open thread – December 26, 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 :)

{ 383 comments… read them below }

  1. AnotherAnon*

    I live in a state with snowy winter weather. I own a car, but usually take public transit to work most of the winter. From January-February about 10 coworkers and I are being sent to do off-site training 50 miles away (so 100 miles/round trip, 3 days a week, for about 5-6 hours total each day; we are expected to report to work at the normal time each day, leave mid-morning, and return by closing time). We are expected to carpool there and back using our own vehicles, presumably taking turns. I know one coworker in my group doesn’t have a car at all. I personally wouldn’t feel comfortable doing the driving, due to the distance and high likelihood of bad road conditions. Is there a good way to bring this up to my other coworkers without making this into A Big Deal?

    1. soitgoes*

      Can you say that your car can’t reliably drive 100 miles a day? tbh I don’t like the idea of “splitting” the driving when one person already doesn’t have a car.

      1. Lizzie*

        Yeah, some classmates and I tried this during our grad school internship (splitting driving responsibility when one person in the carpool [me] didn’t have a car), and it got very confusing very quickly with respect to pick up schedules, who owed who how much for gas/tolls and when the money needed to be paid, etc. Granted, this was over a full semester rather than just a couple of days, but the problems very nearly disappeared about a month in when one woman just said, “I’ll be the driver every day, this is when and where I’ll pick you up, and I think a fair amount for everyone to chip in is $X, but let’s discuss that first.”

        But, I will say that as a non-driver, I wouldn’t have felt comfortable volunteering someone else for all driving responsibilities, even though it clearly made more sense to do it that way.

    2. LoFlo*

      If this isn’t going to be a daily thing, you might just have to suck it up. If is is going to be daily, it is weird that one or two people would be expected to provide transportation for co-workers to what is essentially a different work site. Can you set up some type of schedule in advance on who is going to drive what day?

      Is the company going to reimburse the drivers for mileage? What would the company expect if none of you had personal vehicles or didn’t have reliable vehicles to make that kind of trip? What if somebody is running late and doesn’t make the assigned departure carpool departure time?

      Is there a reason that they can’t have the training at your location?

    3. louise*

      If your company would rent a four wheel drive vehicle, would you feel more comfortable driving? Or riding with a co-worker who is comfortable driving a vehicle like that? If so, that might be something to bring up: “I’m comfortable driving my car locally, but for further distances in iffy weather conditions, I just don’t feel like it’s a safe enough vehicle.” But if you’d be uncomfortable driving no matter what, that doesn’t help much.

      1. hermit crab*

        I recommend this approach too. I’ve done something similar — in my case, I had pre-arranged to rent a car while on travel, but then I got there and decided to upgrade to a four-wheel drive vehicle once I realized what the road/weather conditions would be like. The company agreed right away and it was definitely worth it.

        1. Melissa*

          I live in the Northeast and I recently bought a car. Never having owned a car before, I didn’t know anything about AWD vs FWD, but now that I have the car I kind of wish I had sprung for an AWD for those snowy days. Although I do have to say – I read several articles on this beforehand suggesting that AWD isn’t necessarily worth the premium you pay for it. Apparently it only helps with acceleration during inclement weather, but not handling or braking.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      I’d start by finding out if the training will take place no matter what the weather is. (Meaning, find out how much of a concern you have first.) It could be that under certain conditions they will cancel because no one else will make it, either.

      With ten of you going at the same time, I don’t think I would worry too much about driving. You can simply say that your car does not do well in bad conditions. If pressed, further you can say that you have concerns about using your car.

      1. Brett*

        _If_ you are getting mileage reimbursement, the company could rent two cars each day instead and come out ahead.

    5. Cupcake*

      I would check into the cost of renting a vehicle (the suggesting of a 4 wheel drive is a good one). When my husband drove often for work, his company had a policy that they were to rent a car if the trip was going to be 100 miles or more RT, as it was actually less expensive for the company to rent a vehicle than pay for mileage. Do a little cost comparison and present the numbers to the powers that be. They may see things your way. Of course, someone would have to pick up the vehicle, but that may be a small inconvenience compared to the wear and tear on one’s own car during bad weather.

    6. JMW*

      Just be honest: “I am not comfortable driving such long distances in winter weather.” You may find there is someone in the group that doesn’t mind doing the driving (particularly if being reimbursed). You may also find that someone in the group prefers to drive rather than be a passenger (particularly if the other driver has stated a lack of confidence).

    7. CheeryO*

      Could you just take your turns on days when the weather is clear and the roads are dry? I’d bet that you have at least two people in your group who drive SUVs and would rather drive on those questionable days than get in the car with someone who isn’t used to/comfortable with winter weather driving. Hopefully they will have their mileage reimbursed, but you could always buy them coffee/lunch as an extra thanks. (And hopefully you wouldn’t be expected to go on days when the conditions are really terrible.)

    8. INTP*

      I have ADHD and don’t feel comfortable driving with other people in the car. I’m a safe driver, just need quiet to concentrate and feel distracted with other people there. If it’s my family who know me and won’t be weirded out when I say “No

      Anyways, I find that by not volunteering, I get out of most driving without having to give an explanation. Usually someone else will step up. If you throw it out there up front that you can’t drive for X reason, you’re just drawing attention to the fact that you never volunteer. If someone tries to volunteer me I make up an excuse about how there’s stuff in the passenger seats of my car or I’m out of gas and would need to stop on the way. In your case, you could just say that your car doesn’t handle well in the snow or that your battery tends to crap out in the cold. People are motivated by their personal safety and most people won’t want to be in the car with an unfamiliar and obviously hesitant driver in a car that is unreliable or unsafe.

      1. INTP*

        *Part of the first paragraph got deleted. It should be
        If it’s my family who know me and won’t be weirded out when I say “No talking or music for the next twenty minutes,” I deal. Coworkers that I have to keep a likeable work personality with, or who I’m not “out” about my ADHD with, I avoid driving at all costs.

      2. cuppa*

        This is a good point. I’m come to notice that there is a good mix of people out there who prefer to drive and prefer not to drive. In most cases, I haven’t volunteered myself and usually someone else wants to.

    9. Relosa*

      As someone who grew up in a winter state…you have to learn to drive in crappy weather. It’s just a way of life. I would suggest telling others about your discomfort of winter driving. One time in one month I had to drive through four blizzards/supersnowstorms and that’s what officially made me hate it – but I was already good and it made me an even better winter driver, even though I avoided it when I could afterward.

      Also, I don’t recommend 4WD for someone who is admittedly not a winter driver. Front wheel is the way to go – you need to be able to feel when you do and don’t have traction. 4WD is really only helpful in rural areas or someone who knows how to handle it. If you’re just taking highways somewhere and you’re speeding down on 4WD and hit black ice – sayonara, friend.

      1. fposte*

        It also doesn’t stop you from the hideous error of braking when hit a slippery patch, which seems to be the big move that sends people into the ditch around here.

        1. Relosa*

          Yup. People think 4WD is magic for driving when really all it is is having front wheel going both forwards and backwards on steroids. I only drove 4WD a couple of times and I hated it. I’m fine if my car fishtails, that means I know what I’m working with and can adjust my driving accordingly.

          1. Bea W*

            It’s good for getting out of sticky spots, but unless you are off-roading or in an area where the plowing sucks, it’s really not needed or much help. Front-wheel drive with good tires (tires matter!) and careful driving will keep you firmly planted on the road in most conditions.

      2. soitgoes*

        That’s a good point about winter driving. It’s an entirely separate issue from the workplace saying, “You guys have to do off-site training for a while…idk, work out your own transportation,” which sounds like iffy management to me. There are a million reasons why even great drivers don’t want to have other people in their cars or be otherwise responsible for driving their coworkers 100 miles each day. But the issue of, “Wellll….I just never drive in the snow” sounds a little delicate to me.

        1. Relosa*

          Winter driving really is a life-saving skill, not just even a preference. You need to know how to get yourself in and out of snowbanks, how to survive if you’re stranded, how to get a car un-stuck…it’s not even just a “I don’t like it,” thing. Skills can get soft if you don’t use them. I just moved out of a cold winter city that has some transit but nothing huge. I preferred driving in winter over transit because at least I knew I could control my own vehicle…and I hate winter driving as much as the next person.

          There are a million reasons why even great drivers don’t want to have other people in their cars or be otherwise responsible for driving their coworkers 100 miles each day. But the issue of, “Wellll….I just never drive in the snow” sounds a little delicate to me.

          Agreed – on one hand, it doesn’t seem out of place that my job would tell me I’ll be temporarily off-site and well look at that, it’s really far away. And it goes without saying there’s contingency for truly crappy weather.

          I used to have an insurance policy that gave me an awesome deal, but the rule was I was absolutely the only person allowed to drive it. No matter what – I was violating my own insurance if it was being repaired, because the techs would have to drive it to diagnose it! And I’ve been in the same boat of just hating having others in the car or they’re too distracting – but professional adults should be able to figure this one out one way or another.

          1. soitgoes*

            I suspect the problem will solve itself. I’m sure there’s at least one type A coworker who will want to take control of the driving.

            1. Hillary*

              Not just type A. I get carsick if I’m not in the front or if I try to read. I volunteer to drive because I can’t work in the car. Fortunately my employer has us rent cars for trips over 100 miles.

              1. Bea W*

                My 2nd mom gets car sick if she’s sitting up front. She always sits in the back and prefers someone else drive. :)

                I can’t read in the car either. If you need me to look at a map or directions, I have about 30-60 seconds to get you the info before I have to look away. I’d rather drive than navigate (except at night when I can’t see well).

        2. Bea W*

          I don’t really think it’s iffy management being told to carpool when there are 10 people traveling to and from training for that distance over a period of time. Letting everyone drive separately will end up costing a lot of money. The request is pretty standard and actually reasonable given the amount of money that is saved, and it’s also usual that the people attending the off-site function arrange their own transportation whether it’s driving or flying. Management doesn’t actually do any of that.

          If no one in the group feels comfortable taking their own car, it’s totally reasonable to go to the manager and ask about using a rental some or all of the trips. Someone will still have to drive though and put the rental in their name and submit it for reimbursement. It’s really important the group going to the training talk before hand and arrange transportation for that week. They could even do it weekly at the end of the week, decide who will be driving for the 3 days the next week.

          OP – make sure you all exchange cell/home #s in case you need to get in touch with each other due to something coming up, weather, someone can’t make it last minute, one of the drivers’ cars is out of commission, etc.

      3. Bea W*

        My first winter driving was the snowiest on record. I think that year still holds the record. I’d just gotten my license in August. It started snowing in October that year. That was my introduction to winter driving!

        1. ILiveToServe*

          Me too! Moved to MidWest. Got my license in December last year. Worst winter in 33 years. After a lifetime as a non-driving urban dweller.

      4. Monodon monoceros*

        I agree that if you live in a place with winter weather, it’s best to become somewhat comfortable driving in it. However, not with a bunch of coworkers in the car. If the OP wants to learn, great, but OP should do it on their own, or with 1 trusted person to help out (someone who is comfortable in snow and can offer helpful advice).

        I’m reasonably comfortable driving in snow/ice/sleet/etc., after learning to drive in the Northeast, then living for over a decade in Alaska and now northern Norway. However, even I hate to have other people in the car if the roads are crappy. If I must have passengers, then I usually tell them “The roads are shit and I must focus, so I’ll probably ignore you for most of the drive”

    10. Bea W*

      You say “presumably” , which tells me nothing has been worked out yet. It’s totally reasonable to work out amongst yourselves who will drive when. I don’t think anyone would literally expect each person to take a turn. I’ve done a lot of carpooling to off-site work, and there’s always one or more people who can’t or don’t want to drive and one or more people who actually prefer to do the driving and take their own cars. I think if you guys just discuss it as normal, it will work itself out. You can totally just say “I don’t drive to work, and don’t feel comfortable driving long distances or in bad weather. I’d rather not do the driving if possible.” With 10 people, all you will need is at most 3 of the 10 willing to drive in any given week. It’s unlikely to be an issue for you or your co-worker who literally does not have a car. No need to over think or come up with excuses here. It will be fine!

      The people who are driving will be able to submit expense reports for mileage reimbursement, and that’s appealing to some people as it will cover their gas and maybe net them a bit extra.

    11. AnotherAnon*

      Thanks everyone for your feedback (and sorry for the delay in replying – it’s been a crazy few days!). I really appreciate all the suggestions. I think I’ll go with the strategy of not volunteering and hoping a few others volunteer. If pressed, I can try to politely defer, or at worst case scenario, volunteer to drive only a few times, preferably when road conditions are favorable. But hopefully others will volunteer to drive, and I’m definitely happy to cover some of the non-reimbursed costs incurred during our trips (coffee, snacks, etc.).

  2. Paloma Pigeon*

    Wow, first?

    Happy Holidays to all the AAM’ers out there. Here’s to more readers on the blog, and more awareness of what decent office management looks like, so we can slowly weed out the bad managers out there. Thanks to all for insightful commenting. I think we do a great service to people who come here seeking advice, by not only providing them with the practical advice that Alison provides, but also providing emotional support as well. Happy New Year!

    1. WannaWork*

      I haven’t been here long and you guys have already helped me a lot. For Christmas I grabbed Alison’s book, going to get even more info to get a good fit in my next job.

      And one thing this community has done for me is restored my faith that there are still professionals out there who see things the way I do and treat others with respect. After the past few months of interviewing, I wasn’t so sure anymore. It helps not give in to fear that you have to put up with classless behavior to get a job.

      Thank you all!

  3. GracieLou*

    Hello all,

    I’ve been working part-time for a university for nearly 10 months and found out recently that management would like to make me full-time. In order for this to happen, I’m required to reapply to a new, full-time job opening that is essentially my job with a new title and will be interviewed as any other candidate would be. I feel like this situation is a tad different from the standard “internal interview”, were the job opening is not within your own unit or group. I’m wondering how (or if) the interview process will be different in my circumstances versus a more straightforward internal interview and if anyone else has been in this situation before? I’m also trying to focus on what I might ask during the “Do you have any questions” portion of the interview, especially “big picture” type questions.

    1. Carrie in Scotland*

      It’s been almost 2 years since I had a similar situation – except it was temp to perm rather than part time to full – but I’m pretty sure one of my questions at the end was ‘going forward, can you see any areas I should focus on specifically?’ Since you’re going part time to full time, is there something you could ask that relates to the extra hours you’re taking on, maybe?

      Good luck! :)

    2. fposte*

      We do that here at my university, and you’d get a regular full-length interview, not a pro forma one. It can be a little weird for your interviewers too, so don’t think it’s all just on your side.

      I think there’s probably more slack cut if you don’t have questions, but this also might be a good opportunity to really delve into stuff you haven’t asked about as a part-timer. What stuff depends on the role, but you might think about what difference the full-time role means to the unit in any case, and you can certainly bring in any knowledge you have about what’s happening in the unit (“Will this role be involved with the planned restructuring of Admissions?”). A small detail I’ll note–I would avoid too much shortcut use of people’s names without the relevant work when you’re talking about what you’ve done or would do–in other words, not “and of course I’ve been supporting Jane and Lucretia,” but “and of course I’ve been supporting Jane with the admissions materials and Lucretia with the space management.”

      1. fposte*

        When I say “I think there’s probably more slack cut if you don’t have questions,” I mean “more slack cut an internal candidate than an external candidate,” not that you need to keep your mouth shut. Sorry that came out confusingly!

    3. Cupcake*

      Remember to treat this interview with the gravity of any other interview. I once worked with someone who interviewed for a different position in our own department. She did not get the job, because she wore her usual (casual) work clothes, so the interviewers felt that she wasn’t taking it seriously. Good luck!

    4. Jennifer*

      In my experience, it was pretty much the same sort of thing except I was able to cite experience directly related to the job because I was already doing it.

  4. matcha123*

    Today was my last day of work until Jan. 5. Yay for Japanese long holidays!

    Since this is the last open thread of the year, did everyone accomplish what they wanted this year? Any plans for the new year (confront that one coworker about that thing? ask for a raise? change careers?)?

    Since I am somewhat proficient in HTML, my supervisor is allowing me to work on the English version of our department’s webpage. I can’t do a whole lot, but I hope that I can create something worthwhile and that shows my abilities.

    1. Mimmy*

      Great question!

      Not as much happened this year as I’d hoped. I was so certain that my work with either one of the two councils I sit on would lead to bigger opportunities. Council A was the county-level one, and I’d say I had more accomplishments with this one. The biggest one: breaking out of my comfort zone and accepting a Chair position for one of the subcommittees. I knew pretty much everyone on the committee, so that certainly helped. Council B, the state-level one….not so much :( (that’s the one I talked about a couple of weeks ago in an Open Thread). Getting appointment was pretty darn awesome, but it kinda went downhill from there. I really that this thing gets turned around in the new year.

      My other big accomplishment is getting into the graduate certificate program. The (online) class was tough at times, but I enjoyed the content and board discussions.

      No, none of these are directly employment-related, but my hope for 2015 is that a long-term career plan finally starts coming together. Breaking out of my shyness, however, will be the key.

    2. hermit crab*

      I agree, great question. My goal for this year is to get better at working at home/working remotely. I’ve just never gotten the hang of it, but I may need to move away and I think I’d rather stay with my company from a distance than find a different job in a new location. Besides, it’s the 21st century now!

      Enjoy the website work! I bet you will improve your skills a lot just from working on the project.

      1. catsAreCool*

        I work from home, and here are some things that might help:

        – have a room that is dedicated to working from home and nothing else
        – put a few mirrors up so that you can stretch your eyes by glancing at a nearby mirror and see it reflecting another mirror that is reflecting something else.
        – try to find a time to get up and stretch and walk – I walk a lot less when I telecommute. When I’m in the office, I might walk to someone’s desk, etc.
        – if you like noise when you’re working, it’s good to have a radio or something like that around. streaming music from your computer might slow your connection, so a radio might be better
        – try to keep regular hours so that you can feel like you’re “at work”.
        – on your work computer, try to only use the internet for work things – for one thing, your bosses could be monitoring
        – try to respond quickly to IM’s and reasonably quickly to e-mails. You want the people you work with to feel like you’re easy to get in touch with.

    3. soitgoes*

      I actually really did meet a lot of my goals!

      – Got a great job
      – Moved into an awesome little apartment
      – Got my finances in order

    4. Perpetua*

      My plan for 2015 is to be less afraid of trying new things – I’m the first in my role at my company (I graduated a year and a half ago and this is my first “real” job in that area), and I’m very risk-averse by nature, so my default modus operandi is to research everything, research some more and then kind of do nothing if I’m not perfectly confident that it will work, and I lack confidence in many things since I have so little actual experience. So, I’m planning to get out of my comfort zone some more, and be more action-oriented instead of just thinking about things. Wish me luck! :)

      I hope that next year we come back here and write about what a fine job we all did with the fulfilment of our plans. :D

      1. Elsajeni*

        I’m also hoping to widen my comfort zone this year! I’m in higher ed, in a staff position where I sometimes have to make requests of faculty, and I get terribly anxious about writing those emails and end up putting them off until the last minute. Which I’m sure doesn’t exactly endear me to the faculty members, and on top of that, it actually makes other parts of my job harder. So my work resolution for this year is to get more confident at dealing with faculty, and start getting those emails out early.

  5. WannaWork*

    Happy Holidays everyone! Is temping a way to get permanent employment anymore? I did some temping over 10 years ago, between jobs, a lot of places wanted to hire me, one did .. but I hear that has changed, even in large cities? Anyone have any recent experience or tips to share? Thanks in advance!

    1. Christy*

      I have a friend in Northern New Jersey who got a permanent job out of a temp job. She was in a long-term temp job for another company without ever going perm, so I think it really depends on who you’re temping for.

    2. some1*

      I have recent experience with this, and I would say it’s not as easy as it was 10 years ago, but it’s still very possible. Temp agencies have more candidates to place than positions to go around, so it took time to get my initial placement.

      As far as going perm, it totally depends on the company, so I’d stress that you are looking for temp-to-hire.

      1. AndersonDarling*

        Agreed, make sure the position is temp-to-hire. Then you know that the company has discussed “purchasing” the temp and is aware and prepared to cover those expenses.
        The temp agency I worked for said they vented their clients well and would only list positions as temp-to-hire if they really were temp-to-hire.

    3. INTP*

      I worked for a staffing agency and saw many people hired directly. Other companies or departments seemed to have a policy against making any temp permanent. It can happen but it’s not reliable that doing well at any temp job gets you a perm job.

      I think the main value of temp work is that the experience gained and the fact that you avoid a gap in your resume make you more eligible for direct hire jobs that you interview for in the future. It seems like some people don’t want temp jobs or to work with a temp agency unless it will get them a direct hire job. However, at an interview for that direct hire job they want, they might be passed over for someone who has been temping instead of unemployed for the past six months.

      1. some1*

        Absolutely. I would say I got an 80-90% response to my applications for permanent, full-time positions when I was temping, vs when I was just unemployed.

    4. Bea W*

      It can be, but you have to find that out before hand if there’s a change of it converting to perm. Some jobs are strictly temp, but others offer temp-to-hire. It’s something you can ask about in the interview / screening process.

  6. Ruth*

    How do I advise my manager against hiring a friend of mine? When a coworker is trying to recommend that friend!

    A year ago, someone (“Jane”) I knew through a mutual friend told me about a vacancy in the office she worked in and (with permission from the manager) gave me the manager’s email. She also mentioned my application to the manager and said she thought I’d be good etc etc. I applied and was hired. I now work with Jane, we became good friends, it all went well etc.

    Now, there is soon to be another vacancy and this friend wants to put forward another friend of hers (“Sarah”). Because it worked out well with me, and also because Jane is generally a great employee herself, I think our boss will take it very seriously if Jane recommends or says good things about Sarah. Jane has also urged me to say good things about Sarah.

    The problem is that while I like Sarah on a personal level I really (honestly) believe she will not be good to have at work. As well as thinking she’s generally unsuitable for the job, I honestly think she is quite lazy and also someone who requires a large amount of hand-holding etc. She’s also often overly dramatic and attention seeking and very very easily offended. I don’t mind hanging out with her with a group of friends. I don’t want her at work.

    I really don’t want to say good things about her to my boss, but I’m afraid Jane will be upset if I don’t. She will think it’s unfair of me, and in her mind, putting Sarah forward for this job now is the exact same situation as when she helped me last year. I could probably get away with saying nothing or being non-committal about it but I also don’t want to chance that our boss is swayed into hiring this person if she trusts things Jane says.

    And if I do speak to my manager, what do I even say? (“Don’t hire my friend, I think she’ll suck”? – ok, I know not to say it like that…)

    1. LoFlo*

      Well if you have a good manager she will either figure you during the interview that Sarah needs a lot of hand holding, or soon after she is hired. Why does Jane think Sarah would be good at the job? Maybe discussing this with Jane will help her realize what you see and reconsider.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      “I have never worked with Sarah, so I can’t speak to her abilities on the job.”

      You could tell Jane that you very rarely recommend people for a job, but you wish Sarah good luck.
      Personally, I am pretty picky about who I recommend. Additionally, the person has to be a good fit for the setting. It took me a while to get used to saying this, but now I have gotten used to saying it. If you chose this road, you might be glad in years to come that you can say this with confidence.

      Or you could ask Jane why she thinks Sarah is the right candidate for the job, if you think that would be a productive conversation.

      1. Ruth*

        Thank you for your reply Not So New Reader and from LoFlo. Unfortunately, I don’t think Jane wants to recommend her because she thinks she will necessarily be good. She wants to recommend her because she feels she wants to help a friend (she’s much closer friends with Sarah than I am). I’m sure she doesn’t think Sarah will actually be *bad* or she wouldn’t recommend her, but I would say she thinks more along the lines that Sarah will be at least ok and/or will learn, and feels the need/want to help her out.

        I might try going with “I have never worked with Sarah, so I can’t speak to her abilities on the job” as recommended above though I do feel I’d like to say more than that. I would like (if it’s possible) a way to tell my manager I actively don’t think Sarah should be hired (in a way that won’t seem petty and hopefully won’t upset Jane).

        I’m worried that Jane’s faith in Sarah will carry more weight because I was also recommended by Jane and they hired me (and it worked out), so following that, my boss might be more likely to be believe Sarah will be good too.

        However, the wording suggested by Not So New Reader might be a good way to not say something positive while also not upsetting Jane…

        1. fposte*

          I think you might be feeling overly responsible for Sarah (and for that matter, the hiring process) here. If they hire her, she’ll do okay or she won’t, but that’s not your problem unless you’re managing her. And presumably there’s still an interview component where they judge Sarah for themselves, just as they judged you. If you haven’t worked with her, I don’t know that I’d say a negative from personal life unless I could really be specific about something significant, like “She hasn’t paid me back for her part of our Mexican vacation.”

          It also sounds like this might be less about Sarah’s work skills than the fact that you’re not really psyched to have her company in your workplace. And I get that–there are definitely people I’d feel the same way about. But I think that you can create work rules for dealing with Sarah and keeping boundaries there, so that’s manageable, and it’s not the same question as whether you should disrecommend her for a job.

          1. fposte*

            Okay, listen to Alison, not me :-). But I still think that it’s worth considering how you’ll negotiate the relationship if she is hired.

    3. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I think you need to be explicit with your manager and not rely on her figuring it out from the absence of a glowing endorsement from you. Managers are too often swayed by recommendations in the situation you describe, and it sounds like there’s real danger of that happening here. So I’d be explicit, including about the fact that there are awkward dynamics involved in you doing so (so that she doesn’t repeat your input to Jane). For instance: “I feel awkward about this because Sarah is a friend and Jane clearly thinks she’d be a good fit, but I have real concerns about Sarah’s work ethic and ability to work well with others with a minimum of drama. I don’t want to cause tension with Jane so I’d appreciate it if you kept this between us, but I think it’s important that you hear another perspective on her.”

      Also, this is a situation where you really need to put work needs first. Hiring someone who’s a bad fit has the potential to make your work life miserable (to the point that you might not even want your own job, if it’s bad enough). If Jane is a reasonable person, she should be able to handle hearing that you have a different perspective on Sarah. And the fact that she helped you get hired doesn’t obligate you to support all future hires she recommends.

      1. soitgoes*

        This is a great response. There’s always a lot of pressure in social circles to help out people who need work, but a lot of those people inevitably flake out on their jobs, which reflects badly on the person who went out on a limb for them. We’ve all helped someone get a job, only to have that person stop showing up, which only damages OUR relationships and reputations.

      2. Ruth*

        Thank you Alison, I will try to speak to my boss about this in that way.

        Also fpost, thank you for your input. I agree it’s partly that I’m not really psyched to work with her but I do think this mostly stems from my belief that she’s going to be someone who will at least potentially create more work for other people [incl. me] and at most, cause drama etc in my workplace.

        I do have a few specific reasons that I feel how I do, based on her over-the-top reactions to things she’s been offended about (which most reasonable people would either shrug off or at least be a bit less dramatic over how they respond). Though I haven’t worked with her, I’ve been present when Jane has tried to help her with her CV or other job applications and witnessing that is what has led me to state in my initial post that I feel she requires a lot of hand holding etc. There was also a lot of soft-stepping around suggesting changes to the CV in the first place as she took the feedback quite personally.

        But yes, I do agree with fposte that I am probably feeling overly responsible for this process (to be clear, I officially have no part in the hiring process at all. It’s simply a matter of being asked by Jane to help her recommend someone). So I think I will try once discussing it with my boss and then try and leave it and see what happens.

        1. some1*

          Fwiw, those are concrete examples that make it sound like Sarah would make an unpleasant coworker and I don’t blame you for having concerns.

      3. INTP*

        I agree with this. If you say nothing or only completely neutral things, you will likely wind up with this girl as a coworker. I personally would rather have a friend mad at me for awhile than deal with an awful coworker for years. Your boss may also help you out with the awkwardness of the situation and say that they found someone with much better experience, so your friend does not suspect you of sabotaging her other friend.

    4. Revanche*

      I absolutely agree with Alison because from a hiring standpoint, if someone has recommended a friend who worked out to me before, then a second recommendation would carry a little bit more weight and I would much rather hear from someone that there were reasons to be concerned about specific weaknesses than not.
      While there are traits I wouldn’t care very much about in someone’s personal life, the point where they intersect with work life (reliability, an affinity for drama) is where I start caring about this kind of input – I’ve seen friends carry that into the workplace and then expect their friends to play into the cycle and “support” them, and so on. Definitely not the kind of environment I’d want to foster and I’d very much appreciate a heads up about that.

  7. louise*

    I hope this is sufficiently work related…

    What led you to Ask a Manager initially? If a specific quandary brought you here, has it been resolved? How long have you been a reader? Do you regularly participate in discussions? Who are some of your favorite commenters? In general, has this site changed how you approach your work life?

    I wish I could remember exactly what I searched for that led me here — definitely something about interview questions/interview prep in 2011. I had an interview for a job that was way out of my league and I was feeling really nervous. Didn’t get that job, but was told I was their second choice and the recruiter gave me some invaluable career development advice.

    Four years and four jobs (ugh) later, I’m finally in a position that fits: developing an HR dept at a formerly small business that wasn’t sure if they’d really gotten big enough to need an HR dept. They weren’t sure if they were going to hire anyone, let alone me, but during the interview process I drew on so much of what I’ve read here. It’s definitely shaped my workplace philosophy, and when I shared my big-picture workplace ideas, they seemed to like them and offered me the job! Six months later, I look forward to coming to work everyday and am regularly sharing what I’ve learned here with managers who never got any training or asked to become managers (so, um, they are lost and frequently making cringe-worthy mistakes). It is so nice to have such a rich resource of both Alison’s material and the amazing community of readers/commenters!

    1. danr*

      Easy… my company had been bought out and the new outfit was closing down the site. I knew I was going to be around until almost the bitter end so I went looking for resume help. It had been years since I needed to job search. I found AAM in a google search for ‘resume help’.

    2. LoFlo*

      I found this site searching on how to deal with a bad manager and toxic work environment. AAM did confirm that my manager was awful, but did guide me on how to approach the situation. I made the decision to live with the situation until I could retire in January 2015. Unfortunately, my manager fired me when I told him I was going to retire (it was common in my old company to announce retirements in advance).

      I followed interviewing advice here and landed a better job two months after I was fired (I start next month). I am looking to using the information from this blog to succeed in my now job and not be “that person”.

    3. ThursdaysGeek*

      I’ve been here a little over 2 years. I don’t recall what I was searching on, but I had just badly handled salary negotiations for my new job after being unemployed for 7 months. So, I found AAM about 8 months too late.

      This job was a $15K a year pay cut, and I’ve now been here long enough to start looking again. But it has also become a job that I enjoy, with people I like, and I’ve gotten a 4% raise 2 years in a row, and there is room to move up. I’m not actively looking, and I have AAM for advice if I change my mind.

    4. CheeryO*

      Interesting question! I think I found AAM about a year ago when I was in panic-mode about graduating and applying to jobs. I had no idea what to even write in a cover letter. This site has been amazingly helpful – I can’t believe how far I’ve come in the last year! I honestly wasn’t sure if I could handle the working world, but I’m here and doing a pretty good job of it.

    5. BRR*

      When I was fired I searched for either cover letter or job hunting advice. AAM popped up and I’ve been hooked ever since. I was partially fired due to poor management and hearing Alison write about bad management and the fact that she explained her reasoning really helped me get over it.

    6. Mimmy*

      I found this site in, I think, mid-2011 in looking for general career advice. I think I just stumbled upon here and just started reading. I eventually became comfortable enough to start posting. My participation comes and goes depending on my workload and the posts at the time–I definitely scaled back in the past couple of months due to school, but now have off until the end of January.

      I’m still not where I want to be career-wise, but I think I’m slowly starting to internalize some of the perspectives AAM and regular readers have. For example, I’m so happy to learn that it’s absolutely okay (and preferable!) to not use sales-y techniques in job searching. It’s hard to pinpoint anything else–it’s just a “feeling”, lol.

      Favorite commenters: Everyone is awesome, but I particularly enjoy Jamie (when she’s able to post!), Wakeens Teapots Ltd and fposte. I also really appreciate Not So New Reader’s responses to my posts in recent months.

    7. Aussie Teacher*

      My husband was applying for jobs in Sept 2011 and while looking up cover letter examples online, showed me an amusingly terrible cover letter. I looked for more and came across AAM. I spent hours in the archives that day (the You May Also Like… section at the bottom of each post kept sucking me in), and the next, and here I am 3 years later reading AAM daily (although rarely commenting due to time differences… I think I’m 12 hours different to AAM).
      I’m a SAHM and wasn’t planning to re-enter the workforce until much later, but all of the helpful posts on re-entering the workforce have been so useful in encouraging me to have a plan, keep my network active, consider going back sooner etc.
      I’m also hoping to go into management (Head of Department) at some point in the future, thanks to my 3 years of AAM-training, even though it terrifies me!

    8. Apollo Warbucks*

      I did a Google search looking for a cartoon I remembered seeing, and the first result was an article from this site, completely unconnected to what I was looking for but I ended up reading the article and I’ve been reading the site everyday ever since.

    9. Relosa*

      I think I was looking for resume assistance, specifically for graduating seniors/new grads. I’m pretty sure.

      1. Dr. Doll*

        I came here exactly the same way, fposte! I read EHRL and one day clicked on the first link on her blogroll, Ask a Manager, and was instantly addicted. I believe I had already started managing, though.

        1. periwinkle*

          *raises hand* Me too. I was in HR, started reading some interesting blogs, followed their links to other interesting blogs such as EHRL, and wound up here. That was a worthwhile click-through!

      2. Mallory Janis Ian*

        Me too; I’ve been a longtime reader of Evil HR Lady, and I found AAM from a link from her site.

      3. Colette*

        I think that’s how I got here, too, although I can’t remember how I got there. I don’t remember how long ago that was – I was sitting in the same desk (although I’ve gone through three jobs and three companies since then), so somewhere around 2010/2011. I know I took a long time to start commenting.

    10. DebbieDebbieDebbie*

      Great question/topic! I believe ‘toxic coworker’ was what I Googled to lead me to AAM. Or was it ‘ineffective manager’ … For what it is worth, the toxicity and lack of effective management remain but I no longer spend my non-work time searching for solutions to these problems thanks to the perspective I have gained from Alison and this community of commenters.

    11. Elizabeth West*

      Oh wow, I don’t remember….I think it might have been before I got laid off from Exjob, when I started searching. I’m pretty sure I found this site through Evil HR Lady, Suzanne Lucas.

    12. azvlr*

      I was looking for advice on navigating the interview process. I had a series of interviews (five total over a month and a half) for one job and the waiting game was agonizing. I was juggling two different “almost” offers and had to let one of them go without an offer from the other company because they had an immediate need and I couldn’t keep them hanging. Advice I found here kept me from turning into a psycho, clingy girlfriend type of candidate. I was able to refrain from calling to ask them to “move our relationship to the next level”, so to speak. I avoided many pitfalls thanks to AAM advice and feel I was a stronger job candidate and now a better employee because of it.

    13. Not So NewReader*

      I was googling for job advice. AAM came up on a few separate occasions. I like the way the advice here read. It made sense. Unlike other advice, that reads “must put yourself out there and do embarrassing things repeatedly”, Alison’s advice was logical and doable. I could see myself doing the actions Alison laid out here. Forget those other people who insist that you have to do circus acts, take out a full page ad and so on.

      I think the thing that got me was that she was doing this for free AND people were spending huge amounts of time reading and commenting. I was impressed that I did not have to set up an account and log in every. single. time.
      I read for a bit, before I first commented. The next thing I knew I looked up and it was years later. Time flies. I have learned a lot here and I truly believe I learned more here than I did in college.

      1. Mallory Janis Ian*

        Yes, the advice is always stuff that I can my actual self (as opposed to some idealized version of myself) doing in my real, actual life (as opposed to advice geared to some idealized, “how-things-should-be “scenario. I also love it that Alison and the readers, whenever a commenter veers into “this is how an ideal world should work” territory, always remind us that this advice is for real life, which isn’t always ideal.

    14. Jen RO*

      Someone recommended the site in The Hairpin’s comments section – I think it was in the context of advice columns. I didn’t have any particular job-related questions, but I am glad I stayed!

    15. Cari*

      I was applying to a position much higher level than where I am now, and wanted to set myself apart from the pack. Like so many other readers, I was hooked. I’m still in the same position (I’m in a competitive field, though, so I’m grateful for the position I have) and I’ve gotten to second place for two positions in that higher level arena. AAM has also helped me through a lot of tough times at this job. Great question.

    16. Ask a Manager* Post author

      These answers are fascinating to me. My family was asking me yesterday what the secret of the site’s success is, and also how I’m able to keep things interesting — someone asked, “don’t you find yourself covering the same topics over and over?” (As an answer to that, I cited the post earlier this year about the manager who wanted to approve people’s underwear purchases, to illustrate how I’m continually surprised by what topics come up — although I think this relative’s point might be that even that falls under a broad category of “bad managers,” and we must recycle those same categories over and over again, which I suppose is true.)

      1. ThursdaysGeek*

        To quote Tolstoy: ‘All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.’ Each bad manager and company manages to be bad in a unique way, from forbidding workers access to water, to having an interview process include providing dinner and entertainment at an unknown location. We come for the advice on what to do when we’re waiting on a reply after an interview, we stay for the commenting, the craziness, and the all-around good advice.

        1. fposte*

          There are only four nucleobases in DNA and you get a heck of a lot of variety in living organisms nonetheless.

    17. Carrie in Scotland*

      I can’t remember, I’ve been reading for years…I think about 5 in total, maybe a bit less. I was looking for reasons to give for leaving my job, when the reason I’d left my job was because of (very) personal reasons. I remember emailing Alison and her replying to it via email rather than as a post. I’ve been a fanatic reader ever since!

    18. Bea W*

      I was either googling something or ran across an post shared on FB. I don’t remember which…although I suspect it was related to when I was stuck in a toxic environment and looking for advice related to that. That’s about the time I stumbled in AAM.

    19. littlemoose*

      I really don’t remember how I got here, but I think it was via a link from Consumerist or some other blog. I’ve been reading since approx late 2010 to early 2011. My only regret is that I found this site after I finally found a job (after 18 months of serious underemployment). But I’ve still learned a ton about work and managing, and I adore the community here as well.

      1. Schuyler*

        This is me too… I’m pretty sure that I was lead to the site via Consumerist, as I used to check that site regularly. (If it wasn’t consumerist, it was another website.) I’ve probably been following AAM for 3-5 years now. I’ve mentioned this site to others, including a couple students who worked for us who were master’s students in IO psychology, but another part of me wants to keep it to myself so I can be honest about work-related stuff without someone figuring out it’s me!

        I do think that this site will help me to be a better supervisor if/when I become one. Working under supervisors, I’ve noted some things that I want to avoid when I’m in that position, but I never really know where to turn to learn to be a manager. Seriously, why don’t orgs offer these kind of professional development opportunities??

    20. LV Ladybug*

      I always like to read those articles on MSN like “5 words to keep off your resume” I read them to help me do my job better. One day while clicking through some of those, I saw that an article was written by Alison and she writes the popular AAM Blog. I clicked on it and now I read it everyday.

    21. Sunflower*

      I can’t remember exactly what I searched but I definitely found it from searching a strange work question that had not been answered anywhere else. Another question/google search later and the same thing happened! It’s funny i can’t remember what it was but I was shocked this was the only place I found these answers to what I thought was a somewhat common question. I was obviously intrigued and drawn in since.

    22. Jean*

      I can’t recall precisely which magic panel on the Internet turned into a doorway to AAM. (Not quite as vivid as the Narnia fur-coats-into-fir-trees transformation, but the same sense of stepping into another realm!) I think I was searching for resources to get me over the hump of a horrible job search. Once I got to know the site, I began sharing the news with other job seekers IRL.

      Some highly unscientific observations re cyberspace connections among web sites: I’ve posted and read referrals to AAM in the comments at C o r p o r e t t e (dot) c o m. I have also read recommendations for AAM in the comments at c a p h i l l s t y l e (dot) com.

      IMHO and IME the three best sites for thoughtful, 99% noncombative comments are the New York Times, AAM, and Corporette. (The comments at Caphillstyle are both fewer in number and somewhat blander in content. People generally express appreciation or agreement without further extending the discussion.) I have not yet seen AAM referenced in the NYTimes. Perhaps it’s happened and I missed it!

    23. Megan*

      I think I had been searching for either ‘how to deal with a coworker who is the worst’ or ‘how to negotiate salary/benefits’. Let’s just say that I really should have taken Alison’s advice to heart!

    24. Lizzy*

      I was in one of those strange moods one night and went about Googling “job interview horror stories” and “my job offer was rescinded” and eventually found myself here. I have stayed ever since.

    25. voluptuousfire*

      Mine was simple: I was laid off in June of 2011 and I had absolutely no idea how to go about interviewing since I had been out of the job market for 5 years. I figured there had to be blogs and advice out there and I googled “job search blog” or something like that and Ask a Manager came up. Her advice has been invaluable and I read this site every day.

    26. WednesdaysMisfit*

      Oddly enough, about a year ago I Googled “how to get out of your company’s holiday party” and AAM popped up in the search results. I’ve been hooked ever since. :)

    27. Lulubell*

      I don’t remember exactly how I found this blog, but I do remember that it was late 2011, and that I lost a Saturday devouring the entire archives. I’ve been a daily reader (thanks, Feedly) ever since. I definitely feel like I’ve internalized so much of the advice, or should I say, mindset, and that I definitely believe helped me land my most recent job. I’m sure it’s also made me a better manager. As someone who has been in the workforce for 15-20 years, I only wish this had been around when I had just graduated college. I would have been a better, more confident employee throughout the many stages of my career.

    28. AnotherFed*

      Interestingly, I found AAM from the opposite side of job interviews – my supervisor had handed off the hiring for our group to me. I had done a grand total of one interview at that point, and was looking for help on how to set up and conduct interviews. There’s tons of websites that talk about how to prepare for interviews when you are the one seeking the job, but very few places that give any guidance on how to figure out who you should hire! I stayed once I had hired a few people and then had to handle the day-to-day leadership, tasking, and feedback for them. This site has been a huge help in learning to manage up and down, and generally do a better job of dealing with coworkers who are unintentionally irritating or disruptive.

    29. Glor*

      I found my way here through Captain Awkward on… some post about work something or other. At the time, it was just one of those “ooh, something interesting to read when I have time!” things, but as time passed and I had to deal with job searching, resumes, getting fired [oops], and so on and so forth, the advice became more and more relevant to my situations. At this point, I read daily, or almost-daily, even if the specific letters aren’t related to my issues — because I feel it’s helped me gain a better all-around understanding of healthy workplaces.

      The biggest and most important thing I’ve gotten out of here is how to write a good cover letter. I’ve actually gotten complements on some of my letters at this point, which is pretty darn cool.

    30. A Teacher*

      A little late, but about 3 years ago after teaching dual credit health career courses for a year at a high school. I now use examples from here in my career courses AND in the sociology class I teach. As I posted before, I even used two posts on the final for one of the dual credit courses. I found this site by googling “manager or workplace blog” or something like that. So officially Alison Green (and all of you) are a part of my curriculum.

    31. Fish Microwaver*

      I was lead to this site after typing “why is my boss such a jerk?” into Google. And I’m glad I did because I have learned so much from AAM and the fantastic readers here.

    32. Elkay*

      I’d quit my job towards the end of 2012 because I was so unhappy. I was looking for interview tips and someone on Etiquette Hell had mentioned this site. I’ve been here ever since. I used all the things I’d learnt on here when I applied for my last two jobs. The post that had the biggest impact on my job hunting was the awesome cover letter example posted around that time. I find I’m always learning new things too, like it had never occurred to me to give a salary range before, I’d always just given the minimum I wanted to earn. I had the confidence to negotiate salary when I got a job offer too (I start in the new year).

      I also find the cultural differences interesting too as I’m not in the US.

    33. StillHealing*

      March 2013 I think, is when I started reading AAM. I googled something like “how to deal with a co-worker stalking you” and an AAM thread popped up in the results. I thought there were some valuable questions and answers in the other archives too – so I started reading through them…..and now I rarely miss a day of new posts.

      Reading AAM has helped me prepare to return back to work after becoming disabled by workplace stress. (PTSD, Autoimmune diseases,etc.) Now, I know I’m not the only one who has had to deal with obnoxiously toxic people and workplaces.

  8. CollegeAdmin*

    How do you dress for an internal interview? My workplace is business casual, with more of an emphasis on the casual than on the business – it’s academia. Should I still go for a suit, as I did when I interviewed for my current job, or stick with something more in line to the day-to-day?

    (Alison, can I make a suggestion of tagging posts about internal interviews? I’m using the search box, but I was surprised to find it wasn’t already a category label.)

    1. matcha123*

      I think that unless the place is promoting an extremely casual workplace, I would wear a suit to the interview.
      Even places that could seem casual might expect a suit for the interview.

      If you’re not sure, I think you could email or call and ask if they have a preferred interview style?
      Because, you can dress down after you actually get the job.

      1. SC in SC*

        Matcha123….I think you missed that this was an internal interview. Wear what you would normally wear to work, maybe a half-step up. Anything beyond that would seem odd. Good luck on the interview.

        1. NotMyName*

          I think there’s no downside to the suit – which is probably what external candidates will wear. Anyone who knows her, will know that she’s not “stuck up” or “overly formal” as they see her every day. Anyone who doesn’t know her will see that she’s taking the process as seriously as everyone else.

        2. scw*

          I disagree. I think internal candidates should dress up similar to external ones, to show they are taking it seriously. Frequently internal applicants treat jobs as “given” and don’t dress up or prepare as much as they could–particularly at my work. Dressing up and preparing as much as you would for an external interview (though the preparation would be different) shows you take it seriously.

          1. Olivia Pope*

            Also erring on the formal side may make you “feel” like you are on an interview. Some advice I read a while back indicated if you have a phone interview you should dress up for it, your tone and voice will reflect, as I am sure body language would in this situation. I vote suit.

    2. hermit crab*

      Where I work, we wouldn’t go for a full suit in that situation, but more like there’s important meeting or presentation happening — just a step or two above the everyday. We’re not in academia but it sounds like a similarly casual-professional environment. Good luck!

    3. Apollo Warbucks*

      last time I had an internal interview was 10 years ago and I went in jeans and a hoody. The manager interviewing me was not someone I knew well but we’d spoken a few times, after we got through the interview he asked why I was dressed like that, I said it was Friday and the whole office was dressed down and it just didn’t occur to me that I should suit up, he said well it’s something to think about for another time, you want to make the right impression. It wasn’t held against me as I got offered the job. I did feel a bit foolish but I was young and didn’t know better.

      If I were you I’d dress slightly more formally then you would need to for the job.

    4. WannaWork*

      I would always dress up, less chance it would be seen as inappropriate. Meaning if you dress casual, even if that’s the norm in your workplace, someone could find that unappealing. A suit shows you’re taking this seriously and I have never heard anyone say anything negative about wearing a suit to an interview.

      Working in Finance we had an internal candidate come for an interview in courderoy overalls. We were business casual there and it was OK in the accounting department but it was a laugh to many people on our floor. She wasn’t hired. Good luck!

    5. WannaWork*

      If you do think a suit is too much a blazer and a more professional look can still get the message across, that you care enough to be presentable without going all out. An effort to be polished is always a good thing, IME :)

    6. Zillah*

      Hmm. I think it depends. If the internal position is in your department/a department you work closely with, I’d dress a little more formally than you usually do, but not to the level of the suit. However, if it’s an internal position outside of your department/with people you don’t work with much, I’d wear the suit.

    7. Dress Up*

      I interviewed for an internal promotion for a different department. I got the job, and a few of my co-workers (who had been on the interview panel) told me that the fact that I wore a suit and treated it like a “real” interview made a huge impression. I think it shows respect for the position/process.

    8. Jen RO*

      I would no go for a suit. My workplace is also casual and, while a suit would not put you out of the running, it would look odd. Personally, I would go with a step up from my regular clothes. I usually wear jeans and tshirts; to interviews, I wear a pair of nice pants or a skirt, a fancier top, and a cardigan/blazer.
      (Ok, I did wear jeans to an interview once… and I got the job.)

    9. Zed*

      I work in an academic library, and I would expect all candidates – internal or not – to wear a suit.

    10. GOG11*

      I work in academia and interviewed for my current role while working there (so it was an internal interview). I wore a suit and it was well received and seemed appropriate.

  9. hermit crab*

    How do I help my friend? We graduated from the same college program and worked together for a few years after that, then I stayed at the same company while he went to grad school. Now he’s struggling to get a post-grad school job and it’s so frustrating to me because he’s probably the smartest and most hard-working person I know. He has a sort of unconventional personality/presentation — it’s not like he’s unprofessional, but I can see how employers might worry about fit in an interview, though we’re not in a formal field at all. Is there anything that a former coworker can do in this position, or do I just keep trying to be a supportive friend? I’m upset because these employers are missing out and I feel like I’m the only one who knows it.

    1. fposte*

      I think mostly you just stay supportive, but there might be other possibilities. Is he getting interviews? If not, then it’s not his presentation that’s the problem. If he is, you might offer to do some mock interviews with him, if he’d like. And if he wouldn’t like, then let it go and say “Yeah, job-hunting sucks,” and cover his drink.

      1. hermit crab*

        Wow, thanks, I feel famous getting an official fposte response! :) He definitely gets interviews. For the most recent position, he made it through several rounds of remote interviews and then, after flying him like 2500 miles for the final-in person meeting, the prospective employer just decided to not hire anyone and re-posted the job. Have you ever done a practice interview with a friend/do you have any tips? I’m naturally a sort of mousy, milquetoast kind of person and most of the time I want to be more like him, not the other way around.

        1. fposte*

          Might be good experience for you then, too :-). I haven’t done practice interviews, so I hope anybody who has will chime in, but here’s what I’d think about doing. Use questions that he said he’s gotten and a few more that you grab from AAM or your own fertile brain, let some of them be long and even complicated, and do ask followup questions. Imagine that you don’t know and love your friend and are seeing him for the first time. Then think about identifying one or two specific things–if you see them, of course–to give feedback on. I also think this is a situation where it’s totally okay to say “Let me have fifteen minutes to marshal my thoughts before I give you feedback–go get coffee and come back.”

          It’s also possible it’s not his presentation–if he made it through several remote interviews, he can’t be that bad at presenting himself–and that he’s just in a really competitive market. Unless by “presentation” you meant hygiene or something, in which case a practice interview might be overkill as a response.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            Added thought- record the interview. Give it to him to take home and review by himself.
            If he reciprocates and does a fake interview for you to practice, review your practice interview by yourself.

            Everyone knows to make note of the parts that were not so hot.
            But put the time in to figure out where you think you did well. And make notes of that, too.
            Tricky part: Go by what you see on screen when you replay it. Do not go by recollecting how you felt in the moment. Go by what you actually see on the replay.

          2. Christian Troy*

            Yeah, I’m less inclined to think it’s his presentation and more inclined to go with competitive market. Unfortunately I finished grad school and run into the same issues with employers who are not desperate to fill a position and go on a lot of “fishing expeditions” so to speak.

    2. BRR*

      Do you have a network that could help him? “I have a former coworker who is looking for a chocolate teapot maker position. He was a great because of a,b, and c and only left to attend grad school.” Something like that.

    3. soitgoes*

      The grad school angle can be rough; you’re seeing firsthand how having an advanced degree can hurt you when you thought it would put you at the front of the line. Employers always think, “Oh, this person is going to find something better and leave this company,” even though those better jobs exist right now. I’d suggest downplaying any expectations of seniority or higher salary based on degree level. Easier said than done, but it’s good to have some responses ready for questions like, “You have a master’s degree. Do you plan on leaving this industry to teach? How come you want this entry-level job?”

    4. hermit crab*

      Update: My friend forwarded me the recent rejection email. It’s surprisingly direct and essentially says “We don’t think you acted formally enough. Try to be more formal in the future.” In all fairness, the meeting/interview did take place in a coffee shop, and we work in a pretty laid-back field, but I guess my friend went into it assuming it was more of a “this is a get to know you”-type meeting rather than an interview-type meeting. I guess that’s a lesson to keep in mind for the future.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        So what’s your friend’s reaction to the feedback? It could be that he’s figuring out what he needs to do differently and doesn’t actually need much help (or if he does need help, it’s more targeted than what friends are often in a position to do).

        1. hermit crab*

          He asked for my advice about whether he should send more of a response other than thanking them (which he’s already done). Personally, I think he should let it go and take it as a lesson learned. It’s been a long job search and, while this position does sound perfect for him on paper, I think he’s fallen into the “dream job” trap a little bit with it. Then again, that’s probably not what you want to hear from your friends at this point in the process.

          p.s. First fposte, now Alison! I should post questions on slow days more often! Thanks! :)

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Yeah, I think your advice to him is right. And if you think he’s not extrapolating here in the way he should (i.e., thinking, “hey, maybe it’s my vibe/presentation that I need to work on”), you could be pretty direct about that — like, “You know, you’re awesome to work with but you definitely have a more informal/laid-back vibe, and I can imagine that being an obstacle in interviews with people who don’t know you. Have you thought about focusing on that side of things and seeing if it gets you different results?”

  10. BL*

    Next Friday (1/2) is my last day at my current position. I gave just over a month of notice and have been training a co-worker on my responsibilities so he can take them over once I leave. I have started making a list of things all the little things not to forget to do (return company credit card and parking pass, turn on out of office email, etc.) on my last day. What did you wish you had remembered to do before you left?

    My new position will be in the same field but in a very different industry. I currently work for facility engineering in a large retail company and my new position will be in facility engineering at a university. In the past, I did similar work at k-12 school districts. What will be similar and different in this new environment? Anything particular that is good to know about working at a university?

    1. some1*

      Before you leave, get contact information for any coworkers who might be useful for references or networking. Contact payroll or HR to get your starting pay rate if you don’t still have your check stubs, so you have it for future applications. Save the phone numbers for your payroll, HR, and benefits department, as well as the numbers for any benefits carrier like your insurance and 401(k) provider so you don’t have to search for those numbers if you need them later.

      1. NYCRedhead*

        2nd this for HR contacts. Because you will be working there in 2015 (even if only 1 day), you may get a 1099 from them in 2016. You will need to keep them apprised of any address changes as well. (Frankly, if it were me, I’d make 12/31 my last day just to avoid it.) Good luck with the new position!

        1. BL*

          Working one day in 2015 is a little inconvenient but I am doing it because of insurance. Working on January 2 let’s me keep my insurance through the end of the month and my new insurance starts February 1.

    2. Elizabeth*

      Make sure someone can get into all accounts that the office may need to see — like your computer, any software you use as part of your job, computer services you use, etc. Change passwords to something that you don’t care about others knowing about before sharing (not a bad password, but one that doesn’t reflect your personal pattern for setting passwords). When I worked as an office admin, this was the number one problem I saw our office IT person deal with — someone would leave, and forget about the critical email they had just gotten, and no one could get into their email to retrieve it. This is not as much of a problem if you have a good IT department — the IT department there pretty much said it wasn’t their problem to deal with.

    3. AnotherFed*

      Leave any information for work in progress in a folder that the rest of your team has access to (paper, if that’s all that works), and take the time to go through it with them so they know exactly what is there, where it is, and what isn’t there/still needs to be done. I got calls from my last job for months after I left… all looking for things I had left neatly filed in the relevant folders, but team members didn’t even remember the folders existed or had lost the email giving them the location.

      Also make sure you check all your drawings back into whatever your CM tool is. We had one guy leave with half a dozen drawings checked out to himself, which no one could then modify.

  11. Christy*

    This is the first time I’ve taken December 26 off–it always seemed like having such a chill day making money would be so great.

    I was wrong–sleeping in after a busy Christmas and having nothing to do is FAR superior.

    And thanks, AAM, for posting today and yesterday.

    1. Elizabeth West*

      I’m at work. Bleah!

      Oh well. My dad is coming by soon with my Christmas presents–I thought I would get them tomorrow. And I got to park up front today, and it’s REALLY quiet in here. Win!

      1. KJR*

        I am at work too today. Quietest day ever! BUT…I did get a ton of stuff done. Hoping to leave in an hour or two. We traded off — half the company is working today, the other half on 1/2. So I’m off on 1/2.

  12. Brett*

    I didn’t get an interview at the non-profit I was asked to apply to. But I know they hired a super qualified full stack developer, so I am pretty certain they interviewed only him.
    Startup I work for part time still not in a position to hire me, but I will start getting equity next year it looks like. Hoping that things continue to look up there. They are giving me tons of formal training now too. Hopefully main work goes to ten hour days soon, so I can work my off weekday at the startup.

    1. fposte*

      I’m sorry you didn’t get the nonprofit, Brett, but I like the sound of the increasing external possibilities–it’s definitely time for those for you.

  13. Steve G*

    Just wanted to share my good news. I was laid off due to a takeover of my company and I got a job offer on Tuesday, and it is in the same very small industry (plus #1), same pay (which was already really good, so plus #2), and within commuting distance (in small industry, that was a huge plus, #3).

    For other people I think it is important to note that this job was never advertised. They called me months ago about a job and I just went out on a limb and called them recently to ask if they had any other openings and interviewed for another job that wasn’t the one I got.

    The reason I went out on a limb? A recruiter stood me up for a phone interview for another job I would have been a perfect fit for and then went AWOL. I was livid. If I was in a standard profession (nurse/accountant/secretary) where a lot of people do that profession, I can kind of understand them standing me up. But my industry is very small. I guarantee you I will run into these people again. I have absolutely no skeletons in my closet that those people could have learned about that would have caused them to cancel the interview. But at the end of the day, something good came out of that bad day!

  14. Aussie Teacher*

    As mentioned upthread, I’m hoping to one day move up to Head of Department, which would involve a lot of management in my subject area (Music). At my last school, the Head of Music oversaw 4 teachers, 2 admin assistants and about 40 instrumental tutors, as well as a lot of dealing with parents (the usual teacher stuff, plus all the parents angry that their special (and possibly tone-deaf) snowflake didn’t get into the top choir because “I KNOW she sings like an angel.” etc).

    I know you can practice and learn about being a good manager. I know you can role-play difficult conversations. My question is – can you overcome physical responses to conflict, and/or will they go away with practice? My two issues:
    1. If I’m very nervous or upset or tense, my whole body quivers slightly. If I reach out a hand for something I can see it vibrating, and I can sometimes feel my face quivering. It’s a bit off-putting for me and I’m unsure how noticeable it is.
    2. When I feel emotional (angry/sad/touched/happy) my eyes fill with tears. If I give someone a sincere compliment and they are touched by it, I’ll tear up. It’s embarrassing and I worry if I can’t overcome it I’ll be seen as unprofessional. I work in the private sector and appearances are important!

    1. fposte*

      Repetition will help some with that, but you might also want to consider some Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to give yourself some redirection methods. You might have a look at the Moodgym site–it’s more focused on depression and anxiety, I believe, but it’s free and might have some useful techniques that could be applied to your situation as well.

      (I also suspect the tremor isn’t all that externally noticeable, judging by my own experience with the odd twitch and quiver.)

      1. Aussie Teacher*

        Thank you fposte! I will check it out! And I hope you’re right about it not being noticeable – when it happens, it’s usually an adversarial situation where I’m obviously not comfortable asking the other person if they can see it!

    2. soitgoes*

      I studied music in university, and it’s a field that is definitely super permissive when it comes to displays of emotion and quirkiness, especially in academia. That said, music students definitely require a lot of commentary and praise, so I’d suggest starting your practice now. Throw around deserved compliments whenever you can.

      1. Gene*

        The key words in the response from soitgoes, “deserved compliments”. (emphasis added)

        Most of the special snowflakes are as they are because they’ve been praised for everything from their first full diaper to their undeserved (in Mom’s eyes) failing grades.

        1. Aussie Teacher*

          Oh yes, I’m not worried about appearing quirky in front of the kids – if I’m talking to the choir about the emotion behind a song and I get teary, they think “Oh, that’s just the way Mrs Aussie Teacher is.” and they are used to it. It’s more dealing with wealthy parents and upper levels of management, where tearing up would be seen as unprofessional/immature/inappropriate.
          And definitely yes to the deserved praise, Gene! I do praise effort as well as ability, especially for younger students, but I differentiate between the two! Unfortunately we get a lot of entitled students & parents and there is a fair bit of fall-out each year after the auditions for the high-level ensembles. (We do it entirely on merit, so if a Year 11 cellist thinks she will get the leader’s position in Year 12, and a Year 8 comes along who auditions better, we give the leader’s spot to the Year 8 and the parents of the Year 11 are not happy!)

  15. Guy Incognito*

    So now Christmas is over does anyone have any horry stories from the office parties?

    I caught up with some old colleagues the other week and found out someone I used to work for had got the sack for punching one of the partners and breaking his nose, punching anyone isn’t a good move but punching one of the business owners is really dumb.

    1. BRR*

      Mine wasn’t too bad. We had karaoke (voluntary and no awards for worst singing). I just find the amount of liquor to enjoy karaoke and the amount of liquor it’s appropriate to consume at a work function don’t match.

    2. Elizabeth West*

      We didn’t have one! :(

      We did have food on Wednesday though; some of us brought in snacks. So that wasn’t too bad. And there are desserts in the break room today, though I’m avoiding them like the plague because I’ve been eating way too many cookies this past week.

    3. fposte*

      Was this at the actual holiday party? There was an AAM OP who punched somebody at the holiday party a few years back–is this a thing? Don’t punch people, people.

    4. ThursdaysGeek*

      Ours was pretty calm and typical in my experience. Alcohol was there, no-one took too much. We were each given 3 tickets to put in for various gifts, and there were about a dozen nice ones. One manager one a gift, then another, and he also then won the big gift of the night, which everyone was eligible for. It would have been nice if he’d had to choose just one, and left the others for someone else to win. But the dinner was very good, and I like my co-workers, so it was a decent evening.

      1. Someone Else*

        This is awful, in our drawings like thias managers are not eligible to win, as they already make enough money to buy the items themselves.

    5. Liane*

      Warning: Grossness Below.

      This one is courtesy of a very good friend. Not sure if it was an actual party or a simple Holiday Munchies Day at his job, but people brought in food. He made his specialty of People Chow (mix of Chex cereal, peanut butter, confectioner’s sugar, chocolate). He told me, with a lot of understandable disgust, that the People Chow & some other dishes had to be discarded–because they were spat into. Yes, as in saliva. Deliberately, it seems.

  16. venting, ugh*

    Just coming in here to vent that it sucks I can’t get service survival jobs (“overqualified!”) that I desperately need and then obviously haven’t yet heard from professional jobs because they’re all on vacation. Temp agencies turned their noses at me and then I still have to go back into their stupid office to complete the assessments because no matter what I do they won’t work on my computer.

    Sorry, I’m a Scrooge this year :(

          1. venting no more*

            Yeah! It was for a crappy survival job but I was called in because my resume was so interesting. So I’ll be doing both on the floor service work but helping the business owner with the admin management as well.

          1. venting no more*

            indeed! Plus I reunited with my old best friend whom I hadn’t spoken to in a couple of years, found out we live within walking distance of each other, had a great night catching up AND I get to see my dog in a few days. Win/win/win!

  17. azvlr*

    I keep having to ask for work from my manager and team. I have sent at least 10 emails in the past 6 months requesting work (both because I am rather bored, and to cover my bases in case they ask why I am spending time “traveling” on Google maps or looking at houses for sale.) I have asked my team to send me projects and have even taken the initiative where I can to improve processes or my own workflow. Unfortunately, I don’t have access to some of the information I would need to take a major project and run with it.

    On my performance eval, I got the sense that my manager was disappointed in my level of involvement, but I am utterly unclear as to what specifically I should be doing differently. I brought this point up with my mentor, who told me that since our new project is still in its planning stages, there isn’t anything specific for me to do yet.

    I am remote employee, and I am beginning to feel like an unwelcome part of the team. In almost the same breath, I am told a)take more initiative b)no, we don’t do things like that around here c)stop asking questions and figure it out on your own. This last is to the point where I will spend hours trying to figure it out rather than dare to ask my team, and when I do ask I find out it is not something I could have possibly known about in the first place.

    Everything else about this job is unbelievably ideal, so I don’t want to rock the boat. I’m good at what I do, for once in my life, and really want to thrive in this job. Mostly just venting, but I would really appreciate any advice for how to improve this situation. Thanks!

    1. AnotherFed*

      How remote are you? In some cases, it’s hard for your teammates to know/remember what you should and should not know already and whether you have enough work to do if you have always been a remote worker. If it’s possible, it might be worth trying to come into the office occasionally – it’s amazing what you will pick up in terms of process information just by being next to Bob, Lisa, and Wakeen while they do the processes in question.

      If visiting the office isn’t possible, consider asking to see an example project from one of your coworkers. Based on that, you can ask more specific questions about what was done, how the team arrived at the results they did, and what they would do differently or repeat on the next project. That way, even though you weren’t part of the project, when you get project opportunities, you will have a better idea of how the team you are working with operates – including the steps you just have to do (even though do not appear to make any sense) because that’s the way this team likes it.

      Not getting good feedback on questions is pretty concerning, though – that makes it hard to do your job. If you feel like your questions are not being well received, think about how often you ask them and how well you construct the email. Are you asking “How do I do the second step on my project?” instead of “Who should I contact to get the financial data on chocolate teapot production in order to construct the quote for Vendor XYZ?” This is obviously an extreme example, but I know for a fact that specific questions emailed to me get answered a lot faster than if I have to try to guess what project the question is even about. If your questions are fine, see if reserving a meeting time once a week for questions (or on whatever schedule makes sense for your work) and having a dedicated meeting for answering whatever questions you have will help.

      Finally, being both new (it sounds like you’ve been there less than a year) and remote means that process improvement ideas may not win you many friends. If your teammates don’t feel you have a good handle on why things are done the way they currently are, it’s worth being careful about trying to improve processes.

      1. azvlr*

        Thanks for your reply. I feel I should clarify a few points. Sadly, we are coasts apart and there is no budget for me to visit the site. I have never met anyone on my team, although I do work near others who do a similar function for other departments. Our little corner of the office feels like a team in that sense. :-)

        We are starting on an entirely new project, and it is still in the planning phase. I am in no position in terms of project management experience or familiarity with client’s needs to take the bull by the horns, which is what I heard my manager wanted me doing during my review. Nor have I been exposed to all of the steps in a complete project cycle yet (I’ve basically just been doing work that is no longer needed).

        Since I started in early summer, I have revised my communication style to include referencing specific emails (times, dates, quotes, etc.) I spend an enormous amount of time researching my questions and articulate the steps I went through to find the information. To your point about the level of questions I’m asking – they are very nitty-gritty type of questions – There is a lot of pressure to send extremely high quality material to our clients, so my questions are, “I see we handled it this way for this specific situation. This is a similar situation, but different. How should I proceed?” My manager told me to make decisions about my work and own them. I would love to do just that. However, people on my team will sometimes go back and tell me to change it. For instance, I was told to rename something small in the small project I was working on because the existing name was copyrighted. I chose an appropriate name, made the change and communicated what I did. The teammate emailed back and said, “How about This Title instead?”

        I they are bothered that at the questions I ask is they have not thought of the answers before. Yet, as I mentioned before, this work is all about the details. The upper-level manager who discovered me wants me to “breathe new life” (his words) into things. With that information running in my background, I have to wonder how much of this is really me. I meet once a week with my mentor to ask and answer questions. I should also note that the process improvement is for my own processes, not for the team.

        I usually a much more positive person than this and I take feedback very seriously. I feel as though I have already implemented most of what you said. I think I should try to push for meeting my team in person. A week spent with my team would probably do wonders. Thanks for your advice!

  18. cuppa*

    Lately, I’ve been overstressed, overtired, and overworked, and it’s started to affect my personal life. I’m coming to terms with the fact that I’m a highly sensitive person and a manager, and no matter how much I tell myself that I can’t take things personally, I struggle with it. It seems that I can rationalize the thoughts in my head but I still can’t change my feelings about it. I saw the EAP and the counselor told me that I need to find things to do for myself to recharge… and I’m finding it easier said than done. I tend to binge-watch TV in my downtime but I’m finding that it doesn’t reenergize me.
    Does anyone have any coping tips for HSP (especially managers), and what to you do to recharge?

    1. fposte*

      Huh, this makes me think the same thing I did for my last comment–cognitive behavioral therapy. Some tools to redirect yourself away from this thinking pattern are likely to be really helpful.

      The recharging thing is more crowdsourceable :-). My guess on binge-watching (projecting a lot here, I admit) is that it starts out relaxing and then the ROI drops as you get sucked into episode after episode, sort of like five potato chips are nice and 100 are gross. So can you trim it down and add other things? The old standards would be something physical (going for a walk is great) and something more overtly devoted to relaxation, like meditation/mindfulness or even just listening to music while you’re lying quietly–or heck, sorting mail or doing something else that’s not emotionally or conceptually taxing.

      1. louise*

        Oh dear. I almost snorted on my lunch picturing someone “lying quietly”…as in, fibbing with a soft librarian whisper. And now I have the giggles.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Echoing fposte, tv can be a depressant. If you are low it can pull you lower. The one thing it does provide is an escape from life issues. Sounds to me like anything that would give you a time out from thinking about work would be helpful, just a matter of doing something that has a good ROI.

      Start with sleep. Do you get enough? Likewise food and water. It’s really important to make sure the basics are in place first. Exercise is a good thing. But not if you are dehydrated or not eating properly.

      The next thing that I see here is that you are trying to rationalize with your emotions, which is what we are taught to do. So you are sitting there telling yourself that you should not take it personally what Bob said today and you have reasons 1 through 20 as to why. Yet, his words still sting and the sting does not go away.

      Emotions are not logical. And we tend to focus on “don’t act on your emotions”. But sitting home quietly, I believe we can take time to acknowledge and respect our emotions. There is nothing wrong with telling yourself, “Yeah, Bob’s words really stung today.Ouch. Yeah, it hurt my feelings.” If you notice a jab in your stomach, acknowledge it. “Yep. I am thinking about what Bob said and now I feel a jab in my stomach.” Drag that pain out into plain sight and acknowledge its presence. All you are doing is acknowledging it- nothing further.
      It takes a little bit of practice, and seems really stupid at first, but you might notice that stuff does not zap you as hard as it used to.

      See, the idea is there are two problems here not one. Bob said something that was off and you are upset. The second problem comes in when you use logic to stampede over/trample on your emotions. This is kind of like beating yourself up- “I am going to keep hitting me until I feel better.” Instead of pushing the emotion down, trying to crush the emotion, just acknowledge that the emotion is there and say nothing further. Do this at a quiet point- no tv, no distractions- just spend maybe 10-15 minutes, at most, going over a few of the day’s events and how you felt about each one.

      What I like about this is that I do not even have to figure out WHY I had that emotion. I just think about what happened and say “okay, yep. that hurt.” If I feel like crying, I do. Most times I just feel a dull ache inside. Currently, I do not need to do this as much. But I do marvel at how it has made me more resilient over time.

  19. Masters Degree JD lady*

    My parents made me cry at Xmas dinner at a restaurant last night. In tears, I texted my boyfriend who made me feel better.

    My parents know I have a JD and masters. I failed the bar exam 3 times (even with remote barbri) and I’m in round 2 for a highly coveted government job.

    Thing is, my parents are pressuring me to take the bar (offering to pay all apt rent for 3 months) if I’ll give it a 4th try.

    But the bar exam is irrelevant to the govt policy work I’m doing now and they won’t let it go because they want to ‘save face’ and think it’ll lead to wealth/corporate law. But I’m interested in health policy/IT cyber security/HIPAA and I’m a govt contractor.

    I hate exams (had to do extended time in law school bc of horrendous carpal tunnel) and I’m emotionally worn out. Any advice? For me, bar is irrelevant and Im in the running for a govt policy job. My parents don’t get it..I just wish they would go away forever (sometimes).

    1. Relosa*

      I had a co-worker this summer take the bar – I saw what it does to someone emotionally and mentally. She passed, but just barely. When I asked her what her plan was if she didn’t pass, she said she was going to try the next session and then take a break and think about it.

      It’s not as simple as just studying and taking it. If they think having license to practice law suddenly leads you to wealth…well…I’m sorry :(

      I’m just one of those people that doesn’t put up with that kind of crap from anyone. I would just tell them point-blank it isn’t their decision to make and if they had any respect for you they would stop bothering you about it. You know what’s best for you; they don’t.

    2. AndersonDarling*

      If your parents paid for school, I can see why they want you to keep taking the bar. It would be the closure to their investment.
      And there is also the idea that once you pass, you will magically have a wonderful, great paying job. Unfortunately, I know a lot of new attorneys who can’t find work in their field (at least in my city).
      If you have a good lead on a job, keep going for it. In the end, I’d bet your parents just want you happy and employed and they won’t realize that until they see you are happy and employed. They will keep holding onto their “happiness” image of an attorney child.
      If it makes you feel better, many people have these conflicts with their parents, it’s part of finding your own path and such. If it wasn’t a conflict about a job, it would be about a boyfriend, or where you live. Listen to their comments, be nice to them, but find your own path. Your parents are in phase. :)

      1. Artemesia*

        This. They are nuts if they think someone taking the bar for the 4th time is going to land in one of the handful of high paying Wall Street corporate law jobs most of which go to select law grads from particular well connected law schools and often with well connected families. There are not wonderful jobs for most law grads.

        An interesting solid policy job is a much better outcome than treading water while passing the bar and then desperately trying to find a decent law job.

        And taking the job she wants does not mean she can’t go ahead and take the bar later if she decides it was a wrong turn.

    3. BRR*

      I would tell them that while you went to law school your career goals have changed. That passing the bar won’t help you do what you want for a living. If they paid for law school you might have to deal with a little more of them giving you a hard time.

      I will say don’t count on the government job and think long-term. I’m not familiar with this field but if you even might need to have passed the bar down your career line you should consider doing it now.

      1. Masters Degree JD lady*

        Thanks y’all. Actually, I got a 50% tuition-covered scholarship for all 3 yrs law school, and a partial scholarship for the masters which cost $12,000

        1. BRR*

          I hope some of this helps. I also have parents who love to give unsolicited advice and I just honestly tell them how much they’re stressing me out. Sometimes they don’t realize they’re doing it.

    4. Senor Poncho*

      If you’re employed, in a field you like, and in the running for a highly coveted government job, you’ve already won the game. That’s the first thing. You know this.

      The second thing is that studying for the bar is a pretty stressful/miserable/expensive experience, and if you don’t need/care to pass, you probably aren’t going to. I’m sure you already know this too.

      The third thing is: what’s the point? You’ve already won the game, you have no plans to practice, and (presumably) no desire to practice.

      Those are really the three points your parents need to understand. There’s also the fact that hey, this is your life and your career, and dammit you should be able to do what you please without a guilt trip. You might also direct them to the scamblog post of your choice so they understand that, even if you pass, and even if you wanted to practice, there’s a good chance it still wouldn’t matter.

      Separately, congrats on the job/prospective new job!

      1. Mephyle*

        A little modification to this: your parents don’t need to be made to understand these things. You can try, but if you don’t succeed, their failure to understand doesn’t mean that you inevitably have to accept their offer. You can keep on your career path even without their acceptance and approval.

    5. catsAreCool*

      Maybe this would be a good time to pull away from your parents. It sounds like you’re not in a place where it would be a good time to take the exam, even if it would be useful to you.

      Carolyn Hax tends to give advice in this type of situation where you define your boundaries “I can’t talk about re-taking the bar right now. When and if I’m ready, I’ll bring it up.” and then enforcing it by leaving or getting off the phone when they bring it up. Maybe saying “I still can’t talk about this now. I’ll let you know if I’m ready.” and then leaving. Might take some pre-planning though so that you can leave.

    6. Hlyssande*

      This sounds like you may need to set some firm boundaries with your parents about what you will and won’t talk about.

      Captain Awkward has a ton of fantastic advice on how to do this with family, but the key points are:
      1. Clearly establish those boundaries (I will not talk to you about this, and if you keep trying to talk about it, I will end the conversation/leave).
      2. Hold firm to them despite the complaints and guilt they’ll try to pile on you. This means that you may need to always drive or arrive separately wherever you’re going together so you have an escape route. If it’s through phone calls, you can hang up and not answer if they call back.

      I would highly recommend the archives at Captain Awkward for some ideas on how to handle it. :)

      Good luck!

    7. Jen P*

      I was in a similar situation this time last year. I’m in the UK so the qualification process is different but to cut a long story short I realised while studying that I just didn’t care enough about the law to take it any further, so I did my exams for the stage I was at then stopped. I think my parents were worried I was giving up on a career path I’d been excited about and put a lot of work (and money!) into without an obvious alternative in place, and their concern manifested itself as a similar kind of really unhelpful nagging to what you’re getting now.

      However last February I applied for and won a bug promotion involving significantly more money and a deceptively fancier title. That’s convinced them I’m going to be ok and they’ve backed right off. So my advice is to stick to your plan and they will eventually realise you’re a grown up capable of making your own decisions.

  20. Kristina*

    I have a supervisor who seems to like to rewrite and edit my work a lot (not grammar or punctuation only but complete rewrites), from press releases to Facebook posts. She did this to another person who just left for a new job. I am only a temp there but I just thought it was a bit odd and makes me feel like I did something wrong. The girl who left had the same feeling about thinking she wasn’t doing something right when her work was being rewritten so much. Is this just a thing some managers do?
    I’ve had previous supervisors as an intern at other places that never rewrote my work so much. They would just tell me to add something or change the wording a bit but I’ve never been asked to fix my own work at this job.

    1. soitgoes*

      My boss does that. He’s not great at writing from scratch, but he likes editing my work once I have something down on paper.

    2. fposte*

      Sometimes it’s quicker for people to edit a doc themselves than to have the person change it; some people just prefer doing that. But it also sounds like you haven’t asked her yet, so try that. “It looks like my work is requiring more editing than I was expecting. I’d be happy to make any changes you recommend, if that would save time, and if there are style sheet or usage tips that you think would help me minimize your need to edit, I’d love to have them.”

    3. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Is she improving the work with her rewrites? Some managers do this because it will genuinely improve the work (and I’ll further divide those into subsets of times when it matters and times when it doesn’t really matter), while others do it because they’re overly involved in the details of people’s work when they shouldn’t be. There are also jobs where the role is really to provide the first draft, and then the manager comes in and finesses the writing from there, and that’s a normal part of it.

      However, if you’re writing press releases and Facebook posts, your job sounds like one where writing quality really matters, so what you want to know here is whether you are or aren’t meeting her expectations for the written work you produce. I’d ask her something like: “I’ve noticed that you’ve been rewriting my work a lot. Does that indicate that I’m not writing in the way you’d like, and if so, is there feedback you can give me that will help me get closer to what you’re looking for?”

      1. Clever Name*

        I had a boss who extensively rewrote anything I produced. His edits did not improve the quality, and in fact made it worse. He just re-wrote everything to sound like his writing style, which was poor. I eventually just accepted that he would murder anything I wrote. Fortunately, he also insisted his name be attached to everything I wrote, so at least my name wasn’t attached to the crap that came out of our office.

    4. nep*

      Have you talked to your supervisor about it? Asked him / her why the heavy edits, to the point of rewrites?

      1. Kristina*

        Not yet, but I think it’s odd since she did the same thing to a person who just left. Both of us couldn’t be that bad at writing. The person never got a clear response as to why she got rewrites either

  21. Nervous accountant*

    I went to work on Christmas Day. We all had off but I decided to go in just to get a few uninterrupted hours of work, I needed that extra time, and honestly I have an extremely irrational fear of taking a day off.

    I was able to make a dent so the day wasn’t a waste but, I’m not sure, was that wrong to do? One manager was aghast that I wanted to come in, her manager was open to the idea and gave me the go ahead. I only went for 3-4 hours..

    I know I won’t get paid extra….I don’t really celebrate Christmas and My husvand was OK with me going bc he understands how imp it is… idk if this looks bad on me from any other point of view?? I’m also seasonal so, idk part of me is hoping this will show I’m dedicated to being a valuable employee? Am I totally wrong?

    1. fposte*

      I think if you genuinely want to go in because it’s quiet, you want to get ahead on your work, and you don’t really care much about hanging around the house, it’s fine.

      I think if you’re going in because you’re scared to take a day off and you hope it makes you look better than taking Christmas off, it’s not good–not because your job will think poorly of you, but because you’re looking at it in a way that’s not good for you. Days off are important, and it worries me that you find it difficult to stay away on one of the big closures of the year–are you ever going to manage to take a vacation day? Can you have confidence that your work is valuable enough working the same amount of days most people do that you don’t need to turn up on exceptional days to get credit for your labor?

      1. catsAreCool*

        “Days off are important,” This! They keep you from burning out and can give you new perspective.

      2. Nervous Accountant*

        It’s both….90% of my day (and everyone’s) is filled with client consultations, so it’s rare to get a few uninterrupted hours of work done. We had the next day off as well,b ut a few people came in, presumably for hte same reasons, so I didn’t feel too weird about that.

        I was fired on my day off a few years ago….as crazy and irrational as it sounds, I’ve taken that fear into my future jobs, of being suddenly fired, that too on my day off. My first months on my 2 jobs this year were filled with this (hence the username…..) fear.

        Last year I was hired as a seasonal employee; I put so much pressure on myself to perform well enough to be hired permanently…..ultimately, the opposite happened, and I was let go during the first round of layoffs (first seasonal, then many others who outperformed me)..but I know I wasn’t a high performer. When I was hired back, it was a second chance. I got relatively good feedback a few weeks ago, but it’s still all a numbers game, meeting weekly quotas etc, which I’m struggling to do, but I hear everyone is struggling to meet those quotas. I try not to think about “everyone else can’t do it etiehr so I’m fine” bc well they’re all permanent and proven to be valuable, and I’m not….I have to work extra extra hard to prove myself.

        I’m exhausted.

    2. Elizabeth West*

      If your boss’s boss was okay with it, then I wouldn’t worry. You got some time and got some things done that needed doing. I imagine your boss was shocked because most people don’t want to work on Christmas, even if they don’t celebrate it or aren’t doing so that particular year—a day off is like gold to a lot of them.

    3. Apollo Warbucks*

      I wouldn’t say you’re wrong if you’re happy to be at work on Christmas day then that’s up to you, but taking time off work is good for you. It’s also worth considering how working looks to your boss, it’s possible that you’ll give them the impression that you can’t cope with your work load, or worse still as you’re an accountant the refusal to take time off could be a red flag for fraudulent activity, like your desperate to be in te office to cover up whatever you’re up to.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        This. There was a CEO that could not take time off. Then he got sick. Oh boy. He was up on charges before he could do anything to stop it.

        I don’t know how long you have had this fear of taking a day off. But the longer you feed into it the harder it will be to conquer the fear. If this is a fairly new thing, please, just take a day off. Make a list of activities for the day and stick to your list. Tell your husband what you are doing and ask him to help you get through it.

      2. Nervous Accountant*

        Not sure if it matters but the one who happily agreed to it has a rep for being a workaholic. Looking like I can’t cope did occur to me and tbh it’s true…..the workload is heavy, it’s not terribly difficult (right now)…but it’s just A LOT that we don’t get a lot of uninterrupted time to complete on any given days. Fraud never even occurred to me…60 hour weeks are the norm/mandatory during the peak season. Which, again, is really crazy, bc I know the time is coming so I should enjoy the days off.

    4. LoFlo*

      If you were my-coworker I would be annoyed because you are setting an un-realistic example during year end. I worked in accounting for 25 years and every year it seems like year end results were needed sooner and sooner every year to please the Board and Execs instead of management saying it will realistically take x WORKING days to close year end.

      1. Nervous Accountant*

        That’s my worry, but that’s never been my intention. I just feel like I ahve to work extra extra hard/work smart (still trying to figure that out) to prove my worth and value as much as the other employees… thought process is “well Jenny can take a day off/call out sick/take a long weekend, bc she’s a permanent employee, and has a proven track record of being valuable to the company and she won’t get fired suddenly…..I don’t.”

        Now I feel silly having gone to work on that day. Well, new years day is coming and we’re off…..I’ll have no qualms about taking that day off……

  22. Must Be Anon for This*

    Management has threatened to fire us if we complain about loss of benefits or if we discuss pay or benefits with each other. So much looking forward to 2015. Not. New job search has already commenced.

    1. BRR*

      Just in case you don’t know that is illegal. That being said it’s far easier sometimes to just go along with it.

    2. Observer*

      If you are in the US this is absolutely illegal.

      Someone should print out the relevant pages from the appropriate government sites fort hem.

      1. Must Be Anon for This*

        Yes, we’re in the USA, and I know it’s illegal, but nothing is in writing. Everything was said verbally. We work in at at will work state, with no union, so no protection against management. And printing anything out and giving it to management would most certainly result in an inquisition and I have no doubt that person would be laid off, downsized, or let go somehow. It sucks.

  23. kristinemc*

    any suggestions for to do or calendar programs that allow more detail as well as recurring tasks?

    My assistant at work is having some difficulty with remembering all the pieces & parts of each task. I.E., location A payroll is posted in program A and B, but location B payroll is only posted in program A.

    They have a notebook & write things down, but they’re still missing details.

    I’d like a to do / calendar program that would allow me to print out weekly/monthly schedules with detail.

    Any program (or other) suggestions?

    1. Hillary*

      I use recurring outlook appointments – things like pay invoice x on the 26th or run reports a and b every four weeks on Monday.

      If they’re missing steps, I’d probably work with them to write process docs or checklists (my team prefers to write our own docs and then have someone else test them, we seem to remember better that way) and the use the docs/lists in combination with a calendar program.

    2. Bea W*

      Is the problem remembering when to do it or remembering all the steps when doing it? If it’s just remembering the steps, a “tip sheet” can be helpful. Make up a short, one-page reference that breaks down the pieces. We use these all the time at my work. Some of the tasks get tricky and we’re also so busy with many things that, it can be hard to remember what goes where, what to name a file, who to send things to, etc – all the nitty gritty details. It’s great to be able to pull out a sheet and see all the key pieces of information.

      I also find checklists to be useful for certain tasks, especially ones with many steps or where later steps depend on finishing earlier steps and tasks that aren’t done often or take longer to complete instead of in one pass. I have made simple checklists detailing the important steps to easily keep track of where I am and what has already been done – especially when it comes to saving files in one or more places or sending them to someone.

      If it’s recurring, it is easy to set up a calendar reminder to do “X”. You could even attach the tip sheet or checklist file to the appointment in Outlook.

      1. Kristinemc*

        The problem seems to be remembering the steps – but there’s already a calendar in place to remind them to do the task. I didn’t know you could attach files to outlook appointments – thanks!

        1. Bea W*

          Oh yes! It is wonderful! We attach meetings agendas and minutes to them all the time or give links to files on SharePoint or a shared network drive if everyone on the invite has access to the area.

          1. Bea W*

            (Hit submit too soon) When the reminder pops up I can just click “Open” to open the calendar item and get the document or the link I need. Some people will write information directly in the calendar invite. It’s like writing an email.

  24. some1*

    I’ve been working as a temp the last two months as an admin. The company is great and I like my coworkers a lot. My actual position is covering for a maternity leave and that employee is returning in February.

    They are adding another admin in my dept and I applied. After I applied I emailed my boss, the director, as well as a coworker who functions as as something of an Office Manager for all the admins in my region.

    The coworker said she was happy that I applied and I have received more than positive feedback from everyone, but I haven’t heard boo from my boss yet. He is extremely busy and travels for work a lot, and when he’s in the office it’s not uncommon that I don’t see him all day because he is on calls all day.

    Any suggestions on approaching my boss about the perm position with his busy schedule, or suggestions for broaching the topic? I know there’s no way it’s a sure thing but is it appropriate for me to ask him directly if he wants me to stay on?

    1. Ella*

      I don’t see why you couldn’t touch base with him on it when he has a free moment. He just may not had a chance to reply to your email. Is there a way to catch him getting coffee or something and just say ‘I don’t know if you saw my email but I applied for the new admin position here’ or something like that. GL!

      1. some1*

        Thanks, Ella! Unfortunately he doesn’t drink coffee but I like the idea of just following up with him regarding my email — now I just need to find a good time to catch him.

  25. Holly*

    Things have gotten very, very bad at my work. The owner has always been a bit unpredictable, to start. My team of 3 people recently launched a completely redesigned website for the company in just 3 months, and we were so excited to see it live. The owner quickly became irate about certain things – it was slow (server issues, but it was our fault somehow), it didn’t look like a perfect copy of IBM’s website, and under no circumstances are we allowed to “use creative license” going forward…whatever that means?

    But there was screaming involved at my poor boss, in front of others in the company, and by the end of the 14 hour day we were both ready to walk out. My boss is actively looking, but I’m frozen from anxiety. I’ve been in such a toxic workplace for so long I’ve become convinced I couldn’t get a job as an intern, let alone a 4+ year experienced marketing professional. Every day my anxiety rises at the idea of putting in applications, then it rises because I haven’t put any in, and it rises because the idea of going into the office Monday terrifies me. I’m mainly just talking this out, but does anyone have any advice for getting past low-career-ability-self-esteem issues and bailing out of a bad workplace?

    1. danr*

      Just get that first application out. It doesn’t matter whether it’s perfect or not or if your resume is just right. The psychological lift from just doing it is what you need now. The second one will be much easier.

      1. fposte*

        Oh, I like this. It’s the application equivalent of the writerly advice of “vomit on paper/shitty first drafts.” Send one out just to send it.

        1. Ruffingit*

          Completely agree with this. I’ve been in the position of being in a toxic environment that just leaves you drained and frozen. Start with one application. That’s all you need. I would also recommend seeing a therapist to talk about your anxiety and frozen feelings. It can be very helpful to get some assistance from a trained professional. You don’t have to go forever, but a few sessions are worthwhile.

    2. fposte*

      An external boost from a therapist? It can be hard to break that cycle on your own. Additionally, it might help to break down the application process into teeny weeny pieces. Have you updated your resume, for instance? (Nothing to do with sending it out, nobody has to see it, just keeping it updated.) Have you identified where/how you’ll look for jobs? (Nobody knows about this list but you, so it doesn’t matter.) Have you looked at any of those sites? (Not handed anything in, just read some job descriptions, no commitment.)

      I’m sorry; I think what you’re experiencing is pretty common and that it’s a big reason why people do end up stuck in jobs like this. I hope you’ll break free.

      1. Gene*

        And use your company’s EAP to the max for this. They created the problems, make them pay to fix them.

    3. Apollo Warbucks*

      Start looking now! You don’t have to put up with that level of disfunction. Theres a whole host of opportunities out there and you can find a workplace that values and respects you.

      This isn’t the same situation as you but my last job wasn’t bad but I was really underpaid and I was worried about starting my new job with such a big pay rise, turns out I had nothing to worry about, and I bet you’ll be a lot happier in a new job.

      Good luck and don’t let the bastards grind you down.

    4. some1*

      I completely understand how you feel, and how the bad environment has affected your self-esteem; I’ve been there.

      Fwiw coming from a stranger on the internet, you are obviously capable if you can redesign a website in such a short time, and your post is articulate so you obviously communicate well. And you are asking for help, which means you are self-aware and want to change things for the better. All of these things are great qualities to have as a professional and a good org would appreciate you.

    5. catsAreCool*

      Take tiny steps.

      The first time I wrote a cover letter, I felt stuck, so I first just typed “I’m applying for this job because I want to get paid.” That made me smile. Then I modified it and modified it until it looked like a real cover letter.

      Sometimes if you take your resume/cover letter, make a copy, and just do the minimum in updating it, then the next day or the day after that, you can modify what you wrote so that it sounds better. I think the subconscious thinks about it and helps with updates.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Love this. “I am apply for this job because I want to get paid.”
        Yep, that is a good starting point.

        1. Ruffingit*

          Indeed. I did the same thing once in practicing answers to interview questions back when they asked stupid things like “Where do you see yourself in five years?” My answer: Employed hopefully not with idiots like you who ask those questions, but I can put up with you since this is a stepping stone to better things.

          Obviously not something I’d ever say, but sure felt good to just toss it out there while practicing. :)

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            But that’s really not a horrible question. It’s actually pretty reasonable for interviewers to want to understand how the job fits into your medium-range plan for yourself.

          2. Not So NewReader*

            I don’t care for the question, myself. But people do ask. I used to feel like saying, “I had four parents, I am down to [current number]. They are taking turns having a horrible diagnosis and dying. But not without first involving hundreds of trips to the doctor and perhaps thousands of hours dealing with medical stuff. This usually entails bankruptcy and lawyers. My hope in five years is that I have some semblance of a life.”
            Of course, I did not say that. But it felt good to say it in practicing and get it out of my system. Yeah, the question made me cringe for many years.

    6. LoFlo*

      Do some networking by joining professional groups or volunteering. That aspect of my life helped me realize that the work situation wasn’t me and that let me to those “hidden” jobs.

    7. Observer*

      I’m with the “therapist” idea. It sounds like you are in a vicious cycle of anxiety which is HUGELY interfering with your ability to function. Even if you don’t have coverage, this is a worthwhile investment.

    1. some1*

      When I met with a temp agency recruiters, I wore one. I wanted them to see I was taking it as seriously as any other job interview.

    2. StudentA*

      I think it’s nice, but I don’t think you have to. But I think it also depends on the agency. If it specializes in Fortune 500 clients or law firms, I would err on the side of caution. If it’s a laid back agency, I wouldn’t say it’s a deal breaker.

    3. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Enough interviewers still consider suits a must that I wouldn’t chance it by not wearing one. It won’t hurt you to wear one, but it can often hurt you not to wear one.

    4. Ella*

      Thanks, I figured. I was recently told it was no longer necessary and I thought that was odd… I always thought it helped them see how I present myself to their clients and show them I value their time as well.

      Please wish me luck. I just turned down a job that was paying very low and was just showing all kinds of red flags during the hiring process. I was scared I’d get stuck there but also scared I wouldn’t find anything else. I let it go today. Making room for something much better!

      1. some1*

        I definitely think a suit is important if you are meeting about getting placed, but once you are placed I think you are fine to dress casually (but clean and well groomed) if you are just stopping in to drop off paperwork (which would be the same as at an employer).

  26. Lara*

    Know how some jobs are exempt and others are exempt? Can a job be both? Allow me to explain.

    I am an account assistant at a public relations firm. Basically, I do clerical work for the account executives but am also getting public relations experience and learning about the business. Most account assistants get promoted to junior account executive in about 18 months so I’m hoping to move up in about 6 months. This is a non-exempt position; I get paid hourly.

    Occasionally, I am allowed to do actual account work but, I don’t receive extra pay for doing so nt work because junior account executive is an exempt position. So basically the way I have to fill out my billing sheet is to put all of my account assistant work in the 1 – 40 hours column and the junior account executive work in the 40+ column. Two weeks ago I did 17 hours of overtime as a junior account executive and my paycheck was the same size as it is when I work only 40 hours.

    Is this how it’s supposed to be? The office manager says that that junior account executives don’t get overtime pay plus account assistants should be grateful that they’re getting account experience but I sort of feel like I’m being taken advantage of.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      No. You can’t be both exempt and non-exempt. And it goes by what the preponderance of the work is, so in your case you should be getting overtime for those hours over 40.

    2. fposte*

      The short answer would be no. However, there are ways of doing it–I know somebody who has two positions for our university department, one exempt part-time and one non-exempt part time, and that’s legit. But I think the way your company is doing it seems pretty unkosher to me, since you’re apparently in the same job and same pay level and same hourly strictures, just doing some additional tasks.

      I’d check with your state’s DOL to be sure, but then the question is what you want to do about it. The usual AAM advice is to note with concern (maybe to HR rather than the supervisor) that this seems like it might not be legal, but that doesn’t mean they’re going to 1) care or 2) start paying you overtime even if they do–their response might be to limit you to 40 hours. Some of that will depend on how entrenched this system is; if they’ve been doing it for years and everybody knows the “rule,” it’s going to be harder to change without breaking eggs than if it’s just a recent supervisor who had a whim.

        1. Lara*

          Thanks very much for your answers! Yes, I really need to consider how to proceed from here. This is one of those jobs like working for Miranda Priestly in The devil Wears Prada: “a job a million girls would kill for” Sometimes it feels like the higher-ups should be paying THEM for the privilege of working!

          1. Agile Phalanges*

            I know this is way old, but maybe you have notifications turned on. The way I read it was that you write your junior account executive hours into the 40+ column as a way of tracking how many hours were spend doing those tasks, but not that you were necessarily actually going over 40 hours.

            If you spend 40 hours on your “regular” job and 5 hours on your “stretch” job, and are classified as non-exempt (due to the duties of your regular job, regardless of whether the stretch job is normally classified as exempt), you’d be owed time-and-a-half on those extra 5 hours.

            If you work 35 hours on your regular job and 5 hours on your stretch job, then it doesn’t matter what your timesheet/timeclock/whatever system shows, you didn’t actually work over 40 hours in the week and they’re not obligated to pay you any extra. They CAN, if they choose to, but legally don’t have to, as you worked 40 hours.

            If you work 37 hours on your regular job and 5 hours on your stretch job, then you’ve worked 42 hours total and are owed 2 hours of OT, even though that’s not how many you spent doing the extra duties.

            So it doesn’t matter WHAT you’re doing and when, it only matters how many hours you go over 40 in your company’s work week. Of course, your company can ask you to track things however they want as well, but that doesn’t necessarily affect your pay.

  27. just a girl*

    I read somewhere that you can be rejected via an ATS application for applying to one company and being rejected consistently. Anyone else heard about that?

    On a totally different note, I am pretty bummed out because I keep being passed over for interviews for jobs I am fairly qualified for. Also, I feel shot down when I see that 150 others have applied for a job. No wonder I am not getting interviews and when I do, I am not getting offers :(

    Please send me your best vibes.

    1. Steve G*

      I know the feeling. I signed up for linkedin premium and saw how many people applied for each job. What makes it frustrating is that there is always someone with the same exact experience as what the job is, so yeah, it makes a hiring managers job easy to just hire that person, but 1) it makes it impossible for mid-level people to make lateral moves to try new positions, and 2) just because someone did the same thing at a different company doesn’t mean they were great at it.

      I was also frustrated because many jobs at other companies with the same level of responsibility as I had at my last job were at the manager or director level….so when I applied, I never heard anything back. I’m wondering if my low-sounding job title impacted that. My former employer simply had a culture of deflated job titles…..a director was defacto in their 40s with 10-15 years relevant experience, no questions asked. At other companies, you see people getting director level in their late 20s and early 30s. I knew I would have had that title had I worked somewhere else….

      Anyways, yeah, just sympathizing….

    2. BRR*

      When you apply through LinkedIn does it give the option for a cover letter? If it doesn’t I would apply directly through the company website with a cover letter.

  28. super anon*

    After all the posts here about holiday bonuses and gifts from companies, when my boyfriend told me what his companies holiday bonus was I knew I’d have to post in the open thread about it. The bonus? A bag of rice and a bottle of cooking oil for every employee, and you had to go to the main office to pick it up yourself and sign the sheet to make sure you only took one. This is a company that experienced a lot of growth and success this year. Merry Christmas, eh?

    1. StudentA*

      I’ve heard of tacky gifts, but this takes the cake. I think it’s *how* they did it, not just *what* they did. I would be so embarrassed if I were your fiance’s manager.

    2. Jennifer*

      Well, this year I got a $15 gift card to Target, but that’s the first Christmas bonus I’ve ever had. So…. yeah. I consider myself lucky in this day and age. Though yeah, random rice as a “bonus” is kind of a joke.

    3. KJR*

      This is just so weird. Did the employees know ahead of time that’s what they were going to pick up? I don’t think I would have bothered. I’m dying to know the rationale behind it.

    4. ThursdaysGeek*

      How far is the drive to the main office?! And are you working in a poverty stricken third world country experiencing a drought and widespread starvation, so that rice and oil is a good (or at least appropriate) gift?

    5. periwinkle*

      You win. I thought the Christmas bonus* given one year by my husband’s former employer was goofy, but your boyfriend’s employer is better at it.

      * The company was doing great business and decided to promote itself further by sponsoring the opening “puck drop” for the local NHL team’s televised games. It must have cost a ton of money, because that year each employee was rewarded with a hockey puck (with the company logo) and a bag of microwave popcorn. A single-serving size bag of microwave popcorn, to be precise.

    6. KAZ2Y5*

      Ha! I hope it was at least some special/flavored type of oil. I remember at one place I worked–they had “coupons” they would give the employees that would be good in the cafeteria, gift shop, etc. They were $1 each and were a way to reward employees doing extra stuff at work (you might get anywhere from $1-5 depending).
      So…one year for Xmas I got a Xmas card from my manager (he would send one out every year saying how much he appreciated us, etc) and a $1 coupon in my card! Yes, I got $1 for a bonus. And the kicker was that they were only good for one year (Jan to Dec), so my $1 was only good for 1 more week! I’m sure he was just working with what he had, but I like to tell the story of my $1 bonus!

    7. LoFlo*

      Just wonder if it is sybolic thing from the owner’s home country? In some cultures certain foods bring good luck for the coming year – like eating red beans and rice on New Years day.

      1. super anon*

        Nope, it’s not a symbolic thing at all. My boyfriend is from the same culture as the owner of the company, and found it just as tacky and cheap as I did.

    8. Persephone Mulberry*

      I posted a few weeks ago about feeling awkward that I got a “better” gift from my manager than my peers – that was actually last Christmas. This year my gift was on par with the others at my level (necklaces, picture frames), but the front desk staff got…a bag of holiday-shaped pasta. o_O

  29. Creative Project Manager soon to be certified?*

    Anyone know of any certifications for creative project management? Or would a PMP be my best bet? I don’t know a whole lot about PMP certification, but from the bit that I do know, it sounds like it makes more sense for technical or industrial fields. I am in the creative field.

    1. AB Normal*

      I don’t know about any certifications for creative PM, but from my experience, 1) PMP is not a good option (you are right it’s not a great fit for the creative field) and 2) certification as a whole isn’t by far as important as having experience and a solid track record as a project management in your area.

      I’d recommend you place all your effort into finding an opportunity to act as the PM for projects in your field. Perform well, and more opportunities should come. In this type of role, no certificate can replace a successful track record.

      1. Creative Project Manager soon to be certified?*

        Great points. I definitely appreciate your take.

        I haven’t been able to find a job, so I was hoping to at least advance my training.

      2. AnotherFed*

        Absolutely second this. A track record of taking on roles with more and more project management responsibility and succeeding with them shows far more than a PMP cert. In my area, a PMP honestly just means that you had the persistence to take classes and pass a test. It says something about work ethic, but not that you have the ability to apply that (and know when to apply what project management techniques and styles – just try making graphic artists report earned value management numbers and see the mutiny you’d get!).

  30. katamia*

    Hi, everyone. Long-time lurker, first-time commenter. I’m wondering if anyone has any suggestions for things to try to adjust to an office routine. I’ve been freelancing for the last year and a half, and before that I was teaching at private organizations so I could shake things up a bit when I got bored. Other than a few months in an office right after I graduated from college (hated every minute of it), I’ve never really had a job where other people were in charge of my schedule.

    However, I’m not making anywhere near enough to live on with my freelancing. I’ve been looking at office jobs, but I’m worried about my ability to handle the routine and structure. I find the thought of going to the same place day in and day out and doing the same thing over and over again for weeks/months/possibly years on end incredibly stressful and always have–lots of mental health days in school/college because I needed a change of pace (I know this was bad, but it’s what I’m trying to avoid in the future), and I’ve really loved being able to structure my own days while freelancing.

    Has anyone else dealt with a similar transition? What did you do to make it better/less stressful? Not employed yet, just trying to come up with a list of things I can try if I do find a more routine-oriented job.

    1. soitgoes*

      I was worried about the same thing, but I found that I thrive when I have a routine to stick to. Getting up at a certain time each day and having set times to eat have been great for my overall feeling of wellness. I’ve lost about 10 lbs since getting my office job in April (a reflection of my own prior freelancing laziness and careless eating, not a statement of anyone else’s presumed health goals). It’s also been really good for my social skills to interact with other human beings every day.

      1. katamia*

        It’s good that you’ve been doing well. I have to say, though, I think I’m the opposite–I’ve always been fairly routine/schedule-averse, and I found freelancing incredibly liberating and motivating and felt better than I have at any other job. If I were making enough money I definitely wouldn’t be looking for anything else. So I guess I’m trying to come to terms with (if/when I find something else) losing that freedom and moving to a work environment that, judging from past experiences, doesn’t seem to be ideal for me.

        I can’t disagree with you on the social skills, though, lol. I’ve definitely noticed an atrophy there, although I’m a pretty strong introvert to begin with so the thought of being surrounded by people in an office doesn’t really thrill me either.

    2. Gene*

      Look in fields where there is some variation in the work. While not a “normal” office job, most of my time is spent in front of this computer. But when I feel the need to stop staring at pixels, I go out in the field and inspect one of our users, or sample their discharge, or even just drive around and look for places we should be regulating but somehow managed to slip through the cracks.

      1. ThursdaysGeek*

        Uh Gene, we know what you do. I’d have to be plenty bored to want to go to a customer and “sample their discharge”. My first thought was: I hope these are businesses and not individuals!

        1. Gene*

          Yeah, businesses. :-)

          My accounts range from a small boat rail shop that uses plastic garbage cans to treat their waste up to the Boeing Widebody plant (every 747, 767, 777 and most 787s came from that plant) and a major Campbell’s plant. Best smelling place was a Revlon plant at a former employer, I’d come home from there smelling (as Wife #1 put it) “like a French whore exploded on me.” We won’t go into the worst smells, it’s lunchtime somewhere.

    3. Jean*

      Can you look for work in an environment that doesn’t lend itself to routines? Off the top of my head here’s a list of possible such places, with apologies if it’s just a list of sites that don’t match your skills or preferences: hospital emergency department; caterer (the part of the operation that transports the food to an event site and serves it there); event planning company; florist; emergency/first-responding organization (fire dept, ambulance crew, EMTs…); parts of the travel, tourism, hotel, or hospitality fields; substitute teaching; outdoors-based concerns such as landscaping, state departments of wildlife, conservation, or environmental protection; construction or renovation/contracting. Standard office work in a small environment may be free of routines if all hands have to be on deck for many different kinds of tasks. Also, sometimes a seemingly staid or conventional office is routine-free because it’s not well-organized so that everything is a “drop everything else and do this NOW!” emergency. Stressful, but not boring!

      I do hear you about tasks being just plain boring. Sometimes I’ve reframed the challenge as having to master the basics before moving on to other projects. Other times I haven’t minded doing very humble work because I’m so glad to be working in a given field or supporting a specific cause. I also have ambitions about freelancing, but hold myself back with a combination of practical and personal obstacles (family responsibilities, lack of home work space, lack of burning commitment to pursue my passion _no matter what_).

  31. Bend & Snap*

    I’m polishing up my resume. I was at my last job for 8 years, 2 in a senior manager role. On the day I gave my notice, one of my references told me I was being promoted that day, so I quit immediately. My boss at the time told me my promotion had been approved that morning and asked if I was sure I didn’t want to stay.

    How can I illustrate this on my resume? The promotion was a big deal but I didn’t actually hold the title because I left.

    1. fposte*

      I don’t see how it makes it to a resume, because that’s documenting what you did, and you never actually did that job. It might have a place in a cover letter or in the interview, depending on other circumstances; even there, though, I’m hesitant unless there’s a context where it’s about your value rather than your actual achievements.

    2. soitgoes*

      This is a toughie. I would err on the side of leaving it off the resume altogether (as you don’t have any experience in that role) and explain the situation in your cover letter. “In spite of eight years with the company and a pending promotion to [new role], I decided to leave in order to [your reasons].”

      1. Bend & Snap*

        The bummer is that at that company, you got promoted after doing the job for a few months. So I had been doing the job sans title for awhile when I finally got the promotion.

        1. ThursdaysGeek*

          Not that it affects the advice from others, but I don’t understand why you quit immediately upon hearing about the promotion.

        2. EduNerd*

          IMO, the work seems to be the crucial part to include, so what I’d do is document those achievements you had while doing the job sans title on your resume. I think Alison has addressed this in a previous question, so you could look in the archives for specific phrasing, but something like “Supervised 10 employees for 10 months while boss was out” might do the trick.

  32. Anonyworker*

    I want to thank people who responded to my question a couple weeks ago about how to figure out if taking a manager position would be right for me. People really had some good questions for me to ask myself and think about that I hadn’t come across looking for advice. I decided to take a chance and go for the manager position. So now that’s in the hands of my manager and HR to make it happen. There’s no guarantee it will get approved upstream, but I feel like I have a little more direction because that that whole conversation.

  33. Hermoine Granger*

    Generally speaking, how passionate are people / should a person be about their profession? Should there be different levels of passion at work vs. outside of work? Beyond remaining informed about developments in your industry, networking, and maybe attending conferences / classes, what other work activities (if any) should you be doing in your free time? Do expectations and ways of showing passion vary by profession / industry?

    [I use the free version of NetVibes and for the last few days new AskAManager posts have been taking hours to show up. Has anyone else been experiencing a delay with NetVibes?]

    1. Graciosa*

      I think that the expectations vary by the culture of the employer. There are some companies in which everyone is fairly obsessed with work or the company’s mission, and others where most people regard work as a job and go home at night to do other things.

      Since there is no one right answer to your question, the key is to decide how you prefer to answer this question for yourself, and then look for employment where your preference will be reasonably consistent with the company culture.

    2. Megan*

      I think that people should be reasonably passionate – it’s infuriating to work with people who have zero passion, who hate going to conferences, refuse to read journals and publications, etc. But I really would imagine that it varies by industry.

      If you’re in medicine or a field where you generally help people and your field changes rapidly, yes, it’s important to be passionate and stay up to date. If you work in retail, maybe not so much?

      But I agree that if you find yourself in an organization where nobody is passionate, MOVE ON. It’s soul-sucking and makes life miserable.

    3. Clever Name*

      Beware of shoulds and oughts. I get the feeling that this is spurred by a specific event at work.

      Im pretty passionate about my work, and many of my hobbies intersect with my job, so when I’m pursuing a hobby, I’m gaining skills for my career. But I have a family, so I don’t attend things outside of working hours. I certainly wouldn’t pay out of pocket for a conference or class that would help my job.

    4. Schuyler*

      This is a really interesting question, and I’ve had similar questions myself. I enjoy my job well enough, and love being able to help the people I do. However, my true passion is something I’ll never attain. I do occasionally do some outreach in my job–and honestly, wouldn’t mind doing more–but I don’t want to take my work home with me. [I think] I’m a good employee, and passionate about my work *at work*. I love going to conferences–they reinvigorate me about my work. I love doing things with my professional association, including chairing a committee this year.

      That having been said, I don’t really want to be doing work outside of work. My time is precious to me, so I don’t want to be spending time out of the office reading up on new regulations, or reading articles and papers, or working from home. I feel like a lot of times this is looked down upon, like you’re not “going above and beyond”, but I work my butt off and do my best to excel everyday. I don’t think that any employee should be expected to sacrifice their private time because otherwise they are not considered an engaged, competent, highly skilled employee.

  34. Intrepid Intern*

    Does anyone have any advice/thoughts on using Twitter as part of a job search?

    Many of the positions I’m targeting have tracking news and/or research in the job description, so I set up a twitter account to show the type of news I follow, the information I’m able to find, etc. Now I’ve had several experts and university departments follow me!

    I occasionally mention my Twitter in cover letters, as an example. Is there anything else I can do? Look at these dept.’s jobs boards, apply, and mention that they follow me? Update my bio to show that I’m job-searching? (I’m unemployed currently, as I just finished a degree, so there’s no risk of alerting a current employer.)

    1. Clever Name*

      I’d update your bio for sure. I think you can say, by the way, we are mutual followers on Twitter, especially if you post things relevant to your field and not continuous selfies with you and your schnauzer.

  35. Not So NewReader*

    Computer question.

    I can’t go into too many specifics, so I hope I am not too vague here.

    I have files on my work computer, it looks similar to Access for creating individual records. I can back it up locally and remotely.

    I have been asked by higher ups to put the back ups in a read only file.
    It has taken me months to ask this question because I was busy banging my head against the desk.

    I don’t think the remote people are going to be happy about this request. I am stuck in the middle here.
    So what do I need to know here? Is this request even reasonable/doable? I am picturing something like a pdf. So would Access be able to extract the information from a pdf file and reconstruct what was lost?
    I don’t know that much about this stuff- but I am picturing the answer is no. If the answer is no, I would like some help in describing why this is not doable. I am at a loss for words on this one.

    If the answer is yes, probably the remote people can help me accomplish this. I am just not happy about making this phone call, but I cannot postpone it any longer. (I picture this question as driving some poor person out of their mind. Please tell me I am off base and this is not mind-bending.)

    1. meg*

      Where will the file live? Why does it need to be read only? I ask because you could literally make the file read only by right clicking on it, and maybe ask your IT department to make it so that only you (or a limited group of people) can change its attributes.

    2. fposte*

      I’m with Meg–this should be doable within the file permissions without having to call anybody. It happens to us all the time just accidentally, because we deal with file-sharing in a way that frightens the university.

    3. Lore*

      It’s hard to say without knowing software specifics but at least for the database and key document files at my office, “read-only” basically means locking the file so changes can’t be made. It’s important for backups, especially sequential backups (like let’s say your company keeps separate backups for each week), because it provides an information trail of the status of the file on different dates; if the file is editable in backup it can’t be used to prove, say, a task was completed and logged by a certain date because someone might have changed it. But if you restore from backup you’ll still have a live file–it may need to be renamed or unlocked to use it as the master.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Thanks, so much, folks!

        There’s only two of us that have access to these computers.

        Sadly, there are no permissions. I have to call for the simplest things. Just as an example: We had a problem that caused us hundreds of hours of work to trace through and find out what went wrong. Well, we did what was needed. After all was said and done, I received notice that there was a setting that could be changed that would have prevented that problem from happening in the first place. I had to call to get that setting changed. It’s like this all. the. time.

        Back to current thing. Lore, I get what you are saying here. I sound like a stickler but I know I will be asked, we should make a copy of the locked file before unlocking it, right? Just as a CYA move?

        As you can tell I am concerned about getting blindsided by some unforeseen here. I do feel better about calling, though. So, thank you all, for that.

        1. Lore*

          We’re about to reach the end of my knowledge but I think it depends on how the backups are archived. If you keep, say, backups every day going back a week and every week going back a year, and they live on a particular server, I think the backup will stay where it is even if you later take one of those files and “reactivate” it as your live database, which presumably stores to a different location.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            Ah, very good. Thank you.

            I think that what my higher ups want and what is doable with the technology will match up to a point. Then after that their requests are going to not be doable.
            Well, I will take the bull by the horns on Monday and see what happens next. It will be good to get this task done, even if the answers are only satisfying up to a point for TPTB.
            Thanks, again!

  36. Jen RO*

    I supervise a small team of people, all of them new to this particular job and the working world in general (from 0 to 3 years experience.) I am happy with some of them, and not so happy with others.

    My questions: Can I choose which ones to mentor? Is it wrong if I focus on the ones who show the most potential? Should I focus on the ones who are struggling? Should they come to me or should I reach out to them? I am feeling a bit overwhelmed and overworked, and I’m starting to wonder if it’s even worth it when one of them doesn’t seem to really care about doing a good job and making a good impression, and one of them is so naive it hurts. (And then I feel mean for thinking that. But I have people who have been in the job for a month and show more potential!)

    I am not talking about the usual training, of course I am focusing on them equally, I am thinking more about stretch assignments. It’s not normal if I trust a new employee more than someone who’s been doing the job for almost a year, right? How do you guys handle this?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      You should attempt to coach the ones who are struggling (and should eventually replace them if you’re not able to raise their performance to a high bar), but it’s absolutely reasonable to invest the majority of development energy into the people with the most potential. That’s typically where it will pay off the most, and so it’s the smartest investment.

      That said, do be sure that you’re addressing the issues with the weaker people too. For instance, with that one who doesn’t seem to care about doing a good job, I’d have a candid conversation with them about what they need to be doing differently and the prospect that you won’t keep them in the role if you don’t see those changes, and then expect to either see significant improvement in a relatively short time period or replace the person.

      But that’s sort of the managing 101 stuff, stuff that you pretty much have to do as a baseline so hopefully goes without saying! When it comes to stretch assignments and developing people who are already good, it’s totally reasonable to focus on the people who have shown they’ll be able to take that sort of investment and run with it.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Maybe you have done this one some where and I am not seeing. But it might make a great stand alone post: “Why you cannot treat all employees exactly the same and no, it’s not unfair.”

      2. Jen RO*

        I forgot to check back on Friday, but thank you for the reply! I’m doing the management 101 stuff already (doing it right, I hope!), I am just confused about the management 102 things. And I’m happy that the way I’ve been handling them is fine :)

  37. Megan*

    So the big, big boss in my organization has taken me under his wing. There will be a position opening up in upper management in a couple of years, and he’s made it clear that he wants me in it. Woo hoo, right? Well, in the interim he wants me to get some experience in other departments to prepare me for management. He’s told me to apply for some positions that are coming up next month, even though I technically don’t have the normal qualifications. I know that I’d be able to do the work without a problem – but there are a few people who have applied for these positions time and time again who would be livid. How do you balance a situation like this? It’s great to have the support of the big boss, but it’s awkward at the same time. Do I make sense?

    1. Graciosa*

      I’d like to make sure I understand the question.

      Are you considering not applying to higher level positions (with the support of the big, big boss) that you can perform successfully because other people who have tried and failed to obtain these positions will be unhappy?

      I’m really hoping this is not your question, despite the fact that it kind of answers itself. Anyone who holds themselves back to try to please less successful performers deserves the natural consequences of that decision.

      If your question was not what do you do but how do you behave, the short answer is professionally – no matter who else in your organization chooses to behave otherwise.

      1. Megan*

        When the question is rephrased like this, and like Not So NewReader put it, it’s pretty plain to see. Thanks!

    2. Not So NewReader*

      I have seen this one a few times. “Sue got the job because she is being groomed for management- meanwhile I am more qualified I should have gotten the job.” [Said with sarcastic tone.]

      Remember these remarks happen because someone does not understand why they are not qualified or why they did not get accepted for the job. This could be because a boss has not explained to them that they need to beef up A, B and C, or they are insisting on doing D and E after being told not to. It also could be that they do not understand how close to the exit door they are standing.

      The simple fact that they are complaining in such a manner is a clue itself as to what is wrong.

      Tell yourself that you can not slow down to accommodate them.
      Tell yourself that when you are a manager sometimes people might get angry with you, so this is practice for that.
      You can also remind yourself that you will not be in that position forever and it will be open again. Hopefully at that point they will be ready for the spot.

      If you fear for your safety or fear that someone will sabotage your work, keep a journal (at home) of what you are witnessing. If you need to go to the boss for back up you will have the journal to present to him. Direct threats should be reported immediately.

      To handle the day-to-day conversations, use this rule of thumb: Talk with the angry people the same way you speak to everyone else- professional, courteous, helpful. Silently hold your ground- this is your job, you earned it, never doubt that.

  38. Paranoid*

    I’m fairly sure I’m being paranoid, but wanted more opinions on this so I can stop worrying about it.

    I’m on a team of 14 people that work in the same cubicle area. I’m “work-friends” with four of them (we all eat lunch together everyday, chat occasionally during work, help each other out a lot). I’m friendly with a few others (will chat with them if I bump into them), and the rest I never really interact with unless I have to. I wanted to get me and my four buddies a toy to keep in our cubicles that’s a bit of an inside joke, but I was worried that if 1/3rd of the team had this toy (a toy other people might like if they saw it), it might hurt people’s feelings. Like I was excluding 2/3rds of the team or something.

    Am I being paranoid?

    I feel like two or three people having something special isn’t excluding anyone, while leaving two or three people out would be an obvious effort to exclude. Not sure what’s okay in between.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      I think paranoid is a bit strong. Concerned might work better. If your work place is petty and constantly complaining- then no, don’t do this.
      But if you don’t see that, then I guess it might be alright.

      I would be more concerned about having toys at work than how a few specific people would react to it.

  39. Jean*

    This question grew out of my response to Katamia. To those of you who manage to combine a paying job, an avocational passion (which may or may not also be a present or future source of income), and some sort of personal life…how do you do it? I’m not trying to complain or humble-brag about life blessings (e.g., need to nourish relationships with spouse; adolescent child with Asperger’s and ADHD; family; friends; professional contacts) but lack of home work space and an inability to skimp on sleep means I’m often frustrated about adding another set of plates into the juggling act. Do I need to get better at setting priorities? Or am I being unrealistic? There are only 24 hours in each day. Maybe I need to think more long-range rather than hoping to do everything at the same time.

    1. MAB*

      I don’t have a child but I do a lot of “off the job personal actives”. I own a horse whom I train and would like to compete on someday (that is a part time job right there), knit, pirate event in the spring through summer (think SCA but pirate themed), ballroom dance and have an active social group the juggling act is in how I set my priorities. During the winter, I do more at home events, more crafting and ‘double up” on social activities like going to the bar with friends and knit, or have friends out to the barn. During the summer whole weekends are taken up by eventing in which I will craft or read at and are also huge social events.

      Its all about what you need in a day. If hanging out with your kid and spouse makes you happy, then awesome! If you need more you activity time then figure out what it is and carve out 1-2 hours a week for it.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      I am not sure what you want to add to the mix, so I am not sure if this helpful.
      I have a theory that about every 5-7 years our needs shift and our priorities shift. It seems like every 7 years I have to change my kitchen cupboards around because my diet has changed, AGAIN. That is how I noticed this.

      Everything can’t be at preference level A. There are needs and then there are wants. Adding to the confusion needs can turn out to be wants and wants can turn out to be needs. Good times. NOT.

      For me, I watch my time in the same manner I watch my budget. I am always on the look out to cut costs and I am always on the look out for things that waste my time. Dry cleaning: Cannot be bothered- it’s about 15 miles to the nearest dry cleaner. I avoid dry cleanable clothes and use those dryer sheet things for the few dry clean only things I have. The idea here is look for things that are just time and energy pits. Maybe dry cleaning is not a deal for you- so bump to looking around for stuff you could save time on.

      I ended up giving away a lot of knick-knacks, pictures and such because dusting it takes too long. I’d rather play with my dog. See, this is what kicks in a sharper sense of who you are and what is actually important to you. Think about goals – short, medium and long term. Put pen to paper and estimate a time line. See what you come up with. In my life, it’s been constant revisions! ;)

    3. Ruffingit*

      I cut my schedule drastically awhile back because my paying job was taking a lot of time and I felt like I needed the time back that those activities were taking. I need to veg out more than I needed to do those activities. And I am married, have two dogs, etc. So there are things I need to devote time to on a personal level also.

      So really, I think it’s about figuring out what you need, what’s important to you and how much time you want to give to those things. It’s important to me to have some free time each night to read AAM, watch Netflix, read, etc. So I set up my schedule to accommodate that need. Figure out what is important to you, really important, not what you feel you SHOULD care about (but actually don’t care about a lot or at all).

  40. Persephone Mulberry*

    Update to last week’s frustration with our newish admin (threw an overdue project in my lap claiming she was “too swamped” to finish it): after getting the time-sensitive part of the project taken care of, I did send an email to my (even newer) manager expressing my frustration at the last-minute-ness of Slacker Admin’s request and pointing out that she’d been blowing off this project since before Thanksgiving. Manager replied that he wasnt aware of the background of the project and that he’d “have a talk” with Slacker Admin. So far I have been impressed with New Manager (he’s been with us about 3 weeks), so I think he will be keeping a close eye on Slacker Admin’s actual workload relative to her claims of busyness.

  41. voluptuousfire*

    I’m excited! I go on vacation Tuesday and I get to see some really dear friends I rarely get to see. Too bad they’re in Europe an I’m in the US. :| But again, it does give me a great excuse to go to Europe!

    I also have a phone screen for what sounds like a promising role within a recruitment software company. I like the product and I kept an eye on their website for opportunities. I wrote a great cover letter and I got an email about a phone screen on Christmas Eve. I’ve had a crappy track record this month with interviews and it’s nice to have something promising lined up for when I come back. The funny thing is that I had phone screened with this same person back in 2012 for another role in another company. It’s certainly a small world.

  42. Quiet Achiever*

    This thread might have run its course but I’ve been wanting to ask this for a while now so here goes.
    I have been in my office for about 18 months now. I perform quality work, I’m helpful and proactive with probelm solving/averting, friendly and punctual. Also I stay back when required. They call me “the quiet achiever”. About 6 months ago, a loud pushy woman started and she is now getting perks that I could use, such as a bit of weekend overtime. I have not been offered this at all and I think it is because I keep my head down and pump out the work. This woman asks loudly if she should do thinkgs that I do as a matter of course, such as “keeping an eye on” the centralised email box for urgent documents. This same woman coused a lot of unhappines in a meeting recently when she chose to question the manager about shift coverage and the hours of work of others, which is none of her business.

    I don’t hate this woman, I just want to know how I can get my achievements recognised and how I can get some of the perks this woman gets.

    1. Ollie*

      Just wanna say I can emphasize with being a “quiet achiever” that sees “loud people” get more appreciation/attention just because they’re loud, even if they aren’t doing their job any better you (or are actually doing worse!).

      I’m not sure how to get achievements recognized, but could you just ask about the perks? “I heard Loud Woman did some overtime over the weekend. That’s something I’d be interested in too if possible.” Or is it more complicated than that?

      1. Quiet Achiever*

        Thanks for the reply Ollie. I don’t think it is necessarily more complicated. I’ll try the approach you suggest. It’s good advice.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Never underestimate the power of one-on-one private conversations.

          You sound like you would make legitimate, thoughtful requests. That is an added plus- please, don’t take that for granted.

          Always remember, people who pump out the work have huge credibility automatically. So let’s say you decide you really need a new monitor to do your job. Go tell the boss that you need a new monitor and why you need a new monitor. Then trust that the boss will listen to you and she will do her best to get that for you. That’s just an example.
          Figure out what is important to you and inquire about it. Don’t let yourself sit there and dwell on it.

  43. Uncivil*

    I have a question regarding how to handle marriage-related questions at work…

    My SO and I are in a situation that is perhaps unique. In accordance with our faith, we will be marrying in a religious ceremony on 12/31 (NYE), God and our closest friends our only witnesses. We will have no officiant, never mind a civil ceremony. We have elected not to marry in the eyes of the law, but in the eyes of God alone. (It’s a very personal decision in accordance with our faith, and we fully respect that others might choose civil marriage.) We have invited 7 of our closest friends for a NYE party at our home and our wedding will be a part of that, a few hours before midnight. This is something we discussed in mid-2013 and have just been waiting for the right time.

    My issue is with my coworkers. They are generally nice people. However, the few coworkers who know I’m in a long-term relationship keep asking me questions like “When is he going to pop the question”, “When are you getting married”, “How long are you going to keep living in sin”, “Do you want to get married”, “What kind of dress do you want”, and I’ve even been asked which church I will be marrying in. Most of my coworkers are of a different religion that is the dominant religion in our community, so I understand their assumptions. However, they are incorrect assumptions. For example, in my faith, men are not obligated to propose (in fact, neither of us proposed; it was a mutual discussion), it’s not considered sinful to cohabitate before marriage, we don’t have the traditions of a white dress and tux, we do not marry in a church, etc.

    Moreover, after we marry, we do not intend to present ourselves as married to the outside world, since we won’t be legally married. So, when my coworkers ask when we are getting married, I would be uncomfortable saying that we’re already married. I also don’t want my manager to get the impression that we are legally married and forward inaccurate information to HR or benefits/payroll regarding my legal marital status. HR/benefits don’t need to know about my wedding at all, since nothing is changing legally speaking.

    How do I professionally handle polite and well-meaning questions from my coworkers? I don’t feel like they’re mean-spirited at all, they are just working off a set of assumptions that don’t apply to me.

    Thanks, as always, to the excellent AAM community for your help!

    1. Persephone Mulberry*

      People AT WORK actually ask you to your face when you’re going to “stop living in sin”?!? I can’t even.

      In any case, I’d respond to ALL questions with “Apollo and I are both happy with our current status, thanks. How ’bout them TPS reports?”

      1. Marcy*

        Yes- I had a boss do that before I got married. I also had a coworker tell me “God hates divorce” when she found out I was divorced.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        I can’t believe the people ask about living in sin, incredible.
        Okay, then. Maybe you can say you don’t like to discuss religious points at work.

        Since this seems to be an on-going thing, take a moment to analyze what you can change about what you are doing in order to stop it.
        It might mean saying, “Gee, you ask me that a lot. Please stop asking.”

        The first one or two times I might give people the benefit of the doubt. But if you see the same behavior three times you have a pattern. Stop giving them the benefit of the doubt and say something. It could be as simple as “Wow. That is an awfully personal comment.”

        I cannot imagine making such a remark to a coworker. Just. wow.

    2. Belle Gold*

      I tend to go with – “Oh, we haven’t decided that yet. So, how is your work/hobby/whatever?”

    3. Jackie*

      Since you say you don’t plan on presenting yourselves as married to the outside world, can you just tell your coworkers that you never plan on getting married, and then end the conversation there. If they ask more questions, just say you prefer to no longer talk about it.

  44. Cee*

    Just wanted to update everyone on the job interview I posted about in the work open thread last week. I ended up having a second interview on Monday and it went well, but they got back to me today and said they were going forward with another candidate. I sent them a gracious thank you email asking for feedback and stating that I hope they keep me in mind for future openings, etc.

    1. Marcy*

      That is a great way to handle it. I have been rejected for two jobs that I ended up getting later when the person they chose the first time around didn’t work out. You just never know.

      1. Cee*

        I’m still sad about it, but reading this site has given me valuable perspective and I’m not devastated like I might have been otherwise.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Good for you. Sounds like you have a pretty healthy perspective. I bet you will find something soon.

    2. nep*

      Good for you. Great way to handle things and make something positive out of a negative outcome. Congratulations and all the best to you.

  45. Anon Accountant*

    Late to the open thread but wanted to ask. At what point do you get to when you take a position you aren’t excited about just to escape your current job?

    When readers write about they’re in a toxic environment and need to leave at what point is it advisable to take a position offered even if you aren’t excited about it to leave their current job?

    1. Beezus*

      When the idea of spending a year at the new unexciting position is less repellent than spending the time you think it might take at your current toxic job to find something more ideal. It’s not easy to know when you’ve reached that point, though. I’ve been there before, and the best advice I can offer is to do your homework in the new position to make sure you know what you’re getting into, and don’t make the decision in the heat of the moment, after a particularly horrible day or series of days at the toxic job.

  46. Gingerbread*

    This is for you project managers out there. I know a variation of this question has been asked many times, but what are your duties at work and what field do you work in? I’m a recent grad with no previous PM experience but am happy to have been able to land a position as PM for a retail design/wholesale company.

    My responsibilities include carrying out email marketing (from creating the graphics to sending the emails to customers), managing the company’s social media pages, running/analyzing sales/operations reports, posting job listings and reviewing resumes, preparing sales agreements, and assisting the VP with budgeting and other accounting work.

    My question is: is it normal for a PM’s duties to vary this much? I truly love my job, but I’m afraid that, since my duties vary so much, I won’t be as good at completing the tasks as someone that just focuses on a few of them.

  47. Anonyby*

    And I’m late to the thread, but I have a fashion-related question…

    So there’s been several threads debating what’s work-appropriate to wear… But what about purses/bags? Do you pay attention to others’ bags at all? I tend to go for colorful and quirky, but I’m wondering if that might count against me especially in job hunting.

    For instance, I just purchased an expensive brand bag, but with “kiddie” cartoon images on it. I tend to just use one bag day after day, so that I don’t have to spend time swapping between bags and possibly forgetting important things.

    1. Graciosa*

      Yes, I do pay attention to bags. Based on comments I’ve received at work, I am definitely not alone in this.

      That said, the rule here should be the same as the rule for almost any other aspect of your professional image. Look around at what successful people do so you can make informed decisions about how to present yourself. If you’re interviewing, you should be trying to find a culture that suits you.

      On a practical note, I keep most of what goes in my bag in a lightweight travel pouch, which makes it easy to change bags (my wallet is separate, but that’s still not a lot to move).

      1. Anonyby*

        Thank you!

        I tend to not notice bags as much, especially at work where they just go in/under the desk and aren’t seen often. Plus, I grew up in a house that was NOT fashion-conscious, and my mother used one purse to death before moving on to the next.

        I purchased one of those “Kangaroo Keeper” organizers to try to get my stuff organized in something to make it easy to move from one bag to another… That ended up not working for me. I tend to just throw things in my purse while I’m busy doing something else, which defeats the whole purpose of the organizer.

    2. LoFlo*

      I always carry ONE nice bag for work and use it to death. The bag is large enough for a lap top if needed. I saw a Glamour do and don’t one time that called out women who carried multiple bags and it always stuck with me.

  48. sue smaller*

    I have a question:

    I was recruited by a temp to hire agency to go to work for Farmers Insurance. I’m in IT.

    The term is supposed to last for six months, then, if all went well, I was supposed to get converted. All along, I have had weekly meetings with the temp agency, and, every week, they have assured me that my position is permanent and I’m on track to being hired. I even have outstanding written feedback about my performance from Farmers Insurance management. My immediate manager at Farmers has lauded my work, as has his manager. My manager at Farmers has emphasized over and over that the position was intended to be permanent, and that he intended to hire me. Two weeks ago, about one month before my term was up, the manager at the consulting company stated that my manager’s manager at Farmers had said there was a “hiring freeze” and that Farmers couldn’t bring me on board at this time, but they would extend my contract. Even after I told this to my immediate manager at Farmers, he insisted that he was planning on making me permanent.

    I looked out on the internet for people’s experiences regarding temp to hire positions, and, lo and behold, many temp to hire situations result in people being told that there is a “hiring freeze.” The people this happens to state that they think there was no intention of ever making them permanent, that the temp to hire was just a ruse to get good people to work at Farmers.

    Now, I don’t believe for an instant that there is an actual freeze, because I have overheard management discussing offers they were going to give to other contractors. Even the manager at the consulting firm agrees that others are ahead of me in the hiring process.

    I don’t know why Farmers would suddenly change their mind about me..I’m taking this personally. I took the job because I was unemployed at the time, and I’ve spent a considerable amount of money moving from one part of the country to another to take this job. The manager at the consulting firm has been pressuring me to complete the move, and helping me out with it. They’ve kept up the pressure in spite of the “freeze.”

    I’m floored. I think I was misled all along. In actual matter of fact, about half of the people working in IT at Farmers are contractors. I know of one or two people who were converted, about seven years ago. Many extremely competent people still work at Farmers as consultants, people I would consider super stars. Now, I’m no slouch; I worked for one of the best companies in my field for much of my career and have a stellar resume. But I’m on the far side of 30 (I’m approaching 60). I’m good at what I do and I have skills not many people have, which is why I got hired in the first place. But I’m no spring chicken, and possibly this is why I haven’t been hired. Who knows?

    I guess I need to get my resume dusted off and out there; that’s certainly the next logical step.

    But I feel too upset to do much of anything. I really knocked myself out at Farmers. Because I kept my apartment on the other side of the country, I left most of my clothes behind. So I even bought a “mini” wardrobe, more conservative than my wardrobe at home so I could look good to Farmers management. I even bought a new car through a relative of the consulting firm. (Most people in D.C. use public transportation.)

    I feel sorry for my coworkers at Farmers; for the most part, they have bent over backwards to bring me on board. To what end? My manager at Farmers states that I rescued a major project right at the beginning of my term. I’m thinking that, before blowing the whistle on these people, I should ask my manager at Farmers for a “to whom it may concern” letter about my exploits there.

    Just sign me, Sad in Seattle.

    1. Colette*

      I work in an industry that regularly experiences hiring freezes, and often there’s no obvious reason why. (Record profits, so we can’t replace the teapot designer who left?) It’s also rarely personal – if they didn’t like you, they would just let your contract end.

      Maybe they’re playing games, or maybe it’s legitimate. Either way, you haven’t been offered a permanent job, so … now what? Do you want to start seriously looking elsewhere? Take the extension and hope they’ll eventually find budget to hire you? Move back to the other side of the country?

      1. Ruffingit*

        Agreed with Colette. I really wouldn’t take this personally because it would appear, given the number of contractors you’re working with, that very few people get converted. Are they lying to you? Maybe, maybe not, but either way you’ve got to go with what you’re being told, which is that there is a hiring freeze. Personally, I’d get my resume dusted off and out there. If you want to move back to DC, start looking for work there and use your old apartment’s address when you do so since you’re technically still a resident there.

        Basically, I think it helps to just look at this as what is in your best interest. Whether or not these people are playing games with you just doesn’t matter. What matters is your livelihood so rather than be upset with what is going on, figure out what you need to do that is going to be best for you. If your manager at the consulting firm is pressuring you to complete the move, you can say that since there’s a hiring freeze, it makes no sense to do so as there is nothing permanent to keep you in Seattle so you’ve got to start looking forward for your own financial protection.

    2. LoFlo*

      I worked for a competitor of Farmer’s and and this was a common practice with the IT contractors. Constant revolving doors of an IT contracting staff of about 400.

  49. Schuyler*

    It’s been a difficult past few days. My cat was diagnosed with congestive heart failure and kidney problems in October; he spent a couple nights in the ER at that point. With medication, he was improving wonderfully and was back to his old self… but then on Friday I took him back to the ER because he wasn’t doing well. They may be able to let him go tomorrow.

    I don’t know what to do. I can’t afford these kinds of vet bills every two months… but I don’t want to give up on him, either. He’s the sweetest guy; so handsome, gentle and such a good temperament. I’ve always loved the cats and dogs we had when I was growing up, but I have never been so attached to a cat before, and I’m not as attached to his brother (not really, but they were together in the humane society) either. At this point I guess I’m just trying to be optimistic and not cry too much, and needed to get it out somewhere.

    1. Schuyler*

      Oh geez. I’m sorry. I thought this was the Sunday open thread… I don’t know how I missed that. I’m sufficiently embarrassed!

      1. justine*

        It’s ok Schuyler. What ever you decide for kitty he’ll know you’re doing it with his best interests in mind.

    2. Agile Phalanges*

      I’m so sorry. I’m in a similar situation. My favorite cat (I have three, one is my son’s and one basically has no personality) was first diagnosed with kidney disease, then heart disease. She can no longer have anesthesia, nor the treatment for kidney disease (fluids, which increase the volume her heart must pump). Fortunately, she’s still in relatively good health, but I have had the expensive vet bills, and weighing the value of certain tests vs. the cost vs. what I’d be willing to pay in treatment (infinite if I had the money, unfortunately I don’t, plus not all treatments are advisable or would do much good anyway).

      So my sympathies, and I hope you get plenty of time with your kitty, and if you have to make the hardest decision of all, that it’s clear. I worry that in my case, I’ll wait too long and put my kitty through too much pain out of selfishness.

      Also, this is morbid, but you may want to look into at-home euthanasia in advance of actually needing it. I already confirmed with my vet that she’ll do this, and I think it’ll be so much better both for the privacy for myself and the stress to my kitty–she actually likes riding in the car, but HATES the vet’s office. I’ve heard positive comments from people who have opted for it, so wanted to make sure it’d be available to me and my kitty when the time comes.

      Hugs and headbutts from me and my kitty.

  50. Ari*

    I’m super late and I doubt anyone’s looking here anymore, but my question’s pretty quick, so I thought I’d try posting.

    I applied for a position right before the holidays and then took a short break from job hunting, since I figured there wouldn’t be much activity last week anyway. Today I’m back at it, and I noticed that the same job has been reposted, but with a different contact person. Should I resend my cover letter and resume to this new contact, or is it safe to assume that the other contact person will forward my materials if they think I’m a strong prospect? I don’t want to seem too pushy.

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