open thread – March 6, 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 :)

{ 1,574 comments… read them below }

  1. cat*

    I have a crazy situation that I just need to vent about/get advice on:

    I’ve been job searching, but I’ve also been really picky – the position has to be in the right location, has to be stable and, most importantly, has to be a step up from where I am now. I’m also currently a Chocolate Teapot Strategist, so it has to be a strategy role.

    So when I got a call from Gunn, who works with an outside recruiting company, about a position posted with them that fit all of those requirements, I was really excited. It was a step up, had a direct succession plan (huge promotion planned for two years) and was in the perfect location. Gunn submitted me for the role, but then I didn’t hear back for several weeks.

    Then, pretty much out of the blue, I was contacted by Winifred, a second recruiter from the same company about that position – apparently, there was an internal candidate they originally wanted, but he bombed the interview, so they were searching again and now wanted to talk to me. Great! I set up an initial phone interview with Angel, the person who would be my boss.

    The phone interview went well except for one not-so-small thing: The job, which had been pitched to me as Chocolate Teapot Strategist, was actually Chocolate Teapot Sales Support. Meaning that instead of setting the teapot strategy, I’d be enforcing teapot standards – telling teapot makers exactly how curved the handles should be, the diameters of the lids, etc. That’s not my bag; I’ve done it before, I hate it, I actually left a past job because of it.

    So I told Winifred that the job wasn’t as described and that I didn’t feel great about how the company saw the position and the day-to-day duties of the role. But Winifred convinced me that Angel was probably just focused on sales support because he’d just returned from a teapot sales convention, so it was top of mind for him and everything she had heard was that it was a strategy role. I wasn’t sure I believed her, but I liked Angel well enough and I was still enthralled with the idea of the perfect location and a job with real stability and a succession plan, so I proceeded to the onsite interview.

    The onsite interview was a mess. I drove for 17 hours round trip because the recruiting company convinced me that Angel’s company wouldn’t pay for airfare but would pay for a rental car. When I got there and mentioned my trip to Angel, he was horrified and said, “That’s insane. We have plenty of cash and would have paid for a flight without a problem.” Then my meeting with Angel and his direct report, Cordelia, was only an hour long (after all of that driving). We covered many of the same things that we’d discussed on the phone, and I walked away from the interview feeling even more certain that the role was sales support, not strategy. Which I again told Winifred the next time I talked to her. But again, she was pretty dismissive of my concerns and offered to set up a final phone call between me and Doyle, the head of teapot sales and strategy. Fine, at this point I have nothing to lose, I figure.

    So I talk to Doyle and it’s achingly apparently that the role is sales support. I quizzed him on every aspect of the role and I hear absolutely nothing related to strategy. At this point, I’m not interested in the role and I convey that to Winifred.

    But apparently she doesn’t pass that on, because a day later she calls me to tell me that the company is making me an offer. Fine, I’m a curious person, send it over. Three days later, she does (as to why it took three days, I don’t know).

    I review the offer and it’s just not enough to ever make me want to do sales support – it’s a bit above what I’m making now, but with two fewer weeks of vacation (yes, I’m spoiled at my current company, which is part of why I’m being picky) and with no relocation assistance. There’s no way I can take the job and no way I would want to, given that, again, it’s not the kind role I originally thought I was interviewing for. So the next morning, bright and early, I call Winifred and tell her exactly that.

    That’s where the chocolate hit the fan. Winifred freaked out and got Gunn involved and both of them spent the entire day calling and texting me, harassing me for several hours until I finally called Gunn and straight up told him no. At which point Gunn got Lilah involved – Lilah, the head of the recruiting company. She sent me a series of very passive-aggressive text messages (including one that said, “Your behavior from offer to acceptance can influence the outcome of this,” like, 1) duh and 2) I already declined, so what other outcome are you looking for here?) and rude emails.

    Then, the next day, Lilah called the company that offered me the job to confirm that it was a sales support role (in essence, calling me a liar, or perhaps assuming that my strong rejection was just a negotiation tactic). Then, several hours later, she texted me to say, and I quote: “The offer has been rescinded.”

    Short of picking my jaw up off the floor, I don’t know what to do. After everything I went through, I certainly didn’t want this job, but I didn’t go into the process trying to deceive anyone – it was pitched as a strategy job and when it became clear it wasn’t, I tried multiple times to bow out but in the end just had to reject the offer. Now I feel like I’ve been fired after I quit, and I’m trying to figure out whether or not I should reach out to Angel directly to tell him all of this – I liked Angel, I liked the company, but the role wasn’t a good fit for me and in any other situation I feel like we could have just shaken hands and walked away amicably. But now I worry that the recruiting company has badmouthed me in some way that made Angel rescind the offer, and I’m not sure how I feel about that if I ever want to work for that company in the right role. Part of me says that I would never want to work for a company that lets a recruiting firm like this represent them, but part of me wants to clear my name.

    Sorry for the long-winded tale – thoughts?

    1. badger_doc*

      Well that bridge is burned… You said you tried multiple times to bow out, but from what you wrote, I didn’t see it what way. It seemed that you expressed concerns but went ahead with the schedule of events anyway. Hindsight is 20/20 though, and in the end it seems as though you should have said no, not interested after the initial phone conversation. My experience with recruiters is that they have no idea what the job really entails. It was hard for me with an engineering background to take anything recruiters say at face value until speaking directly with the hiring manager. After you did that and got the sales vibe, you should have withdrew from the hiring process instead of going all the way until the end. Not saying they are wrong in the matter–they are assholes for the back and forth, rude emails/texts. But for next time, if it is not a good fit, don’t let yourself be talked into completing the process. Good luck in the future!!

      1. cat*

        Totally agreed that I should have been more aggressive in declining any further interviews after the first phone call with Angel; however, Winifred did talk me into giving them the benefit of the doubt and I was a bit blinded by the location (it’s somewhere I really wanted to move to) and the “director in two years” aspect. In retrospect, I should have walked away long before the offer came through.

        The More You Know: I’m certainly going to be very straightforward when interviewing in the future.

    2. hildi*

      I don’t know anything about anything in this realm of job searching, but I don’t think you have anything to lose if you reach out to Angel directly and say pretty much what you said here: “‘I liked Angel, I liked the company, but the role wasn’t a good fit for me’ and I’m sorry the situation evolved the way it did.” Then just see how he responds.

      If his tone is markedly different, then I’d say that perhaps Angel and the company he represents wasn’t what you thought it was and now you know (good thing!). If it was the recruiting company that was the terrible middleman in all of this, Angel might be feeling equally embarrassed if he thought the recruiting company didn’t handle themselves well, either. The point is that you just don’t know what happened on the other side of the fence and I know that I wouldn’t want to walk away from that situation cringing and wondering how I was thought of – particularly if you had as good rapport with Angel as you feel like you did.

      It seems to me the damage is done and by reaching out you’ll not only feel better, but you may be able to lessen the impact of this weird little disaster (on their end). Good luck – I want to hear an update!!

      1. Newsie*

        It does seem that Gunn and Winifred have previously misrepresented Angel’s opinion before (17 HOURS driving for a 1 hour interview?!). So I like what hildi is saying here!

      2. Persephone Mulberry*

        Agreed, and based on the recruiters’ actions to date, I wouldn’t take their word for it that the offer was “rescinded,” either.

        I’ve never worked with a recruiter, is it normal for every step of the process to go through them? I always figured they were more of the front door, and then once you’d been selected for an interview, you’d work directly with the company for the rest of the process.

        1. cat*

          My understanding is that most recruiting firms own your candidacy and that they’re paid based on filling the role – so they have quite a bit of skin in the game when it comes to getting candidates to the finish line. This recruiting firm was particularly aggressive – wanting to check in before and after every phone call and interview, wanting to proofread my thank you emails, constantly asking me to rate my interest on a scale of 1-10, when I didn’t say 10, asking me what it would take for me to get to 10… It was almost overwhelming, and for any other job I probably would have walked away, but I was seduced by the fact that this (at first) seemed to be the perfect fit for me.

          On the other hand, I’ve had great recruiters who were super helpful and one who even helped me with a salary negotiation (netting me $20k more!) even though I didn’t land the job through him and he had no vested interest.

          1. voluptuousfire*

            The one thing I found was odd that the recruiter texted you. No real recruiter would text any of their candidates. That’s really very strange. I’ve worked with recruiters before and not one of them has texted me personally.

    3. some1*

      Gunn and Winifred are outside recruiters and don’t get paid unless they place someone — you. If they were ethical, they would have searched harder to find a candidate who wanted to do Sales Support instead of gaslighting you by saying it wasn’t Sales Support when everyone you would actually be working with was telling you it was. They suck.

          1. some1*

            I was actually placed in my current role by an outside recruiter. She never knowingly misled me about anything or tried to pressure me into anything I didn’t want to do.

          2. Liz in a Library*

            My husband got his last job through an ethical recruiter who was awesome: helpful, kind, smart, and all around the kind of person he’d love to work with again. They aren’t all bad, and if outside recruiting was more of a thing in my industry, I’d definitely consider it next time I’m looking.

      1. cat*

        Thank you for saying that, because while I know that rationally, the way that everything shook out had *me* shaken (and, frankly, feeling like *I* was the crazy one).

        1. some1*

          Even if they originally mistakenly thought it was a Strategy role, one or both should have looked into it, been honest with you, and no punished you for decining the role.

    4. SouthernBelle*

      First, what a hassle! However, knowing how I (and others) hate confrontation, I can totally see me going through something similar to that so as not to make waves.

      But my thought regarding the situation centers around the company that you interviewed with. I think I would let the company know about the experience with the recruiting firm. It’s quite possible that they’re not aware of how the firm is operating and would terminate their relationship with that firm if they knew. Since you liked the company and it’s leadership, I think that it’s worth it to share it with them; especially if it’s a company that otherwise meets your criteria and could possibly have a position that you’d like to pursue someday.

      1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

        Where are they from? I was actually pretty confused – I thought Gunn was the company.

        1. cat*

          Sorry, I picked names from the TV show Angel, not realizing that the weird gender-neutrality of some of them could be confusing!

          1. Christina*

            I thought the name combination sounded familiar! Maybe the recruiters were secretly from Wolfram & Hart.

    5. Observer*

      I think you probably should have looped “angel” in on the conversation at some point. But that’s water under the bridge.

      Perhaps you could shoot Angel an email saying that you understand that the recruiters have passed along the fact that you declined the job, but it’s not clear to you that they explained why you did so. Since they took the time to interview you, and paid for your travel, you just want them to know what happened. Explain that there seems to have been some sort of confusion, as you had explicitly told the recruiters that you were interested in a sales STRATEGY job, not a sales SUPPORT or STANDARDS job. However, when you brought this up with them after your first pone interview, they they reiterated that this was primarily a strategy job, with just a touch of the other duties. When it became clear that that was not correct, you needed to decline the offer.

      1. OhNo*

        I think this is a good idea. Reach out to Angel, express your thanks for the interviews and the chance to come down and talk about the role and company, and explain that there was a disconnect between the way the role was presented to you, and the actual duties of the role, and that’s why you chose not to take it.

        I think it’s important to share this with Angel, at least to make sure that she has the actual reason why you chose not to take the position, and to let the company know that the recruiters are not behaving strictly ethically; they repeatedly misrepresented this role, which is going to make it difficult for them to find someone to fill it.

        1. Mander*

          I can’t see what you possibly have to lose by reaching out to Angel and explaining what happened. Maybe you don’t need to tell her all the details of how the recruiters behaved but I think the company should know that they were rude, misrepresented the role, and tried to pressure you into accepting the offer after it was clear you wouldn’t be a good fit. Also, if the recruiter tried to paint *you* as the jerk — which I don’t think you are, even if you could have done things differently — I think it could help you in any future networking if Angel knows the whole story, and hears it from you directly.

      2. ThursdaysGeek*

        Yeah, in hindsight, you should have asked Angel more about the strategy part of the job and emphasized that was what you were looking for (and perhaps you did and just didn’t say so above). But I agree that a short note directly to Angel, as Observer says, would be reasonable.

        1. cat*

          Totally agree – in hindsight, I should have been more vocal about what I was actually looking for when talking to Angel and Doyle. And going forward, that’s the main lesson I will take with me!

    6. TCO*

      That recruiting firm is ridiculous. I don’t think you have much to lose by sending Angel a brief note, letting him know how much you enjoyed meeting with him, and that it became evident through the interview process that this just wasn’t the role for you because the duties ended up being different than originally described. Don’t say anything else about the recruiting firm unless he asks–take the high road. Angel might catch on to the subtext anyway.

      I don’t think you have any reason to believe the recruiters when they say the offer was rescinded since they have lied to you several times about other things. Even if they did badmouth you to Angel, he met you in person and liked you, so he must know you have some positive qualities. If they did badmouth you, you might even regain some of Angel’s goodwill by sending a friendly note.

      1. The Strand*

        I wouldn’t take the high road, I would instead be extremely formal and polite… but tell them everything that they might need to know. Not that these people are cranks and so on, but that they continued to mislead you after you continued to try and confirm with them.

        You may not ever work for this company, but you would reap good dividends by telling them their relationship with the other firm is being abused.

    7. Steve G*

      I agree with badger_doc but this is also why, in my current job, I am not applying to jobs where I can tell its through a recruiter. I’m already turned off enough with recruiters from the 2008/2009 period when I got lots of call backs from recruiters, and went through their computer tests, etc….only to be left with the gnawing feeling that the job ad I responded to was fake…..

      1. cat*

        I usually subscribe to this policy as well! I applied to this role through an outside job site and was surprised when it was a recruiting firm. If I’d known it was through a recruiting company, I never would have applied.

        1. Steve G*

          A recruiter called me for a job that paid $14.50/hr when I was making $67K. WTF. You can tell from my resume that I have to be making at least in the mid-$50Ks, why the heck are you calling me for a job paying $14.50 without being embarrassed? That was weird….

          1. jamlady*

            Haha I had something similar happen for a position marketed at $50,000 and they were trying to pay someone $10 an hour. I actually laughed at her. I didn’t mean to, I was caught totally off-guard, but all I kept thinking was “maybe I should go get a job at Dairy Queen…” Haha.

          2. Anon for this*

            I really think they just send jobs to anyone whose resume dings a keyword. I get contacted by recruiters all the time for positions that are literally so far out of the ballpark for me I don’t know what they are thinking, except I can find mention of one thing that probably pinged them. Like they are looking for an Agile master and I have Agile on my resume because I used it at a recent job. But it’s extremely clear I’m no master.

            My husband also continually gets contacted by recruiters about a temporary job doing the same thing at the same company he already works for as a permanent employee. They aren’t paying attention. Well, some are, but it seems a lot more aren’t.

    8. SJP*

      Thing is though Badger I think really she doesn’t have anything to lose. The recruiters do seem difficult and the passive aggressiveness after you’ve declined the role is unprofessional. But if you have the email address of the Angel then perhaps email and just clarify.
      Something like “Good afternoon Wilifred,

      I wanted to email you to just clarify my position in the situation as unfortunately I do not know what X company have said. When I was first approached by either X and Y recruiter they specified the role would be a strategist role and I was keen to find out more information as I admire your company etc. From our first interview I really enjoyed speaking to you but I was unsure still of the role and figured that I’d like to come out to meet you face to face to find out more about the role and the company. I’d like to say at this point how much I did enjoy meeting you and that the company is great, I enjoyed the interview and thank you for meeting with me.
      Once I got home I did talk to Wilifred at X company and expressed my concerns that the role was much more of a sales support role and wasn’t for me. At which point I did say i’d like to bow out of the process but unfortunately it seems that wasn’t communicated to you by Wilifred. She did ring me later and told me about the offer for which unfortunately curiosity overrode me and in poor judgement I did look at what the offer was which im sure was viewed as rekindled interest in the role. Unfortunately I declined due to X,Y,Z as I am really keen to take my career in the strategic route but I really hope that experience hasn’t completely soured our relationship as I thought the company was great and would like to hopefully work for you in the future.
      In hind sight I could have done this, this and this differently but I wanted to clear the air.
      I hope I can stay in touch via Linkedin (or something)

    9. VictoriaHR*

      I guess I would have said in the in-person interview that the recruiting company told you that it was sales support but that you don’t want to do sales support, you want to do strategy. That would have eliminated any confusion right there.

      Also, I really need to binge watch “Angel” again…

    10. safe from pain and truth and choice and other poison devils*

      … in the end it seems as though you should have said no, not interested after the initial phone conversation.

      Short of psychic ability on the part of the OP, I don’t see any way they could have known to do this. Frankly, the recruiting firms sounds like a big bunch of pants-on-fire liar-liars to me.

      I will echo what some other people are saying: if you really hit it off with Angel and liked his company, I’d send him an email and / or schedule a phone call and – using carefully chosen words – tell him why things went pear-shaped, but that you liked him and his company enough to want to stay on good terms with them. I’m guessing he’ll be open to a talk, because he’s probably wondering “What happened?!” Ask him how he made it out of that alley, and make sure he knows that your interest is Strategy. You never know – he might hear of a Strategy position opening up and give you a call.

      1. A Minion*

        “Ask him how he made it out of that alley”

        I would love an answer to that question as well.

    11. dd*

      It sucks that this happened. I could see why the second recruiter told you it was what you were looking for when it wasn’t — she probably works on commission.

      Do everyone in your area a favor and write an anonymous review about the recruiting firm you worked with and the bad apples you dealt with. You don’t have to give any details but just let any future applicants know that they lied about the position they were recruiting you for and you had to drive very far for the interview, and that it was a horrible experience.

    12. So Much Misinformation*

      I think it is reasonable to contact “Angel” to clarify that while you liked the company/people/location the role isn’t the right fit; and that you are open to the right role should one be available (assuming you are open to this).

      One caveat-I suggest that you not mention the recruiting firm at all. Your goal should be to represent your own decision, your own professionalism, and if true your future interest in a role there. Whatever was going on with the recruiting firm is essentially an unknown [guessing at best] and you are better served not to put yourself into the middle of that. Establish yourself as a great candidate for the future if this company is one you would like to work for.

    13. Audiophile*

      I’m always leery of recruiters. I’ve bad too many get me in the door, only to be told they have nothing for me.

      Or in the case of one; I did a phone screen and got invited in for an interview. I trudge out in the rain on Metro-North, and the subway, get down to Manhattan. Only to have a 20 minute discussion and be told that the client is looking for someone with a business background. Well I definitely don’t have that, you couldn’t have avoided all this and told me from the beginning it wasn’t a good fit.

      That’s no excuse for their unprofessional behavior. I would definitely reach out directly to the client and tell them, you don’t think it’s a good fit, but that you liked them and the company and you’re sorry about the way things ended.

      1. Stranger than fiction*

        I too have had bad experiences although I’m sure some recruiters are decent. I’m an admin asst and one time I was contacted by one about a position for one of their clients who was looking for an admin with sales force.com experience which I have. I had a generic phone interview them they wanted to have a face to face. I was like this is awesome… But when I got there and sat at a large table with everyone from the CFO to the CTO etc it gradually became apparent they were looking for a DATABASE ADMIMISTRATOR for sales force.com! I had done all that prep work for nothing and walked out of there completely deflated. Clearly this recruiter did not understand the position

        1. voluptuousfire*

          I’m surprised you made it to an in person interview! There’s one thing having a bit of confusion about the role but then there’s outright fabrication. Did they fudge your resume?

  2. Anon for this*

    I got Job B!!!

    Ok, you may not know what I’m talking about so I’ll put a link below to the lengthy post I left last week about my looooong job search.

    So yes, I got Job B!! They offered me $4K more than the higher end that I asked for and $14K more than Job A offered me! Plus significantly more vacation (they are following this new “unlimited” trend).

    The best part? I didn’t even apply for this job. They found me! A recruiter that works directly for this company came across my *new* resume and contacted me about the role. Had I seen this job posted I NEVER would have applied for it. I would have thought it was totally out of my league. I met maybe 60% of the requirements, but the main requirement was 5 years of experience in this specific type of role that I don’t have at all. But they had a specific need, a skills gap, that I am able to provide. It feels really good to have a company/job of this caliber go after me and really believe in me.

    So, it’s true, folks: if you think you can do a job, apply for it, even if you don’t have all of the qualifications. You might have just the thing they are looking for. And get your resume out there so employers can find you.

    Also, the interview process was smooth and easy. Actually easy. I think that is because of the practice, practice, practice I’ve been doing based on recommendations from this site.

    I’m so excited. I feel like I hit the jackpot. I absolutely have this blog to thank. Once I started implementing the advice I got here everything about my job search changed. I mean, crickets, for years, and then suddenly I’m overwhelmed with interviews and juggling two job offers. A sincere thank you to Alison and everyone on this site. Your advice has been invaluable and has taught me a lot.

    1. Anon for this*

      Thank you! It still hasn’t sunk in. Nothing has worked out for so long that I’m sitting here waiting for something to get in the way. Or for them to call me to say they’ve made a terrible mistake.

      And the weirdest part is just not having anything to do right now. I’ve spent so much time looking for jobs and writing cover letters, that I literally don’t know what to do with myself during my free time.

      1. Nashira*

        This sounds like a good time to learn to paint or take up making Ingress trails. What a happy to have: free time because things are going well!

    2. Future Analyst*

      This is great news– congrats! Also, your story is starkly in contrast to cat’s above… so recruiters really can go either way, huh?

      1. Anon for this*

        Oh yes, I read that. I feel for Cat. I had a number of bad experiences with recruiters through my job search. They regularly misrepresented jobs to me. I learned not to trust them and ask what I needed to at the interview. The two exceptions were the two job offers I received and in both of those cases they were internal recruiters (or” talent acquisition”) that worked directly for the company, and in both cases they were great. But the Job B recruiter was truly phenomenal.

    3. Stella Ella Oh La*

      AMAZING! I’m job searching as well, this gives me so much hope! Congratulations :)

      1. Anon for this*

        You can do it!

        With so many short term jobs and not working much over the past 3 years, I really thought I screwed up my career for life. I was convinced I would have to resort to a low-level, low-paying job for several years and pay my dues in a new field before moving up. But I was able to hone in on the skills from the past that applied to the new direction I was taking and make a strong case for why I should be hired. I really don’t think I would have ever made that transformation without stumbling across this site.

        But yes, have hope!

    4. dd*

      I’m curious. What did you do to your new resume and where did you post it? Job board? LinkedIn?

      1. Anon for this*

        My resume used to be a list of job responsibilities. I also have had a lot of short-term jobs so I was cramming a lot of information onto it thinking that I needed to show all the things I can do. I changed the lists of responsibilities to accomplishments and removed about half of the information and focused only on the skills that applied to the kind of job I wanted. I added a highlights section at the top to list things that I thought were special (for lack of a better word) and to describe achievements that spanned the course of my career but couldn’t be pinpointed to one specific job (or could be pinpointed to all my jobs).

        I probably did my resume in a non-traditional format. I listed the job title, then included a short paragraph description of what the job was, then put 2-3 bullets MAX that specifically related to achievements at that job. Since I had some job gaps and my most recent position didn’t really have anything to do with the direction I was taking my career, I listed it (and one other job) at the bottom under and “additional experience” section with much more limited information, just to show I had been working.

        I posted it on job boards like dice.com (because I’m in a tech field) and other more specialized boards. I had a lot of recruiters contact me saying they came across my resume but didn’t tell me specifically where. I didn’t ask either, just sent them the most recent version of my resume and moved on from there.

        1. Stranger than fiction*

          This is beautiful and I wish more of my friends would take my advice on how important it is to Taylor to each specific job. I went through 3 layoffs in 5 years a while back but every time managed to find another job in about 2.5 months! They’d ask me how I did it and id tell them but often they continue to use a generic laundry list of job duties!

          1. Anon for this*

            It made a real difference. I’ve had similar experiences with my friends. Some who have been jobless for quite some time. I keep recommending this site and they keep not coming here and complaining about their job search going poorly.

            And I should clarify, I posted on dice because I *wanted* to move into a tech field. I wasn’t already in tech.

        2. Golden Yeti*

          Congratulations! As someone who’s been in the trenches for a few years, it’s always nice to see someone get out. :)

          Thanks for posting the explanation of what you did. I’d like to get into a more technical field, too, but don’t really have an appetizing array of experience. Plus, I’ve mostly done admin jobs, and I find it hard to separate the duties from the accomplishments. Any tips?

          Congrats again!

          1. Anon for this*

            My last job was an admin role and most of my previous jobs entailed a lot of admin work as well. I’ve had the same issue with writing accomplishments over duties. This time around I put things like “always met or exceeded tight deadlines”, “developed a reputation for X”, “brought Y up to date from months of backlog”, and “fast responses positioned sales team to regularly win competitive deals”. I also put some bullets that related to how quickly I developed a complex new skill. I’m not sure it’s perfect, but it seems to have worked.

            I think admins do a lot of coordinating and overseeing things. If that applies to you maybe try focusing on that. During the interview for Job A, which was an admin role, the hiring manager said to me “I manage everyone else, but my admin manages me.” I thought that was a really good way to sum up what a good admin does. When rewriting my resume recently I tried to look at my admin work as an integral part of organizational success and described accomplishments around how I contributed to that.

            As for getting into a more technical field, I probably have above average technical skills, but nothing like most people in technical roles. But I know I am good at this stuff and typically pick new technology up quickly with minimal explanation. I tried to demonstrate that I was capable of it more than the experience I already have since, like you, it was minimal in comparison to others in this area. I didn’t know whether I was on the right track at first, but again, it seems to have worked.

            I hope that helps. Good luck with everything.

            1. Golden Yeti*

              This is really helpful–especially since it sounds like we have similar backgrounds and aptitudes. Thanks!

    5. The IT Manager*

      Awesome! Congrats!

      So did you get offer from A before you got one from B and gave to delay them or did B offer first?

      1. Anon for this*

        Yeah. I got an over the phone offer from A on Friday and told B about it. They pushed up their timeline and gave me a verbal offer over the phone on Monday before A even sent the written one. I got the written one from A Monday night and the written one from B by mid-Tuesday. I didn’t have to keep A waiting long, thankfully.

        I was a nervous wreck turning them down because a lot of stuff needed to happen with B, but I knew they needed an answer quickly. Things with B seem to be moving along nicely. I’ve already gotten official welcome emails. Just waiting for the background check to clear, but that shouldn’t be an issue.

    6. Sidra*

      Dang, what industry/profession are you in? I could use a $14K raise and a decent vacation policy!

      1. Anon for this*

        Software. But this is a career change for me. By far the most I’ve ever made, by about $25K.

        1. Sherm*

          So you got some software certifications? I ask because I have a friend who is in a similar boat to the one you were in.

          And congratulations! I remember you, and that Job B was the better one :)

          1. Anon for this*

            Sorry, that wasn’t very clear. I’m coming from educational nonprofits and they needed someone on their team to fill an education gap for internal training. They have a lot of good tech people but they are not so good at teaching people. They wanted someone with a solid understanding of how people learn and who could create learning experiences that focused on professional development rather than just here are steps 1, 2, and 3 to complete this task. Also someone who can oversees the full scope of projects and maintain a broad view of project needs, delegating technical work to the right people without getting bogged down in the technical details themselves. I have some technical background but I didn’t need to have to extensive knowledge for this job.

          2. Anon for this*

            I did get some certifications recently but they were not software related. I think it’s more that I learned how to market myself and figured out exactly how to say I’d be valuable in a different role than I’ve don’t before.

            And thanks!

  3. Sunflower*

    Has anyone ever gotten the right job offer but at the wrong time?

    I recently decided that I want to do extended travel and then move to another city(I’ve been trying to move here for a while) when I return. This would mean I’d have to quit a job. Ideally, since I hate my job, I’d leave now. More than likely though, I’m going to have to work for another year due to savings and getting rid of leases. However, my job is not going well and due to financial issues my company is having, I don’t know how much longer my job is going to exist.

    I’ve been job searching for a while and at this point, the plan is to basically find a job that is in line with my field, isn’t terrible and pays well. I’ve been getting some interviews and I feel confident.

    Naturally though, now a great job opportunity has come up at a company I’ve been trying to get into since I graduated 4 years ago. Employees are happy, great benefits but it is most definitely a step down. The company will look great on my resume, I’ll be making more money than i do now(i’m very underpaid) but I’d basically be an admin for a person who does the job I do now. I’m also realizing that I’m not sure the job I want exists there. The company is large and who knows if I’d want to stay in the dept, but to get into a job similar to what I’ve been doing, it could take a year, or five or eight. There’s also no telling if this job could transition into the city I want to move to. My ambivalence is further complicated by me having people I know on the inside.

    I’m very inclined to take this job but I’m worried about the consequences if I leave after a year. If another job popped up here later down the line, would that put me on a companies ‘do not hire’ list? Also is it worth it to take a job to get your foot in the door if you are planning to walk out anyway? (Any advice on any part of this in general is appreciated!)

    1. NJ Anon*

      I would take the job and see what happens. Things never work out the way you plan them to.

    2. Dawn*

      So you have an offer in hand for the company you’ve been trying to get into, right? For more money and with a direct line (and potential for stepping into) a position that you want? Man, just go for it. Who knows what will happen in a year- you could fall in love with the job, you could get laid off, you could break your leg and not be able to travel, you could decide you want to travel somewhere totally different, whatever. “A good battle plan that you act on today can be better than a perfect one tomorrow.”

    3. Camellia*

      “…it is most definitely a step down.”
      “… but I’d basically be an admin for a person who does the job I do now.”
      “…to get into a job similar to what I’ve been doing, it could take a year, or five or eight.”
      “I’m also realizing that I’m not sure the job I want exists there.”
      “There’s also no telling if this job could transition into the city I want to move to.”

      For me, these issues would outweigh “…employees are happy, great benefits”, which seem to be the only positives in your comment.

      1. Dynamic Beige*

        While Camellia brings up some good points, my question is: how committed are you to taking a year off and travelling? I mean you’re on different tangents here, you want to go travelling, you want to move up in your position. If you took this job and within a few months you did get moved up into a position you wanted, would that permanently shelve your travelling?

        If you are definitely, 100% committed to going travelling in a year’s time, then taking a job that’s a step down but pays more at a company you’ve wanted to get into is just a stepping stone to your ultimate goal — going travelling. You’d be making more money (which hopefully means you could save more for your trip), at a job that might have fewer responsibilities, leaving you more free time to prep for your trip. Researching where you want to go, the prices of things, getting into better shape (how far can you walk with a heavy backpack?), shedding your personal possessions either by giving away/selling things you don’t want/need or finding places to store them for while you’re gone, learning how to travel light/what you would need to pack.

        If you did take this new job, you wouldn’t have to tell them what you’re planning, it could be something that gradually evolves over the time you work there. One person I worked with also wanted to backpack through Europe, they were given a 6 week leave of absence (unpaid) to do so which was also to the company’s benefit as that was the slow time of year.

        I guess I just don’t see the point in staying at a job you’re unhappy in, where you’re paid less for another year. A lot of things can happen in a year but the only thing that’s guaranteed if you stay at your job is misery from the sounds of it.

        1. Sunflower*

          What you say makes a lot of sense. Traveling is my main goal- for now. Obviously once I get back my goal will be to focus on my career. Traveling originally came up because I’ve wanted to relocate for years, have been getting no bites on my resume and decided I’d be okay with moving without a ‘career’ job and just picking up odd jobs to pay bills while I searched. I thought if I’m doing that, I might as well do things in between that I can’t do when I have a job hence extended travel. And now that I’ve been looking into it, I can’t imagine not doing it.

          The only reason I’m worried about the step down is that it’s giving me less to work with on salary front. The lowest number I would take the job for is a stretch for the position. The number I really want is in line for the rest of the jobs I’ve been interviewing for. My current salary is barely enough to pay my bills so staying at my current job is really doing nothing for any of future goals.

          I’ve wanted to travel a lot in the past but it always came up that I’d be missing out on career stuff if I did. Now that I realize that yes, i will miss out on some career stuff, I’ve come to terms with it and I’m fine. It sounds cliche but you only live once and doing extended travel isn’t something you can do at any point in your life. I don’t know how I’ll feel after I take/turn down this job but I know I’ll regret it forever if I don’t take a long trip of some sorts

      2. AcademicAnon*

        The “due to financial issues my company is having, I don’t know how much longer my job is going to exist” would outweigh those other consideration for me though.

    4. Future Analyst*

      Take the job! There’s no way to predict how these things will work out, and since you know you’re very interested in the company, take the chance to see it from the inside. That kind of intel is invaluable down the line. And I wouldn’t worry about being placed on a “do not hire” list if you leave after a year — unless you’re planning to leave on bad terms, it’s not a reason to avoid taking the job.

    5. Beancounter in Texas*

      So long you don’t lie to them and tell them you have plans to stick around for a few years, I’d think it’s very normal to work for a year and move on. And as NJ Anon points out, plans change. Perhaps the position you’ll be assisting becomes vacant and you are a perfect candidate for the job. Do the best you can, continue on your current plan and say adios later. This a professional arrangement. If you were an excellent employee the first time around, they’d probably welcome you to apply again for a position in the future. Take the job and pursue your plans. Good luck.

    6. Wolfey*

      Hey Sunflower! Congrats on the opportunity! Choices sometimes suck, but not as much as having no choices, right?

      I think this comes down to 2 things:
      1) How much do you want a change? Is your unhappiness more tied to your current job (to be cured by new job) or to a general sense of stagnation/claustrophobia/etc (to be cured by travel)?
      2) What kind of upward mobility is there at this company?

      I don’t think you should take the job if you are really committed to traveling. It’s not fair to them, and it will reflect badly on you if you ever wanted to work with them again. And it will kill your travel momentum, especially if you relocate. I also don’t think you should take the job if you know that you’ll be bored and it’s unlikely to change soon. It would be better to say, “I REALLY like you guys, but this position isn’t the best fit. Please keep me in mind for others,” and then check back frequently.

      You should take the job if you think you can be happy in your city for another couple of years at least, and if you sense that the move would not only boost your paycheck but help out your career. Maybe that means doing admin for a year (not terrible) before moving up.

      FWIW, when interviewing for the job I just gave notice at I told them straight up that I would probably only stay for a year since this isn’t my jam, but I had good experience and would do a stellar job for that year. They took me anyway, I gave them my best, and now I can put a positive spin on my short stint. Maybe you could be similarly upfront? “Look, I really like your company but this position is a step below what I do now and it’s unlikely that I’d want to do it long-term. What kind of opportunities for advancement are there?” It may not work out, but if you wouldn’t otherwise be happy then it’s a worthy risk.

      1. Sunflower*

        Hey thanks! This opportunity came out of nowhere as the job was never posted and someone recommended me internally. They only contacted me on Monday about the job, I’ve had 3 interviews this week an I’ll hear on Monday. The salary could end up being an issue as the lowest number i would take is in their range, but really high. I wouldn’t be relocating for this job but I really want to relocate eventually. My plan was to travel and then just move on my own since I’m not getting anything from sending my resume out in my current spot.

        I’ve been trying to get into this company for a while because I know people who work there and love it. However, I’m now realizing I don’t know if they job I want there exists. They are also very aware this job is a step down for me and everyone I’ve interviewed with has asked how I feel about that. I’m okay with it for now, I wouldn’t mind doing it for a year or two. I’ve asked about growth and they seem really committed to helping their employees grow internally but there is really no direct path and who knows when a position will open up.

        I’d say my happiness is more tied to my job although I am somewhat clueless about where I want to go in my career. Travel is just something I want to do and I feel the older I get, the less able I’ll be to do it. The more money you start making, the further along you get, the harder it is to do it. It’s not something I necessarily need to do now, but it’s something I know I’ll regret if I don’t do.

        I would love to do contract jobs but they don’t seem very popular in my industry. The idea of staying put somewhere for 10 years really freaks me out!

        1. Wolfey*

          You mentioned above that your current job barely covers the bills, which I missed before. If that’s true then it might not make as much sense as I thought to stay, because then how would you even save for travel? I still wouldn’t take a new job without being really upfront about my eventual plans to travel if I was committed to it, but I might push back my travel date if there was a year-long opportunity with more money I could use to save. Ultimately I wouldn’t want to burn bridges, and the best way to do that is to not give false impressions.

        2. Stranger than fiction*

          Excuse me if this sounds naive but why would one need to travel for a year straight? Why not just take a one to two week vacation to somewhere awesome once a year?

          1. Wolfey*

            There’s nothing inherently special about traveling for exactly 365 days, but there is something qualitatively different between a 2 week destination vacation and X months of extended travel. I’ve done a lot of both and each has its strengths, but 2 weeks isn’t going to scratch the itch to explore widely, compare lots of different experiences, and to enjoy transformation. It’s the slow cooking in extended travel that makes it special.

  4. Swarley*

    I have a phone interview today. I would very much appreciate some good vibes. Thank you!

    1. Swarley*

      Thank you all! I think it went well. And I was able to work in Alison’s favorite question to ask the hiring manager. It definitely had more of a conversational flow than a question and answer session. We’ll see!

  5. ACA*

    I reached out this morning regarding the job I interviewed for two weeks ago, since I hadn’t heard anything since then, and apparently their timeline has been delayed for “a number of reasons.” On the plus side, it sounds like I’m still in the running!

    1. Dawn*

      Yay! I’m kind of in a similar boat- I got an email on Monday saying “We want to utilize your skills and talents, I’ll contact you on Thursday” and then yesterday was a snow day, so I’m sitting here on pins and needles waiting to hear back!

      May you be able to have lots of patience and may they want to bring you in!

  6. CrazyCatLady*

    Resume question!

    I worked at Company A for 10 months, then left for a new position at Company B. I was at the new position for only 5 months and left (on good terms, and ended up consulting for them on one aspect of the job for another 4 months). I came back to Company A (same position). Should I even include Company B on my resume at all? If so, how would you recommend listing it? For what it’s worth, I did have some pretty decent accomplishments in my short time there.

    1. The Office Admin*

      I have this on my resume! I list Company B sandwich between company A, because I’m proud of what I did and ok with how I left.
      Company A Jan 2014 to present
      stuff
      stuff
      stuff
      Company B Sept 2013 to Jan 2014
      stuff
      stuff
      Company A Aug 2011 to Sept 2013
      stuff
      stuff
      stuff

      1. CrazyCatLady*

        Have you had interviews since this situation? I’m assuming interviewers would bring it up – how do you talk about why you left after such a short time?

        1. fposte*

          Are you hunting right now? If so, how long has your last stint been at Company A?

          If you’re not hunting, the longer that last stint the less likely it is that anybody will care about the Company B interlude or bring it up.

          1. CrazyCatLady*

            I’m keeping an eye out but not full-time actively job-hunting. I’ve only been back at Company A for 5 months, so ideally, I’d like to stick it out a little longer before moving on to something else. So are you saying if I stay here long enough, I shouldn’t even include Company B, or just that no one will care? Also, for what it’s worth, my past job history has been stable (7 years at the job before Company A, 2.5 years at a job prior to that).

            1. fposte*

              More the second, but even the first is a possibility. I do think it’s a good idea to stick it out longer, though; to have two under-a-year positions as your last two positions would suggest to me as a hiring manager that you may have itchy feet generally.

              1. CrazyCatLady*

                Yeah, it’s my goal to stick it out a little longer if I can tolerate it. I don’t know if it makes a difference, but the two recent jobs have been after a big relocation so I’m still “settling in” (it’s been almost 2 years). In total, I’ve been with Company A now for 15 months, just not consistently.

        2. The Office Admin*

          I’ve had interviews with two companies. I haven’t tried taking it out and leaving a gap though.
          I was asked once, the other one I brought it up to reference how I would handle a situation.
          Basically, I was an office manager, then I was a police/fire/EMT dispatcher for 3 months, then went back to office management. And I always just say, I loved being a dispatcher(I did, it’s a great job) but I felt like I wasn’t able to devote my full attention to the public who were calling 911 because I was also entering warrants and protection orders AT THE SAME TIME. It’s hard to explain in a text form, but taking a call from someone having a heart attack and transitioning back to looking up tattoos and past criminal histories was very difficult mentally. I could do one or the other, but both simultaneously, no.
          It gave me great experience, I always say, “you can’t surprise me, scare me, or stress me out anymore it just isn’t possible.”

          1. SerfinUSA*

            My partner just interviewed for a programming job (she did tech support etc for 5 yrs, 10 yrs ago). She is currently a 911 dispatcher and has the same issues with admin type stuff going on while handling actual emergency calls.
            Definitely a unique skill set :D

      2. PurpleMonkeyDishwasher*

        I agree about listing it, since it sounds like you parted on good terms and maybe had some worthy-of-mention accomplishments there, but in the interest of space-saving (and avoiding the obvious visual sandwich), I’d probably list it this way instead:

        Company A
        January 2014-Present, ROLE
        August 2011 to September 2013, ROLE
        Description

        Company B
        September 2013-January 2014, ROLE
        January 2014-March 2014, CONSULTING ROLE
        Description

        1. CrazyCatLady*

          Ooh that’s a good idea. I think it will work as long as I stay in Company A for a long enough time the second go-round.

  7. The Office Admin*

    Friday thread is awfully timely this week!

    I have been job hunting for a few months now, mostly looking at telecommute positions(my husbands job will likely move us around a bit for the next 10 years, I don’t want to keep job hopping) but I started looking for jobs in the area we will be relocating to..and I got not one, but TWO job interviews! Which is great, right? But, let’s focus on Job A, yes? It’s for a new location position as an office manager(what I do now, but corporate)
    Job A sets up a phone interview for last week with the recruiter. Goes great, she’s really nice, asks good questions, is personable, explains the job and the company well. Tells me to expect to work about 45 hours per week for the first couple of post-Opening Day months and that I’ll have one or two admin assistants. Asks me to set up a second phone interview with a couple people in HR at the corporate office. This interview also goes well, these two tell me to expect to work 50 to 55 hours per week in the first post-Opening months and that I would have 3 to 4 admin assistants.
    Then I get a call asking if I can go to the city the new location is going to be in(2.5 hours from where I live now) to meet with recruiter and a Director on Thursday(yesterday) at 5 pm, this is excellent so I don’t have to miss much work in the afternoon! Now, I’m pretty excited about this job, it seems like it would really be a challenge, allow me to improve my skills, ect.
    Yesterday, interview scheduled at 5 pm. I get there 10 minutes early, I can hear people talking in the conference room, so I wait outside. Another interviewee shows up at 5, he’s interviewing for a separate position and we chat for a bit, turns out his interview is at 5 too. So we’re like, are they interviewing in groups?? So we wait. And wait.
    At 5:30, they come out, say hi, and take the other guy in. And by now, any interview adrenaline is fast wearing out in me. I’ve been up since 5:00 am, I just had a 2.5 hour drive and I have a 2.5 hour drive home to make AND my interview is going to start who-knows-when.
    His interview ends rather quickly and they bring me in at 5:45.
    Now, normally I’m really good in interviews, but I could not stop myself from rambling to fill the silence and the director seemed incredibly bored, he had no idea who I was, didn’t read my resume, nothing.
    ALSO he said that hours for the first couple of months post-Opening would be 60+ hours and that I would have 6 to 8 admin assistants to manage. Interview lasted about 20 minutes, which is shorter than my two phone interviews.
    Does anyone else notice a trend here? The job just gets bigger and bigger…and they kept telling me, it will be crazy, the workload can be overwhelming, how do you deal with stress?(warning bells, so many warning bells)

    Sorry for the wall-o-text, but this isn’t normal, is it? I’ve never worked in corporate setting before, wondering if the 45 minute interview start wait, and increase in job responsibility and hours through the process is standard.

    Also, I AM glad I went to this interview, because while I was excited about it, I was also worried about the work/life balance and a bit unsure. Now, I don’t think they’ll offer me the position, but if they do, I think I would turn it down.

    What does the AAM community think?

    1. hildi*

      Shoot, I would turn it down. I don’t blame you. I’m not experienced with the corporate world, either, but whether your interview experience is normal or not it doesn’t sound like a company I’d want to work for. It seems to me and I know this theme has been repeated on AAM many times, but a good company should want to present themselves in the best light to the candidates, too, right?? So if you had warning bells, I say trust your gut. The comments over the years are filled with people that didn’t and wish they had.

    2. Rex*

      It seems like you’re not in a position where you have to take any job you can find, and you already have another interview lined up, right? Sounds like you should withdraw from this one.

      1. The Office Admin*

        Yes, luckily, we aren’t moving for a couple months so I have time to look for a new job while still employed in our current town.

    3. Dawn*

      They sound like they don’t know what they want for this job, or like they know that it’s going to scare people away if they tell them flat out “Yeah it’s 60 hours a week and you have to manage 6 people”. At this point, just wait and see what they come up with- they might reject you at this point (since it sounds like the interview you drove to didn’t go so well, which was not your fault!) or they might send you an offer and you can think long and hard about if it’ll be worth it.

      Personally, I would be really hesitant to take a job that’s going to ask you to run ragged for an undefined period of time with vague mentions of when or how it’ll taper off. There’s been way, way, way too many people on AAM with stories of jobs that started that way and then never, ever let up.

    4. YandO*

      Office Manager is not the kind of position that translates into telecommuting nicely. You kinda need to be there in order to ensure things runs smoothly.

    5. Future Analyst*

      Run away! It sounds as though they either don’t know what their expectations are for this position (which will end poorly), or they are not telling everyone the same information (which will end poorly). I think you’re absolutely right to turn it down, if you get an offer. If the gap in what they initially told you and what you found out in your last interview was not as large, I would have pushed to clarify with them before you accept an offer. But at this point, it just sounds like it’s a mess, and you’d be better off seeing what else you can find.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I agree. What you saw here is only the beginning. It will be worse once you are actually doing the job.

    6. Sherm*

      1) They were rude
      2) They have given you 3 different answers about what the job will entail (so who’s to say that the job won’t actually be a 4th way?)
      3) Last but not least, those warning bells.

      Survey says: Run away

  8. Forrest*

    I recently had a life changing experience where I got to do an encounter with a beluga whale at the Georgia Aquarium. Basically, got to go in and play with the whales. It really made me want to do it again and it was inspiring. Its the type of nonprofit I’d love to work for. I saw that they are actually hiring for a position that is the next step for me career wise. Should I take a chance? I currently live in DC but honestly I wouldn’t be leaving much behind.

    1. RetailManager*

      It never hurts to apply! Just be aware that there is a lot of competition for these positions.

    2. OriginalEmma*

      What are the pros and cons of taking this chance? Do you have a safety net (emergency savings, etc.) if this dream doesn’t turn out the way you planned? I suppose only you can decide for yourself whether this is worth the leap. Good luck, though!

    3. Katie the Fed*

      If you’re qualified for the job, no harm in applying. But I’d have a better explanation for why you want it other than an experience with a beluga whale, because I don’t think you’ll be doing a lot of that in your job.

    4. hildi*

      Sounds like the makings of a good adventure to me! If it makes sense for you career wise, and you don’t mind relocating – go for it. Can’t hurt to at least have the experience of applying and hopefully get an interview! Good luck!

    5. SJP*

      Do it. I got a job in Canada as a ski instructor/lesson booking agent. It was a sort of break in my career but I was still young, and it was an experience I enjoyed and also hated.
      I learnt a lot about myself and my career and job norms.
      I worked with absolute arseholes who couldn’t run a piss up in a brewery but the fun I did have I wouldn’t change for the world and it taught me a lot about myself.
      So do it!! Good luck

      1. SJP*

        Im from the UK if that helps so I upped and left basically and only knew 1 person I’d be working with. I’d never travelled before and it taught me independence, thinking for myself, looking after myself, professionalism when others were wildly unprofessional (letting people who do drugs still do them when it’s common knowledge for example) and stuff.
        Sometimes these are big leaps but they teach you a lot about yourself…
        Would I do it again, absolutely. But I’d do a hell of a lot of things differently

    6. Sunflower*

      As long as you’re qualified, no harm in applying. I would make sure to just consider how the non-profit runs. Just because they have a great mission doesn’t mean they are functional!

      And I would say never let the fear of relocating discourage you from taking a job. You obviously aren’t tied to the area so I don’t think adjusting to a new place will be too tough for you.

    7. Bird Trainer*

      Check out AZAs website (association of zoos and aquariums). They have a great job listings page that includes not only “animal” jobs but also “office” jobs that keep the zoos and aquariums running smoothly. So if you’re not dead set on Georgia, and are open to relocating, it might be worth checking out.

  9. LillianMcGee*

    I think my office has the dumbest problem… about coffee! Here’s the sitch: Everyone complains that the coffee we buy sucks. This annoys the ED because she wonders why we are spending so much on coffee when no one likes it. I would say half the coffee drinkers go out to Starbucks and buy their own daily and the other half just drink the crappy coffee because it’s free (there is another group that either drink tea or nothing). When we tried to organize something like a “coffee club” where coffee drinkers would put in $5-10 per month to buy better coffee to make here, it goes nowhere because no one cares enough to want to spend the money. Or maybe they just like complaining. Who knows!
    Anyway, we are exploring other options because paying $80-100 per month on the coffee maker and supplies just for people to complain is too much. I think, since we are a small nonprofit (20ish full timers plus a handful interns), it would be worth sacrificing the coffee completely, but we are already in the process of downsizing so I fear it would kill morale.
    Do you have an office of comparable size? How do you handle coffee matters?

    1. Kelly L.*

      I guess my first question is, what makes the coffee suck? Is it the brand of coffee that is bought, or does the coffeemaker burn it, or something else?

      We have a Keurig, so everybody can bring in whatever coffee they like, but it’s an expensive initial outlay and it’s also bad for the environment, so YMMV.

      1. Steve G*

        Those K cups things are always subpar. No matter in whose office I’ve been (and I tried all the ones in mine) they all taste bland, or they taste really acidic but don’t have a strong coffee flavor. Not to mention the oh-so-non-environmentally friendly plastic Kcups.

        Classic drip coffee or an espresso machine are 100X better.

        1. H*

          My office bought a Keurig and the resuable Kcups, so people are free to bring in their own environmentally unfriendly Kcups, or their own ground coffee to use in the reusable ones. Not sure if that makes any difference in regards to the taste, I have yet to actually use the thing, but it does provide a more environmentally friendly option.

          1. NJ Anon*

            We are a small non profit and we do this as well. Company bought the Keurig; we bring in our own coffee. No muss, no fuss!

      2. themmases*

        I strongly recommend Ekobrew cups for this. They cost $5-10 each for the plastic ones. I had one at my old job and would make up to 4 cups a day in it for 2 years (I arrived at work at 7 am so my coffee habit was serious), and it held up great. They are way cheaper per cup than K-cups even if you get fancy coffee, better for the environment, and they taste better. I gifted mine to a coworker when I left that job and as far as I know it’s still going strong.

        When I looked up the spelling I saw that they apparently sell stainless steel ones now too– those might have even better longevity if an office wanted to provide communal ones and ground coffee.

    2. TotesMaGoats*

      It seems to me the easiest thing to do is just to switch to another brand of coffee. The club sounds far too difficult to manage for a small group.

      1. LillianMcGee*

        We have tried a few different kinds, and the ED is unwilling to spring for a higher priced brand. I think it’s a generic in line with a supermarket store brand. It’s unfortunate for the coffee drinkers that I am in charge of ordering because I don’t drink it!

        1. Anna*

          Former company had a lot of complaints about the coffee so they did a taste test and bought different brands and different roasts. People tasted and voted on the one they liked best. Guess which coffee won.

          You could do that and see what shakes out. The fact that the old coffee won in our office shut everyone up about it.

    3. Rowan*

      We all pitch in £5 and buy supplies (coffee, teabags, milk etc) from that. When we run out of money we all put in another £5. People who are fussy about their brand express a preference, majority rules or we get two jars as the unfussy people will happily use both.

      1. Sunflower*

        I agree. If everyone can’t agree on something that works for people, then no point wasting money..

        or just buy a keurig and let people bring their own kcups

      2. AvonLady Barksdale*

        I am late to this party, but I wholeheartedly agree. My office has a coffeemaker somewhere, but since there are only 4 of us, we don’t use it. Only 2 of us drink coffee, and we both bring from home or run out to the coffee shop. Personally, I cold brew and bring in a bottle of concentrate that I keep in the fridge. If I didn’t, though? I’d bring in a French press (they’re not that pricey) and some supermarket beans and take care of my own business. So much easier.

    4. TCO*

      When morale is low and people are (likely) already making financial sacrifices to work at your organization, I think it’s nice to be thoughtful about the little perks like decent coffee. How much would it cost to buy better coffee?

      We have a Keurig at our office and people can use it one of three ways:
      1) Pay (I think a dollar, I don’t use it) for each K-cup they use (honor system)
      2) Bring their own K-cups
      3) Bring one of those reusable K-cup thingys and their own coffee (maybe your office could buy a reusable cup for each person)

      Would people be open to that? While the coffee wouldn’t be entirely free, it still offers people the ability to drink the coffee they like and have a variety of cost levels depending on how much convenience people are willing to pay for.

      1. safe from pain and truth and choice and other poison devils*

        +1000.

        I’ve got a Keurig at home, and I like it a lot. I order the misc K-cups from Amazon, they tend to run an average of $0.50-$0.75 per (the pricing fluctuates daily). It’s fast, it’s low-maintenance, and I know people say it’s “ecologically unfriendly” but I don’t think there’s a definitive argument to be made either way.

        And if you can’t set it up for the office to share, the things aren’t terribly expensive. My boss has his own Keurig machine on his desk.

    5. Observer*

      Either you have a faulty coffee maker, in which case the solution is to have it fixed / exchanged; you’re buying a lousy brand, in which case it’s easy enough to change brands; or you have a bunch of people who like to complain in which case you give them 3 (and ONLY 3 choices): Stop complaining, suggest – as a group – a change the the organization can reasonably make, or give up the coffee. Something like “We have a problem with the constant complaining about the coffee. In a week we will stop purchasing coffee and return the coffee machine, unless we either have a commitment from all staff to stop complaining about the coffee or a viable suggestion to solve the problem.” And, if people DO come up with a reasonable solution, you need to follow through.

      People who complain because they are essentially complainers or because they are unhappy about something else but won’t / can’t address that will continue to complain no matter what you do about this. But, this should work for the rest of the staff.

      1. LillianMcGee*

        I like that and I did suggest to the ED that she really just needs to put her foot down. I think ultimately they are just a bunch of coffee snobs. I’ve tried it and it’s really not that bad so I have no idea what else the problem could be!

        1. Kelly L.*

          I guess another question is, is it a problem in need of a solution, or is it just a thing to make small talk about? I think sometimes people bellyache about a thing but don’t care all that deeply about it; it’s more of a social ritual.

          1. LillianMcGee*

            It’s the ED’s pet peeve, and she’s been on it for years. I’m finally in charge of supplies so I’d like to at least try to present some kind of solution.

            1. Anonsie*

              Definitely try BYOCup for a coffee upgrade, cleaning the machine, maybe asking some of the complainers what the problem is (like if the machine’s hot plate burns the coffee really fast or something) to see if there’s another solution.

              On the other hand, be prepared to not be able to “fix” anything because, as Kelly L says, sometimes bad coffee is just a thing to talk about. It’s sort of a safe target for frustration. Though I don’t think this is so much the case here because your people are actually going outside to purchase coffee; if they were just complaining for its own sake, I don’t think so many would be refusing it entirely.

              Also, some people are just *really* snippity about their coffee. I’ve seen a whole lot of people refuse to drink coffee that isn’t freshly brewed who have a cool habit of dumping out whatever’s in the kitchen when they go there and re-making a new pot for themselves. I’m entirely happy to drink coffee that’s a whole 60 minutes old, so this drives me nuts because it seems like there’s coffee brewing more often than it’s available for a cup. So you may just have a high proportion of those people.

              On the other other hand, if your ED has been worrying about this for years but isn’t willing to spend and money on it and hasn’t ever figured out why people hate the coffee, I’m not really sure what type of miracles she’s expecting here. I think the real solution she wants is for there to be no complaining, since her initial reaction is to just take it away (??) rather than figure out better coffee.

    6. Laurel Gray*

      In JobManyYearsAgo I was responsible for the coffee. It was a start up and we ordered two different kinds of Starbucks by the case. It was brewed in a standard 10-12 cup pot. Just some suggestions:

      1.) Clean out the machine often. There is a difference. I even had one colleague that would put chicory occasionally in the pot and people would think I performed some kind of magic that day. We would both get a laugh.
      2.) Limit paper products/supplies that come with coffee to help cut down on additional supplies to be ordered. Make people supply their own cups
      3.) Look into ordering from Amazon or BJs or similar. Many of the local coffee supply companies are more expensive than these options and if someone is willing to order or pick up a month’s supply at a time, it is worth it.

      1. Kelly L.*

        This is another good point. Cutting out buying cups might free up enough money to buy a slightly better brand of coffee.

        1. Natalie*

          In particular, if you have a dishwasher in your office there’s no reason to use paper cups.

          For further cost-cutting, I’d say don’t buy cream – those little creamer things are pretty expensive, powdered creamer is utterly pointless*, and lots of people don’t take cream for whatever reason. If people want cream, soymilk, whatever they can buy it themselves.

          *In my favorite mystery novel series, the protagonist refers to powdered creamer as whitener, which is pretty spot on.

          1. Al Lo*

            That’s a very Canadian way to refer to it — CoffeeMate or whatever is called coffee whitener.

          2. Anon for this*

            Oh, I heard this recently on tv but I can’t remember what I was watching. I thought it was rather clever.

    7. Traveler*

      I’d say just quit with the coffee. I”m not a coffee drinker (which certainly influences my opinion here) but as someone who doesn’t drink coffee, listening to the constant stream of consciousness/arguments about the coffee at work is incredibly irritating. I just want to ask why everyone can’t just bring their own in a freaking thermos, so we could all quit wasting 10-15 minutes a day (on a good day) on what roast we have, who made it, how strong it was made, whether it was made correctly, who is making another pot, who has creamer, where is the creamer, do we need more creamer, maybe we should make another weaker pot after the strong is gone, etc. etc. etc.

      TLDR: Someone should do a study on the amount of time wasted by employees hand wringing over the coffee pot at work.

      1. Windchime*

        Yeah, it makes me happy that I just need to reach into my desk drawer for a teabag and I’m good to go.

    8. PurpleMonkeyDishwasher*

      It sounds like maybe you have some kind of vendor contract to lease the machine or something (given the ongoing monthly cost you stated), but with a relatively small staff, why not just cut the contract and get a regular 12-cup coffee maker? Even a good one should only run you around $50 or so. That plus telling everyone the new policy is “bring your own mug” instead of unlimited paper cups could help cut costs enough that you could afford a better brand of actual coffee.

      1. LillianMcGee*

        Yup, it’s a contract with a monthly minimum for orders type thing. I didn’t want to muddy the waters with all the details, but with the help of everyone’s suggestions I am working on a pro and con list for keeping the contract vs. making a one time purchase.

    9. Anx*

      I am having a very hard time wrapping my head around the idea of not having coffee at work to be a factor on morale.

      Fascinating stuff.

      I actually don’t drink coffee regularly, though. I suppose if people are addicted to caffeine and dependent on it, it may make sense for people to be able to get their fix as conveniently as possible.

      1. PurpleMonkeyDishwasher*

        I have worked in many suburban law offices, and I’m pretty sure there’d be a mutiny if you ever tried to take the coffee machine away – when you’re billing your time in six minute increments and you’re drinking 3-6 cups of coffee a day, you do NOT have the time for multiple Starbucks runs (particularly when a Starbucks run takes a minimum of 20 minutes because it’s the suburbs and there’s driving involved).

        1. Anx*

          I think I’m just secretly jealous of people who can drink coffee without getting sleepy.

      2. Newsie*

        Our coffee machine also take a few tea packets and one cocoa packet, for coffee abstainers. We’re just such a caffeine driven industry, I’d imagine a mutiny if the coffee machine was taken away.

    10. JB*

      As other people suggested, clean out the machine (with vinegar or something similar), and check to make sure the water you are using tastes good. Also, if you pour it into a carafe, check that. Several months back, our coffee was tasting terrible. We cleaned out the coffee maker and switched to filtered water, and it helped a lot but didn’t eliminate it. When we switched to a new carafe, it helped a lot. I don’t know what about our old carafe was causing the problem, but it was.

      Also, make sure the people making the coffee know how to make it.

  10. OriginalEmma*

    Any nurses in the house? What do you like about nursing, in general, and what do you dislike? How about in your speciality? What advice or warnings would you give someone considering a career change to nursing?

    1. TotesMaGoats*

      My sister is a pediatric oncology nurse. She loves it. I also worked for several years for an RN to BS program. Best advice I can give? It’s a hard job. Very physically demanding. And if you live somewhere with lots of snow, be prepared to have to work regardless of the weather. Try to figure out what population or specialty you like. Kids? Geriatric? Cancer? Community health? There are a lot. Luckily, in nursing school you’ll get to see a lot of different things.

    2. OhNo*

      Seconding what TotesMaGoats said: don’t ever let anyone tell you that it’s easy. Nursing is a tough field, and even though everyone always seems to be hiring nurses, I’ve heard that it can be a hard field to break into as a new nurse. If it’s something that you want to do, I say go for it! But if you’re just interested because it is considered a “safe” career choice right now, then maybe do more research or shadow someone first, so you know for sure what you’re getting into.

      1. Anx*

        “Nursing is a tough field, and even though everyone always seems to be hiring nurses, I’ve heard that it can be a hard field to break into as a new nurse.”

        This is so, so important. Just because demand in a field is high, doesn’t mean you’ll have an easy time breaking into the field. Nursing is no exception (depending on the region, of course)!

    3. Nurse Ratched*

      I am a nurse in an adult cardiac ICU and I absolutely love being a nurse! There are so many different opportunities that you can find the perfect career for you, from acute care to public health to academia. What I like about my specialty is that it’s very technical and complex, and we have more autonomy than other areas. It’s very fast-paced so you need to be two steps ahead of things and a strong personality is a must. I do 12-hour shifts and my schedule is very flexible. I’ve always been a night person, so I like that I work hours that my body wants to be awake. The biggest challenge I face is organizational issues, such as assignments that are too difficult, lack of staff, lack of supplies, lack of support for the bedside staff, that kind of thing. But depending on where you work you can have more input and control over this. The job is very physical, and even though I’m young and in good health I’m working on a Master’s in nursing education as a backup plan in case I’m ever injured and can’t work at the bedside anymore. I’ve seen a lot of career-ending injuries.

      For someone considering nursing as a second career, know that you’re probably going to have to have a BSN to get hired (and I won’t even start in on that can of worms). In my area hospitals won’t even consider a post-bacc certificate if you have a previous bachelor’s degree. If you do a program that’s mostly online, make sure they are accredited in your state or you won’t be able to sit boards. Know that when you’re new you’ll have to do your time on nights and work the holidays. It seems like the second career nurses struggle with that. We let interested students shadow nurses all the time, and you could probably do some informational interviews with nurse managers, too. Good luck! It really is a great career where you have a lot of flexibility and options!

      1. OriginalEmma*

        Thank you! I am more interested in nurse epidemiology, public health nursing and infection control. Your job does not sound like one I could handle (I’m more of a…medium-paced kind of person who needs to be able to consider her actions before taking them) but I appreciate your description of what’s good and bad and why you like it.

        I am looking at an RN-to-BSN course. I already have a bachelor’s but there are no second-degrees programs in my area that are accessible.

        1. Anonsie*

          Ohohohoo that’s a whole different ball game. Are you thinking a BSN-MPH type of thing for hospital infection control, or more from the public health angle?

          I cannot speak at all to the employability of infection control nurses versus any other specialty, but I can caution that public health in general is a rough field to find work in. Over the last 5 years nearly every state has gradually gutted more and more of their public health departments and spending, though there has been some improvement recently. That not to say you shouldn’t go into it, but you’ll need to be very strategic about what you do and where you’re willing to live.

          1. Anx*

            I can second this! I have been looking for a job in PH in my particular branch for 5 years and have only seen 1 opening for which I remotely qualify in my home state and only 5 openings in my current state (which doesn’t sound so bad, except that many were more admin based and were a bigger stretch to try to get). And I live in town with an MPH and MSEH program. It is rouuuugh.

            Nursing may be better, though. Public health is one of those things nobody wants to pay for until there’s a crisis.

            1. Anonsie*

              And then when there’s a crisis everyone gets mad at the public health system they wouldn’t pay for wasn’t omniscient and perfect and says we should cut their budget more. Hah hah hah.

              1. Anx*

                I imagine it’s expensive to hire infectious disease nurses ‘just in case,’ but certainly there’s a way to work out a system where infectious disease nurses are integrated throughout the hospital year-round. I actually think it’s important to integrate infection prevention specialists throughout all departments. Otherwise I think you run into people feeling micromanaged.

        2. iprn*

          Hi! Probably super late to this thread (I’m super behind on my open threads) and not sure if this will ever get read, but I’m an infection control nurse! Just some basics about nursing school – you can’t get into an RN-BSN program unless you actually have your RN license (either via an associate degree nursing program or diploma program). RN-BSN programs are for people who already have their RN license and would like to get their Bachelor’s in Nursing. I have my B.S. in Biology and my associate’s in Nursing. I highly recommend checking out Allnurses.com for info about the profession. Under the specialties tab – you can check out the “Infectious Disease nursing” tab where I occasionally post and you can post too to get more insight about the field. I love what I do but there aren’t very many openings for what I do. Every hospital has maybe 1-3 infection preventionists (our “official” title that our professional group is pushing to standardize) and you usually need about 2-3 years of bedside nursing experience before making the jump to the specialty. I will say I’m a bit of an exception because I got into the field as a new graduate nurse. Anyways, hope this helps out a little bit and good luck exploring the field!

    4. Wolfey*

      I have two friends who are having the hardest time breaking into nursing. one is in the Seattle area only, the other has been interviewing all over the country. One can’t find anything close to what she’s interested in and the other can’t find a job at all (she had to quit the last one because the shifts, hours, & stress actually triggered her auto-immune disease). From what they tell me, unless you are very lucky it’s all night/day shift rotations, terrible pay, and the places that are hiring are desperate for bodies because they are so poorly run. The debt is also really high.

      One friend said yesterday, “I don’t know where this myth about the nursing shortage is coming from! There are so many of us who can’t get hired!”

      Both of them are passionate about nursing in their respective fields (babies; infectious diseases), but I don’t think either would advise anyone new to go into it.

          1. CheeryO*

            Do you live in an area with a lot of potential employers, and if not, are you willing to relocate? Is it what you want to do? If you can answer “yes” to those two questions, you will be fine, even with one of the less marketable engineering degrees.

          2. Foxtrot*

            Definitely not a waste of time, but the STEM shortage is a myth…
            As long as you want to be an engineer, you’ll be fine. :)

            1. Wolfey*

              Hey Foxtrot! I couldn’t figure out your email after your offer to chat a while back. If you want to connect I’ll look for you in the AAM LinkedIn group.

        1. Anonsie*

          Ugh don’t get me started on this weird rumor that we don’t have enough scientists or nurses or doctors* or engineers or whathaveyou. I’ve been on my soapbox about it enough around here lately so I’ll just say toxic line of crap.

          *Ok we have health care deserts and a primary care shortage, but not a doctor shortage period. We have a shortage of MD/DO graduates whose debt load can support going into primary care or rural areas, but putting more people into med programs is nooot going to solve that problem.

          1. Anx*

            The STEM shortage crap is infuriating. I do believe that there’s a skills gap (though it’s woefully exaggerated), but I think that’s mostly a result of students having few opportunities to explore the field as they become consumed by memorizing the Kreb cycle and such. Also science classes often are focused on teaching what is known without mentioning what problems are trying to be solved out there.

            1. Sherm*

              Hear hear! The “skills gap” comes from employers being unwilling to train, even though the employees would be very bright and able to pick up new things in a short amount of time.

          2. Elsajeni*

            Ugh, yes. I understand how the “shortage” narrative arises — from the point of view of the patient, “You’re not getting your painkillers on time because we don’t have enough nurses” sure sounds like a nursing shortage. And “There are 45 kids in your class because we don’t have enough teachers” sounds like a teacher shortage, all right! But in so many of these cases, the reason we don’t have enough nurses/teachers/what-have-you isn’t because there aren’t any out there looking for jobs; it’s because someone in the decision-making chain isn’t willing to lay out the money to hire more.

            1. JB*

              That and the fact that there are news stories and “try one of these really hot careers!” articles on websites that talk about shortages. I’ve never noticed a nursing shortage as a patient, but I know I heard news stories about shortages for years.

            2. Lizzie*

              YES, she said after the longest week ever with a class of 35 kids. We would love to hire more teachers! We just don’t have the money to pay them or the classroom space for them to work in!

            3. Anonsie*

              Ding ding ding. We don’t have a staffing problem because we want to hire and can’t, we have a staffing problem because there ain’t no money to hire new people.

          3. OriginalEmma*

            And the incentive programs to get healthcare providers out in under-served communities look pretty laughable.

      1. Anna*

        Friend works at nationally renowned research/teaching hospital in our city. The problem isn’t a shortage of nurses; the problem is that surgeons book surgeries back to back and the administrators won’t hire enough nursing staff to cover it. They are constantly short on beds and short on staff, although always less bed than staff. Because that would be dangerous, right?

  11. YWD*

    What are some of your coworkers email habits that drive you crazy? I have many but I’ll limit myself to three.

    1. The person who sits 15 feet away from me and I see almost daily starts every email with ‘Hope you are well’. You know if I am cause you just saw me!
    2. The person who works in a different office and anticipates when I will read the email by starting with Good Morning or Good Evening. I don’t know why this one bugs me so much but it really does.
    3. The person who does not include information about the meeting in the meeting invite but sends a separate email 30 seconds later explaining what the meeting is about. (This person works for me and I told her to stop doing this.)

    I do wonder what habits I have that annoy others.

    1. LillianMcGee*

      “All staff” emails about pretty much anything. Especially outside-of-work things (e.g. “Look, this is playing at some theater nowhere near where you live or work!”)

      1. Rat Racer*

        Or how about when people hit “Reply All” to those messages and then you get 20 additional emails saying “PLEASE DON’T REPLY ALL!!!”

        1. Kelly L.*

          We have people who fight on the all-staff distribution list. Yes, people, I really want to fire up my email in the morning to find 50 messages of the two of you going back and forth about events from the Bush administration.

        2. Karowen*

          On the flip side, people who DON’T Reply All to messages that need a Reply All. Now I need to go find everyone who was on the original string and forward to them because you couldn’t move your mouse over about 10 pixels. (On a personal note, if one more wedding vendor replies just to me instead of to me and my fiance that I CCed on the original email, I will start knocking heads together.)

        3. Natalie*

          If you use Outlook, the “Ignore” button is gold – sends everything in that string straight to the trash.

    2. CrazyCatLady*

      1. People who take days and/or a follow-up email to even respond.
      2. People who don’t read through all related messages in or responses to a thread before responding. Most of the time in these cases it’s already been handled.
      3. Coworkers who are ridiculously formal in their emails to me, even in our very small office.

      1. Rat Racer*

        Ooh! I hate number 2! Except that if there’s a long email thread and the core issue is buried at the bottom, it’s a good idea to summarize if you’re bringing in someone new. Spare them the back and forth and “I dunno, ask Jim” replies.

      2. Kelly L.*

        #2 is the bane of my existence. I’ll get “ZOMG TAKE CARE OF THIS NOW OMGWTFBBQ EMERGENCY” emails about things that have already been dealt with, because somebody is reacting before reading their other emails.

        My worst habit is forgetting the attachment. I think I first heard this from someone else on here, but my tombstone will probably say “Oops, sorry, here’s the attachment.”

        1. CrazyCatLady*

          YES! I hate those – when someone freaks out about something that needs to be taken care of when there are three more recent emails talking about HOW it’s been taken care of already.

          1. Kelly L.*

            Oh, that, and freaking out when I BCC. I’ve sometimes had people convinced I’d messed up and only sent it to myself and the freaker-outer, when actually I had sent it to a big group, BCCing for reasons of privacy and space.

        2. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

          I just checked my sent mail box. There are 13 messages there with the subject line “Attachment issues.” Sigh.

        3. HR Pro*

          I love that Gmail (and some other email systems, too, I think) will give you a pop up that says “You wrote the word attachment/attached in your email but there’s nothing attached. Do you still want to send it as is?” That has saved me a couple of times.

        4. MJ (Aotearoa/New Zealand)*

          I was so delighted when our office moved over to Google Apps, because Gmail shouts at you if you write “attachment” or “see attached” or similar in an email and then don’t attach anything.

      3. Natalie*

        #1, this drives me crazy. It’s totally, totally fine that you can’t deal with my issue for a week or two, but could you PLEASE TELL ME THAT?

        I do a lot of work with the US GSA, an agency that clearly started as a performance piece satirizing hyperbolic depictions of government incompetence and waste, and was then accidentally mistaken for a real government agency. They are the absolute worst at this. There have been points where I genuinely felt like I was talking to a void.

    3. Rat Racer*

      I don’t know that the platitudes you mention in 1 and 2 would trouble me much, in the grand scheme of things. What drives me nuts are e-mails that come without context. Like “Hi Rat, should the number be 4 or 5 for next week’s meeting?” 4 or 5 what? Which meeting? What the heck are you talking about? I can’t follow your train of thought by reading your mind…

      1. Rex*

        I agree, YWD, I don’t understand why 1 and 2 bother you so much. Is it possible you just don’t like those people very much?

      2. Laurel Gray*

        I feel the same. I thought Good morning/afternoon/evening was more about what time the person was sending the email and less about when you would receive it. When something as simple as a greeting bothers someone I am more inclined to think there is a deeper issue or peeve there.

    4. Lo*

      I have a colleague who prints “important” emails after she sends them and puts them in my inbox “just to double check that I’ve seen them.” Maddening!

      1. CrazyCatLady*

        That is super annoying! It’s something I’d probably end up asking her to stop – or letting her know that I get her emails so she can save the paper instead of putting it my physical inbox as well.

      2. LillianMcGee*

        You can passive-aggressive her to death by adding the classic “please think about the environment” line to your email signature….

        1. louise*

          The first time I saw a note about thinking about the environment before printing, I thought “Oh, good point. We have a shared printer and this does have sensitive info. Wouldn’t want just anyone to grab it off the printer.” I can’t remember how long it took me to realize those notes refer to the meta environment, not my micro environment, but I felt really stupid…

    5. Lore*

      This is a combined phone/email peeve, but: our voicemail system delivers voicemails to our email, with the caller ID included. (So I’ll get an email with the subject line “Voice Message from Coworker X.”) So I find it really annoying when I step away from my desk, come back to find that not only do I have double notification of the voicemail (the red light on the phone and the email), but I also have an email from the same coworker outlining the same issue she’s just left a voicemail about.

    6. some1*

      Coworkers who send you an email and then walk over and want to tell you what was just emailed

      Coworkers who don’t turn off auto-replies when they return from leave

      Coworkers who spell my name wrong even though it’s right there in the email

      1. Kelly L.*

        Ugh, the spelling! There are two people in my office who consistently misspell my last name. I’ve been here over a year. Yes, the other spelling is more common. But my spelling on my email, it’s in my sig, it’s on my mailbox, it’s everywhere.

        1. Karowen*

          I have a woman who sits in the same (large) office as me and 7 other people. She keeps emailing me with a salutation of “Hi Joan.*”

          …My name is Josiann. You hear people calling me by that all day AND my name is in the email that you’re sending to me. I just…I don’t…Do you not believe Outlook? Do you not believe my friends? Where is the disconnect?

          (*Names changed, but that’s the closest I can get without revealing my true identity.)

          1. Pony tailed wonder*

            I have that too. There is one person that I just outright asked why they kept calling me someone else’s name. It stopped her but it didn’t stop the other person who still does it.

          2. OriginalEmma*

            SAME! My name is so close to a common European name that people think I’m intentionally misspelling my own name (think Dean vs. Dena) and “correct it” for me. I’ve even started using the appropriate accents in my name (which I didn’t use to do) to get people to recognize the difference but…no.

      2. Muriel Heslop*

        Or my coworker who emails me then walks to my office for a verbal response to what she just sent.

      3. Future Analyst*

        YES to the spelling of my name. My name isn’t very common, but it’s RIGHT THERE in the email… quit spelling it wrong!

      4. Joie de Vivre*

        +100 to the spelling. You got it right in the “To:” box, but by the time you got the body of the message, it’s wrong.
        Drives me snappy.

      5. Ihmmy*

        So much this. Especially 1 & 3. The other day someone I support in my role (but not my boss) came and started talking to me about an email she sent 45 minutes after I left the day before, and I didn’t start for another 20 minutes (union thing).
        3 I can forgive the first and even second office because there’s so many ways to spell my name. Even though my email is firstname.lastname@emailplace.com. sigh.

    7. Partly Cloudy*

      1. At my last job, people would put papers in my chair instead of my CLEARLY LABELED inbox on my desk if I wasn’t in my office when they came by to drop off whatever. If I did happen to be sitting in my chair, people would hold out said papers and wait for me to reach out and take them. Literally, if they had just let go, the papers would have landed in my inbox. I’d passive-aggressively take them and then instantly put them in my inbox while the person was still standing there.

      2. People who can see that I’m on the phone but hover nearby, waiting to talk to me. For several minutes, not just the few seconds it takes to get a feel for whether the phone call is about to end or not.

      3. People who leave a voicemail or send an email saying they have a question and could I please get back to them. WHAT is your question? I can start working on it and get back to you with some information instead of going in totally blind.

      1. Kelly L.*

        #1 once got to the point where I didn’t notice an important paper in my actual inbox, because no one had actually put anything there (instead of chairmail/keyboardmail) in months!

      2. beachlover*

        I worked with someone that did that constantly, even after I specifically asked them to put everything in my in box. I would go through my in box several times a day, and everyone knew that. (this is prior to email) After being ignored, I told them that anything on my chair would automatically go to the “round” file. I actually watched them place papers on my chair, walked in behind them and in full view “filed” the papers. They started putting things in my in box .

      3. Sunflower*

        3# makes me paranoid. Makes me feel like they want to talk to me about something that isn’t going to go well.

      4. DMented Kitty*

        #2 and #3! For #2, one time I had one guy just outwardly ask me, “are you busy?” when he can clearly see me in my headset, TALKING. He hovered about for a couple minutes until I paused my talking (but still listening to the call), and started asking me questions that are not urgent AT ALL! I was really annoyed that time.

        For #3 — I work as tier 2 IT support, and I hate it when Helpdesk just sends me tickets with the vaguest info. “Caller has an issue clicking a button.” Nothing else in the description. Which freaking button? Where? You realize there are a hundred possible buttons in our app?

        Also, those people who just sent you an invite to a meeting out of the blue without info besides the Subject. OK, so this meeting is about Chocolate Teapots, can you elaborate what about the Chocolate Teapots, as it seems like I was included because I get the feeling I need to do research on this first because it looks like you need my input?

    8. Laurel Gray*

      I have a coworker who mis and overuses the exclamation point in email. I can’t tell excitement or yelling at this point. She also does not use the subject line often.

      1. Future Analyst*

        Ugh. This is the worst, along with a thousand smiley faces. This is work, not your teenage diary.

        1. Nanc*

          Oh lordy, the thousand smiley faces on the email with the red ! begging me to help you on the thing you’ve know for 6 months is due tomorrow. At 4:45 p.m. After you’ve spent the day farting around on social media (yes, I can see your monitor from my desk!) and running around taking a survey on who would like different coffee. I’m going home and writing nasty things about you in my diary/slam book.

          Smiley faces do not belong in office emails, unless you work for the Smiley Face Corporation and are asking for feedback on the next upgrade/version.

      2. Rat Racer*

        I used to work with a physician who WOULD TYPE IN CAPS ALL THE TIME. It felt like she was constantly yelling at me. I think she meant to do it in lieu of bold face, or other more subtler means of emphasis, but there’s something about an all caps email that makes me feel like I’ve been scolded.

        1. Nashira*

          People in my office do it because they don’t realize the claims system autoconverts text into uppercase, so they leave capslock on forever. It takes all my willpower to not solemnly inform them that capslock is not cruise control for awesome.

      3. DMented Kitty*

        LOL I have one lady who had this in her email signature:

        “Thank YOU!!!”

        So I don’t know if she feels thankful for any help, or if she’s being sarcastic all the time?

      4. OriginalEmma*

        I have a colleague who drives her keyboard in caps lock cruise control. It’s awful.

    9. Ann Furthermore*

      This isn’t really a co-worker email complaint, but it’s an email complaint. I work for a huge, multi-national corporation. Every few months, we all (everyone in my company, plus everyone at the parent company and its other subsidiaries) gets an email encouraging us to reach out to our congressional representatives and urge them to vote in favor some legislation that is beneficial for the parent company. The funding debate is a hot-button issue right now, with lots of partisan bickering, posturing, and bloviating, resulting in funding being approved for the next 3-6 months.

      So an email signed by the CEO is circulated to all of us, asking us to urge our representatives to support this program, implying that if funding is not approved it could lead to layoffs or other financial hardships for the company. Then to add insult to injury, there’s a friendly reminder that since this is not specifically work related, we must do this on our own time.

      This annoys me in so many ways. First, what if I happen to not agree with this particular legislation? Why is my employer allowed to try and strong-arm me? Second, this comes off to me (and many others I’ve talked to) as if the CEO seems to think that every employee is a member of his own personal army of lobbyists who will do his bidding at the drop of a hat. Third, in my view it takes a lot of gall and audacity to pressure people in this way, when budgets are being slashed left and right and no one is allowed to add any headcount.

      Grrr.

      1. Liz in a Library*

        We used to get these messages all the time when I worked in the for-profit ed industry. So irritating! Doubly so because you can’t really complain about legitimate concerns about the job interfering in your political life because then you are anti-business!

        1. Ann Furthermore*

          Yes, this exactly! I’m sure my company has plenty of lobbyists at its disposal, and probably contributes to super PAC’s and all the rest of it, and yet we’re still pressured to do this.

    10. Margali*

      I try to keep the emails I send concise, and if I have multiple questions that need to be answered, I put them in as a bulleted or numbered list. There’s one person who makes me pull my hair out because he will respond to questions #1 and #3 with a yes or no answer when the question clearly required a more detailed response, and skip answering #2 entirely.

      1. Oh Anon*

        I used to work with a woman who would do this. It drove me NUTS! Eventually, I’d just have to call her because it was obvious she had a reading comprehension problem. *rolls eyes*

    11. Traveler*

      They never use it. And when they do, its to CC me on crap that is irrelevant to me.

      When people use smiley faces in emails. I appreciate the sentiment, because I’ve been tempted to do it on occasion to set the tone of my email but… 1. it just comes across as unprofessional 2. When John Smith Sr. who is anything but smiley or emote-y in person, sends me a smiley face in an email when there’s no reason it was called for I can’t help but wonder what he was thinking.

    12. Elizabeth West*

      People who email about something previously discussed in email but who do not include the rest of the thread in their replies.

      I DO NOT WANT TO SAVE SIXTY EMAILS IN MY INBOX JUST SO I CAN REMEMBER THIS CONVERSATION! D:<

      1. Dynamic Beige*

        The flip side of that is getting an e-mail that is a mile long and nothing but “see below”. I freakin’ *hate* that. You want me to do TaskA or this e-mail includes informationB that I asked for, is it really so hard to just highlight that, copy it and send me that one thing? Seriously, I have to sit here for several minutes reading through the whole chain to get the information I need? You obviously know your e-mail contains the information I want, or you wouldn’t have included “see below” as your comment at the top. Because I really, really want to scroll through a 50 page e-mail half of which is only people’s signatures or tangents or whatever to mine that one nugget of information I need.

        If I have a question about whatever “see below” is, I copy that relevant piece of text and reply back… then I get chastised for not sending the whole thing back. Uh, you don’t need the whole thing, I copied out the pertinent stuff you need to answer so you wouldn’t have to spend a half hour reviewing the whole conversation. The answer I need isn’t in the whole conversation, I just reviewed it and I only need this answered. I should start replying in red at the point I need a comment on and add “see below my question in red” but that’s probably what they want! Aaaugh!

        1. Karowen*

          The middle ground here would be to highlight it “below” in yellow and to copy it into the current email you’re talking about. Then they have the context and they can easily get to the part you’re discussing.

        2. catsAreCool*

          I hate that, too. If someone wants my help, maybe that person can spend a minute or so giving a decent description instead of trying to force me to spend 10 minutes trying to figure out what the problem is.

      2. DMented Kitty*

        If the thread is very long to follow, I typically cut out the irrelevant pieces of it if I want someone else to look at it. Like the “Forwarding…” or “Thank you.” or “Please advise.” pieces of the conversation. And include a brief topic of what I need from the person I’m forwarding to, pointing to the below text.

        I really hate it when people ask me to see “below thread, please advise” and I have to scroll through three miles of text and figure out which part they need my inputs on. It feels like they barely even glanced the email and just tossing the ball on to me, when sometimes THEY actually know the answer.

    13. VictoriaHR*

      The one older lady who “reply all” responds to everything with “Thanks Soandso!” Not even useful information.

      1. Lizzie*

        +1

        We get a lot of emails sent to the entire district (9 schools + central office, so we’re talking hundreds of people) concerning deaths of former staff members or family members of current/former staff members. I appreciate that the folks who send these want people to know so that they can send condolences, attend memorials, etc. – relevant information like that is always included. What I appreciate less is that so many people think that they need to “Reply All” to say “So sad,” or “So sorry to hear about Bill’s passing,” or whatever. Please, people – just send a quick email to the relatives! I don’t need 50 one-liners in my inbox from people about how Bill is in a better place now.

      2. DMented Kitty*

        I rarely reply all with “Thanks, Soandso!”, I only do it occasionally to my coworkers that I think would help the managers feel they’re being acknowledged and may help their ratings (e.g. “Thanks, Soandso! Great job on catching the issue!”).

        Otherwise, if I want to send regards to someone mentioned in a group email I don’t reply all, just to the person it’s relevant to.

    14. anonima in tejas*

      1) the use of the reply all at completely random/inappropriate times.
      2) thank’s emails.
      3) email replies that ask for information that I included in the original email

    15. VictoriaHR*

      People who don’t read fully before forwarding just so that they can pass the issue.

      When I was going through a psychological diagnosis, I told my director in an email (because he does not work in the same office) and that I was interested in a new job that he’d mentioned on a call that day, because it would be more in line with the limitations I have per that diagnosis.

      Then he immediately forwarded the email mentioning my diagnosis to the hiring manager for that job. Uh, thanks. That was sorta private…

      1. Kelly L.*

        Ugh, this too. It’s gotten to the point where I won’t say anything even vaguely undiplomatic in an email, because too often the person will just forward it absently to whoever I was annoyed at.

    16. Steve G*

      People who complain they get “hundreds” of emails a day, even though they don’t, or 1/2 are spam and you can just delete, and most of the rest are simple yes/no questions. Don’t complain about too many emails when you are reading the news on your phone in the middle of the day. Don’t be dramatic and act like you are so busy and important!

      1. attornaut*

        Ugh, people who complain about being busy constantly. We have someone who is CONSTANTLY acting like they are so overloaded they can barely function, yet I hear them on personal calls, or telling the same story over and over to different people in the office, or making things unnecessarily complicated for themselves. I think it’s a way of getting more attention/resources.

    17. just laura*

      “Cheers” and “whilst” and other British terms — from Americans. Sigh. This mostly happens from academics in English departments but it always grates on my nerves!

      1. Liz in a Library*

        Could it be somewhat regional? I don’t think of whilst as being a British term. A little old-fashioned maybe, but I see it in American writing fairly commonly.

        1. fposte*

          Really? I’ve never seen it from anybody in the US who wasn’t an Anglophile. “Amidst” I see a little more often, but not “whilst.”

    18. Clever Clogs*

      Unclear subject lines are a pet peeve of mine; a one word subject or subject lines that have the random attachment name set by our scanner can send me right over the edge. I don’t know why more people don’t edit or change the subject line to make it appropriate to the email.

      1. Dynamic Beige*

        I hate that, too. Sometimes I will change it because I can’t see how the other person can keep it straight either.

        Another thing I hate is the “Thanks Team!” mass e-mail… because someone is always accidentally forgotten, so it spawns another mass e-mail “Oh, and I thought I had mentioned Jane and all her valuable contributions to this project, but it was pointed out that I didn’t. My bad, so way to go Jane for getting us those TPS reports on time!” and then another. I get that people liked to be thanked for their contribution by name, but it gets ridiculous at a point.

      2. beachlover*

        +1, or no subject line at all! Also, when they change to a whole new issue using a subject line from another email. really makes it hard to search for emails.

      3. Sunflower*

        My one coworker writes entire emails in the subject line. Sometimes it’s okay but if it’s longer than a sentence…just don’t.

    19. A.K.*

      1. People who use generic subjects or no subjects so i have NO IDEA what the email is about before reading it.
      2. Related to 1. – people who reply to an old, irrelevant email to start a new conversation with me instead of just finding my address and composing a new email.

      1. Kelly L.*

        OMG, so much #2 there.

        Re: TPS reports due

        Message: Kelly, I need toner for my printer.

      2. Anonsie*

        Oh my GOD the people who reply to some old email for new stuff. Oh my god those people.

        1. Natalie*

          I got one of these recently that was the epitome of not paying attention.

          We sold a building months and months ago, so we don’t manage or it or have anything else to do with it. A tenant sent me an email last week about that building. She had found my email address by searching for the last email I sent her… which was the contact information for the new manager.

          After I politely explained the situation again, she asked me for the new manager’s contact information.

      3. Elsajeni*

        Aaargh, yes, #2! Come on — if you found that old email I sent you, you’ve got my address right there in the “from” box! You can copy it over into a new email! With a subject line related to your actual problem, and without a long chain of extraneous information at the bottom! (Can you tell I just got one of these?)

        1. Natalie*

          In outlook you don’t even need to copy it! If you hover over the name a box pops up with the address as a link.

      4. bridget*

        or the converse, where the email subject is 3-4 sentences long, with nothing in the body. A few times I have had to scroll down multiple times in the little window for the subject, reading one line at a time and trying to piece it all together, instead of a block of text in the body.

    20. Elizabeth*

      I’ve written about this here before, but at my last job, my boss would do double question marks after every question, no matter how mundane. To clarify, it wasn’t like I or anyone else had been avoiding answering it and she was annoyed or conveying urgency or something, this was just how she wrote out all questions.

      “Elizabeth, could you give Apollo a call??”
      “Elizabeth, could you place the order for our working lunch??”
      “Could someone bring the binders for the Historical Teapot Research Grant to the accounting office??”

      Granted, at this point in the job, everything she did annoyed me, but it led to even minor emails sounding manic/stressed/intense.

      1. Kay*

        Our PR person uses the ?! constantly. I have partial control over our Facebook page so I’ve gone back in and edited posts that have ended sentences with ??!!?!?!!!!. Not even exaggerating.

        1. Liz in a Library*

          Awww…but the actual interrobang (?!, I’m too lazy to look up the keyboard shortcut to show them intwined) is genuinely useful and is a single piece of punctuation!

        2. Elizabeth*

          Oh man, you nailed it. Boss lady did ?!, not ??. When I was typing it, it seemed off somehow. The last few months of that job were so frustrating, I think my brain must have blanked out many of the details to keep me from going nutty.

    21. Ann Furthermore*

      Here’s my all-time, hands-down best (or most horrifying, depending on how you look at it) story about email.

      Manager had an employee on a PIP, and was working through things with HR. The employee did not fulfill the conditions of the PIP, and so Manager reached out to HR to start the termination process. HR sent an email with the pertinent details to Manager, with “Termination of Employee X” in the subject line. Manager had the new message notification enabled in Outlook, which shows the email, who it’s from and the subject line in the lower right corner of your screen.

      When the email was received, Manager was projecting his laptop in a meeting to all his direct reports, conducting, of all things, the annual ethics training we all have to do each year. So all of his direct reports, including Employee X, saw the email with “Termination of Employee X” in the subject line pop up — and just to add insult to injury, it was a pretty big group, in one of the largest conference rooms in the building, that has an ENORMOUS screen so people in the back are able to see.

      According to what I heard, Manager slammed his laptop closed, and immediately went to the HR office. And was standing in the middle of their area, saying, “I NEED HR ASSISTANCE RIGHT NOW!!!” in a very panicked tone of voice.

      The person who told me that story was the one who sent the email….and said he learned 2 lessons from that. First, disable the new message notification in Outlook! And second, make sure your subject lines do not contain any sensitive or confidential information.

      Can. You. Even. Imagine.

      1. Karowen*

        Yeah, just exit Outlook altogether when you’re projecting your screen. You never know what someone is going to email you, and Outlook also includes the first line(ish) in the pop-up. So you could mess things up even if you don’t include confidential email in the subject line just by opening your email with “As discussed, Bob is failing his PIP so here are the steps you need to take to terminate him:”

        1. Ann Furthermore*

          That notification thing can really bite you. I have mine disabled altogether. As another benefit, it helps me stop getting distracted since I’m not seeing that little box pop up in the corner all the time.

          The person who told me this story also said that he felt absolutely horrible about what happened, because what an awful way to find out that you’re getting fired!

          1. Anonymous this time around*

            Disabling notifications was the single best thing I’ve ever done for my productivity. I am on my email constantly–I look at it literally hundreds of times a day, I’ll bet–but when I want to focus, I don’t have that little pop-up darting into my line of vision and yanking me out of my flow.

            This story is nowhere near as good as yours, but I do enjoy telling it.

            Some years back I was in charge of coaching the customer-service agents who answered phones and emails for one of our lines of business. Each week, I would randomly select several incidents from each agent, review the audio/video footage of the incident, fill out a scoring sheet, listen to/watch the incident with the agent, and review it with him or her. I was good at it and enjoyed it, and I had a great team.

            One day I pulled up an incident for one of our agents, and the screen showed her Gmail open to a message. Not just any message, but a message accepting another job at another company. And she hadn’t given any kind of notice. We had to sit and watch the footage while listening to the audio, and then I had to say, “Uh, Jane, was there something you meant to tell me?”

        2. Windchime*

          I also disable Outlook if I’m going to a meeting and will be projecting my screen. I usually won’t get any messages as sensitive as the one mentioned above, but still–I might get a reply to something snarky I sent earlier to someone, or something about lunch plans or whatever. Safer to just exit completely.

      2. Anonsie*

        Hehehehe I’ve been in meetings where someone was presenting and they left their Outlook notifications on, and you see popups of emails from people who are in that very meeting. You look over and they’re trying to subtly work on their phone under the table and not paying attention. This is always really funny to me for some reason.

      3. Anx*

        I see this is pretty often, actually.

        I was quite annoyed with an instructor that was checking his email while his laptop was being projected. He was checking it because I emailed him twice with no response and he had apparently opened it but still didn’t know what I was talking about. I was horrified. He’s being fired, though, now, for other stuff. I mean people make mistakes but he was just pretty unaware of these things in general.

        Can you imagine if you had emails about a disability? Terrible.

      4. OriginalEmma*

        Ah, the dangers of new message notification. During a regional teleconference for my company, Person A was talking on the conference call but Person B’s screen was being televised. Up pops the auto notification message from Person C on the screen of Person B, which is being televised to the entire region, that says something along the lines of “God, I can’t stand when Person A talks.”

    22. louise*

      New co-worker started an email with “Hi, this is Jane.” Sign your email –Jane and don’t introduce yourself, for goodness’ sake.

      1. louise*

        Oh, thought of another. A vendor will respond to an email so I get the Re: subject that I first labelled, but my original text is no longer there! So she’ll answer a question, but I can’t remember exactly what I asked without a conversation thread. Geesh.

        1. S from CO*

          I have vendors who call me instead of replying to my email asking for a ship date (then on the phone vendor proceeds to explain the issue holding up the order; lets say component delay, delivery of end unit will be late a couple of weeks, etc…). I always ask them to email me their response since I have to forward the information to QC and engineering. Then it takes them days to send an email with their explanation.
          And recently a vendor asked me to explain what a FAIR (first article inspection report) was and can I send a sample /template to them! They told me that they have never been asked to complete a FAIR!
          AMAZING!?

      2. Cath in Canada*

        I have a colleague who not only states her name, but will type the date and time in manually at the top of all her emails. It’s as if she doesn’t know about, or maybe doesn’t trust, the automatic time stamp. She used to work for the US DOD so maybe it’s something she picked up there.

    23. Anonsie*

      Ugh, I have to do #3 a lot because I have two demographics for the meeting: people who are internal and can get the meeting invite, and people who are external and may or may not actually receive a calendar invite if you send it to them based on their own setup. There’s also a third group that overlaps with the first one who for some reason only ever look at their email, never their calendar, and require a separate email with the same details be sent. I want to make sure all my bases are covered so I always send out both at the same time, but I haaate doing it because it looks unorganized and annoying to the people who get both notifications and actually use their calendars.

    24. Kay*

      Our development director writes all her emails in royal blue Comic Sans.

      One other staff member writes “Thanks!” to every.single.email. you send her. Possibly 5% of my total received messages are her writing “Thanks!” after I’ve sent her just some quick info that did not need a reply. She also will keep up an email back-and-forth with cutesy jokes for 3 or 4 more emails when all you’re doing is trying to give her a piece of information, or get a piece of information.

      1. Natalie*

        I’m not sure I’d say it’s every email, but I reply “thanks” back to a lot of emails. It’s basically a delivery receipt – you know I got this and don’t need to follow up in a week asking if I got it.

      2. Cath in Canada*

        We have an otherwise great admin assistant who insists on using email stationery – sort of a pale sky-blue background with wispy cloud patterns, and a pseudo-cursive font. It’s really hard to read, and sometimes the stationery shows up as an attachment, which I always open just in case and then it’s just a patch of sky.

        1. louise*

          Ugh, yes, we’ve got one of those, too! I find it hard to take her seriously. When I reply, I always remove the background.

        2. Natalie*

          The Home Depot’s stationery is apparently memory-hogging enough that it actually locks up my Outlook for a brief moment. Jags.

    25. Sunflower*

      – Getting emails forwarded to me with absolutely ZERO mention of why it’s being forwarded to me.
      – I have a coworker who sometimes ends informal emails in a thought with ‘…’ at the end. ex- ‘we ordered 5 teapots…’ It makes me nervous. Like accusing me of something? pondering? asking? WHAT DOES IT MEAN?

    26. Jessilein*

      Sometimes when my boss wants to email our staff, he likes me to look over the email first and let him know if he forgot anything. So, he prints the email out, walks down the hall, and presents it to me for my suggestions. JUST EMAIL IT TO ME SO I CAN EDIT IT AND SEND IT BACK TO YOU. Geez. He also doesn’t respond to about 50% of the emails I send him, so there’s another peeve. Maybe if I printed out my emails and brought them down to him, he would respond!

    27. JB*

      Do you really dislike the person who does the second one? Because there’s nothing about doing that kind of thing that in and of itself that seems to deserve that strong of a reaction, but it’s exactly the sort of thing that would drive someone crazy when you really don’t like the person who does it.

    28. NewishAnon*

      When I ask someone 2 or 3 questions in an email and they only respond to one, with absolutely NO mention of the others. Then I have to write them back and ask again. Really infuriating when the second email comes back and they still only answered 1 of the 2 remaining questions and I have to send a third email.

    29. StillHealing*

      Currently, no one annoys me – which feels like this position is too good to be true. What has annoyed me the most at past jobs were people who would frequently interrupt me for non work related personal issues. For whatever reason, people have always sought me out to tell me their personal problems. The more I listened and expressed concern or provided suggestions, the more frequent the interruptions. When I tried to steer myself back to work and expressed how urgent my deadlines were, etc. the more panicked and needy some people would get. How dare I think my work was more important than their personal issue of the day???

      Currently, my supervisor does come in and talk frequently about historical departmental issues and/or frustrations, but he’s full of so much knowledge and it’s all work related so it doesn’t really bother me.

      I don’t know how to not be the person people come talk to/with. If Alison or anyone has some suggestions, I’d love to hear what works to get people to respect my time a bit more. Maybe I need to get another degree – in Psychology ?

      1. StillHealing*

        Oh..email habits….lol, my brain jumped right over that part. Ignore what I wrote above.

  12. Ali*

    I am thankfully traveling right now for a weekend away that I planned some months ago, but unfortunately, things still aren’t better at my job. I got a final written warning yesterday, and in it, my boss brought up two mistakes (maybe three) that he had already talked about with me and I acknowledged and understood. I also got penalized for something that he said was a writer error. It even was written as “the writer did such and such wrong.”

    I admit that I am a bit disappointed it’s at this point because my efforts haven’t been enough, and I wish I hadn’t focused so much on being a high achiever and moving up. But it sucks that my boss is hostile and keeps bringing up the same mistakes over and over instead of finding newer examples, if he has any. Here we are in March and he is still complaining about typos from January. He also says he “will not accept” continued mistakes from me.

    I am mad and sad, but at this point, I am going to try looking at this as a blessing in disguise so I can take the plunge and try things I have been afraid to try in the past. I still don’t have any job offers, but I do feel more open to going for temp jobs or career changes and seeing what happens.

    1. Saleslady*

      I was in a similar situation years ago. There was a moment my boss was just done with me and no matter how hard I tried to improve, she would find something to nitpick about. I ended up taking what seemed like a crappy sales job just to get out but to my surprise it turned into a calling for me! The difference I feel now that I am actually GOOD at my job has made everything in my life that much better. Take a chance on something else and get out now before it really crushes your spirit. You are not doing yourself favors by staying there.

      1. Jazzy Red*

        The managers in the division that my sister worked did this to *ALL* the older admins. They left the younger ones alone, and now all the older ones are so happy to be out of there.

    2. LMW*

      I feel for you! I was in a similar position once — I’d been promoted a few times and then I was moved into a new position where my boss just didn’t like me. She’d harp on a single mistake repeatedly, but was never able to point out additional issues. Just vague “You need to improve on this,” which is impossible to do, when you don’t have examples. And there’s only so long that you can apologize for a typo from months ago.

      My solution was to find a new role and I was lucky to get a new boss who helped me get back that sense of achievement. I hope you find something too. (Another note: I took the plunge into temp work a few years later — I’ve written about it here before. I moved from publishing to a temp position in the corporate world. It was hard, and three years without benefits sucked. But I have a new career that a really enjoy and it ended up giving me a lot more security in the long run. So even though a plunge might be initially scary and hard, they can really help you get to a good place too!)

    3. Tiffany In Houston*

      Ali,

      I have been where you are and it’s good that you are getting a weekend trip in. Being on a final written warning probably means that your time at that job is coming to a close, so you need to be prepared.

      Start discreetly cleaning off your desk and cleaning up your computer. If you have contacts you want to stay in touch with, then email them to yourself. Try to schedule doctors and dentist appointments while you have insurance and look at your states unemployment benefits.

      Good luck! My prayers is that your next job is more suited to what you want to do!

      1. LMW*

        I’d add to this: Make sure you save any writing samples or personal files to a place you can access them outside your company. Since you’re in a comms field, you’ll probably want them.

      2. Sunflower*

        I agree. I will also suggest that you run any reports you need to get percentages/increases to put together highlights and achievements at your work.

    4. cuppa*

      I’m so sorry at how this is going out for you. I hope this whole situation brings better things for you in the future.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      I’m so sorry about your job. Sometimes bosses get stuck on things and they just cannot let go. It’s tough to soar like an eagle at work, when your boss is an ostrich. He has a bug up his butt and probably there is no solving it.

      You are right though, these things happen for a reason. It makes us push ourselves along. We have to go find something else. May your next gig be the total opposite of this one!

      1. C Average*

        I am imagining an ostrich with a bug up its butt. The mental picture is amusing.

        In all seriousness, this is spot on.

        I, too, hope your new gig is in all respects an improvement on the current one. You’ve had a long slog.

    6. Golden Yeti*

      Ugh. Sorry things are where they are. I’m glad that in spite of it, though, you are feeling empowered to make better things happen. :)

  13. TotesMaGoats*

    Trying desperately to get out of super toxic environment. Pompous a-hole of a boss actually had me in tears a couple days ago. Thankfully, he doesn’t know that. I’ve got a decade of experience so please continue to speak to me as though this is my first job. Yes, my success has been an absolute fluke and I need you to tell me how to do my job. And while you are at it, please continue to not listen to anything I say. Whew.

    So, looking and found a couple good options. One is asking for salary requirements in the cover letter. This is kind of unusual, at least in my area of higher education. What should I put? I’m thinking of something like “I’m looking for a salary in the range of X-Y but am flexible.” With X being a little bit more than what I’m making now.

    1. College Career Counselor*

      I’d do a range, as well, but I’d make sure the bottom of the range was something I was willing to do the job for. I might amend the “I am flexible” part to include where/how you’re flexible. (even if it’s just “depending on other aspects of the position”). That could be vacation time, retirement contribution, telecommuting/flex-schedule–whatever it is that makes the job more appealing to you.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      So if you follow what he says- if you quit the job you will be all cured. But he will remain an AH.

      I hope his next employee is just like him. grrr.

      Somewhere there is someone who will think you are a miracle in their life. They are just waiting for you to apply.

    3. Sunflower*

      Almost every university job I’ve applied to had a pay grade listed in the application. Google ‘x university pay grade’ and the entire list will come up and you should be able to match up the grade with the range.

      I put my bottom number as the number i would take if the job had AMAZING benefits. Minimum it would take to quit. Make sure you do your research though so you don’t sell yourself short.

  14. RetailManager*

    After reading this blog for several years and following the resume and cover letter advice given, I made the career switch from a big corporate environment to a tiny non-profit arts organization about six months ago. There have been some adjustments, but the most frustrating for me has been email communication. How do I ensure my members read the important communication I send them? We communicate via a Yahoo group (I know–I am trying to convince the board to consider a database that has a similar feature) where I send out important volunteer requests and advance notice for events and meetings. I also maintain a Google Calendar that mirrors this information. I’ve had many members, including board members, say they didn’t get notification of important dates, so I direct them to previous emails and the calendar, but I’d like to be more proactive in my communication.

    I’ve tried saccharine emails (REALLY difficult for me, but this group needs a lot of hand holding), bullet points every week (this has always worked for me in the past, but I’ve gotten feedback that members get overwhelmed), and short, single topic emails (problem is, there is a lot going on!). Do you have any successful approaches or style guides for this type of communication?

    1. fposte*

      I might take the question farther upstream–rather than asking how to make them read emails, I’d ask what form of communication they’re likeliest to attend to.

      But ultimately this is a challenge in any organization where there’s a lot of signal going on-sheer volume starts to make it noise. We use redundancy as much as possible–calender listings, specialized location listings, announcements–and lots of reminders and individual followups; I’m not sure if that’s optimal, but I don’t have control over the underlying system. Ultimately, you can’t make them read anything–you can only make it as easy as possible for them to get the information and accept that some of them just aren’t going to.

    2. TCO*

      How many people are actually complaining? Is it a small vocal minority who won’t be content no matter what you do, because it’s their fault they don’t read e-mails?If there are some strong personalities among your member base (there always are), try asking your coworkers for their insight on how to most productively build relationships and communicate with these people. They might have helpful advice or even just some reassurance that these members are just hard to please.

      Also, you might need to adjust your expectations–you are not going to get 100% readership or response. You just won’t. If you design systems that anticipate that, rather than by surprised by it, you might be happier.

    3. AVP*

      I think it depends on what exactly your goal is. Do you want them to sign up for shifts? Do you want them to just be aware of what’s going on?

      Also, I don’t know if the Yahoo system does this, but I know if you have a google group, people can set their preferences to get email less often – is it possible the higher up people have theirs set to a weekly digest or something, in which they’re getting the emails after the event has happened?

      Also, is this all happening on the same group, or do you have it split up so that the relevant info is only going to the people it’s relevant to? Sometimes those groups get so unwieldy that people just stop looking at them (and then, of course, blame you if they miss something critical).

    4. Well*

      I’d need to know more about your situation, but some generalities.

      First of all, know that there are literally entire professions devoted to answering the question “how do I get my audience to actually read this email I’m sending them?” So don’t feel bad that you’re struggling with this. Secondly, remember that these people are (I assume, depending on what you mean by ‘members’) mostly doing this out of the goodness of their hearts. Odds are that even for your board members your emails are not the most important things in their inbox each day – maybe they don’t even crack the top 10 list.

      So, with that said, some tips I’ve found for working with board members/volunteers:

      1) Practice brevity. If something’s so complicated that it takes paragraphs and paragraphs for you to explain, maybe a call is better.
      2) Send proactive reminders. If it’s super important, at least two. (E.g. if your gala is a month out and you just got your volunteers signed up, send an email reminder two weeks out and three days out.)
      3) When the stakes are high, make reminder phone calls, not just email. If you only have board meetings twice a year, taking ten minutes to call each of your board members in the week or two leading up to the meeting is probably worth it. (This also lets you try to minimize the odds of being blindsided by anyone’s crazy ideas, sometimes a challenge at nonprofit board meetings!) If this is your annual gala and you have ten or fifteen volunteer members, and without them the event is likely to flop, likewise. Note that you don’t have to frame it to them as a “hey I just wanted to remind you that you said you’d come on Thursday.” It can be as simple as “hey Frodo. Thanks so much for signing up to volunteer on Thursday. We’re hoping to have volunteers there by 4:30 – can you still make that? Ok, just as a reminder that the attire is business. And don’t worry about dinner — food’s on us for you guys, and we’ve got breaks built in to your schedule. Any questions? No? Okay, if anything comes up and you’re not able to make it, you can call me and let me know. My number is 555-555-5555. Thanks again, we couldn’t do it without you – and see you Thursday at 4:30!”

      Now, all that said, if this is a constantly recurring issue that seems to happen across communications channels and modes, you may want to consider if there are symptoms that indicate you have a larger problem. Are your members constantly canceling at the last minute? Does your board seem bored or uninterested in the work of the organization? If so, you might have a larger problem with how effectively you’re inspiring people to be involved in your cause.

      1. MsM*

        Also, if your board members are VIPs, make sure you copy their assistants on everything, and call them with reminders. In my experience, that’s usually the only way to make sure they receive stuff.

    5. Kay*

      You don’t say what your position at the nonprofit is. Are you the communications manager? The executive director? If you’re not the ED, and you’re new, and you’re dealing with nonprofit employees who have been there forever you might be dealing with some resistance from people who are used to doing things at a slower, more bite-sized pace.

      Are you communicating with members as in other employees, or members as in you’re a member-based organization and they are your public? Both? I think it’s a very different communication style depending on who you’re talking to and what you’re trying to do.

      Keep in mind too that Google Calendar is a surprisingly opaque app for people who are not computer literate. Might it be better listed out somewhere on a plain website – can you maintain a common document in the Yahoo Groups back end? Put something on your website?

    6. Snork Maiden*

      I put read receipts and delivery confirmation on important emails (I know, it’s annoying to the receiver, but it’s less annoying than missing it entirely). I’ll also follow up with calls.

  15. dang*

    Omg. I needed this today.

    I just got a verbal offer from a well regarded academic institution. A month after a ten minute phone conversation.

    This is wacky right???? I am right for being nervous? Ice been job hunting for almost two years and this is my first offer other than my temp job.

    1. CrazyCatLady*

      Yeah, that would be concerning to me…. no in person interview? Plus, I would want any offer in writing.

      1. dang*

        Research manager at a university I’ve been rejected from for two other jobs after multiple interviews.

        1. fposte*

          Oh, I’m reading it differently–I was thinking it means that dang’s had extensive interviews previously so they knew her from those and didn’t feel they needed to go through the whole thing again.

          1. Dang*

            I’ve interviewed for two other similar positions so it’s very possible that the hiring manager talked to the other hiring managers- they are different departments within the same large university.

            My first inclination was to assume it was a mistake, but I’ve exchanged a few emails with HR that definitely negate that.

            I told HR I was surprised and wondered if she could shed any light on why I’d be getting an offer before an in-person interview and they told me that they didn’t want to make me travel (it’s about a 3 hr drive so no big deal) and decided on the phone conversation and my credentials.

            Which is just as WTF to me as it was when I first read that email a few hours ago!

    2. Malissa*

      A little wierd, but maybe 10 minutes was all they needed to see what an awesome person you are? I’d definitaly ask for a stroll around the office prior to accepting.

      1. dang*

        Haha that must be it ;) I’m just used to interviewers being totally into me for three interviews and then never hearing from them again…

      2. Elizabeth West*

        It could be that the hiring manager talked to the people dang interviewed with already and they thought s/he would be perfect for this other position. But I agree–I’d be asking lots of questions and definitely would want the offer in writing.

      3. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Doesn’t matter how awesome you are — no matter how great you are, you won’t be the right fit for every job, and at this point they have no way of knowing if you’re the right fit for theirs, unless they’ve worked with you previously. I’d be concerned they’re offering you a role you won’t excel in and that both parties will realize that a month or two in.

        You need to talk with them more. Plus, even if they’re sold on you, you can’t be sold on them yet — you haven’t learned enough about them. Ask them for a meeting to talk more in-depth about the role and the organization.

        Under no circumstances should you commit to spending half your waking life somewhere for the next few years on the basis of a 10-minute conversation.

        1. Anonsie*

          For what it’s worth, since this is an academic environment and the position is for a research manager, they may have a really really urgent need to bring someone in now but also not have anyone really available to talk to the candidates in any depth. Which is bad, don’t get me wrong, but… Academic research is pretty messy and a lot of stuff that’s normal for us in terms of management practices would probably make the hair on the back of your neck stand up.

          So I would be significantly less alarmed by this under Dang’s circumstances than I would if it was another source. But yes, definitely call them and get some more information and find out what the heck.

          1. Dang*

            Phew, thanks everyone for your input!

            AAM.. these are exactly my concerns. While the job description admittedly feels like it was written for me and is even a step up from what I’m used to (which is more of a research associate/specialist role), I’m a little bit weirded out by the whole thing. Especially when a month after the “interview” the hiring manager began trying to negotiate salary with me via email. When I told him my expectations (which are higher than I’d normally request for a variety of reasons, including the fact that this would require a relocation without relocation assistance) he told me his number which was slightly lower than the low end of my range. I said I could still consider it and then I got this notice that I was going to receive a verbal offer once my references were contacted (so technically it’s a pre-verbal offer, but I was typing from my phone and couldn’t explain the whole thing).

            I went back and read AAM’s articles about this (I knew I’d read about this situation before!) and along with her comment, those are exactly my concerns. That this role is either too advanced for me, or isn’t a good fit for whatever reason, and I’ll have moved there and will be stuck and screwed even more than I am currently (as a temp with a steady but limited income and the luxury of living with family until I get my life back in order. Ironically I was in a car accident two weeks ago and my 20 year old car was totaled and I had to buy a new car… which is the car of my dreams, that I would have to turn around and re-sell if I take this job because of the location and cost of keeping a car there).

            Even before this I kind of had a weird feeling about the whole thing. I honestly thought the phone interview was just a formality so they could say they talked to x number of people and hire the internal person they wanted!

            So thank you for the reminder that I should NOT base my decision on a 10-minute phone call. I clearly need more information! I do agree with anonsie and academicanon that it’s not completely bizarre for academia (or at least less bizarre than it would be in other industries/fields) but it still just doesn’t feel quite right and I need more info.

            1. fposte*

              Dang, are any of these folks people who were involved in your previous interviews there? That to me would explain their willingness to fast-track, if so.

              1. Dang*

                No but it’s entirely possible that they have worked with my other interviewers. They are all in different departments but the same university/division.

            2. Anonsie*

              I’m kind of an ornery person but I’d laugh all the way back to my current job if I gave someone a range and they came back with a figure under my bottom line. It’s different since you have an end point for your current position, though. When is your funding up?

              What city would you be moving to and how big of a change is it, if you don’t mind disclosing? This is a big risk, obviously, even if their offer and negotiations didn’t come in a weird way (although if you were talking to a PI or someone like that, I’d cut even more slack in there) and the pay wasn’t under your desired range. Right now you have your family safety net, and relocating is going to remove that safety and add in a lot of costs, so the risk of this placement not working out is considerably higher than if it was local. And since they’ve already shown you how much they value you, industry-related slack or no, that should leave you with an eye on how much support you are going to get in this role and in this relocation. Even if they’re really really nice and this is grant or institution-enforced limit or something, that limit exists and their ability to get your wiggle room in there is small. Your team can be awesome and if they constantly have their hands tied in management, hiring, compensation (which you’ve seen a whif of already) from the top down, this can easily be a sign of things to come as you try to settle into a role that you know will be challenging.

              Also be aware that whatever limits they have from the institution in bringing you in and compensating you, you will have as a manager as well.

              1. Dang*

                These are all really, really good points. Thanks so much for helping me think through this.

                The job is in Philadelphia. I’m in northern suburbs of NYC… it wouldn’t be a HUGE move (150 miles maybe) but it would still uproot my life, which is something I just did less than 2 years ago because of crummy life circumstances. Like you said, I am hesitant to give up my safety net for something that could very easily work out. And if this is the way they do hiring and negotiation, it is alarming and concerning. The figure I gave them was higher, like I said, to offset the risk and make it really worth my while to relocate, and honestly by coming back with a lower number… that makes it clear that there are serious constraints I would likely have to deal with as a manager.

                At the very least if a written offer DOES come through, I will request to meet with the PI and other staff and assess from there, but as it stands it doesn’t seem worth a relocation. Which also pains me because a) I love love love the area and b) my temp job is administrative and completely bores me.

    3. AcademicAnon*

      Well it’s wacky but not for academia and especially not for research. I agree with AAM you need more info, but an in person interview with the person who’s offering you a job might not actually help much. See if you can talk to some people who currently work there or who have left. If the person says you can’t talk to anyone, RUN.

  16. Trixie*

    Job search in higher ed stalling at the moment which while expected still disappointing. Good to remember the positive feedback I received and keep pushing ahead. The upside is my PT group fitness job is going gangbuster and I’ve taught 1-2 classes every day for 7-10 days straight. Appreciating all the gains, however small, is so helpful in times like these.

    1. Schuyler*

      What kind of work are you looking for in higher ed? What location(s) are you looking for work in?

      1. Trixie*

        Administrative/professional, but ultimately I’d like to land in Advancement, Development, or Special Events. Mid-Atlantic area, ideally NC.

        Aside from a lot of qualified, more recently employed younger applicants, I imagine I’m either overqualified for entry level jobs and under qualified for positions compared to applicants who have exact experience. Usual story that many experience.

  17. Martha*

    Advice for training a coworker? I am leaving my company, and a girl with no experience in my field is being promoted. I handle payroll / compensation, and she is an administrative coordinator. I’ve trained with her, and all she says is “I’m not at this level” and “I’ve never done this before”. I showed her an excel formula and she told me she’s not an excel expert. She’s terrified of making an error, and wanted to tell the CFO to expect errors (on a $26M budget!). Instead of asking intelligent questions, she emails me 50x’s a day and asks me to confirm if she saved a file in the correct folder, and last week, she had me verify that she did a retro payment correctly. It’s really basic questions – I don’t understand this mentality of focusing on the little stuff when you don’t understand anything about the topic. I told her the sooner she gains confidence and doesn’t let fear drive her decisions, the better off she’ll be. She cried (there were tears) to my manager that I’m awful. My manager told me I need to be gentler with her because she’s intimidated by my expertise and knows she doesn’t have the education …. I only have a week left with training her.

    1. Partly Cloudy*

      It sounds like she’s way too green (experience-wise, maturity-wise, or both) for the job. Who decided to promote her? Can you talk to your manager about your concerns about her ability to do the job?

      1. Martha*

        I talked to my manager this morning. Manager said I need to be gentler with her because she’s too intimidated by me. Intimidated to the point that she won’t walk by my office. I’m not the type to handhold and verify someone’s feelings for being scared, and I’m very straightforward and honest, which doesn’t go over well with this girl. I’m afraid my manager is going to hold this against me and not give me a reference down the road.

        1. fposte*

          “I’m not the type to handhold and verify someone’s feelings for being scared.”

          It’s not about being a type; it’s about being an effective trainer. Right now your training approach isn’t working for her; why not adapt to one that might work better? I know if you’ve got one foot out the door it may seem like an annoying task, but it sounds like it might be a good learning experience for you, and it sounds like you have reasons to want it to go well. So prioritize tactful over straightforward for a couple of weeks.

          1. Martha*

            Blah. Not the response I wanted to hear, but I suppose the one I needed. Its probably better than telling her to go pound salt.

            1. fposte*

              Sorry; I think you’re right that she’s not a good fit, and I’d be annoyed too. But now’s your chance to go out on a cloud of virtue.

          2. Partly Cloudy*

            +1, since you think your manager is going to hold this situation against you. Make the best of it, and if you’re inclined to remain available for questions after your last day, give them your personal email/phone number. That way your manager will see that you’re really trying.

        2. Dawn*

          Document the heck out of every single thing you’ve ever given her, emails sent, instructions, etc. Give it to your manager before you leave- basically a “Mortimer, here’s everything I’ve gone over with Buffy.” Either your manager is smart enough to realize you’ve tried to help this girl as much as possible and the fact she didn’t learn it is on her, or he’s stupid and doesn’t realize this girl cannot be helped.

          Either way, in a week, this is officially Not Your Problem Anymore.

          1. RandomName*

            I agree, document it as much as possible. Though after you leave, I think this person’s shortcomings will be obvious to others. I trained someone for a job I was leaving once and she just didn’t get it. One time, I trained her on how to do a report, and she took notes. The next day I told her to try doing it on her own but while I was sitting with her and so she could see what she still needed help with and ask questions when she got stuck. She gave me a blank stare and then asked how she was supposed to do it because she had no idea what I was talking about. After trying to jog her memory about the report we went over for an hour the day prior, that I saw her writing notes for, she was still adamant that we hadn’t gone over it. I told her to get her notes and after flipping through them she remembered. But there weren’t any other reports I had trained her on at that point, so I was shocked that she couldn’t conjure up the memory of even having the discussion from one day earlier.

            Anyway, that was one of many issues I had training my replacement. After I left I found out from people that she said I didn’t train her on things that I did. But it became obvious to them quickly that she didn’t know what she was doing. In fact, she tried telling my former direct report that I didn’t train her on how to review a certain type of transaction report. I teach by making people do things, and my former direct report was able to find one of the transactions I had my replacement review while I was training her (with me by her side) that had her handwriting on it. It was hard for her to backpedal from that one, but my former direct report said she continued to deny it was her handwriting (even though my direct report could easily distinguish my neat writing in my typical pen color vs. her messy writing in pencil… I never wrote with pencil).

            I think your manager will understand what you’re saying now when you’re gone and it becomes his/her problem.

            1. Not So NewReader*

              Wow. Something was going on there. I don’t know what- but that is pretty wild.

              There was really no one to train me at this current job I have. So my boss brought in another person for one day.(It was amazing that she was able to get that for me.) I hung onto every. single. word this person said as if each word was a bar of gold.

              1. jamlady*

                SO true. I underwent a crash course of on-the-job training for software at a previous position and the woman who trained me was SO stressed with another employee because she taught me everything I needed to know in 3 weeks and she’d been working with the other employee for 11 months with no success. This person was a teacher in a related industry for 10 years and she was incredible. I feel like other people either don’t try or they’re simply not cut out for that kind of work. If you don’t care or try, boo on you, you suck. But if you try, it’s so hard to deal with – you’re not a bad employee, you just aren’t cut out for the work! And you can’t possibly be happy struggling so terribly while everyone moves up around you.

          2. it happens*

            ^^ This X1000. Though I’d approach it less from a CYA perspective and more from a process documentation perspective. Worst case, buffy doesn’t get it and in a month they hire someone new, who can use your guide to figure out ‘how it’s done here.’
            But also helpful to modify the approach a little for the last week. Maybe sit down Monday morning with a ‘well, buffy, this is our last week together, what do you think we need to do to together to get you comfortable with flying solo next Monday?’
            good luck

    2. MaryMary*

      I second telling your manager this coworker is not a good fit to take over for you. If she’s not confident with basic excel skills and saving files she really shouldn’t be handling payroll. Few things make employees angrier than screwing up their paychecks. Working in areas like payroll, accounting, HR also means you need to be comfortable with a high level of responsibility. Errors are a big deal.

      I’d also create some sort of training document. 1) To put in writing what you’ve trained your coworker on, 2) to give her something to refer back to (hopefully saving you the 50 emails), and 3) so whoever ends up taking over from her has something to reference.

      1. Martha*

        Thanks. I’ve done a great deal of documentation (which she has told me she doesn’t have time to read), so maybe I’ll make it more granular. Then I can at least say its there. Written is easier than verbal for me anyways.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          “I dont’ have time to read my training material” does not bode well for the future, but if you’ve documented and done all you can, then that’s all you can do. Soon enough, it will be your manager’s problem.

          1. dd*

            +1

            I was going to say the same. I don’t know why they would trust someone with no experience to handle a $26M budget. I feel sorry for the girl. They are putting her in a very difficult position.

            1. Martha*

              Agreed! I can’t fathom saying “be prepared guys, I’m going to screw this up”. If that’s your thought process, don’t take the job! And the fact that my manager supports her because “she’s never done this before”. I get that she’s never done the job before, but the approach has to be “I’m going to learn how to do this job correctly, so there aren’t errors”.

              1. MsM*

                Maybe you could ask the manager if he’d rather you focus on teaching her Excel basics, and document the other stuff for once she’s gotten that foundation? Because you do understand it’s overwhelming, but given her inexperience, there’s only so much you can cover.

              2. jamlady*

                Ahh seriously! Sure, people make mistakes, but I never go into ANYTHING I do with the mentality of “I’m probably going to mess up”. I don’t even consider the option. People get divorced too but you don’t go into a marriage saying “We’re probably going to separate”. It just shouldn’t be an option with regards to expectations.

              1. blackcat*

                Seriously. I have mostly dealt with awesome payroll people, and the are worth their weight in gold. The one time I dealt with someone who didn’t know REALLY fundamental stuff (marital status needs to be on a W2 since it impacts withholdings), it was so, so terrible. What I know about payroll comes from having been an employee and getting paid. I should not know more than a payroll person!

                I’d say having payroll handled correctly is the #1 responsibility of an employer.

          2. Dot Warner*

            She doesn’t have time to read her training material?? I was feeling sorry for her up until you mentioned that. If I were in your shoes I’d tell her that if she doesn’t find time to read the material, she might find herself with 40 more free hours each week…

        2. A. D. Kay*

          She actually had the NERVE to tell you she didn’t have time to read the documentation you wrote specifically to train her?! I’m just… I’m just… I can’t even.

    3. PuppyPetter*

      Sounds like my situation. Several people (including me) are leaving my company, not all by choice (layoffs). we are all trying to teach newbies from other fields how to do FT jobs where we’ve had 5+ years experience, how to do them on a PT basis.
      One of the people I’m training just.doesn’t.get it.

      Keep repeating “Not my circus, not my monkeys”
      (and document the hell out of everything you’ve shown her!)

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Serious advice: With every question she asks, you ask her,”What have you tried so far?” Carry the expectation that she will try before she asks.

    5. MsChanandlerBong*

      I don’t have any advice for you, but I wanted to say I admire you for trying to help her as much as possible. At one point, I was hired to be an HR assistant; I was supposed to do new hire paperwork, make employee ID badges, and do other clerical tasks. I was getting paid an hourly rate commensurate with that level of responsibility ($11.25). When I came on board, I actually ended up being the only HR person in the facility. They had me doing payroll for 250 employees across five separate business units, OSHA compliance, hiring/terminations, etc. I was in WAY over my head (and not getting paid nearly enough), and I ended up getting fired. All this to say, I am curious as to whether your employer made it clear to her what the job would entail.

  18. Sandy*

    Applied for Job A back in the fall, they are just doing interviews now. I meet about 120% of the qualifications. It’s definitely a lateral move.

    Job B was advertised last week and I meet about 90% of the qualifications (all of the mandatory and most of the assets). Inspired by previous discussion on AAM about not waiting until I meet absolutely 100% of the qualifications, I’m putting together an application now.

    Turns out Job B is to be Job A’s supervisor. All the HR, interviewing, etc. is going to be handled by the same team.

    Is this going to look weird? Other than being prepared for it to be raised in an interview, is there any particular way I should try and navigate this?

    1. OhNo*

      Can you mention it in the cover letter? Like, “I recently applied for Job A, but feel that I am ready professionally to move up to Job B and take on additional duties X, Y, and Z.” And make sure to stress in the interview that you would be 100% comfortable in either role (assuming that’s true), regardless of who is placed in the other one.

    2. Beancounter in Texas*

      You could also say in your cover letter that you applied for Job A because it’s a good lateral move, but now that Job B is opened up, you’d like to be considered for that role because you’re more interested in expanding your responsibilities.

    3. Lizard*

      I would probably acknowledge that you applied to the other job in your cover letter but say that now that there’s an additional opening, you’d like to be considered for that one as well. You feel that you’re qualified because blah blah, and you’re very interested in the company. Since Job A was advertised so much earlier I don’ t think it’s weird at all.

    4. little Cindy Lou who*

      If someone’s reached out to you regarding an interview for A, I’d let her/him know that you’d be interested in B also, instead of outright applying twice.

  19. Lisa*

    I want to start applying for jobs overseas. Anyone know of a service that converts resumes into CVs?

    1. Lee*

      CVs and resumes are largely the same (I am British), I would just google templates and go from there. Chances are a service will knock the formatting out in any case so you’re better doing it manually.

      Sorry I know that’s not particularly helpful but I think it will be an easier job than you’re imagining!

      1. Lisa*

        I am curious – what is the latest CV format for the UK? What kind of CV sections would be off-putting? Which ones are a must? Things like activities, clubs, awards from so long ago seem very odd to me as an American.

        Unfortunately, they are requesting CVs specifically not resumes so trying to use something relevant for the marketing industry seen today vs. an outdated template from Google.

        1. Merry and Bright*

          The only personal information I have on my CV are my email address, mobile phone number and nationality (British – to establish right to work in the UK). Apart from that, it’s my employment and work achievements plus qualifications. There is different advice around on including hobbies etc. It does take up room but some people like to briefly state interest that shows useful qualities such as sports team membership or leadership skills. But including extra information like this is by no means compulsory. Basically, I only list things on my that are directly relevant. If they want to know how I spend my weekends they can ask me at the interview.

          Oh, and I also include the software packages I know (since I got pulled up for leaving these off).

          On qualifications, a lot advice says that if you have a degree(s) there is less need to include GCSEs/O Levels yet some job ads specify these no matter what but that is lazy ad writing on the whole.

          On balance, keeping your CV/resume similar to your current format should be fine especially if you keep to Alison’s advice and it is clear and easy to follow.

          Word to the wise: leave off your date of birth. This is now a protected characteristic under the Equality Act.

          As ever, you can always get a joker in the pack when it comes to recruiters and CVs but I hope this helps a bit.

    2. College Career Counselor*

      I have used the Global CV & Resume Guide (country by country information, with helpful examples). Not sure if the latest edition is out, and of course, YMMV whether you find this kind of thing helpful in doing your own conversion. Assuming you’re American, the biggest adjustment is going to be thinking about putting more personal information on your CV, depending on the country in question. I’ve seen birthdates, marital status, # of children (and their ages!), and school records going all the way back to kindergarten.

      1. Mander*

        I’m an American in the UK and I generally do my CV the same way I would have done a resume in the US. Though I been able to get a job in the last, oh, 3-4 years that I’ve been looking, so my opinion may be pants. But I don’t think it is that common here anymore to put the personal info on, although it’s not unusual to put GCSEs and A-levels depending on how old you are and what other qualifications you have. My husband, for instance, still includes his and he is 35 and has a BS, but his A-levels were all in things that are still relevant for his current job.

        I sometimes include my nationality as a way to make it clear that I am a British citizen and don’t need a work visa, since it’s obvious that I’m a foreigner because of my education and job history. Depending on the job I might clarify that my high school and college education in the USA included core subjects outside my actual discipline of Anthropology (e.g. hard sciences, statistics, languages, history, English composition) since GCSEs in maths and English are often listed as essential requirements for a job. This is better in a cover letter but sometimes they just want a CV so I might put a line that explains this in the education section.

          1. Cristina in England*

            I struggled to get my first job in the UK. I ultimately got a temp job, then after that it seemed my Americanness was an asset, not an albatross, in getting subsequent jobs.

    3. Cristina in England*

      If you’re an American applying overseas, it’s your cover letter that I would focus on. American confidence and optimism can really grate sometimes with overseas employers. In Britain, it can be wiser to tone that down and be more humble when describing your skills and experience. Never use hyperbole or superlatives.
      If you are in academia then there are huge differences in your CV US v UK, but everywhere else, the resume/cv can be pretty much the same format, just follow the advice on this site.

    4. Short and Stout*

      Also in the UK. I don’t see that there is any difference between a US resume and a good UK CV.

      I follow all of Alison’s advice and generally find it translates perfectly.

      One good piece of advice I did see was to make sure a foreign reader would understand your education listings, e.g. don’t just say you got a 3.8 gpa but say 3.8 / 4.0 for context, etc.

  20. Lee*

    I joined my currently company at the end of September 2014, and it was great for the first week – very busy, lots of strategic thinking (I’m in Marketing/Comms) and lots of space for me to make the role my own as it was newly created. Fast forward to now, and there is no work for me to do. No content or marketing projects to work on, and of course I’ve thought about how I can create them but there really isn’t scope for that. We’re a small company and I’ve realised the boss didn’t really know what he wanted when he hired me, and could have used a few hours of time with a marketing consultant and not hired a permanent full timer.

    I am looking for a new role, but in the meantime I don’t know what to do. I’ve asked my boss ‘is there anything I can help with/feel free to offload any work to my desk!’ and it just hasn’t happened. He’s often out of the office for weeks at a time with no work left to do. I really am a self starter and try to attend events to build relationships, and work on whatever I can but this amounts to about an hour a day on average. I can’t ask co-workers if they want help as their roles are so different for mine (coders etc).

    Quitting without anything to go to isn’t an option as I have a mortgage to pay, but this is really frustrating as I used to be so busy in my previous role (I left as I relocated to another city). I’m not developing and I’m at a critical time in my career. Any suggestions very gratefully received!

    1. LMW*

      You have two options: Stay with this job and find a way to make it work or find a new job.

      Are you the only marketing/comms person? How extensive is the marketing program? Can you try to make it bigger — either thinking long term or expanding the scope? Can you try new initiatives?

      I’m having a hard time picturing a marketing or comms program where there’s nothing to be done…especially from a content perspective, since content is a beast you must feed constantly. But I don’t have all the details here. To me it sounds like you might have a great opportunity: Time to figure out how to initiate projects that would encourage your own professional development. If you could work on anything you wanted to, what would you do?

      1. Lee*

        Hi LMW,

        Thanks for your reply. I’m completely with you – I cannot imagine a marketing or comms department with nothing to do. I am a self starter and have previously worked in lone roles where I have found plenty to do. I think what I’m trying to say is that I’m not just waiting on orders from above, I am trying to find things to do. I have developed strategies and started to implement them but it’s really only enough to fill an hour of the day.

        Many of our projects are confidential or really specific projects so that only those interested in that niche subject would be interested, which makes it hard as I feel as though the company doesn’t really need a marketing/comms person. I come from a B2C background, perhaps this is my chance to really focus on the B2B side of things and develop my role in that way.

        Thanks again for your reply,

        Lee

    2. Dawn*

      If you seriously CANNOT come up with a single thing to do, then just look at this as an unexpected lull in things and be grateful that you have time to be bored (because I am finding that’s a luxury once adulthood happens!) Could you job hunt while you’re at work?Kill two birds with one stone?

      1. Lee*

        Hi Dawn,

        Thanks for your reply. Unfortunately I don’t see this as an unexpected lull (although I would have killed for one of those in my previous place – how times change!). I think it’s time to get serious job hunting, but would feel a little guilty doing this on work time. I can definitely maximise job hunting time by doing this on my lunch break though! Lee

    3. AcademicAnon*

      While you might not be able to help your coworkers with their work (but ask first you might be surprised!) ask if there is something you can do for the company to improve things. You might get some interesting answers that might give you ideas.

      1. Lee*

        AcademicAnon – thanks, I may just do that – am possibly being a bit pessimistic and demotivated but as you say, I could well be surprised and might even learn something new! Lee

    4. Sunflower*

      Are you in a slow period right now? Decide if you’re okay not having much to do. If not, have you looked to any long standing problems the company has had? Getting creative while trying to fix long standing issues can eat up a lot of your day

      1. Lee*

        Hi Sunflower – I don’t think we are in a slow period now, I hoped it was just because it was Christmas/January/the boss was away but it slowly emerged that this is just the pace the company works at. I keep asking my boss to offload any work on me but he’s very particular and think he prefers to just do things himself as that’s the way he likes it. But yes I think you’re right – if I try, I might find that there is lots to do and hopefully in the meantime I can find something else!

  21. Anonymous this time around*

    Any advice on what to do when your manager is giving you advice and “help” that seem well-intentioned but you don’t believe to be actually useful?

    I’ve had a contentious relationship with my manager historically–we’re really different people, I’ll leave it at that–but we’ve found our way to a pretty harmonious working existence these days, for which I’m immensely grateful.

    She knows I want to move on to a different role and is supportive–she says I will leave a big gap on our team in terms of skill and experience, but I’ve been in the role for three years, and it’s pretty typical for people to change roles here every couple of years, particularly early in their tenure. I’ve been here eight years and have had three roles, so I am past due for a move.

    I want to stay on her good side, and it feels like in order to do that, I should continue treating her advice and help like a valued commodity. But the fact is that her understanding of our company’s power structures and culture aren’t as good as mine, and her advice has seemed painfully naive in the past. She’s encouraged me to pursue roles I know I have no shot at, and she’s written letters of support (which she’s let me read) that are flattering but paint me as someone I find unrecognizable. And I haven’t gotten the jobs she’s “helped” me pursue, which isn’t definitive in any way, but it’s a data point I can’t help but notice.

    I have to notify her when I apply for new internal roles. In the past, when I’ve put in applications and sent her an FYI email, she’s taken me aside and asked why I didn’t tell her sooner so she could help me with my application. What’s a polite way to tell her, “Look, I’ve got this. All you need to do is say nice and true things about me if they call you for a reference. Until then, please butt out”?

    1. some1*

      “Thanks for the concern/suggestion/whatever, Jane; but I feel like I did a great job with my app materials. I’m glad to know your assistantance is there if I need in the future.”

    2. Observer*

      I’d probably go with “I really appreciate your help. I hate taking your time with this, so I’ve just been incorporating all of your advice as needed. This way you only have to take time if someone thinks I might be a fit for and they need to talk to you. But, really, thanks!”

      1. Ann Furthermore*

        Yeah, this is a good way to approach it — make it sound like you’re not intentionally omitting her, but instead doing her a favor.

        1. jamlady*

          I personally dislike that the OP even has to do this much. Obviously she’s capable after 8 years and 3 upward moves, a sentiment her manager has expressed, but then her manager turns around and treats her like she’s not. I don’t know her personality, and it could all be well-intended, but it’s kind of offensive.

          Also, the whole thing about your manager painting you out as someone you’re not in letters is really not good, for you or for your next employer. My current situation really requires a certain personality – it’s something previous employers were quick to notice and even quicker to name in performance reviews because of where I’m headed. This is vital for me. I don’t know if it’s as vital in your industry, but it’s still important. If she’s painting you out as someone else, you may not get the jobs you want and may instead be picked up for jobs you’re not built for. That’s just bad for everyone. Again, it may have good intentions (maybe she sees someone with that personality type more desirable or something), but I recommend talking to her about that also. Given her personality, you probably have to do the whole walking-on-eggshells thing as previously suggested, but it still needs to be said.

          1. Anonymous this time around*

            In my company, since people do move around so much, it’s not at all uncommon for a manager to advocate for one of her direct reports. That part isn’t weird at all. Which is why this is clumsy: I’m essentially asking her not to do something that many, many managers do.

            I’m not especially worried about my next employer, as the only moves I’m considering are internal. I’m well-networked, I understand the hierarchy here, and I’m really choosy about the roles I consider.

            I hadn’t thought about this until right now, but I think she just looks at the job description and looks at my skills and thinks “hey, there’s a match.” Whereas I know the culture of the different departments and know in which ones I’d be a fit only on paper. I also know which things I’m good at but hate, but I try not to talk about those things at work. I don’t want to be a complainer. So she oversells, say, my html skills, because she doesn’t know that I can’t code without a cheat sheet and that I’ll never be confident at it or want it to be a major part of my role. She’s just describing what she sees.

            Maybe what we need is an honest conversation about what I’m looking for in a new role.

            1. little Cindy Lou who*

              So I can’t help but point out that while it’s great to know yourself, your strengths and weaknesses, what you like to do, and the culture you like to work within, it seems like you’re not only being picky on these points but unwilling to even consider what benefits could be gained by stepping a bit outside your comfort zone.

              Eg the html coding, because coding is something I can relate to. I reference my own cheat sheets and actuasl vendor documentation probably at least once a day because I’m looking for the best way to code out how to make a report do x or improve y. I live by the mantra never seek to memorize that which you can look up.

              You don’t have to “know” every last detail inside and out to be good/skilled at something (recognizing the scale from newbie to master). Understanding the concept is much more important than each specific detail in more places than a lot of people realize, particularly sensory-oriented people. So when you say your manager oversells your skills or paints a different picture of you, maybe you need to check your expectations/perception of yourself vs what other people see in you as potential or strengths?

              1. Anonymous this time around*

                It’s a fair point you make, but I’m not gonna lie, I’ve spent the past three-plus years way outside my comfort zone and I’m tired of it. I came into the role with what I thought were solid credentials, but the job proved to be so, so much more complex than expected. Literally the first week in this job, I knew I’d made a mistake. It took a solid year to feel like I was anything approaching competent.

                I’d like my next role to play to my strengths a bit more. I’d like to find something where the functions of the role aren’t in such constant flux, and where I can gain mastery of the main skills of the job and spend the bulk of my time excelling at the job rather than struggling to level up to yet another new set of expectations. I’m all for always learning, but always learning just to stay afloat has been exhausting.

                To cite an example, the html thing. I came into the role as a subject matter expert copywriter. I didn’t know a lick of html, nor did my peers. Then one day our manager decided that we needed to incorporate a design element into our content that wouldn’t work in our WYSIWYG pane, so we needed to begin composing in html. The decree was “start writing articles in html today.” No formal training, no shifting our workload to allow learning to occur. Just do it. Figure it out. Thank God for Codecademy and cheat sheets! I am now adequate at html, but I do not want someone to see that on my resume and think, “Sweet! She can write our website for us.” Because, nope, not unless I take some actual classes to gain some actual confidence.

                Sorry this has become sort of a vent/rant. I’m just tired of working so hard to be barely adequate. There are things I’m excellent at, and I’d like a job that leverages those things.

                1. little Cindy Lou who*

                  That’s good context that I didn’t pick up on in the original note, so I can totally empathize on wanting something more sane and stable in what your manager expects of you and your team. Best of luck in your search! :)

  22. AnonForThis*

    (Part 1 or 2) My boyfriend was laid off last week and he’s going through a quarter-life crisis.
    Right now he’s overwhelmed by options – He’s torn between going back to school and changing careers, or just applying to more jobs like he’s had, which he liked but never loved.

    How do you help someone struggling with a big decision like this?
    Any other tips for helping a significant other with unemployment? His biggest complaint right now is being bored and lonely during the day. Has speaking with a therapist or councilor helped others in this situation?

    1. CrazyCatLady*

      I’m struggling with this but am still employed. I want to maybe go back to school and change careers or maybe just leave the job I have and find something similar. I’m not sure how to figure it out or help a person besides just being generally supportive!

    2. Rex*

      1. Encourage him to do something that gets him out of the house on a regular basis — hobby, volunteering, whatever. Ideally something not job search related.

      2. Encourage him to stay in touch with and up to date in his current field, in case he wants to go back. This might include lunch/coffee with former colleagues he’s on good terms with.

      3. He can start researching these other fields before making a plunge. Alison has some good stuff on informational interviews in the archives. I think it’s easy to idealize jobs when you don’t know much about him. Encourage him to be really honest with himself about his strengths and weaknesses.

      1. Lizzie*

        #1 all the way. When my boyfriend was unemployed for a good chunk of time, I instituted a rule that he had to leave the house once a day – it didn’t matter if it was to do chores (grocery store, laundromat, etc.), to scout out “Help Wanted” signs at local businesses (yeah, it got to that point), to go for a run, to meet up with friends for lunch or coffee, he just had to put pants and go somewhere.

    3. Lily in NYC*

      Going back to school should be the first thing he takes off the table unless it’s something he has already been planning to do. It’s not a good idea to go back if the only reason is that he doesn’t know what else to do. And if he’s bored and lonely he probably isn’t spending enough time job-searching. Working out would probably help his mood a lot (and kill an hour of his boring day).

        1. CheeryO*

          Thirded. My boyfriend went back to school as a stop-gap after quitting his first job, and he ended up having to drop out, which REALLY set him back.

      1. Mt. Wanna-hock-a-loogie*

        As someone who is in the exact same position as her boyfriend, please do not say that bored and lonely = not spending enough time job-searching.

        1. Lily in NYC*

          I didn’t mean it in a scolding manner. I’ve been laid off twice and handled it differently each time. It was much better for my mental health when I treated my job search like a full-time job in itself because I didn’t have time to sit and stew and I felt like I was accomplishing something.

      2. BRR*

        All of this. Also maybe volunteering somewhere.Going back to school is not the solution it once was.

    4. Artemesia*

      As the SO it is IMHO imperative to not own this. The biggest support you can be is to step back and let him be a grownup. The worst thing to do is to be his mother. When my husband went through this process, I tried to be a good listener, to respond to requests for feedback on things like the resume WHEN HE ASKED ME TO, and to give him lots of attaboys. I didn’t look for opportunities for him, nag him to do this or that, suggest new strategies for his job search etc etc.

      It is easy to be very nervous in this situation and overstep. Adults don’t like to be micromanaged by their partners and you always risk getting into a passive aggressive spiral. Sometimes it is crazy hard to just bite your tongue and let him wrestle with these decisions himself but it is really important for the future of your relationship.

      1. AnonForThis*

        There’s no “right” way to deal with this, but he’s handling this very differently than I would, and you’ve summarized what I’m trying very hard to do (or not do)!

    5. Beancounter in Texas*

      Find some career counseling, either DIY like “What Color is Your Parachute?”, a Myers-Briggs test or perhaps some paid guidance, if you feel it’ll be worth it. If it’s going to take some time, get a job he likes and plan a career change in his free time. Lily in NYC has a good suggestion for working out – physical activity will help all around.

      My hubby is currently in a similar boat and I encourage him not to settle for something unless he intends it to be a stop-gap. I really encourage him to pursue a job that will make him happy. I think this helps him not see me as pressure to start bringing in a paycheck (as we’re not to the end of our savings yet). Also, to help him get into the job hunting mode, he goes to Starbucks every day and uses their WiFi on his laptop to work. He buys a hot tea and can really focus on his work there, unlike at home. Perhaps your SO can find “an office,” a place where he focuses on job hunting/career planning.

    6. Mt. Wanna-hock-a-loogie*

      A therapist helped me in the same position. If nothing else, it gives yourself an outsider to rant speak with for an unbiased position. In my case, I also found out I was suffering with depression and once set up with medication, made my search a lot easier.

      Keep in mind though, some people don’t react well to being told to see a therapist. It can be overwhelming to realize you need that sort of help so tread lightly!

    7. Sunflower*

      Before he takes the plunge on going back to school, I would suggest he volunteer with some organizations related to what he wants to go back to school for.

      Whether it’s volunteering or working, finding something that will get him out of the house is a really good idea.

      I’ve read some of Christine Hassler’s stuff. She specializes in quarter life crises. I think she makes ‘figuring your life out’ easier than it is but it’s helpful to know other people are going through the same thing. 20 Something Manifesto is just a collection of people who went through everything. 20 something, 20 everything is more a guide book. I will warn you, it’s LONG. It’s geared towards women but there are tons of exercises that could work for men too.

    8. Not So NewReader*

      When a friend of mine suddenly got laid off he started going to the Y every day to exercise. He did that first thing in the morning. It seemed to really help him keep his attitude up. Maybe your bf can take a walk, ride his bike if he has one or have a morning run.
      My friend said it made him feel like he had accomplished something right away, each day.

    9. Dang*

      I was unemployed for almost a year following the crappiest year of my life (personal, not professional). I started seeing a therapist during that time because I was obsessing over things I knew didn’t matter because I had nothing else to focus my mind/energy on. Really, how many jobs can you really apply for per day before it all looks the same? And it doesn’t even really take up that much time if you’re only applying for ones you’re really interested in. So anyway, yeah. Talking to a therapist really helped- an outside person to say “yeah, wow, that really DOES suck and it’s not just your imagination” helps, especially if he’s the type of person who tries to talk himself out of his own emotions (like I am).

      If at all possible, can he change careers and go back to school later? Unless he’s very sure what he wants to do and that another degree will lead to that, going back to school is something I would never really recommend, mostly because I did it and never did anything with the degree I thought would open so many doors. Now I see that it was extremely interdisciplinary and not specific enough to actually provide me with a clear career path. This wouldn’t be the same in say, accounting or whatever, but if he’s not sure, I wouldn’t encourage it.

    10. EG*

      Volunteering or temp work would be a great way to try a different field, if he has transferable skills.

      1. Lady Bug*

        Be careful about volunteering if he is receiving unemployment benefits. I asked if volunteering would affect my benefits, and was told “it might.” It’s ridiculous, but is a possibility.

    11. OriginalEmma*

      Perhaps he can go to the local library, or somewhere with free wi-fi and low-cost drinks, to do his job searching and industry education maintenance. That way he doesn’t feel cooped up all day, despite the fact that he may very well be doing the same activity at the library as at home.

  23. AnonForThis*

    (Part 2 or 2) As I mentioned up-thread, my boyfriend was laid off last week. For the past year (while employed) he’s been vaguely interested in changing fields; he’s a graphic designer by trade and is toying with the idea of taking a 6-12 week intensive course in coding, website design and/or programming.

    Has anyone made a similar career change (graphics to web design) or something similar? What was your experience?
    Does anyone have recommendations for programming/coding schools in NYC? There are so many, and we’re overwhelmed by the options

    1. Artemesia*

      I think Dev Bootcamp has a program in New York. It is a high pressure fairly short program — I think it is 9 weeks — The person I know who did it, did it in the Chicago program and went from an underpaid and frustrated chef who was scraping by with no benefits to a solid full time with benefits job. She is totally thrilled with how well it worked for her.

      1. Persephone Mulberry*

        I do NOT need another project, but I got just a taste of coding in the web design class I took last fall (it was mostly focused on the front end/pretty part) and enjoyed it, and this looks really interesting.

    2. it happens*

      A friend of mine did this last year – very successfully. Did the web development course at General Assembly (but had already done a few part-time coding courses before that) and has been getting decent gigs based on it. Another friend did GA’s night-time UX course just because he thought it would be useful to his work. I suggest starting with a free course on coding through coursera or udacity, then trying a part-time class or weekend intensive at GA or the equivalent before committing to the full-time course. Make sure really likes the work itself and not just the idea.

      1. Amanda*

        Seconding GA! My S/O did the UX course as well, and it was wonderful. He met a lot of really supportive people.

    3. Dynamic Beige*

      If he’s interested in learning how to make websites, his graphic design experience will be an asset to that but, if he’s not sure he will be interested enough in coding to stick with it, there are free things he can do online to assess whether it’s something he wants to keep pursuing http://www.codecademy.com/ I mean, why spend a bunch of money on a boot camp or books or a crash course if half way through you decide “nope, not for me”? I’d say start with Code Academy and if he can get through the HTML & CSS (approx time 7 hours, beginner level), then he’ll have a place to go from there. From my perspective, it seems that most of the people I know who do websites either mainly do the programming or mainly do the design work, I don’t think I know anyone who is both a strong designer and a strong programmer.

      Also, the advice about What Colour is Your Parachute — that may help him assess what he wants. As other have said, going back to school just to go back to school is no answer.

      1. C Average*

        I love Codecademy SO much. It’s free, it’s amazing, and it’s where anyone remotely interested in this stuff should start. When I had to learn html in a hurry for my job, it saved my bacon.

    4. HAnon*

      If he’s thinking about transitioning to digital design, I would encourage him to find a “niche” — like apps, or web development, or ux designer, or something else very specific. That’s what I’m trying to do (starting a responsive web design class soon). If you know a little bit of practically everything, you become jack of all trades and master of none, as they say. It’s a pretty natural transition, and the design background will greatly benefit his work in development.

    5. voluptuousfire*

      If you google “coding bootcamps nyc” there’s a link (second link on the first page) that has reviews of all the different coding bootcamp companies. The Flatiron School I think has a “if you don’t get a job, your course is free” option. I think. I’m too tired to google it.

      I’m thinking about checking out one of those options myself. I keep having interviews that don’t really go anywhere and I really need to consider some sort of training outside of what I have.

  24. Snow Related Lateness*

    I’m a non-exempt employee living in Boston who depends on public transportation to get to work. The last month has been rough. I’m normally a very punctual person but have been getting to work up to an hour late some days (and leaving my home at the same time or earlier than usual).

    At first when snow caused delays or even prevented me from getting in to the office, my employers were understanding. But it’s been several weeks since the last major snowstorm and public transportation is still not back on track, causing me to continue to come in late. The people who call the shots drive to work, and they don’t seem to grasp how completely crippled public transportation is and has been.

    So, who should take the hit for lost time? My view is that I’m late getting in to work but I’m also getting home late from work, so it basically comes up as an even loss for both employer and employee. Early on in this debacle, I asked my manager what his expectations were, but he never answered me and I can see that patience is growing thinner.

    Fingers crossed we won’t be getting any more snow this year, but I’m curious what others’ takes are on this.

    1. TCO*

      Your responsibility is to do your job in full. That’s what your employer is paying you to do. Your transportation challenges (though I sympathize) are not your employer’s problem. If you’re expected to work 40 hours, you need to work 40 hours regardless of how that affects your personal life.

      1. Snow Related Lateness*

        In theory I agree, but my office is NOT a ‘punch-in’ type of environment. I’ve been with them for three winters and snow delays are understood and accepted. No one’s going to be on your back about coming in 15-30 minutes late when we’re dealing with a dangerous mess.

        However, this year has been extraordinary and we’re all making it up as we go. As soon as the MBTA announced that they’d still be dealing with delays well into March I checked in as to what the expectations were, but never got a response.

        1. Artemesia*

          I would be leaving an hour earlier to get to work etc etc i.e. doing everything in your power to put in your time. Even arriving a few days quite early telegraphs a level of commitment that should quiet concerns of your manager. Is s/he getting there on time and putting the time in?

          1. Snow Related Lateness*

            Are my managers arriving on time (or even at all)? No, but they are exempt and in many cases able to work from home.

      2. Kelly L.*

        I genuinely think Boston this year is kind of a weird case, though. Whole swaths of town are completely out of commission, from what I’ve read. Snow Related Lateness probably wouldn’t have been able to get out of her neighborhood with a car/taxi, either. It’s sort of apocalyptic.

        1. Snow Related Lateness*

          ^^^ Yup.

          Except, this kind of thing impacts poor and middle class people so much harder. Where the roads were at least passable within a day or two after each storm, the MBTA was consistently just a sad sorry mess. People earning higher wages could maybe justify driving and spending $30+ a day on parking whereas that’s a sizeable chunk of my paycheck at the end of the week.

          I know, the law doesn’t care about social justice. The law says I’m an hourly employee and if I’m not there for my full hours I shouldn’t get paid for them. Just saying.

          1. IndieGir*

            Is there some reason preventing you from taking an earlier train? (ie, childcare issues?) I’m in the same situation and have shifted to the early train which is more reliable. While it sucks to have to get up earlier, lots of people are doing it and perhaps you’d be able to leave earlier as well.

            1. Snow Related Lateness*

              Childcare is a factor, but the main thing preventing me was that the commuter rail pared down to just two morning trains: 6:30am and 8:45am. That’s it.

              1. IndieGir*

                Mine is down to 6:10 and 7:24. Have you tried the 6:30, or does that screw up your childcare?

                1. Snow Related Lateness*

                  It would screw up childcare, but also I’m in a support role so showing up at the office when no one is there is a moot point.

          2. Observer*

            MBTA has a bit of a reputation, even outside of Boston for this reason.

            And, transit systems like this are a significant reason it’s so hard to “wean” people off their individual cars, even when it would make theoretical financial sense.

            And that’s why, in my opinion, this kind of nonsense tends to happen more in areas with lower income populations – People with a bit more income can make the choice to spend more on having a working car so they are not stuck being dependent on mass transit, while lower income people often can’t. And the people who run the transit system know that without ridership they risk their jobs, so they tend to try to retain riders who have choices, and ignore the riders who don’t.

            It stinks.

            But, your employers really can’t be expected to bear that cost.

            1. Snow Related Lateness*

              I actually do own a car but I’m still not willing to pay for parking in downtown Boston. It does suck all around. :-/

              1. Case of the Mondays*

                Any chance your employer could help w/ parking in the interim? “I’m not willing to pay” and “I can’t pay” are two very different things. I really think your employer should be more sympathetic but there is no legal requirement there. If you risk losing your job you have to whatever you can to get in on time.

                1. Ann Furthermore*

                  I had this same thought as I was reading through the comments. You said that it would continue to be screwed up into March, so that would be a few more weeks. If parking is $30 a day, that would be $600 if things are still hosed up for 4 more weeks. Not a huge amount of money (from the perspective of most employers).

                2. Snow Related Lateness*

                  $600 is just short of a week’s worth of my take-home pay. Nope, not spending that on parking.

                3. Ann Furthermore*

                  I meant that maybe your employer could help you out with the cost of parking in the short-term until things are back on track. $600 for them probably not near as big a deal for them as it would be for you or me (or any other individual).

              2. Ihmmy*

                I’m not familiar with the mass trans. there, but are there lots closer by that you could park and then use transit for the rest of the journey to save on time? I have family in Calgary who drive to a park n’ ride location, then take the light rail train to the city centre (where parking is insanely expensive if you’re even lucky enough to find a spot).

                Unfortunately it is your responsibility to be there for teh hours you need, or get confirmation from your boss that it’s ok to miss the few hours in this time of ridiculous transit issues. Is there perhaps a project you could work on from home on evenings/weekends to make up for some of the lost hours?

              3. EmilyG*

                I really sympathize with you, because I’ve worked at places that would be more flexible than this and would be more flexible myself, but the fact that you own a car seems significant here. The cost of having to pay for parking seems like something they could reasonably expect you to carry, even if it sucks–same as if you had to pay more than planned for heating during a cold winter. If it’s a matter of being not *able* to pay for parking rather than not *willing*, could you ask them for some help with that cost?

          3. Case of the Mondays*

            If all of the MBTA users magically found cars and money to pay for parking there would still be a disaster because the roads cannot accommodate that many more cars and there would be nowhere to park them all! I truly sympathize. On another blog I read, a commenter is walking 6 miles to work every day because it is quicker than waiting for the MBTA. But, the sidewalks aren’t plowed so she is basically risking her life.

          4. Anonsie*

            Except, this kind of thing impacts poor and middle class people so much harder.

            Ugh, this is the rub, isn’t it? When we have inclement weather (which isn’t even approaching what’s going on in Boston even under our worst circumstances) our transit system re-routes immediately and cancels large swaths of service very easily. Our building is in a very, very expensive area and many of the higher ups own homes nearby in addition to having vehicles and on-site parking privileges. The lower your income, though, the farther away from there you have to live, and the more coordination different lines/modes of public transit you need. We also don’t get parking on site, so even if you had a vehicle there would be nowhere to put it.

            That said, we do have a policy where major transportation disruptions get us a 2 hour per day window. Basically, you have two hours you can clock (if you’re hourly, if not then it’s just a grace period) but actually take arriving late/leaving early as needed. I have yet to see this actually implemented, though, because a small amount of ice causing transit reroutes isn’t enough for it to kick in. There has to be an actual shut down, I suppose, but if I were in Boston we would probably be meeting those criteria at this point.

      3. AdAgencyChick*

        I disagree. A company that’s located in a city where a large percentage of workers depend on public transportation certainly *can* insist that everybody give 100% regardless of what the transportation situation is…but those that do so should expect that once the snow melts, the best employees will think about moving somewhere that’s more willing to share the burden.

        NYC has not had it nearly as bad as Boston but both this year and last year, winter has definitely eaten into productivity. My employer has been good about this by being flexible about allowing work-from-home arrangements and closing the office early on days like yesterday when the commute was expected to be especially treacherous. Could they have insisted that all employees work as though there were no weather issues? Sure. Did they reap a lot of goodwill by not doing so? Yes.

        Of course, it does matter whether or not your physical presence at the office is necessary to do your job well. But even if it is, I would argue that there’s a business case for trying to share the burden between employees and employer in some way (say, having lighter coverage in mornings and early evenings, and allowing employees to rotate who has to start commuting extra early or end extra late). If there’s a vibe of “we’re all in this together,” then employees who have other options aren’t going to be as inclined to take those other options.

        1. AdAgencyChick*

          (that being said — I missed the part about OP being nonexempt. I wouldn’t expect an employer to pay for hours not worked, although I think it would be a kindness to allow and pay for work from home wherever possible.)

    2. fposte*

      I agree with TCO, I’m afraid. Whether it should be true or not, pay is for hours worked, not hours away from home, so the fact that it takes you longer to get home late isn’t something most workplaces are going to factor into their payroll.

    3. Nobody*

      When you say you’re “also getting home late from work,” do you mean that you’re staying late to make up the time when you were late, or are you referring to the fact that your commute takes longer?

      If you’re making up the time by staying late, then the company should definitely pay you for the full day. But if you are working fewer hours because you’re arriving late, you should not expect them to pay you for time you didn’t work, even if it was caused by the weather. I assume you’re saving money by using public transportation instead of owning a car, and that’s your choice, not the company’s. They shouldn’t have to eat the cost of you choosing to take a less reliable form of transportation.

      1. TCO*

        Yes, this is what I’m confused about. If you’re still working your usual amount of hours, but just shifting them back due to transit delays, it would be nice if your boss were flexible about that (since it sounds like your exact schedule isn’t too important). But I thought you were asking about whether your company should essentially accept that you’ll be working fewer hours because your commute is longer.

      2. Snow Related Lateness*

        I am not making up time by staying late– what I meant was, I am losing time at work and time at home due to the commute (doubled or tripled on some days). I don’t have that kind of flexibility in my home life, unfortunately, which is why I asked my manager early on what the expectations were. I figured at least if I knew what they expected, I could make an informed choice about eating lost wages or going to extraordinary lengths to get to work on time. They never responded (I asked several times).

        1. TCO*

          In the absence of explicit permission to work fewer hours, then I think it’s your responsibility to work your full hours.

          1. Snow Related Lateness*

            Initially, my administrator explicitly told me to write the actual time I arrive to work on my timesheet, but to just enter in totals as if it was a regular 9-5 day. No one ever said anything to the contrary, despite some side-eye.

            1. QAT Contractor*

              Regardless of what your administrator told you, this is fraud and could get you, the admin and the company in a lot of trouble. I would only mark the hours you are actually working, not what your schedule says.

              Get clarification from your boss as to exactly what is expected of you. If it means having to get up and take the early train and stay late as well as your mom sacrificing her time to watch the baby more, then that might just be what has to happen until the transit is figured out.

              It sucks to deal with, but if you want to remain employed, you have to meet expectations of your employer.

              1. MsM*

                You might even want to consider putting together a memo proposing how you’d like to handle it (complete with explanations for why this is the optimal solution for both you and the company), and getting feedback from the boss on whether that matches their expectations.

        2. Colette*

          I’m not sure that’s the right question to ask, though. I’d assume their expectation is that you’ll be at work as usual. Since that is an issue for you, I think you need to be clear about why (i.e. “there are only too trains, so. I can come in early and leav early, or come in late”) and ask them to help you figure out the best solution,

        3. Big boss*

          Absent any other instructions, their expectation should be assumed to be that you work your usual hours. I’d expect a day or two of leniency to begin with, while you figure out how to make that work in these conditions, but after that it’s really on you to get to work on time.

    4. CheeryO*

      IMO, you have to do what you can to try to get to work on time, including leaving obscenely early. I know that the situation in Boston right now is extreme, but it’s just as easy for the employer to ask you to suck it up for the next few weeks as it is for you to ask them to allow you to be an hour late some days.

        1. Lizzie*

          We’re currently 2 inches short of the #1 spot.

          (I won’t complain if we don’t hit it.)

    5. IndieGir*

      Can you shift your hours? I’m in Boston as well, and they eliminated my normal train and the next one is routinely 1/2 an hour late. So I’ve been taking the one that goes in an hour earlier, which has been more reliable, then taking an earlier train home. Perhaps that would work for you — the early trains seem to do better. And yes, it is killing me getting up an hour earlier, but it is killing me less than sitting on the train for 2 hours in each direction. Actually, in the evening it was standing for two hours — if you made it on the train, it was a miracle to get a seat.

    6. SJP*

      You say you’re leaving work at the usual time or a bit earlier..
      Well if it’s taking you say an extra hour to get in, well leave an hour than usual to make up for it. Yes public transport I understand is rough in the US right now with the weather but make more of an effort to leave earlier and hopefully you’ll be less late/end up on time…
      I sympathise but leaving even earlier than you have been should help..

      1. Snow Related Lateness*

        I have an 8 month old baby that I need to pass off to my (exceedingly kind and generous) mom, who babysits during the week. Leaving an hour or two early just isn’t an option for me. I’m not saying I should get special consideration for that, but those are just the circumstances I’m working within.

        1. Case of the Mondays*

          I’m sympathetic but losing your job likely isn’t an option either. You are super lucky you are dealing w/ your mom and not a daycare with set hours. I get that you don’t want to lose that time with your baby but I bet your mom would be willing to watch her earlier on a short time basis given the situation.

          You can certainly discuss the situation with your employer and ask if they will let you reduce your hours do to the situation but I don’t think you can expect them to pay you for that time.

    7. Lo*

      While I very much agree that you are getting paid based on your hours worked, I also want to say that I live in Boston and I know of NO ONE who has not been affected by this year’s snow. People who drive, take the T, commuter rail, walk…It’s been SNOWHELL!

      So: My advice is that it is (long past) time to talk to your boss again. You need to speak up and discuss this more thoroughly in order to see what is going on. My concern is that you say early on you spoke with your manager, but you don’t note that you’ve followed up! Please do that. And I am concerned that you say that you can “see patience is growing thinner”–okay, first of all, you may be misreading the situation, but also, you need to talk to your manager to get their opinion. Ours don’t matter–only those who are paying you do!

      Set some time aside to talk to them. There’s a chance that everyone is actually ok with this–or that they may want tyou to shift hours, etc–but you won’t know until you ask.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Yes, 1000 times this. Talk to your boss, lay out the situation, and see what you can work out. Our opinions aren’t the ones that matter here.

        1. Snow Related Lateness*

          I followed up with the administrator at least 4 times. She was waiting for a response from the owners, and never got one. I think the worst is behind us and I’m mostly back on track with punctuality, but should I have gone over the administrator’s head?

          1. Lo*

            If you haven’t heard back from the owners/administrator, where are you getting the impression from that patience is growing thin? Also, are your coworkers impacted and thus late in the same manner?

    8. sittingduck*

      Unfortunately I agree with the other posters here that say its not the companies problem. Your job is be to there on time and stay the full day – it doesn’t matter to them HOW you do that, just that you do it. If that means you have to get up a hour earlier, and catch an earlier train/bus then so be it.

      While I know this is a temporary hindrance, it reminds of me questions Allison has gotten about a company moving their office and making someone’s commute longer. Allison’s answer is usually that its not he company’s problem and they don’t have to accommodate the fact that your commute is now longer. Some thing here – the company doesn’t need to account for the fact that you have less ‘free’ time now because your mode of transportation to work isn’t as reliable as it was.

      I agree that this royally sucks. I know everyone values their ‘free’ time outside of work, and needs to have a balance in order to maintain sanity, but you might just have to suck it up until the MBTA gets back on its feet and things get back to normal.

    9. Fellow Bostonian*

      Hopefully this reply doesn’t find you too late, but I’m another person snowed in at Boston and still suffering from the effects of the storm. For those of us who rely on the Commuter Rail, it’s absolutely disgraceful that the best case scenario involves a full recovery at the end of March. It’s made my normal 1.5 hour commute into 2.5 hours because I can no longer rely on the train. A few weeks ago, I got stuck on a broken down train for almost 3 hours and was unacceptably late, though thankfully my coworkers were sympathetic to my plight.

      My arrangement with work has been to work from home for 1 day/week to ease the commuting pains ( we have a system where we are connected to the office & available/online during work hours, so it’s tracked that way), to be flexible about my start time – e.g. 10 AM to 6 PM – and to change my commuting route. Instead of relying on the commuter rail to the green line, I drive to Alewife station with its plentiful parking, and then take the red line downtown. Aside from the usual hiccups, most of the subways mid-town have recovered, and I can personally vouch for the red line from Alewife. See if you can find any routes close to your place of work and park at one of the subway stations that offer parking.

      The other thing is – how much do you spend on your commuter rail pass? I spend $330 per month on the CR, but I am *not* paying for it next month. Meanwhile monthly rates at various Boston garages can be anywhere from $370-$500. I’m not going that route personally, but you might consider a cheaper garage near where you work.

      1. blackcat*

        Also, I strongly suspect that most snow will melt in the next week–we’re supposed to have highs in the 40s. Depending on where you live, you might be able to park in a residential neighborhood for free (once there are more parking spaces–so after a bit more melt) and then take one of the main bus lines in (eg, if Arlington or Belmont is on your usual route in, park in those towns and walk to the 77 or 75. I’m sure there are other options from different directions–I just know my area of the burbs). These busses are back to normal, running every 10 minutes, then you can take them to the red line and into down town.

        (Says someone who lives in one such neighborhood who sees people parking on my street to take transit into the city. I grumble at those people taking up all our street parking, but do what you’ve got to do)

    10. C Average*

      Maybe you should offer to collaborate with your leadership in writing a coherent inclement-weather policy for your company.

      I’m only half-kidding. We very rarely have weather severe enough to interfere with work (I’m in Oregon), but my company has an awesome and very thorough inclement-weather policy that gets posted on our internal blog at the beginning of each winter. It outlines the expectations of exempt and non-exempt employees, details contingency plans and work-at-home guidelines, and even covers what happens when we get a snowday on a holiday.

      Having a coherent policy wouldn’t solve your situation, but it would at least clarify what you can expect from your employer and what they can expect from you.

    11. Duh*

      I live in Boston and also rely on public transportation but I haven’t been late to work during the storms. I have anticipated delays and been leaving home significantly earlier than usual. I don’t understand why you couldn’t use foresight to do the same. Do you have kids or are there any other reasons why you can’t leave the house earlier? I kind of think this falls on you to arrive to work on time regardless of the public transportation situation.

  25. Cruciatus*

    Is it crazy to negotiate for vacation time at an entry-level, non-faculty position? I’ve applied to another administrative-type job at a local college that would be a step up from where I am now, though it’s still entry level (wanting 2-4 years experience). The ratings for working there are super high (at least compared to where I work now) but the one thing that gives me slight pause (very slight!) is the 5 vacation days after the first and second years. They do offer all the time off from Christmas to New Year’s so that would be awesome and maybe I’d be happy to just be away from where I am now, but if I stay here one more year I’ll go from 10 days to 15. I feel petty about it, and I’m OK not getting 15 at a new place, but I’d hate to lose those 5 days. If I actually get the job, is it crazy to ask for 10 as a new, entry-level staff person?

    1. Fante*

      It’s not crazy to ask, but considering they have such a structured policy in place, it’s unlikely they’ll budge for a new entry-level employee. You could take another tack, and when receiving an offer mention that you already have a vacation planned that exceeds their 5 day cap. Only do that if it’s true, though…

    2. Lily in NYC*

      5 days?? That is obscene! Would you also get time off whenever school is out, like for spring break? If not, I would try to negotiate. I would never accept a job with only 5 days off. Xmas to NY isn’t all that long so it’s like having two weeks vacation a year, but only one that you get to pick. Blech.

      1. College Career Counselor*

        Depending on the college (public vs private), it may also close for state/federal holidays. That may not be enough to make a difference for you, however.

      2. AdAgencyChick*

        Right? PLEASE tell me that it’s at least “5 vacation plus additional personal/sick leave.”

        1. Cruciatus*

          Where I am now we get 10 days (well, staff does), 8 paid holidays (we get ONLY Christmas Day and New Years’ Day off, no days in between unless you use vacation time). This other school has the 5 days, 12 paid holidays off (including between Christmas and New Years’), and I think 2 personal days. So in the end it’s a bit of a wash, though it’s not ideal because I would like to have more days off when I choose to have them, but in the end it’s very close to the same amount of time. There is also additional sick time.

    3. Anon for this one*

      I’d at least ask. I was surprised when, a few months ago, I asked a hiring manager at my company about what kind of negotiation powers he possessed in bringing in new hires, and vacation time was indeed something he was empowered to work with.

    4. Spooky*

      Honestly, that sounds like a pretty generous leave policy to me – five days plus all that time around the holidays? We get the day of each holiday off, but no more time around them, and six days that become available after six month. I doubt you’re going to get a better offer than that.

      1. Lily in NYC*

        It is not remotely generous. What do you mean “all that time” around the holiday? The time between Xmas and New Years is less than a week. Two weeks off is crap, especially considering she only gets to choose the timing for one of them. I rarely see job postings offering less than three weeks to start and I don’t even bother with the ones that start at two weeks.

          1. Lily in NYC*

            Not anymore it’s not. The average is 14 days for workers in the US (per the bureau of labor and statistics) not including federal holidays.

    5. Sunflower*

      Are you hourly or salaried? As an hourly employee….this doesn’t seem all that strange. Yes it sucks but if you need days off, are you allowed to take them without issue? I’m salaried and got 5 vacation, 7 sick days my first year. It sucked because I felt bad if I needed to take more days off than what I was allowed.

      You can try to negotiate but not sure how much room you would have. I’ve found colleges are pretty strict on their benefits for certain positions. However, they are usually also more generous about vacation time and work/life balance.

    6. MsM*

      In my experience (which is admittedly second-hand, but I have a lot of anecdata from a lot of different places), universities tend to be pretty understanding if you need to take a day off here and there for personal stuff. Just make sure you’ve got at least a few months of solid performance under you first, and make sure it’s not near the end of the fiscal year or homecoming or anything like that.

  26. Gdi*

    Somebody in upper management described my work as “the most insignificant” in an email that went out to everyone.

    PSA don’t do that.

      1. Gdi*

        LOL it was an off-handed comment about sorting things by importance. And I’m taking it as a lesson on the use of office-wide listservs and reply-all.

        1. Sunflower*

          hmm maybe he should have worded it in terms of ‘these are issues we need to address in the order they need to be addressed’

    1. College Career Counselor*

      Could it have been a typo? (not saying it was, but I’ve occasionally had disconnects between brain and fingers when typing)

    2. Ann Furthermore*

      OMG that’s awful! I’m sorry. In the past 2 VP’s have made off-hand, disparaging comments about projects I worked on. Not my work specifically, but the projects in general. Very disheartening.

    3. Ineloquent*

      Ouch.

      I’d look at is as a good opportunity to ask your management ‘How can I take on more responsibility/grow in my role?’ Because, clearly, you’re not hitting their radar in the way you want.

    4. little Cindy Lou who*

      I think it was perhaps an insensitive word choice but personally I appreciate visibility when I get it. It’s a good chance to get in sync with your management team about what you can do to provide more value to the company and grow your career. Ask your manager to understand why that person ranks your work that way and express concern that you would like to work on more essential projects/tasks. You may even learn it’s just that you’re doing fine holding down some key day to day functions but s/he’s really wound up about some particular one time project or a new initiative that doesn’t impact you/yet.

      1. Gdi*

        I’m late getting back to this thread, but this is exactly why he said it. I’m doing well with day-to-day functions and he is focused on other, actually more important things, as well as a new project.

    5. C Average*

      Heh. This reminds me of a few years back, when I had a new manager, and she was trying to quantify the work of each of her direct reports. She spent a day shadowing me and then, at the end of the day, her only comment was, “Well, I don’t think most of the functions of your job could be outsourced.” Awesome.

      (She lasted eight months. Much rejoicing occurred when she left.)

  27. MAB*

    I am waiting for an email back for an informative/informal interview with a very busy manager. I emailed her the requested information about 2 weeks ago and have not heard back. How soon should I respond asking if she is still interested in chatting with me? I don’t want to come across as pushy and nor do I want to sit on it for too long as to come across as uninterested.

    1. Lily in NYC*

      I’m not sure you should push unless she already agreed to do the interview and you were following up by email. It sounds like that might be the case – I think I would wait until mid-week next week and then try again. Do you know if she has an assistant? If so, definitely cc him/her on your email.

      1. MAB*

        I wish I knew if she had an assistant. I would actually be super happy if an assistant reached out to me! She did agree to talk in the near future but with no time frame. Maybe reach out to the original contact again?

        1. Lily in NYC*

          Idea: If you have her direct number, call and see if someone else answers the phone (maybe hide your caller ID). Unless it’s a general receptionist, it’s probably an assistant and you can always ask for his/her email address so you can cc him/her on another email to the boss.

          1. Lily in NYC*

            Oh, and since she expressed interest, don’t feel weird about getting back in touch.

            1. Lily in NYC*

              Sure! It used to be *67 from a landline, not sure if it still is. There’s a way to do it from cells, just google it for your brand.

  28. KMC*

    It’s annual review time! My portion of the company has really grown over the past year+, and I’ve taken on a lot of additional responsibility. I’d like to make a strong case for a new title and a significant raise, but I’m not feeling super confident. Any tips?

    -2 years ago we agreed on a quarterly bonus (for special projects plus certain recurring tasks) and a slight cost of living annual raise. Since then, I’ve acquired a new boss (although old boss is still around, just not overseeing me)

    -we’ve expanded by 30%, and starting using additional software that means extra work (I’m in accounting, and now have to export and review items, where before, I only had to review. Some items won’t export, so it’s a lot of manual journal entries and extra steps). We may lose a couple of locations, but the work we do for them is minimal, so I don’t see a huge decrease in workload.

    -when I originally started this job 3+ years ago, I had an asst helping 30 hours/week – she didn’t work out, so we lost her, and I picked up the slack for about a year (with a slight temporary increase in pay), but with the significant expansion last year, we hired someone else full-time. She also didn’t work out, so we’ve replaced her. I fear that by asking for a raise, they’ll say “but we just hired someone to help you for $X!” even though I originally had 75% of that help.

    -special projects (which my quarterly bonus is based on) are just happening whenever now, and getting added at random times – I think it’s understood that we’ll get done whatever needs to get done, and I don’t think it makes sense for me to pick random special projects (since there’s not much input from my boss’ level on this) to be bonused on. I’d rather have a salary increase and maybe bonuses based on company profitability, if there are bonuses.

    -late last year, I made a couple of mistakes/items that weren’t up to my normal standard – I acknowledged them, and put a plan into place to fix them the next time. I talked to both my boss’ about it, and got an email back from one that was very complimentary and understanding, so I don’t feel like this will be held against me, but due to the overwhelming amount of work in the past year, I did make some mistakes.

    -I’ve also become HR to some degree – we put into place a health insurance and retirement plan, and I am the contact and the one who put everything together. It’s more work than I thought it would be, but I really love doing it.

    -my current boss love to negotiate, so I’m not sure if I should go in asking for more than I want or not. I am very happy with my company and benefits, and I absolutely don’t want to leave.

    1. Dawn*

      When I asked for a new title and a raise at my last job, I went in with a list of everything that had been added since I started at that job. Basically I was a Teapot Analyst and was asking to become a Senior Teapot Analyst, which was an entirely new position that had never existed at my company before.

      I say, go in with a list of everything that you do now and prepare to have a good conversation about the possibility of getting a new job title. Don’t softball, but just point out how much things have changed and blah blah blah and then be open to discussion about it. For me, when I asked for the new title, my manager had to take some time to think about if he thought it made sense for the team and if he thought I deserved it, so even after the conversation that we had I still didn’t get an answer right away.

  29. junipergreen*

    I’m contemplating a move from a Big City to a Small City (which is my hometown), for several reasons: cost of living, real estate possibilities, and to be closer to my family. I’m ready for a new chapter.

    If I pursue this, I’d soon be putting in a request to work remotely, which I expect to have approved. The time zone will be the same, and I’d be a short flight away for the odd occasions that would require me to be in the office. But I’m nervous about a shift to working on my own from home – I love my coworkers and the bustle of the office. Does anyone have any suggestions about managing a switch from office life to working from home? Any lessons learned? I want to be prepared, and know it will be a big adjustment.

    1. Dawn*

      If at all possible set aside a room in your new place to be your office, equip that room like you’d equip an office, and ONLY use that room when you’re working. Other than that, I have found that working from home is immensely freeing once you get into the right mindset. No more commute, no more having to put on clothes if you don’t want to, easy to take a stretch break and throw some laundry in if you need to, no more having to eat out for lunch if you don’t want to, etc etc etc.

    2. Beancounter in Texas*

      I read an article years ago about including telecommuters in the office environment and while this would burden your company more than you, I’ll suggest it for thought. The corporate office had a desk with a computer, monitor, speakers, webcam and a chair set up, streaming the telecommuter’s webcam. This way, office-bound coworkers could “stop by your cube” to chat and the telecommuter could get a sense of what was happening in the office.

      Of course, now you could just Google chat with coworkers or maybe even just instant message.

      1. MsM*

        If that’s not practical, you might consider having designated “office hours” where people other than your immediate supervisor and whoever you work with on a regular basis are encouraged to call or IM and check in with you. Not that you can’t reach out if you need something, but it seems to work pretty well for the out of towners in my office.

        Make sure they’ve got a solid conference call system in place, too. I can’t tell you how many meetings I had to have recapped for me at my last job because I wasn’t able to hear anything while I was in them.

      2. OriginalEmma*

        That’s actually a really clever idea. I wonder how well it works out in reality? Does the telecommuter feel watched or monitored? Does it satisfy office-bound employees and help build inclusivity?

    3. Persephone Mulberry*

      If you like the “bustle” of an office, you might consider occasionally (or routinely) working from a coffee shop to get that same energy. “Co-working spaces” – where you pay a monthly fee to have access to a more officelike environment, usually with wifi or ethernet stations, free coffee, conference rooms, etc. – are becoming very popular where I’m at. It’s probably more of an urban phenomenon, but depending on how strong the “everybody knows your name” vibe is in your hometown, you might be able to informally set up a similar arrangement with a local business.

      Ack…”so” “many” “quotes” in this post.

    4. jamlady*

      I’m not sure if you’re hourly/salary or work regularly with people or if you’re more independent, but I have worked from home A LOT in the past. Each time was hourly, so I was VERY strict about charting down my hours. If I needed to sign off for an hour for whatever reason, I shot my supervisor a quick e-mail when I left and a quick e-mail when I got back on. She trusted me, but I ALWAYS did this as a courtesy because I worked almost entirely on my own in this position. Another position I had was higher level, so this courtesy wasn’t for my supervisor but for those I supervised. This position was much less independent and I actually worked in the office around the clock for the first half of the contract and then in a totally different state for the second half. Remote was doable, but it was basically a thing about making yourself available around the clock and A LOT of scheduling phone/e-mail conversations (even for little things) in order to keep everyone on the same page. It worked out fine, but because you’re the one that’s away, it’s really important to hold yourself accountable and be available so that you not being there doesn’t make anyone else’s job harder. It’s very nice that you’re close enough just in case a big meeting pops up where you need to be physically present. Hopefully it gets approved with no issue and you enjoy it! I really love working from home haha.

    5. catsAreCool*

      I like having music on when I work. Working in a quiet room is tough for me.

      Remember to get up every now and then. It’s easy to get so lost in work that a person doesn’t get up.

      I put a few mirrors in my room so that I can look into 1 mirror and see the reflection from a mirror that it’s looking into – gives me a chance to stretch my eyes.

      Fortunately, friends and family know that I’m working, even if I’m working from home.

    6. AnotherFed*

      I just started teleworking this winter, thanks to weather and some policy adjustments at work. I also like the bustle of my office, and find that part of why I like my job is the crazy interruptions to solve really strange problems. I’m only an occasional remote worker (which might be making it harder), and I’m not finding it as easy as being in an office, but here’s some things I’ve learned:

      1. Dedicate space to working. This can be as simple as using the dining room table instead of the living room sofa, just make a specific switch from not-work space to work space.

      2. Enforce structure. I find I can’t let myself take 2 minutes to swap laundry or 10 minutes to take the dog out or 5 minutes to make myself a quick snack, because then every time I get up for any reason, I do one or more of the added things. It doesn’t seem like much until I add up all that time and realize it’s 1-2 hours.

      3. Butt in chair – yes, you’re working from home and no one cares if you’re still wearing your pajamas, but still get up when the alarm goes off and get working at the regular time. And on the opposite end, once your day is over, do your best to disconnect except for truly urgent things.

      4. Find other reasons to get out of the house. Even if you’re an introvert, many people (and definitely me!) start to feel cooped up if you don’t get out and do something fairly regularly. Little things like going to the gym, running out for groceries, going to pick up takeout, or taking the dog to the dog park help abate that.

  30. IrishGirl*

    This came into my head as I was browsing through the archives yesterday – Do people view sick leave as a benefit or an insurance scenario?

    I’m curious, because at home it’s definitely seen as an insurance policy. We do have legally mandated vacation (minimum 20 days per year plus statutory holidays), which may affect people’s opinions. Sick days are most commonly viewed as something to be used in the case that you are ill enough to be unable to complete your job, not as additional paid days off. It’s also not really done (or allowed afaik) to take sick days if you yourself aren’t sick – you can’t take a sick day to care for a sick relative for example. Another (relatively common) aspect is that while you may have generous sick leave allowances (govt employees get up to six months in a rolling four year period), it’s far more common to be required to produced a doctor’s certificate if you can’t work. I have a friend who worked for the government; their old policy allowed up to seven days sick leave per year without medical certification, this was cut back to three days (while keeping the number of days allowed in total) because employees were viewing the non-certified sick leave as extra vacation.

    Curious to hear people’s thoughts.

    1. KMC*

      I’m in the US. We have 15 days at my company, and it was actually stated to me as 10 vacation days and 5 sick/PTO days.

      I will normally try to leave a day or so in case I get sick at end of year, but otherwise, I schedule them as vacation days or use them for doctor’s appointments, etc.

    2. Sascha*

      I’m in the US, and I see it as a benefit. I use my sick days for various things – being sick myself, needing to take care of a sick dependent, doctor’s appointments. I have never had to provide a doctor’s note to prove I or my dependent was sick. However, that’s not to say a doctor’s note isn’t required sometimes, but it’s usually not a blanket policy, at least not in the places I have worked. Doctor’s notes are usually reserved for serious conditions (hospitalization, FMLA) or if the manager suspects the employee is abusing the sick leave.

      1. jamlady*

        haha I had an annoying employer (very brief contract) who was obsessed with people’s sick days and was convinced everyone was lying and would require mounds of paperwork (once you hit the 3-day mark). I was in the hospital for a week and I brought her a binder of paperwork along with pictures of me laying in the hospital bed doing breathing treatments while my med team held various weird items (such as a giant stuffed lobster) around my bed. We also had one zoomed into my heart rate on the monitor and you could see a nurse’s huge :( expression in the reflection haha. My boss was not pleased. Just being thorough… :)

    3. Nobody*

      I look at it more like insurance, although that’s partly because I have been working at companies that give a lot of sick time. I worked at my last job long enough to have 8 weeks of sick leave per year. In that case, I think it’s obvious that the company didn’t intend to allow me to take 8 extra weeks of vacation if I didn’t get sick. They certainly couldn’t afford to give every employee 8 weeks off per year (in addition to vacation time). I’m sure they counted on only a few employees using the full amount of sick leave in any given year (say, if they had major surgery or a serious illness), and the rest just using a few days per year — and only when they’re actually sick. We were not allowed to use sick leave for doctor’s appointments or to take care of a family member.

    4. CheeryO*

      I get 13 sick days per year, so I view it as insurance more than a benefit. I use some of it to go to medical appointments, but I let the rest accumulate just in case. Perks of saving sick days (other than for a health crisis of your own) are that they can be donated to a coworker or “cashed out” for an earlier retirement.

    5. Olive Hornby*

      I’d say I see it more as insurance than as a benefit — we have a very generous vacation policy and are encouraged to use all of our vacation days and personal days, but sick days are really just for when you’re actually sick. We don’t require doctor’s notes or anything (unless it’s a long enough illness that the company’s short-term disability policy would kick in), so it’s on the honor system, but people don’t tend to view them as days that can be used up in the way that vacation/personal time would be.

    6. JC*

      I am in the US, and I view sick leave as insurance. I’ve worked for the US federal government and for a private company. Both gave separate buckets of sick and vacation leave, let you use sick leave to care for others who were sick (also for things like bereavement), and don’t require doctor’s notes. Both also pay you for your unused vacation leave, but not sick leave, when you separate (although the US federal govt now gives you credit towards the years of service calculation in your pension for unused sick time, to combat people being “sick” for a few months before retiring).

    7. Sabrina*

      I’m in the US and I see it as a benefit. I get 15 PTO days a year. Sick, vacation, doesn’t matter. There’s no government mandated days off, sick days, holidays, etc.

    8. AmyNYC*

      I get 10 vacation days that roll over and 5 sick days that are use-em-or-lose-em. I see sick days as a benefit, and will take mental health/don’t feel like it days if I haven’t used them up late in the year.

    9. Amtelope*

      We’ve moved to 24 days per year of combined PTO with no distinction between sick leave and vacation time, so to me it’s a benefit. It’s expected that if you’re not unexpectedly sick or otherwise dealing with an emergency, you’ll get approval in advance to take PTO. But there’s no requirement to show a doctor’s note or other proof that you are having an emergency. As long as people are getting their work done, it’s fine for them to take personal time (and if they’re not getting their work done, that’s the issue — in my department, we need X number of teapots made by Y date, not X number of people at their desks every minute of every day).

    10. Anonsie*

      If the time is separated into sick and vacation categories, I think most people agree that the sick leave is only for time that you are actually sick. Some places do allow sick day use for care of someone else who is ill or doctor’s appointments when you are actually well, which I think is the best possible way to categorize it, but I wouldn’t fault a company entirely for not allowing those uses. The other side to that is that if you’re someone who rarely needs a sick day, you might take one for a day when you were just mildly under the weather, which I think is where the “benefit” side comes in. That time is allotted to you and, if you are unwell in any way and can swing being away, I would say it’s fair to take it. If you’re already out a lot for regular illness, though, I don’t think you could justify taking more days when you didn’t really need to.

      I do think it’s short-sighted not to allow doctor’s appointments for sick leave. People with chronic illnesses (like me) have a lot of doctor’s appointments on a regular basis to make sure you don’t get sick in the first place, which can drain your vacation time really fast. Since we don’t often get the same generous allotment of vacation time that you do, that means I can’t really take vacations the way my healthy colleagues can, which is crummy. Sometimes it means having to delay your appointments for long periods of time, which is double crummy.

    11. sittingduck*

      I work for a small company in the US. I get 5 ‘sick’ days a year. This time can be used if I am sick, if a dependent is sick, or if either of us has a doctors appt or other medical related issue. I used a day when I got into a car accident and was just mentally shaken (although physically okay).

      We are told that our ‘sick’ days are not vacation/personal days. We get 2 weeks vacation, and 3 ‘personal’ days as well. Those can be used however we want. The ‘sick’ days, though, must be used for health related things.

      If we don’t use the sick or personal days within the calender year, we loose them, but 5 of the vacation days can be ‘rolled over’.

    12. Snargulfuss*

      We’re explicitly told that sick leave is a benefit. Disability insurance (at least in my case) wouldn’t kick in for 90 days, so a bank of sick leave time is insurance to cover costs if disability is ever needed.

    13. Lizzie*

      It’s definitely insurance for me. It’s actually spelled out in my contract that sick days are to be used when I’m so ill that I can’t perform my job functions and that every effort must be made to schedule medical appointments outside of working hours. Employees with dependents (children, mostly, but I have some coworkers who care for older parents/other relatives) can also use sick days to care for said dependents. I think there’s something in there about doctor’s notes for X number of days absent, but I can’t remember what X is offhand.

  31. Beancounter in Texas*

    I’ve commented before that my husband is job hunting and was concerned about a contract gig looking bad on his resume. Well, the contract gig was rescinded due to internal actions beyond the hiring managers control. It bites, but it’s done.

    We met with an executive search firm and they’re offering their active job search services for a lovely fee of $7,250 for a 12 month relationship. For free, they’ve put him in the recruiting pool; this fee pays for services of them tapping existing relationships with companies to land him a job, plus grooming him to make the most of interviews, etc. They claim a 90% success rate and the perk that many companies will reimburse the new hire for the fee. I’m suffering from a little sticker shock, but the lure of being reimbursed is hooking me, in spite of the hardship it will put on us now. Hubby wants to shop around and compare.

    In speaking with a coworker about the firm, she raved about her husband never went more than a week without a job and how our husbands should network. Both her and her husband have the philosophy that you should never have to pay to look for a job. It’s rather catchy. But neither of them have landed executive positions either. I don’t want to dismiss this advice simply because searching for an executive position is lauded as a whole other game, but I also value the services offered. I don’t know if I value them enough to cough up seven grand, but the soft skills they’ll teach can’t be taken back.

    What’s your opinion? Is finding an executive position a different game from landing a regular ol’ job? Are executive search firms worth it?

    1. Rex*

      $7,250 for “services”?!? Sorry, this sounds like a rip-off, and taking advantage of desperate job seekers, no less. If he’s talented, it’s already in their best interests (and they’re no doubt making $$$ from the companies) to place him in a job. If he’s executive level, he probably already knows what to do in a job interview, and there is plenty of free info out there.

      1. College Career Counselor*

        Agreed. Executive search firms should be reimbursed for their services by the EMPLOYER, not the prospective employee.

      2. Beancounter in Texas*

        I think the passive job hunt is covered. He’s already in the recruiter’s candidate pool, where employers pay up to 30% of the new hire’s salary to the search firm. But that means waiting for the right job to come along.

        And in spite of being an executive level person, this is actually his first job search since he was in high school. After high school, he started a business, merged it with Company X and became their employee, rising to VP through his own effort. They terminated him without warning in December (hubby saw it coming, but expected it later rather than sooner) and here he is, job hunting for the first time in his professional career in his mid-30’s.

        1. Rex*

          I think either way, he is “waiting for the right job to come along”. Just because the recruiter is promoting him doesn’t magically make him a better candidate. I am still highly skeptical that this is anything other than smoke and mirrors, and it’s more than a little sketchy given than it is finding people in a time of weakness and charging very large sums of money.

    2. safe from pain and truth and choice and other poison devils*

      First thing, I’d do some googling to see if this kind of thing really is an accepted practice.

      Second, I’d want a list of names and contact info of people who have paid the money and used the service and been placed into lovely high-paying executive positions.

      *shrug* it may be a legit practice for certain categories of jobs. But it also sounds like one of those scams where “you just won $1,000,000!” – but you have to pay several hundred dollars in fees before you can receive the money.

    3. Ask a Manager* Post author

      No, absolutely not. You should never pay to look for a job. Moreover, most of these job search services — even exec level ones — are pretty bad. You could be paying a huge amount for services that are likely to suck.

    4. MsM*

      Yeah, no. The executive search firms I’m familiar with all work directly with the companies to identify candidates, and get their fees from them. None of this “oh, you can probably get reimbursed!” stuff.

  32. Nobody Here By That Name*

    How much should one worry about dropping titles when changing jobs? Currently I’m Teapot Production Manager. A colleague at another company says they have an opening for a Teapot Production Analyst. According to her, because this is a bigger and more well known Teapot making company, the title doesn’t matter as much as the paycheck does. In other words, it’s more impressive on one’s resume to be a Teapot Production Analyst in King’s Landing instead of Teapot Production Manager at the Wall.

    Which is possibly true, but I can’t help but feel that someone looking at my resume would see this as a step down, and wonder why I felt the need to take it. But this may also be due to me being over-sensitive because of how long it’s taken me to earn my current title. Thoughts?

    1. Dawn*

      Compare the job responsibilities and make your own judgement. I’ve come to realize I don’t want to work for anyone not smart enough to look past my title and see what my actual job responsibilities were- if my interviewers are only looking at titles and not actual duties, then they’re not very good at what they do.

        1. jamlady*

          Also, how important is that in your industry? It’s common in mine for people to jump up and down a lot because we do so much short-term work, but that may not be the same in your situation. That being said, I agree with Dawn. Responsibilities matter – a title is just some words.

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        Yes, this. All I’ve done my whole career is rise and drop in titles… from assistant director to receptionist to associate director to director to analyst. Don’t get too hung up on titles. Many titles are inflated anyway.

  33. hildi*

    You know the proverbial 7-Year-Itch in marriage? Does that happen in one’s career, too? I’ve been in my current position for 8.5 years and I’m just not digging it anymore. I don’t really know what’s happened, either. I think I posted about this a few weeks ago or something, and I don’t really have anything new to say, but I’m an external processer so this exercise just helps me, I guess :)

    I’m trying to decide if I truly and over my position or if this is a normal low-point and I just need to ride it out? When I decide I’m done with something, I’m well and truly done and I don’t regret it. In other words, I do know my own mind and I trust my gut, yet I keep waffling, so I’m feeling like I’m stuck between knowing I want to do something different, but not feeling brave enough to just move on it.

    I do know what I’m kind of getting tired of classroom training – I still want to be in the field of training and development. Despite myself I do really like helping adults learn and grow. I just really don’t like having to be “on” all the time in a classroom. I don’t like the feeling anymore of being judged or knowing that I may not be hitting the mark with people (and not really knowing about it until after the fact when I can’t do anything about it!). I also don’t like not knowing whether I’m really helping anyone or not due to the very generalized nature of my classes. I know I’m generally liked by the majority of people that come through my classes, but I don’t get that satisfaction of seeing if I’m having an impact on anyone. The need to have a deeper, more ongoing experience with a learner is something that keeps bubbling to the surface whenever I think of it.

    Bah. I am just yammering, but I hoped that’s what Friday Open Thread is for. :)

    1. Malissa*

      Get your resume together and apply for anything intersting. If you don’t look you don’t know if what you are doing is a sweet deal still or if something better really is out there.

      1. Dang*

        Hildi, do you work in ABE?? I did some work with adult ed programs in grad school and have had a general interest in it ever since, but I can’t figure out a way to get involved aside from being a literacy tutor, which requires a training only once or twice a year that always seems to be during a time I’m away!

        Anyway, I don’t doubt at all that you’re making a HUGE difference, even if it’s not totally quantifiable in your head. But there’s no harm in looking to see what’s out there and doing it somewhat seriously- you might find something that you never thought of that would be a great fit- or you might find a renewed interest in your own job! One never knows.

        1. hildi*

          Thanks for the kind words! I suspect you’re right that I’ll either find something that’s a better fit for now or I’ll find renewed interest in my own job. I don’t work in ABE (is that Adult Basic Education? Or something similar?). I’d really like to do work with adults in that realm, too. Going more in-depth with people. I have checked with the local community college to see if I have anything they’d be interested in me teaching, but they don’t. Dang. I think that’s one of those jobs we hear about if you’re in a grad program like Adult Education & Training, but don’t actually know anyone that does it. :)

    2. Lore*

      I went through that a few years ago, and I agree with Malissa. Looking at what’s out there, and exploring options, can really help–both because it can help you to crystallize what the issues with your current job are and whether they’re solvable without leaving, and because it can give you a real concrete comparison to see if you’d be happier at job X. I ended up interviewing for a bunch of jobs and getting a few offers (though not of course the jobs I’d have jumped to leave for, sigh)–and the process of thinking through the offers definitely helped me to think up a plan for the changes I’d need to stay, and gave me the courage to talk to my manager about them. Which has not been an easy process, it must be said–it took almost two years, and a change in managers, to get past “I hear your concerns and we’ll see what we can do” followed by crickets and to some actual new responsibilities and finally a promotion.

      1. hildi*

        Thanks, Lore! You make a really good point about crystallizing the issues I’m having here as I do a job search and/or coming up with a plan for change here if I stay.

    3. dd*

      Make the move. You’ve gotten comfortable with it and it is a safe job but not what you want to do. Don’t waste your time in a job if you are no longer interested.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      I definitely believe in the 7 year itch in work places. It may come at year 5 or year 9. But I think it’s a real thing.
      I think it comes from something inside us that knows we can do more and it is time to move on.

    5. C Average*

      There’s something here that stands out to me: “I don’t like knowing if I’m helping anyone or not.”

      When you’re in your early career and you’re getting trained and supervised, if you’re doing well you constantly have someone telling you so. That kind of feedback is really fun to receive.

      As your career progresses, not only do you not have people watching and praising you if you’re doing a good job, but the good job you’re doing becomes your baseline, and if you want to get noticed and appreciated, you have to keep doing BETTER. It’s not like you get to “good” and just coast.

      And if you’re in a role that doesn’t get much feedback, it’s hard to give so much to it and get . . . just a paycheck and an annual review.

      Even reasonable-sized egos need some stroking.

      This morning in a meeting my manager said something nice about a project I’d done that I literally thought no one had noticed. That gave me as much pleasure as I would have gotten from a bonus check! Being noticed, having people tell us our work matters, knowing it makes a difference whether we do our best or phone it in . . . these can be hard to come by when you’ve been quietly doing excellent work in the same role for a long time.

      Sorry, I don’t have a solution. Just empathy.

      1. hildi*

        Thanks, C Average. I am going to share this with my husband (because ironically we both have the same boss; different roles; different food chain; but same boss) and we have been talking more about this exact thing at home. You captured the feeling very well. Much empathy! Thanks!

    6. Windchime*

      I tend to get the itch around year 3 or 4. It’s happening at this job, right on cue. I love the workplace and the team, I’m just going to try to see if there can be some changes to my role. I’m fine with the money and all that….just bored and ready to do something challenging.

  34. loquaciousaych*

    I was fired Tuesday from a job that was a horrible fit. (I wrote about it a couple weeks ago in the open thread.)

    I was fired for a violation of their attendance policy. I was admittedly late several times and finally figured out a good route to work that would allow me to be on time and was on track to never being late again when I got stuck in a snowdrift, and that led to my termination. This is probably the biggest “hiccup” in my professional career ever, and it has never been a problem before this job. I don’t expect it to be a problem again.

    I’ve had four interviews, so I’m headed in the right direction. I’d love any advice or comments on how to handle/get ahead of the attendance issue so that I can present myself as a viable candidate.

    1. fposte*

      Can you talk about what you’d do in advance to prevent it from happening in the new job, rather than waiting until after it happened to correct it?

    2. Ihmmy*

      Tell yourself you start 15-20 minutes before you actually do. Or that you at least want to get there that early so you can take off your jacket, make a coffee, get comfortable, etc.

      1. jamlady*

        I’m one of those people that’s 10 minutes early to everything (minimum) and a big part of that is that I’m such a planner. I don’t see 8 am as the time to be there, I see 8 am as the time I should be opening up my report or getting into the work truck to make my way out for the day. I personally need the extra 10 or 15 minutes in the morning to prep for my day. That time is for me. If, like Ihmmy suggests, you start thinking about the fact that all that you do for you before your work day is for you and not for your job (ugh so many words), then you’ll start thinking your work day actually starts 10-15 minutes earlier than that 8 am start time (or whatever).

    3. AmyNYC*

      I saw good advice somewhere else about this – plan to go to the gym/get coffee/run errands near your office before work, then if you’re running late, you can skip the plans and still get to work on time.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      It sounds to me that if you had a good fit at the old job then this never would have happened.
      Think about how you avoided this with previous jobs, some of those techniques will probably still work once you have a job with a good fit.

  35. AMD*

    I manage a retail pharmacy, open 9am to 9pm, and my staff rotate shifts so everybody works their fair share of night shifts and weekends. I have a mediocre employee who asked me recently if she could switch to all daylight shifts because her elderly husband drives her to work and is a very bad, dangerous driver, especially at night. I’ve told her she needs to talk to her husband about this, and her response is, “He doesn’t listen to me. What else am I supposed to do? I don’t want to five and I don’t have anyone else.”

    I’ve told her I can’t put her on daylight shifts only, but she still acts like getting her a way to work is my problem. I also feel guilty because it sounds like her husband has nearly wrecked their car several times recently because of his bad driving, and I don’t want this lady to get hurt or killed, but…

    Is saying directly “It is your responsibility to get to work safely. I cannot change your shifts in a way that puts an unfair burden on the other staff because you cannot arrange your transportation” okay? Is there a better way to say this? I have said if she wanted to rip to part-time then we accommodate her shifts better, but she says that she needs the benefits and so cannot afford to do that… She has also been talking about retiring for a year or two, but I feel like it would be inappropriate for me to bring that up.

    1. TCO*

      I think that’s perfectly fair to say. You’re not very concerned with retaining this employee, so why bend over backwards to accommodate her? However, I do think you owe it to her to be really clear that you’re not going to change your mind of this, and so if she really needs all-daytime hours, you’ll be understanding and supportive if she needs to find a new job. She might need that prompting to get a serious reality check that this situation just isn’t tenable for anyone. Is there another branch you could help her transfer to, one that can accommodate her schedule and/or has public transportation to her home?

      I know you’re sympathetic to her (who wouldn’t be?!) and want her to have the income/benefits she needs while keeping a dangerous man off of the roads. In terms of morale of the rest of your staff, you want to handle this carefully. You don’t want to give her so much special treatment (especially since she’s not a high performer) that they begin to resent taking on the burden of working all of the “bad” shifts. But you also want your team to see that you’re not cold and heartless, so be firm while still being compassionate.

    2. Nobody*

      How about something like this: “I need you to work XYZ schedule in order to make sure all of the shifts are covered. If you’re not available to work those hours, I’m going to need to move you to part-time/replace you with someone who can work those hours. Can you commit to working the hours I need you?” And if she says no, set a date for her last day (or for her to go part-time). The situation sucks, but you’re totally right that her transportation isn’t your responsibility.

    3. Meg Murry*

      Have you asked your staff whether any of them actually prefer all nights and weekends? Its possible you could have people who WANT to work more nights and weekends if they have a second job, or so they can trade off childcare with a spouse and not pay for daycare or to take classes at the community college or any number of reasons.

      I would ask your staff whether anyone wants to volunteer for nights and weekends, and if you have enough coverage then you could accomodate her – but otherwise I agree with your plan, and that you can’t just give her only daylight hours and stick everyone else with the crummy shifts.

      1. Camellia*

        This is a great idea. My first thought on the constantly changing shifts was ouch! How can you adjust to a schedule if it is constantly changing?

    4. Arjay*

      I agree that your position here is fine. I wonder though if there’s room for her to work “daylight” shifts if she would commit to working every weekend? Do you have staff that would be willing to cover more evening hours if that meant they could work fewer weekend hours? Just a suggestion, understanding that it may not be viable in your workplace.

      1. Dynamic Beige*

        If she’s near retirement (or talking about it) and her husband is elderly, I would bet she’s never learned how to drive. Which isn’t a very good idea to rely on one person in the house for all the transportation, it may work when people are young, but when they get old like the husband? What is she going to do when he has to give up his keys? It sounds like that day is coming, one way or another.

        Does she have some children in the area who can pick her up at night? I know it’s not your responsibility to help her with her transportation, but maybe she hasn’t considered all her options.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      Any customer facing job I have had came with the requirement of having your own transportation.
      You can probably lay it on the line here. I think your biggest concern could be that this person’s work is not that great and it would not be a loss to the place if she left. This causes a lot of people to over think and strain to be “extra fair” because of negative bias, when they really don’t have to.
      If you think of it this way, she is asking someone to take care of her night shift hours for her. And what happens during the winter, is she going to need to be out by 4 so he can drive home in the daylight?
      I think I would tell her to look around and see if she can car pool home with someone. Maybe there is an adjacent store that is also open and she could find someone there?

  36. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

    So – I have a pregnant employee who is crying – a lot – both in internal meetings and in meetings with stakeholders or funders. Any little thing that is new, different, or puts something on her plate leaves her crying. And not just a few tears – somewhere between quiet crying and sobbing that goes on for 20 – 30 minutes (or until the meeting ends). Excusing herself briefly doesn’t seem to help. It’s at least 3 times a week. I’ve worked with her for a long time, and this is totally new since she’s been pregnant.

    I do completely understand that she’s dealing with hormonal issues, but the crying is having an impact on the vibe of meetings because people are hesitant to say anything (no matter how benign) that might upset her, and some of our stakeholders are questioning how professional she is. I’m sure that we’re not hearing some things from our stakeholders that we need to hear because of the fear of making a pregnant lady cry even harder. It’s not practical for me to remove all these meetings from her job.

    I’d love to know about AAM readers would address this, and would also like to hear from people who have been pregnant how controllable/not controllable this might be.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Can you talk to her about in a pretty matter-of-fact way? Has she said anything about it herself? I think my first step would be to brainstorm with her about what solutions might look like, assuming she realizes it’s an issue (and how could she not?).

      1. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

        Yes. She brought it up with me privately immediately after the first time it happened, and we’ve talked about it a few times sense (mostly while she’s sitting in my office trying to talk between sobs). She’s been very apologetic, and seems surprised that is happening to her (she’s got a pretty even temperament). However, I haven’t said, “we have to find a way to get this to stop – or at least decrease a lot”. I guess my hesitation is that it seems like a condition related to her pregnancy and I don’t know if it’s any more reasonable to ask her to stop crying than it is to ask her to stop having morning sickness. I’ve never been pregnant, so I’m not feeling confident about what is reasonable.

        1. TCO*

          I wonder if she should check in with her doctor or EAP. She really needs to have ownership over this issue by bringing some solutions (or even attempted solutions) to the table.

        2. Ask a Manager* Post author

          I think it’s less “we have to find a way to get this to stop” and more “here are the reasons I think we need to find solutions for client (or other) meetings, and let’s talk about what might be possible.” That way you’re not saying “make your body stop having a physical reaction that you might not be able to control right now” and instead it’s “this is problematic because of ___ so let’s figure out what to do.”

          1. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

            That makes sense as a more appropriate frame. She’s basically said that she really doesn’t know what to do and just can’t help it, but perhaps I’m not doing a great job explaining why it’s a problem. Her focus is more on the fact that she’s feeling embarrassed.

            To respond to a comment below, it’s not that new things are being piled onto her plate, it’s more that she’s in a role where she’s part of making decisions about all kinds of things all the time, and the idea of even thinking through something overwhelms her.

            We do have an EAP – I hadn’t thought about that. I love the EAP – it really helps people realize see the line between their personal needs and their employer’s needs, which at the same time getting some support.

            1. Observer*

              Also, suggest that she talk to her doctor. Normally, I would say that it really is not your place to tell someone to see a doctor, but this is directly affects her work. And, by the way, what she is experiencing is NOT “normal”. It’s not unheard of, but it’s actually something that her doctor should be taking seriously because it’s often linked to underlying or incipient medical conditions (which many OB’s are ignorant of / tend to ignore, so she’s going to have to bring it up and be fairly insistent that her doctor check this out thoroughly before accepting a brush off.)

        3. LMW*

          If she’s not used to dealing with crying as an involuntary reaction (which it can be), she’s probably having a hard time getting a handle on it. I would think it is pretty similar to morning sickness. It might help to think of it as a physical reaction rather than an emotional one.
          Perhaps rather than approaching this as “we have to find a way to get this stop” conversation, you can say “Here are some of the things that I’m concerned about. We need to find a way to avoid these issues.” Of course the ideal would be that she stops crying. But if that can’t/doesn’t happen, how else can you handle it?
          I feel for both of you. That’s such an awkward position to be in!

          1. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

            That’s sort of my question – she feels like she can’t do anything about it. And I don’t really know how to tell someone how to stop crying. I think that the EAP or the doc might be the right move…neither one of us has come up with anything.

            1. Not So NewReader*

              Under other circumstances, you can tell a crying person that it is okay to cry. That for me, has been the quickest way to get them to STOP crying. It’s validation.

              In this case, though that probably is not going to work. I think that it is physiological in basis, having fought with similar things myself (for reasons other than pregnancy) I know first hand when a person is low on particular vitamins or minerals it is dang near impossible to keep the tear ducts in check. In short, check in with the doc and let him know what is going on.

          2. Mephyle*

            Since everything points toward the crying being a physical reaction, she is probably not even crying because she’s upset. I mean she’s upset that she’s crying, but not particularly upset about the issue that triggered it. Since she’s feeling shame or mortification about the crying itself, she may not have made that connection.

      2. Meg Murry*

        Since being pregnant means that she will be taking maternity leave at some point, could you start ramping up whoever is going to cover her leave now, so there are less new things being put on her plate?
        Could she participate in some of the meetings from a conference call, so if she does have a negative reaction she could have it without anyone seeing it? Or is there any way for her to have a preview of the agenda so less things come as a shock to her?
        Do you have an EAP? Could you suggest she use it to talk to someone to either help her if she’s feeling overwhelmed in general or to help her find some coping mechanisms when she’s about to cry?
        Also, could you ask (in a kind way) if she is getting enough sleep and suggest she take a sick day or work from home day to catch up on sleep if not? When I am in an already emotional state, not getting enough sleep will help tip me over the edge into crying at the drop of a hat.
        Last, and not really recommended – but if everyone knows she’s pregnant, if she leaves the room in a hurry with a hand over her mouth, they will think she’s going to leave to be sick, not cry – and then she could stay in the ladies room until she’s feeling better. Having been the pregnant woman leaving meetings in a hurry for the bathroom, its not fun – but everyone understands, and will catch you up later.

        1. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

          You have a good point about sick time. She’s been saving up all her sick time (for years, really) so that she can have an extra-long paid leave, so it might be that she really needs to just take some time off now to rest, knowing that a leave being 4 months and 29 days vs. 5 months isn’t going to be a huge difference down the line. It would not be weird for me the suggest that to her in our culture.

          1. Meg Murry*

            Is she at the point where she has to take a lot of doctor’s appointments now? I was hoarding time and constantly making up hours missed for appointments, and it was so much better once I just started taking days with doctor’s appointments as 1/2 vacation days so I could sleep in or get some errands done.

            Can I also suggest that you suggest to her that she NOT use up all her sick time for the extra long leave, but save a little for when she comes back? I was warned this by our HR – that people take every single sick/vacation day they have to extend maternity leave, and then when they come back to work they have no reserves if they or baby get sick, or need to go to routine pediatrician’s appointments, etc etc, and wind up being officially disciplined under the absentee policy when they have to miss days. I came back 1 week earlier than I officially “had” to, and I definitely wound up using all 5 of those saved days.

            1. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

              Yes – I did succeed in getting her to agree to leave a week (she’ll accumulate more pretty quickly once she’s back) because (a) it’s insane to think that she won’t need any days off in the first few months back and (b) i think it will reduce her stress level to know that she can take a day off when she’s back. The doctor’s appointments are no big deal – we don’t worry about someone being out for an hour or two (on the assumption that they’ve stayed late plenty of times in the past).

    2. Case of the Mondays*

      I would also suggest instructing her to step out anytime the tears are coming on and not to come back into the meeting until they stop. If it happens again, she needs to repeat. I also think she should be discussing this with her doctor but I don’t know if you can be the one to say that.

      1. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

        The challenge here is that she’s leading a lot of these meetings. Due to location issues, there’s not really anyone else who can do this for the next several months. I need her to be able to do the basic and essential parts of her job, which includes not leaving meeting for a 1/2 hour or more on a regular basis.

        1. misspiggy*

          In the UK, she could get signed off on sick leave by her doctor, and take separate, protected maternity leave after giving birth. As you don’t have that option, but the issue is likely linked to her pregnancy and not one she can do much about, what can be done to mitigate the effects of this temporary disability? Can more discussions and decisions be conducted over email or IM, for example?

  37. Writing Samples*

    So I recently moved to a new state for my spouse’s job (and I am very happy to have moved) but now I’m on the job hunt. A lot of legal jobs want writing samples. I spent the past few years as a criminal prosecutor, with most of my work being oral advocacy – in other words, I don’t have any recent 5-10 page samples to offer. Prior to being a prosecutor, I did some civil litigation work, and I have a writing sample I could use from then. Does it cause any concern, though, that my sample is about 6 years old? I could alternately draft up a new sample of writing based on a fake fact scenario, but is that cheesy? Which would you all recommend?

    1. LMW*

      I’ve never worked in the legal field, so I can’t speak to that specifically. But I’ve never minded a “fake” sample. In fact, one of the best writers I ever worked with crafted a writing sample specifically to speak to my industry and our customers. It was obviously unpublished, but it showed how her experience could be adapted to our needs.

    2. safe from pain and truth and choice and other poison devils*

      I don’t have any direct experience in this area, but there could be a lot of potential in writing up something new. It may well depend on the culture of the place you’re interviewing with, but a sample based on a recent, relevant scenario (“ripped from the headlines”, as they say on teevee) might even make you stand out as a candidate.

    3. wonkette*

      I’m a lawyer like you and I think it’s convention to send a writing sample that you wrote for work. I’ve interviewed for jobs that ask for a simulated writing sample, but they usually give you a hypothetical beforehand I wouldn’t worry that your writing sample is a little dated.

    4. PurpleMonkeyDishwasher*

      Either spruce up the six years old one, or, if you feel like it’s far too outdated, maybe draft a memo of law in support of something that you argued orally in your last job? That way you’d be using details from a real prior case, so it’d be easy to talk about in interviews, and also wouldn’t seem as weird/unusual as a fake scenario sample.

  38. De Minimis*

    Never been so eager for an open thread before! Been waiting all morning for it.

    I need advice…my wife did end up getting offered the job at her old employer, and we talked it over and decided she should take it. It’s just too good an opportunity to pass up. Unfortunately we have a house here we’ll need to sell [don’t want to rent it unless there’s just no other option, it would require additional investment and we’d really just leave without having any further complications here.]

    We’d rather not be separated again, but we decided it might be best if I remain behind until the house sells. Hard to say what will happen with that, we had two houses in our general area sell pretty fast so the market may be pretty active.

    Anyway, trying to figure out the timing of what to say to my boss. Finding a replacement will be a long difficult process, and I don’t know if there’s any way to minimize bad feelings. No one here is equipped to take on my duties so they will have to come up with some other solution until a replacement can be found, and even then they may have a tough time–it took me a couple of years to more or less learn this position and that was only because I had an experienced co-worker to train me…I was hired as her replacement.

    I can certainly give at least a month notice, and can tell them that I could also stay longer until the house sold. But I don’t think I can really get moving on a job search [and I will need to find one ASAP] until I’ve moved to the new location.

    Hard to know what to do….friends and family have advised I remain behind until it sold, and not to tell anyone at work until later on, but I know if I tell them sooner it could help them reduce the effects of my absence.

    Anyway, anyone have any thoughts? I had actually considered telling our CEO today but I’m pretty busy so I may not have time….

    1. De Minimis*

      BTW, my main reason for staying is just to keep my income as long as possible, and also to try and leave on good terms.

      1. Malissa*

        Tell them now. They’ll appreciate the notice. Also keep looking for a job. Once you have an address in the new town it won’t be that hard. (How far away is it?) Also being open about the upcoming move will allow you to job search better. That is unless you have a crazy boss who will find a reason to get you out sooner. But from what I remember of your situation, that isn’t a factor for you. Also start writing down all the processes in your job. Make a manual, this is the single best thing for a transition.

        1. De Minimis*

          It’s cross country. The area we’re moving to has a lot of jobs, but also a lot of people.

          Been working on a manual for a while now, and trying to organize things here. I don’t think they will have a crazy reaction [they’d be screwing themselves by doing that, and also I think I may have some kind of rights at this point where they couldn’t just fire me immediately…and I also just don’t think they would operate that way.]

          Think at the very least I will tell them Monday. My immediate supervisor is out today, but the CEO is here and the three of us work closely together.

    2. Artemesia*

      When I retired and we wanted to move to a new city we sold our house rather quickly in a so-so market by pricing it for probably less than we might have gotten if we had had it on the market for 6 mos. Think about how much you are willing to take for the house in order to move quickly and go there. there is a lot to be said for getting your new life off to a running start.

    3. A.K.*

      Is it a job you can do remotely? If that is possible, even short term, you could say that you’ll stay in person until the house sells, and then remotely after that for as long as that is a good arrangement for everyone. This would allow you to retain your income while job searching in the new city and also give them more time for the transition.

      1. De Minimis*

        In theory some of it could be done remotely, but a lot of it just wouldn’t be practical. I have to sign off on requisitions from different departments, and it would be a pain to scan things back and forth…also we usually meet in person to put together the various monthly reports and I don’t think that could be done well remotely.
        It’s a federal job so there are also probably a lot of other issues with doing that remotely, and I imagine they would prefer to just pull the band-aid off and maybe have someone from the regional office or one of the other facilities fill in until a replacement could be found.

        1. De Minimis*

          I finally have some free time, but am inclined to maybe wait until Monday. Give me some time to think about it this weekend. We’ll see, though I wouldn’t be surprised if I decided to say something on the spur of the moment.

    4. The IT Manager*

      Tell them now or perhaps Monday because given it’s a federal job and there’s no backup, it’s in their best interest to keep you on as long as possible (unless you suspect something different).

      Let them put the job notice on USAjobs and get a start on the hiring process before you actually depart.

      1. De Minimis*

        Yes, that’s the one….the stepchild of HHS!

        Pretty sure they would work with me, but my main issue is I’m short of leave and if I am going to stay behind for a while I would need more leave than I currently have to do our move. I’m a little afraid they will just say,”Eh, tough toenails…” I guess if that happened I might just give a month’s notice and that would be that. Not afraid of them doing anything like trying to fire me, but more that they would become difficult during my remaining time here. I’d like to think they wouldn’t hurt me on the reference front, but I know I’ve torpedoed things for them–I don’t think they were expecting to stay here the next 20 years or anything like that but they probably assumed I would be here maybe 4-5 years [instead of two and a half…]

        It’s probably too much of a bomb to drop less than an hour before time to go home, so I guess I’ll just wait till Monday. Had a project that took most of the day.

  39. Work Journaling?*

    Lately I’ve been feeling like I’m doing nothing at work, so I’ve been making lists of tasks for myself or writing down what I’ve done all day AFTER work to remind myself that I am doing work. Does anybody have any advice or techniques for this? Does anybody else do this? I think it should be useful when (if) I need to apply for a new job, too. I can just flip through this and know what I’ve been working on for however long.

    1. GOG11*

      I keep a work journal in order to keep track of what I’m doing (because if I don’t write it down it didn’t exist). This is really helpful in keeping me from forgetting things, reminding me of how long things took (if I didn’t finish, I put an arrow rather than just crossing it out and I move it to a later appropriate date) and of what I do on a day to day basis.

      I also highlight any information I rarely use but might need to remember later on (ie what was the ID number for org for the work order system because my browser did something weird? What’s the name of the person who I see once a month if I arrive early/they arrive late who cleans the building?). If it makes sense to do so, I move the information into a more permanent home when I update my process guides.

    2. KMC*

      I keep an ongoing list, and on days where I get a lot of interruptions/new tasks, I will add them to it. That way on days when I wonder what I accomplished at work, I have a record.

      It also gives me the opportunity to write down things like Spoke to blah-blah, or Left message for blah, and then I know when to follow up. I’ve gone back in my notebooks as far as a year to track down conversations.

    3. another IT manager*

      Not quite the same thing, but I open an email draft every week and note down the big/exciting/interesting things that I do that week. It sits there and when I have five minutes, or when I’ve just finished something, I’ll add a bullet point. I send it out to my stakeholders just before I leave on Friday. Every email has the same subject, so it’s easy to search my sent items and pull up the collection (I did this the other day for my annual review, actually). I find that it’s really helpful to remind me what I’ve been doing, and it lets folks who may not have seen me that week (I work out of multiple locations) know that I haven’t just been sitting and surfing the internet all week.

      I think the really useful thing for me was just having it open in draft ALL THE TIME. When I tried editing it at the end of the day, or the end of the week, it was less helpful, just because I’d forget stuff. I still forget stuff, but now I have proof that it happened.

    1. GOG11*

      I have a couple of funny photos that I found on the internet. They are all work appropriate and two of the three are high brow grammar humor so I don’t know if anyone else even cares to read them, but they make me smile.

    2. Lily in NYC*

      I have hideous grey cubicle walls and just bought two pretty big posters to hang up on the biggest wall. Just plain abstract colorful landscapes; pretty boring but they brighten up the area.

    3. hildi*

      I put up some bright fabric with t-pins. It’s been on my wall forever and really brightens it up. I’ll see if I can somehow link a photo here.

      1. hildi*

        ugh – can someone please tell me that website that people use to download a photo and it’s not really connected to any personal account?? I know that’s not helpful – it’s a short, catchy name. Not Tumblr or Bitly…..dang, I’ve seen it here before and can’t remember!!

          1. hildi*

            haha, I totally wasn’t clear what I was asking!!! thanks though :) I was thinking a while back people were sharing photos of their workspace and they were doing it on a site that was all black on its background and it seemed like a somewhat anonymous place to dump your photos to share with others. UGH. I’m probably not being clear – but the background was all black, I remember that.

            1. Anonsie*

              Imgur! I freaking love Imgur* and I both dump all my photos in there privately and browse around for all the dumbfunny stuff people put up publicly.

              *Except for the weirdly high proportion of “woe is the plight of the man in a woman’s world” stuff that people submit, but I try to ignore it so as to keep my blood pressure from rising.

              1. Elizabeth West*

                I don’t even look–I just moved there because Photobucket had got insanely bad. Mostly I upload pictures of food and funny screenshots from whatever I’m watching. #imsoboring

    4. Jennifer*

      I take old calendars and post the pictures from them. My cube is decorated in Hawaiian islands.

    5. Windchime*

      I lined my cube with bright, cheery fabric. Our cube walls were recycled from the previous owner and mine were kind of mismatched and tired, so this was a way to cover that up and make it look a little more fun. Other people have lined sections of their cube with fun wrapping paper. That seems a little too crinkly for me.

  40. SouthernBelle*

    I think I see a light at the end of this long long tunnel…..

    So…. I applied for a position that seems very much in line with my background, personal values, etc. I’m currently in the midst of the interview process and it’s been a slow road; we’re already almost 2 months in and there’s at least a month more to go before they feel they’ll be able to offer and get someone in the role. In the meantime, a recruiter that I’ve worked with in the past contacted me about a position that is equally as appealing in regards to my background; but this position is at the same company as the one that I’m currently in the interview process for. In actuality, they’re in the same department, but focus on different aspects of that department. Well, the recruiter submitted me for the position last week, contacted me for an onsite interview this week, I interviewed and should hear back about the outcome as soon as today (provided the other applicants all kept their interviews – I was one of 4).

    Both positions are great and I’d be excited for either of them. The first position is a direct-hire position so of course we’re talking full benefits and a sense of stability (which is very important to me given these LONG months of unemployment and project work). The second position is a year-long contract, no benefits, no stability, but a foot in the door and an opportunity to gain some leverage in securing a direct-hire position. I’m crossing my fingers for good news today!

  41. Jessica*

    I’m starting grad school tomorrow to get my MBA. I went out to visit the school about six months ago for a meet and greet sort of weekend and met quite a few professors semi-socially. Meaning, they introduced themselves by their first names at receptions. They were trying to woo students to come there. Now that I’m starting classes, have things changed? Should I still refer to them with how they introduced themselves in correspondence or when I see them again?

    Also, just curious, if you’re an older grad student, does it ever feel weird to call someone Professor So-and-So or Mr./Ms./Mrs. So-and So? I think Dr. is not strange, but I’ve always wondered that and would like to know if anyone has experienced weirdness from it. I am wondering mostly about executive MBA types, since there are quite a few people with high level positions doing this program. I assume it’s different in different fields too

    1. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

      I almost always call people by their first names unless they ask me to do otherwise. Especially if they are anywhere near my age. As an executive and someone with a leadership position in the community, I felt incredibly awkward calling my grad school professors “Dr. So and So” – especially because most of them were my age for younger. I occasionally avoided calling them anything, but mostly just called them by their first names, except for a few who were much older (past average retirement age) and very formal.

    2. Xarcady*

      When I was in grad school, most of us tended to address professors formally the first time, “Dr. Soandso.” Which was usually met with, “Call me Bobbette.”

      In general, I think it is better to err on the slightly more formal side and use a title and last name the first time you address someone. Better to be told, “”Oh, please call me Sam,” then get hit with a frosty, “That’s Dr. Grimm to you!”

      1. Jessica*

        I hope I haven’t done this already. I should have included this in my original question, but I met Professor MiddleName who introduced himself as MiddleName at a reception. I even mentioned it then because he gave me a card that said “A. MiddleName LastName” to which I immediately said, “Oh, I see you prefer to be called by your middle name?” and he said yes. But aside from some chitchat, that was really the extent of our interaction because the reception was ending; doubt he would remember me. Six months later, he is assigned as our coach for our case study this week. I reached out immediately, because I was excited, and used his first name in the correspondence. I sent the email and then thought, “Crap! That was presumptuous of me!” Hope he’s not irked. I did mention that we had met before, at least. As a working adult, I am almost always on a first name basis with people, but this IS academia.

        1. Jessica*

          Sorry, I should have said used his middle name in correspondence. I don’t even know his first name.

          1. Jessica*

            Ahhh, THANK YOU for making me not feel like such an ass. I am honestly having a weird adjustment phase of trying to figure out how to interact in school again.

      2. fposte*

        Agreed; there’s also the risk that they don’t correct you, because that really is awkward, but take it slightly amiss.

    3. IrishGirl*

      Definitely depends on the culture of the institution. I’ve been to two different universities; the first was very formal to the point where a point was made that if we needed to email the lecturers to be mindful of their proper title; Joe Bloggs was to be addressed as Dr Bloggs, not as Joe. In contrast my second uni is much more relaxed, to the point where it’s seen as slightly odd to use titles even initially.

      1. Jessica*

        Yes, I’ve heard that some people feel like they’ve worked hard enough to earn that title, so they expect to be addressed as such. To each their own, but I’m uncomfortable with titles in general. I hate being called miss or ma’am in stores. And also, it feels a little weird to me now that I’m out of undergrad. I always feel like, “Hey, I’m an adult with a real job too!” Well, not now… I’m unemployed. But I’ve had jobs!

    4. Elizabeth West*

      Not really–I just call them whatever they prefer to be called. I found that most of my instructors who were younger than I was preferred their first names anyway–“Everybody call me Bob.” I would just say Mr. or Dr. to start and if they went by Bob, they corrected it quickly.

  42. Summer Intern Interviewer*

    Last year’s Summer Intern program at my company – an internationally renowned maker of teapots for business purposes – went over so well that we’re doing again this year, but bigger and better. I am once again involved, and I like it a lot. We’re just getting to the part where we’ll be looking through resumes and conducting telephone interviews of promising candidates.

    I like to think I’m okay at this kind of interviewing, but some recent AAM columns have touched on interviewing, and many commentators have related stories both good and bad, from both sides of the conversation, and I can plainly see that there is a whole lot more I could learn about conducting effective interviews and improving my technique. Especially of junior and senior year college students in the STEM professsions.

    So: any words of advice or wisdom for me on interviewing Summer Intern candidates?

    1. jamlady*

      Just some thoughts:

      My favorite questions for science-field undergrad internships were the ones that made me think hard about how the internship would actually help me for the future. Now these are college students, so don’t expect perfect answers, but hopefully they’ll have some idea about how the specific internship will help the future. I liked questions that brought up the fact that there were many options for the future and that you needn’t pigeon-hole yourself to the industry of the internship or feel like you shouldn’t have the internship because your goals aren’t perfectly aligned. In contrast…

      My least favorite as an undergrad were things like “do you plan on furthering your education” or “do you plan on going into [insert super specific industry here]”. First of all, when you’re in college, you may have no idea what you really want and you may just say things you think they want to hear. Second of all, their future education (unless vital for the path they’re taking) is irrelevant to whether or not the internship will be helpful for their future. Third, asking questions where they feel like they somehow SHOULD be going into the specific industry severely stunts their ability to see how they can mold these potentially obtained job skills to other areas.

      My biggest thing was interviewers expecting me to know the exact path I was going to take. Having a good head on one’s shoulder’s is fine, but these questions feel like pigeon-holing someone’s skills/abilities/future. I got married the same week I graduated and ended up moving around for the next so many years and putting a lot on hold. I had no plans for that initially and it took perhaps a little longer than I would have liked to decide for myself that yes, I did want to pursue an MA (for me) but that no, a PhD wasn’t in the cards yet.

      It’s definitely important for the candidates to think about the future and for you to know that they are, but I think you can tell more about the type of person they are by leaving questions a little more open-ended. Just my experience!

      1. Summer Intern Interviewer*

        Thank you, jamlady. I read you loud and clear on this. These intern positions are, in fact, a form of recruiting: a number of last year’s interns will be returning as full-time employees this summer. So these internships are kind of a two-way review: we evaluate the interns, while the interns evaluate us. And one thing I like about my company – and it’s something I stress to intern candidates – is that we offer a huge range of opportunities and career paths.

        So I appreciate what you’re saying, and I’ll make it a point to avoid asking these people to pigeonhole themselves into a category so early on in their careers, and attempt to keep things open-ended and flexible.

        1. jamlady*

          I love the words “wide range of opportunities” and “broaden your skill set” in interviews haha especially during my internship years. If you said it and explained in some detail, I was sold!

  43. GOG11*

    I have been looking for the equivalent of adulting information about office culture and administrative tasks (adulting in the sense that these are things everyone just seems to know except for me and I attribute it to my lack of experience in certain areas) and I came across kickassadmin, but the site is no longer active. I saw some stuff on Pinterest that looked AMAZING, but the materials link to the site which then redirects to an error.

    Does anyone know if the site got a new home? Any suggestions for other sites? I have found a blog called musings of a high level executive assistant, and it’s great, but I’ve spent a few days searching and this is the only one with the tone and type of information I’m looking for.

    1. GOG11*

      Here’s an example of the sort of stuff I have been searching for. In this post, the blog’s author discusses how to go about reserving a table at a very exclusive restaurant. There’s the formally announced way of doing this and then there’s the this is how things really get done way of doing things. I’d love more sources that provide information of the latter sort.

      http://musingsofahighlevelexecutiveassistant.blogspot.com/2014/04/how-to-book-table-at-french-laundry.html

    2. Jem*

      I’d be interested in seeing something like this too. There’s not a lot on the web for admin assistants that isn’t totally spammy. I’d love a blog with organization tips, how to deal with various situations, etc.

      1. GOG11*

        I’m hoping others will chime in with resources as the day goes on, but I’m also curious about where you and Oh Anon are currently turning when you have questions or want to improve processes or need ideas. Are there resources you have that you’ve already exhausted? Do you seek out other admin colleagues or a mentor figure in your life?

        A huge resource for me is Ask a Manager and I’ve joined some groups on LinkedIn, but they don’t quite get at what I’m looking for. Sometimes I call one of my colleagues, but I try to figure things out on my own and I only call as a last resort. I’ve learned some things through trial and error because there isn’t anyone/anything to turn to, but I’d really prefer not to make too many errors along the way.

        1. Oh anon*

          As far as where I turn with questions? It depends on the question. If it’s how to do something, I figure it out myself, google it, ask whoever in the office (or whoever I know) that has the most experience in whatever it is. As for improving processes, I usually am able to be pretty efficient in how I do things, but I’ve also had conversations with my boss about this is how I do X & it’s taking too long, what do you think? I use AAM more for job hunting tips and how to handle certain odd or difficult situations.

  44. Tamzin*

    I have questiona that address multiple issues dealing with bad management and a termination-without-warning, and how it is affecting my self-esteem and wondering where I should go from here.

    I was hired to be a jill of all trades at a small company, and I was there for 10 days before I was terminated. In those 10 days I performed excellently (in terms of sales numbers and initiative): I learned the ropes immediately and made money and operational progress right off the bat; responded positively to all feedback and adapted to it since after all, I was still training and picking up the vibe of the place; I pulled off a kind of assignment I had never done before and that was EXTREMELY important to the success of the business. (I don’t know why the owner assigned me, a novice, to this task, but either that speaks of her faith in me OR her poor management skills, because helloooo — what if I had royally screwed up??)

    The day after this assignment (day 10 of my employment, mind you), I was terminated. When I inquired as to why, the owner who hired me would not make eye contact with me (she wasn’t making eye contact with me all day and I was totally wigged out) and her business partner immediately said, “We don’t legally need to tell you, this is an at-will employment state.” I incredulously stared at them and started to cry because well, this was my dream position and I was hired to bring growth to the company (which I was already doing — and remember, I had been there 10 days at this point and was still training so I was utterly confused). I told them that I Know That This Is An At-Will State, I’m not “new” to being an employee, but um, I’ve never been fired in my life and I am beyond shocked and I would really like some feedback.

    I was told, hesitantly, that I “was not performing as expected”, which is complete bullshit. How, in 10 days, could an assessment like that be made, especially since I hadn’t stolen anything, punched anyone, broken any items, crapped on the sales floor, or… or whatever might reasonably get someone fired without warning.

    Now, I believe that the company is suffering from a financial setback and that I am a casualty of that. I think that they are inexperienced, young, and chose to fire a 15-year veteran of the business because they panicked and needed to find a way to save money. Of course, they didn’t think to talk to me about this or even to consider bringing me down to part time (when I suggested this as a last-ditch effort to open a conversation about this whole sh*tshow, the owner and her partner looked at each other like “oh, is that an option?” but gave me no verbal response whatsoever except blank stares.)

    So there is the context. On with my questions:

    1. Will I ever be able to find a reason for this termination? I want it not just for personal satisfaction, since I *really* want to know if I had bad habits that I need to be aware of… that might be terminable offenses for me in future positions, but I want to hear from their own mouths exactly WTF they were thinking! I want them to know that this has ruined me, not just in terms of planning for my future, but in terms of how I am now financially screwed and scrambling to find another job while suffering from depression as a result of this incident.

    2. Additionally, is there a way to list the enormous progress I made for this company on my resume? I am not embellishing when I say that I accomplished a LOT in 10 days. However, listing a two-week job on a resume isn’t too great. But it is a prestigious company to People In The Know and, well, I feel as though I should have something to show for my brief, traumatic, but professionally fulfilling foray into The Twilight Zone.

    3. If anyone here has been fired without warning, and without a proper exit interview or explanation, can you advise me on how to emotionally cope with this? When I use the word “traumatic” to describe how this all feels, I’m being quite serious: I saw myself making a home for myself there, and when I was fired for no discernible or justifiable reason (if it was financial, why didn’t they say that!?!), I felt as though I was essentially being kicked out of an industry I have been in for half of my life. I feel unwanted, I feel as though the reason might secretly be something absurd like “I’m not pretty enough” or “Maybe I *should* have learned to read minds because duh, then I wouldn’t have messed up like I apparently did..?!?”

    If you can, please let me know how to get through this bizarre experience and come out the other end with a healthy outlook on, well, my entire mental well-being and future employment options.

    Thank you so much, dear readers.

    1. CrazyCatLady*

      1. Maybe you could email them and express what you wrote here?
      2. I wouldn’t – I believe you, but it sounds far-fetched that you could accomplish that much in only 10 days (and would raise the question as to why you were let go anyway). Plus, if you’re a high performer, which you sound like, I assume you have similarly significant accomplishments at other jobs?

    2. TCO*

      You just need to move on from this experience. What I mean by that is accept that you’re never going to find out why you were fired–they clearly don’t want to tell you, and it probably wasn’t anything you did wrong. If they handled your first two weeks that poorly, consider it a bullet dodged that you didn’t stay longer.

      I would never put this two-week job on your resume. The name might be prestigious, but you’ll have to admit that you were fired after two weeks. There is no way that will ever reflect upon you positively, no matter how much it wasn’t your fault.

      I know it’ s easier said than done, but don’t let this situation make you doubt your talents, aspirations, or industry. You have a track record of many, many successful years in this field. One bad boss doesn’t wipe all of that out. Good luck on your job search!

    3. fposte*

      Wow, that’s really upsetting; I’m sorry.

      However: “Will I ever be able to find a reason for this termination? ” Practically speaking, almost certainly not. There are some states where they’re supposed to provide this information if you submit a written request–you can Google to find out if you’re in one–but I doubt that what they’d say would be any more satisfying to you. It’s basically a dating scenario, where after two dates it just didn’t work out for the other person after all.

      Unfortunately, I don’t think that you’re going to be able to frame your progress in two weeks in any way that outweighs the “terminated after two weeks” fact; progress that doesn’t please the employer is tough to sell even at the best of times. I also think that in the long run you’re better off letting this job go mentally, period, rather than keeping it on your resume to remind you of something painful.

      And I’d say be kind to yourself right now, and do as much socializing and exercising as you can to keep your mind on an even keel. This is a tough one to weather, but you’ll get past it and be fine.

    4. Steve G*

      So it is a prestigious company, but they can’t even handle their own cash flow? I’d love specifics of that! Did you at least give them a low rating on glassdoor to warn others against working there?

      1. Kerry (Like the County In Ireland)*

        This is like dating a guy for 2 weeks, getting really attached, and then being upset when he turns out to be married. It’s not you, it’s them.

        1. Tamzin*

          Yes! If you read my response to Alison downthread I said that it totally felt like a whirlwind romance that just… violently ended. But it’s almost worse than a lover being married, because this situation regards peoples’ professional reputations, livelihoods, careers, etc. It’s just such a cluster.

          Thanks to all of you for the sympathy and empathy. Boy did I need it. What I am learning from this experience is that I got really screwed and that I shouldn’t blame myself. I am usually pretty good about taking responsibility for bad professional behavior — and that’s why I try to make it rare — so this incident has me befuddled because I can’t think of anything I can blame myself for except maybe my looks? I’m not a supermodel. Not ugly, but not Gisele Bundchen either. Maybe I didn’t say “Hello” the right way to someone? Oy vey, what torture. But thank you again EVERYONE for your words.

          1. fposte*

            I really think you need to let go of the looks thing, for both sanity and logic. Unless you had drastic surgery between your application and your hire, you look how they expected you to look. It wasn’t a problem. I think Alison’s right that it was likely a cultural fit that they weren’t able to anticipate in advance and that is tough to articulate–maybe your change pace was too fast for them or something. And the thing about cultural fit is it really is like dating, in that changing yourself to fit would only make you both unhappier. So who you are is doubtless awesome for any number of organizations out there and that will be your next port of call.

            And cut your looks a break–they weren’t at fault here, and they deserve for you to think better of them :-).

    5. Elizabeth West*

      1. Not likely. I think you need to move on. These people sound very unprofessional. They may never respond to your solicitation for a reason, and to use the dating analogy, it makes you look like a desperate ex.

      2. Leave it off your resume entirely. It wasn’t a long enough tenure to include.

      3. It sucks–I’ve been through this. You have to feel what you feel, just like with a breakup. You’re upset right now, and soon you’ll be angry, and finally, you’ll be like, “Fine, I’m better off without those turkeys.” If you have a trusted friend with whom you can vent, I’d do that. I’d also leave that venting off Facebook and the like, since you’re now job hunting again.

    6. BRR*

      1) You will probably never find out. I would try asking them why so that you can better yourself. Point out that you’re not going to argue the termination because that’s something that would stop them from letting you know why.

      2) No. I would consider leaving it off your resume too. Just being honest, as a hiring manager I wouldn’t believe you if you said in 10 days you had a huge measurable impact on the company even if you could prove it.

      3) I was fired after only receiving praise. Time has helped but I’m still not over it. My manager (who wasn’t the one who made the decision) helped a lot by calling them all idiots and presented facts about how much they are idiots.

      Also they suck, majorly. I would at least leave a review of them on glassdoor to try and warn others.

      1. Tamzin*

        They’re not a big enough firm to have a Glassdoor. The owner wasn’t even on LinkedIn. It’s popular and celebrities love it but they like to fly under the radar. That’s why I can’t find out if the owners regularly do these stealth “trials” for people like me for two weeks and impulsively fire them at the first sign of something that gives them mere pause. I wish I could know if she had a track record of doing this, then perhaps I wouldn’t be putting some of the blame on myself. A large part of me thinks that I maybe I did do something ~HORRIBLE~ but I will never know what it is, since this whole situation was handled by amateurs and capricious fools.

        In any case, I would like to make her feel super bad by telling her that I’m having to look into sex work in order to make my rent. Sigh. I wish I was kidding.

    7. Ask a Manager* Post author

      You’ll probably never know for sure, but I wonder if it could have been culture fit? Especially at a small company, culture fit is so important, and that’s something where they could conceivably realize early on that it just wasn’t the right match. They could even be right about it, although who knows (although certainly the way they handled it wasn’t). Anyway, maybe something to consider, if it’s driving you crazy not knowing?

      1. MsM*

        I’m also wondering if there was some behind the scenes drama about what you’d been brought in to do – like, maybe not everyone was happy with you totally revamping operations, or some major stakeholder didn’t feel you’d pulled off the big assignment as successfully as you think you did – and for whatever reason they felt they needed to side with the complainers rather than have a discussion about it. Which stinks, but is probably a good reason not to go overboard in promoting what you accomplished for them, since you can’t know what they’ll say in any references.

        1. Tamzin*

          I didn’t revamp operations. I didn’t have time to do that. I think it is more likely that a stakeholder didn’t like my face or whatever, but… the buck should have stopped with my boss. My boss shouldn’t have put me in charge of such a big assignment on day 8 of my job if she thought it might upset a stakeholder.

          In other words, yes. Yes. I have thought about all of this. I intellectually know that I will never figure out precisely what happened but the idea that it could be something superficial like “the manager was a terrible manager and that’s what I got fired” really upsets me… mostly because I’m a former manager and if one of my employees messed up, they’d get a conversation and a warning and not a termination-without-warning.

      2. Tamzin*

        I imagine that “culture fit” might have been some of it, but I was getting along so well with my coworkers, speedily getting things done, and I’m sort of exactly like everyone else there. I felt as though I fit in instantly.

        Also, the owner (who couldn’t look me in the eye as her partner fired me), started giving me presents and things and buying me lunch day after day. She confided in me and trusted me with sensitive information.

        The whole thing in retrospect seems like a really amazing romance that for reasons I’ll never know just crashed and burned, and I think that “culture fit” is too simple an answer, since my interview for the job was a lovely 3 HOUR conversation with the team. They already knew who I was, you know?

        I bet some investor or something just didn’t like my face or something absurd like that and because the owner is weak and in need of money decided to terminate me instead of standing up for an otherwise good (and still learning!) employee.

        I forgot to mention that she started tearing up when I started tearing up, and when I wished her and the company well and that her products are lovely and will be a great success, she whimpered and cried a little.

        I MEAN REALLY. I can’t make this stuff up.

        I understand I can’t put my 10 days there on my resume (I merely wondered if there was perhaps some way to sneak in my new skill sets that I learned, is all), and that I will never really know, but the whole two weeks were sooooooooo bizarre that I am in shock. Still. I feel like I was stung by a jellyfish or something, it’s that insane a psychological sensation I’m feeling right now. As far as I knew, things were going swimmingly, and instead of communicating to me whatever “quirks” I should improve on (though I reiterate that in 10 days there really wasn’t much time to be quirky; I was quiet and did my work to the best of my ability), I got shitcanned.

        I wish it were easy for me to say “good riddance” but again, this was a very, very good opportunity for me that vanished in a mysterious puff of smoke so I am so frustrated. SO frustrated. I’ll get over it, but damn if this doesn’t sting.

    8. safe from pain and truth and choice and other poison devils*

      That seems like really terrible behavior on the part of the ex-employer.

      Could you apply for unemployment? If the company protests it, you might get some visibility into why they terminated you?

      Or – is there anyone at the place that you could call and ask “what happened?”

      I totally understand wanting to know “what happened?” – but you may have to settle for a high level explanation like “they’re a bunch of huge flaming assholes”.

    9. puddin*

      1. Nope – but do note that the reason stated was not “performing as expected” which is different than under-performing (maybe). If that phrasing was used on purpose, it could be the cultural fit was not there for management.
      2. Nope – if you are incredulous at how they can assess you with a poor grade at 10 days, the average hiring manager will be just as incredulous to assess you with a high grade based only on a resume for a job that lasted 10 days. I would just leave it off the resume altogether.
      3. Do things that you are good at and that you enjoy. Not everyone will recognize your worth in life; this one of those times.

    10. Not So NewReader*

      I probably mentioned this earlier, but your situation brings it flooding back to me.
      I had a job that was sooo very ME. I loved this job. I knew it was going to be the best job I ever had in my life.
      And the bosses did not notice me. Well, they knew my name and all that. But when opportunities came along, I some how got over looked.
      I was crushed- like when your dog gets hit by a car and you can’t stop crying on the inside- that kind of crushed
      And I got pretty angry also. It’s normal to have a mixed bag of emotions and that is okay.
      I tried working a few more years and then gave up. When I made the decision to give up I had a 9 week migraine. I have never had a headache like this in my life. I could barely hold my head up because of the pain.
      What I learned:
      1) I created this because I got too invested in the job. I wasn’t just connected to the job – it was woven into me. I made myself vulnerable for this fall. With subsequent jobs, I worked on not getting emotionally invested in the job.
      2) Things happen for a reason. It took decades for me to find out all the reasons. The place had toxic chemicals that were making me sick. I did not even realize how sick the chemicals were making me. I was oblivious. Additionally, I ran into a former coworker years after I left. She let me know there was stuff going on at that job that was not kosher at all- stuff like cooking the books. I found out other reasons why it was good that I was out of there. But it took a very long time for me to find out.
      3) Subsequent jobs have been less demanding and I have gotten more recognition that I did at that job. Matter of fact, I have never worked as hard as I did at that job. Which opened my eyes to subjects like scope creep. That is where you take on this one thing and the next thing you know it has morphed into ten things. Meanwhile you are still getting the same rate of pay.
      What I thought of as “fun” was actually crazy, off-off-wall types of demands on me. I never occurred to me at the time that the expectations were unrealistic.
      4) I was right. I have never loved a job the way I did that one. But I no longer want to.

      You put your heart and soul into this. I am confident in saying that something was going on behind the scenes that you don’t want to be involved in. If you had stayed you would have found yourself caught up in something.
      Over the years, I have thought of things that I did at that job that I could have handled better. I thought of things that I handled very poorly and did not realize. This may happen to you, too. Other jobs will show you things that you could have applied to this job. That is okay, too. We are supposed to learn and grow.
      Lacking a logical explanation for your dismissal, it’s pretty normal for the human mind to wander around and conjure up explanations such as “not pretty enough”. Tell your wandering mind that is BS. You would not talk to a friend like that. This is not the end of the world. It’s two weeks out of your life- that is all it is. These people are not worth the energy you are giving them now.

  45. Renegade Rose*

    I found out on Tuesday that I’m losing my job due to the insurmountable financial challenges my organization is facing. It really sucks. We keep getting rude calls and emails from people about it as well. The press is being far kinder to us than our own constituents which I have never seen before. I get that people are upset; I just don’t like being yelled at about something that isn’t my fault and wasn’t my decision.

    1. GOG11*

      I’m so sorry you’re going through this. Whatever these people are saying, know that they’re only calling or emailing you because they’ve found your information, not because you’ve personally done something to warrant their criticisms.

    2. Vixen2013*

      I am so sorry; it is not your fault. As you said, people are upset and likely afraid, but I feel for you and your colleagues. People are reacting with emotion when they should be looking forward.

    3. Schuyler*

      I work in higher ed and have been wondering what I would do if my college closed. It’s been close to it–they almost closed in the 80’s, and I still wonder about how well they’re doing.

      If this is related to Sweet Briar, I can’t imagine what you’ve been having to deal with in the last few days–I’ve seen some postings from parents that have really been disheartening. I’m really sorry to hear about this and I’ve been thinking about you. If it’s not Sweet Briar related, I’m still very sorry to hear that you’re having to field angry and confused calls when you weren’t privy to any decision making (and if it’s anything like other places I know, the decision makers aren’t really making themselves available).

  46. Eugenie*

    For people with federal experience out there — would it be career suicide to leave a full-time permanent position for a two year term position (with option for two year extension)? The old position doesn’t pay great and requires residency in a really dumpy city, whereas the term position pays really well and would let me move to a great city.

    Thoughts?

    1. De Minimis*

      I’m under a different hiring authority, but do you have competitive status right now?

    2. Noelle*

      Can you give any more details? I currently work for Congress, which means that every two years I may be out of a job. But, the opportunity is worth it and I’ve always been able to find new positions. I would say that if you take the two year job, you NEED a plan for what you’ll do when it’s over. I worked for a member who was retiring, and we all knew when that was happening. I started looking for a new job a year out, because I didn’t know how long it would take to find something. Most of my coworkers stayed until the end, and most of them lost their jobs.

      1. De Minimis*

        I think in general, it’s usually not good to leave a permanent job for a term position, unless you have status to where you have priority for positions elsewhere, or if you have reinstatement eligibility. Otherwise it’s a gamble, but it may be worth it depending on the opportunity and the location. I’m about to give up a similar situation, but I’ve been looking and just don’t see an awful lot of federal job opportunities in the area I plan on moving to, so for me it’s not such a risk to leave.

      2. Eugenie*

        I’m currently working for county government, so I don’t have any kind of federal preference. There are a lot of local government agencies and independent non-profits in my area that do work in my field, they just don’t hire very often. This term position is the only thing that’s come up in over a year of looking that I think would actually be a good next step for my career, but I just don’t want the end to come there without being able to have anything lined up. On the other hand, the term position would be an awesome opportunity to build connections with all of those governmental and non-profit orgs that I might want to work at after the term is up — I wold actually be managing a lot of those partnerships.

        1. De Minimis*

          I think it’s probably worth doing then, just due to career progression and opportunity to make connections.

        2. DG*

          I am in county government as well and leaving to work for a national lab. The I am taking on was originally posted as term and is now full-time (it was re-posted during the application process). I would absolutely take the fed position even if it is term. Go in there, knock it out of the park and they’ll do their best to keep you there.

          County government can get so stale. I completely understand your need to branch out in order to move up.

          1. De Minimis*

            That’s what I’ve seen too, if they like someone they will try to find a way to keep them around.

            1. Eugenie*

              Thanks for all the support – interview is first thing on Monday so we’ll see how it goes! Any tips on things to ask to see if perm would potentially be in the cards for this position?

              1. OriginalEmma*

                You can ask if you’ll be eligible for non-competitive employment if you accept this job (i.e., you can apply as an internal candidate for future job postings?), or will you have to compete as an external candidate for future employment?

                1. GovHRO*

                  Really look closely at the announcement. Does the language say anything similar to “can be made permanent without further competition.” If so, it’s a great option. If not, you may not gain any status (status such as that of internal candidates or Veterans) and it can be difficult to get a permanent position.

  47. Dani X*

    I am trying to look for a new job and am working on my resume and cover letter but thought I would throw out my resume on indeed and dice since I heard that many recruiters go through there and contact people and I figured why not see while I get everything together. I have been networking too but since I have worked at the same company for 15 years I don’t have a very wide one and don’t think it will get me anywhere. But my resume has been out there for t least 3 weeks and I got no hits at all – not even scam ones! While I intend to apply to jobs directly I am worried that no contact is a sign that my resume sucks/is highlighting the wrong skills and I am worried about finding a new job. Should I be? I also heard that without a great network it is really hard to get a job and that doesn’t help me worrying.

    1. Anon Accountant*

      Have you checked this site’s archives on resumes and cover letters? There’s great advice in the archives. Companies have hiring freezes so it may take a while to get contacted for interviews unfortunately. Do you volunteer anywhere? Involved with your local professional groups? Chamber of Commerce? Rotary group? These are places you can make connections that may help you in your job search.

      1. Dani X*

        I have heard though that people will get contacted through Indeed and Dice – usually with things that are in no way what they want to do, but it at least shows there is an interest. Is it a big red flag when that doesn’t happen? I do volunteer, but at an animal shelter and my job search is for a programmer job. I will have to start looking into local professional groups – I am not currently a member. My employer is the number 1 company here so I do think I will need to commute or relocate for a job.

    2. dd*

      Your network doesn’t have to be limited to the people you met through work. I would recommend meeting people through common hobbies or interests, too. Meetup.com is a great way to do this. Don’t forget to network with the other people in your life, too.

    3. Sherm*

      I have my resume on those sites, and it’s pretty rare that I get contacted because of that. I think everyone should ask someone else’s feedback when it comes to resumes, but I wouldn’t assume it has problems just because you’re hearing crickets. (Unless, perhaps, your qualifications are very high demand.)

  48. Anon Accountant*

    Is Jamie or other IT folks on here that are up for a few questions? Will anyone in IT please post briefly about their job duties, background/training, etc.? I’m in the beginning career changes to an IT career from being a CPA and am overwhelmed at the vast careers in IT.

    I like software engineering or programming areas but am also looking at network careers too. Thank you!

    1. Dani X*

      I am a builder/release engineer. It’s kinda a software programming position just a little more specialized. The basics are that pretty much every product out there has a bunch of people writing code for it, and someone needs to take all that code and put it together into a cohesive unit that can then be tested and handed to a customer. That bringing together is what I do. I did computer science in college and then my first job was as a builder and I never left – I just got more specialized in it. (feel free to ask questions – not sure what info you are looking for)

      1. Anon Accountant*

        Your job sounds interesting. I’m looking for a brief overview of education (bacherlors in computer science, master’s degrees, etc.) or if they were self-taught and learned on their own to do programming, networking administration, etc. One programmer I talked to is almost completely self-taught

        I’m leaning towards software engineering as of now but am still exploring other IT career options.

        1. Dani X*

          My bachelor is in Science- but i was able to cobble together the entire Computer Science Degree and just have extra science courses. But schools generally don’t teach build work so most of the specialized info was on the job training. Self taught pretty much started on the job – if I had problems with something or needed learn a new skill I would do it on my own, but the basics were learned in college.

    2. Apollo Warbucks*

      I’m a qualified accountant and a self confessed SQL / database nerd.

      You might want to look at system analyst roles for accountancy software I worked for a consultancy firm for years looking after their time and billing software its a interesting and varied job that puts you at the heart of the business you’ll already know the accountancy side of things learn some SQL (check out w3school and vtc online) and you’ll be good to go.

      1. Anon Accountant*

        Ooh great suggestions! I’ll have to check those out this weekend. I’m in the Pittsburgh/SW PA area in case anyone is interested. :)

        I remember reading about your career path and it sounds interesting. Thanks for the tips.

    3. The IT Manager*

      BS, Comp Sci (programming)
      MS, Information Technology

      I’m a project manager which was covered (a bit) in my IT masters program, but I got my foot in the door because I did a few years of PM-work in my varied military career.

      With your background, I recommend looking into business/functional analyst role or perhaps a SQA for accounting software as a foot in the door to an IT career.

      There was a disucssion in late Jan early Feb in an open thread (near the top I think) asking about school versus self-taught for IT. I think the concesus was self-taught was pretty rare now-a-days just because employers demand degrees even if the degrees don’t necessarily confer job skills.

  49. NatalieR*

    If you know you are going to get emotional during a tough conversation with your boss, is it better to power through, tears and all? Or to write it out and send in an email? The tears are anger/frustration if that makes a difference. TIA!

    1. GOG11*

      I was having difficulty with this before, though the source of the tears were health reasons. Regardless, it was very important to me to keep my reaction in check. A couple of suggestions were to give myself some space/time between the incident that causes the frustration (and leads to an emotional reaction) and my addressing the situation. This allowed me to have some perspective and to work through some things before addressing them. Is that a possibility for you?

      Another suggestion was to acknowledge that I may get emotional to myself which, in turn, would keep me from using my mental energy to fight the reaction. If it isn’t so built up and high stakes, maybe it would take some pressure off to keep it from happening and, in turn, keep it from happening. I’m not sure if this would work, though, as in my situation it would probably be seen as pretty okay if I cried a bit.

      If it is something that feels appropriate to put in email, that may be a way to facilitate the conversation and keep your reaction from your boss if it does happen. Certain conversations might not make sense to have over email, though. I hope others will have some good options for you.

    2. Former Diet Coke Addict*

      Can you practice? Practice a LOT, until you’re comfortable enough with the words that they aren’t as impactful to you. Say the words out loud to another person as many times as it takes for the anger to leave and you can be calm about it–you’ll be on better footing for the rest of the conversation.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        This. When Elton John redid Candle in the Wind for Princess Diana’s funeral he played the song over and over until he could get through it without crying.

        Type out your major talking points. What is it that you want them to know? Don’t go crazy trying to write down every single thing. Just cover the main points.Then practice in front of the mirror. Get through the heavy stuff.

    3. LillianMcGee*

      I am a cryer. It’s completely outside of my control and it really only happens in very tense, serious conversations with authority figures (Awesome, right??) It got to the point where my boss knew before I did when the tears were coming and would ask me if I was going to cry. Which OF COURSE breaks the dam every time!

      I spoke to her outside of any tense conversation and said if she senses I’m going to cry to ignore it because that’s the only way I can keep myself composed. Maybe warn your boss ahead of time that this topic makes you emotional and to please excuse any uncontrollable waterworks.

    4. fposte*

      It may also help to bring a cup of water and drink from it; that action seems to divert the tear ducts sometimes.

    5. JMW*

      I’ve been there a few times! If you decide to power through ears and all:
      – plan your opening statement and main points ahead of time
      – practice it in your head and imagine the responses to it enough times that you lose some of your defensiveness over the subject… the more objective you can be, the less likely you will cry
      – say up front that you need to discuss something that is upsetting to you and you are not sure you can do it without crying, but you really want to do this in person
      – be prepared that the conversation may not go anything like you imagined, and if your upset gets beyond your comfort level, be prepared to ask to take a break or reschedule

      Good luck!

  50. Shell*

    Vent:

    Being a newbie, I’m bound to make mistakes. I’ve made some really, really stupid mistakes in the last three weeks, to the point where I want to dig a hole into the ground and hide. Okay, fine, I’m new, I get it, and people have been very gracious about my mistakes.

    But some of my mistakes were due to being given the wrong information, one such instance resulting in me looking an idiot twice in two weeks not only to internal folks, but external ones too. All because I was operating off of some mistaken assumptions from the mistaken information I was told. And I’m totally bitter about those. Yeah, it’s been rectified and information has been straightened out, but it doesn’t make me look good at all. And I already have imposter syndrome.

    Argh.

    1. Laurel Gray*

      Keep your head up Shell, sending positive vibes your way! This reminds me of the post today about people hoarding information or being reluctant to train people in their duties. Sorry this is happening to you and I hope it gets better!

    2. fposte*

      Remember also that that misinformation you got is quite likely those people’s equivalent of your mistakes, too.

      1. Shell*

        I…didn’t think of it that way. Wow. Thanks, fposte. I was trying to keep myself from going down the paranoid (and not very helpful) “someone is trying to sabotage you” train of thought (admittedly because my father was the victim of one such attempt when he was new in the workforce).

        This comment has cheered me up immensely. Thanks.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      There is a quiet strength that builds from confronting mistakes. We think we have lost a part of ourselves because of embarrassment, but we actually grow new parts of ourselves. Keep that in mind that in time you will find that you are stronger than you thought you were.

      Regarding the misinformation- maybe it is nasty of me, but when I am on a new job I keep track of the people’s names who give me bad information. I track their names because usually that is the shorter list and it is easier to keep in my head. I avoid asking those people if I can. If I can’t avoid asking them, I will be sure to say “How can I get this answer for myself, so I do not keep bugging you?”

      As long as things seem calmer now, I would just keep my chin up and keep going. You’ll probably be okay in the long run.

      1. Shell*

        Monday to Wednesday were completely insane, but the last two days have calmed down considerably, and consequently, my number of stupid mistakes in the last two days have been very low (dare I say nil?). Also, surprisingly (to me anyway), my coworkers do not seem to think I need to be dressed down for my mistakes. One of them even apologized to me earlier today for something I thought was totally trivial, so I do feel a lot better now.

        I won’t need to ask that person for information very much, and now that I’m less stressed I’m inclined to think it was a genuine miscommunication somehow. Still being careful (I’m retweaking my own procedures every week), but hopefully I won’t run into any more mishaps! I’m already planning some follow up emails for next week.

        Thanks for the reassurance. AAM is an awesome community. :)

  51. barefeet54*

    So this morning I got a call from an employer that I did a phone interview with back in August or September. After the interview, I got an email saying no thanks, and I have been working in another job since then. On the call this morning, they said that the interviewer thought I was overqualified but kept my materials/info, and they want to talk to me about another position that’s open now. This is crazy to me (I thought this was a job applications myth/urban legend). They sent along the new position description, which actually looks beyond me – more work experience than I have, an advanced degree I don’t have. But they know that and still want to talk so hey, I’m game.

    What I’m unsure of is whether I should consider this a “real” job interview? I will be preparing as if it were, but I don’t know what to expect! (I also am committed to my current job for a while longer – at least a month after they want someone to start at this other organization – but I guess that’s an issue for another time, if I were to get an offer). Any words of advice or anything would be much appreciated!

    1. Elizabeth West*

      First, they just want to talk to you about it. That isn’t an offer, so you don’t have to make any decisions about your current job right now. Of course you should treat it as a real job interview–they’re all information-gathering meetings. That’s what you’re doing right now. If you’re really interested in this employer, it will not hurt to go and see what they have to say, what answers they have to your questions, etc.

      Second, the hiring process often takes time–so it could be more than a month before you find out anything. Again, no decisions at the moment. I would retract that if they offered it on the spot, but that would be another question. And you might get in there and decide it’s not for you.

      Good luck!

    2. Lizard*

      Definitely a “real” job interview! It’s great that they actually held on to your materials and called you back in.

    3. jamlady*

      Given that it’s a totally different position (and it’s been 7 months since you last spoke with them), go into the interview like you’re starting from scratch. They may have kept your stuff, but I doubt they’ll remember the interview much (especially the off-hand stuff that may actually be important to them). Also, they may have made assumptions about you for this position because of where you were personally and in your career 7 months ago. It’s important to go in with a clean slate and show them where you are now. Equally important, THEY may have changed in the last 7 months, so don’t forget to ask the same questions about structure and all that so you know the company and the way it’s run is still something you want to be apart of. Good luck!

  52. Spooky*

    How do you ask for feedback when you haven’t gotten a formal rejection?

    I recently made it through the first two rounds of a job that I really, really wanted and thought I’d be a great fit for. The initial feedback from the company was positive: they responded to my application in less than 12 hours, said I did a great job in the first round (a test,) was their first candidate for interviews in round two, and said they thought my experience was a great fit. They told me they would let me know either way about next steps. Now, it’s been a month since my interview, and it’s been radio silence. Neither of the people I was in contact with responded to my follow-up email. I’m assuming that this means they’re pursuing other candidates and just aren’t following through with their promise to let me know. Naturally, I understand that there were likely many qualified candidates and I never felt like I “deserved” the job or was guaranteed to get it, but I would really like feedback so that I could do better in future interviews. Is there a way that I can ask for feedback even though I haven’t formally been rejected?

    1. fposte*

      I think you can try the usual message, and treat it as your not getting the job. But I’m not sure I’d bother; they’re already unresponsive about the actual job process, so I don’t think they’re likely to be responsive on an additional request.

      1. jamlady*

        This times a miiiiillion. I’ve been second choice for jobs with very thorough and communicative hiring processes and then when they sent the formal and blah rejection letter, I received no response about advice. Never hurts to try, but you probably won’t hear anything.

  53. AnonKlutz*

    I need to ditch my regular name since this situation is super-identifying.

    I fell at work last week and it was really stupid. I was just walking and bam! down I went. Nothing either my company or I did was dangerous. I initially thought I was ok, then when an ice pack didn’t fix it I officially reported it to worker’s comp and saw a doctor. I wound up in a brace and OTC meds with the expectation that I’d start improving really quickly and be fine in two weeks. The problem is that I started getting worse. I haven’t had a full night’s sleep since it happened. I’m now banned from putting weight on it and had an MRI that I’ll get the results from next week. I pushed through working the rest of last week and most of this week (including going in over the weekend) but finally hit a wall yesterday/today and took today to stay home.

    The problem is that I feel really guilty about taking the time off now – like who gets progressively worse? How do I justify being able to work right after it happened but not now? I have a desk job and can put my leg up while I work, but just getting myself there is exhausting. I feel like I look like I’m faking, even though I’m not. I don’t know if there’s a question in here, I’m just at the point where I don’t know what to do and am super frustrated!

    1. Rex*

      I know this is scary, especially since you’re still maybe figuring out what is wrong, but you need to take the time to let this heal. It sounds like your employer is understanding, so you’re much luckier than a lot of people who need to push through just to get food on the table. Do what you have to do to get better.

    2. barefeet54*

      I think it’s totally ok and not at all uncommon for an injury to be worse than originally expected! Doctors make mistakes too :) I hope that you start feeling well soon.

        1. Snork Maiden*

          Oh my gosh, I agree, please take time off to rest. I did not, after a bad sprain, and I’m still dealing with repercussions two years later.

        2. Natalie*

          I notice that with sickness, too. If I have a cold and I take one day off to rest, I will be 90% better in 2 days and totally better in 4. If I take no days off and power through, I’ll be sick for at least a full week, sometimes more. And I’ll feel like absolute hell.

      1. AnonKlutz*

        Thanks!

        I probably (ok definitely) pushed too hard at first, to the point where I actively denied how much pain I was in. And now I’m stuck with having to admit the state I’m really in, which is not something I’d wish on anyone.

        1. barefeet54*

          Hope you aren’t stuck there for long – rest up and let yourself heal, however long it takes.

    3. Tamzin*

      Many people get progressively worse, especially if you have damage to a nerve and are (like me) of our uniquely masochistic work culture that emphasizes “fighting through it” rather than “getting the rest you need now instead of hurting yourself worse later.”

      As a personal example, I slipped on some ice and fell into (INTO) traffic a year or so ago. I had skinned knees, ripped $300 pants (lol), skinned palms that looked horrific, and a bruised hip and knee. I thought my injuries were superficial and scary, yes, but whatever — I’ll go to work and buy bandages. However, deciding to not check for head and neck injuries were a big mistake. I thought that I shouldn’t “make a scene” by taking the day to go to the ER, but as I was becoming extremely fatigued and achy at work I realized that huh, something was seriously wrong. While at work I was slurring my words and my boss even made an insensitive joke that I must have taken some pills and booze to “deal with my boo-boo” and that I needed to get some coffee.

      Turns out I had bad whiplash and a mild concussion from bouncing off the concrete. I told my boss I was taking the day off and that he’d get a doctor’s note and I’d update him on progress and that’s the end of it. He didn’t respond negatively at all, but when I finally returned from work he was definitely contrite about not encouraging me to go straight to the ER (my problems may have been lessened had I done so) and apologized for the booze and pills jokes. They weren’t funny.

      Long story short: Screw work, please take care of yourself. Get ALL the doctors’ notes. Just because your boss doesn’t understand how human biology and pain work doesn’t mean you need to be further victimized by him/her.

      1. AnonKlutz*

        and are (like me) of our uniquely masochistic work culture that emphasizes “fighting through it” rather than “getting the rest you need now instead of hurting yourself worse later.”

        Or “fight through it because you feel guilty pushing too much of onto the person who acts as your backup since he also has his own job to do, so suck it up and get everything done”

        I’m irrational and I know it.

        1. Tamzin*

          Well, it’s not totally irrational to worry about your coworkers and their work loads. But you have to look out for #1, you know? I completely understand how you feel, and it seems like this is really legitimate, so honestly, I bet your coworkers are wishing the best for a recovery and won’t mind shouldering some of your work so that you can take care of this. Have faith in the good will of your community! You’ll owe ’em one, that’s all. Or maybe it won’t even be that big of a deal.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        This this a thousand times this. An untreated concussion can KILL you. I’m glad you are okay, Tamzin.

        AnonKlutz–do whatever you have to do to heal. Most people think of falls as no big deal, but they can and do kill people. So they can be minor but obviously you can get really hurt!

    4. College Career Counselor*

      It seems to me (I could be mis-reading things) that you might feel somewhat weird about taking time off for a “stupid” fall at work, rather than a “legitimate” accident. Leaving that aside, my advice is to take the time off that you medically need to (and sometimes things DO get progressively worse after the initial injury). If anyone asks (or you feel the need to say something), you can certainly say, “Initially, I thought I’d be back up and running in a couple of weeks. As it turns out, it’s more complicated than that, and going back straightaway was not helpful.” Unless you have an unreasonable boss (or mean-spirited co-workers), I suspect people will be very understanding.

      1. AnonKlutz*

        I think you really hit what the voice in my head is telling me. There’s absolutely no good reason why I’m injured (well, yes, I recognize that landing all 200+ lbs on one knee without warning is going to cause problems, but why that happened is beyond me). My boss is pretty ok with it, but I’m also trying to tackle attendance problems with my staff, so I feel like I have to be there 100% of the time (even though I answer questions all through my waking hours). It’s not rational, and I recognize that, but it doesn’t keep me from feeling like an idiot for getting hurt and a hypocrite for not going in.

          1. AnonKlutz*

            Unfortunately, I don’t have a company-issued laptop, so all I can access is my email and IM system. I’ve been reading emails as they come in and either handling them, passing them to someone in the office, or marking them as to-do when I get back to the office if they aren’t time sensitive. I would LOVE to be able to work from home (and have a huge backlog of stuff I could work through), if only I had access to the system. My mind is fine (unless I take a painkiller, which I only need if I’m trying to push through a day in the office).

            1. PurpleMonkeyDishwasher*

              Any chance of getting a laptop, at least for the short term? Most places I’ve worked will have a few loaner laptops floating around in addition to the permanently-assigned laptops, to be used when, say, someone who doesn’t normally travel has to go on a work trip, or when someone (as in your situation) needs to be at home for a longer-than-expected amount of time.

            2. Treena Kravm*

              I would request the laptop then. If you frame it as you did above, (that you can work fine from home, but if you drag yourself to the office, you need to be on pain meds that give you brain fog), then they might see the reasoning behind it.

            3. Elizabeth West*

              Agree with Treena below. Ask them! I’m sure if it’s feasible, they’d be happy to have you being productive if you’re able.

              I just got okay’d to work from London on my trip, btw. Which is a good thing–the month end for then has gotten HUGE. I don’t want to dump that on my coworkers while I’m off having cocktails with my chat room peeps and doing research. So I totally understand how you feel!

    5. OriginalEmma*

      Please, please, please keep Worker’s Comp in the loop about all sequelae you think are related to this event. I don’t mean the doctor they send you to but the company representative working on your case. A family member of mine was injured on the job, reported the immediate damage but didn’t report in a timely manner to the SPECIFIC company worker’s comp representative (even though she told the worker’s comp doctor they sent her to) additional musculoskeletal issues immediately, and the company said “well, you didn’t report that initially so we don’t care.”

      Additionally I was listening to MPR about how workers compensation around the country has been gutted and people are being absolutely screwed by it. So be careful.

      1. AnonKlutz*

        That’s definitely a good point. I had been talking to my rep every few days, but once the MRI was ordered I was escalated and don’t know who the new person is yet. I’m definitely calling the original person if I don’t hear back with the new person’s info Monday.

  54. VictoriaHR*

    I’m in the somewhat enviable position of expecting a job offer while still employed at a job that I do like, so I can turn down the offer if it’s not appealing enough.

    But my current job is contract and is set to expire in less than 5 months, whereas the new one would be full-time with benefits. My current manager is saying that he wants to convert me within “3 to 5 months” but his hands are currently tied. There’s just no budget for converting contractors right now (large company, international, 10k+ employees)

    New company would be small and family-owned, $9-10k more per year plus bonuses. Same great hours. Jeans dress code. Laptop and cell phone to work remotely if I want to on occasion (at my current job I’m still without a laptop after 7 months even though other contractors can work from home every day). Laid-back atmosphere with lots of friendliness (current job I’m stuck in a back hole because there’s no cubicle for me) and my own large office.

    New job sounds like a no-brainer but I feel badly about putting in notice because we’re understaffed. Blah.

    1. College Career Counselor*

      Unless there’s something off-putting about the new job (besides concern about change or the new/unknown) that you’re not mentioning, it sounds like:

      a) the working conditions are the same or much better than you have now
      b) the salary and benefits are significantly better
      c) the culture seems welcoming/a good fit

      AND, your current employer is not exactly moving quickly to equip, locate or convert you. So leaving them short-staffed (and off-loading your work to your colleagues) is the rationale for not taking the new position?

      What would you tell a friend in your position?

      1. VictoriaHR*

        I would tell them to go where they think they’ll be happier. And for me I think that’s the new one :) Looking forward to the offer on Tuesday!

    2. CheeryO*

      People will understand! I left my last job for a gig that was objectively better in just about every way, and almost everyone was incredibly kind and supportive of me after I put in my notice.

    3. Observer*

      I don’t know whether your manager is blowing smoke to keep you from looking elsewhere or really does want to convert you to full time. But, as long as you don’t have commitment in writing that you will go from contractor / temp employee to F/T, it’s meaningless. What IS meaningful, in the meantime, is that you are not getting the same kinds of benefits other contractors are getting. Why would they choose the person who they are giving the LEAST to, as the person they convert to F/T?

    4. Treena Kravm*

      I’m just as confused as others above. The contract job is $10k less than the full-time, (presumably) benefited job? Isn’t that the equivalent of $15-20k less, since you’re providing your own insurance?

      I think answering two questions will help. What happens at the 5 month expiration mark? Does the contract terminate or are you still an on-going contractor after that point? It seems like you know a lot, but have you done enough research about the culture to know whether or not you’ll be truly as happy/happier in the new job? What do you need to learn to be sure? Find that out asap.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      Seems to me that if they were that worried about you leaving they could have done something before now. What are you supposed to do sit there on the last day and say “Do you think you might want to convert me, pretty-pleeease?” NOT.
      This is straight-forward. Their opening is iffy, the new job is not iffy. I’d say go for it.

  55. Labyrinthine*

    I manage a small team of direct support specialists. Most of the team is great about keeping their head down, plowing through our, admittedly, very busy workload and additional projects that I need them to work on. And then there is Wakeem.

    Wakeem … is difficult. Wakeem wants to just provide direct support, but this job requires projects, too. At first, Wakeem handled the projects but expressed a very negative attitude about it – to everyone. Then, after a very public scene, we took Wakeem down to an entry level position to handle just direct support. But this put a burden on the rest of the team to pick up the slack. Next week, I have to tell Wakeem he needs to resume his project work, and continue the level of direct support as everyone else and if he can’t, then he isn’t right for the position.

    I will admit, I hate these conversations. But I know it needs to be done. We’ve talked about it before but I don’t think he takes it seriously. He tends to try to be manipulative and threaten to leave, which at this point is probably what is going to happen.

    So, I’m taking Alison’s advice and making myself a list of talking points that need to be expressed. We are at the point, where it is going to be put in writing for Wakeem and given clear and direct timelines from which certain goals must be met.

    Does anyone have any advice on this? I’ve never had to put anyone on any sort of performance plan before as this is my first team and the other five are phenomenal workers that have caused no trouble yet.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      If he’s threatening to leave, why not just say, “If what I’m describing isn’t the right fit for you, that might be what makes sense. Should we talk more about that?” I mean, he’s opening the door to it — let him walk through it.

      1. knitcrazybooknut*

        This was an eye-opener for me when I saw it play out years ago. A manager was trying to brainstorm with my HR Director about ways to keep an employee from complaining and threatening to quit all the time. My HR Director said, “Why do we need to stop him from doing that?” Jaw dropped.

        It’s a shift in thinking, but if someone is unhappy and/or not performing, there’s no real reason (besides avoiding the stress of hiring and training someone new) to stop them from walking out the door.

      2. Labyrinthine*

        This may be a none issue at this point. We had a network outage today and he disregarded direct instructions, argued with me about what he should be doing during this time and outright acted insubordinate. I’ll be discussing with my manager how we can fire him because today just proved he isn’t someone I can trust on my team.

        1. jamlady*

          Oh yikes. Coming (very recently) from a team with a coworker like this where the company didn’t do ANYTHING about said coworker, please please please remove him from the situation. He doesn’t deserve to be there.

    2. some1*

      “Then, after a very public scene, we took Wakeem down to an entry level position to handle just direct support.”

      Am I correct in assuming you demoted him because he made a public scene? I understand your line of thinking, and I know I am Monday morning quartebacking, but you really should have addressed that making scenes won’t be tolerated anymore.

      1. Labyrinthine*

        That was addressed. And he wasn’t “demoted” he just had responsibilities taken away from him but maintained his same position.

  56. Ama*

    Open question to the readers:

    How has reading AAM impacted your work life? How have you applied advice you find here?

    For me, I was able to give a coworker a good script to use to get what she needed from another coworker who is extremely melodramatic and emotional and takes everything personally.

    1. Noelle*

      It’s definitely helped me get my last two jobs and massively increased the number of interviews I’ve gotten. Particularly her advice about what questions you are most afraid of being asked at a job interview and then prepping for those.

    2. GOG11*

      I’ve sort of adopted a new attitude/culture about my workplace. I’ve implemented specific strategies, phrasing, etc. from time to time, but the most significant change has been in my thought patterns and approach to things. I look at and evaluate situations through a different lens.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        This is so interesting! (As are all the responses to this question!) Is the new lens more of a “how managers think about this stuff” or something else?

        1. GOG11*

          It’s more about being aware of my assumptions and taking them into account when I address work situations and about evaluating problems, behaviors, scenarios, etc. based on outcomes and effects. I assess situations based on how it affects job performance and the organization instead of relying on my beliefs about how the workplace should work. I’ve also learned to accept how things ARE rather than how I believe they SHOULD be – because how they should be isn’t how they are.

          For example, a coworker had said something to my manager about my sick leave/time out of office and my manager passed it on to me. Instead of becoming defensive and focusing on the fact that I’m allowed to take sick leave, I addressed my job performance and asked if there were concerns about my work being done correctly and on time. In the past, I would have focused on how coworkers SHOULD respect that I have certain benefits and I’m allowed to take them instead of the fact that one of my coworkers was raising concerns about my sick time.

    3. cuppa*

      It has enhanced my management skills exponentially. The best part about here, for me, is being able to bounce off wording and feedback and finding the right words and tone to convey a message.

      1. Ama*

        I feel like I’m channeling my inner AAM when I come up with something with good wording.

    4. Shell*

      It’s helped me be far less afraid of direct conversations between coworkers–phrased diplomatically, of course. I learned that efficiency and kindness don’t have to be mutually exclusive and directness isn’t the same as lacking tact. Sometimes when I discuss work things with my parents and they suggest things that inevitably turn to “if it gets worse, you should loop in their supervisor or your supervisor” and I go “absolutely, but before that, I’d want to talk to them directly first.”

      AAM is amazing.