m right (of course): that I’m fairly ordinary and everyone else is just teasing or trying to be nice.

    I guess what I need is to be able to really believe in myself, to at least see myself as others see me, and to have the self-belief to do things like apply for jobs I’m interested in (and not avoid it because I feel faintly embarrassed, like everyone will be whispering about how deluded I am). This is easier said than done and as I said last week, when I look for things about how to be confident I mostly just get things telling me why it’s good to be confident, which doesn’t really help (I am looking into some of the suggestions that were given, but if anyone has any tips then please let me know).

    I’m also going to investigate what help I need in understanding the business and ask my mentor about that, too. I think my current role is so far within my comfort zone that people (including me) occasionally forget that there are things I need to get more experience in.

    1. nep*

      I think many competent people have some degree of this from time to time. Often it comes down to simply overthinking things.
      Why not just give something a shot (such as applying for that next internal vacancy) without analysing whether or not you are seeing yourself as others see you…without analysing all the flaws that would (in your mind) keep you out of such a position? Whether you’re the right person or not — that’s the employer’s decision. You’ve put yourself out there and that experience in itself is likely to be enriching for you.
      Wishing you all the best. Do keep us posted.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      How long have you been working? I tend to believe that when we first start out we just have to go with what other people say to do. By “other people” I mean respected people who give thoughtful advice.

      Confidence is not something that you add water and stir. Confidence is built over time. So I think that it is pretty normal to be unsure about new ventures. I almost wonder if your mentor was more taken aback by the fact that you did not apply AFTER he said it would be okay to. This could mean (in his mind) that you don’t trust him. It does take some confidence to trust other people’s judgement. Just something to consider- do you trust other people’s judgement when your own judgement has gone out for a lunch break?

      Consider this angle. When you know for a fact that you don’t know about X or Y, and someone comes along and explains it, do you frequently reject their explanation or do you mull it over or do you readily agree if and when the explanation makes sense to you?

      I am saying this because I have a dear family member (dfm) that will ask people for advice and then question their advice every inch of the way. wth. Dfm cannot make decisions that well because she has not met that many people whose responses she did not question at length. This is more about her than about the person answering her question. It takes confidence to trust that people are giving you their best answer. She has lived for decades this way. Everything in her life takes a verry long time and is verry belabored.

      I am not saying you are this person. no-no. I am saying this is a road you do not want to start down. It is debilitating. Perhaps reading about making decisions is something you would get benefit from.

      1. lalla*

        Thanks for the feedback. I’ve been working full time for about 4 years so whilst I’m not brand new, in the grand scheme of things I’m relatively inexperienced.

        What you said about taking advice really struck a chord with me, actually. I hope I’m not as bad as your family member sounds but I do have a tendency to query advice I’m given. It might be partly that I feel I have to be careful that I’m getting stuff right (partly because I’m details-oriented and quite a perfectionist, which is mostly a separate issue). In the role I do now I’m seen as being an expert in the tasks I do most of the time, to the point where I’m the person everyone in the company comes to in order to get information about correct procedures etc., so when I learn something new I’m aware I’m probably going to be passing the advice on at some point, so I want to make sure I understand it. I also know that I learn things better when I know the reasoning behind them, and I’m often asked to think about processes and how they can be simplified so it makes sense to me to be asking if the advice I’m being given is sound and what ideas and principles are at work in forming that advice.

        So questioning the advice I’m given (in a constructive, tactful way, in a timely manner) is kind of helpful to me in my everyday work life, when the advice I’m given is about technical tasks or ways of approaching problems etc. But I can see that this might be different when the advice I’m being given is about me and my career. I’m generally not a very trusting person, and that combined with my not actually being very certain about my own abilities can lead me to be a little dismissive of other people’s positive opinions of me (nowadays if I receive praise I tend to smile and say thank you without really internalising or accepting it, which isn’t great but is better than my previous technique which was to start listing all the reasons why that praise was unjustified – an irritating habit that is now well-squashed).

        I suppose it’s a little bit of “I wouldn’t want to be in any club that would accept me as a member” – when someone says something positive about me, I tend to think that they probably have quite poor judgement, or that I’ve accidentally mislead them as to my abilities. So when my mentor (who I like and respect, but who I haven’t known for very long) told me how much potential he thought I had, and that this job that was available was something I should consider, I automatically assumed that he was trying to be nice, or had been persuaded of my abilities by the inaccurate gushing of my manager or someone. I filed those comments away in my (ever-expanding) To Be Ignore column and then was kind of actually surprised when he asked me why I hadn’t applied.

        I will definitely look into decision making and the other things you mentioned.

    1. Sabrina*

      This is even funnier for me because I was reading from the bottom up and hadn’t seen the original comment yet. LMAO!

      1. Lizzy*

        Another one who did the same thing. Actually, I saw the responding comments first and knew the original comment had to be good. Still trying to contain myself, lol.

  89. nicolefromqueens*

    I am about to take a clerical aide civil service exam in about a week. I bought a study book because although I only need a passing score, I do really need to pass.

    Well, this book is nothing but a few pages of a general clerical aide job description, how to take a test, and about a hundred pages of smaller tests varying in subject matter (basic algebraic problems, spelling, grammar, punctuation, vocabulary, reading comprehension, coding, filing and alphabetizing, general knowledge.) Some of the general knowledge questions really have me spinning my head. Lots of complicated political questions, e.g. where is the permanent UN headquarters located, what two federal positions are served by the same person, which department handles the Census, various responsibilities if the State Department, and more. Now I’m the first to admit I wasn’t the most attentive in high school or college, but I never remember being taught these details of the UN. And I have no idea what my lack of knowledge of the responsibilities, activities, or locations of the UN or the State Department have to do with my ability to file documents or issue visitor tickets for NYC. If I really needed that information (or any other factual information for that matter) I’m pretty good at Google.

    I’m pretty sure this title is the most basic of civil service office jobs, and that the exam doesn’t even require a HS diploma.

    Am I just stressing out over ridiculous authors and publishers?

    1. KJR*

      Is the study book specifically geared towards the position you are interviewing for? If so, I guess I would probably start brushing up on those questions, although they do seem pretty random!

      1. nicolefromqueens*

        It has the same job title as my test/position. It wasn’t published or administered by the City, they don’t publish study/exam books.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      I took a test for a county level job and yeah, I found comparable questions. Do make sure you have the right book for your exact test.

  90. Cruciatus*

    Resume question…I’m always looking for more ways to quantify stuff that I do. One thing I have to do is take survey information/evaluation data from surveymonkey and put it into Excel spreadsheets for students to see how they were ranked by their peers and by their facilitators. Granted I already have the spreadsheets ready and it’s not like I create a new one each time (and thank you to automatic formulas) and it’s mostly copy and paste, but first years do 5 surveys a year, X 43 students and second years do 6 surveys a year X 42 students (not to mention the facilitators are also ranked, and they rank each student so it ADDS UP). So I transfer HUNDREDS–over 500 some evaluations into Excel spreadsheets in one school year. Should I put it that way? Right now I just say something like “Transfer evaluation data into spreadsheets for student grades” (something like this but I don’t have the exact resume in front of me right now).

    1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      I’d say it’s more about what you did to make that process work. You created the templates, right? Put together a system to simplify the process and ensure that the data was accurate? I’d focus on that.

    1. BRR*


      While I wouldn’t put it past someone, some of the stories on the site seem a little exaggerated.

      1. KerryOwl*

        Oh yeah, I take the stories on all of those sites with a grain of salt . . . the protagonist is often more clever than they probably were in real life. There are some gems to be found, though.

        1. fposte*

          I find the “unfiltered” (basically, didn’t really meet publication standard) section of entries really fascinating. There’s a mix of people who can’t tell stories to save their lives, people who can’t tell the difference between “a thing that happened” and “an interesting thing,” people who don’t realize that they’re the asshole in the story, and satirical stories riffing on previous unbelievable stories. It’s kind of like if Andy Warhol had a blog.

          1. literateliz*

            I don’t know if I’m dating myself by referring to, but “Moderate the FMLs” (basically the same thing as the unfiltered stories) used to be my absolute favorite part of reading that site, for exactly the same reason!

  91. NoPantsFridays*

    Any clothing suggestions for someone with arms that are disproportionately large compared to torso? That might sound weird, but my shirts usually fit fine around the torso/waist/bust/shoulders but don’t accomodate the width/circumference of my upper arms. I found this really nice (dressy) dress (that I could wear to work) a few weeks ago but it was sleeveless (and wearing any type of sleeveless or super-short-sleeved garment is not an option). The torso and skirt fit perfectly. Unfortunately, the version with sleeves didn’t fit at all — I literally couldn’t get my arms into the sleeves and still zip the back up. So yeah, any suggests for button-up shirts, sweaters, sleeved dresses, etc. for people with abnormally large arms? In general, any suggestions for shirts that have sleeves down to the elbows? Thank you!

    1. Manders*

      I’ve actually been wondering whether it would be all right to wear a cardigan or a blazer over a dress that doesn’t have the right kind of top for the office. I have some dresses that are just on the wrong side of appropriate for a business environment (spaghetti straps, tank-top type straps, etc) but look very smart with a blazer.

      1. Miss Evy*

        I think if you would be comfortable wearing the blazer/cardigan the whole day, I think it’s absolutely fine to wear layers, so long as the end-product is professional and put-together.

      2. AvonLady Barksdale*

        I wear cardigans with just about everything. I have arms like hams and broad shoulders– I have some wonderful sleeveless dresses, and tank tops hang very well on me, but there’s no way I would go sleeveless in the office. Cashmere from Lord & Taylor is pricey but basic and lasts forever if you take care of it.

      3. NoPantsFridays*

        That’s a good thought — thank you! I wear sweaters with pants/shirt anyway and keep it on all day, so over a dress I think would be fine. Now, to find a cardigan that fits! It would be nice to have a longer sweater.

    2. Miss Evy*

      I have a similar problem but my issue is with my shoulders – they’re quite broad for someone with my figure and it makes finding clothes difficult sometimes.

      Depending on the level of casualness/formality required for your clothing in the office, there are quite a few things you can do. An office-friendly dress paired with a cardigan will be suitable for most offices that don’t have especially strict requirements on clothing; you can also wear a sweater over a dress. I think layers are the best way to get around the problem of clothing that is mass-marketed to only a few types of body shapes; that way you can find clothing that fits the different parts of your body that fall outside of the fashion industry’s norms.

      I wasn’t sure if you were asking for brand recommendations or what, but in my personal experience, the only that that works is trying on different brands until you find one that tends to work for you. I look for sales and shopped at Express, New York & Company, Ann Taylor/Ann Taylor Loft, all of which have a very solid selection of office-friendly clothes. If you’re on a tight budget thrift stores may also have unexpected finds for a much lower price tag, as will stores such as ROSS, Marshall’s, etc. I would recommend sticking with versatile basics in neutral colors that you can mix and match with many different outfits.

      1. A Non*

        Same thing here, I have broad shoulders which isn’t exactly the same issue. I’ve found that soft drapey knits are my friends. Anything tailored, not so much. Fortunately loose-fitting sweaters are ‘in’ right now, and I can occasionally find tops with puffed sleeves.

      2. NoPantsFridays*

        Thank you! Yes, sweaters and cardigans are completely acceptable at my office. I have a few sweaters that I wear with slacks and a nice shirt, and I think I could find one that looks good over a dress, which would be fine. You are right, my body seems out-of-proportion with a lot of the available clothing so it makes sense to buy it in parts and wear it together.

  92. NowProwl*

    How early is too early to inquire about the results of an interview? Was told that they’d finish this week, but I’m wondering if sending a message today would be too early… getting anxious!

    1. fposte*

      Any time is too early–that’s not something you can really ask (remember, they’re going to tell you when they please whether you call them or not, so calling isn’t going to change what they actually do). What you can do is ask about their timeline for decision making–however, and you’re not going to like this, I’m going to say in this case not only can’t you call today, the first week you can call about that is the week after Thanksgiving. Next week is the earliest that they would get to decisions if they were interviewing this week, and with Thanksgiving coming odds are that’s going to delay them. Don’t worry, if they want to hire you, they’ll find you.

      1. Steve G*

        +1. I think I killed a job prospect that emailed me a couple of times a month ago, because I always responded so quick and said “yes” to everything.

        I just applied for a job I really qualify but waiting 2 painful weeks to contact someone I kind of know there….it was a painful wait, but worth it, it is leading to an interview.

        As everyone keeps saying (and I knew it mentally, but couldn’t control myself until it killed that 1st good job prospect), job hunting is like dating. Agreeing with everything (unless everything they say is truly great) and responding too quickly and following up too much is not good.

  93. the gold digger*

    I am reading a case study about an IT project that went really wrong and am laughing at this line. It is pretty clear the study was written by a student and not by someone who has spent some time in the workforce:

    Somewhat surprisingly, nobody on the management team had any experience of the type of IT development that was being attempted.

  94. Sabrina*

    What do you folks think of this? Last week I was contacted via LinkedIn by a recruiter asking me if I’d be interested in an opening. This is the first time this has every happened to me, so it was a nice confidence booster. I went in this week for some “assessment” tests, and met with the recruiter afterwards. I asked why the position was open. He said that they had hired someone for the role and it wasn’t just for him and they “mutually agreed” to go separate ways. To me that sounds like he wasn’t learning fast enough or whatever reason and they fired him after a month. That kind of makes me nervous, especially since we just bought a house. Would that concern anyone else? I don’t know if I’ll even get an interview, they said they have an internal applicant who they are interviewing this week, and I’m sure they’ll get it and this will be a non-issue.

    1. soitgoes*

      $20k is a solid starting salary if you’re just entering the working world and don’t have a lot of debt to pay off. Good for you :)

    2. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

      People wash out during training at jobs. I know that’s scary! And it’s scary for those of us on the other side because the last thing anybody wants to do is wash out a hire that so much time was put into to get in the first place.

      The good sign here is that a good company will take care of something quickly. If you take 6 months to wash somebody out, that’s a huge spot on their resume that they pretty much have to put the job into vs 1 month where they can just leave it off entirely without having to explain the gap.

      Now, was dude 1 out 50 who wash out or 1 out of 2? That’s your real question there and you can ask that in an interview. Think how Alison would word that question to the interviewer and ask it that way. :P

    3. BRR*

      Can you try finding the past employee on LinkedIn to see if there’s a reason he might not have worked out? Like oh he didn’t have a background in chocolate teapot making so I can see him struggling in a chocolate teapot making role or his history was in chocolate teapot analysis so he might have not enjoyed being in chocolate teapot sales. Or a history of short stints at jobs.

    4. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

      I hired a new employee a few months after firing the last person in her position. She has (tactfully) asked a lot of questions about how she can avoid the same pitfalls, and I’ve tried to be really honest. The thing is, however, that I realized the mistake a I made when I hired the last person (the person I fired had the wrong personality, the wrong background, and was at the wrong place in his career) and the new woman is NOTHING like that guy – totally different background, personality, and career path. There is no way she would make those same mistakes – it’s just not who she is or where she is in her career (she might well make her own mistakes, but she’s just SO different than him)

      What I’d rather her focus on (and I have told her thus) is making sure that we’re really clear about expectations, deadlines, and goals. If you focus on that stuff, you won’t need to worry about how you might be like the other guy (while simultaneously doing totally different things wrong :-))

    5. Observer*

      Not really. It’s always possible that he wasn’t able to keep up with unrealistic expectations. But, it’s also possible that he hod something that came up once he was hired, or they just missed something that wasn’t obvious, but turned into a big issue – and it’s even possible that no one had any way to realize that it was going to be an issue.

      We’ve had a number of staff who have a long commute and they are / were fine, for a significant amount of time. And, we ALWAYS make sure to ask people about their commute, as we are not that convenient to public transportation. Yet, we’ve had at least two people start job hunting quickly because of the commute, even though they knew about it. If I recall correctly one of them got pregnant and realized that it just wasn’t going to work, but the other just came to realize that it was a bigger deal than she was able to deal with.

      My point is that sometimes things just don’t work out the way you expect. If this happens a lot, then there may be something going on. But one incident simply doesn’t tell you anything.

  95. nyxalinth*

    After leaving the Job From Hell two weeks ago, I had an interview with a place downtown which I’d applied to two years ago, and was soundly blown off at the time. When they were hiring again, I reapplied about ten days ago, and today they called and offered me the job! I thought I’d been passed over again for sure.

    It’s not big money at 10.00 an hour but there’s potential bonuses, and it is MUCH closer (30 minute bus ride at the worst, and one bus) and I will be much happier there. The whole feeling is much nicer and more professional.

  96. Miss Evy*

    Sort-of hunting for a new job right now, but one thing I’m having a lot of trouble with is salary/compensation. How does one research this? I have heard that online sites like GlassDoor, Indeed, etc. are not very good with assisting with research of this sort, so how would you go about looking, especially if your previous job isn’t exactly a straightforward step up into the types of jobs that you’re looking into?

    For example: I’m looking at an Operations Manager position for a retail/fashion startup in San Francisco, CA, and I don’t know anyone who works at the company or who holds a similar position. How would I figure out what to ask for in terms of salary/pay?

    1. Miss Evy*

      And if it helps, I have 2-3 years of work experience, a non-related BA, and my current position shares some characteristics (customer-centric while streamlining internal processes, project management) but I am not in a managerial position.

    2. HR Manager*

      Glassdoor is not wrong, so much as self-reported and therefore not an indicator that this is an accurate reflection of what the market range would be. If you found several similar jobs that had that salary data on Glassdoor (and in that region), you can probably start to find some consistency. and are popular tools for additional data points, but I will also say that the methodology or data on these sites are unknown. We had a comp person inquire about how they get their info, and they wouldn’t share unless we bought a subscription (this is their real MO). So just take everything you find online with a grain of salt. In addition, try to see if there are additional job postings for similar roles with a any salary ranges attached. These should all be integrated to give you a rough ballpark of pay. Presumably you also have your own budgetary needs that should factor into what you ask for?

  97. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

    For the latecomers!

    Here’s an interesting thing that happened this week that I thought might pique the AAM crowd conversation.

    We’re hiring for several positions atm and interviewed an applicant from within the teapot industry. We sell teapots, her company supplies spouts. Even though we’ve never worked with her directly, we work with her company daily. She answered our ad on Career Builder. It wasn’t a referral.

    (In keeping with the theme this month may I say NO, NOBODY from our company is going to say anything to her boss about the interview,ffs, what’s wrong with other people.)

    So here’s the thing. She says the reason that she’s looking to move, after 7 years, is advancement. She interviewed very well. The thing is, the job she is interviewing for isn’t actually advancement, based on the job we have described to her and what she has described her job duties at Fred’s Tea Spouts to be. Yet, she claims that our job is what she wants.

    Now, what I think is actually happening is one of the following: she’s hideously underpaid (the salary she asked from us is well within reason, just 10% more than we’d pay somebody straight out of college. OR, she’s got a toxic work environment. OR, she’s stretching her current work responsibilities well out of the shape that they truly are.

    So here we are on the other end, trying to get a read, trying to figure out what the real story is.

    The interesting conversation question for you guys is this: at what point does the general rule of “never complain about your current employer, ever, in an interview” become a liability? Or does it ever? Our getting to the bottom of why she is asking to take a step back but calling it advancement is all the difference in our feeling comfortable with ultimately making an offer. What we’re left with now is that something doesn’t add up and that feeling, in every one of us deciding, isn’t in her favor. If the environment is bad, and she was somewhat forthcoming about needing to get out for that reason, we’d sigh with relief because that would make sense to us.

    (Second interview to come and I’m going to sit with her again and see if she’ll get loose enough with me to just starting talking.)

    1. fposte*

      I’d also ask directly about the fact that this position isn’t really advancement for her. I’d be less concerned at finding out what really happened in her current job than identifying if she’s going to get what she’s really leaving for.

      1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

        Right. I didn’t want to know the gory details anyway, but, that’s a good reminder for me to refocus everybody away from the speculation.

        Unfortunately, when I asked her during the first interview, she clung to her “I’ve been there 7 years and there’s nowhere for me to advance… and (insert sales speech)” Did I mention it’s a sales job? :) ;) She’s good at spinning the conversation, point in her favor there. :p

        I do feel bad for her because the spout people are a bit sketchy and, with faults of course, we’re a nice, positive place to work. I’ll be more relentless re her telling me specifically why this would be an advancement in the second interview.

        1. CAA*

          Well, is there somewhere for her to advance to if you hire her? If she’s at step 3 on a career ladder and that’s the highest she can go at her current employer, but if your company is hiring at step 2 with the potential for advancement to step 6 someday, then it’s entirely possible she’s telling you the truth. She needs to move down first before she can move up.

          I also think it’s fine to say “I’m confused because although you say you want to advance in your career, this job is actually a step backwards from where you are now. Can you explain why you see it as a step forward?”

        2. AvonLady Barksdale*

          Maybe she wants to advance her career on another side of the teapot business? That’s why I took my current job. It was a lateral move, but I had been at my old job for 8 years and there was no way to grow the way I wanted to. You could always frame it that way: “This would be more of a lateral move/step back for you; do you think that would be an issue?” Make sure she knows you like her when you ask that! During the interviews for the job I just got, everyone tried to make sure I absolutely knew what I was in for, kind of a, “This is how it is and I hope we haven’t scared you,” and it opened the door for very pleasant, honest conversation.

          1. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

            I wondered that too -maybe the “advancement” for her is diversifying her experience. But fpost is right – I’d ask directly.

    2. Shell*

      I would never feel brave enough to bad-mouth a current employer to anyone I was interviewing with. Granted I’m a sample of one, but I’d be really surprised if she actually said outright that her workplace is toxic or hideously underpaying even if it is.

      I’d just say to her candidly, “so based on your description of your job at Fred’s Tea Spouts, this current position isn’t really an advancement, it’s more of a [lateral move/one step down/insert relevant phrase]. Can you explain to me why you feel it’s an advancement? We want to get a better idea of what you’re looking for here.” or something.

      1. Gene*

        I think that’s good advice. I made what some viewed as a huge demotion to move once, the 20% cut in pay was offset by the 30% drop in cost of living. But the place I was interviewing with wanted to know why I was willing to take that big a cut in pay.

      2. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

        While I would never in one million years advise an interviewee to speak ill of a current or former employer, there have been at least few times that an interviewee has been candid with me, and it’s worked in their favor.

        Not advice!

        Just saying, it has worked. With me. An honest story. Not a worked up trashing. Just an honest story.

        1. Shell*

          I remember you were the one who’d happily wax poetic about StarCraft II with me if I was to step into your company for a hypothetical interview, right? So maybe you’re a happy exception all around :)

        2. Mister Pickle*

          I concur. I understand the reasoning behind the prohibition, but it’s kinda like death: I understand the whole “Great Circle Of Life” thing, but I don’t wanna die.

          I see stories here on AAM all the time from people who are working in nightmare toxic environments. An honest story would work with me, too. But where I’d have trouble is if I said something like “off the record, why?” and they gave me an earful of how they were persecuted at their last workplace because of the candidate’s strong Rosicrucian beliefs and the copy machine stained their Cosmic Consciousness, but
          repeated requests to get a new machine were ignored, and eventually Byron the Bulb came to them in a vision and foretold how they would have this exact conversation with me.