open thread – January 9, 2015

It’s the Friday open thread!

The comment section on this post is open for discussion with other readers on anything work-related that you want to talk about. If you want an answer from me, emailing me is still your best bet*, but this is a chance to talk to other readers.

* If you submitted a question to me recently, please don’t repost it here, as it may be in the to-be-answered queue :)

{ 1,050 comments… read them below }

  1. Christy

    I work for a government agency and I’m currently on a temporary (promotional) assignment to another office. The other office approached me about working for them because of my SharePoint skills. I’m really enjoying working with them and I’m learning a ton more about SharePoint. Plus I’m getting a little burned out on my own office. The assignment was only supposed to be 60 days, then it got extended to 120 days. My temporary boss just said he could extend it to 180 days. Should I take it? (Reading the above paragraph, it seems obvious that I should take it. Let me explain my hesitation below.)

    I hesitate because my home office is really swamped. We just had one of our seven employees leave, and we won’t be able to hire behind her. I really like my boss and feel bad that I’m leaving him swamped. (Did I mention that I am still sitting at my regular cubicle when I’m not teleworking?) But like, the other half of our office is full of ineffective employees and if the office really needed to accomplish everything it wants to, it could draw from those (at least) three employees. There was also a lot of pushback from management about going on temporary assignments, which has lessened since the big boss went on a temporary assignment herself. Grr.

    Ok, I guess the decision is clear. Can I just get a little encouragement from the AAMers that I’m doing the right thing here? I think I need a little cheerleading. Thanks y’all.

    1. College Career Counselor

      While it’s important to be a team player, you’re not responsible for your current office’s mismanagement. If they’re willing to allow you to keep extending with the other office (and you like the work), I say go for it!

      1. Christy

        They don’t really have a choice about extending with the other office–because it’s a promotion for me, they need to have a really good reason to deny it. (I work for the federal government and it’s a union rule.)

        1. YourCdnFriend

          This information really solidifies my support that you should take the extension. It’s more enjoyable and it’s a promotion! Definitely go for it!

    2. MaryMary

      Don’t let guilt make you pass up a career opportunity. Like you said, your home office has options if they really are over capacity. For one, they could end your temporary assignment and have you come back! It’s natural that you care about what happens to your home office team, but it’s not your responsibility to fix it. The opportunity is still open, it sounds like it is good for you, so go for it.

    3. Dawn

      Go and don’t look back. Your old office will manage, and whatever happens after you leave has nothing to do with you. Your manager will completely understand- this is BUSINESS, it’s not personal at all!

    4. Katie the Fed

      It’s fine. This kind of stuff happens all the time – and like you’ve seen the bosses will ultimately do what benefits them even if they expect you to stay loyal.

      60 days is nothing – we’ve had people extend for YEARS!

      I say go for the extension – if it’s that big of a problem they’ll demand you return. Otherwise you’re fine. But I would make sure that your new assignment supervision is who’s rating you – you don’t want a bitter boss from the home office pinging you in your rating because you weren’t at the mothership (been there, done that).

      1. Christy

        In our office it’s commonly known that they will essentially never lower your score on a performance evaluation. I’ve had coworkers explain that basically, I won’t be rated higher than I am now for years, because then I wouldn’t have any room for growth.

        It’s a good thought, and I wouldn’t know how that’s handled. I wonder if there are back channels I can ask through. If I got pinged on the evaluation I would be pissed, but at least the signal to job search would be really clear.

        1. Katie the Fed

          Check your agency’s rules. A lot of the times we let things slide that are supposed to be happening. For example if you’re detailed more than 90 days somewhere, the new organization is supposed to issue you performance objectives and assign you a rater.

          Now technically we don’t always do that, but if an employee wanted to raise it, they’d be totally in the right to do so.

    5. Anonymous for This

      Not really an answer but since Christy mentioned Sharepoint….
      I am really interested in learning Sharepoint. My employer buying into it in a big way, but my department is not using it yet. Instead we track a lot of our work in a huge shared Excel file that is constantly locking us out (there are 12 users, all in it making changes throughout the day). Everyone except my manager thinks the shared file is next to useless at this point. We are constantly losing data and having to re-enter. Worse, some of our performance metrics are keyed to info tracked in this file.

      I would like to do a mock-up of this on Sharepoint. I am thinking we need an Access back-end for it and my tech skills aren’t quite there yet, but my employer has free courses available online. Any advice?

      1. Christy

        From the very limited amount of information I have about your needs, it doesn’t sound like there’s any need for an Access back end. I’d definitely recommend taking the free classes, since your employer has them. I learned a TON from taking Learning Tree classes about it–I do best in a classroom. Once you have a general introduction (like from the online courses) most everything is googleable.

      2. puddin

        I agree with Christie on the Access Back End being unnecessary based on your info here.

        Take the free courses and ask that a test Sharepoint environment be set up for you. You can monkey around and see all the different functions while you learn. There are a lot of ‘templates’ in Sharepoint as well. So you will most likely not have to build anything from the ground up unless it is very specific to the needs of your organization.

        If you know of another department that is using it, contact a super-user or admin for that dept and ask to shadow them on it for a few hours. Ask to have access to their sharepoint site just so you can see what it is like for the user as well.

        Good luck building those skills!

    6. Christy

      Just wanted to let y’all know–I emailed my temporary manager and told him I’d be interested in extending. Thanks for the encouragement!

    7. Another Job Seeker

      Go for it! Having an attitude where you want the best for your team is excellent, and I commend you for it. You don’t want to sacrifice your career for the team, however.

      I am a SharePoint Administrator, and I’d like to share some resources that are helping me learn about SharePoint.
      – Google “SharePoint Saturday”. SharePoint Saturdays are free, one-day conferences hosted by SharePoint user groups (on Saturdays) all over the world. SharePoint Saturdays include sessions where all things SharePoint are discussed (on-prem, O365, end user, architecture, administration, developer, etc). Some of the SharePoint Saturdays end with the attendees going out to a local restaurant for heavy appetizers and more networking. In these cases, the conference usually pays for the food and non-alcoholic drinks; people can purchase alcoholic drinks on their own if they choose to do so. Who pays for all of this stuff? SharePoint vendors. Firms that help organizations install, migrate, manage and use SharePoint sign up to handle the conference fees. They have (non-intrusive) booths at the conferences. Attendees can visit the vendors and learn about their offerings. This is particularly helpful if you are responsible for developing a strategy designed to integrate SharePoint into your organization’s infrastructure. You can identify the products and services that are available to you and determine which ones will work for you, your team and your stakeholders.
      – Check out meetup dot com and search for SharePoint. Meetup meetings (which are called “meetups”) are groups of people who have similar interests. Most meetups meet on a monthly basis. The SharePoint Meetup group I attend features speakers (often SharePoint vendors or users) who talk about SharePoint. The vendors are often consultants who talk about ways organizations can use SharePoint, plan for its use, and encourage end-user support of the product. Meetups are usually free. I have, on occasion, heard of Meetup attendees being asked to pay for the sessions. The SharePoint Meetup group I am part of, however, is free.

      Hope you enjoy SharePoint. I helped the previous SharePoint Administrator (creating sites, providing end-user support, etc). I accepted the SharePoint Administrator role just under a year ago, and I love the work! I have found it to be both interesting and challenging. The SharePoint community is friendly, intelligent and creative. I have learned quite a bit from other SharePoint users and I hope that you can do the same.

  2. Chocolate Teapot Eater

    How much time off is appropriate to ask for when you get a job offer? I have an interview coming up for a full-time bank teller position and while mentally I will assume I didn’t get it and move on I want to be prepared. It is one of the largest banks in the country and there are dozens if not hundreds of teller reviews on glassdoor where many say they move really quickly.

    I’m fine taking it unpaid but I would be asking for a week off at the end of February for my honeymoon and I would need a Friday and Monday off in March for a family wedding. Is that too much? I’m also finishing my graduate degree long distance (I followed my spouse for his job) and would like time to go defend my thesis (probably in March) and attend graduation (May). Is the school stuff what pushes it over the line? Also add in my grandfather is sick and I will probably need a trip home to attend his funeral.

    1. Colette

      That’s a lot of time off in a short time. I could justify the honeymoon and defending your thesis (and the funeral – that’s not really an advance request, though), but I think you want to minimize the number of separate requests. Could you attend the family wedding without taking 2 days off? Is it important to you that you be there? What about graduation? Is it important to you to attend, or would it just be nice to be there?

      When you add up all of those days (5 days honeymoon, 2 days family wedding, 1 day thesis, 1 day graduation), that’s close to 10 days in 2 months, assuming you can do the thesis and graduation trips in one day.

      1. Cat

        But the graduation is in May, which is months off. This would all be totally fine at my workplace, so I guess it depends on the feel you get while interviewing.

        1. Colette

          A lot of people don’t take 10 days in a year, so 10 days in 3 months is a lot. That doesn’t mean it’s not possible, but how feasible it is is hard to tell from the outside. I do think it’s good to evaluate which events are really important. Which ones would you turn down the job over?

          1. Cat

            I guess, but honestly, 10 days in a year still feels like an inhumanly low amount of vacation time to me. And OP is offering to take it unpaid. And a week of it is the honeymoon (which people usually take 2-3 weeks for in my office). So I guess again, it’s a vibe thing and will depend on how much vacation time is offered.

            1. Sarah in DC

              Are you in the US Cat? I don’t know if Chocolate Teapot Eater is either, but in my experience in the US 10 days is a pretty standard amount of yearly time off and 3 weeks all at once would be rare, especially if you want to have time off at any other point during the year.

              1. Cat

                Yes, I am. Vacation time at my office is 3-4 weeks depending on seniority, 4 federal holidays that you can work and get a swap day for, and you can go up to a week negative. I get that a lot of places aren’t like that, but some are, particularly in certain industries.

              2. Chocolate Teapot Eater

                I am in the US. I don’t have a problem taking it unpaid. I know it’s pretty extreme though.

            2. lawsuited

              2 weeks vacation per year is probably pretty normal for a starting compensation package for a bank teller, which is a frontline service position.

          2. Mike C.

            I don’t see what’s so unreasonable about this, given the nature of the events going on and that they were planned well in advance. I would understand not all of that vacation being paid leave, but to say “well, do you reallllly need to be at your own graduation?” is a bit much in my book.

        2. rocky

          But the ten days are from the end of February to sometime in May. 19 days in 2-3 months. While an established employee might be fine doing that, someone new risks looking bad by asking for that much while they are still settling in.

          1. Iro

            Actually we had a new hire take a ton of time off right off the bat. He was honest about it during the interview process (he had won a bunch of pro sports tickets) but it really wasn’t a problem.

      1. fposte

        I think it’s actually easier to take one big whack, though, because it’s pretty much one question and it doesn’t look like continual pushing. I might therefore try to “umbrella” CTE’s question to avoid it turning into “And could I take this other day? And could I take this other day?” I’d go instead for “I have a honeymoon booked and a couple of other short-term commitments coming up in the next four months; could we talk about the possibility of my time off for the nine committed days and how that would work?”

        1. Colette

          Yeah, I’m picturing trying to train someone who is gone for a week, then a Friday and Monday, a random Tuesday, one Thursday a couple of weeks later ….

          1. Cat

            I . . . guess I don’t see why that that’s hard. Most jobs don’t have 4 months straight of training and if they do, you just schedule around that? The same way you would for an existing employee.

            1. fposte

              Well, most jobs don’t start you with ten days of vacation, either.

              But conversationally, it’s not about the schedule, it’s about avoiding the “nickel-and-diming” flavor. Think of it as a friend who asked you for $10, and you gave it to her, and then she said “I also need five for something,” and you gave it to her, and then she said “I also need a buck more” and contrast her with the friend who just says “Hey, could I borrow $16?”

              1. Cat

                Yeah, I get it, I just think it’s atrocious. These are all the types of things rational workplaces don’t expect their employees to miss, OP is willing to take them unpaid, and OP is also planning on bringing them all up upfront. I understand that many, many American workplaces wouldn’t be okay with it; it just makes me angry.

                1. Moonpie

                  I understand that from your perspective, but I think you might be missing the business’s view. If I’m hiring a teller, I have reviewed my current staffing and determined that I need more coverage. I may also have specifically determined that I’m about to have another teller out on maternity leave or going back to school or any number of other circumstances. I’ll be flexible where I can, but my priority is appropriately serving our customers. And while the new hire’s requests may be perfectly reasonable things to ask for, they aren’t made in a vacuum; I have other team members who have already scheduled their time off before the new hire comes on the scene.

                2. Mike C.

                  You won’t be able to have the kind of employees that can properly serve your business in the long term if you prevent your employees from participating in rare, significant and culturally important milestone event such as weddings and graduations. These aren’t common and they don’t come up out of nowhere.

                3. the_scientist

                  Agreed. I’m also not in the US and 10 days of vacation would be absurdly low for most white-collar/professional gigs. 10 days (two weeks) is the bare minimum for entry level employees (we’re talking like right out of university here), going up to three within a year or two. I just accepted a new offer that is an entry level-ish position and comes with FOUR weeks paid vacation in addition to more than 10 paid sick days per year.

                  And as Mike C said below- these are all significant milestones. Yes, from the hiring manager’s perspective it’s not ideal that they are all happening so close together and it’s obviously their prerogative to make hiring decisions based on this….but I really just don’t see it as the end of the world. My former manager took 4 weeks off for wedding + honeymoon within the first 6 months at her job; nobody batted an eye.

                4. fposte

                  I’m not saying it’s a horrible thing to ask; I’m just noting that I think doing it this way will go over better.

                5. fposte

                  @Mike–I’m laughing a little at the notion that weddings are “rare,” though. I work with a lot of twentysomethings, and they’ve got 4-5 weddings to go to per year, plus the ancillary events.

                6. Colette

                  One of the reasons I think this might be a problem is that it’s asking for a day here, a day there … but over 3 months, it’s about 10 days. If I’m the manager in this situation, I’d be wondering whether you’ll then want to take a week off in the summer, or a couple of days off to play golf, or if another family member is going to get married in October, or …. Will it be 10 days this year, or will it be 40 days (10 every quarter)?

                7. Zillah

                  @ Colette – I can see that some people would take it that way, and since we focus on pragmatism, it’s valuable information to have… but I also want to point out that there are a few pretty significant leaps in your logic that IMO, are hugely problematic.

                  People have lives outside of work, and decent workplaces will generally try to work with employees to accommodate that. A honeymoon is not equivalent to a summer vacation, and in fact I’d posit that most people who would otherwise take a summer vacation won’t the year they have their honeymoon because, well, money. Defending a thesis and attending a wedding are also things that don’t happen all that often – and the idea that another wedding in eight months would be A Big Deal is a little silly, especially if the OP takes this time unpaid and accrues vacation time before then.

                  Regardless: if the slippery slope thing was a major concern, it seems to me that the most proactive and reasonable way to address them would be this:

                  “Chocolate Teapot Eater, we’ve looked over the schedule, and we can definitely accommodate your honeymoon. We should be able to work the thesis and wedding out as well, but you’ll have to take the time unpaid, and I do want to make it clear that this won’t generally be an option in the future. Is that okay?”

                8. Colette

                  @Zillah – I don’t think that the employer is responsible for making it clear that that’s it for the year, though. I think Chocolate Teapot Eater needs to be very clear that she knows this is unusual and that she’s not expecting to do this often. I think she also has to be clear in her own mind which ones are deal breakers – I.e. which ones shed turn down the job over – because the employer is not guaranteed to be fine with all of them.

                  I also think she needs to be aware of the optics, which could easily be that she’s not going to last because she’s taking a lot of time off. Her manager will know why, but the average coworker will just know she’s not there…again.

    2. straws

      I think it partially depends on how you approach it, but that it doesn’t hurt to ask whether some or all of it would be feasible. You’d want to be clear that you’re not assuming you can take the time and you’d expect it to be unpaid, but as long as you’re not acting entitled I don’t feel like it’s unreasonable to mention preplanned activities on the chance that you can still commit to them.

    3. Persephone Mulberry

      I think the honeymoon is a given, and I think you could also ask for *either* the wedding or the school stuff, but not both. If you’ve already purchased plane tickets or something for the wedding, that’s also probably more defensible than “because I want to go”.

      1. Chocolate Teapot Eater

        This was my thought. I think I would ask for honeymoon and wedding because everything is already booked. I think I can delay the school stuff no problem.. Thanks everybody for your answers!

      2. Mike C.

        Why is “because I want to go” not a good enough reason to attend a family wedding? I served as a best man to one brother and the officiant to the other, and I would have been devastated to miss those events, as I would have if either of them couldn’t be the best men in my own wedding. This isn’t an off the cuff party, it’s a significant milestone in someone’s life.

        1. Sarah in DC

          For me, the family wedding would be more an issue of do you actually need 2 days off for it? Maybe they really do need those days for travel or whatever and its a question of take the days off or don’t go, but if its possible to adjust plans or miss one of the wedding events I would at least throw that out there when asking for the time off.

        2. Anonsie

          Well there’s what’s reasonable and what’s realistic. I think it’s reasonable to want all of this time off and get it and not be judged for it, as these are are important things and the total time is not massive.

          Realistically, having all of these (even if it’s just a long weekend each time) right when starting a new job is really likely to reflect unfavorably on her and get her branded with some unfair labels right off the bat. I think that’s nuts, but I also think it’s common and she should be aware of it.

        3. Colette

          The importance of the wedding really depends on your relationship with the people getting married, though. I live 3000 km from my family. In the past few years, I’ve missed several family weddings, because I don’t want to spend my vacation time (or money) flying across the country.

          If Chocolate Teapot Eater is really close to the person getting married, she may want to ask for that time off and take the potential hit to her reputation of being the new hire who takes more time off than people who have been there for 10 years. But if she’s not that close, she might want to reconsider whether she really needs to take that time off.

        4. Zillah

          Yeah, I agree. I’d actually find the implication that you were asking for the time off because you’d already bought tickets rather than that you weren’t willing to miss a family wedding to be pretty disingenuous.

    4. Moonpie

      It’s not necessarily too much to ask for, but that really depends on how flexible that particular bank is when it comes to negotiating benefits. You’ll probably sense some of that from the interview process but sometimes it’s hard to tell until you actually get to the offer. I think it would help to go ahead and prioritize your requests ahead of time so you’re not caught off guard if it comes down to making a decision quickly. You’ll probably have a stronger case for your own personal life events where your presence is critical (honeymoon, defending thesis) than attending graduation, a family wedding, etc.

      Also, I’m very sorry about your grandfather, and many companies have a standard bereavement leave that does not have to be factored into your vacation/PTO benefits. Good luck with your interview!

    5. Oh Susannah

      That does sound like a lot to ask for in a short time. Four separate instances (possibly five) in the space of two/three months in a new position would be a lot of time to ask for. It looks like that would add up to in excess of ten days off, depending on the length of the thesis defence and graduation trips.

      I think it’s the family wedding that tips it over, actually. The thesis defence and graduation are fairly standard, I think, and the honeymoon is something pre-arranged. I’d try to minimise the requests as much as you can, though, and discuss at offer stage if that arises. Be clear what you are willing to compromise on (missing the graduation? Shorter trip for the wedding?) and what you’re not.

    6. Katie the Fed

      It doesn’t seem like that big a deal to me, but I can see with being a bank teller they probably have to do a lot of planning to cover.

      Could you frame it as a confluence of unusual events, and that this isn’t at all normal but given these things can you take these chunks of time off. I can’t imagine they’d withdraw the job offer as long as you approach it right and don’t sound entitled.

      1. Brigitte

        This really depends on the hiring manager. I know some branch managers who are awfully willing to accomodate requests, and others who would see it as a deal breaker. For me, the biggest red flag would be the honeymoon, if it comes hot on the heals of hire. I think Chocolate Teapot Eater should absolutely submit the time she needs, but be prepared to either change her honeymoon plans or walk away from the position if it turns out that the branch needs a new teller ASAP, because they’ve been short.

    7. Brett

      The mention of the thesis defense made me wonder…

      Who else has done a defense while employed and did you take time off or were you paid for that day?

      For my defense, I was easily able to classify it as a business related educational trip and not only be paid for those days but receive per diem (though not travel, because that was not budgeted, but in theory could have even had my travel paid). It was basically treated the same as travelling to a conference to present.

      My employer had a clear interest in me completing my degree and my degree was work related. On the flip side, I completed my degree during a wage freeze, so I never received and will never receive any change in pay for it (we do not have automatic increases, but you can only receive an increase at the time the degree is completed so I am forever treated now like I have a BS instead of an MS). So, I guess that single paid day probably saved my employer five figures or more in the long run.

      1. fposte

        Whereas I was working for a university that would definitely benefit from the doctorate, but I took the day off because I didn’t see it as work for them.

      2. So Very Anonymous

        I had a full-time college teaching job in the area my PhD was going to be in, and I think I scheduled the defense for a Friday, which wasn’t a teaching day for me that semester. I did have to fly across the country to do it, though, so it was a big deal travelwise and I probably had to cancel some Thursday classes. Given the nature of the job, it would have been a little churlish of my department to demand that I schedule in a way that meant canceling no classes — I would never have been able to defend, period, if that had been the case, since my degree was from an east coast school and I was teaching on the west coast. And “vacation time” doesn’t work the same way for faculty as it does for nonfaculty. I flew back that Sunday, and taught four classes on Monday. The students in my Monday evening seminar brought me a “congratulations Dr. So Very” cake to celebrate :)

    8. Brigitte

      My husband is a manager for a bank, and based on the conversations we’ve had, I could argue this both ways.

      On one hand, if you have 10 days vacation (which should be your minimum), I can see them granting this….except the week-long honeymoon in February could be tricky. Depending on how they staff the branch, there may be people covering for another teller that left or someone else schedule for vacation. If that’s the case, it wouldn’t matter if you were willing to take the time unpaid or not. They’d need you to be there to fully staff the branch.

      You’ve probably already booked your honeymoon, but is it refundable. Do you have the flexibility to push the dates back?

      If not, you might need to be prepared to learn that your honeymoon is the deal breaker. But that will all depend on the branch and how staffed up they are.

      1. Anna

        I’m going to say of all the things listed, the honeymoon most likely has the least flexibility and most reasonable managers wouldn’t ask someone to postpone it.

        1. Brigitte

          True, but a manager who has been short a month and has another qualified applicant might simply move on to the next person.

          Not saying that’s necessarily or even likely the case, but from a manager’s perspective, it would be a reasonable decision. I’m bringing this up only to say there are reasons for saying that’s not possible — depending on a lot of factors we can’t possibly know of right now.

    9. periwinkle

      FYI, I completed my master’s online too. Instead of flying out there to defend my thesis, I did it from home via GoToWebinar and that worked beautifully. Well, except for the terrifying bit when the committee signed off to discuss my defense in private before giving me the verdict. Eeek! (but that wouldn’t have been any better in person, really)

    10. lawsuited

      What this comes down to is that 10 days vacation for 5 different events a lot to ask when they’ve just hired you, and you are still making your first impression. Once you’ve been working there 18 months and everyone knows you and likes you and are invested in you, of course they wouldn’t say no to you taking time for milestones like your honeymoon, your thesis, etc. But at the time of hire, you’re just a guy (in a stack of other guys who also want the job) who is asking for special accommodation. You might get accommodation for 1 event (say, your honeymoon) just out of general niceness that most people would afford to anybody, but you haven’t yet built the goodwill I reckon be necessary to get accommodation for all 5 events.

    11. Laurie

      When I have changed positions, I have always let the potential employer know what I am receiving for PTO or Vacation time. I find that they are very willing to negotiate paid time off than salary etc. This is in my experience.

    12. Spiny

      A teller probably has Saturday hours, so for some of the time it’s scheduling vs a four day week. That may lessen the impact.

  3. MB

    Any tips on applying for a teaching job at a boarding school? I am about to graduate with my PhD in history and the job is for a combination history/English teacher (long story short I would be able to teach the English part well). The problem is I feel my resume makes me look like I want to teach college. My most recent experience is adjuncting and being a graduate assistant for my university. I do have prior experience substitute teaching for a year and another year teaching younger students in China.

    While I would want to teach at a university the jobs are tough to come by and I have grown to like the idea of teaching extremely motivated high schoolers (it’s a very highly regarded school). Also my spouse has a great job in the area so it would be nice to not struggle for both of us to be happy employment wise.

    In my cover letter I do plan on addressing why a boarding school instead of a college, how I can teach the English component, and what extracurriculars I could do (they specifically ask for this). Any other tips would be appreciated!

    1. CAinUK

      I am considering a similar shift to teaching at a boarding school (my partner also has a great job in my region, but my career options are non-existent and I’ve loved teaching when I’ve done it).

      From speaking with other teachers I know (and doing observations) in the private school sector, they highlight the following: discuss your teaching philosophy (and how it aligns with the school’s ethos – do they focus on pastoral care vs academic achievement?) and what else you can offer the school beyond mere instruction (e.g. coaching, running a club, careers advice, connections to business community to help with work experience, etc.).

      I would not discuss your interest in boarding school vs college. Lots of PhDs go to teach at private schools so it isn’t uncommon, and justifying it may come off oddly (and pre-emptively) defensive and take up valuable letter space to address the school’s real concerns (actual classroom experience, interest in teaching, and contributions to extracurriculars for the students).

    2. Former Diet Coke Addict

      Could you focus on the aspect of being able to prepare students FOR college? Focusing on a strong general backgorund in English/history that will serve them well in university–“as I know from my experience teaching at the university level, students with a strong background in X are at a major advantage in college-level Y, and I would love the opportunity to work with high-achieving students to increase their skills for college” or whatever.

    3. Treena Kravm

      I think you’ll be fine if you really spend time explaining that you enjoy working with high schoolers and how you came to realize that in a little story (leaving out the no college jobs of course). Have you worked with them in the past as a tutor or something similar? If not, is there a volunteer opportunity you can start that has you working with that age group?

    4. College Career Counselor

      I think addressing this in the cover letter is wise–make sure you leave out the difficulties of the college teaching market. Be specific in the extracuriculars you are excited about doing, and be as broad as you can: they need not all be related to the classes you would be teaching. Schools want candidates who can coach, advise the literary magazine, assist with drama clubs, model UN, etc. Be sure to discuss your previous teaching experience with non-college students and how you have found it rewarding and how this has shaped your interest in teaching, as you say, motivated high school students.

      As for additional suggestions, are you doing this as a solo candidate or are you going through one of the many private school teaching agencies? If the latter, those organizations (btw, they should be paid by the school hiring, not by the candidate) can be very useful in helping you craft your materials and target schools. I don’t know where you’re located/looking, but here are some possible suggestions (these are orgs I am familiar with/have worked with): Carney Sandoe (boston-based, but they do the entire US and many other places), Search Associates (specialize in international placements), Cal West Educators (west coast of U.S. and south west), Southern Teachers Agency (south/south east, up to DC).

      If you’re going on your own, some additional resources to look for jobs include: association of delaware valley schools, friends council on education, and the national association of independent schools. They all have job listings on their websites.

      Hope this is useful–good luck!

    5. Ann Furthermore

      I attended 2 boarding schools, but I’ve never taught at any. Where I attended many of the teachers were expected to live on campus and be dorm parents. So I guess my only advice is make sure you get that clarified from the outset. I’m not sure how it works…lower compensation in exchange for free room and board, or if there’s some other arrangement.

      1. blackcat

        Yes, I was going to say exactly this. If you are willing to live on campus, say it–schools often see it as a big perk.

        Be aware that boarding schools are 24/7 learning environments. It is much different than a regular private school, so I suggest you look carefully at the “student life” (or similarly titled) section of their website and see what “after school” activities appeal to you.

        Having taught both college kids and high school at a fancy prep school, I can tell you that the biggest difference is the involvement in the students’ lives. That will go double for a boarding school. I got a late night phone call from a kid worried that their friend was going to hurt herself. I talked with students about racial tensions at the school (science teacher here! so not in my purview, but was in my training–I did a teacher training program). I talked students through break ups, fights with friends, and coping with medical issues. I advised students trying to figure out who they wanted to be as adults. It was exhausting. I had great support (you bet after that late night call, I placed one to the counselor!), but it was emotionally draining. So I discourage people from thinking about teaching at a prep school as teaching college classes to younger, motivated kids. Yes, you do get to do that, and that is awesome. But you also need to be an important adult in the lives of a bunch of adolescents. It super rewarding, but think carefully about how you’ll do in that role. I went into it with my eyes wide open, and I think knowing what could be expected (having gone to a fancy boarding school myself) and wanting to do that work came through in my CL/interviews. If you aren’t excited about this aspect of the job, they will pick up on that and won’t hire you.

        (Also, most of the younger faculty (under 40) in history/english at the school that I worked at had their PhDs. It’s becoming expected for those subjects in those sorts of schools. Your PhD will not set you apart.).

        1. blackcat

          Just to add–I also saw a couple of new hires who were what I think of as “refugees from academia.” Both really, really struggled to get behind mentoring adolescents. 1 got through it. One really couldn’t and now teaches at a community college.

      2. MB

        I believe the comp is low compared to other schools but is still pretty decent and the free housing is actually one of the incentives. I’ve seen pictures and it’s pretty nice. It’s a high COL area so saving on rent is a big advantage. I also realize that the time commitment is huge but I look forward to getting to connect that extra level with students (going in the cover letter).

  4. Carrie in Scotland

    Is it just me or has this week seemed like the longest week at work?

    Hopefully the post-Christmas/NY blues will ease up soon!

    1. OfficePrincess

      YES. And I have a conference call scheduled for the very end of the day. Seriously, who does that?

      1. Juli G.

        My workplace encourages no Friday afternoon meetings in the summer but there’s no reason that shouldn’t be a year long trend.

        1. AvonLady Barksdale

          My workplace has that policy– no Friday meetings at all unless it’s absolutely necessary. This is amazingly civilized and everyone should do it. :)

      2. Anna

        I made a huge tactical error and scheduled a VIP visitor for this afternoon. I’m now trying to figure out why on earth I would do that and sort of hoping the reason I haven’t heard back on my confirmation email is because they’ve completely forgotten.

    2. HR Manager

      Funny, everyone in my office has said the opposite this morning. We’ve all felt like this week flew by. We were very lucky to have an office closure (first ever) between Xmas and NYD, so I think everyone must be re-charged and and feeling good.

    3. louise

      Well…so far it’s definitely the longest week of 2015. ;)

      I feel like I needed Thursday off this week since we’d had it the last couple weeks!

      1. Carrie in Scotland

        I’ve been having a short nap after work almost every day this week! It’s ridiculous!

      2. Anna

        Yesterday the power went out half an hour before the end of the day. Today our internal network is down AND the phone system is acting up. My student assistant called to tell me she wouldn’t be in because of an appointment so I thought I’d duck out early. Then she told me she changed her appointment, so now I can’t duck out early. I would very much like this week to be over.

    4. GOG11

      I feel like a cell phone that’s battery won’t go past 10% no matter how long it was left on the charger.

    5. Alter_ego

      I’m on my 50th working hour this week, and I’ll have to come in on Sunday to finish some jobs with Monday due dates. So yes. This has felt like a veeeeeeery long week. I’m definitely paying for my vacations from the last two weeks

    6. Nerdling

      Good gravy, yes! I took Wednesday off to take delivery of some items at home and it’s *still* been dragging on.

    7. Ann Furthermore

      The week hasn’t felt particularly long to me, but I’ve got a big testing event coming up in a couple weeks so I’ve got a lot to do to prepare for that. But I will say that I took the day after Christmas plus all of last week off, so I was off work for 11 straight days. It was heavenly. And then on Monday I got an absolutely pounding headache on the way home from the office. I think it was because I had to actually use my brain all day for the first time in almost 2 weeks.

      1. Chocolate Teapot

        Same here. Now that Christmas is over, the weather is terrible, and all the work which could be left until the new year now seems to have doubled.

        It doesn’t help that the Christmas tree in the office lobby hasn’t been taken down yet and it has gone all droopy. There is nothing more depressing to walk past in the morning!

    8. nep

      Opposite for me . For some reason it feels like we skipped from Monday to Friday — this week seemed to go really quickly.

  5. Megan

    I know that this has been discussed before, but how do you proceed when a posted position has no salary range at all? I’m looking at a property management position for a ‘lifestyle’ apartment complex in a university town and coming up with nothing, even after doing some research online. I’ve interviewed with one of the other companies before and had to wait until after the interview to find out that that the pay was insanely low. Would it be bad form to call the corporate office and ask?

    1. Adam V

      I don’t think I’d do that – I think I’d apply, and if contacted about the position, my first question would probably be “the salary wasn’t listed in the post; could I get an idea of the range you’re offering, so we can determine if we’re on the same page?”

      (Well, maybe not my first question. People always seem to think you’re being mercenary if your first question is about money.)

    2. some1

      I wouldn’t call, because it’s putting the cart before the horse. If you would like the job, I would apply (assuming it’s not one of those online apps that take forever) and ask about salary in the phone interview. If they ask for an in-person interview first, I’d ask about salary range at that time – but keep in mind property management positions can come with a perk like free or discounted rent.

    3. a.n.o.n.

      I agree; I’d wait until you get a call for the interview. Then you can ask about the salary range, saying that you don’t want to waste anyone’s time if you’re not in alignment. I think they’d appreciate that. They don’t want to interview someone who is looking for X and their range is 20k lower with no room to go higher.

      1. GOG11

        I agree with you, a.n.o.n., but why, if they don’t want to interview someone with completely different salary expectations, why don’t they include it in the application information and allow applicants to self-screen?

        1. some1

          For a property management job, I kind of understand why they wouldn’t put it in the ad, because the position often comes with free or reduced rent in the bldg.

    4. Anony

      I would agree find a way to ask early in the process, but I wouldn’t call. I have not done this and allowed the hiring process to move forward to be disappointed later and then have to back out.

    5. HR Manager

      Yes, apply and if this company has a normal interviewing process, your salary expectations should be discussed in your phone screen/initial conversations. If it becomes clear in that conversation that there is a gap, then you can decide if you want to move forward or not.

    6. PowerStruggles

      Megan, where I live these positions usually pay somewhat low but you get a perk of discounted rent to live in one of the apts.

    7. ThursdaysGeek

      That can put you in an awkward position if you’re on unemployment. I agree that you can’t ask first, but if you’re offered the job and it’s low, you might be stuck. You can’t turn down a reasonable offer, so if it’s low you may have to accept it anyway. Unemployment has some awkward rules.*

      I was in this same position, with unemployment running out, and took a 15K/yr pay cut. I’m not sure if they would have required me to take the offer at that much lower, but it’s possible. If I’d known it was that low, I wouldn’t have applied in the first place.

      And that brings up the common advice about being unhappy when you know your co-workers pay, that you were happy with what you negotiated before you knew. Well, sometimes we’re not happy with what we negotiated, but were negotiating from such a position of weakness that we had little choice.

      *My goddaughter was turned down for unemployment because she answered honestly that she wasn’t willing to drop out of her college night classes if she was offered a job with hours that interfered with them. She was looking for minimum wage work.

      1. Anna

        The whole thing about college and unemployment is such a stupid policy. “Yes, I will absolutely stop educating myself making it less likely I will be unemployed and will make a higher wage so I can take a job that will most likely pay me less.” I’ve been caught in that BS trap, too.

  6. Holly

    Anyone have any tips for supporting a manager who’s getting completely ripped apart by a -I hate using this term, but it’s accurate- hostile, probably mentally ill and generally unstable owner? My poor manager is basically under the assumption she’s going to be fired at the end of the month for not making an extremely unrealistic deadline (a massive project due in three weeks we just found out about, with a team of two) and it’s hard seeing her fall apart over it. I’ve been at the company for ages so I’ve adapted into the No Longer Give a Crap mode, but she’s internalizing all of the negative comments leveled at her (she’s overpaid -ha-, can’t write at all, doesn’t know what she’s doing, etc., all untrue) and it’s kind of killing me to watch.

    1. a.n.o.n.

      Oh, that’s a tough one. I’d say to just let her know you’re there for her to help in any way you can. Sounds like she’s really better off if she gets fired. Maybe that’s the push she needs to get herself into a better situation. Sorry I can’t be more helpful.

    2. Dawn

      Just be there for her, and be understanding of her situation. Don’t add to her stress if you can- I’m not saying don’t do your job, but don’t feed into a cycle of complaining and misery. Maybe try to think of things that could be helpful- could you bring in breakfast or coffee one day to cheer her up?

      1. A Non

        Yes, be calm, and a bit cheerful, and calm. And calm. Make it so that talking to you doesn’t add to her emotional pile. Even if you have to give her bad news, don’t put any emotional stress on it. Just “This is what’s happening, should I do A or B?” Get support for yourself as needed – from friends, family, or a pro if necessary.

        If there’s an appropriate moment, you might tell her that she’s a good writer and the criticisms are toxic bullshit. You can offer to be a reference if/when she goes job hunting, even though she’s your superior – you can at least confirm that the workplace was toxic and she’s fine.

    3. LCL

      Does she understand the owner is hostile and unstable, etc? Maybe talk to your manager and clearly explain how the boss is to everyone. Normally that kind of workplace talk is gossip-y and destructive, but if the bad person is being destructive to others you have to tell them, “that is how the boss is wired”.
      I have had to discreetly tell an employee “it’s not you, it’s coworker”

    4. Rex

      Make a point of telling her all the things you appreciate about her, and focus on doing what you can on your end to make her life easier — make sure she doesn’t have to work about whether you’re staying on top of your own work, do what you can to keep the work well organized, make sure you’re giving her whatever information she needs to be informed.

    5. Zillah

      I’m really sorry for your situation – that’s tough for your boss. No advice that hasn’t already been giving, but just a point – is it really necessary to include “probably mentally ill” in this? I get why you might feel that way, but it comes across as pretty ableist to include it with “hostile” and “generally unstable” as though it’s somewhat similar and equivalent.

      1. Holly

        I say that *because* she might actually be mentally ill, as in, she has signs of specific mental illnesses that are untreated and may be contributing to how she is reacting to specific situations (I’m speaking as someone with diagnosed mental illness myself). The fact that she’s hostile and generally unstable is separate.

        However, I do apologize.

        1. Zillah

          Oh, I get that – it’s just that the way it was worded didn’t necessarily make that separation clear, and given the stigma against mental illness in our society, I think it’s important to be aware of that. Thanks for understanding. :)

  7. Sascha

    So some sad news today. I found out my workplace is having a “hiring freeze” (despite a sister department getting to post two NEW positions – not filling in vacancies), and my department’s upper management has been asked how to do more with no new funding, and possibly cut funding. I work at a state university, and I’m not worried about losing my job, but I am very disappointed about this. Over a year ago my director promised me a promotion with a raise and a new title. I know funding and priorities change, but I feel like I was just being strung along and I’ve missed out on some good opportunities because I was trusting he’d get this done. I don’t really blame him for it – I’m blaming forces above him – I think he did try to get this promotion to go through, but clearly me (and my support team) are not priority, despite the fact that we provide a critical service to the university on very limited human resources.

    So all that said, I’m really going to get serious about finding a new job. The complication is that I’m 7 months pregnant. At my current job, I can take all 12 weeks of maternity leave and have it fully paid for by my PTO – that is very important to me. But I know it takes a long time to find a job, so I figure I better start now. I’m just wondering what to do if I actually get called into an interview. I am planning on reading AAM’s articles about job hunting while pregnant. I’d appreciate hearing from others who have been in a similar situation how they handled this! Thanks!

    1. Colette

      If you were offered a job, would you take it? It sounds to me like you’re not really interested in starting something new for another 5 months.

      Would it be better to focus on updating your resume & networking rather than full-on job hunting, so that you can get the paid maternity leave?

    2. Dan

      While I haven’t been in your shoes, is wait. Length of job hunt is industry and even skillet dependent, my last go was ten weeks between layoff and job start.

      In some ways your timeline suggests you can’t start for five months, which is almost too long of a lead time.

    3. MJH

      I am kind of in this situation, as I am 7 months pregnant and my goal is a new job in 2015.

      I am taking my maternity leave (12 weeks) and getting paid for 6, because that’s what the company offers. This is important to me. I won’t be ready to officially job-hunt until June or July (due in March). So, I am going to make sure that I spend a bit of time gathering my samples. If (IF) I have time on mat leave, I will be updating my resume and putting together some kind of portfolio, etc. But I won’t be officially hunting until June. At least in my field, there is no way a company is going to hire so far in advance, and even if I magically got hired before my due date, I wouldn’t have any paid maternity leave or even be eligible for FMLA.

      You haven’t been laid off and you’re not desperate, so I’m not sure what the rush is on getting a new job RIGHT NOW. To me it sounds like waiting a few months (while updating your resume and gathering relevant materials)is the wisest course.

    4. Bea W

      Welcome to my life since acquisition. Sorry you have come to visit. :( At least I really like my job and the people I work with! That’s why I stick around. I love my work, and my manager is awesome and fights hard to more resources (often unsuccessfully, but it’s important she advocates for us!). We provide a critical service to our employer too, but the people making the decisions up in the clouds there don’t know we exist or what we do. I went to a party for the larger division, and no one I talked to knew who my group was.

      Since you will be on maternity leave soon, this might be a good time to just casually look and see what’s out there and think about things while you are home, weigh the pros and cons of staying vs. leaving. Some of that might be considering if you change jobs, will you have continuous health coverage for yourself and your new baby, being able to take time off, location (if you will be using daycare), etc.

    5. Amtelope

      Go ahead and update your resume, do some research on jobs, and network, but I would wait until you return from maternity leave to actually apply for jobs. It sounds like your job is secure for now, even though you’re not getting the promotion you wanted, and while it can take a long time to get a new job, once you start applying, you need to be prepared to start in some reasonable period of time if you get an offer quickly. IMO, 5 months out from a possible start date is too long. (That’s assuming you’re administrative support or some other staff position; if you’re applying for a faculty job, that’s a whole different thing.)

    6. Ann Furthermore

      I have not been in this position, but I almost was. When I was pregnant I had the world’s worst boss, and we just did not get along at all. To be fair to him, I’m sure I wasn’t a picnic to manage while pregnant, hormonal, and more emotional and high-strung than I normally am (it was a difficult pregnancy). But still — he was awful, and alienated everyone from almost the minute he walked in the door.

      I knew that HR wouldn’t let him fire a 41 year old pregnant woman, but I also knew that as soon as I returned from maternity leave, the first missed dotted i or crossed t would have been all the justification he needed to kick me to the curb. So my options were either to walk the plank voluntarily, or wait to get thrown overboard.

      I got 8 weeks of paid leave, then used 4 weeks of vacation for maternity leave. My plan was to spend the first 6 weeks just adjusting to being a new mom, and then, if possible, spend the last 6 weeks updating my resume and starting my job search. If all went well, I was hoping to be able to come back from leave and quit. I was lucky and had already lined up daycare, and figured if I was able to land any interviews, leaving my daughter with the daycare provider for a few hours here and there would let us do a few practice runs before having her spend whole days there.

      It turned out not to be necessary, because a position opened up in another group, which was pretty much a perfect fit for me. So I moved over there right before going out on leave, and everything worked out.

      My advice is to just focus on your pregnancy and then, new baby, in the short term. Then, if you’re up for it, get the ball rolling during your leave. But only if you feel up to it. Every mom is different…some may be ready to face that after just a few weeks, but other moms decide to just put all that on hold and just focus on having a new baby. Neither is any better or worse than the other; just different.

      For me, it took about a month for me to be completely paranoid about every little thing (I was a new mom, and after my daughter was born I spent the first week thinking, “She’s finally here….now WTF am I supposed to do??”). It took about 8 weeks for me to really get comfortable with everything. And I worked half-days from home for the last 4 weeks of my leave because things at my husband’s company were a little shaky, and it didn’t seem smart to use up all of my vacation time in one blaze of glory.

    7. CCG

      I interviewed while pregnant (I work in academia) and it was surprisingly a non-issue. The way my current university handled it, with discretion, respect, and no-questions reassured me that this would be a place I want to work!

      The timeline for the position I ended up accepting went something like this:
      -Apply 6 months pregnant
      -Video interview on due date (Don’t worry I didn’t deliver until a week later, I let the search chair know in an email that I might need to reschedule and they were cool with it)
      -2 day in-person interview where I needed to fly to another state – they let me wait until 6 weeks post-partum. I was given accommodation to pump during my interview schedule and a place to store my pumping equipment. Also a non-issue and only the chair of the committee knew. To everyone else my schedule just said, “break”. I appreciated the discretion
      -Job offer and acceptance at 10 week post-partum and a start date 8 weeks later

      1. CCG

        Oh – I forgot to add. I negotiated for $ for COBRA coverage so I didn’t have a 4 week period waiting for my new health insurance to take effect.

    8. Sascha

      Thanks everyone for your great suggestions!

      I’d like to add – it’s not necessarily the lack of promotion that is bothering me here and prompting me to look for a new job. I’ve been looking on and off for about 3 years. It’s the lack of the support from management and the fact that my team is overworked, underpaid, and that will never change. Management has been a problem for a long time here. I would be happier if they would just hire one or two more people for my support team – no raise or promotion for me, just a couple of extra people to help with the massive workload. But it’s clear that’s not going to happen. I think this is also why my manager hasn’t fired one person on the team who is doing very badly – should have been fired months ago – I think my manager is afraid that position will be cut instead of replaced, so better to keep a bad employee around than go from 3 to 2.

  8. a.n.o.n.

    Nothing to ask today. It’s a snowy day and half my department is out sick. One is out sick today; one was out sick all week, came in for a couple hours today and left; one at a dentist appointment; I’m leaving early; and then one well person who’s here all day. But you wouldn’t even know it because things run so well here. The team just gels and does what we have to do. No chaos or things falling through the cracks. So nice! :) Oh, and I’m finally getting my office in two weeks!

    Sorry if I sound like I’m bragging (I guess I am!), but I’ve never worked somewhere where things run so smoothly.

    1. Sunflower

      Bragging in a good way isn’t bad here! I like to think it gives everyone stuck in crap spots some hope!

  9. Treena Kravm

    I’ve recently decided to move to Australia! I’ll be pursuing work there on a Work + Holiday Visa. Anyone from Down Under have resume advice specific to Australia? I’m hoping to get some work/volunteer opportunities in my field (non-profit, public health, int’l development) but I know that’s not a guarantee. Any advice?

    1. MP

      I moved from Aus to the US and found that the general AAM advice is applicable in both. Be aware that the cost of living in Aus is pretty high but even minimum wage jobs are pretty well compensated. Good luck!

    2. Megan

      I am Australian! From Melbourne. Any specific questions? I’ll keep checking this tread.

      For me, recently, I’ve been watching a lot of Undercover Boss because I find it fascinating. know one thing – our wages are great. I am horrified to hear of shift supervisors making $8/hour. I earned more in my first job when I was 14, and these people are trying to support families. Just incredible. Remember the Maccas financial advice for employees? They couldn’t even follow the most basic budget because Maccas didn’t pay enough. It’s shocking.

      Anyway off my soap box! Ask away :)

      1. Treena Kravm

        Oo yay! Melbourne is where I’m planning on moving too. I guess my main questions so far are about the resume. Should I list descriptions of my employers? i’ve read that it’s good for expats to do this because no Australian hiring manager would have any idea what these places are that I’ve worked (non-profits with specific missions that aren’t super obvious).

        The other issue I’ve been wondering about is length. I’ve read different sources that argue 3-4 pages is good, and others say 1-2 max. I have 3 years post-grad experience, and I worked in my field during college, part time. So I’m thinking that for me, if I were to include descriptions 2-1/2–3 pages would be a good length. Does that sound right?

        1. Megan

          Melbourne’s lovely – a lot like Boston.

          So, re expanding on companies on your resume. I’ve never done it, I simply have the company name and my role. I think you need to give Australian HR more credit: you can usually work out what a company does by their name, but if it’s really general like “Smith Company” then they’ll google it. I wouldn’t waste valuable real estate describing what the company does.

          My CV used to be three pages and I never had a problem with it – I’ve seen some long ones.

          There is an Australian Undercover Boss but I was actually watching the US one. I loved them – I found them endlessly fascinating. Such good insight into businesses. They did a couple of Australian seasons I think, I watched them when they aired. I remember Boost Juice (because the woman who started that company is amazing) and also Ella Bache, which is a beauty parlour, because I go there quite often (you know how sometimes there are bad things happening in the stores and the workers get in trouble at the end? One of the Ella Bache stores got in trouble for reusing towels and not washing them. That was in Elsternwick in Melbourne and I’ve never forgotten it – as a place NEVER to go). Some good Australian movies: The Castle (a classic, plus you’ll be able to drop some key phrases in conversation with your new Aussie co workers which will leave everyone very impressed ie Tell him he’s dreaming / Can you feel the serenity / That’s going straight in the pool room!), The Black Balloon, Tomorrow, When the War Began, Puberty Blues plus if you’re into magazines Paper Giants and other ABC (different to your ABC channel) mini series they made.

          I only know of one person who uses recruitment agencies. Majority of us just apply for jobs the old fashion way. But since you have limitations it can’t hurt! Companies do advertise for maternity leave positions but keep in mind Australian maternity leave is at least a year not six months… Our workplaces operate very differently to American ones. We have excellent maternity leave entitlements.

          Also, medical insurance IS NOT tied with jobs here. So if you want insurance you’ll need to organize that on your own. I don’t know what the rules are with expats but personally, as an Australian citizen, I don’t have medical insurance. I simply don’t need it. I can go to the doctors and get over half back on Medicare (google Australian Medicare, WAY different to USA and MUCH BETTER). I had my gall bladder out (was taken to ER, stayed two nights, had surgery) – want to know how much that cost me? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. I also had my tonsils out and again – cost me nothing. Yay Australia!

          I’ll keep checking in case you have more questions :)

          Ps – I need a new username as I’ve noticed another Megan on this thread and that’s not me! Haha

      2. Treena Kravm

        Wait, is there an Australian Undercover Boss? I’ve watched a few US ones and they were too depressing, so I stopped watching! I’ll have to check it out, as well as the “Australian TV” and “Australian Movies” section on Netflix. Magic!

        Another question- it seems like a lot of people use recruitment agencies–is that true? My ideal job would be to get a contract job to fill-in for a maternity leave (my visa limits me to 6-month long jobs). I know I can look for those in search engines, but is it worth it to think about recruiters as well?

  10. kristinyc

    So, I quit my job in December without having another one lined up. I have 8 years of experience in a high-demand, small field, and I have recruiters knocking down my door every week, and I was in a pretty bad situation before, so I’m very happy with my decision. Next week I’m interviewing for a job that would a pretty big step up from what I’ve been doing (helping to build a HUGE national program that’s been in the news this week vs. being an individual producer). It’s at a VERY well-known, national nonprofit that I’d absolutely love to work for. The job sounds amazing and like the exact next step I’d like to take in my career.

    I’m trying to figure out what to ask for in terms of salary, since non-profits are sometimes lower. I’ve been in start-ups the last few years, and have suspected that I’m underpaid for what I do. Since it’s in NYC (where cost of living is insane, and it’s not uncommon for people in my field/experience level to be making near six figures, but I’m still pretty below that), I’m kind of stumped on what to reasonably ask for. I don’t want to sell myself short, but don’t want to look like I’m unaware that nonprofit salaries are different. How should I research this?

    1. Dawn

      Is the company on Glassdoor? You can see salary info there. If that specific company isn’t on there, look at comparably sized non-profits in NYC and see what they’re paying for similar job titles. Also I think it’s completely reasonable, at the end of the interview, to ask for a salary range for the position if one isn’t posted.

      All that being said, if it’s an obvious next step for your career at a company that you’re dying to work for, salary isn’t everything!

    2. College Career Counselor

      Sometimes you can find salary information (esp. on the bigger nonprofits) from Guidestar.org. That may not give you the salary for YOUR position, but you can see what some of the people make at least.

      1. JC

        +1 on guidestar for nonprofit salaries. If it has the 990 tax filing for the organization, it will tell you things like how much the highest paid employees make, and how much the total salary budget is (which is more revealing at a smaller employer than a larger one). If you see that the highest-paid employees still aren’t making that much, it tells you something.

    3. Dan

      You highlighted “sometimes” above, so you know the non profit salary thing isn’t universally dependent. Try and see if you can get what you want.

    4. Observer

      Also, 990’s are generally public and in many states the state government makes certain tax information public.

    5. Hanukkah Balls

      Definitely look at the organization’s 990 on Guidestar or Foundation Finder. Look at the highest paid employees over the past few years. If your potential future-boss is on there that gives you a good idea of the range you could expect. If nothing else, it’ll give you the max salaries at the organization.

  11. Confession about Open Thread

    AAM, I just wanted to follow up on a discussion I brought up a few weeks ago about the Open Thread. Since I (and many others) get overwhelmed with the number of posts on here each week, is there any possibility of separating it into three categories:

    1. Rant/Rave
    2. My Job Search
    3. General Questions (non-job-search)

    OR, just have a post on Monday with “Allison’s Picks” of posts you think are funny/informative. What do you think? Thanks! You’re just too good/popular!!!

      1. Confession about Open Thread

        Hmm… good point. I wonder if the second option could actually make it easier for her? If she wants to post x times a day, perhaps one of them could be copy/pasted from sections of the Open Thread instead of writing out an answer?

    1. Colette

      The open threads are already in 2 categories (work/non-work), so you’re suggesting a third one for rant/rave?

      I think maybe this is just a matter of adjusting your expectations. I don’t expect – or try – to read every post in the open threads, and I doubt many people do.

      1. MJH

        Yep, I skim skim skim and only comment if I have a relevant opinion. There are topics that don’t interest me particularly, so I ignore them. You can even hide the entire string!

      2. Confession about Open Thread

        Well by “General Questions” I meant “General Work Questions” (that aren’t related to a job search).

        Yes I have adjusted my expectations and I don’t bother reading these anymore because I get overwhelmed. I realized that I skim skim skim and don’t *really* read anything, so I don’t get anything out of it. However, I know there’s a LOT of GREAT STUFF in there so I was just brainstorming ideas. I definitely don’t want to come across as flippantly wanting to make things harder on Alison. I was just thinking outloud! :)

        1. HigherEd Admin

          Yeah, I agree that there’s a lot of content to skim. I find it helpful to start off by collapsing all the replies, so I only have to skim the original posted question and see if I find it relevant/interesting. I also do the CTRL+F search for my username so that I can stay engaged in conversations that I’m a part of.

          1. HeyNonnyNonny

            Yes, this is exactly what I do, too! FWIW, I like having so much content to wade through because sometimes I’ll read about topics that wouldn’t normally catch my eye if they were too separated out.

    2. GOG11

      I am not familiar with the original post, so maybe this was already brought up, but one thing that helps me is to use CTRL + F to search the thread. If you’re having a hard time following a discussion you’re part of over time, search for your name to locate that thread. You can do so with keywords, too.

    3. GOG11

      Also, I just want to say that I LOVE that the ‘issue’ of overwhelming response exists. The members of this community are so engaged and responsive. On top of this, they’re very helpful, which puts loads of good advice at our fingertips.

      1. Confession about Open Thread

        AGREED!!! I know there’s so much awesomeness going on and I thought if I’m “intimidated” (for lack of a better word) by the enormity of it, I figured others might feel the same way.

    4. Gwen

      I think that would just make everything convoluted and overcomplicated. We already have two “themed” open threads. I think at this point people who find open threads overwhelming have to take a step back and recognize that it’s not “required reading” and be okay with just skimming, reading the first few posts, or just staying out of the post altogether – all of which are perfectly fine!

    5. Ask a Manager Post author

      Thanks for suggesting it. I don’t want to divide the open threads further because it will start to clutter the archives, and to some extent would move the site away from its fundamental mission. (The open threads are sort of a bonus, but not really the core of the site. I think increasing the number of them would move the site more in the direction of discussion boards, which isn’t its mission.)

      So I’ll just repeat what I said when the question came up a few weeks ago: I think the answer is just to be okay with not being able to read everything in an open thread. Read what you feel like, skip the rest, and make liberal use of the “collapse comments” button if a topic doesn’t interest you! (I’m no longer able to read all the comments on the site — not just on open threads — and I’ve made my peace with that, so it can be done!)

      1. Confession about Open Thread

        Thanks for the reply. Ok, I will just have a mini-funeral in my head about missing out on the Open Thread. GREAT point about distinguishing your site from a discussion board!

        1. NewishAnon

          I understand how you feel. I find the open threads overwhelming too and tend to get sucked in or have trouble wading through all of the posts. Personally, I find it really difficult to navigate this type of thread style. I wish it was just one continuous thread in time order, or at the very least had quotes when replies to a comment up thread are separated by many replies in between (not describing that very well, sorry!).

          But I can see how this thread style works with so many posts, because one doesn’t have to wade through a whole thread to find related comments to one post. Plus, I’m sure other people prefer this style to the style I like. So, I try to consider that it’s just impossible to please everyone and there will be no universal style. I just end up only reading the open thread occasionally, and that’s ok.

          Anyway, I empathize with you on this. Perhaps you can find a way to still enjoy it sometimes, like searching for keywords or something, so you don’t have to give it up completely.

        1. Chris A

          This. I used to have a love/hate relationship with the Open Threads, but now I just start off with the comments collapsed and only open them if I’m interested in the topic.

  12. CAinUK

    My mother is visiting. For a month. If ever you need a reminder why you haven’t yet moved back to your hometown, I highly suggest doing this ;) And we have just moved house, so it has been a lot of chaos (for all of us, I’m sure!).

    1. CAinUK

      Whoops. I got the Friday work-related open thread confused with the Sunday non-work related open thread. Sorry for my random cheeky rant!

  13. GOG11

    Small update on finding a mentor

    I posted a few weeks ago about how to find a mentor, specifically a mentor in the administrative/executive assistant field.

    I checked out the recommended websites and plan to review them more as I find time. I also spoke with a colleague who has been recognized for her mentoring of others and who is connected to a program designed to empower women in the community. I feel a bit odd trying to formally find a mentoring relationship as I’m used to things like that developing organically, but she understands the circumstances of my position and the nature of the field and how those make it difficult to develop a network in more typical ways. I am excited to hear more from her and I think this is a step in the right direction.

    Thank you, everyone, for your feedback!

  14. HigherEd Admin

    Just a vent..

    I applied for a job online that was clearly posted through a recruiting agency. I don’t usually like to apply to those postings, but this particular position sounded very interesting. The very next day, I got a call from the recruiter regarding the position, yay!

    I debated not answering the call, since I was at work and I sit in an open office space with no privacy for phone calls. But, based on some stories I’d read here about missing calls and then completely missing out on the opportunity, I opted to answer the phone. Almost immediately, the recruiter launched into questions that I couldn’t answer without giving away to my officemates that I’m job searching. I politely asked the recruiter if it was possible to call back in 30 minutes when I could step away from my desk. The recruiter seemed taken back, but agreed.

    As promised, I phoned back 30 minutes later. The recruiter “wasn’t available but would return my call.” Four hours later, I still hadn’t heard back, so I tried again and got the same response. Three days later, the recruiter of course never returned my call.

    I don’t get it! If you liked my candidacy enough to call me, why penalize me because I’m in the middle of conducting my workday?

    1. HR Manager

      That’s just a bad recruiter, IMO, and there are a lot. Recruiting agencies are a place for many people who think they like the idea to get their feet wet. Many agencies churn through a lot of bright-eyed, bushy tailed green hopefuls, who don’t realize how much sales pressure there is in that world, and never really become good recruiters.

      Don’t let that sour you from agency recruiters though, as there are good ones out there. Don’t be shy about being vocal with what your expectations are as well, when you want to work with a recruiter. Good ones always start off with wanting to know more about you and what you want.

      1. HigherEd Admin

        I absolutely agree this was an experience of interacting with a bad (or inexperienced) recruiter. He started the conversation by greeting me on the phone with, “Hi, HigherEd Admin?” rather than, “Hi, may I please speak with HigherEd Admin?” This is of course nit-picky, but set the tone for the rest of the 2 minute conversation, which was:

        “I’m calling from X Agency about Y position. I see you currently work at Ultimate Teapot Shop as an Ultimate Teapot Designer. What’s the name of your supervisor?”

        1. Anony

          That’s how it started, asking the name of your supervisor? Ugh! Perhaps not someone to work with anyway.

          1. HigherEd Admin

            Yep! It was pretty strange. I answered the phone thinking maybe the recruiter was calling to schedule time for a proper phone screen. At a minimum, I thought the recruiter would ask, “Is this a good time to talk about your candidacy?” But I was very wrong.

      2. Sunflower

        Yes unfortunately there are a lot of places that are all about numbers. I have a recruiter who contacts me every couple weeks with a great opportunity and then disappears when I respond. It’s so annoying! It’s probably the same reason I get emails about entry-level jobs(I’m not) or upper management(sorry I’d love to but I don’t think you’d trust me with it!). I assume it’s because they need to make a certain number of contacts

    2. Mike C.

      On a related note, there’s nothing better than getting a recruiting call and saying out loud, “No thanks, I’m happy at my current job, good luck!”. Nothing like letting the boss know I’m in demand. ;)

      1. Iro

        How has this worked for you? I mentioned that I have recruitors kicking in my door on linkedIn and my boss mostly just looked worried/shocked.

    3. Rex

      Yeah, recruiters. Like all other areas of life, there are good ones and bad ones. I’ve had most success working individually with a few that recruit in my sector, and taking the time to get to know them, so they have a better idea of what to send my way and what is a waste of time for both of us. But it probably depends on the kind of work you do — my area is fairly in demand at the moment.

    4. Just Me

      The recruiter who helped me get my current position was awesome. She contacted me over LinkedIn. Most of our conversations were done either via email or after work hours. She was fantastic and followed through.

  15. Sarah in DC

    Did I miss the Hanukkah balls update? I remember Savannah saying she was going to submit one, but I never saw it.

  16. Ali

    I had a meeting on my performance plan yesterday. Without saying too much, my bosses saw improvements and seem happy with where I’ve gotten better, but they’re still not happy with other areas of my work and just want to see more consistency. I’m trying to slow down, block out work day distractions and take better care in the projects I’m turning in, but it’s frustrating that I’m not totally up to par. My managers are also very nitpicky (it’s understandable why, but also still too stressful for me knowing they catch close to every small mistake), so I really don’t know how much longer I can survive being scrutinized like this.

    I did some thinking last week about working in media and where I want to end up, and I just want to be done with that kind of work. There are some other hobbies I want to take up or expand on that I can’t fully participate in if I’m not off weekends. (Otherwise, I’ll be wasting my time off in a hurry.) These hobbies are not crucial to my life or anything, but I want to form an identity besides work and career, and I don’t feel I can do that if I’m working every weekend and major holiday.

    My next review meeting is in two weeks, so I’m going to keep trying to get better. I just don’t know how well things will end for me. I’m praying right now I get to resign on my own terms and not get fired.

    1. HR Manager

      If you think you would prefer to resign, do you think your manager would be helpful if you revealed that to them? Let them know that you appreciate the feedback on your improvements, and that after some serious thinking, you agree that this job may not be the right fit for you. Let me them know that you would be happy to work through a transition period for them, so they can get coverage or possibly find a replacement.

      If your manager has been reasonable in the past, they may appreciate your honesty about this and grant you a longer transition period, rather than decided you have to resign now or within a week or two, which could also give you a financial cushion and peace of mind.

      1. Ali

        I don’t really want to let my managers know because I don’t have a job offer in hand. I have another part-time job where the boss seems serious about bringing me on full-time at some point, but she is working on some other priorities first. (It’s a small company so she wants to implement more structure and things are a little crazy right now while she works through that.) With no hard date on when I’ll be able to transition to another job, I’m not sure if that’s smart. After all, the advice on here is not to resign until you have another offer.

        I can say my boss falls under the category of reasonable, not insane, though.

        1. Dawn

          I would say that it is INFINITELY better to resign rather than be fired for failing to meet the goals on a PIP. There’s a lot of companies that will penalize you, completely unfairly, for ever being fired but wouldn’t bat an eye if you resigned in the exact same situation. If you know you’re not going to improve, and that the road you’re on will lead to you being fired, bite the bullet and resign.

        2. MaryMary

          It depends on your workplace, but some organizations are very generous and will let you stay until you find another job, or have a long enough transition period that you’ll have found something by the time it’s complete. It is a gamble, but if you honestly feel there’s a strong chance you’ll be terminated at the end of the performance plan, it’s something to consider.

          1. Ali

            It’s hard to say because things yesterday were so mixed. My managers said on one hand “We like the improvements you’ve made with A and B; keep it up.” On the other hand, they said “You need to improve more on X and Y, but you’re on a good path overall.” My next meeting with them is in two weeks, and they don’t know what will happen after that. My boss who wrote the PIP said the meeting in two weeks is the last thing on the timeline. So I guess at that point they’ll decide whether to keep me and take me off the PIP, extend it or let me go. I don’t even think he’s decided, honestly, and I don’t want to keep bringing it up .

            1. ExceptionToTheRule

              I know your part-time job isn’t something that you can probably live on indefinitely, but if your FT job does decide to part ways with you, do you have enough saved that you could make it a few months until the PT job is in a position to make their move? If so, my advice would be to see how the next couple of weeks go. Perhaps they would willing to negotiate your departure in a mutually beneficial way if they say they need to part ways with you.

              I admire and applaud you for giving your situation the amount of thought that you have. It’s hard to come to the conclusion that you’re not in the right spot. Good luck.

        3. HR Manager

          I think the not quitting without an offer is for the occasion when someone thinks they have a job prospect and is anticipating leaving an otherwise good/stable job. Being on a performance plan with a very real possibility of being fired and knowing you don’t want to be there is a very different circumstance.

          1. Zillah

            I agree. I’d say that this is also a little different because Ali has a second job – part of why Alison usually recommends that people try to stick it out as much as possible is because it’s often easier to find a job if you already have one, but that doesn’t seem like it will be a problem here even if Ali doesn’t become full-time at her other job.

    2. Clever Name

      Good for you for realizing that this job may just not be the right fit for you. As a detail-oriented person in a job where the details really count, hearing someone refer to their bosses as nitpicky when they spot errors raised a flag for me. Some people are just not detail people, and if you’re a person in a position where they need a details person, well, that’s a mismatch. On the other hand, nobody’s perfect, and I’ve learned over the years not to take it personally when a reviewer catches small errors (like typos or missed commas) in my work. It’s good that they are providing you with specific feedback and giving you a chance to fix things. Hopefully things start looking up for you, whether it’s in this job or in another one. Good luck! :)

      1. ILiveToServe

        I agree. Being on the manager side of a PIP is no picnic. Especially if the work IS detail oriented in a public facing positions. The manager has identified deficits, is providing as much support as possible, preparing for these stressful meetings, providing documentation to their supervisor and HR while doing their own work watching for the “other shoe to drop” Yes, you may have been improving on A and B but C and D are also part of the job description and need to be accomplished in an accurate and timely manner.

        I would have been hugely grateful if my last employee who was on a PIP called a meeting to exit gracefully with a discussion of “fit” That would have also permitted me to give a positive reference for the areas that she had been improving on. I certainly would have allowed time to wrap things up in a sane manner.

  17. Anony

    I don’t have a degree but have over 15 years experience. I do administrative work.

    I see a number of ads that say ‘bachelor’s degree required’ or ‘4 year degree required’. If it says required, and not preferred, I’m guessing it’s not worth bothering. I’m trying to take the new advice of quality not quantity in my job applications so I’d hate to waste my time.

    Am I right to focus on ads that are more open to those without college? Or are people more flexible than I give them credit for? What say you wise people? Thanks in advance.

    1. CrazyCatLady

      I would still apply if it requires a 4 year degree if you meet most of the other requirements.

    2. soitgoes

      It’s generally understood that people who are old enough to have 15 years of professional experience are old enough to be of a generation where 4-year degrees weren’t as prevalent as they are now. I’d say you can expect some flexibility on that count. That said, “4-year degree required” is often shorthand for “22-year-old employees preferred.”

      1. Kelly L.

        And that 15 years of administrative work has probably taught you as much about administrative work as the degree would have. :D I’ve seen it listed as “…or equivalent experience” or the like.

        1. soitgoes

          It really depends on what other tasks are embedded in the “admin” role. There are certain IT and social media things that I wouldn’t assume an older person would know, even with experience, while those things are a given in certain degree programs.

          1. HigherEd Admin

            In certain degree programs from the last 5-10 years, maybe. But if Anony got her degree 15 years ago, she’d still meet the degree requirement, but wouldn’t necessarily have those skills based on her education alone. Those would be skills she would’ve gained through work experience, which she has.

          2. some1

            Watch who you’re calling “older” :) You could have 15 years of admin experience from right out of high school and be 32 or 33.

            1. Anony

              Yes, I’m in my 30s for now :) but I get what you’re saying. I feel good about ads that ask for equivalent experience or use other open/flexible language. Especially if they want a degree and 5 years experience for example (so total 9 years) and I have more than that.

              Sometimes I do wonder if they want a degree and only a few years experience that maybe they do want someone out of school. I feel I can bring so much more to the table but maybe more experience isn’t always what they want.

              Thanks for the feedback, it’s such a challenge applying and not hearing anything, I was wondering if I shouldn’t avoid setting myself up for more silence.

              Some1 – do you have an update on the job you were going for where you were temping? Hope it all worked out!

    3. Dawn

      Honestly, if it were me in this situation I’d just focus on having an impeccable resume, highlighting all of the relevant experience that I had, and not even put education info on the resume.

      It’s ABSOLUTELY worth “bothering” if it’s a job that you know you could do and it looks interesting. Any hiring manager trying to get a great admin is going to care way, way more about “Are you a great admin?” over “Do you have a bachelor’s degree in underwater basket weaving? OK great now tell me about your admin skills”.

      Caveat: I am not a hiring manager :)

    4. Calla

      Apply anyway. I’m an admin as well. My first job after I moved to Boston explicitly required a degree, but I applied anyway, got interviewed, and got the job. I had a few more years experience than they asked for, which balanced it out.

      That said, I have ALSO been in a situation last year where I was working with a recruiter and the recruiter said “They really want someone with a BA so they’re passing” (nevermind that I’m currently completing mine and had more experience than they asked for).

      Some people are going to be sticklers. But a lot more, IME, are willing to be flexible if you bring something else to the table. So maybe don’t apply for the job that requires a degree and 20 years of experience when you have 15, but the one that requires 10 and lists a unique skill you have as “preferred”? Absolutely go for it.

      1. Erin

        Agreed completely. Some companies are strict about the degree requirement (even when it makes no sense) and others are flexible, despite stating that it’s a firm requirement in the ad. You can’t tell just from the ad. Apply if you meet at least 75% of the total requirements and you think you’ll be a good fit for the job overall.

    5. unemplaylist

      I’m no expert but I would guess that any company using an online applicant tracking system will simply throw you out and thus applying would be a big waste of time (unless you lie, which you don’t want to do). Hopefully other places that just want you to send your resume and letter to an email address — where you can expect a human being to actually look at them — will focus on your experience and not on the lack of a degree. Obviously you learned more of relevance in your 15 years of admin experience than you would in 4 years of college, and I can only hope that some people are aware of that. However, I would not draw attention to it in any way by discussed it in your cover letter. Maybe leave your education off your resume entirely so they have to call you to ask??

      1. Darth Admin

        ^^ This. I hire admin roles and if our advert requires a degree, our HR department will weed out applications that don’t specify they have a degree. It’s stupid but they won’t change their ways. (In my own adverts I write “..or equivalent education and experience” to give myself some wiggle room.)

    6. Persephone Mulberry

      If I feel qualified for the job, I apply, regardless of degree requirements. Some Taleo-type application portals are set up to auto-reject applications with no degree, but most often I find “Degree required” is a self-selecting filtering mechanism for the company. The only way to find that out is to apply.

    7. Anonsie

      My mom was laid off a few years ago, she had 15 years experience in graphic design and ended up moving to being primarily freelance with a small part time job because of the degree issue. She said it came up over and over and over again in interviews that she only had an AA. She kept waving her arms in the air going “you don’t need an advanced degree to do this! I should know, I always have!” Of the times she knew who was hired in her place, it was mostly people with less experience but who did have at least a BA (and often an MA).

      I would say: Apply to those anyway, be prepared to have an interview answer about how your experience is, I don’t know, current (this is probably more relevant for graphics then admin work but both involve software that’s got new versions all the time, so hey) and also for some of them to be really dumb about it.

    8. YWD

      When I was creating official job descriptions for my team a few years ago my HR rep said that any criteria that I put in the Minimum Requirements section had to be met by existing people in the role and future hires. She said if I wanted to be able to hire people who did not have a Bachelor’s degree to not put it in the Minimum Requirements section. So I left it out on a couple of roles where it wasn’t necessary. When we post a job opening we usually add it as preferred instead of required.

      She framed it that this was a EEO / legal requirement but we may just be over cautious at my company. If other companies do the same though that could be why they are bypassing resumes that are a good fit other than a degree.

    9. Swarley

      As an HR person who does a lot of work with applicant tracking systems, I can tell you that if you’re applying to a large company where you have to wade through a bunch of red tape to apply, your application will probably be kicked out as soon as you click submit. If, however, your emailing a resume and cover letter somewhere you might have better luck. It’s really hit or miss, and if the job looks good and you have the time you might as well apply. And nuts to those that require a degree where one shouldn’t be required.

      Good luck!

      1. voluptuousfire

        ^ This. On the other hand, a diligent recruiter/HR person will go into the rejected folder for the requisition in the ATS and make sure that good resumes didn’t slip through the cracks. I know I did that. Considering how absolute the screening questions are in ATS systems, it would be foolhardy not to check.

  18. unemplaylist

    I just wanted to report that after a looooooooong job search (and many questions sent in to AAM), I have finally landed! I am thrilled, not just to finally have A job but to have THIS job, which is exactly the type of organization (nonprofit with great mission) and position (marketing/communications manager) I set out to find a year and a half ago. I haven’t started yet, so I can’t really speak to any details, but the people seem great, the commute’s not bad, the money is decent, and the work sounds like it will be varied, interesting and challenging.

    If someone had told me when my last position was eliminated a year and a half ago that it would take me this long to find something, I would not have believed them. I mean, I knew it was bad out there, but this was intensely difficult. In the end, though, it all just clicked. I felt good literally the minute I walked in the door. They treated me respectfully, didn’t hurl any stupid “defend your life” type questions at me, and were very efficient, friendly and responsive throughout the process.

    People have said to me how much they “admired my perseverance” during the job hunt. Huh. What was I supposed to do? Give up? It was tempting, that’s for sure.

    I guess what I want to say to anyone in my boat is to hang in there. It really is so much like dating. When you meet the right person, everything is easy and you wonder why you ever gave any of your time or emotional energy to all those other guys that went before. That’s how this felt.

    Also, BTW, I saw the posting online and did not know anyone there or get it through networking. So it is possible to get a job that way. However, in the course of my job hunt I did learn the value of a good network, and I am definitely planning to keep up with several people I met/reconnected with going forward.

    Now, if anyone has any advice on how to rock it at a new job, I’d love to hear!

    Thanks and keep the faith.

    1. Sofie

      (If this is too personal, ignore!)

      I work for a non-profit and we’re creating a communications/outreach manager position, but we have no idea what the market rate is for that kind of work. If you don’t mind, can you tell me what the salary is at your new position? We’re in DC, if that helps.

      Congratulations!

      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        Unsolicited advice: The OP’s answer won’t help you without knowing a lot more about her new role. Instead, talk to other organizations that have positions similar to the one you’re hiring for, and maybe check with Idealist to see if they can give you info. There’s huge variation in nonprofit salaries, as you probably know, but with some research and talking to a wide breadth of orgs, you should be able to get a good sense of what it will take to hire the profile of person you need.

    2. voluptuousfire

      It is so much like dating! Hell, my job hunt record has been much more fruitful than my dating record. LOL.

  19. Homework Hannah

    I’m wondering about a ‘homework’ assignment a company gave me as a next step in the hiring process. It’s two questions that are estimated by HR to take 2-4 hours to complete. The questions are very involved and will require a lot of research — her 2-4 hour estimate is probably pretty accurate. I’m not sold on the job as I learn what some duties might be (I am trying to get away from social media, for example, and one of the questions is about social media). My question is — is 2-4 hours too involved for something I’m not sold on? Is this outside the realm of what is a normal writing test?

    1. Homework Hannah

      For what it’s worth — I haven’t had a phone interview or any type of communication with anyone yet. This is the first step in the process

      1. HeyNonnyNonny

        My gut says it’s not worth it…but I’m soured on the concept after a company kept stringing me along with “test assignments” that paid peanuts (at least they paid!) while they determined if I was a good fit. YMMV.

    2. unemplaylist

      This is the FIRST step?!?!?!?!? I would only do it if you think you could learn something that would be useful to YOU. Because I suspect this is not a company you want to work for. What, they’re poaching all their candidates for ideas they can then use? Boo. (Now that I have landed a job I am feeling very free to speak out about ALL THE RIDICULOUS BS INVOLVED IN THE HIRING PROCESS!!!!!!!)

      1. AdAgencyChick

        I wouldn’t necessarily call it BS, and I think it depends on whether you have anything else you can show from your past work that makes the test unnecessary.

        When I hire writers, I want to see their portfolio — and I grill them on it, because a lot of people show things in their portfolios that they’ve only tangentially been involved with, and then when I have a dialogue with them about it, it becomes clear they don’t actually understand what they were working on at a deep level.

        In the absence of a portfolio (new grad or career transition), I absolutely insist on a writing test. The candidate can do as much or as little research as she wants (usually the test is to do a one-page sample about a topic they probably aren’t familiar with, hence the need for research), and I could see it taking a couple of hours. But I’ve been burned badly enough by hiring inexperienced writers solely on their strength in the interview that I won’t hire ANY writer without seeing evidence that they can, in fact, write (even if they have no experience with the *type* of writing that we do; I just want to know that the instincts are there).

        Anyway, I don’t think a 2-4 hour assignment is abnormal for this stage of the interview process, since Homework Hannah has already had conversations with them. (Definitely would find it off-putting if they made it a first step, and it’s silly on their end anyway — who wants to review more of these tests than necessary?) Personally, I probably would not put out the effort if I were unsure about whether *I* wanted the job, though. Can you contact the hiring manager and ask whether the inclusion of social media in the test is an indication of what she’s looking for in the role? If the answer is yes, you can respectfully part ways; if they just want to see whether you can write about a hot topic, then you may want to proceed.

        1. Homework Hannah

          Thanks AdAgencyChick. I do have a writing portfolio that I sent with my application & this is the first step in the process. The email with the test came a few hours after I applied. The research involves coming up with ideas for software and their social media strategy — it’s less about my writing and more about my ideas. Which is what makes me a little wary.

          1. LMW

            That would make me wary too. I’ll do the writing test, but now I only do them after an interview. It’s not worth my time otherwise (and I only ask candidates to do them when I already have had a chance to review their portfolio and talk to them about it).

          2. AdAgencyChick

            Ooh, yeah. That’s too soon. I saw “next step in the hiring process” and assumed you’d already interviewed.

            I would never ask someone to invest 2-4 hours before having met them. That’s just obnoxious!

          3. Natalie

            Meh, personally I would skip it even if I wasn’t concerned about them borrowing my ideas, unless I was pretty desperate to get a job. I’m just not interested in the kind of company that thinks it’s reasonable to expect candidates you haven’t even phone-screened to devote 2-4 hours to an exercise. But YMMV.

      2. Ask a Manager Post author

        For what it’s worth, I always take issue with people who think that hiring exercises are meant to poach candidates’ ideas. While I’m sure there’s some employer out there doing that, the vast majority are not. I use hiring exercises with every position I hire for (although certainly not 2-4 hours before even a phone interview), and there’s no chance — zero, none — that I could steal people’s work and use it. First, I wouldn’t want to. But second, it’s just not usable like that. Even when it’s of the “give us ideas on X” variety, to be usable, the person would need to have a much more nuanced understanding of our context, which job candidates don’t have. And/or the exercises aren’t looking for something that’s so hard to come up with on our own that this would even enter into it.

        1. Homework Hannah

          Great perspective, thank you AAM. I’m not worried they’ll use my ideas (as I’m sure they wouldn’t be revolutionary) but just that I’ll spend a good chunk of an evening or afternoon for an organization that has a weird (and potentially telling) hiring process and a job I’m not excited about.

    3. Sunflower

      I would be wary. Good employers do give ‘homework’ as a way to make sure you’re a good fit but this is mostly done after some form of interview or communication. It doesn’t sound like you’re sold on the job either so I would decline and remove yourself from the hiring pool. Honestly this could be some sort of automatically generated response sent after an application and they may have not even read your resume. Which means this test might not even get looked at if your resume isn’t what they’re looking for.

      1. ILiveToServe

        Not relevant but sort of. To get my position (Academic type) I had….an on site interview with the hiring manager (on my own dime…flew in) a committee phone interview (1 hour) a two day fly in (their dime) with an hour job talk and back-to-back hour interviews with various faculty and administrators. A follow up phone interview with the development director. Then an email with 5 essay questions. From submission of CV to this point it had been 8 months and I was “forget you guys, I have a job I like” Then I remembered the book The Right Stuff- Astronauts didn’t get picked because they were brave or smart or experienced. They got picked because they “sucked up” the administrative bullish*t. So I did. I turned it around in 24 hours. And yes it was at least 8 hours work and research. The question is…do you want this job? Are you willing to go to any lengths to get it?

  20. Former Diet Coke Addict

    I have an interview on Monday! I would love a new job (obviously), but the one I’m interviewing for is a one-year contract mat leave cover, which I’m not sure how I’d feel about. I’m going to inquire at the interview if there’s any long-term possibility because that may screw with our personal life plans, but hey! An interview!

    1. Carrie in Scotland

      Good luck!
      At least you will be able to find out more about the position and can make a more informed choice.

    2. YourCdnFriend

      Good luck! And definitely ask. I know lots of people who turned a year long, mat leave contract into full time work (myself included). But, I also know of people who were done at the end of the contract. Bottom line: not an unreasonable thought but definitely a risk b

    3. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

      Well hooray. Hope this is the first step out. (Although I will miss the stories. Maybe save them up and then keep doling new ones out occasionally.)

  21. Gwen

    Any suggestions for good marketing conferences, specifically with programming relevant to someone working in copywriting & content strategy? I’d really love to go to a conference and do some professional development & networking this year (and my company is generally very supportive of these things), but I’m having a hard time pinning down ones that would be helpful for my subset. (I am an AMA and Ad2 member, if that helps!)

    1. LMW

      I’d be interested in hearing this too! I’ve never been able to go to a conferece (never in the budget) but I might be able to push for it this year. I’m thinking of Content Marketing World (since I’m firmly in that niche), but I’d love to hear from people who have been to conferences which ones they found most useful. I’m personally looking for for great speakers and sessions than networking opportunities.

    2. Fantasma

      I work in content marketing, and some good conferences are Content Marketing World and Confab. I went to Newscred’s New York conference in September and that was great — highly recommend. If you don’t follow them already, check out Ann Handley (Marketing Profs) and Scott Abel (the Content Wrangler) and see where they’ll be speaking, either in-person or virtually. Scott runs content strategy workshops that attract excellent speakers from both the agency world and the brand side.

  22. Vanishing Girl

    I started at my current organization early last year as one of a team of 5-10 people doing the same job for different parts of our company. Due to my hard work and good timing, I was moved from my original position to another (better) position doing things directly related to my training and background. (YAY!!) I was moved into this position with a colleague who had been in her old job for a decade, and she really absorbed that department’s ethos of strict hierarchy and seeking approval before doing anything.

    Now that I am in this more visible position and making contacts across the organization, I’m going to meetings about different projects going on that are related to my skills. (My boss and their boss fully support this.) More big picture stuff, which I am excited about. Whenever I come back from a meeting, my co-worker asks me what the meeting was about and expects me to fill her in on it. (This is generally how things worked in the old department: people told each other everything that happened.) Based on her reactions to my responses, I don’t think she is actually interested in that work, but just doesn’t want to be left out of things. I feel a little guilty for not wanting to tell her what I’m doing, as she doesn’t take much initiative and isn’t interested in the bigger picture (from what I have seen).

    I guess my main question is, how can I reply to her when she asks me what’s going on after a meeting or wants to be included, without making her angry? Or am I being too protective, and should be more forthcoming about the things I am working on that are leading to other work?

    1. some1

      If anyone has a good way of dealing with this, please let me know. I have a counterpart who is the exact same way.

      1. Vanishing Girl

        I am getting some really good responses: and they are making me question why I am so hesitant to open up.

        I love the AAM community!!

    2. Dawn

      Why do you not want to tell her? Is she the type to sabotage things, or are you feeling like she doesn’t “deserve” to know the cool stuff that’s going on because “she doesn’t take much initiative and isn’t interested in the bigger picture”?

      It sounds a little like you feel that, since she doesn’t seem interested in working on these things, she shouldn’t get to know about them, which can hurt both of you in the long run- you could get a reputation for being stuck up and hard to work with, and she might not ever get to hear about things she IS interested in and might want to work towards.

      Also it sounds like you and your colleague were both moved into the same, new, position at the same time- in which case your question kind of comes across as “How do I keep my colleague in the dark about stuff so that I look like the Cool, Motivated, Awesome person in this new position and my colleague looks like the Clueless, Hopeless, Lazy one in this position”. Even if that’s not the case here at all, think about why you might come across like that.

      If you don’t want to have a thirty minute debriefing after every meeting, you can say things like “Oh Charles wanted to talk about the new Teapot Cover initiative, it was a very high level meeting but if you want to know more Xavier is the Project Manager and could go way more in-depth than I can.” Deflect her off to people with more knowledge than you, so if she is actually interested and does show initiative she knows who to ask .

      1. Vanishing Girl

        Thanks! I realize it could come off that way, and I don’t want it to. Although I probably have a bit of that feeling deep down as I’m feeling a bit frustrated with her these days, so that is definitely coloring my view at the moment. She’s not the type to sabotage, from what I know. I guess in some ways I feel I don’t know her well at all and don’t know what she will do, so I’m hesitant to open myself up. The previous group we were in was very cliquey, and I very clearly wasn’t allowed in the clique while she was one of the main members. So maybe I am subconsciously angry about that, but I definitely don’t want anyone to feel that way because of me.

        I like deflecting her to another person, for bigger picture things and informing quickly for smaller things. I am going to work on being more open with her. Thanks!

    3. fposte

      I’m not seeing you describe a big downside with just telling her. You can start doing shorter versions, if it’s taking up an inappropriate amount of time. I mean, I get she’s doing this out of habit and curiosity, not about a need to know, but maybe it would help her to be a little more informed.

      Alternatively, you can say “Lucinda, you ask about these meetings but then it doesn’t seem like they’re really all that interesting or important to your work. I don’t think you’re missing anything if you don’t know what my meetings are about, so how about I just let you know if something gets said that would be relevant to you?”

      1. Vanishing Girl

        That’s a good alternative. I’m realizing there isn’t a big downside to telling her.

        I think I don’t really know what she wants to do, and maybe she doesn’t either. I am definitely going to take the advice here and give her some general information and see what she wants to do with it.

        1. Sunflower

          That’s what I would do. Just keep it short and simple to minimize your time wasted. If she wants to know more, she’ll ask.

    4. Sadsack

      Can you just tell her the subject and then see if she has further questions? I think I’d just say, “The meeting was about Project Xanadu.” If she asks for more details, I’d say, “We discussed the projected timeline, why do you ask?” Ask the last part completely in a curious way, not in a way that might imply that she shouldn’t be asking at all. See how that goes.

      1. Vanishing Girl

        Ooh, good idea! I usually try to fill the awkward silence after I say something with more stuff. Waiting to hear her questions is great: I can see what she really wants to know.

    5. Muriel Heslop

      I have been in the same situation for a number of years, and I have just learned to give a very short response to what the meeting was about while also naming several other people who are better sources of information should she want it. In the case of my colleague it is about control, feeling like her seniority gives her standing above mine, and not wanting to be left out of anything. I learned some time ago that I couldn’t get caught up in that and I am very conscious not to do the same thing to her. If she goes to meetings, I wait for her to fill me in on the details (she usually wants to. In detail, which I don’t enjoy.)

      Good luck!

      1. Vanishing Girl

        My colleague also likes to fill me in on ALL the details and reassure me about certain things that aren’t necessary. It might be a control thing, and something she is used to doing. (She also likes me to reassure her about some things, so maybe it’s just general lack of confidence due to being in the previous department so long?)

        This gives me some more insight into her behavior. Like you, I don’t want to get caught up in trying to control things or keeping people from learning about new things. I think our past interactions have colored how I feel about her and most of my previous coworkers. I am going to consciously work on this and be more open, within reason.

        1. fposte

          Okay, sounds like she sees that kind of sharing as a normal thing, then, and maybe she’s a little anxious about being isolated–either being the only person to know something or the only person not to know it. She wants to be teammates.

          That doesn’t mean you have to read her chapter and verse of everything you do to placate her, of course, but it seems like it’s not a malignant thing, so if you feel like indulging it that’s fine.

    6. Camellia

      Hmm, does it feel like she has the attitude that you are ‘reporting’ to her, like a subordinate would? Maybe that’s why you are feeling so reluctant?

  23. Bea W

    If you have the option (and ignore this if you not have the option) – STOP COMING TO WORK SICK! Work from home. Take sick time/PTO. Please, just do not come to the office to spend more time coughing and blowing your nose than you do working and share your germs with your co-workers. Please! I am begging you! This is good for you too! Staying out of the freaky weather and resting as much as possible will make you feel better faster.

    My obnoxious cube neighbor is not only here talking to himself, making noises, and crop dusting (good god! Just keep it with you in your own space!), but he’s hacking and sniffling and blowing his nose trumpet constantly. He normally works from home 3 days a week, but he’s been here every day since Jan 2 – driving us crazy and now sharing his viral load. If I had known he was going to be sick today, I would have taken my laptop with me last night and planned worked from home myself. I guzzling Emergen-C as I type. There’s been something nasty going around. Fortunately, everyone else in my working area is good about staying home and being selfish about their germs. I wish I could say the same about this one guy. :(

    1. Christy

      Hah! I totally agree with you though–coming into the office when sick (if you can easily otherwise avoid it) is so, so awful and selfish.

      1. the gold digger

        Sorry, but unless I literally cannot get out of bed, I am coming to work. I am not going to use PTO just because I have a cold. I will not touch you, I will not sneeze on you, and I will be considerate with my nose blowing, but I can work just fine.

        (However, I do not understand why the guy who works from home three days a week is in the office every day.)

        1. Anonsie

          There’s a big nasty flu going around, man, this is beyond a stuffy nose. It is seriously awful, bad enough that we keep having to have meetings about it at my hospital because we’re freaking bracing for a big season of bad stuff here.

          1. Sunflower

            I have heard about this nasty flu but trust me- I/my body knows the difference between a cold and the flu. A cold I might feel a little under the weather but I can most certainly perform all my work without issue. Flu- I’m sick as a dog and couldn’t come to work if I tried!

            1. Anonsie

              I’m saying I don’t care if someone is around me with the sniffles, I care when they come in SICK. If someone’s sniffly with a little cold it doesn’t even cross my radar that they’re ill.

              1. Bea W

                That’s exactly what I’m saying. I’m not talking about people who are a little sniffly. I’m talking about people who are full on sick. This literally did nothing for hours except cough and blow his nose, and I’s talking serial juicy nose blowing. If you can’t stop hacking and blowing for more than 5 minutes at a time to actually do work, what’s the point of coming into the office in the first place?

                Maybe it’s counter intuitive, but taking a day at home when you are that kind of sick means a quicker recovery for you, and therefore more productivity at work, not less. People don’t realize if more of us would draw the line between coming to work feeling sniffly and coming to work sick, that’s less PTO we’d all have to use on account of illness. One person comes in when they really should have stayed home, shares it a couple people who get sick and continue to come to work. They pass it on to other people, and you just watch it travel through the entire office over the course of days and weeks. It’s painful and really much more disruptive to work flow and productivity than if the first people getting sick had just taken the hit to their PTO. For people who can work remotely, there’s not much excuse for it. They can’t say “I didn’t want to lose a day of pay or PTO.”

                It’s not just about not making other people sick. Coming into work, traveling in crappy weather, puts more stress on your body and taxes the immune system which prevents it from working optimally to get you over your illness. If you had stayed back the first day instead of coming in, you might avoid having to take more time off later, depending on what it is of course. I recommend this even to people who are not contageous. I tried to work while I had mono, because my doctor said I wouldn’t infect any of my co-workers unless I had a habit of playing tonsil hockey with them. I look back now and SMH. That was super stupid! WTH was I even thinking??

                My manager will scold any of her people she catches in the office sick, and tell them to go home – pack up and go home. You can be sick and work all you want at home. I am really grateful for that. There are a lot of high pressure deadlines, but she’s smart about what people really need to do for the office to continue to function, and that’s not coming into work sick.

            2. Anonsie

              And as an aside, you shouldn’t come into work at a hospital sick with anything. Over half of our patients are immune-compromised, it’s against policy and it’s against all common sense.

        2. Stanley

          This sounds like he’s coming to the office so his wife and kids aren’t exposed to his germs all day long.

          1. Bea W

            Except that he’s not married, no kids, and lives alone. Not to mention on a normal weekday, kids would be in school, and the wife would likely be working as well.

    2. Anonsie

      “Oh it’s ok I’m feeling a little better now” No you’re not, STAY HOME

      “I went to the doctor though” It doesn’t matter, STAY HOME

      “What are the odds of anyone catching this?” A lot higher than you seem to believe, STAY HOME

      “You should just drink a lot of juice” Vitamins are not magic, they do not disrupt infections, they do not kill viruses, STAY HOME

      “But I have these supplements with vitamin C and zinc” No strong evidence on clinical trials that these– NO, I’M NOT ARGUING THIS ONE, STAY HOME

      “I haven’t vomited for almost 24 hours” STAY HOME STAY HOME STAY HOME

      “But I can’t rest at home because–” YOU DON’T HAVE TO GO HOME BUT YOU CAN’T STAY HERE

      “But I really need to do–” NO YOU DON’T STAY HOME

      “But–” STAY HOME

      “But–” NO BUTS

      1. Formerly Bee

        Yes! Please, please, please stay home.

        I volunteer at a place that serves a lot of people with HIV, and the number of volunteers who try to come in sick is amazing. Even in other places, this bothers me. Not everyone’s immune system can handle the flu or whatever’s going around. Stay home!

        1. Anonsie

          Without fail, every flu season someone comes to work where I am while they are clearly extremely ill and gives it to freaking everyone. We’ve ended up really short handed across the entire floor because one person always just haaad to be here and wouldn’t even take a focus room to sequester themselves. We’re mostly an open office so if you’re at your desk, you are basically right next to everyone, but there are private spaces you can book.

    3. Tinker

      I hang my head in shame because I am so. incredibly. terrible. about this.

      Wishful thinking is a peril — “no, I can’t possibly be sick, it must be something else” — plus which I was brought up to go to work/school except when it was not physically possible to do so, or near to. So usually by the time I realize that yes, I am actually sick, I am on like day three of the overtly ill part of the illness and have had maximal opportunity to infect all my coworkers plus which have probably accomplished a negative amount of work during that time. Did I mention I work in an open office?

      I threw out my back Tuesday night (doing a stupid thing with a barbell) to the point where I couldn’t sit in a desk chair without a distracting amount of pain. We have EVERYTHING in the cloud and my personal laptop is set up almost identical to my work laptop. I went to work. I ride a bike to work. There is snow.

      Let us say, I learned that just because you might be able to get on a bike, does not necessarily mean you will be able to get OFF the bike. And that I really, really must learn to pull the trigger on working from home a lot sooner.

      1. ILiveToServe

        I STAYED home. Applause please. I have been officially sick with the flu since Christmas. We do have generous sick time and fortunately I didn’t have any classes to teach this week. Supportive colleague stopped by my office and my assistant piled her with boxes of work for me. Went in yesterday. Felt punkish this morning and stayed home. Got a remarkable amount of work done. Not looking forward to Monday.

  24. aNoN

    Last night I had a breakdown after work. I’ve been in my role for 8 months and the workload has increased to an unbearable amount. I work weekends, evenings, and still have to find enough time to study for my certification exam which I am actually retaking because I failed it the first time.
    I feel overwhelmed and my performance review is coming up. The feedback so far has been minimal and I’m worried. I’ve been trying my hardest but this job is becoming too demanding. The company is great, I’m paid well, but I don’t know how much longer I’ll be here until I get a PIP and have to start looking again. It boggles my mind of how aware our boss is of the situation everyone is in but can’t do anything about it. I’m tired and dread working this weekend. I’m rethinking my industry. I’m not even in a senior position and I feel like I’m expected to perform all day every day. If not for debt I would be doing something else. Thanks, just needed a rant.

    1. Colette

      Have you pointed out to your manager that you can’t do everything on your plate? You say she’s aware of the situation, but have you explicitly pointed out that your current workload is unmanagable?

      1. Dawn

        Yeah there’s a big difference between “My manager is aware that I’m working a lot” and “I have explicitly told my manager that I’m unable to do everything assigned to me unless I literally work all the time”.

        1. aNoN

          Hey there, yes, I had frank conversations with my manager about the workload but right now we are in no position to hire anyone else. The entire team is under the same pressure but we just can’t do anything about it. It is an unfortunate situation. I can’t leave yet because then I would have to pay back my sign-on bonus which I cannot afford. Our manager is supportive and understanding of the situation. We are allowed flex schedules to accommodate our personal lives and basic needs like doctor appointments but it almost feels like my personal life is becoming non existent and simple things like doing laundry and dentist appointments are becoming hard to do.

          1. aNoN

            FYI- my manager is also aware of the extra costs….I have been expensing everything from rides home late at night and including every single minute of overtime

            1. Dawn

              Well, it sounds like you’re truly stuck for the time being. I suggest trying your best to maintain some semblance of work-life balance, start looking for new jobs ASAP, count down the days till you no longer have to pay back your signing bonus (is that even legal?) and use some of your overtime money to book a massage or something stress-relieving.

          2. Natalie

            If you’re at the point where you can’t do basic personal upkeep like laundry, perhaps you need to evaluate which of your work tasks can be let go for the time being. I appreciate your manager might not be on board with that, but it might be wise to advocate for yourself before you start cutting into sleeping or eating, or just have a complete breakdown.

            1. Colette

              Completely agree. This isn’t a “you need to hire someone else” conversation, it’s “I can’t do A, B, C, D, E, F, and G – which ones can we drop?” conversation.

          3. Aardvark

            Aww, I’m sorry you’re in this miserable situation. I’ve been there, and it sucks.
            Have you tried approaching your boss about prioritizing tasks? I try to have 5 minute sit-downs periodically with my boss which helps me from getting back in that situation (I tend to take on too much and he’s been instrumental in helping me NOT do that to myself). I find that’s more helpful than saying “I’m really busy and stressed out”, since it opens up a window for some lower-priority tasks to get dropped with his permission, and it ensures we are both crystal clear on what I’m doing. If I just point out I’m busy, it doesn’t really register with him (even if he sees me in the office or online way outside of normal work hours), but if I point out that I physically cannot get X, Y, and Z done in 8 hours, he’s going to help me figure out which things I can safely put off or ignore entirely. (And I don’t hesitate to bring up things like how I haven’t seen my spouse for more than an hour in three weeks, or how I have no clean socks. A good boss cares that you have time to recharge and don’t make the office smell like feet :) )

    2. Sunflower

      I think the first thing to do is breathe and try to not jump to conclusions. You’re stressed and it’s clouding your thinking a bit. Don’t assume you are going to be put on a PIP and get fired just because of this. You mention that your boss is aware of the abundance of work and the entire team is in the same spot. In that case, it doesn’t sound like your work or performance isn’t at what your boss is expecting. Heck your boss might be impressed you are keeping up at the level you are. Minimal feedback might be due to your boss just being straight slammed with work.

      Unfortunately it does sound like your stuck for the time being. Is your boss able to give you an idea of if this is a new permanent thing or just for a couple months?

    3. LCL

      Go to your doctor and have him/her put on paper that you can’t work more than 40-45 hours a week.
      Stop working all that OT, unless you really need the money. It sounds like the money isn’t enough to make up for what the job is costing you in health and sanity.
      If your performance review is bad because you aren’t working enough, with all you have been doing, you will never be good enough for their unrealistic standards.

      1. aNoN

        Hi everyone, thanks for your input! I was not expecting any comments as I mostly needed to vent somewhere. I am looking forward to my review. I am nervous about the feedback because there have been times where I make simple mistakes that caused multiple reviews. I am but a lowly analyst but I would like my work to reflect someone more senior. That’s my goal for 2015: to figure out what to do and improve my work quality.

  25. GA! (Lisa)

    Does anyone have a recommendation to make for attendance tracking? Our company (~35 people) has a very relaxed attitude about taking time, mostly everyone just puts it on the shared Outlook calendar. But that has lead to a few bad apples taking advantage in the last couple of years, so I’ve had to start tracking on my own. Just sick, vacation/out, and late/early, but its still a time sink. I’ve been looking at the fancy-dancy software packages, but I’m not sure they are any better than a basic excel spreadsheet when it comes down to it. Thanks!

    1. Anon Accountant

      I use a Microsoft Excel attendance tracking sheet for a payroll client that has 25 employees. It tracks vacation, sick time, personal days. I’d googled for attendance tracking template with the intent of creating my own but it was free and already set up and needed only a few tweaks for our purposes.

      1. Mallory Janis Ian

        I think I use the same one. Was are an office of 11 (not including the two principal partners, whose time I don’t track). We only officially track vacation days. We don’t have sick days per se, so if anyone is sick, they stay home with no charge against PTO. We just track those days for information. I like the excel spreadsheet better than an office whiteboard, because sometimes I have to refresh my boss’ memory of a previous month.

        PS I started off tracking it in QuickBooks, but I HATE the way QuickBooks works for that. This year, I’ m wiping QB clean of any vacation tracking and relying on the Excel spreadsheet.

    2. Juli G.

      For 35 people, no. I work for a major corporation and our fancy software is probably necessary given the employee population, multiple states, etc. but it’s a huge PITA. Most managers use a spreadsheet for their separate teams in addition to the company tracking because they find it much easier to reference.

    3. HR Manager

      I’d ask – what’s the purpose for tracking? To keep team mates informed, or for actual payroll or compliance with company policy purposes.

      If it’s just communication/awareness, I like an old fashion board where people can say in/out or something to that effect (maybe done weekly/biweekly/monthly). An electronic version is acceptable, assuming it’s not buried somewhere that is hard for people to get to.

      If it’s actual payroll/compliance purposes, I would go for software package. Payroll software often has a time tracking component. Talk to whoever does payroll/finance to see if that can be rolled out. If not, ask if this is a real problem (taking too much vacation time may have real financial consequences) and see if finance/HR/management is in agreement that this needs to be managed better. Maybe they are willing to invest in a system that has timekeeping.

    4. Alter_ego

      We use a program called deltek, but I’m just a grunt, so I have no clue about any of the backend stuff that goes on with it. We bill to clients though, so while we’re small, tracking our time accurately is important.

    5. Another Fed

      Excel. With only 35 people, it’s fairly easy to use it for your own purposes. There’s tons of free templates available, and if you’re only tracking abnormal events instead of every employee’s time every day, it’s very manageable.

  26. Anon Accountant

    So my boss and I are really quarreling frequently lately. He’s given some clients poor advice to the point if they filed a lawsuit then good luck to you in coming up with a reasonable defense. He’s been known to throw staff under the bus without a second thought also.

    There were issues with a staff member, “Chuck”, who has since left the company that would bill clients saying he did work for them but he hadn’t shown up or had stood outside talking on his cell phone for the time he was there. One contractor we had would take 2+ hour lunches, as witnessed by our staff, and would bill our company for the time she was at lunch. No client personnel was present where she could say it was a business lunch. On several occasions she would be at Chocolate Teapots’ office working on things for her other clients but billed our company as though she worked the entire time on our Chocolate Teapots.

    We brought this up to our boss and he screamed we needed to mind our own business and he was sick of us coming to him and telling him these issues. So we stopped bringing up these same matters. Now the old company was bought out about 18 months ago and he has others to answer to. The contractor and Chuck were both let go. Now last week my boss was furious and yelling at me because I “didn’t bring these issues to him”. I told him yes those issues were brought up and I had been told to NOT bring those up again. Okay enough venting from me.

    1. Dawn

      Get stuff like that in writing. After having a verbal conversation, send him an email that says “OK Boss, today you said that you don’t want to know about X, Y, and Z. Thank you for clarifying that policy, I will not speak of those things again” or whatever. BCC yourself so you have a copy proving that you sent the email.

      If he’s nuts, that probably won’t be enough to convince him, BUT if his superiors ever come around wanting to know why no one spoke up about X, Y, and Z, your butt is covered!

    2. Ineloquent

      That’s a pretty crappy situation. I think it’s time for you to be looking for something new.

    3. HR Manager

      Hindsight is 20-20. Even if you didn’t email him or have some trail to prove that you did speak to him about these, you can certainly share that you did if someone asked. It sounds like others did the same and would be able to corroborate that the boss was the one who put the kibosh on your team raising these legit ethical questions around your coworker’s habits. If you need to (because management wants an opinion, or is on fire about finding why this wasn’t stopped) – I would absolutely share that not only did you bring this to his attention, but you know that Mary, Sue and Joe tried to as well.

    4. Not So NewReader

      I hope you are keeping a written journal of this and keeping it at home, of course.
      Is the boss trying to blame you for keeping it a secret? You said he likes to throw people under the bus.

  27. Anon to the mouse

    Any recommendations for a good noise canceling phone headset to plug into the phone? I found a lot of regular ones really pick up background noise from the office.

    1. Anon to the mouse

      Just to clarify, I meant a headset that you plug into a desktop phone to speak into and not hold the phone everytime I’m on a call.

    2. Bend & Snap

      Bose are fantastic. I have the ones optimized for iPhone and the sound is great and the background noise is minimal.

    3. Emily, admin extraordinaire

      I have a Plantronics one that seems to work really well (at least, no one has complained while I’ve been using it. . .). The model is CS70 NC, which they don’t make any more, but I’m pretty sure most of their models will have noise-cancelling microphones. They are pretty pricey, though.

    4. AvonLady Barksdale

      I have a pair of Beats noise-canceling headphones with a microphone and they are AMAZING. Pricey (they were a gift), but I love them– we have an open-plan office in a storefront, no rugs (new office, working on that), and it’s amazingly echo-y. We do a lot of work via Skype and phone. Stylish, too.

  28. louise

    We need to make a policy change in one of our divisions that’s not likely to go over well. I’d love suggestions!

    -Small division, about 10 salaried, exempt roles.
    -Often out traveling 2 weeks at a time.
    -1-2 choose to work over the weekend while they’re gone, but most do not.
    -When they’re back, they expect to take a weekday off for every weekend day they were gone.

    Former ownership allowed this unwritten custom to develop. But frankly, we don’t want a weekend day not worked to equal a weekday off. If they chose to work the weekend days we would be okay with it.

    Those that choose to work over the weekend now have to do some extra legwork to come up with the weekend work. We consider the one employee who does that consistently to be more of a go-getter than the others based on what he produces while he’s out. We’d like to encourage other employees to take that kind of initiative if they want to get future time off in exchange for a weekend gone.

    (Potential problem I foresee: they may just work less each of the weekdays leading up to a weekend out so that they have something to do over the weekend without finding new work.)

    The tough thing is these folks are the highest paid in our company. Former ownership allowed this division to be a special place where once you got there, you could just do whatever you wanted. We want to create a culture of hard work and initiative, but there’s really not room to reward them further monetarily.

    I’m usually really pro-worker (to the chagrin of my bosses, I confess), but these folks strike me as entitled crybabies. What I keep pointing out to my bosses is that THEY HAVE BEEN ALLOWED TO DEVELOP INTO THAT. I have no idea how to undo it without scrapping the whole division, but I sure want to try.

    TL;DR – How do we reduce the time off people have been informally allowed to take AND develop them into go-getters? Is it even possible?

    1. Colette

      It sounds like you need a policy – with buy in up to the top levels – about how people are compensated for traveling. On one hand, getting a full day off for a weekend day you didn’t work seems like it’s too much – but on the other hand, they can’t see family or friends because they’re not at home, and there should be some compensation for that if you don’t want to fly them home every weekend. That kind of traveling can be really destructive on your non-work life.

      1. louise

        Definitely have buy-in. The ownership came to me with the problem and want me to write the policy to “fix” it. I’m just not sure a policy can fix a whole culture issue! I agree they should get some time off, but they are paid very, very well right now and we would like more work out of them to justify the time off. That’s what’s hard–“we need more work out of you, but no, you don’t get a raise for that, you haven’t been doing enough work to justify your current level of pay.” Trying to find a way around that being the message they hear.

    2. Katie the Fed

      Is it affecting their performance? If having flexible scheduling isn’t affecting their performance then I wouldn’t change it.

      FWIW, I think it’s unreasonable to expect that if someone is giving up a weekend for travel they just lose that time entirely. Those are days that they can’t spend with their families, can’t finish their basements or run errands, etc.

      If you want employees to produce to the level of the one that comes up with weekend work, set those expectations. But I would focus on performance and output rather than the hours being worked.

      1. louise

        It is affecting performance, but this will be the first they are hearing about that. Right now, they know that their division yields high profits with the amount of work they put in. What they don’t realize is that the profits are inflated due to some market conditions that may not stay the same. Their level of work/output could take a nosedive at any moment.

        1. louise

          oops, last line wasn’t clear. I mean “The profits of their current level of work/output could take a nosedive at any moment.”

          1. Not So NewReader

            This is along the line of what Alison is saying below here. If their work is going to drop in value dramatically, working harder on the weekends probably will not compensate for the drop in value.

            Think about it. If their work drops by 50% in value, that cannot be fixed by having them work harder on two days out of the week.

            What you really need them to do is streamline what they are doing so that it becomes more cost effective in the future, when value drops. I cannot picture being able to retain all this staff if there is a major change like this.

        2. Ask a Manager Post author

          I think you need to focus on communicating that, first and foremost, before you do anything else. I’d talk with everyone about what you just explained here, explain you want to make changes to how things are being done now in order to address it, and ask for their input into figuring out options. They may come up with some of what your’e considering on their own (which would be a lot better as far as buy-in) or they may come up with other ideas you haven’t thought of. But way better to have it be a conversation than a sudden edict from above.

      2. Samantha

        That’s exactly what I was going to say. Just because they’re not actively working, they’re still away from homes and families on behalf of the company – I would not consider that a day off.

      3. Pretend Scientist

        I also agree with Katie the Fed and other commenters below–being away from home due to work travel on the weekend, whether they are actively doing work activities or not, is still work. They are missing out on whatever they would normally be doing if they were at home. Changing this is going to be a huge blow to morale for those workers. My current job does involve some weekend travel and my boss always ensures that I have the opportunity to take the previous Weds/Thurs or following Monday off, and this still applies even if I’m not actively in meetings, etc, the whole time. I’m on the East Coast and if I have a West Coast trip, my Saturday evening is spent in the airport and on a plane when I take the red-eye back, not at home. I may be reading a magazine, having a drink or taking a snooze and not be answering emails or writing a proposal, but it’s still time away from home and not exactly how I would choose to spend my weekend, so time off in kind either before or after the trip seems appropriate.

        A previous employer had occasions where they needed volunteers to come in to monitor for weekend projects (a clinical facility involving cell culture), and there were wildly different policies per department of how you were time-off compensated for that (and we’re talking 5-10 people per dept in a ~30 person group, at the time). After volunteering for one weekend where I worked 6 hours, I was told that only amounted to 4 hours off the following week, even though the other personnel there got a full day for any weekend day that they worked one minute over 4 hours. The justification was that it was “one of the trade offs that comes with the benefits of being a salaried employee”. Not really, it just makes nobody want to volunteer if it’s not appreciated. Then again, we were all mid classified as salaried exempt at an associate level and management would write you up for coming in between 8:31-8:37a (it was typically M-F 8:30-5:00p), but staying after 5:00p was never acknowledged. I got out of there as soon as I could (this was just a small snapshot of the things wrong with that workplace).

        My (long-winded) point is, really think this though before proceeding. If there is a performance issue, address that, but not in the context of taking away weekdays off. People may decide that the job is not worth it on the changed terms–work travel, especially over the weekend, is rough enough as it is. Having a catch-up day afterwards to do laundry, grocery shop, and just get one’s bearings after a trip can be a godsend and makes travel all the much more bearable.

    3. louise

      Oh yeah — here’s one idea I proposed to ownership so far:

      A full weekend day worked = a weekday off later
      A Saturday/Sunday out, but not working = 1/2 a weekday off later

      1. Katie the Fed

        I think that seems reasonable, but I still think it’s tangential to the real issue – not setting clear expectations of what you want them to be doing. You’re expecting them to come up with their own stuff – you need to establish that expectation if it’s what you want.

        1. louise

          Yes. I think you’re exactly right. And that’s where there’s not quite as much buy-in. I’ve got a mandate to develop new policies, but I agree that establishing expectations needs to happen (and probably first, because maybe it would solve the problem altogether). I don’t know that ownership will agree with me because it means they’ll have to take a more hands on approach with the division.

        2. AVP

          Agreed. I think it’s really hard to develop people into “go-getters” – that’s usually a trait you have to hire for, and train them on the other parts of the role later. Many, many people just don’t have that personality. And if you want to turn the people you have into people who will come up with leads on their own, they’ll need a good amount of training and workshopping and incentives to get there.

        1. the_scientist

          I have to agree with this. Louise, as you’ve laid it out here, it sounds completely reasonable that employees would expect to be compensated for a weekend of work with a weekday off. One day worked= one day off. How is that not reasonable- am I missing something?

          Then you say that employees are “choosing” to work on the weekends….what does that mean, exactly? It sounds like they are travelling two weeks at a time (which undoubtedly is wreaking havoc on their personal lives) so they’re stuck at an offsite/away from home location over the weekend, right? When you have no choice but to spend a weekend away from home for work, I think that counts as work time even if you’re not actively having meetings/typing on your laptop. Maybe they are getting ahead on work because they’re stranded somewhere boring? Maybe they are doing prep work for the next week? Either way they are stuck spending a weekend away from home because of work. I really don’t think asking to be compensated for a weekend away from home, on work business, is unreasonable. Those weekdays off are when they are running errands and doing household chores and catching up with their families/friends- all the things they couldn’t do on the actual weekend because they were, you know, away from home. For work.

      2. A Teacher

        I don’t know, because see when they signed up for the job the thing was if they were gone for a weekend they had that time off during the week from the way you’re explaining it. Sure, they get paid a lot but the trade off is that they are also NOT home for a significant portion of the month. I think if you’re expecting people to not be able to go home for more than a few days at a time the trade off comes on the company’s end. You’re asking your employees to basically change the terms of their employment and that isn’t really okay and I can understand why there would be a lot of blowback–and rightly so.

    4. LovingTheSouth

      I obviously don’t know the details of your operation, and you might really have a problem on your hands, but I’d like to put in a small word for the road warriors out there. I’m away from home more than 50% of the time and much of that is international travel — so lots of weekends in places like London, Paris, Munich, Barcelona. Sounds glamourous — right? It’s not. I know lots of people in my firm look at my job and wish it was theirs. Sometimes I wish it was theirs as well. I typically leave the house early Sunday afternoon and, assuming none of my flights is delayed or cancelled, I arrive in London around 6:30am Monday after an overnight flight in coach. My firm pays for a hotel room for the night I’m flying, so when I arrive, I know I can check in right away and not wait for 3:00pm check-in. I grab three or four hours sleep, shower and go out to my first meetings. The days are full of meetings, the evenings are full of bad room service dinners and paperwork. I need to make notes of the meetings for the day, make sure any deliverables are set up, and prepare for the next day’s meetings. It’s not 9-5. On weekends, I might sleep in and go to a museum or take a long walk through the city, but I’m also trying to catch up on correspondence that I missed from the previous week and prepare for the next. By the time I get home, usually late Saturday night the next weekend, I’m beat. I’m tired, jet lagged and burnt out. I want time alone while my family wants time with me. I don’t think I’ve ever consciously thought — I worked two weekend days so I deserve two week days off — but I do often take off that first Monday and maybe come in a little later on Tuesday — but even then I’m probably checking emails from home. If you told me you wanted me to do more work on weekends to justify taking time off, I’d have to ask what you wanted me to do. And I think this is the crux of the problem. You say you are afraid they’ll just work less during the week instead of finding new work for the weekend. Can you tell them exactly what you’d like them to do? What can they do on the weekend that would improve their success and the company’s profits? If you can articulate that, it might be easier to get buy in. But I think if I was told that weekends and nights away from home didn’t count as work, I’d be more than a bit grumpy. I see myself as sacrificing what I’d rather be doing for the good of the company (and yes, I’m paid well, but I’d prefer to be home) while others in the company probably see it as me gallivanting around Europe and don’t see it as really working. Spending that much time away from home is crazy hard on the home life – it isn’t a glamorous vacation. And if I’m doing it for the benefit of the company, I consider it work.

      1. Pretend Scientist

        This. Exactly this.

        Another company I worked for was half in the US (east coast) and half in Europe. The Europe half never quite got how awful it was coming over from Newark–the expectation, always, was to be in the office around 10 or 11 after landing at 7am. It. Was. Horrible.

        Can you tell that I have a pet peeve about unreasonable travel?

    5. louise

      To give a little more context, they are definitely road warriors–they’re actually commercial truck drivers. But they don’t do long over-the-road hauls. Rather, they go to a specific area where we have an account and they make short hauls.

      Under the old ownership, they would start late in the morning, go load up, and take ONE, maybe two loads from the client to the final destination, which is never far from the client.

      Then they’d check into the hotel at 3. That’s it. Their job is such that there isn’t any paperwork or anything at all that happens if they aren’t in the truck.

      New ownership has them up to at least a couple loads a day, but they have time for several more than that under normal conditions. To work over the weekend, they just need to cultivate relationships at the client sites so that the clients will let them work Saturday a/o Sunday.

      We have another division that works with these same clients (doing completely unrelated work), but they have made it their personal challenge to see just how many hours they can get on the client site so they can keep working. Those employees are paid by the hour, so they don’t want to sit in a hotel if they can be working. But what it shows is that the clients are completely open to our drivers being there more–it’s the drivers who haven’t wanted to do any extra work.

      We don’t want to financially incentivize them because their pay is higher already than it should be for what they are doing. To make the same amount in any other part of the transportation sector, they’d have to be on the road 50-52 weeks of the year with one of the top paying companies, would have to sleep in a truck, and would have to be driving every hour that DOT would allow. Our folks are in hotels every night (we pay), never have to eat at a truck stop, get paid for food, and will never come close to the DOT max for hours. I guess I’m trying to say they have an INCREDIBLY sweet gig for truck drivers, but it’s like they have forgotten that this isn’t normal.

      Our thought is, they aren’t doing anything on weekend days when they could, so why give them weekdays off when they get back? Their thought is, we get paid great and only work a few hours a week (some were only putting in 25-30 hours a week before new ownership!), so why work more?

        1. Mary

          I think you need to step back from the weekend working policy for the moment and look at the whole picture.
          1) Why is their manager not maximizing their work during their regular working week. Surely a good transport manager would be in constant contact with your clients, finding out their transport requirement as each day progresses and ensuring the truck drivers are working a full work day. Making sure there was another load to be picked up once a drop off was done etc. Why is it up to the driver to develop a relationship with the client to get more work. His/her job is to drive not create income.
          2) If they start late and finish at 3 pm, why not let them travel on a Monday and return on a Friday, then they won’t be away weekends.
          3) Why not hire local drivers to the client drop off location?
          4) I think you need to stand back and determine what looks good for a person working in this position and communicate this to your drivers. If no one has done this up to now the worker can only assume they have and are doing a good job. This should lead to good discussions with the drivers and they probably have lots of potentially good ideas for how the business should change improve from their observations over the years. Only then should the weekend policy be brought in as part of a general review of the job/role/responsibilities/requirements. etc.
          5) And I agree with the other posters, that if you the company require them to be away for work over a 12 day period then I can see why they want to take days in liue of not being at home for the weekend. Even though you say they are not working they are certainly not “at home” and should be compensated for this.
          I see from your original post you call them entitled crybabies so it is clear you are already frustrated with this group, perhaps for other reasons, but if their manager has not stated clearly to them what is considered good for this position then perhaps that is where the problem lies.

        2. Treena Kravm

          No this actually gives us a lot of context! If they’re gone for 2 weeks, can you tell them that if they go over 80 hours during their time at the other location, then they’ll get those hours comped when they’re back home? When it’s about hours in a truck, it makes it harder to argue that there isn’t enough work. If you want them to build relationships to get the additional jobs, tell them that will count as work time too. And then if the non-go getters are always “building relationships” but not yielding more jobs, you can talk about that in terms of performance, or offer support.

          Is there a reason why it has to be 2 week stints if they’re not doing long hauls? Can you send them weekly instead?

  29. ACA

    Following up on the “ringing cellphones at work” discussion from a few days ago, has anyone else noticed that there’s a generational divide between who silences their phone and who doesn’t? Only one other coworker and I (both of us in our late 20s) silence our phones; everyone else in the office (in their 50s and 60s) leaves the sound at full volume. It’s a small sample size, granted, but it makes me wonder if this is true in other offices as well.

    1. soitgoes

      I noticed this in grad school. Older people tend not to silence their phones. They either claim to need to be reachable by their children, or they act like they don’t know how to use the tech.

    2. Sunflower

      I think it’s because we tend to text more and have more apps that go off. I’m mid-twenties and I keep my phone on Do Not Disturb so there are no sounds whatsoever. If my phone vibrates more than once in 5 mins, my boss is incredibly confused what is going on on my phone. The idea of receiving more than a few texts a day is crazy to him! Oddly enough, he gets a couple phone calls a day while I get none on my cell.

      1. fposte

        Yeah, I have a dumbish phone, and I don’t use it a lot day to day, so I often forget to turn it off.

        1. MaryMary

          Yes, this. My mom doesn’t use her phone daily and never remembers if she has her ringer on or off. She misses calls while her phone is in the same room because it’s set on silent, but when she takes it off silent she forgets until it goes off in the movie theater or church.

    3. Carrie in Scotland

      Late 20’s and I tend to put it on silent. Not always but usually.
      My work colleague has her mobile on but sometimes it’s on vibrate. That said, I don’t pick up call during work on my mobile but my work colleague does frequently.

    4. Andrea

      I’ve noticed a similar pattern but I think it’s more linked to people who use their phones a lot for smaller communications vs someone who has it for emergencies/as a second line etc. My folks are like this (and in their mid-60s) – my mom silences her’s because there’s a high risk of me texting her when she’s at work because we have daily conversations, whereas my dad has to be reminded to turn his off because he doesn’t get enough calls or texts to remember on his own.

    5. HeyNonnyNonny

      I’m late 20s and always have mine on silent, though I’m surrounded by ringing/beeping phones all day. Now I’m inspired to find out whose phones are still on! I’ll report back ;)

    6. super anon

      my phone is perpetually on silent. i get few calls in a day, but i get enough texts/emails/kakao messages/whatsapp messages/snapchats/facebook comments/etcetcetc in a day to drive me crazy if the sound was on.

      in my old office i noticed the same divide – the older coworkers would have their phones on (with the exception of my boss, who put his phone on vibrate), and the younger ones would have their phones on silent.

    7. Former Diet Coke Addict

      In my office the younger people in their 20s silence them, while the older people leave them on Loud. But my parents, who are both in their 60s, silence their phones eeeeverywhere, as do most of their friends. So I’m not sure.

    8. Allison

      It’s possible that since older folks use fewer apps, and use them less frequently, they’re not concerned with getting a lot of notifications during the day. To them, they only expect to get important calls, texts, and e-mails that they would need to respond to right away.

    9. Gwen

      Mid-20s and I hate my phone making noises any time. It’s always either on silent or vibrate, even if I’m at home. I mute EVERYTHING in every app. But I have noticed that most of my coworkers (generally 20s-30s) keep their phones on silent or vibrate as well.

    10. Muriel Heslop

      My two colleagues in their late 50s are the worst about their phones going off at full volume. I think they are still really excited about custom ring tones (they each have a lot of them. A LOT.) They constantly give reports and updates on their newest noises.

    11. The Cosmic Avenger

      Interesting. I’m closer to my 50s than my 20s, and I have a lot of apps, but I keep everything silenced and most notifications are off altogether. I also hate using my phone for social media or web browsing, especially when contributing. For example, it would probably have taken me three times as long to post this comment on my phone. :) So I don’t have alerts for Facebook AND Twitter AND Google+ AND Instagram…only one of those, and it’s on vibrate. When I can check those, I’m usually at a computer and prefer to check it there. I also don’t usually get calls on my cell phone unless there’s an urgent family matter, as everyone knows I’d prefer to get a text or email.

      tl;dr version: Yes, but part of it is because of usage differences.

    12. Vanishing Girl

      mid-30s and I keep mine on silent at work. I often forget to turn the sound back on at home!

      Most of my coworkers (30s-50s) keep it on silent, but there are two across the cubeway from me who have them not just loud but DEAFENING… these people are probably in their 40s and maybe early 50s. But they are also insanely loud talkers, so maybe that is the connection here.

    13. Sabrina

      My dad managed to put his on silent, which is helpful since he’s already deaf in one ear. Well then he was driving in for Thanksgiving, got lost on one of the few streets in town that aren’t on the grid system, and I couldn’t call him because his phone was on silent! I turned it back on for him and showed him how to fix it if it happens again, but who knows.

    14. ThursdaysGeek

      I haven’t noticed this. I’m in my 50s and my phone ringer has never been turned on.

      1. Windchime

        I’m also in my 50’s and have programmed my phone with an app so that the ringer automatically goes silent at certain times.

        The following is a general comment, not aimed at anyone in particular: I have to say that I’m starting to get frustrated with the comments from the whipper-snappers in this forum who assume that anyone “older” (over 50) is to stupid or unaware of technology to know how to turn down the ringer on a phone. I’m an “old lady” who works in IT and I’ve received three promotions into increasingly technical roles over the last three years. So please don’t lump us all into the same category. Yes, my 75 year old Mom has trouble with her cell phone, but that’s because she seldom uses it. Not because she’s old and stupid.

    15. INTP

      I have noticed this too. Today I was in a waiting room and Miley Cyrus “Party in the USA” started blaring, and it was an elderly woman’s phone – that amused me.

      I think it might have something to do with older people, on average, not relying on their phones as much for different types of notifications, conversations with friends, and other non-urgent communications. If I left my phone off silent, someone would strangle me. I get notifications for the most important types of work emails to my phone so I see them more quickly and use a ton of apps.

      I’ve also noticed that older people often think that vibrate is a substitution for silent. It definitely isn’t! If you are somewhere quiet, people can hear it just as easily.

    16. Tinker

      Weird speculation — maybe it’s that, given the times involved, younger people started using cellphones at ages (K-12, college, junior employees sort of thing) when people are establishing themselves and get more of a “kids these days, irresponsible, disrespectful” sort of reaction if they let their phones go unsilenced?

    17. Anx

      Late 20s here. I forget to silence my phone more and more these days since I don’t have a smartphone and don’t get a lot of calls on my cell. When I was younger and had a wider social circle I was more conscientious because I was more aware of my phone. These days I forget I have it many times.

  30. Sunflower

    I know this question has been asked before – probably by me – but anyone have tips for someone who has event and marketing project management experience crossing over into a true project management role? In my current job(1.5 years), I manage the budget and resources for our events and make sure we stay within the scope. I also negotiate pricing to stay within budget. In my past job(2 years), I mostly was given projects and just worked on the deliverables but didn’t deal much with making the budget or resources. I’m searching for my next job and while I’m not opposed to executing deliverables on marketing projects, I really want to get more experience managing budgets and allocating resources on larger projects.

    My question really lies in when a Project Coordinator/Manager job says they want 3-4 years of project coordination/management experience, does my experience count? I don’t want to waste my time applying for jobs that I’m not actually qualified for.

    1. Rat Racer

      I’m not in HR or recruiting, but I would say that someone who has excellent event planning skills probably has excellent project management skills. My former boss at a healthcare consulting firm was a former wedding planner and I have never met anyone who could keep so many balls moving down the field without missing a beat. (mixing metaphors). If I were hiring a project manager and an event planner applied, I would absolutely consider that person a viable candidate.

    2. AVP

      I’m also interested in this. I’m a production manager for film/tv/commercials so I think I’d be good at it, but not really sure where to start. Do I need to study programming languages? (I think that would actually appeal to me so I might learn them anyway for fun, but if there are some that are helpful for a PM to know, I would focus there.)

      1. Jacks Fitzgerald

        I had a production background at commercial animation studios and successfully transitioned to producing apps and websites a couple years ago. No matter the field, you’re still managing people/timeline/budget. I’d focus more on learning about technology – new innovations, trends, etc- son you’re able to talk about the industry and network. Then use those soft skills and newly gleaned industry tidbits and go to some networking events. Search for both digital producers and digital project managers. They’re the same thing. Might as well try “interactive producers” too.

        You’ll always have Technical Directors to turn to for coding questions. And you’ll have your stellar soft skills to help you build that relationship!

    3. YourCdnFriend

      I would definitely see your experience as transferable. Have confidence in that and it will show in your search.

      Good luck!

    4. The IT Manager

      It depends what industry you’re looking in. I’d expect some understanding of the SDLC for someone looking for an IT PM job, but I wouldn’t expect the PM to be able to code per se. There are MBAs with a focus in PM and MSes in IT with a PM focus.

      But there are different fields for PMs it depends where you look.

  31. Trixie

    I’ve applied to a couple positions at local university, and saw this morning one of my apps switched from “Under Consideration” to “Interviewing.” Considering I just applied a month ago, good progress. I also applied for some part-time teaching at new big gym coming to town, and got a call for audition! Feeling grateful this week, as I continue to apply and move forward.

  32. Sinking Ship

    In the past few weeks, four out of 30 people on my team have found new positions. This is on top of several people leaving in the fall months.

    I had an internal interview right before the holidays and am waiting to hear back. Obviously, I’m really hoping that I get the position. I’ve been looking for a new position for the past year, have gotten several interviews, and was even a finalist for a position but lost out to someone for political reasons.

    It’s so hard to be part of a sinking ship and come to work every day. I’ve noticed that my personality has changed a lot in the past year too. I get very visibly frustrated and become quite blunt with my coworkers/leaders. I’m a very non-confrontational person by nature. We’ve reorged so much that I’ve had three bosses since September. My current boss is very nice but has no backbone and won’t go to bat for our team.

    1. Stuck in the Snow

      The personality change – that’s it! I’m in a similar situation (we’ve lost 8 people in the past year – on a team that is, at it’s largest, supposed to be 15 people) and I’m just realizing that I’ve gone from being an outgoing “happy” person to much more of a “pleasant, but there to do my work and that’s it” individual. Our team is trying to set up social activities, and I’m finding it hard to care. I just want to get out! At the same time, I know I need to maintain a good personal reputation. It’s not easy to get bogged down, though. So…here’s some sympathy. Let’s hope 2015 is the year of positive change for us!

    2. Golden Yeti

      Similar thing here. I was at a party over New Year’s (half friends, half strangers) and noticed my regular level of introversion was jacked way up. I think it’s because most of my social interaction is at work, which I’m struggling with. These days, I feel significant inner apprehension when I hear the boss walking toward me, and I find myself being more blunt (plus inwardly repeating, “Go away” over and over).

  33. super anon

    I have a job interview today! the job description seemed to align with my skills perfectly and the interviewer who scheduled my interview told me she was intrigued by my application and couldn’t wait to meet me, which is probably good, right? However, she sent me a very.. unscientific personality test (it isn’t taught or researched in academic psychology but is used frequently in business) that she asked me complete before I came in because they it in the office frequently. I did terribly on the test, it couldn’t type me, and the personality type that I scored highest on made me look like a narcissistic psychopath who will ruthlessly cut down anyone to succeed! Why do employers do this?! I hate personality tests as a general rule – their questions are always too vague for me to answer well, and I end up with results that are nothing like what I really am. I’ll take them for fun with friends, but I’m very skeptical about them and don’t but much faith into them. I’m going to go to the interview and try to rock it, but I’m not sure if somewhere that comes at you with an online personality test right out the gate would be a good fit for me. Ugh.

    This is the second time I’ve encountered having to take a personality inventory in the working world, but at least the other one waited until I was hired and dropped the entire issue after we did the training for it (although they were really pushing for us to find others who have strengths that compliment ours and to exclusively work with them because they could make up our failings. We did Strengthsfinders, if you can’t tell). Anyone else have any horror stories involving work place personality tests to share?

    1. Anony

      Well good luck on the interview! If it comes up you could always say those tests never seem accurate in your case, you don’t test well, try to laugh it off?

      I was asked to do a personality test (DISC) prior to meeting in a Starbucks hours away from the job where the interviewer went over the 10 pages in detail. It felt like therapy and I made a joke to that effect. I was a Playful Peacekeeper per the test so no surprise there! He used to train people on this testing so he was big on it, reading my ‘weaknesses’ and pausing to read my face. And me on my best behavior, trying to stay upbeat and positive when I’m being told I’m ‘possessive’, ‘stubborn’ and other undesirable things. When I didn’t elaborate enough he’d say ‘we’ll it looked like you didn’t like that characteristic very much’. I made a comment about how while you may have certain tendencies with years of experience you usually learn to work around things and change. I turned stubborn into determined. In the end I figured there was no job at all and I was being tricked into some sales job or something.

      LOL… Wonder if anyone in the Starbucks was listening. What a joke. In my case, six weeks and many other hoops to jump through I was offered the job but in the end it didn’t work out for me. Hopefully your test is just a formality and nothing like my experience.

    2. Anony

      I meant to add everyone in this company had to take the test as part of the hiring process. So perhaps that is the case with this company too.

    3. super anon

      Update: Everything went well, and I was totally wrong in thinking that the place wouldn’t be a good fit for me! I was expecting it to be like my terrible old job in respect to the personality test aspect – but it was nothing like that. I should take this as a lesson not to judge the future based solely on past experience.

  34. LadyLep

    Has anyone ever reduced their hours at work from full-time 40 to maybe 32 or below? I’m trying to think of pros and cons. I’ve been with my company for 18 years now in an administrative capacity (different areas over the years) and I’m just flat out bored, plus I’m just back from maternity leave and that’s spurred my thinking even more. I’ve looked into other jobs, but I’m at that stage where I make too much for another company to take me on at the same price. My job, honestly, could be done in two days out of the week if we could move some deadlines around…of course, I’d rather not tell them that! Insurance isn’t an issue as I could move over to my husband’s. And I do know that my salary wouldn’t be as much, obviously. I’m just kind of up in the air as to how to handle it and go about asking to do this if I move forward with it.

    1. Dawn

      Do you have a good relationship with your boss? If so, approach it as a collaborative effort with the end goal of saving the company money (because you won’t have to be on full time salary anymore) AND making you happier (because you want to move down to part-time).

      Outline your job duties, how long it takes you to do them, and your reasoning behind dropping down to part time, along with any potential issues with you not being there 40 hours a week and how they might be handled. Worst case scenario, they say no, and then you can go from there.

    2. Anie

      I have a co-woker who’s done this. First she went down to 3 days week and a few months later she went 3 days a week entirely from home.

      From my understanding, she just explained she wanted more time with her children and wasn’t happy with her commute. She did her job well and they were willing to work with her. I think she took a hit in some aspects, but overall she seems to be happier.

    3. Gwen

      As someone who worked part-time for an extended period, consider what benefits besides insurance you might lose. This varies by company, but some things that you may not be eligible for if you’re not a full time employee include PTO, sick leave, paid holidays, 401k, paid time for jury duty. Depending on how flexible your schedule is, it can also be a pain when your hours don’t match up with meetings or fun events.

    4. KJR

      Hi, I did exactly what you are talking about. For 15 years, I worked 32 hours per week, Monday – Thursday. I was off on Fridays, but readily available to answer questions or help (via e-mail or phone) if needed. I spent those Fridays at home with my children and later my neice, and enjoyed every minute of it. I transitioned back to full time this past September. The 20% reduction in pay took some adjustment, but we made do. No regrets. Any other specifics you were wondering about?

    5. Clever Name

      I cut my hours from 30 hours a week to 20 hours a week, and it’s been great! I pick my son up from school, and I have the flexibility to work later or from home when I’m on a tight deadline. More pay is nice, but the time at home is better.

    6. LadyLep

      This all just solidifies my thinking. I’ll spend some time and put together something for my boss about how it can still work if I’m not there a full 40. We’ve had a bad couple of years here and they’ve already cut some people’s hours in an effort to save money, so I don’t think she will have an issue. I just need to make sure we’re okay money wise first and check on PTO, etc. Thanks much!

  35. Anony

    Job search question.

    I’m finding a number of jobs lately being a bit dishonest about the jobs duties and responsibilities, even salary in their postings, even in pre interview calls… is this happening now? I’m applying to jobs with titles and job functions don’t match (actual job function and pay is for more junior position). I talk to employers about salary ranges, we agree were in the same range and then in the interview I’m told the most they will pay is X (below the previously stated range on the phone). Huh? Then why lie and have me come in?

    I’ve never seen this before, is everyone else dealing with this too? So frustrating and I’m not sure how to handle or even prevent this.

    1. soitgoes

      I dealt with that a lot. I learned to mentally filter out listings by whether they asked for cover letters. Those ones tended to be real.

      1. Anon for this one

        I was really bummed this week because I saw a job opportunity I was really excited about. My experience didn’t line up with the job in the traditional sense, so I was prepared to wow them with my cover letter…. except they didn’t ask for one and there was no place to submit one. I was griping to my husband about it and he said I should have just added a page to my resume and re-attached it… but I was kind of wondering if it was a red flag. Sure made it easy to move on from (except I’m still a little bit bummed).

      2. Anony

        Great tip, I’ll look out for that. The jobs are real but they ate hiring for an Administrator instead of an Administrative Assistant, like that. In this case I was told the posting online was from corporate and handed a different one in the interview (!).

        I get the sense they are trying to attract qualified candidates for lower level positions, maybe feeling once you’re in the process a more junior role/lower salary would be ok? I’m finding it very strange. The interviewer who had a different job description that I mentioned above, when I turned the job down and told her why asked me to send her the job posting I had cause she hadn’t seen it…

        1. voluptuousfire

          Gah, I hate that! I’ll see ads with the title of Recruitment Coordinator and the body of the ad says “The Recruiter will…” It’s not the same job! Recruitment Coordinators usually handle the background admin stuff for the recruiters: ad placement, scheduling interviews, candidate responses, minor sourcing, etc. Sometimes it can be considered a recruiter in training role but often it’s not. I like working in recruitment but I excel in the admin side of it, not necessarily in the sourcing/interview side.

      3. Anx

        For me, the issue I am finding is a job will be advertised as “up to 20 hours” or something similar but the actual hours hover between 6-15.

        It’s not dishonest, but it’s frustrating.

    2. Judy

      As far as job titles go, I’ve not found two companies that do it the same.

      One place, a Director would have a team of 5-10 managers so they’ve got 300-500 people working for them. The next, a Director might have 2-3 managers working for them and a total of 40 people working for them. My current company has almost 100 employees and has a president, 2 vice presidents (VP Engineering and VP Operations), and at least 5 Directors.

      As far as the pay goes, I have no idea.

    3. MaryMary

      It could be that these employers aren’t lying, but are disorganized or have poor communication. When I worked at a very large company, recruiting was completely separate from the hiring manager. A recruiter very well could have promised a candidate more money than was budgeted, and never told the hiring manager. Now, I work at a small company, and it’s (sadly) not unusual for people not to agree on what the actual need is, or how much it should be paid. You could talk to someone who thinks the company needs a more experienced person and that it would be worth it to pay for it, and then interview with someone who thinks a less skilled and less well paid candidate would be fine.

    4. Christian Troy

      I have unfortunately run into this a lot.There’s a job posting out there that describes one thing, during the interview process when I start asking more specific questions like what is a typical day like or what are some challenges of this position, it starts to paint a different picture.

      I don’t know how to prevent it but this happened during an interview once, like in a very significant way, and I was pretty blunt about the fact I didn’t understand what was going on because the description said x,y,z and they were talking about the role doing a,b,c. The interviewer said they determined in the last two weeks they wanted the role to be different than what was advertised but didn’t apparently feel it was necessary to relay that information before the interview.

    5. Not So NewReader

      I ran into a similar thing with the USPS. The ad said $20 per hour. I went and asked about that rate of pay. “Oh, NO one actually gets that rate. I don’t know why they put that on there.” hmmmm. Interesting.

    1. unemplaylist

      My husband went from being a composer and sound track designer for games to selling insurance and retirement products. It was not a good move, and he’s back doing games. But he didn’t have to go back to school!

    2. KMC

      I changed from theatre (costume shop) to administrative, and then accounts payable. Once I was promoted from accounts payable to bookkeeper, I did go back to school and get an accounting certificate, but that was evenings.

    3. Agile Phalanges

      I was lucky enough to do that at my last company. In fact, they hired me into the accounting department WAY back when without any education, on the contingency that I’d take some local community classes in accounting. I worked my way up in the department from AP clerk without any autonomy to essentially a staff accountant, and I proposed a lot of policy changes and procedures that were implemented, often with my help. Just after I finally completed my accounting degree (online, years of slow progress), an internal position opened up in the marketing department, for a marketing researcher. They, too, took a chance on me even though I had no marketing, statistics, or research experience or education. I took some industry education classes (week-long in-person seminars) and an online class in statistics, and obviously learned a TON on the job from my manager and others in the department.

      [Then they closed my office and I was out of a job, and now I’m back in accounting again since that’s what my resume could get me even though I really enjoyed market research.]

      So it CAN be done, but it really helps if you have an “in” in the career you’re trying to enter, whether it’s because it’s an internal position and therefore the company knows you and knows what you’re capable of learning, or because of networking, or because of informal education or volunteer experience or something else that might get you a foot in the door.

  36. HeyNonnyNonny

    Work fashion!

    I’m in the market for a new nice work bag/briefcase/whatever you call it. For the first time, I can go for something that’s over $200– though nothing crazy. I want something black, leather, and large enough to fit a coffee thermos, lunch bag, and miscellaneous wallet-y things. Laptop optional– so not just a large purse, but doesn’t have to be a full “briefcase” either.

    Anyone have any brands or styles that they’d recommend?

    1. Former Diet Coke Addict

      Are you looking for something more structured and tall, like a large tote, which is more “work-y”, or a large hobo or shopper, which may hold a little bit more but not quite be so professional-looking?

      Nordstrom’s website has a great tool to narrow purses by style, colour, and price range. As for my pick, I’m very fond of Fossil for good-quality leather goods at a decent price, and they’re quite sturdy as well.

      1. HeyNonnyNonny

        You know, I was looking for more ‘professional’ ones, but they’re all too narrow to fit my lunch bag and stuff…probably time to widen the search to hobos too!

    2. soitgoes

      Try a “bucket” style purse. I’m able to throw my giant coffee mug in there when it’s empty, along with a book, wallet, 800 chapsticks, 400 travel-sized hand creams, the receipts from every time I ever went to Target, 285 pennies, etc. I could easily fit a tablet in there too, if I had one. Plus, they often have very long straps so you can wear it cross-body.

        1. soitgoes

          There’s a blogger who calls her purse her “bag of garbage.” I need all of my expired coupons!

          1. HeyNonnyNonny

            Oh, this is exactly what I do!

            You never know when you might need those receipts, or spare gloves…thanks for the rec!

    3. Hypnotist Collector

      Check out Levenger leather bags – beautifully made, very professional. I have a red one that I get insane compliments on.

      1. HeyNonnyNonny

        Not Canadian, but I’m loving these styles…thank goodness they list dimensions for everything!

    4. KTM

      I would search for tote bags. I have a Michael Kors tote for exactly the same kind of function and I like it a lot (was <$200 but not by much). They carry them at places like Macy's too so sometimes you can find a great deal. My biggest thing is I make sure it has at least one zip pocket (for lady-things) and a zip top (because I hate if my tote bag tips over at a conference or on a plane and everything spills out). Some of them are also made out of materials that are much easier to clean (you can just wipe off liquid rather than have to blot something) but I'm not sure exactly the material names – that's why I like shopping in person!

      1. HeyNonnyNonny

        YES, I think ‘totes’ is exactly the size and type I was looking for, but since I kept looking for ‘briefcases’ I wasn’t seeing all these! Thanks!

      2. skyline

        Zip tops are key! My pet peeve is when bags without them tip over in the car and I have to go hunting under the seat for stuff that fell out.

        My daily bag right now is a Dooney & Bourke tote that I got on sale at Macy’s. Fits a work portfolio with letter sized papers, my giant wallet (which is zip-around with a strap, so it can be used as a solo clutch), and my other assorted miscellany. Mine is probably too narrow to fit a lunch, as I intentionally went with a slimmer one to discourage overpacking and to help it hit under my arm.

        For more casual use and travel, I used a zip-top Baggalini tote. That would totally fit a lunch and thermos, has all the right pockets, and even a padded sleeve for a laptop or tablet.

    5. TotesMaGoats

      I have a large tote from Coach that I got for cheap at the outlet. I can fit laptop, books, all sorts of stuff. Great for airplane travel.

      1. HeyNonnyNonny

        Oh man, I don’t know if I can brave an outlet…there are some nearby that are supposed to be good though!

    6. Bend & Snap

      I have the Kate Spade Reis leather tote and I like it so much I got another one in a different color. It’s big, deep, has lots of pockets and looks great.

    7. Addy

      I would check out caphillstyle . com. She’s a blogger who regularly writes about good bags for work.

      I also just got a leather tote from Fossil for under $200 and I love it. Fits a computer and my monstrous water bottle.

    8. periwinkle

      I’m a Tumi enthusiast. My husband spent his youthful days in retail at a higher-end luggage store and still uses two Tumi computer bags (one over-the-shoulder, one backpack). I recently bought a Tumi checkpoint-friendly laptop backpack and love it for business trips because it fits a carefully-edited selection of clothes as well as the computer stuff. Their leather totes are a bit pricey – closer to $500 – but fabulous. I’d advise against shopping the Tumi outlet stores, though, because the goods seem different (and often lower quality) from what you’ll find in their regular stores.

      If you don’t want to splurge to that ridiculous extent (but I love my Tumi stuff!), yeah, head to a place like Nordstrom and get your hands on the different leather tote options.

      1. Curlicue

        I second Tumi. I received the orange leather Sinclair Lynn Large Tote for Christmas and love it. It is roomy enough for a laptop (even comes with a sleeve), purse essentials, files and lunch. It is very professional and sharp looking. My husband bought it just before Christmas at a Tumi store in the mall. It was marked down from $495 to $295 plus a 20% discount on top of that. So, there are deals to be had!

    9. Sophia in the DMV

      I recently bought JCrew’s Downing tote and I love it. More than enough room for a laptop, books, water etc

  37. Anie

    Hilarious story!

    I asked a co-worker to fix something for me on our website. Completely within his purview. He did it; easy fix. He came to me a few hours later and said, “You look like someone who knows how to put things away.” Rotfl! That apparently was his opening to ask for assistance packing up some personal Christmas lights he’d brought in to decorate his office.

    I did it because we’ve had some tension in the past, so I’m trying to be kind. It only took a couple minutes. But as I was walking away, he tried explaining why he’d asked me in the first place. Something along the lines of “you asked a favor of me so I felt I could as one of you.” I gently corrected him that, no, I hadn’t asked him for a favor. I’d asked him to do something related to his job.

    The next morning I found a couple dollars on my desk. When I ran into that co-worker, I asked if he’d left it there (because why would someone leave money on my desk?!). He had. I guess he was trying to even up the fact that I had done him a non-work-related favor.

    Seriously, I got tipped by my office co-worker. Too funny!

    1. AvonLady Barksdale

      Your workplace is so bizarre. If I recall, you’re looking for something new, but please keep telling us these stories while you’re still there.

  38. Please Read Harper C, Nerd Girl, Clever Name, jess, Elizabeth West, A. Nonny Mouse and Katie the Fed

    Hi,

    I wrote to Alison yesterday with an update on a question I sent her but wasn’t answered here, but she asked me to share my update on the open thread today:

    “Hi Alison,

    I have an update to the email I sent you Nov. 1 about my intimidating coworker.

    You didn’t answer my email on your website, but through other reader’s questions and comments and your answers I pieced together a course of action.

    After not getting any help from management or HR, I took the Evil HR Lady’s advice (which I found through your site) and consulted an employment lawyer. He listened to my issues and told me I had legitimate complaints against multiple individuals in my organization and the organization itself and got me in contact with my EEO officer (a task HR hadn’t been able to do for 26 days).

    I was considering suicide that weekend, and posted how sad I was in the comments of one of your posts. It was your readers wonderful comments that got me through that very tough time.

    Also, commenter “Katie the Fed”s answers to my post on an open thread-day gave me the courage to speak up for myself.

    While I’m terrified of going forward with the EEO process, I have to stand up for myself because no one else will.

    Thank you”

    So THANK YOU everyone for contributing to this site, especially Harper C, Nerd Girl, Clever Name, jess, Elizabeth West, who all gave me encouragement and kinds words during that difficult time – you all helped save my life – and Katie the Fed for the advice you gave me.

    I feel like these words aren’t enough, but please know if I could say it any better or do any more I would.

    <3

    1. Adam

      So glad you’re finally getting the help you need and deserve. Keep it up and you will make it through!

    2. fposte

      I’m so glad you hung in there, and that when you were able to ask you got the help you deserved. Good luck to you for a better 2015.

    3. louise

      You brought tears to my eyes. I didn’t see any of the original conversations, but how amazing that those folks were able to be just what you needed then! I’m so sorry work contributed to ending up in that mental space. May you have hope going forward.

      1. GOG11

        +1 million

        I am so glad you’re here. Please continue to check back in with the AAM community as things progress. There are so many wonderfully supportive and helpful people on this site and I hope this community can be a source of support for you as you move forward in this process.

    4. Katie the Fed

      Awww I’m really glad you found some help, and I’m sorry you went through such a dark and terrifying time. Glad we could be a small part of the solution!

    5. Elizabeth West

      Oh yay! *BIG GIANT HUG*

      I’m so glad to hear that. Really, we are all here for you. You can do this. Often taking that first step is the hardest part. Hang in there, and please keep us updated!

      1. ThursdaysGeek

        Yes! This can be an encouraging community, and we look forward to you being part of it, as you go through the EEO process and beyond.

    6. Not So NewReader

      And this is what courage looks like. Everything around a person is saying stop and the person finds a way to keep going.
      People say we have no heroes anymore. I’d argue we have people all around us taking heroic steps every day.
      All the power to you, OP.

    7. nep

      Wow.
      Thanks for sharing this.
      Wishing you all the best. Good reminder to all of us that we do eventually move past the tough times.
      Peace.

    8. Clever Name

      Wow. I’m speechless. I’m glad you found help here. This is such a wonderful website with amazing commenters. I know things are tough, but you’ll get through it!

  39. TotesMaGoats

    This is going to be a long story. Bear with me please. You all know that I’m in higher ed in the Baltimore metro area, so I’m going to chocolate teapot the details. Sorry.

    Prior to going on mat leave, I ran 5 chocolate teapot factories. When I came back, I was told that our biggest AVP had decided to reorg and give the new lower level AVP 2 of my factories. But I get to keep my title and salary, so yeah, right? No. I’m bored out of my skull. The new AVP (a previous colleague) has told me he thought this was a horrible idea but what’s done is done. Fast forward and big boss has resigned. My AVP has decided to change things back, so I have all my factories again. Great. How it should be.

    Problem? The person I’d hired (who I freely admit was the only hiring mistakes I’ve made in 10 years but was out of my control in the end) has a horrible attitude. We (my AVP and I) believe this person spewed enough lies to convince old boss to make the original change. So, now I have to deal with this person who has a horrible attitude and has mismanaged some personnel interactions to the point of being thisclose to an HR investigation.

    Gonna have a sit down with her but need some advice/good lines to use to address her attitude.

    1. Dawn

      Get all of your ducks in a row before the meeting and make SURE that you are ONLY addressing concrete, actionable things- meaning “Jane, on June 10th you told Gertrude that if ‘she doesn’t get that report to me by the end of the day I will personally put my boot up her [expletive]’. On July 23rd you told the rep from Teapots LTD to ‘Get bent you old windbag’. On Aug 1st you started screaming at June, Toby, and Mortimer and threatened to ‘spit in your coffee every morning until you [expletives] stop [expletive]-ing around with the Heinz account’.”

      Present her with facts, ask if there’s a reason she’s acting the way she is. Listen to what she has to say- I mean who knows, maybe she’s off her meds or her mom just died or there’s something else going on besides being a Totally Horrible Person. Definitely DON’T make it a personal thing- no talking about how everyone in the office hates her or is intimidated or whatever. Make it about facts, about very specific things that she does that are against what you need her to be doing. Make it incredibly clear that if you don’t see a marked improvement in attitude and actions by X date (a month, maybe) that the next step is and HR investigation and a PIP. If she tries to turn it around on other people (“But Gertrude gave me a really mean look that day and so I HAD to yell at her!”) bring it back around to focus on her behavior, not anyone else’s.

      Really if she’s this bad firing her is probably the best option, but unless you’re willing to just cut your losses now you need to start the ball rolling on getting her to realize the severity of the situation, AND start creating a paper trail for when you do fire her.

      1. TotesMaGoats

        Part of the problem is that I don’t have facts. I know how this person has been in meetings that we’ve both attended. Defensive. Snotty attitude. Way too big for their britches, as my mother would say. There are some behavior things and my AVP is addressing those since the reorg hasn’t occurred officially for me to supervise this person again and address them myself. My guess based on what I’ve heard is hostile workplace. And I don’t doubt it.

        1. GOG11

          I’m a bit confused. Do you think that AVP won’t be able to adequately address everything?

          The things you cite are your beliefs (which very well may be accurate) about this person rather than the problem behaviors that need to stop. What has this person done, in a behavior you could see or hear, that leads you to believe he or she is “defensive?”

          1. TotesMaGoats

            Honestly, I’m not sure if AVP will be able to handle it. That’s a gut feeling.

            I have seen defensiveness and other attitude related issues. Hard to describe without writing a book to explain it but basically textbook defensiveness when confronted with even small mistakes.

          2. TotesMaGoats

            The added problem is that this person thinks they are ready for my role but are so very far away from being ready. What I want to say is, “Your attitude as evidence by tone of voice, body language and facial expressions is unacceptable and contributes to an atmosphere of tension. You need to take a step back and do a lot more listening and learning.” But I’m entirely sure I shouldn’t say that.

            1. GOG11

              I think what you mention mostly works. Could you address why an atmosphere of tension is bad? (Discourages participation and sharing of ideas in meetings, for example?)

              Also, what does “take a step back and do more listening and learning” mean in the context of what so-and-so SHOULD do in place of using her current tone of voice, body language and facial expressions.

              So, I guess,
              here’s what you’re doing in a behavior I can see or hear
              + negative impact to be minimized/eliminated
              + what you SHOULD do in behavior I can see or hear in order to achieve
              + positive outcome to be achieved/increased/maximized

              1. GOG11

                Caveat: This formula thing (and the middle section of my response) are more worksheets for you to see if you can nail down specifics which might help you shape your talking points. If there’s a way to dictate someone’s facial expression in a meeting that isn’t super awkward and weird, I don’t know of it.

        2. RH

          I am going through something similar, so I will be interested to see the replies. Also in higher ed, and the staff person (A) in question I believe lied to a person with more seniority than me (B), but has no supervision over me, who then assigned two staff people for whom we share supervision to complete an assignment I gave A. All because A (as she has stated to me) didn’t want to do it and knew I would not let her out of the assignment. B then came to me and told me I didn’t know how to do my job (we are in completely different fields) and was ruining the morale in the office because I was not in the office enough (attending to university business). A is now applying for FMLA, for what I suspect is “stress-related illness” – I have no idea what she put on the application. It has been a truly awful week, once you throw in 2 computer failures, car trouble, and of course, insomnia.

          1. ILiveToServe

            I feel your pain. Best advice I received was document. Put every request in writing. Have concrete deadlines and expectations. Put in writing that work is not to be reassigned without your direction. Put in writing when you observe that it had been. The FMLA leave is not any of your concern. Be concrete. Look at the job description. Communicate expectations. Document. Repeat.

    2. Not So NewReader

      Why not just review some points from an angle of general discussion? “I have some key points that bear revisiting.”
      You can make a broad statement that lying is not acceptable ever. And you don’t have to have proof that she lied because you are not talking about her lying. “Lying is not acceptable at Chocolate Teapots and is grounds for immediate dismissal.”

      As far as personnel interactions, you can remind her of what policies need to be followed at all times. Let her know you do not expect to see any recurrences.

      In talking through this, you will probably see her defensiveness come to the foreground. Which would give you the opportunity to address that. “Handling constructive criticism as a professional is part of the job.”

      I would also make sure that she has a firm grasp of what you expect from her in her capacity. “I expect you to show a willingness to help out and a willingness to work with others.” Or whatever it is you feel she should be doing. The let her know that these are the points you will be watching for.

      Does she do anything well????

  40. Night Cheese

    Has anyone successfully negotiated conference attendance into a job offer? There’s an important conference in my field coming up and I want to make sure that I’m there. My current employer has already agreed to send me.

    Worst case scenario, I’d take the hypothetical offer and pay my own way, but I just wanted to see if anyone had any ideas.

    1. fposte

      You mean you’re hoping to be in a different job by the time of an industry conference and you’re wondering if you can ask the new employer to cover it?

      I think so, at least in some fields. What I’d do is start with a question about paid conference attendance generally and then ask if that would cover the upcoming conference you’re already booked for. I’d be more inclined to get paid conferences as part of the package generally rather than negotiate based on a particular event, though, because once it’s over what have you got?

      1. Night Cheese

        Yes, that’s exactly what I meant. I’m not in the corporate world; I’m work in academe but I’m regular staff, so things can get kind of gnarly at times.

        I will try that approach if they make me an offer.

    2. cuppa

      This shouldn’t be too unusual, but keep in mind that depending on your field and financing, the budget may already be allocated for the year.

      I had this happen to me once and I paid my own way, but they granted me the time off to attend no problem (without using PTO).

    3. CollegeAdmin

      Oh, I’d love to know this too! Also, do you think there’s a limit on how much the conference should be? (I’ve never attended one; between conference fees, flights, hotel, etc., it’s over $1500, which seems like a lot to me.)

      1. fposte

        In my experience, institutions usually have set rates of what they’ll cover per conference or per year; it’s up to the staffer/faculty person to decide how to allot it and/or find additional funding, whether it be on grants or from oneself.

      2. LibrarianJ

        RE: conference cost, depending on where the conference is located, $1500 doesn’t seem ridiculous. My major conferences last year and this year were both on the opposite coast, and both were/will be in that price range. But, that also depends heavily on your institution, and on your rank. My current department makes professional development a priority and has the financial flexibility to do that. At my previous institution, the department’s money was much tighter, and folks 2-3 tiers above me were being denied funds to attend conferences at less than half that cost, much less the peons at my level :-) . So I’d say you have to know your local culture. But usually, I go to my supervisor first, before I place a formal request, and can count on them to be honest with me about what’s going to be doable/reasonable this year and what isn’t.

    4. HR Manager

      If it’s a well-known industry conference, it might not be that unusual of a request. If you get an offer, I would immediately ask the recruiter/manager what the company’s practice is on conference attendance. Explain that you are already planning on attending, and would like to know if this would be covered by the company. Especially if the topic of that conference may be of importance to the company (i.e., do any of the panels cover content that might address some of the challenges they laid out in your interviews?), you can certainly mention that you think it will be helpful to your job to attend.

      As an example, we hired a Salesforce guy recently, and DreamForce is THE place to be for SF geeks. There was no question he would be there, even though he would have only been with us for a month or two. It’s not unheard of.

    5. Brett

      I have always discussed conference attendance in every interview, including interviewers where I was the interviewer! (Local government positions mostly, but also some private sector tech and startup tech.)

      It is simply too important in our field, and I know there are plenty of employers out there who will not even let employees take time off to attend, much less pay for attending (I am looking at you prominent DoD agency in our field). Since our pay sucks, it is important to let applicants know we cover some conferences.

      And there is simply no way I am moving to a new employer who will not support me continuing to attend certain key conferences.
      So, easy lead in. When you reach your chance to ask questions, “I would like to discuss how you support career development. What conferences or other professional activities would you expect me to attend in this role?”
      At this point you could discuss conference support in general for the role, like fposte mentioned.
      If the specific conference is not mentioned as one they expect you to attend (I have at least one conference in my field I squarely put in the “must attend” slot)…
      “I consider the XYZ conference in to be a significant event in our field. I have (already arranged to attend it this year/attend it every year) with my current employer. In this role, would you be able to make arrangements for me to attend this year?” You only really need a yes/no at the interview. You could discuss the details of actually attending (time off, on the clock, fully paid, etc) at offer negotiations.

    6. periwinkle

      It’s worth asking about. If the department’s budget has already been set in stone it might not be possible, but there could be some discretionary funds available for professional development such as conferences.

      Conferences can get expensive! I have three budgeted for this year, with conference fees ranging from $1495 to $300 (all three are 4-day conferences). Factor in airfare, lodging, and per diem for meals, and that’s another $800-$1400 depending on location. Do the math before the negotiation; if the conference hasn’t released this year’s fees, look at last year’s. Don’t assume the conference-arranging hotel rate is cheaper than what you can get on your own…

  41. Zeezee

    I feel like this is the inverse of a popular question: I run a department at a nonprofit and certainly don’t expect that my boss (our President/CEO) will know all the minutia of my job. After all, that’s why I’m here! The issue is, she acts like she knows — despite primarily being an expert in an unrelated area. Any advice on how to respond (positively) when she proposes ideas that are not best practice, or just objectively strange? Now, when I push back, I feel like I’ve made her angry or impatient.

    1. LAI

      I had the same thing in my last role. Our director would usually be really hands-off, but sometimes would propose very specific ideas for things she wanted me to do that just didn’t make sense. She would always frame it as a “suggestion”, but the underlying hint was that I should really do it. Often, I would say “I’ll look into that” or something similarly vague, then put it off as long as possible. If she brought it up again, I’d sometimes try to prepare an argument for why it didn’t make sense. Many times, however, I just ended up doing whatever it was she wanted, and then I would just try to either morph it into something that would actually be a good use of my time, or put in as little effort as possible and get it over with.

    2. LMW

      I’ve been having this problem constantly with my new boss and it’s really impacting our relationship. Part of my problem is he phrases the suggestions more like orders than suggestions and I feel like I’m making excuses or on the defensive, when I’m really just giving practical, fact-based information on why something won’t work. I mentioned a couple open threads back that this actually resulted in him screaming at me and banging the table during one of our one-on-ones. I know he’s kind of embarassed about that, but I’d love to know how other people handle this type of thing.

    3. GOG11

      I would speak to the workability of it.

      Could you say something like, “If we did X instead of current practice Y, how would we address the effects/consequence of Z?” or “If we skip step 3, we’ll bypass the quality controls we have in place. I’m worried that doing so would allow design flaws to make it through a later stage in production where they’d be much harder to fix.”

      I’m having a really hard time thinking of a good example to illustrate what I’m thinking of, but I hope this helps :/

    4. Not So NewReader

      One thing I have done is gone it to it- instead of bucking it. That looks like this:

      “Boss, I have A and B going on. I know we said to do X in those instances but suddenly I have encounter an additional complexity C. I am leaning toward steps 1, 2, 3. What do you think of all this?”

      1)It shows you think of your boss as a resource. She wants to be acknowledged as someone who knows what is going on. Give her that. Time will temper this, you will be less aware of her non-expertise and she will be more aware of YOURS. It takes time. Treat her as a co-conspirator, you are plotting to do a great job and she is in on the plot.

      2) By offering a solution you are letting her have a glimpse inside your brain and she is getting an idea of how your brain works, the things you think of to say/do. I know it is tough, but try-try to remember that she cannot mind read and automatically know all the bases you have covered. Once she gets more used to hearing you think out loud with her she will come to understand, “oh, ZeeZee always remembers to check x, y and z”.

      3) Be genuine. Don’t set out to show her how much she does not know. Be sincere, be conversationally pleasant, show interest in learning more. Matter of fact, show interest in learning more at all times. That will be a big leg up on this problem you are having now. (Don’t over look simple things. For example, if the two of you have no solutions for a small matter- research it. Show her what you came up with and your ideas for fixing that small matter.)

      If you have basically a good boss, AND you are consistent about this, then this difficulty should go away or dramatically shrink before this year is over.

  42. Usually Not Anonymous

    I got a small bonus check from the company I am temping at and they didn’t go through the temp agency. I haven’t cashed it, because I don’t know if I need to let them know. I think this will create a awkward situation if I have to go back to my job and say I can’t accept it. Thoughts?

    1. Anie

      Bonuses are gifts, right? For every other non-contract/temp employee, it’s a non-taxed present. I wouldn’t bother my temp agency over it.

      1. fposte

        I hope somebody with more tax info will weigh in here–I’d be really surprised if it could be non-taxable.

        1. Natalie

          Yeah, this doesn’t jibe with my experience. Every bonus I’ve gotten has had taxes and 401K contributions deducted.

    2. HR Manager

      They may be doing that purposefully because they don’t want the mark up of paying a bonus through the agency, or it could be an innocent mistake. I trust this check hasn’t had any payroll taxes deducted. If you feel comfortable with this, you can ask your manager about this and tell him/her that you were pleasantly surprised to see this. Ask mgr that since no taxes were taken out, should you expect to see a W-2 or 1099 or something similar from the company? This should start the ball-rolling on an “oh $hit” moment if this were accidental. If it was purposeful, and they are somehow suggesting you not report this income, then you can push back and ask “shouldn’t this go through my agency?” or let them know you’re “not comfortable with accepting income that will not be reported on a W-2”

  43. Adam

    If you’re interested in advancing in your career, how long is “too long” to stay at a current company if it’s not going anywhere? I’ve been reading that the longer you stay at a company without advancing the harder it becomes to do so AND the harder it becomes to find another position elsewhere. I’ve been at my current organization about 4.5 years and while I’ve regularly absorbed new duties, had great reviews, and even had a job title update, none of these things would really be termed a promotion (and my paycheck shows it); more a liberal use of the “Other duties as assigned” clause.

    1. Adam

      Also, is there a certain amount of time it’s acceptable to stay without looking like a job hopper?

      1. Dawn

        “Regularly absorbed new duties, had great reviews, and even had a job title update” doesn’t sound like it’s not going anywhere- that sounds like the job you had when you started has expanded and your expected work output is different now than it was 4.5 years ago. Not saying you’re not bored out of your skull or whatever, but all of what you’re describing IS advancing. If you were doing the exact same thing you were doing 4.5 years ago with no change in duties, title, or pay, then that would be not advancing.

        Also I think 3-4 years per position would be just fine, as long as you can definitely show a progression from job to job. I think of an SVP of Sales that was newly hired at my old job- her LinkedIn was just one long list of “SVP of Sales, Company A- 3 years” followed by “SVP of Sales, Company B- 3 years”, “SVP of Sales, Company C- 3 years”, “SVP of Sales, Company D- 3 years” where all four companies were direct competitors of each other. It seemed REALLY obvious that she was just courting competitors and hopping from one to the other, probably because each company wanted to give her more and more money since she knew how to sell their competitor’s products. That’s the kind of job hopping you want to avoid.

        1. Adam

          Trust me. It’s not going anywhere. The duties I’ve absorbed are mainly those of the “no one else wants to do these things” variety so they get passed to the bottom rung. And the pay increases compared the cost of living in this area are basically inconsequential.

          I’m not blaming my employer here. Sometimes what’s available is just all that’s available. And this particular organization doesn’t really have set career paths, and after being passed up for one promotion (by an external candidate who was more qualified), I think I’ve done just about everything I can to get noticed around here and it’s really not worth more effort at this point.

          1. Dawn

            “The duties I’ve absorbed are mainly those of the “no one else wants to do these things” variety so they get passed to the bottom rung.”

            TRUST ME, if you can put on your resume that you’ve taken on additional duties and your job title has changed, it’ll look like you’ve made progress in that job even if you feel (or know) that you haven’t. And it sounds like it’s time to start brushing up on your resume- you seem like you’re ready for something new and challenging!

    2. Fante

      Sounds to me like it’s time to move on, and you know it. A long stay at one company always looks good on your resume, but if you want to advance your career and it’s not happening with your current employer, start looking elsewhere.

      1. Ali

        I feel you. I’ve been at my job for almost five years, but even though I started as an unpaid intern and had a promotion two years ago, my job duties are essentially the same with only a few changes. There’s not a lot of room for advancement or extra projects, so I’m looking to jump ship. I would of course feel differently if I’d only been there five months, but the five-year mark is a crucial one. If an opening were to come up where I could do different work, I’d go for it and stay at my current company, but that doesn’t look likely.

    3. HR Manager

      Are you nervous with how this will look on your resume, or are you really itching to leave because you do want something more or different? I wouldn’t suggest anyone leave just because a recruiter might get concerned with the length of tenure in your job at some far off date in the future. Move because you want more and that isn’t possible in your current job.

      1. Adam

        Oh I’ve been itching to leave for a while now for all the right reasons and am looking, but I do worry that if it looks like I’ve spent four years at my current job without really advancing it will come across in my resume and dash my chances. I’ve never really had great success job hunting.

  44. Underling

    I work at a small law firm, and about a year ago a firm administrator was hired. Prior to her hire, we didn’t have a firm administrator and the support staff basically managed themselves with occasional (and reluctant) guidance from the partners. Admittedly, it wasn’t a great system.

    This new administrator has never worked at a law firm before and is in the process of learning the ropes… but that doesn’t stop her from believing she is able to add value to any administrative process evaluation. She has a habit of taking the reins and not listening very well to information about how things function and what impediments we might be facing in the process of solving issues.

    Recently the administrative team met to address an issue, and devised a plan with steps to follow. When I had a chance to collect my thoughts, realized I needed some clarification. I went to my colleague to see if she was clear on the details, and we sat down in a conference room to go over it. Within moments, the administrator barged into the room and told us that we were wasting time meeting over and over, that we were undermining her authority, and that if my colleague and I had reason to meet, she should also be present. My colleague and I are at a loss. Within a year we’ve gone from basically self-supervising to being kept on such a short leash that we can’t meet one on one with a colleague without arousing hostility and suspicion.

    Is there an angle to this that I’m missing? How can I keep the peace until I find another job? (I have no intention of sticking around here, given this and many other factors.)

    1. Dawn

      What the hell? This is straight up bizarre behavior- is she your boss or manager in some way? If so, I can kind of understand where she’s coming from, but that’s still super nuts behavior. Honestly she sounds really insecure in her role.

      1. some1

        It sounds like she is — she’s like an Office Manager who supervises the support staff so the partners don’t have to.

        1. Underling

          ^^^ Yup. She’s essentially a go-between for the support staff and attorneys. In other firms this would make her a manager or supervisor, but the partners at my firm haven’t actually given her that authority yet; she still seeks approval from them before implementing anything new.

          And yes, insecurity in her role is probably a major factor here.

          1. LillianMcGee

            If that’s the case, then she’s rightfully insecure. How is she supposed to do much of anything if she has no authority? On the other hand, it’s been a year. If she’s still ‘learning the ropes’ she might be harboring some deficiencies of her own. On the OTHER hand, it does take time to go from chaos to order, and working with attorneys is like herding cats, so maybe she is still struggling to bring you all together.

            Actually her role sounds a lot like mine (except I have authority over support staff and do some of the grunt work myself). If my staff meet to discuss a project without me, I might expect a follow-up from them… i.e. “Hey Lillian, we were discussing X to clarify some things and concluded that X means Y and Z. Does that sound right to you?” So she might’ve been afraid of being left out of the loop and just didn’t give you time to get her in.

    2. Anony

      This seems very strange and given she is in a new role for a relatively short amount of time I would think treading lightly would make more sense. Building relationships with people not alienating them.

      Coming from the admin side but not at a law firm, I’ve found it to be an issue to have administrators I report to while I also report to an executive. I’ve always had close relationships with my managers and they would supervise me and provide direction. In my case these administrators were not involved in the day to day and usually added more confusion than solved any issues or helped in any way. Perhaps in a setting where direct managers want to be more hands off this could work but maybe with someone else in the role.

      Very strange. You would think she would be happy you want to be clear before doing something, implementing a new process, etc. If she’s this reactive I don’t know what you can do, avoid your collegues? Invite and copy her on everything to keep her informed? Dealing with people’s egos is not easy. Wonder why they hired her, sounds like you guys are managing things well. Good luck on your job search.

    3. Anonsie

      I don’t think you’re missing anything, and I’ve had some similar experiences more than once. I think something about managing without solid authority makes people inclined to try to create authority with things like this. I’ve always just continued to behave normally and not get wrapped up in it, which can be hard to do, but it’s somewhat protective of whatever weird toxic dynamics can sprout.

    4. Not So NewReader

      She doesn’t really know how to manage the situation and her bosses have no major plan to weave her into the business processes.

      None of this is your fault.

      This is going to sound ridiculous but if you are only looking for temporary measures I would seriously consider not meeting without her in conference rooms. Perhaps you and your cohort can email each other or stop by each other’s desks for a few minutes. I would try that where ever possible.

      For your own sanity, do not expect to be able to keep the peace. I think if you let go of this, it will help. In the particular example you give here, I would have said, “Okay, going forward when we need to do X, we should tell you first?” (This woman knows how to bring business to a standstill. Am shaking my head.)

      1. catsAreCool

        For now, try inviting her to these types of things. Try to figure out what she’s sensitive about and cater to it. Eventually she’s likely to be tired of being invited to get tired of going to these meetings.

  45. AMD

    How do you know when it is time to quit?

    I love my job, I make excellent money and have great coworkers, but upper management does not give is enough staff to get the job done. We are in our busiest season right now, and folks are staying late, coming in sick, and running themselves ragged to get work done, and we still can’t deliver on time to customers who then yell at us for bad service. I had to hide to cry for a few minutes, and I come home at night and cry because of the people I couldn’t help. My boss has said something needs to change, and there were plans for the beginning of January, but the person who was supposed to help us left for another job unexpectedly.

    I love my job, and it is my first real job, so I don’t know when it is acceptable to say “I give up.” I would be very hard to replace on short notice, but I don’t know if ultimatums – “Give me more staff now or consider this my two weeks of notice” – are productive. My field does not have great prospects elsewhere right now either.

    How do you know when to give up?

    1. Adam

      It sounds like the stress of your work is invading your life outside the office, and that’s a pretty clear sign to me that it’s time bid adieu to this place. Work will always have a stressful element to it, and some jobs by nature are always going to be maddening. Some people even thrive on that kind of environment. But if you’ve gotten to a point that you can’t leave it at the office anymore I’d start looking pronto before it really begins to drag you down.

    2. Katie the Fed

      I think youi’re at that point. If you’re crying during the day or at home about it – it’s time. For me it was when I was feeling like I was going to vomit as I walked into the office every day – my stress manifests in my gut and I get physically ill in really stressful situations like that.

      If there’s no plan on the horizon for things to change, it’s time to start looking.

    3. Dawn

      Yeah this is burnout, pure and simple. Some situations you just cannot save.

      DO NOT GIVE AN ULTIMATUM. This is juvenile and doesn’t ever work. None of us are irreplaceable, and the instant you start bringing drama into a situation like this is the instant you become replaceable.

      Talk to your boss, tell him in no uncertain terms what’s going on (maybe leave out the crying all the time part), and ask again what the plan is for something changing. And start looking for a new job.

      Also take steps to separate your work and your personal life as much as possible- be extra kind to yourself, plan definite “not-work” activities, and try to carve out as much “me” time as possible. You are NOT RESPONSIBLE for the failings of your superiors to not provide enough manpower to support your clients, and no job is worth crying over. You are NOT RESPONSIBLE for helping every single client, and you are NOT RESPONSIBLE for making every single client happy. You are responsible for doing the best you can with the resources you have (mental and physical), and you’re responsible for pulling back from the day to day stuff as much as possible so you don’t burn out or yell at someone or just go completely nuts!

    4. Senor Poncho

      similar to my job in a lot of ways actually. i haven’t had crying issues, but def nausea sometimes.

    5. danr

      Start your job search and tell yourself that your job is now temporary. I was in a similar situation in my long time company and just making that mental declaration caused the internal pressure to ease. My job didn’t get any easier at first, but I stopped bringing the problems home with me. After a couple of months, I noticed (and my manager noticed) that I had fewer problems and things were running more smoothly. The bonus is that if your job search is serious you might find a new job, or the situation at work might improve and you stop your job search. Either way, you win.

    6. Amtelope

      It’s time to start looking. Ultimatums aren’t going to work, and it’s better to line up another job before you leave if you can, so I’d start your job search before giving any kind of notice. Once you get another job — or truly can’t stand this one anymore and are willing to take the risk of being unemployed for a while — give two weeks notice, and don’t feel guilty about it. That’s a standard amount of time, and if your employer can’t replace you in that amount of time (or winds up not replacing you at all), that’s frankly not your problem.

    7. fposte

      Have you been looking for other jobs? I think it’s easy to get so focused on what’s bad about where you are that you forget it’s about leaving *for* something, not just leaving from something. I don’t think ultimatums are likely to be helpful, but if you haven’t you can certainly talk to a manager and say that this situation is bad enough that you’re considering leaving if it’s not addressed (that’s assuming you’re confident she won’t be punitive if you stay).

      I know it’s wearing to feel like you’re forced into a failure you can’t prevent, but I’d also really try to find a way to consciously divert your focus after you leave work; I think that would help mitigate the stress that crying at night is additionally causing you.

    8. A Non

      My rule of thumb is that when getting admitted to the hospital sounds better than going to work, it’s time to go. Past time, actually. Crying is a big red flag too.

      My husband got stuck in a similar situation, where management said they wanted X, but only provided enough staff for .5 X. I encouraged him to view it as a business decision – if X was truly important to the organization, they would provide enough resources for it. If they’re paying lip service to X and then not actually making it possible, believe their actions, not their words.

      This is all assuming that management knows darn well what’s going on. If you’re getting ready to leave, you don’t need to worry about preserving your political capital – go ahead and spend it rattling cages and trying to get management’s attention.

      Best of luck to you. Not all workplaces are like that.

    9. Future Analyst

      In my previous position, I knew it was time I got out of there ASAP when I was relieved to be home getting DENTAL SURGERY (caps for highlighting the sadness of that statement). I was out Weds-Fri, and gave my notice that Friday (via email– not the best way, but I felt like I had a revelation while being home for those days). It literally took me 3-4 months to let go of the stress and anxiety of being there. So, I totally get where you’re coming from. Assess your financial situation critically, and if you can, give your notice. Even applying for other jobs feels impossible when you’re wound so tightly, so if possible, give yourself a chance to find something that actually sounds good, not just “better” than the hell your living now.

  46. Former Diet Coke Addict

    What’s the most interesting job you’ve ever had? Not necessarily best-paying, or best coworkers, but the work itself was the most interesting?

    I worked in bridal retail, which I found endlessly fascinating because I loved dealing with happy, excited people, and the subject matter was so interesting to me. The entire industry is hugely fascinating to me.

    1. MostCommonLastName

      Mine’s a toss-up between two.

      The first was when I was teaching English in Japan for two years. I met a lot of great people, got to be completely immersed in another culture, and came ou t of it with some hilarious stories. One notable one was having a six-year old mime pooping to me when I pretended I didn’t know what she was saying (She was calling me poop-teacher).

      The second was when I worked on a cruise ship. It was a great way to travel and meet new people despite my motion sickness (yeah, I’m none too bright. I knew it going in and still did a second contract this summer). Though my first full day on my first contract I did get bit by a three year old which wasn’t a great start to things. This was less fun interesting sometimes given how much terrible parenting you end up seeing.

    2. Adam

      Now that I think about it, the time I was student Library tech at my school’s graduate library while I was in college may be my choice. The work itself wasn’t particularly fascinating, but being exposed to a constant stream of books that I otherwise would have never known existed was a real brain churner.

    3. Senor Poncho

      A bit off topic, but my favorite job was actually working as an attendant at a golf course in high school. Literally hung out with my buddies, ~100 golf carts, and a ton of golf stuff all day. Worked hard for like two hours in the morning, then sat back and relaxed for the next six. It was awesome.

    4. Vanishing Girl

      part-time audiovisual archivist!

      Because I got to discover the most interesting and forgotten things, preserve them, research them, and then expose people to how interesting the past was. And learning about old technology (and how to fix it) was the best. But it doesn’t offer much pay or future job opportunities.

    5. LillianMcGee

      Backstage security at a large outdoor concert venue. I LOVED that job but alas, part-time seasonal work that conflicts with dayjob isn’t doable.

      We did all kinds of shows… a lot of country, summer festivals like Warped Tour and Ozzfest, mostly big-name headliners (but not MEGA big-namers), and then those 70s-80s one-hit-wonder types that inexplicably draw in huge crowds.

      I have some excellent stories about that job, but my favorite thing that ever happened was making friends with a guy in the band GWAR. They are some mega-weirdos!

      1. voluptuousfire

        There’s a huge pull for the nostalgia circuit. Everyone wants to remember when they were young and cool, without responsibilities. ;)

        I gotta ask: was it Oderus Urungus? GWAR was one of the bands I’ve always wanted to see but always kept missing. Gotta love coming out out the show covered in fake vomit and blood.

    6. Mimmy

      For me, it’s a toss-up between two jobs:

      Job A was in a human tissue bank, where donor cadaver tissue–bone fragments, soft tissue, etc–are processed and eventually shipped to hospitals. The tissues are used in a wide range of surgeries, such as cervical fusion, ACL repair, even bone cancer (limb salvage). I did the data entry for work orders and product labeling, so the job itself was tearfully boring; yet, I was really fascinated by the whole process and, especially, all that was possible from these tissue forms. The organization has really grown since I left in 2005.

      Job B was a family services nonprofit–this is the job I really struggled with and was ultimately laid off from. However, the organization was centered around a specific condition, and I learned a great deal about the condition and the all of the services available to individuals with this condition.

    7. Make me a match

      My first full-time job was as a matchmaker. It was equal parts hilarious and terrible. Whoever decided that a bunch of 22 year old women should be responsible for the love lives of impressive professional 40-somethings was playing a good joke on everyone.

        1. Make me a match

          I think it’s important to preface that the business owner was much less concerned with helping clients find love as he was with owning a profitable business. He was completely absent in the day-to-day operations of the company.

          I found the job posting on some random job board (like Craigslist or Careerbuilder or something — this was nearly 10 years ago). At the time, I thought it would be interesting or funny to apply, so I did. Maybe 2 hours later, I got a call from the business owner who asked me to complete an online personality test to see if I was a good fit for the role. I should have taken this hiring practice as a sign of things to come, but I was 22 and jobless and didn’t know anything. A few hours later, the business owner invited me down to the office for an interview (in which he proceeded to tell me that he wasn’t sure if he even wanted to interview me or not… thanks, guy). I met the rest of the staff, which were all 22-25 year old women like me, and then got the job offer.

          I stayed for 8 months, mostly because I loved my coworkers and I loved some of our clients. Our boss was a chauvinistic nightmare (a story for another day) who cared only that we hit our quota of matches made, not whether we were happy in our jobs or if our clients were happy in their membership with our firm.

          1. Anonsie

            What does it say about me that despite the phrase “chauvinistic nightmare” I still want to try this?

      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        Whoa, hello potential AAM interview subject! If you’d be up for an interview about this job for the site (and if you feel like you remember enough about the work), I’d love to do one. Email me if so…

    8. Gene

      Sailing instructor/charter skipper/mate on a square rigger for a company on San Francisco Bay. It was part-time in addition to my full-time job, but I could easily put in 25+ hours a week if I wanted to.

      Typical schedule was one evening class during the week (2ish hours), Friday evening club cruise/race (3-4 hours), Saturday and/or Sunday classes (7-9 hours), and as many Sunset Cruises on the Brigantine Rendezvous as I wanted to work in. If I wasn’t teaching on a weekend day, there was usually an Angel Island Rendezvous cruise, or a charter to work, sometimes a wedding on the Bay.

    9. Adonday Veeah

      I worked at a grief counseling center. In addition to facilitating grief support groups and meeting one-on-one with clients in grief, I also “specialized” in clients who were dying and facing their own end-of-life issues. I also worked in the community with teams of volunteers at worksites and schools where a death had occurred. Although I have no desire to do this kind of work again, I must say it was the most uplifting and inspiring work I’ve ever done and it changed how I live my life.

      1. Not So NewReader

        Just curious. How long does the average person last in this type of job?

        It has to be very hard emotionally.

    10. Elizabeth West

      I used to work at a materials testing lab (part-time, for barely above minimum), and I LOVED that job. LOVED it. I was the receptionist and I checked in dirt, water, and oil samples, tracked the analytical workload, cleaned out the fridges, washed lab glassware, did the filing, prepared sample bottles with acid, and printed reports.

      There were twelve of us and we often closed the office at lunch and walked to a nearby tavern and had sammiches. We played jokes on each other like putting a giant rubber rat into the fridge and sticking a Frankenstein’s monster cardboard stand-up figure in odd places to scare each other. I LOVED THIS JOB. I loved the people. If it had been full-time with benefits, it would have been perfect.

      The owner’s wife died (that was really sad; she was awesome), and he didn’t want to upgrade the equipment, so the environmental portion was shut down and I lost my job. He kept it open doing oil testing for the railroads and metallurgy for a while, but soon enough, he decided to shut it down. I was between jobs and he paid me in cash to come help clean everything out. He sold me my little oak desk and printer table and a stainless steel-topped lab table for $70. I have some of the plants from there. I have more file folders than I’ll ever need in my life. I also have the rubber rat. :)

      1. Not So NewReader

        That’s a great story. Sad, though. I am glad you got some mementos from that experience.

      2. Jean

        I liked reading that you still have the rubber rat.:-) Did you name him/her?
        I may try out your wandering Frankenstein figure in my own office. IMHO humor is a vital ingredient for every workplace! (Okay, maybe not the siloes where people keep watch over nuclear weapons. But almost every other workplace.)

    11. Carrie in Scotland

      Mine was working a bookshop. I was mostly in the children’s section and apart from a few horrible moments – bad customers, horrible manager, lying to children about a guest not being able to turn up (manager never booked anyone for an event) and having to do it myself – I hate speaking out loud – I really enjoyed my job and – I was good at it. I had my favourite, regular customers who I’d tell up and coming publishing dates or recommend books for their children and so on.

      I got extremely good at being able to suggest a wide variety of books when customers came up and asked “what would you recommend for a 7 year old girl who likes princesses/fairies/ponies/cars and who is an advanced reader”.

      Good colleagues as well.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale

        I loved working in a bookstore. I loved recommending books to so many different people– I got really good at getting to the heart of what they were looking for. I worked in two different stores and loved them both. The second was in NYC, right after grad school, and I have a few really fun celebrity stories. I used to say that if it paid, and if I didn’t have a master’s in a totally different field, I would still be working in books.

    12. LabTech

      That’d be my job at a carbon dating lab. Most of our samples were just bits of wood and dirt, but we periodically got culturally-significant artifacts: petrified coffee beans from civilizations 1,000 years ago, strips of parchment from religious texts several hundreds of years old, once even a small wooden sword with a face carved on the handle. I’d also regularly handle a really toxic acid in a dark room and found out just what Excel’s capable of. Really learned a lot of new techniques and about geochronology from that job!

    13. Anonsie

      So trying to think of this made me realize all my jobs have been weird and interesting in different ways. I’ve done a lot of kooky stuff.

      My jobs in medical research would have to win out for most interesting overall (finding new information, things no one knows, your very own self? of course!).

      But a close second would be the shovel bum work I did as a student, working on archaeological excavations on Pacific islands. Because one, going to new places in the Pacific is always interesting, and two because even when you’re finding “boring” stuff it can be a discovery. One site was almost nothing but fish bones and charcoal but it was actually a big argument against some existing theories about the social structure in that area pre-European contact. And a lot of things will be new to you either way, you know, I’d never seen any Micronesian bone hooks until I started pulling them out of the ground and having to classify them by type. They weren’t special for any reason aside from just being something I’d never seen before. Also one time we found a buried body we were not expecting to find, which was neat.

      You also learn a hell of a lot about history and local politics when you’re talking about people’s ancestors. The rules and reactions are extremely different every place you go, so you’re constantly re-immersing yourself in new cultural issues every time you go to a new place.

    14. CheeryO

      I spent a summer waking up at 4:30 AM to drive around to all the beaches in my county and take water samples. Then I’d go to the lab and run E. coli tests for each one to see if the water was safe for people to swim in. It was so fun, and I loved being able to work 100 percent independently.

    15. INTP

      Recruiting. It was really interesting to be behind the scenes of hiring with many clients. I always have stories to get people outraged, too.

    16. AnotherFed

      Most interesting was definitely working at a science museum. We were pretty small, but man did we go through a lot of liquid nitrogen. The museum was in a partially converted industrial building that was more than 100 years old, so it had all sorts of random features, nooks and crannies, and “secret” rooms. The public spaces were pretty standard, but the graveyard of old exhibits tucked away and lost demonstration items (including some snakes) that kept migrating around the museum was pretty fun.

    17. voluptuousfire

      Interning at a record label in the early 00s. It was run by Danny Goldberg, who managed Nirvana. For me, it was so awesome because I had been a huge Nirvana fan as a teenager and seeing all the gold records for their albums was a massive treat. Just knowing the stories he must have had was fascinating.

    18. Clever Name

      Great topic! Looking back, all of my jobs have been interesting. I’ve been a library page, a groundskeeper, a research assistant, lab assistant, environmental specialist, adjunct instructor, and I’ve been an environmental consultant for the last 6 years.

      My favorite job was when I worked for an airport. I had ramp access, so I could be where the planes taxi up to the gate and drive around on the access road. Interesting things were always happening, and I got to watch planes take off and land hundreds of times a day as I sat at my desk.

  47. Calacademic

    Major imposter syndrome here. I work in a laboratory (actually several labs) and part of the reason I was hired was to be the “expert” with some new lab techniques. Of course, there are a few things I’m not familiar with yet; but because it is lab work, sometimes these things can be actually hazardous.

    Good news: asked a question before doing something stupid/dangerous. Bad news: asked a question that makes me look really, really stupid. I am beating myself up about this. A female colleague told me (as we were discussing this) that my beating myself up about this is a very female things to do (I am a woman) and that most guys would say, “Oh, that was dumb…” and move on. Would any of you agree with this view? What do you tell yourself when you do **** like this?

    1. TheExchequer

      Tell yourself, “Well, now I know.” And, as almost every good teacher who has had a student who asked a fairly basic question has said, “If you had the question and asked, chances are pretty good several other people had the same question and didn’t.”

    2. fposte

      Own it. Being embarrassed and goofy about it is what makes it a problem, not asking the question. And then I try to stop talking to myself about it entirely, because that’s part of the problem more than it is a solution, and move on to something more productive.

        1. Calacademic

          It wasn’t a stupid question (clarifications about safety are never, ever stupid!) but it was something that demonstrated that I don’t fully understand what I’m doing. So maybe all for the good, as it means I’m taking a second look at everything.

          1. fposte

            Yeah, this sounds like it ties into Impostor Syndrome then–“Oh, no, I revealed my genuine capability level and now I’m doomed!” But you know, they’re really not likely to be dumb either, and they probably know your skill and knowledge level pretty well and that’s why they want you there.

    3. Christy

      She’s totally right–it’s (generally speaking) a thing that women do that men don’t do.

      Read Secret Thoughts of Successful Women by Valerie Young! It’s all about imposter syndrome. I’m reading it right now and it is SPOT ON for me. I seriously want to recommend it to everyone.

      1. Calacademic

        Thanks for this recommendation. I looked at the preview on Amazon and I need to read this book, oh so badly!!!!

    4. A Non

      In my field (IT) it’s expected that people will specialize and know lots in one area and not know relatively basic stuff in others. Few tech projects are purely within one area, though, so you usually have multiple people with different experience sets working together to get it done. Asking “dumb” questions or readily admitting you don’t know something simple is a trait of confident people – it’s a good thing, I admire it, and I’ve tried to develop it for myself. Really competent people ask “remind me whether we want the blue wire or the red one?” in the same tone as “Do you want mint teapots or raspberry?”, absorb the answer, and then move right along. You’ll get to the part of the project where your expertise is needed soon enough. You can do it!

      1. catsAreCool

        “Asking “dumb” questions or readily admitting you don’t know something simple is a trait of confident people” This!

    5. Not So NewReader

      I totally agree with “own it”. Depending on my circumstances, who I am with, some times I will say out loud, “Oh God, I hit a brain void.” It’s amazing how much of release that is. Caution: KNOW your audience. If you don’t know, then don’t do this.

      The other thing I have done is silently promise myself never to make that particular mistake again. My promises to myself are very serious matters. It involves full commitment to keeping that promise. An odd thing happened with this, I found myself getting stronger so that when I did make the next stupid mistake, I died a little LESS on the inside.

      This is when I learned there are two painful parts to making a dumb mistake.

      The first part is the public humiliation.

      The second part is the inner feeling of letting yourself down, allowing yourself to look foolish in front of others. And this one, is the one that can hurt the most. The rebuttal to that let down is to promise yourself to be sharper and work sharper. Tell yourself “I will not let ME down again!”

    6. Anx

      If it helps:

      I’m a biotech student and I’m nervous about applying for an internship at the company my instructor works at because I’m convinced he knows I could make mistakes. And as you know it’s not an industry where mistakes are welcomed (and can be deadly). So I feel justified in my lack of confidence.

      But I made fewer errors than my male lab partners. And I doubt they’re second guessing applying. I earned a 98 in the class.

  48. Hypnotist Collector

    Hi, I just want to thank Alison and all the commenters on this site. After 2.5 years of job hunting and freelancing at a non-sustainable level, I have a new job starting next week – just got the offer yesterday. I had the trifecta of being older, only an undergrad degree, and a somewhat checkered career history with a lot of self-employment in my resume, and thought I’d never get hired again after fielding rejection after rejection (times a thousand). An old boss recruited me for a great position with a growing company, and this site was an enormous help in the interview process, the salary negotiation, and especially for the posts on how to grapple with the ubiquitous “do what you love” mentality that made me feel a bit ashamed for even needing a job and not being a hugely successful and wildly self-promotional entrepreneur/activist/artist. Although my search (and work history) has focused primarily on nonprofit work, arts organizations and mission-driven or social change organizations, this job does not fall into that category — but none of those other organizations wanted to hire me, so I’m good with it although it does feel different and slightly odd.

    This job comes with long hours and a long commute for at least the next four months, but I’m extremely optimistic and grateful. And I’m telling everyone I know who’s unhappy in their job, or searching, to make this site their bible. Thank you to everyone here!!

    1. Anony

      Congratulations and best of luck with the new job! Out there searching now so it’s nice to hear positive updates!

  49. Calla

    Here’s a question!

    I am doing one week PTO followed by one week WFH next month due to a surgery (for anyone who remembers a few months ago, I got approved for my chest reduction!). In like 4 years of working full-time as an admin assistant, I have NEVER taken off more than 2 days at a time and even that was rare. I’m an admin and worried about the department/my exec functioning without me, ha.

    Obviously, I plan to (a) go over who will sub in for any necessary stuff while I’m out, and (b) look ahead to make sure anything that needs to be done is done (down to ordering catering for a meeting or whatever).

    But if you’re an admin, are there less obvious things that you found worked really well OR that you wished you did– to make things run smoothly– during a week-long time off period?

    1. Mal

      When I take vacation(I’m the only admin for the company and the only person who understands how email and the copier/scanner work) I try to pre-anticipate ANYTHING that may come up. So I pre-date and pre-print any invoices that may need to be sent out early, I run payroll spreadsheets early in an email that just needs to be SENT to the accountant, I make stacks of copies or “you may need this if this happens” piles across my desk with LOTS of Post-It notes. I also leave out a laminated sheet of logins & passwords, wifi, who to call if something breaks/goes missing/needs to be purchased. My spare set of keys and corporate credit cards(Staples, ect.) get left on my desk as well.
      Basically, take stock of what you do each day, what could come up in the next two weeks, and do those two weeks of work in the one week before you leave.
      Oh and set a vacation email that says to contact so and so here, here and here.
      Best of luck!!!

      1. Calla

        Thanks! Info sheets are a good idea; fortunately MOST people know how to use the printer/scanner, but the conference room projector is another story…

    2. Kai

      I don’t know if this applies to you, but I set a ton of meetings in Outlook and usually have everything come from my own calendar, even though I’m rarely in the meeting myself. When I left for two weeks for my wedding/honeymoon, I reset a lot of the standing meetings so that they would come from my boss’s (or whoever’s) calendar, so that they could change the times/dates themselves if they needed to.

      1. Calla

        Hmm, we use a non-Outlook calendaring system that might make that a major pain, but “How do you want to handle meeting changes if I own the meeting?” is a good question to discuss anyway!

    3. some1

      Have your sub shadow you before you go on leave if possible – it will help you remember to show her stuff that may seem obvious. The first time my only admin counterpart had the day off and I picked up our mail the mailbox, I realized I didn’t know which one was mine ours because they didn’t have Suite Numbers on them, so I had to try all of them.

      Give her the contact info of someone s/he can go to questions, and let the questionee know to expect that.

  50. Ask a Manager Post author

    Please notice the new Topics button on the left side of the top navigation bar. It takes you to a full listing of post categories (the same listing that exists in the middle of the righthand sidebar, but now you don’t have to scroll trying to find it).

    Thanks to a reader for suggesting this!

    1. CollegeAdmin

      Alison, can I make a category suggestion – “internal interviews”? I was looking for posts on the topic the other day, and while the search bar was useful, I was surprised there wasn’t already a tag. Just a thought!

      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        Let me take a look, but I think most of the discussion of internal interviews here has been in “short answer” posts, which just end up in the “short answer” category, which is not very helpful for your purposes..

  51. Jen

    Any tips on how to dress for work at 30+ lbs overweight? I’ve been back from maternity leave for….a while. And I’m struggling. I (possibly foolishly) took a promotion, which means I’ve been working a ton of hours. So between work and my toddler (!!!), everything else has kind of fallen to the side. I try to stick to all black outfits for the sake of simplicity. But I don’t look professional. Business casual will generally be fine but I also need some kind of a suit. I just don’t know what to do. I’ve been winging it thinking that I would lose the weight. I’ve renewed my efforts but I need to get some clothes for right now.

    1. super anon

      I suggest you buy a suit and then get it tailored. In my experience (from being very large (size 16), to very small (size 1), to a nice average middle ground (size 6/8)), it’s more difficult to find clothes that fit well off the rack without adjustment when you’re larger, and when you’re larger fit is so integral to making you looking you best (well, it’s integral to everyone, but I digress). With suits, fit is even more important, because nothing looks as bad as a sloppy, ill fitting suit. If I were you, I’d buy a cheaper suit (like RW&CO level) and get it tailored, and then spend $$ on a nice suit to get tailored and wear for a looong time when I met my goal weight.

      I know it will be difficult to spend money on something when you know it most likely won’t fit you in the future, but remember, the weight didn’t go on in a day, and it’s not going to come off in a day either. You should buy clothes that will fit and look good for right now, because you need it, and it will likely fit you for months if you lose the weight slowly. :)

    2. Amtelope

      Seconding the suggestion to bite the bullet and buy a suit that fits you now. Get it tailored if it doesn’t fit well off the rack. Waiting to lose weight before you buy clothes that fit is the way too many people wind up never buying clothes that fit.

      In terms of business casual, blazers/jackets are versatile and can dress up more casual pants and tops. All black can be tough to pull off in the office without looking either too casual or too funereal (I say as someone who would cheerfully wear nothing but black forever.) Try a colored jacket over a black slacks/shirt combo, or over a black dress, or colored shells/tanks under a dark jacket or suit. Most importantly, though, make sure everything fits — be ruthless about putting away clothes that are a size too small until they really look good on you.

    3. Celeste

      Get the suit that fits you now, and save it for after any other babies. It’s very hard to cut down a woman’s suit jacket, and I’m not sure the money you spend on it will be worth it. Look at Macy’s; they always have coupons for sales, and it might not be that bad.

    4. Sarah Nicole

      I know what you mean. I’m overweight, too, but I definitely would not consider myself very large (not that there is anything wrong with that!). I’ve been struggling because my current weight issues are due to thyroid problems, causing me to have lower energy, less working out, etc…Plus even though I am active and eat well, it’s hard to lose the weight. So I know where you’re coming from hoping that you may drop some of it and don’t want to go out and buy a whole new wardrobe if you’re working to get the weight off.

      However, I will say that once I accepted my situation and bought some very flattering dresses, a few nice tops to go over comfortable black pants, and a suit, I felt so much more confidant and better! There are a few basic dresses I wear under blazers sometimes, so that has helped me to have variety without needing to buy separate outfits for many days of work. I also, despite being only 25, dress in a more vintage style sometimes. I think those high-waisted skirts and silk button-up tops that aren’t too tight are so cute!

      Finally, I do feel that 30 pounds overweight (I am about 40 pounds over) is no issue for some of these more flattering styles of dresses I wear. I wore some of them when I was 20 pounds lighter, and they looked good then, too. You might be able to find just a few pieces that will allow you leeway of 10 to 20 pounds so you’re not buying new clothes at every stage of your weight fluctuation. I hope this helps. Good luck, and remember that you’re beautiful at any size and that you can dress how you want!

    5. WanderingAnon

      Wrap dresses in a forgiving fabric with a light cardigan can look great on a person at a lot of different sizes (and I should know, I’ve gone from 10-12 to 16-18 and back to 12-14 at different times). Don’t be afraid to buy things with color! I use sale sites like ideel to find bargains on dresses and other pieces in my size.

    6. voluptuousfire

      JC Penney. They have tons of business wear in both plus and straight sizes for decent prices. You can probably find a suit for a reasonable price there. Or a black shift dress with a colorful blazer or cardigan works really nicely. Or stick with the all black and throw on the colorful blazer/cardigan. Throw on a statement necklace and you’re good to go. H&M usually has some more professional looking jewelry for a good price.

      1. voluptuousfire

        I’d be about 40 lbs overweight and I wore a black shift dress with a cobalt blue blazer over it and a long, filigree gold necklace I got in Target. I wore pantyhose with it and a pair of simple, nude patent leather pumps and a coral colored tote bag and it looked really polished and professional. I got a lot of compliments on the bag. :)

  52. Ranter

    Gah! Need to rant! My coworker is a delicate, fragile flower and I have to pull her weight. Who else has delicate, fragile coworkers here who just can’t do stuff because it’s too distressing? And how can you tell them without hurting their feelings that they need to just suck it up?

    My coworker is driving me up the wall. She doesn’t like blood or needles, so she got mad when a coworker and I were talking about the company blood donation campaign or flu shots. She refuses to do some things because it’s just too distressing and upsetting, so because we do the same work, I have to finish it. For example, we work for a legal employer (we’re not lawyers) and going over criminal cases is something we do among other things, but she refuses to do certain ones because reading about murder, rape, etc. is disturbing. But it’s still work.

    1. Anie

      I’ll tell you want I told our janitor last week when he told me he didn’t want to mop up a spill. Do the work or be replaced.

      Lol! I know you, as a co-worker and not a manager, can’t really say that. But… does her manager know these things?

    2. Case of the Mondays

      I think certain reasonable accommodations are okay (not in the legal sense, like in the being nice sense) but you only get one or two of those as “standing orders” not 100. Also, if you have an issue where you can’t read about rape and murder, you don’t work for a criminal defense attorney or a prosecutors office. I don’t work on DUI cases and that is fine. But I couldn’t work where I work and say I refuse to work on x, y and z cases. Also, she needs to suck it up about you just talking about a blood drive. Making her work one would be a different story.

      1. catsAreCool

        “Also, if you have an issue where you can’t read about rape and murder, you don’t work for a criminal defense attorney or a prosecutors office.” This!

    3. Celeste

      There is just so much untreated anxiety in this country. She needs to have somebody tell her to either work on getting it under control, or be replaced. I’m all for compassion about issues, but only when somebody is trying to work it out.

    4. Malissa

      Suck it up buttercup?

      But really the more she does those things the more used to them she will be.
      “Oh Jane I would love to do that for you but I got X, Y, and Z case to go over right now.”
      “Jane if this disturbs you so much maybe you are in the wrong line of work.”
      Unless you are her supervisor, quit doing her work. If it’s assigned to her then let her sink or swim on her own. Playing into the delicate flower hand will just give her encouragement to do it more. Also make sure your manager knows she’s doing this.

      1. Sunflower

        Yes all of these things. You are only fueling this if you continue to do work for her. She will realize very quickly once you stop picking up her extra work that she either needs to deal with it or get out

      2. Not So NewReader

        This. The go-to response is “It’s part of the job”. Followed by a shrug and walking away with “we are all in the same boat!”.

        Please stop covering for her. Your cover up is like keeping mushrooms in the dark- the mushrooms are growing and growing, likewise her fears are just going to get larger if you keep doing what you are doing. She is either going to grow coping tools or have to quit.

        1. AnonAcademic

          THIS. I had a coworker who was extremely high strung. Only when my boss saw her snap at me because she was panicking about something stupid, did anything change. Trying to compensate for her behavior just meant it didn’t seem as bad as it was. As cruel as it may seem, her running in tears to your boss because “they won’t stop talking about donating BLOOD!” or “they won’t read the case file about XYZ murder for me!” might actually be good in terms of demonstrating how her issues are impacting her ability to function in the workplace.

    5. Anx

      This is only a very small detail about this larger issue, but as someone with a blood phobia, I do suggest being patient in allowing her to excuse herself from the room during those conversations.

      I can dissect animals and human tissue, study body systems, teach anatomy, but some days just hearing about a blood drive or seeing the red cross signs leaves me light headed and woozy. I would accommodate this specific annoyance because the alternative could be a preventable workplace accident if she hurts herself falling down (I’ve passed out many times in my life without injury but you never knows). Also even if she doesn’t go into full panic attack mode she may start to have the anxiety sweats which can be quite embarrassing at work.

  53. TheExchequer

    So, for the first time in my career “life”, I was asked my opinion about a coworker’s ability in my boss’s attempt to get a second (well, third really) opinion about whether or not to keep them. I’m trying not to second guess everything I said and wonder whether I made the right decision.

    (I said that she seemed friendly, that I didn’t know anything about the quality of her work as she’d only been at work for one day, and that she seemed to have some personal issues right now but that I wasn’t sure her not having a job would help. My brother says maybe I should have said it wasn’t my place to comment, but I *want* my boss to ask my opinion and that seems like it would have the opposite effect – but I don’t know).

    Does the gnawing uncertainty of whether you did the right thing ever go away?

    1. Creag an Tuire

      So the boss is considering axing somebody after -one day- (I’m assuming she didn’t do something egregious like flip off the receptionist to warrant this, right?), and is surveying other employees who don’t work with her to decide whether to do so, without concealing that this is what s/he is doing?

      Honestly, I’d file this under “don’t feel responsible for the company’s shoddy management”.

      1. TheExchequer

        Well, she’s shown up for one day of work . . . out of the three she was *supposed* to be working. (Apparently, she had an accident on the first day she was supposed to be working). Boss 1 kind of wants to give her a chance. Boss 2 is ready to fire her. Boss 1 did not come right out and say what he was doing, but the general tone and body language made it fairly obvious. It’s kind of hard because Boss 1 and I kind of want to see what she can do first and Boss 2 is saying that her demand is more immediate and pervasive than the new hire can apparently commit to.

      2. INTP

        If the coworkers who don’t even work with her know that she has personal life issues after 1 day, then the fact that this woman’s tenure may be short is probably no secret.

    2. ExceptionToTheRule

      Sometimes, when circumstances later prove that you were right. I had a manager from another department ask me about the suitability of someone for a job and I said I thought they were entirely wrong for it. A couple of days later, I had that feeling you’re talking about. A couple of days after that the individual did something that reminded me why I’d said what I did.

      1. TheExchequer

        The other thing that kind of bothers me is that I *didn’t* come forward with what I consider her biggest negative: even for our fairly laid-back office, she’s borderline too casual.

        1. Not So NewReader

          Don’t worry about that part. They already know that she is too casual. a) She showed up for only 1 out of 3 work days. b) You know too much about her personal life after one day of work.
          The bosses have everything they need to know to make a decision. No worries.

    3. Not So NewReader

      Wanted to say- please don’t listen to your brother about this matter. If you said it was not your place to comment you would have looked foolish. Yes, you do want the boss to ask your opinion and you want to make sure that you give him some good points for consideration each time.

      IF I have a basically sane boss, I will answer that question. If the boss is insane, I will find a way to side step the question because I know the insane boss will use it against me later on. For the most part, I have usually answered that question honestly.

  54. Perpetua

    I need regarding an employee’s weight, which is always a personal and potentially sensitive issue.

    At my workplace, we have started giving the employees a company-branded shirt only recently, one batch was made last summer and there are no immediate plans for another one. Female/male design differs a little bit, female shirts run in sizes S-L (possibly XL, but the sizes are on the smaller side definitely), male are M-XL, and so far there hasn’t been an issue with finding an appropriate size for an employee.

    However, one of our most recent hires is larger and it looks like even the male XL might be too small for her. How do I approach it in the best way without making a big deal out of it? Do I offer her the male XL shirt to try and if it doesn’t fit say that we’ll be doing another batch with a greater assortment of sizes soon (and then try to make it happen with the bosses)? Something else?

    1. Katie the Fed

      Are they required to wear the shirts to work?

      If so, I think the only option you have is to find a way to offer more sizes. There are plenty of companies who can print off a shirt with a design – just ask her what size she wants and have it made.

      I wouldn’t go with a men’s shirt – they fit differently. As a lady who is very well-endowed in the northern hemisphere, I find men’s shirts really difficult to wear.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale

        Agreed– if wearing the shirt is a requirement, and your company provides the shirts, ask her what size she would prefer. Once she tells you, call the printing company and ask them to do a special order. It may be pricey, but it will be worth it.

        If the shirt is not a requirement, tell her you’ve run out of that size (or simply that you don’t have it) and tell her you’ll order her one in the next batch.

        Don’t offer her a shirt of any size. Rule of thumb: never offer anyone anything of any size! I’ve had people thrust “smalls” or “mediums” at me because they just don’t think I’m as big as I am, and I’ve had people hand me men’s large when the men’s medium would suit me better (might be tighter but would look 100 times better).

        1. Sabrina

          Yes and don’t drop off the largest size you have at her desk so that you can check it off her list. This is what my company did (after I told them 3 times thanks, but that won’t fit). The stupid thing still doesn’t fit me, so all I have is clutter.

      2. Perpetua

        Nope, they’re not required to wear it to work, it’s just a freebie.

        I’m not sure if the company we used would print just one shirt, but I guess I can ask and then find another one if they don’t, even if the shirt comes out slightly different.

        1. Natalie

          I grew up in this business and my brother runs the family screenprinting company now.

          In general, there should be no issue printing one shirt in an XL/XXL/whatever. The setup costs for screenprinting, and thus the reasons for minimum orders or set up fees, are related to creating the art and/or the screen itself. Once that’s been done, it can be printed on literally anything it will fit on, ad infinitum. (Occasionally there is a small surcharge for larger sizes because garment manufacturers charge more for everything above XL, but that is usually a dollar or two.) We ran orders for, say, 12 S, 30 M, 20 L, 5 XL, 1 XXL, 1XXXL all the time.

          If you’ve already ordered the shirts and they’ve destroyed the screens, you may have a problem. General tip for ordering screenprinted garments, send out a size chart ahead of time and find out what you need. Then customize your order to what your employees have already requested. (Maybe throw in a few extra in common sizes just in case. If your order is large enough, you’re talking less than $1 per extra shirt.)

          1. Natalie

            Derp, I missed that you ordered them last summer.

            If the company you ordered them from is keeping your art and/or screens on file, they can probably run you one more shirt for a minimal cost. You may want to find out who supplies their garments and get a size chart the employee can look at, so she can determine what size will likely actually fit.

        2. Sunflower

          I wouldn’t worry about it. When she signs on you can say ‘we have some company shirts available for free if you’d like to take one’ and leave it at that. Either 1. She’ll decline or 2. She’ll take a shirt and if it doesn’t fit, she probably won’t bring it up.

          I applaud you for trying to help her out though!

      3. skyline

        I would ask what she prefers from either the men’s or women’s list and try to get it. My org made t-shirts for all staff last year and let us order the style and size we wanted. Many of the women, both small and large, preferred the straighter men’s style for one reason or another.

        (I actually really like the one I got! It’s shockingly nice! For once the women’s tee was not some horrible baby tee that I had to keep pulling down. This one is long enough and even has a v-neck that’s flattering without being too deep.)

    2. Celeste

      You can email a survey asking what size shirt to get for each person, with a size chart from the company. If the one you use does not carry plus sizes, you can look around for a different one. Another option is to have an independent embroidery place make just the one shirt for you with your brand. There are sites that sell blank shirts in many colors for this purpose. It’s more work this way, but I guess it depends on how good of a deal you’re getting with the regular place.

      1. Case of the Mondays

        I’d go w/ the email survey without the size chart from the company. Just say “I need everyone’s shirt size before I place an order.” If she writes back XXXL, you then need to find a place that can make it.

        1. Celeste

          The thing is, you need the size chart from the place you’re going to use. They aren’t standard from one place to another at all. Unfortunately. But email is the way to go, so nobody is passing around a form that others see.

          1. Perpetua

            Well, now that I think more about it, we’re bound to run out of certain sizes at some point (we ordered almost double the amount of shirts the first time so that we’d have them for future employees as well, but that meant just guessing the number of shirts we might need in each size), so the e-mail survey and getting it done some time soon will probably not seem unusual, which is one of the things I was worried about.

          2. Natalie

            The places that print the shirts generally aren’t making the blank garments. They should be able to get any size you need from their various garment suppliers. Frankly, if they can’t or won’t, they kind of suck as a printing company and you should go with someone else.

      2. Prolific Scribbler

        This is perfect – do a google form! I’ve been on both sides of this problem. My genius former employer ordered us Nike dry fit polo shirts that were tiny! I worked with a group of women who were all sizes 0-4, where I am a size 12-14. Even the XL was uncomfortable tight for me to wear in a professional environment…

    3. Fante

      If employees are required to wear these shirts in a professional setting, I think the only option is to expand your selection of sizes. If it’s just a nice freebie, tell her which sizes are available, let her pick, and say nothing more about it.

    4. LCL

      Ask her what size T shirt she wears, and ask her to specify if it is a man’s or woman’s size. Then get it made. If maleXL is the largest size shirt you have in stock you need some bigger sizes, irregardless of your new hire’s need.
      To me, women’s T shirt sizing is a joke because they fit best if you are 5’8″ or shorter. I lost some weight, but I still wear (mostly) men’s shirts and pants because I didn’t get any shorter.

      1. Kelly L.

        And if you have small boobs.

        I like to buy funny nerd T-shirts, and I got toweringly annoyed at one company a few months ago when I realized their women’s “3x” was too small for me in the bust. I’m overweight and busty and wear a 1x/2x in regular clothes. I wear a 1x in men’s t-shirts, or a 2x if I want it to be loose. But I don’t like the men’s cut–I want the lower neck and more tapered waist of the women’s–but there is no room for my girls in the women’s t-shirts offered by most companies.

    5. HR Manager

      Ask her what size she wants and let her tell you. She could be self-aware enough and say I totally need the largest size, even if it’s the male t-shirts, or she could be asking for a small even if she could no way squeeze an arm through it. Doesn’t matter – she can do whatever she wants with it. Let her tell you what she wants. :)

  55. Monodon monoceros

    I finally gave the publisher a go-ahead to print the book I’ve been working on editing. I have such mixed feelings- a huge one of relief that it is finally off my plate, but then also a huge sense of dread that there is a mistake that I’ve missed! I don’t know if I’ll even want to look at it once it actually comes…

    1. Anie

      As an editor, I know this feeling. Sometimes there are mistakes. It happens. As long as there aren’t oodles of them, celebrate having this off your plate!

      And prepare for the next one.

      1. Monodon monoceros

        Luckily this is the last hard-copy, so at least electronic versions will be easier to publish errata if there is anything major wrong. It makes me a little sad that we won’t have more physical books for the shelf, but most readers access the papers electronically anyway, so it really is a waste of money to print future books like ours.

    2. Elizabeth West

      I have that feeling every time I send out a report. “Did I miss something? Does the footer have the wrong information in it? Did I forget to change X?” Arrgghh!

      1. Monodon monoceros

        Yeah, I almost had a heart attack this morning (before giving the go-ahead luckily) when I realised two figure legends were swapped accidentally (typesetter’s fault, but I should have noticed it ages ago!). I spent hours going through each chapter after that checking each figure legend.

        Crossing my fingers that once that was fixed there’s nothing else major.

    3. fposte

      As an editor myself, I’m also thinking of Judy’s great comment in a recent post (paraphrased because Google search fail), “Sometimes you just have to shoot the engineer and put the thing into production.” Replace “engineer” with “editor.”

      1. Monodon monoceros

        Pretty sure the publisher wanted to shoot me- partly my fault- I realised we weren’t being consistent on one term that resulted in having to change lots of little things, but partly their fault-they had a bad habit of fixing only one thing per page, even if there were multiple edits needed on a page. That was extremely frustrating.

  56. Pushy Penguin

    I have a true informational interview today for an internal position. My boss asked if I would like to be considered and I am getting an opportunity to talk to the current Chocolate Teapot Manager. What are some questions you would want to know before you considered moving department or taking a promotion?

    1. Not So NewReader

      What do you think has helped you the most to do your job as manager?
      Can you give an example of an unexpected challenge that you faced here?
      What can I expect in terms of on-going training for me and for the people?

  57. anonima in tejas

    anyone have a good app or suggestion on how to best archive/keep up with tracking expenses for travel for business? I travel for business 1X monthly, and I would love a more streamlined method than keeping all the receipts in an envelope (which I sometimes misplace).

    1. Judy

      I’ve always used the app that the company uses. But if I didn’t have an app, at the minimum, I’d take a picture of the receipts each night, so you have another copy, maybe even mail them to your work email.

    2. Agile Phalanges

      If your company uses Concur, see about getting the app. You’ll have to set it up from the website, but then you can do just about any function using just your phone, including taking a photo of the receipts (assuming your company will accept electronic only–if they need paper, you’ll have to keep the paper, regardless of the app).

      If they use a different online expense reporting tool, chances are good that one has an app, too.

      If they don’t, tell them to get with the times, and set up your own Excel spreadsheet for tracking, and an envelope/pouch/pocket of your purse or briefcase for the actual receipts.

  58. km

    I messed up a few addresses when shipping press packages to other organizations for the organization I am working at. I feel like this is a huge screw up and it will be mentioned to my temp agency. I am fixing the addresses but I just am feeling really anxious about this issue as it did cost money for fedex to change the addresses.

    1. Sadsack

      Hey, you are not alone! We have all made mistakes. In the past six months, there have been a couple of open threads where myself and others confessed to huge errors we made and begged others to share their colossal mistake stories so we would feel better.

      My most recent mistake cost my company about $100k, but I was able to go through a lengthy process of getting it corrected, so we were refunded the full amount — but we were out $100k for a couple of months due to my error. I lost a lot of sleep over that one.

    2. Celeste

      I think it will help a lot if you admit to the mistake instead of having somebody else catch it. Also, figure out how you made the mistake and describe how you will prevent it from happening again. If you accept responsibility and show how you are sorry by saying how you want to atone for the mistake, it will be for the best.

      1. Not So NewReader

        This. Everyone makes mistakes. The way to distinguish yourself is to own the mistake. Apologize. Share your plan for insuring it never happens again. Offer to help clean up- if there is something that needs to be fixed.

        I made a $60k error. My boss loved that I told him all about it. In my case, I needed my boss to tell me how to fix it. So we fixed it together. My hands were shaking, I was rattled. My boss was satisfied that I was decently shook up over it and it probably would not happen again. So he shifted to “We don’t worry about the stuff we catch, we can fix it.”

  59. tango

    Can I throw out there how much I absolutely HATE writing cover letters? I know they’re essential to make a great first impression (hopefully – if written correctly) but they are the worst part of job hunting for me. I almost find interviewing less stressful then writing a good cover letter. Does anyone have any tips on how to make it easier? I know what a good cover letter contains and I know I’ve written them before but it’s such a struggle. I can take forever trying to come up with something professional yet friendly, interested without being over the top, give extra information that’s not on my resume but still applicable to the position, etc.

    1. Anony

      Amen, amen, amen! I don’t have any tips but feel exactly the same way. And when a posting is super vague, what the heck do I say then and how do I personalize that?

      Let’s hope someone else enlightens us :)

    2. fposte

      Have you tried the “pretend you’re telling a friend why you’d be awesome” approach? And might it make sense to limit how long you allow yourself to spend on a letter and see if that helps the taking forever part?

    3. Relosa

      I tend to get writers block on these so I feel you!

      Something I’ve found that helps me is to literally write them on the spot. If I get that “omg yes THIS job!” feeling then I’m inspired to apply right away. I write down my strong points, make note of what adjustmens I made to my resume that I still want to include on the letter, and just let it fly out. Of course I double check that everything is still actually a good match and proofed before I submit, but that’s what helps me. I tend to get good response from those letters. Alison is right about them being less formal and more personable.

      I also have a rule that I cannot repeat anything from my resume onto my cover letter which is why I double check. That way I can expand a bit more on qualities I want to highlight.

      1. Sunflower

        Writing cover letters got easier once I made them less formal. I like to write letters pretending like I’m talking to the employer in person. Once I did that, I found it was much easier to fill the page and keep going.

    4. Elkay

      I found that once I’d written one it was easier to get in the groove to write other ones so I pull up the last one I wrote and go from there.

    5. Pineapple Incident

      I hate writing them too.. I have no idea how to do the tell-a-friend-why-I’m-awesome part :/ when I mention to friends that I’ve found a job that sounds awesome, I end up saying “I really think it sounds great, and I could totally do it, I just have no experience at anything because I’m 23 and have worked retail/7 months of healthcare admin.” I am not good at talking myself up, so I feel your pain.

      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        But you think you could do it well for a reason, right? That reason might not be experience — it might be character traits or your obsessive need to organize things or your side project of learning everything you can about X or whatever it is. Whatever the reason you think you’d be awesome at it, that’s what you explain in your cover letter. Otherwise the employer has no way of knowing why they should want to consider you (especially if you have no experience).

  60. Alternative

    So, my spouse and I find ourselves in the funny situation of both interviewing at the same company! We are both scheduled for phone interviews today. Our jobs are completely different, and there should be no overlap or interaction at all. It is a mid-size, and fast growing, company with about 400 employees. I was not planning on mentioning anything unless we both get to the in person interview stage – do you all think that is ok?

    1. Fante

      How funny! I don’t think there’s anything wrong with keeping that information to yourselves until/if you both receive offers.

    2. Judy

      I would only advise from a personal standpoint to consider household income diversification. My husband and I worked at the same companies several times, and it made it more stressful during layoffs, or when they were moving departments to other locations, etc.

      1. Not So NewReader

        Yeah, that is what struck me, also. All your eggs are in one basket. Please talk about this with each other. It might be okay if one of you is planning on moving on in a few years.

    3. Susan

      Yeah, I agree with Fante. I’m trying to think of how to phrase this because I don’t want to seem pessimistic. But realistically, I take AAM’s advice to heart these days to mentally move on from interviews as soon as I do them — because getting a job offer is hard! So I think getting two offers in one household would be even more rare (although please update us if that happens because that’s an interesting/happy dilemma)! But I think just until it’s an actual issue not a hypothetical one, don’t worry about it :)

      1. Alternative

        Oh no worries – you are absolutely right. Both of us getting offers would be quite a thing!

    4. HeyNonnyNonny

      I actually work with my husband (Same company, different departments)– he got his job first, then I got one later. We didn’t tell anyone that we were married since we don’t really overlap (and I have my maiden name). People eventually figured it out, but it’s never been a problem and no one cared that I didn’t mention it when interviewing.

      1. ThursdaysGeek

        I was in the same situation, but I mentioned I was related in the interview. I figured that was pertinent information that they would rather know than not know. I didn’t work with him. Most people did eventually know we were married, but one manager thought we were having an affair (come to work together, go home together, occasionally eat lunch together).

        But it was stressful when the company sold. Facing the prospect of us both being out of work at the same time made us decide we would not work for the same employer again.

        1. HeyNonnyNonny

          Ha, we had some people think we were having an affair, too!

          I will say that when they asked how I had heard about the job, I told them that I knew ‘someone’ who worked there, because I didn’t want to draw attention to my married-woman-of-childbearing-age status. I’m sure most managers don’t care, but I was feeling extra paranoid.

          1. ThursdaysGeek

            I didn’t tell my spouse I had applied until I had the interview scheduled, maybe even the morning of the interview. I wanted to get the job without his help (hey, I was young!), but I figured I probably shouldn’t surprise him and be in his building unexpectedly.

  61. Alliej0516

    With Alison’s book and sage advice, I landed a dream job, a very welcome escape from a job at which I was miserable.  They were a good group of people, but the job itself was just totally not my bag.  They had been using an HR mgmt company to manage payroll and benefits.  I knew that they were parting ways with that company and beginning in 2015, I’d have had to manage my own benefits through the ACA, and payroll would be handled by the new contractor.  My last day at the old job was 12/2/14.

    To date, I have not received any information about COBRA coverage.  I will not hit the benefits window here at the new job until 2/1, so I am currently not covered, which makes me very uncomfortable!  I called the previous management company (since they were in charge when I left my former employer), and was told that because the two companies were no longer engaged (as of 12/31/14), that I am basically out of luck!  What are the obligations of my previous employer, and what guidelines should be followed to provide a COBRA option in this case?

    Any help/advice is appreciated.

    1. cuppa

      Contact your former employer about COBRA coverage. Just ask where to go/how to get the forms. COBRA can be retroactive so, even though they need to legally provide it, it is not always the first priority and benefits companies/insurance companies can be notoriously behind. We switched carriers once and it took six weeks to get the coverage, and even though it was retroactive, it was a very stressful time. Good luck!!

      1. cuppa

        Sorry, I missed the ACA part. I have no idea how that works, and I used to advise people (although I am in no way, shape, or form qualified to do so) to get a temporary policy if they were worried about issues. I’m not sure how ACA affects that now, but the quickest and cheapest solution may be to look in to that.

    2. MaryMary

      You should receive a COBRA notice within 14 days of the qualifying event (for you, your termination date). If the HR management company was still contracted with your employer at that time (I’d argue even if they were working for your former employer on your date of term), they are responsible to send you the notice. Otherwise, the employer is. Your former employer subject to fines from the DOL if they do not correctly communicate COBRA eligibility, but it’s probably easiest for you to call them and ask. I used to work for an HR outsourcing company, and they sent my COBRA notice to my work email (i.e. the one for the job I had just left).

      You are also eligible for coverage through the ACA. We’re still within the general open enrollment period for anyone to purchase a policy, but even if we weren’t, losing employer coverage is a qualifying event to get ACA coverage at any time. Go to healthcare.gov. If your state runs its own website, the Federal site will link you to it. Otherwise, you can find policies for your state through healthcare.gov. You can almost definitely find a cheaper policy than what you’d pay for COBRA. Just make sure to review the details to make sure you doctor, the hospital you’d most likely visit, and any prescriptions you have are covered under the plan.

      1. Alliej0516

        I spoke with healthcare.gov yesterday; even if I signed up with them today, the coverage wouldn’t go into effect until 2/1, same as what I’m getting with my new job. I have an email in to previous employer, they’re checking. “Will get back to me”. We’ll see.

  62. Susan

    I’ve kind of wondered recently if as a freelancer/independent contractor if it looks better on your resume to just put your most important client/whatever takes up most of your time versus put several jobs concurrently.

    I just wonder if people see one job as a stable person, and multiple jobs as (“so what have you actually been doing?” or maybe they think you’re actually unemployed and these are all little projects). Some of us have ongoing contracts, so we’re far from unemployed, but to make it viable we take multiple projects at a time.

    I guess what spawned this is I’m noticing my resume that just has my main client does way better (when applying for regular jobs) than my resume that includes everything. It could just be that that client is more prestigious. Or it could be completely coincidental. But I’m wondering if people just don’t like freelancers/don’t know how to interpret a resume with concurrent jobs.

    1. HR Manager

      If you’re an independent contractor and wish to stay one, jumps and numerous jobs are to be expected. Even if you do want to move to FT employee, I would not penalize someone for moving if they are a contractor – I would just be curious why the shift all of a sudden.

      For contract/consulting – I would list chronological order but not add much details (especially if it’s all similar work). I would reserve space for details and expanding only on the larger, more complex assignments (which usually are the longer ones too).

      If you had a bunch of very short stints – you can consider summarizing like:
      Teapot design projects at companies such as XYZ Teapots, Best Teapots, and Teapots R Us. 2012 to present

      And then fill in details and dates for your beefier projects/assignments.

    2. AVP

      I hire a lot of freelancers and it might be the way you’re presenting the concurrent jobs – every freelancer seems to have a different way of organizing this and it can be tricky to read and understand. But if it’s a prestigious client and it’s getting a good response, the streamlined resume might be the solution that fixes the organization problem most effectively…

    3. Hypnotist Collector

      I found that LinkedIn can be useful in this situation, where you can now list “projects” underneath your freelance/self-employment umbrella, and call attention to prestigious or interesting clients and projects that use skills you may want to leverage. It’s tricky, but I assume everyone checks LinkedIn profiles nowadays. And be sure that you make that part of your profile public.

    4. just laura

      Are you clearly indicating that you’re freelance? Otherwise, the one-client resume may imply that you are working f/t for them.

    5. Susan

      I’m going to reply to all of you at once — both resumes (I hope) indicate the freelance nature. The one that is more fleshed out (includes more clients) has a whole section that says freelance/contract work. I added that some time last year because I think people were getting confused that they weren’t just short-term jobs. The one with just the principal client says “Contributing _____” which in my field is readily known as “not on staff/contract” etc.

      As to HR Manager’s poing and “why the shift,” I usually address that in the cover letter. But it’s mostly because I moved to an area that actually has a market now, so I’m not bound to being remote like I was before.

      The LinkedIn suggestion is good, thank you!

  63. Weasel007

    Ok, apologies first to Allison since I did submit part of this as a question to her this week but another question has come up about it that would really benefit from the whole group.

    In a nutshell: I was offered a reloc package from work in 4th quarter. I work at a big company. I was told by my boss that it was approved and to proceed with my move to get me here before a big event at work. He was working on the pay out date. I started moving. I got called in and was told “oops, budget was cut, we can’t pay you”. I was midmove and already incurred expenses. Due to the promise and direction from my manager, HR did get involved and the relocation was just sent to me, So all is right with the world right now. I do have to sign a repayment agreement before they issue it. I have called an attorney for a contract review. It doesn’t look or smell funny, but I just want to know what I’m signing. Basically it says I have to work there on the payout date to get it, and if I quit before and if I quit or am fired for cause (they spell it out what cause means) I have to pay it back. Anyone have any experience with this type of agreement? Also, anyone know of someone who did sign and then set up by the company so they could be fired for cause? Thanks.

      1. fposte

        My take was that that was standard for relocation repayment, not that it was specific to this particular screwed up situation.

      2. Weasel007

        I’m sorry, I wasn’t very clear. After all the drama listed above I did get the reloc as of this morning after contacting legal and HR. The manager that pulled the reloc after it was executed (payment was pending) is in a lot of hot water. I don’t know why he did it except that he’s a super jerk.

        My repayment agreement says that I have to pay my employer back if I quit or am fired with cause in 12 months (and they define with cause-pretty standard agreement. Fired for Performance is NOT a trigger on the agreement). Since RIF are very common (one is coming this quarter I am sure of), I’m protected in that situation from having to . However, since I got this manager in trouble, I’m a bit of a target now and am worried he will try to get rid of me. That is really the crux of my question: has anyone ever had something like this happen to them and then they bacame a target?

        Other things to note is that I do not have much contact eith this manager at all, except that he is my manager’s manager. My manager is wonderful and helped with HR and legal to get me my reloc today.

        1. BRR

          Sounds pretty standard to me. Also your manager sounds like they’ll go to bat for you and if their manager tries to get you fired they would help out however they could by finding someone higher up or HR. It would smell pretty fishy since you got that manager in trouble and then they tried to fire you so I would say you’re ok.

    1. HR Manager

      I’ve dealt with relo from the HR side of things. Pretty standard to have some payback/claw back clause in there, as relocation can run very high, depending on how rich a package they give you. Even the cheapest ones I’ve seen run into several thousands of dollars. Usually if you terminate voluntarily within a year or two, might be some payback. Never really seen the “fired for caus”e spelled out to be honest. I am glad to say I’ve never worked for any company where we’ve set up an employee to be fired (What is the benefit of setting someone up? If the person is a poor performer, you can fire them for performance. If they’re good, why would you want them gone?)

  64. JM

    How can you determine if your workload is too much for you to handle or if you’re just not good at your job?

    1. fposte

      What’s the outcome you’re seeking in either case? Are you trying to figure out whether you should let yourself off the hook vs. beat yourself up (don’t), trying to figure out if you should talk to your manager about priorities, or what? (And in general, if your manager’s sane, I think talking to her would be a good first step anyway.)

      1. JM

        I am the only one in my position. I work in the health care field. When I started a year and a half ago I was supporting 9 people (8 doctors plus my office manager). I do their credentialing. Within 7 months that jumped to 14 people I am “working for”. Currently it is up to supporting 19 people with it going to 23 in July. I have asked about the possibility of hiring another person to help. Essentially I was told there are no plans for that. I am feeling very overwhelmed and have noticed mistakes on my part. So, I’ve been wondering if maybe I’m not good enough to handle this position. The office manager seems to think 1 person can handle this work load

        1. A Non

          I was once in a role where my workload doubled. I don’t know if it was a reasonable expectation or not. I do know that I couldn’t do it. I worked with my manager to get my performance up, when it didn’t happen within a few months I resigned. My only regret is that I didn’t resign earlier, that job was a horrible fit for me.

          Talk to your office manager. If they’re good at what they do, they should be able to work with you to find ways to speed up your tasks or limit them. If they give you some version of “that’s your problem”, start job hunting ASAP.

          1. Not So NewReader

            Make sure when you ask again that you specifically say that the number of people has more than doubled. You were hired for x hours per week to work for less than half that many people.

            Watch for other signs that your boss may not be sane or minimally not in contact with how things actually work.

  65. Nervous accountant

    Any tips on navigating the first 90 days at a new job? What to do not to do, the most obvious to the most subtle?

      1. Nervous Accountant

        Oh. I’ll read that, I’m sure it’ll be helpful! but I wnated to get everyone else’s opinions/suggestions here too….I just like all the advice/tips that are given on this site….

    1. AnonAcademic

      Do a lot of listening/observing, moreso than talking. Unless you were hired specifically to be a trail blazer it helps to learn the office culture and politics *before* fully jumping into the fray.

  66. Work on Vacation - billable hours too

    If you take vacation days but still end up working on some things, so you bill some hours, do you deduct those hours from the vacation time too? For example, I’m an attorney. I get 4 weeks vacation/year. If I take a 1 week vacation I might work in the car or on a plane or respond to same emails here and there. I bill for the .2’s but I don’t take them off my vacation time. However, if I work 2 hours here and 2 hours there and it adds up to 8 hours, I turn in a vacation slip for 4 vacation days instead of 5 since I billed 8 hours while I was away. In the regular course of work, if I have a low billing day I don’t take vacation time and if I have a high billing day I don’t earn vacation time. So if I bill 6 hours on vacation should I still slash off one vacation day? Do you just take vacation days if you are “on vacation” (as in you have traveled somewhere and you can’t come into the office) even if you end up working remotely?

    1. Cat

      I deduct billable time from vacation time on a 1:1 ratio – so if I work .5 hours, I write down 7 instead of 7.5 hours of vacation for that day. If I worked 6 hours on one day, I would maybe round up to a full day (not sure and it hasn’t come up, thankfully), but if I worked 3 hours on two days, I’d take 4.5 hours vacation each of those days on the theory that I am getting the benefit of flexibility re location.

    2. AdAgencyChick

      Damn skippy I bill to the job. We have to take PTO in half-day increments, so if my coworkers truly cannot manage without bugging me on my vacation, I WILL mark it on my timesheet as half a day of work, even if I spent only an hour.

      I guard my vacation like a hawk, though!

    3. hermit crab

      That sounds complicated! All of our indirect/leave time gets entered into our normal timesheet system. So if I’m taking a vacation day, but I end up working two hours, I just bill six hours to vacation and two hours to the project.

  67. chump with a degree

    Please help me find a comment within the last couple of weeks-someone mentioned companies making professional personnel complete attendance, reimbursements, et cet on computer programs which are too complex and what a wate of time that is. A coworker spent half a day yesterday completing a carpool reimbursement request.

  68. DeAnna

    Anyone interested in critiquing a job description? We’ve had it posted for a few weeks, and have had surprisingly few nibbles, even given the holiday slowdown. I’m wondering what we need to do to make it more attractive. I’ll put the gist of it here, and a link to the whole thing in a reply, since the link will probably go to moderation.
    Technical Production Team Manager
    A successful Technical Production Team Manager:
    · Has a passion for leadership and is looking to develop his/her skills while supervising a team of electronic technicians and assemblers.
    · Is a problem solver that can confidently engage and interact with engineering to resolve technical/process issues.
    · Is technically savvy, has the desire and ability to learn and understand ETM’s products, and can effectively communicate/provide technical instruction to the production team.
    · Has a strong interest in management, and thrives on increasing the efficiency and work quality of the team through example, holding team members accountable, and coaching team members to advance their skills and techniques.
    · Creates goals and metrics to guide the team through continuous improvement of process and execution.
    Requirements:
    ¨ BSME or BSEE (Power electronics and RF engineering coursework is desirable)
    ¨ 2-5 years of engineering and/or manufacturing experience
    ¨ Demonstrated experience and interest in team management
    ¨ Excellent written and verbal communication skills

    1. DeAnna

      Email me if you would like a link to the whole thing — I didn’t want Alison to think I was using this comment thread as a job posting board!

    2. TotesMaGoats

      I’ve got two thoughts.
      1)Are you advertising in the right places? Or anywhere other than your own company website? That might be part of it. I’d engage with local university career centers/alumni offices to promote it.

      2)Freely admitting that this isn’t even remotely my field, that description is kind of vague as to what the role will be doing, at least from my perspective. Will they have to do technical stuff too? Is it all managerial stuff?

      1. Sadsack

        Your second point was my first though reading this, what exactly is the job? Maybe I don’t get it because I have no technical background, but what sort of projects is the manager’s team working on? Who are the clients, external or internal? What are the goals and metrics? Does this team work with other teams? I think you need to provide more of a description of the work, rather than just what you want in a manager.

        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          This was what I was going to say. It explains what you’re looking for but gives no description of what the person will be doing and why they might want the job.

          1. Not So NewReader

            I see so many ads like this. I read through and it is so vague to me, it almost feels like the company doesn’t know what they want and they are hoping the New Hire will figure it out.

            1. Windchime

              I’m glad it’s not just me. I thought I probably just didn’t understand it because I don’t know anything about engineering, but I didn’t really have a sense from reading the ad what the job actually is or does.

    3. acmx

      I agree with Totes MaGoats, this is a bit vague other than the repeated mentions of management/leadership.

    4. DeAnna

      Great, thank you, I will bring this info to the author of the job description. We are advertising on job boards, Linked In (got 25 looks and no applications), and some local university alumni job boards. The full description talks more about what the company does, which would reduce the vagueness somewhat, but I think you are correct that we need to do a better job with this.

      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        Nope, can’t just be what the company does. Needs to explain what this particular role will do, what outcomes they’re responsible for, etc.

        1. DeAnna

          Thanks, Alison — with a personal reply I now feel like I have achieved some of those 15 minutes of fame we are all supposed to get in our lifetimes!

  69. anon because of wtf

    Disclaimer: I am using a tablet (on top of everything, my computer died!) So please forgive typos and/or brevity.

    So I recently moved to another state, and was offered a job two weeks ago. It’s a step down….I needed a survival job because I was ripped off by a service provider on the way here. Still, it is in my field. The organization is a popup restaurant. Right now it is a 60 day event before the chef moves on to another site or his own brick and mortar store.

    When he (the chef, we shall call him Jack) hired me, I told him I was most comfortable hosting in terms of FOH because I’d never served before. He said that was fine and hired me. He also wanted me to work managerially for the company itself because of my background. This was a Friday. Told me we would have a meeting on Monday with rest of the team and setup things for the soft opening, go over payroll, etc. I know it was not the smartest move but I needed a job.

    TL;DR is that he is evading paying me, is trying to make me 1099 as a server (and claims minimum wage law prevents servers from being paid more…yes really) and seems to think that hosts and servers are the same and get paid the same. Legally they may be able to but he legitimately thinks they are interchangable.

    Last weekend during our soft open, I was the only FOH person period who showed up. There were two others who came to help serve on different shifts but otherwise it was just me and the bartender on the floor. (The bartender is employed by the building manager, not Jack. Jack and owners split revenue by liquor versus food….Jack takes all food sales and owners keep all drink sales). That means I served, hosted, bussed, and expo’d food, and also trained the newbies when they did join me for a shift. Sometimes we were slow and it was no issue but the rest of the time I was swamped. All this time, Jack never left the kitchen or asked how the floor was doing.

    Over the weekend, another employee of his was with us and I asked her about payroll. She told me to get in touch with Jacks wife. Surprise surprise she sent me back to the chef. I told him I needed to get payroll resolved and that for the multitude of services I rendered, what I expected for compensation (I requested $14 hourly, which is within the range of hosts in my area). He of course balked, I reminded him he would have paid twice as much as I asked if he had actually been staffed correctly and that nothing would have been done if I hadnt been there. He relented and said “everything would be worked out” this past Wednesday.

    He has avoided contact with me. I’m already filing a claim with my state labor board but that will take weeks and I doubt anything will come of it. Legally he doesn’t have to pay me until the 26th but as it is because of the work and pay scale he offered at the outset tat never came to fruition, my rent is over a week late and I can’t even get a seedy payday loan because I have no proof of income or employment.

    This is just the tip of it with this guy and my patience is already worn out. Of course I am still looking for real jobs but I feel like my hands are tied. I want to walk in today and tell him I won’t work without last weeks check but I don’t think I have any recourse.

    Advice??? (And cookies for reading all of this!)

    1. Elizabeth West

      Oh God, that sucks. Good for you for filing a complaint against this sleazy guy. I wish I had some advice, but I don’t. All I can think of is maybe legal aid. Anyone?

    2. Weasel007

      Uggghhhh, you’re totally right, this sucks. I hope the labor board is quicker than usual for you. Unfortunately, the thing that will probably fix this is an attorney and they cost money up front. Keep us posted!

      1. anon because of wtf

        He just emailed me to confirm my hours worked for last week, literally as I was dialing a lawyer. Its less than what I asked for but still a fair range, especially if he insists on contracting it so I’m liable for the tax.

    3. INTP

      I actually think refusing to work without last week’s check is a good idea. Not always, but here. The guy is clearly out to take advantage of people and isn’t going to be a good professional reference for you anyways. He also clearly either doesn’t have or is choosing not to spend the money to cover all of the business expenses. The ones that will get paid first are the ones that have the greatest impact on his own best interests. Usually that means vendors will be paid first but if you walk out then there is no FOH staff and he is screwed. Yelp reviews are posted saying the place is closed or has horrible service, the whole nine yards. So making a fuss about it just might get you paid and if it doesn’t he was likely never planning to pay you.

  70. Front Desk to HR?

    I am approaching my 1 year anniversary working the front desk at my company. My role has been expanded significantly ( from just taking calls to assisting in some events, and projects within other departments) . I am happy with the position right now as I am finally in a working environment I love surrounded by great people. My problem is that while I tell myself that I’m just building my network and gaining experience I feel that it is time to start looking for another job. I have a BA in communications and an MA in Int Relations (which was a mistake to obtain). I don’t really plan on doing much with the MA as I’m not even sure if it counts as it was done in another country. Originally, I wanted to work at a college as an Study abroad Advisor but after two years of trying to get into various universities, I realized that that dream is very unlikely to come across. I am thinking of starting to apply for HR assistant positions (given that part of my role includes working closely with the HR dept in providing information to new hires and handling their new hire materials). Does anyone have any advice on how to make the transition..and also at what point should I start applying? I’m hopeful that my organization will eventually need more HR specialists and that I can get a job there as an assistant, but I can’t quite put all my eggs in one basket. If it helps, my previous job titles include Call center (Sales and CS) as well as various administrative roles including one in a law office. I’m also in a dilemma where my network right now includes my parents and one friend from childhood as I’ve been out of the country for a few years. And any tips on what keywords to include in my resume would be appreciated!!

  71. IrishGirl

    Is anyone here working in academia?

    I’m in my penultimate year of a double-major Economics and Maths degree, and am considering further studies in Economics and academia as a career. I really like Economics, but not to the point where I’d be willing to commit to a career with low salaries or very few open positions. The information I’ve found on the net so far regarding vacancies and compensation are fairly negative, so I’d really appreciate if anyone had first hand experience.

    1. Ineloquent

      Not working in acadamia, but I do have to say as someone who graduated in Economics that if you don’t like it enough to do it professionally, you probably don’t like it enough to study it professionally either. You can apply your studies in econ and maths to a huge variety of other careers – I’m in international trade, for example – so don’t just limit yourself to things that are purely economics based.

    2. Dr. Doll

      Academia in the USA here, but many academics look worldwide, so this should be relevant. If you are interested in academia for the lifestyle, go into business rather than pure economics or math. You’ll get paid a ton more than anyone else on campus, although not as much as if you went into industry.

      Academia is indeed very dicey to find jobs in. Many faculty positions will have 150-300 applications for a single position. If you’re okay with administration or staff, it may be slightly easier, but you will still get paid less than industry; the upside is that many academic positions are more stable than industry and frankly it’s usually pretty cushy.

      For faculty, you have to do a PhD first. Do NOT attempt a PhD in a field you don’t love.

  72. Lemon Lyman

    Happy Friday!

    I’m curious if people have recommendations for reading materials on nonprofit development. I’m taking on more if this at work but don’t have a lot of background and would like to focus my thinking of how I can be effective in this area. Thanks in advance!

  73. ScottySmalls

    I’m still in the probationary period of my first job out of college and I feel like I need some advice on how to be more confident. I love the job and I work well with my clients, but I also need to convince the parents that I know what I’m doing. An important part of the job is rapport with parents, as I am coming into their house to do my job. I honestly don’t have much experience, so if the parents ask something about it, I answer honestly and feel my confidence undermined when I do. Also, I am way more comfortable with the moms than dads, whicheck I can’t help feeling that I have to get over. Any tips on how to fake it til I make it? Or even any suggestions on how to behave when coming to someone’s house?

    1. AnotherAlison

      I would not worry about your lack of experience. I’m a parent, and I’ve hired baby-sitters, tutors, music teachers, sports private instructors, etc. I don’t expect someone who is in their early 20s and right out of college to have a lot of experience. How you get along with my kid is most important. Sure, if you’re a math tutor, it would be awesome if you were a math PhD AND great with kids, but I anyone tutoring math can do high school Algebra, and that’s all we need, so I rather have someone who is good with kids than a math genius. Answer the parents questions and steer the conversation toward your strengths and experience that translates to what you’re doing now. You must have something to offer – you got the job. : )

      (As for dads, I am much tougher than my husband, so I don’t know what to say about that.)

    2. Not So NewReader

      One thing I have found helpful in answering questions is to ignore the tone of voice of the speaker. Sometimes I read too much into the tone of voice or some inflections. This does NOT serve me well, at all. So I opt to pay close attention to what the question is and forming my best answer.

      You are probably finding that they ask similar questions. Type out a list of FAQs and practice your answers in front of the mirror at home. Don’t make this big. Pick a couple of questions, practice for maybe 15 minutes a day. Keep it simple, keep it doable. It’s an investment in you.

  74. Tiffany Youngblood

    Does a year of interning count as a year of work experience?

    I’m graduating from college in a few months. I’ve started browsing job opportunities to get an idea of what’s out there and a lot of positions that I might be interested in and that I feel like I would be good for require at least a year of experience. I’m studying nonprofit management and by the time I graduate I will have been interning for over a year at the local United Way office, and would love to work for UW or another organization like them in Chicago (where I plan to move to after graduation).

    From talking to friends and other people who have interned, my internship isn’t like most where you spent a lot of time doing basic administrative stuff and grunt work. I’m getting real experience – running programs, writing grants, doing important research projects, and I attend every meeting I can (board meetings, staff meetings, committee meetings, etc.) to gain more experience and knowledge.

    Does an internship generally count the same as work experience? Or is this something I’m going to need to be able to justify?

    1. AnonieGirlie

      Until I got my first professional job, I listed internships as work experience. I think it absolutely counts and most likely you’ll be asked what you did at the internship and connect those skills and experiences to the job you’re interview for.

    2. Susan

      I think it definitely counts, especially if you had a long internship like that. Your cover letter can go into how they started trusting you with more and more big projects. Even if jobs require 2-3 years experience, that probably isn’t out of your league with the experience it sounds like you got. I wouldn’t justify it insomuch as you sound like you’re apologizing for applying. I would put a positive spin and focus on all the experience you *did* get in the cover letter versus point out that it was an internship or just for one year. They can get that from your resume.

    3. Sunflower

      It certainly sounds like you’re getting good experience but I think the timing is important here. In some places, these tasks would take more than a couple full-time employees. If you’re only working a couple hours a week for x years, you can’t say you have x years experience just because you are doing more in-depth work.

      I think you would be more than okay applying for a job that requires a year of experience. You cover letter is going to be super helpful to you since you have so much experience to talk about.

      PS- there is a post on this somewhere in AAM land. Search ‘internship work experience’ and the post should pop up.

      1. Tiffany Youngblood

        Thanks everyone! I’m still a few months away from applying for anything (I think anyways. I really have no idea when I should start that process. I’m trying to figure that one out).

        I do put in a lot of hours at my internship (20-30 a week on average, don’t take weeks off just because the semester is over, etc.). Prior to my internship I did service learning with the same organization for a semester, and prior to that I got to serve on a committee that they have. I feel pretty comfortable equating all of that to a year of experience, but I can see the point you make and that’s made in the post.

      1. Treena Kravm

        I interviewed with HR at one non-profit that wanted to know specifically which was paid and unpaid. At the time, it sounded like this was to evaluate whether or not I was experienced enough to be moved further along in the hiring process. I’ve since learned that it’s strictly to calculate your wages. (1 yr paid experience = tier x, 2 years= tier y, etc.) So it could be something like that if it’s a really bureaucratic place.

        1. Anx

          Oh, no.

          In this particular case I had about 3 years of indirect inexperience in the job and 1+ year volunteering for a very similar position in that company. The job required 6 months experience. I had some interviews and heard some very good feedback about it, but when HR was reviewing my file they said they couldn’t move forward and didn’t realize my experience was volunteer (I was forthright, it was an oversight).

          It was pretty frustrating because how do you get 6 months experience, then?

  75. Sabrina

    If you got contacted by a recruiter, would you mention it to your boss? Even if you (obviously) didn’t get the job? It’s sort of like saying “Hey, other people might be interested in me that pay a boatload more than this place does!!” but there may not be jack that the company will do about that, and in the end, it would be a bluff anyway, since I can’t leave. But still, would be nice to put some fear in him.

    1. eemmzz

      Personally I wouldn’t. It may come across as trying to stir up drama and reflect badly on you.

      If you feel you deserve more compensation for what you do then you need to put a case together and explain why you deserve more to your manager. Don’t stoop down to guessing game tactics by mentioning recruiters.

    2. fposte

      Agreeing. Even with an actual offer, getting a counteroffer is a tricky plan. Right now you don’t have any leverage, so all you’d be do is making yourself vulnerable.

    3. Adonday Veeah

      Use it as fantasy material. You’ll shoot yourself in the foot if you mention this to your boss. But don’t stop looking!

    4. Case of the Mondays

      I have mentioned it but not in a “pay me more way.” I said something like “I don’t know which case got my name on a database but I’m suddenly getting all sorts of recruiters calling. Weird.” He knows I have opportunities but knows I didn’t go looking.

    5. Sabrina

      Thanks all. I’m not looking. The recruiter contacted me out of the clear blue sky. I didn’t know how that normally worked, it’s never happened to me.

  76. Newish Professional

    Happy Friday!

    Question about legality. Is it legal for any employer to do this to a non exempt employee – if we clock in even 1 minute late, the company docks 6 minutes from pay. Same if we clock in more than 4 minutes early – we are docked 8 minutes of pay. Is this legal not to pay for all minutes/hours worked?

    1. Kelly L.

      I believe you can round by a certain amount, but you have to round in both parties’ favor. So if you round 15 minutes of lateness up to 20, then you have to also round 15 minutes of earliness up to 20. IANAL.

      1. Sunflower

        yes there is more specific information and numbers on this but you can round up and down but they need to go both ways

    2. fposte

      From what I can see, it may fall under the category of “disciplinary docking,” which is federally legal as long as it doesn’t take employees below minimum wage. State may have stricter rules, so check.

        1. fposte

          I’m looking at an SHRM page that talks about the possibility for non-exempt. Posting link separately. (Between this and the half-pay for travel, this is my day to learn about new non-exempt possibilities!)

            1. Natalie

              I saw that one, too. :)

              They mention reducing pay rather than removing time worked and I wonder if they meant future pay rather then retroactive but weren’t clear enough. The idea that you can dock non exempt employees seem contradictory to everything else I’ve seen, generally.

              1. fposte

                The more I look, the more I see support for it, though. And who else are you going to dock–exempt employees? That’ll get you into a world of hurt.

                Now it may require crossing some t’s to make sure that it’s set up as disciplinary rather than just cheapskating, and I bet there are states where it’s absolutely forbidden. But I wouldn’t assume it’s illegal unless we can find some support for that or if it would bring the employee below the minimum wage.

                1. fposte

                  Okay, DOL says rounding is a convention but not federally required (I think some states do, though).

                  However, there’s this: “Your employer must count as hours worked any part, however small, of your fixed or regular working time or identifiable periods of time you are regularly required to spend on duties assigned to you.” I don’t know how to square that with the disciplinary privilege, but I sure as heck wouldn’t try it as an employer unless I was ironclad sure, and it wouldn’t hurt Newish Professional to give a quick call to her state DOL.

    3. Not So NewReader

      As far as punching in late, in NY they round to the nearest 15 minute mark. Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. They think it averages out.

      So if you punch in 5 minutes early, they dock you 8 minutes?
      Your company though, sounds like they are really something…. I bet you have other stories, too, right?

  77. AnonAnalyst

    Hopefully I’m not too late for someone to see this!

    I really like my company and the people I work with. My job, on the other hand, is another story. I was hired to do one type of work, and over time, my job duties have moved away from it to other things I don’t really want to do long-term and what feels like lower-level work. On a somewhat related note, I am also ready to take on more challenging work from what I was originally hired to do, and my manager recognizes this. However, there seems to be no way for me to do that or to advance in my role here. I’ve had conversations with my manager over the last 6-8 months and she’s floated several different ideas, but none of those have materialized, nor does there seem to be any plan in place to make anything change.

    I’m becoming increasingly frustrated with the situation and I’ve reached the point where I’m about to start a serious job search. I’m struggling with whether it’s worth speaking with my manager again and kind of laying the cards on the table that I really need something more challenging and don’t see myself still doing the same exact job I’m doing now long-term, or if it’s better to just find something else and leave.

    I don’t think that my manager thinks I’m frustrated enough to actually leave the company at this point, so maybe it would be helpful to more clearly articulate that. However, I really hate ultimatum-type conversations as they’re rarely productive, so I almost feel like it’s better to just keep my mouth shut and leave for something else. I do really like the company, though, and could see myself here long term provided I had some room to grow, which is why I’m wavering. I’m also a high performer and valued at my company, so I believe that they want to retain me and would potentially like to have the opportunity to revisit this.

    Is there a productive way to address this at work, or should I just move on?

    1. AnotherAlison

      I was in a similar situation last year. My manager knew I needed a challenge, but he didn’t have one to give me. I had already stuck around for the last ~2 yrs because of promises that also never materialized.

      I *was* to the point where I was ready to have an ultimatum conversation and/or leave the company. Instead positions in another department were being restructured and one ended up being a great fit, so I was able to transfer.

      To me, it sounds like working for your manager isn’t going to work out a whole lot longer. Sometimes, they just need you to do what you’re doing and there isn’t an opportunity for higher level work. They would like you to have that opportunity, but it isn’t a top priority for them, or they just don’t know (like if you’re an analyst working for a sales manager, they don’t know what analyst opportunities look like). I’d look for internal opportunities, but I wouldn’t give it much more than a year. If you’re a valued, high performer, other companies will see the same qualities in you.

      1. AnonAnalyst

        Thanks for the perspective. This is very helpful!

        Unfortunately, I work for a small(ish) company so there’s not really any other area within the company that’s doing the type of work I do, so making a change would mean I’d have to leave. I think part of my frustration is that we all wear a lot of hats, so it seems like there *should* be some other stretch assignments they could give me in lieu of an actual promotion/change in job title, but neither possibility has materialized although both have been discussed.

        I think you’re right in that I may just have to move on. I do know that one way or another, I will not be doing the exact same job I am now by the end of this year unless something goes terribly, terribly wrong, so I guess I just need to figure out how much more time I should wait here before looking elsewhere.

    2. periwinkle

      You can propose projects that use higher-level skills and fill some need for your department/company. However, that doesn’t mean that you’ll be allowed to do those projects or that you won’t just slump back down to the unchallenging stuff when the projects are done. Been there, done that, left the company. I needed to do X type of work to advance in my career goals, they needed the person in my role to do mostly Y type of work and the role would never grow into X (even though they needed someone to do X, Y was a very high priority). It wasn’t that my manager was completely unsupportive or didn’t value my contributions – she just needed Y stuff done.

      Nothing to do in that situation but move on so that I could advance and they could bring in a Y expert. I’m better off elsewhere and they’re better off without me! (and I’m happily doing X elsewhere)

      1. AnonAnalyst

        You can propose projects that use higher-level skills and fill some need for your department/company. However, that doesn’t mean that you’ll be allowed to do those projects or that you won’t just slump back down to the unchallenging stuff when the projects are done.

        I think this is my fear, and based on where the company’s needs are, this is what I think might happen. There will be a need for someone doing the higher level stuff that I’d like to work on at some point in the near-ish future so I expect they will create a position for that and if I were still working there, it would go to me. However, that could be sometime this year, sometime next year, or maybe even sometime the year after that. While it seems like it will need to be sooner than later, the bottom line is that I don’t really want to wait around and end up doing the same work I’m doing now for another year or two.

        Thanks for responding! It’s really helpful to hear how other people have handled this.

  78. Brian_A

    Any thoughts on how to address my desire to move when applying for a job, without making it all about me? After 10 years in my current city, I am ready to re-locate to the west coast (I’m currently in Ontario, Canada). I want to include this information in my cover letter, but am having trouble figuring out wording that still emphasises what I would bring to the position, rather than “this is such a great opportunity to make the move that I want to make”. I’m not sure if it makes a difference, but I don’t have a timeline for making this move, and at this point, would not consider moving unless I had an offer. I am very happy in my job (and my life) in current city, I just think it’s time for a change, and want to explore the opportunity to be closer to my family. Thanks!

    1. fposte

      In general, it’s good to mention a standardly recognizable reason for wanting to move when you’re doing a long-distance application; you’re not randomly making it all about you, you’re answering a likely question. You’re excited about the posted position, you’re fabulous for it and you’re intending to move to Vancouver to be closer to family anyway. Blahblahblah more fabulousness of you for the position.

    2. LAI

      I went through this last year. On my cover letter, I included one line that said “I am seeking to relocate to City, CA in the near future”. The rest of my letter focused on my qualifications and all of the other reasons I wanted the job besides geography. I didn’t even offer a reason for the move up front; in the interview, I think I just mentioned that I was relocating to be closer to family. To be honest, I didn’t get a lot of questions about it – the region I’m in now is a desirable area and lots of people want to live here. I think the important thing is just to treat it as a decision that’s already been made; as in, I am definitely moving here, I’m just working out the details.

    3. Calgary Recruiter

      As a recruiter in Calgary we get LOTS of applications from the eastern side of the country. I would highly recommend addressing the move in your cover letter. We get lots of apps where the applicant doesn’t acknowledge a move would be involved, and when contacted we find out that they a) didn’t realize the job wasn’t in their local area or b) had a theory that we would just think they were so awesome we would allow them to work remotely.

      Also, be prepared to answer questions about the timeline you would require to move. How long would it take you to sell/sublet where you currently live? How many belongings do you need to move? Do you have somewhere to stay in the new city short term, or would you need time to house hunt?

      At least at my company, we’re much more likely to consider a long-distance applicant if it’s obvious they’ve put serious thought into what relocating would require.

  79. YWD

    I’m in the process of updating my resume in preparation for looking for a new job in the coming months. The college I attended has changed it’s name. It used to be Teapot State College and is now Teapot State University. Which should I use?

    1. Brian_A

      I think I would list it as one, with the other in brackets. For instance: “Teapot State College (now Teapot State University)”. I can’t decide if it makes sense to lead with the old or new name, but it may not matter!

      1. TotesMaGoats

        This. I worked through a name change and it was also my alma mater. You only need to do this for a couple years though.

  80. Elkay

    Completed my first week in my new job. I think I’ll be happy here, the department is less than a year old and is continuing to expand so hopefully I won’t be the newest for very long.

    Got some nice emails off old colleagues checking how I was getting on and a flattering one from my ex-boss. If I’d had that much support when I was there I might not have left!

    Now I just need to buy some new work clothes and shoes.

  81. Brett

    Good news of the week:
    I am attending a statewide conference next month, and the headline plenary speaker just asked me to assist with his speech. He is a program manager in an interesting area at the big huge California company in our field, and apparently noticed my work and wants to share it in the plenary!

    Bad news of the week:
    Our employee association informed us that the small budgeted across the board pay raise we were supposed to get last week is being worked on, and is now being called a “proposed” increase. In other words, it looks like another year without a pay increase. And that administration is “working on a plan to address” the salary study from last year that was supposed to lead to pay re-centering. Something tells me “plan to address” does not mean “plan to implement”.

  82. Anxious Worrier

    I got my master’s degree about a year ago. I’d been job hunting for several months by the time I graduated, so a few months later, when I was offered a temp job with no definite end date in a field unrelated to my degree, I just took it.

    I’ve been job hunting periodically since I started the temp job, and still no luck in even getting an interview for a job in my field. I’ve seen plenty of *part time* jobs I could apply to (and those were the only kind that I was scoring interviews for before accepting the temp job), but I haven’t applied to any because it seems like a bad idea to leave a full time job for a part time job (especially since I don’t know how long it would be before I got a second part time job to supplement the first, or if I would even be able to get a second one) . I’m starting to get worried that the longer I don’t have a job in my field, the less likely I’ll be able to get a job in my field by the time the temp job ends. Is this a valid worry? I’d rather have a full time job for as long as possible, but I don’t know if my degree and internships are becoming more and more irrelevant the longer I wait, and I don’t want all that time and money to go to waste.

    1. Anie

      I’ve struggled with this same issue. I went three years full time in an unrelated field. The entire time my friends sent me temp job postings and internships within my field. Honestly, I thought it was the dumbest idea to quit my full time job for something that would maybe last two months or, you know, not pay at all like every internship in my field.

      Try freelancing. Stay connected with industry events in your area. It took awhile, but I got a job that’s relevant to me and I’m sure you will too.

    2. Ruth (UK)

      I think sometimes you need to go backwards to go forwards – so if you could get one of these part time jobs and that job would gain you experience in the field you want to work it, it may well be worth it for you. Even though it means going from full time to part time work, which is negative in the short term, might be more likely to have a longer-term positive outcome.

      Obviously you need to decide if it’ll be financially feasible to take such a part time job instead of your full time one, plus any other considerations you might need to make. And remember your current one is temp anyway. It’s not quite the same as leaving a full time permanent job.

      I’d be tempted to say risk leaving your temp full time thing for something that’ll gain you more experience in the field you want to work in, but I don’t know the details of your situation (incl living, finance or other).

      PS. This reply is all based on the assumption that the part time jobs you mentioned are relevant to what type of work you ultimately want to do (I read it that way anyway).

  83. College Bound

    A position I applied for at a college last summer has come open again. I am very tempted to attempt to bypass the robo-HR and send a resume directly to the department (or to do both). Good idea or bad idea?

    1. TotesMaGoats

      Is this a student position? If so, I’d do both.

      If this is just a regular job and you have a close relationship with the hiring manager, do both.

      If you don’t really know the hiring manager, then apply through normal channels.

    2. fposte

      At our university, we won’t even consider it if it doesn’t come through the robo-HR. If I knew you I might appreciate a heads-up with resume, but since you say “the department,” it doesn’t sound like you know any individual there particularly well, so I don’t see any advantage to sending it directly.

    3. twig

      I work at a university and am frequently on hiring committees for Administrative Faculty (IT dept) when we receive direct resumes, we send people to the HR system to apply — we couldn’t proceed with a candidate who hasn’t applied through the HR system if we wanted to. Also, sending your resume directly to a person rather than following the procedure that is outlined in the job listing can make you come across as someone who can’t follow directions. If there is a large pool of qualified candidates for the position, that may be reason enough to throw out your resume.

      So, unless you know the hiring manager or someone in the department, don’t send them your resume. If you do know someone in the department, let them know that you’ve applied through the HR system and maybe send them your resume — and possibly use them as a reference.

      I love working at a university; I feel like I’ve found my work “home” here. Good luck on your application!

  84. JR

    Did I do the wrong thing?

    I had a phone interview that went really well. It turned out that the person interviewing me works in the same high rise that I’m currently in! He asked if I would mind coming upstairs for a more formal interview. I told him that I was OK with it except that it was Friday and I was dressed for casual Friday (jeans, button down shirt, comfy shoes but not sneakers), not a job interview.

    He said that was fine so I went up and he was there, along with two other people, and both were wearing suits. They didn’t seem particularly upset by my casual dress and the interview went pretty well IMO but I still have this nagging feeling that maybe I should have said “Monday would be better” and then shown up in a suit and tie.

    Thoughts? Thanks

    1. Rex

      I wouldn’t worry about it too much, but if you have another interview, make sure you’re impeccable. You’ve learned something about the dress culture there.

    2. MaryMary

      I think it’s fine. Everyone involved must have known it was a spur of the moment thing.

      Related, I changed jobs within the same high rise. If you get the job, be prepared for the occasional awkward elevator ride. Most of my former coworkers are very friendly, but there are a couple who’ve had odd reactions. One started complaining to me about a project we used to work on together, and one completely ignored me when I said hello.

    3. AvonLady Barksdale

      I get the discomfort, but you asked about the casual dress and he said it was fine. Take him at his word. He knows it was spur of the moment. Besides, your casual Friday outfit sounds nicer than some of the Monday-Thursday outfits I’ve seen in my time.

  85. Inky

    I may be too late to the party here, but has anyone taken a long time getting into the field they studied? I graduated 5 years ago in a creative field and got stuck on the retail track. If I apply anywhere, my portfolio looks outdated, but how can I bring it up to date if I can’t get relevant work…feels like I’m going in circles.

    1. Rex

      Can you do some volunteer work, maybe for a worthy cause? That might give you some new pieces to add to your portfolio.

    2. Chris

      Agree with volunteering. I graduated several years back and just recently started getting back into creative work- right now I’m working with two local non-profits on small projects to refresh my portfolio.

  86. Prolific Scribbler

    I started a new position in Spring 2014 (after being with my previous employer for 6 years in 4 progressively more senior roles) due to promises I was made with regard to my salary/title not being fulfilled. I accepted my new position last year based on not only the job (which I am excited about and which has provided me with many opportunities that are great for my resume/portfolio) but also the immediate rapport I had with my direct manager. Unfortunately certain things have transpired that make me uncomfortable…

    First and foremost, they have not fulfilled the compensation agreement outlined in my offer letter. 2014 has ended and I did not receive any of the bonus I was told I would receive before the close of the year – this is spelled out in my offer letter. I was also told I would be receiving a large salary increase for 2015. Suddenly that increase was cut (and I had to ask to find this out) to a much smaller amount. To counter, I prepared a report with research on the market rate for my position and presented it to my boss along with my accomplishments since coming onboard. He agreed and acknowledged I should be making significantly more, but said his hands were tied. He updated me two weeks later to say it was looking like a 20% increase, which I was thrilled about. Fast forward to this week when we received our first paycheck for days worked in 2015, and the raise appears to be 5%.

    He has not followed up with me about my raise, nor has anyone followed up about the ETA of our bonus checks. What’s even more demoralizing is that people are walking around talking about their substantial raises, which have clearly already taken effect. Select people (highest earners) have also already received their bonuses. Due to the nature of my work, I know they have a very substantial amount of unpaid bills. They keep saying it’s not a big deal because we have large grants coming in soon. I am now doing work for several other positions which they’ve decided not to fill. While I don’t mind the work (I love to be busy), I feel like these people are taking advantage of me. I also feel like they are in denial about their financial situation.

    Nothing about this job is what was presented to me nor have they complied with anything in my offer letter. Normally I would be VERY happy with a 5% raise, but the scope of the position I have now is not at all what I applied for and accepted. I wasted a lot of time with my last organization. I believed them every time they told me a raise/promotion was coming, and after being there so long, I was nervous to leave. My instinct now is to bolt before this becomes a recurrence of my last job, but I’ve been here less than a year and worry about how this looks to prospective employers.

    Should I give this another shot or keep sending out my resume?

    1. Rex

      These are not good signs. Is your boss a bad communicator in general, or just on this? If it were me, I would have one more, “I took the job on these terms, are you going to meet them or not?” conversation, then work on getting out of there if nothing changes.

    2. Not So NewReader

      Unpaid bills, grants in the future?
      UH. Is this cool or no? They are using grant moneys to pay off unpaid bills. And you know about this.

      Are you okay here, or is there a chance that someone could throw you under the bus for something, like what is going on with the money? Annnnd, certain people are making large amounts of money….

      Keep sending out your resume. I am getting a strong bad vibe here.

    3. Graciosa

      I’m having a hard time getting past the employer not adhering to the terms of the offer letter. This is a very good reason for changing jobs in less than a year – no one even marginally sane would have a problem with your leaving a job because the company did not live up to the compensation commitments included in the offer letter.

      That said, do make sure you are on very solid ground by reading the offer letter very, very carefully. There is an enormous difference between “Your salary will be $X initially, increasing to $Y on January 1, 2015, and you will receive a bonus of $Z in December, 2014,” and “Your salary will be $X, and you will be eligible for a bonus payable in December, 2014 based on your and the company’s performance. You will be considered for a raise, which may range up to $Y, at the start of the new year.” The second one does not contain any actual commitments beyond the initial salary.

      If the letter was in the second category, you still have serious issues with your boss if this was not clearly communicated – it’s just a slightly different issue. Either way, this doesn’t sound like it’s going well, and it sounds like your instinct to get out is a good one. Good luck.

  87. Elizabeth West

    I am about to get very, very busy. This is tangentially work-related, though it doesn’t have anything to do with my actual job.

    I’ve had a manuscript in critique with a professional writer I know who has been very very very busy for a long long long time. I finally bit the bullet and contacted him, saying,”Hey, I’m working on a schedule for 2015 and I need an update. Email me?” He responded asking me to email him my phone number. He called last night. Here is the verdict:

    –He really really liked it. (He had said publicly that he liked it.)
    –It needs some work still but not THAT much.
    –He has four people I can send it to, and with my permission, he will alert them to watch for it from me (um, YEAH!).
    –He will write me a cover blurb.
    –He thinks it’s publishable and also thinks my last one (I told him about it) is a great idea.
    –He’ll be mailing the manuscript and notes back to me by Monday. Upon which time I will need to get busy.

    This is a person whose opinion means a great deal to me–he’s a terrific genre writer. I barely knew him when we met, but have since devoured his work, and I’ve become a huge fan.

    I’m querying the last book, writing this new book, and will now be editing this book (again). GAH I WILL HAVE NO LIFE. Well, I don’t have one now, actually. :P

    1. DeAnna

      CONGRATULATIONS!!! That sounds like really exciting news! I guess you would have shared the author’s name already if you felt like you could, but I’m dying of curiosity!

      1. Elizabeth West

        When I get the manuscript back, I want to write a blog post about editing from a critique (which should be fun–urp!). Since I’ve mentioned on there who had it, I suppose I can say–it’s Brian Keene. He writes horror, crime, comics, etc. He has a character I adore–an ex-Amish shaman named Levi Stoltzfus–in fact I’m super jealous I didn’t think of him first! I’m sitting on the latest installment of a Levi story; I need to re-read something before I dive into it.

        It’s the bank robber book he had, not Secret Book. And not the ghost book in between that I’m querying now.

    2. fposte

      Oh, that’s wonderful news, Elizabeth, and well earned! You’ve been an absolute model of how to work at writing.

      1. Elizabeth West

        It’s a police / crime novel about a bank robber who takes a hostage and decides to keep her and is being chased by the police, the FBI, and a serial killer who’s jealous because he’s not getting all the attention. :)

    3. Carrie in Scotland

      So happy to hear this, Elizabeth! :)

      Even though the universe is giving you crap, at least you have this to savour and take out at rubbish times

  88. Kflemin3

    Can any communications managers recommend tools that can be used to send newsletters where you are also able to include attachments? I’d like to use it for internal updates (I work for an umbrella group with a lot of members), but we often need to send internal memos/letters/schedules as attachments. The mailing list would be less than 500 contacts. We’re a nonprofit, so ideally it wouldn’t be too costly.

    Thanks in advance!

    1. Jillociraptor

      Is there a reason you can’t link to the document saved on Box/Dropbox/Google Drive? We use MailChimp for internal communications and link everything to Box. Bonus is that we can track who actually clicks through to the document (as a proxy for who’s likely read it).

  89. NormalReader

    Here’s something odd that happened to me today. A trusted coworker wanted to let me know that some people in our dept. do not see me as “one of the guys.” (I am not, in fact, a guy). People seem to think I’m a little more uptight/delicate/whatever than I really am and feel that I would not be comfortable with a lot of their male bonding activities. (They regularly eat lunch at a certain “mountainous” restaurant and do not invite me).

    The coworker thought I should know because he said he used to think I was that way and now does not. I worked with him in ’04 at a different company, which had a more professional culture. I have worked in my current dept. 6 months (10 yrs at the company, though). I am the only F/T female in the group of ~45, excluding the admin assistant.

    What’s strange to me is why I have this reputation. My coworker said I’m very professional. I am. I’m also not very social anyway, but I’m definitely not a girly-girl and am not the type of girl who has many girlfriends. I am in an all-male household, and my husband is a very “one of the boys” kind of guy and I have a 17 y o son, so I’m exposed to that every day. I mean, I’ve never even seen Downton Abbey, but I’m well versed in Street Outlaws, Gold Rush, Deadliest Catch, etc. I’m not easily offended by off-color humor, and I have been in “bars” far more offensive than Twin Peaks. Not that it’s a point of bragging, but just pointing out that I’m not really prudish. I’m much more comfortable around male coworkers and males in general, so it’s a bummer that they don’t see me as someone they are comfortable around.

    I think it is probably my general personality. On the Myers Briggs, I’ve been typed as INTJ, and I just tend to be more work-focused than the average person, and apparently the average engineer. My coworker said don’t change, I’m well respected in the department, particularly by the dept manager, who does not really get into the male bonding activities, btw. But, I would like people to not censor themselves around me and feel like I’m approachable and fun to be around. Any suggestions?

    1. NormalReader

      (Also, should have added, that coworker changed his mind about me after going to a trade show after hours event with me, and it was a very low-key deal, so wow, I must normally come off like I have a stick shoved you-know where.)

    2. Celeste

      So he’s trying to pay you a compliment while letting you know there’s some gossip about you. I guess what I wonder most is, do you want to be more involved with your coworkers socially for mountainous lunches? If not, no problem. If so, maybe you can enlist your ally in getting you an invite to test the waters.

      The thing is, you might enjoy being more social. But if it’s going to be all about male-bonding, and you can never be male, that leaves you in an uncomfortable position. I wonder if it’s as simple as suggesting a different venue for lunch and not going out with the whole crowd. Mix it up.

      1. AnotherAlison

        I don’t mind socializing, and usually go to the after-work happy hour or whatever, but that’s a rare thing. I have gone to lunches with them before at other places. I don’t care if they go to TP or if I go with them, but I know that they have gone to TP and felt like they had to go behind my back. A couple weeks ago, another coworker (CW2) actually said, “Hey sorry we didn’t invite you to lunch. We went to TP.” I think I just nodded and said, “Oh, okay,” or something like that. CW2 told me his wife doesn’t know he’s ever been there, but she’s kind of religious and wouldn’t be okay with it, where I don’t care. Soooo, in some ways, I think it’s possibly their preconceptions about women more than anything that actually has to do with me.

    3. MaryMary

      In my experience, men working in male dominant fields or offices assume that all women are uptight/delicate/easily offended until it’s proven otherwise. I can’t tell you how often I’ve told the guys I work with that I’m difficult to offend and that they don’t need to treat with me kid gloves, and yet they still apologize to me when they drop an F bomb or raise their voice in a meeting, even when it’s not directed at me (sadly, no one apologizes for the racist comments, which I find much more offenseive). My only advice is to give it time and slowly show that they can consider you “one of the guys.” Eventually, more of them will get to know you and figure out that you’re not uptight. Start a conversation about Shark Week or Deadliest Catch or the college football championship next time you’re waiting for the coffee to brew. If you’re comfortable going to a mountainous lunch, see if your friend will invite you. Or be the first to suggest a happy hour next time you collectively have a really good (or really bad) day. I worked through a similar situation with a group of women who didn’t think I was “approachable”. It’s a matter of making a lot of little friendly gestures until the group feels comfortable.

      1. AnotherAlison

        You’ve nailed exactly what I deal with. I drop more F-bombs than anyone, though not so much at work as in my personal life. . .I’ve got a nasty temper, but I’m pretty controlled at work. Then, some guy will apologize for swearing. Um, I’m female, not a pastor. Your suggestions are good ones, and I’ll try. . .I think I do this fairly well with the people I work with directly, but I’ve only worked with 5-6 people directly so far.

    4. Computer Guy Eli

      I’ll add some masculine insight here.

      A guy can tell if ‘Joe from Accounting’ is going to rat on us if we start talking about ‘Suzie from HR’s ass. We can not, however, tell if a girl’s the same way. Even if we think they’re cool, we can’t be sure. Girls tend to be more easily offended, be it based on foul jokes or racial slurs. Yes, I know what I’m saying is sexist. Frankly speaking, most dudes are sexist. You have to make them feel comfortable around you.

      Here’s a cheat code for you, start calling everyone bro/dude. If the engineers where you’re at are anything like the engineers here, it won’t breach usual work lingo. Instead of calling them by their name, say “Hey bro, come over here for a second.”

      Or maybe this only works because I’m the youngest person on site and no one wants to correct me. Either way, it’ll work.

      1. AnotherAlison

        Yeah, I’m probably not going to call anyone dude or bro. I’m closer to 40 than 20. FWIW, most the people I work with are older than me, not younger.

        As for your first paragraph, I’m just ignoring that. I wouldn’t “rat” on anyone because I don’t see HR as my mommy or my teacher. I might tell someone to STFU, but that’s about it, unless they’re talking about me. I worked in manufacturing when I was 16-18, and I did notice more “tattling” there than in professional jobs, so I wonder if your plant is similar.

        1. fposte

          I sometimes call people “Dude” (it’s my rueful “get real” word). I like it, but I think the effect is similar to when your grandmother talks about “the Facebook.”

          I like MaryMary’s advice, but I also think it’s worth asking whether or not this is a problem–I’m leaning toward your manager’s POV that it’s not. Okay, they don’t know you deeply; but you’ve been there six months, and you probably don’t know them deeply either.

      2. MaryMary

        Just some friendly advice: you shouldn’t assume Joe from Accounting is cool with a comment Jane from Accounting wouldn’t be. For example, in my male dominated office we have a young man who is a very conservative Christian. I know for a fact that he finds the profanity flying around our office offensive and unprofessional, and I know the guys know he’s very religious. It would be more appropriate to apologize to him for an F bomb, but that doesn’t happen.

        1. Computer Guy Eli

          I’m not saying it’s right, or even that the thoughts I expressed were mine. I’m just saying that these are the surface thoughts of most dudes that I know.

      3. Andrea

        I don’t agree with the advice that you have to make people feel comfortable with you so that they can show their sexism and racism (often goes hand in hand especially with gross stereotypes). I’ve had good luck at my office gently leading by example on what a friendly culture can look like at work, and I’m always a little sad when I see people arguing to maintain the status quo for no reason. I’m aware that I’m lucky to work in the kind of job where I’m safe to gently say something, but the truth is that so are a lot of people who just don’t know how or don’t bother.

      4. AnonAcademic

        “A guy can tell if ‘Joe from Accounting’ is going to rat on us if we start talking about ‘Suzie from HR’s ass. ”

        So being “one of the guys” comes down to tolerating possible sexual harassment?!!

        Between this and your comments about biases about native americans I am thinking you really need to expand your worldview beyond Montana.

    5. Not So NewReader

      I’m lost here. This is one person’s opinion/perception of what he thinks is going on.
      In my mind, he needs to go back to the men and say “no, you got it all wrong”. And that should solve the problem.
      Tell him to go back and let the guys know a damn or a hell will not make your ears fall off and shatter. If he hems and haws about doing this, then he is the one having the problem, not the other guys. If what he is saying is true about the other men, he should be able to go back and say “no, she’s actually cool, no problems.” I have seen guys do this with each other as a matter of course.

      It could be me. But I am suspicious of anyone who tells me something in the format you describe: “Well, no one likes you or they are unsure about you EXCEPT for ME. I happen to be totally cool with you.” Oh, give me a break. Really.
      (Sorry, my lack of patience isn’t with you. I am smelling a head game here and that is what I am reacting to. Is there any chance this guy could be playing a head game?)

    6. Dr. Doll

      For me, the biggest problem here is that you’re being left out of the reindeer games and thus do not have access to all the informal information sharing and influence opportunities that the men do.

    7. Beezus

      Can you get the guy you’ve known longer to suggest a team lunch, and then you pipe up and suggest the mountainous place as a possible destination?

  90. Beezus

    I’m spending the afternoon doing remedial training and cleanup work with the department I left almost exactly five months ago. There’s some basic daily maintenance tasks that they’ve been partly or completely ignoring since my departure, and now they’re having major problems related to that, so they’re asking me to help fix it and show them how to do it again. This is the FOURTH training/helping session since my departure. I trained them, they didn’t understand so I retrained, I saw they weren’t doing it so I trained again and asked the new dept manager to attend (she smacked her gum the entire meeting and left early), and now I’m being asked to re-re-retrain, now with the director involved. Just exactly what I want to do on a Friday afternoon!

      1. Beezus

        My current manager is aware that I am doing it, and had some words with their director over why they’re not taking ownership over these reports.

        He’s allowing me to do it because the neglect has snowballed to the point that it’s hurting our customers. My new department has some oversight responsibility over my old department and others like it (we track metrics for the company and report on problems that affect our customers and make sure they’re addressed), so drawing attention to the fact that they’re not doing this stuff and getting them the help (or the slap upside the head) they need is my job.

        For one of my old colleagues, the problem is that the work is clerical and mindless and he feels it is beneath him, and he has been enabled to ignore and refuse to learn things he doesn’t want to do. For my replacement, who is new, the work is honestly still a bit confusing, and he has a coworker who is not doing it and a manager who is not following up with him about it, and he has been told not to bother me with questions (I think by the manager.) The manager is an AAM letter all by herself, and I am glad I reported to her only briefly.

          1. Beezus

            This is the last time they’re getting assistance. I will still have to monitor the metrics that make it apparent when they’re not doing this stuff, but if they fall behind in the future the reaction is going to be a lot less helpful and a lot more punitive.

    1. Not So NewReader

      Four training sessions shows that there is no desire to learn or pick up the pace.

      Ask your boss how many more times you will have to go before some one decides that infinite training sessions will not cure what is wrong here.
      Make notes along the lines of what you are saying right now. Give a copy to your boss.

      1. Beezus

        Agreed!

        I sent a summary of the training sessions to their director this evening, and cc’d my boss, along with an update on today’s progress. I’ll communicate my opinions on the team members themselves to my own boss verbally, but I avoid putting stuff like that in writing.

  91. Computer Guy Eli

    Well, I didn’t get the position at the school’s IT department, both a shocker and a disappointment.

    I want to work with computers, but at the moment I’m helping my parents get their ducks in a row with governmental income before I can move out of my home town. I’m a security officer making livable money, but it’s far from my passion. I’m friends with all the workers at the plant where I work, and the oldest person in our IT department will be leaving in three years. Good news about that is the guy who’d be doing the hiring is one of my better friends here, and he said he’ll hire me when the position opens.

    Problem is, I’m in a middle of nowhere town that I’ve lived in for all my life, less than 3000 people live here. I’ve got some mad debt from my first escapade in college that I got called home from and I’m barely making enough to keep a roof over my head without paying it off. I’m concerned that I’m going to land my dream job here and have no reason to leave this town. I feel like I’m missing something. My college experience wasn’t anything special, so I know I’m not missing that. I’m afraid I’ll never be able to gain career momentum as strong as I have right now, so I feel like I should stay here for professional reasons.

    I’m not sure how to articulate this but I know there’s some more seasoned people out here that can help me out. Should I stay here to capitalize on my (In my opinion) amazing momentum? Should I jump ship the moment I can, go back to college for Com Sci, and move to a bigger town based on wanderlust? My parents have always taught me that planting your roots will get you the most water, so I should stay at my job and climb the ranks. I’m not sure though.

    Holy cow am I the master of long posts, or what?

    1. ThursdaysGeek

      If you’re going to do much in computers, a degree will be useful. There are a ton of companies that require a 4 year degree in that or something related. So that will open up a lot more doors. On the other hand, debt can kill you, and you already have student loan debt. Any chance you can get grants or scholarships to help defray that? I don’t know how legit UOPeople is, but I guess that wouldn’t add to debt at least.

      If/when you leave your hometown, consider coming west instead of going east. You can get bigger (not huge) cities if you’re inland west without a crazy cost of living.

      1. Sparrow

        I agree that having a degree in computer science would be a plus if you are looking to move elsewhere. Is it possible for you to attend school part time while still working? You may be able to make connections in college that will help you get a job in a different city. I think if you are young and have the opportunity, this is a great time to to move somewhere else. Good luck!

      2. Computer Guy Eli

        Every time you post I’m reminded of my arachnophobia. :D

        My problem is that since I’m in montana, the teachers/professors I’ve come across are extremely bad at teaching anything computers related. I’m not sure whether the location is related, but I feel like it is. If I want to go to a university and actually learn what they teach, I’ll have to compile a sum of funds that I find to be ludicrous. I don’t qualify for any grants, because my dad’s a pharmacist but just didn’t save any money. It seems my only option is to save up upwards of forty thousand dollars working here and then go to college.

        1. ThursdaysGeek

          Sorry! I wasn’t so hot on spiders myself until my spouse gave me one as a Valentine’s gift, and that’s a picture of her. Other people see it as a palm tree on a sandy beach, so you should imagine that instead.

          That’s why I suggested UOPeople — it is free and online, has a comp sci degree, and CLAIMS it is accredited. But I don’t know how legit that accreditation is.

          And, even a bad comp sci degree will count (providing it’s accredited). I got one from a college in WA when they were just setting it up, and had one remarkably bad teacher, as well as some good ones. But now, no-one cares that I had several classes where the prof read to us out of the textbook…s..l..o..w..l..y. I have the paper, and more importantly, I’m good at it and I have experience. College doesn’t limit you to learning only what is taught.

          1. Computer Guy Eli

            Oh… UOPeople is a college! I thought it was a typo!

            Thanks! I’m fiercely googling right now.

          2. Ask a Manager Post author

            I’m curious about UOPeople! I just did some quick research, and it’s accredited and seems to be at least somewhat respected in the academic world. (Is that right or does anyone have a different take?) I was actually totally unfamiliar with it until now and am very curious to know more about it — how are degrees from there seen? Anyone with some knowledge on this?

            1. Computer Guy Eli

              I don’t know, but I haven’t been this excited about something since the gamecube dropped to 100$. I’ve got some fierce ‘too-good-to-be-true syndrome’ right now.

              THOUSANDS of thanks, thursdays. You may have just turned this country boy into a programmer.

            2. GOG11

              I work in higher ed and have emailed a colleague who has his finger on the pulse of these sorts of things about the standing of UOPeople in the academic world. If he gets back to me and doesn’t mine my sharing a summary of his comments, I’ll post back!

          3. Mallory Janis Ian

            Wow, I never saw before that that is a tarantula; I always just saw the palm tree on the beach. And for some reason, when I see the palm tree/beach, your name reads as ThursdaysGreek to me, but when I see the tarantula, I can read it as written. I think I conflate the pic with a Greek beach.

    2. Elizabeth West

      As we’ve seen many times on this forum, there is no such animal as a dream job. It seems to me that a town of 3,000 people isn’t going to have much in the way of career mobility or higher pay scales than you’re dealing with now. What if you get this job, max out in it, and then have nowhere to go?

      Have you looked at listings elsewhere? I’d start doing some career research on the kind of job you want to have. See what salaries are like, where the best companies are, etc. See what kind of training and skills you’d need for a job like that. If the one your friend said he’d hire you for comes open and it’s a great place and better pay than you have right now, sure, go for it. Start paying down your debt and learn as much as you can. But don’t paint yourself into a corner by thinking it’s the only job out there, or that your hometown is the only place you can be successful. That’s fear talking. Tell it to shut up!

    3. Adonday Veeah

      Take it from an old person who wishes I’d followed this advice earlier in my life:

      1. Pay off your debt.
      2. Save up an emergency fund.
      3. All other.

      Debt will hamper you no matter what you want to do. Give yourself some elbow room. Wouldn’t it just suck if just the most wonderful, perfect opportunity came along and you couldn’t do it because of your debt? Work hard to get out from under.

      In the meantime, start giving yourself some interesting experiences from right where you are so that you can go toward something compelling (and know specifically what that is for you) instead of just leaving a small town.

      Plan, don’t dream.

      Oh, and just because you take that IT job when it becomes available, doesn’t mean you have to stay there forever.

  92. Masters Degree Searcher

    To the person who got their offer rescinded:
    It gets better. It happened to me too after I tried to negotiate pay—they pulled the offer and readvertised it, so I wrote a detailed glassdoor review.

    Then, I wound up getting a job offer from a far more prestigious more-in-line-with-my-goals job (contract 8 months) but pays $14k more than what I currently make, and it saves so much money on metro costs.

    It’s 8 months but renewable based on bidding/other stuff and even if not renewable, the work I will do there will be impressive and substantial.

    I’m terrified, but also excited. :)