open thread – April 17, 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 :)

{ 1,390 comments… read them below }

  1. Sunflower

    How do you let your network know you’re looking for a new job without being obnoxious? My company doesn’t know I’m job hunting so I can’t exactly blast on LinkedIn that I’m interested in new opportunities. Is sending individualized emails to people okay or obnoxious? I have a lot of contacts at work that might have leads but they are in contact with my boss too. Seems too risky to let them know I’m looking.

    1. fposte

      I lean toward individual emails anyway–if you want an individual response, you want to use individual communication. So I think it’s not obnoxious and is preferable to a LinkedIn announcement anyway.

      1. thisisit

        I agree, people are more likely to help you if you send more personalized requests tailored to what they can specifically help you with. Make sure you include a blurb about yourself and what you are looking for so people can forward to others.

        Depending on your relationship with people, you can certainly say that you are starting to scope out the job market and making casual inquiries but not necessarily publicly looking so you would appreciate their discretion, and etc.

    2. Adam V

      I would probably send emails to your friends and to those closest to you at your current company, but only those you trust to be discreet. Just try to be specific about what it is that you’re looking to change (closer to home? something more senior?) so they don’t point you to a positions that aren’t a fit – I think there are few things as discouraging to someone who’s trying to help than to hear “thanks, but that’s not exactly what I’m looking for” without more details as to why.

    3. Pizza Lover

      I think that it probably depends on your relationships with those people, as well as their relationships with your boss. I don’t think most rational people would fault you for using your network to see what opportunities are out there, but again, their relationship with your boss is probably key here.

      1. Sunflower

        If my boss found out I was looking..I really don’t know what would happen except it wouldn’t be taken well. I work in an environment where people are always watching but they’d rarely confront you about things. So if he saw or heard something suspicious, he wouldn’t confront me but he’d start watching me like a hawk. Then if more things came up, the conversation would most certainly not be of the ‘what can we do to fix this’ variety- I see it something like ‘well if you aren’t happy here you should just leave now’ I have heard from people that he stalks people’s LinkedIn accounts watching for activity!! Not that the activity on your LinkedIn account means anything but…

        1. 22dncr

          I would lean towards not telling them then. You never know what people are going through in their lives. They may be on a PIP and throw you under the bus to save their skin. I’ve had this happen to me SO MANY times. Better not to give them any info that can be used against you.

    4. Jubilance

      When I started hunting, I sent a LinkedIn private message to select folks that I was connected to. That way I could inform my network without making it super obvious that I’m looking.

  2. Christy

    I’m asking about picking between two employers, with salary and benefits completely equal.

    I’m a federal employee who works for Office A. I’m currently on a temporary assignment to Office B, and I’ve worked a lot with Office C while working for Office B. Offices B and C are both going to try to hire me at a promotion (exactly the same pay/benefits/structure, and I’d be working remotely for both of them). I’m definitely going to go work for one of them, as a promotion won’t happen in Office A for several years at least. I started as an intern with Office A in 2008 and I’m now an analyst.

    The question: do I want to work for Office B or Office C? Office B works with Office A, and I would have SharePoint responsibilities in addition to some program responsibilities. I would have a wider variety of work, and it would likely be lower-stress than Office C. My concern is that I am kind of sick of Office A, and I don’t know that I want to keep working with them regularly. I would work with Office A probably 5% of the time most of the time and then 40% of the time sometimes. I would have flexibility to work with Office C as well, and Office B has been very supportive. Office B is mostly women.

    In Office C, I would be basically only doing SharePoint. I like SharePoint, but I’m not sure I want to do only that. They also have a really high workload. That boss is also pretty good, though not as great as Office B. I’ve met many of the Office C people in person, and I like working with them. But I don’t know if I want to get pigeonholed into just doing SharePoint, particularly because I don’t have a lot of other technology skills, though I enjoy learning. Office B is mixed male/female, but I’m the only woman working on SharePoint, so I’d end up working with only men most of the time.

    I guess my question actually is: what is strategically better for my career? Office B: I’d be working in a program area, doing SharePoint (which my organization really values, at least now), but with more flexibility to move around and work with other offices on program issues. I’d do some work with my old Office A, Office C: I’d be developing SharePoint sites, working with other offices, but mostly in an implementation capacity. I’d probably be working with more offices, but not as deeply. Which allows more room for advancement? Do tech workers get pigeonholed?

    Thanks, everyone, for reading. It’s a great problem to have.

    1. Anie

      It really sounds like Office B is the better option, to me. From what I understand, the main negative with B is the work with Office A. That’s doable, especially with the distance you’ll be getting. For me, I always going with the better boss.

      1. Christy

        Oh! That’s the other thing! I know my big boss is great, but I’m getting a new little boss in Office B. They’ve posted the position and they’re hiring soon, but that’s an unknown. It could be the woman who’s acting in the role, who is great, but it could also be a man I’ve worked with (and professionally disagreed with) in the past, and I’m not sure how it would be to have him as my supervisor. (We used to have to argue about a certain topic when I was with Office A and he was with Office B as an employee.)

        The little boss just got promoted to be the big boss, so he’s still quite involved.

        1. BritCred

          Do you have space to wait to see who the boss of Office B will be? And do you really want to work aside that person as a colleague even if he isn’t the boss?

          1. Christy

            He’s in a manager training program, so he’ll leave to be a manager somewhere. He’s currently acting in another office. I think we could be coworkers, I just wonder about him supervising me. (I’ve also not really worked with him while I’ve been in Office B because he’s be acting elsewhere.)

        2. Connie-Lynne

          That’s cool for the little boss!

          I was coming here originally to say, definitely go with B. I understand the appeal of working in a mostly-women office, but you don’t want to be pigeonholed as only in one technology. But then you posted this and …

          Having professional disagreements isn’t the end of the world, but it can occasionally make things awkward. Is potential-new-boss-guy the sort of person who holds grudges? Is the matter you two disagreed on likely to mean he is going to instruct you to do things his way instead of your way, and that will make you unhappy? Is it a matter that leads you to believe you two will have other clashes? If so, wait and see whether he gets the position, if you can.

          1. Christy

            We were both arguing our offices’ official positions, so that part wouldn’t be an issue. I don’t think he would hold grudges, although I’ve definitely had to acknowledge even to big boss how adversarial Office A can be. Which is a good point. Big boss has gotten over the arguing, even though we were on opposite sides, so potential-new-boss likely would too.

    2. Businesslady

      congrats on finding yourself in such an enviable position!

      my take on this sort of situation is that there’s no way of objectively determining the “better” option–even if you decide it’s C for XYZ reasons, any of those could shift in such a way that B looks preferable in hindsight (& vice versa).

      so here’s what I do when I have a seemingly impossible choice: flip a coin. not because I think it’s a good idea to leave major decisions to chance (I absolutely don’t) but because I often find that a coin-flips reveals the gut feelings that get drowned out by intellectual pro/con assessments. once the coin gives you an answer, you’ll probably feel either a little disappointed or a little relieved–& then you know which one you should choose.

      (in the event that you feel truly, absolutely neutral after this exercise, then I guess my plan-B suggestion is to talk to as many potential future colleagues as possible & see if that helps.)

      1. Moo

        Ahhh, you mean the Phoebe Buffet Pregnancy Decision Strategy. I concur, as does Rachel Green.

    3. ThatOneRedhead

      Congratulations on the opportunities! I’d go with Option B. Personally, I’d value a better boss and more diverse work over a more technically deep role.

      1. De Minimis

        I’d go with B, with federal jobs one question I think people should ask is if the job is something they’d be happy with doing for a long time. I think having a variety of work is really important too.
        The more things you are able to do, the less likely it is for you to get stuck and the better chance you have at career mobility later.

    4. Sunflower

      I think Office B is the better bet. The only downside is still having to work with Office A occasionally but that seems to outweigh the negatives that come along with Office C.

      I don’t work in tech(have no idea how important SharePoint is) so my reply might not be that helpful but I can’t see how taking a job that solely focuses on doing something you don’t want to solely focus on would be a good idea.

      1. Christy

        Hah, that’s a really good point. I’ve been focusing on work with Office A/not work with Office A, but you’ve hit the real question: Do I want SharePoint to be my whole job? And I think it could be my whole job, like I think I can handle it, but I don’t think I prefer it to be my whole job. And I don’t think I want it to be my whole job forever.

        Thank you. (Thank you all.)

    5. thisisit

      when people leave Offices B and C, where do they go or what do they end up doing? Especially those in positions similar to yours.

      What exactly do you not like about Office A, and what are the differences between B and C bosses?

      Do the kinds of jobs you’d like to pursue in the future tend to be those that value depth or breadth of experience?

      1. Christy

        These questions are great. I don’t know that people really move on from either of these offices. They’re generally destinations for people. Many go into management or retire. There aren’t many young employees in either office, though I know of at least one who’s in his 30s in Office C.

        I feel like Office A doesn’t have any power and doesn’t have a strong director. Offices B and C both have power. Office B has a pretty strong director who will go to bat for you, and Office C has a lot of power to get contractors and stuff, but not a ton of day-to-day power for the employees–they build based on others’ requests.

        Let’s be real. I have 40 years left in the government, and I’d like to be an executive. (I think. It’s either that or a technical advisor, which is a GS-15 analyst position.) An executive values breadth. A technical advisor probably values depth, but probably not in technology areas.

        1. thisisit

          It might be worth taking the long-view then. I put up with a crappy big boss for a few years because it was good for my career. But I did move on when I couldn’t maintain my own professionalness/got too miserable.

    6. The Cosmic Avenger

      I also would probably pick Office B, but then I like my client, so I’m having trouble judging how much Office A has gotten on your nerves. Would you be more working with Office A or for them? Working with someone you don’t like is more tolerable than working for them, especially if their management style or personality is the issue, because you’re often more subject to those things working for them.

      1. Christy

        With, certainly, not for. I would end up working in opposition to them on some issues (nature of the offices), and perhaps collaborating on a big project. A BIG project that I don’t know that I want to work on at all. (Of course, Offices A, B, and C will all end up working on this project. That’s a good point, self.)

      2. Moo

        “Working with someone you don’t like is more tolerable than working for them” DING, we have a winner. It really does change everything.

        As an aside, I’m going to say something that may be unpopular but I am saying this as both a (female) peon and as a supervisor: do take staff gender into consideration, even if it’s a stereotype. While it’s rough having few women in tech (I have experience in this), having all women also has its disadvantages (I have experience in this, too). It’s not all roses and glitter. (well, not all the time anyway.) If I had to pick right now and the only thing to choose from was gender, I would go with the opposite gendered office as it eliminates a looooot of messy day to day garbage. Mixing it up, for me, created some really productive and happy teams which I had to curate from a (painful) one-gendered department.

    7. The Strand

      What is your long term goal?

      If you interned 7 years ago, I’d gather you’re still in your early to mid twenties. If you don’t yet know what you want to do with your career, even a general direction, Office B might be better, for giving you some more time to test the waters. I also think that if you leave on good terms, your existing relationship with Office A might allow you to get your work done more easily, because you know where to find resources, who to talk to, etc.

      Office C will give you a leg up in tech, and I believe Sharepoint is a valuable skill to have (though it’s outside of my specific wheelhouse) where you could get other jobs in the private sector. Yes, tech workers get pigeonholed. And if you’re female, tech is not always a happy industry to work in (though my personal and observed experience is that technology jobs in a government institution are usually not as “gendered” as they might be in a private company, and the Nerf battles are more likely to be kept as a special occasion thing). If you think you might want to become a technology leader some day, Office C is a good place to start, but even a successful person specializing in tech to that degree could be marginalized at some institutions and not seen as part of the big picture. YMMV, but read TechRepublic to get a sense of how this happens at some companies and organizations.

      If you value money and a skill that will make you valuable to a variety of employers, or want to be a tech leader or professional, Office C. If you want to be a leader of the big picture (eg program development, selection), deciding what direction your institution is going in, or want to keep your soft skills stronger, Office B. I could be wrong (I’m sure Katie the Fed would have better advice) but I get the impression that Office B will be more interesting and less boring to you.

      1. Christy

        Thank you. This is really good advice, and I’m going to seriously think about it. I think I’m leaning towards staying with the government, but it’s a good point that Office C would give me skills that transfer elsewhere.

        I’ll check out that TechRepublic link.

    8. RG

      I would go with Office B, especially since you’re not sure if you want to focus only on SharePoint.

    9. ac

      I would not focus on the amount of time you’re spending with office A colleague as a negative for office B. Even if you’re not happy with them now, the dynamic may change when you are in a different reporting structure, e.g., they could be crumby colleagues but great clients, or acceptable in small doses but not so great in larger doses.

      I think the balance favors Office B.

    10. yup

      It sounds like you’ve identified your concerns about each office.
      If you’re trying to keep promoting by making new connections, office C sounds like the way to go because you will be in meetings with higher ups from several different departments listening to and solving their problems. Word will get around that you are doing a good job from more than just one or two people, which helps you establish a track record of working well with lots of different people and personality types. You also said the workload is high, so, are you ready for it? Prove your point and get promoted again quickly, if that’s your goal.
      You stated that you might not want to do SharePoint exclusively; however, I would argue that it would be actually reflect well on you if you were able to master this specific software, for a couple of reasons: 1) not very many people in government know how to use SharePoint very well; I work in state Gov’t so I see failed attempts to use it well, a lot. 2) Everyone you work with and work for knows what you do and how you contribute. 3) When you’re ready for a change, people will understand that this wasn’t the end-all for you, which shows that you’re a skilled individual who can take on many roles and learn new things, transferable talent.

      Office B you’ve already been on temporary assignment to and you like the boss. Would the boss go to bat for you with HR to keep promoting you? If so, that is a strong factor. A good boss who cares about your advancement is very, very valuable and rare, and your happiness at work is important. This sounds like the “safer and closer to home choice” but if you feel you will not be able to network as much, it might be smart to turn away from the familiar and branch out to Office C.

      You made some comments about the demographics (mostly men vs. mostly women). I don’t have any advice other than listen to your own internal dialogue about what that means to you and why. I was told that I would work in an office with mostly women once and I just shrugged it off because it didn’t matter to me, but I’ve seen some coworkers get seriously worked up over male-female power imbalances, so give it a good thought. Good luck!

    11. LQ

      No one wants all SharePoint all the time :) B sounds like an option with more variety, especially with a strong boss. That would really drive me.

      Trends change, if something new comes out, or if SharePoint is no longer the cool thing and you take C especially as a more tech job it might be difficult to transition out of it. But with B you’ll likely get to transition out of SharePoint and into something else more easily, either if you go, I can’t look at another list or library or create another workflow! Or if MS decides to get rid of it. (I know they say they won’t, but…)

    12. Camellia

      Do tech workers get pigeonholed?

      Absolutely. I’ve worked in IT for 35 years and can attest to that. “Oh, your last role was SharePoint for X years? We don’t need a SharePoint person.”

    13. Thinking out loud

      I haven’t read the other comments, but I’d go for Office B. You say the manager there is better, and that’s 90% of what’s important for me. You also seem to have some reservations about being pigeonholed into Sharepoint work, and Office B gives you more opportunities. It seems like the only downside is working with Office A, but I think that Office B is actually easier from that standpoint too – tell your manager at Office A that you’ve enjoyed working with them, but you think that it makes sense to transfer to Office B since you’re loaned out to them already anyway. (In my experience, it’s awkward to report to one manager but do all of your work for another one.)

  3. Rose

    I got the job I posted about a few weeks ago! The thing is I still haven’t received my offer letter though I got a verbal offer last Friday. Do I wait it out? Contact them to follow up? Thanks!

    1. Apollo Warbucks

      I’d call them in case they think you’re not interested!

      I’m not sure where you are from, in the UK offer letters and employment contracts are common place, but from what I read here in the US not so much.

    2. Ask a Manager Post author

      Are you positive that they plan to send one? Some places don’t do them as a matter of routine. But if they said you’d be getting one, it’s reasonable to reach out to say you haven’t received it and just wanted to make sure it hadn’t been lost in transit (and then to ask about the timeline for receiving it).

    3. LizNYC

      In my current job, I was waiting for a letter or, at least, a formal email. Turns out the company didn’t usually do that (though they offered to do one if I needed it). I’m glad I followed up because I almost lost the position because I was waiting! Follow up and find out what their procedure is.

  4. Anie

    I have to share a recent work interaction. It involves me crying in the workplace, but I feel like this is the sort of incidence where that doesn’t reflect badly on me.

    Sitting in my office, reading a book (I’m on my lunch). Two co-workers stop in the doorway of my office, in the middle of a discussion. I look up but they’re not talking to me, so I tune them out. After a minute or so, after a burst of incredibly strong swearing, I realize they’re having a very heated argument.

    I think I said something like, “Are you seriously fighting in front of me right now?”

    One woman immediately turns to me and tells me to “Mind your own f*ing business.”

    Who does that?! Yes, I could have phrased my initial comment better, but I was appalled to realize that kind language was happening two feet from me. We’d previously had a decent working relationship (5 years), so I responded by looking shocked and saying, “Hey, that’s uncalled for! Knock it off.”

    This enraged her. Apparently it’s a phrase her mother used often and she had negative associations with it. Her rant included the comment that I’m “not her mother and she’ll she speak to me however she damn well pleases.”

    I stated firmly that, as a co-worker, it wasn’t acceptable for her to talk to me like that. She did a 180, suddenly all smiles and insisted she was just joking. Things like this have popped up on AAM before, so I tried to use the advice from those instances. I was firm, and said that it still wasn’t acceptable to speak for me that way. The last thing I wanted was for this to happen again in the future and have her brush if off as a joke.

    She…lost it. Screaming. Swearing. Saying she’d always hated me. When she moved to physical threats, I immediately stood up, moved past her, and went to management. We had a sit down, she and I plus management. It was basically me crying for an hour while she first repeated how much she hated me, admitting every single thing she’d said, and pointedly saying what a great worker she has been. Finally she apologized. She used phrases like, “I probably shouldn’t talk to co-workers like that” and “I would never hurt a co-worker.” Not exactly reassuring, right?

    We parted on the terms that, obviously, she’s never to speak to anyone like that again and that this issue could stay between us. I spent the rest of the day, when asked why my face and eyes were so red, saying my allergies were flaring up. Apparently she spent the rest of the day, and the following days, telling everyone how awful I am and how going to management “just wasn’t done.”

    I hate to go back to management and say the issue hasn’t been resolved, but I feel that’s my only avenue, right?

    1. Blue Anne

      Oh my god. I’m so sorry you had to go through that. That would almost certainly have me in tears at work as well.

      Yes, in your shoes, I would go back to management, as much as that will suck. Geez. Ugh.

    2. Sadsack

      What happened to the original person she was fighting with?

      I think I may not go back to management unless she said something to me directly. What she is saying to others is second-hand, unless she is talking to them in front of you. I can’t believe anyone would take her seriously and see you in a negative light based on the way she has acted. I think she is really only damaging her own credibility.

      1. Anie

        Nothing happened with the other person. They didn’t complain about whatever their issues was. More willing to let it go, I guess…

        1. oþ hund cnea werþeoda gewitan

          Is this the same office where the HR guy was harassing you and throwing things at you?

          If so: you should really find a new job.

          (Also, I’d love to visit this place. For approximately the same reasons I’d love to visit North Korea)

    3. TotesMaGoats

      Yeah, I would’ve cried to. That’s verbal assault in my book and I would probably lose my handle on my emotions. You did the right thing. Your coworker is cray cray and not to be trusted ever. Management probably didn’t handle that well either. I don’t think a sit down with all of you and allowing her to blast you was the right move.

    4. Pizza Lover

      Uh wow, for the record, she sounds insane and it sounds like you handled it the best way you could.

    5. Adam V

      Holy crap, that’s horrible. I’m shocked management hasn’t already been in your office asking if things are fixed now – that’s behavior I would never allow. You’re right, I wouldn’t hesitate to go back and say “she’s still telling people I’m horrible” and wait for them to sit her down and tell her to “knock it off”. (Seriously, they should use that phrase. I would want to be a fly on the wall when they do.)

    6. Delyssia

      That is awful. I’m sorry you had to go through that.

      I wouldn’t go back to management unless/until she said something directly to me. I wouldn’t want to go to management to report on the gossip about the situation I’m hearing from other people. I would also ask that people not tell me about whatever she’s saying. If anybody came to me and asked what they should do about it, I’d suggest that they talk to management themselves.

      1. Sospeso

        Yes, I agree! If others go to management with their concerns, they’ll get a much fuller picture of this employee’s outrageous behavior.

        Frankly, I am surprised there doesn’t seem to be anything else happening as a result of this person’s actions (although, it’s possible it’s going on behind the scenes and Anie just isn’t aware of it).

        So sorry this happened! I would have had trouble keeping my composure, too. But it sounds like your response was thoughtful.

      2. Snoskred

        Delyssia wrote : “If anybody came to me and asked what they should do about it, I’d suggest that they talk to management themselves.”

        This point is extremely important. Especially the person who was being treated badly – that person needs to speak up, ASAP.

        I worked in one place with a real bully. One night, a co-worker was on her break and eating a lasagne she had just heated up in the microwave. Our supervisor went off at her – for eating at her desk, for eating on her break, for the smell of the food.. It was so shocking and quite aggressive.

        I did speak up when it happened, once I could get a word in, and said “Stop. The way you are treating (name) is totally inappropriate, you need to go outside and calm down.” The supervisor was so shocked that I said anything, she actually did what I said. It turned out later that she’d been bullying this employee for a while, and nobody else had stood up to her when she did it. I don’t tolerate bullying of any kind and I do speak my mind.

        Said co-worker was in tears by the end of it, and she did not want to tell management what had happened. Not speaking up is why it kept happening to her, and I wasn’t about to allow that to continue. I personally went to management myself and reported it, as well as telling them everyone who was there to witness the incident and suggested they should speak to everyone re this because other staff were upset about what happened, *and* I privately said to everyone else there that they approach management themselves.

        That supervisor was demoted as a result, and she was never rostered on at the same time as that person ever again.

        I’m really sorry this happened to you. :(

      3. ExceptionToTheRule

        I’m going to disagree. I have a colleague who can a complete asshole to people (for lack of a better term) and he’s been getting away with demeaning & belittling people FOR YEARS because nobody ever goes right back to management. They shrug their shoulders and say “obviously there’s nothing they are willing to do” until it flares up again in a major way and management looks at you and goes “why didn’t you tell me?”

        Go talk to your manager again.

        1. LBK

          I think the point is that she shouldn’t go to management based on hearsay – if there’s a direct incident, that should definitely be reported, but right now it sounds like it’s just rumors that the coworker is still talking trash or other people reporting it to the OP. That’s not enough to go to management, because then it’s just he said/she said.

          1. Cordelia Naismith

            Yes. In that situation, if a coworker came to me and said “So-and-so is still saying how horrible you are,” I would ask that coworker to report it since she is the one who heard the comment. I wouldn’t report hearsay to management, just any incident I witnessed directly.

            1. Mints

              Right, I think this distinction is important: if Anie has any further confrontation, she should bring it up to management. But if coworkers are saying “Hey Anie, HorribleCoworker said XYZ about you,” she should encourage that person to go to management, if nothing else just to say “The bad mouthing made me uncomfortable.”

    7. HeyNonnyNonny

      That sounds awful! What a terrible coworker.

      I’m with everyone else, I think you need to go back to management. It’s clearly not resolved.

    8. Lizzy May

      I am so sorry this happened to you. She is way out of line and I don’t think there is anything wrong with following up with your supervisor about your concerns. Some of those comments she made would be fireable where I work and that she’s not willing to move on from the event and keeps talking about it is something I know my manager would want to know about. Keep to the facts and don’t editorialize but certainly say something.

    9. ZSD

      I’m so, so sorry that you’re going through this. And I’m sorry your management isn’t more supportive!
      I’m not sure what exactly you mean by “management,” though. I’m not sure if you share a supervisor with this woman, and you went to that immediate supervisor, or if you went to both your immediate supervisor and hers, or if you went to someone higher up.
      I think I would have gone to my immediate supervisor. I hope that your supervisor, at least, is being supportive in some way.
      But in general, I’m just really sorry. Obviously, you were in the right here, if that makes you feel any better. And I don’t think the crying at work is a big deal in this circumstance!

      1. Anie

        She works in a different department. My boss actually was nearby and heard the whole thing, but mostly stood there in shock. I didn’t go to the woman’s boss–I went to the highest level in the building. So my boss’s boss.

        And thank you.

        1. LizNYC

          Maybe you should go to your boss, who overheard the entire thing, to tell her/him what happened that day. It’s possible your boss thinks everything was resolved.

          And I’m sorry this happened to you. I’d be crying too–and then wanting to barricade my door from this looneybin.

          1. Afiendishthingy

            Seriously. That is so incredibly beyond unacceptable that I think she should have been fired on the spot . Do you know if upper management got statements from your boss or any other witnesses, if there were any?

            I think I’m with the “don’t complain to mgmt based on hearsay” camp, but I would definitely go to them if she confronts you or you actually witness her complaining about you. I’m so sorry and I hope she is gone soon!!

    10. BethRA

      Wow. Just wow.

      I am so sorry that happened to you, and so wicked impressed you managed to remain professional for as long as you did in that situation!

      Those women were out of line from the jump having a loud argument in such a public area. It’s just rude and disruptive. And then to pile it on with her reactions? Dang. IMO, at the very least the management should have sent her home for the day.

      If she’s still trashing you, yeah, i would go to the bosses. It might help to frame the discussion as “how should I handle this” to start, but she is way out of line, and given her previous reaction to you, it’s not reasonable to expect you to address her directly again yourself.

    11. Ann Furthermore

      OMG, that is terrible! I think you handled it the best way you could. It sounds like she’s trying to deflect her bad behavior by trying to make you look bad. But she was totally out of line speaking to you that way, fighting with someone out in the middle of the office, and using profanity. I’m no prude about foul language, but I rarely use it in the workplace.

      I think you should make one last-ditch effort to resolve it with her directly, but do it via email so you have it documented. Say something like, “Jane, I’ve heard from several people that you’ve been discussing what happened between us the other day with them. My understanding after our meeting with [Manager] was that the matter was considered closed, and we could put it behind us. What about this incident do you still feel is unresolved? I’d be happy to sit down with [Manager] again and talk though anything else.” This lets her know that you’re aware of what’s going on, but doesn’t veer into finger pointing territory — don’t even address the fact that she’s trash talking you to other people. She should be able to infer that.

      You may very well get inundated with vitriol, and if you’re lucky she’ll do it in an email. If she responds the way you think she will, then you can go to your manager again and say that you again tried to resolve the problem yourself, but she was very hostile and not receptive at all.

      And I’m sorry you’re going through that. How awful.

      1. Anie

        I love this. This is perfect. Your phrasing is impeccable. I’m not sure I will do this, if only because she might infer that I’m threatening her. The man I went to about the issue ended the meeting with the caveat that I continued to feel comfortable working with someone with actions like hers. If not, she’ll likely be transferred.

        1. BritCred

          Sorry, she’s overstepping her bounds and especially with that caveat I would go to that level. Otherwise this will likely just fester for a while before blowing up again and becoming worse.

        2. Snoskred

          Anie – Me personally, I would not go the email route on this occasion, I think that could come back to bite you in the rear even if it were perfectly worded.

          I think another trip to the man you went to is the better option, and I would do it as soon as possible. :)

          1. LizNYC

            Depending on what state you’re in, you could confront her in person with the language above and have your phone recording the interaction completely legally. You know, for when she decides to curse your firstborn.

          2. TeapotCounsel

            And yet again, I agree with Snoskred. No email to cray cray lady. Go to management instead.

        3. Connie-Lynne

          I had something like this happen once, a coworker flew at me and lost it, obviously being physically threatening in front of another coworker. I also cried when speaking to management, and I am not a crier. The coworker was let go within the hour.

          I am sorry your management team has not taken similar steps. I understand being frightened about whatever action she might take if she feels threatened, but this is the only step that’s likely to get her moved (!) or dismissed. Maybe there’s a particular time of day you can send it that makes you feel more secure, like in the morning so that you’re unlikely to be alone or walking to your car when she gets it, at night so that you can send it and leave, or maybe ask a coworker to “buddy” with you for the next day or two after you send it?

          The only other thing you can do is, as others have said, request that instead of telling _you_ about her trash-talking, ask them to email management.

          1. Not So NewReader

            Yeah, I feel that OP’s boss did not do enough. To allow this other person to rant on and on for an hour is a situation totally out of control.
            I had a subordinate get going on me one time. We went to a third party for discussion. (Silly me, I thought it would help.) Forty five minutes into the conversation I was STILL explaining my actions. It was the same explanation over and over for forty five minutes. At the forty five minute mark I ended the conversation. I realized my mistake. That was a conversation that should not have taken more than twenty minutes. There was nothing to be gained after that point in the conversation.
            However, the point is that a person who is this enraged is not ready to have any conversations. She should have been told to gain composure before meeting with you. If she could not regain composure other steps should have been used that did not involve you.

        4. Observer

          Even with that caveat, there is no hint of threat in that note. If she infers a threat that’s on her.

          But, if you really thinks she’s that unstable, then you need to go back up the food chain and tell the boss that she’s still trashing you and that at this point you are really concerned that you can’t even ask her what’s up. Keep YOUR manager in the loop – perhaps even specifically ask for her backing. It’s one thing to not have done anything in the moment. But at this point, it’s her job to go to bat for you.

    12. TheLazyB

      The fact she repeated everything with management present…. wow. At least no one can accuse you of exaggerating, I suppose :-/

      I know this is no help to you, but my last job was public sector in the UK where it’s hard to get fired, but I’m pretty sure that if someone had done this they would be on a final warning and any repetition would involve them actually getting fired. So, yeah.

      No one should have to deal with that. Kudos for dealing with it so well.

      1. Laurel Gray

        Yeah – I don’t know how management let her sit there and repeat all that in front of the person who she obviously hurt without saying anything.

        Anie, I am so sorry this happened to you. If I was in eye view or ear shot of this whole altercation I would have stepped in, I absolutely loathe people like this coworker and what she did borders on bullying. I can’t just sit there and say nothing and be associated as someone who thinks this is okay or is comfortable with this happening in the work environment.

    13. The Strand

      I’m so sorry, it sounds like such a terrible place you’re working at. She physically threatened you? This is much more serious than a “sit down talk” where ostensibly you’re both at fault. She sounds like a negative, caustic person who is a liability issue for the company.

      If you don’t get an inkling that this behavior is being monitored and paper trailed, with a goal to getting her out of your company, I would start doing a paper trail yourself. Also update your resume and probably change your routines.

    14. yup

      Sorry you went through this. You’ll recover from the trauma over time. Take care of yourself and forgive them

    15. brightstar

      I’m so sorry you had to deal with that. Like others, I find the entire situation shocking.

    16. Lionness

      I am not one to usually recommend going to management over “office talk” but I think you need to do so, here. This is so unbelievably serious on so many levels. I can’t even fathom how someone could think that they could maintain employment after acting like that.

      Go back to your management team. Tell them this is continuing. And be honest about whether or not you feel comfortable continuing to work with this cow.

    17. Not So NewReader

      You could go back to management and/or ask the people who are telling you about the ongoing rants to go to management. If you have witnessed it yourself be sure to include that when you go back to the boss.

      I have worked with people who have these types of behaviors and I can say it does not go away.
      If you are holding back because you are afraid of costing her the job she has, stop thinking along that line, please. No one can work in an environment this tense. In the process of trying to help her keep her job, you will end up forfeiting yours. This because you will find yourself having to quit because of the stress. Don’t start down this road. Apparently, they will transfer her? Maybe that needs to happen.

      I am wondering what happened to the person she was fighting with. Did anyone speak with her?

      I know you did not ask this question, but in the future when you decide to break up a fight at work, take a second person with you. Don’t do it alone. You will be the witness for the second person as much as the second person will be a witness for you. Hopefully, this is an absolutely useless piece of information because you will never encounter this type of thing again.

      1. Windchime

        I didn’t get the feeling that Anie was trying to break up a fight; rather, she was pulled into it because they came to her office door to have the fight! The correct response from the fighters should have been, “Ooops, so sorry, we’ll move/close the door/be more quiet.” “Mind your f’ing business” is seldom a work-appropriate response, especially if you are saying it while standing in the business-minder’s office doorway.

        I would probably say something to management again, honestly. It seems that this back-biting and telling others how awful you are could be interpreted as bullying. It’s just not to your face.

    18. Clever Name

      So based on this, and other stories you’ve shared, your workplace sounds incredibly toxic. You may not see it that way, seeing as you are in the thick of things, but to an outside observer, it looks toxic. I really really hope you are looking for other jobs. You do not deserve to be treated this way. Nobody deserves to be treated this way. Hang in there. You seem really lovely, and I hate to see you (or anyone, really) being treated like this.

    19. Anon for today

      I am sorry that you had to go through this :(
      Good for you for going to management. We have a bully at my office and most people just say things like: “Oh! That is just his personality! He talks like that to everyone! Oh! well…just let it go and do your job!
      Well, I said no! this has to stop! I was not going to take it anymore! So I went to my boss and he recommended that I go to HR. I spoke with HR about the bully! And my boss spoke with the bully’s boss.
      The bully did not speak to me to about a month. Which is fine with me. And as time passed, we talk as needed for work related stuff. He is still a bully and others complain about him all day long!
      I wish my company would make more of an effort to take care of the “bully” the best way so that other employees can have a professional, safe and team oriented work environment.

  5. Cheddar2.0

    Since when are jeggings/leggings acceptable business casual wear? In place of pants, I mean. Probably 1/4 of the women in the building I work in wear leggings without a tunic shirt/skirt/dress over the top and it just seems a bit… too casual to me. We’re supposed to be business casual! It may be California, but still.

    1. Anie

      In California? I always feel the rules there are a little different. I think, too, is the overall office atmosphere. That’s just accepted more easily at some places than others.

      In the interest of full disclosure, I’m totally wearing leggings as pants today…but all the goods are covered with a long blouse. I still look more dressed up than the old jeans and t-shirts on my co-workers.

    2. Jennifer

      In California, you’re just lucky if people show up with all of their naughty bits covered and flip-flops on their feet, honestly.

      I do not like the leggings-as-pants thing either. Wear them like tights–also, who really wants their ass in spandex hanging out like that?

      1. Cheddar2.0

        Hahaha! True. Maybe it’s just my department, but even jeans will get you the side-eye here, unless it’s a day you have no meetings and will be hiding in your office all day.

        1. yup

          reminds me of the time when, without knowing it was faux-pax, I wore jean-shorts to work on casual friday!! “Bold” they said, haha. Well, it was 102 degrees out…

      2. Bea W

        I swear I have seen people where what look like tights as pants. Those are probably leggings I guess…leggings that aren’t 100% opaque when stretched over a butt.

    3. Allison

      If you didn’t specify business casual, I might’ve asked if you were at a tech startup in San Fran where nearly anything goes. I try not to judge clothing choices just because they’re outside the range of what I’d wear, but yes, for business casual, that’s definitely not appropriate. I’ve even heard that leggings as tights isn’t really professional either, but that might just be for super conservative offices.

      1. brightstar

        Most of the offices I’ve worked at that emphasized a more professional dress code also forbid leggings, even under skirts or dresses.

        Anytime, even outside the office, when I see someone wearing legging as pants I scream internally LEGGINGS ARE NOT PANTS. I never say anything to the person, though.

        1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)

          This is one of many things that I just don’t get. It’s like Comic Sans. Why do people feel so strongly about this? I don’t really care what other people wear, and I don’t really care what font they use.

          (Separate from the question of whether to wear/use either at work. Just generally.)

          1. Allison

            Yeah, I don’t really get it either. There are worse things than seeing someone in a tacky outfit, or seeing the outline of someone’s butt. Then again, I danced ballet for years, so I’m used to seeing people in skimpy, tight clothing. I live in the city, I only concern myself with someone else’s behavior when it’s actually inconsiderate.

            1. Windchime

              Agree. Pants, to me, are articles of clothing that have two connected cylinders (one for each leg), an opening at the bottom for your feet to come out, and enough fabric to cover your lower torso. Therefore, leggings are pants.

              That doesn’t mean that people should wear skin-tight leggings that are opaque enough that I can see your undies or your camel toe. (People do it, though). So….leggings are pants, but their not pants that this chubby middle-aged lady would be caught dead in.

          2. brightstar

            It’s just one of my pet peeves . I’ll admit it affects my life in no way.

            I also get annoyed if the cars parallel parked outside my building aren’t facing the same way.

            Those are just 2 of my quirks I guess.

          3. skyline

            I don’t personally care for the leggings as pants trend, and I understand why some folks have a poison eye for it. (I do to!) However, I’ve been trying to be more careful about how I express and when I express it, because some of the comments I see on the topic are way too much about policing women’s bodies than anything else.

            That said: not work appropriate. (I don’t mind them under anything that’s tunic or dress length, and have worn them under dresses when I had a position where more casual attire was fine.)

        2. Sarah in DC

          Wait, what’s the difference between leggings and tights if they are under a skirt? I totally understand and agree with not wearing them as pants, but if you are wearing a knee length dress, why does it matter?

          1. Beezus

            I don’t think it matters for knee length, but I think people wearing leggings tend toward shorter hemlines than they would wear barelegged, and I think that’s what a lot of dress codes that forbid leggings are trying to curb.

            I once stopped a woman at work to let her know that her dress was riding up on her leggings – it was just on one side and almost up to the hip, and from my vantage point it just looked like static cling riding it up, and I would want to know in her place. Turned out, nope, it was a tunic with an asymmetrical hemline, and it was supposed to look that way.

    4. nona

      Leggings aren’t pants. Jeggings… depends on whether they’re the dark-blue-leggings-with-orange-stitching kind or the extra-stretchy-but-still-jeans kind?

    5. The Strand

      Nope, not even in California.

      When I hear “leggings” I think of stirrup pants and the thicker fabrics that were popular in the 1980s and early 1990s; leggings today are more like tights with no feet.

        1. The Strand

          They were comfortable, but as for how they looked (especially with an oversized sweater or sweatshirt)… what were we thinking??

          I had reason to remember (and see) stirrup pants thanks to the previous AAM discussion about Units… Still can’t believe people wore those.

      1. Kelly L.

        I’ve noticed, actually, an uptick in pants-weight leggings recently, probably because so many people did start wearing them as pants. Nonetheless, it’s a casual look, and not for most workplaces. That said, if 1/4 of the women working there are wearing them, it’s likely OK there.

        1. Cheddar2.0

          My building has 20+ different labs/departments/divisions, but we’re all within the same umbrella organization so maybe it just depends on the culture in each. Honestly, I was kinda hoping people would say it’s fine so I could start wearing leggings, haha!

    6. Meh

      If they are getting work done and doing it well…who cares?! People need to stop focusing so much on what others wear and more on how they do. Do good work. Produce good work. Treat customers/co-workers well.

      1. The Strand

        I used to have that attitude in every situation. Then one day in college, here I am wearing a print T-shirt (groan) and knit pants at my summer job at Big Bank (so yes, I missed the “Great Moments in Professionalism” queue), when a Vice President dropped in. We were not a business casual workplace except on Saturday (again, Big Bank). I spent the day hiding in my cubicle and making sure no one could see me.

        I was not ashamed of what I was wearing (it was Friday, a dripping hot summer, I was the office “college kid”, and only then starting to build a wardrobe), but my big boss had become a mentor (still one of the best, and most caring, I ever had) and I realized it would potentially send the wrong message about her, not just me.

        That’s when I started thinking about clothing differently and how it sends a message. Wearing leggings in a business casual (rather than casual casual, such as a retail store, call center, or job where you haul equipment) environment says, “I care more about being comfortable, and trendy, than anything else.”

      2. Clever Name

        Honestly, very few people can get away with wearing whatever they want and not have it reflect on people’s perceptions of their ability to do their jobs. Those people are ninjas/rock stars/whatever, and can name their price to work wherever they want. The rest of us need to think about how we present ourselves to the world.

    7. LAI

      I’m in California and I’m wearing stretchy black pants that could potentially be mistaken for leggings – they have seams though, so by my definition, that makes them pants.

      1. Cheddar2.0

        Seams? I didn’t realize that made a difference… I have 2 pairs of what I would consider “leggings” and they both have seams! I guess I think about it more from the angle of “are these pants pretty much skin tight? Are they not denim? If yes, then leggings”

        1. Mpls

          +1 – leggings can still have seams. Tights usually just have seams at the toes (if they have them at all), but leggings, even made from stretchy fabric, still has to be sewn together (seams) in order to become body shaped.

          If you can pull them on without unbuttoning, then you have leggings.

          1. LQ

            I have straight up jeans (not tight jeans, loose bootcut ones) and trousers that can be pulled on without unbuttoning…they are not leggings….Who made this rule.

            1. Kelly L.

              Yeah, that rule doesn’t work. I used to have a pair of (amazing) pants that were dress pant material, wide leg, pretty loose, and elastic-waisted. They were completely opaque, not tight, and gave the impression of dress pants everywhere I wore them. Loosely fitted dress pants, but dress pants. They weren’t leggings.

              To me, leggingness is about how snug they are on your leg and having an elastic waist. So skinny jeans are skin-tight but don’t have an elastic waist, so they’re not leggings. Elastic-waisted wide-leg pants aren’t leggings, because they’re loose. I think you need both.

              1. Juli G.

                I used to have some like that from Express and I lost them and have never found a replacement pair. Where did you get yours?!?

        2. peanut butter kisses

          I used to wear a pair of leggings to work in the 90’s. I was a size 12 at the time and was having health problems with weight gain and loss so I went to the plus size department and got a size 3 x pair and they looked loose and comfortable and in my work environment – appropriate. They got me through the year until my health recovered. They just looked like loose knit pants.

    8. Sparrow

      I wear legging jeans all the time in the fall and winter tucked into boots. However, they are thicker, jean material. I also have Ponte knit pants that are like leggings in that they are fitted through the leg. In both cases, I always wear a top that covers my butt and crotch.

      I have actual leggings that I wear at home for lounging, but not to work. I have seen teenagers and women wearing leggings with a shorter top and I agree, it’s not always a work appropriate look.

    9. Snoskred

      I worked with a woman who wore leggins as pants, and she wore them until you could see right through them to her underwear *and* butt crack – and then instead of kneeling down at a desk, she would bend over with her legs totally straight and rest both her arms on the desk.

      Butt crack in the workplace is never a good thing, in my opinion. :)

        1. Mallory Janis Ian

          Exactly! My daughter and I have taken to giving one another the “butt report” upon returning from an outing — that’s how frequently we see unintentionally-uncovered butts out in public.

          Me: I saw three butts today.

          Daughter: I only saw one — but I saw one yesterday! Can I count it?

          That’s how bad it is around here.

      1. Jennifer

        This reminds me of my mom’s comments about her supervisor’s wearing a thong and how everyone can see it.

    10. Koko

      I don’t know that they’re business casual, but I know fewer and fewer workplaces with a business casual dress code these days. More and more people I know who don’t see clients/customers can wear whatever they want as long as it’s well-fitting, clean, and not obscene. I’ve actually noticed an increase in this as recent as the last few years. I frequently wear (thick) leggings and stretchy skinny jeans at work, but the only people who see me are my coworkers.

    11. Anna

      Under dresses or skirts I have no problem with. As actual pants, just no. I work with young adults who haven’t quite figured out what a dress code is and I see leggings as pants all the time. It makes me crazy. I wander around muttering it under my breath, “Leggings are not pants, leggings are not pants.” Although I did have to school a coworker once that while leggings are not appropriate as pants, it’s not the wearer’s responsibility that it might make the young men around “think things.”

    12. Clever Name

      I am really glad you said this. I feel like a catty beeyotch for thinking this, but our new admin, who has been here less than 2 weeks, wears stretch pants (or leggings for you young’ins). With a normal top. You can see her whole butt. I actually am currently wearing leggings now. However, I am wearing them with a sweater dress, and I didn’t go into the office today. Heck, I feel like I’m being daring when I wear skinny jeans with a long cardigan.

  6. Ali

    So I ended up getting fired on Monday. I returned from vacation on Sunday, went to work Monday morning and my boss promptly called me to a meeting when I tried to sign on, then disabled my access to e-mail and everything right away. I hadn’t had my phone on all night, and he left me two voice mails and texted me to get me into the meeting, which I felt was kind of harassing like. (I’ve never had to have my phone on 24/7 as part of my job.) I filed for unemployment immediately after getting off the call and sent in my paperwork for student loan deferment.

    I have to admit that even though I’m upset about being unemployed because everyone else I know has a job and I feel kind of worthless, I’m also relieved to be out of my toxic environment. No more constant scrutiny and being written up for every little error. No more frequently changing schedules or being tasked with the shifts no one else would do. No more being told I can’t grow within my company. (And I worked for a BIG company, so I was upset they would not find anything else for me to do.)

    I had a phone interview yesterday for a position that didn’t seem to be the right fit, and I’m still waiting to hear back from a company I interviewed with before my vacation. I really hope something works out soon, but I’m also considering trying another industry. (I want to break into the nonprofit sector.) We’ll see what happens…I just wish something good would occur!

    1. some1

      I have been there and I am so, so sorry. Please don’t feel worthless because it’s happened to almost everyone. I know there was a thread awhile back where people shared horrible firing stories that felt really cathartic to me, because so many commenters one here that I like, respect and know to be professional and articulate had gone through it to.

    2. Adam V

      > (And I worked for a BIG company, so I was upset they would not find anything else for me to do.)

      Some years ago, I was let go from a big company right after Christmas, and I felt the exact same as you – you’ve got so many different development positions, you can’t find a group to put me into?

      Best of luck with the job search!

      1. Bea W

        When I got laid off I and also one of my friend as well who worked for an even bigger company, we were both told we could apply to internal positions, but it wasn’t any different than applying internally when not being laid off. It really would be a benefit to both the company and the employee if companies would be more pro-active about trying to place at least some of those RIFs into unfilled positions.

    3. Chorizo

      I got fired from a job in which I knew I wasn’t performing up to my manager’s expectations. I was upset when it happened. The next day, I felt like a huge weight had been lifted from my shoulders. Got everything crossed for you!!

      1. Ali

        That’s what happened to me! My boss just said “You haven’t improved to our standards, and we’re letting you go.” Towards the end, I felt like the only standard they would accept was perfection. In my final warning, he even wrote how he “will not tolerate” anymore mistakes from me, even though he admitted that other colleagues made them too. Yeesh.

        1. Not So NewReader

          You boss does not know a lot about management. I hope that thought gives you an ounce of comfort as you picture him struggling on and you are about to launch a fresh chapter in your life with a fresh slate. And he is… well, stuck in the same crappy place.

    4. Minding your biscuits...

      I’ve been in your situation and it’s a weird feeling – you’re relieved to be out of there but still feel bad about not having a job. Just know that you will land on your feet – and probably with a better job than you had before! :)

      Several years ago I was fired from a truly dysfunctional workplace. My manager was really unethical and I have reason to believe that she blamed me for things that happened that *she* actually did. This workplace was having an effect on my health, and not a good one. I had been job hunting for a few months prior before being let go, and I ended up starting a new position within three weeks – AND I got a 15% raise!

      Keep your chin up, work towards trying to find a BETTER position, and when you’re ready – reflect on what you would have done differently in your old role (if anything). It took me a very long time to get “over” being fired but I’ve realized in my (older) age that I would have handled a few things differently.

    5. Allison

      I’ve been there too! I was fired from my first job around this time last year, and while I felt like a failure for getting fired, I was also relieved when I realized I no longer had to go back there and deal with those people anymore! I’d been feeling sense of dread on my way to that job every morning. Something better will come along!

      1. Ali

        So much this. I was on vacation last week, and on my last day, I was in tears when I realized I had to go back to work.

        I also forgot to mention that my company isn’t paying out any of my remaining vacation time. They decided to “call it even” on the days I had taken to date. That’s extra income I really could’ve used, so that’s tough.

        1. fposte

          A lot of places don’t, but some are required to. Is it company policy to pay out? Are you in a state where it counts as compensation?

        2. Nerdling

          That may not be legal, depending on whether you had already earned the time. You might want to check with a lawyer on that one.

          1. Not So NewReader

            You could even ask at the unemployment office. If you see the eye roll then you will know that you are not the first person they have done this to. Never underestimate the folks at the unemployment office they know all about what is going on in various businesses. They know who has a good rep and who does not.

        3. TeapotCounsel

          Another vote with checking on lawyer. It may not be legal for them to keep your accrued vacation time.

    6. Retail Lifer

      Been there, although is was a far less toxic environment than I am in now. Honestly, since I can’t seem to find a new job, I almost wouldn’t mind getting fired just to get out of here. Almost.

      Good luck, and at least you’re out of there!

    7. Elizabeth West

      Good luck with the job hunt. I’m glad you are out of the toxic workplace. I felt the same way when I got laid off–ugh, I have no job and I suck, but I was actually relieved to finally escape the madness.

    8. Tris Prior

      Really sorry to hear that, Ali – but I know you’ve been struggling with this place for a while and that it’s been a very toxic place. I hope you find something that is worlds better!

    9. Carrie in Scotland

      While I’m sorry to hear this Ali, I think it will lead to better things for you in the end and then this job/workplace will be like a bad dream.

      Keep your head up and be kind to yourself.

    10. Sunflower

      I’m so sorry. I know it’s been tough there for you for a while. Hoping you find something good soon.

    11. Golden Yeti

      Hi, Ali. Just wanted to say I’m sorry things have broken down to that extent. I am happy, though, that you are able to finally move on completely. Best of wishes for better and brighter days!

    12. Helen of What

      I’m sorry that you’re unemployed, but hopefully you’ll find a better job soon! I was fired in February from a painful job. The worst part of it after the initial indignity was working out how to explain it in interviews. I want to tell them how the awfulness of my company drained my enthusiasm and made it easier to be overwhelmed and burnt out…but of course, I just have to take the hit of saying why I was let go and risk them thinking I can’t handle a fast paced environment (so not true!)
      But hey, I’m not in the poorhouse yet and I now know a lot more about the warning signs of bad management! (There were red flags from the interview which I ignored, ugh!) I bet you’ll also have an easier time heeding those red flags.

    13. Not So NewReader

      I’m sorry but I am relieved for you, all in the same stroke. I hope that makes sense. You had a boss that thought that your failure implied he was successful. And that is so distorted, I can’t even begin to comprehend that, but there it is. New Nice Boss is right around the corner, keep believing that.

    14. Jean

      Carrie in Scotland: “Keep your head up and be kind to yourself.”
      +1. Actually, +a lot more than one.
      Being forced to part with a toxic workplace is a blessing. It may not even be a blessing in disguise!
      Good wishes to you as you move forward from this unhappy situation to something better. Take care of yourself along the way.

    15. Lady Bug

      I was fired from an extremely disfunctional workplace in November. I definitely felt worthless and had a few crying spells. It took me 4 months to find a job, but I ended up at a much more functional place, with a 25% higher salary, doing what I really wanted to do. I probably applied to close to 70 jobs and only had six interviews, 4 of which were clearly a bad fit, so don’t get discouraged. My husband kept saying it only takes one good one! I couldn’t be happier now. And I learned from my ex coworkers that in January paychecks started arriving late and bouncing! So, even though it sounds like total cliché bs, everything happens for a reason.

  7. Pizza Lover

    Happy Friday! I’d love to get some feedback from the AAM community on how best to deal with tension between coworkers.

    My boss (the Director) and our new hire (Deputy Director) do not get along at all. The relationship started off fine but became patchy very early on due to miscommunication and misunderstanding on both parts. They’ve sat down and talked about their issues at least 3 times, but it seems to me like it really comes down to totally different working styles and neither of them being able (or truly willing) to adapt much. While the new hire is a lovely lady, it’s pretty clear to me that she was not the right choice, since you also have to hire for culture as well. At this point they have come to a hesitant truce, but there is so much tension. My boss and I have generally had a great working relationship, but now the dynamics have totally changed because the Deputy expressed to my boss that she was feeling like the third wheel. So whenever I joke around with my boss now, I feel like I’m committing adultery or something because it’s now only in her office quietly or via email, it’s so bizarre…

    I’m rambling, but I guess I would like some insight on how best to deal with this situation. We share a very small space (my desk is literally a step away from the new hire’s) and so I don’t want things to become awkward between us. To make things even more uncomfortable for me, she is about forty years my senior, a very sweet lady, and appears to be very sensitive (for example, she reads so much into email tone that she gets offended, thinking that person has a problem with her when no, they were probably shooting off a quick email from their phone or something). I’d love to just keep my head down, and that’s pretty much what I’ve been doing, but it’s impossible to ignore the tension in the entire office, especially since with only 3 employees there are very few distractions. Any other suggestions?

    To give some background, I am a coordinator in a 3 person office. My role is administrative mixed with managerial duties. I’ve been here the longest and our office is more lateral than hierarchal, but technically I’m the low man on the totem pole. I am also the youngest employee.

    1. Adam V

      I’d do what you’re doing – keep your head down and stay out of it. If you’re explicitly pulled in and asked for your opinion, try to stay objective, but if it keeps happening, I don’t know that I wouldn’t go to your boss sometime and say “boss, I know we need a deputy director, but I really don’t know that Sally is working out – you two always seem to be arguing about something – and it might be better to let her go, re-open the search and pay more attention to getting the right culture fit next time”.

    2. ac

      I have a somewhat similar situation — I was hired by and primarily work for Sr. Boss, and a few years ago Jr. Boss (who has the same title but is more junior and has less power than Sr. Boss — but more experience & power than me) was hired into our office. The venn diagram of working styles between Jr. and Sr. Boss barely overlap — I’m not sure you could hire two people with different working styles if you tried. The plan for Jr. Boss to taken on work with Sr. Boss has just not gone anywhere because of this disconnect, but our work is such that Jr. Boss primarily works with others in our company so he’s been pretty successful anyway.

      For me, I try to keep out of it and make things a little easier/more comfortable when the opportunity presents. E.g., I mention “Jr. Boss and I were talking about how we should do ___” in a meeting with Sr. Boss since I know the two literally do not talk to each other. It’s a weird and uncomfortable situation at times, and I just pretend that it isn’t as much as I can.

      1. Pizza Lover

        This is pretty much how I feel, except they are not at the point yet of not talking. I have to “translate” a lot of the correspondence between them. Either they are really short with each other or overly nice. If it wasn’t so awkward it might be kind of entertaining!

    3. Not So NewReader

      I think we all have to change a little bit at least to adapt to a new job. Don’t put yourself in the middle of it, but if she asks your opinion or asks you to explain something the do so. Explain in a manner that if your explanation was repeated to the boss, the boss would be proud of how you handled it.
      What I am picking up on here is the sensitivity issues. Role-model a balanced perspective. It sounds like you have a pretty good handle on things so this should be almost natural for you.
      For example: If she comments on a email that seems to short, then say something like, “oh you will see a lot of that here. People are always hurrying. The most important part is that they acknowledge you when you talk to them, which a short email is an acknowledgement.” If you can, expand that explanation out as to what she will be doing, “As you go along, you will get busier and busier too, so you will also be sending those short emails, too.”

  8. Minding your biscuits...

    I interviewed for an internal position about a month ago – let’s call it a Senior Teapot Maker position. At the time, I was very excited about the position, as well as the person I would be reporting to.

    Since interviewing, I found out that someone else will indeed be leading this team (Teapot Leader). They are hiring for this position currently. I believe that they are trying to fill this open Leader position first, and then hire the Senior Teapot Maker.

    If I am hired, I would like to meet with the Teapot Leader before deciding to accept the position. It’s very important for me to have a similar outlook/management styles with my leader and make sure that we sync up on the important issues. The department that these roles are in is essentially being rebuilt because of lots of issues/dysfunction so having a leader that I align with is even more important. Would it be reasonable to request to meet with the Teapot Leader before making a decision?

    1. Adam V

      Yes, that makes sense to me. Honestly, I’d be surprised if the new Teapot Leader didn’t want to weigh in on the new Senior Teapot Maker opening anyway.

    2. sittingduck

      I think its a reasonable request – as long as the timeline works out.

      If they are hiring for both positions right now, and come to you with an offer, but haven’t chosen a new Leader yet, what are you going to do? You could ask to make your decision after they hire the leader, but depending on how long that takes, it could be a long wait, and they may not want to wait to fill your position that long.

      So I would just be prepared for them to say that you can’t meet the leader, because they haven’t chosen one yet.

    3. Jazzy Red

      I think it’s absolutely reasonable to do so.

      At my former place of employment, I was interviewed by the guy who would be my manager, his boss, and the big boss of the division. I liked the guy I would be working for, so I took the job. When I reported for work, I found that they had transferred him and hired a new guy, who would be my boss. I never did care much for him, and when he left 2 years later, the first guy came back to that job. I felt like they did a bait-and-switch with me, but eventually I came to realize that all the management at this company was completely clueless about running a business.

      It’s a big deal to “click” with your boss. Your work life is just so much better when that happens.

  9. Ann Furthermore

    Just venting today. I asked to take a training class to learn how to use a tool that I’ll be implementing later in the year. I’ve never used it, or anything like it before. I found a class but it’s very expensive. But there’s an option to take it virtually, or locally in a few months so at least there would be no travel costs.

    Request denied. Not my boss’s fault, the training budget for this year is laughable, and our parent company keeps slashing further, making everyone give back money, which is leading to projects being cut or put on hold. My boss said that they were exploring having someone from one of the India locations come here to train a few of us on the tool, and it is someone who knows both the front end (my focus) and the technical side, which others will need to know.

    So yeah, they’re trying to come up with alternative solutions, which is better than nothing. But this is just so aggravating. Parent company, how do you expect us to support your multi-billion dollar business if you won’t cough up any money for us to maintain the infrastructure?

    1. OfficePrincess

      Wait. I get that the training budget is tiny, but I’m not seeing how taking a virtual training with no travel is cheaper than flying someone in from India and paying for hotel, meals, etc. I can definitely see why this would be aggravating!

        1. Ann Furthermore

          Yep, there are 2 of us that really need training. The first is me, who will be implementing from the front end of the application, and a developer, who will be building the data repositories and so on. Evidently the resource in India knows both sides of things, so he can train us both.

          But OfficePrincess is right — for both my co-worker and me to take training classes would be a minimum of $10,000. Bringing someone here from India would probably cost about that same amount. But that money would probably come out of a different bucket in the budget where there’s more money (i.e. flexibility). It’s a stupid shell game. But the person from India could also work on things with others in the office while he’s here, maybe it’s the best use of funds in the long run.

  10. Sunflower

    For long distance job hunters- do you prefer to put a local address on your resume or write ‘relocating to city in X month’. I’ve been writing ‘relocating’ and it hasn’t got me anywhere. At what point do you fess up that you actually don’t live there and don’t have a place to live yet and how do you acknowledge it to the interviewer? I only live about 1.5 hours away so getting there for an interview on short notice isn’t too difficult

    1. Christian Troy

      I do not write relocation to x city or use a local address. I mention at the end of the cover letter that I do not require relocation assistance but draw anymore attention to it. If you live an hour and a half away, I don’t see why it would be a huge deal breaker but I also think it depends on your competition and field.

        1. Christian Troy

          Oh you know, just cruising Ask a Manager to improve McNamara/Troy operations… ;)

      1. Anonymous Educator

        I’ve never done that, but it sounds good!

        In the past, when I’ve done cross-country job searches, I’ve put my current address and then just mentioned in the cover letter that I’m moving, when, and why.

      2. Ask a Manager Post author

        The potential downside of that is that if they just skim your cover letter, they may miss it. Or they may read your resume first (I do that a lot), see you’re not local, and move on.

        Also, resumes often get passed around when cover letters don’t, so you want it on there in case they’re separated.

      3. Christian Troy

        The issue I personally had with that was that people told me to contact them when I was done moving, like they weren’t going to start the interview process until I actually got there. It certainly depends on your situation, like if you plan on moving to New City because of your SO, but in my case I was applying to jobs that seemed like great opportunities in many different cities.

        Similar to the poster, I applied to some jobs at a city about two hours away but because they had a great university with a great grad program in my field, they had a great pool of local applicants.

    2. CrazyCatLady

      I had the most luck when I had a firm moving date. I started sending out my cover letter and resume (mentioning my move date in both – on the resume like Alison describes below) about 4 months before moving. I started getting far more responses around 6-8 weeks before moving, but it was a 2000 mile move, so you may have better luck sooner since you’re only 1.5 hours away.

    3. Kimberlee, Esq.

      Honestly, maybe it’s just because I’m in DC and a 1.5 hour commute on the daily is not unheard of, but I’d try out not mentioning it at all on a couple applications, just using your current address, and seeing what happens. If you know, in your context, that that would be crazy, then just ignore me, but it could be the you’re calling attention to a problem that, for at least some of your employers, isn’t a problem at all?

      1. Sunflower

        I very clearly live in a different metro area- I live in CC philly and I am looking in NYC. I know there are people who it can take that long to commute into NYC from north jersey so I almost wonder if I’d have more luck if I put an address in central NJ!

  11. Blue Anne

    Following on from sexist work atmosphere discussion from last week…

    It’s gotten worse this week. On Wednesday there were a LOT of bad comments. Eventually in the afternoon one of the guys said “You know what an advantage of being a woman is, you can get a load of time off work by having a baby.”

    I went full “WOW. WOW.” on him for that one and everyone laughed at him quite a bit. Also worked in a sarcastic comment about what a wonderful atmosphere this was to work in, with all the comments like this. It went down well, not hostile but I thought they got the message.

    It’s been a bit better since then, except that not ten minutes ago the manager made a “funny” comments about killing strippers. I immediately sent him a message on our inter-office communicator asking him if he could please not. He said he understands and apologised.

    I’m out of the office all next weekm but back on this assignment the week after. Let’s hope they’re starting to get the message…

    1. Blue Anne

      Oh! Actually, I have a question!

      One of the things that bugged me that I found out on Wednesday is that all the men in our department are arranging to have social activities together outside of work. It’s specifically a “guy’s drinks” – all the men in the department are invited, but the women are not invited. This weekend they are going to the races, about a dozen men. This is apparently the second time they’ve had a men-only outing together.

      I know there’s no way to control people’s social activities outside of work, and I wouldn’t want to, but… this bugs me. Am I being unreasonable? Is there any good way to address it?

      1. Christy

        You’re totally not being unreasonable. This is like taking employees golfing at the (all-white, all-male, all-Christian) country club. It’s not acceptable.

      2. Anie

        I always feel weird about things like that. On one hand, I probably don’t want to join, but on the other I’d like the option. It’s choosing not to participate versus being actively excluded.

        1. Blue Anne

          “It’s choosing not to participate versus being actively excluded.”

          This is EXACTLY the issue.

      3. HeyNonnyNonny

        Totally reasonable. You’re missing out on networking opportunities because of your gender. Definitely not OK.

        1. MT

          if the company isnt paying for it then, its up to them who they invite. And if everyone is peers, no management, then its fine as well.

          1. Koko

            That’s what I’d say too. If managers go, then it’s denying opportunities to women for face time with bosses. If it’s all a group of peers it’s just a social activity.

      4. Sunflower

        Is your company organizing or paying for this? If so, then yes definitely bring up with management that people are being left out of networking activities.

        If not…then there isn’t really anything you can do. People can chose who they want to spend time with outside of work. I mean, is there even networking or work related talk going on? If I went out with the ladies but not men in my dept, just to get drinks or hang out, I’d be pissed if someone complained to management about it.

        1. Blue Anne

          It’s not being paid for or organised by the company. So yeah, I’m leaning towards thinking there’s nothing I can do.

          But I’m annoyed because… It’s not a small department, and the guys organising know I know about it and answered my questions about it. There’s maybe 50 people in our department and it’s split pretty evenly gender-wise. So it’s not like if I asked a couple of my buddies who happened to be women… This invitation has been extended to about 25 people, but there’s not so much as I “we didn’t think you’d like the races but you’re welcome if you’d like!” when I found out. Because I’m a woman.

          1. Dynamic Beige

            OK, if someone walked into your office right now and said to any that could hear “Hey! Anyone interested in going to the races this weekend?” what would be your immediate reaction? Would this be something that you would want to do? Because if it is, and they’ve already answered your questions about it, there’s no harm in asking if you can come too. “Percival, when you were talking about going to see the trotters and pacers this weekend, do you think it would be OK if I came along? I’ve never been to a horse race and it might be fun”. Granted, you probably don’t want to go because they’re a bunch of sexist eejits and you get enough of that during the work week to not want more of that on your time off. And, they’ll probably use the time to complain about Work! Women! Political Correctness! or whatever gets them fully wound.

            But here’s the thing, if these are colleagues who are planning this as a social thing in their time off because they don’t have wives/children/families that they are accountable for, there’s nothing you can do about it. Birds of a feather and all that. Unless you want to start your own Stitch n’ Bitch club that none of the boys will want to go to and network just you girls on the weekend/week night. Yes, it sucks but there is nothing you can do. At OldJob, certain colleagues were in a band, a band that played at work functions. All those (male) colleagues did the “we’re all friends together” thing and it did help their careers but unless you played a mean slide guitar, others weren’t “in”. You think when you grow up that all the stupid cliqueishness of high school would end but it’s like that stuff is just training for adulthood — where being part of the “right” network/club/hobby group/executive meeting/whatever really counts. :(

          2. Sunflower

            Any chance you’re working with a group of men who believe in ‘reverse sexism’? I’ve noticed there are men who believe they are missing out on opportunities and being unfairly discriminated against because they are not allowed to be part of the women’s initiative program at their company.

            1. Blue Anne

              That is absolutely a possibility. The firm has set aggressive, public targets for increasing the percentage of women at the higher grades in the next few years, and there are persistent rumours that many of the ambitious men are looking to exit the firm as a result because they feel “men won’t get promoted here in the next 5 years”.

              1. Elizabeth West

                Sounds like that’s what they’re doing with the activities. They’re closing ranks.

                I hate working with dinosaurs. (Unless they were actual dinosaurs, mind you–but brontosaurus, not velociraptors!)

                1. Blue Anne

                  I would totally love to work with actual dinosaurs. That would make audit so much better.

                  Metaphorical dinosaurs are turning out to be a pain.

              2. Juli G.

                HATE those rumors. Yes, we have an aggressive strategy to increase female leaders but seriously… do you see a shortage of men around here? Did 2 not get promoted last month? Men are going to be okay.

        1. Blue Anne

          I’m not sure whether the boss is going. I’m trying to find out without being super obvious.

          1. Laurel Gray

            If the boss is involved, he is contributing the most to the low morale in the office among the women and may be a central part of the problem than the pigs you work with.

      5. Laurel Gray

        I’ve never worked with men who only want to socialize with male coworkers. Especially when they have an opportunity to get away for a few hours from their families and let their hair down. I’m even more surprised that at least one person in the group hasn’t asked about women or extended the invite to women. The men you work with sound like weirdo chauvinist losers. If these outings are not company paid, I would let it go.

        1. MT

          that is a harsh statement. There are lots of times, I would rather go out with male friends then with a mixed group.

          1. fposte

            But she’s talking about male co-workers, not men generally, and male co-workers who *always* go out in a single-sex group, not who feel like it sometimes.

            And preferences wouldn’t be enough to keep it from being non-discriminatory if it ended up being associated with advancement or other benefits. When it’s work related, the law matters more than individual tastes.

            1. MT

              if all of the men in the group are peers, and these outings have nothing to do with work. Then people should mind their own business who hangs out with who.

              1. Stephanie

                I don’t think it’s quite that simple. Inevitably, shop talk will come up. There’s a history of boys’ club outings like this being where at least informal networking happens, excluding others.

              2. Ask a Manager Post author

                But you’re looking at it in a vacuum. You can’t uncouple this from this historical context, whereby women were systemically excluded and harmed by not being include in male colleagues’ out-of-office socializing. It’s a well-documented issue that has had real ramifications on women’s careers.

                1. Dynamic Beige

                  Right — but what are you going to do? Run crying to the boss that it’s not fair that all the boys go out with each other and exclude all the girls? These are not corporate “taking a client out the strip club” or for golfing at the exclusive country club that doesn’t allow women players on the green sales jerk trips. These are a bunch of guys who — for whatever reason — want to hang out together. They could be collaborating on their own startup or LARPing or building battle bots or doing men’s choral singing and this “going to the races” is just cover. You can’t legislate other people’s social lives. Even if it sucks and it means you don’t get the same opportunities to network that they do. If this was actively being condoned or funded or pushed or joined by upper management as a good example of team building in off hours, then you might have some toehold into how it’s exclusionary. But a group of like-minded guys on the same level of the hierarchy who are all “Hey Bob, wanna go to the titty bar tonight? Sam, Brian, Earl, George and the rest of the gang are in.” isn’t something that you can change. They have to be willing to change that dynamic within themselves. And until they get girlfriends and wives, they aren’t likely to.

                2. MT

                  People who name call, “weirdo chauvinist losers” and “pigs” based on someone’s sex, may be a reason why people tend to socialize with people they have the most in common with.

                3. LBK

                  Wait, really? You think the chauvinism accusation is purely because they’re men and not because they’re clearly exhibit chauvinistic behavior?

                4. MT

                  what is chauvinistic behavior about guys wanting to hang out with guys. I dont see any women complaining when the girls have events. The term was thrown out becuase someone was upset this wasnt 2nd grade soccer and someone was left out.

                5. LBK

                  Also, Dynamic Beige, that is a shitty attitude, and I don’t know how else to say it. You’re basically saying women should just suck it up that they don’t get networking opportunities because there’s nothing they can do about it? How about the men stop being exclusionary? I’m hard pressed to believe there isn’t a single activity the team could do as a group that would interest people of multiple genders. Plenty of women like getting drinks after work, for example, and it sounds by Blue Anne’s description that that’s all this group is doing. You’re telling me that’s somehow an event that only “like-minded people” (who are coincidentally all male) can participate in?

                  Look, I’m not saying you can have your close group of friends at work that you hang out with more often than others. I certainly do – I have lunch with the same coworker every day and we don’t invite anyone else. But if you’re openly discussing a group activity in the office and there’s as clear a delineation along gender lines as there is here, you need to at least stop and think twice about whether that’s appropriate.

                  It’s also really gross to think that somehow men are only capable of being appreciative or inclusive of women unless they’re dating one. Just wrong on so many levels and frankly insulting to both genders.

                6. LBK

                  They specifically called it a guy’s night and did not invite women. If your friends are all coincidentally male, whatever, although I’m skeptical that that’s possible for anyone who isn’t categorically excluding women from their social life, unintentionally or otherwise. But deliberately inviting only the men in the office to an event that you’re clearly openly discussing while at work is blatantly exclusionary.

                7. Ask a Manager Post author

                  Well, one thing she could do is talk to someone in a position of power and say: “The firm has set aggressive, public targets for increasing the percentage of women at the higher grades in the next few years. Simultaneously, we still have a culture where my male colleagues routinely make sexist remarks around me and organize male-employee-only social events. If we’re serious about creating an equal playing field for women, those things need to be addressed too, not just hiring targets.”

                8. Dynamic Beige

                  LBK, I can’t reply to your comment directly, the “reply” thing isn’t there.

                  “You’re basically saying women should just suck it up that they don’t get networking opportunities because there’s nothing they can do about it? How about the men stop being exclusionary?”

                  OK, please provide a way to get people to do this. Seriously. You yourself say you have a work friend and you go to lunch with only each other. What if other people in your company resent that you and Jane are such fast friends and why do you only hang out with each other? Why don’t you go to the vegan fusion restaurant instead of Meaty McMeatersons, so that I, a vegan may eat with you? That is not fair and you are being exclusionary to people who don’t eat meat by repeatedly choosing only the restaurants that I as a vegan/celiac/kosher individual cannot patronise. How quickly would you resent being told where you could or could not eat every day (or with who) so that more people from your company could go along with you so that they, too, can network or interface or get more Face Time with you and your friend? Where you spend your lunch, and who you spend it with, is entirely your choice. Your friend is someone you get along with, you probably have similar interests — what if you both were avid knitters? Just choosing that as it’s something that most men are not usually interested in. What if you started a “learn to knit” club on a specific weeknight for yourself, your work friend, maybe you invite Penelope from accounting, or [these other women at your company] because they had all expressed at one point or another what an awesome knitter you are and they wished they could knit like you. Should the men in your company automatically get pissed off that you will be able to talk and network around this activity that they are not interested in? Even if you had permission to put up a sign-up sheet in the kitchen so that anyone who wanted to could go? Should they go to your boss or CEO and demand that you change your group into something that both sexes can do or would participate in?

                  Don’t get me wrong: it sucks that these dudes do this. They suck. They are obviously perpetuating stereotypes and doing a lot to not only skirt the edge of creating a hostile work environment but also to intentionally exclude those they do not like. But what can you do about it? If they are not willing to change, and nothing they are doing is illegal, then there is nothing that can be done. How many times has it been said here that just because it isn’t fair doesn’t mean it’s illegal?

                  I’m hard pressed to believe there isn’t a single activity the team could do as a group that would interest people of multiple genders. Plenty of women like getting drinks after work, for example, and it sounds by Blue Anne’s description that that’s all this group is doing. You’re telling me that’s somehow an event that only “like-minded people” (who are coincidentally all male) can participate in?

                  But don’t you think that if these guys were genuinely interested in something that both genders could do, they wouldn’t be doing it already? And, please remember that this isn’t a company-sponsored event. CEO hasn’t said that this is something *he* wants to do and then gone around to only the men in the company to invite them to his super-secret men’s drumming retreat. If these guys were interested in making it more inclusive, yes, they could have movie night, or board game night, or drinks night. But they’re not. And as someone who is not in management is arranging these for the people he likes to hang with — or thinks will advance his career — there would need to be someone higher up in the company who would have to sit this guy down and tell him to tone it down, that this company is not a social club and if he wants to arrange outings for his group of friends, then he should be doing it on his own time and being quieter about it as the optics of it are not good. But short of firing this guy, no one can tell him not to do it. Even if they did fire him, he could still do it, it’s his personal time.

                  It’s also really gross to think that somehow men are only capable of being appreciative or inclusive of women unless they’re dating one. Just wrong on so many levels and frankly insulting to both genders.

                  OK, fair enough, but we are not talking about all men. There has already been substantial evidence that *this specific group of men* are not interested in including the wimmenfolk, do not see anything wrong with not including them, and see nothing wrong with the comments they are making or the views they are espousing and are frequently repeating back to each other in their own echo chamber. So, how would you go about changing that? If these guys do not have a wife or girlfriend, the only time they have exposure to women is at work. If they do not have someone at home who will insist upon being treated like an equal, or that certain language or phrases aren’t used because they’re wrong/demeaning/hurtful, where are they going to pick it up? As much as it’s “gross” to you, I have seen guys who, once they get into a relationship, change because now they get it. Or after being shot down for the millionth time, they clue in that being a sexist dweeb isn’t going to get them what they want and decide to examine their attitudes because they don’t want to be single forever. You can send someone to Paging Dr. Nerdlove, but you cannot make him read it or open his mind if he’s determined to keep it shut. Even Dr. Nerdlove started out by embracing the PUA community… but was smart enough to not stay mired there.

                  If this company was genuinely committed to gender equality, there would be female executives/managers, an effective HR department, sensitivity training, zero tolerance on some of the comments that Blue Anne reports. But there doesn’t seem there is any of that. If management is so tone deaf that they don’t know they shouldn’t be attending an male only event arranged by one of their employees/direct reports, who is going to show them the evil of their ways? Who is going to stick around at that company long enough and put up with that crap, and document it to show that male bias by paying enough attention to see who gets the promotions or plum assignments to file a discrimination lawsuit? And then take all the flak for filing?

                  So, since I’ve apparently set you off, LBK, I am going to suggest the one thing that Blue Anne can do: start arranging an after work drinks event that is open to all comers (or other thing: ultimate frisbee, darts tournaments, pool). It could be once a week, or once a month. It could be at the same place all the time, or as a way to try out different places. If she can get it so that she is just one of a team of people (both male and female) who are doing this, so much the better because there are enough letters here from women complaining that they are solely responsible for birthdays/parties/making cookies/being social convener. But, then there are going to be people who grouse that they can’t go because they: don’t drink and drive/have a commute/have kids to pick up/other reason. It may not even be something that she has to arrange herself. There could be a Meetup or other thing in her community for people in her industry that already exists that they could all benefit from.

                9. Blue Anne

                  Alison – I think that’s exactly what I’m going to do. I’m on the gender steering committee for my office and we have a call next week. I’ll bring this up during AOB.

                  If nothing else, I’ve noticed that as the most junior member of that committee, I definitely see stuff happening “on the ground” that the senior folks assume isn’t a problem because no one would dare make those jokes around a partner. So even if nothing gets done, it might be a good idea to raise it.

              3. Blue Anne

                I’m also not even sure about the “peers” thing. I work in public accounting. My big worry would be if a partner is showing up to this stuff. But below that, I know for sure that people with seniority over me are going. One of the assistant managers is the one who confirmed this stuff for me when I asked.

                1. Stephanie

                  Oof. Are you at one of the Big 4 firms? I know a couple of people on here are alumni, so they could more accurately comment. From my understanding about a lot of professional services firms, your long-term success definitely depends on your ability to network into the right projects (that was the impression I got when I interviewed for a non-accounting role at one of the Big 4). So I could definitely see this being problematic.

                2. Koko

                  Yikes, that’s not good. If anyone who has any sort of sway over hiring, firing, promotions, raises, work assignments, etc. is attending then it’s discriminatory not to allow the women the same opportunity to network with those higher-ups.

                3. Blue Anne

                  Yep, Big 4. (You may be able to guess which from my username.) I’ve only been here 8 months but networking seems really, really big. I mean, I’m seriously considering taking up golf.

                4. PoorDecisions101

                  I find it interesting that some gender diverse industries may have more of these issues than heavily male dominated industries.

                  I’ve worked in mining all my life, often as the only non-admin female person, and I always got invited to after work drinks and get along well with most people.

                  I wonder if the men in more gender neutral work places feel more threatened since they can lump all women into one homogeneous stereotype rather than as individuals.

                5. Stephanie

                  Two are blue! Yeah, I interviewed at the blue and green one in advisory and they pretty much made it sound like I’d need to turn into a professional schmoozer past the first couple of rungs on the career ladder.

                6. Blue Anne

                  Ahh, I thought the blue and green one is trying to get people to call it the “green dot” these days. ;)

                  There’s actually a regular golf competition between the two blue firms in this city. Yep.

              4. Laurel Gray

                @MT…those were my statements. You call it harsh and now say I made them based on sex – I did not. I made my statements based on Blue Anne’s specific incidents with these men, which she has posted about before and my opinion stands.

                1. MT

                  it was a reply to the historical context. If i ever heard someone spout off name calling like that, i wouldnt want to do anyhting with them outside of work.

                2. Blue Anne

                  MT, is it possible you are suggesting that all the men in my department want to avoid hanging out with women because some women sometimes call men ‘pigs’?…

                3. MT

                  no, sometimes guys just like to hang out with guys. My behavior is different if I am out with guys, or out with a mixed group. A lot of men are the same way. If women heard some of the unfiltered language, more than likey the word pig would fly often.

                4. LBK

                  What kind of language are you talking about? Like if they heard you spouting sexist crap about women? Yeah, can’t imagine why they wouldn’t want to hang out with you then…

                5. CA Admin

                  @MT

                  Then go out with your male friends who aren’t coworkers. You’re allowed to do that. My husband and his buddies do it all the time. What you can’t (or shouldn’t) do is deliberately exclude coworkers from bonding experiences on the basis of their gender.

            2. Sunflower

              To be far, this is only the second outing they’ve had and we don’t know if they are only attending mens-only events. It’s entirely possible they often attend events with women as well.

              1. Colette

                But they’re deliberately excluding women from work events (I.e. Open only to people who work there, and presumably planned using work resources). I suspect the company lawyers would not approve.

                1. MT

                  why would the lawyers care. Planning a male only non work event, is not illegal. It would be hard to single out this one occurance where, salaried people spent time talking about non work events.

                2. Colette

                  I’m not sure the courts would see it as a non-work event. It’s only employees and planned using work resources, and they’re discriminating based on gender.

                3. Blue Anne

                  I honestly don’t see how it could be seen entirely as a non-work event. It’s organized on company time and using the company’s email, and involves only employees of my firm, including managers. Even if everyone’s paying their own way, that seems like a work event to me.

                4. thisisit

                  this reminds me of arguments about sexual harassment. if it happens off company property, say at a bar, the company could still be liable for it, so it isn’t as if there is a clear line between work and not-work.

                  so it isn’t just about a group of male coworkers hanging out, but the possibility of a systematic exclusion of the women in the office. if it involves management or partners, then it looks especially bad, because some people (women) are clearly being excluded.

          2. steve g

            I agree. The point of any equal rights movement is for people to get treated equally, and name calling isn’t going to help get rid of tension and create equality (if it isn’t there already). I had a different take, I’ve worked with two guys who turned into hot messes around any girl that was remotely goodlooking. If we went out with a mixed group, they usually found a reason not to go. It wasn’t a chauvinistic thing if they only invited guys to lunch.

            1. Blue Anne

              I agree that name-calling isn’t useful and I certainly wouldn’t do it in the workplace (or elsewhere, for that matter).

              However, I do want to point out that the reason I wouldn’t call my male co-workers names is that I respect them. When they don’t invite me to events because I’m a woman, tell me jokes about killing strippers, or frequently and openly judge the women they see (including women they work with) on their physical appearance and clothing, I do not feel – at all – that the respect is mutual. And those are just the things I’ve mentioned on this site.

              1. Steve G

                I’m surprised this is in an accounting firm, just noticed that. I was picturing a car repair shop or something with the comments made. I do think this is a problem in Accounting, especially because those firms have so many layers of management; it’s highly unlikely just one layer of employees will show up.

      6. brightstar

        I don’t think you’re being unreasonable.

        When I worked with all men every outside function that involved work (like company is taking us golfing) was for men only and I was forced to work solo while they got wined and dined. I was never very happy about that. It had started before my employment there and continued after, when they hired a girl to replace me and also left her out of group activities.

      7. Anx

        My coworkers organized girls nights in our mostly female workplace, which seems perfectly reasonable to me.
        If the men in our org did the same thing, that’s wouldn’t bother me at all, either.

        I think the type of industry you work in makes a huge difference here. I wouldn’t begrudge a group of guys having a boys night in our situation because there’s not a whole lot of ‘getting ahead’ here, they are a numerical minority, and we have our own girls nights.

      8. ali

        we do women’s dinners outside of work every few months – we also invite women who used to work with us that no longer do.

        completely outside of work, involving people not from work. for the most part, we even use our personal email addresses to arrange. no managers involved, either, since all the managers are men.

        so, in your opinion, would this also rub you the wrong way?

        1. Blue Anne

          No, that seems different to me, because it’s involving people from outside the workplace and isn’t arranged through work.

          Although I don’t think that there should be female-only events organized by workplaces either.

          1. CA Admin

            Also, women’s only events don’t come with the history of sexist baggage that men’s only events do. Men don’t have a history of being excluded from informal networking events, making it harder to get promotions. Women do. Reverse sexism is not a thing and these types of events don’t happen in a vacuum.

              1. CA Admin

                Hardly. Men and women don’t have comparable history and power gaps still exist between the sexes. Does it suck? Yes. Is it a reality? Yes.

                Talk to me when we’ve had parity for a few hundred years and power structures are set up as gender-blind.

      9. Mints

        I don’t have anything helpful to say, but yes, this is gross. The fact that it’s large scale and an evenly mixed group is what makes it gross. If it was one guy organizing some buddies, or if it was a bunch of people in an 80% male office, it’d be different. But this pretty clearly looks like men are deciding to do men only activities. Eugh

    2. Dynamic Beige

      I honestly don’t see how it could be seen entirely as a non-work event. It’s organized on company time and using the company’s email, and involves only employees of my firm, including managers. Even if everyone’s paying their own way, that seems like a work event to me.

      OK, on company time, using company resources I think that is something you can definitely take to HR. It’s been an “interesting” day for me, so I’ve missed half the comments. Since you are a big firm and not a medium-sized one as I originally suspected, there must be some form of HR department. If there are policies being put into effect to address equality issues in hiring and the men are reacting badly to it, that is a genuine concern., especially to you as someone who just started 8 months ago. If you have these concerns, other women in the company probably also have them, especially if there aren’t new conduct policies in place or they aren’t being enforced. The trick is going to be in figuring out how to go to HR and what language to use. They may be addressing their staffing, but do they have any procedures in place regarding this sort of thing? They may not, as it may not have been such an issue before, and that may be the way to address it.

      “[HR person], I was wondering what the policy is for using company resources to plan social events that are not company sponsored and I hope you can help me clear this up. If I were planning a birthday party for myself, I don’t think the company would approve of me using my company e-mail to send out the invitations, correct? Or spending office hours to speak with caterers, booking a venue, talking with my guests, right? Because if that’s the case, I’m confused. I’ve noticed that Parsifal spends a lot of time each week planning social events during business hours. Please do not think I am spying on him, he has not been discreet with the events he has been planning, I don’t think there’s anyone in our department who doesn’t know about them. I don’t know if planning social events is part of his job, though. If it is, then I don’t understand why only the men in the office are being invited or why these events aren’t publicly posted somewhere so that any employee may learn about them and attend. Also, the events aren’t something that have broad appeal, they seem to be very traditionally masculine things like cigar bars. I mean, I understand that what Parsifal does in his private life is his business… but I don’t think he would like it if I were planning dinner parties in the office, inviting only my bosses and he could hear everything about it, knowing he was being shut out of that. He might think that I was using that time outside the office to network to people in the company and to press an unfair advantage over him by developing social connections with my bosses. I’m not saying that’s what’s happening here, there could be some legitimate reason why Parsifal invited x# men only to attend the Indy races last month — perhaps there is a bonus programme I am unaware of and that was part of it? However, if that is not the case and it was a purely social outing, someone looking at that situation from outside the company might think there’s gender bias at work there, and that could damage our new gender equality initiative. If it was general knowledge in the industry that that kind of thing happens here, we might have trouble attracting/retaining the best talent. I know I have felt hurt/excluded from these things and I know that I can’t expect to be friends with everyone, this isn’t grade school. Maybe if I understood the context of how and why these events were being planned or executed, I would be able to see that I’m not being purposely excluded due to my gender, but some other performance issue? Maybe I could volunteer to be on the planning committee if it is some company perk I’m just not aware of?”

      If you’ve only been there a short period of time, would they take your concerns seriously? It may be that you need to reach out to a more senior woman in the company, or a male executive who is sympathetic (if you know of one) and speak with them first. Or maybe discuss it with other women in general (quietly) and see if they are also concerned enough to address it with you. I don’t know if there is an anonymous reporting system in place that you could use instead, if that would be respected or is considered a joke.

      Because another problem is: if reverse sexism is happening, then the one who reports this is not going to be thanked, they are going to be targeted for spoiling the fun and it’s going to become “blah blah blah effin’ feminists! We can’t do anything any more because all feminists suck.” [insert every horrible thing you’ve ever heard about feminists] Which is still not right and it’s not a reason to not fight this if you feel strongly enough about it. It would just be better if you didn’t fight it all by yourself.

  12. Lurky McLurk

    I might be slightly biased because I’m involved so do you think the message below could come across as rude (I didn’t write the email which is why I’m asking)? The only contact my organisation has with the organisation this was sent to is via email when they request additional information from us.

    “Hello

    Here are the requested details. Just to point out this isn’t really a 3rd chase since we replied to the original request on Stark & Rogers 5/3/15 and Fury, well, we did him back on 13/11/14.

    Unfortunately with the first 2 I can’t tell you anything more than we did then as they are AIM teapots. Now I realise why you keep sending AIM teapots to us, two teapot manufactures in the same building is bound to cause confusion but and this bears repeating with White chocolate teapots and Caramel teapots we really can’t do anything, literally nothing, so again please see below.

    Hope this helps

    Hydra Teapots
    (email signature) Please send all White chocolate teapot queries to Grant Ward and Caramel teapot queries to John Garrett at AIM teapots as they have taken over the production of these teapots. (end email signature)”

    1. HeyNonnyNonny

      If I’m really reading into it, I think part of the comments like ‘literally nothing’ and ‘it bears repeating’ could come across as odd or rude. Anything that strays from ‘Sorry, this is not our department, please contact the appropriate departments’ I think has the potential to be taken the wrong way.

      1. Lurky McLurk

        Yeah it was the bits like that I was concerned about, especially as this has been an ongoing issue for a while and AIM teapots are fed up they can’t get the info they need.

      2. Sadsack

        Yeah, but to me that sounds like they have already expressed this several times and here they are having to do it again. I think they are putting it in the nicest way possible.

      3. jag

        I don’t think “literally” is rude, but it’s an odd word to use in a a business communication. “Nothing” is “nothing” – there is no need to add “literally” to make it firmer.

        “Bears repeating” might seem rude, but it’s essential – it’s pointing out that the recipient ignored the previous notes, which is pertinent. So they get this back that them.

    2. Adam V

      (I wouldn’t count on Grant Ward or John Garrett for anything, which is why they’re sending the queries to you. Am I right?) :)

      1. TotesMaGoats

        Yeah. I’m with you there. They’d be better off reaching out to Coulson or May, really, if they want something done now.

        1. LBK

          Who even knows with Coulson though – he might secretly be building a teapot factory across the globe.

    3. Cristina in England

      I don’t think it is rude, but if that is truly their first contact with you, it makes no sense, unless there was an initial query on your org’s end, but from what you’ve said it sounds like that is not the case?
      If your company and this one have never exchanged email before, then it’s spam, or it went to the wrong person by mistake.

      1. Lurky McLurk

        We have exchanged emails before and had already said we couldn’t supply the info as it was nothing to do with us. I suspect they didn’t get a response from anyone else so tried us again.

    4. thisisit

      it’s hard to know if it’s rude because it’s like walking into the middle of the conversation. depends on the tone of other emails? but more punctuation might be nicer. :)

      1. Lurky McLurk

        The other emails go something like this:

        Them: Dear Collegue please can you fill in the information missing from the attached spreadsheet and return it within 3 days.

        Us: We have looked at these teapots jobs and they are not being manufatured by our company. Please contact AIM as they now make these teapots.

        Them: (several months later) Third Chase, we need this information ASAP, please supply it or we will be forced to escalate the issue.

        Us: Responded as above

        Most of the emails between us are short and are basically us emailing a spreadsheet back witht the missing info

        1. thisisit

          it sounds to me like someone who is getting frustrated with being confused for someone else. fair enough. but it might have just been easier to say – “you keep getting us confused with AIM. we are not AIM. please contact AIM @ XXXX to resolve your issue”. end of story.

          1. Mints

            Oooh this explanation makes so much more sense. I don’t think the original email is rude, but it’s confusing. And the “not third chase” bit is unnecessary to me, because since they’re asking the wrong people, why would you care how many times they ask? I wouldn’t nitpick that part of their emails. If anything: “For the third time, we are not AIM. Please contact AIM —–“

            1. thisisit

              that could work, though i would be worried about getting sucked in deeper. if however, there could be any reason you could be considered partly responsible for the resolution of the issue, the phone call might not be a bad idea.

              1. Not So NewReader

                I guess you kind of have to decide the phone call is to stop the activity for once and for all. Almost like a mini-intervention, where you are going to do what it takes to get your points across.

                This does not have to be horrible. What I have done in some instances is ask a series of questions that lead the person to conclude on their own, “whoops, I have the wrong person.”

    5. matcha123

      It depends on what relationship the sender has with the recipients.

      If they know each other and get along well, it seems fine to me.
      On the other hand, “Here are the…” sounds abrupt and “Just to point out” also sounds kind of rude. Casual words like “well” or colloquialisms like “…can’t do anything, literally nothing” also sound rude or just snarky.

      Again, it all depends on the relationships between the two parties.

      1. Lurky McLurk

        It’s basically nameless person one emailing nameless person two from generic email accounts so it’s not as though it’s two people who regularly exchange emails, the emails could be sent by a different person every day of the week.

        1. matcha123

          If I were on the receiving end of such an email (the original one you posted), I’d feel turned off by the tone. And if the number of people who are also turned off is significant, it might be worth figuring out a way to convey that to those on the sending end.

          1. Lurky McLurk

            Yeah the tone didn’t seem “formal” enough for the situation, if it was two people who knew each other well the tone wouldn’t feel as off as it does.
            And no ones said anything about it so I’ll probably write it off as one of those things.

    6. Kelly White

      I don’t think its rude- it reads to me as though the wrong division/company keeps getting asked for info about the other division/company.
      I think it shows that they are trying to forward the info to the appropriate person, but the original requester should be requesting it from the correct person, and may not realize that they are not.

    7. Artemesia

      I understand this as someone is repeatedly asking for information about something you don’t manufacture e.g. they have Apple computers and are emailing service at Hewlett Packard (and good luck to them).

      If this is so then all the verbage is unnecessary and confusing. Just say “We are getting repeated requests for information on the Mach 6 Carmel Teapot but since this is not our product but a product of Acme Teapots, we can do nothing for you. PLease direct your queries to Acme at XXX 434 5456.” Or whatever.

      Or did I miss the point?

      1. Lurky McLurk

        Nope that’s the point it’s too waffle-y, twice as long as it needs to be and as LAI pointed out not that tactful.

    8. LAI

      I wouldn’t call it rude necessarily, but it’s certainly less tactful than it could be. I think that a frustrated and annoyed tone is definitely coming through and I’m not sure if that’s what the writer intended. Also, I agree with other posters that it’s not very well written and could use some more punctuation.

      1. Lurky McLurk

        That’s it, that what was bugging me, didn’t seem that tactful (and it’s badly written)

    9. Beezus

      What’s your company’s relationship to AIM?

      If you’re getting negative feedback on this kind of response, I’d try either being more or less helpful, depending on your relationship with AIM Teapots. If you are Hydra Teapots, a Teapot Umbrella Corporation Company, and they are AIM Teapots, an Teapot Umbrella Corporation Company, I’d consider actually copying John Garrett on the email and asking him to respond. (I work for an umbrella corporation with multiple operating companies in the same industry – we get cross-inquiries sometimes, and we handle it with a more direct handoff like this.)

      If you are Hydra Teapots, former manufacturer of the AIM Teapot design, which has now either been spun off into its own separate company or sold to another company, I’d refrain from identifying a specific person and emphasize the break in relationship between your company and AIM Teapots. (“AIM Teapots is no longer affiliated with Hydra Teapots; we spun them off into an independent company in November, 2014. Please direct your inquiry to AIM Teapots, Inc. by emailing Requests-at-AIMTea.com.”) I would not provide a contact name – as a completely separate entity, you wouldn’t be expected to know who does what at another company; even if you knew who to reach out to when the split happened, that information may be old and it’s best to direct people to a more general mailbox or main switchboard number, if you give them contact information at all. I also would not reference that you happen to be in the same building.

    10. Not So NewReader

      I think it’s more frustration than rudeness, really.

      But the point is moot, because either way they need a response because they are just going to keep asking you for these inputs.

      I don’t believe that abruptness or rudeness gets me off the hook for answering someone who is asking me a question, in most cases. I only feel relieved of that obligation when a person’s behavior is, without a doubt, inappropriate. If I feel doubtful, I just continue on.

  13. Nervous Presenter

    Has anyone dealt with serious, like almost crippling, presentation anxiety? I can’t seem to get past it, and it’s at the point that I think it’s beginning to impact my career. And now, I have an interview lined up for a job that seems like a great career move for me that involves a presentation, and I’m concerned I’m going to totally tank it.

    Training, practice, and experience aren’t helping enough. I end up completely sabotaging myself because a feedback loop starts in my brain that goes “they’re going to think this is stupid,” “you did it wrong,” “you’re going to forget to mention A, B, and C! You always forget something!”

    It’s not a stage fright issue per se: I used to perform in stage and dance productions when I was younger, and was fine. This seems to be exclusive to my speaking to my own work or ideas. I also suffer from a case of imposter syndrome, so I’m sure that’s feeding into this. I’ve tried approaching it as if it’s not my work, or logically thinking through the worst case scenario and realizing it wouldn’t really be the end of the world deal it seems like when I’m trying to speak, but nothing seems to translate to the actual presentation speech.

    Any advice? I’m struggling with ways to get over this since I feel like I’m trying all the usual suspects with little impact.

    1. Christy

      It sounds to me like it’s a symptom of the underlying imposter syndrome rather than something on it’s own. I suspect that as you work on the imposter syndrome, the presentation anxiety will improve too.

      My anxiety therapist (clinical general anxiety) has helped me with my imposter syndrome. Not saying it’s the only solution, but it’s definitely a good solution.

    2. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)

      I don’t know how helpful this will be, as I’ve (luckily) never had any anxiety about presenting. But I do know that my presentations got better — more engaging, useful, and fun for me — when I started using stories to illustrate what I was doing.

    3. E.R

      Have you considered therapy, like cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)? It helped me immensely in overcoming anxieties related to work, namely the self-destructive self-talk loops that I learned to get rid of ,even though at the time I thought it would be impossible. I think this is something that’s really common, but people don’t talk about a lot.

    4. Jillociraptor

      I had this issue with writing in grad school. I’m typically an excellent writer, and my work at the time was also pretty high quality, but I developed exactly the kind of rumination loop that you describe: “You haven’t considered everything. They’re going to poke all these holes in this argument. You’re just embarrassing yourself…” etc.

      I went to therapy, I tried a whole bunch of other ways of getting my thoughts on paper (dictation, starting with a rougher outline, talking through the whole paper with my boyfriend), and none of it helped.

      The only thing that really helped me was just writing a really crappy paper, getting really critical feedback on it (and not even constructive, but exactly the stuff I’d been hearing in my head: “the prose really sucks and your argument is weak.”) It was embarrassing, but it didn’t kill me, and ever since then I’ve been able to replay that situation to myself to remind myself that the worst possible thing that can happen in this situation has happened, and I survived just fine.

      I know that’s probably the LEAST helpful thing to hear right now but honestly it really helped me. It doesn’t sound like your presentation skills are actually poor, moreso that you’re just anxious about using them, which is what reminded me of me. Good luck!

      1. Elizabeth West

        Oh, that is so true of this kind of fear–it grows in the dark, but when you drag it out into the light, it poofs into a pile of dust like a vampire in the sun. Sometimes I have to tell myself, “Just do it,” when I get anxious about something. I imagine the worst that could happen and then think, “Well, that’s not so bad–it’s better than [insert something spider, bear, or tornado-related].”

      2. Kimberlee, Esq.

        I was going to recommend something almost exactly like this! When I was younger, I was just aching, cripplingly shy. I decided one day that I was going to overcome it. I was at the kids’ version of a conference (a big competitive thing where students from across our 14 school district came together to compete; Future Problem Solving if any of ya’ll are familiar), and I did two things: first, I forced myself to go to each and every team at every table and introduced myself, chatted for a bit, etc. It was excruciating. Then I went to the middle of the room, and did a music-free interpretive dance that was *attempting* to be the YMCA, but probably resembled nothing of the sort. People just stared until I sat down.

        Both things were super hard and kind of embarrassing. But ever since then, public speaking has been totally NBD, and I was at least 50% less shy, and have been chipping that away more and more ever since, to the point that now I’m pretty sure I’ve transitioned from introvert to extrovert.

        It’s like, when you allow yourself to live through a sort of worst-case scenario, not only do you learn that you can come out the other side just fine, you tend to feel pretty positively about the actual experience, because even if it was awful, you *own* it, it’s yours, it’s something you made happen and you used it to affect the outcome you wanted. It’s pretty empowering!

      3. Nervous Presenter

        Yes, this definitely sounds familiar. I actually went to business school so there were plenty of presentations, mostly to an audience who would do their best to poke holes in your argument (at least, this was the case in my program!)

        I actually think it may have helped me if I had totally failed at this exercise at some point, but I always made it through with reasonably convincing answers. The weird thing is, once I have to explain or defend something, I usually do better. It’s just the longer, planned part where I struggle.

      4. catsAreCool

        One thing I’ve done when I’m writing something and feel stuck is to just write, even if what I’m writing seems stupid. Sometimes especially then. If I start with something that’s too blunt, I can fix it later.

    5. thisisit

      YES. THIS IS ME. presentation anxiety, imposter syndrome, etc. you know what really helped? practice. i set up my web cam and just recorded myself talking/presenting/answering questions over and over and over again. and watched it over and over and over again.
      practiced with friends and let them ask questions. it all got me more comfortable with what i was saying, and feeling more natural.
      also having some good notes that i’ve practiced with so i don’t have to rely on them too much.

      also, beta blockers.

    6. the_scientist

      Without delving to much into armchair diagnostics, I would recommend doing some reading on generalized anxiety disorders and perfectionism (the serious imposter syndrome is a red flag for perfectionism to me) and seeing if those symptoms apply anywhere else in your life. The negative feedback loop you are describing sounds a LOT like ruminating, which is a classic anxiety symptom. It also sounds like you’ve worked really hard to overcome this on your own, and are having little success, which must be really frustrating- and is possibly a sign that you need some assistance with it.

      Even if your anxiety doesn’t rise to a “diagnosable” level (i.e. generalized anxiety disorder), it can still make your life difficult! When it reached a point where my anxiety was making me miserable, I went to my primary care doctor and got a referral to a counselor- someone who has training or is familiar with cognitive behavioural therapy techniques is ideal. If you can’t access a counselor, does your employer have an EAP? I used a telephone counselling service through mine, and it was actually more effective than in-person counselling for me. The counselling wasn’t a long term thing, but gave me a few really helpful thought exercises to “retrain my brain” and to identify anxiety triggers and recognize the signs that I’m getting into one of those negative feedback loops. More immediately, you can find a lot of these CBT techniques online.

      Finally, regarding the perfectionism/imposter syndrome thing, I highly recommend the book “When Perfect Isn’t Good Enough”. Actually, I can’t recommend this book highly enough, it’s been so helpful and illuminating for me- it talks not just about perfectionism in the context of school/the workplace, but how it impacts your personal life and relationships as well.

      1. nona

        +1

        If this isn’t anxiety disorder related, the same things that help people with anxiety disorders could still be useful to you. I’d look into these recommendations.

    7. nona

      Yep, I’ve been there! I’m fine with presentations now. What helped me might be the usual suspects you’ve tried, but here it is:

      -Writing an outline or an actual script to practice.
      -Practicing at least once, earlier than the day before the presentation.
      -Going over it mentally in the place where I’ll give the presentation.
      -Knowing that a lot of people in the audience feel the same way that I do. They’re sympathetic.
      -Reading about research on how evident a speaker’s nervousness is. Turns out that the audience generally thinks everything’s cool. I’ll dig up a link to this when I get home tonight.
      -More than else, having to give a presentation every week. Exposure therapy?

      1. Dynamic Beige

        Aside from all of these (which are excellent suggestions IMO and sadly most presenters do not do) — you are there to make a presentation. So what if the audience thinks it’s stupid? Believe me when I say this, after being in the graphics end of this industry for 20 years, I bet you are not half as bad as you think you are. Because if you were, the powers that be would find a way to make you stop presenting and your career path would reflect that. No matter what happens, the presentation you give is one moment. Unless you get drunk and fall off the stage, few will remember a month from now exactly what you said or did beyond the overall impression of it. I have listened to, worked with, watched hundreds maybe thousands of presenters and only remember a few handfuls of them.

        But there is the other side of it: if it is well and truly stupid, can you change it? Can you suggest different language or better visuals or structuring it differently? If you’re doing all of this in a vacuum, get someone to help. Whether that’s hiring someone or someone in the organisation who can give you the feedback you need and work with you to improve the bits that don’t work. A fresh perspective on something can do wonders. When you work on things a lot, you get really attached to them and lose the ability to step back and see the overall picture.

    8. GOG11

      I once read a quote or excerpt that an author said something to the effect of, if you want writers block (or to be crippled by anxiety about whether or not your work is good enough), try to write or create (i.e. draft) on expensive, official paper. Essentially, the set up implied where the work would end up and it brought up all the implications of failure for the artist. If you’re scribbling on napkins or on the back of receipts, there is so little pressure to be perfect that it can really help you focus on getting the content out rather than on fears about how the material will be received. Is there a way you could trick yourself into making it no big deal? Is there some sort of napkins and old receipts format that could apply to you?

      When I get anxious, sometimes I mentally follow the timeline. For example, if you do a presentation and your ideas are poorly received or you realize they’re terrible as you’re talking, what would be the consequence? And then what would happen after that (and so on and so forth)? This helps me because I am focusing on a sequence of events (which can be planned for and possibly overcome) rather than a vague, undefined and untackle-able feeling of dread.

      Focusing on events is also helpful because, even if those things do come to pass, you will still survive. How it can be helpful is captured by this quote, I think, “P.S. You’re not going to die. Here’s the white-hot truth: if you go bankrupt, you’ll still be okay. If you lose the gig, the lover, the house, you’ll still be okay. If you sing off-key, get beat by the competition, have your heart shattered, get fired…it’s not going to kill you. Ask anyone who’s been through it.” – Daneille LaPorte

      I hope you’re able to work through your anxiety. It’s a terrible feeling.

      1. catsAreCool

        This may be why I find it easier to write when I’m using a paper notebook instead of using Word.

    9. LAI

      I used to have terrible presentation anxiety when I was younger. In high school, I faked being sick to avoid doing a presentation (which didn’t work, I just had to do it when I came back). In college, I dropped a class once because it involved presentations. But in my first job, I had to do a lot of presentations and I eventually got used to it – it helped that I was presenting to smallish groups at first, and that I was presenting on topics that I felt very comfortable with. I didn’t get as nervous about not knowing an answer, or saying something stupid because I felt very confident about the material. I started to think of it more as a conversation that happened to be mostly one-sided, and not a presentation, and that helped a lot. Can you start by practicing outside of work with a topic that you know really well, like how to fry an egg?

      1. Arjay

        It sounds counter-intuitive, but the thing that helped me the most was having my presentation videotaped and then watching it back during a critique. While I did draw some areas for improvement from the critique, it was overwhelmingly positive to see that I didn’t actually look or sound like the crazy, nervous wreck I felt like.

    10. TeapotCounsel

      Nervous Presenter,
      You asked for advice, and I have it. And, unlike some of my other posts, I promise promise that I am exactly right in this advice.
      JOIN TOASTMASTERS
      It is a public speaking group for people exactly like you. It is made up of various folks who are all very supportive and helpful. My attendance at Toastmasters transformed me into a very comfortable speaker, such that I became a jury trial lawyer.
      So I’ll say it again:
      JOIN TOASTMASTERS
      Google it and find a nearby meeting.

      1. catsAreCool

        I agree. Toastmasters has been really helpful for me. Here’s the web site http://www.toastmasters.org/ It has a “Find a Club” button in the upper left corner.

        Toastmasters is a great place to try things. It’s encouraging and supportive. People understand your fears because they’ve had the same fears.

    11. Anx

      I’m taking a public speaking class this semester.

      I’ve come to realize that for me, I am totally fine doing a freeform presentation where time isn’t really a huge factor. But trying to get the timing down and staying organized? That’s difficult unless I memorize. And I’m trying to break the pattern.

      I realized that the reason I’m doing so badly in my class is that when I go to speak, I’m trying so hard to make sure it looks like I prepared (which I did, but not enough*) than to just present my speech.

      *I am a recovering procrastinator/perfectionist and I had never finished a paper more than 10 minutes before it was due/I had to leave my computer for the day until this year. I am trying so hard to prepare more for this class, but it means committing not only to a topic earlier, but practicing what you’ve come up with without changing it.

    12. Nervous Presenter

      Wow, thanks for all of the suggestions! These are really helpful.

      I actually have considered seeking some kind of counseling or therapy around this and the imposter syndrome but (a) frankly wasn’t sure if it would even make sense, and (b) had no idea what type of help to even look into, so this definitely gives me somewhere to start if I end up going that route.

      I’ve tried to unpack this over time to try to figure out what was going on and there’s definitely a lot of imposter syndrome and perfectionism happening there, which I think is the root of the issue. I actually am an extrovert and am comfortable being up in front of people. It’s more the fear of looking like an idiot when I’m presenting work I’ve done or screwing up and forgetting something that I need to mention.

      I really appreciate all the responses. If nothing else, hearing about your experiences has made me feel like I may eventually be able to overcome this!

      1. Wanna-Alp

        Another suggestion I haven’t seen mentioned yet, that I found very helpful for my own presentations: trying to divert the soundtrack in your mind off the “me me me them them them me them me them” and onto “the material the material the material”.

        If was giving a presentation and my brain tried to go off on things like “oh I’m going to forget x”, or “what are they going to think of me?”, anything to do with me, or the listeners, that would just be immensely unhelpful – that way for me lies being flustered, nervous, and so caught up in their perceptions that the quality of what I was saying would deteriorate.

        Instead, I’d focus very firmly on the material, the substance of what I was trying to say. The sorts of presentations I’d make would be focused on helping the audience understand the concepts I was trying to convey (I was usually giving technical presentations), or helping the audience to absorb the ideas/information that I was trying to convey to them. So the soundtrack becomes all about the “understand understand material material knowledge knowledge”.

        For me, the imposter syndrome stuff would get repelled pretty severely by me reminding myself that never mind what they were thinking, because I knew the material and they didn’t. Or I understood it, and they didn’t (yet), and the whole point of me giving the talk was because I had useful stuff to impart. You’re the expert on what it is that you are trying to convey; the audience isn’t (even if they are knowledgable, they still don’t know your take on it, until you tell them).

    13. Jazzy Red

      Since you have performed on stage in the past, consider the presentation as a show that you are in. Not you, exactly, but you acting as your favorite performer or character. I used to pretend to be my Aunt Caroline, who was much more experienced, confident, and outgoing than I could ever be. She had a very professional and friendly demeanor, and I admired her so much! I imagined myself wearing her clothes, her hairstyle, her makeup, etc. – I “put her on” and did what I had to do. It really helped me get through many anxiety producing situations.

      Another thing to try is to speak like actor Michael Caine – only say three/words at a time/or at the most/four. Taking little breaths between short phrases was also very helpful for calming my nerves.

    14. Not So NewReader

      You can also try some homeopathic remedies. Check at an organic food store. Rescue Remedy is fairly tame stuff, you could start with that. There are other natural things that help to reduce stress levels also. No magic bullets, you are still you and you will not be able to sleep through a presentation, so nothing is totally numbing. But you might find something that takes the edge off so you can begin to function.

    15. Mz. Puppie

      I’m surprised no one has suggested a beta blocker before the presentation. It’s a well-known quick fix for public speaking nerves. Many speakers rely on it. (Failing that, maybe 1/2 Xanax beforehand, but the beta blocker is really better)

  14. accounting princess

    I interviewed at a job on March 30th. I thought it went well, but they said they weren’t expecting to make a decision for at least a couple of weeks. I emailed my interviewer the weeek of the interview to follow-up and she never responded. Should I follow up again? I’ve already moved on, but I really liked the company/position.

    1. Michele

      Do not contact them again. Do not stalk your interviewer. Depending on the type of position, they may not have made a decision yet. Also, if they are on the fence, and you are a pest, it will not help your case.

    2. fposte

      I don’t think most places respond to followup emails; it’s not like they’re conversations. Also, it’s not even past the timeline they told you–cut these poor folks some slack! Stick with that “moving on” idea and you’ll be all the more delighted if they do extend an offer.

    3. thisisit

      i always either double the time frame i’m given, or just tack on two weeks. so i would wait until the end of the month at least before saying or doing anything.

    4. steve g

      I feel for you. I apparently didn’t make it past the long phone screen for a specialist job in my small niche industry. It went great, the recruiter was having fun, I have to be one of the few people with experience because it is a niche, and I was totally positive, not saying anything remotely negative. The salary also lined up with my expectations. I 100 percent expected a call back, despite the one caveat that they were willing to hire someone with less experience (but I thought, why hire and train if you don’t have to). Based on the info I have, I think they made a mistake. Hopefully there is something big we are missing about these jobs.

  15. Help with hiring!!

    I work at a small company that struggles a lot with hiring. Any input on how to attract candidates who might just want an office job but not necessarily a career? Especially since the economy is picking up? Thanks!

    1. AMD

      When you say “don’t want a career,” do you mean that your company does not have a lot of room for growth? That you are looking for people who would be content in their original position long-term?

    2. some1

      Pay well and offer great benefits. If you can’t, offer perks (flex time, summer hours, casual dress code).

      1. Laurel Gray

        Some1 is on the right track. If you want someone who isn’t looking to move up but you know needs a job and will commit to it, make sure the pay is reasonable and if you can offer health insurance, please do. Definitely look into perks like a reimbursed train pass and the suggestions above.

    3. Cristina in England

      I am assuming what AMD said about limited growth opportunities. I would make that clear in the interview, and also make sure that you reward excellent performance in other ways, if promotion is not a thing. Also, all other advice from Alison about attracting good candidates also applies, such as setting clear goals, giving regular and clear feedback, having good benefits and health care, etc. There are LOTS of people who don’t want a “career”, but who want to do excellent work in a job. Good luck!

    4. louise

      I would be upfront during the phone screen/interview process that these are not really roles with room for growth. A lot of people actually don’t mind that.

    5. Julie

      If it’s a job without a lot of growth potential, I’ve found that people who are looking for a “second career” to be good fits. I come from government so that often means teachers who are done with the classroom for retirement purposes but still need income before they can draw retirement, SAHMs whose kids are old enough, men and women who were laid off with 5-15 years left in their system. Targeting them often means guaranteeing a job without increasing responsibilities or earnings so if you’re looking for a fast-paced person on their toes you may have trouble with that.

      I’ve found that you need to use coded language in the job description (relaxed environment, long-term position) but the phone screening is a must here. Be clear who this position reports to, the frequent reasons people leave (they want to move up or are looking to retire), and that this job will have xx duties and you don’t expect those to change or lead to the kind of professional development that will prepare them for other positions in the office. Ask about their career goals. Like you said, the economy is improving so you should have more choices. If salary is limited, make sure you can offer something like flex time as a perk to reward someone whose career won’t improve year-to-year.

      I’d also urge you to consider part-time employees. The office next to mine has two part-timers that split the tasks for the day so each draws a regular income but neither would define their job as a career. One’s a mom who needs to be home in time for kid pickup and the other is on a lot of boards and wanted more human interaction than her regular scene. Both are great at what they do, overlap for about 30 minutes with the other to connect on tasks and deadlines, and have been doing it for over 3 years for the one and close to 7 for the other.

      1. Cristina in England

        Yes, this! I wanted to find a way to say “people who don’t define themselves by their job but still work hard and do a good job” but couldn’t. Your first paragraph is spot on.

      2. Help with hiring!!

        It’s interesting because we have some of these benefits (flexible schedules). We are starting to consider part time and have discussed what our minimum hour requirement would be.

    6. Anx

      What do you mean by ‘not want a career’?

      Do you mean that you aren’t looking for someone long term? That you expect them to move on quickly? That you won’t offer full-time hours or benefits?

      1. Help with hiring!!

        We have about 25 employees so there’s a lot to do and you can get responsibilities that are beyond your job description, but we can’t get ahead in hiring (people keep leaving due to limited growth potential but at the same time our business is expanding and we have more work than we can handle.) We are trying to hire more people who want to punch in and punch out without necessarily looking for growth.

  16. ACA

    It’s been a weird but good week regarding job stuff.

    Good/weird thing 1: I had my performance evaluation meeting yesterday, which in the past have involved my boss telling me everything I’d been doing wrong over the course of the year and being angry that I’d kept making the same mistake for eight months despite him never telling me I was doing it wrong. This year, he thanked me for supporting him and the division over the last year, told me to keep up the good work, and he’ll be increasing my responsibilities in the areas I suggested in my self-evaluation. I’m still in shock.

    Good/weird thing 2: Back in late February, a friend of mine emailed me to let me know that a job in her office would be opening up, and to send her my resume if I was interested. I was, I sent it; she had a followup question a few weeks later about something that was actually covered on my resume, but otherwise I heard nothing.

    And then Monday, I get an email from HR at her company asking if I have time to talk on the phone to touch base about the position. At this point, I know nothing about the job except for where it is and that it’s vaguely within my skill set, so I’m assuming this is purely an informational call. I let him know my (limited) availability; he gets back to me on Tuesday day asking if I’m free that afternoon or first thing the next morning. This is when I realize it’s a phone interview…for a job I haven’t applied for yet. The next morning wouldn’t have been possible, so I made up an excuse at work and left an hour early so I could get home in time for the call..

    Considering I didn’t even see the job description until after we spoke, it seemed like it went really well! He wanted to make sure he spoke with me before he met with the VP of the division on Wednesday – so that he could tell the VP about our conversation when he presented my resume – and told me he’d follow up within a few days.

    The job was finally posted yesterday; I’ll be applying today. We’ll see how this goes.

  17. Michele

    We have a round of interviews coming up that I will be leading. After reading today’s fight or steal letter, I am going to make sure that no one is asking anything insane. Before the round starts, we have will have a meeting to discuss what we are looking for and I will bring it up there. Also, our interviews last all day, and the candidate usually meets with about a dozen people. At the end of the day, I always ask if they had any questions or if there is anything they would like to clarify. I am also going to ask if there is anything like this going on. Years ago, we had a problem with an interviewer being a rude jerk and we put a stop to it. I would hate to have a good candidate chased off by someone asking what kind of tree they are.

    1. JMW

      We sometimes use variations of the tree question (animal, book) toward the end of an interview. It asks candidates to identify their most defining characteristics. Obviously, they have to tell you why they chose the tree (or whatever). But if I choose bamboo over oak or pine, because it’s flexible, self-replenishing, versatile, ripe for development for new uses, economical, and persistent, then you have learned a lot about me from this simple exercise. One might choose other trees for their seasonality, fruit-bearing, ability to grow in a wide variety of environments, the strength of the wood, the wide canopy, the deep roots, the straightness of the trunk, the height to which it grows…

      These sorts of questions also ask the candidate to think comparatively (higher level thinking and related to the ability to connect to ideas outside oneself) and to have a little bit of humor.

      1. NJ anon

        No offense, but I hate these questions. I can’t even come up with a serious answer. Fortunately, I haven’t run into them in my most recent job search.

        1. Arjay

          They also presuppose a breadth of knowledge about trees that I lack. So in addition to researching the industry and company, I guess I need a botany course. (If I had to answer this right now, I’d sound like the Hulk. “Oak tree. Big. Strong. SMASH!”)

          1. periwinkle

            I’d hire you in an instant based on that response.

            Which is why I’m not a hiring manager.

          2. Sara

            I almost told an interviewer that I’m like a pine tree, because like a pine tree, I smell good. (I smell fine, but the real reason was that I suddenly could not think of any other types of trees. My boyfriend and I now share a running list of “Types of Trees” as a joke.)

        2. Not So NewReader

          I think that the tree question is too subjective. For example: I heard of an Eastern saying that basically concludes a willow is better than an oak because it bends in a storm where as the oak breaks. Personally, I never would liken myself to a willow, they break, they are messy, etc. The tree question presumes you know something about trees, but a lot of people have no interest in trees.

      2. M

        omg. Please don’t ask that. It’s a horrible question. I wouldn’t even know how to answer it with hours of thought, let alone on the spot.

      3. Sara

        I agree that these types of questions are ridiculous. If you want to know about my personality or working style, ask about that. I have literally never paused to consider what animal, vegetable, or mineral best embodies my personal traits.

      4. Treehugger

        I’ve always wanted to be asked what tree I would be. Never have though. I’d be an aspen. They’re clonal so when you see a grove of aspens they are all the same organism so really a grove is just one tree. The oldest (clonal) organism is an aspen named Pando that’s estimated to be 80,000 years old and it’s also the most massive organism on earth. I also love how they have flattened petioles so they flicker in the wind. I’ve always thought they embodied the wind beautifully.

      1. Sara

        I know a guy who does, along with at least 20 other completely ridiculous questions. If you’re looking for a job near Boston I’ll point you towards him. You will not face any competition from me, at least!

  18. Hannah

    Does anyone have any experience with Successfactors? My company is going to start using this for performance reviews and I did not find much on the web about it.

    1. MaryinTexas

      We just started with Success Factors. Their performance review platform (Navigator) is very cumbersome and not very intuitive. They have something called “Keys to Success” which is the “how” part of your perfromance (how you met your goals. They focus on “what”…i.e. the goals, but more focus is on “how” you achieved your goals. The business has really complained about this, b/c managers are spending way to much time on this than every before. I hope your experience is better. Good luck!!

      1. Carrington Barr

        Had to use Success Factors at Old Job. Mary is correct — far too much time & effort for what you get out of it.

    2. EA Anon

      We have it at our firm, mostly everyone hates it. It is not user friendly, people have complained so much that we now going to another program.

    3. Ebonarc

      My company used Success Factors for years…and this year switched to what was basically excel spreadsheet based forms instead. There was much rejoicing. Success Factors, at least our implementation of it, was clunky and counterintuitive.

    4. I make the computers go

      My company uses it. I really hate the interface. Multiple people in our IT department have had problems navigating it. I had to get help entering my goals this year because the link to enter them was hidden in some text.

      It requires you to enter comments in every comment box, but doesn’t tell you that until the very end so you have to navigate back to fill them in.

      Making me most mad is the fact that it won’t calculate your goal percentages for you. Each goal you enter has to have a % of total score, but this is just a box you enter a value in. If they don’t equal exactly 100% it tells you at the end and you have to go back and figure out how to weight each of your goals.

      The one saving grace is the writing assistant. Each time you do a review you rate yourself in several areas. You have to leave comments on each rating and the writing assistant has lots of suggestions for nice phrasing about that area.

    5. SC in SC

      We also use it and it certainly is not one of our favorite pieces of software. I agree with most that it isn’t ituitive but it works well enough once you understand the logic. The main complaint we have is that everything is treated like a separate document and your review doesn’t build throughout the year. Your goals are one document. You create a copy of your goals as a new document for your mid-year. Your boss can read your mid-year comments but can’t see them while he adds his mid-year comments since they haven’t been combined yet. Process repeats for year end only now you don’t see the mid-year comments. You can always open the other documents but it means you have to export them and switch back and forth.

      Another issue we’ve had is that the system doesn’t propagate changes very well. Year end goals are copied from your original goals so any adjustments made during the year have to be made again. The whole thing is just very clunky.

  19. Amber Rose

    A customer complained about my husband to his boss, saying he was “cold”. He works at our version of a DMV. They’re all cold, because their customers are all hateful violent jerks.

    Now he might lose his job.

    I’m not asking a question but I’m really pissed off at his boss for not having his back and I needed to rant.

    1. Anie

      That’s such a minor thing! I could see if someone is rude with word choices and it’s a customer facing job–but slightly standoffish? It frustrates me when people act like those who deal with customers must be super over-the-top peppy.

      When I was 17 and working the register at a gas station, I had this pop up once. I’d tried to make eye contact with a customer and offer her a half smile as I rang her up but she wasn’t paying attention to me. When she finally decided to acknowledge me, she said she was going to report me as unfriendly.

      I stared her down and said that I was working on my day off as a favor, had just come from a funeral, and the world doesn’t revolve around her. She left with her tail, rightfully, between her legs.

      1. Stephanie

        Yeah, I try to remember if I run into a brusque cashier or waiter that (a) it’s exhausting being chipper to customers all day and (b) they could have had a scenario like Anie’s. I’ve definitely had days at jobs where I don’t feel great and no one threatens my job and stiffs me on a tip, so I shouldn’t do so to the service worker.

      2. Amber Rose

        Thing is, my husband can come across a little rude, but if nobody tells him what he’s doing wrong, how is he supposed to get better? Firing someone with even a cursory attempt at coaching is such bullshit.

        1. The Cosmic Avenger

          Unless he’s in sales or hospitality, it should be much more important as to whether he actually helps people accomplish what they need to accomplish than if they think he’s “nice”. I’ve run into some very brusque yet helpful people, and I would much rather have them help me than someone who is incredibly sweet but useless.

          And I totally agree about being given a chance to work on it, too, Amber Rose.

          1. Amber Rose

            Yeah. But he doesn’t know why. I’m no help, I don’t think he’s rude at all. Or rather, he used to be when I met him 10 years ago and he seems totally fine to me now. I’ve been coaching him on his worst offenses and he hasn’t had a problem in years that I know of.

    2. Ann Furthermore

      It’s minor, like Anie said, and also vague. What does “cold” mean? Did the complainer have any specific examples? That must be such a hard job. People in those positions don’t make the rules, but they have to enforce them, which sucks. But people are so rude and hateful. I’ve found that if I take a moment and say hello and ask how they’re doing, I get much better service. I also do it because those really are awful jobs, and I greatly respect anyone who can do them without becoming homicidal. I wouldn’t be able to do it.

      1. Jennifer

        I dunno…I kind of wish people wouldn’t ask me how I am when I am serving the public because I have to smile and say “Wonderful!” regardless of how I actually am. It doesn’t really make me happier to serve because I have to be faking happiness even more if you ask.

        1. So Very Anonymous

          +1.

          Yesterday I had someone make a big deal of comforting me because I couldn’t answer his question. Um…. my not being able to answer your question doesn’t mean I have impostor syndrome, it means you need to ask the person on the other desk over there. I don’t need that much attention to my feelings, thanks.

      1. Amber Rose

        Except he very well might, since his boss told him she’s going to advise the owner to get rid of him.

        1. misspiggy

          Awful. Sounds like the problem is not so much the rudeness complaint but the boss, who seems to have been waiting for an excuse to get rid of your husband.

    3. HeyNonnyNonny

      Honestly, if I were at the DMV, I’d rather have a competent and efficient worker than a friendly, chatty one.

      1. Creag an Tuire

        Seriously. If you’re an employer forcing your support workers to be “warm” and “friendly”, you’re not actually improving the CS experience for introverts like me.

        (It’s worse because I can’t think of a way to -say-, “please, I don’t feel like chatting right now, can you just drive the cab/finish the haircut” without sounding like an elitist snob.)

        1. Tris Prior

          oh god, yes. I HATE getting chatted up by cashiers. When I was a cashier, I HATED having to be chatty and perky because, if I were my customer, I would’ve been thinking, “how soon can I leave this store without seeming rude?”

          1. april ludgate

            There’s one particularly chatty bagger who I purposely avoid at the grocery store now because every Sunday morning he’d literally say the same things as small talk and one of them was, “Now that you’re done grocery shopping are you going to do something fun for the rest of the day?” No, I wasn’t doing anything fun, I was going home to do laundry. And the reason I get up early to shop on Sundays is so I can avoid dealing with people.

            1. Tris Prior

              Is it Trader Joe’s? There’s one at my store who always does this and it drives me insane.

              1. april ludgate

                No, it’s a Hannaford’s. Although TJs employees always are super talkative for some reason.

        2. So Very Anonymous

          At my grocery store they make a big deal of asking if you want help getting your groceries to the car. I’m extroverted but my public-facing job wears me out, and the last thing I want is to have to make small talk while someone else pushes my grocery cart. I just hate the dance around having to say no. I always wonder if the baggers want to do this to get a few minutes out of the building.

    4. Allison

      That sounds so petty! I’ve dealt with plenty of “cold” customer-facing people before, but I’ve only ever reported people for being really terrible, like actually swearing at me.

    5. ThursdaysGeek

      I’ve been a customer at our DMV many times, and I’ve not seen anyone who was a hateful violent jerk, neither customers or workers. Our DMV has a few impatient people, but generally is filled with quiet people waiting their turn, and served by patient and pleasant workers trying to get to them at a reasonable speed.

      What is it about his business that only attracts that kind of customers? Especially something like a DMV, where all sorts of people have to go to? If there is that adversarial of a relationship with the customers, then perhaps the boss has a point? (Not that I want your husband to be fired!)

      1. fposte

        Yeah, I was wondering about that. Or is there something in the process that frazzles their nerves before they talk to the reps? (I think problematic automated phone systems kick a lot of people up to rage before they get to CSRs, for instance.)

        1. AVP

          ooof, I do this sometimes and its so hard to train myself out of it. My least favorite are those systems where you have to input all of your key info into the system a few times, repeating a bunch of times when the automated answerer doesn’t understand, and then ten minutes later you finally get on the phone with a live person and they haven’t gotten any of that info. So you have to start over. I know it’s not the live person’s fault but I’m so frustrated by the whole thing that it’s hard to be fresh and not hold it against them.

          I would start with not assuming that all customers are violent, hateful, or jerks, and then see where that gets everyone.

          1. nonegiven

            I hate those things. It doesn’t understand me saying ‘representative,’ which is what it told me to say, so many times I start swearing at it. That usually gets me a representative.

      2. Amber Rose

        It’s government policy. People have a problem with it, they want the staff to tell them it’s fine not to follow it, and it isn’t. Or they don’t like the hours. They’ve had to call the cops a few times on people slamming into the locked doors or threatening staff members for telling them things they don’t wanna hear.

        1. Colette

          That’s a couple of times, though, not all. If your husband is going into interactions with customers expecting them to be hateful, violent jerks, that’s one thing he can change that will affect how he comes across.

            1. Ruby

              Your initial comment said this was all his customers. Now it’s a couple per week? That’s a pretty big difference! I think Colette is right. If he has the same mindset that you had in your first comment, that’s going to come across very badly.

              1. fposte

                I think this is mostly a loyal wife posting in indignation, though; I don’t think that’s the same thing as the actual job poster.

            2. Lionness

              I am deeply curious as to what country/region you are in where your version of a DMV has such a violent clientele. That seems…insane. I don’t doubt you, I just want to be sure to avoid this area.

      3. Jennifer

        If you are in a business where people generally don’t have to go to you unless there is a problem, you will end up with a shitty clientele.

      4. peanut butter kisses

        I have never had a problem at the DMV with the employees. I tend to take bad pictures and each time, they smile and ask if I want another one. That is so very much appreciated by me. The DMV in Texas rocks!

        1. Lionness

          I only had one issue. I had the manager yell – and I mean really YELL – at me when I asked if there were any alternative documents I could provide to register my vehicle (as the state I moved from did not provide the document the new state required). I asked just once, perfectly calmly and she freaked the heck out.

          But that was just one person, one time. And she is kind of infamous in our city as someone no one wants to deal with.

      5. Not So NewReader

        I’m with you, ThurdaysGeek, I think there is something else going on here.
        There are two DMVs in my area. In one of them everyone is very nice, they chat, they help you and it’s pleasant. People go there rather than mail in their paperwork because it is pleasant. There is another DMV that the boss tells her help to be rude to the people. She tells them “it keeps the lines” moving. I don’t know if the lines move any faster but the whole time you are standing in line all you hear is people arguing with the employees. It is a very unpleasant place to be and the workers are very unhappy.

        OP, how does the boss treat “customers”? The boss sounds like an impatient person with no sense of how to work with people. If your husband’s “problem” was that serious, why hasn’t she been coaching him through it? This is not the type of thing that should fall down from the sky. people should be given a chance to remedy.

    6. Dynamic Beige

      Wait, what? There are people who work at vehicles licencing that are as warm, friendly and accommodating as the best waiter at your favourite restaurant? Or as complimentary as the person who gives you facials (seriously, do those people attend some How to Suck Up Without Being Obvious 101 style course?)

      I think the only thing he could do is speak to whomever his boss might listen to and request feedback on what he might do to improve or otherwise remedy the situation. Maybe there is some sort of procedure he is supposed to follow, or a training course? If not, is this one of those situations where this complaint is just the last straw for this manager? She may just not like him for whatever reasons and has been looking for a reason to dump him for a while now. For all you know, he could remind her of her first ex-husband or her father or something. We’ve all read the letters where it’s “So-and-so is coming in late every day. How do I tell them to not do that? — Oh, actually, there are other performance issues about this person I don’t like so I’m fixated on how late they are in the mornings” all this “cold” stuff might just be masking the real issue. Even if that real issue is the manager doesn’t like working there, so is taking it out on everyone.

    7. Jennifer

      You have my sympathies. This kind of thing is why I am being over the top cheerful at work. I may be “fake” but at least I’m obviously trying to be happy. My neutral self is “rude and mean” according to the public because I do not naturally bubble over.

  20. ZSD

    I had a Skype interview Wednesday. Thank you, Alison and AAM community, for all the Skype interview advice you’ve given! I had practiced looking into the camera instead of at my interviewers, tried out various lighting configurations, etc.
    Also, when asked a question about what I’d do if I were supervising an intern who wasn’t getting her work done, I pretty much said, “Well, I’d [insert AAM philosophy here].”
    My interviewer laughed and said, “That sounds great! I think I’ll delegate that task to you!”
    I took that as a good sign.
    (Of course, now I’m trying to read the tea leaves of the follow-up emails…)

  21. bassclefchick

    Just a few updates today. A few weeks ago I posted that I found my “dream” job at a local performing arts center. Unfortunately, I didn’t even get an interview. That’s OK, it was a bit of a stretch for me and I didn’t meet all the requirements. I wasn’t really expecting an interview.

    However, the most disappointing thing that happened was at my current assignment. I’m currently a temp at a Fortune 500. I’ve been here as a temp for just over a year. There was a really good permanent opportunity and I applied for it. I noticed that they pulled the posting fairly quickly. But then about a week after that, they reposted it. So, I contacted the hiring manager and asked about it. He said to contact the in house recruiter. I did that. Not 5 minutes after finishing the email exchange with the recruiter, I received the reject notice stating I wouldn’t even be getting an interview. That was a harsh blow to absorb!
    BUT – even worse? Last week my manager pulled my team into a conference room and announced one of our team had accepted the position I applied for! This company is really big on promoting from within, which is great if you’re already in, but rather difficult if you’re trying to GET in. So not only did I NOT get hired on permanently, I have to smile for my teammate who DID get the job. After I was repeatedly told by the hiring manager that he wasn’t expecting any internal candidates!
    And now, a week later, I’m sitting with absolutely nothing to do because they are massively changing my job and moving from a paper system to electronic. And my manager didn’t even offer to train me on the departing teammate’s job – she’s supposedly keeping me in my current role and bringing in another temp to learn the other job. Because they’re on a hiring freeze again so she can’t hire someone to replace teammate.
    I really have to find something permanent. I have the distinct feeling I’m going to be told soon that my assignment will be ending.
    Thanks for the enouragement everyone! Time to push out more applications!

    1. BritCred

      Wait, they are on a hiring freeze and had previously said that they didn’t expect internal candidates for the role your coworker got…?

      1. bassclefchick

        They had a BRIEF window of being able to hire…then they announced a giant merger so back to the hiring freeze. Since this position was posted during the hiring period, they could go ahead with it.

        1. bassclefchick

          And yes, I was told at least twice by the hiring manager that he really didn’t expect any internal candidates to want the position. The position was posted before the merger was announced, so none of the permanent employees were in “OMG it’s a merger, we’re all losing our jobs” mode just yet.

    2. Colette

      Sometimes “hiring freeze” may actually mean that they’re cutting some groups – so it’s possible your coworker got the new job because her existing job no longer exists. In other words, they prioritized taking care of existing employees over hiring someone new.

  22. Knitting Fog

    Does anyone have any advice on how to efficiently schedule a bunch of people with shifting, variable, and frequently unknown availability?

    I was asked a couple of months ago to take over some training as part of my duties at work. I don’t mind doing the actual training, but I don’t have a car and it’s a two-and-a-half hour, five-bus trip to the training office, and the same back again. Each training session runs for about four hours, so after taxes and paying transit fares in three different cities, I end up netting around $20 for nine hours of work and travel. Given that, I’d really like to limit the number of training sessions I have to hold.

    Theoretically, I should be able to do this because I’m the one who sets up the training schedule–I’m given a list of the people who need trained, and then it’s my responsibility to schedule the appropriate training sessions. My problem is that I’m having trouble getting more than two or three people in at once.

    It’s a 24/7 industry, there aren’t any standard shifts at our company, and many members of our staff have second jobs, so that makes it difficult to find a time when multiple people are free. On top of that, the work schedules usually aren’t finished until the start of the week to which they apply, and even then they change so much over the course of the week that they’re pretty much useless–I’ve had multiple people cancel training because their work schedule changed after we set a training date.

    I suggested that perhaps the operations managers could schedule training when they schedule people for work, but that suggestion was met with dead silence. The managers haven’t even told the staff they need training–I have to explain it when I call them–so it’s obviously not a priority for them. (We could lose a major client if we don’t get our people trained, so it is important.)

    So…any thoughts on how to get this done in as few sessions as possible? Or do I just need to suck it up and train them two at a time?

    1. Apollo Warbucks

      Does it need to be in person training? Could you develop training packs for people to work on themselves and take any requests for assistance by email or use video conferencing? (Google hangouts are very good for that sort of thing)

      1. Knitting Fog

        Oh, how I wish I could do that! But no. I can’t change the format of the training – we’re a tiny, tiny vendor for a very large client, and they’re not going to change their standard training just for us. Plus some of it is legally-mandated, so I’m not sure they could change the format even if they were willing to.

    2. Kat

      Offer two times/dates. Have the main office tell them it is mandatory and let them know they must have this training to continue working there.

      At some point, the employees need to work with your schedule, even if they have another job. They may complain and whine, but hold to it.

      1. Knitting Fog

        The trick is getting the main office on board with that! But thank you! I may try suggesting that to them and seeing if I can get any traction. It would simplify things considerably.

    3. LCL

      It is time for a meeting between you, the operations managers, and a representative from whatever management is requiring the training. At the meeting, you should have copies of last month’s schedules, and the current schedule. Explain to all involved how your company’s schedule works, and show how hard it is to get people in for training. Then throw it at them, and ask for help in solving this.

      Why does the training have to be done at a remote location? Would it be possible to do some training on site? And why do people cancel training to work? Aren’t they getting paid their regular hourly wage for training?
      Are the operations managers making them cancel their training? With shiftworkers, there is no way around holding multiple training sessions. But you could really minimize that if your company had a more coherent schedule. But again, it sounds like you don’t have any authority over the schedule.

      I schedule for a group of shiftworkers. Our schedules are posted for 4 weeks at a time, and most people’s shifts don’t vary. I am also the person who schedules training. And I am one of the persons who is the equivalent of an operations manager. It is definitely easier to schedule training if you control the schedule.

      1. Knitting Fog

        Thank you! I think that you’re right–a face-to-face meeting is what’s needed. The company is not going to approve getting the client involved in this, but maybe I can wrangle a meeting with the schedulers and try to sort things out that way.

        As for location–most of our work gets done at client sites, and the handful of admin people, including me, do most of our work from home. The training office isn’t exactly remote–it’s about a fifteen-minute drive from our main client site. But I don’t have a car, and the oddities of bus routes mean it takes sixty to ninety minutes to get there by bus from the client site, or two to two-and-half hours directly from my house. (The client site is an hour away from me, so it works out to about the same time either way.)

        What happens with cancellations is that when our people are asked to work, they assume their training has been rescheduled because they assume a degree of organization and coordination that does not exist. I do keep the operations managers up to date on who is scheduled for training when, but I don’t think they pay much attention to that.

        So yes! I think I need to do this face-to-face, if I can somehow drag them all in. I’m the most junior person there, so it might be a challenge, but I’ll try.

        1. Celeste

          Can they lease or rent you a car? It seems like it can only help for this venture. Also maybe you can stay overnight to give a 2-day window for trainings. It seems like that might also help with shift work, if you are willing to be on a different shift for it.

          I think your small company needs to decide if it wants to be a little more big-time. At least with this client, you’ve gone as far as you can go on a shoestring.

          1. Not So NewReader

            That is pretty wild that it takes so much money to go to training. I wonder how many other people are feeling the pinch. I hope extra money is tacked on to this client’s contract because of the expense involved in getting people training.
            But my main though is, OP can you schedule yourself to go with someone who has a car and would not mind giving you a lift? I have a car and I usually look around to see if someone needs a ride because there is usually someone who does. It’s not a big deal- I am going that way anyway! ;)

        2. Ask a Manager Post author

          Why not take a taxi from your office and expense it, if it’s only 15 minutes away? If I were your manager, I would be shocked to find out you weren’t doing that already!

          1. Knitting Fog

            In the beginning, I used to try to organize shuttle runs from the main site using one of the company cars for employees undergoing training who didn’t have cars. I stopped after I was lectured by management for wasting gas. I think it was a ridiculous complaint, but given that history, I’m hesitant to ask for money for a taxi just for me – I fear I’d come across as demanding special privileges.

    4. HumbleOnion

      Can you company pay to rent you a car for the day? Or at least pay for your transportation? If you’re having to go to another site, they should be covering it.

      1. Knitting Fog

        The training office is pretty much their only office–it gets called the training office because that’s the main thing we use it for (apart from storage), but they don’t have any other space. The admin staff all work from home, and everyone else works at client sites. So I’m not really going to another site, I’m just going into the office. (They didn’t have this office when I took the job–I was supposed to be working entirely from home–so I didn’t know that it would be an issue.)

        But it would make it more palatable if I weren’t spending so much (and so much time) on transportation!

        1. misspiggy

          They should still pay your transportation costs if these are additional to your original working setup.

    5. LAI

      I don’t know how often you need to schedule these trainings, but when I’ve had to schedule meetings for people with really busy schedules, I’ve used free doodle polls. You pick a few days and times, put them on the website and have everyone say which ones they can attend. Then you pick the ones that the most people are available for, and that’s when you schedule your meetings.

      1. Knitting Fog

        I love doodle polls! But sadly they won’t work here–it’s not a white collar environment, and a lot of our older staff members don’t have email addresses or internet access.

    6. Xarcady

      Another angle to attack is asking your manager how many days you should be devoting to this training, rather than your regular work. I mean, if you have to travel to the training center twice a week for 5 weeks straight in order to fit everyone’s training in, how are you going to get all your other work done? Also ask if the company can either rent you a car orpay for a taxi or otherwise get you to the training site more quickly.

      Someone needs to make it clear to whoever is scheduling the trainees that the training is important and time must be scheduled for it. If not you, then someone who has the authority to make the managers of the trainees sit up and listen. If they aren’t listening to you, maybe they will listen to your boss.

      1. Knitting Fog

        I’m part-time, so they aren’t too worried about my travel time, because it’s my time I’m losing, not theirs. They don’t have to pay me for it, and they know I’ll still have enough hours left in the week to do the rest of my work.

        I think one of the issues is that the administrative people who deal with the client know that the training is important, but the operations side is rather grudging in their acceptance of that fact. Unfortunately, operations outranks everyone else (it’s a small company), so there’s really no one who can force them to play along. But maybe if I can get some buy-in through a face-to-face meeting where we schedule together, that will help.

        Thank you for the suggestions! You’re right–one way or another operations needs to recognize that the training has to happen.

        1. Not So NewReader

          I think you need upper management to get involved. You tried on your own, now it is time for management to step in and say “Okay, we asked nicely and that did not work. Now we are not asking, we are telling you that this is mandatory.”

  23. Nancypie

    Hello – I am looking for advice on where to get summer tops that are short-sleeved, aren’t sleeveless, that would like under a jacket or cardigan or on their own.

    My office is business casual but really it’s much more on the business end of that spectrum.

    I actually struggle with this year round, as I don’t really like button down dress shirts.

    1. HeyNonnyNonny

      Love21 is Forever21’s “grown up” branch. They have some higher quality items that I’ve found to be work-appropriate and have gotten lots of compliments on. But you do have to dig through a lot of stuff and it’s very hit or miss.

      1. Nancypie

        Do they have actual stores for Love 21? I’ve gone into Forever 21 and there’s definitely nothing for me there, either professionally or casual style (in my 40s).

        1. HeyNonnyNonny

          No, they don’t have separate stores but they should be buried among the regular clothes. If you’re willing to do online shopping, you can sort by label and find them easier.

    2. Anie

      Depends on your region and pockets. In the Midwest, just out of school, I favored Maurices. Now on the East Coast and with a better paying job, I focus on Anne Taylor/Loft and Banana Republic.

      It’s difficult to find your style. Good luck.

      1. Nancypie

        Thanks – East Coast. I usually only find tank tops at Anne Taylor (but on the plus side there’s an outlet nearby) – will have to try BR. I rarely go in there.

        1. Kara Ayako

          I would also recommend Banana Republic and Ann Taylor, but a note: Don’t ever buy anything full price at either, unless you love it so much that you can’t risk not having it. Most of their items eventually go on crazy sale, usually in the 40% range off the regular sale price. If you can shop online, sign up for their emails, and you’ll get very regular emails from both about significant discounts. I typically pay about 20-30% of the original price.

    3. Lo

      check out work fashion websites like corporette–search for short sleeved shirts and I am sure you will find some great options!

    4. Ann Furthermore

      Try Target. They have some pretty cute clothes, and they’re reasonably priced. For things like simple, plain tops that you want to wear under a blazer or cardigan, it’s a good option. Also try Old Navy. I go through white tops (tank tops or short sleeved shirts) pretty fast, because I’m large-chested and sometimes no matter how careful I am, I end up having some kind of lunch mishap. It bothers me much less when I’m wearing a top from Old Navy or Target because even if I have to toss it, I haven’t spent a fortune on it.

    5. thisisit

      Ann Taylor (not Loft) is pretty good, I think. I second Banana Republic. When I lived in DC, the TJ Maxx near Metro Center had fantastic work clothes (other branches not so much), so you could explore that.
      I also remember a line at Macys I liked – INC maybe? There’s also Nordstroms.

      Do you have Zara? Desigual?

    6. Stephanie

      J. Crew…when they have a sale (their stuff has gotten ludicrously overpriced for what it is).

      1. HeyNonnyNonny

        My recent J Crew secret is to pull the clothing ID number from their web site and then search for that number on eBay. It doesn’t work for everything…but I’ve gotten 2 full suits that way. At way less than retail.

    7. Laurel Gray

      I just purchased 4 from Ann Taylor to tuck into pencil skirts and cropped work pants. They currently have a 40% off sale and a wide variety of patterns and styles. I got lucky with a 60% off sale last week and my shirts are $18-40 each.

    8. Jubilance

      Try Target. They have a variety of Merona t-shirts and some are thicker/dressier than others, and they also have cute shell tops. Also maybe try the clearance rack at Ann Taylor? There’s where I tend to get my work tops.

      1. Kerry (Like The County In Ireland)

        Nordstrom Rack–specifically Pleione or Daniel Rainn tops. They have a website now.

    9. Sparrow

      The blog Capitol Hill Style may have some suggestions. Check out the “Ask Belle” category. At the mall, I would cruise through stores like Macys, JC Penny or Sears. I also like The Limited and maybe White House Black Market or H&M.

      1. Addy

        I second the capital hill style recommendation. She does round ups of this sort of thing weekly

      2. Pipes

        I buy basically all my nice / work clothes from White House Black Market. They will style for you – you walk in, tell them what you need, and then you go to a fitting room and they bring you clothes, which I love.

        That being said, not cheap. I go maybe twice a year. Today was one of those days. 4 tops and 1 jeans later, it was $335 (before my coupon).

    10. Mz. Puppie

      I basically only wear exactly what you’re asking about.

      August Silk brand short-sleeve sweaters, available at Macy’s and elsewhere. Thin and breathable, still appropriate without the jacket.

      Also, printed short-sleeve tops made out of polyester & spandex (and sometimes a bit of rayon). The kind of tops that you can squeeze in your hand and it still doesn’t wrinkle. Like this: http://www.jcpenney.com/dotcom/worthington-essential-tee-plus/prod.jump?ppId=pp5003070787&cmvc=JCP|dept20000013|cat100240005|cat100250043|RICHREL&grView=&eventRootCatId=&currentTabCatId=&regId=&rrplacementtype=item_page.dpcontent1

      JC Penney always has tons of those kinds of tops, but Macy’s etc usually have them too.

  24. thisisit

    I received an offer! Worked out the details of the package this week. Went through a whole internal drama about negotiating, came up with an estimated amount they’d offer, my internal settle point, the amount I’d counter with (and negotiate down from), some arguments for why I’m worth it, etc. And then she goes and offers MORE than the amount I was planning on countering with! So fumbled a bit. We did work out some more favorable benefits, but overall I didn’t negotiate much. I regret it a little, only because I think women should negotiate more, but I couldn’t fault the offer. AT ALL.
    So super happy, but now need to get everything sorted for a move in 6 weeks. Eeek!

    So here’s a question – I had tentatively agreed to do some contract work in October for someone. I don’t want to do it now as I’ll be busy enough with a FT job (I’ve been working on contract for last 2 years). I plan to email her and say I can’t do it anymore because of FT job, but have been warned that she’ll push back and try to pressure me into doing it anyway. How do I hold my ground? I don’t want to just blow her off because we move in the same circles and all that.

    1. Malissa

      Congrats! Not every offer has to be negotiated. Sometimes they know what people are worth. :)

      1. thisisit

        i know, but i have this thing about women not negotiating and being too quick to agree, hence the urge to negotiate. for womankind. :P

    2. TheLazyB

      I’m sorry, it won’t be possible for me to do the work any more. Repeat if necessary.

      You could offer to help her find someone else to do it if you might have useful contacts, but I wouldn’t even do that tbh.

      1. Not So NewReader

        This. The less words the better. Using more words seems to invite discussion. NO, this is not a discussion, “I have made commitments that I must keep”.

    3. Anonymous Educator

      Congrats on the new job!

      I think giving her six months’ notice that you won’t be able to do the contract work should be enough. Just say “I’ve really enjoyed doing contract work for you these past two years. I’ve just accepted a full-time job, so I wanted to give you as much heads-up as possible that in October I won’t be available to continue that work with you. I’m confident you will be able to find someone good to replace me on this week, and I’ll certainly let you know if there’s someone I can refer to you as well” or something like that.

      The stress here is on:
      1. You have enjoyed the work. You liked working with her.
      2. You are trying to be considerate of her by giving her as much notice as possible (six months).
      3. If you can help out in other ways (finding someone else), you are willing to do so.

      1. thisisit

        thanks for the pep talk/tips. funny enough, i hated working with them, but i did like the project.

    4. nonegiven

      “I’m no longer available for your contract work in October.”
      Maybe you have some other people you could refer her to?

    5. thisisit

      I guess I should be more specific and say that I’m a bit concerned about being given a guilt trip and her having hard feelings about it. She tends to be… very focused on her own needs.

      My new job is in an area related to what she does, and she knows all the big players. I just want to ensure there are no hard feelings. In theory, 6 months is a lot of time for notice and a reasonable person would be fine, but she’s a bit… erratic.

      I’m tempted to maybe fall back on the whole “new job won’t let me take on side gigs in related areas without extensive review” type of thing…

      1. TheLazyB

        I’d just stick with ‘I’m sorry you are upset about this. However it won’t be possible for me to do this work any more.’ Less is more. Don’t give her anything to try to bargain with. I bet that if you tell her that she’ll try and get you not to tell them/keep it a secret.

      2. Lamb

        But if she knows all the big players, she may try to use her contacts/clout to get the side work “approved”. Either she’ll find out there’s no such rule, or they’ll tell her they’re fine with you also doing her work (or there really is a rule you can’t do contract work without permission, but since you don’t want to do her work, the new job having a contract review process doesn’t actually do you any good). There’s nothing to gain by giving her that specific excuse.

  25. Forrest

    How soon do you often hear about a job after an interview? I had an interview last week and am used to either hearing yay or nay right away. In fact, the longer it takes to hear anything often means you didn’t get the job. But anyway, just wanted to poll the audience: how soon after your interview did you hear if you got the job?

    1. ThatOneRedhead

      At my company, we try to schedule all of the interviews for the position within a couple of weeks, so if you’re the first one to be interviewed, it could be 3 weeks.

    2. TheLazyB

      I have always heard within 10 days, I think.

      Anecdata – I had an interview on 9th April and an interview on 16th April (yesterday) and was offered both of them yesterday :)

      About 12 years ago I had two interviews on the same day. I was offered one of them the same day and the other about ten days later (after I’d given up on it in all but name).

      (interestingly I often seem to get two offers at once. Because all you need to get a job offer is another job offer. They’re like buses!)

    3. thisisit

      Depends on the field and your level of experience, I think?

      I just got an offer this week. The timeline:
      mid-Dec: application deadline.
      early Jan: screening.
      mid Jan: written test.
      late Jan: video conference interview (nothing for several weeks, then heard in mid-late Feb for next round)
      early March : in person interview
      early April: request for references
      mid April: offer.

      I’m a mid-level person.

    4. LAI

      For my current job, I didn’t hear for over a month. It turns out that it is a sign of how bureaucratic our processes are, and how long it actually takes to get simple tasks done, but I still like the job overall…

    5. Anonymous Educator

      I had an interview last week and am used to either hearing yay or nay right away. In fact, the longer it takes to hear anything often means you didn’t get the job.

      I don’t know what industry you’re in (I’ve worked mainly worked in and around education/schools), but that hasn’t been my experience at all—either as a candidate or as a hiring contact. One time, I had a full two months after an interview before more follow-up interviews and an eventual offer.

      1. TheLazyB

        Uk teaching interviews are insane. Apparently it’s not uncommon for candidates to be kept in a room together, one person is offered the post,if they accept the others are told thanks but no thanks.

        So glad I am not a teacher.

          1. TheLazyB

            I know!! I thought I was being bullshitted (even though I read it in an interview prep book!) until a friend of mine who is a teacher told me about it.

    6. SP

      Mine was:
      early January: applied
      mid March- interview
      late March- reference check
      early April- offered the job

  26. I have a question

    Suppose a male manager, Persival, is told by a female subordinate Penelope that another female subordinate Violet isn’t wearing appropriate undergarments. Should Persival address this with either employee? Persival travels quite a bit for work and is in the office 2-3 days a week so he doesn’t see his employees every day. There is a dress code but it doesn’t require undergarments specifically. This is a business casual environment, and notice is given when visitors (vendors, customers) will be at the office. Dress code probably gets more casual when the boss isn’t there.

    1. ZSD

      Can we get a little more detail? Are you saying that the co-worker doesn’t wear underwear? Doesn’t wear a bra? Or wears both of these things, but at least one is somehow inappropriate?
      Mostly, I’m wondering how Penelope is *aware* of this.

      1. I have a question

        Penelope was annoyed that Violet wasn’t wearing a bra (all I know is it happened once, don’t know if it’s a pattern for Violet) so she reported Violet to the manager. Company is too small for hr.

        1. Ezri

          How did Penelope know Violet wasn’t wearing a bra? I mean, if Violet was wearing no bra and only a thin shirt so that certain anatomical details were visible through it, I could see that being a problem at work. But some women can get away with a layering tank top under a dress shirt without it being as obvious.

          1. MaryMary

            We had an issue in our office where a young woman wasn’t wearing a bra and chose to wear a sweater dress to work that day. She wasn’t well endowed, but it was VERY obvious. If she’d worn button down and a blazer, I doubt if anyone would have known.

        2. BritCred

          It depends why she knew that she wasn’t wearing a bra.

          I wear sports tops for comfort instead of bras and if the office gets cold i could see a “nip issue” occuring. I tend to wear heavy shirts so at work you wouldn’t know. However if I was wearing a thinner top its possible someone could assume I wasn’t wearing anything.

          I almost hate asking what view she got to come to the conclusion…

        3. ZSD

          Thanks. In that case, I would say that Penelope should not have gone straight to Violet’s manager. She might have talked to Violet privately (not accusingly, but rather in a, “I’m not sure if you realize…” way), but going straight to the manager seems ridiculous.

        4. Connie-Lynne

          What’s the work-related reason Violet needs to wear a bra? I was trying to come up with one and, frankly, I can’t think of one outside “Violet is a model / actress and her costume requires one.”

          If it’s just that Penelope can see a bump for Violet’s nipples or extra sway, IMO it’s on Penelope (and any other coworkers Penelope might be concerned about) to figure out how not to be distracted by Violet’s clothing. I was once instructed to wear a bra by a male manager — while I was wearing one, and a thick sweater.

        5. misspiggy

          I often don’t wear a bra due to health problems, and it’s never been an issue at work. I can’t see how it would make any difference to observers, assuming clothing is professional and not transparent or gaping. Bras are for improving the comfort of the wearer and smoothing the line of clothes. Having a slightly lumpier than ideal silhouette isn’t going to distract a reasonable person from their work, so why should it be a work problem?

          Unless bras mean something different in America. I once visited an American colleague in her hotel room after she had changed into a t-shirt, and she apologised for not wearing a bra. I hadn’t noticed anyway, but was bemused – it’s not like she was walking around in the nude.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger

        What about if Violet had high-riding day-glo butt-floss (thong) showing? That’s rather unprofessional, and I actually have a friend who complained about her young coworker wearing low-riding pants and high-riding underwear.

        1. Kara Ayako

          Then the problem is not the thong but that the person’s shirt wasn’t covering their mid-section so the thong was showing. And then the conversation is about the shirt and exposed midriff, not undergarments.

          1. The Cosmic Avenger

            Ah, I get it. Excellent point.

            But I think the real issue is that this very sensitive and subjective complaint (at least, we don’t have enough specifics to know exactly what was the issue) was received third-hand, and it didn’t affect Penelope directly, so why did she mention it? Was it about the appearance of professionalism? Getting Violet in trouble? Or was it made up? (I wouldn’t normally suggest that, but as I said, there was a lack of specifics.)

            1. Kara Ayako

              I agree with this. If there was a problem that Penelope saw, and this was coming from a place of wanting to help Violet, then she should have addressed it directly with Violet. Why involve a third-party? Why _complain about someone’s underwear_ to a superior?

        2. Malissa

          I can tell you everyday what color underwear twoof my coworkers have on. I hate that I know this. Not as much as I hate the fact that they don’t know that you can buy low riding underwear to go with the low riding jeans.

    2. Katy

      How the heck did Penelope see Violet’s undergarments? Is the problem that Violet isn’t wearing a bra? Otherwise, my vote is that underwear is pareve when it comes to officewear – no judgement call allowed.

    3. Sarah Nicole

      I’m just wondering how Penelope knew Violet wasn’t wearing the “appropriate” undergarments. Was she wearing a brightly colored bra under a white shirt? I pretty much tend to think a person can wear whatever under garments they want as long as they aren’t showing. Were they?

    4. nona

      It depends on what exactly the issue is?

      If it’s “I saw Goody Violet’s bra strap once!”, Persival should tell Penelope to mind her own business.

      1. Anx

        Truly.

        My best fitting bras all have loose shoulder straps. I am not gluing straps to my shoulders. A slip could happen. I don’t wear tank tops, I also wear short sleeves sometimes.

        1. fposte

          I wish shoulder straps were all really adjustable. However, I have a few wider-cut tops and dresses that I’ve just gone ahead and sewn in the strap-holders to; they really are a blessing, and they’re cheap at JoAnn type places.

          1. Anx

            I am so doing this this summer if I have an internship where I’d wear cap sleeves.

            I have been pretty short on cash the past few years and started trimming the straps down and reattaching them when they start to stretch a bit. It’s been a lifesaver. So I think I’d be capable of this. Thanks for the suggestion!

    5. Anonymous Educator

      I don’t really see that it’s that big an issue unless it is a repeat issue and it happens in front of vendors/customers.

      That said, if it does become an issue, the male manager can simply say it’s been brought to his attention that her attire lately hasn’t been in line with the company’s dress code.

    6. Observer

      I think that the key question is how Penelope know this? *IF* the reasons reflects a real problem, then it depends on how often this is happening. If not, Percival should tell Penelope to focus on her work, not her co-worker’s undergarments.

      If there really is an issue, then Percival does need to take it up with Violet, but that conversation is about problem, not the undies. So, if it’s sheer shirts, that’s the problem you address. If it’s Penelope finding a way to look down someone’s shirt, Penelope needs to get a life.

  27. april ludgate

    What do you do when your coworker tells you they’re planning on asking a new hire a very personal question? A woman I work with has been talking for awhile about how she and her husband want to get pregnant soon. Honestly, that’s something I would consider an overhsare but it’s her life and her prerogative to share. Lately, though, she’s been fixated on the fact that another woman at the same level in the department is also trying to get pregnant and she’s been mentioning it frequently, as though the entire department would collapse if two people were on maternity leave at the same time (it would be inconvenient but we’d survive). This week it was announced that a new hire will be joining the department at her level. He’s a younger man and he mentioned having a wife in casual conversation at his interview and my coworker thinks it’s appropriate to ask if he and his wife are planning to get pregnant. I didn’t feel comfortable saying anything at the time because she is above me in hierarchy but I feel like that is so inappropriate. Pregnancy is such a personal and potentially sensitive topic I can’t imagine ever asking a coworker that question. What if his wife had a miscarriage? Or they’re dealing with infertility? Or they just don’t want kids? I know she’ll likely mention it again and I’d like to have some sort of response other than my WTF? face.

    1. Elkay

      WTF face is right. What you’ve said here is dead right, it’s inappropriate and insensitive, tell her that.

      1. Dynamic Beige

        You’re right — but I wonder if this isn’t a “how will this company survive!?!” and more of a “Wow… I’m going to be a parent. Other people around me are doing the same thing. I guess it’s true what they say about these things all happening in waves/at the same time. What a coincidence we all want the same thing right now” thing. It also sounds to me that there’s a “race” component to it. If this person is highly competitive in other ways, she may want to be the first to get pregnant, the first to have a baby in the office in X years. Still not appropriate to grill other people about their plans for baby-making, though. There are some people who if they found out that they were having a boy, then found out their friend/coworker/whoever next door was having triplets would feel like they were being shown up. She may be one of those people who is just not happy if others are doing “better” than she is in some way.

        1. april ludgate

          I’d never thought of it that way, it’s possible that part of it could be a competitive type thing. Mostly, she’s just very controlling, has to have her hand in everything, and I think she’s worried how other people wanting to be on leave at the same time would affect her plans. She’s like that with everything. A coworker at my level told her they might be selling their house/moving, so she went and talked to the head of the department about putting together workflows in case they leave. Their house isn’t even on the market yet.

    2. Sunflower

      So not appropriate. Especially because this is such an iffy topic in the workplace that I doubt anyone is going to answer honestly.

      1. Nanc

        She’s essentially planning to quiz someone about their sex life (and discussing her own), not appropriate indeed!

    3. Alison with one L

      This is literally my nightmare. Please stop your coworker from asking such an inappropriate question. ESPECIALLY, because her concern is based on so many hypotheticals and assumptions.

    4. TheLazyB

      So inappropriate that I can’t even speak. I would have to have very eloquent WFT face in your situation.

      1. Windchime

        Super inappropriate. I won’t even ask my son and his bride of 6 months this question because guess what–it’s none of my business! In my opinion, it’s much too personal a question to ask of anyone unless they bring it up first.

        I am, however, bookmarking cute baby things to knit. Just in case.

        1. Marcela

          Please accept the eternal gratitude of somebody who was told, every time I visited my in-laws, that they wanted a baby. It was the last thing they would say to me at the airport: “next time, come with a baby”.

    5. steve g

      After living in Czech rep, I find your coworkers fixation odd. Such conversations were….more understandable there because the person would be out a year. maternity is short in the usa that there is a tiny chance that the leaves would overlap unless they all gave birth the same months

      1. Anastasia Beaverhausen

        I don’t think this question is understandable anywhere, to be honest! Given that
        1) The coworker is not even this person’s manager
        2) This person has, to our knowledge, never opened discussion on this subject let alone announced an intention to take parental leave
        it would be very out of the blue and inappropriate for the coworker to start grilling him on it.

        I live in an European country where mat leave is very generous and I get that a team needs to plan to accomodate that, but I would be pretty miffed if a rando coworker started asking these questions of me just because I’m young/possibly married.

        1. april ludgate

          Exactly. She’s not a manager, the new coworker will be at the same level as her (and she’s been here less than a year, so she will barely even have seniority over him) and he hasn’t even started work yet! She said something along the lines of, “Since we couldn’t ask him during the interview process…” so it was obviously something she’d been thinking about for awhile. And we’re in the US so maternity leave is pretty short and paternity leave is basically mythical anyhow.

        2. Steve G

          I wasn’t even thinking about appropriate vs. not, I was just thinking that even logically, it makes no sense. If the usual maternity is 3 months, the three women in question (one of them who doesn’t even work there!!) would need to have their kids within 12 or 13 weeks of eachother for their to even be any overlap – which was the nosy coworkers’ concern. The chances of that are highly unlikely!

          1. TheLazyB

            After years (literally) of no women being pregnant in my building, in 2011 5 of us had babies in the space of I think 10 weeks.

            Two of them were in IT , but luckily the rest of us were all different departments.

            In fact thinking back I think the first baby was late and the last was early so it was maybe within 10 weeks.

            That was about 10% of our building out on maternity leave for between 6 and 12 months.

    6. Not Good At These

      Say exactly what you’ve expressed here. “Jane, I don’t think you should ask Sam about his procreation plans. It’s really none of our business and can be a very sensitive topic for many people. I’m sure Sam will tell us if/when his wife becomes pregnant. Now, what do you think of this teapot design from Teapot Design Team A?”

      1. Not So NewReader

        Yeah, really. “Jane, why would we need to know that? What will we do with that information if we get it? And if Sam says they plan to have kids, will Sam use that question against the company later if he is denied a promotion or another opportunity?”
        Sometimes asking questions about the next step is enough to stop the first step of a process.

    7. Anx

      I think one possible scenario here is that she feels like she wants to have a baby, cares about the impact it has on her employers, and letting that cloud her judgment.

      I know some people who are choosing not to get pregnant because they don’t want to ‘do that to their company’ while someone else in on maternity leave or because someone else wants to get pregnant more. Or they are afraid that if they all do get pregnant, they’ll be setting women in the workforce back because hiring young women did end up costing the company after all.

      Maybe she feels responsible for covering all the bases? She seems like she should relax. It wouldn’t be her fault if you ended up short-staffed. That’s just part of doing business in the US (I’m assuming you’re in the US).

    8. BeckyDaTechie

      “Their decision to have kids or not isn’t really relevant to working here. There’s no reason to pry. And I can’t help but feel that it’s too soon to worry about you and Coworker being out on maternity leave at the same time, so we’ll cross that bridge if we come to it. (Topic Change).”

    9. Lamb

      You could always point out to her that she is essentially planning to ask this near-stranger whether he’ll be having unprotected sex with his wife soon.

  28. Windchime

    I’m wondering if managers can chime in on this one.

    We have a person on our team (“Sam”) who is a really, really nice man. He has had a long and difficult life, including prison camp and escaping his home country in a rickety, scary boat. He worked for years to get the rest of his family out of that country. He is now approaching retirement age, but says that he needs/wants to keep working a few more years because he is financially responsible for a lot of his extended family. He is just a really good person.

    However, he is also not so great at his work. Our team was formed several years ago by moving people from existing teams to this one. The current managers were not involved in the choosing of who was moved to this team. Sam previously worked independently, so if he wrote a big pile of spaghetti code it didn’t really affect anyone other than himself. Now, however, it affects the team. About 90% of his work ends up having to be redone because it is fragile and bug-prone. The bulk of our help-desk tickets are for work that he has done. When he fixes the problem that the ticket describes, it usually causes another problem.

    Management is working on this situation and I fear that it will end badly for Sam. Here is my question: As a manager, how does one balance out having to fire/demote someone who does poor work but who is truly a really good person who will suffer real (financial) consequences if he loses his job? I’m just so worried about all this. I’m not management, but I can see the handwriting on the wall. On the one hand, I will be relieved to no longer have to clean up after him, but on the other hand–he is just such a good person.

    1. Christy

      Everyone, pretty much, has real (financial) consequences when they lose their job. And really, most people are good people. It sucks for Sam, but he’s being paid to do his job well, and it sounds like he’s failing at that.

      1. Carrington Barr

        Exactly. This is the same sort of BS that childfree people often face — “Oh, but we can’t fire Bob, he’s got 3 kids to support!”

        **Everyone** has obligations. Some people are just more … vocal about it than others.

          1. NacSacJack

            I am not a manager either, but something someone in HR told me once sticks with me during layoffs. Remember that the person (manager) on the other side of the table is a person too. And she told me to remember that remark applies all the way up to the CEO. Managers have to make decisions all the time that affect people . Those decisions, good and bad, impact the manager emotionally. The manager is going to feel bad about laying someone off or firing someone. They have emotions too. They have to deal with them in their own way.

          2. fposte

            Sure, but that’s why firing is tough–it’s rare that you’re firing a genuinely bad person, or somebody who’s privately rich and won’t be impacted by the loss of a paycheck.

            And the person who will have the job when he goes is likely also to be a good person who really needs the paycheck. Why should she not get to save for her retirement as well? I think for you this is hard because you’re only seeing that one person in front of you and not all the other relevant people. Which is fine, because you’re not the manager, and you can afford to do that. And you can always take the usual emotional shortcut and blame the manager :-).

            But from a management standpoint, not firing people (or managing them out) because you feel bad about what will happen to them is how you get a lot of the miserable work situations people write in about. Everybody in this situation is significant–your manager, your co-workers, your company, the person who will be hired; it’s not just about the guy who may be fired.

            1. Windchime

              This is a really good point to remember. Today was very, very rough. His code broke the build (again). There were several more confusing emails and trouble tickets, and then it was discovered that he is maintaining a copy of an old, deprecated database that was supposed to be retired a YEAR ago, and is still manually producing reports out of it. This could actually be the last straw; I think our big boss will probably come unglued (in his professional, mild-mannered way) when he hears this news.

        1. jag

          Yes everyone has obligations. Yes, some are more vocal than others. But some actually have more than others. They do.

          I’ve got money in the bank and for years had no dependents. I had less obligations than someone with a bunch of family members in another country who rely in part on remittances. That’s just true.

    2. yup

      I’m not a manager but perhaps, as his coworker, you can take him out to lunch and give him a heads up about what’s going on in an honest and genuine way. He would want to know (wouldn’t you?) so that he can go into his performance meeting already articulated what he’s going to do about it (whatever he can). Might save his job. Maybe he makes mistakes at work because he has so much going on at home, too, so he might need a reminder to get extra focused on his work quality for the moment.

      1. NacSacJack

        If Windchime is a manager too, or privy to discussions about his employment, he or she cannot give him a heads up.

        1. Windchime

          I’m not a manager but I can tell by the kinds of questions and documentation that I’m being asked for that steps are likely being taken. I have tried in all the ways I know to help him to succeed but it’s just not happening.

    3. Christian Troy

      Why is he writing a pile of spaghetti code? Does he not have the skill set for the job or is he doing poorly because of other reasons? Is it something more training or a workshop could address?

      I’m not a manager so I don’t know what the best course of action is but I agree with Christy. Everyone has financial consequences when they lose their job. Maybe Sam’s story is more obvious because he’s disclosed it, but it doesn’t meant other people aren’t facing similar hardships just because they haven’t articulated them.

      1. Windchime

        I’m not sure why he does things the way he does. I believe he’s just really old-school and isn’t able/willing to change. I can’t tell if he doesn’t understand of if he just doesn’t care. I am not his manager, but I am more senior to him. I have written countless documents with screen shots to help him, but I don’t think he ever looks at them. I have explained things over and over, and we have implemented many processes (that the whole team must follow) in an attempt to keep his work between the rails. Trainings and workshops don’t seem to have much impact; the only time I have been in training with him, I could tell that he wasn’t really absorbing anything.

        1. Sunflower

          I think this is the issue right here. Truth is, I totally get where you’re at and I’d feel the same way too. Is the writing on the wall as clear for Sam? The only thing I think you can do is take him out and explain if he refuses to change, he’s going to lose his job. That should be enough for him to change his ways if he really wants to keep his job.

          1. ThursdaysGeek

            I’ve worked with a Sam, and I don’t think he is able to change. Even if he knows he will lose his job. He will try to change, but I suspect he’s simply not capable. He’s learned how to do things one way, and isn’t cut out for the constantly shifting landscape of computer work.

            1. Windchime

              This is really what I suspect. It’s a shame, because he’s just such a good person. But it’s exhausting having to do my work and clean up his as well.

              1. Nicole

                I admire your concern for this person. Frankly, no matter how nice someone was, if they couldn’t or wouldn’t do the work required, I’d start to resent them and dislike them.

        2. Ezri

          I think I’d have more sympathy if Sam realized he was falling behind and was making an effort to improve, but it doesn’t sound like that’s happening. Does he know his job is at risk? You said you’ve provided trainings and guidelines, but has his manager told him directly that he’s not meeting the requirements of the role? If he thinks he’ll be kept on no matter what, I could see why he might not be motivated to improve.

    4. brightstar

      As a manager, you have to be focused on more than one person. Having to deal with this is probably affecting your entire team, and that has to be one of your priorities, the morale of the whole group. If your entire team is suffering because of one person, that has greater consequences than just one person having a hard time. Basically, it isn’t personal. You can think someone is a wonderful person who should be nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize but if they aren’t suited for that particular position and it’s affecting everyone else negatively, that has to be your concern more than “He’s such a great guy”. It doesn’t mean it’s easy, but you do have to be pragmatic.

      1. Windchime

        I agree with everything that you all have said. It’s just really sad to watch this slow-motion train wreck.

    5. Creag an Tuire

      Not a manager, but is there anything Sam does do well? Even if there’s no role for him anymore at your company, it may soften the blow a bit if you can tell him what kind of job he could excel in.

    6. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

      In these circumstances, and assuming that he had worked for the company for a number of years, AND that he’s co-operative and pleasant, I’d do my best to reposition him.

      Success rate is only about 50/50 when trying to reposition people, but it’s worth trying.

    7. AE

      There is certainly something that he can be trusted to do right, or right enough. His years with the company should have given him knowledge that can’t be duplicated, too. It may be for upper management to fix if he’s not a good fit for his current team. In many places a demotion in responsibility doesn’t necessarily mean a demotion in income, and even if it did, it would be more than unemployment compensation.

      1. Windchime

        I’m hoping that they can find another role for him, even if it’s a demotion. He’s certainly not functioning at the Senior level role that he currently occupies.

        1. SadManager

          I am a manager who had to fire a Sam once. Lovely guy, had been with the company forever and had family obligations. He was very knowledgeable, and could tell the team a lot about historical decisions. Unfortunately, the work he was doing poorly meant either someone else in the team picked up his slack, processes he worked on were a mess, or he gave customers incorrect information. I tried to work with on it, but at the end of the day it was the way he approached work and life more generally – he wasn’t able to change. Although I looked for other internal positions, the reality was that he would have bought the same “game” any where he was in the company. I was very sad to have to let him go, but have never regretted it – the team works better without him, and I was able to fill his position with someone who was a better fit.

    8. BeckyDaTechie

      How much is language a factor in his difficulties? Could that manner of help be part of a PIP to make one last-ditch effort and keeping a dedicated and long-time employee productive?

  29. Sophia in the DMV

    This is such an awful proposed bill because it would effectively make all faculty members managers. They don’t understand that service to the department, university and profession is both voluntary but also an expected part of the job. The three legs of being a faculty member are: research, teaching and service. Depending on where you work, there’s more emphasis on one or more over the others, but those are the pillars.

    https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2015/04/17/ohio-bill-would-effectively-bar-faculty-unions-public-colleges

    1. BeckyDaTechie

      And people wonder why I’m so proud to be *from* Ohio but don’t live there any longer. :(

  30. Violet Rose

    It’s Transphobia Week in my office this week! And when you start identifying weeks by which prejudice was most prominently on display, you know you’re in the wrong office.

    In short: I have tentatively suggested a few times now that we include an option for gender in addition to “male” and “female”, on the grounds of inclusivity. Based on this, I was asked who was left out, so I started giving examples. Truly, I probably could have explained myself a bit better, but I think even the most polished and persuasive proposals would have failed given what happened next:

    “Mid-transition” and “third gender” have become running jokes.

    Yup.

    As a cis woman, I’m not always the best judge of transphobia, but the whole situation made me feel gross. To make matters worse, I feel like I’ve gained the title of “PC Police” for even making the suggestion. I know now this is an office where I would NEVER feel comfortable being out, and that alone would be enough to nudge me towards the door.

    This is part of a long pattern of “everything that is not me”-ist behaviour from the CEO, and now others are joining in. This week has pushed me over the edge from “I’m having a difficult time with one of my higher-ups” to “I just want to be *gone*.”

    1. ZSD

      Yuck. In a perfect world, you’d be able to speak up about this and educate people, but I can see why that might just not be possible.
      But yuck.

      1. ZSD

        Oh, I hope it’s clear that I mean “yuck” to your colleagues’ behavior, not “yuck” to the people they’re making fun of.

    2. steve g

      I totally agree with the first paragraph. Everyone should be focusing on different things (more work related).

    3. nona

      Oh, gross.

      P.S. what if the options were replaced with a fill-in-the-blank? I can’t think of anyone who would complain about that.

      1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)

        There’s actually a lot of research/thinking available on how to handle gender identities on forms. Some folks feel that listing various identities helps to make it safe for trans* folks to identify themselves.

        My last employer did a lot of thinking on this. Last I saw, we included a pretty long list (Male, Female, Male to Female, Transgender, etc.) and an “Other:_______” option. But I definitely got pushback on that, too.

        1. nona

          IMO, that can single people out. For example, the options “female” and “male to female” force a differentiation between women who would both describe themselves as “female” and may not want to disclose anything past that.

          1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)

            Oh, sorry, yes – this was a list where you could check as many as you like.

            But more to the point, what I really meant to get across is that lots of folks with actual expertise in trans* advocacy have done a lot of thinking about this.

            1. Violet Rose

              Yeah, I did some reading up when I was trying to come up with an alternate proposal and found some really interesting stuff! Give the constraint of “at most three options or withheld,” I spent some time trying to think of a less alienating choice than “other” (since “decline to state” means just not making a selection). So far the best I can come up with is “neither”, which isn’t really accurate. I like “check all that apply”!

            2. nona

              OK, sounds good!

              I do have a lot of experience working and being involved in local LGBT community. My opinion here’s just based on that – no “expertise.” :)

              1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)

                Oh geez, I just realized that it sounded like I was sniping at your lack of “expertise.” I actually meant to emphasize MY lack of expertise. :)

                1. nona

                  Don’t worry, I didn’t read it that way! What I mean is – what I know about this is anecdotal.

    4. Ask a Manager Post author

      Gross. Are you comfortable speaking up and saying something like, “Joking about this is actually really offensive and a good way to create an unwelcome and hostile environment for people who might be different from you. Can you please stop?”

      1. Violet Rose

        Unfortunately, 90% of this comes from the CEO, and he has a long and documented history of alienating behaviour like this. I raised concerns with my manager re: some sexist undertones, and the upshot of the conversation was, “He’s hard to deal with sometimes, but he’s not going to change”. He did say come to him [manager] if he [CEO] said something really egregious, and I probably should try, but I have serious doubts that he’d even see why it was offensive.

    5. ThursdaysGeek

      Where are you suggesting including gender? For toilets? For job applications? It seems like there are some cases where it matters and others where it doesn’t.

      I’m not saying it’s ever ok to joke about it, although I’m not surprised. That’s often how people react when they are uncomfortable with a conversation.

      1. Violet Rose

        Ah, whoops, context would help! We’re looking to launch an, er, social media service (think snapchat or Twitter; something with accounts and basic profiles). Really, I think gender is only being collected for marketing, which frustrates me on a whole other level, but I can deal with my distaste for gendered marketing. The chief exec has been very adamant that there be only two options in the past – at one point, there was talk of making this required information, but fortunately, we went with “streamlined registration” instead

        1. ThursdaysGeek

          Yeah, in that case, if people are asked to identify, they should have options. It sounds like your company is trying to make sure their only customers are those who are completely comfortable with only two options being offered. And, uh, is that legal?

          1. Sarah in DC

            Unfortunately there are very few protections for people who don’t identify as either male or female, so in this case its almost certainly legal.

        2. The Strand

          Yeah, that makes a huge difference. Couldn’t “other” or “prefer not to answer” be offered? (many women don’t want to say so when they’re gaming, for one thing).

          What are competitors doing?

          1. Sunflower

            I like having both Prefer to not answer and Other:________. They can either fill in the other or just check other and leave it blank.

          2. Violet Rose

            At the moment, it’s a pair of buttons, only one of which can be selected at a time – and once you select, you can’t deselect. Now that a third button has been so soundly shot down, I’m hoping to persuade the lead programmer to at least allow deselection.

            Come to think of it, I’m not sure any of our competitors ask for gender at all. The service is targeted at groups of friends who know each other, rather than strangers, so the only purpose I see is collecting demographic data – which would be inaccurate with only two options anyway!

        3. Andrea

          Can it be a fill-in-the-blank question where users self-identify if they want, and can leave blank if they don’t?

          1. Violet Rose

            Ooh, I like the idea of including both the more generic “other” and “it’s complicated”.

      2. The Strand

        Too right. Is it a battle worth fighting?

        These jokes are hurtful and bad, but it’s because the coworkers and management are threatened and scared. It’s actually the baby steps like language that can be the most threatening, versus say, someone well-liked at work who might announce, “I’m transitioning”, who everyone won’t just joke away at. Those teaching moments will come.

        Whether something is a meaningful change, a need that has to be filled, versus something that you think makes the environment more “inclusive” are two very different things. If you want to see change, you really have to strategize about what you want and what will help your cause overall. Getting gay or queer people marriage and partner benefits will be a net good for them and their partners and children, and will go a long way to resolving how non-gender-conforming people are treated in the workplace. Moreso than telling people they have to use certain terms and not others. But you can’t tell people how to think, just how to act. That’s a lot easier if you have something for them to *react* to.

        I’ll never forget how upset a training class became when a very young, very well-meaning HR rep corrected a coworker in front of everyone and told him, ‘It’s not Deaf, it’s hearing impaired.” (She was, alas, full of it – there are many, many ‘hearing impaired’ persons who call themselves Deaf and consider it a distinct culture.) Cue about thirteen people at once saying, “I can’t say Deaf? Calling someone Deaf is offensive now? Since when is Deaf not OK?” And you know, do you think they thought at all, afterwards, about actual disability efforts they could do, like providing braille on signs, subtitles on videos, learning sign language, and making websites usable by the blind? No, they went back to their offices and coworkers and ranted about how the HR rep accused the man of prejudice.

        I’ll never forget a former boss’ reaction when I mentioned reaching out to the gay community in a service project we had been assigned. She took in a big, big breath and stifled. That told me that something minor and obvious was a fairly big deal to her. She doesn’t know (or want to know) that she has gay and bisexual people working for and alongside her. She had a clash with another coworker that had cultural differences at their core. Her boss? Not willing to work on disability related needs until the legal consequences of not following Section 508 were spelled out to her by people at higher paygrades. In that type of environment, I would wait until there was an egregious case of discrimination or bad behavior to speak up, because that’s where I think there would be an opportunity for growth.

    6. Enigma

      As someone who is trans, that is really gross and transphobic. I’m sorry you have to work with people like that. Good on you for suggesting other gender options, though. Even if your company won’t go for it, that’s awesome that you tried.

      1. Dynamic Beige

        As someone for whom this is an issue, what would you like to see? Not that I’m saying you could ever speak for every trans individual everywhere — but for myself, this is not a choice or situation that I would ever find myself in, so I’m just curious what, if anything, would be an acceptable way to handle this from your perspective? I can see that it’s kind of a double edged sword, it would be nice to be recognised, but that recognition might open people up to discrimination or worse.

        1. Enigma

          Hey sorry for the late reply- I hope you see this response!

          Personally (and like you said, I can only really speak for myself) I think it’s best handled with a wide variety of options to chose from. If you have a form where you can check “man” or “woman”, why not add other options like “trans”, “trans man”, “trans woman”, “non-binary”, etc.? If someone doesn’t want to out themselves, they can easily select “man” or “woman” and not worry about it. But it’s a lot less “othering” to have options spelled out for you, rather than just “man”, “woman”, and “other” and it makes it readily apparent that this is an organization who is up-to-date on gender issues and, on some level, cares about them. Which puts me more at ease in general.

          Also I know that, for me, I’d be more likely to write in my gender in an “other” space if there was already a wider variety of options available (I’m non-binary, for the record, which is not an option that is always available even on the best of forms). If there are half a dozen options for gender, I know that that place is more likely to be accepting and so I’m more likely to be open about my own gender. If I only see two options, I’m forced to go with the lesser of two evils and it immediately puts me on edge. Or, if it’s an optional survey or something I’m filling out, I’ll just stop answering.

  31. vecurabe

    Getting nervous about giving notice on Monday. My boss considers me a friend and brought me over from our previous company, but for the past two years, I’ve been absolutely miserable at this company. On the one hand, I feel like I’ve fixed all the very serious problems the company had, so I’m leaving them in a much better place. On the other hand, I think my boss was expecting me to let him know when I was thinking about leaving. Honestly, I knew since my first day I wouldn’t stay.

    Wish I’d felt comfortable telling him that I planned to leave, but I wasn’t sure how long it would take me to find my next job versus how long it would take him to find my replacement. Will be glad to the “giving notice” discussion over with.

    1. Not So NewReader

      Think of this as practice here. Try to come up with one or two things that you can sincerely thank your boss for. Sometimes miserable jobs teach us a lot, did you learn a lot on this job? Did you meet some good people? You got some experience in successfully fixing serious problems, can you work that into something that you are grateful for?

      If he mentions the timing, just say you are sorry, this just came up and you had hoped for better. Tell him you are willing to help with the change over as best you can.

      OTH, be prepared for surprises such as he tells you he is looking, also. Maybe this will not be as tough as you think.
      Good luck! And congrats on the new job.

  32. Jennifer

    This week, my country-music-playing coworker *finally* got told she has to use headphones. She is not happy about it (keeps grumbling about the headphones and that “it’s so quiet”, but has been relatively not super pouty about it, so that’s nice. Still has it on before 8 a.m./when she can get away with it, though. And she still sings along.

    Well, what can you do. But I’ve managed to go a few days without HEY BARTENDER! screeching at me 4 times a day, so that’s something!

    1. Snoskred

      Jennifer – YAY re the lack of “Hey Bartender” in your ears, I will hope it can continue for a long time, with the only possible exception being in a restaurant with an actual bar. :)

      1. Jennifer

        Oh, now she’s sneaking turning the radio on when the boss isn’t here.

        So much for THAT.

    2. Beezus

      Uhhh, did you send her to work with me? Because my open-plan strictly no-music office has someone playing country music right this minute. I even like country, but I don’t want to listen to someone else’s music when I am trying to concentrate and finish up my day.

  33. TheLazyB

    Yay open thread time!

    So I took voluntary redundancy at the end of March. It was a really hard decision but definitely the right one to make, but I was really scared that I’d become one of those people who was unemployed for 6 months or a year, especially as I was pretty well paid for what I did before (PA) and want to move into a new sector – public health.

    I’ve applied for three jobs so far, and amazingly, I’ve been offered two of them!!! Amazing I know (and clearly I was wasted on my previous employer haha). I’m taking one that is working for a really flexible employer and will be working 2 days from home (which I’ve never been able to do before – again, yay!).

    But – my son is nearly four, and I’ve been working part time since he was born. So, I’m after hints on three things:
    1) how to transition back into full time employment after not working full time for a long time – my last day of full time work was 31st May 2011!
    2) how to support my son into dealing with me going from part time to full time. I’m very much an attachment parent and it will be hard on us both. Oh, and anything to consider that might make that transition easier for me too :-/ (my husband might reduce his hours a bit to compensate, which would be fab)
    3) how to deal with remote working! As far as I can tell only one member of my team will be based in the same office as me and she will be new too (same role). I’m really pleased that she’ll be based with me and we can work together but the rest of my team will be far away. I’ll travel to team meetings and we have meetings where I can dial in and all that – the organisation is really set up for that kind ofthing – but it’s totally new to me so anything that will help me or anything I might not have thought of would be fab.

    THanks in advance to anyone who can help!

    1. The Cosmic Avenger

      The nice thing about attachment parenting is that you usually get very secure little people who will probably handle being apart from you better than you will handle being apart from them! I am not sure what to suggest except letting him get used to the daycare setting or whatever/whoever the new care arrangements will entail.

      The third item is the one I have the most experience with, and in short, start off with an in-person team meeting ASAP, and try to get everyone webcams.

      See, I’m sure everyone has had an email or blog comment misconstrued, and part of that is the lack of context. You don’t know me, so you don’t know my intentions, how I joke, whether I’m sarcastic or a rah-rah cheerleader, and it’s hard to have that kind of context without having spoken to someone in person. When I ran bulletin boards and web forums, I always tried to meet with my fellow moderators and community managers, and I found that it went MUCH more smoothly after that.

      And the webcams are a big help even when you do know each other. You know how different it is to participate in a conference call than it is to be in the room? Video conferencing solves 90% of that. You can see peoples’ reactions, you can see who is squirming in their seat, and you can tell whether it’s out of boredom or out of eagerness to contribute. We had offsite staff that had been onsite previously, and they LOVED being videoconferenced into the physical conference room where most of us were meeting in person. They felt much more involved and heard.

      Good luck!

      1. TheLazyB

        Wrt my son – Luckily he can go full time where he’s been every morning for 3 years :) so that’s fab and will help.

        Re the third point – THANK YOU! That’s really helpful :)

        1. april ludgate

          I worked at a daycare for awhile and one of the best things you could do to ease your son’s transition is to find out the schedule the daycare follows for meals and naps and start him on that schedule now if you can. That way his body will at least be used to eating and sleeping on daycare time so he won’t lay awake half of naptime and falling asleep during playtime. I saw more kids struggle with adapting physically than emotionally. And if he’s already familiar with the daycare it will only make for a smoother transition. Good luck!

    2. OriginalEmma

      PA – personal assistant or physician’s assistant? Either way, congratulations! Public health is a great field!

    3. The IT Manager

      Find someone (or someones) to mentor/guide you that you can call and talk to to help you navigate the virtual team. Use IM frequently for those questions you would turn to a co-worker and ask. Also IM is a great help during meetings when you as the newbie needs context (to include “who’s talking now?” until you learn people’s voices).
      Take advantage of those face-to-face meetings to build relationships that you can leverage when you’re virtual. Maybe start virtual meetings with small talk to try to get to know your team members a bit more fully. I have been on teams where that was the norm, and on teams where the talk is all professional and you often never get to know anything about anyone besides how they work. I think the small talk and sharing is important for relationship building. But most of all follow the team culture.

      1. TheLazyB

        Oh wow thanks for that. I’ve literally never had access to IM in work before so i might struggle to remember it even existsatfirst :)

        1. The IT Manager

          For us IM is the equivalent of asking the the person next to you a questions. They can ignore you if they’re on a call or busy, but your question doesn’t get buried in email.

  34. A

    A bit unsure what to do here….

    I am a University student with a new part time job in retail. When I applied for the job, I gave my availability as 8am-8pm on the 5 days of the week where I don’t have class which they agreed to. I gave these hours because I am 100% reliant on public transport and in my city, it doesn’t start running until 7am, unless I walk 2km in the dark to get a night bus from a very sketchy area which is full of nightclubs. Now they are giving me 5am shits to unpack delivery and I have no way of safely getting there unless I pay for a taxi and I’m now spending half of what I make for the 5 hour shifts on the cab fare to get there. When I’ve tried to approach this with management, I’ve been told to ‘deal with it’.

    How can I handle this? It’s affecting my budget, I’m annoyed they went back on what we agreed to AND I’m extremely annoyed at the lack of safety considerations for me as a young female employee.

    I’ve resigned myself to looking for a new job, but I’ve only been at this one about 3 months, how do I handle it without looking like a ‘job hopper’?

    1. matcha123

      I think that in university, with part-time jobs of this sort, no one expects you to be there long. There aren’t many jobs that students have that last for the long-term. And if someone asks you about it, you can tell them that the commute and schedule didn’t work out and you decided it would be best to find something closer/etc.

    2. thisisit

      i wouldn’t worry about the jobhopper bit since you are at university and it’s assumed you work around your school schedule. did you get the 8am start time in writing?

    3. MsM

      You’re allowed a couple of non-starter jobs, particularly early in your career. And it’s totally fine to say that management insisted you do regular shifts outside the availability you’d provided. It may even wind up being a good way to flag other employers who are going to jerk you around like this before you find yourself in a similar situation again.

    4. Dawn

      You told management that you can only work 8am to 8pm five days a week, yet by showing up for your 5am shifts you are proving that wrong. So stop showing up to 5am shifts! Tell management that you can no longer show up for 5am shifts, period end of sentence, so you will have to be scheduled between 8am and 8pm, and can they accommodate that. And if they cannot, then leave.

      “Job hopping” like we talk about it here tends to be more about professionals who leave an established workplace after only a year or two multiple times over. I doubt anyone will hold any part time retail work you did in college against you- hell, I didn’t even list that stuff on my resume after I graduated.

    5. Jennifer

      This sounds like every retail job I’ve ever heard of. It doesn’t matter WHAT you put down as availability, they will give you whatever shifts you specifically told them you could not make.

      Can you get a job at your college? Those are the only places that will respect flexible scheduling.

      1. nonegiven

        My niece had 3 small part time jobs on campus, at the same time. One was a reception desk, one was grading papers, I think.

    6. Retail Lifer

      Dealt with this for my entire life! I’m a manager, so I have to jump when they say jump, and they sometimes require me to jump before or after public transportation is running. However, I’m full-time, a manager, and making an OK salary, so taking Uber now and then can be expected of me. It’s completely different with part-time associates, though. From a common sense standpoint, they hired you knowing you were in school and thus had limited availability and they were willing to work with that. They have managed to not schedule you while you have class, so they should be able to manage not scheduling you outside of your other requirements.

      Keep in mind, though, that people that don’t take public transporation don’t have to worry about these things themselves, so it legitimately might never have occurred to them that you can’t get there before or after a certain time. Speak up. Take a bus schedule and show them if you need to. Ensure that they know that if there is a mandatory meeting or an occassional special project taking place during off hours that you would be happy to spring for a cab, but it’s not something you can afford regularly.

      If they don’t agree, then find another job. You have an entirely valid reason for leaving. Just make sure you’re clear and up front in your next interview about what you can and can’t do. Some managers will not be willing to work with you on that, and it’s better to find that out before you start.

      1. Dynamic Beige

        I do something similar with my clients, because rush hour around here is insane but, the train schedule isn’t nice and neat. If someone wants me to be there for 9am, it requires some mental gymnastics to figure out what train, how long to walk/take transit. Sometimes I ask if it’s OK if I’m a few minutes past the hour when I know (or suspect) that being there on the dot isn’t crucial and explain that I will be coming on the train, it gets in at X time, sometimes it’s delayed. Usually, they’re OK with that, but it’s good to know when they’re not so I can adjust accordingly.

    7. The Strand

      Don’t worry about it. I went through something like this at the beginning of my career, was treated like crap, quit, and it didn’t hurt me in the long run. (In my case, after being hired for daytime (yes, in writing), I was told to work the graveyard shift… in a sketchy area with nightclubs and no transportation.)

      You’re in college so some shorter positions are expected. Just be factual if you get asked about it: “I was looking for a standard 8 to 5 position during school. They suddenly switched my schedule, and had me coming in at 5 AM before transportation was available, in a transitional neighborhood.” Many, many people will just nod in recognition – and not have a problem.

      More importantly, quit spending your earnings on taxi cabs. Be firm with them and if you have to, quit. Go sign up with a temporary staffing firm and explain you can only work normal daytime hours; then sign up with some others. Call in every morning until they offer you a basic (one day) assignment, then do well. They’ll offer you something longer if you keep at it.

      1. Anx

        The only problem with that, I see, is that you have to get to the interview stage before you can explain that.

        I am not sure if this person is in university right out of high school, or if they have a longer history of having part-time work that may look a little job hoppy.

        1. fposte

          It’s still really not likely to matter once they graduate. It’s pretty rare to put pre-college jobs on a post-college resume.

    8. AE

      Leaving when you have a good story is a good way to leave. Plus, when you interview for your next job, telling them that you’re quitting because of the early schedule pretty much guarantees the new place won’t do that to you. Your current employer was dishonest with you. There’s no shame in leaving them.

    9. Cee

      Yeah, I wouldn’t worry too much about the job hopper thing working part-time in school. It only really applies when you’re out in the full-time workforce. Are there any work-study and/or campus jobs you can apply for? Those tend to be really good about working with your class schedule.

  35. Trixie

    Looking at a new PT gig contributing to a blog (!). Short contract to start with, see how it goes on both ends, and then a longer contract after that. This is extremely vague but what kinds of things should I keep in mind when looking at contract work? I specified some things in my quote. I know the company/staff really well and am confident we’ll tackle any issues together until we find a solution we’re both happy with. But short-term contracts are new to me.

    1. thisisit

      make sure you have a very clear statement of work that indicates what your responsibilities are.

      are you getting paid by the hour? by the deliverable? is there a fixed start/stop date? is there flexibility for meeting deadlines?

      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        And what’s the timeline for payments? You want that spelled out so that you have something to point to if suddenly there’s a long lag for payment.

  36. Alison with one L

    I’ve recently realized how much I truly love my job. I’m doing meaningful work, learning more than I ever expected, regularly given more and more responsibility, and contributing to the public in a meaningful way (healthcare -field). I get regular positive and constructive feedback from my managers. Honestly, I’m really happy.

    What I want to ask about is for my husband. He is not currently happy with his position. His manager says things to cut him down and remove his pride and “ownership” of his own work/projects. He sees a lot of issues in the company culture that I’m not sure can be readily changed. I don’t know how to help him. Has anyone had any success with changing an attitude towards a bummer workplace?

    He wants to stay for at least a few more years before he gets his PE and starts out on his own. What can he/I do to become happier with his work in the mean time?

    1. Lyra Belacqua

      Not to sound super hippy-dippy, but I’ve actually found mindfulness-type books and meditations to be really helpful in recognizing where I’m identifying with something ephemeral or where my ego is causing suffering. I’ve been working in a boring office environment with some territorialism that I wasn’t used to, and it’s helped me to remind myself that my job is not my identity, etc. I actually just finished reading Eckhart Tolle’s book “A New Earth”, and it had a lot of nice insights. It starts out kind of obnoxiously but it gets better as you go.

    2. Not So NewReader

      Pretty much he can only change himself since the situation is not fixable.
      Is there anyway he can accelerate his plans? Is there another job he could take for the interim?

      Explain to him that his unhappiness at work is a quality of life issue and ask him which is more important- the job or the quality of life?

      My husband was at a job for eight years that was miserable. The last three years I nagged. I think he got sick of listening to me. Explain to him that the damage from jobs like this stays with us longer than we expect. Is it worth it??

  37. TheLazyB

    And a question for my fellow UK readers!

    It’s always strange to me when on here I hear tales of people being interviewed and even getting offers without then ever hearing anything again. I have always had a phone call or email from an interview, whether good news or bad. Have I just been really lucky, or do UK people in general find this?

    FWIW I’ve always worked in the public sector, but had interviews for both that and the private and third sectors.

    1. Elkay

      Post interview I’ve always heard but I’ve definitely had some applications go into a black hole.

      1. TheLazyB

        Oh most of my applications have gone into some black hole. But once I’m interviewed people do seem to come back to me.

    2. Macedon

      You’ve been really lucky. This sort of oversight is increasingly contagious, and big name companies I’d have thought weaned on PR & etiquette have taught me differently.

    3. Xarcady

      One interview went really well. I followed up three weeks later and was told they were still interviewing, but that I was definitely in the running for one of the three positions they had open. Then silence.

      I found out months later that they reduced the three positions to one, and hired back someone they had fired two years before.

      Nothing better for the ol’ self-esteem than realizing they’d rather hire back someone they fired than hire you.

    4. Short and Stout

      Nope. I once travelled 200 miles and paid my own B&B costs to interview with someone I knew from a previous job and never heard back. This was for a very small company without a HR department.

    5. Carrie in Scotland

      I’ve had a bunch of applications go into the dark, dark space vortex but I think almost all of my interviewers have followed up in some way or another: either by phone (both successful and rejection), email or letter (!! – which by that point I’d figured out I wasn’t getting it).

    6. Cristina in England

      I’ve never had an application get to interview stage and not heard back. You’re not alone!

    7. Maisie

      Most of my black hole applications were to minimum wage jobs in retail/call centres etc.

      I work in the third sector, almost all charities got back to me in a reasonable time, but they usually worked with well known recruiting firms like GoodMoves or Bruce Tait.

  38. SickOfBossyBoots

    How do you deal with ‘bossy boots’ in the workplace in a way that is firm but also still respectful?

    I’m an ‘older’ retail employee (I’m 25 and doing University studies later in life) but easily pass for 18 and look the same age as my colleagues. For some reason, many of them have taken to bossing me around, which I actually find quite insulting given they are on my level and 7 years younger than me (none of them are supervisors in any capacity, just kids wanting to feel important) and the fact they often give orders and then don’t do anything themselves. I don’t want to cause drama in the Workplace, but I’m starting to get incredibly sick of these kids, how can I handle it?

    1. Alison with one L

      I read this, and I approach it with the opposite perspective from you. I’m significantly younger than most people in my same stage in life and certainly most of my colleagues. When you say that you are “insulted” that these people are giving you “orders”, it comes across that you feel that you’re above these “kids” because you’re older than them. If you’re truly peers at work, then your reaction shouldn’t be impacted by the age of any of your colleagues.

        1. SickOfBossyBoots

          Plus it’s the fact that these people are not in any way above me at work. Classic case of ‘you’re not in charge of me….stop ordering me around’

      1. SickOfBossyBoots

        I don’t like being spoken to in a condescending tone by anyone. The fact they’re much younger than me just makes it all the more insulting somehow. It makes me feel like they think I’m particularly ‘useless’ for my age and can’t do anything without guidance even though I can and that I’m not useless.

        1. Alison with one L

          To me, it sounds like you’re feeling this way. I doubt these coworkers have that attitude about you, especially if you say you look younger than you are. But you need to remember, you have worth just by being you, not to mention you are going back to school. That’s awesome and you’re rocking it.

        2. yup

          I’d write it off as they may be inexperienced and they may suck at work interpersonal skills. Besides, you have more things going for you than this retail job. I’d just let it be entertaining to you while you’re there (here comes the bossy one! and just smile at them).

        3. Anx

          I do think you need to treat them like they’re equals (it’s obvious that they are not).

          I have run into some similar issues, mostly with college students. They assume that anyone worth anything will find a professional job right after college (which was right after high school) and look down on anyone who is doing this later in life.

          The biggest challenge for me was not stooping to their level and pulling out the ‘you’ll see one day’ card or anything.

          Two things that helped me with being less annoyed by it was feeling better about myself for not having behaved that way at a similar age (it would drive me nuts when friends talked down about older workers doing the same work we did; I wish I had spoke up) and reminded myself that I don’t necessarily want to be ‘in’ with them in the first place. It’s always good to get along with your coworkers and fit in, but I made sure not to let getting looked down upon by the ‘cool kids’ get to me.

    2. HeyNonnyNonny

      Assuming you already have your own set of assigned tasks, can you just respond with ‘Sorry, [Manager] has already tasked me with doing [x].’ Or even just, ‘Sorry, my plate is already full.’

      You can say it quite sweetly, while reminding them that you have your own responsibilities that are not under their control.

    3. Xarcady

      If you look the same age as your colleagues, how do they know you are older?

      If you’ve been telling them you are older, why? What were you hoping to accomplish? It could be that they think you are telling them that you are better than them because you are older, and this is the way they have chosen to retaliate.

      If they don’t know how old you are, on the other hand, then they aren’t bossing you around because you are older. They are treating you as the peer you are.

      Watch their interactions with each other. Do they say the same sort of things to each other? Then that is just part of the culture where you are working now.

    4. The Strand

      They sound childish and insecure. Secure people don’t need to throw their weight around, while insecure blowhards are always trying to test boundaries.

      Be firm, polite and pick your battles.

    5. Shell

      They’re younger than you age-wise, but are they senior to you work-wise? You said they’re not supervisors, but do they have seniority on you?

      Senior coworkers–by tenure and by title–often have said or unsaid power to delegate to junior employees. If you’re busy with stuff, let them know that, and if they’re particularly snotty you can call them out on that too. But the fact that they’re younger in age doesn’t necessarily mean they can’t tell you what to do.

    6. Not So NewReader

      Retail is a lot of drama.

      You can chose to ignore them.
      You can chose to counter with, “Okay, I will take care of A and you take care of B”. (This one works so well it’s amazing.)
      You can go to the manager and explain that people are giving out orders and you are concerned about it.

      The rest is self-adjustment.
      Every other time you hear a condescending tone, chose to overlook it.
      Decide that as you age, more and more people are going to be younger than you and this is prep for that time.
      Realize that people do not always know how they sound. Matter of fact, we don’t know how we sound to other people. Try to understand that they could be responding to something they perceive in you.

      It could be that this place totally sucks and you just need to get out, that is also a possibility.

    7. BeckyDaTechie

      “I know how to do my job, thanks,” in a rather bored tone often does the trick with people who are truly inexperienced and don’t realize they sound like a jerk. However, you can only get away with that if you do, in fact, know the task in question to 100% of the manager’s expected level. You might try “I’ve got a handle on it, but if I need help I’ll ask.” By not specifying *who* you intend to ask, you’re leaving the window open to talk to a manger directly and review with her/him what the right way is. I also encouraged my register and floor associates to come to me directly if a non-manager corrected or inserted themselves because I’d rather teach them how to do it right 2-3 times than have 2-3 other people simply teach an associate how to do it wrong in a different way. (Bloody price-tags…)

  39. squids

    About to give a public presentation about some aspects of my work. Half hour before I head over there. I’ve done this sort of thing before, but it’s always a bit nervewracking. I’m a chronic over-preparer and I am not sufficiently over-prepared for this…

      1. yup

        +1 for the TED power body language video.

        it actually does kind of work…if you need to psych yourself up

    1. squids

      All went well — had a full room, and despite a few “I can’t think of the word I want” moments it was overall well received.

  40. MsChanandlerBong

    Can any of you recommend some good resources (books, workshops, etc.) for someone who wants to be more concise and speak in a more professional manner? My husband is very intelligent, but that often gets lost in the fact that he takes three paragraphs to say what could have been said in two sentences. When we talk to other people, I can sometimes sense them losing interest because it takes him forever to make his point.

    BTW, I’m not some mean wife complaining about her husband; he asked me to post about this because he realizes his current style is detrimental to his professional prospects. He has a bachelor’s degree, but he’s been working low-wage factory jobs since he graduated. I think part of the problem is that he doesn’t give concise answers to interview questions/make a great impression when networking.

    1. Dawn

      I loved “Mastering Communication at Work” by Becker and Wortmann. It’s aimed at managers in some ways but it helped me understand how people communicate and how people need to be communicated to- and it lays out how to learn how people need to be communicated to. It’s short and simple but extremely useful.

      1. DaBlonde

        Second the Toastmasters suggestion. They have varied lengths of speeches and a designated timer at each meeting so your husband can practice making his point succinctly.

    2. Kimberlee, Esq.

      See if he can internalize an 8 second rule. I taught myself to speak fairly quickly and concisely in junior high because I had a particularly jokey, talkative group of friends. I was getting frustrated because they would *constantly* interrupt me and each other, but nobody else seemed to notice or care.

      So for a few days, I more or less stopped talking, and started counting when any of them started talking, and took mental note of how long one person could speak before being interrupted by someone else. The mode seemed to be 8 seconds. So, if I didn’t have a thought I could adequately express in 8 seconds, I skipped it. It really helped me take things town to brass tacks and, honestly, I think it still shapes my speaking today.

    3. The Strand

      Improvement of his writing probably wouldn’t hurt, either.

      Even Twitter, or trying to write haiku poetry is a good way to practice concise communication. (WRT Twitter, w/o the shorthand or cutesy speak, OK, L8er?)

      Sometimes it’s not about speaking more professionally, but knowing your audience. It starts by being a better listener. If you listen better, you pick up the speaking styles and expressions – as well as the ideas – of other people and adjust accordingly. With this person you say, “I feel that…” … while this person over here wants to hear numbers. He may want to think about learning how to read people better. Or he might consider what field he’s in and whether it attracts certain types of communicators. There are fields where his communication style may be valued.

      “Emotional Intelligence” and “You Just Don’t Understand” are two books I’d recommend for him to read.

  41. Shell

    Posted this in the wrong open thread last week–sorry, Alison!

    Workplace linguistics question: I know the term “secretary” is outdated, and the current term is “administrative assistant”, “office administrator”, and similar. However, I’ve seen people’s backs up over the term “secretary”; is there a particular reason why? It sounds outdated because it is outdated, but I don’t know if there are implications that I’m not aware of. It doesn’t sound any more offensive than, say, “personal assistant”.

    What’s so viscerally annoying about “secretary”?

    1. fposte

      I’m interested in this too. I personally feel like the annoyance is misplaced and that it’s a tad disrespectful to secretaries, even if you’re young enough that you’ve never encountered secretaries as the term for administrative assistants.

    2. HeyNonnyNonny

      I think part of it is that ‘secretary’ is so gendered today, while ‘administrative assistant’ doesn’t have the same baggage. But that’s just me.

    3. some1

      It’s outdated because back when the term was used, it was almost exclusively women who weren’t seen as educated or skilled.

      I have never heard the term in my working life not used derisively, i.e. the time a high-level can’t believe she was mistaken for “just a secretary”

      1. TheLazyB

        But secretary can also denote a really high-level position – corporate secretary. Or in the UK senior government ministers are ‘secretary of state’. Maybe that’s why in the UK it’s a muddier picture?

      2. Shell

        How is that any different from a person saying “just an admin”, though? I think the majority of admins are still women.

        To be clear, I don’t agree with derisiveness towards admins at all. I’m just not seeing how “admin” and its ilk is any better than “secretary”.

        1. yup

          I dunno I guess “admin” has more of an “I’m in charge” connotation in American parlance in the office environment. Totally agree with previous posters that Secretary is also a top-level title. A Secretary of an agency I worked for before was a 2* (Major General) in the army. Apparently a rank that has you leading upwards of 15,000 people.

      3. Ask a Manager Post author

        But not using “secretary” for that reason reinforces the whole problem — it signals that there’s something “less than” about the work, so we’re going to use a different word to cover that up.

          1. fposte

            There’s that great Miss Manners answer to a woman who was tired as being summed up as “just a” secretary–Miss Manners said the questioner should draw herself up proudly and say “Oh, no, you’re mistaken; I started out as ‘just a’ secretary, but now I’m a full secretary.”

      4. fposte

        Right, but that’s saying something about the high-level person, too, and I doubt she’d have been happier to have been mistaken for an administrative assistant.

        And I was in the workforce when that was the regular term, and it definitely was not limited to women who weren’t educated or skilled.

        1. Cat

          And tangential, but I don’t actually think high level women are upset about being mistaken for secretaries or administrative assistants because they don’t value that work – or at least, not all of them. It’s because there are still people in the workforce who assume that men are professionals and women are not, and that’s really frustrating. There’s nothing wrong with being an assistant but someone who assumes the woman he’s talking to is an assistant and the man is her boss is being offensive for reasons having nothing to do with the dignity of being an assistant.

    4. MsChanandlerBong

      I don’t have a problem with the word. In fact, my mother is a medical secretary, her job title is medical secretary, and her name tag says “medical secretary.” If anything, I think people who insist that secretary is a demeaning term are actually being demeaning toward people who still hold the title.

    5. anonima in tejas

      also, what do you when your coworker’s position title is ____ secretary. Do you ignore it? call them an admin instead? I get dirty looks for doing either or both.

    6. Steve G

      I may be wrong but I always thought secretary = more writing/typing/note-taking/filing, Admin Assistant is those things but more phone/spreadsheet work

    7. MaryMary

      Related, can someone help me with the exact iob title for a PA? It’s come up several times on this site when discussing administrative positions.

    8. The Office Admin

      As an office manager, I would infinitely prefer the term secretary over office manager or office administrator or office assistant or any other politically correct phrase out there, especially because each of those titles has an undercurrent of hiererarchy, pay and status to me.
      And I should add, I’m 26 and female. I see no feminine connotations in the word secretary and find it more annoying and offensive having to explain what my job entails as opposed to just saying: I’m a secretary.
      Speaking of, I’ve applied to two Fed secretary positions over the last couple of weeks and the one I applied to on Monday closes today, you better believe my fingers are crossed!!

    9. The Strand

      I think that secretary has that connotation of potentially being part of the “typing pool”, floaters who are all at the same level… People do still use the phrase “just a secretary”. Interesting thoughts here as well – http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=112496

      Having a title like “medical secretary” or “legal secretary” designates that this is someone with specialist knowledge.

      Administrative assistant, on the other hand, conveys that this person keeps the administration (or administrators) running. It may make it easier for those folks to climb into the management of a business, and to be acknowledged as the people who *run* that business.

      1. Ihmmy

        ^^ this right here.
        Sadly I don’t even get ‘administrative’ in my official title, I’m a ‘clerical assistant’ but I work in a pretty great environment and have a good amount of autonomy

    10. Sunflower

      Good question. I’ve always wondered why the term steward or stewardess stopped being used? I’m 26 and only remember them being called ‘flight attendants’. When I heard older people say stewardess I had no idea what it was.

      1. Cordelia Naismith

        It’s because it’s a gendered term. “Flight attendant” is gender neutral.

  42. bad at online naming

    Anyone have tips or tricks for working closely with someone you just plain dislike, who is also not a high performer?

    I’ve worked not-closely with people I’ve disliked before, and it wasn’t bad at all, but it’s a strain to interact with this person every single day, often multiple times per day.

    Some of this dislike is just, well, I don’t like everyone, and some of it is the experience of repeatedly spending hours/days cleaning up after this person’s incompetence a few months ago – even if partially it was their management’s fault for not training them nearly enough – and some further awkward history.

    My manager knows that I’m not thrilled, but can do nothing.

    But someone else picked up on my dislike without explanation, which clearly means I’m not trying hard enough to get along. Help?

    1. NJ anon

      I have a really hard time working with people I don’t respect. I don’t have to like them but if they are incompetent, it makes me crazy. I just try to stay professional.

      1. Not So NewReader

        This is right on. Find something you both can agree on. Ideally, it should be the work itself.

        I worked with a woman that was the total opposite of me. You name it- if I said day she said night, if I said left she said right. UGH. We worked fine together. Because we both agreed about the work itself. Here’s how bad it was, we could not even take a break together because we had absolutely nothing to say to each other. We had nothing in common.

        Look for things you both agree on, start there.

    2. It's tired, and I'm late

      Going through this too right now. The person I don’t get along with just sent an email to an external person (copying me) that was full of grammatical errors and typos, and I am unreasonably irked by it.

      What I’ve been trying is to make an effort to recognize things this person does or says that are good. So if they say something in a meeting that makes sense, or do something helpful, or even if I just like their shoes that day, I’ll make a point of thinking “So-and-so did well there”. It’s helping… a little bit. I still don’t trust them as far as I can spit them, but that’s a whole other story.

  43. MK2000

    Any tips for a potential negotiation? I’ve received notice from the search committee that I’m the candidate they’ve selected for the hire (yay!), and now I’m waiting for the package from HR.

    Relevant details: the job is 20 hours a week, part of a state college system, and it offers benefits. Some salaries are public record but not all, so I can’t tell how much, for example, my supervisor makes because he’s new enough to the job that he’s not in the published data. The job posting listed a salary range spanning $12k (I assume it’s the entire pay band for the job category), the top of which would be absurdly high when you calculate the hourly rate it represents, but the very bottom of which would be too low to accept. I basically have no idea what ballpark salary offer to expect.

    I have more than a decade of experience in higher ed, so I know I could justify my request for negotiation, but I’ve read all of the AAM archives about salary negotiation and don’t want to sound tone-deaf and botch the process. If I feel that the offer is too low, what is a reasonable percentage increase to request? Can one negotiate PTO at a state institution? My last positions were grant-funded so all of that was set. I’d appreciate any feedback from you insightful commenters!

    1. thisisit

      advice i was given was not to counter with a percentage, but with an actual amount, presumably one that you would then move down from and to your settle point. so if they offer 50K, you counter with 70K because you’d really like 60K. (these are example numbers – you should make the gaps smaller or bigger as you’d like, keeping in mind the pay band).

      also i’ve been told that everything is negotiable, but in practice that’s institution-specific. if they won’t budge on salary, you could always ask if there’s room for negotiation on certain benefits. in which case, be prepared to say what you’d like.

      1. MK2000

        Thanks for the feedback! I wouldn’t actually say “I want 9% more!” But I’d read a post where commenters were saying that asking for 20% more than the offer (say, asking for $60k after a $50k offer) made the candidate look out of touch. With a half-time salary, it doesn’t take many dollars to reach 15 or 20%, so I was just curious if there was a specific guideline that I should keep in mind so I didn’t look naive or unreasonable.

        1. thisisit

          well you are working with a specified salary band? so i wouldn’t extend beyond that.

          another thing i was told was to put all your requirements on the table at the same time, and not one by one as they agree to things.

  44. SaraV

    So I’m going on 3.5 years of being unemployed/underemployed. (1.5 years unemployed, 2 years underemployed) This came about because of moving for my husband’s job without a job lined up for myself.

    I would really like to get back to working a full-time job, but I have to wonder if my underemployment (about 25 hrs/wk on average between two jobs) might be hurting me in some way. Not to mention, my two jobs don’t have very many similarities with what I’d like to do.

    Am I incorrect in thinking this?

    1. Valar M.

      Depends on your field. I’ve been in the same boat, and have managed to get fully employed again and get offers. It’s very important that you use any time unemployed or underemployed finding ways to stay as involved as possible in your field of choice. Volunteering, participating in groups or conferences, taking classes, and the like. It makes a difference.

      1. yup

        +1 for volunteering or taking a college class to fill your gap in your hours. 25 hours a week isn’t very much work.

    2. Anx

      I am in a similar boat, but I have never had full-time permanent employment to begin with.

      I gave up on volunteering after a few years. It was just so expensive. Conferences, classes, etc. all cost money and all ended up being dead ends. If you have the means, it may be worth while. People swear by it. For me, though, it eventually left me more grumpy and defeated.

      I had to let some professional licenses lapse because I never got a job in that field. I ended up going back to school on loans. It may or may not help my employment, but it definitely helped my mental health, even if it’s only temporary.

  45. Sadsack

    Anyone have any recommendations for improving listening skills?

    At times, I have a difficulty taking verbal instructions. I was recently working on a project in a fast-paced setting where the nature of it required for someone else to tell me what steps to take at certain intervals. He’d give me some instruction, but each time I would forget some small details. It was frustrating for both of us. I asked for feedback after the project was completed. He said that it seemed like, as he was telling me the steps, my mind was already moving to the next step and I wasn’t really focused on what he was asking me to do in the moment. It is very useful for me to know this, but now how do I improve in this area? I have noticed that I do this on other occasions and I really want to improve.

    Thanks for any suggestions!

    1. gloria

      Can you carry a small notebook + pen with you, and if someone is about to give you instructions take a moment to get it out and say you want to jot some notes down so you can make sure you’ve got all the important detail? I don’t know what degree of fast-paced you’re talking about but if it’s doable, it might help increase your focus and also demonstrate to the person you’re listening to that you are in fact paying attention.

    2. BRR

      Do you write things down? I used to think I was good with verbal instructions. Key words being used to.

      1. Sadsack

        BRR and gloria, yes, I normally write things down. But there are moments when that is not possible. Even going from the instruction being given to the act of writing it down, I may miss a detail that seems like I couldn’t possibly forget it. Maybe that answers my own question – write down every single detail. But, there still are times when that won’t happen. I guess I was looking for some online tutorials or discussions, or other exercises to help me learn to retain all details when they are given verbally.

    3. fposte

      In addition to the writing down, what about asking for a “repeat back” phase, where you repeat what you heard and noted back to make sure you got the steps all down?

      1. yup

        +1 for writing stuff down and repeating it back to the trainer for verification. This shows them that you’re doing your best to pay attention, even if you won’t get it 100% perfect after the first training. At the end you can quickly re-cap all the stuff you wrote down and if there’s a gap your trainer can fill it in, so that it’s not a problem down the road.

    4. Amber Rose

      Try repeating them back out loud. It’s easier to remember what you say than hear. Even just whispering under your breath.

      Practice at home too. Listen to like, a youtube instruction video and practice memorizing steps/repeating them back.

      1. Sadsack

        fposte and Amber Rose, I actually did do that some of the time, but I think my problem is even though i am saying it, my mind is actually on to something else! Maybe I just need to slow down some times.

    5. Florida

      Join Toastmasters. Toastmasters is designed to improve your public speaking skills, but it will improve your listening skills. In each meeting, you will be assigned a specific role. Most of these roles require you to listen intently. It is a safe environment, where everyone is trying to improve. If you go to one club and you don’t like it, go to another club. Each club has its own personality.

      I cannot say enough good things about Toastmasters, but for me, it improved my listening skills more than my speaking skills.

    6. Nanc

      As I’m a visual and not an auditory learner, when I’m dealing with a trainer who gives verbal instruction, I record it! Those little mini recorders with built in USB ports are great. Recording on a cell phone might work, too, but my recorder has much better audio playback.

    7. Elizabeth West

      I’m kind of like that; my brain jumps around so much it’s not even funny. I have to take notes. It slows things down, sometimes considerably, but if I do it, then I don’t usually have to ask again. I type up my notes later and if there are any points on which I am unclear, then I go over those.

    8. Anx

      I wish I did!

      I have a very difficult time with this. I also find that many people are unaware of how difficult it can be to listen to instructions for some people. It makes me feel very dull. Unfortunately, many lower level jobs have a lot of verbal, unstructured instructions. So I am not very good at jobs more people would consider ‘easy.’

    9. Not So NewReader

      Can you ask him to email it to you, so you can refer back to it?

      When you do the process itself, take an extra minute to ask yourself “did I cover everything here?”.
      I have to go over most of my stuff twice. This is because I am constantly changing what I am doing and I am fighting brain drain. So I check my stuff a second time. My boss thinks I do not make a lot of mistakes…I get discouraged by how much I miss the first time through.

      Let your past mistakes teach you. If you had a problem in the past doing process A where you skipped step 3, make a deliberate effort not to miss step 3 again. Use the memory of the previous mistake to trigger you to do a double check in a similar new task.

      You may need to ask more questions or check in with the boss a little more often. For example, I frequently face new things at work. My chances of missing something are very high. I get the task done as far as I can go, then I check in with the boss. I remind her that I have never done one of these before and have I missed something? Usually what happens next is she realizes BOTH of us have each missed different things. I tweak it, she approves and out it goes. We are both happy that I asked.

      For the most part I am a big fan of memory triggers. When I do form A, I have to do form C also. I have a mental image of A linked to C. This odd type of thinking works for me.

  46. Not Today Satan

    I had my sales interview yesterday. During the phone screen, they made it seem like there would be no cold calling–but it turns out there’s a LOT of cold calling (and even showing up unannounced). It’s not the job for me. =\

    BUT I also had an interview for a job that I am very, very interested in, and it seemed to go well. Wish me luck.

  47. dawn schafer

    If I have an outstanding debt on my credit report from my information being fraudulently used 4 years ago (can’t get it removed because by the time I discovered it I had no proof of address), should I tell that in advance to an employer conducting a background check? There are two, one less than $1k and one I think around $3k. Other than that I have no problems (I’ve never actually even had a credit card, and graduated undergrad debt-free). The job is not in finance or any position where I’d be dealing with funds or even have access to them, and I’m not sure they’ll even check the credit on the background check (the interviewer suggested it was for criminal activity) but it does say in the consent form that they might.

    1. Apollo Warbucks

      Have you written to the credit reference agencies to inform them the information they have about you is incorrect they might be able to help you clean up the problem.

      I’m not sure how these things work in the US but in the UK you have a legal right to add a notice of correction to your credit file, basically it is just a statement from you to explain your position on what happened and it has to be given to anyone who has a copy of your credit report.

      1. fposte

        In the US, those don’t carry a lot of weight, though; it’s just the word of the creditee about the issue.

        dawn, my inclination is that you’d be better of noting it. Just say you had an identity theft incident four years ago and the damage is reflected on your credit report.

        1. gloria

          Thank you both for the perspective (and fposte, thank you for reminding me “identity theft” is a phrase that exists)!

          1. dawn schafer

            oops, that was me – I used a different name for ease of ctrl-F’ing this tonight ///o\\\

  48. epilo

    I have a question about internships. I am nearly done with a Master’s program in Museum Studies, and in order to graduate I need to do an internship. I am applying for internships in museums, but they are few and far between (the field is totally saturated where I am). In addition, I am beginning to think that rather than museums, where I want to be is urban planning and design, so I’m thinking seriously about architecture.
    I talked to a woman a few days ago who suggested I cold-call architecture and design firms to ask if they would take me on as an intern. Is this a good idea? There are a ton in my area, so it’s feasible that someone would not be put off by being cold-called, but at the same time I hesitate because I have heard that cold-calling is just seen as irritating.

    1. fposte

      Is there an architecture program at your school? Can you connect with them? (For that matter, isn’t there anybody in the Museum Studies program with some additional assistance on internships?)

    2. Another Museum Person

      Can you get an internship out of the area you’re in currently? It’s pretty well known if you go to one of the meccas for Museum Studies that coming out you’ll have to move or be highly competitive. There are tons of internships out there in less desired places and plenty more than are unpaid. You can cold call in the museum world. I did it several times early on as many internships aren’t listed so they don’t get flooded with applicants.

      If you’re set on giving up on museum studies, do you have something feasible for turning to architecture? Did you study museum architecture and design? Or urban planning as it relates to museums?

    3. JMW

      You might also look for local history centers. They deal with many of the same issues as a musuem. Also many art galleries maintain provenance records and preservation. You might put together a list of bullet points regarding what you hope to learn, reasons the organization might like to offer an internship, and what would be required of them (paperwork) to host you.

      1. Nanc

        I second the historical society suggestion! You could also check with libraries, government offices, non-profit groups, theatre companies, chambers or commerce or any big businesses in your area, you’d be surprised how many groups have in-house historical museums or might be interested in starting one. Our local fire station in my tiny town has a museum in the lobby of station 1 and the tourists love it–great photo ops!

    4. Xarcady

      Will your school accept an internship that is not in your major field of study? That’d be my first question.

      Second, do you have any background in architecture? If you want an internship, you should have some coursework or skills to make you attractive to the hiring company.

      Third, isn’t there anyone at your school who assists with finding internships?

      But my main concern is that you want an internship for a field in which you have not studied. In the academic circles I’m familiar with, this would not fly.

    5. it happens

      A number of architecture firms do exhibition design – that might be a good mix for the skills you have learned in school and the work that is in your city (as well as entree into the related field). Maybe do a quick search of the firms in your area to see who does this work. Or, would they accept a retail internship? A lot of the same exhibition skills can be put to use in retail environments. (That might be a little further from museum studies…)

      1. Stephanie

        Yeah, I’ve seen Anthropolopgie advertise for design interns (they can have some pretty elaborate storefront designs).

  49. Reflection

    I have a problem with a coworker that I’d love some feedback on. Let’s call him Sam. Sam is a project coordinator at our company and is responsible for a lot of logistics and vendor hiring. The position is pretty critical when we have conferences and events. Sam is known for not doing his job. He often skips out on days his presence is critical. He regularly angers vendors by not responding to time sensitive issues. He overspends his budget. Some days Sam doesn’t even pretend to do his job but spends his time at his desk surfing the web or doing home related projects during work hours. Sam is not remotely apologetic about this and does it blatantly. Normally I’d say this wasn’t my business because those things shouldn’t affect me, and what Sam gets done is Sam’s business. Sam’s boss is well aware of the situation. The boss’s solution to the problem is to at the last minute, distribute Sam’s work around to the other employees in unrelated departments and demand that they get the work done before the deadline. Even going so far as getting angry when other worker’s don’t complete Sam’s tasks or help Sam out. When Sam’s tasks do get completed by other workers, the boss lavishes praise on Sam’s work. It’s hurting the rest of the business as it takes time away from other critical tasks and employee time, punishes other employees for not being able to get their work done because they’re helping Sam, and last but not least of all is killing morale. Any suggestions? Or is it just time to get out of the broken system?

    1. fposte

      Have you talked to your own manager about this problem? If you have, and no solution’s forthcoming there, I’d say this might be The Way It Is.

      1. Reflection

        Yes. My own manager ranks somewhere between Sam and Boss and is pretty powerless in the scheme of things. But my manager agrees with me that Sam is detrimental to the organization. The hardest part is Sam is a really likeable guy. The kind of person I would be friends with outside of work. I don’t want to see Sam fired. I just want to see Sam suffer the consequences of his own actions once and awhile or at the very least have the boss or Sam acknowledge all the outside help they are getting. I think the way the boss treats Sam insulates him from it and makes him even less aware than he already is of the problems he causes.

    2. The Cosmic Avenger

      It sounds like a manager who is affected by this needs to either put Sam’s boss on a PIP if they’re high up enough, or talk to whoever is directly over Sam’s boss, because Sam is the immediate problem, but Sam’s boss (SB) is the enabler and the root of the whole issue now. SB obviously knows that there is a problem, and their solution is not working (nor is it appropriate, since presumably other managers don’t want that time taken away from their projects).

    3. CrazyCatLady

      If his boss knows and doesn’t care, I’d say it’s time to get out of the broken system.

    4. yup

      I think you’ve just painted a pretty clear picture of what your org’s culture looks like.

      Maybe a paper trail of “can’t get my work done because I’m doing Sam’s work” from a number of employees, showing true and real negative impact to the org’s functioning is the way to go here.

      If that cannot be easily compiled, it’s probably some exagerration happening about how much Sam’s disregard is actually affecting the team.

      1. Reflection

        Paper trail is a good idea. I think it could be compiled and enough people are fed up that they would participate. I might try that.

        I am sure there is some exaggeration as there usually is when people get irritated with someone like we are with Sam. Sam is definitely the weakest link on this team and majorly affecting everyone with his behavior.

  50. Ann

    Does anyone have experience with security clearances? I’m in the DC area, and I see so many job ads that require (not prefer) top-secret security clearances. I understand that a clearance is essential for a lot of positions and companies would prefer not to pay for the clearance themselves, but some of these requirements seem odd, especially for entry-level positions. Are there really a lot of people with only a year or two of work experience who have top-secret clearances?

    I haven’t applied for any of these jobs because I obviously don’t have the clearance, but I’m wondering how serious they are about requiring it. Thoughts?

    1. Elkay

      Are you sure it doesn’t mean that if you get the job you will be required to go through security clearance?

      1. Ann

        I don’t think so. The ads seem clear to me that you must have a clearance to be considered for the job. Like:

        Requirements:
        Bachelor’s degree in English
        1 to 2 years of experience editing technical documents
        Top-secret clearance

        1. IT Kat

          Apologies, my below reply was before I saw this one. That does seem very odd. But can it hurt to apply anyway, maybe with a note in your cover letter that while you don’t currently hold a top secret clearance, you will be able to obtain one?

    2. IT Kat

      Is it worded as being required before applying? Or just as you have to be capable of passing the clearance?

      I’m not in the DC area, but as a federal contractor, I didn’t have one beforehand, and went through the process after selection…

      1. Ann

        I’ve definitely seen a few that say you must be capable of passing the clearance, but the ones I’m thinking of list the clearance as a requirement to be considered for the position. It’s usually grouped in with the college degree and work experience requirements.

        1. Ineloquent

          Sometimes them asking whether you’re capable of obtaining a clearance is to find out whether you’re a US national, which may be relevant in certain circumstances (such as for jobs dealing heavily with ITAR material, for example).

    3. TotesMaGoats

      Katie might be able to chime in but I work with a lot of folks in the cleared space. My hubby has one and my employer is talking about getting me one because of the work I do with cyber/DOD related stuff.

      If you are desirable enough then the company will pay for the clearance. However, mid-level and up they actually want you to come with it. Clearances are expensive and time consuming. Several months in some cases.

      For entry level, while they may say it’s required, they may also look at people who are “clearable”. That is you think you don’t have anything in your background that would make you ineligible. That’s definitely a key word to put in a cover letter to get you looked at. It’s not going to hurt to apply to the entry level stuff that requires it, if you are clearable.

      I’m hosting a job fair with the gov’t agency that protects the president on Monday. If you search for that agency name + “mega job fair”, you should find the link to register. It’s open to the public as well as my students and alumni. Hiring managers are present. It might be worth your time. Make sure you bring a federal resume though. The event is about halfway between DC and Baltimore.

      IF you come and ask for the director, you’ll get me and we can have a little AAM meet up!

      1. Ann

        Yes, I’m leaning toward applying to lower-level stuff that requires the clearance, just because I’m certain that I’m clearable. Thanks!

      2. TL -

        “several months in some cases”
        An old roommate of mine was on the waiting list for nearly a year; she thought she was going to lose her job because the government was so backed up.

        this was not in DC however.

        1. Ineloquent

          My sister used to do the very in-depth backround check interviews for clearances. There’s a reason that it takes so long, especially if you’ve lived/worked many places or if you’ve lived overseas.

    4. Fuzzy

      From my limited DC experience, they do a background check and get you the clearance once you get the job.

      1. Katie the Fed

        No. If they’re requiring applicants to have a clearance, then you need to have it already.

        This is like hiring lawyers who must have passed the bar. It’s a binary input. You either have it or you don’t.

          1. Katie the Fed

            You can’t get your own clearance. You have to have a job that requires one and they’ll sponsor you. So unfortunately it becomes a Catch-22. You ultimately have to find a job that will sponsor you for the clearance.

    5. Traveler

      “Are there really a lot of people with only a year or two of work experience who have top-secret clearances?”

      Veterans, many of them have top secret from their military time but don’t always have a lot of experience in a specific area.

    6. E

      If you don’t have the clearance but have nothing in your background that would make you ineligible, I’d say apply for positions requiring lower level clearances. It’s hard to go straight to the top secret clearance without some experience working in government with no or low level clearance.

    7. Sarah Nicole

      Hi, I think I can shed a small amount of light. Most job ads will say whether they expect you to already have a security clearance, or whether you need to be able to get one. If it says they want you to have one, in my experience you need to have it already. I’m in the military part-time and have a security clearance (although not TOP secret), and I could apply for these jobs that require secret.

      The benefit to hiring someone who already has one is that they take a ton of time to get and they’re expensive. Typically current or former military, FBI, other government agency is who they are looking for with these postings. In my experience. Not sure if this is different on the East Coast, but here in California that seems to be the norm.

      1. Ann

        Thanks! The ads I’m talking about seem clear to me that they require a clearance; I’d say they outnumber the “capable of obtaining clearance” ads almost 10 to 1. I definitely understand why they don’t want to deal with the hassle and expense of getting a clearance for someone, but I kind of wonder how many viable candidates they’re getting when they’re asking for a very high-level clearance but limited amount of work experience (although the military suggestion makes sense).

        1. Sarah Nicole

          Yeah I sort of wonder about that, too. Most jobs I see asking for a clearance only want secret, which means anyone with military experience and an active clearance could apply. I don’t know which types of jobs get up to top secret, but it’s possible that they’d be willing to hire someone like that, but that didn’t have a ton of experience working in the job they’re hiring for. It sort of makes sense – getting a top secret security clearance is way more of a hurdle than training someone to do a job if you hire a person who learns well and has a good work ethic.

        2. Katie the Fed

          They’re getting enough, or they wouldn’t be doing it this way.

          Quality of the people they’re getting, on the other hand, is a different story…

        3. E

          As a former HR person who’s filled these positions before, I’d say I received some resumes reflecting a current clearance, but a lot without. Depending on the government agency, getting a new clearance initiated can take longer than desirable for the start date of the job, making it impossible to consider candidates who don’t already have a current clearance.

    8. CanadianUniversityReader

      I’ve worked entry-level positions where you need higher level security clearance. I was a lifeguard at a military base and I had to go through two background checks to get hired. I don’t remember what the security level clearance was called but I had to fill out some forms that those who need Top Secret clearance level. I think it’s probably pretty important to have the clearance.

    9. Katie the Fed

      Yes, there are plenty of people with only a year or two of work experience who have top-secret clearances. Many of them are recent military. Some are jumping from other contracts.

      So what’s going on right now is there’s a downward pressure on contracting. Government is trying to save money and contractors are finding demand isn’t what it used to be, so the amount the government is willing to pay is going down. With that means lower wages, which means you’re generally getting less experience – that’s why there are so many openings looking for just a few years of experience.

      But when the companies bid, they are promising the government that they’ll have X number of people ready to go, and they have to keep a certain fill rate for the contract. So they need people who are already cleared so they can move quickly to fill the positions. A clearance can take up to a year – that’s not worth the financial risk.

      If they require a clearance, they are 100% serious that you need it. You won’t get in the door without it.

    10. Nanc

      Anytime I’ve needed it the potential employer has paid for it–my hire was conditional on passing it. I have no idea how it all works, other than I often got phone calls from friends, neighbors and former coworkers after the fact saying a police detective or FBI had been asking about me.

    11. The IT Manager

      I’m wondering how serious they are about requiring it.

      They’re probably very serious. It’s expensive and more importantly takes a long time to get a clearance. It sounds like these companies need someone who can start right away so they need someone with a clearance already. Former military and contractors will have a clearance that remains active for a couple of years (I think) after leaving a job requiring it. So they’re looking for these people or people who are presently in a job requiring a clearance.

      1. Katie the Fed

        You re-up your TS clearance every 5 years, so the number of years depends on how long until that 5 years is up.

    1. Minding your biscuits...

      I never bring mine, not because it’s skimpy (it’s a one-piece) but just because I don’t want to risk seeing coworkers at the pool. But that’s just me.

    2. Kara Ayako

      At a conference? If you’re going to the pool/beach on your own time, I don’t see the problem in wearing whatever you’d normally wear. Just be smart about it: don’t wear your badge while sunbathing, wear a coverup while walking through the hotel, try to avoid conference areas when you’re going to and from the pool/beach. Don’t hold meetings at the pool.

    3. Elkay

      There’s part of me that would love this to turn into “Because our manager thinks it’d be a really good idea for us to have a beauty pageant as part of our teambuilding conference”.

      1. Nanc

        I would totally do enter this as I have an old-fashioned bathing costume complete with cap, stockings, bathing shoes and parasol! How the hell did women not drown when swimming in 1910?

    4. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)

      Completely fine. I guess I’d default to one-pieces only, but it’s hard to say because I only ever wear one-pieces.

      I always bring my swimsuit when I travel for work. I rarely use it, sadly – both because I’m busy, and because when the end of the day comes around I just want to hide in my room alone. Introverts yay!

  51. De Minimis

    OK, so now I’m trying to figure out the best time and way to give notice. My wife is halfway across the country and starting her new job soon. I’m here in our mostly empty house trying to get things squared away for its closing in a few weeks. I had thought about trying to keep working here until I found a job long-distance, but I’ve talked to recruiters and even had one interview last weekend at an employer I’d been e-mailing with, and the general consensus seems to be, “Call us when you are here permanently.”

    So I think I may need to bite the bullet and move without a job—but I’m going to need to find something ASAP due to the high cost of living in our new location. There do seem to be plenty of jobs.

    My thinking is, give notice around the time of the house closing, just let them know what’s happened and probably give them a month to at least plan for my departure. Hopefully that will allow me to leave on good terms. I think in a normal job it would for sure, but who knows here….my boss and her husband work in different states and only see each other maybe a few times a month.

    I haven’t decided for sure yet. I would like to build up some leave that would provide somewhat of a financial cushion, but that would involve staying longer. I am supposed to get some kind of awarded leave for performance, so that will help a little bit.

    Thought I would basically portray it as having to leave vs. wanting to leave…guess we’ll see.

    1. De Minimis

      Or should I give notice sooner and give them more like 5-6 weeks? I think it’s safe to give notice now because the house sale has finally cleared every potential hurdle and the only thing stopping it now would be the buyer just deciding at the last minute to cancel.
      The likelihood of them deciding to let me go immediately is very low to non-existent. It would put them in a huge bind and also they may not be able to at this point, I passed whatever probationary period we had long ago.

      1. ThursdaysGeek

        If that awarded leave for performance is very likely, I’d wait until it was actually awarded before giving notice. If possible, that is.

          1. De Minimis

            Ugh…and I just found out I won’t be able to cash out that leave. Not allowed I guess since it isn’t actually earned leave.

            Oh well, guess I will stick around long enough so that I can at least use it. It can at least save me some money since those days will be fewer nights I have to spend at the motel [going to be living in a motel nearby and then staying at my parents’ on the weekends.]

        1. De Minimis

          Yeah it’s not that I really am worried too much about them, I’m just trying to figure out what would work best for me as far as leaving, having more money before I go, accruing leave to cash out, etc.

  52. Minding your biscuits...

    Work attire question:

    I’m on the hunt for some new black leather spring/summer work shoes. For context, I work in a conservative office, though there is a shift towards “smart casual” (whatever that means). I know some workplaces (hospitals, for example) don’t allow open-toed shoes. I would prefer closed toe/wedge style shoes. I don’t like super high heels (like anything over 3 inches) in general. Can anyone recommend a good brand/styles to try? I’m willing to spend up to $100 on them.

    Another related-question – are open-toed shoes really appropriate for most workplaces?

    1. Not Today Satan

      I really like shoes that are sort of ballet flats in shape, but the heel is half an inch or three quarters of an inch rather than totally flat (not kitten heels but a wide heel).

      Personally I hate seeing people’s toes so I’d advise against open toed shoes at work.

    2. TotesMaGoats

      For variety I’d look at Nine West. I love their shoes for work. I don’t think there is anything wrong with a peep toe in the office. Most of my spring/summer shoes are peep toe or full open toe. I’d say that smart casual allows for that. Not a sandal though. Naturalizer might be brand to look at for the lower heel/wedge that you want.

      1. Traveler

        Seconding Nine West. I have 4 1/2 inch heels that feel like flats from them. They are pretty amazing.

      2. AndersonDarling

        Ditto. I had 4″ NineWest boots that were so comfy I wore them 2-3 times a week in the winter. They lasted 7 years before I wore a hole in the bottom. Comfortable and sturdy…hmmm…I wonder if they are having a sale now? …please excuse me.

    3. matcha123

      Have you checked out Timberland? I used to think they only made one style of boot that I didn’t really like, but a few years ago I saw a great pair of boots in a store and since then have bought a few pairs.

      The shoes I have bought have been very comfortable, and depending on when you buy you can find some serious discounts online. In fact, all of the shoes I’ve bought from them have been at least 50% off :)

    4. puddin

      Earthies, Naturalizer, Aerosoles (but they are mostly not leather), Rockport, and Hush Puppies all get my vote. Like you I prefer a >3 inch heel, prefer wedges, and I really do not like synthetic leather. These brands have enough options for me – I am not a shoe collector though.

      I think open toes are fine, but if your office is conservative I would avoid a totally open shoe – like one strap across the toes and one around the ankle.

      1. HeyNonnyNonny

        Seconding Aerosoles! They’re always super comfortable for me, and have medium heels and a lot of good basics.

    5. Nanc

      I love Beautifeels but they are over your price point. They do last forever–I have my first pair I bought 20 years ago! They’ve had new heels and new soles put on by my local shoe repair guy but they still look fantastic. Worth every penny.

    6. Sunshine

      I have also found Clarks to be comfortable, for the most part they majority isnt superstylish but a few of their products fall into trendy/stylish.

    7. YWD

      I recommend Clark’s. I have a few different styles and colors and have not been disappointed yet. I primarily wear flats or a very low heel.

    8. Sparrow

      I like Life Stride. Not sure how many leather options they have, but they have a cushioned footbed that is very comfortable. Sofft and Born are also good brands. If you’re shopping online, I like DSW and Zappos. 6pm is also good and has the same brands as Zappos, but lower prices. The only thing with them is that shipping is free, but returns are not.

      I work in IT and my workplace is extremely casual. Some of the mean wear shorts and sneakers in the summer, so open toed shoes would not be an issue. Everyone sits at their desk all day, so there are no safety concerns either.

    9. skyline

      My experience for work shoes under the $100 mark is that quality varies wildly, even within a brand. I’ve had good luck with Clarks, Naturalizer, and Cobb Hill, but they usually won’t be under $100 unless you find a sale or coupon code. I’ve also had good luck with Cole Haan, but those are even pricier.

      If you specifically want a spring/summer shoe, and are open to D’Orsay styles, you might look at the Clarks Sage Glamour pumps. I tried them recently, though had to return them because the fit wasn’t right for my feet. They have a moderate heel, closed toes and heels, and look relatively formal despite having open sides. They’d be great for a smart casual office, but maybe not a very conservative business office. I was sad to return them.

      (My definition of smart casual: basically business casual, with neat, non-distressed, dark denim being allowed on days other than Friday.)

      Open-toed shoes: depends on your industry and geography. I’ve worked in a lot of places where they were quite common.

  53. Sick of sharing

    I share an employee with another manager. I’ve been unhappy with this employee’s performance and productivity for months and I’ve documented it. The other manager is happy and says it’d be harder to rehire to find someone who can do both parts of the work well. My own boss won’t get involved. Now what?

    1. Retail Lifer

      I know I tend to get stuck with bad employees until I have overwhelming documentation that they have been spoken to, coached, and performance still hasn’t improved after many, MANY tries. We go the counseling, training, warning, write up, write up a few more times, then eventually fire route. If you have documentation, then you *should* have grounds for some sort of write-up, performance improvement plan, etc…I hope. I don’t know how having another manager involved impacts your ability to coach the performance of this person.

      1. Sick of sharing

        I think the reason this has dragged out is that my low performance evaluations are neutralized by the other manager’s high performance evaluations (and very public praise) of the employee.

    2. Ama

      It sounds to me like the current employee is *not* doing both parts of the work well if your half of it isn’t getting done the way you need it to be. I don’t know if making that point to the other manager would help.

      Is there any way you could make the case for splitting the job into two, or is that really not an option?

    3. fposte

      Can you talk in budget terms? Is the employee 50% theirs, and can you just have them be a 50% time employee for them then? Is there budget for you to hire somebody else and then you can just hold your nose and let Problem Employee get 50% salary for doing nothing?

      1. Ann O'Nemity

        I can’t afford to pay for half this employee’s salary and hire a replacement. But I wonder if I can “fire” the employee from my team and budget. That leaves the other manager to figure out how to make it work on their end. Meanwhile, I can reallocate my budget to hire a part-timer, contractor, or even try to make the numbers work for a full-timer.

        1. fposte

          That’s what I’d try. It’s then your co-manager’s problem to figure out out to retain the employee.

  54. Lyra Belacqua

    Good news – I have a new job I’m starting in a couple weeks! I was really worried it wouldn’t work out – they at first wanted the position to be a 1099 independent contractor, but how they described it does not work at all with being a 1099. They’re owners of a small business who’ve never hired a full-time employee before. I did some research and talked to an employment lawyer, and stated my concerns, and they agreed to go ahead with it being a W-2 employee position. Yay!

    1. Lyra Belacqua

      Also meant to add that this means I’ll have to give my boss my resignation – I’ve never resigned from a job before? Any tips? I’m sure he’ll understand – I’m really bored at my job and it’s obviously not a good fit, but I do good work and I think he’ll be bummed.

        1. Lyra Belacqua

          Yup, I’m planning to today. I think it’ll be a pretty straightforward conversation but I’ve just never done this before.

          1. De Minimis

            Most of the time it’s not as hard as you think it will be. Sounds like he’s pretty aware that it’s not the right job for you.

    2. Lyra Belacqua

      Update: I talked to my boss, and all is well. As soon as I asked if he had a few minutes to chat I think he knew. He was very gracious and down-to-earth, which is kind of how he is in general. Whew!

  55. TotesMaGoats

    I’m so excited for my second round interview this coming Thursday. It’s from 9-1 and I’m meeting with everyone under the sun. It’s heavy but I’m so stoked. Given the length of the interview, the participants and how they bent over backwards to accommodate my hellish schedule…I’m reading a whole lot into it. :)

    Added to that I’ve gotten several comments from coworkers about will I be applying for a newly vacated AVP position. It would be trading one form of crazy for another but it’s nice to know that people want me to take that job because they want me as their boss.

  56. Fuzzy

    I get to help* pick my next supervisor! I’ve had a great experience with my current one, and I’m wondering:

    1. What’s the best way to thank my current supervisor for being awesome? I’ve already verbally thanked her and mentioned her awesomeness to our mutual boss, but is there a non-weird trinket I can get her? A small plant, a thing of tea, etc? We have gone out drinking as a group before–I can spring for a round?

    2. How have you adjusted to new supervisors? I have *some* say in the hiring process, so I’m sure we’re going to get someone awesome, but is there anything I can do besides keeping up my performance and being clear and communicative?

    3. My department is also getting a college intern. I am 1 year post college, and will have “some” supervisory role. How can I make the lack of age difference un-weird?

    Thnx all :)

    1. khoots

      Hope to give out some insight as we just had this happen in my office as well.

      1. I got my entire team together and just gave a bottle of wine with a nice thank you note and a Starbucks gift card. That was for her last day and wasn’t anything crazy (think under $30) just a little token to say thank you.

      2. Most important thing to remember is to make sure they will fit with the culture of the team, and realize they won’t always be doing things the way that you’re used to. I like to be up front and honest with what my expectations are of them and want them to be up front and honest about what their expectations are from me. AAM also has a great post about questions to ask when hiring a manager that I used during the interview.

      3. As for the intern if you don’t make it a big deal they won’t either. Go with the flow and relax :)

      1. Fuzzy

        Thank you for the responses!

        1. The only problem is that she isn’t technically leaving–we borrowed her from her real job for a while, and now she’s going back. Same office, just pulling something off of the job description.

        We all do like wine. That may just be a fun way to celebrate the transition!

  57. matcha123

    Question :)
    My mom is working at a place where she has to take care of her own taxes (state and federal, they don’t withhold anything). She says she’s only paid for the time she’s in the office, but due to the nature of the work, a lot has to be done outside of “office hours” or appointments in order to keep things running smoothly.

    Has anyone worked in a similar type of setting? Are there any things she should be aware of? She’s been there over a year, but she’s never worked in a place that doesn’t withhold state/federal tax, and neither have I. At least one of her paychecks has bounced due to insufficient funds on their side and it doesn’t sound like the people in charge know much, either.

    1. Malissa

      Your mother needs to find a new employer.
      They are treating her like a contractor–but is she really? It sounds like she’s doing a t lot of work for free.
      Bouncing checks are a never a good sign for staying.

    2. E

      Red flags all over on this. She should consider talking to someone at the Dept of Labor to report the issues, or at least make comment to her bosses that her understanding of labor law is that she should be paid for time worked, including time outside of “office hours”, and that the company should pay her taxes to be in compliance. (Just so they don’t get in trouble with the government, don’t you know, wink wink)

      1. yup

        second. payroll bouncing is a serious issue that violates state and federal laws about timely payment for time worked.

    3. variety

      She definitely needs to find a new job. As far as taxes go your mother should be filing quarterly estimates to both state and federal. If they aren’t taking out income taxes they probably aren’t paying social security or medicare either. These would also be on your mother to pay and she would need to pay both employee and employer parts.

    4. matcha123

      Thank you all for the replies. I’ll be passing this information on to her. She is looking for other jobs, hopefully she will have more luck when she gets some needed certifications.

  58. Nani

    Can someone tell me what we’re legally allowed to do when hiring if we want to increase the racial diversity of our staff? I know we can’t make hiring decisions based on race but are we allowed to consider race when deciding whether to advance someone in our hiring process before the decision stage, like interviewing someone who we normally wouldn’t have interviewed? I’m very on board with the end goal of hiring more diverse employees but uncomfortable with some of the means that my coworkers want to use to get there. What does the law say? What do best practices say?

    1. E

      My understanding is you are supposed to hire or promote the most qualified person, regardless of race, gender, or other protected characteristics. The best idea I’ve found for increasing racial diversity is to advertise job openings more prominently to related job boards and groups, like women business group job boards for example. Try to increase diversity in your applicant pool.

      1. Nani

        Yes but what are you allowed to do in all the stages before you make the decision of who to hire? Are you allowed to consider race in who you advance to a first interview or a second interview?

    2. Anon for this

      I’m actually super curious about this, too. In literally every hiring process I have been a part of (dozens) hiring staff of color has been a clear priority, sometimes in extremely direct ways (e.g. “I want to hire a person of color for this role” to more strategic, e.g. “I won’t move to interviews until 50% of our applicants are of color.”)

    3. Jillociraptor

      I am not a lawyer, so I’m going to punt on the legal question.

      I don’t think you should interview someone who you don’t think is likely to be successful at the job. It’s just a bad situation for everyone involved. However, I think you need to do some data analysis on the root of the lack of racial diversity on your staff. Are your applicants disproportionately White? Then you’ve got a recruitment issue. Are your candidates of color moving forward in the interview process at a disproportionately low rate? Then you might have a candidate profile or interview process that contains unintended bias. Are you hiring lots of staff of color, then they’re leaving? Then you’ve got to focus on performance management and retention.

      Without tons of info about what the strategies your coworkers are suggesting, it sounds like they’re not being very rigorous in their examination of the problem. If you’re not clear on what, specifically, the problem is, legal or not, you’re not likely to be able to solve it. That’s where I’d start if I were you: asking my colleagues how these solutions specifically get us to the root problem.

      1. Nerdling

        I agree. The key is to make sure you’re getting more diverse, well-qualified *applicants* and make sure you’re not then hiring only, for example, white women from that diverse pool. Once your pool is diverse and your hiring process isn’t unconsciously biased (or is less so), then the diversity of your workplace should increase naturally over time. And if you’re having a retention problem, then it may not be that you need to hire more minority applicants; you may need to look more closely at your corporate environment and overall retention policies.

        1. Nani

          Yeah. We’ve tried that. Believe me, we’ve tried that. We’ve done everything we can think of to get more diverse candidates into the pool. It’s not working. That’s why my coworkers are resorting to the stuff I was asking about.

          1. Jillociraptor

            If you’re unable to recruit a diverse pool, that’s where you should start. Dig more into that — do you have recruiters who are people of color? Do your recruits look at your company’s materials and see all White faces? If you can’t even get people into the pool, I think you probably have some kind of image or narrative problem, either just in terms of what your recruitment process looks like, or more broadly.

            And the thing is, legal or not, your colleagues’ strategy of more aggressively advancing candidates of color through the pool isn’t going to be effective if the root issue is that your company is not as welcoming a place to work for people of color. Maybe you’ll hire more people of color, but retention will be an issue and you’ll continue to see year over year the same demography in your staff.

            If I were you, I would keep pushing back on my colleagues to explore why recruitment is falling short. I’m a little curious about why your company is prioritizing diversity, actually…in my mind it’s absolutely non-negotiable that every workplace make themselves the kind of place where people of color want to work and feel valued, but I also realize that it’s kind of a buzzword and a “cred” thing in some places. Do your colleagues have a real vision for why it matters to have a racially diverse staff? Because if they lack that, or if that vision is “we want our company picture to look diverse,” I can see how everything else is falling through the cracks.

            To be a little more succinct, definitely look into the legal issues here, but I think that’s a much more tangential question because I don’t think this strategy is going to get you what you want even if it is legal.

          2. thisisit

            are you posting the jobs in places aimed at candidates of color? almost every major discipline has a membership or association of people of color – do you know the one for your field? if not, can you find out? (you could ask at a HBCU for help on that).

    4. Anonymous Educator

      I think the only fair and legal way to do this is to recruit heavily underrepresented populations to apply. I don’t think there’s anything illegal or unethical about targeting underrepresented populations for the application process. You’re just getting more people in the pipeline.

      Once they’re in the pipeline, though, it gets a bit shadier legally speaking. I don’t know if there are explicit laws about considering race in advancing through different stages in the hiring process. Certainly you can’t make the final hire based on race. I’d love to hear what any HR folks or lawyers have to say about that.

    5. LillianMcGee

      If you’re in the US, check out eeoc.gov/laws/practices for what you can’t do.

      Here’s something the ACLU adds to their job postings:
      The ACLU of Illinois is an equal opportunity employer. We value a diverse workforce and encourage applications from all qualified individuals without regard to race, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, national origin, marital status, citizenship, disability, and veteran status.

      Maybe all you really can do is encourage people of all backgrounds to apply!

    6. fposte

      If you’re in the US, do you have a state office that can help, like a commission on diversity or a branch of the EEOC? Might be worth poking around to see.

  59. Algae

    Well, we’re having a bit of fun here yesterday and today. I work in QA.

    Scheduled audit with customer had just started. Introductions, go over the agenda, that sort of thing had basically concluded when the front desk called.

    Large Government Regulatory Agency was here, ready to do one of their unannounced, comprehensive audits.

    My boss is ready to tear her hair out.

  60. Malissa

    I’ve had an interesting week . I applied for a job on Sunday and got a request to interview on Monday. This was a job I had been recommended for but wasn’t entirely sure was even open. 30 minutes after I sent my resume in, I got an email asking for an interview. Weird, but hey I’ll roll with it. The interview was a fiasco. Showed upon time, the guy that set it up wasn’t in the building. Interview started 10 minutes late. It was with the Boss and the person currently doing the job. The Boss grilled me for 5 minutes about team work. Then tells me the job is a solitary position. It just gets weirder from there. The person currently doing the job is giving off hints that she really hasn’t been able to keep up or do it well in the past year. She also has the sound of a person who has been defeated by the job. Red flags everywhere. I left there thinking that I really don’t know if I’d take the position if offered.
    On Tuesday I had a way better interview in a different industry. Got turned down Thursday because of a candidate that had industry experience. At least they got back to me…
    Surely something will come together soon. Right?

    1. Dawn

      Yeah, because when you do interview for Perfect Job, you’ll have already had plenty of interview practice already and you’ll totally NAIL IT! :)

  61. Xandrine

    I’ve been job searching for over two years now. I just found out that I need knee replacement surgery as soon as possible. My dilemma is this: do I keep applying for jobs, knowing that I’ll be laid up for six to eight weeks, probably with very little advance warning? I can’t promise a specific start date, since (due to insurance reasons) I have no idea when the surgery will happen. This is assuming that I get an offer after stumbling into the interview with a full leg brace and a walker! So, keep on applying, or put it on hold indefinitely?

    1. yup

      Keep going. We often plan for things to happen at a certain time and it happens later than planned. Plus maybe you could do some part-time telework while you’re laid up. They may appreciate it since they won’t have to pay you benefits :-D (or something such that you can still work while laid up)

    2. The Strand

      Yes, keep on applying. You don’t know when things will pan together.

      Good wishes for your surgery!

    3. fposte

      Agreeing, but also wishing you good luck! My colleagues who have had knee replacements say the PT is hard work but the outcome is really worth it.

  62. Lady

    Wow I am actually up early enough to post! So here is the scoop, I need opinions! I wasn’t sure if I should write this for Fridays Free for all or the weekends, but since it does involve working and the job climate I decided to ask here. Sorry it is long winded:

    My young sister in law did not do well in traditional high school, and wound up quitting school between her junior and senior year (when she turned 18). First she was going to get her GED, but once she realized there was a fee and process etc. she decided against it and enrolled herself in an alternative high school with a flexible schedule, with some idea that she would join the military afterwards. SIL was puts in the minimal effort, earning her a D average “because no one looks at your transcript anyway, and D is a passing grade”. She learned from the school (whom she should have asked in the first place) that she needs at least a C average to graduate, and was very annoyed but started to work on her grades.

    In the meantime she decides she needs “fun” money she takes a part time job at a restaurant. An entire shift of workers is caught stealing and fired on the spot. Because she is there, and not on that shift, and doesn’t steal, she goes from entry level at minimum wage to shift manager at 15.00 an hour in a month and a half on the job.

    The money is good, she has no bills, no obligations and her mom will let her live rent free indefinitely unconditionally. Because she is already 19, the business is not subject child labor laws so they started to schedule her inconveniently, and so now she wants to drop out completely. Based on her experiences so far, she feels she needs neither a GED nor a diploma. She likes to point out that she makes only a dollar less than someone like her brother who has gotten his bachelors and now owes 30,000.

    We are trying to tell her that she is being short sighted, and that if she ever has to quit that job or is fired, that the next job might not be so easy to come by or pay as much. Unfortunately she reads articles which suggest bachelors degrees are useless, and takes that to mean so would be a diploma or GED. Her friends have convinced her she doesn’t need it, and we need someone outside the family to tell her otherwise, because we are just trying to sell fertilizer.

    Is having high school diploma or GED something well – paying employers don’t care about anymore, is it truly not worth the paper it’s printed on? I am “biased” and told her she should finish school, even if it’s only because she can, but according to her it is “just a piece of paper”. My opinion is that lightning probably will not strike twice, and when this business goes under, (it may shortly) she won’t be able to get another decent paying job. Her mom would like her to either graduate or get her GED, but short of threatening to kick her out of the house if she doesn’t (which mom won’t do) mom has no leverage.

    Please, help us make the case either way. She could be finished by August if she enrolls in summer courses, is it a waste of time? Thank you.

    1. E

      Just from my experience in hiring candidates, a GED or high school diploma is required for our data entry positions. I’ve heard that construction requires a high school diploma to dig ditches (expensive machines don’t get run by just anyone). While her mom can’t make her graduate or get a GED, she can encourage some research, possibly a visit to the unemployment agency or temp agencies to see what options would be available based on her current circumstances compared to having a diploma.

    2. AnotherAlison

      Here’s how you make the case: No school, no free living arrangement. Parenting is the obvious problem here. She will be finished in August. It’s completely ridiculous to not finish, and the mom has the leverage to make her do it.

      I am the mom of someone wrapping up his junior year of high school, and I tend to fall into the sink or swim mindset. Kids this age are old enough to make their own choices, and as long as I’ve done my job to inform him, I’m fine with him making the wrong one.

      From a “case study” POV, my SIL does not have a diploma or GED. She is 42 and has spent life waiting tables and receiving various forms of public assistance. She never has a decent car or place to live for very long and whenever things are good for her, it’s because she’s found a man with a little money to take care of her. Lack of ambition + no credentials is a terrible combination and it sets you up for a crappy life.

      1. AnotherAlison

        (When my kid makes the wrong decision, though, he will no longer be living under my roof spending my money while he does it.)

    3. TotesMaGoats

      I would say that the vast majority of jobs with any sort of career potential, outside of restaurants or similar, are going to require a HS diploma or GED. It’s a gate keeper to the most basic, entry level positions just about anywhere. Plus, if she ever wants to go back to school she’s going to need at least the GED.

    4. matcha123

      It might be good for her to work and save up money and then when she’s got a good bit saved, finish her education.
      Sure, it’s possible that she lucks out ad has some great paying jobs without a GED. But, the chances are slim. And like the Girl Scout motto says, “Always be prepared.”

    5. Bekx

      I work in an industry that is considered a trade. The minimum requirement we have is a High School Diploma or a GED for even our lowest on the totem pole employees. If you want to work in the office, most require some college experience.

    6. yup

      It sounds like she is the kind of person who sees the bare minimum requirements and just does that. She’s not in a place where being in school is going to be useful other than “checking the box.”

      I wholeheartedly agree with AnotherAlison. If she’s earning with the sole intention of spending it all as fun-money (and have all real responsibilities taken care of by someone else), she should probably be kicked out to get her own place soon and pay her own way, or else the cycle of comfort will probably continue for a while.

      When $15.00 an hour no longer looks so attractive and there’s nothing left at the end of a month of bills and rent, she may try and better her life situation by going back to school and fully realizing that school is the means to that.

      Or everything may change when she meets a man (not a boy) and just work itself out.

    7. Creag an Tuire

      Maybe read those articles yourself? I suspect what they’re actually saying is that a Bach degree is “useless” in distinguishing you from the crowd of applicants, not that you don’t need them anymore.

      Also, this may be a case where the old canard of “you need to have the Right Words in your resume to get past the resume-screening robots” could actually be useful.

      1. Lady

        You are preaching to the choir. She has never read an article on the matter in her life, she just sees that I am working for wages similar to hers, but with crushing debt, so she doesn’t see the point. She deliberately misinterpreting the things she hears when she fights with her mom, and mom, who retired from working over 25 years ago to be a stay at home mom doesn’t have much ammo at her disposal.

        I also agree with you about the “Right Words”. The problem is for my SIL, the words she is listens to come from her friends who have it sweet now that one of them has a car and perpetual gas money. She is free, those are people she wants to hang out with, so why would she stay home and study?

    8. Elizabeth West

      She’s too close NOT to finish, and every single job I’ve ever applied for wants you to have a high school diploma or GED. If she leaves school and doesn’t have one, she’s likely screwed whether she goes to college or not.

      It’s just a few more months–she can do it.

      1. Elsajeni

        It also might become a lot harder or more expensive for her to get her diploma or GED after a certain point — most alternative high schools won’t enroll anyone over a certain age, credits she’s already earned might expire, etc. This might not carry a lot of water with her if she doesn’t see any value in getting the diploma, but if she’s at all thinking in terms of “Whatever, I can go back and finish later if I decide it’s worth it,” looking into the options that are available to her now vs. what would be available to her when she’s, say, over 25 might motivate her toward doing it sooner rather than later.

        1. Elizabeth West

          Good point–there are adult GED programs, but it’s even harder to do that when you’re working full time and paying rent, taking care of your own household, worrying about bills, etc. Right now, living at her mum’s, she doesn’t have to do that.

        2. The Strand

          Oh yes. If she thinks it’s tough now, try going to school while you’re raising kids!

    9. The Strand

      I hate to say this, but sometimes people have to make their own mistakes.

      A childhood friend of mine was in a field that was rapidly going in the crapper a few years ago. She had no college degree, and our hometown has one of the highest ratios of college-educated people in the US. Without being too specific, it was pretty obvious that her company was going the way of the dinosaurs. She has never wanted to live anywhere but our hometown.

      I suggested she might consider going back to school, just in case, to get that bachelor’s. (In our hometown there are many people with bachelor’s who are underemployed. The labor pool is skewed big time.) Community college is cheap; then you transfer. She told me she was too weirded out by being ten years older than the average college student, and was fine where she was. She was still doing the same job she’d done ten years earlier and resisted attempts to move her into management. Fair enough – not everyone is ambitious.

      Well, she got laid off. She had to downsize her whole lifestyle. Now she’s going to school (and is 15+ years older than the average student), making slightly better than minimum wage, and complaining. But you know what? She had to figure that out on her own. No one was going to convince her of anything. She sought out resources that affirmed what she already believed, too.

      Yup has a really good point here. She’s not feeling the full ramification of her decision. Momma doesn’t have to throw her out, but just ask that she start paying rent, utilities, and for food.

      1. Lady

        Mom asks absolutely nothing of her because she is terrified that if she pushes too hard she will just move in with her boyfriend (who has no rules and who has already offered), and return pregnant. Mom can’t afford that, so she is trying to appeal to her sensibilities “as an adult.”

        In my opinion, if this is what is going to happen, it’s going to happen anyway and these tactics are about as effective as “talking” an escaped wolverine back into its cage. My husband and I agree she needs to bring out the big guns and actually start treating her “as an adult” with obligations to pay rent etc, but chances are slim it will happen. It’s bunk, but talking is the only thing Mom will allow.

        I just wanted make sure I wasn’t somehow out of touch and being stubborn about my position.

        1. Not So NewReader

          That is too bad. Your mom is making matters worse here. You may need to take a step back because this is mostly between the two of them.
          Yes, she does need a high school diploma. There is nothing wrong with saying that. When she compares her setting to yours, remind her that this is temporary. Remind her that you are working on goals and your setting will change in the future. Then make sure you are working on your goals and not getting caught up in this. I find that situations like this take up huge amounts of time and energy. And in the end it’s for nothing, because the person does as they wish anyway. If it were me, I would use this real life story to push myself along and make sure that I am working on my own stuff.

          And for your mom, she can either tell Sis NO now or later. She can say it now when there is no baby or she can be forced to say it later when there is one and she can’t afford to help. Ugh.

          1. Lady

            Thank you Not So New Reader. I apologize for the confusion about “Mom”, who is technically my Mother in Law. Unfortunately this has been going on for months. The larger picture is that widowed Mom may lose a portion of benefits if daughter does not remain enrolled in school; if this happens, we might have to kick in to keep Mom afloat. One would think this would be dire enough to take some action, but things are at a complete standstill.

            More tragically in the not so recent past, one of my brothers in law dropped out, and vanished without a cent to his name. Every once in a while people show up at the house looking for him (Mom calls the police), and things disappear from the yard all the time. Right or wrong Mom blames herself for being too strict “and driving him away.” She is terrified of pushing her other kids out of the house.

            Obviously we don’t want that to happen either, but you are right about having only so much energy to deal with stuff like this.

    10. Cordelia Naismith

      Employers do care about high school diplomas, but sometimes you have to let people make their own life mistakes, you know? But if she’s still living at home and has no expenses, she probably doesn’t have a real understanding of how much (or how little) money $15/hour really is, and therefore has no motivation to do anything else. Mom should at least insist that Daughter pay her rent — and she should charge whatever the going rate is in that area. This might make the reality of her situation a little clearer to her…or at least be an encouragement to leave the nest and try to make it on her own! It might take a few years for her to mature enough to be ready to make a commitment to going back to school — or she might decide she likes her life the way it is. Either way, it’s ultimately her decision.

    11. Anx

      I think that a GED or HS diploma is very valuable. I agree that this situation won’t last forever and that she probably needs to get one. But work experience is also very valuable. FWIW, she makes more than I do, and I have a B.S. Most importantly, she has a job.

      I’m not sure I’d be able to walk away from a job, especially one that pays so well and has promoted me. If she’s making more money now, could she put some of the money she is making aside and do her GED instead of a high school diploma? That could maybe let her build up some work experience while studying on her own time. Have you seen instances in which she shows more motivation than she does toward her schooling? That may make a difference into what is the best path for her.

      Could there be a situation where she keeps her job as it is, and makes a commitment to do the GED? Perhaps within 1 year, or within 6 months of losing her current job if she does? Perhaps you could look into when she would no longer qualify for job corps or alternative high school.

      1. Lady

        Thank you for responding Anx. What we are attempting to do at the moment is what you are suggesting.

        In the state she lives in, her school has to sign off on papers explaining why getting a traditional diploma is less suited to her needs than getting her GED, and she won’t take the trouble to do this, schedule the test, or pay the fee. This is actually what she wanted to do before she realized it was more than just showing up at the testing center at her leisure. When she found her alternative high school it was much less work to enroll, so she did that instead.

        For background, this high school is incredibly flexible; she meets one on one with a teacher for an hour each week, and there is a resource center onsite where she can just walk in anytime on Weekdays and Saturday mornings if she needs extra help. Her class assignments are done online at her leisure.

        Though she only has to be at an actual location once a week, she always claims a schedule conflict with work. Her Mom tried to reason with her restaurant manager, that her daughter is a student and needs time to study, but now that SIL is age of majority, they are not subject to child labor laws and hour restrictions. The restaurant’s attitude is that they have business needs, and if the schedule she is assigned doesn’t work for her, then that is not their problem.

        Unfortunately I didn’t have much time writing my original post, so I didn’t make it clear that my SIL feels she is being faced with a choice of risking her job to get her Diploma, or keeping her $15 dollar an hour job and dropping/failing out of school. That said I honestly wouldn’t have such a problem with her delaying school for a bit if there was a promise of return and she was using this job to save for college (or something regarding her future), but that is not what is happening. The going is good and she is counting on it being that way forever so she just spends it on “stuff”, and is at the moment refusing to commit to anything.

        1. Anx

          That’s so frustrating!

          It sounds like she has a really great opportunity here to enjoy having a job AND working on getting her degree in case she wants to or has to move on in the future, but isn’t taking advantage of it.

          I don’t think the biggest issue here is whether a job or a GED/HSD is more important. It seems like the issue is one of motivation and responsibility.

    12. AndersonDarling

      My hubby was stuck on the same path. He worked in restaurants since he was 14 and didn’t need a GED. But in the last few years, you needed a GED to get good paying restaurant gigs. There are some jobs that don’t require anything, and he ended up working with felons and being treated like crap because the managers know you can’t find a job anywhere else.
      He had 24 YEARS of experience managing, serving, bouncing, and cooking, but couldn’t get a decent job without the GED. When he was young, he would come home with pockets full of tips and he felt rich. But restaurant wages don’t stretch that far when you have rent, bills, and a busted up car. So at 36 he got his GED, went to trade school, learned a skill, and got a certificate.
      If your sister is making $15 an hour, she is super lucky. Ding dang, super lucky. But what will she do in 10 years when she is still making the same $15 an hour. Because one person hired her without a GED doesn’t mean that anyone else will.
      If my husband could go back, he would tell himself to get the GED while he was still young and had the time. Working restaurants is hard, stressful work and you can’t do it forever.

      1. Annaliese

        True for all values of true. I do have to ask, though – has anyone explored exactly *why* her high school experience was so awful she quit with only a year to go? While I can’t say for certain, is there a possibility she has a learning disability? Was she being bullied to the point where the whole educational process was contaminated by it? This situation sounds like she was working hard to protect herself against something. This might require some digging. There were more than a few occasions when I would have bailed on high school, if it had been a real option for me.