open thread – November 7, 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 :)

{ 963 comments… read them below }

  1. Gwen Soul*

    How long can you stay in a job before you are seen as not able to move? I have been in my job for 6 years, although with a few promotions in that time. I enjoy my job but know I won’t be able to go much further in this department. I was talking with a director in another department a few days ago and he mentioned that it wouldn’t be too much longer before I couldn’t move anymore since people would think I couldn’t change my way of thinking. Thoughts?

      1. Gwen Soul*

        Thanks for the link! I really to do love my job and so far the only people interested in me are wanting me to do IT project management which would drive me nuts. Maybe I will just keep an eye on internal postings and see what there is. I work in a company with 50K employees so it shouldn’t be too hard to find new opportunities but looks like I shouldn’t have to worry too much for the next few years.

        Since I have been here I have been promoted from Admin to Project Manager to (hopefully soon) Program Manager.

        I know my boss is worried about me leaving since he and I get along really well, and he doesn’t get along with many people. He has been giving me crazy raises the last few years, partly I suspect so I have golden handcuffs on. I want to stay with my current company since it is stable and has good benefits, so I am making sure I give a good impression whenever I work with a different area.

    1. Audiophile*

      I often wondered this as well.

      It’s tough, I’ve seen more than one article that listed 4-5 years as the top. But I think 6, is reasonable because you’ve been promoted.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        4-5 years tops? That’s crazy. I suppose it’s possible in some fields — but this stuff REALLY varies by field and by specific situation. There’s no one across the board guideline, and I’d be really suspicious of anyone who tells you there is.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            I don’t dispute that you can find people saying it; my point is that you should discount that if they’re presenting it as a hard and fast rule, because it’s not.

      2. Scott M*

        I think it also matters if your job has changed often. I work in IT, and I’ve adapted to changes in operating systems, programming languages, software development methods, etc. While I haven’t been promoted to management, I think I can show enough professional development to offset the 20+ years I’ve been with my company.

        1. Windchime*

          This is how I feel as well. I’ve been with basically the same IT company for over 12+ years, but in that time I’ve been in four different roles using new technology. I’m currently in Business Intelligence, so I feel like my skills are still advancing and staying current despite not really changing employers.

    2. Jazzy Red*

      My thought is that you should start looking around for different job, either within your company or outside. If you’re on the younger side (under 45), you still have a long time to work. Explore your options! It’s not a commitment until you find something you really want and accept a job offer. If you stay in your current company, you seriously do not want to get a reputation as someone who can’t change. You’ll get stuck in some mind-numbing deadend job and have no way out. Instead, show that you can adapt to change, and even seek it out, and be successful. You owe that director you talked to a big Thank You for pointing this out to you.

      All change is stressful (and scary), even when it’s for the better. 10 years ago, I made the biggest change of my life, partly because I didn’t want to look back in 10 years and think that I should have at least tried it. I look back now and thank God for nudging me into this change. It was the best thing that ever happened to me.

    3. The IT Manager*

      There is a huge difference bewteen staying in the same job and staying with the same company while being promoted and simply making lateral moves to expand the skillset. I suspect a lot of the guidance sounds screwy because people are miscommunicating about which they mean.

      1. Mabel*

        I worry about this sometimes because I’ve been with the same company for 13+ years, but I’ve had four different roles in that time. I don’t want to move to another job now, but I do wonder whether I need to do it pretty soon…

    4. babyshark*

      Any attorneys out there want to weigh in on their thoughts on this? I’m a new(ish) attorney trying to shoot for the 10-year public interest loan forgiveness, but I’m a little concerned about what my resume will look like if I stay in the same state office for ten years.

      1. Senor Poncho*

        P-side injury lawyer here.

        I think you’ll be fine, tbh. Likely depends on what you’re doing, but, say, 10 year’s in a PD’s office is pretty understandable.

        1. Senor Poncho*

          and I’d add that our generation of lawyers is going to be highly likely to “get” the ten years in a PSLF job given the widespread debt/employment issues.

      2. littlemoose*

        I’m in the same boat. The PSLF is a huge carrot to stay, and that alone has made me inclined to not look around for jobs prior to the 10-year point.

      3. bridget*

        I think it will be especially fine if you can show that you’re growing in the job there (like you would be at a firm, on partner track). Like, if you’re in a public defender’s office that starts out only doing misdemeanors, eventually you would move up to felonies, perhaps appeals, etc.

        Does the loan forgiveness program still work if you move from one state office to another? You could also look to springboard from an office that takes a lot of entry-level attorneys to one that requires more experience, is viewed as more prestigious, etc. (Like in my state, you might move from a city prosecutor’s office to a county office, or AG office, etc.).

  2. Nervous accountant*

    Has anyone ever gone from being a temp employee to permanent employee? What were the major and minor changes you faced that you normally wouldn’t have realized until you were in this position?

    I’ve been a seasonal/temp for almost forever now. For the longest time, getting permanent, full time has been the goal, but–and I really hope karma doesn’t kick me for saying this–now I’m thinking about the downside of it (if there is one?).

    Maybe in my head I’ve built it up so much for so long, that I never let the “negative” thoughts enter….like would I get bored really quickly and want to leave soon? Would I get too relaxed too soon? (For ex/ from reading this blog I gather that a year is usually still considered “new”…..whereas my assignments have all been 4 months at the most, and I feel like if I had 10 months to be “new” I’d be so much more relaxed and not be as stressed or make as many mistakes I did as a temp in an effort to “prove” myself in a shorter amount of time…know what I mean?)

    Is there some kind of shift in mentality/attitude required that would prevent this? Is it just out of habit?

    Don’t get me wrong, it’s still my #1 career goal so far, I hate the uncertainty of being a temp and I’d love the steady income and little bit of security and room to grow that perms seem to get (am I idealizing this?)…..really hope this Q makes sense

    1. Kai*

      I was a temp in my current job for five months before becoming permanent. I did experience a sense of relief once I knew I wasn’t a temp anymore. The security was nice! The downside for me was that after a while I had a major attitude shift that I haven’t been able to get out of since. I don’t try as hard to prove myself as I did when I was temping, which is normal (and probably for the best), but it also means I don’t do as much or as well as I could. I suppose I’m stuck in a rut without that motivation of “if you aren’t doing your super awesome best every second, you could get let go.”

      Good luck to you!

    2. Elkay*

      I went for temp to perm. For me there really wasn’t much difference as a) it was my third round of being a temp in that department and b) my job responsibilities/hours etc. didn’t change.

    3. Jazzy Red*

      I’ve had a lot of temp jobs, and although some were very short, a couple of them were year long ones. I was looking for permanent work the whole time. There is some uncertainty and insecurity in permanent jobs, but there’s a whole lot more in temp assignments. Remember that you never have to stay in any job/company if you don’t want to. As I used to think all the time “I have to work for a living, but I don’t HAVE to work here”.

      Go for the steady income and benefits. Research different companies and target the ones that show stability, and have a record of treating their employees well, including promoting from within. No matter where you work, you will have times of boredom and times of stress. It’s just part of the deal.

    4. Jessica*

      I’ve spent my share of time temping and my current job grew out of a temp gig. The flexibility of temping is nice as far as taking time off goes, but, for me, it’s way nicer knowing you have benefits, decent pay, and some measure of stability. I also feel much more investment in and ownership of my work – so getting bored is not a problem.

      It sounds like you’re just having the work version of “cold feet”.

      1. Nervous Accountant*

        It does! I just realized it does sound like cold feet. except in this case, I dont’ even have any prospects for a permanent job yet….I”ve been applying like crazy but not heard back yet. I’ve worked in two places that were “permanent” so to speak but I didn’t last more than a month at either one–my most recent one with the crazy boss, and another one that I left for a much better opportunity that popped up. In the first one I mentioned, I’m positive that if he hadn’t been such a bad boss, I would have committed to staying long term. In the second one, I left for a better opportunity–calculated risk that didn’t work out.

    5. ineloquent*

      I’ve done it twice. The first time, they were really nice to me as a temp, but once they had gotten me on the hook, they got kind of abusive. The second time, the change from temp to perm just meant a 100% pay increase, benefits, and an expectation to work more than 40 hours a week, because I became salaried.

      The added job security is great. The ability to really ‘own’ your work is great. You tend to get greater empowerment as a true rep of the company. You tend to get involved in more exciting things. It is absolutely worth it, if you work for good people doing something you can believe it. If the job is sucky, don’t do it – the sucky aspects will just get worse if they aren’t trying to woo you.

    6. Anon.*

      I’m someone who prefers contracting (which is, at best, glorified temping).

      I think the differences are possibly a cut in pay of maybe between 15-40%. Depending on the contract/temp rate, it may be about equal, or you might see a big cut in pay, but you’ll have more stability and benefits. Also, you’ll be more involved in longer-term planning, you’ll be invited to (and expected to attend) company outings, and likely attend more meetings that focus on the company’s and/or group’s needs and goal setting. So, sometimes you might feel a bit like an outsider.

      I like being a contractor/temping/freelancing because, I can separate myself from politics more easily. Typically, a contractor is there to do something specific, and that’s the primary focus. (You typically don’t attend agenda/goal setting meetings or company outings, so are overall less involved with the long-term vision and its execution.) They pay is better, but the benefits are non-existent or minimal. You can mix is up and learn a lot of different things and build an incredible skill set that a full-time person may not be able to do (and in my experience really doesn’t because a company will stick with what works for them, and change is usually at a snail’s pace and painful for many there). If you’re in a not-so-great situation, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel…you bid them adieu and move on to hopefully something better, and have a great story to tell.

      1. Anon.*

        Sorry, about the pay thing…contracting pay may be comparable to full-time pay if you include benefits into the mix.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      I think there are down sides to every setting. I did a lot of seasonal work until I hit on a long term job. For me the relief from having to look for my next gig far outweighed the downsides of the permanent position. I got so sick of going from one job to the next and going through the learning curve of each job. Nothing was as bad as that- the workplace politics, the stupid rules, all the negative stuff that came with the permanent job did not bother me as much as being without a permanent job.

      Matter of fact, I was so relieved not to have to job hunt all the time, that I did not extract myself from that permanent position as soon as I should have. So that was my mistake.
      I was surprised to find that having a reliable paycheck carried me through the boredom and types of issues that I worried about. It is amazing how receiving a consistent dollar amount can change your world view.

  3. Katie*

    Sooo, I was let go from my job about a month ago and I realize that I need to start applying for jobs and moving on. I was just wondering if anyone had any advice for getting un-“stuck” and getting out of the mourning phase for my last job. I can’t seem to motivate myself to do anything.

    1. Colette*

      Pick one thing.

      Update one section of your resume, contact one person, make a list of your skills – it doesn’t really matter what. Just pick one thing that you can do and do it.

      And then pick another one.

      (I also liked to set myself goals – i.e. “I have to write this cover letter before I can go to the gym/watch tv/etc.”)

      1. B*

        Agree with this! Also, do one thing for yourself each day – go to the gym, give yourself a manicure, make a delicious lunch and savor it. Something that makes you feel good.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Echoing the gym idea. A friend of mine joined the Y and went daily. He said it gave him a sense of accomplishment for the day. If nothing else went right at least he had put time in to health and well being. I thought the workout gave him a remarkably positive attitude.

      2. HR Generalist*

        I do that too. Or sometimes I reward myself, like “I will apply to one job and then I’ll do my nails,” or “If I finish this resume today I will have pizza for dinner”. One thing at a time, whatever you need to do to get it done :)

    2. Diet Coke Addict*

      I’m so sorry. That sucks.

      Sometimes when you’re really, really stuck, it can help to give yourself permission to do just one little thing. Not everything. Just one thing. With a reward! So instead of saying “I’m going to apply for six jobs today!” tell yourself “I’m going to work on my resume today.” And just do that–give yourself permission to take it one little step at a time, and be kind to yourself when you do. Break things down–you’ll work on your resume and make sure it looks sharp. Good! Then you can start perusing job boards and thinking about what you’ll want to do, etc.

      Do one thing. It starts there. An ant can eat an elephant but he has to do it one bite at a time. Don’t feel like you have to accomplish everything today, but it’s so easy to get stuck in the repetitive cycle of doing nothing. Start with something small–even making up a to-do list–and one bite at a time. And strangely, getting out of the house, even going for a short walk, has always helped me.

    3. Adam*

      “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.”

      Job hunting seems like a momentous task, and it is, but like Colette said it can be broken down into bite size chunks that are much easier to handle mentally. Instead of making your daily to do list with a point that says “Job Hunting”, make one with something that’s narrowly focused and thus easier to do like “review education section of resume” or “write one cover letter”.

      Having a clear goal will make progress much easier to come by and if you can check off the little tasks along the way you’ll gain momentum by your mini-successes and eventually will be surprised by just how much you got done.

      Good luck!

    4. Risa*

      I was laid off in February. For a week I allowed myself to be upset and process my grief at losing a job I had been in for 8 years. Then I worked on some personal projects, and slowly fed in job hunting. At first I didn’t job hunt all day everyday. I did things that made me feel good about myself again. I exercised, gardened and worked on a couple of pet projects. Then I added in the job hunt, slowly a piece at a time. Cleaned up my resume, wrote a general cover letter that could serve as a template for customized ones, searched one job site at a time. I was also really selective in what I applied to. I was fortunate in that I got a severance and vacation pay out, as well as a husband who could support us for a period of time while I was out of work. Don’t try to do it all at once and make yourself frantic.

    5. Penny*

      I got someone to hold me accountable for what I did. After college, when I was working part time retail and looking for full time work, I’d get distracted so easily. Even living with my parents still, they weren’t as strict as I needed them to be. So I talked with a family friend, one of my mom’s friends who had known me since I was a baby and cared that I succeed in life, and she agreed to be the one to hold me accountable.

      The agreement we came to was that a minimum of one thing a day. Whether that I was applying to a job posting or going to a job search workshop or signing up with a job posting website, I would email her with what I accomplished every day, at least one thing and anything extra was bonus points. And she was great at holding me accountable. She made me do stuff in advance when I knew I would be out of town, was understanding when I was legit sick and couldn’t do anything, and then gave me the scolding I needed when I didn’t hold up my end of the bargain.

      Working with her, I got my first full time job in about 10 months. So having someone to report to was the exact kick in the butt I needed to get my job. I can’t recommend it enough.

    6. Artemesia*

      A schedule is key. You know how sometimes in a grim day on the job you might make a list of things that need done and put a couple of things on you already did that morning so you can cross them off as done? Or a couple of easy things so you can do them quickly and mark them off? It really helps when you are stuck to schedule yourself or make lists so you can see some progress.

      Years ago I was stuck on a bunch of writing projects and publishing was important to my job. I sat down and asked myself what was something easy I could do immediately and that day did a short piece for a practical section of a journal — a sort of how to. I wrote it — about 500 words and sent it off that day and it was accepted about two weeks later. It was not a career boosting publication — but did get mentioned internally when the monthly list of publications was announced AND it sort of jump started my writing to have a quick success.

      Find some things you can do. Some contacts you can reach out to easily etc. And make sure you get through the list each day. You can have ‘power walk for half an hour’ or other personal tasks on there too — but move.

      I was displaced in a merger where whole departments got cut. One of those early list items of connecting with potential networking links resulted in the new position which I held for over a decade and was a much better job than the one I lost.

      The more little successes you give yourself, the easier it is to move out of the catatonia we all experience when the unexpected job loss occurs.

    7. Melly*

      This is less about the grieving process, and more a practical motivation thing, but getting out of the house helps! Take your laptop to a coffee shop and commit an hour or two to working on your resume and applications, alternating with people watching and eating pastries. Will make you feel more normal to be out of the house/alone, and can be sort of a treat.

    8. nep*

      Some terrific ideas and suggestions here.
      You are not stuck. The fact that you are reaching out and seeking ways to motivate yourself again — that in and of itself means you are not stuck. You’re making moves away from that past and toward the next opportunity. The more you have it in your mind that you’ve moved on, the more receptive you’ll be when doors open. The mindset will make a huge difference, even in how you interact with others.
      Wishing you all the best.

      1. AnotherTeacher*

        “You’re making moves away from that past and toward the next opportunity. The more you have it in your mind that you’ve moved on, the more receptive you’ll be when doors open. ” Nice!

        As others have said, do things that boost your confidence and engage your mind: exercise, volunteer, learn a new craft, etc.

  4. Tiffy the Fed... Contractor*

    This woman I work with keeps on commenting on smells. It’s more just annoying than anything. Doesn’t affect my work. I’m not even particularly offended. But the reason I ask is because I’m trying to think of funny things to say in response. She and I use the same essential oil brand, and today she asked if I had some on. I didn’t. But I told her, “Well I put deodorant on today, so maybe that’s it.”

    Any takers?

    1. Wasted Donuts*

      Her: Are you wearing X brand essential oil?
      You: I smell hamburgers. Is that what you’re referring to?

        1. QualityControlFreak*

          Interesting. I was in an accident early this year and lost my sense of smell. I never noticed before just how much casual conversation is composed of “Ooohhh, that smells good!” “Do you smell that?” etc. It does hamper my participation when my responses are limited to “Okay,” “Nope” or “You’re asking the wrong person.”

    2. Rebecca Too*

      Next time could you could build on the deoderant comment and try something like “Hmm, well I finally remembered to shower last night. Could that be it?”

    3. Karowen*

      Something to keep in mind is that she may be trying to find a way to say that the smell is giving her a headache. My good friend/co-worker doesn’t really have a filter, so she’ll tell people that come near her wearing perfume that they smell…And if you don’t know that it’s giving her a headache, it’s super off-putting.

      1. Tiffy the Fed... Contractor*

        It’s not just me, she always makes comments about people lunches. She hasn’t given me any inclination that the smells both her, just that she has no other way of making conversation with people.

        1. Liz*

          Why not make conversation with her about something else then? Sounds kind of sad. Otherwise I’d just ignore her if you can’t find something to say.

    4. Megan*

      Is she trying to just start a conversation? I know that some people are really into essential oils and sell them MLM-style.

    5. Clever Name*

      I notice smells around me all the time, but I usually keep any commentary to myself. Unless I smell smoke. Then I’ll say something, because you never know.

  5. ChristinaW*

    I could use some advice on moving from a big city to a small town, and what sort of jobs I might pursue. I currently work in a major city, and my focus is on international development programs and federal health policy. I’m an early-to-mid career professional in program management. I’ve only ever worked for national or international organizations. Due to my husband’s job change, I am going to have to move to a smaller city/town that will not have headquarters for any major organizations.

    What types of jobs might I pursue, when my sector is not well represented in the new location? I would appreciate some advice on how to be creative in my job search, when I don’t have any blue-collar, business, or highly technical skills. I am open to a lot of options, and don’t mind a minor pay cut – I just don’t want to feel like I’m regressing in my career.

    1. Nerdling*

      You might see if the local hospital or health department has any openings that might be of interest to you (health department positions may be advertised and run through the state in the US).

    2. Fawn*

      I don’t know where you are, but in my region (Ontario) a lot of small towns host satellite campuses for colleges or universities, if higher ed is a consideration for you.

    3. Yet Another Allison*

      Every small town is different. What are the industries/major employers in the one to which you are moving?

    4. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      Any chance you can continue to work remotely for your current employer? Or consult with orgs in your industry?

      I work in the world of tiny nonprofits, but my sister works in the world of large, international nonprofits (WWF, Audubon, Nat Geo, etc.). She’s had many coworkers move abroad and continue to work remotely.

    5. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I would first look into working remotely, but look into universities or hospitals or government, both state and local. Program management can be super important in smaller governments. But ask about your remote options; these days, it’s easier than ever to move and keep your job, so your employer might be amenable to it.

      1. ChristinaW*

        Thanks for these suggestions. I am definitely going to look into working remotely as a stepping stone.

    6. Angora*

      Do you have a Master’s Degree? If you do, you can look at teaching part-time at a local community college or university. They pay by teaching load.

      1. ChristinaW*

        I do, and I love this idea. It wouldn’t pay much, but it would be a great way to get integrated into my new community and to keep my skills+knowledge sharp.

    7. ZSD*

      Could you give more specifics about the size of the town/city you’re moving to? Is it about 500 people, about 10,000 people, or about 50,000 people?
      Or is it really more of a small city, say about 100,000?

    8. misspiggy*

      On the international development side, contact consultancy firms in your specific field – they will often take consultants on for certain projects who work from home and are willing to travel.

  6. AVP*

    Okay, I have a question.

    A few weeks ago I applied for a job online that seemed great, if a bit of a stretch for me. I was looking at the job site again yesterday and noticed that they had changed the title of the position to make it one bar lower (so, like, “Staff manager” to “Line manager.”) It’s definitely the same job posting, because I checked my application history on the site and it now lists the new job.

    The thing is, I would still love this position – it’s probably a better fit now than at the original posted level. But do you think they’re considering all of the original applications, since presumably a lot of higher-up people would be turned off by the downgrade? I haaaaaate cold-emailing people – I don’t need to email them to reiterate that I definitely still would like to be considered, right? I just hate to think that they could have thrown out the first batch of resumes and started over!

    (It’s a very tiny company so my best guess is that any cold email would end up going directly to the HM or his right-hand person, who would hypothetically be the people screening the resumes.)

    1. A.*

      I don’t think you need to reiterate your interest, especially since your application history reflects the title change. I think you’re fine.

    2. OhNo*

      I’m sure they’ll look through the applications that were already submitted, if the job is that similar to what it was changed to. You would probably only need to contact them if the job description had changed significantly, which it doesn’t sound like is the case.

  7. Lunaire*

    I feel vindicated.

    We had an office meeting and another one of my coworker saw my gross coworker picking his nose before chewing his nails. It was not my imagination. I am officially not nuts.

    1. Tiffy the Fed... Contractor*

      Oh those are just the best moments. Not witnessing the booger eating, but being vindicated and knowing you’re not nuts. I love those moments.

    2. SerfinUSA*

      Oh yuck!
      I just happened to walk past our sub-breakroom (like a mini staff room for our particular dept.) and a coworker was blowing snot into the sink with the water running. Dude! The bathroom is only 20 feet away!!

      1. Bea W*

        Dude! Kleenex!!

        Trying to wash snot down the drain is difficult. It’s so viscous and sticks to the sides of the sink. I would not want snot in a sink everyone shares. I don’t want snot in my own sink, not even my own. I’m not even sure how one blows snot into a sink. How do you blow your nose without a tissue and not have it go all over your face?

  8. Diet Coke Addict*

    My incompetent coworker’s bizarre obsession with faxes has continued apace.

    Another coworker has spent the past couple days trying to track down a package at a huge, sprawling, major college campus two provinces away that our boss left somewhere. She knew it was left at the front desk of a specific building, and has been calling the desk and various other contacts for two days now trying to locate it. My incompetent coworker’s suggestion is “Why don’t you fax the school?”

    “I beg your pardon?”

    “Yeah, fax the school! They probably never get faxes any more so they’ll be really curious to know what it is, and they’ll find the package and send it right away!”

    We got her to stop holding up our fax line by sending 20 cold faxes every day to people (for real), but apparently the fax is the wave of the future. Who knew.

    1. Colette*


      It never fails to amaze me when someone suggests I fax something. There’s absolutely no reason why that should be a thing anymore – if you can fax, you almost certainly have a computer and can scan.

      1. Observer*

        That’s actually not the case. There are lots of places where people don’t have a computer, and many, many computers don’t have scanners, either.

        1. Squirrel!*

          Thanks for this, I was going to post the same thing. Some people just don’t have access to the same equipment others do, and I hate it when people pretend otherwise.

          1. Diet Coke Addict*

            While that is true, of course, 98% of our business uses the internet and email (and an additional 1.9% uses the phone), so the fax is not really a concern for our specific business. This is just my coworker being blind to the actual situation at hand and actively mucking up things.

            1. Nikki T*

              I don’t even…so she wanted you to fax them a question?

              I presume your other coworker had actually talked to people at the campus and they were actively searching for the package. I’m not sure why she thought a fax would a) make the package magically appear or b) suddenly make them spring into action, because they were just ignoring her before…

              1. Diet Coke Addict*

                She had indeed! And left a few messages with other people. I don’t know why she thinks that A Fax is the magical key to making things happen, but in my experience faxes end up in the recycling been half the time even when you’ve told someone to expect it.

                1. king*

                  I work in a library where we have a favorite library patron who always asks for various politicians and companies fax numbers (almost on a daily basis) because he thinks if he faxes in his complaints they will be placed as a high priority problem to be solved immediately.

            2. Observer*

              Yeah, I get that. I wasn’t responding about your co-worker who sounds like fun to escape from. I was responding to the comment that “If you have a fax, you must have a scanner and email.”

              As for faxing the other campus to get them to work harder to find the package, I’d be willing to bet that if it did have any effect, it would be the reverse. You almost might as well send them a letter via USPS telling them how URGENT it is that they respond “IMMEDIATELY!”

          2. Anonsie*

            Sure. But huge companies that do indeed have computer systems and scanners and etc still require things to be faxed all the time, and it’s silly.

          3. chewbecca*

            Exactly. And, to add to this, I do a lot of faxing. The amount of time it would take to scan and organize and email everything is not worth it.

        2. Colette*

          There are many places that don’t have fax machines, either, but most businesses do have computers these days. (I was using the internet while I was waiting for my car to be done this morning.) Also, many, many people carry around cell phones that allow for scanning apps.

          1. Observer*

            Yes, but that doesn’t mean that the people who are getting and sending faxes have access to them. And, not all computers have decent scanners (or any scanners, for that matter) even in business.

            1. Colette*

              I really don’t think anyone will have fax machines in, say, five years. They’re outdated technology, and are pretty ineffective at that. Sure, not everyone has newer technology, but that doesn’t mean the world will stand still and wait for them to catch up.

              1. Not So NewReader*

                Except for those areas that cable companies refuse to serve, EVER. We have areas here that the cable company will not go into. (Not cost effective.) I think that some places will be stuck with faxing forever, or until we find something that can work for these areas. But yeah, we have areas around here that will probably never see internet access.

                1. Just lurking*

                  Exactly this. F’ex many reserves (NOT all) only have phone lines and fax machines (at the band office) so thats the only way to quickly get info over. Aside from snail mail, that is.

              2. Observer*

                That may, or may not, be true. However, people need to deal with what is the case today, and today, a lot of people can’t necessarily scan and email.

                I’m also not necessarily convinced that fax is going to disappear in the next 5 years. There are still situations where a fax machine makes a lot more sense than a computer and scanner. It’s quite possible that will change over time, but a lot of things will need change first.

        3. Elizabeth West*

          Yep. At Exjob, we had customers who absolutely would not accept scanned documents (quotes and anything signed). It had to be faxed. They faxed invoices to people too.

          1. Colette*

            Which is ridiculous, because email is more secure than faxing. (OK, yes, it’s easier to hack an internet communication than a phone communication, but with a fax machine you have no way of knowing that it got to the specific person you wanted it to get to, or even that the number you have is for a fax machine.)

            1. Elizabeth West*

              I know. But that is what happens when your clients are computer-phobic. Luckily, it wasn’t many of them, and by the time I left, they were emailing many invoices.

              Newjob is almost totally digital. I can’t remember the last time I had to print something.

            2. Natalie*

              The health care industry’s reliance on faxing has always amused me, considering we get misdirected faxes with PHI in it all. the. time.

              1. Diet Coke Addict*

                Last week we got a misdirected fax with some poor man’s mental health analysis. Seriously private info. Our administrator actually looked up who it originated with and called them to chew them out about if you’re sending critical, private info, make ABSOLUTELY SURE the number is correct.

              2. Mister Pickle*


                My psychiatrist’s office is computer-free. I think it’s because most of the patients prefer it that way. But I have to fax in a request for a new Adderall Rx every month.

                At first this was something of a drag. But then I started to have fun with it – it’s my monthly Creative Challenge to design a new, original refill request letter in Photoshop (or whatever) and fax it in.

              3. Observer*

                Especially since doctors will tell you with a straight face that they prefer fax over email because of security and privacy.

                Considering that it’s only in the last 18 months that I finally got fax direct to the desktop, that’s pretty funny to me. Our shred fax machine was open to the entire staff – and anyone who had to walk down the hall. VERY secure, NOT!

            3. Just lurking*

              When you fax something you pretty much know right away if its not a fax number because you’ll hear someone say “hello?” on the other line. :) Otherwise, most machines nowadays will print a progress report on why it didnt send after a couple of tries.

        4. Elysian*

          Indeed – Also , confidentiality. I know a place that will accept faxes but not emails, because they can control their fax machine hardware but can’t control their email server. So there’s also that.

          1. Colette*

            That’s really confused thinking.

            Faxes aren’t sent via magic. They go over telephone lines – and the backend of many telephone networks is IP, which is the same protocol used for the internet. The difference is in the way the messages are encoded in the higher-level protocols.

      2. MaryMary*

        I worked with a large bank at my last job, and they required sign off on certain transactions by fax. They would not accept scanned, emailed documents. I would need to print off forms, sign them, and fax them. They also employed people to watch the fax machine and deliver the faxes to the appropriate contact at the bank, since the faxes contained confidential financial information. Not that I want to put anyone out of a job, but Since security was such a concerned I never understood why I couldn’t confidentially and electronically send this information to my contact VIA EMAIL.

        1. Scott M*

          I can relate. I recently had add some days to a summer program my son was attending at the YMCA. To make the change, I had to FAX in a document to the regional office, with payment information (credit card info). I could not go to the local Y. I could not do it on the web site. I had to fax it.

          I did it, since there was not way around it, but I watched my credit card statement like a hawk for the next several months.

        2. Cautionary tail*

          A few years ago I dealt with a company that would only accept faxed signatures…so we had to print out our forms that had our digital signature already them and then without making any changes fax them over.

          Face palm.

      3. Sadsack*

        I work with tax jurisdictions all over the country, and there are many who only have fax machines, no email accounts. One person told me that she had to give me the fax number of the office next door because they didn’t even have fax capability in her office.

      4. Layla*

        Faxing is a one step process , while scanning * & emailing is multi ( assuming the other party needs a hardcopy as well )

        * I could technically set the scanner to email the other party but I email myself & rename the file & forward it

        ( most things are scanned / emailed today , but I see fax still having a place )

      5. Mary*

        In addition to people not having access, a lot of entities, government especially, still won’t accept scanned signatures. You have to fax the originals. For people that work remotely, some companies require a faxed copy of timesheets. At my former public library, we did a brisk faxing business.

      1. Diet Coke Addict*

        Because that was how she did stuff in her last long-term job, in the mid-90s, and my boss didn’t realize she was doing it here until this past week. She seems to have no idea that things have moved on a slight bit since 1996.

        1. Sascha*

          She wasn’t using email????

          I was working with a professor once on an academic integrity case. She would email the student or the student’s parents, and the parents would print the email, write the reply on the email, then fax it back. It blew my mind.

          1. Diet Coke Addict*

            It’s rich–she argued that she had to use the fax when emails weren’t receiving any response. We had to break the news to her that if someone wasn’t responding to an email, they certainly weren’t going to respond to a fax, so stop harassing people.

    2. Artemesia*

      Ah the nostalgia — I remember when faxes were the wave of the future and the excitement when I was working at a non profit and someone knew a private firm that had a FAX MACHINE (can you believe it!!) and we were able to borrow it to send a time sensitive document at the last minute — but magic — print over the phone wires. Just amazing.

      1. LiteralGirl*

        I remember being so disappointed that I wasn’t going to be able to fly to San Francisco after all to do a fast (Fed Ex would have been too slow) document delivery to a client – we faxed it instead. Ah, the good old days.

      2. Sarahnova*

        “There’s a MOJO at the Daily News they’ll let us use. It’s a very modern machine that transmits pages over the telephone. And it only takes 20 minutes a page!”

    3. A Jane*

      Why not step it up and send a carrier pigeon? Or perhaps smoke signals? Maybe add them as your top 8 on MySpace.

    4. knitcrazybooknut*

      By that logic, if she sent a cassette tape, they’d be all over it! With boomboxes and Walkmen!

      Oh wait. Someone beat me to the carrier pigeon joke. Maybe an 8-Track?

    5. Lily in NYC*

      I think she has stock in a fax machine company and is desperately trying to keep the technology alive.

  9. A.*

    Just got back from a second interview, and it went extremely well! I was so nervous because it was peer interviews with 6 or 7 would-be coworkers, but they were so warm and friendly. I really, really hope I get this job! Fingers crossed!

    1. Jazzy Red*

      That sounds good! Warm & friendly coworkers can make any workplace better.

      Good luck. Let us know what happens.

  10. en pointe*

    I’m all-nightering it for uni, which is lucky because it coincides with my need to consult the open thread. I have a coworker who’s retiring next week after 17 years with this company. We’re having a retirement party, but it’s a very small company so nothing big. Just a gathering of employees and their partners, which is about 20-25 people.

    My question – is playing an embarrassing video too mean for a retirement party? I have one on my phone of this man from last year. A few of us went boozing after work and, after getting a bit deeper than normal, this guy ended up singing karaoke to Greased Lightning. Except his name is Rhys so he sang it ‘Rhys Lightning’. Red-faced with full on dance moves. Like seriously bad dance moves. As in, I tried to teach this guy to salsa once, just mucking around in the office – like basic baby steps, and he’s got absolutely no rhythm. Tl;dr, the video is GOLD.

    Everyone called him Rhys Lightning for a while afterwards, and then people moved on, but a couple of my coworkers want to play the video at his party. But I don’t know, I’m just not entirely sure about whether we should all be laughing at him at his own retirement party. It feels a little mean. But hey, people do it at weddings and stuff, right? I don’t know; I’ve never been to a retirement party before so I’m in two minds. Any thoughts?

    1. Sascha*

      Eh, I’m leaning towards not playing it. I’d only play it at the request of Rhys Lightening himself.

      1. The IT Manager*

        THIS! I hate being embarressed so much that no one is likely to get video of me singing karaoke. Some people may be able to laugh at themselves enough to be amused by it, but a lot would not. Being laughed at at a party honoring me would be terrible and make me feel the exact opposite of honored.

        So only do it if he tells you he wants it. Embaressing him when you’re supposedly honoring him is a jerky thing to do.

    2. Nerdling*

      I think it’s something that should be decided at the party, to see if it fits the tone. I’ve been to one where that might have gone over all right, but I’ve been to others where there’s just no way that it would have been appropriate — there were funny stories, but something like that would have shaded over into too embarrassing.

      My inclination would probably be not to play it, even though it sounds hysterical.

    3. Elkay*

      I’d err towards no. You can reference it in the speech “We’ll never forget your Rhys Lightening” but it seems kind of mean to dim the lights and humiliate him.

      1. JMegan*

        I would definitely do it this way. That way you can recall the incident and have a bit of a laugh, but it doesn’t become a major focus of the retirement party.

      2. en pointe*

        That is a really good suggestion actually, thanks. I think it will definitely get mentioned, video or no video.

        1. Aardvark*

          A compromise might be to copy it to a flash drive and delete the original. If it comes up during the party, you can give him the drive with a “this is the only evidence of that night, now you can burn it” speech. If not, you can quietly forget all about it.

    4. Gwen*

      I think it depends on whether Rhys Lightning finds it funny. There were definitely some ridiculous videos shown at goodbye celebrations at my work (a Madonna cone bra featured in one), but the people in them obviously felt like they were in on the joke and that it was more like reliving silly good times than being laughed at.

    5. fposte*

      It can suck at weddings, too.

      Has Rhys seen the video previously and found it hilarious? That’s the only way I’d be game to include it–proof of laughing with rather than laughing at. From your description, it sounds more laughing at.

      1. en pointe*

        Everyone’s seen the video. I guess that was probably mean of me.

        Rhys has a solid sense of humour and laughed too, but that was like a year and a half ago. I guess I don’t conclusively know whether he actually found it funny or just laughed because that’s the cool thing to do.

    6. Observer*

      It’s not appropriate at weddings, either. Just because people do something, it doesn’t make it right.

    7. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Compromise: don’t show the video, but feel free to mention the karaoke incident in a goodbye toast. Just make sure you frame it as a positive and not as making fun of him.

    8. puddin*

      I think no but maybe just a still from the video? It really boils down to, if you brought it up to him now as a ‘remember when’ topic of discussion would he smile or cringe?

        1. fposte*

          Oh, yeah, if he’d cringe then that’s just mean–it’s about fun for everybody but him, which isn’t really the point of the party, is it?

          1. en pointe*

            Hmm I’m feeling a bit ashamed of all this now, to be honest. Like it felt a little mean, but I wasn’t expecting such a resounding no.

            I kind of want to talk to Rhys privately and apologise for last year. I don’t know – we still get on well so he can’t be that upset, but I did embarrass him. Would you guys do that, or just put the kibosh on the party video thing and let it drop?

            1. Sadsack*

              Forget about it all together – bringing it up, even if only to apologize, will just cause him to relive an extremely embarrassing moment that he probably has been trying to forget and hoping others have also forgotten.

            2. Sorcha*

              I wouldn’t drag it up again just to make yourself feel better. If he has managed to forget about it or get past it, it seems a bit unkind to me to make him think about it again because you are feeling bad now.

              Let it go, and don’t bring it up again.

    9. Yet Another Allison*

      Since it is a running good humor kind of thing, maybe you could make a plaque or award for best dance moves. Just make sure it is done tastefully. If you wouldn’t show it to his spouse or kids, then it’s too much.

    10. Sadsack*

      I have never been to a wedding or retirement party where something embarrassing about the guest(s) of honor was shown to everyone. I say you let the guy go out like a champ instead of ridiculing him.

  11. Gene*


    When on a conference call with 400+ people across the country, MUTE your frelling phone!

    I swear I was ready to crawl through the phone lines and feed one guy his chips from the other end of his alimentary canal.

    That said, expect your dentist to raise prices in about 2 1/2 years. EPA is finally regulating their mercury discharges.

      1. Artemesia*

        Another bit of nostalgia. I remember when conference calls were a new thing and going to replace all those ridiculous complicated face to face meetings. Never been on one yet that was not crazy making although sometimes they are necessary.

        1. Catherine in Canada*

          So crazy making that I ended up doing squats in my cubicle yesterday to keep from screaming at the whiner on the call.

    1. Kai*

      I am fully in the “never eat chips publicly, unless you are in the company of other people eating chips” camp.

      1. louise*

        Oh man. I had no idea there was this camp. I did discover, just this week, that I am firmly in the “do not suck on and smack your jolly rancher so loudly that I can hear it across the hall with my door closed” camp. Of course it was someone who already irritates the snot out of me. I had just gotten him broken of whistling tunelessly throughout the day and now this.

        1. chewbecca*

          So, instead of Bitch Eating Crackers (TM), this is Bitch Eating Jolly Ranchers.

          How is it possible to eat that loudly? It reminds me of the HIMYM episode with Lilly’s chewing.

          1. louise*

            Eating is too refined a word for it. Even the grossest eaters have not welled up within me the rage the jolly rancher slurping ignited.

    2. Chrissi*

      Favorite conference call moment: the director at the national office is speaking about something somewhat important and technical and suddenly you hear someone else say “yeah, could I get a venti latte w/ skim milk”? The people in the national office NOT on mute laughed, but the director was pretty annoyed.

      1. MaryMary*

        I was on a call once where someone was clearly going through the McDonalds drive thru. The best part was that we knew who it was, it wasn’t a giant call and she had a distinctive voice. We gave her crap about it for years.

      2. Lily in NYC*

        Did you see the thread here a few months ago where some poor woman was on a confernce call with work and everyone heard her roommates having loud sex and thought she was watching porn during the call?

    3. puddin*

      I have heard snoring – really LOUD snoring for most of a call. Manager tried to wake the individual up by hollering a little but to no avail. Offline the other conference call participants were trying to guess at who the snorer was.

      And I also recently experienced a snorer for an in person (right after lunch) meeting. No one did anything about it so I jostled the guy. He got into a bit of trouble after the meeting I think.

    4. Kyrielle*

      Oh man yes! Had one coworker for a while who worked from a home office. Which is fine, but please mute. Especially if your dogs are barking and/or your cageful of songbirds is chirruping.

      Or both. Oh, the days when it was both.

      1. Ezri*

        A coworker told me a story recently about being on a conference call and hearing a flushing toilet in the background. Why wouldn’t you put yourself on mute if you’re going to do that??

    5. Anonsie*

      I’m trying to wrap my head around how anyone gets to say anything in a 400 person conference call. Was there an established agenda & order? No comments?

      I was going to make a jab at dentists saying I never see them, but then I realized it’s probably just a jab on me.

      1. Gene*

        This was more of an informational thing to get our comments together for EPA than doing business with a lot of back and forth; though there was some of that going on. Think conference presentation rather than business meeting.

        Most of the side conversations were going on in the comment panel of the accompanying web presentation.

    6. alma*

      Oh man. Back when I worked at BigCorp, we used to have massive calls like that. Nothing like having your division president drowned out by some rando’s barking dog.

      At my mom’s company, someone apparently called in from home, forgot to go on mute, and had a big fight with her teenage daughter. Yeah…. that was awkward.

    7. Rat Racer*

      One of my most embarrassing work-life crash moments was on a conference call: I was on PTO but dialed into a call because I felt I couldn’t miss it. I had my infant daughter with me, and planned to mute my phone and listen. Problem was, I had to answer a question, and after I un-muted to respond, I forgot to mute again. This became obvious to everyone on the call when I said very loudly to my baby, “Uh oh! I think you pooped!”

      1. RG*

        OK, so I definitely had to scroll up to find the Farscape cursing. Obviously my marathon of seasons 1-3 has turned “frelling” into a normal word for me.

    8. Natalie*

      I’ve been on at least one conference call where the host had the power to mute everyone’s line. It was amazing, and ever since then I have wondered why people don’t do this routinely.

      1. Judy*

        The system we use, the host through the app can see who is speaking at a given time and mute anyone the host wants to. Very helpful when someone puts the call on hold instead of hanging up, one of our locations uses a midi-like version of “The Entertainer” that is very hard on the ears.

    9. Buffay the Vampire Layer*

      That people can figure out how to conference themselves in but can’t figure out mute is baffling. Just last month I was on a CourtCall where one attorney was clearly calling in from home because we could hear his dog barking in the background.

    10. suomynonA*

      On large conference calls, I’ve been known to play a select WAV file or two or three at strategic moments.

    11. Hlyssande*

      Ugh. My boss makes all of these horrible, horrible mouth noises when he’s speaking on conference calls. As if he’s sucking on his teeth or something while he’s talking or thinking about what to say, and it’s maddening.

      Also, his phone alert noise is barking dogs and he never turns that on mute.

  12. WhatsInATitle*

    Since I work at a small company, my current job doesn’t care what my job title is as long as it reflects what I do. For now, I’m a Laboratory Manager when communicating externally. I’m looking for other jobs. Should I downgrade my title to better suit the job I’m applying for, for example an Associate Scientist or Researcher? I do the lab work required of the various titles, but since I lead a small team, I am labelled a “manager.” My company will confirm whatever title I provide, but I feel like my ego likes the manager title.

    1. YourCdnFriend*

      If you are responsible for people, I’d keep the “manager” title because that’s what most people will assume you do.

    2. LucyVP*

      I would keep manager. It is your title, and it’s easier to just be consistent.

      When I screen resumes I always consider the size of the organization when looking at titles/previous employment. If the applicant shares the size of the team they supervise that is helpful but I think most hiring managers are pretty savvy to the variations in titles depending in size of organization/industry/etc.

  13. Ali*

    Has anyone ever made the switch to a nonprofit from a for-profit? I have a book at home about fundraising as a career, and it mentioned development writing as a career path. I applied for a development writer job at a college several months back that required writing stories about alumni, marketing communications materials and other proposals/letters to help secure donations and engage the school’s community. The school didn’t fill the position for whatever reason, but it definitely popped up in my mind again when I read that book the other day. My writing experience to this point consists of articles (journalism-type stuff), which is fine to give samples, but I also want to challenge myself beyond just writing features and news stories. The job that went unfilled also required grant management efforts as needed and seemed to be a pretty basic position.

    How can I start working towards a similar job? I am also drawn to nonprofit because there can be a lot of variety in the work with a small organization, and my social media job now has helped me learn a little about building relationships, getting people interested in a company’s mission and so forth. I also feel my skills from journalism can be transferable, and I have a good track record now of writing and editing. Should I try to look for some volunteer roles with nonprofits, talk to development professionals? Do something else?

    Any help would be great!

    1. NJ anon*

      I switched but in finance. It is a bit of a culture shock. There is definitely a lot of variety and you would get to wear a lot of hats for sure! Try looking on That is a website with only nonprofit jobs.

    2. Jess*

      I switched a few years ago… you may be shocked by the culture change and disorganization, I have. I’m actually considering a switch back (eventually) or looking for younger, more “start up” culture nonprofits. I didn’t find have a hard time finding a job once I decided to make the switch but I stayed in the same role – communications/PR which is easily transferrable. I think you can definitely go after grant writing positions with a journalism portfolio but you may have to consider “dropping down” in title. I’ve seen plenty of grant writer positions requesting simply “writing” experience and others with extremely specific qualifications… it will all depend on the type of non profit and the role that’s open.

    3. chasingmyself*

      I’ve only worked for nonprofits, so my insight may be skewed, but keep in mind that all nonprofits Are Not Created Equal. You may be able to get a grant writer/grant manager job without experience in the field, but then you’d also be more inclined to end up at a disorganized nonprofit. I have worked with one nonprofit who hired a Development Director with only corporate experience and then was truly shocked when she didn’t raise money.

      I think the skill set is transferable. But you’d need to learn the landscape, show that you can raise funds, and demonstrate that you can write a wicked grant. If you can write, you can do this. If you are serious about getting this experience and getting into the nonprofit sector I’d recommend volunteering in a professional capacity. Is there an organization you care about that could use a pro-bono grant writer? Can you join a junior board and plan events, pitch event sponsorships, etc? This can help you bigtime!

      1. Ali*

        Oh I don’t expect to be a manager or anything like that. However, I don’t know of any organizations in my area that have junior boards. There is one nonprofit that does offer volunteer opportunities that go beyond basic office work/data entry, so I might try that. I also have accounts on and Volunteer Match, so I am somewhat prepared to switch focus. Just need to take some extra steps.

    4. Bagworm*

      This is only based on one experience but the last nonprofit where I worked (and similar experiences from peers), some (maybe many) nonprofits seem to actually overvalue for-profit work. If your interested at all in grantwriting, I would recommend finding a small nonprofit where you can volunteer. That’s a common need and having an established record of grants awarded can be very helpful.

    5. BRR*

      The last non-profit I worked for had someone switch from for profit doing the exact same thing you mentioned. She was previously a freelance copywriter and editor and got a job producing the wording for all fundraising materials.

      1. Megan A.*

        I’ve worked in nonprofits for about 8 years now, and I’d highly recommend doing some skill-based volunteering or get involved in a nonprofit door as a way to gain experience in the sector and get your foot in the door. I’m not sure how old you are or where you live, but I’ve found the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network (YNPN) to be a great resource for networking- When I attend their networking events there are often several people there who are trying to make a switch into the nonprofit sector.

  14. Audiophile*

    I seem to have hit an uptick in call backs for jobs.

    The messages I’m getting are quite comical. One person forgot mid-call, why they were calling me and had to hang up and call back. This is a role, I’m likely to skip the interview for.

    The other is more promising.

    Also received an email about a phone interview for another social media related role.

    And the volunteer gig now has me managing Twitter as well. This should help, since even though G+ is impressive, most places don’t use it and so the question immediately becomes: “do you have any other experience? (i.e. what can you do for us)?”

    Slightly unrelated, it’s been two years since my childhood friend passed away, which was what originally spurned this desire to go into my field.

  15. TotesMaGoats*

    My second level boss (Asst VP) resigned to stay at home with her kid last week. Totally cool with that. She was doing like 4 hours round trips every day. Sucked for her. Anyway. There are some other AVP positions coming open under our VP (not my boss’s position necessarily) and she told me that she’d talked me up to our VP for one of the positions. It’s 99% business development type of job. Strategic partnerships type of work. Here’s the thing: while I’m good at it, I absolutely hate doing it. It takes me even further from working with students. But she’s told me to apply and throw my hat it and talked me up.

    Knowing that I have zero desire for this position, should I apply anyway? So that my VP is aware of my “ambitions”. There is a lot of chaos at my institution. Change is our word of the day…everyday. No one is really safe. I’m trying to get out but having an AVP position on my resume would probably help that but further pigeon hole me.


    1. YourCdnFriend*

      If you’d be miserable in the job, I wouldn’t apply. I would use it as an opportunity to have a discussion with your manager about what type of job you would want. That discussion is important because you don’t want people to assume you’re not interested in advancement. It’s helpful for them to know you’re just not interested in this particular advancement.

    2. Jazzy Red*

      Would you be willing to take that job for one year, just to have it on your resume? If you can stick it out that long, I think it might be a very good idea to help you move into something you will like better. Do some long term strategizing and see if the potential benefits outweigh the short term job.

      1. TotesMaGoats*

        I’m honestly not sure. It’s scary because it takes me away from students and scary because the ROI would be so very high. This is a new position but older versions of it have existed and NO ONE has succeeded. Part of that is because of our institution and partly the people, I think.

    3. Joey*

      Just because you throw your hat it doesn’t mean you have to accept it. Use it as an opportunity to confirm your disinterest. If you decline it’s perfectly honorable to let them know you’d prefer a vp role that was closer to kids.

      1. TotesMaGoats*

        The thing with the culture here is that type of behavior would not go over well. It would be one thing if I was rejected but another entirely if I turned it down. Can we say toxic?

  16. Megan*

    What do you do when asked to be a reference for a friend, for a position that you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy?

    1. A.*

      Tell your friend your honest opinion and what you know about the position. If my friend knew a position or organization would be a nightmare, I’d really want my friend to tell me.

      1. A Jane*

        Agreed. The honesty is really critical here. If you can, also identify some areas where you know where you have bias.

        I also found some glassdoor reviews and provided context on what they meant. That might help the situation

    2. Colette*

      Are you able to be a reference for a friend (i.e. have you worked together)? If so, you give an honest reference. It’s not up to you to decide whether this job is right for her (or anyone). She might have different preferences about what she wants in a job.

    3. Eric*

      I mean, does the friend want the job? I’m not sure how it’s relevant that you think it’s a terrible position. You can always tell her that, but I wouldn’t let you opinion of the job color your reference.

      1. Megan*

        Said friend is really just looking for A job. She doesn’t have any industry experience, though the posting only asks for a high school diploma.

        1. Eric*

          Yeah, so I think in this case you say “I’m happy to act as a reference for you, but I just want to let you know that this job is terrible because Company makes you murder puppies and Position is the Chief Puppy Killer, Machete Division.”

      2. Jessica*

        I don’t know. I think there can be job situations (and bosses) that are objectively bad. I would consider it my duty as a friend to tip them off about it.

    4. B*

      Let them know that you think it may not be the best position. Give the negatives and then, if there are, any positives. But if your friend still wants to pursue it then at least you know you gave them a warning.

    5. fposte*

      Would you recommend your friend’s work generally? Then tell your friend you think the job is a soul-killing mistake, but you’ll always tell people she’s great because she is and you’ll do it this time as well.

    6. HAnon*

      I agree with being honest about the position, but if your friend is in desperate need of work, presenting it as the absolute worst thing ever would really suck if she still has to take the position to make rent. I may be making an assumption here…but I’d be very factual about the position when you tell her about it. “So and So is a micromanager and people in the role are often expected to work copious hours of overtime and holidays”…so you’re setting expectations correctly, and she can infer the rest and decide if she’s willing to put up with it.

  17. B*

    Basic: How do you stay motivated at work when you don’t want to be there?

    Long: I was recently transferred to a new position and am miserable. It is nothing that I want to be doing and certainly nothing I want to have a future in. In addition, I am doing the work of two people. I try to find something about each part to enjoy but it ends up making me more and more frustrated. It does not help that people in the company are also unhappy so it starts a round robin of complaining. I have tried to stop complaining, come and do my work then leave, but it is becoming more and more difficult. I go home and do other things including looking for a new position but so far nothing. Any help or thoughts? Or am I doing what needs to be done and just need to suck it up?

    1. Adam*

      As someone in the same situation, my advice is stay as busy as you can at work which it sounds like you are. I find that even if I have zero interest in the work or it frustrates me that not having time to sit and twiddle my thumbs goes a long way to make it tolerable. The busier I am the less time I have to think about how I would rather not be there.

      Works for me but it may not work for you, in which case I advocate for work hard/play hard, redouble your efforts to find a better job, reassure yourself that you will not be stuck here until the end of time, and find allies at work where you can at least show private camaraderie around how much it sucks there. Having friends in any situation makes it better than having to shuffle through it alone.

      1. Ali*

        I am in a similar spot but with troubles on a recent performance review. *Yikes!* Luckily, I’m not on a PIP or anything, so I just try to focus on improving my work and make sure my manager knows how I’m going about correcting my mistakes. I don’t give him a play-by-play every day (not really our culture to do so), but I found that talking to him last week just to be like “I know I didn’t do well on X in my last review, but here’s what I’m doing to change that” earned me his appreciation. I just try to focus on the things that will earn me a positive reference when I leave…do well on reviews, improve trouble spots and get along with everyone on the team. That and I remind myself that hopefully, my longevity at my job (4.5 years now) will pay off.

      2. AnonAnalyst*

        This is all great advice.

        B, I totally feel for you as this happened to me in my last job due to a reorg. It was horrible. I’d had jobs I merely disliked in the past, but I didn’t realize how draining and soul-crushing it was (for me anyway) to have a job that I really hated. Being busy at work did help the days go faster. Also, I was pretty visible to clients and partner organizations in my role, so, similar to what Joey suggested, I thought of it as an opportunity to expand my professional network/earn an awesome reputation by doing a great job for all of them, which was motivating.

        Keep looking, and know that you WILL find something else. I also second the recommendation to seek out a couple of allies at work to commiserate with. I also recommend getting involved in an activity outside of work, preferably one that has regular events every week. It was really helpful for me to have specific things outside of work to look forward to whenever I was having a really frustrating day.

        1. rogue33*

          I’m in a similar spot! I was laid off in Feb due to a reorg, but they kept me around through the transition. Then I was transferred to another dept. but the dept. head left and their replacement had nothing for me to do. I literally sat at my desk for 6 months job hunting and Internet surfing. Was moved back into my original dept. recently but still don’t have nearly enough to keep me busy. That’s the worst thing…NOT being busy. Gives me time to wonder why I spend my days sitting at this desk wasting my life.

          Sometimes I think employers push us into untenable situations to get us to quit, because they don’t or can’t get rid of us. Unfortunately, you only have the two choices, if you need the job and can’t up and quit (I sure can’t). Do LOOK, LOOK LOOK for another job as often as you can. Really devote some time to it because theoretically finding a job is a full-time job in itself. And see if there’s any way to get your supervisor to alleviate your workload.

          Ugh. Good luck, all.

        2. B*

          Yup, reorg here and I wish I could talk to my boss but that will be an absolute non-starter. The draining and soul-crushing are the exact words I was trying to find. I have had those jobs I disliked or that were just awful but those it was easier to dismiss. This is to a whole other level I never knew actually existed. I will remember that this is for the future and for my resume.

          I do stuff outside of work but it is hard to keep going during the day. One can only hope I’ll find something because this is just hard. :(

    2. Yet Another Allison*

      My 2 cents, focus on making sure you are in a position to successfully navigate an exit when the time comes. In other words, you want to make sure you have good references, networking opportunities, and no regrets. There may be no other opportunities this minute, but things can change quickly when they do change. If you see this day-to-day as actually having a future impact then it feels like it matters more.

      And keep trying to find one project to own. While you are working on that then you will have spurts of motivation.

    3. Joey*

      Remember that you’re not working hard for that employer. You’re working hard to have more accomplishments on your résume and in an interview.

    4. GOG11*

      Are you doing the things you were hired in to do and have realized you don’t like them or were you hired to do X and are instead stuck with Y? If it’s the latter, perhaps you could talk to your boss about it. (This AAM post comes to mind

      If you’re unable to handle all that you’re tasked with, why not talk to your boss about this, too? Have a conversation about your boss’s expectations for you and about prioritizing your work.

      If neither of those things are doable and you need to simply make it through until you find something else, maybe you should accept that it’s simply a poor fit and make peace with that fact? If you’re focusing on how the position doesn’t meet your expectations, but still expecting it to, you can’t really move past that. You should certainly pay attention to the way you choose to perceive things as this definitely affects your reaction to those things, but perhaps accepting it for what it is will give you some closure.

      Lastly, I used to work in Social Services (which can be really draining) and a colleague would talk about the concept of a “stroke bank.” Basically, we are built up or refueled by certain things and drained by others. And if our reserves are running low and you can’t control the thing that’s draining you, you can try to offset this by doing things which support and renew you. Taking care of yourself outside of work may help you feel more balanced and less susceptible to joining in with your coworkers when they’re complaining.

      Good luck!

    5. B*

      Thank you all. I really appreciate this advice because every day I go home (heck sometimes in the bathroom) and just cry with frustration at what has become and what I have become here.

  18. Confuzzled*

    I had a huge debate with my classmates (majority of them are in their late 30s and up) regarding resume paper. I had expressed to them I didn’t think it was worth the money because most applications are electronic, and once the interview rolls around it would be how well you interview that gets the job, not the type of paper you used that impresses anyone (unless it’s a paper company lol). They called me penny wise and dollar foolish and said I was doing myself a disservice. Is this sort of thing still in demand, either in certain fields, or amongst more traditional people? I was doubting myself for a second.

    1. Colette*

      I can’t remember the last time I printed a resume, other than for an interview.

      The only time I could see this being useful is if you’re mailing or dropping off resumes, and that’s not the norm in most fields. You even apply online for fast food jobs at a lot of places.

      1. Confuzzled*

        This is exactly what I was thinking, but you know when someone is so adamant you question yourself? lol. I guess that works for some people still, but overall no one cares about that at this point.

        1. Observer*

          I generally don’t pay attention to the resume. Two exceptions – one was printed on an older printer, and the text just wasn’t crisp. It took me a while to realize why I felt that the resume was a touch sloppy. The other time was a major turn off – it was on the kind of paper you see at copiers where someone is pinching pennies – see through and flimsy. Maybe that’s what your co-workers are thinking of when you say “cheap paper”.

      2. Karowen*

        I have only ever printed my resumes for interviews, but (especially since I fell prey to my Career Center’s advice in college and invested in fancy resume paper) I print it on heavier paper. I doubt most managers care, but I don’t think there’s anyone who will be actively turned off by it.

        1. Karowen*

          Edit: Unless you use the ridiculous kind as AndersonDarling says! That’s crazy. Mine’s just crisp white linen card stock, not a particularly heavy #.

        2. MaryMary*

          Since I am still working through the same set of resume paper I bought in 1999, I also use my heavy paper when I do print a resume.

    2. AndersonDarling*

      If you had really crazy fancy paper, it may actually backfire. If someone handed me a resume on hand pressed, $5 a page paper, then I would wonder about their priorities.
      I don’t remember the last time I handed someone a resume. It would have to be 10 years ago. I always brought copies to interviews, but my interviewers were already prepared with a copy.

      1. Yet Another Allison*


        And most applications are online. So I should already have their resume by the time they hand it to me. So I’d wonder why they were handing it to me. Did they think I was too stupid to print out a copy?

        When I’ve interviewed, I’ve printed out a copy of my resume for reference (if the interviewer asks a question about something specific) and kept it in a pile with my prepared questions, but never needed to hand it over.

        1. Karowen*

          Eh, I think that’s a stretch. I always print extra copies of whatever I need to reference for any meeting I’m in. Someone is always unprepared, whether it’s because they’ve misplaced their copy, spilled something on it, didn’t remember to grab it off the printer, whatever.

          1. Yet Another Allison*

            Might be my place. I always bring a copy too, but the interviewers have always had it. And I’ve always had it when I’m interviewing people. It would be weird if someone handed me one when they came in to interview.

        2. soitgoes*

          I’ve been asked to bring a copy of my resume with me in the past, so it’s what I do now out of habit. I think it has to do with one person fielding the online applications and someone else doing the actual interviewing…or it’s a test to see how well you follow directions.

        3. Anx*

          The interviewers I’ve had that have printed out my resume to have in front of them during my interview are definitely in the minority.

          So I always bring them. I haven’t figured out the best way to bring them out; I worry passing them along will imply that they should have it in front of them. But I do think it would be helpful.

      2. Anonsie*

        Yep. I’ve always brought one, but they’ve always already had their own in hand and didn’t need it. Pre-electronic resumes being the norm I was still working in paper application based jobs that didn’t require resumes.

    3. Risa*

      Never once did the paper a resume was printed on influence my decision to hire someone or not. It’s much more important the resume properly communicate the person’s skills and qualifications for the job.

      1. Artemesia*

        I have been on hiring committees turned off by the paper e.g. weird speckled pink stuff or fake amber parchment with a scroll border etc etc — I think I would use a better quality of paper than xerox paper for the copies I take to the interview — but I doubt it would matter much so long as it was plain and didn’t have any whiff of my little pony about it.

    4. Observer*

      It depends on what you mean by “resume paper”. The ultra expensive, high touch stuff? Waste of money. But, don’t go to the other extreme and use the lightest, cheapest paper your printer can handle. Decent paper doesn’t have to be expensive. And do try to make sure you are using a reasonably good printer.

      1. Judy*

        Yes, we have a pack of fairly heavy weight “normal” printer paper that we load in for resumes and things like that at home. More like 24-28 lb.

        1. Observer*

          Yes, that’s the kind of stuff I mean. It’s not all that expensive, but it looks good – and if it winds up sitting in your folder for a while because you didn’t need it for the last 5 interviews it still looks fresh.

    5. Persephone Mulberry*

      I think that traditional resume paper is so outmoded that it would be borderline distracting. Personally, I print the hard copies that I bring to an interview (the only time you should ever use a paper copy, IMO) on 28-lb paper. It’s just a subtle step up from copy paper – enough to say “I care about the details” without it being a distraction.

    6. Mouse of Evil*

      I’m in my late 40s and I haven’t bought resume paper in at least 10 years. Yes, I remember the days of making sure the watermark was right-side up when it came out of the printer (or the TYPEWRITER), but those days have gone the way of double spaces at the end of a sentence and never wearing pants to an interview.

      I will say that I get in weird discussions about this with people my own age all the time. Usually they’re the same ones who insist that our 11th-grade English teacher was the ultimate authority in all things related to language, and that nothing has happened since 1983 that has had any impact on communication whatsoever. :-)

      1. Cautionary tail*

        I’m beyond my late 40s and I’ve never seen a resume from a typewriter. I’ve seen them from a print shop though.

        My first resume was done on a computer that only displayed 40 characters of text per line so that sort of broke every line in the middle. It was printed on a dot matrix printer with a slightly dry ink cartridge on tear edge paper. I still got the job.

    7. puddin*

      Oh dear…they are wrong wrong wrong. Its so frustrating to hear people not keep up with the times and then dispensing poor advice to boot. (Crossing fingers hoping I do not do the same thing.)

      I would make sure your ink is crisp – I like to take the printer out of draft mode for interview copies of the resume. And I use ‘bright white 98’ paper. But anything like linen or colored paper is truly a waste.

    8. Lizzy*

      I always have hard copies of my resume in the event my interviewer needs it. But I have always opted for basic white paper because I have watched too many interviewers scribble notes furiously on my resume and even spill food/coffee on it. Not worth the upgrade, IMO.

    9. Not So NewReader*

      These people need to read AAM.

      I guess I would ask them if they wanted to work for a company who refused to hire people that did not use spendy resume paper. What comes next? “Oh, your car isn’t spendy enough. You can’t work here.” No, thanks.

  19. Rebecca Too*

    Everyone in my work seems to be coming to me this week to vent about all the things that are wrong. I don’t mind listening to the occasional complaints, we all need to get it off our chests sometimes, but it would be nice to have one conversation that isn’t someone moaning at me about something neither of us can change.

    And some people are complaining about other people we work with, who are also coming to me to complain, usually about the first coworker, and it’s all so frustrating.

    1. AndersonDarling*

      Its a full moon week. And once the complaining starts, everyone feels like they can jump on board the whinny train. It will probably calm down again.

      1. cuppa*

        I would just like to say that, after this week, any doubts that crazy things happen during full moon week have been completely erased for me.

    2. Confuzzled*

      I had a boss like this, and she’d often divulge super personal information in her rants. It’s just a bad look for the culture to have whiny people, so if you can, either offer solutions to problems (so they know you aren’t just gonna listen to complaining, you’d like to help them constructively) or flat out say you don’t feel comfortable having this conversation about x, y, or z, or about person 1, 2 and 3.
      I got it a lot because I’m nice and easily approachable, but had to do the above to let people know the complaints, gossip or otherwise wouldn’t go too far with me.

    3. Jazzy Red*

      Nip those conversations in the bud. You might think that’s rude, but you have a right to not be everyone’s dumping ground for their trash. You can tell them that you’ve heard one too many complaints this week, and your brain is full and you can’t listen to another one. Try to change the subject, or just tell the person that you’ve got to get back to work. Tell the ones complaining about the coworkers that you don’t want to hear that. I can tell that you think you’re required to listen to all these downer convos, but you’re not. If you don’t stand up for yourself, everyone will be coming to you with every little complaint. Stop it now.

    4. soitgoes*

      I’m that person sometimes. I don’t have a lot of drama (work or personal) in my life, so people perceive me has being good at solving those problems. In reality I just don’t let things bother me. Take it as a compliment that people think you have problem-solving on lockdown.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      One thing that makes them go away each and every time: insist that they figure out a solution for their problems. It won’t take long, they will stop coming around.

      I used to listen to people. I got rewarded for that “oh you are such a good listener.”
      After a bit, I decided I was soooo played. People exhausted me with their epic problems that they had no intention of ever trying to solve or move away from. Put your foot down- ask them “Well what do you think is a good solution here?” Or “Do you think this is fixable?” If it is not fixable, then they can develop a plan to cope with the situation.

  20. Elkay*

    So as to not derail the question about retirement parties above. What’s the worst thing you’ve experienced at a retirement party? Mine was the retiree announcing to all his colleagues who’d got together to give him gifts and a send off that he’d never really enjoyed the job or working there. He’d been there for 12 years…

    1. louise*

      Not worst, but most memorable (and ironic?): nearly 8 years ago we held a retirement party for a beloved dentist I worked with. Then we held another one about 5 years ago. I’m no longer with that office, but he still is. :)

    2. Squirrel!*

      All I can say is, good for him. I’d love to be able to do that someday. Well, I’d love to not work a job I hate, but if I did have one, that would be the perfect send off to me, hehehe.

    3. Lizzy*

      This didn’t happen to me but to my dad: he had a colleague of 25 years tell him at the retirement party how much he hated my dad all those years. It was quite a shocker for my dad, considering he had helped the guy get promotions/raises and brokered the opportunity for his colleague’s son to get a job, right out of college, at a client’s firm.

  21. Gwen*

    I’m taking a continuing ed class through work that sounded really applicable and useful for my job…and it’s TERRIBLE. I don’t know how they can get away with claiming a class is for professionals in the field and then including middle school-level “insight.” I guess it’s something to put on my resume, but I’m really frustrated by it and feel bad that my work spent money on it (even though I know we’re going to end up with excess “professional development” budget at the end of the year).

    1. AndersonDarling*

      I once went to a really expensive convention and I felt terrible that it was a waste of money. They had lots of classes, but you couldn’t reserve spaces in the classes. There were cut throat lines to get in and a few people were shoved down…and these were executives and professionals!
      I came home with nothing gained.
      And it is so tough to pay for a class when you don’t know if it will be better than a youtube tutorial. The bar is much higher now-a-days.

  22. Renegade Rose*

    One of my coworkers is leaving for a new job in about a week. I would really like to move into her office space and am not sure when/how to present that to my boss. I currently occupy the office next to hers but I’m also next to the bathroom and her office was painted two years ago and looks better than my office. Besides the non-work related reasons, I am in charge of our office’s interns and her office has a table which could supply an extra working space for them. (Currently, the interns work down the hall from me and are away from the rest of the office. I’d like to bring them a little closer to the rest of us.) No one in the office has every changed offices before so I’m not sure how this request would be taken. Should I wait until after my coworker is gone to ask? Or should I ask now?

    1. Nerdling*

      I would focus your reasons for wanting to move directly on what will affect your work, and I would approach it now, before someone else beats you to it.

      1. TCO*

        Yes, focus on the intern part, not the part about her walls being nicer. Make the case that the larger space will give your interns a better experience and improve their contributions to the company.

      2. Jazzy Red*

        Exactly this.

        If you look around, you’ll see that the pushiest people get all the good stuff. You don’t have to be pushy, though, because you have valid reasons for wanting that office. You just don’t want to be too late in asking for it.

      3. Cautionary tail*

        I was faced with this situation once and handled it thusly. At 5PM on the day they left a friend of mine came in and we moved all her furniture out and my furniture in so I started the next morning in that office.


    2. The IT Manager*

      Ask now before anyone does. There’s no shame in this. And focus on the work reason for you – interns.

      The thing is this office will always be next to the bathrooms (although it can be repainted) so unless its left empty someone will be assigned to it so I would not focus on that part of the equation.

    3. Artemesia*

      I have successfully gotten the office I wanted several times. My approach has always been to focus on the functions I performed for the department and why I needed the type space I wanted to move to. If you meet with interns then having a table in your office is important; I would pitch it that way. ‘ I manage our interns and that really requires a space where I can conference with small groups of interns. Fred’s old office has that small table space and would be perfect for that; might I move into that space when he leaves?’

  23. Nerdling*

    They’ve turned promotions for my position into de facto competitive ones while swearing up one side and down the other that they’re merit-based. Yeah, sure, when exactly 33% of applicants are getting approved for promotion each time around, that’s definitely merit-based and not at all doctored somewhere along the line to fit the AD’s directive that no more than 1/3rd of those seeking promotion will get it at any given time.

    (Long-winded way of saying that, despite my boss and management chain feeling I’m ready to be promoted, my ten-page package with work samples that I had to send to a group of complete strangers was not in the top 33% of packages, and I’m not best pleased. No other role in this organization has to go through this much to get promoted outside of moving into a management position, and we’re still treated as lesser beings by many of the folks in other positions because we don’t hunger for the prestige of their roles. *rolls eyes*)

    1. AndersonDarling*

      That sounds like a terrible way to do promotions. If you don’t get the promotion, you can just take that package and submit it to your competitors for a job there. It’s like they are encouraging you to make an interview portfolio.

      1. Nerdling*

        I know you’ll probably never see this, since I got so busy at work last week I never made it back after lunch, but… federal job. There aren’t a lot of positions like this just lying around, either, and I’ve seen what it’s like to do this at the state and local level. Let’s just say that the pay is nowhere near comparable, and neither is the way people in this sort of job are treated by the people around them. That’s why they can get away with treating us like crap over these things; they know that we aren’t really in it for the money and don’t have a lot of other options if we want to stay in this career.

    2. Mister Pickle*

      “ten-page package with work samples that I had to send to a group of complete strangers”

      I feel for you. My last promotion was an unbelievable amount of work: there were two rounds, if you passed the first round you then had to give a presentation and a personal interview, plus submit an ‘enhanced’ package along with letters of recommendation. It took almost a year and came with a 3% raise. Woo-hoo.

  24. Obajiwa*

    Question regarding job hopping….

    I haven’t been able to find work in my field and am considering taking a retail job to make ends meet while I keep looking for something else. I’m not planning to put it on my resume, as it won’t be applicable to future jobs, but I’m sure it would come up in an interview or background check. Would that look like job hopping or like I am unreliable to a future employer if I were willing to leave the retail job after only a short time? Or is it different because it’s retail?

    1. Adam*

      I’m assuming your desired field of employment has nothing to do with retail, right? Most hiring managers realize that and know retail jobs are largely transitional for a good percentage of the people who take them. Bills need to be paid, and only the jerkiest and utterly non-sensical of hiring manager will ding you for taking a job just to pay said bills while looking for something better. I’d be surprised if it ever came up really.

      1. Obajiwa*

        Ok. That’s good to know. I’m concerned about it because my job history has all been short term. Not because I am a job hopper, but because I haven’t actually ever had a permanent full time position. They have all been full time temporary or part time permanent. I have that written on my resume, but I don’t think it looks great for me and I don’t want to add to it.

        1. Adam*

          If it makes mention that positions were part-time or temp I doubt anyone will bat an eye. And I’m guessing you’re still fairly new (only a few years in at most) to the post-college working world so I think many hiring managers aren’t expecting you to have a pristine job history at this point, assuming you’re applying for jobs appropriate to your career level.

          1. Obajiwa*

            Unfortunately, my job history isn’t so straight forward. I graduated in 2006, took a 1 year job to get experience because I’m in a very niche field. Then went to grad school and worked a part time job that was sort of in my field while I was there. Half way through my masters I had to leave due to medical issues and moved home with my parents. When I got better I got a job in my field that was part time and did that for a year and a half. I needed up leaving that for a variety of reasons (reduced hours, not seeing eye to eye with my boss, I was pregnant and my husband had cancer).

            I was then home for 2 1/2 years with my husband as he battled two toes of stage IV cancer and taking care of our new baby. Eventually I got another temp job to help pay the bills that was not in my field and did that for a year. I’ve now been out of work for 6 months and out of my field for more than 3 years.

            What started out as a promising career now looks like a lackluster and spotty background. Of course, I can’t say all this to employers. I’m just not sure how to recover from this.

            1. Adam*

              Yeah, that’s rough. I’m not sure how you would approach this but I’m sure some other commentors would have great ideas. Good luck!

        2. Anx*

          This is very similar to what I’m dealing with.

          I have an offer to continue my job next semester. I plan on doing that and taking some courses (I’m also considering applying to jobs and discontinuing school in January, but I’d like to take these few extra classes). When I graduate in May I’m torn between hitting the job search hard or staying in that part-time job so I can hit that year-mark. But then I miss the momentum of post-internship hiring.

          I know it’s more normal for students to jump around, but I graduated with a BS in ’08 and haven’t found long-term employment since. My only long-term position only lasted 3 years, was a student job, and ended in ’08.

    2. Joey*

      Background checks rarely include finding out about jobs that you don’t list. But its perfectly okay to mention in an interview that you’re recently took a retail job to make ends meet (actually I think that reflects well) but not list it on your resume.

      1. Yet Another Allison*

        Depend on the background check. Ones for the government require listing everything, but they are not factored into the hiring process (other than did you pass or not).

      2. AndersonDarling*

        I agree that it looks good. Some people feel that retail/hospitality jobs are beneath them. But I think that it shows that you will get the job done and be resourceful.
        And I know many people who have a part time retail job so they can take advantage of employee discounts. They work one or two evenings a week and get a wardrobe full of great clothes or a house of fashionable decor.

    3. Obajiwa*

      Does it make a difference if I am in education/training and the retail role has a education/training component? It could be considered additional experience. If I did list it for that reason, would that change how it’s perceived?

      1. AndersonDarling*

        It would depend how obvious the title and company indicate the education relationship. If you have enough background to fill your resume, I would just leave it off, but I would still list it in your application.

    4. Craeg an Tuire*

      Allison’s mentioned before that “job-hopping” is much more acceptable in retail and food service anyway. And I’d hope that any sane employer would understand that taking an unrelated job to keep from living under a bridge doesn’t make you a flight risk for a job in your field.

    5. BRR*

      I saw someone use something along the lines of, “I didn’t feel like it strengthen my candidacy for this position so I did not want to waste space on my resume.” It’s not like you’re lying about working retail, you’re just not putting it on your resume.

    6. Obajiwa*

      Welp. I just had an interview with a retail company this afternoon and already received a rejection notice. Ugh! I thought it went really well too. I was super prepared and had well thought out answers. Not that it was perfect, but overall it was very good. They even gave me positive feedback that I had good answers and good questions. I guess I just didn’t fit what they were looking for.

      I still have one I am waiting to hear about. But it just feels lousy being rejected for a retail job.

      1. Kyrielle*

        Or they had one position and five people who were really good.

        More than once, we’ve had to hire someone, and the general sentiment was, “But I wanted to hire two (or three) of them!”

  25. Personalities & Professions...*

    Okay, so I’ve seen this type of question asked on other blogs, but I wanted to ask here.

    Curious to know how people’s Myers-Briggs and/or DiSC profiles align with their job title and their overall job satisfaction (on a scale of 1-10; with 10 being love it! and 1 being absolutely hate it!). Just like to collect anecdata on how well people feel their personality and profession are aligned…

    Here’s mine:
    INTJ, C (DiSC), white collar investigations, 4

    I think investigations naturally suits my inquisitive/research-inclined personality but issues at my firm have caused some dissatisfaction.

    1. Anon for this*

      INTJ and my job is comprised of tasks I love but way too much interaction with people I am quickly growing to hate. Maybe just a slump – but can’t rate satisfaction since it would be in the negative double digits at the moment.

      I’d be happier if they just let me alone to do what I’m good at if people could manage to be a little less needy and at least attempt competence that would be great.

    2. IndieGir*

      INTJ, business development/analytical chief cook and bottle washer, 8.

      My role is kind of a mish-mash of stuff at this point, and I don’t want to get too explicit b/c it’s a small niche in a large industry. Suffice it to say, the main part of my job is working on projects that involve analyzing numbers and presenting them in a manner that others can understand. I also have picked up a wide variety of other strategic analytical initiatives. I love what I do 80% of the time, and the 20% I hate is all corporate politics.

      1. SG11*

        I would so LOVE to analyze numbers and present them in such a way that other people can engage meaningfully with the figures. I’m sorry the other 20% is difficult to deal with :/

    3. Adam*

      My Myers-Briggs is INFJ – The Protector
      According to my profile I’m the most rare of the 16 personality types (supposedly only about 1% of the population fits this category). My job at the moment is customer service based which I desperately want to get out of.
      But my profile states I genuinely care for others and since my natural role in any work place is to try and make life easier for my co-workers somehow while still maintaining a firm sense of independence it seems to fit.

      1. IndieGir*

        I could see how customer service could be hard for an INFJ, because you are trying to make the world perfect and fair and take care of those on your team, and in customer service everyone invariable has to deal with a pile of unjust crap from time to time.

        My brother is an INFJ, which is the rarest type for men, and I’m an INTJ, which is the rarest type for women. This may explain why neither of us have much luck getting dates . . .

        1. Adam*

          And now I totally want to update my profile to include “An INFJ, the rarest of all men. Impress your friends ladies!”

        2. Yet Another Allison*

          That’s funny. I’m an INTJ woman and have been married for 12 years. One of the things I frequently say to my husband is how glad I am to be with him because everyone else is just too annoying or boring to possibly be with. I hope to never have to date again! I’m not sure of his personality type, but he expresses the same sentiment in return. We are such romantics.

          1. Helena*

            Yes! INTJ here and I’ve had this conversation word for word. “Lucky I found you early, because I don’t think I could be bothered!”

          2. NZ Muse*

            LOL, I hear ya! (ISFJ married to, I think an ENTP – we are polar opposites). The mere prospect of having to dive into the dating world if we ever split…. nope.

          3. Brenda*

            I’m INTJ too and so is my husband. And this is definitely how I feel about him and about dating :)

    4. HigherEd Admin*

      I love this! I’m an INFJ, which according to the first site that came up in my Google results means:

      “INFJs place great importance on havings things orderly and systematic in their outer world. In the workplace, the INFJ usually shows up in areas where they can be creative and somewhat independent. INFJs can also be found in service-oriented professions. They are not good at dealing with minutia or very detailed tasks.”

      I’m an event planner for a college. I prefer a hands-off approach from my manager. So I guess this profile is fairly accurate, aside from that last sentence about minutia and details: those can sometimes be my favorite things!

    5. wonkette*

      I’m an ISTJ and work in health policy law at a nonprofit. I think my job really suits my personality, which really focuses on the proper ways of doing things, efficiency, etc.

    6. Yet Another Allison*

      INTJ, D (DISC), Assistant Program Manager, 8

      I prefer being in positions of responsibility. It is just more comfortable. I was a project manager (low level technical manager) for a total of eight years and that was great, but now that I crossed that threshold into program management I am not quite so involved with every single tactical decision, so my introvert side enjoys more time alone (and my teeny tiny private office!!!). My only dissatisfaction is that the pace of things is slower in my new position. Hopefully it will pick up as I become more established in this role. It’s only been 5 months.

    7. Kimberlee, Esq.*

      I will totally answer this later today, but can someone post a link to their favorite Myers-Briggs test? I think I’ve changed “alignments,” so to speak, so I need a refresher, but the last couple I’ve looked at haven’t been any good.

        1. Lo*

          that’s one that you have to pay for, I believe. There are absolutely free ones online–google usually turns up quite a few. If you can’t find a suitable one, I may be able to find the one I used.

        2. Headachey*

          Would not recommend this one – you have to purchase a password for $5.00 to access the test.

      1. HeyNonnyNonny*

        I also recommend looking up the ‘which Disney princess is your personality type’ after.

        Elsa, FTW

    8. Sheep*

      INFJ, grants management, 4

      It’s not what I want to do, but it’s in the right field… Dysfunctional organisation.

    9. Sabrina*

      INTP, Data Entry, 3 – And I say 3 instead of 1 because I don’t have to share a desk, my boss isn’t a psycho, and I have a schedule I like.

    10. GOG11*

      I’m an INTJ and I work as an Admin Assistant. My absolute favorite part of my job is figuring out the best/most efficient way to get things done when I get a new work assignment. The rest of the time, I’m pretty bored by what I do. I LOVE analyzing things and solving problems and taking convoluted processes and complex information and making it/them accessible to others! I don’t get challenged very often by my work unfortunately. I’d say a 5ish?

      I am surprised to see so many INTJs! I had read that they’re fairly rare.

      1. Yet Another Allison*

        I think they are relatively rare for women. Not sure they are rare overall. (?)

        And this “analyzing things and solving problems and taking convoluted processes and complex information and making it/them accessible to others” is so recognizable. That’s me in a nutshell and I’m an INTJ. I’m just always working things out. Why I studied math. :)

        1. IndieGir*

          I think they are rare overall, and rare for women — the total is 2.1% overall total, and .8% for women.

          But I think the readers this blog skew heavily towards the analytical and introverted types, who are looking for good managerial/interpersonal advice. I think the managers in my office who are extroverts don’t feel they need the help with such things (and unfortunately, not all of them are correct in that!)

        2. SG11*

          I studied English, but I minored in applied writing. The projects required by my minor allowed me to analyze existing process documents and implement changes to make them better and to develop entirely new processes/guides to make complicated things clear and straight forward.

          I am going to begin taking some information systems classes, though, which I think will challenge me and provide an outlet for my hyper-analytical brain. I transpose numbers so I was never very good at math, though I greatly enjoyed the concepts side of it.

          I looked at your earlier response and saw that you work in a position with less direct interaction than you had previously. I am in a similar situation and I’ve found that I really do enjoy that my job allows me to be more project than people focused. It’s where I feel “in the zone,” so to speak.

          1. SG11*

            I hadn’t realized this was a different name than my other post! I have two computers and must have accidentally registered twice! SG11 = GOG11

      2. A Non*

        I’m also amused by the number of INTJs and neighboring types showing up. (I’m one as well.) Apparently we really like Meyers-Briggs and discussing things on the internet.

        1. Anonsie*

          You guys probably all like both quantifying things that are difficult to measure (“personalities and feelings? pssssh what are those?” –INTJs everywhere) and finding answers/information, so it definitely follows you’d end up here.

            1. A Non*

              Exactly! It’s the perfect overlap of the analytical INTJ focus and the abstract-people INFJ focus.

        2. Cautionary tail*

          Don’t judge me, I’m an INTJ too.

          INTJ, Engineer, 4.

          The 4 is from a culture of the beatings will continue even if morale improves.

        3. catsAreCool*

          I’m an INTJ and a woman.

          I wonder if iNtuitive types are more likely to take the MBTI.

          Any INxx type is usually rare.

          I like my job. I do software development. I like feeling like I’m improving things.

      3. Anon for this*

        Rare for men and women – the most rare type for women, IIRC.

        Not a surprise there would be a higher concentration online, though – especially in a forum which values logic and direct communication. Online is a great way to interact because we can control the amount and quality of the interaction, but as quality of discourse isn’t any more common online than it is irl if we find a forum where people are smart, the culture is civil, and nonsense is not condoned we tend to congregate. Why leave when we know what else is out there? :)

    11. Sara S.*

      I’m a textbook INFP, and I’m an Event/Conference Manager. It makes ZERO sense, but somehow works! It appeals to both the logical and creative sides of my brain and I enjoy service-oriented positions. Also, my boss is extremely extroverted, and we make a pretty good team, since we kind of balance each other out.

      1. wonkette*

        Have you read Susan Cain’s book on introversion? She talks about the varying degrees of introversion and how people can be “on” when they have to, but feel like they need to get away from people to recharge when their jobs are done. I always think of rock stars who are charismatic on stage but very subdued in real life.

      2. Anx*

        I’m an INFP and I loved doing event management. I think I loved it so much because I could participate in huge social events with a defined role, keep to myself once in a while, and I could do a lot of the work to make something happen for other people.

      3. AdminAnon*

        Oh my gosh, that is EXACTLY how I feel about my position (executive assistant). A lot of my position is obviously logical and structured, but I get to dabble in creative things (communications projects, Board committee work, planning and executing our annual giving campaign, etc). It’s a perfect balance. Also, service-oriented positions are the best. I’m a classic people-pleaser, which is not always good, but it works out really well for our organization. I spend a lot of time making other people very happy and it’s the best feeling ever.

        1. sophiabrooks*

          I am an INFP Admin Assistant and I love it for all the same reasons. Perfect balance and I have a great boss, which is also very important.

    12. Anonsie*

      Last time I did the Myers-Briggs I was an ESFJ which they call “The Provider” and I guess I get a chuckle out of that. Probably fits my work to an 8.

      There’s a big gap though in that ESFJs are apparently supposed to be much more moralistic in very black/white terms and I’m very very much the opposite of that. I don’t think things are all simple terms of Right or Wrong and I don’t believe in evil. BUT I am someone who always plays by the rules, always. I’m in a somewhat regulatory role so it makes sense overall I guess.

      1. Becca*

        Fellow ESFJ here!

        I work in Marketing, more specifically graphic and web design. I love my job….but mainly because of my boss/company/coworkers!

        I agree with you. In my role, I have very clear set expectations of how I need to design things to “Brand”. I love that. I’d much prefer to stick to the rules. In my last job, my boss wanted me to spam out emails and I felt very uncomfortable with that due to it being against the law.

    13. Gwen*

      INFJ, copywriter, 8. Someone else mentioned creativity & independence, both of which are a big part of my job and why I enjoy it!

      1. HeyNonnyNonny*

        INFJ, writer/editor, 8

        Also the creativity and independence, but I’m big on the rules of grammar and making things right!

    14. ProductiveDyslexic*

      INTJ, Freelance Science Editor, 6

      The parts of my job that suit my personality best are that I get to use my science knowledge, and that I have to be precise.

      However, there isn’t much as much variety as I’d like.

    15. SG11*

      I’d never heard of DiSC before…I took an assessment and scored very strongly in three areas so it listed me as S/CD…? Could anyone let me know where they’ve taken/how they’ve accessed the test? The other two who’ve answered only had one letter so I’m wondering if this test wasn’t a very accurate one?

      1. Anon for this*

        I did DISC at work, as part of paid training. It was intended to help sales people connect with their clients.

        I was an S-C. The field I’d really like to get into arguably requires more “I” traits (interpersonal), and sometimes I wonder if my difficulty landing that dream job is because I just don’t have the right personality type. Who knows, though.

        1. SG11*

          Thank you for your response. I couldn’t find enough information on the site I did find to do much research, but it seems interesting. Do you think learning about your results helped you do your job at the time?

          1. Anon for this*

            I think DISC training can be good for sales, since it helps you understand your customers. For example, some clients want a relationship with their rep, others want a lot of details about the product, etc. DISC teaches you to recognize and respect personality types. Not just clients — it helps you understand your coworkers better, too, and why their work styles may differ from your own.

      2. Personalities & Professions...*

        I also did the DiSC assessment through work as training. I scored solidly in the “C” section – like smack dab in the middle – making me a strong C but others had overlapping scores so they could be a C/D or a C/S or S/I, etc.

      3. NZ Muse*

        I am an SC – right on the border between the two. We did an online quiz at work and then they compiled our results into a report for each person. I think we had 1/2 people who had shades through into a 3rd area like you.

    16. Virgo*

      ENTP (The Visionary), publishing production, 6-7. My job is okay, I don’t mind it. It’s not really suited for an ENTP but it fits with what I want to do. It’s a lot of boring, repetitive work in front of a computer for 8 hours which I don’t mind but ENTP would hate. But I really like the environment of the office. It’s also my first real professional job, so I have opportunities to go from here.

      1. CoffeeLover*

        Fellow ENTP here :). Management Consulting. Haven’t started yet, but it seems like a pretty good fit. As a side note, one site online listed historical and fictional ENTPs… one of them was the Joker from Batman, which doesn’t bode well for us :P.

    17. Lo*

      This is SO INTERESTING! Thank you so much for asking this question. I’m obsessing over all the answers–it is so neat to see how people see themselves, their jobs, personalities, etc..

    18. Felicia*

      INFJ or INTJ depending on the day (may F and T are basically 50/50), Marketing coordinator for a tiny non profit. 8.

      1. JMegan*

        That’s pretty much me as well, hovering between INFJ and INTJ. I’m in information management, which is another version of “analyzing things and solving problems and taking convoluted processes and complex information and making it/them accessible to others.”

        Job satisfaction – also 8. It’s a good fit.

        1. Felicia*

          JMegan, although we have different jobs the way you described your job is exactly how I would describe my job, especially on my best days.

        2. TF*

          Me three! Been feeling very INTJ at work but I feel note like an INFJ at home; marketing/communications at a nonprofit.

      2. Monodon monoceros*

        Same here, my F and T are only 1% different according to the online test I just did. Science (biology) Administrator (basically scientist who now does a lot of herding cats who are scientists), normally 8 on satisfaction but it’s been a tough week, so down to 6.5 I’d say. Hopefully I can shake this off and get back to 8 again :/

        1. Monodon monoceros*

          While writing this comment I was just thinking that maybe part of the toughness was that I just had to spend 4 days talking to a bunch of people for 10 hrs a day (not fun for introvert). Also had to have lots of discussions where people said X, I wrote it down, and then they act like they have no freaking idea why I have X up there. I’m not making sh*t up, people, you just said it yesterday, that’s why it’s there for f’s sake!

          Ugh, must go have a glass of wine and enjoy my weekend alone now that I’m done with this week!

      3. Jamie*

        This is so interesting. I know people who think it’s malarkey because it’s puts everyone into one of 16 boxes, but the bigger picture is it doesn’t since each sector is a continuum and there are infinite variations of where we fall.

        I’m always strongly I over E (last time 89%, and Judging over Perception (always at 100%).

        The N vs S is the closest with me. Today 25% N – sometimes more, closest was 5% N. T over F is 75% today – sometimes a little closer but always > 60% T.

        And no, not taking it daily like a vitamin! A while back I was curious and took it in different moods to see if it would change. and the scale changed – but the big picture didn’t.

        What I find interesting is we’re instructed to answer as we are most of the time, our typical nature…but if I went through an answered only as it applies to my inclinations with my family it would be very different. And now I’m curious and am waiting on stuff to compile so I’ll do that now…

        So regular, overall me is I (89%) N (25%) T (75%) J (100%) but mom me, when I answered the relevant questions for how I am with the kids only*…I (56%) N (50%) F (38%) J (78%).

        I’ve always known that when it comes to my kids I’m one of you feeling people…and less judgey although clearly still wicked judgey.

        *questions like “You willingly involve yourself in matters
        which engage your sympathies” or “You are strongly touched by stories about people’s troubles.” Absolutely radically different between how I am with the kids or literally everyone else ever.

        It has been a long and horrible week and this was an amusing distraction.

        1. catsAreCool*

          One of the things I really like about the MBTI is the way it helps explain differences in a way that doesn’t make anyone good or bad.

    19. SG11*

      Another really good (IMO) personality test is the Enneagram. It classifies you based on what motivates you – your basic fears and values.

      I’m a six and I fear being without support and guidance and I desire/value security and support. I don’t enjoy the content of my job particularly, but I do enjoy the nature of it – that there are systems in place for nearly everything, that I have job security, that there are others I can look to for assistance if I need it. I did freelance work for a while and I felt so overwhelmed at times by being so alone in everything I did.

      (The test I took a few years ago is at this link….the instructions are up top, just scroll down to access the questions

      1. Jamie*

        This was fun – hadn’t seen it before. I’m a 1 – just like…

        Examples: Confucius, Plato, Joan of Arc, Pope John Paul II, “Mr. Spock,” among others.

        How do they know me so well? :) Anyone who knows me thinks Joan of Arc…you know if she were selfish and cranky and just wanted people to stfu so she could go home!

        All kidding aside though – every interesting and I am particularly emotional this week in an OOC way, so I think that skewed me. How do you find what your wing is? Am I missing it on the page?

        1. SG11*

          I am not sure if the “how do they know me so well?” portion is included in the kidding, but reading the chapter one sixes in the “Wisdom of the Enneagram” book (forgive the IMO hokey title) made me want to ask it to kindly give me back my brain.

          A wing is one of the types on either side of you – so for a 1, that’d be a nine (the peacemaker) or a two (the helper). You could go read the other type descriptions for those two and see which makes more sense for you. I believe it’s covered in the book I mentioned specifically. I am not finding it on the site now and I don’t know that I ever found it there.

      2. arjumand*

        I did that years ago, at a staff seminar (I teach high schoolers), and I was one of the two Type Fours in the room, which was, um, interesting, to say the least.

        There I was, in a room full of helpful Twos, some Fives, one 8, and I was the only drama queen (the other one was not teaching staff).

        It taught me a lot about myself – the one important lesson I learned was why I felt so personally offended by students who’d chosen my lesson to veg out, and the problem was with me, not them! That is, they had lives, and off days, and other lessons, and couldn’t be ON all the time. I’m much more laid back about that sort of situation nowadays.

    20. Darth Admin*

      I’ll play.

      ENTP, nonprofit program management, 7

      My job is varied and I get to interact with a lot of different types of people, which I like. I have to manage staff too though, which can make me pretty impatient because a lot of the issues seem to come down to people not talking to one another honestly.

    21. Hillary*

      I get either INTJ or ENTJ depending on the day. I’m a financial analyst, but I support the business. I get to dabble in operations and negotiations, plus play with numbers. Job satisfaction is somewhere between a 6 and 9, depending on the day. Today’s a 6 because it’s cold and rainy and I have to do a lot of the last favorite part of my job. I’m 90% done after a day and a half of work, it’ll be done by the time I leave today. Tuesday and Wednesday will probably be 9s, given what’s on my calendar.

    22. AdminAnon*

      INFP, Executive Assistant to the CEO and COO of a national non-profit, 8 (though today it’s more like a 2.5…but in general I love my job). I originally applied for a different position and was offered this one instead–I HATED it when I started, but my bosses are wonderful and we work together really well, so the position has morphed into one that really focuses on my strengths and I’ve been able to try all sorts of new things. It’s actually at the point now where I am being considered for a promotion that I’m not entirely certain I want. If I do end up changing positions, I will miss certain aspects of this one like crazy.

    23. Helena*

      INTJ, Records Management. Some planning, organisation, data searching and Making Systems Better :)

    24. Marcy*

      ISTP, niche area of finance, 10
      Strangely enough, I’ve always hated math but ended up in a field where I do it all day. I love my job, even though it is incredibly stressful due to not having enough staff so the hours are really long. If I didn’t like the work, it would be a nightmare job but because I love it, it makes the long hours and stressful conditions worth it.

    25. OfficePrincess*

      INTJ, Office Supervisor in logistics/transportation, about a 7

      For the most part I’m dealing with the same people every day and 90% of my communication is with the same 10-12 people which helps a lot. The supervising part is tolerable but not ideal (why can’t people just get it already?) but I do enjoy the figuring out what to do, tracking back problems, solving them, and making adjustments on the fly (just don’t tell my boss!) Every time I figure out a way to track or forecast something new I get giddy.

    26. Mister Pickle*

      I usually score as INTJ or INTP, neither of which is exactly a surprise. I’ve been a software geek for 41 years – it’s not a bad fit, although I find myself lately wondering about doing something different, something more creative / musical / artistic. People tell me I have an industrial-strength imagination, so I might be good at it.

      1. anonintheuk*

        Tax law. Went into it after dropping out of a PhD in literature. Works for me because I like looking things up. It also works because I have no people-pleasing tendencies whatsoever, and I can just say ‘Sorry, that is what the legislation says’ rather than trying to make people happy.

    27. anon attorney*

      INTP, divorce/family attorney. 8/10 satisfaction. I prefer this job to any other I’ve had, but people’s irrationality and self destructive pigheadedness depresses me. I also tend to be overly analytical when action or guile is called for… But we’re all learning…

    28. Cassie*

      ISTJ, something like an executive assistant (financial stuff & secretarial stuff), 7.5

      I’m in sort of a jack-of-all-trades, master of none position – sometimes I work on really important analytical stuff (which is complicated but I enjoy) and sometimes I have to call in my boss’s prescriptions for him. I would love to get more involved in helping my boss with policy-making and such but he usually doesn’t loop me in. I also think I’d like being an auditor (which is textbook ISTJ) but I’m not sure I have the patience to do that all day long.

      I definitely like not having to deal with people a lot and event planning (an occasional task) is a little bit of a drag.

    29. NZ Muse*

      ISFJ, and an SC on DiSC. Work in digital media – 9?

      Used to be a writer/editor. Struggled with the outward facing aspects of journalism (going to events, representing the publication, and often in person interviews depending on the interviewee – I’m just too awkward and too introverted). Loved the autonomy and variety and the actual writing. Kicked ass in fast paced online environments.

      I have a different and broader kind of digital role now – one that suits me much better in some ways and that challenges me in others. I love working primarily with regular internal contacts (as opposed to external). But I need to be more organised (something that doesn’t come naturally to me) and collaborate a LOT more with others (which I actually enjoy, though my ideal balance would probably be no more than 50/50, and probably more skewed toward individual work). A lot more politics/relationship management/diplomacy involved (which I think I’m quite good at but not sure yet if I actually enjoy it).

      1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

        er, important point, healthy J minor and I have to work hard to work out of my J and not my P or I’d have starved to death a long time ago.

        P for imagination. J for survival. It’s a detail business.

        That’s what gets it to 10.

      2. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

        And, I’m back again with one more point.

        As an NF, learning how to be an effective manager was hard and it often made me miserable. The young me empathized with people so much, I was much too caught up in other people’s feelings than learning best practices and adhering to them.

        Being a senior manager, with layers of management under me, is a significantly better fit and enables me to do my best work.

    30. arjumand*

      I just took the test on two different websites – the first result was ISFJ, the second, in which the questions seemed more detailed and reliable, said ISTJ.

      I’m a teacher, and the personality assessment mostly fits (see “more detailed and reliable” above). Mostly.

    31. QualityControlFreak*

      INTJ, D/C. Quality management and general administration. Love my job (9-10 on your scale). I’m a natural systems builder and I love research, analysis and using data/statistics to create “pictures” which make that data more accessible and understandable to more people. (Ten percent variance comes in because I’m really not people-oriented. I have to work at that. But I do understand the need for buy-in, so in my mind that’s one of my weaknesses to be overcome.)

  26. Anon for This*

    Perfect timing!

    My team, which works remotely, is getting together at a training in a few weeks. We just discovered that our manager’s birthday falls during the training and we’re trying to decide how to celebrate. One of my coworkers suggested buying a gift for my manager. I am totally happy to contribute to a gift (I’m one of the highest-level team members, make a great salary, and am close with our manager) but I’m worried that:

    a) our manager might not be comfortable receiving a gift when that is not typically how we celebrate birthdays (if her birthday were not falling during the conference I imagine we would just say happy birthday individually; and I’m pretty sure if someone else’s birthday fell during the training we would just celebrate with dessert or something).

    b) some people on the team might not feel able to contribute to a gift. I’m very sure that, if we go ahead with this plan, whoever collects contributions will be sensitive and discreet and won’t apply any pressure. But still! It’s a gift for the boss – if I were the newest/lowest-level/worst paid I might feel uncomfortable with the whole thing.

    So: Should I say something? If it matters, I’m new the team but not to the department. I know everyone well but don’t have the strongest sense of the team culture and feel a bit bad about being the curmudgeon on this if everyone else is excited about it.

    1. Sascha*

      I don’t think you should do collections for a gift, even if you tell people there’s no pressure to contribute – people still feel pressured for a boss.

      I don’t think a gift is even necessary from the whole team – I think a card is better, or just bring in some treats to share. Those are low-key, no-pressure options.

      1. Anon for This*

        I agree. But should I say anything or just let it happen?

        Also: We’ll all be away from home, in hotels. We’ll neither be able to bring (nice) treats nor have any need for them (since meals and snacks are provided by our employer on travel).

        1. Sascha*

          Ah, I’m sorry, I missed that part. A card would be the easiest then. Or you could swing by a grocery store and get some treats from the bakery, but I’d probably go with a card.

          Since one of the coworkers already brought up buying a gift, I’d respond with those options.

        2. Jazzy Red*

          If you know that someone is already planning to everyone chip in for a gift, then you should definitely talk to that person, and to the rest of the team. You shouldn’t do anything different than you would do for any peer coworker. Anyone who wants to can always give the boss an individual card (not, however, in the presence of the rest of the team), or wish the boss a happy birthday and say how much you enjoy working with him or her.

          I had a job once where I was totally pressured into chipping in for gifts (by the other 3 clerical people) for our boss (the VP), the 2 inside sales reps AND the 4 territory managers who worked in different parts of the US. That was a heck of a lot of money, and I felt it was most inappropriate to give gifts up the chain of command.

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Stick with cake. Call the hotel and ask if they can help you with that. They might be able to provide one or suggest a nearby bakery. Alternatively, look up bakeries in the area and order some cupcakes. If meals and snacks are provided by your company, ask someone in charge if they can be covered as a trip expense.

    3. ThursdaysGeek*

      I was going to suggest going out to lunch together to celebrate her birthday, but since the company is paying and you might all be in a hotel together, you might be doing that anyway.

      Rather than buying a team gift, however, what about suggesting that those who want bring some portable food item to share from each hometown? (I’d bring Chukar Cherries.) You can plan to meet and share the items on her birthday, but everyone shares. This won’t work for all teams, but if food is a bad idea, even a postcard, map, or photos from each local area could be a good way to share where you’re from and help you get closer as a team — which would be a good birthday present for your manager.

    4. Artemesia*

      DON’T start the tradition of gifting upward. That way lies madness; odds are some boot licking sort will escalate this every year until it is burden — and it always feels like a burden regardless of how expensive it is on those asked to contribute who are not making much. Managers should never receive gifts from subordinates beyond a plate of cookies. I have seen this process several times in different organizations and people really recent the cost of that unborn calf skin briefcase for the boss when they don’t even get a cupcake on their birthdays.

      A good boss will make it clear that gifts are inappropriate but they can’t do it when it is sprung on them by surprise.

      Celebrate the managers birthday during the event with a cake everyone in the group can enjoy. NO GIFTS!

    5. Persephone Mulberry*

      As a high-level team member and one who is also close to the manager in question, you are in a PERFECT position to (nicely) shut down this gifting-upward idea. “That’s a really thoughtful gesture, but I actually think it would make Manager Jane uncomfortable to receive a gift, since we generally don’t do birthdays that way. I bet she’d love it if we _____ instead, though.”

    6. Anon for This*

      Oh, you guys, I’m a chicken! Persephone, I loved your wording and was planning to send a quick note to the most senior member of the team (who has worked with our manager for 10 years) and ask whether she thought the manage would be comfortable… but before I could she sent an email saying she thought it was a great idea. I think I’m chickening out on saying something. :(

    1. HigherEd Admin*

      I think they can be valuable if done well. My most recent performance review was a regurgitation of all the things I’ve done well this year, but provided no insight as to ways I could improve or areas in which I could develop. It gave me no sense as to how to get to the next stage of my career, or even how to advance within the role itself. Sometimes I think they’re done just so a manager can check off a box to say it’s been done.

    2. AndersonDarling*

      We have a very systematic review process based on specific and measurable goals that managers and employees create together. We take the goals very seriously and we track their progress throughout the year. So our raises are defined by how well we accomplish these goals. We don’t have a lot of fluffy, feel good, stuff in our reviews.
      The worst reviews I had were at places where the boss would say you are great, then say you don’t get a raise (because it was given to the boss’ pet instead). In that case, it would be better to separate the “review” from the monetary incentive since they really aren’t related.

      1. Kimberlee, Esq.*

        This is what I wonder… if you have good managers, and you’re setting goals and monitoring progress throughout the year, then is there value to having a separate grading process at the end of the year?

        I worry that there are two less-than-ideal worlds: one like yours, where the performance review is superfluous because managers provide ongoing feedback and you’re always monitoring progress, so everyone knows exactly where they stand without spending a bunch of time on a weird 5 point measuring system, OR one like others in this thread, where the performance review is just another badly-used tool of poor managers who are reviewing the wrong things and then giving out raises based on a process that nobody thinks is any good.

        I like the idea of there being a third universe here, so I’ll be reading this thread. :)

    3. ACA*

      I hate them, but that’s because my boss, rather than let me know when I’ve made a mistake so that I can correct it, instead makes a list of each instance and presents it to me at the review.

      1. AnonAnalyst*

        My previous manager did this and I swear I suffer from performance review PTSD now.

        At my first review with my current manager, she said that she’s a firm believer that nothing in the review should be a surprise. I’ve only had one but am coming up on my second, and her statement was true the first time so I’m hoping that that will be the case again this time.

        I was so stressed out for days leading up to the first one at my current company because I’m used to being blindsided by things that:
        a) happened 8 months ago that no one had mentioned until the end of the year. Since I’m usually really hard on myself anyway, this would then result in my thinking back and realizing I’d made the same mistake several times since then and beating myself up about it.
        b) I had no idea what she was referring to and no specific examples were provided, so for the remainder of the time I worked there I was ultra paranoid about doing Thing I Wasn’t Supposed To that I had no idea what it was.

        Good times.

        1. ACA*

          happened 8 months ago that no one had mentioned until the end of the year

          Yeah. And did your boss also likes to get mad at you for making the same mistake over and over despite waiting eight months to tell you that you were doing it wrong?

    4. Joey*

      Companies are doing away with them because managers don’t do them properly.

      They are absolutely of value if your manager takes the time to be deliberate about the verbiage and isn’t just trying to check off a box that shes done it.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        This. There are very few managers that understand how to use the reviews, they are just crunching through some questions. One job I had, you were supposed to BEG for a review. I didn’t, of course.
        I do not have reviews now at my two part time jobs. The bosses tell me in the moment that something is wrong and I fix it. What a concept. Amazingly the jobs are going fine. Coincidence? I think not.

      2. Mister Pickle*

        I agree. My company currently does annual reviews, and they make a big deal about setting goals at the beginning of the year – but most of those goals are typically irrelevant by May because things change. Neither mgmt nor the employee have the time to re-write the goals – in theory, that’s what they’re supposed to do – so by year-end one’s goals are rather nonsensical. And, of course, the work you did early on, that aligns with the goals? Too much time has passed and nobody remembers if it was any good. And in the end, it all comes down to mgmt in a smoke-filled room arguing the “impact” their employees had during the past year.

        The system is broken – I’m just not sure they’ll replace it with something better.

    5. Lib*

      We’ve replaced annual reviews with quarterly check-ins that are more about getting input from the employee than the other way around. Each meeting has a different focus: accomplishments, goal setting, job description, and goal progress. Employees are asked to bring something with them each time, like their list of accomplishments from the prior year or their list of goals for the coming year. There is a series of about 7 questions at these meetings, a little different each time. At least one question pushes for a more meaningful exchange, like, “Is there anything about your job that is maybe uncomfortable for you to bring up?” and “What would you like to understand better?” Praise-type feedback occurs at these meetings as accomplishments and strengths are acknowledged.

      In addition to these, managers do less formal weekly check-ins. This is where most coaching-type feedback happens, since this type of feedback is most useful if it is fairly immediate. Occasionally these meetings may push into deeper territory (What is the most important thing you and I should be talking about? What do you wish you had more time to do? What has become clearer since last time we met?), but more often they are just discussions about the workload, priorities, and concerns. Any performance issues are handled immediately and documented in written notes or emails.

      We went to these quarterly check-ins because traditional reviews were very stressful. Instead of praise or coaching, the feedback at traditional reviews tends to be about grading people and indirectly comparing them to others. In a very large organization that needs some structure to parse out raises and promotions fairly, this may be how such decisions are justified and defended. In a smaller organization like ours, where jobs are very different from one another, it doesn’t seem to make sense. Our new format is motivational, it give the employee a voice, and it gets us valuable feedback about the organization and staff needs.

    6. Night Cheese*

      My organization recommends that managers conduct two reviews a year, but only one is required. I wish the other one was required because it would help staff trying to make a case for a raise or some other recognition. There’s always the risk of getting blindsided with some sort of “area for improvement” that the employee didn’t know was an issue, and biannual reviews can help correct those issues. Especially if the organization has a really laid-back attitude towards feedback in general.

  27. KQ*

    My organization (mid-size nonprofit) is hiring a new President/CEO, as our longtime and excellent CEO retired recently. Since this is an executive role, the Board is handling it. The process has been pretty lengthy, and the Board has often said that there are lots of legal issues to deal with during an executive search. So I’m just curious, are there? What unique legal issues would arise during an executive hiring process that wouldn’t come up in any hiring process? (Other than, of course, the Board needing to select/approve the choice.)

    1. AndersonDarling*

      I’m surprised they weren’t grooming someone to take the role before the CEO retired. I’m at a non-profit and we have someone already lined up for when the CEO retires in a few years.

      1. KQ*

        Well, they kinda were/are. But the plan still is to put that person through the process along with all the external applicants. (Which is their call. I just don’t think that there’s any legal obligation to go that way.)

        1. TNTT*

          Haha – this is where the legal issues come from! If they already have someone picked and just hand it over, there are problems with that depending on your field.

          1. KQ*

            Are there though? Is there a reason they couldn’t just choose whomever they like, with any process that they like? As long as it’s not discriminatory of course. Now, I think it would be a poor idea not to explore all options, but would it be illegal? (I’m just curious, to be honest.)

            1. Not So NewReader*

              I assume there is a board? Perhaps one or more board members are sticklers or stirrers. The sticklers want to dot every i and cross every t. The stirrers ask “why, why, why” to everything they hear.
              It could be that The Chosen One wants a 50% pay increase. Or perhaps The Chosen One does not have all the criteria that the job description calls for.

              Most of these things dissolve into someone saying “well, we should ask our attorney”. And that is when it becomes a legal issue.

    2. Hooptie*

      The first thing that comes off the top of my head is a confidentiality agreement with the candidate’s prior employer. Assuming that CEOs tend to stay in the same or relatively close industries I don’t see how there wouldn’t be some overlap at some point. I would also assume that the background check process for executives is more in-depth for those of us at lower levels.

  28. Joey*

    I’m already doling out raises based on performance soon. Should I do a small gift (probably something edible) for each one of my direct reports or lunch on me for the holidays/end of the year?

    1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      I’ve never worked in a culture where gifts at holidays were a thing, so I don’t really have an opinion about that. I just wanted to comment that “doling out raises based on performance” doesn’t really have anything to do with gifting; the raises are neither coming from you (unless you’re the owner of the business, I suppose) nor are they gifts… they are recognitions of great work/incentives to continue delivering great work.

    2. fposte*

      If you want to; I don’t think it’s mandatory. The risk of small gifts is that people may feel obliged to reciprocate and kick off a cycle, so I’d probably go with lunch–or just write them a note of appreciation.

      1. Chriama*

        I agree. With a small gift, people might feel like they have to reciprocate (especially since it’s around the holidays). Go with the group lunch.

    3. De Minimis*

      I like the small gift idea a little more, just because it shows more individual recognition, but it’s really hard to go wrong with either option.

      The group lunch is great for something like the end of a major project, fiscal year end, celebration of meeting a goal, etc…

    4. GrumpyBoss*

      I do lunch. I used to do a small gift, until I once had someone complain that it wasn’t big enough. Yes. That actually happened.

        1. Jamie*

          As long as it’s group and not mandatory I’d go with that. But I don’t think small food gifts would make people think they should reciprocate so that would be fine too.

          Meltaways from Fannie May are festive, non-sectarian, and delicious.

    5. Felicia*

      You need to be knowledgeable about any allergies /dietary restrictions/ strong taste preferences before giving something edible generally. Like a manager gave milk chocolate and one person didn’t like it and one person was lactose intolerant and one person was a vegan, and one person kept kosher. Or I’ve gotten wine as a gift but I don’t like wine. I think of those 2 lunch on you is better, preferably at a place with diverse options , so that people can choose what they want.

      1. Marcy*

        Yes, this is the best idea. Some of us feel like group lunches are torture and not a reward and others may have dietary issues with food gifts.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      I say surprise them by announcing at the beginning of the week that they will be working a half day before the holiday, or they can have an extra day of their choice, whatever makes sense for your setting.

      They want either cash or time. Those are the best gifts.

  29. paddington bear*

    I have a dilemma! I interviewed for two jobs this week, one office and one remote. I have an in-person for the remote job next Tuesday and am reasonably sure of an offer – I worked for the company previously, know the hiring manager and worked well with her team from my position on another team. She called me to apply for the position. I received an offer for the office job today with a competitive salary. I asked to think on it until Tuesday and they agreed. The more I think, the more I really want the remote position, not the office job. I’m looking for suggestions on how to let them know politely. It isn’t about the money, or the work, or any red flags I saw in the interview. It really is about the remote nature of the other position and my previous relationship with that company.

    1. fposte*

      Are you just asking how to turn down the job offer? “Thank you for your offer–I was impressed with your organization and appreciate your time. However, I’ve accepted a position elsewhere.” It’s no big deal.

    2. fposte*

      P.S. Congratulations on doing so well in your job search, by the way–that’s quite an impressive week.

      1. paddington bear*

        Thanks – It was a big fat nothing for awhile, then everything happened all at once! I was hoping to get the offer that came today next week to have a little more flexibility with the Tuesday interview, but it will all work out.

    3. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      I don’t think you have to explain yourself at all! If you take the remote job, you could just say you’ve accepted another position. If you don’t get an offer there but still don’t want to accept the office job, you can just say that you’ve considered their offer and decided that it’s not a great fit.

    4. Artemesia*

      You never need to express a reason for: turning down a date, turning down a marriage proposal, turning down a job, leaving a job. Just tell them you appreciate the offer and enjoying meeting with them but have chosen to take another position.

  30. SD*

    When an application asks for your entire job history, do you have to list EVERY job you’ve ever held? I worked as a contractor for a company for a week every few months for three years (12 weeks total) and got a W-4. Is it falsification if I don’t add this job?

    1. Diet Coke Addict*

      If the application has you sign and acknowledge that it is a complete and true account of your jobs, then yes, you must add it.

    2. The IT Manager*

      It might be if they ask to list all you jobs you’ve held.

      List it once –

      position, company, 2011 – 2014 (weekly contract for 12 weeks throughout 3 year period)

      ^ or something like this. My sample is not perfect, but make it clear that it was not full time.

  31. (Formerly) Frustrated*

    My husband has been out of work since June, but he landed a new job! He interviewed two weeks ago, they were checking references last week, and he was offered the job Wednesday of this week. He is attending an HR orientation thing today and starts full-time as of Monday. Less pay than his last job, but it seems like a good stable position and he’ll get valuable work experience. Hooray!

    1. Jazzy Red*

      That’s wonderful! Congratulations to both of you. I know it’s a huge weight off your shoulders.

  32. AvonLady Barksdale*

    I GOT THE JOB. I reached out to a company a few weeks ago, and after a screener, a lunch meeting, a coffee meeting, and a Skype interview, they made an offer on Tuesday. Fastest interview process ever. I countered asking for $3k more, and they called me back and offered me $4K MORE. Yeah… it feels good to be wanted. The CEO called me on Tuesday night and gave me a (hilarious) “hard time” about why I was taking so long (12 hours!) to accept. When I said, “You know I have to sleep on it!”, he told me that was pragmatic and smart– and he also told me that my new boss wanted to make me an offer immediately after meeting me, but he (the CEO) made him wait. I am so, so excited. It’s a small pay cut, but I was earning an NYC salary in a market with a much lower COL, so I’m not too upset. This is the kind of work I wanted to do when I left my old job, and my current job was a big sidetrack. I start in a month– I have to wait for my current boss to get back before I can give notice (and that SUCKS), then my grandparents are in town so I’m taking the week off. I’ll miss working from home somewhat, but I’ll be able to do that almost every Friday and I may even be allowed to take my doggy to the office.

    One thing that’s not so wonderful– while they’re changing this in 2015 (nothing concrete yet), they don’t offer health insurance. I have to look into ACA plans. The ones in my state aren’t horrible (I live near a major medical center that has a ton of affiliated offices), but this is new territory. Any suggestions?

    1. TCO*

      Congratulations! It sounds like your interview process has been awesome and I hope the good treatment and good vibes continue there.

      As far as health insurance, contact a local broker or Navigator to help you wade through the choices. Take all of the usual criteria into account (costs, copays and deductibles, network size, prescription coverage). If you might only need this plan for a few months and don’t consume a lot of ongoing medical care, perhaps it’s worth the risk to take a higher-deductible plan. Remember that all ACA plans cover certain aspects of preventative and reproductive care at no cost, even if the out-of-pocket costs on other care is higher.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        Thanks! Yeah, I need some help walking through these things. I’m pretty risk-averse but also relatively healthy (and big on preventive care), so I’m stuck between banking on remaining healthy and going with a higher deductible, especially if my new employer decides to set up HSAs, or spending more money so I can have comprehensive care in the off-chance I need it. So much to think about! I’m lucky in that the new company acknowledges this and is working hard to find a solution that works for everyone, I just wish they had figured it out last month.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          If you have time, start looking at this question by tallying up what you have spent on medical over the last couple of years. And by that I mean what you would expect to be covered by insurance. For example, my chiro is not covered, so I don’t count that as medical for purposes of the insurance coverage question.

    2. Jazzy Red*

      Congratulations to you! It’s very impressive that the process went so quickly. Enjoy your new job.

  33. FX-ensis*

    Is this a good career change method. I wish to become a marketing professional:

    – Making almost 100 industry Linkedin contacts this year, some of whom have given me good advice in the industry.

    – Participated in Linkedin group discussions, and impressed some people with a lot more experience me.

    – Started my own blog about marketing issues

    – Attending marketing conferences

    – Helping friends’ and family members’ in planning social media for their firms

    – Building a portfolio of work to show new employers

    I haven’t had much success in finding work, but I’m hopeful something can turn up soon. I’m an optimist by nature, so I can’t do anything other than that…:)

    And is it good to add strangers on Linkedin? Most of my family aren’t computer-literate, and I’ve added most of my friends. I know it’s good to add anyone who will add/provide career value generally, but then it feels odd to add strangers who may be helpful in the future.

    1. HigherEd Admin*

      I wouldn’t recommend adding strangers without giving them a reason to add you. When you send a connection request, you’re able to customize the message to say more about why you would want to connect with them. “I saw your presentation at XYZ conference and I’d love to connect with you and learn more” or something.

      One of the best ways to connect with strangers who aren’t completely strangers is to use the Alumni Portal. That way, you can find people on LinkedIn with whom you already share a connection (your alma mater) and filter out by industry or job function (marketing) and maybe location (wherever you’re looking to get a job) then send more targeted connection requests and informational interview requests.

      1. FX-ensis*

        Thanks for answering. I don’t add people at random, though i do add a reason for requesting. It’s just that my professional contacts are low, for the reasons I said and I don’t know many people in the industry I wish to enter (well not personally).

    2. Becca*

      I work in Marketing. My boss has said a few times (he’s the marketing manager) that the best way to get into this business is to have a skill like graphic design or web design like my manager and I have. Can you maybe learn some of those skills? Basic HTML and CSS isn’t too hard, and makes you much more marketable (haha). Maybe learn some Email Marketing stuff too…I always recommend Mailchimp because they are amazing, and have great articles on marketing and such.

      1. Cherry Scary*

        Also in Marketing, and I can second a lot of this. Love that you’re working on blogging, my experience with managing a blog in college (I worked on a blogging/video/podcast network) helped me land my current job, and they’re handing me a company blog in the next few weeks to run. Video skills can also be useful if you are interested in learning that.

        1. FX-ensis*

          Thanks also. I’m starting to realise that getting ahead in digital marketing is about hands-on experience, so I plan to get ahead soon lol.

      2. FX-ensis*

        Thanks. To be honest I hate programming, but I learnt HTML a while ago, so I have to pick that up again. I prefer content, social media, e-mail, and SEO, but I know it makes sense to be holistic/jack of all trades. Just I’m more geared to the relational aspect, which I prefer those points. But thanks anyway..

  34. Hooptie*

    Public Service Announcement – it is getting to be the time of year for many companies to start looking at wage increases for next year. If your manager doesn’t know what you’ve accomplished, and you want a potential increase to reflect those accomplishments, it is your responsibility to make sure your manager is aware of what you’ve done and why you deserve a raise.

    That is all.

    1. Jazzy Red*

      That is oh-so-true. You need to promote yourself at work, especially towards the end of the year, or whenever raises are usually given. If you’re part of a team, you do get to say “I” more than “we”, especially if there’s anything that you personally contributed that made a difference.

  35. ineloquent*

    So, I’ve got an awkward situation. I recently acquired a coworker who came billed as an expert in our area, but really has no idea how to handle the basics – she’s just really misrepresented herself. I’m having so many problems with her. I have to keep retraining her, but it doesn’t stick, even when I give her written work instructions to follow. Then, when she doesn’t do something or forgets a vital and costly step, she either blames me, says she’s too busy, or says she wasn’t trained. All of those things are demonstrably false. Her production levels are pretty bad and tracked by our system, and I’ve kept all of my correspondence with her. My bosses know that I’m really good at what I do, and have no problems with my work, but it’s starting to affect our perception by internal customers.

    The issue really is that we don’t have a manager on site. My bosses are working on getting someone hired, but finding someone qualified who wants to relocate is proving difficult. We’re being managed by someone in the next state right now, and he does the best he can. I mentioned to him that the arrangement he had with her to let her leave an hour early once a week, and it turns out he has no such arrangement! He’s now investigating her for time fraud and using me to tell him when she gets in or leaves, and when she actually submits work (it’s transaction based, so easy to measure). I fully expect her to get fired in the next couple months, which will once again leave me completely overwhelmed. It’s really tough, but I’m honestly glad we’re moving in this direction. Anyone else been in a similar situation? Any words of advice or encouragement?

    1. fposte*

      Words of advice: your managers don’t seem to be handling this well and likely didn’t handle hiring well, either. Could you contribute something to the search and hiring process that would make a repeat of the problem less likely? (Like making sure references are thoroughly checked and skills are tested.) Are there less-specialized tasks you’re currently doing that could be delegated to a temp while you cover the skilled work of your position and hers? If so, suggest that.

      1. ineloquent*

        This coworker actually wasn’t hired by the current bosses – there’s been an amazing amount of restructuring going on this year. She was an internal transfer who had worked with previous boss like 7 years ago for six months and had been pretty ok. They’ve actually asked me to help with the hiring of the replacement person (she’s leaving her current role for a similar role, but the time fraud thing is likely to get her sacked completely). I’m already passing the less specialized stuff to a contractor and a part time person, but my workload is such that any time spent training at all is a huge burden (which is why it was so bad that she wasn’t able to hit the ground running). I’m essentially doing the work of three people, and it can hugely hurt my company’s profitability if done badly or slowly . It’s just a bad position for me to be in, but once I have good help, I should be ok. It’s just holding on until that happens that’s going to be a challenge.

    2. Nanc*

      You did all the right things in trying to get her up to speed and competent in the job (why do people lie?!!!). You have a manager who’s supporting you (from a different state! Send him a thank you card or something when this all blows over!). You created written instructions for the tasks (awesome thing–even if you’ve done the task/skill forever sometimes it’s a bit different in a new job). All I can suggest is you start preparing and prioritizing your/her duties and when she’s gone, work with your manager to see what can go on the back burner until they have a replacement. Good luck–there’s a perfect employee out there just waiting to come work with you.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Hmm, why don’t they move you to management? It sounds like you are already managing. That would mean that they would have to hire to replace you. You’d probably know exactly what to look for in a candidate.

    4. Steve G*

      Wow, I thought you were one of my coworkers, except our such person’s boss in very far away, not in the next state.

      I am annoyed by it because they did look like an expert from their resume, and did good in the interview…it’s just that they didn’t do that much at all of these past jobs with great titles + at great companies, I guess. They are looking to managers and directors for input on stuff that coordinator-level employees do here….I guess they just got lucky up to this point in their career by working at a few cushy companies that don’t make you do a whole lot.

  36. LMW*

    So, last week I wrote about being blindsided by a bad performance review. After the helpful advice I got here, and taking sometime to thing about it over the weekend, I decided that the best approach would be, if asked, to say that while I didn’t think the evaluation was an accurate reflection of the full year, we’re in agreement that the program hasn’t been where it needs to be and I’d like to concentrate on moving forward. (Which we’re actually doing…aside from these sudden issues with my boss, everything is going really well. I’ve gotten a great response to the current project and have been asked to help put together similar plans for different product lines.)
    I never had a chance to talk about it at all though, because my one-on-one Wednesday got off to a bad start with my boss. He’s suddenly suggesting that I change the overall strategy and approach to my program, and saying that the focus is too far one topic (which it’s not, because we’re not doing that topic at all) and actually screamed at me and hit the table. It was so loud that after our meeting two coworkers who’d been out in the main area came to find me and make sure everything was okay. By the end of the meeting he was saying things like “I’m your biggest cheerleader! I want to help you succeed! You believe me, right?” And yesterday he came out of meeting and joked “Ever have one of those meetings where you come out frustrated and confused?” (Which, I’ll admit, made me laugh.)
    I’m just bewildered. Up until last week I thought we had a good relationship and that I was making really good progress in getting the program on track (after some delays caused by leadership changes and product rejiggering). And I know he’s a high-energy person who tends to get loud (just not usually AT people). But I can’t really deal with this Jekyll and Hyde routine long term. And I can’t just blindly do what he wants, because in most cases it’s completely counter to the goals of my program. And my program is finally, after many delays, moving and my plans are getting the results they were supposed to, so I’m not sure why the sudden change in attitude. I wonder if maybe he got a bad performance review?
    So, no real question. Just a follow up rant.

    1. IndieGir*

      You may not have a question, but him screaming and hitting the table is complete out of line, and that co-workers heard it beyond closed doors makes it worse.

      At the very least, I’d document it in an email to myself, and if he does it again, I’d take it to HR.

      1. Jazzy Red*

        Yeah, definitely out of line there. I would have walked out as soon as the screaming started. It’s something that I just cannot deal with.

      2. LMW*

        I do have a written dated note on it, and asked my coworkers who overheard to please make a note of it. I’m a little wary of going to HR, but I agree that I’ll have to if he does it again.
        During the meeting he said something about my response to one of his questions and I did point out that he was the one shouting and hitting the furniture. I’m hopeful that he actually does know it was out of line and is actually kind of embarrassed about it. I doubt I’ll get an apology or acknowledgement of it though.

    2. Sympathizer*


      Wow, you have my sympathies! I cannot imagine how jarring it must have been to sit through a meeting where your “high energy” boss actually screams at you and forcibly hits the table. Such behavior is completely uncalled for and truly unprofessional. It speaks volumes that your co-workers actually inquired about your well-being once the meeting ended.

      Please treat yourself to some fun and stress-free activities (movies, ice cream, hiking and biking with friends, etc.) and might I suggest that you begin updating your resume and reaching out to contacts. Given the unexpectedly negative performance review and the loud and brash meeting with your supervisor, you may want to consider moving on from this position soon.

      1. LMW*

        Thanks for the sympathy. I’m already following your advice here — I’d love for the chance to get this program to its full potential, but I don’t think I’m actually going to get a chance to do it with the current circumstances. I started revamping my resume and reaching out to contacts last week.

    3. Lib*

      There’s a great new book out called “Thanks for the feedback: the science and art of receiving feedback well (even when it is off base, unfair, poorly delivered, and frankly, you’re not in the mood)” which has great advice on instigating conversations that will get you the information you need from your manager. Your situation is an opportunity to shift your work in a new direction, but you need to get your boss talking to your productively.

      1. LMW*

        I will definitely check that out. I’m very good at receiving feedback when I can see the reasoning behind it, but when I don’t get the logic or it seems unfair or ill-informed I’ll admit I need to work on it.

  37. Sara S.*

    Out of curiosity — what is the best perk or fun benefit of your current job? My company offers monthly on-site massages during the work day. I just had mine this morning, and am feeling crazy relaxed :).

    1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      Whoa, that’s great.

      We shut down the week between Christmas and New Years – that’s probably my favorite!

      1. GrumpyBoss*

        My father’s company did this while I was growing up. Silly me, I thought this was normal and expected. It was a major disappointment to find out that it wasn’t.

        My current job gives me Christmas Eve off, and I’m grateful for it!

      2. Felicia*

        We are shut down for two weeks – the week of Christmas and the week of New Years. That’s my favourite.

      3. CoffeeLover*

        In my city this is really common. All office type, professional jobs shut down. I don’t know a single company that doesn’t do this.

      4. NZ Muse*

        Oh, is that not normal? It’s pretty typical in NZ (minus obviously 24/7 type industries … when I worked in news I worked a lot of Christmases…)

        1. Felicia*

          At least in my particular city it’s not normal (a little more normal in a non profit, but not standard). Most people don’t get it, which is why its a perk forr me:) The week between Christmas and New Years is more common, though still far from universal, but the full two weeks i get is uncommon. Dec 25, Dec 26 and Jan 1 are statutory holidays though so either you don’t work then or you get time and a half in the very rare businesses open then, ,but otherwise many people get nothing extra.

    2. The IT Manager*

      Telework. Can eventually move to full-time work from home.

      I can also work from other people’s home ie take a long trip to see my family while not having to take vacation for all those days.

      1. Sascha*

        That’s my favorite perk, too. I’m even more appreciative of it now that I’m pregnant, as I have a lot of days where I feel horrible and being able to work from my couch in my pajamas is a huge relief.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        I have to second this one. Though I prefer to be in the office, it’s super nice to have the option to work from home if I’m not feeling well or if I have a repair person coming, or during a polar vortex.

        I’m trying to see about working from London on my upcoming return, since it’s at month-end and I got some whinging about my being gone for three weeks. I offered to do it then, but they said, no, go enjoy yourself. Okay, you said to do it and it was approved, so I did.

      3. Cassie*

        My boss lets me have a “flexible” schedule. He understands that some of our work has to be done after regular business hours (especially if we’re dealing with a Monday morning deadline) so he’s not strict about me sitting at my desk from 8 to 5 every single day.

        Basically it means that I’m there for a 6-7 hours a day, five days a week, but that I do some work from home in the evenings or weekends as needed. Best arrangement ever, since there are also fewer distractions at home and I can sit in my pjs and not freeze to death.

    3. Gwen Soul*

      23 days of PTO which carries over year to year. I think we can bank up to 30 days. Becomes 33 days with a bank of 45 after 10 years.

      High deductable health plan but only costs me $6 a paycheck. ($3400 deductable)

      1. NowProwl*

        Ooo, another one for PTO. We get 36 days per year. (I also learned that PTO can’t ‘expire’ in CA … interesting fact)

      2. BRR*

        I love my PTO. Accumulate two days a month and you can roll over 48 days. Easy to accumulate and you never have to worry about losing any or using it all by a certain date.

    4. Joey*

      Paid holiday between Xmas and New Years, leave buyback at the end of the year, a committment from the CEO that no one will be laid off-vacancies are frozen and offered when someone’s job is no longer needed.

    5. Anonsie*

      Really robust health insurance, including for dependents, with no premiums for employees and comparatively small ones for dependents and spouses. It includes all the typical stuff you could want plus alt med things like acupuncture, massage and manipulation therapies, etc. if that’s what floats your goat. I’m grumpy that it’s grandfathered in so we still have copays for contraceptive prescriptions, but it has the other women’s health benefits so all provider-administered ones (like the implant) are 100% free and they’re considerably more expensive.

    6. Natalie*

      We just moved to casual dress all week (jeans, basically) unless we have a meeting or a VIP in the office. As I consider jeans to be in the top 5 inventions of the modern era, this is great for me.

      1. Sara S.*

        Casual dress codes are a godsend. I struggle with throwing on some mascara or having my hair in something other than a ponytail. If I had a business/business casual dress code on top of that, I would be all kinds of cranky in the morning.

    7. Anx*

      I can use the bathroom whenever I want and run errands on campus during a lull if I really need to. Free parking.

      1. Karowen*

        Thank you for reminding me that not everyone has freedom to use the bathroom whenever they need to…I’m at the point in my job where I need SOMETHING to remind me that I have it better than a lot of people to do, and this was it!

    8. DeAnna*

      We can earn VTO – volunteer time off. If you volunteer for a non-religiously based non-profit organization, then you earn hour-for-hour time off, up to 12 hours if you are part-time and 24 if you work full-time.

      1. AdminAnon*

        That’s so cool! Though I work at a non-religious non-profit, so I’m guessing that is not in the cards for us. I would totally use it to go walk dogs for the local humane society, which I do anyway and love.

    9. louise*

      I keep waiting to see about the current one — so far nothing. But my college job covered oil changes and tires for me and I used to believe that’s the best perk ever, but that was before I heard about massages. :)

    10. nep*

      That is a fabulous perk. Wow. Kudos to your company for offering that. Not just relaxing and pleasant, but great for one’s well-being.

      1. Windchime*

        The ability to work from home is a huge one for me. I only do it regularly one day per week, but lots of other people in my area work from home two or more days per week, and if I’m feeling punky or just need to have quiet and concentrate, my boss is fine with just an email letting him know that I will be working from home.

        Someone else mentioned being able to use the bathroom whenever they wish. It’s been a long time since I had the kind of job where I had to get someone to cover for me so I could go to the restroom. I have come to take that for granted.

  38. Trying to Resign*

    I’ve been trying to resign from my job for over a week, but my boss is always busy and keeps pushing our meetings back. Waiting to give my notice is becoming frustrating. Wish me luck!

    1. Elkay*

      I’d be interested to see feedback here as to whether it’s ok to resign by email in this situation.

      1. HigherEd Admin*

        If it impacts a start date, my inclination would be to say an email is appropriate, followed by an in-person meeting.

      2. AvonLady Barksdale*

        I just sent Alison an email asking for advice on this very issue, so I’m watching this space too.

      3. Trying to Resign*

        Another thing that makes this difficult – I’m resigning without another job lined up. It’s because of two things:

        – Employer is being sued over a touchy legal situation that is damaging my reputation the longer I stay there

        – I’m moving out of state

        I’m not going to bring up the legal situation and reputation damage, but it will still be a somewhat delicate resignation, and definitely best done in person or by phone with an in-person follow-up meeting.

    2. ThursdaysGeek*

      Giving notice should only take a few minutes, you shouldn’t need an entire planned meeting for it. Poke your head in her office, ask if she has just a minute, and let her know you are resigning and when your last day is. Then set up a meeting to discuss closing things out, which she can blow off and move to her heart’s content.

      If you never see her at all without a meeting, then give her a phone call. It’s better to resign in person than over email, if at all possible.

        1. Trying to Resign*

          Unfortunately, the situation doesn’t make that possible. We have an open floor plan office. I want to resign privately and discuss the terms privately, which requires a prescheduled meeting with a conference room booked in advance.

          My boss works from home a few days a week and is often in meetings all day. So I’ll need to schedule an in-person meeting or a phone call.

          1. Anonsie*

            I’m really curious what you’re supposed to do in this situation. I wonder every time I see open floor plans.

            1. Trying to Resign*

              There are lots of small conference rooms. In order to have a private meeting, you have to book one in advance – they tend to fill up.

              1. Anonsie*

                That’s what I mean– if it’s hard to get a room, and you don’t want to talk about what the meeting is outside of one, and you’re trying to catch someone who’s busy… What do you even do?

    3. GrumpyBoss*

      Try one last time – “I have something urgent that I need to discuss right now”. If he blows you off, make sure you CC HR on your email.

      I’ve been there too. You will feel so much better once it’s over.

    4. Persephone Mulberry*

      Um, does your boss know the topic of the meeting and is trying to avoid you? Or does he think it’s a check in on a completely different (or TBD) topic and doesn’t realize there’s a sense of urgency around it.

      In any case, I wouldn’t wait any longer for the “meeting” to happen. I would type up my resignation (I know Alison says it’s not required but most places want something in writing for their employee files, IME), walk into my boss’s office the next time he is not actively in another meeting or on the phone, say, “I’ve decided to give my X week’s notice; my last day will be ___. Here is my resignation in writing if you need it for my file,” and call it good.

    5. Trying to Resign*

      So I managed to get through to him by email! He said, “Let’s sync up on Monday.” I haven’t given him any hints about my resignation. He thinks this is just our routine weekly update meeting.

      So I’m considering following up with, “Do you have time for a quick call later today? There’s something I’d like to discuss.” Then I’d tell him by phone that I’m moving on and that we can discuss it on Monday.

      It’s hard because this is the kind of conversation that’s best to have face to face, but waiting is really stressing me out.

      1. Jazzy Red*

        He might appreciate not being blindsided on Monday. But, you know him best, so it’s your call.

        Good luck. You’re in a tough spot, and I hope everything works out for you.

    6. Artemesia*

      You don’t need a meeting to give notice — in fact notice should be given in writing — one or two simple lines indicating last day and appreciating the experience. It is good to give it in person — but if the boss is not available then it should be given in writing and with follow up Email of the ‘I have been trying to see you in person for this, but since our schedules are not meshing, I wanted to let you know that my last day will be X and I have left my letter of resignation on your desk. This was been a great experience and I have appreciated working with you.’

      or whatever — but don’t let the boss ‘push back your meeting’ when you need to resign — he may well be jerking you around because he knows this is happening.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      I am not understanding why you just can hand him a piece of paper with the date of your last day on it. It might not be any of my business, but this seems to be very hard and drawn out and it really shouldn’t be this difficult.

  39. Anon for this one*

    Letting off a bit of steam. I work in a team with no sense of urgency and shouty managers, this week has been pretty tough.

    1. Monodon monoceros*

      Hmmm, this could describe my week too! Added to no sense of urgency and shouty people (not my managers but people who outrank me: inconsistent, and indecisive, weird, and can’t remember things that happened from one minute to the next.

      I had wine and pancakes for dinner. And so happy it is Friday.

        1. Monodon monoceros*

          Hm. I do recommend the wine and pancakes for dinner. That has improved my mood – also lounging on the couch with my dog and cat…I was out of town this week so its nice to be home again. The travel definitely did not help me feel great about all the rest of it.

  40. T*

    I’m considering reapplying for a job title (but different position) that I interviewed for a few months ago, but I’m not sure how to address this in the cover letter. After my last interview, the hiring manager gave me some specific interview feedback which I’ve been really working on and told me to reapply in the future. I’m not sure how to (or if I should) mention the past interview/feedback in my cover letter. Any advice?

    (Of course she could have just trying to be polite when she said to reapply, but who knows)

    1. TCO*

      Don’t mention it in the cover letter, but drop that manager a note to let them know you’ve submitted an application again.

      1. TCO*

        Oh, and give a quick update (1-2 sentences) about concrete actions you’ve taken to improve your experience or qualifications.

  41. Katie**

    I’m 29 yo, female, and one of the younger folks in my public sector office. Part of the job is giving presentations to elected officials and other groups as requested, which I enjoy and am generally really good at. On Wednesday I gave a presentation which was developed by my boss and was not controversial. I didn’t feel totally on top of my game and definitely stumbled a couple of times. After the meeting, my boss, two co-workers, and even an outside colleague complimented me on my presentation. This is not the first time this has happened — why are people going out of their way to compliment me on mediocre work? I doubt my 29 yo male colleague or any of the GenX/Boomers in the office get these kinds of compliments. A friend of mine in the office said I should just take the compliment, I am a terrific public speaker, and since I dress “better” (ie not typical gov’t employee wardrobe) that folks are more likely to take me seriously. But maybe I am coming off as super nervous and they are trying to buck me up?

    1. Cruciatus*

      Any chance you’re being harder on yourself than need be? You said you’re generally good at it–and you may have stumbled, but maybe not as noticeably as you think or you were able to get back on track smoothly. If there was a problem I’m sure your boss would tell you, especially if elected officials are involved. If you really don’t feel you did well, maybe you could ask your boss if there’s anything she’d like you to work on for future presentations. That gives her an opening to suggest things. I wouldn’t go in and say “you’re praising me inappropriately! I was terrible!” I’ll bet you’re doing better than you think.

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Take the compliment at face value. I’ve received the most compliments when I’ve stumbled in presentations. I consider myself to be a very good presenter, and when things go wrong (in my eyes), I’m disappointed, but for some reason, that’s when I get the most positive response. Sometimes those stumbles make us more “real” or “relatable”, and sometimes it’s the way we recover from the stumbles that earns the praise. You were probably the least boring presenter they’ve seen in a while. Don’t sweat it.

    3. Persephone Mulberry*

      I bet it has nothing to do with your age and gender and a lot to do with the bar you set for yourself on what makes a successful presentation being a lot higher than most people’s.

    4. A Jane*

      Getting comments means you’re on the right track. If you didn’t hear anything back from people or if they actively ignored you, that’s where I’d be concerned.

      Also, I’d recommend talking to your boss and discuss any areas where you thought you could have improved. For example, if you noticed you stumbled over stats slides, how could you improve your skills there? Of if you struggle with Q&A, what kind of prep work?

    5. Not So NewReader*

      I do some work as an elected official. I know how we are with each other. No one is a polished speaker, we stutter, stumble, lose words and so on. When someone comes in and does an organized speech in a put together manner, well, it stands out like a sore thumb. Because that is NOT us.

      I think you are asking the wrong questions. I think you should be asking “What did I do right?” or “What did you like about my presentation?” Just as it is important to correct errors, it is equally important to learn what you should KEEP doing. Please keep that balance in mind as you go along.

  42. Korona*

    So I’m starting a volunteer position with a non-for-profit that is basically a full-time job – I’ll be doing PR and media communications – but it’s unpaid. How should I list that on my resume, especially as I will be continuing working for the nfp after accepting a position?

    1. fposte*

      Usually “Volunteer Experience” or “Other Experience” (noting that it’s volunteer work) is a useful heading for such things. You just need to make clear that it’s volunteer work.

        1. fposte*

          Because it doesn’t count the same to a prospective employer even if you’re spending the same amount of time. You’re not getting performance reviews, you’re not getting money invested in you by the organization, and you’re going to get a whole lot of slack that paid employees don’t get. Which doesn’t mean you’re not awesome in it, but it’s enough of a difference that it looks like deception if you list it without mentioning that it’s volunteer.

    2. Chai Latte*

      I have non-paid positions listed on my resume. I don’t have any separate sections for experiences though (just education, relevant experience, and skills) , and from the titles it’s clear that it was an internship/externship type position. I think it probably makes more sense to do as a recent grad as many volunteer/non-paid positions may be more relevant than paid ones.

  43. Colleen*

    My manager is retiring in January. His director is planning to post the job and it has always been an understanding that this is a job I would get promoted into when my manager left. Well, his director has decided to post the job opening (not a problem), but the job as it is being defined is not the job I want or the job that the company needs. How can I go about applying for the job I want even if it isn’t the job that is posted?

    I plan to bring with me to the interview information about the department and its goals and where I believe it should be headed for the betterment of the company (I have been working on this with the rest of the department because they agree that these changes are needed). I am also ready for pushback from the director and whomever else is in the interview team.

    Is there a better way to go about this? Should I approach the director ahead of time with my/our ideas?


    1. fposte*

      I would approach the director, but not necessarily with my ideas–I’d approach asking about the rationale behind the change in the position. Once you hear the rationale, you may be able to argue for a different approach, but until you hear why they went the way they did, there’s a risk of looking blinkered if you just argue for the job that you want instead.

    2. LoFlo*

      Your company might be using your manager’s retirement as an opportunity to reorganize some responsibilities. I wouldn’t make comments on whether or not the company needs the job. Strategically there might be a reason the duties are changing, and in your role you weren’t involved in those discussions. I don’t think they are going to change the job description at your suggestion. Is there a reason why your suggestions for the betterment of the department and company haven’t been considered before your manager’s retirement?

      1. Colleen*

        Thanks to both fposte and LoFlo for your comments.

        For LoFlo: The suggestions haven’t been considered because the director controls two groups, ours and one other, and he doesn’t fully understand what ours does, nor does he make an effort to find out. He spends most of his time with the other group because he understands them and it comfortable with what they do. My manager has been ill for about a year, so there hasn’t been anyone pushing for more interaction and understanding between our group and the director. So, in short, he doesn’t know what we do, so he discounts any changes we have suggested.

        I hope that helps. And certainly your comments did help. I plan to change my approach and speak with the director prior to the posting so that at least I know I did my best to convey what I and my group are looking for. Even if the director doesn’t use it, at least we will have tried.

        1. Artemesia*

          Your best shot is to apply and do the best you can in the interview and if hired to move in the direction you would like to go. Since he tends to leave this group alone that passive aggressive approach may work. On the other hand this may be what he sees as his big chance to change your department — and he may have in mind hiring someone from outside to do it, so I would also be dialing up an external job search as you do this.

  44. De Minimis*

    Been busy….I’m “celebrating” my first month alone here as the entire finance department, and am behind due to some leave I had to take last month. Once I get caught up, though, I think things will be fine. Our regional headquarters is trying to push for my bosses to hire a replacement for my co-worker, though initially the reason I was hired was for succession planning and there was never an intention to continue with two accountants/analysts.
    Other similar facilities here I believe usually have just one person doing it all. I don’t know

    My days are busier now and the workday and work week go a lot faster, which is great. I’ll probably try to get to my 3 year anniversary and then start looking elsewhere, unless something comes up before that, but I feel confident I can do okay as long as I’m here. The only downside is there’s less time to read AAM….

  45. Sherm*

    As someone looking for a new job, I am wondering: Just how bad does the hiring process slow down from late November to early January? I’m in one of those fields where everyone leaves over the holidays. I’m definitely not expecting any calls on Christmas Eve, but how much earlier than that will I probably not hear anything?

    1. Elkay*

      I interviewed in early December for the job I currently have and had HR calling to apologise for not getting my paperwork out to me in the three (usually non-working) days between Christmas and New Year.

    2. RR*

      I’ve gotten my last two positions during this time period — I don’t know your field, but in mine, and presumably in a number of others, if there’s an opening, there’s a need, and efforts will continue to fill that position. So maybe a little slower than average, but late November to early January actually covers a fair bit of time.

    3. Felicia*

      We’re hoping to hire someone to start right after we come back from closing for 2 weeks for the holidays…so we will probably have interviews early December and we want the person hired to start in early January. So I imagine you might hear from some places hiring for early Janury.

    4. Lizzy*

      From my experience, it is not hard to land interviews between Thanksgiving and Christmas — I interviewed for 3 separate positions around that time last year. But the decision making could be delayed well into January. My best friend and are both starting our new jobs close to Thanksgiving, but we also interviewed for these positions in September. Unless the hiring is an immediate need, many positions posted between now and Christmas won’t be filled until mid-January, at the earliest. Of course, there are always exceptions.

    5. Marcy*

      I was called and asked to apply at my current employer at the beginning of November, interviewed just before Thanksgiving and was offered the job in mid-January.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      The last two jobs I have gotten, I found and applied for in November/December. One was temp and the other was perm. happy holidays to ME! ;) I started one in December and one in January.

  46. HigherEd Admin*

    Any tips on moving from higher education to a corporate role? I love my job (LOVE it, actually), but am starting to realize how limited my options are for career growth and how slow the promotion/advancement process is. I’ve seen a couple of my close colleagues get burned by this, and I’m afraid I’ll be next.

    I applied for a few positions this week and already got asked to schedule a phone interview for the one I’m most excited about (which, BTW, I attribute highly to Alison’s cover letter and resume advice, so THANK YOU!). What advice do you all have for acing a corporate interview when the bulk of my experience has been in higher education and non-profits?

    1. Elkay*

      I shifted a couple of years ago, I’m in the UK which may make a difference.

      I think as with any interview you need to show them that your experience is transferrable. In my latest interview I pointed out that dealing with high functioning/focussed people who have their own ways was something I was used to as I’d been working with academics for 5 years. I’d practice a lot for the “tell me about a time when” style questions because it will really help you see the skills you have separate from your current job.

    2. Artemesia*

      It is hard to make this move because many people simply discount time in non profits and particularly in higher ed. I have seen HR training operations not see school teachers or college professors as ‘experienced teachers’ in the way they view training. So it is critical to translate your work into the language of the corporate workplace. Figure out their metrics and translate your achievement into that language. If training is involved, translate the teaching you do into the rubrics of training. And in the cover letter talk about how you see the fit and talk about why this job attracted you and you are well equipped for it.

      It is tricky to do this in a non-defensive way, but you need to pitch the idea of what a great fit your job writing grants, or registering students, or teaching is a great match for the contracting, management or training job you are trying for. Strive for a sort of ‘ahah how delighted I was to discover company X needs this set of skills I have been exercising at Happy Valley CC.’ rather than ‘even though I work in higher ed, I think my skills would transfer well.

  47. LoFlo*

    Do nice people really exist? I was working in a toxic environment, so my faith in humanity is a bit thin right now.

    This week I got really supportive feedback from a company’s recruiter on how to interview for the next round of interviews with the company, even after if floundered on why I left my last job. I understood what she was saying and I hope I can incorporate these suggestions in the next round of interviews. I can see myself doing the job, and the company has a great on boarding process to learn the business. The company’s web sight stresses employee accountability and transparency, big problems with old job. I am afraid that the battle scars from old job will hold me back interviewing well, and if I do get the job, letting my guard down enough to be a good co-worker and believe that good employers really do exist.

    1. ineloquent*

      They do, and those scars will probably keep hurting you for a while. Keep remembering that you are valuable and skilled, and that you deserve to be happy.

    2. HeyNonnyNonny*

      Hey, just take it slow. You don’t have to burst into a new office like a Jolly Kool-Aid Man. You can be calm and polite and even warm without investing too much of yourself. Just focus on the fake it til you make it, and if you get that job, they can earn your trust like everyone else does. Good luck!

    3. LoFlo*

      Update – I just got a call from another company for a similar position. When they asked why I left my last company I said that “I know this isn’t normal to say – but the work environment was toxic and I had to leave for my health.”, rather than come up with something nice to say about shifting priorities like I did before an flubbed. They said that was OK because the hiring manager is really transparent and understands those type of situations, and she will be scheduling a follow up interview with me.

  48. Sarah*

    Anyone ever left a full time perm job for temp work? My friend hates his job (first one out of college, been there for a little over a year) and is considering trying to find temp to perm work. He isn’t all that sure what he wants to do, which I think is part of the reason his perm job search isn’t going all that well (it’s kind of scatter shot and I can’t imagine his cover letters can be super passionate about all the different kind of jobs he is applying to.) Any advice for him?

    1. LaLa*

      I’ve done it once and don’t regret it. I was in a very toxic work environment that had me on the highway to a nervous breakdown, so I took a 6 month temp job while I could relax and figure out what to do next. It worked well for me. And since it was a temp job, I’ve got an easy excuse for the short stay if that bothers and employer.

    2. Felicia*

      I did it, and i don’t regret it…though you have to be able to survive without a paycheque for a while and i lived with my parents – i left a permanent full time job i hated that was making me cry and that i was losing sleep over for a 2 month temporary job that i absolutely loved that was what eventually led me to the permanent full time job i’m doing now.

    3. Vancouver Reader*

      Yep. I left my employer of almost 20 years, having had some bad experiences in the last 2 departments. I went on to temp and it helped me gain back my self confidence that I do do good work and I got some good references from it. If he can survive not having benefits and all that, it’s a good way to try out a lot of different industries without looking flakey and you never know which company will fall in love with you and want you to stay there forever.

    4. LMW*

      I did, and it was a mixed experience. I was leaving a niche industry with low pay, and taking a temp to perm position was my first real shot at making the leap to a different field. It was also a 25% pay bump (but not on par with what they were paying perm employees). It turned out it really was a good fit for my skills and a great learning experience, but because of tumultuous times in the industry, I was never converted to perm. And I definitely didn’t understand the full impact of no benefits — no insurance, no sick days, no PTO. As someone who was pretty young and healthy, I definitely did okay for the first year (found a very reasonable emergency insurance policy through a broker), but as it dragged on and on it was really stressful (somehow I survived multiple rounds of cuts) and disappointing. I got great reviews, loved my job, and my last boss there was the best boss I ever had, but I still had to leave because I couldn’t deal with the uncertainty with no end in sight. And I really, really missed being able to take time off and couldn’t afford to take unpaid leave.

  49. Brian*

    I have been interviewing off and on for over a year. I have 12+ years of experience as a director of development (non-profit fundraising), and every interview I have has asks some variance on this question:

    “Sally, our major donor, has give us $20,000 every year for the past three years but now she is not returning the gift officer’s calls. What would you advise her to do?”

    Every time I answer the question, I am being honest: there are any number of factors that could be affecting this. What do we know about Sally? Did she have a change in her financial situation? Did she give to a specific program or because of a relationship with a specific board or staff member? Has she been attending our events and otherwise engaged? Have we been thanking her appropriately? Have we done a good enough job of showing her what her gift achieves and who she has been helping? Did she move? Did she pass away? Has the organization made a values or strategy-based decision that she disagrees with? Was a staff member or volunteer rude to her? Does anyone on the board have a close relationship with her? Who does she know that could tell us more about what’s up? Before you know the answers to these questions, and all the other ones that would pop up based on the context, you can’t design a strategy for moving forward.

    And every time I answer it this way, the response from the people I am interviewing with – body language, tone – is palpably negative. I am fairly certain that this question has been the turning point in more than one interview where it goes from smooth sailing to knocking me out of the running. Does anyone have similar experience with questions like this? Am I answering this question incorrectly?

    (or, should I chalk this up as a good thing – a way to screen out organizations with leaders who don’t think logically or have realistic expectations for how gifts happen and how messy relationship building and cultivation can be?)

    1. ThursdaysGeek*

      I don’t know anything about your work, but that sounds like an excellent and thorough answer!

    2. Mouse of Evil*

      That sounds like a great response to me. I think you’re probably on target with your last paragraph.

    3. Colette*

      I don’t think that answer is the way to go – at least not as a complete answer.

      “Well, there are some factors that might affect how we’d approach this. [list] But in general, I’d try to understand what the problem was and look at ways we could reach out to Sally to rebuild the relationship by …”

      I’d assume they already know that there are multiple possible problems. What would you do next?

      1. Brian*

        That’s a good point. Instead of talking about all the different possibilities, maybe it would make sense to refer back to an example – list the potential issues, and then say “but when i was working for XYZ, we had a donor disappear on us because of X issue and here is how we addressed it… and refer back to a real-life example. That way the question i am really answering is “tell me about a time when you reengaged a lapsed donor”.

        1. The Cosmic Avenger*

          Yes, I think that instead of a list of possible factors, they’re looking for you to say “I’d talk to the donor relations staff that have interacted with Sally and ask them about [factors], and if they had any leads on what might have changed. If not, we could reach out to Sally at the [outside charity event] or through the [outside charity event board meeting].” (I don’t know enough about these things to know if that last sentence would actually be a good approach, but it’s the kind of idea they’re probably looking for, only better informed by someone who knows this area.)

          1. The Cosmic Avenger*

            I’m guessing that they want to hear not only the possible issues, but more importantly, the process for approaching and dealing with them.

            1. Brian*

              That makes sense. The challenge is that the approach would be so different based on the factors that caused the donor to stop feeling connect and engaged – dealing with an angry donor who is mad about a change in an organization’s mission is SUPER different than dealing with a donor who gave because she was best friends with the board chair who stepped down last year… but i probably shouldn’t get so hung up on the hypotheticals, pick one and run with a solution.

              1. Colette*

                Or group them. “If she was having personal issues like a changed financial situation, I’d do X, but if she had been offended by something we’d done, I’d do Y.”

              2. Observer*

                I would probably be looking for an answer something like “well, the firs thing I would do is make sure that Sally is alive and well. But, if I was sure that she is ok, I would try to find out why she is not answering calls. That’s always the key.” Followed, perhaps by a couple of different scenarios you’ve seen, and an explanation of how you would try to go about finding out what happened.

                1. Sunny Friday*

                  Exactly. They’ve given you the situation and now they want to know what you’d do. So I would phrase your response in terms of your actions: “First, I would do some research to see if anything has changed in the past year that could be affecting this. I would look into X, Y and Z. I would also talk to other staff members and ask what they know about Sally.” Then explain what you’d do in various scenarios.

                2. Not So NewReader*

                  What Observer and Sunny said.

                  I think the problem is that you are answering their questions with a string of questions and NOT showing them what you would do.

                  They don’t want to analyze the situation they want to know what you are going to do about it.
                  Additionally, put these things in some kind of order. You don’t need to answer the first half of questions if she is dead. So figuring out if she is alive and cognizant should be the first step probably.

                  On the good side of things- you know your stuff. It shows here. Switch to statements.
                  Well, I have a number of steps that I would move through.
                  “The first of which I would ascertain if she is alive and in good health. It makes no sense to do anything further if there is a problem at this level. Generally, I handle this type of thing by doing X and Y. The second thing I would do is….” Keep using the same format, “If X is the problem then I do Z.”

    4. Chriama*

      This reminds of the case interviews the big consulting companies do. Instead of asking for a bunch of clarification, tell what you would do based on a set of assumptions. Or state “I would find out the following information” (only 3 or 4 ‘categories’ instead of that giant list of questions), and decide “x” based on “y” assumption. It’s even better if you can then segue into describing a similar situation you dealt with in a previous job.

    5. Persephone Mulberry*

      One thing I noticed right away is that you’re answering the wrong question. The question being asked (in your particular example) is not “how do we get Sally’s donation” but “how will you manage/coach your gifts officer”.

      1. Brian*

        Good point. (and some of the questions are how would you coach a team member, some are how would you re-engage the donor personally, so pardon my vagueness)

      2. unemplaylist*

        Excellent point! I tend to do the same thing you do — lay out my entire thinking process. Because, why wouldn’t my potential employer want to know how I analyze problems? AND I tend to start to ramble and not answer the question at hand. Now that you know you will get this question, you have the perfect opportunity to perfect your answer.

  50. Just 32 Flavors*

    I need suggestions on how to repair my reputation at work.

    A while back I wasn’t doing well at all. There were several reasons for that, but it ultimately came down to mental health issues and a toxic work environment.

    I developed bad habits during that time. I had trouble getting back to people in a timely way. I’d forget that I committed to doing something. Sometimes I couldn’t get my brain to do anything and would surf the web. I was so ashamed of myself. It sucked.

    People saw me screwing up and probably didn’t factor in the really unhealthy environment and relationships. And why should they? It looked bad, and everyone had their own problems.

    Things did end up getting better for me and I started kicking serious ass. (It’s hard to say which came first.) But, the bad habits stuck around, at least somewhat.

    We had a restructure and, rather than losing my job, I was promoted into a different department. My new manager was impressed with my work and had faith in my potential. He actually lobbied to have the position created for me.

    So… I’m doing well in the new job and am working on eradicating the bad habits. It seems to be shifting the negative opinions of a number of coworkers. My manager is happy with my work and so are his higher ups.

    What can I do to win over the rest of my coworkers? Is it a lost cause?

    I want to do well. I want to feel so secure in my work that I don’t care what other people think.

    Can I fix my reputation? And what can I do to improve my work-self-image, too?

    1. Jazzy Red*

      It’s not a lost cause, so don’t give up. Keep kicking butt with your work, and continue to make progress overpowering your bad habits. Unfortunately, there will always be a few people who will choose to not see you any differently. You can’t do anything about them, but by doing your best you will show everyone else that you are good at what you do and that you care about doing a good job.

      If it helps, you’re impressing me…

    2. LoFlo*

      Sounds like you did a lot of good things to turn the situation around, which is awesome! You can’t force anybody to like you, just be respectful with everybody.

      Maybe the fence sitters will move on during the next re-org.

      Since you have 32 flavors, not everybody is going to like every one ;>.

    3. LMW*

      How much time has gone by? Because sometimes, that’s all it takes — time. They need to see the results of what you are doing now, and they need to see that it’s consistent. (It also wouldn’t hurt to be extra responsive and helpful when working with people who have had past reason to doubt you. Sometimes it requires a little more effort.)
      This type of attitude turnaround is actually very hard to accomplish, so I hope you are feeling good about the fact that you are turning things around and that you recognize your past mistakes. Lots of people can’t do that.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Honestly, I think the best you can do is work to impress yourself and work to the boss’ satisfaction.

      Probably not the answer you wanted to hear. But, really, it’s the hardest thing to do. In the process of building yourself into someone you are proud of and someone the boss appeciates, other people will figure it out on their own.
      And there are some folks who will NEVER figure it out, I promise. Let go of those folks.

      I do question the goal of “I want to feel secure in my work so that I don’t care what other people think.” I am not sure how you mean that. Try to keep in mind that doing a good job DOES mean caring about what other people think. I guess I would describe it as “selective caring”. Alice give you editing tips that is a keeper. Bob tells you that you part your hair funny and your shirt is stupid that is something you just ignore. Care when it is appropriate to care.

      Work in such a manner that at the end of each day you go home, you look in the mirror and you say “I did my best today.” And the person in the mirror smiles at you.

  51. Trixie*

    I’ve had good luck with a new part-time job (group fitness instructor) and thinking about how I could do more classes. Not only earn more but acquire more training. A friend who has been teaching PT forever has been a good source of information and guidance, really getting me into instructing to begin with. While discussing other items with our mutual director, he took the time to mention me and what more I could do for the organization. Of course this doesn’t guarantee anything but his opinion carries a lot of weight and I’m so appreciative of his vocal support. A lot still depends on me but I’m excited to move forward which is a nice feeling.

    TL:DR Just a general shout-out to those helping others in their endeavors.

    1. nep*

      Exciting that you’re expanding your knowledge and experience in that realm. How great to have a resource / mentor / colleague / friend like that.
      I work in fitness and one thing I really like about it is how much I learn from colleagues as well as from participants in classes I teach. Constantly learning and becoming more competent.
      Good luck to you at that organisation.

  52. GrumpyBoss*

    Just watched an otherwise solid interview implode on a candidate. The way people self sabotage is amazing.

    He was interviewing for a swing shift position. We have had a couple of phone interviews, and both times, he said he was fine with the hours. Had him in here today for a 1/2 day interview. When I met with him, first thing he asked was if the hours were flexible. I responded that they were not. Maybe in the future, but there is no timeline. If something on first shift opens, I always give first shot to someone on an off shit to move over. He seemed satisfied and then we moved on. He just finished his interviews so I came by to say goodbye, and ask him if he had any other questions. Again, he brought up the hours. I’m thinking, “wtf? we just went over this… Did you expect me to change my mind in 4 hours?” Then I found out he had the same conversation with everyone who he spoke with today – including our receptionist!

    Why do people do this? Do they think they can pester a company to change aspects of the job during an interview? Geez… At least make me fall in love with you first before you start trying to change me.

    1. Sabrina*

      Well, I’ve had two jobs where I had the swing shift. One was relatively easy to move off of when the chance presented itself, the other was impossible. So it’s possible that he was trying to get a feel of just how easy/hard it is to change his shift. With the second job had I known that I was unlikely to ever change my schedule, it might have changed my mind on the job in the first place.

      1. Karowen*

        But there’s a difference between asking “how likely is it that I’d get moved to first shift?” (which it sounds like GrumpyBoss answered by explaining that second/third shifters get first shot at those openings, though I guess GrumpyBoss could’ve said something about how frequent those openings are) and asking if the hours are flexible when you’ve been told point blank that they’re not, not to mention GrumpyBoss being clear that that’s what the interview was.

    2. cuppa*

      As someone who has been continually pestered after a “no” answer this week, I totally feel for you!!

  53. AnonNona*

    Posting this anon and apologies for the TMI but it’s an embarrassing one.

    I keep having to take a day or two off work every 3-4 weeks because of excruciating period pain.

    My doctors are having trouble treating it because I have endometriosis and the matter is complicated due to my age (under 30) and they refuse to do too much in case it affects fertility even though I don’t want kids which is immensely frustrating because as an adult, I should be taken seriously when I say I want all treatment possible (another vent for another time that one) but I am really worried because I’m starting to look like a ‘flake’ in the work place and like that Gen Yer who takes a couple of days off a month to go sit on the beach or catch up on sleep. Someone older in my team made the comment I’ve had more sick days in my 8 months with the company than she has had in 8 years.

    I’m too embarrassed to actually tell my (older male) managers and supervisor about this, but I’m worried about how I look, what to say if they ask why I’m always sick. It’s also immensely frustrating to have to pay for medical certificates every time because I might as well set a $100 on fire every time I go to the doctor to be told ‘nurofen, a hot water bottle and rest my dear’ because I have to pay the gap for the consult AND eat the lost wages because I’m out of sick leave.

    I tried the pill and it was great for 6 weeks with skipping periods, and then the non stop migraines kicked in and I had to stop taking that and am now back to square one.

    What on earth can I do?

    1. AnonNona*

      And when I say excruciating, I’m not exaggerating. I can barely get out of bed due to the pain, I have fainted from it numerous times before and I constantly cry in pain despite having an otherwise very high pain tolerance (I walked on a broken two for 2 weeks before getting it looked at because it wasn’t ‘that bad’). My doctors have said the level of pain I get would compare to early labor contractions. It’s not ‘aw my tummy is a tiny bit sore’ but an actual life ruining medical problem.

      1. loxthebox*

        Wowza, that sounds awful. Could you claim something else as the problem like excruciating migraines or something?

        1. AnonNona*

          My medical certificates just say ‘medical conditions’, but I’m hoping to be able to avoid the need tog et one every single time because it’s just setting money on fire when there is literally nothing a GP can do by type ‘AnonNona is unfit for work today and tomorrow due to a medical condition’ and sign it off.

          1. Colette*

            Can you talk with your doctor about getting a medical certificate for the overall condition, not the individual instances? (You would, of course, have to talk with your manager as well.)

      2. Bea W*

        I don’t have any advice on the question unfortunately, but I have known people who had to have surgery at your age or early 30s because the awfulness was more awful than not being able to birth your own children. None of them regretted it, because it was that awful. One of these people is one of my closest friends. She had a hysterectomy more than 10 years ago now, and still says it’s the best thing she ever did. They left her ovaries intact, so she continued to have the benefit of hormones and not getting thrown into instant menopause.

        Have you consulted with other doctors or do you have that option? Maybe you can find one that is more sympathetic to trying to treat your condition effectively over preserving the children you don’t want to have if less drastic measures don’t work. (Never mind that there is more than one way to have children besides growing them inside you!) Infertility is the other common issue with endometriosis, and that was one of the arguments my friend had for surgery, that it was unlikely she could get pregnant normally at all (in her case due to a fibroid that blocked the cervix opening), so there wasn’t as much important to preserving parts that just weren’t going to work in that way and were causing major life disruption.

        1. cuppa*

          Yes. My mom had the same issue and ultimately the only thing that helped was a hysterectomy. Good luck.

    2. Colette*

      Tell them.

      You don’t have to tell them the specifics, just that you have a medical condition that requires you to take intermittent time off.

    3. Nanc*

      You’re going to have to be brisk and business like in this discussion. Can you find a male friend/relative to practice the conversation?
      1. You don’t have to give full-blown details. Ask your doctor for a letter that states you have an on-going medical condition that he/she is working with you to manage, but it means in the foreseeable future you may have to miss a few days of work every 4-6 weeks.
      2. Brainstorm some solutions for your manager to work with this issue. Can you work from home? Can you make up the time on other days or work longer days a few times a month. Are there coworkers who can cover specific job duties while you’re gone and you pick up some of their duties when you return?
      3. If you have regular meetings with manager, ask to add attendance to the agenda. If not, ask to schedule a short meeting to discuss. If you think it will work better to give him the letter and more info before hand, do so. You should have this meeting sooner rather than later. Again, you don’t have to give them explicit detail about the medical condition, but since it’s impacting your work, you addressing it and offering solutions is the best way to deal with it.

      No doubt about it, it will be awkward and uncomfortable but it has to be done. Do as much prep/practice as you can and do your best to make it clear that you want to find a way to make this job work. Good luck!

      1. voluptuousfire*

        Eeek, I can relate to a certain extent. I had endometrial ovarian cysts years ago and those caused horrible cramps, so I can recognize how painful full blown endometriosis must be. I empathize completely.

        Definitely look into working at home. Do your episodes last all day or does it last a few hours?

        1. AnonNona*

          It really depends on how my body decides to respond to the painkillers. If they decide to respond, a few hours, but it usually flares up again because I can take another pill. If the pills do nothing, about 36-48 hours :(

        2. Bea W*

          Ouch. I’ve had pain from cysts also including and one that was so bad I couldn’t stand up and even vomited. I can’t even imagine having to deal with that on a regular basis. No way. I couldn’t.

      2. AnonNona*

        I can practice with my Dad…..awkward but my mother died when I was young so he has done all this girl stuff over the years and won’t flinch. That’s pretty good advice though. Thank you, I’ll be coming back to this for sure.

    4. TCO*

      Do you know if your manager actually thinks your absences are excessive? Or did one coworker make a passive-aggressive comment and that’s all that’s actually been said?

      I think you could go to your manager and say, “I feel like I’ve been taking more sick time than most people here do, and I just want to reassure you that I’m working with my doctor to resolve an ongoing medical issue. It’s nothing life-threatening at all, and most of the time I’m fine, but I’m doing my best to find a treatment solution that will keep me from needing a sick day every month.”

      Is your period reliable enough that you could plan ahead? Maybe work some extra hours in the days before and make extra sure that you’re not leaving things hanging on those sick days? Minimizing the impact of your absence on your team might help them feel less negatively about your time off.

      And I know that no one wants unsolicited medical advice, and I’m sure you’ve tried many things, but I wonder if Mirena would help. It often ends or almost-ends periods, but the hormonal side effects are usually less than with the pill. Some doctors just aren’t on board with IUDs at all, so it might be worth getting a second opinion if your doctor just doesn’t seem knowledgeable or open to IUDs for anyone (versus just recommending against it for you based on your medical situation).

      1. For this one*

        I’ve had a Mirena for a couple years, and my cramps are a million times worse. And I spent hundreds of dollars on it, so I feel committed. :( I think I have a natural proclivity to bad cramps, and the low-dose hormone is just not enough, or not the right cocktail, to deal with them.

        On the other hand, when I was on the Depo shot, it was THE BEST. No periods and virtually no pain.

        But seriously, AnonNona, you need better doctors. If they’re not giving you the best treatment available because THEY think you might want kids, despite your insistence otherwise, they are assholes and you need a better doctor. Sterilization options should absolutely be on the table if you’re sure you don’t want kids.

    5. Judy*

      Not that it helps on the work front, but there are lots of different pills. It took 4 before there was one I could tolerate the side effects well.

      1. Becca*

        Seconding this. I was on 8 before my doctor suggested we try Seasonique (which gives me 4 periods a year). It still hurts when I get them, but the pain is no longer enough to send me home. She did prescribe me prescription strength Naproxen which worked well for about 4 years. Now she’s suggesting that I take a ridiculously large amount of ibuprofen. I’m skeptical, but we’ll see next week if that works….but I feel your pain. It really stinks!

    6. Chriama*

      You need to tell your boss *something*. If you’re in the US you have FMLA leave and should use it. You don’t need to tell him the root cause, just say you’re dealing with a medical condition that forces you to be off every so often. Your doctors are looking into it, but you wanted to let him know since you recognize that lately you’ve been absent more often.
      Also, see if your doctor can give you a note that this is a recurring issue so you don’t have to go in every time.

      1. Chriama*

        Also, maybe find a different doctor. Is he holding off on agressive treatment solely because of the fertility thing? He might just be risk-averse, since surgery always carries risk. Either way, there’s no harm in seeking out a second opinion — just make sure you don’t end up with someone who’ll tell you whatever you want to hear regardless of the risk involved.

    7. soitgoes*

      Say you have a standing dermatologist appointment or something. These people aren’t owed the truth, especially if you’re a bit embarrassed by it, and if they think you’re flaking out, you really don’t want to throw “hysterical woman” and all of the other stupid olde-timey jokes into the mix.

      It’s really no one’s business, and your situation doesn’t look as strange as you think. A lot of people take a half-day every three weeks for therapy and similar appointments. As long as you’re not taking more time than you’re entitled to and the days off aren’t coinciding with big deadlines, do what you have to do.

    8. TotesMaGoats*

      While this does fall into the “woman problems that women don’t really like to talk about with men” category, endometriosis is a fairly recognizable condition. Most people have at least heard of it, if not know someone who has dealt with it. While I get there is an embarrassment factor, I would just be upfront with your boss. “Look I have endometriosis and I’m working with my doctors to find a treatment but in the mean time this will mean I may have to continue to take intermittent sick days. When this flares? I am immobilized with pain and my doctors say rest and pain meds the best way to treat it.”

      FWIW, my sister had/s endometriosis and it took surgery to remove a bundle of nerves that are pain receptors in the uterus to help. She wanted kids and did manage to get pregnant but still has majors issues with her period. Migraines from hell and while on some of the strongest bc pills around she’ll still get her period for weeks. Yes, 2+ weeks at at time. Her doc is making her wait until she’s 30 before doing some radical surgery.

    9. Camellia*

      This is a perfect example of where “intermittent FMLA” would apply. Do you qualify for that?

      For co-workers who comment, I would say, “Yeah, and it sucks not getting paid! Trust me, I’d rather work and earn the money!”.

      I once used intermittent FMLA but had no idea that anyone had thoughts of any kind about it until a coworker finally said something along the lines that it must be nice to get all that paid time off. I was taken aback at first, but then realized they had no way of knowing that it was unpaid time off. I also realized that might have explained a few odd looks and comments that I had thought nothing of at the time. So I explained, and asked him to spread it around, and I think it helped.

      Best of luck with your treatment.

    10. Anx*

      Following this thread!

      I am lucky not to have any issue like this, but I’m concerned about how to approach my own issues with dysmenorrhea. For many reasons I am not on HBC. I worry that people will think I’m be unreasonable for choosing a few days of pain over a year of side effects. And that I will contribute to the idea that women create specific problems in the workforce.

      I only get black out pains once every few years (passing tissue), but every month I feel like I’m rolling the dice when I go to work with my period. And every month I do have that 1 hour of GI distress. I am in a client-facing position and usually just cross my fingers that I don’t show any signs of nausea.

      I’m sorry that you’re going through this. What are you most worry about? The awkwardness of the conversation? That you don’t want to highlight an issue you are having with your schedule that could be perceived as gender specific). Does your job require you to be present at very specific times to do your work (do you interact directly with clients and have scheduled shifts)?

      1. Bea W*

        As someone who was on HBC for a few years, it’s totally not unreasonable to decide to ditch that option.

    11. Jessica*

      Just want to say you have my deepest sympathies. I have the same kind of issues and although my current boss is very understanding, it can be really hard to get a male boss or a female boss who thinks you’re faking just because she was blessed with normal periods, to understand.

      I think you’re going to have to tell them what’s up. Maybe you could offer to work from home on those days? In my experience, cramps are debilitating for an hour or two, but then the rest of the day I’m fine and could work – but maybe yours are even worse.

      1. Anx*

        So true about other ciswomen.

        I had cramps here and there as a teen and thought those that went home were really ‘soft.’

        It wasn’t until I read about all the different issues that can full under the ‘cramps’ label that I really understood how ignorant that was. And I finally understand just how bad things could be when I got the worst GI stress of my life, chills, nausea, back and leg spasms, blacking out, and started passing atypical tissue one day, literally worried that I might be dying.

        Cramps are truly a very varied thing and I made it through my teens as a total fool about that. If it hadn’t been for niche corners of the internet and my own issues I could have carried that limited perspective over into adulthood, easily.

    12. Observer*

      Find a new doctor. I’m serious. If your fundamental problem is endometriosis, you should ABSOLUTELY treat it, surgically. Ironically, this is ESPECIALLY true if wanted children, because endo has a negative nasty effect on fertility.

      Find yourself a good endo specialist who will do the surgery for you. Just make sure that he actually EXCISES the endo lesions, rather and burning off the visible portions.

      1. Observer*

        I just want to clarify one point. It’s quite possible to treat endometriosis without a hysterectomy. What you need to find is a surgeon who does laparascopies for endometriosis. The two things you want to make sure is there the surgeon does LOTS of these surgeries and that they actually EXCISE the lesions. It may not work for 100% of women, but it’s generally quite successful.

        And if you still get push back about having children, point out the until you get rid of the endo, your odds of getting pregnant (assuming you were trying) would be much increased by the surgery.

    13. Buffay the Vampire Layer*

      I’m sorry you’re still going through this. The same exact thing happened to me when I was a teenager. It was awful, I would go into shock from the pain and pass out. Worse each month.

      But I got on the pill and it got better. Now that I’m on seasonale the pain is low enough for me to get through it with just a heating pad and some naproxen.

      GET A NEW DOCTOR. Your doctor is being actively unhelpful. There ARE doctors who will help you. They will work with you to find a pill that works.

      I know my advice isn’t helpful for your work problem, but you really really really need to get a second opinion on this. And when you find someone who listens, your period pain will be reduced to manageable levels, and you’ll stop missing work.

    14. Not So NewReader*

      I know it’s been said , but please get a new doctor.
      If you have to cue the bosses in on what is going on, pick one. Ask that one person if he would save you the difficulty of having to explain it to everyone. Keep it as short as possible. “I have female issues that come with violent migranes. Currently, I am looking for a new doctor because I need fresh ideas so I can stop missing time from work.”
      Two sentences, done.

      1. Chriama*

        I actually wouldn’t recommend the phrase ‘female issues’ because I feel like that might inspire subconscious sexism. I would either go with the medical diagnosis “endometriosis” or keep it vague with “ongoing medical condition that’s been treated by a doctor”. I would also leave out the stuff about finding a new doctor, because that’s over-explaining.

    15. Student*

      Go to a different doctor to be taken seriously. Go out of state, pay out of pocket, if you need to. Remember that this is about reclaiming a significant portion of your life! This is a big matter, and it’s worth spending money on. I sympathize, as I spent several years with period pain that was too severe to go do normal things. I can’t offer anything useful to you as a solution, as for me birth control took care of the problem.

      Another option, only if you are 100% sure you don’t want children. Get sterilized. Shove that in your doc’s face if they give you crap about not treating your pain due to fears of it impacting your fertility. There are sterilization options that might (emphasis on might) help you, like full removal of some organs. There are less extreme options like Essure, which is usually a short outpatient procedure that will allow you to return to work the same day.

      1. Been there*

        This was me. Pain that no drugs could touch. There is a high dose , continuous release Naproxen called Naprelan. 375 and 500. Very pricy . 20 dollars a pill. No generic. Yet for me it really worked. On the other hand . I do wish I had the hysterectomy 15 years ago.

    16. the gold digger*

      Why won’t they prescribe you some decent painkillers? I used to take anaprox for cramps. I would also suggest vicodin – I have never tried it for cramps, but it is strong enough that half a pill takes away the pain of oral surgery (gum grafts) but not so strong that I am loopy, as in, I can go home after the surgery and still work.

      As far as ibuprofen, I took it when it was still a prescription drug. My doc told me to start taking it – 800 mg tablets – a few days before my period. Something about having to prevent the buildup or whatever.

      I am sorry for your situation. It can be excruciating.

  54. The Cosmic Avenger*

    So I’ve got an interview for a Federal job next week (yay me!), but I’m currently employed, I like my company and my co-workers, it would be a longer commute, and it would not be a tremendous raise, if any. On the plus side, I’m feeling a bit burnt out in my current role, the benefits would be a lot better, and if they can offer me a very healthy salary increase I’d have a hard time saying no…as long as the work environment seems healthy.

    Any advice on what to ask? I’ll probably ask to speak to someone who I’d be working with every day, ask what they think are the best and worst things about working there, but how else to avoid making a decision I’ll regret?

    1. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Oh, I’ll have to restrain myself from asking about teleworking and flexible schedules, but those are very important to me, and the Feds strongly support that sort of thing as a whole. When do you think I could/should I bring that up?

      1. HeyNonnyNonny*

        I think you’d want to bring it up when you’d discuss any other benefits. But in my experience, each manager has their own idea on how telework/flex should be used, so it’s not always a given, and you’ll probably also have to wait out a probation period.

      2. The IT Manager*

        I agree. Ask when discussing benefits. It depends on agency/office, but my agency supports and encourages it. Lots of people who can, do.

    2. Megan*

      Get some concrete numbers on the benefits. I was pretty shocked at how expensive their health insurance plans were last month – I ended up turning down the job and staying where I am.

  55. Jady*

    How can you balance avoiding job-hopping while still trying to find the right career and/or company to work for?

    My first job was roughly 5 years in length until I got laid off about 2 years ago, and since then I just haven’t been happy. I left my 2nd job after 1 year, and I’m currently at my third and approaching 6 months. I’ve hated both of them and although I enjoyed my first job, I think it was probably a lot more about the environment than the work.

    I’m thinking now pretty seriously about a career change where I might find the work actually enjoyable, and I have one in mind that most of my current skills translate well into. I’m 29 right now and a part of me really wants to see what else is out there in the world and not trap myself in a career when there might be another one that is a better fit.

    But at the same time, I’m torn because what if I just hate this new career too? Or I pick another bad company? Or both? What if I try out another 2 jobs over 2 years and decide that I prefer my first career more? It’s going to look awful on my resume and I’ll have so much more trouble finding jobs.

    I’m really torn about this, because I want to be happy with my job, but I also want to know that I’ll still have a job in the future.

    1. NZ Muse*

      Ugh, my partner is in a similar boat (but minus a totally clear idea of where he’d like to go next). That last sentence of yours = bang on.

      Is there any way you can learn more about this new career path before committing – informational interviews with people in the field? Volunteering? Internships?

  56. loxthebox*

    Just venting –

    1. WHY do people take calls on speaker while working in cube land?? I’m not part of the call, I don’t need to hear your conversation.

    2. One of my cube neighbors keeps bouncing some freaking stress ball on the floor, off the wall, and brought the f*in thing to a department meeting today (didn’t bounce it at the meeting, but really?!) It’s driving me batty!

      1. loxthebox*

        I was fantasizing about freezing it in liquid nitrogen and smashing it or just throwing it at his face.

    1. Jamie*

      I may be able to help with the stressball thing. I was a stress ball tosser (put away the pitchforks…only in my own office and I have a door) but ever since I found smart putty I’ve never gone back.

      Silent, addicting, can use it on the phone, fun colors, and you don’t have to keep getting up to get it because unlike a stress ball it doesn’t get tossed behind bookshelves and spare monitors.

      I think it should be regulation issue for every office employee everywhere. And there are different brands – I got some from a vendor with his logo on it …best promo giveaway ever.

      1. loxthebox*

        At least you have your own office. The Thunk… thunk… thunk… thunk… from two cubes over while I’m trying to type a report makes me ragey and then it’s all I can hear and people would question my mental stability if they knew the horror my brain was drawing up to wage war on the ball thrower.

        This smart putty sounds intriguing. He might find his ball missing and replaced by this some day.

  57. LT*

    When an employee works (from home) in one state and the employer is in another state, which employment laws apply?

    1. Not So NewReader*

      I think we had a similar discussion recently. Someone said that it goes according to where the employee lives.
      I am not sure if you can easily find this, but it was fairly recent.

    2. Student*

      It’s where YOU work, so your own state.

      Beware, if you travel to the other state for business at any time, you can quickly run into requirements to pay taxes in both states. Most states won’t enforce this for a handful of business trips each year, but a few have a reputation for pursuing people relentlessly (New York, I believe, is pretty crazy about this). This doesn’t normally happen for typical work trips elsewhere.

  58. Night Cheese*

    Is this weird?

    The person who held my job before me just invited me out to lunch. She retired and was here for over 30 years. I’ve been here for just over a year and it isn’t a fit, so I’m looking for something else. That being said, I took the invite because it would have been rude to turn her down and I’m certain she would have told my boss (they are thick as thieves).

    Is this indicative of someone who can’t let go of their old job or is this a normal, friendly gesture? I’m nervous about the conversation because I don’t really have anything nice to say about this place. Maybe we can talk about the weather for an hour.

    1. Anon.*

      To me, it sounds like she’s digging for info. Maybe she can’t let go of the place. Yeah, go. Don’t say anything that could potentially hurt you. Maybe you can get some good information out of her. I’d take it as an opportunity to find out what she’s up to, and if she asks about things, give a safe and sane answer, then ask her what it was like when she was in the role. Turn the tables on her as much as possible.

      1. Night Cheese*

        Yeah, that would help mitigate the “fishing expedition” vibe I’m getting from this whole thing.

    2. AVP*

      Maybe your boss asked her to take you for lunch as a pep talk, or to talk about whether it’s a good fit for you?

      1. Night Cheese*

        I could buy the pep talk angle. I have excellent feedback from clients and positive performance reviews, so I’m fairly certain that isn’t it. The fit issue is more cultural than anything else and I don’t see myself here longterm.

    3. JMW*

      The “thick as thieves” thing is what makes it weird to me. Expect her to be pumping for information, and prepare yourself ahead of time with responses that will deflect the conversation back toward her. Anything you share will likely be repeated, so share nothing but pablum. If she asks about a troublesome customer, maybe you say, “I enjoy a bit of variety in my day. Do you miss working with customers?” If she asks how you like your job, maybe you say, “After a year on the job, I am still learning! What was your favorite part of the job?” Ask her about retirement, what she misses about work and what she doesn’t miss.

      You should avoid asking for advice, as you may be opening a door that is hard to re-close. In the future, you could decline such an invitation. You could say, “I really appreciate the invitation, but I prefer my lunch to be not work related. Thanks for understanding.”

    4. Not So NewReader*

      I think it’s weird. I would get to the restaurant late, have to go to the bathroom at least once and then I would have to leave the restaurant early.

      Given that you have already accepted, I guess I would casually mention to the boss. “Sally invited me to lunch, so I am going on x day.” Watch his reaction for clues.

      Definitely let her know that this lunch is unusual, you usually use your lunch for errands or walking, etc. That way she won’t feel free to call you each week.

  59. Ann Furthermore*

    I’ve been in the UK all week doing software testing. The director who attended the testing event was in the office in India a couple weeks ago. We chatted a bit about his trip. He was there during Duwali, which is (I have learned) a huge holiday in India that is a celebration of the triumph of good over evil and light over dark. People spend quite a bit of time getting ready for it, usually buy new outfits, and there are many gatherings to celebrate with family and friends.

    This guy’s manager, the Big Boss of that division, was also there. The Big Boss is incredibly tough and demanding. Any time he gets any kind of a whim about anything, the director and his team have to drop everything to accommodate him. This is the standard operating procedure in that group. I was in their US office a couple months ago — having gone there, and incurred travel expenses, specifically to do software testing — and the people who will be the key users of this program were not able to attend most of the sessions because the big boss had an “emergency project” and they were all assigned to work on that at the last minute. The guy is basically some kind of workaholic cyborg that never sleeps. They all work 60-70 hours a week on average, constantly — no ebbs and flows or peaks and valleys.

    Anyway — the director told me that while he was in India, he was in the office working on the holiday, but made it very clear to his staff that he did not expect them to be there too. He told them that he did not want to see them there, and that they were to enjoy the day with their families and said, “It’s not a holiday for me, but it is for you, and I don’t expect you to be here just because I am.” The big boss also came to the office, but did not say anything to his staff about the holiday, who then felt obligated to be at the office as well, so they worked that day. I asked one of my colleagues, who is from India, if expecting someone to come into work on the day of Duwali was the equivalent of expecting someone in the US to work on Christmas Day, and he confirmed that it was.

    So I’m just really ticked off on behalf of all the people that report to this big boss guy. There’s being tough and demanding, or even mercurial, and then there’s just being a huge clueless a-hole that thinks that other people exist only to cater to your every whim and desire at a moment’s notice. There is no way I could work for someone like that.

      1. Jazzy Red*

        At my last company, everyone in a power seat was either a relative of the BB, or one of his best friends. Most of them were clueless, and all of them were lacking business and social savvy. None of them could have climbed a corporate ladder anywhere else.

        Not exactly unrelated – I’ve been gone from there a year, and I’m off blood pressure meds.

  60. Joan*

    I have a dilemma. I really don’t think my current job is a good fit. In previous years I never truly believed in this idea but this job has made me think twice. I was hired into a different division in my company. It is a secretarial job as well as a small pay bump. To make matters a bit worse though my manager is a former co-worker who essentially got me the job. I am grateful to her but after only 6 months in the job, I am looking for other opportunities in the organization. It is just a little too much stressful for me. Honestly, I would like to work my way up and ultimately work for the organization’s foundation department. I am currently seeking my Masters in Public Administration with a non-profit emphasis. My question for everyone is when is it too soon to look for better opportunities. I am really in no rush and will not be entirely crushed if I am in this position for more then a year but I also feel I just can’t get the hang of things. I also don’t want to make my former co-worker look like she hired a useless employee either? Oh and by the way, if I do apply for other opportunities within the organization it is very likely she will know about it.

  61. Appleblossom*

    Looking for some suggestions on web based project management tools that are fairly inexpensive. I have thus far looked at Basecamp and do like it. Some considerations – We have a small team that is geographically split between 2 locations, most members are not very tech savvy and we do not need any financial/cost tracking. Looking forward to recommendations and comments. Thanks.

    1. Cherry Scary*

      Trello? Easy drag/drop interface, can track multiple projects if you have a consistent workflow.

      I’ve used it with a media network as a way to track articles/videos etc in progress.

    2. AB Normal*

      I don’t think you can do better than Basecamp. I do use Trello but for my own individual projects; for collaboration between geographically disperse teams, I think you’ll like Basecamp!

  62. A Teacher*

    We’re going to start talking about lateral violence in the workplace on Monday in my Health Careers course. I make sure to clarify what hostile work environment really is and isn’t at the start of it. Does anyone have anything they think I should especially include? I’m going to modify my presentation over the weekend. The students are dual credit juniors and seniors that earn college credit through the local community college. I have some real life examples but any suggestions are welcome. Thanks!

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Okay I had to Google lateral violence. Apparently nurses are mean to each other in nasty ways.

      I guess I would start by saying why we distinguish between lateral and horizontal violence. Then go into the difference between bullying and lateral violence. Talk about the impact to the patients/coworkers/department. Then move on to real life examples.

  63. Zillah*

    Will catch up with the rest later, but I’ve got a question and five minutes for a quick break. :p

    I’m currently working in a grant funded position that ends in December. I really like the work, my coworkers, and the environment. This is also my first job out of grad school – I finished in May and started here in September.

    I’m not sure what happens next.

    I want to ask if there are any openings in my field here, but I’m not sure how, especially since my supervisor is in the same profession and is also grant funded. And I feel like I should start looking now, bc the hiring process can take awhile, but I’m not sure how to ask if I can use either of my supervisors as references without seeming like I’m checking out of the project. And I want to, because I think that they’d be good references – I get great feedback and they keep giving me more responsibility and upping my hours, so I must be doing something right.


    1. wonkette*

      I think you should ask your supervisor now whether the grant got renewed. If not, then you should feel free to ask her about giving you a reference. I think that this is normal in positions that are grant funded because everyone understands that these positions have a certain time limit. In a previous position that was granted funded for a year, I was given a month’s notice and a promise of good references.

      1. Zillah*

        It’s definitely not getting renewed – it’s a specific project that’s drawing to a close, unfortunately. The department we’re working in might be looking to replace people who have moved on, but I’m not sure how to ask about that, especially since she’s grant-funded, too.

        1. wonkette*

          How’s your relationship with your supervisor? If it’s good, it’s easier to say, “I want to discuss my future at nonprofit x with you. I know my position is going to end soon due to funds, but I would appreciate the opportunity to stay and work with you and the organization. Are there any opportunities here that you think with be a great fit for me?”

  64. LemonLyman*

    Need some advice from this awesome group of commenters.

    A superior (but not my manager) routinely misses important deadlines, and I recently emailed her telling her that I needed something by a certain time to keep on track with our production schedule. My boss (and her superior) had told me to manage this process and keep us on track, which is what I thought I was doing. Then I got pushback that I should never tell her when things are due and that it isn’t my place to give her deadlines (also note that I’m managing our the dates that our partner organization set for us). I asked how she would prefer that I communicate deadlines to her and didn’t get a coherent answer- she told me I just need to understand how busy she is. Do I bring this up to my boss and ask how I should handle this? Was I out of line? This isn’t the first time this type of thing has happened and it makes me question my project management skills and etiquette. I have never gotten this type of response from anyone else I’ve worked with.

    1. Sympathizer*


      You are behaving in a professional manner and acting in good faith that your colleagues are as diligent about having a successful production schedule. I would consider this particular colleague to be an extreme outlier and not reflective of your management skills or indicative of any etiquette breaches on your part. Some people just lack strong time management abilities and shift the blame to others as a means of avoiding responsibility or adopting better habits.

      Please maintain your approach and keep an electronic record of all interactions with this co-worker to avoid any accusations of miscommunications. Best of luck to you!

    2. HeyNonnyNonny*

      I think the ‘was I out of line’ question depends entirely on if your boss thinks you were. If you’re comfortable enough, I’d talk to your manager and say something like, ‘When you asked me to manage this process, how do you want me to address keeping other team members, including those above me, on track?’ You don’t have to name names, but you could mention that you’ve gotten pushback and you’d like clarification on how you should perform this role. Hopefully this will give your boss a heads up should it happen again, and you should end up with a clear strategy for next time.

        1. Jamie*

          ITA. I’d go to my boss and say you need me to keep X on schedule, but Director PITA said I am not to follow up with her on deadlines. How do you want me to handle this?

          Keep emotion out of it and present it as what it is – a logistics problem. Your boss needs you to drive down the street but there is a kangaroo blocking the road. He can either deal with the kangaroo himself, or he can tell you how he wants you to proceed in re the kangaroo. If he’s outranked by the kangaroo himself he needs to take this up the ladder. His job, not LL’s.

          And in this case the kangaroo is a giant ass.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            I agree, the ball is no longer in your court, OP. She pulled rank, you can only turn and tell your boss that you are having difficulty and ask his advice.

            1. LemonLyman*

              Thanks, guys. It’s a borderline toxic workplace so I’ve really started to doubt my sanity and expectations for the workplace.

              I’ve brought up concerns with this person before (and she also reports to my boss), but he really hates confrontation and either I’m not presenting my concerns well or he’s not processing it (or both!). I think presenting it as a logistics issue seems like a smart move. I just know I’ll need to rehearse a lot to make sure that I just keep to this issue and specific examples and don’t bring up other frustrations.

    3. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

      It’s possible that the way you communicated was “out of line”.

      If she has her hands in 20 projects, and you’re running 1 of the 20, and you flat out just email “your XYZ is due 11/8” and she’s above you in the food chain, that might be out of line in your culture.

      What might be more in line is “Jane, for this project, I need the XYZ around about 11/7. I know you are busy with a million things, how does that look for you? ” Jane might have the world crashing down on her from a bunch of other projects. What would be productive next is if she came back to you with a date she could commit to.

      OR, maybe she is just being completely unreasonable, I dunno.

      Your job as the project manager is to get the project done, on time, which means you need to get a bunch of people to cooperate with you. I’d go to you boss and say, how can do this differently to have better results?

      Learning how to get busy people to cooperate with you and to favor your projects so your stuff gets at the top of the pile is a very, very valuable skill.

      1. LemonLyman*

        Great points. I used to report to her so I’ve had a lot of experience with her blowing through “gentler” deadlines and then ripping into me for letting her miss things, so I had hoped a more direct deadline (along with a reiteration of the timeline and a mention that I was asking for this earlier since I knew she would be at a conference during the major deadline and didn’t want to bother her during the conference) would help. She went off on some of my colleagues at the conference because they had let her miss deadlines, so I’m feeling like we’re damned if we do, damned if we don’t.

        You are so right about what a valuable skill learning to keep projects at the top of the queue, and more generally being an effective project manager, is. This site, and its savvy commenters, is the best PD I’ve found.

  65. Ali*

    Should I say something to my boss about this or leave it be?

    I work in media, which requires a 24/7 presence save for a few hours overnight where we don’t need coverage. This means we have to work holidays. My boss stressed that we can make holiday requests and he’ll be as accommodating as possible, but our team as a whole needed to be fair to each other.

    I have written in before about this coworker…the same one who missed a bunch of time early in his employment for his wedding, so much so that we had to make a special schedule for him when he took his three weeks off for his honeymoon/wedding. Despite my boss’ request that we all be fair and willing to chip in, Coworker has requested off for Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Christmas Day, which are three of our parent company’s recognized holidays. I am annoyed a little, especially since I got an earful about asking for Thanksgiving off but was still willing to work the other days. (I’ve since gone back and said I have some availability on Thanksgiving, which is true.) I don’t think Coworker is being a team player, especially since he had so much time off already this year and we had to cover for him while he was gone so much of his wedding month. Now he’s getting off a lot of major holidays.

    Can I at least politely raise my concerns, or do I say nothing and hope Boss is addressing it?

    1. fposte*

      Is your co-worker actually “getting off a lot of major holidays,” or has he just requested them off? Is there reason to think the boss would just automatically grant all holiday requests if you didn’t say anything?

      1. Ali*

        At my company time off is approved “99 percent of the time” per my boss’s words, so I have that as my evidence to believe my coworker will have his request granted.

        1. fposte*

          Holiday time off is likely to be granted? Then, thinking about it, I’d just keep my request for Thanksgiving off despite the respose, and if there was pushback note that some colleagues have requested all three holidays off and you think you’re being more than fair to request only one.

          In other words, don’t talk about what Bob’s doing and how it sucks, talk about what you want and why it’s fair to get it.

  66. Relosa*

    So scared and excited – just printed out my (five-week) notice.

    No job lined up in my new city, so that’s scary – but I’ve been trying for too long to hunt on a crappy income without one.


    1. SherryD*

      Are you a time-traveling me? I did the exact same thing earlier this year. It’s so, so great to be living in a town I want to live in. Being unemployed was nerve-wracking, but, paradoxically, also relaxing. And I got a new job in less than 6 weeks, so it is possible. Way easier than being a long distance job searcher.

      1. Relosa*

        Exactly – especially because I’m moving to LA, there’s just too much local talent for jobs that are open. I don’t mind picking up super crappy PT jobs because the location alone will keep me happy for awhile while I get busy networking and just working in general out there.

        Stories like yours give me hope!

  67. Brett*

    Well, this week at work we’ve been told to not wear work logos and scrub or make private all social media/internet connections to our workplace. Apparently there are credible threats to kill our employees from people with the means to do it. I think we are all developing real workplace PTSD here.

    1. A Jane*

      That’s frightening and very upsetting. I hope your work is supportive and understanding of all the concerns you’re experiencing!

        1. Not So NewReader*

          There are a few threats to police departments out there now. This is a “hobby” for some folks. I hope they have given you information. If not, please google and find out what it is you are on the look out for. I don’t want to say too much here. But remember, knowledge is power. Please remember not to leave any information discussing the threats out where it can be seen by passersby. And in some instances do not discuss the matter in public areas. We are dealing with some of this around here. Keep yourself informed.
          They are helping you, I can see that here. So that is good.

    2. Jazzy Red*

      Know where every exit and every hiding place in your building is. If you’re a woman, don’t wear high heels, or any shoes that might slow you down. Keep your wallet and keys on your person so that you never ever think about going back for them. Be alert going to and from work. Know whatever protocols are in place in case of an emergency.

      You might never need any of this advice, but it never hurts to think about what you should do if something happens.

    3. QualityControlFreak*

      So sorry to hear that, although not too surprising in your line of work, I suppose. Suggest active shooter training for all staff.

  68. lalla*

    Does anybody have any advice or resources related to confidence in the workplace?

    My mentor has fairly quickly identified that the main thing that holds me back is not believing in my own abilities and being reluctant to push myself forward and talk about my successes. We’ve been looking for way to help with this but when I search online the main information seems to be, “you need to be more confident, here are all the reasons why” rather than actual tips or things that can be done to boost professional confidence.

    Any ideas?

    1. Colette*

      What do you tell yourself?

      Do you tell yourself you’re able to do things, or do you tell yourself you’re not up to the task? People in general are very susceptible to believing what they hear.

      Can you tell yourself positive messages about your abilities?

    2. Sympathizer*


      Please let me begin by telling you that in my personal experience just critiquing a person’s lack of confidence, especially when serving as mentor, does very little to actually help anyone. You are absolutely justified in feeling perplexed and annoyed that your mentor continually fails to offer viable solutions to your perceived “confidence issue.”

      If you have the resources, namely time and good friends, could you engage is some role-playing exercises to work through any issues you have with repercussions of asserting yourself or changing your behavior? If it’s public speaking or making presentations that are causing you to appear lacking in confidence, perhaps you would consider joining a chapter of Toast Masters? It is hokey, but you might also try some self-affirmation exercises such as actively praising yourself reciting your strengths and accomplishments or by writing them down and reviewing them daily.

      On a related note, how do you feel regarding your confidence level? Have any previous employers or co-workers mentioned it to you in the past? How you believe you present yourself to others?

      My apologies that it seems I’ve interrogated you rather than answering your question. I hope that things improve for you.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Love your first point. Part of the mentor’s job is to build background so the learner has gathered confidence. grrr. I am wondering how much help this mentor is.

    3. Jamie*

      I never had a problem feeling confident as much as I had a problem projecting it.

      The whole socialized to not be rude or show-offy…coupled with my pretty solid self-confidence made me filter everything through filter to try not to come off as arrogant which can be a problem for me. Some of that problem is due to people misinterpreting reserved or aloof for stuck up and some of is that I can lean toward condescending when I am rock solid in my expertise and others are…less competent than should be tolerable for the task. Which can read as arrogance – but it’s not.

      My point being I bent so far backward to not appear arrogant and, when new to the work world, not wanting to overstep my authority, that I did come off more obsequious than I could ever be.

      Enough back story – what worked for me was training myself to talk to people in both word and tone as if they already understood and accepted that I knew what I was talking about. Imagine someone who respects your abilities is an observer to your conversations or behaviors. Someone who already knows you’re capable and intelligent, more than up for the job. Act with others the way you’d act with those who take your abilities for granted.

      Because I don’t care how awesome someone is at something in reality, if they project an air of uncertainty about themselves I’ve going to assume they know more than I do and will start to have doubts as well. Unless I know you well enough to know you’re getting in your own way – but that’s usually doesn’t happen until patterns have been established.

      And limit your apologies. My awesome mentor took me aside when I was new and said he knew I was “sorry for the situation” but others hear “sorry” as a sign of weakness or willingness to accept blame. I apologize when I’m in the wrong, once, to whomever is owed on and then immediately move on to proactively fixing it. If I’m sorry something sucks for someone else – “gee, that’s too bad.” Not sorry.

    4. Camellia*

      This is what I did to increase my belief in my abilities: I would pretend that I was on my own. No one around to ask questions of, or to call, or reach out to in any way at all. Just me. Then I would list out what I would do in/for whatever the situation. I would do this for small things (I have to access a file and I’m not sure I know how to do it) to large things (I’m on call at night and I GET a call).

      Then I would do one of two things. 1) Go ahead and try what I had listed out, if there wouldn’t be major consequences if I was wrong. Notice I didn’t say NO consequences, just nothing major. You can survive and learn from small mistakes. or 2) If there could be major issues in doing it wrong or if I really did not think I had accounted for everything, then I would take my list and go ask someone I knew could do it. Then I would compare my list with what they told me, make any corrections needed, then do what-ever-it-was.

      This method is self-correcting. You start with what you know and correct as needed. Eventually you will see that, more and more, you get it right.

      It is important to actually write out or type out, if possible, what you would do. Then when you see how little you need to change anything, it will really drive home that you CAN do it. Keep those notes and review them to remind yourself that you DO know how to do such-and-such.

      Rinse and repeat.

    5. The IT Manager*

      The Confidence Code: The Science and Art of Self-Assurance—What Women Should Know by Katty Kay and Claire Shipman

      No reason that most of their advice can’t apply to men too.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      One solid way of building confidence is by doing. Put your hands in and do it. I have used visualizing while I drive to work. I am on a new job. I decide that today is THE day to master task X. On the way into work, I try to picture task X in my head. I start with step 1 is do A, step 2 is do B and so on.
      If I cannot visualize the steps then I know I have to write the whole thing out. Then I go and do this task.

      You can believe in your own abilities because there are things that you have done correctly. This is usually cut and dried. You have done tasks A, B and C and the work was right. No gray areas here. The work was correct, period.

      Reluctant to push yourself forward. That could be more about not liking the job than actual confidence. Have you thought about if you actually LIKE the work? Do you think you have natural abilities to do the work? I think that if you do not feel successful at the work it is NORMAL not to want to push yourself forward. Of these points, I would work on this one last. First figure out what you do that is correct. Then figure out how to express that- what words do you use to describe your successes/contributions?. Then figure out how to push yourself forward.

      Talk about your successes. UH, most people have problems with this one. And, dog-gone-it, your mentor could help you with this one! Okay, so pick one thing that you did correctly. Describe it. Ask your mentor to work through an example with you, and then you do an example on your own. Write it out. On paper. Both times.

  69. Cheesecake*

    Is there any polite way to tell my manager that I really need her to be more informed about supervisor-related information?
    Whenever I ask her about position-related questions, she has no idea what the answer is and never tries to find out. I recently asked about the process of getting a raise/promotion, what an average timeline is, and she said “Oh I don’t know if we do that here” How can she NOT KNOW if raises and promotions even occur and are merit based or automatic?
    I also needed to use some FMLA for medical leave, and not only had she never heard of it, but she gave me a hard time about it and generally displayed a complete lack of awareness (“Well, you don’t LOOK sick”)
    I also recently told her that I would need to report some overtime for a business event that I was required to attend and she said that she didn’t know the rules for overtime with non-exempt employees and she thought I shouldn’t report it since it was a “fun” event. (It was not).
    I’ve tried talking to HR about these questions but it’s really hard to get a hold of them.
    Basically I’m only hanging around until our current project is complete, but in the mean time, any way I can say “Hey, I really need you to do your JOB as a manager”? There’s no one else I can really ask at work since she’s the only one with direct-reports (other than HER boss, who is always out of office)

    1. Rat Racer*

      It’s frustrating when managers won’t go the extra mile (or even extra inch) to help out with these kinds of questions, but it sounds to me like – apart from the question over promotions and raises – these are questions for HR. Maybe the problem is your hard-to-reach HR department. And maybe your manager hasn’t reached out to them because they are so hard to reach.

      1. Cheesecake*

        Ugh probably HR is so hard to get a hold of. You’d think a place with 25,000+ employees would have a better system for contacting HR.

        1. Rat Racer*

          I have worked a so many different types of companies: for-profit, non-profit, government, big, small and have yet to find a truly helpful HR department. (Apologies to the wonderful, helpful and accountable HR people who read this blog – this barb is NOT aimed at you)

    2. fposte*

      No, there’s no way to reprove your manager or to remake your manager. You can do some managing up, but that’s only on things that you have some control over, and promotions aren’t in there.

      Our HR is pretty hard to get a hold of too, but we’ve at least got some informed people on site. I’m particularly thinking that the FMLA thing could be a real problem, as they better not be interfering with your ability to take it. Do they just never respond or do they not address the topic effectively? Is there no employee handbook with FMLA guidelines? If you haven’t, I’d try a specific statement to leave a paper trail along the lines of your planned outage for FMLA and the relevant dates to both HR and your supervisor, and to identify which forms they’d like to use if forms are required.

      1. Cheesecake*

        No one has interfered with my ability to take it yet but they also have been less than helpful. I had to leave a half dozen voicemails to get any sort of assistance, and then, it took over 3 months to be approved. When I try to call or email HR about stuff like the overtime, I just never get a response. I’m really not sure what to do.

        1. Marcy*

          Your problem is HR not your manager. I would not be able to answer a lot of those questions either (not even the promotion/raise question) because all of those things are handled by HR and they don’t provide training to managers on those topics and they don’t really give managers good information when we ask but instead tell us to have the employee make an appointment with them.

          1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

            This is a very good point.

            While I’m no fan of the way the supervisor didn’t handle these situations, if HR can’t handle FLMA, the whole system is broken.

  70. Rat Racer*

    How do I get my direct report to stop pinging me all the time? He is driving me NUTS! I try to maintain a policy of openness and availability but I’m annoyed every time he pings. Sometimes it’s legit, sometimes not. I’m concerned that my annoyance is just mostly due to other angst over this low-performing associate, and I just resent being interrupted. Any good management practices on setting good guidelines?

    1. fposte*

      By telling him not to ping you all the time :-). Seriously, identify what communication works for you and explain that’s what you’d like him to do.

    2. Cheesecake*

      Since you commented on my comment… :)
      Maybe have a discussion with him about when he can use his judgement and not ping you, and when he needs to do so. I wish my manager would make the distinction clear because half the time she’s telling me to run absolutely everything by her and the other half of the time she’s telling me not to interrupt and use my judgement. It’s very frustrating to not know exactly what items I am able to decide for myself and which need her input. Also delegate: is there anyone else he could ask?

      1. Jamie*

        This. If he’s coming to you with the same types of things he should have a checklist of what he needs to do before coming to you. If he comes to you, ask him if he did A-F first and if not, tell him to do that and come back if the issue isn’t resolved.

        Thumbnail version is make sure your computer is plugged in before you complain to IT that you aren’t getting email.

        Also make sure he is clear on what calls he has the authority to make on his own. There shouldn’t be ambiguity on what he needs you to approve, but often this is not communicated. If I need people to own XYZ I’ll not only make sure they know that, but make sure that whomever might be pissy and push back on them for this knows it as well.

        Keep in mind not everyone intuitively knows which actions have high consequences and which don’t. Explain to him it’s okay to go ahead and try different flavors of tea pot lids with the caramel teapots, but never ever change the temp setting on the chocolate melter without getting an okay. Stuff that’s intuitive to some people needs to be clarified for others (and everyone when new.) There are two kinds of people in the world that drive me crazy – those who are afraid they somehow have the power to delete all data from the system with the wrong mouse click, and those who would experiment with a computer hooked up to nuclear missiles because they are fearless. I’ll take the former because annoying trumps dangerous any day and is easier to train.

        If it’s just to check in – some people need that more than others. Schedule a weekly one on one, doesn’t have to be long, to catch up on everything and if he needs validation that you’re happy with how everything is going he will get it there.

        That should cut down on the extraneous things and still leave you available for him if things come up outside of that and they always do.

        1. Rat Racer*

          This is all very sound advice. I find that mostly these pings are “I can’t find the teapot lid”
          “Should I ask where to find a lid?”

          I guess I worry that if I don’t tell him where to find the lid, he will type it all up in an email, which will take him all day, and miss the deadline. He’s just not very resourceful.

          1. Jamie*

            I’m familiar with that ping. Unfortunately the tips above don’t always work because some people really need constant hand holding. I think of them as sippy cup people. No matter how many times you give them instructions, documentation, work with them, train them, etc. their first default will ALWAYS be to run for assistance rather than to see if they have the information or could get it. And these tend to me people who don’t come to you with a possible solution looking for authorization, or really anything beyond a statement of the problem as they drop it in your lap – tag you’re it – fix it. Like a toddler with a sippy cup where the lid is leaking because it’s not on just right…they run up and wave the cup at you whining until you fix it.

            If they can’t learn to work more autonomously those kinds of people end up having more and more responsibility taken off their plates, because it’s easier to do it yourself than to explain and follow up. Unfortunately in some companies they can ride that out for years and for some it’s a reward.

    3. Anx*

      I’ve seen this term several times on this site and tried looking it up and getting mixed results.

      What does pinging mean?

      1. Jillociraptor*

        It’s basically any kind of contact. So in this comment, the employee is probably emailing/instant messaging multiple times a day.

        1. Jillociraptor*

          Oh my kingdom for an edit button. It also has the connotation of informal. So think of seeing like 30 unread messages in your inbox titled “Quick question: [Topic”

        1. Jamie*

          It’s an IT term. I’ll ping an IP address through cmd prompt to see if it’s available or if there are connectivity issues, etc.

          Basically shooting a quick communication to get a response back.

          1. Mister Pickle*

            If you’ll pardon me being pedantic – and old – “ping” in this sense comes from WWII sonar, when an operator could fire a pulse out and listen for a reply. The pulse sounded like ‘ping’. It’s not unlike what the ping utility does. And from there it’s not hard to see how it morphed to its current usage.

            FWIW, the best “ping” sound _ever_ comes from the beginning of Pink Floyd’s “Echoes”. Whenever I get a new computer, I install that as the default Alert sound.

            1. Not So NewReader*

              The term pinging was also used in fax machines lingo. One would ping the other as if to say “Are you there? And are you a fax machine?”

      2. Rat Racer*

        I was talking about IM specifically, which I find to be disruptive. (although calling is worse) I can set my IM status to “Unavailable” but I want other people (e.g. my boss, my colleagues) who need to reach me to have access. I wish there was a way for the “unavailable” status to show up JUST for this associate.

      3. Camellia*

        Didn’t it start with sonar stuff? I’m thinking of the “One ping only please” line from Hunt for Red October.

    4. Jillociraptor*

      I would tell him that you want him to answer more of his questions on his own first. He could keep a list of the questions in a consolidated email that he sends you once per day, or bring them to a check in. From your end, don’t answer what he pings you with right away, and always ask him what he’s done to answer the question himself first.

      A key here is making sure to incentivize the right behavior, so always respond to those consolidated emails but be more unresponsive to the one-offs.

      1. Rat Racer*

        I was talking about IM specifically, which I find to be disruptive. (although calling is worse) I can set my IM status to “Unavailable” but I want other people (e.g. my boss, my colleagues) who need to reach me to have access. I wish there was a way for the “unavailable” status to show up JUST for this associate.

        1. Jillociraptor*

          I think you can still encourage him to hold off all his questions til the end of the day, and just not reply as quickly to his IMs. It’s going to be a training process as you help him understand what he can solve for himself and what genuinely needs your immediate input.

          Another thought: what if you put two, 10-minute check ins on the calendar each day and gave him that space to ask questions?

          Though to be clear this all comes down to you need to tell him that his current behavior is inappropriate. It’s benefitting him right now to continue so he needs an incentive to stop.

          1. Rat Racer*

            This is also good advice. I think setting clear boundaries on what is a ping-able vs. an e-mail-able question will help him. Now comes the hard work of articulating just what those criteria are.

        2. Windchime*

          Just because he IM’s you doesn’t mean you have to answer immediately. What would happen if you just let his IM sit there….would he try to figure out the answer first?

          Unfortunately, some people just aren’t able to work independently. They want clarification or hand-holding for every single task they do. I hope for you sake this guy isn’t one of those people!

    5. Camellia*

      Also, I have to ask – you call him “low-performing”. Do you have him on a PIP? It seems like the steps others have listed here would be perfect for that.

      1. Rat Racer*

        This is my ever agonizing question: do I put this employee on a PIP? He is trying very hard, is super receptive to feedback, and does some things very well. His job changed significantly when another member of my team left and we were told that we had to absorb the work without replacing the FTE. So Direct Report is learning, and is outside of his comfort zone. Which is probably why he pings me all live-long day.

        He is also applying to business school, so he will eventually be leaving anyway. I can hear the AAM community in my head saying that I shouldn’t tolerate low performers, and that I shouldn’t take the passive approach of “Oh, well, he’ll be gone in 8 months anyway…”

        But it’s hard when you’ve invested time and energy into coaching someone. I genuinely like this person and appreciate his work ethic and willingness to pitch in. For the time being, my plan is to continue working with him, coaching him, giving constructive feedback, etc. I will, however, say something about the constant pinging.

        That was a long essay – probably much more info than you’d asked for. But this is on my mind a lot these days. Thanks for the opportunity to get it off my chest…

        1. A Non*

          Would the goal of a PIP be to help him improve or to document problems in preparation for letting him go? If he’s already listening well to feedback and is getting better rather than worse, it’s probably not going to do anything to help in that area (and it might be really demoralizing).

          IMHO “he’s leaving in 8 months anyway” isn’t a horrible attitude. How long does it usually take you to transition someone out? Would it be more or less wear and tear on you (and the rest of your group) to go through that process or to wait for him to leave? If you decide to transition him out, you might put the emphasis on ‘look, with the loss of the other FTE our needs for this job have changed, and you don’t have the experience/abilities to do it’, rather than ‘you’re failing at this job’.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          Tell him it is a requirement of business school classes that he be resourceful. Tell him to start practicing now.
          But on the fair side, go over his resources with him. That may take a bit- set aside the time and do it. You’d have to spend time writing a PIP, right? So either way you stuck-you have to put time into this situation.
          Also tell him that you will not be answering any more questions if he has not tried to solve the question himself first. Then stick to it. This is going to be hard on your part. But the more consistent you are, the sooner you will get out of this constant pinging.

  71. Dave*

    Tips on getting over a job you left?

    8 months ago I left a job that I had grown to really dislike. I loved my co-workers, but was increasingly annoyed by the level of micromanagement I was experiencing. I was also a bit bitter because in spite of having been doing the work of somebody 2 levels above my pay grade for the last year, various bureaucratic nonsense meant that I wasn’t eligible for a raise, even though I was told I was more than deserving. When I left, my manager expressed regret, said that they had had big plans for me, and said if I ever wanted to come back to let him know.

    I got a new job (lateral move) which is fine, if not amazing, and paid slightly better than what I was making before. I was dealing fine until I learned that after I left, there was a significant “shake-up.” I also learned that a friend and co-worker, who I had helped get hired, was the recipient of about a 30% raise. I almost certainly would have benefited in the same way from this “shake up.” (Seriously, there’s no doubt about it.)

    So I changed jobs, am now making a meaningful amount less than I would have had I stayed, and find myself trying to work my way back up from the bottom yet again. Obviously hindsight is 20/20, but does anybody have any tips on getting over this?

    1. Colette*

      Maybe your former coworker got a raise because you weren’t there. Maybe your former coworker was underpaid and is still making less than you were. Maybe you would have lost your job in the shake up. You don’t know what would have happened.

      If you are getting paid market value now, it’s unlikely you would have got a 30% raise – companies who pay significantly more than their competition usually have good reasons to do so (like a remote location).

      1. Dave*

        (I should clarify, it wasn’t a raise, it was a promotion with a raise. As I said, they are pretty rigid with their policies around these things and, being privy to the post-shakeup policies, I would have received something comparable if not identical.)

        1. Colette*

          If you’d still had a job, right? It’s easy to say “if I’d been there I would have got that, too”, but maybe they wouldn’t have needed you, post-shake-up. You weren’t there, you didn’t get the promotion/raise. You can either let that ruin your current job, or you can move on.

    2. Elizabeth West*

      Remember that you hated it. You hated being micromanaged. You hated the fact that they made you do someone else’s work without compensating you for the increase. They sucked enough for you to want to leave. No raise amount will make them not suck.

      So just remember how much they suck.

      1. Karowen*

        Yup – it’s like responding to a counter-offer. Yes, you could stay and take the 30% pay raise but (a) that is proof that they were treating you like crap and (b) it doesn’t change all of the other reasons you were leaving. You may like the money long enough to stick it out for a bit more, but in the end you’re still going to want to leave because you’ll still be micro-managed and you’ll still have been taken advantage of for years. It won’t make you happier.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      It could be that the friend is giving you the version of what is going on, as seen through rose-colored glasses.

      If your manager had big plans for you, why did he wait until you were giving notice to say so? That is not helpful.

      It took time for this to all play out. You are assuming the story is over. NO, that is not true. There will be more to the story in months/years to come. If you look at this one moment, it looks like you got shorted. We have no idea how this will look 6 months from now or a year from now. It could be in a very short time, you are back to saying “Thank heaven I am out of THAT place.”

      If you look at a single shot from a movie, you can see some very disturbing things. But if you look at the whole movie (the whole story), knowing what you know now, can you honestly say that this would have been worth waiting for? Those single shots from a movie, very seldom serve us and mostly torture us. It is the surrounding context that helps us to maintain balance. Look at the whole story and see what you think. You left that company for more than one reason. Is a 30% pay increase going to cure those other reasons?

  72. Nerd Girl*

    Does anyone else get annoyed when collegaues bring kids into the office for a “visit” regularly and then get annoyed when you don’t gush over them? Let’s be clear. I have kids of my own whom I would take a bullet for but I don’t necessarily like kids in general. I’m nice to other peoples children. I do the “he’s so cute” comment but then I head to my desk and put on the headphones to get some work done. Today a co-worker brought in her kids and 95% of the office stopped what they were doing to play with them. I didn’t. I stopped long enough to engage in some pleasant conversation, I gave the little boy a toy car I had at my desk and then I went back to work. Before they left I heard several people telling the little boy that I was a “mean lady”. WHAT???? I wasn’t mean, but I hate the whole idea that just because you have kids means I should stop what I’m doing and focus on them. I don’t expect anyone to do that with my kids, and frankly I think my kids are WAY cuter than any others out there ;).

    ***Oh…and because I will burst if I don’t say anything about it…I spent my lunch break online where I was able to get two tickets to see Taylor Swift this summer. My daughter and I love her and I’m so excited to finally be able to see her. Squeeeeee!***

    1. HeyNonnyNonny*

      Wait, you gave this kid a TOY and people started telling him you’re mean?? Your coworkers might be crazy, Nerd Girl…

    2. Chriama*

      That’s really inappropriate. Your coworkers sound inconsiderate at best, but if you want to preserve your relationships with them (at least for the time being), I would recommend making your exit a little more exaggerated. Mention a huge project you really have to get done, and then keep an expression of really intense concentration on your face while working. If you seem more sad about having to leave, maybe that will help you seem more ‘appropriately’ interested.

    3. loxthebox*

      Also not a fan of other people’s kids. Luckily they don’t show up in my office very often and nobody demands the attention of everyone in the office while they are there. You were more than pleasant to her offspring.

      ***Squeeee! Love the new album, pop is definitely a good direction for her

    4. BRR*

      If it were me I would approach the coworkers and ask them to please not refer to me as the mean lady, that I have project abc that I needed to continue working on.

    5. Artemesia*

      No advice — I used to have the same problem with people’s damn dogs — I can muster minor interest in someone else’s child but people who bring their dogs in and want them fussed over like children leave me cold. (Yes I was that mean cat lady, what can I say)

  73. Savannah*

    My brother is an RA for a state university with about 20 other RA’s. He recently got some feedback from his RD (resident director) that everyone in my family is puzzled by. My brother is 20 and its his second year being an RA. He is outgoing, engaged and very smart and has been organizing many student events for the residents, some of which go above and beyond his job requirements. In a meeting recently he was given the feedback that other RA’s find him intimidating and his RD told him he ‘needed to check his masculinity’ My brother asked for more information and the RD could not elaborate further. Has anyone received this kind of feedback and if so can you help me decipher what it might mean? My brother likes this job a lot and is excited about the events he is organizing.

    1. fposte*

      I think we can speculate endlessly, but we’re really not going to know, and the RD did a bad job of giving feedback that wasn’t actually useful. He might try again to follow up at a different time, saying that he’d really like to improve from feedback, and could a specific example of this problem be provided?

      (And if he’s running around chest-bumping, giving noogies, and amusing himself by picking people up, he should dial that back, but my guess is that it’s something less simple going on.)

        1. fposte*

          What’s he supposed to do about that, stoop?

          Okay, I suppose he could pay attention to the possibility that he’s using a volume that combines with size to be daunting, that his enthusiasm will read as larger than somebody slighter so he might want to reflect if he’s being outsize for small spaces sometimes.

          But I think he really could go down a rabbit hole of “what am I doing wrong? Should I change x?” and never know if that was actually the problem, and I think following up with the RD and doing a bit of self-reflection are the best likely steps.

      1. Jillociraptor*

        Yep, he needs to get more info and fposte’s language is spot on. If I were giving feedback that someone needed to “check their masculinity” (which is, ugh, the absolute most irritating “call out culture-y” way of saying this) I’d probably be talking about someone who takes up more than their share of the air time, interrupts/talks over others and doesn’t seek consensus on group decisions. It might be specifically that they privilege the perspectives of other men. This is usually not intentional, but it is common.

        Your brother could ask both for some specific instances and examples of this behavior, and also ask for examples of what the right behavior would look like. The latter might make it easier for his supervisor to articulate what they mean.

        1. Jamie*

          Agreed – he needs specifics. And the wording they used is so counter productive because the phrasing is so trite it’s hard not to dismiss it out of hand. I would have a hard time even caring enough to inquire about specifics if someone “called me out” like that, but I’m sure he’s a better person than I.

          @Savannah – fwiw I have a son’s who are in that height range, albeit skinny, and when you’re tall, extroverted, and good looking people treat you like you fill the room. That can be intimidating to some people, but if that’s all it is that’s on them. As long as his actions are not intimidating he’s not responsible for other’s insecurities.

        2. Savannah*

          I do think hes a little bit independent for a RA role that would emphasis group decision making and consensus. I know he doesn’t hang out with the other RA’s when hes not on duty. He got stellar reviews from his RD last year however and he was requested to RA the high maintenance floor in the building, international students. I think the idea of asking for specific behavior is great.

        3. Mister Pickle*

          Your brother could ask both for some specific instances and examples of this behavior, and also ask for examples of what the right behavior would look like.

          Absolutely this. “Check his masculinity” is literally nonsense. It’s like saying “he needs to hork his .bardarr” What the hell does that mean?

    2. Anx*

      It sounds like your brother is doing a lot of really great things for the role, but it’s a position that is extremely multifaceted and pulls you in a lot of different directions at once. So while I’m sure he is working very hard and providing quality programming for the residents, it is possible that he is missing a mark with his coworkers and other students.

      I really don’t know your brother at all so I feel kind of horrible speculating about this, but perhaps he isn’t evaluating how his gender affects his interactions with his peers and students. Hyper-masculinity can be off-putting and of course toxic. Male privilege isn’t always overt. Perhaps his programming is very, for lack of a better term, bro-y. Maybe he doesn’t understand microaggressions. He may be very boisterous. Maybe his coworkers feel that he may be escalating some situations instead of de-escalating them. There may be concerns about his ability to handle rape and sexual assault issues. Perhaps he’s engaging in casual sexism.

      I am sure your brother cares for his coworkers and gender issues. But at 20 years old he very well could have internalized some sexist messages about gender that he hasn’t full examined and worked through yet. It’s very possible that behavior that passed as completely innocuous and normal in most social and work environments isn’t conducive to this role as a resident assistant, which requires a greater deal of cultural competency that most positions a 20 year old would have been in.

      1. Savannah*

        This is the biggest puzzle of all of it. Hes a gender studies minor who gives campus talks on male privilege and is the head of men against domestic violence group on campus. He’s a bigger feminist than me. But he’s really trying to examine what he could be doing wrong here, in case there is some valid feedback in a poorly worded statement. I told him he just needs to go back and ask his RD to clarify what he meant by those comments.

      2. Senor Poncho*

        I don’t know, I think we’re all just filling in gaps here based on our own experiences with these kinds of things. My gut reaction was to think of the people who were the equivalent of RAs/RDs where I went to school, and I filled in the gap with overly sensitive RAs that looking for issues where none existed (e.g., based on the lack of specifics and the comment that “other RA’s find him intimidating”). Of course, god knows I might be wrong; maybe there is some behavior that’s problematic. I really can’t tell, and that’s *really* the problem with the RD’s comments in the first place.

        Still, I’ll say this — lack of specificity or examples usually means a lack of evidence, at least in my experience. And for all we know, maybe there’s just a personality clash and the RD and one or two RA’s just don’t like the guy. Regardless, OP’s bro needs to get this ironed out ASAP — politely and professionally, of course — by firmly requesting specific guidance as to what, specifically, the problems are and what, specifically, he needs to change. If there’s something that he can address, then he will actually be able to address it effectively.

    3. Diet Coke Addict*

      Is it possible that it’s not about his size or demeanor, but the way he’s treating female students or RAs? If he’s buddy-buddy with male students and treats female students/RAs very differently (whether more standoffish, or treating them like delicate flowers, or whatever) or otherwise making a big difference in the way he responds to different students–that may be it?

      But yeah, the director worded this astonishingly poorly.

    4. BB*

      Do the other RA’s feel intimidated because your brother is doing an awesome job while they are just meeting the requirements? Or maybe your brother is coming off as over confident/proud/…

      Maybe your brother or a resident he is close with can survey his other residents to gather their opinions of him (including his personality, how he is doing in his job, etc). He could also try asking another RA that he is close with. Maybe he/she can give him the scoop.

      1. HeyNonnyNonny*

        This seems like a good idea, especially since RD isn’t specifying. Another RA might know what others are thinking.

      2. Jazzy Red*

        This is the first thing I thought of. A lot of young guys will start attacking someone with inappropriate terms when they’re jealous or insecure. If a girl turns down a guy, she must be a lesbo. If a guy does better than other guys who are underachieving, he must be gay. Brother sounds like a great guy who goes above & beyond, and is probably becoming pretty popular. I can see that the other RAs might resent someone who so obviously loves what he’s doing and is enthusiastic about it.

        The brother should probably press for clarification. There might be something he needs to know mixed in the all the junk.

    5. Lizzy*

      That is ridiculous. No one should ever be told that their masculinity or femininity is an issue when receiving constructive criticism in the workplace (maybe there are exceptions but I cannot think of any off the top of my head). Now there are specific, stereotypical traits often associated with gender, but it should be specified as, “You are being too abrasive, aggressive, pushy, uncooperative, etc…”

      The RD is either unprofessional or perhaps there are people envious of your brother that led to this baffling feedback, which is masked under the guise of constructive criticism. He should definitely push for more specifics because this is unprofessional and unnecessary.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      My friend was in a meeting. My friend is a big dude- tall and definitely not skinny. The meeting was not going well- there was disagreement in the room. UNRELATEDLY, my friend, the big guy, stood up to reach something in his pants pocket. When he stood, the whole room GASPED.
      Why. For a split second it looked like my friend was angry and was getting up to go after the person he was angry with. He was just reaching in his pocket.

      It’s not fair. People are quick to assume. My poor friend had NO clue how he appeared in that moment. Do you tell him to remain seated because if he stands he intimidates people??? I don’t think so, but, people do get intimidated. Unfairly (for my friend), if I had stood up at that moment no one would have even noticed.

  74. Stella Ella Oh La*

    I just came out of my third interview for an internal position… It would be a great salary bump and an incredible title upgrade! I’m feeling so, so good about it but still trying to not get my hopes up. Settling for crossed fingers for now :) Anybody have an internal move-up stories to share? This is also a brand-new position, so I’m anticipating a rocky couple of months if I’m lucky enough to land it.

  75. Cruciatus*

    I seem to need to vent a lot… though I was fine today until this happened at lunch: I’ve complained before about the 2 women I used to eat lunch with every day who just one day went to another table without a word and started ignoring me from that point on. The evilest one has put in her notice (and I’m torn on wanting her to leave, but not wanting her to be at a better job!) and the other one will probably be alone at lunch. I’m mostly over the whole thing (despite still finding it ridiculous it happened in the first place) but I told my other coworker I eat with (who is friends with them both) that when Evil One leaves, if Less Evil wants to eat with us I’m cool with that. This coworker then basically said Less Evil was already planning on eating with us. I reiterated that it is fine with me which prompted her to ask why it would matter if it was fine with me. I told her that, well, they ignored ME. From one day to the next. Even in hallways (which was super awkward to watch!). She said it was mostly Evil One who did it and Less Evil probably won’t give a shit (that I’m OK with it).

    So I sort of got the outcome I wanted, but now I’m kinda pissed that everyone seems to think my feelings are worthless! If she had just said “Oh, Less Evil was worried about it but was planning to join us anyway” I wouldn’t be so irritated. Sigh. Even with Evil One leaving, I still can’t wait to find a work place where people actually seem to like me instead of tolerate me and acknowledge that completely ignoring people for stupid reasons (the reason is stupid, I basically don’t discuss things correctly–though I was often in conversation desperation mode because they never asked me ANYTHING so the conversational burden was on me–I’d ask about their families, activities, anything we had in common, and get one word answers and no questions back. I’m pretty agreeable and will talk about almost anything! (And I did also try just sitting there quietly but that didn’t make me more likeable)). They were just never going to like me and that’s fine…but please don’t act like what you did was normal and that I’m stupid for being bothered by it in the beginning. /end rant

    1. Colette*

      Something’s very broken there – including with the coworker you currently eat with.

      Personally, I’d try to find something else to do at lunch – although that would just encourage them to talk behind your back.

      1. nep*

        So let them talk behind your back — who cares? Being bothered by people one dislikes talking behind one’s back makes no sense.

    2. Jamie*

      Not sure why your take away from this is that everyone thinks your feelings are worthless.

      I understand your feelings were hurt, so of course this is a point of focus for you – but tbh I can’t imagine anyone else would be giving it a lot of thought. I would find it off-putting if someone mentioned to me they were okay with someone else joining us for lunch, because that kind of approval isn’t a thing in the workplace. That’s not something I’d have even thought about since early high school.

      My advice would be to take it less personally and know that the other woman isn’t eating lunch nor is the co-worker with whom you currently eat wondering why it matters at you. Your feelings having been hurt before is probably why you’d have liked an acknowledgement or even some remorse – but my perspective is that of an outsider and truly most people aren’t that emotionally invested in talking to people at work or who they eat with. Sure, if people are super close friends and one ends the friendship leaving the other confused…I’m sure that stings. But from your last paragraph it seems you weren’t friends as the conversation wasn’t reciprocal…so this is likely a non-issue to them. Certainly to the one with whom you eat who seems to be outside the drama.

      I’d take the opportunity to start anew …sometimes one person leaving can change the group dynamic and it may be pleasant going forward.

      1. Colette*

        This is a much better response.

        I do think that if people are blatantly ignoring you like you’re all six, it’s odd for someone you eat lunch with to not know about it/invite them to join you for lunch – but Jamie is absolutely correct that they don’t need your permission. Eat lunch with them or do something else – and expect/allow them to do the same.

        But really, work is not about friends. Friendly is nice, but you’re giving these people way too much influence over your feelings. If you don’t like the way they treat you during your own time (lunch), do something else.

        1. nep*

          Yeah — this. Giving other people way too much power here. And spending a lot of time and energy on negative stuff, it seems.

      2. Cruciatus*

        It probably doesn’t matter, but perhaps it helps to understand that my workplace is super cliquey and lots of people do hang out outside of work–in fact it’s more the norm than not. There were 5 of us who ate together every day for about 8 months. The other 4 were all good friends outside of work, and I am friends with 2 of them (the other 2 not previously mentioned as evil or less evil). Then I did whatever I did and the 2 broke away without a word (which is, of course, their right, but it was weird and definitely noticed by everyone: “why aren’t you eating with Blah and Blah anymore?” “Dunno, you’ll have to ask them.”) So they then ignored me for over a year while I continued to eat with the other two…and now that the one is leaving, the other one will be alone at lunch. So in case anyone wondered, I wanted them to know it was cool with me if she joined us. I still don’t think it’s weird that I was giving “permission” of sorts. I think it’s weird that no one considered that it might make me even the slightest bit uncomfortable (it didn’t, but it’s not the point!). So that’s why I feel like my feelings were considered worthless. I wasn’t looking for an apology or this or that. I just would have liked one person in that group to have asked “Hey, Cruc, you cool with that?”

        And I promise to others I am not sitting and thinking about this for hours a day or anything. I had learned to live with the “new normal” and even started to enjoy it. But then yesterday’s lunch happened so I was just mildly irked. I mean, I still say ignoring a person from one day to the next is bizarre behavior (and you’ll just have to trust me that I’m not a sociopath or something). And now we’re just going to pretend like it never happened–and apparently it’s terrible of me to even have realized it happened and to bring it up to anyone. I find this strange.

        So anyway, I really am looking at it as a fresh start. I’m also looking at getting the hell out of there. Whichever comes first….

    3. Not So NewReader*

      I don’t think I’d spend a lot of time on this one. None of these people sound like best friend or life long friend material anyway. Just accept them as is, where is and go about your day.

      I understand the importance of having a good friend at work. People who do, tend to last longer at their jobs. Maybe that is the real issue here, the job itself.

  76. GracieLou*

    How do I talk to my boss about career advancement when I’m not entirely sure what I want to do in the future?

    I’ve been at my current job for nearly a year and have been told that my manager is more than happy with my work. I’m part-time, but I found out that he is currently pushing to have me made full-time within the next few months. Although I really enjoy many of the projects I work on here, I’m beginning to worry that I’m not really gaining experience that will help propel me forward into a “better” position later. That said, I’m not sure WHAT I want to do in the future. My background is in graphic design and I’m still a relatively young worker with only one job prior to this. I want to be able to build up my portfolio and “expand my horizons”, so to speak but I’m not sure how to approach this with my boss when I’ve been brainstorming and still can’t seem to come up with a game plan.

    1. Jillociraptor*

      A good place to start could be exploring your strengths with your boss. What are you particularly good at and could develop into deeper or further reaching impact?

      Think about how you could move from having your work impact your immediate team to collaborating across teams, or across the organization. Could you go from mostly executing on others’ ideas to developing your own initiatives or projects, or taking on your own clients?

      Even if you don’t know what you want to do, I think you can consider some cross-cutting skills you can develop, like initiating solutions independently and working across multiple functions. (These are both things that I’ve found are big stepping stones for people moving from entry level to higher level work.)

      1. GracieLou*

        Thank you!
        I think the biggest hurdle here would be convincing my boss that I DO have the potential to take on bigger projects that might expand into involving other teams and units. He has seemed hesitant to put me on any project that’s not solely design-based, even when I’ve expressed that I’m open to trying something new. But, the way you have this worded is exactly what I need to bring up to my manager when we sit down and talk, so this is extremely helpful!

  77. Thumper*

    So I work in wholesale, and a customer of ours (we’re friendly) just texted me that he’s applied for a job at one of my suppliers, and asked if I could put in a good word for him.
    Funny thing is, I applied for the same position. I really don’t want to tell him that I applied, but should I respond at all?

    1. Not So NewReader*

      This answer is probably too late. But I would just say “I have to ask my boss if this is okay to do.” OR “I think because my company has a relationship with the other company, I don’t think I am allowed to recommend people.”

  78. Amaryllis*

    With all these stories about domestic violence and DUI arrests in pro sports, I was curious how most workplaces handle employees getting arrested / charged / convicted. I hope never to have to deal with this issue but I also think it would be good to have a policy in writing and to make staff are aware of said policy. I’m sure it would be quite a stressful situation.

    So – how does your workplace handle this?

    1. Elizabeth*

      Healthcare here. It depends on the position, the offense, and whether or not the offense affects their ability to maintain any professional licenses required for the position. If it is an offense for which they are not able to get bail, they are allowed to take unpaid leave until the disposition of the case is complete (plea, trial is done, case is dropped).

      If they are convicted or plead guilty and the offense affects their license? They’re gone. If they are serving significant incarceration, beyond what they have PTO to cover, even if they don’t have a license that it might impact, they’re gone, but for attendance issues.

      Over the 20 years I’ve been here, I can remember a child sex abuse case (plea deal/fired), a meth production case (conviction at trial/fired), a public nudity/indecency (diversion agreement that let him keep his job) and multiple DUI’s (most get diversion agreements for first offense; one got fired for the second offense since she lost her professional license out of it).

    2. CAA*

      Check your state law before you write any policy. There are places where you cannot hold this against an employee. I know Wisconsin has some specific rules on arrests, but I can’t remember them exactly.

    3. Mister Pickle*

      I think my company is like a lot of companies in that one is “innocent until proven guilty”. Depending on the offense, they may be sent home on paid leave until the matter is resolved. If they plead or are found guilty, they will probably be fired.

      We had a very senior exec get nailed for fraud not too many years ago. My company has its faults, but I gotta hand it to them: despite his position, he didn’t receive any special VIP treatment.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Check with your legal department and also check with your insurance company. Having an employee with a DUI might drive premiums through the roof.

      In my state, an employer has to sign a waiver saying that they understand that the employee has a DUI. If the employee does not drive for the company, not even on rare occasion that might change things a little bit.

      There are services out there that your company can subscribe to and run license checks. Typically you would notify employees that you will be using this service.

      As far as DV, you really need to talk to your company attorney. These charges get reduced or withdrawn. Ugh. It’s just real sticky. Writing a policy for DUIs will be more straightforward.

      1. Greggles*

        I work for a huge financial institution. Getting arrested is one thing but being convicted to or pleading guilty to certain crimes automatically bars you from working in a financial institution due to federal and other governmental regulations.

  79. Ellen Fremedon*

    I got a job offer, my first in over a year of searching! Since I’ve been unemployed for the last ten months of that time, I’m taking it (or will, if we can negotiate around the days I already have travel planned).

    The salary is effectively what I was making at my last job, and it’s in the field that I’ve been trying to transition into. Unfortunately, it’s also a ninety-minute commute each way, a client I’m not at all crazy about, and a contractor that, even this early on, seems awfully dysfunctional. Unless the onsite staff turn out to be the nicest and nerdiest coworkers imaginable and regularly throw half-day kitten parties in the office, I’m just going to be using this as a stepping stone to the next job.

    How long, if at all, I should pause the job search before I start looking again?

    1. Jady*

      I’m just an average worker, but I would say do not stop looking. You’ve already seen how hard it is, having to search for 10 months.

      1. Ellen Fremedon*

        This is my inclination, too. But it does mean I may end up having to explain at an interview why I’m searching within my first couple of months at a new employer, and that’s not likely to look good.

        (The best case might be if any of the jobs I’ve already applied to, some of which I know have really long hiring timelines, get back to me in the next few weeks.)

  80. Lizzy*

    After 3.5 years of underemployment and inconsistent work opportunities to make ends meet (i.e. temping, freelancing, internships, etc), I have found a permanent position doing what I want: I am going to be the Marketing and Development Coordinator at a performing arts organization. I start November 17th and couldn’t be more ecstatic.

    But I am trying to figure out how to manage my new schedule and how to productively spend my last free week. I got too use to sleeping, eating and running errands at odd hours. Other than a 6-month temping gig at a bank last year, I haven’t had a traditional 40-50 work schedule. I would often work on my freelance gigs in the wee hours of the morning, or work a weekend/evening gig at a trade show or event.

    Anyone experience something similar? Any tips for acclimating?

    1. A.*

      First, CONGRATS!!! I’m so happy for you! Secondly, I was unemployed for 11 months before I got my present job. It took a few weeks for me to get back into having a ‘normal’ routine, especially my sleep pattern. Spend your last week waking up early in the morning and going to sleep at a standard time. And if you’re like I was, you’ll be exhausted your first day and week, but with some time you’ll be right back on a regular work schedule.

      1. Celeste*

        Agree completely on sleep acclimation. I would also use the week to grease the skids in other ways–make sure clothing is good to go (drycleaning, shopping, ironing if needed), finish errands, make an easy meal plan. The first couple of weeks usually leave me feeling mentally drained, and having easy evenings is a help.


      2. Lizzy*

        Awww, thank you!

        Yeah, I am projecting that I will probably deal with the “sleep schedule readjustment blues” for a few weeks. And since my week 2 overlaps with the holiday, I have to make sure to be vigilant about not sleeping in.