standing on the street with a “for hire” sign, my employer left me stranded, and more

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. Standing on the street with a sign saying that you’re for hire

I wondered if you’d have any comments on this story about a new grad who stood on the winter streets with a sign that said, “U of T Grad for hire; Take my resume & get a free Xmas gift; Marketing / Ad-Job; [email address]” The gift was candy canes.

She was apparently successful.

Not a gimmick everyone can pull off, but I guess it can work once in a blue moon.

It works very rarely, you kind of debase yourself in the process, and if it works, you’ve just ended up with a boss who responds to flash and gimmicks rather than merit and talent, which is going to make for an unhappy work life. I’ve never understood why someone would go this route rather than selling themselves through the far more effective means of a compelling cover letter and strong resume, which in addition to working has the advantage of screening for better managers than ones who hire for “gumption” and candy canes.

2. My new coworkers are mispronouncing my name

I’ve recently started a new job at a great company. Just one problem–not everyone knows how to say my name! I have an unusual name, and a lot of the time, people will read it and make their best attempt. Unfortunately, I don’t find out about their creative pronunciation until a few weeks later. For example, I’ll hear them say my name incorrectly during a conference call, or realize they’re pronouncing my name incorrectly when mentioning me to others.

How do I correct people I’ve been working with for a few months and tell them that’s not my name, without making them feel dumb, or looking dumb for not correcting them sooner?

I’d just correct them on the spot when you hear it (“Oh, it’s actually Imogen”), and just be matter-of-fact about it. The more matter-of-fact you sound, the less awkward it will be for them. I wouldn’t do this on a conference call (unless you’re the next speaker, in which case you can do a quick correction), but otherwise just correct it and move on. Don’t get caught up in worrying about making them feel dumb or not correcting them sooner; as long as you do it the first time you hear it, people will just note the correction and it won’t be a big deal.

The other thing you can do since you have an unusual name is to use a service like Audio Name and put a line in your email signature saying “hear my name,” linking to an audio recording of you pronouncing your name. Hell, if you have a small company or a small team, you could even send that link out to everyone with a humorous message about you’ve noticed people aren’t sure how to say your name.

3. My employer left me stranded on the side of the road when my car broke down on a work trip

My employer requires use of personal vehicles for this job. I travel all over the state in my vehicle and can log over 500 miles per week on behalf of the company. I was recently stranded on the side of the road far from the office and also my home due to an unexpected issue with my car. This is the only time in two years of employment this has happened, as I take care to maintain my vehicle.

Is my employer liable to help me in any way, such as sending someone from the office to pick me up, offering to pay for a taxi so I can get home or to the office, or paying my tow charge? In the very least, are they responsible for my safety in this situation? As you might have guessed already, zero assistance was offered by the two gentlemen who run the small business and were sitting in the office at the time while I was sitting stranded on the side of the road, in winter, in New England.

I can’t think of any law that would require it, unfortunately. California requires employers to reimburse employees for all expenses or losses incurred in the direct discharge of the employee’s work, which might cover something like this if you work in California, but it sounds like you don’t. A small number of other states might have something similar. But otherwise, I can’t think of a law that would cover this. (Can anyone else?) Regardless, though, the big take-away here is that you work for people who are both jerks and bad managers.

4. Employer wants proof I graduated from high school, and I don’t have it

I have lost my diploma over the years. My high school has closed. The school my transcripts went to has closed. I graduated in 1986. I have college credits. Is this enough? My future employer wants a school that is credited to the board of education. I went to a Catholic school.

It should be enough. You graduated from high school nearly 30 years ago. It’s ridiculous for them to ask for this. I would just say: “The high school closed years ago and I’m not able to obtain the documentation you’re requesting. How should we proceed?”

These people have lost their minds for requiring this, by the way.

5. How can I stay on top of all the news in my field?

I am a leader of a nonprofit organization in an emerging space that is gaining increasing attention every day (early childhood). You would think this is good news, but I am recently feeling so bogged down by everything that I intend to read (new research, new nonprofits, op eds, etc.) that is coming out rapid fire about this area of work, I can’t figure out how to manage the reading list. I can’t read everything, there’s just no way and I’m losing track of what’s important. It’s such high volume that someone sent me a critical New Yorker piece last week that I think I would have missed completely (phew on that one!). I feel that I have a responsibility to be knowledgeable about our sector and to be able to speak intelligently about current developments in real time, but it often feels like I’m behind the 8 ball. What tactics and/or tech do you recommend to effectively filter so that the important stuff rises to the top?

Can you assign someone to be your filter — charge them with reading the most important sources in your field and sending you a daily or weekly digest of the most important pieces? You might also look (or, better, assign someone else to look) to see if there’s a blogger or other news source in your field that’s doing this type of digest already.

Aside from that, though, I have no good answers — I struggle with this one too — so I’m hoping that readers will weigh in with other suggestions.

{ 359 comments… read them below }

  1. BRR*

    Is there possibly a list serve? I subscribe to one for my field and once a day I get an email with questions, blog posts, and links to news articles.

    1. Stephanie*

      I’d say that or some kind of RSS reader. OldJob had someone who ran a wiki with relevant articles in the field.

      1. Annie*

        I’d do Feedly (now that there is no Google Reader) for the pages you know you should look at often, and a Google Alert to capture everything else. Both of these usually give you a bit of a preview (first sentence or paragraph- though some blogs come through completely on feedly) so you can see if the item is relevant for the day/week/moment.

          1. Muriel Heslop*

            I love feedly! I mourned the loss of Google Reader but now I am over it. You can set up categories, too. I get caught up on my education blogs all at once. Good luck!

            1. kristinyc*

              Yeah, I miss Google Reader, but Feedly’s grown on me – I like being able to swipe quickly on my phone (I follow a lot of feeds like Lifehacker and Slate that have a TON of content, and sometimes they’re things I really want to read and sometimes not so much).

              Does anyone know if there’s a way to “Mark as read up until here”? I’ve had the app crash on me a few times, and it always seems to happen on days when I have 400 articles to go through and I’m about 300 in. When I get back into it, it’s showing everything as unread.

              1. EarlGrey*

                The desktop version has a “mark as read: all / older than 1 day / older than 1 week” under the settings icon at the top of the reader pane. Not sure about mobile, but I hope that helps!

        1. Ed*

          I’ve been following 100+ blogs with RSS for years and it takes me about 5 minutes or less a day to check them. I check new articles every day at lunch and save anything I want to read. Then I can pull the saved articles up at home when I have time to kill.

          I spent an EXTENSIVE amount of time trying out different readers when Google went away and Feedly was way ahead of everything else. Some may have a better interface (though Feedly’s is good too) but I require a) logging in with my Google account so I don’t have to manage yet another username/password, b) a web interface so I don’t install anything and it will work across Mac & Windows and c) a good mobile client that stays in sync with the web client. Feedly has all of that. I also like that I can search (and usually find) the feed without going to the source and hunting for the little RSS icon to get the link. You can click “Add Content” and just type “ask a manager” into the search bar to add this site which is really nice.

        2. Vanishing Girl*

          I’ve found The Old Reader to be my favorite for keeping up with RSS. I tried feedly, but it never grew on me.

          1. Cath in Canada*

            Newsblur was the best fit for me. I tried Feedly and Old Reader too, but Newsblur has the best mobile app by far and the browser version is just as good as the others.

    2. Ama*

      I work for a medical research nonprofit in an disease that has just exploded in advances in the last several years and part of my job is monitoring the news for items that might concern our grantees/other people who have ties to us, so I have a few different strategies:

      — An RSS feed of the biggest academic journals and medical news blogs in Outlook, accompanied by a filter that assigns the “urgent” marker (the exclamation point) if a story contains one of several keywords. This lets me quickly scan a feed that covers a much broader area for stories that particularly deal with the more niche disease I need to know about.

      –I’ve found “Outliner of the Giants” (a Chrome app) particularly useful in organizing bookmarks I want to save for later. You can not only organize things like an outline by subject but tag each item with relevant subjects, allowing you to easily look over, say, everything that’s come in on “curriculum development.” It is time consuming — I tend to dump things in a normal bookmark folder and sort them into the Outliner at the end of the week — but I also find organizing the bookmarks helps me quickly assess the gist of an article even if I don’t have time to read the whole thing.

      –I also have Google Alerts set up (this is where it is helpful to have a “work Gmail” identity) for a few big keywords as well as a string of people important to our organization, and have Outlook set up to dump the daily email digest in a special folder.

      –The NIH has a couple of cool publication database tools I use as well, but it sounds like that’s not going to be appropriate for your subject.

  2. Stephanie*

    #1: Do candy canes cut anyone else’s tongue, or is this just me? In any case, you don’t want your candicacy associated with blood, peppermint flavor, and pain.

    #3: Agreed. Your employers suck.

    #4: I’d offer up the college transcript. Clearly you had to graduate high school to take college courses, so that should be sufficient…

    1. Sherm*

      #4 And the college transcript might even mention where you graduated from high school and when. I’m pretty sure mine did.

      1. LEL*

        If you had gone to a public school, I would have suggested calling the school district, who would certainly have archives of transcripts and diplomas. But I’m not sure how that works for a parochial school. Is there still a parish or a diocese in that area? Surely they must have records? Have you contacted the state board of education–they must have some sort of records for private school graduates in the state?

        Clearly your employment track record is more meaningful than a 30-year-old certificate, but I work in the civil service, so I’m sensitive to the fact that sometimes employers have to check boxes off and don’t have a whole lot of leeway for this. Good luck!

        1. Annie*

          If necessary call the Diocese – if you don’t know it you can go to search the city & state and once you find a church near by the site has the Archdiocese listed on the “parish details” page. As long as it was a diocesan school (and many are) they should be able to help you. If it was run by an order (a particular group of nuns or priests) and you can remember who it was you can always call their headquarters, and they maybe able to help you too.

          1. Dr. Speakeasy*

            I was also going to suggest contacting the diocese. My mom graduated from a Catholic high school in the 70s, which closed, stored records in a warehouse, which then burned down. She had quite the time trying to find proof she graduated when she wanted to go to our local CC in the 90s. However, the diocese had some class lists and photos of graduating classes that were helpful. I think they took that plus some earlier college credits as proof.

            1. Decimus*

              Agreeing with the above. Contact the diocese. The diocese should have records on all closed Catholic schools.

      2. Judy*

        I’m quite sure my undergraduate college transcript has the first entry as my high school name, city, state, and date of diploma.

      3. Artemesia*

        I would think the diocese would have retained such records but perhaps the OP has already checked.

        I have looked at a lot of transcripts from colleges and I think most of them include the high school the student graduated from. It is also possible the college you attended keeps application materials and has your transcript and the registrar there might be able to help you out. You might call the registrar of that college and explain your situation and see if s/he has some idea of how to document your HS graduation; they must have to occasionally deal with this sort of issue themselves.

        Of course “I graduated 30 years ago and the school has long since closed; I cannot get the hs transcript at this point but could get my college transcript which is evidence of high school graduation.” should suffice. But with twits like those that run this place, who knows. Completely silly. Even if you didn’t graduate from high school, at this point in your career that should be totally irrelevant.

        1. Chinook*

          ““I graduated 30 years ago and the school has long since closed; I cannot get the hs transcript at this point but could get my college transcript which is evidence of high school graduation.” should suffice.”

          Could be worse – the school I graduated from at that time was K-12. Now it is is K-6 (the upper half gott their own school after 10 years of growth). So, if I show them my high school diploma and then they google it (because, if they don’t trust that my university degree proves I graduated high school, then they are not going to trust my school was real, right?), then they are going to question why I am bragging about graduating from grade 6.

          But, really, why don’t they they just ask for proof of your highest level of education and leave it at that?

      4. Lizzie*

        Yeah, both my undergraduate and graduate transcripts (different schools) have a line that says something like “Basis for admission” and then lists either my HS diploma or my undergraduate degree, along with the school name and city/state. I would look there first.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      On #4, definitely … unless the OP didn’t graduate from college, which for some reason was my assumption, although I can’t remember why I had that in my head.

      1. Mabel*

        I had the same assumption – probably because the OP said, “I have college credits.” But even if s/he didn’t graduate from college, I would think any kind of college records would tend to prove that the student graduated from high school – right?

        1. Wehaf*

          It’s not so unusual for people without high school diplomas to go to college; I know at least a dozen people who started college or took some college courses without finishing high school.

          1. KJR*

            My daughter is a high school senior who has enough college credits to begin college in the fall as a sophomore, so no, a HS diploma is not necessarily required to take college classes.

          2. Nashira*

            Although it can be awkward explaining ehy you have, say, two associates degrees and no high school diploma. I am really hoping that awkward stops once I finish my bachelor’s.

            1. Kat M*

              I actually had a classmate who never formally graduated high school, though she finished college. She did four years, but was an exchange student and that seemed to throw things off.

              1. Aunt Vixen*

                I knew a guy who basically outgrew high school and the colleges were clamoring for him – so he went to college after his junior year of high school although he was some small number of state-required credits short of graduating high school. (It was a private school, but some state laws are not surmountable.) I think after his freshman year at college he was considered to have completed four years of English or whatever, so the high school finally put him down as having fulfilled all the requirements and graduated him–it’s like the opposite of AP, right, he was taking college classes for high school credit–but if they hadn’t, exactly nobody would have given a cr@p. I think he has at least one doctorate now.

                1. Ann O'Nemity*

                  I know someone who was bullied mercilessly in high school. She dropped out, got her GED, and promptly enrolled in college. She’s never regretted her choice.

                2. Buffay the Vampire Layer*

                  I did the exact same thing, down to counting college courses for the fourth year of HS English. I know my HS is on my final transcript, and I’m pretty sure it was on there from the start.

                  But here, unless it’s a government employer, why are they doing this?

              2. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

                Back in the 1970s, some Social Security laws changed, and it required some kids to enroll in college – part time – while they were still in high school. I would guess that if some kids took to the college well, a handful never finished high school but went on to get their bachelor’s degree.

          3. CH*

            That’s true–my son took 3 classes at the local community college during his senior year of high school–mostly because he had finished the high school math curriculum already.

            1. Dan*

              Along the same lines, I had 41 college credits completed before I graduated high school. So no, “some college” doesn’t mean that someone graduated from hs.

          4. Chinook*

            A friend of my dad’s is a high school dropout who went on to earn his engineering degree at university. The universities in Canada will accept you as a mature student when you are 21 or older and do no require a high school diploma if you can pass an entrance exam (which isn’t required if you do have the diploma).

            Now, if you don’t have further education, I can see why a lack of high school diploma can trip you up as you have no proof of literacy, numeracy and basic knowledge of certain science (I come from a place with provinical exams that reflect certain standards that need to be passed to graduate). Life experience also don’t prove that (as there are a number of functionally illiterate people who have great skill at hiding this fact).

            Is there any other way to prove basic skills and knowledge other than a high school diploma?

          5. ThursdaysGeek*

            In our state, lots of high school students are in a program called Running Start, which allows them to attend college their last 2 years of high school. Many of them attend their high school graduation, and the following week attend their college graduation (with an AA or AS degree).

      2. reader*

        From OP “The school my transcripts went to has closed.” I think this means the college she went to after high school is also closed with no way to get those records either.

        1. Alma*

          The County Board of Education should maintain those records. I agree, your transcripts from college should be sufficient. I was asked on an online application for the month, day, and year of my high school graduation. I called the County Board of Education, and I had the answer quickly.

          1. Annie*

            Not if its a Catholic School, though it should be with the Diocese or the main office for the order of priests or nuns that ran the school.

            1. Not So NewReader*

              This. I’d recommend for OP just to keep going up the ladder. We had a hospital close here. The county got involved in the keeping of those records. It could be just a matter of OP figuring out who is the next rung on the ladder and checking with those people.

          2. De Minimis*

            I’ve never needed the transcript, but my high school closed a while back and I guess I could run into the same problem. I believe an alumni group has kept the enrollment records and makes them available to those who need them.

    3. Yellow Flowers*

      #4 – If you are in the US, check with state council for higher education in your state. They don’t have individual records, but they would know where the records for any accredited school would be. They would also verify the closing of the original school, if you needed that.

    4. Florida*

      I worked at a place once that required proof of high school diploma. One employee was in a similar predicament where her private school had closed. She signed an affidavit that that said she graduated from East Cupcake High School in 1984, and has lost her diploma and transcripts. That was good enough for the employer.

    5. The IT Manager*

      Check with the Catholic Diocese that your school and the school who maintained your transcript were part of. I would very surprised to discover they didn’t make arrangements to maintain records for graduates of both schools.

    6. John*

      My current employer wouldn’t accept a college transcript, if you can imagine. We had to show copies of our diplomas. I was processed alongside a woman who had advanced degrees. The poor thing had to lug in three huge framed diplomas! Made me pleased I had the good sense to only get my bachelor’s!

        1. Artemesia*

          This and all of the colleges I graduated from would not produce a second copy of the diploma if it was lost. It was considered a ceremonial document and the transcript is the official record so there was no need to produce additional diplomas in case of loss. I believe that outside the US the diploma itself is more significant and must be produced.

        2. Chinook*

          “The transcript is the official document, not the diploma.”

          Not internationally. Everywhere I have applied in Canada and abroad, they didn’t care about what classes you took or your grades, just that you graduated. The transcripts show the details but the diploma and degree are the legal, identifying document.

    7. jhhj*

      Where I live, once you’re 21 you can take university courses without a high school diploma, and you could also get a Bachelor’s degree without one. It’s still absurd to require proof that someone graduated from high school 30 years later.

      1. Mabel*

        I agree. If you’ve got college credits (let alone a degree), that really ought to be enough for the employers who want proof that you graduated from high school. Since I read this question, I’ve been wondering why they ask for that information. Perhaps they hire a lot of people who graduated high school but didn’t attend college or maybe they use an automated application system that they haven’t bothered to customize or…?

    8. soitgoes*

      You actually don’t have to have graduated high school to take college courses; you can attend community college as long as you’re at least 18 years old. They’ll make you take the 095-level stuff you didn’t take in high school, but it’s totally possible for someone to completely bypass a high school diploma and eventually complete an advanced degree.

      1. Monodon monoceros*

        My chemistry professor in undergrad was a high school dropout who started university in his late 20’s and went on to get his PhD. Quite inspiring, actually!

      2. CH*

        Depends on where you are, I’d guess. As I noted above, my son took 3 community college classes during his senior year–starting when he was 17. They were advanced classes his high school didn’t offer. He wasn’t working on an associates degree, but took those credits with him to his 4 year college. I remember how hard we had to fight the high school guidance counselors to set this up for him though. They didn’t like it when students didn’t fit into their neat little boxes.

        1. soitgoes*

          Had he been 18, he could have signed up for courses regardless of his high school status. Additionally, he would not have encountered those hurdles had he intended on staying at the community college and finishing an AA. The problems arose because your son was trying to accumulate credits at a 4-year school while still a minor in high school.

        2. A Teacher*

          I teach 6 hours worth of dual credit and we currently offer 3 other courses so kids can walk out of my high school with 15 hour of college credit, next year when we start offering DC history courses it will be potentially 24 hours of college credit. There are requirements for dual credit that are set at the federal level, but no, you don’t have to be a high school graduate to have 100 and 200 level college courses on a transcript.

      3. ThursdaysGeek*

        As I noted above, we have high school juniors and seniors attending our community college, getting high school and college credits simultaneously, and many graduating at 17 or 18 with a high school diploma and 2 year degree.

    9. VictoriaHR*

      My workplace requires that we verify at least one completed level of education. Either high school, GED, or college diploma/degree. It does suck when someone graduated from high school ages ago, but it’s standard background checking in our industry (insurance/finance).

      1. Erin*

        Totally agree that it’s standard in some industries. I used to work in finance in an HR capacity and we always verified highest level of education obtained. It can be tough on candidates but I was told it was related to our FDIC compliance.

  3. A Non*

    #2 – Audioname is a good idea! Personally I have more success when people describe how a word is supposed to be pronounced (for example, the A in Wakeen is pronounced like the A in audience, not at) or give a word that it rhymes with rather than hearing it, but that is possibly due to some auditory issues on my part. I really do want to get your name right, please feel free to correct me! I promise not to make a big deal out of it.

    1. Newsie*

      Agreed! What if you did something like A non says in your signature? In my business, pronouncers are common. I had a colleague with an unusual-to-here last name put one in her email signature, under her name, in a smaller font. It was easy as pie. It looked something like:

      Newsie Rachmaninoff
      Say it: NEW-see rock-MAHN-in-off
      (I think I prono’d Rachmaninoff right. Fingers crossed!)

      1. Puffle*

        I have a long and very unusual surname which is hard to spell but easy to say, mostly because it isn’t written phonetically. I find the easiest way is, as you guys say, to describe my name by writing something like:

        Anna Greynket (pronounced as “green cat”)

        (This is not my actual name, obviously! My real name is much harder to spell :p).

        1. attornaut*

          I also have a name that is weirdly spelled but pronounced like a common, easy to say word in english. No one, and I mean NO ONE, at my office bothers to remember the pronunciation. It’s been two years and I still correct them (every time, saying, “it’s exactly like X word!”) and every time they use my name in a conference call or to someone outside of the office, they still get it wrong.

          I’ve just given up, but it’s definitely added to a sense that I’m not valued at my job.

          1. peanut butter kisses*

            I have that problem too with about ten percent of my office. It is especially annoying when that ten percent take it upon themselves to correct other people’s correct pronunciation of my name to ‘save me from the embarrassment’.

            I also once made a large donation to a charity and the woman who took my money looked at my form and told me that I had misspelled my own name and said that she would correct it for me! Umm, no. That charity will never get another penny of my money – ever.

          2. Lizzie*

            Similar – my name actually is a common, easy-to-say word in English, but people always assume it must be pronounced differently than it’s spelled. I always tell people, “It’s [last name], like [synonym].”

          3. hayling*

            I wouldn’t take it personally. Some people are just like that! It drives me crazy even though it’s not my name they’re mispronouncing.

    2. Kirsten*

      Yes to both points. I have a link to Audio Name in my email signature, and although I don’t know how much it’s used, it at least increases the chances that it will be pronounced right. My only complaint is that I haven’t figured out how to get the formatting to work right when I email from my phone.

      And ever since starting kindergarten, my mom told me to tell people that my name sounds like “ear”, which is so much more successful than just repeating the correct pronunciation over and over. (It also helps that my job involves music, so now I can relate the “ear” pronunciation to my job title as well.)

      1. Artemesia*

        Many years ago I worked with a Kirsten and pronounced it correctly the first time I interacted with her, because well, that is the way you pronounce Kirsten. Apparently that was a rarity in her life because she was quite effusive about having it said correctly. She told me it usually got pronounced either Chris-ten or Curr- stin.

        1. Agile Phalanges*

          I know a Kristen (pronounced Kris-tin), a Kirstin (pronounced Curr-stin), and a Kirsten (pronounced Keer-stin). Luckily, the latter is in a completely context than the other two, but not-so-luckily, the other two are BFFs, so I often see them together. It’s pretty much impossible to say the right name when hanging out with both of them.

      2. bridget*

        I try really hard to pronounce people’s names correctly, but can be tripped up with names like yours that have closely-pronounced variants. A rhyme is SUPER helpful for me. I know a lot of Laurie/Lorie/Lauren/Lorens who all like their name pronounced slightly differently, and it’s easy for me to inadvertently mess them up. One of them told me her version of “Laurie” rhymed with “sorry,” and I never got it wrong again.

          1. SerfinUSA*

            Ugh! Just had a flashback of a psychotic Canadian female former boss. SO-ree! Pronounced with a hint of glee and undertone of ‘I’m only saying this because it’s expected and customers are in earshot’.

      3. Al Lo*

        I would mispronounce your name the first time I saw it, simply because most of the Kirstens I know pronounce it KIRR-sten. The ones who pronounce it KEAR-sten in my world tend to spell it differently (Kiersten, Kjersten, etc — which brings its own level of misspellings and mispronunciations!). But once I knew, I’d totally get it right every time after that. :)

    3. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Also, depending on the size of the company and/or the OP’s team, the next time they have a question for someone at the company with whom they don’t work closely on a daily basis, I suggest walking over to their office and saying “Hi Wakeen, I’m Imogen. I had a quick question about the widgets, and I thought it might be a nice opportunity for us to meet face-to-face!” That way they get to hear it AND associate it with a voice and a face.

      But then, I like chatting with my fellow co-workers. :)

    4. AnotherHRPro*

      My boss mispronounces one of my direct reports name wrong ALL THE TIME. It drive me crazy. It isn’t a particularly hard name to pronounce but it isn’t common either. I’ve corrected him so many times but he just keeps mispronouncing it. And because he is an executive, many people are now mispronouncing it. The good news is my employee takes it in stride and doesn’t react to it all but I think it is so disrespectful.

      Any advice? I correct people every time I hear someone say the name improperly and have talked to my boss many times about it.

      1. AdAgencyChick*

        Is your boss disrespectful in other ways? If so, my guess is you’re not going to change him. If he’s otherwise generally a polite person, I wonder whether he’s one of those people who truly will not remember unless he’s called out on the *pattern* of mispronouncing the name (in addition to being corrected on individual instances). If you have a good relationship with him, can you bring it up in a one-on-one conversation with him — “Wakeen is way too nice to say anything, but I can’t imagine he enjoys being called ‘Wacky’ all the time. Can you please make sure to call him Wakeen?”

        It might just be that the boss hasn’t placed himself in your direct report’s shoes, and once he does, he’ll make an effort. I hope, anyway!

        1. Joline*

          Well, and some people just don’t hear sounds the same way. I listen to my dad doing Spanish or Russian vocabulary tapes in the car sometimes. It’s basically listen and repeat. What he repeats does not necessarily sound like what he listened to (with foreign languages especially apparently if you don’t learn certain sounds early enough you’ll likely never bee able to hear certain differences). So hidden option three – he just honestly can’t hear the difference between what he’s saying and how people are telling him it’s pronounced. Not that I know how to rectify the situation if that is the answer.

          1. AnotherHRPro*

            I fear that this is the issue. He has a southern accent so that may make the issue more noticeable. I have a great relationship with my boss and he is a very kind and well intentioned person. Every time I correct him he is apologetic but next time he mispronounces the name again.

    5. LBK*

      I really do want to get your name right, please feel free to correct me!

      This is what I wanted to say to the OP – people will probably be relieved once they hear the official pronunciation from you, since they probably feel awkward about having to guess how to say it.

    6. ChristinaW*

      How about getting one or two of your closest coworkers to help correct people? I do this when people pronounce my boss’ name wrong when talking to me, which is frequent. I just say, “actually, it’s pronounced “Wakeen” – a lot of people find it a challenge to pronounce.”

    7. Wren*

      My husband goes by his Chinese name (very inaccurately transliterated, but that’s another story, and everyone including his mother says it that way when speaking English,) but I always introduce him as, “[his name]-rhymes-with-[word.]”

  4. Rasd-Coduresa Diziet Embless Sma da'Marenhide*

    In re No. 5 – if you’re having trouble, perhaps others are, too? Is there any way you could put one or two people on the news gathering and synopsis, and then sell it as a service? Just a thought.

    1. Mabel*

      I was thinking along these lines, too. I used to work for an organization that subscribed to a news clipping service (back when they actually clipped articles out of newspapers and magazines). We were looking for coverage of our organization, rather than information about a particular topic, but I think it could work either way. You just need to be careful not to give them keywords that are too broad, or you’ll end up with too much information or info that is too general (and if you pay by the clipping, you’ll pay a lot for this not very helpful information – don’t ask me how I know this :) ).

    2. jag*

      I was thinking the same thing. At a minimum share whatever is collected/produced with all staff as a resource.

    3. Not Here or There*

      There are actually quite a few services that do media monitoring, both human reviewed and digital. They typically scan the forms of media you select for names, phrases, industry-type etc, and then present you with the findings. A business can then have someone (usually an intern, admin, or someone lower on the totem pole in the PR or Comms/Marketing Dept) review the findings and select the most relevant to share and post.

  5. Dorth Vader*

    OP #5- Do you follow NAEYC (National Association for the Education of Young Children) on Facebook? They post links to lots of great articles/resources daily and it’s hard to ignore them on followers’ newsfeeds (YMMV, of course). I’m sure you’re doing this already, but subscribing to emails from various EC organizations helps keep me on top of stuff- maybe send them to a separate folder and make sure to carve out 30 minutes a day to check it. The ones I get the most info from are NAEYC and Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood. HuffPo also has an EC section of their site that might be worth bookmarking. And, from a cursory Google search, there are a few sites where you can sign up for newsletters with EC news. Setting a news alert for EC topics might also be a good step (in fact, there’s an option for it on Google Scholar, where you can find academic works on the subject). Personally I like getting my news in print form, so maybe see if your employer will subsidize a journal subscription for you? That’s how I got most of my stuff in college. There was one other site that my department head raved about in college and I’m totally blanking on the name. If I can find it I’ll come back and post it, but it was really great.

    Sorry this is so rambly, I’m an early childhood person myself and really miss doing research!

  6. MsM*

    #5: Digests are helpful, but feeling like you need to be able to address everything that’s going on in your sector at a moment’s notice strikes me as a possible strategic problem. If you’re finding yourself starting to branch off into articles or getting caught up in debates that are tangential to what your nonprofit does because they might turn into something more relevant, go back to your organization’s mission. Take another look at your goals and priorities, figure out where the gaps in knowledge are that might keep you from achieving those goals or where you’re best positioned to be a leader in the field, and target your reading list (or get your board and staff’s help with that targeting) accordingly.

    Also, remember that sometimes – not when you’re giving a keynote on the subject, obviously, but when you’re talking to people over coffee, or brainstorming with staff – it’s okay to say, “I saw the headline, but didn’t have a chance to do more than skim. What was your take?” or “I must have missed that one. Tell me more?” Making other people feel like they have something to offer is part of being a good leader, too. You don’t have to be the expert all the time.

    1. Graciosa*

      Good advice.

      To the OP, I would focus on skimming the headlines. Set aside a certain amount of time each day or week which is your “time budget” for reviewing this material with one longer interval for actual reading. When you skim the headlines, you’re only interested in whether this article is one of the limited number you can actually read. MsM’s advice about focusing on your organization’s mission to make these decisions is a good test.

      If your time runs out, get rid of everything you haven’t read. I know you will be tempted to hold on to it and “get to it next week” but this only allows your reading list to build up again and avoids forcing you to learn how to identify your real priorities. You need to let the rest of it go.

      There is always more information you could try to digest – I am quite certain I could easily spend all day every day reading material relevant to my job, but then I would never have time to do it. Forgive yourself for not devoting unlimited brain power to absorbing new material and give up the guilt.

      1. JMegan*

        Forgive yourself for not devoting unlimited brain power to absorbing new material and give up the guilt.

        THIS is something I need to have stitched on a sampler. Thank you!

      2. themmases*

        This is very good advice. And as a person who is in the middle of lit review right now I can say, if you are interested and engaged in your job then you *can* trust your instincts about what you want to spend time reading. Really!

        If something feels like a “should read” and not a “want to read”, find your favorite software to save and tag just that stuff– e.g. the top 3 most cited articles on topic X if I ever decide I need to know about topic X. With more distance and a focus on what you *want* to know, it will be a lot easier to pick which topic X sources to read.

  7. Brett*

    #4 I have dealt with in genealogy searches. In nearly every state, when a high school closes they must send all of their records to the state department of education. Start there and there is a good chance you will find your transcripts and/or proof of graduation.

    1. Labratnomore*

      The other thing you could try is check with the church you were baptized in (if you are Catholic). The Catholic Church keeps all of a person’s records in the church they were baptized in. For example, if you get married in a catholic church in a different location (even a different diocese or different country) your official marriage record gets stored at the church where you received baptism, not the one you were married in. I wonder, since this was a Catholic high school, if they would keep your official school record there as well. Also, did you have to provide that info to get accepted to your college? Maybe they have the info there. Good luck.

      1. Wren*

        Your marriage record is sent to the church you were baptized in because it’s a sacrament. High school graduation isn’t, so it may or may not be, but worth a try.

  8. katamia*

    I think the approach in OP1’s question is something that would probably only work for certain industries. I’m not super impressed with it and wouldn’t hire someone who did that, but I’m in different fields that are less oriented toward getting attention.

    For OP5, are there special areas within early childhood that your nonprofit focuses on (e.g., literacy, Head Start)? It may help you feel more on the ball if, at least to start, you focus on one or two specific sub-areas. The depth you’ll get from that focus might help you feel more informed.

    I’m wondering if you actually *need* that level of information on every single aspect of your field, though. Is there a way to see how your colleagues in similar positions at other nonprofits divide up their time to see if you’re spending a significantly larger percentage of your time (or intending to) on staying current? If there are time management books for nonprofit leaders, those could also give you a different perspective.

    1. Elsajeni*

      Ooh, yes — OP, if you’re a member of any discussion groups or lists for people in your field, this might be a good question for them. You don’t have to admit to feeling overwhelmed if you don’t want to, but posting something like “How do you organize your reading list?”, “What are your best tips for staying current while still having time for the rest of your job?”, “What’s your single favorite go-to source for news in the field?”, etc. might get some really good answers that would help you manage your time and narrow down the list of things you feel you MUST read.

  9. Pennycrest*

    Google Alerts are a life safer! I set mine for 5 different key words and set the frequency that is the most convenient for me to read. ie – I don’t say every day, because then I just feel guilty that it’s another unread email. I’m a development professional so I follow foundations, key donors, and other industry topics for the non-profit I fund raise for. I have found it works well, since my colleagues don’t use alerts, so I can forward out pertinent information that effects us or requires action to my boss prior to most people knowing about it.

    1. AnotherHRPro*

      I use Google Alerts as well and find it is very effective. One e-mail each day based on your search criteria and you can scan through the headlines of what it pulls.

  10. Puffle*

    #1 What I always have to wonder is, for every one person who’s successful in these gimmicky approaches, how many people fail? You hear about the ones who get on the local/ national news, but how many people just make themselves look like idiots and don’t even get a single phone call? I would be just plain embarrassed to try something like this.

    1. MK*

      Also, I would like to know how long the person lasts in the job they found. I think a manager who would hire someone like that might have unconventional expectations. I can see a certain kind of person imagining they had hired an eccentric genious and expect out-of-the-box original solutions to all their problems. And be disappointed when it turns out that, no, this is just someone who pulled a gimmick. Alternatively, the boss might have been dazzled by the gimmick and hired the person, forgetting that gumption is all very well, but we need someone who can operate Excel for the job.

      1. JM in England*

        I take my hat off to the person in #1. To do something like that takes guts that I’ll never have. Also, when you’re desperate, people can resort to extreme measures to get where they want to be. Have often heard that employers admire those who “think out of the box” and I think that doing this is demonstrable proof of it!

    2. Ž*

      if it worked for everybody who tried it, or even most people, it wouldn’t be news. How often do you read a headline about a person who sent in a perfectly ordinary resume and was then called in for a perfectly ordinary interview and ultimately got the job? never, because it’s not news,it happens all the time that people get jobs that way.

      So if it’s in the news and making headlines, it must be pretty rare to get a job that way, even though plenty of people probably give it a try.

  11. Alma*

    OP #3. I feel for you. My work has been in rural areas where there is generally more pothole than pavement. I had car trouble out in the middle of nowhere, and called in to advise that I was awaiting the motor club, which would take an hour or so. How should I code my time sheet, I asked? I was told that I was off the clock, unless I was able to fill the time with computer work (without an online connection). @#$%.

    My suggestion is that you research your motor club services carefully. I have now switched to a high level service plan that will tow my car up to 200 miles, among other important benefits. My previous plan would tow only to the closest place that could fix the problem.

    This may be a benefit you could negotiate. It would be about $120/year in my area for this premium coverage.

    Be safe. I had to buy my own GPS, and can’t count how many times I had to purposefully overdraft my account to buy gas to get me to a meeting, or get me through until payday.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Great suggestion. My husband did 500-700 miles per week. He had Triple A and he carried a small air compressor in his car. He used the AAA in times when he had no other source of help. (They keep track of how many times you call them. But it sounds like this would not be a concern for you, OP, because you stay on top of what is going on with your car.) The compressor (surprisingly small) plugged into the car, and got it’s juice from the car battery. This would help him to limp to a service station with a bad tire. He also carried a can of Fix-a-Flat.

      I am not a mechanically inclined person. I carry the same stuff with me. My thought is that if someone stops to help, I have something for them to work with. Worst case scenario, if I am left by the side of the road long enough, I will eventually figure out how this stuff works.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Whoops, meant to add that my husband would be paid for the down time. The thinking behind it was that he would not be stranded on this road if it were not for his job. Breakdowns happen, it’s part of doing business.

    2. Sarah Fowler*

      AAA was going to be my suggestion too. Their premium plan in my area is $85/year; that includes roadside assistance and towing up to 200 miles (plus hotel and other discounts, which could also be useful for the business if you’re doing overnights).

      I would definitely ask the company to pay for it, since you’re using your personal vehicle so much for business. If they refuse, though, personally I would spring for it anyway so you don’t get stranded again!

      1. Alma*

        Yes, it would be a non-reimbursed business expense (check with your tax advisor) – and there is a small battery charger similar in style to the small air compressor. Recommend that, too. (And keeping nutrition bars and water in the car. And your cell phone charged up.)

    3. Ann O'Nemity*

      Also check your credit cards! Some come up with roadside assistance. If that’s not an option, I second the suggestion of AAA. In an average year, I save more in discounts than the cost of the annual subscription.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        And your auto insurance! It may not be included, but I think I pay $15 or $20 a year to cover both cars, and the coverage is really good.

    4. If they'd used AAA the movie would have been much shorter*

      Sorry if I’m piling on, but: AAA has been so totally worth it. I have everyone in family covered.

      Regarding OP3: is it common for companies who rely on lots of employee driving to not provide any kind of support or assistance? It seems like at the very least they could comp the cost of a AAA membership. Or are we talking about sales jobs that hand out $500K bonuses every year? Or is it common for companies to adopt the attitude “we expect you to eat all the travel expenses, if you don’t like it, find another job”?

      This kind of thing has come up before – I think it was someone who worked for the census, and they had to go out alone after dark to scary-ass places? – and it shocks me to hear about employers being so callous.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I thought about doing AAA, but I never go anywhere. :P My auto repair place has an arrangement with a local towing company–you call the towing company and they will take you to the shop. The auto repair company pays the towing fee (it’s around $65–can you tell I’ve had to use it? :P) and then they just tack it onto your bill. If this happens when they are open, they’ll give you a ride home. So I’m covered within the city, anyway. I imagine I’d be taken off the clock if it happened while running a work errand, though.

    5. AdAgencyChick*

      Now THAT would have me writing in to ask “Is this legal?” The part where you’re expected not to clock in hours for being stranded, that is, if travel to offsite areas is part of the job.

      I think negotiating for a covered AAA membership is a great idea for the OP.

    6. Ask a Manager* Post author

      One other thing that people often don’t know: If you have USAA for banking stuff (and they are the best!), they also have their own roadside assistance service that’s automatically part of membership.

      1. Alma*

        I actually switched FROM USAA to AAA. USAA would only tow to the nearest place that could fix the problem. They are so good with service, but not roadside service.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Interesting! The one time I’ve used USAA’s roadside assistance, they towed me to the exact place I requested, which definitely wasn’t the closest. I wonder if their policy has changed since then.

    7. Sarah in Boston*

      I’d like to give a shout out to Better World Club as a AAA alternative. I’ve linked to their comparison against AAA in my name. They’re a eco-friendly auto/bicycle(!) service club. AAA has been known to lobby against bike lanes and MPG requirements and that really bugged me. To date, my experience has been wonderful with BWC and you still get a lot of the same discounts. That said, they have no brick and mortar stores if you take a lot of passport photos.

  12. Apollo Warbucks*

    #3 I’m guessing your in the US so I’m not sure if it’s the same as in the UK but, the milage rate companies use to reimburse people for using their own car is made up of two elements one for fuel and the other for wear and tear on your car.

    So most likely your employer has been habitually paying you more than the cost of the journeys you’ve been making. Everyone I know that drives their car for work profits from it in the long run.

    That siad it’s sucks that no one in the office came out and gave you a ride or offered any assistance.

    1. UKAnon*

      It would have been the decent thing to do, certainly, depending on how far away OP was. Although it’s not clear if the OP was driving on company time when it happened – but I’ve been racking my brains and all I can come up with is that if the OP was driving as part of their job when it happened (i.e. not commuting to or from the office) then just possibly the employer would be liable in some way if they were attacked/suffered hypothermia/had some other disaster. (In a H&S/negligence in the workplace kind of way) That’s tenuous, though, I just can’t think of any other “legal” angle.

      1. Graciosa*

        Why are we trying so hard to find a “legal” angle? Not everything that happens is the fault of someone else who has to made to pay.

        Stuff happens. Cars break down. It could just as easily have happened when the OP was not driving for work – although I suspect that if it did, there would be someone to argue that the employer should pay on the grounds that all the other use of the car on the job contributed in some way.

        I do agree with you and Apollo Warbucks that some help from someone in the office would have been the decent thing to do. My first boss at my current employer sent a co-worker out to assist me when I was in a car accident on my way to work. I think that at least *acting* as if you care about your employees is definitely the better management practice – but people don’t always behave decently and that’s nothing to be fixed with legislation.

        1. Persephone Mulberry*

          I think “we” (the commentariat) are trying to find the legal angle because they OP specifically asked, “is my company liable for X, Y or Z.”

          1. UKAnon*

            That’s what I was thinking! “But otherwise, I can’t think of a law that would cover this. (Can anyone else?)” Just trying to oblige =)

      2. Not So NewReader*

        The one thing I saw with my husband is that he would be ordered out of an area or not allowed to go into an area. It looked to me, if he disobeyed that order then what happened next would be on him, not the company.

        Ex. He went into an area with a very high crime rate (gang activity, shootings, etc.) . He did a thorough job, which meant that as he was finishing up it was almost dusk. His boss called him and ORDERED him to leave the area NOW. This was not characteristic of the boss to speak this way. My husband was one who always heard his own drummer, so he stayed and finished his tasks. I explained to him that this was actually disobeying the boss’ instructions and could work against him if something happened to him.

        But this example is one of the few times I saw any legal repercussions with anything involving his travel for work.

    2. Windchime*

      I once had a pizza delivery girl lock her keys in her van as she was delivering my pizza. I invited her in to call the office (which is only a couple of miles away). They refused to send anyone to get her. My neighbors and I tried to open the car with a coat hanger but were unsuccessful. She called again; work again refused to send someone to come and get her so I drove her back to the pizza store myself. Then came home and ate my cold pizza.

      It was like 2 miles away, but they just plain refused to send someone for her. I thought that was really rude and she felt really embarrassed for having to get a ride from a customer.

      1. Student*

        You can call the cops (non-emergency) for that. They can open the car door with a jimmy. They’ll ask for proof of ownership after opening it, like license & insurance cards, to verify they’ve broken into YOUR car instead of some poor stranger’s car.

  13. TR*

    #2 If it makes you feel any better, I have an uncommon last name that is one letter off from a common name. I was hired under the wrong name at my last job!

    1. Mander*

      I have a similar problem sometimes (though never in my official documents!). My last name sort of sounds like Winchester so I get called that a lot. Whenever I am waiting for my name to be called I’m on the alert for anything that starts with a W.

      1. Kelly L.*

        I have a sister whose name alliterates with mine, and when we were kids, we looked a lot alike and would get mistaken for each other a lot. I basically trained myself to answer to her name too, because I had to respond and explain I was the other one, or else people would think I was rude–or more accurately, that she was rude. :D I still turn around when someone calls it out.

    2. Lizzie*

      My boss at my last job set up every. single. thing. for me using the wrong spelling of my last name. (He wrote it the way it sounds, but my name is a fairly common actual word – plus I had done all of my hiring paperwork at that point, so he had dozens of pages on which I had written it, government-issued ID copies, the works. There was really no excuse.) And he actually had the audacity to get annoyed when I asked him to change it all (my email address, my intranet login, all of the consumable materials for my class, etc.) to the correct spelling!

  14. Buu*

    #2 Sounds like they don’t have any kind of process for introducing new people? At my job your manager is supposed to walk you around the office and introduce you to everyone ( or at least people you may need to work with).

    #4 Might be a long shot but was there a particular Catholic church your school was linked to? Perhaps they might have some kind of records too?

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      There’s a very good chance #2 was introduced and people didn’t pay close attention. It happens. Which, of course, doesn’t make it right. As someone with a surname that should be simple enough to pronounce but gives many people trouble, I’ve learned that much of the time people might listen but they don’t process. Alison’s advice here is excellent, especially keeping it light and matter-of-fact.

      And in general, if you ever encounter someone with a name you don’t know how to pronounce, a quick and quiet, “How do I pronounce your name?” is never a bad question to ask, especially if you take the time to repeat the answer. (With me, you can repeat it as many times as you need to until you get it right.) I mean, maybe it’s awkward if you’ve known someone for years, but I’m always touched when someone asks.

      1. Not Here or There*

        When someone mispronounces a name, even if they were introduced properly once before, it doesn’t necessarily mean they weren’t paying attention. If you only hear something once, it doesn’t necessarily sink in esp if what you hear is unfamiliar, difficult to pronounce, or very similar to something pronounced slightly differently. Or, if they were introduced and the person introducing did so quickly or without speaking clearly. Or if they were properly introduced once and then went back to their office where colleagues, whenever referencing the OP, continually mispronounced that person’s name, the person would probably find it difficult to break out of that habit.

        Understanding language is not a perfect science for our brain. Our brain does a lot of guessing, esp when it hears something unfamiliar. It tends to try and match it up with something that sounds more familiar. That’s why when people pronounce their name, and someone unfamiliar with it repeats what they heard, it often doesn’t match at all. My husband, due to the region he grew up in, can’t hear or pronounce the difference between pin and pen or gin and Jen. So if he’s introduced to a Jenny, he’s going to call her Ginny.

        1. The IT Manager*

          That’s because pin and pen and Jen and gin are prounced the same. Bag and beg on the other hand not the same despite what people from Minnesota might think.


          1. Not Here or There*

            Nope, sorry.. they are pronounced differently. There’s a big difference if I’m poking you with a pin vs. a pen. And I would be pretty upset if my husband was planning on bring Jen to a party rather than gin.

          2. Oryx*

            They are pronounced the same in certain regions, yes, but it’s not universal. For me, Jen and Pen rhyme and Gin and Pin do but they don’t all rhyme with each other.

    2. Chinook*

      “#4 Might be a long shot but was there a particular Catholic church your school was linked to? Perhaps they might have some kind of records too?”

      That is not a long shot – I can guarantee that a Catholic school would be assoicated with a local parish. Even here, where the Catholic schools are government “owned and operated,” they are considered part of the local parish community and are “serviced” by the local priest and fall under the local diocese. The Catholic Church is very organized when it comes to this type of thing and nothing can be called “Roman Catholic” in an area without it being recognized by the local bishop (and every part of the world has been divided up geographically and has a bishop who is in charge of the Catholic community in that area even if he is not allowed to live there (China is a prime example)).

      1. Labratnomore*

        I brought this up above, but the Catholic Church keeps people records at their church of babtism so it may be kept there. If you were not Catholic but went to a Catholic school I assume the records would be kept in that diocese or parish.

        1. Chinook*

          I would think, though, that education records are different from sacramental records because the former are answerable (presuambly) to the local education ministry/department whereas the latter is only important to the religious organization (unless you are in a place that use baptismal records as birth records). Then again, I come from a place that has publicly funded Catholic schools (thank you Quebec Act – other religions can also have publicly funded schools if they have the numebrs to support it)

          But, this does explain why I had to figure out where my baptismal records were located when I got married.

      2. doreen*

        It’s not a guarantee that a Catholic school will be associated with a parish. Most of the high schools in NYC are not associated with a parish (I only know of one) . Some may still be run by the diocese/archdiocese, but most are run by either religious orders or non-profit organizations The chaplains are employees of the school, not a priest assigned to the local parish. They’re absolutely under the jurisdiction of the bishop but that’s very different from being associated with a parish. In this area, at least , it’s the diocese that holds records of closed schools

      3. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

        Neither of the Catholic schools I attended in the 1960s were affiliated with a parish.

        While there was some (arch)diocesan control, the school, and the religious orders that ran them controlled the school and the records.

        My elementary school records – from a closed school – are actually kept in the order’s archives in another state. It was run by an order of religious brothers, that got out of the grammar school business in the 1970s but still operate a string of high schools.

        So the location of one’s records may vary.

    3. OP2*

      Hi all! OP2 here.

      The problem is the floor is *so* big, it’s unrealistic to introduce me. (I support 15 people, and there are about 200 of us, just in my group / floor alone, and my team works/interacts with all of them, between the 15!)

      Often, people will know me, just because they recognize me from emails chains I’ve been on, or have walked by my desk (I sit in a very easy-to-spot area) and have seen my name on the wall. My name sounds / looks relatively similar to another name with a different pronunciation, which is a lot of the problem (kind of like Alyssa/Elyssa).

      As much as I don’t like the idea, I guess I’m going to have to start correcting them. Thanks for all of your suggestions, everyone.

  15. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*


    As a leader, I have way way more things in my day that I should or even must do than I can physically accomplish. It took me a long time to accept my mortal limitations. I kept pushing harder and harder and always being disappointed in myself. Once I accepted my limitations, it became an issue of managing myself for optimal results.

    I don’t look at it as managing my time. I look at it as managing myself, because, personality wise, I’m the enthusiastic kid at carnival who wants to ride every ride and no matter how many times I go to carnival and get physically ill from trying to ride every ride… I still want to ride every ride, every day.

    An unfocused leader is a great way to kill a business.

    So, sure, you should be doing all that reading. And maybe you’ll pick up some tips here to do that reading faster, BUT, the bigger question is, if there is way more to do than you can physically do, maybe the right answer is that you need to be happy with catching x% of what is published or spending Y time per day reading, period.

    Optimal priorities rarely include the word “all”.

    and P.S. AAM is on my list of Things I Do In The Day that help my business, because Alison and the folks here help me grow, which helps my business. I have a set amount of time and a certain time in my day that I do it. I don’t try to read “all” things that can help me be a better manager. I picked the most valuable place and focus on that.

        1. ACE*

          Yes, in some ways, this is the heart of the question. And it’s definitely an ongoing (lifelong?) muscle building exercise! Thanks for sharing your experience.

    1. fposte*

      Seconding this really hard. OP, I’m in an adjacent field, and there’s no way I would have the time to even look at all the articles, let alone read them, and still get my job done. The other problem is that a ton of stuff on Google alerts will be wire service articles that turn up multiple places and press releases that got picked up.

      I keep meaning to check if there are ways to configure Google alerts or something else to report only stuff that gets a splash–that gets reblogged to a certain level. But mostly I rely on skimming industry bloggers and journal TOCs, and I still waste more time than I want on either noise of stuff that’s interesting but doesn’t repay the time.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Oh, this is an absolute gold nugget of advice, OP. Please take this to heart.

      This will sound lame, considering the magnitude of the problem. But my suggestion is to start trusting that you will always have the right information at the right time. I test drove this idea and it was very hard for me. But after a bit, I realized more often than not I have the right information Just In Time. Call it luck, call it diligence, call it karma, I have no idea what it is.

      Hold yourself open to the inputs of others. Be a willing listener and be a happy recipient of news. “Oh thank you so much for taking the time to tell me!” This attitude will help to fill in whatever gaps you may have, also. Likewise remember the people who help you stay on top of your game, and take a turn throwing tidbits their way to help lighten their load.

  16. Rayner*

    OP#4 Maybe it’s just because I’m a Brit and don’t get some things on here but …. Why would your bosses help you? Isn’t it your responsibility to make sure you have insurance and membership to something like The AA, who will come and repair your car at the roadside/tow you home? It is your personal vehicle, not a specific company one. Your bosses should be paying you to use your car with the extra wear and tear+mileage which should cover those costs. That, plus a winter survival car pack with blankets, etc, which I’m led to believe should be standard for people who live with bad winters on the regular?

    It sucks that they wouldn’t pay for a hotel or anything but I honestly wouldn’t expect them to.

    1. Allison*

      It’s AAA. AA is Alcoholics Anonymous, and while I’m sure people in those support groups are nice, I probably wouldn’t rely on them to come tow my car.

      And yeah, I don’t understand why anyone wouldn’t shell out for AAA, or an insurance plan that covers roadside assistance.

      That said, while the employer might not be legally obligated to help out, I have to believe that a decent boss would want to help out somehow, since OP #4 was stranded while on a work-related trip.

      1. Rayner*

        AA is the UK version of AAA.

        But that’s my point – your last part is that while the bosses aren’t exactly being 100% decent, they’re not obligated to, and further to the point, I wouldn’t expect them to really do anything more. It would nice, but not required.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        The problem with AAA is that they only allow you so many calls per year. If you are not a techie type person, or if you have several vehicles, you can rack up that number easily. A friend got his AAA canceled that way.
        I don’t think OP will have too much difficulty with that, though, because OP stays current on what is going on with his vehicle.

      3. Merry and Bright*

        Just to confuse, in the UK we have AA (Automobile Association) and AA (Alcoholics Anonymous)!

        1. De Minimis*

          It is not that expensive to add roadside coverage to your auto insurance policy, if my experience is typical.

        2. The IT Manager*

          AAA (always pronounced Triple A) once stood for American Automobile Association, but it seems to have been rebranded AAA with no menaing still attached to to those letters. It’s an acronym no longer.

            1. De Minimis*

              That whole story about AARP’s attempts at rebranding to try and attract Generation X is fascinating to me.

              1. Elizabeth West*

                They need to leave me alone. I’m not ready for them yet.

                Yesterday, I got a funeral home package in the mail! I haven’t turned fifty yet and I’m really healthy–go away!

              1. The IT Manager*

                I did not know that! It is still an acronym in my head, but I always eat at Popeye’s anyway because I’m from Louisiana and Popeye’s is my kind of friend chicken.

                Also AARP accepts young people as members? Did not know that! My folks started etting the magazine once they got near retirement age about 10 years back.

                1. De Minimis*

                  I think it’s that the older members of Generation X are now in their 50s. I remember when my dad turned 50 he immediately started getting a bunch of AARP stuff in the mail.

                  Cynical me, I wonder if it’s also because they know so few of us will actually get to retire, so they figure they better stop referring to retirement at all….

          1. Al Lo*

            And in Alberta, it’s AMA — Alberta Motor Association — which is the division of CAA — Canadian Automobile Association — which is the Canadian branch of AAA. I don’t know if other provinces use their specific acronym, but around here, while most people know what you’re talking about if you mention AAA, it’s not actually the commonly used name.

            (Unlike when I lived in California and the regional division was never used in conversation.)

            1. Chinook*

              My esperience is that there is only AMA in Alberta and everywhere else it is CAA. I think it has somethign to do with Albertans starting it up on their own and then getting swallowed up as CAA moved west. that and we like to to be different. :)

          2. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

            Just as IBM, CBS, and many other companies have done – they became better known by their acronym than their full name, and they rebranded to fit that.

            Proud to say I’ve been driving for 47 years, and have been a AAA member all those years. And even though I still “go with” the GPS on a long trip – I also keep paper maps.

    2. LawBee*

      I agree – if OP3 is getting a mileage reimbursement from his company, that’s intended to cover wear and tear. We have firm insurance for when I travel for work, but it’s not intended to tow my car if I have a breakdown, or if I rear-end someone. It’s in case someone rear-ends ME, and to cover me when I rent cars, so I don’t have to get the expensive Hertz insurance. But any breakdowns on my car and related expenses are on my dime, even if I’m stranded in the middle of nowhere.

      If OP3 is racking up that many miles on his car for work, he needs to get AAA or the insurance option, or negotiate for a company car/rental option/zip car. And if he’s not being reimbursed for mileage, then he should be accounting for that on his taxes, which will help him out a lot.

  17. Blue Anne*

    #5: I’d recommend Cutbot. It’s designed for exactly this kind of thing, and it’s just taking off, so the developers are always listening to feedback and tweaking it ridiculously fast. Check it out. :)

  18. Pickles*

    Catholic diocese might be able to provide some records….but it’s stupid to even need to ask.

  19. V*

    OP #3 – that’s standard for the use of your personal car at every company I know of. The mileage reimbursement you get (generally 55 cents a mile in the US) includes average car maintenance and repair costs; you’re expected to handle your own roadside assistance if you want it (and it doesn’t make sense for your employer to buy something most employees already have).

    1. The IT Manager*

      Your car broke down so you’re responsible for taking care of it. It sounds like your very responsible about your car and work, but since you provide the car the business doesn’t owe you anything. It might have been nice to come get you or something, but that’s all.

      In writing this it did occur to me that I am a single woman, living far from family, and didn’t have local friends I feel I could impose on for help in the city I live. Last time my car broke down, I called my roadside assistance and got a ride to my house in the tow truck because the place they towed my car was a mile from my house. Next day I rented a car.

      Your normal response might have been to rely on others ie call friends and family except that you were far away and this was during the workday. Nothing wrong with this being your plan, but you need to develop a new one for situations when you can’t call in friends and family because this wasn’t a company car. This was your car so its your responsibility to deal with it. I highly recommend roadside assistance.

      1. original poster*

        Yes I did use AAA to get towed. While the business “doesn’t owe me anything” as you put it, if they had helped out I would not have been stranded as long and my day would have been more productive for the business. You sound like the type of person I would actually help out if you were stranded on the side of the road and in need of assistance. But it doesn’t sound as if you would do the same for me – because you don’t “owe me anything.” I feel that it is a common courtesy and a form of teamwork to assist your co-workers. It’s good for the business. It’s also a good way to show that you are human.

    2. Katie the Fed*

      Yep, I came to suggest roadside assistance. I’m probably spoiled since I get it free with my USAA insurance, but I don’t think it’s very much otherwise. And probably very worth it if you’re driving alone often.

        1. Katie the Fed*

          I do. And I feel sad when I have to deal with customer service at any other company :(

          My husband really doesn’t appreciate yet how valuable that USAA membership he got by marrying me is :)

          1. the gold digger*


            My husband was actually eligible for USAA before we married (although I don’t think his dad’s three years as a drafted naval lieutenant should have qualified him, but that is mostly because his dad is not my favorite, especially after he had the nerve to ask my husband what rank my dad had retired at and then sneered about it), but had only his car insurance with them. I told him I would not marry him until he moved all his financial services to USAA. He had a local bank because he thought he should be able to take a paper check there in person.

            “And what if I need a big check for a down payment on a house or to buy a car?” he asked.

            I told him USAA will wire the money.

            1. De Minimis*

              You generally have to wire money to do a down payment for a house anyway, I don’t think very many lenders will accept checks for that anymore.

            2. peanut butter kisses*

              Hmm – I have USAA and didn’t know all about the services y’all have mentioned. I think I need to brush up on my coverage and perks. Thanks to everyone for the information!

          2. Ask a Manager* Post author

            I posted about USAA upthread too! And yes, I told my husband that the most valuable thing he was getting by marrying me was eligibility for USAA. He still doesn’t seem to realize it though.

            There need to be materials for people like us to give our spouses.

        2. Persephone Mulberry*

          I would kill to get into USAA. Both my dad and my husband’s dad served during Vietnam (I think my father-in-law was decorated), but as far as I’ve been able to determine, this isn’t enough to qualify either of us.

          1. Judy*

            I just looked online. If either of them has had USAA, then you can join. You can join if you’re in the group (active or retired or honorably discharged) or if your spouse or parent has or has had USAA. (Somewhat like a credit union, you can join and then related people to you can join. My parents are teachers, and I’m a member of the teachers credit union here. My husband was able to join because I was a member, and later his parents were able to join because he was a member, although USAA seems to be only recognizing parents and spouses.)

            1. Judy*

              Adding, if either of them is still alive, could you ask them to look into using USAA? Then you’d be able to.

          2. The Cosmic Avenger*

            I’ve been told that everything except for insurance is open to non-members. You can open regular bank and credit accounts there, and they’re great for that, too.

    3. Alma*

      My employer did not pay the IRS reimbursable expense mileage rate. So the difference was part of “unreimbursed employment expense.”

    4. original poster*

      55 cents a mile doesn’t cover all of that when gas is over $4 where you live. That’s only good for people who live in low cost states. Anyhow, its not the money (or I would live in a low cost state). I had plenty of money and took care of this myself. However it definitely would have made sense for my employer to offer assistance – coordination of tow, possible pickup- it would have been faster, safer and resulted in a more productive workday. It’s interssting how the answers here are split – some people would like to be helpful, the others totally would not. I know who I would want to work for and go the extra mile for (pnn intended!).

  20. Rebecca*

    #4 Perhaps your hometown library keeps copies of the newspapers on either microfilm or digital scans? Our paper always has a section after graduation listing who graduated, who got awards, etc. If there are no official records, perhaps this would satisfy the requirement?

  21. AnotherAnon*

    #5 – I’d actually take a cue from academia here.

    In many academic research groups, coverage of all the major sources in that group’s research area are divided among all/most of the members of that group, such that each individual is responsible for reviewing anywhere from 2-6 sources. These include coverage of the most “high-profile” journals that are well-known throughout the greater scientific community (Nature, Science, Cell, etc.) as well as those that are more specific to that group’s research. The entire research group usually gathers 2-4 times a month for a “lab meeting,” in which one of the orders of business is for each person to give an update on the most salient articles that were recently published from their assigned journals. This could be in the form of a powerpoint summarizing key points, key figures, etc. These summaries could later be stored on a common server, or even entered into bibliographic software like RefWorks or Endnote. In short, this is generally an efficient way to make sure the entire research group stays up-to-date on the field, and to involve everyone in the group in actively engaging with the literature. (In our case, sometimes reading interesting papers in tangential research areas would give us ideas about how to do things differently in our own work.)

    1. ACE*

      The group structure seems to be a solid approach. Thanks for the detailed window into the mechanism of an academic team. I’m thinking about how to translate the process you describe into an extremely resource constrained environment; although this feels like a priority topic (especially as we’re talking about it here!), part of why I’m highlighting the question is because there are tough choices about time that have to be made every day by everyone on the team. Thanks for helping to set the vision.

  22. esra*

    #1: My friend and passed her on the way to catch a movie last December. Honestly… I have mixed feelings. I said to my friend at the time that I hope she finds some work, but that I didn’t think the gimmick was really well thought out. Like, she wanted something in our industry, but the sign was poorly designed. She got the press though, and it worked, so I’m happy for her, but hope other new grads will work more on their portfolios and less on gimmicks.

    1. Ezri*

      “Usually, McConellogue explained, his company takes its “sweet, sweet time” making hiring decisions, but this was enough to convince them to bring Yan on board as quickly as possible, especially since her old-school job hunt had brought her a lot of attention.
      “I knew right away we need to get moving on this. I need to go to HR and get this offer going right away,” he said.”

      What’s weird to me is that the article says she didn’t even go through the company’s typical hiring process, which they admit is usually lengthy. So these people *knew* she’d be a good employee because she was willing to stand outside in winter all day and make a PowerPoint about the experience? It seems like her publicity did more work than her qualifications (I’m not saying she wasn’t qualified), and I’d be worried about that level of ‘gumption’ becoming an on-the-job requirement for her.

      1. LBK*

        I would love to hear a follow up from her manager in a year to see how she’s turned out as an employee. And a follow up from her to see how much she likes the job.

      2. Wren*

        I wonder if they were eager to snap her up because they knew they’d get press for it, less because of anything specific about her (not saying that she couldn’t be well qualified, either.)

      1. JMegan*

        Me too! I wish they hadn’t put the name of the school in the headline. I can see how it would be relevant for the story itself, but putting in in the headline just gives it a lot more emphasis than it needs. “Oh, is THAT what U of T grads need to do in order to get a job? Maybe I’ll go to York, in that case!”

  23. Felicia*

    I live in Toronto, and work in marketing, and actually saw #1. I took a candy cane before I realized what she was doing, and then i felt bad at her, but understood the impulse. The types of jobs she’d have been applying for would have at least 300+ applicants, some of which are people with 5-7 years experience applying for entry level jobs. It took me two years to get my job. I mean she probably didn’t know a lot of this great and successful advice from this blog, but in this industry, in this market, even if you’re a great candidate, when you’re competing against a few hundred others for a job, even the great candidates are getting rejected for years. They can only pick one of the 300 after all! And being in theh top 10 or something out of 300 usually means you’re great, but that’s not good enough.

    Not that that’s something i’d ever do, but i get the feeling. And from what i heard that’s a company known for taking advantage of young workers and working them way harder than is sustainable.

    1. Michele*

      It isn’t just marketing. I work in a STEM field, and get a couple hundred resumes for entry-level positions.

    2. plain_jane*

      I saw #1 as well. Which to me means that she at least selected a good corner. :) I felt like she was in one of those catch-22s, where every job posted is looking for you to already have a couple of years of experience.

      When I was that age I got a job because my dad knew someone who knew someone who knew someone, there wasn’t a posting anywhere. My dad is also the type of person who would have suggested I do something like that if I had graduated in the spring and was still looking in the fall.

      1. Felicia*

        I feel like she had more than one corner. When I say her, it was at Bay & Bloor, and I was going to the movies :) It’s always a busy corner.

        I was in that catch-22 as well. Anyone who’s just graduated from anything in the past 6 years or so from anything has been in that catch 22. I got my current job because my friend got me a temp job at her company in a niche area, my job is in that same niche area, and very few people have the specific experience. And then if you’re looking in the 4th largest city in North America, which she was, as was I, it may be even worse because it’s the kind of place people from all over move to.

    3. LBK*

      That’s the case for pretty much every position in every industry. Ultimately, though, when they have 300 applicants and probably 100 out of those that could feasibly do the job, and then probably 20 of those that would be really good at the job, why would you bother with seeing who can put on the flashiest show?

      When I have 20 very strong resumes with great work history and accomplishments, no amount of candy is going to convince me you’re a more qualified candidate unless you were already one of my top 20, in which case you don’t need to ply me with treats.

    4. Nobody*

      The reason people try gimmicks like this and others that have been described here (e.g., video resumes, sending a fruit basket after the interview, etc.) is that they are so demoralized by job hunting. People want to believe that there is some secret cheat code or “hack” that will allow them to bypass the competition without going through the pain of the usual process.

      I can certainly sympathize because I know how hard it is to find a job, but I think employers should be wary of candidates who think they can use gimmicks as a shortcut to a job, and candidates should be equally wary of employers that are more interested in gimmicks than substance.

  24. MD*

    Having an unusual name myself and dealing with mispronunciations all my life, I took the tactic of “americanizing” it by subtly altering the pronunciation to make it easier on others. I have found that people are much more at ease around me when there is a version of my name than can easily say. Plus it alleviates the annoyance/awkwardness of me correcting them – especially with my superiors.

    1. Graciosa*

      I understand why you did it, and appreciate the graciousness of the effort – but there is a part of me that feels that you shouldn’t have to alter your name – your name! – in order to save others from making the effort to learn to pronounce it correctly.

      This is a basic courtesy, and those who are named Haurvatat or Ahuramazda are just as deserving of that courtesy as people named Jane or Ed.

      1. Stephanie*

        Yeah, I agree with that sentiment (I definitely make the effort). However, sometimes the sounds or combination of letters don’t exist in English, so I could understand Americanizing it for that purpose.

        1. Katie the Fed*

          …as I have painful memories of my Arabic teacher yelling at me for not being able to pronounce some letters

        2. Jillociraptor*

          Yes. I have a friend from college whose name contains phonemes that don’t exist in English, and she just hated hearing her name said wrong all the time, so she picked a nickname that’s somewhat similar (and is a common name in English) and uses that exclusively.

      2. KerryOwl*

        But sometimes, languages just don’t have the same sound combinations that others do. I don’t think it’s terrible or, like, un-true to oneself to adapt to the culture to which you’ve moved. If I moved to, say, India, and they couldn’t pronounce my name correctly, I don’t think I’d mind adopting a name that’s similar to mine, but easier to pronounce in their language.

        (There are probably more accurate linguistic terms for what I’m trying to say, forgive my linguistic-related ignorance.)

        1. MD*

          This is part of the reason I did what I did actually. Being us-born, English is my native language, but my name uses linguistics from a language I barely can speak. So sometimes I have a hard time pronouncing my OWN name (as compared to how my parents/aunts/uncles/grandparents say it

      3. Aunt Vixen*

        Right?! A number of years ago I was calling to set up some insurance or something after I’d recently moved, and after a long conversation with a number of options and etc. I asked the coordinator for his name so I could put it in my notes about the call. He says “joober”–like goober, but with a J–and I paused and asked him to spell it. J-U-B-E-R. I wrote it down, looked at it, blinked, and said “oh – Juber?” (Which, with apologies to those for whom this is obvious, is Hubert, but in Spanish, so more like “hoobear.”) Kid sounded delighted when he said “yes, that’s right.” And I was so sad for him that he found it easier to say his name was Dzhoober than to assume a gringa could handle a name that had non-English consonants in it.

        1. VintageLydia USA*

          Reminds me of a girl I knew in grade school. Her last name was Herbert, but her family was French, so it was pronounced “A-Bear.”

    2. Katie the Fed*

      I have a friend whose family immigrated from Poland in the 80s – their last name had zero vowels whatsoever. Americans just couldn’t pronounce it or figure out what to do with it. So they ended up picking an entirely new last name.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        We had a guy at Exjob who had a Polish last name—spelled nothing like it sounded. I had to practice to say it properly. I still remember how to say it but not how to spell it. You wouldn’t believe the amount of people who can’t pronounce my surname–which is long but made up of three common words.

        It just takes a little practice. I think if people mispronounce it you can cheerfully correct them until they get it right. Though some never will.

  25. Michele*

    #2, I work in a field that draws people from all over the world. I also work for a multinational corporation. Being unable to correctly pronounce someone’s name on the first try is common for us. As long as you are good natured and matter of fact about it, no one is going to be offended if you promptly correct their pronunciation of their names. Sometimes, coworkers have a native language that doesn’t include the same sounds as English, so the name never gets pronounced quite right (either theirs or mine). We just do our best and roll with it.
    #4, I can relate. I went to grad school in New Orleans. Even though my company required my transcripts when I was hired, a couple years later, HR decided that they wanted them all resubmitted, in official form. This was less than a week after Hurricaine Katrina hit. They insisted on waiting until the university reopened and wouldn’t accept the photocopy that I had at home.

  26. Rayner*

    I just figured out why the title bugs me for #3 – the bosses didn’t strand the OP out of town. It’s not like they took her car away without telling her or her company vehicle died a death and they refused to deal with it. The OP’s own car broke down, and she had to deal with it herself. I don’t expect my boss to deal with my car emergencies on the way into or home from work, and it feels to me like this is exactly what happened. Yeah, it’s a long way from home but… you know. Joys of life.

    Or am I just being cruel?

    1. Not So NewReader*

      I think if s/he was not instructed that this is how it works, then, yeah, it is a bit unfair. However, if OP was told at the beginning, “Hey, your car breaks down, then you are on your own. So you better make a plan.”, then that threw the responsibility to OP, quite clearly.

      No, people do not get the subtleties of all the different work situations. Above, I was talking about how my husband clearly defied the boss’ orders. Did he think he was defying the boss’ orders? No, he did not. That whole logic totally escaped him. He thought he was being a good egg and helping his customer. That is all he saw.

      I do think OP should have been paid for the time by the side of the road.

      1. Rayner*

        I definitely agree that time on the road should be paid for to and from jobs outside of the regular ‘office’. Like, they shouldn’t pay for the 20 minute commute to Downtown Office Center, but if you’re driving 500 miles a week because of your job, it should be paid.

        I don’t get the reference at all in your second paragraph – can you explain why that’s connected to my comment? What does defying the bosses orders have to do with it?

        And yeah, clarification on this kind of issue is very important, and I would expect then that if I did have to pay for my own roadside assistance etc, the portion of my pay for car wear and tear should be higher to compensate for that.

        1. MK*

          I think people make the mistake of considering some things universal truths, when they are very much not. Since the OP apparently travels often for work, it should have been part of her orientation to clarify, as in “we cover mileage with X amount of money per mile. this covers any and all car-related expenses you might incur on the job”.

        2. Apollo Warbucks*

          In the UK the equivalent of the IRS set the maximum allowable rate that can be reimbursed for mileage so its not straight forward to increase the payment with out increasing the accounts departments work and the firms tax bill.

          Not to mention the that for road side assistance to be an allowable business expense, it has to be a solely for business purposes so you’d have to apportion the personal and private use and only claim back the per-portion that it was being used for business purposes.

          1. JM in England*

            A friend of mine’s sister-in-law works as a carer for the elderly and she doesn’t get paid for the travel time between clients. Thus her earnings fall below the minimum wage in real terms……….

    2. The IT Manager*

      You might be on to something because my comment/response was harsher until I re-read the letter and saw that LW was asking a legitimate question and not being demanding and put out in her question.

      1. Rayner*

        I think it absolutely is a legit question to ask and definitely one to be clarified for future reference because you know, this is the kind of thing you expect a policy to exist on – whether the answer is ‘get yourself home’ or not.

        If it doesn’t, it really should be made as a rule, otherwise the next departmental meeting is going to be slightly frosty. :P

    3. The Toxic Avenger*

      Rayner – I don’t think you are being cruel. When I read the title, I was prepared to read about an act of utterly mean behavior…instead, I read a situation where it was a bummer for the OP, and the bosses really disappointed her. I had a mental picture of OP stranded in an unfamiliar town, stressed and cold, and the bosses in a warm office, feet up, with cigars saying “Too bad. Hope ya get some help, there.” That’s not very nice, and it would have been decent for them to do *something* like refer her someplace, or help her get help. They should have set expectations up front, too.

      (I am assuming from the comments that OP is female. If I am wrong, please let me know).

      1. LBK*

        Yeah, I was assuming it was going to be like the person that got laid off (maybe fired?) while on a work trip and the company cancelled her return flight. That’s a deliberately crappy thing to do that does actually strand someone. Having a car break down…I don’t think it would even occur to me to call work for help. I’d call them to let them know I was stuck if I was expected somewhere, but AAA would be the one coming to rescue me.

      2. Allison*

        “They should have set expectations up front, too.”

        This. Any job that involves a lot of driving around should have very clear communication about what happens in certain situations. OP probably should have asked, upon starting the job, “btw, what if my car breaks down or I get a flat? would you help me?” The employer, on the other hand, probably should have told OP how the situation would be handled. Would’ve also helped to brief OP and other employees what sort of insurance plans they recommend, what they should have in their car, importance of AAA, maybe even a short lesson on how to change a tire, how/when to check fluid levels – yes yes, all things people should already know, but let’s be honest, not everyone does, so it may be important just to make sure people are prepped for a job that involves lots of driving.

        Off-topic: I’ve been thinking for a while that if a chain of auto shops were to offer courses like this to young drivers. They may lose some business since those people wouldn’t go in for little things like oil changes, BUT they’d make money off the classes and they might inspire brand loyalty. If, say, Pep Boys taught a course DIY car maintenance and I took it, I may be inclined to go to them for the stuff I can’t handle on my own.

        1. LBK*

          Honestly…I don’t think that’s a normal conversation to have. I don’t outline alternative plans for travel with my manager for my regular commute – at most the expectation is “If something happens, text/call/email to let me know.” This came up before when a LW got in trouble for not making it in to work when she got a flat tire and I was baffled by the number of people who thought it was totally reasonable to have a specific plan laid out for all manner of emergencies and contingencies.

          My emergency plan is that my boss expects me to be an adult and handle unexpected circumstances as they arise and to let him know when it will impact my ability to work.

          1. LBK*

            Also, because I assume it will be brought up – I can see there be slightly more planning if you’re talking about work travel instead of just a commute, but really? Going over insurance plans? Lessons on basic car maintenance? That is way, way outside the realm of normalcy for things an employer should be teaching an employee. If anything, I can see that being overly pedantic. Sounds like an AAM letter – “My employer is making me take classes on dealing with basic car problems, I’ve owned a car for 10 years and find this totally unnecessary. How do I get out of it?”

          2. Allison*

            I don’t think it’s unreasonable to outline a contingency plan when someone’s job involves a lot of driving outside of a normal commute. If someone often drives to client sites, if someone’s a delivery person or a cable tech or works for a maid service and a car issue is likely to happen between jobs or on the job, I’m not saying the employer is responsible for holding their hands when something bad happens, but it doesn’t hurt for the employees and employer to be on the same page, even if it’s a simple “make sure you have AAA in case you get a flat, we want you prepared for emergencies.”

          3. katamia*

            Agreed. Even when I used to drive stuff around for work, I never had those conversations with my boss, just “Keep track of your mileage in this booklet and we’ll reimburse you X amount,” basically. At a different job, when I got into a minor car accident on my way to work, I just called my boss and she found someone to sub for me. And overall my bosses have been pretty understanding about the issues that can come up during commutes, but then I live in one of the worst commuting areas in the US so I think they’ve all had those sorts of experiences.

        2. LawBee*

          That’s a lot of proposed employer involvement in the employees personal finances. When I started this job and learned how much travel I was doing, I asked outright – what if I get a flat tire, what if I hit someone. Sometimes the employee has to take it on herself to ask the questions, and treat occasions when something came up that it didn’t occur to her to ask about as learning experiences.

    4. MK*

      I agree with you and all the comments upthread on this point; the fact is that the OP was reimbursed for these expenses, as it is covered in the mileage they claim. However, I have to say it takes a total jerk to respond to someone stranded by the side of the road in the cold with “not my problem”. They should have helped in some way out of ordinary human decency.

      1. The IT Manager*

        zero assistance was offered by the two gentlemen who run the small business and were sitting in the office at the time while I was sitting stranded

        After reading AAM for a while, I do wonder if LW ASKED for help. She says they did not offer, but did they refuse a request or did they just not offer. Did it not occur to them that they should offer because they exected the LW to be handling it?

        There’s room for interpretation here, but I have realized a lot of people are unclear in their communications.

        1. MK*

          Well, not offering wouldn’t have been stelar behavior either. I mean, imagine the conversation:

          OP: I am stranded by the side of the road on my way to client X’s place. It’s freezing here.
          Boss: Ok, we ‘ll call the client not to expect you (or send someone else). See you tomorrow! “hungs up”

        2. Colette*

          That’s true – it’s not clear if the OP asked for help. It’s also not clear what “sitting in the office” covers – they were actually probably working in the office, which may mean they didn’t have the time to go get the OP.

  27. Satanic Mechanic*


    OP, what you are describing is essentially market intelligence/competitive intelligence, as we refer to it in the private sector. Since you are in a leadership position, you may be able to create a position, or assign a current employee, specifically for this task. And, believe me, it is a full-time job in and unto itself. But, the advantage of having someone do this is that they can not only provide you with the “daily news” but can take a step beyond that and provide insight into WHY this information is important and HOW it may impact your organization. If you have people in your office already doing prospect research or development research, then you most likely have people that already have the requisite skills and knowledge to provide this level of insight. In addition, folks with library and information science degrees are generally (depending on their course selections) quite skilled at doing precisely what you are looking for.

    Aside from that, there are many excellent tools out there in the competitive intelligence realm that can do precisely what you are asking. Just google the term and a virtual cornucopia of them will pop up.

    Just a few thoughts. Good luck. And you are right to not underestimate the importance of maintaining organizational knowledge of your “market”, whether you are non-profit or private sector.

    1. Stephanie*

      Yeah, Satanic Mechanic makes a good point. Part of OldJob involved doing literature reviews and searches and it definitely can be a full-time job, depending on how deep of a dive you want.

    2. KarenT*

      Yes, this.
      We have a marketing coordinator assigned to this. She reads all the articles (she gets Google alerts, RSS feeds, plus subscriptions to all our industry publications, and a separate email address where other employees send key articles they find).
      She filters for relevancy and urgency sends a daily digest with headlines and an annotated description.
      Anything urgent–usually huge industry news or articles in the press that mention our company negatively– is sent to the management team immediately.
      She also monitors Twitter for references to our company and sends us what people are saying, good and bad.

      1. Satanic Mechanic*

        Yes, and compiling the information is an excellent first step in the process. I would advise the OP to take it up to the next level where this same person is educated enough on the “market” (or whatever it is called in non-profit land) to perform actual analysis and provide market insights and trend monitoring.

        Compiling the information is great, but even that can be like drinking from a firehose if you don’t take the extra step of turning information into actionable knowledge.

  28. misspiggy*

    Re: OP 5, I am in this field and it’s my role to know everything about everything. So I try to skim the top off all the debates in the field, and only read thoroughly when doing a specific piece of research.

    I use CTRL+F to do keyword searches on web pages, emails, documents etc. So a news summary comes in by email, I do my keyword search down the page, click on the most relevant links, do a keyword search in the document, and decide whether I’m going to read the whole thing or just note down the relevant info that came up in the keyword search. I also do a lot of bookmarking of pieces that look relevant, but I won’t read them unless I need something specific later.

    Discussing the things we have read with colleagues, at conferences and in the office, is vital for getting a sense of what the information means to the field, and where to read next. Someone says, ‘I thought SoandSo’s paper on blah was interesting, and someone else says ‘Yes, but what about Whojamaflip’s contention that…?’ And you go away and Google Whojamaflip, not to read everything they’ve written, but to decide what their basic position is, and how relevant this is for your work.

    For a lot of nonprofit policy work, all you really need to know about this research is what the main conclusions are, their implications for policy, and the data their conclusions were based on. It should be possible to get this from abstracts or executive summaries – so I read a lot of those. It’s only when you are having to write a detailed piece of research or guidance that you need to read the full documents.

    1. ACE*

      Good reminders about how to process lots of info strategically and efficiently. Sometimes just hearing that it’s ok to read the headlines is helpful! :)

  29. Three Thousand*

    I can honestly see the logic of the strategy in #1. A lot of marketing and advertising basically is flash and gimmicks, so why not show you get that in a memorable and attention-grabbing way?

    I don’t see it the same way as trying to get a sales job by being a pushy salesman, because in that case you’re directly annoying the employer and infringing on their time against their will, which isn’t happening here. It’s also not like sending flowers or candy for a random job application, because that shows nothing about your ability to do the job and is just a transparent bribe. I can understand why an employer might appreciate this gal’s strategy without necessarily being a poor employer to work for.

  30. the gold digger*

    Employer wants proof I graduated from high school, and I don’t have it

    I had this nightmare all the time. I never thought it would happen to someone in real life.

    (The next thing you know, employers will be moving our lockers and changing the combinations.)

    1. LBK*

      That’s not as bad as my nightmare, which is that I try to get proof I graduated from high school and it turns out I actually didn’t, so I have to go back to HS at age 25.

      1. Kelly L.*

        I usually have a test in a class I completely forgot I was taking and so didn’t attend all semester. Now I’ve suddenly remembered, on final exam day…

        For an added twist, once I was supposed to teach the class and had forgotten. I’m not a teacher, even.

        1. De Minimis*

          I have that dream where I have to go back to high school for some class I hadn’t taken. Sometimes I have it for college too, but that isn’t as common.

          Similarly, sometimes I dream that I’m back at one of my previous jobs from long ago.

          1. Sadsack*

            I have this same dream pretty frequently. Years after graduating college and many years after high school, it suddenly has come to light that I missed a few credits and need to go back to school. It is traumatizing! One of those dreams where I wake up and feel so relieved the dream is over.

          2. Sadsack*

            Oops, I meant to add that I also am suddenly working at a real crappy job I have many years ago. In the dream, it is always a Saturday and I suddenly realize that I am supposed to be at work. Ugh…

            1. Kelly L.*


              Oh, and one of my favorites, but only in retrospect. This was a work dream I had probably fifteen years ago. I’d been waitressing at this horrible mom ‘n’ pop buffet restaurant. (Seriously, it was horrible. The owners were breaking 50 kinds of laws.) One night I dreamed I was working there and needed to take some drinks out to the table in the sunroom, but random stuff kept getting in my way so I couldn’t get to the sunroom, and the customers were getting irate.

              Well, just like the one below, it took me a minute to really gather my thoughts after waking up, and this is the part that really amuses me in retrospect. I woke up, rolled over, and saw that it was 3am. My first thought was not, “Oh, I was dreaming.” It was, “Dammit, it’s 3am! We’re CLOSED! I’m gonna march right out to that sunroom and tell those customers they need to go home!”

          3. Kelly L.*

            Yes! Just a few weeks ago, I dreamed that a job I quit about 5 years ago had called me in to work. I was frantically rushing around trying to get there, while dreading it the whole time because I disliked that job. After waking up, it took me a few minutes to collect my thoughts and realize, (a) it hadn’t actually happened, and (b) even if they did try to call me in, which they wouldn’t, I wouldn’t have to go, because I quit five years ago. :D

            1. Allison*

              I had a dream where I was back at my old job, but I had already been fired, so I was trying to figure out how to sneak out of there before anyone realized I wasn’t supposed to be there.

          4. AnonAnalyst*

            Ha, I have this one too, about both high school and college, although the high school version seems to be more common. I remember having the high school dream once when I was in college, and I woke up all stressed out because I suddenly had to do all this work to pass the class (for some reason, in this particular instance of the dream, not only did I have to go back for the class but the class was almost finished for the semester, so in order to pass I had to complete some huge project and pass a final within a timeframe of 2-3 weeks). Then, when I woke up, it took several minutes before I had the thought, “wait. I’m actually IN COLLEGE. Of course I completed high school already!” So that was entertaining.

            I now have a master’s degree and STILL have the high school dream. Apparently my brain cannot comprehend the fact that yes, I actually finished high school.

            1. Dynamic Beige*

              I have that one, too. Where I thought I had dropped a class, only to find out I hadn’t and they were going to flunk me because I hadn’t attended or handed in any of the assignments. I also had the high school test dream — once. I was back in the gym, I could see the desks and the foolscap and the clock on the wall counting down to 9am. I was getting sweaty and anxious because I didn’t know what exam I was supposed to be taking, I knew I hadn’t studied for it and then in the dream I just yelled out in frustration “This is stupid! I graduated from high school years ago!” And I never had it again. The what-do-you-mean-I’m-flunking-that-class-I-dropped-it-what-do-you-mean-I-didn’t-and-the-deadline-has-passed-to-drop-it one has taken its place. Fun.

          5. Elizabeth West*

            I sometimes dream I’m back in the restaurant in CA where I worked. I don’t know why. It’s so strange. I only dreamed about Exjob when I was actually there, but I still have weirdo dreams about that damn cafe:

            –I go in for lunch and I have to help make sandwiches (I still remember how to make a lot of them!).
            –I’m working there again and it’s all different and I get confused.
            –Once I dreamed I was working and a spaceship landed in the parking lot and my boss sent me out to take the alien’s order.

            Sometimes, I have the unprepared dreams about whatever performance-based activity I’m in. When I did music and theater in college, I would dream I had to go on and didn’t remember the song or my lines . Now I dream that I’m supposed to skate next and I don’t have my skates on. I can’t wait to see what happens if I ever start having book signings.

            1. I'm a Little Teapot*

              “Once I dreamed I was working and a spaceship landed in the parking lot and my boss sent me out to take the alien’s order.”

              That is the BEST.

          1. Windchime*

            I’ve been out of school for over 30 years and I still have that dream. I also have dreams that I am at one of my first jobs, an apple-packing warehouse. The apples are coming way too fast down the line and we don’t have enough people, so there are apples and falling all over the place and I’m trying to do all the jobs at once.

      2. Katie the Fed*

        Sounds like you’ve got yourself a screenplay!

        I have the one where I’m in college and forgot I was enrolled in a class and the final is next week. I thought that was a ridiculous dream until I was a teaching assistant and this actually happened – I had a kid come up to me the week before the final and say “I just remembered I was enrolled in this class!”


        1. Kelly L.*

          I did mix up two finals when I was in college, and try to go to the wrong room at the wrong time for the wrong class. I was saved because the right class was a few doors down, and my friends in the class waved at me while I was out in the hall–I was so lucky! But I never forgot I was actually enrolled!

        2. The IT Manager*

          Obviously he failed, right? Because there’s no way to get a passing grade with only the grades for whatever is left in that last week.

          Also “just remembered” really strikes me as a face saving lie. He avoided the class for as long as he could for some reason because this is not the kind of thing that one just remembers.

          1. Katie the Fed*

            I told him I couldn’t help him and he should go visit the registrar to look into dropping the class. It was bizarre.

      3. Allison*

        Yup, I’ve had the back-to-school dreams, although for me the big problem usually involves suddenly being in the school musical and not knowing any of the choreography.

        1. LBK*

          Yes! I have that version of the dream – I never have the one where I have to take a test that I haven’t studied for, it’s always that the school musical is opening or I’m at a show choir competition and somehow I’ve missed every rehearsal.

      4. LBK*

        Relatedly: does anyone have the dream that your backpack weigh 500 lbs and you have to army crawl between your classes while being slowly crushed by your inexplicably dense books? I tend to have that one when I’m feeling a lot of pressure at work or elsewhere. My subconscious is really subtle with the metaphors.

        1. Windchime*

          I haven’t had that one, but I sometimes have the dream that I am trying to dial a telephone (yes, I am old) over and over again. I can’t get the number right so I have to hang up and then start over, but for some reason I just can’t punch the numbers in the right combination.

          1. Chinook*

            “I haven’t had that one, but I sometimes have the dream that I am trying to dial a telephone (yes, I am old) over and over again. I can’t get the number right so I have to hang up and then start over, but for some reason I just can’t punch the numbers in the right combination.”

            I have had that dream and, unfortunately, that reality some days. It doesn’t help that compuet number pads are theexact opposte of phone keypads.

            1. De Minimis*

              Oh I have that one too! I have a weird recurring dream where I am driving one car but somehow trying to control another car remotely that is following me, and of course I always end up getting separated from the other car and I know it will end up wrecking or going off the road….

          2. ThursdaysGeek*

            I have that one too! Although, sometimes I do get the number in, and it’s the wrong number. If I finally do get the right number, it’s busy, so I have to hang up and try again and then no-one answers.

            But I had something like that in real life once, when I stayed late at work and set off the alarm that I didn’t know was set. I had a headache, and I was up in the front, where I knew the cameras were, trying to find someone who would turn off the screeching. The phone book didn’t have the first number I wanted, the second number didn’t answer, I finally got someone on the 3rd or 4th try, having to look up each number. They had to find their dad, who gave me the number for the alarm company, and I had to answer some questions to prove I was legit before they would turn off the alarm. I was wondering why the alarm company didn’t call me, since they had cameras. When it was finally turned off, I noticed the large note on the phone with the alarm company’s phone number. Oh.

        2. Cath in Canada*

          No, sorry! But while I was studying for my final exams for my BSc I had a dream that I was supposed to take a high school maths exam and my desk in the exam hall was so messy that I couldn’t actually find the exam paper. I was searching and searching through piles of paper and finally found it, just as the bell rang for the end of the exam.

          And this is why my roommate found me tidying my room at 3 am.

      5. Gwen*

        I have that one too! Usually I have to go back to high school AND somehow still keep working my full time job simultaneously

      6. Chinook*

        “I try to get proof I graduated from high school and it turns out I actually didn’t, so I have to go back to HS at age 25.”

        I have had that one only I was also teaching at that time so I would go from teaching one high school class to sitting in another to make up the one class I missed. I always woke up once I got to the point of having to argue why I didn’t need to go through the graduation ceremony since I already did that at university.

  31. Ella*

    One thing my organization does is each morning staff can optionally receive an email that compiles daily articles and tweets about our organization. The communications staff all rotate through this duty (we are large enough to have a decent number of comms staff). Even though I am not on the front line of my organization, I really enjoy this email – it keeps me updated on emerging issues, etc. Maybe OP5 can assign a staff member to do something like this? It’s awesome for staff to be kept in the loop too!

  32. Sadsack*

    I think it would be interesting to interview people who landed jobs the way the person in post #1 did and learn what was their experience with the employers. I’ve seen similar stories in the news about people putting up billboards. Alison predicted bad experiences working for employers who would go for such ploys, but I have to wonder. Some of them might have actually been good employers who just decided to take a chance on someone who obviously needed a break. I would ever resort to doing something like this (I don’t think!), but I’d be interested in learning how things worked out.

    1. MK*

      Well, I would have to question the good sense of these good employers, if they felt this was the only way to find someone who needed a break. Do they imagine that all the people applying for the job in the regular way are independedly wealthy and job-hunting out of boredom? If one wants to mix firing with social benovelence, I am sure there plenty of candidates who have been unemployed for years, recent grads with mountain of debt, mothers who were out of the workforce for years to raise children and have difficulty getting back into the workforce, recovering addicts or rehabilitated ex-convicts for face prejudice, etc. If you want to give someone a chance by hiring them, why choose the one who tried the gimmick?

      1. Sadsack*

        Ha, yes, I think you are right. Perhaps these employers are, like Alison wrote, impressed with job-seekers’ gumption and marketing ploys. The stories probably would end up being more along the lines of WTF Wednesdays here – which is fun reading.

  33. Allison*

    #1: I’ve seen plenty of articles and opinion pieces on LinkedIn about how employers shouldn’t be looking for things like skill and merit, and should instead look for spunky, passionate people who are willing to learn. Perhaps someone with that mindset hired her? Or an employer saw someone desperate they could exploit. Or it was one of those employers who really appreciates old school approaches like “pounding the pavement” and literally handing out resumes.

    Or maybe it really was a “right place, right time” thing.

    Fact is, she got lucky, and I really hope this doesn’t become a thing.

    1. Kelly L.*

      Ha, and then they do that and then complain about the “skills gap!” I couldn’t help but meld that together with yesterday’s topic.

  34. HR Manager*

    #1 – Not something I would recommend for everyone either. Looking for a marketing/ad job might have helped, since this is a form of creative advertising on his part, and may come off as amusing to someone in that industry. I know many industries who would see this is as desperate, and still amusing, but not necessarily hire-able.

    #2 – I have the most normal (read: boring) first name ever, and yet so many people get my name wrong. They don’t mispronounce; they call me something different entirely- ever since I was a kid. It’s kind of become a joke that I find amusing. So in short – just tell them, actually my name is ___. They will appreciate it, even if they are a bit red-faced at first. This is not something that will bother most, unless you come across as upset about it.

    #3 – Were you traveling for work when you got stranded? While there may not be a legal requirement, I would be very surprised if the company didn’t offer something to get you home safely. Does your company have business travel insurance? Even without an explicit policy, I would take any receipts you have (taxi, etc.) and take them to your manager the next day, discuss the situation, and confirm if they can be expensed. I think a reasonable company would offer in such an instance (my previous companies did). Now since you are using your own car, I assume the company also expects reasonable maintenance on your part to keep the car in good shape. There may be some provisions where if you are not keeping your car in good condition, they would be unwilling to reimburse.

    1. Artemesia*

      My last name is obvious I think in its pronunciation; it contains a common word that everyone knows how to pronounce. I would guess that half the people who first greet me on phone or in similar ‘read only’ circumstance, mispronounce it. And I have a common (although not so much anymore) or at least bland wasp first name that still manages to get pronounced like similar names or dropping a letter or whatever. (like Katherine being pronounced Katrina).

      1. HR Manager*

        There’s an employee with a name that’s spelled slightly different from a very common name, and so every one pronounces it as the common name. But it’s not pronounced that way. It’s even been referenced humorously in company meetings. I’m sure the employee has just given up at this point, but seems to have a good sense of humor about it.

      2. bkanon*

        My lasr name is the same as a brand name that is very common. Commercials and everything. Still constantly mispronounced.

        On the plus side, when someone calls and says it wrong, I can say “No one by that name here!” and go about my business.

      3. Emily, admin extraordinaire*

        I’ve mentioned this on this blog before, but my uncommon last name is a very common prepositional phrase (with the meaning of “incidentally”) that is spelled and pronounced exactly like that very common prepositional phrase, but no one who sees it written down but never heard it pronounced believes that it could possibly be pronounced the way it’s spelled. Telemarketers are therefore fairly easy to spot. The reverse is also true– when I introduce myself, I get a lot of double-takes and misunderstandings, especially because said very common prepositional phrase is one that is often said when introducing oneself, and I’ve taken to just spelling my last name by default when giving it to customer service reps or people at work who need to email me.

          1. Emily, admin extraordinaire*

            Pretty much, yeah. I love my name, and although I plan on taking my husband’s name should I ever get married (hyphenating is just not an option; can you imagine?) I will be quite sad to give it up. I take slight comfort in the fact that I have no middle name, so using my maiden name as a middle name (like Hillary Rodham Clinton) won’t be super awkward. We also have to be careful about names; Isabel and Owen are both out for my brother’s kids, and last names of boyfriends that could be verbs (Sits, Rose, Bowles, Waits, Irons) would give me pause before considering marriage, because then my name would be a sentence.

            This is all further complicated by the fact that I have an uncle who’s quite famous in the Mormon church, so when meeting people for the first time, I either get the “Is that really your last name? (yes) How is it pronounced? (just like it’s spelled) Where is it from? (England)” questions, or the “Are you related to John?” question. :P

                1. Ž*

                  I don’t know either, but the only thing I could think of is if she said “My name’s Isabel Incidentally” it might sound like “My name is a bell incidentally”?

      4. original poster*

        Hello everybody. The original poster to #3 here. What happened in the end is that I did use AAA and upgraded to the premium service level for $75 more because it was a long tow. I charged the employer for the AAA upgrade and the employer paid it. I receive mileage but because this is a state with one of the highest gas taxes, the reality is it is not enough to cover wear and tear or a mechanic’s fee. I accept that I know I need to use my vehicle and maintain it well not just for employment but for me as well. Still somewhat irked no offer from anyone in the office to offer assistance. I’ve picked up complete strangers just to help them out. Stopped for a guy just the other day who had flasher on at the side of the road.

  35. Artemesia*

    Briefing the boss on new trends in the field would be a great task for an intern. The intern would benefit from learning this stuff and also learning to assess what is important and present it concisely and it would be useful for the boss. You could experiment with approaches to presenting it.

    Of course you might miss good things if the intern were not as competent as you hope, but you could have a back up e.g. be part of a professional assoc that sends alerts or has a FB page that highlight new developments AND have the intern who briefs you. And as internship tasks go, this sure beat photo copying.

    Or of course make it a part of a junior colleagues job.

  36. soitgoes*

    Re: #4, I’ve been seeing variations of this question a lot here…it seems like it’s not uncommon for employers to want to see documents from high school, and it’s also not uncommon for people over a certain age to just not have them anymore. Is it a matter of companies going digital and forgetting that a lot of their potential employees graduated before their information would have been digitized? Is the younger generation more likely to be sentimental enough to hold onto a high school diploma?

    1. Kelly L.*

      I had to show high school transcripts to get my current job. It’s a civil service position and requires a high school diploma. So they needed papers on file to prove I really had graduated from high school. I didn’t still have it, of course–my 20-year reunion is coming up. (OMG.) At least my high school still stands and kept half-decent records. The papers I got from them were olde-tyme computer printouts that had at some point been scanned into a digital file (haphazardly–they were willy-nilly all over the page, not remotely straight). But they did the trick. I think that being connected with the state government, they need to be able to document everything in case they’re audited.

      1. soitgoes*

        That makes sense. I think that employers (and the onus is on them, since they’re the ones asking for these documents) need to get on board with how schools keep track of their information. It’s not always easy to just “get” your transcripts, and a lot of online job applications require formatting or file uploading that makes things more difficult.

        Though I wonder why schools don’t just send graduates a few hard copies of their transcripts in the mail.

        1. Kelly L.*

          Oh, it’s possible they even did! I know I got report cards by semester at least, can’t remember if I ever got them all in one fell swoop. But twenty years, maybe ten moves, never ever needing them for anything until that moment…who knows where they’d be, even if they existed.

          1. soitgoes*

            My college had a weird system where they wouldn’t give you hard copies – you would have to put in a request and they would forward the digital documents wherever they needed to go. Obviously that’s a stupid system, so I “requested” that they send the documents to my private email so I’ll always have them. I did undergrad and grad at the same school so at least I got it all taken care of, but it was still butt-stupid.

    2. Legalese*

      It’s still possible to get high school records for people who graduated before the digitalization of records. Some districts have digitized the records, and others just pull the paper records.

      1. soitgoes*

        I think it’s one of those “your mileage may vary” things, given that there seems to be a question here at least once a month that has an employer asking for high school records that the OP cannot obtain due to the logistics of the school’s record-keeping system.

    3. I'm a Little Teapot*

      I’m cynical enough to think that maybe employers want to see these documents *because* they know older applicants are likely not to have them.

  37. Brett*

    #3 One part that I think might have a “legal” answer is the question of whether or not the business was responsible for the OP’s safety. If the OP had been injured or become ill as a consequence of being stranded on the side of the road, would OSHA have considered that a work-related injury or illness? I think there is a good possibility they would have (though maybe the company is under 10 employees).

    But, does this make the company “responsible” for the OP’s safety? Does the incident occurring as part of work-related travel create an obligation for the business to provide for the OP’s safety?

    Anyone here know OSHA well enough to have an idea?

    1. original poster*

      Thanks Brett. Interesting perspective. I wonder too if they would have been responsible if I had gotten hit, or my car got hit and totaled (busy road).

      Aside from the legality you also get to know your employers and your co-workers more when these situations arise. I have very low expectations for them now.

  38. Iro*

    #2 Re conference calls.

    An easy, non confrontational way to let everyone know the correct way to pronounce your name on conferance calls is to just announce your name before you start speaking. It’s actually a great practice to get into on conferance calls anyway, because it let’s people know who’s talking at any given time.

    “Eh-Mo-Gin could you please update us on the TPS reports?”

    “This is Eee-Mo-Gen. I’ve completed stages 3 & 4 but still need to finalize stage 5.”

  39. MM*

    #5 – Politico, a news organization that covers Capitol Hill, does a number of free daily summery emails for different issue areas. They are meant for Capitol Hill staff and lobbyists who have to stay on top of the breaking news in various fields, but anyone can sign up for them and they’re very good summaries of major stuff that’s happening in each field – including studies, proposed legislation, controversial news items, etc. They’re called “Morning Agriculture” or “Morning Education” etc. – there’s not a specific early ed one, but the education one might be helpful for you (and I figured this might be helpful for others looking to stay on top of other issue areas). I’ll post the link below to avoid moderation.

  40. Scott*

    I made a decent amount of money in college doing exactly what Allison suggested on this blog: reading long articles for busy professors and summarizing the core ideas into one page or less. It was also a great learning experience for me. Her advice of having someone do this for you is spot on. Maybe an intern or student wanting to learn more about the field?

  41. Decimus*

    #3 -It may not help in this past case but going forward maybe you can ask your boss to reimburse you for a AAA membership (or similar)? They might be more willing to do that since they can write it off as a business expense and the mid-tier AAA membership will tow you up to 100 miles. We have that primarily because my wife drives long distances for work on a regular basis and I didn’t want her stranded on the side of the road. It won’t help with the repairs, but that would at least get you off the road and back to civilization.

  42. GOG11*

    Re: #2, paragraph 1, sentence 4 – “Don’t [get] caught up in…”

    (If I am/become obnoxious, please tell me to knock it off.)

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Not at all! I really appreciate it. But I may sometimes delete corrections just so they don’t clutter the thread, so don’t take that as me giving you the finger or anything if you notice that :)

      1. GOG11*

        I know you’d said so before, but I really don’t want people to think I’m some sort of grammar police person – I just notice things. I left a comment on “employers want workers who they don’t have to train” (I’m not going through looking for errors now. I’d noticed when it came out but felt like I’d been pointing things out too much.)

  43. illini02*

    #3 Maybe I’m just a bit more cold hearted, but I guess I don’t see it as the employers responsibility to pick you up if your car is broken down or anything else. You say you were far from the office so it seems like in a small company, sending someone else to go get you is a waste of resources (again, not trying to sound cruel). You clearly had a cell phone. You can call a tow truck or whatever just as easily as they can call one for you. I also don’t think they are responsible for the tow fee. I get that cars can suck and break down even if you are keeping them in great shape, but your car isn’t your responsibility since you are getting reimbursed. The only way I could see this as being viable is if you were driving a company car that you only used for work. Then, yes, I would think they have legal responsibility since as an employee, you can have a reasonable expectation that the car is in proper working order. Otherwise, your car, your problem.

    1. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

      It’s late, but I agree with you. When you get reimbursed for.mileage, it’s much more than the cost of gas….maintenance, upkeep, insurance, etc. Roadside assistance policies are cheap (mine is $4/no.), and well worth it for anyone who is on the road a lot. I suspect your employer assumed you have one.

      1. original poster*

        Thanks. No offense taken and I did take care of everything myself. Perhaps if you live in a less expensive state your repair and maintenance costs are covered by the federal reimbursement rate, but not if you live where I do. However, aside from legal obligation, it seems like a common courtesy to at least offer your co-worker some form of assistance in this situation – supposedly there is no “I” in team.

  44. EC*

    For #4 – I work for a public institution (school district). When we hire employees who are required to have a high school diploma as per the job description, they must show us a copy so we can then make a copy for their file since we can get audited at any time by the government for funding purposes, etc. We let employees fill out an oath form that we notarize in our office if they can’t get it, but most districts (even if their school closed) should have their former employee records.

    Once I had an employee who showed us a high school transcript without a graduation date – turns out he had skipped his graduation ceremony 50 years ago and never actually graduated high school!

    1. Judy*

      How is that possible? Is there really a graduation requirement of attending the ceremony? Maybe I don’t actually have the degrees that I have diplomas for.

  45. T*

    #3 I see a number of comments on both sides: your bosses are jerks v. it’s your responsibility. What I don’t see in your original question is whether you actually asked them for help. Did you ask them to send someone to pick you up, to pay for a cab, to cover the cost of a rental car?

    If you did ask for help, and they said no, then I’d be upset as you are. I would ask how they want you to handle such a situation in the future. That would be a good time to ask them what expenses from your recent stranding that they will cover. If you haven’t already, it’s not too late to ask. As others have suggested, I would also ask them to pay the cost of AAA. You can show how this would benefit them through other savings (discounts, assistance that might prevent you from missing a meeting, etc.). If other people who work for the company also travel a lot, maybe they can get a business rate for multiple drivers or something. If not, it may be worth it for you to invest in your own membership. If AAA is too expensive, do as others have suggested and research possible alternatives. Some insurance plans offer roadside assistance as an add-on to your insurance. State Farm used to do this; I assume they still do. I know of a company that provides vehicle service agreements that offers roadside assistance as part of their plans.

    I would also think that if others have these concerns, you could approach your managers together to make a case for AAA membership or some other sort of assistance since this is something that could happen again no matter how well you take care of your car.

    1. original poster*

      In the end, I towed the vehicle through AAA, upgraded to the premium service, took care of my car and myself. The boss in the end reimbursed for the upgrade. It just seems to me that if a co-worker of mine – or anyones – is stranded in-state on a road on business (during winter), it might be nice and a show of teamwork to AT LEAST offer some assistance. A police officer , and other strangers, stopped by, busy road, concerned I would get hit. I too have stopped to assist complete strangers. That’s what makes the world go round. What I have learned is that I should have zero expectations of my company to assist me in anyway.

  46. Legalese*

    No. 4
    When schools close, their records are often transferred to the larger school district or the state board of education. (A school operating in Chicago, IL may have their records transferred to the Chicago Public Schools Board of Education, or the Illinois Department of Education.) A record does exist if you have completed you education – even if it is old. I’ve found that records of grads who finished more than five years ago are often in archives. Even if your school was a private school, you will often find the records through the two places that I mentioned. I used to have to track these records for an academic employer, and these are the places that we’d often find them. Although the employer’s request of these records seems like a headache, there are sometimes very good reasons that an employer may wish to verify high school completion such as regulatory requirements. Best of luck to you.

  47. #1*

    I could not disagree more on the comments regarding the recent graduate who stood on the street handing out her resume. Considering she was looking for a marketing/advertising position, I think this shows she is willing to think outside the box. She is not afraid to meet people or ask for what she wants in unconventional ways. I don’t think this route would work for everyone, but I like to see people taking chances once in awhile.

    1. Barney Stinson*

      I agree with this. I think it’s kind of smart for a marketing person to do something clever on top of all the standard ‘things to do.’

      Note that I said, ‘on top of all the standard things to do,’ not ‘INSTEAD of all the standard things to do.’

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      But it doesn’t really show she thinks outside the box. There have been stories of people doing this for years.

      It doesn’t show anything about her qualifications. It does show that she does understand what being a strong candidate looks like, or what makes a good employer want to hire you. And it shows the employer is willing to hire based on gimmicks, which is usually a very bad sign for what it’s like to work there.

      I’m sympathetic to feeling desperate, but this is a gimmick that good employers don’t respond to.

      1. illini02*

        Why wouldn’t a good employer respond. I don’t think it would be smart to hire her on the spot or anything, but if that was enough to make them want to bring her in for an interview, I’d call that a success.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Because good employers respond to merit, not gimmicks. A sign saying “hire me” says zero about her qualifications and merit. Employers who respond to flash and gimmicks from job applicants tend to also value flash and gimmicks over real merit once you’re working there, which means that it’s going to suck working there if you’re someone who wants to be valued for the substance of your work and wants to work with other good people.

        2. Melissa*

          I’m not sure I would want to hire someone who stands on the street corner with a sign because that could imply, to me, that she doesn’t understand the conventions of the work world.

      2. buddleia*

        Of course there’s no way to tell if someone standing on a street with a for hire sign would be a strong candidate for your company. However, it did get attention, when going the regular route didn’t. She started job searching in the fall and applied to hundred of jobs with no response. After seven days on the street, it was only then that she started getting interviews (14 within a few weeks), in which she could show her qualifications. Then in her interview with Reprise Media, who hired her: “She just completely separated herself from anyone else we have ever interviewed before,” said Joseph McConellogue, managing director of Reprise Media. “She came in with a fully equipped power point deck, a beautiful power point and basically pitched herself to us.” So who knows what she had in that powerpoint: “I’m a strong candidate because I was willing to stand on the street trying to find a job” or “I’m a strong candidate because I have job experience that matches your company’s requirements.”

        Either way, it’s a rare situation, not everyone can do it and make it work. I haven’t heard of something like this taking place in Toronto before, even if it’s happened lots of time over the years. I’m glad she got a job and I hope it works out for her and the employer.

      3. Wren*

        I’m now cynically thinking that they hired her so that they’d be named in the paper for being the ones to hire her.

        1. Melissa*

          I wouldn’t be surprised if that was the case. As Alison said, an employer who will hire someone for the flash is more likely to be impressed by the flash…they are probably also more likely to want that flash and attention directed towards themselves.

  48. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

    #4 – and AAM – as we said before in earlier discussions – some jobs, particularly those that require a security clearance, may require such proof, or even transcripts. My Dad was a principal of an elementary school, right into the late 1980s.

    In the late 1970s, or early 80s, I think, he had to obtain a record for a man who had to prove he attended that school – in the late 1920s. Fifty years back. The records were there. I think the man was in his mid-sixties, or older, at the time and had to obtain a security clearance for the first time.

    Now – yes, there have been many Catholic schools closed – but usually, the records are SOMEWHERE because most state and provincial laws mandate long-term, or even perpetual archival. Two places you can start — a) the Archdiocese or Diocese that the school was in or b) the religious order that ran the school. I graduated from a Catholic boys’ school in 1964, and it closed around 1980. My records would be in the religious order’s headquarters. They have archives there.

  49. Melissa*

    #5 – I also work in a field in which there are always new articles and information (academia). I set up Google Scholar alerts to get the new articles and also have subscriptions to some of the more important journals in my field. But…on some level I have accepted that I simply cannot read everything new that comes out in the field. I am inevitably going to miss an article, even an important one from time to time. Usually I find out when someone asks me “Have you seen the new article on…” I used to be embarrassed, but now I just say “No, what did it say?” and someone would forward it to me or I could find it later.

    Anyway, I’ve had to become content with keeping up with maybe 30-50% of it.

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