open thread – April 24, 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 :)

{ 1,233 comments… read them below }

  1. Frustrated

    I’m really at a loss of how to proceed at work. I’ve been in my role for 5 months, and though I had a glowing review just two weeks ago, my manager is continuously cutting me out of meetings and communications with our subordinates. He also undermines me in front of our staff at any chance he gets. I’m the supervisor, and according to the structure of the division, I should be dealing with all issues related to time and attendance, performance improvement, and disciplinary actions, and only looping him in when there’s a major issue.
    Additionally, yesterday, he arranged a new setup with another coordinator—we used to email the coordinator directly to address any issue with data that came in, and she would address it with the supervisor in each division. As of yesterday, the arrangement is now such that we email the supervisors directly, but my manager told me he would like to review any emails I send before they go to the supervisors, even though I’ve been successfully emailing necessary items to the coordinator previously.
    I feel as though things are moving in the wrong direction—rather than taking on more responsibility and learning more, I’m being removed from fields. And it would be understandable if I heard back that I was not performing as expected, or was making simple mistakes, but this manager told me just two weeks ago that I “exceed” expectations in most areas of the review.
    Do I accept that he’s not willing to cede control of any area of our scope of work, and look for another position? Do I ask (again) what I could be doing differently, even though he’s repeatedly telling me I’m doing really well? Do I go along with how he wants things for the sake of continuity in employment, and hang in there for at least another year, even though that would mean that I’m essentially reduced to a data entry clerk (instead of the assistant database and division manager that this role was presented as)?

    1. Sadsack

      Did you ask him why he wants you to run your emails by him first? You may need to ask in each specific situation if he is telling you that you are great in general, but then he undermines you anyway.

      1. AndersonDarling

        Yep, I’d ask directly about the instances where you are being undermined instead of just generally asking how you are doing. Point out that x,y, and z have changed and you aren’t able to do your job effectively because of it.

      2. AB Normal

        Yes, what Sadsack said. If you are asking “what I could be doing differently?” in a generic manner, it doesn’t sound like you’ll get the feedback you need.

        Clearly, something is going on with your boss (your fault or not), and the best thing to do to figure out what it is and how to fix things up is to ask for some time, sit down with him/her, and ask specific questions about why responsibilities are being taken from you, if there are specific concerns regarding how you are writing emails, and so on. Good luck!

    2. Retail Lifer

      I’m running into something fairly similar. In my case, our upper management is tempermental, judgmental, and just generally awful. They’ve flipped out on my boss for a number of stupid reasons, including some things that I have said or done that aren’t wrong but they still just didn’t like for one reason or another. On order to cover her own butt and keep tempers from flaring, she has been reduced to micromanaging many of my tasks and making me go through her before talking to certain people.

      Your boss also might have his own performance issues that were brough up in his own review and this is how he thinks he should handle them.

      Sorry that I can’t offer any suggestions on what to do now, but figuring out where this is coming from might help.

    3. Somewhere Over the Rainbow

      Noooo. I would not accept this behavior. Your supervisor’s actions are undermining you and they are so controlling in nature. Can you call a meeting with him and say that since you are receiving positive feedback on your performance, you are confused about why certain aspects of your job seem to have been taken over or are being monitored by your manager?
      Maybe your manager’s performance is being monitored or is being questioned and that is his way of trying to address concerns about his own performance? I would absolutely nip this in the bud — the longer it goes on, the more difficult it will become to address. It doesn’t sound like you would have a problem looking for a new job if it comes to that… if your boss is not receptive to how his behavior is making you feel, I would start looking elsewhere or even consider speaking to another member of upper management about your job duties.

      1. Artemesia

        Yes to looking for another job. And yes to dealing with this now not later.

        You need to carefully identify the activities you feel you should be doing as part of your role and be able to describe this to your boss and note that the current procedures undermine effectiveness in this role. And you need to bluntly ask him if there are things you are doing in carrying out these tasks that need to change. The running emails by him first — is there something specific about the way you are supervising that needs to change? Otherwise this undermines your effectiveness.

        And be prepared to hear that you are not doing the job envisioned and are not trusted to do it. It would be very weird to take your role like this if you were doing ‘fine’ — so either he is a squirrel or you are not doing as well as you think — or perhaps there is a mismatch in styles.

        But this needs clarification. (and you need to be looking as this pattern does not bode well.)

    4. MaryMary

      I’d spend a week or so addressing specific situations with your supervisor. “My understanding was that I should reach out to other supervisors directly on data issues, is there a reason you want to you want to review the email before I do?” “I hear that you met with my team last Monday. Could you make sure I’m invited to meetings like that in the future?” “I talked to Wakeen about his attendence problems this morning, and he said that you’d already spoken to him. At a minimum, I think we need to coordinate on these kind of conversations, and honestly, it’s something I’d expect to manage myself unless a serious issue arose.” If there’s no change after a couple of weeks, bring up your concerns as a pattern of behavior. I’d even point out that your supervisor is performing a majority of your responsibilities. If he’s still not recpetive to your feedback or doesn’t think there’s a problem, I’d start looking for another position.

    5. Koko

      Is it possible that the email review is temporary, because you’re following a new procedure and he is just being (perhaps overly) cautious to make sure it get implemented smoothly? Maybe the coordinator who used to middle-man these emails rewrote them or formatted them in a particular way to make it easier/more digestible for the supervisors, and now that you’re emailing the supervisors directly you don’t have the coordinator doing that cleanup and boss just wants to be sure that doesn’t cause any issues during the transition period.

      Undermining you in front of staff is something you should also address directly from a company-perspective. Explain to your supervisor that it confuses the staff and causes them to not be sure who to listen to or who has authority when he contradicts your orders or challenges you in front of your staff, and that you’d prefer if he bring any disagreements to you privately so that you can get on the same page and then you can communicate the change to your own staff as something you and boss both agree on, rather than boss communicating changes to your staff as a contradiction to what you both told them. So you’re making clear that you’re not upset that he’s changing your orders, perse – you’re upset that he’s cutting you out of the process of changing the orders, and you’d be happy to fall in line with the change as long as your staff perceive that you’re part of the change and not being circumvented.

      1. The Strand

        Great advice. As non-defensively as possible, you want to reiterate that the staff are confused when this occurs.

    6. Kyrielle

      To be fair, I have worked for a boss who did this to a supervisor-type role who is one of the most competent, capable people we’ve ever had…and who managed to supervise in spite of it, but I wouldn’t necessarily recommend that route.

      In that case, the issue was – and the rest of us knew it – that the boss in question was a control freak. He hadn’t wanted to have his area of control re-structured so he had someone in a role similar to your ‘supervisor’ role (I won’t use our title), but he was told his team was too large and he needed it and given two open positions. Neither of whom was allowed to do what their roles called for, really; they had to carve out niches for themselves that still left him controlling everything he had, mostly.

      And the one who worked more toward a supervisor role (the other just acted as an individual contributor and kept his title) got undercut in front of us every time he didn’t read the boss’s mind, or they had a difference of opinion. I don’t know if they ever had discussions of it in private but I do know it came out in the open team meeting when people talked about what they were working on and the boss thought priorities were wrong.

      I wouldn’t advocate hanging around in a role like that without trying to address it, but I will say that those of us watching from underneath were VERY aware of what was actually happening, and I suspect that other peers at their level were also.

    7. Not So NewReader

      My first question is do you want the job? (not snark, I promise.) This matters because it ties into how much effort you want to spend on this.

      I going to go with “yes, I want the job.” You have been at this job for five months. I am not so sure a lot of companies would want you disciplining their employees so early on. He may want you to learn more about the culture and the policies first.

      I think the real problem areas are: cutting you out of meetings and communications; reviewing your emails and undermining you in front of your own staff. I think if I were in your shoes I would be saying to myself, “Why am I even HERE?!” And this is where you need to go with your conversation with your boss. Only say it by using examples.

      Here we go:
      “Boss, I am not sure if I am filling my role here properly. I am missing important meetings, I am not sure you are satisfied with my efforts and it has progressed to the point where my emails need to be double checked. I feel that I am not filling the role that I was hired and I am being paid to do. You gave me a strong, positive review a few weeks ago so I am confused and I wondered if something has changed since then.” (For each talking point have an example ready if you need to use it.)

      Be prepared to be told that you are expecting too much too fast. It could be that he wants you to slow down and “be a student” for a while. He could expect you to just spend the first year absorbing all that you need to know.

      I am not sure how he is undermining you, but it could boil down to he wants you to check in with him more often rather than just announcing things or making decisions with your staff. Do you see any type of a pattern with the situations where he is undermining you? Are you announcing things prematurely, or without giving him notice? Any new job I have ever had I have ended up asking the boss how much leeway I had, “At what points do you want me to check in with you?’
      Find out why the deal with the emails ask him if there is something you are missing that you should be doing.

      When he tells you that you are doing well, then ask if it is normal to have emails reviewed or not to be included in meetings or whatever fits the immediate conversation appropriately. Since you know his habit is to tell you that you are doing well, have a follow up question prepared. “If I am doing well with my emails, then is this normal to need my emails reviewed?”

      The other thing you can do to help yourself along is to work into conversations parallel work that you have done at other jobs. The boss may have no idea what the extend of your experience is OR you may have told him and he forgot. In a conversational tone at random times where it makes sense remind him, “Oh yes, I am familiar with X and I have done that before.” Extra points for saying something that shows familiarity specific to X.

      I am not totally convinced your boss is a dingbat. He still could be getting to know you. Or he may feel you are over eager and not getting the details. But you are the one in the situation. It could be that he is saying in front of your people, “You stupid idiot, you screwed this up, AGAIN!” If this type of thing is going on, take everything I have written here and throw it away. In a situation like that, I would request an immediate meeting in private NOW. And then I would discuss how calling me a stupid idiot only undermines my ability to lead a group of people that are basically under his watch. It’s self-defeating for him, at best. Then I would add, “I do not speak to you that way because I do not expect to be spoken to that way!”

  2. Pizza Lover

    Boy do I need this today!

    I am a part-time office coordinator in a very small department. My responsibilities are both administrative and managerial, and since we are so small I do a good amount of work that both of the other FT employees in the office do. One of my boss’s responsibilities is to conduct investigations. Recently I have been sitting in on most of them for training purposes, as she wants at least two people doing an investigation at once (most of the time I just take notes, but I give input from time to time). However, being the lead is not at all expected of someone in my role.

    There have been lots of investigations on top of everything else that we need to do, so we hired a new full-time employee (my boss is also out a lot, so these things tend to get backed up). I should point out now that I applied for this exact job, but was passed over for the position. I’ve gotten over this, but recently it has been clear that the new hire is not a good fit for the job. She does not work well with my boss, despite having good intentions. As a result, my boss stopped trusting her with certain things, investigations being one of them.

    So a couple of weeks ago, my boss told me to lead an investigation. The reasoning she gave was because the interviewee was a little emotionally unstable and my background is in that sort of stuff, so I did not balk at leading (needless to say, our new hire felt very slighted, which I do not blame her for). While I did not mind the opportunity, the circumstances were crappy. My skills were basically being used because she does not trust this lady; mind you, she hired her for the position and passed me over. So afterwards I sat down with my boss and asked politely that unless it is just me and her alone and she is observing me doing these investigations, she should allow this woman to do her job. (What I didn’t say was that her bad hire is not my fault and she should work to train this lady instead of pimp me). She wasn’t exactly happy, but she seemed to understand where I was coming from and told me that it was up to me.

    But yesterday she told me again to run an investigation. Her reasoning had nothing to do with the psychological mindset of the individual. I feel like I need to address this before it gets out of hand but my concern is coming off like I am not a team player or like I am not willing to take on other responsibilities. However, I really feel like I’m being taken advantage of (not that I wasn’t before, but this takes the cake to me since I actually had applied to this position). It is not about the money because I don’t expect compensation for extra things I’m doing. I just don’t know how best to address this to my boss, especially since she can do whatever she wants despite the crappy way that I feel. It also doesn’t help that there are other things that have been difficult for me to push back on so my original job description has become wildly out of sync with what I actually do. I feel like if the higher ups found out that I was running these things (as opposed to just observing and inputting now and then), they would flip their s#!t, I mean I’m not even FT! Half of me thinks that I need to address this again because God knows what she’ll try to make me do next, but the other half says that maybe I should take the experience and suck it up. Thoughts?

      1. Pizza Lover

        I didn’t receive any feedback. I work in higher ed and the hiring process is as confidential as it can be. There is a search committee that screens people first and then the hiring manager (my boss in this case) interviews the finalists and makes a decision. So I was not even considered for the position originally.

    1. BRR

      Is it possible new hire is going to be let go and your boss wants to see how you handle investigations?

      1. Pizza Lover

        It is indeed possible, since we technically operate on yearly appointments and the fiscal year ends in June. However, my boss will be out of the office for a month or so around the time that the year ends, so she won’t be around to make any decisions like that.

        1. Kelly

          As someone who also works in higher ed, what is the probationary period for new hires and is your institution facing any significant budget cuts for the next fiscal year? I work for a public institution that has already announced layoffs, although the budget cuts have been proposed but no discussion has started yet in the legislature. Right now, they’re still arguing about the other proposal – the transition to a public authority model that seems to be dead or on life support. I’d be surprised if there was a budget in place by end of July at the rate they are going.

          1. Pizza Lover

            I have no idea what the process is, to tell you the truth. Since I’m PT it’s totally different for me. My boss made it seem like she couldn’t do anything until the fiscal year was up (June). So if it the new hire was that bad, she technically just would not receive another reappointment letter. And we’re definitely always broke, but I don’t know about any budget cuts specifically.

    2. fposte

      I think it’s conversation time, but I’d also decide what you want and to ask for it, since, why not. “As you know, this is work I’m very interested in doing, and I’m pleased that you’re trusting me with it. However, I’m concerned about the mismatch of tasks with position given that my job is actually responsible for X, Y, and Z, and it’s hard for me to get those done as well as taking responsibility for investigations. Is it possible to find somebody else to help with those tasks and reconsider my position so it better matches the investigation responsibilities?”

      1. Pizza Lover

        I like this suggestion a lot, thank you! The difficulty for me is keeping it clear to her that I am indeed interested and I want the exposure, but not at the expense of my basic human instinct to not want to be used in this way.

      2. Colleen

        Wow, fposte. You are my hero(ine)! You have internalized the “Alison voice” that I wish I had. More reading, and perhaps I will.

    3. Ann Furthermore

      Ugh, that does sounds frustrating. Did she offer any reason why you were not selected for the full-time position? If not, I think the first step is to talk to her about what happened there.

      1. Pizza Lover

        She didn’t, unfortunately. I have assumptions (like reverse age discrimination, since I am young, although that shouldn’t matter), but that’s all they are. I have thought about asking her, but I end up telling myself that there’s hardly any point to that because she’s not going to just fire the woman and give me her spot (even if she wanted to, our organization does not make it that easy). What sucks is that after venting about this woman, she told me a couple of weeks ago that she should’ve just hired me. At this point I’ve been job hunting and have mostly checked out mentally, so that little admission did not move me much. It was just kind of sad, actually, and makes it clear to me that I probably really need to address this situation again because she is in fact using me.

        1. Franticcat

          Did she ever know that you applied for the position? You said that the process did not forward your resume on to her so you weren’t even considered. Maybe she doesn’t know you wanted the role?

          1. Pizza Lover

            I told her that I was applying! So that’s definitely one of the sucky parts about all of this.

        2. Ann Furthermore

          I would still have a conversation about it. It can’t hurt, and you might get some useful feedback. I get how you feel though…that completely blows.

        3. DaBlonde

          I feel for you, Pizza Lover. I had the exact situation where I applied for an internal position, they hired someone else and when the new hire was found to be lacking I was asked to pick up her slack.
          Luckily my boss and I had an amazing relationship so I was able to tell him that I didn’t feel it was fair to ask me to do the work for the position I didn’t get.
          He bribed me with a new computer system with dual monitors and we compromised on me helping the new hire do her work.

    4. The Strand

      What were the requirements for the job, or the “nice to haves”? I’m going to guess you got edged out because the folks in HR were to-the-letter about tossing people who didn’t have the “nice to haves” or certain requirements. For example, if you are still in the process of getting your degree. Schools tend to prefer people with more education on paper.

      Is this a public school? If it is, it’s going to be incredibly difficult for them to get rid of the new hire, unless she doesn’t work out. If they try to just take her work away and make her redundant, so that she gets annoyed and quits, they’ll probably hand it to you. Fposte’s got some good advice here. If you are still in school, or looking for a full time job, ramping up your responsibilities may help you move into a better position.

      Depending on how that conversation goes, I would think about whether I want to move into something more like the new hire role, if they can evolve your position, or whether I want to take my experiences elsewhere. I don’t recommend staying too long at a job where you feel that you are being taken advantage of, by doing more sophisticated work for less pay, unless you have a very strong reason for doing so – you have free time to work on homework or access to equipment or special perks.

      1. Pizza Lover

        I’m a recent grad (last semester) but I’ve been in this role since last May. The person who hired me left and my current boss came on, and she is the one who significantly expanded my role. It has actually given me a wealth of knowledge which I am grateful for, but that has mostly been as a result of picking up after her, not because I was actually put here to do these things. I am actually job hunting, because despite my increased responsibilities there is no growth here.

    5. Not So NewReader

      UGH. Are you doing everything according to standards/ethically? By that I mean do you have the qualifications to do what they are asking of you?

      My friend worked in a school. Like you, she was part time. And like you, she picked up more and more work. Finally, she was doing work that she lacked the quals to do. This went on for a while.
      Someone found out that my friend did not have the quals, and the crap hit the fan in the most spectacular manner possible. It involved newspaper headlines and auditoriums full of people. It went on for months.

      Dot your i’s and cross your t’s. Make sure you are in compliance with laws and regs for your environment. I am saying this because your story sounds sooo very familiar to me. (I know that you are not the same person because my friend’s story happened years ago.) Like you, my friend was picking up the boss’ slack and she did not mind the work itself. Please take care of you. It has been years since my friend had her problem and she still starts to shake a little when she talks about it.

  3. Sunflower

    We all know it’s easier to get a job if you have one already. It’s also easier to get a job in a city if you already live there. So if you’re in a spot like me, where you’ve been out of school for 4 years, work in a popular field (marketing/event planning) and want to move to a big city, is it better to a. quit your job and move or b. keep the job and apply long distance? (money isn’t a giant issue as if I moved, I have some savings and could waitress to pay bills until I found a new job)

    1. That Lady

      You can try applying long distance, and set a time frame for this “phase.” After that phase, you can move and then apply as a local. Sounds like you have nothing to lose by trying. Good luck!

      1. AdAgencyChick

        I would also start with trying to get in touch with a third-party headhunter in your target city (assuming you can find one — in my industry outside recruiters have been decimated of late in favor of in-house recruiting departments). If you can find a good one and explain to this person that you are looking to move, you can then bypass the phase where someone is looking at your resume and rejects it before they even have a chance to find out whether you’re serious about moving or what your timeframe is, because the headhunter can sell the hiring manager on you.

        1. Sunflower

          I will piggy back off my question. What is the difference between a headhunter and recruiter and how do you find them?

          1. Lanya

            I could be wrong about the difference, but I believe you typically hire a headhunter to help you find a job, whereas a recruiter finds you.

          2. SanguineAspect

            My understanding is “headhunters” specialize in “big game” (upper level management, CEOs, CTO, VPs, etc.) and that “recruiters” deal with all levels of an organization. But I could be completely wrong; I’ve wondered about the difference in the past too.

            1. Artemesia

              IN my experience headhunters work for organizations and are proactive in seeking out applicants — they don’t work for job seekers and generally don’t care if they live or die, so to speak. A headhunter is unlikely to be interested in a junior level person wanting to move; organizations rarely pay headhunters for junior level hires. I have been ‘hunted’ a few times and it was always for high level positions they were specifically tasked to fill. They asked me when I indicated I was not interested for names of others who might be good candidates but they don’t generally function for applicants.

    2. CrazyCatLady

      I moved across the country and what worked for me was just deciding to move and picking a date. I started applying to jobs, a few months before (with “Relocating to X on April 24, 2015” under my address in my resume and a little bit about it in my cover letter.) I started getting responses probably around 4 weeks before my move date, and was able to actually secure a job about one week before I relocated. If you really want to move and have an emergency savings to fall back on (keeping in mind that it could take longer than you expect to find a job), I’d say go for it! For what it’s worth, I made sure to pay off any outstanding debt before doing this, and saved up about 1 year’s worth of expenses.

    3. Carrie in Scotland

      I’m in a similar position and am applying for jobs whilst still in my current workplace. I’m saying my timeline is ‘during the summer’, baring in mind that in the UK, notice periods are usually 4 weeks/1 month long. I have the added ‘fun’ of trying to sell my flat simultaneously….
      Good luck!

    4. The Strand

      I’d keep the job, apply long distance, and use message boards to get the lay of the land, and then make a long trip to the city you have in mind to get more of a feel for the environment. Especially if it’s a field that might be more competitive – i.e. marketing/event planning in LA might be more competitive and glamorous than in the Twin Cities. But the mundane stuff is important too – see what public transportation, traffic, apartments are like.

      Depending on where you are, it can be a huge culture shock to be in that larger environment, or to enter a new region. A coworker told me once that he thought Dallas is a lot like Los Angeles. They’re not, except for sprawl. Going from a town like, say, Poteet to Dallas, is less weird than travelling from Poteet to Los Angeles or Philadelphia.

      1. AnonAnalyst

        Seconding this suggestion. It would be good to have an idea what the market is like for your field in that area. That said, I used to work in event planning in a major city that’s known as a destination for lots of events, and when we hired for my team, there were plenty of local candidates, so I honestly think if you’re trying to go to an area where there’s likely to be a lot of competition, and its feasible for you, you’re probably better off just picking a date to move job or no job since your luck will probably be a lot better once you get there.

    5. Serin

      Is there any way you could quit your job, but continue to do work for your company on a consulting basis? Just to be able to say you’re currently employed?

      Or — can you find networking opportunities in your target city and attend them even before you move?

  4. BRR

    How do people handle forced eavesdropping in the office? Specifically when you can help. I’m talking about when people nearby aren’t talking in hushed voices and you can’t not hear them and you can answer their question.

    1. Adam

      I think this is going to be something that varies from person to person. Have you tried the formal “I was just walking by and couldn’t help overhearing your conversation about ___. Have you considered trying___?”

      If you work in an obviously open environment where it’s really easy to overhear people, I’d hope most reasonable people would make a point to take their conversations somewhere private if they didn’t want to be heard.

    2. CrazyCatLady

      My solution is possibly annoying to others, but if I hear people talking openly about and trying to figure something out that I know how to do, I usually just say, “I couldn’t help but overhear you were talking about X. I can help you with that if you need!” and then go from there.

    3. Future Analyst

      I stay out of it, despite how frustrating it can be. I’ve just been in too many situations in which the people who are complaining don’t actually want help, they’re complaining for the sake of doing so. For the most part, (in my experience) individuals who want to fix a problem will ask around to find the person(s) who can help, and address it with them. Unless you are certain that these individuals truly just don’t know that you can help, I’d leave it be.

    4. Sadsack

      “Hey, guys, I couldn’t help overhearing. I think I know the answer to your question, if you’d like to hear it.”

    5. Jodi

      I’m in the same boat! I recently started a job where we are all in cubes (I previously had my own office) and I’m finding it hard at times to navigate “cubicle-best-practices.”

    6. Ann Furthermore

      If it’s something work related that I know how to help with, I’ll say, “Hey, I couldn’t help overhearing your conversation. I’ve run into that same problem, and here’s how I fixed it,” or something along those lines.

      If the conversation is of a personal nature, I won’t offer my advice, but I will say, “Hey, you may not realize it, but I can hear what you guys are saying, which means other people probably can too. You might want to duck into a conference room or empty office.” If they choose to continue talking out in the open, that’s on them.

      1. Dana

        I only reply when it’s work-related, and it has to specifically pertain to me for me to feel comfortable doing it, but I approach hopefully looking sheepish and say “Sorry to interrupt, but…”

      2. Jodi

        I like “I couldn’t help overhearing…” because that’s literally what the situation is.

    7. Dr. Johnny Fever

      It depends on who is talking. If I know the people and like them, I will get up and tell them I couldn’t help but overhear and confirm what I heard to help them with the problem.

      If it is someone I don’t like, or who doesn’t respect me, I put on my earbuds and tune them out.

      I am fully aware that this could be considered petty. I’m OK with it. I’m happy to help those who will appreciate it.

      1. Karowen

        This is what I do to. It’s not because I don’t want to help the people I don’t know/like, it’s because I don’t know how they’ll take it when I butt in on their conversation. Whereas when I can hear my co-worker talking to her boss about something related to what I do I feel no compunctions about telling them where to find it because I’m friends with both of them.

      2. Not So NewReader

        I tend to agree. OP, you could make the offer once per person. Then after that is up to them who they seek out to ask a question. When you get done answering you can tell each person, “I don’t mind helping, I kind of enjoy questions like that. Feel free any time.” That puts the ball in their court.

      3. 2horseygirls

        I’m in the same position. Coming up on 11 months in my new division, and it’s clear that I am still not welcome. The other 2 admins + secretary will ask each other if they have this form or that, but not ask me, sitting 10 feet away.

        In the beginning, I volunteered an answer or offered a form that I had. Now, like Dr. Fever said (AWESOME handle BTW!), if I’m not asked directly, I continue on with my work. It’s far from the ideal working conditions (quite miserable, actually) but as my dean so charming put it in a 45 minute meeting with 6 administrative professionals about when to go get the freaking mail (?!?!), we’re not expected to be friends but we are expected to be professionals.

        :)

    8. afiendishthingy

      I work in a room of 12 half-cubes and have a really hard time not responding to questions people aren’t asking me! I’ve apologized for it before and coworkers have responded with “No, it’s helpful”. For the sake of my own productivity, though, I often wear headphones so I don’t feel compelled to participate in everyone’s conversations.

    9. Chinook

      re: forced eavesropping when you can help.

      As an AA-type person, this happens a lot. Since I work in good environment, I often speak up if I have an immediate answer to a question they are asking or if I know that what they are assuming as fact is wrong (i.e. I often know the status of field work before my coworkers because of what I do in our database), especially if I know it will end up on my desk anyway. Otherwise, I note the question for future reference, do what needs to be done to find the answer in the meantime and look like a rockstar when they come to me with the question and have an immediate answer.

      Otherwise, I do what I learned to do living in Japan (with a culture where they literally have paper walls) – you don’t acknowledge what you heard unless someone indicates that they expect you to interact. I learned that this is why every single one of my coworkers would announce “tadaima” every time they entered the office – they were letting everyone know that they are there and can be acknowledged.

      1. Kelly L.

        I really, really love this idea of being able to be formally “not there” when you’re physically there. It might work wonders on my lunch getting interrupted!

        1. Chinook

          “I really, really love this idea of being able to be formally “not there” when you’re physically there. It might work wonders on my lunch getting interrupted!”

          For that, I always respond “I am not right here right now. What you see is only a hologram. Feel free to leave a message and Chinook will track you down when she returns.”

      2. Violet Rose

        Ohhhh, that adds a whole ‘nother layer to my cultural understanding. I knew “tadaima” and it’s use at home, but not how it could convey that particular nuance!

    10. nep

      Unless super high stakes / life or death, if remarks are not meant for me I would not respond at all.

    11. Snoskred

      I had a team leader who used to get all kinds of peeved when I answered the questions people were asking her.

      The unfortunate truth was, she was just making up the answers off the top of her head instead of speaking to the client, whereas I knew the answers from experience and/or having actually spoken to the client. 9 times out of 10, her answer was wrong, and what she’d asked a staff member to do always came back to bite them in the rear later on.

      It got to a point where I personally took staff members aside and said “If X asks you to do something, MAKE SURE you note Team Leader advised me to do X in your call log.”

      So my first inclination when I hear someone asking a question I know the answer to now is to keep my mouth firmly shut. I help people as much as I can when they ask *me* a question, but if they are choosing to ask someone else, I stay well out of it. :)

  5. Adam

    What do hiring managers usually think about certificate programs from brick and mortar universities? I have a bachelors degree already, but it’s become apparent that I’m going to need some continued education if I want to break out of the type of roles I’ve been pigeonholed into. A masters is out of the question for a number of reasons (mostly financial) as is a second degree, but the same university I got my undergrad degree in (which is the biggest university in my state in case that affects things in any way) offers a number of continuing education programs which include certifications in the material.

    Does your average hiring manager give much if any weight these type of programs? I need to expand my knowledge and skill set to increase my competitiveness for better positions, and my current job is REALLY limited in what in can reasonably offer in that regard (it took them nearly five years to give me a chance to learn adobe). So I have to go find it for myself which is not a problem. I just want to make sure whatever avenue I pursue actually has value to it.

    1. Spiky Plant

      I like seeing them on there, assuming that they are indeed associated with a college. There are some programs that are crap, but I will assume that if, say, you have a Program Management cert from a real college, that you at least have some tools and baseline knowledge. It wouldn’t get you picked over someone with actual pm experience, but I could see it being a tiebreaker, or being something that gets you a step further in the process.

      1. Adam

        Thank you. My alma mater is a big part of the my local area’s professional image, so credibility wouldn’t be an issue in terms of name recognition. I was just curious about the honest applicability such programs offer. Definitely don’t want to shell out even more money for education if it isn’t going to invest in me.

    2. Dan

      In tech, at the end of the day, it’s demonstrated experience that matters. I don’t keep up with cert programs, but if the program is known to give you real experience of some sort, then go for it.

    3. Ask a Manager Post author

      I care about certificates not at all. In fact, in some cases they’re so not important for the work the person wants to do that I wonder if it signals a lack of understanding of what matters for the field. That said, there are some fields where they do carry some weight — so the thing to know is whether they matter for your field. This is one where you really want field-specific advice.

      1. Artemesia

        Agree and if you can focus on the specific skills the certificate prepared you for in the cover letter that helps. Credential seeking is often a sign of a clueless applicant; I know so many people who thought that expensive masters degree would be a ‘ticket’ to an easy ride into a job and were shocked that it just made them look like naive inexperienced applicants. But if you want a job that requires a set of specific technical skills, then a certificate linked to those specific skills can make you competitive.

      2. Fawn

        (To Alison, or anyone)

        Does it make a difference at all if the certificate is a post-graduate credential? I know in Canada, we have a lot of post-grad certificates offered by colleges and universities as a way to further refine skills from a diploma or degree program. They almost universally require a diploma or degree and can be competitive for admission. Often, they count towards credit hours for professional org membership.

        (This thread is making me nervous…I just enrolled in a certificate program starting in the fall in Social Service Management with the intention of further refining my MA , and I’m really hoping I wasn’t misguided in doing so!)

        1. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec

          Yes – to me, at least – a post-graduate certificate is TOTALLY different than a certificate you get for participating in one or two classes (that sometimes don’t even have grades attached to them). Our local (state, well-respected) university has several graduate certificates. It’s basically like 1/2 a master’s degree. You can do the certificate, and then later you can take the other have of the classes and finish your masters, if you want to. While it’s not the same as a masters, it is legitimate education, and you’re in all the same classes with the people who plan to finish the whole degree.

        2. E.R

          I’m in Canada, and I have a post-graduate certificate (graduated in 2007) in a different field that definitely helped me in my career, and kind of still does. I’m actually pivoting my career a bit and enrolled in another post-graduate certificate (part-time, after work, etc) to help me do that better, since my first experience was good. Every certificate program’s value is different, of course, but one of the other benefits is the network you will get from the program.

    4. KimmieSue

      It would be helpful to have a little more information about the industry you work in (or wish too) and the types of certification your consideration? In my world, engineering, software & IT, some certifications are absolutely awesome. Here are some that come to mind:
      1) Buyer or Planner earning APICS certification
      2) Mechanical Engineer going for a Project Management certification
      3) HR Generalist passing their SPHR
      4) Engineer or technician adding some business management classes (very good)
      In software, staying on top of new development languages or methodologies (for example: Agile) are key.
      In my opinion, the continued training and education to stay current is very important. Where an employee took the classes (private, public, etc) is far less important than the achievement itself.

      1. Brett

        I think they are referring to certificates of studies, which is an academic course of study similar to completing a minor for a master’s degree. Instead of a degree (because you are not completing degree requirements), you are award a certificate of studies at the end of the sequence.

        The examples you gave all sound like professional certification from an accreditation agency/organization.

    5. Adam

      Thank you all for the responses so far. In my current city one of the bigger fields is Tech which I have been learning towards. I know that’s incredibly broad but I’m just not sure yet which area it would be best for me to go after specifically. I’m just not sure of the feasibility of this as I’m definitely not in a position to do free/dirt cheap internships and at 30 am a little out of the demographic since there’s plenty of fresher faced college students to go around right now.

      Currently I work in Customer Service, which I hate even though I’m good at it, since the work is incredibly boring and repetitive and is not highly valued around me. I know plenty will say they value customer service skills, but as a primary skill set they pay in my area is mediocre at best and never merits much attention from those higher up who might be interested in helping me further my career life. So that’s why I’m exploring other options.

      1. The Strand

        Hmm. Take a look at usability and user experience design – it’s something you can build on from what you do right now as a customer service representative. It’s also a very well paying career and there aren’t enough folks around to fill the slots. My friend is older than you are, went back to school at 35, and got one of these master’s degrees, and got paid for the required interning. Don’t sweat your age. There are a ton of nontraditional-aged students, especially in grad programs. 30 is really not that old.

        Also check out coding bootcamps, which don’t provide certification per se – but guess what, in tech, people don’t always care. I know someone who didn’t even finish high school who is in his forties, and a senior developer at a major tech company in California.

        Something else to consider is reading about becoming a sysadmin (great references on Reddit: http://www.reddit.com/r/sysadmin/wiki/bootcamp). It’s going to depend on your interests.

        I suggest you might want to test out Lynda.com and see if any of the specific items sound intriguing to you. Then do some informational interviewing with people whose jobs sound good to you.

        1. Adam

          Thank you very much for the suggestions. They’re definitely worth considering.

          Regarding the masters while my university does offer that program as an option, it would cost at least another $35K, and that’s a public university, and after finally paying off my undergrad degree I am just emotionally done with owing other people money. So I’ll be looking at other options first.

          And, fortunately, I know 30 is really only old to someone just out of high school. Really I was more affirming that that particular stage of life has passed by now. Working for minimum wage (or less) is just not acceptable anymore, so if I make a move it has to feel like it’s worth it.

          1. Windchime

            Just so you know….I have no college or university degree. At all. But when I was in my mid to late 30’s, I took most of a 2 year certification at my local community college and studied programming. I didn’t finish because I was one class short when I got a job offer, so I took it and didn’t go back to school. I think I was 39 when I got my first programming job, and I”m still at it 15 years later.

            So if it’s something you want to do and think you might be good at it, I would encourage you to give programming a try by taking a MOOC or something. It’s something you’ll either love or hate; there isn’t a lot of middle ground. And I gotta tell you, my standard of living is a LOT better now.

            1. Adam

              Thank you very much for the story. I’m happy it worked out so well for you and that’s very encouraging!

        2. Artemesia

          I know people who have gone from desperate low paid jobs in food service to good steady with benefits jobs with actual companies as a result of coding bootcamp trading. I am sure this won’t last forever but right now a turn in Devbootcamp or similar is likely to help you get a job in web design or some such.

          1. Adam

            I will definitely keep this in mind. I’m not afraid to learn work and get out of my comfort zone, but it HAS to be both demonstrably applicable and cost-effective. I love education, and while my bachelors wasn’t the most door-opening experience career-wise it was still a valuable journey. But now it needs to be more serious and within my means.

        3. notfunny.

          It might be a good idea to try out some different things in tech – maybe take a MOOC or a course at a community college nearby if you want in-person. I think that seeing what might be the right fit for your work and going in to whatever career change with some concrete information might be helpful – also you could try informational interviews too?

      2. Connie-Lynne

        If the Customer Support you’re doing is in tech, start looking into troubleshooting fields, like NOC work, or prevention, like SRE.

        CS is often a great place to get tools development skills. You have great insight into which tasks need automation and everyone loves it when you give them a tool that makes their jobs easier.

        When I hire for NOCs or Jr System Engineers, a CS rep who’s either built tools or got some unix troubleshooting under their belt has a clear advantage.

        Look into Python and bash scripting if that’s the route you want.

        1. Erin

          I also used to hire for those kind of roles and I agree! Willingness to work nights is also key.

      3. Liza

        “Tech” is incredibly broad. Do you want to get into desktop support, systems administration, software development, network design and maintenance, or something else?

        If you want to get into desktop support (my own field) from a customer service background, I would recommend looking for a job on a helpdesk. Most corporations have internal helpdesks for their employees’ computer problems. Your customer service experience will help you get that job, and the tech skills you develop while working at the helpdesk will help you move into desktop support down the road.

    6. Brett

      In my field, certificates are almost a red flag. A big factor in this is that there is a ton of money out there for grad school in our discipline, so money is not as big an issue as it is for other areas. (As for time, we also have well respected mostly online masters degrees from top ten programs; but those will be unfunded so you could have a time _and_ money crunch.) Meanwhile, certificates have become kind of a “tack on a credential to show I know how to use the software”. Too many certificate programs for my field only give technical skills without any of the background fundamentals that allow you to solve deep programs.

    7. The Strand

      If your hiring manager is at a university or in a specialized field, he or she may see them as the cash cow that they often are. They’re not necessarily rigorous. In my field, I would look at at someone with a certificate and think, “Why didn’t they take an extra year and just get the master’s?” Honestly, if you have the money to afford a certification from your alma mater, then you could probably afford a solid master’s degree. Mine cost about $5k a year. If you want to move from your city or state, the master’s degree will be more meaningful than a certification that can’t be easily quantified.

      And since you’re mentioning learning Adobe, you could always get a membership from Lynda.com for a lot less per year.

      Certifications are only as good as the reputation of the school and program they come from. Even if the certification comes from Harvard extension it’s not going to have the same clear value among employers, that a master’s does (as long as that master’s is from a school that is regionally accredited and has a reputation for quality).

      1. Artemesia

        Sure but masters degrees are notorious cash cows for universities. Even big name places admit almost anyone and there is little financial aid (except loans). A masters degree is a way to generate revenue and most of them don’t provide very useful training.

        I am a firm believer that one should only go for a masters in two circumstances:
        1. you are on your way to a PhD and plan an academic career (and that is a treacherous road that requires a lot of thought and choice of a top school.)
        2. you have been working awhile and a particular type of masters will advance you in place or offer new opportunities you can’t aspire to without it.

        A masters before work is rarely cost effective. It can help reset the clock if you have been unemployed and need to cover your tracks on that.

        1. Adam

          This was my concern. I’ve heard WAY too many stories about how masters degrees, even in things you’d might think would be more easily employable, are not panning out for a lot of people. My local university charges $729 per credit hour and with most advanced degrees requiring somewhere around 50 credits that is way too much money for me to get loans for when it’s by no means a sure thing.

        2. Stranger than fiction

          Yes so true. Masters without any work experience are often seen as “expensive hires” from what I hear in my area

  6. Cath in Canada

    Alison!

    After reading your post on how to make one-on-one meetings more effective, I forwarded it to my manager and suggested that we implement some of your advice. He agreed, so I’ve been creating an agenda before each meeting, and we make time to discuss what went well each week and what could have gone better. He’s mentioned that he really likes the new format, and he’s thinking of asking his other reports to switch over too.

    Well, here’s a little snippet from the performance review I got yesterday:

    “She is also methodically documenting and summarizing her weekly accomplishments, which she is submitting, along with an agenda, to her supervisor for review and discussion. This strategy has been very well received and has made the meetings more effective”.

    And, in the section on self-directed professional development:

    “She often translates newly acquired knowledge [from her reading] into practice, e.g. introducing a weekly review of “what went well” and “what could be done better”.”

    I was also praised for my professionalism, especially how I handled a recent conflict with a colleague, which I achieved by thinking “what would Alison do?” and deciding to, y’know, talk directly to said colleague.

    Thank you for all you do! And please keep the ducking letters coming.

    1. Adam

      Sometimes I wish Alison had a singular post of “The 10 Commandments of the Workplace” or something that I could forward around the office. I’d like her wisdom to spread…like wildfire.

  7. That Lady

    Federal employee here. Does anybody know if I’m allowed to get bumped to my “full performance” promotion level after 6 months instead of a full year? I’m doing the work of someone much higher than my pay grade.

    1. Ash (the other one)

      You can request a desk audit. Be aware though that they could actually find you are doing work at a lower grade…

    2. The IT Manager

      Yes. I fairly certain what you’re asking about happened to a co-worker. After only 6 months her boss went to bat for her, and it was approved. She was doing an awesome job. She took a demotion to change agencies and duty locations so she was bumped back to where she was before the job change Her boss was clear that this wan’t guaranteed to happen, but it worked out for her.

      1. GovHRO

        The answer is generally no–you’ll need a year of “time in grade” and a “year of specialized experience at the next lower grade level”. There are some exceptions. For example certain type of veteran don’t need to meet time in grade requirements and certain occupational series/grades (usually lower graded positions) don’t require a year of of specialized experience.
        So the answer is generally no.

  8. Ann Furthermore

    I’ve been working with a software developer on and off for about a month trying to figure out why a program wasn’t working. We FINALLY got it working this week. I’m so relieved…it was the one outstanding thing that I needed to get working to get this project across the finish line.

  9. Thinking out loud

    Please help me settle a disagreement. A coworker is in the early stages of her third pregnancy and has just announced her news to our management. (She took a few months off from work after the birth of each of her children.) She has an upcoming interview for a job within our company, but we work for an extremely large company, and I find it extremely unlikely that our management will share the news of her pregnancy with this other group. She was planning to tell the hiring manager in her interview (because they “aren’t allowed to use that in their hiring decision”). I told her she absolutely should not mention it. Is she right, or am I?

    1. ThatClerk

      Ack – I’m in a similar situation but not so far along! I’m assuming she’s not showing, but one would think that it would come up when they discuss her upcoming time off – our organization does share planned time off information with other departments when it comes to transfers. I wouldn’t mention it if I were her!

    2. Sadsack

      I’d say don’t mention it. It is not their business yet. Even if they aren’t supposed to use the info, they may. I know someone personally who said he would not hire a pregnant woman because she’d be leaving soon after being trained, even though he’d never admit it to anyone else ever for the obvious reason of getting in trouble or sued.

    3. Beezus

      I wouldn’t mention it until the offer phase. They aren’t legally allowed to use it in their hiring decision, so it’s not relevant, so there’s no point in bringing it up until the hiring decision is made.

      1. Dr. Johnny Fever

        Definitely wait until offer phase. It shouldn’t matter, ideally, but it could cause a subconscious bias.

    4. Juli G.

      I don’t either of you are right or wrong. It’s a personal choice.

      I would choose to disclose a pregnancy for an internal move personally because I work in HR and the HR senior managers have very good track records with promoting while pregnant.

      I also had a friend who disclosed it to an internal hiring manager because he has a great track record for being very flexible with parents, even though it’s a male dominated profession.

      But with my first pregnancy before I moved to HR, I kept my mouth shut at internal interviews because those hiring managers did not have a track record.

      Personal choice – some women like to know if hiring managers use pregnancy against you as well.

    5. August

      One of my work friend was in this situation and she just told in the interview that she was pregnant. She got the job. If she wants to wait till she gets an offer, she can wait as well. Either ways, I don’t think it makes a big difference. One good thing about being in a very large company is that absence of one person for a few months will not have a big impact. It is reasonably easy to find coverage especially for something like maternity leave as people know in advance when they will be gone.

    6. Tiffy the Fed... Contractor

      I say wait until there is an offer. Although, I do understand why she wants to share. It feels dishonest not to, even though I don’t think it is. But framed differently, when people have a big vacation planned, and they are interviewing for jobs, the advice is almost always, “Wait until there is an offer to mention anything.”

      I didn’t have the “luxury” of waiting as I was 5 days past my due date when I interviewed for my job (I actually went into labor that night)… there was no hiding it at that point. I looked like I swallowed a watermelon.

    7. Amanda

      She gets to decide for herself what works best for her. You can offer advice, if she asks for it, but just telling her what to do is a bit much.

      1. Thinking out loud

        Well, yes, I suppose I should have said, “I told her that I strongly recommend that she doesn’t say anything.” I’m not in any position of authority over her and really wasn’t telling her what to do. I’m just looking for some other opinions on what she should do.

    8. Beancounter in Texas

      She should mention it, but not necessarily in the first meeting. Once it is evident that the job will progress further than a single chat, it is appropriate to mention the pregnancy.

  10. Hilary

    I share an office with one other person. We’ve been coworkers for less than a year. She is a work gift giver and I am not. She got me cupcakes for my birthday and a present for Christmas. Will I seem like a total jerk if I don’t get her anything for her birthday?

    1. CrazyCatLady

      Hm… I think she might feel slighted since it’s obviously more of a big deal for her. Could you get her something like a cupcake or coffee or something? I think it’s a nice gesture if it wouldn’t be a financial hardship, and if she’s not your superior.

    2. TotesMaGoats

      I’m going to say outright, yes. You’d probably seem like a jerk. Especially if after you received the cupcakes and present that you didn’t say anything like “Thank you but you really don’t need to do things like this. I dont…(fill in the blank).”

      Is a card too much? Even a e-card could go a long way.

      1. HeyNonnyNonny

        +1

        Maybe get her a pastry or coffee this time, but make sure that the next time she gives you a gift, you’re clear in saying ‘thank you…but I’d rather we didn’t exchange gifts in the future.’

    3. Jenna

      You might look like a jerk, only because she had done nice things for you (and it wouldn’t be difficult to get her a cupcake or whatever). However, if you don’t get her anything, it may stop her from giving you gifts in the future. Personally, I would just do something small to maintain a polite relationship with the person I have to share an office with.

    4. Kimberlee, Esq.

      As a gift-giver myself, I want to disagree with the commentors above. Gift givers give gifts because we like making people happy and/or want to buy friendship and favor (I’m just being honest). I absolutely don’t require or expect others to make a reciprocal effort, and in fact often prefer that they don’t (I tend to feel bad about getting rid of stuff I don’t want, so it’s just clutter). Don’t feel obligated to give us gifters anything but a polite thank-you. And then do whatever you want with the gift.

      1. BRR

        I mildly disagree. I’m a gift giver, and an awesome one at that. For a coworkers birthday somebody arranged for us to take her out and pay for her (it was voluntary). I didn’t receive the same treatment on my birthday. It kind of peeves me so the coworker might be mad.

        However for gifts especially if they’re small I have given I usually don’t expect something back. In the name of workplace politics I would get something but say how you’re not really gift giver and want it to stop but do it nicer than what I typed.

        1. Somewhere Over the Rainbow

          Hmmm… I guess I would only participate in something if your heart was really in it and not because you are expecting the same treatment on your birthday? I don’t think it matters if the gift is big or small… you don’t have to participate if you don’t want to.

      2. Partly Cloudy

        I’m so happy to read this. I’m more like Hilary and was dismayed to see all the “yeah, you’re a jerk” responses. ;)

        I think things like respecting each others space and work environment preferences (music vs. silence, etc.) and good communication are far more important than keeping count of gifts. It’s totally okay to simply get along with an office mate, you don’t have to be friends.

      3. limenotapple

        I’m in this boat too. I love doing things for other people. I don’t necessarily want anything that costs money in return, but it would be nice to be acknowledged at least on my own birthday. A fun little note or something. I like the cupcake idea. or if she has a favorite candy bar or beverage or something that just says you care.

      4. Artemesia

        People who give without reciprocity are creating an uncomfortable situation for the giftee. The non-giver is making it clear that they don’t want that kind of relationship so the giver seems aggressively clueless if they continue. It isn’t making someone else happy to put them constantly in your debt when they don’t want that kind of relationship. In a social circle it would seem grasping and pushy — it feels that way at work as well.

      5. Revanche

        I tend to agree – people just don’t know me well enough to give me gifts I would appreciate (I keep to myself) but I love doing little things for my staff so they have an acknowledgment of their day. I’d appreciate a thank you, that’s it.

    5. JB (not in Houston)

      She might think that. But she might be someone who just likes giving people stuff. On the other hand, if you wouldn’t mind her to stop giving you stuff, then definitely don’t give stuff in return.

      I think the important thing, etiquette-wise, is to thank her, and not in a casual off-hand “thanks” while you are doing something else kind of way.

      You might seem like a jerk to her if she thinks that this is something coworkers should do. But on the other hand, she’d be kind of a jerk if she gives you gifts with the expectation that you have to give gifts in return. You shouldn’t force people into that kind of relationship with you. So if you don’t want to, don’t. She will figure out that you don’t give gifts in return, and she can decide what she wants to do with that information. However, only you know if she’s the kind of person who will be punitive about it, and if it will cause a problem in your work that you don’t want to deal with.

    6. Ann Furthermore

      You should probably give her something, since she’s gone out of her way to get gifts for you. A gift card to her favorite lunch spot would be perfect, and it’s an easy thing to pick up.

        1. Ann Furthermore

          I didn’t mean it that way. It’s what I would do in the same situation. It would be nice to make the co-workers cupcakes or take the time to go shop for something, but some people just don’t have time to do that. Right now I have a daughter who plays soccer, takes swimming lessons, is working on her science fair project, plus there’s dinner to take care of during the week, grocery shopping, laundry, and all the rest of it. I also do quite a bit of volunteer work at her school.

          So in this situation, even though I’d like to spend some time going shopping and picking out a gift, it just wouldn’t happen. But if I’m at the grocery store and see a Red Robin gift card and remember that’s her favorite place to have lunch, or if she loves music and I see an iTunes gift card, it’s an easy thing to pick up that is also a thoughtful gift.

    7. Lanya

      If you get her a card, it’s probably enough.

      I’m also not into giving gifts. As a rule, I don’t give presents on Christmas (to anyone, even family), and I make it very known that I don’t want presents, either. That way, people have a heads-up that I will not be reciprocating if they decide to get me something, and should hopefully not be disappointed. The only time I do presents at work , for political reasons, is if there is a Secret Santa…I don’t want to be the odd man out when everyone else is participating.

    8. Chriama

      I would say it depends on how you’ve received the gifts from her. If you’ve explicitly told her not to get you gifts and she insists on doing it anyway, then you don’t need to let her actions become an obligation for you. But if you accept them without comment, or with a perfunctory “you shouldn’t have” that doesn’t make it clear that you don’t want her to be giving you gifts, then you’ve agreed to the implicit social expectation of reciprocity.

    9. Shortie

      My opinion may be unpopular, but I would not reciprocate. I really, really, really, really hate it when people give gifts at work, and reciprocating just to be nice (which I used to do) seems to always touch off this neverending cycle of unnecessary gift-giving. I have a couple of gift-giver co-workers, and they have finally stopped with the gifts after years of my not reciprocating (yay!). It has not affected our relationships since they are the types who weren’t doing it for reciprocation anyway, and we are still good work friends. It just took them a very long time to actually believe me when I say that I prefer not to receive gifts.

      Hopefully they are not writing in the comments about what a jerk I am. :-)

    10. Kat

      No.
      It’s not cool when gift givers are pushing gifts on you and then pressure you into doing something back. And, as someone said above they do it to buy favors. That’s crap.

      Just refuse future gifts.

      And to all of the random gift givers, you think it’s a nice gesture, but it puts pressure on people to reciprocate. Save it for your friends outside of work.

      1. Dana

        I agree that gift-giving has no place at work. Friends are a different story because hopefully you’re close enough to them that you can have serious talks about who actually wants gifts, who wants to give them, and who would rather stay out of it entirely without damaging the relationship. Work is too risky. I would feel that I could not be properly honest with someone either way.

      2. anonymous daisy

        Refusing a gift might be considered rude.

        Maybe just do random acts of kindness instead if you feel like it. When you are getting a soda, maybe once in a blue moon offer to treat her to one or something like that.

    11. Buggy Crispino

      In the words of Sheldon Cooper, “Oh, Penny. I know you think you are being generous, but the foundation of gift giving is reciprocity. You haven’t given me a gift. You’ve given me an obligation.”

    12. INTP

      You might look like a bit of a jerk, but if you get her a gift this year you set a precedent. I’d probably not do a gift and hope that nipped it in the bud.

  11. hermit crab

    It’s my birthday! I’m celebrating by coming to the rescue on an important project. It’s gonna be a good day. :)

  12. TotesMaGoats

    So, my interview yesterday went great! It was long and it figures that I had a horrible cold which made for a sore throat. But I do think I rocked it.

    I do want your thoughts on how to handle future instances of the situation I’m about to describe. Had a big event on Monday and it was awesome. I’d sent my AVP a debrief with detailed numbers on Tuesday morning. Our VP then emails us asking for said details to present to exec cabinet/president and how he’s so proud of how the event went. Before I can email my AVP about forwarding my prepared email to VP, my AVP sends a MUCH edited version of my email to him. The problem is that the email contents are attributed to me but I don’t want that attribution because it looks like I’ve done a half-assed job of putting together a debrief. I’d contemplating playing dumb and sending my email instead but then another AVP chimed in that she would put together some numbers once survey results were in and send it the next day. Which she did. So the moment kind of passed.

    I assume my VP can look at the email my boss sent and determine that it was majorly edited. But what’s worse is that the information it contained is not really what he needed for that presentation to execs. I can make myself look stupid all by my self. I don’t need my boss to help me. So, because I’m entirely sure this will happen int he future, what should I do? Play dumb? Email faster? Let it go?

    1. ZSD

      Congrats on the good interview! Sending you good vibes for the results.
      As to your main question, I agree that this is a tricky situation. If it comes up again, what if you sent a quick follow-up email saying, “Hi VP, I’m also happy to provide more details if you need them”?

    2. Shortie

      I would ask the AVP for feedback on the debrief. You know, mention that you noticed it was shortened and would like to improve your next one, so could the AVP provide her thoughts behind the edits? It may be that your AVP had a good reason for the changes, such as “the VP told me she prefers brevity” or “that specific detail wasn’t necessary unless the VP asked”. Once you know the reasoning, and depending on your relationship, you can either discuss your different perspective or you can adjust future debriefs.

      1. Revanche

        I was going to say some version of “get your info directly to the VP” but then Shortie makes a good point. Do you know why the AVP made the edits or why you’re certain it’ll happen again. If not, it’d be worth checking just in case. My bosses who were worth anything would often tell me that the intended recipient of such and such memo wanted way more or less of whatever information I was going to provide, but it was only helpful because the edits were explained. We often disagreed on writing style and content but I was fine with conforming if I knew that it was catering to a preference that would allow us to communicate better.

    3. erd

      I would cc the VP when you email your AVP the results…but that might actually not be the best idea if your AVP/organization is very hierarchical.

  13. aNoN

    Hi Everyone,
    I have a problem. I am naturally a people pleaser and am starting to realize that I need constant validation that I am doing a good job. I feel insecure about my work mostly because my boss is very hands off and our one on ones are rare because our our schedules. I find myself needing to go up to him to tell him about random things I am doing because I am afraid he will think I am not doing enough. Our team is very high performing. I am the youngest and most inexperienced of the team. I joined just over a year ago and got a good review and have high hopes for myself here but I am constantly questioning myself. I get so frustrated when I make mistakes I feel I should have caught. This role has helped me develop in many ways but I still do not feel like I belong or like I deserve to be here. The constant exposure to higher management makes me nervous and I still cannot fully understand the business. I would like to eventually work in the field to help me understand the business more but those options are limited at the moment.

    Help! How can I overcome my insecurity? My team is nice and I get praised when I do a good job and when I mess something up I get called out as well and correct the issue. Even then, I don’t feel good enough. I have yet to pass a section of the CPA after three attempts and am starting to lose hope that this was the right field for me to choose.

    1. Kai

      1) Start a folder where you keep any complimentary emails, nice feedback, etc. Then go back and look at it when you start feeling down on yourself.

      2) Do some research on impostor syndrome–it might help you to know that this is really common and you’re not alone!

      FWIW, I tend to be the exact same way. It’s a little better now that I’ve been in my job for several years, and my colleagues are all really supportive, but I know exactly what you mean. Don’t force unrealistic expectations on yourself–if you’re the newest person there, and have been there just about a year, of course you don’t understand everything about the business yet. It will get easier.

    2. Dr. Johnny Fever

      aNoN – remember that the expert in anything was once a beginner.

      You belong. You deserve it. They hired YOU. Don’t doubt your sense of belonging.

      I’ve been there. Breathe. Relax your self-standards – Try reading The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown to learn more about her first-hand journey and advice.

      Embrace the praise. Find someone you trust and ask questions, perhaps ask for mentorship to shore up the weaker points. Talk to your manager about what you are doing to improve. Set measurable goals so you can see how you are “levelling up”

      One day, you’ll realize that the insecurity is less, the confidence is greater, and you can continue to evaluate your strengths and weaknesses then adapt as necessary.

      And throughout your career – lather, rinse, repeat.

    3. Dasha

      Don’t give up hope! I heard the CPA exam is really hard. Take a break, start studying again and then try again. :)

      1. cuppa

        I’ve also heard that repeatedly not-passing the CPA exam is pretty common, so this is a really good opportunity to build coping skills that you can apply to other challenges in life. Keeping at it and finally passing all three sections will do wonders for your confidence. Don’t give up!

    4. Ann Furthermore

      Don’t sweat it on the CPA exam. I passed 3 sections my first time, and it took me another 3 tries to pass the business law section. I had a terrible time studying for it because I found the subject matter incredibly dull and I couldn’t retain anything.

      Cue the snark about an accountant finding something boring…ha ha ha.

      1. Malissa

        I had to take auditing 3 times. Before and after the unified code. I found studying when my husband was 1400 miles away was the best way to do it.

    5. BRR

      I’m the same way, I have even asked for more positive feedback when I started because I wasn’t sure I was doing things right.

      There’s a quote from futurama that isn’t universal but is sometimes applicable, “when you do things right, people won’t be sure you’ve done anything at all.”

    6. Malissa

      The CPA exams are a morale killer for sure. My fairly inexpensive suggestion on those is to use the Wiley Books–fairly cheap on Amazon and a website called another71. The outlines and podcasts from the site is the reason I passed the auditing section. When you go through the questions in the book write out any questions and answers you got wrong, in full sentence form. Such as, “A material loss should be presented separately as a component of income from continuing operations when it is Unusual in nature and infrequent in occurrence.”
      Get through the exams, your confidence will come back. As for the mistakes, that’s just part of learning.

    7. Afiendishthingy

      I’m in a really similar situation! It’s really stressful at times, but when I get hung up on mistakes I try to remember that making mistakes is the best way to learn, as long as I recognize them, fix them if possible, and take steps to avoid making the same mistakes in the future. It’s growing pains. It’ll pass.

      1. Sarahnova

        I try my best to live by an old boss’s mantra – “If I’m not making mistakes, I’m playing it too safe and not learning”.

        Mistakes are growth. What matters is how you deal with them.

        1. aNoN

          Everyone, thank you for your support! The CPA studying experience has been so difficult. I am currently waiting on an exam score and am scheduled to take another section on May 30. You have no idea how much it means to me to have words of encouragement from all of you! I like the idea of storing away positive emails for a rainy day. There are some days where I feel so overwhelmed with myself that I need to sit and breathe. Again, thanks!

  14. Anna

    Hi All,

    I’d love your opinion on something that i’m contemplating! My friend works for a huge ad agency and they have a few openings for my position open. I’d really like to work there, but plan on going to grad school in August. However, this place is also known for working with employee’s and they allow ‘part-time’ work schedules. Should I still apply? My graduate degree is spot on for what their agency is trying to do, so I think I’d be a very natural fit.

    The email she sent me doesn’t specify if these options are full-time or not. I don’t want them to feel like I’m wasting their time. Should I still apply? And if I do happen to land an interview, when in the process should I bring up that I will need to be part time later?

    1. Adam

      Would it be possible to ask for more information from your friend on the scheduling expectations before you apply? If she’s a good friend and can vouch for your work she might be able to address your availability concerns for you.

    2. Yoshi

      Assuming that the school and the job are in the same city, I’d apply, and consider whether the position and the work experience might be a higher priority than the graduate degree. I’m not saying don’t go for the degree, but maybe look into part time degree options if your program allows that, or consider deferring the start date of your grad program for a year if you can get the job. My graduate program is surprisingly flexible about these things, and its not hard to move from full time to a part time academic schedule (i.e. taking two classes a semester instead of four). After all, grad school programs, especially terminal masters programs, are for getting jobs, and if you can do both at the same time- even better!

      And if you apply and don’t get the job, the no harm done! Go rock that masters degree and come out an even better candidate on the other side.

    3. Apollo Warbucks

      Apply and and ask about the options for changing your schedule of you know theyre flexible and your graduate degree is a good fit for them it can’t hurt to ask.

  15. Beebs

    Update on asking for salary increase after only a few months.

    I had posted asking for advice on how to handle salary discussion after only 6 months. I was in the position that I could barely afford basic necessities and would need to start job searching soon, but wanted to let my employer know without it seeming like an ultimatum. An opportunity to open discussion about my pay came up after my deductions increased without warning, it was shocking and I asked my boss if there were options to explore. I know that salary and raises are not about financial need, but value to the company, and being a small non-profit I understood the limitations of salary increases. The timing happened to be convenient as I was about to receive increased responsibility so there was added justification.

    I did receive a reasonable increase, however it is still not a great salary given the cost of living in my city. But it is enough to allow me to stay in this position for a while longer and not mar my resume with job hopping. I also have an interview lined up for a part time job. Not ideal, but for now I am pleased with the outcome.

    I was lucky that something happened to help me open the dialogue. I still need to work on being more assertive and
    advocating for myself in the future. Thanks to those who provided feedback!

  16. Former Diet Coke Addict

    What do you think is the role of the boss in a situation with outside suppliers?

    My company is very small and my boss is the CEO/everything, the only superior to us. Occasionally we have disputes with suppliers that usually rest on things like they insist we drop projects to work on their stuff only, ignore our requests for information or help, and so on. When we ask for backup from our boss (“can you please get them to stop harassing us on this when we have ten other projects”), he tells us “They’re really busy too, just do whatever they say.”

    Because my boss is so horrid at everything else I tend to think this may not be a 100% awesome way to do business. Do you think a manager should be backing up his people or should we be doing this ourselves? It’s hard when we email and call for days with no response on time-sensitive stuff only to lose sales because of crucial information!

    1. Ann Furthermore

      Your manager is not doing his job. He should be helping you prioritize your work, not telling you to make everyone happy all the time. If there’s too much work for the current staff to keep up with, he should be hiring more people to help you, not just telling you to magically figure out a way to get everything done.

    2. Revanche

      Oh my goodness your boss is terrible. I never use my boss in routine stuff but he’s the mallet I pull out when someone is non-responsive. I only use that mallet with outside suppliers, generally, but it’s there to be used. Suppliers work for you, dammit, and when someone harasses me in the way that you describe, that’s grounds for getting rid of them. And I have, too. Unfortunately, your boss stinks and I assume that means if you were to try to give them the boot, he’d refuse to back you on that as well?
      Unless he’s terrible when asked to handle stuff but will let you handle it on your own. That might be a solution.

    3. Not So NewReader

      There are different ways to back up employees. One way is to authorize them to settle a situation for themselves. Another way is to intervene directly.

      I would document what is happening and how often it is happening. It could be that you should get new suppliers. It could be the boss has no idea how often this happens and how long it takes to respond to their requests. You could also document how much you are losing in sales because of these suppliers. However, if your boss is not paying the suppliers in a timely manner this kind of throws a monkey-wrench into the works.

    1. CrazyCatLady

      I think that’s like asking how long the grieving process takes! It will vary depending on your exact situation, how quickly you generally recover, what your support system is like, and whether or not you’ll be going back to the environment causing the burnout!

    2. Adam

      I worked in a retail store for a year and a half before I got my current job. It took nearly four years before I’d even consider setting foot again in this particular chain in any location.

      In real time I think burnout recovery depends on a number of things: how much time you’re able to take off between jobs, the excitement about your new job, etc. If you’re staying in the same place that’s causing you the burnout and the place of employment is the culprit and not something you have much direct control over, I think burnout doesn’t begin to wane until you leave.

    3. Ash (the other one)

      And just like grieving, it can still pop up now and then even when you’re “over it”

    4. limenotapple

      I think it depends on why you were burnt out and how long you were burnt out. I am not sure I ever really recovered from burnout relating to having to work multiple jobs to survive. I still am very protective of my free time and resent being too busy.

      I think it varies by person but can take longer if you are in the same or similar place as you were when the burnout happened, even if some of the elements that caused the burnout are no longer there. I think you get over it faster if you can change to something totally different, in environment or type of job. It sucks though. Sorry if you are going through it now.

    5. Jake

      I recovered within weeks of getting a new job. However, the amount it now takes me to get burnt out is way way way less than before.

    6. Rat Racer

      I thought you were asking how long it takes to get back to your normal productivity mode after you’ve gone through a work crunch and are dealing with the exhaustion that comes in its wake. I deal with that all the time. In fact, it can sometimes be a self-perpetuating cycle of CRUNCH!! => Exhaustion/low productivity => work builds up => CRUNCH!!

      I hate that cycle. It’s so poisonous.

      For me, my energy ebbs and flows, and there are just going to be some days where I stare blankly at my screen and can’t get my brain into motion. One thing that I do try to do when I feel like I can’t get myself going is to use the time for mindless, non-urgent back-burner stuff (like filling out my expense reports, archiving my email, backing up my hard drive, etc.) Sometimes, the little endorphin boost I get for having accomplished something, even a small something, is enough to get me out of my rut.

      In general though, the length of my burnout is proportional to the amount of time I was previously crunching multiplied by any other stress in my personal life divided by how much other burning fires still need to be extinguished. I’ll confess – sometimes I have entire weeks where I feel unproductive – but I try to be kind to myself, get enough sleep, resist the urge to stay up late and catch up on the TV I missed while I was crunching…

      1. Afiendishthingy

        I feel like this is every WEEK for me! Do lots of stuff Monday through Wednesday, totally exhausted and unmotivated by Thursday. Hate it!

  17. illini02

    So this has come up in a few different threads over the last couple of weeks. But I’m really curious. When do people find it appropriate to interfere with a hiring process by contacting a hiring manager about “potential issues”. I’m not saying honestly responding to a question about a candidate or a reference call. I mean going out of your way to contact the organization because of things you know about someone interviewing there I know yesterday there were people saying there was nothing wrong with someone contacting an organization where she “knew people” although they weren’t the hiring manager. There was another not long ago referring to someone who didn’t work there but was contacted by an applicants sister.

    Personally, while I have NO problem honestly answering a question if asked, I think its a bit much to go out of my way to try to give extra information if its not a company I work for AND if I don’t really know anything about the applicants work history, just people they are associated with or if I know them personally. However, it seems I’m in the minority on that.

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      As people were saying yesterday, it’s 100% dependent on the relationship that you have with the organization they’re applying to and how confident you are about the issues in question. If you’re close to the employer and you’re sure about your assessment of the person, of course you say something.

    2. fposte

      I don’t think you’re in the minority on that, actually. I think what complicated the issue was that it wasn’t exactly that yesterday–it was an organization where the OP knew people, so there was the concern that it might reflect badly on her if she didn’t say anything. I’m in agreement with Alison and others (again, I didn’t see them as a minority, but I didn’t count) who said that’s still not a case to make it worth mentioning anything since the knowledge is neither sure nor deeply problematic.

      However, I do think I’d probably share my thoughts more often than you would. I think you and I weight hiring and applicant cases differently, so I wouldn’t be troubled by an applicant who performed poorly for me losing a job because I told a good friend about her performance, or by a friend whose work I know to be amazing bumping out another applicant because I told a prospective hirer that.

    3. Chriama

      I think it depends on your relationship with the organization, the seriousness of those issues, the ease of uncovering those issues in a typical background check, and the overall impact if that person is hired. I know there have been a couple controversial ones in the past (someone being part of a hate group and working with a vulnerable population that included the people disliked by the hate group; a volunteer having an inappropriate relationship with a student and applying to another school after being barred from their current one).

      My guidelines are:
      – if the info could be found in a simple google search or by a half-way decent reference checker, stay out of it
      – if you don’t know anyone in the organization well enough to owe them the professional courtesy of a head’s up (or for them to attribute serious weight to anything you say), don’t say anything
      However, the above 2 guidelines are contingent on this third one:
      – if this person working in that role/organization could *seriously* harm a vulnerable population (e.g. medical patients, kids/teenagers), *you need to speak up*.

      1. illini02

        I’d say I mostly agree with you. However, I think where I differ is that some people feel the need to bring up more “personal” things than professional. Its like I feel like many people say that if they knew someone socially, and they were a jerk, they’d have no problem going out of their way to tell an organization that. So while I would have no problem doing it about their professional issues that I know about first hand (I worked with Jim and he was constantly late and got fired because of it), I would have a problem with doing it just based on how people are in a social situation. And of course if there employment could seriously harm a population, I would have no problem with that.

        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          A lot of people yesterday agreed with you though, so I’m curious about why you’re casting yourself in the minority on this. (I am admittedly extra curious because I’ve seen you do that with some amount of frequency, and I’m curious about why!)

        2. Chriama

          Yeah, I wouldn’t volunteer any information about personal issues unless it was someone I knew *really* well – like a family member. If someone’s a jerk and it doesn’t come out in the interview or the reference check, the employer should be capable of disciplining them and/or enforcing a certain standard of behaviour.

        3. Beezus

          I replied over there to you an hour or so ago, and just finally made it over here. I think the social stuff vs. the work-related stuff might have come from a comment I made where I was trying to explain the nuances between a true friend vs. someone I socialize with out of necessity but might call a friend for brevity’s sake, in response to someone chastising the OP for treating someone she called “friend” the way the OP described.

          To clarify my position, because I did really muddy the waters there…terrible social behavior would lead me to hold someone at arms’ length and consider them less of a friend, but I would limit any commentary to potential employers to professional behavior. My example person happened to exhibit both.

  18. AdminAnon

    I recently hit the three year mark at my first post-college job and I am ready to look for something new. For a while, I loved my job and was convinced that I would be here long term, but there are some challenges and organizational issues which have come up in the last couple of years which I don’t anticipate being resolved any time soon. So naturally, the next step is to start applying for other jobs. However, my boyfriend and I are long distance and we have discussed me moving to be with him in 6 months or a year. So I’m not sure how to proceed–do I search in my current area, understanding that whatever I find (if anything) would be a short term position? Do I search in his area, despite the fact that finding a job would change our timeline? Do I just sit tight at my current position and hope that I can find a job there in six months? All of this is complicated by my premature sense of guilt at the mere thought of leaving my job. It’s a great organization and we are doing really cool things, but the time has come for me to move on…I just can’t fathom telling my boss that. And then there’s the fact that my roommate and I have to decide next month whether or not to renew our lease. I’m not really sure what I’m asking here, but you all have wonderful suggestions so I thought I would throw it out there and see what you come up with. Thanks everyone! :)

    1. Judy

      I personally would search in his area, if you are planning on moving anyway. It may take 6 months to find a job.

    2. Bethy

      I think if you can stick it out at your current job for a couple more months, you could start looking in the new city a few months before you plan to move. You can use that time to polish your resume, add skills, etc. so you don’t feel like you’re wasting time, but that would help stick to the relationship timeline. I personally wouldn’t leave for a short-term job in the same town, knowing I would be moving soon–it’s probably easier to tell your boss you’re leaving to move to a new city than just to a new job.

      Can you do a shorter term lease? I know that can be more expensive, but it would make it easier to move whenever the job comes up.

      1. Jader

        This.
        Three months before we bought our house our lease came due for renewal. They usually only do one year leases but because we were excellent renters (mostly just paid our rent on time, every time) they made an exception and let us renew month to month for the same price. Never hurts to ask.

    3. Jenna

      Would you and your boyfriend be open to moving in together sooner rather than later?
      If not, I would consider staying in your current position if you can stand to, because more time at that position will look better on your resume than 3 years there plus 6 months elsewhere. When you get close to your moving date, you can add the date you are relocating and the area you are moving to the top of your resume, under your contact information. You should not feel guilty about leaving because people do it all the time and 3-4 years is great for your first post-college job.

    4. BRR

      Is there a chance of you moving sooner?

      I’m with Bethy, stick it out for a little longer than look in new city. Job hunting takes a while, you should concentrate on new city. It’s too much effort to find something for a couple months and the job hop or hole in your resume isnt worth it.

    5. Pizza Lover

      If you’re absolutely sure that you’ll move, job hunt for the new city when the time comes. If there aren’t any major issues going on at your current job and you actually like being there for the most part, stick it out ! :-)

  19. Dr. Johnny Fever

    I have a teammate who joined us recently who is not a fit to the team. He is an employee, and he treats our vendors as 2nd class, he complains that we don’t interact with him, and he complains that we don’t make decisions as a team. He has complained to my boss.

    From my standpoint: He comes in a hal hour after daily standup and refuses to come in earlier. The vendors don’t appreciate how he treats them. He’s often away from our area, hanging with his old team. He doesn’t consider a decision to be a “team” decision unless it supports his suggestion. If he feels rejected, he shuts down. As a bright spot, he is great at training our new employees (although he tells them weird cultural things about our dept that aren’t true).

    My co-manager and I have been dealing with this for several months, trying to foster the team atmosphere, reinforce expectations, and ask for feedback regularly. We switched to his favorite candy in room stash and we ask him for input when he is quiet. We’ve made direct requests: come in by x:00 for this meeting, work in the room and not in his own area, become engaged, but he won’t do it.

    Complicating the issue: our manager thinks this gentleman walks on water. We thinks he walks on other peoples’ backs like a crab.

    Any suggestions on how to improve the situation and continue to self-manage, or any other direction to take from here?

    1. fposte

      Can you clarify who he reports to? It sounds like you’re his manager but then it sounds like the manager above you really is the report. Do you have firing authority over him?

      I would ease up on the catering to him and start giving him sterner feedback about his deficits, indicating that they’re obstacles to his progression here. But if you don’t have the authority to do this, I’d document what work impact there is with Bob’s and ask for guidance on how to deal with the workload or repair the problems.

      1. Dr. Johnny Fever

        Fair point. My co-manager and I are not HR managers, but work managers. Bob reports to us in terms of getting his work done, but is a peer in HR structure. All three of us share the same people leader.

        We’ve been giving feedback to him – I should also mention we’ve been giving feedback to the rest of the team as they complain to give time for adjustment and provide their own direct feedback. Since he treats them as 2nd class, they are timid.

        We haven’t been documenting, per se, but we have specific examples. Our leader believes that team dynamic = results, so he’ll support us. At this point, I think the last step is to remove Bob, but I don’t know if that’s possible.

    2. brightstar

      How much of this is a personality conflict? Was he desirous of being transferred to your team or was it against his wishes? It seems like there’s a bit of remorse if he’s spending so much time in the old area he worked in. Is this affecting his work or anyone else’s?

    3. Not So NewReader

      I would document a week or two of behaviors and then go to my boss and say, “how do you want me to handle this?” Definitely quit with the niceties.

  20. Nervous Accountant

    The honest to god truth and I hate feeling like this but it gets lonely at work. It’s worse when my boss is away Bc everyone talks and takes extended breaks (the break area is close to my desk so I’m within full earshot of any talking and laughing so it can be distracting and bothersome. Doesn’t happen when my boss isn’t in the office).

    I feel like I have no friends left here. No one is outwardly hostile (aside from 1 incident) and I haven’t come across any issues wrt work itself….I had one friend but she doesn’t seem to want to talk to me anymore either …If I go into details here or say how I really feel I’m afraid I will sound very immature or not serious about my job. I want to keep my head down and work hard. I wish I wouldn’t lose focus. Is there a fast way to forget about this?

    I’m no stranger to self reflection, I’m always listening to criticism to improve on myself and I ACT ON IT. I read the annoying behaviors thread and I really did examine my own behavior and Unless it’s a bitch eating crackers thing…..I don’t see that I do anything that others aren’t doing. I don’t intrude on conversations I help whenever asked, I offered to help and was snidely turned away, I sit by myself, I don’t take extra food, I don’t eat loudly, I don’t take personal calls (maybe once in a week and I clock out)….If I “be myself” I’m not liked. If Im conscious and neurotic about everything I do and say…..:I’m still not liked.

    Fwiw quitting or looking for s new job isn’t an option for me not now or ever really Bc I do like working here and I like most of my coworkers for the most part.

    1. Vanishing Girl

      I hope someone has good advice here, because I could use it too! I have one work friend, but we don’t see each other as much as we’re in different departments now. I really liked my old environment where I got to know a lot of coworkers well and being here is just… different. I thought a year after I started I’d feel more at home, but some days it feels very lonely.

      So I can at least share some commiseration.

    2. limenotapple

      I am so sorry. It sucks being lonely. I feel the same way in a lot of situations.

      Is it possible that they like you more than you realize? I am only suggesting this because so often in my life, this was the case. I was convinced that no one wanted to be my friend, which made me even less likely to blend in, when it wasn’t the case.
      I have tried my whole life to act normal when I don’t feel normal…I know I’m weird. One thing that helped me a lot is group therapy I found through a one-on-one therapist and that helped me really understand group dynamics better. It helped a lot for my workplace. It was just a group that mainly focused on communication and whatnot.
      I’m not there with you so it is hard to tell. I guess the other option that I have taken before is to work with my own thoughts so I could care a lot less about it, and just form the mindset that I am there to do a job. It takes a lot of self-talk and changing my negative thoughts every time I have one.
      I wish I could help more…it sounds like you are really having some feelings about this. Is it something that you’ve found a lot in your life or just this place?

    3. Pizza Lover

      So sorry to hear this. I can’t say that I have any amazing advice and I wish I did, because we’re at work so often and we need that to be a welcoming place for us. But is there any way that you can focus on your family and friends outside of work? It sounds like you’ve done as much as you can do aside from straight pestering the people that you work with.

    4. Dawn

      Do you reach out and try to connect with people? Do you smile and say hello when you see them? Say good morning, go out of your way to say good night? Do you ask how people are doing or make small talk? I am, by nature, pretty darned introspective and shy, so I have to FORCE myself to do this with other people- and until I start doing this, I feel like no one likes me and no one notices me. But what I’ve come to realize is that the vast, vast, vast majority of people are just as shy and intimidated by talking to people as I am! I started a new job 5 weeks ago and have really noticed that by making an effort to warm up to people they have warmed up to me. Some of them are naturally more chatty or open or whatever which is to be expected because everyone has different personalities, but so far everyone here that I’ve talked to has warmed up to me and is now saying hello and being more friendly.

    5. Malissa

      Honestly I found that having a good group of friends outside of work helps. I’ve got a couple of groups of friends that connect on facebook that keep me sane. At work I’m usually in a position that gets a cold reception anyway. Nobody ever wants to be friends with the person who is tasked with auditing and finding mistakes.

    6. RidingNerdy

      I don’t have friends at work. I have colleagues and coworkers, but not anyone I’d consider a friend (but, I’m also an executive, so not a lot of potential friends, anyway). I participate in office chit-chat about life but am otherwise pretty focused on work when I’m at work.

      I’m sorry that you feel lonely, but is it really necessary to have friends at work? Remain professional in your interactions – offering help when it appears needed, performing highly on work given to you, enhancing your skills during downtime, etc – and those who need to notice that behavior should notice it.

      Forget about the office cliques – they aren’t worth the heartache.

    7. Random Reader

      Are you me? I’m in this situation right now. I’ve found that having things to look forward to outside of work really helps when work is a pain.

    8. 20something

      I feel your pain. I’ve been at my job for over a year now and I’m still not really accepted into the clique. The thing is I don’t want to be part of the clique (don’t like the people in it), but it’s still lonely at work. I got so fed up and unhappy I went to a counseling session.

      I don’t know how much this would help, but this is a basic psychology diagram: http://www.guelphtherapist.ca/blog/images/cbt-model.jpg. The idea goes that each factor (thoughts, feelings, behavior, body) if stimulated will affect other factors. So, for instance, if you are feeling sad sitting behind your desk, you can get up, go for a walk, and the change in behavior can affect your feelings and thoughts. You’ll have to find something that will help alleviate your loneliness and sadness.

    9. Dana

      I can commiserate for sure. I have almost been here for a year and I feel so lonely sometimes. It wouldn’t bother me if everyone were just the show-up-do-job-go-home type, but when a bunch of my peers are openly talking about game night or going out during lunch to buy the goodies for their get together at so-and-so’s new house, it can be so depressing. It would be different if it was clear that people other than co-workers were going, but it always seems like just co-workers hanging out, and even inviting old co-workers which really makes me feel like crap. I’ve tried to convince myself that it doesn’t matter to me because I don’t enjoy some of the activities (drinking) but some days I just want to cry. Then I feel like a loser for wanting so desperately to be included when in reality if invited, I don’t know if I’d go!

      I’m sorry you feel this way. It really sucks.

    10. LQ

      Focus on making friends outside of work. And then, yes, stop and take breaks during the day to email them. Read a news article, check facebook, whatever. Really focus on keeping your relationships with people work and professional. That’s not to say don’t smile and laugh and be friendly. But don’t aim to cultivate those into friendships.

      Even if it seems like a lot of effort put an effort into having x number of social activities post work. You’ll have a social thing to look forward to each day. Join meetups, join clubs, take a community ed class in something (even the tiny little 50 person town I grew up in had community ed classes, heck I taught one when I was like 14, you can teach them too, not just take them), find an online forum full of Nervous Accountant’s People. They are out there. Find them out there.

      Don’t find them at work. Don’t look for them or expect them at work.

    11. Dasha

      This is me right now! I work in a really small office and no one is really buddy-buddy here. Do you have someone you can call on your lunch break or text? Emailing too! I love sending an email or two during the day to a friend and having a reply to look forward to.

    12. Afiendishthingy

      I think you’ve said before you’re not eligible for benefits as a temporary employee so therapy isn’t an option for you. A friend of mine swears by co-counseling which is sort of like group therapy but isn’t led by a therapist? Not sure if it’s free but I don’t think it costs much. Google “co-counseling international” for details. I think probably at this point your insecurities are holding you back.

    13. Not So NewReader

      Change your focus, change your life. I spent so many years wondering how I came across to other people. I never gained any ground. For whatever reason, I changed. I started spending more time being concerned about others than me and that WORKED.

      The thing to understand here is that everyone else is lost in their own stuff, too. In order to break through that barrier, show an interest in them and their concerns/interests.
      Make it your goal to learn everyone’s name and one thing about them. Sue has a dog that she is crazy about. Bob has his first grandchild. Mary just bought a house. Write this stuff down if you have to, keep it out of sight. Once in a while ask about the dog/grandkid/house. Take an equal interest in everyone- spread yourself out.

      My theory is that we have a finite amount of brain space. You can either use that space to track your every move and measure it on some invisible success scale OR you can learn something about the person next to you. We cannot do both, we have to pick one. I suggest doing the latter. The problem with introspection is that it’s endless and it’s exhausting. And that is not the worst part. The worst part is that it does not bring great results. No one comes up to us and says, “I see you do a lot of introspection and you have really examined your heart and soul.”

      I’d bet my last chocolate donut that people think you do not like them. Hmm. Do you like them? I have caught myself doing this one. I think that Jane does not like me. My mind goes around and around. Then I realize that I, either, do not like Jane myself or I have not even figured out my opinion of Jane. Next I realize that I have wasted huge blocks of time on Jane and I did not even like Jane (or I had no opinion of her). ugh.

      Punch line: We are being paid to get along with those that we work with. Decide to build enough of a relationship (not even going as far as friendship) that you can chat with most people around you. Use that as you goal. Start by learning/knowing their names and one thing about them. You don’t have to have a particular at-work friend. It’s nice when it happens. But if you can find several people that will smile and chat with you then you will find that the intensity of what you are feeling now will drop back some.

  21. AmyNYC

    This is just venting, but one of the partners are my company says things that are just so awkward and awful that I need to share:

    “Carmen can leave early because she has kids, but I expect the rest of you to stay as long as I stay”

    He brought his new baby grandson to show off around the office, everyone appropriately ooo’d and awww’d and then he said to me (a childless 28 year old woman) “So Amy, now you’ve had your fill and won’t need to have your own baby for a long time!”

    Stressing that we MUST take an hour lunch break but 5 minutes later says “No one has ever been successful working only 40 hours a week”

    At an all staff meeting, someone mentioned being sick over the weekend – “That’s why you’re the best employee – he’s sick on his own time and recovered by Monday!”

    1. Answering Anon

      Yeah, my boss is the same way. He doesn’t like people to miss work, at all. He thinks if people aren’t here and working then the firm is losing a lot of money – which may be true. He hates it the most when people are out because they have to take care of stuff for their kids. I just go along with it because if I’m not with him, I’m against him (in his head). I am also your age and I do wonder what my boss’s reaction would be if I were ever to be pregnant because I am almost positive it wouldn’t go well.

    2. Beancounter in Texas

      He’s obviously never been around women who often want to have a baby of their own after being around someone else’s baby.

      Does he even hear the words coming out of his mouth?

    3. Alison with one L

      I don’t understand where this “full time means more than 40hours” thing came from. If I knew that I would be supported in working only 40 hours if I could finish all of my work, I would probably be much more efficient and proactive. At this point, I know that I will be expected to be at the office outside by 7:30 – 4:00 schedule. I have taken a luxurious 1-hour lunch ONCE (outside of organized team outings). I usually work straight through lunch, and I usually don’t eat until well past 1:30.

    4. Dana

      We are not “childless”, we are “childfree”. Less implies we are lacking something. :)

      1. Clara

        Some of us ARE lacking something. Something we dearly, desperately want that eludes us. Something we are trying so hard to have. You may be child-free, and good for you, but I am childless and it hurts like hell.

        Please don’t presume to tell others how they should identify.

  22. Cruciatus

    Well, I hope I made the right decision. I took my state’s civil service exam for administrative assistant 1 positions last month and this past weekend I received a notice from a local town’s housing authority that I was referred to them for an interview. But it’s in another town than where I live and further than I’d like to commute. And housing authority….that does not sound like a place where I’d do well. It’s the same amount of money I make now (which is not a lot). Though it was for fewer hours… And yes, there were probably government benefits if I did receive the position. But my gut said “pass” on this one. Everyone else can’t believe I wouldn’t try for it. I do want out of my current workplace, but not for a more stressful one, further away. Especially if, at least at first, I wouldn’t be getting any more pay (and I don’t know how often pay is increased at the local government level anyway). I’ve also applied to non-government jobs I’m way more excited about (though I haven’t heard back from them yet). I’ll just have to keep my fingers crossed that more positions will come up in the 2 years that my exam scores are posted. I felt good about my decision until my friends all expressed a bit of surprise that I wouldn’t at least interview!

    1. Retail Lifer

      If you already know the commute is going to bother you, don’t do it. Even though you’d technically be making the same, you’d be coming out behind because of the extra gas money. A longer commute might be worth it for a better opportunity, but you already know this might not be the right fit. I’d trust your gut on this one.

    2. CheeryO

      There is something to be said for getting in somewhere, anywhere when it comes to the government, since it can be easier to transfer around once you’re in. There’s also something to be said for accepting any and all interviews, if only to practice, since government interviews can be weirdly rigid. But I think you made the right decision, based solely on the commute. I think it’s reasonable to assume that you’ll get more bites, too, since it’s only been a month!

      (I’ve been in your shoes, too. I turned down a couple different positions in my agency before the right one came up, and everyone thought I was nuts. Luckily, it worked out for me! I hope it does for you, too.)

      1. Cruciatus

        I sure hope it works out! I just got a rejection email from one of those non-government jobs I was excited about. D’oh! Thank you both for saying that not taking that one interview (and I have to remember it was just an interview, not actually a job offer), isn’t the worst thing in the world… There’s gotta be something out there that’s a better fit for me. I wish it would come around sooner…but I just have to have hope it’s around the bend somewhere.

    3. Brett

      It is always worthwhile to research the recent pay history of that local government. Things can change abruptly (my employer gave merit raises every year for 18 years, then stopped indefinitely the year I was hired). In general though, recent trends for that specific government are going to be indicative of future trends.
      One other thing to look at is the development of that city itself. If it has a contracting tax base, expect raises to become rare or even go away in the future. If it has an expanding tax base (e.g. rapidly growing city), then raises will be regular and possibly generous for a while.

      The department can matter too. Honestly, housing authority is normally not going to be at the top of the list for raises, on top of having a lot of negative contacts with the public.

    4. Lily in NYC

      One thing I have learned over the years is to always trust my gut about jobs. The two times I let my head overrule my gut, I ended up with jobs I hated from day one.

  23. Anon for this

    If you have an office, and you hold a meeting in that office, the etiquette is to close the door, right? So the people in the cubes near you don’t have to listen to your meeting? That’s, like, the point of having an office with a door?

    1. A Jane

      I hate when there’s a meeting in someone’s office with too many people. As a result, it’s too stuffy and you need to keep the door open to allow for air. Like, if there’s more than 3 people, go to a conference room!

      1. Ann Furthermore

        Sometimes you can’t find a conference room, though. The situation at my company is ridiculous. If you don’t schedule your meeting at least a week out, you’ll have a hard time finding an open conference room. If there’s an empty office you can use, that’s better than huddling up in a cubicle or meeting in the cafeteria, which are the only other options.

    2. HeyNonnyNonny

      YES, please! My cube is right next door to an exec office and a conference room, and it can get surprisingly loud!

    3. Learning & Growing

      Yes! I think anytime two or more people are gathered somewhere and having a detailed discussion, they should be in a conference room or in someone’s office.

    4. ZSD

      Huh. I guess this must depend on the office. In my office, it’s normal to keep your door open unless you’re discussing something particularly sensitive. I guess if I expected the meeting to be unusually loud for some reason, I’d close my door.

      1. Olive Hornby

        Yes, I think this is a cultural thing – if the door is closed, I assume something secret is going on and am even more distracted!

        1. Anon for this

          Interesting!

          I have no idea what the culture here is. I always close the door when I hold meetings (to keep it quieter in the cube farm), and the woman with the office across from me rarely has meetings in her office. I wouldn’t know about what other people do – I don’t notice when I’m passing by.

          1. Anon for this

            Oh, also: We work in a HIPAA environment, so nobody would be surprised by a closed-door meeting. Closed door, to me, indicates that I shouldn’t stop by – whether it’s because a meeting is going on or the person is declaring quiet work time.

        2. skyline

          I close my doors for all meetings, so no one can read anything into whether the door is open and closed. It could be a routine 1:1, it could be a special thank you, it could be apologizing for being cranky earlier in the day, it could be me having a serious coaching conversation.

      2. Jake

        +1

        A closed door in any office I’ve been in means somebody is either getting their yearly review or is being severely reprimanded/fired.

        1. Windchime

          Oh, wow. It can mean that here, but it can also mean: There is a 1:1 meeting going on, the occupant is signaling that they are heads-down working and wish to not be interrupted, the occupant is on a phone call that is loud or that they don’t want overheard, or (as was the case today) we were calling our boss to sing Happy Birthday to him on his work-at-home day and we didn’t want to disturb the office.

    5. it happens

      Yes. That is exactly the point. Close the door and let everyone else keep doing their work without being distracted by your conversation. (Also applies to very loud speakerphone calls, not that I’d know anything about that.)

    6. Anie

      My boss drives me crazy with this. Every other managers will close their door, but mine doesn’t. I tried closing it once and no one in the meeting said anything about it, but my boss seems to prefer it open. Sometimes we’re really loud, too. (Hey, if a boring meeting delves into jokes for 5 minutes, I’m not going to protest.) I just would find it more respectful to the cube farm outside her office if her door was shut during meetings. Of course, she’s also a loud, personal phone conversation talker and never shuts her door for that either sooo…

    7. LQ

      I agree that this is a cultural thing. The only time doors get closed there’s a Serious Conversation happening. Most meetings in offices are open door and often if someone else pops a head in to see if the person is free the quick question might get answered, or the person would be told when to try again, or that person might get pulled into the conversation depending on what it is. The point of the door here is for those Serious Conversations. (Performance issues, problems, etc.) If you just want to review the latest documents for something, it would be strange to close the door.

  24. Beancounter in Texas

    Friday Fun! What’s the best advice you’ve received that you’ve applied to your career?

    1. Ann Furthermore

      Not advice, really, but I was taught a harsh lesson at an early age that I never forgot.

      When I went to college my parents told me they expected me to find a job to earn spending money. I was living in the dorms, and they were hiring people to work in the cafeteria/dining hall. So I got a job there: serving food, washing dishes, and so on. I hated it. Haaaaated it. With a passion. Washing people’s nasty dishes completely grossed me out, and because I was very shy and insecure, I was quite self-conscious when I was on server duty in my lovely hairnet.

      Anyway….I did not do a very good job. I half-assed it when I was there, called in sick (or whatever) way too often, and I’m ashamed to say there were even a few times when I just flat didn’t show up (my only excuse was that I was 18, clueless, and stupid). The semester ended, and I headed home for the break. When I got back to school, I called up my boss in the cafeteria to ask her what my schedule for the new semester would be. She told me not to bother coming in, because I’d been unreliable, hadn’t done that great a job when I’d bothered to show up, and that there were plenty of other people who wanted that job more than I did and were willing to work much harder than I did.

      Ouch. That was quite the rude shock and wake-up call. It was a lesson I’ve never forgotten.

        1. Ann Furthermore

          Well, I totally had it coming. Great lesson though…I learned that when you have a job, you work hard at it, even if you hate it. And also that if you don’t do your job to the best of your ability, there’s someone else out there who will be happy for the chance to do it for you and earn some money.

      1. GTA

        My small liberal arts college required all freshmen doing work-study to work in dining services. It was a smart arrangement because it ensured the big work force needed, and socially, it made a huge difference in how students treated all the cafeteria workers, because if you hadn’t worked there, you knew someone who did!

    2. Dawn

      Write it down. Write it ALL down. Write down what you think people said. Write down what you said in response. Email them to confirm what you think they said. Write down what you did every day. Write down your project milestones. Write down the projects you worked on, write down your contributions to said project, write down particular struggles you overcame and how you overcame them.

      Basically when it comes to your career ALWAYS be thinking of the future. Be thinking of a week from now when you’re going to need to refer to what Wakeen said in the meeting you had today. Be thinking of a month from now when you’re going to need to remind Wakeen that you emailed his team right after the meeting to tell them what needed to be done. Be thinking of a year from now when the project you’re all on is finished and you want to be able to point to exactly the pain points that you helped overcome when you’re making an argument to get a raise. Be thinking of three years from now when you’re interviewing for a new job and need to point to your accomplishments.

      I wish that someone had stapled that to my forehead when I’d graduated college, because it took me a LONG time to learn!

      1. I'm a Little Teapot

        Thanks – I need to remember this. I also need to remember to write it all down in an organized fashion, in a place where I can access it easily.

    3. Alison with one L

      Learn your audience! Learn everything you can about them.

      This applies to hiring – we learn a lot here at AAM about what hiring managers think, prefer, and expect. THAT is knowing your audience.

      This applies to presentations – this is probably the best skill to learn for presentations. You need to know what they already know, you need to know what they will need to know, you need to know what they will ask questions about.

      This applies to interacting with your boss – if your boss is going to be upset by an email you need to send to a large audience, give her a headsup. If you boss prefers calls over emails, use that to your advantage. Learn your manager and life will become much easier.

      Really, this applies everywhere. It’s hard to learn, but it’s invaluable.

    4. Jake

      Nobody bats a thousand.

      Failure is going to happen on a near constant basis, figure out how to accept it and learn from it or get out of this business now.

      I reacted poorly to a relatively minor failure in large part due to imposter syndrome when I was told this. I was worked up over something that wouldn’t have even registered on my boss’s radar to talk to me about if I hadn’t beaten myself up so much about it.

      I still struggle mightily with this, but I try to remember that conversation when I start feeling like I suck at my job.

    5. Colleen

      Faith, family, work. Put the first two in any order you want, but work should always come third.

    6. anon attorney

      Not advice, but a learning experience. When I was in my early teens I had a weekend job in a deli. For some reason I thought that if I did the work tasks it didn’t matter if I was pleasant to my coworkers, and since I didn’t like most of them, I made no effort whatsoever. I was fired because I was ‘not fitting in’. I’m grateful to the boss for teaching me the importance of cordial working relationships ( and my mom for sympathising while still making it a teachable moment).

    7. Roman Holiday

      Ask for want you want and don’t be afraid to advocate for yourself. Even if it feels pushy or awkward to say that you deserve a raise or a promotion, or you want to change your workflow, keep telling yourself that no one is going to hand you a career advancement on a silver platter. Assuming you have a functional workplace, (based on the stories here, this may be a big assumption) no one will think badly of you for thinking of your own career.

  25. CrazyCatLady

    I’m very self-motivated and high-performing but work in an environment where almost everyone else is not that way. While it seems to be very much appreciated that I AM high performing, there doesn’t seem to be any expectation or desire for others to become that way. As a result, it’s kind of demoralizing, depressing and demotivating to me. How do you keep your motivation and desire to be a strong performer up when no one around you is motivated at all?

    1. Learning & Growing

      I try to stay focused on where I’m headed. I’ve seen star performers get promoted while others languish in their laziness. When it comes to *your* life and career, it’s not going to matter whether those around you are motivated. You’ll easily outshine them and, as a result, move to a higher level, whether it’s at this job or another one.

      1. CrazyCatLady

        Thanks for the response. Another thing I should have mentioned is that it’s a very small family company without any room for growth. I know I’ll have to look for another job eventually, but I need to stay here for at least one more year in the meantime.

        1. Learning & Growing

          I worked in a small company with a star performer. There wasn’t much room for him to move up, but he got a lot of perks–extra vacation time, a work-from-home arrangements, etc.–because he was consistently great. If your only real concern is others’ lack of motivation, my suggestion is for you to continue to kick butt and move on after a year with stellar references.

        2. KathyGeiss

          This situation sucks. Could you identify things you could focus on that will help you land that next gig in a year. For instance, think about what successes you’ll want to be able to highlight in an interview or cover letter and find ways to tackle those tasks in your current role. That flips the focus from “working for people who don’t value performance” to “working to set myself up for success and it happens to benefit my current employer”

          1. CrazyCatLady

            Thanks – yeah, that’s basically what I try to do. Some days it works out better than others. :)

    2. Snoskred

      Oh CrazyCatLady, I do feel for you. :(

      The best manager I ever worked for inspired everyone around her to be like you. I’ve never pushed myself so hard in a job before. When she left, everyone who was hired after she left was just downright terrible at their jobs, and by that time I was in a role that meant I had to constantly fix their screwups.

      I had high expectations for myself and for my fellow senior operators, and all their screwups just pushed us to be better at our jobs. :) So the only thing I can say is to expect more of yourself than anyone else does and keep pushing yourself, purely to please yourself. :)

    3. OriginalYup

      It sounds like you’re awesome, so keep doing that. :) I read something once that stuck with me, how working with low performers and complainers is like running a marathon — you need to visualize the goal and picture yourself getting there as your tick off the miles, in order to tune out the surrounding negativity and distractions.

      Keep doing great work because you believe in doing great work. Set performance and learning goals for yourself, and then reward yourself when you meet them (a decadent latte, a day off, a walk outside — whatever works). Keep reading career sites like AAM to keep your head in the right space. Maybe try to go to conferences or other work events outside your own office, so you can meet and interact with other awesome people. Update your resume periodically with all your achievements and accomplishments, so you can look it and think “Wow, I’m rocking this job!”

    4. Not So NewReader

      It helps to have a few tools to draw on because if one does not work on a particular day then another one might. I have told myself these things:

      1) “I am learning new skills or having experiences that will look great on my resume.”

      2)”Work, just like life, is what I make it. I can either see things as unfair and a PITA or I can see things as opportunities to grow me. I have a choice. ”

      3)”My coworker refuses to do anything extra. This means probably ten years from now my coworker will still be here refusing to do anything extra. Do I want this to happen to me?”

      4) “Skills build on each other. Refusal to handle what is in front of us, stops our building process. I cannot grow more skills by refusing to do my best with what is in front of me.”

      5) “Don’t look for fairness at work or in life. The only fairness I will probably find is what I give to other people.” Add-on: “I do not see the fairness others give me because I need to put my glasses on.”

      Keep in mind that you will have to move on from this job at some point. It’s a slippery slope and gradually you will just want to be with people who have a work ethic closer to yours.

  26. Learning & Growing

    I gossiped about my boss to a coworker, who ended up telling her boss about it. Her boss then told my boss, and then my boss called me into her office and asked if the rumors were true. I told her they were and respectfully explained why I didn’t feel like I could talk to her about the problems I’d been having with her management style. She was upset, essentially saying she had lost respect and trust for me. I apologized for her having to find out my feelings in that way and she accepted it, but I know things will be different now.

    Because we’re a small team of just four, I feel the tension will be all-too-evident now. I’m applying for jobs, but I don’t want to jump into anything just to escape this situation. I don’t want to be forever labeled the black sheep here, either. Any thoughts on how I should proceed?

    1. CrazyCatLady

      These things do happen unfortunately and hopefully you learned your lesson. I would just focus on being as positive and helpful as possible and stop gossiping. Go above and beyond in your position and make yourself as valuable as possible.

    2. cuppa

      As someone else who learned the hard way, do your best to not dwell on it. It can be moved on from, but it will take some time. Do your best to be accepting of the consequences (lack of trust for a bit) and show that you can do your best to be trustworthy. Good luck.

    3. some1

      I’m not judging because I know I have done this, too, but I think it might help if you give a better apology. Instead of, “I’m sorry you found out I think you suck”, I think it would help if you stated that you realize there was no excuse for you to gossip about your boss and you are sorry for being disrespectful.

      You can do this and still have issues with how she manages.

    4. Ann Furthermore

      Even though you’ve apologized to her, I would schedule some time with her to do so again — something initiated by you, not by her. You probably only need about 10 or 15 minutes of her time. Say something like, “I just wanted to apologize again for what happened. I really was out of line and handled things very badly. I know it will take some time, but I hope we can eventually put this behind us and move forward.”

      I understand the urge to look for a new job, but I would advise against that. Things will be challenging and difficult for awhile, but if you can handle it well and get through it, it’s an opportunity to really learn a lot about how to deal with difficult people and situations. That is always a valuable skill to have.

      And if you do have problems with your boss again like the one that prompted you to gossip with your co-worker, deal with it head-on and talk to your boss. You can disagree with someone and still do it in a respectful manner. That will show her that you’re trying to learn from your earlier mistakes.

      1. Learning & Growing

        Thanks, everyone! I really appreciate the advice.

        I actually did initiate a conversation with her after the first confrontation. I acknowledged my mistake and apologized. She was (understandably) stoic, but that’s when she said she accepted my apology.

        I agree that running away from this isn’t the best idea. It’s still early in my career (I’m 28), and I’m trying to look at this as a life lesson.

        1. Ann Furthermore

          Good for you for doing that. One of the hardest things to do (no matter what your age) is to be objective about something that’s happened, and take responsibility for your part in/of it. But it really is valuable if you can be honest with yourself (sometimes brutally honest) and try to take something from it that you can use going forward.

          I had a Very Bad Boss a few years ago. We got off on the wrong foot, and our personalities clashed right from the start. He really was a colossal jerk, but I behaved pretty badly a few times too. I have often wondered if I had handled some things better, or not let my temper get the better of me and shot my mouth off a few times, if things would have worked out differently.

          I moved to another department, and he and I ended up working together as peers on a big project. I was very apprehensive about this, but my boss told me to suck it up and deal with it. I was pleasantly surprised when we ended up working together pretty well. At one point, he even offered me a hesitant, roundabout apology for what had transpired between us in the past. The lesson I learned from that was that working for someone (as their direct report) and working with someone (as their peer) can be 2 totally different experiences. There is a director here that I’ve worked with quite a few times, and I really like him and think he’s a very nice guy. But people I know in his organization really don’t like him at all. They know a side of him that I don’t, but that has nothing to do with my working relationship with him, so I just file away the things I hear as “interesting information” and disregard it.

          1. Not So NewReader

            This is a great example of the amazing things you can see if you stick with a situation. Stories very seldom pan out the way we think they are going to, there is usually a little twist or an unforeseen that changes the direction of the story.

            OP, other people have done worse things to bosses, honest. It feels awful but give it time and that awful feeling will dissipate somewhat. Do your best every day. Keep your actions transparent. If you want to move on then do so, do not stay just to prove a point. Sometimes a person can feel crappy about a job and put it on the boss’ shoulders when the real problem is that it’s just a crappy job and it has very little to do with the boss. Maybe this is your real lesson here.

    5. Snoskred

      Learning & Growing – This is a good time to learn about having a vault and using it.

      I never say something about someone behind their back that I have not already said to their face. :)

  27. Vanishing Girl

    How do you know when to apply for a promotion? There is a job opening right now for a new position that would be my direct supervisor and head up a new group for our company. I want to apply, but I’m also afraid to do so. I’ve only been in my current role for 7-8 months, but I want to do something with more variety and responsibility. But I have a good dose of impostor syndrome and it’s getting in the way.

    What made you decide to apply for a promotion, if someone didn’t suggest it to you?

    1. Vanishing Girl

      I should note that I am pretty well qualified for the position, but I don’t have everything they want. Roles in this department will change once the new person comes in, and I’m really hoping I could do something one step above what I’m doing now but not the supervisory role. I’ve volunteered for new projects in my current role, but since we are in limbo I’m told to just wait. I am afraid that I’ll still be in my current job if I don’t go for this new thing, and I don’t know that’s a good enough reason to apply for it.

      1. LCL

        Where I work (large company) people will apply for jobs they have no interest in, or have no interest in at that time. It is considered completely acceptable. They do it because this is the best way to get interview practice.

        And consider this-an article I read recently, but am too busy to look up, said one big reason for women not progressing in their careers as fast as men is women won’t apply for promotion unless they think they meet all requirements, where a man will apply if he thinks he meets any. Speaking in generalities, of course.

        1. Vanishing Girl

          Interesting: I never thought about this as interview practice! That would really help. I am also at a large company, so maybe it could be seen this way here.

          I have read something similar, which is part of the reason I feel that maybe I should apply. Perhaps it’s me getting in my own way when other people are applying that meet even fewer qualifications than I do.

    2. BRR

      Would you apply for this position if you weren’t in your current one? I’m wondering if you’re hoping to get a leg up because you’ve proved yourself even if you are missing some qualifications, 7-8 months is just a little short of whe id say go for it.

      1. Vanishing Girl

        I would be thinking about it, but would be even less confident than I am now. I have the subject training they are asking for, but not as much management or this particular industry experience. If I was in my old job, I’d figure: give it a shot! But I am more familiar with what/who would work best for this role, and I don’t know that it’s me.

        I also feel it’s a little soon, but part of me is anxious that THIS IS IT. I think I already know I don’t actually want the position but I’m afraid nothing else will happen. I don’t know why I think like this.

        1. fposte

          Two questions: do you think it would hurt you any to apply? And is there anyone at the company who might be able to give you more insight into the trajectory possibilities?

          1. Vanishing Girl

            I don’t know that it would hurt me to apply unless others saw it as I was trying to do things too soon and maybe thought too much of myself. But I don’t think there is an obvious penalty for applying, but rather an unspoken penalty that might hurt chances later.

            I’ve talked to the hiring manager (2 levels above me), and they were cagey about what possibilities there are. From what I can understand, they want to see what kinds of applicants they get before they talk about how our roles will change. I think we are waiting for a person to come in and make decisions. It’s entirely possible they don’t know what will happen. I don’t know who else I could ask. It’s for a totally new position and department here, so everything is rather vague.

            I’m realizing it would be helpful to look at our peer corporations and see what positions they have like this that would fit me: are they at that level, or is there something in between that would fit better?

        2. BRR

          If you don’t want it because of what the job entails I wouldn’t apply, it’s awkward to turn down an internal promotion you applied for. What you’ll need to figure out is if you don’t want it because you wouldn’t like it or you’re worried about being turned down.

          I also want to add that this isn’t it. It can be dangerous to jump the gun trying to get to bigger and better things.

          1. Vanishing Girl

            Thanks! It helps to talk it through here and get some feedback from y’all. I need to write on a post-it: don’t jump the gun! I think my mind runs like this when I’m bored with my job, and that’s definitely true right now.

            Through answering the questions here, I think I may just not want it as I don’t want to jump into management here right away. I am also definitely scared of being turned down, but maybe even more scared of getting an interview. That’s a pretty good clue.

            1. BRR

              Talking it through usually is a huge help for me. I have a lot of similar thoughts as you do, I can be bored and think about the future. I’ve realized though that I really need to focus on rocking my current position and duties even if I’m bored.

              What I think is if you’re interested (and would accept the position) and have been receiving a lot of praise from higher ups (due to the shortish amount of time you’ve been there) you should apply. But this isn’t your one chance and definitely don’t be scared of getting an interview or being turned down. Not getting a job isn’t personal. Hiring somebody is just looking for a specific set of skills to fill a position and not everybody has what an employer is looking for.

              1. Vanishing Girl

                Thanks! I am trying to rock in my current position, but am not really sure how to show that in my current position. Our systems and processes are pretty well organized and that’s generally where my mind goes when I try to improve things. I also have a lot of down time at work right now, which doesn’t work for my active imagination. But I am going to try and rethink what I could do to really be a superstar in this role.

                We are a low-feedback kind of place. My supervisor and their boss have told me overall I am doing well, but I don’t get regular praise for specific things. My current work is rather subjective, so I don’t even know what praise I’d expect from them. My previous places of employment included more praise and had more tangible projects.

                I’ve got a lot of things to consider this weekend. I am glad I asked this question here.

    3. OOF

      This very much depends on your management’s perspective on these things. In our shop,if someone who was hired 7-8 months ago thought they were ready for a promotion, that would be frowned upon. Can you talk to your manager and share that you saw the post, find it interesting, but also understand that you are still learning and want to be respectful of expectations about amount of time in your current position?

      1. Vanishing Girl

        That is a great way to phrase it. I spoke with the hiring manager (2 levels up from me), and they were reticent to talk about how our roles will evolve, but I expressed my interest to try new things and use the skills I have that aren’t in use in my current role. It seems like they are waiting to see what the new person does before talking about our positions.

        I don’t want to alienate anyone and give the impression I’m one of the people who thinks they’re overqualified. I just have different skills that I know can be of use in the upcoming changes that I’m not using right now. I’m afraid that I won’t be able to use them, and that’s frightening. Maybe I can talk to my manager: they have lots of experience in this industry and may have some insight into what they’re expecting.

  28. Interflips

    I just wanted to say I couldn’t agree more with Allison’s post on behaviors at work. I work for a pretty relaxed company where the standard dress attire is basically jeans and a t-shirt. However, I would expect anyone coming in from an interview to look a bit more polished. Well yesterday, I actually saw someone come in leggings and flip flops looking like they just got out of bed for an interview! Needless to say, the interview lasted less than 20 minutes.
    But I’m just baffled as to what they were thinking, particularly as their position is of a more serious nature and requiring a lot of client interaction.

    1. Vanishing Girl

      Oh my word! That’s hideous. I don’t know how anyone thinks that is ok.

      Were their toenails painted? ;)

  29. Retail Lifer

    I’m getting the same feedback on my resume again and again but I don’t know how to fix it and still be honest. I’m always hearing that my resume is task-focused and not accomplishment-focused. However, aside from meeting all kinds of sales goals in my current job and being on a list of top performers a couple of jobs ago, I honestly haven’t accomplished anything meaningful at any of my jobs. As my name suggests, I’m a retail manager. Retail in general hasn’t been doing well for years, so I can’t claim I’ve hit many sales numbers, I’m as high up as I want to go so I have no promotions to list, and I tend to take jobs at chain stores where your role, responsibilities and tasks are well-defined and there just aren’t many opportunities to do anything else. And given the fact that raises are few and far between (and I’m completely sick of this industry and have wanted to get out for years haven’t been able to), I’m not super eager to take on anything else that might look good on paper but will ultimately probably be a waste of my time. I’m really trying to escape from the retail death trap, and the feedback I’m getting has been loud, clear, and consistent that I need to include more accomplishments on my resume. Any ideas as to how to spin this?

    1. CrazyCatLady

      In the past, AAM has suggested that you ask yourself what someone who was a mediocre performer (not awful enough to get fired, but not great) would look like and then ask yourself what you do differently from them?

      1. Retail Lifer

        Off the top of my head I can only think of showing up on time. LOL. But I will give this some thought. Thank you!

        1. fposte

          What is it that you do to meet those sales goals? Do you know how many people don’t meet their goals?

          1. Retail Lifer

            I do! I’m the only person who hasn’t been fired or forced out of this position in years! (Which is what makes it such a horrible environment to work in and why I want to get out!)

            1. fposte

              Okay, then frame your success! “Increased sales to meet goals for the first time in xx years.” And then use the “whys” as achievement statements.

    2. Not Today Satan

      I don’t have resume advice, but my friend was a retail manager for years. She made the switch by getting a recruiting job at a recruiting firm. She didn’t like it but she was a good employee, and after a year she was able to transfer to the HR department.

      1. Mz. Puppie

        Cosign. Recruiting firms are very interested in people with sales experience, if you think that is a direction you might want to go.

    3. Kimberlee, Esq.

      Do the people you manage like you? Can you talk about how you make your stores better via getting better work out of your team, or being the manager that resolves issues to employee’s satisfaction? Do you pinch-hit for your staff when things get busy? (I’m thinking of things that I really valued in my managers when I was working in service.)

      1. Retail Lifer

        My employees like me or tolerate me, which has helped keep turnover low (a miracle in this industry). I have a really small staff but we had zero turnover last year. I can put that on a resume!

    4. puddin

      Accomplishments can be coaching employees to improve their performance (Which you have told AAM about). Also, what have you done that leveraged or implemented a corp mandate. So when corp has you do something like a new time tracking system, a huge re-merch, facility improvements…those all count as accomplishments. For example: Implemented and trained staff of 14 on new [Name of system] time tracking system. As a result we saw improved compliance and less tracking errors from staff. Planned and executed store re-merchandising and new fixture delivery to meet new corporate brand standards in 14 days resulting in an increase in foot traffic of 23% (use store traffic numbers if you have them, but chain-wide numbers are good too). Oversaw installation of improved store signage and flooring, coming in 12% under allotted budget for the project.

      I don’t know if any of this applies, you say that you have a lot of the ‘same ole same ole’ in your roles. But thought I would shoot this out there in case it jogged some things loose for ya.

      1. Retail Lifer

        There are constant policy changes and computer system changes that I have to train everyone on. And then re-train in a minute when it changes again. I hadn’t even thought about adding that. I’ll have to figure out how to frame it, but that’s a huge help!

        The other stuff would be a stretch at this job but I could probably use something similar for previous jobs. Thank you!

    5. JMegan

      I have no advice, just tagging in so I can follow the thread. Good luck in getting your resume in order, and hopefully in getting yourself a new job!

  30. Soon to Be

    I’ve been looking forward to getting people’s thoughts on this all week!

    So within the next few months I’m going to be changing my legal name, including my last name, as part of an adult adoption process — basically, I’m being adopted by my long-time stepdad, because I’m finally an adult and my asshat of a birth father doesn’t get to say no anymore. This is exciting and happy!! But I’m wondering how much is appropriate to share around the office. My TMI calibration is a bit wonky; I tend to draw “personal info” and “appropriate to share” info a bit different than most people around me do.

    So, I’m anticipating questions arising when I change my surname — oh, are you getting married? Divorced? Which of course I’m not. But since adult adoption isn’t quite as widely known as child adoption, is it likely to come off as oversharing if I do say that my stepfather is adopting me and therefore I’m now going to be known by his last name?

    1. Soon to Be

      To clarify, I’m specifically anticipating questions at work, since I’ll have to update my work email and my info with HR and so on and so forth. Outside of work, the people I’ll be telling mostly already know the situation.

      1. Lionness

        I don’t think you need to give details. When your co-workers ask if you got married (or divorced) you can just say no, and that you decided to change your name. If they inquire further (some will, as this isn’t a common occurrence outside of marriage/divorce for adults) you can just say it is something you’ve wanted to do for some time. If you want to tell them you are taking your step father’s last name, you can. If you want to get into details, you can. But you are not obligated to do so and reall – it is no one’s business.

      2. cuppa

        I don’t think you need to give out too many details. I know someone at work that just sent out an announcement that said, “My last name is no longer Beauchamp; it is now Fraser. My new work e-mail will be cfraser@organization.com effective May 1.”
        Sure people looked at it, and maybe thought about it, but I don’t think many people asked her about it. On the other hand, one girl got married and just showed up in everyone’s mailbox with a different e-mail. EVERYONE asked about that. I will say that I work in a place where you definitely get announcements about marriages, so it was evident from the first person’s email that she didn’t want to announce the reasons why her name was changing.
        And congratulations!

      3. LillianMcGee

        Congrats! I agree with Lionness, share as much as you are comfortable. I don’t think it would be TMI to mention that it’s an adult adoption or talk about why it’s important to you. Your name is the most public part of you, so if you want to share why it is what it is then go ahead!

      4. puddin

        “I have always wanted to share my step-father’s name since he is the one who raised me.” ??

        1. Artemesia

          I would do this. It is odd for an adult to just change their name for no reason and evokes curiosity. People will assume divorce or marriage if it is a woman and that leads to more TMI discussion than you want. But this statement is clear and graceful and not weird.

        2. Not So NewReader

          If I worked with you, I would love hearing this. It’s good news. And it’s nice to see people happy about stuff.

    2. Sunflower

      I think it’s fine to just say ‘I’m changing my name- I’ve been meaning to do it for a while but I’ve just finally gotten around to it’. Usually that stops the questions.

      1. Persephone Mulberry

        I think if you bring up the adoption, people are mostly going to ask why you went that route rather than JUST changing your name – so if you’re up for explaining it, go for it. Otherwise you could just frame it that you’ve decided to legally take your stepdad’s name (and leave out the adult adoption part).

      2. Jamie

        I think it’s fine to just say ‘I’m changing my name- I’ve been meaning to do it for a while but I’ve just finally gotten around to it’. Usually that stops the questions.

        This. One of my son’s did it when he turned 18. No acrimony, he just didn’t see he should go through life with his dad’s name when he liked my maiden name better…he’s not a slave to tradition. :) Besides the running around to the bank and the DMV it was no big deal anywhere. He just bluntly tells people he likes it better so he did it because he could.

    3. Kelly White

      When my husband and his ex wife divorced, she changed both her first and last names.

      A global email was sent out that basically said, as of this date Firstname Lastname will be changing her name to NewFirst NewLast.

      Very simple. No explanation needed.

      1. RiffRaff

        I’ve never heard of someone changing their first name as well as last in that situation. Not judging, just intrigued.

    4. Shortie

      Soon to Be, if I were in your specific situation, I think I would say something like “My name has changed from X to Y. My stepfather raised me, and I am finally taking his last name.” This sort of strikes the balance between TMI (which would be the whole adoption story) and unnecessary withholding of info.

      Of course, it is anyone’s right to withhold details and simply say their name has changed–and this would be preferable in certain situations–but in this particular situation, you don’t mind people knowing why, and striking the balance will head off questions.

      1. Shortie

        (The following does not apply to SoonToBe’s situation; I’m simply fascinated by the topic of openness versus privacy at work.)

        I am a huge advocate of a little more openness at work. It is always people’s right to be private–and should remain so–but I’ve occasionally seen people cling to privacy in ways that really ended up hurting them, usually in regard to health or family issues. It may not be fair, but many colleagues assume performance problems or laziness if someone is missing work a lot or coming to work distracted (for example). Depending on the environment, being a little more open can go a long way toward keeping work relationships good. Not necessary to share all the details, but sharing enough so that people understand the new behavior they are seeing can be helpful and reduce stress for the individual who is already going through something difficult.

        1. Clever Name

          Yeah, I’m pretty much an open book at work. The people I talk to most at work generally know the broad outlines of how things are going with my life outside of work. I don’t broadcast personal details, but if it makes sense to mention something, I do.

    5. The IT Manager

      A slightly more informative non-answer is to be vague about adult adoption, but mention it’s a family name.

      “No. (not divorced or married) I’m changing it to honor a family member.”

  31. Chelsea B.

    Hey everyone – I got a new job! I’m super excited, gave my notice a week ago, and starting soon. I’m feeling a bit nervous though, as I have worked at OldJob for 4 years, and haven’t worked at any other corporate environment. Do you have any tips on how to make myself more comfortable, and tips on things to avoid in my first week? It is a major bump in pay, and focusing on the technology side of the job which I am super interested in. Thanks!

    1. Dawn

      First day- bring your lunch and any snacks, because you don’t know if you’ll get taken out for lunch or if the whole day will be orientation meetings or what. Be prepared, don’t be hungry! Also try and scope out where the bathrooms are, office supplies, breakrooms, snack machines, etc etc if they’re not immediately obvious. Oh and bring a pen and a notebook so you’re ready to take notes from the get-go and don’t have to wait for anyone to bring you/show you where the office supplies are.

      First week- smile and say hello to every single person that you can reasonably say hello to. Be friendly, make stupid small talk with people in the break room, compliment someone’s scarf or whatever, basically be the super amazingly awesomely nice and outgoing cruise ship director version of yourself. It’ll feel really weird but it’s not forever, it’s just until you get to know everyone. WRITE DOWN THE NAMES AND IDENTIFYING DETAILS of everyone you meet right after you meet them. You will probably be meeting a TON of people and will forget names if you don’t do this.

      First month- at the end of 3 weeks or so I’d say it’s fine to bring in a few personalized items for your desk, like a plant or a picture or whatever. Make it seem a little more homey, and a little more “yours”- I think this has a bigger effect on other people than we realize, because it makes your space seem much more personal and it makes it seem like you’re happily settling in.

      1. Chelsea B.

        Thank you! These are some really great suggestions. I’ll definitely do these! Bringing my own snacks is big, and not something I necessarily would have thought of, and the same with a notebook for the first day.

        1. Dawn

          Another thought I had- definitely soak up how people dress in the first week or so and then dress to match that. So if you see women wearing suitjackets and low-key jewelry, match that; or if everyone seems really laid back in how they dress, go for laid back but in a snappy fashion. Matching the “tone” of a new office is important so you don’t seem out of sync with everyone else!

          1. Curious Em

            To Dawn and everyone else who replied on this topic, I want to express my thanks too for sharing your advice. Since your comments on Friday, I was offered and accepted a job that will be starting soon. As I prepare for my first day, I’m really glad to have these tips in mind.

    2. RidingNerdy

      My first week, people seemed to want to confess to my new employer’s rough spots. Listen, smile and nod, but take it with a grain of salt. Be objective, give people a fair chance and don’t let others’ thoughts cloud your perception.

      I always like to start my first week by getting in good habits – sort your email into appropriate categories at the end of the day, make a running to-do list from day one, etc. Begin as you mean to go on.

      1. Helen of What

        Oh, yes. I’m all about setting up my email the way I like it, with labels and folders. My boyfriend’s inbox makes me sad, and makes it hard to believe he notices anything I send him.

        If you’re not familiar with the neighborhood, I’d also take a chance to walk around during lunch or after work sometime in the first week. Always good to know what’s nearby!

    3. LQ

      I’m personally a very introverted, not…enthusiastic, not friendly person, YMMV on this…

      But my first week I work really hard to be as friendly, personable, outgoing, and polite as possible. It solidifies this image of me into their brains and then as I slowly ease back into the actual version of me they don’t think wow she’s unfriendly, brusque, abrasive, etc. It creates good relationships and makes my job so much easier. Even if it means for the first week or so I’m so exhausted when I get home I have to go directly to bed.

    4. Artemesia

      I’ve said this before here but I think it is important to be strategic about the image you want to have in the new environment. How would you like to be described in 6 months? What characteristics make you look like a winner in the new environment.

      If it is ‘hard working’ than what are some things you can do the first two weeks that send that message. That might mean staying late now and then or demonstrating quick turn around on something difficult. Maybe it is to excel at a particular function. e.g. I was hired to deal partly with difficult clients no one else wanted to deal with much; I scheduled open door meetings with such clients during my first two weeks so that everyone saw me doing this and it firmly reinforced the image that I was ‘good at this job.’

      If being a team player and ‘friendly’ is important (and it so often is) then paying attention to being pleasant and friendly even if you are an introvert is important.

      Be mindful that what you are doing sets a tone just as what you are wearing does.

    5. Not So NewReader

      This is going to sound silly- but I have found it helpful. Each night, after you get home, review some of the basics you learned during the day. Your first day that review might be envisioning where the bathroom is in relationship to your work area. Your third day might be remembering the name of your boss’ boss. Try to picture his face, so you will recognize him the next time. Your twentieth day might entail picturing where you found some obscure manual to look something up.
      It is amazing how much these reviews help. Don’t knock yourself out- just take 15 minutes or so each night, this really helps to keep things fresh in your head. I find that I go home exhausted when I start a new job and that is because of getting oriented to so. many. new. things and people.

      1. Snoskred

        Not So New Reader makes a great point and I just want to add this – re going home exhausted.

        Do not make any set in stone plans after work for the first week. Maybe the first two weeks.

        Allow yourself the evenings on those days to rest and indulge yourself in “me” time. Even if that me time means going to the gym or a walk around the block or taking yourself to the local heated pool and swimming some laps. I do recommend putting some exercise on your to do list if your job is mostly sitting but make sure it is exercise you enjoy and want to do. If swimming is something you enjoy but rarely do, try to fit that in VS a form of exercise you are not a huge fan of.

        Also, if you can, plan your evening meals for that week, and if you have time the weekend before, make a couple of meals you can keep in the fridge and reheat. Plus organise snacks and lunch for those 5 days ahead over the weekend, have them all packed and ready to go, and try to make sure they are snacks and lunch which you can put in your own insulated cooler bag with a frozen bottle of water or block of ice.

        Hope it goes well! ;)

  32. Gene

    A friend has asked me to review her resume. She worked in the environmental field I’m in for 20 years, then moved to health care (long story, she should have just bought a convertible) and now is going to be looking in the field again.

    We’re both wondering about how to show the recent non-related schooling and work. Should the resume just talk about her related environmental work with the health care stuff in the cover letter, or have it all in the resume? Between the training and jobs, she’s been away from environmental work for almost 5 years.

    Environmental job 1 – blah blah blah

    Environmental job 2 – blah blah blah

    OR

    Health care job one – blah blah blah

    Health care job 2 – blah blah blah

    Environmental job 1 – blah blah blah

    Environmental job 2 – blah blah blah

    1. Lionness

      I think she needs to go with option 2 otherwise they are going to wonder what she has been doing the past 5 years. Some hiring manager scan resumes before cover letters and seeing a five year gap may get them to never review the cover letter.

    2. CheeryO

      She could do a “Relevant Experience” header for the environmental stuff, with “Other Experience” below it for the more recent jobs.

      1. GigglyPuff

        Exactly what I was going to recommend, beat me to it! (stupid Flash player plug-in kept crashing). Definitely do the what you’re applying for experience versus other experience when you need to show actual history, and keep it separate. People do it all the time, when I first started applying for professional jobs, I did that with the part-time job I had all through-out college to show I had some kind of job history.

        1. Shortie

          I’m having that problem with Flash player on this page as well. Haven’t taken the time to try to troubleshoot it or search to see if others have already figured it out, but I need to soon as it’s doing it multiple times per day. I suppose I could have started on it in the time I took to reply here! :-)

          1. GigglyPuff

            Lol, I just disabled the one Chrome has, and so far hasn’t done it again. Type about:plugins in search bar, “Details” in the top right corner, then scroll down to Adobe Flash and click “disable”

            if you are actually using Chrome :)

  33. Lionness

    Here at Teapot Equipment we have three customer service teams. Each year, we hold team building days in which each team takes a portion of the day away from work and focuses instead on how to improve their function as a team, and think up ways to improve the way we work. This year, Team A (the early team) wants to spend the entire day doing this. Because of the coverage needed to maintain our operations, this is not an option available to Team C (although Team B could do what Team A is doing – and plans to do so). This would leave the entire department’s workload on Team C for all but 1 hour of their shift. We are very busy when everyone is working, and this amount of work for nearly an entire day would be incredibly difficult.

    When I pointed this out, it was just shrugged off by the supervisor of Team A and Team B and chocked up to being nothing more than a schedule difference and that Teams A and B shouldn’t have to give up their “free time” to have team building events so we should just accept it. But no one is suggesting they give up their free time, only that they choose a shorter event .

    I hate to use this word when discussing work issues, but it feels unjust. The entire workload of a department would be being put onto 1/3 of the regular department and because of scheduling they would never have the opportunity to spend so much time on something that is so highly valued within our company.

    I feel like the approach should be one of equal time. Team A spends X number of hours working and Y number of hours on team building. Team B and Team C do the same. But I’m hoping to get some neutral input because this issue has me pretty hot right now. Especially since the event is in two weeks so I’ve been a bit blindsided.

    1. Judy

      Does it all have to be the same exact day? Why couldn’t Team A do their event on Monday, and Team B on Tuesday and Team C on Wednesday? That way 2/3 of the staff would be handling the day? Or on Wednesday for 3 weeks?

      1. Lionness

        They are all on different days but Team A and Team B are joining together to have their “team building” activities together because they work the same shift.

          1. Lionness

            I think what adds to the issue is that we are the “new” team and they have always done it this way in the past and just let the work not get done but now that there is a team that can do it, the logic is that Team C will do it.

            Beyond the issue of leaving all the work to Team C, it feels rather unjust that Teams A and B get 8 hours of team building and Team C gets, at most 3 hours because the remaining hours must be worked and are outside of the shifts of Team A and Team B.

            1. Dawn

              Could you frame it less as “unjust” and more as “We want to ensure that everyone gets equal time for team building. Right now Teams A and B have put in for 8 hours of team building. Due to scheduling, Team C can only take 3 hours of team building. So we need to come up with a solution that means everyone gets the same amount of team building time.” This way it’s not being framed as a “Team A+B vs Team C” thing, but as a “hey y’all, everyone needs to have the same amount of team building time, how can we make this happen?”

              1. Lionness

                That is how I’ve framed it for the work crown. The “unjust” is more my internal mindset on it.

    2. ThursdaysGeek

      I always think team-building should include building rapport across teams to the benefit of the entire company. This appears to be more of Team A+B against Team C, to the detriment of the overall company. And it sounds like Teams A and B don’t care. It would be nice if there is a way to make Teams A and B realize they are working for the company and with everyone in it, instead of just themselves.

      1. Not So NewReader

        I was just thinking along these lines. Team A and B are not learning how to be part of a larger team because they are failing to incorporate Team C’s needs into their plans.
        The team building exercise has failed and the company has not even had the event yet.
        It’s not team building if everyone is not included. It is a recipe for disaster as Team C is bound to have issues with this.

        I don’t know…. I have had bosses that would say “How come A is clinging to B so much, can’t each team go on their own? Do they really have to hold each other’s hands?”
        And I am curious, Team C work at night? Night shift is famous for getting the short end of the deal. And it fosters resentment that is incredible.

        Ironically, if you do have two separate shifts, the real building that needs to take place is between day shift and night shift. That is usually where the worst problems are.

  34. Into the valley of steel

    So I’m a manager! After 30 years, I’m going to give it a try. I’m at the point where the corporate directory says I’m a manager, but I don’t have a department name, number, or any employees. I’m told these matters are being worked on, although it is coming slowly. FYI: I work for a very old, very large IT firm.

    Any advice for me as a “first-timer”?

    What should I cover in my first serious sit-down meeting with my new boss?

    What should I cover in my first serious sit-down meeting with each new employee? (I have to hire 6 people).

    Any stories I can learn from, or use to take heart if things seem dark, or “gotcha’s” I should watch out for?

    1. Labyrinthine

      I just did this same thing 8 months ago. I was hired for my first management job. First task? Hire a team.

      My advice? Get a firm grasp on what makes a high performing team in your company, in your department. Talk this over with your manager. What your manager expects of you, etc. With your first meeting with your employees, talk to them about expectations (yours and theirs) preferred communication methods.

      Be open to learning and adapting your style as you go. Do not rush into hiring – take your time and get the team right. It is worth waiting to make sure you don’t have to replace people a few months in.

    2. BRR

      Alison has a book. I haven’t gotten it because I’m not a manager but that would be my first stop.

    3. RidingNerdy

      After you’ve got your team hired, schedule your weekly one-on-one and stick to that plan. It’s easy to kick that can down the road and say you’ll start doing them “one day.”

      In addition to this site, I’ve had good luck with the content produced over on https://www.manager-tools.com/

    4. Not So NewReader

      Know where your limits of authority are.

      Teach your people what they can go ahead and do on their own vs what they need to check with you on before proceeding.

      Keep a resource list- write down where you go to find the answer to what types of questions. Your people aren’t going to care if you don’t know off the top of your head, but if you can’t find an answer that becomes concerning.

    5. DaBlonde

      Look at all of the varied jobs for your departments and hire people with different strengths to fit those jobs.
      One of the best departments I worked with taught parenting/father involvement classes, but the manager didn’t hire only social workers and teachers. He made sure that he also had a database person, a numbers/budget person and a graphic design person.
      Check out the short book, “You Can’t Send a Duck to Eagle School” for more about this idea.

  35. Lanya

    Hi all, I could use some advice from my fellow readers about panic attacks that I’ve been having during meetings at work.

    A few months ago, I was in my one-on-one with my supervisor and suddenly felt faint and nauseous. We had to stop our meeting, and I went home for the day. It turned out to be a 24-hour stomach bug, and I was fine…but ever since then, being in meetings has become a “trigger” of sorts for what I believe are probably panic attacks. I will be meeting with people, doesn’t matter who or where, and all of a sudden I will feel faint, nauseous, short of breath, and sweaty. I have to mentally try to talk myself down from feeling like I am going to pass out. It’s very distracting, especially when I am leading a meeting or if it’s a one-on-one. I think I’m subconsciously afraid of that original embarrassing moment happening again during a meeting, and now that I’m beginning to understand what is a trigger for me, I am starting to become nervous before any meeting begins.

    I’ve decided to see a psychologist about this, and I have an appointment for next week, but in the meantime, I wanted to ask for advice about what to do and the most professional way to handle myself in this kind of situation. Also, should I tell my coworkers what’s going on? Thanks for any advice you can offer.

    1. cuppa

      For me, focusing on what’s happening and my anxiety about fainting and trying not to faint actually makes it worse… you have to get out of the thought cycle. I find that breathing and working to focus on something else helps immensely. Good luck — it’s more common than you think.

      1. Jillociraptor

        Counting really works well for me for this. The more anxious I am, the more complicated I try to make the counting (counting up by ones for basic everyday anxiety, Fibonacci sequence for more serious stuff, etc.).

    2. Dr. Johnny Fever

      First-hand experience:
      – Ask for biofeedback training. It’s a form of breathing at a specific pace to override the biological system that creates the anxiety and panic. Practice this for a few minutes as needed – there are phone apps that provide pacing cues and soft music.
      – Don’t be afraid of pharmaceuticals to treat the issue. There are long-term and short-term solutions that you can use. I have both.
      – Pursue talk therapy to uncover root cause. There are many types you can try. Don’t be afraid to leave a therapy or therapist who isn’t working with you.
      – Find a relaxing hobby or other self-care.
      – Look into meditation – try Ram Dass, The Journey of Awakening, where he describes several styles of meditation.

      Good luck!

      1. nona

        Seconding all of this. Biofeedback is less well-known than other types of therapy but it was incredibly helpful for me. No more panic attacks!

    3. blackcat

      I’d also check in with your regular doctor. I had a similar problem once that I thought was in my head… I was mostly right–it was in my inner ear! I visited a therapist first, who told me to take myself to an MD… who told me to take myself to an ear, nose and throat specialist. Problem has since been resolved.

      I’d suggest excusing yourself momentarily for a meeting to compose yourself (if you feel able to walk). You can advice coworkers that you’ve been having dizzy spells and that you’re waiting on some appointments to get it sorted out.

      1. Lanya

        I’ll have to try sipping water. I found an app as recommended above by Dr. Fever, and it has some breathing exercises that seem like they might also help.

        I tried taking notes to distract myself the last time it happened, and it didn’t work very well. But that day I was having a really big one where I felt like I was hyperventilating and had to get up and excuse myself from the meeting for a minute.

    4. april ludgate

      I have a very similar problem in meetings and I’ve found a few coping mechanisms that work for me. If I can, I bring water with me because, for whatever reason, sipping water helps me calm down and refocus. If I can’t bring water, or if it’s a longer meeting and I don’t want to risk having to use the bathroom, I chew gum (quietly, really I don’t even chew it consistently, I just keep it in my mouth in case I start feeling panicky). Those two big ones, but lately I’ve been asking myself what’s the worst thing that could happen, trying to pinpoint why I feel panicked. If I pass out or throw up what would really happen? Yes, it would be embarrassing, but being humiliated would really be the only consequence. My mind-voice is kind of harsh when it says that, but it helps.

      Just last week I was in a large meeting and I started feeling lightheaded and panicky and I stopped and thought to myself, “So what? If you pass out, at least you’re in a room full of people, some of whom have first aid training.” Thinking about it that way helped. Especially since it’s such a recurring feeling for me it’s sort of like, well I haven’t passed out/puked in a meeting yet, chances are my body’s not going to go through with it today either. The voice inside my head is very snarky, but I always take a moment after words to say to myself, “See? You made it. That wasn’t so bad. You’ll do even better at next month’s meeting.”

      1. Maiasaura

        I once spent a summer doing research in a rural area of a developing country. My research partner was a former Peace Corps member. We were in a place that is notorious for intestinal ailments, and I was terrified of getting food poisoning. When I told my partner how worried I was, she shrugged and said “Pooping your pants is never actually as bad as you think it’s going to be.” Hah! Fortunately I never had to find out, but I think she was onto something about anticipation being worse than the actual bad thing sometimes.

    5. Lanya

      Thank you all for your input. This is very helpful, and it’s nice to know I ‘m not the only one!

      Have any of you told your coworkers what is going on and if so, did it help or make the situation worse? I think I would like to tell my supervisor about it, but I don’t want it to become a “thing”. You know what I mean?

      1. Cath in Canada

        I’ve been there!

        After I was diagnosed (which happened after my first panic attack hit me during a work meeting), I (rather sheepishly) told my immediate boss and a few co-workers what was going on, and that I was working to get it under control. A couple of them immediately shared that they had experienced the same thing. It’s a lot more common than you’d think (especially in that office – a few of us had our first ever panic attacks while working there, and mine all but went away within a year of leaving the job).

        What worked for me was reading a couple of books about what causes panic attacks, what’s going on biologically, and what you can do to help control the symptoms. For example: if you feel like you’re going to faint, remind yourself that people faint when they have low blood pressure, and that panic attacks actually increase your blood pressure. It might feel similar, but you are NOT going to faint. Also, some of the symptoms are due to not enough CO2 in the bloodstream, e.g. if you’re hyperventilating; you can counteract this by holding your breath for a few seconds after inhaling. This allows more CO2 to accumulate in your lungs and get into your bloodstream. Once you start to recognise the very earliest symptoms of a panic attack, you can start doing this breathing pattern and it will help. (There’s a chance that this is psychosomatic rather than an actual physiological response, but hey, whatever works!)

        Good luck!

      2. shirley cakes

        I have panic/anxiety issues that are directly related to driving a car. I do not have a drivers license because of this. It is very rare that I have to travel or be asked to drive somewhere for work but the request has come up on occasion.

        I’ve had both positive and negative experiences by letting people know at work. Be aware that once you tell your supervisor, whether you want them to or not there is a likelihood that others, especially higher level management, will be told.

        Most people are supportive when I tell them and more often then not are just curious and want to help and understand. There will be those that will judge you and will make a “thing” out of it. I have found that it’s easier in the long run if I am the one to define it by calling it a panic disorder or anxiety disorder. People are more likely to continue to use my terms if I say them – rather than them whispering that I’m “scared” or using other terms I don’t particularly appreciate.

      3. april ludgate

        I found out one of my coworkers also has meeting anxiety, so talking with her about it really helped. Just sitting there knowing that I wasn’t the only one feeling anxious was reassuring. If your supervisor seems like the type of person who would be understanding, you could casually mention it. It might be more important to mention it if you think other people are noticing the change in your behavior during meetings, just to give your supervisor a head’s up so they know that it’s something you’re acknowledging and working on. You could even lay out how you want it addressed (or if you want it ignored). For me, it helps me relax when other people know that I’m not fidgeting out of boredom or disinterest, but at the same time if anyone asked if I was okay I would be really embarrassed. Figure out how you want to handle it, it’s definitely a YMMV thing.

    6. Not So NewReader

      If you are using fake sugar at all- stop. These synthetic sweeteners can really cause problems for some people.
      I would also recommend seeing a good chiropractor, if it is an ear problem you might get relief from an adjustment. No, it won’t hurt. The adjustment could be done on a 6 month old baby and the kid would be okay with it.
      Do your breathing exercises in calm moments. It makes them easier to do if you have a panic attack. And I think it helps a tiny bit to prevent panic attacks, but that is just me.

  36. Meg Murry

    Hope this counts as work related since it relates to how someone comes off as professional (or unprofessional, in this case).

    Is there a polite way to tell a younger woman who you don’t have much of a relationship with that she has a habit of slightly uptalking and would seem much more (IMO) professional if she learned to adjust her speech patterns and sounded less young? This young woman has a position in a non-profit in our community where she is supposed to talk to business leaders and small business owners and lead or facilitate the conversation. She has an impressive title and resume, but the fact that she is (and looks) young doesn’t give her much gravitas, and the speech patterns really don’t help. Its only slightly uptalking (a rising inflection in the sentence, but not all the way to “was that a statement or a question”) but it also sounds a little “valley girl” with the “likes” deleted – as in, it sounds to me as if she once had a problem with superfluous “likes” and managed to cut that out, but the rest of the sentence pattern is still in that format.

    I don’t know this woman well at all – she is more of a friend of a friend that I’ve interacted with a few times, and she has a business relationship with my husband so I have been at dinners she has facilitated. She is super enthusiastic and has big goals and big plans, but I think this could hold her back a little, as it makes her sound more like a college student than business professional.

    FWIW, I’ve heard her speak at a couple of events now, and also on a radio show, and I noticed this speech pattern several times – although it also gets worse when she’s had a few drinks. On one hand, it’s the kind of thing I hope someone close to me would point out to me if they had a concrete resource I could use to stop the speech pattern – but on the other hand, I don’t know how I would take that feedback from an acquaintance, so I’m leaning toward saying nothing and hoping she notices it if she listens to the podcast/radio show she was on.

    1. Spiky Plant

      Yeah, I’m with Not Today Satan. If she’s got an impressive title and is getting on radio shows and podcasts and whatnot, I think she’s probably doing fine for herself, and this particular bit of advice sounds 1) like something she probably already knows about, and 2) something that verges enough on being a sexist idea that you risk it being taken very differently than you intended. Like, not that you’d mean it as sexist, but there’s definitely a possibility that, since “neutral” in business is cis white male, that that’s why you hear her voice as unprofessional; because it deviates from the norm in a feminine direction.

      Which, like, obviously isn’t your fault (any more than society is the fault of any one person), but I think it’s worth considering as a possibility not only in your own assumptions, but also as something that she quite possibly knows about and has made a conscious decision about.

      1. Kelly L.

        And I don’t think the science is even definite on this. I remember there was one study that showed that women with vocal fry–which is a different affectation, but of a similar nature–actually were respected more. It’s just one study, but it does make one wonder. My theory is that it sounds “wealthy” to people, but who knows.

        And if she decides she doesn’t like it, she’ll gradually tweak it as she goes along. It’s recorded, so I think she probably has heard a bit of her own voice and knows what it sounds like.

        1. Helen of What

          I recently heard that the opposition to vocal fry is a generational one, just as opposition to “like” is generational. Younger folks aren’t bothered by vocal fry or “like” as much as older people. Slight upspeak is probably hardly noticed at all.

          People who do a lot of talking for work know what they sound like. She doesn’t need it pointed out to her.

    2. LillianMcGee

      I also would not say anything but I SO sympathize! Is the sexy-baby-voice something some women learn to do, or is it natural?? I found it most prevalent in college, leading me to believe that most women grow out of it, but I still hear it from time to time walking down the street and it is so grating!

      1. Spiky Plant

        I’m sure it’s both. There are definitely cultures that indoctrinate that kind of speech in women from birth (I’m given to understand that Japan in particular has a very strong social and cultural idea that this is how women should talk), and then there are some people that just have a young-sounding voice, which really shouldn’t be a problem. And then there are some people who really do super baby-talk stuff that makes everyone want to pull their hair out!

      2. JMegan

        Ugh, I’m working so hard on this with my daughter. She’s not quite seven, and I don’t know where she gets it, but she definitely uses a baby voice, particularly when she’s asking for things. She’s a bit young for me to tell her “people won’t respect you at work if you talk like that,” but I definitely interrupt and say “no baby talk, please use your big-girl voice” whenever I hear her doing it. Hopefully the message will sink in at some point, and not get lost in the void of parental nagging.

        1. Mallory Janis Ian

          I went through this with both my kids (one boy, one girl) when they were each about seven. Like you, I just kept repeating, “No baby talk; use your big girl/boy voice” until the habit went away.

    3. Pizza Lover

      The only thing I can suggest that is different from everyone else is that you could always tell someone you’re both pretty close with, and maybe they can be the one to mention it to her. But I agree that it’s not really your call.

    4. Meg Murry

      Thanks for all the advice and letting me vent – because really that’s all I can do. I agree its not my call, but it is frustrating to me because I believe in the mission of her non-profit and I think it is not helping her cause of getting taken seriously.

      One thing I meant to say that I left out was that she has an impressive sounding title, but it is for a tiny (4 people, only 2 full time) non-profit – and I suspect the other titles on her resume are similar – so she is trying to play the part of someone with a lot of experience and a high position, but in reality she doesn’t have the experience, and I don’t know that she’s ever had anyone to mentor her on this kind of thing.

      I hope if I ever lapse into these speech patterns someone tells me. Taking a speech class where I was videotaped definitely helped me with other vocal tics, as much as I hated watching myself.

    5. Cath in Canada

      I’ve said this to a grad student after her first group presentation. After saying that it was a great presentation overall (which it really was), I said something like “I’ve noticed that you do something that I used to do, too, and I’m going to pass on the advice that I was given, because it’s been really helpful”. I then gave her an example of the uptalk, compared to normal speech? And said that it’s something a lot of younger people, and women particularly, tend to do – it’s almost like checking for reassurance as you go along that you’re saying the right thing and that everyone agrees with you. I said it can make you seem less sure of yourself. She thanked me, and there was no uptalk in her next presentation.

      I think the key is to not make a big deal about it. I just said it casually (and with no-one else around) as we were walking back to the office from the presentation venue.

    6. super anon

      i recently listened to a very interesting this american life episode on vocal fry, and how it’s becoming the new thing to hate on young woman for including in their speech, taking the place of the ubiquitous “valley girl accent”. they had a linguist on that had done research on the subject after hearing a reporter on npr speaking with a lot of vocal fry, which she found very unprofessional, unauthoritative, and not at all how a npr host should speak. she did a preliminary study and found that those under 40 found nothing wrong with the way the host spoke, and in fact found the tone very authoritative. it was those over 40 who had a problem with the way the host spoke. the linguist went on to say that she had found the same thing before with like, and uptalk, and that her advice to everyone (including herself) was to just get over it.

      anyway i type all of this to say that’s it’s very likely that this woman’s peers don’t find a problem with her tone at all, and if that she’s making enough headway to get on podcasts and radio interviews herself, she’s doing well for herself regardless of how she speaks, and you should leave it alone.

      oh, and if anyone is interested in that particular TAL segement, it’s act 2 of episode 545. it’s up on the tal website to stream. :)

  37. esra

    Fellow Canadians:

    I’ve only been on EI once, and not for very long, so I’m not totally sure what to do about an upcoming job issue.

    I’m going to need to have surgery soon (consulting with the surgeon in coming weeks to find out details), and am currently covering a mat leave contract. I’m going to pitch work from home during my recovery, but if the company is not on board with that, how does that work? Are you fired for not doing your job? Is it technically considered quitting?

    Has anyone ever dealt with something like this before? I’ve been employed full-time for most of the past eight years, so I’ve been paying into EI, CPP all that.

    1. Beebs

      This would likely fall under short term disability. If you do not have access to those benefits, you could possibly take a leave and claim EI. You would not be fired/quit/etc. and you return to work when you are able to.

    2. Chriama

      Does your work have any short-term disability benefits? If so, at least part of your pay should be covered. If not, there are 2 issues:
      1) being paid for the time off
      2) having a job to come back tp
      If your company won’t let you work from home but is willing to give you the time off unpaid, you might be able to get EI or some other benefits.
      If your company isn’t willing to give you the time off at all, you’re definitely eligible for EI.

    3. fposte

      Not a Canadian, but an esra fan–good luck on the surgery and hope you get a speedy recovery and a great outcome.

      1. esra

        Aaw, thanks! I think the surgery will go well, but it definitely requires some work-from-sofa in the weeks following.

    4. KarenT

      My understanding is that yes you can use ei if you’re off for surgery as long as you’re not being paid. Phone Service Canada for details. They were very helpful in providing me info on my claim.

      Do you have healthcare benefits? If so you’re likely eligible for short term disability (company will continue to pay you but at a reduced rate).

      I’m not sure if they could fire you, but I suspect not. Either way any reasonable company wouldn’t, unless you knew you couldn’t complete the remainder of your contract.

      Are you in Ontario? If you do find yourself out of work (very unlikely bases on your original post :) ) and cannot afford any medications you need you may be eligible for the Trillium drug plan.

      Best wishes for a speedy recovery!

    5. jhhj

      Be careful about “pitching in from home” which might not be legal while you’re on EI (and money you get will be taken out of your EI benefits). But one of the options on the ROE is medical leave, and you can receive sickness leave until you go back to work.

      What province are you in? Provinces can have slightly different rules.

  38. Anony-moose

    I work in a department of three people. One director (my boss Circe) and two direct reports (Sansa) and myself. I started with this team in October. Both Sansa and I have the same title and very similar responsibilities.

    Sansa started grad school this year and was working 40 hours/4 days per week (10 hour days give or take). Just recently she went down to .8 FTE and only 3 days a week (so 10+ hours per day). I’m 40 hours per week, 5 days per week.

    The problem is Sansa isn’t actually working the full days she is supposed to, and while I could care less about hours worked and when she’s here, it’s really starting to affect my work. She is also rushing through projects so as not to have to put in extra time. There’s now a trend where I have to take significant initiative to start projects, and end up doing about 80 percent of the work. She is also producing work with mistakes and I have been put in difficult situations where our CEO wants to know why I screwed up say, budget numbers, when I had nothing to do with the final documents that were presented.

    Even though I’ve been here less than a year it’s clear Sansa is a high performer and gets shit done, so I’m not sure where all the mistakes, leaving work early, and being unwilling to collaborate is coming from. We also have a good working relationship and get along well so I don’t feel she’s trying to avoid working with me or has issue with me.

    So how do I go to our boss and share that Sansa’s work is really impacting my ability to do MY work without sounding whiny? I don’t want to say “Sansa is leaving work an hour early every day and I have to pick up her work for her” but that is how it feels.

    1. HeyNonnyNonny

      She is also producing work with mistakes and I have been put in difficult situations where our CEO wants to know why I screwed up say, budget numbers, when I had nothing to do with the final documents that were presented.

      Can you just tell your boss, “Sorry, that part of the project wasn’t on my plate. You’ll have to ask Sansa about those numbers”? Pointing out her responsibilities in the moment might help.

      1. Anony-moose

        You’re totally right about this and I have no issue doing it. It’s a bit of an odd cultural thing here, though – people point fingers and says “I didn’t do it! someone else made the mistake” and I want to try to figure out a way to say “hey team, this set up isn’t working for me” without it seeming like I’m just blaming Sansa.

        With this particular issue I was less upset about the mistake (we all make mistakes!) and more upset that she left early without double checking her work but told me it was complete. Does that make sense?

        1. E

          If you can manage a genuinely confused expression while stating that the mistake wasn’t in your part of the project, it won’t come across as pointing fingers, just that you are concerned about the project being correct as a whole.

    2. Persephone Mulberry

      It sounds like grad school and work responsibilities aren’t meshing. Rather than the two of you having similar/overlapping responsibilities, is there a different way do divide the work so that you’re not as dependent on her output?

      1. Anony-moose

        I think this needs to happen. I totally get the difficulties of balancing school/work/life and think overall she’s doing a stellar job. But I’ll be going to my boss in the next few weeks to share just how much of Sansa’s workload I’m having to pick up and I will recommend that we need to divide the work differently.

        The big problem it’s all the ‘other duties as assigned’. Since Sansa is only in the office 3 days a week (and leaves early) I’m the one that gets the ad hoc projects, the urgent emails, and the impromptu emails. It really means I only have two days a week to do my job!

        I am hoping we might be able to hire an associate and/or a grant writer. Even someone 10 hours a week could help me out, but again I’m just not sure how to make the case without sounding whiny. I think what I am running into is a confidence issue on my end!

        1. The IT Manager

          Not that this helps you per se, but it sounds like Sansa requested to go part-time for her own reasons and you company agreed to keep a higher performer on, but it really is a job that takes 40 hours a week.

          1. Anony-moose

            I think you’re right. She was totally up front about needing to cut back her hours and we were thrilled that she got approval for it, but it’s leaving us in a bit of a lurch. I’m also thinking about how to make the case for a part-time associate in our department to help alleviate the workload even if she WAS working 40 hours a week!

            1. The IT Manager

              I think that’s the way to go. There was no down-time before and the loss of that effort is having an impact on your departments ability to get everything done correctly.

        2. Meg Murry

          Have you talked to Sansa at all about this? Does she seem completely overwhelmed with both work and school, and maybe she actually needs to go down to .5 or .6 and you need to hire a half-time temp? Or is it the kind of position where you could get an intern for the summer (that would actually be of use to you, not just one more thing for you to handle).

          I do agree that having a clear division of Arya’s projects vs Sansa’s projects would help. Can your boss take on some of the impromptu emails or is she(he?) the one sending them?

          1. Anony-moose

            I haven’t talked to her explicitly to say “hey, you’re leaving me in a lurch here” but I have started dialogue about what I need help with, and how we can work around her schedule. The conversation is slowly beginning!

            The problem is that while we have different areas of focus, our skill-sets and day to day work is really the same. So my boss is for the most part the one just saying “Get it done” and, in absence of Sansa being here “Arya, I need you to do this!”

            I did bring up with her that a) I needed her to be aware of how much extra work I was picking up and that b) Sansa wasn’t really willing to take the initiative on any last-minute projects. She heard me and said she saw the same thing (and I started to see some changes) but that was before Sansa went down to part time.

            Last week she asked about a process that was supposed to be put in place. I told her “We had agreed Sansa would take that on,” and she responded “But she’s only 3 days a week now.” I said on the spot “I can’t take on any more projects like this one without impacting my ability to do my work so we’ll need to revisit this as a team. If you want me to take over this part of teapot productions I’ll have significantly less time to write and proof teapot manuals.”

            1. Meg Murry

              This sounds like a good time for the reverse of a to-do list – a “what I did today” list and a “what isn’t getting done that was one the to-do list”.

              I started this when I got overwhelmed with being the go-to point person for everything (and I wasn’t in a position where interruptions were supposed to be a major part of the job, but they were becoming the only thing I ever got done, and it really helped to show my boss how much extra I was winding up doing.

              Is Sansa taking classes this summer too, or is she nearing the end of the semester and will be back to 100% Or at least holding up her 80%?

              Last, I really don’t think >10 a day is actually sustainable or efficient – unless Sansa is putting in a lot of time at home, 32 hours a week smashed into 3 days is not nearly as effective as a person working 32 hours a week over 4 or 5 days.

              1. Anony-moose

                Love the to-do list idea. I am a neurotic list maker and use Trello so I can easily add a “didn’t get done today” list and track it. I’ve also been tracking how much time I spend on projects so I can say “hey, I’m only spending 20% per week writing and it should be 80%.

                I agree that 10 hours/day isn’t sustainable and I was pretty surprised it was approved. It also makes it hard having an integral member of our team gone 2 days a week.

    3. fposte

      “Can we meet to talk about scheduling and workflow now that Sansa’s working the grad school schedule? It’s caused some changes and I’d like some guidance/I’d like Sansa and I to have some guidance in dealing with them.”

      1. Anony-moose

        Thank you!

        The good thing is I have a great relationship with my boss (have worked for her now in 3 different positions at 2 companies) and our CEO likes me too and is starting to see how much value I add.

        The bad news is that I have worked with my boss for so long she knows I’ll never let work slip through the cracks so I think there’s a subconscious undercurrent of “welll if Sansa can’t take care of this Arya will!” and we don’t discuss the ramifications of this nearly enough!

    4. Kelly White

      My guess is that no-one really thought through how to divvy up the work or off load anything- that the two of you are still expected to do 80 hours of work, in 70 hours.

      Since you are physically there 40 hours, 5 days, I can see how more will get pushed to you. Do you know if Sansa’s workload has actually been reduced (in a practical way- were projects/responsibilities shifted to other people, besides you?) Or is it just that her schedule was adjusted, and now the expectation is that you do 50 hours of work.

      That might be the discussion to have with your boss- to clarify how much of Sansa’s old work you are supposed to be covering, and what.

      1. Anony-moose

        I think you are right. We’re in an organization that has a “get shit done” mentality so the assumption is we’d al just figure it out.

        I feel like I’ve gotten a lot out of this thread and can have an informed conversation with my boss. I was getting a bit cranky and frustrated before. Thank you to all who chimed in – it’s helped me clear my mind and identify what is really the problem. That’s why I love this community!

  39. Technical Writer

    I have to write a number of quick reference guides for my companies sales people who are in the field all the time. Are there any technical writers out there who have any tips on making usable QRGs for viewing on tablets?

    1. A. D. Kay

      I need a bit more info. What are you documenting–Equipment or software? What writing tools do you use? For example, if you are using FrameMaker, you can publish to EPUB format, and that output should be viewable on tablets.

      1. Technical Writer

        I’m documenting software. Currently using word and powerpoint but hoping to get adobe in design.
        This is something that my job has morphed into so I dont have a ton of experience with technical writing. But I need to develop some succinct guides for following particular software processes in the field. It may also be given to some customers using the same software.

        I am not sure exactly how to go about making mobile documentation. I’ve been creating downloadable PDFs for employees to access on the computer that have greater information. I’m not sure if I should stick with a PDF or if there is something that would be better for mobile viewing. Also, in terms of design, are there things to consider like colors and contrast in order to keep the files clear and readable?

        I hope that’s a bit more clear. If not, I can try to elaborate again.

        1. Meg Murry

          Not a technical writer, but when I google “quick reference” guide and look at the images, I see a lot of items that would look good on a single sheet of paper but would involve a lot of scrolling back and forth on a tablet to see all at once. What size screen do most of them have, tablet-wise? If I open up a pdf on my tablet with a normal font size and then zoom so I can read it, I can fit 1/2 to 1/4 a page on the screen at any one time – so keep that in mind. Can you ask to borrow a tablet for a few days so you can look at some of what you have created in the past and see if it does or doesn’t work as is?

        2. Catherine in Canada

          Tech writer here – I haven’t done any tech doc work for mobile devices but one of my books is being converted by Createspace to the Kindle format. When I was talking to the rep at Createspace (they called me and offered a freebie) he said that acceptable formats for Kindle included html.

          Does MSWord save to html? Seems to me it does. That might work.

          As for formatting:
          First of all, the QSGs I create are in a tri-fold format on A4, so fairly narrow columns with information flow from the bottom of one to the top of the next. Seems to me that something like that would work well on a mobile device. Better to scroll than a pdf that you have to zoom and track around on.
          Second, QSGs do need to be very succinct. It can take a long time to settle on the right balance of enough info but not too much. And depend on your audience. I use a lot of numbered and bulleted lists -they can capture a lot of information in a compact way. (Seems to me that hyperlinks between all your headings might be a good idea too.
          Third, readability. Serif fonts are more readable in smaller sizes, and black on white is the easiest to read. Stick with one font, vary the size and style for headings, notes and etc. Use colour in the headings, borders and possibly as background colour in text boxes.

          That’s all I got. Have fun!

            1. Ultraviolet

              I always wondered whether you were two people or one person who typed her name in differently sometimes!

  40. Ali

    I am in NYC for a job interview! I started using my sister’s address on my resume when applying to jobs here. Got a response on Monday asking me to meet this week! So here I am! I’m meeting with a headhunter who posted the job, but it’s still a step!

    For what it’s worth I am writing this from a coffee shop, not the building I’m going to for my interview. Haha. Still need good vibes though!

    1. Mallory Janis Ian

      Good luck, Ali. I’ve been following your comments, and you are due for some good in your work life. Sending ~~~~~good vibes~~~~~ that this is it!

  41. Anon Embarrassed

    Work crushes:
    A person that I thought I had a friendly working relationship with told me that he has a big crush on me. I’m a married woman and don’t really know how to respond. What is he trying to achieve from telling me this?
    I don’t want to lead him on, so I guess I’ll have to stick to necessary business only. It’s too bad, I liked having a friend like him.

    1. Someone Else

      This happened to me… Be very careful about the amount of time you spend with him now, what could have been previously veiwed as harmless co-worker lunches to him, could start to feel like dates. Other co-workers might also pick up on his new vibe toward you and might gossip. It’s best to pull away, and only interact on a professional level, and shut him out of even the friend zone so he can deal with is feelings.

      1. HeyNonnyNonny

        Also, if you haven’t already, make sure to gently but firmly say, “I am married and not interested. I hope we can continue to work together.” or some other clear rejection.

    2. Dasha

      Maybe something like (with some adjusting), “Bob, I’ve really enjoyed our friendly working relationship and interactions over the past few (months, years, whatever) and I’ve been processing what you’ve said about having a crush on me. I really hope that I didn’t do anything to give you the wrong impression and if I did, I apologize. I just wanted to clear the air because I know we need to have a professional relationship (and only a professional relationship) to continue to work together successfully.”

    3. iseeshiny

      Is it too late to laugh it off? Like, “Aw, that’s so sweet! Keep dreaming! So about those chocolate teapots?”

      1. Anon Embarrassed

        Looking back on things now, I see how that was the tactic that I had been using with flirty statements, etc., and obviously that didn’t work well. I think that’s why he finally said something outright.
        I guess that’s why I am curious as to what he means and what he wants to achieve by telling me this. We are friendly, but not outwardly enough so that others would pick up on something being there (well, at least as far as I know.) He’s known for being a friendly, popular guy, and it’s not like we have lunch all the time or spend hours at each other’s desks chatting all day. Days can go by that we don’t even talk to each other. (This works to my advantage, since it won’t look like there’s a really abrupt turn of events.)
        I think right now, I’m just going to stick to business only, and if he brings something up again, ask him what his intentions are and make mine clear. This just really caught me off guard and I can’t help feeling like I unintentionally led this guy on.

        1. fposte

          He means anything from “Flirting is fun! Let’s keep doing it!” to “Flirting is fun! Any chance of something else?”

          I don’t see any need to ask him his intentions, because they don’t matter. “Your comment threw me off; I think it’s a sign that we’ve gone beyond a workplace conversation even though I didn’t realize it, so I’m going to stick to professional communications from now on.” And then quit flirting.

          1. Chriama

            I like your text better than mine. Call him out for what he said and also make it clear that any friendliness you may have had in the past is no longer an option.

        2. Chriama

          I have to say I strongly disagree with that approach. Your experience has clearly shown you it doesn’t accomplish anything, and what’s the purpose in laughing it off? Because it’s awkward and/or rude? He made it that way when he explicitly told his *married* *coworker* that he has a “serious crush” on her. Clearly shutting him down isn’t rude, and it’s just shifting the awkwardness back on him where it belongs.

          Also, I posted below but I feel really strongly about this so I’m going to repeat myself here. Since he made a point of telling you this, you need to respond to his statement. Just trying to pull away isn’t going to solve anything. And quite frankly, it doesn’t matter what his intentions are — and it especially doesn’t matter what he says his intentions are. That was an inappropriate statement, and you need to let him know clearly that you thought it was inappropriate and that you’re only interested in maintaining a professional relationship here. Throughout your comments I hear so much unconscious, ingrained sexism here — worried that you led him on somehow, wanting to know what his intentions were, trying to get him to back off without actually saying it — why is it your fault that he was inappropriate, and why is it your job to make sure his feelings don’t get hurt? Is there something about being a woman that makes it inherently your fault if men are so attracted to you that they cross professional and social boundaries? Let him take responsibility for his own actions!

          1. iseeshiny

            Well *I,* iseeshiny, could laugh it off because I’m not a people pleaser and have a minor case of rbf, so when I laugh at someone and say “Keep dreaming” it is really means “Never gonna happen, sad puppy!” Because I have very firm and evident boundaries and have managed to shake off a lot of the social conditioning to never let any man around me feel bad ever for anything and trying to manage others’ feelings for them, there is zero chance that any sane person will hear it as “Maybe if you keep dreaming and are persistent enough I WILL become yours!” Laughing it off has worked for me in the past – I make it clear I’m not and will never take it seriously, and he can pretend it was all in good fun, and the status quo which has been working for me up until now can be maintained.

            Further comments from Anon Embarrassed make it evident that that approach will not work for them, so your advice is definitely better in this instance. Just so everyone knows, I agree it is 100% okay not to feel like this should be laughed off. If things need to get weird for a while in order for him to go back to acceptable social interactions, it is okay and cool and not your fault if they get weird – that’s on Crush Guy for feeling the need to unload his feelings on you.

            1. Chriama

              Fair enough, I understand why that would work for you. When someone’s posting here though, I err on the side of giving permission to be not ‘nice’ rather than a suggestion that could reinforce the idea that being ‘nice’ is a woman’s role.

        3. I'm a Little Teapot

          There’s no such thing as unintentionally leading someone on. If you weren’t deliberately attempting to manipulate his feelings, you weren’t leading him on.

    4. Chriama

      Whether you ‘led him on’ or not, as long as he knows you’re married then he has to know this is inappropriate. Relationships between coworkers are already a tricky issue in the workplace. Relationships between coworkers who are married, but not to each other, is just drama waiting to happen. You need to nip this in the bud ASAP.

      “Bob, I know we’ve had a friendly working relationship, but we are coworkers and I’m married. This is incredibly inappropriate and I need to know if you can maintain a professional relationship with me or if this is going to be a problem.”

      And then you need to pull away from him completely and become business only. I would err on the side of being unfriendly as long as you’re not obstructing his work.

      Also, while I definitely don’t want to blame you for his actions, the way you’ve phrased some things here make me think you may not know how to set appropriate boundaries in general. Whether this is because you’re naturally friendly or just worried about seeming rude, it’s worth looking at how you interact with other people and seeing if there’s anything you want to change.

      1. Anon Embarrassed

        You make a lot of valid points, and I really appreciate your input. I do want to look at my interactions with people and make changes, not only in this area, but in other areas as well. I am a naturally friendly person, but I also struggle with people thinking I’m rude (as well as people-pleasing and other unhealthy behaviors). I’m glad you put it into the perspective for me that this is inappropriate and I need to put a stop to it.

        1. Chriama

          I’m glad I could help! I definitely got the vibe from you that you’re a people pleaser, and I was worried about striking a balance between telling you that it’s ok to be blunt without making it sound like you’re wrong if you choose to maintain a friendly persona. I think sometimes the counter to sexism is to tell women that they should be more like men, and that’s not fair.

          1. Anon Embarrassed

            That is exactly what I struggle with — striking a balance between curbing unhealthy behaviors (people pleasing, setting boundaries) while still keeping behaviors that I feel like are a part of me that I don’t necessarily want to stop (being friendly) . And I mean this more as a whole, not just necessarily in this specific situation. I’m getting there, but it is a challenge. Thanks again!

    5. Lady Bug

      I had a similar situation. I worked in an office of 6 or 7 people mixed men and women and we all had a flirty/jokey banter, and no one took it seriously, or so I thought. One day, just me and a coworker were in the office and he kept asking me why we weren’t more than friends (we were both married). I tried laughing it off and saying because I’m married, but he kept pushing the issue. I finally told him to drop it and go back to his cubicle because he was out of line. Our relationship totally changed and I wouldn’t even joke with him in a non-busy way. I felt a little bad, but ultimately it was his fault for not backing off. Best of luck.

      1. Not So NewReader

        Good advice. Anon E., first and foremost there is no need to be embarrassed. You did not create this situation. Secondly, he told you because he hopes to spark a “romance” with you. There is no other reason for saying that. Do what you got to do to show that your no means NO and not “ask again later”.

  42. Secret Code Name for Today

    Does anyone have any tips for dealing with depression while you’re at work? I’ve been really down lately and any tips to stay on track at work would be much appreciated. I just feel like my emotions are all over the place and I don’t want my work or co-workers to suffer because of it.

    1. jenna maroney

      Captain Awkward had a piece about it that will come up if you google “captain awkward depression work.” It’s a little more focused on “keeping your job” than “doing it well,” but as she points out, some aspects of “looking good” are also genuinely helpful in a work environment.

      Depression sucks. I’ve been through it a couple times myself, and I’m sorry you have to deal with it. I hope you’re able to both do what you need and be compassionate with yourself about how hard that can be.

    2. afiendishthingy

      Are you in treatment for it? I’ve definitely been where you are but unfortunately beyond caring for the depression I don’t really have tips for how to keep it from affecting your productivity and work relationships. Be patient with yourself, do what you can to get yourself feeling better. I hope you feel better soon.

    3. Anony-moose

      1) Big hugs. Dealing with depression is so difficult and work can make it harder.

      I know that when I’m going through a few weeks/months where I’m more depressed than usual, work seems to take ALL my energy and I have a hard time producing high quality work.

      I think acknowledging that you are depressed is a big first step. It is OKAY to not be okay for a while. Focus on figuring out how to get your work done so that you aren’t stressed or letting down your team. For me this can be lots of to-do lists and even setting a timer for 20 minutes or so just to Get Shit Done.

      And then take care of yourself when you AREN’T working. I’ll schedule a massage for right after work, or take myself to a movie. Or binge watch Drop Dead Diva. Basically, I’ll baby myself for a few days and not kick myself too much about how I should be working harder, better, or smarter. It’s ok to need self care and to take sometime to get your emotions back on track.

      If you aren’t seeing a therapist I highly recommend it. I go to therapy weekly and also try to go to yoga/meditation a few times a week as well. It really helps.

    4. Mostly Cloudy

      I have to second Captain Awkward’s post. I think the section about documenting is extremely helpful, not only to keep the lines open with management, but also to prove to yourself stuff is getting done. I keep a private list of things I’ve accomplished like:

      -Did first third of document x –> will do second third tomorrow
      -Changed printer toner
      -Cleaned up sent mail folder
      -Helped a-hole customer without strangling them

      It will help you see that you ARE functioning. It may not be at full capacity, but shit is still getting done. Time management is key. Break things up into small tasks and start them early so you’re not overwhelmed each day. And if you have a day where you truly just can’t get anything done you’ll have some slack in your schedule, ideally. Don’t let things snowball.

      Try to knock out the hardest thing right away. Then you can point to that task all day and think, “Hey I did that! Today is already a success!”

      And therapy and medication can be very helpful if you have those options. Don’t be afraid to seek help or take a mental health day off. You’ll get through this! (And you’re not alone. I’m off to pick up my first dose of meds.)

    5. Not So NewReader

      Make sure you are getting vitamins and minerals in to you. I am not sure I have been clinically depressed, but things have been bleak sometimes. I worked with veggies and protein drinks to help buoy me up. If you don’t feel like eating much maybe you could work with a shake or drink that is fortified. Lack of food only makes matters worse. If we are going through some rough stuff the stress alone can cause our bodies to lose vitamins and minerals at an unusually high clip.

  43. jenna maroney

    Just venting here – twice now my boss has put up a product for sale (not preorder) when he has been told it’s not done. One of those is whatever, those people will have a weirdly long wait, but another was a digital product that had several errors that hadn’t been caught as well as other areas of improvement. I hate being told that our goal is high-quality output (which should inspire and motivate us to love our jobs), but seeing in practice that that’s not really going on. At least be consistent!

    Can’t wait for my background check to clear so I can give notice that I am getting off this ride.

  44. Christian Troy

    I’m in the final stages of interviewing for a great opportunity so naturally the hiring manager reached out to my references. The hiring manager ended up emailing me after talking with one of them because she said the reference said I had a problem with another supervisor but couldn’t tell her anything about it. I was horrified because it sounded factually inaccurate and incredibly negative. I explained to the hiring manager what happened that my reference was referring to and how I would have handled it different based on feedback he gave me.

    Following Alison’s advice about how to handle a bad reference, I contacted my reference to see what was going on. He has a different version of events, saying the hiring manager asked directly what I could improve upon and how I dealt with conflict. He claims he explained that I was put in an unfair situation by another supervisor and he thought I could have handled it better, but didn’t remember all the details.

    I don’t know what to think of this situation. My reference and I had a rough patch years ago, but we completed other successful projects since then and he’s never indicated he was uncomfortable with serving as a reference (I gave him multiple outs). I want to believe he’s telling me the truth, but then why is the hiring manager relaying a different set of events that sound negative and inaccurate?

    1. J.B.

      You probably don’t want to offer him as a reference in the future. You called and asked, and hopefully you can move on from it.

      1. Christian Troy

        My reference is my thesis advisor and I did the majority of research for him the last few years. If I don’t include him, I don’t have anyone else to use.

    2. Steve G

      So he doesn’t remember the details of the event, and he admits it was a difficult situation for you, but he is still bringing it up, knowing it can hurt your chances to get the job and earn a livelihood? Even though it was something that was obviously so not important that he can’t even remember the details? I am livid!

      1. Christian Troy

        He doesn’t think he did anything wrong because he said the hiring manager asked if I ever had a work conflict and how I resolved it, and what my areas of improvement are. He claims he’s “being honest when asked a direct question.”

        I’m mad at myself because when I worked for him, he gave me presents and then got mad that I wasn’t happy enough to receive them or some crap. He used to rub my back a lot, which I didn’t like either but didn’t want to say it made me uncomfortable because he did it to other employees. I tried to save face by being extra nice/perk/whatever since he felt slighted or whatever, but for all intents and purposes he was my advisor and my boss. I should have probably quit when all of it started or something. But I don’t know what to do. It’s been really upsetting because I’ve been applying and interviewing for jobs a long time and he doesn’t get it, at all. I know I probably should stop using him as a reference but I’m sure it’s going to look really bad.

        1. Chriama

          Oh man, I’m full of righteous feminist anger today over some of these comments! I think there are 2 possibilities going on here:

          1) your boss has some issues with emotional boundaries and professional norms. He’s telling the truth about how he responded to the reference checker, but the way he said it caused her to interpret it the way she did. As someone who lacks professionalism I don’t know if he’s really a great reference.
          2) your boss has issues with emotional boundaries and professional norms resents the fact that you tried to set boundaries with him and/or that you’ve escaped his grasp, and is taking delight in screwing you over. Someone that manipulative is also not a great reference.

          A good reference should want you to end up in a job that suits your skills, and would make sure to speak to your strengths andbe clear about what your areas of improvement are – not “she handled it badly, but I don’t remember how and I’m not sure how she should improve that”.

          I’m really sorry to hear you’re going through this. If it’s at all possible that your boss is ‘A’ rather than ‘B’, could you maybe try talking to him about what you’d like him to say to reference checkers? Would he agree to that>

          1. Christian Troy

            When all of this first started, my friend was waving all the red flags that this guy knows what professional boundaries are but chooses to ignore them and see how much he can get away with. I don’t want to push communication with him any further as he already seemed pretty defensive with the, “I am not going to lie when asked a direction question.” I just feel totally screwed professionally right now.

            1. Chriama

              Oh man, he’s B. So the question is how you communicate to reference checkers that your previous boss is a lying, manipulative douchebag? The only thing I can think of is maybe thinking of some of the things he might try to say to reference checkers and try and preemptively mention them during the interview process? Like, if he’s going to use that vague story about how you had a conflict with someone, you use it first and mention (as an aside) how you struggled to get feedback from your boss and how it was a learning experience for you. If you can subtly hint that your boss is not a reliable narrator and come across as personable and aware of your own weaknesses, his opinion will be less likely to sway them.

              Also, are there *any* other references you could use? Lab mates? Undergrad professors? People you’ve worked with in a volunteer capacity?

              Other than that, networking is the best option. Let everyone you know, and everyone they know, about the kind of job you’re looking for. Reach out to old colleagues and professors. Go for informational interviews with alumni from your school.

              This really sucks and I’m so sorry :(

            2. J.B.

              I’m sorry, it’s a really rough situation. I do think you need to stop offering him as a reference. Check Alison’s archives for advice about how to handle a bad reference. The good news is that once you get a professional job no one will care what your thesis advisor says. Except maybe another academic, and there is a possibility that person would know of his reputation.

              In this case I would also dig further. Is there anyone sympathetic in the department you could talk to? If not, maybe even university HR would have some advice on how to handle it. Or even the department head. If he did that to you he has likely done it to others.

        2. april ludgate

          As someone who works in a college that has all employees go through harassment training, his behavior is 100% not okay. He should not be touching any of the students he oversees and he should know better. This could be a much bigger problem and you should seriously, seriously, consider reaching out to your school’s HR department about what you experienced to stop this from happening to more students. If one of the students I supervise told me that, I would be required to report it. That behavior is a huge red flag, especially from a professor.

    3. Meg Murry

      Does this mean you are out of the running, or just that the hiring manager has a concern? Is there someone else you could offer up as an additional reference, and maybe explain something like “Thesis Advisor is one of those people who thinks he needs to be brutally honest about everything, and that everyone has room to improve always. However, I also worked with Bob Smith, and he is willing to speak to you as a reference as well.”

      Who was the other supervisor you had a conflict with? Was there anyone else you worked with at the time who could speak better to how you handled it? Or any chance you could talk to the Hiring Manager about what happened, and how you learned from the experience, and what you now do to make sure that doesn’t happen again – especially if it was a situation that happened a few years ago?

      I think if the Hiring Manager contacted you to get your side of the story, you still have a chance – after all, if the reference was really really terrible I would guess they would just have dropped you and sent the “thanks but no thanks” letter.

      In future, if there is any mention of reference checking and they ask for 3 references, could you provide 4, and tell them that your advisor might give you a lukewarm reference because that’s just what he does to everyone but you didn’t want to leave off your most recent supervisor?

  45. Sunflower

    At my company the direct of dept A, Sarah, is a little neurotic and has been at the company for about 10 years. She has an assistant, Cassie, who was hired about 6 months ago. Cassie was referred by a woman in my department, Nicole, so they are friends and that is how I know about this situation. As far as work goes, everything is fine and Cassie and Sarah work well together. Sarah has a very sensitive nose and has always had issues with her assistant’s smells. Sarah has an office and Cassie sits outside about 10 ft away. In the past, Sarah has asked her assistants to not use certain perfumes, shampoo’s/conditioners, and deodorants. I would say half the office knows about Sarah’s sensitive nose and almost everyone thinks it’s crazy. Cassie has asked several people in her department if her scent is too strong or bothering them and everyone has said no. I’ve casually talked to Cassie a couple times and never noticed any scent coming from her whatsoever. She’s ‘clean looking’ and neatly put together so it’s not an appearance thing. Cassie has done several things like offered to move her desk farther away and was told that’s not an option. Cassie told Sarah that her shampoo and deodorant has always worked for her and she wouldn’t feel comfortable changing it. Sarah is not happy about this and last week came in with a bottle of detergent and demanded Cassie start washing her clothes in this. This caused Cassie to start crying citing that she feels like something is wrong with her and she feels like she’s being told she’s dirty. Nicole asked me what I think Cassie should do. I personally think it’s everything else Sarah does that would drive me out of Cassie’s job but she seems to not mind that part of work. Sarah’s boss is our company president(we are small and don’t have an HR dept). Thoughts on what Cassie should do?

    1. Xarcady

      Has Sarah commented on Cassie’s shampoo and deodorant? or just the detergent? Because I’m not clear on why Sarah brought in detergent when Cassie’s been defending her use of other products. Nor do I understand why Cassie sees this as implying that Cassie is dirty–it’s clear it is about the scent of the product, not Cassie’s overall cleanliness.

      Asking other people does no good. It’s Sarah’s nose that needs to be consulted.

      Many people do have a sensitivity to various scents. Seriously, Sarah needs to make this clear during the hiring process–that employees in this position need to use unscented products, or products from the “approved” list.

      As for what Cassie should do? I think she needs to accept the fact that she either has to reduce her use of scented products drastically, or get another job.

      Cassie doesn’t have to use the detergent that Sarah brought in, but she should either find an unscented detergent she likes, or plan on washing her clothes in the detergent that she prefers, and then re-washing the clothes again, with no detergent at all, to get the scent out. Most brands of deodorant have unscented versions, so Cassie should be able find one that she can still use. Shampoo is a bit harder–and it starts to get expensive trying out various brands to find one that is both scent-free and that works for your own hair. Sarah might offer to bring in trial sizes for Cassie to experiment with, or in some other way subsidize the cost of finding a good, scent-free shampoo that works for Cassie.

    2. Student

      Tell Cassie that no one is calling her dirty. Her boss is telling her that she’s using unacceptable levels of perfume. She’s smelly, not dirty. There’s a big difference.

      If Sarah can tell when the assistant does or does not use perfumed soaps, then there’s something to it and you ought to stop doubting her on this issue. Some people have a more sensitive sense of smell than you do, just like some people can hear better and some people can see better. Apparently Sarah can smell things much better than normal. She’s also the boss, so her assistant is going to have to either comply or face possible termination.

      Tell Cassie that most detergents/deodorants/shampoos have a no-scent or low-scent variety. Look for the words “hypoallergenic” and/or “clean” or “fresh”. She can probably keep her favorite “brand”, but will need to switch to a lower-perfume version of that brand. Then ask the boss for feedback about whether the perfume level is acceptable after the change.

      Or, tell Cassie that if she loves her perfumed stuff, she ought to start looking for a new job, because this is not going to work out. Some people really love that stuff, but I don’t know a lot of people who’d be willing to lose a job because they really want to smell like lilac watermelons. She can still smell like lilac watermelons on the weekends, or after work. It might also help her to shower the night before work instead of right before work, or buy a dehumidifier for the boss’s office – moisture helps spread smells.

      1. Ihmmy

        This! I get massive headaches from scented products and sometimes people don’t seem to notice that they’ve doused themselves in scents. Many others in our office don’t notice or aren’t bothered by scents. Thankfully there’s at least one other “scent-sitive” person in the office who gets it (she reacts more severely than I do)

        However, Sarah’s approach is clearly not working. Has she explained why those scents don’t work for her? that she gets a headache or nauseous or something similar? Rather than demanding x product get used, perhaps it would be good to find out which product is the actual culprit first, and then Cassie can find a way to limit or stop her use of that product.

      2. Sunflower

        Cassie isn’t wearing perfume though. By scent, I meant her natural scent that she has from only using soap and deodorant. I don’t remember what brand Cassie uses exactly but it’s some regular drug store brand like Pantene or Dove and not something with strong scents.

        1. GigglyPuff

          But to some people those things do have strong smells. If I walk by someone and can smell their shampoo, even Pantene, it’s too much. Same thing with deodorant, I can’t stand to use women’s deodorant because the flowery smell lingers, and when you sweat, it gets worse and amplifies (at least with ones I’ve tried), which is why I use men’s, it seems to more stop the sweating than masking sweat with another scent.

          But anyway, in my opinion both people have handled it wrong. Cassie may have overacted, but it’s possible this might be a sensitive issue, i.e. have had past problems growing up with hygiene. Sarah should definitely example the reasoning and let her know what products do what (if she can). A good solution might be, both of them sitting down with a third person, like a mediation session, someone who is calm but can take control when needed and figure out a good solution for everyone.

        2. Sunshine Brite

          Yeah, that’s not a natural scent. I have pretty sensitive skin vs scent and I can’t use things like Tide because it’s too harsh and I find the smell too harsh too and can tell when others near me use that. I use those regular brands and the smells can get overwhelming/clashing easily even when they’re both “powder fresh” or “classic clean” or whatever they call normal nowadays.

          Sarah might want to get a doctor’s note for it and Cassie should probably find/be transferred to a different position since they clearly can’t be near each other if Cassie continues to use her products.

      3. Meg Murry

        “clean” and “fresh” products are most definitely scented, and some of the scents I find most offensive. Especially ones that are supposed to smell like “fresh linens” or “fresh laundry” smell terrible to me, and dryer sheets are one of the things that give me the biggest headaches.

        Over the years I have transitioned our family to fragrance-free (which isn’t necessarily the same thing as unscented) laundry detergent and no fabric softener at all, and fragrance free hand soaps, lotions and deodorant. I haven’t found a completely fragrance free shampoo and conditioner combo yet, but as of right now I’ve found one that at least doesn’t make me want to vomit in the shower or give me a headache after all day wear.

        No one is telling Carrie she is smelly. Sarah is (very undiplomatically) telling her that she is using products that have a scent that Sarah can’t handle, and I think other commenters are right that she is maybe trying to offer up a solution without telling Carrie to go buy all new products. But Sarah is handling this badly, and I agree with others that Sarah should have addressed this up front in the interviews. I wonder if it could possibly be the laundry detergent though – if Carrie interviewed in a suit that had been dry-cleaned or otherwise hanging in her closet for a while, that may not have smelled as strongly as freshly washed laundry. Or any chance Carrie uses something like reed diffusers or plug-in air fresheners at home so her coat has a lingering scent?

        Its not about if her scent is too strong. Its about if she has one at all, even if it is one that other people technically find pleasant or neutral. Which Sarah is not handling well, but Carrie shouldn’t take it personally

        1. fposte

          Everybody has a scent, though, whether they purchase intentionally scented products or not. There’s no such thing as a scent-free human. So you can’t really make it about somebody’s having any scent at all, because we all do. If that’s the hill Sarah’s going to die on, she needs to make telecommuting work either for her or Cassie.

          1. Not So NewReader

            This. Where is Sarah going to work that she will not have any scents around her?

            I am not unsympathetic. Fragrances bother me, also. But there are not many places out there that are totally fragrance-free. Has Sarah been to a doctor for this?

      4. afiendishthingy

        This is a WHOLE lot to ask someone to change about their personal routine. Not wearing heavy perfumes is one thing but I don’t really think dictating what shampoo, deodorant, and detergent your reports can use, or what time they shower, falls under the umbrella of “reasonable accommodations” to a disability – and that’s assuming Sarah actually has a medical need to not be around people who use scented shampoo, and doesn’t just have a heightened sense of smell.

    3. Dawn

      “almost everyone thinks it’s crazy”

      It’s not crazy. It sucks. It sucks SO MUCH because you can breeze through life forgetting that you are allergic to stuff and then you do something innocuous like use 409 to clean something and put yourself down with a migraine the rest of the day. Or someone gets on the elevator with you who’s bathed in Axe instead of water that morning and BAM, migraine. Or someone walks by wearing whatever perfume sets you off and BAM! It’s like having a sadistic Emeril in your head.

      I agree with others here that Cassie needs to accept that if she’s working for Sarah, she can’t wear anything scented or wash her clothes in scented detergent. It sucks, sure, it’s annoying, sure, but it needs to happen in order for Sarah to be able to perform her job duties.

      1. Windchime

        Yes, this. I went to a bridal shower a couple of months ago. For a few moments, I stood next to an older lady who was literally drenched in some strong, “floral” scented perfume. It kicked off a terrible asthma attack that ended, 6 weeks later, with full-fledged bronchitis.

        I’m not always sensitive to scents but when I am, it’s just so awful. Walking through the perfume gauntlet at Macy’s is impossible during those times, because I literally cannot breathe.

    4. Chriama

      The thing is, I feel like both sides are being a little uncompromising. Sarah’s insistence that Cassie change her products without entertaining less invasive ideas like letting Cassie move her desk is rude. On the other hand, if Cassie wants to keep the job she might need to just bow to Sarah’s whims. At the very least, I’m sure she could try using another shampoo or deodorant rather than just refusing, since that puts her at an impasse with the boss. Overall though, I don’t understand why Cassie thinks she’s being told she’s ‘dirty’. Sarah has made it clear that her opposition is to the scents in the products Cassie is using. Why would she assume that Sarah’s comments are a passive-agressive attempt to let her know that she has BO?

      1. Not So NewReader

        I agree here.
        But I can understand Cassie feeling like she has been told she is dirty. It’s a very personal comment to bring someone a bottle of laundry detergent (detergent? really?) and tell them to use it. And Sarah seems to have no idea how that could impact Cassie.
        Now she is telling her what to wash with, what shampoo to use and what deodorant to buy. Couldn’t she have informed Cassie on the interview that all this would be part of the job?

    5. Olive Hornby

      Has anyone told Cassie that this isn’t personal, and that Sarah always has an issue with her assistants’ scents? Simply knowing that this is about Sarah, not about her, might help a lot if she’s feeling attacked and defensive.

      Reading between the lines, though, I suspect the detergent was just the straw that broke the camel’s back, and that it’s the “everything else that Sarah does” that’s really weighing on Cassie…

      1. afiendishthingy

        “Reading between the lines, though, I suspect the detergent was just the straw that broke the camel’s back, and that it’s the “everything else that Sarah does” that’s really weighing on Cassie…”

        I’m inclined to agree. Sarah is being an ass about how she’s approaching this issue, which makes me think she’s probably a pretty controlling and unpleasant person in other ways.

    6. Xarcady

      When you think about it, there are so many scented products these days. On a typical day, a person might have on scented: deodorant, body lotion, hand lotion, talcum powder or the like, shampoo, conditioner, detergent, fabric softener, and hand soap (a lot of the liquid soaps have scents that linger much longer than bar soaps). That’s not counting things made only to smell good, like perfume, after shave, etc. That’s a lot of scents. And many laundry detergents reek of scent, moreso than any other product I know. I can identify Tide users from several feet away sometimes.

      And Cassie moving her desk probably won’t solve the problem, because as Sarah’s assistant, surely Cassie has to be in close proximity to Sarah several times a day?

      I don’t use scented products because I don’t like scented products, not because I’m sensitive to the scents. I can identify detergent and fabric softener smells, and various popular scented hand lotions when I’m standing a few feet away from a person using those products. And I don’t have a particularly sensitive nose. If someone does have a sensitivity to scents, it can be a problem. I know of one or two scent-free workplaces or departments because of this sensitivity.

      It might work better if Cassie could ask Sarah for a list of products/scents that she shouldn’t use–that way it is less like Sarah saying, “Here, you must use this!” and more a way of weeding out known offenders from the start.

      1. Catherine in Canada

        And don’t forget that demon product; dryer sheets! Walking past a house with a running dryer can knock me down for the day…

    7. april ludgate

      Honestly, I feel for Sarah on this one. I can be really sensitive to smells and it’s awful, especially when no one will believe you. My mom has this awful perfume that she won’t change and I’ve been stuck in the car with the smell and it’s nauseating and headache inducing and generally terrible. Maybe Sarah could have been more polite, but it’s not a ridiculous request. It’s even possible that she bought the detergent so that Cassie wouldn’t have to spend her own money on it. Some people are hypersensitive. It’s like how teachers working with young or special education students shouldn’t use anything with a strong scent because younger kids and people with sensory processing problems can get really overwhelmed by olfactory stimulation and just because something smells good to you, it doesn’t mean it smells okay, or even tolerable, to everyone else. Maybe Cassie could change when she showers if she really wants to use those products. If you shower an hour before work you’ll have a much stronger scent than if you’re a night shower-er, which could help.

      1. anonymous daisy

        My mother would wake me up in the morning by spraying on her perfume while she was in my bedroom. You can bet I was up and out of that room within seconds. And when she switched to Charlie, I was up and in the bathroom vomiting within seconds. The Charlie didn’t last long after those kind of mornings.

      2. Not So NewReader

        Cassie, of course, has the right to refuse to rearrange her whole life just to keep a job. She could quit the job.

        I can’t picture this lady finding an employee she could work with.

    8. More Cake Please

      Most people are so doused in scent that you don’t really notice until you drop your own cloud of perfume, so I’m not surprised no one else notices. I feel for Cassie though. The choice of shampoo, detergent and deodorant is highly personal and there may be a very specific reason she uses what she does. For example, what if a certain ingredient (not scent) causes an issue for Cassie and therefore, she must use the brand that also happens to smell more? What if she simply can’t afford scent-free products? And even if that’s not the case, I just don’t think one person should force the world to change. I say this as someone who has gone scent free and noticed a huge difference in my health.

      Sarah is rude and it’s that type of behavior which leads people who aren’t sensitive to smells to think we’re crazy. I know it sucks when a smell is bothering you, but that’s no excuse to drive someone to tears. There are options to accommodate Sarah that don’t involve harassing Cassie. If I were Cassie I’d pick one thing to change (probably detergent since that’s easiest) and go scent-free there. I find All Free and Clear works nicely and isn’t too expensive. If Sarah is still having issues, I think Sarah needs to start giving as well. Get an air purifier or at least a desk fan and blow the scent away. Let Cassie move her desk, or have Sarah switch offices with someone else. If they can work different schedules (say one 7:30 – 4:30 and one 9 – 6 with different lunch hours) that would minimize the exposure time. And if Sarah can pinpoint clearly which product is the issue and suggest alternatives, that would be great. I’d be pissed trialing numerous shampoos with no guarantee something will be acceptable.

      1. Lady Bug

        As someone who suffers from eczema, I’d be pretty annoyed if someone told me what products I can use. It’s taken many years to figure out what works for me (Dove deodorant awesome, Secret major rashes). I can only use “free” detergents, even looking at Tide mskes me break out in an itchy red rash, but I use sulfate free Tea Tree shampoo and conditioner, and oddly enough Bath & Body works shea body butter is the the most effective rash prevention I’ve found, and I can’t find it unscented. I try to stick to more “natural” smells like coconut or vanilla, but I’m sure even those can cause issues.

        I think in these situations finding a solution that suits both people, like moving desks is the best solution. It doesn’t make any sense to decide whose issue is worthy of accommodation.

        not that this necessarily applies here, since it doesn’t appear Cassie has any medical conditions.

    9. IndieGir

      I’m coming in late to the party, but I have to defend Cassie here. Granted, her reaction hasn’t been great, but someone should have told her about this before she was hired. Sarah’s sensitivity unusual enough that it should have been mentioned before Cassie was hired so Cassie had the opportunity not to take a job where very intrusive, personal demands would be made. Because let’s face it, asking someone to change their shampoo, deodorant, and detergent is VERY intrusive. A lot of people (women in particular) are very attached to their shampoos and may have hair that doesn’t cooperate easily with another brand, and their brand doesn’t have an unscented version.

      Also, while I’m sympathetic to the scent-sensitive, many folks (like me) are highly allergic. I have very dry skin, and only a few brands really help me without also making me break out. I’d be hard pressed to change my hand-cream or face-cream without suffering myself.

      So, someone should have notified Cassie before an offer was made, if her employment really is contingent on this.

      1. Dana

        +1

        Just because I didn’t know where else to throw this in, how is laundry detergent the “solution” if the problem is referring to shampoo and deodorant? The way my clothes smell is not going to negate the way my bodyand hair smell.

      2. Sunshine Brite

        Definitely! My hair is very finicky and switching shampoos isn’t easy. Everyone knew about this before Cassie came around and just dismissed it as a non-issue when it’s clearly a big issue

      3. Lindsay J

        Exactly. I would not be changing my personal care products because somebody else was sensitive to the smells.

        Perfume is one thing, because that is something I could easily leave off (and is honestly something I don’t usually wear to begin with). And it does bother me when people exist in a cloud of Axe or Scented Body Mist or whatever.

        However, asking someone to change their deodorant or shampoo or laundry detergent, or to stop using reed diffusers or plugins in their own home because the scent lingers on their clothing is going way too far. My obligations to work stop when I leave work. I’m not changing my personal care routine or my household products because someone at work can’t handle it.

        It’s taken me a long time to find a shampoo and conditioner that works for my hair. I know plenty of people who obsess over their skin-care routine and spend years tweaking it to find the perfect combination of products. I use a certain laundry detergent because others cause me to break out. Same with soaps.

        Frankly, when your needs are outside the norm, it is up to you to figure out what you need to do to deal with the rest of the world, not the other way around. And being so sensitive to scents that you cannot handle the smell of someone’s soap or laundry detergent is outside the norm. I get that it’s something you can’t just “get over” and I’m not saying that. But in this case if she knows that this is an issue with her assistants or anyone she works close to this needs to be made clear during the hiring process. Or she needs to have an office that is far enough away from everyone else that this is a non-issue. Or she needs to work from home or have a virtual assistant vs an actual one.

        Something that is not requiring someone to change their personal products that they use on their own time.

        Besides, what does Sarah do out in the rest of the world. If you ride public transportation to work you can’t go up to every person on the bus regularly and ask them to change their personal care products. What about her doctor or dentist? Hair stylist? Woman she has to stand in line for a long time behind at the grocery store? Other departments in the office she has to sit with during meeting, etc?

        Like I said, I get that it is an issue. I don’t have scent triggered migraines, but if I do get a migraine I become hyper-sensitive to smells and a strong scent can make the difference between just being miserable, and being in the restroom vomiting. I’m not saying Sarah should just get over it. But there has to be a medium ground between Sarah suffering every day and Cassie having to change all her products.

        FWIW I feel the same way about making schools peanut free due to peanut allergies.

      4. afiendishthingy

        “Because let’s face it, asking someone to change their shampoo, deodorant, and detergent is VERY intrusive.”

        It really is – I’m surprised how many people here don’t see it that way! I’m trying to put myself in the shoes of someone who is that sensitive to the scent of other people’s shampoos, etc… There were a few women at my call center job years ago who would go out for a cigarette break and then douse themselves in perfume and I’d be trapped in the chair next to them, and that did make me feel a bit sick. But the way Sarah’s going about this just makes me think she has major control issues, and I don’t think most people would respond well to her demands.

    10. Jamie

      What does sensitive nose mean? She has a hyper sensitive sense of smell and the normal scents annoy her, or she gets physically sick from them. Huge difference.

      If she gets physically sick from being in the proximity of someone using scented personal care/laundry stuff only then they should be addressing this in the hiring process, because that’s a critical issue. Sarah should do what she needs to do in order to limit exposure and that includes discussing and coming to an agreement before hiring someone.

      I get that this sensitivity is a real thing – mine is super limited but Estee Lauder perfume and hot tar give me an instance migraine. Since neither of those things come up often I’m lucky – but if I had the same reaction to someone using Tide you bet I’d be screening for that with a workplace accommodation.

      Tbh I think someone asking another to change very personal products is a big deal and if necessary one needs to ask nicely and explain why it’s medically necessary and not a whim.

      I am trying to think of how accommodating I’d be and I can say – I’d give up perfume and scented lotions easily. Detergent and fabric softener? Is the company paying for the more expensive unscented versions? Because I’m not going to be required to wash my laundry separately from my family’s and freak out if I accidentally put on a shirt washed in the wrong load. So they’d have to pay for enough to replace laundry stuff for the whole family. Shampoo and deodorant? I don’t know if there is a decent scent free deodorant – I’d try – but hair products no way. It’s so hard to find hair products that work just right and I’m not going to go sub-par on that.

      And how far does it extend? I love those Downy expression beads for my linen – would I have to forgo that for my sheets? Does that smell linger?

      Tbh I think if one is so sensitive that they are rendered physically sick from basic detergent, shampoo on another person they aren’t close to all day long then they need to figure out how to manage/accommodate that. Because you can’t screen out the people on the elevator, or everyone in the hall…not all accommodations are reasonable to impose on others.

      1. Samantha

        Completely agree. It’s a lot to ask and Cassie should have been made aware of the issue during the interview process so she could decide if she was willing to make these changes before accepting the job.

      2. anonymous daisy

        The Downy scent does linger. I have bad reactions to scents and it is tough to have clothes washed in laundry detergent that has scent added. They even have commercials that say that the scent lingers on the clothes – I forgot the brand but one advertises as smelling clean a week after you wash it. JMO, I am washing my clothes so they don’t smell so this concept of washing your clothes in order to ensure they DO smell is bizarre.

        JMO – everyone has different triggers. Sarah has made this known to the office before Cassie came on board so she is not picking on Cassie personally – it is just about the scent issue. It is a health issue for me since scents trigger my migraines, and I am reading into the situation that it is the same for Sarah. Cassie is being an ass about this. It isn’t that hard to get unscented forms of your favorite products. And as someone mentioned upthread, deodorants are the worst. Feminine products for that time of the month are also culprits.

          1. anonymous daisy

            No – just pointing out that that random things can smell and set of scent triggers. Sarah probably knows which brands to avoid though for her own self.

        1. Jamie

          I fail to see how she’s being an ass – and even if the office knew it wasn’t made clear to Cassie upon hire or she wouldn’t be surprised.

          For people who want things unscented it would be bizarre to have scents a week later, but that’s what I use because I like the light floral smell for my bedding so I pay extra for that to linger (and that is a lot spendier than normal fabric softener.)

          IMO if someone is so scent sensitive that another person’s feminine hygiene products can trigger them then that’s something the person with the issue needs to deal with in their own accommodations. It’s reasonable to ask – even require – someone to avoid strong scents like perfume, some lotions and it can be reasonable to ask for people to use unscented laundry stuff (if the company is willing to pay for the additional cost*) but feminine products and making sure people aren’t using scented fabric softener on their bedding? That’s asking people to make lifestyle changes that are incredibly intrusive.

          *I doubt most of the off-brand laundry detergent/fabric softener all have scent free versions and it’s not okay to add one cent to someone’s personal budget, much less the several dollars a week (more?) to go name brand scent free. And I can tell you absolutely there is no scent free versions of my hair products and that’s not something people can easily swap out without consequences.

      3. Not So NewReader

        Jamie, I so agree with you.

        The deodorant I use is unscented, it took me years to find it and I will not be switching. Likewise with my bodywash/shampoo, it’s organic but not fragrance-free. My detergent is fragrance-free and I would not change that, either. Even though I do all this stuff, I would not be able to work for this lady.
        I think that this boss is way too invasive in regard to Cassie’s life and personal choices. If a boss told me I had to shower at night to accommodate her, that would be over the line for me.

        After reading along here for a while, I have starting wondering if any of these conversations/events would happen if either one of the parties involved was a man. I am thinking no, probably not. What’s up with that?

    11. Sunshine

      I honestly feel for Cassie, I had a really mean boss who asked me not to wear the lotion I wore, I obliged. There were a bunch of things that made her terrible and mean (not the request to stop wearing lotion) but in my case and this case, I think it is interesting that most of the time it is people are telling their subordinates to change their ways if a scent is overbearing. I think and assistant-director relationship is different but I never found that someone would speak up to their superior if their superior was wearing an offensive scent.

    12. Sutemi

      Has Sarah considered getting an air filter if she is that sensitive? I am pretty sensitive to scents and 3rd hand tobacco and find that an air filter makes my environment much more tolerable when there are scents around. In the past I brought one that I purchased myself into a shared office. I explained that it was because I wanted to eat at my desk without leaving lingering odors but actually it was because an office mate’s coat had tobacco residue from her smoke breaks which was enough to give me a migraine. The air filter solved my problems and no one else had to change their habits.

  46. Lisa

    I am up for a new job! It originally had a salary range of 80 – 105k and I had told the recruiter that I was only looking at roles at the top of their range. Weeks go by and no word until last night. I had assumed they decided I was too expensive even if they did like me. But no, they actually said they were being super picky and the hiring manager specifically asked for me to be reached out to first! And they upped the salary range to 97 – 111k!

    Since I never gave a number, but only said top of range – I might get a number closer to the new top! So excited, but I don’t want to drool over money and take it only based on money, buts its soo tempting to finally be paid what men in my industry are paid for with less experience than me. I can’t help but feel like this will help me in the long run to fix my salary history, which has held me back for so many years with low-ball offers at only 2k more than my current salary. I am so sick of being told a range of 90k – 110k, and then only offered 75k based on my current salary history. I know its no ones business what my salary is, but I’ve had recruiters cancel interviews if I don’t tell and I can’t lie. If I take this job, I won’t have to lie anymore and will finally take me seriously when it comes to paying market value.

    1. Steve G

      You go! Also, I appreciate your including #s. It is interesting to get details to put the comments people put up here into context, it reminds me of the open thread about “how much money do you make and what is your job” that was about 2 years ago. It was very interesting to see the range of salaries/job titles/and education/city combinations, they were all over the place…..

  47. Olive Hornby

    I was recently promoted (yay!) and was involved in hiring and training my replacement. I’m still working for the same manager, and it’s become clear that she is getting frustrated with the new hire, who is enthusiastic but young (and perhaps somewhat immature) and is having trouble with organization and prioritizing tasks, among other things. Meanwhile, others colleagues have told me that they find this new person loud and irritating, and I heard a manager in a different department say offhandedly that the new person must not be very busy with the amount of socializing that goes on. I’ve mostly been very encouraging of this person, and I worry I’ve inadvertently given the impression that this unprofessional behavior is acceptable. I feel compelled to say something, especially about the chattiness/socializing (since that’s not something our manager would necessarily witness.) But I don’t want to take him to coffee and unfurl a laundry list of his faults, either. Has anyone else been in a similar situation? Is there a delicate way to handle this that won’t make the new hire feel ambushed or hurt our working relationship?

    1. Not So NewReader

      I have not done this, but I might consider having a general “how’s it going?” conversation which covered a number of things, mostly to see if I could answer any more questions for him. If I could touch on that subject lightly in the course of conversation I would, but no laundry lists. And if his socializing did not come up in conversation, I would not push it. But I think you might get away with one last check-in conversation covering many things and he would not think twice about that.

  48. ThatClerk

    So I’m on the fence about announcing my pregnancy at work. My supervisor HATES having to deal with people going on leave, and I know that she will not take it well. Especially because my leave period will extend over all of the winter holidays and will interfere with others’ vacation time. The last time I took a maternity leave, she convinced me to shorten it up to six weeks with a six week transition period afterward. I want to take 12 solid weeks this time with no exceptions. How do I stand my ground? Help me use my words!

    1. ZSD

      Ugh. What a crappy attitude for your boss to have.
      Anyway, does your organization have money to hire a temp while you’re away (if that’s appropriate for your job)? If so, maybe you could suggest that they hire the temp to start 2-3 weeks before your maternity leave starts so that you can train them. That way, they’ll be ready to really take on your responsibilities while you’re out for the full 12 weeks.

      1. ThatClerk

        That is absolutely not an option in my organization. However, my duties could easily be divvied up between several other people who already know how to do them. It’s just the guilt trip that I’m not looking forward to.

    2. TotesMaGoats

      “I found in retrospect that taking a shortened maternity leave was not conducive to my family needs. So I will be taking the full 12 weeks this time. Here is my plan to achieve a smooth transition both before I leave and when I return.”

    3. MaryMary

      Do you have the option to talk to HR first, and then your boss? Get your leave all arranged with HR, and then tell your manager. Hopefully HR will have your back, and you can tell your boss “Sorry, but my leave plans are already finalized with HR.”

      Good luck!

      1. College Career Counselor

        HR is likely to tell the boss, so you need to be aware of that possibility. HR works for the organization, not the employee.

        1. MaryMary

          Employers interferring with medical leave is in violation of FMLA. A good HR person would want to ensure the organization stays legally compliant.

    4. E

      Congratulations! I recommend focusing the conversation not on the longer leave time but instead on the amount of preparation you can provide for a smooth transition when you’re out.

  49. Carrie in Scotland

    I have a job interview! Not bad for only 2 applications sent out (so far).

    It’s a little annoying though at it’s at 11 am and I’ll have to stay overnight since the other option isn’t very good (catching the early bus at 6 am, changing into interview wear etc).

    And I’m really freaked out by the thought of moving* – I’m pretty sure it’s to do with various personal things but I was down exploring in my ‘city to be’ and just…panicked. It Was Not Fun. Sigh.
    * I have to simultaneously job hunt and house hunt (sell/buy) – sometimes I hate adulting.

    1. GOG11

      Congratulations on the interview! I haven’t moved much, but when I have, it’s not been fun and it’s (luckily) never been in conjunction with a job transition. That’s a lot of change to undertake and I imagine it feels pretty overwhelming. Best of luck to you. I hope you’re able to find a good fit for you.

    2. Adam

      Congrats on the interview!

      And I feel you on the moving issue. I have to move in a week and am still not entirely sure where I’m moving TO. Moving (and renting) is such a stress game…

  50. De Minimis

    Gave notice this morning. I’m giving them 5 weeks. I didn’t tell them but I’m okay with extending it a bit depending on job interest in my new location.

    Will spend those weeks training someone [yet to be determined] on my key duties–no way a full-time replacement can be brought on board during that time. It went pretty well, they were disappointed but they know I really need to be with my wife.

    Very anxious about my job search…there are several prospects out there and one would seem like a close fit [healthcare facility, job very similar to my current one.] It’s so expensive there though that something really has to work out almost immediately.

    Now I have to get to work getting things organized so the person filling in will have an easier time. They won’t have to take over all of my duties, just a few of them so that will help, but the ones they take over are probably the most difficult and time-consuming.

    1. Malissa

      Good for you! I suggest leaving guides with screenshots on those processes. Leave a word document open and jot down “need to knows” and “Nice to knows.”
      I wish you much luck in your search!

      1. De Minimis

        Thanks! I feel guilty for not doing it sooner, but in reality we really had to wait until the house sale was more or less a done deal, and the earliest I could have told them was last week, which would have been terrible timing—a lot of reports and things were going on that week.

        The good thing is that a lot of the tasks are going to be handled by people who have dealt with them in the past, there are only a couple that I will need to train someone to do, but the problem is those are probably the most difficult and complicated tasks!

  51. GOG11

    A reminder was recently sent out that yearly evaluations are due several weeks from now. In the past, I have written my own evaluation (though I’m not even supposed to see it until my boss’ boss gives the ok, per company policy). Is this a normal thing (having the employee write their own eval)?

    The whole process feels like it’s just a box being checked off on someone’s list and I would really like to have a more substantive conversation about what I can do to improve my work. I’ve also kept a list of improvements I’ve made that I’d really like to talk about because those outcomes are a result of my improving various processes that my predecessors used (ex, I’ve caught about a dozen budget errors that, altogether, saved us $600 using a new tracking system I developed).

    How do I say “hey, can we do my review for real this year?” without sounding rude or awkward? I mean, what’s the point of having a multi-level review process if I’m the only one who gives me any feedback?

    1. Retail Lifer

      My company has associates do a self-evaluation…but I also do an evaluation of them and then their ratings and comments are added to my evaluation. Is this normal at your company or do you just have an absentee boss?

      Can you at least give yourself a good raise?

    2. it happens

      No one knows better what you’ve done in the past year than you do. That’s why writing your own evaluation makes sense. But that’s supposed to be the starting point for a conversation with your boss. Since you know the deadline, why not write the review you believe makes sense (including the great things you’ve done and the things you’d like to stretch/improve over the next year) and make an appointment with your boss to discuss it? With sufficient time for said boss to review your take and give feedback. You should have an agenda for the meeting – what do you really need to know from the boss? Asking specific questions is more likely to get specific answers – ‘My tracking system found $600 in errors, what other areas would you like to see improved this year?’ etc.
      You are right – it shouldn’t be awkward and you shouldn’t be the only person giving yourself feedback, but sometimes you just have the horse’s nose right into the water…

  52. Tiffy the Fed... Contractor

    How do people feel about taking your shoes off at work? I hate wearing shoes in general so when I am sitting at my desk, I usually just slip them off if they are easy to slip off (e.g. flats). If I’m wearing boots, I obviously leave those on all day (the torture). I don’t share an office, my feet don’t smell, but sometimes if someone needs to grab me for a meeting, it takes me a second to slip my shoes back on.

    What has gotten me thinking about this is Alison’s post from yesterday. No one has said anything, but that doesn’t mean it is coming off as unprofessional or just plain weird. I’m not a good judge of this obviously, mainly because I hate shoes so much I think it’s clouding my judgement.

    1. Sandy

      Just don’t be like one woman in my old office who would walk the halls with no shoes.

      She was notorious!

    2. GOG11

      I wouldn’t think it’s a big deal, especially since you have a private office and it causes very little change in what would normally occur anyways. If you had to lace up knee high boots each time and it started to interfere with your ability to react to things in an appropriate amount of time, then I’d say keep them on. But if it has no effect other than adding a couple of seconds to your standing up and heading out the door, I think that’s okay. You probably would need to wrap up whatever else you’re doing at times (like save and/or close a document, wrap up the call you’re on, etc.) and I would lump this in with that stuff as most people wouldn’t expect or need you to go from being summoned to out the door with absolutely no transition whatsoever in between.

    3. TotesMaGoats

      I love shoes. Owning them and wearing them but I rarely have them on in my office. Everyone knows that I have a tendency to go barefoot and no one really cares.

    4. Sunflower

      I would 100% keep the shoes off. I would maybe take the boots off too! I share an office and I have a tendency to take them off too. I lift my feet a bit when someone comes in to talk to me so they can’t see my bare feet from under my desk. Just put them back on when you are walking around

    5. MaryMary

      A couple women in my office even keep slippers at their desk. i don’t find it a big deal, but some people are weird about feet.

    6. some1

      I don’t think it’s weird to slip shoes off at your desk. I always thought walking around in socks or barefoot was a little weird at work, but I wouldn’t say anything.

    7. LadyLep

      I do the same. If the shoes are easy to remove, and put back on, they’re off the moment I’m at my desk. It takes so little time to slip them back on since I leave them in a position that makes it easy. I’m not sure anyone has really noticed.

      I do have to agree with Sandy, just don’t walk around without them! Two women I work with do this all the time. And it’s not just in our suite, which is unprofessional enough, sometimes they walk down the hall to the copier! I often wonder what would happen if they ran into the owner while doing this.

    8. Anony-moose

      I think it is entirely dependent on the culture of your office. I’ve had jobs where it would have been very taboo, and jobs where it was totally normal.

      Where I am now, I’ll kick off my shoes if I’m at my desk (and sometimes even in my bosses office if we are meeting). But if a Board member is in the building, etc, I try to keep my shoes on (and my blazer/sweater on as well.

    9. Yoshi

      Nope, I do this too. And so does my boss, who even keeps extra fuzzy socks at her desk for slipping on when her feet get cold. Ditto on putting your shoes on before leaving your desk though— that just gets weird quickly.

    10. AvonLady Barksdale

      I used to work in one of those shared spaces, where they rented out offices either long-term or by day, so you had a bunch of unconnected businesses in one space. One young woman started and drew attention because of some of the most inappropriate work outfits (backless dresses, super short shorts) and her bare feet in the bathroom. And then her socks in the bathroom.

      Here’s my feeling: if you’re sitting down or in your own office, take the shoes off. But common areas like bathrooms and kitchens? Please keep your shoes on. I can’t even explain why it bothers me– probably the idea of someone’s actual feet picking up bathroom detritus, and I go totally barefoot at home so I don’t really have a problem with feet in general.

      1. afiendishthingy

        I’m totally with you! I really don’t care if you’re barefoot at the copier, and I will occasionally walk a couple feet from desk barefoot, but would be totally weirded out by bare feet in the bathroom or kitchen!

    11. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

      My only issue is liability. I don’t like people walking in the corridors shoeless because their feet are unprotected. It’s just easier to get hurt.

  53. Tagg

    How do you deal with depression and anxiety when it starts to impact your work?

    I have been working with my doctor and a therapist for the last two years, trying to get a handle on things, so I’m actively trying to manage my mental health. I recently was approved for intermittent FMLA for late mornings and appointments.

    However, it does impact my work at times. I am a front desk receptionist for several specialty doctors that rotate through my office. I am the only customer service specialist at my office, handling check in and check out for all patients, as well as day-to-day needs of the office and doctors/nurses that come through. I struggle with the time between patients – I get bored very quickly of the busywork I should be doing. I recently got in trouble for the amount of time I was spending on the internet. I’m doing my best to curb this, but it adds to my anxiety when I don’t have something I can do.

    How can I stay focused on what I should be doing (busywork) and away from distractions when my depression and anxiety are screaming at me to do something else?

    1. Adam

      Are you allowed to listen to music/podcasts at all? When I was having severe anxiety problems (to the point where dragging myself out of bed took a supreme act of will) having something not related to me going on in my ear was good for keeping me from avoiding tasks.

      Also, do you like your job? If not would it be possible for you to find something more fulfilling? This could help a lot towards keeping your mind on work when the time is right.

      Good luck!

      1. Carrie in Scotland

        I’m struggling too – and have been on & off since I started my current job (as well as a few other reasons). My job is definitely a factor – it just isn’t busy enough.

        1. Adam

          Absolutely. If you’re going to spend 40+ hours a week doing something it helps immensely if it feels worthwhile.

      2. Tagg

        I am allowed to listen to music, just not in headphones. I actually control the music in my office (a little boombox behind my desk that can play CDs or I can hook my iPhone up to). I wish I could have headphones on, I would love to be able to just zone out, but I’m the face of the office unfortunately, so that’s not something that’s feasible.

        I know I have a good, fairly easy job with very good health benefits that pays decently. Does that mean I like it? I don’t know. I don’t /love/ it. It’s simply a way to pay the bills and get access to the healthcare I need.

    2. cuppa

      Look into mindfulness training. I use the Headspace app and it is really helpful. Treat yourself well and cut yourself (just a little) slack.
      Can you find things to do that help you look busy but aren’t Internet-related? Making a grocery list or the like? I would aim to do at least one (or two, or whatever) of your busywork items per day, and then allow yourself some time with other things. Use a list and cross them off if you need to get a sense of accomplishment.

    3. OriginalEmma

      What do you mean by busywork? Are you talking about activities essential to the running of the office but can, when done too often, become tedious? (e.g., tearing individual lab requisitions off the perforated ream so they’re handy, etc.)?

      1. Tagg

        The busywork is not directly related to my role in the office. It benefits the healthcare organization overall, and is just tying up loose ends on referrals that have been given to patients. It’s a workqueue that has been created specifically for me, made so that it can be something that I can do between patients. But I can’t concentrate on it for more than 5 minutes at a time (it’s literally just clicking the chart, finding a date and entering it on the referral – but there are /thousands/ that have yet to be done, no exaggeration)

        1. moss

          It’s hard to commit to a task like that. Can you give yourself some rewards if you get through a certain number? Like, ten cents per subject, so you rack up some dollars during the day and you can use those dollars to buy yourself something nice and small.

  54. Sandy

    I was really surprised to read some of the discussion related to the teleworking question a few weeks ago. A lot of it seemed to be along the lines of “the office would be doing you a favour to ‘let’ you work from home, if they say no, that’s your problem” or “it’s reserved for good performers,if you aren’t up to snuff the answer will be no/we can pull you back”.

    I’m curious if this is a common view?

    I’ve known a bunch of teleworkers in different offices, my former boss and my husband being amongst them. I seem to remember the list of benefits to the organization/company being quite long- at least as much as to the employee. More win-win than anything else so far…

    A few examples:
    1) A longer work day for the team with less overtime. If someone is in a different time zone, they can be working when the rest of the tea is home for the day or asleep.

    2) lower conference costs and meeting costs. In my boss’ case, she was based in the UK, and while our office couldn’t always afford to send someone to an international conference from North America, we saved a bundle by sending her.

    3) lower turnover and associated costs with hiring processes. Not only did the teams not lose people with years of expertise and have to find a replacement, but most teleworkers I know have been loathe to leave their organizations even when better-paying local opportunities come up because appreciate the teleworking arrangement.

    4) business continuity. Along with not losing expertise, if events like snowstorms/power outages/extraterrestrial attack hit one office, the teleworkers can keep working.

    1. MaryMary

      It’s very dependent on the company culture and even individual office culture, as well as the kind of work being done. OldJob was very pro-telecommuting. Even when I started (early ’00s) and telecommuting was not as popular or as possible as it is today, I had team members in other offices. Working with a “virutal team” was happening long before people starting working from home. Except for new hires, at least 80% of my team was remote at least one day a week.

      My current job is much more traditional. There’s a big emphasis on face time in the office. Upper management really doubts that anyone can work productively from home,even though we have a couple people who have successfully negotiated work from home arrangments. It’s very frustrating.

    2. The IT Manager

      5) No need to provide office space, desk, etc. (They still provide laptop and a VPN/network to dial into).

      But in general I agree that telework should be limitted to maybe not good performers but those you can trust to continue to do good work while sitting at home. If someone is the kind of person who might wander off for a nap or to watch tv instead of working they probably should not be given what is still a privledge and perk.

      Also as a member of virtual teams where no one is co-located, the cost savings of telework should be at least somewhat offset by increased travel costs to get the team members together regularly. <– My agency doesn't do this well and it hurt performance.

      1. Sandy

        See, this is the part I don’t really “get”. Why is telework so widely considered to be a privilege and a perk? Doesn’t that (at least in some way) imply that coming into the office is the opposite?

        1. The IT Manager

          It’s a perk because so many more people want it than can have it. Also many people who don’t telework imagine that it’s like a weekend at home with a tiny bit of work thrown in.

          There’s an assumption in there that humans are lazy and a good number of them would goof off if they could.

        2. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

          Closely supervising someone to make sure they are “really” working when at home, OR answering to PTB that yes, your employee is “really” working is a pain in the ass. So, in my world, it comes to trust. I’m only going to okay it for people I trust and I don’t have to specially supervise or check on.

          It’s amazing how much easier my life is when I give responsibility to people I trust and things just get done.

          So yup, somebody has to be to a point where they have shown their work ethic and level of focus means I don’t have to trust a thing.

          True story: one of our first regular “work from home one day a week” employees came to light not only was she not working that day, but she told all of her work friends she didn’t work that day either. She literally was having them cover for her. I have no idea why they went along with it for so long — I’m talking over a year — but it all came out in a big firey mess one day and she ended up being terminated.

          That nearly ended telecommuting for anyone ever. PTB was against work from home to begin with and it reinforced their worst fears. I’d stuck my neck out to put the wheels in motion anyway

          I believe in telecommuting for a bunch of reasons so I didn’t give up but I’ll damn well never be humiliated like that again.

          People I trust.

          1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

            * where they have shown their work ethic and level of focus means I don’t have to check a thing. (should read)

        3. catsAreCool

          I telecommute, and I consider it something of a perk. It’s really easy to get to work (just walk into the work room), I can listen to whatever music I want (as long as I’m not on the phone). I have kitties who like to nap where I’m working. I’m not distracted by a lot of co-worker conversations. There are some things that are more difficult, butin general, it’s great.

  55. maria

    Hi everyone. I am a project manager in a industry where long project timelines, uncertain funding, and big project teams with lots of opinions are the norm. As a type-A person, I am both excellent at my job and constantly stressed by the lack of control I have over the completion of the project. I’ve been told by my boss that I look to be “taking my work too seriously” and need to “have more fun” with the job. I guess I am projecting frustration or burnout. Advice on how to be more positive or deal with seeming lack of progress? Maybe I need different metrics of day to day success– advice?

    1. Amber Rose

      Boy do I get that feeling. My previous job, the shortest possible time line for a project was 4 months (we never managed this, usually took 6 to 8), and the longest had been running 10 years with no sign of ending. I think it was estimated to be a 30 year process!

      But you’re probably focusing too much on The End. Most huge projects have multiple little ends: the end of documentation, the end of phase 1, the end of a major decision. We were talking the other day about the value of announcing “done!” to yourself when you finish a task. Really try this. Split your projects into mini projects. Document them and relish in crossing them off your list. It feels good.

    2. Cath in Canada

      I like to say that you have to a be a bit of a control freak to be good at my job, but that if you’re a bit of a control freak, the job will drive you nuts. (I’m a combo project manager / grant writer). Focus in on the things that you can control, and knock them out of the park; try to learn to accept the rest. Good luck!

  56. Have courage and be kind - Austin, TX

    So, I was reading the previous thread about perception caused by arriving and leaving work early, and wondering:

    If you are a knowledge worker and your performance (or your colleagues’) isn’t affected by the hours you work, do you often hear people complain about you leaving early, or start rumors about you being less productive than your colleagues?

    I’m curious because I’m usually the first person to leave the office (having arrived early) and only once I remember hearing a question, “heading home early again?”, to which I replied that yes, I had arrived early, finished a complex project, was too tired to be of any use for the rest of the day, and I didn’t see the point of staying around just for “face time”. The person got the point, and never asked again.

    For the people who feel they’re not as valued because of the hours they choose to work, I’m wondering is whether the problem is with lack of visibility of your accomplishments. I have a habit of not only sending brief updates to my manager weekly (either because he asks, or because I feel it’s important to keep him appraised of the core things I’ve accomplished that week), and also sharing with colleagues what I’m up to. This has worked to me to avoid the misperception that I’m not dedicated while maintaining flexible hours. I keep getting promotions and company awards, and refuse to stay late just to give the appearance that I’m a hard worker, so I was thinking that perhaps it’s a matter of learning some subtle ways to share the results you’re getting without sounding like you’re bragging.

    1. Colleen

      My company actually sent out a notice to all employees about not worrying about people’s hours. They mentioned that you don’t know what else that person is doing — arriving very early, working from home with people in other time zones (we are a global company) — so only managers should worry about their employees’ hours. It stopped a lot of second-guessing and weird looks.

      1. Have courage and be kind - Austin, TX

        Wow, that’s impressive, Colleen! Finally an example of management that is focusing on the right things instead of stupid comparisons of employees’ hours, and communicating these priorities. Hopefully the idea will start to spread.

    2. afiendishthingy

      Face time is very unimportant in my office; most people work from home at least sometimes and we frequently have client visits outside the office, so it’s understood we all come and go. I’m not a morning person so it’s not unusual for me to be the last one out in the evening, and I think that gets me more weird looks than coming in late or leaving early would!

      1. Have courage and be kind - Austin, TX

        Looks like your company is smart too, afiendishthingy. I like the fact that in my last 2 jobs people also give weird looks to anyone staying past 5!

    3. Clever Name

      I work part time, and I had a coworker who would make a “must be nice” type of comment when I would leave to pick up my son. Really annoying, but I realized it was more about her than me; she was unhappy at her job and she has since left to go to school. Maybe your coworker is feeling similarly unhappy in her job.

  57. Amber Rose

    I dug a hole for myself and could use some help getting back out.

    When I started this job I was handed a broken product and a file and asked to call and find out who we should invoice for it. I did, and was directed to speak with Sam. Sam wasn’t available so they told me he’d call me back.

    He didn’t. The file is still on my desk… three months later. I have lots of excuses for why but those aren’t important.

    I now don’t know how to call the client about this. I don’t even have Sam’s number. Even my supervisor has forgotten about this thing. I can’t, because the invoice is sitting on our 90+ days unpaid list and it’s my job to harass people for money (I hate this part of my job but it is what it is). Also the busted product, a heavy metal thing, is taking up my bin.

    I am so afraid it’s too late to deal with and I’ve cost the company money.

    1. LillianMcGee

      I think you’re gonna have to suck it up and call the client again. Better late than never if it’s something that definitely has to be addressed. Here’s what I might say, “Y’know, I called about this a couple months ago and since then it made its way to the bottom of my inbox, but I was never able to find a resolution. Here’s where we left it […] Can you help me resolve this today?”

    2. The IT Manager

      Call them again now. Yes, it’s ackward, but it will be more ackward in another 3 months. Also it will be worse if this drags on so long your boss does ask about it and you can only tell your boss you haven’t done anything about it in the last 3 months.

    3. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

      Almost everybody has done this at least a couple of times in their lives. I’ve done it way more than once.

      Tell whomever you need to that you’re really sorry this got way from you but it did, apologize for the inconvenience.

      What I think I hear is that the client returned broken merchandise and you were supposed to initiate a return with your supplier? Were you supposed to get your client a new one?

      If you can’t figure out what your next step is, go to your boss. You’re really sorry but you need some help to figure out what to do next to get this all taken care of.

      What you don’t want: the moment the client is pissed off because they are getting dunning notices or they don’t have their teapot replacement.

      Hit it Monday morning. We all (except super human completion freaks – you people know who I mean) get in a pickle now and again and need some help to get out. Just try to keep the pickles to one every couple years or so.

      1. Amber Rose

        Well, my understanding is we issued them a teapot. They broke the spout and needed a new one, which we sent, but now there’s this issue of who should be paying for breaking it in the first place.

        Or something. Invoicing gets messy around here.

        1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

          Ah, this is better than I thought.

          So, they’ve been invoiced for two teapots and there’s an old invoice, they haven’t paid, for the broken teapot which you possess.

          I don’t think this is that big a deal. You were very new when this all happened.

          You got to your boss and, apologize for the inconvenience, but say I have a broken teapot and an old invoice. I’m sorry that this never got wrapped up but I’d like to wrap it up now. Should I be asking the customer to pay for this?

          We might do one of a couple things for the customer – good customer, we might cancel the original invoice, or, we might discount off the original invoice since they bought another one at full price.

          I think you had a good reason for not doing this yet, even though you certainly should have brought it to your boss’s attention earlier, it’s a bit advanced level to know how the company will want to resolve this with the customer.

  58. KJR

    Does your company make a distinction between vacation and personal/sick time? Is it specified which is to be used for different circumstances?

    1. KTGab

      Mine does not. We have unlimited PTO, but even when we didn’t, it was just one bank to pull from.

      1. RidingNerdy

        Unlimited as in no restrictions on how you can use it or unlimited as in no limit to the number of days/hours you can use?

    2. Ash (the other one)

      Ours are separate — sick is for illness or doctor appointments; vacation is for vacation or personal days. It’s your discretion though; no one ever asks for “proof” to use sick days. The biggest difference for us is you can carry over more sick time than vacation time each year and I earn more vacation days than sick days each pay period.

      1. De Minimis

        Yes, ours are separate. Technically there are restrictions on sick leave, but in practice I think people would have to really blatantly abuse it to get in trouble. I see a lot of people though end up not having sick leave when they really need it, and that’s probably the biggest risk in using it when you don’t have to.

      2. naanie

        Same for my workplace, except we earn sick and vacation time at the same rate. I wish we had it all in one pot, since I almost never get sick.

    3. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)

      My new employer has an interesting policy: We get combined PTO (for sick or vacation leave), but we also have an “illness leave bank,” for use in longer-term medical leaves. We accrue 7 days of illness leave a year. It can only be used after 5 days of PTO has been used for illness.

      1. Windchime

        This is similar to how it works in my office, except you can start dipping into your “Illness Leave Bank” after 3 consecutive days of illness, or if you’re on FMLA.

    4. Amber Rose

      Yes. Sick/personal time is for sick days and doctor appointments, we get 6 days a year. Vacation is 2 weeks a year and you specify when asking for a day off which you’re using.

      It’s not set in stone though. If I’ve popped out for an hour for an appointment, it’s not even recorded. And more than 6 days/2 weeks may be granted if I ask nicely and have good reason.

    5. Persephone Mulberry

      My company does not. We get 15 days PTO to start (more days at 5 years, I think?), but we can allocate it as needed down to the minute, and we only get deducted for actual PTO needed to get up to 40 hours for the week – if I request to use two hours of PTO but then make up an hour by skipping a couple lunches, I’ll only be deducted the one hour. It’s a pretty good system.

    6. Sara

      We have sick time (which can be used for the employee or to care for the employee’s dependents) and personal days (any time you need time off for non-health related reasons). Officially, there’s no “vacation” time, since I work at a school, so school vacation = your vacation time.

    7. KJR

      Thanks all. Ours is divided up vacation in one bucket, and sick/personal time in another. It’s been working fine so far, with personal sick time to be used for things like medical appointments, illness (your own or a family member), house issues (burst pipe, waiting for repair people, etc.). We had a guy put in for a personal day for his birthday, which we think probably should go under vacation time. So we are going back and forth as to whether we want to start pressing people for more information as to why they are taking a personal day, but that feels kind of wrong to me. Besides, they could just lie at that point. So, I’m kind of toying with the idea of one PTO bucket so people can use the time as they see fit.

      1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

        We have a one bucket system which I like. There’s never a worry about whether someone is entitled to a day (are they really sick) or how it should be classified.

        The one bucket system gets mostly negative or cautionary feedback in AAM comments, however. Number one reason is that it is felt to encourage people coming to work sick so they don’t have to use days they could use for vacation.

        We don’t have that problem and I don’t know why because that problem occurring does seem a logical outcome.

    8. Lindsay J

      We don’t have paid personal/sick time.

      We have paid vacation that must be requested and approved at least two weeks in advance. We also have vacation buy time which is where you pay a small fee to have extra vacation days (and you can buy up to what you have already – so if you have 40 hours of vacation days you can buy 40 additional vacation hours for a total of 80) which functions the same way as vacation time.

      We also have floating holidays. Whether or not it’s allowed depends on your boss, but a lot of people use them as sick time – if you’re sick you call and say you’re using a floating holiday.

      If you’re not allowed to or are out of floating holidays, you take sick time unpaid. Or you switch shifts with a coworker.

      I think the idea is that they want to discourage unplanned days off because not having proper staffing has a real impact on operations.

      1. Treena Kravm

        Can you give a little more detail on the vacation buy time? What is the fee? Do most people use it?

  59. MatLeaveShmatLeave

    My company, which is a 300 person start up (used very lightly), had a killer maternity leave policy when I started. 12 weeks, full pay (very rare in the US, for you international folk). Then, when I was 2 weeks from giving birth, they dropped the policy and started with a short term disability policy. I barely squeeked by and was grandfathered in. Now, with great fanfare, they’ve announced a 2 week, full pay “parental leave” for both men and women, adopting or birth of a child. Has anyone else in the US had a company go backwards to this degree? I know the original policy was really generous, but this just feels like such a step in the wrong direction (although it is nice we’re giving men a leave option too. Ugh. Frusterating!

    1. Anon for this

      My last organization (also a startup – when I was hired it was 20 people, by the time I left it was around 120) ended up with a weird situation where they gave a nice leave for adopting a child but relied on short term disability for childbirth. The pregnant ladies of 2014 organized and brought the organization around to creating a convoluted but relatively generous program cobbled together with extra PTO, disability time, and etc.

      So, no – not really answering your question. Just saying that maternity leave is messed up in the US and startups don’t know what they’re doing about it.

    2. Retail Lifer

      I’ve never worked at a place which has offered ANY kind of paid parental leave, which is why I’m glad I’m not having kids. I couldn’t afford it.

  60. Ash (the other one)

    So I am pregnant and starting my second trimester, hurrah! I am out at work and luckily my workplace is uber supportive. My problem… work clothes. I am petite (height wise) and am struggling a bit to find clothing. I’m at the point where I’m not quite big enough for maternity but too big for my usual clothes. I stand in my closet lost for several minutes each mornign trying to figure out what to wear and it’s only getting worse.

    My office is business casual (and casual Fridays, which are thankfully easier). I occasionally have to meet with clients or present in which case I need to be more dressed up.

    Any advice?

      1. Ash (the other one)

        Hmm… maybe I should add I am a size 6 pre-pregnancy. I don’t think plus size would really be a solution for me…

        1. KAZ2Y5

          You might try just a bigger size-maybe a 10 or something? My sister-in-law did that when she was in the in-between size (maybe 4-6 months along?). She usually wore an 8-10 and for a while wore some of her mom’s clothes (size 14-16).

    1. J.B.

      Dresses maybe with a jacket overtop. Larger than your usual size should help postpartum. Also you can get some loose pants at J. Jill or someplace that caters to more mature women. Good for the same purpose. Congratulations!

    2. cuppa

      I’m thinking stretchy or loose things? Skirts and wrap dresses are going to have more give than pants. Maybe basics (tanks and t-shirts) in a larger or maternity size with a regular unbuttoned cardigan or blazer over the top?

    3. Sparrow

      You may want to check out Corporette Moms. The posts vary, but there are several about clothing reccomendations. Also, the bloggers at Outfit Posts and Putting Me Together blogged while they were pregnant, so you might find some ideas there. Wardrobe Oxygen might have some info too.

      I’m short too and Old Navy and Gap have petite lengths for pants and I think both of them have maternity sections, but it may be more online. I have been maternity clothes in Target stores. Good luck and congrats!

      1. Spondee

        These were the exact sources I was going to suggest! Putting Me Together decided that she didn’t like maternity clothes and wore “regular” clothes through most of her pregnancy, so she’s an especially good source. I wore dresses (both maternity and regular) through this stage of my pregnancy. I had a knit crossover dress from Land’s End that fit me well into my third trimester. I’d also say that a maternity top or cami under a regular jacket/cardigan will not look odd.

        For pants, I found that the low panel pants at Old Navy fit me from about 10 weeks through most of my pregnancy, but the full panel pants didn’t fit until just before I gave birth, and nothing at Target ever fit right! I’d recommend trying a few different styles at different stores because they’re not all the same.

    4. Steph

      Congratulations on your pregnancy! My daughter just turned a year old, so I was very recently in your shoes! I personally think I waited too long to get into maternity clothes… I resisted it, had a major meltdown halfway through month 5 because nothing clean fit when I was trying to get dressed for work in the morning, took the day off to shop and create a “capsule” type wardrobe that saw me through the rest of pregnancy. I also worked in a similar environment- business casual, casual Fridays, needed to suit up for donor meetings. Considering that you are going to only get a bigger belly in the future, I would invest your money in maternity clothes. This is what I did:

      -Gap was great for work pants (I bought three pairs). I personally hated their jeans, and the dress I bought there did not hold up well at all. I also got two great maternity camis that were this weird supportive thick fabric… loved them because they helped smooth over the line of the maternity pants and reign in my new huge boobs.
      -Old Navy was great for tops, sweaters, and casual dresses- I tried to buy carefully and one of them was good for work if I wore a suit jacket over it.
      -I bought nothing from Motherhood Maternity- too expensive for bad quality.
      -I bought one pair of great, figure flattering maternity jeans (Joe’s Jeans brand) at A Pea In the Pod off the sale rack. This was hands down the BEST thing I spent my money on. I wore them to work on casual Friday, on the weekends, and for a month or so after I had the baby when I needed to look like a functional human in public.
      -Bought a few cute weekend/casual Friday tops/tunics at Pink Blush Maternity (online only). I got a lot of use out of these after I had the baby- they looked cute with leggings and were decent to nurse in.
      -Bought t shirts and tank tops in larger sizes (not maternity) at Target.
      -Bought a pair of skinny jeans, a work top, and two work dresses at H&M Maternity (online).
      -I had to buy new flat shoes around month 7, which is something I didn’t initally budget for- after awhile, I just couldn’t safely wear heels anymore, plus my feet grew about a size. I got these at Target and DSW. I also had to buy new bras, which I did at Target.
      -I was able to wear my pre-pregnancy blazers the whole time unbuttoned (though towards the end they were getting really squeezy and I would only keep them on when I was in a meeting), as well as all of my pre-pregnancy cardigans.
      -I bought a beautiful Seraphine Maternity dress on eBay for practically nothing (like, $15 bucks). Wore it to our work holiday party, a wedding, and my baby shower!

      Overall, I spent about $500, which sounds like a lot, but what I listed above was my only clothing purchases from month 5.5 until I went back to a little more than 4 months after my daughter was born, and almost all of it was great for after I had the baby as well- so spread out over almost 9 months not so bad! Good luck!!

    5. E

      Look at consignment stores near you. I’ve seen a lot of nice maternity clothes, since women wear maternity work clothes for just a few months often. Best part is that trying on different brands may give you an idea of what stores to look at for more options.

      1. rp

        Target had GREAT maternity pants. They have some that are pretty dressy and that don’t have the full belly band, but have a thick thing of elastic around the top. so they would work earlier in the pregnancy. I’ve actually never been pregnant, but I bought those pants when I had two broken arms and couldn’t button pants/do up a zipper. It was amazing to be able to wear something that looked like real clothes, and not just pjs.

  61. Malissa

    I’ve been auditing sales files for about three months now. My job is to make sure files are complete and that it does in fact look like a real sale. I hate 50% of the sales staff now. Well not really hate, but boy do their brains work different from mine. It’s been a lot of hand holding and stumbling. This morning I finally made a break through with my worst offender. He would put orders in and have no acknowledgement from the customer. Went out to talk with him.
    “hey Percival, the big boss is going to start deleting your orders if you don’t turn in the paperwork the same day.”
    Percival replies, “But most of these guys are emailing me and not coming in so I can’t get signatures.”
    Me: “Emails? That’s enough acknowledgement. Print those out and put them in the file.”

    1. Rebecca

      I’m sorry you’re having issues. This made me smile, though, as I work with sales people too. They’re definitely different, and that’s why they sell and I do the logistics work for them behind the scenes. I feel like I’m herding cats 90% of the time.

    2. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

      Ha ha ha ha.

      Sorry.

      I want to plunge my eyes out with a pen in each hand when I have to work with the other division of our company which is the outside sales staff. (not *my* people). Good GOD.

      I may love sales but you can keep 50% of the world’s sales staff, thankyouvermuch, when it comes to process or just freaking common sense.

      True story:

      I thought our outside sales people were bad until our company bought another company. The main principal of that company pretty much wrote his sales up on napkins. I am barely exaggerating. And delivered goods. Without ever like booking the order or billing the clients.

      Our accounting dept had to sort months of sales that were stuffed in shoeboxes

      Unreal, but, even more unreal, dude didn’t see why it was an issue and gave them crap for giving him crap.

  62. Holly

    It’s a very bad situation at my company right now. We’ve had five different employees (out of, like, 25) put in their notice or outright quit just this week. I want out too – it’s a very toxic environment and we’re clearly on the path to closing. I have my resume out to three different recruiting agencies, am working through an interview process with one company, got to the final round with another before being picked second, etc. Just… can I get good vibes that things will be okay and I’ll be able to find something and leave before I end up unemployed? It’s very dismaying right now.

    1. Althea

      Good Vibes your way! Keep your head up, try to keep your relationships friendly despite the toxicity, and I’m sure you’ll get something new even sooner than you expect.

    2. OriginalYup

      Good vibes! Fingers crossed that you’ll very soon have a shiny new job at a wonderfully non toxic place.

  63. HannahS

    Beginner question here!
    I’m about to graduate but won’t be available to work until September. I’m seeing a lot of job postings that are just what I’m looking for, but I’m guessing that if they’re being posted now, the employers want someone who can start in May. Is that right? Does that mean I shouldn’t submit an application? Is it reasonable to call/email and ask if they’re expecting to have similar openings in the fall?

      1. HannahS

        Hmm, true, thanks! Should I say somewhere in my cover letter when I’m available to start? I’m worried about wasting some hiring manager’s time and annoying them.

        1. LAI

          If your availability is non-negotiable, I’d include it. People who are trying to hire quickly will appreciate you saving them time by letting them know up front.

    1. The IT Manager

      If it’s entry level, apply but make clear on your resume that you’re not available until September. And again if you get to theFace-to-face interview stage because you don’t want them to miss it and end up wasting time if they know they can’t wait that long.

      If this was January, and you were asking about waiting until June to start I’d definately say apply because that’s on the “normal” college schedule. With your graduation date in May and start date in until Septmber, you are a bit outside the norm. Some places (larger companies where you fill a similar role to others) will be able to accomidate waiting for the right candiate.

      And like the other Ash said, if they’re advertising now these places probably won’t have their new hire starting until at least June and that’s a fast hiring timeline.

  64. ZenCat

    My body language re: being invaded is not being read. Even saying in an indirect way like “whoa back up!” Or “hold on I can’t see”.

    I’m working closely (literally) on s project where I am snaping Tea Pots while someone is in my space, hitting me accidentally regularly, causing me to back up from my computer while they point and nearly poke my eye out.

    The man is not intimidating in ANY way – he’s just a big gesture person with zero personal space boundaries.

    I need a direct way to address this?

    1. LillianMcGee

      It depends on how comfortable you are being direct with him but the most direct line I can think of is: “Excuse me, Frank, but you are way too close to me right now and it’s extremely distracting. Can you please give me a few feet of personal space here?”

    2. ZenCat

      Thank you guys – to add – I would be comfortable… If I hadn’t started two weeks ago… :( don’t want to be that person

      1. Helen of What

        It’s okay to set the boundaries early. he’ll likely be more embarrassed than you are!
        Maybe something like “Excuse me, but I need a little more space to work, Jim.”

      2. AB Normal

        I don’t see any problem in telling the person — “Frank, for a while I’ve been trying to figure out why [ I’m not being as productive as I’d like to / I’m finding it hard to do my job / whatever ] and I’ve just realized that I need more space to be able to function properly here. I apologize; would it be possible for you to move your chair a little farther?”.

        Say it in a way that signals you feel it’s YOUR fault, not theirs, for being unable to function when you two are so close together, and Frank should take it very well. But if you don’t speak up, don’t expect things to change (some people are totally incapable of reading body language, and clearly Frank is one of these people, so don’t blame him when you’re not communicating clearly what you expect).

    3. Not So NewReader

      You are going to have to speak directly. “Okay, you need to stop hitting me. What can we do to make sure the hitting stops?”

      Get him to agree to something. When he fails to follow that agreement, remind him of what he agreed to.

      I am concerned because you are referring to yourself as “that guy”. No one should have to tolerate being hit in the work place. No one. It does not make you “that guy” when you say, “stop hitting me”.

      I am a little ticked off on your behalf. I worked with a big gesture person once and got a fat lip because of his big gestures. It’s not funny. It is something he has to learn to control.

  65. CC

    Could anybody offer advice on how to present something on a resume and/or cover letter?

    So the backstory is that I got downsized a year and a half ago from an engineering job in a field I enjoy. I want to continue doing similar things! In all that time, I count myself lucky if I see one job posting a month in something close to the right field with something close to the right amount of experience required. Most of what I see is either “3-5 years” (recent but not fresh graduate, probably without Professional Engineer status yet) or “12+ years” (senior) where I have 8 years experience (intermediate).

    (To head off the suggestions that inevitably seem to come up when I mention the thing about years of experience in engineering: this is not a computer field. It is not a field where clueless upper management asks for more years of experience with a tool than that tool has existed for. This is a long-established engineering field and there are people with 30+ years of experience so when they say 12+ years that is something they can get and that is far more experience than I have.)

    Anyhow. Now I have a 1.5 year gap on my resume. Obviously, this looks bad. What I’ve been doing in the meantime is volunteering and (once my unemployment cheques ran out) temping.

    I’ve used the advice from AAM to improve my resume and cover letter, I have listed accomplishments instead of job duties for each position, and I’ve reduced my resume to one page. The second page was always a struggle to get more than half full anyway, so I was just as happy to compact things down.

    What I’m trying to figure out right now is how to include the temp work on the resume so it improves my resume instead of taking up space. It’s not related at all to my engineering work; I’m shifting boxes at a warehouse, but it shows what I’ve been doing in my year and a half out of engineering.

    So far the potential content that I’ve come up with that I think could look good is:

    * the site I’m working at called me a superstar repeatedly during the first month (but having seen some of my fellow temps, I think this reflects low expectations on their part more than anything, especially since my job in that first month was very mechanical and required no brainpower beyond doing the thing correctly about 800 times per day) (not an exaggeration)
    * they offered me a full time position after a few months (which I declined because I don’t want to stay there)
    * they asked me if I was interested in warehouse management at the same time as offering me the job (which I am not, I am interested in going back to engineering)
    * despite declining the above and still being a temp, I was put in charge of two other temps on evening shift after all regular staff go home, and handed the keys and alarm code to a warehouse with millions of dollars of stock so I could lock up after we finished the after-hours work (we have a well-defined task and the other two temps don’t take much supervision; they are the ones who were kept after the temps that weren’t as reliable were let go)
    * a thing overheard: “oh, [CC] packed that one, just put my name on it [in the checked by field] and ship it, it’s good” said by the boss of the checkers as they were rushing to get the last few boxes onto the truck at the end of the day
    * a thing said to me: “I know this skid will be sorted properly because you did it” before grabbing a pallet piled high with boxes and disappearing into the racking to put it away (there were five aisles of racking, and boxes on the wrong pallet got in the way)
    * (hmmm, just thought of another thing, but I will have to check with one of the staff to see if a suggestion that I made actually did make a difference. If it did help, it could be a good example of optimization.)

    But… that’s a lot of space to take up for a job that isn’t engineering related.

    Any suggestions for how to present this in my application materials?

    Should I go back to a 2-page resume? They’re sort of standard around here as far as I’ve seen. I’m not sure if having a 1-page resume is making hiring managers assume that I don’t have enough experience to fill up two pages. I haven’t had so much as a phone screen in the past year, and the one I had a year ago was from when I had a 2-page resume.

    1. AnotherAlison

      Sorry you are in this situation. I would go to two pages, if that allows you to be more descriptive about your engineering experience and temp experience, and I wouldn’t worry about whether it’s only half-filled. As far as the temp accomplishments, I would highlight the supervisory duties, and maybe something about high quality work. I would not give this too much real estate, but enough to show what you’ve been doing.

      I’m sure I’m not giving advice you haven’t heard before and these are probably things you’re already doing, but if you have the time/money to take some engineering courses, that might help show your skills are current despite working in an unrelated job right now. Keeping up with engineering society volunteering or high school engineering program volunteering might help, too. I’m also in a traditional engineering discipline, and I worry the job market will be tighter as this oil price game continues, so I do wish you the best of luck in your search.

      1. CC

        hahahaha money.

        One of the sources of stress in my life right now is that engineering requires continuing professional development and I can’t afford $600 for a day course because that’s more than I make in a week of temping. Usually the company you work for pays for that sort of thing, not the person taking the course, which is probably why it’s so expensive.

    2. Steve G

      I agree with Another Alison but am going to go a step further and be a bit more direct…

      this job seems way too low level for you, which is why you are excelling at it. They have low expectations and are favoring you partially because you excel above the other workers, which doesn’t make you a competitive candidate in companies where the employees are at a higher level. The only thing I would mention here is the supervisory/key-holding thing, and some metric about data accuracy (which you didn’t even include here).

      I think you should apply to those 3-5 years experience jobs (even though they might be too level because of the PE or CEM or whatever certificate you have that they don’t require) in addition to the senior level ones. That time frame in job ads is not unique to engineering. Me and a few others were kvetching about that on an open thread last month, we have the same issue. Some, (though not all) of those jobs will pay commensurately for more experience. I am saying this because one of the main departments I worked with at my past job was building/energy engineers, and I sat in on their interviews. My company would put an ad out and then interview people anywhere from 25-60years old, the ad sounded so specific, but it was really hard to match candidates’ specific experience w/ whatever engineering projects would be coming down the line, and there were certain items like environmental permitting that would have been nice to put under engineering (if the person was more seasons) but would have gone to operations if they hired a more junior person.

      1. CC

        Yes, it is definitely low level. That’s why I’m reluctant to actually put some of the comments (such as “superstar”) actually on the resume; I noted that they have low expectations. Saying yay, I cleared the bar of showing up on time isn’t really saying much unless you’re competing for jobs where that’s a key requirement and lots of applicants don’t meet that bar.

        I don’t know how they currently track the metrics because the company is transitioning to a new system and it isn’t in place yet. So, I don’t have any hard numbers there.

        That’s interesting about the wide range of people interviewed for an ad that sounded so specific. I’ll have to look into expanding the range of jobs I can apply for. It’s discouraging when I apply to something where I hit virtually all of the points listed and I don’t even get a phone screen. (Two in the past two months, in fact, it was so unusual to see something that actually asked for 8-10 years *and* sounded like a good match for what I do.)

        When a post says at least 5 years of demonstrated ability in supervising a team though… I was never in a position where I had to supervise anyone; the closest I ever came to that was being on site during construction and checking that what the contractors were building actually matched the drawings. But I wasn’t their supervisor – I would talk to their supervisor if there was a problem.

        1. GigglyPuff

          In my opinion: definitely apply to both kinds of jobs, less experience and more. Expand to two page resume if needed just to show that you have been working & volunteering (don’t forget that!). Definitely don’t use the word “superstar”, but that still is important, definitely find a better way to say it, confidence or some-such thing like that. But (what I think is important) is the quality checking, the fact that you’ve done that in the past, it shows that your previous employers knew you were above competent (sorry my vocab today sucks), and it expanded into supervisory skills in your temp job.

          Also don’t discredit yourself that repetitive work doesn’t show anything meaningful, you were willing to get the job done, that shows dedication, focus and detailed oriented, and you excelled at something that is hard to showcase yourself in. Very few people seem to be able to do repetitive work to the degree that management has such confidence in them, that they’ve stopped checking the work.

          I’d try putting a little more pride into your resume/cover letter in the things you’ve been doing recently, tone is important. Also as a couple other people have asked today, separate out Relevant Work Experience versus Other Experience, instead of just going chronological, it makes for a much easier read.

          Anyway, good luck!

          1. CC

            I have included in my materials that I got a reputation for accuracy at my previous engineering jobs. The funny thing is, I realized while doing some order picking that on a mechanical level, checking an item against a list in order picking and checking a drawing against a list in engineering design use some of the same skills. The major difference being that in order picking, you’re a robot doing nothing but matching, while in engineering you’re also using your knowledge to ensure that the thing you’re matching is also the correct thing and changing it to the correct thing if appropriate. But I have literally spent hours with a set of drawings and a spreadsheet and a hilighter, making sure everything matches and the right equipment gets ordered.

            I was definitely going to separate out relevant vs. other work experience. I’m going to have to go back to a 2-page resume if I want to include volunteering, because my 1-page is full.

  66. KAZ2Y5

    How do I make my age not so obvious when my job application screams over 50? I work in the medical field and am licensed and because of this I have to tell prospective employers quite a few things that give people a good approximation of my age. Even my degree, since it is not offered anymore and younger people in my profession have a different type of degree.
    The majority of the places I have applied to request both a resume and a job application. I have not worried about taking stuff like that off my resume before (since they will see it on the job application) but am now wondering if I should? Of course I also don’t have a job (laid off) and am in a different area (moved back home) so I know those don’t help either.
    I am revamping my resume with the help of this website and wonder if it would be better to take some of the age identifying stuff off my resume, even if they will see it on my job application? Thanks for any ideas!

    1. nodumbunny

      I don’t have a great answer for you, just wanted to commiserate as another 50+ who has been in the job market. I would leave off anything age-revealing that’s not completely necessary to showing your qualifications. Also, can you point to continuing ed. that has helped you stay current in your licensure and up on the latest in your field?

      1. KAZ2Y5

        I have to get CE every year for my license, so the fact that I have a current license is proof of that. Although I did get a new certification (and tons of CE for that) and could probably emphasize that a little more. I’m leaning toward stripping everything off my resume that would imply my age and hope they look at that before they look at my application.
        It’s hard to strike a balance between lots of experience and too old!

  67. Kimberlee, Esq.

    Hey all! Question: what goods or services around job hunting or career development do you *wish* were out there, but aren’t? Or perhaps someone is doing it, but they’re doing it badly or in a totally scammy way? What is the biggest hole in this market that isn’t being filled in a helpful way to you?

    1. some1

      Well, I guess this isn’t totally unfulfilled. If you aren’t a temp or a contractor, I wish there was a way to “try out” a job if you will, to see what it would really be like to work there day to day when people aren’t on their best behavior.

    2. Nola

      More people like AAM – people with significant hiring and managing experience giving guidance on these topics. I get really sick of career counselors and advisors who hang out their shingle as ‘experts’ when they don’t have the experience to back it up!

    3. TheExchequer

      There needs to be easier ways of getting experience. It is completely ridiculous that all the “entry level” jobs require a minimum of a year of experience.

      Also, what I really need is a way to learn how to network without coming off like the socially awkward and introverted person I am. (I joined Toastmasters which has helped some, but there’s still a lot of areas I know I’m not as strong as I could be).

      1. OriginalEmma

        +1. Networking for me devolves into the work equivalent of “So, how about them Yankees?” I’ve become less awkard and can pass as extroverted to a degree but my question-asking and story telling. needs work.

    4. katamia

      Similar to what some1 said, I wish there were more ways to get a feel for what it’s like to even be in a general field. I know it varies a lot by employer, but just some sort of way to figure out “Oh, I like doing X kinds of work but hate Y kinds of work.” Like I’ve always been interested in education and (although this isn’t really a good thing, tbh) love being the center of attention, so teaching seemed like a pretty natural career for me to try. Except that I never realized how much planning went into it, and I’m absolutely terrible at planning and enforcing rules. I do some tutoring now, and it’s basically all the good parts (for me) of teaching without any of the parts I really hate and am really bad at.

      1. Mimmy

        That’s how I felt about social work. I thought I would be natural at it because I felt like I could emphasize with people given my own history. The empathy did come easy; yet, I didn’t take into consideration everything else – difficult clients, complicated situations, ever-changing service delivery systems, and the fact that many settings require the ability to multi-task and function well at a fast pace. Oh, and did I mention that I can’t drive?? Most social workers are road warriors.

    5. Mimmy

      I wish I had the chance to try out different settings when I was in my MSW program. I don’t know how it works at the Bachelors level, but in my program, I had one internship placement per academic year, so I had two placements total. Again, I don’t know how other programs are, but I wish it was like medical school–from what I understand, you have “rotations”, where you try out all sorts of specialties. I’d love to see social work and other professional schools go with that model. Or perhaps have the first year involve trying out several settings, then have one, maybe two, focused placements in your second year. Maybe these models aren’t practical–I have no idea–but allowing students to try out different settings could really make a difference and, perhaps, lessen career frustration.

      I also wish my school had an in-house career advisor, even if it’s alumni. Yes, there is Career Services, which has a database of alumni willing to provide guidance, but I wish someone from the actual SCHOOL (state university, divided into schools) had sat down with me and, knowing about my limitations, advised me on career options where I’d do well, grow, and be happy.

    6. Lady Bug

      That there was only one online application software that you only had to enter your info into one time and could apply for jobs at different companies. Nothing was more soul destroying when I was job hunting than spending an hour filling out a Taleo app for one job, to do it all over again for the next job!

    7. Not So NewReader

      Around me I am seeing a huge need for basic computer skills. Just to have a retail job you have to know something about computers, I am surprised at the number of people that will not attempt to run a cash register.

      The next biggest thing I see is how to present one’s experience on a resume.

      Picking a career or a field is a big deal. I am 5o plus we did not get much support on that in high school and I am not seeing where it is that much better now.

      After that my best guess would be child care and transportation.

  68. The IT Manager

    So I confessed a few weeks ago to being a slacker and worried that I wasn’t feeling guilty enough. Well, I got a lot accomplished in the last two weeks. Honestly the reason I got so much done – especially the stuff that’s been lingering – is that the external deadline has arrived. In my defense of not being a terrible slacker we still don’t have all the info we need for a complete document, but the external deadline has arrived and so I got them done. And of course I had that feeling that this is not as terrible as I thought it was going to be, and I wish I could remember this next time I procrastinate an intimidating/unfamiliar task. In addition to that I now have resourses doing other work and progress is being made there too.

    Ugg! I do not want to be one of those people who only work in crisis mode, but I feel like the last two years have reprogrammed my brain for that and I can’t get out of it.

    1. Violet Rose

      I’m right there with you in Camp Feel Like A Slacker. My big issues are an abundance of big, unfamiliar projects, and a complete lack of deadlines. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever been set a deadline – I just give my manager weekly updates on where I am. I’m also a huuuuge procrastinator, suffer decision fatigue easily, and find the idea of focusing for long periods of time on a project really daunting, so pretty much the only way I can get work done is breaking my task list into the teeniest, tiniest, bite-sized seeming chunks I can think of, combined with a very loosely applied pomodoro technique.

    2. Not So NewReader

      Someone was pointing this out earlier- the cycles seem to feed the problem. If you have mad rushes and then periods of nothing this will make slacking really easy, just because of the fatigue alone.
      I read somewhere that we should work at the same pace each day. This puts everything else on an even keel, our food intake, our rest periods and so on. And it allows us to be healthier.
      If you have a work place that often has crisis modes it makes it harder to not take down times.

  69. Amanda C

    I’m an adult who is back in school while working. I’ve gathered a few achievements at school — Outstanding Student of the year for my major, won an essay contest, etc. I don’t think it’s appropriate to include them on my resume since my work experience adds far more to my value than these school awards, but my husband disagrees. What says the AAM community? I could see mentioning them in an interview just as an example of my ability to juggle multiple priorities, but the resume seems like it’d be a little odd.

    1. Not Today Satan

      I think think you should put them under the education section since they’re current/recent.

    2. LAI

      I’d say academic achievements should only be on your resume if you just graduated and don’t have enough work experience to fill a page.

    3. fposte

      It depends on how many lines they take up, what else is on your resume, and how much bearing the honors have on the work you’d be doing in the jobs. In general, experience counts tons more than academic awards. I mostly see things like that on the resumes of new grads without much work experience, so their academic achievements are necessary to put together the picture. Mostly those things fall off as people get more experience. Your timing is a little different, but you don’t want to prioritize as if you’re not experienced; it risks making you look more green than you are.

      Now, in your case I might also include such awards if you were using your return to school to springboard a career change–like if you’re working in retail and want to move into communications and these were all awards in communications, say. But I wouldn’t include them if your experience is already testament to the skills the honors are rewarding.

      1. Amanda C

        You said exactly what I was thinking! Thanks for parsing it out for me with a much better explanation.

  70. AnotherAlison

    So, I was the inappropriate coworker for about an hour this morning. Getting dressed at the gym, and realized I forgot a bra. This is not a Big Deal for me, compared to some women, but I still wouldn’t go to work braless. Fortunately, my outfit was mostly concealing, but some things were more visible than I wanted. I was able to wash my sports bra at the gym and dry it on my space heater once I got to work. Just glad I had no 8 am meeting this morning, and I successfully avoided all but 1 coworker. Lol, tgif.

    1. LillianMcGee

      TGIF indeed! Omg, one summer at an internship I was doing I didn’t realize until LUNCHTIME that I forgot to put on a bra! I saw a little more jiggle than usual in my reflection in the window. Luckily I’m not very well endowed so it’s possible no one noticed!

    2. nodumbunny

      I did this not too long ago and had the same solution. My problem was then I had my orange sports bra straps peeking out of my shirt collar. Spiffy!

    3. Cath in Canada

      I’ve done this! Cycling to work and changing when you get there tends to lend itself to more wardrobe malfunctions than normal grown-ups who get dressed at home experience. I wore the sports bra under my white top until 10 am, wrapping myself in a cardigan despite the heat, then ran to a nearby clothing store as soon as it opened and bought their cheapest bra.

    4. Trixie

      This was one of my worst days in school, grade school no less. Woke up late one morning in the fifth grade, threw on some clothes and rushed out the door. It was drizzling enough I had worn a rain slicker of some kind. When I realized what I’d done, I wore it the rest of the day because it was just too obvious. I lived about three quarters of a mile from home so to far to go home again. Sucky, sucky day.

    5. Snoskred

      AnotherAlison – this is why I keep an emergency bag O clothes and a spare pair of shoes in the trunk of my car. If I wasn’t taking my car to work, I would keep an emergency bag O clothes in my office or my locker. And I keep a sports bra and a spare pair of underwear in my handbag.

      Then again, I am someone who carries an emergency bag full of every kind of medication I ever take in my handbag as well, and I routinely have enough headache tablets in my desk to medicate a workforce of 100 if they all came down with a headache at the same moment, plus enough spare dark chocolate that they could each have a piece to go with their paracetamol, and enough teabags that they could all have a cup of tea, too.

      If anyone ever needs anything at work, I am always the first person they ask. :) Even if it is a wacky thing you would not expect someone to have on hand, 99% of the time, I have it.

      Need nail polish to stop a run in your stockings? Ask Snoskred, even though she does not wear nail polish, she’ll have it. Broke a nail? Snoskred has everything you need on a mini manicure set. Cut yourself and the first aid kid is out of bandaids? See Snoskred. Forgot deodorant or perfume? Snoskred has you covered. The power goes out and you need a torch or candles? Snoskred can even supply you with essential oils like peppermint, eucalyptus, lemon or orange, and an oilburner with tealight candles.

      Need some toast or microwave popcorn? Don’t ask Snoskred, she’s banned from making it, for excellent reasons, including two visits from the local firemen and one occasion where she blacked out a call centre for 2 hours, which was not her fault but the fault of some very dodgy and cheap wiring work which was quickly remedied forever as a result. However, she does always have at least one packet of microwave popcorn, which she will give to other people more suitably qualified, as long as she gets a small bowl of popcorn in return.. :)

  71. Dr. Peper Addict

    Any sales people out there? Need advice.

    I’m in ad sales and am putting in the work to call/email etc and am getting hardly any results. The thing I don’t like about sales is you’re measured by your numbers, not how hard you work. Anyway, the other two salesman on my team have been here a lot longer than me and have established accounts that order on a monthly basis and I don’t have anything like that at all. I’m barely making 50% of my goal. They’re very patient with me but I want to do well. Any advice?

    1. Florida

      I’ve never sold ads, but I’ve sold other things. I think in sales, email is a waste of time (as an initial approach). Focus on phone calls. Your purpose on the phone is to get a face-to-face visit.

      1. Shortie

        This is interesting to me. I absolutely loathe sales calls, so will not entertain the thought of meeting with the caller or buying the product/service–even if I want it. Yes, a little bite-off-my-nose-to-spite-my-face there! I have, however, responded to many e-mails if I am interested in the product or service. And I like that I can just delete it if I’m not.

        Phone calls just tick me off in general. It’s not only sales calls. :-)

    2. Florida

      A book that I like is called Question Based Selling by Freese. Also, another book called Spin Selling by Rackham. They are both pretty common sales books, so it’s likely that your library has them.

      1. Dr. Pepper Addict

        Thanks for the advice Florida. A lot of my job is prospecting new business, and a lot of the time a company only has an email address on their site, with no phone number, so I’m stuck with that as my only option of contact. Also, even in my other sales jobs, people would at least email/call me back and say they weren’t interested or to stop calling them. About 95% of the people I call don’t get back to me at all. It’s frustrating.

    3. The RO-Cat

      Late to the party, but maybe you’ll come back here lately. Here you have some resources:
      1. Books: anything Jeffrey Gitomer (he has also a Youtube channel); Stephen Schiffman (for phone sales)
      2. Web: Art Sobczak; Jill Konrath

      There’s a Sales Acceleration Summit on May 7-th, where registration is free (I’m not affiliated with them, I do not endorse them, I just know of them).

      As in (almost) any sales field, the “secret” is building relationships that last. I know you have a quota to meet (and boy, is it frustrating when you don’t!), but I always start any sales conversation / email message thinking “What would make them go ‘I’d like to find out more’ from what I tell them?”

    4. the gold digger

      This is undoubtedly not you, but the guy who emailed me and said, “I have already emailed you to set up an appointment at my boss’ request and WHY AREN’T YOU ANSWERING ME?” (not his exact words but that was the sense) got sent to junk email immediately. Not to mention I have nothing to do with purchasing or translation services.

      I feel for you – I started looking for a new job two weeks after I had started a new job because my boss told me he wanted me to cold call. It’s super hard. The only thing I can recommend is that you develop a good target list and somehow make your email engaging enough that people will want to respond.

  72. Anon UK

    I just had a colleague openly sing the praises for someone I am constantly covering for, working so much harder than and have a far more complex role than, and to hear that was really disheartening and hurt. I like the girl, we get on really well but it really hurt to hear all this praise for her all because she was changing some light bulbs (she’s a facilities assistant) while I am a PA and am always much busier than her, have much harder tasks of looking after a large group of consultants and don’t have ‘obvious’ tasks like she does. She’s also our receptionist and I am forever covering her while she is away from her desk doing facilities stuff, all the while having my work interrupted.
    I just had to turn my music up loud to drown it out and as wanted to just scream. Any help appreciated

    1. Althea

      On this, I’d keep quiet, find a friend (not at work) for venting, and let yourself cool down.

      The gracious thing is not to resent someone for praise. After all, she did do the task she was being praised for, although I would question why anyone would spend their time praising someone for changing a light bulb. It’s just a coincidence that you heard it.

      You KNOW that you do a better job, so you also know it’s likely you get praised more than she does, just not necessarily in earshot. If you genuinely think people are not recognizing your work, you could have some conversations with your boss highlighting your accomplishments. You could also cultivate a half joking way of highlighting yourself to coworkers, e.g. “You know I always get it done for you, Tyrion!” I’ve known some admins with this way of speaking, and they are frequently right :)

      I tend to feel that in a decent work place, people always know who the slackers are and who gets things done. If you’re doing a good job, people will know it!

    2. Steve G

      This person was being praised because whatever they did was a big deal for THEM, not YOU. They may see you as more capable and not feel the need to praise you for the same level of work.

      If the Director of Biz Development used his connection to bring in a $100K sale, people would think, great, but that is what Directors of Biz D do. If an entry level sales rep did the same thing, he’d be a hero and they’d be singing his praise all over the place………….

  73. The Strand

    Does anyone here do temp work, or has anyone temped recently to pay the bills? Temp work helped me afford college.

    With two of the teens in my family about to graduate into this awful job market, I’m wondering if the advice I can give them about what temping is like, and what skills are good to have to get hired, have changed much since the ’90s.

    Back then, typing speed was a good thing to have, but basically, they wanted folks who understood how to use Microsoft Word and Excel, who were intelligent and knew when to keep their mouths shut at the right time. It was easy to get work; you would go in, fill out an application, take some tests, and do this at several companies. Then you would call in each morning to see if an opening was available; you’d usually get a one day or two day job before you were sent out on something longer. This is how it worked in North America, in three states and one Canadian province.

      1. cuppa

        +1 I tried to go back during the recession but it didn’t work out. Don’t know if the scene is the same or not.

      1. The Strand

        Wow. Only factory jobs? Do they advertise themselves as “light industrial” specifically?

    1. CC

      Yeah, I’m temping right now, but not office work: warehouse work. (If you’re able to shift boxes weighing up to 50lbs and be sensible about avoiding forklifts, the code word for that type of work is “light industrial”.) It is easy to get started though. Application form, resume if you have one, interview to find out what your skills are and what you’re looking for. The agency I’m with says in their intro package to call in or email in once a week to get your name on the list for that week, and when they have called me it’s often for a thing starting the next day or the next Monday, but other agencies may ask for daily check ins and have “today” offers.

      One thing to remember though is that temping is the one place where calling regularly to say “got a job for me?” is not only appropriate but required. From the agent’s point of view, that’s how they know you’re available to work! Find out what is an appropriate “regularly” for a given agency and stick to that. It should be in the introductory package.

      1. The Strand

        That’s great to hear actually… I had to hear it as advice, very few places had ‘packages’ of more than a page outlining expectations. Usually you got a time sheet to fill out and a promotional pamphlet, and the business card of the person who you spoke with. If we were lucky, and they were very organized, there was a HR video on sexual harassment that we watched in the broom closet!

        1. CC

          Oh, the intro package was only a few pages. Expectations, how to do the timesheets, who to call for various things, a reminder that I am an employee of the agency, not of the client where I’m doing the work. And the note about calling or emailing once a week with availability for the next week so the agents could match people with jobs.

    2. nona

      I have. So, most people my age and younger have a good typing speed and know how to use Word. Excel’s less likely. But the places hiring temps here generally don’t ask for these skills: They’re stores and restaurants that need an extra person during a busy week or holiday.

    3. OriginalEmma

      Are you in the U.S. now? Unless your kids will work 50 hours a week for at least $10/hour, I doubt they’ll be able to 100% pay for an American college the way you did. So don’t expect it. However, they can certainly pay for books, fees, spending money, commuting expenses, etc., which may help defray costs.

    4. bassclefchick

      I’m “temping” now – but I’ve been at this assignment for over a year! It really depends on the agency. But the days of the service just telling you “you’re going here today and next week you’re over there” are done. You still have to interview for the temp position! The service gets you in the door, but you aren’t guaranteed a placement. And it’s really important to keep in contact with the agency. My city has several agencies and they all send you out on interviews for the positions they have open. But most of them have office and warehouse positions. It just depends on the agency. I would go with the agencies that are “name brand”…they’ll have more positions available.
      It’s possible to make a living as a temp (I’ve been doing it for 4 years), but it’s not easy! Good luck!

    5. Helen of What

      I’m a temp! It pays my bills while I look for FT work. Your experience is still pretty accurate. Though, I don’t call each morning, but send an email weekly with availability. Currently I’m on a weeks long job until an org finds a FT receptionist.

      I did this when I first graduated college as well. I looked at LinkedIn and noted which staffing agencies near me were posting the best jobs and applied for one. I was called and asked about my career goals and told the job was filled. (I expected this.) I went in for an in-person interview and filled out forms. Soon after I was filling in at a finance company and feeling intimidated, but was praised for picking up things quickly! I found a job soon afterward.

      When I was let go in Feb. I signed up with a couple of places, was interviewed and had my resume sent to lots of jobs. I took online tests on Office, aced them. Only 1/3 agencies was able to quickly get me working. I’ve been doing reception/office management so far. I haven’t had to interview for these since they were last-minute.

      1. Helen of What

        Also, a friend got his current designer job when his temp design gig turned permanent. I’ve been interviewing for temp-to-perm jobs (seems to be the way of the world these days) but no luck yet. I’m in NYC if that’s relevant job market-wise.

    6. I'm a Little Teapot

      I’ve been temping for years. Your description sounds pretty accurate, except that most agencies I’ve encountered want you to call weekly, not daily, to check in.

      However, paying for college through temping is highly unlikely. The temp agencies I’ve encountered don’t hire full-time college students, and the pay won’t be great unless you have some unusual and in-demand skill set.

      In my experience, you also absolutely need a car unless you are in a metro area with really good public transit.

      Once you’ve had one successful placement with an agency, you’re more likely to get more with the same agency now that your foot is in the door.

      I’ve also found that temp agencies vary immensely in quality and in interest in actually finding people appropriate placements. I walked into one years ago where the receptionist took one look at me, without even looking at my resume or hearing a word I said, and checked a box on a sheet of paper on her desk labeled “Front Office,” based purely on my appearance. (The others were “Back Office,” “Light Industrial,” and something else I don’t remember.) Not that I’d have objected to a front office job, but I very strongly suspected she’d checked that box because I was a young, slim white woman and that their criteria for categorizing temps were….dubious.

  74. Ali

    Interview did not go well. The recruiter told me her client wanted someone with full time experience in social media. I have only part time experience in social media. That was a deal breaker for the company she was recruiting for.

    This is at least the third time in my job interviewing process because I didn’t have the right experience. (And yet there must be something in my resume that IS getting me callbacks.) With being out of full time work, I really am not able to pick up free work or intern. Should I just give up on the communications biz and try something else? Or keep plugging?

    1. Steve G

      What city are you in? In NYC there are ads for social/digital media ads all over the place. I interviewed at 3 of the top agencies and felt old and out of touch at all of them at the tender age of 34 (and know, I am definitely not one of those people who says “oh I feel so old” and makes really old people roll their eyes, I mean that everyone at these agencies was so young!), and I definitely felt that most of the people I met were inexperienced in general, though I can’t gauge their social media skills. In fact, I got the feeling during 2 of the interviews that they preferred people with less experience.

      So I am definitely in favor of you keep plugging away at it.

      Experience is experience, and you have some.

    2. Althea

      I don’t see how your number of hours per week has a bearing on your ability to do the job. That’s dumb. The company is dumb. Consider it a bullet dodged and keep looking!

    3. The Strand

      I’m with Althea. Very short-sighted, but then consider it a bullet dodged. Some bozos feel that they can have the perfect applicant so they want to hold out for it to excruciating standards. Not a good sign (for their company, not you).

      Keep plugging. I might have missed this, but are you already on several social media sites? Could you spend some time sprucing up your image? You could consider doing a few gigs on Fiverr also, to get more experience under your belt.

      1. Ali

        I don’t mean to be rude, but I have thought of these things already. I need to survive on more than what those gigs pay, and I have already been told there is nothing offensive about my social media presence. I Google myself and never find any red flags. I do delete questionable Twitter and Facebook posts if I think I shouldn’t have said something.

        I have been out of school almost seven years, and the fact that I need to keep picking up poorly paying or non-paying gigs is concerning to me.

        1. Snoskred

          My best ever call centre manager trained the word “but” out of us. It was her opinion that putting but in a sentence negates everything you said before the word but, plus saying things like “I understand, but” or “I’m sorry, but” gets you into a lot more trouble on the phone than simply saying those things as a complete sentence.

          I hope you do not take offense to this. :) You just reminded me of a memory. :)

    4. Ask a Manager Post author

      Does it have to be either/or? Can you keep pursuing communications and simultaneously apply for other types of jobs too, just to give yourself more options?

  75. cuppa

    Do you have a special e-mail sign off? I don’t mean your work signature with your title, company, etc. But a certain way that you usually end your e-mails? I’m a “Thanks, Cuppa” person. How did you come up with the way you sign off?

    1. Althea

      Mine is just

      –Althea

      because I am not a fan of email salutations and such, but putting my name feels friendlier than just a signature with first/last name and title. Plus, sometimes it lets people know what to call me if they are uncertain for any reason.

    2. Mockingjay

      V/r,

      Acronym for Very Respectfully. This is standard in my strange world of defense contracting, in which we communicate only by acronym.

      1. OriginalEmma

        I worked with both military and Commissioned Corps folks. They use V/r and /r regularly.

    3. Chorizo

      Mine is “Thanks! -Chorizo” because 90% of my emails are to request information from others.

    4. katamia

      When I first start emailing someone, I’ll start off with “Sincerely, Katamia Lastname.” As I get to know someone better, I’ll typically move to either “Thanks, Katamia” or just “-Katamia” depending on our specific relationship and how they sign off. I prefer just “-Katamia” but use “Thanks” when I want to be a little more polite.

    5. TheExchequer

      I use “Kind regards” in my work e-mail, but prefer “Sincerely” in personal professional correspondence or just my name when it’s friends.

    6. MaryMary

      I use Best Regards or Best. I send too many client emails with unfortunate news in them to feel like ending with Thanks! is appropriate. It comes off a little “kthxbye”

    7. Kai

      I use “Thanks, Kai” or “Thanks! -Kai” just because it’s common at my work. If I’m doing something a little more formal I’ll use Sincerely.

  76. S. Ninja

    So I finally got a job interview after being out of work for entirely too long….and I think I’ve screwed it up. :(

    1. Dr. Pepper Addict

      Don’t over analyze it, just be confident and study up on FAQ’s and answers that Alison gives here on the site!

    2. Nanc

      What Althea said–good to have a practice interview. Now you’ve got the screw up out of your system–in future you shall go forth and give fabulous interview!

    3. Not So NewReader

      Alison always says send out that resume or do that interview and then move on as if nothing happened and you are still looking for a job. This is some of the best advice I have ever read.

      Congrats on getting an interview. If you focus on getting your next interview you, it will tug on your heart strings a little less while you wait for a response from this interview.

  77. Buffay the Vampire Layer

    Any advice for how to be more of a yes-man?

    It’s not so much an issue in my current job, but the job before this I really struggled because the environment turned out to be one where obsequiousness was rewarded. I mean really gross, obvious brown-nosing was how you got ahead. And then of course once a Smithers gets ahead that way, he expects to be fawned over as well.

    The thing is, I really liked the work I did, and it was the only place in that city I could have done it (county government). I know I blew it last time, because I didn’t adjust at all to the environment. I find it really revolting to be honest, but if I end up in an office culture like that I need to be able to be a sycophant, at least for a little while. Suggestions?

    1. Althea

      I’d suggest getting in this habit, “Yes, (that’s great) and I think we could look at your idea this way….” and proceed to re-frame whatever was just said into your own ideas. This is hard to do, and it’s pretty delicate dance. You have to sit in meetings and think, “is anyone saying something a bit close to what I want to do?” When they do, you jump in and say it’s a great idea, that you love it, AND you could add on in this way. When you talk about your idea, the best thing is to move the other idea a half step in the direction YOU want it to go.

      Person: We need to promote our new line of Fair Trade Dark Chocolate Teapots. I think we should invest $10,000 in newspaper ads.
      You: That’s a great idea! I can see a theme to the promotion – something like “an indulgence you feel good about” to emphasize the fair trade AND the good taste.

      Notice in the above discussion, you’ve 1) made the person feel good by agreeing with them; 2) ignored the part about newspaper ads (hopefully no one will agree with it and it will die without the suggester even noticing); and 3) steered the conversation into territory you care about, which is the messaging of the ads instead of the allocation of resources.

      It takes a lot of thought. If you can find anyone around you who does this well, it’s a great art to observe and learn! If not, just try it yourself sometimes – think about where you want a conversation to go, and try to find an opening that will get you there.

    2. Not So NewReader

      When I first started working I felt like I was being contrary way too much and it wasn’t helping me.
      I made myself ask, “Is what I am about to say a negative or a positive?” If it was a negative I would ask myself what I hoped to gain by saying it. I tried to make sure that I had a very good reason for saying something negative. It would go like this: “I don’t think we should leave the door open at night because I have seen a lot of bats flying around.” Or, “I am concerned that there is water on the floor next to the water softener, I think maintenance should check it.”
      What I found is when I was new at a job, people seemed to have a higher awareness of every. single. darn. thing I said. So I just made sure when I did say something negative I threw in something that showed I was thinking of the company and my coworkers.

      I think you will go a while before you see another situation as bad as what you describe here. However, it never hurts to watch how many times a day we say something negative. I framed it as, “I am here to help not to add to the problems. How can I help this situation that seems to need improving?” If I could not come up with something, I kept my mouth shut.

  78. electric sheep

    I am so grateful for all that I have. This includes my current job, where I’m doing impactful, fun, challenging work as part of a team with whom I really click, especially my great, supportive manager. Seriously, I’ve counted my blessings every day since I landed this gig after a 6 month unemployment gap following a nightmare job.

    I still get a trickle of recruiters calling and I usually just thank them and say I’m not currently looking without a second thought. But the latest one is recruiting for a company whose brand I like, in an industry I’ve long wanted to venture into. The office is literally walkable from my door, and it’s a job I think (based on the job description and my experience) that I could do very well, which tempts me all the more because it’d be my first opportunity to have the word manager in my title. But my current job is just so awesome that it’d take the moon, sun, and planets aligning to really sell me on walking out on my current little slice of heaven.

    Is it wrong to want to interview just to see what the environment there is like?

    1. Dawn

      GO GO GO!!! Who knows, it might end up being the most amazing thing ever, or you might be able to see behind the curtain and realize that it’s nowhere near as awesome as you always thought. Totally worth it to casually interview!

    2. Not So NewReader

      Go! It’s an application or an interview, it’s not a commitment. You can back out at any point.

      Have an idea of what you would consider. It does not matter if it is outlandish like doubling your pay. Have some idea of what it would take to make you want to move. This is not much different than shopping for something. You have an idea of what you might like before going into the store.

      I went shopping for storm doors yesterday. I have had these storm doors for 20 years. They work okay but not great and they are worn. I am on a budget so I have to be wowed by anything I buy. It made no difference to me if I bought doors or not. The first place I went to the salesman had no display door and would not open a box to show me. He had no brochures and only showed me something on his computer when I asked directly. The second place the salesman had some set up and he loaded me up with flyers and catalogs to take home. I bought one door immediately and ordered two more.
      See the difference? The first place I was not convinced that what they were selling was that great and the person I dealt with was not impressive. The second place I was impressed with what they were selling and I was impressed with the person I was talking to.
      Go see what there is to see. If something jumps out at you then consider it. If nothing jumps out at you, then let it go.

  79. MaryMary

    How do you work with a manager who hates people management? Technically, I report to our firm’s Chief Consulting Officer. He hates doing any type of people management, from performance reviews to approving PTO. In fact, he just avoids doing it. I’ve started sending my PTO requests and expense reports to a peer who has people management responsibilities, because my boss would ignore requests for months. He’s had my performance review for two months, but hasn’t scheduled the meeting. I follow up, but it gets really awkward. He’s great if I ask for help with specific client questions, he just seems to have a block with the formal management stuff. This isn’t just me, he does this for all his direct reports. I recently found out one of his younger (and less assertive) direct reports went for two years without a performance review, and therefore a raise. We don’t have an HR department, and he reports to the CEO, who is even less interested in management responsibilities like this.

    1. ThursdaysGeek

      This doesn’t help you, but one of the things I love about my current company is that if reviews aren’t finished by a certain date each year, the manager that is supposed to do them is not eligible for a raise. The person who didn’t get the review may still get one, but not the manager.

      1. MaryMary

        One of the reasons I’m having a hard time with this is that OldJob was much more like your job. Not to the point of denying a manager a raise if they don’t complete reviews, but it definitely would have been considered a performance issue if a manager never completed reviews or approved PTO and expenses.

        1. ThursdaysGeek

          Yeah, because they’re not doing an essential part of their job!

          Unfortunately, that doesn’t help you in any way now. :(

  80. It's tired, and I'm late

    I posted last week about potentially applying for a job that’s based in a different location despite not being able to move, based on some inside info on remote working from people who work for the company. I ended up deciding not to apply, or even to inquire about the location issue, because a fantastic freelance opportunity fell into my lap and I’ve decided to pursue that instead.

    The opportunity would be a side-project on top of my full-time job, and isn’t tied down yet – I’ve agreed in principle to take the project on, but haven’t seen a contract yet. It’s not for a huge amount of money, but it’s the kind of thing that will create a whole new network for me and has the potential to be a major stepping stone into getting bigger contracts in the future. I’ve done a similar kind of project on the side of a full-time job before, so I know I can do it without it affecting my day job. (Last time, I started the side project at the same time as starting a new full-time job, which was a big challenge that I don’t care to repeat, hence not pursuing the new job opportunity. But doing something similar alongside a job I already know well won’t be a problem).

    I’m very excited and hoping that I can get everything confirmed soon so I can start work!

    1. It's tired, and I'm late

      Oh, and tonight I get to play therapist to the person who replaced me in my last job and who is having a rough time. She texted me once a few months ago asking if I’d ever encountered a particular problem or if it was just her; I replied that it wasn’t just her, and let’s just say that the floodgates opened. I get flurries of texts from her every few weeks now, when she’s having a bad day. It can be a very difficult group of people to work with. (They’re all basically nice people who are very good at what they do, but that doesn’t necessarily make them good colleagues or managers). We’re meeting after work to see if I can come up with any helpful advice. I’m somewhat less excited about this development than I am about the freelance contract.

  81. Steve G

    Job hunt blues….

    I want to commiserate and get support from others going through the BS that is a FT job search.

    I was so scatter-brained this week that I sat and stared (at my fish tank at least) for 1/2 an hour because I couldn’t think straight. Thankfully, I went to a yoga class where the teacher is all into the law of attraction and she guided us through a meditation on visualizing what you want, and for the first time in weeks, I actually saw myself getting another good job, going to work, being greeted by my new coworkers, etc. It was good to be forced to have positive thoughts like that.

    But as per the job search, and some of these are not the world’s fault, but:
    1) I found a typo in my resume (misspelled calculate) on the version of my resume I’ve been sending out for the past month, and got 5 interviews off of. I wonder if one of the reasons I didn’t end up getting any of those jobs was the error.
    2) I was sick the day of a big interview and went there with a ruddy face and stomach pain and I couldn’t help but wonder if they believed I was actually sick, or thought I had a hangover! (couldn’t be rescheduled because the person flew here for it)
    3) More than once I’ve thought “OMG this job ad is ME” and then realized that I’d already applied to the job in Feb or March, then logged into jobvite or whatever, only to see my application labelled “New,” i.e., they never even read it.
    4) I had a laughably bad interview 2 weeks ago, not because of me, but because the interviewer’s English was very limited and they didn’t talk, and the recruiter didn’t tell them I was coming in person beforehand, so they were caught off guard because they had just wanted to do a quick phone screen. The interviewer accused me of not knowing SQL at all even though I kept saying and giving examples of SQL queries I can do, but not programming. Apparently that means I don’t know SQL at all, even though 98% of jobs asking for SQL only want you to do be able to do queries, so no, I definitely wasn’t lying when I said I knew SQL
    5) A similar company to my last employer actively undermining my experience in the interview, then telling me they want to push me to the next level with a base salary $18K less than what I made last year (I said $15K last week, that was against my base), and they wouldn’t provide any details on the quarterly bonus plan I’d supposedly earn a considerable amount on.

    And lastly, interviewing for my dream job 10 days ago, and not hearing anything back except that the feedback on me was all positive. I want that job!!!!! I rarely get excited about jobs anymore but that ones was perfect for me!!!!

    1. Pizza Lover

      Stay positive! I’m currently working now but my job is a hot mess and I feel like I’ve been job hunting for ages as well, so I totally sympathize.

    2. Not So NewReader

      Please be kind to yourself- give yourself little rewards here and there. Job hunting only has one reward that is finally landing a job. Until you get that job it can be a long and hard road. Realize this and look for uplifting things in other areas.

    1. CC

      Hm… if the company name isn’t listed but a recruiting agency’s name is, no problem. If it’s on craigslist and there’s no company name, be wary.

      The other job posting things they list as red flags, I think how suspicious you are of them depends on your background. I’ve never been in a position to look for a job “perfect for stay-at-home parents” so the only point of reference I have for stuff like that is the scams that advertise themselves as making thousands of dollars a week without leaving home!!!! often on posters stapled to telephone poles. Likewise “must have a sense of humour”. It’s common for women or minorities to be accused of not having a sense of humour if they object to inappropriate and/or bigoted comments, and I suspect that may be where LifeHacker is coming from on that one. (Though really, I don’t go to work to have fun, I go to work (ideally) to do something useful and meaningful and get paid. Failing the first two, at least to get paid.)

      The thing about “passion” is just silly though. Who uses the word that way anymore? Unless they’re going biblical and using the phrase “the passion of the christ” or equivalent, that is.

      1. Sara

        Listing something like “passionate commitment to the mission of Employer” is actually fairly common in my field. (I consider myself passionate about what I do, but I still think it’s a silly thing to include.)

        1. CC

          Yeah, I have no problem with asking for people who have a strong interest in the field or subject matter and calling it passion. I’m pretty passionate about my corner of the engineering field.

          The silliness was in Lifehacker going into the etymology of the word and claiming it is being used in its old sense, of pain.

    2. Bea W

      I would call the job description ones “red flags” so much. There are certainly euphemisms employee in the writing of job descriptions, but depending on what kind of job you are looking for, these aren’t necessarily red flags that should send a person running.

    3. Snork Maiden

      I think this Lifehacker post is tilted towards their audience a bit more, maybe? In a tech/developer/creative environment I can see the job description flags being a warning. For example, in my field (design/dev) “passionate” means “We want you to work overtime, all the time, because you love it!” with the added undertone of “Since you love it so much you won’t haggle about pay.”

    4. afiendishthingy

      I’ve never seen a job posting say “must have a sense of humor.” Sounds more like a dating profile than a job posting to me, but I wouldn’t be BOTHERED by it. I do think a sense of humor is necessary for my job, for most jobs, and for life.

    5. voluptuousfire

      “The job description doesn’t match the interviewers’ description.”

      I’ve ran into this in my last two interviews. It’s annoying as hell and makes you wonder how communication is within that company.

  82. LMW

    I think I’ve put my foot in my mouth with my boss. It’s been a hard year and my role has been constantly changing, but with absolutely no input or feedback from above, except “Okay, yeah, great” type stuff. I’ve written before about my surprise bad annual evaluation, surprise PIP-after-the-fact (basically: Hey, we’re putting you on a PIP, but it’s retroactive, so sign this saying it’s done), a few over-emotional freak outs from him, etc.
    Things have been better, mostly because he’s been gone a lot. I’ve ended up taking on some very new and very different projects where I feel like I’m making a real impact, but it means that my old process and projects are going to come to an end. Since no one above me ever gave any real feedback on the old stuff or seemed really invested in it, it shouldn’t be a big deal, and my boss has said as much. But I don’t believe him, and he can tell that I’m worried. This past week we basically had a conversation where he said, “You don’t seem to think I’m sincere” and I said “I’m trying but having trouble because you blind sided me.” I’m worried I’ll end up in a situation where I told them “I need to stop doing A to concentrate on B,” they say “Okay” and then six months later they come back and say “You didn’t do A.” That’s basically what happened last year.
    I know he just wants me to move forward and act like all the stuff I listed above never happened, but I really don’t trust him — we have a real problem with consistency from leadership.
    I’m looking, of course. I really love the rest of my job — I’m working with great, smart people. I get to apply my skills and feel like I’m contributing something valuable. I just have problems with my manager and our team leadership. Since they mostly ignore me, it doesn’t impact me on the day-to-day, but when it does come up, I need a way to handle it better. Basically, I need a poker face.

    1. Not So NewReader

      Do you have a friend at work that you could trust for advice? Pick someone who seems to be getting along with everything okay.

      I don’t think there is anything wrong with saying that you want to do a good job. This means that telling you 6 months or a year from now that your current work is not good deprives you of doing a good job right now. You need to now how to do a good job. My husband used to say “Do not wait until I am done with the job to tell me what is wrong with my work. Tell me in the moment so I can have the opportunity to correct it.”
      I’d be spitting nails if I were in your shoes. It’s a waste of company money because you could have spent that whole time doing the thing they wanted. I have told bosses that, too.
      Make it your theme song, “Tell me in the moment so I can correct the problems. Don’t tell me after all is said and done. I cannot fix it then.”

  83. LAI

    The heat is out in my building for the third time this month. It’s freezing. The worst part is that it’s unpredictable – I’ve been wearing tights under my pants all week in anticipation of this, and today was the first time I didn’t! At what point does this become inhumane working conditions?

    1. Rebecca

      I work in PA, and apparently, there is no workplace protection re heat/cold. I know someone who worked as a laborer in a warehouse packing auto parts (the business is closed now due to bankruptcy). There was no heat in the winter, no air conditioning in the summer. She spent all winter standing on her feet, packing metal parts, dressed for the outside in heavy clothes. She was sick a lot. Summer was oppressively hot. I know other people who work in an office setting, and their company heats the building between 5 PM and 6 AM, but not during the day, so again, they are bundled up in the winter with fingerless gloves, trying to type with cold fingers, and they swelter in the summer time. They aren’t allowed to even bring in small heaters, and they did complain to HR but they were told that the company wasn’t required to provide heat or air conditioning. I doubt they pressed it further as the employment situation around here is dismal and most people pretty much put up with whatever is dished out because they need a paycheck.

      1. LAI

        Yeah, I get the sense that this is a pretty universal work complaint, and no one is ever happy with their office temperature.

  84. Florida

    I need a little bit of resume formatting help. On my resume, everything is listed as:

    Company Dates
    Position
    – bullets

    I want to keep this format because of certain parts of my resume.

    Right now, I am working for three companies that are really one company. Technically, I work for three separate legal entities, and I get paid by all three of them. All three are owned by the same person. My role and supervisor are the same for all three. It’s just that legally they are separate entities. Their names do not sound like they are related though. I was thinking:

    Alpha LLC/ Beta Co./Gamma Inc. March 2013-present
    Teapot Maker
    – great bullets

    Is that confusing?

    If this were a company like Disney (which has a ton of corporations), I would list it as Disney and no one would care what my paycheck actually says. But this is a small mom-and-pop type of place. None of these companies are names that people would recognize. In fact, the only people who really know the legal names are people who write checks to us or receive checks from us. Each month, I get a three checks, one from each place, but my role is the same for each place. (i.e. I’m the teapot maker at all three companies)

    Any suggestions would be great. Thanks.

    1. Em

      I think your new format is not confusing, and could be easily explained. If you’re holding exactly the same position at all three companies, and they’re actually one company, I don’t see the problem listing them together on one line. Make sure you have enough room and it won’t looked cramped, though. If so, I’d move the date to be on the same line as “Teapot Maker” instead.

    2. Nom d'pixels

      I think that works, but it could help to add the parent or holding company in parenthesis. You might even have an explanation like Alpha/Beta/Gamma (subsidieries of Delta parent company).

      1. Florida

        There is not a parent company. If there were, I would just list the parent company not the three individual companies.

    3. Persephone Mulberry

      I do think it’s a little confusing – it’s not clear from your resume that it’s one job with three paychecks, and it could appear to a hiring manager that you just crammed three jobs onto one line because they have similar responsibilities.

      Even though it’s not 100% accurate to the organizational structure, I would maybe either just pick one company for your resume, or list is as Alpha LLC (also DBA Beta Co and Gamma, Inc.)

      1. Florida

        I had thought about only listing one, and I think I like this suggestion. Maybe I’ll just list Alpha Company, and not even mention the DBA part. If someone is really interested, I can explain the details in the interview. Thanks for the tip.

  85. SUV

    My boss has taken to adding a “Parking Lot” to meeting agendas. It’s an easy way to track topics that we want to discuss but didn’t get to. The problem is the “Parking Lot” is getting bigger and bigger. At some point this just gets ridiculous and we just have these things sitting in the parking lot forever.

    I was just told to add a huge list of items to a “Parking Lot” in another meeting. I’m not happy about it.

    1. Florida

      I kind of want to respond to you, but I think I’ll put my response in the parking lot for now. :)

      That is annoying.

    2. Steve G

      I temped at Verizon shortly and they did this during training. Why do we need to parking lot stuff if we have the whole darn day free for training, and what we are covering is common sense, and the parking-lotted item is something we need to know to actually work here??!!!! UGh.

      1. Bea W

        *facepalm* That kind of defeats the purpose of training..unless they are training you to add a “Parking Lot” to all of you meeting agendas.

        1. Steve G

          They were training us to be more customer-servicey, without technical information needed to do the job.

          It severely hurt my ability to do the job once I hit a Verizon store – I could talk to customers and smile etc. (which I did anyway!) but didn’t know anything about phones, and found it hard to look up solutions in their online encyclopedias with customers standing there staring, rightfully expecting that you’d been trained in the phones!

          1. Lindsay J

            Worked for a large time-share company. My job was to stand in a little booth in an outlet mall and convince people to book $99 vacations to Las Vegas and other destinations. During that vacation you would tour the timeshare property and be faced with a sales pitch.

            Was never given enough information to answer people’s questions. (And these were questions people needed an answer to to feel comfortable booking. Things like, “What type of hotel would I be staying in for that price?” “My daughter went to one of these last year, could she and her husband come as my guest this year?” “I’m not an American citizen, can I still sign up?” “What happens if I get there and my room is terrible?” etc. I’m not talking about people asking questions about the timeshare itself, which would be answered by sales staff during the sales presentation itself. Nor about the people asking for a detailed itinerary of everything they might want to do in Branson, MO. Just run of the mill stuff.

            There was nobody I could ask these things of. Once I was through with training I was in the booth by myself. We had no manager for months.

            There was no internal documentation.

            When I pushed about this I pretty much got told that selling was all about my attitude, and that answering questions and knowing too much about the product would only confuse me and make me a worse salesperson. In reality, when somebody wants an answer to a question, all the smiling and redirection to what a great deal this was in the world would not stop them from needing an answer to that question.

            I hated every second of it.

            1. Florida

              I briefly worked for a timeshare company in Orlando and I got a kick out of this story. The customers would come on a sales tour and say, “Well the guy at the booth told me ___.” I think the people booking the tours didn’t know the correct information so they just made up what made sense to them. And if it made sense to a normal person, it probably wasn’t the right answer for timeshare.
              Like you, I hated working in timeshare, but I also found the whole industry fascinating. They seem to defy all of the best practices in business, but it works for that industry. Some of the resorts will hire anyone who can breathe for sales, spend thousands of dollars to train them, then fire them two months later because they aren’t selling. Wouldn’t it make more sense to hire smarter?

      2. OfficePrincess

        At OldJob we did have a parking lot during training, but it was for off-topic questions that were brought up so that we wouldn’t derail what we were on. Then at the end, we’d double back to them. Doing it that way worked really well, but I couldn’t imagine just having the parking lot linger forever.

        1. Windchime

          That’s how it works at my office, too. The parking lot is for things that are off-topic to the current conversation, but may be revisited later if there is time. We also keep track of items to add to our backlog of tasks, but that’s a different thing completely and those items are added to the tracking system.

    3. rphillips

      You need to break the parking lot down into different sections like at the airport: curbside, short-term, long-term, remote, cell-phone waiting, etc. :)

  86. Banana

    I’ve been trying to get my company to sign off on a new software to help my team for three months. The issue has never been convincing them why it is a good solution, which they agree with, we just haven’t been able to fit it in the budget. There’s a good chance I will finally be able to get it after this month.

    The issue is my sales rep. I know it happens in sales a lot, but part of me feels bad that I’ve been essentially stringing her along this entire time saying “we want it, we just need to wait till we have the budget.” However, she’s transferring internally soon, which means I’ll get a new sales rep soon, which means she won’t get the commission because the decision will likely come after she transfers. Which has made her very pushy these past few weeks, trying to get the deal made. It’s been a major turnoff, almost enough for me to just not go with the product at all. All the alternatives to this product are more expensive with features we don’t need.

    I’ll be honest, I’ve never been comfortable putting my foot down or standing up for myself in these situations, but I don’t want to walk all over me. And most of the time she has been great and I do want her to get her commission for the work she’s done in getting us on board with purchasing. But I’m sick of her pushiness and what seems like a disregard for the fact that we just haven’t had the budget for this, and won’t for a couple more weeks. I know I have the power here as the purchaser, but I’m avoiding her emails right now because I don’t want to deal with her being a jerk.

    1. Banana

      You know what. Upon writing that all and rereading, I’m kind of okay with her not getting her commission with the attitude she’s given me. There were other factors too (I didn’t want to write forever). Maybe I’ll look into the alternatives again too.

    2. Apollo Warbucks

      She should just talk to her boss and explain that she cultivated the lead and the sale and ask them to honour the commission she would have got if you’d signed the contract sooner.

    3. jhhj

      I’d write her again and say that you have no control over the budget process, that you’d be happy to write to her manager if they need proof she cultivated the lead, but that she needs to stop pushing for the deal to be made as she knows you are doing what you can. It’s probably a lot of money for her, so I’d give her one chance — especially since it sounds like you haven’t been that clear.

      If she keeps pushing, you can write to her and say you’re going in a different direction — even if that direction is to a different rep in the company.

  87. Em

    Sooo… I have a question. I applied for a position about 6.5 weeks ago, I was very excited about the opportunity, it’s a perfect match to my skills and experience. I received an enthusiastic call from the company recruiter a little over a week after submitting my resume, she set up a preliminary interview, gave me immediate feedback, she was great. Then she left on vacation, and it all fell apart. Over the course of the following month or so, I have felt like the company was holding me at arms length, they would promise contact within a certain time and systematically never follow up. I didn’t know what the process was, where I was in that process, if the team even liked me, anything. When HR contacted me, it was always at 4:55pm and if I tried to call them back, they were gone. I interviewed twice with the management team, sent thank you emails, and all but one person ignored them. I felt they were at best lukewarm about me, and I was surprised because they were looking for a particular set of skills that’s not easy to find, and I have exactly that. Perhaps I’m a diva, but every company I have ever interviewed for has shown some enthusiasm about me, yet these guys never contacted me unless they needed something and never spent any time even attempting to make me feel valued.

    After playing the “I’ll call you this afternoon with an offer!” without actually ever calling for 2-3 days, the HR guy finally calls with an offer. It’s a pretty good one, no complaints, other than I don’t know if I want the job now. I feel like I bent over backwards to impress them, and apparently did, but they failed to impress me. HR maintains everyone is excited to have me, but I honestly never had that impression at all. I’m not sure I want to accept the offer, because I feel perhaps it’s a bad cultural fit.

    I would like to ask for a few more minutes of the hiring manager’s time in order to talk about this and see if he can appease my concerns. Would this be an acceptable request? I never have asked for a post-offer interview, I don’t know if it’s bizarre or not. I would really like to be a valued team member, and I’m just concerned that there were issues that never were brought up that transpired in the way they handled me, and if that’s the case, these issues are probably valid. I’ve never received an offer I wasn’t happy and excited about before, and I don’t know what to do, so I’d appreciate some feedback. Thank you!

    1. Althea

      If it’s only that HR was constantly late calling you, I wouldn’t reject an offer over it. Sometimes people suck but aren’t representative of the company as a whole. What were the impressions you got from the people you met? Did you like them? Were they open and friendly?

      And you shouldn’t be expecting replies to thank yous. A thank you note is the final message in a transaction, and you aren’t owed a thank-you-for-the-thank-you. In fact, I would find it weird if people responded to my thank you notes unless they had a specific reason, like another question or a specific comment.

      And 6.5 weeks from interview to offer isn’t outrageous. I think you are expecting them to move faster than they need to.

      1. Em

        Three executives to work with. I never met one of them, only spoke on the phone so I don’t really have an impression, one was fantastic and the reason I’m considering the position, and the main boss… seemed suspicious. Friendly, open, but I had the impression during the interview that he outright thought I was lying about my qualifications. Or, perhaps, that he knew of something that didn’t fit but never brought it up.

        As far as thank-you notes, I actually disagree. When I recruit for my team, I thank people for their time too, it’s a symbiosis. I’m a company with a problem, you’re a professional with (hopefully) a solution. I appreciate your time just as much as you appreciate mine, I think it’s professional and courteous to do so. I concede I might be one of the few who think that way though. As far as the timeline, I wasn’t offended with the 6.5 weeks lead time, I mentioned that to give perspective. Thank you for the feedback!

        1. fposte

          You may disagree on the thank you notes, but I think you’re unlikely to find that many people in the hiring side who agree with you and who follow the practice you suggest. Therefore I would advise against considering that a data point about this company–it just means they follow current communication norms, whether you like those norms or not.

          1. Windchime

            Same here. We’ve been interviewing internal candidates for a couple of weeks. They have all sent thank you emails; I haven’t responded to any of them.

        2. ThursdaysGeek

          It’s nice that you send thank you’s the other way too, but since it’s not the standard, it shouldn’t be a turn off when it doesn’t happen.

          And while impressions are important, don’t forget that impressions can be wrong, especially when you don’t know a person. So it seemed to you that he was not bringing up things, thought you were lying, but it’s possible that he just has an unfamiliar mannerism. If you really didn’t like him, then do take that into account, but don’t judge a person on what you think they are thinking.

    2. Jillociraptor

      So one, yes, listen to your gut. I’m not sure expressing this concern so directly is the right call, because if not done well it could come off as a little immature (“Are you sure you like me? On a scale of 1-10 how much?”), but just chatting with the manager now that the offer is real and you can talk specifics might give you more of a sense of what that person is like and whether you’d like to work with them. You might also ask specifically about the team culture, the general vibe, how people show appreciation, and how the team celebrates their victories. It seems like direct communication of appreciation is something that might matter a lot to you (is “words of affirmation” your love language?) and if you end up on a team that is much more Just The Facts, Ma’am, that might not be a good fit.

      On the process, I wouldn’t assume that the weirdness you experienced is because they’re not into you. I’m just naturally an extremely enthusiastic person. I get excited about EVERYTHING. But when I’m hiring, I’m really careful to be extra mindful of that impulse because I’ve seen (including here!) how much candidates read into their interviewers’ behavior. I want to create a really welcoming environment, and I definitely don’t want candidates walking away thinking I was only Meh about them if I really liked them, but I don’t want every single person construing my general enthusiasm as “I’ve got this in the bag!” Your potential future colleagues might just be exercising caution not to open too many doors before decisions are made.

      Hiring is weird on the hiring manager’s side, especially when logistical stuff like a recruiter going on vacation puts a wrench in the plans, and I would try to avoid reading too much into it if you’re actually excited about the role and think you would work well with the team. It doesn’t sound like they were being super unprofessional–they weren’t losing your paperwork or sending someone to interview you who hadn’t read your resume or rescheduling you a bunch of times–it just sounds like they might have been dealing with a logistically challenging situation, or might just not be as demonstrative as you are or as you expect.

      1. Em

        Well to be fair, I glossed over being given the wrong call-in number to phone interviews, the wrong people to call to get in the front door, the rescheduling of face-to-face interviews 10 minutes prior to my walking out the door, every participant being handed a different agenda for the interviews so no one knows what is going on… They didn’t demonstrate they had their stuff together.

        I’m usually fairly logical and down-to-earth, but I did get emotionally invested in this opportunity, which I think is why I can’t make a decision. I don’t need huge displays of admiration, but I do want to feel like a valued team member, I think pretty much everyone does. I’m hugely concerned that the place is going to be a mess, I’m going to be expected to fix it, and taken for granted all the while. And again, maybe I’m just being a diva, I don’t deny the possibility.

        Great point on the delivery, I don’t want to come across as high maintenance or immature, though I do kinda feel that way right now, but I feel I do need to evaluate this further. I don’t understand why I have such reservations about this, and it’s scaring me. I will definitely follow your advice on approaching this with the boss though, thank you very much for the feedback!

        1. Jillociraptor

          Definitely listen to your gut. Even if this place isn’t a categorically dysfunctional workplace, it might not be the right one for you. Good luck!

    3. Yoshi

      Yeah, I have to say, this seems a little bit needy to me. Five weeks seems like a completely normal hiring timeline for me, especially with someone going on vacation. It’s not routine for people to acknowledge follow up thank you emails, so I’m surprised that you even got one response. And it sounds like the HR guy has a lot of other things going on, and that doesn’t surprise me one bit because HR, at least in my experience, is often under resourced.