open thread – November 21, 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 :)

{ 1,106 comments… read them below }

  1. a.n.o.n.

    So, I will be starting my new job on December 1. I was hired to manage a department of four people. I’ve managed people before, but I was in that company for almost 20 years and rose through the ranks to eventually become a manager. Everyone knew me and I knew them since we’d worked together for so long. Now that I’ve been hired as a manager, I won’t be working my way up like last time and don’t have the history with the employees. Any tips for coming in to a new company as a manager? I’m hoping to reinvent myself a bit. I want to let go of a couple bad habits, like being a little too hands-off sometimes, and maybe try to handle things a little differently than I used to. I guess I want to be a better version of me and do the best I can.

    1. Sascha

      When my director first joined our department, he had a one-on-one with each staff member to get a feel for what we did, but also to provide a safe space to listen to our opinions about our managers and the department. That made a big, positive impact on me. I really appreciate that he did that. Unfortunately he tried to implement changes and was quashed by the VP, but at least I knew he was someone who would listen, even if his hands were tied on certain things. I also appreciated that he wanted to know the ins and outs of my daily work, because my manager is very hands-off and most of the time, it feels like he has no clue what I do, even though I keep him updated.

      1. Carrie in Scotland

        That is a really good idea, to learn what each person does on an individual basis. It also shows to the employees you’re managing that you want to know. rather than just come in and change lots of things.

      2. A.n.o.n.

        I can’t even imagine not knowing what my employees do. It just seems like a no-brainer that a manager should know what they do at least generally. But I guess some managers don’t care to know or just don’t understand.

      3. MaryMary

        I’d suggest continuing the one on one meetings too. Monthly, weekly, whatever makes sense for you. A lot of people take a while to open up to a new manager. Try mixing your one on ones with purely business/project discussions and more causal conversations over lunch or coffee.

    2. YourCdnFriend

      In addition to the great idea for 1-on-1 meetings, I’d caution that you should avoid making big, sweeping changes for the first little while.

      How long to wait really depends but it’s hard to understand the full picture and all the implications when you’ve only just begun.

      Good luck!

    3. HR Manager

      This is not a quick solution, but many managers have sweeping ideas of what they should do to manage (not micromanage, not be hands-off). Micro-managing and being hands-off are perfectly legit management styles, but just not right for all situations. This is the heart of ‘situational leadership’ training — match management style to task not to people. Your rock star thrown into a big project for the first time may need more hand-holding and guidance, even if they are great at every thing else. But check-in and ask.

      In your 1-1 with them, ask them how they want you to support them (more structure, less structure, etc.) and find out more about how they work to get what they do produced.

    4. Joey

      Yes. The best managers use decision making as the barometer. That is, if employees make good decisions you back off and vice versa. The key is to get them all to a point to make good decisions so you can focus on strategy and high level decision points instead of low level execution.

      In other words you can’t just say you’re going to be more hands off until you know it’s appropriate. That means observing to see who needs development and how much.

    5. Not So NewReader

      Ask them what they need. Seriously. Before you start issuing a bunch of orders/changes/directives, find out what they need that they do not have. You may not be able to get everything, but you may be able to get each person something. And you can keep in mind what their unmet needs are as you go along.

    6. C Average

      Give them a little face time every day, even if it’s just a quick walk around their area to say good morning to everyone. They’ll come to regard you as someone accessible and not intimidating, and they’ll be more forthcoming if they have concerns.

      (I used to be a skeptic about this. A couple of managers in our department do it, and I found it eye-rollingly contrived at first. But damned if those guys don’t know EVERYTHING that’s going on with their teams, even if that brief morning hello is the only contact they have on some days.)

    7. a.n.o.n.

      Thanks everyone! I’m so looking forward to my new job. Only three more days and I’m done with the current job. :D

  2. Anon for this

    I recently joined a Teapot Design team as a General Teapot Designer, in an office where I’ve worked for five years in other roles. I was assigned to work in partnership with a soon-to-arrive Special Teapot Designer. I came on too late to be part of the interview process for her, but the other team members said the new Special Teapot Designer was great, and I would love her. I’m an easy-going and friendly person, and I really like the rest of my team, so I was totally prepared to love her!

    Only I DON’T love her. I can’t stand her. I stay kind and friendly; I’m professional enough that I don’t need to like the people I work with in order to treat them well and work with them effectively. But it makes every day hard. We’re not simpatico at all. She’s a talker and I’m not. She’s excitable and I’m laid-back. She’s knitted afghans and I’m World of Warcraft, and never the twain shall meet. Still, I felt like I could work with her and we’d make a good team.

    But over the past couple of months, things have gone steadily downhill. I could deal with it if it were just personality conflict, but some of it impacts work, and some of it’s just a little weird.

    1. She’s a terrible communicator. She’ll talk for five minutes about something tangential to a question, then say, “but that’s neither here nor there” or “but that’s not important” and back up and take another tangent, never really answering the question. She will stop in the middle of a sentence that seemed like it MIGHT be about the question, then start a whole new sentence about something totally unrelated. She does this in conversations AND in meetings, even when she’s running the meeting. And one-on-one, I sometimes really need information she has, and I find it almost impossible to get it.

    2. She constantly talks to me through our shared cube wall. I’ll hear my name and then a mumble. I’ve told her many, many times that I can’t hear her, but she refuses to email, or pick up a phone, or use our instant message system. If I say “I’m sorry, I can’t hear you” she comes around to my desk, but only to talk about how noisy the office is. Wearing headphones doesn’t help because she can’t see that I’m wearing them until she gets to my cube. Then she only wants to talk about how she’s not used to people wearing headphones at work, isn’t it strange how times change. (She’s not THAT much older than me, and we’re not totally different generations.)

    3. She’s always talking about her material possessions. She goes on and on about her vacation house, her rental properties, her cars, etc. It’s not that she says “I have a lot of money and stuff!” but any opportunity to bring it up, she takes. If we need to drive to a meeting, she’ll say, “I’ll drive! I just got a new Supercharged Special Zoomy Car 3000!” or “I’m leaving early today, it’s a long drive to my mansion on the waterfront!” I have never had a conversation with her that didn’t come back to her five houses and six cars, etc.

    3. She asks me to lunch every day, and it’s always somewhere expensive. I can’t afford to eat lunch out every day, which I have told her. I’ve started bringing my lunch every day so I can say, sorry, I brought mine in today! But she keeps. asking. CONSTANTLY. My team is really invested in everyone being warm and friendly and getting along, so I try to say yes occasionally, but it’s just way too much.

    4. THIS IS THE WORST THING. She’s always trying to get me to go to her house. She’s tried to get me to leave work in the afternoon and go work from her house “because it’s close and it’s so comfortable there!” She’s asked me out to lunch and then said, “I know, let’s pick it up and go eat at my house!” To get out of that I’ve started bringing my lunch every day, and lately she’s switched it to, “If you brought your lunch, we could always go to my house and eat!” She’s also said that if it’s ever stormy at night I could sleep at her house instead of making my long commute home. She’s working so hard to get me into her house that I’m half convinced I’d end up dead in a closet there if I ever agreed to go.

    There’s also little nitpicky stuff, like the fact that she has a very favorite word to use and uses it several times a day, and that word does not mean what she thinks it means. Or the fact that she leaves early and comes in late every day. Or the fact that she told me one day, “I stay out of your general teapot design things because I’m sure you’re competent enough to handle them on your own” – when she in no way approves, oversees, or even understands my part of our shared work. I have more seniority at our company, and I’m widely respected for my General Teapot work here, but she has more experience in Special Teapots, and she presents herself as my superior or my boss when we meet with other people. Correcting her in front of other people would, I think, seem weird. The one time I mentioned it to her afterward, she had no idea what I was talking about. And she keeps doing it.

    I can’t talk to anyone at work about this because it would be gossipy and mean, and none of it rises to the level of anything you’d go to your supervisor or HR about. Any advice on how to deal with any of this stuff would be VERY WELCOME! I’ve tried so many different versions of “be polite, but clear about your needs” that I can’t count them, and nothing seems to work.

    1. Tiffy the Fed... Contractor

      Yikes, honestly, I feel like you’re overreacting a bit. I mean, I get that it’s a personality conflict, but she’s not doing anything so egregious that I think it really warrants, well, anything. Maybe this isn’t the right approach… I’m very much a grin and bear it sort of person, unless it’s totally out of line. All of the stuff you mentioned, I get that it’s annoying, but sometimes other people are annoying and you just have to deal with it. Plus, there are annoying people everywhere. Trust me, I’m related to most of them.

      1. Anon for this

        I probably am overreacting – from what I can tell, she’s able to do her job. But working with her has become like being poked gently every five seconds with a toothpick, throughout the entire day. For the first few minutes it’s not so bad, but by the time I go home I’m in a white-hot rage of vengeance and despair. :)

        1. anon for this, too

          I honestly don’t think you’re overreacting at all. For whatever reasons, some people just do inexplicably clash on some cellular level, and you gotta just acknowledge it and allow it to be….and find ways to work in a collegial and mature ways while also maintaining your boundaries.

          I think the best way is short, sweet, and consistent..ie, you are neither overly friendly nor overly cold. Just all business. You politely say “I’d rather stay here and eat lunch.”; repeat as necessary. She goes on and on about Zoomy Car and Cavernous House?…smile warmly (throw in a “How nice.” if you’d like), and engage in that topic no more.

          From your description, she sounds like she sucks the oxygen outta the room, and I would be clashing too. Try to do you best to get the point across that you will not be engaging at that level. Good luck.

          1. weasel007

            I really think the OP should say as kindly as possible that they are not comfortable with the constant “go to my house” all the time thing. That is weird. I’d have to think about how to say it, but if my co worker kept asking me that, I’d be liable to yell “STOP ASKING ME TO GO TO YOUR HOUSE. IT IS CREEPY”.

        2. Chriama

          I like that explanation. What I’ve done before (not dealing with a person, but a situation) is sit down and write out all my grievances (you did a good job here). Then think about what I’d like to change about each situation (e.g. stop asking me to go out for lunch). Then decide if the risk of speaking up about this situation is worth the reward. 4th step (since you have such a long list) is to figure out if you’re going to raise all these issues at once or spread out. It might be you spend a month telling her you can’t go out for lunch, then move on to the headphone issue. Once a grievance has passed it’s ‘action period’, then you have a default statement for dealing with it (e.g. the lunch issue, have a standard phrase like ‘still brown bagging it’ that you just use for ever and ever).

          1. kozinskey

            This is great advice. On the headphone/talking to your cube issue, I think you could say something like “Stacy, could you please talk to me about stuff like this over email? I use headphones to help myself focus and it’s distracting for me to carry on conversations over the cube wall.”

        3. Keri

          I don’t have advice beyond what others here have said, but just wanted to say that I so, so sympathize with that feeling of being a total rage-ball by the time you leave because of the all day little things from a co-worker. The toothpick metaphor is right on. I am going through something similar now, and it’s exhausting. I hope things improve soon for you!

          1. Anon for this

            Likewise!!! Good luck. I think I’m generally one of the most easy-going people around, so it’s kind of weird to suddenly find myself honing my rage all day for this one person.

            1. catsAreCool

              I think a lot of this is very very annoying. I’d be upset too.

              And the using a word wrong constantly, that would really bug me too.

            2. C Average

              Maybe what you need is a voodoo doll of her that you can poke with toothpicks when you’re feeling ragey.

              (Kidding. Kind of.)

        4. Chuchundra

          Something you need to realize is that some people JUST CAN’T TAKE A HINT. The kind of polite, subtle signaling that you may be used to using to communicate with your friends or co-workers just doesn’t penetrate their consciousness.

          The solution is to be direct, which can be difficult for some people because it often codes as rudeness. But often there’s no other alternative.

          If they ramble off-topic during a work conversation, you have to stop them and get them back on point. If they keep inviting you out for lunch, just tell them no. Being passive about it by bringing your lunch as an excuse to get out of it just encourages them to keep pursuing it because THEY CAN’T TAKE A HINT.

          I used to have this co-worker who would ramble on about non-work stuff all the time and I’d have to sit through his thoughts on movies and TV shows before we could get to the work-related stuff. I eventually had to come down fairly hard and insist that he give me the work info.

          1. Cath in Canada

            Truth!

            I once went on an awful date with this guy who talked endlessly about himself and whose super annoying friends “just happened” to be in the same bar as us (I’m 99% sure this was not a coincidence). I was astonished when he called me a couple of days later to plan a second date, because I hadn’t given him any encouragement whatsoever. The first time he asked I said I was busy; the second, I said I was really busy; the third time, I said “this isn’t going to happen”. He didn’t take a hint and just kept asking! It was unbelievable! I escalated to “I did not enjoy our date and don’t want to go on another one”, then “stop asking, I’m not going to go out with you again”, and ultimately just hung up.

            He called straight back, but I ignored it and instructed my roommates to tell him I’d moved out if he ever called the apartment again.

            1. cuppa

              I had a similar experience. We had one bad date, he thought I was now his girlfriend. I saw him at a mutual friend’s party that I could not get out of, and he said “Boy, if we ever get married….” and I stopped him right there and said, “NO! We are NEVER getting married! Don’t even think that because it’s not going to happen!”
              He finally took the hint and I never heard from him again.

        5. Lizzie

          #1 and #2 sound like they do have the potential to impact actual work, so if you’re going to address anything head-on, make it those two. If I were in your shoes, I wouldn’t address the “talking about material possessions” head on, mostly because I can’t really think of a way to do that without it coming out bluntly sounding like “You are materialistic and I’m annoyed by it” (but that could be a failure of diplomacy skills on my part), and I would only address the lunch invitations as they come up. (She has to learn eventually on that one, right?)

          The constant inviting to her house is…strange. Not even inappropriate or creepy, precisely, it’s just…strange. Just continue to decline, decline, decline!

          FWIW, over a decade ago I probably could have written a list this in-depth about the tiny things my now-best friend did that annoyed me this much, so there’s hope to turn it around, I guess?

        6. catsAreCool

          I don’t think you’re overreacting.

          Is there anyone who does get along well with her? Maybe you can use them as an example of how to get info out of her.

          When she talks to you through the cube wall, can you ignore her? Maybe if you ignore her unless she comes over to talk to you or sends an IM or e-mail or calls, she might eventually get it.

          For the lunch thing, I might say each time “I can’t afford it.” I know you already said that, but maybe she doesn’t listen the first several times.

          For the work at her house idea, maybe you could just say “I’m more comfortable working here, thanks.”

          1. Ruffingit

            Like this advice, but I wouldn’t go with the “I can’t afford it” excuse about lunch because this woman sounds like someone who would say “Oh no problem, it’s my treat!” I think just saying “Thanks, but I’m eating here” is the better way to go.

    2. Katie the Fed

      Wow.

      Well, to be charitable, she sounds really lonely and insecure. People who talk about their possessions that much are generally pretty insecure, and the rest of it just sounds like poor social skills.

      You might just have to be really blunt. I posted once how I realized I was being the annoying coworker when I kept suggesting to a friend/colleague that she should try to date someone, or set her up, until she finally pulled me aside and said “you know I like you a lot and I know you mean well, but I really need you to stop doing that. It makes me uncomfortable and I’m not interested in dating.”

      So you might need to do that with her, because hints aren’t working. “I really appreciate the invitation, but I really don’t want to go to your house/eat lunch out/be worn as a skin suit/etc.” and if she keeps doing it “I’ve asked you to please stop asking me about wearing me as a skin suit. Thanks”

      1. HigherEd Admin

        $100 to anyone who figures out a way to incorporate “I’ve asked you to please stop asking me about wearing me as a skin suit.” into their conversation today.

      2. Jill-be-Nimble

        “’I’ve asked you to please stop asking me about wearing me as a skin suit. Thanks’”

        So much coffee on my screen right now.

        1. Nervous accountant

          Is the skin suit a reference to something in pop culture? Bc I googled and just found some religious posts about swimwear.

            1. Ruffingit

              And a reference to Ed Gein in case anyone knows who he is. Serial killer who did the skin suit thing. I believe the Silence of the Lambs story took the skin suit deal from the Ed Gein story, which by the way you should not read about that if you’ve just eaten.

      3. HeyNonnyNonny

        “I really appreciate the invitation, but I really don’t want to go to your house/eat lunch out/be worn as a skin suit/etc.”

        Yeah, #4 sounds like the setup to a strange thriller/horror movie. Does she keep trophies of past coworkers? I think you need to go to her house, just once, to find out what’s so compelling there!

        Bring some mace, though.

          1. Liane

            It’s an actual horrible, creepy crime that strongly influenced several famous thrillers & fictional criminals (e.g., the movie Psycho & novelist Thomas Hardy’s Buffalo Bill)

      4. GigglyPuff

        I think Anon for this, just needs to worry if she pulls out some lotion and asks if they want any.

        “It rubs the lotion on its skin, or else it gets the hose again”

        1. catsAreCool

          Yeah, don’t go. Best case, maybe you get to know her better and feel more friendly towards her (but unlikely, she sounds like a pain). Worse case could be pretty awful.

      5. Mister Pickle

        The house thing is odd, but I’ve known 3 people over the past years who have had a similar fixation about wanting me to see their house. I don’t think it was any kind of sex thing. It seemed like a blend of motivations: insecurity (I need to always be showing you what a great person I am), plus showing off (don’t you wish your house was this nice?), plus an oddly pathetic “I want you to see the real me” along with a desire to literally bring you into her comfort zone, and as part of that, to try to show you that she accepts you, and you’re one of the few who is allowed to see her house. And, possibly, it’s an overt move to get you to tell all of your co-workers about what a cool house she has.

        Not sure that this helps, but that is what I read from the experience when it happened to me.

        (Although the one time, it was an older guy who kept wanting me and a female mutual acquaintance to meet at his house out in the middle of nowhere, and he made it a point that we knew he had a nice swimming pool and hot tub so we should be sure to bring our swimsuits “unless [you] don’t want to!”)

        1. JB

          I agree. When people keep insisting on inviting me over non-stop, it’s usually a combination of these factors. That doesn’t make it ok, but understanding the reason can help dealing with it. I don’t want to cross that boundary into socializing with everyone, but some people don’t get it. See also: people who are always inviting themselves to your house.

        2. Mallory Janis Ian

          I was thinking a combination of all the above motivations, too; especially the part about being called upon to testify to coworkers about the coolness of the house. I bet $100 that if Anon for this went over there, the coworker would manage to work that into work conversations all the time, and the theme would be, “Look everyone, I have coworker who’s a close enough friend to go to my beautiful house on the lake”, and, “Anon for this thinks my beautiful house on the lake is really cool — don’t you Anon?”

        3. Melissa

          My thoughts exactly! I bet if Anon went over to her house she would be immediately treated to an extended Grand Tour with a catalog of her expensive knick-knacks and decorations. Especially given her description of the person, it sounds like a mixture of wanting to be friendly and wanting to show off her possessions.

    3. Kasia

      It’s really strange (and depending on your office culture) wildly inappropriate to go home in the middle of a work day just to work from home, not to mention going to someone else’s house. If anything, I would focus on that part first. You probably need to be pretty stern with her so she will get the point….”Jane, I like to keep my work relationships professional and not overlap in my personal life so I don’t feel comfortable going to your house, especially during work hours”. or “Jane, I really value my lunch hour and like to spend it alone, if you don’t mind”.

      Shes clearly not getting that declining over and over again means no. She has some serious social issues and is just plain weird. Be direct and maybe borderline rude if you have to be.

      1. Katie the Fed

        the more I think about this, the more I wonder if she’s hitting on the OP? I mean, if this were a man doing this we’d be all “OMG CREEPY McCREEPSTER” – it’s not outside the realm of possibility she’s looking for a little afternoon delight…

        1. Anon for this

          Ha! If only! I’d know how to shut that down. But there’s basically zero chance of that. It’s more like “be my friiiiiennnd” than “heeeeeey, ladyo!” And what makes that so weird is that I am working overtime to treat her no differently than any of my other coworkers. I’m work-style-friendly enough that nobody would be able to say I’m being cold or Unfriendly, but I’m definitely not giving off any “looking for a new BFF” vibes.

          1. Katie the Fed

            I had someone like this with me. She was very clingy and kind of did this to several people at different times. I would log in my computer in the morning and she’d pop up immediately on messenger like “Hi!!! How’s your day going!” and I would just say “just got here – busy morning” or so on. I just consistently blew her off and she moved on to others.

            1. Anon for this

              YES – she does almost the same thing except in person. I try to stay completely silent on my side of the cube wall in the mornings because as soon as she hears a key-click, she comes over to tell me something of vital importance, that takes twenty minutes, and that I never fully understand.

              1. Jazzy Red

                Does she do these things with everyone? Or just you? (I haven’t read all 192 replies to your post, so if you answered this somewhere downstream, just ignore me.)

                Maybe you SHOULD talk to your coworkers and find out if she did all this with them, and if they shot her down (and find out how!). I wouldn’t go into detail about everything, but perhaps asking one or two people if they’ve noticed how attention-needed she is, and see what they say.

                I do know how the annoyance factor grows exponentially when you just don’t like someone. I was laid off from my job last October, and one of the first things I thought was “Thank God, I don’t have to deal Arthur any more!” A lot of these little things grow into something that turns you into the Hulk (internally).

        2. GigglyPuff

          HA! That’s what I was going to say up-thread. All the home invitations sound the bad start to a porno.

        3. SallyForth

          I think she’s looking for a partner in crime so if the OP speaks up about a lack of hours in the office or the coworker going home in the afternoon, it can be brought up that OP was with her.

      2. C Average

        I’ve gotta throw in a slightly contrarian point of view here.

        In the line of work that I do (mainly tech-oriented copywriting for my company’s website) there are days when really sharp focus is required, and from time to time I work from home when I need to have that kind of focus. Sometimes it’s so I can read my own content aloud without disturbing anyone or looking like a crazy person. Sometimes in order to produce, home is the creative atmosphere I need. My teammates also do this as needed. Our manager has no problem with it; she does it, too. A few times, colleagues have worked part of the day at my house with me because it’s close to the office, the balcony is a very pleasant place to work on nice days, and they find it a good creative atmosphere.

        I’m just throwing this out there to prove that at least one non-serial-killer occasionally works from home just because, and occasionally is joined by colleagues there.

      1. Anon for this

        You’re not! I laugh too, reading it laid out like that! But it is really just so weird and outside of my work experience that I just flail at how to deal.

        1. GigglyPuff

          Is there anyway you could move desks? Maybe blame it on something like temperature or computer reflection. It might just be your easy proximity for her when she wants to take a break from her work.

          Or you could just say “Look, I think you’re really nice, but I just don’t swing that way” when she invites you to her house again. Might make her mortified enough to back off.

          1. Anon for this

            LOL – I love it. I could never do that, because I would vanish in a burning puff of mortification, but I LOVE it.

            Sadly, my awesome manager actually put us right next to each other because of how closely we work together. I’m sort of noodling at a possible way to get us further apart by asking for an ADA accommodation (I’m moderately disabled) – a different type of desk would be really good for me, and it would necessarily have to be in a different spot. But I just found out that kind of accommodation is available and possible last week, and I have to figure out if some of the potential downsides would be worth the upside – more comfort, and less coworker!

            1. Kyrielle

              I hate to say it, but – where the accommodation would have to be, could they also place a desk for her? Because if so, you might get it, but also get her a desk move…. If your manager think it’s just so convenient to have you side-by-side. (Unless you explicitly mention it, but it sounds like you really want to avoid bringing your manager in to the personality conflict part, which I think makes sense…but it may make the desk move trick less effective, if there’s a way to also move her desk.)

            2. jen

              I had this type of situation with a coworker who would talk through the wall (in addition to a thousand other annoying things. Including not taking her meds for an overactive thyroid- so she didn’t sleep, didn’t eat, did everything at the last minute. ..). I decided to move from my office ( that came with a promotion) back out to a drafting table in the open floor plan office. I was hesitant because I was such a new manager and younger than everyone and giving up the physical evidence of my promotion. Its been about 6 months and im so glad I did it. I can actually talk to and work with the annoying coworker without boiling up. She stops by my desk once every day or two to say random things, which I can enjoy now. There are different problems and distractions at my new desk but overall im more productive and less frustrated. And I can still easily work with her when I need to. We just have to leave our desks to talk to each other.

      2. Elizabeth West

        Nope, I laughed too, especially at She’s working so hard to get me into her house that I’m half convinced I’d end up dead in a closet there if I ever agreed to go.

      3. Mallory Janis Ian

        The part that made me spit out my coffee was, ” . . . she has a very favorite word to use and uses it several times a day, and that word does not mean what she thinks it means”, because it drives me up a wall when people do that. My mother-in-law uses “non-pulsed” all the time. She means nonplussed, but she uses it to mean that she is completely unimpressed with something (I guess she thinks non-pulsed is a hyperbolic statement that one is so bored they have no pulse). Anyway, now my husband and I use use the word jokingly in the same way.

    4. Colette

      It sounds like you’ve tried being direct but when she ignores what you’re saying, you’ve started making excuses (i.e. “I brought my lunch”). Have you tried saying directly “I can only go out for lunch once every couple of weeks.” and then saying repeating it every time she asks you more frequently?

      You may need to get more assertive. “Hey, let’s go for lunch!” “No, sorry.”

      In the same vein, you may need to be more assertive when she’s going off on a tangent. “Coworker, I need to know X, Y, and Z. Are you able to provide that information?”

      And if you can’t hear her when she talks at you through the wall, don’t answer. (Don’t say you can’t hear her, just ignore the sound altogether.)

      I think you’re letting polite get in the way of what you need – and while I don’t think you should be rude, I don’t think you have to maintain the level of politeness that you’re going for here.

      1. Anon for this

        I think you’ve hit it – I was raised in the South and in the part of that culture that would rather hit you than hurt your feelings. :) It’s something I’ve struggled with through my entire career – my instinct to not interrupt has made meetings a misery, for instance. It crops up in weird places, and I usually can break through it, but there’s always a period of extreme discomfort when I’m just starting the process.

        1. Colette

          It’s uncomfortable for most people, so you’re not alone there. It might help to remember that although you need & want different things than your coworker does, they’re equally important.

          In other words, it’s not about always getting what you want or always doing what your coworker wants – it’s about hitting a balance.

        2. Melissa

          I was raised the same way, and what really helps me is reminding myself that it’s going to feel a bit uncomfortable but that’s okay – that the discomfort will be temporary and I need to push through it to get what I want. I consciously think that to myself before doing something that will make me uncomfortable. It actually helps, because I’m prepared for the feelings.

        1. Colette

          It sounds like she does want to go based on this “My team is really invested in everyone being warm and friendly and getting along, so I try to say yes occasionally, but it’s just way too much” – not so much because she likes the coworker, but because she wants to stay in line with the team culture. That’s totally valid – but she should set limits about how often she’s willing to do that.

          But if she doesn’t want to go, she needs to be clear about that as well.

          1. Judy

            At my last job, for a long time, I went out to lunch nearly every day. I was noticing it was unsustainable, because of my weight gain rather than because of my finances. I just one day said to the guys that I had been going out with, “Hey, I’ve really got to cut back and bring my lunch to eat more healthy foods. I’m only going to be able to go out to lunch once a week. What day seems best?” We decided Thursdays were best. About 2 years later another of the guys was buying a new house, and made the same decision to help with finances.

            The difference there was very clearly, I’d love to have lunch with them daily, but it was a struggle to get food to meet my dietary goals while eating out every day.

          1. Colette

            That’s exactly why AnonForThis shouldn’t say she can’t afford to go out more than X times a month – just that she can’t. An excuse is something to solve or argue with – simply saying “I can only do X” doesn’t leave much room for discussion.

      2. Jazzy Red

        ~~In the same vein, you may need to be more assertive when she’s going off on a tangent. “Coworker, I need to know X, Y, and Z. Are you able to provide that information?”~~

        I had that problem with someone, too, and did what you suggest. It really helps. Sometimes I would make sure to ask “yes” and “no” questions, and when she started off on a tangent, I would say that all I need right now is a “yes” or “no”.

        I think that a lot of people who have trouble staying focused do not take offense when you say something like that. Once I found this tactic and started using it, it was very effective.

    5. fposte

      Yeah, it can be hard to work with somebody who’s style is really different from yours. As you probably realize, a lot of this isn’t about changing her but you letting go of your irritation at her style. Of the things you mention, the only thing that I think might really be worth working to change on her end is the email rather than face to face, so I’d think about finding a carrot for her in there somehow.

      Ultimately, though, this is a person who gets a reward from human interaction and having people around her. I’m not that, and it sounds like maybe you’re not either–if the worst thing is that she’s asking you over to her house, maybe that’s about you feeling invaded by a different style and unable to control the levels of intimacy and interaction. But it doesn’t make her wrong, and I think your best bet is to find ways to control your interaction without relying on her being different than who she is. Maybe you could have an official one lunch a month policy, for instance, that can take the heat and also provide her with a known interaction point.

    6. nep

      How is she with other coworkers? And — related to what the other commenter said — is she lonely / insecure?

      1. Anon for this

        She has lots of family in the area that she spends time with, and she seems to know a lot of people in our Teapot Industry Area. I don’t know if she has a BFF, though. She mostly talks about her husband.

        1. Anonsie

          I wonder if she’s really used to being only around people that she’s close with, and she has a hard time setting less family-level boundaries.

      2. Anon for this

        It’s a weird thing with other coworkers. We’re sort of isolated off by ourselves, and only interact with the team in meetings. Her meeting style and her conversational style are almost identical, though, and I can’t imagine that’s winning her any praise.

    7. ZSD

      This person is very strange. Who asks employees over to their house?

      Also, I’m dying to know what the word she uses incorrectly is.

        1. Anon for this

          I REALLY want to tell you, but I’m sort of terrified that she might read this and recognize herself if I give details. (I have no idea if she reads AAM, but she could!)

          Here’s a very similar example though. It’s on the order of thinking “convinced” means “confused.” She’ll say, “Pam’s written instructions for this made no sense at all! I was completely convinced!”

          1. Ask a Manager Post author

            I once worked with a guy who thought “to broach” meant “to shut down a topic” (the exact opposite of what it means). He’d say stuff like, “He tried to talk to me about a skin suit, but I broached the whole topic.”

            1. anon for this, too

              I used to do this as a teenager with pronunciations. I was shocked when I heard, for the first time, someone actually SAY “epitome”.

                1. JB

                  @knitcrazybooknut In my family, we pronounce it that way on purpose. For some reason we like to intentionally mispronounce certain words. The problem is when you get used to saying it that way and then out of habit do it in front of non-family.

                2. Cherry Scary

                  I did a project on Diabetes in elementary school, and was convinced it was pronounced Die-bets. I guess this is what happens when you learn words through reading instead of conversation (which I guess is not such a bad thing)

                3. Mittens

                  I’m not a native speaker, so when I was 12 and gave a presentation on Amnesty International, I pronounced it as Am-NAS-ty. :(

              1. Natalie

                For years I perceived misled (written down) as the past tense of a verb, misle. What’s weird is that I knew the spoken word, and I correctly understood the context, I just didn’t make the connection.

                1. long time reader first time poster

                  There is an Encyclopedia Brown mystery that hinges on this very point. I read it in like 4th grade and have never forgotten it.

                2. Elizabeth West

                  There is actually a joke about that word in a kid’s book I have but I can’t remember which one (I have a whole bookshelf full of them). The kid was asking what “mizzled” meant, “See, it says here, ‘then the princess was mizzled (misled)’.” I imagine the author knew someone who did that, or maybe it was him/her!

                3. Aunt Vixen

                  The Ramona Quimby mispronunciation I always remember is when she didn’t understand the words to the national anthem and back-formed meanings for what she assumed the words actually were. So at home when it’s a little too dark for her mom to see what she’s reading, Ramona says “Why don’t you turn on the dawnzer?” (The what?) “The dawnzer. It gives a lee light. We sing about it every morning in school.”

                  <3 <3 <3

                  The number of kids who must say the pledge of allegiance for years before they know what the words actually are and mean has got to be astonishing, based on the weird rhythms of that thing. Where's the Republic Forwitchestan?

                4. Melissa

                  I love Ramona Quimby books, and I really loved that example (the dawnzer) because I was a child with a similar problem. I read proficiently but had few friends my age to talk to. So I knew a LOT of words I learned from books and what they meant – but not how they were pronounced. I would use them in the right context but pronounce them wrong all the time. LOL.

              2. Liane

                There’s a lot of words over the years that I’ve mispronounced because I had only ever seen them in print–and I was not taught reading using the phonics method because it wasn’t an In Teaching Method when & where I attended first grade.
                When we moved to Little Rock, I was smart enough to ask my husband or in-laws how to pronounce certain street/town/place names (some Native American, French & even pseudo-French) before I tried using them in public. It was a good thing because I never guessed right.

                1. Ezri

                  I did this too! When I was a kid I learned most of my vocabulary from books, and although I understood the context I’d have no idea how to pronounce them. Then my parents had to figure out what I was trying to say and tell me the correct pronunciation; this was funniest (in hindsight) when I uncovered inappropriate words.

                2. Anon for this

                  When I was a kid we moved to Louisiana, which has parishes instead of counties. We passed a sign on the way and I said to my dad, “What does Assumption Fffff” mean?” the sign said “Assumption Ph” and I pronounced it like a long ffffff sound. He laughed like a lunatic.

                  My father is in his 80’s now. He doesn’t remember much, but he’s never forgotten THAT.

                3. spocklady

                  Aww man those can be tough. I’m from the Detroit area, and a complication is that in Michigan generally we have a lot of names for places from other languages that we. say. wrong. Hearing people here say the street name “Goethe,” for example, makes me shiver a little bit. We also have a town out here called Milan and we apparently pronounce it “MY-lin”. Yikes.
                  So even if you knew the “right” way to say those, you could still be wrong by local reckoning!

                4. Elizabeth West

                  I don’t know what I’m going to do if I ever move to the UK. There are so many names that aren’t pronounced as they look and I’m not even talking about Welsh. I’ll have to make a list and keep it handy. In fact, I should do that anyway, for traveling.

                  Also, there is a place in Arkansas called “Toad Suck.” It’s a mispronunciation of something French. Can you imagine if you were going there on business? :)

                5. Mephyle

                  …ask my husband or in-laws how to pronounce certain street/town/place names (some Native American, French & even pseudo-French) before I tried using them in public.
                  In fact, someone who knows phonics, and/or French would never guess how locals pronounce many place names!
                  Imagine trying to guess how to pronounce “Arkansas” if you had never heard it, but you knew how to pronounce “Kansas”; or “Detroit” if you knew French but not American place names.
                  What Spanish speaker could imagine how Americans pronounce, for example, “Los Angeles”? Quite different from the ‘correct’ Spanish pronunciation.
                  There are many more examples.
                  It doesn’t even have to be a name of foreign origins; when I first moved to Nepean (Canada), I carefully avoided saying the name of my new city out loud until I had heard several locals pronounce it. And Nepean is an English name, originating in Cornwall!

              3. Elizabeth West

                I do it too, because I read so much and I know how to spell a word, and what it means, but pronouncing it is something else again. As a kid, I used to think succumb was pronounced “Soo CYOOM.” Nope. >_<

                Thank goodness for online dictionaries with audible pronunciation!

                1. Manda

                  The b is subtle. ;)

                  And omg, I actually saw a place mat once that had pictures of mugs and coffee-related words all over it – it said “expresso.” o_O

                2. Melissa

                  cuppa, you might be my mom, lol. My dad also says “supposably,” along with a whole host of other mispronunciations.

              4. Felicia

                I was older than a teenager when I learned how to pronounce epitome.

                I read (of course I did) that people who read a lot have great vocabularies but don’t know how to pronounce a lot of words because they’ve only read them and never heard them. I think that’s true for me.

            2. Cath in Canada

              I have good friend who used to think tedious meant tenuous – you’d say something and she’d reply “well that’s a very tedious link”! The funniest part was that she refused to believe she was wrong, even after we made her look it up in the dictionary.

              Another friend once pronounced hyperbole as hyper-bowl in front of her entire 200 person class, and was never allowed to live it down.

              1. Jillociraptor

                Definitely pronounced “segue” as “seg-gyoo” in a philosophy class as a freshman. I still cringe thinking about it sometimes.

                1. Natalie

                  I only recently learned that “segue” had two syllables. I though it was pronounced just as “seg”, because so many people shorten it.

                2. Treena Kravm

                  A client kept using the word “Vee-hemen-tly” the other day and it took me a couple of times to figure out what she was saying!

              2. ECH

                I attended a program where high school students were listening to a speaker who was president of an area college. At the end they were asking questions and one kid asked about what should go on his resume (but pronounced it re-ZOOM)!

            3. JB

              My sister had a manager once who said of some people they were working on a deal with, “We’ll quote them a price, and if they genuflect, we’ll negotiate.” It was really hard for her to not tell him, “I don’t think it means what you think it means.”

              He was that with a lot of words, though. He liked to use big words but he didn’t know what they meant most of the time.

                1. JB

                  That’s what we *think* he meant from the context. But she was very confused right at first, and she was never 100% positive about what he meant.

              1. MJ (Aotearoa/New Zealand)

                Well, if the genuflect it might be a sign that they set the price way, way too low!

                1. JB

                  She really wanted to say something very like that to him. But she was pretty sure he wouldn’t get it.

                  I would feel bad for making fun of him, but he was someone who said that women didn’t do anything heroic or noteworthy in the U.S. before 1918 because that’s when they got the right to vote. Because if you can’t vote, you don’t contribute in any way, apparently!

                  So he was a winner.

          2. ZSD

            I understand the concern, but I suspect she’d already recognize herself from the invitations to go to her house. At least, I assume she’s the only manager on the planet doing that.

            1. nep

              This was my thought too — Reckon not a heck of a lot of people fit the description we’ve already got.

            1. Nobody

              You know what’s almost as annoying? People who use it correctly but unnecessarily, when there is no reason anyone would think they don’t mean something literally. I have a coworker who says things like this all day long:
              “I literally stapled the cover sheet to the TPS report.”
              “If you want to print something, you can literally just press control-P.”
              “The handle literally goes on the opposite side from the spout.”
              “We literally ran out of teapot lids. I literally had to go to the warehouse to get some more.”

      1. C.M.

        I saw the word “discotheque” in an Archie comics when I was young. I read it as (wait for it) dis-clothe-you. I was scandalized wondering why Archie and the gang were going somewhere to take their clothes off together.

    8. KJR

      I could have written much of this (except for the going to her house for lunch bit). I have a similar type of co-worker, so I really get where you’re coming from! Luckily, she and I only work together occasionally. But I have to grit my teeth through most of it. I don’t really have any awesome advice for you though, unfortunately. I have come to accept the fact that this person, as well meaning as she is, will probably always grate on me to some extent. I think your best bet is to train yourself to just let most of it roll off your back. When my co-worker makes comments about her numerous material possessions, I just smile widely and say “that’s great!” and move on to something else. The only thing I read that I have any advice about would be to ignore her when she talks through the cube (i.e. pretend not to hear her.) Maybe she will get the hint. Good luck!!!

    9. Observer

      I’m not sure why most of these things should be impacting your work. 3, 3 and 4 are just things you need to deal with. Yeah, she really should back off, and I would be ticked off as well. But still. You just need to keep saying no.

      On the talking through the wall thing – Why can’t YOU pick up a phone. When she starts, just pick up the phone and say “I can’t hear through the wall. What’s up?” (Or whatever your go to phrase is. Just use something that doesn’t sound like “Why are you bothering me?”)

      The communications thing IS a problem. I’m sure others will have others opinions, but it seems to me that you need to be more persistent in going after the information you need, and if necessary finding a way to cut her of when she’s on a tangent, and redirecting.

      1. Anon for this

        The only part that actually impacts my work is her inability to communicate. Part of our job is to gather information about Teapot design projects around the country and then communicate what we learn to other team members. She insists on only verbal communication, and I honestly can’t follow the thread long enough to get to the actual information – if it’s even there.

        My SO thinks she actually doesn’t know anything and refuses to commit to it in writing because then she could be held accountable for it. Regardless, I often end up having to research on my own to find out what she was meant to learn and communicate to me.

        The rest of it is totally peripheral annoyances!

        1. spocklady

          Oh man I have one of those too – sometimes the coworker in question won’t even verbally commit, I suspect for the same reason. It drives me so crazy! This person also (helpfully) withholds information. Talking with them is often like trying to nail jell-o to the wall. I wish I had some advice for you, but I’m sending lots of commiseration!

        2. holly

          could you begin repeating back to her what you think are the relevant parts she is saying? it might be a short summary if she’s talking about so much extraneous stuff, but maybe it will help her see how much she isn’t talking about work?

          1. Anon for this

            Oh, I’ve tried. It makes her change her mind. For instance, if after a few minutes I think I understand, and I repeat it back like, “Okay, so I’ll be working on X and Y, and you’ll be working on Z?”

            Then she will say, “Well… now that you mention it maybe not! Maybe we could do it like Mary – wait did I tell you I had a meeting with Mary last week? We went to that little restaurant down on Main Street, the new one with the big red chili pepper on the sign. Sarah recommended it and I thought it would be a great place to just hang out in the afternoon and talk about — but that’s neither here nor there, I guess. Hey, are you in the Broken Teapots meeting at three o’clock? Do you know what that’s about?”

            And then I shoot myself in the head.

        3. catsAreCool

          It sounds to me like she isn’t doing her job. Maybe she can’t communicate well because she has nothing to say and didn’t do her work.

      2. Was Layla

        Yup I also suggest taking back some control into your interactions

        For the lunch situation – seems like the invitations are to a group of coworkers including you – could you occasionally suggest somewhere you would like to eat out ( cheap)?

    10. C Average

      File this one under “this worked, but isn’t something others should emulate.”

      I have a manager and colleague who are close to each other and seem to want to be close to the rest of the team in a way that feels much too chummy to me. My manager used to have really different boundaries from me: she wanted to do stuff outside of work, she overshared and asked nosy questions, she acted like we were besties when I’m really not in the market for a bestie, especially when she happens to be my manager. When she was first hired, she sent me a Facebook friend request and was really pushy about me accepting it. Once I did, she made more comments and was way more up in my business than I was comfortable with.

      In a moment of frustration on one of my days off, I created a Facebook group labeled “Friends I don’t actually like” and placed my manager and the colleague in it. I didn’t realize IT WAS VISIBLE TO THEM. My manager called me to tell me. I deactivated it and my account at once. But that bell couldn’t be un-rung. We had a very uncomfortable meeting the next day, apologies were issued, and many very quiet and awkward days in the office followed.

      That was about three months ago. We’ve all gotten past it to the extent that we’re friendly to one another and, I think, genuinely respect and work effectively together. (I’ve done everything I can to be professional and respectful since then and to give sincere praise where it’s due.) They know I want to move on and am making an effort to get another job, and I’m trying to do the best job I can while I’m here. But boy do they ever respect my boundaries! I have received exactly zero unwanted invites, overshares, or nosy questions since this all happened. Our conversations are pretty much all work all the time. Which is actually pretty great with me.

      1. Anon for this

        Oh my god. That’s so horrible, and also hilarious, I’m so sorry.

        It sounds like you dealt with it really well though – 10 out of 10 for sticking the landing. :)

      2. Lindsay J

        Oh God, I could see myself doing something like this. I made a folder in my old work mailbox called “Stuff I’m not going to read.”

      3. Kyrielle

        *wince* I had a similar experience, except luckily, I was only trying to sequester anyone work-related and gave it a very neutral name. FB *groups* are things people are members of and thus can see, FB *lists* are lists you create of other members and they can’t see, and you can filter by them.

        And that right there is a terrible interface, IMO, and they need to make it way more obvious before you’ve jumped down that hole….

    11. soitgoes

      She sounds like she’s been praised for being bubbly and energetic in the past and has let it become the leading aspect of her personality at work. Kind of like how people think that being “brutally honest” is something to be proud of. I’m with you though – few things frustrate me more than people who talk and talk but never “get to the punchline.” And the house thing is weird. If she’s ever mentioned having pets (and I’m sure she has) just say you’re allergic.

      1. Dmented Kitty

        Gaah! I’m like that — I’d like a straightforward approach. I don’t IM people at work for small talk. I only do so when I need something, so I typically IM them this way, “Hi [name] — can you get me this and this when you have time? Thank you.”

        But a lot of them IM me like this:
        “Hi”
        (pause for my reply)
        “How are you?”
        (pause for my reply)
        “Is it cold out there right now? It certainly is here.”
        (pause for my reply)
        … …

        Makes me want to tear my hair off. Sometimes I just don’t reply until they are forced to ask the question straight out. I like IM requests curt and straight to the point — if you want small talk, you can do it after you’ve requested whatever you need. :/

        1. Anon for this

          SISTER.

          I just want to know the ask, and then I want to fulfill the ask. I don’t need to know the forty thousand small details that compel you to ask. I don’t need to know why you decided to ask m. I don’t need to know how the ask is kind of like something you asked somebody else for last week, or what that somebody else said in response, or how you felt about it. JUST ASK OKAY?

          I may be a little over sensitized to this issue at the moment. :)

        2. Colette

          Oh, yes. I’ve learned to be pushier about getting to the point.
          “Hi”
          (pause for my reply)
          “How are you?”
          Response: “Good, you? What’s up?”

          1. Dmented Kitty

            I just reply on the first “Hi” — “Yes/Hi, what’s up?” — it may be a little bit more curt than others are comfortable with, but I think it’s better than “Yah, whaddayawant?” which I’m really tempted to say to those who I’ve known to really drag the conversation around before getting to the point.

            I agree on some of the reasons here — that it may be cultural, or just the type of previous work environment they’re used to. Some of them actually have learned that I respond better to more direct questions, than skirting around it.

            1. Colette

              I actually usually get “Hi, how are you?” in one message, so I’m not allowing lots of actual chit-chat. I do try to accommodate my teammates need for niceties a little, while still encouraging them to get to the point. (That may not be relevant or necessary in other environments.)

          1. Mephyle

            Yes indeed. In fact, all interactions are like this. Living in one of these cultures, one eventually learns that getting to business and not ‘wasting’ time on pleasantries is incredibly rude. When we act normally (what seems normal and not time-wasting to us) we are transgressing cultural norms.

        3. C Average

          I wonder how many of those aggressively friendly people are from a retail, hospitality, or customer service background? Having spent a few years in such environments, I’ve found it really, really hard to break the habit of being friendly in a small-talky kind of way in these kinds of interactions. I know it’s ridiculous, but it’s really hard to stop when you’ve had it drilled relentlessly into you that you must greet the person who needs your help, establish rapport, close by thanking them and making sure they have everything they need, etc.

          It’s not because I have any innate need to connect with them in this way; conversations just feel incomplete without these elements.

        4. EA

          I tend to be a pretty “to the point” person, but I’ve received some feedback that I can come across as “blunt” or “un-friendly” to my teammates, so I’m trying to work on that, and one of the ways I’m doing that is adding the “How are you” type greetings to my instant message conversations.

    12. JB

      There are people who knit and like WoW, so I’m not sure what you were saying there. BUT I don’t think you’re overreacting. Those little things add up to drive you insane. And I don’t have any good advice on most of your complaints.

      For 2: Don’t say “I can’t hear you.” Just do not respond, ever, no matter how loudly she does talk, unless she comes over to your cube. If she says “I was calling your name for 5 minutes!” Say, “Sorry, I didn’t hear you.” Just never respond to it.

      For 4: Come right out and say “That’s kind of you, but I’m not interested in visiting your house.” If she says “why not?” or anything but “ok,” just shrug, smile, and shake your head or say “No thank you.” If she brings it up again, say “I’ve said before I’m not interested, but thank you.” If she brings it up again, say “I’ve already told you I’m not interested, and the fact that you keep trying is starting to make me uncomfortable.” And then let her flounder, don’t say anything else on the topic.

      For asking you out to expensive places, on the occasions you are willing to go to lunch, say “I’d love to go to lunch, but I need to make it some place more like X because I can’t afford where you want to go.” Then the next time she does, say “I can only ever go eat at X, Y, or Z. Those are the only places around here where I can afford to eat.” Or you could say “I can only eat at those types of places if you’re buying, and you should know that I won’t be able to afford to reciprocate in the future. This would just have to be a gift from you to me.” And if she says yes, then it’s annoying, but hey, free food.

      I think with her, you have to go past clear and into the category of blunt. From my past experience, if you are blunt but not rude with this type of person, they start to leave you alone, at least for a little while (sometimes this only gets you a temporary reprieve). They may like you less, but you stop wanting to stab them all the time.

      1. Anon for this

        Yeah, not the greatest example, you’re right, JB – actually because I knit, too! Well, intermittently. And not very well. (Ha – interMITTENtly.)

        What I was trying to say is, she’s completely non-technical in any way and very into her home. And I’m extremely (possibly unhealthily) into my electronics. :)

        I’ve tried your suggestions re: the lunch thing, plus one other – I’m moderately disabled and literally unable to get to some of the places she wants to go. I always make it unmistakably clear that I’m physically unable to walk far, but she can’t seem to remember this, and always wants to go somewhere blocks away. So I have to say it over and over again. Which — to be honest — gets a little wearing. The last thing I want to do is spend a lot of time at work talking about my physical limitations. Or anywhere else, really.

        In fact I think if I had to sum up the one thing about her that bothers me the most, it’s that lack of persistence of memory. No matter what I tell her to get her to back off, I end up having to say it again… and again… and again.

        1. fposte

          I think your option there is to truncate your turndowns. “Sorry, no can do.” Then if you do have a monthly something, you can turn to “Looking forward to lunch at Mobility-Friendly next week, though!”

        2. Celeste

          It would be all I could do not to channel Taylor Swift and burst into song: “We are NEVER, EVER, EVER, going to your house together.”

        3. JB

          Yeah, I think at this point, you’re going to have to be more blunt to the point of offending her. Not being offensive objectively-speaking, but she’ll see it as offensive. Like somebody upthread suggested, a comment along the lines of “I’ve already told you I can’t/don’t want/won’t do X, why do you keep asking me? It’s starting to feel rude.” Or something like that. Or look for a new job.

          I TOTALLY get you on it being wearing. My boss is like that. It’s exhausting.

          I have to say, though, from your WoW/into electronics, liking to knit, and your awesome craft-based pun abilities, I would be inviting you do stuff all the time, too, because you sound awesome. And you could hang out with my sister, who is slowly knitting me the ugliest scarf in the world, which I will wear with pride if she ever finishes it.

          1. Anon for this

            See, if we were working together we’d be golden! I don’t think my coworker would have any appreciation for my raiding skills or my puns. =D If you invited me to do stuff I’d probably just ask what sort of chips to bring!

      2. catsAreCool

        “I’ve already told you I’m not interested, and the fact that you keep trying is starting to make me uncomfortable.” This!

        1. Anon for this

          She definitely crochets AND knits. I knitted a scarf once but couldn’t figure out how to finish it. It’s like twenty feet long, and still sitting on my dresser with the needles in the yarn.

          1. Melissa

            I started to learn how to knit and I have a roll of cheap purple yarn with the knitting needles stuck in it still on my dresser. One has about three rows of knit stitches on it lmao.

            1. Mallory Janis Ian

              One of my friends taught me to crochet, and I enthusiastically began crocheting an afghan. My enthusiasm didn’t last long, though, and I ended up with a nice potholder.

            2. Deedee

              I started crocheting a baby blanket for my niece when my sister announced her pregnancy. It is still in my bottom dresser drawer about 5″ long with the crochet hook still stuck in the ball of yarn. My niece just got her drivers license and is a senior in high school…

      1. Windchime

        I just finished knitting an afghan and am working on knitting another. So yeah, it’s definitely a thing. Does it take forever? Oh hell, yeah.

    13. HR Manager

      Oh, Anon, I sympathize. This is like my magical salad co-worker. She gets her job done, so there is no professional complaint, but she tries too hard to engage me to be social with her and I’m really not interested. She’s recently taken to talking to me about her new cat, because I’m the crazy cat lady. When she complains about the cat doing something, and I suggest a solution that she doesn’t bother with and then keeps trying to talk to me about the cat doing these “weird things”.

      For example, the other day Her: “Cat keeps taking vet cone off” Me: You know you can tighten those things. It won’t hurt them as long as you’re careful. Her: “Oh really. Ok.” Next day: Her: She kept taking the cone off all night!” Me: Did you tighten it? Her: Uh..no.. *looks at me sheepishly* Me: *ignores and goes back to work*

      I don’t think there is a solution to this unfortunately. You just have to grin and bear it. If you have a mobile enough office, maybe you can take your laptop and work in the lunch room or a quiet area so you’re not always by her.

      1. Anon for this

        I’m glad I’m not the only one — or sorry that I’m not! I can’t be particularly mobile at work, we’re very much a desk-bound office, but I did get permission to work from home one day a week, and a tentative OK on working from home two days week starting after Christmas (dependent on how the one day thing goes.)

    14. Steve G

      As per #4….yeah it is weird she keeps asking, but I did work from someone’s home once, some rich lady on the upper east side in Manhattan…..yeah, she had her annoying/eccentric moments, but we were working most of the time. + it was cool to be sitting on the 20th floor with full city views……

    15. GigglyPuff

      Actually someone in my office, when he really needs to work/concentrate, he puts a sign on a chair and puts in blocking his cubicle entrance. It has a picture of Gandolf and says “you shall not pass”, then a note saying something along the lines of, sorry, but I’m really busy working right now, so please don’t talk to me.

        1. Anon for this

          I also work in an office that is very low in people who would get that. Sometimes in the office kitchen I see an Iron Man mug drying in the rack and I think, “Somewhere here is another of my people.” I’m considering staking it out to figure out who it is.

          1. Anonicorn

            “Somewhere here is another of my people.”

            I had a similar reaction when I learned one of my coworkers plays an MMO. I didn’t even ask which game; I was just so happy that someone else potentially understood the joy and pain of spending 16 straight hours grinding.

          2. Cherry Scary

            I have a sackboy and a portal turret sitting in my cube, and I’m just waiting for someone to notice/know what it is. That person will get major brownie points with.

            1. Pontoon Pirate

              I have a Portal turret in my office, pointed at the door. Sadly, I had to take the batteries out so it would stop threatening my boss when she walks in. Also, I have a lot of Totoro cards tacked to my corkboard. Nobody knows who he is. I HAVE NOT FOUND MY PEOPLE IN THIS PLACE.

      1. Elizabeth West

        That is awesome.

        I have a line drawing of the Gates of Moria pasted on my cube entrance wall that says “Speak Friend and Enter.” It’s supposed to keep people from sneaking up and scaring the ever-loving hell out of me when I have my headphones on, but there aren’t enough nerds on this floor for it to work very well!

    16. LOtheAdmin

      I don’t have much advice for this and this might sound mean, but I laughed my head off at your description
      of this woman. She sounds similar to someone I’ve worked with in the past.

      The way I am, if I don’t like someone, I was very minimal interaction with them. This woman sounds like the
      type I’d steer clear from.

      Why is she so fixated on getting you to her house? In all my years of full time work, I’ve been invited to someone’s house once, and she was ended up being a good friend.

    17. StudentA

      It’s possible she senses you really don’t like her, and this might be her way of showing you how likable and nice she is, since she seems naturally bubbly (like another poster mentioned). Some people, instead of backing off when someone else doesn’t like them, get all in your face to change your mind. She might be one of them.

      Is this a small company? Or a small team? Try spending your time with another colleague you actually do like, for socializing. That way you’re engaged when she asks you out for lunch, etc.

      Not really a whole lot you can do about bragging. She probably figures people who can’t afford certain things want to hear all about it :0
      It’s kinda funny actually. But I mean, you would someone ridiculous to ask her to stop bragging, or otherwise tell her you don’t want to hear about her vacations, etc.

      The last thing I want to mention, and I know this could be hard to hear, is I wonder if you are giving her mixed signals? Are you acting as if you like her company at times? She could be a bit confused. I am really lost about the asking you to her house part. Normally, people don’t keep inviting others to their homes, unless the invitee is a friend.

      1. C Average

        That’s a good insight about her sensing you don’t like her and trying harder, rather than backing off.

        In my professional life I’ve run across a few people who just flat-out didn’t like me. The initial rude shock of realization that someone doesn’t like you (especially when it’s someone you have to continue seeing regularly in your day-to-day life) makes your first reaction, “I’m totally likable! Look how likable I am. I’m going to be the bigger person and be so nice to you that you have to like me.”

        Which is, of course, totally misguided.

        A few years back a colleague shared with me an email another colleague had written about me. It was scathing. It made fun of my writing style, the way I dress, and some minor idiosyncrasies I wasn’t even aware I had. I’ve since had to attend meetings, exchange emails, and conduct various work business with the woman who wrote the email (and who knows I’ve read it). Part of me STILL wants her to like me. It’s pathetic.

    18. Mister Pickle

      I came on too late to be part of the interview process for her, but the other team members said the new Special Teapot Designer was great, and I would love her.

      This kind of thing is always a red flag for me. They say “oh, she’s great, you’ll love her” and I get the sense that it’s 50% they’re trying to convince themselves that she’s great plus 50% hoping that if they say it enough times, it will become true.

      1. Melissa

        …or it actually could mean that everyone else loves her and for some reason OP and she simply don’t click. At my last job I was on a team with two other people that and our supervisor. One person on the team couldn’t stand her, and one person was ambivalent about her, and I loved her. It wasn’t about her management style (which all three of us described as excellent); she just had personal quirks they didn’t like.

      1. Melissa

        LOL, I meant to comment that knitted afghans and WoW aren’t necessarily incompatible or opposites – I have a friend who knits seriously and actually makes and sells her own yarn, but she’s also a pretty serious WoW player.

    19. Anon in CO

      This actually sounds a lot like a former boss of mine. Among many other things, she also had no boundaries and constantly turned any conversation back to herself, to a weird degree. Anytime she noticed a group of people in the office talking about something non-work related, she jumped into the conversation (“Hey! What are you all talking about??”) then quickly derailed it by discussing her personal life. While very few things she did crossed a line, it wasn’t long before absolutely anything she said or did, no matter how innocuous, annoyed the absolute crap out of me. Even if she did something nice. Anyway, I clearly didn’t deal with it well and it started to affect not only my work, but my personal life. A roommate at the time pointed out that he hadn’t actually seen me look happy in months. So, my advice is to work REALLY hard to get out in front of it. That may mean setting some boundaries and feeling like you’re being rude, but really, she’s being rude. And I agree that she’s incredibly insecure- so was my old boss and it took a few years after I left that job for me to stop feeling angry anytime I thought about her and to feel sorry for her because she clearly has a deep-seeded unhappiness about herself. Think of it as an exercise in dealing with difficult people. Otherwise it’s only going to get worse. Maybe when she offers for you to work from her house, say something like, “Oh I would never be comfortable working from someone else’s house, I need my workspace to be my own.” If she asks why, just use, “I guess that’s just me.” Then repeat, since apparently she has short term memory loss as well.

    20. Melissa

      It sounds like she’s trying to be friendly and missing the mark because your personalities are so different; it also sounds a little bit like you’ve already decided that you’re just both so different, and that she’s annoying, that now everything she does irritates you. No judgment about that – I have definitely done that before. But once you realize it (if that’s what’s happening), it kind of helps to step outside yourself for a moment when you are irritated and ask yourself why, and whether what she’s doing is really so irritating or whether it’s just because you don’t like her.

      Like this: “I stay out of your general teapot design things because I’m sure you’re competent enough to handle them on your own”. Why would that stick in your craw? At face value, she said the exact opposite of what you assume – she literally doesn’t get involved in the more general aspects of your job because she thinks you can handle it, unless there’s something about her tone that’s bothering you that’s not coming across here.

      1. Others might think this is rude, but personally this drives me up a wall and I usually interrupt people as politely as possible and rephrase the question, pretending that I believe they didn’t understand the original question. That usually brings them to the point…usually.

      2. If you instant message her, will she respond to you or ignore it? Because one solution is if you hear your name, you could IM her and write “Hey Jill, I thought I heard you say my name but I can’t hear you through the cubicle. Do you want to chat over the IM or do you want to come around here?” Or if you prefer, when you hear your name you can call her and say the same thing. An alternative is that you can just completely ignore her until she comes to you or calls or IMs you; after a while she’s going to learn that the only way she can communicate with you is if she does it where you can hear her.

      The invitations to lunch and her house I feel will extinguish themselves if you say no enough times and she gets negative results. Any time you agree is going to reward her, psychologically speaking. But I feel like you can be direct – for the lunch thing, just say you can’t really afford to eat out or you brought your lunch. If you really do want to accept, and she suggests a place, just tell her that it’s too expensive – or suggest that you select a place this time.

    21. Not So NewReader

      166 replies. incredible. Alison, do you know of a longer thread than this one?

      OP, I agree that everything here is annoying. What concerns me the most is that she is not getting her work done and you are doing it for her. Please keep record of that.

      Sit her down for a serious conversation. If she starts to talk, tell her you would like to finish. Tell her to stop asking you to lunch and stop asking you over her house. Tell her she has asked too many times. The answer is no to both. Let her know that you are there to focus on the work- it is not social hour. Let her know that she needs start IMing you, because you do not have time for 30 minute conversations about five restaurants. “We are here to work.” Make that your go-to theme song.
      “Will you go over my house?”
      No, we are here to work.
      “Will you go to Big Expense Restaurant?
      No, we are here to work.
      “Here, let me tell you what George said to Sally who told Teresa after Jan said something.”
      NO, we are here to work.

      Conversely, every time she starts to prattle on about stuff, you could remind her of something you need. “How is that Smith report coming, I needed that yesterday.” In other words, do not let her pick the subject of conversation.

      I see a couple of things in your post. She is getting under your skin. And you are allowing it. Push back. Redirect conversations, tell her things like “i have already answered your lunch question several times, I will not be answering it any more”, carry the expectation that she will get her work done and done on time. If it’s not done- do not cover for her.

      She’s totally out of control and a train wreck, I get it. But you have to put your foot down. I get the strong sense that this woman has not done an ounce of work since the day she started. Let the chips fall where they will on that one. I would strongly be tempted to say, “this report is due on Friday. I will be handing in my part of the report with or without your part. I sincerely hope yours is done, but if you do not have it ready, my part will go forward anyway.” (Sometimes, you can make a good bluff- so whether or not this is true, may not matter to her.)

      1. catsAreCool

        “I get the strong sense that this woman has not done an ounce of work since the day she started. ” I agree!

    22. Cristina

      I totally feel your pain and hope writing it all out helped you to vent a little bit. This made me laugh though because I just bought a new house (literally, it closed today). And I bought it specifically because it’s the ultimate party house with big rooms and a kitchen for entertaining. So I also mentioned to my co-workers that I would invite them over. In my defense, I was thinking one group cocktail hour for everyone. Plus they’re the ones who keep bringing it up. But I have been talking up the party aspect of the house in other (non-work) circles so when I read this I went, “aw, she just wants to entertain, poor thing,” inside. The day I start singling out co-workers to repeatedly invite them over is the day someone needs to sit me down and give me a talking to. :)

  3. Mouse

    If given the choice between A) job that has better hours (~40), better pay, but potentially less interesting work and B) job with terrible hours (~60), OK pay, but long-term interesting work and prestige, which would you choose?

    1. loxthebox

      Depends on how uninteresting the work is. But I also have a child at home so less hours and better pay sounds better to me so long as the work is not mind numbingly awful and repetitive.

      1. Bea W

        As someone who know the difference between a 40 week and a 60 week, I’d do the same figuring with a reasonable workload there is room to make it interesting. With a heavy workload, there’s no time to really delve into the things that interest you most. It’s often a lot of fire fighting and not a lot of breathing time to actually enjoy what you’re doing.

    2. Helka

      Personally, I’d take job A. As long as the work isn’t unbearable, I’d rather have better pay (the joy of Millennial college debt and overall financial insecurity) and more manageable hours (because I like having a life outside of my job).

    3. Lily in NYC

      I would pick A without hesitation but I think this is the kind of thing that it doesn’t matter what other people would do because we are not you. It all depends on your needs and preferences. My life outside of work is much more important to me than my career, but that’s just me. My sister would choose B because her career is more important to her than anything else in her life, except maybe her daughter.

    4. Tiffy the Fed... Contractor

      Eh, I like work-life balance (yes, I still think it’s a thing) vs. prestige, so I’d go with A.

    5. PEBCAK

      Depends so much on where you are at in your career and what the rest of your life looks like. Straight out of school and no family? Do the latter. Later on? It’s really gotta be your own choice.

      1. Sally

        I agree. If you don’t have time constraints, then do what you can now to make yourself stand out. It will help you in the long run since experience is worth so much. However, if you have kids at home or need a more standard schedule, shoot for the 40 hr week. It’ll be less stressful.

    6. BRR

      You should also factor how it will affect future career choices. Does A or B set you up better for future positions?

      Personally unless A was watching paint dry boring I would probably take it. I know certain industries where people would take B where B was a difficult job to get such as academia or being a professional orchestral musician.

      1. anon42

        I think the point about future options and choices is really important. I currently have a choice-A type of job but I feel like it’s really affecting my prospects of moving up or moving elsewhere. If I were at a more settled point in my life it might be a better choice but as it is, I feel constrained by it.

    7. Elli in Cali

      Without more information (how long until that long-term payoff? How important is your life outside of work? What kind of vibe do you get from people at the ~60 hour a week job?) it’s tough to suggest which to take. For me, I’d go with A, which would give me the time and money to do interesting things – possibly, interesting activities that could enhance my image in my field – outside of the office.

    8. Sascha

      10 years ago – job B. Today – job A. 10 years ago I was single and had way more energy and free time. Today I’m expecting my first kid and have no energy, so I’d want the better hours and pay.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale

        Yup– it has a lot to do with lifestyle, life cycle, where you are in your career, etc. 16 months ago I took job A and it worked out well, then I was bored stiff and am now moving on to a job that is a good combo of A&B. Which is another thing to consider– going to A now doesn’t mean you have to stay there forever. Take the good pay and the better hours and you can always reassess later.

        1. bridget

          I think that depends on the field – in mine, taking the job with less prestige would mean that I am somewhat limiting my options in the future. I’m right now picking B because 1) I’m early in my career, with a good amount of time, AND 2) this particular kind of “prestige” has a lot of value in my industry, besides just being ego-boosting, because it will open a lot of doors for me in the future that job A would not.

          1. Bea W

            True. There is no prestige factor in my field. Actually in my field long hours and less pay pretty much says everything you need to know about that employer (run, run very fast very far).

    9. AVP

      Right now, for me, B. At a different stage of my life, maybe a few years from now, I could see A being the right choice.

    10. Chriama

      The thing is, ok pay + unusually long hours actually = lousy pay. Or are you saying the pay is ok *because* of the expectation of hours it comes with? If the pay is commensurate with hours expected, then it’s a choice between interesting but stressful vs boring but relaxing. In that case I would go for the presitge because I’m young and have few family committments. If you’re not, you need to think about where you want your overall career to go, what your family, social and financial obligations are, and how you are at handling stress.

    11. Felicia

      I don’t care at all about prestige, and you said A was less interesting, but not totally uninteresting or horrible. So I would without hesitation go for A. My current job is pretty decent…there are jobs more interesting, but it’s ok. And I will take some ok that i don’t hate and am good at for the good hours and good pay that i have, vs. something wonderful that i love for more hours and less pay.

      But it depends what’s important to you – this is what’s important to me.

    12. Dan

      You’re framing the problem too ambiguously (lots of “betters” and “potentially’s”) to really make this clear cut. As others have mentioned, it really depends on where in your career you are. It also matters how much less Job B is paying, and how dead end the work is at Job A, as well as how well the work at Job B would set you up for a future job, and how long you would have to be at Job B to capitalize on that.

    13. Ilf

      I’d choose B if I was certain I can do the work, and long term interesting work and prestige also correlates with long term better pay.

    14. kozinskey

      I’d go with job A because I have lots of interests outside work. I’m all about the French “work to live” rather than the American “live to work.”

    15. Elizabeth West

      I’d take the first one, but that’s because I work so I can write books and I need the money. I got lucky with my job; it’s not super exciting fantastical wow, but I like doing it, it pays decently, and I like all the people I work with.

    16. Kyrielle

      I’d pick A without hesitation, and I’d also lean toward A if you evened the pay out perfectly. But I have a family that is my first priority, and small children, and I don’t care about prestige much. (Long-term interesting work would be nice…but not at the expense of my family.)

      Your priorities may differ. I’d suggest writing out all the costs and benefits. Longer hours will impact social and family life for pretty much everyone – but how bad that is, depends on what you need and expect from your social/family life right now. Lower pay impacts finances – but do yours need the infusion? Does it set you up for a path that you like in the future enough to accept the reduced earnings?

      That sort of thing. :)

    17. HAnon

      Better hours and pay. More time and resources for me to pour into my outside interests :) Especially as someone who is counting down my pennies to my next paycheck.

    18. Tris Prior

      A, no question. Maybe it’s because I’m no longer young and hungry to advance… but prestige really doesn’t mean much to me any more. Prestige and interesting work, over the years, basically got me ever-longer hours (“since you’ve been working 60 hours/week and doing so well at that I know you can handle a little more; 70- hour weeks aren’t THAT much longer”), decent pay (but not really, when you divide it by 70-80-hour weeks), and always being the one who got the really horrible clients because “you’re so good at this, you can handle them and the rest of the team can’t.”

      After 10 years of that, I burned out and fled.

    19. Not So NewReader

      Neither job will be that great if you do not have personal goals.

      Job A is good if you have something that you want time to accomplish. If you do not have outside goals, the job will get too boring and become a big issue. But if you want to take classes or work on some other long term goal this could be your better choice. Have something in place to go up against the boredom. Saving money is a good goal but it will not help you fight off the boredom.

      Job B is good if you feel that you want to shake up your life a bit. Make sure you have goals if you take this job. Because feeling overworked and underpaid is very, very tiring. Stick to the goals like glue. The goal here is going to be something associated directly with the job. You want to make outstanding contacts. You want to have X, Y and Z experiences under your belt for your resume. People don’t take jobs like this unless they are getting something of substance back, and it is usually more than one thing.

  4. Carrie in Scotland

    Just out of curiosity mainly, Alison, since the ‘don’t post your question here as it may be in my to-do queue’ disclaimer has been used for a few weeks just how long is your queue?

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      My queue of stuff that I want to / hope to answer fluctuates between 50 and 150 letters, but it’s been that way for years and I doubt will ever go lower than that. I just added that disclaimer recently at someone’s suggestion because sometimes someone would send something to me and then post it here the same week, even though I already had an answer half-written (or totally written) … which they couldn’t know, obviously.

      It’s been a long while since I’ve been able to promise people an answer if they write me (at this point probably only a third to a half of letters that hear back from me, and fewer than that are actually published), but if someone has sent me something in the last week, I like to at least have the chance to answer it. I realize I can’t call dibs on stuff for much longer than a week though.

      None of that should discourage people from writing in! Much of what I end up not answering is stuff that’s been answered here a zillion times before. If you have something new or especially interesting, write in!

      1. Megan

        Would it be worth getting an intern to answer those emails that are repeats with a link to a published similar letter? It’s a small thing but if those emails just go unanswered… As a reader, if I wrote in, I would really appreciate a reply – even if from an intern with a link. It’s better than no reply.

        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          Well, there’s an auto-reply that goes to everyone who writes in, explaining that the volume of mail means that I can’t answer everything and offering a few links to particularly helpful stuff.

          In theory an intern could help in the way you’re describing, but it would be a lot more work on my end (to hire, train, and supervise them) and my schedule is already as full as I’m willing to let it get. (And it was a huge relief to me when I accepted that I was not in fact required to spend my evenings answering mail rather than, say, hanging out with my husband.) I assume every successful advice columnist must reach this point, where there’s no realistic way to answer everyone, even with just a short link, and still maintain their overall sanity. In that way, it’s a sign of the success of the site and I think you can’t really grow past a certain point without having it happen. Accepting that has been pretty liberating.

  5. Audiophile

    Woo! It’s Friday!

    Quick question – had an interview and I was told at the end of it that two candidates had sent hand written thank you notes. I know this has been discussed here a few times and there’s multiple points of view.

    I’ve emailed thank you notes and never had any issues. But I’m not sure if it will be a mark against me if I don’t send a hand written note, especially since it was mentioned to me.

    Thoughts?

    1. Trixie

      I also went with emailed thank you, along with link to story/subject we had discussed. Quicker and ideal for those who don’t have decent handwriting. As long as you get something in, that’s the important thing. (I myself do not do both electronic and snail mail.)

    2. Lily in NYC

      How weird of them to mention it in your interview. But if they seemed pleased by it, then write the notes. I don’t see what you would have to lose.

    3. Nanc

      Well, that seems like a weird comment from them. Did they sound impressed? Or like it was old-fashioned? If the former, send a hand-written note. If the latter, stick with your email strategy. But seriously, weird comment!

    4. JMegan

      Why would they mention it to you at all? That’s kind of weird, unless it’s meant as a hint that you should do the same thing if you want to be on equal footing. Personally, I would take it as exactly that kind of hint, and send the handwritten note. But I would also take it as a data point that these people are a) focusing on irrelevant details and b) inappropriately sharing information about other candidates in the process.

    5. NJ anon

      I always email my thank you’s and I appreciate them in return. They are quicker and get directly to the person you are trying to reach.

    6. Audiophile

      I have pretty crappy handwriting. So I plan to email but it did strike me as odd. It wasn’t the person interviewing me who mentioned it, it was someone else at the company. Just that my interviewer had received two handwritten notes from candidates.
      I liked them overall but I imagine the writing sample I had to do, would and should carry more weight than a handwritten note.

    7. Ellie A.

      I think interview “thank-you notes” aren’t really thank-you notes, they’re a follow-up business communication. Email is fine for business communication, even for thank-you notes.

      1. Audiophile

        I agree, it just came off as strange that this person was mentioning it. I understand that they were trying to be nice and maybe give me a “hint” to give a little extra edge or something, but like another user said, it seems weird to share information about other candidates.
        I’m not one who excel at handwriting, so it’s best I stick to email.

    8. Anon Accountant

      That’s odd they mentioned it to you. If it seems like they liked the hand written I don’t see any harm in hand writing a thank you note.

    9. AvonLady Barksdale

      That’s so weird they mentioned it! Was it said in an admiring way, or in an annoyed one?

      I used to always send handwritten notes, then I started getting antsy about the postal service delay. So glad I did that– I now email my follow-ups, but thanks to Alison, I no longer send those emails immediately after getting back to my home or office after the interview. I wait until after the workday.

    10. long time reader first time poster

      I haven’t handwritten interview thank you notes in over a decade. I would never consider a handwritten thank you note more ‘valid’ than an emailed one.

      FWIW I had a manager that told me he would NEVER EVER HIRE a person that didn’t send a thank you note at all after an interview, but he was crazy. I’d say that only 1 in 5, maybe even 1 in 10 candidates I’ve interviewed have ever followed up with thank you notes of any sort. I always appreciate them (and I do always send them myself), but I wouldn’t chuck a qualified candidate into the no pile just for not sending one.

    11. Lulubell

      I was always in the handwritten note camp. It was something I started doing at the beginning of my career, and I always got positive feedback from it, with more than one new employer telling me my note stuck out in their mind. Now that I am in the hiring position, I much prefer an email note. You can actually write something of substance on it, and I’m working on a pretty quick and competitive hiring timeline. I guess I’m starting to think of hand-written notes as more junior, when candidates have less to say and there’s a focus on stationary, and emails as more professional/down-to-business. That’s just my personal experience and opinions, though.

    12. abby

      That is very weird they would mention this fact to you. Depending on the tone, you should consider sending a note.

      We recently went through a round of interviews and some candidates sent notes, while others did not. One sent a hand-written note to each person on the interview team. We liked her as a person and we liked the note, but it did not change our assessment of her as we felt she was not right for the position. The one we ultimately hired sent a group email to all of us, but that did not change our assessment; we became very interested in her as the interview progressed because she had the skills and experience we sought and we felt she would fit with our organization. Our other top candidate did not send a note to anyone, and I don’t think anyone cared (I did not).

      Here is what did change my assessment of certain candidates. I should explain that I am the supervisor of the position. However, my boss took the role of hiring manager for this recruit because I am overwhelmed right now. The fact that I am the supervisor was made clear in the job description and during the interviews. One candidate sent a follow-up note to only my boss. Crossed that person off my list. Another candidate did the same, even though I had already crossed that person off my list for other reasons, but the follow-up to only my boss really turned me off.

      So if you decide to send a note, either hand-written or by email, send to everyone on the interview panel.

      1. Nobody

        Abby, have you considered that you might be taking the thank you notes too personally? You didn’t care when a candidate didn’t send any thank you note at all, but you actually eliminated candidates because you felt slighted when they sent notes to your boss but not to you?

        I’m not entirely sure what you mean by your boss taking the role of hiring manager, but I assume it means that your boss conducted or at least led the interview. Given the range of advice on thank you note etiquette, I think it’s reasonable for a candidate to send a thank you note to only the hiring manager, especially if it was a situation where the hiring manager asked all the questions and the other person/people present just seemed to be there to take notes. Organizational structure and titles can be very different from one company to the next, so even though you thought it was clear doesn’t mean that the candidate really understood.

        Honestly, if I found out that I was eliminated for this reason, I would feel like I dodged a bullet.

  6. Ashamed

    I need some advice.

    I graduated grad school last year and have had a terrible time finding a job in my career field – I’ve just been working in retail. I decided to add some experience to my resume to make it look like I had more experience than I did, and I was hired by a contracting company.
    Unfortunately, someone at the client company (as a contractor I worked directly with the client) was asking some questions about my resume and confronted me, and I confessed that I had added some experience I didn’t have (including falsifying an entire job). I was fired from my company as a result.
    I know it was terribly stupid and wrong. I know that. I was desperate to get my foot in the door and having so much trouble. I have loans to pay and now I’ve lost my job.
    My question – how much will this impact my future career? Obviously I won’t lie on my resume again but will I be blackballed from related companies forever because of this? I know people ask around. Or will they be able to write it off as a stupid, youthful mistake?
    This isn’t me. It’s really not. I just screwed up. What do I do now?

    1. Anoners

      Well, there’s not much you can do besides using this as a learning experience. How long were you there for? Was it caught right away, or a few months in? If it was a short time you could leave it off your resume, but then you run the risk of someone knowing you worked there and probing, which would lead to another awkward moment.

      I wouldnt beat yourself up over this though. You realize you made a oopsie, and you won’t make it again. We all do things that are slightly out of charcter when we’re desperate.

    2. Lily in NYC

      Faslifying an entire job is a huge deal, just as bad as faking a degree. But you already know it was a huge mistake so I won’t beat you up. But if you don’t put the job you were fired from on your resume and don’t list any of the people there as references, how will related companies know what happened? People aren’t going to “ask around” as much regarding an entry level candidate – that’s usually done for more senior roles where people already have a presence in the industry.

    3. Sally

      How big is the company? If it’s smaller, your mistake might not bite you back as badly. One thing you could do is take some classes to gain experience in whatever experience you listed. That way you can gain some skills and if someone brings it up in the future, you can say you have experience.

    4. Jax

      Oof. You may have to start over again, leaving your last job off your resume altogether and just tell potential employers that you’re STILL struggling to break into your field. I don’t think this is something you can explain in new interviews without making yourself look terrible and untrustworthy.

      Reminds me of the really bad Christina Applegate movie “Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead”. She was a high school kid who made a fake resume to get an office job and the company hired her to be a fashion designer, or something ridiculous. It all crashed in flames with her boss forgiving her and telling her to come back and see her in a few years, and she may have a job for her. (Oh, 90’s movies. How I miss you.)

    5. HR Manager

      How small and narrow is your field? Some fields are tight and incestuous, and so even for a short stint, earning a bad rap can be quite damaging. Sorry you had to learn this the hard way.

      I would also suggest leaving this off the resume if it was less than a month or so. The best I can offer is that with years of good quality work can certainly bury this unfortunate incident, but getting back into that door right away might be a challenge. Is there any other professional field that will allow you to use some of those skills that you can get into in the mean time to start building up strong experience?

    6. long time reader first time poster

      There’s not really a ‘blackball’ list out there.

      What you did was obviously wrong, but if you want to move on the best thing to do is pretend it never happened. Don’t ever mention that you worked at that company — don’t put it on your resume, don’t talk about it with your colleagues when you do land a new job. But if you DO get caught out, by all means do not try to cover it up. Be honest and confess that you made a terrible, terrible mistake, say that you learned from it, and then move on.

      1. Not So NewReader

        I agree with this strategy. Sometimes the upset inside our minds is worse than anything that actually happens. This is one of those things that it feels like a person is walking around in their underwear and everyone is pointing. It will pass. I promise.

        Remember one thing: The people who admit to their mistakes, own the mistake and take action to never make that mistake again have ended up being some of the coolest people I know. They are reality based, yet level-headed. It feels like hell now, but if you let, it will help you become an even better person. Give it time.

  7. Carrie in Scotland

    I’m happy the thread is up, at that means it’s almost home time for me!
    I can’t be the only one who thinks that coming back from annual leave makes the work week seem unusually long, can I?
    Also, I’m now officially off probation! (it’s 6 months long) Hurrah!

    1. Katie the Fed

      Oh god yes on the returning from leave. I just got back from two weeks of leave – 2 days just digging through emails and catching up, and then it just DRAGS.

      1. Sascha

        I’m going on maternity leave in a few months…I know my inbox will be horrid. My coworker just returned from her leave and I know with all the stuff my manager copied her on, and all the crap she gets on a normal basis, it took her days of doing nothing except sorting emails.

        1. AvonLady Barksdale

          First, congratulations! And second, think of it this way– coming back to a few days of organization is a good way to ease in. Better than, “Oh good, you’re back, you have 5 meetings on your calendar!” That is, of course, assuming you work with people who are sensitive to such things and expect you to need a few days to get reorganized!

          1. Sascha

            Thank you very much!

            Ehhh…we’ll see. My director’s first words when I told him about my pregnancy were, “Oh crap what are we going to do?…I mean that’s great, I’m happy for you.” And then some worried grumbling about how March was so close – I told him in August. Anyway I know he’s genuinely happy for me and not mad at ME, but rather himself for not hiring more people when he should have! :)

      2. Dmented Kitty

        What I now do with my Outlook emails is set up filters during my PTO period from [thisDate] to [thatDate] — one filter that drops emails to the ‘PTO mails where I’m in the To field’ and one filter that drops emails to the ‘PTO mails where I’m in the CC field’. That way when I come back my Inbox will contain only emails that came in after I was Out of Office, and would be the most “fresh”. Then when I’ve addressed those, I go through the “PTO – To” folder first since I presume those may actually need actions from me, then look through the “PTO – CC” next.

        I am fully assuming the people at work know the difference between “To” and “CC”, so I’m not going to feel sorry if one of them says I have an action item but in the email I was only CC-ed.

    2. Grace

      Ditto on the probation! I get my paperwork next week. Mine was 6 months too – I’m quite relieved to be honest! :-)

    3. Cath in Canada

      Heh, I told my boss yesterday that I’m actually really happy to be back in the office after my staycation – a week off for a conference then a week back then a week off for a course then a week back then a week off on vacation had me craving routine and consistency!

  8. idk

    Went on an interview yesterday that was so utterly bizarre. I’ve had a couple of hours to mull it over and posting it here. I had to take out a lot of details bc I wanted to stay as anon as possible (bc I’ve recommended this site to so many people + don’t want to jinx anything)

    I used to work for a company and was part of a mass layoff. I found out they were hiring again and reapplied and got called for an interview. So far it went well. Met with a few people, new and old. The third interviewer came and said “I’ll be blunt, your ex manager wanted you gone and gave you a bad reputation.”

    I tried to not let my face show my shock….the interview went on and it was pretty much:
    “Why were you a low performer?” (I was, no dispute or secret about that).
    “This is why: __ and this is what I plan to do to make sure I’m a better performer now.”
    It wasn’t a secret that I’d struggled at the role. My manager was very clear about where I could improve but we were/are on good terms and I don’t believe he would do it.

    I have no idea why she told me this (and other irrelevant to me) information.

    1. fposte

      Do you think the interview was lying about your old manager, or were you just surprised that your old manager held this opinion? Had you specifically asked your old manager for a reference, and was he happy to give one?

      I would be unhappy if the old manager agreed to give a reference and then badmouthed me. But if the old manager genuinely felt that I had been a weak spot, I’d actually consider it better to have that out in the open to talk about, and the fact that they called you in for an interview nonetheless and then allowed you to address seems like a good sign to me.

      1. idk

        Yeah, I was pretty surprised bc even though I struggled I just don’t believe that he’d want me let go. I’ve talked to him though and he said he’d give me a good reference…

    2. LisaLisa

      Quite frankly that doesn’t sound very bizarre. It sounds like the interviewer asked someone who worked with you what s/he thought of you and that person gave his/her frank opinion … as you admit you didn’t do the best job perviously and the recommender said that. The interviewer was giving you the chance to defend yourself. Wouldn’t you rather he have done that than not giving you that chance. Maybe it was blunt but I guess I’d rather have that than him thinking I was a low performer and not giving me a chance to explain how I could turn around my performance in a new role.

    3. Bea W

      They would not have bothered to bring you in for an interview at all if they were convinced you sucked badly, but they would want to clear the air in determining your fit for the position, and even if you weren’t the best at your last job it is possible in the time you’ve been gone you’ve gained more or improved skills and grown. I doubt their making things up. It could be your boss didn’t actually say anything like that, but did say something less damming that morphed while churning through the rumour mill.

      1. Not So NewReader

        Yep. You weren’t so awful that they would avoid interviewing you. If you have trust-worthy friends still at work there, maybe they can help fill in the gaps for you here.

    4. idk

      Thanks for the replies guys. I thought it over for a while adn I’ll try to focus on the bigger picture…..I really don’t believe he would have insisted I be fired, but rather the opposite…that he fought for me and others, to keep us and didn’t have much say in who was let go. There were a lot of things that happened, but I’m too paranoid to post it all here :(

      I’ve had some time to think it over, and I’m just going to get over it and move on. What’s important was that I was able to make my case and say the things I’d been wanting to say since I was let go…..and whether the final decision comes out in my favor or not, I’m glad I at least had the opportunity to do so. Bigger picture…no use in fretting over these kind of details for too long…

  9. Unpaid

    Long story short… My husbands company was bought out and the transition happened two pay periods ago. For both paychecks they messed up and he didn’t get paid and both times resulted in over draft fees for stuff that normally gets paid the same day he gets paid. Our budget is super tight and we are usually out of money by the time payday comes around. We had to go without pay for an extra week and it was really tough. Plus, we lost a few hundred bucks due to this error. Any suggestions on how we could go about recouping this from the company? Or are we SOL?

    1. Elkay

      You may be SOL if your husband’s company, like mine, tells you not to plan for direct debits to go out of your account until 7 days after your scheduled pay day (I get paid monthly).

      However, if they don’t give that advice I’d say go and speak to payroll (not email, speak), bring documents to show what happened, how you were charged for their error.

      Also, try speaking to your bank and see if they’ll reverse the charges. If you’re normally in good standing they’ll often do this. I had this happen twice, once for a bounced cheque which was a stupid mistake but went through a cashier who should have flagged up the risk – two cheques for the exact same amount one being paid into an account another one being paid out, the second time I was an idiot and missed my credit card payment. I’d never missed one in the 7+ years of having the card so they dropped the fee and cleaned my record (still had to pay interest charges).

        1. KerryOwl

          Did you go in person? They might be more sympathetic if you are there in front of them, being polite and contrite and sort of desperate. (And taking at least some responsibility for making the scheduling so tight.) There are real actual humans making these decisions, and they do usually have some discretion on these kinds of things.

          1. Unpaid

            Unfortunately we can’t go in person. It’s a credit union that through his old company that is only for employees (though once a member, always a member). Their headquarters are in Illinois and we are in New York. We can deposit and withdraw money through local credit unions that are partnered with the our credit union but anything else is done over phone or online.

      1. Anna

        Yeah, but even if they did have that caveat, they screwed up twice and the person didn’t get paid for a month. Which means that even if they did wait seven days, the money STILL wouldn’t have been there.

        1. Unpaid

          To clarify, we did get paid the first time around, but a week later. The damage was done with the overdraft fees though so we lost about 25% of that paycheck to that. Then it happened again this pay period and we had a few more overdrafts, but not as many as last time.

          Compounding the issue was that old company also did not pay him correctly last period. They messed something up and all the hourly employees were not paid for their last week of work before the transition to the new company. So it was just a onslaught of unexpected issues with getting paid.

          1. CEMgr

            Some states (yes California! and others too) have strict payday laws that would absolutely make this the company’s issue to both cover the overdraft for you, and also pay you a penalty. I recommend checking with your state labor board or department of labor as to payday laws in your state.

            Failing any help there, I certainly would ask the company to cover this.

    2. Katie the Fed

      well, it probably can’t hurt to ask but my guess is you won’t get help on it. But I would approach it as “unfortunately, because I went a month without being paid I incurred several overdraft fees. Is that something the company can assist with?”

    3. krm

      Your husband should go speak to his manager. Let him know that the paychecks were messed up, and as a result, you were charged overdraft fees for some auto-paid bills. I think a sane manager would agree that you shouldn’t be out a few hundred dollars due to the mistake of the company. Ask if the issue is corrected, and ask how you should go about submitting for reimbursement.

      1. Unpaid

        His manager is involved because he assisting with getting it straightened out. I’m not sure whether my husband mentioned the overdraft. He might not have.

    4. Unpaid

      Ok good suggestions. This was a true mess up on their part. They mistakenly deposited both checks into a bank account that we closed and removed from his direct deposit 3 years ago. Last paycheck he straighten it all out and the correct account is on file and yet they still deposited it wrong again.
      I have no idea if they have such a policy. I guess we should look into that.

      1. KerryOwl

        Also, I know that money is tight, but for the next paycheck, schedule the bills to be paid at least one day later than his payday. That way you’ll have a chance to cancel the payments if his paycheck isn’t deposited the day it should be. You can’t be certain that the problem has been fixed until you see that it has been fixed.

        1. Unpaid

          That’s a good idea though it wouldn’t have helped much here. Old company payday was Thursday and new company is now Friday. Some bills would be late if we waited through the weekend. We have tried to balance it a bit better so we are never completely dry but we just can’t seem to get ahead enough to not be paying the bills either last minute or early. If we could get ahead by one month, it would help.

      2. Greggles

        Where I work it takes 2 whole pay cycles to get an account changed for ACH. I wonder how the new company got the old account information.

    5. Ann O'Nemity

      Generally, the company wouldn’t be legally liable for overdraft fees incurred. However, some states have laws giving employees the right to a timely paycheck. If the delay exceeded what is specified in the law, you may have some recourse with the state labor board or small claims court.

      1. HR Manager

        I think the only sticky issue here for that type of protection might be that it’s severance vs compensation for actual time worked.

    6. Anx

      I don’t see a situation in which you could recoup the losses. I don’t know anyone for whom that’s worked our for.

      I’d try to work it out with you bank, instead. If you do bring it up to your employer, maybe you could just have them confirm that they made errors in payroll.

      1. Unpaid

        Yeah, I’m not sure. I realize it’s not technically the employers problem that we are so tight on money. It’s just so frustrating that we plan so meticulously to make sure we can pay what we need to pay. No other employees (as far as we know) have had this issue and I’d hope the company would make it right since they are a major corporation. They literally bought out old company for $3 Billion!! So this is a drop in the bucket for them, while $300 is a huge setback for us and will take some time to recover from. I made some calls today and I was able to get a 1 month reprieve on some bills but the balance will be added to the next bill with no late fee and I was able to stop any withdrawals in order to avoid the overdraft.

        1. Anx

          Oh I totally understand.

          My roommate works as a graduate student and has to front much of his travel and research expenses up front, and then wait for reimbursements. If someone makes an error we have to absorb the cost and it sucks. A lot.

      2. Not sure

        I actually disagree with this. I think if you frame it politely but firmly, stressing (again, politely) that it was the company’s mistake, they should cover it. I think your suggestion to take it up with the bank is a good one, but I’d do that AFTER asking the company to cover it – it just seems like something the company should do (especially since they’ve admitted it was their mistake already, and not paying people in a timely, correct way is indeed against the law).

    7. Anon Accountant

      Someone at the company should be asked about reimbursement for the bank fees as it was due to their error. Plus check payroll laws in your state. There may be regulations on the number of days between days paid.

  10. Cruciatus

    Sorry to ask again, but last week I asked if there was anyone who has experience in international admissions/recruiting/advising at a small university but no one responded–and I don’t know anyone in my own life in a position like this. I’m interested in an international enrollment advisor position but the job descriptions are kinda vague stuff I could have guessed at. Does anyone know what the day-to-day is really like in a department like this? What’s the worst that can happen? What’s a great day like? I’d love any more background I can get!

    1. Nanc

      No personal experience, but LinkedIn has an open group called International Coordinators of Higher Education Institutions (ICHEI). It might be worth joining and asking the question there. Good luck!

    2. Elkay

      I have tangential experience, the main thing I remember is that they had to be really informed on various visa options. This was a bigger university though so they also did a lot of travel to areas with lots of applicants and interviewed out there (normally in a windowless basement in a hotel for a week then flew home again!).

    3. HigherEd Admin

      I don’t have any direct advice for you, except to suggest that if you still don’t get any responses here, I would take to LinkedIn and seek out people you can request meeting with for an informational interview.

    4. TotesMaGoats

      I’ve never worked specifically in international admissions but I have in general admissions at a small and large university.

      A general day could include reviewing incoming applications, meeting with the admissions committee to accept or reject applications, interviewing students for scholarships, possibly giving a tour, reporting data, requesting information from students/parents about I-9’s and finances. Data entry. Larger scope would include open house events and other recruiting events on campus or on the road. College fairs. Conferences. Welcome week activities. Orientation support.

      The biggest thing I remember about international students is that there is a lot more hand holding and support than with your “local” students. They tend to form a really close bond with their admissions counselors. So be prepared for that.

      It’s an admissions counselor job with a special population. Go for it.

      1. Rowan

        And you have to be aware of a lot of different cultural expectations about things like the rigidity of entry requirements or deadlines.

    5. Tricksie

      I have worked as a Director of International Programs at a small university. I’m not sure if you want to work on the admissions side or the advising side–those are often different, even at a small university. Admissions might do international recruiting (fairs and working with agents), getting application materials, verifying proof of funds, issuing documents for F and J visas (usually). Advising would be helping students maintain visa compliance, making sure they get documents needed for working (on campus or off), helping with events like trips, international student club, potlucks, international week, homestay program (if you have it), etc. Depending on where you work, it can also mean negotiating memoranda of agreement or working with international partner universities and/or hosting their students for short stays, etc. It’s fun work! Quite varied!!

  11. Trixie

    Resume question. I addressed a recent employment gap in my cover letter. On my resume, I start with my recent employment and work back from there. At the bottom, I include more recent volunteer work and current PT work under Community Involvement and Other Experience. Wondering if I should move that to top so its really in chronological order.

    1. loxthebox

      I think it’d be easier to follow as you have it. I mentally would separate work experience from volunteer work and having them all squished together would throw me off. And if you addressed it in your cover letter the gap won’t look odd.

  12. GigglyPuff

    I got my job!!! I’ll be starting in January. I’m so excited, it’s exactly what I want to do, and it’s permanent, in a state where I have friends and a great city. :D

    And now the panic is starting to set in a little at having to find a place and move during/after the holidays.

    1. JMegan

      Yay, congratulations! And good luck with the move…they’re always stressful, but it sounds like this one will be well worth it.

    2. HeyNonnyNonny

      Congratulations!
      Moving is the worst– but it’s still not as bad as snagging a great job, so you’ve got the hard part done with :)

    3. GigglyPuff

      Thanks all!
      It’s kind of less about the move and more about figuring out my new budget, cause I am living at home with rent just covering my share of utilities; my dog adjusting to being alone (my mom has dogs and she’s home most days) while I work (& if I could afford a dog walker), finding a doctor right away for my chronic illness & medication that requires prior approval, etc, etc…all the joys that come with starting over.

      But anyway, it was all a little weird. Had one, one hour phone interview, couple of quick contacts and BAM, job offer month and half later. Never went in-person, which now makes this my second weird hiring story. Job I currently work, came in person, but the interview probably lasted ten minutes (when more than an hour was set aside). Forgot to send thank you e-mail until like two weeks later. Heard nothing, then HR called and offered it.

      So I’m wondering, anyone else with unusual/weird hiring stories?

      1. AvonLady Barksdale

        Congratulations!!! I echo what everyone says about the move– stressful, but you will figure it out.

        My current job is based across the country. I had one phone interview, one Skype interview, one more brief phone call and then I was offered the job. The Skype interview lasted about 20 minutes and I swore I bombed it. So these things happen, especially when you’re in a different state. If you’re happy with the job and all looks good, don’t sweat it. :)

        For the other stuff: your dog will be fine, especially if he/she is crate-trained, which will help with the transition by giving the pup a familiar and safe place. Depending on where you’re moving, dog walking can be reasonable or expensive– for us, it was actually cheaper in NYC than it is in our much smaller, Southern city because in NYC no one had to drive to get to our place and our dog was walked with one or two buddies in the building. Budget $15-$20/walk, and usually you can get a deal if you sign up for regular service. Also, look into doggy daycare once or twice a week, which will also help with transitioning to a new place.

        Ask your doctor if he/she knows anyone in your new city. Medical circles spread wider than you can ever imagine. Good luck!

        1. GigglyPuff

          Yeah the places I’ve looked are about $20/a walk. While my dog does good with the dogs she lives with, she’s more dominate, doesn’t quite understand how to play without being more aggressive, and then she has turned leash aggressive in the last couple years. Sooo she’s just a hot mess, and I’m trying to work on her training, but she’s pretty much too smart for her own good. I can tell her to sit for an hour, and she’ll just stare at me. Well I pulled out the treats last week, I haven’t done commands in almost two years, she remembered how to roll over in like 30 seconds :p

          1. AvonLady Barksdale

            Then I’ll recommend daycare even more! :) Our buddy had play issues– he was very bossy– and daycare helped immensely. If you can find one that’s affiliated with a trainer, so much the better. Daycare here runs $25/day, but you can get packages that put the price down to as little as $18/day. Even once a week was a huge help.

      2. inre meds and docs

        Congratulations!
        Talk with your doctor.
        You want to set up an arrangement whereby you can continue to get prescriptions on an ongoing basis until you’re settled (settled, not just an initial appt) with a new local doctor; also in case your new benefits plan expects you to order meds via mail so that you have a good bridge option to not have gaps in meds.
        You want advice on what to look for in a new doc for that condition today (that advice can change over time).
        You want to know if the doc recommends anyone in that area.
        You want to know if the doc would be glad to talk with your new doc about the protocols and experiences you’ve had with them; important if the new doc isn’t as responsive to your self reporting as you’d like (and you don’t have other good options for docs.)

        Talk with your family members there.
        They’ve heard people talk about their docs, and they (I assume) know about your condition and may have paid more attention in that arena than otherwise.
        They will also know which pharmacies are generally more cooperative, especially important with out of state prescriptions.
        Family members will also likely have info on housing options, dog walking people, etc, etc.

        Enjoy the new job!

      1. GigglyPuff

        Thanks! It took a ridiculous amount of time for me to come up with a decent name I liked when Allison started asking for regular usernames.

  13. confidential

    I’m hoping for a call back today to be invited to the next round of interviews for a company I had a phone interview with on Monday. The interviewer mentioned that the next round included an hour for you to give a presentation on a technically complex project you’ve worked on. I have a fantastic one that I could easily talk about from my current position, but I signed a confidentiality agreement when I started here. The agreement is kind of vague and just indicates that everything is confidential with a focus on our billing rates.

    Does anyone know if I would be okay just making the client and identifying details confidential?

      1. confidential

        That’s what I’m wondering. It’s probably also worth noting that I’m going into a different industry so there shouldn’t be an issue with trade secrets or something.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale

      I recently had to submit work samples, so I blinded all references to clients and their brands. I put “[brand X]” or just “X”. Totally fine, and in fact, I think it shows respect and thoughtfulness. (I got the job, btw.) Good luck!

  14. Sally

    Help! I’m in the final rounds of interviews for a position that has a lot of room for growth. I currently make $50k at my dead end job plus another $10k from a side job. Since employers base negotiations off our current salaries, will they base it off of just the $50k or the $60k total? I will have to quit both jobs to take the new one. I have been told that the new company has pulled offers if people try to negotiate higher. What should I do?

    1. loxthebox

      I assume they know you are currently working 2 jobs. So I think it’d be appropriate to tell them your salary expectation is $60k, you can easily justify that.

      1. Karowen

        Yeah, but make it clear that this is coming from two jobs. You don’t want the new employer to verify your salary and find out it’s $10k less than you claimed.

        (Also, as Anon Accountant stated, you should be arguing for salary based on market rate, not on your past salary.)

        1. Sally

          The market rate is above $60k, but the company typically pays below average which would place me at somewhere near $55k.

    2. Anon Accountant

      I’d try to focus more on the market worth of the job because of the duties and your experience etc. If they won’t consider a candidate who tries to negotiate I’d consider if it was a place you would want to work.

    3. Hlyssande

      They shouldn’t be basing negotiations off your current salary – they should be basing it on market rate/experience instead. That’s so weird for them to base it on that.

      Are you able to take the potential pay hit if you say you’re making 50k? What’s the market rate for the position you’re looking for? In my (relatively uninformed) opinion, I would tell them you’re making 60K if it’s not over market rate for the position.

      1. Sally

        I know they shouldn’t, but I was talking to people who work there, and that’s what they said. I also found out that the pay range is $50-60k and my supposed “career change” from Teapot Manufacturing to Teapot Design won’t qualify me for the higher end.

    4. OhNo

      Ooh, check out Alison’s answer to the question a day or two ago about discussing salary as a veteran. She had some really great language there! Let me see if I can find it… “My salary was $X, but much of that was tax-free, and I received a $18,720 housing allowance. What I’m looking for in a civilian role like this one is something in the range of $Y-$Z.”

      You could modify that to be something like, “My salary is $50k, but I would have to give up an additional salary of 10k to take this position, so I’m looking for a salary of 60k.”

      1. Sally

        Thanks for the advice. I’ve been told that since the side job is a part time consulting job, I can’t use it when they determine my base pay. My friend said that in their eyes, I would be exchanging like for like as in full time job ($50k) with full time job (new job). I would need to quit my side job because the hours conflict with the new job.

        1. Chriama

          It sounds like you have a clear idea of how they’re viewing things and what they’re likely to pay you. You can make a case for the higher pay based on the additional value you’re bringing *as a result of experience gained doing this freelancing*, but if I were a business owner I wouldn’t be interested in replacing your side job income. I’m hiring you to be an employee based on the work you do for me. If you were a superstar, I might pay you to quit that job because having you put that extra capacity into my business would be worth it, but again it comes down to a matter of value rather than previous income.

          However, given that they do base their offer on your salary history, I think it’s fair to point it out when the time comes that the old job gave you the flexibility to earn extra income that the new job won’t. That way it’s not framed like you’re switching from 1 full-time job to another (“exchanging like for like”, as you put it), but they’re giving you more money in exchange for more of your time. They might still pull your offer (they seem awfully heavy-handed here — below market rate, don’t allow negotiation, insist on paying you according to history instead of current value), but it’s a different framing that may be more in line with how they determine compensation.

          Overall, your choices really depend on how much you need them vs how much they need you. Good luck either way!

  15. EmmaB

    Hey guys, I’m the poster from last Friday’s thread with a friend who is having issues getting into her job-searching.

    Thank you all for your input, I really do appreciate the feedback. I want to assure people who thought I was getting too involved that I’m not turning my friend into a pet project or anything like that. It was only the last week that it had been weighing on my mind after our reluctant conversation the weekend before, coupled with the Tweets that followed. I don’t push or badger her about the topic every time I see her; last week had been the first time in months we’d talked any kind of specifics on her job searching and what she’s thinking of for the future. Maybe saying ‘messing up her future’ was taking it too far but I am genuinely worried how her decisions now will affect her down the road; not enough that I’m getting overly involved, just that it was on my mind the last few days.

    You guys made a very good point about her anxiety. I know she used to visit with the college therapists when we were in school but I don’t know if she’s seen people since then. If/When she brings up the anxiety again, I might ask her about it and see if I can gently encourage her to talk to someone again.

    I am definitely taking the advice to start to hiding her stuff on social media, especially after this past week. I was getting good at just breezing over her until a couple days ago, when she was making vague posts about being upset and anxious. I was out with family so I couldn’t call her but I texted her to say that I was there if she needed to talk. She answered me back that she was feeling better but had been a mess earlier. When I what was up, she said she’d heard an Internet rumor about one of her favorite actors leaving a TV show she loves. Now I get caught up in my own shows and movies and books, and can be similarly moved, but I was really annoyed because she made it sound so darn serious that I thought something major was going on.

    As I said, I’m not getting hands on and bugging her all the time about job searching; I know that will not help. I’ve not done anything at this point but try to offer advice when she asks for it and be encouraging when she’s upset. I think hiding her on social media for a bit will help me be less frustrated at her so I can get back to being helpful and encouraging. So thanks again for the advice!

    1. Elizabeth West

      Well, here’s the thing about being anxious–when you’re overwhelmed about one thing, it doesn’t just stay confined to that one thing. I can totally see her getting upset over the TV show because she’s already stressed. I had this problem with Exjob–I was so wound up with all the everyday bullshit that when other, minor stuff would happen, it triggered a massive overreaction.

      I agree, she probably could benefit from talking to someone. It’s hard to do that when you’re not working, but county health often has sliding scale practitioners. You’re a good friend for being there when she needs you.

    2. Tara

      I once had a panic attack– crying, hyperventilating, rocking– when my friends couldn’t agree on a time to go see a movie together. Was I really freaking out about the movie? No, I was insanely overwhelmed by schoolwork, work, family stuff, and whatever else. But going out to be with my friends was supposed to be an escape from that, and when they were dragging their feet, I just lost it. Sometimes when you have big things going on, little things seem huge.

    3. Not So NewReader

      Is this upset about the star leaving the show a new type of upset or have you seen this before?

      I am wondering if she is picking up on you not responding to every little thing and therefore having all new crisises.

  16. Anon Accountant

    Yay open thread! I know AAM’s advice about grad school but am on the fence for myself. I’m looking to leave public accounting and am a CPA currently. Many job postings are listing CPA and/or MBA required. We are fortunate to have 3 universities within 1 hour and their tuition would be $18-21,000 total for an MBA. Any hiring managers have insight? Other accountants that have successfully transitioned out that will offer advice?

    1. De Minimis

      What type of public accounting are you working in right now? How long have you been doing it? Is it something like audit where you can eventually move toward working for a former client or a company in a similar type of business? I know as far as tax work it can be more difficult…maybe bigger companies that have tax departments of their own?

      I don’t know that I would pursue an MBA unless there was a specific goal it would help me to achieve. A CPA with some work experience behind it should help as much if not more than an MBA if you’re looking to move into accounting jobs with private companies. But as usual, it really depends on your local job market and what is out there.

      I worked in public for a year and realized right away it wasn’t for me and was let go after the first year. I struggled for some time afterward and currently have a federal job. I guess you could say it was successful, but it’s more a case of recovering after an initial career mistake.

      1. Anon Accountant

        I have 3 years experience in municipal government and nonprofit auditing from 4 years ago and 7 years in tax. I despise tax with a passion. :). Currently I do bookkeeping, payroll, taxes for doctors offices, small construction companies and restaurants.

    2. CPA in PA

      I am a CPA who also has a MS (not an MBA- but a masters in the field I do accounting for). I went from public to working for the financial reporting team for a corporation.
      From my experience, I would say that if you want to transition from public to private accounting, you do not need an MBA. But if you are trying to break out of accounting entirely, you may need the MBA to get your foot in the door outside of accounting.

      1. Anon Accountant

        I’m in PA also. Hi neighbor!

        I’m almost desperately grasping at straws to escape 1 of my bosses and to break out of tax. How busy is your schedule before a financial reporting deadline? I’ve been exploring other accounting options.

        1. Frances

          My dad’s a CPA and has never worked in tax (he specializes in healthcare accounting — he worked half his career for an insurance company and now works for a firm with clients that are medical providers). He did not need an MBA at any point in his career and I’ve never heard him mention that any of his coworkers have one, although I suppose its possible some of the partners in his firm do (he has never been interested in partner track jobs).

          Since he specializes in Medicare/Medicaid reporting, the month before the annual reports are due (June) he and his team work lots of hours (12 hours a day and also 6-8 hours on Saturday for 3-4 weeks straight), and there’s a fall deadline which is not quite as busy but does require him to work late a few nights a week. However, since he isn’t on partner track, outside of those deadlines he works a pretty standard 40 hours a week, with generous vacation time, and will be getting his first month long sabbatical this coming summer (something his company provides to senior employees every five years).

        2. CPA in PA

          yay PA!
          We are a smaller reporting company, so we have 45 days to file at quarter end and 90 days to file at year end. Usually we work until 7 or 8 pm for the first 15-30 days of that, and come in for 2 or 3 Saturdays.

          I worked for a larger public company before this and we stayed until 7 pm for one week and did not work any weekends.

    3. Hillary

      Honestly, I don’t think an MBA is worth it unless it’s going to move you up the ladder fast (which is why I did it, the ROI was there). It let me move from coordinator to senior analyst in five years and increased my salary by about 75% over that time. I learned a lot, but not enough to justify it without the salary increase. Most of it was less challenging work than my undergrad.

      At my current company (which is large and private), CPA or Masters of Tax is the norm for continuing ed in finance. MBAs are more typical in operations, especially supply chain and plant leadership. If you want to stay in accounting or move to finance, I’d start networking with the larger companies in your area. Tax also can mean different thing outside of public accounting – our tax department has some year end and January-March focus, but they also do in house sales tax audits and other projects.

      If you’re going for the MBA, go to the best school you can get into. My region has a lot of new programs from small schools, and they don’t have the same reputation or options as the established big state school program.

      1. Anon246

        Depending what you plan to do with the MBA, too – I’m in finance and there is a fair bit of snobbery among my peers about the quality of your MBA. I’d guess for $20,000, this isn’t a highly ranked MBA so you may not get the “bang for the buck” you’re looking for in some fields.

  17. TotesMaGoats

    Semi good news from the long ago phone interview for the job that was reposted for a 3rd time.

    I mentioned to my friend who used to work at the placed where I was interviewed and got rejected that the job was up again. So the scoop is that they are looking for someone who won’t rock the boat or make any changes whatsoever. They want a yes woman. (And since this at the undergraduate level only a woman’s college, that’s a fairly accurate statement.) So, while I probably rocked the interview I know that I came off as someone unafraid of change or innovation or technology and future focused. All things that I know this job needs to do to keep this school moving forward.

    So, I feel better now about the rejection and knowing that I would have been miserable in the job if I’d gotten it. Now, I really wish you could do honest job descriptions like the Screen Junkies Honest Trailers on youtube.

  18. Jill-be-Nimble

    So I posted last week about my frustration with my temp position because they wanted to “punish” me for being late due to traffic (making me take the time off of my timesheet instead of letting me make it up over lunch or by staying late). Well, in my frustration, I looked for jobs over lunch that day and found a really promising posting.

    They contacted me on Monday, had a first screen on Wednesday, a longer phone interview yesterday, and an in-person this afternoon! I love the sound of this place. The hiring managers have so far been thoughtful, kind, and intelligent, and they want to hire quickly! The job is varied and interesting, and I would have a lot of creative leeway. Wish me luck–this might be the last push to end the cycle of temping awfulness!

    1. AndersonDarling

      Good Luck! And this really goes to show what happens when managers treat good employees badly. It only takes one petty move for your awesome employee to realize they can find a better job.

    2. Joey

      Sorry but how in the heck is that punishment? Why should they be expected to let you work unscheduled hours just because you missed work?

      That’s sort of like saying you were punished with a bad grade because they didn’t delay the test for you.

      1. Megan

        Yeah, I agree. It sounds like you were meant to do 9-5, but came in at 10, and they didn’t want to let you make it up. Seems fair to me – some companies are like that. Traffic is annoying but that’s why you leave extra time. Often I been very early for work due to leaving too much time and I just sit in my car on my phone and wait. I am unsure why you were so upset that it lead to job hunting…? It should be a lesson: you know how your company handles lateness & now change your routein to ensure you make your start time.

  19. Is there a law?

    Employee calls in sick for an embarrassing reason. Supervisor tells all of employee’s coworkers the embarrassing reason. Aside from this just being a really bad practice, is there a law that would prevent a supervisor from doing this? For purposes of this question, the reason the employee was sick is not an ADA protected disability nor is the employer in the health care field and covered by HIPPA. Thoughts?

    1. loxthebox

      Probably not illegal, especially since the employee disclosed the reason to the supervisor. The supervisor is just a jerk.

    2. Is there a law?

      I just realized this is very similar to the question posted earlier today about salary being disclosed. I guess the main difference here is it is health rather than financial privacy at stake.

    3. JMegan

      Good grief. Some people. :(

      This sounds similar to the question in the other thread about the office manager telling other people the OP’s salary. No, there probably isn’t a law, but it’s ridiculously unethical, unprofessional, and immature. Is it possible to go over the supervisor’s head and report this to someone?

    4. fposte

      Not illegal. Might, however, be a breach of org policy, and is definitely a jerk move. If there’s an HR, I might chat about the way the supervisor is making it difficult for employees to share necessary information.

    5. Katie the Fed

      Generally no, there are no protections for that. AN employer can’t keep information about your health conditions in your personnel files, but there’s no law that I’m aware of that they can’t share that information at work.

      Frankly even if it was protected under the ADA, the employee would have to suffer some pretty severe damages to have grounds for a lawsuit or formal action, unfortunately.

      Boss is an unprofessional jerk.

        1. fposte

          May be clearer to say that some employee health information is also covered by HIPAA–just because it’s sensitive doesn’t automatically mean it’s covered, just as it wouldn’t be in this situation.

      1. NowProwl

        HIPAA is for ‘covered entities’, aka hospitals, health plans, providers. This wouldn’t fall under there. Just not a smart thing to do.

    6. AvonLady Barksdale

      Not illegal, but really, really rude. Also important to note that it’s not necessary– and often it’s not even prudent– to give all the details when you’re calling in sick. “I’m having some stomach issues” should be as far as it goes. Unless we’re friends (and dude, not even then), I do not need to hear things like, “I ate some really nasty turkey last night and it’s coming out both ends”. On a less gross note, I also don’t need to hear things like, “I was SUPER DRUNK and tripped in front of the bar last night and sprained my ankle but I totally got up and tried to walk but my Louboutins are sooooo high and I had to take off my shoes so I went to the ER for a tetanus shot…”

  20. Confuzzled

    What do people feel about those questionnaires that banks and other jobs have you fill out to assess job eligibility? Like what’s the point? The questions will be something like: “If you noticed you made a minor mistake would you A) tell your supervisor out of obligation, B) keep it to yourself or C) ask for help from a coworker” or something ridiculous along those lines. I never advance to the next step in the application process because of it smh.

    1. Hlyssande

      Ugh that is such a ridiculous question because the answer should really be more like a ‘rank what you would do in order, using all that apply’.

      First I’d try to fix it myself. If I couldn’t fix it, I’d ask a coworker for advice if they’re knowledgeable about the situation. If that didn’t work, I’d go to my supervisor. If the coworker helped me fix the issue, I would probably let the supervisor know if it affected anything important in the meantime and explain that it was already fixed but I wanted to give a heads up just in case it came back to us.

      1. Confuzzled

        Absolutely! Perfect response, but of course the logic behind it is so flawed that you literally just have to guess your way through it and hope you make it lol. It’s so frustrating taking these mind-game questionnaires, I feel they aren’t assessing any good qualities in a potential candidate, yet they haven’t been eradicated.

    2. Lily in NYC

      I hate them! I’ve never had to take one but have seen samples. They are so black and white and don’t allow for grey areas. You just have to pretend you are a robot when you take them and give the answers that a teacher’s pet/tattletale would give.

    3. HeyNonnyNonny

      So I once worked on editing the psych tests that certain Video Rental stores, among others, used.

      They may seem dippy, but some of them actually had really interesting reasoning behind some of the questions. For example, a company would decide how salesy they wanted their employees to be, and that would affect the questions and answers.

      1. Frances

        Hmm. I wonder if that’s why I didn’t get an interview when I took one for a retail job in high school. I thought it was weird because I was a very straight-laced, rules following teenager, but I was also super shy, so if they were looking for salesy I probably got weeded out.

        1. HeyNonnyNonny

          Probably– the true ‘personality’ ones (that don’t go into intelligence or anything else) for entry-level jobs like that are not just trying to weed out bad workers, they’re also trying to find candidates that would be a good fit for the type of work. :)

    4. Diet Coke Addict

      Oh, they’re completely stupid, but the thing to do is not overthink them at all. Just pretend that you are Polly Pureheart and you’d spend your career doing the most over-the-top “stealing one penny is morally equivalent to pushing a busful of orphaned children over a cliff where they’ll land on an old folks’ home” and it’ll be fine.

      I don’t believe anyone takes those questionnaires seriously. Like, if you get the job, and you’re a bank teller (or whatever) and you notice an error and you ask the person next to you “Hey, is this something I screwed up, or what?” I don’t think anyone would castigate you for “well, when you applied for this job you said you’d ask the manager in such a scenario!”

      1. Confuzzled

        Ha! imagine if someone did have that handy for when the situation occurred! That’s true, I think you just have to set your mind to black and white and push through with what’s the most “correct” answer.

      2. HeyNonnyNonny

        Actually, some of the tests (though probably not all) have a “liar’s quality” that they measure for (along with honesty, hard-workingness, etc) that will actually give you super over-the-top situations that no one in their right mind would ever choose, just to see if that’s what you’re doing!

      3. Anx

        I don’t think this works, though.

        I have been flagged by honestly answering, but I’m a very by-the-book type. I am also a safety nut (I have a health inspection license) and I think I got flagged for ‘lying’ and ‘trying to hard.’

        1. Anx

          (a lot of the tests I took had a lot of safety questions in retail and food service. I’m probably much more safety minded than the average applicant)

      4. Dan

        I had to take one for a rail road, doing office work. One question asked, “How much on average do employees steal from the company?” One answer was “zero.” And the other three were not zero. The thing is, I was applying for a math job. So I can’t honestly say that the answer is “zero.” They also don’t specify what counts as theft — are we talking accidentally taking a pen home from the supply cabinet, surfing the internet on the clock, or what? I just had *no* idea how to answer that one. So I went with some small non-zero number.

    5. HAnon

      haha I took one online once that asked questions like “Would you ever hit a coworker in the face?” and “is it ever appropriate to scream at a customer?”

      I’m guessing they had some issues with employees in the past…?

      1. Senor Poncho

        99% sure that the use of the word “ever” is what historically tripped me up on those tests. Because I’d be like, “Well, if the coworker attacked me, then yeah, I’d slug the dude,” or “Well, if something was about to fall on the customer, yeah, I’d probably scream ‘GET OUT OF THE WAY BRO!'”

        Stupid literal thinking.

    6. IntrovertManager

      *whispers* I’ve heard rumors that there are sites that list answer keys for some of the larger chains that use these tests.

      I also know someone who got guidance from someone who worked at the retail store on how to answer the questions…

      I’m not a fan of these tests. My old job used them and on my last day when my team took me to the bar we all eventually admitted bsing it.

  21. Shell

    When you see a job ad, should you apply via the job board it’s posted on or via their website link, assuming they have one?

    I saw jobs on my alumni board and on Indeed. I don’t like posting profiles or applying through on Indeed or other big job boards because of spam reasons, so I usually Google the company and apply through their site. If they have their own careers page then all is well, but if they don’t I usually apply through their generic HR or info email. Is this creating more work for them?

    It occurs to me that I’ve done this out of habit rather than apply through my alumni job board, and at least I trust them to not spam me, so maybe this is a bad habit overall. (Some postings there actually instructs you to go to the company site, but even if they didn’t I went directly to the company anyway.)

    What’s your take on application best practices?

    1. MinistyofMe

      I think you should always apply in the method that the employer specified. For what it’s worth ,I’ve never been spammed by Indeed.

    2. Adam

      My natural inclination is that if you can apply directly through the employer’s website I usually go that route, though I’m not sure it makes any significant difference. Using a job board might be more efficient, but if we’re trying to tweak resumes and cover letters to really zero in on each job we’re applying to submitting your uploaded resume from a job board probably won’t give you the absolute best chance of being considered. In my experience a lot of job board ads redirect you to the employer’s website anyways.

    3. Sabrina

      A friend of mine was once told that if you apply through a site like CareerBuilder or Monster that the employer can set a limit to how many applications they get. So if they set it to 50 and you’re #51, they never see it, even if the job is still posted. I’m not sure how true that is, but if I can, I apply through the company website. Sometimes you can’t, if it’s a small company, and some companies in my city use the local big job board as their applicant tracking system too.

    4. Felicia

      Whatever way they tell you to apply is best – if they say you can email it directly or apply through this online form i always say email directly because it’s easier for you usually. But if they don’t give the option, do what they said to do.

  22. Adam

    This isn’t an issue for me because I don’t do this, but still I’ve always been curious: do hiring managers make note of the date/time your application was submitted? Obviously everyone here knows that you shouldn’t job search while you’re on the clock at your current job if you have one, but if you submit an application in the middle of the work day is the person on the receiving end going to notice and possibly consider it a strike against you? What about holidays? “This person submitted his application on Christmas morning. What kind of Scrooge do we have here?”

    Just one of those random things I wonder about.

    1. Shell

      They may notice, but I think it’d be a crappy person who’d hold it against you. They don’t know what your work schedule or what your work day is like. You may be doing shift work and work evenings and weekends for all they know. Or took a day off. Or any if a dozen other possibilities.

      1. Hermoine Granger

        I think most sane hiring managers probably don’t care.

        However, about a year after graduating from college I attended a career fair that was either geared toward minorities and/or young professionals (I can’t quite remember) in advertising. Before the career fair began, there was a panel discussion and Q&A with the hiring managers from a few of the companies about hiring, job searches, and careers. Someone asked a similar question and one of the hiring managers replied along the lines of “I personally dislike when people apply / submit applications outside of normal business hours as I feel it encroaches on my personal time”.

        This was admittedly the weirdest career fair I’ve ever attended. It was also an absolute waste of time as none of the companies were actually hiring and many of the reps from companies had absolutely nothing to do with hiring.

        1. Adam

          “I personally dislike when people apply / submit applications outside of normal business hours as I feel it encroaches on my personal time”.

          That sounds incredibly weird. Are they getting all applications forwarded directly to them in real-time? Why would they even know?

          1. Hermoine Granger

            I doubt it. Applicants were able to apply for positions via the agency’s website with one of those Taleo type application systems. I’ve never seen the employer side of one of those systems but I would assume that if it sends out notifications to HR you should be able to edit the notification settings or could simply ignore them outside of business hours.

      2. Gene

        Well, good managers who think logically would not care, but the entire history of this site shows that there is at least one manager out there somewhere who will track this and ask about it at an interview.

    2. HR Manager

      I have never, and I would say any recruiter/manager who does this has way too much time on his/her hand!

    3. RR

      The hiring manager may not even know — I get CVs and cover letters forwarded to me from our recruiter. She pulls the info off our application system. In other places, I did have access to the application system, so might know, but honestly, I don’t care. Is your experience relevant? Did you submit a cover letter as requested (and is it any good)? These I care about. Time/date stamp? — not a fig.

    4. Joey

      Sort of. Sometimes I pull resumes before the job ad comes down. Those folks may get called first.

      And sometimes people who apply late might apply too late- I may have already found someone by that point.

    5. abby

      Not something I pay attention to. Never occurred to me to even consider this. I admit that while applying for jobs I used to wonder. Being on the other side, it’s not something I even notice or care about.

  23. AAA

    I have a silly, petty predicament that I’d like to rant about. My office holiday party is on my birthday. I want to go and bond with my colleagues over skeeball at Dave and Busters, but I don’t really want to spend my birthday doing it. This is typical. Some holiday party or other is always on my birthday (December 16th) which is *just* far enough in front of the actual holidays that people haven’t started traveling or taking PTO yet. I’m fairly new at my job and I feel like I have to go to the party. My company is small and my absence will be noted. I want to go to the party. I would definitely go on any other day, but I had some nice *other* birthday plans that I wanted to do which were not holiday related. I feel like every year this happens, and every year people tell me to just come this year and celebrate your birthday another day! (But when? There are all these holiday parties around my birthday. One year I tried to celebrate my 1/2 birthday in June instead, but nobody wanted to really celebrate a 1/2 birthday when the time came.)

    Am I going to seem petty for wanting to go do my birthday thing instead of going to the office party? If I go to the office party, I don’t want to draw attention to my birthday, but my close colleagues are all facebook friends and will know it’s my birthday. End rant. Advice welcome.

    1. ZSD

      Are your birthday plans for the whole day? If the office party is all day, would it be reasonable to just show up for the first two hours, and then leave to do your birthday plans?

      Also, I’m sorry that you have to deal with this every year. I’ve always been really glad that my birthday is in June.

    2. HigherEd Admin

      Celebrate your birthday! I doubt anyone would truly blame you for choosing your birthday over a work party. If people ask, you can always say something like, “Oh I wish I could attend the holiday party but my friends and I have planned XYZ for my birthday tonight! I’m sorry to miss out, but I hope you all have fun.” And if you’re sad you’ll miss the coworker bonding experience, suggest an alternative date for a casual after-work happy hour or something.

    3. Lily in NYC

      I don’t care at all about my bday, but if I did, I would just celebrate on the weekend instead and go to the work party.

    4. Sabrina

      I can’t offer any suggestions but as someone with a December birthday, I hear ya. My husband and brother also have December birthdays.

        1. nep

          (And I don’t mean ‘just another day’ like oh, drag. Every day is great. Simply, my birthday means nothing to me.)

          1. Dan

            Same here. I’m a low key person and not up for lots of hoop-a-lah.

            My family is small, so holidays are pretty painless, too. I think I’d die if I had a big family.

            1. nep

              +1
              My family has just had to accept (or not — makes no difference to me) my approach to holidays and my birthdays.

      1. Elizabeth West

        I am. It’s my day to be selfish. Gimme cake and special things. And attention. All day long. (Hey, I never get it any other time.)

        Coworker’s birthday is tomorrow and she is all about the birthday WEEK. I shall adopt this, because I feel that as adults who have had years’ worth of crap to deal with and most probably had to do it on our actual birthday, that we have earned our birthday week. :)

    5. Hope I'm Not Harsh

      I think you do risk seeming petty if you bring it up. Birthdays just aren’t a major reason for the rest of the world to honor you in most workplaces. I did once work at a place that offered you your birthday as an extra, paid holiday! Clearly, in that work culture, birthdays were a big enough reason to not do anything you didn’t want to do at work.

      But in most other places, it is likely to be received as high-maintenance, at best. I have a colleague who complains that our organization’s annual conference often overlaps with his birthday. It is weird and it makes everyone else feel awkward, because what does he want us to do? We got him a cupcake one year. He complained we didn’t sing or anything. It has become an annual thing – he whines about the conference “ruining his birthday,” we all just look at him.

      I don’t mean to sound harsh – I would have a moment of annoyance as well – but then I would remember that it is kind of an arbitrary date and make plans with my family and friends for another date.

      I would either go to the party, and don’t make a big deal about your birthday. If someone notices and says something, be nonchalant – “Yes, it is!”. Or say you can’t make it, but again, don’t make it about your birthday. Keep it simple “Unfortunately I have to miss it!”

      (I say this as someone who has a birthday that is often overshadowed by Lent or Easter, which in my culture are not occasions for celebrations. First we have 40 days of solemnity and I can’t even have a cake until Easter itself, then no one is thinking about me. I’ve adjusted.)

      1. Natalie

        Yeah, I have to agree. I don’t see how you can skip a work party (in the middle of the week, no less) for a birthday event without sounding childish. Most adults don’t make such a huge deal about doing something on their birthday, and do something on the nearest weekend if at all.

        A couple of years ago, I was invited to an internal conference, the last day of which was my 29th birthday. I had a brief sad about not being able to do some “wooo, end of my 20s” thing, went to the conference, and ended up hanging out with a bunch of execs at the hotel bar until after midnight. They toasted me, and since we were at a work thing all my drinks were expensed. It was pretty cool, actually.

        1. L Veen

          In a lot of places, it is absolutely not a big deal to skip a work party for whatever reason. I don’t see what’s childish or petty about not wanting to attend a non-mandatory work party because you would rather make other plans.

          1. Natalie

            It’s not the other plans part, it’s the “because it’s my birthday” part that I think could come across as childish. But the OP clarified they have plans in another reply so I think it’s fine to skip it.

      2. AAA

        I don’t think you are being harsh. I’m definitely not asking my coworkers to recognize my birthday! It’s more that my partner planned something for us that evening, and I rarely do get to celebrate my birthday because I usually am at another holiday event. But you seem to know about this too, C’est la vie!

    6. Keri

      I would also probably just do something for birthday on another day, or else split the evening and try and do the staff party early and birthday drinks late.

      More importantly, I’m sorry your friends weren’t enthused about your half-birthday idea! As someone who actively dislikes their birthday, I really like half-birthdays. My mom always made us (and still does if we’re going to be in the area) half-cakes that were really fun. I think it’s a cute thing to celebrate.

    7. AAA

      Thanks for all your replies! I’m not a huge birthday person, but I do like to do something nice for myself that day. Take a bath, make a nice meal, have dinner with friends, go for a hike. It’s really just that I already had plans before I knew what day the holiday party would be. They are surprise plans my partner has made for us that evening–I don’t know if they can be moved to another day. But I do really feel like I have to go to the holiday party and I’d look petty if I skipped it.
      I can’t take the day off of work (and wouldn’t want t0) and it’s a tuesday, so shifting plans to later in the evening isn’t a great plan. I’m just frustrated. :( Thanks for listening though!

      1. Ezri

        That changes things somewhat – you definitely have plans for that day, made before hearing about the party. Now it’s not ‘I’m not coming to the party because it’s my birthday and I want to take a bath’, it’s ‘I can’t make the holiday party because I have a prior engagement that evening’. You don’t even have to explain what kind of engagement – recreational, medical, etc. Maybe framing it like like that would help?

      2. Chriama

        You have surprise plans from your partner that were finalized before the party was announced. Given it’s a small company, I think that’s the perfect amount of detail to share. If you can stop in at the party for 30 minutes or so, do that. If not, just be sincere that you would have liked to attend. You’ll be fine ;)

    8. HR Manager

      Not at all. If one of my peeps (that’s my term for employees at all my companies) brought this up, I’d feel bad this fell on this day and maybe even encourage the coordinators to look at a different day next year (if possible – hotel/room booking is crazy for come holiday times for parties).

      We also have peeps who have competing holiday parties (SO or their own), so not uncommon at all. I’d go the company party myself, if it’s going to be at a nice place with good food.

    9. Unmitigated Gal

      As a December birthday person myself (12/19), I can empathize. About 10 years ago, I started celebrating my birthday on January 19th instead. I tell my family I want my card and cake on 12/19, but gifts, celebrations, dinners out, etc. can all wait until 1/19. There is too much going on in December, and very little happeneing in January. It works out much better for all!

    10. Tris Prior

      I’d do the birthday stuff and let your co-workers know that’s why you’re skipping the party. My birthday’s in summer so I don’t have to deal with this, but my mom’s birthday is right before Christmas and it always sucked for her that Christmas-related activities always overshadowed her day. Everyone deserves to have their day and I always felt like it was kind of crappy when people told her “oh, just celebrate after Christmas.”

    11. voluptuousfire

      I hear you! I’m December 19th and my last jobs holiday party fell on that same day. It was also my second day on the job. I ended up not going because a sinus infection I had kicked my ass, but as a fellow close to X-mas baby, I can relate.

    12. Hermoine Granger

      Eh, I am one of those people who celebrate my birthday for a week and I typically take off that day and a few surrounding. I also don’t attend holiday parties that occur outside of work hours if I don’t want to (they’re also nowhere around my birthday).

    13. CAA

      Wow, I thought you were me for a minute there until I saw the date. My company is also having a holiday party on my birthday at Dave & Busters. Mine’s on a Saturday in January though (they’re avoiding the December crush I guess). It’s not that I care that much about my birthday, but I did kind of have plans to go out of town with my husband, and I really hate noisy crowded places like D&B. *sigh*

  24. MinistyofMe

    I have a weird question and I apologize if it’s a bit confusing.

    I just finished my masters in HR/Labour Relations and I currently work in an entry level position within a sub-niche of my field but it isn’t related to my major (if that makes sense.)For example, my long term career goal and major interest is to work in learning and development. I currently work as a private sector training coordinator where I develop and maintain our accreditation curriculum for professionals that want to switch careers or remain invested/current within the field of ADR.

    I have taken the initiative to create projects for myself that are more related to what I want to do.
    For example, I did a user experience assessment of our current learning website and then researched and improvement plan that would make logistical decision easier, improve user experience, communicates the value our firm and it’s training clearly and makes it easier to develop our LMS strategy in the future.

    Will this position be relevant in gaining learning and development experience? Does anyone think that working “in industry” but in a different niche of that field will hurt my career goals? How do I position myself as a learning and development professional that is invested in learning and creating value?

  25. Carmen

    Is anyone here currently a consultant? Would love to hear your perspective on work-load, time-management, and general work-life balance. To give some context, this would be more in a senior/manager role I am considering for a well-know consulting firm, with a focus in IT.

    1. Lily in NYC

      I am not a consultant but everyone I work with came from a big firm like McKinsey/BCG, etc. You will travel constantly. You will work long hours. You will have tons of accountability/pressure to get contracts. You will have no outside life. Many of your coworkers will be intense and competitive with you and there are some massive egos at these companies. I would rather clean porta-potties for a living than work in a management consulting firm. There are a few (very few) firms that have a better work life balance so I guess they aren’t all horrible.

      1. y

        Yes to this. I have a lot of friends who are in consulting and I don’t think I could deal with putting work needs above all else.

      2. Carmen

        This has always been my impression and while the role is very attractive, and interesting, I don’t know if at this point in my life I want to commit so much time to work. I did that for a solid 10 years and it nearly wiped me out. I appreciate your perspective!

      3. abby

        Yes. +++

        I used to be a consultant and it’s become much more cut-throat. At least in my former industry. And the sales pressure is placed even on people with technical expertise who would not normally expect to have to “sell” as part of their job. I am glad now to have been laid off several years ago and I would not go back to that life.

    2. CG

      I work for a fairly large management consulting firm, and honestly a lot of it depends on what team you get stuck with. I have friends who’ve been here for forever and love it because they got the luck of the draw for supervisors, and on the other hand there’s a contingent that has experienced very high turnover. As far as management goes, in my firm and in all firms there’s a very high focus on performance and, depending on how you deal with that, your work/life balance can suffer. On the bottom rungs there’s an established timeline for moving up the ranks, but in moving from a consultant to a senior then an associate manager, it’s all based on revenue. If you thrive on results, great, but if not then consulting probably isn’t the best option for you.

    3. cuppa

      I was not a consultant, but I did work for an IT consulting firm in a home office capacity. Our assignments were mostly local with a 40 hour minimum expectation and many worked over that, although I don’t remember many consultants working over 60 hours. I only had one consultant that travelled, and not all the time.
      I think it depends on your assignment and field, but my consulting experience was different from the traditional concept.

      1. hermit crab

        Yes, it definitely depends on your field! I work for a technical consulting firm in the energy/environment sector. We work hard, but we go home after about 45 hours. And we like to take long vacations. :)

  26. Nonnymouse

    I have a semi-followup from a question earlier in the week on when and how to give notice. I am in the final stages of interviewing for a new position, and while I’m trying not to count on anything until I have a written offer in hand, I may wind up getting that as early as next week.

    There are a few complicating factors here. The first is that I work remotely from another city, and am not scheduled to be in the office next week, though I will be down the week after. Obviously I’d prefer to share the news in person if at all possible, but am not sure that’s the best idea for a couple of reasons: we have a new department manager starting next week who wants to have a detailed conversation about our plans for the next few months, and the reason I’m down the week after is because of a major stakeholder meeting, which means everyone is already going to be stressed. On the other hand, I am concerned that the head of the organization will make my termination effective immediately instead of at the end of December (which, much as I’d love the extra vacation, would not be good for the organization), and would like to make sure I can at least have my projects in a state where other people know what to do with them in case that happens. Also, I really just don’t want my news to ruin anyone’s Thanksgiving.

    Again, all this fretting may be premature and come to nothing. But assuming things work out for me…when and how do I share the news in a way that doesn’t leave them feeling unfairly blindsided?

    1. The Cosmic Avenger

      My opinion is that what is good for the organization is ultimately up to the head of the organization to decide, especially when you’re on your way out, so don’t worry so much about your projects and even your co-workers. I mean, sure, if you were staying you’d do what you can to protect them and keep the company going, but after you leave you won’t be there to do that. This org. head may well (figuratively) firebomb all your projects after you’re gone if their judgment is that bad, so your efforts will probably not make a difference in the long run if they are that crazy.

      Now, if you were worried about being out of work and without a paycheck for so long, that’s something else, but that didn’t seem to factor into your thinking at all, so I’m assuming it’s not an issue for you.

  27. Stef

    I just wanted to share the good news with everybody here: on Tuesday I received an offer for a company with a really great reputation in my field and I am ecstatic!
    I also really wanted to thank Alison because, during the second interview I was asked a lot of questions about my management style and all I could think of was: “How would Alison reply to this one?”.
    Soooooo happy!

    1. HeyNonnyNonny

      “I was asked a lot of questions about my management style and all I could think of was: “How would Alison reply to this one?””

      Ha, I do this too! Congrats!

  28. Crazypants

    I’m having a bad time at work recently. I’m not doing things quickly enough, I’m easily distracted, and I know I’m blowing budgets because of it. Because of this, my boss doesn’t trust me and I’m afraid I’m going to be fired. Where do I go from here? I’m not sure how much better I can do even if distraction weren’t a problem, and most jobs in my industry are going to be similar. I did well in school where I could take my time on things, but I haven’t found my footing in 2 1/2 years in the workforce. Should I start job hunting after only 1.5 years? How do I do that if I’m the problem with my references? Sorry for the ramble, I’m just not sure what to do.

    1. fposte

      Is there a reason you’re leaping past “improve at your performance where you are”? What about laying out a plan to minimize your distraction issues, which should improve your speed right there, and identifying a possible check procedure to catch errors, and then meeting with your boss to discuss your plan?

      (And it never hurts to check if there’s a medical/health reason for something like this. How’s your sleep and caffeine consumption? Have you ever talked to a doctor about the distraction thing?)

      1. YourCdnFriend

        Fposte always has great suggestions. If you go this route, I’d share your plan with your manager. They may be able to help with parts of it and it will demonstrate to them that you take this seriously and are working towards overcoming these challenges. That effort could make a huge difference in the fire/keep decision (if that decision is even on the table at all.)

      2. Crazypants

        I’m trying to improve my performance here, but I’m afraid I’ll miss the mark. Even if I improve enough, my boss and I won’t have the same trust that she has with other team members, which I understand, but will bother me long term. I’ve been working to improve the rest of my performance, but since I need access to the internet for some of my job and that’s where the bulk of my distractions come in, I’m at a loss for how to minimize those. And while she knows that I’m not getting my work done, I’m not sure if she knows why, and I don’t want to look like the Millennial who can’t leave the internet alone for the workday, even though that’s mostly true.

        More sleep is a good idea, so I’ll definitely start with that. I’m also dealing with not-exactly-depression-sorta-anxiety-quarter-life-crisis which is contributing to problems at work. I think my hesitation talking to my manager is that the problems that are affecting my performance are all non-work related and somewhat awkward. Thanks for your response.

        1. Tris Prior

          Leechblock! It’s a browser plugin that blocks specific sites that you tend to waste time on. You can tell it not to let you visit whatever sites you can’t stay off of on your own, while still being able to use Internet for work-related stuff. It’s helped me a lot because I don’t have any self control when it comes to the Internet either (and I’m not even a millennial!).

    2. OhNo

      I’m going to second fposte’s advice to look into measures to improve where you are. If you can have an honest conversation with your boss about how you want to improve, and how you plan to go about it, they may be able to give you some suggestions or feedback that will help. Plus it looks better to give it an honest try rather than just give up and look for a new job.

      Be honest with yourself – moving to a new job won’t fix anything. The distraction issue and your other concerns won’t magically go away just because you switch companies. You’ll just be back at this point again in a year or two, worrying about losing your job and looking for new work.

      Work on yourself first. Try your best to figure out what’s going on with the distraction issue, and if there are any ways to minimize it. If there isn’t, and you do end up needing to move into a new field, at least you will know that you tried your best, and you will be more aware of your strengths and weaknesses when you are looking for your next job.

    3. Creag an Tuire

      I was in the same boat once, Crazypants. The trick is to mentally check off what aspects of the job you’ve done well at, which ones you’ve sucked at, and try to tailor your job search accordingly. This may have the added benefit of preserving your references (my old manager was honestly able to say he’d rehire me “for the job you’re describing”).

      Of course, you should also strive to improve your performance and be the best current employee you can be, even if you’ve privately acknowledged that you’re in over your head.

    4. themmases

      I struggle with this a lot because of depression and a previous bad job– but once you start doing this it can become a really hard habit to break even once you’re feeling better.

      If you’re getting distracted going to fun stuff on the internet instead of doing your work, there are a lot of browser tools that can help you. I used to use Leech Block, which you can use to blacklist (or I think even whitelist) sites during times you’re supposed to be working. You can set it to let you be on blacklisted sites no more than x minutes every y hours, and if you try to visit one when time is up you’ll be redirected to a work-related site of your choice. Also, it’s silly but if you use a homepage tab with thumbnails of your favorite sites, delete all the fun ones. I used to mindlessly click them when I opened a new tab. Out of sight, out of mind.

      Pomodoro timers and even simple to-do lists can also help you get going, and there are a ton of options that can run in your browser, your phone, really anywhere you want. I sometimes break out of a funk by doing a few pomodoros (25 minutes of work, 5 minutes of rest), or by finding the most ridiculously easy stuff on my to-do list and doing that until I’ve built some momentum.

      1. Crazypants

        I think I need to delete my browser cookies/history where my fun sites live. Thanks for the recommendations! I’ve got StayFocusd installed, but I have yet to set it up, so I’m going to make that a goal of mine for next week.

        1. TotesMaGoats

          I know I’m chiming in late but I think you need to not procrastinate on this and make it a to do item for today. If you are falling into the internet trap then shut the trap door now. It will be so easy to find lots of reasons not to do it next week too.

    5. RG

      Dude, I get it. I’ve been making mistakes lately too, and although I’m trying to do better, it feels like for every step forward I take two back. And so you start to wonder, jeez, does anybody actually want to work with me? Then you start focusing on all of the things you’ve done wrong as reasons why someone wouldn’t want to work with you. It’s creates a nasty cycle, and at some point you wonder if you’ll be better off starting over somewhere else, if your coworkers are trying to push you in that direction. But then you wonder how you’re supposed to get a new job if you’re references would be people who don’t want to work with you.

      I get it. I don’t have a solution for you, but I just wanted to say that you’re not the only one who feels like this, despite how you may feel at times.

      1. Gal Friday

        Believe it or don’t this is exactly a reason to try some kind of treatment -talk therapy/behavioral modification can seem ridiculous reasons for seeking professional support but… no.

        One therapist worked so well because he took every issue equally serious. So my family issues, night terrors, crazy over eating of Easter candy, depressive/anxiety triggers, why can’t I stop playing Minesweeper when it’s 4 a.m.?, all were put out there as important to examine and sort out.

        Getting yourself better sorted emotionally tends to help diminish being disorganized everywhere else.

        One thing I wish I had been capable of when I was younger was going to a supervisor or boss and asking how I could do better instead of listening to that “No one trusts me” feeling.

        And get a medical check up, it could be blood sugar, low iron, you will be surprised.

        Give yourself a break.

        If you from the future could come give you advice what would he/she say?

    6. Not So NewReader

      It sounds like you are cruising the net to escape the brain pain/drain. Of course, every time you take a mini-vacation like this you come back and things are worse than when you left, which makes you want to check-out again.

      Do you have EAP where you are? Maybe check that out.

      I agree with fposte. You sound tired. You eating regularly and getting in plenty of water? Your car won’t go anywhere on an empty tank, and neither will you!

      Do you like your work? Do you feel that you can make a contribution or do you think of your job like a hamster wheel? Do you have a good friend at work, someone that you look forward to talking with?

      It strikes me that it could be the workplace. I thought it was noteworthy that you did not comment about losing a paycheck- your concern is your boss’ level of upset. I think you tied a knot in your rope a while ago and decided to hang on to this job for the time being but that is not working out for you. Worry about the boss is kind of a day-to-day battle survive. Where would you have to be in order to thrive?

  29. Squid

    I started a new job last week, and I just wanted to say THANK YOU to Allison and the commenters here. My previous job was in an industry that I was no longer interested in – I worked tons of internships and part time jobs there when I was in school and decided it wasn’t for me, but by that time I already had so much experience that it was really the only option when it came time to apply for jobs in a city with a pretty depressed economy. The job was ok… but had a really low salary and a few bad apples that directly affected my ability to do my job. Anyway, I worked there for about a year while dutifully polishing my resume and cover letters, thinking about connecting my prior experience to what I wanted to do eventually (speech pathology), researching the kinds of skills people wanted for the jobs I would be applying to as a kind of transitional step (project management for a social sciencey company), and working hard, hard, hard. Eventually my partner and I moved cities and I sprung on the chance to transition fields. My new job is awesome, my new boss is awesome, I get to use all the weird skills I’ve picked up from my prior experience, and I can manage people eventually! I AM SO EXCITED EEE.

  30. Christy

    I’m on a two month promotional temporary assignment to another office, and I’m loving it. I hadn’t realized how stifled I felt at my old office. I’m not even sure why I felt so stifled. I just felt like I was slowly dying being there, and I thought it was me. Turns out it’s at least partly the job.

    So I need to take the job if they offer it to me full time, right? Even if it’s leaving colleagues in the lurch and I really like my old manager? Particularly because it’s a promotion, right?

    1. fposte

      Well, you don’t “need” to do anything. You get to take the other job just because you want to (assuming you want to), and you still don’t have to feel guilty for leaving as long as you do it professionally. You did not agree to support these people for life, and they quite likely will worry less about your leaving than you are.

    2. Adam

      People leave jobs all the time and sometimes with very little warning. Odds are good if your employer was looking to let you go they’d give you little warning and wouldn’t wait for a convenient time for you. It’s just the way business is.

      If this is a good opportunity for you and you want to go for it, then go for it. You are the one whole will make your career happiness and there is no shame in reaching for it. And lots of people leave jobs they don’t really have a problem with (which for you appears to be all about your co-workers rather than the job itself) just because the next opportunity is better, so there’s no need to feel guilty. Your co-workers may have a tight shift for a little while until they hire a replacement, but it will happen and they’ll continue on.

      Good luck!

      1. Christy

        Sigh. They can’t fire me, it’s the government. And they can’t hire behind me, either.

        But then I remember that my subteam has six people including me, and one of them does almost no work, and the total team has 17 people, and around 6 of them do almost nothing. Dammit I need to leave.

  31. L Veen

    2 months ago I had a great job interview and this week I finally heard back from the organization. Instead of a job offer, I got an email from HR congratulating me on having been placed in a “pool of qualified candidates.” I asked if this meant that the position had been filled but I would be considered for future openings, and I got this vague, snippy, obfuscating reply saying that “no offer has been made” (to me or to anyone else?) but that I will be contacted if hiring managers consider me to be the right fit for “a future position based on organizational needs.”

    That’s all well and good but what about the position I actually applied for? I understand that sometimes operational needs change, or budgets get cut and there’s no money left to fill a position, but FFS, just have the decency to tell candidates that! I really do not appreciate how opaque the process is and having to deal with snide HR people who make it sound like there was never an actual opening in the first place and I’m crazy or stupid for thinking that. (They made it sound like the whole process was just for the purpose of establishing a pool, but the posting I applied to clearly says there were vacancies, and the hiring manager during the interview told me that they were hoping to fill at least two positions.)

  32. Sandy

    I am feeling incredibly frustrated right now with my job search and I’m pretty sure I just need to vent.

    I work as an “International Teapot Design Analyst”. The norm in my industry is (has been?) to change assignments every two to three years, virtually on the dot, depending on where you’re based for that assignment.

    So you might, like one of my coworkers, have had the last ten years of your life look like this: Bosnia-Herzegovina, Mali, Switzerland, “Home Base”, Jordan, and now be looking for a position in Southeast Asia.

    As a result of this set-up, my last six (maybe seven?) jobs have had some combination of an email screening or test, a phone interview, or a Skype interview. It’s never ever been an issue before. In fact, my manager just had her promotion board interview this afternoon by video conference- the default setting.

    The last three jobs I’ve put in application materials for? Not only do they INSIST on an in-person interview (and in some cases, a written assessment, to be completed in-person as well), they don’t even warn you in the application.

    I haven’t yet been able to figure out if the norm is changing in my industry (regressing?), I’ve been applying to unusually inflexible assignments, or I’ve just had an unusual spate of bad luck.

    1. Katie the Fed

      Oh god, I want this job:
      “So you might, like one of my coworkers, have had the last ten years of your life look like this: Bosnia-Herzegovina, Mali, Switzerland, “Home Base”, Jordan, and now be looking for a position in Southeast Asia.”

      Are they willing to fly you for these interviews?

      1. Sandy

        No! That’s why normally telephone/Skype/whichever interviews are the norm. How many Mongolia to Scotland or Lebanon to Colombia (for example) flights can someone afford?? Especially for a written assessment or interview?

        1. fposte

          Oh, I remember you talking about this before. That’s really annoying–unless there are a lot of rich people in the field, they’re going to really limit their candidate pool.

    2. Sheep

      I don’t have any answers for you, unfortunately! But I’m in the same-ish business (pretty entry-level though), and I haven’t had this issue. All my interviews have been on Skype, though with a couple written assessments (from home).

      My very unglamorous career path (since 2012) has been: Kosovo, UK, home-base (for unrelated job), Liberia, Haiti. I say unglamorous because most of it has been unpaid (until the last one).

  33. Mindy

    Our company started handing out, randomly, “B….Bucks”-green $100 bills with the new CEO’s picture on them, about 3 months ago. When asked what they were for, we were/are told, “we don’t know what it will be but you will be able to turn them in for something, sometime in the future so hang on to them.” So today we get a form to fill out and attach all of our collected “bucks” to so that we can get “something” yet to be determined. They don’t know how many are floating around out there and so don’t know how many to require for what prizes (still yet to be determined) so they are collecting them all before they decide. Apparently this is supposed to be a team boasting program but: 1.) There is no method to handing them out, managers just walk around and hand them to whomever they see 2.) We are a 24/7 operation and it doesn’t appear that they are given equally/if ever, to the evening/night or weekend shifts. Soooooo besides not being thought out and totally stupid, can someone give me some insight on how this SHOULD work?

    1. Lily in NYC

      Somebody in your workplace apparently liked watching “The Office”. Didn’t Dwight have Shrute-Bucks or something? I dare you to ask management if you can use them at a strip club.

    2. Sabrina

      I’ve seen similar programs and they usually are poorly implemented. Ideally there would be a method of handing them out, not just willy nilly, but for stuff like perfect attendance, a customer compliment, mentoring a new hire, etc. And they should say up front what you could get for them, and it should be worth it. Working your butt off and going the extra mile to get $10 bucks which “buys” you a can of pop or a crappy ball point pen with the company name on it isn’t exactly worth it. Also, they should make sure they can’t be duplicated. Like require a manager initials or something in an ink color other than black, otherwise people will just photo copy them.

    3. Middle school

      My French teacher did this in middle school. We had francs (this was before the euro, obvs.) and they were different colors for each month and you had to turn them in by the end of the month or something for extra credit? Or you got them for extra credit and had to turn them in? I can’t remember. I lost so many. I think they’re still in my room in my parents’ house.

      Don’t play their game.

    4. HR Manager

      That ‘s a very lame email from them – they could have just said we’re moving forward with other candidates. My snarky side wants to respond with “Congratulations! You are now off my list of potential employers for your vague and confusing follow up email. Good luck in expanding your qualified pool. Should I ever come across good candidates who aren’t interested in getting a job, I will be sure to reach out to you.” But my professional side doesn’t let me.

    5. Mister Pickle

      This is one of those schemes – I think it’s supposed to boost morale – that’s been around since the dawn of time. It’s typically supposed to work so that if a co-worker helps you out, you can give him or her some “bucks” that can be cashed in for prizes or merchandise. Sometimes it even works: a place out in SF called Linden Lab had a thing they called “The Love Machine” – basically, employees could reward each other with “love” points. These point totals were public (ie, they had a leader board) and the amount of “love” you had was used to determine things like promotions, raises, and bonuses.

      I’m not sure this scheme would work well at just any random business.

      1. Temp Anom

        Hi! I wanted to speak a little, as I do work at Linden. We still have and love the Love Machine, but to be clear it’s not about how much love a person gets overall; it’s not published internally at all. We do have quarterly financial payouts based on love but it’s not always assumed that it will payout and we definitely don’t tie it to promotions or raises. It’s really just a way of saying “you did something awesome” to someone that you work with. Sometimes that something awesome is directly tied to work but sometimes it’s because that person said or did something that made you laugh or feel good.

        1. Temp Anom

          Oh – and I also wanted to mention it’s not limited. You can give as much love to people you work with as you want!

        2. Mister Pickle

          Really? Hmmm … I’m willing to stand corrected, but may I ask: how long have you been at LL? My understanding is based on work I did with them back in 2006-2009. It may be that policies have changed. Or – maybe I’ve had it wrong for all these years. I could swear that the Love Machine rankings were public (or at least they were, at one time).

    6. Not So NewReader

      Incentive programs should have clear instructions. “We are rewarding X, Y and Z accomplishments. Each time you get rewarded you will get BBucks that you may use to purchase off of this list attached here. Our program will run from Feb to Sept. You will have until Nov to cash in your BBucks.”

      People need to know what is being targeted- sales, cost savings, growth- what is the target.
      They need to know how they get their recognition in this case BBucks.
      And they need to know what the rewards are and how they collect their reward.

      ALL of this is announced BEFORE the program starts.

      All this has done is put morale lower than it was before the program started. And to make matters worse they have no idea how much they have promised their people- they are collecting up the bucks because they do not know how much is out there. Guess what? They never will because bucks got lost/tossed out/shredded.

      They were trying to motivate people, and what they actually did was DE-motivate people.

  34. Q re telling Manager I'm Pregnant :

    I was aiming for a promotion that came through 2 weeks ago, with a 15% raise. Yay. So then my supervisor who authorized it went on vacation. Today I got paid and noticed that the raise has not come through yet. I guess that’s to be expected given the lag in hours to paycheck? Anyway, I was going to tell Supervisor I’m pregnant on Monday when she returns. I think the promotion will be announced to the region on Monday, too. But now I think I should wait 2 weeks until I see the raise in my paycheck?

    Mitigating factors are: 1. My supervisor is a married woman, child-free by choice, very supportive. 2. A new mother was recently laid off on my team. 3. I have an older child, I’m 15 weeks (due mid-May) and about to start buying maternity pants, but I’m overweight and not showing blatantly.

    So, do I tell Manager I’m pregnant sooner or wait until the raise is in the paycheck?

    1. Natalie

      If you have documentation of the raise, they would be UNBELIEVABLY stupid to delay or rescind it right after you informed them of your pregnancy. If you don’t have any reason to think they are this dumb, I don’t think it matters when you tell them.

    2. YourCdnFriend

      I have no idea what the “right” answer is but if it were me, I’d wait at least a week, maybe 2.

    3. J.B.

      Do you have the promotion info in writing? I mean, if they did let another woman go for reasons due to pregnancy, then you have more issues than the promotion. Once the promotion is announced, ask your manager about the pay right away to see what happens. Maybe get an answer on that, and as part of discussing new responsibilities bring up the pregnancy?

      If you have concerns though it would be time to polish the resume (perhaps to look after you get back from mat. leave).

      Congrats! Sorry the surrounding issues are messy.

    4. littlemoose

      I see no harm in waiting a couple of weeks to share the news, just to let the dust settle about your promotion. Congrats on both!

    5. long time reader first time poster

      WAIT.

      Fifteen weeks is still pretty early — lots of people don’t tell at work until they are at least 20 weeks.

  35. ineloquent

    How about that awkward moment when you’re hiring and an internal candidate you’ve already decided to reject wanders over and asks where you are in hiring? She’s a nice lady, but we’ve got much better candidates and she’s been more than a bit insistent – coming over to ‘introduce herself’ which actually turned into a mini-interview and was weird and kinda inappropriate.

    Also awkward – the internal candidate who is awful to work with and will certainly not be hired, but thinks she has the job in the bag. We’re being forced to interview her, and her current group is already taking away her duties and trying to take away her cubicle…

      1. ineloquent

        I have no problem doing it, but I’d much rather be prepared for them before they happen, and I’d like a solid ‘We’ve offered the position to someone else and they’ve accepted’ first. The other candidates are far and away more qualified, so I don’t even need to make up a reason for why it wouldn’t work that wouldn’t offend. But I’m getting the sense that the other group is trying to push out candidate B, which is sad for her because it doesn’t bode well for her future employment there.

    1. soitgoes

      You really, really need to say something. This isn’t about the employee being insistent. Her entire team is under the impression that she is going to be vacating her current position. They might be putting up their own ads for replacement hires.

      I don’t want to be harsh, but seriously: You see that the company is already starting to be disrupted by the presumption that her current job is going to be available soon, and you’re not speaking up? This is going to snowball very badly and reflect poorly on you if you don’t clear things up now.

      1. YourCdnFriend

        Eh. I’m of 2 minds on this. It’s really on her team not to make silly assumptions (why would they assume she’s getting the job). And you shouldn’t disrupt your planned hiring process (which may be not to decline candidates until an offer has been accepted by the successful candidate) because another team isn’t following the rules.

        But, teams don’t work in a vaccuum and you can’t pretend not to see what you’ve clearly seen. Could you speak to her manager and explain what you’ve witnessed and say your concerned because you haven’t made any decisions yet and you have a strong pool of candidates. Or, maybe ask HR to have this discussion?

        1. soitgoes

          Well the OP clearly sees that the employee’s team is making moves to replace her under the assumption that she will be taking the other position. It’s irresponsible to not say something. IMO it’s even a bit cruel to allow the employee to think that she has landed a job when she hasn’t. The OP hasn’t even said, “We’re moving in another direction” or “We’re looking for someone with different qualifications.” There’s a difference between someone being caught in that limbo before an offer is made and the presumption that she has fully secured the job. It’s on the OP to make it clear that she has not gotten the job. What are the options? Wait until the team makes a replacement hire that has to then be fired?

          1. ineloquent

            But here’s the difficulty: we haven’t interviewed yet, and we are being required to interview her. We’ve made it clear that it will be competitive, but she and her team don’t seem to be taking us seriously. It’s like ‘Sure, it’s competitive!’ *wink wink nudge nudge*. She is completely unqualified for the job, never having done the very specialized work we do. I don’t know how to be more blunt about it to her without just being a jerk. My boss is going to be speaking with her boss, though, just to once again try to get their expectations in order.

            It doesn’t look like they’d keep her long in any case. It looks to me like the sort of shuffling that happens when a non-manager doesn’t want to address performance issues.

            1. soitgoes

              It’s the kind of situation that’s going to force you to address things in a way that isn’t kind, because the retrospective backlash is going to hit you in a way that’s very, “Why didn’t you say something at the time?” I think you should say something along the lines of, “We’re interviewing everyone, Jane, but you need to know that you don’t meet the objective qualifications for the role. We need someone with such-and-such experience. I’m telling you this so you don’t step out of your current role.” You shouldn’t have even accepted her application in the first place.

              1. fposte

                But that backlash is itself highly inappropriate; I’m not going to go out of my way to do something dicey (that at my workplace would actually get me in serious trouble) just to avoid facing people who are out of line. That’s not a backlash that will hit me, it will hit the people who made the inappropriate assumption. “Why didn’t you tell me?” I did tell you. You just didn’t listen.

                I agree they shouldn’t interview her, but I’ve never worked anywhere that had a way to literally not accept an application, either.

    2. Creag an Tuire

      For A, why do you need to wait until you have a hire? It sounds like you’ve moved to the second round of your hiring process and A didn’t make the cut — under that circumstance you don’t need to wait until the process is over to say “Sorry, we have other candidates”. And while you can’t control A’s emotional reaction to being passed over, I feel like a negative reaction is less likely if you’re up front with her than if she thinks she’s still in the running until the day she finds someone else sitting in “her” job.

      For B, you need to talk to B’s manager, like, yesterday and make clear that you haven’t made a decision.

  36. Cake Eater

    Any advice for dealing with boredom at work when you are currently looking for a new position?

    There have been a ton of changes on my team in the past couple of months. As a result, my role has changed substantially. For the past month, all of my projects have come to halt and I literally have NOTHING to do. It’s driving me crazy. I know I should just enjoy this semi-vacation, but I just feel so useless. :(

    I’ve been hardcore looking for a new role for six months and have gotten very close, but nothing has materialized. I’ve been looking internally as well as externally but as you all know – it’s a tough market, especially the higher up the food chain you get.

    1. HeyNonnyNonny

      Some great advice I’ve gotten from AAM-ers in the past is to take the time to really organize all your work files and document all your processes (even if they’re currently not being used). That way if you leave, anyone who needs to figure out your projects will be able to.

    2. the_scientist

      I’m so glad someone else is in the same position as me & I’m really looking forward to reading other people’s suggestions on this!

    3. AvonLady Barksdale

      I now have 3.5 business days left of the most boring job on the planet. The only thing that has made these last 3 months bearable is that I started working from home, which means that when there’s NOTHING to do but I still have to be online, I can play with my dog or bake a loaf of bread or watch Netflix. Does your supervisor acknowledge it’s been slow? Any chance you can do a couple of days from home? It’s not a semi-vacation if you have to be in the office– when I worked in an office, I used to spend my days knitting or watching old episodes of Shark Tank on YouTube.

      Organize your stuff, then work on a personal project. Write a screenplay or shop for holiday gifts (if you can’t shop online, bring in catalogs) or get some reading done. Take long-ish lunches out of the office– go out for a sandwich or to a store or just get a coffee. Do some “home” tasks during the day, like grocery shopping (especially if it’s cold outside). I wish I had more advice, but I do sympathize.

  37. Renegade Rose

    I just had to fire someone. It was the first time I’ve ever had to do that and it was awful. My boss was in there as my witness and she said that I handled everything well but I feel awful… The person being terminated screamed at me and stormed out of my office.

    1. Mindy

      I presume that the person was fired because they did something that they had previously been coached about or that was in violation of company policy? I have fired many people, in most situations, I feel people usually choose to continue to behave in a manner that will lead to their being fired. Why should you feel bad for doing your job? If you let would ever lead to the firing continue, you aren’t being fair to all of the other employees who do their job.
      I might feel bad if the person cried, but not if they screamed at me….

    2. Lily in NYC

      I’m so sorry. I’ve had to fire one person in my life and I’ve been laid off once. I think having to fire the person was actually harder on me than getting laid off. I stressed about it for days beforehand and just felt terrible. It made me realize that I am not cut out for supervising people and I went back to being an executive assistant. My best friend has to fire people somewhat regularly and it doesn’t affect her at all – it kind of makes me wonder about her!

    3. ineloquent

      You did just fine. She made the choices that got her fired, and you’re doing your best to act in the company’s best interests. It sucks for her, but she made her bed and now she must sleep in it.

    4. JMegan

      Oh, yikes. I bet that’s about the worst thing any manager has to do. I’m glad to hear your boss thought you did well – and told you so! I bet she would also understand if you’re a little stressed out about it. Can you take the rest of the afternoon off, or at least go for a walk outside for a bit?

    5. Katie the Fed

      It’s really, really hard to do the right thing and take disciplinary action when it’s necessary. But listen:

      1) you’re being a responsible steward of your company, its resources, and its employees by firing the folks who aren’t getting it done
      2) probably you gave this person warnings that were ignored
      3) not everybody is the right fit for every job. This person can hopefully now find a job that’s a better fit
      4) if you weren’t upset I’d be concerned. It’s normal.

    6. HR Manager

      That stinks, but thankfully not all are like this. If you have to do this again, you may be surprised how quick and to the point many are. Of all the firings I’ve been asked to do or sit in on, I can count on one hand how many were emotionally charged and/or difficult. Employees know how they are doing on a plan or whether they are following up on what a manager wants, and so most know what the outcome will be, even if they don’t admit it.

      1. Not So NewReader

        Some out bursts are intentional to make the boss feel bad or feel worse. That is the whole point.

  38. nota

    So… the holidays are coming! I’m new to the private sector and new to having an admin assistant. What does you do for your admin for the holidays? Do you get them gift cards? Bake them some cookies? I know from overhearing her personal phone calls (she sits right outside my office) that money is a bit tight for her family and she’s working a second job on the weekends and over Thanksgiving. I haven’t known her for very long since I’ve only been working here for a month and don’t want to ask my colleagues who have the same admin because I don’t want to be the office gossip. I want to help her out a bit, but I don’t want to offend. What would you do?

    1. Lily in NYC

      You can never go wrong wtih a gift card. And it’s not gossiping to ask a colleague for ideas about this. I’m an executive assistant and I’ll admit I feel awkward getting gifts from my bosses but I know I’m weird. If I do a lot of outside personal work for the person, then it’s different and I expect cold hard cash.

    2. Sabrina

      Having been an admin, anything is appreciated, but not required. I never expected anything so if I got something, it was a pleasant surprise. I would say gift cards to a store you know she likes and can use (don’t assume Starbucks) or even Amazon. One word of caution. I used to work for a company with a recognition program that included gift cards for stores or even just Visa cards. Made it easier for managers, but the employees got taxed on the gift.

    3. YourCdnFriend

      Is definitely ask your colleagues you have similar admins. It’s not gossipy, it’s helping you usnerstand the office norms. If admins typically get huge gift cards (as in value, not physical size), you wouldn’t want to bring in homemade cookies. And, vice versa. If people usually give cards and nothing else, you should know that too.

    4. AvonLady Barksdale

      Gift card. If things are tight, get her a Visa or Mastercard gift card– something that can be used anywhere, so she can use it for practical things if she wants to. Buy her a treat or two, like a favorite cookie. If she likes fancy coffee drinks but hasn’t been able to afford them, the generic gift card plus one from Starbucks, or take her out and buy her a gigantic gingerbread latte one day.

    5. littlemoose

      I think asking generally about what your peers do for their admin assistants is totally appropriate. It’ll help you gauge the office culture around the whole issue. Since you’re new to the job, you might also want to double-check the employee handbook and make sure there’s no prohibition on gifts, just in case it is problematic in your company for some reason.

    6. Elizabeth West

      Once when I was really having money problems, someone in my old office gave me an anonymous Walmart gift card for $50. It was on my chair when I came back from lunch. This was right around Christmas, too. To this day, I’m still not sure who did it, but I nearly cried; it was so appreciated. So yeah, gift cards rock.

    7. Former Admin

      I was an admin at a Big 4 Firm. Most of the holiday gifts I saw given or that I received were: Visa/MC gift cards, cash/checks, jewelry (for example, my boss knew I wore a lot of silver Tiffany’s jewelry, so she got me a necklace from there — along with the gift receipt in case I wanted to exchange it).

      I’ll be honest — the cash was the best gift. We didn’t get paid a ton as admins and we missed out on a lot of the perks that the managers, managing directors, and partners got. I’m sure it feels awkward to give cash (it feels awkward to receive it, too!), but it truly was the most appreciated gift.

      1. Lily in NYC

        The worst gift I got from a boss was a pair of ugly socks made for a huge dude (I’m a shrimpy woman). I hated him; not just because he was cheap. Everyone hated him. The other assistant’s boss gave her $1000 and I got stupid itchy boy socks. I never took them home and on his last day, I secretly snuck them into one of the boxes he had packed to take with him.

        1. PNW

          I love that you did this! I bet you enjoyed thinking about what his reaction would be when he unpacked his stuff.

    8. LF

      Visa/MC/Amex gift card plus a small sweetener. And ask a colleague who has the same admin. It’s not gossip to ask about office gifting norms.

      1. Lily in NYC

        Ha, I didn’t read this correctly and thought you meant giving her a gift card with a little packet of something like splenda or sweet n low.

        1. Lulubell

          That’s exactly what I thought. Actually, I first read it as “sweater” and was even more confused. Friday.

    9. TAD

      I give my staff gift cards and they love it! I’ve got a small staff so I give each one a gift card for a store or restaurant I know they like or frequent quite a bit. I have one staff member who collects Christmas tree figurines and I usually give her a new figurine for her collection + a gift card. I’m sure your admin would be especially appreciative if her family has a tight budget.

      I like to get them little items at other holidays too, like a cute toy in the theme of that holiday. Nothing more than a few dollars or that they have to keep forever, but something fun.

    10. Judy

      I would also say a gift card with a small treat. If you can figure out if she’s a Target vs Walmart person, that would be great, otherwise a Visa gift card. Treat could be a small box of chocolates, cookies, brownies, or even tea if you know she likes it.

    11. Tricksie

      I give gift cards to places like Barnes & Nobles or Target…places she can get other people presents or a treat for herself.

  39. De Minimis

    Today is our annual Thanksgiving dinner at work, for the whole facility. It’s okay, but I always hate how they do it…you have to pay $5 to eat AND also people are encouraged to bring something. I always think it should be one or the other, and this is the first place I’ve seen that does it this way. The money allegedly only pays for the ham and turkey, and the rest of the meal is from what people have brought. We do have a lot of people, though, so I guess it’s the only way to do it. I think the money left over usually goes toward the Christmas meal, but that has the exact same situation, pay $5 and bring something, although one year they did end up having the whole meal catered.

    Many people do elect not to bring anything, although if more people did that there would be very little to eat other than a bunch of ham and turkey.

    1. HeyNonnyNonny

      Man, that’s pretty dumb. Our department gives everyone the choice. Those of us who can’t cook fork over some cash for big-ticket meal items, and everyone who has a special dish brings it in. And FWIW, we are a huge department and it always works out.

    2. soitgoes

      That’s a very weird setup. I would gladly pay $5 for a nice meal, but I would also decline to bring my own contribution in that instance. But generally speaking, a company has no business throwing a party that it isn’t prepared to pay for.

      1. De Minimis

        I think some of the screwball arrangement is because we’re government and they can’t just buy us food, so it has to be something everyone pays for.

        It was actually pretty good this year, a newer employee worked to organize it a little better than before.

    3. Sabrina

      That sucks. Every place I’ve worked, which granted were bigger companies, the Thanksgiving/Holiday meals were free, and at my current company, served by management.

        1. De Minimis

          Unfortunately, they would be out of luck for the most part. It’s a rural-type environment so I think it’s not something that’s on a lot of people’s radar here.

          My wife is vegan so I’m pretty sympathetic.

    4. Judy

      That seems like a large amount. My family does gather $5/family unit for ham, turkey, paperware, lemonade and tea. But that’s $5 for each of my dad’s 11 siblings, no matter how many people come. So $55 per meal total. The $5 for my dad covers Mom, Dad, me, husband, 2 kids, mother-in-law and sister-in-law. (My sister and her family aren’t coming this year.) Of course, I think my aunt watches the sales during the year for the lemonade, tea and paperware.

      1. Judy

        I should say everything else is carry-in for the meal. And we do use the church’s silverware and glasses, after some of the cousins rebelled against washing the red solo cups for next time. ;)

    5. Elizabeth West

      Bleah, that’s terrible. I’m a big fan of potlucks (I know, I know!) because everyone can participate, unless you run into the thing where people who didn’t bring anything come in and hog all the food. But we had rules around our smaller, spontaneous potlucks at Exjob–you had to sign up and your name was on a list. And it was small enough to where if you showed up empty-handed and ate anyway, they would rag you forever (unless someone offered leftovers or if there was a ton of food). So most people would contribute in some way, even if it were only a bag of chips.

    6. Dmented Kitty

      Are you required to attend? If I’m not required to attend I wouldn’t pay the $5, and just skip the dinner, grab my can of Coke or coffee and just mingle. Or just skip attending…

      We have a special turkey/pumpkin bar lunch items for our Thanksgiving celebration at work, but you’re kind of “buying” it, so if you don’t pay you don’t get any, so it’s not forced on us.

      My team organized a potluck for December, I may be participating on that — and while everyone in our area is welcome to graze on the food, no one who attends really is required to bring a dish (I didn’t last year heheh), and it’s already a lot of food to start with. Those who can’t cook typically just buy a bunch of cupcakes from Target, and people could care less. I’m probably making some peach refrigerator cake, coconut rice cake and maybe if I had time some turkey pinwheels.

      1. De Minimis

        No, it’s not required although I think you get an extended/looser lunch period if you’re at the dinner.

        My main concern is wondering what happens with all the money and where it goes.

  40. OhNo

    Does anyone have any suggestions on how to get web design experience? I’m interested in adding to my skills in this area – I already know most of the basics of HTML 5 and CSS, but I would like to expand my abilities in both and try learning things like Javascript, and maybe even some programming languages.

    I already know about Codecadamy and W3schools. Any other good learning resources that you guys know of? Any especially good books that I should buy?

    Also, any suggestions for good (and cheap) hosting websites so that I can practice building web pages and have some examples of my skills online?

    1. Adam

      I’d like to know this too. It’s not really my area but I’ve been feeling like I need to expand my technical skills if I ever want to break out of the customer service ghetto.

      As far as learning goes one resource that might be helpful is Lynda.com

      http://www.lynda.com/default.aspx

      I’ve been meaning to use it myself but haven’t had the time yet. It does cost money to subscribe, I think like $25 a month, but if you look around or listen to various podcasts like the Nerdist they occasionally give out codes for a free week trial.

      1. OhNo

        I don’t know if you’re a book person, but for HTML and CSS I highly recommend “HTML and CSS: Design and Build Websites” by John Duckett. I used it in a web design class I took, and I really found it easy to use and understand.

      2. Keri

        I taught myself web development, and I started with Lynda.com. There are a ton of courses, and many of them really comprehensive and useful. It can be expensive though. When I was doing those courses, you usually needed to have the most expensive membership to be able to download the files to practice on. I was lucky that I had a friend who let me use her work subscription. Another site with good tutorials, especially if you’re looking to complete a specific task is tuts+, which is an Envato site.

        I have found that this kind of work is really a learn by doing kind of situation. When I got my first freelance job, it was something that I had no idea how to complete, so I just had to Google things and figure it out. However many years later, I still do that sometimes :)

        Also, I think it’s really worth it to learn WordPress if you want to get into development or design.

        For hosting, I would just start with a basic shared plan, they’re all pretty inexpensive, and since being a hosting affiliate is seriously big business, you’ll have no trouble finding a coupon code.

        For books, I really like the O’Reilly ones, but books are expensive and get out of date on topics like this pretty quickly.

        1. Ezri

          I’ve found the O’Reilly ‘pocket guides’ to be pretty helpful (I think I have the HTML and CSS3 ones…). They are less expensive and condensed into being little reference guides. They do get out of date, but they are great for quick-lookup on simpler topics.

        2. OhNo

          I just found out that one of my jobs has a subscription to Lynda, so I’m going to have to check that one out posthaste! Quite a few people I know have recommended it, so it must have some good stuff.

    2. Ezri

      This depends entirely on what kind of learner you are, so take it with a grain of salt. :) But my advice is to build websites! I don’t have any helpful info on web hosting, but you can build and view entire websites offline if you want to practice. Just make an html file locally and open it up in a browser, and link to your css / javascript in your file structure. And you can host those files later if you start an online portfolio.

      Something I used to do for practice was pick an interesting-looking website on the internet and try to re-create it (or maybe just an interesting aspect of layout), without looking at the actual html /css. Also, build on different browsers. Most browsers have little discrepancies that can complicate styling. And the only way you can pick those things up is by putting your flawless Chrome site into IE and watching it screw it up. And you might end up working for a place (like me) where the official web browser is an older version of IE… it’s just good to be prepared for these things.

      If you haven’t checked out Twitter Bootstrap, that might be worth looking to as well. Responsive design is a valuable skill to have.

    3. Keri

      This talk about books made me think of something else. When you’re learning, having a good IDE can be really valuable. If you don’t already have one, I use Coda by Panic and I really recommend it. It has many, but one of the features I really like is that is comes with reference books, so if you have a question or are unsure of something, you can look it up right then and there. The current version (2.5) comes with quite a few, and you can add your own as well. It’s Mac only, but being interested in design I figure there is a good chance that’s what you’re using. I believe it costs $99, but I think they have a free trial (and you get upgrades for life, so totally worth it).
      https://panic.com/coda/

      Also, and I don’t know why I didn’t think of this before, but I have a massive VPS that I use hardly any of. If you need some server space to build practice sites and aren’t ready to buy you’re own hosting yet, I’d be happy to allot some space (and dedicated IP if you need/want one) to someone learning. Assuming, of course, that the practice sites aren’t going to be massive ecomms that you’re planning to have 10 million visitors to or something :)

      1. OhNo

        Interesting, I’d never heard of Coda before. I’ve been using Sublime Text, mostly because it’s free and I can have the same program on both Mac and Windows, which makes it easier to switch between machines (since I have a Mac at home and PCs at work). I don’t think it has all the same features as Coda does, though.

        Have you tried the Diet Coda version? It looks like it might be neat, and I’ve never tried creating code on an iPad before, so I’m wondering if it’s worth trying.

        1. Keri

          I haven’t used Diet Coda, but it does look cool. I did recently get their iOS version of Transmit (which I also use the desktop version of) though, and based on the quality/amount of features they managed to retain, I would definitely be willing to buy another iOS product from them if I had use for it.

    4. Lalaith

      I’ve found sitepoint.com and its sister site learnable.com pretty useful. You can buy books individually, or get a monthly subscription to learnable for all of the books and courses. They usually have a pretty great sale right before Christmas too.

      I’ve also been looking into CodeSchool but I’m not sure if I like them yet. And I’d love to hear others’ recommendations too!

  41. krm

    I was hired approx. 4 months ago as an EA at a large healthcare facility. My boss is new to the organization, and just re-drew the org. chart. I am now apparently supervising a small department within the facility (receptionists/front desk people). I have my end-of-probation review next week, and I am wondering if it is appropriate to discuss a salary increase. When I was initially hired, there was no discussion of me supervising anyone. The previous person in my position never supervised anyone. This is an entirely new duty, which I am happy to take on. I’ve received a lot of praise for my work so far, from all levels of the organization. My boss has vaguely discussed expanding my responsibilities, and I am assuming that putting the receptionists under my supervision is one of those items. The CFO, who initially interviewed and hired me, told me that supervisory duties were not factored in to my initial compensation, and that I should ask my boss for a raise. I guess my question is 2-fold: 1. Is it reasonable to ask for a raise this early? I’ve taken on a lot more responsibility than I was initially hired for. 2. How should I go about asking? The person making the decision has only been here for a few weeks, and doesn’t know the history of my position. The CFO has already told me that he would approve a raise if my boss makes the request.

    1. J.B.

      Yes, it is reasonable to ask because the duties should change substantially. Bring it up to your supervisor and mention that the CFO pointed out that you should ask (!!!) Have a number in mind when you ask (don’t bring it up right away, but know what kind of increase folks tend to get when being promoted), but ask asap before it becomes “just part of your job” that you do anyway.

      1. Frances

        Seriously. The CFO telling you they’d support you getting a raise is a big deal. Definitely ask, although be careful how you phrase the CFO’s support (you want to make it clear the CFO made the comments to you unsolicited, you didn’t go over your manager’s head).

  42. aNoN

    What would you do?

    I have a coworker who openly talks about their personal life. This includes sharing that my coworker employs a full time nanny who does not live with the employer’s family. The nanny is paid significantly less than minimum wage for working 40 hrs a week. The nanny is paid in cash. In my state this is a violation of labor laws. I am outraged by this considering the fact that given my coworker’s comments, this is a clear exploitation of workers rights. My coworker’s reasoning for paying so little is because coworker figures the nanny has no other skills, doesn’t drive, and lives with her daughter. In my coworker’s mind, this is “doing her a favor considering no one else would hire her given her age and lack of education.”

    Personally I find this offensive and heart wrenching because no one deserves this.and I doubt the nanny is aware of her rights. I want to know what you would do? Would you report this? Would you let this go? Why?

    1. fposte

      No argument about its being incredibly offensive. The problem with reporting it is it’s likelier to result in the nanny’s losing a job than getting a legal minimum.

      You might, however, be able to make your point and/or shut her up, with responses varying from a wide-eyed “Oh, I’m sure you’re just joking and wouldn’t break the law like that–isn’t the fine for that something like $100k now?” to a “I don’t want to hear about any illegal practices because I would feel obliged to report them.”

    2. Mindy

      I believe babysitters aren’t covered under minimum wage laws. The person sounds like a jerk, but that isn’t illegal either. I doubt that the nanny is reporting her income or the person is paying taxes, do you really want to get involved in a mess? It would probably just get the nanny fired and then the coworker would hire someone else.

      1. Armchair Analyst

        Babysitters are not full-time employees, as the letter writer states this nanny is, according to what the co-worker and employer of the nanny told her.

    3. ineloquent

      Oh, I would certainly report it. She’s rationalizing, but there is no excuse for taking advantage of someone like that. That’s disgusting behavior. People aren’t given wages based on the way they choose to live – they are paid because a. they have to be by law and b. work is hard and deserves adequate compensation. If your coworker wants a full time nanny, she had better suck it up and pay for one.

    4. MsM

      I’d ask the coworker if she really wanted my opinion on the situation, and strongly advise her to find a different topic of conversation if the answer is “no.”

      As for reporting, I’d be wary. It’s possible the nanny consents to this because there are immigration issues involved, and getting the authorities involved would do more harm than good. It’s also possible the nanny doesn’t really see this as a job despite the long hours, but as a way to pick up a bit of extra income so she doesn’t feel totally dependent on her daughter (who I’m assuming is an adult, given the age comment from your coworker). Doesn’t mean she still shouldn’t be adequately compensated, but unless your coworker is clearly being abusive or you can find a way to talk the nanny yourself and come armed with some resources by people who are better versed in these issues, I just don’t know that you know enough to intervene.

        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          I think the point is more than in attempting to protect the nanny, Anon might end up doing something that makes the nanny’s life worse. There’s not enough info to know.

          1. Dan

            Once you open the door to skirt employment law, it’s hard to close it. We have laws to protect the vulnerable for a reason. In other news, employers often hire undocumented immigrants to work off the books, mistreat them, underpay them, and all sorts of other stuff that isn’t nice. Is it ok because the undocumented presumably have a better life here, than they do back home?

            Violations of some laws aren’t always crimes against individuals, they’re crimes against society. It’s not always up to the victim to decide that a crime has been committed, or that the law needs to be enforced.

            To me, this is a matter of principle. The US is terrible in terms of worker’s rights, and situations like this don’t help. What’s the point of fighting for workers rights when a certain segment breaks the law, and we turn the other cheek because “it could be worse.” What’s the point of fighting for a higher minimum wage when people are clearly fine working for the current wage? Why have a minimum wage at all?

            Taking a stand is rarely easy. Quite often, you tell people here that when the law has been broken, there’s little they can really do. And you’re right. But does that mean the rest of us should watch labor laws get broken because “we don’t know the full story?”

            1. Ask a Manager Post author

              This particular question-asker seems to be concerned about the nanny, and it’s useful for her to understand the full potential ramifications of various actions.

              I actually don’t think it’s always as simple as “the law is always the quickest path to the right outcome for the people involved.” Sometimes the equation is more complicated than that. It’s up to Anon to decide what she thinks in this case.

            2. Anon for this

              As someone who is generally terrified of the day that my mom loses her part-time job because she will almost certainly not be able to find another job due to her personality, lack of education and age, I would not say anything about the nanny. I’m a utilitarian; the right action is the one that maximizes utility. In this situation, reporting seems likely to lead to 1) someone not having access to affordable childcare, and 2) someone losing a job who may never be able to get another one.

              I’m not saying that’s the end of the story, there’s all kinds of other societal stuff that needs to happen to prevent this outcome. But I don’t think I have a right to wreck other people’s lives to uphold the lesser value of law enforcement.

    5. Katie the Fed

      I feel like you should say something to her, and I know that’s not easy, but her behavior is also disgusting. I would probably say something like “what you’re describing sounds very unethical and possibly illegal – have you checked the laws on that? I’d hate to see you get in trouble.”

      Worst case – she stops talking to you about it.

      Also, people who exploit others are just the worst.

    6. ThursdaysGeek

      That’s a bit hard, because when I was young and babysitting, I was always paid less than minimum wage, and always paid in cash. As far as I know, that situation hasn’t generally changed. When I was young and a nanny, I got room and board in exchange for the work. They offered to also pay cash, but I thought that was adequate. In both cases, it could be argued that it was wrong to be paid so little, and I certainly was unaware of my rights.

      1. fposte

        DOL says explicitly that babysitting isn’t covered. I think that’s probably the big “no, we’re really not interested in every piece of your daily life” untouchable, especially since it’s the classic example of casual, occasional labor.

        On your nanny situation, my guess that unless you were under some au pair arrangement that was supposed to foster your personal growth, it was technically illegal.

    7. Anon for this

      I have a really hard time seeing this as exploitative. US labor laws are deeply flawed in a lot of ways, but we’re left in a society where people have to do what they have to do. I’m not hearing anything about this boss being someone who could easily pay more (which may or may not be the case). Childcare is horribly expensive. And some people just have a hard time with “real” jobs. My mom has very little education (didn’t graduate high school, I don’t think she even finished middle school) doesn’t drive, and has some emotional/mental problems. She’s also an immigrant who only recently became documented, and my father died a few years ago, so there went her only income from her whole adult life. She’s nigh unemployable; she only has the (part time, very low pay, no benefits) job she has now because she volunteered at my elementary school, full time, for about a decade. The school gave her a job when they were legally able to.

      Now, maybe she’d surprise me, and be able to handle an unfamiliar job and somehow find a way to get to it every day. But I’m already straining to help out when I can; she’s going to fall through that safety net eventually.

      All of this is to say, there’s a lot at stake here. And this is a situation where a theoretically positive legal principal does not, in my mind, give anyone a right to upend real, actual peoples’ lives.

      1. aNoN

        Hi, first thanks everyone. Personally, I am the child of immigrants. They came here illegally and later became legal through amnesty. This situation makes me think of my mother. She too has minimal education and skills but if I found out someone did and this to her I’d be so angry. On one hand, a job is better than no job given these circumstances. On the other, this is part of our immigration problem. There is a vulnerable population of people who are subject to exploitation because it’s easy to reason that they broke the law, have no alternative, and therefore paltry wages are reasonable. For me this had become a moral and human rights issue. I don’t agree with classifying a person as worthy of less than min wage because of their legal status. If I need a service, I would of course like the lowest price but I would never take advantage of someone. I understand commenters above who’s parents are in similar situations because I grew up with this and I can only be grateful my parents are still here. I wanted to know what you all thought because this is more than a black and white legal issue. There is a very human component to this. For what it’s worth, my coworker can very well afford childcare and likes to flaunt their debt free lifestyle. To me this demonstrates character and makes me sick.

        1. Not So NewReader

          Ahh. This is more about the coworker than the nanny. You could find an article about this practice and leave it on her desk. You could tell her that you don’t wish to discuss illegal activities. But make sure you don’t mention other illegal activities at work because that will blow your cover. Or maybe you could just express concern for the nanny every time coworker mentions here. “Oh how is she doing?” If the coworker mentions details follow up later on. “Did your nanny’s sick cat get better?” In other words, find subtle was of expressing human compassion and hopefully chip some ice off this coworker’s heart.

  43. Into the Good Night

    Happy Friday, everyone! I’ve been mulling over this for the past week, and I am in need of some direction for peace of mind. I would much appreciate it if you can share your thoughts with me.

    A few weeks ago, I interviewed with Team A . The interview went really well, but Team A felt I was over-qualified for the position they were hiring for. However, they were still interested in me for the department, so the recruiter asked me to interview with Team B the following week. (The feedback from both Team A and the recruiter were immediate.) The interview with Team B also went well, but a week has gone by with no update or feedback from either the recruiter or Team B’s hiring manager. During the interview, I did ask the hiring manager what the next steps would be and was told to keep in contact with the recruiter. I reached out to the recruiter after Day 3 and she said she was still awaiting feedback from the team and will let me know as soon as she hears anything.

    It has been over a full week since the interview and communication has been silent. What should I do and where should I go from here? I don’t want to contact the recruiter again since she said she’ll reach out when she has an update. I have the hiring manager’s business card (he said I can email him if I had any questions), but I am reluctant to ask him about where I am in the hiring process since he said to communicate with my recruiter on that. Some things that keep spinning in my mind are that (1) it isn’t like there was an open position on Team B for me to fill (they had asked me to interview because Team A recommended me) and (2) this silent treatment after a week could be a blaring sign that I didn’t get it. But my job status on their career site is still “Interviewing”.

    Please share any insight with me on what I should do next or how I should take this. A second opinion would really help! Thank you!

    1. HR Manager

      In the grand scheme of things 1 week isn’t a long time. You’ve already followed up once, so I would not reach out again so soon. You may be right that the feedback is not as positive, or it could be that someone who needs to weigh in isn’t available that week. Give it some time.

    2. CG

      Honestly…a week isn’t very long. Don’t make a nuisance of yourself to the recruiter (it’s been less than a week since you reached out to her) and don’t reach out to the hiring manager about timelines since he specifically asked you to go through the recruiter on that. Trust that the recruiter hasn’t forgotten you. Understand that, even though they’re your first priority, the harsh truth is that you’re probably not theirs, so put it out of your mind and move on for the time being.

      1. Into the Good Night

        Thanks for this down-to-earth and honest insight. I think reading about how companies get back to you “immediately” or if you haven’t heard back in a few days is a “bad sign” is getting to me. Like you said, I’m going to put this out of my mind and move on until the recruiter lets me know otherwise.

  44. triple flip

    Can a writing/journalism background translate well into a legal/paralegal role?

    A little background: I’ve been looking for a new role for the past year. I currently work for a Fortune 500 company doing marketing/sales work. It involves a lot of strategy and writing. Writing is what I’m best at.

    A close friend of mine works in the legal department at my current company. There is a paralegal position open and she encouraged me to apply for it. It involves some marketing/research/writing work. I have no paralegal experience. She has spoken to her supervisor about my skills set and they are very interested in speaking with me.

    Of course, I have a lot of questions to ask about the role/team but was just wondering if others have made this leap.

    1. Armchair Analyst

      I was a paralegal and I almost never, ever wrote anything substantial or even external-facing. Different law firms might be different. But be prepared and get a lot of explanation and talk to team members.

    2. bridget

      I’m a lawyer, not a paralegal, but I think that lawyers in general appreciate strong writing skills, and could give a paralegal who is also a good writer assignments that would play to that strength. But, a lot of what paralegals do has to do with the substance of legal work, and not something that just a general writer necessarily knows how to do. “Research” probably means legal research, which is a specific kind of skill. Do you know how to use Westlaw and LexisNexis? “Writing” probably means legal drafting, which is also specific. Do you know how to file legal documents with courts? Have a basic knowledge of the rules of civil procedure? A smart person can certainly learn all of those things, but it would take awhile, and if I were hiring, I would probably not go for someone with strong writing skills *and* paralegal experience.

    3. anon attorney

      It obviously depends on the firm, but in my experience being a paralegal is mostly about following processes, not writing. For example, I as a divorce attorney might decide to ask the court to do X. I would expect a paralegal to be able to prepare the court forms and send the right bits of paper to the court at the right time, without necessarily understanding the underlying law or strategy. In terms of document drafting, in my firm a paralegal would draft a very simple and standard writ but anything out of the ordinary would be done by an attorney. But it all depends where you are, the area of law, and the firm.

  45. Jen

    Just venting a bit – A co-worker quit and my boss told me that he wants to promote me. I submitted my ideal title to him and my ideal job description and he was OK with it. This is the kind of thing I have always wanted to happen. I am forever working in departments where there is no room to grow so for the first time in my 15 years of working I am finally going to get a promotion!

    Oh wait, no, I’m not. End of the year budget crunch and hiring freeze. I will get one “eventually” – he seems relatively sorry but also not like he’s going to really go to bat for me.

    And on top of getting a promotion “At some point in 2015, whenever the budget gets better” we are currently down one person so I’m going to be working way more and doing way more for the same amount of money and my shitty old title.

    Frustrated.

    1. Sascha

      I’m sorry, I know how you feel. My department is just like that – no room for growth. My director has supposedly been working on getting me a promotion for a while now, but it seems like there’s always something that comes up – I have to help with this or that, someone else needs this money, etc etc. I feel like I’m pretty low priority, and yet my workload – and the complexity of my work – is continually increasing. I’m staying until I’m done with maternity leave and then I’m out.

      1. Jen

        Thank you. I am just feeling down on myself. My life timing is always like this. I switch careers right before a recession, I buy a condo before the market collapses, I am promised a promotion before a hiring freeze.

        Meanwhile a friend at a past job keeps getting promoted because she is lucky enough to have bosses who quit. She doesn’t even want to advance but she is constantly pushed up into management positions just based on pure luck of being in the right job at the right time.

  46. Ama

    The company I work for is converting all of the full-time employees in my department from temporarily full-time to permanently full-time, so we are now eligible for all the company benefits!

    This place has the BEST benefits.

    But this is the first time I’ve had a job that offered any, so I don’t even know what to do with all this information. Any general tips from people? I need to make a decision by December 2nd.

      1. Ama

        Three different health insurance plan options, as well as whether it’s worth purchasing life insurance beyond the $50k the company covers entirely. I’m young and in good health so not worried about dying any time soon.

        I get over 3 weeks of PTO in addition to paid holidays, and I have no clue how to manage that properly either to make sure I’m balancing work duties and time off.

        1. fposte

          Unless you have people who are depending on your income to eat and will need to replace it if you go, don’t bother putting money in life insurance.

          If you have little money and no regular health problems, the cheap HMO plan is likeliest to suit you best (as long as you can get to its facilities, anyway). In most organizations, you get a chance to change plans once a year, too, and if that’s the case this isn’t that big a commitment.

          You don’t need to worry about the PTO right now, since that doesn’t require a decision by a date.

        2. Judy

          As someone said below, make sure you know which insurance plans your doctors take.

          The documentation I’ve always been given has “case studies” about how different people use the insurance and how they’d end up out of pocket with x or y happening. Read those carefully. I usually make a spreadsheet to compare, but I’m an engineer.

          1. Frances

            Yeah, the new standard documentation is super helpful. I’m at a place in my life where it isn’t unreasonable to think I might want to have children soon, and weirdly the mid-range plan at my employer has significantly less out of pocket costs for pregnancy than the premium plan.

        3. cuppa

          I would also consider purchasing life insurance to cover any major outstanding loans (school, home, etc.) so your survivors aren’t burdened with those costs.

          1. Judy

            Only if you have dependents or have co-signers on your loans. If you’re single with no kids, the loans can take any inheritance for others, but if you have $50,000 in student loans with no co-signers and don’t have any money, the loans are discharged, I’m pretty sure.

            1. Natalie

              Yep, all debt that isn’t covered by your estate dies with you. Dependents don’t have to pay them either.

        4. Johr

          The thing about life insurance is that if you want to pick it up later on, you may have to provide proof of insurability – the problem is that when people are young & healthy, they say they don’t need it. But if you’re planning to be at the company for a decent amount of time and run into health problems later on and decide hey, maybe it’s a good idea to get covered, you might not be able to get coverage then based on your health. And a lot of companies let you take your life insurance with you, so it would at least be worth it to look at the rates – if you’re young, it’s probably less than $5 a paycheck.

    1. GigglyPuff

      If you actually need to use the medical for some reason, like a chronic condition, or have medications. Call the insurance companies and ask about how much they cost and under what condition. Like cost before deductible, cost after deductible, are they covered even after the deductible has been met (some aren’t), etc. And add up all the premiums, deductibles, out of pocket maximums for each plan, and take into account whether some have separate prescription out of pocket max. Sometimes after adding up the premiums and deductibles, the better looking plans actually cost more than the high deductible ones. Also compare, do you need a referral to see a specialist, stuff like that.

      But seriously any specific questions, call the companies, they can input most info into the computer and give you pretty accurate costs.

    2. NaCSaCJack

      What kind of benefits? Health? Dental? Vision? Call your doctor’s office and find out which of the plans they accept, if you have more than one choice for Health plans. Same with your dentist. If you don’t have a doctor or dentist, look around your work and home to find one and call them to see what they accept. I picked my dentist because his office was midway between my home and work and he was a “gentle” dentist. I picked my previous doctor for the same reason, on my route between home and work.

      Regarding dentists – if you have a choice, one plan may be an DMO and the other plan just straight Dental plan. My dentist isn’t in the DMO and the year I chose the DMO was expensive because he was out of network and I had to submit all the paperwork. That said, I think DMOs are cheaper in the long run. My dental plan doesn’t pay for certain items.

    3. Kimberlee, Esq.

      Get the most insurance you can reasonably afford. That’s my bf’s motto, who randomly ended up with Hodgkin Lymphoma right after college, while uninsured. :(

      And I say always go for dental, and get vision if you use glasses or contacts; vision insurance comes out as a wash typically, but all the vision plans I have ever been on have “out of network” reimbursement for glasses that is only like $40, but that easily covers 2-3 pairs of glasses on Zenni! :D

  47. LOtheAdmin

    Happy open thread!

    I applied for a job that I’m sure that I can do. The ad specified that the hiring manager would give preference to candidates with experience using two specific sets of software that I have no experience in using, but I bit the bullet and put in my resume anyway, but didn’t mention anything about what I didn’t have experience in.

    Hiring manager got back to me this morning and asked directly if I have experience in that software,
    plus another one that I’ve worked with lightly.

    I’m not planning on fluffing up my experiences to her, but what would be the best way to show I’m qualified to this
    woman?

    1. fposte

      The best answer is to relate what similar software you’re familiar with (Pagemaker for InDesign would work; Word for InDesign would not), and if you can quantify a learning curve on software of similar complexity (“I was able to reset the parameters to make our database searches more efficient after using the software for a week) that can help illustrate your adaptability.

      But ultimately, you may not be qualified in the way they want if you don’t have desired experience in the software. It’s a good sign that they’re interested enough in you to ask, though.

      1. LOtheAdmin

        Thank you! I’ll be staring at my resume today and figuring out a way to make this work. I’m aware
        that they may say no in the end, but that isn’t off putting to me. I always get flustered on how to explain what it is I can do and how my experiences would work in different office settings.

        The company seems worth the effort from everything I’ve read. Plus, the hiring manager got back to me pretty quickly about her timeline for interviews, so I figure I’ll put in a little more effort for this job.

  48. Ali

    I am feeling a bit restless today. I had a phone screen for a job on Tuesday that seemed to go well and the recruiter said she would recommend the hiring manager interview me and that I had skills transferable to the job. She said she would get back to me with the HM’s decision in 1-2 days..it’s now been two days and no response from her. I’m trying to remember that things may have gotten held up, especially with a holiday coming, but I’m squirming anyway.

    I also got a rejection yesterday afternoon for a job I applied for three months ago (!). The job would have been good for me, as it was a writing position at a college…my field, not to mention better hours and a good work environment…and I didn’t even get an interview. That was tough to swallow when I’ve been involved with writing and editing for the last four years.

    Also, right before I got my rejection e-mail, I found out a favorite coworker had gotten a new job. There’s been a lot of employee movement at my company over the last few months, but this one hit a little hard. The guy was popular and we hadn’t even been told it was his last day. (He wasn’t fired or anything; he was a department head and a good employee.) Our boss’s boss said in our team meeting…yeah we can probably do a better job of telling you guys that stuff.

    I mostly took a break from my search this week otherwise, so I’m hoping to be refreshed next week!

    1. LOtheAdmin

      I put in a resume for a company that I REALLY wanted to work for.
      They were close to my house, and what the company did on a day to day basis was something I found
      unique and fascinating. I did all kinds of research on the company, pulled articles on the internet, and did everything I could possibly do to come across as the perfect candidate. They called me pretty quickly to schedule a phone interview. I spoke with the president of the company and we had a really good chat about what he’d like out of an admin, and I even made him laugh a few times. The phone interview lasted an 1 hour and 2o minutes and I was sure I was going to be headed to the office to interview in person with him.

      After the phone interview, I never heard back from them. No rejection notice, no next steps, nothing. That hurt.

      Fast forward 6 months, and the president of the company reached out to me again and asked for an in person interview this time. I re-forwarded my resume, did all the research again, bought a suit (!!), and was ready to impress. And they never got back to me again. No phone call, no rejection, nothing.

      I’ve taken Alison’s advice on not getting too wrapped up in the initial stages of the interview to heart. I REALLY wanted this job and not hearing anything back bugged me for a long time. Just realize that there’s stuff going on behind the scenes that you aren’t aware of and that you’re being the best candidate you can possibly be. You WILL find something. Sometimes opportunities don’t come as soon as we would like them to.
      Take the week off, get motivated again, and hit the ground running whenever you choose to get back to the hunt.

  49. KM

    When you aren’t given a set time for a lunch break how long do you take? I got a temp job recently and don’t really know what to put on my timesheet for how long I took for lunch. Sometimes its 15 minutes, sometimes more…Most people seem to eat at their desks which is fine. My main issue is what I should put down as hours worked for the temp agency. Its an 8:30-5:30 position and I’ve been putting 8 hours.

    1. Adam

      I usually go half an hour. It’s long enough to eat (I bring my lunch 95% of the time) and chill for a bit. Any longer I feel like I’m killing time. I’d much rather leave earlier in the day than take a long lunch..

    2. soitgoes

      Just ask a coworker. Breaks are one of those weird things that employers sometimes forget to discuss in detail. It’s not weird at all to go up to a coworker and ask, “How long is my lunch break? Do I get the full hour for lunch or is it a half hour with two other 15’s at other times?”

  50. OwlStory

    I got a conditional offer for a county government job 2 weeks ago, contingent on medical history and transcripts. In our phone conversation, I said that Dec 1 would be a good start date. I expected to have the forms done and in quite quickly, but I have not heard anything in over a week. There appear to be some communication issues, and after a week of the forms being sent in and one week away from a proposed start date, I’m getting worried. I have not given notice to my current employer because I have seen contingent offers disappear for others I know. I’d like to be fair to my employer. I love them, but this offer is amazing, doubling my salary and is right in the line of work I want to be in. As the holidays are coming up, I know timing is… interesting. Should I contact the HR person on Monday if I don’t hear anything? I verified that she got all my forms on Tuesday.

    1. fposte

      Ordinarily I’d say let stuff go until after Thanksgiving, but in your case I’d contact her, and I might do it today rather than Monday. Not so much to say “Hey, hurry up,” but to say that the changed timeline has affected the start date that was originally discussed. (I really don’t think you can leave a company with three days’ notice, which is what December 1 start date would mean now.) You’re still really excited about the job, but obviously you need to be fair to your current employer, so now you’d be looking at December 8 at the earliest.

      1. OwlStory

        Thank you, I’ve been waffling on this one. I definitely don’t want to give my current company 3 days’ notice AT ALL, as they are good employers. Thankfully the county orientation start dates are every two weeks, and my start date would be after Dec 15. It’s been a weird process (the weirdest interview where I still don’t know the names/positions of the people interviewing me, being offered a similar job to the one I applied for, at a better location, a good salary, with an HR person that just seems to be half there?), but I’m in the DC area, so everyone I ask about the process just sighs and says “yeah, that’s government”, so this is “normal”.

  51. Santa Baby

    How do you deal with ambiguity in your job?

    Because of business needs, I was recently shuffled to a new team and a new manager. There is work that needs to be done “supposedly,” but it has not yet been defined. I’ve asked my manager several times if she has any idea of the work our new team will be responsible for, and they don’t know either. So for now -it’s a whole lot of sitting around doing nothing.

    Why do companies do this? Shouldn’t they figure out the work before they shuffle people around? This is so annoying.

  52. Stella Ella Oh La

    I’m just here to flip out… We were told this morning about a confirmed case of meningitis in the office. I’ve had close contact with this person very recently…. Trying to be cool but not succeeding!

    1. Rebecca

      Try to stay calm. I know it’s hard. You may need to find out if you need prophylactic treatment. Have they told you whether it’s bacterial or viral?

    2. Allison

      Yikes! Do you know what kind? If it’s bacterial, that’s scary but those who’ve been vaccinated might be safe. If it’s viral or fungal, that’s still scary, but those types are less likely to be fatal. They’re just unpleasant.

  53. LP

    So, there was a goodbye party for me for the end of my internship yesterday. People were overall really nice (someone even brought cupcakes), but I tried not to visibly show much of a reaction when two of the new people who recently started jobs in the department (I applied for one of those jobs) said, to paraphrase 1) Good luck on your job hunt! Be sure to treat it like a full-time job and spend 8 hours a day. and 2) I’m envious of your for your break over the holidays. Because I really wanted your job hunting advice and unemployment is an awesome break *headdesk* Not a question, just venting a bit…

    1. Katie the Fed

      Honestly, people are just the worst sometimes. The majority of people don’t know what to say in difficult situations, which is why you get ridiculous and horrible comments when you or a loved one is sick or some other tragedy strikes. Just chalk it up to them meaning well and ignore the rest.

      But really, I hope you find something soon.

    2. LOtheAdmin

      I really, really wish that people would understand that saying nothing is much better than
      coming off rude and hurtful. How hard is it to smile and genuinely wish someone good luck?
      How hard is it to ask someone about how they got something and learn from it?
      Come on.

    3. Not So NewReader

      Spend 8 hours a day job hunting. Nope. Not going to happen.
      For your own sanity, just frame it as “well they wanted to say something and not just ignore the situation”. People don’t say what WE want them to say, they say what they think of to say. This can be really annoying. Try to find a way of framing that preserves you and does not pull you down.

  54. And another thing

    The topic about thanking a coworker got me to thinking, How and when should supervisors thank their employees?
    We do have certain times of the year where collectively we are thanked like secretary’s day, Christmas, Thanksgiving which our supervisor uses to thank us but it doesn’t seem personal–it mostly comes from the big boss.
    For example, our big boss just thanked her, (boss) for her 15 years of service with all kinds of stuff , yet a lot of us have hit milestones and nothing. So I guess I’m a little annoyed that only certain people milestones are celebrated while the nothing is done for the rest of us. It seems like a slap in the face because while she deserves kudos for her service, does she not think to do the same for the team she manage? We are a small team like 25 people. It would be nice to see a little certificate that says “hey, thanks for hanging in here with me for 5 years”

    1. fposte

      I get that, as somebody in an institution that recognizes long duration and has somehow missed mine. But keeping track of five-year increments for 25 people is actually pretty complicated–is she otherwise a good and appreciative boss, or is this typical of something that’s a bigger problem?

  55. mac n cheese

    I work in a small, highly specialized and obscure area of teapot research. We are hiring an additional person for our project, and are relisting the position after failing to find anyone on the first round (we got less than 10 applicants and most were not at all qualified). I was recently contacted by someone I went to school with who is job-seeking, asking if there were any openings at my workplace, so I directed them to the postings page where we have multiple open positions. He let me know afterwards that he has applied to several, most likely including the position in our group, for which I am on the hiring committee. This person is awkward and somewhat creepy in person (staring, bizarre comments) and made some directly insulting and sexist comments to me when we were in grad school a decade ago (I don’t think he realized he was being insulting and sexist). I would rather not work closely with him, but we may get very few qualified applicants for this second round (based on the first round, he would probably be close to the top of the applicant pool), and I can deal with him if needed in a professional manner. Should I bring his past behavior up to the rest of the hiring committee if his application does show up under serious consideration for this job?

    1. MsM

      I would flag that you have some concerns about his interpersonal skills based on your interactions in grad school, but it’s been a while and it’s possible he’s gotten some mentoring or simply matured since then. If he’s still awkward and creepy in the interview, hopefully they’ll continue the search. (Or hopefully someone at the very top of the applicant pool will come through for you and you won’t have to worry.)

      1. mac n cheese

        Thanks, I feel like I should mention something to the committee before anything is finalized, but we are really early in the process for the second go-around. I actually think he would be a better fit for one of the other open positions, but I haven’t seen his recent cv, so I could be wrong. It may be worth mentioning that I encountered him three or four years ago at a meeting and he was still creepy-awkward. Everyone else on the hiring committee is male, and I suspect this person is less creepy-awkward around men.

        1. HeyNonnyNonny

          If it’s a sexist thing, I’d definitely mention it before interviews if he makes it. Male coworkers may be less sensitive to/aware of those signals, so it would help to have everyone on high alert so that anything truly icky doesn’t just get glossed over.

          1. mac n cheese

            There were so few women in my grad program that I’m not sure if it was just me, or what. He would catch me when I was working alone and say weird things – he once came up and apropros of nothing told me that I wasn’t “pure” coupled with a long stare (WTF?), and another time told me in a completely non-joking manner that the only reason I made it into the program was because I am a woman and then tried to get me to say I agreed with him (um – no). I was not as assertive at the time as I should have been, and never called him on it. My current workplace does not tolerate inappropriate behavior at all, so I think the rest of the hiring committee would take this sort of behavior seriously if he hasn’t learned better.

            1. Not So NewReader

              Use these examples. You can also add that he may have changed over the years so you can not speak to that change if any.

              The few times I have spoken up about a potential new hire all I got was “hey, thanks.” And the person was not hired. I knew I had been heard.

              Definitely speak up.

  56. One of 40 candidates for one job !

    Had an interview yesterday that I was super excited about. The position is something that I have wanted to do for a very long time. I would call it a Dream Job if I hadn’t been educated by AAM that there is no such thing as a dream job! :-)

    Anyway went to the interview and found out that 40 people were being interviewed for 1 position! Even though I felt the interview went well my hopes crashed upon hearing that. I really don’t understand why anyone would interview so many people for one position. I think my chances are next to none especially since the interviewer told me that there were several candidates who are already doing the job that is being hired for. Ugh!!!!

  57. Confidential Job Postings

    I’m curious for any recruiters out there what’s the point of posting a job listing and keeping the company confidential? Is this just a way to keep prospects from applying directly to the company so you get the credit/commission for filling the role? Or is there a more substantial reason?

    1. Judy

      It’s also possible the company is trying to fill a position that is not vacant yet.

      Or the company is completely outsourcing the hiring contact, doesn’t want anyone directly contacting them.

      1. OP Confidential Job Postings

        Thanks, Judy. I recently reached out the person who posted the very brief job description to learn about both the company and the job itself. She advised she couldn’t disclose the company’s name at this time. I just thought maybe it’s a red flag. You have to tell me the company at some point right? I need to know what I’m applying to.

        1. Judy

          I personally would not allow them to submit my resume for a job that I didn’t know the company for. Of course, she might be able to give you enough description that you know the company. Many of the job ads I see don’t name the company, but how many large pharmaceutical manufacturers in SmallTown are there?

    2. HR Manager

      Sometimes company name might bring out the crazies. Say it’s a well-known company and a posting might just overwhelm with the number of submissions.

      More often than not, it’s probably a confidential search (confidential to those inside – i.e., we may not want a team to know we are hiring a manager under a director to supervise the team; or confidential to those outside – we don’t want XYZ competitor know that Dr John Doe our industry expert is retiring, and we will need to replace him). Sometimes a company maybe thinking of expanding into a new market or product line, and will also conduct a confidential search so as not to give away its strategy before it’s announced.

    3. Daydreamer

      From what I understand, there can be situations where the current person in the position is still with the company, so the company can’t publicly disclose that they’re looking to fill that position.

  58. jordanjay29

    I recently interviewed with a company for a job. All of the interviewers mentioned my strengths in the interview when I asked whether I was a good fit, but ultimately the company went with another candidate. I believe I was cordial and professional in all of the proceedings, but following the rejection phone call, I sent an email to the HR recruiter to ask for feedback. I sent the email at the beginning of this month, but I have yet to hear back.

    What’s the protocol here? Is it okay to send another email to ask for feedback? I’d like to stay in the running for other positions, and I wanted to use the feedback email as a hook to do that.

    Or should I just drop it and move on?

    1. HeyNonnyNonny

      I think you’re only allowed one very polite ask, but of course they’re not under any obligation to tell you anything. I’d drop it.

    2. So Very Anonymous

      Drop it and consider that you already got feedback in the interview (i.e., here’s what we see as your strengths). Focus on that information and move on.

      1. jordanjay29

        I’ll probably drop it, but I was looking more for feedback on a reason why me, my strengths and my winning personality (okay, maybe not, so that could have been the problem) didn’t win out over the other candidate. It’s probably something as simple as “the other guy smiled more,” or even as mundane as “we had a better feeling about the other guy.” Still, it would have made me feel better to know there was nothing I could do, rather than wondering if the interviewers were just being nice by failing to mention any weaknesses they saw.

        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          Yeah, they’re not going to give that to you :)

          If they were, they would have the first time you asked. If you ask again, you’re likely to look a little naive/tone-deaf/pushy. Their silence in response to the first email is signaling to you that they’re not going to give you that kind of feedback.

  59. SelenaLuna

    I got a question for the teachers and any who were teachers or just might know.

    I’m thinking about getting my teacher certification, but I don’t know what all the options I have and the pros/cons. Some info: I have a BA in Education Studies (non-teaching) and in Arizona. I have no debt from school and want to focus on grades 1-6.

    Right now I’m looking at getting the Masters via night school, but I know advance degrees aren’t always the best. So if anyone has any information about this and if they can tell me about their experience doing it, I will be very grateful.

    1. Sabrina

      I’m not a teacher. But I also think that there’s a myth out there that there’s a shortage of teachers, just like nurses. I have quite a few friends that are trained as teachers, I would say only half were able to find stable employment in the field.

      1. SelenaLuna

        I’m not looking to be a teacher due to the myth of the shortage (there is one where I live there is one so it depends on location), but of a whole “I like doing it and want to do it” motivation. I help teach classes at my current job and had college experience teaching in that grade range. So I’m looking to transition eventually into it.

        1. Sabrina

          Sorry, I didn’t mean to sound like you were. I don’t know anyone personally who got into teaching because they thought there was a shortage. But I do know a couple who are paying for masters degrees that they aren’t using because they thought they’d have an easier time finding a job in a field they really wanted to be in. I don’t want to discourage you from following your dreams, just try to dream with your eyes open.

          1. SelenaLuna

            It’s ok, I was confused on your comment in the first place. I understand the whole paying for a masters degree and not using it (it’s why I’m asking around about other methods to get certification). I’m currently partial to the masters degree at my nearby state university just because it’s night class based with exception to student teaching, and there is some added value to having it if you do get the job, especially since down the long road I want to transition to being in education administration.

            Right now it’s more like finding my options and pick the most beneficial one for my situation and goals.

    2. Chai Latte

      I would look into what you need for your state. In Florida, you can have a bachelors in any field and complete a test to become licensed for K-6th. In New York, teachers are required to have a masters (from my understanding), but there are different programs you can apply to that allow you to get a masters in education while you are working in a school.

      1. SelenaLuna

        I looked it up Arizona has both New York and Florida’s methods. Both require around the same amount of time. The post-bachelor certification programs has classes that I probably have equivalency for, but it would leave me with only taking an 1 credit course for the semester and I would still be working.

    3. Jillociraptor

      Here’s just one perspective (not a teacher but work in education). I don’t know the AZ context in particular, so maybe check out the Dept of Ed website or talk with your ed studies faculty from college to get more information specific to your state (though know that your faculty probably have a vested interest in recommending traditional certification!). You’ve got both traditional certification and alternative certification options. Alt cert usually places more emphasis on coaching you while you’re in the classroom, traditional cert usually places more emphasis on preparation in advance of being in the classroom. Alt can be cheaper and faster. Which path you pursue can really come down to how you prefer to learn, and how fast you feel you’ll be ready to be in the classroom.

      It’s also really hard to find information about the efficacy of preparation pathways: both traditional and alt cert rarely share their hire rate, retention rate, student achievement data, etc. so you won’t have a lot of basis for picking “the best” program. I’d spend some time thinking about how you have learned best in the past, and how you think you’ll be best prepared to teach your students, and find a program that matches up with that.

      1. Anon for This

        A couple of thoughts about different options for certification:

        1) A specific recommendation: Have you considered Teach for America? You would receive 5-8 weeks of training over the summer and begin teaching in the fall. I don’t know what AZ’s requirements are, but typically TFA teachers receive professional development through TFA and take classes for license requirements on evenings/weekends. There are lots of opinions out there about TFA and it has plenty of critics, but it’s a strong (and fast) path to the classroom.

        2) Schools of education are notoriously, infamously terrible. I’m sure there are some shining stars out there, but ask around: Nearly every teacher will say that their education classes were next to useless. So don’t worry too much about picking the “best” program; you’re going to be doing most of your useful learning through practicing your craft in front of a classroom. Pick a program that gets you the requirements you need and fits your schedule and budget.

        (I’m anon here because I work in education policy and I wanted to speak bluntly.)

        1. SelenaLuna

          Hey anon, thanks for being anon and talking bluntly. I have thought about Teach for America, but I’m really iffy about some parts of it due to personal experiences that weren’t overall positive and hearing from past folks who did Teach for America.

          As for schools of education, I know a bit too well. Oh, do I know. I did have some good ones though, but most were at the community college I went to and a math and science methods class.

          It’s mostly schedule, career goals, and budget. So digging for more options and hearing opinions and experiences from others is a huge help.

      2. SelenaLuna

        Thanks for your input. I originally came over here because the website for the Dept of Ed isn’t the exactly the easiest to get information from, plus hearing from others’ experiences tends to help me out with making decisions and see what is the best for me. So far there I know in Arizona there is teaching internships, post-bach certification, Teach for America and just go get my masters.

        I’ll be thinking about how I prefer to learn and fast I feel ready to be in the classroom since I enjoy classroom learning, but I can certainly be ready in the classroom in a week.

  60. Katie the Fed

    OK, I have a Thanksgiving-themed topic for everyone.

    Tell me about a good deed you’ve done either for a colleague/employee or one that was done for you. Like, a time that someone went out of their way to help someone else professionally, just because.

    Let’s hear some stories – because I think many of us can attribute various successes to someone taking a chance on them or giving them a break. I’ll be back later with mine :)

    1. LOtheAdmin

      There’s a manager at my current job who I’m close with. He done all sorts of stuff like:
      Spending an hour helping me re-write my resume.
      I told him I was looking for another job and was very unhappy about my current job and he’s encouraged me to apply to other places and seek a company I will be happy working for.
      He answers most of my questions about the hiring process.
      Has helped me cope with a traumatic working environment by providing daily encouragement and jokes.

      If it weren’t for him, I would’ve probably had a serious meltdown by now.

    2. AvonLady Barksdale

      (I just finished this and realized it’s LONG, but I’m grateful and I love such topics, SO THERE.)

      When I was fresh out of grad school and trying to get into my current industry, I went on tons of interviews. One company in particular had a bunch of openings and some of the nicest people I have ever had the pleasure of dealing with. I bombed a phone interview but not because they didn’t like me– they just knew I wasn’t cut out for that particular area. They sent my resume to a bunch of other departments in the company. I had an interview in one department and really hit it off with the hiring manager and his boss; I had never even considered their area of the industry, but they made it sound pretty cool. Then the hiring manager asked me how I would feel about moving to the middle of nowhere, where the job was based. I think I made a face. I didn’t get that job.

      However, the rejection call was the nicest I’d ever had– still the nicest, to this day. The hiring manager said, “Please keep in touch,” which I kind of wrote off. Then a week later I got a call from his boss, who was a VP and, though I had no idea at the time, very popular in his field and known for being a straight-shooting shit-stirrer (all qualities I admire!). HE called ME and asked if he could pass my resume around to his colleagues. Of course I said yes. He bcc’d me on his email, and it turned out he sent my resume to a bunch of C-level people– MY RESUME, fresh out of grad school with nothing but a few years of work experience in another field and a brief internship. I got a call a few weeks later from someone at a major company for an entry-level position, I got it, stayed at that company for over 8 years, eventually rising to Director.

      The clincher on all of this: at my current job, the hiring manager from that company recently became a client, which I found out because my boss emailed him about something and copied me. I ended up doing some quick work for him and sent it without comment, thinking he probably forgot me. He replied and said, “I don’t know if you remember, but years ago we interviewed you at X and I’m so happy to see you’ve stayed in the business!” We had a lovely back-and-forth. I owe those two guys so much, but mostly the lesson I took away was that I should always advocate for promising people and I’ve tried to do that. I never turn down an informational interview. I was able to help someone get a great job after she approached me for a meeting, and it’s all because those two guys took a few minutes out of their busy days to help out a new grad with promise.

    3. littlemoose

      Shortly after I moved to my new office, I would chat with a coworker whose office was near mine. One day we were talking and he mentioned that he was working on a non-work project for our professional association, and did I want to collaborate? Heck yes I did! He had done a lot of the project already, but I did some writing and a lot of editing on the final work. That work was published, and let to a couple of speaking engagement opportunities for me as well. It’s been a huge boost to my resume, something that I think helps differentiate me from many other people in my same role. I am so appreciative of his offer to collaborate!

    4. MLT

      A woman I work with was interested in applying for a job at another organization which was a real growth path for her, and she was hesitant to tell us and also nervous since it was so long since she had last interviewed. Our HR person practiced interviewing with her at lunch for days, and we heard this week she got the job! So yea for a workplace that cares about people.

    5. C Average

      On Thursday I made an understandable but horrible mistake at work, and the one colleague on my team who had the knowledge and skill to undo the damage was patient, thorough, sympathetic, and altogether as wonderful as anyone could possibly be under the circumstances. Due to some personal things I have going on, the kindness was particularly welcome. (I actually had one of those “I am going to hide behind my hair until I am no longer choked up” moments.)

  61. Career_coach?

    I had a question about career coaches. Have any body used their services? What was the reason why you hired them? Did you think it was useful?

    For context, I am an engineer in high tech industry. I liked my work after grad school and after four years, I started feeling that there will not be much growth opportunity in that line. So I switched to a different job in the same company. I liked the work and I would have liked to grow in that area. After 15 months, I had to make an emergency exit out of the team back to my old job.

    I want to work at my current position for two years because I am good at this work, like the team and the manager and I don’t want to burn bridges (like my current manager got me out of a terrible situation and I want to pay my dues).

    Again, I am bothered about my career growth in current position. I need some help in seeing what my options are and what all I can realistically do to increase the chances of me getting into the line of work that I want. I want to put the effort in the right place. Will a career coach be helpful in my situation.

    1. Jennifer

      Look on Ask Metafilter–this question has come up before there. Mostly the answers were along the lines of “not really.” I think they are only helpful if you REALLY know what you want, though.

  62. Sabrina

    Anyone ever try to talk themselves out of a job? I had an interview on Monday and since then I’ve repeated the reasons I don’t want it over and over in my head. I can’t tell if it’s a sign that it’s not the right job or if I’m scarred from so many rejections over the years that I’m mentally preparing myself for another one.

    1. ineloquent

      Make a physical list and show it to someone (like us). Other people can be great anchors and may be able to help you decide which of those two options it really is.

      1. Sabrina

        Pros:
        – More money
        – Opportunity to do some work in the field I got my degree in

        Cons:
        – Company Size ~5 employees. Which has it’s own set up sub-cons, like benefits, vacation time, holiday pay, no HR if boss turns out to be a nut job, no FMLA protection (may never need this, but it’s something I think of). I’ve never worked for a small company, being a nameless number in a sea of employees sometimes has it’s benefits.

        I have no offer, so this could all be totally moot.

    2. SCW

      When I interviewed for the first job I had with my current company, I was open with myself about being unsure if it was the right fit. I had serious questions I needed answering, and it required a big change in the work I was doing and I needed to take a cold hard look at if I was willing to make the change. I would give up the part of the job that I loved the most to focus on the part I didn’t like as much, so that was a negative. It paid more, a positive, but was in another town so I’d have to move, a negative. So I’d mostly talked myself out of it. But then I reflected that the thing I hated the most about my current work was the administration and the way the company was run, and that kind of overshadowed everything else. Because that was never going to change, where if I went to the new job I could change what I was doing, and there was room to move, and the administration was less troubled.

      Personally I think it is good to be realistic about how you feel about a job, because it allows you to ask better questions. If you can take a cold hard look at the job and identify the possible downsides, you will have a more realistic view of it is for you. People too often forget that a job interview is a two way process.

  63. Rebecca

    If any non-exempt workers out there are working extra time and not recording the overtime because your boss says “no overtime”, STOP!! Aside from the whole “if you’re working you need to get paid” aspect, this will come back to bite you. Case in point: a person in my office moved to another department. The home office says we don’t need to hire another person, because the work was being handled just fine while said person was on maternity leave. Why does it appear this way? BECAUSE PEOPLE WORKED OFF THE CLOCK ON THEIR OWN! It made it appear we could do much more in an 8 hour day than is really possible.

    Sorry, I’m really upset about this. I’m upset with my alleged manager for not handling this months ago, after she was told repeatedly this was happening, I’m upset with my coworkers for doing this anyway, even when they were told it was wrong, and I’m upset that my already too large workload will now get worse.

    If you can’t get necessary tasks done, go to your manager. Ask him or her if you can work overtime, and failing that, what things need to be left for the next day/week/month, or if there’s someone else who can help you. And managers, just because the numbers look good, and corporate is happy about “no overtime”, don’t turn a blind eye because you don’t want to foul up your numbers. None of this is fair to the employee.

    1. ineloquent

      Also, if you’re non-exempt, you need to be paid overtime whether your boss wants to or not. Federal law!

    2. Megan

      I HATE THIS. People in my organization do it all the time, and we’re in the process of replacing one of the worst offenders. So now, the people who are subbing in for her are saying “How on earth does anyone get all of this done?!” and we’re holding our breath that her replacement doesn’t quit within a week. It really needs to be a two person job, but nobody knew that because she was always staying late and working through lunches.

    3. Johr

      And in addition to all the reasons you mentioned, your HR and payroll people do like to abide by the law, but if you’re not putting it on your timesheet, we can’t pay you properly!

    4. RB

      Amen. I transferred from one office to another about a year and a half ago. At my former office, leadership made it very clear that there was zero tolerance for working off the clock. Any non-exempt employees caught working off the clock would be fired – no exceptions and no excuses. At my current office, leadership doesn’t outright encourage us to work off the clock, but they’ll happily look the other way if we do. It’s incredibly frustrating.

  64. ScoobyDoo

    In my position, all of my assignments and career growth are determined by my manager. Recently, the entire teams assignments were released, and it was very apparent that my assignments were behind those that started at the same time or after me. I met with my manager to ask for feedback and get some understanding as to why my assignments weren’t at the same caliber and what I need to change or do better to get those higher projects. The feedback I got was ” Ben and Jerry have many more years of experience before joining us here so I don’t need to rotate them through the smaller projects.” Ok, fair enough. Then I asked why certain projects were given to another coworker over my when we started at the same time and I have more availability. The response was ” How do I say this? Well, Lucy has the gift of taking large complex projects and making everyone comfortable. You have a direct personality, and that can cause conflict.” I’ve never had negative feedback on my performance or had internal meetings to fix altercations with peers, ever. My manager then told me not to change what I am doing, and that it’s not because I am not capable that I am not getting the larger project * Subtext being that I am not getting them because internal people don’t like working with me*. At this point, I am being held stagnant and have 4 months worth of empty time/ no projects in a row next year because of this. Does anyone have any advice for how to handle this? Do I just put my head down here and work to find another position? Do I go back to my manager to push back on this? How am I being downgraded because of my personality, but then told not to change it and not given specifics on the issues?I am lost a sea on this one.

    1. Katie the Fed

      This is REALLY important feedback: “You have a direct personality, and that can cause conflict” and I urge you to reflect on it with an open mind. Whether or not you agree with it, it’s how you’re coming across. And it WILL limit you, even if you haven’t been formally counseled on it in the past. It’s really hard to give someone feedback that is essentially about their personality, but it’s important.

      I don’t think you should push back, but I think you should tell your manager that you want to work on developing that ability and ask for her to give you bigger projects that will let you work on it. Are there other ways you can demonstrate it?

      1. ScoobyDoo

        I have heavily reflected on that feedback, but the issue is that she also told me NOT to change who I am in the same conversation and that my personality works in specific situations. I have asked for the ability to work on bigger projects that would allow me to improve on it, however, she doesn’t seem willing to give it. I have essentially been categorized as being the person to deal with the smaller projects that require a great deal more hand holding and directing of the clients, rather than the larger complex clients that require a great deal more internal communication. I agree that feedback is important. I’ve always been the type that initially people read into me and after a certain amount of time and getting to know me, I am well loved. It takes a bit of actually having a conversation or two to realize that there is no under lying meaning to what I say or do. I am just very straight forward…which doesn’t go well with indirect or insecure people. Also, a note to make, this is the first I am hearing of this from my manager and I have been here over a year. Prior to this, all my feedback has been that I am very good at my job and keep doing what I am doing. In fact, the end of this conversation I was told to keep doing what I am doing. So how do I fix what I am told isn’t an issue, but indirectly is?

        1. Katie the Fed

          Well, as managers we have to assign people to projects based on their strengths – and find those that minimize their weaknesses. You sound very comfortable with who you are and like you’re not planning to change that – which is totally fine, but you should understand that if you’re not going to adapt, you can’t really expect everything to adapt to you. You’ve got projects that you can do that work with your personality (in your manager’s eyes). It sounds like that’s as good as you’re going to get at that employer unless you’re willing to try to moderate your style, which you’re not. So….that’s probably where you are. If you want bigger opportunities, you’ll probably have to look elsehwere or wait for a manager who doesn’t view your personality as a limiting factor.

        2. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)

          Two things this makes me think of:

          1) Are you a woman? Women are much more likely to get this kind of personality critique, and that’s sexist, bullshit, and frustrating. I realize that that isn’t actionable help, but perhaps it’s helpful context for you as you think about how to interpret and internalize this feedback.

          2) I don’t think your options are revamp your personality vs. be frozen out of the more complex projects. Are there ways that you can work with your manager to walk through what it would look like for someone with your assets and challenges to be successful in that kind of work? Strategies you could try?

          I hear what Katie is saying about managers assigning projects to the staffers with the best skills for each given project. But this isn’t a hard skill we’re talking about; it’s subjective. If Scooby’s personality is problematic enough to mean that she truly can’t work with internal stakeholders (i.e., if she’s rude, abusive, etc.) then her manager should be either coaching her to improve or firing her. But if it’s just a different style, then both Scooby and her colleagues should be working for a way to work together; it’s not all on her.

          1. fposte

            But if the manager really is fine with Scooby where she is, there’s not much incentive for the manager to guide her to change.

    2. fposte

      Don’t push your manager, ask her. “I’ve been thinking about the feedback you’ve given me about what’s limiting me in getting projects. I’d really like to do what I can to minimize these obstacles–would you be willing to help me in identifying some goals that would advance my work with the team?”

      1. ScoobyDoo

        Well, that is what I went into the meeting asking. I didn’t really get feedback on how to minimize obstacles. I was told that my personality works in very specific situations ( i.e the smaller projects/clients) and not to change anything I am doing.

        1. fposte

          Some of this sounds like it might be a reasonable assessment–you sound, in the paragraph above, pretty clear in your self-description about who you are and who you appeal to, without indicating any plans to change that, and your boss has decided to draw on your strengths.

          I would probably have a followup conversation before I hit the streets, but it does sound like you’re not going to get assigned the bigger projects there. It might be worth thinking either way about whether that could be okay because it is maximizing your strengths, or if you could self-develop some of the skills that are being prioritized with those given bigger projects.

          I don’t necessarily see anything huge in you only hearing about this after a year, by the way. It would be nice to get more mentoring than you’ve gotten, but it sounds like it’s not been a performance problem for them, especially if they usually have some people doing small and some people doing large anyway.

          1. ScoobyDoo

            Well, I would be willing to change it if I could understand what exactly is the problem. All I have is that I am direct. I’m not being told I am rude, or speaking down, or condescending. Just direct. I see my male counterparts be even more direct ( and quite frankly down right rude to other staff) than I am, and it’s never an issue and they get larger projects and no ones feelings are hurt. I see my female counterpart that started at the same time as me fluffing every single thing said to people, and she is getting larger projects. So it feels very much like if I were male, it wouldn’t be an issue, and because I am female, my being direct/to the point is an issue because I *should* be fluffing. I don’t feel like working on small projects and having 4 months of free time out of the year as something valuable.

            1. fposte

              There’s a mixed message here, though–you’d be willing to change, but you also suspect that the change they really want is one you’re not willing to make. Which is a call you get to make, especially if it’s as gendered as you think.

              If what they want isn’t what you’re willing to give, you have to decide either to accept what you’ll get as a result there or look elsewhere. But if their concern is that you’re too direct, you really aren’t going to be able to push them into thinking that you’re not.

            2. Observer

              Well, you are almost certainly right that the fact that you are a woman is affecting how people see you. But that’s likely to be an issue anywhere.

              Two related things that struck me. Firstly, when you described your initial conversation with your manager, you indicated that you are surprised because you never “had internal meetings to fix altercations with peers”. Even assuming that your employer / manager’s style is to get involved in those things, it’s hardly an indicator that you work well with people. Not getting into fights with people is a very low bar, and a far cry from working WELL with people, much less leading teams effectively.

              Also, you comment about how the other woman “fluffs” everything she says and you don’t. That’s a fairly derogatory way of putting things. Does that mean that she does not know what she is doing, or that she fails to give people the necessary feedback? Or is she doing what she needs to bu taking some extra effort to be tactful and make people feel better about things? If the former, then you probably need to start thinking about a “lateral move” (to a different company.) If the latter, it’s worth thinking about what you can learn from her.

              Is that fair? No – you shouldn’t be held to a different standard just because you are a woman. But the reality is that this is going to be a problem wherever you go. If you are not ready to fight that (and it’s EXTREMELY difficult to fight), then you either learn that skill or you are held back.

              What your boss is essentially saying to you is that you don’t have the personality, in his opinion, to lead teams effectively. However, in smaller projects, your personality is just fine, and your competence is valuable enough that he’s not going to lay you off. But either he doesn’t think you can effectively change, or he doesn’t want to take the trouble to help you achieve this.

        2. Mockingjay

          I am guessing this is a case where you made the “mistake” of doing something you don’t like, well. Management wants to keep you exactly where you are, because you work well with clients. You are cost-effective and efficient in that slot.
          You sound like a self-starter, which may be another reason to be assigned smaller projects, as you probably work autonomously. Manager may think, “what a relief to have a person that I don’t have to babysit.”
          As for the lame feedback about your personality, perhaps you caught your manager off-guard with your request, and this was a knee-jerk response.

    3. Ann O'Nemity

      Perhaps the subtext is:

      “ScoobyDoo, you have a direct personality, which is better suited for small projects. Since I need someone to focus on small projects, you’re not going to be assigned to big projects. That sucks for your career growth here, but it’s good for the business needs. So don’t change your personality because I need you to stay where you are.”

      1. Tris Prior

        That’s how I read this too. It sucks – I’ve had bosses who have had that attitude.

        OP – would you still want the bigger projects if it meant you had to run them by always being indirect, not speaking your mind or asking for what you need, and sugarcoating everything you said? Because, I’m a direct person too and having to speak in happy fluffy cupcake language all the time would drive me insane.

        1. Windchime

          Not only that, but I don’t even know how to speak in the fluffy happy cupcake language (unless we are talking about actual cupcakes, and then I’m all over that).

          I’m female and I’m also fairly direct , but as I’m being direct I also work hard at trying to be sensitive to people’s feelings and to not be hurtful. Sometimes people who pride themselves on having a “no bullshit, straight to the point” communication style can actually be blunt to the point of rudeness. I’m not trying to say that’s what Scooby is doing at all; just that it’s something to be aware of. Sometimes when I feel that I can’t be as direct as I’d like, I say nothing because I’m also conflict-avoidant.

          It’s possible to be direct while being kind; this is how I see Alison’s style of communication. Frank and direct, but still kind. That’s how I want to be when I grow up.

      2. Not So NewReader

        This is how I read it, too. ” ScoobyDoo, you have maxed out with us because no one wants to do what you do and therefore you are going to continue doing it because I say so.”

        I had this done to me and I have seen it done to others. Basically, when the boss(es) decide that you will be doing x, then you are going to be doing x. And that is that.
        So there are several things you can look at here. Is there a way to take what you are doing and pump it up into something bigger? Yeah, there’s a look-at-me factor to this sort of like grandstanding BUT there other side is that you don’t want to stagnate, you want to grow yourself in ways that are available to you.
        You could decide to coast along as is and just bide your time until you can locate that new job.
        Or you could quit. (not recommended)

        What jumped out at me is that you say you have nothing to do. Now that is worrisome. What can you do to fill in your down times? You might want to approach the boss with this: “Boss, I understand you want me doing X, and that is fine. However, I do have some down times, my days are not as full as they could be so I was thinking about doing Y. Would that be alright with you?” Chose Y wisely, pick a project that you can do on your own, that does not have a killer time frame that will interfere with X. Yet you know that the boss would be happy to have someone covering Y and getting that done.

        See, if the boss sets a person off to one side to do a particular task there are advantages that other people do not have. This person can take on some of the odd stuff that comes up and just handle it. It does not take long and this person develops a pool of knowledge and experiences that others in the department just do not have. Start looking around and saying “how can I make this work FOR me?” Remember it is the wide variety of experiences we have that make us intriguing to other employers.

        Notice I am avoiding that whole personality thing. I tend to think that when the conversation is unclear, as in your case, it is nothing but a bunch of mumbo-jumbo. It’s easier for the boss to explain that there is something wrong with you, than it is to say “I have decided you will do X, because you give me the least amount of crap of everyone here.” [Oh, if I give you more crap about it, then you will take me off of it????] I have dealt with all kinds of personality “issues” and there are ways to help people more often than not. So I am not totally convinced you have a real personality conflict here. My advice there is to rise above the complaint. Chin up. Do your best each day.

    4. Jules

      Working on big complex projects can be like herding geese. You get bit and they go where they want to go. The key is in seeing the big picture and not caring about being right. You can be right, but how important is being right in the grand scheme of getting the project done.

      I just came off my 12 months (“It would only be 12 weeks project”.) Do I like what I do? Yes. Did I do it well? Yes. Did I hate the human factor? Oh, God, yes! Was I direct to all team members? Yes. Did it work? No. What worked? Spending time one on one getting an understanding of where everyone is mentally and emotionally and working to get all of us there. Did I work on fluff? Yes. Politics? Hell, yes. Did I get burned by passive aggresive and political people? Yes. Did management do anything about it? No, they expect me to manage it. I even had to work with someone who outright hates me.

      Direct is good, I love direct people. At least I know where they stand at all times. But to work on large scale complex project, you need to change your communication type depending on who you speak to. You don’t get to play zero sum game. You need to re-phrase, re-frame ideas/thoughts differently for different people. You praise, listen, spend time with each stakeholders in order to get things done.

      I don’t care if you are male or female. If you bulldoze though a project, it gets done, sure but you probably burn bridges and I outright told my boss that I don’t want to work in the project with the person who hates me ever again. Short term, his method might get him something, but it’s hard to say long term if it gets him anywhere.

      I am not saying what other people is doing is valid or invalid, I am saying you need to take a good hard look at yourself and decide what you want to be and figure out what kinds of behavior will support you getting where you want to go. Forget about co-worker, forget about your boss. This is about you. Read Harvard Business Review about behavior of a leader. Find books about influncing people. Decide and make the change.

  65. tango

    Ok, regarding thank you notes after interviewing for an internal promotion. Should they be sent via personal email during off hours? Me and a coworker are disagreeing. She thinks it’s ok to send via work email during work hours. I think it’s not proper to use work email since it’s not job related correspondence but personal. And it’s not work directly related to the job you currently have so you should not be doing it on company time. Now, this is not life or death issue, but I’m curious what others think.

    1. Sadsack

      I would not use work email to correspond about my interest in working at another company, period. Not a thank-you email, or a status request, or anything. Use your personal email. Aside from the issue of use of company resources, what if your work email is monitored? Do you want your current employer to know you are looking? I wonder what a prospective employer would think of receiving an email from someone using their current work email? Maybe nothing, but it would seem to me like the candidate is a little clueless.

        1. Sadsack

          Crap – I didn’t even see that! I have Friday-brain, I guess, that’ll be my excuse anyway.

          Ok, OP, I completely change my response. Of course your work email is appropriate. You don’t have to only be corresponding about your current job to use that. If you are sent any communications via email about the new job from hiring manager or HR, where do you think they are going to send them? Probably to your work email.

          1. tango

            No, the initial contact was via personal email, and then a phone call on the work extension to set up the first interview and then both an email to the personal and work email addresses to set up an another interview. Only because they wanted to put on all the parties involved OUTLOOK calender.

    2. AvonLady Barksdale

      But it IS job-related– I agree with your co-worker. Are we talking about thanking your boss for pushing through your promotion? Then a quick, “Thanks, boss, I appreciate your going to bat for me” is a perfectly fine work email to send. They didn’t give you the promotion– you earned it by doing your job.

      Don’t send a thank-you gift, flowers, anything like that. A colleague of mine has done that with two promotions, and I think it’s silly for the reasons I stated above.

    3. CollegeAdmin

      I think it’s appropriate to use your work email account, but maybe as a compromise, send it while on your lunch break (i.e. between 12 and 1pm or whatever). That way, you’re not using work time to do quasi-personal stuff, but I think it would be weird to use your non-work email account.

  66. Hermoine Granger

    I’m currently unemployed and have applied for positions at several companies. At present I’m in active discussions with three companies and have concerns with all of them.

    Two of the positions I’d accept (if offered) just to have a job but would most likely keep looking for something better even after I start the position. To be honest, I’ve been turned off by these two companies due to their handling of the interview process (ex: being unresponsive, saying they’d call on a specific day but refusing to provide a time or time range, sending a “confirmed” interview day and time without asking if it works for me, not calling on the day they said they would or at least sending an email to cancel, etc). One company is offering a relatively low salary when the possible work/life balance is in taken into account. I have no idea what the salary is for the other position but the second round includes a lengthy assignment, additional details they’ve provided about the job after the interview makes it sound boring, and I’m concerned support for the position won’t be a priority for the department.

    The third position I’d accept and stop looking if offered a decent salary and benefits and would only leave if offered an amazing salary for a position at a dream company (ex: Google, IBM, or international law firm). However, they seem to still be trying to figure out the position and I fear accepting the position only to have it change drastically after I start. I can’t comment on their interview followup as it’s still early.

    Am I a bit off with my expectations and concerns? Would I be wrong to accept a position if I know I’d leave if something better came along? How do you arrange to attend interviews for better positions if you’re in a new position?

    Background:
    – I have unemployment and savings but I really hate being unemployed and would prefer to work. Not to mention, I don’t want to risk turning down a job and then going months or a year+ to find something else.
    – I’m still applying to other positions while in talks with these companies.
    – I don’t have a history of job hopping.

    1. MsM

      I’d remove yourself from the running for #1 unless it would become a much more appealing job if you could negotiate a better salary (in which case you can cross that bridge when you come to it), and do your best to get your concerns addressed during the next part of the process with #2 and #3 (or even contact #2 now and ask if you can chat with someone to clarify a few things before you get too much further into the assignment). If you have the savings, I don’t think you should take a job you know isn’t going to work for you, especially when you don’t seem to be having a problem landing interviews. And it will absolutely raise a red flag for other companies you’re continuing to apply to that wouldn’t have been there before.

      1. Hermoine Granger

        I wouldn’t feel comfortable removing myself from the running at this point for any of the positions without a solid offer in hand or at least being actively considered for more positions. I’m in talks for three positions but that’s after being unemployed for a few months and having applied to a lot of jobs. Companies are interested but nobody is banging down my door to make an offer, the job market for my industry is still in the favor of employers. I was laid off a few years back and it took forever to find another position so I fear passing on one of these positions, having months or a year go, and then still having to accept a position that I’m less than thrilled about.

        I do agree that continuing to search after accepting a position might be a red flag for some employers .

    2. JMegan

      I’m not sure about this, but I *think* your unemployment benefits may be affected if you turn down a job offer. So you might want to factor that into your decision making as well, before you go making any big decisions about the first two.

      Good luck!

      1. Hermoine Granger

        This is also a concern as I think that unless the position is substantially below your most recent salary, there might be some fallout with unemployment if I pass on a job. The low paying position is technically on-par with my most recent salary but it requires managing employees and may require longer hours, evenings, and weekends due to the organization stretching resources and having to working through emergencies that are a part of the business.

    3. Not So NewReader

      If you decide to pass on jobs 1 and/or 2 vow to keep doing as you are doing. You seem to have a good stream of jobs that you are considering. As another poster said you seem to get interviews. Yes, it’s a gamble and it takes nerves of steel. So a huge piece of reneging on some jobs is strengthening the determination/commitment you already have to finding a good job. It’s a two part process, not a one part process: renege on one AND make an even stronger commitment to finding that GOOD job. “I am going to take a pass on job #1 but I am going to go like hell to [fill in goal here].

  67. anonal

    To interviewers out there. Say you interview a candidate you like, and she asks for the timeline. You say a couple of weeks, but you needed that person “yesterday”. You have more interviewees next week. If you really liked one of the candidates at this point, would you let her know? Or would you wait the “couple of weeks” and take your chances that the candidate moved on?

    I am a little confused because the HR rep said to contact her with any questions. I was told she was traveling in a “couple of weeks”, and in my thank you email, I asked when she was leaving. I have not heard anything back, and I wonder if it was decided I was not a strong contender. It’s been a week, which I know is not long to wait for a follow up. I am just confused why my question was not answered.

    1. fposte

      I would only notify previously interviewed candidates if there was a significant change to a timeline that was stated earlier. It doesn’t sound like there has been yet in your case.

      I think your emailed question didn’t get answered either because she’s already left or because it wasn’t really about the job and she therefore didn’t prioritize answering it. I’m not sure how literally you’re reporting your question, but as written it’s slightly odd, because it’s a question about her activities rather than the time frame. Just ask about the time frame. (But don’t do that now–wait.)

    2. soitgoes

      I’ve been told in the past that I was a top-five candidate and it gave me a sense of where I stood going forward, even as they continued to interview more people. I didn’t get that job, but I definitely appreciated knowing that I had left a good impression (any good feedback feels nice during a long job search).

      I think it’s a bit iffy that you asked her about the timeline of her vacation. If she had other strong contenders, that overstep might have made you seem odd.

  68. Incompetent?

    If I didn’t know better, I’d say one of my managers is trying to sabotage me.

    He’s quite prone to giving me guidance (and, in some cases, demands) and then contradicting them later.

    For example, I had somebody else try to schedule a meeting with me when I already had one scheduled with him. He told me I should go to the other meeting instead. When I later asked him if he could catch me up on his meeting, he told me that, if I wanted to know about it, I should have gone to it.

    On a separate occasion, I had a task delegated to me that I thought I needed further input from somebody else for, so I told him I’d wait until I heard back before getting started. He told me that, no, I would be starting the project now. Later, he told me off for trying to start a project when I should have waited for all the information.

    Although those examples are annoying, he’s recently been verging into making-me-look-bad-and-putting-my-neck-on-the-line territory. For example, he’s telling me I need to take more responsibility and ownership for projects. So I try that and he tells me I’m coming across as being too bossy and entitled. I’m also worried I might have jeopardised my position by unintentionally undermining other people’s authority by doing this.

    Also, he strongly implies that I’m incompetent a lot of the time and, on a couple of occasions, has directly told me so. He’s started to try and take projects off of me (implying that I’m not capable of handling them) and I think he’s been “raising his concerns” to others. I’ll admit that his standards are quite high and I don’t always meet them but sometimes my so-called mistakes are a) just because I’ve chosen to do things in a different way to how he would approach it, even though the end result is the same, or b) because I’ve been following one of his instructions which he’s later chosen to go back on! I feel this is totally unfair but I also feel helpless and like there’s nothing I can do about it.

    I’ve now reached the point where going into work every day makes me miserable. I feel like I can’t do anything right but I also feel like I’m being giving no indication of what “right” is.

    It’s a shame because I really like my job otherwise but have come to the conclusion that I probably can’t continue to work with this guy. I’ve started job hunting but how can I deal with this situation until I find another position to go to (assuming I don’t get fired before that)?

    Short version – Having difficulties with a boss who thinks I am (for reasons that aren’t completely my fault) incompetent.

    1. soitgoes

      That’s just the type of person he is, and you either need to find a new position or learn to deal with feeling stupid all the time (which, tbh, is unfortunately a necessary job skill). My boss is always telling people to come to him for the go-ahead on projects, but he’s never in the office, and when you can catch him on the phone he reprimands you for needing hand-holding. I’ve basically accepted that I need to do what I can without authorization and then deal with being told that the entire project was done incorrectly. But that’s my process now. My boss is bad at giving directions without having an “incorrect” example to work off of.

      Basically, if that sort of thing doesn’t roll off your back, you need to look elsewhere.

      1. Incompetent?

        Thanks for the advice – glad it’s not just me with this kind of boss!

        To be honest, it’s not the feeling stupid I mind so much – it’s the other people thinking I’m stupid that I mind more. When things like this initially happen, it’s just a case of thinking “Yes, because *I’m* the one whose *solely* responsible for this screw up – ::headdesk::” and carrying on. My bigger concern with it is that now he’s starting to tell other people I’m stupid and I feel like I have no way of proving I’m not because he’s busy trying to kick me off of the projects that would actually let me show that I half-decent at my job. It also bugs me because I’m the only person he does this to so I worry other people look on and think that I must have done something stupid to provoke this reaction.

        1. soitgoes

          Can you go to another manager and ask for “a second set of eyes” the next time you have a project? There are very natural ways of slipping it into a conversation that your manager gives contradictory instructions, and I guarantee you that his coworkers know this about him.

          1. Incompetent?

            Tried this once before, failed miserably. Pretty much got “Well, I’ve had the same problem with him too but you probably shouldn’t say anything to anybody else because then you’ll just get into more trouble.”

        2. Monodon monoceros

          I’m in a similar situation right now. I’m working on something with a person who is not my manager, but who outranks me. Unfortunately this person is somewhat incompetent (my manager agrees with me) and is making me look incompetent to the rest of the team. I can only fix so much- my hands are tied because I can’t change things that this person has done a whole lot without overstepping my bounds, but it’s not always clear to the team what work is his and what is mine. I can’t say anything because I don’t want to look defensive, or be the person who throw the incompetent guy under the bus. However I’m really worried about my long-term interactions with the rest of the group. I’m not sure how to handle it right now other than cross my fingers and hope that the rest of the team reads between the lines and realises that the problems are more due to this guy’s incompetence than to mine.

    2. StudentA

      Has he always acted this way, or is this a recent change? The way he’s acting reminds me of the bosses I’ve seen when they hold a grudge towards a direct report. Can you recall an incident that would cause him to hold a grudge against you?

      Another explanation is that he wants you to leave. I mean, he is directly contradicting his own directions. Have you politely called him out on the fact that he blames you for things he directed you to do? Mind you, when a manager decides he wants someone gone, there can be a million reasons for that, and not all are personal. Some managers hate confrontation, and if they can get you to leave on your own, they feel better. All of it is irrational and I can’t stand it. But just putting this out there, because explanations make me feel better.

      1. Incompetent?

        Thanks for the advice. Sort of ‘yes’ and ‘no’ to the first question. As soitgoes said, I think it is just his ‘way’ – he has an incredibly direct personality and definitely doesn’t like to be wrong! So he’s always done this in one way or another but he’s recently got worse and only recently got to the point where he’s started to let his opinion known to others.

        The only thing I can think of that’s changed since he started getting worse is that I was given a big project by another manager. He told me he would have handled it differently, that I wasn’t doing a good job and then started trying to meddle in how it was being done, implying that he didn’t think I could do it myself. When I approached the manager who gave me the project for feedback, that manager told me that I was handling it really well.

        I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that he wants me to leave. I’m about 90% sure that he can influence the people who make the firing decision but doesn’t actually have the authority to do it himself, which makes me think that’s why he’s started to tell others about his view on me!

    3. JMegan

      Ugh, how frustrating.

      Can you get into the habit of getting his instructions in writing? Even if he won’t necessarily do it on his own, there’s nothing stopping you from sending an email saying “Just to summarize my understanding of our conversation today, I am going to take the lead on X, Y, and Z projects. Please let me know if you have any concerns with this approach; if I don’t hear back from you I will go ahead and start on project X.”

      He doesn’t sound like the kind of person who would answer an email like that, and TBH it probably won’t do much to get him to change his behaviour either. But it does accomplish two things – one, documentation that you have made your best effort to get direction from him; and two, you can see for yourself that he is the one who is behaving irrationally, not you. That way you can clearly say (to yourself, if no one else), “Last week he told me to take the lead on X and now he’s telling me to hold back! Oh well, that’s just the way he is.” There’s a lot of power in that, in terms of maintaining your own sanity.

      Good luck with your job search!

    4. AB Normal

      Incompetent? — From experience, seeing it happen to colleagues in the past, I’m 90% sure that the answer is, “your boss wants you gone, and maybe even unconsciously is doing anything he can to get you to resign or end up fired”.

      The biggest problem I see here is that the longer you stay, from what you describe, the more other managers and coworkers will be influenced by his criticism of your work. It’s not fair, but it is what it is. In your position I’d be networking like crazy outside your organization and aggressively job searching. Your only chance of being successful in your current job is if you change groups or get a new boss, and I wouldn’t count of that. I wouldn’t be surprised if you were let go soon for “performance issues”, and instead of trying to prove it’s not your fault, your energy will be better spent finding a SANE manager to work for. Good luck!

  69. Anx

    I have a question about internships.

    I have B.S. and am enrolled in an A.S. program in very similar major, which is more focused on practical applications (I was unemployed and really needed to join the world again). I am due to graduate in May so next semester could be my last.

    One issue though is that a new class is being offered that I am very interested in. If I take it, though, I will have class Mon-Thursday in the middle of the day. So I would only have Fridays to devote to an internship or a few hours a day. My job is only a few hours a week, but I really need to keep it, or at least get a paid internship in its place.

    I think I could squeeze in an internship, but I don’t want to be annoying by having classes to work around. I kind of want to the have the summer free to start looking for a full-time job, but now I’m considering doing my internship then.

    The issue is, I don’t know what else to do with my summer. I can’t count on getting summer hours for my current job and I’m not sure I can find a part-time job in the summer.

    What do you think looks better:

    Looking for a job on the heels of a full semester (20+ credits, an internship, and a part-time job), or applying to a job with just an internship as the last thing I’ve done?

    Or maybe I should just drop the class and have 3 days a week to devote to the internship. But I would really like to learn how to operate some of the machines covered in that class.

    1. Colette

      I’d try to find an internship with flexible hours – I would suspect that working around classes is a normal thing to do in those situations.

  70. Dr. Doll

    A general frustration about my organization: We are all very much ruled by fear. We all walk around afraid of saying the tiniest wrong thing for fear of repercussions from the union, for fear of repercussions from colleagues, for fear of repercussions for what-EV-er. No one wants to have an idea, make a mistake, do something creative, or courteous, or even do something a little more *efficiently* because it might cause problems that you can’t foresee.

    For example: Someone I know was taken to task for sending THANK YOU NOTES to people who had done a big job over their weekend. Yes, they got paid extra, but the lead person wanted to say personally “Thanks, that was really helpful.” He *got in trouble* for that.

    ….except that there is a group in the organization who have ironclad security, and a very small minority within that group takes advantage of this to be absolutely obnoxious at many opportunities.

    How do you handle a place which is full of hidden bear traps and poison arrows?!

    1. Sascha

      You leave. You just described my previous workplace. You keep your head down and do your best work until you find a new job. For motivation to do a good job – think of the new job you are getting. You want to have a good reference and colleagues that speak well of you. So do good work for the sake of your reputation.

      But seriously, get out as fast as you can. I worked a university that was micromanaged by the president and his cronies, and the culture was so fearful that I started having physical symptoms. Also it really sucked to see those people in the Special Snowflakes Brigade get promotions, special favors, etc. when the rest of us were discouraged from even asking.

    2. Jennifer

      * Be as perfect as possible.
      * Keep your mouth shut. If someone asks for suggestions or input, you by god don’t have any. They don’t want to hear it anyway.
      * Keep your head down and blend in with the nearest wall as much as you can.
      * Ask for permission before you do anything even slightly out of your usual duties/range, “just in case, I don’t want to get in trouble for overstepping.”
      * Cover your ass and document everything.
      * SMILE FUCKING SMILE!!!!! because I get a lot less shit if I am goddamned PERKY.
      * Remember that they are perfectly happy with how everything is, thanks.
      * Remind yourself that you are here to take shit with a smile because that is what they pay you for.
      * Remind yourself that it doesn’t help to get angry and upset, but to just realize that “this is how things are.” Accept, accept, accept.

      1. Not So NewReader

        Love this.

        In places like this there can be corruption- someone is doing something illegal and people are covering because illegal activity helps a real or perceived greater good. Heck, the activity might not be illegal but people think it is illegal. This can start the secrecy and the backbiting and the hyper-sensitivity over every.little. thing.

        Dot your i’s and cross your t’s. Remember they all agreed to this environment that is why it exists. You’re not going to fix it, nor should you try. Each day tell yourself there is a better way of doing things and you are going to find it some where ELSE.

  71. Anon for $ talk

    Hello all. I need advice on negotiating pay with a promotion. I’m being considered for an account executive position at my company. I’m younger than the current account execs and there aren’t many women in the role, so I’m excited. I want to make sure I’m compensated fairly, but it’s really hard to figure out what I should ask for. The job title is ambiguous enough that an internet search was not helpful. It’s a family owned company, so we don’t have a published pay band/scale for the position. I know some account execs at my company are compensated VERY well, but it’s all over the map. The ones who have been here since the company was founded get a pretty generous commission on every account they work on. According to the rumor mill, this puts them in the mid-six figures. Newer hires are either salaried or a combination of salary and commission (and are not i the mid-six figures). I’m leaning towards asking for salary + commission. I think I’d earn more money, but I’ve never been in a job where part of your compensation was variable. I also don’t know what annual amount to aim for. I feel like the other recent hires could be anywhere from $80-$120K, or more.

    I’m also a woman and single in a male dominated, family-oriented company, which shouldn’t matter but is a consideration in how I negotiate.

  72. PorKou

    I discovered I’m responsible for a big issue at work, and I’m nit sure how to come clean. A pile of mail went missing and caused a lot of problems– several VIPs have spent time in the last few weeks trying to figure it out, new procedures have been discussed, and someone missed a project deadline that can’t be made up because of the missing documents.

    I was sure I had not seen or received any of the missing mail, but I was clearing out my work space recently for a different reason and discovered several of the missing documents unopened among a stack of unused envelopes. I have a coworker who sometimes puts mail on my desk without telling me, so I think what happened is she left them for me on my supplies when I was working on my own mailers and I never noticed them before I put everything away again.

    It may not be all of the missing materials (it looks too small to be all of them) so this all still may not be entirely my fault, but I am in a panic and I don’t know how to explain myself to the VIP who’s been investigating this. I feel like bringing up the coworker looks like I’m trying to weasle out of blame but leaving it out also makes me look like an idiot who lost vital documents for no reason. It’s been less than a day since I found them and I need to say something soon but I’m terrified.

    1. Sascha

      I’m sorry, I have been there! I think the best thing to do is just stick with the facts – and that includes the fact that your coworker sometimes puts mail on your desk. Since they are working on a new procedure, the VP will need to know as much as possible about the current procedure so the gaps can be addressed. It’s not weaseling out of the blame – it’s just letting the VP know how things work so they can problem solve more efficiently.

      It’s a really sucky feeling but the sooner you talk to the VP, the better. I hope everything goes well for you.

    2. Katie the Fed

      Well, it’s possible your coworker found out SHE was the one that had been holding them and stuck them on your desk to cover up her own mistake.

      Is there a way you can just deposit them on the VP’s desk or put them somewhere where they’ll be found without actually speaking up? It’s a little sneaky, but I also don’t think you should be confessing to something that you might not have done. The most important thing is that it gets fixed.

      1. MsM

        If you do talk to the VP about it, I’d stress that you’re not trying to pin the blame on the coworker: you just think that part of instituting better procedures so this doesn’t happen again needs to include figuring out where things broke down to whatever extent you can, and this is your best guess. Like Katie says, the most important thing is that it gets fixed.

        Also, I hope you’ve done a thorough search of your workspace now just in case there are more of them lurking about.

    3. Johr

      I don’t really have much to offer except get an inbox, and make sure your coworker knows to use it. My desk often looks like the eye of a paper hurricane and the only way to be 100% sure I won’t mistakenly shuffle something aside without looking at is to have a designated place for incoming information.

      I’m also curious – were you responsible for these documents getting to their recipients, or were they placed on your desk entirely by mistake? If the latter, you really had no reason to think they would be anywhere in your work space.

      1. PorKou

        I do have an inbox outside my space that is well marked. The coworker does usually use it, then sometimes also puts things all over my desk in no particular place. I think this is actually a passive aggressive thing on her part because she only does it to me (she doesn’t touch anyone else’s mail, even to put it in their inbox) and she generally nitpicks at me a lot. So there’s that.

        I am supposed to route these, yes. I don’t know when they’re coming though so I’m not ever specifically on the lookout for them. They sort of appear periodically and I deal with them.

        1. Not So NewReader

          Don’t cover for her. But don’t get heavy-handed with the finger-pointing either. It’s a fine line but it is doable.

          Tell the VP the truth. Start out with the general statement, “people leave lots of stuff on my desk”. The fact that you never know when you are going to have mail on your desk that needs to be dealt with is very telling. They need a formal system for their mail handling. This could mean a designated area with a bank of slots that has people’s name on each slot. Have a rule that no one can touch anyone else’s mail.

          When you get to the part of how you found the mail, just explain it in a matter of fact and non-emotional way. They will figure it out. “I found the mail in a stack of unused envelops on my desk. People sometimes do not use the inbox that I have. So probably someone left them on my desk next to the envelops.”
          I think you are in a good spot here because you do not have all the missing mail. This means someone else has the rest.

          Tell your coworker that you will be getting your own mail from here forward and there is no need for her to bring it by for you. People like that have to be told no directly or they will not stop. Tell her to stop.

  73. Traveller

    Am I the only one that has trouble with the AAM blog loading?

    I’d say that about half the time, the page never loads (screen just says blank). Many other times, it will just load the banner at the top & nothing else. Usually solved by reloading (maybe a couple of tries). Not a huge deal, but kind of a pain.

    Seems like it started doing this in the past couple of weeks.
    I’m using Chrome 39.0.2171.65 if you want to look into it.

    1. Not So NewReader

      I have XP and Chrome. I was having trouble with loading pages this morning. Once they loaded the reply button was missing. There was just a line where it should have been the word “reply” and an underscore.
      I see the site was down for maintenance and it’s better now. The page loaded fully on the first try and the word “reply” is back.

  74. the_scientist

    I work closely with a large team of independent scientists (10, to be precise) providing research and analytical support. I have a masters of science degree and use my training to do much of the analytical and writing work that I do- when I joined the program a year ago, I had the opportunity to introduce myself, explain my background etc. Since it’s a small program, I was initially doing a lot of administrative work (planning and scheduling meetings, minutes) but we hired an assistant as it was taking up too much of my time. Now that I’ve been in the job for a year, I am feeling bored and unchallenged and am actively seeking a new position- I’ve been close but we all know how hard it is.

    Well, one of the scientists simply does not GET IT (it, being what my roles and responsibilities are). I went to grad school at his institution and we’ve had several conversations about how he was the external examiner at my classmate’s master’s defense. I’ve been involved in meetings on study methodology and have commented on methodological issues and proposed solutions. In all my interactions with him, I ensure that I’m well-versed in the meeting material and have substantive comments and questions. He STILL believes me to be (and refers to me in meetings) as the program’s administrative assistant and is always thanking me for providing administrative support to the project. He leaves me off key emails regarding analyses because he doesn’t get that I’m involved. I’ve tried subtle reminders, but it’s obvious that he still sees me as the admin assistant. When he sends me request for admin assistance, I clearly and politely re-direct his emails and inform him of why I’m doing so. He’s an exceptionally kind, thoughtful and basically brilliant scientist and I feel bad for letting this bother me, because I know it’s all about me and my ego.

    But on the other hand- is it just about my ego? This issue is representative of how I feel about this job (under-utilized, unchallenged, unappreciated) and my experience has been that once the perception of someone’s role has been created, it’s very hard to change that perception. I don’t want to publicly correct him during a meeting, because that would be needlessly awkward but it bothers me that NO ONE else steps in to say “the_scientist is also part of this team and should be included on these emails”. I’ve mentioned off-hand to my boss that I’m concerned about being left off emails and generally not viewed as part of the team but she has not bothered to step in and correct this perception. I don’t really know what to do to correct it myself, and it’s really bugging me- an incredibly awkward phone meeting this week precipitated this rant.

    1. ineloquent

      You need to be your own champion, I think. Sit down with this employee, be clear, and be blunt. It’s impeding your ability to do your job. Don’t rely on your manager to do this for you, but also do this in such a way that you minimize his embarrassment (one on one informal meetings over coffee or lunch, for example). Be specific about why this is creating problems for you, so that it’s clear that you’re not being petty (and again, you’re not – you need to be in the loop so that you can do the work you were hired for).

      1. the_scientist

        you’re absolutely right that I need to be more proactive about standing up for myself. Unfortunately, we are separated by geography (3 hours driving distance) so it’s not as simple as popping into the scientist’s office for a chat and it would be wildly out of sync with the culture of the program to have a one-on-one phone meeting with him.

        I did actually send him an email politely letting him know that he’d made a scientific error on some slides he was preparing for a presentation (he’d compared two different measurements that are not actually comparable; easily identifiable to someone with an epidemiology/statistics background (i.e. me); he is a clinician) and made a fairly lighthearted “my epi background makes me especially conscious of these things” comment. He thanked me for noticing, but it still doesn’t appear to have stuck….

        1. Not So NewReader

          I think you are being way too subtle, that is why he is not getting it.
          Regroup and go in on this again, with an entirely different set of words. The set of words you are using is causing him to go “deer in the headlights”.
          Additionally, you may want to go line item by line item with him like these two suggestions here:

          Can you ask the other RA to forward you an email from him that you should have been included on? Get the email and send it back to him simply stating “I need to be included in this email group. From here forward, please include my address in this list. RA forwarded this to me this time. When you email RA, please send it to me, also.”

          Ideally, catch him before he has to introduce you again. But if not, after the next time he introduces you incorrectly, make it a point to speak to him after the meeting. If you feel better saying “may I have a private word with you?”, then do that.

          Take out the “administrative” word and tell him point blank that your job is not a secretarial job. I really think that is the only way to get him to understand. “My work is not secretarial, I am doing X work just like RA.” [I am not very scientific so I am having problems with word choice here myself. I think you see the idea.)

    2. Judy

      It’s really hard to say which way it is, but a few things to think about:

      * Is it possible that there are communication differences between your boss and him as to your role? I had a situation where an internal customer was expecting me to do A, B & C, while my direction from my boss was to do X, Y and Z. I did have reason to believe that my boss was telling this customer that I was to do X, Y and Z, and B if I had time. B was the customer’s priority. I ended up having to have my boss give me my instructions in front of the customer.

      * I read this as you are in a support role, even if it is not an administrative support role. Are you reading in the word “administrative” when he’s mentioning you’re in a support role?

      * The other day I think you mentioned that you’re doing work outside (above) of your role. Does he know that?

      * Just one more reason to be using collaborative tools, not email.

      1. the_scientist

        All good points! I think there’s definitely a communication difference between this scientist and my boss- he’s not assigning me work directly, I’m a member of a team that is providing methodological expertise to his site to assist them in evaluating a practice change program. The “team” is myself, another RA with a different but complimentary research background to my own, and a PhD-level scientist who is a performance measurement specialist. He’s specifically introduced me in meetings as the “program admin assistance” and it’s clear he is unaware or oblivious to the fact that I am a member of this “team”- he leaves me off emails and doesn’t include me in comments about the evaluation during meetings.

        Part of it is exacerbated by the fact that the other RA and I are handling multiple sites, so she’s doing most of the front-end work with his particular site. My work is mainly “behind the scenes”; i.e. the team meets centrally to discuss methodological issues and the other RA handles the follow-up; I do the follow-up for different sites and am seen as a contributing team member by those other sites.

        Regarding the fact that I’m doing work above my role- you’re right, that was me. And yes, I am doing work above my role. He probably wouldn’t see that though, because much of it is again “behind the scenes”. The program structure here is very complicated, which is probably contributing to this issue!

        1. Judy

          I’d consider asking the other RA about it, maybe they can help during their front-end work stating that you, the other RA, would be doing X, Y and Z for this project.

          I’d also consider suggesting that your team have an email address that copies everyone, if there is no movement to more collaborative ways of working.

    3. Anonsie

      Ahhhhhh!! I’m an RA and this happens to me, too, for the exact same reason. I did a bit of it at first when the work load was low and now I’m the program assistant on and off in a few people’s minds– but one in particular is really set in this no matter how many times he’s been corrected. I’ve consulted with him on how to do things that are part of my job, and then he’s gone and had other RAs in other departments actually do the work and seemed surprised when I told him I could have done it after the fact. I’ve done some of these things with him in the past, and I guess he’s forgotten?

      I don’t know what it is, either. I thought it was that I was a small female at first and it was a classic “she can’t know anything, she’s a little lady” thing (since I also get a ton of that) but the RA he works with instead of me is also a petite woman. I think some people in this field just really don’t bother to actually pay much attention to the people around them who aren’t entirely on their level, as far as they’re concerned.

    4. Student

      You should’ve said something immediately when you were first mistaken for an admin. You need to have an in-person conversation where you tell this guy that you are not an admin, clarify that you have never been an admin, tell him what your role on his project is, and what you need from him communication-wise going forward.

      Honestly, you’ve let this go on so long that it’s pretty ridiculous to have to go through this. If it is any option at all, I’d suggest that you try to hand off this whole project to your colleague and bow out of working with this guy. He doesn’t communicate with you or acknowledge your role on his project. This prevents you from providing the support he needs. Let someone he “works better” with handle it. Maybe you and your colleague can trade projects that are driving you nuts to each other and have a win-win situation.

  75. Megan

    General management style question here – I’m hoping to advance in management at my organization and am trying to be prepared!

    What is done, or what does your organization do, with vacation leave requests if the employee is not likely to have enough PTO to take the vacation? Assume we have PTO only, no separate sick leave. Let’s also assume that my organization does NOT have a set policy of how to deal with this, because it’s never really come up before.

    Example: Suzy Q calls in sick frequently, or has to miss work because of children’s illnesses. Suzy Q also likes to take a day off here and there, to the point where there is never any accrued PTO. Vacation requests are due February 1. Suzy Q requests a week in the summer and a week around Christmas. As a manager, what do you do, since she has no PTO at the moment?

    1. Rin

      I would talk with her and explain the situation. You’ll approve the time for now, but if there’s nothing in her bank by the times those weeks come, she can’t take off the time.

      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        Yep — and I might also spell out for her what it will mean, like “That means that you wouldn’t be able to take more than two PTO days between now and then, in order to have the time accrued.”

    2. Nanc

      Hopefully it says somewhere on the form or in your policies and procedures that all vacation request approvals are contingent upon the employee having the needed PTO available. If it doesn’t when you get the request and know Suzy Q won’t have the time, you need to have that conversation with her right away. Is there a tracking system? Do employees have easy access to their PTO balances? If not, that might be something to raise when you become a manager.

      1. Arjay

        Yes. My company has a really good tracking system for PTO, makes it abundantly clear how much time is accrued per pay period based on years with the company, and there are still folks who can’t figure it out. Letting Suzy know that between now and summer vacation date, she’ll have accrued X hours, she’ll need Y hours for her vacation, leaving her with only Z hours for any time off between now and then.

        My company also will allow an employee to go into a negative PTO balance of up to 20 hours with manager approval. Future accruals go to paying back that deficit until they’re on the positive side again. (Must be repaid if the employee quits with a negative balance, etc.)

    3. LCL

      Where I work, if this employee was an hourly employee, she would be allowed the vacation but it would be made clear to her that their leave would be unpaid. She would have to fill out a form, and she would be encouraged to work with HR to find out if her benefits would be jeopardized and what she would have to do to keep them.

      1. Megan

        Re: her benefits being jeopardized – at what point from taking unpaid time would this come into play?

        1. fposte

          That’s up to the employer in most cases, so you’d need to check with your HR, but there’s also the fact that such leave would eat away at her eligibility time for statutory benefits such as FMLA. Two weeks isn’t likely to knock a full-time employee out, but it could put paid to a part-time one who was barely over the eligibility line already.

  76. Nyxalinth

    *Professor Farnsworth Voice* Good news, everyone!

    After wondering for another week when and if I would be able to start my new job, they contacted me yesterday to let me know we had enough people to begin training. Hooray! I start Tuesday.

    Thank you everyone for all your support. :D

  77. Not a Doctor

    After doing all the math it turns out I’m actually not taking a net loss on my paycheck compared to if I had participated in the “incentive” to get “preferred pricing” on health insurance. In fact I’m coming out a dollar ahead. This is because the deduction is pre-tax. Higher deduction = less taxable income. I was counting on that to make it less painful, but I wasn’t expecting that it basically wouldn’t matter. So much for an incentive. Either no one thought of that (likely) or they were counting on a majority of people to not figure out what the real cost would be.

  78. Eva

    Does anyone here have experience trying to do mentally challenging/creative work outside their preferred hours?

    The reason I ask is that for over a year I’ve been working the same hours as my night owl SO, meaning getting up close to noon and working until well after midnight. My productivity has gone down in terms of creative output and contributing to the big picture, and I can’t help but attribute it to the fact that I’m trying to work at times of the day when my body says I should be winding down and/or sleeping rather than my preferred hours (I feel most awake from 9-5, peaking at around 11am). How good of an excuse do you guys think that is?

    1. fposte

      An excuse to whom? Is this for you, for your SO, or for your supervisor? Who do you need to convince that you want to work a different pattern?

      I think it’s perfectly reasonable to want to work hours where you’re at your most productive, especially when those hours happen to coincide with popular business hours. I do a lot of work in the evenings, but much of my job I don’t have the evening brain for and have to do earlier.

      1. Eva

        Thanks for replying, fposte! It makes me feel a little better that there’s some of your work you find you can’t get done in the evenings.

        My SO and I work together just the two of us, so the only other person I am accountable to is him. He thinks that working hours are important, but not as important as I make them out to be. And he’s often right, so I’m wondering if I could get more/better work done if I pushed myself harder to do so, or if I really should get serious about working (and sleeping) my own hours rather than his.

        1. Judy

          If working hours are not important, then maybe you should try an experiment where he works the hours you’d prefer. ;)

          1. fposte

            I very much love this answer.

            Even if you genuinely believe you’re wrong more often than he is, which would be a little odd, what does that have to do with his knowledge vs. yours of how you feel? Can you just try the different schedule for a while to see if that suits before you go to the “should push myself harder” place?

        2. Observer

          If he REALLY thinks that, then suggest that HE switch hours. You’ve been keeping his hours for a year, now he can do the same for you. He doesn’t want to do that? Then he needs to bug off and let you work the schedule that works for you.

          1. Eva

            Thanks Observer and Judy (and fposte again), I really appreciate your input! I think I have gotten to a place where I doubt myself a little too much. Since it is currently mostly his work that is securing our income, I don’t feel it would be wise to actually carry out the experiment Judy proposes, but I do think I will put my foot down and work my own hours consistently for at least a fortnight and see how that goes. It’s tough because the relationship is also romantic, and it’s sad for both of us that I have to go to bed just when he is peaking and wants to discuss new ideas. Huge incompatibility we have there. :( But thanks again! :)

            1. Not So NewReader

              FWIW, I can’t live on that end of the clock. I end up feeling too blue/sad. No idea why but I have always been that way. And I tried working those hours at different points in my life. Oddly, I can get out the door to be at work at 5am. I think I have to follow the sun. It’s almost dark at 4;30 here and that is annoying to me. It could be that you have similar thing going on???

  79. CollegeAdmin

    Need some quick advice!

    I just submitted an application for an internal position that is perfect for me. I was actually encouraged to apply by the chair of the search committee/hiring manager, and I think it’s appropriate to send him an email and let him know. But what do I say? Do I include my resume and cover letter, even though they were submitted through the official channels of our HR website? (Heck, what should the subject line be? Currently I have “FYI: Chocolate Teapot Designer Position” but I don’t know if that’s a good choice.)

    AAMers, can you help me out?

    1. Malissa

      Chairperson,

      I just wanted you to know that I did take your advise and I submitted my resume for that position we talked about. Thank you again for bringing it to my attention.

    2. lalla

      I wouldn’t expect it to be necessary to include your resume and cover letter if you’ve submitted them through the official channels, especially if this person encouraged you to apply (so presumably he has an idea of your skills and experience anyway?) – the email is really just to alert him to your interest rather than requesting him to read your application now.

      I don’t think there’s any harm in just keeping it simple and saying, “Hi, I just thought I’d let you know, I’ve looked at the Chocolate Teapot Designer role and I’ve decided to go ahead and apply for it” – then perhaps include a brief sentence saying how interesting you find the role or how it fits in with your experience (not like a whole cover letter, just a single comment like “I’ve got some intricate handle designs I’ve been working on which might be a good starting point on the project this role will deal with” or “I’ve been wanting to get more involved in novelty spouts for a while now”). Then, if it’s the kind of thing that’s done in your company, you can include a request to meet with this person to get more information about the context and requirements of the role.

      I think your subject line is fine.

  80. Beezus

    Any good deflective strategies for recurring inappropriate negative comments from a coworker?

    I transferred to a new job 4 months ago, and about a month ago made the mistake of venting to my coworker about a particularly frustrating problem I was having with someone in another department that we frequently interact with. It was a work-related issue and really beyond the pale, so I don’t feel bad about needing a little rant, but she seems to have seen it as a green light to use me as a venting post for every little annoyance that crosses her mind.

    I hear a lot of unproductive vitirol about completely manageable issues that shouldn’t rate so much aggravation. I also hear inappropriate bitch-eating-crackers commentary and speculation about people we work with (including health issues, personal appearance/weight, performance issues, and career history/outlook). I also hear lots of gossip – I am not used to being in the workplace gossip loop, but she has lived in this small town for many years and has long-lived personal connections to a lot of the people here, so I hear stories (mostly negative) about their childhoods, marriages, children, etc., that I would rather not know about people I work with.

    I need help shutting this down. I didn’t do it as quickly as I should have when it first started happening, because it happened slowly and seemed harmless at first. I have my arsenal of deflective comments, but they’re getting a little worn. It’s hard to deflect sometimes too, when I need to talk through an issue with her to do our jobs, and she wants to rant about how the issue happened and the people involved before we actually work on it (our jobs involve a lot of problem resolution work, so this happens a lot). I’m also struggling with situations where I also have concerns about the performance of people involved (of the 50 order errors I need to correct today, 30 of them were caused by Waukeen, out of a pool of 20 order entry people) – there are times in my work where it’s relevant and necessary to discuss performance concerns and compare notes, and I’m having difficulty trying to keep those conversations appropriate and reasonable and under control (a discussion about Waukeen’s order entry accuracy shouldn’t include nasty speculation about his work ethic and ability to learn, commentary that he’ll probably be fired by Christmas, or information about the circumstances of his divorce five years ago and his relationship history since then.)

    If it helps, we currently do not have a direct manager, he left shortly after hiring me. Our director is overseeing our work in general, but he’s pretty far removed from our day-to-day process, and I don’t want to loop him in on this (in part because I should be able to handle it myself, and in part because I already had to enlist his help dealing with the frustrating issue I mentioned in my second paragraph.)

    I really need to sit this person down and have a frank discussion with her, but I’m hoping to put it in as positive a light as possible. I work so closely with her that I need to maintain a decent working relationship with her to preserve my sanity.

    1. C Average

      Yeah, you need to end this.

      Here’s the script I’d use (and have used, in fact):

      “I’ve realized that a lot of my conversations about work have taken a negative spin lately, and that it’s affecting my overall outlook and my ability to do a good job. I’ve also realized that I’m developing some bad habits in terms of talking about my colleagues. I’m not proud of this and I want to stop this behavior. I’m going to need the help of you and my other colleagues on this. So I’m just putting you on notice: If any of our conversations start going down a negative or unproductive path, I’m going to excuse myself from the conversation. I really appreciate your help in trying to set a more positive tone.”

      Keep repeating it as long as needed. You’ll feel a little like Gallant from “Goofus and Gallant,” but it’ll achieve the intended outcome. The people who used to gossip and vent to me all the time still talk to me (though not as much); they just know they’re going to have to buttonhole someone else if gossip and venting is all they have to offer.

      Also, if you DO need to discuss someone’s behavior in a purely work-related context, call a meeting for that purpose in a meeting room. Hallway conversations or unscheduled chats feel informal and can quickly devolve into gossip. If you call a meeting about the drop in teapot production and it comes up that Wakeen’s numbers are down, you’re not gossiping; you’re dealing with the teapot production issue.

  81. KJR

    I’ve just been asked to speak to a group of high school students about “employability.” OK, AAM Managers, what information/tips would you like me to impart to these 16 year olds about what employers are looking for?

    1. GigglyPuff

      When I was in high school, our econ teacher had someone he knew come in and talk about how to act/present yourself for an interview. Dress codes (i.e. minimal makeup, no flashy earrings, etc), things to do during the interview (eye contact, hand shakes), thank you emails, things like that. The dress suggestions were really good advice, like you don’t always need to have professional clothing for jobs younger people interview for, but as long as you present as neatly groomed and minimal flashy things, you’ll be much more professional.

      1. Colette

        Reliability – if you’re scheduled to work, you need to show up.
        Work ethic – you need to do what you’re asked to do (unless it’s unsafe or illegal).
        When to speak up – illegal behavior, unsafe work environment, harassment

    2. Kathryn

      Do research on the companies you’re applying to. It doesn’t have to be a book sized dossier, but know what drives the company, know something about the industry they are in, what their customers look like, etc.

      Ask questions fearlessly. Reasonable managers what to know when you get stuck so they can help unstick you, they want to know when instructions aren’t clear so they can clarify things, they do not want you to be bored in a corner surfing the internet because you don’t know what to do next.

    3. Ann without an e

      STEM, boys and girls. It is challenging but offers payed co-ops and internships unlike most majors. And graduates from STEM fields get placed faster.

      1. Anonsie

        Eh. I mean, I do think we should be posing this as something that’s open to everyone, because there are a lot of misconceptions about the difficulty level and a lot of people rule it out right away because science and math seems hard. But I really really really must recommend against pushing people to go into the sciences because we supposedly get m