open thread – February 13, 2015

It’s the Friday open thread!

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

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

{ 1,174 comments… read them below }

  1. Ayeaye*

    Just wanted to say thanks for all the suggestions last week. I’ve started recording my days and it’s making me feel a lot better about it all. It’s actually an academic library I work in rather than public, but all comments were really useful, so thanks all.

  2. Hearts On Fire*

    I currently work in marketing. Some of the areas I’m lacking in are digital/web and data analytics. I’m really interested in learning about SAS. Can anyone recommend any good (and inexpensive) resources/books related to SAS? What about other resources related to digital/web/analytics? Thanks for everyone’s thoughts. :)

    1. GOG11*

      I recently had the opportunity to chat with a web developer/IS person who recommended coursera. I’ve enrolled in a course there that starts this summer called Data Visualization. There were a lot of other options, too. I think all of the courses are free.

    2. Iro*

      The thing is, it will be hard to learn SAS without having access to SAS to practice programming. The conundrum of learning to program is that to learn to program you must program.

      SAS licenses are expensive so honestly that is your biggest financial barrier there.

      1. Abhorsen327*

        In order to deal with the financial barrier of using SAS, you might be interested in learning R instead. R is open-source and available for free, and has roughly the same functionality as SAS. The two have pretty different syntax styles, but once you know one it’s fairly quick and easy to learn the other (especially with the help of google).

    3. Iro*

      As for analytics, I’d stick with improving your access and excel abilities. has some great free excel resources as well as an entire series on “becoming an awesome analyst”

      1. little Cindy Lou who*

        sorry but gotta disagree with Access. Anyone who’s looking for an actual SQL programmer will just roll their eyes at its mention. If you live near an urban area, see if they have a community computer lab where you can get hands on with real programs (usually around the gov buildings with job placement help, etc)

    4. themmases*

      You should look into SAS University Edition, which is free SAS software that you run as a virtual machine and access in your browser. (I’ll post a link in a reply to this comment.) It has definite limitations compared to real SAS (I found libraries harder to set up, and personally I found it slower even though I wasn’t using a wireless connection), but it can get you started learning the language and interacting with the community.

      Other than my class notes– and to be honest I found taking a class to be the best thing– The Little SAS Book is what I have and what I see recommended constantly. I highly recommend getting it in ebook or PDF form so that you can have it open and text search it when you are troubleshooting or trying to figure out how to do something. If you’re planning to use SAS Enterprise, then the SAS for Dummies book is all about that and it seems to be popular with Enterprise users (and unpopular with regular SAS users since the title doesn’t make it obvious that it’s not for them). The Dummies blog and a few other big ones are also aimed mainly at SAS Enterprise users.

      Taking a class will get you access to some practice data prepared by your instructor that would be relevant to someone in your field. If you can’t do that or aren’t sure yet if you want to, I personally like to explore the free public data sets on

      Hope this helps!

      1. themmases*

        Here is the main page for information about SAS University Edition:

        From the fact sheet near the bottom: “SAS University Edition is designed for anyone wanting easy access to statistical software to perform quantitative analysis in an academic setting. This includes undergraduate
        and graduate students, professors, adult learners, high school students, researchers and postdocs.”

  3. constipated accountant*

    Someone called me about a job I applied to on Wednesday. We set up an interview for Monday, and she gave me the location and time and said she would email me to confirm and give me the exact address. She said she would email me that night. I still haven’t received an email and I don’t have her email address. Should I call her again today to confirm?

    1. Meg Murry*

      Check you spam folder and then call to confirm if its not there. She may have left out a letter in your email address sending it to the wrong person or delegated sending you the address to someone else that didn’t take care of it.

  4. ACA*

    I had a phone interview last Thursday that in retrospect I should have rescheduled, as I was hopped up on cold medicine – which is probably why I didn’t reschedule, because my cognitive thinking skills weren’t all they should have been. I guess I sounded more coherent than I felt, though, since they emailed me on Monday to request an in-person interview! That’s scheduled for next Friday, and I’ll basically be freaking out non-stop until then.

    1. TL -*

      I had to go under for a minor procedure yesterday and I sent out about three emails that were like, “Uh, I can’t make this decision because my judgment is officially impaired until tomorrow. Have forwarded the email to X.”

      Good times.

    2. Sunflower*

      One time i had a phone interview on a random day I had off of work but ended up being sick. Accidentally took cough syrup with codeine and felt legitimately drunk. I was half freaking out, half didn’t care about anything before the interview and it worked to my advantage since I was super relaxed and wasn’t nervous at all. Wouldn’t recommend anyone doing that though.

      1. puddin*

        Similar thing happened to me – last minute in person interview and I was on Serious pain killers at the time. But I did get the job :) Probably for the same reason, super relaxed.

    3. Not Here or There*

      I was out of the office due to pneumonia and ended up getting a job interview that couldn’t be rescheduled. I went and ended up getting the job. Another time, I had had surgery the previous week (outpatient) but was still supposed to be resting and was on pain killers. I conducted several phone interviews that resulted in 3 in-person interviews later on. In fact, back in high school, I always seemed to be sick and on medication whenever I took the SAT (my parents insisted we take it every semester starting our freshman year). The one time I took it my junior year and wasn’t sick, I actually got a lower score. My family teases me that if I were always on sick and on medication, I would already be the CEO of a fortune 500 company.

      1. ExceptionToTheRule*

        I had a phone interview while I was in the hospital after in-patient surgery and hopped up on morphine. I was ultimately offered a job, but it was a red flag to me that they would knowingly interview me in the condition I was in.

  5. Anon for this*

    I’m looking for opinions on threats as a management strategy. A couple of examples:

    – Boss sees spoiled food in office refrigerator and says, “You people are disgusting. Clean out this refrigerator by tomorrow or I will take away the refrigerator.”

    – Boss sees jammed printer and says, “If you people can’t take care of the printer, I will take away the printer and you will have to go to the next floor every time you want to print something.” (Note that in a scenario like this, the threat is to make it more difficult for the employees to do their jobs efficiently.)

    Is this an effective way to change people’s behaviors? Is it a good way of managing people?

    1. fposte*

      Do you really expect anybody here to say “Yes, it’s brilliant” :-)?

      I think it can be legitimate to stop funding a perk if it’s making more trouble than it’s worth (I think a lot of water coolers are asking for this), but threats are just silly.

      1. Anon for this*

        Haha, good point… I mean, I guess I can see how it can scare people into doing what you want them to do, and perhaps there are situations where managers feel it is their best option for taking action. Maybe someone would like to make a case for that.

      2. INTP*

        Our water cooler (at an old job) really did get taken away for that reason!

        My coworkers missed the memo that tap water is potable (I get that it doesn’t always taste the best, but it’s pretty effective at preventing dehydration without making you sick). If we ran out of water refills before the next delivery, people would literally sit there getting dehydrated while complaining that the company was denying them access to drinking water. I almost felt cruel sitting there drinking my water from the sink as though I were eating a feast in front of a starving group of prisoners. Obviously the water wasn’t the only morale problem, but productivity came to a standstill until the next water delivery while everyone sat around dehydrated and cranky feeling that their human rights had been violated. So they got rid of the cooler altogether and installed a filter on the tap instead. No more cold water for us.

    2. Rin*

      They both sound kind of ridiculous, because your co-workers, who may be gross and not great at printer care, are not in kindergarten. As for the first one, we have a fridge clean-out every once in a while when it gets too disgusting or filled, so that could be an alternative. It’s a “we’re tossing everything, so get your stuff out if you want to keep it” type thing. Because there are people who don’t leave bad food and do take care of the printer, and they shouldn’t be penalized.

      1. Jazzy Red*

        When I worked for a former employer, all refrigerators were cleaned out every Friday at 5:00 pm. All opened containers (salad dressing, etc) were thrown out, as well as all left over food. The cleaning crew in my building used to wait by the fridges, and watch the clock go from 4:58 to 4:59 and at 5:00, they would open the doors and start throwing things into the trash. They especially enjoyed throwing out Tupperware and glass containers that people brought from home. It was like watching the walkers invade Terminus.

        1. Adam V*

          Here, salad dressings and condiments are left alone as long as they aren’t expired. Otherwise, if you brought salad every day, it’d be annoying to have to remember every Friday to go grab your salad dressing and then bring it back the following Monday. I think the freezer cleaning only gets rid of expired items as well.

    3. Katie the Fed*

      Well, a bit of a leading question I think since you already know the answer :)

      Definitely not a good strategy, but he does sound frustrated. Have their been warnings that led to this reaction or was this his first discussion?

      Best strategy would be for him to designate a roster of people to look after the fridge and printer – come up with a solution rather than scolding the entire group. These are “tragedy of the commons” type issues – nobody wants to be responsible for the communal areas, so he needs to come up with a way to make people responsible for it.

      1. Anon for this*

        No, there haven’t been many warnings. It’s a fairly new manager, and this seems to be his first reaction to something he doesn’t like. In the fridge incident, it was the first warning since he became the manager (though there were a few warnings several months ago). In the printer incident, it happens occasionally but with different culprits.

        1. Observer*

          If you are going to make a threat, do something that makes some sense. Saying “I’m going to make it harder for you to do your job and then you’ll get penalized for that” Is just silly. Saying “You’ll have to pay for the printer repairs” MIGHT make sense. Of course, in this kind of case, it doesn’t sound like the boss even looked at the cause of the jam. It’s quite likely nothing to do with what the user did.

          1. Mephyle*

            It’s like good vs. bad parenting. In general terms, warning about consequences: good. Threatening to impose punitive measures (that will degrade performance by getting in the way of doing the job): bad.

        2. Adonday Veeah*

          I’m gonna go out on a limb here and suggest that this is his parenting style, and he’s brought it into the office.

    4. GOG11*

      I think this is a terrible management strategy. It doesn’t foster rapport or open communication. Management would seem unapproachable. I will work way harder for someone who inspires and invests in me and this does not do that.

    5. HigherEd Admin*

      I think this is a good way to make people see the Boss as a jerk.

      RE: Scenario 1: What about assigning someone on a rotating basis every week to be responsible for cleaning out the spoiled food in the fridge. The message could be, “if your food is in there on Friday and is not labeled with an expiration date beyond Friday, it will be tossed.” After someone loses a tupperware or after someone is assigned the clean-out task and sees how gross it is, hopefully the problem will be reduced.

      1. Anon for this*

        That’s a good idea, as long as everyone cooperates, but what if a couple of people decide to blow it off when it’s their turn and something gets left in there to rot and the boss takes away the refrigerator?

        Also, what if it does work? If the boss’s threat resulted in employees working out a solution to the issue, does that mean that the threat was an effective way of handling the problem? It seems that most people agree that it’s a crappy way to manage people, but if the boss gets the results he wants with threats, what’s the downside to using this strategy?

        1. Observer*

          Well, the odds of getting consistent results are very, very low. Yes, in scenario one it worked. With a jamming printer, I’m willing to bet it won’t / didn’t. If you haven’t had jams since his threat, it’s probably becuase something else changed. Many printers are sensitive to the paper and toner you use, and sometimes even how you store the paper. Unless the printer is used by ONE person, AND that person has full control over the other factors, this simply cannot work.

          On the other hand, as others have pointed out, when this is a first line of reaction, you shut down all communications and respect. They may FEAR him, but they won’t respect him. That makes it much harder to get really good results inthe long term. Others have noted some aspects of this kind of issue – people don’t come to you with problems that need resolution, they work around you or ignore you when they can, the become clock puchers / watchers rather than trying to just make sure they do what needs to be done, and keep their heads down rather than tackling problems and making suggestions that could have benefits.

          1. Anon for this*

            As lots of commenters have noticed, this was a bit of a leading question — I really dislike this style of management and I think you are totally right about everything you said. The trouble is, how do you convince a manager that this is a poor strategy, especially when he can point to multiple situations where threats worked to scare people into changing their ways? It is hard to convince someone to trade results now for trust/respect/morale/communications in the long run, especially because those things are difficult to quantify or identify a cause. In fact, I suspect that if these things become an issue, they will simply be attributed to employees’ attitudes, and there will be more threats (If communications don’t improve, I’ll make you turn in notes on every conversation you have! If productivity doesn’t improve, I’ll take away the coffee maker! The beatings will continue until morale improves!), and/or they will be used to give employees bad reviews and deny raises.

      2. Marcy*

        My last job did this. I blew off my week because I didn’t use the kitchen at all and it was really disgusting. It wasn’t fair to require people who don’t use it to clean up after the inconsiderate people who let their food splatter all over the microwave and leave their stuff to rot in the refrigerator. Everyone knew who the disgusting people were- that should have been addressed with them instead of making those of us who didn’t even use it have to clean up behind them. That same boss also tried to make me babysit my coworker’s kids when she brought them into the office so I couldn’t really expect a common sense approach from her.

    6. Mallory Janis Ian*

      Not a good way of managing people, but it did kind of make me laugh, because it reminded me of when I was a kid and my grandpa would make threats like,

      – “If you kids don’t quit using so much toilet paper, I’m going to lay the Sears and Roebuck catalog on the back of the toilet and see how you like using that for toilet paper!”

      or (again with the toilet paper):

      – “If you kids don’t quit using so much toilet paper, I’m going to lay the roll on the back of the couch behind me, and when you ask me for some, I’m going to dole out one square!”

      1. NJ Anon*

        What is it with grandparents and toilet paper? My grandmother always said you can’t have too much money or toilet paper!

        1. Myrin*

          I was about to ask the same thing since my grandpa has always been concerned about my toilet paper use as well!

        2. Mallory Janis Ian*

          Well, good to know that my grandparents weren’t just a particular brand of crazy! Sounds like a generational toilet paper fixation.

        3. Artemesia*

          My grandfather has been dead for 55 years but I still remember what a jerk he was and it is symbolized by his whining that our family of four (including a woman and a girl) used too much toilet paper when we visited. My mother’s response was to tell us we could only use two squares at a time. I wish she had done what she threatened my father she would do ie. give him a 6 pack for Christmas.

      2. Mallory Janis Ian*

        And, oh yeah — at the time he was saying this, Sears hadn’t been “Sears and Roebuck” for god-knows how long!

    7. Hlyssande*

      We have a policy that the fridge gets cleaned out every Friday afternoon and whatever is still there gets thrown out, even if it appears to be a new bottle of dressing/condiment/whatever and isn’t expired. No exceptions.

      1. Anx*

        Do you think this is a good policy? And does it apply to the fridge?

        Perhaps it’s because I have a difficult time sticking to a lunch routine and can’t afford to buy food on some days, but whenever I’ve had access to a work fridge I’ve tried to leave a few cheese sticks or something at work in case of emergency. If someone doesn’t work on Fridays, can they call in and make sure someone puts an item aside and then returns it after the cleaning?

        1. Judy*

          I prefer the cleaning it out except for things that (1) have a person’s name on it and (2) have an expiration date showing it is still good. So your name on a pre-packaged thing is ok. Your name and a date on your tupperware is OK. If it’s staying overnight, it needs a date on it.

          An old office did major cleanups on the last (working) Friday in a month at 3pm, 2 people assigned monthly. (Specified working because of winter breaks, who wants to come back to a stinky fridge on Jan 2?) I was wondering here about that, there was an October dated 1/2 gallon of milk in the fridge when I left for winter break.

        2. Gwen*

          Places I’ve worked have been the same as Judy describes; usually someone sends out an email saying “At X date, we’ll be cleaning out the fridge, anything that doesn’t have a name and date will be tossed, no exceptions.” Some people would set out tupperware/glassware that was unlabeled and give people 24 hours to claim it before it’s tossed, some were more hardcore.

        3. Hlyssande*

          I think it works fairly well for our large office – that policy was put into place when we moved here and actually started having a kitchenette for the first time, so it wasn’t like the policy changed at some point.

          And yes, a few people have bemoaned the issue, but it was more in a ‘geez, I forgot. Well, my loss’ sort of way.

        4. Bea W*

          Telling people a schedule of when a cleaning will occur and the consequences of not removing their food is not the same as belittling and threatening them with “You people are disgusting. Clean out this refrigerator by tomorrow or I will take away the refrigerator.” It’s reasonable to toss out leftovers and unclaimed items when cleaning a refrigerator, and it is reasonable to warn people before hand when cleaning will happen.

    8. HR Manager*

      Maybe not the first method I would choose, but clearly there is a level of frustration there, and I can’t say the boss is wrong for feeling like spoiled food and messy printer areas are a problem. If employees are hearing this and the only response is “the boss is a jerk” rather than think “maybe I could not leave my spoiled food in the fridge”, then employees are equally wrong.

      1. Anna*

        If you can’t communicate well that something is not working and your first approach is threats, there is no “equally wrong”. The problem may be there’s spoiled food in the fridge, but the solution to this sort of management isn’t “just don’t leave spoiled food in the fridge” since the approach won’t change no matter what the problem is. You may need to address the spoiled food issue, but that’s not really the main issue in this question.

      2. Kyrielle*

        Let’s say you have 25 employees sharing the fridge. One left something spoiled and gross in it.

        How are the other 24 employees supposed to feel when the boss says it must never happen again and must be dealt with, or the fridge goes away? Now they have to worry about who left it – what if thy do it again – should we toss others’ food so we can keep the fridge, but then how do we know if something (not with a date) is spoiled, and who’s responsible for policing the food of others anyway….

        “I’ll get rid of the refrigerator” is an over-the-top threat, and one that can majorly impact employees’ routines and food. And it’s in response to a single data point, which by definition, the vast majority of the employees aren’t responsible for. If the boss wants them to step up and take care of each others’ food, he should assign the duty to someone or set up a rotation.

        (And I utterly sympathize with him and all the other employees. We have an office fridge, and for a long time no one person was responsible for it, and on occasion there were bad moments…though nothing spoiled and open, at least. The exploded soda was particularly aggravating, tho.)

    9. Elizabeth West*


      At one job, the boss used to routinely threaten us that we would all be canned if we didn’t reach fund-raising goals. All that tactic did was make people jumpy and snarly. It didn’t help us work as a team and it made him look like a giant asshole.

      And as every small child knows, if you threaten but then don’t follow through, the threats become meaningless.

    10. Celeste*

      These kind of threats just make it clear that Boss doesn’t have much in his/her management toolbox. What is so hard about making an assignment to a person? It’s what a manager does.

    11. voluptuousfire*

      Frustrated yes. Viable, no.

      Any employer that thinks the best way to remedy something as minor as a printer jam is by taking away the printer–essentially making their employees jobs harder, lowering morale and losing what adds up to hours each year of lost productivity is shortsighted.

      Every job I’ve ever had had a notice on the fridge that said on Friday (or every other Friday) whatever that was in the fridge and that wasn’t labeled with someone’s name or communal (milk for coffee, for example) would be tossed. Why not institute that sort of regimen?

    12. Ruth (UK)*

      Seems a little drastic and likely to make people simply think the manager is a jerk (as other people have commented). It’s possible to take action without it being an extreme threat (especially a threat as extreme as your examples which the staff may question whether he’s even likely to carry it out.) The crazy threat approach generally makes things improve for a very short period of time then revert back.

      It’s better to introduce a less extreme policy (that is actually possible to enforce) and then stick to it.

      My office requires we label anything we put in the fridge with our name and the date (post-its are readily available to do this) and we throw things out every Friday if it’s unlabelled or been there longer than a week. Obviously it’s possible to re-post-it and change the date, but at least this stops things being long forgotten.

      I can’t possibly imagine what is being done to the printer to make the boss make this kind of threat? Not restocking paper? Kicking it?

      But saying things like ‘you people are disgusting’ to his/her staff isn’t very appropriate.

    13. INTP*

      These sound like empty threats of measures that would accomplish nothing except revenge against his own employees, and that’s silly and ineffective.

      I do think, though, that sometimes with “tragedy of the commons” situations, some strictness is necessary. In this example, it would be “Anything not removed from the fridge by 4pm on Fridays will be thrown away,” and then follow up on it. If the sink piles up with disgusting dishes, say that you’ll throw away anything left after the end of the workday and do it. Those might sound threat-ish but the difference is that you’ll actually follow through, you’re only punishing people who don’t clean up after themselves, and the people who do will actually appreciate it because they get a clean sink, fridge, etc. (For the printer, I’d just suggest making sure everyone knows how to properly load the paper etc. Most people don’t mean to cause a paper jam.)

      1. Observer*

        (For the printer, I’d just suggest making sure everyone knows how to properly load the paper etc. Most people don’t mean to cause a paper jam.)

        And make sure that you are using the right kind of paper and toner (eg some non-manufacturer toner can cause seriousl problems), and make sure the the paper is properly stored. In some cases you may need to restrict paper / toner changes to a specific individual or two, if the machine is finicy enough. (We had that with one older copier.)

    14. Golden Yeti*

      I agree, it’s not the best route to go. Even if it gets results, it’s not going to build a team or garner respect. It’s not going to make people want to stay and work with this manager.

      This week, I witnessed a manager more or less verbally abusing/threatening the delivery guy/company both in person and over the phone. I am half expecting the Very Important Packages to arrive at the destination broken.

      You can’t demand professionalism of others if you are unwilling to offer it yourself.

      1. catsAreCool*

        Dave Barry once said something like “If someone’s nice to you but rude to the waitress, they’re not a nice person.”

        He didn’t mention it, but it’s also pretty stupid to be obnoxious to people who you need something from. And really, what’s the point in being rude to anyone unless they’ve been rude first?

        I was brought up to be nice to people because it was the right thing to do, and I never really thought about it as something that was actually an advantage in life. It surprised me when I started realizing how a certain amount of nice (not a jerk to co-workers, helpful, sharing useful work information) can actually be an advantage at work. If you’re nice to people, most of them will be nice back. Yes, there are going to be a few jerks who may think that niceness is weakness, but everyone hates those jerks.

    15. Bea W*

      No and no. For the record, it’s not really an effective parenting strategy either.

      I’m a little surprised this even has to be asked, but then…*shrug*

    16. Panda Bandit*

      It sounds like something an angry parent would say to a small child. People shouldn’t be leaving stuff in the fridge but your boss needs a better policy and better wording than this.

  6. Meg Murry*

    I’m starting a new job in a few weeks, and one of the things I’m excited about is starting over with a fresh, clean email inbox, calendar and documents folder.

    I’ve read GTD in the past and implemented some of the ideas for my email and workflow, but does anyone have any other good suggestions on what to read or what processes to implement? Anything easy but powerful like Alison’s suggestion a week or 2 ago for a “waiting on” folder? Or any other good suggestions for how to hit the ground running in a new position where project management will be a big part of it?

    1. fposte*

      Definitely interested in this as well–I’m trying to turn over a new email leaf. Are there guidelines or templates or anything?

      1. Meg Murry*

        I’m hoping to implement the 0 inbox strategy, where the only messages in the inbox are the ones that I still need to take action on, and the waiting on (with date flags) strategy for items I am waiting on a response from. I also am a big user of filters/rules to direct mailing lists, and I only use work email for work and keep my personal email separate. But I’m hoping for advise on how to take it to the next level, or how to keep it up during times of chaos – books, blog posts, best practices, whatever.

      2. Victoria, Please*

        I’ve discovered a fabulous resource… “Seven sane and sensible email strategies.” Google “emphasis on excellence” and dig around.

    2. Damaska*

      I use Excel for everything. Spreadsheets to keep track of due dates, to build project plans, to do basic math… everything. :)

      A daily to-do list is a good idea, but I’ve found that I only actually update a maximum of two things regularly, so I have to be selective about which ones. I have a general deadlines spreadsheet, and another updates sheet that I send to my manager weekly. Those two are essential and useful, so the daily list fell off. So I adapt the other two to have what I need from a daily list.

    3. squids*

      Wait for a few weeks so you can get an idea of the scope of the work, then set up a filing system that makes sense for you and doesn’t have too many categories. Set it up based on your job functions or projects, not on subjects, dates, or names of people. You’ll use the big categories in conjunction with search in order to find older emails, but it shouldn’t take more than a second to figure out where to file them.

      Use the same categories (with same names or codes) for filing your electronic records, and your paper records, and then you’ll be able to find the right stuff from each of those formats easily.

      It sounds basic but I have seen so many bizarre & broken personal filing systems over the years.

      1. BritCred*

        Yep – I could find things in 5 minutes when others took hours because of this and hardly ever missed anything when it came in.

        Each client or major client group had their own folder, a office related folder, a finance company related one and a “waiting for follow up” one…. oh, and the random one for stuff that doesn’t fit anywhere else!

        I won’t say what I said to the Temp when she said “I deleted stuff once I replied to it….” or how big the bite in my tongue was…. ;)

        One thing I used to do just about daily? Empty my sent box of stuff I’d sent into the client folders. As I went through if I’d “promised” anything to someone (“I’ll follow up with X…”) and not done it I’d most likely remember and be able to do it quickly.

    4. ThursdaysGeek*

      I make three main folders under my inbox: General, Personal, Work. As I figure out what kinds of emails come in, I make subfolders under each of those, and everything that comes in (or goes out) gets put in an appropriate folder or subfolder. I have a folder for each project in my work folder (and actually move them from folders for NotStarted, WorkingOn, and Finished).

      Since things will need to be archived (I save all emails), I make archive folders called General-2015, Personal-2015, and Work-2015, and after they are 2 or 3 weeks old, they get moved to the archive folders.

      Right now, I have archive folders for each year and main section since I started this job. If I need to find something, I can search all emails. But old stuff doesn’t fill up my available mailbox. And if/when I leave this job, it should be easy for someone else to find information on work I was doing.

      I’ve seen others make folders for emails with various people, but for me, the projects are a better break-down.

  7. saro*

    Any fellow small business owners or marketing people want to give me pointers on how to market my business without being a jerk? I have a FB page, a twitter account and website. i would like to provide useful information and get new business, of course. But I figure the AAM community has information I don’t know. I’m new to all of this.

    1. kristinyc*

      I would recommend creating really useful content that would be relevant to your customers. There’s a great book by Jay Baer called “Youtility” that talks about marketing your brand by being extremely useful to your customers so they see you as a valuable, expert resource (rather than just shouting “BUY MY PRODUCTS!!” all the time). Case in point – this site! Alison has done such an amazing job of creating useful content, when it comes time for her to market her ebooks or resume review services, it’s probably an incredibly easy sell.

      1. Hearts On Fire*

        Just wanted to say that Jay is awesome. I had the opportunity to hear him speak at a conference last year and he was fantastic. Plus, he lives now lives in my awesome college town (Bloomington, Indiana). :)

        1. saro*

          I’ll look this up, thank you. That sounds more like something I can do rather than sell sell sell all the time.

    2. TotesMaGoats*

      Make sure you are involved with your local chambers of commerce or tech council or whatever is appropriate for your field. Being an active member gets you a lot of exposure, especially if you can provide in kind services.

      1. Saro*

        I’ll look into this – I have some reservations about this due to potential politics of the chambers of commerce here. That said, I haven’t even tried it yet so my anti-social nature may just be looking for excuses. ;-)

    3. Sunflower*

      I would suggest including unrelated, non-business content sometimes. I used to work somewhere that would post something funny every Friday.

      I would also suggest using FB and twitter searches to target your audience. For example, let’s say you sell dishwashers. Search ‘broken dishwasher’ on twitter and you’re sure to get a slew of people who’s crap dishwasher is finishing and is looking for a new one. A quick, non-cheesy reply might generate some stuff.

      1. Saro*

        I’ll try to think of how I can use this. My target clients are other businesses so I don’t know how much FB would help. Twitter seems to raise my general ‘she knows the business and is here’ reputation but I haven’t had good luck with FB just yet.

    4. HeyNonnyNonny*

      Not knowing what your business is, I would recommend looking at BarkBox’s email list/content. They provide lots of blog posts and content that generally relates to their product (cute dogs pics) and also balance that with actual marketing about upcoming items, ordering more items, and item reviews. Just one example I can think of that I find really ‘works’ for me.

    5. Labratnomore*

      It really depends on the type of business. If you are trying to market to your local community, some sort of community involvement can be great. Are there local clubs or school you could sponsor or help with a fund raising campaign?

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        I’d like to put a +1 here.

        I can speak more from the customer perspective than the business one, but, for me, it really depends on the business.

        For example, if I like a restaurant, a few Facebook and Twitter stickers on the menu or a business card will help me to like/follow the place, and then you can post helpful things like pictures of yummy specials or assurances that you are, in fact, open on ________ holiday. You’re far more likely to get my repeat business that way.

        Random SaaS business I’ve never heard of—believe it or not, I’ve clicked on Googled based on Twitter ads. The key here is it has to be a company I’d never heard of before. If it’s Comcast posting a Twitter ad, I’ll ignore that and be annoyed by it.

        If you run an independent movie theater, printed flyers of upcoming shows or film festivals are helpful if coffee shops will host them for you.

        It really depends what kind of business you run…

      2. Saro*

        Thanks! I do volunteer with a non-profit – but I don’t think that many people know about it. That’s the part that makes me feel like a jerk. I guess I should get over it though.

    6. OriginalEmma*

      Have a functional, customer-friendly website. Make it easy for me to access your service or get to your store.

      For example, put hours of operation and contact info in clickable (or copy-paste-able) format in an obvious area…whether at the bottom or top of the page, on its own “Contact Us” or “About” tab/page, or at the top of a left-sided column. Have the address open up into a Google Map or MapQuest. Link your e-mail so if I click o it, I can open it up in MS Outlook or what-have-you. There are more things, I’m sure, but these immediately come to mind.

      See also: The Oatmeal’s What I Want from a Restaurant Website, which humorously and concisely breaks down the issue.

      Nothing turns me off more as a customer than a business website with fluffy stuff like “How I Came An Underwater Basket Weaver” but no functionality.

      1. Saro*

        Thank you. I’m going to ask a trusted friend to review my current website to see if she finds it functional.

    7. puddin*

      Congrats on your business venture! Sounds like it is a new undertaking for you – I wish you much success and hope you enjoy being your own boss!

      Here is an idea that I passed along to a local kitchen renovation company…apply as you can to your business. I truncated the sales plan as much as I could and have it still make sense. It also involves supplier involvement, business partners like loan companies, HOAs…etc.

      The idea is a sort of referral process. Your current customers are a very valuable source of sales leads and marketing information. I think this method is better than the ‘get $5 for every referral you send me’ method, which no one really does, the referrals are usually not quality, no one don’t follow through, or people are annoyed that their friend ‘put them on a list’.

      When a project is completed, the renovator hosts a party in the customers brand new fancy kitchen. The customer can invite up to X number of people and you, as the business owner invite the relevant people from your business and ask to invite ONE person/couple who is currently considering your services. You sponsor a nice spread – whatever your budget can reasonably handle as part of your sales and marketing expenses.* This is now your opportunity to collect names and contact info from the customer’s friends, talk to them about your services, show your portfolio…use this as a consulting introduction. Do not forget that the customer and his/her kitchen is the star so be sure to celebrate them with bravos and congratulations. Follow up with your collected names a week later, ask if they would like to follow you on FB, your newsletter, whatever keeps you in constant contact. Also offer to set up a no-cost consulting appt at their home. Then follow up with them via these media sources. If they say they are not ready now, it is ok to ask when they will be and can you call back at that time. [then put a tickler on your CRM or calendar.] Show some charisma and charm while contacting too, don’t ‘sell’ just offer.

      If you want to be really super duper high speed, keep a simple database of your clients and referrals. Keep some details about their contact preferences, birth date, anniversary, kid’s b-days, how long they have owned their home, what materials/styles/colors they prefer. Then use this info to say hi…things like “saw this kitchen in green and orange and thought of you” send pic with link. Alternatively tag them in an instagram post of the image (with permission of course). Even if the intended customer does not see it, others that follow you will and will notice that you are looking out for your customers.

      This whole process is a pinpointed sales and marketing technique and is very close to roof top marketing. I think it is a very effective way to spend marketing money on the right people as your customers’ friends are most likely in the same demographic/financial boat as your customer. This is very similar to the ‘house party’ sales techniques used by Tupperware, Silpada, Tastefully Simple, and all that jazz. If you have a service, it is a great way to expose people to you and your offerings. This method is less successful if you are promoting a product or goods these days because of internet competition and commoditization.

      *The business thought the cost spent on the party should scale with the cost of the project. I advised against this, as the friends will compare whose party was better and the business will look like the money grubbing bad guy in that scenario.

      1. Saro*

        Thanks, let me think this through and see how I can apply it to my business. I finally have some help so I can focus on other things. I offer consulting services to international businesses – I live/work overseas in a developing country.

  8. Sunflower*

    I’m debating going from normal, “permanent”(because nothing ever is) work to something that allows for more spontaneity and flexibility. I’ve always dreamed of living in a different place every 6 months(I want to live both in and outside of the US) and now might be the time to do that(fresh in my career, no commencements, still have mom and dad to rescue me if need be, etc)

    Some people mentioned travel work but I work in project management/marketing/event planning and I’m not sure how many opportunities exist for that.
    I’m debating trying to find short contract freelance gigs or find something that is purely work from home(could be freelance) and can be free to do stuff in between. Is this stuff possible? Anyone know if any blogs or experience of people who did this?

    Also since my main goal of this would be to travel, I’d be okay doing less than desirable work. Some people mentioned teaching English? I’d be open to going anywhere that is pretty developed/urbanized so anyone know of relatively easy gigs to get? Are service jobs/work visas for them difficult to get in other countries?

    Really any advice for this confused soul would be great!

    *Note I had posted something similar to this in the weekend thread and realized it fits better for Friday so if it sounds familiar that’s why!

    1. matcha123*

      I can’t give you much advice on your dream, but I will say that if you were looking to live in Japan or South Korea and work from an apartment, it would be incredibly difficult and I wouldn’t recommend doing it on a tourist visa.
      English teaching positions in both of those countries (and China/Taiwan/Hong Kong, I assume) have a year-long contract, which of course you could ditch after a few months, but it’s something a lot of people do, and I wouldn’t recommend it unless the place was very bad.

      Projects are hard to get locally even for people that live here. (Japan in my case)

      People who know more about the situation in Central/South America, Europe, Africa, Oceania might have more and better information.

    2. Kflemin3*

      Teaching English would probably be your best bet. As an American working in Belgium I think it would be very difficult to find service jobs here. The visa situation makes it really tricky, and most tourist visas in Europe prevent you from working during your stay. This is really a country by country thing, so it can vary.

      That said, I’ve heard Australia has a programme where you can apply for a 12-month work visa if you’re under 30, which, apparently, gives you the same right to work as citizens. May be worth googling. Good luck!

      1. voluptuousfire*

        ^ I looked at something similar myself when I was in my mid twenties. I think there was an agency that specialized in those visas but it was fairly expensive ($1k-1.5k) and back when I just did not have that kind of $.

      2. College Career Counselor*

        Teaching english is one possibility, but it’s more likely in eastern Europe, South America and Asia (than say western europe, where you’re more likely to have to have CELTA or other certification). Some programs (language corps) offer training and certification and for their flagship destinations/programs will offer guaranteed paid placement. Somewhat expensive on the starting end.

        @kfleming–I think BUNAC is the program you’re thinking of–working holidays in Ireland, Australia and New Zealand. (and other places, depending on your country of origin).

        @Sunflower–you may want to look at transitionsabroad for some additional possibilities/articles/options on being abroad. also, daveseslcafe and for additional esl stuff.

    3. ZSD*

      Personally, I’m opposed to people becoming English teachers (or other kinds of teachers) for reasons other than that they want to be teachers. I tried teaching ESL one summer, and it’s *hard*. Further, the students are paying you (or the school) because they want to learn English, and I think that people who make the commitment to teach them have the obligation to actually take the job seriously and know something about language pedagogy going in.
      Thus, Sunflower, while I think it would be awesome to have a job that lets you travel a lot, I would discourage you from doing it as an English teacher unless you know how to teach and care enough to do it well. (And if both those things describe you, then great!)

    4. Labratnomore*

      Look for some type of consulting job in your field. I know someone who loves to travel. When she got downsized from her job she took a year to travel the world, then found a job that consults with foreign countries on US regulations in her field. She now works in India and has a 6 week on, 2 week off schedule. Since she has no family she usually uses the 2 weeks to travel in Asia, rather than come home to the US. The company pays for travel to and from India every work period, and I am sure they are glad to pay for a more local plane ticket rather than one back to the US. If you look you never know what lucky break you might find out there. Good luck!

    5. Cee*

      Something I”ve been doing (and this may take you a while, as it’s been taking *me* a while), is to seek out opportunities at distributed companies. Basically, a distributed company is one where there is no central office, and everyone at the company works from home, or wherever they want. Google “distributed companies” with the quotes around it to find some blog posts with lists of companies that operate this way.

      1. Sunflower*

        This is super helpful(even if it takes a while). I’ve heard of these types of jobs but wasn’t really sure how to find them since I didn’t know distributed company was the term. Thanks!

    6. INTP*

      I don’t know if it’s a possibility in your industry but my ex would work contract jobs for a few months a year and travel the rest of it. The contract work paid well enough to cover plenty of travel with a frugal lifestyle. If a work-from-home opportunity came in while he was traveling, he’d set up somewhere cheap and work for awhile.

      I’ve taught English and found it very draining. The positions are also usually full-time. Unless you like the work or really want to live in one specific country for a full year, I would recommend not doing it just as a way to travel. It’s tough to get decently paid work in Europe as a US citizen because there are native English speaking EU citizens. The better pay will be in Asia (and the Middle East, but you need a master’s degree usually).

      1. Sunflower*

        I’m leaning towards what your ex did. What kind of work did he do? There are freelance opportunities in my field but I’ve never freelanced before so therefore I am a little worried about how often they come up.

        1. INTP*

          He was in software development (and when in the US, pretty much only worked in the bay area because of the higher pay rates).

    7. NatalieR*

      Some professional organizations or other groups hire planners solely to scope out new locations for their conferences. Basically, you travel to different resort/conference towns to meet with conference centers, the local Convention and Visitors’ Bureau, attractions, etc. and find places that are a good match to the group. Then (I think) you travel back to make the arrangements and eventually see the conference through.

      I have NO idea how to find a job like this, but I know they exist. Had I heard of that when I was younger and single (and mortgage-less), I would have been all over that.

      1. Dynamic Beige*

        I’ve never heard of event planners hiring people to do the scouting… most of the ones I know do the site inspection themselves. Usually there are at least two people who go (or more) and they are contracted to do the whole job. One of them is there from the Services side and their job is to negotiate the contracts, find local suppliers for things like ground transportation, check into what activities there are to do (how far away they are from the venue, for example). The other person is there to check things from a technical standpoint: is the ballroom large enough for the attendees and whatever staging may be required, are there things about the room that need to be taken into account (big low-hanging chandeliers as an example).

        This is usually done months ahead of when the actual conference is going to start and, depending on the job, from what I understand it is part of the process that determines the price. I mean, the client has a budget of $X for their conference and they want it to be in Y location (or occasionally multiple locations are suggested). The event planners may visit several hotels/resorts in Y location and come back with a list of suggestions and their recommendation based on price, location, availability for the client to decide upon. Sometimes, the client stipulates that they want to go to a certain venue and then it’s up to the event planners to make it work.

    8. Traveler*

      There is an entire industry built up around this, and tons of people who blog about it. I would start with Nomadic Matt if traveling to teach English is something you want to do – he has a book on teaching English around the world. Even if you don’t like him (or want to be a travel blogger which is his niche, its a good starting point). Also Pat Flynn has a podcast where he features people who are starting their own businesses and/or finding ways to make money that still allow for a flexible schedule/passive income. He is the one sane guy in a sea of snake oil peddlers.

  9. HigherEd Admin*

    Just a vent today: I am in the middle of an interview process that is a little frustrating. During the phone interview, my interviewer was more interested in telling me about himself and his career rather than learning about my qualifications for the roles. At one point, I had a question about the position and he shut me down with, “I have lots of things to ask you, so I don’t have time for questions.” Wow. I was then asked to write a short essay about a topic on which I have no training or information (and that’s not related to the job). When I asked if this was to be a part of the job, he told me it was just to get a feel for my writing style. Why not ask me to submit a writing sample then? Wouldn’t a better indicator of my writing style be when I’m writing about something on which I’m knowledgeable?

    I started reading reviews on Glassdoor about this company, and they have me a bit nervous. There are common complaints about below-market pay and poor middle management. Suggestions on how I address these topics in my next round interview?

    1. TotesMaGoats*

      Avoid the next round interview. That doesn’t sound like someone you’d want to work for. I would know, I worked for a guy like that.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        Either that or look at it as an interview training exercise, not a real interview, because do you really want to work for someone like that? Besides, it might be fun to get an offer just so you can say “No thanks, you’re…kind of a wack-job.”

    2. Sunflower*

      Was it HR or the hiring manager that interviewed you? If it’s HR, I wouldn’t let it weight down big on me but you could find a way to frame your concerns in another way like ‘how open is communication here? Do you welcome questions or is it more of a figure it out as you go’. If it’s the hiring manager, I’m not even sure how you could address it since he doesn’t have time for questions! I’m not sure I could work with someone who uttered “I have lots of things to ask you, so I don’t have time for questions.” unless it was phrased in a ‘sorry I’m kind of in a rush but there will be plenty of time for questions later I promise!’

      1. HigherEd Admin*

        I am not sure if it was the Hiring Manager, but it’s definitely someone within the department in which this role sits. I (strangely) have the HR screen next week.

    3. fposte*

      While it sounds generally pretty screwed up, I actually get the writing thing (if I understand the request correctly); they want to make sure it’s what you sound like unaided, and they want it to be on the same topic as other applicants so they can compare.

      1. HigherEd Admin*

        I see that, and would agree if the assignment was related to the job in any way. Let’s say this is a teapot designer job. Give me a prompt that relates (even vaguely!) to teapot design. Instead, the prompt had to do with say, mushroom cultivation. I just don’t know how to write clearly about mushroom cultivation when I don’t even know the lingo used to describe mushrooms or cultivating!

        1. fposte*

          I’d be tempted just to make stuff up. “It’s important in cultivating mushrooms to provide them with sufficient high-quality alcohol. Many fine strains of fungi have been lost to cheap malt liquor.”

        2. Colette*

          There are two advantages to having an unrelated topic – first of all, if some of the applicants are new grads or are coming from different fields, they won’t have the in-depth teapot knowledge of someone in that field, and secondly, it avoids people complaining that they did work for free.

          1. HigherEd Admin*

            Sure, totally can see that. In that case, I guess I’d rather the topic be something universally understood like, “write a blog entry on the benefits of exercise.”

    4. HR Manager*

      The interviewer sounds more problematic than the glassdoor reviews. Take what you read on glassdoor with a grain of salt, as the most vocal on glassdoor are often those who are fired up and have something very negative to say and so the responses can be skewed.

      With that being said, if you still want a next interview I would ask “I found a few reviews on glassdoor that have pointed to problems with xxxx.” How would you respond to those concerns? I wouldn’t bring up the pay issue — I have never found any company (ever) where employees feel “Yep, I’m paid exactly what I am worth or more.” Pay is one of those survey items on company satisfaction that never, ever have a strong score, and is virtually meaningless.

      1. HigherEd Admin*

        Thanks! That’s a great way to phrase it. (And agreed about the pay issue — I would never bring that up in the interview; it’s just something to keep in the back of my mind if I get to the offer stage.)

    5. hnl123*

      I had that happen on my most recent interview. It was SO short, he seemed indifferent and talked about himself mostly. I was sure I bombed the interview.
      Turns out I got the job, and turns out he’s a Great Boss, totally normal and reasonable.
      Maybe he’s bad at interviewing…?
      And I always take Glassdoor with a grain of salt.

  10. Katie the Fed*

    Anyone have any tips for getting through the work day when you have a persistent, low-level cold? I swear, everyone’s been sick. I’m so tired and I just want to sleep constantly this week. How do I get my energy up?

    1. Helen*

      Cayenne pepper helps me when I have a cold. Also there’s a tea called Tulsi that makes me feel better when I feel under the weather.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Anything spicy tends to boost the immune system. Cinnamon counts here.
        There are also herbal teas that might be helpful.

    2. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

      It’s just a band-aid, but I find that temporarily upping my caffeine intake (via green tea) is helpful

      1. Katie the Fed*

        ooh I have green tea here today. I’ll make some – I think I’m also dehydrated.

        I am so sick of winter!

        1. Tris Prior*

          Lots of water, too. I have a hard time getting just plain water down when it’s cold out; I drink lots of hot coffee and tea, which can be dehydrating and makes me feel worse and unable to think clearly.

          1. Katie the Fed*

            I think that might be it – I can tell I’m dehydrated, but I can’t seem to drink enough :(

        2. Not So NewReader*

          If you think you are dehydrated, then sipping plain water all day will be helpful, of course. But cold water can help with organ function. The way that plays out for me is I down a big glass of cold water and a few hours later I feel more energy.

          1. Katie the Fed*

            That’s interesting – in China they think it’s better to drink hot water for health. But I’m not Chinese so I’m cool with cold water.

            1. Not So NewReader*

              Which might actually work for them. I have a theory that different peoples in different regions need different things. (Let’s see how many times I can use the word different in a sentence. ugh.) But if you start thinking about climate, terrain, indigenous vegetables/meats that are unique to an area, then it starts to make a little more sense. It could be people located in China do need hot water for health.

              I have been seeing a lot of comments about people with Northern European ancestry (which describes me) and their unique needs. It seems to mesh well with what I am experiencing in my own health.
              What we don’t know about regional needs is massive.

    3. Rebecca*

      I take pseudoephedrine. A lot of it, washed down with Diet Mountain Dew. I’m not joking. When I get a cold, and thankfully it’s maybe once a year or every two years, that’s the only thing that works for me. The fake stuff you can buy OTC doesn’t help, Dayquil makes me sleepy, and while my cold still lasts as long as normal, at least I don’t suffer as much during the work day.

      1. Rat Racer*

        Oof – that sounds like a cruel thing to do to your body – although if it doesn’t rebound and your system can handle it, more power to you!

        Katie – can you work from home? I worked from home while fighting the flu and something about being in my PJs with tea and coffee made it more bearable. Cancelled my business trip to Dallas though – no WAY was I getting on a plane!

        1. Katie the Fed*

          No, definitely can’t work from home :(

          I took Wednesday off and just laid around the house like a sloth, but I didn’t feel sick enough to actually stay out much more

        1. Erin*

          That’s my go to for colds as well. I also drink a lot of fruit juice, which I normally avoid when I’m not sick.

      2. YourCdnFriend*

        Pseudoephedrine is probably the best decongestant. But, some people (me and my whole fam) have REALLY strong reactions. I once had to call my partner to take me home and tell my boss I was leaving because I was stoned out of my mind (on a half dose, daytime dose) and it wasn’t a fun stoned.

        1. Katie the Fed*

          I’m impressed that you guys can take pseudoephedrine – I feel like I’m tripping balls on that stuff!

      3. SickRecentGrad*

        Wow, interesting, I’m on DayQuil right now and I keep feeling alternately super-wired-awake and then suddenly sleepy. The coffee isn’t helping to regulate my energy either haha. But then I’m kind of like this even when not sick. DayQuil didn’t used to have a decongestant, but they’ve reformulated it and it has a decongestant now. I actually preferred it with no decongestant because I don’t get congested usually and now my nose runs more.

      4. Rex*

        In my experience, pseudoephedrine is only good when you need to get through something short term, it’s not a good solution if you need to keep going longer than a day because of rebound. I recommend lots of ginger tea and Tylenol or ibuprofen as needed during the day, add benadryl or cough syrup at night depending on your symptoms. Hot showers help, too.

      5. themmases*

        I do pseudoephedrine too, and then find something really spicy to eat while I wait for it to work. It clears out my head pretty quickly, but without making my sinuses painfully dry like they can be with nasal spray. Nasal spray (the medicated kind) works great but I now only use if it I’m unbearably congested when I need to sleep or something.

        Then I have as much tea as I want, all day. I get a few varieties so I can switch them up if I start to get bored with tea. The combination of plenty of tea + cold medicine more than makes up for being tired yet unable to have coffee. Plus you can breathe the steam, which feels great.

        Also, get a few things that you will eat whether because they’re a treat or because they are mild and comforting. I discovered with my most recent cold that just because I have no appetite doesn’t mean I won’t be cranky and unproductive due to low blood sugar.

    4. Sunflower*

      If you can get up and walk around more than usual that can help. Second the caffeine and green tea suggestion.

    5. matcha123*

      I go to the bathroom and do stretches, dancing and zumba. It might look strange, but it gets the blood flowing and my energy levels up. Plus it helps fight off boredom.

    6. kristinyc*

      This is a long shot, but if you happen to be in NYC, there’s a juice bar called “Juice Generation,” and they have a drink called the Cold Warrior. It’s tea, orange juice, echinacea, ginger, zinc, and agave nectar (maybe a few other things…). It’s delicious and soothes a sore throat. Whenever I feel a cold coming on, I drink those for a few days, and I don’t get sick. I think there’s a recipe online if you google “Cold Warrior Juice Generation”

      1. Katie the Fed*

        Oooh yum – i’ll have to make a batch of that. I have most of the ingredients already. thanks!

    7. LCL*

      Dayquil, one tablet as needed.
      If you are in the Pacific Northwest, pollen/allergy season has started because of the warm weather, tree pollen allergies are a real thing.

    8. Samantha*

      Get as much sleep as you can at night, and make sure you’re drinking lots of fluids. Dehydration will make you feel worse.

    9. rek*

      Any way to use your lunch break to take a short nap? When I’m really tired – eyes closing by themselves tired – I’ll set my phone alarm for however much time I have and close my eyes. Unfortunately, where I work is really limited on private places you would feel safe dozing off, but my car with the sunshade up (and the heat on in the winter) works in a pinch. If you have an office where you can close the door, you’ve got it made!
      Other than the nap, stay hydrated and make sure you eat something. Adding fuel to your internal fire can help make you feel more alert.
      Hope you feel better soon!

      1. SickRecentGrad*

        +1 to the nap. I’ve definitely napped in my car a few times, even when not sick. Make sure you bundle up though. I don’t do it in the summer because there’s only so much I can cool my car down, it’s like a greenhouse in there.

    10. danr*

      Can you take a day off to just sleep and have some good comfort food? Monday is probably not work day, so dedicate it to doing nothing. When you’re at work, take a real break to drink something hot. Hold the cup and breathe in the steam. It does you no good going cold next to the computer while you’re doing something.
      Hope you feel better soon.

    11. Xay*

      I’ve been on Dayquil and strong, hot, black tea for the last week trying to shake a cold. I would also recommend lots of water throughout the day.

    12. Lore*

      I third (or fourth?) the recommendation to stay hydrated. It helps more than you can imagine. I have a really hard time with pseudoephedrine and other cold medicines like it, but when I’m really clogged, sometimes half a dose can’t be avoided–but I’ve also found Mucinex to be effective at getting through that “I’m not actively sniffling and dripping but my head still feels full and foggy” phase. Also tea with honey and lemon–covers the caffeine and/or hydration issues and also helps with gunk-in-the-throat. And finally–when I’m sick, taking a proper lunch break seems more important than ever, both because I tend to have a low appetite when I’m sick and forcing myself to eat something is necessary, but also allowing myself even a half hour of mental down time definitely helps get through the afternoon.

      1. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

        I’ll second (fifth?) that. I’m a huge water-drinker, so I don’t normally worry about being hydrated, but for some reason I don’t keep up when I’m sick.

        1. SickRecentGrad*

          Yeah I drink a lot of water too, but when sick I don’t drink as much even though I actually need more water from the mouth-breathing, incessant mucus production, and random sweating.

    13. Olive Hornby*

      Advil Cold & Sinus. The pseudoephedrine clears out your head, and the ibuprofen helps with the low-level achiness that makes you feel so rundown when you have a cold.

    14. Elizabeth West*

      Alka-Seltzer Plus Cold (effervescent tablets) helps me with symptoms when I don’t want to be draggy. It’s not any good for coughs, but copious amounts of green tea with plenty of honey and lemon can take care of that. The tea also keeps me awake.

      1. cuppa*

        I swear by Alka-Seltzer, too. It’s the only thing that helps me.
        Also, I was sick a few weeks ago, and even though I thought I kept up on the fluids, I was parched. It is important to keep hydrated. Beyond that, lots of sleep/rest in your off hours, and a small treat to keep you perked up (helps if it has sugar in it).
        I like soup, too! It’s warm, hearty, hydrating, and has vegetables in it.

    15. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      Two things:

      1) This doesn’t help you now, but at the first sign of cold symptoms, take one ibuprofen and one chlorpheniramine pill (an allergy pill; brand name Chlor-Trimeton, among others). It significantly shortens the duration of a cold and lessens the symptoms. I have no idea where I first encountered that idea (an article somewhere), but it’s worked for me for years.

      2) Emergen-C! I use this instead of caffeine in general. It perks me up quickly and effectively.

    16. Blue Anne*

      We have a black market of different flavours of Lemsip and similar medicated hot drinks going on in our office. Strong stuff, definitely helps me.

    17. Blue_eyes*

      I always take Emergen-C or Airborne. Drink lots of water. Take ibuprofen (it can help un-inflame your sinuses thus letting things drain better if being stuffy is one of your symptoms). Drink Odwalla (or Naked or Trader Joe’s) green juice. Try an OTC nasal decongestant spray, or it shouldn’t be hard to get a Rx for Flonase, but that won’t help right now since you’re already at work. Lots of tea.

    18. voluptuousfire*

      Using a saline solution (whether a netipot at home or a squeezy spraybottle at work ) to irrigate your nasal passages. Do this in the bathroom, of course. Having a stuffy nose makes me feel dopey and tired. I also vouch for psuedoephedrine. I find it’s the one thing that truly works for me.

      But to echo everyone else: lots of water, tea (or if you’re sick of tea, hot water with lemon), mucinex (or target’s brand which is a *lot* cheaper than the actual brand), etc.

    19. puddin*

      Get a massage at lunch, tell the practitioner that you are trying to keep energy while getting over a cold. She or He will know what to do. :)

      Hope you feel better soon, lingering colds are stoopy.

      1. AnotherTeacher*

        Ditto on the massage. A good therapist can help with lymph node drainage. Nettie pots are good, too.

        A few moths ago I had a cold like this. Aside from all of the good advice you’re getting for treating it, I recommend tackling boring/menial tasks you’ve set aside (if any). You can feel like you’re accomplishing things without expending too much energy.

    20. Algae*

      Thai Hot and Sour Soup. I think it’s best if you can find one that’s Chicken based, rather than Pork. You get a lot of the benefits of Chicken Noodle Soup with the extra punch of the goodies found in spicy peppers to clear things out.

      And Sudafed.

    21. Snafu Warrior*

      Breathe Easy tea by Traditional Medicinals. Just brew it like it says in the directions. It consistently clears up head/chest congestion for me, and it tastes ok (but not GREAT). I alternate that with emergen-c.

    22. Jazzy Red*

      Ice cream. It always helps me when I have a cold. I don’t know why, but when all else fails, ice cream does the job.

    23. GOG11*

      My asthma meds have caused a low level fever for about three weeks (among other cold like symptoms) and I’ve been getting extra sleep, staying hydrated and resting as much as possible outside of work so I’ve got more energy when I am at work. I’ve been making work easier by breaking everything down into steps on my to do list so when I’m tired and having trouble focusing and I space out I can see right where I left off on paper.

    24. little Cindy Lou who*

      It’s absolutely disgusting, but when I’m literally brain-dead tired I grab a redbull and sip it over the course of several hours. It really does push back the fog and give me enough energy to be truly productive. I only ever drink that crap when nothing else works to get me going, which is coming off a cold or after working several very late nights in a row to meet a deadline, etc

  11. Otter box*

    After 2 years of searching, I start a new job on Tuesday! Thanks to Alison and all the commenters here for your advice! This is such a fantastic resource. Thank you all!

        1. Otter box*

          And FYI Alison when I posted that using Chrome on my Android phone, it popped up with an ad that automatically took me to the Uber app on the Play store.

    1. Golden Yeti*

      Congrats! I’ve been searching for years myself, and posts like this give me hope. :)

      I hope it’s everything you are hoping for!

  12. Helen*

    Is it advisable to speak negatively of a former job if you don’t say which job it was?

    I have an interview next week. During the phone interview, the hiring manager spoke about how the person in this post would need to deal with some “strong personalities” who are less than cooperative. I can deal with the occasional difficult colleague, but I’m worried that what she might have been hinting at a difficult work environment. Would it be okay to say something like, “I’m fine working with the occasional difficult colleague, but I had a previous job where being uncooperative was a systemic problem and it really made me unhappy, and it’s important that I don’t take another job like that. Could you talk more about that?”

    For context, it’s a (non-recruitor) job at a staffing agency. It’s my understanding that many recruitors don’t like their jobs (and that there’s high turnover) which adds to my fear that everyone might be miserable and combative.

    1. Amtelope*

      Just speaking for myself, if I described a job opening that way, I would mean that, yes, it was a difficult work environment dealing with difficult people, and I would need someone thick-skinned and assertive for the job. I think they’ve given you a strong hint that taking this job means working with combative people; it’s up to you to decide whether that’s something you’re up for.

      Or you can probe for more details, but I would just … not be easily reassured; “strong personalities who are less than cooperative” pretty strongly implies to me “people you will be working with (either other staff or clients) are argumentative and dysfunctional, and we need the person in this role to handle that.”

      1. INTP*

        I agree with this. It’s a given that any job will involve an unpleasant coworker or two. When they talk about it up front, it’s something they’ve lost other employees too, and is probably either systemic or it’s your particular boss (which would make it systemic for you).

        I’ve been asked about my ability to handle difficult personalities before when it wasn’t a crappy environment, but in that case it was specifically the clients or candidates and they were clear about that. (It was internal customer service at a tech company as well as recruiting with an agency that handles a lot of tech and basically both times I was told, “You’ll be interacting with a lot of engineers and they can be really difficult. Can you handle that?” No offense to engineers here, I’m just repeating!)

      2. AdAgencyChick*

        Seriously. Recruiters are usually trying to present the company in a flattering light, so if the recruiter feels the need to mention them — that tells me there are enough that it’s a significant issue.

        1. Amtelope*

          Yeah, when I think about the past job opening that I would have described that way, the honest translation of “You’ll be working with strong personalities who are less than cooperative” would have been “We have lost three people in two years because they couldn’t deal with client contact person X, who is uncooperative, hates everything we do, and is a mean bully who has made previous people in this job cry. Management knows X is awful and will have your back, but dealing with X is the job we’re hiring for.” If that’s not the kind of situation you’d be cool with walking into, I wouldn’t take this job.

    2. Rat Racer*

      I would also recommend probing for more details and for examples. In my experience, it depends SO MUCH on whether management has your back. I can deal with difficult people all day as long as I have it in my head that my team (including my boss) is the island of sanity. However, if your boss is part of the crazy equation, then run, run run for the hills, I say.

    3. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I think your proposed response starts out fine, but I would recommend de-emphasizing your own feelings about it, because it doesn’t add anything to the conversation, your goal is really just to get more information. I suggest something more like: “I’m fine working with the occasional difficult colleague, but I had a previous job where being uncooperative was a systemic problem and it really impacted productivity and morale. Could you give me a little more detail about the problem?”

    4. Judy*

      Is there any way to speak with someone in your network that knows the environment? This is how I see linked in being the most use. For my current job, when I had an interview, I checked linked in and noted that a former co-worker’s son worked here. I arranged to talk with him over the weekend about culture issues, which eased my mind about some of my concerns about moving to a smaller firm.

    5. CrazyCatLady*

      I think that framing it as strong personalities who are less than cooperative is a nice way of saying it’s a difficult work environment. That’s good information to have up front. I would definitely ask for an example of a situation you’d be likely to encounter and go from there.

      I had an interviewer present me with the same information and I ended up taking the job. It was far more difficult than I envisioned and the strong personalities were impossible for me to deal with. I ended up leaving after a short time there. Some people may be well-suited for that type of environment, though!

    6. Lamb*

      You mention you’d be up for “the occasional difficult colleague”, but this sounds like several colleagues who are regularly difficult. To me that sounds like more than you are saying you are up for (but that is my interpretation).

    7. Jazzy Red*

      I did take a job once when the HR person described my boss as that type of person. I now describe her as my psycho-boss-from-hell.

      HR will underplay the severity of this. Even though you think they’re being open about these people, it will be worse than they suggest.


  13. Sunflower*

    I was writing a thank you note today and going through the archives- had no idea thank you notes were so controversial! I definitely send one to the hiring manager but what about sending one to the person who set up the interview? This time it was an HR Genralist who I had a phone screening with but sometimes it’s an assistant who I don’t have much correspondence with. Do you send a thank you note to them or does that come off too much like a**kissing?

    1. TotesMaGoats*

      I’d lean towards just the person you had the in person interview with, at this point. After the phone screen would have been the time to send the thank you email to the screener, I think.

      1. Sunflower*

        After she sent the interview confirm email, i wrote her back ‘thanks’ so I guess that would have served as the thank you?

        1. TotesMaGoats*

          I’m in complete agreement with AAM that a genuine thank you is always appropriate.

          If you sent a nice thank you after the phone screen, then that counts in my book.

  14. Kate*

    What are some sites to look for legitimate work from home jobs?
    I know We Work Remotely already.

    Thank you!

    1. puddin*

      E-Lance is another. I hire from there and they do a nice job in my opinion. But you are a ‘contractor’ in this scenario, not an employee of a company who is then working from home.

    2. katamia*

      I like and (99% of the leads aren’t paret-specific) for job leads. If you have an education background (and possibly even if you don’t), Pearson and ETS have work-at-home test grading jobs.

    3. SlickWilly*

      Try the normal job boards and add the keyword “remote” to your search. I found my current job that way (searching and it is 100% work-from-home.

  15. TotesMaGoats*

    My boss is driving me crazy. So, the first part of this is just a vent because I know there is nothing I can do to change it.

    I swear he talks just to fill up space and because he likes the sound of his voice. We’re in conference calls and the only thing he really needs to say is a simple reply. Like “yes, we can do that.” Instead we get 3 minutes of extra words that mean the same thing. I think it’s because he’s really insecure in his position and he thinks saying so much makes him sound smart. It just makes me want to tear out my hair.

    The second part is that he talks to me like I’m an idiot and don’t know how to do my job. My chocolate teapot factories perform the best of all of his factories and I’m bagging major partnerships with chocolate teapot organizations that make us look really good. No one else is doing that. Then when I ask permission (because even at the director level I have no autonomy in the areas that I should), to host a career fair for a major state agency he asks for a plan for how to promote. As though, as I wouldn’t know to put together a plan in the first place. I used to reply with something that indicates that I already have a plan but found it didn’t make a change. He wants to tell me to do my job. It gives him power. Since it’s a power play, is there anything I can do to convince him that he doesn’t need to tell me things like that? The one time I preempted the “you need a plan” comment with an actual plan, there was no acknowledgment and the plan was basically panned because it didn’t have the detail he wanted. Even though I specifically asked for what details he wanted. And others who saw the plan thought it was as complete as I could possibly get a first draft.

    On the upside, went looking for open positions today and found a great opportunity. So, since I have literally nothing to do today, I’m working on my cover letter.

    1. NJ Anon*

      I had a boss too who liked to talk so he could let us all know how smart he was. We would literally fall asleep in meetings as he droned on. Unfortunately no advice but to look elsewhere on the second issue. That would drive me nuts!

      1. TotesMaGoats*

        What’s worse is that it seems to ebb and flow. Sometimes we are so in sync with each other and just rocking along. Lots of mutual respect. How it should be. I get treated like a colleague with a decade of valuable experience. Then on other days, usually after he’s had to hear alot of the latest awesome thing that I’ve done, he gets heavy handed. And that sounded horrible. I’ve been having a really good couple of months, “production”-wise at my factories. I’m sure that something will go wrong eventually but right now everything is wonderful.

        1. Dynamic Beige*

          Of course he gets heavy handed, you’re a star player. A star player who could probably do his job (and possibly better than he can) and that’s a scary thought. So then it’s time to rock your boat and do something to ensure that doesn’t happen and make sure you stay in your place. Or at least that’s my take on it.

          And no, you will never win with this guy. He’ll have to leave or you will.

          1. esra*

            Yep, I had a manager just like this. They can’t control their insecurities and it comes out in the worst ways.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          The last time I saw this it was jealousy/feeling threatened.

          I hate to say butter him up. But maybe think about things that you can genuinely compliment him about.

          The rule of thumb I have heard is that people need to hear five positive things and they will then realize you complimented them once. Yes, you say five things and they hear one thing. I tend to agree that this can be pretty normal for most people.

          Again, I hate saying this because it sounds like brown-nosing. But sometimes random compliments help to ease things. For myself, I don’t say anything that I do not mean. With someone else, I would probably not mention some of the good points. But if I can see a situation building where the boss/cohort seems insecure/tense/whatever, I try to say truthful things more often to help this person along.

          I grew up in a family where it was assumed you knew you were good at this or that. Compliments did not come around often. This could be his background. Compounding matters if people around you are talking about what a great job you are doing, he could be feeling fatigued or cranky because of the free-flowing compliments about you.

          I do agree with you that he is hard to work with. And it is not your fault at all, but you are stuck dealing with the situation, anyway.

    2. Ann Furthermore*

      Oh god, you so have my sympathy! People like that are the absolute worst, aren’t they?

      I work for a subsidiary of a huge company, and I’m a member of a team that does ERP implementations and support. At the start of a project a couple years ago, some alleged IT experts from the parent company wanted us to present an overview of our project plan, deliverables, requirements and so on.

      They requested that the meeting start at 7:00 AM. It is an enormous hassle for me to get anywhere that early, because I have to make alternate daycare drop-off arrangements, get my daughter up early, and so on. So I made the herculean effort to be there on time, and then these 2 jackasses strolled in 40 MINUTES LATE with their Starbucks cups, talking about how bad traffic was.

      So the PM and some other people presented the project plan, deliverables, requirements. So these 2 guys start talking to us like we’re complete morons, blessing us with their wisdom and giving us idiotic “advice” like, “I’d really recommend that you review your requirements with your users,” even though that’s a standard practice on every project, and we had done that months ago. It was a whole day of that. What’s so frustrating is that even though we’re a pretty small company compared to the parent, the things our team have done with the ERP system is lightyears ahead of what they’ve done. But we had to sit there and listen to them pontificate all day long, telling us all kinds of things we already knew. OMG.

      At 9:15, someone suggested a break and said, “OK, let’s meet back here in 10 minutes.” One of these guys piped up and treated us to a 2 minute dissertation about how it would be better to tell everyone to be back by 9:25, because it was more precise to state a specific time. But by that time it was 9:17, so I timed my return to occur at 9:27.

      When I went to pick up my daughter that night, I was telling the daycare lady that I’d been subjected to an all-day meeting that was along the lines of her having to put up with someone from the state coming in to evaluate her daycare, making suggestions like, “Have you ever thought about having the kids do crafts?” and then stand there and smile and say, “What a fantastic idea!”

      A couple days later, I was venting to my director about what a giant waste of time it was, and he said, “Ann, that is just the way the world works. We have to stand there and smile and say, ‘Oh, thank you, great idea!’ We can’t say, ‘Yes we already know that, f**k you!'” LOL.

      1. You pour yourself over me like the sun through the blinds*

        Yeah, you both have my complete sympathy on this.

        I don’t know if it’s helpful or even particularly insightful, but two observations I’ve made over the years:

        1. When the boss puts me in some kind of no-win situation (like the plan you developed already, but when you gave it to him, it didn’t have the right details), it’s because I’m effectively being used by him as a form of therapy. Which doesn’t make it _right_ – but I’ll usually feel a bit better for realizing that I’m looking at The Big Picture versus getting all reactive and emotional about it.

        2. Sometimes work is really theater. If you think about the big project review as a drama, in which everyone has their part to play … Again, it doesn’t make it right, but maybe understanding how these people are fulfilling roles – as in, as corporate big shots, they *have* to provide you with their esteemed advice and feedback and suggestions and approval.

        *sigh* I realize that this isn’t especially useful in any proactive manner. For me, it’s like ‘armor’ in a RPG: it helps me absorb the hits without taking too much actual damage.

        Last thing: your boss, or some corporate big shot, is not superior to you outside the context of your job. Years ago, I had a guy move in down the street who was a VP in my company, in a different division. It was interesting to view this guy as a neighbor (and not a corporate superior). I won’t disparage him too badly, but as neighbors go, let’s just say he was unimpressive.

        (And while I didn’t antagonize him, I could tell he was unhappy that I did not kow-tow to him).

    3. Golden Yeti*

      No advice, just empathy. I have a supervisor like that, too. Meetings that should take no longer than an hour drag out to 2 or 3 because this supervisor has to give an opinion about everything, or explain things we already know. Sometimes extra information really isn’t needed; I don’t need the whole story, just tell me what I need to do my job.

      1. Beancounter in Texas*

        Sympathy totes here too. My boss likes to host “Tuesday Morning Meetings” on any given morning or afternoon (and insists on retaining the Tuesday morning name). He even suggested once that we host the meeting at 10:30am every Tuesday as a means to ensure we gather, but the reality is that he takes an hour to prepare his notes for the meeting, and he does that when he feels like it. We don’t encourage it, because he just reads his notes to us. And his notes are updates of data from the previous week, when a monthly update is more relevant. We’ve had two employees fall asleep in these meetings. I always bring coffee, if only to have something to do.

    4. ThursdaysGeek*

      No advice, just sympathy. I worked with a boss years ago who a friend described as having “diarrhea of the mouth.” He would have hours long status meetings where he would tell us things we already knew and then tell us things we didn’t need to know and weren’t interested in. It was such a challenge staying awake and looking interested.

  16. Ali*

    So I’m not sure what’s going on with my job right now. I posted here a week or two ago that I was nervous my boss was replacing me behind my back since there was a job opening for my title. As it turns out, though, we had our team meeting the other day and one of the people on the team is getting promoted to help with a new division in the company. So I guess they’re not replacing me just yet after all.

    However, I was also told three weeks ago that my boss would take more formal action against me because he still wasn’t happy with my work. He hasn’t bothered to follow up since, and my other supervisor, who’s just a more senior member of our team that isn’t as high level, hasn’t mentioned it either. I’m really confused about what to think about my employment status, so I’m just trying to relax and keep going to work, because God knows I don’t want to be the one to ask where my next formal warning is.

    I am looking to switch out of journalism into a more marketing communications based role, so if anyone has advice for that path, it would be appreciated. I edit right now and don’t want to be an editor anymore. I would like to use my new-found social media skills (though my other job largely has me doing Twitter work and I’ve dabbled in Pinterest and Instagram) and get back into a job that involves more writing, though I also know there’s probably some other skills I need to pick up. Where should I start to get some foundation?

    1. Lizzy May*

      No advice but I’m thinking about you. Feeling insecure in your job can be so stressful. Hopefully someone with experience in the field will have something to add.

  17. CruiseAlong*


    How do you survive in a very clique-y office? No one has been unkind or unwelcoming but I’ve been here a year and still don’t feel very included. I think my coworkers have just been together so long and they’re at different points of their lives than I am that I can’t join the group so easily (I’m the youngest and without kids, everyone else is older with families).

    How do I keep my sanity when feeling so isolated here?

    1. Bend & Snap*

      It’s hard. I think ultimately you have to either suck it up and think of work as work and not a place where you’re going to get social interaction, or move on.

      I chose to move on when this happened to me.

    2. HeyNonnyNonny*

      I know it’s not super helpful, but I’ll tell my husband/fill-in-the-blank loved one when something like this happens at work, and he gives me a big squeeze. Basically, spending time with someone who DOES want to spend time with you helps take the sting out of other slights.

    3. OhNo*

      Is there anyone there that you share an interest with? I don’t mean a group or a clique, I mean a single person. If so, try chatting with them one-on-one a few times – stop by their cube on their break to ask if they saw the latest episode of some TV show, or whatever kind of interest you share.

      Oftentimes, I’ve found that getting in with one person is the easiest method to getting in with a group. After you build up a rapport with one, they will usually make an effort to include you in group things, which will help you get in with others. Plus, even short chats with people throughout the day can help with that isolated feeling.

      Also, remember that everyone in the office is only human. Unless you work with a bunch of jerks, it’s unlikely that they are leaving you out on purpose. It’s more likely that they are just busy with their own social circle, and don’t notice that you are being left out. It still sucks, but it’s definitely a fixable problem.

      1. OriginalEmma*

        This is a great suggestion. It was one way I broke the ice for myself at my old job, where I was new (to the working world and this job in particular) and had appeared to others as rude (because I’m a shy, head-down, mumble “hello”, person when in a new environment). I would try to find common ground with individual folks and happily, I did it enough to feel part of the group.

        These folks, eventually, became that quintessential group of coworkers I wanted to put in my pocket, and bring to every job I ever had after.

    4. Vancouver Reader*

      For me, I just take it in stride. I am a loner and so I tend not to talk to people much anyway. I bring books to read at lunch, or my knitting. If you have a portable hobby like knitting, you can take it to work and that could be a conversation starter.

    5. Rex*

      Keep being friendly and open of course, but also think about widening your circle. Maybe you don’t connect with anyone in your department, but are there other departments where there might be someone you can click with? Someone in an org you work with frequently? Someone in the same building?

    6. NowProwl*

      I’ve also been the youngest and without kids, but it does come down to finding the same interests. What got me was doing some random invitations for food (hey, we’re going to blank, wanna come?) or digging around when you say ‘hi’ in the kitchen to see if you have the same interests. Food makes the world go round.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      People love to talk about themselves. Learn something about each person in the office. Nancy has a baby llama. Sheila just became a grandmother. Bob got an award last week. Inquire about their thing that they have going on.

      It takes a while, but they will notice you more and notice the things that are of interest to you. It’s starts out slowly. One day a person asks, “Did you have any trouble getting in to work with all this bad weather?” That sounds like a general question but that is also showing an interest and including you. So don’t skate by little questions like this. “I had an okay ride in, I just got new tires and I am pretty happy with them. How was your drive?” See, you throw a tidbit of information out and they can either ask you about your new tires or they can talk about their drive in, also. If you do this routinely, it will build on itself.

      It’s hard to include people who you don’t know. And, unfairly, the onus seems to be on the newer person to learn about the established people first. Then, after a bit the established people start to take more of an interest and start to include the new person more often. Any new job I have had, I have found this usually works this way.

      1. AnotherFed*

        This is a great way to work on improving things. Obviously, people are at work to work and hopefully not there to socialize, so it can sometimes take a long time for these little conversations to add up to a solid relationship. Just make sure that you’re out to build camaraderie with your coworkers, not make your coworkers the major part of your social circle (I’m not saying this is what you are doing, just that some new grads, especially moving to a new area, try to make coworkers into replacement dormmates/classmates).

        One other thing to note – when you’re young, new to the job, and not long out of school, time feels a lot slower than it does later, especially if later is once you’ve assumed more than a full person’s worth of work AND have kids. Coworkers may honestly just not realize how long you’ve been there.

  18. Bend & Snap*

    Any tips on recharging to combat burnout? I’m an introvert having a rough time personally (divorce) and am running 100mph professionally. My boss just suggested I take a couple of days off.

    I have a toddler so can’t really go anywhere, but I need to use two days to really refresh and come back bright eyed and bushy tailed.

    How do the AMA acolytes overcome burnout?

    1. GOG11*

      It’s good that your boss is supporting you in taking some time away to recharge. I’m recently divorced and my job has picked up speed/intensity recently and it’s definitely worn me down – I can definitely empathize and it’s not an easy spot to be in.

      What do you normally do to recharge? (Preferably something that isn’t an activity you solely did with your soon to be ex – that may just drain you more). Is there something you’ve been wanting to try? A show you could binge watch? Could you give yourself permission to stay in and work on something soothing that works different brain muscles than your job? Also, if a baby sitter would be possible, even for a little while, maybe that could help if it means nobody needs anything from you for a while.

      Take care. I hope you’re able to get some good R and R.

    2. Katie the Fed*

      When I’m struggling with burnout, I do best when I have something else to focus on. Usually for me burnout happens when my job is all I have to focus on – so that’s a good time to start a home improvement project, a new class or workout program, or something like that. Just something to distract me and make work not seem like the be all/end all of my life. The last time I was super burnt out I got a dog – made me leave work at a reasonable time and think about something else. :)

      Good luck – I hope you get a little peace!

    3. Rat Racer*

      Is the toddler going to be at daycare during the few days off? Because I know for myself that watching my kids solo for a couple of days is not a good way to recharge (I find it much more exhausting than work).

      If I were you, I would indulge in all my favorite “take care of self” things. For me, that would be trail runs, HBO, the New Yorker and take-out for dinner. To each her own though, right? Sounds like a really rough patch – sending good vibes your way….

      1. Tiffy the Fed... Contractor*

        Agreed. The only time I get to relax after work is when my 2.5 year old is in bed and that doesn’t always happen because, you know, chores. Is there anyone who can watch your toddler for you? Family, babysitter, friends, neighbor?

        As a fellow introvert, my recharging involves spending time in a cozy (and clean, because I can’t relax in clutter) place watching a movie or reading a book with an ordered in delicious meal.

        Best wishes to you.

    4. Jules*

      I tell my husband to send our toddler to daycare and stay at home to catch up on shows/movies/games/sloth around. He is an introvert and hates going out so this works to wind him down. We all have moments where you need time out from the world’s demands. For me, I’d send the toddler to school and go to a library or bookstore to catch up on the stuff I missed while working gazillion hours and taking care of the family. It doesn’t have to be a vacation, taking some ‘me time’ helps too.

      For long term, try shifting your hours. I am amazed at how my stress level changed when I started my day earlier at work and finish early too. I shifted it by one hour so that I have some quiet prep time before the office madness decends. I liked finishing early too since I am on the road before the rest of the office ends and I am in my driveway before the full on traffic starts. It also gives me extra time to stop at the store on days that I need to without cutting into my night routine. I tried starting late and finishing late and found that it doesn’t suit my body clock.

    5. Sarah Nicole*

      Do something for yourself, Band & Snap! I do not have any children, so I know I’m not one to be able to understand trying to take time for yourself when you do have a young one at home. But is there anyone at all who may be able to babysit for you even for just a few hours for this couple of days?

      If so, go outdoors, reconnect with an old friend, or go to yoga! Yoga is what really helps recharge me – I work FT plus a PT job and am trying to start my own business on the side. I feel burnt out all the time unfortunately, and just taking that hour or two to get in better touch with myself makes a big difference to me. I know it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but this works for me. There are also great videos on youtube, like Yoga with Adriene. If you can’t get away, but perhaps your little one is quietly playing or taking a nap, you may be able to sneak in some you time. Good luck!

      1. Ann Furthermore*

        Yes to yoga. It really helps with my stress, plus I sleep better too. I’ve got an app on my tablet called Daily Yoga, and I do a 20 minute routine every morning, and try to hit a class once or twice a week. I’m pretty hooked.

        1. Sarah Nicole*

          Oh I’ve seen that app! I think some people think you have to get to a studio. I do prefer it, honestly, just because I like to have the instruction. But you can get a lot of the benefits at home and in shorter sessions.

          1. Ann Furthermore*

            I was talking about yoga with a work friend the other day, she’s thinking about giving it a try. She was going to try an app, but I advised her to go to classes for awhile to get the hang of it and learn what some of the more common positions are. If you’ve never done it, and you’re trying to follow along to someone telling you to do chair, warrior, pigeon, etc, and you don’t know what that is, it would be hard. And annoying. Not the point of yoga at all. :)

            The Daily Yoga app is either $5 per month or $30 per year. I looked around for a free one at first, but this one is much nicer. There are a ton of routines you can download, for all sorts of things: weight loss, arms, legs, help with sleeping, morning yoga — tons. So I think it’s a good deal.

            1. Sarah Nicole*

              Yes, agreed. I can do videos or apps now because I know most of the positions well enough, but beginners should try to get into a few classes if they can afford it – I live in SoCal and studios around here can be very expensive.

              Anyway, Bend & Snap, sorry to have hijacked your thread here! I was going to mention that if there is a studio around you that offers any restorative yoga classes, you should try that if you can. Most poses would be easy enough for a beginner and they truly are restorative. I went to one recently feeling super burnt out and having problems in other areas of life, and I came out of it feeling pretty clean – just 75 minutes did that. I was amazed.

    6. Ann Furthermore*

      Sorry to hear about your divorce. That is really a hard thing to go through.

      Since you work, I’m assuming that you already have daycare arrangements for your toddler. Keep using it for a few days while you relax and have some time to yourself. Go to the spa, do some binge watching on Netflix, etc. Even better, if things aren’t too contentious with your soon-to-be ex, could you ask him to take care of your child for a few days? Or if the grandparents live close by, could your little one stay with them for a few days?

      As a fellow introvert, and as the mother of a 6 year old, for me, nothing is more relaxing and refreshing than extended solitude. Next month, I’m travelling for a 2 week testing event. I’m going to stay through the weekend, since it would be kind of dumb to fly home Friday night and turn around and fly back out Sunday. 2 days of complete alone time. I cannot wait. Plus, I’ve been insanely busy, and I’ll need some down time. I’m into the last 90 days of this project from hell, plus I somehow ended up as the chairperson for the fundraising auction for my daughter’s school, and both things are really kicking into high gear.

    7. CLT*

      I read fiction. I stop by the library and pick up a stack of books (so I can discard a book if I just don’t like it 30 pages in). The reason I find this so restful is that it takes me completely outside of myself and does not allow room in my brain for thinking about other things. Two to three novels back-to-back and I am rested in both body and brain. Interesting snacks to sustain the effort are a plus.

    8. ZSD*

      I’m sorry for the difficult time you’re going through.
      In general, since my job involves staring at a computer screen all day, I try to make my recharge activities *not* involve looking at a screen. I’d suggest getting outside if possible (though I realize that’s difficult in a large swath of the country right now), or at least doing something like playing an instrument or getting together for board games with friends. (This is assuming your job also involves staring at a computer screen. If your job instead involves, say, working with customers or patients all day, then you might want to do something that doesn’t involve seeing other humans.)

    9. Persephone Mulberry*

      I took ELEVEN days over the Christmas holiday. Family obligations made it not quite the relaxation nirvana it could have been, of course, but it was still glorious. I was on full burn from mid-August through mid-December, and it was the promise of those 11 days that got me through the worst of it. So yes, if your boss is open/encouraging of “mental health” days, there are few things better that you can do for yourself, IMO!

      I assume your toddler/can’t go anywhere comment was more directed at the idea of going off the grid for a long spa weekend, or whatever, but absolutely send the kid wherever he typically goes while you’re at work, and enjoy the daytime hours lounging around in your jammies, or shopping without a constant chorus of “I want”, or whatever sounds most appealing.

    10. OriginalEmma*

      If yoga isn’t your cup of tea but you want that quiet time, perhaps guided meditation or guided relaxation is more your speed. Another child-free person here who cannot comment on the struggles of childrearing, but I found the guided relaxation/meditation MP3s to be very useful. And I say this as someone who, when initially recommended such, thought “what a bunch of hippy, woo-woo non-sense.” But it worked for me (for helping get to sleep).

      Bonus is that you can use the guidance at any time, practically any place, without looking out of place because it’s simply focused on relaxing muscles and bodies parts with adopting a lowered gaze (or closed eyes).

      The one I use is called Letting Go of Stress by Emmett Miller and Steven Halpern.

    11. Bend & Snap*

      THANK YOU for all these suggestions! Very helpful and hopefully will help me recharge! The kiddo will definitely stay in daycare but mama may get some much-needed sleep and relaxation.

      I like the no-screen advice as far as texts and email too. I really appreciate how many people took the time for advice and encouragement.

      1. Muriel Heslop*

        Hang in there! Everyone had great suggestions for stress relief which I can always use (personally, I would underscore yoga, takeout, fiction, and long walks outside). I have a friend in a similar situation as yours, and she has asked for small dinners with friends to help her relax and reconnect with people. Please ask your friends and family for help if they are available and reliable – we want to help the people we care about!

        Have a great weekend – I hope you get some relaxation!

    12. Nice shot, man*

      It’s not politically correct, but

      – put on favorite comfy clothes
      – take kid to sitter
      – open windows if it’s nice out
      – home entertainment system on, set to loud, a playlist of tunes that are “aggressive”
      – get buzzed
      – order pizza
      – call old friends

  19. Wolfey*

    Guys, what do you say when you give two weeks notice? I’m planning to put mine in at the end of the month and would like to avoid an awkward conversation. I’ve left a job before, but it was more of an “everyone moves on after 2 years, just let me know you end date” sort of thing.

    1. Helen*

      Do you have a new job? If so I’d say that I’ve accepted another job and my last day will be X. If not, I would say, I’ve decided to resign. My last day will be X. If you had a good/decent experience, I might add something like it’s been great working for you, thanks for the experience, etc.

      1. Wolfey*

        I am going back to school full time. I went part-time in January to balance taking classes, but the schedule isn’t working out + I’m miserable here. Originally I was supposed to stay for ~year and my proposed end date will make it about 11 months. Project wise I’m in a good place to leave. I feel badly missing the year mark, but on the other hand I’ve billed FAR more hours for them than anyone else doing a job that is not what I signed up for (bait and switch).

        I’m more curious about how those conversations start. It could be awkward because I’m pretty sure they let me go part-time to try to stem the flow of people (SO. MANY. PEOPLE.) quitting . I can totally see him trying to guilt trip me and don’t want to burn any bridges.

        1. Helen*

          I think that going back to school is probably the option that’s least likely to make them resent you! I would just say something like I’ve done a lot of thinking and decided that I should go back to school full time. Keep it positive.

        2. fposte*

          Don’t overthink :-). “Boss, I wanted to let you know that I’ll be leaving the company on March 1. I’ve already started thinking about preparing transition materials and would be happy to meet with you to identify priorities if you wish. I’ll follow up with an email for the record.”

          “No, I’m afraid part-time isn’t a possibility. I’ll leave as much transition support as I can to help the new person, and I’d be happy to train if you get somebody in before I leave.”

          1. Not So NewReader*

            So agree. Say as little as you can, then wait for questions. Answer the questions.

            Be sure to say thank you for the opportunity to work there. Yes, even if you do NOT mean it. ;) Tell the boss thank you, anyway*. It will come across as classy and it will put help put things in a good place.

            *Skip this step if you boss was a toxic cesspool.

    2. HigherEd Admin*

      I guess it depends on your relationship with your manager and whether or not you enjoyed your role during your time there, but I’ve said something along the lines of:

      “I wanted to let you know that I have been offered the opportunity to sell chocolate teapots at Teapots R Us and I’ve decided to pursue it. It was a hard decision, but I think it’s the right move for my career. I’m really going to miss the work and the people here, and want to make the transition period as smooth as possible. My last day here will be ___.”

    3. themmases*

      I left my job to go back to school, and it was actually a nice conversation because people were happy for me (or at least they had to act like they were). I called or dropped by people’s offices to ask if they had a minute when I already knew they did, came in, said “I wanted to let you know that I’m going to be returning to school for X,” and took it from there. I gave them a ballpark last day and we worked out the exact last day from there.

      My boss hinted about me staying part-time and I just said no thank you. There are lots of benefits to being a full-time student and the types of jobs you can take and time you can spend with faculty, and I just said thank you but I need to be available for that to get the full career benefit in this field.

      Good luck!

  20. GOG11*

    Any tips on how to handle comments or questions from coworkers about disability-related accommodations? I wouldn’t mind giving honest, matter-of-fact answers if the coworkers who asked didn’t mishandle other people’s information (one coworker becomes outwardly angry – raised voice, slammed door – and the other has, on multiple occasions, told me something and then came back later and said not to tell anyone as he shouldn’t have shared X with me in the first place).

    One example is a piece of equipment that is new to the work area. Another is time off (really, just going to the doctor and rearranging my schedule a bit to come in early or leave late or using sick leave).

    My manager addressed concerns about the latter with me and I asked if the coworker had concerns about my performance (not getting work done in a timely manner, for example) and she said no but recommended sharing WHY I’m out which may alleviate worries about my being out.

    I don’t want to be awkwardly secretive, but I also don’t want to be completely frank and open because I know the information will be misused.

    1. LCL*

      I am out of the office for medical leave.
      This equipment is for medical reasons.
      The boss and I are keeping track of my leave time.

      That’s it. I lean towards telling people, but if you don’t want to you don’t have to. If you decide you don’t want to, tell your manager that and request that she back you up. She should be able to say “GOG11 is on leave today” and end the conversation.

      1. Celeste*

        Agree with this. If the person persists, repeat verbatim. If they don’t get satisfaction, they’ll move along.

      2. Xarcady*

        You get to keep your private medical information private. You don’t even have to tell your boss what your medical issues are, just that you have them. Of course, it usually helps if your boss knows what’s up, because then they can make informed suggestions to you.

        But co-workers? Co-workers who will gossip or spread your news throughout the company? No, you do not have to tell them.

        It will make your *boss’s* job easier if you tell them. But it sounds as if it will make *your* life much more difficult. So just don’t. The suggestions offered by other posters are great. And your boss could use a line such as, “I’m keeping GOG11’s private information private, just as I’m sure you would want me to do with your private information.”

    2. Katie the Fed*

      “My manager addressed concerns about the latter with me and I asked if the coworker had concerns about my performance (not getting work done in a timely manner, for example) and she said no but recommended sharing WHY I’m out which may alleviate worries about my being out. ”

      Uh, no. Bad management. The only appropriate response from the manager to the busybodies is: “It’s between me and GOG11 and I’ve approved all of her leave. Please worry about your own work.”

      You’re under no obligation to tell anyone anything. I would just leave it super vague – “It’s something I need – it’s all been approved. Why do you ask?”

      1. w9*

        I think it’s good to as why – there may be an unexpected consequence that can be easily resolved. Once had a great conversation with a colleague in a similar situation. (In that case we had a strong relationship so we could speak frankly)

        1. Katie the Fed*

          But these don’t sound like people she has a good relationship with. They sound like busybodies who can’t be trusted with any sensitive information.

          1. GOG11*

            The coworker who brought it up also framed it as “nobody is supervising her” (boss is in another location). I’m leaning toward the coworker worrying about things he doesn’t need to based on the context and his previous actions toward me and others.

            1. Katie the Fed*

              Yeah – I think the real problem here is you have jerk coworkers who the manager isn’t reining in.

              I can’t imagine listening to a complaint like that from someone and not responding with something akin to “eyes on your own paper!”

    3. Sunflower*

      I would just repeat with LCL said and not elaborate. Honestly, people are going to notice you’re moving your schedule around and that’s probably why your manager suggested you disclose the info- so that way there isn’t chatter about what may or may not be going on. However, I’ve found people are going to talk and make assumptions even if you told them the truth so you’re better off just keeping it vague

      1. Katie the Fed*

        I would agree if this were anything other than a medical issue, but I really think the manager needs to tell people to stop gossiping and speculating on something that’s none of their business.

        1. GOG11*

          +1. I don’t want my coworkers offering unsolicited advice or viewing my actions through “GOG11 has X condition and that’s why she put so-and-so’s mail in my box” (rather than being human and making a mistake once in a while).

          Plus, to be frank, sometimes they’re jerks. I don’t want to have to share sensitive information with someone that I am extra diligent about being professional around.

    4. Bend & Snap*

      Don’t share, and your boss shouldn’t be asking you to share. I had an old boss who recommended sharing medical info with my team to explain why I was out of the office and then dinged me later when I didn’t. It’s a private thing and nobody’s business except those helping you with accommodations.

    5. Anonsie*

      In my experience, once you have experienced a group act inappropriately with this information, that’s it. There isn’t a way to deal with them that will make them behave better, and I feel like it’s usually because of whatever existing ideas they have about both privacy and the nature of illness, and you can’t act in a way that will influence either of those.

      When I’m in these groups, it goes down to no information. It’s not secretive; that is privileged information, and they have shown themselves to not be able to handle it.

    6. GOG11*

      Thanks, everyone, for your answers! My boss phrased sharing why I’m out as a suggestion (rather than an order), but I still felt pressured to disclose more than I wanted to and now I feel entirely reasonable and confident in not divulging personal medical information.

      If my boss brings up the issue again (either to check in on it or if coworker continues to raise concerns), is there any way I can suggest that she communicate to the coworker?

      I think the phrasing Xarcady and Katie the Fed used is wonderful but I can’t think of an appropriate way to suggest addressing coworkers that way (instead of suggesting that I disclose more info to appease them).

      1. Katie the Fed*

        Can you say something to your boss like “actually, I’d really love your help on tamping down everyone’s curiosity on this – would you mind trying to shut that down if people bring it to you? It’s just not something I’m comfortable discussing with everyone”

      2. Xarcady*

        What Katie the Fed said.

        Something similar came up once with someone I supervised. She returned from a vacation, glowing with the news that she was pregnant. She told me, as she would need time for doctor’s visits, etc., but held off telling anyone else. Two weeks later, she had a miscarriage and was out for two weeks. She specifically told me she did not want anyone else in the company to know–it would make it that much harder for her to return to work.

        One particularly nosy, gossipy manager tried every way she could to pry the information out of me, and when that didn’t work, she attacked the owner of the company at a management meeting, claiming we all needed to know if someone had contracted a contagious disease so that we could protect ourselves against it. And I just knew that this person would make my employee’s life miserable if she ever found out what had happened.

        And the owner used the wording upthread and shut the nosy manager down.

        So maybe a word to your manager that she could reinforce the idea that private information for *all* employees is kept private. Including the curious, gossipy ones. You will not be the last employee this manager has who does not want to broadcast their health details to the entire office. She needs to learn how to manage this sort of situation.

        The curious employees will either get over it or die mad. That’s their problem, not yours.

      3. Hillary*

        Everything Katie the Fed said is completely right. One consideration (very much dependent on your team dynamics) may be that your teammates worry and want to know you’re going to be ok and possibly help. One year my small, close-knit team had two people go out on long term disability. One of them shared that he’d been in an accident and would have a long recovery. We organized food, his friends visited, and we were all glad we could support him. The other person chose not to share any information – all we knew was that she was out for two months. Completely within her rights, but we would have liked to know that she wasn’t hit by a car. Saying “I’m working through [whatever], but I’ll be fine” can go a long way. Whatever can be as vague or detailed as you want.

        1. GOG11*

          What you did for your coworker is very nice, but in this case, he sort of implied that I was skipping out on work from the sound of it. And from past behavior I’ve seen firsthand, I don’t think either of the potential coworkers is thinking as graciously as you all did.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            If someone thinks you are skipping out on work then all they need to know is that the boss has been informed. End of topic. Honest! They don’t sign your paycheck, if the boss is satisfied that is all that needs to happen.

            Maybe you could try, “You know, all that stuff is so boring to me. My time at work is my time out from it. I get to take a break from that stuff. I prefer not to dwell on it.”

            Tricky part: Maybe you can’t say this to the angry coworkers and be heard. But maybe you can say it to a nice coworker and “let” angry coworker overhear you saying that.

    1. Katie the Fed*

      Very, very rarely, and not much anymore.

      But there’s a a special art to just dropping a little nugget in a conversation with a higher-up so it doesn’t look like you went to anyone directly. Just happening to let a little something slip. Oooops.

    2. Barbara in Swampeast*

      Oh boy! I once went over my boss’s head because the decision was his boss’s decision and she had always said her door was open. NEVER AGAIN.

      Unless it is your boss who is doing something against the rules or illegal or a dangerous situation that s/he will not address, leave it be and just live with it.

    3. Bea W*

      Yes, but he violated umpteen internal policies, some federal regulations, and the entire document on good clinical documentation practices, AND he told me to ignore it and not ask questions.

    4. ThursdaysGeek*

      My friend, AKA Sydney did that a few weeks ago. I recommended AAM for how to deal with the inevitable question for “why were you fired from your last job?” So sometimes, going over your boss’s head is the worst sin of all. :(

    5. Oh anon*

      I went over my boss’s head, with his permission, regarding a pay issue that he didn’t know the answer to. Boss said if his boss didn’t have an answer to email his boss’s boss. I was brand new and didn’t know boss’s boss’s boss. I followed instructions & boss’s boss didn’t have an answer, so I emailed his boss. Well that just got everyone in a tizzy! Several days later I was told I was too “aggressive.”

      1. Oh anon*

        I forgot to mention, after all that, my boss claimed he never told me to contact anyone. I was so new I wouldn’t have known who to contact had he not told me!

    6. Not So NewReader*

      I went to my boss’ boss on a really bad thing. Actually that all landed okay.
      What blindsided me was my supervisor who knew all the particulars.
      So this is a case of boss and boss’ boss are okay in the end and supervisor, who was not involved, was not okay in the end. Watch out for the people on the side lines that know what you are doing.

      I have found the safest bet is to assume that the boss’ boss already knows it- whatever “it” is – and is okay with it. Make your decisions accordingly.

    7. The Quotable Caddyshack*

      TL;DR: My company has a written “open door policy” that states you won’t suffer reprisal for doing it. And I even believe that they are sincere about it. But I personally wouldn’t do it unless it was something a major issue, and even then I’d prepare myself for a peculiar career – documenting the crap out of everything, possibly engaging a lawyer, yadda – for however much longer I worked there. For example: I wouldn’t do it over a bad appraisal.

      But: several years ago my boss and I had a disagreement [details elided] and he was positioning to fire me somehow, so I talked to his boss, and my boss was apparently told to drop it. And some months later I was offered a highly desirable new position with a new, improved boss, which I accepted and I have since had very little to do with my old boss.

      Important details that you want to know: officially I did not have to do this, but I “asked permission” to speak to his boss before doing so. This was literally “an offer he couldn’t refuse”, but if yer gonna do something like this, you definitely want to take the High Road. Also: I realize this sounds self-serving, but the issue my boss had with me was a genuine, objectively provable surprise to me – he dropped a whole huge pile of shit on me with no warning – and also my boss was objectively wrong in his position (to this day I don’t know what was going on with him). I didn’t want to go over his head, but I felt my job was on the line: he forced my hand -and- I had nothing to lose. In short: be pure of heart and make sure you have a solid case.

      One other thing: I had an experienced mentor that I could trust, and she helped me navigate this. I’d strongly advise finding such a person if you go down this path.

      Finally: it’s a bit like The X-Files, you don’t know how high up the conspiracy goes. I had good cause to believe that my boss’s boss would treat me fairly. And (lucky for me) she did. This is another thing a mentor can help with: figuring how high up you need to go. Legend has it that people have gone straight to our CEO over matters of serious corruption. I believe it. But if I felt I had to go to that extent, I would almost certainly engage a lawyer. Remember the guy who turned in the UNABOMBER? He got a lawyer first. And I’ll bet you some serious money that he’s never regretted it.

  21. Pizza Lover*

    So I had an interview on Wednesday (yay!) but I’m not feeling very enthused about the organization now that I’ve had a closer look. It seems like there’s a poor work/life balance and even though I was answering all of the questions and not stumbling on myself, I kept feeling like I wasn’t giving them the answers that they were looking for. They kept fishing, as though they didn’t really believe me or like they doubted my capabilities, even though they were interviewing me and clearly must have thought me qualified.

    I’m so torn – if they offer me the position, I feel like it’s a great career move. I’m a recent grad so this is basically exactly what I want right now because my current job (although I love it) provides no career growth whatsoever. Not to mention the fact that my supervisor here knows this but takes advantage of my skills. At the same time, though, I’m hesitant to enter a situation where I may not be happy just for the prospect of (good!) money. Any advice? I think I know where I stand, but I’d love to get some opinions from everyone else. I don’t want to leave a job that I essentially love but has no space for growth for one where I have a more managerial position, yet an unhappy life overall.

    1. Helen*

      If they offer you the job, I would ask to come in again, get a tour of the place (get a sense of the mood of the people there), and speak with people who have your job and who you’d be working with. If you still get a bad vibe, then stay with the job you love and wait for a better opportunity to come along.

      1. Pizza Lover*

        Thank you! I will definitely try to do this if they follow up and invite me in for another interview and/or offer me the position.

    2. Inconnu*

      If your situation allows for it, wait until a job comes up that you know you’ll enjoy doing. I recently relocated for a job with more pay that’s a managerial position, but I’m starting to regret it. I also left a job that I loved doing, but didn’t pay as much.

    3. ScottySmalls*

      I want to say that if you love your current job, then don’t settle for one where you have the strong feeling that you’ll be a miserable manager. Keep looking for one that has the work-life balance you want and the opportunity to advance. Basically, don’t feel rushed to move on. And depending on how long you’ve been at current job, you could at least negotiate a pay that is more in line with your responsibilities.

      1. Pizza Lover*

        I needed to hear this, thank you. I actually have negotiated a raise but even with this, it’s difficult to see the silver lining for other reasons that were not mentioned. So I certainly do love my job but I know that I’m still underpaid and overworked, even with the raise. My student loans will kick in soon and of course love doesn’t pay the bills, so I feel forced to job hunt. I have a strong sense that things may change if I try to give in my two weeks because of another offer, but by then it may be too late.

        1. Scotty_Smalls*

          I feel you Pizza Lover. I’m got to start a job search again because I only have a part time and my student loans have kicked in.

          Also, if you have your student loans through the DOE you can renegotiate your repayment plan according to what your currently earning. That might help. In any case, good luck

      2. Helen*

        Information from all job seekers would be appreciated, but I’m especially interested in hearing from fellow unemployed job seekers. What would you say is the rate at which you get an interview (phone or in person)? Approximately how many jobs do you apply to weekly? Also, what is your experience level?

        I’m not at my home computer, so I can’t share my “stats”. I will say though that there was a lot of radio silence in January but that it’s picked up since.

  22. Great Pains*

    I need help from the IT people and the tech savvy.

    My company converted our system from an old, simple software to a more sophisticated and robust platform. There have been growing pains and getting accustomed to the new way of doing things. We also have several add-ons that tie into the new system to link more of our information together. Long story short is that it’s more complicated but we can do so much more than the old system.

    Every time, or very often, when there is an update to one of the add-ons there is an issue caused in the main system. Nothing major but things like invoices not being grouped correctly, e-mail options being changed, or vendor types switching. Things that can annoy our clients but aren’t huge disasters. These issues are resolved and everything is fine until the next issue comes up a few weeks later. We take the issues seriously because we have a strong culture of customer commitment, and we try to stay on top of the issues and the add-on vendors for fixes.

    A few users always refer to our “broken system” when complaining or talking about other issues. My question is does that rise to the level of a broken system, or is that par for the course when you have more sophisticated software? I just want to know if they’re over-reacting to this or I’m under-reacting. I tend to have the attitude of suck it up and do the best you can with what you have, but if these are serious red flags I want to react properly.

    1. Malissa*

      Can they run the updates in a test system and see it there are problem before rolling them out for real? I used to make my software vendors do this.

      1. Great Pains*

        That’s how it used to be done. However, the Affordable Care Act has caused a bit of a rush to push things out before being fully tested. That’s a great idea to work towards that again, though.

        1. Windchime*

          Ha, yep, I know exactly what you are talking about. Four years after implementing a sophisticated, complicated system (thanks to the ACA), people are still talking about all the things they had in the old system as compared to the new. Yes, it’s true that there are differences in functionality, but that doesn’t make this system “broken”. It makes it different.

          Side note: We have an analyst here who likes to call reports “broken” when the users decide that it should behave differently than the original specs. Sometimes it’s hard to remember that this analyst is on our team, because she will start writing up work items that say, “Fix the broken report; it should be doing [blah, blah, blah]” instead of , “Users are requesting the following change: [blah blah blah]”. I know it’s just semantics but it’s annoying.

          1. V. Meadowsweet*

            But it’s not just semantics!
            A report that is broken is a report that doesn’t work at all and needs to be fixed immediately, and that fix should fall within almost any maintenance contract.
            A report that users would like to work differently than was originally spec’d is a report that should be reviewed at some point, and depending on the review the changes may fall under maintenance or may require a change order or even a new report.
            Which might be why these are being recorded as ‘broken’ rather than ‘changes’…

      2. V. Meadowsweet*

        Test environments are hugely important. Sometimes things just run a little differently on the client’s machines.

    2. Hlyssande*

      I have problems like this in my own work, with an application that is used by our business units to request customer account creation/updates in the database.

      When someone doesn’t use the software very often, they may find those infrequent problems every single time they access it, so it appears to them that it is always broken in some way. How much time does it take for the userbase to adapt to the issue? Do the issues ever actually get fixed when they’re reported or is it an endless stream of workarounds that become the new normal process? The users’ impressions make a lot of difference in how open they are to using the software.

      I think an incident every few weeks is too often to call any sort of software or database fully stable, especially when you’re getting complaints about it always being broken. Whoever is maintaining your software really needs to investigate why things break and how it can be prevented in the future – and that should be a very high priority.

      As our application became more stable – even if the issues were relatively infrequent – the complaints we received was greatly reduced. Nowadays, there is much less negativity from the users when they’re reporting an issue because we’ve proven that we’re as on top of it as we can be and will get things fixed quickly.

      1. Great Pains*

        It almost seems like a domino effect. One hot fix causes a different issue a few weeks later. As I mentioned up-thread it has to do with the ACA, so I think the vendor is overwhelmed and pushing hard to roll out updates/fixes as soon as possible.

        1. Hlyssande*


          Sounds like the vendor needs more headcount or support or…something to slow down and fully test it to the best of their abilities.

          At least ours is in house and we can push back if needed.

        2. Judy*

          99 bugs in our code, 99 bugs in our code, take one out, compile it again, 104 bugs in our code.

          To the tune of 99 bottles of beer. ;)

    3. Gene*

      Red Flags. This is a sign that your vendors aren’t adequately testing the updates prior to roll-out and you need to ride them unmercilessly until they do. So far, it sounds like the problems have been relatively minor, but one could make the system completely unusable.

      Think of the ACA enrollment “glitches”; almost every one of those was caused by inadequate load testing.

      If your users are customers and are complaining about the “broken system”, that’s impetus to take their business elsewhere.

      1. Ezri*

        This. Software rollout is NOT a substitute for QA. An occasional problem is understandable, but glitches during every rollout are not. If there is a consistent issue with settings being changed around on rollout, the software vendor needs to be providing alerts to let their users know (ideally their updates wouldn’t muck up existing settings, but sometimes there’s no way around it).

    4. AndersonDarling*

      When Old Company went to SAP, there was a glitch that prevented vendors from getting paid and their invoices were lost in the system. We were sued by a handful of the vendors. I would call that “broken.”
      Not having access to a record for two hours, that’s an inconvenience.
      Bottom line, if your IT folks are taking issues seriously and solving the problems, then it is just growing pains. And be grateful that you have a great IT team, it could be so much worse. :)

    5. Ann Furthermore*

      If it’s a new, unique issue each time, then I would call it growing pains. It sounds like the change was recent. There is always a period of stabilization, and then usually things calm down.

      If it’s the same issue each time, then yeah, that’s a problem, and someone in the IT group isn’t being thorough enough with their testing, regression testing, solution design, etc.

    6. Great Pains*

      Great replies. Love hearing the different points of view. The new system went live about a year and a half ago, which we still have a few hiccups here and there. The main issue is that one vendor provides an add-in that has to do with our Affordable Care Act tracking/surcharges, which has caused a slew of new issues. I don’t know if that changes opinions, or clarifies a bit more.

      1. Hlyssande*

        If the vendor isn’t fully testing the add-in before rolling out an update, is there any other company who can do the same thing for you? It sounds like they’re causing lots of problems, which to me would say it’s time to look for another vendor.

      2. ThursdaysGeek*

        In addition to trying to get that vendor to do a better job of testing, and trying to set up your own testing area (which may not be possible*), plan on communicating with your users more before any upgrades. If an upgrade comes from this vendor, let your users know that ahead of time, and specifically ask them to be on the lookout for problems. Involve them in finding the problems, fix them as quickly as possible, so you they know you care and are frustrated by this situation too.

        *Sometimes a test area means additional servers, software licenses, extra time, and people to support it. While I highly recommend a test area, sometimes that is a more long term solution to a problem that also needs a quick solution.

    7. Observer*

      I’d say a little bit of both. If breakdowns are a fairly common thing, and it sounds like this is the case, you do have a problem. On the other hand, it doesn’t sound like it rises to the level of “broken system”. I would say, that you need to communicate more proactively about things. But, FIRST, you need to do something to reduce the problem and make that part of your communications.

      For instance, create a “sandbox” which is a copy of your oive system and apply the upgrades / changes to that and test (which real data that has been copied from the live system.) A lot of places don’t do that, but since this seems to be an ongoing problem you could save yourself a lot of trouble by catching these issues before staff have to deal with them while trying to get their work done.

      You also may want to talk to the vendor of the main system about the issue.

    8. Not So NewReader*

      Speaking as an end user with a new system… I will fight through 10 problems on my own to solve the problems. By the time that 11th problem comes along, brain fatigue has fully set it.

      Then I get told that I should call when I have an issue. I. don’t. have. time. It is quicker for me to fuss around and figure out something. I do this several times a day. (I already have a library of workarounds in my head for some recurring issues, so I do not include those issues that have workarounds here.)

      One issue I called on. Not exaggerating. I have 70 hours into this issue. I have called a half dozen people. It’s still not fixed. My boss needs me working on other things so I cannot go back to it. The problem remains there.

      I call this broken. I mean it in the same way you would describe a car with a 100 problems as broken. There is so much wrong and new things are occurring every day. Nothing is fatal, but everything just takes so. very. long. A person with more knowledge than me could work with this. The sad thing is tech tells me that I do better than many of the people who call them.

      I don’t think your products have this severe a problem. But I do think encouraging the customer to expand on what they mean by the word “broken” would be helpful. Not an easy question to work into ordinary conversation, but it might provide you with some insight. It could be that they just need some encouragement that your folks are constantly improving the product.
      OTH, it could be that the people who complain the most just don’t like any sort of change and there is no appeasing them. It’s hard to pick out who this applies to.

  23. Stumped*

    How do you handle an employee that voluntarily works a ton of extra overtime, refuses to have extra help brought in, and then complains they don’t receive enough praise (mostly in the form of a big bonus or large raise)?

    They are a good performer but not a superstar, and they do receive a few extra perks on occasion like a small bonus, paid lunch, and extra time off when needed. Honestly, the position they hold is important but doesn’t have a lot of requirements to learn how to do.

    1. LCL*

      If they are paid hourly, limit how much overtime they can work.
      If they are exempt, decide how much time they are allowed to work extra and set a limit.

    2. fposte*

      My read from what you’re describing is that this is an employee who really wants more money. She’s working more to get it, she’s asking for it, it’s all about making more money.

      So I’d be straight and say that you value her contribution, the compensation she’s getting is what she can expect in the future. (I don’t know whether you want to bring in extra help rather than pay her more OT, but I’m not seeing why she gets to “refuse” that.) And if she comes back to the topic, remind her that you’ve told her what the situation is, and that unless she has a specific suggestion that would change it you’re asking that the complaints stop.

      1. Mike C.*

        Along these lines, ask yourself the following – What would have to change before you started to pay them more? Maybe develop some other skills and transition into a new role? Simply perform at a better rate? (Make that rate known if that’s the case!) Something else entirely?

        1. fposte*

          Oh, good point–if there is something she could do to make herself eligible for an increase, that’s a great thing to tell her.

      2. Stumped*

        I’m the new department manager walking into this situation, so I’ve been trying to narrow down why this person keeps bringing up lack of recognition. The longer I’ve been here the more I agree with fposte that it seems to be all about the money. To be honest, there’s no real progression path for this person and not many other skills to learn. Their pay is their pay with only annual raises, and no justification for a huge increase.

        As for being able to refuse additional help, that’s a whole ‘nother story, and my bosses decision.

        1. Student*

          Some people actually just really want you to pay attention to them. I’m getting that vibe from your description, instead of fposte’s theory of the employee wanting more money. I think it’s worthwhile to have fposte’s suggested conversation with her about compensation, though, in case I’m wrong.

          If, however, this employee really does want extra recognition, and you think the work she’s doing is worth indulging that, then do it. It’s cheap, and it keeps an employee happy. Evaluate whether that is likely to undermine moral elsewhere, of course, or whether such recognition needs to be shown to others as well to prevent causing resentment.

          I work with a guy like this. He knows he isn’t getting any more money beyond small annual cost-of-living raises, and he’s unlikely to get promotions beyond his current job. He really wants someone to pay attention to him. He loves it. He especially wants Important People, like the boss, to pay attention to him and tell him what a self-sacrificing savior he is. He really likes attention, really wants to be thanked, and even likes those kitchy tokens of appreciation that everyone else throws in a drawer and ignores. He wants someone to recognize his extra, unsolicited hours and say, “Wow, you put a lot of time into this, it’s great.” His work is good enough that I don’t mind giving him the attention and praise he’s fishing for, within certain limitations so that it doesn’t take up too much of my time.

    3. Camellia*

      Hmm, I would find out if they are accomplishing more with all this overtime, if they need it to get their regular work done, or if they are just spreading their work out to fill the hours to make themselves look good. Especially if this person is refusing help – to me that is a big red flag.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      You could point out that you never authorized the overtime and she is doing that on her own.

      I have to wonder why no one else is putting in equivalent hours. Maybe you could lighten her workload. Just let her know that you are pulling things off of her so that she does not feel she has to work the crazy hours. Then remind her there is no extra money in the wings and the best you can do is spread her work out among others.

  24. there's no such thing as a bibliographic emergency*

    I have a question about academic contracts – I’ve read over mine and can’t really figure it out. It reads in part, “the initial hire is for two and one half years with reappointment annually…”
    So, I get that I have annual reviews, but the real kicker question I have is what if I leave during that 2.5 year period? Is that problematic? Is this more about their commitment to me, rather than my commitment to them? Both?

    Thanks for any thoughts!

    1. GOG11*

      I work in higher ed and my institution doesn’t use this arrangement that I know of, so I can’t speak to that, but if there is someone you work with who could be discreet about this sort of thing, try asking them. “I’m not planning on leaving, but I was curious to know what happens if someone has to leave before the end of the 2.5 year period.” When I want to ask a question without raising any flags, that’s what I do, but I’ve been here a while and I’m not sure you have that kind of relationship with anyone where you are yet.

      You could also try looking at HR documentation, employee handbooks, etc.

    2. danr*

      Not on your query, but my old company had bibliographic emergencies all the time. If we didn’t produce the data, it just wasn’t there. This was in the days before electronic access was ubiquitous.

        1. there's no such thing as a bibliographic emergency*

          I get that there is the potential for consequences, etc. I just like this saying personally because it helps to remind me that it generally isn’t something worth panicking over. Lives aren’t at stake.

    3. EmilyG*

      Hard to say w/o more details but I’m a librarian who used to have a document like this. I don’t recall having to sign mine so I didn’t think of it as a contract per se. I see it as setting an expectation of how long you have the job given good performance. It’s not an appointment that you can assume lasts forever, and there are annual performance reviews where you could wash out. In my library it definitely didn’t mean that you were committing to staying, although with the job market, most did. I’m finding this hard to explain but when I had a document like this, it sort of meant “you have a job according to normal rules of being let go or quitting, but don’t be shocked if, after 2.5 years, we do some kind of re-alignment and this position no longer exists.”

      1. there's no such thing as a bibliographic emergency*

        Thanks for your thoughts, everyone. I am tenure-track. EmilyG, I think you’ve hit on what I find so odd about it…It’s very much, ‘yes, you have a job for this amount of time, under normal conditions, presuming you pass your annual review, unless we decide to let you go.’ So…it doesn’t mean much of anything then. And it definitely doesn’t include any language about my commitment to them. I was just nervous about talking to someone that approached me about a potential job, and then having it turn out that I’m legitimately not supposed to leave. But I think I’m in the clear if I do decide to pursue it.

        Thanks again!

    4. Student*

      You aren’t an indentured servant (I hope). Therefore, it’s their commitment to you; it’s not your commitment to them. You can leave whenever you want. Most places appreciate it if you plan to stick around for a couple of years.

      You have a job for 2.5 years, as long as you don’t make major screw-ups. Then, you may no longer have a job, or you may get a job extension. You are a long-term temp or a perma-temp.

      This is their way of saying that you probably shouldn’t buy a house in the area.

      There may be other items where it does matter when you leave. For example, if they paid for any moving expenses, signing bonuses, that kind of thing, you may have to repay them if you quit within X time of being hired, usually within 1 year. That needs to be explicitly spelled out on the paperwork to be enforceable, though. You can’t imply it with the phrasing you’ve used here.

  25. Alison with one L*

    I’m going to my first conference next week. I have been out of undergrad and in my first job for over a year now. I know several contacts who will be at the conference already, but I really want to network well and create meaningful connections.

    Any tips or ideas for my first conference? What can I do to make the most of this experience?

    Thanks in advance!

    1. saro*

      If you get the person’s business card, write when and where you met her. Also note any relevant info such as: we talked about chocolate teapots. She’s interested in branching out to caramel cups.

      I know it’s a little card but you can get alot of info on the back! It’s really helpful im situations where you meet many people at once. Then you can follow up easily when you get home.

    2. kristinyc*

      Have fun, and go to any of the social events that are there (cocktail hours, dinners, whatever).

      Talk to people: If you’re awkward like me and don’t want to talk about yourself a ton, just ask people a lot of questions about their businesses. Ask people how they’re enjoying the conference, what they’ve found interesting (and be ready to talk about things you’ve liked about it as well). If it’s in a city you’ve never traveled to, ask other people about the city. Obviously, have business cards available – everyone will expect that. If you really intend to follow up with someone after exchanging business cards, it’s helpful to write notes to yourself on their business card about what you discussed. After the conference, go through your stack of cards and follow up with people or connect with them on LinkedIn if it feels appropriate.

      At drinking events: If there are a lot of drinking events and you don’t want to drink, order a seltzer with a lime in it. It’ll look like an alcoholic drink, and most people won’t question it. I went to a conference a few months ago that had 4 drinking events every night that I was expected to attend (I spoke at the conference and sponsored paid for me to be there, so I had to attend everything), and I drank a lot of seltzer because I just couldn’t handle that many actual drinks. One night there was an after-party after the previous 3, and I was too tired to go, so I just said I was going back to my room because my panel was the next morning and I wanted some time to prepare for me panel and get some rest. Someone who’s a really big deal in the industry was nearby when I said that to my friends, and I saw an utter look of respect on his face afterwards. Just keep in mind that people may be watching what you do. It’s okay to drink at events there, but definitely know your limits and drink wayyyyyyy less than you might under other social circumstances.

      In general, unless a part of the conference is notably BAD, I try to come across as enthusiastic and interested in everything that’s going on there when I’m talking to new people at conferences. (You don’t want to start a conversation with, “Can you believe how terrible that presentation was?!?!” and discover the person you’re talking to works at the company!) A simple, “What did you think about what [a speaker] had to say about [topic]?” is a great way to break the ice.

      Have fun!

    3. Sunflower*

      I go to tons of conferences(as the manager) and I’d second all of kristinyc’s suggestions.

      – Go over the agenda and do a brief skim of latest news and what’s happening. Read the speaker’s/presenters bios and their companies and experience(check their website or Linkedin). Figure out who/what you’re most interested in and write up some questions you want to know about.
      – Ask LOTS of questions. I can’t stress this enough. Speakers are way more interested in wanting to know what you want to know as opposed to just talking to the crowd.
      – Definitely go to all the social events. Don’t be afraid to let the conversation get away from the conference topic at hand. Some people will be tired of talking about the topic all day and will want to chat about other things.

      Reading over what Allison linked to suggestions from there that are good
      Clothing- comfy shoes and layers. It can be sweltering or freezing so be prepared for both. You’ll be on your feet more than you expect.
      Feel free to step away from the conference for a short break if you need to

      Good luck and have fun!

      1. Dynamic Beige*

        “Clothing- comfy shoes and layers. It can be sweltering or freezing so be prepared for both. You’ll be on your feet more than you expect.”

        Oh yes. I do conference work for a living and heating/cooling in large event spaces is like trying to turn a cruise ship. It will be freezing because they crank the AC before the people show up because a lot of people’s body heat raises the temperature of a room. People complain it’s too cold, they turn it down and then everyone complains it’s too hot. Wash, rinse, repeat. Also, depending on where the space is, it can be enormous. The meeting spaces in Vegas, for example, you can walk a mile just getting to the venue. Your favourite heels might be super cute, but after walking that far, you will be in pain.

        Another thing to keep in mind is that usually the washroom spaces for women are not sufficient for the crowds (it really depends on what industry you’re in and amount of attendees), so that 15 minute break between sessions, you could spend all/most of that time waiting to pee. If you can manage your sessions or sneak out, you can avoid this and still have time to get a coffee and snack when they’re out (which usually isn’t all day).

        As for the networking, haven’t a clue. That’s something I need to work on IRL myself. I work behind the scenes so I can’t tell you how it works for the attendees.

    4. Hillary*

      Take notes as you go and write up a summary when you’re back at work. It might be a powerpoint for your manager or just for yourself, but it’s always helped me to distill that knowledge after the fact.

      Also, bring an absurd number of business cards. They don’t take up a lot of space and it stinks to run out of them when you’re meeting interesting people. I usually just throw a new box in my suitcase.

    5. notfunny*

      If you are an introvert, try to find a little bit of time for yourself — to recharge so that you can make the most of your experience talking with people. If you have to eat lunch by yourself one of the days or take a break when there are no sessions that are of interest, DO IT. Conferences started being better for me once I figured out that I need a little break at some point.

  26. Windchime*

    I am dealing with an extremely condescending coworker. He was hired in a Quality Assurance role, which means he (along with another QA person) will be checking over my teapots before they head out the door to the customers.

    Several of us on my team had concerns before we hired him, because he was vastly over-qualified for the role. He has already proven our concerns to be valid; he is clearly not interested in doing QA because he spends much of his time preparing Power Point slides on lessons he wants to teach our team and on writing fancy reports for the internal team that are unnecessary. He applied for a different, more senior role when he had only been with our company for a few weeks. This was after he had assured us that he was perfectly fine taking on a QA role in his interview (which is what all overqualified people are going to say if they are desperate for a job).

    A few days ago, we had a team meeting where we were discussing a technical issue and trying to come up with the best way to solve it. (We have a very democratic team). Mr QA made a suggestion that we do a very, very basic thing that we all already do (think along the lines of “you must melt the chocolate before you can pour it into a mold”) , and I said something non-committal like ,”Hmmm”. He took that to mean that I didn’t understand so he began to explain to me, in front of the team, exactly how to do this very basic technical thing. It was the equivalent of saying, “If you want to type into a Word document, you must press your fingers on the keys.” He also looks through people’s work and picks out tiny issues that are style issues, not quality issues; for instance, Fred might use a flat butter knife to smooth his chocolate while Susan uses a plastic straight edge. Both result in smooth chocolate and both take the same amount of time. Because he used a putty knife at his old place, he will turn Fred and Susan’s work back over to them, claiming that they did it incorrectly because they didn’t use the tool that was preferred at his own place of work.

    After days of this kind of stuff, I finally had enough and said, “Let me be clear. I fully understand how to do [basic task] and I know what it’s for.” He was finally quiet but it was so annoying. In the early days, he had a habit of violating my personal space by standing WAY too close; thankfully, he’s not doing that any longer.

    Sorry for the long story. What it boils down to is that this guy is extremely condescending. He has managed to offend 90% of the team several times, but it looks like he is here for the long haul. My question is: How do I learn to stop letting it bother me? I’m struggling to remain professional while interacting with this smug know-it-all. I don’t want to start acting like a jerk back to him, because then the team will have two jerks on it!

    1. BadPlanning*

      Can you turn it into a game and/or amusement for yourself? Not that you should toy with him or laugh at him — but mentally add to your list of The Most Absurdly Basic Things Coworker Pointed Out This Week.

      1. Clever Name*

        I would be tempted to play dumb. Exceedingly and absurdly dumb. Ask how to use a stapler. How to sharpen a pencil. Then try not to laugh as he spends time detailing how to do these tasks. (I’m kind of a jerk)

    2. Mike C.*

      I work in QA, so maybe I can offer a different perspective or maybe some explanation.

      First off, there’s no excuse to treat anyone like crap, even if they do work in Production/Manufacturing/Engineering/etc. A big unspoken aspect of being a good QA person is diplomacy. Yes, I might be right with the rules, but if I’m a jackass about it, it’s going to make compliance that much harder.

      Secondly, what sort of regulatory/certification environment are you working in? Industry? Are you reporting to certain government agencies or private accreditation groups? I’m curious how important things like traceability or record keeping are to your workplace. I can think of several places where using the wrong tool is a huge quality issue, even if superficially the “results are the same”, but this is highly dependent on the workplace.

      1. Windchime*

        OK, the teapot analogy isn’t really working so I’ll just say it. We are in IT, and are doing ETL (Extract, Transform, and Load for those of you who aren’t in the biz) from source systems to the data warehouse. Many of us were new to data warehousing when the team formed a couple of years ago, but we are all experienced now (and I was doing SQL for about 10 years before I joined this team). A big part of my job is writing complicated SQL, both for the team and for the director of the department (the Director’s title is also Chief Data Scientist and he is no SQL beginner, either, but he will often off-load work to me under tight deadlines). I certainly don’t know everything about SQL, but I’m not a beginner. The topic he was lecturing me about in the team meeting was what a Left Outer Join is, and how they work. You know, the thing that you learn in day 1 in SQL class? Yeah. Really, really condescending.

        So the items that he is tasked with finding are things that might make a difference clinically and stuff like that. Like if we are importing all patients who have had diagnosis X; if we miss a patient, then that’s bad news and we need to fix that. If we have a process that takes 4 hours but could be reduced significantly by changing our syntax, then that’s a good thing to catch as well. If I am importing from a file and accidently missing a record, then obviously that’s a bug. But to ding someone for using ISNULL versus COALESCE? To assume that mid-career people are incapable of doing very, very basic things? It’s just so annoying.

        He is the second QA guy on our team. The first guy has been here about a year and he is invaluable. He finds lots of things for us to fix and I am grateful for him every day. He is diplomatic, fun to work with, and very precise in his work. I don’t have any problem with having a QA person; I’m glad that I’ve got someone watching my back and finding my mistakes.

        But this new guy is just grating on my nerves. He files bugs on style and hasn’t taken the time to learn our culture before jumping in to make bone-headed suggestions.

        1. Student*

          Presumably, there are specific QA guidelines or rules or tests that this guy is supposed to check for.

          If he bounces stuff back for things unrelated to the QA guide, ask him which QA test you failed specifically. You ought to require this kind of information as feedback, anyway. If he can’t cite an actual QA rule you’ve broken, then overrule his objection and tell him he has to actually pass or fail you on defined criteria. He doesn’t get to make up his own new QA criteria.

          If he does have the power to invent new QA criteria, then you’re pretty stuck. You have to explain the problem to your boss, that QA guy is trying to dictate how you work instead of doing his QA job. Your boss will either go fight this, or tell you to suck it up and abide by QA guy’s new rules.

      2. Labratnomore*

        This is a good point. I just assumed that it wasn’t a highly regulated industry from the wording, but in a place like I work using the wrong tool could be a major issue. Our procedures used to often have specifics written into them that didn’t need to be there, but it was in the procedure and if you wanted to do it different you had to revise the procedure along with the appropriate justification and approvals. We had issues with people that were new to the industry would perform the task not fully following the procedure then wonder why we were making a big deal about it since it turned out alright. Maybe he comes from a place that had better adherence to procedure than the current company?

        I do agree that he seems to have an issue with the way he presents himself though. Diplomacy is very important in any QA function and usually you get better results if you have conversations with people truly seeking to understand where they are coming from and why they proceeded in the way they did. If you have a good understanding of the people you are working with, then it is easy to work with them to improve the process. Acting like a know-it-all is a sure fire way to ensure that your ideas are dismissed no matter how good they are!

    3. Hlyssande*

      Also, who is managing him? If he is not doing his actual work, then isn’t that a performance issue that should be addressed?

      It sounds like you’ve already tried to address some of the condescension, but I hope that you’re willing/able to escalate if it doesn’t improve. You may need to.

        1. Windchime*

          Until recently, we all reported to the director. Just a few weeks after Mr. Bonehead QA was hired, one of our team members was promoted to manager. She has managed before and has a very strong track record of good management, but she is still in the early stages of assessing the team. So he basically joined the team while management was transitioning. She is aware of the situation and will be addressing it, hopefully soon.

          I just want to be professional about all this and don’t want to appear to be the person who is gunning for another person’s job, but it’s just so maddening.

          1. Hlyssande*

            I really hope she nips it in the bud as soon as possible, because it obviously having a clear effect on morale for your team AND he’s wasting time on meaningless issues that are only issues because he wants them to be.

          2. Schmitt*

            Here is a little bit of hope for you. We hired a guy about a month before a management transition – I was promoted over him. He was condescending, rude, fanatic about leaving on time without having addressed open issues, and the general consensus was that we would keep him around just long enough to find someone to replace him. The only thing he had going for him was that he was competent at the job. Personality? Communication? Hoo boy. He was complaining to other team members that he should have gotten my job – after one month with the company!!

            The first six months were really, really rough, but we set some hard rules and kept on him, and he made a pretty amazing turnaround. Four years later, he’s a valuable team member and while he’s not my favorite person, we have a good working relationship.

            I don’t remember any details; mostly, I just monitored his emails (we do everything with mailing groups) and nagged him about following up when he owed someone information. We did have several conversations with him along the lines of ‘you are going to work 9-6 now because when you work 8-5 you leave without answering open issues’ and ‘if you bullshit with a colleague for half an hour after lunch about general IT themes it does not count as paid time’ and ‘for god’s sake, man, wear some deodorant’.

            1. Windchime*

              Thank goodness we don’t have to worry about the deodorant issue. That would seriously push me over the edge.

              I think many of the problems arise from the fact that this guy is seriously over qualified. He has tons of experience at the Big Software Place in many roles. He got laid off from there, and said all the things you would expect an overqualified person to say; “I want to step back and have a better work/life balance”, “At this point of my career, I’m happy with a 9-5 job”, “No, seriously, I really love QA”. He needed and wanted a job and I get that, but this is why people don’t like to hire overqualified candidates; they think they should be running the joint on their second or 3rd week.

    4. CLT*

      So often I find that when people are being annoying they have no idea they are being annoying. We all have blind spots, and a person new to his job can be completely blind and trying to do the work before establishing a feel for the place. Imagine yourself in his shoes, blundering around and annoying people without realizing it, and then imagine what kind words from a kind co-worker would help you to see better… New people often need advice from people who have been around a while, even though they are subordinate in some way. The trick is finding the right words and the right tone to share what you know. Good luck! This is a tricky one!

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        This was kind of what I was thinking. Yes, he’s tone deaf and ignorant, but nothing about it sounds malicious, it sounds like he is trying to help, but f(l)ailing at it.

        Maybe you can suggest having him silently shadowing the team he does QA for for an hour or even a day each (depending on the size of the team), so he gets a feel for what you know and what you do? He shouldn’t assume that you don’t know what you’re doing, and he is overstepping boundaries, but those are issues that his supervisor has to address. I’m suggesting a parallel approach, in addition to or instead of someone higher up instructing him to modify his behavior, because you probably have more limited input into that approach.

        1. Windchime*

          This is a really good idea. I worry that it may be too late, since he has already been here for a couple of months but it is something I will suggest to his manager.

    5. TNTT*

      I unfortunately don’t have much advice, but I am amazed by your commitment to the chocolate teapot analogy here! Good work. Maybe if you pretend he’s talking about teapots it will bother you less?

    6. Anonsie*

      Oh god, the condescending explanation. I’ve worked with some guys where, if they told you they were going to put all their paperwork on the moon and you asked how they were going to get the papers up there, they’d sigh and slowly explain that the moon was a big round thing you might have seen in the sky sometimes.

      You don’t need to be a jerk, but you can just not smooth it over when he makes things weird so that he can actually feel the discomfort that’s rising out of this. A lot of time when dealing with someone like this people end up trying to play it off like it’s normal to avoid everything being awkward, but just letting it be awkward can sometimes do amazing things.

      1. Windchime*

        YES. This is a perfect explanation. I *know* what the moon is, but he has started off by assuming that we are all drooling idiots who barely know how to log into our workstations. I like the idea of letting the awkwardness just be awkward, but this guy really doesn’t seem to understand that things are awkward at all. The director had to actually speak to him because he kept trying to buy all the women lunch to thank them for doing things that are simple, daily things that we all do. Minutes before I left for my vacation, he helpfully informed me that, for a couple hundred dollars, I could probably upgrade my seat to First Class. I’m guessing he thought this might be my first trip on an airplane? But why would he assume that?

        The whole thing is just weird.

        1. Anonsie*

          Yeah he sounds like one of those people who just doesn’t read social cues. Which I sympathize with to some extent because I don’t either, really. The leaving it awkward thing sometimes does work on those types anyway, though, because it’s so unusual for people to let that happen it sometimes stands out to the offender anyway.

    7. Iro*

      What a conundrum!

      I would love to know what advice people have for how to diplomatically let someone know that you understand what they are talking about/cut the “training” short without sounding like a jerk yourself.

    8. NacSacJack*

      Consider saying, “Umm, thanks Jerry, I think we developers have got this. Appreciate your input. Remind him where he is and what his position is and where he stands in relation to you. Its a put down, but it draws big black circles around what is your responsibility and what his responsibilities are as well as his job duties. E.g. QA is supposed to find your mistakes, not help you fix them, nor train you in how to fix them. Good QA people often have technical skills and also have a lot of insight cause they see a lot of different code go by, but they should not be telling developers what to do. Someone has to remind him he was only hired for a small portion of his overall skillset.

      1. Windchime*

        Yeah, our original QA guy is just so very good at this. He is technically skilled, as written tons of automated scripts and other cools stuff that I, as a non-QA professional, wouldn’t have any idea how to implement. He is tactful and matter-of-fact and doesn’t try to teach us how to fix our own mistakes. But if I am having an issue that I need feedback on, I don’t hesitate to ask QA#1’s opinion because he’s very technically adept and is a good partner.

        New QA guy does seem to be anxious to get his hands on developement, which is totally not what he was hired for. I have actually said that in a meeting when he volunteered to do some programming; I said, “Actually, that should probably go to one of the developers.” Drawing the big black circle, as you put it.

        I’m struggling to be professional about this, but I am quickly approaching “bitch eating crackers” mode where this guy is concerned.

        1. "Nein! It's mine!" is just his line*

          I’d like to provide an alternative opinion, which is if you can ensure that it won’t get you fired or hurt your reputation, there is value to being confrontational about this person’s crap.

          I wouldn’t always suggest this, except that from what you wrote, I sense this is beyond merely being overqualified or some kind of quirk: to me, he sounds like something of a bully. I could be wrong.

          But if you think he’s a bully, and worse, he’s actively interfering with productivity, then you may want to consider taking some kind of action. I strongly suspect Alison has written columns on dealing with workplace bullies.

          1. Windchime*

            I’ve already spoken to the director about some of the stuff he was doing when he first came that made me and one other woman extremely uncomfortable (i.e., asking if he could take us out to lunch, standing WAY too close, and butting into every conversation we had). He has backed way off on that kind of behavior, thank goodness.

            I don’t think he’s a bully, but he is interfering with productivity. I think he is just a really big know-it-all and a pain in the ass.

      2. ThursdaysGeek*

        So, using the moon analogy above, when he starts to explain what the moon is, jump into what you really need from him: “Yes, but what I really need to know is whether the 2 stage solid rocket fuel is the best option or whether the more modern Mr. Fusion will get better long-term outcomes. Could you do some checking and let me know?” That gives him more clues for your level of technical expertise as well as letting him know what specifically you need from him.

        QA guy1 already knows what you need without your specifically asking, which is easier, but QA guy2 needs more training. When he starts explaining about left joins, explain back in technical detail what you specifically need from him, ignoring his primer.

        1. Windchime*

          Good advice; I will focus on doing that. It’s really hard to not come back with a snappy retort, but as my son advised me, “Don’t do that, Mom; then there will be two jerks in the meeting instead of one.” How did I get such a smart kid?

        2. Observer*

          And if he continues to explain about the moon, you might want to respond with “Why do you think I don’t know that? I’ve asked for theinformation I need, let’s please focus on that.” Or soemthing like that.

    9. Not So NewReader*

      FWIW, I think what you did was perfect. This is a person that does not understand subtleties. I think in order to gain any ground you will have to address things when you see them.

      “Please do not explain to me that the grass is green and the sky is blue. We are all adults here and it is presumed we all know that.”

      And this is the answer to how to keep yourself from going to “bitch eating crackers” stage. Don’t make everything the hill to die on, but pick out one or two habits that stand out and speak directly to those issues. Handle it the moment that you see it, do not carry it around for days.
      One way I gauge issues is if I see a particular behavior three times. Three is a magic number for me- I must decide if I will live with it, redirect it somehow or address it head on.

      I think a lot of times the real problem is not what the person is doing but that we don’t know how to handle it. If we don’t know, then we have to make a plan. Using my rule of three to narrow down what issues I will take on, I make my decision about a given habit. IF I decide to address it head on, I map out a plan of how I will address it. What will I say/do?

      This can get time consuming, but if you do it regularly you will get faster at it. And you will get more effective at it. You have already stopped him from standing close to you. Your reply in that meeting was perfect- it stopped him cold. So you are already rolling along here.

      Targeting the condescension, you can remind him that everyone here is familiar with X and he does not need to explain it. You can also redirect, “We do not need to have X explained, we need inputs for Unrelated Y over here that has us banging our heads against the wall.” I would try to do this in one-on-one conversations rather than in groups though, if at all possible. But if the entire group is rolling their eyes then that is a problem.

      Maybe you can enlist Good QA Guy to help New Guy assimilate more. New Guy cannot be helping Good QA Guy that much as things are now. So maybe he will be willing to help somehow.

      1. Windchime*

        Thanks, NSNR–this is good advice. I’m so glad I asked you guys! I’m getting lots of good feedback.

  27. BRR*

    I’m going through a problem right now where the quality of my work has slipped to below what is acceptable in my position. I’m currently being treated for depression, anxiety, and ADD and as my doctor tries different approaches my work quality has gone up and down with the effectiveness of treatment. My boss (who is amazing in every way) is not pleased with me right now though.

    I’m wondering if I should tell her because I feel like it’s a “it will get better situation.” But does this sound like an excuse? I was going to approach it by saying I’m being treated for a medical issue that involves the quality of work I am to produce. I’m at the point where I fear I will be put on a PIP soon so some advice would be amazing.

    1. Ali*

      This is happening to me right now, so I feel you, but I haven’t been formally diagnosed with anything. I just started to struggle with burnout and depression and it seeped my way into its work to the point where my boss did write me up. Like yours, he’s supportive but outlined that my work was not acceptable. Therapy somewhat helped me, even if it mostly showed me that I need to leave where I am now and start making plans for the future.

      Unfortunately, my job search is crawling and my boss claimed he would take more formal action against me, but still hasn’t followed up with it. So I’m stuck at this point.

    2. Lillie Lane*

      Oh boy, you have my sympathies and I’m sending good vibes. I’m on the cusp of this as well (without the solid therapy help…yet). I’m not sure how you could convey that it is a medical issue impacting productivity without insinuating that it involves mental health. This is something I’ve struggled with as well — how can you be honest and get help when you want to do well at your job, but there is a stigma associated with depression/anxiety/ADD?

      (Out if curiosity, do you mind sharing what has helped you so far?)

      1. BRR*

        I’m not terribly worried about a negative stigma, as I said my boss is awesome. If anything I would garner support, concern, and sympathy. But I just want to keep it private (however if it’s in my best interest to disclose this to my boss I do not mind).

        Here is the whole story which included what worked. I have previously been through treatment with therapy and medication which was very helpful. I then moved and discontinued everything and was fine for many years. I was fired from my first job partially due to bad management but partially due to some errors which I attribute to my lack of ability to focus on things.

        I got a great job after that and was noticing the same pattern. I sought treatment solely based on a medical standpoint (no therapy) because I honestly don’t know what I would talk about. I feel like I am only battling genetics at the point. I was first put on ADD medications (tried a couple and right now am on intuniv and stratera) and with the ability to focus I was able to do a lot better at work. My job involves a lot of reading and editing so the ability to focus is essential. For non medical help I found using a blank piece of paper to go line by line was the best tool ever. If not my eyes jump around the page and I miss stuff.

        I was still depressed though and my psychiatrist put me on an anti-depressant which made my depression worse as well as negated the effects of my ADD medication. So I was unmotivated (due to the depression) and couldn’t focus. My work quality slipped which made my already existing anxiety worse (not helped by previously being fired from my only full-time job in which I thought I was doing great at so I have some PTSD from that).

        The issue is with psychiatric drugs is so many take a while to kick in and also leave the system. So my period of time doing poor work has been many weeks. At least since the start of 2015.

        1. Lillie Lane*

          Thanks for sharing — that was helpful. Since you say your relationship with your boss is great, then maybe confiding in her would be helpful. Are there any work accommodations that you’ve identified that might help?

          1. BRR*

            My cubical is in a terrible location noise wise which makes it difficult to focus. Unfortunately I don’t think I can get an office though.

            1. Windchime*

              Would it help to wear headphones and use a white-noise app? I find that sometimes really helps me to stay focused. Yesterday, I even put a sign on the back of my chair that said, “Heads Down, please do not disturb.” It worked; nobody came into my cube while the sign was on the back of my chair.

    3. Mike C.*

      I think you need to have a private talk with your boss right away, you might be in need of a medical accommodation. If nothing else, I’m sure your boss will be relieved to see that there’s a reason all of this is happening.

      I’ve done the ADD medication dance and can’t imagine what it’s like dealing with depression and anxiety at the same time – though it’s possible that it’s the ADD that’s causing the latter.

      1. Damaska*

        Yes! I’m 90% sure that these issues are covered by the ADA, but the first step to dealing with it is to ask for an accommodation. There are quite possibly many ways they could work with you while you try to find the right combo of meds, but the first step is definitely to ask.

      2. Hlyssande*

        Yes, talk to the boss! Be proactive in scheduling that because it will seriously reassure the boss of your commitment and make it more likely that they’ll accommodate what you need without argument.

        I’ve done this with my supervisors whenever I know my work has been affected by mental health struggles and it was both a relief to get it off my chest and also made them happier to know what was going on.

      3. BRR*

        My doctor said that often times one causes the other (can’t focus, bad work, depression about bad work or anxiety about others seeing bad work). I seem to have both separately but they do affect one another.

      4. Labratnomore*

        I think it would be good to talk with your boss about this. I had a similar situation and it ended up in my review, but if I had talked to my boss I don’t think that would have happened.

        In my situation a lot of the depression was related to my work situation so that increased my fear of talking with my boss. I had been moved to a job I didn’t want (from one that I loved and had great growth potential) at about the time I was battling another round of depression. Then I started taking meds that really messed me up for several weeks and my mood was horrible. At the same time I was trying to work with my boss about the fact that I was not happy with my job. I think is she was aware of the meds issue we could have had much more productive dissections. There were many times when there was a meeting scheduled that I should have re-scheduled, and would have if my boss knew why I needed to, but didn’t and my mood ended up making me look so much more upset than I really was about the situation. Well of course because I didn’t handle the discussion as well as I should have with the meds messing with my brain, my review included the fact that I had a poor attitude.

    4. Anon Today*

      I just went through something very similar, and I have both good and bad news (from my own experience) for you.

      My work suffered for months, and I kept trying to get it under control on the work front… without tackling the underlying issues. Eventually, I couldn’t do it any more. I called my boss (over a weekend) and told her what was going on. She was incredibly gracious, told me to take a couple of days off to get my treatment plan worked out, and reorganized my work such that some of my colleagues could pick up my slack for a couple of weeks. That’s the good news. I truly could not have been better supported in the moment.

      The bad news is that my work had been, frankly, bad – and she had noticed and was deeply concerned. In the end, she concluded that her concerns were significant enough that she was not willing to move me into the new position we had been discussing for some time. I’m now changing jobs, because I don’t know that I could manage the slow climb back to the level of respect and trust that I would need to do my job well (and be eligible for great projects).

    5. fposte*

      If I were your manager I’d want to know. One, I’d like to be helpful to my staff, and two, I’d feel like a schmuck if I moved ahead with disciplinary procedures and didn’t know that there were health factors involved.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Find things to do that will work to make your outputs better.

          For example, maybe slow down a little bit and review things twice before moving on to the next part or next step.
          Once you map out your plan on what you will do let the boss know that you have a plan you are working with to improve your work. (Make sure you are using your plan, if it needs improvements then go ahead and tweak it.)

          Being able to talk about a plan helps the boss to see “Yep, OP thinks this is serious and has developed a serious response to it.”

          Pretend you are your boss. You have to explain to Big Boss why you are keeping OP when her work is falling off. If your boss can say to her boss, “OP came to me without my asking, and offered X and Y information. THEN she also offered a plan to deal with the situation. She seems to be working with her plan that she outlined for herself.” Big Boss is going to be pretty pleased about all this and leave your boss alone.

          Your plan does not have to be complex or Einstein brilliant. It does have to be real and be doable.

        2. been there done that*

          I’d definitely have a heart-to-heart with my boss. I understand that you don’t want it to sound like an excuse. I’m really not in a good position to know what works best with your boss, but you might want consider writing a statement and practicing delivery of it. No, don’t give the text to your boss! Just: you basically want to try to objectively summarize what’s going on, let them know that this is a personal situation but it’s reached a point where you feel obligated to let them know what’s up. Tell them what you’re doing to fix things, and be ready to tell them how long it’s going to take. Try to keep it to under five minutes, don’t go into excessive detail or apologies, say what needs to be said and then shut up and let them ask questions. Good luck with this.

    6. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

      If you had worked on my team for awhile and I was used to depending on you for a certain quality of work, which slipped, I’d surely appreciate a “this is temporary and this is why” explanation. Doesn’t have to be all the gory or super personal details.

      What would be going on on the other end: I’d be racking my brains as to what could possibly be going on. I’d ignore the slip for a week or two or even a month because, hey, we’ve been together for while and you’ve always done good work and everybody’s allowed to have an off spot. As each week went by though, I’d feel the internal pressure mounting to address and solve the issue, going through every possible factor many times in my mind. When I finally did, I’ve learned enough to ask questions to the effect of, is there something going on with you I need to know about, but an earlier version of me might not have, for fear of prying.

      I take this stuff so seriously, more so when people have a previous great track record. It would be such a relief to have you reach out to me, because then I could plan. I might even be able to rearrange workload to let you catch your breath.

    7. HAnon*

      I would work hard to put on your best attitude, really try to excell with a couple of projects so you can get your boss in a good mood, and then pull her aside and say “Hey, I just wanted to let you know, I’ve started taking a new medication to manage a health issue. It has some strong side effects, so if I don’t seem like myself, that’s why. I’m committed to making sure that I continue doing a great job here supporting our team, but I just wanted to make you aware.”

      That way, she understands that there’s a medical issue you’re dealing with, but you don’t have to go into specifics about what it is, and if you’re making a lemon face, she won’t assume that you’re just annoyed by your work or something like that. But do make the effort to make yourself presentable and put your best foot forward as much as possible. I know it isn’t easy, but I’m saying this as someone who’s in the same boat (been on antidepressants for about 2 weeks and there is an adjustment period) and the conversation with my boss helped.

  28. LizB*

    I’m job-searching, and the majority of the positions that I’m looking at require the employee to have a car. I have a license and a clean driving record, but I don’t yet own a car; I’ve been saving up for one all year, and will be buying one before I start any new job. What should I say on applications or in interviews if this question comes up? I’m guessing it’s best to be up front and say I don’t have one now, but will have one by the time I start — is that likely to take me out of the running for a lot of positions?

    1. Fawn*

      Just say you have access to one. You can rent a car if there’s some overlap between when you start a job and when you are able to get a car. No big deal!

      1. Lamb*

        Don’t assume you can rent a car without checking what your local car rental companies require; aside from minimum age and needing to use a credit or debit card there’s usually an extra deposite required and some rental car companies run a credit check.
        It’s super lame to show up to rent a car you need only to find out that you don’t meet the requirements.

    2. TotesMaGoats*

      The bottom line is that you need to be able to honestly say that you can arrive (and depart) work at the agreed upon hours.

      1. LizB*

        I can definitely do that. What makes it tricky is that a car is required for a lot of these positions because I would need to be driving around visiting clients, or potentially transporting them in my vehicle. I can honestly say I will have a vehicle that can do that by the time I start a new position — do you think that will be good enough?

        1. TotesMaGoats*

          As long as you have a vehicle before your first day of work, then you should be fine. The problem is going to be the what if. What if something falls through and you don’t have the car, what will you do then? Make sure you’ve planned for those things.

        2. Jennifer*

          Maybe not, or at least you would have to come off as SUPER EXCELLENT to make them pick you over someone who is just as good and already has a car, today. I think it would probably rule you out most of the time, though.

          Why aren’t you buying a car before applying for these car-requiring positions if you plan to buy one before starting the job?

          1. LizB*

            Because I’m broke. I’m saving up for a car with the money from my second job (part-time, on top of my main full-time job), and I’d like to save as much as I can before I buy so I can maybe get a used car from a dealership vs. a sketchy car from Craigslist. My current job is a contract position, so I won’t be starting a new job until the contract runs out in July, which gives me some time — I’m just looking around for potential jobs as early as possible, and noticing that lots of them have this car requirement.

            1. The Cosmic Avenger*

              It might reassure any interviewer who asks about a car if you give some specifics. Vague promises or mentions of “potential” can be red flags for some people. Would you maybe feel comfortable saying something like “I was considering a 2008 Honda Teapot at Carmax, but I am waiting because if I do not need to buy a vehicle for another three months I may be able to buy a 2009 Teapot with fewer miles on it”? See, something like that would communicate that you have definite, concrete plans, which I think would go a long way to allaying any concerns about your not currently having a vehicle.

              Some interviewers might also find this to be oversharing, but if they seem to be concerned about whether you have a vehicle or not, I think there’s a good chance that this approach might help in those cases.

  29. Anna*

    Dealing with some frustrations with our new finance director. Asked a straight forward question about budget, got told they wouldn’t be able to tell me until AFTER a deadline, but it would be okay because they would flag the purchase request. I went ahead and filled out a purchase request for a smaller amount and am now being told they don’t have a procedure for buying anything “that expensive” for my department. Really? I ordered something about the same amount last year and there wasn’t a problem at all.

    1. Observer*

      That’s why they have a new finance director. But the approrpiate response is not a refusal but creating the new procudure. What you should do is to ask for what you need to do to get this moved forward.

  30. Former Diet Coke Addict*

    Discovered this week that my boss has been stealing sales out of the territories of his salespeople. At least one many-thousands sale of mine and multiple from a coworker, just by never passing the leads to us and making sure we weren’t aware of them. When we did find out, because they’re in our territory and we saw the sales records, he said “Those are too complicated for you to handle” which is patently untrue.

    I have an interview week after next that I’m extremely qualified for, but the woman hasn’t set a time for me yet. Fingers crossed that I can leave the House of Flying Accusations.

      1. Former Diet Coke Addict*

        No. He’s the owner of the company, and HR is his wife. If I could, I definitely would.

        1. Ezri*

          The owner married to HR? I can’t see anything good coming out of that. :( Sorry to hear you’re dealing with it.

          1. TNTT*

            You wouldn’t believe how common this is! My old old job was set up this way, and it was a law firm. Hightailed it right out of there.

  31. Not a mom yet*

    My husband and I were planning to try for our first baby this summer, and he is also wanting to start up a freelance business around the same time. Are we nuts for doing this all at once? If he could stay home with the baby (with occasional babysitters filling in) and do work that would take some financial pressure off, but I’m not sure how feasible that really is. I’d love to hear any thoughts/experiences. If it matters, I currently make more than he does, and we could technically live off my salary alone, though it would be tight. But no way we could pay for full-time infant care if he doesn’t bring in at least as much as that costs (roughly $20k+/year in Chicago – eek!)

    1. MJH*

      The idea of trying to freelance with a newborn/baby/toddler is not a great one. You’re not going to get a lot of work done. If the goal is just a little bit of work on the side, or in the evenings when you are home, then that is doable.

      I have a friend who is a freelance writer and works from home all day every day. His wife works outside the home. Their daughter is in full-time daycare, because really, to run a business, you have to give it your full attention unless it really is a small side thing.

      And I feel your pain on the childcare front. Daycare costs take so much of one’s paycheck!

      1. Not a mom yet*

        Thanks. That’s kind of my instinct as well. It feels like a bit of a no-win though; since I do make more money there’s a little tension about the perception that my career is prioritized over his. So if I tell him it’s not a good time to start a business I don’t support him, but if he effectively ends up being a SAHD rather than being able to get the business started, then he will be upset that his career is stagnating because of it. Now this has become more of a marriage communication question than a work one!

        1. Judy*

          I know a family where the mom is an MD and the dad was an editor, wanting to be an author. He was a SAHD when the kids were little, but they did do 1/2 day or just a few days a week day care for the kids once they were 9 months to a year old. He did freelance editing and also worked on his writing while the kids were at daycare and later school. Now the oldest is driving, and dad is a published author. It can work, but not in the very short term.

    2. TotesMaGoats*

      I wouldn’t hold off on any decisions just because you are going to start trying to have a baby. I speak from personal experience there. It took 3 years to finally have a child. I kept waiting it out, knowing I was trying and hoarding leave, and end the end I’m still stuck in a job that makes me angry. I sincerely hope that TTC is easy for you and wish a successful and healthy pregnancy but I wouldn’t halt other plans for it. Remember, even after you get pregnant you still have 9 months until you have to do anything. Start saving money and leave time now and plan for those contingencies.

      1. Not a mom yet*

        This is a really good point too; thank you. I’m trying to find that balance of living our lives, supporting my husband’s career, and making sure that we don’t go into financial ruin over this. Tough stuff!

      2. Samantha*

        I was coming here to say the same thing. Things don’t always happen when you think they will. I have also been stuck in a job I hated because I thought I would be getting pregnant any day and I too wanted to take advantage of my saved up leave and great insurance benefits. I hope all goes smoothly for you, Not a mom yet, but like TotesMaGoats said, don’t halt other plans under the assumption that all will go according to plan.

    3. Jules*

      I work from home occasionally but will not do that with an infant or toddler at home. The are needy. Not in a bad way. They just needy in the way younger children are needy. If my daughter is sick, I will work from home but chances are, unless she is medicated and passed out, it’s unlikely I’d get much done, so I’d rather work once she is in bed at night.
      When my husband was home with my daughter was an infant, she has a whole house to crawl but she still sticks close to his feet while he is at his desk. He wasn’t productive either and it gets frustrating. If you can schedule when work hours are and when are not work hours and plan for babysitting accordingly, that would work fine. But if he needs to put in a solid 8-10 hours a day, it can be challanging.

    4. Ann Furthermore*

      If your husband really wants to give it a shot, then daycare is almost certainly a must. But there are cheaper alternatives that are just as good or even better than a large daycare facility.

      We’ve had 2 daycare providers for our daughter, both women who run daycare centers out of their homes that are licensed by the state. The law states that there can be no more than 6 kids in the provider’s care at one time, and only 2 of them may be under the age of 2. We love this option because we feel that our daughter gets more attention and personalized care than she would at a huge daycare center. And best of all, the cost is $700 per month, although most do charge a bit more for newborns (up to age 2 I think).

      I could write all day about how fantastic our current provider is. She’s one of those people whose true talent is working with children, and it is her passion. She’s always got fun things planned for each day, especially in the summer: a trip to the park with a picnic, the library for story time, a craft, a trip to the zoo or the botanic gardens, sometimes it’s even just something as simple as a “bug hunt” in her backyard. This is in addition to working on things like reading and math with the other kids too. And there’s limited TV time at her house — she used to let the kids watch TV when she was fixing breakfast and lunch, but at a childcare seminar a couple years ago she learned about the “30 minutes of screen time per day” challenge from Michelle Obama, so she started just playing music instead. Now and then they do a movie day or may watch a show here and there, but that’s it. My daughter absolutely loves going to her house each day, and she is loved and well taken care of there. I never worry about her at all.

      I found both providers by going onto the state’s health and human services department website. There was a map where you could put in your address, and it would show you all the daycare providers in your area.

      If you do go this route, make sure you get someone licensed by the state. They have to follow meal guidelines, adhere to all the safety regulations, etc. There are people that list daycare services out on craigslist or Facebook, but you have idea who they are or if their idea of daycare is to plunk the kids in front of the TV all day long.

    5. VC*

      A friend in a similar position once told me that of sleep, childcare, and work, you get to pick two. You cannot do all three.

    6. Elizabeth*

      I’m going to say something that will sound harsh, but it comes from repeated ugly experiences.

      If someone doing freelance work presents a contract that indicates that they are also caring for a baby or small child at home, we will reject them. If I’m contracting for work, I need the work done. I don’t need someone whose attention will be constantly divided, because our work will always get less attention than a small person whose has immediate needs right next to them.

      If your husband really wants to make a go of his business, you both need to plan to treat it a full-time-plus job. Daycare is expensive, but failing at a business is, too.

    7. Student*

      That’s a terrible idea.

      You can’t care for a newborn and work at the same time. Newborns need a lot of attention and work. If the baby is premature (pretty common), or has any serious complications at birth, or you get twins (common if you use any fertility treatments), then the baby needs lots and lots of attention and work. Whoever cares for it is not going to be working, even part-time, for the first few months. Either someone stays home with the baby full-time for a while, or it’ll be cared for by a full-time infant daycare provider.

      There’s also insurance concerns. Is your job stable enough to supply insurance for you, your husband, and a potential baby?

      As to the cost question, there’s something to keep in mind beyond the immediate cost. There are long-term implications to taking off time to stay home and watch children. Even if he isn’t making $20k a year to offset the cost of childcare, is he on a job track that will eventually pay well? Staying home to care for a child takes him off that track and sets him back when he goes out to get a full-time job later. Staying on the job track might lead to a short-term loss, but a long-term financial gain in terms of career progression.

      There’s also retirement funds, including social security payments. There’s also tax implications: is anything childcare-related tax deductible to reduce the effective price tag for your family? Do you get better tax returns if he works vs doesn’t work?

      If he’s in a dead-end job, then taking time off to care for a child can easily be a net gain financially for the household. If he’s in a job with a low entry-level income but a good potential trajectory (grad school, law school, job with serious promotion potential, job where he is learning new and valuable skills that he can leverage in a few years), then you might be doing your family a disservice by choosing short-term finances over the long-term game plan.

    8. Student*

      Forgot to mention. You should treat the freelance job and the baby as two separate things until you’re pregnant and through the first trimester.

      It might take you years to have a child due to fertility issues. It might happen on your first try. You might get pregnant and go through miscarriage; you might discover health problems that lead to abortion or reconsidering having children. Lots and lots of things could happen between now and baby’s birth (including divorce). No matter what, there is a 9-month lag between actually getting pregnant and having to make a decision about childcare. At minimum, you are 9 months out from that decision. It sounds like you’re more than a year away, at best, from having a child to make care decisions for, from your plans to start trying in “the summer”.

      Similarly, it might take quite some time to spin up a freelance job, or your husband might be ready to jump into it tomorrow. If he’s a year into a freelance job before you even need to think about baby care issues, then you’ll have a whole new set of cost-benefit issues to weigh, compared to right now.

  32. SickRecentGrad (TMI)*

    I’m a recent grad in my first job out of college. I’ve been here a year. We get 5 sick days a year, but I didn’t use any last year (I had one cold and some occasional mild nausea/vomiting). This year so far, I’ve been sick with a cold since Monday night/Tuesday morning, and I’ve been coming into work every day because I feel like my manager will think I’m lying/faking sick. I don’t look sick. I learned in high school and college never to call out sick unless I can prove it, and I can’t prove it without showing my manager my gross nose mucus (just…no) or going to the doctor (I’m not going to the doctor for a cold). There was another day where I nearly threw up at work but it was a Friday afternoon, and I was positive my manager would think I was lying if I said I was sick on a Friday afternoon. I’m nauseated right now too and I’m alternately cold and sweating/overheating…and it’s another Friday.

    I just try to wash my hands often and use good sneezing technique so I don’t infect my coworkers. Of course, it’s still entirely possible I’m going to get a coworker sick. That’s why I’d rather work from home. I’m getting over this cold already so I won’t be sick on Monday, but for future reference, how do I tell my manager I’m sick in a way that he will actually believe? (He’s actually very reasonable and sane, not like some of the jerks or nutjobs we hear about on this blog, and has taken sick days himself… so I’m not sure why I’m convinced he’s not going to believe me.)


    1. HigherEd Admin*

      I think you are over-thinking it. This is common for recent grads who I think are still in the mindset of proving to professors that they missed class or exams for legitimate reasons.

      You have sicks days. You’re allowed to use them. (In fact, PLEASE use them. Don’t get your coworkers sick.) Shoot your boss an email the night before or the morning of (or leave a voicemail if that’s your company culture) that says, “Hi Dave, I have come down with the cold that’s been going around and am not feeling well. I need to take a sick day today.”

      You can let your boss know how to reach you if necessary or whether or not you’ll be catching up on email from home (not always necessary), too. But you sick days. You get to use them.

    2. kristinyc*

      You say, “I’m feeling sick and won’t be able to come in today / Think it’s best that I go home right now so I don’t get anyone else sick. Here’s the status of [anything urgent that has to happen immediately]. I’ll try to check email a few times, and I’ll let you know if I’m not feeling well enough to come in tomorrow.” (Add/remove any of this based on what your company’s protocol is for calling in sick).

      Unless you’ve given them a reason to suspect you’d lie about it, they have every reason to trust you. They give you sick days for a reason. You’re an adult who can decide if you feel well enough to work. I hope you feel better!

    3. Not a mom yet*

      A reasonable manager isn’t going to make you prove anything, especially if you’re a good worker who does not have an attendance problem. I’ve never had a manager question a sick day. If you’re truly sick, call in sick!

    4. GOG11*

      I don’t think you SHOULD have to prove it, at least not if you don’t have a track record of abusing the system. And taking your allotted sick days when you’re sick isn’t abusing it. You’re an adult and a good employer will treat you like an adult who has good judgment and can gauge whether or not you should come in to work or take a sick day.

      Is this something you’ve heard and internalized or has your current boss given you any indication that he will handle your request in the way you describe? You may or may not be privy them, but if you have seen anything, how has he treated your coworkers’ requests to use sick time? I would think those should indicate how you should handle this more than what you’ve been told.

    5. KAZ2Y5*

      You need to adjust your thinking a little – for just being out 1-2 days you shouldn’t have to prove that you are sick. Where I worked before, you could take up to 2 days just by calling in but if you were gone 3 days or more, you had to have a drs note to come back (this was a hospital if that makes a difference). I would just follow whatever your policy at work is for calling in sick and stay home. And if you’ve been sneezing or coughing on everyone they may be glad for you to be at home ;-)

    6. Helen*

      ” I learned in high school and college never to call out sick unless I can prove it, and I can’t prove it without showing my manager my gross nose mucus”. Huh? I think this is all in your head. Just take a day off.

      1. Natalie*

        Well, it is definitely a thing in college, at least for exams. The policies at my university for sitting an alternate exam time (even on a non-emergency, planned ahead basis) are quite strict: documented illness, documented conflict with another class/exam, 4 or more exams on the same day, or documented car accident. Last semester I took an expensive cab to a midterm because documented public transportation trouble is not an acceptable reason to be late. You’re not allowed to attend the alternate exam time if you have to work!

        1. Ezri*

          I knew of a professor who was notoriously strict about attendance and exam times. Every semester he told a story of a student who panicked when his bus broke down on the way to an exam and frantically asked the bus company to call the professor so he wouldn’t fail. And he found that hilarious.

          I heard about that and vowed never to take one of his classes.

          1. Natalie*

            Ew, gross.

            I completely get that (most) students are at an age where they are learning to adult, but this kind of stringency takes it so far overboard that the effect seems to be the opposite. Students don’t learn to manage their own time and workload or how to be trusted so they don’t need doctor’s note for every little sniffle. And really, a student that fakes sick to take the test 24 hours later is probably still going to fail. (And I am personally incensed about not letting one take the alternate for work reasons – I have a 9-5 professional job. I can’t swap shifts or something.)

            1. Ezri*

              Here’s the thing with me – it’s not the professor’s job to teach students to adult. Adults have to be properly motivated by long-term negative consequences of their own volition (like failing a class because you skip all semester). The problem is that universities are micromanaging students almost as much as our parents did, which makes it even harder to transition to a more loosely-managed environment with more serious consequences. It’s also not healthy to teach a young adult that no one trusts them to act like one.

              1. fposte*

                Though the requiring an obituary thing isn’t hugely uncommon in the workplace either, so that doesn’t seem like such an outlier to me.

                1. Ezri*

                  That’s true, and some places require sick notes for single-day absences as well. And I think I’ve seen people on this site agree that employers should treat their employees like responsible adults. University policy has the same problem. Once I had to walk to the health center with strep throat and a 103 degree fever to get a note, all so I wouldn’t fail a midterm.

                  They go to such lengths to stop people gaming the system that people who don’t end up getting punished. I see the logic for the rules, but it really sucks to be under them.

              2. Natalie*

                Oh, I definitely agree that it’s not a university’s job to teach students to be adults. I see the value of a university recognizing that they’re dealing with proto-adults and modifying their approach, but as it stands now they seem to step into a parent role. Except they have 40,000 children and don’t actually know any of them.

                1. Ezri*

                  I agree – college is an in-between step for many young adults, but sometimes it seems too skewed towards treating them like kids. They need to have a better balance.

        2. SickRecentGrad*

          Yeah, it was the same at my school and sometimes the alternate time was the next semester, so 4-6 months away. You’d have to delay completion of the credit for 4-6 months if you were sick.

          People showed up leaking out of every orifice.

        3. Anx*

          I found out my grandmother had day the day of my organic chemistry and physics exam. Because of some specific family issues, I felt incredibly distracted and anxious after hearing the news and I hadn’t had much sleep the night before. There was absolutely no rescheduling. I ended up having to be walked to the bathroom during one exam (no leaving the lecture hall on your own) to throw up while a TA waited outside. I got an F on both and failed the classes. I kind of wish I just threw up in the lecture hall, looking back.

      2. Hlyssande*

        I agree with Natalie, it is definitely a thing in high school/college for a lot of people.

        For college absences, not so much, but to withdraw from a class because I literally could not focus on the words on the page (influenza for real) I had to jump through a lot of hoops because the on site nurses told me they wouldn’t approve the drop for a cough.

        In high school, the only way they would call your parents to go home sick was if you had a fever or if you were outright puking. Period.

        1. Anonsie*

          Oh yeah, I had to withdraw from a drawing class in college (which was a funsies elective I took for my own hobby) because I was in a horrible car accident and was badly injured and unable to get to class for a week. The professor refused to speak to me about it, period, and when I finally went to her office after a class with all the documentation from my accident and hospitalization she put in a request to remove me from the class the next day*.

          *My school had a thing where a professor could contact the uni to have them notify you that you should withdraw from the course if you didn’t want an F. It didn’t force you out but if you chose to not withdraw you would fail.

          1. Hlyssande*

            Wow, no medical withdrawal? That’s what I was able to do without it affecting grades. We also had a system where the teacher could recommend withdrawal just like yours.

            In my college, missing a day or two of class was a HUGE deal because of the course set up – one class every 3.5 weeks, then a long weekend, then new class for 3.5 weeks. It was awesome, but getting sick enough to be unable to read for a few days (in the philosophy in literature class I’d been dying to take) would have destroyed my grades if they hadn’t let me withdraw. And the nurses did…after my local doc gave them a very stern note and lecture.

            A girl I knew in high school was forced to fail her college classes when her sister died in a car accident while she was driving (bad timing – sister had unbuckled to get something out of the backseat just as a deer decided to cross). It was obviously extremely rough on her and they wouldn’t let her withdraw or delay the exams due to previous attendance/grade problems. I can see their point, but I was horrified on her behalf.

            1. Anonsie*

              Nope, it was up to the individual professor’s discretion whether to excuse or accommodate health related issues. Some specific provisions were given for disabilities or certain emergencies but it was not easy to hit those boxes and they were only marginally beneficial. You could get extras like being allowed to withdraw past the usual deadline, for example, but it was still like a regular withdrawal.

              1. Hlyssande*

                Wow, that really sucks! How is a severe accident with injury not immediate grounds for medical withdrawal? Or an emergency?

                1. Anonsie*

                  Well, it does. You just don’t get anything special for it. I was allowed to withdraw with a W on my transcript, that’s about it. I guess the policy is mostly “emergencies are your problem.”

            2. Kyrielle*

              Ah, the block plan. Where what would otherwise be a trivial illness, can kill the two days you had to read the book and write the paper. (I, uh, may have had that experience during one of my Spanish lit courses. Except my BS paper wasn’t totally incoherent and got me a C, so…count my blessings there.)

            3. little Cindy Lou who*

              Ooh some profs really need to pull their heads out of their rears and find where they stashed their hearts in these cases.

              I had 2 family deaths in one semester (grandpa and uncle, one on each side of the family). All of my other professors were absolutely understanding, most didn’t even ask for proof, but one real choice jerk point-blank refused to yield on his no absence policy even when I handed him the funeral prayer cards and obituaries, and he dropped my grade by 2 letters.

      3. Ezri*

        I have no problem understanding why she thinks this way. In college and high school, no one EVER believes you are really sick. It gets you into the habit of working through it, and it’s very bizarre to go from that to a corporate setting where people can stay at home.

        I still feel weird about using sick days, and I’m a year out of college. Being able to tell your boss ‘I’m sick today’ and have them say ‘Okay, see you tomorrow’ is like the Twilight Zone.

      4. SickRecentGrad*

        I’m not actually going to show anyone the mucus, that’s why I put “just…no” literally right after that sentence you quoted.

        That I had to prove illness in high school and college is perhaps the only part of this that is NOT in my head!

      5. Anonsie*

        Ohhh no it’s not. I have a huge complex about taking sick days that was beaten into my head from a lot of really unreasonable teachers and professors (and service sector bosses) too. It ruined my perspective on when it’s ok to take a sick day for many years after uni.

        Or any off days, actually. I went to two funerals in my academic career (10 years apart) and both times at least one instructor was angry that I was gone and refused to let me make up work despite advance notice, taking a hit to my grade.

        People keep saying “no reasonable manager” which I always find amusing because a whole freaking lot of people are not reasonable about sick leave at all.

        1. Anx*

          I was just about to say that as bad as school is about this, nothing has every made me as scared to be sick as some of the bosses I have had. And it’s not like they had to pay me or anything when I didn’t show up.

          It’s a pretty common attitude to know that if you want to go to a family wedding or miss a week of work for an illness it could mean looking for a new job when you got back.

        1. cuppa*

          Yep. The only time I ever had my mother call in for me at work was when I was working retail and called in sick because I had a bad migraine. My supervisor asked for a doctor’s note, so my mom called right back and talked to him.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          Yeah, really. I am not seeing a lot of difference. I am not saying being super-ridged is right- no,no-I am just saying there are plenty of places that are overly ridged to the point of wildly unfair.
          If I could only change the world…

    7. Lunar*

      I think you just do it. Even if your manager doesn’t believe you because you don’t look sick – it will be clear that you aren’t constantly faking sick to take time off when you don’t do it all the time in the future. Your manager sounds like a normal person who has every reason to trust you and trade you like an adult. Just go for it!

    8. Nobody*

      Do you have a reason to think this particular manager will think you’re lying? Does he have a history of not believing you or other people when they call in sick? In my experience, most managers — even some who are otherwise nut jobs and jerks — are pretty understanding of the occasional sick day (unless it becomes excessive or there is a suspicious pattern, like frequently calling in sick on Fridays) and would prefer for you to stay home when you’re sick. And most people don’t take a lot of convincing because they don’t want to hear the personal details of your symptoms. It will probably be sufficient to say you’re not feeling well and need to go home.

      Hope you feel better soon!

    9. ScottySmalls*

      As a recent graduate myself, I have to learn this lesson too. But honestly, if you’re not feeling well enough to work, or coughing/blowing your nose constantly, take the sick day. Alternatively, if you’re just feeling a bit under the weather and aren’t spewing germs out of every orifice, I think it’s okay to come in ( Let me know if I’m wrong commentators)

      1. SickRecentGrad*

        Yeah, I usually feel crappy to some degree, it just depends on if it’s infectious or not. A cold is unambiguously infectious and I really should be at home right now. But I usually have a baseline level of nausea, headache, dizziness that hasn’t gone away in a decade (except if I sleep for 12-14 hours a night, which is not realistic). I couldn’t call out for that or I’d never be at work!

    10. SickRecentGrad*

      Thanks everyone, this helps. So I have to just do it. I’ve been at this job a year now, with the same manager, and never used a sick day. He hasn’t questioned other people’s requests for sick days or anything, there is absolutely no indication he would say anything other than “OK see you tomorrow”.

      1. SickRecentGrad*

        Actually when we got snowed in earlier this month, I left a nervous voicemail for my boss saying I couldn’t get out of our subdivision and had to work from home. I offered to take a vacation day if that wasn’t acceptable. 5 minutes later my boss texted me “No problem, work from home is fine, it’s bad out there.” Turns out only one person was at the office and everyone else worked from home (including boss).

    11. sittingduck*

      I think it can be even simpler than what others are saying. You have NO obligation to tell your boss WHY you are taking a sick day, you don’t have to qualify you’re sick day by saying you have a cold, threw up, etc. You just have to say, I’m not feeling well I won’t be in today. Don’t feel like you have to ‘prove’ that you are sick, you said your boss is reasonable, he should take your word for it. If you want to share details with him, you can, but you by no means need too.

      1. Hlyssande*

        I still struggle with this myself. It always feels like I have to explain what’s going on to justify the sick day I’m taking.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Not a doc. But are you sure this is not profound allergy? That is what happened to me, I kept getting sick at regular intervals and it turned out to be heavy allergy. I mean HEAVY.

          I am sure your worry/stress adds to it, too.

    12. Lizzy May*

      I feel like the teen and early twenty years really mess with people’s minds when it comes to sick day. Missing school is always a BIG DEAL that can screw up your grades. It never seems to matter who you are or what your record is, the moment you miss a class you must be faking. Adding to it is those are he same years most people get restaurant or retail jobs where missing a shift is end of the world and even when you are puling your guts out the onus is on you to find coverage. I think these systems really do set people up to, down the line, be very hesitant to take sick days. I also think it’s very unfair to treat teens (and twenty-somethings) that way. People get sick no matter what age.

    13. nep*

      Why do you think your manager will not believe you? What’s the context? Has he demonstrated in the past that he doesn’t find you trustworthy?
      Your health and that of your co-workers first.

  33. Dino*

    So I have been interviewing for a position I’m really excited about. The process has of course dragged out way longer than they originally said. Each time they pass their stated timeline, I wait a few days, and then send a very nice email checking in. They email back that they are still “very interested,” apologize and give me a new timeframe. I am pretty sure I am one of two finalists. I know they talked to my references last week, and they promised me an answer by mid week this week, so 2 days ago. Do I reach out today? Also, should I be concerned about their inability to make a decision? Could this reflect a culture of paralysis, or is just how things usually go?

    1. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

      I wouldn’t keep reaching out every time they pass a deadline – it won’t change their timeline, but might make them feel frustrated with you. It’s so totally normal for hiring to take weeks longer than predicted. I wouldn’t assume indecisiveness – it could be anything. We recently delayed a process because a key interviewer got sick. We delayed another one because a top candidate was out of the country. And another because a person who had nothing to do with the hiring process had a death in the family, and the hiring manager had to fill in for her. I doubt they are just having trouble making up their minds, but rather dealing with any number of other things that are holding them up.

    2. Jennifer*

      Hah, I hear ya, I’m on the end of the third week–pretty much at the edge of the time they told me they should be deciding. However, I’m 99% sure I’m not going to get that job anyway so I am not super concerned at this point. Plus I applied for three other jobs in the last three weeks….of course, haven’t heard anything on those either.

      Oh well. I accept my lot in life at this point.

      If they still don’t know yet, they still don’t know yet and your doing another nag e-mail probably isn’t going to make them speed up, unfortunately. I might wait to e-mail yet again until the middle of next week just to find out what the new timeline, yet again, is.

  34. Inconnu*

    I had a situation with an employee (Sansa) whom I supervise and another staff member (Arya–who does not report to me.) in which Sansa thought that Arya was doing something she should not have been doing. I brought up Sansa’s concern with Arya’s supervisor (it was my first instinct.) Arya came to my office to explain her side of the situation, but then Sansa proceeded to argue with her. I told Sansa to wait at her desk while I talked to Arya and I later had to reprimand Sansa for her behavior. Is there a better way I could have handled this situation? How should I proceed from here? I do realize that I should have talked to Arya first before going to her supervisor. Thanks for any advice you have to offer.

    1. Katie the Fed*

      Hm, I would have done this:

      Ask Sansa if she’s talked to Arya directly. If she can’t/won’t, then bring in Arya’s supervisor as well when Arya talks to you, and do it in a private location so Sansa can’t hear or interrupt.

    2. 50 Shades Of Plaid*

      I think you were correct talking to Arya’s supervisor first. It sounds like you did all of this with Sansa in your office? I think I would have talked to Arya’s supervisor – and Arya too – in private.

      If you learned that Sansa was incorrect, I’d tell her privately that you had investigated the situation, and (probably) explain to her that she was mistaken.

      But if you learned that Sansa was correct about Arya’s misbehaving, I think I would probably ask Arya’s supervisor how they wanted to handle it, and proceed from there. Note that your business may have different policies than I am familiar with: at my place of work, it would be incorrect for me to discipline Arya directly. By the standards of your work culture, you may have handled this perfectly.

      Also: I do not know the exact timing of events. You may have been attempting to do exactly what I said, and Sansa and Arya walked into your office at exactly the wrong moment(s).

  35. Beezus*

    Anyone else affected by the ILWU-PMA labor negotiations on the US West Coast? How is it hitting your company?

    1. Beezus*

      I work for a manufacturing company, and we move a decent amount of cargo in through the US West Coast. We’ve increased our stock till our warehouses are bursting at the seams, and rented a modest amount of additional warehouse space. We’ve paid air freight costs out the nose. We’ve rerouted some of our cargo through other ports, but aren’t seeing a huge amount of relief on turnaround times, and we have some geographic limitations on how much of that we can do. We’re over budget on international transportation due to air freight, detention and demurrage, higher SSL rates and terminal fees, etc. etc. Don’t get me started on manufacturing disruption costs and late product delivery related to things not arriving on time because the ports are backed up.

      With the PMA deciding not to schedule work this holiday weekend, I’m biting my nails waiting to get a call from my freight forwarder rep, or a JOC update, telling me there’s a lockout or a strike. I’m kind of hoping for one, really – it would be painful, but we’ve been talking about it for over a year, they’ve been in negotiations for nine months, the ports have been backed up for 4-5 months, and I’m just ready for it to come to a head, just to get it that much closer to being over.

      1. Ineloquent*

        Oh boy, I feel your pain. I work in imports, and while the vast majority of my shipments come by air, I do see the much higher prices and frustration that my export counterparts are experiencing when trying to get stuff shipped via ocean on the west coast. Not much fun.

    2. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

      Just another Large Hurdle in our way. There’s always a couple at a time. I swear that if we could have a decent period of stability and no Large Hurdles, we’d make a zillion dollars ’cause we could just concentrate on selling stuff. :)

      This Large Hurdle requires a lot of switching customers off from Item A in blue to Item Z in black, so it’s impactful on our employee time and our customers’ satisfaction. With tens of thousands of SKUs across hundreds of suppliers, it’s challenging!

      Worse though, is the new UPS and FedEx DIM calculations. That’s the killer of the first half of this year.

    3. Beezus*

      I hear ya on the Large Hurdles, I have them too.

      This one amazes me. Today, there were 19 container ships waiting outside the ports. Normally, there are only one or two. The normal time to get a ship in, unloaded, and containers available for pickup was 5-7 days, now it is 18-25, and if you have rail transport after that, there are backlogs there, too. I am glad I don’t work in an industry with perishables!

      I know I’m a big nerd, but it’s such an enormous, complex system, and it’s so fascinating to me to see the effects when something goes wrong with it! I’m going to comment below with a blog link showing some really cool aerial photos of the container ships lined up at the port, all the containers waiting, and all the trucks lined up to get them. The scale of it all just boggles the mind.

  36. kristinyc*

    Update on the non-profit job for which I’ve been interviewing since the beginning of January (wore the dress instead of a suit to the interview, did a ton of research on salary ranges – thanks to all for the great advice a few weeks ago)!

    They reached out to me about doing a background check and checking references on Wednesday. Yesterday they called at least one of my references (not sure if they called the others – she just emailed me). The part 2 of their application that I had to fill out during this stage was really comprehensive (like, they wanted my HS and college cities and graduation dates, previous managers names, phone numbers and addresses, etc. That was fun to gather…). So, fingers crossed!

    Hopefully the last thing I need to navigate – start date. They had said they’re hoping for this person to start the first week of March. I currently have a vacation planned March 10 – 17. It’s pretty flexible and I could shorten the trip if I need to (it’s visiting family/ a friend’s bachelorette party, all in a fun location). I don’t think I should work a week and a half and then take a week off, so I’m thinking of just shortening the trip (like, make it Thursday through Monday instead of Tuesday through Tuesday), since I’d really prefer not to cancel it. I haven’t brought it up to them yet (waiting on an offer).

    1. HigherEd Admin*

      Yeah, I would bring it up at the offer stage. Let them know you have a pre-planned trip and ask if it would be alright to keep your trip as scheduled. Anytime this has happened to me in the past, New Employer has been really understanding and I was able to keep my trips as planned.

    2. Sunflower*

      This is something I’m having some trouble navigating as well. My sister is getting married early May and I have 5 days between mid-March and then that I need to take off(including 3 days for pre-paid vacation) for that. Of course, this has to happen right before summer when I literally take 95% of my vacation days!

  37. Jessica*

    Hi All,

    As an unemployed person, I had some great news this week when I got a request for a phone interview. Woo hoo! However, while I typically am very careful that the companies I apply to meet a few criteria, like location, I apparently didn’t do my due diligence and realized afterwards that the company is very far from my house. It would be quite a commute. I’m not sure if this is a dealbreaker, but I wanted to discuss work-from-home options. At what point? Not the phone interview, I would think, but if I get a face-to-face? Or offer letter stage? They describe themselves as a flexible company, so I want to know what that means. BTW, this is not a high level position, so it would be easy to fill.

    1. Jessica*

      And as a related question, I’ve been applying to a few jobs that have been lower than my experience at companies I really admire or seem like great workplaces. Kind of, “foot in the door” jobs. Is this a bad idea? I sometimes feel like I am selling myself short and it will backfire in the long run, but other times I want to just get on board at a certain company. Any thoughts on this?

    2. fposte*

      Oof. Is there any indication that the company regularly has teleworkers? Do they have anything like a work-from-home policy on their website? Do you know what would make the distance a dealbreaker for sure?

      I think all those are in the “when” equation. If it’s a dealbreaker for you and they have no indication of work from home policies, you don’t want to waste their time so you either just bail or bring it up early; if you think you could do the commute for a while and then adjust and they seem to have work from home latitude, that might be more of an offer stage situation. So I’d explore through the phone interview phase and then make my decision based on what I thought about the commute and their policies at that point.

      1. Jessica*

        So, they describe themselves as flexible with a great work/life balance and I would love to know what exactly that entails. I’ve tried to find specific work-from-home data, but no luck yet. The dealbreaker part comes from the fact that I want to see my kid at night. Every parent does, but I also happen to be a single parent in the most literal sense, given that her father is deceased. In every aspect, this is a huge hurdle. But I am also unemployed and running out of money quickly. I worry that I may just jump at any job and get stuck commuting 2 hours each day. I need to organize my thoughts on this and luckily, I have a week to prepare. Would it be too much to ask during the phone interview, “You describe yourself as a flexible company… what do you actually mean by that?”

        1. kristinyc*

          I think that’s perfect – I’ve asked very similar questions (I live in an outer borough of NYC, and it takes me well over an hour to get to certain parts of Manhattan, so I usually ask about tWFH policies in interviews).

          In general, I’ve found that if I company brags about their work/life balance on their site, they probably mean it. If they don’t say anything about it at all, then you definitely need to be cautious. Good luck!

    3. TotesMaGoats*

      Well, if it’s not a high level position, then my guess is that the chances of work from home are lower. That’s true in my job. But the lower level employees have to physically be at work due to the nature of their work. (ie Face to face appointments, events). If the job doesn’t require you to be physically in the office, you might have a greater chance. I would say that the convo could start at the face to face stage of the process and get into details in the offer letter stage.

      Partly in answer to your other question, when considering commute, if the job gets your foot in the door the commute might be worth if for a while to get to the level where you can work from home.

      1. Jessica*

        Yes, I feel like it may be a case of foot in the door. I could stand to commute for a year if I was able to move to a higher position with more flexibility. This isn’t an HQ though, so this office may only have a very specific set of positions you can go into. That’s another thing I want to know….if I can actually move into the position I want to while staying in my home state.

  38. matcha123*

    I have a question about a translation I’m working on and would like to hear thoughts from the people the work would be targeting; non-Japanese who are interested in traditional Japanese food.

    Would you prefer to read romanized Japanese words or an English explanation of those words? The English explanation would mean that less overall information is translated due to spacing. The romanized word would appear as something like: “When celebrating kanreki, sekihan is a popular food item along with tsukemono and nimono.”
    A translation that doesn’t use romanized words, but takes up the same amount of space would be something like:
    “On their 60th birthdays, Japanese people eat traditional celebratory foods.”

      1. matcha123*

        Unfortunately, due to space issues, I can’t do this one. I agree it would be the best, and where there is space I try to do just that :(

      2. Serin*

        I agree with this — I don’t know how much knowledge you’re assuming, but to a reader with only a sushi-level knowledge, I would want to see the translation/explanation and begin to learn the words.

    1. Jessica*

      I’m a person that immediately looks up the meaning of words on my phone, so I would personally prefer the romanized version because I like to learn the word origins. Is this educational?

      1. matcha123*

        Thank you. It’s something that was originally made for Japanese people to encourage them to eat more traditional Japanese food, so, yes an educational pamphlet. Since, apparently Japanese people are eating more Western foods than Japanese ones.
        As such, the whole layout is based on what fits with the original Japanese with very little I can change.

        1. Jessica*

          Then I say definitely go for the romanized version. I love that it uses the names and it makes me, personally, want to dig a little deeper.

    2. Muriel Heslop*

      I like the first version rather than the second. I don’t know what the traditional celebratory foods are and since I am interested in traditional Japanese food, I want to learn the names of things.

    3. AndersonDarling*

      I like the romanized Japanese version. It paints the picture, and it is really the picture that sells the item. But I read my J. Peterman catalogs like a magazine, so I’m a bit biased.

    4. matcha123*

      Thank you all for the replies so far!
      This is going to come in handy when I have to make my case for choosing one over the other :)

    5. ZSD*

      Honestly, I think either of those options would make me annoyed at your company if I read that brochure. If I read that Japanese people ate traditional celebratory foods, I would think, “*What* celebratory foods?!” But if I read the romanizations you gave here, I would be annoyed that the brochure was expecting me to know this vocabulary. (Like others, I would go look it up, but I’d be annoyed that I had to.)
      Of the two, I’d prefer the romanization, but if you really don’t have space for a definition in-text, could you at least include a glossary at the back of the packet?
      To be clear, I’m not at all expressing annoyance at you personally. I realize that you’re just trying to work within the guidelines you’ve been given. But I think that your supervisors should really allot more space in this booklet to make it as informative as possible for the readers. With the space limitations they’re currently giving you, I’m afraid all you’ll be able to accomplish is annoying people.

      1. Anonsie*

        Normally I might agree but non-Japanese people that are interested in stuff like this are very, very likely to either know a lot of the terms or have an easy resource to find the meaning without being miffed. I think it’s an audience thing.

      2. matcha123*

        Yeah, this is a big issue with a lot of translations I get. Space is limited and the people that have made the request want non-Japanese speakers to understand the text in the same way as Japanese speakers.

        I guess from an American perspective, it would be like writing, “Many Americans drink Corona on Cinco de Mayo.”

        We were able to provide explanations of some words, but the further I get into the piece, the more one-time only words pop up. Like the kanreki I mentioned above. Thank you all again. I’m certain my coworkers would agree, we’ll have to see about the people who made the request :)

      3. 50 Shades Of*

        I concur. Based on the information provided, I’d say you need to make it work both ways. Or come up with a better third solution. If necessary, go back to the client. I think this is a situation where choosing one of the two solutions over the other will result in a work that has no value.

      4. 50 Shades O*

        I concur. Based on the information provided, I’d say you need to make it work both ways. Or come up with a better third solution. If necessary, go back to the client. I think this is a situation where choosing one of the two solutions over the other will result in a work that has no value.

    6. ZSD*

      How about, “On their 60th birthdays, Japanese people eat red beans and rice, pickles, and stew”? Would that fit? (Based on what I just Googled, those seem like decent brief translations of sekihan, tsukemono, and nimono, respectively.)

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        ZSD’s version would definitely be preferable to me, then the romanized version, then the less specific translation last. I’d also have Googled the Japanese words in the romanized version, like ZSD and Jessica mentioned, because I love food tourism and Japanese food specifically.

    7. Mitchell*

      Are there photos that would help people guess the meaning of the romanized words? If so, I would lean towards the romanized version. From your first example, I could probably guess that sekihan, tsukemono and nimono are types of food but a 60th birthday is kind of hard to illustrate.

      1. matcha123*

        Yeah, the 60th birthday is apparently based on completing five cycles of the Chinese zodiac, in which one animal represents one year. And I guess turning 60 means the end of an old life and the start of a new one.
        … Which I didn’t know until I spent time on Google at work on Friday. So, like you said, even if I were to write “60th birthday,” it doesn’t truly capture the history behind the tradition!

    8. Beezus*

      Can you do a blend? You say your demographic is non-Japanese people who are interested in Japanese food, so can you add English explanations related to the food specifically, and leave the rest as a romanized translation?

    9. RG*

      Since you mentioned downthread that the Japanese version (I’m assuming kanji) is included, then I would prefer romaji so I could actually look it up as I went along. If not, then I would probably stick with just English. While romaji is useful, the limited number of sounds and the writing systems makes it difficult to absorb new vocabulary if all you have to go off of is the romaji.

    10. Lamb*

      From the examples you gave, I would blend. Use translations for the non-food words, like “60th birthday”, and use the romanized food names so that they will be what the reader would see elsewhere (menus, stores, cookbooks) to refer to the same foods.
      I agree with a previous poster that “celebratory foods” is uninformative.

    11. Schuyler*

      This is pretty cool. Once upon a time I thought about majoring in Japanese and working as a translator. Now my Japanese is so nonexistent I’m trying to figure out the best way to learn again! In general, I dislike romaji. (I think that’s largely because I studied five years’ worth of Japanese in high school, and then again in college.) But I think in cases like referring to festivals or particular foods or something that don’t have actual translations it’s cool. For instance, I mentioned hinamatsuri yesterday and used romaji. Since you don’t have the space to translate the Japanese, it’s probably better to err on the side of clarity and nix the romaji.

  39. Hlyssande*

    There was a memo on the internal website this week for the biggest business unit we support saying they had to reduce headcount, either by voluntary early retirement or involuntary layoffs. We’re in oil and gas, so the drop in oil prices is hitting some of our business units hard.

    The department president had a meeting with us today to talk about that and let us know that there are no planned layoffs in our group, but open positions won’t be filled and travel is cut. He says he hasn’t been asked to reduce headcount at all and his updated budget proposal was accepted, but people are still understandably nervous.

    Not really how I wanted to go into a weekend.

    1. Ineloquent*

      At least they’re being pretty open about it. I worked somewhere once where they did surprise layoffs to a whole department just before the holidays.

      1. Hlyssande*

        Yeah, I was really happy with how open the Dept Prez is about what we’re doing. It was the same way in 2009 too, and we didn’t reduce headcount then.

        I still can’t not worry about it, though.

    2. Bea W*

      Large round of layoffs just happened here the other day. Not the same industry, but depressing all the same, as if we needed anything more to be depressed and angry about in New England. Srsly.

    3. nep*

      Chin up. May you ride out this rough patch and make it through. I’ve been wondering about this — the price drop’s impact on people in the business. Heard a couple of related reports on NPR recently. Best wishes to you and keep us posted.

  40. Anonymous Engineer*

    Help, I’m a female mechanical engineer and I have no clue what to wear to interviews! I will be moving to New England this summer for my husband’s new job. At my current job, I wear jeans and a nice t-shirt with a scarf. I know that a lot depends on the dress code at the companies that I interview with. I just don’t want to wear a suit and end up looking over dressed. I’m thinking more business casual, maybe?

    1. Victoria, Please*

      Suit. It will be best. It’s hard to be overdressed as the interviewee. Unless you know for a fact that much of the interview will be on a dirty factory floor, just wear a suit and don’t stress.

      1. CheeryO*


        I’m a young female engineer, and I’ve worn suits to virtually all of my interviews. At my current job, people dress VERY casually, but my interviewers were dressed in shirts and ties on the day of my interview. I was confused when I showed up on my first day and they were wearing jeans and flannel shirts!

      2. How to Get Happy*

        Agreed; I am an engineer in the northeast, and suits have made the best impression on everyone I’ve seen. Better to dress up than to dress down!

    2. anonima in tejas*

      If you want to find something in between a dress with a blazer is less formal than a suit– particularly if they are contrasting fabrics, same with skirt and jacket or pants and jacket/blazer.

      If you want to do professional, but not suit, same dress/skirt/pants with heels, blouse and/or cardigan/sweater set.

    3. Anx*

      I only know 3 female engineers, but none of them have landed an permanent engineering job yet so I don’t know how useful this is. One of them wouldn’t wear suits to an interview for fears of looking overdressed. Eventually she switched to suits because she preferred them and the outfits she was wearing to feel professional-but-not-in-a-suit were still dressing up and didn’t eliminate the worry of appearing to care about her appearance to people that may judge her negatively for that.

    4. Judy*

      As a software engineer with 20+ years experience, I wore a nice blouse, dress pants and flats to my last interview. The person who set up my interview did warn me that everyone else would be in jeans and a casual shirt, so I wanted to be dressed a little bit nicer than them. I’m wearing jeans, hiking shoes and a quarter zip fleece pullover right now.

      But we’re in the midwest, and I was interviewing with a smaller organization of about 75 people.

      It’s really going to depend on culture. Manufacturing? Consulting? Place out in the ‘burbs? Place in downtown?

    5. Xarcady*

      It depends a lot on the company. But for New England, I’d say nice dress slacks with a blazer would work for a lot of interviews. If you wear a suit, I’d make it a pant suit, not a skirt suit. I’m basing this on what the male engineers I know wear on interviews and to work. They do dress up a couple of notches for interviews.

    6. nerfmobile*

      I’m a woman working in software design, and for my last several job interviews I wore dress slacks, a nice blouse, and a non-matching but coordinating jacket. (The last one I remember was charcoal grey slacks with a purple tweedy Chanel-style jacket). I am on the west coast (Pacific Northwest), so New England might require a skirt in some locations. But I think the outfit I wear is a good balance of showing that I know how to dress for executive or customer contact (important in my particular line of work) while not being stiffly formal and thus putting off the engineers who are in cargo shorts and Birkenstocks even in January.

    7. AnotherFed*

      Wear the suit (it’s ok to be more dressy than the interviewers on the first interview), but make sure your shoes are fine if you have a tour of the facility and have to walk out into any machine shop/factory spaces – I’m sure they wouldn’t take you anywhere steel toes or other protective gear was required without warning you in advance, but it’s not the time for the stiletto heels.

      Once you have a feel for the culture, you can dress down a little more for a second interview if that fits in better.

  41. Ibx*

    Hi everyone, I had an interview earlier this week for a job that was a great match for my skills. Unfortunately, I just received word that I did not get the job. This is so heartbreaking. I just can’t help myself from becoming invested in a job — I research the company, get a feel for the environment, etc. How can I prevent myself from being let down if a job doesn’t work out?

    1. Jessica*

      Ibx, I’m right there with you and I feel for you. Sorry to hear it didn’t work out for you. I had a *great* interview recently for an awesome job and had my hopes very high, especially since I had a referral and there were only two candidates. Heard no and was devastated. Not going to lie, I was down about it for a few weeks. I am also a person that gets really invested in companies and actually pictures myself there. So here’s what worked for me. First things first, I wrote a sincere, “Thank you for considering me and I hope you’ll keep me in mind” note so I ended on a good note. Took a couple days off the job searching and did some fun stuff to take my mind off the “I’m not good enough” attitude I had. Then I figured out what made me so invested in the company or the job. For me, it was the company. I spent a lot of time researching companies that had a similar feel and culture. It made me really happy to see that there are plenty of other fish in the sea. I also felt that not getting that job was a good learning experience, because I was far too invested on my end to have been in a good place to negotiate. I have an interview coming up and I am definitely more guarded and not as starstruck. I’m approaching it more as an equal, not someone who would just love to get a job there. It’s totally changed how I approach things and, I think, given me confidence. There’s always another good job out there. Best of luck!

    2. Nobody*

      Sorry you didn’t get the job. I know how hard it is when you get your hopes up only to be rejected. I think Alison’s advice on this type of thing has been to put the job out of your mind after you apply or after the interview. Just assume you probably didn’t get the job and keep on applying for other jobs, and then if you do get the job, it will be a pleasant surprise, but if you don’t, it won’t be as disappointing. I know there’s a temptation to stop looking and wait for word on the promising job before you apply for other jobs, but don’t do that; it will only make a rejection hurt more because you may have missed out on other opportunities in the mean time. And remember: there ARE other opportunities! New jobs open up all the time, and you might find one even better than the last one. Good luck!

    3. AndersonDarling*

      This just happened to my husband. He thought for sure that he had a job in the bag, then he heard on Tuesday that he didn’t get it and he was convinced that he would never get a job that would be as good.
      The next day he talk to some other folks and got a job that he is just as happy with.
      I like to think that there is a reason you didn’t get the job, because there is a better one for you out there. It is really easy to make a dream job out of an interview, but you really don’t know how it would have turned out.
      I hope you find the mystery perfect job soon!

    4. Jennifer*

      Don’t get your hopes up. Always assume you’re not going to get the job and someone else is still better than you are. Don’t fall in love and think you’re perfect for it and vice versa. Lower your expectations.

      Which sounds bad, but it really does help.

    5. sittingduck*

      This happened to me SO many times in my 3 year job search. I too get really invested/interested in companies, and think I rock the interview, and then didn’t get the job. Its heartbreaking, and while I understand the ‘Put the job out of your mind after you apply’ advice that Allison gives, for some people, like me, its just not that simple. That’s not how my brain works.

      I did finally get a job, and it gave me great perspective. I work a a very small office (5 people) and I had applied origionally for a now co-workers job. I had known the company for years, and used their products for years, I *knew* I was the *perfect* candidate for this job. I rocked the interview – and then didn’t get the job. I inquired as to how I could have been a stronger candidate, but didn’t get much feedback. I was heartbroken, I had just *known* this was the right company for me to work at. I was beyond crushed. But I did reply and nicely say that I would keep my eye out for future positions (not expecting much, small company typically has little to no turnover)

      5 months later on a Saturday, I got an email from my now boss asking if I was still looking for a job. I replied with a resounding YES and was offered the job basically on the spot, no new interview.

      Now that I’m in this job – and I work very closely with the co-worker who got the original job I applied for, I can see how she was a better fit for that position. I can also see that I would NOT be a good fit for that position, but I am a great fit for the position I ended up with, and she would not have been a good fit for this one.

      So despite thinking you are *perfect* for the position, the people doing the hiring are really the best judges of that. I’m actually really thankful that I didn’t get the job my co-worker has, because I now know I would hate it.

      Its all in perspective. I would recommend replying and telling them you are still really interested in the company, and tell them you will look for future opportunities, and then keep looking for other positions.

      There were SO many times I thought I had found the *perfect* job for me, and then after I didn’t get it, a few months later found another *perfect* job. It is really hard in the moment, but you will find other opportunities.

      Sorry for the novel…..

  42. SouthernBelle*

    I’m driving myself crazy! I received a call last week, asking me if I was still interested in a position. I, of course, said yes, and was then told I would be called this week to set up an interview for next week. I haven’t received the call yet and I’m driving myself up every wall in my house waiting for it! I’m super anxious about it since it seems to be perfect for me and this job search (8 months and counting) is really starting to wear me down.

    1. Jessica*

      Have you been unemployed for 8 months? I’ve been for almost 6. Want to make a crazy club? I know the exact feeling you’re experiencing and you’re right, it wears you down. I am typically a jittery mess. But that’s awesome news on the interview! I am also waiting and finally had to just make a purposeful effort to leave my house so I didn’t go nuts. The library was my friend because it’s 1) free and 2) quiet. I’ve also gotten really into binge-watching Fargo. Anything to keep busy or distracted! I’d LOVE to know how other people deal with that excitable, crazy feeling that comes with waiting to hear about jobs. I feel like I am bouncing off the walls usually.

      1. SouthernBelle*

        Yes! 8 long months of unemployment with a lot of false starts and small projects along the way. I’ve had a few interviews but none were for positions that I felt really suited me (and apparently they felt the same since there were no offers from those interviews). I’ve been unemployed so long that I taught myself how to crochet AND started selling what I make, something I never thought I’d do. I have to believe that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel though!

        1. Jessica*

          I did that exact thing the last time I was unemployed a few years ago! Sold crocheted baby stuff, that is. I’m thinking of opening up shop again, but this time with my homemade beauty products, a hobby spawned from necessity due to me being, well, broke. I’m a person that has to feel like I’m doing something productive, so crafting has been a good use of some of that extra time (and good god, isn’t there a lot of extra time?)

          It sounds like there is light at the end of the tunnel for you! Sending good job thoughts and vibes your way!

        2. LabTech*

          Hang in there! I was unemployed for 9 before finally landing my current position. They went 3 months past their initial timeline of 1 month – I got a call out of nowhere and went from abject poverty to career job in my desired field overnight!

          Hope you get the same lucky break I did. Keep plugging away at applications, and something will stick!

      2. Mander*

        Can I join the crazy club? I finished my degree in January 2012 and I’ve been looking for a job ever since with no luck at all. I’ve had one single interview and didn’t get the job. None of the usual things (temp agencies, networking, leaving my education off my CV, etc.) seem to be working. I got fed up and started doing some freelance editing but my clients are sporadic and I barely make any money. I’m seriously convinced that I will never have a job again, though I have been fighting valiantly to avoid complete despair.

        I never wanted to be a housewife but that’s basically what I am right now. I don’t even have any kids or pets and I’m not a very diligent housekeeper, so I sort of fail at being a housewife, too!

      1. BritCred*

        Obsessively reading AAM whilst on Sickness benefits etc is even more tantalising. a year and a half sick and really want to get back out there but body just isn’t ready yet… brain is going insane!

    2. voluptuousfire*

      Yes! I’m waiting for a response back for a part-time office manager role that emailed me on Wednesday to set up a time this week, but I have not heard from them. I followed up this afternoon to see about getting something next week but anymore than that makes me look like a pest.

      On Wednesday I reactivated my “professional” Twitter and it turns out my one follower was a recruiter I had met with back in the fall of 2013. I know I impressed him and was really glad that he sought me out on Twitter to follow. He’s at a new company and I tweeted him asking if his new company may open up shop in the US and he said it’s likely very soon. (The recruiter is in Europe.) I connected with him on LinkedIn and in the loop. It really makes me feel better that someone actually remembered me in a positive way and could be a potential ally in getting a job. I’ve had so many phone screens or interviews the past 11 months and since none of them panned out, it makes me wonder if I’m making the right impression.

      1. SouthernBelle*

        I can completely relate to that. I’m realizing that I need to work more on my networking skills (they’ve always been lacking and I’ve attributed it to being extremely introverted and just not used to having to do the handshaking and question asking that comes along with the territory). I do love the variety on LinkedIn though – especially since my career trajectory is based more on function than on a specific industry.

        1. Jessica*

          YES! I would consider myself an extrovert, but I have hit this roadblock as well, all due to my lack of networking prowess. I just never view people as networking contacts. I am slowly building it, but cultivating a usable network takes a lot of time. I only want to add people that I would be comfortable reaching out to about stuff.

  43. KAZ2Y5*

    Alison, thank you so much for this blog! I had a phone interview earlier this week (only my second phone intervire in 30 years) and have been reading up on phone interviews and thank you notes. I don’t know if I will get to the point of a “real” interview but I know I did so much better being prepared.
    I also saw somewhere that you said it was ok to send a thank you note up to 48 hrs after the interview. And it took me that long to think of something to add to what we talked about, but I was able to address something that I know they think would be important to the job.
    And lastly ( although I should have led with this) I think I was able to get the interview in the first place because of your advice about cover letters. So, thanks for everything and hopefully I will have more good news later.

  44. How to Get Happy*

    I am looking for some advice on how to get happier while at work!

    I’ve been pretty depressed because I thought I was working with a really tight, close group of people (we are engineers/scientists). We talked a lot about many things, and we also talked a lot about salary (which I know is difficult) – I told this one employee about my struggles trying to get a raise while underpaid, and she always asked me about it and seemed sympathetic. She had me promise to tell her if anything happened, and she promised as well.

    1-2 years ago we took on a massive project, and I did all the work for this one very high selling product which my manager somehow associated with her (possibly this is because I am not good at communicating my work) and she at the tail end of it, got a job offer from a company across the street. Then, she said she “turned it down” because she realized she would miss all of us. I know she got a great counteroffer too, because I interviewed for the same position she had gotten the job offer from, and they said they offered her x but she told them she had a counteroffer at y. I asked her if she really didn’t get a counteroffer a couple of times, mentioning it was the one thing very important to me, and she said no every time, even when I mentioned I wouldn’t get mad.

    So, I know it’s an issue of “it’s just business”, but any ideas on how to just get over it (aka, how to become happy at work with a coworker I no longer trust)? It’s been tough since I really did consider her a friend (which is totally my fault mixing business and life), but now I just get sad or annoyed whenever she goes “I have so much work to do and I don’t get paid anymore”. So, any advice on just how to go along on daily business/get happier at work when working with iffy coworkers? And yes, I completely realize I am at fault for mixing work/compensation with friendships!

    1. Annika Potato*

      I’m a bit confused – you are concerned that she is being paid more? I would ask her for advice because she clearly knows how to play the game!

    2. Anie*

      Honestly, in the long run, it’s none of your business how much your friends or co-workers make. It can be a really touchy subject. Just because she doesn’t want to share doesn’t mean she’s not trustworthy. It means her financials are her own business–and you’re probably making it weird by being forceful and promising “you won’t be mad.”

    3. Damaska*

      It’s totally possible that the company across the street lied to you, or that she had been counter-offered but something happened where they revoked the counter-offer but she ended up staying anyway. Something embarrassing could have happened that she doesn’t want to talk about. Something could have changed in her life where she doesn’t want to honor the original promise, or perhaps she doesn’t even remember making it. I think there are a lot of reasons not to jump to “my work friend is iffy.”

    4. fposte*

      It’s not about mixing business and life, though; the question you were asking was an invasive one that you didn’t have a right to the answer to. It’s not a breach of trust that she didn’t provide them, any more than if you asked her about her orgasm style and found out she’d misrepresented it.

      Yeah, I’m going for an extreme example there, but I think workplace intimacy can make it hard to realize when you’re going over the line of what’s reasonable to ask, so I wanted something that would be inarguable–hopefully :-). I would say this isn’t a reason for you to stop considering her a friend; it’s reason to be attentive to the fact that even friends are allowed to have boundaries and privacy.

      1. How to Get Happy*

        Good point. I think I would be able to get over it more if she hadn’t been the one to consistently ask me in prior months “how my request for a raise is going” and “did I get a raise yet” or “did HR say anything to you yet” or “what raise are you asking for”/”did you get a good raise this year”.

        So we are both probably too invasive and need to dial it down. It is a strange situation, but a good learning one!

        1. fposte*

          Ah, the “can dish it out but not take it” scenario; I can definitely understand why you’d think it was an okay question from that, and she should have been clearer that she wasn’t feeling it on the recipient end. But I’d still let it go as an answer and not consider it a measure of the friendship.

    5. August*

      From what I understand, she asked for salary information from you and you disclosed it to her, assuming that she would disclose her salary information if and when you ask her. However, she didn’t and that is the reason and you are feeling betrayed. I totally understand how you are feeling and I had been in some what in your shoes.

      I used to accompany my work friend whenever she asked me to (shopping, running errands etc) all the while assuming that she would also do the same if I ask her. However when I asked her, she said no. I reminded her that I have given her company many times. She said, while that was true, she never promised me that she would return that favour and I was free to say no when she asked me to give her company. I was hurt, felt like a fool and felt betrayed.

      I took it as a lesson that I would never help/share information to any one assuming that they would do the same thing to me. I help people only when I have no expectations what so ever. I have been much happier after changing myself. In your case, you were being naive and your friend was being super smart. She cannot be blamed for not sharing the information with you. However, you can learn a very valuable lesson from this incident which will help you through out your career. Don’t share your personal information/salary information/do favours assuming that they will do the same to you. If you are sharing/helping, you must be completely okay them not doing the same to you. If you think you will not be okay if they refuse to return your favour, then don’t share/help in the first place.

      1. How to Get Happy*

        Pretty much what I’ve learned from this! Sort of sucks, but in the corporate world a lot of people are out for themselves sadly. Which is understandable.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        Great advice. Always check to see if you are matching the person in front of you.
        In the example of running errands, does your friend help run your errands, too? In the example of sharing income information, is your friend tell you hers also?

        Pace yourself to match the person who is talking to you. This just works well for life in general. Friendship is a back and a forth. It’s easy to forget to check to see what we ourselves are getting out of a specific relationship.

        FWIW, in both examples these “friends” weren’t really that much of a friend and they were wrong. If either of you had allowed the relationship to continue on, while knowing this, then that would be on your shoulders.
        “Thank you for showing me your real colors. Have a great life.”

      3. 6EQUJ5*

        August: if it works for you, that’s cool. But there really is an implied social contract that governs human relationships. Your friend who didn’t accompany you is a deadbeat and a jerk.

  45. Trainer*

    I recently completed a week long virtual training course through a company where I had also applied for a job. During the course, I had a private conversation with the instructor and received extremely positive feedback from her about my natural abilities for this line of work. We got to chatting about my background and I she asked if I was networking and looking for jobs. I am, so I mentioned that I had recently applied to her company.

    She asked me a few questions about my application and then said that she would put in a good word for me if she could. I am not really sure she meant that or was just making conversation, but who knows? After the course was over I received an email from her repeating the feedback about my natural abilities and saying that I would make an excellent addition to someones organization. She asked me to let her know if there was anything else she can do for me.

    I am not exactly sure how to respond. I only know her though this online course so I don’t feel it’s really appropriate to ask her to recommend me for the job I applied for. But what can I do here? Obviously, I need to network with her and she seems to want to assist me in some way. Or she is just really nice and may have even had similar conversations with other participants. I’m not sure.

    What would you do? Would it be out of line for me to ask for her to make a recommendation for me on LinkedIn? Is there something else I should be doing? I feel I can only ask her one thing, so I want to handle it right. I also want to maintain a work connection so I don’t want to say anything that might burn a bridge either.

    1. Sherm*

      I think odds are high that she genuinely is interested in you and is not just saying these nice things for the sake of being nice. Since she already volunteered to put in a good word if she could, I wouldn’t ask. A thank you note can help solidify your relationship. You can add that you appreciate her offer to put in a good word if possible — which would remind her to do so if she forgot.

      I’m no expert, but I have my doubts that LinkedIn recommendations really have much an effect. You can invite her to your network, but personally I wouldn’t bother asking her for a recommendation there.

  46. Stuck in the Snow*

    I’m having a hard time at work, and I’m not sure how to handle it. I’m losing all my friends – the people who I work with most regularly and who are on a similar level (we’re very hierarchical, so while I’m friendly with people higher ranked than me, it’s not like we have lunch regularly, talk about our weekends, etc.) are all leaving for other jobs. I just found out today that *another* friend is leaving. Meanwhile, their positions aren’t being filled in a timely fashion.

    I’m happy for them, truly I am, but I’m sad for me! And I feel really lonely – there’s only 1 person left who I say more than ‘good morning’ to now. There are other people in the office, of course, but we don’t have opportunities to get to know each other as it’s a fast-paced office. It’s making me feel like I’m in high school, and I’m going to be the sad kid left eating lunch alone at my desk.

    Any ideas on how to handle the sad feelings and to make new work friends?

    1. Sherm*

      I would treat the sad feelings as natural grief that will pass. As for, new work friends, a little bit of initiative goes a LONG way. Invite a coworker to lunch a couple times, and you may have a permanent lunch buddy.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Maybe the new people will be friends.
      Or you could schedule a walk for lunch so that you are getting some exercise and not sitting alone at your desk.
      Or sit at your desk and read AAM. You will not be alone doing that!

  47. Victoria, Please*

    What do you do with your hands in a meeting when you’ve taken all the notes you can, and playing with your phone is rude (as always), and you are not a doodler? Knitting is kind of unprofessional! Has anyone figured this out?

    1. Azalea*

      I always just hold a pen, even if I’m not taking notes. I find that it keeps me focused and also takes away the awkwardness of what to do with my hands.