open thread – December 12, 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 :)

{ 877 comments… read them below }

  1. Anie

    Just a rant. I got into it with a co-worker yesterday. ITGuy was complaining about bad weather and making sure everyone’s computers can be accessed from home. He mentioned my computer was particularly annoying to set up for some reason.

    I was surprised and said he must be thinking of someone else’s computer because he’s never set that up for me, but I’d appreciate if he would as I had some issues last year with deadlines and unexpected snow days.

    He then switched to saying he didn’t think I needed it. When I briefly outlined my reasons, he then began saying I needed upper management approval. I was getting kind of annoyed, so I said we’d just talk about it before the next snow storm. While I tried walking away, he followed me, still saying I didn’t need it.

    At this point my boss poked her head out of her office and backed up my reasons. Basically said what I had. He then said, “When you say it, it sounds like a business plan; when she says it (meaning me) it sounds like whining.”

    I did not respond well to that. He walked away, but only about 5 feet where he found a new, random co-worker with which he could continue to complain. I had to listen to ITGuy loudly commenting about how there’s a pecking order and my job isn’t as important as others, like Marketing.

    Hmm, I’m in editorial. If I miss my deadline, there’s nothing to publish. If there’s nothing to publish, what can the marketers, you know, market?

    1. Preston

      IT guy was rude. However working on an Helpdesk straight out of school, it is the most thankless job. Not defending what he said, just context. Good that your boss stuck up for you though.

      1. Anie

        He’s one of the highest paid people in my office and routinely is thanked by the COO for various projects. II doubt that’s where he’s coming from.

        1. Preston

          Wow. Wish I could have found that job back in the day. I slogged through Helpdesk work for about two years. So glad I don’t do that anymore.

    2. Artemesia

      Why isn’t the boss disciplining this guy for this undermining behavior demonstrated in front of him or her?

      1. Anie

        ITGuy’s boss is out of office until Tuesday. A different department head apparently did email him yesterday about the issue. I doubt ITGuy will get any blowback, but I’ve had three department heads and the office manager tell me I will be set up with the work-from-home program for snow days. At least they don’t find my work unimportant, so that’s something.

        1. Preston

          Wow. Wish I could have found that job back in the day. I slogged through Helpdesk work for about two years. So glad I don’t do that anymore.

        2. HR Manager

          75% of IT guys I’ve worked with know very little about the company business (better when it’s tech start up) and show little interest in doing so. And this is coming from someone who’s supported corporate IT for most of my career, and have had good relationships with the departments. We have company meetings where we talk about results, goals, etc, and most of the IT team opts out of this, while everyone else goes. I guess – you really can’t take it personally, even if this guy is being an a$$, because a lot of them are clueless about this stuff.

    3. danr

      “Hmm, I’m in editorial. If I miss my deadline, there’s nothing to publish. If there’s nothing to publish, what can the marketers, you know, market?”
      Exactly…

    4. Jenna

      You have to look at it from the IT guys perspective. I personally would of reacted the same but instead of agreeing with the boss who poked her head out of the window, I would have smiled and thanked her but went with the IT opinion. The person in charge of computers is in charge for a reason one little glitch can and will mess it up stick with your guy but thank your boss.

      1. MJ (Aotearoa/New Zealand)

        IT aren’t really in charge of who is required to have the ability to work from home, though. That’s up to managers.

  2. LeetahElf

    How did you discover the career that made you happy?

    I graduated from college a couple years ago so I know I’m at the start of my career. I’ve had a normal post-graduate career path of moving from part-time retail to full-time office work. The problem is I still don’t know for sure what I want to do with my life. I’m okay where I am right now, really grateful to have a job in this economy and in a good work environment with good people (something that I know I’m lucky to have after reading so many posts here). It’s a bit dull and not terribly engaging but I’m happy here for the moment.

    I also know this isn’t where I want to be for the rest of my life… but I don’t know what I want to do for the rest of my life. I envy my friends who have known for years what they want to do because I’ve never had that vision. I’m feeling a little lost at present, I don’t know where I’ll be happy. How did you find the job that is the ‘fit’ for you? Or are you still looking for it too?

    (I’m writing this after a rough morning at my job so I’m sorry if this is phrased in a weird way; I’m a bit emotional right now)

    1. Sandy

      I would suggest not thinking about it as “the rest of your life” and aiming for five year increments instead.

      For one thing, it’s more manageable and less intimidating. For another, what interests you, makes you happy and/or what you want in a job are necessarily going to change over the course of the rest of your life.

      I was fortunate enough to get my ‘dream job’ a few years out of school. I have thoroughly enjoyed it since then, but the goalposts are moving. That’s a good thing! I’ve had fantastic opportunities, learned a ton, and met fantastic people over the course of ten years. Wouldn’t trade those years for the world- but I’m starting to look elsewhere.

      My life circumstances have changed, my priorities are changing, and my industry is changing you. These are good things! My colleagues who have the hardest time adjusting to their own changes and the ones inherent in our jobs are the ones who felt they were in it for life- they have the most to lose.

      1. Serin

        Absolutely agree with this. Even if you happened on the Best Thing Ever, after twenty years or so, either the job would change or you would change or you’d just get bored.

        I came out of school into a career that I was wildly unsuited for, but now that I’m moving in a better direction, I’m finding that the skills I built during those years are (1) vital to what I really want to do, and (2) kind of unusual in this field. So as long as you’re learning and practicing, you’re never wasting time.

        1. cuppa

          Yes. This. I still use skills from jobs that I hated and were dead-end – they really have transferred and got me to where I am today.

    2. Gene

      I got lucky. Really.

      I got out of high school and went into the Navy as a Nuke operator for 7 years. When I got out at the height of the early 80s recession I took about a year and a half to find RealJob; working at an auto parts store and as a nighttime disatcher for an air ambulance. When that ended I was applying for anything I was remotely qualified for and got an interview for one of those things. Since I had problems answering most of the questions as I was very remotely qualified (as in breathing), the hiring manager and I ended up spending most of the time in the interview shooting the breeze about being in the Navy in Western Washington; he was on a PT boat out of Oak Harbor in WWII.

      Luckily, it was a relatively new field of regulation, so I wasn’t competing with anyone with experience (no one had any direct, in-field experience). I got hired and discovered I really like what I do and have been doing it since 1982, now at my third city doing what I do.

      Now that the filed has matured, though I’m a recognized expert, I probably couldn’t get hired as an entry-level tech. :-)

      1. Gene

        A little expansion on that last sentence.

        Now that the field ahs matured, nearly every place requires at least a Bachelor’s Degree in science and Civil Service hiring being what it is, I’d never make it past the initial HR screen.

    3. College Career Counselor

      Up until fairly recently, I would have said “I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up!” That said, every job I have had has involved working with people trying to meet goals of some kind, and I really enjoy it. I have been exceedingly fortunate to have landed in higher education, because it’s a good fit for me and because I am able to work with students who are interesting, passionate, curious, motivated (for the most part) and engaged with many different things. (As I said, I’ve been incredibly lucky–I have also heard horror stories about students.)

      I have long since moved on from my first job in higher education, but I have kept in mind the aspects that make the work interesting and meaningful to me. 1) I like providing information and resources to people and helping them solve problems/maximize possibilities. 2) I like creating programs 3) I enjoy making connections and inspiring people.

      My advice to you is to think about the things that you like doing, as well as the ones that you DON’T (I will never be a full-time event planner–I have a lot of respect for those who do it all day, every day) to see if there are patterns that might lead to career options.

      Do you want to do something related to your undergraduate work, or is that not a must-have?
      Do you prefer working with data or people? (not that they’re mutually exclusive)
      Do you prefer a few discrete tasks or do you gravitate toward a variety of activities?
      Are there fields you will NOT consider? Sometimes what we don’t want to do can suggest possibilities.
      Do you enjoy helping people and if so, directly or indirectly?
      Do you need to be involved in the production of a tangible work product (document, report, product, etc.)?

      There are obviously other issues and questions to consider (geography, salary, life situation, loans), but in working with students and recent grads who are unsure of what to make their career, I find that looking for patterns and matching them with potential careers–or even specfic jobs–can bring some clarity to the process.

      1. Vanishing Girl

        I think these are great suggestions, and are basically what I did when facing the same problem. Especially figuring out what you do and don’t like: every bit of information gives you more direction in your search.

        How I found my field was going to a place I loved to go to outside of work, and having a moment of clarity: “I’d like to work in a place like this someday.” That led me to talking to people in that field about what they do, and then researching what steps I needed to take to get there. (I am in libraries/archives.)

        My plans changed after that point, but I’m still in the same field and am still satisfied to be here.

      2. HeyNonnyNonny

        Going off some of these great questions, it helps for me to mentally divide a job into ‘skills’ and ‘field’– some skills, like communication or IT, will work in multiple fields, some skills are more specialized, etc. Think about what your skills are and what you want your daily tasks to be– and then think about how to apply those tasks to a field you like.

    4. matcha123

      I also graduated uni a few years ago and I’m still searching for my career. I have no idea what to do and no one to talk about career paths with.

      I don’t know if that makes you feel better or worse. But, you’re not alone.
      Fingers crossed for the best :)

    5. OfficePrincess

      Coworkers who offer to grab you coffee while they’re out are the best. (And yes, we are good about compensating each other around here, either in cash or caffeinated beverages)

    6. beyonce pad thai

      Rolled into it. I graduated in 2011 and I had a really tough time getting interviews for jobs I wanted (I graduated with degrees in journalism and political science). I applied with a bank, thinking ‘why not’, and I’m still here and I love it, it’s given me the best opportunities.

    7. just passing through

      Discover what you have a knack for, and then find an avenue to make money doing it.

      I’m trying not to make this simplistic, because I know that there are way too many variables to consider. But this is how I ended up in a career that I totally and completely love. And it’s very different than what I went to college for. This job/career kind of found me.

      Start broad, and whittle away what you don’t want, and see what’s left. “Do what you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life”–ten years ago I would have majorly laughed in the face of someone saying that to me, the concept was so foreign and I was burned out and MISERABLE in my career.

      The best of luck to you—have faith!!

    8. Joey

      I gave up on a career calling long ago. If I wasnt happy in my job I looked for the best manager at the best company where I could contribute the most. The actual duties didn’t matter so much. It was more compensation, a good work environment, belief in the company’s goods/services and the level of my contribution.

    9. C Average

      I’m still looking, but I’ve learned a couple of things that might help.

      1. Try different stuff as the opportunity arises. I think three-quarters of figuring out what you want to do is eliminating the stuff you DON’T want to do. If you experience a variety of roles, you’ll get a sense of what fits and what doesn’t.

      2. Don’t get pigeonholed into just doing what you’re best at unless that’s what you truly want or unless you’ve made a calculated decision along the lines of “I don’t love this, but I have a gift for it and the money is great and the tradeoffs are worth spending my working life doing something I don’t love.”

      3. In the immortal words of the great poet William Stafford, “the secret to happiness is to lower your expectations.” Even the best jobs in the world aren’t kittens and rainbows every day.

      4. Sometimes it’s about the people more than it’s about the job. I’ve been in roles that aligned with my talents on paper and might have been a great fit under other circumstances, but the management and my colleagues made my life misery. I’ve been in roles that weren’t an obvious fit but were wonderful experiences because I was reporting to someone brilliant or working with a great team.

      5. I think the idea of One True Calling is as limiting as the idea of One True Soulmate. There are lots of jobs that might be the right job. You may end up having multiple careers in multiple fields and enjoying all of them; many people do. Don’t regard your failure to pick one and pursue it singlemindedly as any kind of overall failing.

    10. Kyrielle

      Be open to dumb luck, too. *wry*

      I graduated with a degree in computer science and (like many young people with such a degree) wanted to write computer games. Well, I didn’t have the graphical or math chops, and those jobs were not as common then as now, and there was no way I was getting one straight out of the barrel, so I hunted for whatever I could “settle” for for a few years, until I had a better resume.

      I never left the industry I landed in. I loved it, and what I’m doing is so much more socially useful than games. (Which is not to say games aren’t awesome: I still play them and thus VERY much appreciate the people who make them. It’s just to say that what I’m doing is very fulfilling to me, values-wise.)

      The first year I worked in this industry, I’d have told you I hated it and just wanted out. It got better with a change in the people around me (no longer having swear words in requests for status updates on projects was awesome), and with more experience.

    11. Tinker

      Thing I observe: school generally seems to set you up for a forward-looking pattern. You’re in year two of four, you will do thus and such to solidify your position for applying to schools here is your position on the degree plan flowchart, next semester you’re going to schedule classes X, Y, and Z which allows you to fit sequence Q in for your senior year, et cetera. It predisposes one — or at least it predisposed me — to initially approach the work world with a little corner of one’s brain that is looking for the course catalog. There is not a course catalog.

      Most of the time, the place you end up looking for “career” is in the rear-view mirror. You’ll probably find, I would guess, that two or three positions down the road it makes sense that you got experience that qualified you for current-job because a major component of first-job (which you didn’t realize at the time) was a different take on the core activity of current-job. Or that you got hired for second-job based on your experience installing reverse spiral flow modulators, which meant that you ended up programming reverse spiral flow modulators, which meant that you ended up programming testing suites for web applications — even though no sensible person would ever suggest getting into software automation by way of bolting pipes to other pipes.

      One of the consequences of this is that it’s harder than folks tend to think to waste time, at least in a sense. In school, if you take two years worth of coursework and then decide to change programs, a lot of it might be salvageable but you’ll still end up having a distinct gap where you have taken a thing that does not do you any good and have missed taking a thing that you should have taken. The real world tends to be fuzzier — if instead of ending up in software automation you ended up in marital aid sales, there would probably be an equally plausible story that incorporates your career history up until that point and explains why it was entirely natural that you would end up in that place.

      “Fit”, as far as I can tell, is also a thing that has a way of growing organically as you gain experience. “It’s a bit dull and not terribly engaging but I’m happy here for the moment” is a pretty common and reasonable evaluation of how one might feel at any given moment while this is developing. In a way, I think that’s what I would say periodically about my work most of the time throughout my career so far — the catch is that when I look back, my current “Eh, I feel like I’m really struggling to do more than carry bricks from one side of the yard to the other” is muchly improved from the previous versions that felt more or less the same at the time. It probably ties into the studies that indicate that folks tend to have a happiness norm that they return to after almost all events.

      I guess it might not be the most satisfying answer since it amounts to “don’t worry, it’ll happen”, but I do think that the problem is often one of perception — where folks get to expect that because when someone tells a story about their twenty-year career that arrived at an excellent place, this means that in order to have the excellent place one must figure out what it is twenty years prior. This is not true for most people, and I would say tends not to be true for most really interesting career tracks.

      Basically, do good work at what you see in front of you wherever you are, keep an eye out for opportunities that seem interesting and feel good to you, and you’ll probably start to see something take shape from what you end up having done.

      1. Not So NewReader

        Last paragraph is very important. Even if you decide to sit still for a bit, don’t by-pass opportunities for training/meeting people/special projects and so on. I know when I snuggle into a job it is really easy to convince myself, “Oh this activity is optional. Therefore, I don’t need to get involved.” Fortunately, I trained my brain that when that thought runs into my head then “optional” suddenly became “mandatory” for me.
        Making it a habit to tackle as much optional stuff or unusual stuff as possible, is how you learn more about your natural skills and your natural inclinations. Other people can tell you that you are great at x or y, but until you see you challenge yourself, you won’t know that first hand. In turn, the more things you get involved in the closer you move toward finding where you want to be.

    12. Ezri

      By total accident and some luck. I started college as a fine arts major, and switched to computer science after taking a honors-required Intro to CS course taught by a really awesome post-doc. He recommended me for one campus job, which led to another campus job, which promoted me into a web-design position. That last one was a huge factor in landing my current job post-graduation. I love what I do, but it’s really interesting how haphazard the path to getting here was for a couple of years.

      1. College Career Counselor

        “Total accident and some luck” maybe, but you still had to be open to the possibility and take a positive step to explore opportunities that came your way. There is a career development theory called “planned happenstance” (making the most of luck and possibilities) by John Krumboltz out of Stanford that I quite like and use all the time when working with people. You don’t have to know exactly what you want to do, but you have to be willing to take a chance and put yourself out there as opportunities arise. I daresay that definition describes a good many of us (I know it does me) on AAM.

    13. GeekChick603

      I wasn’t one of those people who knew what they wanted to do with their lives. I was more like you, moving from high school to college to post-grad and from one job to another to make sure I could pay the bills.

      I gathered skills in various fields, either from school or work. I also volunteered to jump in and try something new when a project had to be done and my own work load was low.

      I fell into my current career (technical writing) by having a myriad of skills (technical work/help desk/etc.), having the right knowledge (English degree), and volunteering for one of those projects when my assigned work load was low.

      Keep learning, keep your skills moving forward, and keep your eyes open to opportunity. You’ll find it. No guarantee on timelines. I was in my mid-30s when I became a tech writer.

      1. Jen RO

        Haha, I was going to post something very similar, and then I saw we both landed up in the same field! My path was very different though – I chose a major that sounded vaguely interesting (because I didn’t want to do anything in particular), but I never used it; instead, through my love of sci-fi, I met someone who hired me as a copy editor, without any prior experience. After a few years of editing and writing content for various blogs, I applied for a tech writing job, got it, and realized I had found my career

    14. Bea W

      By accident really. I meant to go one way, and life pulled me another. I ended up at a job with a lot of opportunities for learning new things and found a nice niche for myself. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do either. I did know what I didn’t want to do though.

      Do I want to do this the rest of my life? I don’t know? That’s a really long time (hopefully!). Like Sandy says above, don’t think of it as “the rest of your life”. As you gain experience, you’re ideas about what you want to do will change and grow. It’s not realistic to think you have to choose one thing now and do it forever. Life doesn’t work that way.

    15. Academic Counselor

      When I was graduating college and thinking about careers, I just thought about what I really liked doing. I was fortunate to have had a student position that I really loved, as an orientation leader for my college, and started looking for roles that would be similar. I’ve been doing it for about 10 years now, and still love it.

    16. Snowball II

      Others have given you good career advice, but one thing I wanted to point out is that “what I want to do for the rest of my life” doesn’t have to be career-centered. My spouse, for example, works at a job where he’s paid pretty well, treated pretty well, and given work that is mostly not too bad and occasionally a little bit good. If you ask him what he “does with his life,” his answer is going to involve a very time consuming and creatively rewarding hobby he pursues in his free time, NOT his “real job” – his hobby is not something that typically leads to gainful, stable employment, so he’s chosen not to pursue it as a career, but at the same time, it’s the thing that’s most important/satisfying for him, so he sees the hobby, rather than his “real job,” as the thing he “does with his life.” The job he’s chosen is the job that gives him the necessary time and resources to pursue the thing he really wants to do. Along similar lines, a friend of mine would tell you that what she does with her life is travel. She has a “regular job” that is sort of tangentially related to her travel interests, but basically, she works where she works not because she has any great passion for it, but because the job pays her enough and gives her enough time off to globetrot, which is what she really wants to do “for the rest of her life.”

      Yes, you need a job, because you want a roof over your head and food in your fridge and whatnot. With that said, you don’t necessarily need to have your whole life centered around career goals. You certainly can do that, and if you have or find a career you’re passionate about, that’s awesome, but there are a whole lot of people in the world who work to pay the bills while pursuing the things they really care about outside of work. You may be one of those people, and if you are, that’s okay – there’s no moral imperative that you must be career-focused (or that you must turn your life’s passion into a career). So basically, my advice would be to think about what you love to do, then consider if what you loves to do lends itself to a particular career path. If it does, is that a career path you want to pursue? Pursue it. But if you love something that doesn’t readily lend itself to a career (or that lends itself to a career path that doesn’t interest you for other reasons), keep in mind that it’s also perfectly fine to choose a job or even a career based on the likelihood that your professional path will enable you to have the time and other resources required to do the things you really love to do outside of work.

    17. danr

      Take a look at this post… https://www.askamanager.org/2013/01/stop-thinking-youre-applying-for-your-dream-job.html . It took time to find my career job within the field that made me happy… then I stayed with the company for 30 years. I moved around and did different things, but they all revolved around my core interests. I just ended up in a very different place than I started out aiming for. Just keep you eyes and ears open and be ready to take that ‘road less traveled’.

    18. themmases

      I was wrong a lot.

      I became a research assistant in cognitive aging because it was related to education and I thought I wanted to be a history teacher or a professor.

      While I was busy being wrong in history grad school, I needed a job and got one as a part-time medical research assistant. I liked it better than history grad school, realized I liked the process of research at least as much as the content, and left to do my job full-time. I thought I would climb that ladder forever.

      I was wrong. After a while I realized there was no way up in that job without eventually going to pharma; people were rude to me, treated me like an intern, gave me projects I knew couldn’t be published, and I became the reluctant owner of every non-research project people wouldn’t own but wouldn’t kill. People on the hospital side wouldn’t pay me or anyone in my career track decently. I realized I wanted to keep doing the core of my work– hypothesis generating and testing, data analysis, literature reviewing, benefiting human health– but I wanted to be too expensive to be saddle with intern tasks and treatment. Oh, and I wanted the credibility to leave or change projects that I knew were turkeys.

      Now I’m in epidemiology grad school and it feels like the first time I’ve ever been right. I was turning down job interviews to be an RA before school even started, I’m treated and paid better as a part-time assistant than I ever was full-time, and the job prospects in my specific field look pretty good. For me, finding out what I *didn’t* want in a job was very clarifying. Then I did the research to find out if there were people who did similar work to mine, but without some of the things that I now knew were dealbreakers.

      1. Anonsie

        I’m going to pretend you’re me writing from the future with a time machine, so I can reassure myself that I am totally for sure going to get into an epi program and I can chill out a little bit.

    19. JB

      I’ll echo what some others have said and throw a little of my own in. I think a lot of people know exactly what profession they want or what field they want to go it, but many many of us did not. There’s nothing wrong with that. I think what matters more is to find a job that fits you. What I mean it, do you like sitting in front of a computer with only limited interaction with others? Do you like a job where you interact with people all day? Do you like something where you never have to work on weekends? Something where you’ll work 9 to 5, or different hours? A job where you have more autonomy, or does that leave you feeling lost? Do you want something that is intellectually challenging, or do you want something that is challenging but doesn’t leave you brain dead at the end of the day, or do you want something that is kind of mindless so you can think about other things while you work? Figure out what the qualities are of a job that fits you rather than THE career that is you. Personally, I think it’s better to have a job that doesn’t define you and to look for something you do outside of your work to satisfy you or to get fulfillment. But in my field, there are a lot of people who do my job because they like the idea of being that job, and that’s what they want their identity to be. So that’s something else you have to figure out.

      1. JB

        And I agree with others who say think in smaller increments of time. If you’d told me when I was 22 that I’d be doing what I’m doing now, I would have thought you were crazy. And my sister was the same way. Sometimes you don’t find out what you want to do until you’re older. And sometimes you change, and so what you want to do changes.

    20. Wolfey

      Also in the same boat as you–solidarity!

      I ended up in the wrong field after graduating a few years ago. I knew before I started that it wasn’t a good it, and whether self-fulfilling or not, it never did grow into one. But, I was grateful to have a job that paid pretty well during a really awful time for the economy. It took about 3 years to figure out what I probably wanted to do and another year to convince myself that I *could* do it if I went go back to school. This time I feel pretty good about my choices, because they’ve persisted over time. So I’m starting to take the pre-requisites at the local community college in order to apply for a post-bacc Bachelors of Science.

      Sometimes it feels like I haven’t moved at all (going back to undergrad? did I waste the first 4 years & all that tuition?). Other times I can appreciate the things I *did* accomplish during the ill-fitting years (lots of travel, independence, financial stability, work ethic, and professionalism). I’m often reminded that no experience is worthless, though its value might not be apparent until much later. There’s every chance I will end up combining my BA and professional experiences with my hoped-for BS somewhere down the road. We just have to keep a little faith in ourselves and keep our minds open to new opportunities.

      My best advice for finding something that fits is to read widely. I started in South Asian religious and languages studies and somehow ended up pursing engineering & environmentalism. Reading lots of articles about all kinds of interesting people and movements led me here. Longreads.com is a great resource, but just one of many.

      Best of luck.

    21. Not So NewReader

      This is not the question you asked but I knew I was ready to change jobs when I felt that I had met every challenge of the Old Job. I guess I got “itchy” to move on- not sure how to describe it. For one thing I had maxed out where I was and I was not interested in trying another department. But the biggie was when I pictured myself being old and gray, looking back on my life and see that Old Job was the peak of my working life. Yeah. That made me move. Here’s the funny/odd thing. Years earlier that same mental image would not have motivated me at all.

      Start by making a list of things you are good at- don’t put yourself in places where you know you cannot excel. My joke is about car repair- I would not last through the first day of work as a mechanic. Don’t make a list of things your not good at- you will be writing that list for the rest of your life. Make yourself think about the times you have done something well, a coworker said “hey thanks!” or the boss said “wow, this is really good stuff.” Think about the times you have shined- start there.

    22. JMW

      Some thoughts:
      – Write a short autobiography. Look for patterns. What things keep drawing you back? What threads do you see in the narrative?
      – Be open to opportunity. You may be where you are at because you are learning something that will help you on your path or because there is someone for you to meet. Watch what crosses your path, especially if it crosses more than once. Watch for for doors that may open unexpectedly or in quick succession – the universe may be leading you somewhere.
      – If you won the lottery and didn’t have to work, what would you do? Can you start building that on the side?
      – Network. Look for connections.
      – Learn. Wherever you are at, there are things to learn. You never know what might help you along your path.

      We have so many chapters in our lives… try not to be impatient!

    23. nep

      Probably good not to think of any gig in terms of ‘what I want to do for the rest of my life’. We’re always evolving, learning new things, discovering new routes, igniting or fueling new passions. I lived / worked overseas for the better part of 16 years — loved what I was doing, loved everything about it. Now, for family and other personal reasons, I’m back in the US and doing something completely unrelated to my former job — but something that I’m passionate about. Love what I’m doing, love everything about it.
      Enjoy where you are and make the best of it…learn all you can. Keep feeding your interests and passions. Doors will open and you will thrive.

    24. catsAreCool

      I thought about what I liked to do that I didn’t have to do. The only thing that wasn’t artistic or related to reading was writing computer programs, so that’s what I went to school for. Not that there’s anything wrong with artistic, but artistic careers don’t always make it easy to pay bills.

  3. stacy

    Just had to get a rant out – my coworker keeps coming into the office and announcing she has a fever. She did stay home twice this week but has been in the last two days sick. She’s not busy, and our boss is super cool about time off – he doesn’t track it at all. She just claims she gets anxiety when she misses work. I don’t want to make a big fuss about it, but if I were the guy on our team who has a newborn at home, I’d be pissed. Why do people think this is OK?

    1. Ezri

      I get sick very easily, so this is a big deal to me. I work at a place with a reasonable sick-day and work-from-home policy for illness, but we have people who come into the office coughing and glassy-eyed with fever. It surprises me that your coworker is announcing it. If she has anxiety about missing work, wouldn’t telling people she’s sick risk getting her sent home anyway?

      1. mdv

        Almost the only thing that I stay home for is a fever — it is the one thing that should be viewed as MANDATORY, in my opinion, since that is well-known to be when a person is most contagious.

        1. stacy

          Exactly. I understand that you can’t stay home with every sniffle – that can go on for weeks! And I’m hardly a germaphobe. But a fever is something you need to stay home for.

        2. Elizabeth West

          Yep. I am looking at a sign right now at work that says, “Stay home if you have a fever!” Which, if I had one, I would do, because when I have a fever I am MISERABLE.

        3. Cath in Canada

          Fever and vomiting are my personal mandatory sick days. I’ll come in with a cold if I have a deadline or a big meeting, but not if I don’t have to – we have generous sick leave policy, and I can do a lot of work from home most days.

      2. Chinook

        BTDT – when the office manager was away, one of the newer admins was complaining about feeling faint, looked pale and was running a fever. The office assistant and I (the receptionist) knew what the office manager had done in the past (she sent me home when I had an injured ankle in a cast but looked like I would pass out from pain), so we just told her that we were calling a cab for her to go home, helped her gather her stuff and gave the chit and the directions directly to the cabbie. We didn’t give her time to argue and just assured her that we would cover any slack and flack that came from her being gone.

        The office manager later told us we made the right call (and we all lvoed her for that).

      3. Anonsie

        The folks who come in sick don’t listen to this, man. I always tell them to go home and how other people will get sick but they just go “nooo you probably won’t, I washed my hands.”

    2. Museum Educator

      As she said, anxiety is what’s causing her to come in. Maybe she previously worked in a job where they were really strict about time off. I think it’s something that management has to address clearly and directly if they really don’t want people coming in when they are sick.

      I don’t think her germs are necessarily going to spread to a newborn. People come into contact with others who might be sick all day long and if you have a newborn at home you take precautions to avoid spreading germs. If your coworker had just come in and never announced the fever, you’d never know about it. Presumably, others have done this around you as well.

      1. Artemesia

        I have a thing with germs. I have intervened and sent an AA home who brought a sick kid to work although she was not my report. I would have said ‘please stop coming in her and spreading your germs; I don’t want to get sick over the holidays because you don’t stay home when you are sick. And by the way, Carl has a newborn at home, he REALLY doesn’t need to be bringing this home to his baby.’

        Blunt is the only way to deal with asshats like this. It is flu season — there are no precautions people can take to avoid the germs being spewed by people like this. The stuff is airborne.

        1. Museum Educator

          I don’t disagree with you, but unless a manager is telling someone to stay home, I don’t think hearing it from a coworker is enough. After all, my coworkers don’t set these rules.

          I know a lot of people have kids and I don’t hold the monopoly on parenthood at all, but I do have a 2 1/2 year old so I am recently familiar with these issues. If you have a newborn at home, you get flu shots and wash your hands often. As you said, it’s flu season, you come into contact with germy people everywhere. Obviously sick people should stay home, but they don’t. So I don’t think it’s any more of a concern than being out in the general public when you have a newborn at home.

          1. Kyrielle

            Agreed, but also, this year the flu vaccine missed one of the strains that turns out to be common. (Darn it, failed guesses.) So this year, the flu vaccine is less protective than we’d hope.

            That doesn’t matter a whole lot to me…but if I had a newborn? It would suddenly matter a lot more.

            1. Museum Educator

              Oh! I didn’t know that. Yeah, I’d be concerned with a newborn, but I’d be concerned in general, not just at work. Most people can’t get out of bed with the flu so what this coworker has is probably not the flu. Either way, if she hadn’t announced that she had a fever, no one would know. Which is why you take precautions overall when you have a newborn, not just when someone is obviously sick or announces it.

              1. Kyrielle

                True. Which is why I’m not very concerned for me.

                But a newborn can’t get the shot – they have to be at least six months – and that means that if you do get it (even if it’s less severe), then you can take it home to the baby who hasn’t got defenses against it.

                It also raises the odds that the sick co-worker has the flu, since if they got the vaccine, they could well get it and still be able to go to work.

          2. Courtney

            Flu shots don’t fully protect people from the flu. It certainly doesn’t protect people from other viruses or other types of infections going around. If that co-worker gets sick, because the infection spreads through the air (many do), he’s going to be going home each day and spreading the germs directly to his family, including the newborn, before he is symptomatic and able to take precautions (not kissing the baby). I think this is a major downfall with companies that do not enforce sick days on people who are obviously sick. It’s very narrow thinking and irresponsible to have a sick person come into work and spread the illness around. That creates additional sick days for co-workers, and even more once the kids get sick and someone needs to stay home with the sick kids.

            1. Museum Educator

              I agree with you. I just think with a newborn you have to be extra cautious all the time, not just when you know someone is sick, for the very reason that people don’t always do the right thing and you don’t ever really know who is actually sick around you.

              1. Anna

                I don’t think anyone should be more or less cautious about spreading their illness. Just don’t come around when you’re sick, full stop.

                1. Museum Educator

                  That’s not what I said at all. Of course if you are sick the right thing to do is not to go around people, and I certainly would never advocate otherwise. I wasn’t talking about spreading your own illness. I was saying you should always be cautious of other people being ill, especially when you have a newborn, whether you’re at work or not, because you never really know who is sick around you.

      2. Ezri

        On my first read I missed the part where she was out for two days and then came in sick. So I can definitely see where the anxiety is happening – I feel bad when I’m ill and each morning have to contact my manager to say ‘sorry, still no good’. However, I’ve also experienced the flip side where one person came in with a nasty cold that took out most of the team over the next couple of weeks. You can take steps to avoid germs, but it’s no guarantee.

        1. Museum Educator

          Yeah, it can be real confusing which approach to take, which is why I think management needs to be super clear about what’s expected here. I’ve worked places where we were told never to come in sick, ever, and management was really serious. I’ve also worked places where they said that and then gave you a hard time about it. And I’ve worked places where you simply never called in sick without being seriously reprimanded.

          1. Ezri

            I agree, it really is up to management to address it. I really don’t like when people come in sick, but as you said there are a lot of reasons that people do and dysfunctional workplaces that require it. If the manager in this case won’t tell the coworker not to come in, there’s really nothing OP can do about it (other than taking germ precautions until she gets better).

          2. Darth Admin

            I just this morning got an email from one of my reports that essentially said “I was up all night coughing and hacking and can barely move, but I’m coming in for our meeting!” I wrote her back and said “No, you’re not. Stay home and rest, and we’ll touch base later in the day.” I DO NOT want to encourage people to drag their asses in to work when they’re sick, both because I don’t want me or anyone else to catch it, and because it usually means they operate at reduced capacity for a longer amount of time than they would if they just took the days at home.

          3. Not So NewReader

            I have worked in many places where a sick day was a severe reprimand. The comments are interesting to me, because it seems like most of the places I have worked if you called in sick you basically had your job on the line. After having a few of these jobs, if someone stuff me in a taxi, I would just figure I had lost my job.

            The worst places are the ones where they tell you to call in sick, then you find out too late that they did not mean that. I would rather be told up front “We have a executioner on staff for people who call in”. I can’t stand the lying and the double talk.

            1. Jen RO

              I am late to the thread, but I think what you just said might explain my direct report’s behavior. She was feeling very ill on Thursday (kidney stones), so I insisted she go home around 4 p.m. I also texted her later to make sure she got home OK and the pain killers were kicking in. To my surprise, she kept apologizing for going home! Perhaps her previous boss was a loony…

              1. Not So NewReader

                On some level she realizes you are different, because probably there was no point in apologizing to her old boss.
                Working with kidney stones so sucks. Glad you sent her home.

      3. stacy

        This is her first job out of college (and she’s been here a handful of years). I think she just has a strong sense of self-importance about her job that I don’t really understand. And my boss isn’t the type to force her to go home unfortunately.

        1. Stephanie

          Oh, that makes sense then. If management isn’t firm about not coming in when sick (either by explicitly sending people home or not setting an example themselves), then you totally will get an Office Typhoid Mary. All you can do is just wash your hands of it (literally and figuratively).

        2. Ezri

          At least in my experience, college was terrible about teaching people to handle illness. Most classes I took gave you two days out a semester before you start losing points, and I even had professors that wouldn’t accept assignments due on days you were out sick. My college job had a limited ‘x-days-missed then fired’ policy that made working sick pretty common as well.

          There are profs who are reasonable about these things, but I remember spending a lot of time sick in college because you were expected to work through it. That attitude is difficult to shake.

            1. Ezri

              That’s not a bad comparison. I lived on-campus for one year only, and I spent three quarters of it some degree of sick. A girl at one end of the hall would pick up something (it was strep, once), and everyone eventually got it. You share space, particularly bathroom space, with enough stress-out and sleep-deprived people and it gets very difficult to avoid germ ‘sharing’.

          1. C Average

            This is a really good point! In school, anyone claiming to be sick (even when they obviously are) gets the side-eye unless they have a doctor’s note, and there’s a strong bias toward not believing students who claim to be sick unless they’re vomiting or bleeding out the eyes.

            1. Chinook

              The problem with being sick at university is sometimes it was self-induced by items consumed knowingly and willingly the night before. Soemtimes expecting students tough it out is the only way for them to understand logical consequences (so they learn that you don’t party hard when you have a 7 a.m. class the next morning).

              1. Ezri

                I’m a little confused by this. Sure, some college students miss class due to hangovers, but many university policies pressure legitimately ill students to work through it as well. They aren’t the same situation, and I’m not certain it’s a professor’s place to assume a student’s illness is alcohol-related.

                1. Nashira

                  And heaven help you if you have a documented chronic illness of episodic nature, because no matter what accommodations Disability Services gives you, your professors will throw a fit and try to refuse to allow them. Because supposedly, they are unfair to the other students.

                  This is a major reason why I love taking online classes now: if I’m too sick to get out of bed, I can slowly grind out my work on my laptop.

              2. Anx

                I have a very hard believing that hangovers or drug reactions drive the majority of student illness. Although, I think the ‘personal day’ can fuel a lot of absences. I don’t think that is so much a responsibility issue as a serious mental health issue.

                I’ve worked in food service and had to come in sick because calling in sick was met with such resistance and an assumption that you were partying the night before. In all honesty, a lot of people would go out before work. But management’s response was that to call in sick you’d have to find a coworker to cover for you. So the most well connected workers who were the biggest party-ers rarely had to worry, while those that didn’t make friends with their coworkers after hours had a harder time scrambling for coverage.

          2. Anx

            Absolutely. Professors did not commonly accept absences without a doctors note, yet Health Services strongly discouraged students with colds from coming in and wouldn’t give out notes for that. So if you had school insurance your primary care place wouldn’t see you unless you were legit sick and so you’d be forced to come in. It was especially bad with long lectures where exams cannot be made up unless you’re in the hospital or detained by the police.

            The college I’m at now is also very strict about attendance because students default on their loans or take out loans with no intent of going to school. So the government makes them use a strict attendance policy, which sometimes lowers attendance.

            I missed two classes and have a mid B for attendance, which is my lowest grade. I probably would have gone to school sick (which is ironic because our labs revolve around aseptic technique) if my test scores were lower.

          3. Anonsie

            Yep, this is what I was going to say. College destroyed my ability to handle illness like a normal person because so many people are just bafflingly unreasonable about it. I panic all day every day that I’m home sick to this day.

        3. Jennifer

          I used to be like this because I got raised to have Perfect Attendance in school and they gave me whopping crap about missing even in college. Like HOW DARE YOU MISS A DAY. Then I had the flu and pneumonia in the same year the first year I started working full time :P

    3. Nerd Girl

      Drives me batty!!! I took a sick day last week to stay home with my son who was home with a stomach bug. My husband had taken the day before off – so my son missed two days. Do you know this week I got an email from his teacher scolding for me for keeping him home? He’s 8. He was sick. Frankly, with a class of 24 students, I thought she might appreciate the efforts to keep him home and not expose her or the rest of the class to his bug.

      1. Observer

        Your son’s teacher actually complained to you about keeping a child with a communicable disease home from school? That sounds like something I would take up with the principal. School classrooms are in incredibly “good” place to pick up whatever someone has. On the other hand, given the policies that some schools have about students who are out for illness, it might not do any good.

        And, that is one reason why so many people have a hard time staying home when sick. So many of us grow up in environments where staying home while contagious is not seen as especially important, at best, and self-indulgent or unacceptable, at worst.

        1. Nerd Girl

          Her argument was that because he struggles with his spelling that she had concerns he might fall behind. My email to her (to which I did CC the principal) explained that I made the best interest in my child’s health and well-being and that I cared less about a spelling test than I did about the fact that he was sick.
          He has a cough this week – which sounds way worse due to his asthma. I’m waiting for a call/email about that. I hate my son’s teacher. Third grade can’t end soon enough. LOL!

      2. A Teacher

        Thank you from most sane teachers for not sending him to school. I lysol my tables daily and its gross…

        1. Nerd Girl

          I wipe down my desk at work daily. It’s just me and it’s pretty grody. I cannot imagine what a classroom with sticky fingered, sneezing and coughing kids looks like. Blech!

      3. Ann Furthermore

        Well that’s asinine. I had to go pick up my daughter twice in 2 weeks because she had picked up something one of the other kids passed along to her. One was a stomach bug that came and went in about 12 hours, and the other was some kind of fever thing. I was so ticked off though…obviously someone is sending their kids to school when they’re sick. I wanted to launch an investigation to identify Patient Zero.

        1. Anna

          To be fair, she may have picked it up before the kid started showing symptoms. Kids seem inherently unconcerned with swapping germs in the most disgusting ways, whether they’re showing nasty symptoms or seemingly healthy.

          1. fposte

            Right. And Ann’s daughter undoubtedly passed it on to other kids in the same way, because even if you keep your kid home when she’s symptomatic, she’s still had plenty of time to share. So I agree that people should stay home, but getting sick isn’t just because known sick people are out and about, and we’ve all of us passed illnesses onto other people without realizing it too.

    4. Dr. Doll

      I have someone who is out sick at least 3 times a month for at least a half day but sometimes for days at a time. Sometimes it’s contagious, but usually not. So it can go the other way, of being out too much.

      1. Jennifer

        Yeah, that’s the problem. How much are you actually ALLOWED (socially, if not actual sick day requirements) to be out sick?

      2. JB

        Sure it can, and we all know people who do that. But that doesn’t mean that people who ARE sick should come in. I think too many people come in sick because they are afraid of the judgment of their coworkers and supervisors for being That Person.

    5. Amy

      A coworker refused to go away when I told her I was traveling to Paris in two days. I came down with it on my second day and the whole trip was a mess. I stayed sick after I got back too. I will never forgive her!

      1. Elizabeth West

        This is why I got a flu shot the second they were available at the pharmacy, before I went on holiday, way before my doctor’s office said they had it. I know they aren’t perfect, but there was no way I was going to 1) get sick and miss work before such a long absence, and 2) get sick before I left or actually on my trip. NOPE.

    6. ThursdaysGeek

      My co-worker sent me home on Monday. I was fine when I went to work, didn’t realize how bad I was getting, but when she said I looked terrible and to go home, I grabbed my laptop and went home. It’s nice working for a company where this is encouraged — both her speaking up and me listening.

    7. Wolfey

      I can understand your frustration, certainly, and especially if I had a baby at home, but this really is a management issue. So many companies issue very limited sick days, or roll sick days into general PTO, which makes it difficult for employees to gauge how much they can safely take at a time. If I stayed home for a week with the flu (which I would love to do), I’d have used up all my sick leave for a year. What about the next 2 or 3 times a year I come down with sinus infections? To say nothing of the flak I’d get for either letting my projects go or burdening my colleagues.

      Sick people should definitely stay home, no question, but it’s hard for someone to make the right choice when the company explicitly or implicitly punishes employees for doing so.

      During my last month at my old job I came down with such bad flu that I was in really horrible pain–high fever, joint pain, skin so sensitive that my cotton clothing hurt, face so clogged up it felt like it would pop open, and so on. I wanted to cry from my sensitive skin alone. But I was told that I’d used up all but a half day of PTO that I could ONLY leave for half a day, and ONLY after finishing my projects or getting them to the point I could hand them off to other people (which, since I was delirious, took 3 hours). On top of feeling like physical shit they made me guilty for getting sick, and my co-workers understandably wanted nothing to do with my.

      If it’s important for companies to have healthy working conditions, work-from-home policies or penalty-free sick leave needs to become more available. It’s not fair for anyone otherwise.

    8. Jamie

      Someone needed to send her home. No ones anxiety trumps everyone else’s right to avoid illness. I am so late to open thread so was planning to just read and keep my fingers quiet. So much for my plans.

  4. Museum Educator

    I recently found a job posting at a museum in the same city where I went to college. I graduated in 2006 and while there, I had a close professional relationship with the director of the museum studies program. She was somewhat of a mentor of mine and I used her as a reference through 2009, but I’ve lost touch and we haven’t connected in some time now.

    This professor also was the executive director of the museum I want to apply to. She’s left that position as of 2010 but I think she would still be a great connection for this opportunity. It’s not a large city and the museum community is small.

    Since it’s been a while since we’ve spoken, what is the best way to go about reconnecting with her and mentioning my interest in the position? I assume I should apply to the position and then reach out to her, but what do I say? Can I specifically say I am reaching out because of the job and letting her know I applied in case she still knows anyone there? Or is it better to phrase it like the job made me think of reconnecting with her and leaving my interest in the position out entirely?

    1. puddin

      spitballing here…

      I think the small talk yada yada part in the beginning is important to re-connect. But you should definitively be specific about why you are reaching out later in the letter. How else will she know what you are asking of her?
      Connect-ask for what you want-maintain the relationship (or at least offer)

      Hello Persons Name
      I hope you are well yada yada. What I have been up to since we last spoke yada yada. What are you doing now yada yada. How are your kids/pets/SO? Mine are X yada yada.

      I have recently applied for X at X. Knowing that you were Director, do you have any words of wisdom on the position, the museum working environment or the interview process? I think of you as my mentor from X days when you and X’d together. I would appreciate any advice you can offer. Of course, a kind word about me to the hiring manager would be welcome as well.

      It is a busy time of year, however if you can find the time, I would love to meet for a milkshake/coffee/egg nog/scotch. Please feel free to call me anytime. 555-12324 is my current number.

      1. C Average

        Eh, I dunno. When I get an email from someone I haven’t heard from in a while, my what-do-you-want-from-me antennae immediately go up (and I’m right 99% of the time). So I’m sifting through the three-paragraph preamble looking for the ask.

        I’d rather they just kept it short and sweet and direct: “Hey, C Average! I know it’s been a while since we’ve touched base, and I hope all is well with you. I have a small favor to ask. I’m pursuing the Chocolate Teapot Maker role at the International Museum of Cacao History and Technology, and I know as the former director you’ll likely have some insights on this role and on the organization as a whole. Would you be up for connecting with me to chat about this role and to catch up in general sometime over the next few weeks? I’m happy to pick a time and venue that meshes with your schedule.”

        1. puddin

          I can see that, I suppose it depends on your audience. I like the pre amble. It helps me to remember why I might want to help them out.

        2. themmases

          Yeah, very long chit-chat feels fake to me (I was just requesting some references yesterday and thought about this a lot!). I don’t think most people are under any illusions about how close they will be with their professional contacts, or that it’s not a personal favor to vouch for someone’s work.

          When I haven’t spoken to a reference in a while I let them know how my job worked out now that it’s ending, and reiterate my thanks for last time. If they are someone like a mentor or former professor who I know may have future people they help job search, then I explicitly let them know if I think it’s a good opportunity for people they may have under them. This takes maybe 3 sentences, then I get to what I want.

      2. Museum Educator

        We had a good professional relationship but we weren’t so close that we would have anything to talk about regarding kids or pets. She was my professor for several years and a mentor getting into the museum field. She offered me a lot of guidance and worked with me very closely, closer than with other students I’d say. She nominated me for an award during college, which I won, and at another point I honored her by selecting her as a outstanding mentor and teacher at another awards ceremony. So we had an excellent relationship. I’m confident that she would be happy to hear from me, but we don’t have much on a personal level to discuss.

        I definitely like how you phrased asking her for some words of wisdom. I can certainly come up with something like that. Unfortunately, I can’t meet with her in person since I now live 8 hours away. I’d have to relocate for this position if I got it, which I have been wanting to do.

    2. plain_jane

      Would you like to reconnect regardless? If so, I’d use something like:
      “I saw this position was open, and it reminded me of you. Would love to hear how you’re doing.
      These days I’m [personal update] and doing [professional update]. I was really interested in the open position, and I’m thinking of applying at [museum]. Are there any pointers you might have on skills or background that I should emphasize in my cover letter?”

      1. Museum Educator

        Yes, I’d like to connect with her anyway. I’ve been meaning to for quite some time actually and never seem to get around to it. I think this might be the best tactic because then I can reconnect and then also get some input on the position.

  5. GOG11

    Update regarding office move request!

    Unfortunately, my request was not granted. I did state that there could be things I’m not thinking of that are unique to this building and those were the sorts of things cited by my supervisor. The biggest hurdle is that my sitting in the lobby in plain view (and earshot and smell) of the supply area acts as a deterrent to left. Unfortunately, when I’m not here and there is no deterrent, things disappear from my desk (not all the time, but on occasion).

    Additional steps were outlined to try to curb the smoking outside of the door (though it is illegal to smoke within 20 feet of the door anyways…if anyone has tips on how to talk to the smokers about moving, please do share them!) and some suggestions regarding taking sensitive phone calls were made (like moving my chair and speaking into the corner so the conversation would be muffled). Ultimately, it’s not an ideal set up, but as much as there are drawbacks to my being here, there are also benefits.

    Thank you everyone for your encouragement and for sharing your thoughts. They did explicitly state their commitment to providing a safe, healthy working environment and mentioned that we will reevaluate when I’ve tried some of the things suggested, so if things don’t work out at least the book isn’t shut on this topic.

      1. GOG11

        What if the main culprit is argumentative about everything? He will go from one coworker’s office to the next loudly complaining about the same thing (and using the exact same opener each time). Recently, when I stopped by a colleague’s office to ask a question of office-holder, argumentative-coworker started grilling me about why I wanted to know what I was asking. The topic of conversation really didn’t involve him at all, he just happened to be present when I asked.

        He tends to be defensive and takes institutional decisions personally and I worry that simply asking him to move away from the door will be met by an interrogation or a stream of complaints. Argumentative-coworker’s boss is aware that he is smoking just outside of the door. Is there anything else I could do or, at this point, is it in the boss’s court?

        1. Colette

          Ask nicely, but if he gets difficult, raise it with your manager – they’re already talking about how to curb the smoking outside the door, so this falls into that effort.

        2. Gene

          Come in on the weekend with a 20 foot tape and some method of marking the sidewalk/pavement/grass (I’d suggest inverted pavement marking paint) and put a stripe down 20 feet from the door. First time, ask nicely; second time demand; third time come out with cat-enforcement spray bottle in hand with the message, “Next time, you get sprayed.”; fourth time and beyond, spray him like a recalcitrant moggy.

          1. GOG11

            Whenever I use the spray bottle on my cat, he just braces himself for the water instead of getting of my d*$@ stove/counter/table. It’s like he’s saying “THIS IS THE PRICE I PAY FOR GLORY!!!!”

            1. Natalie

              Ah, but if you have good aim with the anti-smoker spray bottle, you’ll douse their cigarette and put it out.

          2. The Cosmic Avenger

            I love this.

            Except I would recommend a fire hose rather than a spray bottle, especially for people who smoke in areas that everyone has to walk through.

        3. Adam V

          If he’s going to get defensive and argumentative anyway, how about snapping a photo and telling him “step away from the door when you smoke or I send this photo to the police to arrest you for it”?

          (Or is it just me who likes to consider the nuclear option? I think it’s just me.)

          1. GOG11

            Something tells me that response wouldn’t have a positive impact on our work relationship :)

            Also, argumentative-coworker is a former member of law enforcement so I think that particular power play would escalate things rather than back him down.

            Also, that moment you realize the irony of law enforcer breaking the law.

            1. Greggles

              I am not sure why your boss isn’t telling him not to smoke near the door. No if’s ands who why or humph about it. If your manager can’t handle that then that is actually where the issue is.

        4. Artemesia

          You asked to be moved because of the smoke and were told to stay put and deal with it. I would go to the boss and say ‘Fred insists on smoking just outside the door and it is filling my space with smoke. If I ask him to move he is argumentative and unpleasant; could you make it clear to him that he is not to smoke near the door because it is filling our reception area with smoke and this is a problem for the organization? If it is about me, he will just fuss at me endlessly about it.’

          I love that difficult aggressive unpleasant people get to set the standard everywhere they go because managers won’t manage. You are not in a position to enforce the rule — the boss is in such a position though.

    1. SilverRadicand

      I work as a valet manager at a hospital in a downtown area, so smoking on the grounds is a big no-no. I and my valets regularly have to ask smokers to smoke elsewhere. What I have found to be most effective for me is to have a designated area (or simply designate it when you speak with them) where they can smoke, so it is more of a clarification, rather than simply a don’t do this. We state they have to go to the public sidewalk.

      1. GOG11

        Unfortunately, the individual who is smoking near the door, though he’s not above me in the chain of command, he is above me in the sort of system in place here (it’s a cultural thing more than an explicitly defined thing). I don’t feel I have the authority to enforce the policy, but I’m trying to enforce the policy because it affects my asthma so it almost seems like I’m asking a favor and playing to his (unfortunately nonexistent) good will.

        1. Zahra

          Depending on the culture of your organization, I’d totally say “Your smoking right beside the door is giving me asthma attacks. Move further away.”

          I have no niceness when it comes to my health. Blunt may be offensive, but it does carry your message in clear terms.

    2. Paige Turner

      I’ve seen signs up (at my old apartment building, at my old university) that say “Such-and-such law- no smoking within twenty feet of entrance” that are placed on the front doors- facilities (or whoever) also placed one of those big “smoker’s pole” ashtrays at least twenty feet away. That way, when you see someone smoking too close, you can just say something like, “Oh, you might have missed the sign, can you smoke further away by the ashtray?”
      Is there a conference room or somewhere you can go occasionally for a phone call? (Sorry if that came up previously.)
      Good luck!

      1. GOG11

        I love your name!!!! And your picture. Is it a dog wearing something on its nose?

        There are signs and the ashtray has been moved from its original location to one farther away from the favored smoking area. I really think your language and Colette’s would work if this person didn’t take everything so personally. (One time, a small, nonfinancial perk was extended to the ‘class’ of employees I belong to. He commented that it is nice of the organization to do that, to which I agreed, and then he went on a rant about all the ways he’s expected to do x, y, and z, all of which weren’t impacted/influenced in the slightest by me, my job or ‘small perk.’)

        There isn’t a phone in there, unfortunately. And it’s generally people calling in to me, so it’s not something that could be arranged ahead of time.

        Thank you!!!

    3. Malissa

      For the smokers, can you ask management to install a bench and ashtray in an appropriate area? I’ve found people will move from standing by the door if there’s a place to park their butts.

      1. GOG11

        We already moved the ashtray to a different area. There isn’t room for a bench, but if there were, it might signal SMOKING AREA OVER HERE more obviously. I wish we had enough room to provide places for them to park their butts (both kinds)! *rimshot*

    4. GOG11

      Thank you, everyone for your suggestions (and for a few laughs!). I’ve already tried all of the suggestions listed here that I’m comfortable with (moving the ashtray and having a sign explicitly stating that, by law, there is no smoking permitted within 20 feet of the entryway) but I guess I just have to face the fact that talking to coworker directly is the next step in the chain of events. I have no doubt that the other non-staff smokers wouldn’t mind moving at all (and may even be apologetic about it), but I’ll just have to hope for the best and be prepared to get an earful when I ask him to please move farther away from the door.

      1. ThursdaysGeek

        Why not talk to the other smokers? If everyone else moves, it will look odd for him to be standing alone, closer to the door.

        1. GOG11

          I’m the only person in my building who has a set schedule and everyone else comes and goes throughout the day, so there’s only ever one person who is outside smoking at any given time.

      2. Anonsie

        Man, I was so hoping they could move you.

        For the argumentative chap, that’s his problem. Don’t refrain from asking him for a totally reasonable thing just because he’ll get all rustled over it, and don’t feel bad if he does get ruffled.

  6. Helka

    The Christmas music in my office is driving me bananas. Last year, they mixed in occasional carols with our regular unobtrusive muzak, all instrumental and quiet and easy to filter out. This year, they just hooked up an all-carols-all-the-time XM station that’s full of really intrusive music — shrill children’s choirs, very tinny brass, parody carols that are cruising the line between funny and offensive, and a lot of really piercing vocals. I struggle with staying focused on my job anyway, and this is just destroying what vestiges of concentration I have. And as far as “try headphones” goes… we’re only allowed to have one ear covered/blocked by headphones or earbuds, per departmental order. The boss’s boss doesn’t like it.

    (And just to make it all better, one of my coworkers apparently loves the music; she’s started whistling along with it at random times. She appears to be tone-deaf.)

    I don’t think there’s really anything I can do about this, I sincerely doubt an office of hundreds is going to change the music because one person dislikes it, but ughh… the end of the year can’t come soon enough!

    1. GOG11

      If you contacted Chief of Music and requested instrumental music again this year (which provided low-key, minimally distracting holiday cheer), it might seem nit picky, though there are probably others in the same camp as you (as well as those who find anything but complete silence to be a distraction).

      As someone who works in an area with a lot of distractions, I can empathize. Over time, I did develop the ability to tune peripheral things out, but that took a while :/ Hang in there til January!

    2. Elizabeth the Ginger

      A polite email to someone in charge might still be worthwhile, though. I think of it like voting; my individual vote might not mean much, but if lots of people vote, it makes a difference. You could say something similar to what you said here: “The holiday music played last year was festive while being unobtrusive, but this year the holiday music on the loudspeakers has a lot of vocals and brass instruments. I’m finding it harder to concentrate on my work with this music, and it would be great if next year’s selection was more instrumental.”

      1. Helka

        There’s actually no direct connection — I don’t even know who’s in charge of that. We’re a big office and not terribly transparent in chains of command. It would be more like I go to my manager > she goes to the head of Facilities > head of Facilities goes to whoever’s in charge of music.

    3. C Average

      I have no solutions, but man do I feel your pain.

      Is yours a consumer-facing environment where the music is being played to encourage holiday spending, or is it an office environment where this is up to the employees?

      If it’s a retail environment, you’re probably SOL, but if it’s an office environment, I’d email someone in a role that has some influence over such things and point out that a) it’s tough to be productive with this racket going on and b) the non-Christians in the office may feel a little marginalized by wall-to-wall holiday music for a religious holiday they don’t observe.

      An aside: Many years ago I worked in a very busy Starbucks. We were periodically sent CDs that had to be played in our store. That year, we’d received a Christmas-themed CD we universally loathed.

      One evening my manager called me into the back room and said, “You’re into rock climbing, right?”

      I nodded.

      He handed me the much-loathed CD and said, “Can you climb up there?” He gestured at a set of shelves that reached almost to the ceiling.

      I climbed up, as instructed.

      “Now push up the ceiling tile and slide the CD into the ceiling. Don’t tell anyone about this.”

      The disappearance of the CD was much-remarked-upon, with universal glee. I’ll bet that CD is still there.

      1. Nanc

        Now that is some awesome managing! ID the problem [lothesomemusic], ID a solution [makeitgoawaynowplease], find the resource [rockclimberextrodinaire], implement solution.

    4. MaryMary

      One year when I was in college, I temped for Muzak during winter break. Of course, they played their own music channels in the office, and since it was December they played holiday music channels. ALLof their holiday music channels. We’d have a couple hours of the standard holiday stuff they play in every retail store this time of year, then a couple hours of traditional religious carols, then some instrumental holiday music, and so on. There was country holiday music, and pop, big band, Latino, oldies… At first I thought it was hilarious, but by the time my temp job ended I was ready to stab a pencil in my ears.

    5. Lizzy May

      I feel you. The music at my work switched over to Christmas back on November 15th. It’s awful and distracting but my boss won’t change it. Of course, the music isn’t piped into her office so she only hears it a few minutes at a time. For me, I never want to hear “Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer” ever again. I don’t have a solution for you but only a few more weeks to go at least.

    6. Elizabeth West

      Oh, this is terrible. I feel for you. Office music is an absolute deal breaker for me; if I interview someplace where they’re playing music, that’s it. They’ve lost me. I’m very picky about my musical accompaniment. That Christmas stuff would make me homicidal.

      1. Alter_ego

        I didn’t even realize that was a thing, but it would definitely be a dealbreaker for me. I can’t even imagine the logic to forcing everyone in a building to listen to the same thing, or anything at all

      2. Windchime

        OldJob used to pipe in music. Many of us figured out how to turn down/off the ceiling speakers (hint: there is a little screw in the center of the speaker that controls volume when turned. Not that you should ever do that.) One of my friends had nicknames for all the songs, because she could just barely hear them: “The Screaming Song” , “The Lonely Trumpet”, etc.

        I’m so glad that NewJob doesn’t do this. It’s bad enough that I have to listen to NewGuy whistle while he’s wearing his headphones.

  7. the gold digger

    A friend – let’s say she is a massage therapist – was hired by a family practitioner who wanted to offer ancillary services in his office. For the first two years, she was his employee. Then, last March, he told her he was changing her to be an independent contractor, which of course we all know he cannot just do. One is either an employee or a contractor and it is not as simple as unchecking a box. He said they would split her revenues 40/60, 40% to him for overheads.

    So she worked as a contractor until November. She doubled her revenues because she took over the marketing of the massage services and she is really good at marketing.

    The doctor then decided that he didn’t want her on his payroll at all but just wanted to charge her rent for the space in his office. OK. He’s allowed to do that – he wants a steady, predictable cash flow. He also told her that his office manager would no longer do my friend’s billing, so she was going to have to start managing the administration, too. She would be merely a renter in his office – he would provide no administrative services.

    It was when he approached her with three years of unpaid invoices – billing his office had done for my friend’s services that insurance had not paid (I know – she is not really a masseuse – she does something that insurance does pay, but I am trying to be discreet here) – and told her she had to pay for those invoices that she said “enough.”

    I don’t think he has any legal right to expect her to pay those bills. Does anyone here have any insights?

    So far, he has not pursued it. She found her own office space and quit. She is now out on her own. I think he probably knows he can’t go after her. I have never heard of any employer/contractor doing such a thing. Has anyone else?

    1. Artemesia

      What an awful person. I am not a lawyer but I can’t see any way he can go after her for bills he failed to collect when she was his employee.

      1. the gold digger

        OK. Good. Thanks, everyone. No, there was no contract. (I should have specified that.) I think he is crazy! I also think it is a good idea, as MousyNon and Natalie have suggested, that she talk to a lawyer. I will share your feedback with her.

    2. MousyNon

      IANAL but if she was an employee (and being taxed as such) without a contract indicating she was responsible for those invoices, and if as in independent contractor her contract didn’t specify she was responsible for those invoices, then I can’t imagine she’s responsible for paying those bills retroactively. It’s ludicrous.

      She should meet with an attorney just in case, but it sounds like this guy is just a creep.

    3. Natalie

      Not a lawyer, but I can’t imagine how an employee could be liable for the overhead of an employer. When she was a contractor, that presumably would have been covered in their contract in which case he’s SOL, too. (Although it sounds like they didn’t have a contract…)

      She might want to sit down for an hour with an attorney and make sure she knows all of her rights & options here, just for peace of mind.

      1. AndersonDarling

        I wouldn’t even worry about seeing an attorney unless she gets sued by the doctor. Unless we are talking about $$,$$$ amounts, then I doubt the doctor would go through the time and expense of hiring an attorney. He may get an attorney to send a nasty letter, which is just a demand, it has no legal requirement. If the doc is this much of a mess, I doubt he has enough documentation for an attorney to take the case to court.

        1. Natalie

          Definitely, just suggesting it because if she’s worried and she can afford, it a quick consultation with an attorney will put her mind at ease.

    4. Not So NewReader

      Wait. For the first two years she was his employee?
      Then as of March she was an independent contractor with a 60/40 split?

      I wonder if the unpaid bills are sorted accordingly. I think the first two years are his loss.
      The ones since March were under the control of his billing department, I don’t see how she can be responsible for something that she could not control herself.

    5. LBK

      Almost nothing about this sounds legal. I’m totally confused how being a contractor means you’re expected to split your profits with the contractee? Is there something I’m missing here about that arrangement?

      Also, you have me wildly curious about what her profession is, especially since when “masseuse” is in quotes my mind goes to lecherous places, but I can’t imagine insurance pays for that!

      1. the gold digger

        She is legit and insurance does indeed pay for her services! I rather doubt her former employer reads this blog, or else he would never have tried any of these stunts, but I did tell her that I would change the identifying details about her if I posted her story.

      2. Felicia

        This split is very common with massage therapist (i live in a province where it’s regulated by the government the same way doctors and dentists are regulated), and 60/40 with 60 going to the massage therapist is the most common split. But while it’s a perfectly legal arrangement, and the most common for RMTs, you can’t just switch to it. Especially not at a single place.

        Not a lawyer, but my work involves knowing massage therapy regulations in this province. The majority of states in the US have far less regulation for massage than we do but here anyways he couldn’t go after her

    6. Dan

      Unless she signed a contract agreeing to otherwise, then the agreement for payment is presumably between the client and the boss (that’s what all the insurance paperwork says… “if insurance doesn’t, I will!”). Without anything in writing, she has no legal or moral obligation here — especially when she was an employee. (You say the unpaid invoices go back years, which long predates the time she was an IC/independent leasing space.)

      With regard to the first part of my statement, while even that sounds loony, two people can enter into an agreement over just about anything and it’s legal. The areas where someone isn’t allowed to waive their rights or whatever are few and far between.

      1. Artemesia

        Still not a lawyer, but I asked one (not legal advice of course) and he said that in the absence of a written contract assigning her those costs,, the guiding principle is ‘practice of the parties’ i.e. what they did. So if she was paid on invoice as a contractor they can’t come back at her after the fact. Of course this also depends on state law etc — but that is the usual way this works.

    7. Observer

      The guy sounds like a royal idiot. Even mobsters know when to be sleazy. Why would he try to drive away a good source of income?

    8. reader

      I have to wonder if he’s having money issues of his own. Everything he has done would/could lower his direct costs.

  8. Self-Conscious

    I posted on the Open Thread a few weeks ago about trying to stay physically active while working at my new office job where I sit at a desk for most of the day. I’ve been putting the advice to use but the one I really want to do is the pedal exercise machine that fits under your desk. Does anyone have recommendations on a specific machine? It seems hard to find a good one, most have surprising numbers of reviews that say the machines fell apart after only a few uses.

    1. Laufey

      I don’t have any recommendations, but I am also curious to the answers on this. Do you know which open thread you posted on? I like to find some of that advice, too.

    2. Heather

      I hadn’t heard of that but it sounds like a good idea. Although I’m wondering how it would work when your desk chair is on wheels. I’m picturing myself accidentally pushing myself into the cube across from mine.

    3. NJ Anon

      We are actually going shopping for one tonight for my son for Christmas. He does a lot of computer/desk work and we want to get him one. I have not seen too many with great reviews either but, we are going to look anyway.

    4. NP

      I have one under my desk. It looks like the brand is Stamina. I got it on Amazon. It seems sturdy enough that it’s not going to fall apart anytime soon. I honestly don’t use it very much for two reasons: 1) your desk chair does roll back when you use it, and 2) my knees hit the underside of my desk when I use it. I suppose that (2) could be fixed by lowering my chair, but then my chair would be too low to use for writing or typing. I essentially only use it when I’m on conference calls where I don’t need to use my computer or write anything, so I can move my chair away from my desk and pull the bike out a little.

  9. straws

    Does anyone have suggestions on the best locations to post job listings for sales positions?

    On a related note, anyone in the delaware area looking for a sales position, let me know and we should touch base!

    1. Anonnynanny

      Have you posted on the UD career center site? I know they have a job board for both students and alumni.

      1. straws

        I haven’t yet, but I’m actually alumni so I do try to connect with their sites at some point. They’ve changed things up a bunch of times and we don’t hire often, so I have to figure out how to log in again!

  10. Elkay

    Clueless management alert with a healthy dose of sexism at my husband’s firm.

    Structure of the team is Partner>Director>Everyone else in the office (5 technical 1 admin). Admin is only female and is same age as youngest technical.

    Director emails everyone else (incl. partner) to say that they should all kick in $5 for a gift for admin (partner’s daughter) because of “How she looks after us all” i.e. “Aren’t we all so lucky to have a girl to look after us silly men”. She only looks after director and partner (in fact everything she does for technical goes wrong – train tickets, hotels, postage, catering requirement).

    There’s so many issues here but obviously the main one is management telling staff a) how to spend their money and b) that they should all gift another person who’s at the same level as them in the structure.

    Thankfully it annoyed my husband enough that he declined. They already have a secret santa going on.

    1. Colette

      I don’t think there’s anything wrong with doing something for someone at the same level as you – especially someone who helps you get your job wrong. In many places, admins are immensely valuable to the business, and recognizing them is definitely appropriate. (And $5 is a very small contribution towards an office gift.)

      Ideally, it wouldn’t be the director asking, but I think you’re reading a lot into “how she looks after us all”.

            1. Colette

              Will being the person who didn’t contribute to her gift help fix that?

              I mean, I understand that’s it’s frustrating to be asked to contribute to a gift for someone who you don’t feel is doing a good job, but:
              – the admin likely takes care of a lot of necessary grunt work no one else wants to do (ordering supplies, greeting visitors, etc.) and
              – it’s $5. That’s a pretty small amount to pay for some goodwill from the partner’s daughter.

              1. A Teacher

                I hate when people say its a small amount. $5 is sometimes what’s left after I pay all of my bills and student loans. Maybe its just from my dirty lens but I resent when a boss tells me how to spend my money.

                1. Colette

                  I totally agree that the boss shouldn’t tell you how to spend your money (this is an ask, as I understand it, but I do think it would be better coming from someone else). It’s also reasonable to say “I’m sorry, that’s not in my budget” when it’s not and it would be a hardship.

                  But if it is in your budget, or it’s an amount of money that you won’t miss, why would you want to be the one to annoy the partner’s daughter (or, for that matter, anyone in a supportive role)?

      1. Elkay

        The personality of the director comes into this quite heavily I guess. While she is general admin, she’s closer to being a PA for the director and partner.

        Curious as to why you’d be happy to give someone a gift when they help you get your job wrong though!

        1. Colette

          Ah, typos. :)

          I could see this being a (poor) attempt to get others to chip in to get a gift (but seriously, as a director, you should be able to buy a $30 gift yourself if you think it’s important).

        2. Laufey

          But you see, I’d also pay our Director’s PA $5 for Christmas to not have to put up with my Director. I could not do the PA’s job and every time the Director calls him to find a file or help with a tech issue or whatever, it’s one less time the Director is calling me.

    2. some1

      I’m a career admin and a feminist and this practice is incredibly standard because of the support nature of an admin role. Really the only sexism I see is calling her the “girl” and “silly men” part.

      Of course it should be voluntary and her performance issues should be addressed — but that’s a separate issue.

      1. Elkay

        That’s my interpretation of the email based on my interaction with the director at various events and his behaviour towards the wives/partners. At one he called his wife “this lady” when speaking to a waiter about her, she very much told him how wrong that was.

    3. Ezri

      The admin being the partner’s daughter sticks out to me more than her being a woman, particularly when you say she has made mistakes and generally only assists the partner (her father?) and director. The gift request is kind of off too, in my mind, mostly because a superior is asking employees to spend money.

      Maybe I don’t have all the context right, but it seems like the problem is more about hierarchy dysfunction than sexism. Definitely a strange situation though. 0_0

      1. HeyNonnyNonny

        Yes, this.

        At my office, it’s generally a thing to get Admins small gifts, regardless of level or gender, even if no one else gets one. But it’s really weird to solicit gifts for your own family member.

    4. Chriama

      I agree that there’s some “benevolent sexism” going on here, but my biggest issue is that it sounds like the director is soliciting a gift for his boss’s daughter from his underlings. Not cool bro. In general, it’s not unusual for higher level folks to chip in on a gift for support staff, but the dynamics in this office make that weird here.

      1. Elkay

        Thinking about it more, this is what I should have posted.

        I strongly dislike someone else deciding to spend our money and then I just got a bit rage-y about the whole situation. If this is the worst thing about the company I guess we/he has it pretty good.

    5. Arjay

      When you say the technical people and the admin are the same level, does that imply that they have similar salaries? While I agree the employer shouldn’t be telling you how to spend your money, this seems a lot less egregious if the technical people are making $60,000 while the admin is making $20,000. If there’s a disparity, I can see chipping in some cash for a holiday gift.

  11. CAF

    It looks like I am about to get a job offer once my references pan out. It’s a job doing exactly what I want to be doing at a great organization, and the team is fantastic. I kind of stumbled on a particular, narrow path after changing careers, so I was a bit worried, but it seems to be working out!

    1. Anon Sequitur

      Congratulations! I’m hopefully in the same boat, just waiting for one of my references to be called back. The waiting is excruciating.

      1. CAF

        Thanks! I contacted everyone they need to talk to, and they are willing and waiting to be contacted. The manager is ready to make the offer once she talks to those people. Congrats to you!

    2. Hermoine Granger

      Congrats to you and Anon Sequitur! I’m sure everything will work out great and best of luck with your new positions!

  12. Excel Geek

    Had a second interview this week for a position I would really do well in. The next morning, the recruiter (who I did not meet with but have corresponded with over email) called me to ask a few questions before they debriefed- am I still interested, am I in an interview process anywhere else, and if I were to be offered the job what would my availability be?

    Is this standard practice, or am I allowed to be optimistic? I think there are a couple other candidates who weren’t interviewed yet at that point.

    1. Anonnynanny

      I would be cautiously optimistic. For all you know, they’re asking this because you’re their second choice and they want to know how long their first choice has to consider/decline the position before they lose you as a candidate as well.

  13. Lux

    Is there any way to find out about the culture of an office before you start working there? I mean what it’s really like so beyond asking in an interview!

    1. KTM

      See if you can go to lunch or meet some of the team members rather than just the hiring manager. It would give you a better feel for the type of people you’d be working with and their offhand comments might be telling.

      1. GOG11

        What sorts of things would you ask about at lunch? Would you ask about the culture directly or just ask about other things and pay attention to the subtler signals/cues? (And if other things, what other things?)

        I feel that this should be more obvious to me than it is.

        1. KTM

          I think it’s ok to directly ask ‘what’s the culture like at your office’ but you’ll probably get more out of asking related questions and reading between the lines. I might ask ‘What do you like best and worst about your job’ and that will usually give some insight to things outside of just the actual work they do.

          It might be worth thinking about the things that are important to you and asking questions related to that. I know that I enjoy a fairly social office and a flexible schedule so I would ask if people tend to do happy hour together on Fridays or when everyone gets in and leaves (and how much it varies between people).

    2. Windchime

      You know, we just hired a guy a couple of weeks ago and he asked us ZERO questions. I took that as a warning sign–he had no curiosity at all about what he might be getting into?

  14. MousyNon

    I know Alison has always said that we should be careful to peg our requests for raises on our own measurable, quantifiable results and market value and not on any internal numbers or personal factors, but what if you’ve done that AND your boss agrees with you AND their boss agrees with them, but HR has stonewalled any increases with raise caps. At that point, would it be worth it at all to bring up (with my bosses) that I know the newest hire to the same position I’m in is making only $1500.00/yr less than me, despite my years of experience and quantifiable contributions to the company? (My guess is corporate adjusted up the salary tiers after our recent merger, but has no intention of normalizing existing employee salaries).

    I also know my company is one of those companies more likely to pay for an employee not to leave (i.e. counteroffer) than to give them raises to keep them from straying in the first place. Last year, I received a lucrative offer from one of our even bigger competitors. I turned it down because culture fit was a huge issue, and out of respect for my boss I never brought it up. However, I wonder if–even though it’s been a year–my boss can use this as leverage to help in pushing for a raise. I don’t, however, want to offend my boss by letting them know I was searching around in the first place (middling raises was a big factor on my beginning my search in the first place)

    I don’t know–I’m very frustrated and unmotivated, because I feel like my company doesn’t give a damn about me or the work I do, if not even senior management can get them to bump up my salary.

    For what it’s worth, I have no reason to believe my bosses are lying to me (though it’s possible). Also, for context, with the recent merger there have been quiet ‘resignations’ (layoffs) throughout, so I recognize that’s a part of it. I’m just not sure how long I’m willing to wait until things settle down–especially since this behavior is pretty similar to what the company was doing even before the merger.

    *sigh*

    1. Chriama

      Don’t think I would mention the other coworker. However, would you be able to talk to your boss “off the record” and mention the offer while making it sound like you were solicited and didn’t actively seek it out? If your boss feels like you 2 are on the same team, maybe you can come up a way to approach HR to prompt them to respond in “counter-offer mode”.

    2. Preston

      No way would I bring up the 1500.00. I would try leaving and see if you get a counter-offer. Also are you absolutely sure HR is stonewalling?

      1. MousyNon

        Like I said I don’t have any reason to believe both my boss and my bosses boss (the latter isn’t normally involved in raise conversations, which made this one unique) are both lying. Is it possible, sure, but given the company’s reputation for waiting until the last possible second to bump someone’s salary, I don’t think so.

        It bums me out, because I like my department, and obviously my bosses value me, but I think I’m going to have to move on (or try a counteroffer).

    3. Dan

      Why do you think your boss would be offended if you shopped around? It’s a normal, healthy thing to do. Sane bosses would encourage it to some extent… when you get disgruntled, you can shop around, and decide that the grass isn’t always greener elsewhere, and you come back rejuvenated and committed.

      And let’s be honest — staying at a place that won’t compensate you properly without strong arm tactics isn’t a great fit either. (I guess though that you could say it’s a better fit.) But then you also say that you’re frustrated and unmotivated because your company doesn’t give a damn about your or your work. So what “fit” are you still holding on to?

      1. MousyNon

        Eh, this is one of those artsy industries where ‘loyalty’ is still a word that’s tossed around (though inside it makes me roll my eyes), which is why I’m a little concerned about mentioning my shopping around. And my boss can be a little unpredictable in how they respond to things like this (most of the time it’s ok, but every once in awhile…). Do you think it’s worth bringing up an offer I already turned down?

        I agree that the strong arm corporate tactics should be a red flag for me, but there admittedly are other perks to working here. I enjoy my work, my team, and my bosses seem to value me, and this company has excellent work/life balance approach.

        But the pay is rapidly approaching a deal breaker (I admit, since I found out the new hire’s salary the dissatisfaction has gotten much worse in my head), and while I don’t want to leave as I don’t think I’ll find this work/life balance mix anytime soon, I just don’t think I’m willing to compromise my salary growth this early in my career.

        1. Dan

          “Loyalty” is something management uses to take advantage of those in a weaker negotiating position, aka underlings.

          I had the same mentality about my last job… “The pay sucks, I don’t think I’ll find this balance mix anytime soon, so I’m going to stick it out.” Well, guess what? I was laid off at the end of last year, found a job in my industry with the same work/life balance, and a 25% pay raise. Six of my former coworkers have joined my company, and some are coming in at $20k increases in pay.

          It’s honestly ok to sacrifice pay for work/life balance. Just do it while making an *informed* decision. You at least got a chance to feel out the market and see what your “true” rate is (salary.com is fine and all, but the proof is in the pudding.) But what’s a little harder to tell is what the work/life balance really is like. You say you’re early in your career; are you sure you have the experience to read the tea leaves about these kinds of things at other companies?

    4. Apollo Warbucks

      Are you sure you’re underpaid compared to what you could get elsewhere, have you looked at current vacancies in your area and field? It’s never a good idea to compare yourself to team you work with as there are several reasons why thy could be paid more than you, I found out that someone else on the team was paid $15,000 more than me for doing a very similar job i never brought that up mainly because I wouldnt have been able to do it without losing my temper and I wanted to make the case for a raise on my own merits.

      Alison wrote a good article which I’ll post below it really helped me shift my thinking about the situation.

      There is a maximum your firm will pay for the type of work you are doing. If you find that you are underpaid then I hate to say it but it’s time to start looking for a new job, the firm you work for already know you’re prepared to work for so your leverage is minimal.

      At my last job I spent a year telling my boss out right that I wasn’t paid enough and showed him job adverts online for similar roles paying much more than he was paying me I had a stack of evidence to show the value I had added to the firm. I put my CV out there and it took me 6 months to get an offer with a 30% raise.

      I went to my boss and told him I’d been offered a new job and what the salary offer was he came back with a counter offer that was so low it was insulting not that I would have taken a counter offer anyway, I told him that he should have focused more on employee retention way before it got to the point where I had another job offer.

  15. LinkedIn????

    When you’re applying for a job, what are people really looking for on LinkedIn and any social media? Are they just looking for red flags? Or, are people bowled over by some social media maven (when the job doesn’t have anything to do with social media)?

    I’m, frankly, a private person, and since I’m looking for my next gig have begrudgingly put a summary of my work experience on LinkedIn (in the summary section only). I contract so I don’t know if people want to see a long-winded list of 6 mo. – 2 year long gigs.) Do people care if you’re linked to 100 people versus over 500 (I don’t really link in with many people, even people I have great work relationships with)? Do people care if there’s a picture or not? (My introverted ways make me hate having my picture up there for all to see.) I

    I have my Facebook on lock down and really don’t use it much anyway, except to link RuPaul’s Drag Race or some completely non-work related thing and maybe like some post. (Yeah, I’m one of those occasional likers.) Same with twitter. I realize I could create a twitter account that has links to things my field, and whatnot, but I don’t do that.

    1. KTM

      This is obviously all just my own opinion, but when I look at LinkedIn profiles (which I do semi-regularly before interviewing candidates) it’s usually to get an overall idea of the person. I like to see what types of work experience they’ve had and the skills they list. I never notice how many connections they have. To me, not having a picture on there is a bit odd/I notice, but not having a picture is a better option than having an unprofessional one! (blurry, not appropriate clothing, etc). If I can’t find someone on LinkedIn it’s not a big deal to me, it’s just another data point for me to get an idea of the candidate.

    2. RR

      I, too, am a very private person. I am not on Facebook; I am not on Twitter. I am, however, on LinkedIn. I do not have a photo, and while I do link in with a number of professional contacts, I sincerely doubt recruiters pay that much attention there (and to the endorsements, which I think are largely meaningless). I would suggest a qualifications summary that uses common search terms for your industry. I know a number of recruiters start there. My profile includes this and a simple listing of my positions relevant to my current role. I know in my industry recruiters often do a search by employer and job title, so I have that. I don’t have much else., but I am contacted fairly regularly by recruiters. I understand what your concern about a “long-winded list” but perhaps a simple summary of the most compelling assignments you’ve had? I would think gigs for 6 months or longer, certainly those that lasted more than a year, would be worth listing. (I know folks who have much shorter-term contracts — say for a few weeks — now that could run into to lengthy listing….)

      I have heard from a number of recruiters that really do rely a lot on LinkedIn– not to form the complete picture of a candidate, but as a jumping off point to identify folks they may want to learn more about. So I would recommend having a LinkedIn account if you are in a field where recruiters do use it, but I think you can do this while keeping things basic.

    3. LinkedIn????

      Thanks for your responses!! I appreciate it. It’s good insight. I’ve had a profile on LinkedIn forever, pared it down to nada. And, it seems like recruiters are relying on it more and more to hopefully gain some insight to a potential candidate.

    4. Nanc

      AAM must be Introvert Central! Another one here–and I do have a pretty robust LinkedIn but I’m in Marketing so that’s kind of expected. Don’t forget LinkedIn has the option to join group and follow companies and influencers. You can choose which groups to show on your profile and tailor your profile to appeal to the companies you’re applying to. And once you’re hired you can leave the groups and stop following the other stuff.

      I only LinkedIn with folks I’ve actually worked with so while I don’t have a lot of contacts, I have good quality. As for a photo–mine is one my brother snapped while we were at a local park. You can see what I look like but it’s a casual setting and happens to show fantastic fall foliage so I’m assuming that’s what folks are looking at!

      1. De Minimis

        Ugh, I deactivated mine a while back [have in-laws with criminal history that we don’t want in our lives] because I want to keep my location anonymous, but now I may be back in the job market and if so we’ll be in a location where a lot of people use LinkedIn. I wonder if there’s a way I can use it without all my information showing up in a Google search for my name.

  16. PX

    Question for those with hiring authority:
    If you are in a field where finding good staff is always a challenge and there are (almost) always positions available, and you got a CV from a promising candidate who would not be able to start for a significant length of time (eg. 6months-1 year + from initial contact) – what do you do? Are you happy to have found a potential person and encourage them to keep in touch? Or would you rather they don’t initiate contact until they can start on short notice?

    1. LisaLisa

      Why not encourage them to keep in touch? Demonstrate that you’re interested without being too pushy or aggressive. If it’s a high demand field, they’ll get scooped up fast (and they’ll probably also get a lot of really weird aggressive recruiting emails, they might remember the nice polite ones)

      1. LisaLisa

        Did I misunderstand and think you were asking if a hirer should email when you meant should the candidate email?

        1. PX

          I was thinking more from the candidate perspective, but your answer is still useful (ie. keeping in touch is probably a good idea!)

    2. AdAgencyChick

      Yes, I’d want her to keep in touch for sure! Even if, when the time comes, I don’t have a spot for her, someone else I work with (or a former coworker who’s now at another firm) will. So I’d want to keep that person interested so that I’m the first person she talks to when the time is right, and I can either snap her up or hook her up with someone in my network.

    3. Sandy

      I’ve ranted about this so much on the open threads that I’m turning into a broken record.

      Part of it is industry-specific, some is employer-specific. Know the beast you’re dealing with!

      My employer, as a rule, puts out ads for positions 18 months to two years in advance (to give you an idea, we are currently hiring for positions that begin in either September 2015, 2016, or 2017).

      Most of the other employers in my industry do as well, although I’m discovering more and more exceptions to that.

      I think the easiest (although not yet widely practiced) way for employers to handle this is to put the expected timeline up front in the job ad. If you want someone right away, say so. If the position is anticipatory, say so. Let people do your work for you and screen themselves in or out!

      In the absence of that, I would get back to the employee in question and encourage them to reapply closer to the hiring date I have in mind- “Cersys, based on what I’ve seen of your CV, I think you might be a good fit at our company. Unfortunately, we normally only accept applications once the incumbent has moved on. I would encourage you to keep an eye out on our vacancies page as your target date moves closer.”

      I’ve also been known to keep an Outlook folder of good potential candidates’ CVs that I can call on if I need someone in a pinch or I have a colleague who I know is looking for someone with a specific skill set.

  17. Ali

    I got a performance warning at work yesterday. :( I panicked completely after work, ate dinner, sat around moping for a while and then dragged myself here to read about how PIPs pretty much mean you’re toast. I’ve also been sending out e-mails to some old coworkers and bosses for advice and just reflecting on what this means for me.

    I had been suspecting for a while that I was in a bad fit job and was no longer cut out for my line of work (media/journalism). I’d been feeling burned out and just not as focused, seeing as I was working every weekend, every major holiday and so forth. I’m not trying to excuse my mistakes, because I can’t deny I could stand to cut down on errors and I’m obviously on the PIP for a reason. I expressed to some people my concerns about changing fields, taking a pay cut and so forth (I am in a second job and have already asked my boss about turning full-time), but their opinion was that if you’re this discouraged, would it be so bad to change fields and start again?

    Of course, if my boss at my other job says no, I plan on continuing to look, working on my performance and seeing what can be done. And if nothing else, I know if my other job takes me FT, I can resign professionally and give two weeks notice.

    Sorry if this doesn’t sound like I’m taking “enough” responsibility. Obviously I’ve screwed up, but the job no longer fits my aspirations either. I’m just in a rock and a hard place…needless to say a PIP was NOT on my Christmas list!

    1. Colette

      I think it’s fine to ask yourself whether you’re in a job that’s the right fit, and it sounds like you aren’t.

      I would also suggest looking at the PIP to see if that’s all it is, or whether there are things you could improve at for a job in another industry. (Maybe there aren’t, but it’s good to think about it.)

      But really, it sounds like you’re taking the right steps here – you’re working on your performance and looking for something else. There’s not much else you can do.

    2. Bend & Snap

      That sucks, I’m sorry.

      It sounds like you’re spread REALLY thin. I think you need to either find a way to get some rest and renew your focus to get off the PIP, or start looking immediately. It’s hard to do your best when you’re working all the time and chronically burned out. Is it possible to pull back on the quality and use the extra time/energy to up the quality?

    3. aNoN

      I would react the same way. All I can say is take the time you need to reflect and start looking for another job. It sounds like this field is not good for your mental health and this might be a great way to get out ASAP.

      Good luck to you!

    4. Chriama

      Well, do you want to keep the job if you “pass” the PIP? Either way I would probably recommend talking to your manager about what this PIP means for your tenure at this company. Does she think you have a successful chance of recovering from it? Are there measures not listed in the PIP that you need to succeed at to maintain good standing at the company? If she seems hesitant about your future (or you actually don’t want to stay), tell her you appreciate her honesty and ramp up your job search.

      1. Ali

        I have been job searching for about six months and have been looking for a different job title outside of what I’m currently doing. I’m an editor right now, but I always felt I wanted to be in a position that involved more writing. I admit to falling into editing, as writing gigs can be hard to come by and I thought because I could write, I would be a successful editor. That…has proven to be not so true I guess.

        I feel spread thin by working two jobs, but I picked up a second job because it provided me a skill and some experience my other job wasn’t giving me. But like I said, even without the second job in the picture, I’d still be working every holiday and weekend at my primary job. I used to be on a schedule where my shifts were late nights, and I never felt great or well-rested. I think just putting in all those hours and the lifestyle has finally caught up to me. You can argue I should’ve known about this before I hit the 24/7 news business, but I guess I thought I wasn’t going to get burned out or that I could handle it because I wanted to be in media. I think now I’m ready for more general communications work with somewhat saner hours!

    5. Serin

      Hugs from a former journalist!

      When my work in the field crashed and burned, one of the things I did was got hold of a copy of What Color Is Your Parachute and did all the exercises in the back of the book. Later, when I was interviewing for analyst jobs, I found that interviewers were really interested when I said I’d done that — I got a lot of positive responses. I guess it indicates proactiveness?

      One of the LinkedIn recruiting columnists said that when he interviews people, he looks for “areas of personal development or special training” that the applicant initiated herself.

      All of which is by way of saying that anything you do now to improve your skills, either for this job or for some other field, makes you look good to future employers, because it shows you care about your skills.

  18. KTM

    I’m going to my company’s holiday party tonight at the CEO’s house (~20-30 people) and I know typically employees shouldn’t ‘gift up’ but I’d like to bring a small something to say thank you for him and his wife hosting the party (previous years the party has been in cramped restaurants and not very fun). I was thinking a nice gourmet treat like a pretty package of macaroons or something. He’s really into wine so I don’t want to bring that since I don’t know much about their preferences. Any other ideas?

    1. Artemesia

      Who could feel anything but glad with a small box of macarons and they come in sufficiently small boxes to be a token and thus appropriate for the occasion.

    2. Muriel Heslop

      I think that sounds very gracious and a nice token of appreciation for hosting. Even if it is a work event, I would probably do the same.

    3. MaryMary

      I think a small hostess gift is fine. I love to get flowers, but some people think it’s a pain to find a vase, fill it, find someplace to put it, etc. Maybe a holiday plant, like a poinsettia, rosemary tree, or amaryllis? I think your macaroon idea is great too

    4. Nanc

      I’m old fashioned. I think a lovely hand written thank you note to both the CEO and his wife, mailed to their home is the way to go.

      1. KTM

        Thanks for the recommendations everyone! I think I will stick to macaroons for tonight but I like the idea of a thank you note afterwards as well.

  19. Malissa

    Tis the season to celebrate the wins, no matter how small.

    Win #1. My desk got flipped so I face the door now and people can’t sneak up behind me.
    Win #2. The annual girls night out and gift swap has been turned into a long lunch.

    What wins have you been able to claim lately?

    1. matcha123

      Small wins can be a good pick-me-up :)

      I was able to convince my coworker to go along with my translation of a certain line from an article.
      No one will ever read it once it’s posted online, but, that’s fine haha!

    2. Bea W

      We’re converting two contractors to regular employees!!!!! I wanted to jump for joy!! The two lucky winners are well deserving and it’s about time for them! We have no been able to hire regular employees since…I was the last one, more than 3 years ago. We were not even allowed to replace regular positions that were vacated except with contractors. My boss has been fighting hard for this because short term contracts just don’t work so well, and we want to keep good people when we find them. One has been here a year and the other more than 2 years. I’M SO HAPPY FOR THEM AND THE TEAM!!!!!! HOORAY!!!!!!!!!

    3. Darth Admin

      I’m skipping my husband’s work’s holiday party with his blessing! His work party is a drunken “fest” at a casino 2 hours away from our home, complete with completely inappropriate comments and conduct from his coworkers, and lots of prayer. I dread it every year and am THRILLED I don’t have to attend this year.

      1. OhNo

        Wait – inappropriate conduct AND lots of prayer? Usually I see people complaining about one or the other, not both. Your husband must have hit the jackpot for terrible holiday parties in workplaces!

        1. Darth Admin

          You have NO idea. His workplace is one giant oxymoron. The evening starts with a long, participatory prayer to Jesus, and descends from there into collegiate levels of wasted-ness and bad decisions. Truly, it is in.sane. Oh, and it’s a family owned business, and the owners are right there in the middle of it all, leading the charge.

            1. Artemesia

              I worked with people who were slobberingly pious and clearly saw Jeeesus as a ‘get out of jail’ card — they were allowed to be disgusting lecherous drunks because ‘Jeesus is forgiveness.’

    4. GOG11

      When colleagues email me to request that I do a certain work-related task, they always leave off need-to-know info which is obvious to them but only accessible by database to me. Boss gave me the go-ahead to request that their requests include x, y, and z pieces of information.

    5. De Minimis

      Not sure that it’ll end up working out, but I’m pretty pleased that I got selected for an interview so quickly when I applied to a job last week. Feel like it bodes well for a future job search.

    6. EA

      Our team will be able to mostly work from home during the last 2 weeks of December. (Our office is located near a large theme park, and traffic gets really bad around the holidays … to the point that the other night it took me 30 minutes to get from the parking lot to the highway on-ramp about 1 mile away)

    7. Beezus

      1. A project on my plate that I HATED got reassigned to someone else! :)
      2. It was reassigned because I was assigned to colead a new project that I am way more interested in.
      3. My colead and I made great progress on the project this week, and have been getting lots of positive feedback.
      4. I went to the dentist yesterday and had no cavities!

    8. coconut water

      Got a part time temp position after not working for three years. I start next week. Since I was out with Severe PTSD, healing up well enough to get back into the workplace – is a big accomplishment. I figure temping for the large employer I had worked for over a decade is the first step in getting back into the working world. I’ll be in a very small, quiet department so I’m hoping it will work out well.

    9. Cath in Canada

      Met my last hard deadline of the year, 3 days early!

      Probably managed to switch the first step of the main process for my main project for something cheaper and that won’t create a big bottleneck! (The current option is so expensive, especially for small sample sizes, that we have to wait until we have big batches, to save money). This decision is pending final confirmation from the project’s scientific lead, so I’m not celebrating quite yet.

    10. Golden Yeti

      The bright spot of my week (month?) had to be a coworker getting a K Cup type coffee maker after a few months of no morning coffee available at work. She said she couldn’t bear to see me going another morning without a coffee. And, she said, it was something the whole office could enjoy. It meant the world that someone would be that considerate. Since it’s so rare I have a happy work story, seemed worth mentioning. :)

    11. Trixie

      I picked up a second yoga class to teach on a regular basis, as well as sub when needed. Perfect PT job if my back holds out. Now, I just need a FT job to complete the picture.

  20. LisaLisa

    I got taken off guard today by a job offer from my contract position. I was expecting the talk to be about reducing hours since that’s what we discussed doing before but my boss surprised me by saying he’s been pushing to get me that full time job I asked about. The only issue is the salary is pretty low which I am ok with ‘cuz benefits. But then it turns out they are a small employers so…no benefits really. Now, I am worried I sounded to agreeable to the whole thing because I was caught completely off guard even though it doesn’t sound like too good of a deal except that I don’t have another job. Wondering what I can do about the whole thing — don’t think I can really go and saw I know I was like “yup yup yup” about the salary before but now I think about it it’s actually not as good of a deal as I have now with you…

    1. Dan

      An employer will tell you that you don’t have a job until you have a signed offer, no matter what “good vibes” they send your way.

      The opposite is true, and you shouldn’t be held to a higher standard.

      I did the “sounds great” on the phone when HR called me with a job offer, but then told the VP that the salary sucked when he called me the following week.

      You can go back to your boss and say that transitioning from an IC to a full time employee is a big adjustment, and now that you’ve had time to think about it, you’re not sure that it’s the right move. At the same time, one legal issue that you have is that if your position can be converted from IC to employee with the stroke of a pen, then you probably should be classified as an employee anyway. So you may not have much of a choice, other than to say “no” and find another job.

      1. LisaLisa

        Yes so true. I think I am just frustrated with myself for not having the presence of mind to not say it up front.

        Re: converting to contract to employee would involve more hours and more responsibilities which is partly why it’s not a ‘good deal’ to get the same pay (and less freedom to my hours v. more stability).

        1. jordanjay29

          Don’t feel bad. I’m the type of person who does the same knee-jerk positive reactions, and usually the more I think it over, the more I find that I have more in-depth responses. Oftentimes, I don’t have the opportunity to go back and add more to my response, but you have this opportunity. Use it!

    2. AVP

      I think you have one more chance to negotiate, if you didn’t know that there weren’t benefits before agreeing to the salary. Ask for a second conversation to discuss that and go in with a statement like, “I hadn’t considered that there wouldn’t be benefits for a full time position here. In that case, I would really be looking for something closer to $X.”

      1. Artemesia

        This. Think it through carefully and let them know you assumed there would be fully covered health care and whatever and so would want to reconsider the salary since the assumed benefits are not part of the offer. Also try to negotiate more vacation time if possible.

      2. LisaLisa

        The whole thing was pretty loosey- goosey. I wasn’t so much an offer as a “since we had previously talked about reducing your hours, I want to make sure you’re still interested in a full-time situation.” I think I’ll need to be a little more aggressive (maybe not the right word) in the coming weeks about getting them to hammer out the details. I also told them up front that I’m planning on going to grad school in the fall (in 9 months) so this wouldn’t be a very long time gig but it also limits my ability to find other full-time positions. On the other hand I did mention the possibility of unlimited/flexible PTO and he seemed pretty open to that. Maybe I could also ask about telework Friday.

  21. Natalie

    I just noticed today that the phone extension and email for my co-worker who was laid off September 30th is still active. I have no idea why, and for some reason my boss doesn’t seem inclined to ask IT what’s going on. It does explain why so many people are surprised he doesn’t work here anymore, though. Sigh.

  22. AnonForThis

    I posted last week about my old job wanting me back. Update: I had a VERY long meeting with the former VP, and as expected, she initially lowballed my salary requirement (as I expected, about 10% over what I currently make). I countered with a 20% bump but she did not immediately say no. I also shared my technical requirements, all of which she agreed to do, including software and equipment. She did also agree to the salary line bump (I am a “C” currently — the old job was a “D”, so this represents an elevation) and being a direct report — which is very appealing.

    She wants to contact me next week to see if HR can meet all of my criteria and then I will consider it. They really, really want me. It is so weird being on the other side of this, I have to say, and I have to thank all of you from last week who gave me tips. I did not apologize for asking for more $! I also got enthusiastic greetings from every old co-worker I saw –they all were thrilled I had stopped by (though none knew why).

    Then, today, I come in to Current Job to a request from my boss for updates to a project (that I did months ago and sent to him — and he acknowledged that) that he cc’d my two departmental peers on. UGH. Lately he cc’s one or the other of them on almost every piece of work I do, but when I asked why, he said “to keep them in the loop, but (he) is happy with my work”, but it never goes the other way. Both of them have been here since the earth cooled and I will always be the “new kid”, which is annoying.

    1. LolaK

      I hate the “new kid” thing-I have been at my job for a few years but everyone else has been around 10+ years! Not being able to shake off the new kid feel from other people is really frustrating.

  23. AJay

    How much of a salary increase (or other benefits) would you need to take a new job with increased responsibilities? I know this is different for everyone and am just interested in hearing other perspectives.

    I have been working in my first full-time job for two years and love everything about my job… except the salary. I guess I am just trying to figure out if taking a new job with a higher salary is worth the risk of the unknown.

    1. AdAgencyChick

      I think the answer to that question changes very much based on what stage of your career you’re in! When you’re in your first job out of college, I think it’s a fairly low-risk situation to take another job. You have enough experience that if it doesn’t work out and you need to job-hunt again, you won’t be starting from the weaker position of a recent grad. But you’re not so senior and making so much money that it’s a Big Decision for a firm to hire you.

      So MY answer is that I’m happy where I am, and I don’t think I could be persuaded to move to a higher title with commensurate salary at all — because even at the job title I’m at now, I’m senior enough that it’s not easy to move around. Move up one more, and I’d damn well better be sure it’s the right place. Given the diminishing returns on more income (thanks, progressive taxation!), taking that risk is not worth it to me. But ask the same question to my self of 8-10 years ago, and I would absolutely move on — I *did* move on — for something like a 15% increase. (More, in my industry, is common when you’re at that height on the totem pole.)

      1. AdAgencyChick

        BTW, once you have a couple of years of experience under your belt — you’re in what my old boss would call the “salary-building phase” of your career.

        Even if you love your job — you’ve read enough AAM to know that employers often base their salary offers to you on what you’re currently making, no matter how much you try to turn the conversation to your salary expectations. So if you stay in one place for a long time, and that place is one that doesn’t give good raises, you put yourself in a worse negotiating position down the line. Sometimes it’s necessary to move around a couple of times early in your career to build your salary for future negotiations.

    2. Anonnynanny

      I think there are too many factors/variables at play to answer this well. Some things I would consider:

      – How challenging (in a good way) would the jump in responsibilities be? How challenging (in a bad way)?
      – What new skills could you develop in taking the new job?
      – What does the career path look like from the new job? How fast does it take to rise to the next level?
      – Is the new company a better cultural fit or are there some concerns about joining their team?

      How much is all of the above worth to you in comparison to the salary increase? What is the value that you bring to the new role? What is the market paying for candidates like you? These are some of the things I would take into consideration when thinking about the cost/value of leaving my role.

    3. Dan

      The real important question here is how much of a salary increase *you* would want for taking a new job with increased responsibilities.

      But since you asked, for me it really all depends. When you say “new”, are you with a larger employer where this job is completely different from what you’re doing now, or do you mean a completely new employer? Hell, I won’t voluntarily leave my current employer for less than a 15% increase in pay, regardless if it’s a promotion. You really want me to lead a real team? Then I want 20%. But that’s all relative — my pay approaches six figures, where 20% is a substantial increase.

      Then there’s issues with “work/life balance.” What happens if you’re an individual contributor who works “flexible hours” (and come in on the late side) but a “promotion” means you’re doing a rigid 8-4?

      Every case, and every person, is different. You have to figure out what works for yourself.

    4. Natalie

      A big factor for me would be how much time/energy I would be spending on those additional job responsibilities. I feel like I’m just about spread out as much as I can at the moment (school + work + personal life), so if I was going to take on more at work that raise would have to be healthy enough that I could afford a maid a few times a month, laundry service, and more to-go food.

    5. LolaK

      I’m 6 years out of college and still consider myself in the early stages of my career so I will always aim for more responsibility. Hopefully that comes with money right away but if that’s not true I would still leverage the experience into more money elsewhere if need be.

    6. Hillary

      I have the attention span of a gnat, so it doesn’t take much of a salary/benefit bump to make a change if I’m already bored (it takes long enough to get to that point that my resume doesnt show too much job hopping).

      I aim for at least 10%, but I’d take less for the right challenge.

  24. ZSD

    Two good things!
    One: My husband, who’s been unemployed since finishing school a few months ago, now has a new job. He starts Monday!
    Two: Yesterday, my boss’s boss came into my office and suggested that I think about applying for a higher-up position that might be opening up. She said she thought I’d be a “fantastic supervisor.” So she thinks well of me! (And thanks, AAM, for teaching me to behave in a way that shows I’d be a good manager.)

  25. sprinkles!

    WHat do you all think of departments that have about a million holiday activities but yet don’t have time to do real work?

    one area in my company is hosting a cookie swap/contest that is collecting money, a white elephant gift exchange, buying presents for needy children, collecting money for needy families, they decorate your cube contest, and of course a big staff holiday party. of course, this is also the same area that always weasels out of doing any real work.

    I love the holidays – I really do I promise. But it really bothers me that we are having all these freaking activities that cost time, money, and take time away from real work. Plus, our company has a strict “no solicitation” policy, so I’m not sure how they are getting away with collecting money.

    1. jordanjay29

      I thought no-solicitation usually applied to third party businesses (like a door-to-door salesman) and not company-sponsored motives.

      1. De Minimis

        I think you’re probably right, our policy is about as strict as you can get and we routinely have activities that employees put money toward. I think there may be some kind of limit on how much people can be asked to contribute per event.

    2. Jen RO

      To be honest it doesn’t sound like those activities take up so much time, except for the cube decorating contest. The rest of the stuff requires time out of work (shopping etc), but how long can it take to drop off a donation or exchange presents?

  26. Zillah

    Thank god for AAM.

    So I was at a party/networking event a couple weeks ago, and this guy came up to me and a couple people I was talking to. He introduced himself in a really awkward way, mentioned he’d seen some of us on LinkedIn, and then handed out business cards to contact him “in case any opportunities come up.” (We had introduced ourselves. That’s it.) When we said that we didn’t really do the hiring at our institutions, he asked for informational interviews – which felt to me like a pretty transparent way of trying to get an in. Then he wandered away.

    And I just. Oh my god. It was so weird and awkward.

    People used to advise me to do that. They said it was the only way I could find a job. I am so glad I found AAM before I pushed myself to try it. Because wow. He came off so poorly and so awkward, and I can’t imagine he did himself any favors.

      1. Zillah

        Nope – it was probably about two minutes, and then he went off to do the same thing to another group. I think he made the rounds to everyone. I felt a little bad for him.

    1. Kelly L.

      This is exactly what I had in mind the other day when talking about networking vs. Networking(tm). This guy was definitely doing Networking(tm)!

      1. Windchime

        Yeah, I think that some people really feel that this is what Networking(™) is. As was mentioned in the previous conversation, networking is really more about building a network of contacts *over time*.

        There was a woman who worked at NewJob before I came here. She was kind of high up in the org. I had a friend who was going to an informal BBQ at this woman’s house, so I was invited along. We met there, and a couple of times briefly afterwards. She has now moved on to another org, but now I know her. She is in my network.

        That’s the kind of networking I prefer. What this poor guy was doing was really awkward, but you kind of can’t blame him. He just got some bad advice.

  27. LizB

    I really dislike being the junior person on staff and working with co-workers who aren’t getting the best results out of their work. I want to give them advice or suggest alternate methods of doing things, but that would be totally out of line given how senior they are to me (none of them are my direct supervisors, but they absolutely have the authority to tell me to do things). I want to be able to collaborate and share ideas with them, but I feel like the levels we’re on are too different. Argh.

    1. Steven M

      Being junior doesn’t inherently make advice or suggestions out of line. It’s not good to come in to a new place (regardless of how far into your career you are) and immediately try to change a bunch of things, but if you’ve been there long enough to have gotten a reasonable handle on how things are currently done you shouldn’t feel like you can’t add to the conversation just because you’re junior.

    2. ThursdaysGeek

      Ah, but you can ask questions! “Can you explain why we use boiling water when tempering the milk chocolate teapots? I was taught to use flavor infused steam at CTU, and I know we’re making plain milk chocolate teapots, but does water work better than steam here?” Ask the question in a way that of course they are doing it the best way, but you’re just trying to understand the reasoning that makes it best. And perhaps, there are reasons for their methods, which does make it better. By asking questions, now you know that. And, perhaps they’ll start asking questions or at least thinking about your questions too.

    3. Jennifer

      I hear ya. I also think that some folks get a little mad when the “young whippersnappers” start telling them what to do, so it’s a “proceed with caution, at best” sort of thing.

  28. Stephanie

    So as I mentioned earlier this week, I started a part-time job. Work might be semi-relevant to some OR or supply chain jobs, even though it’s mostly admin work in a warehouse. (Hint: you hate getting their InfoNotices)

    But onboarding has kind of been a nightmare:
    1. I didn’t know how much I was getting paid until I saw my paystub this morning (and that was a nightmare in of itself to get)
    2. I don’t actually have a computer login. I’ve been using the morning person’s (I cover evenings).
    3. I am supposed to get an email address? My main communication method has been sticky notes and texting on my personal cell.

    1. Dan

      FWIW, when you say “might”, it’s a lot more relevant than you think. I started my career as a baggage handler for an airline, and you learn so much about how a business works when you actually *do* it, even as a peon. BTW, said employer has some OR functions out in Baltimore, as well as their headquarters. I’ve got a name of a guy who I met at a conference who would be able to answer questions. Can’t say that my personal introduction would mean anything (met him once at a conference 6 years ago, you’d be cold calling him), but you don’t know if you don’t try.

    2. acmx

      Hmm, I’m pretty sure that’s a former employer and I’ve been a customer of the supply chain solution side,too. I’m surprised about the latter side not being up front about the pay. Anyways, for the SCS, our group did have their own email addresses and logins.

  29. LBK

    I was going to send in an update to Allison but I figure since I’ve ended up becoming a regular commenter I’d just leave it here. I wrote the letter about one of the sales consultants I supported taking on tasks that were supposed to be part of my job. After reading the response and all the comments, I ultimately decided not to say anything about it – I’ve come to the realization that I am a HUGE control freak, and that was leading me to overreact to what were truly infrequent and minor oversteps of boundaries. I had zero other signs he was dissatisfied with my work (he’s effusive about his appreciation of me and is constantly buying me lunch and giving me accolades for the help I provide him) so I decided to let it go. We did eventually have a discussion as a department about who should be handling what as part of potentially reshaping our job descriptions and I ended up formally taking on those tasks, plus many others that had previously sat with the consultants or in a grey area. I’m now in charge of a lot more client communication versus just administrative background work, which is pretty exciting.

    However, due to various factors unrelated to this issue I recently started job hunting, and I’m now anxiously awaiting the results of a second interview I had last week for a role that will be much more tailored to my strengths and interests. Thanks to all the advice I’ve read here I had some killer questions ready to ask my interviewers to dig into the culture of the department and the expectations for the role, and the responses I got were phenomenal – it was almost frightening how much their answers echoed the way I think and operate. Fingers crossed!

    1. AVP

      good luck, from one total control freak to another! May you find a great new job and may no one touch your keyboard or move things around on your desk under any circumstances, ever.

  30. A.n.o.n.

    I met with the two senior people in my new department and it went very well. I took the suggestions of commenters and that really helped me get a handle on what goes on in the department, where we need to focus our efforts, and what kinds of things my direct reports enjoy doing. One is very nervous that I will take away two specific tasks because she’s very passionate about them. I told her not to worry. She’s good at them and is clearly loving it s why would I take that away from her. Cross train the other people, yes. But not take away from her. That would just make her hate her job.

    I’m feeling better about managing a whole department now. I think next week I’ll start regular one on ones.

  31. Squidoo Records

    So I’ve started training on the second half of my duties for my new position, and it turns out that right now is a HECTIC TIME for the copyright department here. There are a few boggling issues, the biggest one being that procedures aren’t being followed (people are supposed to send me and one other person stuff and then we process the requests with publishers, etc, but that’s not happening the way it should and the other copyright person seems bad at pushing back) and the second biggest (potentially bigger) problem is that we don’t have inheritable records for almost anything that we do. Emails are quarantined/made inaccessible to anyone but higher management after people leave the company and there aren’t paper records or ANYTHING. We do have a shared generic email address, though, that I’ve been trying to make into a useable archive of decisions, and I’m starting a little paper record system in my own office.

    So, if anyone has any advice about encouraging the other team member to push back against stuff that isn’t procedure/totally ridiculous to ask and/or resources for setting up a records management system from the wreckage of multiple peoples’ emails, that would be great.

    1. Observer

      For the record keeping, try evernote. Even with the free version, you can do a certain amount of sharing, and if they will spring for the business or premium accounts, you can share tons. It’s not the ideal solution, or the one I would suggest if your bosses realized there is a problem and were willing to invest in a solution. But, it’s better than nothing.

  32. Mimmy

    I really need to rant about one of the councils that I sit on. I’m keeping details vague in order to protect their privacy.

    *Alison – If this isn’t “work-related” enough for this thread, I’m fine with it being deleted. I just really need to rant and could use some input*

    TL;DR: Am I crazy to remain in a potentially toxic situation in order to build my career and keep a group functioning?

    Long version:

    So for pretty much this entire year, I’ve been involved with a state-level council that meets roughly once a month. Late last year, the director at an organization I volunteered with suggested that I apply for appointment on this council. After getting further info, I eagerly went forward with the application because I felt it would be very beneficial to getting my career back on track: I saw it as a resume booster and, more importantly, a great way to further build my network. It was in line with much of what I was interested in.

    However, largely due to some internal issues among the members, the council’s activities has been minimal. The meetings were not productive and sometimes even a bit tense. I always came away feeling disheartened. This past October, things began hitting a toxic level. Luckily, I was not present when things got ugly. But just when I thought it couldn’t get any worse, it did. Again, I don’t want to go into specifics, but I will say that the group has taken steps to alleviate the problems. A couple of the established members assured me that it was never like this before and to try to stick with it. The group has vowed to move forward beginning in January, which made me feel really hopeful that, FINALLY, my involvement will become worthwhile.

    NOPE! The aforementioned steps could end up biting us in the behind. I, for one, am very disheartened by all that has happened in the past couple of months, and has been making me want to jump ship. Problem with that is, the group is in serious need of new members and candidates. We have to meet certain composition criteria in order to get continued funding. That is why I am staying despite what I see as a toxic situation. I cannot leave the group in a lurch. Plus, as I said, I really need this to rebuild my career.

    FTR: This work is NOT paid with the exception of reimbursement for certain expenditures related to council involvement.

    1. Nerd Girl

      I read this thinking that you were describing the PTO at my kids school. I briefly spent time as one of the officers and spent 5 months feeling like I was banging my head against a brick wall. Meetings, discussions, arguments and no progress – and cliquey to boot! It was frustrating!!! I ended up stepping down from the role because it got to the point that just the thought of another meeting would have my blood pressure inching up.
      You mentioned that you have been on this council for about a year. Was there a designated time frame for your seat on this council, or is it one of those you’re in for life if you want it deals? If it’s the former, then I would recommend fulfilling the commitment if you’re able to. If this is something that you want to use to bolster your career then it might be worth the aggravation. If it’s the latter, then I would think long and hard about what you’re hoping to get out of this. Hope you can figure it out! Good Luck!

      1. Mimmy

        LOL nope, not a PTO! :) And your meetings definitely sound similar to mine, though I don’t think we’re clique-y.

        But yes, it is a term-limited position. My seat expires in April, 2017, although I could apply for a second 3-year term if I want to. There’s no telling how things will be in 2.5 years, either with the council or my own personal circumstances. But if I’m still here when my term is up for re-appointment, I will definitely think carefully about renewing!!!

    2. Anonsie

      If you hadn’t said state-level, I would have sworn I knew exactly the local council.

      I think perhaps all of them are like this…

    3. Not So NewReader

      Lots of questions, not many answers.

      Did the director give you some idea of what he thought you brought to the table?
      Did/do you have an idea of how you can make a contribution to the council’s efforts?

      How many people are up for replacement or renewal this year? (In other words, how likely is it that this counsel will turn over during your time on the council?)

      Is the director part of the problems? (If he is part of the problems then he will not be able to solve the problems.)

      Do you have specific action steps that are tied to this council and your career?
      Are you able to say you completed something, started something, introduced something- do you think you have any impact here?
      Do you expect this to offer you special insight/knowledge that will be helpful later on?

      I have been on a few boards (small ones) now and my new motto is I will not serve on a board if I am not going to be doing anything. I must have things to do and the board must be doing things. I can’t be one of those board members that puts in face time once a month and then disappears again. Is the council basically doing the work it is supposed to, but there is constant sniping? I might be able to live with that- it would depend on if there were other major concerns in play.

      It’s not so much the sanity of the decision as the practically of staying or going. That’s pretty much where my questions are leading- is this practical, is this realistic? Can you talk to the director and get some inputs from him? Is there anyone on the council that seems to be in alignment with what you think? That might be another person to talk to.

      I remember you talking about this a while ago. It does not seem to have shaped up into what you thought it would be. That is not the same as saying it is a worthless experience, though.

      One last thought, sometimes when I am about to give up, I start speaking up and saying things that need to be said. It reaches a point where there is nothing to lose and everything to gain.
      That could look like “We need to stop our petty disagreements with each other. It is wasting everyone’s time here. I don’t come here to argue with people. I am here to serve [insert logical words- the people/targeted population/etc], I want to do real work here and I do not have time for all this muttering that goes on.”

  33. AdAgencyChick

    For general discussion:

    What do you think a company “owes” you on business trips? I’m curious to see how the expectations vary by industry.

    In my field you typically get your own hotel room, you fly coach domestically (I’m not sure about transatlantic, but it doesn’t happen often), and you get meals and snacks reimbursed. Annoyingly, though, sometimes based on the quirks of an individual manager who approves or denies business expenses, sometimes “healthy” snacks qualify but “frivolous” ones don’t.

    I worked with a client once who had a very extensive wine cellar with tens of thousands of dollars worth of wine at home, and he would complain sometimes that he should be allowed to order the $200 bottle on the company’s dime because that’s the standard of living he keeps at home. I admit I also wish I could bill my gym drop-in fees when I’m traveling (because when was the last time you saw a barbell or a pullup bar at a hotel gym?), but I know better than to try it.

    What can you expense? And what do you wish you could expense?

    1. Elkay

      This is interesting because I’d argue that your gym membership is more expensible(?) than his wine but I’m not 100% sure why…

      I had a manager who used to sign off on everything, it was ridiculous and I’m ashamed to say I followed the lead of others who’d been on my team longer and spent similar to them (I’m just talking more/better food than I would eat if paying for it myself, I didn’t buy anything material).

      1. Katie

        I think the gym membership is more logical because it’s (arguably) needed to maintain health, AND travel prevents you from going to your home gym. The wine guy can still buy wine on his own dime while traveling.

        1. De Minimis

          This goes way back to college for me, but I don’t believe gym memberships can be expensed for tax purposes [though a company could still cover it for employee travel, but they wouldn’t be able to deduct it.]

    2. Bend & Snap

      I can expense food and travel/transportation.

      I WISH I could expense tipping.

      Comfort and downtime on the road are huge for me. Don’t make me run myself/my health into the ground to save a buck. Examples include redeyes, 16-hour days, same day in-and-outs for locations that aren’t that close and schedules that don’t let me do more than scarf a vending machine sandwich standing up.

      1. AdAgencyChick

        OMG, this. Fortunately I don’t run into too much pressure to travel on redeyes (I go cross-country a few times a year). I will do it only to get home on a Friday night/Saturday morning so that I don’t lose half my weekend.

      2. AvonLady Barksdale

        You can’t expense tips??? That is so strange to me. Tipping is part of your meal and, many times, part of your stay in the hotel. My new company lays out very clearly which expenses are covered and which aren’t, and they give guidelines for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, including tax and tip.

    3. Elizabeth the Ginger

      Sheesh. I do not agree with your client at all about the wine. IMO, your employer should reimburse you for things you would not have to spend money on at home – expenses that come from the travel itself. So, plane tickets, rental cars, hotel rooms, of course – and moderately-priced restaurant meals, since at home you have the option of cooking for yourself instead. Covering your gym fees would be a nice perk, especially on a long trip, but I also think it’s reasonable for an employer to decide not to spend its money that way.

      The wine, though – your client isn’t getting expensive wine for free at home, so why should the company cover his wine purchases just because he’s traveling?

    4. ZSD

      We can’t get reimbursed for any alcohol at all, let alone entire bottles of wine. (I don’t drink anyway, so this is fine with me.)
      I get reimbursed for hotel, meals (including tips), taxis (including tips), public transportation, etc. I haven’t tried it, but I doubt I could get reimbursed for OTC medication if I got sick on the trip, nor can I (to my knowledge) pay for anyone else’s meals while traveling, so it’s not like I could treat someone I was trying to woo.
      I wish I could get reimbursed for tourist activities I do while traveling. :)

    5. Gene

      I work for a municipality, so our procedures are pretty set in stone.
      Transportation – within driving distance, city vehicle or mileage at IRS rate – if not, coach airfare, then cab/shuttle; no rental car unless justified really well – no airport parking, but shuttle to airport covered.
      Hotels – conference or government rate
      Meals – usually per diem, but can get reimbursement with receipts if preferred – no alcohol.
      Ancillary expenses – this is where tips for housekeeping/cabbie/shuttle driver go.

    6. Not Myself Today

      My current employer only pays for coach tickets for international trips. I haven’t had to do any yet (thankfully) but I am appalled that they actually expect employees to make multiple trans-pacific trips in coach. I know one person who had more than twenty of these in one year.

      My previous employer allowed a bump in travel class if the trip was over five hours, which I thought was much more reasonable.

      I think we’re allowed dry cleaning after four days on the road, but I’ve never used it.

      I actually prefer less expensive restaurants in many cases, but I have been known to pay amounts I think are kind of ridiculous for room service when traveling. Sometimes I just don’t want to go out. I have never had any pushback on this from any of my bosses at multiple employers, but when you see some combination of 1) higher prices in the room service menu for the same item offered for less in the dining room, 2) flat rate additional in-room dining fees of $6-12 per order, AND 3) an additional “service fee” which may or may not be a gratuity – well I can see where the hotel is making its money.

      I still wince a bit when I get a bill over $30 for one order of mediocre pancakes and a glass of milk delivered at a Hyatt.

      1. Judy

        My last employer would upgrade from coach on the 5th trans-ocean flight of the year. Pretty much only the executives did that much overseas travel.

      2. Ann Furthermore

        I travel back and forth to Europe a few times a year, and it’s always in coach. The only benefit is that I’ve got preferred status with United, so I can usually get seated in Economy Plus. There are some places where you’ll get upgraded to business class, but it’s over a certain number of hours of travel. Like if I went to the offices in India or Australia, I’d get to go in business class. But there are so many people here that go back and forth to Europe — paying for everyone to go in business class would cost a fortune.

        We’re allowed to have laundry done if we’ll be gone for 4 or more nights. I’ve done 5 or 6 night trips, but I never send any of my stuff out for cleaning, because it’s really expensive. But I’ve taken a few 2 week trips, and on those I did not feel bad about having my laundry done.

        I also love to order room service, because it’s just so nice to have time completely to myself, and sometimes I get back to my room and I really don’t want to leave. But it adds up quick though! But I don’t really care…for the most part, I’m a pretty cheap date for my company when I travel, so even when I’m paying extra for room service I’m still not spending near as much as other people in my company do.

      3. Anonsie

        I’ve flown across the Pacific a good number of times, always in coach. It’s not fun but I kind of doubt flying first/business/extended coach could do a whole lot to make it better? It’s sitting in one spot for over 7 hours (I feel 7 is the line where you start to go crazy), unless the upgraded seats have some sweet perks I don’t know about, sitting in them doesn’t seem like it would be much less painful overall. Considering the additional cost, I could see it.

        But at 20 trips, wouldn’t they have some preferred status that allowed for <$100 upgrades? Was even that not allowed? Because that would be insane.

        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          No, it is much, MUCH better. We flew Global First on United when we went to Ireland last year (using miles; otherwise that’s insanely expensive) and it was amazing — seats that go totally flat so you can sleep in comfort, a constant stream of delicious food being brought to you (hot fudge sundaes, among other things), and amazingly comfortable seats. We were actually disappointed when the flight ended.

          It definitely makes a different.

          1. Anonsie

            That’s the MEGA-fancy seats though, they don’t have those on normal flights, do they? Those would be sweet no matter how short or long your flight was.

            I supposed I’m picturing the typical first class on the commercial airliners I’ve been on, where they have extra leg room and extra service and extra snacks but the seats are still just large airline seats.

            1. Graciosa

              Trans-ocean flights have much bigger differences between the seating classes on “normal” flights – having flown both, I will say that the difference cannot be overstated.

            2. Schuyler

              I agree with others here on how great first is. I’ve traveled to Europe a couple times with friends, one of whom works for United, and have been lucky enough to fly first class for most of those flights. We flew Lufthansa first class in 2010, and a couple months ago flew United Global First. I did sleep a little on the flight out a few months ago, because I hadn’t been expecting to leave the day we did and hadn’t slept much the night before. On the way back, though, I made sure to stay awake so I could take full advantage of everything.

              They are large airline seats, but they allow you to lay down completely, so while there is extra leg room (you can put your feet up even if you’re not sleeping), it’s more than that. The seats are also wider, of course. Dinner is an appetizer, soup course, salad, entree, cheese plate, the aforementioned ice cream sundae with your choice of toppings; you get a breakfast of fruit/granola/pastry/ etc.; and then basically as much beverage as you want, which includes wine, soft drinks, beer, liquor, mixed drinks if they have the ingredients for them…. They offer turn down service for the “bed”, snacks that might include warmed nuts (I never realized until last October that I like cashews), cookies or candies, water, and then they had laid out a bunch of snacks after dinner that we could have throughout the flight. I took photos of every course and made notes on everything so I could remember it. I don’t travel often with these friends, so I don’t know if or when I will have the opportunity to fly first again. It’s really hard to explain; I never thought I would think flying first vs. coach would be a big deal, but having done it I can say that if I could afford it at regular price (my ticket was heavily discounted), I would do it. There are only 7-8 people seated in first–the flights I’ve been on have only had 8 seats, but one was held for the pilots. That having been said, the level of service is incredible; on this flight there were four people working the first class cabin for the six of us. Honestly, it made me wonder if I could work for an airline–or whether I should look for jobs that pay a lot more in order to be able to afford that kind of accommodation once in a while. The patriarch of the family, who is the one who works for United, took the business class seat to let the three of us sit take first. They’ve said that business is very similar, and I think now those seats lie fully flat as well.

              The flight attendants were really great. I think they knew we were family (well, in my case, friend) on companion passes, and gave me an extra amenity kit or two to take home, so I sent one to my mom. There was some man next to me who I wonder if I should have known… he seemed a little familiar, and the attendants seemed to know him and were extra sociable with him, so he either flies the route often or he’s someone I should know. I tried googling men named Peter, but couldn’t find anything.

              One of my goals is to take my mom to Germany in a few years. I’d love to be able to take her first class so she could have the experience once, too. I know that if I ever end up getting married, I will definitely be keeping the wedding small and low cost in order to do a nice honeymoon, which would include flying first class.

    7. Bea W

      Travel costs, lodging, meals, snacks, internet access, and any other costs associated with traveling (taxi, parking, baggage fees, etc). I do not think they owe me alcohol or anything that is extravagant, like I certainly don’t expect a cushy first class seat and a private limo and being able to spend $100 on dinner or hair or new clothing. I think gym drop-in fees are totally reasonable if you belong to a gym at home and can’t use it while traveling, but you’re right, it’s not something employers will pay.

      There were many times I wish I could get reimbursed for all the pet sitting I had to pay for, but the trade off was I wasn’t paying for meals or groceries and that saved me money. So it evens out.

      I totally wish I could expense pedicures and entertainment while traveling, or even have a small allowance to say rent a movie at the hotel.

    8. AVP

      I work for a production company that often produces commercials. I don’t know if I feel I’m “owed” the following things, per se, but this is whats standard at my company:

      – all meals and snacks. If someone on our crew goes and buys a snack somewhere, or a few of them go for idea cream, I’ll usually buy their receipt with company petty cash. All coffee trips are included.

      – a coach plane seat, generally with extra leg room or early boarding if possible (this is a business decision, our camera fit into the overhead room but only if we get on earlier rather than later)

      – individual hotel rooms with incidentals covered (room service, gym usage, internet)

      – drinks with dinner, although within reason (no one except a client would ever try to order a bottle of wine worth more than $30!)

      – tips for anyone who is appropriate to tip

      – car service or cabs to and from their airport, or airport parking if you drive yourself

      – bag fees, if you check something at the airport

      All in all I love traveling for work because my regular budget goes basically to $0.

    9. MaryMary

      OldJob just gave us a per diem for food and personal items, but we could expense things like cabs, client meals, etc. Airline and hotelmwere booked at the corporate level. If you didn’t spend the entire per diem, it was yours to keep. If you went over the amount, it came out of your pocket. Some people felt the amount (I honestly can’t remember what it was now, I didn’t travel much) was a little low for cities like New York, but most people I knew ended up with $ leftover

    10. EmilyG

      At my old job, I got a meager budget for conferences but I could expense pretty much any part of the trip that I thought reasonable–hotels, domestic coach airfare, travel to/from airports, cabs, registrations, meals–with the understanding that the more you expensed, the earlier your budget would run out. At my current job, I get more or less unlimited reimbursement for all of those things for trips my boss and I agree are important–EXCEPT meals.

      I should probably be grateful that I’m getting more opportunities but I really hate paying out of pocket for meals since it’s obviously waaaayy more than I’d pay at home–I cook a lot. I’m trying to meticulously save receipts because I think I can count this as unreimbursed business travel on my taxes.

    11. HR Manager

      More standard from what I’ve seen: hotel, destination travel cost, food (there’s usually a meal/day budget and you fall in line), transport to/from work location, currency exchange fees, passport fees, immunization fees, visa fees — last few are of course for international travel only. My companies have always allowed a reasonable tip for services where tipping is the norm.

      Not included – like you said, gym use; clothes, if I’m going somewhere that requires attire I don’t really own (e.g., if you live in a warm climate but need to travel somewhere cold for business); other helpful work equipment that is travel specific (like a rolling briefcase for a laptop); reasonable personal use items (really, please can’t you pay for my toothpaste or a toothbrush if I forget mine, so I get ripped off with a crappy $10 toothbrush at the hotel store?).

      1. AVP

        I should have added to my list, we will definitely pay for things like toothpaste and tooth brushes if they’re needed or forgotten. And in-hotel laundry if necessary. Once I bought someone a t-shirt because we added days onto the trip and he hadn’t packed enough.

      2. Cath in Canada

        Really, passport fees? Everywhere I’ve worked, that’s considered a personal expense because not all the travel you’ll do on that passport will be work-related. One-off entry visas are always covered, but not passport fees per se.

        1. AVP

          I’ve bought extra pages for people’s passports if we were booking them a lot of visas and they didn’t fit, but never paid the passport fees themselves. We do pay for the visas of course.

    12. periwinkle

      I travel a bit on the company dime, so…
      1. Domestic coach airfare and international business airfare
      2. All meals (but no alcohol) including airport snacks, no-hassle expensing if you use your corporate credit card and stay within a per-diem limit
      3. Hotel and car rental booked through corporate travel
      4. Parking, airport shuttles, and other transport necessary

      The corporate travel system lets you put in preferences including airline/hotel/car rental frequent customer programs. It clearly labels flights and hotel rooms in compliance with policy, so you’re not left wondering if they’ll cover a particular flight combination. It’s not as totally painless as it sounds, but it’s a heck of a lot saner than what a lot of other companies do!

    13. Anonsie

      Healthy snacks only– that would drive me insane. Who gets to decide that, and what’s the line? My first thought is if they decided pastries were “frivolous” and the only other thing they ever have at coffee shops are bananas and bananas cause me what you might call distress in a way one would not want while traveling. I’m trying to imagine myself trying to get a scone and coffee reimbursed and explaining my banana tummy situation to someone in accounts payable.

      I’m probably being a little dramatic though. Ahem.

      I think my company does this really well. All your transportation-related expenses are covered (flights, cabs, rental cars, trains, whatever it is you use) to get there and to get around during your trip. You get a daily allowance for food based on the cost of the city that is really generous, and you can eat/drink whatever you want and it’s all covered (except alcohol) under that. I never come close to hitting my daily food allotment even eating out for every meal and snacks. I believe that things like internet fees in the hotel can be reimbursed as part of the overall bill, but I never get that so I’m not entirely sure.

    14. The IT Manager

      Cheap airline seats, baggage fees, parking or taxi, tips (if you name it right) for the drivers, hotel costs and per diem for meals

      The one really annoying thing that they skimp on the rental car sometimes making you share – not terrible unless you’re not both at the same hotel but leaves one employee or employees dependent on the driver – and worse if they don’t pay for rental car and you end up forced to take a taxi every time you go somewhere or simply stuck at the hotel.

      I’ve seen the traveller not know enough when planning the trip to end up spending way more on the total taxi costs than rental car would have costs because they ended up in a hotel in the boomdocks where she needed to take a taxi to and from work AND to and from dinner every night.

    15. Hillary

      I can expense meals, airfare (we do almost all domestic, not sure about the long flight policy), one alcoholic drink per employee, rental car or other ground transportation expense, and pretty much anything else we need.

      This week I expensed two large trays of cookies for the warehouse and a pay as you go wireless hotspot (that my colleague picked up at Walmart this morning since I drove back last night). The company also bought steel toed boots and more clothes for others in my group since the trip was extended for everyone except me.

      I wish we could do some petty cash on trips. I get tired of remembering to bring tips for hotel housekeeping, the hotel breakfast where it’s a coupon instead of credit card, or the airport shuttle driver. I try to bring $20 in ones if I’m flying.

    16. CAA

      We get actual travel costs (coach airfare, taxi, train, airport parking in the home city) plus the GSA per diem, which varies by destination and covers hotel (own room), meals and incidentals.

      I like the per diem because there’s no worry about saving receipts for every meal and when I travel alone I usually spend less than they pay.

    17. Windchime

      We get basically the same things: Airfare/mileage/hotel room are covered with receipts. Airfare is always coach and hotel is a single room. Meals are covered by per diem, so we don’t have to provide receipts for meals. I can’t remember what the per diem is, between $50 and $60 a day. Which is more than fine for me, because I don’t tend to eat a lot of fancy meals out.

      I’m fortunate that my work pays reimbursement very quickly, usually on the first pay period following submission of the paperwork. I can’t think of anything else I would want them to cover, except maybe transportation for my pet so I could bring him with me. :)

    18. LovingTheSouth

      Reading through the comments I didn’t notice anyone else mentioning communication expenses — and they can be large — always several hundred dollars per month and often around $1,000. I do a lot of international traveling (about 50% of my time is spent overseas) and my employer pays all passport fees including Global Entry fees and additional pages. In addition, they cover my cell phone — roaming, calls, international traveler phone & data plans, Skype World subscription. etc — as well as any internet fees in hotels or on planes. They have also covered an extra battery pack for my phone, as well as language classes. This is in addition to the normal reimbursements – air fare (economy plus), mid-range hotel rooms, taxi fares & metro tickets, meals, airport parking or shuttle service, appropriate tips. I suppose there is a limit to meals, but I don’t eat breakfast and unless I’m entertaining a client or prospect (which is totally covered), I usually buy salads or similar at local markets for dinner, so my meal costs are pretty minimal.

  34. IrishGirl

    First time commentator here!

    Living in Ireland, one of the things I find most interesting about this site is seeing how different countries have different norms/process for things. As someone currently in college, one of the things that’s struck me is how different the college application/graduation process is in Ireland/the UK compared to the USA.

    Here you don’t just apply to a university (we don’t say school for higher education), you apply to a specific course. Which means that when you’re 17/18 and doing applications, you don’t just apply to the University of X, but you apply to study for a BA Chocolate Teapot Making at the University of X. The courses you have to take are mostly compulsory, and if one is compulsory you are enrolled in it so there’s no ‘I need X to graduate but it’s full this year’. We don’t have any summer school, and deferring college or taking on extra classes is extremely rare.

    On the plus side, our course are a lot more specialised ie you’re doing just Chocolate Teapot Making from freshman year, no maths/french/philosophy thrown in. On the other, it’s rather awkward trying to switch course if you don’t like your initial choice.

    What do others think of the two different college systems?

    1. IrishGirl

      Also regarding internships,

      It’s reasonably common here to do a summer internship the summer before you graduate, or to have a specific semester set aside for an internship. Apart from that we don’t have the same USA culture of internships, it would be extremely rare for someone to intern a few hours a week during semester for example. Students often work part time, but it tends to be retail/waiting/bartending jobs as opposed to anything course/career related.

    2. Katie

      Hmm, I’m not sure your perception of undergraduate studies in the US is entirely correct. In my experience as an undergrad in the US, most people apply to a specific program before they begin their studies. It’s true that you can go in as an undeclared general student at many institutions, but that means that you aren’t able to start any program-specific coursework and once you apply to the specific program/ school you want to do you can still be denied or waitlisted, so it’s not a very efficient way to do your studies. And when you’re enrolled in a program, if a class is full it doesn’t matter that it’s mandatory- you might just have to wait anyway. Some schools are better (or have better budgets) at having enough sections of a particular course open. Others are not. I’ve known people who had to extend their studies by a semester or even a year while waiting for a particular course to have an opening.

      1. Zillah

        This isn’t my experience at all – I think it differs a lot based on the institution. At my undergrad, there was no program-specific application process – if you wanted to switch majors, you just had to declare a new major. And, while there were a few classes restricted to majors/minors, they were generally upper-level classes in high demand that you wouldn’t be taking until your junior or senior year anyway.

      2. fposte

        I think you’re talking about a US STEM university track there, though, where you apply to the College of Engineering, say, rather than the University of West Dakota. Even in that kind of university the arts folks don’t have to declare a major until later, and of course the smaller colleges (which, to confuse our UK friends, are basically smaller universities with no post-graduate programs) have college-wide admissions protocols. So it really is a different practice than the UK one.

        1. Katie

          Wow- I actually went to a public state school (and not in a STEM field, I was in education). You couldn’t just change your course of study without applying to whatever program you wanted to study. So interesting how different it is between institutions.

          1. fposte

            Yeah, big universities divvy it up a lot more. I didn’t know that Education was one of the tracks you had to declare right up front, but I suppose once it becomes a freestanding school in a big university that’s how it goes.

            1. Judy

              When I think of big universities, I think of the really big ones, 30k+ students. My sister went to a much smaller school, maybe 10k students at that, and she still applied to the biology department in the school of science, or at least the school of science.

              1. fposte

                I think it’s mainly the university vs. college difference (though even that’s not a sure thing, as I went to a small liberal arts university). I would guess your sister applied to the school and not the department–those are very different to a university.

      3. Anonsie

        This is highly variable. Some schools require department-specific applications all around, some don’t require them at all. Some still require them for all but it’s a rubber stamp for all except the most competitively desired studies (like, say, computer science).

        Some schools restrict courses by major, many do not.

    3. Zillah

      I think there are merits to both.

      I’m sometimes frustrated with how much liberal arts colleges in particular insist on exposing you to different subjects, particularly because of skyrocketing tuition – there’s some value in having exposure to a few different subjects, but not to the extent a lot of schools are requiring these days. I also feel like the mandatory classes are not necessarily practical.

      At the same time, though, the way that schools work in the UK kind of scares me – I think there are a lot of disciplines that people simply haven’t been exposed to yet when they’re 18, and it’s also a period where people (IME) change a lot – I think a little more flexibility would not go amiss.

    4. LCL

      Here we have community colleges, or junior colleges, where you can enroll in a specific program. These sorts of programs tend to be more directly oriented to a specific vocation, and are 2 year programs. They are a fantastic option for people that know what they want to do. Community college worked out very well for me.

    5. Karowen

      Regarding school vs. university – While school is used colloquially to mean education, it actually has a specific meaning when it comes to higher education. Universities have many Colleges, which can have multiple Schools. So, I received my Bachelor’s degree from the School of Journalism in the College of Mass Communications & Information Sciences at the University of South Carolina.

      As for the application process, I do like that you can go in not knowing what you want to do. That said, you do have to decide a major by the end of your first year typically, and plenty of people go in with an idea of what they’re going to do, if not their specific major picked out. For instance, I went to college knowing I wanted to go to the School of Journalism, but I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to do Public Relations or print journalism. While you can switch majors, it’s not always as simple as saying “meh, I don’t want to do this anymore.” If you’re trying to switch into a major that is competitive at the university, like International Business is at my alma mater, you can be put on a wait list or flat out denied. This can also happen when you’re applying to begin with. If you want to attend a school known for engineering, you can be accepted into the university at large but rejected from the specific program because they had too many other applicants who were better than you.

      I do wish that there were guaranteed spots for required classes. Instead, at my school at least, seniors just got first priority to sign up for classes – but if you missed your registration date, or decided to drop a class and add another, you may not be able to get into the class you really need. That said, if that would’ve been the only item keeping you from graduating, you were likely to be able to get an override to join the class. Also, I loved being able to take extra classes. I knew that there was no possibility of getting a job in history, so I didn’t bother majoring in it, but I loved learning about it. Because we were required to take general education courses, I was able to take a bunch of history and literature classes that have done nothing more than made me a great trivia teammate.

    6. Tau

      I did my undergrad in Scotland, which sounds like the same sort of system. Specifying Scotland as it has a bit more flexibility built in than England – four year undergrad instead of three and that’s mainly due to more opportunity to do other subjects in the first two years. For me (maths – I think this varies by subject and is definitely different for joint honours people) I had only 60 credits of core subject courses in first year and 80 in second year when you needed 120 for a full year, so you were forced to do some ‘outside subjects’ to fill up your course load but had absolutely free choice as to what those were. It also meant that if you were really torn between two subjects, you could basically 50/50 them for your first year and then decide after first (or I think even second – there was some flexibility on core courses in situations like that) year.

      I really liked the system because I knew going in that I wanted to do maths, but this way I could look into some of my other interests (languages and linguistics) on the side. And in retrospect I really, really wish I’d taken some computer science courses at this stage because it was a brilliant opportunity and that background would be handy now… knowing how to program in C is much more useful than knowing how to say “hello, how are you” in Scottish Gaelic, teenage me… Anyway, I can see how people who aren’t really sure what it is they want to do might do better in the US system.

  35. OfficePrincess

    Trying again….

    Coworkers who offer to grab you coffee while they’re out are the best. (And yes, we are good about compensating each other around here, either in cash or caffeinated beverages)

    1. Anonnynanny

      The other week, I happened to mention to a coworker that I was craving a chocolate chip cookie. On his lunch run, he picked one up for me. Coworkers who bring you cookies are the best, too!

  36. Anon College AA

    Big case of the “I don’t wanna”s today.

    My current position is was signed as a 1 year temporary position by the previous (acting) Dean, and that one year is almost up. My boss and his boss really really want to make my position permanent, or at least get another 1 year contract, but the new Dean hasn’t told them one way or another whether he will consider it, despite multiple meetings with him. I just want to scream – if you are going to say no, just say no already and put me out of this misery.

    In the meantime, I’m trying to make myself apply for other open positions at this place while I still ahve the advantage of being an internal candidate, but
    1) The application process and paperwork here SUCKS
    2) I hate writing cover letters
    3) None of the open positions are as good of a fit for me as my current position, and all have aspects of the job that I really don’t want to do

    ugh, someone wave a magic wand and shake me out of this place so I can just finish up this application and then at least I know I’ll have tried.

  37. stillLAH

    I just wanted to say thank you to fposte, katiethefed, and Alison for your advice about my upcoming discussion with a part-time employee last week! I had the conversation, but it her reaction was not one I considered until after I role-played with a friend–basically “Yeah, okay, sure” instead of being difficult. So I checked again that we were on the same page and then walked away feeling weird. We’ll see how it goes.

    To respond to the question about if I’m okay just riding the situation out, well…not really. But unfortunately I don’t have the authority to make the call. The people above are content to play the wait-and-see game and I think others who have been here longer than the three of us have been convinced by this woman that things would be Very Bad if she left because she’d take her toys (ushers) and leave. What a mess.

  38. Diet Coke Addict

    Had a day-long meeting at the facility of a enormous robotics company that employs thousands of people where they spent an hour telling us about how amazing their booth was at IMTS this year in Chicago.

    The lunch they gave us was a single plate of sandwiches and a single cut-up veggie tray, to cover ten people. The sandwiches were even the small kind that were sliced up into smaller pieces. Also, one bottle of water each. As a rule, I feel like if you’re going to host a lunch, your guests shouldn’t still be hungry after the food is all gone. It was a tense, hungry 2-1/2-hour drive home.

    1. Rebecca

      I have a confession to make: I always stash away a few nut and chocolate bars, or fruit and granola bars, like Cliff or Mojo, when I go to unknown places and there’s going to be a meal. You never know what they’ll serve or how much, and if I get too hungry, I get woozy and sick. Worst case scenario – I can always excuse myself to the ladies room and wolf down one or two of them so at least I’m not starving.

      1. Diet Coke Addict

        I do this too! I was beyond grateful to have spare granola bars in my purse to shove in my face on the ride home. I’m in the same boat as you with regards to getting too hungry, so I’m always stashing snacks if the meal is an unknown quantity. And thank goodness!

  39. C Average

    I had a surprisingly great week at work.

    I wound up taking over a project that interests me greatly from a colleague who was overwhelmed and didn’t really care about this particular project. It’s been a long time since I got to do something so interesting as part of my day-to-day work.

    I’ve been less-than-pleased with the role I’m in since day one, and my manager and I have had an at times contentious relationship. Recently, I’ve been trying hard to be a good team player while looking for another gig with my company, but have actually feared that my manager might be impeding my efforts to move on. I’ve been notifying her when I’ve applied for something else, as per company policy, but was just doing so as a matter of obligation.

    Yesterday she took me aside and said, “Why do you only let me know about these applications after you’ve put them in? I know you’d like to move out of this role and I totally understand why, and I’d like to write you recommendations and generally support you when you’re looking at other roles. I hate to lose you–you’re a valued asset to this team–but I completely understand and support your desire to do something different at this point in your career. Please let me know the details when you’re applying for other things so I can help in any way I can.”

    I was totally surprised and, obviously, pleased.

  40. themmases

    How much experience with a software package or language do you expect if someone puts it on their CV? Is coursework enough?

    I’m a grad student and just finished a course on SAS which was intended to get everyone coming into the department on the same page– it covered everything from showing you which window was which through basic data management and analysis. I’ll be using it in pretty much every class I take going forward, and my thesis. I ended up adding it to my “Software Used” section with (course) after it. When I sent my new CV to my boss who is helping me find a new job (our grant is ending), I told her just what I wrote here. Honest enough? Too soon? I like SAS and will only be using it more in the future.

    Everything else I’ve ever listed has been something I learned by doing and used at work, and I wait until I’ve successfully completed a project that used it to list it. What do others do?

    1. Dan

      So I feel your pain. One of the jams that you’re in is that if you send out resumes today and get called next week, all of this “everything in the future” stuff isn’t going to mean diddly.

      One thing you can do is take your chances, put it down and see if you know enough to get through an interview, if they even ask.

      If you’re using SAS in school and working on “real” projects, make sure to note them, so you can give the reader some sense of context as to your knowledge. As you note, “Knows X” can mean different things to different people.

      Hell, I write Java code most of the week. (I’m an analyst, not a developer, so my tasks aren’t just piles of code writing.) But if you were to ask me to rate my skills on a scale of 1-10, I just wouldn’t know what to put down. I certainly know enough to excel at the job I’m asked to do, but know that there’s plenty I don’t know.

      1. themmases

        Thank you! I have a blog where I document projects and writing that is relevant to my field, so my plan for the break is to show some of my ongoing practice there.

        I elected to include it for now because I’m only applying to jobs that are intended for students in more or less my field, and it’s understood that most of us gained this skill through our coursework. Most of the jobs open to me require grad school level knowledge of this program if they require it at all, i.e. a couple of courses and maybe a project. If it were for a full-time job open to the public, I probably wouldn’t feel ready to include it yet. Or I would include it only if it were required and I were confident from the job description that the level of use was similar to what I’ve done.

        1. Dan

          I don’t do hiring, yet… I had a very applied graduate program, so like half of my resume talked about how I used various programs/tools and applied them to “real” problems.

          In my line of work (grad school was mostly operations research), using the tools is only a small part of what makes a competent analyst. So, when I get resumes from recent grads that want me to pass them on to my boss, I’m looking for evidence that you know how to think through a problem, understand the relevant aspects, formulate an analytic model, implement the model, and communicate the results. Can you do all of that and explain your findings to me in plain English? Don’t talk to me about significance at the p-value of 0.05. Tell me what recommendations (or even your findings, if there are no recommendations) you have so I can tell my boss what to do (or not do) as a result of what you learned.

          So yeah, on your resume, tell me about your projects. The one where I used SAS, I built a regression model examining consumer loan default as a function of the individual scoring factors. For a different course in stochastic modeling, I used the same data to build a markov chain to predict the amount of defaults by the end of the loan period.

          So that’s what I talked about on my resume (among other things.) I wanted to show that I wasn’t blindly regurgitating data from the book and just plugging and chugging. And I got good jobs…

          BTW, if you put that stuff on the resume, you won’t have space for a lot of detail. That’s for the interview. I wouldn’t grill you on the theoretical details and hang you if you explain something a bit wrong; you get hung if I ask you about a project and you can’t give me a coherent answer in plain English. I want to know that 1) You did the work you said you did, and 2) You can talk competently about the modeling choices you made, the problems you encountered, and how you went about solving them, and finally 3) Your findings. Can I make a business decision based on what you did? Can you answer the question “great analysis, now what do I *do* with this?”

          Do all of that and you’re hired, expert or not in the specific tools you used. It’s only one aspect of the job, and it in and of itself is not enough to make your candidacy.

    2. AvonLady Barksdale

      I would write something like, “Completed coursework in SAS.” I work with a ton of different software, but I am very upfront in interviews about my experience with every piece and I try to be clear on my resume. Granted, I’m a few years into my career, but I have always erred on the side of caution with these things– I never want to start a job with higher expectations than I can meet. When I interviewed for my current job, I said, “I’ve seen [software] and used it a few times, but it’s been a while. I would need a refresher, but I can do it.”

    3. HR Manager

      Depends a little on the resume. If it’s on a fresh grad’s resume, and no other work experience is shown, I only expect some knowledge of the language.

      Anyone who has any work experience on their resume, I would expect listing a language means a proficiency appropriate to your work experience. So if I have a jr developer requesting 1-2 years of experience and you list Java, I expect you to be comparable to someone in my company with 1-2 years of experience with Java. If you are a seasoned worker, and you are applying for a sr developer role, I expect you to be proficient at a sr level. It’s relative.

      With that being said, one of my huge pet peeves are folks who put languages that they are not proficient in and don’t clarify their level of knowledge. I often see people who try to self-study the ‘hot’ language or tool to increase their marketability but in reality they have never used the language professionally. It’s very much false advertisting, IMO. I can’t even tell you how many people claim to be good at Selenium or JavaScript, and have no real practical experience with those.

  41. Katie

    Ugh. Pretty sure I just flubbed a phone interview for a great job. I know somebody who worked for this organization in the past, and they’re supposed to be great. Unfortunately, the interviewer seemed rather scatterbrained and distracted and kept changing questions partway through- “oh wait, no, I should’ve asked X instead of Y” “Oh, I didn’t get that, could you say that again”. It rattled me a little bit and I felt SO prepared (and am very qualified for this position). And now I feel like I’m going to stew over it all weekend.

    1. Not So NewReader

      If the interviewer was that scattered, s/he probably put down that you did well. I am thinking the interviewer felt that you were more put together than she was and that added to her scatter-brains.

      Don’t stew, what is done is done. Shoot her a thank you, maybe go over one or two really strong points and then let it go for the weekend.

  42. Joey

    A weekly PSA.

    To the folks in the job market, please don’t list your Zumba certification or the fact that you have a concealed weapon license on your resume unless you’re applying for say a Zumba instructor job in iraq.

    1. Elizabeth the Ginger

      Does a Zumba certification mean you’re qualified to teach Zumba? Or just that you are proficient at doing Zumba? If it’s the former, I think it’d be okay as a single line under “Other Skills” – though more so if you are actually teaching Zumba.

      I agree that mentioning weapon licenses on a resume is a bad idea, though.

      1. Helka

        I’m very grateful the Zumba evangelists at my job don’t have guns, they’ve been pushy enough without!

    2. HR Manager

      Why is the Zumba instructor a problem? I know people who put a whole slew of personal notes on their resume, including pilates instructor or yoga instructor certification. Note – I have never recruiter for a pilates or yoga instructor. It’s just the ‘here some personal info’ tactic that I see many people put. I’ve seen plenty of folks put hiking, jogging, etc. under their personal interests.

      The issue of guns is controversial and better left off, depending on where you live, for sure.

      1. Joey

        It wasn’t the Zumba alone it was the fact that listing a Zumba certification somehow implies it’s a job qualification

    3. Windchime

      I guy we recently interviewed mentioned that one of his hobbies was shooting guns and going to wine tastings. My first thought was, “What could possibly go wrong?”

  43. Amaryllis

    How do you deal with tasks or projects with deadlines that are weeks or a couple of months away? Conventional wisdom says I should set up interim checkpoints so that everything isn’t just left for last minute but it doesn’t work for me because there will always be other tasks with imminent deadlines that sneak in and I end up working on those instead of the longer-term project. Plus sometimes I have to wait for input from others which may not be available until closer to the deadline.

    Also, I’ve noticed that sometimes the course of action I end up taking on a particular tasks is different (better) than what I would have done had I started working on it earlier – e.g. because of new information or because it’s been fermenting in my head for a while. So I’m not learning any lessons there!

    1. Serin

      How about using a journal approach? Put a note on your calendar every Friday that says, “XXX Project: Write down next steps and lessons learned.”

      Then if there’s nothing new, you write down, “Still planning to do the research February 1 and the writing February 15, still waiting to hear from Aloysius re the email I sent him November 10.” But maybe this is the week when you decide it’s time to ask Aloysius for an update, or to take an hour you didn’t have plans for and devote it to reading journal articles, or that you can now see the project clearly enough to rough out an outline?

    2. periwinkle

      I’ve been really bad about those sorts of deadlines, much to my detriment. I’ve begun to divide up the projects into chunks with deliverables (even if it’s just an outline) that have hard deadlines. Instead of thinking, “oh, I have months to finish this,” I think, “crap, the list of resources needs to be complete by Friday, I’d better finish it now.”

      Using a planning tool (like MS Project) also helps because you can set short-term goals linked to prior goals – miss one deadline and watch all the remaining dates slide. Yikes.

    3. Windchime

      Our team has projects where we have a hard deadline about every 8 or 10 weeks. I print out calendar pages and number the countdown of days. So starting from the Hard Deadline date, I number that “1”. Then the previous day is numbered “2” (days left until Deadline). We post this in a conspicuous spot. So every day, we can look at the calendar and see that there are 23 work days left until Deadline.

      I started doing this because February sounds like a long ways away. But when you realize that there are only X days left, then it kind of helps to keep people focused.

  44. Persephone Mulberry

    My company is building a SharePoint site and apparently they are going to make me an administrator for it. I have no idea what it is other than it’s some kind of collaborative intranet reference web something or other that is going to replace our current archaic “intranet” site.

    What do I need to know about SharePoint in advance of our build training in a couple weeks? I’m plenty tech savvy, I just don’t like walking into something completely blind.

    1. Lia

      We use it, although on a limited basis. It runs best in IE (I know, I know) — some functionality is lost in Firefox or Chrome. I have often connected it to Access and used Access to do mass updates or the like — much easier than on SP directly.

    2. the gold digger

      There are Sharepoint support groups around the country. I have been to one meeting, hosted at the local Microsoft office. There was a presentation and then we asked questions and cried into our coffee about issues we could not resolve.

    3. HR Manager

      Sharepoint can be deployed in a lot of different ways – do you know how your company wants to use it? I’ve seen very frustrating implementations of Sharepoint that negated most of its usefulness, and some that were used as a great tool for communication, collaboration, and generally building an interactive employee portal/forum.

      1. Persephone Mulberry

        I have not a clue what their intentions are – I wasn’t involved in any of the planning discussion, I just got an email saying “we need you to show up at this date and time (in the middle of my super awesome extended PTO break, no less) to learn how to do SharePoint.” Mmkay.

    4. The IT Manager

      I’m sorry because SharePoint is often a pain in the ass.

      But SharePoint has gotten better in the past 10 years, but you will probably be critical in how useful it will at your company. It is powerful, but it can also end up being little more than a shared drive if that’s all you company uses it for.

      I’d recommend checking out info on it from Microsoft in advance of the training so you can start thinking about how you think your company may like to use it.

    5. The IT Manager

      I’m sorry because SharePoint is often a pain in the ass.

      But SharePoint has gotten better in the past 10 years, but you will probably be critical in how useful it will at your company. It is powerful, but it can also end up being little more than a shared drive if that’s all you company uses it for.

      I’d recommend checking out info on it from Microsoft in advance of the training so you can start thinking about how you think your company may like to use it.

  45. AndersonDarling

    I hope this isn’t too far off topic, but I was really thinking about work…I was thinking about Star Trek and how in that perfect future world there is no money on Earth, per se, because everyone has what they need.

    So how do you keep people working for you when you aren’t paying them? They must have excellent managers in the future, otherwise a person would leave their job after their first upset. Employees must be treated with the most respect and workplaces would always be civil and fair. Their work must be so fulfilling that they would rather get up and go to work rather than sleeping all day. And the desire to work would create a strong community, so that society could continue to function.

    So, if my workplace was built on this model, would I not feel like I needed to be paid? Just a thought.

    1. Graciosa

      Well, Star Trek doesn’t actually work this way. They do get paid (“credits” rather than cash) and use this money to buy things (and even gamble) so I think you may be misunderstanding how that particular world is supposed to work.

      A better example might be one of the attempts at this type of society on earth, although I can’t think of any that I would regard as particularly successful. I am reminded that people continue to compete for status no matter how much they pretend not to (the infamous military pen codes in lieu of official rank) so I think you’re making some unsupported assumptions in believing that it is possible to remove the competitive spirit so completely that workplaces function based solely on some utopian ideal of civility and respect.

        1. Graciosa

          There are still credits (and trade missions and so on) in Next Generation, so I think the reference was more to our type of physical currency.

          I say “our type” of currency because I’m still mindful of the many uses of gold-pressed latinum!

      1. puddin

        If 100 people in a community agree that 2 cows per household is perfect and set up an environment that is 100% geared to a 2 cow household there will still be someone who wants 3 and someone who wants 1, someone who wants all the cows, someone who wants only brown cows, someone who wants only big cows, and someone who wants goats. Even though everyone agreed at the beginning to 2 cows. Human nature.

      2. Gene

        Someone once said, “Communism is the perfect society, so long as people aren’t involved.” or something like that.

    2. Chinook

      AndersonDarling – are you actually the head of the Bank of Canada trolling for more international opinions? I saw this exact same question today on the CBC newswebsite as posed by him to New York Bankers yesterday.

      As for the answer, I think you have to embrace a more socialist attitude where you accept that people essentially work for little take home pay/high taxes but, as a result, almost everythign is provided to you you by the government. Or maybe it works because the characters in Star Trek are essentially military personnel and that system is set up so that the employer does provide food, clothing and shelter as part of your pay package?

      1. AndersonDarling

        I actually thought about this while watching NG last night and thought, gee, if I wasn’t getting paid to be working, I’d probably leave the first time my feather got ruffled. It is weird that the same idea/question popped up somewhere else.

        Just to clarify, I wasn’t thinking about socialism or communism. I was considering what it would take for people to work in an utopia society where everyone had what they wanted. What would compel people to keep going to work if they didn’t have to pay bills or save up for a playstation 4 or sportscar? I believe that people want to work and to produce something with their time, but it would be stressful for a manager to keep their people happy enough to keep coming to work.

        1. AndersonDarling

          To think of it in a different way, if you won the lottery but still wanted to peruse a career, what would your manager/company need to do to keep you happy and working for them when money is no longer an incentive. Then the question is, why don’t all managers/companies treat their employees that way?

        2. Elizabeth West

          Well, if you’re talking about Starfleet, that’s almost a calling–they really want to be there doing that work, and it’s almost like a military career. They get fed, clothed, housed, and holodecked (I want a holodeck SO BADLY I CAN TASTE IT) and they want to be there.

          I would imagine it would be the same for everyone else. Most people like to stay busy so they would gravitate to things that they are interested in.

  46. aNoN

    UPDATE: I am the poster that started a thread about my co-worker that pays a full-time nanny below min wage. Since then I contacted a friend who is a labor organizer, activist, and advocate for domestic workers in these situations. It turns out that the nanny has to report this situation, not me. I can see why the law is this way considering all that is at risk for the worker.

    In other news, I have taken over several responsibilities from that same co-worker. This person frequently complained about being tied down with other things. In all fairness, there is a lot going on so I can see where this person is coming from. I actually volunteered to take a couple of things because I was sick of hearing the complaining, I can do it faster, and I actually rely on some of the information the co-worker was providing but was getting it late in the month to perform the analysis required as a part of my job. I still can’t stand this person for so many reasons. At this point I have resolved to minimally interact as well as plug in my headphones the moment I hear condescending remarks or complaining.It is working out for me quite well and don’t feel as angry about it.

    1. ThursdaysGeek

      I responded to your other post: I was a nanny in college and got room and board in exchange for watching the kids. They offered to pay too, and I declined — I thought I was getting enough. I never even considered that I might not be getting appropriate pay.

      I had a friend who worked at a local motel. They would hire college kids and pay them less than minimum wage while they were being trained (for at least a couple of months). Then, when they passed probation, they’d move them up to minimum wage, and give most of their hours to another new kid who was willing to work for less than minimum wage. I told her she should turn them in, because I knew that was illegal. She was unwilling to do so — a bad job was better than no job at all.

      It sounds like you’ve done what you can do about the nanny. Actually, I like how you’re dealing with the co-worker — positives all around for you!

  47. Lisa

    Somewhat related to work. Debating if my 401k is worth it to put previous money into fund. They don’t match, and the company that does it for my job seems to have a lot of fees with basic maintenance. I feel like this company will suddenly lose the 24k I built up with my last company. What are the benefits for keeping my 10% for my company’s 401k – essentially starting from scratch, but putting my previous 401k into a bank one? I really feel like the 401k company is just a drone taking huge fees for no reason.

    I would love to skip the 401k company completely, and use a bank one, but I don’t know if I have the option if I want to put 10% away pre-tax. The 401k management company is Lincoln.

    1. Dan

      Go see a financial planner.

      Your sense of high fees isn’t off base, and if I were getting no match, I’d probably not want to invest in one unless the fees were low. Yours aren’t. Do you have a traditional IRA? If not, max that out first before investing through the company’s plan.

      1. Bea W

        Yes – see someone who knows about this stuff and can show you (in numbers) the different options. The upside to using your employer’s 401K is the pre-tax deduction from your check. That can be a huge savings to you, but other plans have other benefits.

        1. Dan

          So here’s the thing… if tax rates at withdrawl are the same as the rates at contribution, then a Traditional 401k/IRA vs Roth argument is a tie.

          It’s no secret that high 401k fees are a HUGE cost to the employee. I’d make the most out of a Traditional IRA first, and then decide if the tax savings from the 401k offset the fees. They probably do, but a high-fee 401k with no match isn’t something someone should invest through without making an informed decision about their options.

          1. fposte

            The sticker is that most of us don’t really know what our tax rates will be in future. My view is that if you’ve exceeded the deductibility threshold for the traditional IRA contribution, Roth is a good bet because it’s good to have something in post-tax space and you’ve lost the main advantage of a tIRA.

            Traditional vs. post-tax on a 401k is a slightly different decision, though; it affects so much more money and is so dependent on the plan in question.

            1. Dan

              When one doesn’t know something, diversification is usually a pretty good hedge against getting completely screwed.

              I’m not a fan of the advice that begins with “if you think your taxes in retirement are going to be lower…” because what lay person (or professional) has that crystal ball?

              What I do know is that my marginal tax rate (the rate on which I pay up front for Roth contributions) is 25%. I also know that I get a standard deduction and exemption before I start actually paying taxes (and even then, it’s 10%.) Assuming the same structure holds true in retirement, and is indexed for inflation, the first $25k or so that I take out will not be taxed at all. So for a Roth to make sense for me, I’d have to be reasonably certain that my effective tax rate in retirement would be over 25%.

              At the same time, tax advantaged beats non-tax advantaged, so while I’m not the biggest fan of a roth, I’d be paying taxes on both ends (instead of one) if I went with a regular investment account.

              1. Lisa

                Any recommendations for companies besides a bank? I had some place called financial solutions with my last company, which had this really simple 2045 401k plan. In less than 2 years, I had 24k. I wonder if I can do the same company on my own.

                1. fposte

                  Just open a target-date fund at a low-cost provider like Vanguard, Fidelity, or Schwab. (The reason you had 24k in less than 2 years probably had more to do with the overall market than the company, but you definitely want to stick to low-cost options to make sure.)

              2. fposte

                I’m in the “tossup” region–I teeter between 15% and 25% and will in most of retirement as well, so I do a Roth to minimize the RMD factor. However, I’m currently strongly considering delaying taking the pension for a few years after retirement to do Roth conversions on some tax-deferred space when I can keep things down to 15% for a couple of years. I haven’t crunched the numbers yet on health care and other relevant factors there, though.

          2. Bea W

            great point! I totally forgot about the fees because I have been fortunate that my previous employers didn’t pass the plan fees to employees, and my current employer’s plan has extremely low fees and a super awesome match.

    2. NJ Anon

      Can you put it in an IRA? Transfer your 401k to an IRA (do a rollover so there are no tax consequences) but not matter where the money is, someone will charge you fees. You need to do your research with the banks that offer the IRA’s.

      1. fposte

        Actually, neither Vanguard nor Fidelity charge for opening and holding an IRA (with Vanguard you have to get your statements electronically for it to be free–don’t know about Fidelity).

    3. fposte

      If the company doesn’t match, you should prioritize an IRA over funding a 401k. Lincoln generally has high fees, too. Are you funding an IRA?

      Your rollover options are determined mostly by your actual 401k’s rules, but if your choices are rollover to a high-priced Lincoln 401k or to an IRA with a low-cost vendor, go for the second. (I wouldn’t recommend a bank, though; they’re likely to be inefficient and high-priced too. Get a cheap target date fund at Vanguard or Fidelity or Schwab.)

      You may need to hold your nose and put some money in the cheapest options at Lincoln to get your savings rate where you want it after you fund your IRA every year, but you’re right–focus on getting most of your money into cheaper places.

      1. Lisa

        This is what I am thinking for the roll-over amount. Not sure if I should continue with my 401k company at this point. My sister used to be my financial advisor as she just gets this stuff more than I do. I suck at it, but know enough that I realize that the fees are practically burning my 10% contribution into a 2% contribution.

        1. Dan

          I think you’re missing something there. What you’re effectively saying is that the fees take 80% of your contribution, which just isn’t right.

          I’d believe it if your fees are 2% of your contributions, but that’s not what you wrote.

        2. CAA

          Others have recommended that you rollover the previous 401K to something like a Fidelity or Vanguard target date fund. Those are good suggestions because you don’t have to manage the money or really think about it again. You can keep rolling over additional 401Ks into the same account as your career progresses and you move from company to company. These target date funds are really made for someone who’s a long way from retirement, doesn’t have a lot of savings yet, and doesn’t want to actively manage the account.

          For your future contributions, there are some things to consider. You can put up to $18K in a 401K next year, while you can only put $5500K in an IRA or Roth-IRA. (I assume you are under age 50. If you’re older, the amounts are higher.) If you contribute to both a 401K and IRA, then the IRA contribution may not be tax deductible, depending on your earnings and whether you’re married. If you earn a lot, then you can’t contribute to a Roth-IRA. It’s really worth having a chat with a financial planner to whom you can explain your whole situation. Recommending the best plan for you really depends on knowing your salary and the amount you are able to save.

      2. Bea W

        So this talk of fees has me really curious? What are these fees like for most people? As I mentioned, my previous employers didn’t pass the fees on, and my current employer’s plan has very nominal administration fees that I really just don’t even notice. What is usual for fees on a 401K?

        1. fposte

          They are all over the map, and it’s horrible. Basically, most employers mostly just want the task handled and don’t pay a lot of attention to how. You get layered fees–management fees, m&e fees (since a lot of places doing these are insurance companies), wrap fees, loads, plus big expense fees on the funds themselves. I’ve found one source that says the average fees are 1.3% of assets, which is absurdly high (I pay an average, including fund expenses, of under .25). Additionally, a lot of these accounts make it extremely difficult to find out what the fees are (you can’t get them off the web for a lot of places, for instance).

          I’ll include a link in a separate post to illustrate why what sounds like a small percentage is really horrible, but another way of looking at it is to remember that a safe withdrawal rate in retirement used to be considered to be about 4% (now some are theorizing it’s closer to 3%). If you’re paying 1% in fees, that’s giving a quarter–maybe a third–of your retirement income away every year.

          1. fposte

            The first site includes a chart showing the effect of fees in a 403b (which is basically the non-profit equivalent of a 401k, so the principles–and math–work the same):

            http://403bwise.com/participants/getwise_403b_cost.html#fees

            Frontline did a great expose of this problem in “The Retirement Gamble”–that’s probably available online to watch for free, and there’s also a transcript here: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/business-economy-financial-crisis/retirement-gamble/transcript-43/

          2. Bea W

            Wow. WTF? 1.3% of assets is a lot of money to have to pony up, especially when you’re talking retirement accounts. I’d choke if I saw that leaving my account on a regular basis.

    4. ThursdaysGeek

      Oh, so diversification by just leaving money in previous company’s 401Ks isn’t a good idea?

      1. fposte

        Not inherently. That’s not what’s usually meant by “diversification,” since you’re probably holding much the same assets there as in any subsequent investments (diversification is really about the assets within the funds, even, not just the funds), and you’ve got additional risk in the form of the old company’s fate. Generally you’re better off just rolling an old 401k into an IRA, since you can put that where you want and can therefore control the expenses and fund choices completely.

  48. Perpetua

    Any recommendations for music-listening options at work with relatively low bandwidth consumption? We don’t want to limit internet access, but we’d like to be able to suggest an alternative to Youtube streaming to our employees.

    1. Laufey

      I like Pandora. I have way more channels that is healthy or normal. Like Elkay, I don’t know the bandwidth mechanics of it, though.

    2. HeyNonnyNonny

      8tracks has ‘mixtapes’ by users. They’re tagged by mood too, so people can search for ‘work’ or ‘get stuff done’!

      1. krm

        I love 8tracks. I can’t run it through my computer at work, but I can connect to our public wifi and stream it through my iphone.

  49. De Minimis

    Had my interview earlier this week. It went okay, you can’t ever really know for sure because you don’t know who the other candidates are. They’ll do a second round next week, we’ll see. I could go either way on it. It would involve a lot more nuts and bolts work than I do now [due to our decentralized structure, a lot of the journal entries/ledger work is done at the regional office] but would be better experience. It would also be good to work as part of a finance department instead of just being on my own to figure stuff out.

    …..but this could all be moot because my wife’s former employer contacted her AGAIN, about another job, an even better opportunity than the last one. Her chances are pretty good, and they said they wouldn’t need her to interview in person this time. But it’ll mean packing everything up, trying to get the house sold, and moving cross-country back the way we came. We’ve really been back and forth on it this week, but that’s where we’re at now. The job market here really stinks for my wife’s field, and this would be an opportunity she probably wouldn’t ever see again. Neither of us are really crazy about this area, and I’m ready to move on to a new job anyway.

    I’m just hoping that my 2+ years of recent experience will be enough to find something….I did not have any response to my long distance job search back in the fall, and I may end up having to move without a job. But at least there seem to be plenty of things to apply to.

    1. Renegade Rose

      I don’t really have anything to add, other thanI’m kind of in a similar situation. My husband was just offered an amazing opportunity but I’d have to quit the job I love and move without anything lined up. It’s a fun place to be.

      1. De Minimis

        For us it’s kind of turnabout, I put my wife in that situation when I took this job….I’m actually glad she will have the chance to work for that employer again.

        Of course, the job isn’t even posted right now, but the people making the decisions are the ones who contacted her about it.

  50. Hermoine Granger

    I commented a few weeks back about my issues with my current job search and three positions for which I was under consideration. I’m mostly venting but would also appreciate any tips or insight as to what I might be doing wrong or areas that can be improved.

    1 – After weeks of the HR person not calling when she said she would and also ignoring my request to provide a time at which she would call rather than just day, we finally had the phone interview. The call went ok, she was supposed to call back at the beginning of this week with an update but didn’t. I decided that I’d leave it up to her to follow up rather than going through the back and forth again.

    2 – The other position that was taking forever to arrange a second round interview finally got it together. I completed a rather lengthy assignment as part of the second round interview. I submitted the completed assignment before the deadline but they didn’t even acknowledge that it was received until I sent a follow up email to confirm. Still waiting to hear back from them. Ordinarily I wouldn’t be quite as bothered with this but the HR rep made it a point to go on and on about how dedicated they are to keeping candidates updated and has pretty much done the opposite.

    3 – The HR contact for the position that I really wanted changed. The new person was supposed to get back to me within a few weeks to let me know if there would be a second interview but never did. I sent a followup email after the original time frame was up but still hadn’t heard anything after a week. I sent an email to the hiring manager that I met with but they were out of the office so I’m now waiting for them to hopefully get back to me with an update.

    I understand that HR / hiring managers are busy with other things but seriously if someone takes the time to come in for an interview, it’s a bit rude to not take a minute or two to provide an update after weeks have gone by.

    I’ve edited my resume so it’s more condensed and only lists accomplishments. I’ve also worked on improving my cover letter so it’s shorter, focuses on my relevant skills that might not be obvious from my resume, and briefly ties in my experience to the responsibilities / requirements of the position. I’m still being diligent about applying to jobs but not getting nearly as many interview requests as I did during my previous job search (it wasn’t that long ago). I’m not applying to jobs widely outside of my experience so I’m kind of at a loss as to what the issue might be. I don’t know if it’s me, my resume / cover letter, the job market, the holidays, or a combination of everything.

    I have about 3 months of regular unemployment left and about 6-9 months of savings but I’d really like to find something decent soon. Tips for finding reasonable part-time or temp jobs would also be appreciated as I’d like to avoid dipping into my savings.

    1. Julia

      Start reaching out to temp agencies now. They’ll want to meet with you and have you take take some tests to determine your software/computer proficiencies. Even if you want to wait till after you unemployment ends before taking a temp job, its good to get the ball rolling and all that stuff out of the way.

  51. Anonyworker

    My boss is offering me a manager position for our group. I have umpteen years of experience in my field, and many years as a team and project lead, but I have never managed people. I’ve been at this company a few years. I’ve thought about moving into a management role as a possible career path, but I don’t know if I would be good at it or if I am cut out to be a manager.

    How do you know if you’re cut out for managing people? What can I look for in myself and my skills that will help me figure out if this is the right move for me? I feel like there is a lot that can be learned, but to some extent there are certain types of people who do really well in the role and others who just don’t ever get it. I don’t want to get into management and find out I am the latter! Any advice appreciated! I have the weekend to think it over before meeting with my boss next.

    If it matters, the company does provide training and mentorship oppurtunities for new (and seasoned) managers. So I wouldn’t just get tossed into it cold.

    1. LillianMcGee

      Think about interacting with colleagues. Do you like guiding them toward solutions, explaining things, helping other people grow? Have you ever felt like a mentor to someone (even if it wasn’t mentoring, per-se)? Did you like it?

      A lot of people are going to say you need patience, which is true but I think it is among a lot of other “managery” qualities you can learn along the way. I was thrust into a management role but found I was well suited (despite my terrible impatience) because I really enjoyed my past experience working with interns in a quasi-supervisory role. IMO the most important thing you need is a desire to direct and guide other people in their work.

    2. MaryMary

      Do you enjoy growing and developing people? Coaching, training, and giving feedback?

      Does being empathetic and sympathetic towards others come easily to you? Or do you have kind of force yourself to respond in a way you feel you “should”?

      Can you communicate a message that you don’t personally agree with? Could you manage and enforce policies you think are unnecessary or even stupid? Or does that type of bureaucratic stuff make you crazy?

      How do you feel about having difficult conversations with people? Does it bother you now when you see other managers ignore situations instead of taking action? When you get to a point in your personal life when you need to deal with a difficult situation, can you do it with a tolerable level of angst and anxiety, or does it tear you up? Or do you duck down and wait for someone else to take action?

  52. Renegade Rose

    I have a problem. I’ve been at Current Job for six months now and really enjoy what I’m doing. However, my husband was just offered a really great opportunity (better pay, better hours, WAY better benefits, and its closer to family) but we will have to move for him to take this job. We own a home now and I’m planning on staying with our house until it sells which will probably give me a few more months at Current Job.

    My question is two-fold: 1. When should I tell my boss about this? I’m not concerned about being let go prematurely, there is another person in my office looking for another job and she’s still employed here. If our house doesn’t sell after a certain period, we would try to rent it and I’d move to New City with husband.
    2. This will be the second short term job on my resume. I quit my first job out of college after six months because the company quit paying the employees and has since gone under. My second job was a short term contract position (9 months) and I completed the contact but it looks like another short term job. Now, I’m leaving Current Job after less than a year, which is not what I planned. I seriously planned on being here for a longer period and would stay if my husband wasn’t moving. Should I take the first job off of my resume?

    1. puddin

      I think it is safe to leave the first job off. You can always mention in it the interview if the time gap from grad to contact job comes up.

      1. De Minimis

        For your first question, it sounds like you have a pretty good relationship with your boss, I’d probably tell them sooner rather than later, to help them prepare and to make it a positive transition.

        I’m probably going to be in the same situation as far as needing our house to sell and staying behind while it’s on the market…..I don’t believe I would be let go if I told my boss [just because no one else here can do my job and hiring would take a long time] so I’m probably going to just put my cards on the table once our plans really solidify. And these people are the only ones who could give a reference for my most recent work, so I need to leave on good terms with them if possible.

    2. mdv

      The length of time really depends on the real estate market in your area, too. I have a colleague whose wife stayed back to sell their house and the kids finishing out their school year, and they ended up in cities 10 hours drive apart for almost 5 years!

  53. puddin

    The department I work in is very small and not necessary to the daily operations of the larger dept. It is really a kind of pet project area that the current executives like so they keep it (and us) around. Lately, we have been completely glossed over when we should be or have typically been involved in decisions, meetings, and various operations. The tasks that we are trying to complete nearly always need input from others – which we are no longer getting. I have not had more than a 2 minute conversation with my manager since September.

    Part of me just wants to hunker down and not bring these (and other) issues up because it will result in micro-management. It will, trust me. However, I am frustrated with the lack of interest and waning collaboration from co-workers and managers. I have been told that things will change in ‘two weeks or so’ since mid-October.

    The reason I come here every day seems to be unimportant to anyone outside the department. I suspect the whole dept could go missing for at least a week before anyone would notice. And that is not a good thing.

    I do not know what to do. I am applying for other positions outside the company so maybe I just let it be as I hope to be out the door soon anyway.

    1. Not So NewReader

      I would not mention any issues that would not directly improve the situation – for example the lack of inputs. I would just keep on with “I need A to complete task X.” rather than. “Getting info around here is like pulling teeth.” Just go inch by inch.

      Are there other opportunities for you internally? Maybe you are just feeling like you are done with the company.

      One thing that struck me is that it really seems to be your department as a whole and not you, as an individual. So, in a way, that would be easier to explain on a job interview, “The company has other areas of focus now.”

      It is very difficult to continue working when your work is being ignored/devalued. Can you increase the job search activities in any manner?

      Perhaps there are things you can do to expedite or ease the flow of information that you need to do your job – or maybe not. Once in a while, I am able to look at something with fresh eyes and relieve some bottlenecks here and there. It’s a long shot, of course. But what you are going through sounds really awful. If you could loosen up the situation in one or two areas maybe that would be a small help for you.

  54. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

    We hired somebody on the spot, first interview, this week.

    I immediately thought of ya’ll! We haven’t done that in at least 10 years, I don’t think.

    Reasons we were able to pull the trigger so quickly:

    1) he was a personal referral from a supplier whose judgement we trust
    2) he’d immigrated to the US from the UK in the last two years, and has no US work history to do reference or background calling, other than working for his in-law’s businesses (see, personal referral, same family, different member)
    3) he interviewed: Out. Of. The Park. Hit completely out of the park, everything.
    4) British accent. (Come ON, who wouldn’t hire somebody with a British accent in South Jersey? As an inside sales rep? Hire him!)
    5) exhaustion. He’s our fourth hire this month and we need to get this stuff cleaned up because all decision makers start leaving for holiday ’round about now.
    6) we were able to agree on money quickly. what he was looking for and what we were offering was a good match.

    But mostly, British accent, right? He’ll move a lot of teapots!

        1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

          Probably.

          Although if those snooty apparel retailers can get away with their “look books”, I don’t see why we don’t have a shot at it. :p

        2. Sam

          Just don’t date a guy based on his accent.

          You only make that mistake once….err….3 times.

          Damnit I never learn.

    1. Joey

      I feel bad for you if there are really no candidates in your area that can’t beat out someone with no verifiable work history.

      1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

        Eh, the guy needed somebody to give him a break or he was going to be working for only companies owned by his US in-laws for the rest of his life.

        Welcome to America!

        Plus, the downside risk for us is low since we hired four.

        Plus, British accent! He’s the only candidate with that attribute.

        1. fposte

          I’m reminded of the 9th Duke of Manchester, who was able to wring terrific amounts of money out of New York high society because of how smitten they were with his title. Just don’t lend this guy money :-).

          1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

            Ha ha, good point!

            Meanwhile, imagine this…….

            “Hello, thank you for calling Wakeen’s. How many teapots would you like today, luv?”

            The teapots will fly out the door.

            (no “luv”, just kidding)

            and P.S., he has both a sales and marketing background. The accent is a bonus.

            1. Joey

              What’s the big deal about a British accent in particular?
              I sort of think the coolest ones are the folks from undeveloped countries. To see them succeed is far more gratifying than someone whose country has opportunities.

              1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

                90% of my customers are women and 82.4% of all women watch Downton Abbey. And Sherlock.

                This is a known fact.

                1. Joey

                  oh I get that it’s probably the whole Jane Austen thing.

                  Chris rocks recent interview just got me thinking about how the lack of diversity in the entertainment industry influences us.

    2. Cath in Canada

      When I worked in a cinema in Ohio one summer they gave me way more than my fair share of in-person ticket sales / answering phones shifts, because of my Yorkshire accent. It was heaven – that was the only job in the rotation that came with air con and without popcorn stink.

  55. Darth Admin

    Just wanted to say thanks to those who commented on my question on last Friday’s Open Thread about how to talk to my team about changes to our annual holiday celebration. In the end, I decided to take them to breakfast, and presented it as a “thank you for all the hard work you do” celebration. So far most have been gracious, and doing breakfast instead of lunch will make a smaller dent in my personal budget.

  56. Anonyby

    So this year I had my first performance review, and it came back excellent! Plus it came with a bonus and a raise! Both were on the small side, but considering that these are my first after several years with this company (though I’m only coming up on my 1-year anniversary within this office)… Major boost!

  57. voluptuousfire

    I interviewed for a job last week and unfortunately it went to someone else who was better suited for the role. The rejection email had this bit:

    In the end, we found another candidate better suited for the role, however, we think you’re great and will definitely be considering you for future openings. Additionally, we encourage you to keep an eye on our careers page () and apply to Company X again in the future. I’ll always be happy to hear from you, please don’t be a stranger!

    I know this is is extremely good but I can’t help but feel frustrated and even a little bitter at this moment. It’s super frustrating because I’ll get the “oh, you’re so awesome but we gave the job to someone else who is a better fit! blah blah blah” stuff but it doesn’t go anywhere. When I’ve gotten feedback, I’ve been told I interview well but nobody can think of anything I could do better. Grrr! So frustrating.

    I’m allowing myself to wallow a bit and then move on. Besides, I have a phone screen for a really interesting role this afternoon, so we shall see! I’m also going on vacation in 18 days and I’ll get to see friends I haven’t seen for a few years so I’m mainly concentrating on that.

    1. Anon.

      It is frustrating, and I think we’ve all been there, or at least I know I have. Hopefully, when you get back you’ll have a refreshed outlook.

      It sounds like a personal message and not a boiler plate “thanks, but no thanks, and good luck” reply. Obviously they think you’re pretty fabulous and if a position is the right fit, would hire you.

      I know it’s hard, but I’ve found that often the jobs I think I want the most turn out to be duds, while jobs I think will be dull end up being really interesting and I get to work with great people.

      Somebody just may have more experience than you, someone may be related to someone, someone may know someone there.

      You may want to bolster your search with additional networking, like going to industry-related events or even a Meetup that’s networking oriented (depending on what you do). Maybe volunteer (if you’re unemployed and/or have time), and use that as an opportunity to network. You can do pro bono work at organizations like Taproot. These things will give you an edge and an opportunity to meet people.

    2. KTM

      I don’t know that this will make you feel better per se, but I had to write some emails this week to candidates I interviewed that sound exactly like this and it Was. Not. Easy. I feel like a total jerk telling someone how amazing they are but that we still are not going to hire them. In this case we had a really strong set of candidates and their long term goals/interests just didn’t line up as well with what our company does. I did actually reach out to one of the recent-graduate candidates to offer sending their resume to a friend of mine who is in a line of work much closer to what they said they were interested in.

      If you want to look on the bright side, at least you didn’t just get a rejection email without any positive feedback – you’re doing something right and it will eventually land you in a good place. (you’re still allowed some wallowing time of course :)

      1. voluptuousfire

        I know. It’s gotta suck saying “you were awesome but the timing stinks. Keep us in mind!”

        And that phone screen I was due to have didn’t happen because the interviewer called me from his cell and the call dropped twice. :( I called back and left a message and then sent a message to see if he wanted to reschedule. :rubs temples:

        Since the beginning of December, I’ve had two other occurrences:

        * one interview slot fell through because I couldn’t respond back quickly enough due to ferrying my dad to an all day doctor’s appointment. Turns out the response was time sensitive. Oh well.
        * one phone screen that was for a contract role and a possible temp role. The temp role didn’t pan out due to timing and it was only a preliminary phone screen for the contract role, they have other people they’re speaking with, etc.

        Opportunities I find come in batches but nothing ever pans out. It’s odd.

        1. voluptuousfire

          And it very well could work out that the “more suitable candidate” craps out in a few weeks and I get a job offer sometime in January. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from AAM, not all hires work out and there’s no shame in being the first runner up. :)

          And considering I’ve been out of work since April, I still get a pretty good response rate for interviews.

  58. TheSockMonkey

    I am thinking of changing careers and am hoping some of you might have suggestions. Most recently, I have worked as a writer/editor on government contracts.

    I think I may want to pursue something that allows me to use writing, research, analysis and/or synthesizing skills.
    Some suggestions I have heard so far from friends are paralegal, librarian, health care analyst, and market researcher.

    Thanks for any feedback

    1. MaryMary

      From what I hear from friends who work/worked in the industries, it’s difficult to break into being a paralegal or librarian. Being a librarian requires an advanced degree, and with public funding shrinking and a lot of the corporate jobs vanishing as more things are computerized, it can be hard to find open positions. Similarly, some thinga that paralegals used to do have been replaced or greatly simplified by technology. There are also a lot of unemployed lawyers out there willing to take up paralegal work to break into te legal field.

      What do you mean by healthcare analyst? I work with health and welfare plans, being an analyst can mean a lot of different things. How analytical do you want to get?

      1. TheSockMonkey

        Thanks for your comments. It makes sense to me that library and paralegal work would be hard to get into.

        The healthcare analyst suggestion was thrown at me by a friend, and I think she meant “research this field, I think there may be something there for you.” I do have a health-related degree and with the right additional training, something like that could be a possibility. But, I don’t think I want something so analytical that I am buried in numbers all day.

        1. MaryMary

          How do you feel about customer service/client service? If that interests you, look for benefit analyst/specialist/administrator/coordinator or account analyst/specialist/administrator/coordinator. If you can handle people upset about their benefits (or lack thereof) look for customer service analyst or specialist jobs. Data analyst, operations analyst, or business analyst are likely to be analytical or technical. Compliance analyst mighgt be a possibility, if you’re interested in audit-type work (but not necessarily numbers).

          If you want to stay with writing but kind of be in the backroom, think about proposal writer (non-profit and b2b proposals) or maybe technical writing.

  59. CapriquariusMei

    Just want to say that I have finally got out of my anxiety disorder & depression after 6 months (went back to school for a bit during this time…figured that I should start from square one again when I was at my lowest point) . Now, ready to get back into the work force. =D But dang, not much job postings during the Christmas season.

    A shout of thanks to Alison for your advices here! It’s definitely uplifting and motivating!

    1. coconut water

      Congratulations. It is a lot of hard work to get to the point you are at! Continue to take good care of yourself no matter what.

  60. Nervous accountant

    I was the one who posted about a weird interview a few weeks back, idk if anyone would remember it but I had been pretty emotional at the end of it, hence why I said it was so bizarre. I started last week and so far (knock on wood etc) things are going ok.

    At that point I decided it didn’t matter who said what or what happened……just focus on doing a great job. I had an informal chat w my boss and she said that it was a chance to redeem myself and she said I’m doing alright. I compare this time to last year….Even now I had so much anxiety before starting and my first few days that I couldn’t sleep.

    I still struggle with some things (client calls etc) but I’m getting better w the material and I now know once I have that most thing will fall into place.

  61. Jessica

    Just a random annoying coworker complaint: The person in the cubicle next to me apparently reads every email and document she receives out loud. She does it very quietly but I can still hear her whispering away. All. Day. Long. WHY???!!

    Yes, I know, I need headphones. Just needed to vent.

    1. HeyNonnyNonny

      Hahhahaha, my cube neighbor plays news radio and talks back to it. I wear headphones when I can’t stand it….but why do people not realize that cubicles are not sound-proof??

      1. voluptuousfire

        In a way, I think people forget. It’s like being in your car at a stoplight, singing your heart out to your favorire song (even if you sound like a cat being run over by a bus) but if you have the windows open, people can hear you. It’s that illusion of semi-privacy.

  62. Women's Professional Societies?

    Does it make sense to join a women’s professional society for a male-dominated profession? I am thinking of transitioning into lobbying work from my current job. I’m in a “pink collar” field but most of the lobbyists in my industry (and across the board are men).

    When I ask colleagues about good professional groups to join, several have mentioned an all women’s government relations group. But if the majority of lobbyists (and presumably, those with the power to hire) are men, doesn’t it make more sense to join a co-ed group? I’m not sure I have time to meaningfully engage in multiple associations.

    1. Graciosa

      Why not check out the LinkedIn profiles of people who are in your field in positions to which you aspire and find out which organizations they belong to? If you have time for only one, pick the one the majority of the successful people pick.

    2. Chinook

      “Does it make sense to join a women’s professional society for a male-dominated profession? I am thinking of transitioning into lobbying work from my current job”

      I think it does because it may give you insight and support with what you may have to deal with in a male-dominated profession (There is a male nurses association in Canada for just this reason – they were having to deal with things that the women didn’t understand). This type of group can also help with recruiting more of the under represented gender.

      That being said, I would personally look at what the organization does regardless of the gender focus. A female engineering organization maybe pushing their industry forward in a postive way where the co-ed group just sees themselves as a social group (or vice-versa).

    3. AVP

      I’m in a very different field albeit one that was also male-dominated for a long time (and still is, but not to the extent that it once was). At least for us, women’s professional societies have been a great resource because they’re smaller and have more of a culture of mentoring and helping out new people and setting up small events where people can interact, probably because they have less members to deal with. We have enough high-up woman who are involved that I didn’t feel that I was missing out on the real powerful people.

      I’ve been to the big, general professional society’s parties and events and it felt very anonymous, too many people so everyone just talked with who they already knew, and also partly like a pick-up scene.

      But I know lobbying is a totally different beast so YMMV with this!

    4. Joey

      Absolutely. I always advertise or search resumes at women’s professional orgs when I’m looking to increase the number of women that apply.

    5. puddin

      Can you join a women’s only (I agree with other reasons why posted here) AND a co-ed one? Maybe one will turn out to be the winner in the end but this way you get a taste for both.

    6. HR Manager

      I would say check out what the groups do. If the women only group does interesting stuff, sure why not? You can indeed join more than one anway. But don’t be swayed by the women-only thing if it doesn’t offer anything that helps you.

  63. PartyTime

    Last year, as part of my role as admin asst, I planned our office Christmas party single-handedly (not something I enjoy doing), and so this year I asked my boss a few months ago if I could recruit some other people to help. I got a few other staff members to volunteer. We had several meetings, which I organized and ran. I created agendas, directed the planning, delegated tasks, and made sure everyone knew the action items at the end of each meeting.

    At the party, my boss got up and thanked two of the other people on the committee, calling them the “co-chairs” of the planning committee, and then randomly naming some other people who had been recruited to help decorate that evening. He didn’t mention me at all. Part of me says I should just let it go, but part of me says that he’s so generally oblivious to what people do in our office that I should speak up for myself to make sure he knows what my role was. He’s specifically mentioned once before that other people are often praising my work and that he wants me to keep him in the loop more about all the things I’m doing. But I don’t know how I would bring this up without sounding petty. Thoughts?

    1. the real vanilla

      Maybe he assumed that you shifted the work to those people and weren’t super involved in the process this year like you have been in years past? Is he aware that you ran the meetings, etc.?

      Fwiw, I’ve been in your situation. Every job I get, I am placed on the party planning committee even though I hate it. I’ve expressed my displeasure to my current manager but didn’t do any good. I’ve found that the best thing to do is keep quiet, don’t contribute to meetings, don’t share ideas, and generally just fly under the radar. I really sympathize with you!

      1. PartyTime

        In my weekly meetings with my boss, I brought him the catering order for approval, told him the committee’s responses to his gift ideas, and explained that I had delegated the purchasing of decorations since he doesn’t like me to leave the reception desk during the day. It’s not even so much that he didn’t mention me as that he somehow decided two other people on the committee were the “co-chairs,” which is definitely not the case.

    2. Nanc

      OK–here me out! First, it’s not petty to feel unappreciated when you worked so hard! Second, if this was a spur of the moment thing, your boss may not realize he forgot to thank you for all your work.

      Why not write him an email and thank him for acknowledging your team in front of the company? Sum up what your volunteers did really well and how much they helped with the process and what you enjoyed about leading the planning for the project. You might also create an event planning sheet/calendar and a recap of the event itself, what challenges and obstacles you had to deal with and what might need to be done differently next time.

      The email does a few things. 1. it reminds him that you did the heavy lifting. 2. it allows you to point out the help you did receive this year made the process better (I hope!) and 3. by creating an SOP it will be that much easier to hand it off to someone else next year, or at the very least, let someone else be the leader.

    3. Not So NewReader

      I’d use the weekly meeting to discuss it. I would try to hit it lightly, but definitely I would say something. “Boss, you do realize that Jane and Sue were not the co-chairs of the holiday party, right?”

      I have used this light touch type of questioning and gotten solid replies where the boss indicated, “Yeah, I realized later that I misspoke.”

      If your relationship with your boss is basically okay (sane) this might work for you.

  64. the real vanilla

    I posted about this a few weeks back – one of our senior leaders sexually harassed a fellow coworker. The coworker was questioned and very embarrassed about the situation. It looked like the leader was going to be fired because this wasn’t his first offense.

    Well, I found out this week that no only is the leader not getting fired, it’s very likely he will be promoted in the next quarter! Unbelievable. This is yet another reason to find a new job. It’s so gross and disgusting.

    1. Not So NewReader

      I am so sorry to hear this.

      But I am glad that you see it for what it is and you are ready to move on.

  65. Annony

    Often—in my opinion, too often—my boss will swing by my office and give me an opportunity to leave early, by sometimes as much as an hour or more. I’d estimate he does this an average of twice a week. Sometimes when my objectives for the day are done, I take advantage of the offer and leave, but most of time, even if there’s nothing pressing to do, I stay (I’m salaried and this doesn’t effect my pay). He’s very lax when it comes to schedules with all of his reports, but I don’t know if he routinely tells everyone else to go home early. I don’t want to ask him outright to stop offering because I do enjoy occasionally being able to leave work early. I just don’t like that he offers so frequently. It feels odd. Am I overreacting? Is there someway I could encourage him to curb the frequency without having the privilege of leaving early revoked all together?

    Thanks everyone for any insight.

    1. HR Manager

      Do you see stuff in the office not get done that should get done? Are there projects that would be great if someone could get to them one day, but no one ever does? Do you know what the management’s aspirations are for the company and where they want to go? Are they missing that chance to reach the goals because they’re too lax about scheduling? If so, then it could be brought up. It doesn’t have to be all or none, but maybe just less frequent. If not, then I would just sit tight, be thankful that management seems to be content to offer wonderful work-life balance.

    2. Not So NewReader

      Ask him what the policy is on leaving early- tell him that you like leaving early once in a while, but you are not comfortable doing it with any regularity.

      How long have you been at the job? Maybe he is just trying to get you in the swing of how the office runs.

  66. RGirl

    I’m a frustrated crier. When I’m extremely flustered or irritated, I sometimes find it difficult to maintain my composure, which makes my eyes start to tear up. I don’t fully break down and cry, but the tear welling is obvious and embarrassing. Does anyone else who gets this way have any tips on what I can do to help combat it?

    1. sophiabrooks

      I do this. I am 41. The only thing that has combated it was to learn not to get frustrated or irritated, which I have done by using the mantra “I don’t care, I don’t care” This may not work for everyone, but my not caring seems to bring me down to the level of a normal worker’s caring, and I get less frustrated.

    2. JBlargh

      I do. I also have an active imagination that can overtake reality. That’s another story. :-) For the frustrated crier in me, I’ve found that if I mentally stop the process of becoming frustrated, in essence removing that pathway and looking at it objectively, then breathing through the waves of frustration, I can often get over it in a matter of seconds. This usually happens in private, though. I’ve had less luck doing this when interacting directly with others.

    3. puddin

      In the same boat as you. I don’t hide it at all. I state something like, ‘I am not crying this is frustration water.’ It is funny enough that it relaxes people who think i might go all bawls on them. And its the truth so maybe it helps to convey what I cannot articulate at the moment.

    4. Not So NewReader

      I do frustrated crying when I lack words to handle what is being tossed at me. Like if someone said, “Let me show you the problems with your work, here’s a list of problems 1 through 17”,
      I’m in trouble.

      Try to find the common threads, what types of things frustrate you? If you know that when several machines break on you in a short time, that the tears will come up then start making a little more effort to learn to do simple fixes. If you know that impossible deadlines really get your goat- talk to the boss ahead about this problem in a calm moment. In a third example, if you know that having five people demand something of you in short order really rattles you- develop a plan or method for handing that particular type of frustration.

      Basically, what I am offering here will help with the frustrations that are recurring. It does not cover the frustrations that happen infrequently or maybe just once ever. I find that if I get the recurring problems under control, I am less frustrated by the unusual problems. More recently, I have found that I have to keep a resource list of who to call for what problem. This also helps- nothing like not being able to locate a phone number ON TOP of having a frustrating problem. My resource list prevents my frustrations from compounding.

    5. Spare Me

      I do this too. Usually concentrating on my breathing for a minute or two will calm me down enough to be able to move onto another task and distract myself until I can deal with the real issue.

  67. De Minimis

    Forgot to mention, very happy that we seem to have avoided another government shutdown. It’s always a stressful time for federal employees, and it’s to the point where it seems to be a possibility at least once a year. We’re considered essential so we come in even if there’s a shutdown. Of course, in reality, we aren’t directly impacted by it unless it goes on longer than a pay period [which it did last time.]

    It’s also a pain for me as far as my job, since I’m the one committing funds and there are all these restrictions on what I can do until we’re 100% funded for the year. Just glad it appears to be more or less over with for another year.

    1. AVP

      Oh, that must be awful. Is there anything particular you do to prepare for the possibility? What about people who aren’t “essential”?

      1. HeyNonnyNonny

        Oh that’s easy. Us non-essentials go home and cross our fingers that we get paid so we can still pay our bills after a three-week hiatus.

        1. De Minimis

          We’re fortunate that our whole agency is deemed essential, and I think if we did get to the extended shutdown point where furloughs would have to happen, the procedure requires that any furloughs begin at the headquarters and not out in the field.

          Last year there was a fair amount of notice that a shutdown was likely. We all got paperwork letting us know we needed to come in to work and that we were considered essential.

          The weird part is that we have some employees who are paid from different funding sources that aren’t directly from the federal government [mainly through third party medical billing], and I believe they were paid through the shutdown as if it were business as usual.

  68. sophiabrooks

    Every year, we get an email about donating to a cash gift for our 3 cleaners and 1 facilities worker. I don’t usually contribute, because I think it is sort of weird for the secretaries and admin assistants, who generally make less money than the unionized facilities and maintenance workers, to be asked to give a donation. It is also framed really weirdly- the email is always entitled “A Holiday Offering” (which makes it sound like a burnt offering of some sort) and the wording smacks of “contributing to the less fortunate”, which is not really true. It is also weird because almost all of the “givers” are white and all of the recipients are black and hispanic and I feel like it contributes to the weird sense that the white secretaries are somehow better than the minority cleaners, and we should feel sorry for them.

    How weird am I being? Every year I want to say something about the wording, but I am not sure how crazy it is. The person who organizes the offering left, and I thought maybe the new person would re-word it, but it hasn’t happened. I also might just have work PTSD from an old boss who kept wanting to give our facilities worker a warm coat, because she thought he didn’t have the money for it.

    1. De Minimis

      From what you describe, it strikes me as being a little weird too…

      I like the idea of the offering, though…to the facility gods to ensure the building is kept clean over the coming year…..maybe if we did something similar we’d have a cleaner facility.

    2. Natalie

      It’s pretty normal to give service workers a holiday tip (cleaners, maintenance, hair stylist) especially if they’ve been especially awesome that year. That said, this usually comes from the management level, even if the card is from “everyone at Teapots, Inc.” The way they’re phrasing it is definitely weird.

    3. Anonsie

      Do your facilities workers really make more than the lower-level admin staff? Even if they’re unionized, that would be pretty unusual.

      Anyway, a big part of this type of thing is money, and a big part is because the facilities staff often don’t get other on the job perks that the white collar workers (even the very junior ones) typically do. Depending on the company they may not get the same holidays or time off, and arranging coverage is a very different animal. My dad used to have to be on call for something like 3-4 24 hour periods in a week, and as a kid we had a lot of dinners and other family time interrupted by him having to go fix a toilet or something. He didn’t get great benefits or sick leave or anything, and it’s pretty hard to arrange “light duty” when your entire job is heavier work, so he ended up essentially retiring when he had to start cancer treatment. Not like that stuff can’t happen with a white collar role, but it’s almost a guarantee with the blue collar jobs.

      So, you know, it’s nice for the staff you support to do something nice for you sometimes. I’m sure your office is making it heavy-handed (and back-handed, for that matter, no one wants to be thought of as the pooor poooor less fortunate soooouls) and obnoxious, but the idea isn’t a terrible one. It shouldn’t be about pitying people, and I hate it when they try to lay that guilt trip on you. It’s about appreciating the folks who work hard to help you.

      1. Sophiabrooks

        Our facilities people are carpenters/electrical repair people who are several pay grades above me. The cleaners and secretaries are paid in the same grades. And I do appreciate them and I think we should give them a gift and possibly even cash or a gift card. It is really the way that it is worded– an offering and the attitude about the “less fortunate” that bugs me coupled with some people’s attitudes that seem to indicate that we secretaries are better than the cleaners and facilities that rubs me the wrong way.

  69. JBlargh

    When reviewing job advertisements for federal contracts, what is the best way to determine the level of experience actually needed? I’ve seen jobs posted requiring 3-5 years of experience and describing the position as “senior-level.” From my experience, “senior-level” typically involved 15+ years of experience. I’ve seen colleagues with 12+ years of experience take positions that only asked for 2+ years. I often cannot tell the complexity of the work or the amount of oversight in most postings unless it is so obviously junior- or very senior-level. I often wonder if many of these postings simply reflect the contractual requirements for the position (BA and 2+ years; MA and 8+ years, etc.) and do not reflect the actual amount of experience that the company is looking for.

    Experience-wise, I’m in a weird position of having fewer years of experience than most of my peers, but often have more complex tasks and greater authority over those tasks. I also work in a niche of government consulting, so I rarely see a role that is similar to what I currently do. This in turn requires a lot of thinking about the position, if I’m qualified, adapting my resume, and writing a tailored cover letter. Since this takes a lot of time, I’m more targeted in my approach, but I often struggle to make sense of what the employer is really looking for. Any thoughts on making this a less painful process?

    1. EG

      I previously worked in recruiting for a govt contractor, trying to find niche people with a very specific skill set in certain laws. Based on what you provide, I’d say apply if you meet the stated requirements. Since you often have experience in complex tasks in this area, you might be pleasantly surprised that this fits a senior level role.

  70. Cruciatus

    I thought I had mentally moved on from the job I had applied to, but then I saw they took down the posting yesterday. Now I’m all “Are they starting or finishing? Which is it!!??” Sigh.

  71. chanlan

    Anyone have success moving up within a company after starting as an admin assistant? I am have an interview with a great company for an admin assistant type role, but am hesitant because I am not looking to be a career admin assistant, but rather work in management or marketing! Advice? Good idea or bad idea?

    1. AVP

      It worked out for me but I think it’s a rare success. It really depends on the company – there are some where this would be impossible, and some cultures and managers who love hiring from the admin pool and developing talent. The problem is, it’s really hard to know which is which from the outside, and hard to ask about in an interview.

      I would think about: what’s your background and education like? Could you get a marketing job at this place if an entry-level position was open? Do you need a job right now (any job)?

      I do have to say, the reason I’m good at my job right now is because I learned how to be a great admin, and then applied those skills to what I do now. It can be a great job and a great learning opportunity, so I wouldn’t knock it

      1. chanlan

        Thanks for your answer! I have 2 years post-grad experience, but the company is amazing and huge, so I figured after some time I could bounce around! That’s my hope anyway. I have my BA, so I do have the education and experience!

    2. Bea W

      That’s how I started, but I was on a project that had a lot of oppurtunity for cross-training and other things to do, and my manager was awesome about letting people take on work outside of their standard roll. We had a lot of work to go around. Officially switching over was difficult only in that HR gave both me and my boss a ridiculously hard time about it. I was a good admin, and they didn’t want to lose that. I was even better in my new roll though, and would have left if I wasn’t going to be able to move on. Win-win!

      1. Deskjob

        Well, not within the same company, but I truly believe the skills/exposure I had to different roles in the company as an admin got me to where I am today. Basically, after 2008 I stared as a temporary admin for a large financial institution, soon became full time, and then was offered another (non-marketing) position within the company. However, the company was simultaneously going through layoffs, so I contacted a recruiter, and landed a job as marketing coordinator in similar field. 3 years later and after being headhunted, I am the marketing director for a small PE firm. The industry experience and contacts I made as an admin are invaluable – they were my foot in the door.

        So I guess my advice is, go into it with all you got and make sure you take advantage of every opportunity you can to work with the marketing department – I made no secret that was my interest in the original company and even though it didn’t work out with them, it got me to where I am today.

    3. Sabrina

      I worked at a company where the answer was maybe. In 10 years I only saw it happen if the AA got a degree in a specific field, or (and more likely) they had an advocate in management that was willing to go to bat for them and say that they could do more than an AA role. Unfortunately you really only worked that closely with that level of management if you were a senior AA, and getting a senior AA role basically required someone to leave or die, AND for their role to be back filled, often they just parceled out the duties to other AAs. Basically, it wasn’t impossible, but it also wasn’t very likely.

  72. Dr. Doll

    I have a “boss crush” on my student assistant. S/he is so efficient and responsive, always on time, polite, patient, turns out great work for the most part (only one big but not important mistake so far — made the wrong set of 80 copies), flexible, communicative, smart. I wish I could have this person full time but sadly s/he has this little thing called wanting to graduate.

  73. the_scientist

    I had a job interview and a phone screen this week, and another interview next week! I’ve been job search for what feels like forever now, so I’m so happy to finally be getting responses! (And when it rains it pours, I guess?).

    My interview this week went very well- one of the panel members walked me to the elevator and told me that I’d had a fantastic interview and that they wished me “all the best on my search but had a feeling this was going to work out for me”.

    So, I guess that’s a good thing?? I feel like a scrupulous hiring person wouldn’t say something like that without good reason. BUT, I was the first interview for the position. I also interviewed there previously and thought that my interview went well…but didn’t get a job. So, I’m trying not to get my hopes up too much.

    1. voluptuousfire

      I’d be cautiously optimistic. Pretty much any positive feedback I get from interviews, I take it at face value. Trying to read into it just drives you crazy trying to decipher a meaning. Smile to yourself, stand a little straighter and congratulate yourself on the feedback and file it away and try not to think about it.

  74. Brittany

    I work in a social work setting. Earlier this week a colleague of mine got a call from a doctor’s office saying that one of our clients (whom I had worked directly with) was suspected of having tuberculosis and they need X information concerning this client.

    I called back the doctor’s office the next day (speaking with the same person my colleague had spoken to) asking if any precautions should be taken given that several employees as well as our clients had been exposed to this person. The doctor let into me, saying that I shouldn’t even be calling, it was highly inappropriate because the client has the right to medical secret, who informed me of this, people should not be stigmatized, etc.

    I am confused. It was the doctor’s office who informed my colleague of the particular disease in question. If we weren’t to know, they shouldn’t have said anything, right? I felt really bad after this phone call and I not sure if I acted completely unprofessionally. I don’t have a medical background and am not versed in the question of medical secret . Does anyone have any insight into this particular question or into how I should handle this in the future?

    1. fposte

      Hopefully somebody in social services will answer this and bring more knowledge to it. From where I sit, the problem the way your organization is handling this–the information you’re inquiring about should have been included in your office’s initial briefing about the TB, and people should have been provided with a point of information that wasn’t the client’s medical team (say, public health). I couldn’t tell you exactly where HIPAA plays into this and whether anything here was a breach, but I can understand the doctor’s office being taken aback to get a call from somebody they hadn’t been in contact with asking about medical information on a patient.

      So your office needs either to follow their protocol for such cases or devise one so that people know what they should do in this situation; right now it sounds like they’re leaving people to invention, and that’s not going to work out well.

    2. Mimmy

      I have some social work / social services knowledge, but it’s been a long time since I really used it.

      Did your agency instruct you to follow up on the call from this doctor’s office, even though you weren’t the one they initially contacted? Are you this client’s case manager?

      The way I’m reading this, the doctor’s office doesn’t realize that you’re calling from the same agency they had called the previous day. That is strange that they got upset with you when THEY are the ones who called!

      1. Brittany

        I announced the agency I was calling from and that we had received a call earlier in the week indicating that X was suspected of having tuberculosis. I asked if he had been diagnosed (probably shouldn’t have used this wording) because he had been in contact with numerous people in our service, including other clients, and we wanted to make sure we took the right precautions. Given they had informed us that he was suspected of having tuberculosis, I didn’t think my question would be inappropriate or a break of medical secret.

        My boss did not tell me to call them. My boss does not think an official procedure needs to be put in place concerning health related risks (even though we work with a population at risk and this isn’t the first time this has happened). My colleague who the doctor had contacted didn’t have the time to call them, so I did instead. I was the one who worked with the client.

        Another weird this about the call: The person from the doctor’s office I was on the phone with was under the impression that they had given this information to my boss, who they called Mr. X (my boss is a women, and out of office the day they called). I told them they had not been in communication with my boss, but with my colleague, but I they insisted no no, it was your boss not your colleague.

        Anyway to me the break in medical secret would be on the part of the doctor who told my colleague that X was suspected of having the disease, not in me contacting the doctor about what they already knew.

        1. fposte

          I don’t think what you did was wrong, but I also don’t think you should have had to do it–your office is asking for trouble if they don’t have a policy here. It sounds like the doctor’s office is a little discombobulated, but I really wouldn’t worry too much about their being upset.

          I suspect that there’s a public health component that means the health provider is required to notify likely contacts, HIPAA or no HIPAA (I’ve been assuming you’re in the U.S., BTW, and of course you might not be), but it’s a delicate cakewalk when negotiating two requirements with conflicting goals, and since I don’t know either of them very well I can’t speak to how exactly it should be done.

          1. De Minimis

            Our yearly training went over this, but I remembered it about as well as my yearly ethics training, but I do think I remember some type of public health related exception.

          2. Anonsie

            I suspect that there’s a public health component that means the health provider is required to notify likely contacts, HIPAA or no HIPAA

            Yep, and this varies state to state.

            What’s weird is that the doctor’s office called, though. Everywhere I’ve lived, the office notifies a public health agency, and that agency then contacts all the relevant people. That may just be the states I’ve lived in, though, I couldn’t say for sure. I wonder if, since these are social workers, that falls under the umbrella of the people the medical office is supposed to contact in your area.

            Also, you probably hit a rather overzealous person at the doctor’s office. We get calls for information we can’t give out all the time– you just politely tell them you can’t give that out and instruct them on how the patient can sign a release for you, you don’t scold them for even trying.

  75. Crow

    So far, all my questions to you good AAM readers have revolved around the fact that I am perpetually one step behind everyone in technology, and that I am generally OK with that. Now I have sort of a reverse question that arose from some threads from earlier this week.

    People don’t use voice mail anymore? Even worse, some of ya’ll don’t check your voice mail? I use it when I need to, and check it when it says I have one! Why don’t other folks? Has something supplanted voice mail? Ia it just inefficient these days? I don’t get it, and am very curious as to everyone’s reasons and thoughts. Thanks!

    1. MT

      That funny, i have a voice mail now, but i don’t know the code. I just look at the call log and call the person back.

    2. C Average

      Voice mail fills me with rage, and even I don’t fully understand why I hate it with the fury that I do. It’s not uncommon for people in my demographic to feel this way. (I’m a Gen Xer.) I’ve compared notes, and all of us hate voice mail and are at the same time bewildered by how much we hate voice mail. Many of us don’t listen to it, procrastinate about listening to it, don’t know our own voice mail access codes, etc.

      What’s really funny is that ALL of us can recollect a time when we had ground lines and answering machines and loved the ritual of coming home and pushing the button and finding out who called. Was it someone interesting? What did he say? Squeee! (I once had a long-distance boyfriend who read poems on my voice mail. Best welcome-home EVER at the end of the workday. I looked forward to that blinky red “you have a message” light all day.)

      I think there’s something naggy about voice mails that pushes people’s buttons. Because we all have caller ID, we already KNOW you called. Leaving a message to tell us you called is kind of akin to calling to ask if you got my email. It just grates. You’re opening that message thinking, “I *know* you called! I’ll call you! Quit pestering me! Leave me alone!” That feeling is exacerbated by the fact that your phone goes with you everywhere and people can use it to intrude on whatever you’re doing and remind you, “You owe me a phone call.”

      It’s especially irritating when they’re leaving information that would be more efficiently delivered by text or email. If you’re telling me something I have to write down, don’t leave it in a freaking long rambling voice mail!

      1. cuppa

        The only thing I do like about voice mail is that I can tell you what I wanted/needed. I have co-workers that are also friends, and if we call just to say hi or chat for a minute, we don’t leave a voice mail. If we did need something, we’ll leave a voice mail. It’s also nice because I can’t see my call log from home, but I can see a voice mail from home so I can contact someone if I need to.
        On the other hand, I can’t imagine life without Caller ID anymore (even though I lived through it!). The thought of the phone ringing and having no idea who is on the other side really freaks me out.

        1. Persephone Mulberry

          YES to caller ID. I love being able to screen calls…if I’m in the middle of something I know better than to pick up when Jane calls because I’ll be stuck for 15 minutes. (Of course then I have to listen to Jane’s 10 minute voicemail later, but…)

      2. AVP

        I was trying to explain my own irrational hatred of voicemail, but I think you found the perfect word – it does feel baggy, especially when you already know who called and can probably guess what they’re calling about.

        There’s definitely a generational divide – I’m a millennial, but my boss is on the older end of Gen X and he doesn’t call people back unless you leave a voicemail because he figures it was a butt-dial if you don’t explain why you want him to call you back.

      3. ProductiveDyslexic

        If you’re telling me something I have to write down

        … then just email me about it, thus saving time and removing the possibility of a transcription error.

      4. Dan

        Well, I get so few VM’s that I forget my password between VM checks. So when my telecommuting boss calls me out of the blue and leaves me a message that says “call me back” I have to nicely tell her that it takes me 10 minutes to get that message because I have to reset my password. 1) You’re my boss, I’m going to call you back anyway and 2) We all live on email, can’t you use that?

        But the real reason I dislike VM is that I am so not an auditory person. If you leave me a phone number, I probably have to wind the message back to get it. If you leave me detailed instructions, well, I’m going to have to replay it and write it down. Oh, you don’t know how to get to the point? I have to patiently wait through your message so I can figure out what I need to do as a result of this call. Email makes *my* life better… and more productive. So, yeah, if you’re my boss, “my convenience” doesn’t outweigh yours, but as my boss, you should be concerned about how to help me be the most productive. If it’s no skin off of your back, please email. Less confusion and more clarity that way.

        1. De Minimis

          The phone system at my old job would send you an e-mail to inform you of a new voicemail message. I think they did it because a lot of people were out of the office most of the time.

          1. De Minimis

            Oh, and also one thing we’re all supposed to do each week is update our voicemail greeting…”This is De Minimis, and it’s the week of December 8, I will be in the office all week, please leave a message.”

            1. cuppa

              I just got one of those online reference forms for a former employee of mine. I was never asked to be a reference, and honestly, I can’t give her a good one. I feel badly, but it’s true.
              I know her current manager, and I’m sure they would love for her to move on, but I just can’t give her a good reference. Ugh.

    3. ERB

      I posted below before I saw this, but my office doesn’t have voicemail, mostly because it broke and never got fixed. No one here really minds not having it, messages and email seem to work just fine for us.

    4. MaryMary

      I hate voicemail. I check it whenever I have a message, because it’s part of my job. I do tend to forget about it when I’m out of the office. I don’t get that any voicemails anymore.

      I think it is a generational thing (I am either a very late GenXer or a very early Millennial, depending on your source). To me, email is so much more efficient, particularly if you’re dealing with detailed information. I used to have a client who would leave me long messages about employee issues, including the employees’ name, employment dates, and sometimes compensation or contact information. First, unless you spell out the employee’s name, I’m probably going to get it wrong (even Smith could be Smyth or Smithe…or maybe you actually said Smiss). Second, if I miss one digit or part of a date, I’m going to have to listen to the entire message again. I have yet to find a corporate VM system that lets you rewind. If I want to double check or refer back to something, I also need to listen to the entire message again.

      I am a visual person in general, not a on auditory person. I’d almost always rather email or text than use the phone. Unless your voicemail is “sorry I missed you, call me back” (or “call me back regarding X”), it annoys me. And even then, you could send me the same message via email, just as eaily.

    5. AdAgencyChick

      I hate voicemail (and I’m slightly too old to be a millennial). In fact, when I see that my voicemail light is on in the office, I get this irrational feeling of dread.

      If I don’t get the person I’m calling, I almost always hang up and send an email, and I prefer that others do the same. It’s just faster. Especially with people who leave long and rambly voicemails — I freely admit to being one of those people. Trust me, you don’t want voicemail from me!

    6. HR Manager

      I much prefer email, but sometimes voice is the best choice. Voicemail has that ridiculous time limit, so most callers don’t give you the full story via VM. They tell you to call them back to understand what they need. Then it requires anywhere from a 30 second call to a 20 minute call just to get the request. With email, if I’m not there – you can leave me all the details you need on what and why. My only need is to understand, and get back to you with the response. Live follow up only if more info or discussion is needed. Email allows me to be far more productive and efficient.

    7. ACA

      I prefer email, but voice mail doesn’t bother me – especially at work, since my phone rings for four different lines (two that I’m primary for, two that I’m backup for) and it’s impossible to tell which line the missed call was for.

    8. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

      I’m a tail end boomer and I’ve been refusing to listen to VM for a decade. I literally will not listen to it. My message says email me and anybody who works with me one time knows that email is the only way that I’ll communicate. If it’s an urgent matter, you can press 0 and have me paged.

      I remember the day I “broke” and refused to ever listen to VM again. I have the kind of job where vendors solicit my attention all the time, which, is fine, as long as they are doing it in the most productive way for me possible. The day I broke I picked up this message:

      “Hi, FirstName, it’s Fred from Fred’s Spouts & Stands. (pause) I thought I’d just give you a call………..and see what’s going on ……….. I’m driving down to South Carolina at the moment…………. just wondering if there was anything that we could, one second, okay back, wondering if there was anything more we could be doing for the spout part of sales………I’m going to be in New Jersey sometime in, I think it’s March. Wait, that might be April…….but anyway, hoping that we could, one sec, hoping that we could set up a time…….if you think you could have the whole group there that would be great. So, okay, I’m here. So, just let me know if there’s anything we can do!”

      That’s really not an exaggeration. It was that bad.

      And that’s pretty much the last voice mail I ever listened to.

      EMAIL ME. I read very very quickly!

      1. ThursdaysGeek

        And here’s one of the voicemails you may have missed since then: “Hi, I’m Wakeen at 123-4567. I am doing a background check for totally-wonderful-former-co-worker who is applying to potential dream-job. I’d like to talk to you for a couple of minutes. Please call me back on my direct line at 123-4567.”

    9. Ann O'Nemity

      Screw voicemail. I hate it. I don’t listen to it and will not leave voice mail messages for anyone else. I can’t think of one good reason to use it. In fact, I find myself shying away from voice calls altogether. Email me, text me – that’s fine. But please don’t call, and if you do insist on calling, for God’s sake don’t leave a damn voice mail message.

    10. voluptuousfire

      Yep, hate it (spoken also as a late Gen X-er/possible early Millenial. I’m literally on the cusp, by like a week. :) )

      If someone leaves me a voice message that I don’t know, I always procrastinate in returning it. Sometimes a phone call is easier to make so you can explain something that doesn’t lend itself to email, but overall, I HATE VOICE MAIL. Like AdAgencyChick said, I also get the irrational dread when I see the voice mail light on my work phone. I especially got that at my last job. That was terrible because I was *constantly* on the phone (to the point where it was difficult to get other stuff done) as the one and only team member handling the phones at the time. I did not have time to check voicemail, nor did I even know the code for my phone or how it worked. I figured if it was important, they’ll email us, which usually happened. Once we got more team members and we cracked the voicemail code, we had 100+ voicemails and 95 of them were hang ups. The other 5 people we had taken care of either way. Unfortunately it made for crappy customer service not being able to reach anyone, but when you’re the only person in your department who handled day to day stuff at the time, you do what you can.

    11. ThursdaysGeek

      Ok, I understand why people don’t like VM, and certainly email is better all around. But if I call and don’t leave a VM, DON’T CALL ME BACK! If I didn’t leave a message, then: it was a wrong number; I was just calling to say hi and I’ll call back some other time; I don’t need to talk to you after all, I figured it out; I’ve already sent an email or communicated in a different manner.

      Nope, it doesn’t bother me at all when I interrupt something I’m doing to answer the phone and it’s someone I don’t know because I called a wrong number, and now they’re calling back to see why I called.

    12. Not So NewReader

      I just want to vent that I don’t like voice mails or emails. The voice mail problem is that people insist on using their cell phones. Well, cell service is not reliable here. Their voice mail message sounds like the adults in the Peanuts cartoons or it sounds like they are whispering. Many times the voice message is useless.

      Then there is email. Great. IF I can get into my email today, if the pages will load, if the reply button works and only if they have emailed me first. Because for whatever reason my very well stocked address book does. not. work. But wait! I can call them and ask them their email address and… leave a message on their voice mail. Sigh.
      I try to do the phone and email first thing in the morning, that way people I don’t respond to have all day to figure out that I did not get their message.

  76. FX-ensis

    Am I going about a career change the right way?

    I am highlighting transferable skills, but then most firms I apply to say I am not qualified because I lack the exact skills/experience.

    I am to start some short courses soon in the topic, which will put me in better stead of course, but is there anything else I can do?

    Thank you in advance

    1. NatalieR

      Not knowing from what nor to what you’re transitioning, this may not be feasible, but could you find a transitional type of role for 2-3 years. One that would give you more exact skills/experience but not in a role defined by it.

      Example: when I was trying to move into event planning full time, I first had a couple of higher ed jobs with an event planning component (visitation days, orientation, etc.). Being able to show progressive responsibility related to events gave me the experience I needed to transition.

      1. FX-ensis

        Thanks. I have considered this, and I working on some side projects that in time could make money.

        I am transitioning from medical research into marketing communications. It may seem a leap, but then as part of my role now I write reports and press statements for a uni lab, and give talks to staff and students on our latest results/findings.

        But this is an avenue I will consider, thanks.

        1. NatalieR

          With your background, I think you’d have a good shot at marketing jobs within medical centers, pharma/device companies, and professional associations. In having worked closely with med center marketing departments, it seems like science/medical knowledge was a big plus to the role.

    2. Jillociraptor

      Can you talk to someone in the field you’re trying to transfer into about how your skills transfer? There can be a vocabulary for talking about certain skills that isn’t immediately obvious, so it might be leading hiring managers to not understand what you’re trying to tell them.

      Also, are you looking for the right level of roles? You might consider looking at something more junior where most people are likely applying with transferable skills rather than direct experience.

      1. FX-ensis

        I have spoken with several people…and I have been applying for officer-level roles and not manager-level.

  77. Karyn

    Thought I would add a funny story from work this week.

    A little background info: I work for an IP firm, with about 70 people. This company takes extremely good care of its employees – my health insurance covers almost everything at 100% with no deductible for under $100 per paycheck for a single person; I have a 401k that has a 2% company match plus another 8% profit share, all of it 100% vested (not just your own contributions) IMMEDIATELY; life insurance; fun company events that aren’t your usual “mandatory fun” type of thing; a full paycheck as your Christmas bonus… they’re just really, really good to us, and in return, we are all enthusiastic about performing at our best – they’re good to us, so we should be!

    There was, until this week, another person with my name, except spelled “Karen” at my job, in my same position, working for other teams. I didn’t really care for this girl to begin with, because she was pretty rude (when anyone would hold open a door she wouldn’t say thank you, I complimented her shoes once and she just rolled her eyes and walked out, etc.) and didn’t seem particularly enthusiastic about the job. She would show up, surf the internet, refuse to do basic tasks (not “I don’t know how to do this, can you show me?” but rather flat out saying to PARTNERS, “I don’t want to do that.”) She was just … not good. And she had only been here four months – until this week, when they terminated her. So they send out the customary email, we wish Karen the best of luck in her future endeavors, yadda yadda.

    And then all of a sudden, my Outlook isn’t functioning. It’s asking me to login. This has happened occasionally before, so I enter my username/password and hit okay. I’m told Outlook can’t verify my security certificate. So I reboot, thinking maybe it’s glitchy. And when I try to login, Windows tells me my account has been deactivated.

    Now, admittedly, if I had thought logically for a second, I would have realized that this was an error on IT’s part. But of course, when all of a sudden your account is restricted, you don’t think logically – you panic. So I pretty much ran down to my HR’s office and said, “Um… did I do something wrong?” She looks confused and says no. I tell her, “Cause my account has been locked out…” and she gets this wide-eyed look and goes, “OH NO. Did I send the email out with your name?!” I told her no, it was the right name, but my account is locked.

    She CRACKS UP LAUGHING and calls IT and puts him on speaker. “Hey IT Guy, I’ve got Karyn in my office with me and I think you owe her a shot – you restricted her account and she thought she was getting fired too!”

    So he fixes it and then comes up to HR’s office and goes, “I am so sorry about that. I know how it feels to think you’re about to get fired – every time a partner calls and says, ‘Can you please come to my office?’ with no explanation, I sweat the whole way there, and then it ends up being, ‘My mouse isn’t working.’ I don’t blame you for panicking! If that ever happens again, just call me… you wouldn’t be locked out while you were sitting there, you’d already be in the meeting with HR while I did it.” I told him it was no big deal, but that I would be expecting my shot at the holiday party this weekend!

    1. Kelly L.

      I think I’ve told this before, but some years ago the president of my then-workplace had some kind of bone to pick with a Kelly in a completely different department.

      I get this call. “Hi, is this Kelly? This is President. Is this a good time? I need to talk to you about something.”

      There was actually something plausible I thought I might be in trouble for. I think it was working some weird hours or something. So my anxiety went from zero to a million in half a second.

      She started talking about some dissatisfied visitors at some event and I started to figure out I had no idea what she was talking about. But I also realized I knew which Kelly she meant. It took a few minutes before I could get a word in, and finally I was like “I’m sorry, were you trying to reach Other Kelly?”

      “Oh. Sorry!”

    2. MaryMary

      My former manager had a fairly common name, and she got a message from HR about scheduling an exit interview. Turns out the other Jane Smith was leaving the firm, but it threw my manager off for a bit.

      1. Kelly L.

        Oh! Not a work story, but an acquaintance of mine shared a name with another woman at their college. The other one passed away, but the school paper printed my acquaintance’s picture instead of that of the woman who actually died. She hadn’t seen the paper, walked into class, and inadvertently scared the bejeezus out of some people…

        1. No to Stella and Dot

          This actually happened to me in college as well! I have a very unique first name and until college, had never known another person with my name. One morning I walked into my Italian class and people start swarming me, asking me if I was alright. I looked at them funny and said I was fine. It turns out that our student newspaper had reported that there was a very bad car accident overnight and one of the people in the car (who shared my first name) had been badly hurt. Everyone in my class assumed it was me because the person was a freshman just like me and we had the same very unique first name.

    3. Sabrina

      There was one time I came back from lunch and couldn’t log back in to my computer. I knew my password wasn’t due to expire, so I tried rebooting and… nothing. Calling our helpless desk was an exercise in futility, so most folks would only do it as an absolute last resort. I tried to get logged back in for a few minutes with no luck My boss sat near me so I got up and said “Uh, you didn’t fire me and not tell me, did you? Because my computer isn’t working.” She laughed and said “Of course not! I’d never fire you! What a silly thing to say.” I laughed back and said OK, I guess I’ll call the help desk. I found out later that as soon as I left her office she sent her boss a very panicked IM asking if I’d been fired and she hadn’t been looped in.

    4. Malissa

      I used to work in a small town. And to paraphrase Kitty Foreman, there were times when it seemed like everybody acted like gerbils and switched partners.
      My old boss had been divorced for a few months. He finally started dating again. Someone from out of town, who shared my name. But he really wasn’t one to go into details about his personal life. So when he talked about Melissa, everybody assumed it was me.
      I did not know of this situation for months, as I wasn’t a good small town gossip person. For the longest time it seemed like people were treating me differently and just giving me the strangest looks.
      Boy was it ever a relief when she came over for a visit and toured the office.

    5. Liane

      Yeah, similar names can be a pain. I don’t think I told this one before, but Husband has a fairly common first name & my late father-in-law’s first name is also a common nickname for Husband’s name; think Richard & Rick. When Dad & then Mom passed away, we were living on the same street as they were. Naturally, their Attorney/Executor’s Admin filed change of address for Mr & Mrs Rick Name, but Post Office also changed address for Richard & Liane Name!
      We never could get ours changed back to our address unless we did it for each person/business individually, and then PO *still* forwarded to Attorney. Thankfully, Admin was great about holding mail for us, calling if she saw, say, mail from Tax Assessor, & even apologizing if something was opened by mistake.
      New address on a different street is all that solved the problem.

  78. AvonLady Barksdale

    My first week at the new job has been AWESOME. There were a couple of technical issues– brand-new office space, Internet-related– that have delayed some of my on-boarding, but everyone has been committed to getting me on board and up-to-speed, even though it’s massively busy. My new office mates are great, the commute is super easy, my boss is a very cool guy, and I brought my doggy into work with me for a few hours this morning. Fridays are flexible, so I am home now, looking over some documents and watching Judge Judy re-runs.

    Fighting some impostor syndrome, though, but that’s normal for me. The company believes in starting everyone from the bottom, so I’m not expected to know all the details of my duties right off the bat, but the CEO called me yesterday to get my notes on a potential new project. I think I did ok– he did say at one point, “Everything you just said is correct,”– but he’s an intimidating guy who tries to throw you off your game, and… he threw me off mine a bit. But if he gives me this project, it will be MAJOR.

    I’m gonna exhale now and go back to those reruns.

  79. ERB

    This came up briefly in the comments on a post this week, but I wanted to expand on it: my office doesn’t have voicemail, and it’s fantastic. Either the call is important and the caller leaves a message, or it’s not and they don’t. Or, it’s kind of important but not time sensitive the caller will send a email to the person they’re trying to get a hold of. The voicemail system stopped working before I started working here, and fixing it just never made it high up the priorities list. We’re a small company so we don’t have a terribly high call volume, so everyone pitches in answering the phone. Our marketing manager lovingly calls it “providing personal service.” Does anyone else have a similar experience where not having something is a benefit?

    1. ThursdaysGeek

      Either the call is important and the caller leaves a message

      How do you leave a message without voicemail?

      On our system (and at formerJob too), when you leave a voicemail, it gets sent as a .wav file to my Outlook, and I can listen to it there. No need to go through some menu on the phone.

      1. ERB

        Sorry, should have clarified. The person picking up the phone on our end takes a written message, if necessary.

  80. Something Professional

    Hi all, I emailed Alison my question some time ago and she suggested posting it here to get your thoughts. I would appreciate any advice any of you have!

    I used to be a lawyer. I practiced for seven years and then hit a total wall. I was miserable with many aspects of the law and it got to the point where it was affecting my health, so I quit and went back to school to become a nurse. Fast-forward four years (that was just how long school takes in my town) and I finally get my nursing license, only to discover that I have a physical condition that may never allow me to work as a floor nurse (assessment of this is ongoing; I should note it is something that will affect only me and not endanger patients).

    So now I’m kind of stuck. My husband has a good job and has been really great, but for our financial (and my mental!) health I’d really like to be working. I delayed things a bit by enrolling in a higher degree program for nursing, but I will graduate from that in July. Does anyone have any thoughts as to where I could take my career or what sorts of jobs I should be looking into? There are nursing jobs that don’t involve working a floor, but they often require experience which I won’t have as a new grad.

    Any thoughts would be much appreciated!

    1. ProductiveDyslexic

      You must have excellent writing and analytical skills to have practised law. Could you go into writing about nursing, or editing nursing manuals? Are there administrative-type nursing positions at which you’d excel?

      My GP practice* has a nurse who covers certain more minor procedures to free up the doctors, e.g. ear wax flushing (yay), regular wound re-dressing, and so on. I imagine that kind of practice might be less tiring than working a floor. Maybe this is the kind of job you thought might require more experience.

      *I’m in the UK, do you have general practitioners in the US? Wikipedia was vague.

      1. Something Professional

        I would be open to something that combines law and nursing, definitely. I guess I’m just not quite sure what that would look like, exactly. Thanks for the suggestions so far!

        1. Manders

          Have you looked case management nurse positions? There’s a HUGE legal component to that, especially if you’re working with clients involved in personal injury lawsuits, and (in my understanding) it’s not as physical as being a floor nurse.

          There are similar behind-the-scenes positions that you might be particularly suited for. I’m not a nurse myself, and I would recommend speaking with someone who knows the profession better, but something like a utilization review nurse position might be up your alley. Have you spoken with your school’s career center?

    2. Senor Poncho

      I don’t have much in the way of advice, but as another lawyer, I’ve gotta say, Law >> Nursing is a pretty impressive career jump, especially seven years in.

      /Tips cap

    3. MaryMary

      One of my clients does research and analysis for medical malpractice suits. Would you be interested in something law-adjacent like that?

      1. Something Professional

        I would be open to something that combines law and nursing, definitely. I guess i’m not really sure how to go about looking for that type of job, though.

    4. Malissa

      A few things come to mind:

      Home health care
      Insurance company nurse (home assessments)
      The local health department
      Jail work–Often they bring the patients to you.
      Medical transcription–They love people who know the lingo
      School nurse

      1. Liane

        Late to this one.
        Regarding Medical Transcription–transcriptionist requires training. She might look into Transcription Editor, which I loved doing, or Quality Assurance. You read the finished transcriptions while listening to the original dictation and fix problems (typos, words the transcriptionist couldn’t make out, etc.) before routing to the client. It requires, in addition to medical terminology & HIPAA, very good proofreading skills, ability to focus & listen, working on strict & very short deadlines (measured in hours). You don’t need to type fast & you may have hours in late night/early morning if you’re home-based. Many people would find it tedious, especially home-based.
        Quality Assurance I don’t know as much about, but is similar in some ways. I do know it deals with words even the editors couldn’t figure out and transcriptions where the header–which has the patient’s, dr’s etc. info–doesn’t match dictation.

    5. AdAgencyChick

      You may want to try working with the pharmaceutical industry or nonprofit health organizations in some way — medical writing or marketing. In my field (medical advertising) your nursing degree would be considered a huge asset.

      1. Frances

        Yeah, I work in nonprofit health, and a combined law/nursing background would be a really strong candidate for a variety of positions: advocacy work, coordinating patient education initiatives, patient helpline work, etc.

    6. the_scientist

      I think putting your research and writing skills to use is a fantastic suggestion- I see clinical research co-ordinator positions posted ALL THE TIME and I don’t get interviews for them because I don’t have a B.Sc N. despite having a research-focused graduate degree. So that could be an option? It seems like they really want nurses, although I don’t know if they are also looking for nurses with experience.

      Another option may be public health nursing or nurse education (although usually an experienced nurse gets into this sort of role). As a public health nurse you probably wouldn’t work overnight shifts or be in a hospital, but you’d still be a nurse, doing primarily nursing things (vaccination campaigns, public health education). Again, public health nursing might be especially great for someone with an interest in or aptitude for research and writing. I know someone who didn’t like traditional hospital nursing and went into public health because of that.

      I have a friend who is a nurse but couldn’t handle shift work, so she works for a day program for low-income seniors. She is working there in a nursing capacity, but they also paid for her personal training certification so she could plan exercise/wellness activities for the clients, and she does some nutrition work as well. She really loves it and it’s a good balance of nursing work plus some additional stuff.

      1. Something Professional

        Public health nursing is definitely something I am interested in, and I would love to get into a health department job. Thanks for the thoughts!

      1. Cath in Canada

        Thanks! I’ve moved on from the “I don’t have enough TIME!” to the “please let this just be OVER!” phase now. Just one more weekend and a few more evenings of studying to go…

  81. greenleaf

    Hi,

    I had a job offer declined as I had a problem with the contract which later on was a non-issue. The contract was vague enough for me to misinterpret it. I said sorry and was happy to work there now the contract thing was sorted out. I get a reply saying they started the recruitment process again, although I know they haven’t.

    Do you think I should approach another employee via email at the company, just to ask why exactly my offer was declined and if there is any chance to still being considered. I seemed to get on very well with her and she was very friendly and I think had a higher position within the company as it was her and the MD who gave me the final interview. Kinda feels like I would be going my his back, and not sure how I would feel if he didn’t really want me there, but maybe she can convince him otherwise.

    1. fposte

      I’m not quite sure what you’re saying happened. Did you decline a job offer due to an element of the contract that turned out not to be what you thought, or did they rescind a job offer because you raised concerns about an element of the contract that it turned out you misunderstood? What did you say to them about your contractual concern, and what was the last thing they said to you?

      Either way, I’d vote against a bypass of the main hiring person; I think it risks making you look worse rather than better, there’s no reason to think she’s the person who has the information, and it’s not information that’s likely to help you much–you don’t want to know why, you want to know if the reason can go away. Depending on the situation I’d either reach out to the hiring manager or let it go.

      1. greenleaf

        Hi fposte,

        The 1st one, I declined it due to contract issues. It stated no overtime is paid for time travelling to/from work. Its a field based job so a lot of time would have been spent traveling. He said that only applies to office staff. I said sorry for the misunderstanding and am happy to still work there. He replied basically saying “we have now relisted the job”

        He wasn’t the main hiring person, he was my would be line manager. I think hiring was a shared decision between him, the MD and the other woman I was thinking of reaching out to.

        I am pretty sure there was no hiring manager there.

        Thanks

        1. fposte

          Wow, that was a legitimate thing to query and a very weird response on their part to the question that makes me wonder about their organization (and one thing it makes me wonder is if they actually hadn’t planned on paying for field travel). Once an organization seems that weird, it’s harder for me to offer good guesses on what makes sense to do. I still don’t think I’d try to leapfrog past him about this position, though; the most I think you can write to the other person is that you enjoyed meeting her, you’re sorry it didn’t work out, and you’d definitely be interested in any other opportunities that came up with them in future.

          I don’t know if this is a “dodged a bullet” situation or not, and I can understand how disappointing it would be, but their behavior was really strange.

          1. greenleaf

            Thanks again fposte,

            “Wow, that was a legitimate thing to query and a very weird response on their part to the question that makes me wonder about their organization”

            Yea, I was thinking pretty much the same thing, they just seemed to just end the conversation up to that point without any type of meaningful response. I replied super quick when he said they pay for travel and thought the job would still be safe.

            They asked me at the interview if I had other interviews and I told the truth, that I had 2 others. Maybe he thought the reason I took long to decide and declined the offer was because I was trying to buy time to hear back from the other interviews, but I did explain, I had a hard time deciding and took my time to think because the job was good, the people seemed good, but the contract was an issue.

            About dodging a bullet, I was thinking about this too. I am disappointing that with what happened, but maybe my manager would end up being a real a**hole. During the interview, they seemed nice, but I suppose they all do at the beginning if we are being realistic. My would-be manager was rather quite so couldn’t get much of a read on him. The other woman seemed genuinely nice, asked a lot about my other interests on my CV, and she even organised to pay for my gas to get there(It was far away), thats why I thought of reaching out. But yea, I agree not sure if its best to ask her.

  82. INTP

    Super random question: if someone’s food finishes while you’re waiting for the microwave, how long do you wait before just taking it out? I think at least 30 seconds should be given, but I’ve gotten weird looks when someone walked in on me taking their food out after 2-3 minutes. I do live in the upper Midwest, home of the super nonconfrontational people, where this kind of thing can be seen as aggressive. (I literally know multiple stories of people waiting hours for someone to remove their laundry from a dryer because carefully moving it somewhere clean would have been rude….only to eventually resentfully dump it all in dust or spilled bleach and feel totally justified in doing so.)

    1. Sabrina

      I agree about at least 30 seconds, maybe even a minute. Possibly less if you walk away and there’s a line.

    2. HR Manager

      This is like the dryer question. Do you take someone’s clothes out of the dryer if that person isn’t attentive enough to remove it? I admit to being a totally aggressive dry-clothes-mover-outer. I’m a tad more patient with microwaves, since the time doesn’t require much. I usually give it 1-2 minutes.

    3. Diet Coke Addict

      In my office the done thing is to remove people’s food once it’s done, immediately, if you’re waiting. I wouldn’t wait more than a minute.

      And the dryer thing? Five minutes is the only grace period I give. When I was living in an apartment, I used a timer, as did everyone I knew, and if you weren’t using a timer, tough–manage your time better and you wouldn’t have your clothes unceremoniously dumped on top of the machine!

    4. Persephone Mulberry

      I’d give it a minute, tops.

      ….and then put it back IN the microwave when I’m done, if they haven’t come by to collect it yet.

      Yes, I am also from the Midwest, why do you ask? ;)

    5. fposte

      Oh, interesting–in my office kitchen, we almost always wait with our food; I’d expect my stuff to be taken out at the bing if I weren’t there and would do the same to somebody else’s. And we’re really Midwestern too. I bet kitchen design, usage, and placement factors in a lot here.

    6. Tris Prior

      Also form the Midwest, and I NEVER take other people’s food out of the microwave because someone always gets pissy about it, in my experience.

      (If it’s been 5-10 minutes, I have been known to ask the most likely offender(s), “um, is that by chance your ___ in the microwave, because if so, it’s ready to eat!” But, I work for a really small company.)

      1. INTP

        Yes! I’m not a native midwesterner, I am from California where people will move your crap out of their way without a thought and get on with their lives instead of waiting and stewing about how rude you are for not thinking of their needs. I was surprised to get the weird looks when moving food and laundry, and I know that by Midwestern proportions a weird look is basically an “Oh no, you didn’t!”

    7. TNTT

      Dryer: Ten minutes tops. If there is a fresh basket around (our laundry room has a few that live there) probably less.

      Microwave: Immediately. I DO NOT understand people who walk away from the microwave and out of the room. Can you not be still for 90 seconds?

      1. INTP

        Sometimes I leave the room briefly because I need to make multiple trips to the kitchen to fill up my water cup, get my plastic cutlery, etc. But I’m always back in there within a few seconds of the beep.

        The main offenders are people who eat lean cuisines for lunch. They put their food in for 3-4 minutes, so I understand leaving to use the bathroom or whatever, but don’t get weird when someone takes your food out if you aren’t there to do it. But maybe they are cranky because they’re only getting 200 calories of tasteless food for lunch?

    8. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

      If it’s MY food in the microwave, don’t wait a second. I forget my food for hours and then wonder why I’m hungry at 3pm.

    9. TinyPjM

      One of my favorite workplace memories was walking into the kitchen to see a lonely potato spinning in the microwave, sans plate, with the timer set for 15 minutes.

    10. Blue_eyes

      I’m in the “take food out immediately” camp. Even when I lived in Minnesota (“Minnesota nice” is just another word for passive-aggressive) we would do this. Although, it may have been in part because I worked in schools so there would be very limited time for the teachers to eat lunch, and we usually all knew each other pretty well.

      In college I would take people’s clothes out of the dryer after 1-2 minutes. Some people would forget their clothes in the laundry room for days, why would you want to wait to see if that was the case?

    11. skyline

      Most people at my workplace don’t abandon their food in the microwave, so it’s usually a non-issue. I’d move it immediately, though, if there was a time crunch.

      As for laundry, someone in my building routinely leaves stuff for days. Once I figured that out, I stopped hesitating about moving other people’s stuff. (And I leave my clean basket, so people can move my stuff if I’ve spaced out and forgotten about my own laundry.)

  83. Sabrina

    My husband just started a new job and found out that they are laying off the company receptionist. There won’t be anyone else there, no security guard, just a touch screen with a company directory. This seems odd to me. The are a mid sized retailer and often have vendors and other guests coming to the office. Apparently they will be told to just wait in the lobby and someone will be down when they are ready. But if no one tells you that they are there to start with, how will they know to come get the person? What if you order lunch? What about interviewees? What about sales guys who could just wander into the office? Anyone else think this is weird or are we off base? Also, I feel bad for the receptionist who is losing her job at this time of year.

    1. MT

      we got rid of our receptionist. There is a sign that says to call your contact. Also if you are expecting someone, it is your job to be aware they may be at the gate.

    2. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

      For the first time ever, our receptionist didn’t have a back up for when she went on vacation for a week.

      It. Was. Hysterical.

      I don’t know what PTB was thinking. They mooch on my division usually for back up staffing on reception vacations and we just flat out said no. We were short handed and we don’t really use reception. We’ve a separate phone system and we’re online marketers who rarely receive visitors so, frankly, we didn’t care.

      Corporate, though, which is our 2nd floor, they are the ones who need a receptionist and for whatever reason, they decided to see what a week was like.

      People. Wandering. Everywhere.

      One poor guy sat in the lobby for like an hour, so I’m told. I tried not to know.

      I am pretty sure they thought I’d give, bit of a game of chicken, but I didn’t have anybody to spare or send so that’s what happened next.

      Our receptionist’s job is NOT in danger! That’s for sure.

    3. skyline

      Our administrative office eliminated the receptionist position as well. The reception desk is now only staffed if there’s a major event that requires lots of folks going in and out. You need a keycard to get from the lobby to staff areas, so people wandering about isn’t a problem. There’s a phone there with a directory to contact whoever you are there to meet. And if you’re interviewing, it’s your job to go get them!

  84. Hardworker

    I’m a hardworker, but my coworkers aren’t. They get their stuff done by the deadline so it’s not like they’re not working at all. But they constantly stop to chat and hang out in the kitchen, google and youtube gossip online, make personal calls, etc. when they’re working. It’s an open area, so they talk a lot, can get loud sometimes, and joke a lot, sometimes saying things that aren’t professional like “I want to get drunk now”. Anyway, my department management is used to it and I dare say even thinks it’s a sign of office bonding. I’m not like my coworkers at all. I do my work quietly and diligently, but will my managers think that I’m not “bonding” well with others by not participating in their behavior? Will they really care that I work hard and do what I’m supposed to unlike my coworkers as long as everyone gets their work done?

    1. Colette

      I think there’s value to both approaches. It’s good to have professional relationships with your coworkers, but it that can’t be your entire reason for being at work.

      I would caution you about this “Will they really care that I work hard and do what I’m supposed to unlike my coworkers as long as everyone gets their work done?” – if your coworkers are getting their work done, they are doing what they’re supposed to be doing. (If they don’t have enough to do, that’s on their manager.) Not everyone works the way you do, and it’s important to remember that different is not the same as wrong.

      1. INTP

        This is a good point, and I’d add that if you’re the odd one out in the office, being seen as different but accepting versus “the girl who thinks she’s better than us because she doesn’t have any fun” can be the difference between being fully accepted and everyone hating you or even getting fired for cultural fit. It’s good to cultivate nicer feelings about your coworkers if only for your own sake.

    2. AvonLady Barksdale

      Part of joining an office is joining its culture, or at least accepting it– not tolerating, accepting. I have been the different one in the office, but I eventually met my office culture halfway and was relatively happy there.

      Here’s the thing: unless it’s affecting your actual work, what your co-workers do with their days is not your business. If their work gets done in spite of– and possibly because of– the chatting, then it is not your business. Some people require downtime to concentrate, and it doesn’t make them bad workers, and you buckling down and staying quiet doesn’t make you a better one. You just have different styles. Will this affect your bosses’ perception of you? Depending on the culture, it might.

      If they are being so loud you can’t concentrate, then ask them (politely!) to please keep it down a bit, but what they’re doing doesn’t sound all that out of the ordinary. Even saying, “I want to get drunk now,” doesn’t sound bad at all to me (but this comes from someone who had a conversation with her boss yesterday about working on planes with a drink in hand). To be perfectly honest, the tone of your post is troubling– you seem to think it’s a “me against them” environment, and that is never a good thing for the “me”. I would suggest loosening your expectations a bit. While your co-workers are milling around the kitchen, go make a cup of tea or coffee or water and chat for a minute or two. Fitting in is important– not in a high school, everyone must be the same way, but in an overall, “we all have to work here so let’s try to get along” way.

    3. INTP

      It depends on the manager, ime. A good one will appreciate your work ethic and reliability or at least get that people have different needs as far as bonding and fun at work. But there are also people and company cultures that are militantly fun and extroverted and if that’s the case, you may be regarded as “not a fit,” standoffish, not making an effort, etc.

    4. JBlargh

      When I first started working at my current employer, I made significant efforts to join the office culture. After a few attempts, though, I found it to be a pretty judgmental and negative group. They made fun of waitresses, became belligerent when others weren’t drinking, and had nothing good to say about anyone. They routinely carved out the good projects for themselves then would dump unfinished work on those not part of that group. They also tried to get me fired. Of course, it’s kind of hard to convince the boss to get rid of someone who – at that point – had been doing stellar work. Anyway, long story short – there are many of us who don’t click with the in-group at work and as long as you do good work, you should be fine. Focus on your job and your skills and don’t make active enemies. Anyway, that is the advice I would give myself.

  85. asteramella

    I’m a recent college graduate who has been doing dead-end temp work and recently interviewed for an exciting position that would pay well in a company that seems to have a good, transparent culture. I’m supposed to hear back from them by the end of today and the waiting is driving me nuts! What do y’all do while waiting to hear news from an interviewer?

  86. Nyxalinth

    Well, the last time I heard from Vapor Job (described as such because I have it yet I don’t) was three weeks ago. At this point, I’ve pretty much moved on, and have had a few interviews that felt ‘meh’ overall. I don’t understand why if they felt they couldn’t get enough people to start a training class that they never bothered running the ad again. I shouldn’t expect logic, I guess :P

    Today I had another walk-in interview, and the person conducting them was too busy to see anyone today. So I guess they’ll call or they won’t. I do have one other thing that seems likely, and I’m about to send my resume to them.

    I’m trying to stay positive, because I don’t want to be like that one person who was getting negative and everyone jumped on him/her and they haven’t been seen since. But it’s really hard.

    I’ve done retail, fast food, temp agencies, and most of my experience is too far in the distant past for them to hire me, even now at this time of year, I guess. Temp agencies don’t seem to have anything I’m a fit for. Am really feeling like my next option will be living under a bridge sometimes.

    1. fposte

      Nyxalinth, I’m really impressed with your resilience in a difficult time. You’ve been having a lot of hard knocks that you deserve better than, and I totally understand how hard it is to avoid bitterness in the face of it. Fingers crossed for something good to come up soon.

    2. Not So NewReader

      My fingers are crossed for you, too.
      I am hoping that the reason these things are happening is to protect you from crappy work places.

      Sending positive vibes your way!

  87. Nashira

    My boss is a saintly woman. I have chronic migraine, and am in the midst of the worst migraine I’ve had in a couple months, on a day when the office is LOUD and being sound/light sensitive is horrid. She granted me permission to wear headphones, to block other people’s noise. (I’d rather go home, for sure, but one has to be bleeding internally for that to not have negative political consequences. Ask me how I know!)

    Now, if only we could do something about the hot-smoked salmon that’s been sitting open for several hours, in the kitchen behind me. I like it when we get goodies from vendors, but oh god why’s there got to be smelly fish?

    Anyone gotten any *good* holiday goodies?

    1. HR Manager

      I one had to sleep overnight in a room that stank of smoked salmon. My friend who went on a trip with me bought smoked salmon for snacking at this city, and she wanted to bring the rest back home. Dear god – it tested my friendship with her.

    2. Not So NewReader

      You remind me. I have not picked up some Salmon pate in very long time. I think it is time to do so.

  88. grasshopper

    I got hired for a new job four months ago. It started out excellent — I was able to accomplish quite a lot in a few short months, my manager was excellent and we get along well, I was taking the lead in a high profile project. Everyone seemed pleased with the work I had been doing and I was quite happy to be where I am.

    Unfortunately, another department’s Director — someone who I will need to closely work with and who has a 7-year long tenure with the organization (I do not directly report to him), has become belligerent, bullying, confrontational, and has caused a firestorm of drama over my project. He has involved the CEO, the COO, and my boss and unnecessarily turned something that could have been easily resolved by a simple meeting into an acrimonious and highly negative situation.

    His concerns seem to stem from an acute misunderstanding of how much implementing the early phase of project X will interfere with his department’s deadlines and processes. Based on some questions he emailed me (copying the CEO, COO and my boss) his understanding of project X is completely off the mark. Where he is thinking a massive disruption involving hundreds of documents organization-wide actually only involves less than three dozen documents and only one department (his). Note that he seemed on board with the project from the very beginning.

    He could have very easily gotten this information with a calm, civil meeting weeks ago. But he has chosen to be unnecessarily confrontational and combative in quite an over the top fashion.

    Even if he were to be reprimanded and he calms down for a while by management, I am having serious doubts if I want to continue working at this job anymore. The project I am handling is high profile and dependent on the cooperation of all departments, staff and department heads. If this is how he is reacting now, I could only imagine how he can be in a more advanced state of the project in the near future when things are moving at a fast pace.

    Is sticking at a job with this person in the staff in a senior position worth it? Am I correct to assume I still have a big target on my back for him?

    1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

      This guy is found many, many, many places.

      If you can learn how to manage this situation, grasshopper, you will have learned something that will serve you forever, especially if you have the kind of vocation where you will be managing projects that touch multiple personalities at a time.

      Is your boss a help? See if you can get her to coach you on to manage dealing with Difficult Guy. Don’t get defensive. See if you can hear Difficult Guy’s pain points and address them. If he’s worked up that a bazillion documents are affected and you say, “I can see why that would upset you. No, I can assure you, that’s not the case. That would be awful if it was. It’s just three dozen and here’s my plan for how that will be as painless as possible.”

      Be above the fray. Always stay above the fray. The more worked up he gets, the calmer you are. That’s how you get people to follow your lead. That’s how you get power.

      1. grasshopper

        Thanks very much Wakeen! Yes, my boss is solidly on my side. As is the CEO. Not sure about the COO (Difficult Guy is considered his organizational protege). I had a meeting with CEO, COO and my boss already and they were sympathetic and reassured me I had done nothing wrong and they will talk with Difficult Guy.

        I have made some shifts in the way I communicate with senior staff. I am working with my boss to make sure everyone is in the loop via periodic emailed briefings of senior staff on project X. And with the memo will come an invitation for anyone who has questions or concerns to come to me and my boss. I am also approaching colleagues up and down the organizational chart making sure they are in the loop on important milestones and stressing my door is always open for questions and concerns.

        Hopefully this new approach of communicating about project X in a more consciously open way will yield results. I do appreciate your feedback, Wakeen!

      2. Not So NewReader

        Agreeing with WTL, and adding that there is probably something running in the back ground that you do not know about. You just happen to be standing in a really handy spot for Difficult Guy. His issue with you could be one part of a ten part rant he has behind close doors. (The other nine parts have nothing to do with you and everything to do with HIM.)

        Hang tuff. As WTL says, figure out his concerns and answer them in a sincere manner. Ignore the emoting.

  89. Kristina

    I recently got a temp job and so far I like it. There is no solid end date which is a bit disconcerting. I’ve been taking a bit of a break from actual job searching while working at this job (its only been two months since I have been in this job so two months with no resumes sent in). Has anyone ever continued a vigorous job search while working as a temp especially when that job has an indefinite end date? I feel kind of guilty for not writing cover letters and resumes for a few weeks.

  90. Helen

    I gave my two weeks notice on Monday, and my boss hasn’t acknowledged my departure in any way. When I resigned, I told her to let me know what I can do to help with the transition. She said “ok. Thanks.” Since then, I have emailed a few times asking who will be taking over X so I can train them. No response. We didn’t get along so I think she’s just trying to make it seem like my departure is inconsequential. So glad to be leaving this toxic place!!

    1. AdAgencyChick

      Why do I think you’re going to be deflecting lots of “can you just answer this one question?” calls once you’re gone? I hope I’m wrong (and stay strong if I’m right!).

    2. CheeryO

      Ha, I’m in a similar situation. I resigned to the CEO (small company) on Monday, and the VP (who I work with most often) hasn’t acknowledged the fact that I’m leaving in any way. (Well, at least not verbally. She has kind of an evil glint in her eye when she talks to me now.) The word spread like wildfire, so I’m positive that she’s known for days. It’s weird.

      So far I’ve written up detailed outlines of where each of my project stands, with lots of highlighting for important upcoming deadlines/milestones. I also organized my electronic and paper files to a ridiculous extent. Hopefully whoever gets my work dumped on them will be able to figure things out. *shrug*

  91. Ask a Manager Post author

    Are y’all getting sick of the update posts yet? I have soooo many, which I love, but I’m aware they’re dominating the content this month. (It ended up being great timing, since my typing ability has been limited from my thumb surgery last week — it’s been nice having a steady supply of content I didn’t need to write.) Anyway, what’s your tolerance level? Can I continue at 2 updates a day for the whole rest of the month? Is it drowning out other stuff? Do you not care?

    1. Graciosa

      I’m enjoying them – it’s a nice way to finish out the year.

      However, if this is helping to preserve your recovery, I think you should do it regardless of our opinions. Your health comes first.

    2. GOG11

      I like them a lot! For quite a few of them, I couldn’t remember (or hadn’t encountered) the first post, so it’s double the content! I love BOGO stuff (RORA…read one, read another?)!

    3. Persephone Mulberry

      Love them! It would be extra lovely if there was a little tidbit of AAM feedback on them, if warranted (the one from earlier this week about the kissing coworker and your in-the-comments input about whether the manager was right to not say anything to the OP, comes to mind).

    4. ProductiveDyslexic

      I care! My tolerance level is high. Keep them coming :)

      And +1 on doing what’s best for your health.

    5. coconut water

      No, not at all. It is probably my favorite part of AAM because it is very interesting to see what advice was taken, if any, and how things turned out.

    6. Vanishing Girl

      no, please keep them coming! often times, I find I didn’t read the original post, and it gives me even more to read during a slow work day.

    7. Not So NewReader

      I am enjoying the updates. If you posted five a day, I would read them all.
      And keep that thumb happy so it heals up properly. win-win.

    8. C Average

      Add me to the list of people who love them!

      Great advice is fun to read, but it’s even more fun to learn what people actually do with the advice they get and how their situations get resolved.

      I’m a big fan of the website Slate, including its advice column, “Dear Prudence.” On one of the Slate podcasts, the Dear Prudence columnist and one of Slate’s other columnists call up people who have gotten advice from the column and do what they call a “post-Prudence impact statement.” I really like those, and I really enjoy the post-AAM impact statements here, too.

      It’s good to hear the thumb is mending well, too.

    9. Jessica (the celt)

      I LOVE the updates, so you can continue them as long as you have updates to post. The updates are always my favorite, because there are so many letters that leave me wondering what happened. Other sites don’t do things like this, so I’ve always appreciated that you do. :)

  92. ACA

    Well, I just sent an email to the wrong list, so probably 300+ students got this email that didn’t need to. The rest of my day and probably all of Monday is now going to consist of sending “Yes, we got your progress report, the email went out to everyone, sorry for the confusion” responses. It’s 100% my own fault, but what a way to start the weekend.

    1. Nanc

      Can you just resend to the same list with a CORRECTION at the beginning of the original subject line? Couldn’t hurt–might help!

      1. Elsajeni

        Or send a “please disregard” to the same list, then re-send the original email just to the correct list?

    2. Blue_eyes

      If it makes you feel better, I got an email yesterday from a “client” that was intended for a coworker who has the same first name as me. The content of the email was about how I and another coworker are being removed from the client’s project. (It’s not as bad as it sounds – the project is going to be handled by a different vendor so our roles would be duplicated. The client was actually happy with our work even though they decided to change vendors). Oops.

  93. at the end of my 7th week, and i'm unhappy! :(

    After so much stress job-hunting, I’m so disappointed that my new job hasn’t turned out the way I was expecting. The environment is lethargic, the boss is a micro-manager, and this main project I was supposed to work on has been delayed by a year! My last two jobs were only 1 year each (no issues–just career change/advancement), so I thought I should be here for 2-3 years, but I’m already looking again! This SUCKS!

    1. Nanc

      So, have you talked to any coworkers about this? Is this a slow time of year for the company? That would explain the lethargy. Is the boss micro-managing because you’re new and since your main project is delayed he/she is perhaps having a hard time keeping you busy? If you were hired because of a particular project and they don’t want lose you it could be they’re scrambling to find interim projects. I get that you want to look, but maybe you should evaluate what you can learn while you’re there. Can you schedule a meeting with your boss and lay out some options to fill your time until the delayed project begins? Is there some training you can take advantage of? Is there another department that could use a hand? Is it possible part of your disappointment is because you started around holiday time which in and of itself can be challenging?

      You’re there until you find something else or until the delayed project kicks in. Take as much control as you can over your own workplace satisfaction. At the very least when you leave you’ll know you tried to make things work out.

      1. at the end of my 7th week, and i'm unhappy! :(

        Thanks for the comments. Yes, my co-workers know and agree. The boss micromanages everyone, but also has great qualities, like holding us to a high standard, defending us, etc. The office has always been this way (not just time of year) because there are such few people, the boss doesn’t like us fraternizing with other parts of the company (he’s possessive), and some people work at another site sometimes. I’m busy doing things, but it’s not things that I “signed up for.” No to training: I was going to attend a 1-day training within the company, but I got in trouble for RSVPing without conferring with him first, and he said no, I should stay here to work on my projects.

        I just hate having such short timelines on my resume! I think if I leave, I should do it ASAP and not even mention this position…

        1. Not So NewReader

          Yeah, I am picking up a bad vibe here, too. It’s almost as if the guy keeps his employees in a closet all the time and they have turned catatonic.

          High standards, defending you, micromanaging, won’t let you go to training, not allowed to talk to others… if he were a friend’s boyfriend or SO, I would be a little concerned.

  94. Libonymous

    I’m looking for outside input on this situation as I need to know how to approach the Board and this situation is outside of my experience.

    The Board recently requested my director to resign. The way they went about it did not follow professional norms and elements of the process may not have followed legal requirements. They want me to fill the position.

    The current director commented that I need to push for them to open the position to outside applicants (while I serve as Interim Director) because otherwise other directors will assume I worked behind the scenes to get my director fired in order to take over the job. This idea ring true with me, especially considering the manner in which the resignation was requested. I want to maintain a positive professional reputation and keep my options open for when it is time to move on.

    Someone outside the situation commented that I can’t control the Board and it is perfectly normal to hire from within without accepting outside applications, so no one should think anything negative of me if I take this position without an open application process. Considering this comment came from someone outside of the industry and who has more “blue collar” experience than “white collar” management experience, I am dubious.

    Thoughts?

    1. Observer

      Don’t “push”, but your friend is wrong on the specifics. Given how the situation was handled, it could easily have an impact on your reputation if you don’t handle it correctly.

      What you should do is, IN WRITING, let the Board know that you expect that you are expecting them to engage in a search process, that you are willing to help in any way you can, and only want to know how they believe you can best help the process along. Take the conversation from there. If you don’t get anything back, follow up by asking about specific things you might be able to do, and about their expected timeline. You probably want to have these conversations in person as well. I’d probably have the conversation, then follow up with email.

      Pushing won’t do you any good, but this should make it clear that this wasn’t a coup on your part.

      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        I wrote more below, but wanted to comment on one piece of this: If you’re interested in the job, you should tell the board that. If you just say you think they should do a search, you risk it sounding like “because I don’t really want the job.”

        1. Observer

          I agree that if youwant the job tell them so. And, I would expect that any board would take that very serious. But, it’s important to make clear that you were not expecting that you would get the job as an inevitable result of this process, and that if you don;t get the job, youwill be happy to work with whoever the board chooses.

    2. Ask a Manager Post author

      It really depends on the context. In general, there’s nothing wrong with the board offering you the position (and you accepting it) without there being an outside search. That happens all the time when it’s clear the internal candidate (you) would be great at the job, since often it’s easier to have an insider than bringing in someone from the outside (if and only if the insider is excellent; otherwise it’s not worth it).

      However, if you’re in a culture where people are likely to be suspicious of you or skeptical that you’re right for the job, then doing a wider search (where you’re one of several candidates) could be a better approach. But it really depends on your particular context.

      I’m curious about the comment your director made to you — could it be motivated by bitterness? Or do you think she’s truly giving you the benefit of her knowledge of the politics there?

      1. Libonymous

        Well, my director supports me taking the position. We are a small enough industry that the directors all get together at least once a year, so I’ll be in close contact with everyone, preceded by rumors that form my reputation. For what it’s worth, my director is the kind of person where people tend to either love or hate her. At a conference, I had one director, upon learning where I worked, comment with “I love Director!” Another director responded to the same information with a sincere “I’m sorry” and followed up more than once with sympathies and encouragement. Also for what it’s worth, this Board is known for doing what they want and viewing professional norms and legal requirements as suggestions.

        My goals here are to keep a positive professional reputation; negotiate for an acceptable salary increase, whether I am the new director or Interim Director; begin repairing trust between staff (including me) and the Board; and over all, navigate this to the best outcome for myself and the organization (with first loyalties to my own career).

        1. Not So NewReader

          Given that they view professional norms and legal requirements as suggestions – do you think this is a winnable battle?

        2. Observer

          From readingt this and the rest of the comments, I think that the issue is not whether it would normally be reasonable for teh board to offer you the position. The bigger issue is the rumor mill. How much of an issue is that likely to be?

    3. cuppa

      I’ve seen this happen, and you are right to be concerned. However, I also agree with your friend that it may be out of your control. Good luck.

      1. cuppa

        After reading the other comments, I will say that my situation looked the way it did because the new selection was a bit of an unconventional choice. To make that choice without a formal search looked very weird.

    4. fposte

      I wouldn’t leap to do this, and I sure wouldn’t let an ousted director push me into doing this.

      I think it’s less likely that people will think you drove her out than they’ll be concerned the board is continuing to be flaky on its hiring and firing practice. But a lot of times what’s needed after a situation like a director ouster is stability and internal knowledge while people regroup and regain trust in the institution. And director searches, presuming your handle hints at librarianship, are usually onerous and nerve-wracking and lengthy and expensive, which is the opposite of stabilizing the situation.

      What I might consider doing, if this reads sensibly to you, is communicating to the board your interest in helping stabilize the situation–that you’re definitely interested in the position and that you want to handle it the way that will be best for the organization/system going forward, and that you’d therefore be interested in being part of the conversation about what the best route would be on the process. An experienced interim director gives an organization time to breathe and to think carefully about next steps after upheaval; I wouldn’t throw away that opportunity in a hurry.

    5. Not So NewReader

      How frequent is the turn over in directors?
      Did the previous director leave under similar circumstances?

      1. Libonymous

        This director has been here over a decade; I don’t know how long the ones before stayed. He says the Board (which has a rotating membership) always drives out every director. The previous director retired (this director says he was about to be fired, but who knows). Given the personality conflicts and politics involved, I think there is more to the story, especially since this director been here for almost 15 years and even though there have been conflicts, they’ve let him stay this long.

        Seeing as, unless I quit, I pretty much have to take the interim director position (and under better circumstances wouldn’t have reservations), my priority is to figure out the best way to proceed.

        1. Not So NewReader

          Ahh. Okay so if you push them to look at outside candidates, then WHEN they complain about you, you can fall back on, “I originally said that you should look at outside candidates.”
          Well, that could be helpful for you at some point if you used this strategy. Personally, I prefer to front things like this if I know it will be a problem later on.

          You sound like you could make a good go of it- I hope you get the job and I hope you make a difference in this whole situation!

  95. Elizabeth West

    Sooooo glad it’s Friday. This week has been very tiring for some reason. I hope I’m not getting sick. *please please please* There is something nasty going around (and our ice show is next week). So far, only one of my coworkers has come down with something recently and she very wisely worked from/stayed home during that time. But since I traditionally get sick between Thanksgiving and Christmas (if it’s going to happen), I’ll be nervous about it until after New Year’s.

    Congratulations to everyone who found a job this week!! And to the people still looking, hang in there. I’ve got my fingers and toes crossed for you!

  96. salary

    Yikes, I’m already too late and my question is a bit boring!
    How much do I really have to work if I am salaried & exempt? I just started my first exempt position, and while my workload is still ramping up (lots of things I can’t do *yet*), I don’t have enough work to fill 40 hours. I would just leave when I run out of work (and have stayed a reasonable amount of time) since I am exempt, but I also required to keep track of my hours on a timesheet so I feel weird about it. My observation is that plenty of people are spending less than 40 in the office – except they’re coming in late, not leaving early, so I might still stand out. (I could switch my schedule to come in later too, but I wouldn’t bother since it wouldn’t be worth it to me).

    Anyone care to share their perspective on leaving early when you are exempt?

    1. AdAgencyChick

      I think you have to spend a few months reading the office (and your individual boss — at my company, different supervisors definitely have different attitudes about this). I made the mistake at my first post-college job (which was also my first exempt job) of leaving when I thought my work was done, even though others were staying considerably later. My first review was pretty crappy, and it turns out my boss thought I wasn’t being thorough enough. I wish he’d been clearer about giving me that feedback during the course of my first six months instead of waiting until my review to deliver it as “this is a pattern that needs to be fixed,” but I also should have paid more attention.

      If it’s a significant amount of time under 40 hours, I’d go to your boss and ask whether there’s anything else you could be helping with. You may get, “No, you’re new, enjoy this time because we’re going to work you harder after you’ve learned more.” Or you may get, “Spend that downtime learning X, Y, and Z.”

    2. CheeryO

      I think it depends on your company culture. I’m exempt, but I have almost no flexibility in my scheduling. Unless I have an appointment or a client meeting somewhere, I’m expected to be butt-in-chair from 7:30 to 4:30, with a one hour lunch from 12:00 to 1:00. I had a coworker who was fired for consistently showing up 5-10 minutes late and leaving 5-10 minutes early.

      I would just make sure that the people who come in late are actually coming from home and not from early morning meetings or something else work-related.

      1. De Minimis

        I agree, check the culture, though when you’re starting out you may want to err on the side of sticking to the schedule. I think what people do at the start of a new job tends to follow them, even if they change later on.

  97. Golden Yeti

    Just an update about the writing thing…boss just asked me to write the info page for a product, and said he already wrote some for me to start with. There are about 3 short paragraphs of original thought, followed by huge chunks that were obviously copied and pasted from other websites. I even copied a phrase of that part and googled it to be sure; sure enough, was directly copied from somewhere else…

  98. ahhh

    Help! Remember the conversation about telling an employee she smells bad? Well to my complete shock and mortification I am now that employee. My boss handled it really well and was very straightforward but all the changes I’ve made aren’t helping. She stopped in yesterday as a follow up to say sometimes it’s improved but sometimes it isn’t. I’ve changed everything I can think of (deodorant, shampoo, body wash, shower time, detergent, and even my shoes) and I’m at a loss.
    She did mention that this could be a problem with my potential to be hired for the permanent position here which would be heartbreaking since I like the job and the people a lot.
    Any tips on how to combat this? The last time somebody told me I smelled was middle school when my mom told me it was time to start wearing deodorant.

    1. reader

      If you are showering every day there are 2 possibilities I can think of. The first is that it is related to something you are eating. The second is there is something internal/medical going on and you should talk to a doctor.

    2. Sascha

      Did she describe the smell at all? Maybe that can help pinpoint what type of smell it is.

      I would also talk with a doctor, as it could be a medical thing. And check your office, cubicle, car etc. – maybe it’s not so much you as it is your environment.

      1. INTP

        Agree with checking your environment, and also check your home and clothes. If there is a mildewy or musty or animal smell in your apartment or house, or if you’re in a drafty building and have neighbors that smoke (even outdoors) or cook with a lot of pungent spices, it could permeate your clothes. I’m not sure what you could do about that besides an air purifier, though, unless you can afford to freshly wash your clothes everyday.

        Another thought – some people swear to me that if they air dry their hair, it mildews. Obviously these are people who have very thick hair and live in very humid climates, but could that be an issue?

        Do you have any extremely honest friends who would be willing to sniff your armpits/hair/clothes/etc and tell you where you have an odor and what it smells like? It’s not a job any friend wants but I’d do it for a good friend.

    3. Nethwen

      How frustrating for you! My first thought is if you are using scented products, maybe the way they work with your body chemistry is making them smell bad to others. That’s not a problem with you, that’s a scientific reaction between chemicals, so don’t blame yourself. My other thought is if your clothes are stored in a place that has little airflow or is filled with scent contaminants like smoke or pungent food, the clothes might smell and since you live in the house, you might not notice it. I’m sorry you have to figure this out when the simple answers didn’t work. I can’t imagine how unpleasant it must be for you to work through this.

      One story: I once worked with a person who reeked of raw garlic. I was told she ate garlic to help with arthritis and she smelled because of how much she ate. I don’t know if the explanation was scientifically accurate.

    4. ahhh

      She just said it was an odor that was distinctive. She hadn’t smelled it but there had been multiple complaints to her which is why she was speaking to me about it. I did make a doctor’s appointment but it’s a long ways off since it’s currently December and everyone bails for the holidays.
      The point about airflow is a good one. My room is above the kitchen of my house and the closet is directly above the stove- I will dig further into that this weekend.
      Thank you all!

      1. Diet Coke Addict

        It really might be your clothes, then! Especially if you cook particularly pungent foods (cabbage/cruciferous veggies, fish, curry) where the smell lingers.

        Do you have animals? If so, is there a chance that the “animal-y” odor is into your clothes/coat/shoes? Not necessarily the smell of excreta, but just a general animal scent. Does your winter coat need dry cleaning? People rarely clean their coats and they can get kind of manky with sweat, which can transfer onto clothing.

        1. ahhh

          No animals and I dry cleaned my coat the weekend before Thanksgiving but it may be time to do it again. I’m in the habit of doing that every 2 months or so but now that I commute on the metro I may have to up my schedule.

          1. voluptuousfire

            Or at least Febreeze your coat when you get home. I have one coat that would always catch the odors of the subway and after a week or two, it would smell. I’d Febreeze it every other day and I would then wash it once a month.

    5. fposte

      ahhh indeed! So sorry this is happening to you. At least now that it’s out in the open you can dig into it. In addition to the other excellent suggestions (definitely do include a doctor–and if you’re not already going to a dentist, that’s a good step to take too), could you get a friend to sniff-test with you and make it clear that your job is on the line, so you really need help rather than feelings-sparing? I’d also have them sniff around my house and, if you’re brave enough, the dirty laundry. If you’re examining your intake for causes, don’t forget to consider any medications you take, too.

      It may be a conjunction of factors, too–a naturally fragrant chemistry that gets bumped to the extreme if you’re wearing certain fabrics or styles, for instance.

    6. Ask a Manager Post author

      A few more thoughts:

      – This is random, but how often are you washing your towels? I used to know a guy who didn’t wash his enough, they’d get mildewy, and that smell would transfer onto him when he used them. I think he also might not have dried his clothes enough and they’d get a slight mildewy scent too.

      – Any chance it’s dental? If you haven’t tried upping your dental hygiene, that could be another thing to look at (and a dentist visit if you haven’t been in the last six months).

      But I second the doctor visit suggestion too.

      Good luck!

      1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

        Mildewy! Such a good suggestion. Just a little bit of that is nasty.

        It could be mildewy clothes also.

        Smell your washer. You can google to find out how to do a good washer cleaning with vinegar if you don’t like the smell. Transfer your clothes from the washer to the dryer immediately.

        I’m paranoid about smells and if I smell something funky in the office I’m immediately frightened that it is me and I start sniffing around to find the source.

        It’s never me only one time: IT WAS. It was my clothes! they had sat in the washer overnight and I thought I got away with it. I smelled them when they came out of the dryer and they smelled fine. By the time I got to the office though, ‘that smell” was me!

        The people who sat near me swore they couldn’t smell it but what are you going to say when I’m freaking out embarrassed?

      2. Sheep

        The mildewy/mouldy smell can come from a lot of things in your house. Someone I know lives in a smelly, shared house, and I can smell the same smell on him.. Maybe make sure that everything is sparkly clean!

      3. ahhh

        This is actually a thing I hadn’t considered- I wash my towels once a week and but it usually takes 2 or 3 dryer cycles to get them dry and I end up leaving them overnight- I washed my washing machine out recently but I haven’t done the dryer- I wonder if that contributes.
        I tend not to change my dental routine (brush after breakfast lunch and before bed) but I will have to examine that this weekend.
        What’s also odd is that my friend who I see 3-4 times a week and is helpful on the brutally honest side said she can’t smell anything. I’m planning to ask a different friend this weekend to see if that answer is the same.
        thank you all so much for these tips- I really appreciate it!

        1. Persephone Mulberry

          I would start here! Damp stuff left in the washer/dryer gets rank fast, and needing multiple dry cycles (meaning stuff is staying damp for an extra hour or five) probably doesn’t help. Also, if it’s taking THREE cycles to get towels dry, you might have a bad heating element or a gunked up dryer vent. We had similar issues with stuff not drying properly and employed both fixes on different occasions – keeping the vents cleared out helped for a while, but eventually the heater gave out anyway. If you’re handy or you have a handy friend, replacing the heating element isn’t as scary as it sounds – my husband did it by himself in an afternoon once (and OMG the difference!).

        2. Observer

          I’m betting that it’s not just your towels, then. ANYTHING you dry in the dryer is almost certainly going to have a bit of a problem. Either you are overloading your dryer, you have the wrong setting, your exhaust line is blocked, your lint catcher needs to be cleaned (if you machine has one of those) or something is wrong with your dryer. It shouldn’t take that many cycles to dry a load of towels. Which makes me wonder if your other clothes are really being properly dried, and also if you might not have a mildew problem in the dryer.

          That’s on top of the issue of the wet towels staying in the dryer overnight.

    7. voluptuousfire

      Do you eat a particular pungent diet? That may be a cause. Otherwise I’d get it medically checked out.

    8. Not So NewReader

      It could be adrenal glands or maybe not.

      I read a story of one man who had an ongoing odor problem that the doctor could not figure out.
      It turned out it was his wedding ring. Somehow it got all junked up and the man never noticed.

      Check your jewelry/glasses and anything you carry with you. Did you drop your wallet in an innocent looking mud puddle then forget? What about your key ring?

      Since it seems random, maybe it is something you are eating for lunch/breakfast. Do you vary your meals a lot? Scents from things like garlic and onions don’t just come out in your breath, they also come out of your pores.

      Since some people don’t notice it, could it be that someone left something in your desk or work area that is rotting?

      1. Stephanie

        Yeah, seconding the glasses. Oils and dandruff can get trapped in glasses (especially if there’s an intricate design), so be sure to thoroughly clean those regularly. Also, at the risk of sounding like your mother, also make sure to clean behind your ears, especially as a glasses wearer.

    9. Stephanie

      Sorry you’re dealing with this. A couple other suggestions:
      -How often do you wash your bedding? Maybe trying upping the frequency at which you wash or change your sheets.
      -Same with outerwear (especially this time of year). People don’t always wash or clean their coats with regularity (I’ve been guilty of this).
      -Do you eat a lot of garlic, onions, or curries? Garlics (and their cousins) can sometimes be smelled in your pores. I made a really garlicky soup once and could smell garlic as I sweated through a morning gym class the following morning.
      -Do you wear any activewear with wicking properties? Eventually, I find I have to toss that stuff since it begins to retain odors no matter how many times I wash it.
      -If you’re female (or male…no judgement), have you gotten new bras recently? Similar to the activewear, those can store odors, especially since a lot of women don’t wash them daily or change them daily.
      -Try unscented toiletries. I’ve definitely tried scented stuff that just doesn’t work with my natural smell and makes me smell strangely as a result.

    10. INTP

      I posted above but thought of something else – medications. When I take Mucinex, it comes out in my body odor. Sniff the medications you take and see if any of them are stinky. Coffee flavored products also sometimes come out, though usually actual coffee is fine.

      Also, think of places you go that might smell. When I sit at starbucks for an hour or more, my hair smells like burnt coffee. The first time I noticed it I flipped out, thinking my neighbor had been smoking so much at night that it made my hair reek! The same might happen at any place that serves pungent things like coffee or garlicky food.

  99. HelpMeDecorate!

    HELP! I have two offices and am horrible at decorating and low on cash (moved across state lines/getting married). Anyone have any inexpensive decorating tips? Everyone keeps commenting on how bare my office is so I think it’s time that I do something.

    1. Nethwen

      Go to a thrift store, find a king or queen-sized flat sheet in good condition with a pattern you like, and hang it from one wall. It could be hung flat and taught to achieve a similar effect as painting an accent wall or hung loose and draped for a different feel.

      (Or you could set up a collection of nude, gold-painted Barbies.)

      1. Vanishing Girl

        I love this idea! I was going to suggest fabric, too… using an interesting thrift store sheet is even cheaper! You can use nails or t-pins to hold it up, or some kind of command adhesive hooks/hangers so you don’t damage the walls.

    2. Trixie

      Painting does wonders, even its one accent wall in a soft, muted tone. A simple, low-maintenance plant. Table lamp for indirect lighting. Depending on how professional a setting you need, I also like a large bulletin board “fun/inspiration” board. Funny notes, artsy postcards, etc. If this doesn’t work, maybe some simply framed pieces in Ikea frames. Or one big one. (An arts foundation i support puts out a new poster every year so I picked up one frame and swap it out every year.)

    3. hermit crab

      If you like maps, your state geological survey will often send you really nice ones for free. I got a gorgeous, giant, brightly colored map of my state that I hung on my office wall with a bunch of clear push-pins, and everyone loves to comment on it. I like the fabric idea, too!

  100. LolaK

    I’m interviewing for my first direct report (I’m looking for someone with 2-3 years of experience). I have interviewed 6 people and have only liked one. The other five were either not right for the position or wouldn’t fit the culture (or frankly I couldn’t imagine having to sit next to them all day). I feel like I am just not going to really like anyone and have had a hard time trying to differentiate who would be a good hire. HR seems pretty agitated that I am not excited about most of them. Is this normal? How do you know if you have found the right person?

    1. Graciosa

      This can be a difficult thing to balance. I have had Staffing annoyed with me that they sent more than twenty candidates without my choosing any of them. This kind of thing makes you really doubt yourself, and question whether you are on a futile quest for a purple unicorn – and then the right candidate finally walks in and you thank heaven you didn’t settle for “well, maybe this one will work out okay.”

      While you’re going through this, do think seriously about what you’re looking for and how you can help refine the search. Think seriously about priorities and deal-breakers (for example, I can teach people certain jobs but there are attitudes I won’t hire no matter what they know).

      I don’t pay much attention to what Staffing thinks – they don’t know my business, as evidenced by how some resumes are handled – but I do check in with my manager in these situations. This is a perfect item to discuss – here’s what I’m doing to fill this role, here are the results I’m getting (or not getting), here are the things I’ve considered, and here is my plan – what do you think, and what could I be missing? I would listen to a manager saying I was too demanding or mishandling the hiring process where I wouldn’t listen to Staffing.

      Good luck.

      1. LolaK

        Thanks for the advice! HR is making me doubt myself but I set up a meeting with my manager this week to get some feedback.

    2. Steve G

      I have only hired mimi-mes (no reports), and helped interview other new hires at the same level, and I think your attitude is good. My fault was that I got to attached to each candidate and felt bad for them because it is/was a recession, they need a job, they are nice…and I think I should have cut all of that out and just focused on how good they are for the more difficult parts of the job

  101. RG

    Just had an interview! Here’s to hoping that becoming mildly obsessed with this blog for the past month or so paid off!

  102. Hello

    I work at a hotel and am getting completely burnt out. I have a diploma (not a degree) in hospitality which seems worthless to employers in other industries. How do I switch fields? Has anyone done this? I can’t afford to go back to school.

    1. Steve G

      If this helps………I switches to a customer service/inside sales job (from retail), then used that experience to switch to a customer service/reporting job where I learned a lot of excel, used that experience to switch to a coordinator role where I learned more advanced excel and more about business, and then kept getting promoted at that job…..there were a couple of other low level jobs in between…but I used the experience from each to jump to something that used that experience + something else…..and I had a college degree the whole time, I just lived in a somewhat rural area with very few high paying jobs outside of cop/doctor/teacher.

    2. Waiting Patiently

      I’m not sure how the industry has changed since I left it around 2001, but I started at the front desk, then audit and from there into accounting. Which eventually helped me get out of the industry. I know a lot has probably changed. Best of luck to you.

  103. Cruciatus

    My mom doesn’t understand why I’m irritated with my sister who “is just trying to help” find me a better job. My sister will never have to worry about money while I’m working a $10.45 an hour job. Of course I’d like to make more, but I want to like what I do too and I’m applying to those things… But she’ll see something like “Oh, Aldi’s is hiring managers! $22 an hour!” OK, great, but I’ve never been a manager and, while I enjoy Aldi’s (Trader Joe’s sibling store), I really don’t want to work there. Now she’s found me a medical receptionist job for $18/hour which would require me moving to a new state but “it’s a hell of a pay upgrade!” Yes, it is, but…it sounds terrible from the details she gave me. No set schedule, nights, days, weekends, nights, days, weekends, filling in last minute here or there at different buildings across the city. But, but, $18 an hour! I know my sister means well, but I think she has no idea what I do now and therefore no idea what I’m remotely qualified for or what I’m even interested in. I hate having to refuse her help and explaining to my mom why it’s not a good fit and why my sister isn’t really helping me… /endrant

    1. Tomato Frog

      Ugh, I hate this idea that there are jobs out there that can just be gotten if only one is willing to apply. Why the hell would Aldi hire someone with no management background and no experience in their stores when they can find great candidates who have one or both?

      You should just start telling them you applied to the jobs. And then later telling them that you’ve been rejected from every one.

      (Incidentally, I have a weird love of searching for job postings and I do this for my sister all the time. But before I sent her postings, I looked at her resume, discussed her experience with her, and asked her what she’s looking for in a new position.)

      1. Cruciatus

        The problem with the medical receptionist one is it’s through the large company she works at and she said if I give her my resume she can get it fast tracked through to the right people. So I HAVE to tell her no. She did preface telling me with “I know you said you weren’t interested before, but….” While one of my biggest criticisms of my current job is my very low pay, I don’t want just any other job because it’s more money. That seems to be the only thing my sister is focusing on for me. And then she says “You don’t have to do much in the position.” I don’t know, I’m just kinda offended all around that she thinks it’s just about the money and that I don’t want to do anything (and I’ll bet medical receptionists would beg to differ)… The whole thing just is rubbing me the wrong way…and just in time for the holidays too!

    2. Not So NewReader

      FWIW, I saw a job at a local post office $18/hr, PT/temp.
      I inquired about it.
      “No, no one ever starts at $18 per hour for that job. I have no idea why they say that.”

      I will never, ever understand job ads.

    3. LAMM

      My mom does the same thing. She’ll email me links to job postings. I ignore them. If she asks if I saw the email I just respond with “Yup! How was little sisters concert the other day (or any other change of topic that will send her off on a 20 minute rant)”.

      I used to give a long explanation about how thats not what I’m looking for because of x, y, and z and how I really want to focus on getting into a, b, and c…. only to have the exact conversation again the following week. It was exhausting.

    4. INTP

      No advice because I never solved it either, but I can commiserate with you. When I graduated – in 2010, right after seemingly half of the country had been laid off – my mom would accuse me of being “too negative” if I didn’t apply to positions requesting 5 years of experience. I had 4 summer internships which she thought should count as a year each. She also told me to put my SAT scores on my resume and then companies would see how smart I am and choose to train me instead of hiring someone with experience. If 1.5 years of recruiting taught me anything, it’s that no one wants to train anyone on anything, ever. No one hires a recent grad for a midlevel job. No one is going to hire a receptionist from out of state and places aren’t going to just hire managers with no related management experience. Even in high cost of living areas, if a job pays more than $15/hour, they want experience. It’s so frustrating to be made to feel like a defeatist just because you’re realistic (or be forced to waste your time applying to jobs that will reject you just to make someone else happy).

    5. Sheep

      I would sit down with my sister and my mother and actually outline what it is that I want from a job. That would hopefully mean that the sister would slow down the job-hunt.

  104. Nashira

    I could use a bit of advice, if anyone is still hanging about the thread.

    I work in an office that is less dysfunctional than it once was, but remains staffed half by genuinely kind people and half by miserably nasty ones. There’s extra drama because the office is half government employees and half subcontractors – I’m a subcontractor. Several govvies are openly abusive towards the contractors, and half of my fellow contractors took a cue from them and are major bullies towards the rest of us, with a side of nasty hostile comments about people with disabilities, queer folks, and people of color. (I’m a closeted-for-safety queer, openly disabled woman.) For irony points, my company has a rigorous anti-discrimination policy, but the main offender is one of the client’s favorites, so she barely gets a slap on the wrist, since our offsite manager won’t rock the boat on this account/give our supervisor authority to address bad behavior. My bosses like me, and consistently give me excellent quarterly performance reviews, backed up w/nice bonuses, but I always feel like my job is at risk. I know some of that is my anxiety disorder… but…

    I know I’ve got to get out. This environment is so toxic to my mental health that I’m in treatment for a recurrence of my old friends suicidal ideation and self-harm. Doesn’t help that aspects of our work triggers some post-traumatic issues of mine, suddenly. I’m just concerned as to how to move on. My first job ever was a horrible fit, where they needed an experienced admin and hired me instead, so I was let go during my probation period and spent a year unemployed. I have been in my second job/current spot for 2.5 years now, with the first six months as a temp. In two years, I will be seeking employment in IT, after I finish a programming-focused BS. Am I going to look like a job hopper or unreliable if I start hunting now, then again once I graduate? And what on earth would I say, when prospective employers ask why I’m job hunting now?

    Thanks in advance!

    1. fposte

      I’m so sorry, Nashira. I hope you feel better soon. Are you seeing a therapist? That will certainly be helpful during the stresses of job changing, too.

      A degree is kind of a reset–people aren’t going to worry a lot about what you did before your degree once you start searching in the field after completion. I also think that 2.5 years is a pretty decent hitch, especially if you’re doing it alongside of pursuing your BS. At this point, I’d say just start looking for the new job; depending on what the aspects of work you’re finding personally troubling are, the fact that your work ended up being emotionally draining may be reason enough to give.

      Good luck, and I hope things improve for you.

    2. Rex-a-ford

      I think that the getting a degree gives a sense that you trying to start a career, not to mention, 2.5 years and 2 years isn’t perfect, but it wouldn’t be a huge red flag. I wouldn’t’ mention the first job on your resume.

    3. Not So NewReader

      Is there a way that you could get a job that is nearer to your career goal? My thought is that if you applied for something like this you could say that the new job is closer to where you want to take your career. The beauty of this is that you don’t even mention your current job in your response.

    4. Steve G

      I agree with FPoste. I’d also use this as a chance to work on assertiveness. I am a straightforward sometimes loud NYer that can come across as obnoxious not because I want to be, but because the world made me become that way. So many people come to work to walk on other people to climb the ladder, and take advantage of others in various ways, you need to start pushing back and asserting yourself. Maybe just start by practicing phrases like “you shouldn’t say that” or “are you kidding” or “that is unacceptable” when the bullies start.

      But I’d get out due to the health aspect. My stressful job led to sleep problems, thyroid issues, then ultimately very bad lower back pain that made me have to start working from home ’til it went away…..not worth the job

    5. Observer

      You won’t look like a job hopper – everyone exepcts people to move once they get a degree.

      As for now – bad fit, you would like to be an employee rather than a contractor, etc.

  105. coconut water

    If anyone is still reading…..does “DRESS CODE: Business Casual” mean something different in different cities, different types of businesses? What is a safe bet for the first day?

    I know of offices in this city where Business Casual is Eddie Bauer Khakis. Is that too casual for most offices?

    1. Rebecca

      Is there someone you can ask? Did you happen to see or meet your new coworkers when you went for an interview? I’d probably err on the side of being a little too dressed up on the first day than not enough.

      1. coconut water

        It’s a temp job so I didn’t get to see the actual coworkers or supervisor. I will wear slacks and a nice tunic top w/tunic cardigan first day.

        1. Persephone Mulberry

          I think you’re on point. For us, business casual means no jeans, no sneakers, no sweatshirts and no giant logos or characters emblazoned across your chest.

  106. Elysian

    Bah, did I totally miss my chance to engage with people on the Amazon decision? I was sick today so I’m just getting to this now.

    In sum – I’m really sad, but the decision makes sense. I’m a little surprised it was unanimous. Also, I hate that law.

    1. Jessica (the celt)

      I’m with you, Elysian. The Evil HR Lady has a post about it on her site, if you want to read more commentary on it. She made a good point that the decision was based on statute and not constitutional law, so it could potentially be overturned by other laws in the future (although my guess is probably not). She also make a good point that if they had to pay people for this time, they would have more incentive to streamline the process so it takes less time for employees to go through the security process.

  107. Cath in Canada

    I’ve been having so much fun at work this week – I’m getting to write the real meat of a grant proposal for the first time in ages!

    Our proposals are usually extremely technical, with a professor providing the text. I might make suggestions – e.g. “I’m not sure what this sentence is trying to say, can you explain so I can re-write it?”, or “we’re still missing a team roles / potential pitfalls and alternative approaches / data dissemination section” , or “I think we have too much focus on X and not enough on Y – the request for applications really emphasizes Y” – but most of my contributions are to other sections. For instance I usually write the non-technical language summary, the budget justification, the impact statement etc., and I edit, proof, format, and assemble the whole thing.

    Right now, though, I’m working with a couple of professors on a grant that’s mostly concerned with planning an annual conference, communications and outreach, training programmes, etc. These