open thread – November 28, 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 :)

{ 543 comments… read them below }

  1. WalkingDead

    So anyone else at work where over half their co-workers took the day after Thanksgiving off? I am!

    I’m saving my time off for friends’ weddings and other trips next year so I figured might as well be in the near empty office. At least it’s quiet and relaxing :)

    1. HeyNonnyNonny

      I have a surprising number of coworkers here! I guess we all had the same idea of trying to work in peace and quiet…

    2. Eliza Jane

      I’m in the same place! There are 3 people from my entire department here today: the department admin, our intern, and me. There are a dozen empty offices, most of which are supposed to hold 2 people. ;) I’m using the opportunity to study a document I’ve been unable to focus on for a week and a half.

    3. littlemoose

      Oh yeah. I love it; it’s so quiet and low-key. I never mind working this day because we don’t travel for the holidays and I’ve never been a Black Friday shopper (except maybe online). I prefer to save the day and take it around Christmas, when I have friends and family in town.

    4. Felicia

      I’m in Canada , so it’s not a holiday here, and yesterday wasn’t Thanksgiving, yet all my coworkers have the day off or have out of office meetings today for some reason (though it’s only an office of 5 of us:P) . It makes me so easily distractable, especially since i’ve just finished my only urgent thing, and now everything i have to do that I can work on isn’t due until mid January, and only takes me about a week.

      1. Cath in Canada

        Our office got weirdly empty yesterday afternoon – we joked that there must be some secret Thanksgiving dinner organised by an American colleague that the rest of us hadn’t been told about!

        It was very sad to work a normal Thursday without any new episodes of Serial or Big Bang Theory to look forward to…

    5. Persephone Mulberry

      I’m working! It’s a skeleton crew around here, except for the front desk which has more people than seats (two are trainees).

    6. Colette

      I’m not in the US, but a lot of my coworkers are. I actually sent myself an email yesterday just to make sure it was working. It’s quiet to the point where I was surprised there was traffic on the way to work.

      1. Aam Admi

        I am in Canada but took the week off as I have family visiting from the US. We can’t go out anywhere due to the -20Deg C temperatures for most of the week and heavy snowfall.

    7. JAL

      Yup. I’m new and I don’t even have vacation days yet.

      Of course the group of guys who blast the Star Wars music in the break room are here though. (See my post below).

      1. JAL

        OH with that being said. I cannot focus whatsoever today. Next year, I’m definitely taking this day off. My brain is still in holiday mode.

    8. Bea W

      All of my employers in my current career close for the day after Thanksgiving. The contractors work, because they don’t get paid for either day. Prior to that I worked one place that has to be staffed 24/7, and Friday after Thanksgiving qualified for 1.5x holiday pay.

    9. Sabrina

      I’m working from home, but yeah, a lot of people are out today. Generally I can take off time around Christmas or Thanksgiving, and I usually opt for Christmas because we usually go home for Christmas. This year we won’t be able to due to my husband starting a new job on Monday, but I requested my time off months ago.

    10. Elizabeth West

      Yes. It is super quiet in here. I have to cover the front desk in a little while. I also had to finish the online portion of first aid training (the hands-on stuff happens next week). I got 100% in every single one of the online units–all quiz questions correct. :)

      But nobody have an emergency until I finish the practical training please!!!

    11. Dan

      I flexed time so I wouldn’t have to work today. At a previous job, I had a harder time doing that, so I went in and it was deader than dead.

    12. Jen RO

      Monday is a national holiday here, and I am working and sooo excited about getting some peace and quiet! (I am taking a comp day off in two weeks, so I am the winner in my view – TWO whole days of not having to stop working every 5 minutes.)

    13. Katie the Fed

      It’s soooo quiet here. This is the day I clean out my inbox, catch up on training, and….check out the cyber sales. Shh.

    14. Persephone Mulberry

      BLAAAAAAAARG…I just spent 90 minutes in a meeting that should have taken 30. So much for my quiet, productive afternoon.

  2. Naomi

    My job requires me to travel a lot, and they often rent a car for me. About eight months ago there was some damage to the car, and I was told to submit the bill to my company so their insurance would pay it. Now I have a letter from a debt collector and apparently the bill was never paid. This is going to impact my credit report. What do I do?

    1. Malissa

      First off, ask for proof of debt. Second taker the letter into whom ever deals with insurance at your company and show it to them. Third follow up with the person to ensure the bill gets paid.

    2. JMegan

      Ugh, that sucks. I would start by treating it as an honest mistake on the part of your company. Go back to whoever you submitted the bill to, show them the letter from the debt collector, and ask them what to do about it. There’s a good chance they’ll go “Oh, crap, I’m so sorry! It completely slipped my mind. I’ll submit that claim and get it fixed for you right away.”

      If they don’t say that, of course, then you can escalate it up through your company. But definitely start by assuming it was an error, and that it’s fixable.

    3. fposte

      Yikes– that’s upsetting. I would check immediately with the person you were supposed to submit the bill to and find out what happened, and I’d also get my manager in the loop–I’d want to know if this were happening to one of my staff. Is it an amount you’d be able to cover if you had to? I’d hate for you to get stuck paying it even if you’re waiting for reimbursement, but it’s a possibility to consider.

      The situation may not have hit your credit report yet, by the way–merely going to collections isn’t necessarily a trigger. But I definitely concur that you want to handle the situation before it does.

      1. Naomi

        It’s already been 30 days since the letter was sent–I’ve been traveling for work so I just got it now.

        1. fposte

          Still not necessarily a trigger, but definitely a reason to get on it immediately. And that would include contacting the collection agency, so it’s clear you’re not blowing this off.

            1. fposte

              We don’t know it’s a third-party collection letter, though–it can be a collection agency and still be in-house.

              1. Mister Pickle

                I just want to echo the sentiment that yes, you should hop on this one as quickly as possible. I’m sure it’s a screw-up somewhere in the chain – in my experience, car rental companies themselves are highly prone to error – but it’s been 8 months since the original accident? You should prioritize this, and take notes of significant dates / times/ phone calls.

                Credit is a sacred trust, it’s what our free society is founded on. Do you think they give a damn about their bills in Russia?
                – Bud

      2. BRR

        i think if it goes to collections it would count as a late payment which is a huge portion of your fico score. After bringing it up with your company and resolving it ask the rental car company to contact the rating companies and dispute it yourself through them as well.

        1. fposte

          Though a lot of companies use collections to collect their own debts these days–it doesn’t mean it’s been sold. I run into this with medical stuff and it’s never ended up on my credit report.

          1. Dan

            I think there’s been changes to the law on how medical debts impact credit reports. That can impact lots of stuff, such as the amount a third party is willing to pay, which could keep the debt in-house because nobody would want to buy it.

            1. fposte

              Could be, but this has been true for a while for me, so it’s not a recent change, and I know in-house collection procedures are still pretty common for early debt because they bring in more money. (The letter Naomi received may clarify this.)

              But I’m agreeing with BRR and everybody that it’s time to check the credit report, get the office in gear, and talk to the collection agency.

              1. Naomi

                It hasn’t been reported yet but it is third party collections. I called my boss yesterday and left a message; called the collections agency and no one answered. I guess I’ll try again on Monday.

          1. fposte

            As I said, it depends. I wouldn’t treat it cavalierly, but I wouldn’t assume that it was too late either.

    1. Ali

      The fact that I can work remotely, though it gets lonely sometimes. That said, no worries about an office dress code or commuting (and even the people that go into the office wear casual clothes almost all the time; it wasn’t uncommon for my last boss to wear a backwards baseball cap to team meetings).

    2. Eliza Jane

      1. Flexible scheduling. I love so much that I can go to a meeting at my kid’s school or duck out for a doctor’s appointment, and as long as I make up the time within a pay period, I don’t have to take vacation time.

      2. A direct supervisor who is clearly invested in me and my career, and is actively advocating for me and helping me grow.

      1. HR Generalist

        +1 to the direct supervisor who is invested in you. That’s my #1 best thing at this job, despite a Talent Development department that makes promises and rarely delivers (although, I guess that’s better than no Talent Development department at all!)

    3. HeyNonnyNonny

      My paycheck.
      It’s really frustrating to have terrible benefits, but I need to remind myself to be grateful that at least my overall compensation is still pretty good.

    4. Katie the Fed

      I adore my team so much. They’re smart, hardworking, hilarious, and get along really well. They treat me with respect and don’t give me (too much) grief. There have been so many frustrations in this last year but knowing I get to come in and manage a truly wonderful team makes it all worthwhile.

    5. E.R

      Flexible schedule (to the extreme), interesting co-workers who are nice to me (though that took awhile – everyone is always suspicious of salespeople!), interesting work, and great benefits.

    6. JAL

      My boss! This is my first professional job (I graduated last May) and she’s made my transition between the two so easy. She has given me tons of opportunity to advance my career within the company and I am excited she gave me a chance.

    7. Bea W

      My team is awesome. My boss is awesome. The benefits are good. The work is interesting and challenging. I may be overwhelmed at the moment, but I am never bored. I am also thankful I have an easy(ish) non-driving commute.

    8. LiteralGirl

      I’m grateful for the work I get to do, my coworkers (love them!), my amazing benefits, and that I can work from home if I’m feeling under the weather. Oh – I also have an amazing office that I share with one of my fabulous coworkers!

    9. BRR

      I have the best coworkers and managers. I’m thankful how they push back against unreasonable requests from outside. I’m also thankful that they encourage a good work life balance by approving almost all PTO requests and don’t expect evening or weekend work.

    10. EvilQueenRegina

      The fact that after three years of a Bitch Eating Crackers, I now like the people I sit with.

    11. Ann Furthermore

      1. Work that makes me continue to expand my skill set, even after 10 years with the same company. I’m working on my 4th ERP implementation of the same piece of the Oracle Financials suite, and each iteration has been more complex and challenging than the last.

      2. An awesome boss who is easy to work for, doesn’t micromanage, and doesn’t care if you flex your schedule as long as all your work is done and deadlines are met. The type of work I do has an ebb-and-flow pattern, and if I need to go to a doctor’s appointment during the day, or come in later one morning so I can volunteer at my daughter’s school for an hour, or whatever, she doesn’t care because it’s a given that I’ll more than make up those hours when we’re closing in on a project launch date.

      3. A truly great group of co-workers that works together really well. We all have our different areas of expertise, and when we need to put our heads together to solve a problem we’re always able to come up with a solution.

    12. Elizabeth West

      1. My boss, who is awesome.

      2. That I can wear a t-shirt and jeans every day if I want to (wearing it now, but I have it dressed up with boots, a scarf, and a cardigan–I’ve been like that ever since I came back from the UK).

      3. Being able to work remotely if I need to.

      4. Good benefits.

      5. The fact that if I’m sick, they do NOT want me to show up!

    13. Jen RO

      Flexibility, some of my coworkers, the fact that my boss is not a micromanager… and the pay is pretty damn good too!

    14. QualityControlFreak

      Work that I am good at, committed to and really enjoy. Amazing benefits. Adequate compensation. A work environment I find generally comfortable and suitable (this is highly subjective, but I think it’s important).

    15. AnotherAlison

      My job is great. I have great coworkers (finally), 5 weeks PTO, low-cost health insurance, great 401 k match and profit sharing, and a healthy salary. I also do work that I really enjoy.

      For the first time (ever?) I am satisfied with my career and at peace with my career trajectory. From my late 20s-early 30s, I was always wishing I was in a different career and trying to figure out what I should be doing, or what I was “passionate” about. After ~15 years in my field, I moved into a niche that is a great fit while staying at a company I’ve been at for almost 10 years. I’m so glad I didn’t throw out everything I had done to chase a pipe dream, which is what I really wanted to do ~5 years ago.

    16. Lizzy

      I just started a new job, so hard to make a full assessment, but so far:

      1.) A boss that communicates well and is flexible and understanding. And from what I heard, she was really excited to land me in this position.

      2.) Flexible hours and the ability to work from home.

      3.) Being part of a cultural institute and getting the chance to be exposed to arts, culture and humanities I was previously ignorant to.

      4.) Getting the chance to implement new ideas and strategies to help the organization grow (I am in marketing and development).

    17. soanon

      I get to work from home so I can see my son throughout the day. I get (very) stir crazy but I’ve been able to really enjoy his first year of life. I’m very thankful.

  3. Diet Coke Addict

    For those of you who have been wondering about the continuing adventures of my fax-happy coworker and incompetent boss…

    They both went on a conference trip last week. While they were gone, a request came in from someone in Mrs. Fax’s territory, and my boss asked us to deal with it and look into the faxer’s files, to see if this was something that had been dealt with before, or new, or what. Sure. Only to discovered that she has been sending out terrible quotes that include confidential information—like our costs, our pricing structure, our profit margins, etc., because she doesn’t know or can’t figure out how to print selections to PDF.

    Horrified, we brought this up with our boss on Monday—“Hey, I don’t know if you know, but you may want to go over the process again with the Mad Faxer. When we looked at her files like you asked, we saw a lot of her quotes had some confidential information that was going out to customers—costs, profit margins, and so on.” My boss’s response? “Don’t confuse different styles with her being wrong! We’ve all accidentally sent out that information before!”

    No, actually, I’ve managed to never actually send out proprietary business information before by the magical miracle of “double-checking before I send things.” And really, different styles? Different styles are different formatting choices, or colour schemes in the heading, or font/stylistic choices. Different styles are not “just send out whatever crap you come up with and call it another style.” Good grief.

    1. Mister Pickle

      There’s one side of my brain that says your boss has a number of logically sound reasons for not wanting to make disparaging comments about your co-worker’s job performance.

      The other side of my brain thinks they’re f**king.

  4. Katie the Fed

    OK, I want to re-post something I started a little late in last-week’s threat, in the spirit of Thanskgiving and such.

    Let’s talk about good deeds at work. Things you didn’t have to do but did anyway to help someone out. Or something someone did for you to help you out.

    Today’s other thread reminded me of this one- one of the posts about a young woman dressing inappropriately in the office while everyone ridiculed her behind her back. I was thinking thankfully about the time someone clued me in when I was younger that some of my tops were slipping down a bit during the day and I was showing a bit too much cleavage (I had to remember that taller people get a better view). Thanks, person who I still know who saved me from embarrassment and a bad reputation!

    1. JMegan

      This didn’t happen to me, but I overheard an office worker yesterday, inviting one of the Starbucks staff in her building to drop in to her company party when she was done her shift. Made my day.

      1. Lucy

        Speaking of Starbucks, a woman in my office left me a latte at my desk last week! I have been having a rough time at work, and it was such a sweet surprise.

        1. Persephone Mulberry

          I think about doing this for my coworkers sometimes, but I’m always afraid I’ll get something they don’t like or are allergic to. (I’m one of Those People about how I like my coffee, though, so I’m probably just projecting my own neuroses.)

    2. Carrie in Scotland

      We have a ‘buy 10’ hot drink thing in most our canteens (it’s university). anyway, in the spirit of “Black Friday” (it’s not really A Thing in the UK but they’re trying to make it one) the lady who gave me my hot drink stamped 6 spaces so now I can save it for when I am poor (in 2 weeks time) and get myself a free drink :)
      I have done things for people, like print reports out for people and post it to them if they couldn’t log into the computer system, as well as doing a lot of extra work for the people I did admin for.

      1. Elizabeth West

        “Black Friday” (it’s not really A Thing in the UK but they’re trying to make it one)

        I noticed that, since I’ve been reading the papers. :P And the canteen lady at your work is awesome.

    3. JAL

      I have opened myself up to my teammates to ask me questions whenever.

      I have kind of a funny story related to that:
      I work at a company that does surveys for major home insurance companies and last week one of my coworkers had someone who had a dingo (yes, THAT kind of dingo) in their home as their pet. We were debating over whether to mark it on the insurance forms as a dog or an exotic animal. Exotic animal definitely won.

    4. Rowan

      I’ve had an enormous project on top of my normal more than full-time job and one of my colleagues has rearranged a bunch of her slightly less urgent work so she can help out next week. We might actually get it done, at which point I think I will actually cry tears of gratitude.

    5. Cath in Canada

      In my team, the people who are on deadline and/or very pregnant get brought hot drinks and lunches by the people who aren’t.

      My colleague took my 6 am teleconference for me when I was on vacation so I didn’t have to call in.

      There are two people in other departments who bring us chocolates or baked treats at our desks from time to time.

    6. Elizabeth West

      I might have posted this already, but someone anonymously left me a $50 Walmart gift card near Christmas one year at Exjob, when I was having a particularly difficult time financially. :3 *snif* I never did find out who it was.

    7. Ann Furthermore

      I don’t know if this qualifies as a “good deed,” but it was still very nice.

      I’ve traveled a few times this year with a colleague who is from India. We’ve never really worked closely together on anything before, so we didn’t really know each other that well. While chatting over breakfast one morning when we were in California, we were talking about our company’s office in Germany and he mentioned an Indian restaurant there that I’ve heard about, but never been to myself. He said it’s very good, and I replied that I’d heard that from many people, but had never gone because I always seem to be there with people who aren’t big fans of Indian food. I said that Americans seem to either really, really love Indian food (like me), or really, really not like it at all. That night we went our for Indian food, and it was fabulous.

      Next time we were there, we went to another place that he’d heard about, and we ended up driving all over creation looking for it. We finally found it, and it was worth it — totally yummy. As we were driving back to the hotel, we passed by another really tiny Indian restaurant, and he said that he’d been there before and the food was excellent, but hadn’t wanted to go there because he was concerned I’d be uncomfortable since it was a hole-in-the-wall kind of place.

      I told him he wouldn’t have needed to worry — sometimes the best food is at the most unassuming looking places. But I just thought it was so nice for him to be so considerate, and I told him that was very thoughtful and I really appreciated it.

    8. Kyrielle

      Co-workers who have taken after-hours on call shifts for each other at the drop of a hat when Life came up for the person who was supposed to have it. Not because the bosses mandated it (which they eventually would have), but because we care about each other.

    9. Andrea

      This one is at school not work, but I think it still applies. I was flying back to university after a break and a lady on the plane offered me a ride into the city. Since it was a 45 minute drive to campus from the airport, and a super expensive can ride or crazy long bus ride, it made my week. I was so grateful and I remember saying that I felt bad I couldn’t pay (really only had bus fair) and she said not to worry because I’d have a chance to pay it forward sometime. So, when it’s raining and someone needs help with groceries or a kid is escaping or some other sort of daily annoyance I try to help out. It was a small gesture in the scheme of her day but I remember it 15 years later.

    10. Schmitt

      My otherwise insensitive colleague suggested sending an advent calendar to our ex-colleague who was laid off last year! We had it shipped to his new workplace.

    11. Jen RO

      One of my coworkers just went on maternity leave, so we bought her some gifts for her future baby. On her part, she is planning a surprise visit – one other coworker looked up to pregnant lady and is really upset that she will be gone for a year, so pregnant lady is going to pop by unannounced on the coworker’s birthday this month.

      1. Jen RO

        Also, the guy who sells coffee to the entire building complex has started me give me cream free of charge :)

    12. Katie the Fed

      Here’s my good deed:

      We had a contractor removed for reasons I would frame as mistakes, not malice. If you’ve noticed anything about me here, I’m very much about giving second chances if people didn’t really intend to do anything wrong and I think they sincerely want to do better. Unfortunately, in this case the mistakes were big enough that his future here was untenable.

      But, I felt strongly that he had a lot of potential, but was just young and inexperienced and made some big mistakes (while I was out of the office too so I couldn’t really help him through them). So I reached out to him and talked to him – he was devastated. I helped him identify types of work that might be a better fit for him, and then I helped him update his resume (including links to AAM). I think shopped his resume around to other companies I know with my recommendation that although he’d lost his first job, I really thought he was a hard worker and good guy who deserved a chance.

      Well, he got an offer from one of them. He’s so happy right now and I did tell him that my reputation is on the line too now so he needs to take this extra seriously and do his best, but not to be afraid next time to ask for help if he’s struggling. I think he’ll be fine – this work is much better for him. I’m excited for him!

        1. Katie the Fed

          aw thanks. It’s not that big a deal – he just didn’t really have anyone giving him advice – he seemed really lost and confused. I also kind of loved the realization that I’m suddenly senior enough that my recommendations carry a bit of weight – who knew?

          Who knows, maybe I’ll be coming to him for a job someday :) It never hurts to stack up favors.

          1. Shell

            Still my hero. ;) I actually had an ex-coworker ask me for advice semi-recently and yeah, I definitely thought of all of you while I was writing a reply!

            This blog has taught me so much about how to be an adult. Definitely trying to pass it on :)

    13. Shell

      I visited my previous job two days ago after I got out of work to say hello to my old boss and ex-coworkers. A surprising amount of people remember me (even the ones that I didn’t work for/with)! In fairness, I visit semi-regularly.

      And I swear for those that don’t remember me/never knew me, I may soon become “that person who comes by a few times a year and always brings chocolates.” I know my ex-coworkers love the treats at least.

    14. Thankful for my team

      I have three direct reports. This question made me laugh because today I did a favor for one of them, taking his dog out three times while he was on the other side of the state with his son for a work/fun trip. This is the one that is the least interested in mixing his work and personal life so I was kind of surprised when he asked. My second direct report brought me a casserole when my dad died. I visited her a couple of times after she had hip surgery, bringing her dinner, and bringing her mail/newspaper in. My third direct report … I know he would do anything for me and vice versa. When I think of the ways we are considerate of each other in our working relationship, I like to paraphrase the little plaques: “love is … covering pre-planned events on evenings and weekends so he doesn’t have to” (from my end) and “love is … covering fires and accidents in the middle of the night so she doesn’t have to” (from his end).

    15. S from CO

      A co-worker passed away and I heard that his wife needed money to buy gifts for her grand children. I sent her a card with a Walmart gift card in it to help her out. She was very thankful and called me to thank me. I was happy to do it since her husband had helped me several times at work. He was a kind man and he will be missed.

  5. Elkay

    Burning bridges. It’s referred to on here a lot “don’t do that you’ll burn your bridges with them” but has anyone ever seen a burnt bridge have an effect? As in, someone applied for a job at an unrelated company and someone said “Don’t employ them, they melted all the teapots when they left the last place I was at with them”?

    1. Katie the Fed

      Oh yes. When you work in a fairly small field it’s very easy to find out about people.

      So I’ll get contractor resumes from time to time, and if they say the previously worked in my organization (either as a contractor or government employee) I know enough people that it’s easy for me to make a quick call and get the skinny on someone. And there have definitely been people who looked great on paper but I get a “Here There Be Dragons!” alert from someone I know. And since we don’t interview contractors (their companies do that) it’s invaluable.

      1. Pineapple Incident

        “Here There Be Dragons!” alert- SO funny! I’ll be calling this preemptive warning from friends exactly this from now on. Thanks for the inspiration and great material

      2. Bea W

        Seen that happen where I work. I don’t think it was so much people burnt bridges as they really just didn’t leave their co-workers with the impression they were that good at their job.

    2. Sammy

      Yes! for sure it has happened to me. Nothing else to say here – I burned bridge, and suffered the fallout!

    3. kdizzle

      Absolutely. For me, the most obvious examples were in academia. We would have faculty who would outright refuse to consider someone for a position (even when this someone was a well-known, highly respected researcher) because of some nonsense that happened in the 1970’s when they were in graduate school together.

      It always struck me as crazy; I’d be in big trouble if I was forever judged as the idiot I was when I was in grad school.

      1. Elkay

        That’s interesting because the situation that made me wonder about it concerns behaviour in an education context.

        My cousin is early 40s and has only ever worked retail. She’s always wanted to work with animals and has been doing some volunteering with a local group. The group has a relationship with a local college and they offered all the volunteers a free place on a year long course which would qualify them to work with animals. They actually had more volunteers than places so initially she wasn’t going to get a place but the group pulled some strings and all the volunteers were allowed to attend.

        Her husband earns enough to support them frugally so she quit her last retail job because the hours didn’t work for their family. Now she’s had an offer of a retail job which would mean dropping out of the course. All I keep thinking is that she may be burning bridges but she says it’s OK because the group never take on full time paid workers so she won’t be applying for jobs with them. I’m unclear whether she’s going to keep on volunteering for them.

        1. Observer

          If you are going to discuss this further, point out to her that this group might never hire her, but they probably DO talk to other groups that DO hire. Since she doesn’t have any other experience working with animals, she would want to put this experience volunteering on her resume or cover letter, but if she does this, she would probably not be able to do that.

    4. Felicia

      Only in the sense that it affects peoples’ references. Like when the company they applied to checks the references, their former employer will say “don’t hire this person, because they did all these unprofessional things”, and very occasionally, someone who was fired will reapply to the same company 5 years later and someone will remember them. – I work in a big city and a relatively big industry so it’s usually only with references where you see bridges truly burned.

      Though if i ever saw a former coworker who made a lot of very damaging mistakes apply anywhere i worked, I would say something.

      1. Persephone Mulberry

        We had a guy who got fired for cause, then put my manager down as a reference SEVEN YEARS LATER, as if we would have forgotten how much he sucked. And not even one of those “include contact information for every job you’ve ever had” deals – it was “Joe Schmoe applied for a job with us and listed you as his reference.” Um, what?

      2. Bea W

        Had a guy apply for a manager position with a former employer. He claimed he used to work there as a manager. LOLOLOLOL no you didn’t! Did you really think no one would either remember or look it up? Same guy had also been fired for cause from another employer. Also heard from co-workers who worked with him at yet a 3rd place that he was “useless”.

    5. doreen

      It doesn’t even have to be “Don’t employ them”. My husband used to be in retail management. A few years later, he and one of the buyers from that company were working at a distributor when the retailer went out of business and a couple of the regional managers applied for jobs at the distributor. My husband and the buyer simply said ” no comment” when asked about them and they were not hired.

    6. some1

      Years ago I worked in a municipal law office. One of the attorneys was unethical and creepy. He left to start his own business. The business didn’t work out and he re-applied for every opening but they wouldn’t re-hire.

      1. Aam Admi

        In my case it is actually the employer (my current department) that is seriously burning bridges. Interesting things are unravelling at my workplace while I am in the process of transferring to another department. Once this story concludes, I hope to share it with AAMers in a future Friday open thread.

    7. Tris Prior

      Yeah, this happened pretty often in my previous field where everyone knew everyone. And if you didn’t know a candidate, you always knew someone who’d worked with them before. People never hesitated to dish. The few times my manager hired someone despite his/her reputation, we ALWAYS regretted it.

    8. Graciosa

      Yes, it has an effect.

      On the positive side, this is also how you get good references. I gave an excellent one to a great worker who was treated badly by a different manager at our former mutual employer. That person completely deserved it (and ended up in a much better job).

      I’m a great believer in the importance of your professional reputation – it’s amazing how often people do get what they deserve (bad or good).

    9. Artemesia

      When I was hiring, I eliminated someone from the potential interview pool who looked great on paper but had done work for another division of our organization. I touched base with the head of that division and got an earful. When he didn’t get the interview he went on a tear writing memos all up the food chain claiming he was obviously the man for the job so it must be age discrimination. The position actually was perfect for an older applicant in a second career and the person we hired was retired military — with pension. His behavior of course cemented our conviction we had been right in excluding him.

      If he had not alienated the management of the other division he would at least have been a finalist for the job.

    10. Bea W

      Can’t say I have witnessed it, but there are certain people at one job I left that set the bridge on fire, and no way in heck I would recommend them or an entire company, and that’s not so much because they burnt a bridge, but because of what they did to burn it. Someone high up at a former employer did totally illegal and hinky things with my paycheck after I submitted my resignation and HR backed her up with more BS. You bet I steered people away from applying there after that, and no by literally saying “don’t work there”, by telling them what happened to me and letting them decide if they want to risk more of the same. Now that this person is gone, I no longer do that, but I felt a need to be honest about it as long as she was there, because I wasn’t the first person who got screwed, and I knew I wouldn’t be the last. As far as I know she’s not picked up another job. Unsure if she has been looking, but she was much too young to retire.

      Moral of the story: Don’t get retribution on outgoing co-workers and don’t do anything illegal to get that retribution.

    11. Cath in Canada

      Oh hell yeah!

      There are a couple of obnoxious people from one of my former jobs who mysteriously can’t get interviews at my current workplace, because there are several of us here who used to work with them. One of those people (not me) is often involved in screening CVs, and we’re all consulted when someone from that former job applies here.

    12. YourCdnFriend

      Yep and I’ve done it! One person was incredibly rude to me for no reason at a conference (like went out of her way to be rude to me). Her name came up in a hiring decision and I did not hesitate to tell my story. I don’t even feel bad; she was a mean person with boundary issues.

    13. Ann Furthermore

      Yep — and I’ve seen it go in both directions.

      We did a HUGE, multi-year ERP upgrade a few years ago. It was a very high-profile project, and many customized, existing business processes were completely scrapped and redesigned. Tensions were high, stress levels were higher, and the pressure-cooker atmosphere of this place as we were approaching the launch date was unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. My little piece of the project didn’t have very many new or redesigned processes, and I was supporting users I’d known for a few years, and I was able to anticipate what they wanted.

      But there were a couple contractors brought in for their expertise on a few of the more high-profile pieces of the project and their relationship with my employer came to an abrupt end. I don’t know all the details, but I’m sure there was enough blame to go around on both sides.

      The upshot is that no one at the management level has anything good to say about those contractors. And, I’ve heard from a few former co-workers that those contractors have nothing complimentary to say about my employer, and they warn other contractors not to work here.

    14. Kyrielle

      We had a gentleman interview who sent a very unhappy and aggressive set of emails after he was not selected (by, if he but knew it, the narrowest of margins).

      A new opening occurred a couple months later. General consensus is that he probably would have been offered that position without even interviewing, had he just said “thanks” for the previous interview and left it at that. Instead? If he were to apply again, there is no way he would even get an interview, let alone the position.

    15. Hillary

      It absolutely has an effect, particularly in a small community or industry. I’ve met about a quarter of the people in my line of work in my area. Some of them I’d recommend in a heartbeat, some of them not so much. The ones I’d recommend get heads ups from me when I hear about openings or opportunities, and my contacts all do the same. Everyone knows when someone good is ready for a change.

      I got two jobs because a recruiter I was connected to through a former job positively remembered me and called to see if I was available. If I’d burned bridges (with his wife, who’s still at that company), my career would have taken a different path.

    16. Jen RO

      Yup – and I wasn’t even working at the company he was applying to.

      One former coworker was a mess – from slacking on his work to yelling at us – and we knew he was job searching. Since we are in a very small industry, most people in my department got invited to all interviews for similar jobs… so, when we saw that recruiting company X was hiring, and we realized that a coworker knew someone at recruiting company X… let’s just say he was quickly removed from consideration.

    17. AnotherAlison

      There are only three big employers in my industry in my city. You cannot exist anonymously at one company and apply to another. Someone there will know someone who knows you. I can’t think of anyone who did something really incredulous that qualified as “burned bridges,” but people have freely said an applicant was just “eh” when they worked with them at a previous company. Happens all the time.

      The sad thing is you do not realize how small my industry is until you’ve been in it a while, so I think it’s easy for new grads to mess this up. For example, I was on a trip with a coworker from a different office a couple weeks ago, and I was asking him about his previous experience. He said he worked at a competitor in MD. I know ONE person who works in that location, and he knew her.

    18. NZ Muse

      I recently found out that they were planning to hire a different candidate originally for my job, but someone in HR at headquarters saw the paperwork and got in touch with our office to let them know that that person was actually kind of a PITA and warn them off.

    19. Ludo

      Just before I was hired at current company, I worked for Company X. I was not in any way a supervisor at Company X but I held a leadership position among my peers. Temp Coworker Dave in Special Teapots Department was known for using company resources to develop his own Special Teapot business on the side and to lower the cost of his own teapots that he wanted to buy. This was a massive ethics violation and a direct violation of explicit company policy. When I discovered this, I reported it to HR who opted to do nothing as his contact was ending in a few weeks (add to the list of reasons I left Company X).

      I interviewed as was offered a supervisor position at Current Company. My first duty was to hire a new team. Upon being initially offered the job at Current Company, the recruiter asking me “So do you know Temp Coworker Dave? He says he also worked at Company X in the Special Teapots department, although he didn’t mention you. He applied to work on your team. Do you think we should interview him?”

      Temp Coworker Dave will probably never know it, but he lost out on a job because of his bad behavior at a previous role that a coworker found out about.

    20. KAZ2Y5

      We had someone apply for a tech position where I used to work and I noticed that she used to work with a friend of mine. So I called my friend up to ask about her and my friend’s first words were “Oh, did she clear up that gun charge?” Obviously we did not call the woman in for an interview!

    21. HR Manager

      Yep, my colleagues and I (fellow HR folk) have touched base throughout the years to get back-door references on candidates/applicants all the time and that includes how they exited (especially since some of our industries have been close-knit ones).

      With that being said, there are very few incidents in which someone has really flamed out. In many years of HR, I would say that’s pretty good. The flagrant bridge-burner is rare for me; I’m happy to say that most people I’ve come across have been quite professional.

  6. Under the Radar for This

    When did you know it was time to leave your job? Before, I used to spring out of bed, excited to get to work. Now, because of a toxic environment and people that just won’t leave, I’m dreading going in on Monday.

    1. JMegan

      When you start referring to your workplace as a toxic environment, and dreading going in, I’d say that’s a pretty good sign. :/ I would dust off your resume and start searching right away. Good luck!

    2. Ali

      I’m looking to leave my job, and it became obvious to me when I started feeling burned out and lost interest in the type of work I’m doing, and even in the industry. I’m in a field *a lot* of people want to be in, and I feel fortunate that I got the job to begin with, but like with most things, it’s not as glamorous as it looks to people who want to break in. I learned that the hard way both on my own and through a talk with a mentor. I also started pursuing outside opportunities and talking to Alison about my resume once it became clear that there didn’t look to be much room to move up. (And there still isn’t.) My boss basically told me that I might get promoted, but I also might not, and he didn’t know either way and didn’t want to blow smoke. I didn’t take that as a ringing endorsement, so I decided to start looking…first passively for a while, but I’ve amped it up over the last couple months.

      I’m off all weekend (my job requires shift work so I work most of Saturday/Sunday, which I’m also tired of) and I know come Sunday I’ll be dreading Monday…

    3. The Other Dawn

      For me it was when things I used to enjoy, despite other crap going on, became drudgery. And when I dreaded every day. I would stay up as late as possible the night before trying to delay the inevitable of having to go to work.

    4. nep

      Dreading going in to work is a pretty good indicator that it’s time to think about moving on. No paycheck is worth one’s health and well-being. Stress kills. I hope you’ll have a chance to improve things where you’re currently working, or start pursuing other avenues and liberate yourself from a toxic environment.

    5. LizH

      That’s a serious clue. In this market, it may take a while to find something, so I would start preparing now. Get the resume updated if needed, and start looking. From my experience, it doesn’t get better until you can find a way out. When I was in that situation, I would go to work, say hi and bye, and do the best job possible. Beyond that, I would not share anything personal, or interact with anyone anymore then I had to. Try to hang in there, network, and start applying for other positions. My toxic environment caused me serious health issues. Good luck to you.

    6. Kay

      I think a pretty good signal also is how you feel after a vacation/PTO for a few days. I think most people that have jobs they like reasonably well are ready to get back to work after a week off or so. But if even after a break, you find yourself completely dreading returning to the job, there’s something wrong.

    7. Cruciatus

      While I don’t quite have the dread thing about going IN to work since my boss comes in later than I do, I find when my boss comes around lately I want to throttle him. So that was my clue. He’s having me work on something that is not related to work (putting together contact lists and a brochure for a conference he’s been organizing FOR.EVER!) It’s putting me behind on everything that IS important with mandatory deadlines. He’s normally a good boss, but he thinks I can do these things faster than him but I always find mistakes and end up spending WAAAAY more time on it than I should have (I think I never should have worked on them in the first place). He came by one day to give me new instructions, saw my face, asked about it and I told him I was feeling overwhelmed and I wasn’t able to get my main work and he was basically just like “Oh, well, anyway, here’s what I need…” On Wednesday, for TWO HOURS I worked on these f&$@ing name tags that don’t work in our printers. He called IT and I had to stand near my desk for a long time doing nothing but wishing everyone would go away so I could GO HOME and not put up with this anymore…

      So, those things were my clue! It’s going to have to happen anyway (not paid enough, there’s nothing to move up to), but everything I once really liked about my boss, I find less charming these days. I’ve been applying for a while, but I’m now hoping even harder than ever that I will get an interview soon. Whew, thanks for letting me vent! Guess 2 days off so far hasn’t chilled me out…

    8. Bea W

      For certain when a manager told me that the Big Boss doesn’t fire people because she’d rather just torture them. I am pretty sure that’s the straw that broke the camel’s back at that particular job. I too dreaded going into work. I was stressed out, and frequently ill. When it comes to that, it’s well past time to get out!

    9. Katie the Fed

      I used to feel physically ill as I approached the building in my last job. I think people carry their stress in different places in the body – for me it’s my stomach. I was having bad gastro-intestinal upset constantly and it peaked every morning as I approached my office.

    10. Sunflower

      For me, I really realized it was when every little thing would bug me. Every time someone asks me to do something that is beyond my basic duties, I get really aggravated. Things that used to just be everyday BS at work, gets me really riled up. My advice to you is start looking now. It’s never too early and the market is still pretty tough so it might take a while. I am trying to get through this last month of being insanely busy and then come the new year, my workload is going to lighten a lot. At that point, I’m going to continue doing the minimal work I need and (trying) to keep a smile on my face but my main focus is turning to getting out of my job and into a better one

    11. AnotherAlison

      Based on my personal experience, I think your signs are pretty good, esp. if this feeling of dread has gone on for a while.

      I left a 6-year position for an internal transfer in August.

      I knew professionally that it was time to go, because there was just nowhere for me to move to in my then-department that was a good fit and I was sick to death of doing the same work week after week. However, I did not realize how personally miserable I was. I *thought* I liked my coworkers and boss. Days into my new position, though, I realized how dysfunctional and awful that department and the people were. The new group was so. much. better. No gossip, no cliques. It is lovely.

      There were about 20 people in my former department, and one other left around the same time as me, and three more left since then, including someone who had been with the company 16 years. My former work group of two was also restructured (the new hire who replaced me was at a higher level, reporting directly to someone higher up than my former boss). I hope it IS better there now, but there were obviously a lot bigger problems going on that I was blind to while I was in the middle of it.

    12. DBAGirl

      I’ve left a few jobs, for different reasons….

      Job #1 out of college – 2 years in, I got a 3rd boss. She hated me on sight (I was a smoker, I think that set her off).
      She actually did me a favor. I ended up with a 30% raise, a “real” medical plan, and my first ever 401(k).

      Job #3 – I left after a year once I realized it wasn’t a real job. It was a consulting practice that was crippled from the start by the means the practice lead used to staff up. I could not have known that when I took the job. But once I figured out why I wasn’t getting any new work, I ran to the Net to find a Real Job.

      Job #5 – after 16 months in Job #5, I had had 2 great reviews. No raise, and a bonus that was so pathetic that my boss apologized for it at the start of the review. There had been a big layoff 6 weeks before my review. I decided that my 2 year plan could be accelerated and I went looking. I resigned 4 weeks to the day after my review. My boss (I liked him, he wasn’t a factor in my looking) said, “Nothing surprises me here”.

      Every job has bad days….I have had 2 jobs of 10 years that I didn’t include above. You develop a sense of “maybe I can do better” and you should listen to it if you are unhappy overall.

      Dreading Mondays sucks. If you can’t see it getting better in a few months, I would suggest starting a discreet job search. Best of luck!

    13. Nobody

      I knew it was time to leave when I got reprimanded for something that never happened. Someone just made up a story saying I did something terrible and spread it around, and when my manager heard it, he immediately put a letter in my file and reprimanded me. I had to beg him to do the tiniest bit of investigation, because it was pretty easy to prove that the accusations were completely false. I was later exonerated, and the letter was removed from my file, but it was horrifying to see that my manager believed the slanderous rumor without question. Even though I had gotten excellent performance reviews, from that day forward, I had constant fear for my job security.

      I foolishly stuck around for almost 3 more years, thinking that if I just worked hard and kept my head down, I would be ok, but it just got increasingly worse from there. Thanks to the slanderous rumors that everybody heard but few knew were complete lies, everybody believed every bad thing said about me. At one point, some coworkers actually started a petition to fire me. I am really lucky that I found another job before they found a way to make it happen.

    14. Ludo

      As soon as I start dreading nearly every day. I don’t mean the casual, once in awhile, thought of “oh it would be great to stay at home today.” I mean when you consider faking sick several times a month (or actually do it). When you hate the thought of going in and your blood pressure rises as you get closer. So on and so forth.

      At that point (if not before) it is time to determine if a. you can make changes at that workplace that will remedy the issue or b. you can find a new job.

  7. Golden Yeti

    Vent: So frustrated. The head of the company keeps asking me to write articles for him, which he passes off as his own. Mind you, some of the things, I don’t want credit for, because the premises are terrible. But this guy is a (self-published) author (who also has terrible grammar). However, if he believed in his own work enough to actually publish it in the past, why am I stuck doing his dirty work for nothing? I wouldn’t mind so much if it was general company kind of articles, but these are always “from him.” Grrr… *vent over*

    1. Colette

      Why does that bother you? Is he getting positive comments on the articles, or do you just feel like he’s getting away with something?

      And why aren’t you getting paid – aren’t you doing this at work?

      1. Golden Yeti

        I don’t get anything extra besides my regular wage. They just know I’m the best writer here, so I’ve become their crutch. I think why it irked me a little extra this morning is he wrote this long e-mail starting most of the sentences with “I want to write an article about…” (If he wants to write it, there’s nothing stopping him from doing it himself, but it’s just head honcho-speak for “I’ll say I want to, but I mean I want you to do the work for me.”) He wants me to research, and write a draft with references, and then he’ll write the article. Basically all this means is I’ll do the heavy lifting, and he’ll come in, add a few tidbits, and blast it to the industry as something he wrote, when he mostly just chose the topic.

        He gets positive comments, but it bugs me more because it feels like he’s getting away with something.

        1. fposte

          I do think that’s pretty common, though; even if it’s not usual at your boss’s level, most executives are constantly making statements that somebody else wrote for them. Pretty much every press release in the world does that; that’s what communications staff are for. I suspect his hopes for what people believe about his writing are optimistic.

          To me, then, the question is whether you’re getting paid appropriately for this kind of task or wish to do it as part of your job. When you say “wages” I’m not sure if you mean you’re nonexempt and aren’t getting paid for your writing time, which would be a big illegal no, or if you just mean you’re exempt and don’t get any additional pay for this, which would be legal. Do you think this work is substantial enough or paid differently enough that it should be reflected in your pay? Then make a case for that.

          1. Golden Yeti

            Oh, for sure. Companies have entire teams dedicated to that kind of thing. I think I would be non-exempt. It is legal, and I have no problem pitching in now and then when needed, but it’s gotten to the point where I would say I’m writing about 75% of public-facing material.

            I think that is the question. Wage is a big reason why I’m looking for something else. I’ve been here 3.5 years, and I’m still making 65% below provincial average for my field.

            1. fposte

              Ah, I didn’t realize you were Canadian, so I have no clue on the legalities. But if you’re underpaid, that’s going to sour just about everything you’re asked to do, so I can understand why this galls.

              1. Colette

                I was wondering the same thing. (I’m kind of embarrassed I’ve never looked it up, actually.)

                Here’s a link for Ontario: http://www.labour.gov.on.ca/english/es/pubs/guide/overtime.php

                However, Golden Yeti, it’s still not clear to me whether you’re getting paid to do this writing (i.e. are you doing it in work hours, as part of your normal job duties). In other words, do you feel like you’re not getting paid enough to do this work (even though you’re being compensated for the time) or are you not getting paid for the time?

                1. Golden Yeti

                  Sorry for the confusion! :) It’s during work hours, so it’s not overtime or anything, thankfully. I just feel like for the variety of responsibilities I have (including articles such as this), I’m underpaid. My direct manager has been here three times as long as I have, and does as much if not more, and I don’t think she’s making much more than I do. Not very inspiring when contemplating a future with a company.

                2. Colette

                  That makes sense! I think you’re focusing on the wrong thing, then. It’s not that the head of the company is taking credit for your writing, or that you’re not getting paid to do the writing (because you are), it’s that you’re not getting paid what you believe you should be for the overall work that you do.

                3. Golden Yeti

                  I think you’re right. :) The writing is just one piece of a large puzzle, and that happened to be the piece that cropped up to bug me today. I think part of the reason why it bugs me is because I usually enjoy writing. So to not enjoy what I’m writing, and feel generally slighted on top of that, taints that enjoyment for me (it also probably taints my overall perspective and patience at work in general).

        2. Colette

          Is it taking away from your actual job?

          Heads of companies hire other people to make their jobs easier, and so that they don’t have to do everything themselves – in other words, you have a job so that you can do the heavy lifting.

          No one looks at a CEO and thinks “Wow, she did all of that work by herself” – everyone knows there are other people involved. At the same time, a CEO isn’t going to stand up at an earnings call and say “Well, really it was Sally in sales who caused us to have such a good year”.

          Similarly, when a politician makes a speech, there’s a good chance she didn’t write it entirely on her own. It’s normal to have people do some or all of the work. This is no different.

          1. Golden Yeti

            At times, yes.

            I guess I should explain a little more, too. I’m not always just doing heavy lifting. Sometimes I’m doing things that could literally be done in 3 keystrokes, which to me is kind of ridiculous. For instance, I’ve had an article emailed back to me because the boss wanted one more space between the title and the text. I was actually asked to do that and send it back again. To me, stuff like that seems to imply more laziness than being too overwhelmed to do something.

            You are absolutely right: nobody expects a CEO to do all the work, and it isn’t right to. And it would seem weird to recognize one staff member contributing to success rather than the entire team. At the same time, though, we are a tiny company (under 10 people). Even though the head honcho can’t be expected to do everything, and that’s why we’re all here, you would think he’d have time to open an article, hit enter, and save it, ya know?

            1. Colette

              He could, but that’s why he’s paying you.

              Look at it a different way. I pay someone to plow my driveway in winter, because I don’t want to do it myself. If I come home and find that they missed something (e.g. there’s a pile of snow blocking the entrance), I’m going to call them. Yes, I could go out and shovel it myself, but I don’t have to do that because I’m paying them to do it for me.

              1. Golden Yeti

                Eh, it doesn’t seem like a direct comparison to me, but I do see what you’re getting at.

                I guess, as fposte said, it all comes down to pay. If you’re paying me $25 an hour to shovel your snow, I have no problem going back and clearing a missed spot. If you’re paying me $13 an hour, I’ll still do it because you’re a paying customer, but I’m going to kick myself for starters, but also struggle more internally over whether the drive and such to correct the issue is worth it.

                I think if I felt I was being paid a fair wage that would encompass such idiosyncrasies, it would be easier to do willingly and feel like that’s what I’m paid for. As it is, being relatively low paid and stretched in many different directions, plus dealing with the idiosyncrasies, I tend to feel more like my time would be more effectively spent doing more substantial things.

                1. Not So NewReader

                  It’s looking to me like writing for the boss problem is a symptom of a larger problem. It could be that you hit the straw that broke the camel’s back. I’ve had situations where the boss adds “just one more thing, just one more thing” over and over. Then one day he adds Thing #237 and my patience with the boss is OVER/done.

                  I have a part time job now, that involves all kinds of stuff. Well, I ended up doing some writing for the boss. (Not a lot, however.) The boss also gave me a 20% pay increase without me having to ask. Yeah, I will keep writing for him. The difference in our situations is day and night, GY.
                  I think that you hit that final straw and now it is unavoidable- your eyes got thrown wide open.

                  All this writing that you do is a nice feather in your cap. I am sure it will look great on a resume. And finally, this is kind of mean, but when YOU leave, you take your ability to write with you. He will have to figure out something else.

                2. Golden Yeti

                  Not So NewReader, I’ve pondered your last point myself, too. The thought has crossed my mind that when I leave, they might offer me contract writing work so that the quality of what they’re producing doesn’t dip. If that happens, I don’t plan to take it.

            2. fposte

              Yeah, I’m with Colette. A lot of work I delegate is stuff I could do myself, and much of it I could do faster than my staff does. But if I delegate it, I can do *other* stuff instead, which is what my organization wants me to do.

          2. Ask a Manager Post author

            Totally agree with Colette here. You’re there to make his job easier. It’s not unreasonable that he’s assigning you this work. And it’s very, very normal to ghostwrite things for executives; it’s incredibly normal, in fact. I did a ton of it in the first few years of my career. It never occurred to me to be annoyed by it — it really is normal.

            It sounds like you might have legitimate beefs about your pay and about not really liking the work you’re doing, but I think it’s important to have clarity that those are the issues here and not that you’re being asked to write articles under someone else’s byline.

        3. Cassie

          I get it – I’m in a similar situation where my boss and others know that I’m probably one of the best writers around here (that’s not saying much – everyone is just terrible at writing). I don’t mind doing it, and it is actually something I am proud of, but it does irk me from time to time. Especially since there are times where other people get credit for producing xyz document, but it was actually just me who wrote it.

          I also hate it when people are vague about the content – if they could at least jot down bullet points, it would make it so much easier for me to write. But when I have to do the research, read their minds for their viewpoint, and then write it, it’s too tiresome.

    2. HeyNonnyNonny

      Oh, argh! I hate execs who basically make you ghost write. Just remember– it sounds good on a resume, at the very least!

      1. Mister Pickle

        Yeah. I can totally relate to what Golden Yeti is saying. On the other hand – some people would love to be able to say that they’re paid to write professionally.

        Re how lots of CEOs do this, etc – there’s apparently been some controversy down the years over a former US President who claims to have written a book – a book that won a Pulitzer – that was largely written by an uncredited research assistant (although the research assistant in question will only modestly assert that he “helped choose the words of many of its sentences”).

        I know a couple of people who are famous in their profession – nobody here would be impressed at who – and it has long struck me as interesting and educational to note that they didn’t get famous simply by being good at what they do. They actually had to put some time and effort and money into the “fame” part of the equation: making themselves available as a speaker, acquiring agents of various sorts, etc. It’s interesting to consider that when one thinks about the various celebrities and pundits that we look up to.

    3. fposte

      It won’t make you feel any better, but it happens at the other end of the experience spectrum, too–since I’m an editor, some of my best lines go out under other people’s bylines.

      1. Golden Yeti

        Thanks. Yeah, I’ve been on that side, too. As I said in the original post, I’m glad to not be credited on some of the stuff, because half of it borders on conspiracy theories, and I feel icky just writing it.

        At the same time, though, it’s crappy to feel like you’re a tool of convenience rather than someone whose work and effort is appreciated.

        1. Not So NewReader

          Yet another reason, what you are writing goes against your grain. I’d have a problem with that, too. You have more than one thing going on here- it’s enough to make anyone just want to RUN.

          1. Golden Yeti

            Well, exactly. I don’t have to 100% love what I’m writing all the time, but there are limits. More than once I’ve been basically instructed to “spin” a tragedy in the news. “Oh, this event was probably a government conspiracy.” “That tragic event could be directly compared to how we should watch for such and such issues.” It’s tacky. Tragedies happen, and they deserve to be pondered, not mined for soap box topics. To me, if you’re good at what you do, you should be able to just promote that and stand on it alone, without grasping for sensationalism or competition you can tear down. If what you have is truly good, that should be good enough. So, yeah, paranoiac writing definitely goes against the grain for me.

    4. Artemesia

      Speaking as the co-author of a book with a non-writing co-author, let me ask this. How sure are you that he actually wrote anything else he published? My co-author has co-authored with many others and his publishing got him hired and promoted — but far as I know about three quarters of his writing was actually done by the co-authors.

      1. Golden Yeti

        You make a really good point that I hadn’t thought about. Considering the grammar issues and all, that would explain a lot. It could’ve all just been similar to this: boss gets the idea, somebody else writes it.

  8. A.n.o.n.

    My last day at the current job was Wednesday. Ahhh I feel so free!

    I had my exit interview. It was my very first one. I felt like the HR person was fishing. When asked about my relationship with my manager I said it was good, he was always helpful and supportive. It’s true for me; I can’t speak for others in the department though. When I said it was good the HR person gave me a weird look and asked, “it’s good? Are you sure??” I know she was expecting a much different response based on feedback from past employees, but what I said was true as it pertains to me. I’m not stupid enough to burn a bridge and a good reference that I might need in the future. Besides I’ve been told by many people that feedback has been given by other people about this manager and nothing has ever been done with it. Since the feedback would be that he’s a micromanager and has crappy people skills, I didn’t feel the need to say anything. If it was that he’s abusive or negligent, I would’ve thought more seriously about saying something.

    One thing that annoyed me was that the HR woman put me on the spot and asked why I made my last day Wednesday and first day December 1 since I wouldn’t get the holiday pay from either job. It was said with the implication that I hadn’t thought it through. In my mind I was saying,”none of your effing business,” but I just said that I was actually going In tomorrow to do my paper work and get my badge made and would start fresh on Monday. Really I just wanted a little time off for the holiday and knew I wouldn’t get any time off for awhile. I should have just said that and not made something up, but I felt like a deer in the headlights.

    Anyway, onto bigger and better on Monday.

    1. Steve G

      my last day I’ve had for a long time is next Friday. I’m so happy to get out of there, an environment that used to be not the most positive but very professional and a great place to get different experiences to one, to one that went to very unprofessional, slow moving, counter-productive, and ego driven after a merger. I knew I needed to go when I complained about a bunch of counter-productive changes and I got an answer that was something like “well, its ok if we lose money and customers.” The whole point of why the processes me and others put in place (that the new people insisted on changing) was to keep customers and make money. If a for-profit business is comfortable losing either, I have no place being there.

        1. Steve G

          Yup…the new people remind me of business school when you’d read case studies and brainstorm about how to handle certain situations, and the professor would welcome crazy ideas because he didn’t want to stifle the discussion and wanted to foster creativity, the only thing is, those type of crazy ideas and changing-to-experiment-even-though-it-has-the-risk-to-harm should have a very little place in a for-profit business that is already successful and knows why it was successful…..I have one more week, but I keep thinking, is this company a way to make money and benefit everyone, or is it fodder for a very few to career climb and mess things up just so they can write “implemented wide-scale change” on a resume? Leaving out the part “wide-scale change was premature, not customer focused, caused lots of problems and was un-done after I left?” So like you, on to bigger and better..

    2. AvonLady Barksdale

      Congratulations! My last day was also Wednesday, but I don’t start until the 8th– imagine what your HR woman would have said to me… Completely none of her business.

      1. A.n.o.n.

        Congrats to you too! And thank you…I was wondering if I was just being a little too sensitive about it.

        1. Not So NewReader

          I don’t think you were sensitive about it. I think you saw it for what it was, a fishing expedition. And you decided not to bite then you followed through with that decision.
          Unfortunately, there are 5000 ways to ask if your boss is a jerk and HR decided to run down the list. It takes determination to get through a conversation like that.

    3. Sunflower

      Congrats! That’s super exciting and you’re so right about exit interviews. The idea behind them is great but ultimately it’s pretty risky to give 100% truthful feedback. But the characteristics you used to describe him are usually ones that will come out in other places so, as you said, I’m sure the company already has and idea about it

      1. HR Too

        How about this…my last day is this Friday but I don’t start the new gig until January! The HR representative might have flipped with that one !

        1. a.n.o.n.

          Ooooh! Lucky you!! Congrats on the new job.

          The way she asked about the gap was to be all cutesy and smiley and say, “But you won’t get paid from either job! Why would you do that?!” Well, I think my finances are my own business, not hers!

  9. Fawn

    Any tips for managing depression at work when the workplace is the main contributing factor to my depression? My boss asks how things are going, and I don’t even know where to start. Things are going horribly, but I’m having such a hard time figuring out how to tell her in a way that isolates the professional aspects (which, theoretically, she could address) from my mental health (which she obviously can’t directly control).

      1. OhNo

        Yes, this. Getting everything out, whether on paper or just in your head, can help a lot. Then once you have every single thing listed, you can go back and pull out things that are work related to bring up to your boss.

        Plus it can be really cathartic. And sometimes you’ll find things on the list that really make you feel bad, but when looking at them in relation to everything else, you can put them in perspective a little bit. If you have a close friend or family member that you trust, you could also bring the list to them and ask for help or advice on some things, too, if you feel like that would help.

  10. Nobody

    Earlier this year, I left a job where I was mercilessly bullied and mobbed by several coworkers and managers.  Still, I tried my best not to burn any bridges on my way out because there were other coworkers and managers I really liked, and I might consider going back to that company in the distant future after the bullies are gone.

    While I worked there, I brought in homemade fudge every year during the holidays.  This might sound silly, but I have fond memories of the peace and harmony that fudge brought.  Even the bullies raved about my delicious fudge, and for a few days, the break room chit chat revolved around the fudge rather than sniping at one another.

    I am thinking about mailing a box of fudge, along with a holiday greeting card, to my former workplace.  My hope is that it would rekindle their good memories of me and show that I am not holding grudges even against those who hurt me.  On the other hand, I’m worried that it might look stupid, weird, or desperate, and just give the bullies a fresh reason to ridicule me like they used to.

    What do you think? Should I send my ex-coworkers a box of fudge?

    1. fposte

      I’m a no. It seems like an investment in an ex that needs to end for your good–you need to be able to stop thinking about how they view you, and this will just prevent that.

    2. Colette

      I agree with fposte. I don’t think it would seem desperate or anything else you’re concerned about, I just think it’s an investment of your time and money that isn’t particularly healthy.

    3. Diet Coke Addict

      No, I wouldn’t. Nobody is going to think you’re holding a grudge because you are no longer contributing to the holiday cheer at a place you no longer work at.

      Make some fudge for yourself and enjoy it while being grateful you’re no longer there, and try to move past it.

    4. LizH

      I vote no. I appreciate that you took the high road, but you are now out of there. Leave it be. And, if you do it this year, how about the following years? Why open an old wound? If you wish to send a card to the individuals you got along with, that is one thing. But to contact the whole office when some of them did not respect you, and nothing was said to those people, then no.

    5. nep

      In this case the move sounds like it’s about being too attached to the past. Moving on truly is good for one’s sense of well-being in so many ways. You’ll never control what others think of you.
      I get how the gesture could be seen as demonstrating that you’re not holding grudges — but do you need to prove this to anyone? If you know deep down that you’re not holding grudges, that’s enough, isn’t it? And if you are still holding grudges, making that gesture won’t erase that. As I see it, it’s all up to you to really let go.

    6. CheeryO

      Doesn’t sound like they deserved homemade fudge when you were working there. Definitely don’t send a box now that you’ve moved on.

    7. OhNo

      While I agree with everyone that you should move on and not look back from that job, I’m going to go against the grain on the idea of sending them the fudge. If, and ONLY if, it would help you move on from that situation, then you should do it. Whether you think of it as a last goodbye, or a gesture of forgiveness, or a final “f–k you, I’m doing great”, or whatever – if it would make you feel better about the situation, then go ahead. But if it would add any stress to your current situation, or if it would make you think about that office any more than you already do, or if it would in any way negatively affect you, then don’t do it.

      Besides, it sounds like your new, nicer coworkers might be the ones who deserve your fudge. It might be a better idea for your own well-being to share some delicious treats with them instead.

      1. Graciosa

        I don’t think it will make Nobody [enlightening choice of name] feel better. The post reads as if he or she is hoping to create a good impression with [read finally win the approval of] a group of bullies.

        This is NEVER going to happen.

        Bullies will not respond with “How thoughtful! We were wrong about Nobody all along! Let’s send a nice thank you note and tell Nobody how much we appreciate the kind gesture.”

        Bullies will read this as a sign of weakness and attempt to appease the powerful [which it kind of is] and the response is more likely to be along the lines of “How lame – Nobody doesn’t even work here and is still trying to curry favor. Oh well, at least the fudge is worthwhile.”

        A box of fudge is not going to shame these people into decency or regret. It didn’t do it while Nobody was a co-worker, and it certainly won’t do it while Nobody isn’t even that.

        I’m with HeyNonnyNonny on sharing the fudge with new coworkers instead – gifts should be shared with people who will appreciate them.

      2. AvonLady Barksdale

        I think the “f–k you” (SO TEMPTING) still translates as, “She’s not over us!” Make some F–k Off Fudge and share it with your new office or your friends. (Or me.)

    8. Artemesia

      I don’t know about desperate, but it would feel weird to me. NOthing is as ‘gone’ as an ex employee; returning with Christmas goodies would just seem odd. Especially when you are bullied to come back from one more noogie seems self destructive. Give fudge to your shiny new co-workers.

    9. Bea W

      No. Not worth it. Bullies will always be bullies. They will devour your fudge and laugh over all the crappy things they did to you. Save your fudge for people who deserve it.

    10. A.n.o.n.

      Avoid the urge to be a people pleaser. Keep the fudge for yourself and enjoy it while sitting I’m your jammies, thinking about how much of a better person you are than them. Or share with your new coworkers.

    11. Ann Furthermore

      No. You’re on to bigger and better things. Let the bullies at your last job suffer through the holidays without your fudge.

    12. arjumand

      I agree with the commenters who don’t think sending the fudge to your old office is a good idea. I have a much better one, below.
      This only really works if your ex-coworkers can see your posts on Instagram or Facebook, or some kind of social media.

      Step 1: Make a batch of fudge (am slowly turning green with envy, here).
      Step 2: Take picture of newly made deliciousness, caption with FUDGE!
      Step 3: Take fudge to NEW office, and immortalize moment with picture series of NEW co-workers enjoying said fudge.
      Step 4 (optional): Take selfie of yourself tenting your fingers together like Mr Burns. Caption with this quote from Sun Tzu: “If you wait by the river long enough, the bodies of your enemies will float by.”

      Oh, ok: the quote can be “Excellent”, if you like.

    13. Nobody

      Thanks for all the responses! I am a little surprised by the overwhelming consensus that it’s a bad idea, but I can see now that it would probably not go over as I would have hoped. I worked there for almost 10 years, so it is kind of hard to let go, but maybe it’s better to move on without looking back. I am definitely bringing some fudge to my new coworkers (who are wonderful and treat me well — one of them even invited me to Thanksgiving dinner with her family).

      1. DBAGirl

        If you are truly friendly with a former coworker (saw them outside of work), it’s a great idea to send that person a gift or card. But the whole workplace? The consensus is right:)

      2. Not So NewReader

        I have to grin. I have a former workplace that was miserable. As you are saying there are moments that I can look back on that were happy/funny/warm moments.

        But, they were just moments. The day-to-day stuff was awful.

        Like you, I was there for a looong time. That represents a big part of your life- you watched coworkers marry/have kids/bury their parents and so on. It feels like we shared life with them and now they are gone because we have moved on.
        I think it’s really healthy to reflect on good moments in fondness. And I think it says something about your character. But never lose sight of the fact that you left there for a reason. A big reason. Very few things in life are totally and completely bad- unlike the bullies, you can find good even in bad spots. Keep that part of you that looks for good things, but disconnect from people who pull you down.

      3. a.n.o.n.

        I totally understand why you would want to send fudge to the former workplace. I was at my last place for almost 20 years. I enjoyed being there and it was very hard to let go when the business failed. That was over a year ago and I still find myself wanting to keep in contact with certain people, even though I really have no reason to. We worked well together, but we weren’t friendly outside of work. So I’ve repressed the urge to email those people (although I do keep in contact with a few I became friendly with outside of work). Just close the book on that chapter of your work life and move forward, not only because there were people who bullied you, but also because you just need to let it go and immerse yourself in your new job.

    14. Mister Pickle

      Call me an untrusting fellow, but if I was a worker at your previous job, I wouldn’t be eating any home-made food items from a former employee. Especially fudge. It is arguably more of a reflection on me than you. Sorry.

      Also: The Help

  11. JMegan

    Today is the end of Month 1 at Awesome New Job! It’s still pretty awesome – I like the work and my colleagues, and am starting to get to the point that I can do “real” work instead of just reading policies and things on the intranet.

    One thing I’m struggling with, though, is finding the balance between being proactive in making work for myself, and asking my manager and my colleague for more things to do. I don’t want to keep saying “What can I do? What else? I’m ready for something else!” because I feel like I’m bugging them; but on the other hand I really don’t have enough to do yet and I’m still too new to know how to make my own work.

    Any tips on striking that balance, and finding an appropriate amount of work for myself without sounding like I need my hand held all the time? TIA!

    1. Colette

      I’d sit down with your manager and ask whether she has longer-term projects you can start digging in to. It sounds like you’re finding short-term things to do, but they aren’t enough – so it’s time to ask for something bigger.

    2. Perpetua

      One possibility is that you need to give it a bit more time. At the end of my first month at current Awesome job I felt similarly, like I didn’t have quite enough to do at every moment of every day, but things picked up during months 2 and 3, so it might just be the nature of getting into the groove and learning the ropes.

    3. Not So NewReader

      Write a daily to do list. Look for patterns. Do some tasks come up repeatedly? Can you just go ahead and do them?

      When you do ask for work, tell the person you are asking that you would like several things so that you are not back in an hour asking for more work.

      Ask the boss for a short meeting. Let him know that you want to take on more than what you are doing now. See what he says. Depending on the boss, I have outright said, “I don’t think I am doing enough to help out here and I want to do more.”

      Start looking around, is there something that is consistently never finished? Ask the boss if you can just take that under your wing and make sure it gets finished. This could be a routine task that no one wants to do, so it does not get done.

      And quietly, to yourself, try to watch work flows. Sally does A, passes it to Jane who does B and if you happen to ask for work then it comes to you and you do C. Once you see how things flow you can begin to get an idea of what needs to be done and how to make your own work.

  12. Malissa

    How do you go about combating the stink of desperation in interviews?
    I try to just focus on the future possible job, but I’m afraid that my current dissatisfaction might be coming through unintentionally.

    1. Colette

      I think it helps to remember that you need a job, not necessarily the job you’re interviewing for – for all you know, that job could be every bit as bad as the one you want to leave. That might help you remember that you need to find a good fit every bit as much as they do.

    2. Not So NewReader

      My husband could run a little cynical from time to time and he used to say “I came here looking for a job and I leave here looking for a job, nothing has changed. Nothing is going on here that I did not know already.”

      It’s true though. You know that you go into an interview looking for a job and chances are you will come out still looking for a job. No surprises. But if you do nothing, then nothing will ever happen. That is actually worse.

      Each job you interview for, make sure you crunch through the particulars of the job and the specifics of the company. You know, like you would shop for a new car. You go over a lot of different points to make sure the car was right for you. Immerse yourself in the specifics of each interview by promising yourself you will not allow you to fall into another black hole of a job. Desperate people don’t bother doing this and sometimes set themselves up for repeated problems. Don’t get caught in that vicious circle.

      Side bonus: If you know about the company and the position offered you can talk at length about that and you are not mentioning Current Bad Job. Fill your brain with new information that you can talk about.

  13. anon for once

    Surprise interview invite for next week!

    I’m currently in my second job post graduation. I worked a little bit during school, but those who supervised me then have all left (grad students), not to mention that was like seven years ago. I have three people from my previous job willing to vouch for me as a reference (manager, team lead, senior coworker), but I worry it’ll look bad to have all three references from the same place. Though my current bosses like me, obviously I won’t ask them.

    Nothing I can do about it, but I’m worrying.

    1. Persephone Mulberry

      Don’t sweat it. They’ve seen your work history and know you haven’t got a lot of breadth to work with. Don’t be surprised if they want a reference from your current manager (which you will be glad to provide once you have an offer in hand and not before, of course). Best of luck!

    2. soitgoes

      Depending on your field, your next employer might not even call your references. Obviously it’s good to have good references (in general it’s good to be the sort of employee and general human being that others will say nice things about, of course) but I wouldn’t sweat it. If you wrote a thesis in college or did any kind of capstone project, the professor who supervised that project would be someone to list as a reference.

      1. anon for once

        I did do some research work, but none of the professors were very involved, it was the grad students that oversaw my work, gave me directions/advice, etc. I stopped by a few times to say hi to the grad students after I graduated but we never had a personal relationship and they only gave me the lab phone for reference calls, which obviously no longer works now that they’ve left. (I’m much better about keeping in contact with my references now!) I’ve never spoken to my profs after graduation, they intimidated me at the time.

        I think I’ll just use my current three and explain I can contact profs if they would like.

        Thanks for advice everyone, I feel better.

  14. Christy

    I’m currently on a temporary assignment to another office. It is an office that works with my existing office (within my government agency) but it’s definitely with a new group. How do I communicate to the office I’m working with now that I would like to continue working with them after my temporary assignment? Because I don’t want to seem like I’m abandoning my old office, but I definitely be interested in joining the new office. How do I expressed interest without seeming desperate? Thanks for any advice!

    1. fposte

      I don’t think it would sound desperate; it seems like pretty standard networking to me. Chat with whoever’s managing you there–“I’m really enjoying the work in this unit, and I feel like I have a lot to contribute here. Is there any possibility that a permanent position might open up here in future, and would you be willing to give me some feedback on how I might make myself a strong candidate for it?”

      Obviously, it depends on if they are hiring for permanent positions; could be anything from a plan to do temps forever to a plan to use temps as tryouts for permanent. But it’s absolutely okay to ask–people are generally pleased to hear that they’ve got a good work group that somebody’d like to be a part of.

  15. Kali

    Anyone have tips on how to get people to load their dishes into the dishwasher in a shared kitchen? I can’t catch the people who keep leaving them in the sink and I’ve already sent an email pleading for people to just put the dishes in the dishwasher and I’ll run and empty it. There’s a scrubby brush for getting off stuck-on food, so there’s no reason to “let them soak.” I’m at my wit’s end and suspect it’s a certain group of people who perceive having to clean up after themselves as below them or “it’s not [their] job” (news flash, it’s not mine either!). Help!

      1. Kay

        Definitely this! One last notice that any dishes left in the sink will be disposed of, then follow through. People will keep track of their own mugs and whatnot and wash them or they won’t have dishes to use anymore.

    1. OhNo

      I’m with Malissa. If you do are letting them get away with it by putting their dishes in the dishwasher anyway, they’re never going to learn. If the dishes aren’t where they are supposed to be, leave them. Let them get moldy and smelly, and people will start to notice. If you are ever pressed on the subject, you can just say, “Oh, well since they weren’t in the washer, I assumed they didn’t want them to be washed. I only ever run the dishes that are currently in the washer.”

    2. Perpetua

      Oh, I empathize. We have a cleaning lady whose job does include loading the dishes and cleaning up, but we also agreed that everybody should just put their dishes into the dishwasher so that we could avoid having a huge pile of dirty dishes in the sink until the cleaning lady comes in the afternoon. Some people do it, some people find the most elaborate ways to balance an additional dish on top of everything already there. :D

      But yes, I’d say that there’s not much you can do apart from what the others have already suggested.

  16. A Cita

    Hey there: I have a questions: What can you do, if anything, about someone you know who has completely lied on their LinkedIn and are actually claiming your work experience as their own? This person is claiming they worked for the UNDP on a heritage project, which they absolutely did not. I worked with them through a local NGO in India. And although I worked closely with the UNDP. I don’t even put UNDP on my resume because I never worked directly for them. This was a friend of mine who happened to be in India at the same time and would come to visit me at my research site. The NGO I worked with asked if he would video tape something for them one day. This has turned into him putting he worked for the UNDP on his resume. My colleagues at the UNDP have never even met him. Also, this work was a part of my dissertation research on a specific topic, research which he has now listed on his LinkedIn as his own. He’s also claiming he knows beginner-level Hindi. He does not. As someone who has spent years studying Hindi formally and within India, I barely feel comfortable claiming Intermediate. He can’t read Devanagari script. It’s frustrating and offensive to see his blatant lies and claims of my own work on his LinkedIn. He has also connected with my friends there whom he has never even met. There’s no way future employees can reference check this stuff because we’re talking villages in India and 8 yrs ago. There’s probably nothing I can do about it, but just throwing this out there to see if someone knows of something.

      1. Snow Queen

        Just trust your ex-friend will be found out – eventually. It’s VERY annoying that he’s blatantly lying, but there’s nothing you can do. I’m a believer in what goes around, comes around.

      1. nep

        (Would be your responsibility to let known what you know if you were part of a team considering hiring this person — Aside from that, no.)

      2. MH

        But this person sounds like he is literally taking this OP’s work identity. For you, if there is any recommendations you can get from former co-workers about your work with UNDP as well as having examples of your work that you can bring up.

        1. A Cita

          Yes, that’s exactly it. They are taking on my work identity and claiming my *years* of research. It’s disheartening, to say the least.

          1. fposte

            Is it obviously exclusive research? My first thought wouldn’t usually be “But that’s what Jerkface said he did, so one of them is wrong,” it would be “Oh, that’s the same kind of stuff as Jerkface.” Which is still annoying but less likely to frame you as a poseur.

        2. A Cita

          I can bring up examples of my work. Recommendations are more difficult, just because:
          1. These are tiny villages in remote areas of the Himalayas. They aren’t on LinkedIn. I couldn’t in good faith ask the members of the UNDP for a recommendation because I didn’t work for them, only with them a little bit.
          2. Perhaps my dissertation professors, but this is really outside of their wheelhouse (LinkedIn recommendations).

    1. ProductiveDyslexic

      Re Hindi: he will get found out. Let him get on with it.

      Concerning appropriating your research though: I would consider writing to him and asking him to take it down.

      As for your own profile, if the research generated reports or articles then you could list those under publications. It will be clear for the author list that he was not involved. Or you could list it as a project and include team members.

      1. Lizzie

        Seriously. I don’t understand why anyone would risk a job by falsifying work history, but I really, REALLY do not understand why anyone would think they could get away with claiming to speak another language when they don’t. If the employer is asking for someone who speaks Hindi, I think it’s a safe bet that they are prepared to assess someone’s language skills pretty early in the process. The ruse won’t last long.

    2. littlemoose

      Search the archives of AAM here; I think there was a similar question posed to Alison in the past (somebody on LinkedIn listing the OP’s job/duties as their own).

    3. nep

      I misread the original note — Indeed important to set the record straight if the person is claiming some of your work as his own. I missed that. Above I was referring more to a question of what if anything one should do if one knows a person’s LinkedIn information is false or embellished in any way.

    4. A Cita

      These are all good suggestions, thank you. It’s hard because my work sphere is academia and his is not. So folks he interviews with won’t necessarily perform an publication search that would reveal he had nothing to do with this work. Unfortunately though, it’s paying off very well for him as he is parlaying this fake experience into jobs with non-profits and social justice causes where this kind of experience holds a lot of cache but is almost impossible to verify. So he’s not only getting away with it, he’s profiting from it, and quite well too. He’s networking well in those circles and building a reputation there.

      Besides being disheartening, this is worrisome for me because I have been seriously considering shifting out of academia and into that world, in his area, where he’s already connected. But will anyone believe that my resume is accurate if his reputation is already established?

      1. fposte

        Do you have any networking contacts in that sector? Can you do a little grapevining about your concerns?

        And the claims you suggest he’s making don’t automatically read exclusive to me–my first thought wouldn’t be “Oh, Cita’s making it up,” it would be “Oh, I wonder if she worked with Jerkface, because he did that too.”

        1. A Cita

          Yeah, the way he is framing it isn’t exclusive (although it is exclusive research). But my concern is that they will think: “Oh, I wonder if she worked with Jerkface, because he did that too.” And then they will check with Jerkface. And Jerkface will lie like a lying liar that lies and will throw me under the bus because he knows that I know he’s a lying Jerkface. And he would do that. *sigh*

          I don’t have any contacts in that sector, unfortunately. Otherwise I’d follow up. I think I’m just screwed. Alas.

        1. A Cita

          Much obliged if you’d ask the universal grievance-arbitrating committee to make a visit upon his intentions. :)

          1. Elizabeth West

            That is apparently my superpower; when I ask for other people, it usually works out. When I ask for myself, I get NOTHING. Or the Universe kicks me in the ass and then laughs maniacally, flipping me a double bird with indescribable glee.

            It just did that to me again recently. :'(

            1. A Cita

              That is like the anthem of my life. I seem to be a wonderful good luck charm for everyone except myself. If you ask me to look over your resume and cover letters and grad school/med school essays and Rhodes scholar applications and etc etc, I guarantee you will at least get interviews in those situations. As for myself? No interviews, no Rhodes, and not even a measly nod from the Nobel committee. I don’t understand. :)

      2. Ask a Manager Post author

        Any reason not to contact him and ask him what the hell is up? Doesn’t seem like anything bad could come of it, and it might shame him into taking it down.

        1. A Cita

          I have tried, believe me. He has ignored me. I don’t think he feels shame since he knows that I know and clearly doesn’t care.

  17. Perpetua

    I’ve read the stories about horrible workplace holiday practices and ideas, but do you have any good ideas for bringing some feelgood holiday spirit into the office?

    The usual recommendation is food, money, time off, I know. :D We’re having a Christmas party at a nice venue, there will be a holiday bonus (there’s always one) and everybody gets 24 vacation days a year (we’re not in the US), with very little restrictions on when to use it, and almost everyone is taking time off between Christmas and New Year. We might also do an opt-in Secret Santa with a low limit (or the instruction to buy a fun mug, for example, something like that).

    What have been your favorite holiday practices, the ones that don’t make you cringe?

    1. aebhel

      We always have donation boxes for a couple of local charities out–one of the secretaries wraps up large tissue boxes in festive paper and leaves them out in the staff room. There’s no pressure, but usually everyone kicks in a few dollars at least and we’ll have a nice-sized donation by the time Christmas rolls around. I like it better than the Secret-Santa thing because there’s no pressure, and it feels like contributing to something worthwhile instead of adding another tchotchke to my already enormous collection. :)

    2. Colette

      One I did years ago was a gift exchange. It worked like this.

      Everyone who wanted to participate signed up and hung a stocking outside their cubicle/office. The organizer took the spending limit ($15) and divided it by the number of participants (20). The result was the limit for how much you could spend per gift ($0.75). Each participant went and bought 20 gifts for no more than $0.75 each, wrapped them, and deposited one in each stocking. We then had a potluck lunch and opened the gifts. People who didn’t participate in the gift exchange were welcome to join the potluck, if they wanted.

      1. snapple

        What can you buy for 75 cents? The idea sounds good but I wouldn’t want to be stuck with junk. I’d rather just buy one gift for $15.

    3. Elizabeth West

      Last year was my first Christmas here. We had a decorating contest and my area won, thanks to some really creative people (I wasn’t one of them LOL). We also had a HUGE potluck. I love that. Looking forward to it again this year.

    4. MJ

      We do stockings where I work. We hang a stocking for every employee. Anyone wishing to participate is asked to put a similar item in each stocking (though everyone gets a stocking whether they participate or not – there is no way to know who participated). The item should be small and doesn’t have to cost anything at all. Last year the stocking included sweets (some homemade, others bought), a Christmas cracker, a handmade book mark, the legend of the candy cane, a funky pen, a couple of toys… We are just about to hang stockings again, and one of our staff members has taken up calligraphy this year, so she is making the tags for the stockings as her gift. The organization gives a small bonus which is also tucked inside the stocking. We open them at a staff meeting which includes breakfast.

    5. HR Manager

      One of my friend’s offices did a Secret Santa calendar-swap one year. They had loads of fun (from guys ending up with One Direction calendars, etc.). Goes well if you have a folks in the office with a sense of humor.

      For some feel good fun, our departments used to do a charity shopping drive. Basically we take a day off with a budget to spend, and we take a few hours to spend that money on items that will go to a local charity. We come back, share and ooh/aaah over our donated purchases, and have a casual lunch. Someone then hauls all the goods off to the charity or arrange for a pick up.

      We did something similar another year for Toys for Tots, where we all had to buy a toy from our childhood and ‘guess’ who bought what. Was a lot of fun. I of course bought all the geeky, nerdy toys that everyone guessed right.

  18. Trixie

    Cover letter question. Anyone remember the links to posts re: including a personal reference? So and so recommended or mentioned this position etc? I’m also checking through archives.

    1. fposte

      It’s been mentioned, but I also think it’s pretty straightforward. “I’ve always been very impressed with the way Wakeen T. Pot speaks of your company, and when he encouraged me to apply for the Obfuscation position I was excited at the possibility of joining your team.”

  19. Box Ticking

    Tell me about a time you applied for a graduate job and went to an assessment day…

    I attended an assessment day yesterday, from 10:00 till 16:30 (6.5 hours). There were 16 candidates. We spent all day together.

    Of these 6.5 hours I was interviewed for 45 minutes. The interviewers did not deviate from their script or ask follow up questions and it was not a conversation. I was bitterly disappointed at the length and style having followed Alison’s interview prep advice :(

    For the last 1.5 hours I did a handwritten test — for an entirely computer based job — including handwriting some emails.

      1. Box Ticking

        Thank you! I thought this was nuts on so many levels. I semi-pity the hiring manager marking 16 handwritten scripts…

    1. Observer

      Handwriting emails?! This sounds like April Fools.

      Yes, I pity whoever has to go through that stuff.

  20. MH

    Hi all. I once sent in about a Q on including your Social Security number on job applications, particularly with placement agencies and the like. I’ve been on a now four-year job search (I am freelancing in the meantime) where I’ve registered with at least 7 agencies over the course this time. Some I have never heard from and recently I filled out a job application from an outside link (I was connected through a Careerbuilder site) that required my SS#. When I check back to the original site, nothing could be found. Of course, I panicked and went through the process of reaching out to the company to make sure this was actually them. It turned out to be.

    So I was wondering if it’s best to just leave off my SS# when I register with agencies in the future.

        1. MH

          Unfortunately, that is what I’m going to have to do I guess. Some applications have it as must fill out though. Allison, what do you think?

          1. Ask a Manager Post author

            All zeros or all ones. It’ll be clear that it’s not your real number so it won’t appear fraudulent, and if questioned about it, you can explain.

    1. DBAGirl

      Leave it off. The only reason any organization REALLY need your SSN is that they are going to pay you money, or lend you money. They will want it if they are “extending” you credit (utilities, Internet/cable).

      The SSN is NOT a national identity number. It’s used by the IRS, the SSA and the credit bureaus.

      You will be asked for it by every Tom, Dick and Harry. You do not have to provide it. Be smart about it!

  21. T

    Does anybody have any advice about phone interviews for someone who’s NEVER had one before? I have an interview for a position in a different city (which I’d more than willingly move to), but I’m afraid that I’ll say or do something stupid that I wouldn’t have done otherwise in a face to face interview. I’m starting to get really nervous about it!

    1. Blue_eyes

      Be especially careful about your tone, since the interviewer can’t see your facial expressions and body language. The good side of that is that you can make whatever faces you want, like fake screaming if you feel like you blew an answer. Another good thing about phone interviews is that you can have all your notes right in front of you and reference them.

      1. catsAreCool

        But don’t make the faces while you’re talking – sometimes that kind of thing can affect the way your voice sounds.

    2. Not So NewReader

      I have only done a couple, so no big experience here. I used my cordless phone for comfort – but I would not have done that if the battery was weak. I went into a room that did not have a dog or cat in it and closed the door (shut out background sounds). I used pen and paper- so I could write down points to go back to when the interviewer stopped talking.
      And I wrote down the answers to my questions- all this writing helped me to focus. (Actually, I had my questions on paper with a blank space to write the answer in as we spoke.)

      If you stutter or miss a word or have some other flub-up, just say “please excuse me what I meant was _____.” If you make a mistake, just own in the moment it happens by apologizing in some manner and correcting the statement. Sane interviewers will not flinch at that.

      I got the jobs that I did phone interviews for.

    3. Nobody

      By no means do I consider myself an expert on phone interviews, but I did get my current job through a phone interview, so I must have done ok! I recommend that you sit at your computer while doing the interview. Make sure you turn off the speakers and close any unnecessary windows and browser tabs.

      Before the call, pull up your resume and the job posting on the computer. Also, since I’m sure you’ve done your research on the company, open a couple of browser tabs with some interesting news or information you found on the company. Finally, prepare some notes for talking points that you want to work into the interview. Note some highlights about yourself in case they ask something like, “Tell me about yourself,” or, “Why do you think you’re the best candidate for the job?” Also note some projects you’ve worked on and some stories about successes you’ve had (make sure to think about some times when you’ve overcome adversity or recovered from mistakes). It’s best to have these notes in bullet point form rather than trying to make a script. Write some questions you want to ask them at the end.

      I think a phone interview is a breeze compared to an in-person interview because you can have all your notes right in front of you. The one thing to watch out for is awkward silences. If the interviewers are silent after you answer a question, don’t worry or think that you need to keep talking — they’re probably just taking notes on your answers. If you need a moment to think before you answer a question, you can say something like, “Hmm, that’s a good question,” instead of being silent or saying, “Ummmmmm…”

      Good luck!

  22. FridayAnon

    I had a long post prepared, but other questions already touch on some of my concerns — being bullied, starting to hate work, etc., so I’ll keep this short: I have a boss who likes my work but doesn’t particularly like me. There’s no support from our dept. head, who knows there’s tension. Because of high turnover, I don’t have allies in the dept. yet and didn’t really build those relationships with the people who recently quit or were fired.

    I’m not rushing to find another job and will make the most of whatever opportunities I can pursue there. So far, too, I have positive relationships in other departments and with clients. I could use advice about how else to best situate myself for leaving on a positive note, with a decent reference, and for a better position:
    (1) Aside from a**kissing, what can I do to repair this relationship? Literally – like specific tactics regarding what to do or say when your boss insults you to your face and/or in front of coworkers? I usually laugh it off, but it’s getting harder to hide my resentment.
    (2) I was promoted and thought I would have more responsibility, but that hasn’t happened in any significant way. I’m qualified for the additional work, so that isn’t the problem. I’m afraid that addressing the issue directly, even in a tactful way, could lead to being pushed out, which I saw happen to someone else. What do other readers think?
    (3) To move forward in my career, I need additional education/training – maybe a certification or just some courses. My supervisor is not warm to the idea. I don’t mind spending my own money and time outside work, but I don’t know how much I should reveal about possible independent training?

    Any advice is appreciated!

    1. fposte

      1) is tough, because somebody who does that is not likely to be a reasonable professional. Has she talked to you about concerns she has about your work outside of these little dropped bombs? If not, one thing you could do is talk to her privately afterward to say “Your comment to Bob makes me think that you have concerns about my work that we need to discuss. Could we talk about them, and could we talk about what I could do to make it easier for you to give me feedback during the process itself?”

      For 2), the question is what’s worth what to you. If this is the same manager, it doesn’t sound like she’s that invested in your growth, so you probably wouldn’t be able to wring much out of her; on the other hand, if you think you’re going to leave anyway (which you currently don’t, but I think you may be getting close) it might be worth trying a conversation about taking on a particular project or task.

      3) The fact that you’re in a workplace where you have to wonder about “revealing” your professional education s really depressing. I certainly don’t think you’re obliged to mention additional certifications, but in a sane workplace they’d be delighted to hear you have them.

      1. FridayAnon

        Thanks.

        for (1) There have been no concerns about my work, or none that I am aware of. The insults come in the form of “teasing” me about things like my hobbies or appearance. I should have added that she used to be very friendly with me, and that is why I wanted to try to repair the relationship for the sake of a decent reference. It’s also why I was hit so hard by her change in tune.

        1. fposte

          Oh, for those I’d go with an absent, possibly slightly indulgent smile. That’s a conquering by yielding situation. Alternatively, “Yup, I’m a geek/redhead/short person. The reports are on your desk–did you want me to email the partner to expect them Monday?” I agree with Graciosa that there’s no point in using energy to try to make her like you; your goal is to conserve your energy in the face of her weirdness.

    2. Graciosa

      You’re asking how to win at work with a boss who doesn’t like you. I hate to be quite this blunt, but you can’t.

      There’s a lot of commentary about how you don’t need to like people you work with or for, but all of it assumes that everyone focuses on getting the work done and behaving professionally. A boss who is insulting you directly and in front of co-workers does not meet that standard.

      Your boss has demonstrated the willingness to behave unprofessionally for the sheer pleasure of being cruel to you. This relationship is not salvageable. Your department head knows this and provides no support.

      Find another job. Devote all your energy to this and start now. It will be easier to continue to behave professionally for your remaining time in this position when you know you will be leaving at the first reasonable opportunity.

      Good luck – you need it.

      1. Elizabeth West

        I have to agree with this assessment. The boss sounds horrid, and she’s unlikely to change. If you have no idea why she’s treating you the way she is, she may be one of those elementary school-minded people who just decides for no reason to arbitrarily make you her victim. It would be better to find something else before it gets worse, because it no doubt will.

        1. Not So NewReader

          Sometimes bosses and employees do not click but they can still respect the other’s work. It sounds like OP’s boss likes OP’s work. This is huge, OP. Hang on to that. A lot of toxic bosses will take good work and toss it in the waste can.

          OP, if she is teasing about your appearance or hobbies, of course, quit talking about hobbies and as far as appearance, not all of us can be one of the “beautiful people”. I am not, for sure. Try to come off as “eh, I am who I am”. That quiet confidence will carry you farther than thousands of words. It takes time for this technique to work- be consistent and wait.

          The other thing is for you to take a serious, objective look at who SHE is. Does she tease others, the same way she teases you? Is it possible that you thought she was one type of person initially and now, as time has move on, you’re finding out that she is actually very different from that?

          I had a boss that nagged me about my appearance. At first I was upset, but then I realized she does this to everyone. She was way too involved with us. I never commented on her appearance. Oddly, the one time I did, she almost melted-down. See, she was all about her appearance and she decided that everyone else should do the same for themselves.

          I think that you can focus on the work itself and be okay. Think of it as what the two of you do have in common- you do good work and she likes your work. I don’t recommend a-kissing. If you genuinely like something she did/said/wore then say so IF you want to. Otherwise, say nothing. Just because she is mouthy, don’t lower yourself to being “kissy”. Be you, be real.

          As far as the extra credentials- if you can do it on your own then go get them. Yeah, it is sad you have to hide it from the company, but it is worse to let that company prevent you from being the best you can be. Go get the credentials. You will meet new people along the way and you will find opportunities as you go along. I think you will also find that your boss’ words sting a lot LESS as you go along.

          You got promoted and the new responsibilities have not followed the promotion? What a dense company. It could be that you do not need to worry about that for the short run- say nothing and see how it plays out. Work on the other two things that you mentioned here.

  23. Meghan

    Any suggestions for surviving the last month at a really toxic job? I was job searching already, but my partner recently learned that he is being transferred to another state at work, so we will be moving across the country January and I’ve decided that December 31st will be my last day at my current position. I’ve told some of my coworkers, but don’t want to give my boss much more than 2 weeks’ notice – not because I’m afraid of being pushed out, but because he takes it very personally when people leave and I don’t think I can deal with hearing how I’m screwing him over for the next month. I’m looking forward to leaving this job because the stress and lack of appreciation (monetary and otherwise) is making me feel sick and dread going to work every day… But I’m also feeling a lot of guilt because it’s a tiny business and any one person leaving can make a big impact. I want to make sure that I leave things in as much order as possible, but tying up my loose ends is proving challenging because I’ve already got more work to do than I can reasonably accomplish in the hours I’m paid for, and I don’t want to clue my boss in. Any suggestions for how to make a smooth exit transition and stop feeling awful about a change that I know will be good for me are appreciated!

    1. HeyNonnyNonny

      I had a similar situation, and I found that framing it as ‘unavoidable move across the country’ made the managers less likely to take it personally. Sounds like it was great timing for you!

      1. Meghan

        Definitely good timing! We had some flexibility with the move date and decided to go earlier so that I wouldn’t have to stick my job out any longer than necessary, and I’m lucky in that my partner will be earning enough that it won’t be a huge problem if I’m unemployed briefly when we move (don’t want to spend too long unemployed, though, or I would just quit now!).

        Unfortunately, the fact that I’m moving won’t make my boss take it any better. One of my coworkers told him that she’s moving to Texas, and he asked if she wanted to open a location there – and was miffed when she said no.

        1. Not So NewReader

          If he asks you if you want a job near your new place, tell him that you will think about it or that you think you already have something in the pipeline. Stay away from the no word!

          I think you can try with all your might to keep this guy from getting ticked and he will still find something that irritates him anyway.

          Do the best you can each day. Put little notes on everything you can. Maybe start a note book of things that are the basic need-to-know stuff. Make sure your contact list is organized and up to date. One place I worked I was able to put notes inside the folders called “next steps”, which laid out what needed to be done next.
          I did everything on the computer in MS Word so I could quickly add/modify as I went through my day. When I got close to my last day, I started printing out everything I had. This meant that my replacement had two copies, one hard copy and one digital copy. But I just built it all, as I went about my ordinary work and ideas occurred to me or I remembered something that needed to be added some where.

  24. JAL

    I just need to vent right now and hope someone will understand my frustrations:

    These guys loudly blast the Star Wars soundtrack in the break room EVERY FREAKING DAY and I can hear it from my desk. I usually put my headphones in, but today I forgot them of course. Ugh!

    1. Persephone Mulberry

      Walk over to one of them and say, “can you turn that down a bit? I can hear it at my desk and it’s extra distracting today.”

      1. JAL

        Eh I can tolerate it for the half hour they’re on break. It’s just annoying. It’s not making me suffer.

    2. Anoners

      Someone I work with blares the most RANDOM selection of music (from classical to EDM). Even with the door close it sounds like a rave is happening at the office. They’re a VP though so, not much to do about it but laugh.

    3. HeyNonnyNonny

      Walk in, throw up the Vulcan salute, and say “Oh man, I am such a Star Wars fan! Live long and prosper, amirite?”

      Continue to confuse the two until they find somewhere else to play their music.

  25. JAL

    And now a legitimate question:

    Is it appropriate to buy your boss a small gift (i.e. a gift card to a coffee shop or a candle) for the holidays to show you appreciate them? My boss has made my transition from college to the workforce extremely easy and I want to thank her for that.

    1. fposte

      Speaking not for your boss, whose tastes I don’t know, but as a boss–I would rather get a note. It’s more meaningful, and I won’t feel like we’ve started some gift-giving loop that we’ll end up regretting.

    2. Katie the Fed

      Card, definitely. Gift giving in the workplace is very…fraught. And tastes are so different. Candles – meh.

      But if you bake you could always bring her some cookies or something.

        1. Graciosa

          I vote for bringing the cookies for the team rather than the boss. Cookies are much better than other types of gifts, but I really don’t want people who report to me giving me anything. There have been lots of posts and discussion on the fact that gifts at work should flow down and not up – please take those seriously.

          A note, however, would be fantastic. And if you bring cookies for the team to snack on at work, the boss can enjoy them as well without feeling the discomfort of receiving a gift from an employee.

          1. JAL

            The thing is, we are very independent in our work. Our team doesn’t talk to each other at all and they don’t do anything for me. But whatever. I won’t make my boss feel appreciated. I guess I can’t be me at work anymore. Maybe I should just quit and not work.

            1. fposte

              Where on earth did that come from? That’s the weirdest turnaround in a single paragraph I’ve ever seen. Nobody said anything about not being you, what the heck does that have to do with buying somebody a candle, and why would you quit over that?

            2. Graciosa

              I think there may be a little more adjustment needed for you to fully adapt from the college environment to a professional one. It may help to think about this as needing to understand and adjust to a new culture, where the same behavior now sends a different (and unintended) message.

              If you want your boss to feel appreciated, the way to send that message is with a card or a note.

              If you want your boss to feel uncomfortable, the way to send that message is with an inappropriate gift upwards. Yes, even cookies can be awkward.

              If you feel you can’t be yourself at work because I advised against a gift to your boss – well, you might be right. You can’t be your college self at work because you’re now in a different environment, and you need to learn to communicate in a way that is consistent with your intentions.

              I happen to believe that my fundamental nature remains intact even when I have to adapt my communication to make sure my message is understood – but you are free to believe as you wish.

              1. saro

                Completely agree with Graciosa. Also, I truly hope this attitude flounce is not something you display at work.

            3. Katie the Fed

              Wow. That’s really all-or-nothing thinking, ya know? You asked for advice, people gave it. People are giving it from the benefit of their experience so you don’t make a mis-step or embarrass yourself. A candle would be a weird gift in most places – it’s the kind of thing you give a teacher or someone you don’t know very well.

              If other people’s advice doesn’t fit your situation, there’s really no need to take it personally. They don’t know your work situation – they’re just offering advice. Take it or leave it. But inferring that it means you can’t be yourself isn’t the answer. None of us can be completely ourselves at work – I’d rather wear yoga pants and flip flops, but we all have to conform to some extent.

  26. Ambitious Young Millennial

    I’m more ambitious than my coworkers… I’m also the youngest and the new hire. This is my first real, professional job and I really want to make progress and move somewhere. I really want to learn, expand my skills, grow, and either move up in a few years in this company or move elsewhere. I’m actively seeking more work and taking on new tasks in my downtime. (I also concede that I’m one of those millennials who want everything fast and don’t want to spend 5 years in the same job before getting promoted.)

    The issue is that my coworkers aren’t ambitious at all. We’re a very stable, established non-profit company that actually generates revenue, so there are no serious financial pressures or pressures to work more efficiently to maximize profit. As a result, coworkers slack off and aren’t motivated to be diligent. One coworker (the oldest out of us and the one who’s been in this role the longest) has openly told me that the managers wanted her to take over a retiring supervisor, but she really doesn’t want to take over. I really want to gain more responsibilities and move up, but will my managers train and invest in me if there are more experienced employees (who aren’t interested in being promoted) and it might cause resentment if the youngest and newest person gets ahead? Am I confined to this role because there are others who are older and more experienced and, because of my age and lack of experience, I should be “under” them?

    1. Colette

      I don’t think your coworkers lack of ambition is a problem at all. They’re absolutely allowed to prioritize things other than career growth, and it’s less competition for you.

      It’s also possible to continue to learn and grow without moving up the org chart, so it’s important to remember that when you’re dealing with people who have chosen a different path.

    2. JAL

      I’m not sure how it works at your company, but we are given promotions here based on productivity and how well we do our job, and not by seniority. I am also in my first professional job but I’ve been promoted twice, and I can feel the resentment of some of the older workers. I’ve been undermined a few times and it’s frustrating, but I’m on the track to be a manager and know it’ll all be worth it.

    3. JMW

      While you are not likely to be promoted to a supervisory role before you have established yourself a bit, it has been my experience that a lot of people in the nonprofit where I work have no interest in supervisory or management positions. They sometimes want to try new things, and may shift from department to department, but they don’t actually want to manage and they don’t want a position where they might need to work more than 40 hours in a week as someone in a position of higher responsibility might. So, no, you are not confined to your role, and it is possible you could see promotion before others do.

      Some suggestions:
      – Make it known to your direct manager that you wish to grow professionally. Ask for suggestions for the best way to do this.
      – Volunteer for opportunities that require some leadership to both develop your leadership skills and to demonstrate your capabilities. Maybe you take charge of organizing an event or a project of some sort.
      – Develop yourself in addition to whatever professional development your workplace offers. Read. Especially read about leadership and management – it’s harder than it looks, and it is especially hard for someone who is younger than everyone else on the team. Also read biographies of others who have blazed the trail you wish to take.

  27. Lunaire

    Hey all! It’s me again.

    I forgot if I have asked about this before, but I now have pretty solid proof that my gross coworker is not as skilled or fluent as he portrays himself to be. I want to warn my manager because I fear greatly for our our new teapots being launched into a new market, but I don’t want to annoy him with that knowledge either and the proof requires explaining the teapots jargon of another language. Thoughts? Tips? Don’t do it Lunaire?

    1. fposte

      Need more info. Odds are that it’s “Don’t do it,” but it would depend. If you do do it, it’s not about your co-worker, it’s about the output being below standard.

      1. Elizabeth West

        This. I would say, “I’m concerned about the spout attachment; it doesn’t seem quite up to snuff and I wanted to bring it up before the teapots hit the market. Could we look into the procedures?” Or something.

    2. Chriama

      How much trouble will you get in if the neww teapots tank and your manager finds out (or suspects) you knew about the possibility? Is your relationship with your manager otherwise good? Are you and the coworker jointly responsible for this product? I’m of the opinion of MYOB if it won’t directly affect you if your relationship with your boss isn’t rock-solid, just because it might be seen as “tattling” (and I know there’s no tattling in the workplace, but an impatient boss who doesn’t understand the technical jargon might be annoyed if you bring up something that isn’t directly related to your own work).

  28. Helen

    Does anyone have any experience not giving notice when quitting? Did it actually affect your career down the line? My boss and the owners of my company are terrible and disrespectful towards me. I REALLY don’t want to give them notice when I leave (and I definitely don’t owe them anything). I’ve been desperate to leave for over a year so once I get an offer I don’t think I’ll have it in me to stay any longer. I also know that my company has a policy of not giving references (afraid of lawsuits)–they will just confirm employment. Does this mean they also won’t comment on if I gave notice?

    (Two other managers have already agreed to be references for me. I wouldn’t offer my boss as a reference anyway since we can’t stand each other.)

    1. Colette

      You really do owe them the standard notice. If you don’t give notice, it will affect the opinions of everyone there, including the managers who have agreed to be a reference.

      1. some1

        Agreed. You have a beef with the owners, but it will be your coworkers who will get stuck with the extra work.

      2. Ask a Manager Post author

        Yep — those managers are highly likely to change their minds about vouching for you if you leave without notice. That’s such a dramatic way to exit, and usually people hear about it.

    2. Graciosa

      You owe it to yourself to behave like a professional, regardless of whether or not the owners of your employer do.

      No matter how terrible they are, I assure you that hearing that you walked out without notice – which is really minimal as professional courtesies go – will tarnish your reputation in spite of the source.

      They will get the reputation they deserve – and so will you. Think about what you want that to be.

    3. Diet Coke Addict

      It’s not about being courteous to your employers, it’s about being professional yourself. You may not owe them anything, but you owe it to yourself. Be professional, and don’t try to “stick it” to anybody.

      1. Sunflower

        This so much. Sticking it to your employers comes back to bite you in the butt way more than it does the company.

    4. Artemesia

      I would give appropriate two week notice but be prepared to walk out the door if that has consequences. But you know your situation and how aversive it might be.

    5. Not So NewReader

      A friend walked out of a job he had for years, he just left one day. He had a new job to go to so he was fine. Or so it seemed.

      What blindsided him was that he felt like crap about himself, leaving people in a lurch like that.
      He vowed never to do it again. The next job was worse then the job he walked out of and he worked his notice. It was bad-bad, but it was not worth feeling crappy about his own actions.

      When other people have bad behavior that is one thing. But when we feel we have made poor choices ourselves that is a whole different game.

      Unless your life/health/well-being is in immediate danger, try to work through your notice.

    6. Observer

      It doesn’t make a difference what the official policy is. If you walk without any notice, that’s the kind of thing that does get mentioned and it’s the kind of thing that really makes you look bad.

      It’s only two weeks. Stick it out.

  29. Daddy-O

    Anybody here ever get terminated while actively searching for a new position? Not necessarily FOR searching…but let go without cause. How does one explain that while interviewing, in cover letters and when reaching out to former business contacts?

    1. NJ Anon

      Were you given a reason for being let go? How about just saying you are looking for a new job opportunity? Do you have to tell them you were let go? Be vague.

    2. fposte

      I don’t think it belongs in cover letters at all; applications and interviews, it depends on the question. Basically, you’re searching while unemployed, which is pretty common, and in most networking situations you don’t need to go beyond that.

    3. Artemesia

      I would be inclined to say, ‘I was let go when I let them know I was searching for a new position.’

    4. some1

      Yes. I was laid off in between a phone interview and the in-person interview. They did ask why I was leaving and I explained that I had just been laid off.

      1. Daddy-O

        I was with the company for just under 3 years, but in a new role/promotion into management for 9 months. I wasn’t laid off, flat out termination, with no cause, the reason being “change in management personnel.”

        No problems as far as I know but I have ideas why (most likely saving money before years end). Unfortunately I wasn’t able to collect any metrics, and I never had a performance review…it was so sudden.

        I’m in a very tight knit industry, and every single time I speak with someone about it they don’t understand it and I get the impression they don’t believe me. I probably wouldn’t either.

    5. FallingLeaves

      I ended up not having to address it at all because I had already applied for and scheduled an interview for my current job. I think they did ask why I was leaving during my interview, but I just went with the reason I had already been looking. I wasn’t using the job I was let go from as a reference anyway, so it never came up.

      Is it a lay off situation? If so, I think saying something along the lines of “I was laid off, but was already looking for a new position because of x, y, and z.” I’d probably save that for being directly asked about why you left the job, though. I don’t see a need to volunteer that you were let go in your cover letters.

  30. Relosa

    Hey AAM – I think the one subject that we haven’t really crossed much (and maybe I’m missing it?!) is how to write/post a successful job advertisement.

    Just something I thought of today as I’m about to write one. First thing I thought was “Hmm, wonder what AAM has to say about this!”

    I know there’s a ton of stuff in the hiring tag, but I’m thinking something more along the lines of the practical advice you have for application materials. Of course some of these postings would vary wildly by job, but something that doesn’t reveal too much, or too little, best format (That you’ve seen) that draws in candidates, etc.

    1. soitgoes

      From an applicant standpoint, I think it would be helpful if you state the name of the company and list a specific salary.

      1. Relosa

        I definitely intend on posting the compensation. One of my personal biggest pet peeves. Sadly it’s not salary (and will likely never be) ughhhh I hate that.

    2. Colette

      There was one I saw somewhere (here, maybe, but I can’t find it) that basically talked about a week in the position and gave specifics.

      1. Relosa

        Oooo I like that, thank you! When I was thinking about it this week I kept imagining listing the general daily/weekly/monthly tasks.

        1. Colette

          This wasn’t so much tasks as what actually happened – so, for example, instead of “answer the phones”, it was “connect three irate customers with support, transfer 15 calls to the correct person, deal with 23 unsolicited sales calls”.

          (I’m not sure it had numbers, but it was that kind of detail.)

    3. Graciosa

      Think a lot about how the level of the position will appear to an applicant and make sure it accurately reflects the actual level of the position. It can be tempting to overstate the impact of a role or skills required when the focus is too much on marketing the position (overstating impact) or ensuring that applicants are actually qualified (overstating skills required).

      Start the way good management should – be direct, honest, and very straightforward.

      Finally, don’t get so focused on the ad that you forget about the full hiring process. Make sure you have a good one in place designed to properly evaluate the candidates and determine if they truly have the rights skills and qualifications for the position. Then you can focus on culture fit among the top candidates without worrying that someone who just interviews well may turn out to lack essential skills that you didn’t actually test for.

    4. Sandy

      I’ve found it helpful to list the essential and asset qualifications (ugh-bureaucratese) with a more candid explanation of WHY attached.

      For example:

      Ability and willingness to work independently: two of our staff, including the designated supervisor for this position, are currently teleworking from abroad. Our ideal candidate would be comfortable working independently in this unusual work environment.

      Attention to detail: our office handles X number of legal cases per year, with the successful candidate for this position being responsible for approximately Y number. Attention to detail is crucial since these cases will be reviewed by the state judiciary and the general public.

      Those are on the fly, but you get the idea. I’ve found that by incorporating that level of detail and information about fit/”what it takes to succeed in this office”, a lot of people who would otherwise throw their names in the ring screen themselves out (saving me the effort of doing it) and some people who might otherwise not jump at the position because of the drier description get a better idea of what we’re like.

      1. voluptuousfire

        ^ This is a FANTASTIC idea. So many job ads post generic attributes like that but never qualify what it means. The above really helps paint a more accurate picture of the general scope of the job and what’s needed from a candidate. Yeah, I may be detail oriented, but does what I think “detail oriented” means links up with what you think “detail oriented” means? Not always.

    5. Sunflower

      Something small but important- list the address of where the position is located. Especially if there are multiple branches/buildings of the company. I am job searching but am only interested in jobs walking distance from my apartment and job searching can be a wild goose hunt trying to figure out where exactly the job is at. My city is 142 square miles so an exact location tells me right away whether applying is a waste of both of our time

    6. Blue_eyes

      Make the title of the post as clear as possible, especially if there’s an unusual or very specific requirement. As an applicant, it’s annoying to open a posting titled “Teapot Designer” and read the entire post, only to discover at the very bottom it says “must speak Russian.” In that case, the posting title could have been “Teapot Designer (Russian-speaking)” to better target the desired candidates.

  31. OwlStory

    I accepted a new position on Tuesday that is outside my chosen field but in a similar field. It’s doing something I love at one of my very favorite places and almost double the salary of what I’m making now (yeah).

    I have to resign on Monday. I’ve never resigned before, so I’m reading up on the resigning posts on AAM. I love where I work now, but it’s time to go. I also have to resign to my non-existent boss. I mean, she exists, but we work two buildings apart and I see her once a month at meetings/one-on-ones/in passing. I like her, but she’s a complete stranger that I’ve worked with for over two years. So that part will be weird. Also, in reading AAM, I work in customer service, where I have no projects, and replacements mean a three-month fight over whether they can actually pay for one or not, so I’m not sure about how to handle things. This new job wants me in this month, on a specific date (Dec 15) because it’s a government position with set training dates, etc. I guess I feel weird about giving just two weeks’ notice, but everyone who is not in my position has been out on vacation since the day I accepted this new job, including the invisible boss, and I only got the offer on Tuesday after most people were home for the day.

    So any additional advice would be splendid.

    1. JMW

      Just call or write a nice note (preferably both) telling them that you have accepted a job at another organization for “generic reason” (ex: a chance to use your skills in another field of interest), that your last day will be December 12, and that you have really enjoyed your time working with them. Two weeks notice is standard. They will figure things out when you go; this is not for you to worry about.

      1. Artemesia

        This. Short and sweet. No explanation beyond the vague one noted here. A resignation letter is properly two lines. Certainly not more than 3.

      2. OwlStory

        So… I don’t have access to a phone (regular or smart) or a computer during the day (this is basically a retail job masquerading as customer service in a public institution). Do I e-mail my boss Monday morning before I’m not allowed to touch a phone/computer asking if I can come in and talk with her and hope that I get access to a computer during lunch to see if she replies? I’d prefer to talk with her in person if I can, but will definitely write a note if she’s not in on Monday.

        1. Observer

          Email her ASAP (before start of work on Monday) saying that you need to talk to her and you will be coming into her office at x o’clock. (shortly after lunch.) Check during lunch. If she says no, call her and either speak to her and leave her a message that you have an urgent need to talk to her TODAY. If that doesn’t work, then email her your resignation (bcc yourself, and cc’ all of the relevant people) as soon as you get home. Keep it short and simple.

          Something like

          The reason I needed to talk to you so urgently today is that I wanted to provide my resignation in person. I have accepted another job and my last day will be 12/12/2014.

          Thank you for the opportunity to enhance my skills

          Owl Story

  32. Pregnant job applicant

    I’m starting a new job on Monday at company A, but just received an email for a phone interview for a job I applied for 3.5 months ago with company B. Quite frankly, though I was thrilled to get the offer from company A, company B would be better for me in the long run (greater opportunities for advancement, bigger company, more flexibility in work schedule, more family friendly, etc.). I’ve already responded to confirm that I’m available for the phone interview with company B, but what happens if they want to interview me in person? Do I tell them that I just started a job? Or do I keep it under wraps and proceed as though I would have if they had called me a week ago (when I had no offer on the table)? OR, since I’ve accepted at company A, do I suck it up and work there for at least 2+ years and see if I can apply to company B after that? Another consideration: I’m pregnant, due in July, and will get no maternity leave at company A, while company B has a generous maternity leave policy for all employees. When I accepted at company A, I truly had assumed that company B was no longer an option.

    1. Helka

      It won’t look enormously graceful if you immediately ditch A in favor of B, but given the maternity leave thing, it’s pretty understandable. What I would say is that if you do make the jump, you should probably be prepared to spend a long time at company B to establish yourself, since the immediate ditch of A is going to have at the very least short-term reputational consequences for you.

      Also, keep in mind that a phone interview and a job offer are a long ways apart. This may not end up being an issue after all.

    2. fposte

      Oy. This is tough. It doesn’t help that it looks like B moves at the speed of molasses, so you probably can’t even do A the courtesy of getting out fast if you’re getting out. At the moment I would lean toward just sticking with A, since it sounds like it was a perfectly viable job in a relevant field, which means you really don’t want to screw them over.

      But I might not make the decision completely until I started at A–if it turns out they’re all loons or homicidal maniacs, then leaving them in the lurch is less of a problem. I’m torn on whether or not you can bring up the paid maternity leave as a reason for departure; on the one hand, I hate to make it pregnancy-centric when there’s enough discrimination in that area already, but on the other, it’s a factual report about a benefit that made their company non-competitive.

      I’ll be interested to hear what other people think on this.

    3. Blue_eyes

      I think you should continue with the interview process at B. It’s very possible that they won’t even end up making you an offer, but at least you won’t wonder about what could have been. Then if they do make you an offer, you’ll have to decide if you want to jump ship. I think if you see yourself being at B for at least a few years, it would be alright. Everyone is allowed one mistake of this type, but if you leave your next job quickly it will start to look like a pattern. Obviously A won’t be happy if you leave so soon, but if you’re only there for a few months or less you wouldn’t even need to list A on future resumes.

  33. Schmitt

    I am a team lead / manager of a programming department in a web agency. There are fifteen of us in an open plan office that spans two floors.

    It can get pretty loud between the noise bouncing up from the ground floor and conversations held on our floor especially if two small groups are meeting at the same time. Since we are a web agency such small meetings make the most sense to hold directly at the computer although there is a conference room available.

    Our CEO believes that listening to music thru headphones has a negative impact on work. He says he’s read studies. Furthermore he finds that people wearing headphones don’t give off the friendly, accessible vibe he wants. He also believes anyone can learn to concentrate even if it doesn’t come naturally.

    For about a year one of my programmers has been wearing headphones and I have been pretending not to notice. He always takes them off if you approach him. Nevertheless, the big boss has now noticed and wants it stopped (sigh). He promised to look into ways to damp the noise in general but absolutely would not budge on the headphones thing. He says if we absolutely need quiet we should go program in the conference room. We do have laptops but the conference room is not very comfortable, there are no proper desk chairs so we have to drag our chairs in too, etc.

    Any help? It doesn’t help my case that this programmer has not been performing quite up to speed this year so I can’t point to a positive improvement.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale

        Me too. I believe that certain quirky preferences should be respected, but in an environment like that, you need to give some leeway so your people don’t go insane. I wish your programmer was your #1 performer, though– it would make your case so much easier! Good luck.

      2. Schmitt

        It is just really a pain – it’s down three steps so blargh chair dragging; the walls are glass so you’re in a little fishbowl; and the air circulation in there sucks. I don’t know if I can do anything about the air, but maybe I can argue for setting it up a bit more like a work area.

        1. Bea W

          I think the point is to have so many people crowding into the conference room so that the guy reconsideration his position or does something about the noise. If everyone went to the conference room. How long do you think that would last?

    1. JMW

      You might combat your boss’s study with studies of your own. Here are a couple of paragraphs from a paper by Susan Hallam, Institute of Education, University of London (The effects of background music on health and well-being) which cites a number of other studies that may have information which could be useful. You should be able to get copies of most of these studies through your local library:

      Surveys have shown that many people enjoy work more when music is played (e.g. Music Works 2009). The introduction of personalised systems of listening to music has facilitated the individualised selection of preferred music. A survey of employees’ use of music on personal players in the office (Haake 2006) established that 80% listened to music at work, on average for 36% of the time. Music most often accompanied routine tasks working alone, word processing, web-surfing and emailing and was reported to improve concentration and block out unwanted noise. It also reduced stress, enhanced feelings of well-being and enhanced the ambience of the work place, providing a topic of conversation with work colleagues. For those doing low-demand tasks music relieved boredom. Disadvantages included music being played too loudly and interfering with the work of others and communication when people were wearing headphones. There may be a role for the use of personal players in open plan offices where the presence of general background noise is a particular problem, reducing performance and job satisfaction, and leading to increased stress and health problems (e.g. Knez and Hygge 2002; Evans and Johnson 2000).

      Where personalised listening is allowed there have been significant improvements in performance, enhanced morale, and greater commitment to remain in post and, overall, a reduction in stress (Lesuik 2005; Oldham et al. 1995) although there are differences between those working on simple or complex tasks (Oldham et al. 1995). Where work is simple and repetitive music reduces boredom but where tasks are complex it can interfere with performance as might be expected on the basis of the Yerkes Dodson law which suggests that internal arousal levels optimal for particular tasks vary according to task difficulty, the more complex the task the lower the optimal arousal level (Yerkes and Dodson 1908).

    2. Katie the Fed

      “Our CEO believes that listening to music thru headphones has a negative impact on work. He says he’s read studies. Furthermore he finds that people wearing headphones don’t give off the friendly, accessible vibe he wants. He also believes anyone can learn to concentrate even if it doesn’t come naturally.”

      Your CEO sounds like a bit of a butthead.

      Just because it works for him doesn’t work for everyone. People work differently. The goal should be allowing people to work in a way that maximizes their productivity and comfort.

    3. Not So NewReader

      If you have noise bouncing around between floors maybe they can investigate rugs and drapes- this can tend to help with controlling how some sound travels. Sound deadening materials can be put into the ceiling, this would cut down on the noise between floors.

  34. CinC

    I hope all the Americans here had a lovely Thanksgiving!

    So I survived the dreaded romantic relationship-themed team retreat this week (https://www.askamanager.org/2014/11/open-thread-november-21-2014.html#comment-603352). It was actually mostly fine, after Sensible Colleague and I managed to get the public sharing of insincere compliments item taken off the agenda (it was replaced with a meeting facilitation role playing exercise, which was pretty useful). There were some awkward moments, e.g. starting the “two truths and one lie” icebreaker by spinning a bottle in the centre of the circle to decide who was going to go first; learning which managers have tried actual speed dating during the speed dating themed session; one manager showing a photo of spouse and kids during the same session and saying “don’t get your hopes up, I’m taken!”. Apart from that though the actual activities were appropriately professional.

    So, no highly entertaining tales for you all – but I’m quite happy about that, personally ;)

  35. Christian Troy

    I need some advice about being forced to interview jobs you’re overqualified for.

    My job search has become incredibly desperate over the last few months and I’ve tried expanding my search to roles I’m overqualified for. But my attitude stinks, big time. I feel like I can’t pump myself up for the interviews because I’m resentful of the fact I’m interviewing for jobs meant for someone with less experience and I’m anxious about having to relocate a few hours away for these type of roles. A lot of people tell me to stop interviewing for these positions, but I can’t because I don’t have a job. Any thoughts or advice is appreciated.

    1. fposte

      But you’re knowingly interviewing badly–why is that better than skipping the interview? It takes a lot more time and energy to tank an interview than to pass it up. What about at least taking a break from applying to certain positions? You may find that helps some with the burnout.

      1. Christian Troy

        I know you’re right, and I’ve definitely tried to focus more on positions that were a good fit than just applying to anything in the last month. But last week I was contacted about interviewing for a job and agreed because it seemed like there was some potential there. Then I did some digging a few days ago and discovered the current person has significantly less education and experience, which shouldn’t have surprised me but soured my attitude considerably. I’m too much of a chicken to cancel the interview now and just trying to hype myself to at least fake it for Monday. I just feel so much desperation and pressure it makes me so frustrated that if I don’t apply for these jobs, then it looks like I’m not trying hard enough.

        1. V. Meadowsweet

          Remember that you’re interviewing for the job, not interviewing to become the person who’s currently doing it.
          Maybe there’s lots of room for growth. Maybe there are functions the current person couldn’t do that will come back to the job when someone else takes it over. Maybe the current person is a savant and thus the job contains everything you’re hoping for.
          You can’t know unless you interview, and interview as well as you possibly can.

    2. Graciosa

      Your interviewers are going to sense your attitude, and attribute it to you. Not you in this interview, but you as a person generally all the time. No one wants to work with this person.

      The result is that these interviews may disqualify you from higher level positions in the same organizations (or even elsewhere – it’s amazing how often this kind of thing gets around within an industry).

      The people who tell you to stop interviewing for those positions are right. You really don’t need to damage your reputation while you’re trying to find a job.

  36. Masters Degree Searcher

    My current govt contract role’s expiring soon. Luckily, a headhunter just e-mailed me with an informal govt 3-year contract offer at a different govt org. I’m excited but I really want and need a permanent role; also, around the same time—I had a 4-person panel phone interview for an analyst govt job I really want—full-time, GS-11, and I’m just out of masters studies. However, there’s no guarantees.

    The panel said they’d get back to me next week (around Dec 1st) whether they want to do an in-person interview but the contract company needs an answer soon too. What do I do? Accept the contract role (which pays much better than what I’m making), and hold out for the govt job? Thoughts/advice? I thought I aced the phone interview but there are 3-4 others getting phone interviewed and govt jobs take forever to hire; the ad said it’d take 45 days from job app closing date, but it seems they’re going even farther than that…

    1. Schmitt

      Assuming you don’t want to stay in one job for the rest of your life, 3 years isn’t that far off permanent!

      Presumably you’d have to interview for the contract offer. No harm juggling both balls at least through that stage.

      1. Masters Degree Searcher

        Actually, I already interviewed for the contract job, and they likely need to know next week. The other job requires an in-person interview then they decide, and they’re taking their sweet time about it. **sigh**

  37. perebe

    I asked the Magic Question in an interview a few weeks ago and it… fell flat. Maybe I had too high of expectations for it. My interviewer said that the answer was “passion,” but having a friend who works in the industry, passion will certainly take you a distance, but someone can be passionate and bad at delivery. Or passionate, yet still disgruntled with long hours and not a high enough salary to compensate. I think I was looking more for answer that would be like, in situation X, a good person will do A but a great person will do B. Or something more concrete. Is passion really the key?

    1. Persephone Mulberry

      Agree with Schmitt! You might try reframing it a little next time to get the answer that you want – asking “What actions or results blah blah blah” (because I can’t remember the exact wording at the moment – Friday Brain) instead of making it more open ended?

  38. Francesca

    Next week our ten person team are moving to a new office where we’ll be hot desking and everyone will be required to follow a clear desk policy. Anyone else made this transition? Tips on how to optimise not having your own space/computer?

    1. vitor

      From my co-working days: a laptop bag big enough for some office supplies (keyboard cleaner, mini-stapler, USB keys) and headphones for when you get stuck in a high-traffic/noisy spot. Consider a bag that you can padlock if you need to and a lock to lash your device to the desk so you don’t have to carry it everywhere with you (i.e. lunch, errands). Hate to say this but consider wearing clothes with pockets – take your cell phone, wallet with you to the loo & break room. My experience was that the desks where people left devices around were the ones that had stuff nicked.

      1. Francesca

        Thank you! We get assigned a personal locker so there’s a safe space for valuables at least but it’ll be weird to remember to pick up my phone/purse when I’m just going to get a drink or nip to the loo.

        1. vitor

          Yeah, it is weird to remember to do that and it can be a pain to wear enough pockets for your stuff. (One guy had a one of those cotton fishing-type vests he wore exclusively in the co-working space to keep whatever he might need that was also valuable on him — and that’s never a good look.) But every time an iPod or phone went missing, it was from being left out on the desktop. Too tempting/easy, I’d guess.

    2. EvilQueenRegina

      Ugh, I had that earlier this year (clear desk policy, but I do have my own desk). Fred and Ginger the stuffed cats are now consigned to a drawer and my Damon Salvatore picture had to go home. Seriously, what does clear desk policy really achieve?

  39. Sunflower

    I’d appreciate some advice about this interesting work PTO situation. I am going across country for work in a couple weeks. I’ll be leaving mid week and staying with friends over the weekend. I really hate taking red eyes and I asked my boss if I could take PTO the Monday after the weekend to fly home. We are in our really busy time at work so I wasn’t sure how it would go over but figured it was worth a shot. He was pretty hesitant but said i can take the day as long as I tie up any lose ends by the Friday before(obviously was planning to do that), I’m available by phone(I’ll be on the ground most of the day) and have my email open on the plane. Now I’m feeling a bit up in the air. My company doesn’t give a lot of PTO and the pay is terrible so I try to take full advantage of whatever benefits I have. I don’t mind answering the phone for something truly urgent or answering a quick email but it’s kind of unclear what he’s expecting me to do this day. He’s a big worry wart and in the past, he has called me to ask extremely simple questions and a minor issue is huge for him so I worry I’m going to spend the whole day actually doing work. I’m nervous because I do feel like he’s doing me a favor by giving me the day off so I don’t want to push my luck but at the same, it’s my earned PTO and I’m not sure how to handle using with having strings attached. Any advice?

    1. Schmitt

      Earn those brownie points. Being available like this makes you look really good. If it turns out your boss calls you every half an hour, then you’ll know for next time and can plan accordingly.

      For truly minor things, practice deflecting: assuage worry and then say, “I’ll put that on my list to look at first thing tomorrow.”

    2. AvonLady Barksdale

      It’s not “time off” if you have to be available. I’m trying to think of specific advice, but in your position I would have asked for the day off, and when he said he wanted me available, I would say, “I’d really prefer to have the day off.” So this is a tough one since you’ve already accepted his parameters.

      When your flight was booked and you arranged to come back on Monday, did anyone say anything to you? Was that when the PTO was brought up? Or did they assume you’d be working on the plane on Monday and you later asked for a day off?

      1. Sunflower

        You’re so right- I probably should have thought through it more before agreeing but I was so focused on not having to be in the office on Monday, I don’t know what else I would have agreed to in that moment. I’m staying with my best friend who I haven’t seen in a year and I obviously want to spend as much time with her as possible. We are also going to a concert Sunday night to see one of my favorite performers. I had originally planned to see him at home but I had to be in another city for work so that was another big factor. I hadn’t booked the flight yet when I asked- I wanted to make sure it was okay to be out of the office before booking anything nonrefundable.

        At the end of the day, I’d rather have the time with my friend and be available than not have the time with her at all. I’d be okay with answering phone calls and working on the plane and maybe agreeing to only using a half day of PTO but that feels kind of greedy to me. I feel like my boss is doing me a favor and he told me he’s probably going to get some push back from the higher ups abut me being out that day so, like I said, I don’t want to push my luck. Thinking I might have to see how the day goes. Is it possible I can see how the day goes and if I find I’m working a lot I could say ‘Between phone calls and emails, I ended up working X hours so can we count Y hours of my PTO as being used today?’

        1. AvonLady Barksdale

          You feel greedy for taking a day of PTO, or you think your boss is greedy for asking you to work on your day off? Because it’s the latter– PTO is PTO. If your boss has a real problem with it, he shouldn’t have granted it. Go back to him and ask for half a day, that you’ll start work once you get to the airport but you would prefer to have the morning free (for reasons that are None of His Business). That way you’re scheduled to be “in” (or “on”) and there’s no question. But don’t feel greedy for wanting a day off (ONE DAY) if it’s part of your compensation. I get that it’s the busy season, but that means, presumably, that you’ll be working a whole hell of a lot more than normal, so taking one planned-for day is much better than, say, calling in sick on a whim.

          Also, you’re not doing anything wrong– or even out of the ordinary, in my experience– by making plans with friends after your work stuff is over. Unless there’s a major difference in airfare, staying a few extra days to hang with friends is fine and, in my circles, totally normal.

          I’ve felt the way (it sounds like) you do– that taking a day off leaves everyone in a lurch, I should check in constantly, etc. I stopped that. I can’t tell you how or why, but I just came to the realization that a day off is precious, rare, and part of my salary, so I’m going to take it. It was probably when my boss asked me how many times a day I was going to check in while I was visiting my mom in Florida, and I said, “I’m leaving my Blackberry at home, so… never.” Or maybe it was when I went on a two-week trip to Mexico, didn’t check in at all (because I couldn’t), and discovered when I got back that interpersonal relations in the office had all gone to crap without me to be a buffer and I simply did not care because the work got done, and whatever didn’t get done was just waiting for me to handle it.

  40. Jackie

    Any ideas on what kind of gift to offer for a secret santa exchange at work (budget between 5-10 euros)? At this point the only idea I’ve had is to buy some nice chocolates . . .

    1. Diet Coke Addict

      A gift that would work for anyone? Chocolates are a good idea–maybe a nice or funny mug, or a travel mug, with a packet of hot chocolate, or some coffee beans, or tea bags? An inoffensive desk calendar? A tin of cookies?

    2. HeyNonnyNonny

      Food is usually good, like small jars or packs of jams/honeys/condiments/gourmet nuts/etc? Or possibly desk items– a fun toy like a Magic 8 ball/Rubric’s cube or a hardy plant?

    3. super anon

      is it the type of secret santa exchange that you know who you will be giving the gift to? or the type where you all buy something and everyone takes a random present?

    4. Graciosa

      Food can be challenging at work for diabetics, people who are dieting, people who are gluten free, etc. I think the mug or desk calendar alternative might be safer. Other ideas include things to keep drinks hot or cold (warming plates, insulated specialty mugs, etc.), nice small tools (small flashlight, emergency seat-belt cutter, bottle opener, etc.), or company-branded or personalized items (mouse pad, key chain, mug) if the company is large enough or if there is a way to personalize something with a team photo.

      1. Blue_eyes

        Food is nice because it’s consumable. Even if you get gifted something you can’t eat (or don’t like) you can give it someone else you know who will enjoy it. Personally I hate tchotchkes and don’t have extra space in my apartment so getting given small inexpensive items that have nothing to do with my personal taste is annoying. I end up donating most of that stuff to thrift stores.

    5. Colette

      Something generic and, ideally, consumable – mug and hot chocolate/cider/tea, gift card (Starbucks, iTunes), chocolates, fancier pens/post-its/magnets than the office buys.

    6. Lore

      My most successful gift in one of those settings was a single-serving French press coffeepot and an insulated mug–our limit was $20, though, which is a little more than 10 euros. I think the best one I ever received was travel games–Scrabble and Yahtzee. Also some really pretty notecards one year.

  41. super anon

    Going to throw this one out to the AAM readership. I was searching for jobs and came across this on a job posting:

    “This position can be funded under an access and diversity grant program. The ideal candidate will also meet the following criteria:
    1) a significant disability
    2) not collected UI in the last three years”

    I don’t want to ask “is this illegal”, but isn’t putting that in your job add a bit on the murky side? Wouldn’t that be seen as discriminating in some way (especially with the second stipulation regarding Unemployment Insurance)? I’m Canadian, if that makes any difference. I tried looking through the labour standards act for my province to see if there was anything regarding job postings, but I came up empty on this front.

    1. Elizabeth West

      I don’t know…..if it’s a grant, they might be able to set criteria that aren’t typical. I’m not familiar with Canadian law. Are there any other organizations you could ask, like disability advocates or a career center or anything like that?

    2. Persephone Mulberry

      I don’t know…preference FOR a protected or underrepresented class is generally not considered discriminatory.

      1. Persephone Mulberry

        I’m not sure how the UI thing factors in at all, actually. Update if you learn anything!

    3. Tara

      Government grants usually have the second stipulation, and affirmative action is 100% legal here. (Also Canadian).

      1. super anon

        Interesting, I didn’t know that! I wasn’t as concerned about the affirmative action aspect, as I was about the second stipulation regarding EI. I find it even more interesting as I was under the impression that disability payments from the government fell under the umbrella of EI. I’ll have to do some more investigating!

  42. Variation

    What’s the worst question you’ve been asked in an interview? I’ve been doing lots of job interviews lately, and some of the questions have been great at identifying how some managers prioritize the tasks of their employees.

    I think the most frustrating question I’ve received so far was, “Besides to-do lists, calendars, and post-it notes, how do you stay organized and on top of your duties?” I spoke about email filters and automating lower-priority tasks, as well as frequent check-ins with my supervisor, but I left feeling as though I didn’t answer the question to their liking.

    1. Jen RO

      A hiring manager wanted to know what my non-work plans for the future were. “Well, I want to travel”. With my husband? “No, my boyfriend actually.” Oh, and did I have any *other* plans? “No, not really, I like my life just like it is now.” Was I suuure I didn’t have any other plans? “Um, I want learn more foreign languages?”

      It took days for me to realize that she was asking if I’m planning to have kids. I don’t want children, so it didn’t even occur to me that’s what she was talking about!

      1. Masters Degree Searcher

        I was asked “Do you live alone” because they were trying to see if I would leave them soon after for reasons like maternity leave, etc. I gave him a puzzled look and said “I live in an apartment, with neighbors(?)” And yes, this was in the U.S.

    2. Elizabeth West

      “Are you married?”
      “Do you have kids?” These were both from the same interviewer. I wouldn’t have taken the job anyway; it involved accounting, was six days a week, and only paid $7.00 an hour. :P

      “What religion are you? We believe our work comes from God and we have prayer meetings in the office every Wednesday.” I answered just to see what would happen. “Oh, you’re Catholic? Well, that’s fine; we have a Catholic lady in the office and that’s fine.” Didn’t say whether she participated in the prayer meetings or not.

      By the way, this was a title company. >_<

      1. EvilQueenRegina

        I was asked those once and the guy made a big point of writing “single” on my CV. The recruitment consultant who put me forward said that both these questions were a legal requirement and this guy had to ask, and the next question would have been what were my childcare arrangements. Funnily enough, no one else has ever asked me that – I’ve been given so many different answers to the legality of that question that I’m still none the wiser (I’m in England) but I do know it’s not a legal requirement to ask that.

        Probably a good thing I didn’t come out and tell her I had doubts about her knowledge of employment law, since in a weird twist of fate, that consultant ended up taking the job I’d been temping in, and I ended up getting a different job in that same team, so we worked together for 4 years.

        1. Elizabeth West

          I don’t know about the UK, but in the US it’s not technically illegal to ASK the questions; it’s just that you can’t base hiring decisions on marital status, etc.

      1. Persephone Mulberry

        Sounds like they’d gotten burned (in their eyes) in the past by hiring military spouses who got moved unexpectedly.

        1. So Very Anonymous

          And now I’m imagining a candidate shuddering with horror: how did the interviewer know about their DENIM PHOBIA????

        1. manager anonymous

          no kidding. Fortunately it was the last interview of two days and I was too tired to laugh hysterically.

    3. HR Manager

      Can I cheat and write one that a hiring manager asked (and I was flabbergasted this was on her list of interview questions). From the colors, choose your favorite and tell me why (paraphrased a bit):

      White, yellow, red, brown, blue, orange, black

      The manager was livid that a candidate answered green, because it was a mixture of yellow and blue.

  43. OwlStory

    Asking this in a seperate thread, because it’s more relevant to my current job.

    I’m supposed to have a performance review this week (but got a new job, so maybe not?). For this review, I’m supposed to fill out an evaluation form. I’m supposed to lump all four of my managers (one full manager, three who are in more of a shift leader capacity) together in this form, as I am evaluating the “team” not them individually. Here’s where it gets complicated: Original Boss, who is in charge of my three other managers plus my twelve-person team, is never around, so any evaluation of her is going to be very vague. OldNewManager has been in charge of me for a year. I do not like her as a manager. She’ll be “nice” for months and then will say something mean (and racist (and was called out and didn’t stop)). NewManagers 1 and 2 are mostly wonderful. All three managers openly tease one particular coworker and allow my coworkers to do so. It makes it an uncomfortable environment. There are certain questions on the form where NewManagers 1 and 2 are at the top, but OldNewManager is not (see, “do you trust this person?”). Original Boss wants us to write notes in the margins/elsewhere for places where there are differences, but ugh, it’ll be awkward and weird and oh, yeah, all my managers will be there when I give them this form! I’m also supposed to write out “personal goals”, which is tough when there is no end product in what you do (customer service) other than making visitors happy and you’re already told that you’re an invaluable/perfect member of your team and never, ever get feedback otherwise.

    TL;DR: what do you do for performance evals when you want to say that your manager who has no hiring/firing control over you is being a bully? And how do you write goals when you have never been given feedback and have a job with no way to evaluate goals?

    1. Schmitt

      Don’t tell the truth, for sure. Use weasel language like ‘I feel the team is less cohesive when there’s an atmosphere of schoolyard teasing’ and don’t get manipulated into naming names. ‘Well, I try not to pay attention and stick to my own work, so I don’t know exactly, but it feels demoralizing’.

      This evaluation form is dumb.

    2. JMW

      Since they have asked you to lump everyone together, you can refer in general to the work environment:
      – “Jane seems to get teased a lot by everyone, which I imagine would be hurtful for her.”
      – “I do occasionally hear racist comments.”
      – “Feedback is very general. I would love to hear coaching that would help me grow and develop in my role here.”

      Your personal goals could include a continuing education goal (learn more about Excel or Outlook) or perhaps to focus on internal customer service as much as external customer service. It might be to read blogs or journals that are relevant to your industry.

  44. Jen RO

    Two good and two bad:
    – The new hires seem bright and eager to learn. One of them reminds me a lot of myself – she has the good kind of OCD-like attention to detail that is very useful in our field. One of the previous hires is slowly but surely becoming someone I can rely on.
    – The other two previous hires (both have less than a year with the company, both are in their first job) are… not that good. One of them keeps whining about his small salary and points out every hour he works above 40 (I am ready to start counting the many, many smoke breaks he takes); the other is very eager, but very naive and doesn’t pay enough attention. (I have asked about him in a previous open thread and he *has* improved since then, at least!)
    – Being a team lead is not as horrible as I was expecting – I still don’t like the “managing people” part, but I have learned that I can be a bit tougher if needed. Thank you AAM and commenters! Every time I wonder what I should do, my “Head Alison” tells me the correct answer. (She’s like Head Six in BSG.) I also really, really enjoy being able to improve the current situation (the previous team had been slacking for a while).
    – Being a team lead, for a new team, working on a product I barely know myself is exhausting. I feel like my brain is split in 10 different directions and I can’t manage to finish anything. I keep telling myself that in a few months all the new people will be up to speed and they will be able to take a load off me!

  45. Jen RO

    On that note – people have talked about tips & tricks for dealing with ADHD in the workplace, can anyone share their best?

    I am not diagnosed and probably never will be (ADHD is not really a “thing” here, and anyway I don’t think a diagnostic would help me), but I do fit the description at least partially. My biggest problem is that I start things but never finish them. I write two lines of email, then I remember that I had to finish a spreadsheet, but I need some info from another system first – oh wait I was going to write a procedure about how to use this system – hey I should see how to automate things on our internal wiki! …and then, 4 hours later, the email is still not finished. Is there anything I can do except yelling at myself to get more disciplined?

    1. Helka

      One thing I’ve been doing in that regard is when I have that moment of “Oh, wait, I need to do that other thing!” is I write it down on a notepad that stays right beside my hand all day — then I make myself finish the thing I was doing. Having it written down soothes that nagging itch of “gotta do the thing” and also makes sure that when I do finish the email, I won’t sit there going “wait, what was the other thing…?”

      1. Jen RO

        Forgetting “the other thing” sounds so familiar… maybe I need a different notepad, because my current one and the stack of post its aren’t helping at all.

        1. Helka

          What made a difference for me is keeping the notepad open and right beside my hand; it’s always right there in view and easy to glance at. The minute something’s out of my sight, as far as I’m concerned, it doesn’t exist. So the notebook doesn’t leave my sight anytime while I’m at my desk.

    2. Katie the Fed

      I suspect I’m a borderline case. One thing that helps me is closing down my email for a big every day while I finish up projects, so I don’t see the new messages pop up.

      I also make lists. Lots and lots of lists.

    3. BRR

      I have to stop and remind myself to focus on one thing at a time. That I can’t move on to something else until I finish the one task.

    4. Colette

      That’s how I work all the time, and I don’t see it as a problem (within reason).

      Are you really never finishing tasks, or do you just not finish them as linearly as you think you should?

      One thing I do is shut down my machine every day – which means I have to consciously close every window every day. It’s a reminder of all of the things I’ve started and never finished.

      1. Jen RO

        I don’t think it’s a huge problem, but I have a bunch of new employees and they don’t get answers as fast as I would want them to. Maybe that’s my problem right there – every new request/email/IM makes me go into “need to do this NOW!” mode – I should just schedule better…

    5. Victoria, Please

      You might try setting a timer. Ten minutes to focus on the email. If you get distracted by a thought in the middle, just write in on a post-it.

    6. OwlStory

      I don’t use to-do lists (they cause me more anxiety about the actual list than anxiety about finishing things) for the most part, but I am IN LOVE with HabitRPG, which gives you rewards for finishing “habits”, “dailies”, and “to-dos”, and you can even customize the rewards. Plus HabitRPG is based on an RPG, so that makes it entertaining (hatch ALL the pets!), and the “drop” rewards system is randomized, so I’m motivated to click off tasks, which means I’m actually focusing on the individual task vs. the list. At least, that’s what I’m doing now….

      1. Jen RO

        I had installed HabitRPG, but then uninstalled it without ever using it… maybe I should try again (I’m a WoW player so it should be ideal for me). My work usually doesn’t involve “dailies” though, so I don’t know how much this structure would apply to my usual activities, but I’ll give it a shot!

    7. voluptuousfire

      If it’s possible, try to organize your day in chunks. At one job I went from having a lot of downtime to being busy most of the day and taking on all of that additional extra work was tough. I kept missing emails and forgetting to do things. A to-do list and organizing my day into chunks in which I handled certain things helped a lot. I only kept my email open during certain chunks and turned off the Outlook notification. I limited emails to two two hour blocks in the morning and afternoon (and a quick peek before I left for the day) and that helped free up my day considerably.

    8. ProductiveDyslexic

      Kanban board plus timer.

      Kanban board has columns for to do, in progress, and done. Tasks are represented by tiles. Lots of people use whiteboards with post it notes. I usean app (KanbanFlow).

      So in your example, you have an email to write, but you are drawn to looking up how to automate on the Wiki — I know the feeling — the Kanban board helps in several ways.

      You can only work on tasks on the board. When you work on a task, it moves from the to do column to the in progress column. First, only tasks you really need to do make it into the to do column, so you are already less likely to try and address the automation. Second, you can limit how many tasks are allowed to be in progress. This also helps limit task switching, which has been shown to increase productivity. Third, upon completing the task it moves into the done column and it is satisfying to do this.

      Add in a timer for how long you spend on a given task to further keep you on the straight and narrow…

  46. Another Anonymous Person

    Anyone ever have a crush on a co-worker and manage to successfully date that co-worker? How did you do it?

      1. Elizabeth West

        That has never happened to me, to my knowledge. I’m curious, as it’s book-related. What was that like, if I may ask? (I actually just did a blog post about crushes!)

          1. Elizabeth West

            LOL if you have a good story about it, click on my name and go to my post!

            I have had crushes on coworkers, but never on a vendor. Though one super hot French guy from a printing company came in one day and met with the marketing dude. I got so flustered I spilled the coffee I brought him all over the marketing dude’s desk. You better believe I heard about that one for a while.

        1. anon in the uk

          Being the crushee? Frankly, rather embarrassing. Both guys were nice enough, just not really a spark or not enough to go through the fuss and bother of dating a co-worker. I was not flattered, but more a) mystified and b)faintly repelled by the puppy dog eyes and attempts to find out what I was doing at the weekends.
          One of the crushers discussed his feelings with ANOTHER co-worker, an older lady, who had the sense and tact to say ‘sorry, sounds like she is giving you a polite no’ rather than squeeing and trying to matchmake

    1. AnotherAlison

      I don’t think mine really counts, because it was right after I graduated high school, but we ended up getting married and having two kids. . .still married, fwiw.

      How did I manage to date him? This was a plant environment, and we were both production workers. It wasn’t uncommon for the younger coworkers to date each other. He was cute but not my type, so all I did was let him talk to me. He brought me some extra free Cokes that the machine gave him (not really!), and made some comments about my concert t-shirts, and I just tried to not be a complete bitch while also keeping my guard up (I was used to people making fun of me). When he asked me out, I said yes. We didn’t really have a visible relationship at work, other than taking one break per day together. We worked in departments next to each other that had some interaction, but it would have been weird if we literally worked side by side 8 hrs/day. I didn’t work there that long, but he worked there about 6 years total.

    2. Sheep

      I was the “crushee”. We dated for two months while working together (we were even sitting next to each other), before he left the job. Just make sure you are super professional at work. No one at work could tell that we were together (at work), even after we had told them. It was only with our very small team that we were a tiny bit more friendly and ‘jokey’.

    3. Oh anon

      So… Not exactly the same… But thought you guys would enjoy… I started at a company where ex husband and wife were coworkers… Turns out, they aren’t civil outside of work. Ex wife slept with their manager while they were still married, which caused the divorce. Manager was moved to a different office, and new manager hired. Fast forward 5+ years and rumors are running wild ex wife and manager are back at it, even though she’s remarried to someone else. Why you ask? She was promoted, went on maternity leave for 4 months, came back was promoted twice in 3 months to a supervisory position over her ex husband, right after manager was promoted to division manager. Ex wife has only some slightly related experience prior to this job, many people who asked for promotions etc were passed over even though they were more qualified, no degree, and clients complain about her work constantly. She’s not liked by her team, in fact 4 of us quit in the small office within the year i was there, she fired another after i left, another she tried to fire and Corporate moved him to a new location and wouldn’t let him go, and ex husband finally left too…. He turned in his two weeks notice and the next day ex wife sent him home refusing to let him work his two weeks notice (none of us that left had this done).

    4. anonypointless

      Nope, wouldn’t advise it unless maybe in a large organisation with the other person in a department you don’t interact much with.

      Still have a serious attraction to a married coworker who is the manager of another department and at least in the beginning there were signs it was mutual and slightly uncomfortable for both of us. Annoyingly good looking and shown lots of admiration for my work. Despite what I said above, if he was single I’d probably give it a crack.

      Not much reason for this post, mainly just refusal to acknowledge the above for a long while to anyone I know for various reasons, and just good to get it out even if it’s just anonymously on the internet.

  47. Ali

    I found out earlier this week that I won’t be moving to the interview round for the phone screen I had. The hiring manager was looking for someone with more direct experience in the field I applied in, though the recruiter said that I had a good background and good transferable skills. Too bad it wasn’t enough. :( I do understand the experience thing and that there’s plenty of qualified candidates available still, but it’s a downer to keep hearing all the time that even though I have good experience and skills, it doesn’t meet a hiring manager’s needs.

    However, at least I can take comfort in the fact that the problem likely wasn’t my resume, as I got the call to begin with.

    I also applied for a position within my company that sounds like the type of role that would keep me employed there. I would move to a smaller team with a new boss if I were to be hired, but the HM for that role isn’t going to do interviews for another couple weeks. I hope it works out, but I’m also not going to count on anything and will keep looking for external opportunities as well.

    1. Blue_eyes

      Sorry it didn’t work out, that’s a bummer. On the plus side, your application materials must have really stood out if they bothered to call you even though you have less direct experience than they were looking for.

  48. anonintheuk

    Having been understaffed since June, we managed to ‘borrow’ someone from another department to help us during our peak season, since UK tax filing deadline is 31 January. Now, apparently, two people from his department have resigned and they want him back. (Why they are haemorrhaging staff is apparently something which no-one has the intestinal fortitude to address).
    My reaction was an immediate, ‘No. Bog off’. Boss is composing an email which essentially says the same thing, just less forcefully.

  49. The Earl Marshal

    I am happy to report that after several months of unemployment after a lay-off, I received an offer of employment on Monday from a global company I did 4 interviews with! I was also very pleased and surprised with the offer itself, the job advertisement said the job will be paying around 50-60K but they made me an offer of almost 70K with a one time bonus of 7K. I feel very lucky since I am under 30 years old and am looking forward to finally getting back to work after feeling so unproductive over the past few months.

    Thank you to Alison and the AAM community the comments and advice I have read definitely helped me land this great opportunity!

  50. Blue_eyes

    I had an interview on Tuesday! I know that all the great advice from Allison and the smart commenters here helped me get it, so thanks! The director mentioned when he called to invite me to interview that he enjoyed reading my cover letter, so the time I spent personalizing it definitely paid off. I think I did pretty well in the interview and the director said he’d be finishing interviews at the end of next week and then making calls for second interviews. Overall everything in their hiring and interview process has been very professional and I’ve been really impressed.

  51. EvilQueenRegina

    Someone finally got appointed to the “Defence Against the Dark Arts” post in my team, so named for its high turnover. I’m wondering how long this guy will last.

    Other things going on with me at the moment, friends are trying to persuade me to go for a work Christmas night out I don’t think I’m really invited to. I moved jobs in January and we moved to a new building in February, and this one guy who moved somewhere else (Wakeen) sent out the email to certain people advertising it as an Old Building Reunion. Since I was only there for about 3 weeks (not counting my temp job in 2005 which was before Wakeen’s time) I didn’t really get to know Wakeen.

    He did miss a few people out accidentally and then when people started forwarding it on anyway, Wakeen sent another email to the original list saying “Okay I know I missed people, but it has come to my attention that people are forwarding this on without my knowledge.” My coworker Kathryn says he’s been kicking off about the fact that some people declined or just didn’t respond at all. (For background, it’s just drinks in a pub, not a sit down meal needing booking).

    Kathryn and Ruby, coworkers on the original list, are trying to persuade me to go, but I really don’t think Wakeen will be happy. I feel I should stay home since it’s not the office Christmas party as such, but a reunion.

      1. manager anonymous

        don’t go…nothing is more uncomfortable than old work mates going over old time that you didn’t partake in.

  52. BB

    What is the best way to list two different time periods on a resume for the same position? If it’s November 2013 – January 2014 and August 2014 – September 2014. (This is a volunteer position).

    Is it better to list them seperated by a comma on one line or list the second date underneath the first one? Or is their another better way to do it?

    Thanks.

    1. The Earl Marshal

      This could work:

      Company Name
      Volunteer
      August 2014 – September 2014
      November 2013 – January 2014
      • Duties/accomplishments
      • Duties/accomplishments
      • Duties/accomplishments

  53. Chloe

    Is anyone working in a field related to computer science? If you don’t mind, can you say what you do and how you like it? I know this question is a bit juvenile but I’m a recent grad who has been back in school. I’m pursing a computer science degree (my first degree was in anthropology) and while I’m loving this new journey that I’m on, I’m still not quite sure what I want to do career wise just yet.

    1. Colette

      I’ve done software development and technical support, although I’m not doing either right now.

      I like the “figuring out what’s wrong and fixing it” aspect. Aside from that, development is bursty (I.e. During crunch time there are a lot of hours) while technical support often involves being on call some or all of the time.

    2. Mister Pickle

      I’ve been doing computer stuff – mostly software development – for the past few decades. I’ve been working at the same company the entire time. Alas, it’s getting late – I’ll try to be quick: one nice thing about working in this field is that there’s a huge amount of variety and options, and also one’s job will tend to change over time: you’ll work on Project A, then move to Project B, then to Project C, and so on. I think of this as a good thing versus doing the same basic job again and again for years.

      As time has passed, I’ve found myself more involved with the project management side of things than the nuts-and-bolts technical details. I think this is how it works in many professions. But still: it is important to stay flexible and learn about new developments in the field. Which are sometimes exciting and interesting, but also sometimes I feel like the same old ideas are being circulated around and around, but with different jargon attached. To give you a very broad example: the WWW is in many ways not very different from how 1960s-era time-sharing systems worked – the old 3270-style “green screen” terminals used a similar “request / response” protocol.

      My thesis advisor back in college was about 6’5″ tall and was a one-time Olympic track hopeful, and he used to talk about how it was important to be “tall and thin” versus “short and fat”, ie, it was better to know something about lots of different things, versus knowing lots of stuff about one (or a few) specific things. My overall life-experience has been that he was correct about this. In some fields it is good to be an expert on Topic Z. But in the computer industry things come and go so quickly that one’s value as an expert suffers fast “depreciation”. For instance, I took a class in college on NMOS chip design – which was obsolete within a year. One nice thing about 19th century poetry is that they aren’t writing any new 19th century poetry, so if you know it, you know it, and it’s not going to change out from underneath you.

      Despite what I said about the industry and technology changing quickly, there seem to be a few things that are ‘unchanging’: this is just my opinion, but a strong knowledge of databases will probably guarantee you a job anywhere in the world for the rest of your life. Don’t focus on learning a single language – focus on how to learn languages. There’s always a “flavor of the month”, and one way I can tell if someone is a noob is if they talk too much about using their favorite language for every problem they encounter – in truth, the language(s) used will be determined by the nature of the problem or the project. Develop a good knowledge of computer graphics (the Foley and Van Dam book is somewhat dated but they do a great job of covering the basics) and try to learn something about user interface design (and design in the larger, general sense). You’d be amazed at how many people don’t have a freaking clue how to lay out a usable user interface. You should build up a discipline where you can use the ‘net to easily and quickly answer questions for yourself – but don’t be afraid to ask questions. I couldn’t tell you how many time I sat in a meeting and asked a question and people came up to me afterwards and said “I’m glad you asked that!” Oh, also: a lot of computer people have weird ego issues – if you can’t deal with that, then you might not be happy in this profession. On the other hand, if you can get along with people and communicate reasonably well, you can go far.

      I hope this helps a little bit.

      1. Mister Pickle

        Okay – this isn’t very structured, sorry – two more things that are important to know: computer architecture (not that you need to know how to microcode two’s-complement division instruction, but a surprising number of people talk s**t about cores and cache and transistors – don’t be one of them) and algorithms and data structures (get to know this stuff for real, it’s very important).

        In short, I guess I’m simply saying: learn as much as you can. How much you know will determine the opportunities that you have. I guess this is true for almost everything, but in the computer biz, even more so.

    3. Schmitt

      I’m a programmer (and head of dept managing our team) and I love what I do!

      See what strikes your interest. Computer science is much more than just programming, of course; sysadmins are the best thing since punch cards and database analysts have all my respect. Two growing areas that are very interesting to me are continuous integration / managed deployment, and software quality management.

      And what we really wish we could find is a project manager who really groks highly technical systems.

    4. catsAreCool

      Software development. I like it. I fix stuff and sometimes improve stuff. It does require spending a lot of time staring at a screen and thinking about how stuff should work.

      I like feeling like I’m making the software even better.

  54. Obviously Not This

    Coming in late today, but as I’ve spent my Black Friday doing various odds and ends around the house (cleaning out my closet, laundry, cleaning the turtle tank) and got very little done around the house or for work, a question has come to mind.

    What are your thoughts on cleaning your own house while working full-time?

    I am over 35, have two school-age kids, a professional job where I now average 50-60 hours per week, and travel 1-2 days, 2x per month. My husband averages 40 hrs/week, but we have a large property that requires a lot of work from him.

    Our household income is about $100,000/yr more than the median for our area, and I bring home over half of that, so I feel like we can afford it, but I still have a hard time feeling like I should do it without feeling guilty. My work schedule is much busier now than it has been over the past few years, and there just is not time to keep up. There’s always work or family stuff I should be doing instead.

    What do you think? Should professional women be cleaning their own homes?

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      I’m going to reword that last sentence to: Should professional people be cleaning their own homes? This one isn’t gender-specific :)

      Anyway. If you can afford to pay for someone to clean, I don’t see any reason why you shouldn’t. There’s nothing more morally virtuous about doing your own cleaning, just like there’s nothing more morally virtuous about doing your own lawn care, dry cleaning, pizza delivery, hair cutting, or any of the other services that people pay for.

      You work particularly long hours and you travel. And you have kids. And a marriage. If you can afford it and you’d like to outsource it, why not? You’ll probably find it makes you less stressed and more relaxed, which will benefit your household in totally different ways than cleaning does. (Even if you didn’t have any of those things, though, my argument wouldn’t be any different. They’re just additional impetuses in your case.)

      I have a cleaning lady who comes in once every two weeks, and it’s awesome.

      1. Obviously Not This

        Thank you! I’m honored I got a genuine AAM reply. . .and my apologies for my politically incorrect wording. The cleaning responsibilities are gender-stereotypical at my house, but I definitely don’t feel like my husband isn’t carrying his share of the load around our household. : )

        I appreciate your comments and the others who have commented here. For me, this is kind of an “a-ha” moment. I have fallen behind on keeping up the house and I’ve been living with the dirt and beating myself up about it rather than seeing other solutions.

        My house is not very big (3 bedroom ranch), so it seems ridiculous that I can’t keep up, but it seems more ridiculous that we live with a dirty floor because I can only get around to it once a month.

    2. Elizabeth West

      I would TOTALLY hire someone. I’m losing my mind right now trying to work and write this book. I wish I could get someone to come in every two weeks.

      Saved last week’s open thread advice about it; I’m going to see if I can find someone.

    3. TMegan

      I would definitely hire out some of the work if I could afford it, especially with a schedule like yours. There’s no reason anyone ‘should’ clean their own home if they don’t want to and they can afford it!

      1. Obviously Not This

        I think the “wanting” to do it was part of the problem! Cleaning is a chore I don’t mind doing, but it’s still the one at the back of the line after everything else is taken care of, and it just has not been getting done.

    4. louise

      I hate cleaning so I just wasn’t doing it, for *years* at a time and always felt like a failure. This fall I decided I’d had enough and asked around and found an amazing woman who charges more than I make an hour but does more in an hour than would accomplish in two months, thereby making this an economically sound move. :) I like my job and would rather earn money there to pay someone else who needs a job to do what I loathe…I’d like to think that’s what makes the economy go round.
      My husband, more fiscally responsible than I, doesn’t love shelling out for it, but he loves the clean result and on days she’s been here, he and I come home from work raving over how sparkling the house is. So far we’ve eaten out a little less because I’m not overwhelmed by a dirty house and because the kitchen looks so inviting when clean.
      I guess I’m trying to say: go for it. Based on my experience, I’d say you won’t regret it.

    5. Not Myself

      Think about managing your life the way you would manage your work. Delegate lower-value tasks to people who can do them to free up your time for other things. Lower value in this context just means the task has lower value to you (I happen to value the people who free me from performing those tasks quite highly). Other things can include staring out the window – we all need a little bit of free time to function properly. Even the Almighty rested.

      I have outsourced regular cleaning and landscaping, managing my mail and filing, and hanging the Christmas lights outside. I have no regrets about any of it except for not doing it sooner. If I didn’t enjoy decorating the tree with my family I would happily outsource that or skip it entirely. I keep what I like to do. I’ve toyed with the idea of outsourcing laundry, but haven’t gotten around to it yet although the possibility is there.

      If it makes you feel better, supporting local businesses is practically a public service. Focus on that to eliminate the guilt – although really, why would you feel guilty about not working yourself into the ground? Is this how you want your kids to live as adults (or what they should expect from their spouses)? You are setting an example of martyrdom rather than confident management of your life. Changing that will be healthier for you and your family.

      1. Megan

        I used to nanny and two former clients had ironing people – they came and picked up the clean laundry in a basket and dropped it back, ironed. It’s definitely possible!!

    6. Mister Pickle

      Personally, I have many many other things I’d rather feel guilty about :)

      I wish I could hire someone to clean my house. I’m not sure how other people do it. The one time my wife and I hired someone, it ended up with us doing a weekly pre-clean-up for the maid.

      One thing to maybe consider is offloading some of the cleaning or whatever to the kids (if they’re old enough). My kids got an allowance based on chores, it worked reasonably well.

    7. Jen RO

      I felt guilty for a while, and then I started thinking that the money I pay my cleaning lady basically ensures I have relaxing weekends. It’s a worth trade-off in my opinion. (I also know that she does need this job and we are good “employers”, so I enjoy giving someone an opportunity to earn some money.) She also loves our cats and the cats love her!

    8. Lore

      I kind of split the difference–I have someone come once a month or so; she does the hardwood floors and the windows and the deep cleaning, and I do enough sweeping/vacuuming/keeping up in kitchen and bathroom in between to maintain a vaguely acceptable standard of living.

    9. Not So NewReader

      I don’t think that professional or blue collar plays in here either. If you need an extra set of hands, then you need an extra set of hands. It won’t always be this busy- life changes, kids grow up and other things happen.
      Even if you were on your own, you would still find things that have to be hired out. I won’t go on roofs, I can’t lift the snow blower up on to the tractor, and I can’t rewire a house.
      What I am saying is there is no escaping this question. Everyone has to hire someone at some point.
      So pick your battles. If you don’t mind laundry but you hate-hate vacuuming and dusting then hire someone to help you with that part. You might need that person less than you think OR it could be that you hire a nice person and figure out that Nice Person is willing to take on windows, shrubs and driveway sealing, i.e. stuff you have not even thought about asking for help with.

      If I could I would hire someone to do the parts I do not like. As it stands, all I can do is hire someone to do the parts I cannot do.
      I had friends hire someone to clean and I can only describe this person as a “marriage-saver”. Once that person became a part of their lives, the marriage went back to a healthier place.

    10. Anonymous Educator

      I don’t know how old your “school-age” kids are, but maybe you can hire someone for now and work on cultivating your kids to clean in the future as they get older? Definitely not anything to feel guilty about to hire someone to clean!

    11. Observer

      I would say two things.

      One is that, as others say, there is no moral virtue in cleaning your house as long as you can afford to pay someone the going rate for the work. If it were a choice between paying other necessary bills or the cleaning help it would be one thing. Or if the only way you could afford it would by squeezing the help somehow. But that’s not the case here.

      The second thing is that your school aged children should absolutely be helping out, if they aren’t. It’s good for you, for the household and for them. I get that school kids can have heavy schedules, but taking care of themselves and pulling their weight in a household are good for them, and the skills they build are useful in school and in life.

    12. HR Manager

      Do you have those come once a month type of housekeepers? My sister is a successful career woman who has been the main bread-winner for the family. My BIL recently went back to work in a retail job, but for years was watching over their daughter at home (after a lay-off, right around the time my niece started kindergarten). Worked out well, because day care is a ridiculous expense, and he could pick her up, get her lunch and do general maintenance around the house. He is an ok housekeeper, and my sister just didn’t have the time to keep up with all the cleaning.

      She got a referral for someone who comes once a month and does a deep-clean of the house top to bottom. She still does daily upkeep (cooks, laundry, dishes, etc), but doesn’t worry as much about keeping it spotless. The monthly cleaner comes in and does the rest.

    1. HR Manager

      Sounds like an exaggeration to me. My recruiter and I probably do hire more through LinkedIn than the website, because we find an overall better quality of candidates from the resumes there, but we look at everyone who comes in, regardless of source.

  55. TMegan

    Silly question, probably, but bear with me. I’m looking for a new career path and I’m not sure how to proceed. Most of the jobs I’ve had since forever have involved me starting with an organization and within six months either being transferred to an inside position to reorganize it after a bad situation, or being shipped to another worksite to clean up messes after someone is terminated. One organization had me doing it for the better part of two years. Is there an official title for someone like that? Something I can focus my job search on?

    1. danr

      Sounds like you’re a good “Troubleshooter”. I’ve done similar stuff and always had a nebulous job title that freed me to do the odd stuff.

    2. Not So NewReader

      These folks are called managers. Not snark. I firmly believe that a hefty part of management is your willingness to tackle problems and find solutions. The more difficulties you solve, the more you will be noticed.

      Sure, that is not all the attributes necessary to become a manager but it is a strong one to have. Managers that go into melt down are managers that lack the skills to solve the problem causing the melt down. Good managers have a humble confidence. “Okay, let’s look at this carefully together, there has to be a solution some where.”

  56. Anonysquirrel

    What is it about these two posts on another newsgroup that annoys the hell out of me?

    http://ask.metafilter.com/272199/Im-in-demand-and-I-dont-know-what-to-do-about-it

    http://ask.metafilter.com/264339/Good-Job-Hit-the-Ceiling-Quickly-Looking-for-Advice-on-the-Next-Steps

    (Alison, I believe the links above will cause your software to hold this post for moderation – if you think this question is inappropriate for AAM, feel free to delete. It is a serious question, however: are these examples of “millenial attitude”? Or is it just me?)

  57. Rebecca

    I overheard my manager ask if anyone knew of someone who was looking for a job, as she wanted to start to collect resumes and look for someone to hire. No one answered, that I know of, and many of us are trying hard to get other jobs, as we are holdovers from the previous owners. I would never, ever recommend working for this company. I really hope that the people who interview for the position have the common sense to ask questions about merit increases & cost of living increases (they don’t happen), and the cost of health insurance (unless it’s for just the employee, costs are pretty steep). I know if they don’t ask, she won’t tell, as we found out from the last person hired. Oh, and as a bonus, she expects people to leave their current jobs without notice now, a big turnaround from when a lot of us were hired 10-15 years ago.

    I am so looking forward to the day I can turn in my notice. I realize it could take months, or even years, but I am determined to escape this.

    1. Not So NewReader

      You will make it, you will escape.

      One company offered money to their employees for referring an applicant. They STILL did not get applicants. The company was that bad, you could not even pay people to refer other people.
      You would think that TPTB would figure out that something is wrong here.

  58. MLIS Degree

    Does anyone have any suggestions for what kind of jobs someone with an MLIS degree could look at? I’ve been job hunting for two years with no success. I’ve been applying to data entry, clerical, library, archive, project assistant, and other record or information related jobs, but I’m pretty much overqualified degree-wise or underqualified experience-wise for everything I apply to. I can’t do anything that’s unpaid or only part time, and I have horrible phone skills, so that limits what I can apply to. I’m not sure where else to look.

    1. Anonymous Educator

      Unfortunately, I don’t have a magic bullet for you. MLIS would seem to indicate some kind of librarian position. If you’re geographically flexible (and okay with any grade level), K-12 independent schools may be a good place to look—though they won’t have many positions open until February-April. You can check in with NAIS or Carney Sandoe.

    2. HR Manager

      Library and archive are the areas I’d think of (we have an archive dept and regularly hire those with those degrees. I’d suggest looking at industries that have huge record retention, document management, and/or knowledge management needs (i.e., legal, pharma/health, IT, content management companies, etc.). If you haven’t already, start working with any software programs that deal with document management and get to know archival software and programs.

  59. Late to the Party

    What would you do if you found out a coworker was writing a book about his coworkers and their life stories they told around the office? What would you do if that coworker named the book “The Talking Dead?” I found this out last night, and I do not know how much of the workplace knows about his plan; quite a few people love to share their life stories. Some of the stories I found out he is putting in are quite personal; they should only be stories told by the people who are actually living them if at all. He claims to be both “sensitive and unapologetic” about writing this book. I don’t need him writing my story, good, bad, or otherwise. It just is very creepy that someone is listening and participating in office chatter with an ulterior motive. I also find the title disturbing in its own right, especially being about coworkers. Any thoughts?

    1. Ollie

      It is just a fictional book where he’s using coworkers’ stories as inspiration for his characters? Or is this some sort of nonfiction book? If it’s the latter, I’d find it really horrible and unscrupulous to be gathering coworker’s “life stories” to publish without permission, especially in a book that sounds like it’ll be casting them in a bad light. (Even if he’s not including names, I certainly wouldn’t want someone publishing my life story like that!)

      I’m not sure what I’d do about it if I was in your shoes. People shouldn’t be sharing highly personal things with coworkers if they don’t want it repeated (any decent person wouldn’t gossip and spread personal information, but there’s no reason to expect complete confidentiality from anyone you’re not close to, such as coworkers). If I worked with him, it is something I’d want to know about so I could avoid talking to him though.

      How did you find out? What were you considering doing about it, if anything?

  60. Late to the Party

    He’d mentioned he wanted to be a writer and has written a few things mainly online for the time being. I decided to see if I could find his work and came across a publication website where his name and photo were published as well as a brief bio. Without giving the website link, it says (paraphrased) that the manuscript is a collection of poems and short stories that “document” (website’s word, not mine) the lives of the coworkers. The two stories he mentions relate to one person’s health and another person’s religion. I do not see the manuscript anywhere so I do not know if he is using real names. But still, all it took was a simple search with his name and our company’s name for it to show up.

    I don’t share anything highly personal, but this will make me think twice about anything I say to him. I completely agree with your choice of adjectives for his book, and while I think others should know about it, I think I’m going to keep quiet and just protect myself. I don’t want to rock the boat. For all I know this website could be old and he’s abandoned the project. Yet, I’ll keep it in my mind that if he had the idea to do it once, he’ll have no qualms in doing picking up the pen again on it.

    1. Graciosa

      I think that you need to 1) think twice about sharing anything with anyone he knows (ever hear of secondhand sources?) particularly since I think it would be a kindness to your co-workers to 2) let them know what he may be planning so that they can make informed decisions about what to share or not share (which may limit his supply of stories and cause him to ask for secondhand ones).

      Personally, I would be inclined to mention seeing a post about the project in a very large gathering (like before or after the staff meeting, or loudly in the break room at lunch) and ask him if he’s still working on it. This raises the red flag for everyone without going behind his back and gives him a chance to respond.

      1. Not So NewReader

        I like the way you think, Graciosa. I would put it out there and let mass opinion take over or I would mention it to the boss. I would definitely do something so that all my coworkers knew and had opportunity to curtail their conversations with the budding writer. If they chose not to stop the flow of their personal information, that is out of my hands.

    2. Ollie

      I can’t imagine anyone wanting to publish a book like that, let alone read a book like that, but I supposed I’d think that about a lot of books that are currently available, so who knows.

      Since you can find this using his name and the company’s name, I wonder if it’s something a manager would want to know about and would be concerned about? (It seems like an issue of privacy for the employees and something that would reflect poorly on the company.)

      I like Graciosa’s idea about bringing it up in front of other people. You say you don’t want to rock the boat though, and if you’re shy at all I can see doing that as being very intimidating.

      I’m sorry you have a coworker that was/is doing this. Makes me feel very squirmy/disgusted just thinking about it.

  61. Buu

    What do you do if your manager just sometimes just does not listen or make simple logical connections? I’m getting a bit frustrated with my manager and I think it’s reflecting badly on our department. I have a performance review soon so I’m not sure how or if I should bring it up with the Manager. I find myself getting a bit terse, I don’t mean to but I get a bit frustrated,

    For example a typical event is:
    Morning Meeting:
    Supervisor from another dept: Sorry there’s been a problem and we won’t have a new teapot ready for you until tomorrow.

    About 30 mins later:
    Manager: Can you take a look at the new teapot handle this morning and write the report?
    Me: Sorry I would have done it already, I thought Supervisor said that we don’t have any new teapots at all today.
    Manager: Oh yeah.

    An hour later
    Manager: Can you deal with those outstanding spout issues please?
    Me: Oh did they deliver the teapot finally? I can’t see it in the usual place.
    Manager ( stung voice) OH. Well you can’t do that then can you?
    Me: If it hasn’t shown up is there anything else you want me to be doing?
    Manager: I don’t know why you’re asking me *silence*
    ( I then go and find something to do but sometimes it’s just a case of make-work. Once every so often a pile of post its will appear on my desk with minor tasks for me to do all some of which were weeks old and could have been done whilst we were without teapots to work on)

    I can understand forgetting sometimes but this is a constant thing with Manager. I think Manager will take it personally if I ask directly. I have raised some problems before and had to weave a careful explanation and Manager got very upset with me ( though did fix those issues). I think this inattention sometimes spreads into other areas, like Manager will tell me to go to a couple of meetings but won’t to tell me the time or agenda. I had to figure out who else was going and discreetly ask them which meeting was which.

    What’s the best way of wording or dealing with this problem?

    1. PoorDecisions101

      I’m not sure there’s anything to be done about absent mindedness, even if your manager would really like to improve, could be physiological.

      In the areas where your manager tends to delegate or is part of your general scope, be the go to person where you would be automatically invited by those departments anyway, so you don’t need to flail around not knowing what’s happening. Make sure to keep your manager in the loop in a way where he won’t be offended, but if he’s that forgetful and doesn’t seem particularly malicious, being able to update him on projects as required will probably be enough.

      You mentioned made up busy work – if it’s productive have at it. If not the time could be better spent cultivating the relationship with the other departments and helpful enough that you’re automatically on the forefront when it comes to your part of the scope and related meetings.

      Good luck with your manager.

  62. jordanjay29

    I feel like I made a professional faux pas here. At an interview yesterday, I was asked to provide a couple references of coworkers. I had not prepared for this (I always ask before using someone as a reference) and had neither considered who to select nor had their information in a presentable form (my other references were neatly typed and printed). The interviewer explicitly mentioned they would be contacting my references.

    Reluctantly, I put down two coworkers that I had worked closely with. After the interview, I contacted both of them and begged for forgiveness retroactively, and prayed they wouldn’t ask to be removed. I feel like it would be embarrassing and potentially put a job offer at risk to contact the employer to rescind a reference. I haven’t heard back from either of them yet, probably due to the holiday weekend.

    Is there anything more I can do here? What has someone else done when they’ve put down a reference and realized they might be caught blindsided?

    1. Buu

      I don’t think I’ve ever been asked to provide specifically co-worker references before. I usually use whomever company policy dictates I should ( often it’s HR). Unless they said in advance I’d say ” I normally give XXX in HR as my reference as company policy dictates I do that, is that OK?”

    2. Lizzie

      I had to do this once and just did the same thing you did: called and begged for forgiveness. (Like you, I had a list of past supervisors to provide, but they were adamant that they wanted peers who had never supervised my work.) Ultimately, my references were never contacted (though it was suggested in the interview that they might be), and although I was offered the position, the many red flags that arose during the interview process led me to turn it down.

  63. RefQues

    I know this is late…

    Does anyone have advice about how to address not having a former supervisor listed as a reference? After I resigned, two former coworkers told me that he hinted (not actually said b/c he’s smart enough to know better) that I was fired and also said I had gone to a different company than my current employer (?). Either way, he was not truthful. He was awful and we didn’t keep in touch, so reaching out to him is not an option. I have other supervisory references, but that was my longest held position, so it may raise a red flag.

    1. Buu

      What were the old HR from your company like? if they were OK contact them and ask if they will provide a reference even if it’s just ” RefQues worked here from to x to x date” your time there is covered, an HR dept is less likely to lie and you can use a better personal reference from somewhere else. You could tell old HR you got the impression your old supervisor didn’t seem too keen about writing a reference so you just need something functional to cover the employment period.

      1. RefQues

        HR will only confirm dates, title, etc. (I already checked.) I can use that contact information and a couple of colleagues as references. Just not sure what to say about old supervisor if asked…

        1. Buu

          To be honest as long as you have *something* for that job I suspect they won’t ask at all, if you list multiple people who aren’t your Supervisor for that company that might draw more attention to it. Unless asked I’d list one contact for each job. Do you have a more recent Supervisory references? if so list those first, then the HR one for the long job. I tend to only list two references and let them know I can provide more upon request. ( though it depends how many they ask for)

          If they really do ask, how about:
          ” To be honest, we didn’t really keep touch after I left so I thought HR would be a better point of contact. If you’d like to hear a more personal reference I happen to be in touch with Good Coworker”

  64. Jobseeker

    I’m applying for an internal position at work. Anyone have any tips for writing a cover letter for an internal position? I knew the job was going to be posted and when I saw it I mentioned to my supervisor that I planned on applying. My supervisor (who is the hiring manager and supervisor of the new position) gave me zero feedback on applying, just that I couldn’t use him as a reference because he is the hiring manager.

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