open thread – March 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 :)

{ 1,526 comments… read them below }

  1. Former Diet Coke Addict*

    I’ve been waiting for this thread all week. My workplace is in some serious business-deal trouble, in a very long and convoluted story involving four different countries, several different companies, banks, international lawyers, embassies, and so on. The gist of it is that it’s very possibly in the next couple of months that my company will fold, since we’re not able to absorb a half-million-dollar loss.

    No one hates this job more than I do, nor thinks less of my boss than I do, but I’d really prefer to have a new job rather than drawing unemployment while still searching! We’ll know for sure in the next month or six weeks what’s happening. It’s very nerve-wracking!

    1. Helka*

      Yikes, ‘nerve-wracking’ sounds like an understatement, to be honest! Good luck to you in all this mess.

    2. Revanche*

      Oh gosh, that sounds incredibly stressful. Safe to assume that you’re hunting for a new job now since it’s more than likely the company will go down? (I had a smaller-scale similar situation some years ago during the recession and the company wouldn’t tell us when they planned to shut until about 2 months out. That was fun times, I job hunted for almost a year after that.)

      1. Former Diet Coke Addict*

        I’ve been actively hunting for almost a year now, but it’s hard. I’m hoping against hope something comes up soon for me, since I don’t want to face a layoff situation! This had never happened before, so the whole thing is unnerving to say the least.

        1. Revanche*

          I hear you! Hey, I know Alison’s got most any advice you could possibly want covered but if there’s anything I can lend you a hand with, feel free to email me. Admittedly I have a newborn and hands are full but if I happen to know someone in your area and can send an intro, I’m more than happy to. I’m not much use in my own industry but my friends’ industries are wide ranging :)

    3. C Average*

      Oh, wow, that sounds like a complete cluster. You would be forgiven for relapsing and having some Diet Coke–with a generous splash of rum.

      Good luck!

    4. HarperC*

      So sorry you are going through this. You’ve got a head-start on the job hunt, though, and probably still have a few weeks left at least of this job, so that’s good. Good luck. I hope something turns up immediately for you.

    5. brightstar*

      Diet Coke Addict, I really hope you find something new soon! I know that place has been miserable for you, but this sounds like an absolute train wreck for the company.

    6. Anon Accountant*

      That sounds awful. It’s safe to assume you have an updated resume, cover letter, are saving cash and are job searching? What a terrible situation to be in.

      1. Former Diet Coke Addict*

        I am in Ontario, rural southeast. I actually had an interview at one of the government-funded job centres, of all places (which was one of the places where I interviewed and they swore up and down they’d call me back no matter what, and did not–of all places!!!) but I haven’t had a whole lot of luck there.

    7. Carrie in Scotland*

      Eeek, that does not sound good :( hope you find something worthy of your skills and experience soon (or at least know what is going on with your current org)

    8. Dawn*

      Holy cow that sounds barking MAD! At least you will have a really good reason why you left your last job!

    9. Nashira*

      This must be awful. I’ll keep you in my thoughts. I did the unemployed job hunt thing and you’re right, it’s definitely hard.

    10. Alma*

      All good “AAM mojo” coming your way, FDCA. You are wise and helpful on this site, and those qualities are hard to fake with this group – I hope you find a job that makes you dance for joy!! Soon!!!

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Same from me, FDCA! You’ve been searching all this time, so that means that something is going to come up soon. Maybe it be better than you dared to wish for!

      2. AlyIn Sebby*

        I Third it!

        Have a real coke first :)

        Not sure if this applies where you are but a temp. agency is a good way to keep working while job hunting.

        Can I say the name of the company?

        These people have been very helpful. I used them when we moved from one region to another and when I needed to leave a bad job NOW but needed more income that unemployment would give were I laid off or…

        Rooting for you to land on your toosh in a soft comfy cloud of a new perfect job!

        1. Alma*

          This also gives you a continuous string of great references to buffer (the ugliness) of the Old Job. It will also give you a taste of what else is out there you may not have considered. And may lead to temp to perm. Ya never know…

      3. Anonymish*

        Fourth this. You’re one of the many wise and kind voices here, and I hope something good pans out for you soon. We are all rooting hard for you.

    11. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

      Awww, you know I’m rooting for you!

      It couldn’t happen to a nicer boss but for you, we need you out of there and in a great job before the fold.


    12. Former Diet Coke Addict*

      Thanks to all for your very kind words–I really appreciate it more than I can say. I got a rejection from a job I interviewed at earlier today, just after my boss emailed us to tell us that he was going to be out next week but “monitoring your email, web, keystrokes, telephone calls, etc,” so…you know, not a great day at the House of Horribleboss.

      I continue to hunt for jobs, write thoughtful cover letters that explain why I’d like the job and be a good fit for it, write to keep my brain engaged, but it’s SO hard. So very hard. I’m so glad the AAM community is out there and so wonderful.

      1. Alma*

        My Mother would say, “He doesn’t have enough to keep him busy (if he has all the time to monitor every keystroke and flush of the toilet). I can find something for him to do…”

        I think this is a great thing – to write this ridiculousness down – because one day, one day soon, these words will be very very funny.

  2. Golden Yeti*

    Oh, man. It’s going down, guys. Stuff’s about to get real.

    We’ve lost several people recently, and one of those people found out that one of the Big Bosses has been referring to himself with a title he shouldn’t have been (as in, does not actually have that certification here). This person reported it, and told me so–long story short, I found out that the organization that issues those titles is going to be writing him a “stop it” letter in a few weeks. I’m sure the company will try to fight it, but one of the marketing pillars of the company is that someone with that title is designing the product. If it’s publicized that this is not the case, that’s a Big Deal.

    I think I should be getting out soon…

    1. Renegade Rose*

      When I read this, I couldn’t stop myself from thinking: “It’s going down! I’m yelling timber…”

        1. Not Here or There*

          If you’re going to get it stuck in your head anyway, I would at least go with the Postmodern Jukebox version.

      1. HigherEd Admin*

        Hah, I immediately thought of that rap song from like 2006: Meet me in the elevator, it’s going down.

  3. MR*

    I appologize in advance for the length of this post, but if you see it through, you will see why it’s so long.

    I’m frustrated and could use some help. I’m underemployed and have been struggling for years to become gainfully employed again. Let me give a bit of my background to help.

    I graduated with an B.S. in management and a minor in economics from Penn State in three years. I took an additional year to obtain my MBA, also from Penn State. During this time, I worked several part time jobs, and was elected to my hometown school board while I was in college when I was 20 (two years later, my peers on the board elected me as Vice President). One of my jobs at the time was at the newspaper in my town, and they said that at the time, I was the youngest person in Pennsylvania to hold public office. Needless to say, I had a lot going for me at the time.

    After getting re-elected to a second term, and having finished graduate school, I was looking for work. I took a job with Boeing in St. Louis as a procurement agent. I was buying machined parts for the C-17, F-15 and F/A-18. While Boeing has a reputation as a great place to work, I found the reality of that situation to not be true. There was ample opportunity if you were an engineer. I obviously was not, and found myself to be pigeonholed. There really were no opportunities in other areas, and so I was either going to be in my area until the programs shut down (due to technological advances) or I would have to move on. I chose to move on.

    So, I bought a bar. I had no real experience working in a bar/restaurant, but up to this point, just about everything I had done, I was successful. I bought the bar, but continued to work for Boeing. I hired a manager to do the day-to-day stuff, and that worked well. For awhile. But because I didn’t know the nuances of the industry, things slowly fell apart. After about eight months, I quit my job at Boeing to focus on the bar full time, but it was too late at that point.

    After another six months or so, I ran out of money and had to close my doors. I had to file for bankruptcy and was going to lose my house (I later lost my car and defaulted on my student loans). After that ended, we decided to move to Pensacola, Florida, for a fresh start. My wife can do her occupation anywhere, but I had to figure something out for myself. So, before we moved to Florida, I began volunteering for Habitat for Humanity in their ReStore, near my house. I turned that into a part-time position, and I really enjoyed working for them, and the people, and I was able to get a lot done.

    However, knowing I was going to be moving, I needed to find work here in Pensacola. I was able to turn my part-time position at the ReStore outside St. Louis, into the store manager position in Pensacola. However, there was a lot of Dunning-Kruger going on, and I was forced out after a few months. I spent about six months unemployed after that, before landing a job with Publix in the produce department.

    It’s now been two years since I’ve been with Publix. All of the good things you may have heard about the company are true. However, there are so many things that they could do to make them better. I’ve been trying to land a position on their support side, but have been running into problems. I’ve applied to 10 positions so far. I was a finalist for one, but was turned down because I hadn’t been with the company long enough (I had been employed by them for six months at that point). Two more positions here in the last few months, I was well qualified for, but was told my skills and experiences had been too far in the past.

    So what do I do now? I’ve had a website for the past year and a half that I use to talk about good management and discuss current business news, utilizing my knowledges and experiences. I’ve done a bit of volunteer work. But I feel as though I’m missing out. I don’t feel fulfilled at all. I’m bored. I’m depressed at times. I feel useless. It has taken a toll on my marriage and my general wellbeing.

    I’m not looking for a handout. A hand-up, perhaps. Some guidance. An opportunity. Something. I am more than willing to provide additional details to anything you have read here. Thank you very much!

    1. fposte*

      What are you looking to do? I think one of your challenges is that your history isn’t a clear trajectory but instead a bunch of different things, so it’s really helpful if you can create a narrative that makes sense for people hiring you. So how are you conceiving and portraying yourself, who would you network with, etc.? When you look for full-time jobs, where are you looking aside from Publix?

      1. Kerry (Like The County In Ireland)*

        I’d suggest addressing the depression–try to find a therapist, because it sounds like the fall from bright shining star to guy who is trying to get out of the produce department at Publix has been hard. It sounds like you’ve graduated around 2008-2010, and it’s been hard for us all.

        But also, Pensacola? Really? What does Pensacola have going for it?

        And start looking around for companies with a strong promote from within culture. I’d suggest Nordstrom–I worked for them and they do start everyone off the floor, but if you have hustle (and it sounds like you have that in spades) you can rise up quickly. They need a lot of good people for the Rack stores–it’s their quickest growing division.

        1. MR*

          I graduated in ’06 and ’07.

          Pensacola has amazing beaches and my wife loves the beach.

          Publix has that strong promote from within culture. So much so, everyone starts at the bottom on the retail side, regardless of background or what the company publicly states.

          1. Katie the Fed*

            Unfortunately, I don’t think beaches are enough of a reason to stay in a place where you’re struggling to find employment.

            If it were me I’d try to get back into Boeing or another defense contractor as a procurement specialist again – there are lots in the DC area, there’s St. Louis, there’s Seattle, pretty much everywhere.

            My biggest concern is that you don’t seem to know what you actually want to do, and it’s leaving you kind of floating. I read this missive and have no idea what it is that interests or drives you, and that’s a problem.

            But I think you have to be willing to move – beaches aren’t enough to stay in a place where you can’t find gainful employment.

            1. MR*

              I’ve always been willing and able to go anywhere for employment. Besides, give me the mountains over the beach any day of the week ;)

              I have no desire to go back to Boeing. It’s the place where ambition and desire go to die. I saw how miserable the ‘old timers’ were, just waiting until they could retire. I didn’t want that to be me, which is one reason why I got out. The guy who was the best man in my wedding still works there and is miserable (we are the same age), so he is looking to get out, although not in the way I did.

              I don’t know what I want to do. As I said elsewhere, my favorite job was the newspaper, but it didn’t pay the bills. I enjoy analyzing things. Trying to figure out what makes things work and how things can be done better. When I go into a business for whatever reason, I find that I look around and see what is working well and not working well and trying to figure out why.

              1. Colleen*

                MR, take a look at the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award run by NIST. I think you’ll find it interesting. You should be able to find a state-run award in Florida (here it is: Doing some volunteering with them could lead you in to a whole other realm of work that you never thought you could make money doing — business excellence consulting with your own or another small firm.

                Check it out. I have done it for the Baldrige award for years and the contacts are amazing.

                Good luck

      2. MR*

        I…have no idea what I want to do. That is part of the problem. It leads into the problem of not knowing where to look and what companies to work for. Any thoughts on figuring this out?

        1. Dynamic Beige*

          I think you need to get a copy of What Color is your Parachute, buy it if you’re the sort of person who likes to highlight books, or from the library if you don’t. You need to figure out what you are interested in doing first. No point applying for jobs scatter shot if you don’t know where you want to go (aside from getting a better pay cheque).

          1. JB*

            You might also look into Start With Why. An acquaintance went through that process, and it completely changed what he wanted to do. He stayed in the same field but switched his focus, and he’s so so much happier now. He was miserable before, and now he feels like he’s doing what he was meant to do.

            I think it has less to do with the kind of “You should be an accountant” type of analysis and more like a “your job should use these kinds of skills or have this kind of focus” so that you can find a job that suits you in just about any field. Or at least that’s how it was explained to me by someone else. I won’t swear to that, though.

        2. Kerry (Like The County In Ireland)*

          What do you like to do? How do you function in the world?

          Look, I like to read and find out about stuff, I like talking to people and trying to figure out their problems, I’m damn smart and need new challenges every 6-12 months, I don’t mind talking to people but I don’t like seeing the same people all the time and unless they are handing over their checkbook and mind I don’t want to be all involved in their lives.

          So I’m a librarian. And I was also a performance auditor for the state, and I worked in the women’s section at Nordstrom Rack and ran a damn fine and efficient fitting room. And if my current library job hadn’t come along I was going to stay with Nordstrom and apply to their training program, and maybe more into management or go out entreprenurial and move to full line and do sales there. But I also started working at a hospital whose mission I was down with with a boss I respected and liked and a job opened up there.

          But a lot of this only came after I went through about 3 years of therapy and really worked on understanding who I was and how I functioned, and really building an appreciation for what made me different and valuable in the world.

          1. AVP*

            People who can run an efficient department store fitting room should be canonized, or at least be put on the presidential track.

            1. Kerry (Like The County In Ireland)*

              I was really, really good at it. It’s one of my accomplishments.

              1. Stephanie*

                Yeah, I sucked at it when I worked retail. I just aimed for organized chaos and no bodily fluids on the floor (yay retail) when I had to cover juniors.

          2. MR*

            I mentioned up thread (or down) that I have found myself in recent years analyzing businesses. A lot. When I walk into them or reading about them online or even in discussions. I would be interested in turning that into a business, but other than my website, I don’t know where to start.

            Your second paragraph seems to describe me. I like figuring out problems, and new challenges regularly. Maybe it’s why I’ve done things in so many different industries and roles…

            1. Hillary*

              Ultimately, a lot of what you say you like sounds like an implementation manager or project manager to me, whether that’s in a technical or less-technical role (i.e. software implementation versus supply chain projects). Audit/risk management and Lean/Six Sigma black/green belt roles also come to mind.

              That said, all of those tend to require some form of dues paying in the trenches, even though the job isn’t going to be the most interesting. Want to be an internal auditor? Chances are you’ll put in time at a Big 5 firm or as an FA at a big company. IT project management? Probably need to learn the product first.

              The other recommendations about finding direction are spot on. I’d also encourage you to attend events and focus on networking to learn about jobs and companies. Also remember you’re not looking for a forever job, and probably not a forever company. You’re looking for a role that helps you grow towards the ultimate goal and adds value to the company. (I say this as I’m trying to focus on it myself, hopefully it doesn’t sound pedantic. ;-)

              1. AVP*

                A Project Manager would be interesting because you’d also be able to use some of your communications skills, mentioned below.

            2. AlyIn Sebby*

              Kind of similar to what I suggested for FDCA,

              Have you looked at consultancy firms? Many deploy a temp. CFO or Finance leader/Administrative Development, with a kind of pre-packages business set up system and you could be with clients anywhere from weeks to months and sometimes longer and permanent.

              I just googled Business Consultants and something else popped out to me – business forensics, taps into your organizational mind but keeps things fresh. In that vein, are your tech skills on par with your degrees?

              And adding on to KatietheFed, have you looked at civilian positions on military/(government?) bases? You are in Navy and Coast Guard land, you would be surprised how many civilians work there.

              It does sound like you need to spend some time and energy to find a thread and focus. All the books recommended are great.

              Someone also said therapy for the possible depression. You would be surprised how much just focusing on some minor issues will bring things into focus and the professional feedback is very worth it. Sounds like you may be sabotaging yourself or…??? Not sure couldn’t get a strong feeling for your overall dynamic.

              But if part of your inner talk these days is anything like, “I have an MBA why can’t I…?” stop it.

              Break a leg! :)

        3. AVP*

          What do you like about the jobs you’ve had? Aside from things like money and security, that is. What’s your favorite part of every day? What task do you look forward to doing the most? Is there any part of the workload that you love, that other people hate and avoid? What do you hate and avoid doing if you can?

          I would dig into that angle of your working life, and then see about matching up the things you “can’t not” do with jobs that involve a lot of those tasks – it might be something you’ve never heard of, or an industry you don’t realize exists.

          And if the answer is “nothing,” work on the depression part and then try it again. Depression tends to cloud these things, but you do have some of the answers if you can reach them.

          1. MR*

            My favorite job was working in the sports department at the newspaper when I was in college. I enjoyed writing stories, copy editing, page layouts, deadline and I worked with great people. I did it for five years, but I couldn’t pay off student loans with that job, let alone eat or live somewhere.

            I also don’t think I’ve fully been over the loss of the bar. When I see the same things at the store that are going on, that I attrubute to why my bad failed, I get angry. I’ve learned the lessons, and want to teach them to others, that things can and need to be done differently and better, but again, fall on deaf ears.

            1. fposte*

              Yeah, that’s another indication that therapy may be a good move.

              But I also think you should look at job openings. Look at a bunch of them at different places and companies; hell, apply for some just to apply. Right now everything outside of Publix and stuff you’ve already done is purely hypothetical, and I think it’s hard to get your head around the hypothetical.

        4. Lindsay J*

          Had a discussion about this with my therapist recently.

          If you know your MBTI type, try Googling “good jobs for INTJ” (or whatever your type is). There are a lot of lists like this. Take a look at them and see if anything on the list catches your eye as something you might be interested in.

          And then start researching the position. The Bureau of Labor statistics has a lot of information about what type of degree or licensing is needed for the position, median salary, types of work environments you would expect to work it, and future outlook for the position.

          If you’re still interested, research using LinkedIn, etc, to see what types of jobs people had before they moved into the position you’re interested in, etc. This way you’ll get an idea of the career path.

          There are also apparently better employment aptitude tests than the ones out there than the ones you take in high school.

          A therapist who has experience in career counseling could be helpful to you.

          Did you like procurement? Would you like doing it in a company that isn’t Boeing? My ex boss worked with Boeing for a long time (2o years, ish) doing procurement. She was recently recruited by a pharmaceutical company to do procurement for them and apparently will be making bank.

          1. MR*

            I’ve never been a big fan of Myers-Briggs. It’s always felt as though it’s just a bunch of bunk…

            Procurement isn’t bad, but as I said elsewhere, I got bored with it over time. I get stir crazy if I get complacent or I sense complacency around me (and I have noticed it a lot around me at various stops in my career, including my current one).

            1. JB*

              It’s not really bunk until you start giving it more weight than it merits. But it’s not a bad to give yourself an idea of things you might want to watch for in yourself.

              1. Stephanie*

                Yeah, I wouldn’t treat it as gospel, especially since it assumes everything is so binary (i.e., you’re either an I or E and so on) when it’s probably more a spectrum. But it can be helpful as a starting point.

            2. Witty Nickname*

              I am going to concur with the others who have suggested Project Management. One of the things I love about being a PM is that I get to take on different projects and work on different things and don’t really have a chance to get bored. I’m a PM at a digital advertising company – I’m a PM on the marketing side, but there are also PMs in operations and technology in my company.

              I’d also suggest looking into Change Management or Risk Management, based on what you’ve said you are interested in.

          2. Alma*

            Aren’t there a lot of airplanes and jets in P’cola??

            Another suggestion would be to meet the folks at the community college / vo-tech (in my part of the world, they are a joint venture) . They do a lot of training and counseling people who are starting businesses. You might be a resource they’d be interested in.

        5. Nashira*

          MR, it really sounds like you could benefit from talking things over with a solid therapist. Counseling isn’t just for people with serious mental illness (although that’s why I’ve done it). It can be a massive help to anyone who just needs a neutral third party or professional wise friend. Does your employer have an EAP that could refer you to someone, and maybe pay for a few sessions?

    2. Sunflower*

      Wow you’ve…been through a lot in a short amount of time. I’m thinking you’re still pretty young. I’m a fellow Penn Stater and you know we love our own so I’m sending serious good vibes your way

      The first thing I’d do is sit down and ask yourself a lot of questions. Primarily, where do you think your unhappiness is coming from- lack of fulfillment in or outside of work. You like Publix but is it more important to stay there or to advance your career? Would getting a better job at a different company make you happier? Also, you didn’t mention this but are finances an issue? Are you able to fully support your family on your salary or are you needing more? What about your website? Would you ever be able to make a substantial income off of that or is that an interest of yours? If finances aren’t an issue, any chance your wife would be willing to let you scale back earning income and focus more on volunteer work which might create a path for you to figure out what you truly want?

      You seem used to doing a lot of things at once and if you aren’t, it brings you down. You sound like you want to advance fast as well. Any chance you’d consider sales? That could be a good industry and keeps you constantly busy.

      1. Cass*

        Glad to see other Penn Staters on AAM. I moved to State College and it’s been a little tough going finding FT work, but I still love the area!

      2. MR*

        I’m 31.

        My unhappiness is coming from a lack of fulfillment in my career. I’m not married to Publix by any means, but I have almost no support from anyone in the company to help me. Any suggestions I have for anything falls on deaf ears. So it’s hard to be committed to them when I get almost nothing in return.

        My wife is the breadwinner. She has always made more than me, even when I worked at Boeing. I’d love to make money off of my website, but the topic of business is boring ;)

        I do like to stay busy. I thrived when I had a lot going on. I’m not a fan of sales (I hate being approached by salespersons) so I don’t find that to be a good option.

        1. AnotherHRPro*

          Also a fellow PSU grad. Good to see so many of us on here. MR, you may not have a realistic view of “sales”. When you get outside of retail, sales can be a very rewarding career. In the CPG space you are partnering with small business owners which may appeal to you. This is not cold-calling. Just something to think about…

          My overall advice is that you really do need to figure out what it is you want your next job to be. I’m not suggesting you need to answer “what do you want to do with your life” but you do need to know where you need to focus on for the next step. What did you enjoy the most? Politics? Owning your own business? Not For Profit? Corporate? Answer that question first. Then, what type of work do find challenging? Crunching numbers? Working with others? Problem solving? That then can you help you start to focus on an industry and specific type of job.

          Good luck to you.
          We are…

          1. Sunflower*

            I suggested sales as it’s really a position where there is truly always something to do. A lot of sales works around account management. Especially if you’re in B2B it’s much less sales persony.

            I think you had the right idea with buying a bar. You might be really good at owning your own business but you often times need expertise in that area.

            You seen to like strategic planning and have big ideas. Have you considered consulting?

          2. MR*

            Can you tell me more about ‘CPG space?’

            I loved owning my own business. I would love another shot at it. Knowing what I know now after my first attempt, I would do so many things differently and I know there would be a different result. Helping others not do the dumb things that I did would also be good.

            I also love politics/news/current events (but I could do without so much of the ‘entertainment news’ that seems to dominate these days). I take pride in knowing what is going on around me, not just locally, but nationally and internationally.

            1. cat*

              Not the person who suggested it, but I can tell you a little about it (I work in CPG marketing, not sales, but I work very closely with our sales teams).

              At my company, we’re encouraged to be “the owners of our businesses” and we’re held responsible for the performance of those businesses. So if my brand is struggling at, say, Kroger, I will reach out to my Kroger sales team (they still work for my CPG company, not Kroger) to find out why, and they will dig in – is it loss of distribution, is it competitive activity, is it pricing…? And then we will work together to figure out how to fix it, either through traditional marketing efforts that I lead or through retailer-specific efforts that my sales team leads.

              Working in CPG sales is not door-to-door, nor is it pharma – you have a specific retailer you are assigned to and you help your company and the retailer work together to sell your brands. It’s very analytic, very consultative, and you are expected to be a partner to both the retailer and your own company.

              My understanding is that every day is a little different for our sales team – one day they may be working on chocolate teapots, the next on chocolate frogs and the next on white chocolate racecars with nuts. There is still a bit of the “Good Ol’ Boy” sales mentality but, in my experience, CPG sales is so different from pharma that it’s like night and day.

              Happy to answer any follow-ups. Wish you the best of luck regardless – I was a bit lost a few years ago before I found my current path, so I empathize.

        2. Kerry (Like The County In Ireland)*

          Lack of fulfillment in career saying your unhappiness has an external cause. The problem with that is that you seem to have bounced around in jobs, ambitions, and plans without a purpose so much that I think you need to look at possible internal causes.

        3. Slippy*

          Well one way to find out what you want to do is try to determine what you do for fun then see if you can make money off of it. Nowadays you can make money streaming yourself playing video games so really anything is possible but it may take some creative thinking (and fast talking).

          If you are going for an internal position and you do not have all the experience they are looking for (and sometimes, a lot of times??, it is an arbitrary number) show them exactly how you can make them money/add value. Then it goes from a philosophical discussion about qualifications to dollars and cents.

          1. MR*

            I only apply to positions within Publix where I meet all of the required qualifications (and I have interest in and so on). So far, this has been 10. I was a finalist for one, which would have been two steps below Vice President (I would have reported to the director, and he reported to a VP), and the reason I was told when I did not get the position was because I hadn’t been with the company long enough. So taking them at their word (as Alison often says), my skills/abilities/experiences were not an issue, it was just something out of my control at the time.

    3. Jen*

      I could be reading into this, but you seem to talk a lot about the high-level strategic problems the various businesses you’re working for, while employed in fairly low-level positions. Is it possible this is coming through in your interviews/interactions? I appreciate you’ve got a good education on your side, but it is only an augmentation to, not a substitution for, business experience. Especially at companies of this size.

      I appreciate your frustration. I’ve been underemployed myself. But since you asked for advice, working on making your actual role (not someone else’s role at ‘head office’ that you have no direct experience in doing) great, and some humility, may help you lay a path that makes it easier for others to see all the other things you have going for you.

      1. MR*

        You do make a couple of good points here.

        One thing I have noticed is that in my interactions with those in much higher positions in the large companies that I have worked for, is how out of touch they seem to be with what is actually going on in their companies. Both at Boeing and Publix, and I don’t know what to make of it. As contrived as the show ‘Undercover Boss’ tends to be, I think there are some good lessons for executives to learn from the show.

        I do the best that I can in my current role and I have received nothing but good reviews from my managers. I do my best to make my manager’s job easier and he knows I’m frustrated, and we both know there is nothing he can do to help me. He does everything he can in his role and within the department, but there just isn’t much in the way of a challenge in the work I currently do.

        I’ll admit that I had a bit of an ego 5-6 years ago. There may even be a few people who would snicker if they knew what has become of me since. But if losing your house or seeing your car get towed away isn’t humbling, then I don’t quite know what is…

        1. C Average*

          I think it’s the nature of the beast for those at the top to be out of touch.

          I mean, think about what they see every day: they see everyone beneath them trying desperately to impress them by painting the rosiest possible picture. They have to actively WANT to see the bad stuff and to ask the right questions to get that information. I’ve been in meetings where my department’s leadership was presenting to the company’s senior leadership, and holy crap, I didn’t even RECOGNIZE my own department. The presentation was so slick and so well-rehearsed that I could almost believe that all of our day-to-day griping is baseless.

          Also, because so much of their attention is focused on future-state stuff that’s only partially visible to the rank-and-file, they can easily overlook the current-state stuff. When you’re spending all your time prepping for the launch of the Bling-Bling 2000, the problems with the Bling-Bling 1000 might just pass you by.

    4. AndersonDarling*

      I’m really sorry that things are looking glum.
      Yes, Boeing looks great on the surface, but there is no job security there. The only way to know that is if you know folks who have worked there. People are laid off all the time, but somehow it doesn’t make the news. ???
      I always say to visualize what you want in a job, then you can find it. It may not be about titles, or even the work you would be doing everyday. It could be vague. You could want to work with people, work for a charity, travel lots, have flex time, or you just want to work with good people who are dedicated to their jobs. It sounds fluffy, but if you get a concrete idea of what you want, I think it is easier to find it, or it to find you.

      Keep positive and keep hoping. It is crummy, but hard times are learning experiences too!
      (This is the second time my neck of the woods was mentioned on AAM this week. I’m really curious which bar you had in STL. I would have gone if I would have known!)

      1. Ann Furthermore*

        I work for a Boeing subsidiary, and there are many great things about the company. There are also very frustrating things about it too. No one is allowed to add headcount, and budgets are slashed every year. To hear the people in charge of these decisions talk, the company is on the verge of complete financial ruin. Then a few months later you see an email pop into your inbox talking about how we had a great year and everyone is getting a big bonus payout. Completely mixed messages.

      2. Windchime*

        I live about 10 minutes from Boeing, north of Seattle. My neighborhood is full of Boeing employees. I think that it can really depend on which plant you’re at and which airplane you’re working on. Also, some of my neighbors are full-time employees and others are contractors; the contractors are the ones who seem to be in a more perilous situation as far as employment stability.

        But this is all from an outside observer. I’ve never actually worked at Boeing (but I drive past there frequently and it’s a super impressive place).

    5. cuppa*

      What I would do is start really examining your positions and figuring out what you liked and didn’t like at every job. Also, really scrutinize your experience and see what skills you have there. I bet you will find some common threads, even though your jobs are really different. I would also look at what didn’t work out and determine whether you learned something from those experiences or need to enhance some skills. If you can boil those things down, you can make your decisions as to what you want to do and make your resume more cohesive.
      Best of luck!

      1. cuppa*

        I may be way off base, but the first ting that stands out to me is purchasing — you seem to have a lot of experiencing there. I don’t know if that suits your personality, but it’s what stands out to me.

        1. MR*

          Purchasing isn’t bad, but I found it boring after awhile.

          I’ve always tried to take the things I’ve learned from prior jobs/experiences/whatever to what I do next. Even though I’ve done a wide variety of things, there is always something to be taken away from an experience.

          1. the gold digger*

            Purchasing isn’t bad, but I found it boring after awhile.

            I have been unemployed (involuntarily) for long stretches. I don’t care if work is boring any more as long as they pay me. I no longer seek fulfillment in my work. Sure, I work hard and try to do a good job, and I am very lucky to like my current job, but it is being able to put a roof over my head that motivates me.

            1. MR*

              Good point.

              I’ve found that when I haven’t been generally happy with work, it really brings down the overall quality of my life. I’m just not the type of person who can do something and not be happy about it…

              1. JB*

                Hmm, I’m seconding other commenters who have suggested some sort of therapy. It’s just a fact of life, as you have discovered, that you will be called upon to do things that you aren’t happy about it. If you just can’t do things you aren’t happy about, you’ll be making your life so much harder for yourself.

                1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  Yeah, I actually think this may be a bigger part of the problem that you’re realizing, MR. Especially early in a career — and especially in a situation where you’ve jumped around to a bunch of different things and now want to be on a different sort of path — there’s a strong likelihood that you’re doing to need to do work that might not be totally fulfilling for a while, as a long-term investment in your future quality of life. If your’e not up for doing that, or are thinking it’s something that’s easily avoidable, that might be a real obstacle in moving past this!

            2. Nashira*

              I gotta say, my depression improved when I was able to find satisfaction by doing a good job at work, while accepting that my current position is boring as heck. The education my job pays for is interesting, as are the hobbies it lets me pursue. But this job is boring, and that’s okay.

          2. cuppa*

            That’s important to know, though! Is there something that utilizes similar skills as purchasing that would be more fulfilling? What about the environments you’ve worked in? You’ve worked in corporate, retail (and worked with different target markets in retail), bars, etc. Do you like working with people? Do you like helping people? Do drunk people drive you nuts? Do you think they’re hilarious? Want to wear jeans all day?

    6. Chrissi*

      My brother lives in Crestview, and my mom quit her paralegal job in Indianapolis (with a job lined up down there) and moved to Destin. The man that hired her was the devil and fired her after 2 days for not asking for enough work even though she had asked him half a dozen times (knowing she was recently widowed, and had quit her job and spent a fortune to move down there based on his job offer) – sorry about the rant – still bitter. Anyhow, she applied for jobs in Destin, Ft Walton Beach, Crestview, and Pensacola for 2 years with lots of interviews and no jobs, when previously she had no problems getting a job after the interview in Indy. One of the hiring managers explained to her once that in that area, you pretty much need to know someone to get a job just because that’s how a lot of people think down there – they operate through relationships. Because she was from out of town, no one knew her, and I guess they weren’t willing to hire her unless someone local could vouch for her (her age probably didn’t help either). I don’t know how true that is, but it might be a reason you’re having trouble finding something down there. I do know that while that was all going on she was very depressed – it’s really stressful not being able to find something so try and give yourself a break and don’t beat yourself up about not finding things. Fortunately you have a job, and maybe some contacts, but you might try networking a bit via Meet-up groups or classes or something since this might be a consideration. I’d also ask the people at Publix what you can do to make yourself a better candidate in the future, if that’s what you want.

      Epilogue: Mom never did find a full-time job (she worked part-time at Beall’s for 6 months), but the ACA came along and so she could buy affordable health insurance and so she officially “retired” about a year and a half ago and she is very, very happy. The end.

      1. MR*

        You nailed it with how hiring works around here. I’ve had countless people tell me that is how it works, and likely explains why I had so much trouble finding something around here.

        For as much as my wife loves it here, I am the opposite. I’d have my bags packed and started at a new job on Monday, anywhere, if that were to happen (my wife would finish out the school year here then follow). But that’s not how things work ;)

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Do you think that is coloring your job search efforts? I am wondering if the real problem is that you just don’t like the area.

    7. MR*

      I’m off to work, so I’ll be out of pocket until I’m on my break. I’ll check back then and will answer any more questions. Feel free to email me as well!

      There are Penn Staters everywhere…I’ve run across them almost everywhere I’ve gone!

      1. Beancounter in Texas*

        You sound like you could seriously benefit from career counseling, like Lindsay J commented earlier. If Myer-Brigg’s isn’t your cup of tea, perhaps the Holland Occupational Code is more suited to your tastes. Then you can use that code at ONet to find careers in line with your motivations & preferences.

        You sound like you are definitely enterprising (entrepreneurial) and investigative (like thinking about problems), so I took the liberty of pre-selecting that interest at this website.

        Off the cuff, to me, you sound like a business analyst in hiding – “I enjoy analyzing things”, “I like figuring out problems, and new challenges regularly”, “I enjoyed writing stories, copy editing, page layouts” (excellent visual communication is great for analysts), “Helping others not do the dumb things that I did”, “I take pride in knowing what is going on around me”…

        Invest some money into career guidance, maybe some therapy to address the past, and keep your chin up. You will come out on top. Good luck.

    8. Anx*

      I struggle with this as well.

      I graduated around 2008 with some vague ideas of what I wanted to do. But none of those have panned out. I think it can be extra difficult when you struggle for so long. I know for me, I have a hard time feeling as though I can be choosy at all. After all, I’m broke, I have huge under and unemployment gaps, and I haven’t even worked in a full-time, permanent position in my whole life. Who am I to have wants when I’m living in the ‘needs?’ I also worry about being perceived as entitled. Although my college years aren’t nearly as impressive as yours, I also felt like I walked right off a cliff, going from being extremely busy, productive, and accomplished to having no prospects and waning ambitions. It turns out I was probably depressed (or had other similarly presenting issues) throughout college but it really came to a head while I was unemployed.

      It’s also hard to pick one thing to want to do when every time I work toward that for a few years I end up further in debt, older, and just as underemployed.

      I haven’t been successful in choosing a field or finding unemployment, but I am keeping my head above water, which I think is something that is harder than most people realize when you struggle with employment.

      The best advice I can give you is to believe that you are more than your ability to produce for an employer.

    9. and Vinegar*

      No answers here, but a possibly useful framework. A lot of people have a primary professional focus, but some of us have these seemingly contradictory foci. I ran across this resource at one point:

      She’s got a lot of useful ideas about how to look at the kinds of things that draw you and how to keep an eye on the patterns of when and how things recycle through your life to help them be useful instead of road blocks. Your saying that you get bored easily and have been interested in doing a wide variety of things make me wonder if this might be helpful as a way of framing the questions about next steps. I found it really helpful to think about how to make those seemingly disparate aspects of my brain collaborate in more obvious ways.

      Another place you might want to check out to do some volunteer work with is You aren’t retired, but they work with folks interested in starting and managing small businesses. You might have a visit or three with them about how you might be helpful while giving your brain something that feels more engaging.

      Check out any local PSU alumni groups for ways to get connected in the community and maybe involved in some group projects, again for some more satisfying stuff.

      Volunteer projects are one way of getting some of those skills back into the “current” part of your resume, which will reinforce the paid work experience, but you have to want to do that work without assuming what doing it will do for you.

      It’s hard to go from being the Obviously Successful person to the one who finds it hard to get much work. It’s hard, too, to go from being someone others came to for instruction to being someone whose ideas aren’t encouraged. I wonder if some “train the trainer” classes would be a useful addition to your skill set; you have a lot to offer and I’ve yet to meet a successful trainer who didn’t think there was more to learn about how to broader perspectives and conversations and improve projects and outcomes. (And leadership roles are teaching roles in very many ways.) It might also help balance the former and current roles in your conversations, work, and in volunteer roles. It’s not always about what a business might do better, but often about how they got to where they are and what their goals are in terms of process as well as outcome. Are you curious and excited by those conversations, too? A prof once said to to a class I was in that what’s interesting is not why people do what they do, but why they changed from what they used to do. Paying attention to that has opened my eyes on multiple occasions.

      Good luck to you.

    10. Stephanie*

      Oh man, are you me? I could have written some elements of this.

      First, my dad retired from Boeing last year. He tolerated it. Plenty of people dislike it. It is a Giant Company in an industry (defense/aerospace) known for being a bit on the stodgy and rule-heavy side. My friend worked at the St. Louis site (as an engineer actually) and quit after four months because he disliked it so much. And yeah, I’ve heard all sorts of different things about their financial stability. That being said, it is A Name. People like names on resumes. That is in your favor, assuming you stayed there a decent amount of time and were able to get some accomplishments. I worked as an RA for a chemistry professor and people were impressed that we had a project with Giant Food Manufacturer (even though the project went nowhere and I spent the bulk of that job doing other things).

      Second, how wedded are you to Pensacola? The grass might be greener elsewhere and you mentioned your wife can do her job anywhere. As someone who lives in a similarly sunny area heavily dependent on snowbirds and tourism, I’ve mostly interviewed for non-local jobs, probably at a ratio of 4:1 for non-local:local jobs. Not for lack of trying locally, just I think the market may be flooded where I am.

      Like you, I’m struggling in that I’ve tried a couple of different things and there isn’t the most clear trajectory. I hear a lot of “Wow, you’re really interesting!” Unfortunately, “interesting” rarely turns into interviews or offers. My main professional experience is in a field I have no interest in staying in. It’s always a little awkward to be like “No…please don’t refer to me Teapot Policy Analyst roles, even though I worked two jobs in that area” mostly because it’s hard to honestly be like “Yeah, no…I was not good at those jobs. Trust me.”

      I’m also underemployed at a company that has a big promote-from-within culture. As you’ve discovered, those places are big on dues paying. One will not hop from admin to C suite in six months. With Publix, it sounds like you might have to wait it out if it’s somewhere you seriously want to stay. At my company, I also picked up promotions are slow and political. Could you find someone to go to bat for you?

      It sucks. I understand.

    11. StateRegulator*

      Your posts scream to me that you want to do much more than work a job. I’ll recommend Peter Voogd podcasts that might be helpful to put your situation into perspective. His articles are all over the web and he might have a book out by now.

  4. ACA*

    I found out this morning that I didn’t get the job that I’ve been interviewing for. I really thought that I had this one, or that at least that I’d make it to the final round. I’m trying my best to move on, but honestly, I’m really disappointed.

    In other terrible news, someone was spelling out his his address to my coworker yesterday – S as in Sam, A as in Apple, etc – and then he says, “R as in Retard.” So that is a thing that happened.

    1. C Average*

      I’m sorry. Having been through the hope-and-despair cycle you’re experiencing, I feel for you.

      And, uh, R as in really? Really? Wow.

    2. GOG11*

      Sorry you didn’t get the job. And ugh. It says something about you when that’s the most readily available R word in your mind. Sorry you have to work with that guy.

      1. ACA*

        It really does, but also, not my coworker! Someone my coworker was talking with. My coworker was appalled.

    3. IndieGir*

      Sorry. It’s so disappointing when you get so close to the goal. Your coworker is a jackass.

    4. Lucy*

      OMG what did your coworker say?!

      And it always sucks when you don’t get a job….rejections will always outnumber the acceptances, since you only need one of those. :/

      1. ACA*

        She couldn’t really say anything in the moment, since R was in the middle of the word, but she was appalled.

        1. HeyNonnyNonny*

          Haha, I would have loved for her to spell it back, and say “what was that middle letter? I didn’t understand the word you used with it”

            1. Lore*

              A colleague of mine had a similar experience with a customer service representative who had a thick accent and was clearly reading off a script. He used the phrase “K as in k*ke”…and my coworker thought surely he must have said, “kite,” asked him to repeat it, and…nope. He said, calmly, “You should be aware that in American English, that word is an ethnic slur and you should not be using it.” But the CSR seemed so flustered by having the script interrupted that my colleague was not sure the message got through. Still, I applaud the presence of mind.

        2. Allison Mary*

          This is why I made an effort to learn the military alphabet, especially when I was needing to spell things out over the phone.

          Sierra, Alpha, Romeo…

          1. Al Lo*

            “P as in Phoebe, H as in Hoebe, O as in Oebe, E as in Ebee, B as in B-bee, E as in ‘Ello there, mate!”

          2. Natalie*

            I have the NATO phonetic alphabet printed out and stuck to my corkboard for exactly this reason.

    5. Artemesia*

      So sorry about the disappointment. My daughter went through about a year of that when she decided to get a full time job after losing her job while out on maternity leave and then doing some part time consulting for a couple of years. She was a finalist (of two or three) for several jobs that she ended up not getting; after a few of these you begin to get paranoid about the possibility that there was someone out there giving a mean review or something. And then one of the firms where she was a finalist hired the other guy but reached out to her to do some contract work which eventually led to a full time offer. She is just recently promoted to a management position there and loves her work. Sometimes it just takes a long time even when you are great — because there are not that many good jobs out there. Hope your luck looks up soon.

    6. Jennifer*

      You have my sympathies.

      I just got a very nice rejection letter in the mail. Oddly enough, NOT for the job I had an interview for, but the other job I applied for at that office. Of course they went with someone who had more experience. Of course.

      I’m sick of only being qualified for the job I had now.

    7. Elizabeth West*

      Boo! That sucks. It always helped me to think, hey, they’re either are too stupid to appreciate me (and I wouldn’t want them anyway!), or I dodged a bullet and didn’t know it.

      And the second thing–WHOA. D:

      1. ACA*

        It double-sucks, because the person who vacated the position is the one that suggested I apply for the job (and basically walked my resume over to HR), and her coworker already told me she (the coworker) was rooting for me. Plus the coworker calls/emails me multiple times a week with questions, since she’s cover that position right now and my current job has significant overlap with it…but I guess Human Resources wasn’t as impressed.

        1. AlyIn Sebby*

          Aw, sorry :(

          Chin up, job search just often sucks. But the right one will come along.

          Try to be kind to yourself. I can be awful to myself when I don’t get the job. Argh!

          At least you know everyone here is rooting for you, that’s a lot of rooting!

          Best Fishees

      2. Swedish Tekanna*

        Yep – sounds like me. It always reminds me of Grouch Marx not wanting to join any a club that would have him as a member! If they can’t see my qualities then the loss is theirs (well, it helps a bit).

  5. Sunflower*

    So the great job opportunity didn’t happen. Turns out they were really worried about my over qualifications and didn’t really want to pay what I wanted. Oh well, such is life.

    I really want to talk about contract work as I’m seeing a ton of jobs like this and it’s really appealing to me. I really just see myself going through an agency as I don’t have the time or resources to do my own taxes and don’t know how to find these jobs on my own. Should I expect low pay with them? Some jobs are only paying per hour what you should be making if you were a benefited employee and I was thinking something like 1.3 or 1.4 times that rate. I’m on the creative side so anyone know of good agencies? Or is there another route to these jobs that I’m missing?

    *note/rant: Since I’ve been doing some heavy job searching I’m realizing that as terrible as my job is, I’m really lucky with the experience I got here. I’ve gotten way more hands on responsibilities and duties than other people at my level. This is both great and frustrating. Event planning/Project management titles are really tricky and years of experience seem to have no bearing on the title. I don’t think I still qualify as entry-level/coordinator(years wise maybe but duties wise no) but some manager positions seem out of my reach. I just applied to both a coordinator and manager job at the same company. They asked me to explain why I applied to both and I’m curious what they are going to say back to me. Just another fun part of job searching I guess!

    1. Dani X*

      Fellow Penn Stater here and if you are a member of the alumni group then you qualify for some really great job search help resources. Go to the penn state alumni website and look it up.

    2. Ops Analyst*

      It sounds like you should be applying for the manager jobs. I wouldn’t worry about the number of years you’ve worked overall, just the number of years you’ve done the kind of work that qualifies you for your next position. So if you see a management job that asks for 4 years experience in the field and 2 years of that in management you should apply for it even if you’ve only been in the field for 2 years if you also have the management experience. Management is just an example here. Substitute whatever experience fits. Hope that made sense.

      My current job asked for 5 years as an analyst in an operations capacity, which I didn’t have at all. But I had 3-5 years of experience with other major aspects of the job from a different field. I’ve learned that reaching for stretch jobs yielded a lot more results than reaching for jobs that I was mostly qualified for. So reach up and ask for more.

  6. Shell*

    Mostly musing out loud here…

    A month into my new job and things are going pretty well, but yesterday evening I realized I have a tendency to over-explain myself even for answers I’m sure of. E.g. A coworker will ask “When is the expected completion date of X?” I could just say “Oh, it will be [date A]”, but I always end up adding an explanation of “it was supposed to be [date B], but they had Incident Y crop up, and there were further delays with Z, and thus etc. etc.” when the coworker didn’t even ask for any of that information. It’d be different if my coworker asked, but when they don’t…I feel like over-explaining makes me look like I’m unsure of myself.

    Mind you, one month in I am unsure of myself, but I probably shouldn’t show it when I’m confident of my answers, or in general even. (Although I’m not sure if anyone else notices this tendency.)

    1. fposte*

      Oh, I do that. I do it to cashiers when I’m shopping, which I’m sure makes me the highlight of their day.

      1. the gold digger*

        I had to return some paper plates and plastic forks last night for a party we were going to have last week but cancelled because Primo ended up staying at his mom and dad’s a week longer than planned after his dad’s knee replacement surgery because his dad had made no plans for help in week 2 because of course he is superman and will be completely functional a week after surgery just like all 82-year-old 100-lb overweight alcoholics and no, he didn’t like the caretaker Primo insisted they interview because she was “smug” because she said she was a good cook and did not talk about her weaknesses because that’s what people volunteer in interviews, right? Their weaknesses?

        So of course I had to tell the cashier the entire store because I was so mad about the whole thing.

        And she just looked at me as if I were crazy.

        1. Xarcady*

          I have a part-time job as a sales associate at the moment. Trust me, customers tell us everything. Sometimes I feel like a bartender, you know, the safe person you can tell your tale of woe to. I don’t think you are crazy, just mad and frustrated–as who wouldn’t be?

          I’ve had customers break down in tears in the fitting room because they couldn’t fit into clothes and had to go to a family function and see their ex’s new spouse there. I had a woman burst into tears while buying pillows, because she was about to host family for the funeral of her 10-year-old daughter and needed pillows for them to sleep on.

          I didn’t realize part of the job would be to help people deal with the bad moments in their lives, to provide tissues, to provide a listening ear when people don’t have a place to vent. I’d rather help a customer in distress than deal with someone who is pitching a hissy fit in the middle of the store because we only have five light blue towels and not six.

          1. Not Here or There*

            I think I’m going to breakdown in tears over the pillows too now… I just can’t imagine how hard it is to do something so mundane when going through something so awful.

            1. Hlyssande*

              Me too. :(

              There’s someone involved in a convention I staff in two weeks whose husband is not going to make it that long – it was very sudden. It was heartbreaking to see her post to the staff list about canceling reservations and registrations and things when she’s faced with this horrible situation.

          2. Angelfish*

            I broke down in a store once because I received a call that my husband’s best friend had died. I still think fondly of the initially very confused and then very kind sales associate who tried to comfort me, so thank you for helping these folks from someone who’s been there.

            1. jillociraptor*

              My mom often recounts the associate who helped her buy the clothes to bury her mother in. Just a really touching moment in a really hard time to have a stranger say, “Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered.”

          3. Anna*

            That’s a lot! Thank you for being a nice person dealing with weird moments in people’s lives and handling it kindly.

      2. JB*

        Me, too! And as I’m doing it, I tell myself to stop, but I don’t. Maybe it’s because I like having all the available relevant information, so my default is to provide that to people.

    2. GOG11*

      I tend to do this more that I’d like, but I generally don’t realize I’m doing it in the moment.

    3. C Average*

      I have this tendency, too, and have to keep it in check.

      You might want to think about why you do this.

      For me, it was a pre-emptive defense maneuver. I realized that our corporate culture here is driven quite a bit by fear of screwing up. So I’d overexplain everything in order to make it crystal-clear that if someone had screwed up, it wasn’t me. It was someone else, or circumstances, or a wrench in the works.

      I made a conscious decision that if I did make a mistake, I was going to own it out loud, because the only way you change a culture of fear is by refusing to be constrained by it and setting a different example within your team. And as long as I didn’t make any mistakes (at least none that I knew about!), I was going to give people only the information they’d requested, without the back story.

      1. Trixie*

        For me, somewhere between pre-emptive defense maneuver but mostly sounding apologetic which doesn’t inspire confidence. Also a need to fill empty conversation space.

    4. HeyNonnyNonny*

      I actually appreciate when I get contextual information like that! I can certainly tune out or forget about the unimportant stuff later, but sometimes it’s nice to know if the project you’re working on has been pushed back five times, or if the report that Fergus wrote got held up with Jane. That way I’m not caught off-guard when Big Boss gets angry that X is late, or if I’m seeing a lot of contradictory information.

    5. Sunflower*

      When I encounter an over-explainer, I wouldn’t say it makes her come off as unsure of herself but I’ll tell you this- it can be frustrating for the receiving end.

      As a former over-explainer, I noticed people would try to hurry me along or just plain interrupt me during one of my moments or they’d stare off into space. Now I notice myself that if I didn’t ask for an explanation and someone offers one, I usually just nod my head and don’t pay attention honestly! So maybe train yourself to just stop after the first sentence. Or at least pause. Usually if you give yourself a couple second pause, you can tell if the person is looking for more info or if they’re satisfied.

      1. Shell*

        Mostly I’m over-explaining through IMs, though I don’t know if that’s better or worse than over-explaining verbally. (I don’t go on and on for paragraphs, but maybe 2-3 sentences.)

      2. Trixie*

        This. I know these people whom I generically refer to as “Chatty Cathies” and they take forever to reach their point. Circle and circle around it like they’re telling a story rather than simply answering the question. While not my favorite type to work with, I really dread being that one can’t simply answer the question as simply and succinctly as possible.

    6. Michele*

      I never seem to know the right amount of information to people. I either ramble on or come across as abrupt. It is a constant challenge for me.

    7. Snoskred*

      When someone asks me a question, I answer it, and if I feel like there is more I could say, I follow that with “Would you like to know more? (about this?)” This way, I am giving them the option and they can decide if they want to know more.

      Also, if there is a reason behind the answer I am giving, I might switch to “Would you like to know why?”. If they say yes, I will give them more.

      I have found that my asking this question empowers them to say no thanks, you’ve given me exactly what I need to know.

      Either way, I get an internal laugh out of it, because it reminds me of infomercials and Starship Troopers. :) Also, I discovered this is catching, and now people around me are likely to ask *me* if I want to know more.

  7. Rita*

    I’m going to be hiring an entry-level Sales and Marketing Associate soon. In the past at my company they’ve called this position “Junior Associate” and I’m not a fan of the term “Junior.” Any suggestions on alternatives? We’re a pretty fun company, so fun suggestions are more than welcome.

    1. Joey*

      Sales and marketing assistant

      You may feel differently but I think “fun” titles are a hindrance when you try to compare salary to the rest of the world.

      1. Ops Analyst*

        I think they may deter people too. My husband is in tech support and he’s found a few posting with titles like “Technical Support Ninja” and “Technical Wizard” and “Help Desk Overlord”. He won’t even apply for them because he’s 38 years old and doesn’t want to list those job titles on his resume, ever. Let alone when he’s mid-40s and trying to apply for a serious, high-level position. He’s also worried about future employers thinking he’s trying to be clever with his titles like some sort of gimmick.

        1. Snoskred*

          I don’t think those postings would be the official job titles. I suspect this is just the person listing the job trying to have a little fun with it and stand out on the job websites. :)

    2. kozinskey*

      Apprentice? Page? Knave? Journeyman?

      On a more serious note, “Associate” seems to convey the concept that the person is junior just fine to me. Are people referred to as “Senior Associates” once they’ve been there a while?

        1. Jen RO*

          I know some companies where the “specialist” is the generic title and you can be a junior specialist, senior specialist and so on. I personally think it’s ridiculous and that someone entry level can’t be any type of specialist.

        2. Nashira*

          It can make things very confusing. My official title is something like Chocolate and Ordering Support Specialist, and I’m actually a file clerk. It gives the impression that I’m a Big Deal, which is a problem when I’m working with COOs and need them to grok that I am a clerk and nothing more.

    3. Madstuart*

      I’m an administrative assistant, but my official job title is Minion.

      Sales and Marketing Minion might be a little too silly, though.

        1. RebeccaMN*

          We had a “sales minion” at my prior office, fwiw. I loved the creative names, although I know they aren’t always appreciated.

    4. Ann O'Nemity*

      Assistant, associate, coordinator, specialist, etc are all loosely tied to “real world” responsibilities and pay scales. I’d do a little internet research and find a title that matches the job you want to fill.

      1. Rita*

        Currently, that’s the “step up” from “Junior” – i.e. removing the junior from the position. Then the next step up would be named “senior.” It’s like that at most of the positions here. But, the people originally set up this structure are long gone, so there is opportunity to make changes.

        1. KarenT*

          If associate without “junior” is the step up I am with Joey. “Sales and marketing assistant”

        2. Lily in NYC*

          Our entry level marketing people are called Marketing Managers. After a promotion, it’s Sr. marketing Manager, then AVP, then VP. Even though manager is in the title, they don’t actually manage anyone, we use it the same way as if they were Project Managers. But please nothing fun or cutesy! I cringe when I see those titles.

    5. Sunflower*

      I think Sales & Marketing Associate is fine. For entry-level, the title doesn’t matter a ton.

      I would stay away from fun job titles They scare me a bit, especially when the job is Sales & Marketing related. I have seen way too many ENTRY LEVEL- MARKETING, PR FUN, WEAR FLIP FLOPS TO WORK, WE’RE SO FUN! job postings from scam companies that want you to work 100% comission so I flag them immediately as do not apply.

      Also remember if someone is using a tool like Indeed to look for jobs, the fun job title might not be picked up by the engine.

    6. A.K.*

      I think you should probably keep it “Junior” for the purposes of the posting, because that will make sense to people who are searching and will show up when someone searches for “junior associate”. But, once you make the hire if you want to call it something different/fun, you could work with the new junior associate to come up with that. Especially since it’s a marketing role, it could be a fun onboarding exercise for them to come up with a title that explains their role appropriately, but also reflects the company culture.

    7. Mints*

      I think either “Sales and Marketing Assistant” or “Sales and Marketing Coordinator.” Assistant definitely reads junior; coordinator is a little more vague but reads less entry level.
      (Fun titles are fun but hard to navigate as a job seeker. Am I qualified to be a Ninja? I have no idea)

    8. Jazzy Red*

      Well, I’m new to being retired, so my self-proclaimed official title is Rookie Retiree.

      Either say Sales and Marketing Assistant, or Sales and Marketing Associate I. The more experienced associates can be II and III.

  8. Cass in Canada*

    Woot first comment!!

    I would love to get some ideas on how to support my new boss as he transitions from another department to mine. He will be in my department as of April 1st, and has not worked in our technical area at our company before. However, he has worked in this role at previous companies.

    Any ideas on how I can be an awesome support person/assistant? Is there anything one of your directs did for you when you first started a new job that was awesome or made your life way easier? So far, I’m starting a binder of resources and pulling together a manual on some of our internal processes.

    I’m working in a technical science role as a coordinator, providing technical support for my departmentl. My job involves a lot of technical support, paperwork, managing projects, reviewing contractor products for errors and consistency. Basically managing the day to day technical details for a permit from start to finish up to submitting it to the government for approval.

    The department’s head vision is for me to become my boss’s right hand person and provide support and assistance in his job (think higher level strategic development, managing contractors, submitting permits, managing stakeholder commintments and expectations).


    1. KarenT*

      I would ask him exactly that–I’m sure he’ll appreciate the gesture and may be able to give you some direct requests for support.

    2. jillociraptor*

      I did this once, and unfortunately not exactly well, so you can learn from my mistakes!

      One thing I did that was really helpful was bring context on the rest of the team and their individual personalities.

      One thing I did really poorly was bring context on why things were the way they were…well, more accurately, the information was helpful, but the tone wasn’t. I often got caught responding to my new boss’s suggestions with, “Look, we tried that two years ago and it didn’t work!” rather than being more patient and understanding. It was admittedly frustrating to hear her bring up ideas that we had lots of good evidence weren’t the right direction, but I definitely wasn’t being helpful in how I addressed that.

      What I’ve learned is that the best way to be a right-hand-man is to be a sounding board. Did you think about X? In my experience, this leads to Y, but talk me through your process. How does that connect to Z for you?

      Think about how you can help your boss bring their expertise to the work that you do–help them make those connections. (And help them avoid landmines!)

  9. C Average*

    It’s been a big week!

    I turned in my resignation, effective April 15. I am leaving a secure but frustrating and not very well-paid position at an admittedly fun workplace (I’ve stayed so long for the overall environment even though I’ve mostly loathed my particular role for quite a while) in order to freelance from home and work on the book that’s been brewing in my brain lo these many years. Because my spouse makes good money, it’s something that’s financially do-able, which I realize makes me extraordinarily lucky. It also solves a lot of logistical problems in terms of managing the household and my stepkids’ increasingly complex social and academic lives. I’ll be able to take care of the pick-ups and drop-offs and administrative stuff, reducing the stress level for everyone.

    My manager was incredibly supportive. Although we’ve had our differences, she has expressed empathy all along for how stuck I’ve been in this position, and for how long. She says she’s excited for me and proud that I’ve made this choice, and she’s indicated that she’d be interested in bringing me back as a contractor for periodic projects. This actually makes a lot of sense; the team’s workflows are very feast-or-famine, and I think we’ve been overstaffed for a long time just to ensure we have bench strength when we need it. Having a more or less on-call contractor with the necessary process and systems knowledge to do the job would be a boon to her, and I’d like having a chance to return periodically to the company.

    This feels like a really good move. I’m excited.

    1. cuppa*

      I’m so happy for you! I’ve been rooting for you for so long and I’m so happy how this is working out for you!

      1. C Average*

        Thank you for rooting for me. The good vibes from this community have been such a source of energy and forward momentum throughout this process. You guys (folks? ladies? earthlings? party people?) are awesome.

    2. Sunflower*

      Congrats! I know you’ve been waiting a long time for this so I’m happy you finally took the plunge!

      1. C Average*

        Thank you! Waiting isn’t my strong suit. It’s been challenging. I know it’s not gonna be kittens and rainbows from here. There’ll be waiting for editors to respond to my queries, waiting for the Muse to provide the right last name for my main character’s wife, waiting for my check for the editing job to arrive, waiting for the kids to get done with their science fair projects, waiting for my husband to get home for dinner . . . but I hope it at least won’t feel like waiting to figure out what I’m actually doing with my life.

      1. C Average*

        We are. The kids were like, “No babysitters this summer! No boring after-school programs! SCORE!”

        1. Swedish Tekanna*

          I don’t have children by myself, but if my sister’s children are anything to go by, I’d say your step children’s approval is the biggest validation of them all! Seriously, all the best in your new venture – it sounds awesome!

    3. Carrie in Scotland*

      Good for you, C Average.
      I look forward to reading about your ‘new life’ and how things are going from April :)

      1. C Average*

        I hope you, too, get your turn to focus on your writing someday. Your advice about applying ass to seat has been tremendously helpful, as have been your overall insights about the writing life.

    4. Leslie Knope's Waffle*

      Really happy for you, C Average – I always enjoy your comments and insight on here. :) Sending lots of good wishes/vibes your way. I hope to be in a similar position to you in the next few years (i.e. freelancing and handling family responsibilties full-time), so I’ll be really curious to hear about your experiences.

      1. C Average*

        Thanks! I’ll keep you updated. I know it CAN be done, because my mom did it. I have a feeling she and I will be talking a lot in the next few months. Anything I learn I’ll gladly share here. This community is coming along for the journey whether it wants to or not . . . :)

    5. Lily in NYC*

      Wow, this is a huge step! How great that you get to follow your dreams and that it’s not going to be a sacrifice for your family. Good luck and keep us posted. Is your book idea a novel or nonfiction?

      1. C Average*

        It’s a novel. It’s going to be called “The Dark Night of the Soul Track Club.” It’s about running, God, mistakes, love, and a bunch of other stuff. (The blurb will be better than this. I have been drinking wine with a colleague.)

    6. Dang*

      Congratulations! I’ve read some posts from you and know this has been a long time coming!

    7. C Average*

      Thanks, all! I’m super excited. I would not have made this move without this community as a sounding board, honestly. I know one can successfully make money as a writer working from home–my mom has done it for years–but it’s a step I’ve only seriously contemplated for about the last year. And a lot of that contemplation started with reading this site, getting a sense of what is and isn’t normal and expected in the workplaces, and making decisions based on that information.

      I am planning to start my new existence by taking a few weeks to just decompress and get the house in order. I have been working more or less constantly since I was 16 years old–I have ALWAYS had a job of some kind. Time and energy and money have always felt insufficient. Abundance of all three will be an utterly foreign sensation.

      The novel is my main priority, but I have some good irons in the fire in terms of articles to write and proofreading gigs to take on. Once 180 days pass, I’ll also be able to return to my current workplace on a contract basis, should the opportunity arise. I also need to get a blog up and running and actually maintain it–something I’ve historically been crappy at doing because it just wasn’t a priority.

      My new supervisor will be my cat.

    8. Not So NewReader*

      Awesome. It sounds like the conversation went okay, nothing earth-shattering and the whole experience of working there has landed in an okay place with the boss. That has to be a load off of your mind. And now on to the next chapter of your life! This is exciting. I am sure your candle will shine brightly.

      1. C Average*

        Awww, thanks! Your wise and kind words have been a candle shining brightly for me. Thank you.

    9. Mallory Janis Ian*

      OMG you did it! you have tho tell us when there’s a book– it’s on my reading list! Congratulations!

    10. MsChanandlerBong*

      Good for you! I am a professional writer/proofreader, and it’s really rewarding. I think you’re going to love it.

      1. C Average*

        Any tips? I am not a complete rookie at this, having written the occasional one-off piece for the local newspaper (the Oregonian, so a decent-sized paper) and a few magazines with pretty broad distribution. But honestly, the proofreading is something I’d really like to do! So far, all the proofreading jobs I’ve done have been for people I know or as part of my corporate work. How does one get started with that kind of work on a broader scale?

        1. Lore*

          At least if my workplace is anything to go by, you try and figure out who might administer a proofreading test at a publisher/publication you might want to proofread for. Most book publishers freelance out their proofreading; I don’t know if the same is true for magazines (perhaps not because of the turnaround time). So do some LinkedIn research for managing editors, copy chiefs, proofreading supervisors–that kind of thing. If there is a copy chief, that’s your person; if not, the managing editor can probably point you in the right direction. We prefer to start with a resume that shows some experience with long-form proofreading or copyediting, but for people that are some sort of known quantity (acquaintances and the like), we’re happy to administer the test and give a try-out to anyone who passes. (If you want to try our proofreading test, I guess, look me up on the LinkedIn group? I’m not exactly sure how that works…)

          1. C Average*

            Thanks so much! I’ve requested access to the group and will connect with you there. People have always said I’m a natural at proofreading; when there’s a spelling error or even an extra space between words, I know it sounds crazy, but it stands out so boldly to me on the page that it’s almost like it’s another color. It’s an ability I almost wish I could turn off. When I see stuff like this in otherwise good books, it really makes me enjoy them less. I actually take note if I get through a whole book without encountering an error, because it’s unfortunately pretty rare.

  10. Snafu Warrior*

    Guys, I am tired today and could use hugs. Due to chronic disorganization from one of our teams and project managers, my entire team will be working across this weekend and next. I’ve already been pulling 11-12 hour days (with another team lead) for about 2 weeks. I’m concerned we’re not going to make our delivery dates, and I honestly don’t know if anyone in an upper management position understands how little we’ve been given (by disorganized team – they have to give us a bunch of stuff to prep for publication and it was a hot mess, of course, but we have to fix it up to be client-facing) to be able to meet those dates. I feel like I should be job searching but it’s my second job out of college (first one was just a year long stint), and I’m applying to grad school soon anyway… is it even worth it? Argh. I just want to sleep.

    1. Partly Cloudy*

      I left my last job for very similar reasons. I don’t mind projects, working hard, or putting in extra time when the situation calls for it. However, I very much minded not getting the help I asked for and having the powers that be constantly putting the cart before the horse and me and my department (and many others) having to scramble around to do the actual work on time with a decent level of accuracy. So you have my sympathy (empathy?) and {hugs}.

      How soon is “soon” re: grad school? Do you have a fallback skill like bartending/serving/retail that you could get by on until then?

      1. Snafu Warrior*

        I’m applying this fall/winter to start in 2016. I don’t really have service skills. I might be able to freelance, but that would be a stretch, I think, with my level of experience. I don’t mind any of that stuff (working hard, etc) either, if it’s because we need to, and not because we had a 2 week delay getting the guts of the publication, and then three more days of delays…. and stuff that we have to reconcile/add to the publication being cast around in spreadsheets and emails after we’ve already started the copy editing process…

        1. Tris Prior*

          Ugh, this all sounds so familiar. You’re not by chance in educational publishing, are you? I absolutely feel your pain.

          1. Snafu Warrior*

            Something like that. ;) It’s a really specific facet of publishing, so I’m not going to give you the exact industry. But ancillary to education and publishing, yup.

    2. C Average*

      Ohhhh, man. I am sorry. Lots of hugs.

      I remember doing a massive weekend crisis management effort on Labor Day weekend a few years back, and in the middle of my Saturday work day, my then-boyfriend showed up with a picnic lunch (including a thermos of wine!) and a Scrabble board. We spent my lunch break sitting on a patch of lawn on our corporate campus, playing Scrabble and enjoying good food. It’s one of the nicest things anyone has ever done for me.

      I hope you can find a similar patch of joy in the upcoming weekend.

      1. Snafu Warrior*

        My boyf is bringing me a snack today, so that’s something! And yeah, I hear you. I started in October and every month has brought a new crisis that I’ve personally had to manage. How is that even possible, I ask you, universe???

        1. Not So NewReader*

          The universe thinks you are Einstein. You have to take your turn at this.

          [Yeah, that thought never worked well for me, either. But it did make me smile once in a while.]

        2. JB*

          Whenever I feel like I’m being dumped on by the universe, I think of Tig Notaro’s Live standup set and her joke about God not giving you more than you can handle. That show always makes me feel better, oddly enough.

    3. Fuzzy*

      Oh nooo :(

      Is there anyone in upper management you would feel comfortable reaching out to about this? That is, if your current manager is not receptive to the fact that this is a clusterfrak.

      *internet hugs*

      1. Snafu Warrior*

        Disorganized team reports to different people in upper management, and the director we work with is out of office for like a month doing clienty things. If it really looks like we’re not going to make it.

        1. Snafu Warrior*

          oh whoops – if it really looks like we’re not going to make it, that’ll warrant a different conversation with her, obviously.

          1. Fuzzy*

            Is there someone you can leave a “this is what’s going on, we’re doing our best but just wanted to keep you in the loop” conversation with? That way when you bring it to the attention of whomever you need to, there’s a record of you reaching out so there’s no “but why didn’t you tell us before?” thrown back at you?

            1. Snafu Warrior*

              I’m actually pretty sure that my direct boss is checking in with our director, but I’ll give him a nudge to check in with her today. We are having a meeting to discuss working this weekend anyway, so that gives us a nice segue into explaining all the kooky behavior. :)

      2. Pineapple Incident*

        points for use of the word “clusterfrak”

        I love this, and will be using it soon!

        1. Windchime*

          I’m dying to know more about the pineapple incident, actually! (Mmmmm…..pineapple….)

    4. Amethyst*

      That’s awful. :( It’s so hard to have to work long days without any breaks. I hope you’re able to get some sleep between all this.

      I guess applying to other jobs depends partly on when you think you might start classes. If it’s less than a year, I think it might be hard to transition into another job in that time period. I hope you get into the school you want!

    5. Ann Furthermore*

      Oh, you have my sympathies. I ranted a couple weeks ago on the open thread about someone on the user side of the ERP project I’m working on taking 2 weeks of vacation, and because of that, the required prep work for the next testing event was not completed on time. So this caused not only a 3 week delay, but translates to 3 consecutive weeks of travel for me in the month of April. I’m still ticked off about it.

      It’s so frustrating when other people’s mistakes result in making your life miserable.

    6. A.K.*

      I think I used to have your job, or at least one like it in a very similarly run organization. I spent a long time trying to fix it from my position near the bottom of the ladder, but eventually decided to just move on. It’s the best decision I’ve ever made. If you’ve been there for at least a year (or near a year), I say start your job search now. 2016 is a long way off, and if you get a job you like enough, you may decide that grad school isn’t in the cards for you anyway, so I wouldn’t let that stop you.

  11. aka*

    A week ago I was going to ask how bad of an idea it is to leave a job without one waiting, but it turns out it won’t be an issue. I got a new job! Unfortunately it doesn’t start for a month, but at least I know it is coming and I can finally breathe again. I did buy a resume review here just before I got the news, but I think I will wait a few months for the review. That way I can incorporate my new job into it. It nevery hurts to have an updated resume.

  12. manomanon*

    Another blog I follow linked to this article ( yesterday.

    Given the number of discussions we have about cover letters here I was wondering what people’s thoughts were on the points the author makes. I certainly don’t think they’re going anywhere in the near future but I’m intrigued by the idea that managers don’t read them. The idea that cover letters haven’t changed with the times also calls to mind the college career centers still spouting advice that was applicable in the 1980’s about applying for jobs.

    1. manomanon*

      Alison I wasn’t sure where this fell on the work/non work open thread and erred on the side of cover letters being work related. I”m happy to repost this weekend if you’d prefer.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I saw that article. Periodically an article like this appears, and yes, absolutely there are hiring managers who don’t read cover letter. But the good ones do (in the vast majority of fields, at least). And it’s totally unhelpful feedback for job searchers, because it’s encouraging them to do something that will actually help them with the majority of people reading their application. It’s annoying.

    3. stillLAH*

      I applied to a job at a non-profit this week that only asked for a resume, which seemed really odd to me. (I included a cover letter in the body of the email because it seemed so weird to just say “Here’s my resume for the Teapots education position”.)

      1. HeyNonnyNonny*

        That’s what I was thinking– So, we should just be sending disembodied resumes into the void?

        I don’t think the author realizes that while the formal, paper cover letter is dead, email provides a nice little built-in cover letter space that seems silly to ignore!

    4. Lore*

      Also, in the article itself it sort of becomes clear that it’s talking about lame form cover letters… “Jones is careful to note that cover letters can still be effective in some cases, especially when they are personalized and reveal specific reasons why a candidate might be a good fit for a position. In general, however, he said that cover letters too often rely on vague statements (“I’m a motivated self-starter!”) instead of super-specific ones.”

      So, basically it’s saying, don’t write *bad* cover letters.

      1. manomanon*

        I do think your point is a good one. I’ve always thought they were a somewhat annoying necessity. They’re annoying, to me at least, because creating a well written targeted cover letter takes time even if I have a basic structure to use on all of them. I also don’t know that I would have clicked over to read the article with a title about not writing bad cover letters so maybe it’s titled hat way from a clickbait standpoint.

    5. Sunflower*

      Some of these points are laughable
      – You come off better in person- okay and who said a cover letter takes the place of an in person meeting? It’s a supplement to your application that you submit in order to get a face to face.
      – They’re outdated- There’s a lot of things we did in the 1950’s that we still do today. Just because we can watch the news on TV doesn’t mean we’ve stopped reading print. LinkedIn to connect? My LinkedIn profile is a general description of myself- the whole point of a cover letter is that it’s tailored to job or company.
      – Pain for hiring managers- I do a lot of stuff in my job that is annoying but also a benefit to me in my job

      Honesty, I think cover letter are more important now than in the past. In the past, you had to search out a company, possibly go on site to fill out an application(which does take a long time). Now you can apply to a job in less than 5 seconds if you really desire. A cover letter shows you aren’t just going down the list of jobs you think you might be okay for and just hitting send. However, I can understand reading a resume before a cover letter, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with assessing that a person has core skills for the job before reading why they are a fit.

      Also the author takes all of 2 sentences to note that these things only apply if you write a crap, generic letter!

      1. Trixie*

        “cover letter are more important now than in the past” so true if you want to gauge the basic writing skills of your applicants. Or the above average writing skills if its a strong letter.

      2. BRR*

        For the first point like you can just skip the first stage and go straight to interviewing so they can see you in person?

    6. Wolfey*

      Haha! My friend posted this link to Facebook, and I commented with a link to the cover letter section of AAM.

    7. SJP*

      English person here – Don’t know if anyone can really weigh in on this from the UK side but I think Cover letters are a lot less focused on here in this country. I had to help a colleague do hiring for a while at an old job and either people didn’t attached them or did and they were sparce and weren’t read.
      I haven’t really had to write cover letters for jobs i’ve applied to either. I don’t know if it’s more an American thing or that they just not an popular/seen as important here..

      Anyone from the UK weigh in?

      1. Jen RO*

        I’m in Europe and I think I’ve written 3 cover letter in my entire life (only when required by the company, i.e. the job site wouldn’t let you apply unless you had a cover letter saved). I did some resume screening for my current employer and one only person ever sent a cover letter… I read it and it did sway me toward interviewing the person, but we also interviewed a ton of people who didn’t include a letter.

        1. Duschamp*

          Maybe it’s just my field, but all of the jobs I’ve applied to in the UK have an online form with a written section headed: ‘Tell us why you are a good fit for the position advertised. Short listing will be based on meeting the requirements set out in the “person specification” document. 1200 characters max.’
          I’ve always interpreted this as a stand-in for the traditional covering letter.

    8. Kimmy Gibbler*

      I was recently hiring for a high-level position, and I am not exaggerating when I say that fully half of the online applications included no cover letter at all. Not even a “Please see my attached resume, I hope to hear from you to discuss the position further.” Nada. When I hire people, I don’t put a terrible emphasis on or stock in the cover letter, but if you can’t even take the time to write a half-assed paragraph long intro? Not worth my time. (I will note the job description didn’t say “Must include cover letter” or anything, but there’s a place for it in our online application, so fill it in!)

    9. Michele*

      I have to admit that I rarely read cover letters. I will get over 200 resumes for a given position, and the cover letters are sent to me a separate files. Typically, I don’t even open them.

    10. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I’ll also add, I’m hiring for a junior admin position right now, very little experience required. I can’t imagine how I’d distinguish among the hundreds of candidates if I weren’t reading cover letters. 95% of them are terrible, 5% are good, and it’s those 5% I’m focusing on. But if I could only go by resumes, I’d be totally stuck. The resumes are all pretty much similar.

      1. Mallory Janis Ian*

        We recently hired for a senior admin position, and the cover letters were crucial to the decision! There were several applicants who were impressive in their resumes and who would have been interviewed, were it not for their cover letters ranging anywhere from “meh” to”ack!” The ones who made it into the interviews had strong resumes *and* cover letters. Really, the cover letters were make or break.

  13. GOG11*

    How do I tell/ask a coworker not to review items on my desk? I work in a lobby and while I don’t leave confidential items lying around unattended, I do work with paper copies of items and have documents (including pay contracts) come across my desk – literally.

    This coworker will rotate papers around to review them without asking or saying anything to me. It’s annoying when it is non-confidential stuff, but I feel that it rises to the level of me saying something when it contains someone else’s confidential information. I don’t want to come across awkwardly or as overly confrontational, but he really needs to stop doing this.

    1. april ludgate*

      I would just say something like, “Hey, Bob, I have those papers in a certain order, can you please stop moving them?” A lot of people are pretty particular about how they want things arranged on their desk, hopefully he’d understand that.

    2. kozinskey*

      So they just walk up and look at paperwork on your desk while you’re there? Or are they snooping when you’re not there? Either way, next time it happens, I’d probably ask them directly why they are looking around on my desk. If they say they’re looking for X report, you could say something like “I’m still working on it and will get it to you when I’m finished. By the way, some of the paperwork that lands on my desk can have sensitive information in it. For that reason, I’d really prefer it if you send me an email when you need something in particular rather than looking through my inbox.”

      1. GOG11*

        I don’t leave items out when I’m not there (because everything is so visible if it’s left out). This occurs when I’m sitting right here.

        Thank you for the suggested wording/phrasing. Yours and the versions others have proposed are great!

      1. cuppa*

        I would add depending on the situation, “If there’s a document you need to see, I’d be happy to locate it for you.”

        1. Jazzy Red*

          I’m with you, jamlady. When someone is so rude, I don’t feel any great desire to be polite to them.

          Besides, if that person learned some confidential information, and made some kind of trouble with it, guess who would be blamed for letting that person see the info in the first place?

          1. jamlady*

            Ugh exactly. I’m way more professional out loud in these situations than I am in my head haha

    3. Partly Cloudy*

      Is there a reason for this co-worker to be all up in your stuff? If it’s just a random co-worker who likes to walk by and be nosy, definitely call him out and ask him to stop. I would think he could and should be disciplined for this, since there is always a possibility of something confidential being on your desk.

      If it’s someone with whom you share the workspace and he’s trying to find items that are relevant to him, maybe come up with an organized system so everyone knows where “yours, mine, and ours” documents are kept.

      1. GOG11*

        His office is down the hall on the other side of the building. I haven’t kept close enough track to say for sure, but I don’t think it’s something he does when he’s waiting on something from me.

        1. Jazzy Red*

          OK, then ask him if he’s looking for the work he gave you and find it for him.

          You can’t allow people to rifle through your paperwork like that.

    4. Apollo Warbucks*

      Does your co-worker need access to anything on your desk? from what you write I think not, but then I can’t understand what they are actually looking for/ doing.

      but at any rate your co-worker is the one being awkward, you could try saying that you have the papers set out in a particular order and it messes with your routine or just tell them to knock it off and not touch your desk.

    5. brightstar*

      If you’re at your desk when they do that, I’d go with “Is there something in particular you were looking for? “

    6. GOG11*

      Thanks for all the replies, everyone – this behavior really rubs me the wrong way and I was struggling to come up with something that didn’t let that annoyance come across.

      1. A.K.*

        I wouldn’t be rude, but I don’t think it’s necessarily bad if you come across as annoyed when you are asking someone to stop an annoying and inappropriate behavior. It might actually be more effective if he knows it bugs you (assuming he’s a decent person and not doing it for a malicious reason).

    7. Xarcady*

      I’d go a step further and while saying something to Co-worker, I’d also put my hand on the papers and draw them towards me, or turn them back around.

      A simple, “Most of what I work with is confidential information; is there something I can help you with?” would be enough.

      Your co-worker is doing this either because a) it is a habit–one that should probably be broken, or b) he knows that you sometimes have confidential info on your desk and is trying to get a look at it.

    8. Amethyst*

      Can you get one of those organizer things? Not necessarily to actually put the sensitive documents in, since you need them in front of you, but to create somewhat of a barrier between you and the edge of your desk. People go through stuff on my co-worker’s desk all the time partly because there’s an open line of sight between her and them. On my desk the computer monitor, phone, and plastic organizer give me a “wall” between people and my papers that I can still see them across.

      I don’t know what to suggest saying, unfortunately. My coworker has to put her hand on top of the papers and ask “Are you looking for something?” because people here just don’t listen.

      1. GOG11*

        Unfortunately, my desk juts out in an awkward way that would make creating a walk look awkward and it wouldn’t be very functional. I’ve shifted down so most of my workspace is further away from this area, but this particular person will pull papers toward him. I did put a little sign directing people to the various work areas in the vicinity, but it doesn’t stop people from viewing my desk as a common area (several people sit on it to talk to colleagues, this person looks at whatever he pleases).

        That is a really good idea, though. My predecessor did sit at the other edge of the desk (the one treated as a common area, which left no unused space jutting out into the lobby) but I am intentionally creating distance between myself and others due to fragrance allergies.

        1. SLG*

          Would a potted plant on your desk solve the people-sitting-on-it problem? Preferably a cheap one with a fragile pot. That way the first person to knock it over gets a dramatic smash as the pot hits the floor, and it can be cheaply replaced with another fragile pot. A few rounds of that might solve it :-)

          1. GOG11*

            This is a lovely idea!!!!! A coworker keeps plants all around the office so it wouldn’t look out of place at all! Thank you for the suggestion :)

    9. WorkingAsDesigned*

      Good feedback from others about putting your hand on the documents, and taking them back!

      In addition, what about putting your documents into a file folder(s)? Maybe it will help to alleviate your coworker’s urge to read them, since the information won’t be visible.

      1. GOG11*

        I would do this, but most of the time it’s something I’m actively working with, just finished up with, am about to work on, or that I’m using as part of a larger project (for instance, sorting the items). If it’s not something I’m using, it is put away. Though maybe I’ll just turn items upside down unless that is the thing I am currently looking at right that second.

        I am just confused as to why he feels this is okay.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          My guess is that he is one of those people that has to be told it’s not okay. He missed the memo on that one. I like the idea of saying that things are in a particular order and need to be kept in that order. You may want to add, “Going forward, please feel free to ask me for whatever you need. I will be happy(OR I prefer) to get that for you.” This is on the off chance that he feels it’s rude to ask you and gives you a pretext for telling him your main message.

        2. catsAreCool*

          Maybe since he’s gotten away with it so far, he thinks he can keep doing it. Some people will do what they want if they can get away with it.

  14. Not Today Satan*

    This week I have an interview for a job I’m way overqualified for. However, I’m excited about the opportunity because I think it’ll be a good pivot point for my career (I want to transition into nonprofit work). I have two questions.
    1-it’s a very low paying, basically data entry, temporary job. They’re hiring 10 temps and I think many of them will be college students. I think that rather than wearing a suit (I fear I would look/feel out of place and out of touch), I will wear a pencil skirt, stockings, a blouse, and a cardigan. Thoughts?

    2-if they ask me what my most recent job paid, would it be okay to say that it paid more, but I’m excited about this opportunity for the reasons above? Or skip saying that it paid more, and just say it’s not relevant and I’m excited about this job because X?

    1. HigherEd Admin*

      I would still wear a suit; I imagine all the college students would be wearing suits as well.

    2. kozinskey*

      I’m a fan of pencil skirt + coordinated blazer for a formal look that doesn’t quite rise to suit territory. I would probably feel like a cardigan is too informal for an interview, especially for someone with a lot of experience.

      For salary, can you dodge the question by saying what pay range you’re looking for? Saying it’s not relevant might be a little confrontational.

        1. kozinskey*

          There’s no room for negotiation in that? Strange. At any rate, maybe you could respond by saying you were paid at an appropriate level for that field, but you’re excited to move into the nonprofit sector and understand that this area has different pay standards than the field you were in.

          1. AVP*

            For a temp data-entry job that they’re mass hiring for, it’s not that surprising they have a set ‘take it or leave it’ salary.

    3. Apollo Warbucks*

      I think it’s a good idea to tone down the way you dress slightly so you look smart but not over dressed. I went to an interview once and was way over dressed in a suite and felt very out of place.

      Don’t get into your salary history, if they ask about salary I’d just state what you understand the range to be or if you have enough information to go on state a figure that you would accept.

      1. Not Today Satan*

        Yeah, I know that it’s normal to be dressed more formally than the interview, but one time I wore a suit and the interviewer wore a denim skirt and a large men’s t shirt. I felt so self-conscious.

    4. cuppa*

      I would wear an outfit that works either with or without a jacket, that way you can add or remove it easily to suit (no pun intended) the situation.

    5. Sunflower*

      Try to avoid giving salary and say ‘I know the job range is this and that is within my requirements’.

      That being said, as someone who was just turned down for a great opportunity because of over qualifications, it’s really really important that you stress all the opportunities outside of the actual job at hand and try to self yourself the right amount. I would actually focus a little more on the challenges the job will bring as opposed to what you know will be cakewalk for you.

      1. Not Today Satan*

        Thanks for the response. Would you mind clarifying what you mean by stressing opportunities other than the job at hand? Do you mean discussing how this job fits in with my career goals?

        1. Sunflower*

          Yes but try to get specific and speak more about the job as it exists in the nonprofit environment. They know you know how to do data entry so what other things do you think you will be exposed to that are new to you while working this specific job? Also how does this temp job work? Is it a temp-to-hire, strictly temp? If hired, would you be in a different position? I would try to get thatinformation before hand and work it into your responses.

          I’m not sure if this is your case but I’m the only one in my org who does my job so I don’t really have a mentor. It’s something I really would like because I’ve never really had anyone to learn from. Do you see those opportunities at your company? I think that’s important

    6. BRR*

      First, amazing screen name (maybe I should change mine to rolodex of hate)

      If they ask what your most recent job paid I wouldn’t say it paid more but it paid X and explain how you’re ok with that and hope to transition to this field.

  15. Margaret Lea*

    What are everyone’s opinions on applying make-up at work in your private office? I got back from a business trip fairly late this morning due to a flight cancellation and came straight from the airport to work. I shut the door to my office so I could nurse some coffee in private and put on make up (trying to make myself feel alive since I am still wearing yesterday’s clothes and haven’t had a chance to shower). One of my coworkers walked in (without knocking!) and after seeing what I was doing, told me how unprofessional it was to apply make-up at work. I’m not firing on all cylinders today so I just stared at him until he left. Did I do something wrong here?

    1. Not Today Satan*

      Wow, he was absolutely in the wrong. Don’t let him get to you. Was he raised in a barn?

    2. Fawn*

      Barging in trumps applying makeup on the unprofessional scale, IMO. And I definitely don’t think there’s anything unprofessional about touching up in your office with the door closed.

      1. Karowen*

        Yeah, in the bathroom or in your private office with your door closed is fine. In an open office or in your cubicle is a little unprofessional, but that’s not the case here.

    3. Helka*

      Nah, I think your coworker was the one over the line here. Especially given your situation — what, were you supposed to put on your makeup at the airport instead, while shepherding all your bags and whatnot in a public restroom? And it’s your private office, with a door that closes. He needs to get over himself — and learn to knock.

    4. Former Diet Coke Addict*

      Good grief. It’s your own private office, as long as you haven’t set up a full vanity I’d say you’re perfectly fine! The coworker, on the other hand, was a jerk to barge in and worse to berate you.

    5. Payroll Lady*

      If you had left your door open, then I would have agreed with your co-worker, however, you had closed your door for PRIVACY, which he invaded…. He was in the wrong, not you.
      As for him walking in without knocking, I would definitely address this with the co-worker. He had no idea why your door was closed. At one company I worked for, I had to lock my door if I was working on something because some people felt it was ok to just walk in, even after my assistant would tell them I was busy and on DND…. It finally stopped after the CEO saw what happened and that people were not respecting the boundaries.

    6. fposte*

      It’s absolutely fine to do that in a closed office. And one day your colleague is going to walk in on somebody pumping breastmilk, and that’s going to go very badly.

      1. Beancounter in Texas*

        I now have an office with a door for that very reason. It doesn’t have a lock, but fortunately nobody dared to open the door when it was closed. (I’m no longer pumping.)

        In a former workplace, employees took pride in figuring out how to get past my locked door to interrupt me while I was working on tasks nearing deadlines-with-financial-penalties. (Yeah, it was that kind of environment.) I struck gold when I devised a sign that stated I was working on payroll and “if you want to paid on time, come back later. THIS MEANS YOU.” Nobody interrupted me when that sign was posted. If only a closed door was a good enough boundary…

    7. Sans*

      My first thought would be to say “Not as unprofessional as your walking in without knocking.”

    8. LadyB*

      Not in my opinion. You shut the door, which in a normal office means ‘I need/want privacy’ he walked in without knocking. He’s definitely the unprofessional one in this story.

    9. Lucy*

      Um, I apply makeup in the office all the time (granted, in the bathroom since I don’t have an office…..wouldn’t do it at my desk since we have an open seating plan) – I didn’t realize we were being unprofessional!

      JK lol that guy is a weenie.

      1. HeyNonnyNonny*

        Eh, I do mine at my desk if I’m pretty sure I have 30 seconds when no one will be walking by!

        1. Lucy*

          Yeah, I don’t think it’s weird if somebody else does it, I just personally wouldn’t since I’m literally smack dab in the middle of the room… the lighting is better in the bathroom. ;)

    10. kozinskey*

      You did nothing wrong. He is awful. It particularly annoys me that a guy (who I presume doesn’t need to put on makeup to look professional) felt the need to tell you how to manage your appearance.

    11. Partly Cloudy*

      What everyone else said.

      Depending on the company culture, I don’t think applying makeup with the door *open* is necessarily unprofessional, unless customers might walk by and see you or something. It depends on the environment.

      I, too, have had to either lock my office to keep people from barging in (sometimes I’d change clothes at the end of the day, etc.). A couple of years ago, I was in a two-day live webinar and I put a sign on my closed door stating as much so that even if someone did come in, hopefully they wouldn’t be talking at top volume and would just drop something off and go.

      1. Partly Cloudy*

        Ugh. Mentally delete the word “either” when reading my comment above, please. I switched trains of thought mid-typing and forgot to correct that. I wish I could edit my posts!

      2. Sunflower*

        I agree. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with applying makeup with the open or with someone you work with seeing you do it. It’s something that can make people uncomfortable so even if you were doing it with the door open, it’s not like someone is forced to stare you while you do it as it would be in an open work space.

        You coworker is in the wrong here!!!

    12. Katie the Fed*

      As long as you’re not banging a colleague on the desk, what you do in your office with the door closed is your business.

      1. kozinskey*

        Well, there are a *few* other things you could be doing with your door closed that might not be just your busines….

    13. Ann Furthermore*

      Your co-worker is an ass. There’s nothing wrong with applying makeup at work. I have a cube, so if I need to do anything more than reapply lipstick I go to the ladies room, but if I had an office I would close the door and do the same thing.

      1. JB*

        He’s totally an ass. I’m wondering if for some reason he was embarrassed, and his way of countering that feeling is by saying you were doing something wrong?

    14. Anonsie*

      I’ll take “ladies doing lady things at work is unprofessional and must always be kept totally secret” for $500, Alex.

    15. Not So NewReader*

      “told me how unprofessional it was to apply make-up at work. ”

      “My door was closed for a reason. It’s professional to knock first when someone’s door is closed.”

    16. catsAreCool*

      I think just staring at him the way you did may have gotten it through to him that he was the one being rude. I hope so.

    17. Natalie*

      When I had an office I changed clothes in it… So yeah, he needs to learn how to knock.

    18. Elder Dog*

      If your door doesn’t lock, get one of those rubber wedges used to keep doors from blowing shut when they’re propped open. Prop your door closed, and if anybody tries to get in and gets upset because they can’t, tell them sometimes the door sticks. You don’t need to tell anyone it only sticks when you shove the wedge in place to make it stick.

      Wedges are pretty easy to defeat if necessary, so you might tell someone you trust in case of emergency.

  16. Fawn*

    I’m wanting to make a career change from higher ed into human services. While I have some counselling experience, I’m beginning to realise that I may need more tailored practical education to make this possible – but I’m hesitant to go back to school for a college diploma after completing a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree (because of time and money). I’m weighing it against focusing on gaining volunteer experience instead.

    People in human services (case management in the criminal justice field, especially) what kind of background did you come from? Is volunteer experience or a practical diploma more valuable?

    1. Fawn*

      I just realised that this reads as though I’m only looking for input from those in criminal justice – not the case! Any insight is much appreciated.

      1. Chai Latte*

        In my experience having a certification like CASAC would be incredibly helpful in breaking into the field. In my city, case management positions are surprisingly competitive.

    2. Mimmy*

      You are wise in focusing on volunteering as it gives you real-world experience in what you’re hoping to tailor your career towards. Additionally, I agree with Chai Latte – pursuing a certification can be very valuable and, in many cases, is required (or at least strongly encouraged). I’m not sure how common it is, but some employers will support employees in continuing education / professional development efforts.

    3. Onymouse*

      I don’t know if this is OP’s case, but it may be useful to note that “college diploma” in the Canadian sense is similar to an associate’s degree in the US, not an industry certification.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Where I am you can do entry level jobs in some human service organizations with a HS diploma. If you have a bachelor’s in anything you can get something just above entry level. I would apply for a couple openings and see what happens. (This does not refer to criminal justice, because I have no reference points on that.)

  17. b613*

    I’m wondering if people have great questions they ask when they are interviewing for a newly created position. A lot of my “what did the next person go on to do” and career path questions go out the window, as a lot of it seems hypothetical.

    1. HigherEd Admin*

      I would ask questions about the hiring manager’s vision for the role. What does success look like, how does s/he envision the role growing, how does s/he envision the team growing? Given that it’s a brand new position, what challenges does s/he foresee the person in this position facing?

    2. Lucy*

      All of my jobs have been new positions – I usually ask what the first priority for this person is going to be (training, projects, etc.), how they envision this person working with other departments, what programs or tools would be “nice to haves” (if not listed in the ad already)….

    3. Julie*

      My experience with newly created positions have been as a marketing support role where they hired a new team just to make promo materials and laid us all off once they were acquired (partly thanks to those materials), document review for a law office (another planned short-term gig that they pretended was long-term), a job filling a gap in PR/website knowledge for a government agency (and every other job they needed done by someone fresh or a sucker), and finally as office manager at an expansion location (in which the role has evolved greatly over the past 6 months).

      Definitely ask about training, who will be assigning work to you, what they envision career growth for this position to entail (there are often promotional tracks in an office and knowing where you fit into that is key), and seek clarification that this is long-term, how success will be tracked, and how often to be checking in on how the position is evolving. Also, clarify if this position was created in response to someone else being overwhelmed or a new planned need of the business; you can end up with someone treating you like an assistant with the former (okay if they are meant to assign work to, not okay otherwise) and you can end up packing your bags if the business is overly ambitious with some sort of experience in the latter so followup questions are key there.

    4. Fuzzy*

      I came into my position during a reformatting of the role, so asking the questions HigherEd and Lucy mentioned are great, but I would also ask what is already in place to help this person sucked. Does the direct manager know the role well, or will it be a game of telephone through their manager? Who would you look to for training? Will there be peers or will you be scrambling to figure out how to do simple stuff?

      A lot of that happened to me, and it was annoying, but unavoidable.

    5. Megan*

      I would probably try to ask a lot of questions about how they envision the job, in terms of the duties, who it reports to, how it fits in, etc.

      My first full time job out of college was a newly created position that ended badly for a variety of reasons, but I think a big part of it was that they didn’t really know what they wanted from the position, and there was no supervisor, so it made it hard to succeed.

      Good luck!

    6. Dawn*

      I’m a big fan of asking why the position was created- this will give you a great idea of what you’re likely to get into, plus give you insight into the company in general. There’s lots of reasons why a position is created- company is expanding, company won new contract and needs more people, company decided they needed to create a specialty position for duties X, Y, and Z instead of lumping them in with other stuff, whatever. If you know the why, then you can surmise what the “omg my hair is on fire!!!!” duties will be when you take the job, and decide if you want it from there.

      It’s also good for weeding out those positions where a company is like “I dunno, it seems like a good idea to have a Junior Sub Senior Understudy of Teapot Handle Stress Reduction”, because IME those always, always, always end in a layoff.

    7. jillociraptor*

      There are two things I’d ask based on seeing a new role go a little south without clear answers: Why was this position created, and what will be the process for determining the goals and priorities of this role?

      My former colleague was hired into a role that was basically, “We’ve got a lot of stuff to do…let’s just jam it all in this new role.” Every time he asked for help in figuring out what to prioritize, his boss came back to him saying that was his job to figure out. He left after about 6 months, and his successor is GREAT at operating in this environment, but it’s definitely not for everyone.

      With a newly created role, there is often a lot of ambiguity and lack of clarity. On the one hand, this could mean you’ll get TONS of latitude. On the other hand, it could mean that you’ll just be facing chaos!

    8. Not So NewReader*

      I don’t think it’s a great idea to put a lot of weight on any one question, but I tend to put some weight on this question: “What will be my immediate tasks the first few weeks I am here?”

      If they cannot layout the starting point for you, start looking closer at their other answers to see if you find other concerns.

  18. HigherEd Admin*

    I just want to give a big shout-out to the HR person who is coordinating the interview process I’m in the midst of. She proactively reaches out to me with updates on the status/progress of the process, even if it’s just to say, “things are taking longer than expected.” I love that she does this without me badgering her, and it makes me feel so much more comfortable with the unknown quantities of an interview process! Yay for awesome HR reps!

    1. Sunflower*

      I was submitted for a job through an agency and the recruiter checks in with me at least every other day! Haven’t heard anything concrete back yet but wow I’m really shocked!

  19. Afiendishthingy*

    How do you keep from taking things personally at work? Going to try to be as succinct as possible -I’ve been struggling for 6 months with a difficult case/client that I inherited from a former employee. FormerEmployee (who left before I started) has a reputation for being awesome in many ways but also for giving clients everything they wanted even if it wasn’t clinically appropriate or to the clients’ benefit; this case probably should have closed years ago.

    We finally had the meeting to try to end services last week and after about the tenth time the client (client’s mother technically) responded to one of my concerns with a variation on “Well that’s because you didn’t do your job right” I started crying, in front of her, a coworker, and two employees of another agency. (only a couple minutes, quiet, excused myself to the bathroom and then resumed the meeting but MORTIFYING )We somehow ended the meeting with offering her 3 more months of services but with somebody else replacing me as clinician.

    Logically I know this is a learning experience- this job has considerably more responsibility than my previous roles- and that it’s not actually personal, this woman has a tough life, I was the agent of change, and her coping mechanism is to be kind of rude and horrible. None of my coworkers or bosses agree with the client’s assessment of my abilities. But I do know that while I was never really set up to succeed in this case I did make mistakes and I let the client get under my skin early on and I feel like that set the tone for subsequent encounters. So I’m just having trouble letting go of some anger and shame towards her and myself at how everything turned out. Advice for how to move on??

    1. YourCdnFriend*

      That really blows? I think you’ve learned everything you can from the experience and the best thing to do to move on is to just stop stewing over it (way easier said than done).

      I would recommend treating yourself to something small that makes you feel like you’re starting fresh (a manicure or a new book series or something). Use that starting fresh feeling to come into the office, clean off your desk and focus on what’s next. You’ve learned what you could from a crappy situation and now you’ll move forward with confidence. Even if you’re faking that confidence at first, it will eventually turn into the real thing.
      Good luck!

    2. Pontoon Pirate*

      I think you are in probably in need of some self-care after this one–does your office offer an EAP or anything similar? Shame and anger are really powerful emotions, and it’s really important that you’re moving forward on good footing, because this client won’t be the only adverse client (which I know you know–but you’re probably feeling caught in this feedback loop right now).

      Take care of yourself. You’re doing a tough job. What would you tell someone else, if they were in your shoes?

      1. afiendishthingy*

        I have a good therapist :) Who pointed out a couple months back that the fact that RudeClient is the only parent with whom I haven’t been able to build even a little rapport is diagnostic of her issues, not mine, which is helpful. (And I do have other parents who are difficult to deal with but she was the worst.) I did do the best I could with what I was given. I’m definitely relieved it is at least off my plate now, even if I don’t love how it ended. But hey, tomorrow is another day.

        1. fposte*

          Did you just make a massive Freudian slip by calling your client a parent? Hmm, as the therapists say :-).

          1. Afiendishthingy*

            Hahaha, no. Technically my clients are kids under 21 w disabilities, this woman is really the client’s mother not the client. My rapport with my own parents is pretty good :)

            1. Anna*

              Remember to forgive yourself, too. This woman sounds like she has got what she wanted (continuation of services) by bullying and basically being a pain in the rear until everyone capitulated. You got caught up in her awfulness, so don’t be too hard on yourself about your reaction.

    3. The Cosmic Avenger*

      This may not work for you, but what works for me is to think about how the other person is probably scared or upset about the circumstances, in this case probably feeling powerless, and they may be using the only leverage they have.

      Or they may just be an awful person, but regardless, they really want this particular thing for some particular reason, even if they’re not clear about one, or the other, or both of those components. In this case they didn’t want to make you cry, they wanted these services to continue, probably indefinitely.

      Thinking about it like that depersonalizes it for me, and it also helps inform my approach. Sometimes people just feel like no one is listening or taking their concerns seriously, and recognizing that can defuse some tantrums.

      1. afiendishthingy*

        Yeah, I really have thought a lot about this, and came to the exact conclusions you did in the first paragraph. I really do sympathize with her situation, but it sucks being her punching bag. (Which is probably not the right term, because she’s passive aggressive, not a shouter. She insults me in a conversational, incredulous tone and gives me mean smiles… the shouty parents are easier.)

        1. The Cosmic Avenger*

          And of course I didn’t mean that you should have to put up with this, but when you’re in a service job, this is the approach that I find helps me to deal with clients that I can’t or won’t fire. I wasn’t in a position to fire clients for a long time, but I was also lucky to have supervisors that did not tolerate any kind of verbal abuse of their front-line phone staff employees.

    4. cuppa*

      I know how you feel, and I’m sorry, that sucks.
      A lot of people act this way because it works for them. They know if they’re a jerk, they get what they want. Others are out of options, or are frustrated with themselves or their life or their circumstances, and they act out and express those feelings towards whatever misdirected target they can . Some are dealing with mental illness and can’t help themselves. Sometimes people are dealing with all of the above.
      The best thing to do is care for yourself, build up some self-esteem, and learn from the situation. Accept that you can’t win every battle, but learn enough that you can win everyone possible. Good luck.

    5. Mimmy*

      Any sort of profession where you’re working directly with people can be emotionally draining. Self-care is critically important, both for you and the clients you serve. Have you talked with your supervisor about this?

      Oof, this is why I decided not to go in the clinical direction I’d originally intended when I was pursuing my MSW. Yes I know many clinicians struggle, but depersonalizing such instances has never been easy for me, even when I was younger. I realize now that you have to have a really thick skin to be in the helping professions, or at least know how to defuse the emotional effects of difficult cases and clients.

      Good luck to you.

    6. Sunflower*

      It helps to remind yourself that the client’s crazy assessment of you is clearly no reflection of your own abilities. Take solace in knowing your company is in your corner(that can be hard to come by some days).

      Is there anyone else in your company in a similar role as you? It would help a lot if you could find a mentor since I’m sure you aren’t the only person who has dealt with this. It can also help with you adjusting into this new role that is kind of foreign to you.

      1. afiendishthingy*

        Yes, I’m very fortunate that I work with a lot of people who have the same or similar roles and we do give each other a lot of support. I think they’re probably tired of hearing me perseverate over this one though :)

    7. Jules*

      “I’m sorry, I am not XYZ. Our company’s policy is that we allow only ABC”
      “I’m sorry, if you are not happy with my service. Would you like me to refer you to another clinician?”

      Don’t let clients bully you at work. Be polite, be firm and be nice. If there is a judgement call to be made, refer to the person in the correct pay grade i.e. supervisor/administrators. The problem with exceptions is it’s only ok until something goes wrong. The same people demanding this exception will throw lawsuits at you.

    8. LCL*

      Sometimes, when people at work are being jerks because they are jerks, and you have examined your own conduct and believe you behaved correctly, and your coworkers are agreeing with you, it is time to fall back on contempt. Not as a way of life, or as a way of approaching clients, and not a majority of the time. But you should be able to tell yourself that the client’s mom is a rude loser because she acts like a rude loser, and you are better than her because you know how to behave.

      I can tell it is hard for you to call a loser a loser, and your empathy which made you choose your profession is a wonderful thing. But that same empathy will blind you to the fact that jerks are gonna be jerks, sometimes, and not because of anything you did.

      Or you can tell yourself that your client’s mom will some day get sick and die. If someone has been exceptionally mean to me, I find comfort in that thought. I would never hasten their death, I would even give them CPR/call 911/do first aid for them, but still…

      1. Afiendishthingy*

        You guys have all been helpful but this may be my favorite response :) thanks all.

      2. Afiendishthingy*

        And to elaborate- I do struggle with disliking people and I spend a lot of time going through the checklist of how it’s not about me, it’s about them, but I always come back to “… But also she’s a mean jerk and I hate her.” She does have a rough deal. She is also a jerk and I do not like her – that I think is the heart of what I was having trouble accepting so thanks :)

        1. HelenM*

          I love this post and all the replies. I had a similar experience where I cried in front of a client, colleagues and everyone waiting outside a busy courtroom. I still cringe when I think of it! Empathy can be in itself difficult to contextualise when you deal with clients who have developed toxic behaviours to deal with multiple issues. You’re really dealing with professionals in terms of knowing “the system” who have zero empathy for you, your good heart/long years of education/ crippling student loans/ decision to work in the public sector…I could go on but I’m sure you know all this.
          I really like the simplicity of “sometimes people are jerks”. I’d got so into understanding underlying issues and accepting resulting behaviours that I wound up berating myself for the whole next week. It didn’t help that I had the constant thought of ” client only said that cos I’m a woman” running in the background. My client acted like a jerk. Your client acted like a passive aggressive jerk with a cherry on top. Allowing myself to mentally stick my tongue out at client would’ve saved me a lot of grief. Please mentally flip yours the bird from me.
          I applaud you for your courage, fortitude and your good sense in sharing this (and for making it to the bathroom before crying).

    9. Beancounter in Texas*

      No advice, but hugs. I’ve cried in the office (and fled to bawl in the bathroom) many times. Sending good vibes for you.

    10. Not So NewReader*

      My burn out is going to show. This is a person who knows how to manipulate the system and the people in the system. You probably will go quite a while before you see this again. But I cannot promise you won’t see it. Probably the next time, you will have grown in different ways and it will not effect you as much as the next time.

      What I have done with these situations is- first, wait for a calmer moment. So not this weekend. Maybe next week. This woman threw out a number of statements, let’s call them curve balls. Think about the curve balls and think about the intent behind the statement. Take one curve ball at a time and work with it. So the statement “that is because you did not do your job right” is based on frustration but she choose to lash out at other people and frustrate THEM. The sentence is designed/crafted to MAKE you feel miserable. (Now, that makes ya wonder what she’s doing to the kid, right?) It also allows her to feel that she has identified the problem correctly. And -reality- she has not correctly identified the problem.

      The problem correctly stated is that your company does not offer the service she is looking for/needs. And no one has the spine to tell her. So you try, it blows up and someone back pedals and give her three more months. In three months she probably will be back screaming at that person. Because this works for her.
      The next time you have some one this difficult, get buy-in and participation from your cohorts. Don’t try to do this alone- find people who are willing to speak up and expand on what you are saying or back you up with additional inputs. Typically, there should be two people working on this. When she threw a curve ball at you, it would be your partner’s turn to start speaking while you collected your thoughts for a minute. A few minutes later, when she throws a curve ball at your cohort, then it is your turn to jump in and support your cohort.

      But, anyway, the main idea here is review the toughest points of the conversation and craft answers for those points. This is how to prepare and how to have the presence of mind necessary for when something like this happens, by autopsying the Bad Episode. And I always figure if I prepare for it, I will never need it! ;) Take a calm time, and think through what to say to these types of comments. Keep it short- you only need one or two sentences to redirect the conversation.

      As far as the tears, eh, it comes with human service. Probably every one of your coworkers has sat and cried at one point or another. If it was not from being verbally attacked by a guardian , then it’s from something else- such as inability to help a given individual. There’s many reasons.

      I also suggest firming up guidelines for service. Ideally, print them out so that guardians can see for themselves if their person might qualify. Not every organization can meet every need that is out there. If you can make a referral list this would help make it a tiny bit easier to deliver the message “no, we can’t help you, but you might try Jane Smith over at ABC. I think they might offer a service that is a better match for your loved one.”

      You’re human, ease up on you. This woman did not cut you any slack. But you can give yourself some slack here and you should.

  20. Noelle*

    I start my new job next week! I posted last week that my boss wasn’t taking my leaving well, but I took everyone’s advice to continue acting professional and ignore his behavior. It seems to have worked! Fortunately things died down after a couple days and things are going a lot better now.

      1. Noelle*

        Thank you! I’m very excited, and I already met the team I’ll be working with and they’re really nice and smart. Plus, although I understand Alison’s stance on dream jobs, this….is pretty much a dream job.

  21. Leslie Knope's Waffle*

    *How do you help a more junior employee to succeed when you are not their manager?*

    I currently work on a small team of teapot designers – Belle (junior designer), me (designer), and Gaston (senior designer). There is a strong possibility that I will be taking an internal position on another team in the next few months. If this happens, they will be back filling my designer role and I know Belle would like to be considered for it.

    Belle is very smart, articulate and generally good at her junior designer responsibilities. However, to be promoted to the designer position, she would need to be more assertive and improve her skills in teapot handle design. I myself came on the team as a junior designer and was told I would not be promoted unless I became more assertive and confident in my abilities. Only then was I promoted.

    For example, Belle and I work on a large project together. I lead most of the meetings and will often defer to Belle to “jump in” with comments/feedback – but she never does. I was say things like, “Belle really worked on that aspect of the project. Belle – would like to provide some information to the group?” Many times, Belle will just sit there in silence or at the most, offer up a few sentences. She does not come across confident of her work.

    If I take the internal position, I have a feeling that Gaston will ask me if I think Belle is ready for the designer role. If Im being honest, at this point I would say no and offer up things I think she needs to work on. Belle has never reached out to me for feedback, but if she did, I would have a few suggestions. I would not offer the feedback if she doesn’t ask me directly.

    Does anyone have any thoughts/suggestions?

    1. Fawn*

      Is Gaston Belle’s manager?

      I know, as a junior employee who works with senior staff aside from my manager, I would be very open to feedback on my work (and, to be honest, really annoyed if someone gave negative feedback to my manager without addressing it with me first, if I am generally good at my job). What’s stopping you from telling Belle your thoughts kindly and constructively as a colleague?

    2. fposte*

      Well, she may just not grow the way you’d like her to. But why not just ask her if she’d like some feedback, given that you know she’s interested in advancing?

      And then I’d give her the feedback and let it go after that; don’t take on her growth as your project.

    3. april ludgate*

      Depending on how Junior she is, it might not have occurred to her to reach out to you directly for feedback. If she came into this position from being a student or from having a job with less freedom she might be used to receiving specific feedback without asking for it. Also, if she’s generally a quiet person it might never have occurred to her that she should be participating more in meetings, it can be intimidating to speak up when you’re a newer employee surrounded with people who have more experience than you (I can personally attest to this). I can’t speak for Belle, I would be really disappointed if there was something I could improve upon to have a better chance at a promotion, but no one told me that it needed improvement. She probably thinks her contributions are fine if no one says otherwise.

      If you don’t feel comfortable talking to her directly, you can always pass your thoughts along to Gaston for him to address, but someone should be giving her this feedback.

    4. HeyNonnyNonny*

      Does Belle know that you might be leaving your position soon? If it’s an open secret, maybe you could just ask her if she’s interested (even though you know she is) and offer to talk to her about what it takes to succeed in the position.

    5. Leslie Knope's Waffle*

      Something I forgot to mention (which may or may not affect the advice that’s already been given) is that Belle came to our team as a bit of a kicked puppy. Her previous position was very stressful – her manager/mgmt was verbally abusive to her when she gave her resignation, and she cried and was asked to leave for the day to “clean herself up.” (The management of that team really take it personally when people decide to leave and give them a hard time, but never to the extent that they did to Belle.) She’s had some additional bad work experiences too, so part of me handles her with kid gloves (even though I know I shouldn’t).

      To answer someone’s question, she does know that I’m looking for a new position, but I haven’t told anyone (except my manager, which I’m required to do) that there is a very good liklihood that I’ll be moving on in a few months. I’m planning to tell Belle once I have a firm offer (and acceptance) in hand.

      1. S*

        As the junior member of my (also small!) team, I will say that the other employees of my organization (outside my department too) have been absolutely incredible in this area–both in making sure that I have opportunities to show my successes and making sure that the right people know about what I’m doing right and where I’m improving. It means a lot to senior staff when other people in the office not on my team can say that I’m a (forgive the cliche) a rockstar at what I do and what I help them with.

        It seems like you’re trying to do that, but what would be really great would be a conversation with Belle about her career goals. It doesn’t have to be formal; going out for coffee for 15 mins during the day could work. Maybe she’d like to remain a junior designer and going for a promotion isn’t really what she wants at this moment? Or, more likely, her previous work experiences have made her hesitant to speak up, in which case, I think that making it clear that this is a supportive environment will help a lot.

        1. Anna*

          This a great suggestion. We’ve all talked about PTSD from jobs and it sounds like Belle is suffering from that. Sometimes it helps when someone has come from an awful situation to actually hear that the team is supportive and really wants to hear from her about her designs, contributions, thoughts on a project. It might help her feel good enough to speak up if she knows someone will have her back.

          1. AvonLady Barksdale*

            I second this, and I also want to point out that it takes a long time to recover from something like that. Keep doing what you’re doing– support her, give her credit for her work, think about her and be concerned for her professional well-being. She may eventually open up more, she may not, but you’re doing what you can.

            I have a junior team member who is really great but completely un-assertive, and it’s baffling (and a little annoying sometimes). I do my best to make sure she has a voice, support her opinions, all that stuff. She still apologizes for everything, but we’re getting somewhere.

    6. Sunflower*

      I would talk to Belle about her professional wants and where she sees herself going. Mention you think a designer role will be opening up and she could possibly be a good fit for it. I would then give the feedback. Sometimes its better hearing feedback from someone who is just a bystander and not responsible for your employment.

    7. HumbleOnion*

      For the example you gave, maybe it would help her confidence level if you had a quick huddle before your project meetings. Let her know that you want her to talk about the sections she worked on. I’ll often draw a complete blank if I’m asked to jump in with comments. But if I’m able to prepare ahead of time, I can jot a few notes down so I don’t forget what I want to mention. That might make her look more confident in her work.

    8. Not So NewReader*

      I would tell her these points that you have said here. And I would add something about you feel that she will be really good at this that is why you wanted to talk to her for a minute about this stuff. Tell her you have a couple things to say that you think will really help her out and someone said something similar to you. You are just passing it forward.

    9. Geek Girl*

      Something that has helped me as a former junior staff member with a more quiet personality coming from a bad previous work situation was getting a heads up before the meeting about what I was expected to contribute.

      Can you touch base with her before the meeting – “At the teapot design update meeting tomorrow, can you be prepared to talk a little about teapot handle design?” That gives her some time to pull her thoughts together and ask questions of you about what people in the meeting will want to hear.

  22. GrumpityGrump*

    Going deep under cover for this one. For the second time in the last 6 months, I have been “selected” to participate in a leadership program. One is within my organization, the other isn’t. To my horror, the second one will start just like the first did – with a retreat at a lodge featuring a challenge ropes course.

    I am middle-aged, I am an experienced professional, I have zero desire for forced slumber parties with strangers, I’m out of shape and overweight, and what I’m doing to remedy that will yield no noticeable results by the time this hell rolls around. Want to help me improve the skills tied to leadership? Let me sit down with you and discuss case studies with practical application to my team and my profession.

    Grumble grumble grumble thanks for letting me vent grumble grumble grumble.

    1. AndersonDarling*

      You have my sympathies. I wonder what they expect you to learn from this “retreat” that you didn’t learn at the last one. Did the first one provide any valuable leadership skills?

      1. GrumpityGrump*

        Without giving too much detail, it’s coincidental that these two unrelated programs run together (the first one is ongoing). The internal one is part discussion/reading and part special projects. The external one is more networking than anything. In both cases you can opt out of individual activities but not the actual event. But you know how much fun it is to be the one declining and on the sidelines standing around. I appreciate all the sympathy!

    2. Amethyst*

      …Ropes course?! “Sorry, I can barely hold onto the railings on the bus. I can’t participate in a ropes course! I’ll be happy to cheer others on though.”

      I’m sorry you’re stuck doing this.

    3. A.K.*

      This is totally horrifying. I’m terrified of heights, but I think I come across as confident and fearless in professional settings, so this would be an awful way for me to bond with coworkers.

      The only thing I can think of is offering to take photos or videos of the course? That way you’re not just sitting on the sidelines, but participating in a way that isn’t awful.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      I can’t explain here how I encountered a ropes course, but I said no how, no way, not ever.

      The irony of it is I find life more challenging than any ropes course could ever be. But if I injure myself on that ropes course, (a definite possibility) I could carry that injury for life. No job anywhere is worth that.

    5. blackcat*

      As someone who loves climbing and ropes courses, I second the feigning medical issue to get out of the physical aspect of the training. If you do this, rather than sitting on the sidelines, try to cheer on your “teammates.” As far as enthusiasm goes: fake it until you make it.

      FYI: There are a host of completely minor injuries that could prevent someone from doing a ropes course, completely unrelated to weight/in-shape-ness. I have a very minor hip injury. Most of the time, I’m 100% fine. I have a pretty active life. But the last time I put on a rock climbing harness, my hip communicated very clearly to me: “If you pull on me with this harness, I will not let you walk tomorrow.” I went grumble grumble grumble, took it off, and sat down. No more climbing/ropes courses/etc for me, probably ever.

  23. Andraste*

    Hi all! I asked this question late in the comments last week and only got one response (which I’m thankful for!). I thought I’d post it farther up the thread this week to see if I could get some more input–please let me know if that’s frowned upon.

    On to my question! I graduated law school last summer and got a job in the public affairs department of the local affiliate of a national nonprofit. I didn’t take the bar. Turns out the affiliate has a lot of budget and management problems, and it hasn’t been a good fit. I’m quitting to take the bar this summer and explore other opportunities. To deal with the high turnover at the affiliate, we are requested to give 4 weeks notice. Because of said budget problems, I believe I will be cut as soon as I give notice. This is making me want to give the standard 2 weeks notice instead of the requested 4. It is probably selfish of me, but I’m about to be out of work for several months and the bar isn’t cheap, so I could really use that extra two weeks of pay. Any advice on the best course of action?

    1. Lulu*

      I’m confused. Are you talking about 2 weeks of extra unemployment you would get if you give 4 instead of 2 weeks notice?

      1. Andraste*

        Sorry! I think I will be asked to leave immediately instead of working through my 4 weeks notice period because of budget. So I guess I’m asking how terrible it would be if I gave 2 weeks notice instead of 4. just to be clear, let’s say I plan to leave by June 1. My employer requests 4 weeks notice, so early May I give notice. I am asked to quit immediately, which I think is likely. I I wait until mid May to give notice (standard 2 weeks), I’m still let go immediately but I got to work for two more weeks. I’m balancing company’s wishes vs. self-preservation and I’m not sure which choice is right.

        1. Lulu*

          Ok, that makes sense! In this case I think you’re fine with the 2 weeks notice. If they have a habit of cutting people right away, they pretty much forfeit their right to get extra notice. But I remember some unemployment consequence as well, as you might be able to claim unemployment benefits for the period between the date they let you go and the last day you stated in your notice.

          1. Treena Kravm*

            Yea, what I would do is check with your state ahead of time to be sure, but if that’s indeed the case, I would worry less because then you’re essentially getting a (partial) paycheck and have more time to study.

    2. YourCdnFriend*

      Treat the 4 weeks notice request for what it is: a request. You don’t have to fulfill a request. Give 2 weeks notice, be apologetic for not giving 4 and deal with the results. You need to put yourself first and your internal knowledge tells you that that means only 2 weeks. Trust your gut.

    3. kozinskey*

      As someone who’s still recovering from the debt I took on during bar study time, I definitely think 2 weeks notice is fair in this situation, with the foreknowledge that you might not get those last two weeks’ pay. 2 weeks is standard for most industries anyway. That being said, you might want to consider whether it’s going to negatively impact any reference you’d get from this company (and whether those references would even be relevant to the type of work you’re headed for next).

      Good luck!

    4. The IT Manager*

      I agree with other responses. Give only 2 weeks notice. They’ve demonstrated how they treat people who give notice so don’t offer any time beyond the professional standard.

    5. Treena Kravm*

      Definitely give 2 weeks, but in the meantime, start documenting what you do. They want the 4 weeks to make transition easier, so they’ll probably gripe less if the transition ends up going well.

    6. HumbleOnion*

      If they’re going to cut you right away, does it really matter how much notice you give?

  24. Sharon*

    What do you guys do, if anything, when a coworker comes to work without any makeup on? Do you say something about it?

    I’m not a Barbie Doll by any stretch, and wear only moderate makeup. But it always surprises me when coworkers who usually also wear makeup, show up at work without any. It seems somewhat unprofessional (we’re a professional, white collar office). I always want to ask if they forgot something, but I keep my mouth shut as if nothing was different.

    1. Former Diet Coke Addict*

      Why would there be anything to do? I can promise you that your coworker didn’t just forget it one day, and even if she had what would be the point of drawing attention to it? So she could go home and reapply? Goodness, don’t say anything. I like makeup and I wear it very frequently, but there’s nothing worse than hearing someone comment on it. Women can be just as professional with zero makeup as with a full face.

    2. HigherEd Admin*

      Makeup isn’t part of a business attire requirement; it isn’t part of a uniform. It’s a personal choice.

      I usually wear makeup to work, but sometimes my skin needs a break, or I didn’t have time that morning to apply it all, or I have a weird eye infection that precludes me from wearing makeup. It’s no one’s business. As long as I’m wearing work-appropriate clothing and I look otherwise put together, I don’t see the issue.

    3. Ruth (UK)*

      I have never worn make up in my life. I would honestly be quite offended if, in a work place situation, someone made a comment about my choices to do with cosmetics. I cant see how not wearing make up is unprofessional in any way. I can see how too much make up would be, but unless someone is actually unwashed or wearing dirty or inappropriate clothing etc, i think make up is a personal choice.

      1. Ruth (UK)*

        I’d like to amend slightly and add to my initial reply to this. To amend, I think I would actually be more taken aback than actually offended if someone questioned my choices with regards to make-up wearing.

        To add, I actually think it’s quite an odd thing to notice or think is a requirement for looking professional. I find that quite a lot of people I know or have come across (especially most men) never or rarely wear make up (to work or otherwise).

      2. Judy*

        I’m pretty sure my husband of 18 years can count on one hand the times he’s seen me with makeup on. My skin doesn’t like makeup, and my nails do not like nail polish. (I can’t even wear bangs because hair touching my face makes me crazy. I know I have touch sensory issues.)

        1. Beancounter in Texas*

          Me too! Before motherhood, I wore minimal makeup and tried to make it look natural, not obvious. I occasionally applied nail polish, but I haven’t done bangs since junior high. I cannot stand hair in my face. Post-motherhood, the most effort I can achieve before the baby starts crying in the morning is maybe some under-eye bag gel that makes me look a little less sleep deprived. Nail polish is now a luxury.

          I think makeup used to be considered part of “getting dressed,” as I have older family who would never dare step foot out of their house without makeup. But I also think there’s been some litigation or HR advice about not requiring makeup except when it is a part of the employee’s job is to look good/attractive, such as TV anchors or receptionists.

    4. Sans*

      I can’t imagine why it would occur to you that you should say something about it. Maybe they were running late. Maybe they wanted to try a different look. Maybe they just didn’t feel like dealing with it that morning. Why would any of that be your business?

      I used to wear makeup but I don’t anymore. No one has ever said anything. All my job interviews over the past 15 years have been without makeup. No problem. I take a shower every day and wear clean, matching clothes. That’s all that is required – not makeup.

    5. Celeste*

      I am drifting away from wearing makeup. Unless you work at a cosmetics counter or as a makeup artist, I can’t see any requirement to wear makeup to work.

      I hope you will not confront anyone over her personal choice.

    6. LittleMissCrankyPants*

      I’d have a hard time imagining when commenting on a co-worker’s appearance beyond “hey, you’ve got a tag hanging out, let me get it for you”, would ever be okay. You’re not models, right? It’s possible that others’ schedules get too smooshed in the AM to bother with something trivial like make-up, so I would say it’s not cool to comment on this at all. Would you say something similar to a man who didn’t shave or wash his hair often enough to suit your standards?

      If it’s a concern for your manager, then let him/her deal with it. It doesn’t appear to be a business/work concern for you.

      Also, not all of us are “guys’, just sayin’.

    7. manomanon*

      I would just say nothing. As someone who wears makeup on very rare occasions it drives me nuts when people comment on it if I do and I would assume the opposite must be true. Your coworker knows its out of the norm (for her not across the board) to not wear it that day but she has a reason that’s nobody’s business but hers.

    8. GOG11*

      There are a variety of reasons someone could be going without makeup, including health reasons. I think makeup is a personal choice and nobody’s business but the wearers, but if you feel tempted to comment, maybe it would help to imagine the reason why. I’d feel terrible if I said “Did you forget something?” if the person skipped makeup due to a painful eye infection or if they were going through a tough situation and didn’t want to wear makeup because it would announce to the world that she had been crying.

      I’m not saying someone should have to give you a reason. Rather, there are plenty of reasons you could probably identify with yourself for why someone isn’t wearing the makeup they usually do. Maybe thinking of those reasons would help you look at the behavior in a different light (instead of viewing it as unprofessional and, therefore, something the person shouldn’t do).

      1. Kelly L.*

        Yup. I actually don’t wear makeup often, but this past winter I couldn’t even wear it on the occasions I normally would; my skin got terribly dry, and it was 10x more obvious once I caked makeup on top of it. I looked much better without it on those days, believe me.

        To Sharon–don’t say or do anything, it’s a fashion choice, it’s not in the same realm as (say) forgetting to wear pants.

    9. C Average*

      It would literally never occur to me to say anything, or to see not wearing makeup as unprofessional. I don’t wear it myself, but many women in my office do. Keeping your mouth shut is a good strategy here.

    10. fposte*

      I realize that some of this is likely field and org culture, but if you tried to bring that up to somebody around here, they’d kick your made-up arse from here to kingdom come.

      And even if makeup is an org norm, unless somebody’s personal grooming practice interferes with your ability to complete your work, it ain’t your affair, and it’s rude to bring it up.

      1. Another Ellie*

        Seriously. The only time I ever come to work without makeup is if I’ve gotten almost no sleep the night before and chose to sleep the extra ten minutes rather than doing my normal makeup routine. If somebody pointed it out, they’d get the “tired me” response, which I normally repress. I don’t wear make-up for you, I wear make-up for me. If my sleep was more important to me that morning, f you.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        This. I wear a little make up once in a while. If you said anything to me, I would stare at you blankly and not say too much. But I would remember that you asked me that forever.

    11. CrazyCatLady*

      Nothing. If I didn’t wear makeup to work for a day, it would be my own personal decision and wouldn’t be because I forgot. It would be likely because I’m sick, my allergies are bothering me, I just didn’t have time for it, or I didn’t feel like it. If someone commented on it, I would be highly offended. (And people do comment on it with things like “you look tired!” or “are you sick?”

      It’s not unprofessional to not wear makeup. Makeup can sometimes make you look more polished, but it’s not a requirement.

      1. HeyNonnyNonny*

        And people do comment on it with things like “you look tired!” or “are you sick?”

        I once read a book that suggested skipping makeup before playing hooky and taking a sick day, for this exact reason. Sadly.

          1. HeyNonnyNonny*

            It was something like ‘The Bad Girl’s Guide to Road Trips’ or something. My mom bought it for me, and it came with bumper stickers that said ‘Bad Girl.’ Clearly a reliable source!

        1. cuppa*

          I actually got sent home from work once because I skipped eye makeup and “looked sick”. Seriously.
          OP, as someone who has a complex about not wearing makeup due to people making comments when I don’t (from family, from co-workers, from managers), don’t. Seriously, just don’t.

      2. Anony-moose*

        There are about two people in my office who could ask me “Where’s your makeup?” that wouldn’t send me into a fit of rage. I wear makeup every day including black eyeliner. One time I skipped it (just too damn tired to care) and my boss noticed. Her remark was “you ok? too stressed? need to talk?”

        That was ok with me. I was just surprised she noticed. Anyone else asking me would cross a line.

        Honestly I don’t think I’d notice if a coworker didn’t wear makeup!

    12. IndieGir*

      What? You don’t have to wear makeup to look professional. I never wear makeup; I’m allergic to everything and can only wear lipstick. When I wear that, it rubs off and I can’t be bothered to re-apply.

      Also, I can’t fathom even noticing that my co-workers were or weren’t wearing make-up, unless they went from Tammy Faye levels to no make up at all. Maybe you need a new hobby . . .

    13. Relly*

      I work in an office and I never wear makeup. That doesn’t suddenly make me less professional than my coworkers who do.

      The best thing to do is not to mention it, because it’s none of your business why people choose to wear or not wear makeup.

    14. Beebs*

      Some days I wear “a lot” of makeup (blush, eye shadow, eye liner, mascara, blending powder), some days I just put on some blush, and others I am just a fresh clean moisturized face. Even the best quality makeup can irritate your skin. Everyone is different and when I wear makeup it is because I enjoy it. Not sure how you are connecting this to professionalism.

      1. Sunflower*

        Ugh seriously the worst part of makeup is taking it off and that’s why I rarely wear it to work. I don’t wear a lot- usually just mascara and eyeliner but I can never seem to get all of it off from under my eyes!!!

    15. kozinskey*

      I’ve forgotten to put on makeup before. It’s just not my first priority. Even so, I’d be really annoyed if someone pointed it out to me. It’s a personal decision and if I wanted to, I could just stop wearing it altogether and it wouldn’t be anyone’s business but my own.

    16. Tinker*

      Most of my coworkers routinely come to work without any makeup on. Or at least not any that I notice. Why would I think to do or say anything about this?

      1. Tinker*

        Just to add onto this — if I do entertain the thought of pulling aside one of my non-makeup-wearing coworkers and saying “Hey, Mike, I notice you’re not wearing makeup. Don’t you think that’s unprofessional?” I don’t see any great benefit in any of the results of that conversation, such that I could imagine feeling compelled to say it.

        So, what is it that you’d hope to gain by doing anything?

        1. Us, Too*

          Exactly. I make it a practice simply to ignore someone’s appearance and focus on my work as much as possible. I have seen some pretty “different” things worn to work if you use “average” as your baseline and somehow the earth still rotates and we all still did our work.

          I can’t imagine thinking “wow, Mike wore eyeliner today and his productivity is no doubt higher!” Huh?!?!

          1. Windchime*

            Surely I’m not the only one thinking that I would *love* it if Mike would wear eyeliner to work. I’m a sucker for a guy in eyeliner; especially if his name is Billy Joe Armstrong.

    17. Treena Kravm*

      I’ve never worn make-up to work, and like others above, would think very little of anyone who said anything to me about it.

      I do understand being startled by the difference in appearance. As an intern, my supervisor always was very made-up, and on days she was sick, she wouldn’t wear make-up and she did look very different. But I never thought along the lines of her “forgetting” something. She clearly chose not to put it on, whether it was an allergy attack bothering her eyes or she was rushing in the morning.

    18. Not Today Satan*

      If a coworker asked me if I “forgot” something a day that I chose not to wear makeup I would lose a huge amount of respect for that person. I would also probably be tempted to take off my earrings and instruct others around me to hold me back.

      1. OriginalEmma*

        The only “makeup” you’d apply at that point would be the vaseline that protects your face from glancing blows!

    19. AndersonDarling*

      If I wore make-up people would ask if I was going on a date. I used to do the whole nine yards every day. Then my make-up routine shrank down to lipstick, then nothing. If I am giving a presentation I’ll wear a bit of make-up, but that is my limit.

      1. Sunflower*

        Yeah I never wear makeup to work. I had to get my passport pictures taken a while ago so I wore it and my bosses asked me if I had a job interview that day. So now that I am interviewing, I know to only put it on right before the interview!

    20. August*

      I never wear make up to work. I don’t know what to say to OP and surprised that some people can think that it is unprofessional.

    21. Amethyst*

      Please do not say anything. I wear makeup when I feel like it. I don’t when I don’t want anything on my face. It’s not any different than choosing not to wear a necklace that day. Wearing makeup is not a professional requirement.

      It would lower my opinion a lot of a person if they mentioned this to me. I only want to hear about my makeup if I’ve smeared my eyeliner/mascara.

    22. Christian Troy*

      I wear what I consider a decent amount of make up to work because it’s how I feel comfortable presenting myself to the world. I don’t mean Miss America layers, but I picked up enough tricks from friends in broadcasting and professional cheerleaders that I like to look awake and refreshed. It looks pretty obvious to me when I don’t wear it and I if I showed up to work without it, it looks like I’m sloppy or sick or not 100% that day.

      So I don’t know what the answer to this is. It isn’t anyone’s business if I don’t wear make up, but if I showed up one day without people will and have commented that I look sick or had a rough night or something.

      1. Observer*

        I get that. But, snarky comments about “did you forget something” are a whole different level. Also, what you describe is not about being professional but a change in appearance that does make you look like you may not be feeling well.

    23. Sparrow*

      To specifically answer your question – no, don’t say anything to your coworker.

      I am like your coworker. The majority of the time, I wear makeup and “dress up”. Our office is jeans and t-shirts casual, but I prefer to dress up a little more than that. Then there are times when I go through periods of depression. Doing my hair and makeup and dressing in nice clothes just isn’t a priority during those times.

      There could be a number of reasons she’s not wearing makeup. As long as it’s not affecting the job, I wouldn’t say anything. I would be quite embarassed if one of my coworkers commented on my appearance. I don’t want to explain to them the details of my emotional state.

    24. Samantha*

      Also never wear makeup. Personal choice. I would be highly offended if this was mentioned to me.

    25. Mockingjay*

      Recently I have developed allergies to several makeup chemicals and hair dye. I went white in my 30s, so I colored it for years. As a result, I can no longer dye my hair without risking anaphylaxis. So, I am going platinum and wearing much less cosmetics these days.

      What does this have to do with my job? Absolutely nothing. I follow the dress code, my hair is clean and trimmed, and my face is washed. I still consider myself “professional” in appearance, even without a coat of L’Oreal.

    26. Elizabeth West*

      Nope. Doesn’t matter.

      For me, I wouldn’t go out of the house without at least concealer and mascara (and a touch of lipstick) because if I don’t wear it, IMO I look like hell. If I didn’t wear any for some reason and someone said something, I’d think they were thinking I looked like hell. So don’t say anything!

      As for my coworkers, I never notice if they aren’t wearing makeup, but I do notice if they are wearing a cute shirt or did something cool with their hair.

    27. Chloe Silverado*

      I completely understand that there’s a (possibly glaring) difference from their usual appearance, but I would assume there’s a reason they didn’t wear makeup and move on. I say this as someone who wears a pretty full face of makeup every day – if for some reason I skip the eyeliner or blush, it’s not because I forgot, it’s because I was running late or just wanted a break. Someone saying something is only going to make me feel bad about my appearance. Unless your job is very, very appearance based, there’s absolutely no reason to say anything.

    28. iamanengineer*

      I guess I’m piling on here. I worked in an environment where no makeup or nail polish was allowed on the production floor. People with desk jobs who never went into the area could wear makeup but since I sometimes had to go in it was easier not to wear anything (or wash it off before heading in). Some jobs were full time production so there were people who never wore eye shadow or lipstick (or chopstick) at work. It was always a contrast to see them dressed up with hair and makeup at company parties.

    29. jillociraptor*

      Hmm. Out of curiosity, what would you want to say, and what would be the outcome you’re hoping for?

      1. Anonsie*

        Yeah, I’m not sure what the intended point of talking about it is. Are you worried about them since they usually wear makeup, and changes in grooming can be a sign of something bad happening around a person? Because that’s a bit of a leap unless you know full well this is someone who would typically not be caught dead in public without a full face, and even then it’s awfully personal for the workplace.

        1. Myrin*

          I find this “can be a sign of something bad happening around a person” thing especially interesting because of how it’s exactly the opposite of my own situation. I was bullied as a young teenager because of how “ugly” I was (in hindsight, I looked pretty normal for a child that age) and thus practically needed makeup to make me feel better (where I’d liked myself just well enough before that). When I got older, I started to use less makeup and now I’m down to mascara and eyeshadow (which is black on the outer corners of my eyes, so it might seem to outsiders like I use a lot when that isn’t actually the case; but I also do it for fun now). And it’s been only a few months ago where I felt comfortable enough again in my own skin to go grocery shopping without makeup on. And as recently as three weeks ago I went to uni without makeup for the first time, even if it was just to check stuff in the library. Granted, I don’t think I’d go to actual classes without makeup because I like my made up look, but for me, being out without makeup actually shows how I finally got more comfortable with my natural appearance and how I feel better about myself, not worse. So someone making some ill-advised comment about my makeup-less face wouldn’t have been well received at all.

          1. Anonsie*

            That’s why it’s way too personal to get into with someone you’re not very close with, I think. Because for some people it’s a fun hobby that they like and is just part of their regular grooming, so if they suddenly stopped doing it that would indeed be a sign of something strange. And then for some people, it’s as you say. Not something you’re like to know about someone you work with.

    30. Sadsack*

      What do I say about other women’s makeup choices, or clothing for that matter? NOTHING. Do you think that your coworkers need for you to remind them that they don’t have on any makeup? Or do you just want to be able to tell someone when you disapprove of her appearance? Whether it is by their choice or they simply forget, it isn’t your place to monitor them. You’d be a real ass to say anything about it.

    31. Blue_eyes*

      The men in your office wear makeup?! Oh, they don’t? Do you ask them why they’re not wearing makeup? Then it’s not appropriate to ask your female colleagues either. If men can be professional without makeup, so can women.

      (Just to be clear, I have no problem with men who want to wear make up to work or otherwise, but I wanted to call out the inherent sexism in this question.)

      1. Andraste*

        Thank you for this comment!

        I typically wear makeup to work. I haven’t worn any for the last three days because I had a dental procedure this week that has made the left side of my face very sore. Until I feel better I’m not going to wear makeup, and that’s a discussion I don’t need to get into with coworkers.

        Generally it’s a good rule of thumb just to not comment on other peoples’ bodies at work. Period.

      2. Ruth (UK)*

        Since she only says ‘coworkers’ in her initial post, and makes no mention of gender, I am actually prepared to give her the benefit of the doubt and believe that she’s judging men equally harshly for not putting on their make-up in the morning.

        Well no, I don’t really believe she’s doing that. However, if she was, at least we wouldn’t have a gender double standard going on. . . I actually would find it less problematic if someone was unhappy with lack of make-up at work for people of any gender.

    32. Observer*

      I don’t want to pile on here – I agree with pretty much everyting that has been said. But, there are two things that I really had to comment on.

      Others have already commented on this, but I think it’s something you really should think about. What on earth do you think you would accomplish by saying anything? And why do you even care? You are not describing people who are dressing, much less behaving, unkempt and sloppy. So why do you want to even respond?

      Secondly, I was struck by the snarky nature of your mental response. I just can’t understand what that’s all about.

    33. MJ (Aotearoa/New Zealand)*

      I think everyone’s piled on to you a bit, so I want to give you some advice that’s served me really well: only make a comment on someone’s appearance/something being out of place if it would take them five minutes or less to fix.

      Spinach in their teeth? Lipstick smeared on their chin? Toilet paper stuck to the bottom of their foot? Yes, absolutely tell them.

      The colour of their shirt doesn’t suit them? They’re overweight? Don’t say anything. They can’t fix it; all you’re going to do is make them self-conscious. (It’s the same logic behind addressing dress code issues at the end of the day, so people can leave straightaway.)

      Putting on makeup would take longer than five minutes to fix, and it’s incredibly unlikely someone would have brought their makeup to work anyway. So don’t say anything.

      1. afiendishthingy*

        Also lipstick on your teeth or having your cardigan on inside out is almost definitely unintentional and undesired, whereas your coworkers know whether they are wearing makeup on any given day and it’s a valid choice either way.

    34. pony tailed wonder*

      Sorry to add to the pile on here but someone once said something like that to someone in my book club and fifteen years later, it still comes up occasionally in conversations (and not in a nice way).

      1. Not So NewReader*

        You made me think– I got out of high school and the pressure to wear make up was over. I savor that to this day. Someone asking about that, looks odd to me, at best.

  25. Treena Kravm*

    Intern problems!

    Any experience or advice for communicating with interns? My manager, co-worker, and I all say things very clearly, and it still doesn’t seem to be heard or understood.

    When they started, they gave us their availability, and they’re only available for 10-12 of the business hours in the week. All three of us clearly said multiple times, “Because you’re not available during these hours, you won’t really be able to do X part of the internship (X being the part most interns want to do as it’s our main job).” and “It’s your responsibility to look on our calendar and ask if you want to shadow or come with us to events when you are available.”

    So this is the halfway point in their internship, and they both have less than 1/3 of their hours. The come to me at their check-in meeting and say their advisor reamed them out about hours, but they do not have any hours because they have “nothing to do.” and that they’re not doing the X part of the internship, which is a requirement. I remind them of everything above, and remind them that it took them 4 weeks to finish the 10-15 hours of mandated training webinars (that they must complete prior to being assigned any tasks) because they were “busy.”

    Am I being crazy here or somehow unclear? Or are these two just lazy college students who are in a required internship class??

    1. the_scientist*

      I don’t understand why your company hired interns knowing that they weren’t going to be able to put in enough hours/be available at the right time to be involved in the core work. I think that’s on you and your company, not on the interns. It seems like they were up-front with you about their restrictions.

      The part about them taking 4 weeks to finish 10-15 hours worth of mandatory training does seem unreasonable/lazy, but maybe it’s not. Were they given time to do these training webinars during the workday? Or was the expectation that they do them on their own time? If they were supposed to get these done on their own time, was that expectation clearly stated? Did you give them a deadline for when their training needed to be completed? If these are paid interns, was it made clear that they should track their hours so they could be paid for completing mandatory training? Were they “busy” with school/paid employment or were they “busy” with other internship tasks?

      Did these student come to you independently, or was the internship arranged by a school? If it was arranged by their school, did the school make it clear to you that X core work was an internship requirement? If they did, did you or your company explain that X can only be worked on at certain times and interns need to be available during these times? If the school knew about these restrictions, why would they send students knowing they wouldn’t be able to complete the core work? If you/your company knew that X was a requirement, why would you hire interns knowing they couldn’t complete the requirement?

      All in all, this sounds like a massive communication failure on all sides.

      1. Treena Kravm*

        Well I don’t hire them, my manager does. And what she’s done is explain to them what the internship looks like, and she’s admitted that she’s relied on them to self-select out if the schedule doesn’t work for them. She interviews them before they know their class schedule, so it’s tough on both sides. They told me and my co-workers their schedules the first week of their internship, which was 3 months after they were officially “hired.” We normally don’t ask because we don’t need to know until January, and it’s never been a problem because all interns have understood, if you want to do X, you have to be available during these hours (it’s related to the school day, so it’s really, incredibly obvious).

        The webinars they are allowed to do anytime they want, from home or the office, and those hours are part of their internship hours. I didn’t give a specific deadline, but they were clearly told multiple times that they could not do X, Y, or Z (anything) until they’ve done them. They even asked to do Y + Z and we said no because your webinars aren’t completed. They’re busy with work and school, yes, but they also committed 20 hours/week to this internship, and they’ve done an average of 8 hours per week so far. There’s really no excuse, especially when they share about how they went hiking and had a margarita night with their roommates.

        It’s arranged by the school, and it’s a requirement for their degree. We’ve never gotten really specific because like I mentioned above, X is so obviously able to be done during certain hours, that it’s never needed specific communication before. And just to be clear, we don’t *need* the interns to do X. This is something they (should) want experience in because that’s what their degree is all about. X is my job and I do it all and don’t need support, but if there are interns, they can shadow me doing X and then do a small piece of X on their own towards the end of the semester, as part of the learning experience. It doesn’t matter to me if it’s not their priority to do it, and we don’t insist that they do it.

        1. the_scientist*

          So, what jumped out at me here is that you initially said that the internship is 10-12 hours per week in your first post, but in your reply you say that they’ve committed 20 hours per week. So…..which is it? 10-12 is pretty different from 20 hours, and IMO 20 hours per week is A LOT of time for an internship when also juggling a full courseload and other extracurriculars. 20 hours per week strikes me as quite a lot for an unpaid internship as well, but I’m admittedly biased against unpaid internships as a rule. Given that you haven’t been clear in your responses about the actual number of hours required by the interns, I think it’s possible that the actual time requirements were not made clear to them in the hiring process. It’s very possible that the interns were told 10-12 hours and simply don’t have time for 20 hours per week but aren’t willing/are too scared to speak up.

          Further, you said that they were hired before they knew their class schedule, which makes no sense to me if the internship has particular parts that are only do-able at certain times. I took a very specific program in my undergrad, and there was only one of each of my required courses available- meaning that if there was a “scheduling conflict” I couldn’t just drop a class and pick up another one at a more convenient time. Students are first and foremost students, so it makes sense that their classes take priority over an internship, even if the internship is a degree requirement. If it’s something they “should want to do”, well…maybe they do want to do it but can’t because of their class schedules. IMO, your manager’s first mistake was hiring students before their schedules were set and having a setup where students are required to be in at very specific times. The interns may genuinely have limited flexibility, and given that they are presumably taking classes, I think the onus is on the employer to be a little flexible to account for this, or to not hire interns that don’t have the required flexibility.

          Finally, the school apparently thinks X thing is a requirement….or did you just mean that the internship as a whole is a requirement? If the school didn’t make it clear to you that the students needed to be spending hours doing X, that’s the school’s poor communication. If they did, well….again, you shouldn’t have hired students who you knew at the outset couldn’t meet the requirement.

          I get some of your frustration as I’ve supervised co-op and work study students before and I have gotten frustrated with them for not doing what I thought should be obvious. In general, having written processes and lots of documentation and breaking things down into very specific steps is really critical to student success. You mention below being hesitant to impose artificial deadlines but keep in mind that these guys are still students- they are used to everything they do having a deadline attached. Internships are about learning how the work world works, to a large extent, but you do need to do a bit of hand-holding, initially. FWIW, we gave our student workers a TON of flexibility because we knew they had full course loads- they knew we kept 9-5 hours and that they were responsible for 10-12 hours a week of work but we let them set their schedules around their classes and take work home whenever possible.

          1. Treena Kravm*

            No, they’re availability limits them to only 10-12 hours during business hours. The university requires a 20 hour internship to graduate, they know it’s 20 hours. That’s not the issue. We’re a non-profit and as I’ve said below, this is a favor to the university because they have a huge need for internships and not enough placements for their students.

            This internship is a 6 credit class that they will fail if they don’t perform well in. So to say that they should make their other classes a priority doesn’t make sense, because this is an academic requirement. The university requires them to seek their placements when they do because of the shortage, so we have no control over that either. This has never been a problem in the past because students typically understand that if they have an internship, they need to have a couple of chunks of time free. Typically, they will schedule all their classes on either a M/W or a T/Th and have 3 full days available during business hours.

            X is the thing that is most related to their major, so the idea behind any internship is not just silly tasks that don’t teach them their field. They can still do other projects that are tangentially related to their field, but X is actually doing the work out in the field. X according to the school’s definition is a wide range of activities, but our org only does a tiny niche of X, and it requires a lot of knowledge and presentation skills. We understand that interns might genuinely not want to do our niche version of X and we don’t force them to actually do it on their own at the end of the semester unless they want to. Honestly, I think that the lack of X is a side note to them not having hours, which is the real problem.

            1. the_scientist*

              Ah, okay, this is helpful. Especially good to know that this internship is a part of their course load (i.e. not in addition to a full course load); that makes 20 hours per week more reasonable.

              In that case, you may just have gotten a couple of duds this year. I was wanting to explore all other angles first, because what are the odds of hiring 2 dud interns in one year when it’s a competitive position and past internships have gone smoothly? But maybe it was a weak crop of students or you just had bad luck this time around.

              It does sound like your org is maybe not set up to support interns well, generally, and I agree with fposte that the flexibility is ultimately causing more harm than good.

              1. Treena Kravm*

                Yea, unfortunately, I think the duds are because of my manager this time. I’m 99% sure she hired the wrong “Jane” because our Jane said that she never had an interview, or phone conversation, and my manager is sure that she did. So my guess is she interviewed and like Jane K and accidentally hired Jane L. And the other one, I don’t know. But Playboy consistently ranks this as one of the top 10 party schools in the country, so I think no matter what we do, they’re going to basically suck. Past interns were more tolerable, but I wouldn’t even classify them as “good.”

                1. fposte*

                  Well, Playboy hasn’t done a party school list in years, urban legend to the contrary; however, my institution appears in the top ten of the Princeton Review’s party school list on the regular and it still would be pretty easy for me to find two decent interns here. So I’m not sure it’s the school.

            2. AdAgencyChick*

              It sounds like your org needs to provide feedback to whomever is the point person at the school (the career services office?): this is happening, we are unable to waive our restrictions on X, Y, and Z, and please make sure that any students who apply in the future are fully aware of the requirements.

              What to do with the current students is a harder question, and one I don’t have a lot of advice for, unfortunately!

      2. Christian Troy*

        I agree with all of this. This whole situation sounds pretty confusing and unstructured to me. It seems like to me, your company takes a really hands off approach and it’s so hands off you have interns that don’t meet the core availability and took four weeks to complete training.

        To me, this is less of a communication issue and more about setting clear expectations and structure for the rest of the process. They should have a schedule of when they’re coming in the office and when they’re leaving along with clear weekly goals and objectives of what to accomplish when they’re there. I don’t think this is a hopeless situation, but someone needs to take reigns and get a spreadsheet going with weekly tasks and goals.

        1. Treena Kravm*

          The problem is that I don’t usually work out of our office, so they aren’t required to either. They are allowed to make their own schedules, just as I do. We are together at events, and during our weekly check-ins. Because we don’t actually need them to do any of the work they’re doing, we rarely need Task A to be done at the end of the week, so why should I create an artificial deadline? They send a weekly log of their hours and what they complete, so that’s how we track what they do.

          1. fposte*

            I think this may be a situation where what feels like helpful flexibility is actually hurting them because it’s too much for them to handle. They’re not like you, so what you do isn’t necessarily going to work as a model.

            I’d have prescribed hours for them and say some changes may be possible with approval.

            1. Treena Kravm*

              And then that’s what I can’t really do, even though I’d like to. Our “office” is a tiny room that barely fits the 4 chairs we need to have a meeting, and only 2 computers. So if an intern is in there, my co-worker and I can’t use our computers, have a private meeting, or do anything. So while giving them structure, we’d also be kicking ourselves out of the office.

              I think the problem is that my manager frames the flexibility as a helpful thing to them, because she doesn’t want to focus on the fact that we can’t function as a normal office because our org is so incredibly dysfunctional.

              We built our building for ourselves 4 years ago and they neglected to include an office big enough for our dept, a private office for our director, a break room for the shift-work staff, and an appropriate changing room so the shift staff can change into their work clothes. So we’re left with a tiny box that has 2 workstations and sometimes, while we’re sitting at our desks, someone will walk in, close the door and start stripping before they realize we’re in there =/

    2. fposte*

      Yeah, they don’t sound great there, that’s for sure, and they may flunk their internship if they’re not careful. But their schedule means that they’re not going to get credit for this internship, because they’re not going to be able to do X? That sounds like it would have been a reason to bail right up front for their own good–“Oh, if that’s what’s required, that’s not going to happen with this schedule; it looks like you might be better off finding an internship someplace else.”

      It also sounds like you may not have much of an underlying structure for the internships–was there any actual hiring practice or do you guys just take who comes? It might also be helpful to have a guidelines packet for candidates that makes it clear successful completion of the internship requires certain hours of availability and that additional opportunities are dependent on the intern’s initiative and willingness to request inclusion.

      1. Treena Kravm*

        This is a competitive position, usually 8-10 candidates for 2 slots. I think documentation is what my manager needs to start doing, because she does all of that verbally, and it sounds like these two just nodded their way through without really listening. I think the problem is that despite literally saying “you need to take initiative on this” over 50 times since they’ve started, they just don’t. I’m not sure why–one is sort of shy, but very articulate.

        I just think they might just have poor organization skills in general because we’ll discuss a project, and then 2 weeks later, they’ll ask questions about it that I though were already answered. It’s really hard to tell if they’re just pretending to have questions to cover up not doing anything for 2 weeks, if they forgot about it and lost the notes I watched them take, or if they don’t feel comfortable asking questions to clarify in the moment or later when they crop up. It’s boggling my mind.

        1. AVP*

          This is something that, IME, happens a lot with interns. Young people in general are not great at hearing things they don’t want to hear and applying it to their decision making, if it goes against what they want to do.

          A few months ago I hired this intern, recommended by a friend of a friend, and gave her my usual spiel about what the internship would be like. I do this a lot; people generally get it. She asked if she could shadow our editor at all and I said “yes, eventually for a few days, but thats not the bulk of this internship.” She quit on the first day because she had convinced herself that the entire internship would just be shadowing and no actual work, and “this position just isn’t creative enough for me.”

          On the absolute other hand, these are interns. You can’t just assign a project and ask for it two weeks later. They are learning how to work, and what organizational skills are in the context of a work setting. You need to really proactively follow up with them every day or every time you see them to see what they’re up to and how it’s going and if they have questions. Having interns is more work than doing the project yourself, fyi, in many cases.

          1. Treena Kravm*

            “This is something that, IME, happens a lot with interns. Young people in general are not great at hearing things they don’t want to hear and applying it to their decision making, if it goes against what they want to do.”
            This really is the crux of the problem I think.

            When we assign a project, we do into depth about everything we want in terms of specifics, and tell them where they have to do A, B, C, and tell them the places they have creativity and room to play with how they want it. Every check-in meeting, we go over how the projects are going, and half of the time, it’s “I didn’t have time yet” and a quarter is “I couldn’t do it because…” and the other quarter is they actually did it.

            1. you must be hovering over yourself watching us drip on each other's sides*

              “This is something that, IME, happens a lot with interns. Young people in general are not great at hearing things they don’t want to hear and applying it to their decision making, if it goes against what they want to do.”

              I think that’s a bit harsh, plus it’s true of great numbers of people, not just interns.

              I work with Interns a lot, and they often surprise me because something I – with my decades in the industry – think is pure common sense, has never occurred to them.

              I confess that I’m not sure I completely grasp the situation, but if I were you, I think I would put these people on a “PIP” – okay, not really a PIP, but I’d sit down with each one of them and a calendar and map out, hour by hour, exactly how they’re going to spend their hours for the next N weeks of their internship.

              1. Treena Kravm*

                I would love to do that, but the number of hours something takes is so variable, I couldn’t begin to guess it.

                1. you must be hovering over yourself watching us drip on each other's sides*

                  Could you at least map out the available work hours for each intern over the next months? It sounds like they hadn’t even signed up for classes when they agreed to the internship?

                  I dunno if it would really help, but the idea is to have it down in black and white just what hours are open, and how many there are. And maybe that could help everyone in scheduling to get the required tasks done?

                  Sorry I’m not much help – it sounds like a tough situation. I wish you the best on pulling it together.

    3. Elsajeni*

      If this is a required internship class, was it arranged through their school? Do you/your company have a contact at the school you could reach out to? It sounds like your company’s goals with this internship weren’t really lined up with the school’s goals, if you didn’t even known until just now what the requirements were. My only experience with a school-related internship was student teaching, so it may not be exactly the same, but that was arranged with a lot of contact between my advisors and the teacher whose classroom I was placed in; if there had been any concern about whether I’d be able to complete my program requirements in that particular classroom, my advisors would have known about it from the start and either not placed me there in the first place or actively stepped in to make sure I’d get a chance to complete that requirement. I wonder if part of the problem with your interns is that they’re expecting something more like that — if they have some impression that you and their advisor were in touch at the start of this process, and that someone would have stopped them from being placed in this internship if it was going to be impossible for them to do X part.

      Given that they say their advisor reamed them out, I’m guessing there’s not going to be a problem with the school blaming your company for a failed internship. But you still might want to reach out to your contact at the school, if you have one, to let them know, “Hey, we just learned from these interns that X is a requirement of their internship. Because they’re not available during the hours that we do X, they haven’t been able to do that here, and they won’t be able to unless they can change their schedules to be here at [whatever time]. If it’s going to be impossible for them to earn credit for this internship, what should we do?”

      1. Treena Kravm*

        We do have a contact, which is why they were reamed out. Because after several weeks of us clearly outlining everything, they just literally weren’t doing anything. Last week, one timesheet was 6 hours of an event they came to, and no other work. So my manager called their advisor and clarified it’s not because we don’t give them the work, they’re just not doing it.

        The real problem is that their major/our organization is in a very tiny field, and there are hundreds of them every semester that needs an internship in this tiny field, so we take on 2 to support the university. We don’t need them at all, but are education-based, so it’s part of our mission to do this. It’s worked in the past because interns will do side projects that we only would do if we have a load of time on our hands, so they normally contribute *something* just nothing vital.

    4. jade*

      are these interns you hired independently, or part of a program you regularly take part in? if the former, then i’d probably treat it like any other work situation of underperformers. if the latter, then i’d have a conversation with the prof/advisor on how they’d like to handle it. is their laziness affecting your work? or is this more about meeting the requirements of their program?

      it’s always tough with unpaid interns. i always made sure that mine knew that their classes/academic requirements came first. but we always got overachievers. :)

      good luck.

    5. BRR*

      I would ask them to repeat it back to me. Something like, “Can you repeat back to me what I said? I want to make sure I didn’t miss anything.”

    6. Intern Wrangler*

      I feel your pain. Over my years of supervising interns, this has become more and more of a problem. We work with a lot of graduate interns in a non profit setting. We have developed clear expectations. We ask them to sign learning agreements. And we still run into problems with them not being able to meet the expected hours. Hours that were set by their school. I know when I did my internship, I worked full time and commuted an hour each way to my internship site. The only class I took was the field placement seminar. I wish schools would limit the number of classes that students can take during their internship.
      I cannot tell you how many times in the past year that students have come to me in a panic about not getting their hours. And we have availability seven days a week, evenings and weekends. So no, you are not crazy.
      We have had some success in following up with the individual schools when we have had problems. I would recommend that you keep clear lines of communication with the field instructors.

    1. CA Admin*

      I hope she wins. I’m in the SF Bay Area and completely believe her claims–VC has a nasty reputation for sexism and for every 1 lawsuit you see, there are hundreds more stories out there about equally bad behavior.

    2. Andraste*

      I find her description of the events entirely believable, and from that I think the suit is justified. Good luck to her!

  26. Bekx*

    Just want to thank Alison and all the commenters here. I’ve been reading this blog for almost 3 years now. It helped me get my first job which was absolutely horrible and toxic (I used to go by Becca until a few other people started popping up with that name…not sure if anyone remembers me though). Now I have great-awesome-fantastic job and we just got our performance reviews.

    Guys. My boss told me how amazing I’ve been doing and how if I can keep it up I can go anywhere with my career (I’m 25). I got a 10% bonus, a raise, and the owner of the company gave me extra bonus money because I helped him on a project.

    Going from being told you’re worthless and feeling like you’re the worst teapot designer ever to going to a wonderful supportive environment where you’re told you’re an asset is a dream.

    Thank you Alison for this blog, and for everyone who comments. I read this religiously every day and I have grown more in these 3 years reading your blog than from anything.

    1. Partly Cloudy*

      That’s awesome! Good for you. I’m new here, but this is certainly incentive to stick around. ;)

  27. Ruth (UK)*

    CV vs resume…
    Ok so I was reading the comments on an older thread here where it was mentioned by people that they dislike cv and resume being used wrongly etc.. Honestly I have never heard resume used in the UK by anyone other than my American mother and all jobs here will ask for a cv.. I have always considered resume to be an Americanism.

    I noticed I recently commented and used the terms interchangeably ie. ‘blahblah my cv blahblah your resume’ as I consider them to be the same thing but one to be an American term. This is because I call it a cv but I’m replying to someone who talked about their resume and end up mixing terms…

    I tried googling it and found some sources (American sites) claiming a cv is a longer and different thing and other sites saying cv is only the all encompassing term if you’re in the UK..

    So when I say cv, are there American readers reckoning I’m just confused… Honestly I don’t think anyone here would say resume.

    1. Treena Kravm*

      In the US, a resume is what you would use for a job in the public/private sector. A CV is what you would use for the academic sector. In the UK, you use the term “CV” to mean the equivalent of an American resume.

      When you’re commenting here, people know you mean resume because you’re Ruth (UK). If you were just Ruth, you’d confuse folks.

    2. Jen*

      In my experience in the UK, CV is the default when referring to a work history document, and resume is considered an Americanism.

      Whereas in my experience in Canada (which is basically the same as the US as far as this kind of language), a resume is the default, and a CV is the longer, academic version (only used by those who’re going for professorships and the like).

    3. CAA*

      When I see “CV” used by someone whose username indicates she’s in the UK, I assume she’s using the UK definition of the word and mentally translate that to “resume”.

      If someone in the U.S. uses “CV”, I assume she means the document that academics use, which is longer and has a different format than a typical professional resume.

      1. Sunflower*

        Yes exactly. CV’s are really used for academia and can go on for pages and pages and tend to include everything. Resumes are used pretty much everywhere else and are much more concise, usually only a page.

  28. Lucy*

    I just started my job 2 months ago and I’m already having serious doubts about it….in the 8 weeks I’ve been here, 8 people (including 2 of the managers who interviewed me, out of an office of ~45) have put in their notice! On the surface it seems amicable and I shouldn’t be worried (and my bf tells me I’m being crazy), but I was talking to some people and they all admitted they were looking because the company has changed “a lot” in the past year.

    I’m trying to take AAM’s advice and stick it out for at least a few more months, but this news on top of me not being crazy for the job has seriously colored my view of it – my boss won’t delegate so a lot of the time I’m just sitting here twiddling my thumbs, the office culture itself is very quiet and solitary, plus the commute is about twice as long as I thought it would be (my interviews never took place during rush hour….). It’s not a “toxic” workplace, but I don’t feel like it’s going to help my career in the long run, you know?

    We actually relocated for this job (no assistance or contract/obligations, we were just desperate to be in this city) so I’m not making any rash decisions, but I’m a little disheartened that what I thought was going to be a good career move isn’t turning out to be and it’s back to the job search grind again….

    1. GOG11*

      Your coworkers are leaving because the company has changed a lot from a time when you didn’t know what the company was like. I would only worry about this if their leaving affects you/your position negatively.

      As far as it not living up to what you hoped it would do for your career, I’d seriously weigh that against what leaving so soon would do. Unless you have lengthy stays at other jobs, it might not be a good idea to leave so soon (and in most cases, you can’t do it too frequently, either).

      Ultimately, you have to weigh whether your next job would be a better fit overall than this one – you could leave and find yourself in the same situation again.

      1. GOG11*

        I meant to add that, if the current benefits/culture/whathaveyou is fine with you, don’t worry about the change from what was. As long as what is works for you, it doesn’t matter that it used to be better (or that only Better Circumstances are up to par for your colleagues).

      2. NacSacJack*

        +1 The job you accepted at the company you now work may work for you. Or it may be the company culture fits you for where you are at in life right now. Companies go through culture changes all the time. It took me a while to realize our new employees are happier because they don’t know what it was like before the change. Also, consider this, the economy has really *AND I MEAN REALLY* picked up in the last few months. You may be seeing delayed, but normal, transistions that all waited for a better economy.

      3. Lucy*

        Those are all really good points – like I said, not a “toxic” environment, I’m mostly just bored and hate the commute (which were not problems I anticipated during the interview). I’m sad to see these people go, but I think it’s because I’m still new and they’re some of the few people I know!

        My work history is pretty steady (1.5 year contract, then 3 years at Job 1 and 2.5 years at Job 2) so I’m not worried about using a “freebie” (as AAM calls it) – the timing would also allow me to drop it from my resume completely, since I could chalk up a gap to the fact that we had relocated and just not mention I was employed at a job that didn’t work out….but we’ll see! For now just keeping my ear to the ground and seeing how the situation falls….

    2. cuppa*

      I would wait it out a little longer. People can fly the coop for a lot of reasons, and just because things have changed for them doesn’t mean that tings will be bad for you. It’s something to keep an eye on, but not necessarily a reason to bail just yet.

      1. Wolfey*

        I just gave notice after a year at a job where people have been leaving right and left. We’ve probably had 90% of the staff and 10-20% of the attorneys leave since I started. Granted I am a sample size of one, but my experience here was that even if things seemed ok for you in the beginning, the not-so-great stuff was coming just by virtue of everyone else who dealt with it being gone.

        I’m not saying jump ship immediately, but trust your reactions and instincts as you notice things and maybe keep an eye on the job market?

        1. cuppa*

          I think in your situation, that’s totally correct. If 85-90% of the staff are leaving, that’s key. However, I’ve seen situations where changes were made that were really positive, but there were people around that were resistant to those changes, and they left. I’ve also seen situations where a certain group was having issues with their management, and a lot of those people left because of it, but it didn’t really affect other departments. It is important to monitor the situation, but look at the factors before just jumping ship.

          1. Wolfey*

            I found out today that the official turnover rate is 81%! Holy cow, can you believe that?!?!?!

        2. Lucy*

          My previous job was like that – apparently my resignation was a domino effect and 20 positions out of a 40 person department have turned over in the 3 months since I left! Since I’m new in town I’m planning on using this weekend to scope out some networking or young professional groups and checking out job boards, just to see what’s out there.

          I’m mostly just concerned about the timing of staying where I am too long if I’m already having doubts – if I left sooner rather than later I could just drop this job from my resume and chalk the gap up to relocation….if I’m here longer (6 months or more) I’ll have to leave it on and explain why I used my “freebie.” Ugh.

    3. Sunflower*

      Wait it out a bit but keep your resume on hand. You might not have a ton to do just yet because you’re still pretty new so I wouldn’t worry about that just yet. Maybe people are leaving because the company is going in a different direction, one that you are interested in. Some people prefer workplaces that never change, others that are fast moving. Maybe they are going one of those ways. I would keep your eye out and try to scope out what exactly is going on. You’ll know soon enough whether you should stay or get out.

      Ps- I work at a company where the majority has been here 10+ years and they all claim they hate working here. So long track records don’t necessarily mean anything either.

    4. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

      Eh, that’s a fairly high number.

      It’s just a number but, it would be information to me. Don’t panic, but do what you can to keep your options open.

    5. Alternative*

      “my bf tells me I’m being crazy”

      This concerns me more than your job, actually. You have legit concerns, based on concrete things that are happening at work, and he dismisses you as crazy?

      Anyways. Sounds like your new job is rough right now, but it very well may settle down. Maybe these new people will bring positive change and energy to the workplace. Maybe not. But I bet it will take a few more months to see how things will shape out. Good luck, hope it works out for you.

  29. InterviewersAnon*

    I actually submitted this question to the open thread last week but it was too late in the day to get much of a response, I also wanted to provide more context.

    What is the best and most professional thing to say when declining a job offer from another company, which I have already negotiated and verbally accepted (with the exception of start date)?

    I used my network to find and interview for this position and am afraid that declining will burn my bridge there.

    However, after I spoke to my current company about the offer I ultimately decided to stay. It wasn’t a “counter-offer” situation as my current company already had a plan in place for me, this other offer just expedited the timing for that. Also, I did not resign from my job, so technically there was no official “counter-offer.”

    The real meat of my question is – What is the best thing to say when declining this other job to have the best chance of maintaining the relationships I have there? I wouldn’t think twice about this, since people decline jobs from network contacts all the time. (The fact that I negotiated so hard with them and verbally accepted is the part that is tricky in this case.)

    1. Lucy*

      I was in a similar situation when a friend referred me to her department at Company A – I was interviewing at tons of places at the time and Company B ended up being on a similar timeline to Company A. I ended up getting offers from both on the same day and was sad to turn down Company A since my friend had referred me. I basically thanked them profusely and was sorry the timing wasn’t right….I think you might singe a bridge since you had verbally accepted but hopefully the hiring manager is able to move past that….

    2. Colette*

      I don’t think there is a way to avoid burning the bridge – you accepted an offer and changed your mind after getting a counter offer (expediting the timing is a counter offer). All you can do is be honest and tell the company you’re turning down immediately – i.e. today.

    3. Treena Kravm*

      Yes, you apologize profusely and are mortified that you have to back-out, but your current company has just offered X and you can’t turn that down. Don’t pretend even in your head that you didn’t really accept because it was just verbal. It’ll come through in your word choice. You also should probably be prepared for that burned bridge.

    4. fposte*

      As others imply, this isn’t declining an offer; it’s changing your mind after accepting. As long as you’re willing to accept the dent it leaves, it’s doable, but it’ll hurt you more if you act as if you’re merely declining rather than backing out on an agreement.

    5. Wolfey*

      If I wanted to have a chance with them later I’d apologize profusely, talk about how excited I was for this opportunity, and say that my circumstances have changed and I won’t be able to make a professional move right now. Hopefully your tone and attitude will soften any negative reaction after the successful negotiations. If your new company isn’t giving you an explicit counteroffer then it’s unlikely that will get back to them even if the industry is gossipy.

      1. Sunflower*

        Yeah I like this wording. The whole situation can come off a bit like you were using this company to get your current one to give you a raise and that’s not what happened. Framing it like something suddenly occurred would maybe give you a little leeway.

        Also tell them immediately!

    6. Cee*

      I would think *hard* about staying at your current company when you have an offer in hand at a new company. Not only would you burn the bridge at the new company, but you only have verbal promises that things at your current job will change if you stay. Do you really think all the reasons that made you job search in the first place are magically going to go away?

      1. Wolfey*

        I agree with this 100%. I’d only use the advice above if I were absolutely sure I was getting what I wanted in writing.

  30. AshleyH*

    I had an awesome week at work – I hired five incredibly talented people who are all starting within the next couple of weeks, and I’m really excited for them. Two of the new employees were unemployed due to their previous employer closing and two others were in jobs that were dead-ends with no real opportunity. Giving good people good jobs is what makes my job worth it.

    1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*


      Can I tell you mine?

      So, we just brought on two temporary workers in our sample dept. What generally happens with these positions is that we churn through about 5 temps for every one we decide to hire (after 3 months). They either aren’t good enough or aren’t responsible enough (like, to show up to work every day) and it’s a pain in the ass for us. It’s usually a bunch of younger folks and we just have to weed through who is serious enough about actually working by real time trial. The people we do hire are then on advancement track for ultimately, anywhere they want to go in the company.

      Anyway, I get reports back on the first one, she’s doing very well. I’m like damn, well that was lucky. We brought the second one on two weeks ago and reports back, she’s doing very well. Now I’m like DAMN, I gotta go talk to these women.

      I spent about 1/2 a hour talking to them and I nearly cried on my ride home from work with my husband telling him the story. These women had worked doing fulfillment for a local large company (not the River, but under conditions like the River) for many many years. They had gotten laid off and been without any work at all for many months. They are so happy to be working, and then to be working with us and then to be working with no “point system” (the stories they told me about getting “points” from needing to leave to pick up a sick child, and the fear that they were living with while working there)…..

      Seriously and for shit. This is why I do capitalism. I wanted to say “welcome home”, ya know?

        1. Windchime*

          This is a wonderful story. I’m so glad that it’s working out for everyone! And as someone who was rescued from a Bad Place several years ago, I continue to be exceedingly grateful to my current employer for bringing me on board. And I know your new employees must be feeling the same way towards you and your company. :)

        2. QualityControlFreak*

          Awesomeness. Thanks for being who you are, Wakeen. Srsly. I misted up myself.

          1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

            God, it’s really nothing. I mean, we’re just doing our job selling teapots. We’re not some great humanist venture, we sell teapots. I’m just so lucky that in the course of doing that, I also get to improve somebody’s quality of life by creating some decent jobs along the way.

  31. Anon for this*

    The last two weeks I posted about my long journey finding a permanent job and as I mentioned I finally got one! I’m 37 and have only ever held short term contract or part time positions. So I’ve never really gone into any job with a long term mind set. Any advice on getting off on the right foot and settling into the position for the long haul? Any tips for success? Or just general tips on starting a new job?

    1. Judy*

      I always keep 2 work notebooks. One is a “permanent” one, that is where I put process information, how to log in to the different systems, how to file expense reports, how to log time, etc. I keep a first page blank, so I can index it. The second one is my daily notebook with project notes, things I need for the current work, deadlines, action items.

      Take more notes in the first notebook than you think you will need, especially for things you only do every so often.

    2. OriginalEmma*

      Outlook can be your biggest ally or your biggest obstacle!

      Organizally, you can create folders and subfolders (something like 2015>Employee Onboarding>Trainings>[e-mails related to trainings]).

      You can create rules that sort your e-mail so that you don’t have to, putting them into particular folders (e.g., weekly schedules into the Weekly Schedule folder), archiving e-mails after a set period of time (e.g., 1 month, 3 months, etc.).

      You can create your own color-coded categories (e.g., red for Sick Leave, green for Vacation, pink for Trainings, etc.) and you can use flags to remind yourself of tasks (e.g, someone e-mails you something that you need to respond to, but it requires follow-up – you can flag it then categorize it with your “Needs Preparation” and “Needs Follow-up” categories).

      1. Judy*

        Set up calendar notifications.

        If you have weekly tasks like a report, set up a 15 minute meeting that afternoon, so the calendar will remind you. When I take a vacation day, I clear my calendar, so it’s also a way to remind me to move it to Thursday, for instance.

    3. WorkingAsDesigned*

      Congratulations on your new job!

      Before starting my current job, I’d spent 10+ years doing temp work and short-term contracts, as well.

      What worked for me in approaching my permanent job was to just take it day by day, fulfilling the requirements of my position (and more where I could). After awhile, I realized that I’d been here for a long time! (8 years this July for me . . . :-) )

  32. Allison*

    So some good news, my manager is extending my contract through June! Yay for a little more job security!

    However, by the end of June (assuming I am, in fact, still here) I will have been here for over a year. I’m also taking on new responsibilities, and I’m doing more in my role since I did when I got here. Ideally, I’d like to eventually be hired on as an employee, because not having holiday pay and vacation days like most people in my office kinda stinks. If not, I’d at least like a slight raise to reflect my new level of responsibility, and I want to bring these up before my next contract extension, assuming they still want me beyond Q2. But 1) I haven’t talked about the possibility of employment with this new manager, my old manager knew I was interested but he stopped being my manager two months ago; 2) I’ve never proposed a pay increase. Basically, I have no idea how to approach either subject. Any advice?

    1. Dang*

      1) Set up a meeting and tell him that you’ve talked with your old manager, but wanted to make sure you’re on the same page about your interest. Reiterate that it’s been a year and ask what his thoughts are about timeline and process.
      2) During the same conversation. I’d ask if in the meantime while you’re still a contractor, would it be possible to revisit your salary, as you’d hadn’t anticipated staying as a contractor for the length of time you’ve been there.

  33. Abominable Snowbeast*

    This is a bit of a rant – and I apologize to all of the good HR people out there in advance.

    Why does HR put processes in place if they aren’t going to follow them? On our internal jobs site, I found a posting that I was interested in. As per the process that is prominently posted on the same site, I reached out to the recruiter handling it. Crickets. Two weeks later, I reached out to her again. Again crickets.
    Note: this isn’t the kind of posting that 9 out of 10 people would be interested in; frankly, I might be the only person at our 2000+ company who is both interested and qualified for it.
    So I reached out to the team involved, found out who the hiring manager was, and asked for an informal chat about the role. At which point, after 5 weeks of silence, HR responded and blew a gasket at both me and the hiring manager for not following the process.
    This doesn’t give me a lot of confidence in how they’ll handle any future hires on my team, that’s for sure. Apologies to all good HR people out there – I know you must be working hard, just somewhere other than at my company!

    1. Allison*

      5 weeks of silence can certainly be frustrating! You’d think they would have at least replied to your followup.

      I do wonder if maybe . . .

      . . . the role wasn’t a high priority req, so the recruiter was neglecting it in favor of more urgent roles
      . . . the recruiter didn’t think you were a fit, but was afraid you’d push back if they told you
      . . . the role is on hold, or they already have candidates in process, or for some other reason they’re not responding to new applicants right now, and aren’t telling anyone for fear of appearing disorganized.
      . . . the recruiter had a question about your candidacy, asked the hiring manager or another HR person about it, and was waiting to hear back. Hiring managers in particular can be frustrating, they say they want candidates coming in for interviews, but when asked about this or that candidate they suddenly vanish and take forever to respond.

      Did you by any chance bring this issue to the recruiter’s manager, or some higher-up in HR? Surely they’d want to know about something like this, and they may be able to provide some clarity as to why it happened.

      1. Abominable Snowbeast*

        Unfortunately, the head of HR is aware of the issues that people (this has been my first experience, but I’ve heard of many others, including on much more sensitive subjects) have with HR not responding to employees, and nothing has changed. At least, nothing that I’m aware of – I’ve appreciated learning from AAM that coworkers aren’t supposed to know if there are PIPs and the like in place.

        Fortunately, my manager was already aware that I was interested in the role (and is supportive), and the hiring manager encouraged me to apply – and they’re both rolling their eyes at HR – so it looks like it’s settled out okay. But still, as some who really likes processes…this has been painful on multiple levels.

  34. Amethyst*

    I haven’t been working very long (I only graduated two years ago) and have been offered my first chance to negotiate for a raise. Basically my boss asked what I’m interested in financially. It surprised me as I work at a house of worship and was not expecting to be offered a raise, as the ‘business’ doesn’t exactly make a lot of money. It was in a casual conversation (“your review is coming up, btw”) so I have some time to prepare. I researched the salary of admin assistants in my area, and the average is slightly higher than mine, so I’d like to ask for a little bit more… But how do I present it?

    I know from here to back it up with examples of good work I’ve done in the past year, I’m just not sure whether to name a number or suggest a percentage. Specifically I don’t how to phrase it. Money wasn’t discussed in my house growing up and my parents did not do office jobs so I feel a little out of my depth. If anyone has stories of the first time they had to talk about a raise at work, I would appreciate the advice.

    Thank you in advance. I shortly have to go out and won’t have internet, but I will check back on a computer and respond to anyone as soon as I can.

    1. Dawn*

      Oh man I had to do this last year for the first time ever and it does seem pretty scary! Basically, try to be really objective when you look at your skills and what you bring to the table, then compare what you do to what others in similar positions do and compare your salary to theirs.

      What I did when I negotiated was come in with a number and then explain how I got to that number based on market rate of comparable jobs and past success at the company, including talking about praise I had received from people other than my boss on specific projects I’d worked on. I was very objective, and very factual in what I asked for- everything I said was based on facts or hard numbers, so I knew that everything I said was correct and not just pulled out of thin air.

      Good luck!

      1. Amethsyt*

        Thank you! I had not thought about including specific praise from other people about projects, but I do have some of that saved because it’s nice to have to look at when other things are stressful at work. I will concentrate on looking at everything, and presenting everything, from a factual angle.

        Thank you again!

  35. Cruciatus*

    Just need to vent…due to someone else’s mistake at another branch of the college where I work, our employer is now taking away our USB ports. It doesn’t even relate to the original problem (which was an accidental breach of student confidentiality over email or some sort of online system–we don’t even really know for sure because they won’t tell us!). While that is terrible, I’m not sure why it’s an institutional problem (has only happened that one time) or why instead of punishing the few involved, they are punishing the many. Gah! What are faculty and staff supposed to do without USB ports/drives? Get me outta here!

    1. Bekx*

      So uh, how are you supposed to connect peripherals like mice and keyboards? Assuming you’re using desktops…

      1. Cruciatus*

        That did come up in the meeting and IT, who is just the messenger, seemed to think those “would be handled” but didn’t get into it. I think this was all done quickly by lawyers at the school who failed to think things through, it was approved by the provost, and now IT is left to implement it without any good explanations for anything.

      2. Anastasia Beaverhausen*

        I don’t know how it works at Cruciatus’ place of work, but my computer has the usb ports set up to accept a mouse or a key board but not a USB stick or external drive.

        1. The IT Manager*

          Yes! That’s a very common security measure to prevent virus and stolen/lost data. Thumb drives and other hard drives don’t work, but other devices (like keyboards, mice, headsets) will.

        2. Judy*

          I’ve worked at a place a number of years ago, that to transfer files onto external drives or USB there was a popup, and a manager had to sign in to allow the transfer.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            Ours requires you to use BitLocker on any drive you stick into the computer. Which means I have to log into my own flash drive at home (the only work stuff on it is copies of my pay stubs). But that’s okay–if I lose it, no one else can get into it either. :)

        3. Michele*

          Same here. Plus, if you try to use a thumb drive or any other unacceptable advise, it alerts IT and they send a nastygram to your boss.

      3. Observer*

        Most desktop actually have PS/2 ports, and it’s not hard to get mice / keyboards with such connectors, or adapters. Besides, it’s also possible to block certain types of peripherals, so they might just block everything but keyboards and mice.

      4. Dmented Kitty*

        You can configure a USB port to “power-only”. That setting is there for peripherals like mouse and keyboards. You can shut off the “read/write” function while keeping the “power” setting intact. I have my mouse/keyboards on USB, and whenever I plug in my phone (for charging) it just charges but I can’t access anything from it. Same with my USB stick drive. I can open stuff in it but I cannot write any files in it.

    2. Mimmy*

      Don’tcha hate when one person/a few people ruin it for everyone else? My husband’s employer did something similar–they took away a capability related to conference calls because it was abused. I think Alison has talked in the past here about how it’s not effective to just change a policy company-wide rather than dealing with the abusers directly. It’s a strategy used in many areas, and I’ve never liked it.

      /end rant

      1. Dynamic Beige*

        “Don’tcha hate when one person/a few people ruin it for everyone else?”

        Yes. One arsewipe decides to fill his shoes with stuff and try to make a plane go boom… and now we all have to take our shoes off at security. Even if you’re wearing flip flops or huarache sandals.

      2. Jaune Desprez*

        I once worked in a hospital where white-out was entirely banned because some clueless person had used it to correct a medical record.

        The ban stayed in effect for years and years after the hospital moved to an entirely electronic medical record system.

    3. Amethyst*

      How are they even doing this? My keyboard and desktop both have USB ports built in. Are they going to put plugs in them? Physically remove them from the computers?

      This is a very weird thing for them to do. I hope they backtrack. Or at least get you a really nice wireless mouse and keyboard :P

      1. Hillary*

        They can be turned off via the BIOS (which is the software running the motherboard). Superglue is also a common solution.

        This is fairly standard for a couple reasons. Lost/stolen data is one reason. A tactic for targeted hacking or industrial espionage is also to leave infected USB sticks around the parking lot. More likely than not someone will pick it up and put it in their computer to see who it belongs to.

        1. Amethyst*

          That’s fascinating. Thank you for the info! Industrial espionage is so far out of my industry but it’s interesting to learn about XD

    4. cuppa*

      Something similar happened to me a number of years back. A year later, those changes were gradually undone because it made the IT department’s lives miserable.

    5. Observer*

      It’s quite possible that the situation that happened caused someone to give a good hard look at information security and this change was decided on, not as a punishment but in response to a realization that the organization is over-exposed.

      The fact that you assume the need for usb drives actually supports that idea. Why would usb drives be a routine necessity for most staff? If it’s because people are generally taking information home or using these drives to exchange data with people outside of the organization, they have a major problem on their hands.

      I agree that talking to people should be the first, not last (or non-existent) item on the list. And, not talking about the catalyst for the changes doesn’t sound too smart either.

      1. Cruciatus*

        Unfortunately, this isn’t the first wacky thing my employer has done. This is par for the course. And regarding drives, faculty often work on their lectures at home and save it to a USB drive so they can work on it here at work. They aren’t taking anything having to do with student information (not saying it’s never happened, but this is what my boss is most upset about–working on his lectures). Our email size limits are miniscule and maybe they’ll increase that, but otherwise this is going to be a big hassle for a lot of people. I put visuals (non-student information) on flash drives for others to use in the use of facilitating at another building. We’ll see.

        1. Observer*

          I understand the problem, but there are a lot of ways to get around it. One is file size limits on email. Another is setting up external file access. This can be done in a number of ways that don’t have to cost a mint.

      2. Beancounter in Texas*

        Yeah, this. It probably brought to light an existing hole in security they’ve decided to plug.

  36. A Nonnus Mousus*

    Long time reader, first time ever posting here!

    A bit of an odd question for the AAM hive mind… I am a woman currently employed in a non-customer facing tech role at a software company. This has come up several times in the last few years at different places. My style of dressing is a bit on the unique and stylishly-eccentric side (think Little Edie Beale meets Mad Men). It’s never ever work-inappropriate and if anything I am typically one of the more dressed-up people in the office (high heels, old-fashioned suits, scarves, gloves etc). I’ve been fortunate enough to work in companies whose office culture has allowed me to express myself in this way.

    What I’ve discovered, though, is that my eccentric way of dressing tends to open me up to obnoxious comments from my colleagues – specifically my male colleagues (not to generalize, but this hasn’t ever happened with any of my female coworkers). The comments aren’t sexual in nature and are often of the “I’m making fun of what you are wearing” variety. I’m never quite sure what to say in these sorts of situations. While the comments can’t be put into the box of “sexual harassment”, they do make me feel uncomfortable and awkward. I’ve typically shrugged them off or made a witty retort, but it does bother me. I don’t want to keep encouraging this sort of thing and am not willing to compromise my personal style to make that happen. I haven’t want to make a mountain out of a molehill, but now I’m starting to wonder if I’m actually making the mountain INTO a molehill.


    1. Allison*

      Are you my twin? I work on a recruiting team at a software company, and I too love dressing up in retro (but still work-appropriate) outfits. Big time ModCloth addict here, and I definitely have some Mad Men-inspired pieces in my wardrobe.

      No one at work has given me a hard time for what I wear, although my former manager loved that I dressed up. What I do experience is white, middle aged engineers giving me and other female colleagues a hard time about other stuff, like what we eat, or when we eat, or what’s currently on our laptop screens (“that doesn’t look like work! Aaaahahahaha I’m just givin’ ya a hard time!”). They probably think they’re an absolute riot. I don’t know if they do it to everyone or just people they view as being beneath them, like women, or younger people, or non-engineers.

      I did bring it up when it crossed a line. Some guy saw me on Reddit (I think I was posting a job, but I can’t remember) and told me was watching me. Later my phone went all wonky and started playing loud music, and he said “I hope you’re not using company resources on that thing!” My manager told me he just has a weird sense of humor, but since it was bothering me he talked to the guy about it. He stopped.

      So the moral of that story is that it’s a good idea to bring it up with your manager. Don’t frame is as a harassment complaint, but just mention that people are being obnoxious. Any good manager will either do something, or give decent advice on how to handle it.

      1. Elder Dog*

        Yeah. They’re trying to get your attention. It’s pretty common for men to demand female attention.

        They’re hitting on you but leaving themselves plausible deniability in case you realize that’s what they’re doing and don’t like it, or their wives or bosses notice. As in “aw, they’re just trying to be friendly and funning with you. No need to be such a stick about it.”

        No, they don’t do it to everyone. Mostly to younger women they’re attracted to, just in case the interest might possibly be mutual, you know? And sometimes to younger and less senior men, because all the world’s a frat house and if you want to be a brother you gotta get hazed.

        Don’t go anywhere alone with any of them, and if you have to go into their offices, leave the door open.

    2. skyline*

      I think you have to be more direct about your reaction to their comments–making witty remarks isn’t going to deter people who don’t have a clue. Maybe something like: “I’m sure you’re just joking, but it makes me very uncomfortable when you make comments about my personal appearance. I’d appreciate it if you wouldn’t make them in the future.” Repeat as needed, and get more direct if you have to tell the same person more than once.

      I think it’s important to speak to the people making the remarks before escalating to a manager.

      (From your comment, it sounds like this type of clothing works in your office culture. I will say, as a data point, that not all of it would be okay in my office culture. If I had a report who dressed in the way you’d describe, I’d probably suggest no gloves, since that’s still a outlier even amongst our more stylist and quirky dressers.)

    3. Colette*

      Some suggestions:
      – pretend you didn’t hear or understand – I.e. “What did you say?” “What do you mean?”
      – call them out on it – I.e. “Wow”, “please don’t comment on my clothes”

      The key is not to laugh or smile – this is not a joke.

      1. AnotherTeacher*

        Asking for clarification is a good tactic to make the insulter examine his biases. I also employ the silent, blank stare. Or, if I’m feeling up to it, a chirpy, “Thanks!” = “I don’t care what you think, and your negative evaluation probably means I’m doing something right because you have no taste.” “Thanks!” also works for passive-aggressive comments.

    4. AnonAcademic*

      I am also a dressy vintage lover in a field that is male dominated. When I worked in New England I got far more unfavorable comments from coworkers than working in the NYC area. In NE I was told “wow, it must take a while to get your hair to look like that” by the asst. director of a research center. The lab manager also wasn’t a fan of my colorful, printed outfits. One time I wore a knee length skirt with knee high boots. The skirt kept riding up a few inches over my knees (not inappropriate in length), revealing bright purple tights underneath. The next day I got called in for a dress code talk, even though the manager admitted how I dressed 99% of the time (including theoutfit I was wearing at the time!) was fine. I swear she was just capitalizing on a “gotcha” moment based on a minor wardrobe malfunction.

      Can you tell this issue gets under my skin?

      Anyhow, I wish I had better advice, but what worked for me was to look for work environments that value creativity. In my current lab, I get compliments from coworkers all the time and even my bosses a few times based on my outfits. When I interviewed for the job I’m starting this summer I wore a acid green cardigan with a geometric printed dress – definitely on the loud side of professional – because I felt the most confident and comfortable in it.

      My long game is to rise high enough in my field that I can convince people I’m an “eccentric genius” (or at least “eccentric highly successful person”) instead of just “eccentric” :).

    5. Mints*

      It depends on the specific comments or the way they’re worded, but I think a lot of “What do you mean?” would work here, and “I don’t get it. Are you saying my dress is …?” The same tactic when people make other offensive jokes

  37. Elkay*

    I left a job a few years back because of the negative effect it was having on my mental health. I was told this week that my old boss has made noises about seeing if I want to come back to work on a new task force they’re putting together. The funny thing is that everyone I worked with (bar management it would seem) knew exactly what my reaction would be (it involved an involuntary noise, followed by “Erm, no, I really like the job I’ve only just started”).

    This very much falls into the category of fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me. I was “headhunted” the last time I worked there, was told that I had to be on a contract for a few months first but the job was mine, then I had to apply and interview for it, being young and foolish I didn’t realise that this was An Interview, not just bureaucratic hoops. Rather than fighting for me my manager told me HR weren’t keen on me and I had to interview again. Same manager then promised me a promotion when I told them that I was planning on leaving (as I didn’t have anything to go to I gave them nearly a year’s notice) which never materialised.

    I never spoke up to about what the job was doing to my health, which was a mistake looking back, but there’s no way I’d go back to a manager that treated me that way. If they contact me I might meet them for the sake of networking but unless they bring some wild horses along I will not be going back.

  38. ism*

    I’m the one who took a job offer and didn’t negotiate because I didn’t think I had an opening or any bargaining power. Now, in one of our “mentory” conversations about unrelated stuff, my boss let it slip that “one of our main focuses is cutting the cost of labor.” I know how much they pay a typical temp, and I know that’s why we primarily use temp labor in the manufacturing/shipping areas of my workplace. It was a surprise to hear her say it, though, when we weren’t even talking about anyone’s pay.

    I’ve been reading AAM for a couple months now, preparing thoughts and a script for when the time comes around to ask for a raise. Now I feel like all the reinforcement that my company is cheap about pay rates is a sign that I’m not going to get much if I were to ask. And I’m seeing that it’s a trend in this particular industry – I saw an infographic somewhere recently that my industry is THE WORST about wage stagnation over the last 10 years compared to other industries. What do you all think? There aren’t many opportunities in my location. This is a good job, with mostly good people, and my relationship with my manager is developing nicely. It just pays shit, and some of the more unskilled-labor roles are telling me they have never, ever seen a raise in the 10 years they’ve worked here. I wish I knew more about the management and engineers and other skilled roles and how their pay has changed in comparison.

    1. Apollo Warbucks*

      I just did a search on this site for ask for a raise and there are a lot of articles that will help

      I was going to post a link or two but there are to many

      1. ism*

        I’ve read them all. I’m just concerned that the things I’m learning mean that when my time comes, it won’t bode well.

          1. fposte*

            A million ones of agreement. You can’t research your way into knowing what will happen when you ask.

            1. ism*

              Good point, all. I will make my case when the time comes. Part of me typing up stuff here is venting/thinking out loud, in a way. I worry a lot and I tend to try to research un-researchable things like “does he love me?” or ask advice that I know can never satisfy my own anxieties :/

        1. Elder Dog*

          That’s what they want you to think, so you’ll aim low, or not ask at all.

          Figure out how much you think you should ask for, then ask for half again that much. If you’re a woman, ask for twice that much. Let them negotiate you down instead of you trying to negotiate up.

    2. Amethyst*

      That sounds frustrating. I don’t have advice but I hope it works out in your favor. What if you also bring up cost of living concerns in the discussion? And maybe your boss was mostly thinking about the unskilled side of things. Perhaps they’re trying to eliminate some of the temps? Fingers crossed for you.

      1. ism*

        It seems that using one’s own expenses as a basis for asking for a raise might work, but isn’t wise or professional to do. Besides, it’s super cheap out here so that’s why they get away with paying so little. My employment classification is no different than the other ‘unskilled’ employees who started as temps. I’m held to the same hours, rules, and benefits as they are, but I do get paid a tiny bit more because I am in a specially created role. (They have’t hired anyone new for office work in 20 years until now.) I still had to go through the temp agency for 8 months.

        And they’re always eliminating temps. They view temps as disposable labor, unfortunately that’s pretty common. I do think I have a good case for asking for a raise after my current projects are completed successfully this summer, and might get one, but I worry it’s unlikely they’d offer me as much as I’d get at a less corner-cutty business.

  39. LizB*

    I’m having some trouble right now figuring out what I want my next step to be in my career. I’m in a time-limited position right now, so will need to find something new by August. I’ve gained a lot of great experience at this job, and feel like I’d be capable of doing several different possible jobs and excelling at any of them. These possible jobs would be lots of work for not much money just because of the field I’m in (youth development/youth work), but they might lead to better jobs down the line.

    The problem is, I’m also feeling pretty burnt out. I feel like I have zero time for any of my hobbies, or even to really take care of myself the way I should be. I desperately need a better work-life balance, and I’m not sure anything in the youth work field is going to give me that. I’m honestly feeling like I want to take a step back, find a position that just pays the bills and isn’t too boring, and spend some time with a work-to-live attitude, rather than a live-to-work attitude — but I’m worried that this will derail all of my career progress. If I take an easier job or a not-quite-related-to-my-field job, I’m worried I’ll be setting myself up to never be able to get back into the field, or trashing the two years of really hard work I’ve put in at my current job.

    Does anyone have any experience with this kind of decision? Is it worth it to go for a more intense/ambitious position at the risk of burning myself out? Can I go for something less ambitious without ruining all the progress I’ve made at this job? Any advice would be appreciated.

    1. Dawn*

      It can take YEARS to come back from a full burn out- sometimes five or more. Burning out completely will wreck you physically and emotionally and derail all of the progress you’ve made a lot harder and more thoroughly than anything else.

      You can definitely make great career progress with a work-to-live mentality, it just won’t be a crazy coke and booze fueled rocket ride to the CEO’s yacht where you proceed to drink too much, fall overboard, and drown while no one notices because they’re too busy partying.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      If you are already burned out then going into a more intense position will not help.
      I am not sure what you mean by less ambitious- Perhaps you mean something that is not direct care? That could work into something for you. I am thinking of picking an office position, entry level, learning those skills and then moving on later.

      Are you sure you want to stay in this field?
      Maybe you need to change career paths to something less draining. You have not trashed your two years of hard work if you do this. Working hard never hurts you. It only teaches you. You learned lots here, and it is yours to keep. I know first hand you will refer back to what you learned as you go along. In my case, it taught me that I needed something more than work-sleep, work-sleep. Since you are talking about work/life balance maybe this applies to you? Maybe it is time to look for something where you are not falling down tired when you come home.

  40. Chrissi*

    I had posted a few weeks ago about submitting a resume for a federal job and how nervous I was about it ( – sorry, don’t know how to hyperlink) . The responses were very helpful – thanks ACA, GOG11, Brett, and Katie the Fed!

    Well now I have a job interview for that job on Monday! This is my first non-internal interview in 12 years. I feel like I should be freaked out, but I’m not…that much. I know how I’m going to prepare this weekend, and I feel like I’m either going to have the qualifications and be what they want or I’m not. It was a really vague job description and a position that was created, not a vacancy, so it’s just going to depend on what they want. I imagine I’ll be shaking in my boots come Monday morning though :) Wish me luck!

    1. Christy*

      I’m sorry, are you me? Like are you sure we aren’t in a time/space warp? I am a fed who’s been in her job for her whole career and it feels like I’m hyper-specialized and I’ve also become the SharePoint expert and it’s likely I’m going to get a job in another office because of those SP skills even though they aren’t my only focus in my current office. I literally could be writing that exact post in a few weeks. I actually looked at it and got confused that I had actually written it myself. Crazy how coincidences happen. And crazy how SharePoint is the key to job movement for some of us.

      So good luck! I know how it feels, trust me. I’m so impressed by how quickly the hiring process is going for you. Let us know next week how it went!

      1. Chrissi*

        Whoa. That’s creepy almost. Seriously, your description is identical to mine. Identical. Hopefully we’re not vying for the same position! (but if we are – good luck! ). I feel like the federal government has just really bought into the whole SharePoint thing. I know in our agency, the order came from the top for all the divisions to start using it, and using it a lot. Maybe the order came from higher than just our agency?

    2. Katie the Fed*

      YAY so happy for you!

      Now, my big piece of advice – answer the question. It seems ridiculous to say it, but a lot of people forget to answer every element of the question. Take notes if you need to – but answer the question. Good luck!

  41. Nervous Accountant*

    Things have calmed down considerably even though a major deadline is coming up.

    I guess this is a long term issue and I probably will need to seek help one day. How do I get over being perpetually seasonal? As silly as it sounds, it literally hurts inside when I hear or see my coworkers talking about benefits.

    I wanted to be full time/permanent….. but again,..I was caught in the cycle of desperation that I’ve just never been able to get out of since I began working. My boss said she couldn’t justify hiring me permanently bc I had been one of the lowest performers last year but depending on how this year goes, if I do well, let’s see. (Of course no promises or guarantees but good faith? I accepted because I really wanted to work here and tbh I didn’t want to hold out for something else).

    Throughout the months I’ve gotten a lot of guidance from my boss and direct managers on improving things (it’s worked), good feedback, even acknowledgement directly from the execs….I met with the new CEO this week even though I didn’t think I would (bc why would a CEO waste time talking to a seasonal person??)

    Yet I still feel hurt. It seems silly….everyone tells me not to worry or stress or freak out but I don’t expect them to get it so I try to hide it.

    1. fposte*

      “I probably will need to seek help one day.” Why not make that day a sooner day, like today? Why wait to feel better about your life and achievements?

      I understand that there are some situational reasons for uneasiness, but even your username suggests that a lot of your distress is internal. I think if you could deal with some of the underlying stress it might help with your performance, too.

    2. AT*

      Ohhh, I feel you on this one… I’ve been part-time for nearly a year now. When I started, I was told that I’d get more hours and more shifts when I’d built up more experience in teapot handles, but none of the shifts they’ve given me are /in/ teapot handles, it’s all in teapot /spouts/, so where am I supposed to /get/ that experience?! Literally the only way I can learn to make a teapot handle in this industry is by /doing/ it on the job! Instead, they’ve been hiring a temp with four years experience in teapot handles to fill in those shifts I was supposed to get, while I’m still doing the spouts. I’m assuming it’s because it’s quicker and easier than training me up, but it’s still frustrating and rather disheartening. And like you, no promises, just good faith. So yeah, I feel you on this.

    3. GOG11*

      I used to work part time and it’s not at all silly to feel left out when, well, you are being left out of something important. It’s nothing personal, but it still stings, and it’s okay to feel hurt.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Totally agree. Set a time frame. If you are doing everything they ask, figure out a reasonable time frame for going FT/perm. If they do not move you over to that, then start looking around.

        Sometimes when we want something too much, people sense that and they string us along. Getting your heart set on a particular job/company sets you up for this crap. (It’s no way to treat a human being, but they never ask my advice on this stuff.)

        My advice: Learn everything you can. Devour all the learning experiences in sight. Make them your own. Tell yourself there are lots of fish in the sea. You need to do this, because it will help you remain calmer. Right now your self-talk consists of convincing yourself that you must HAVE this particular company to work for. And that is simply not true.

        The only thing I have found that goes up against large hurts, which it sounds like you have a large hurt, is to seriously-majorly-big time invest in YOU. Now that means different things to different people. But I think you know what it means to you. Get there. Make that investment in you happen. Be open to all kinds of ideas as to what you may need to do, also. Perhaps you are eyeing a certain course online. Or maybe you reeeally want to have a morning walk before work. See, the investment can be anything. Pour good stuff into you. See what happens next.

    4. Stephanie*

      No, it’s not silly. I work at a place where even the close-to minimum-wage part-time folks get free health insurance. Since I’m a contractor, I get nada. I’ve even had a couple of employees surprised that I was a contractor (including one who was like “Damn. They kind of screwed you over.”) I get frustrated like “Yeah, I have more oversight and responsibility and get paid a bit more, but I almost would have been better off being an $8.50/hr teapot assembler and gotten some benefits.” I get where you’re coming from.

  42. Tiffany*

    I connected with someone on LinkedIn who works at a organization I very much want to work for. After a referral from a mutual contact, she asked me to send my resume and cover letter to their HR Director (she’s a VP in the resource development dept), to use her name and that the HR Director was expecting it. That was 3 weeks ago. 2 weeks later (1 week ago), I sent a follow-up on LinkedIn to my contact, saying something along the lines of ‘I wanted to let you know I did submit my resume and cover letter about 2 weeks ago. I am still very much interested in speaking with you and your organization……’ It’s been another week and I still haven’t heard anything. Am I not being patient enough? There’s not be a specific job discussed at any point, but I know for a fact that my experience makes me a good candidate for them. It’s one of the largest nonprofits in the U.S., so I’m sure they are super busy. 3 weeks without anyone getting in touch with me seems like a lot though.

    1. fposte*

      Not for what’s close to a cold call, though. This is a really low priority on their end. I might do a followup to the HR director in another week, when it’s been a month, and then I’d let it go and consider it delightful surprise if they came back to me later.

    2. OriginalEmma*

      Was your contact only through LinkedIn? It honestly could be months between when I personally check LI, so she might just not check LinkedIn much.

      1. Tiffany*

        Yes. I intern for the same nonprofit in a different city, and knowing I’m relocating and very much want to work for that nonprofit, I looked on LinkedIn to see if I had any connections with someone at the org. Through my internship, I’ve worked with the ED of a different NP and she was connected with this lady in my new city. She introduced us and wrote me a really nice referral and I was able to get connected. She sent me a message saying we’d like to speak with you formally, please send your resume and cover letter to our HR director….we’d like to speak with you formally. I did that via email, and then last week sent the follow-up to my contact on LinkedIn.

        I’m trying to be patient, but I’ve literally spent the last 18 months essentially customizing my resume, knowing this is where I want to work. Myself, my supervisor, and my CEO have all been strategic with the projects I’ve been assigned and worked on, knowing this was the goal. If it was any other organization, I’d submit my resume and all, then move on. I’m finding it a little bit harder to do that in this case.

        1. fposte*

          Yeah, it’s hard when it feels so close. But as you know, your urgency isn’t relevant to their timeline or level of interest, and you really don’t want to sound like you think it is. Time to find something really addictive to distract your brain for a while.

  43. Ops Analyst*

    In a post earlier this week someone commented about seeing a letter writer post in another forum. What other forums are there like AAM? Would love to find some additional resources.

    1. GOG11*

      I’ve been working on finding Admin related resources. They are like AAM in that they provide practical advice and answer reader questions, but they are specific to Admin work. Could you give a little more information about what you’re looking for?

      1. Ops Analyst*

        Just general work advice. Admin stuff can be helpful with organizational techniques, prioritizing, dealing with coworkers, etc. Even though AAM is not specific to a field I find a lot of the advice here valuable. It’s also entertaining and a good read. I generally like to participate in communities as well. Nothing in particular. I’d just like to know what’s out there I guess.

        1. GOG11*

          Lately I’ve been reading/following
          – Adulting – provides step-by-step instructions, advice and tips for doing things all the other adults in my life just seem to magically know (recommended to me by AAM commenters!)

          – Musings of a High Level Executive Assistant – answers reader questions, provides processes and tips for Administrative tasks (and a few office hacks, too)

          – Administrative Sparkle (sigh…don’t judge!) – book reviews, tips, processes and etiquette for Admin-related duties (this is the one I’ve read least so far, but it seems good)

  44. Anon4this*

    Just got notification that the union treasurer had his laptop stolen from his car a week ago.

    In that laptop, every member’s name, address, and SSN (needed for the union-based insurance). Still can’t get an answer as to whether the drive was encrypted, or even if the laptop was password protected for logon.

    Guess I’ll be calling the credit reporting agencies today. Union management is debating whether they should pay for credit monitoring for everyone.


    1. Anon Accountant*

      Wow! They should consider credit monitoring for all especially with that type of info out there.

      1. Anony-moose*

        Um, yeah, they should be paying for credit monitoring. For everyone. I’m so sorry! It feels like getting personal data stolen is inevitable these days.

        Good luck!

    2. Nanc*

      Aaaaaannnnnnnddddd this all potentially ID theft target type info should be stored in a secure cloud and not saved on a laptop. There is cheap, safe and secure cloud storage out there! At the very least the Union should offer some $$$ to folks who want to pay to put a freeze on their credit info. Get a copy of the police report for your records. The Federal Trade Commission Consumer Info site has good information:

      I’d say assume it’s going to happen and be proactive (ask me how I know!). Good luck and here’s hoping your union creates some protocols around information security.

    3. Malissa*

      Creditkarma–Totally free site that you can use to keep tabs on your credit report. I’ve used it for 2 or 3 years now and I love it.

    4. Anon4this*

      Laptop drive not encrypted, only the Windoze logon password. :-/

      And they say the monitoring for everyone will be too expensive (~$50k).

      Initial fraud report filed with all three (though theoretically, only one is necessary), all three reporting agency reports downloaded and checked.

      This info should NOT have been on a laptop, period; especially unencrypted. If this costs me ONE FRELLING DOLLAR, I’m going nuclear on someone, starting with the treasurer. I don’t give a rip that he “feels so bad and has been working night and day to address this” (direct quote from the email). To say I’m royally p’d off right now would be the understatement of the year.

      1. Observer*

        Credit monitoring is too expensive? Did anyone think about how much a law suit might cost? Assuming that the union wins, it’s still going to be expensive.

      2. TL -*

        I used to work for a hospital that had a laptop with patient data stolen off a bus and their response was nuclear, but good.

        Old+new security measures: Everything got encrypted. Everything got auto-logged out if there was no activity in 15 minutes. Everything was password protected and the passwords had to changed every 3 months. All work had to be done on work-issued computers clear by IT. There was more stuff that I didn’t have to deal with.

        It was sometimes a hassle, but nice to know that the chance of any of our data getting stolen was very, very slim.

      3. some things i do for money some things i do for free*

        Laptop drive not encrypted, only the Windoze logon password. :-/

        I’m sorry, but – there is literally no excuse for this nowadays. Organizations should require employees to use standard client images that have full disk encryption, plus a corporate level AV and anti-malware, plus some minimal audit package to ensure that the proper passwords are set. And the thing is, it’s not like this is state-of-the-art and difficult and expensive nowadays.

        Oh well.

    5. Observer*

      It makes no difference if the computer was password protected – it’s easy to pull out the hard drive and pop it into another machine.

      Of course they should pay for credit monitoring – It’s not only the right thing to do, it’s one of the few things they can do to protect themselves if someone has problems later.

  45. Anon Accountant*

    Well the one boss did it again and stood up another client for a meeting. She waited an hour and a half for him to show and he didn’t. Unfortunately we have a corporate tax deadline of Monday and he should’ve known better than to schedule her for today. He wouldn’t answer his phone and when we reached him he was mad no one else was available. Well we have several staff assigned to a major account meeting with them to wrap up their return and other staff that are out with clients to work on their books and get their returns done.

    The available staff are bookkeepers and prepare payroll and they don’t do tax returns beyond maybe a few a season. The really bad part is he did this to her last year also and has a habit of doing this to others.

    The good part is… I have a job interview with a hospital at 1:00pm and am nervous.

    1. Anony-moose*

      Good luck with your interview! Thinking of a client being stood up (for an HOUR AND A HALF?!) makes my skin crawl. !!!

    2. Anon Accountant*

      So I asked 2 of the questions from the archives “having seen the impact it can have on the rest of the team when someone isn’t meeting expectations, can you tell me a bit about how you approach it when someone is falling short of that bar” and they seemed dumbfounded. I asked the magic interview question of “what differentiated those that were good and those that were great” and they had no answers.

      They’ve had tenure of 30+ years in their small department but said the payroll clerk “moves in one gear and that’s slow” and she “refuses to use the computer as often as she should so tasks take long time so her manager does those tasks herself”. I understand it may just be her training or what she is comfortable with but I don’t know how to take all that.

      I’m not eager jump into a place again where management won’t hold people accountable for their actions but I’ve worked at a place where the “inmates ran the asylum” and the secretary bullied others and another accountant took off an entire month without approved vacation time off and the boss tolerated all this. As such I’m super wary of little things that make me ask more probing questions when interviewing.

  46. CrazyCatLady*

    Do you ever have periods at work where you just don’t feel as on top of things as usual? I’m going through that right now due to a period of depression, anxiety and stress, and it just makes me feel even worse about myself since so much of my identity revolves around work and being efficient and on top of everything.

    1. AggrAV8ed Tech*

      Oh yes. The past few weeks in particular have really been like that for me; it’s been slowly improving, but it’s still like I’m in a haze at most times.

      1. CrazyCatLady*

        Ugh, me too. I’m so sorry you’re having a hard time! I hope it gets better soon.

    2. Treena Kravm*

      Definitely! I just focus on the one thing I want to work on, and keep it going. Work is usually not a problem for me, because I set my own hours and amount of work I want to do, but my house becomes a disaster when I’m in a funk. Right now, I’m focused on keeping the kitchen/dishes clean. And I’ve been putting one thing away every time I go into the living/dining room, and it makes me so happy to see major improvement over the past week.

      1. CrazyCatLady*

        I’m glad to hear it’s not just me. I try focusing on just one thing but I find I’m so easily side-tracked.

    3. Carrie in Scotland*

      Yes, I do crazycatlady, for the exact same reasons. hugs. hang in there, I hope it gets better for you soon.

    4. EmilyG*

      Yes, and I don’t think it ever means that you’re going to get stuck in that mode (which I’ve sometimes feared). Also, I find that when my boss is less busy, she follows up with me more, which makes me feel less on top of things, but it’s totally a function of her work rhythm and not mine. Hang in there and I hope you feel better about work and stress soon!

      1. CrazyCatLady*

        Yes, that’s my biggest fear! Instead of attributing it to depression/anxiety/stress, I tend to think my brain is just “slipping” and I am forever destined to be one of the people I usually get annoyed with :/

        And I feel exactly the same way you do when my bosses follow up with me on something – I’m usually the one proactively looping them in or giving them status updates. So even if they’re following up very early, I feel stressed by it.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Watch your self-talk. Correct yourself when you start thinking of yourself as one of those annoying people. Tell yourself various affirmations, “I like me, I am not one of those annoying people.” Or, ” I can and I will do a good job.” You get the idea.

          If your bosses follow up early and you find yourself stressed, then say to yourself “Is there something I am letting slide some where in my life?” Sometimes stress pops up in the wrong places. For example, a person could be stressed because of not paying bills on time (an at home problem) BUT the stress piles on when the boss asks for something earlier than anticipated. In this example, ignoring one problem causes increased stress in another totally unrelated situation. So use that stress as an opportunity to do a self-check. It could be that you figure out “oh man, I have been worried about taking the dog to the vet. I will feel a tiny bit better once I do that.” Then go take care of the problem you have identified. Keep doing this, see where that puts you.

    5. Daydreamer*

      Oh yes, I’m going through one of those periods right now. Feeling blah and uninspired, with my anxiety and mild depression creeping up. My identity doesn’t revolve around work, but I don’t like how lately I’ve been lacking my usual “get up and go” and normal ability to be on top of things more. I’m hoping it’ll pass sooner rather than later.

  47. GMA*

    I’m a 24 year old woman working on finishing up my master’s degree. I’m not quite to the point of applying and interviewing for jobs, but that will start in a couple of months. I know that for interviews, I need to wear a suit. But what type?

    I’m a lesbian who, in daily life, pretty much only wears men’s clothes. I have short hair and am frequently mistaken for a man. Because of my generally slight frame but wide hips, it can be a challenge to find men’s clothes that fit appropriately, but to me it is worth the effort to wear clothes that I am comfortable in, so I’m not afraid of getting a suit tailored.

    So now, back to the suit question. My concern about wearing a men’s suit is that it may come off as “aggressively masculine” if worn with a tie, but too casual if not. I’ve heard from people on both sides. I have, in my cursory online search for women’s suits, found that they are all much more feminine than I would be comfortable wearing. So, from my perspective, I have three options: 1. Full-on men’s suit and tie 2. Men’s suit, but no tie 3. Find the most androgynous women’s suit possible and suck it up. There are people online advocating all three options, but none from a manager’s perspective.

    I will be looking for jobs in male-dominated engineering firms and city/county governments, and I live on the west coast, if that makes a difference.

    1. nona*

      I think #2 or #3 are your best options, and between the two of them, it just comes down to how well the suit fits you. I think #1 might be uncomfortably formal.

    2. Lucy*

      My best friend prefers men’s clothing and she goes with the option of buying men’s shirts and suits and tailoring them to her frame – she also works in a very male field (architecture) and wears ties/vests on a daily basis. I don’t think you need a tie (since women aren’t expected to wear them), but I don’t think you should NOT wear one if it completes the outfit! My friend is on the east coast in a pretty conservative region but has to go to Boston and NYC a lot for work, and has never run into problems or anybody having an issue with how she dresses (that she’s told me). Even if she’s dressing a little “unconventionally” everything is tailored, pressed, fits well and, most important, she’s comfortable!

    3. Anastasia Beaverhausen*

      I don’t have much advice to give (I’m not much of a suit-wearer) but you might like this article from The Toast written by a woman who buys a men’s suit (and has it tailored, iirc). It has some links at the end as well. I’ll post a link in a separate comment.

    4. Muriel Heslop*

      My advice is to find a great tailor. You could choose what you like and have it fit to your frame. Good luck! I do my best work when I feel good in my clothes; I hope you can find the same.

    5. Anony-moose*

      I seem to recall running across a company who made suits for women. Really, it was a site that was addressing exactly what you have described: Women who typically dress in more masculine/androgynous clothing and wanted a suit that was not typically feminine or a woman’s suit, but that fit them well. They were AMAZING. I cannot for the life of me remember the name but I’l do some googling.

      I wonder if you could get a nice slim-cut men’s suit and have it tailored. It might be a bit pricey but would certainly last you a long time, and look really great.

      1. TL -*

        Saint Harridan! That’s the company!

        They do tailor made suits to fit bodies, not styles, and they don’t do gender normative cuts.

        Look into them, OP; they sound right up your alley.

    6. Treena Kravm*

      So, just to clarify, you mean “daily life” to include your daily work life as well? I think you need to first decide what you want to be able to wear during the work day (which may or may not be in the suit-category, but if it is, this is doubly important) and go with that. Because that way you’ll allow employers not comfortable with your clothes to self-select out. You have to decide for yourself how comfortable you are with potentially losing a job vs. being able to work in an accepting work-place.

      West coast is very vague, if you’re talking Seattle, Portland or Bay Area, then I wouldn’t worry at all. Anywhere else is iffy.

      I also agree that the tie is unnecessary, so you can narrow it down to #2 or 3. I would just start shopping and see what you can find. You’re going to want a plain black suit either way, and I think you’ll find that the tailored men’s suit isn’t wildly different from the women’s suit.

    7. AT*

      Like you, I wear men’s clothes 98% of the time, and am often mistaken for a male (baritone voice, broad shoulders, in my case). I’m also the same age as you. I faced my last interview clothing dilemma by fiercely rejecting both a) pencil skirt, blouse, heels, or b) charcoal suit, tie, white shirt – I went with a completely androgynous ensemble of pressed black slacks, non-heeled but completely enclosed plain polished black shoes, and a plain maroon-coloured shirt that fit loosely enough to be comfortable but I’d meticulously ironed to hang straight and look neat. I got the job, and some weeks later, in a frank discussion with my supervisor about how I should present myself to clients (initiated by me, wanting to make sure I was doing everything I could to give a good impression), the supervisor told me that most of my clients had asked her after meeting me what gender I am – and that some actually confessed initial reservations, but found themselves satisfied that I was neat, friendly and knew what I was talking about in my job. The impression I got from the whole experience has been that although a few people will be vocal about their hangups about these sorts of things, /most/ people in this day and age aren’t as bothered as the vocal ones would have us think, and get over the initial mild puzzlement within the first ten minutes or so once we’re down to business.

      Good luck! :D

    8. Lindsay J*

      There are a few companies now that specialize in doing masculine clothing for women. Saint Harridan is one I read an article about and seems to be the most popular/largest, but there are certainly others.

      A lot of them seem to be located in California. I don’t know where on the West Coast you are or if visiting them would be an option.

      Even if it isn’t, perhaps perusing their websites to see how the models are wearing their suits, etc. If you see someone who strikes the balance you’re looking for of being put together but not aggressively masculine, you can try to emulate that.

      I’ll post a website with links to some of the sites below.

    9. wonkette*

      You should read DapperQ blog and look into companies such as Sharpe Suiting (they make suits for LGBT people). I think fashion for butch women is becoming more of a thing but still hard to find. I wish you luck!

    10. skyline*

      I would say that a tie is not necessary in this situation for most West Coast metro areas. I agree with commenters above that you might want to start as you wish to go on–present yourself in a way that’s consistent with how you’d be presenting yourself once hired. It seems like that would be a good way to make sure there’s a cultural fit. So in that case #2 might be best?

      But really, I think any of these could work: they all sound neat, professional, and suitably formal for the occasion. That’s what I’m looking for as a hiring manager.

      Good luck with your job search!

    11. Blue_eyes*

      Could you wear a men’s suit but add a feminine accessory like a silk scarf (instead of a man’s tie) or a chunky necklace? It would let you wear the suit you want, but bring in a little femininity so it doesn’t feel too masculine (since that seems to be your concern).

    12. Dang*

      I’d probably go with 2 and get it tailored. I do see a lot of androgynous women’s suits out there, but they frequently have a random feminine detail that gives it away.

    13. TL -*

      Can you wear a non-super-masculine tie? I have a bolo tie that I wear occasionally and though I wear it with feminine clothes usually, it doesn’t normally read as particularly male in and of itself.

      Something like that, or a piece of jewelry that mimics a tie but isn’t quite a tie might work well.

    14. Yesterday's anon*

      The tie…so I was already employed and not interviewing and I was masculine and often mistaken for a man, wearing men’s clothing always, but when I started to wear ties at work, that got a reaction. People telling me I should “soften” my look or wondering if I was “trying to be a man”, there was some push back by some, snickers,…nothing overt or much, just noticeable because the only thing I changed was that I added a tie. And things calmed down pretty quickly. Now that was 15-18 years ago and the world has changed a lot.

      But I think the tie still has a lot of power as a gender marker, even as the world has changed. The more accepted masculine female attire, at least in my work world, is the no-tie option. I have a friend who wears a really nice men’s vest as her “tie”. It is a not the tie but it does add a bit of flair and is still in keeping with the masculinity of her outfit – it works well for her. With the tie, some people may wonder if you are/will be transitioning, now that more people know about this, and a lot people tend to be extremely rude and entitled about this and ask you about it, even at work, often in the most offensive way possible.

      But the main thing, in my experience, is for you to feel super comfortable and confident in how you look and appear. When I started to wear ties, it made me feel so much more put together and, well, sexy, I am sure it translated in my being more confident and that really shows and the more comfortable you are with how you are presenting, the more comfortable interviewers will be.

      1. some things i do for money some things i do for free*

        But the main thing, in my experience, is for you to feel super comfortable and confident in how you look and appear.

        This. Pragmatically speaking, if you interview with someone who has issues with your sexuality, the variations in attire that you mention aren’t likely to make any difference.

        And if you interview with someone who is unconcerned with your sexuality, your self-confidence and attitude are going to trump what you wear.

        So wear what makes you feel kick-ass.

      2. afiendishthingy*

        I think butch women look super cute in bowties, but, um, that may be more of a personal preference thing than actual useful job searching advice. Good luck!

    15. voluptuousfire*

      I remember reading an article on suits for masculine presenting and queer women a few months back and I wish I could remember it. Damn.

      I’d recommend checking out a website called Haute Butch. It’s an online store that’s dedicated to butch and queer women and they have some nice looking dress shirts and such on there. They’re pricey though.

      I have a jacket bookmarked on there. It’s so cute and I want to buy it as a gift to myself when I actually get a paycheck.

  48. Fuzzy*

    Anyone her work in HR? I’d love to learn more about what a job in that field looks like. No specific questions yet, but I really like what HR in my office have worked with me on (benefits, training, etc.) Thanks!

    1. Mia E*

      I do. Our office divides the tasks you mention, a few handle benefits for retirees, for health, some handle personnel, someone else does wellness, etc. The managers do more of the employee matters involving personal troubles, disciplines, Union matters, etc. It’s a pretty broad area. Some places hire people more as HR “generalists” and I would assume they may handle a smattering of these rather than specializing.

      1. Fuzzy*

        Website ate my response! Meh.

        It looks like we have the generalist/specialist deal as well. What kind of person/work style/personality would work well in HR? What does a day-today look like?

    2. KJR*

      I do, and I love it! There are some rough days here and there, but the for the most part I enjoy the variety that the job offers. I’m what is called a generalist (vs a specialist), which means I’m responsible for all aspects of HR (vs. only one area, for example benefits). This is very common in smaller companies. The larger the company, the more you will see specialists. Personally, I enjoy the variety it offers.

      1. Fuzzy*

        What do rough days look like? What kind of thing do generalists make? What kind of person/work style/personality would work well in HR? What does a day-to-day look like? What kind of a degree is wanted for a generalist position? (ex-is an MBA required, or just for management/specialist positions)

        And if you don’t mind me asking, what kind of pay scale would HR have? I haven’t been able to find anything conclusive online.

        (sorry about the question dump, but I’m really curious! :D)

        1. KJR*

          Hey no problem, glad to help. For me, a rough day is having a tricky disciplinary issue that doesn’t go well. Another issue I sometimes struggle with is being the lone wolf with compliance issues. As in, “yes, we have to pay overtime to non-exempt employees. It is the law. It is not just my rule.” So convincing managers to do things the “right” way when it seems counter intuitive to them is a challenge, but a good HR person will be able to navigate those situations. On the other hand though, when I’m able to help out with a problem situation that turns out well, or a manager ends up buying in to my suggestions, I feel pretty good about it. I also love it when a hire goes well. There’s nothing like offering someone a job, and they accept. It gives me the warm fuzzies.

          As far as personality, being able to be compassionate yet fair and unbiased helps, as does the ability to jump from one thing to another quickly. Most importantly though, a thick skin is very necessary! People are not always going to like what you have to say, but you have to remain upbeat, approachable, and non-defensive. A good sense of humor is also key.

          I have a bachelor’s in Psychology and a Master’s in it as well, with the Master’s being in Industrial/Organizational Psychology. The Master’s has been helpful in gaining employment, but certainly is not necessary. You can go into HR with just about any degree. Or, no degree at all. I have a professional certification that has served me well also, the SPHR. I would recommend you become involved with SHRM if you do decide to go the HR route.

          As far as pay grades, it will depend on role and geography like anything else, but I think a decent HR Manager job in a mid-size company could make anywhere from $55-75k per year. This is a very rough estimate. A higher C-level or VP could make much more than that. I believe the compensation folks probably make the most, but again, just my general impression.

          I hope that helps, let me know if you think of anything else!

          1. Fuzzy*

            This is all super helpful! I worked hospitality for a while and now I deal directly with parents of middle-schoolers, so a thick skin is something I have! Definitely something I want to explore more.

  49. De Minimis*

    So….I still have yet to tell anyone about my wife’s new position or that we will eventually be moving.

    I’ve decided to wait for a bit….she doesn’t have a firm start date yet though we’re guessing just over a month. I also want to wait till we get our house on the market and maybe have an idea about the level of interest in it.

    Absolutely hate that we are going through this [again!—we’ve separated for work twice over the course of our marriage] but it needs to happen. She basically killed her career in coming out here and I’m really happy that she’s going to be able to rebound into a great position with people who already know her work and appreciate her. And I know I should be able to get a job somewhere, I just have to stick around here until the house sells. If it sells quickly, it won’t be a huge deal. If it doesn’t, that’s where things will get difficult. It’s hard to say what might happen, there were two mostly identical homes in our neighborhood that went on sale around the same time, one never sold and the owners I think just moved back into it, the other one sold in a week.

    I know professionally it would be better to tell my supervisors sooner rather than later, but I just don’t want to risk them causing me difficulties as far as getting the time off to move, and unfortunately it’s quite possible I could be stuck here a lot longer than I hoped.

    To complicate things further, I found out earlier this week I was referred for a job with another federal agency that I was hoping to pursue if we ended up staying here, but now I guess I will probably just tell them no if they call about an interview [which still might not happen, I’ve been referred for federal jobs before and not been contacted.] I’m still at a grade where I could walk away from a federal career and not really be giving up very much, but the temptation is still there.

    1. De Minimis*

      Oh, and this other federal job would be a higher grade, and could be an entry point into higher level jobs.

    2. Dawn*

      Get a good Realtor- that will make a huge difference in how fast your house sells. Fix all of the easily fixable stuff in the house, spruce it up with new paint, put in new carpets if the old ones are stained, make the yard look nice. Think of how to make the house look super nice, spiffy, clean, fixed up, and as neutral as possible so people can easily see themselves living in it. Look at this as the chance to send all of your clutter along with your wife, and live with just the absolutely minimum of furniture to showcase the house as good as possible. It’s absolutely worth it to invest a couple of weekends and a couple thousand dollars to sprucing up the easily fixable stuff in the house so that it looks attractive to buyers, and having a good Realtor will ensure that they’re working hard to get your house exposed to potential buyers. Good luck!

      1. De Minimis*

        Thanks for the tips! We are probably going to contact a realtor this weekend, the one who was involved with the house in the neighborhood that sold quickly. We can’t do a whole lot in the way of renovation other than the stuff that is inexpensive and easier to do…we will have the house staged pretty well for a while until the actual moving process starts, then it’ll be more bare bones.

        1. Dawn*

          Bare bones is way better than full of stuff- I’ve worked for Realtors before, and when they stage houses they really want the bare minimum of stuff in a room. A room with a few items in it will actually look larger than a totally empty room. Best of luck!

  50. Wolfey*

    I’m done! I’m done! I’m done!

    Last day at this ridiculous office! Engineering degree, you don’t know it yet but you are mine!

    Thanks so much to Alison for jumping in with the advice to go back to school and to all the AAMers who’ve been so supportive since January. You guys are the best.

      1. Wolfey*

        I’ve really enjoyed chatting with you! It sounds like you are in a really confusing spot, life-wise–I’d definitely be scratching my head too. But you’re asking tons of good questions and being really proactive about it. I do hope you decide to go traveling though! It’s been the most rewarding aspect of my life so far and I bet you’d have a truly awesome experience.

    1. Sif*

      I’ve been rooting for you, Wolfey! I’m so glad you got yourself out of a crummy situation. Your education/career change sounds pretty interesting, too. Am I correct in assuming you’re going for the civil/environmental engineering field?

      1. Wolfey*

        Thanks Sif! I don’t yet know how I’ll specialize, but I want to work in environmentally friendly, energy efficient construction, so maybe mechanical or structural engineering? I’ll see what looks most fun when I get past the pre-requisites and deeper into it. I’m relearning calc and chem and physics right now.

  51. Anonimosity*

    Oh, by all means introduce a new procedure that negates our former procedure and shifts the burden of all the work to one person. I get that you might want to limit who can make changes in a database. But by all means, force us to ask permission of this now extremely busy person to perform a task we have been performing quite well on our own for ages. We would love to wait around for it to get done instead of doing it ourselves.

    It’s Friday. The THIRTEENTH. So, of course.

    1. Treena Kravm*

      Ugh yes. I’ve been waiting over 5 months to get a document approved for use outside of our agency from the Director of Communications. So now we’re asking (begging) to have our Director “get trained” in how to approve things so that we have someone who prioritizes our work one iota.

      (This is you in 6-24 months, congrats!)

    2. Anon369*

      Haha, I can’t help but read this in my head in Meryl Streep’s voice from Devil Wears Prada. “By all means, move at a glacial pace. . . “

  52. nona*

    I’m looking for general women’s hair and makeup opinions. I’m trying to pay more attention to how I ~present myself~ and this is a little part of it.

    What strikes you as looking professional or put-together? What comes across as unprofessional?

    1. nona*

      That is – I get my office’s basic norms, dress code, etc. I’m looking for smaller things that affect the impression somebody gives you.

    2. Treena Kravm*

      I’m not a make-up person, but having huge undereye circles signals is probably the only cosmetic thing I’d recommend addressing. Same with hair, as long as it’s neat, you’re fine.

      I’ve noticed clothes a lot more often. Torn, too-tight, or just ridiculously too-casual screams out. You’re probably not at that stage, but think about pilling on fabric, or wrinkled stuff, scuffed shoes, a small tear or stain, etc. Those are the things that make an item get retired from the “work” side of the closet and into the “regular clothes side” for me.

    3. cuppa*

      I would also add that it’s probably best to stick to more neutral colors for makeup, and I would look to cultural cues for nail polish (although nail polish should be there or not there, don’t leave massively chipped polish on your nails).

    4. Dawn*

      I’m big on being “put-together” without being “high maintenance”! For me, the big stuff is:

      Hair: good cut every 6-8 weeks, depending on how your hair grows. Easy style, no flyaways, no frizz, no split ends, no dark roots.
      Skin: Washed, moisturized, hydrated (drink lots of water and get good sleep!). Wear whatever makeup you want, but make sure it’s done well- no wonky eyeliner, no raccoon eyes due to mascara transfer, no bright blue eyeshadow applied while driving.
      Clothing: Fits well (for whatever definition of “well” you want), no stains or rips. Appropriate to the work situation- no three piece suits if your office is more business casual, no business casual if your office is more three piece suits. Shoes clean and free of scuffs.
      Accessories: Tasteful and small. I’m a big fan of having a statement piece of either a big necklace, bracelet, OR scarf, and then letting everything else be small. I’m also a big fan of the advice to put on all the accessories you want to wear with your outfit, then remove one thing.
      Nails: At the least, not bitten to the quick, and with manicured cuticles. If you’re wearing nail polish, not chipped or cracked. If you have fake nails, keep them demure.

      And then there’s general hygiene stuff like brushing your teeth, getting enough sleep, standing up straight, etc etc etc.

      Honestly I’ve found that attitude counts for A LOT when looking put together. There was a woman I used to work with who was always dressed to the nines- Louboutin heels, designer dresses, designer handbags, diamond jewelry, perfect hair, perfect makeup- but holy cow she carried herself like a huge snob and when you did talk to her everything she said was just totally and completely weird, so her attitude definitely made me flag her as “someone who had no idea what was going on”. Smiling and being professional makes anyone, no matter what they’re wearing, seem put together!

    5. OriginalEmma*

      Do you prefer to wear your hair up or down? There are ways to spruce up your average ponytail as well as ways to add dimension to hair worn down that says more than “I just run a comb through my hair.”

      Changing your part, adding a fringe (straight across or on the side, or something else entirely), using clips or claws (though I personally need an Erector Set to lift my hair with anything other than sturdy ponytail holder) and experimenting with hair products may all play into a new presentation.

      I have to wear my hair up for work, which means I default to a ponytail but I am also working on how to spruce up my presentation.

      1. Kelly L.*

        I had a perfect claw for my giant Cousin Itt hair. Perfect. And then it broke and I don’t think they sell that model anymore. I’ve been wearing a braid a lot, but I think it makes me look like old fat Rapunzel. :D

        1. Ismis*

          If you can, tuck the braid underneath and pin it – I think it looks more professional, and it’s easy! If it’s too long, then twist it into a bun and pin it.

    6. Michele*

      I would err on the side of minimal makeup. Too much just looks trashy. So does obviously dyed and heavily processed hair. Also, no leggings. They are permitted here, but no one above a certain position wears them.
      I try to wear tasteful jewelry, classic but up-to-date clothing (I have a small wardrobe with basic things like cardigans and trousers), and generally look put together. I spend very little time getting ready for work, but I do get a lot of compliments on my style.

      1. TL -*

        You’d be surprised how much make-up it can take to get a perfect natural look.

        It’s not the amount of make-up you wear, it’s the colors and the emphasis – a dark smoky eye and red lips are not appropriate for the office, but one or the other might be, toned down a little from what you would wear to go out. Really bright pink cheeks and bright blue eyeshadow also aren’t going to be the most professional. I would suggest either going for a natural look – just making everything look a bit more smoother and nice than what your momma gave you – or emphasizing just one feature – nice eyes or bright lips or cheery cheeks.

        But if you’re masterful at make-up, you can make a lot look like a very little, if that’s what you want.

    7. skyline*

      For professional appearance, I think the three main things I consider are: neatness, cleanliness, and level of formality. There are lots of approaches that can meet those three requirements. The most common things that come across as unprofessional to me are unkempt hair (sloppy, or in need of a trim) or wrinkled or ill-fitting clothes. I don’t tend to notice someone’s makeup unless it truly excessively draws attention to itself. (For example, if someone wore glittery makeup more suitable for a club to work.) In general, if someone has bags under their eyes, I’m more likely to think they’re tired or getting over an illness, not that they need to put on makeup.

    8. Nachos Bell Grande*

      I’ve been working on my put-togetherness the last few weeks, and the two things I’ve seen make a HUGE difference are eyebrows and hair. Since I had my eyebrows threaded and got rid of the (gray, ugh) roots in my hair, I’m carrying myself more put-togetherly and people are NOTICING. (And I’m getting carded now… at age 32.)

    9. TL -*

      Get your hair done somewhere good – if you have to pay for it (and can), pay for it, and if you luck out and find somewhere cheap, rejoice. Be explicit with your stylist about how you wear your hair everyday and what kind of maintenance you’re willing to put into it, get a cut that works for that, and find products (shampoo and conditioner are all I need) to make your hair look good.

      I only get my hair cut every 3-4 months, but I favor cuts that grow out well and it takes about that long for split ends to show up.

      Wear clothes that work well for you – if you’re not comfortable in heels, no matter how professional they look, you’re not going to look professional in them. So do a mix of “does this look professional?” and “will I feel professional in it?”

  53. Mia E*

    I’ll be returning from maternity leave soon and I can’t find much practical information online about pumping at work. I know my rights in this area, but day to day…where do you store your pumping equipment between uses? We have no sink, but even if we did, I can’t imagine leaving it there to dry. I also am sure meetings etc. will not be scheduled around my pumping schedule…so do you just excuse yourself if it’s time to pump? I can’t miss sessions or my supply will go down. I work for two women, should I ask them how they prefer me to handle these things, or will it be horrifically awkward for them to discuss?

    1. H*

      This is not something I have personal experience with, but a friend was able to speak candidly about her pumping needs and set up a schedule with management, and HR generously offered to vacate their office for a little bit so she could have so privacy while pumping. I say just talk to them.

    2. Xarcady*

      I do think you need to talk to your bosses. You will need a private space to pump–does your company have one set up already or will they need to designate one? Also talk about the timing of meetings. If your company uses scheduling software, you can block out the time you need.

      I’ve been in your bosses’ shoes and appreciated the employees who were up-front and open about pumping. It’s easier to know what you will need to deal with rather than having to guess at it.

    3. Sparrow*

      You may also want to post this question on Corporette Moms or search through the posts. I know in my office there is a separate room for nursing mothers. I think it’s probably best to discuss with your bosses. Good luck!

    4. Judy*

      I was lucky enough to have a small fridge in the pumping room, and those who used the room left their tubes and flanges in a gallon ziplock in the fridge during the day. It was actually nice to have the cold flanges. I would clean them at night at home. As long as you kept them cold, it wasn’t a problem to not wash them immediately. I would leave the pump in the room during the day, it was an office with no windows in the door, during the day there were 3 pumps sitting on the desk. I’d carry the pump and accessories back to my desk after my last session of the day, my pump had a little cooler that held multiple bottles.

      I pumped into the Medela bottles and then used the (playtex?) bottles with ziping plastic bags in them, and transfer in the evenings to those to send to daycare the next day. It was easier to just send those baggies to daycare. (And into the freezer for backup, also.)

    5. fposte*

      When I’ve had employees who need to pump, we’ve generally talked about it, so I’d recommend talking to your managers unless you’ve gotten cues that suggest they’ll be irrational about it. I actually wouldn’t have a big problem scheduling most stuff around a pumping schedule; meetings get scheduled around things all the time. Just say “I can’t make 9:30 but I’ll be free at 10–would that work?” If you’re in an earlier meeting that runs long, yes, just excuse yourself and depart, same as the people who have to go to another meeting will be doing.

    6. AHN*

      Do you have access to a refrigerator? I put my pumping stuff in a zip-top plastic bag inside a paper lunch bag in the work fridge between pump sessions so that I didn’t have to worry about cleaning them at work. The lunch bag disguised the contents well enough; I also worked with all women at the time which may have mitigated any squicky feelings.

    7. Spondee*

      I keep my supplies in a lunch bag in the office refrigerator between pumping sessions. I’ve handled my schedule by blocking out 2 half hour “meetings” every day. I can change my schedule to accommodate meetings, but I treat that as the exception to my normal schedule, and my (male) supervisor backs me up on that. I’d definitely talk to your supervisors about how they’d like you to handle things, but go in with a plan and ask if that works for them.

      And go easy on yourself. You don’t have to have all the answers your first day back. Good luck!

    8. Libretta*

      I just excused myself to pump, and no one ever questioned my schedule. I agree with Judy about keeping them cold if you can’t wash them – Medela sells a little cooler specifically designed for the bottles if you don’t have a fridge. They also sell wipes for cleaning the equipment when you can’t wash. I used those to wipe down the flanges after use, and rinsed my bottles in our sink.

      I am sure it will vary by work place, but I only ever got one comment from one jerkface about pumping, and he was later hauled into HR for other awful comments. Basically everyone was really supportive – except about me drinking coffee while breastfeeding – but that is another story. :) The advice I got that I stuck to was to never apologize for caring for my kid, that includes days when I have to stay home when she has a fever or something. I have stuck to that for 2 years now, and it has worked out. Congratulations, and good luck!

  54. Phillylena*

    My husband is in the military and he has finished up his military obligations. We are in Alaska. We will be moving to the lower 48 (that’s what we call the rest of the US) . I will be obviously quitting my job without new employment lined up. (I know! I know! We do not have family here, it’s cold and oh, IT’S ALASKA)

    Here’s the thing: I am 3 months pregnant. I am not showing at all right now. I am applying to jobs in the city where we will be settling. Eventually my husband will stay home with our child.

    I have read on here in the previous post that people have raked the pregnant women over the coals when they inquired about interviewing while pregnant. It was awful stuff. I want to be open and honest. But I have personally seen in past experiences and in my own workplace the kind of treatment pregnant interviewees receive. I just want to know your thoughts.

    1. Mia E*

      I was promoted just after having a baby, but I already worked within the organization. The fact is, I have seen pregnancy be a factor in hiring, although of course it shouldn’t be, and is technically illegal to discriminate on that basis. I think you probably wouldn’t want to work anywhere if they were to rake you over the coals for being pregnant/having a baby. But if you didn’t disclose it, I can see being annoyed. I’d be honest about it in an interview, especially since you’ll be showing. Indicate when you’re due, that you will return to work, how long you plan to be off.

    2. The Cosmic Avenger*

      You ARE NOT required to disclose it, and any half-decent employer would not ask, since it’s illegal to not hire someone due to pregnancy status. It’s not illegal to ask, but then it’s technically not illegal to ask about any other protected status either, IIRC.

      I would not bring it up until you get an offer, at which point they can’t withdraw it without it appearing to be discrimination. But that’s giving them the maximum notice you can without giving them a chance to use it against you.

      Some people say that you should disclose stuff like this freely, because who wants to work for someone who discriminates? If your husband can support your family, then sure, it might not be a bad idea, but if you’re hurting for a second income, why let the idiots run the show when they’re breaking the law?

    3. Treena Kravm*

      Until you’re showing, don’t disclose. Depending on your body, a lot of employers may not notice that you’re pregnant, you may just look like you carry a bit of weight in the torso. But if it’s super obvious you’re pregnant, then just disclose and explain your husband’s role etc. It’s really all you can do.

      Whenever you’ll be moving, start applying now. That’ll make this a lot easier too.

    4. Jules*

      I did not disclose until I was offered the job. The employer did not have a problem with it. In fact, they tell me good employers don’t care.

    5. OfficePrincess*

      I’d say wait for the offer to bring it up. BUT I would strongly advise against interviewing at 4-5 months and then waiting until 2 weeks before your due date to announce it. Give the company a chance to plan for you to be out ffs. Ugh.

    6. fposte*

      I think you’re missing all the posts where people were hired when pregnant and it went fine, though; it’s really not a universal formula for hiring doom. As noted, just mention it at the offer stage that you’ll be needing time off in six months.

      If you’re applying to anyplace really small–under 15 employees–be aware that the Pregnancy Discrimination Act does not apply to them so that they can legally decide not to hire you. Doesn’t mean they’ll do that, though–just that it’s legal.

      1. Phillylena*

        Thank you for your replies. I am a small person. I like the idea of waiting for the offer then disclosing it. Thank you Cosmic Avenger for the link.

    7. nerfmobile*

      I was jobsearching while pregnant – got laid off from my previous job at not quite 5 months – I hadn’t told that company yet for various reasons, and am overweight enough that it wasn’t particularly showing. I interviewed for the job I have now when I was 7 months pregnant – it was probably at the point that I either looked somewhat pregnant or just really fat – and no one asked about it at the interview. So when I got called back (by the internal recruiter – big company) to talk about an offer, I explained the situation – that I would be needing time off for maternity at what would at that point be just a month or so after starting. Although I knew they couldn’t refuse to hire me explicitly because I was pregnant, I figured the hiring manager would be well within her rights to say no, we need someone who would be available during X period (since it was so soon). But, they didn’t take that option and did go ahead and make me a good offer, equal to my previous salary with some additional bonus opportunities – with the perk that the company policy was IMMEDIATE eligibility for health benefits and also that I would receive partial short-term disability pay while out on leave. I liked the opportunity anyway, so you can bet I snapped up that offer. I’ve been here for just over 4 years now. While I think my first-year performance was only adequate (imagine being new-baby-sleep-deprived while also trying to learn a new job), I’ve received stellar reviews and significant raises since then, and also a promotion. My manager is pretty happy she took the gamble on me.

  55. H*

    How does one go about find the average starting salary for a certain field? I’ve tried google without a lot of success, the institution I’m applying at doesn’t list any kind of salary info, and everyone I know in my field has worked in it 20+ years so I don’t expect them to have accurate starting salary info.

    1. HigherEd Admin*

      I like Glassdoor for salary research. You can pick a few companies within your industry and see what people have reported as their salaries for various positions.

    2. jillociraptor*

      Yep, Glassdoor is great, if you can find a position similar to yours. PayScale is another site where you can put in information about your past experience, location, and skills, and it will compare you with others who have submitted information to the site to see how your salary/offer stacks up. I found that pretty helpful and accurate. I do have a little more context on typical salary bands in my organization, and for what I know, PayScale’s advice was pretty close to what I would expect internally.

      1. H*

        I will check Payscale! I have not had much luck finding similar positions with disclosed salaries on Glassdoor.

      1. H*

        Unfortunately all I’ve been able to find from the professional organizations I belong to is “it varies”

    3. Blue_eyes*

      Try looking at similar job postings – not all will have salary, but some will and that can give you an idea. And check Glassdoor as well.

      1. H*

        The big snag I’m running into is that most jobs where the posting is listing a salary are not anywhere near where this job is, and by that I mean the majority of listings in this field are large cities (like NYC and Seattle) and midwest college towns. Glassdoor has very few salaries from the institution I’m applying at, mostly for professors, and I’m not sure how a professors salary compares to a librarian/archivists salary even within the same institution.

        1. jillociraptor*

          If it’s an academic institution, is there a public school nearby enough? Sometimes their salaries are required to be reported publicly (or at least you can find the salary scale with a little google-fu).

          Another way to get a really general range would be to search for a cost of living adjustment calculator, input the salary you find for somewhere else, and calculate the equivalent in your area. Obviously this isn’t a science, but it might help you figure out if you’re totally off base.

        2. Blue_eyes*

          Hmm. That does make it more difficult. If you can find any that do have salaries that are in a similar location (size of town, etc.) that may give you a better idea. You could also try looking for salaries for the position title on Glassdoor and see what it says for different locations, or search for peer institutions (especially public ones as jillociraptor suggested) to get more data points. If you want to get really math-y with it, you could compare librarian/archivist salaries in NYC with professor salaries in NYC to see what the ratio is, and then apply that ratio to the professor salaries for your institution. Doing all of those things should start to get you a range.

  56. Relly*

    I’m currently job hunting, but my problem is that I can’t narrow down what kind of jobs I want to apply for. I’m currently an administrative assistant, but my job has included graphic design, marketing, website admin and design, and manual work like engraving. I feel like I’m spread too thin and have no focus. Has anyone dealt with this? How did you figure out where to go next?

    1. Jennifer*

      Apply for anything that you qualify for. Let them figure out whether or not they want to take you for graphic design, or marketing, or whatever. Unless you don’t want to do marketing again, in which case don’t apply for marketing jobs.

      The market will decide for you, I think.

    2. CrazyCatLady*

      Do you work for a small company? In my experience, you end up wearing a lot more hats in smaller companies (which gives you a larger skill set but less focus). Is there anything you work on more than other things in your current position? Or something you are more interested in? That’s how I narrowed down which jobs to apply for, after working someplace where I worked on such a huge variety of things from day-to-day.

      1. Relly*

        Yeah, I work in a very small company, so I’m basically the entire marketing “department” as it were. I do like the graphic design aspect of it a lot (I’ve made a dozen or so advertisements in the past year), so I might have to focus on that more in my job hunts!

    3. Sunflower*

      Oh boy that’s me! My experience is in project management/client services/event management/marketing and I kind of like all of it!

      What are you really interested in? My process is thorough but not really efficient. I like to search lots of different job titles and go through all of them. I usually skim over them to see if the years experience is in line then save it. I go back later and read through it to see if I’m really interested in it. Then apply, interview and see how you feel after that,.

  57. anonintheuk*

    Having a moan.

    I have, several times, told the recruiters I am in touch with that I do not drive because of a disability. One of them is now trying to argue with me after I declined to be referred for a job which I agree would be a good fit, but which would take me nearly two hours to get to because of no direct train or bus. Seriously, I don’t care if it’s 15 miles away down a major road. I don’t have any way of getting down this major road, unless you imagine I am going to hitchhike to work.

    1. Jennifer*

      As a former non-driver, you have my sympathies on this. Drivers just don’t get the concept of “can’t get somewhere without a car” for shit. It’s pretty much why I’m in the industry I’m in–I work for the one big local company I didn’t have to drive to get to work at.

    2. Amethyst*

      I hope they set you up with something better soon. I also rely on public transit and the concept of what that means just goes over some people’s heads. It’s very frustrating to deal with.

    3. Mimmy*

      This is the very bane of my existence and why I’ve pretty much given up looking for full-time work in my desired field. Sure there is public transportation, but the prospect of a 2+ hour one-way commute–which I’ve endured before–where any hiccup along the way could muck the whole thing up makes me rather twitchy.

    4. Elizabeth West*

      Ugh, that stinks. I’ve dealt with not having a car and it really does limit you in terms of where you can work, when public transport is spotty or non-existent. I hope the recruiters get a clue and find you something good that’s easier to get to.

      1. anon in the uk*

        My current job is okay (and fifty minutes door to door- twenty minutes on a train and fifteen minute walk each end) but I am looking for the next step up. Sadly, anything taking two hours to get to on a regular basis cannot possibly qualify as ‘better’.

    5. Merry and Bright*

      Been there and done that and you have my sympathies. I live in easy travelling distance by bus or train of 4 good sized towns, not to mention London and I tell the recruiters I have no car. Yet they only want to send me for work out in the middle of nowhere with no public transport. Aahh!

  58. ManagementNewbie*

    I work in HR in a large, multi-campus organization. I am looking for whether I’m completely off-base with my thinking here, and if not, how best to attack the issue. By necessity, HR needs to be “available” to employees. Based on the size of our organization (1500-2000 employees), we have a comparably small HR staff.
    Throughout the day, my staff and various employees walk in without an appointment, who “just need a minute” (it is never just a minute!). These drop in’s eat up a very large percentage of my work day, and the interruptions are draining on my productivity. Between the drop in’s, scheduled meetings, and checking email/voicemail and responding, I find most days I cannot begin doing much work until after the end of the work day. I used to be willing to do that, albeit I don’t think my salary is worth it, but as a new mom, I am no longer able to do this, at least for awhile.
    I’ve implored my staff to use email where possible (much of their questions are simple enough and not urgent and could be handled easily this way), but they have not changed. Most employees believe their issues to be urgent, although most aren’t.
    I previously worked in the legal field where drop in’s were uncommon and email was heavily used even for inter-office questions. Is this the nature of HR? Am I totally off-base to find to find this a complete drain on productivity? I’m new to management and I know some of this is par for the course, but I feel it’s out of hand.
    I considered suggesting to my supervisor implementing “walk-in hours”. Or perhaps I just need to be better about saying I do not have time and they need to schedule a meeting? If anyone has suggestions for how to handle this so I can get something accomplished other than triage all day, I would so appreciate it.

    1. Jennifer*

      I would suggest “walk in hours” myself in your circumstances.

      I work in a “walk-in” now myself and I hear ya, it’s annoying and my supervisor says the same things you do. But it depends on how much ability you have to fend off people who want to see you. If you have a cube and no office, it may not really be doable to shut people out in the way that you could with an office where you’d close your door and leave a “At a meeting” sign on the door.

      But some jobs, well, the point of them is triage. Yours might be one of them, and handling the triage may be more of a priority to your supervisor than doing your actual work.

      1. Nanc*

        The Walk-In hours concept is a great idea. Additionally, do you have regular meetings with your staff? It might be worth tracking what sorts of stuff they keep bringing to you. Maybe you can schedule meetings around these issues.

        Good luck!

    2. Colette*

      When people interrupt you with a question that’s suitable for email, as an yiu redirect them – I.e. “I’m in the middle of something, can you send me an email?”

      They’re doing what they’re doing because it works.

    3. MaryMary*

      I like the idea of “walk in hours.” Or the opposite, blocking off time in your schedule to get through your day-to-day work done, like a meeting with yourself. If you can’t get away with doing that every day, even once a week might help. You could also try suggesting that anyone who has an issue that might take longer than 10 minutes to address schedule a meeting instead of dropping by.

      Are you getting similar questions over and over? Maybe there’s an opportunity to schedule a session for everyone with questions, or create some documentation.

      In terms of email versus drop ins, I think it’s an office culture issue. OldJob was very email-centric (in fact, they eventually moved to the opposite extreme and we didn’t have any HR onsite at all, even in large offices, you had to email or call). It sounds like your job really values the personal interaction.

      1. Fuzzy*

        Sessions are great! A lot of benefits don’t kick in until a few months after new staff orientation, so I was on the phone with HR getting the same information they had already told me. If you can find time to schedule presentations or sessions with Q&A time that may help cut down on the drop ins.

    4. Mints*

      I love the idea of “office hours” we do this a little but it’s not catching on that much. You could also do virtual office hours where you host call time once a week or whatever for people to call in (I’m picturing the “multi-campus” really gigantic).
      Also, if they’re really easy/basic questions, could you have handouts or copies of employee guides? So you could say “Take a look at this and email me if it doesn’t answer your questions.” Sometimes I have questions that I know are easy, but I can’t find the link on the intranet or everyone lost their handbooks.

        1. ManagementNewbie*

          yes, lots of confusion over who to call, great idea! Thank you! Of course, we have trouble with staff not being responsive, but that’s another issue…

  59. C Average*

    *Knowledge Management*

    In the comments under last night’s post, I mentioned knowledge management, and another commenter wanted to know more about how I’d gotten into that field. It’s one of those weird little crannies of the corporate world that most people don’t really think about. Things like process docs and FAQs are deliberately written in such a way that it’s hard to conceive of an actual human writing them, but actual humans do! They research them, write them, edit them, maintain them, audit them, archive them, localize them for other geos, optimize them for search, control access to various types of content, and collaborate with other teams in all of these processes. It’s complex but actually pretty interesting work.

    If there’s anyone else who would like to know more about it, I’m always happy to answer questions. I think a lot of people get into it by accident, but it’s a decent career option for English majors, library science grads, and other people with a strong bent toward wordcraft and information management.

    1. LeahC*

      Me!!!! I’d love to know. Coming from academic editing, I’d love to get more technical. How did you get into it?

      1. C Average*

        Sideways. I worked for my current company for five years in various channels of tech support, mostly social media, and earned a reputation for product knowledge and a clear, rather technical writing style. Through my role, I worked quite a bit with the knowledge base team and was a known quantity to them. The product area in which I’m an expert became a bigger and bigger part of our business, and the department decided to add a knowledge base author specializing in that product. They pretty much created the role with me in mind.

        I get the impression this is pretty common for this type of role: it gradually dawns on the business that they need to strategically corral a certain kind of information, and often the person who’s best equipped to do that is someone who already works there and knows the products and processes.

    2. april ludgate*

      Thanks for posting about this! I don’t have any questions for you, but I’m currently working in a library and searching for other fields I could pursue with the experience I have and I’d never heard of Knowledge Management before, and it’s something I’m definitely going to look into now that I know it exists!

      1. C Average*

        A resource I really, really like is He’s a UK-based knowledge management expert, and his blog is a phenomenal collection of information about what knowledge management is, how to do it well, who’s doing it well, etc. I find it interesting to observe the different titles knowledge managers hold at different organizations. If you were interested in this kind of work, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to browse his archives for that information and use those titles to keyword-search for those kinds of jobs.

    3. Lindsay J*

      I’d be interested in knowing more about how you got into it, what your day-to-day working life looks like, etc. Basically anything you would be interested in sharing.

      1. C Average*

        Typically, my day starts with a quick scan of my emails. Since my role is global, I’ll often have action items from Europe and Asia that come in overnight, or updates from my colleagues there on action items I have sent them. (Because we’re headquartered in the U.S., I send far more action items to the geos than I get from them. More on that later.)

        Then I usually review the reports we get daily from our call center about call drivers, call volume, etc. That helps alert me to any emerging issues I might need to research and write about, or any of our content that might not be getting the job done effectively.

        I often take a quick spin around the building to touch base with our training team and our contact leads, with whom I work closely.

        Then the main work of the day begins: the queues. I sit with a team of 10, and our main role is to work a series of CRM queues. We receive direct, anonymous feedback from consumers about our user-facing FAQs as well as direct feedback from our customer service agents about the knowledge base content we write for them. Queue feedback ranges from the useless (“you suck, and so does your mom!”) to the perplexing (“it didn’t work”) to the helpful (“the navigation on step 3 looks different on an Android phone”) to the impossible (“can you get us screenshots of every dialogue box in Japanese?”).

        Minor changes to content can be made without additional input, but major changes can be quite complex and involve a lot of back and forth. In some cases, we need to reach out to stakeholders in other parts of the business (product managers, brand managers, Legal, PR, etc.) for information or approval. In most cases, it’s simplest for everyone if we create a draft, send it out to our single-point-of-contact manager, and then have him/her funnel it to the correct people and gather their input. Where we have established relationships outside our department, we gather input directly from the relevant stakeholders. It can be challenging to do this at times, because everyone’s busy, content changes can be controversial internally, and people change roles around here a lot. The guy who was your go-to last week might be in a different job this week.

        Once the draft is approved, we write it in html in our publication tool and send it to our localization manager, who exports it for translation. We notify the geos by email that the content has been updated and to look for a translation in about a week. We work with a translation service who charges by the word, so we’re ever cognizant of minimizing changes, using similar language across articles, and making minor changes in-house when we can. (Each of us knows enough of at least one language to be dangerous, though none of us are truly multilingual.)

        We then put a notification in the internal blog we use to alert our agents to changes in content. This is my favorite part of the job. I really enjoy creating eye-catching memes and writing engaging content for our agents. I know they have a tough job, and it’s satisfying to inform them and sometimes even make them laugh. They can comment on these posts, so it’s also part of our role to respond to those comments.

        We also do project-based work, which can take us away from the queues for extended periods. If a new product launches, for example, we write the FAQ content for our support site, which typically involves beta-testing new products as a way to develop content. Because we aim to have content available and translated at launch, it’s necessary that we create that content well before the product hits market, or in some cases is even announced. Typically we sign NDAs and keep our drafts very tight throughout the approvals process.

        When we launch a new geography, that’s a big project as well. We have to audit all existing content and decide what to export and what needs to be localized. (Process and policy content, for example, tends to vary greatly by country and region.) We are often in-country for those launches so that we can be on hand to respond to emergent needs.

        We’re perpetually on call. If something newsworthy happens–the site crashes, we’re in the news for the wrong reasons, a standard process stops working, etc.–we must alert the team right away and make any necessary content changes. This can be a little harried. (True confession: I love this part of the job! I think I’m a bit of an adrenaline junkie.)

        Periodically, we make changes that requires a full audit of our content. For example, if we update our html template or change the categorization tree for our articles, we must review and update everything accordingly. These tend to be crazy, all-hand-on-deck efforts, with long hours and beer in the office fridge.

        A weird but interesting part of my job is managing the internal known issues list for our site and product. Any issue that a consumer is somewhat likely to encounter has a name, a description, a bug-tracking ticket, a required categorization, and an escalation path. I create and maintain all that content. It’s significant, and probably takes the equivalent of at least half a day of work each week.

        I’m also the de facto go-to for product knowledge in my department, so everyone does drive-bys and asks me the obscure questions no one else can answer.

        Sorry this is so long! I guess I do a lot of stuff.

      1. C Average*

        The hardest part is knowing answers and not being allowed to share them. There are times when a topic is just something we’ve decided as a brand not to touch, even though we know our audience has questions about it. I hate having to give dodgy non-answers to good questions.

        The part that gives me the best sense of accomplishment is when I see that a new article we’ve created is getting a lot of page hits, and that we’re getting either fewer contacts about the topic (if it’s an FAQ) or that we’re seeing a higher solve rate (if it’s an internal knowledge base article). The numbers don’t lie!

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Regarding your first paragraph: Do you every have times where you tell them that you think they do not need to be dodgey. Here is why ___? Or is this decided by the PTB and you have no say?

    4. LPBB*

      Thanks for posting this here! I’m the one that asked for more info and did want to follow up a little bit about it. I have a library science degree and have come to realize that the aspect of library work that appeals to me most is organizing, maintaining, and sharing information. I never really wanted to work in a public or academic library, I was always more interested in special libraries or non-traditional librarian roles.

      Going from your description, it looks like I really need to bump up my tech writing skills. I keep meaning to take