open thread – April 3, 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 :)

{ 1,107 comments… read them below }

  1. Sunflower*

    So recently during some phone screens, I’ve been able to get the recruiter to let me in on their salary range before I share mine. Problem is I’m getting a lot that their max. salary is the minimum I would take. I’m don’t want to scare them off but I also don’t want to look bad(or waste our time) if I have to turn down an offer because they can’t give me the $ I need. Should I disclose that that their max. is my minimum or just say that ‘yes the number is in my range’?

    1. Joey*

      Depends on whether you’d be happy. You said their max is the minimum you’d “take”. If you “take” a salary, but won’t be happy with it you really need to get a feel for growth potential. Because if you’re happy with the growth potential it might not be worth mentioning that their top is at your bottom.

      1. HR Shenanigans*

        I think what Joey is saying is really key. There is a difference in being “ok” with a salary, “taking” a salary and “wanting” a salary. If you are in the ok or wanting that’s fine but if taking means you’re going to have a chip on your shoulder (whether you realize it or not) then you should walk away. However, if you’ll be ok with the salary and see a clear path for moving up in the organization, with accompanying salary increases, than proceeding makes sense.

    2. AnonAcademic*

      My husband is dealing with this right now and his line is “I’m really looking for (your max) to (his midrange) right now.” He got the recruiter to up the hourly rate above the originally stated max (sadly they needed someone to start immediately and he’s not available for 2 months).

    3. KathyGeiss*

      I’m of two minds on this. On one hand, wouldn’t it all be easier if everyone was honest so no ones time was wasted. On the other, are you certain the range they are giving you is the full range? I wonder if they are telling you their range for hiring but there is actually room to grow after people start? room for growth is important to me so I may ask “well, I’ll be very honest, I’m looking for something that starts with x (their highest) but room for growth is important to me. I would be very comfortable starting with x but if that’s the cap for the position, this may not be the right fit for me.”

      But maybe that’s too blunt?

      1. Mimi*

        HR does this at my organization. They only quote candidates job’s min-mid range, not min-max range. They say it’s because everyone would want to be as close to the max as possible, and would also prohibit any growth promotions within that salary band.

      2. AntherHRPro*

        Generally you can tell by how big the range is that they share. If the range they share is fairly close, that is what they are looking to bring someone in at, which would mean that their is room to grow as the actual salary range is much broader.

    4. Karowen*

      I feel like Alison’s advice is generally along the lines of if they’re making a good faith effort by being upfront about their range, you should be upfront about your expectations. You don’t want to waste your time or theirs by going through a process that won’t come to a happy conclusion for anyone. I like HR Shenanigans’ and Kathy’s phrasings – explain that you’d only be happy with the top of their range but if there’s room for growth then it makes sense to continue.

      I wonder, though, if this is happening frequently is it possible that your expectations are a little off?

      1. Sunflower*

        Well it actually only happened twice- once with a job that I was overqualified for so I wasn’t surprised to hear that. I knew the job had great perks so I was 100% willing to take the lower salary. The other for a job I was contacted about where I had actually applied to 2 different positions- I applied to a manager and coordinator position because my experience was really in the middle and they contacted me about the coordinator job. Definitely going to take the advice about mentioning the room for growth. My minimum is what I will take given the perks are really great. As long as the benefits are good, I would be willing to take that salary if there was room for growth so I will definitely mention that if it comes up again!

    5. Dusty*

      So I deal extensively with recruiters in my industry (software product management) and this is how every conversation goes with great effect. Recruiter: what is you expected salary or current salary. Me : well, can you tell me what the range is for this position? Recruiter: sure, it’s 100k to 120k. Me answer 1: sure that’s within my range or I think that’s fine. Or answer 2: I’m really looking in the 120 to 140 range.

      This does a few things:
      1. Reveals their range first
      2. Gives me the option to accept or decline the range
      3. Let’s me give my range after. I’ve actually learned here that they will always go poverty their range if the candidates can make it worth while. So now when I hear a range of 100k I’ll say, well in looking for 110k. they’ll go back to their boss and get the ok (almost always do even when not 100% qualified)

        1. Sospeso*

          That seems appropriate to me, especially if the position they’re applying for would utilize any of the skills it would take to run the site (e.g., writing, editing, some degree of technical savvy, etc.).

        2. thisisit*

          is it relevant to the job the person is applying for? is it paid work, and professional? if yes to both, i’d include it. if it’s not paid work, it could go in a volunteer section if necessary, or even a publication section.

    1. Kelly L.*

      I used the one I write for on mine. It actually made a good conversation topic during interviews, and I figured they could also look at it if they wanted to see that I could write. I didn’t put it with my jobs, but down at the bottom in kind of a “misc” section, but I think it may have helped in a couple of interviews. I can’t remember for sure if it came up during the interview for the job I eventually ended up in.

      The caveat is content–we reviewed worksafe books and tried to keep swearing in our reviews to a minimum. ;)

    2. Lily in NYC*

      I could see both sides to this, but I’m leaning towards Yes. Especially if the job-seeker is looking for a job in media/publishing.

    3. soitgoes*

      I’ve put sites like Textbroker on my resume to illustrate my experience with SEO and AP style. I’ve made sure to list my title as “freelancer.” I took that off my resume as soon as I started amassing better kinds of working experience, but as long as it’s relevant to the jobs you’re applying for, I don’t think it’s bad to have your website on your resume. My company could certainly use someone who has experience with HTML and dealing with servers.

    4. Jennifer*

      I don’t know, probably depends on how “professional” it is and what kind of field you’re applying for.

      I have one but would never use it on mine. In the days of Facebook and Linked In, I just don’t feel like advertising my web presence out of paranoia.

    5. Claire (Scotland)*

      Yes, if the skills are relevant and the person can communicate that effectively. And assuming the reviews are appropriate for sharing professionally, of course.

  2. Karowen*

    Oh my god, guys. On Wednesday I’ll have my first real interview in…well, ever. I’m freaking out! I’m going to be reviewing Alison’s advice heavily but I don’t know what to wear-I’m interviewing at a law firm and am a big chested lady so it’s next to impossible to find a button-up shirt that doesn’t gap (unless I go up about 2 sizes). So is it better to find a shell top (likely sleeveless) or to wear a shirt that is too large?

    Also, I wanted to note: I paid for Alison’s resume review last year and the recruiter specifically commented on how fantastic my resume was and how she loves that I give examples, etc. So if you’re in the market I definitely recommend using her service! I was able to apply most of her advice from reading her columns but having her go through point by point made it just that much better.

    1. Sunflower*

      If you’re wearing a suit, don’t get a button-up or collared shirt. I’m chesty and on me it ends up just looking like there is wayyyy too much going on. Go with a shell top.

    2. Not Today Satan*

      I’ve been able to find short sleeved shells at stores like Ann Taylor. I wouldn’t ever wear a sleeveless shirt to an interview–even though it’s never happened, I fear that the hiring manager might encourage me to take off my jacket and then my imperfect armpit shaving job will be exposed.

      1. Audiophile*

        Lol. I wore a sleeveless top last year, because I had a second round and needed a different shirt. I really only have two interview shirts and two gray suits. The suits are Anne Klein and the tops are Ann Taylor.

    3. B*

      I hear you on that gap! I would do something either short-sleeve or that has a cap sleeve. This way if it’s warm and they suggest you take your jacket off you are still in a good interview outfit.

    4. Lore*

      I agree with the short-sleeved shell. Jones New York makes nice ones that are a thin knit–I like the textural contrast with suit fabric, plus, no ironing!

    5. Not Here or There*

      I am not a chesty lady, and I never seem to be able to find button-up shirts that fit, lay right and/or are flattering. I usually either go with a shell (sometimes sleeveless, sometimes not) or with a coordinating sheath dress under a suit jacket.

    6. Sparrow*

      I think a shell top under a suit jacket would be fine. Corporette or Capitol Hill Style might have some suggestions for brands, etc. Good luck with the interview!

    7. Lily in NYC*

      If you really want to stand out, don’t wear anything underneath your blazer! Kidding aside, good luck.

    8. thisisit*

      don’t wear a shirt that doesn’t fit right. better to go “less” formal but better fitting. a shell top is ok, but don’t go with anything thin, lacy, or shiny.
      and if you are wearing a suit (which i assume you are in a law firm interview), then don’t take the jacket off unless everyone else is really casually dressed.

    9. Beancounter in Texas*

      I have the same problem! The couple of times that I’ve bought button-ups (in spite of rarely wearing them), Jones New York seems to have the sense to space buttons properly to avoid huge gaps and years ago, I bought one from Lane Bryant that fits well. I personally don’t find a shell less professional than a button-up, especially if accessorized nicely. But if you must must have a button-up, buy one to have it tailored or simply have a custom fitted shirt made (not that you have the time for that now). Good luck!

      1. AntherHRPro*

        Lands End make a really nice stretch button down shirt that works for me and I am also a little chesty. The button is just in the right spot and the cotton fabric has a little spandex in it so it stretches without a gap.

        Good luck!

      1. Nashira*

        Thank heaven for safety pins. One saved me at a wedding when I didn’t realize the wrap top dress that looked fine standing, had me showing the goods to the world the instant I sat.

    10. Small Creatures Such As We*

      Yes to the shell top! (and +1 on the Ann Taylor recommendations). And you might do a quick scan through the careers section at TJ Maxx/Marshalls–their selection varies widely by store location, but you can do quite well in the right store. I have a few Max Studio tops from there that work well for business-wear.

      Also, it’s chancy, but Express’ button-downs might actually fit you in both the waist and bust (they do for me, and I have a 7″ band/bust difference). Unfortunately, their shirts tend to run either too trendy or too sexy (the top button is often set very low) for job interviews.

    11. Sarahnova*

      There are great fitted shirts specifically made for the chesty available online. I am in Europe and use Bravissimo.Com and, but there are also US suppliers. Right now, I am breastfeeding and wearing 30GG in UK sizing!

  3. The Bookworm*

    How do you quit a volunteer job?
    I’ve been an office volunteer for a non-profit for more than a year. I used to enjoy it; but I don’t anymore. One reason is that I’m not learning anything that would help me get a job in the future. (I haven’t worked in years, and hoped to brush up my job skills) Another reason is apparently there was a verbal altercation between two of the employees; the atmosphere in the office has been chilly. The tension has lasted for weeks.
    A couple of months ago, I started volunteering for an educational organization – and I LOVE it!!! First, everyone is happy – even when things go wrong. Second, even though I’ve only be there a couple of months, I’m getting to do some fun and challenging tasks.
    I’d rather spend all of the time I have available for volunteering at the educational organization rather than spend any time at the non-profit. I’m just not sure how to do tell the non-profit I won’t be coming in anymore.

    1. Not Today Satan*

      “I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to volunteer with you for this past year. It’s been great getting to know you and learning about your org/field. I’ve found another volunteer position with the opportunity to learn some useful skills and would like to focus on that. Is there anything you’d like me to finish up before my last day?” Or something to that effect.

    2. Mimmy*

      I would set up an appointment to meet with whoever is responsible for coordinating volunteers and just explain this isn’t the right fit for you anymore. I don’t think quitting a volunteer job is as difficult as quitting a paid job, though you still want to be professional about the reasons.

      By the way, welcome to my world! I haven’t worked in a long time myself, and have been trying to keep up my skills. Getting your feet wet again is definitely a process.

      1. The Bookworm*

        Mimmy, how are you trying to keep your skills current? I’ve checked out a library book to learn Outlook & it really helped.

        1. The Bookworm*

          I hit submit before I should have.

          If you have any suggestions, I would love to hear them.

        2. Mimmy*

          My field is more or less professional, not administrative, so I sit on a couple of councils, which allows me to be aware of different issues that affect the populations my councils advocate for.

          Sounds like you’re doing just the right things–volunteering at agencies as well as learning practical skills via outside reading. I think that’s important. For a period, I wanted to get into grant writing, so I joined a committee that reviews grant proposals from nonprofit agencies. I’m not so sure about grant writing anymore, but I’ve discovered that I absolutely love learning how good programs are designed and evaluated.

          Unfortunately, there have been some mitigating factors that have made it difficult for me to move forward and get into something like this, but I think you’re on the right track :) Good luck!!

    3. thisisit*

      i don’t even think you have to explain why you are leaving, but do give notice – however much you think they might need (reasonably).

      1. Jackie*

        Yes, definitely leave if you want to please give notice if you can!

        I don’t think you need to mention that you’ve found something else. I think simply saying that you’ve appreciated the experience but your schedule will no longer allow you to volunteer is fine.

      2. Anony-moose*

        I’d let them know, if it were me. I work in a nonprofit and if a volunteer was being put off by a chilly office environment, I’d want to know. Volunteers are an important part of the nonprofit eco-system and this is important feedback!

        Of course, some nonprofits (or people, or businesses in general) aren’t open to any criticism even if it is meant to be productive. OP – is it the type of environment where honesty is encouraged?

        1. The Bookworm*

          Anony-moose, I like the employees, but I don’t know if honesty is encouraged. I realize that not knowing that about the culture may seem strange since I’ve volunteered there for over a year, but I go in just half a day or so a week. And, I spend most of my time doing data entry to meet deadlines.

          I wasn’t sure it would be appropriate for a volunteer to discuss personnel issues with the director. Regardless, the office is so small, I’m sure everyone knows things are awkward.

  4. Forrest*

    Yay! Been waiting all week for this.

    I’ve come to the decision that I can no longer live on my current salary nor tolerate the commute (45 mins at least). Even though its been less than two years at my current company, I decided to look for a new gig. Luckily I landed an interview!

    So two questions: How best to address why I want to leave so soon (because my current job isn’t bad, it just has a focus on an aspect that I don’t like anymore) and second, I have a two year vacation planned for this summer. How do I best address that?

    Thanks everyone!

    1. Sunflower*

      Two year vacation? No clue where you are located but if you’re in the US, I’d suggest staying at your current job. No one is going to hire you if you’re going to be gone in a couple months. It sucks but just stick it out til then.

        1. Sunflower*

          I thought it might be two weeks but I also know there are some really lenient vacation policies in the UK so I wasn’t sure!

          In that case, yes wait til the offer to disclose the vacation. Most of the time it’s not an issue. I also don’t think you need to address the 2 years at your current job unless they ask. 2 years isn’t all that short so I would just be upfront about why you’re looking to change jobs. I don’t think it will be an issue esp since it sounds like you’re looking to change for good reason.

          1. Apollo Warbucks*

            The minimum in the UK is four or five weeks PTO but your employer has some say on when you can book it, it’s common for companies to limit it to two week blocks and restrict which employees can be off work at the same time.

    2. Not Today Satan*

      Assuming you meant two week vacation, I wouldn’t mention it until the job is offered to you.

    3. Anonymous Educator*

      Are you sure you have to address it? Two years isn’t a terrible time to be leaving a company after. You certainly don’t want a string of two-year stints on your résumé, but it’s certainly not as bad as a one-year stint, and if it happens only once, it’s not even remotely in job-hopper territory.

      Honestly, I just left a very toxic workplace after less than a year, and the place I got hired at didn’t get at all why I wanted to leave (I wouldn’t have necessarily told them how toxic it was).

      I think your best bet is to focus more on why you’re interested in the place you’re interviewing at than why you’re leaving your current job. And, honestly, if they press you for a reason, say it’s an added bonus that the place you’re interviewing at gives you a shorter commute (you don’t have to mention the salary bit).

      1. AdAgencyChick*

        +1. Less than two years, but it’s your first job out of school or your previous job was 2+ years? I’m not going to bat an eyelash. Two or three 18-month stints in a row? That’s when I’ll wonder whether you’re a hopper.

      2. Anonymous Educator*

        Sorry… that should say the place I got hired at didn’t care at all why I wanted to leave

      3. the gold digger*

        I have only one data point – my former boss (but not NotSergio – the guy under him), so this may not be valid for everyone. My boss was cranky because he had interviewed this guy over the phone and the guy said that the reason he wanted the job was because he wanted a shorter commute.

        I think that is a perfectly reasonable justification for changing jobs, but my then-boss was quite snarky about it and crossed the guy, who was otherwise really qualified, off his list.

        1. Anonymous Educator*

          Well, I think a lot of it depends on how it comes up and how you say it. If you give the hiring manager the impression that a shorter commute is the only reason you want that job, I can see how that can be a turnoff. Even though it’s a bit of a dance and a facade, a lot of hiring managers want to imagine that people always switch jobs to working at Such an Amazing Place instead of for other, more mundane reasons (shorter commute, higher pay). I would say, as a candidate, you should always lead with what we really appeals to you about the company/position and what you can contribute, and then leave the shorter commute as a “couldn’t hurt” bonus, not the primary reason.

    4. Dawn*

      If the company extends an offer, when you’re ready to sit and negotiate, you say “I have a two-week vacation planned for (dates)- will that pose any problem on your end?” Employers are super used to this kind of thing, and honestly any employer who holds it against you doesn’t understand how “people having lives” works. Do expect that they won’t pay you for those two weeks, however, because you’ll probably not have accrued enough vacation for that to be a possibility.

      1. Artemesia*

        I’d probably phrase it as a trip for a family event or if that doesn’t seem like two weeks, call it a family trip. Somehow vacation sounds more frivelous.

    5. some1*

      It’s perfectly reasonable to say that you are looking for a more competitive salary if you add other reasons, imo.

    6. soitgoes*

      Two years is kind of the golden standard around AAM, but I think it’s fine to move around a bit (as long as you stay for one full year at each job) as you get your feel for the industry and find that better opportunities come your way. The two-year rule is about making yourself look good to future employers. If you end up getting this new job, it’s a moot point.

      Just tell them that your current company is pulling away from its original focus and that there’s no room for growth.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        I would modify that a bit — two years is the minimum to stay if you don’t want it to look short-term (unless you stay at all your other jobs longer). Gold standard is more :)

        1. soitgoes*

          Does that perception change if you leave a job after 18 months because you’re offered a better one, and then you stay there for 5 years?

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Yeah, you get one short-term stay. It’s when there are multiple ones when it becomes a problem. A resume of mainly two-year stays is going to concern me.

            1. GOG11*

              Would you say that contract positions count in that, as well? For example, my first job was with AmeriCorps and it was known from the beginning by all parties that it was a one-year term of service. I am wondering how temp work or contract work would fit into this all.

              Is it more about the time you’re in the position or about how long you’re able to stay within the amount of time you’re expected to do so?

                1. Anon for this*

                  How about if all your jobs in your entire work history of about 10 years were short term? Once you move into a permanent position, how long should one plan to stay there?

                  This is me. Just got my first permanent position and I want to stay with it for a good long time, but I’m curious if I should plan to stay longer than 2 years as a rule so I have something longer term in my job history or if 2 years would be long enough?

                2. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  You want to counteract all those short-term stays, so I’d aim for a minimum of 4 years. 5-6 with that employer (even if in different roles) would be better!

    7. thisisit*

      i wouldn’t bring up the leaving-current-job reasons. but if they ask, say that you want to take your career in a certain direction (whatever it is), and the job is going in a different direction, so time to switch gears. new job ideally would give you the opportunity to pursue the desired direction. in other words, answer it like you’d answer that question regardless of how long you’ve spent in a job.

      and vacation doesn’t need to be addressed until you get an offer.

  5. Nobody*

    I am feeling really discouraged with the way my company handles promotions and raises. They put a cap on how much of an increase an employee can get with a promotion. If I get an offer for a promotion, no matter how much the standard pay for the new job is, I am limited to a 10% increase in my current base salary. Even if I were selected for a job that normally pays twice as much my current one, the most I could get is a 10% raise. That might not sound so bad, except for the fact that I am currently in a non-exempt position and work a lot of overtime, which typically adds 30-50% to my base salary. Any promotion I could get would be exempt, so a 10% raise wouldn’t even begin to cover the loss of overtime.

    I would like to take a job with more authority and responsibility, but I feel stuck where I am because I don’t want to take a pay cut for a promotion. I guess this is why people tend to change companies a lot, but I have only been with this company for a year, so I probably need to stick around a while longer before I try to move.

    1. Sunflower*

      Have you talked to your manager about why that policy is in place? I can’t imagine anyone is happy about that. Any chance there is a different structure for people going from non-exempt to exempt?

    2. Random CPA*

      Maybe you could argue that the 10% ceiling should be based on a 3-month average of your total pay including overtime.

    3. Puddin*

      Do you KNOW this is the policy or is this just what you have been told or what is typically done? Second, if there is a promotion you are shooting for, I would go for it. When they come back with a salary you can negotiate, especially based on your current wages. If they want you badly enough, they may be able to budge. Even if you take it at a lower than desired rate, you can push for more income at your first review – provided your performance warrants it.

      My company does have salary increase caps on promotions but I have seen them go over for the right candidate.

      1. Nobody*

        I know it’s the policy — and it’s written in the contract under which I work, so there’s no getting around it. Even if the company wanted to pay me twice as much, they are bound by the contract to limit it to 10%. There is a similar cap on pay raises; even if I got a perfect performance review, the absolute highest pay raise I can get from one year to the next is 3.6%, so I couldn’t catch up with pay raises, either.

        1. Puddin*

          Well that stinks! I can see why you are reluctant to move up.

          I don’t understand the purpose of these increase caps; other than maybe maybe a flimsy accounting issue. Here is a great reason why they suck.

    4. Rat Racer*

      I worked for a company like that. Folks would always say, “If you really want to make money here, you have to quit, work somewhere else and then come back.” Yeah, I’m sure that’s exactly what HR had in mind when they set the raise/promotion cap. Great strategy.

      I don’t have advice unfortunately, just empathy…

      1. HRish Dude*

        I work at a major corp with a similar policy and it’s the finance department that makes these decisions, not HR.

    5. Joey*

      Sometimes this happens. When I worked at a job with tips I had to take lower pay to get into a professional position.

      And remember, overtime is typically not guaranteed the same way a consistent salary is

      1. Nobody*

        True, and with that in mind, I’d be willing to take a promotion with a 25% raise, even though that wouldn’t make up for the lowest amount of overtime anyone normally gets. But 10% overtime is practically guaranteed because it’s built into the regular schedule, and there is always a lot of overtime for non-exempt employees for a big project that happens every year, so a 10% base raise is almost guaranteed to be a substantial pay cut in the end.

        1. Joey*

          A better gauge would be to ask other new employees what they make and what kind of experience they had

      2. AdAgencyChick*

        Yup, this happens in my industry a lot. You sacrifice now in exchange for the knowledge that your salary will eventually grow much larger than you could have made on the nonexempt career track.

        I can’t say I disagree, at least the way it’s done in my industry. Your value to the company is based on the value of the position being filled, not on what you were being paid before. But I get that it’s a hard decision for those who are in that position.

    6. Chloe Silverado*

      My company has a similar policy, but I was lucky enough that the manager of my new team thought it was unfair. We worked out an arrangement where I would take the 10% raise, and then at my 90 month review as long as I was performing well I would be awarded an additional raise that got me to market rate for the role. Maybe something like that could be worked out?

    7. Bethy*

      I’m dealing with this too, to an extent. I interviewed yesterday for a promotion to a different department. It would entail a LOT more work plus I’d move from hourly (with occasional OT opportunities) to exempt. HR said I’d probably be in the 3-5% range for a raise, but they haven’t run the numbers yet officially–and our standard raise is about 3%.

      I really don’t think it would be worth it financially or for my sanity to move–for the most part I like my job, and I really like my colleagues/manager. But I’ve been in this role 6 years and I don’t want to get stuck here. My manager changes every 3 years or so, and this is the second one who’s tried to get me a promotion/raise within the department, but HR keeps pushing back. I can’t decide between current happiness (except for lack of money/having to work a second job PT 8 months a year) and future career growth. It’s tough.

    8. Apollo Warbucks*

      I like the idea of including your overtime in the calculation of the raise for the new role.

      If you take the promotion with a 10% ride how quickly can they start moving your salary towards the market rate?

      If I was in your situation I’d want a firm agreement about what salary I could ultimately expect for the role and how long it would take to get there.

      But I’d seriously consider leaving the firm, if they don’t see how bullshit policies like this are unfair to employees.

      1. Nobody*

        I wish it were possible to convince them to figure in the overtime, but the contract specifically says the limit is a 10% raise above the employee’s current base salary, not including overtime or bonuses. There’s little hope of catching up to market rate through raises, because the market rate goes up by 3% every year and raises are contractually limited to the range of 2.4-3.6% — and there’s a quota limiting the number of employees who can get more than a 3% raise in any given year.

        For the job I have in mind, if they offered me the maximum 10% raise and I got the maximum 3.6% annual raise every single year (I’d have to be considered one of the top two employees in the department to get the maximum raise), it would take me 7 years to catch up to market rate — and that’s still far less than I’d be likely to make at my current job with overtime.

    9. attornaut*

      I have a co-worker going through the same thing. It was absolutely non-negotiable, unfortunately, and she thought she’d be okay with it. Turns out, after trying it for two years (and realizing that the way its structured means other people in the office doing the exact same thing makes 10s of thousands more), she’s looking for a new job.

      I’ll be sad to see her go but it’s the right decision (and a terrible policy).

    10. oaktown*

      Um a certain company that contracts canvassing services actually had to settle a large class action lawsuit for doing this very thing…. maybe you should get some folks together for a suit? ;)

      1. oaktown*

        Although I recall that newly exempt employees were making less than minimum wage based on a standard work week, so maybe that was the main reason they settled and not just the pay structure.

    1. Beancounter in Texas*

      I saw that earlier this week and could not fathom how they even sat naked for the pictures to be taken. I tried to imagine working naked with my 76 year old coworkers, and eeeewww.

    2. Windchime*

      I liked that there was a guy named Scott Weiner. Because I’m 12, and you just said “weiner”.

  6. Ali*

    I had my interview with the insurance company this past week. I’m still not sure if I would take the job if offered to me. The benefits are good and it sounds like they have a good culture (including a solid initial training period and then opportunity for continuing classes once you’re fully in the company), but I am worried that going to a new industry might be too deep of a learning curve. I’m also not sure what the pay range is. I asked the HR woman once she discussed benefits with me, and she said they are still working on a number because it depends on a wide range of factors like industry experience, college degree and so forth. However, they’re still doing interviews, so I won’t know their decision for another week or two.

    In the meantime, I have put up a website to showcase my writing to see if I can get some freelance writing/social media work. I’m also trying to learn how to pitch effectively and find good clients. I’m not sure if I’ll freelance full-time, but in the meantime, it’ll keep me busy if I do let go and give me some skills.

    I’m going away next week and I’m looking forward to a week OFF from job searching! And from my jobs!

    1. ThursdaysGeek*

      Don’t be afraid to change to a new industry. There is often a lot of overlap in terms of business flow and professional norms, and if they are willing to train, it sounds like a good deal (if the money is right).

      I’ve worked for a testing laboratory, a city, a farm, a manufacturing company, a government contractor, and a utility. And while each one has been vastly different, they also have many similarities. Plus, I get to learn new things all the time. That’s a good thing.

      1. Tricia C*

        Not to mention, if you want to freelance someday, having experience working with a variety of organizational types can come in handy.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        It’s amazing how many tidbits of information that you learn at one job and use at the next job. I have had so many seemingly unrelated experiences suddenly work into new ideas or solutions on the next job.

      3. little Cindy Lou who*

        As someone who currently works at an insurance company, even in a non-insurance role, there is a lot to learn. (Eg unique and complicated financials.) I love it though.

    2. Emily, admin extraordinaire*

      I have worked for a non-profit online university, an in-patient eating disorder clinic, a chain of movie theaters, a small CPA firm, and now my state department of education’s special education division. Don’t worry about changing industries. Yes, you have to learn new buzzwords and acronyms and processes, but that’s totally doable most of the time.

  7. Foxtrot*

    I’m starting my final internship in May…second round with the same company. I really want to work for this company when I graduate, and more specifically grow there. Luckily, they hire most of their interns on as full time employees.
    My question is, how important is it to “look the part” at the beginning of your career? And more importantly…what does the part look like? For background, I’m a female who is going into R&D engineering work. Up to this point, I was in manufacturing, so a lot of what I could wear to work was dictated by safety. I’m not really sure where to begin.

    1. Bend & Snap*

      What do your coworkers wear? That’s a good place to start.

      A good haircut, makeup if you wear it and nice accessories always help you look put together and professional.

    2. Sparrow*

      Second the suggestion to see what other people in that department wear. I’ll post the link separately, but there was a post on Corporette about this subject.

    3. Dawn*

      First of all, looooove the “Bend & Snap”!

      And I echo that sentiment- look at what your co-workers are wearing, BUT I would say most importantly look at what people in positions of authority are wearing and lean on the side of dressing like they do. Not saying you should wear a suit every day if the only person in the office who does that is the CEO, but more that I think it’s a safe bet professionally to always be a little more professionally dressed than anyone else who’s on your level.

      One way to look more professional almost INSTANTLY with little to no need to invest in an entirely new wardrobe is go have your clothes tailored. Make sure that your button up shirts fit correctly, get your pants hemmed, and keep your clothes clean, pressed, and in good repair. Having clothing tailored will make it look about a bajillion times better in such a subtle way that no one will even be able to tell, other than thinking “man, Foxtrot is always so well put together, HOW DOES SHE DO IT?!?!?” A $30 shirt from Kohl’s that has $10 of tailoring will look better than a $120 off the rack shirt from Nordstrom, every time.

      1. Foxtrot*

        Thanks! I think part of the struggle is that there are so few women in engineering still…and even fewer as you move up the ladder. I’m struggling with things like wearing my hair up or down, or skirts vs pants, heels vs flats, etc. It’s hard to find a fashion guide when the majority of your coworkers are male. I can kind of copy what they are doing, but it still seems a little different. Or I’m totally over thinking this?

        1. Bend & Snap*

          i don’t think any of that matters, to be honest. Wear what you like. Pants can be just as dressy as skirts, ditto hair up or down. Neat and polished comes in many forms.

        2. thisisit*

          hair up v down only matters if you have unruly hair or if it’s always in your face. otherwise, you can keep it neat either way, usually.

          pants v skirts doesn’t matter, unless there is some restriction. does the company have a written dress code? that’s always a good place to start.

          heels vs flats – whichever is comfortable, but i don’t think anything more than 3 inches would ever be necessary.

          if people (including men) wear suits, then that can be the easiest way to go. neutral colors can be dressed up/down with scarfs, jewelry, colorful shirts, etc. if no one wears suits, then you can’t really go wrong with business casual + a few jackets that can always be thrown on top of an outfit to dress it up.

        3. AnotherAlison*

          I’m not in R&D engineering, but I’m in engineering. I personally prefer to wear pants. I used to wear heels so I didn’t have to take my pants up, but now I wear flats because I can’t tolerate heels. I wear my hair down because I’ve always worn my hair down. I’m a 15-year person. I can go grab another 15-year female who wears dresses with boots a lot. I’ve seen her wear black skinny pants with 3″ yellow heels, too. As long as it meets the dress code, it’s fine to wear what you like. Keep in mind the dress code needs to be site appropriate, so if you were in a lab with machinery, hair down with jewelry wouldn’t be appropriate.

        4. the gold digger*

          I work in engineering R&D (I am in marketing) and I wear the same black skirt to work three times a week. (I am running a test – I have vowed to go a year without buying new clothes. ) I don’t think anyone notices what anyone wears here.

          The few women engineers who are here wear nice slacks and blouses or sweaters. I wear skirts because I can never find pants that fit right. I second the sentiment of just looking polished with a few really nice basics. Don’t buy a whole lot of clothes for work – you really don’t need a variety because nobody will notice or care!

        5. Anonsie*

          You can still get a bit of a range, though. Are they all in jeans and tshirts? Ties? It’s frustrating because women don’t have an easy equivalent to some of the mid-formality-level outfits like chinos and a button collar, so if they’re in that range it’s harder to interpret but it does give some clues.

          At the very least I would say things like hair up/down are going to be more individual and less workplace determined, although you should hang that big “depends on the industry” sign on that statement.

          1. thisisit*

            women can wear chinos and button-downs too. or pants and sweaters over collared shirts (another common busines casual look for men).

            i don’t think it’s hard that to extrapolate from what men wear to what women wear in the office. but i hear women express this issue a lot. i feel like it would be harder to go the other way, since women even have levels of formality with business suits (never mind their accessories), while men pretty much only vary on waistcoasts (at least in the office – wedding/evening formal notwithstanding).

            1. Anonsie*

              Eh, the body shape differences are big there though. You have to be very tall or at least long-waisted and selectively proportioned to be able to pull off a casual button down tucked into cotton pants, and that’s aside from the waking nightmare that is trying to find fitting cotton pants for women. An untucked shirt and a sweater only works part of the year, and because of the variety in women’s clothing it would (rightly or wrongly) stand out in an unfavorable way if you wore that every single day anyway.

              I have noticed the biggest disagreements when this comes up tends to come from the fit experiences of the women talking about it, though. I’m a very difficult to dress shape and despite what people think, you can’t just buy something that almost fits and take it to a tailor and have them make it fit well because things are so crappily made nowadays even at a high price point. For me, trying to come up with a casual outfit that fits and looks put together makes my blood run cold. It means many many many hours of shopping and many trips to the tailor and a crapload of returns because maybe 1/15 items you try on is workable. This is the case for a lot of other people I know as well, and I suppose thinking about it we’re all short and curvy so maybe that’s the rub.

              But I know a lot of women who think we’re insane and finding casual outfits is super easy, though not coincidentally these are women who are often close to rack fit sizes and can find clothing way more easily than we can. They can seriously just look at a JCrew style book and purchase whole outfits in the size they know works and just go with it, and if I wore anything like what they do I’d look like a complete disaster. Professional and polished easily becomes messy and frumpy when the clothing doesn’t match your shape, and that’s a style issue even more often than a fit issue.

              1. thisisit*

                i run with a fairly gender neutral crew, maybe.

                that being said, you are right about fit and comfort. that can make it difficult to find clothes that work. i hate pants suits for example (as mentioned below) because the pants just do not fit, no matter if i get them tailored.
                i wear skirts/dresses pretty much always.

                1. Foxtrot*

                  Thank you everyone!! :)
                  I thought I would start asking now so I could play around with a few looks in April and not have any major faux pas when I start work. I’ll try to find a way to be comfortable and polished.

    4. little Cindy Lou who*

      You’re over thinking it.

      Start from a point of what you like to wear that isn’t sweats or gym wear. Do you gravitate to pants vs skirts, etc. Then just build mix and match basics that aren’t too tight, cover your bits well, and that you’d be comfortable spending the day in.

      Window shop at Ann Taylor and in the business sections of clothing stores. You’ll find inspiration and if you like something you can try it on to see how it feels/looks and then keep similar fits and styles in mind. And never underestimate the power of camisoles to transform a neckline from too revealing to classy.

  8. Sunflower*

    I’m trying to brush up on Microsoft Excel and Project and looking for a book/guide. I’m a learn by doing type of person (+visuals) so I’m looking for something that emphasizes that with ample exercises and graphics as opposed to wordy step by step descriptions.

    1. CrazyCatLady*

      I find chandoo dot org and my online training hub dot com to be more helpful than any book I’ve tried, for Excel. You do have to pay for their classes, but you definitely get your money’s worth and they usually will have example workbooks and videos. Their websites also have loads of free tips and information as well.

    2. PEBCAK*

      MS Project Step by Step. I think it’s the official MS-published book, and it comes with sample files, exercises, etc.

    3. Dynamic Beige*

      Does it have to be a book? I’ve bought tons of books over the years and I’ve found I stick more with online video courses than with the books. The books might be a good reference, but when I try to sit down and work with them, they just don’t hold my attention.

      I’ve recently purchased a few courses (not Excel) from Udemy dot com. If you can wait until they have a sale, there are times when loads of them are $19 for lifetime access to that course. Then again, there’s Lynda (I think that’s monthly subscription), Coursera. Might be worth a shot?

    4. Steve G*

      Excel Formulas & Functions for Dummies (yes, its one of those xyz for Dummies yellow-covered books). They definitely skip a lot of the fluff text

    5. Barbara Gordon*

      Depending on where you are, you might have access to LearningExpressLibrary through your local public library. It has very thorough online tutorials for both of those programs.

  9. Bend & Snap*

    How do you deal with a competitive co-worker? I have a teammate, junior to me, who is ALWAYS working to one-up me, particularly in front of our leadership. My manager has brought it up with me and I was so glad he noticed.

    The challenge with the one-upping is that she can sometimes derail my initiatives. Example: I float an idea and next steps. Then she piles on with something half-baked that she never executes, designed to take the focus off of my original proposal.

    It’s moving from annoying to actively hampering my work and I’m not sure what to do about it.

    For the record, this woman is not well liked at all, because she pulls stuff like this on everyone.

    1. Noelle*

      Actually, I was coming on here to post something similar. I just started a new job and most of the team is great. But there’s one woman who is a couple years older than me, very smart, but hasn’t done this work before and she is trying to box me out of everything. Yesterday I learned she’d submitted a project to my boss that he’d asked me (in front of her) to help her with a week ago, without me even getting to see the project at all. I don’t want to be pushy or territorial, but I foresee this being a problem.

      1. Bend & Snap*

        Welcome to my world! This woman did this kind of thing when I first started 3 years ago and it’s only gotten worse.

          1. Bend & Snap*

            Mostly I just try not to engage her. If she cuts me out I immediately loop myself in and CC my boss. That happened this week actually–she roped one of my direct reports into a project without checking with me and ended up bullying her and cutting me out of something I needed to be involved with. I inserted myself with the project lead and let my boss know what happened.

            1. AdAgencyChick*

              OOH, NO. I’d be mad as hell if someone went around me to get one of my direct reports to do things.

              I’d definitely be sitting down with my direct reports to have a “how to say no politely” discussion. And a “who to say no to” one along with it.

      2. Forgoing usual username*

        I am interested in suggestions on how to deal with this, too. In my case, it’s a consultant who actually is very good at the work, but cuts me out of communications and then complains when I don’t copy her on everything. I already botched one conversation about the situation, but since I don’t have the authority to fire her outright (and I’d really rather it not come to that), it needs to be addressed.

        1. Noelle*

          I don’t know if it’s serious enough to go to my boss yet (plus I’ve only been there a couple weeks). And she comes from the corporate world so maybe she’s not used to collaborating. But I need to deal with this before it starts reflecting badly on me. Why can’t people just get along and do their work?

    2. AndersonDarling*

      It sounds like she is treating her workers like they are siblings. If your manager noticed, I wonder why they aren’t doing anything about it, especially if good ideas are being derailed for half-baked ones.

      1. Bend & Snap*

        Her ideas don’t get any traction either. She basically uses it as a tactic to kill mine.

        I have plenty of ideas that do move forward, but they’re the ones that go directly to my leadership team. The ones I’m required to include her on always get squashed because she pulls that trick every time.

        1. Lily in NYC*

          Since your manager has noticed, can you preempt coworker next time you are required to include her on your project by going straight to your boss the minute she starts piling on with her bad ideas and let him know that she’s doing it again and that you’d like him to speak to her about it?

          1. Bend & Snap*

            I think that kind of borders on tattling. He sees it happening because he’s on the emails.

            1. Lily in NYC*

              No!!! Take what Alison says to heart: talking to a boss about a work issue is not tattling.

          2. Jazzy Red*

            Bend & Snap – since your manager is aware of this, I suggest that you ask him for advice on how to deal with this woman. Reasons: 1) People like being asked for their advice. 2) He might actually have a good idea. 3) You can start a paper trail about this, which might prove helpful moving forward. Since she’s doing this to other people, it really is a big deal, and not at all helpful to the company.

        2. Artemesia*

          Have you discussed this with the manager who noticed. I am thinking of saying. There is a disturbing pattern that I think you have noticed. Consultant consistently quashes projects or derails them. For example, when I suggested X and was directed to work with her on it — she failed to include me in the loop and the project died on the vine. When I suggested project Y and was directed to work with her on it, she did this again and the project has foundered. It was the same with projects A and B. I would really like to be able to deliver to the company and see my initiatives through and wonder if I could not be assigned to work with her. I don’t know what value she is bringing to the company but I do know that she undermines the success of projects I have had to include her on.

      1. Bend & Snap*

        He just said he was planning to address it. I’m sure he did because now most of her shenanigans happen when he’s not looking.

        1. Artemesia*

          “I noticed that Consultant is not undermining projects in front of you now as you apparently addressed this with her but she continues to do this when your back is turned and it is undermining the success of projects. For example a,b,c and x. I would like to request to not be put on projects where I have to work with her as I really want to be able to deliver first rate work to the company.

            1. Jazzy Red*

              And it is NOT tattling! This is the kind of crud that managers (good ones, anyway) need to know about, and want to know about.

        2. Dynamic Beige*

          The totally unprofessional side of me is thinking that everyone in the team needs to meet her in the back parking lot and dress her down. But that of course would be wrong and workplace bullying and all kinds of other bad things. That same side also thinks that looking her straight in the eye and saying “I know what you’re trying to do and I hope you’ve been actively searching for a new job. Because if you keep this up, you’re not going to be here much longer” (or something to that effect) and then frostily dismissing her or walking away. If she’s that much of a pill, she’s going to be the first on the chopping block when layoffs or restructuring happen.

          I think you’re just going to have to do what Lily in NYC said, every time she starts in with it, CC your manager. Every time. If you can in any way request that she is not assigned to your team/projects, try that.

        3. Colette*

          There are two things you can do: keep your manager informed about the behavior that happens when he’s not around, and when she tries to derail the conversation, steer it back to your original idea.

    3. soitgoes*

      When I’ve been competitive at work, it was because I sensed that we were being judged on an unfair rubric. Something like, “Bob is able to stuff more envelopes than you”….when his envelopes were bigger and he was only stuffing them with single sheets of paper, compared to my tiny envelopes and four sheets of paper. Or whatever, but you get the idea. In situations like that, I’ve felt the need to create a show of working quickly or even performing better than others, because when employees are ranked at all in that way, it’s because the employers don’t intend to promote anyone or give them raises.

      Anyway anyway. if this employee is someone who wasn’t always competitive, see if there’s any new pressure coming from somewhere. Are layoffs coming up?

      1. Bend & Snap*

        She’s always been this way. It’s why everyone who has to work with her rolls their eyes and comments on what a giant pain in the ass she is.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Why is your manager bringing it up with you, does he expect you to fix it?

      Why does everyone let her get away with this?

      To me it sounds like your manager lets the department run amok, whoever speaks the loudest/longest has the say in what happens.

  10. Christy*

    Federal resume advice needed:

    The office I’m detailed to is going to create a job for me. I will need to apply through USA Jobs, of course. There will not be too many qualified candidates, because it’ll be an internal-only hire and it requires more SharePoint knowledge than easily 99% and probably 99.8% of my agency has.

    Are there any tips specific to resumes for government jobs? Any other USA Jobs advice? I haven’t applied for a federal job since 2008.

    1. Noelle*

      The resume doesn’t matter that much, but the Knowledge, Skills, and Assessment portion is very important. For EVERY single question, you need to rank yourself as high as possible (seriously, you should probably do the highest rating every time). If you don’t, the algorithms in the computer system will disqualify you even if the agency wants you for a job. So definitely don’t try to be modest!

    2. ElCee*

      Make sure the keywords from the KSA section appear in either your KSA answers or in the resume (if the KSAs are just multiple choice).
      It’s a point system, as you may know, and as Noelle said you have to rate yourself the highest for every question or else you won’t hit the “cutoff” rating of resumes that get sent to the selecting official(s). Vets get automatic extra points so if you are a vet or any of the preference categories apply to you, definitely take advantage of them.

      1. ElCee*

        Oh! Also, don’t be afraid to make your federal resume as long as you need, describing everything you do and your accomplishments in great, somewhat excruciating detail. I’m not being facetious, the regular rules for resumes (brevity, attractiveness) don’t really apply for the federal resume. Really describe your Sharepoint expertise.

    3. JBean*

      Agree with ranking your experience with the highest category. One hiring official told me that if I did something once, then I am an expert in it. On at least one recent application, I was informed that my resume was not even reviewed because of the way I answered the multiple choice questions (i.e., on a few, I didn’t list myself as an expert).

      I think I can tell when a position is written for someone, though. The questions seek very specific experiences, the responses are detailed enough to weed out candidates, and occasionally, the slot is open for a few days to a week. Make sure that the job description isn’t so specific that you get weeded out at the HR stage.

    4. Christy*

      Thanks, everyone!

      Followup: I have 6.5 years with my office, 3.5 as an intern (GS-0344) and 3 as an analyst (GS-0343). My grade level has also increased. Do I put my grades on my resume? Do I differentiate between internship and analyst work? None of my internship work is relevant anymore, but it was still a sizeable bit of work experience. Do I list it as below:

      Government Agency
      Office Name
      Analyst…..March 2012-present
      Intern…..June 2008-March 2012

      or as below:

      Government Agency
      Office Name
      Program Analyst, GS-0343-NN March 2013-present
      Program Analyst, GS-0343-(N-1) March 2012-March 2013
      Intern, GS-0344-(N-2,3,4) June 2008-March 2012

      Or something else?

      1. HP*

        The second one. They like to see progression and they need to see that your time in grade meets the requirements.

    5. North Country*

      The issue of rating yourself as an expert when you may not be came up in my office this week. It may work for you when you’re a known quantity and they want to hire you, but I would make sure to document the relevant experience in your resume. In our situation, a known quantity overrated herself and was dismissed from consideration because we knew she was misrepresenting her qualifications. In interviews I have occasionally asked very pointed questions when candidates rate themselves as an expert but don’t have such experience documented on their resume. My advice as a hiring official is to maybe exaggerate slightly but not to outright lie. Most of the time I don’t even look at the questionnaires because I know that people lie.

      Because I hire frequently and hire a bunch of people at once, I prefer the USAJOBS resume builder format because I can skim it quickly and find the relevant information. However, I put my own resume into the resume builder years ago, exported it into Word and now update the word version where the number of characters is not limited. It’s not the most attractive format but I appreciate it when I have 200 resumes to review.

  11. CrazyCatLady*

    I work for a tiny family company and ugh, the family dynamics are so hard to work with (and also are kind of triggering of my own family issues). I don’t really need advice, but just wanted to vent. I feel very isolated and frustrated working here but will probably have to stick it out for at least another year. I know the dynamics can be weird and frustrating even at non-family owned companies, so switching jobs might not fix things anyway.

    1. Amethyst*

      It adds a whole other level of awkward when the people in tension are family members. There is nothing like two people over you having a fight in front of you when they’re husband and wife. I’m sorry you have to deal with this family’s awkwardness. I hope that something better comes up for you, in a year or whenever.

    2. Bend & Snap*

      I once worked for a small company owned by a married couple and it was the worst experience of my life. Hope your situation improves!

    3. beachlover*

      I feel your pain! I have worked for 3 family owned companies. Two were very professional in keeping their family dynamic out of the work place. However, the third one, what a soap opera! I was the only non family member working in the office. Mom & Dad semiretired owners, daughter did accounting, Son-in-law – Sales and Contract purchasing, Son and Grandson, Plant mgr and production mgr respectively. The daughter and Son would have arguments, so loud that I could hear them thru closed office doors. The son-in-law spent most of his time on the computer doing day trading and buying and selling on ebay (personal stuff). Like I said, it was a soap opera and at sometimes very entertaining. However, I never let it affect my work , and the only way it affect my home , was to provide interesting – “you won’t believe what happend today!” stories to relate to my husband.

      1. CrazyCatLady*

        Now that you mention it, I’ve worked for 3 family-owned companies as well! The other two kept it professional enough that I never noticed any weird dynamics. And ugh, I am one of the only non-family members too. I’m impressed that you never let it affect you much. I can manage at work, but I definitely have to vent at home.

        1. beachlover*

          Well since it never affected my work or me directly, it was easy to sit back and watch the show.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        Two companies with husband/wife bosses and one in the middle that had multiple family members working there. The two married boss couples were pretty good about keeping shit out of the office, though one husband would yell a lot (mostly about work stuff–they didn’t have personal fights in the office).

        The multiple fam one was the one with the only coworker I ever truly hated. The front desk person who had to be around her bailed every other day, and guess who had to sub for her? I worked there for two months and that was more than enough.

    4. Steve G*

      I worked at one back in the day….everyone was always so concerned about what mood the owner was going to be in. Every day. Do this when they are in a good mood, hold off that request because they’re in a bad mood. After a while I started thinking “is the owner really such a dainty flower?”

      1. Beancounter in Texas*

        This totally happens in my family-owned business. What the boss works on day-to-day depends on his mood of the moment. If you want to ask for vacation during what could be a busier part of the month, he’ll more likely cut you slack if he’s in a good mood. Or if you have bad news to deliver, better to do it when he’s upbeat, because he might kill the messenger when he’s not. I chalk it up to human nature. He’s not often grumpy though, usually just stressed.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      Ugh. When family companies are bad, they are really bad. I may have told this story before. I worked one place that suddenly had a problem with the draw being short. Us non-family people knew where the problem was: Son had found funding for his drug habit. It was very tense and very painful as the owner fired non-family workers one by one. Father did the yelling and the mother seemed likewise disconnected from what was going on. I walked out in the middle of an argument over 35 cents.

  12. anonanwanda*

    My company was recently acquired by another one. The expectation of everyone in my part of the organization was that everyone in our part of the organization would be made redundant. This was a valid expectation based on the acquiring company’s philosophy and statements that had been made. Which everyone was pretty OK with – we had a great severance policy that would have been in place and then other payouts from stock options vesting. Well, turns out that they are keeping ~25 employees, including me. I’m dealing with a range of feelings – bitterness, rage, blaming others, numbness – mainly because I made it clear that the new company was not one I was interested in working for to everyone and my manager declined to convey that when asked outright by the new company. Now I’m faced with a choice of holding on and working for an awful place while I find a job or quitting now. I’ve been searching and have some options but no offers yet. Part of me wants to take a stand and not work for a company that I think is shady and awful and has unethical practices and quit as soon as possible, but I fear making that jump. What would you do?

    1. Dani X*

      I would stay until I had an offer, unless you have so much savings that you can be out for a long time. Job searches can take a while nowadays and it is still easier to get a job while you have one.

    2. BRR*

      I’d probably stay and ramp up my job hunt. Part of that being I can’t afford to back up my principles.

    3. Rebecca*

      This happened to me. The work situation in my area is pretty awful, so here I am, stuck in a very reduced role with no opportunities over 4 years later. But, at least I have a job with benefits, such as it is. Taking a stand might make you feel better for about 5 minutes, but if you can’t land a job quickly, have no severance pay, or other means of support, I suspect the good feeling will fade pretty quickly as the bills keep rolling in.

      Have you gone to your manager and asked if you can be considered for the benefits under the WARN notice, if it applies?

      Otherwise, start brushing up your resume and start looking, and in the meantime, I guess you need to just tough it out and wait. I’m so sorry this is happening to you. It really bites.

      1. anonanwanda*

        thanks everyone for comments. Monetarily i will be fine not working for at least 6 months and have options to do some potential consulting in the short term which could lead to a permanent gig. Part of my fear for staying is that this company has a bad reputation in our industry and i don’t want a long-term association to harm my reputation or call into question my ethics.

        some of the others have gone and asked about being severed under the WARN notice (which was issued for this particular transaction). They got a “sorry you now work for new company” response. it is really hard to have someone who is making hundreds of thousands if not millions of this deal tell you that, or give you any platitudes.

        this is so messed up that we are not even getting job descriptions or reasons why we were the “lucky” ones retained. no one from the new company has spoken to us since the day the transaction happened.

        1. Rebecca*

          LOL I still don’t have a job description! Or feedback, because they don’t do yearly reviews either. If I screw up, someone lets me know, that’s for sure – with an email with a zillion people copied. That, combined with some generally nasty managers makes it so much fun to be here. Again, I’m sorry.

          1. anonanwanda*

            thanks! we are all hoping for job descriptions because that could be a way out where we would be eligible for our severance.

            best of luck to you Rebecca!

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Most people can do sprints, it’s the marathons that cause problems. Can you give yourself a deadline? Something like, “I will work for New Company for 3 months and job hunt like crazy. At the end of three months I am out of here no matter what.”

      What I am driving at here, is try, try, try not to spend down your savings. Even if the best you can do is one month at this new company that will stretch your savings just a little further.
      OTH, the new company may be so toxic that the only answer is leave. Right now. I’m not in your shoes, so it’s not fair to say “here is what I would do”. I have walked out before- years ago. I hope I never have to do it again.

  13. Kady*

    Hi everyone! I’m finishing up the second week of New Job and.. I still feel like an outsider. Coworkers are quite nice when I do talk to them, so I’m not worried that they are purposefully shunning me. But most people don’t greet me and I feel like I have to go out of my way to say hello and good night to everyone. I’m a little bummed that nobody has invited me to take lunch with them; I can only say, “Hey guys! Mind if I tag along?” so many times before I feel like a burden. From your experience, how long does it take you to adjust to a new job?

    1. CrazyCatLady*

      Two weeks is such a short period of time! I don’t know how new you are to professional jobs, but if you’re new to it, it could just be an effect of the college atmosphere and environment, where everyone is immediate friends, your romantic relationships form very quickly, etc. But because most people are at work to work, I want to get to know my coworkers more gradually and then eventually I’ll go to lunch with them or become friendly with them.

      It could also just be the culture of that particular workplace. I’ve worked places where everyone ate lunch at their desk and socialized very minimally. I wouldn’t worry yet.

      1. Kady*

        This is only my second job, so I don’t have much to compare to. About the lunch thing.. I’m bummed because my coworkers will go around to eachother’s desks saying “Want to take your lunch break?” or “Let’s go to lunch!” and they’ll skip over my desk. Anyway, maybe they’ll warm up to me. Until then, I can entertain myself. :)

        1. LizNYC*

          Two weeks is a short time. Some offices/people are better than others at inviting newbies to do things. Maybe one day, you could ask a person or two if they wanted to grab lunch together (either at a place or to bring back — whatever your office norm seems to be). Or, for less pressure, go out to grab a coffee mid-morning or mid-afternoon.

        2. A. D. Kay*

          I doubt they are doing that intentionally. They are probably just still operating out of habit and aren’t used to dropping by your desk as well. Heck, some of them might not even remember there’s a new hire on board!

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      A loooong time. I’m sorry– I think people should be really welcoming at first. But it does take a while to get into the groove, especially when you’re earlier in your career. Keep doing what you’re doing; some people take a little longer to warm up, and some may never do so, but greeting people is a good way to show that you’re open.

      However, you don’t need to say good night to everyone, or even hello. :) Just greet the ones you pass or see.

      1. Sparrow*

        Yes, I definitely agree with that last sentence about greeting people that you see. It may depend on office culture, but where I work most people just come and go without saying anything. Two weeks is still pretty early, so hopefully things will change over time!

    3. HeyNonnyNonny*

      Aw, that sucks, but I agree with CrazyCatLady– two weeks isn’t very long. I think it took me a few months before I really felt comfortable with some of my coworkers.

      I think you’ll find that as you work together on projects, you’ll get to be more comfortable with your coworkers– I can name a few people who didn’t really say anything to me until after we’d had to interact for work.

    4. SevenSixOne*

      I’ve never felt like part of the team for at least the first month or two, even when no one’s actively shunning me. It seems like that’s about how long it takes new people to feel like part of the team to me, too. Assuming everyone’s polite and welcoming to you and there are no other signs of bad culture fit, I wouldn’t sweat it too much.

    5. Nanc*

      I’m on board the two weeks isn’t that long train. If you’re the first new hire they’ve had in awhile they may not remember that the little things help in the onboarding process. Some thoughts/suggestions:

      1. Not everyone is a “greeting person.” I’m not a morning person at all. If you greet me, I’ll respond, but my brain is slow in the a.m. I will give you a big old enthusiastic “have a great evening!” at the end of the day!
      2. Ask for lunch recommendations. As in, “Hi new coworker, I really like [your favorite lunch]–can you recommend somewhere close that has it?” You’ll get a recommendation and maybe an invite to lunch (I hope!).
      3. Make some notes about all this stuff so that when there’s another new hire you can help them get comfortable quickly.
      4. Make a note on your calendar and come back to the Friday open thread in a month or so and give us an update!

    6. Shell*

      Agree with the others that two weeks really isn’t a long time at all.

      I’ve been in my new job for just under two months, and I just noticed the other day that some of my coworkers are now initiating jokes with me/looping me into jokes with others. Give it some time.

    7. afiendishthingy*

      More than two weeks! I went to a social gathering at a coworker’s house (annual event, most of the office comes) about 6 weeks into my current job and felt REALLY awkward. Now I’m 8 months in and feel very assimilated. I feel like the social adjustment to a new job usually takes about 3 months for me. Feeling like I really know the job takes a little longer – I began feeling like I might have a clue about my current position about 6 months in. I’m still in that “might possibly have a clue or can usually fake having a clue” phase!

    8. Not So NewReader*

      Agreeing with everyone else that two weeks is not very long. They have their own set thing that they do. I think a good strategy is to take an interest in them. If you can sincerely show interest in something they are talking about or doing, the let that interest flow. Yes, this can feel like you are initiating every conversation. It won’t be this way forever, just for a little bit. And yes, it can feel like all you do is listen to them talk about themselves. It will change, bear with the process.

    9. Sweetheart of the Rodeo*

      I’m 12 weeks in to my new job and feel like a total outsider; I never feel comfortable (open office). I’m much older than everyone else so that doesn’t help at all. Hang in there. Don’t take anything personally. Just keep being friendly but try not to seem too needy or vulnerable. You’ll be okay. (I may not, but you will be!).

  14. Chai Latte*

    My first time on the other side of the interview! It feels so weird to look at other people’s resumes, but the 4 page length (for an entry-level, part-time position), just years for dates (literally have seen 2014-2014), and no numbers or achievements is driving me crazy and making me greatly appreciate finding AAM!

    1. Spiky Plant*

      The “only years, no months” thing drives me NUTS. It really looks like they’re trying to hide something!

      1. Dusty*

        Really? It shouldn’t really matter to you, especially of it looks continuous. If they took a few months in between to find jobs that would raise flags. I think this way is better.

  15. Kelly L.*

    I try not to be a curmudgeon about language, I really do. I don’t want to wake up one day and be the person tsking and going “These kids these days and their twerking. Is that like tweeting?”

    But the last few months or so, something’s really been jumping out at me, and I’m wondering, why does everybody say “around” now instead of “about”? As in, “we’re going to have a discussion around goals for the year.” What is this for? And is it frowned upon to actually say “about” now, or is either one okay?

        1. Anonsie*

          Yeah usually the weirdly shifted words (like that time we were talking about “having an ask”) are coming from the upper management crowd.

          1. Bend & Snap*

            I think that was in response to something I posted. “What’s the ask?” is the common turn of phrase in my company. Nobody terms it a request or anything. It’s “here’s the ask.”

    1. nona*

      Never heard this before. It doesn’t make sense!

      Another weird one: I’ve been hearing older people at work use “get with” to mean “talk to.” To my age group, “get with” has a VERY DIFFERENT MEANING.

      1. Karowen*

        Oh weird – I’m only in my 20s so I definitely know the wink wink meaning of “get with” but I would never assume that this is what anyone meant (even in my social life)! I say that I need to get with people all the time.

    2. Jillociraptor*

      That is one of those nails-on-a-chalkboard things for me! It sounds so passive and sneaky to me for some reason, like we don’t want to directly say that we’re going to set goals “on” or “about” or “for” something, just kind of around it?

    3. Anonsie*

      I have never heard anyone do that as far as I know, though I am easily picturing it coming from some of the vary business jargony people I know who are always making action items for their deliverables and having asks for me and whatnot.

  16. AndersonDarling*

    I’m bummed. My husband had a job lined up, but he needed to wait for enough work to come in before he could start working. It’s been a month, so he stopped by the shop to see how things were going. Well, the guy who left (who’s job my husband was supposed to get) was fired from his new job and came back, and the manager hired him back.
    So now my husband needs to wait another month or maybe longer.

    1. KathyGeiss*

      This is strange. Is your husband still looking for other work? I would be if I were him. There’s a good chance everything will work out with this job but it’s strange enough that Id be cautious.

      1. AndersonDarling*

        He stopped looking when he was offered this job. It doesn’t pay well, but it is in the field he wants to work in so we were willing to wait a while. But now he is starting to look again. Unfortunately, the first matching job he found is a “dream job” at an awesome shop. Now I’m caught up in the “this would be so perfect” and “if you had that job then…”

        1. Me*

          Same thing happened to my hubs. He did part time there for a while but it didn’t work out. Partly because the boss turned out to be an alcoholic, but also the whole ‘I promised you a ft job but then this guy I told you I hate came back so, sorry, guess i lied’ was a very clear premonition of the way things were handled there.

          This place didn’t bother to tell your hubs that they’d hired this other guy back, and he’s been waiting around for them to call him and tell him when to come in? Keep looking. It won’t end well.

          Sorry. :/

  17. K.J.*

    With a resume, does it matter if you use left formatting or center formatting? What about center formatting some parts (name, section titles such as education, job history) and left aligning the rest?

    1. Kelly L.*

      I center format my name and contact info at the top (like a letterhead, kind of), and then left format everything else.

      1. Vanishing Girl*

        I agree with this. If you put section headings in the center and everything else on the left, those headings will get lost on the page and will also look strange.

        I’d just keep centered for your identifying info at the top.

    2. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I see what you mean, K.J., and I think centering the contact and section heads can help visually distinguish them from the rest of the text. But there’s nothing wrong with left aligning those parts either, especially if the font size and weight draws attention to those parts anyway.

    3. thisisit*

      blocks of text should be left formatted for easier reading, imho. i think everything else doesn’t really matter. i do find center-aligning headings makes them stand out a bit, but since a resume is only 1-2 pages, i don’t think anything would really get lost.

    4. KathyGeiss*

      Left formatting is easier to read. But, I’ve been putting my name and contact info on the right hand side for some time. Think about how someone flips through a stack of papers, they always flip through from the top right. So this way, my name is where they can see it.

      But, this is probably one of those things that doesn’t matter at all and matters even less with most things being electronic.

    5. Artemesia*

      Definitely use left formatting for the body — centering is fine at the top.

      The whole point of a resume for the hirer is to be able to quickly scan and grasp. Anything in the format which makes it hard to quickly spot things is a bad idea.

    6. A. D. Kay*

      I have mine set FLRR (flush left, ragged right). I have my name in a large point size at the top left, then my contact info in the top right. To do that and make everything line up properly, I inserted a table with no borders to avoid the endless tabs of doom. (Not a fan of MS Word–can you tell?)

      1. A. D. Kay*

        Oh yeah, and avoid ALL CAPS in your headings. Hard to read. Just use a larger point size than the body copy.

        1. nof*

          Ooh, anyone else agree? I use all caps for section headings and my name (sometimes) because I think it looks authoritative.

    7. Sadsack*

      Center formatting is difficult to read, in my opinion. Except for my name and contact info at the top of the page, I use left formatting. It makes it easier to scan down the page. All the headers are right there on the left margin where everything else starts, instead of the reader having to look for them.

  18. A Jane*

    Any advice on how deciding who speaks first during a status update meeting?

    We hold daily check-ins where everyone gives their short status update. Attendees join via phone and in person. I usually have everyone in the room give an update first, then people on the phone. I also thought about keeping track of who joined the meeting first, and then go in that order.

    I hate having to ask “who wants to speak first”. It’s super annoying

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Point and “shoot”. This can be totally arbitrary. Just pick one. Say quite clearly, “Wakeen, why don’t you start today?” and then move around in a circle or call people out.

      1. Kelly L.*

        I’ve seen both of the above work fine. Either arbitrarily starting somewhere and then go around in a circle (obviously complicated by the phone people), or having a set order that people go in every time.

      2. Calacademic*

        I think variety can work better; my old boss used to get “stuck” on whoever went first. So if Abby Adelie got called first in every meeting her problems would be analyzed to death while Yonni Zackevsky would barely get a word in. Even competent managers (note, not my old boss) can have this happen which may be what A Jane wants to address.

        I think the point and shoot method works well. Some weeks, do variety and pick the phone people first.

      3. Anonsie*

        This is what we often do. I was warned on hire to make the list alphabetical so no one feels like they’re being ranked, even, with the low-toned caution that made me think that it has been a problem in the past.

    2. NacSacJack*

      We go either alphabetical by name or in order of the list of namees that shows up in the online meeting. All good meetings need a leader, even if they are peers.

    3. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I tend to call on everyone on the phone first, since I’ve had more than a few meetings where people on the phone had to leave early or dropped off the call due to technical issues, but that’s just me. I just go by a list of topics we need to cover, and even then we often wind up jumping around. I keep the list in a Word or Notepad document (Word helps because I can easily highlight the person or topic that has been covered and change it to strikethrough font. :) )

    4. EmilyG*

      I set it up so that whoever arrives last has to go first, and then we either proceed clockwise, or, more often people remember what order they arrived in and pipe up in that order. It leads to a certain amount of joking around (in a good way) and everyone arrives on time to pretend to avoid having to go first (but nobody really minds). If I have announcements, I do them according to the same order, so I’m playing by my own rules.

    5. Beezus*

      We have a defined sequence – it’s a manufacturing company, and the people closest to the customer give their updates, and then we work backward through the process (so, transportation, then warehouse, then production.) Within each subgroup, it’s numerical – each division has a number. The person leading the meeting (me some days) has a written list and calls on each group in order. So, transportation gives their update first, when they wrap up, I reply, “Thank you. Warehouse 1?” and then Warehouse 1 proceeds with theirs.

      1. Beezus*

        I also record the call when I lead, because I’m supposed to ask probing questions AND keep the meeting moving AND send out notes later, and I can’t do the first two if I’m also scribbling or typing. I do make some notes, but they’re related to follow-ups. After the meeting, I listen through my recording and type up actual notes for the meeting and email them out (I also take emailed updates from anyone who wasn’t able to attend, and put those in the notes). Nobody knows I record it, I don’t want to weird anyone out.

    6. Ultraviolet*

      I used to have meetings where the boss always called on people in the same order and very rarely (less than one in ten times) got to the last person on the list. Kind of frustrating. If I were running a similar meeting I think I’d establish a list and run down it, but start at a different spot on the list each time. So one week we’d hear from Alice->Bob->Charlie, and then next week Bob->Charlie->Alice, etc (not that the list need be alphabetical). I realize that sounds like serious overkill if you’re not concerned about perpetually missing someone though.

  19. HeyNonnyNonny*

    Women’s office fashion: a complaint and a question.

    Does anyone else hate how all women’s suits are designed to either be wide trousers or supertight? I do NOT need the office to see my butt’s shape, thankyouverymuch.

    Also, I know there are a lot of DMV folks around here– does anyone know of a good tailor, preferably on the Green Line? I am having zero luck so far.

    1. Sparrow*

      Not sure what brands you’ve tried, but the Julie fit from Ann Taylor loft is a bit roomy in the thighs/butt without being wide all the way down the leg. It is hard to find pants that fit. I ordered a bunch of stuff online in multiple sizes and ended keeping one pair.

      1. HeyNonnyNonny*

        Ooh, thanks– I’ll have to look into those, it sounds like exactly what I want. I already have about 4 pairs of grey pants at home that need to be returned, too…

    2. ElCee*

      Not on the Green Line, but Jean on Georgia Ave in Wheaton is amazing. He is really, really good and prices are very reasonable. Google “Custom Designs and Alterations Silver Spring”

      1. HeyNonnyNonny*

        Silver Spring is doable for me! At this point, I’d be willing to drive to Maine for a good tailor. Thanks for the rec.

    3. thisisit*

      I’m not in the DMV anymore, but I remember a good tailor/dry cleaner at the NW corner of 5th and F Sts in the apartment complex. So that would be Gallery Place, I think.

      I hate pantsuits. They all look terrible on me. Weirdly, just regular pants are totally fine, and I can pair them with a complementary jacket.

      1. HeyNonnyNonny*

        Hm, I’ll try to scope that one out.

        I have a deep love for pantsuits….they just usually don’t love me back :(

    4. Allison Mary*

      This is why I hate pants with a fiery passion. I’ve started wearing professional dresses to work almost exclusively – they’re way more forgiving of fluctuations in my weight.

      I do need to buy a suit soon, for the upcoming recruiting season (I’m finishing an accounting program), but I’m pretty sure I’m going to buy a skirt suit and not a pant suit.

      1. HeyNonnyNonny*

        Oh, I’m the opposite! Pants rule, and skirts drool!
        (I just can’t wear skirts because I am super pale and always get cold. But I wish pants were easier…)

        1. Allison Mary*

          Oh, I almost never let my legs show, haha (unless it’s summer and really hot). I wear either tall boots with very opaque leggings, or ankle boots with thick tights. And most of my dresses fall at or slightly below the knee (I have one dress that is just barely above the knee). Even in the summer, sometimes I just wear lighter tights – preferably not nylons, but some kind of cotton blend, at least.

          1. thisisit*

            yeah, i’m always in tights and sometimes nylons with skirts. but i’m ok with pants on their own. just not the pants as part of suits.

        2. Spiky Plant*

          Leggings! I loooove leggings! The worst thing about it not being winter anymore is that the sweaterdress/legging combo will quickly become unsustainable.

          Long skirts are also wonderful! Breezy but sill covered.

      2. CA Admin*

        I find dresses to be less forgiving of weight gain. Then again, I gain all my weight around my stomach.

          1. HeyNonnyNonny*

            Yeah, it goes to my butt, too. Which makes pants inappropriate, and skirts ride up.

  20. SP*

    Hi! I’ve got a question: I just got a job offer (by phone) at a state agency I interviewed at a few weeks ago. It involves an out of state move. Apparently their policy is that they can’t provide written offer letters, and while she could provide tentative info on salary, it’s not confirmed until whatever it is they check on the first day. Is that just quirky government bureaucracy/hiring? I’ve heard they can have odd policies. Thanks

    1. Not Today Satan*

      They don’t tell you the pay until you’ve already showed up for your first day?!

      1. SP*

        She told me the pay by phone. There’s also a stated range that it wouldn’t be outside in the job description.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Wait, so she did tell you the pay but won’t put it in writing? Or hasn’t told you the exact pay at all?

          The latter is unacceptable. The former is fine; some places do that. Send an email confirming the details (including pay) and ask her to reply to confirm you have everything right. That’s your written confirmation.

    2. HR Shenanigans*

      Something fishy is going on. They may not commonly do written offers (why?!) but they should be able to, unless I’m missing something…

      As for salary, that should also be confirmed before you start, preferably in writing, along iwth benefits.

    3. Nobody*

      This is not at all normal! No reasonable employer would expect you to accept a job — especially with an out-of-state move — without a written offer that includes the exact salary. What reason did she give for not being able to provide a written offer? That makes no sense.

        1. Nobody*

          Wow, really? Did they say why not? I’ve never heard of an employer refusing to provide an offer in writing. Now, I’m not talking about a signed, hard-copy letter on official company letterhead; an e-mail with the title, salary, and start date would suffice. I would never quit my job and move to start a new job at an employer that is not willing to write those basic details in an e-mail. I don’t see any reason for them not to put those things in writing, unless it’s some kind of top secret agency. Even if the offer is contingent upon something (e.g., background check, drug screening, probationary period), they can easily include that fact with the offer.

            1. Nobody*

              How strange! Even in a small organization, it’s hard to believe no one else has ever asked to get the offer information in writing. The fact that they would say, “We don’t provide written offers,” would imply that people have asked and they’ve made a policy of not providing written offers. The idea to send them an e-mail with the offer details in writing and asking them to confirm is a good one, and I’d be pretty suspicious if they refused to do that.

    4. Brett*

      Sometimes the approval processes involved mean they cannot give you a written offer.

      When I was hired by a local government agency, I was not actually “hired” until several months after I started. My hiring had to go through 3 readings in front of the council.

      Also, sometimes there is a mandated by law probationary period. During the probationary period you are paid a set wage, and you cannot be extended a formal offer. Once the probationary period is done, then you are given a written offer for full position and your pay is brought up to the level of the formal offer.

      Another situation that occurs with government is conditional offers, especially for any agency that does law enforcement (e.g. state police, dnr, emergency management). In these situations, you are given a conditional offer (sometimes written, sometimes verbal) but not a formal written offer until the completion of your background check. The background might not complete until several weeks after your start date. At that point you get the written formal offer (and I have seen this lead to situations where employees were terminated at home via phone call, since they could not be allowed back in the building after failing background).

      1. SP*

        Thanks, this is very helpful! From what I know, it sounds like that might be the case. I spoke with my a couple of other people whose opinions I trust and showed them the email conversation I’ve had with the woman who’d be my supervisor, and they seemed pretty confident that I was okay, especially since I don’t know what they’d find in my background that would make me fail a background check (my life hasn’t been that exciting).

  21. Lizzie*

    Curious to get people’s take on this case.

    There was a court case in Belfast this week where a bakery (run by Christians) was brought to court for refusing to bake a cake with ‘Support Gay Marriage’ written on it. The guy who had placed the order had it accepted initially, and was then informed the order wouldn’t be fulfilled.

    The Equality Commission (taking the case on behalf of the customer) say there was discrimination on the grounds of sexuality (illegal in the UK), claiming if the word gay had been replaced by heterosexual there would have been no refusal to fulfill the order. The bakery say it wasn’t discrimination on the grounds of sexuality; they had no issue with serving gay customers and had served the customer in question before. But they said they had the right to services they sold.

    Who was right/wrong?

    1. HeyNonnyNonny*

      Ugh, that sounds like what’s going on over here with a pizza parlor that claimed they would serve gay customers but would not cater a gay wedding– they had to shut down temporarily.

      1. HeyNonnyNonny*

        (In case it wasn’t clear, I don’t think discrimination is OK. On the other hand, I vote with my dollars and I’m not sure a court case is necessary when potential customers can just say ‘No, I will not give this guy my money.’)

        1. Sunflower*

          I kind of feel this way. I also have seen that once it gets out that ‘X place discriminates’, it does damage to the reputation and the business ends up having to back track to save face. With social media nowadays, the minute you decide to say ‘no’, you’ve screwed yourself even if you don’t get sued.

        2. The Cosmic Avenger*

          Unfortunately, people supporting that pizzeria’s bigotry have already donated over $500K, so voting with our dollars isn’t going to do anything.

          1. some1*

            As soon as I read about it I thought they were trying to set themselves up as martyrs for the cause. I mean, how many weddings have you been to where they serve pizza?

            1. HeyNonnyNonny*

              Oh, I didn’t think of it that way…wouldn’t it be great if they turned around and donated all the $500K to some sort of nice, equality-driven organization?

      2. AcademicAnon*

        There’s a great commentary by Penn (of Penn & Teller) about it’s people right to be stupid in regards to this exact situation.

    2. AndersonDarling*

      I don’t think the issue is with who placed the order, the issue is what was ordered. I think every craftsperson has a right to decide what they want to make. They could refuse to make a cake in the form of a sexual organ, or a cake covered in racial slurs. Or if the baker hates blue, they could refuse to make a blue cake.

      1. Christina*

        Except having a customer come in and ask for a blue cake and replying “Sorry, we don’t make blue cakes” is just an odd business practice, it can’t really be viewed as an act of discrimination against a minority group.

        I get the craftsperson argument, but that makes more sense coming from a freelancer than an established business that serves walk-in customers.

        1. AndersonDarling*

          But if a minority asked for a blue cake and baker said they wouldn’t make it, then it could be considered discrimination.
          Even large businesses have the right to refuse service to anyone. In this case, it sounds like the baker was willing to serve the patron, just not fill that particular order.

          1. INTP*

            I don’t think minorities and blue cakes are as closely related as homosexuality and cakes that say “Support gay marriage.” A better analogy would be a cake saying “Support the NAACP” – would it be less racist to refuse to bake it just because the bakery doesn’t know for sure the race of the person who called in the order?

    3. thisisit*

      I’m been watching this from south of the border (especially as we’re going to referendum on same sex marriage in May). I’m kind of torn on this. What if they baked the cake and did all the decorating except that part, and gave the customer the frosting to do it themselves (with a discount, etc)?

      On the other hand, it’s a good point that the key issue is the phrase “gay marriage”. It would be one thing to refuse to write hate speech. And another thing to refuse to write something not contentious (“I love puppies!”). What if they refused to make a cake that said “I support interracial marriage”?

      Then again, what if someone comes in and wants a cake that says “I don’t support gay marriage” – could a baker refuse to write that?

      I think it’s one thing to refuse a customer all together. But if the bakery is willing to bake a wedding cake that just said “Congratulations” for all manners of couples, but just not willing to write this phrase, I think it’s not such a clear cut issue.

      1. AndersonDarling*

        I think it also depends on how the patron was treated. Was the baker sympathetic and kind when they explained they could not fill the order? Or were they cruel and belittling? I think that makes the difference between business and discrimination.

        1. ThursdaysGeek*

          Maybe, maybe not. As Anonsie describes below, in the case of the flower shop, it’s been reported that the proprietor was on good terms with the couple, sincerely apologized for not being willing to provide the flowers, and thought they had gone away with a mutual understanding.

          It appears her objection isn’t to providing the flowers themselves, but that she thinks it requires her to be at the wedding, doing setup, and thus is taking part in the wedding ceremony. She’s sold them flowers many times before, doesn’t discriminate in her hiring, but on this one, she’s not backing down at all. The first ruling has been against her, with a very small fine, and she isn’t taking it. It appears that she is willing to lose her business and everything else over it, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it doesn’t end up at the Supreme Court. I’ve not read anything that has pictured her as anything other than polite and apologetic and completely unyielding.

      2. HeyNonnyNonny*

        This also happened– it was sort of bakery entrapment, from what I could tell, but an activist requested a cake to say something like “Marriage: One Man, One Woman” and then tried to sue when the baker refused.

        I have to say that there are way too many cake and food-related lawsuits going on.

        1. AndersonDarling*

          I was thinking about this too, most of these cases involve bakers. Why do we have to pick on bakers?

          1. HeyNonnyNonny*

            Bakers gonna bake, bake, bake, bake, bake, and the haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate…

          2. Elizabeth West*

            Because they make wedding cakes.

            I personally think suing is a waste of time and money. If the bakers are bigots, it’s much easier to go somewhere else and then tell EVERY SINGLE PERSON YOU CAN FIND that they refused on [insert discriminatory grounds here]. Don’t scream, don’t yell, just tweet/Yelp it. “Went to God’s Little Bakery and they said no gays [or whatever] allowed.” If people want to go to them, they can, and if they’d like to avoid them, they can do that too.

            If they’re backed by a religious freedom law (just typing that makes me feel like I need to wash my hands), suing would be useless anyway. But things are changing–we went through this same crap during the Civil Rights Movement. Soon, being like this won’t be compatible with running a public-facing business.

    4. Anonsie*

      I have some mixed feelings about this because on the one hand, I think you should be able to refuse non-essential services on political grounds regardless of what your views are. On the other hand, human rights issues are often politicized, making the line of what’s a political stance and what’s discrimination rather blended sometimes. I’m not sure I feel comfortable taking a firm stance even though I very much want to say it’s obviously discrimination.

      This actually comes after a really similar American case where a gay couple had frequented a florist for years and, when they got engaged, asked the florist to be a vendor for their wedding. She refused on the grounds that she opposed same sex marriage, and the couple sued. She argued the same thing– it wasn’t discrimination because she had served them and been a friend to them for years, she was not against gay people just gay marriage and that was a political issue. I would argue that doesn’t entirely follow, but I see how it could for someone who thinks differently than I do.

      1. INTP*

        Yeah, in an ideal world and on principle I agree that you should be able to refuse non-essential services on personal belief grounds. If I owned a business I would obviously not refuse to serve social conservatives, but I would also not cater their pro-life/anti-gay-marriage/anti-feminist organization’s fundraiser. I would be VERY pissed if the law required me to do this.

        At the same time, when you are dealing with commonly discriminated against groups, sometimes you have a situation where if people are allowed to discriminate then the minority group will have a hard time finding access to services at all due to prevailing discrimination. In a major city this is less of a concern but in a rural, conservative area, a few vendors’ personal beliefs could mean that a gay couple basically can’t plan a wedding at all. Sometimes the law has to force acceptance.

        1. Anonsie*

          This is a great summary of my conflict here. The weeds I get tangled in with that last point, though, is that leaves us legislating who constitutes a commonly discriminated against group, and that seems like a rather dangerous precedent to set considering the people who will be most successful with pushing their legislative agendas are predominantly not people in need of protection. I can see the unfortunate directions that could go.

        2. Anx*

          I’m from the US.

          I think it’s wrong to refuse wedding services to gay people if you’re in an industry that commonly intersects with the wedding industry (catering, invitations, etc.)

          But it also bothers me that business owners can be sued in states that don’t have gay marriage. I lived in a blue state with a heavy Catholic influence and Republican governor. It really bothered me that the state was allowed to discriminate but small business owners were held to a higher standard.

    5. INTP*

      That’s a tough one. I think the bakery was morally wrong that’s more due to holding their beliefs in the first place, not the cake. Legally, I don’t know. I see their point in that if it were my bakery I would not kick customers out based on their views but I wouldn’t want to bake a cake that said “Oppose gay marriage” – I would see serving those customers versus baking a cake promoting their views as separate things.

  22. Not Today Satan*

    Adventures in awful phone interviews: I applied to a job in early Feb. Two days ago, a man called me saying that he was calling from Teapots Co. and that I had applied to a job there (didn’t name the job). Now, *thankfully* the company has a unique name, so I did happen to remember the job. Then his first two questions were: “What is your understanding of the job?” and “What do you think the job will look like day to day?” Um…. you tell me?!?!?

    I was eye-rolling so hard… how exasperating. What are these interviewers thinking??

    I did somehow make it to the next level though, hah.

    1. AndersonDarling*

      I’ve had phone interviews with 3rd party interviewers. They couldn’t give any information about the position that wasn’t listed in the ad and they had a script of questions that they didn’t understand. When I asked one to clarify what the question was asking (are you asking about experience with workplace environment or software?) they said I should answer however I thought best.
      Those companies should save their $$ and just send a survey with the interview questions.

    2. Steve G*

      This is annoying, thankfully it is happening less in this job search for me…more people are emailing to schedule phone screens……..

      1. Steve G*

        pressed enter too soon..

        Also wanted to say that I got a rejection email from a company where the phone interviewer was horrible (didn’t talk, etc.). I wonder how you pass an interview where the interviewer is socially awkward like that….maybe there are people that just keep talking and somehow hit on the right points, with no help from the interviewer?

  23. Overthinking Anon*

    I’m the person from a month or so back who was seriously overthinking whether to apply for a job that I thought might be too senior a title and also I’d had a weird experience interviewing with the organization a few years ago. I did apply and have a Skype interview next week! Eeek! I’m excited and nervous. Also happy that it’s Skype because I’m a lot more comfortable with that than the phone.

    1. thisisit*

      good luck (and good for you!)! have you done a skype interview before? make sure to test the lighting, position of the camera, etc, and practice looking into the camera (not the screen).

      1. Overthinking Anon*

        Thanks! I haven’t done interviews but I’ve done a fair number of meetings on Skype so I already have my setup in mind. And it will be so much less harrowing than on the phone! I hate not being able to see people’s reactions and when there are a bunch of people sitting in a room together on the other end, and you can’t tell their voices apart…

  24. Applying for own job*

    I am currently working as a contractor (definitely correctly categorized!) and due to some new company regulations I need to go through a re-compete, applying/interviewing again against others for my contract renewal. I’ve been working in my position for almost 3 years. Does anyone have insight on what the interview part may be like? I feel like it will be a little weird because my interviewer will already know about everything I’m saying. And then it’s not like I’ll have any questions for her-I already work here!

    1. Happy Lurker*

      Seems like it’s just a formality. You will probably both sit down and chuckle about the silliness of it.

    2. Mz. Puppie*

      I’ve been here. My big advice is that you take the interview seriously. Prepare, show up dressed for interview, the whole nine. When I went through this process, every contractor was renewed into their own job *except* the one person who didn’t take it seriously and assumed she could show up in her regular jeans and just BS with the interviewers. You have to show respect for the interview process, even though it’s stupid that you have to do it.

      As long as you’re prepared to answer interview questions (with lots of examples from your current job, that apply to the new job, because it’s the same job…) then you’ll be fine.

  25. Sparrow*

    I have been a Chocolate Teapot system analyst at the same company for 14 years. My job is to write the requirements that the developers use to make changes to our software. I used to support the software systems that are used for designing and building teapots. I’m quite familiar with these systems because I’ve worked with the developers on the initial requirements and design of many of the different components.

    A few months ago, my old boss asked if I would be interested in moving to another team to support a new (to me) software system. They have had a lot of work and needed some extra resources. Also, the lead system analysts and developers for this system are made up of contractors, not employees. Management is concerned that the contractors hold a great deal of system knowledge. There is a risk of them leaving the company or possibly not having their contracts renewed.

    Since I am an employee of Chocolate Teapots, Inc. the goal is for me to become a lead analyst for this new system similar to my role with the teapot design system.

    After all those years of closely working with the teapot design system, it is difficult to start all over with something where I am a beginner. There’s no formal training or documentation, so I’m just sort of learning as I go. Due to some other changes within the company, there haven’t been many new projects coming in so I haven’t had much of a chance to learn how to write requirements for this new system.

    In conversations I’ve had with my manager he’s indicated that the lead people (contractors) have a “strangle hold” on the system and are doing things “under the covers”. It seems like he thinks they are trying to keep things secretive in order to ensure their job security. I actually had the chance to travel and meet these people on person and I didn’t get that impression. They seemed quite knowledgeable and answered any questions I had. I didn’t get the sense that they were withholding information.

    I just recently found out that the lead people for this system (contractors) may be leaving the company. Moving away from using contractors is something happening company-wide. For me, that means I would be the main person supporting this system that I barely know anything about.

    My manager has told me to set up meetings to “pick the brains” of those that might be leaving and to learn as much as possible in the next few months. The problem is that I’m still so new that I’m not even sure what questions to ask. And as I mentioned above, there’s just not a lot of work for me to do right now where I can even get experience. I am concerned about how effectively I’ll be able to do my job without anyone with more knowledge/experience to provide guidance and training.

    I wish I could just download stuff into my brain like The Matrix. I’m going to do my best to review existing requirements and come up with questions and I’ve been listening in on conference calls to see what information I can pick up. Any other suggestions?

    1. ThursdaysGeek*

      Ask where things are and how to access them: where are any existing documents kept? Where is the source code? Where is the database? What passwords are needed? What other systems integrate with this system? Who uses the system? Where are the testing documents? In other words, try to find out where the pieces are, so you can then dig in and figure out how they all work together. You want a big idea of the entire system and enough information so you can figure out the details for yourself.

      1. NacSacJack*

        +1 Sit with them for a few days and mimic/shadow whatever they do on daily basis. Get yourself cc’d on any and all ongoing email correspondence. Find out what projects they have planned for the year. Find out what major events take place over the course of a year. Doesn’t have to start on January, could be May through April.

    2. Dr. Johnny Fever*

      If the archs and engineers are freezing you out, try talking to your QA personnel. They tend to identify more with analysts and often have as much system knowledge as the engineers. Additionally, they have the business rationale for the user perspective, and they should have conditions that document the system functions inside and out, including exceptions and errors.

      Use that info to start mapping your own system architecture to verify with the engineers. Even if they aren’t hiding anything, a typical shop will have less documentation then you really want, and the really good stuff will be out of date. It’s almost a guarantee. :)

      Good luck!

      1. Sparrow*

        You are definitely right about not having enough documentation. It was the same way with my previous team. Everyone is so busy writing new requirements and code, there’s never any time to go back and properly document existing functionality. :-)

        I’ve been tasked with training a replacement for my old system, so I’ve actually started doing some documentation as part of that process. Thanks for the advice!

    3. Sparrow*

      Thanks everyone! Luckily, I don’t feel like I”m being frozen out. When I have needed help for the small projects I’ve worked on, I’ve gotten guidance and answers. I think I’m just feeling a bit overwhelmed with knowing where to start with asking questions.

      I do have access to the existing system requirements, so I’ll start digging through that and taking some notes and documenting questions. I think I’m just feeling a bit overwhelmed with knowing where to start with asking questions so I appreciate the specific suggestions.

      1. Dr. Johnny Fever*

        I’ve done this a few times, and it’s daunting each time. The fact that you’re going in not knowing what to ask is actually a good thing – it means you have an open mind and understand your learning curve. Over time, your new team will appreciate that quality and the questions that come with it.

        I didn’t mean to imply intentional freeze-out, just that teapot engineers are focused on building teapots. Building teapots takes priority. That’s all. This is often why you see incomplete teapot reqs and design docs.

        I highly recommend use cases or activity diagrams to get a feel for the capabilities and system transactions. They give a good deal of context to the reqs. Start with happy path – everything is successful – then fill in variations or exceptions as separate branches from the happy path trunk. If you aren’t familiar with use cases, I recommend reading up on Cockburn’s philosophy (pronounced Co-burn, hahaha).

        One time, I went to a team that had no architecture docs, just collections of requirements. I couldn’t sort things out. I talked to some engineers and the QA manager and sketched with pen and paper as they talked me through the tiers and systems. I used those sketches to create models for each set of capabilities, which we later used to simplify test support evaluation and *show* the complexity of a request rather than describe it. Create what you find valuable, and others will find value you didn’t even see.

  26. Is This Legal*

    Which department has bad rep at your company? I’m an Accountant and we get a bad rep for being “needy.” Personally I think HR takes the trophy.

      1. Is This Legal*

        Come to think of it legal never responds to our emails unless we copy our director. Arrr

      2. HeyNonnyNonny*

        Seconding legal. They have to edit everything, even if it’s late/perfect/less than a page long!

    1. AndersonDarling*

      At my old job, accounting had a bad rep for not being responsive. At current job, the Worst Department Award changes based on which area has the worst management.

    2. Lily in NYC*

      Payroll. Oh my god, they are just so incompetent and the head guy is a bully whom I saw try to beat up a random guy on the street for accidentally bumping in to him. I check my paystub very carefully because they mess up constantly. But the jokes on them – my dept.. (we do a lot of in-house strategy) has been asked to find a way to outsource them because they suck so hard.

      1. Sara*

        Payroll is the weak link where I work as well. They are pretty good about paying regular, full-time employees accurately, but they just get totally baffled by the part-time folks and have royally screwed up checks for people going on/returning from FMLA leave several times this year.

    3. Sospeso*

      Probably HR, although I am not sure it’s warranted. My favorite example of this: The termination an HR person sat in on, in which the employee’s manager repeatedly apologized to the employee (“Oh, I am so sorry about this HR policy, so sorry.”). Because, yes, it’s our *company’s* attendance policy that is the problem, not your employee’s excessive absenteeism or your unassertive management style. I mean, more than 16 unscheduled absences in the past year? Come on.

    4. thisisit*

      We hated communications (always misinterpreting the research). Legal and HR came second because there was always policies on things, but they were never written down anywhere….

    5. TNTT*

      I’m in Legal, and I think we are certainly the most hated.

      Related to this, to those of you who said Legal was the icky one at your jobs, do you have any advice or suggestions on how can we change to be less hate-able? Is there something you’re not getting from your Legal depts that you wish you were?

      1. thisisit*

        i don’t know if this is true everywhere, but our legal department was just so vague and opaque about everything. where there was a written policy on something, everything was cool. but when it wasn’t written down, legal would just give us an answer (though never in any timely way) and when we would push back (especially when asking for something in writing), we’d get a non-answer. i got that sometimes it was because some things are just case-by-case, but then we had to go back to partners/funders and try and explain why the decision was made the way it was, with little information on that why.

        1. Anonsie*


          If your results vary wildly depending on who in that department gets your paperwork, there’s a big problem.

      2. AVP*

        I would have said Legal had I answered quickly enough…unfortunately though I think it’s less about the people in Legal not meeting our needs but just hating what they represent, and how much work it is to slow down and keep everything in lawful compliance all the time when you just want to rush ahead and DO THINGS.

        1. TNTT*

          Do you think there’s a way for a legal department to successfully communicate to you what they do / why what they do is important so that you hate less “what they represent”?

          1. AVP*

            I think so! At least for me, I work in the type of position where my mandate is basically to say yes to everyone and find a way to accommodate them, so if someone is saying no to me, it very much helps to understand the reasoning and the specific legal guidance behind it.

            For example – this is an accounting-related anecdote but my lawyer does the same thing all the time, so I think it applies. I inform Accountant that we’ve been hired to do a specific project and they want us to bring a group of people to Canada. She says “you can’t do that because of insurance.” I say “client is paying all insurance costs so that won’t touch us.” She says “You can’t do that because of the Canadian Revenue Services. You cannot do that. No.” No details on what we would be violating, why the CRS would care, what they have to do with the project. I ask but just get back “You cannot do that because of CRS.” So it’s like…I can’t exactly call my client back and say “no, we can’t do this because our accountant told us no for an unspecified reason that I don’t understand.”

            Also, what Joey said below – often some legal risk is worth doing what we have to do for business objectives or for management purposes, but the legal people never seem to want to hear that.

            1. Beezus*

              I’ve had that before, with a company we outsourced our international brokerage work to. My comeback was, “I need to articulate, to an upset client, why this isn’t possible. Can you please help me with the details I need to do that, including citing the specific laws or regulations we’d be violating?”

      3. Joey*

        yes. Understand the business goal/philosophy/ROI before you give legal advice. frequently we think some legal risk is worth what we’re trying to accomplish. For example, firing someone without ironclad documentation could totally be worth it.

    6. some1*

      I don’t think it’s a matter of Legal/Compliance or HR are always going to be bad to deal with, it’s just that when they ARE bad, it has so many reprocussions.

    7. Previous Position*

      I used to work for an orchestra and in the office it was the musicians (for them it was the executive director). The rigidness of their collective bargaining agreement in terms of rehearsal time was also irritating. It needs to be there to prevent abuse but if the conductor wanted 15 min extra to rehearse it cost a lot of money in OT. I don’t know the best solution but them working down to the second was a pain.

      Also they complained constantly about most of the administration and especially us in the development department about how we were terrible at our jobs because we couldn’t raise enough money (this was during the recession). Most of them would also pass when asked to be part of any administrative process. But you had to tip toe to make sure to not even hint they didn’t play something poorly.

    8. Julie*

      Conflicts but that’s because they are chronically understaffed and have to tell attorneys “no” sometimes which one should never do if they want good street cred.

    9. Treading Water*

      IT, then HR. IT because there is a very formal system in place for issues that we HAVE to follow, theoretically to streamline communications, but then they take days to reply/take action (but lord help you if you don’t follow the protocol).

    10. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

      Finance, sorry.

      They are seen as out of touch with what actually happens in the company, the selling of teapots, and not appreciative of (or caring about) what brings the beans in that need to be counted.

      HR is seen as both getting it and contributing to more beans.

    11. Beancounter in Texas*

      The one person department who technically supervises off-site managers, but probably surfs the web all day. He sucks because he doesn’t communicate. Emails remain unanswered (although he acknowledges when accosted that he read them), text messages seemingly go off into a black hole, he doesn’t tell anyone when he’s going to be out of the office, even for a couple of hours for a meeting, much less for vacation. At least whenever my boss asks for the status on a task, I have documentation of why the sucky guy is the hold up.

    12. INTP*

      I think IT. There’s a theory that they deliberately ignore all the requests that take any effort to answer because many tickets will get a response within the hour while other tickets opened at the same time will take weeks to even get followed up on.

    13. Mints*

      IT because of rudeness, not actual job stuff. Most stuff works fine, but I was hung up on once!

      Sales for workflow. They’re not all bad, but the bad ones are sooooo bad. They’ll hold stuff up for weeks, and they get babied if they sell enough. There are way too many “Senior Consultants” who don’t know anything besides running appontments.

      I actually love accounting (accounts receivable) because they do their jobs well. Other branches complain about directness (which I could see as “neediness”) but I’m pretty sure it’s because they weren’t doing stuff well (like filling out paperwork or figuring out which accounting department to talk to) Our branch is awesome, so we get along

      1. FYI*

        If you worked IT and had to deal with the imperious, bullish BS we tend to take on a daily basis from office staff, you’d be less than cordial as well. I had a senior sales exec try to get me fired because I wouldn’t “push the button” that would allow her to access Netflix from her corner office computer.

    14. More Cake Please*

      The database programmers. We had an old, unstable program that needed to be retired. There is more duplicated or inaccurate data than accurate data in the system. So our company applied for a grant to UPDATE the program. While the program is far more stable than before, the customer experience has done a complete 180. And they rolled it out with essentially 0 testing and 0 notice to the public. We had people calling asking if we’d been hacked.

    15. Rebeck*

      Marketing. Right up until there was a staff change and a restructure, and now marketing are awesome.

      1. Mimi*

        Ditto for Marketing. They have to eyeball everything, external or internal. Very rigid. Make it hard to get anything accomplished.

    16. Beezus*

      IT. I get more ticket updates asking me if my problem has miraculously resolved itself without their assistance, than I get actually helping me with my problems.

      1. FYI*

        That’s likely due to corporate policy and the way your department is trained to respond.
        On the flipside, I deal with dip@#$! every day who try to open Critical Level tickets because their printer is out of ink, or the morons who have a problem and open six consecutive tickets about it before receiving a response.

  27. Duschamp*

    I have a question for you guys, apropos this week’s discussion about university accreditation. The university I attended for grad school (Masters’ and PhD) is not accredited by any recognized US accreditation board – not because it’s for-profit, but because it’s not in the USA, doesn’t cater particularly to American students, and the categories “public,” “private” and “for-profit” have no real meaning in the UK. (By US standards all universities in the UK are public universities.) My school, the University of Edinburgh, is however, one of the “Ancient and Medieval” universities and is regularly ranked as one of the top 20 or so universities in the world.

    The lack of accreditation hasn’t been a problem with most applications, but I know that explicitly states that they only consider degrees from accredited universities. Does anyone with experience in government hiring know if this is a deal-breaker? My degrees are in Art History, and both the National Gallery of Art and the Smithsonian Institution hire exclusively through USAJobs.

    1. Calacademic*

      Are you a US citizen? I imagine that is the first hurdle in getting a job with NGA or Smithsonian.

      I’m in STEM so am unfamiliar with Art History; in STEM you reach out to the professor/department you want to work for. If there is mutual interest, they help you navigate the labyrinth of paperwork. Is this a possibility?

      1. Duschamp*

        I am a US citizen, I should have mentioned that in my original question.

        Frustratingly, I’m not sure I know how things work in the Art History/curatorial world either. I have just been exploring the straightforward USAJobs application portal.

    2. lala lemur*

      For state jobs in my org, a “Foreign Credential Evaluation” is required to assess that the degree is equivalent to what the job posting requires. I’d suspect this to also be true for federal jobs, but am not certain.

    3. thisisit*

      it is not a deal-breaker, but you have to prove that your education is equivalent to that of a US accredited institution. there are a few ways to do this (you can google for more information on this), but most commonly your institution might have an agreement with a US institution to provide that acceptance. otherwise, there are credentialing agencies that will provide an evaluation of your coursework.
      i’d say your best bet is to reach out to your school (maybe career services?) for information.

      NACES is the org that provides information about the credentialing services (they are a membership org so you’d check out their website to find an agency).

      1. Duschamp*

        Oh, that’s a good idea. I’d looked into the credential evaluation services, but they are pricey. Hopefully, if there is a some kind of agreement it won’t cost quite as much. Also, while I perhaps shouldn’t, I kind of resent having to pay to prove something that is not generally under contention.

    4. Cb*

      Edinburgh! Me too!

      It is eligible for US federal loans which I always assumed served as some sort of accrediation or recognition of your uni degree, Is that not the case? A friend has an Ma from a student loan eligible institution in central government and works for the federal government now.

      1. Duschamp*

        That was basically what I had assumed until this whole for-profit/non-accredited university scandal made headlines.

  28. Calla*

    Yesss, been waiting :)

    I posted previously about my job laying off about 1/4 of the company for financial reasons. Coupled with the fact that I was highly stressed because my job consists 75% of dealing with glitchy home-built software, I started job searching. I’ve applied to a few jobs since then, but since I feel like my position is secure and the benefits are good, I’m taking my time in finding the right one.

    Earlier this week, my boss basically said she thinks I have a ton of potential and she believes in me and she wants me to think about what I want to do/where I want to go in the company and come back to her. There ARE things I think I would like doing, and like I said, the benefits are awesome. I know they are taking steps to fix the financial problems, though of course they’re not out of the woods yet. If I was able to take on a new job here with at least a little bit of a raise, I think I could be happy.

    So… what would you do? Take the internal new position and keep looking actively, even if you leave a month later? Take the internal new position and slow down the job search unless other major financial red flags happen? Don’t do it and keep looking?

    1. Lily in NYC*

      I think having a good manager is so important – I’d probably stick it out if I could get a raise and a fulfilling role. But I’m a creature of habit and if I’m comfortable somewhere, I tend to stay put.

      1. Calla*

        Yeah, I believe the same personally–I have a boss who really likes me, and I wouldn’t want to leave shortly after she worked to get me into something I liked better, if that indeed happens. But everyone who’s heard of the layoffs says to get out ASAP!

    2. Sunflower*

      I’d take a promotion and see how you feel but keep doing what you’re doing- casually apply and don’t jump on the first opportunity you see. Things to consider:

      – What are the penalties of not taking a promotion offered to you? How will you explain it? Will your boss be okay with it or will it shoot up some red flags about you?
      – Job searches are never as short as you think they will be. Finding a new job you like could take a longgg time.
      – Just because you’re applying for jobs doesn’t mean you have to take any of them. You might apply to some places, not find anything as great as your current gig and then great- you’ll know you’ve made the right choice. I’m always in the camp that it never hurts to stop looking and see what’s out there.

  29. Holly*

    If a recruiter calls you and asks if you’d be interested in applying for a specific position for their client company, it’s safe to say they find you qualified even if the job description lists off preferences you don’t have, right? For example, the description heavily prefers someone with a passion for cars, because it’s a car company, but I have… zero knowledge or inclination one way or the other for cars. But they did call me, and I really, really need to get out of my current company..

    Speaking of my current company, today the owner passed out easter candy to everyone… except the HR Assistant, who just completed a three month weight loss program. She got Goldfish crackers. She’s baffled and we’re groaning and really, work?

    1. Not Today Satan*

      Honestly, it depends on the recruiter. In my experience, they tend to cast a very wide net. If you’re interested, give it your best shot, but don’t get your hopes up. I used to think that being “approved” by a recruiter gave me an advantage, but I don’t really think it does.

      1. Sunflower*

        Agree with this. A recruiter reached out to me about a job in health services and the description said it required a BSN. So I went back to the recruiter and said I was interested but I wasn’t sure I met the requirements- i work in marketing and have a business degree. She told me not to worry about it, I definitely was what they were looking for and I haven’t heard back since.

        Regardless of how well I align with a job, I’ve always had difficulty with recruiters. Totally agree that being approved by a recruiter doesn’t mean a whole lot. I very rarely get any interviews through them.

      1. nona*

        I’m not heading over there while I’m at work, but I read CA for a few years. The comment section’s a weird space.

        1. Jennifer*

          A lot of people over there have dealt with very bad drama in their lives and I’m sure Machete Boss was triggering them.

          Alison, I concur with you that in boss’s head, he didn’t quite think of it in the same way that everyone else did.

          The OP’s response eventually, for the record:
          “He changed his tune a few days later (this incident happened about two weeks ago) when he said he wanted me to be happy at work, and I told him that I’d be happy with 100% less machetes in the workplace. At that point, he hung his head and shuffled his feet like a little boy who’d just gotten caught doing something dumb.”

          1. oaktown*

            HAHAHAHAHA … This is going to become my new random quote: “I told him that I’d be happy with 100% less machetes in the workplace.” That OP is just freaking brilliant.

      2. Katie the Fed*

        It’s a very different community over there, I think because there’s more of a focus on abuse prevention and protecting yourself.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Yeah. But it’s ironic that one of the maybe three pieces of abusively hostile email I’ve ever received in the history of Ask a Manager came from a Captain Awkward reader. (I woke up this morning to an email from a reader there that included “fuck you” six times, among other awfulness, because of my response.) Here’s to civil discourse!

              1. TheLazyB*

                Honestly, once you’ve said it once, do you really need to repeat it five more times? Maybe they just needed you to know they REALLY meant it?

                People are weird.

        1. Amtelope*

          I’m a commenter both there and here, and I gotta say — I am still not sure that it is safe for that OP to continue to work for a boss who swings a machete at his desk as part of a meeting. Once weapons enter the office and get used in a way that is at all inappropriate, I think you’re dealing with a threat to your personal safety, and that it’s time to go.

          1. TL -*

            I don’t agree with his actions but the op didn’t seem scared and wanted to hold onto her job, and she’s in the best position to judge

            1. Amtelope*

              It’s certainly up to her to decide whether she wants to stay in this job. But whether or not she’s scared when someone brings a machete to work and brandishes it in a meeting, it’s still potentially a sign of a very dangerous situation. Her lack of fear does not make the situation safe. I’m always going to advise someone who is dealing with a person who brings weapons into the office and brandishes them in anger to get out ASAP.

      3. Persephone Mulberry*

        It looks like many of the commenters Missed The Point.

        Loved the scripts you offered, and I think it’s cool that the LW was able to diffuse the situation with a very pointed joke. I don’t think the boss is irredeemably evil/crazy.

      4. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

        They seem to drink a lot of coffee over there.

        Personally, my personal response to all of that would be to be horrified at the lawsuit vulnerability he’d unleashed. We’ve been on the other side of papers filed over nothing trumped up into A Thing. (I wish I could tell you this one thing, but I can’t, even though settled now, but it was literally one bad joke that was trumped into a year long Legal Thing.)

        He might be the worst lawyer ever.

        1. thisisit*

          you know, i was thinking about this aspect of it. he is a bit of a lawsuit waiting to happen. as the big boss, it’s not like someone can be like, whoa cowboy, how about some anger management (or whatever)? on the other hand, since the OP seems to be in an ok relationship with him, maybe he could recommend some counseling damage control….

    1. thisisit*

      wow that’s… intense. i started reading the comments, but couldn’t get beyond the “call the cops!” advice.

      i hate that piece of advice. it’s fine if you want to call the cops on a situation that you think warrants it, but not everyone is comfortable involving law enforcement. some of us even feel less safe when the cops get involved. also, it’s non-advice. who doesn’t know that calling the police is an option?

      i liked your advice, Alison. i can see how someone who was really freaked out might not find it helpful, but then they are the ones probably wanting to call the police anyway. but i found it very comprehensive.

      i had a high school math teacher who had a broken hockey stick in the classroom. he banged it on various tables, desks, and chalkboards (including where students were sitting/standing). as far as i know, there was never a moment when anyone felt like they were going to get hit, but it was extremely intimidating. frankly, i thought it was a terrible way to teach and to this day i remember almost nothing about calculus. but i do remember that hockey stick….
      funny enough, he was the kind of teacher where if you found yourself in jail, he’d drop everything and bail you out (and give you an earful for it).

      1. Anonymous Coward*

        I ticked off my seventh-grade math teacher by not paying attention in class when he was going over the test we’d just gotten back. I’d gotten a very high score, and probably sounded very snotty when he asked me why I wasn’t paying attention and I said something like, “Why? I didn’t miss that question.” He kept a mug of pencils on his desk, and he slammed it down (in frustration? to get my full attention? to make a point?) and the handle busted and all the pencils went flying. Don’t think anyone expected that!

        1. thisisit*

          haha i do remember another teacher who threw chalk at the students who acted up. frankly, they deserved it!

      2. INTP*

        Also, is there anything that the cops can do over this situation besides scare the guy a little? I get why people were scared – a weapon in the hands of a man known to be emotionally unstable and sexually inappropriate is frightening. But as far as I know there is nothing illegal about having a machete (they do have a practical purpose if he is remotely outdoorsy – seems like some of the commenters thought they are only weapons) or using it to chop up desks that you own. The cops can’t take his machete away just because he’s a creep.

        1. Nonsers*

          Sure they could. Threatening someone with a weapon is a serious crime. It’s called menacing and can be a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the circumstances.

          1. fposte*

            I don’t know that they’d impound the machete, though, especially if the LW calls the cops several days after the event.

            If you call right at the time, you have a greater shot at police intervention, but what will happen going forward would also depend on the willingness of people in the office to testify–to something that probably won’t put their boss in jail but will have him still being their boss.

            1. thisisit*

              i don’t know. these days i worry that “police intervention” might involve someone getting shot.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      People don’t just happen to have a machete in their desk. That takes planning and forethought.
      I guess he felt that the only way he could get control over his biz was to flash a machete???
      I find it disturbing that his mind wandered down this path. I hope he seriously thinks about what he has done here.

      1. fposte*

        Now I picture you as confiscating the machete, sending him to the corner, and telling him to have a long, hard think about what he’s done.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          I so want to.
          If his mind is open to this solution what other solutions will he talk himself into in the future. I would have to tell him that it would be awhile before I could trust him not to pull out a weapon and wave it around. This in turn, of course, is going to make me think about working somewhere else.

          There are some lines that once crossed, it becomes much easier to do more outrageous things. His emotions are not under control. But you are right. I probably would not have any problem giving him a piece of my mind after the moment has passed. I am at a stage where no job is worth this crap. He fires me for speaking up then “oh, well!”.

          “So, NSNR, why were you fired from your last job?”
          “I told my boss not to wave a machete around like that in front of people and he got mad.”

          Some situations are so ridiculous that they need no further explanation.

  30. LOtheAdmin*

    Happy open thread!

    My main purpose in writing this morning is to say thank you to Alison. I got laid off from one of the worst jobs I’ve ever worked for December of last year and have been searching for a job since then. Before I found this wonderful place, I used to be a nervous, stuttering wreck in interviews. But thanks to this site and the wonderful commenters, I’m much more confident speaking about my work history and how it relates to jobs I’m interviewing for. The difference is like night and day. I’m confident, calm, and nothing like I used to be.

    I won’t lie and say that it’s been rosy. It hasn’t. Job searching is frustrating, especially when employers don’t choose you in the end. But I’ve learned so much from this site that I feel grateful to have it no matter how many times employers may reject me. I’ve gained a confidence that I’ve never had in previous job searching. I’ve stopped obsessing over next steps and OMG will they call me???? and all the other pitfalls of job searching from the hip. Despite not having gained that better job (I’m getting close though), I’m approaching the job search from a calm and happy place instead of a panicked and desperate one.

    So, Alison and anyone, Thank you. For everything.
    On to a happy future I go!

  31. Katie the Fed*

    Can I just vent about how annoying new people are if they’re not self-starters.

    My team is slammed right now. I just came back from a very long absence. Right as I was returning, we got two new contractors. One is fine – we gave him some general guidance and he’s just doing his thing and has good instincts for what to do, stays out of our hair, looks things up on his own, etc.

    The other is annoying the living hell out of me. He constantly wants to “have a sit down” with me to discuss long term and short term goals, etc. He’s brand new – I just need him to watch and learn right now and get smart on the things we do, and then we’ll go over guidance. I tell him that and he still wants to talk to me all the time. I just don’t have the bandwidth right now. Unfortunately, nobody really does because it’s just a really busy couple of weeks. He’s just driving me crazy. And when I do talk to him, he always includes a long spiel like “I just want to make sure you know how happy I am to be here and for this opportunity and I think I’ll be a great asset here and blah blah blah.” You already have the job! Please, just stop. You’ll impress me most by just quietly learning with minimal guidance.

    1. Katie the Fed*

      Also, I know I’m being kind of a crappy boss and I should give more guidance. But I am just. so. overwhelmed. I found out when you’re a boss, work doesn’t go away when you’re out more than a month. A lot of it just waits. Some gets done but some things you and only you can do.

      ((sobs gently into my bagel))

      1. Random CPA*

        My husband stopped calling it “vacation” and renamed it “putting off work for a while.” As a manager, you have to cover for your people when they’re out…but no one covers for you.

        I actually avoid taking more than a few days off in a row for that reason (and I think that mindset must run in the family, because I told my 5-year old that I was keeping him home from school Monday because we have family coming in town and he said, “No, I wanna go to school, I’ll have too much work to do when I go back.”)

    2. Noelle*

      Ugh, that sounds like one of our fellows at my last job. EVERY time I’d give her an assignment she’s spend inordinate amounts of time talking about how excited she was to work on it, but not actually working on it or following my directions. So it’d be like, “Hey fellow, I want you to write a letter on XYZ.” “Great!!!! I also know about WKF, I’ll write a letter about that and then I’ll schedule a ton of meetings and then I’ll do ABC and it’ll be great! I’m so excited to work on this!!!” “No, I really just want you to do XYZ. I need it done by the end of the week.” End of the week comes, NOTHING has gotten done, she rolls into my office to talk to me about WKF and how great her ideas are and how excited she is to work on it and blah blah blah. I JUST WANTED XYZ. It’s all I wanted!

        1. Noelle*

          Yeah, I started feeling like I was being mean by being like, “hey, stop doing that. I just want you to do this.” “No. Don’t do that. Stop. Just do this.” “No, stop it. Do what I asked.” I was definitely not being ambiguous!

        1. ExceptionToTheRule*

          I have one of those. She’s so EARNEST! she gets in her own way. It’s been a year and she’s finally calming down enough for me to give her more to do than just her basic job.

    3. CrazyCatLady*

      I mean, at least you’re telling him that you just want him to watch and learn for now. But as a new employee, I think I’d feel so uncomfortable not really having anything specific to do and no actual overview or training (even if it’s not in depth! Just something would be fine!) I understand you’re slammed and know you just came back from a long absence and I can definitely see your side of it. But as the new person, I’d probably be uncomfortable in that situation.

      1. Dawn*

        Yeah, as someone who has started at a new job and is in kind of a similar situation, I think it’d be super duper helpful if you could find 20 minutes to sit this guy down and explain how you see the next 3 months working out or whatever. Be super duper explicit. “Wakeen, right now everyone is busy on project X, and I want to apologize that none of us are going to have time to train you/have you shadow for a while. I’m happy that you’re excited to be here, and I’m excited to have you. Right now I need you to focus on A and B for the next two weeks. I want you to schedule another 20 minute meeting with me in two weeks and we’ll talk about A and B. If you think of other things that you think you might be a good contributor for, that’s awesome, and I encourage you to write down all of your ideas so we can talk about them when I’m less busy which will probably be in (#) months.”

        I’m the kind of employee who really likes to be given stuff to do with deadlines and honestly, I like a little bit of hand-holding. If that’s something you literally cannot do right now, for whatever reason, have a heart to heart with Wakeen and manage his expectations around that. It’ll make him a better employee, and I promise he’ll stop bugging you as much.

        1. CrazyCatLady*

          I actually missed the part where these people are contractors. That probably makes it a bit different than regular employees.

          I don’t like hand-holding at all, and am definitely a self-starter, but in many situations, it’s impossible to go in and just START working without any guidance at all.

        2. Katie the Fed*

          I’ll try something like that on Monday or Tuesday. I’m trying to come in this weekend to get caught up. It’s been really hard because normally I stay late or come in weekends to catch up on work but a colleague is giving me rides right now so I’m on his schedule.

          If I can clear my plate a little I’ll have a little more time with him. I did give him a couple of projects to do but he has a million follow up questions, on things that I think should be obvious.

          1. The Cosmic Avenger*

            For today, here are your own words, I think you said it just fine, now just say it to him:

            “I just need [you] to watch and learn right now… and then we’ll go over guidance. I just don’t have the bandwidth [for any discussion or updates] right now.”

    4. The Toxic Avenger*

      Hey Katie!

      So – here’s the thing. You are not a crappy boss. Contractors are specifically hired to be self starters. They are not supposed to be “invested in.” They are hired to do a specific thing for a finite length of time. I know how you feel – I managed a staff of contractors and consultants for a while – and they are there to make your life easier, not harder. If he doesn’t cut it out soon, can you cut him loose? Or would that be more painful than toughing it out because you need help so badly?

      1. Katie the Fed*

        Yes! That’s part of it. We have training programs and protocols for new govenrment employees but not for contractors for that very reason.

        I’m going to try to find a half hour for him on Monday. But I need him to just kind of deal in the meantime. I know it sucks and it sucks to be bored but I just don’t have any more to give right now. So at a minimum, please just leave me alone.

        1. Meg Murry*

          Can you delegate one of your other employees to train/baby sit him. Or set up a schedule – on Monday, work with Jane, Tuesday Wakeen, Wednesday George, etc.?
          Even if all he does is sit next to them while they do their work, at least that’s giving him some direction as to what to watch/do.

          But I hear you. Sometimes coming up with tasks for other people to do is as much work as just doing things yourself, and sometimes you just don’t have time for that. But delegating to one of your staff, even for the short term would be better than nothing.

          1. Katie the Fed*

            I can’t right now. Everyone is slammed. Just absolutely slammed. This is the worst possible time for new people to arrive. Gargh.

            (yes, I know I’m making time for AAM but I’m eating my lunch and it’s my one stress relief).

          2. Katie the Fed*

            OK, actually I did just ask one of my people to help me out with the new guy, and she’s going to take it on. Development opportunity for her!

    5. Kai*

      We’ve had this a couple of times that we’ve had to hire temps. I get that it’s because they really wanted to be offered the job permanently, but dudes–you’re more likely to have that happen if you just do the work you’re assigned and prove yourself that way. No need to bend over backwards with enthusiasm over every little thing or schedule yourself a meeting with the director to find out how you can be the best candidate for the permanent job.

    6. Nobody*

      It doesn’t seem unreasonable for him to want a sit-down. Could you maybe have a really quick, 10-minute sit-down with him, just to get him off your back, and tell him exactly what you said here — that right now, his short-term goal should be to get familiar with your operation, and you’d like him to shadow other employees and focus on learning X, Y, and Z? Maybe you’re still working out the long-term goals, but you can schedule another meeting in, say, a month to discuss that.

      1. Katie the Fed*

        I’ve done the first part of what you ask – we did talk and I laid out a few proejcts. But he has a never-ended barrage of follow up questions and wanting more time to discuss, and most of it is stuff that should frankly be pretty intuitive.

    7. IT Kat*

      Speaking as a government contractor…. ;)

      I consider myself a self-starter, and have gotten plenty of compliments about that in the past. However, in the current Federal contract I am in, I was in much the same boat that it sounds like this new contractor is – given a desk and told good luck and that was it. I have no problem self-starting but I need to know if I should be heading North, South, East or West.

      I second (or third!) the comments others have had – sit down with him and give him 20 minutes and explicitly tell him what is expected. If all that is expected is to watch and learn right now, let him know that. Point him in the direction of government websites that hold the policies/procedures for your branch and department/division and let him get up to speed. If you give him something and don’t want follow-up questions, explicitly let him know to run with it and use his best judgment.

      I think it would help a lot. By contrast, I have been in other positions as a contractor where I was micro-managed and was supposed to go to my supervisor contact with any and all questions and decisions. It’s possible that he is coming from some environment like that, and just needs to be pointed in the right direction.

    8. INTP*

      Is he young or inexperienced in the workplace?

      I would bet this is an issue of someone following “99% of grandpas got their jobs by just walking up and asking”-style ubiquitous bad career advice about being more assertive and blah blah blah. He’s probably been told this is what he needs to do in order to be on track to a permanent position or advance in the workplace.

      If that’s the case, you’d be doing him a favor to be fairly blunt that setting goals is not a priority for his position right now and you don’t have the bandwidth to meet with him over this anytime soon. And I wouldn’t call you a bad manager for delegating someone else to answer all his little questions :)

      1. Vancouver Reader*

        Or did you hire yourself a daschund puppy?

        Sounds to me like you have to just cut him off whenever he starts going off on tangents. You might have to be short with him, it might hurt his feelings a bit, but hopefully he’ll learn that if he only comes to you with really urgent stuff, it won’t be so much like crying wolf.

  32. NatalieR*

    My boss is weird about informing clients when one of us leaves the company. We are currently getting forwarded emails of a former employee, responding to them (this isn’t odd because we are all copied on a few sales-related email addresses; clients are used to getting replies from a different person from whom they emailed originally) but never mentioning he is gone. And has been for months. It feels taboo to mention.

    I am working out my notice period and feel like it’s bad for my reputation to just leave without mentioning beforehand that I am. So – I emailed a few clients I work with most closely to say I am leaving in X days, please let me know if you need anything in the interim. Today my boss asked for a list of those people so he could follow up. Normal enough request, but his tone was weird, making me feel like he didn’t care for the fact that I had done that. Note that there was no discussion of telling or not telling, so I just went with professional Norma.

    I just don’t want people I work with closely to think I am ignoring them, as history shows that they will just leave my email open and reply, but not mention I had left. This industry is super reputation-reliant, so I really want to keep mine intact.

    I guess this is just a long rant. But any thoughts or ways I could have done anything differently would be appreciated. Thanks!

    1. TNTT*

      I think you did the right thing. When I left my old-old job (two jobs ago) my boss got VERY. MAD. when I let a few clients know I was leaving. He said it made HIM look bad! I still think it would have made him (and me) look worse for me to suddenly drop off the planet.

    2. Sunflower*

      If your boss did not tell you specifically to not tell any clients, then you did nothing wrong. Has anyone every emailed and said ‘Hey where’s Rob? Haven’t heard from him in a while’. Or does anyone ever say’ I told Rob about this, he can explain’. Does anyone ask?

      1. NatalieR*

        I had a client mention that Rob had done so and so, or Rob would know from last year, so I finally had to say that he didn’t work with us anymore, so I couldn’t ask him. Other than that, no one mentions it. But they still email him fairly regularly.

        I just wanted to wrap up outstanding business with a few clients before I left, so they didn’t think I dropped the ball on their projects or wonder why I didn’t show up to their meetings. The rest of the ones I want to keep in touch with, I will contact after my notice from a personal email.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          I am trying to picture this. So employee leaves, but her email stays? Somebody must be checking all the emails of former employees. Well, it could be that people are cc’ing.

          I am just trying to picture how this looks ten years from now. Twenty people have left and someone has to check their email boxes daily because clients were never told these people left.

  33. Renegade Rose*

    Do I need to put something about being laid off in my cover letter? I’ve only been at my job for about 8 months (10 if I don’t get another job before my official last day) and I’m afraid that prospective employers are going to think I’m a job hopper. This is my only post college job.

    1. Random CPA*

      I know people will disagree, but I was in the same situation, I had been at a job for 6 years, went to one for a year, and was on my 3rd job and there for 8 months when I got notice that my position was being relocated within 6 months. I immediately started job searching but didn’t want to look like a job hopper, so under my months of experience for that job, in tiny print, I put “position relocated due to reorganization.”

      When I reviewed resumes recently, I noticed a few people had indicated in some way that they were laid off on their resume, which I thought was good information when there was a gap between that job and their next job, or if they were at a job for a short amount of time.

  34. Anonzia*

    Going anon for this…I work for a small company (~40 people). My company is being sued by a vendor over failure to pay a large bill. I’m the only person who knows besides our accounting team. I was asked to not tell anyone at the company. Is this normal procedure to not let other employees know?

    1. Graciosa*

      Yes, this is normal. In fact, attorneys spend a lot of time coaching clients on how to preserve the attorney client privilege in a dispute, which generally requires limiting discussions to only those who absolutely have to know (decision makers, people with factual information about the dispute).

      Sharing too much with anyone else – even another employee – can make those internal discussions available to the other party.

    2. Lily in NYC*

      Yes, I think it is normal. We have a few age discrimination suits going on and it’s very hush-hush.

    3. CrazyCatLady*

      I don’t know why you should share it with other employees. It would probably cause stress and uncertainty (why can’t my employer pay bills? are they having financial troubles? Is my job safe?).

      1. Anonzia*

        It’s not that I have a desire to share it. My company takes part in a lot of shady business practices(thus how this lawsuit came about) I don’t agree with so sometimes it’s difficult to understand if what they want me to do is normal or out of practice.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            Added. Shady companies getting sued on a regular basis: normal.

            Yeah, you can’t talk about lawsuits even in healthy companies. I have worked a couple places where I knew suits were going on. One case I had some good inputs, but we figured that out too late, because I learned about the case after the case was over.

  35. Anon4This*

    I screwed up. Big time.

    I had four job interviews scheduled this past week. First job interview didn’t go so hot, #2 and #3 went OK but not great, but by the time #4 rolled around, I just felt myself getting sad. I drove to the interview, had a panic attack, and left. I sent an email apologizing saying that I felt sick, but I know how these things go and they just said sorry to hear that, good luck with your search.

    I can’t stop beating myself up over this. I’ve tried looking for a therapist on and off the last few years to deal with my anxiety and didn’t find one I clicked with. I’m just so mad at myself because now I look like a huge flake when it comes to this stuff when it’s not that at all. I just don’t have the self esteem and emotional stamina to handle the interview process after doing it for nearly a year. Everyone says never to turn down job interviews, but I feel like I’m shooting myself in the foot by scheduling too many interviews. Blah sorry for the rambles.

    1. Colette*

      It sounds like you are scheduling too many interviews. As an aside, are you getting offers? If not, are you working on your interview skills? Getting four interviews in a week is really good, and if you’ve been doing it for a year, I completely understand why it’s getting to be too much.

    2. CrazyCatLady*

      Interviewing is stressful! Especially for people with anxiety. It’s hard to be kind to yourself in these situations, but please try. 4 interviews is a lot in a week, for anyone. It’s not great that you had a panic attack and left, but it is what it is. I’ve canceled interviews before because of anxiety too.

      Also, I know how hard it is to find a therapist you click with. Is there any sort of self-help you can do in the meantime? There are CBT worksheets online, apps, etc.

    3. C Average*

      I wish there were a way to learn about our limits without actually exceeding them, because we feel like such crap when we do exceed them.

      But you’ve learned something useful about yourself, and that has value.

      Where do you go from here? Here’s where I’d go from here if I were you:

      1. Unconditionally forgive yourself for what happened this week. No blaming, no beating yourself up about it.

      2. Ask yourself what you can learn from this.

      Was it the sheer number of interviews that caused problems? Or was it the combined stress of three not-great interviews that caused the fourth one to feel extra stressful?

      Ponder this and see if you can figure out whether you have an overscheduling issue, or whether you have an issue with taking disappointing encounters too much to heart. Can you mitigate either problem by being careful not to overschedule yourself or by trying not to let disappointments gain too much momentum? (I know both are easier said than done, but sometimes just knowing WHAT the problem is helps you avoid it next time.)

      3. If part of the problem is that interviews in general are stressful, is there anything you can do to make them less so? (Here’s an example: I always worry about getting lost when I’m going somewhere new. So if I have an interview, I either do a dry run to make sure I know the route or I show up way early and go for a short walk before the scheduled meeting time. Not feeling pressed for time or worried about not getting to the right place helps me feel centered and confident.)

      Good luck. And those people who tell you to never turn down an interview? They’re not you. Do what you need to do for you. Be kind to yourself and don’t say yes to things you know will push you into overload territory.

        1. Kelly L.*

          Also, there may have been something at #4 that subconsciously was wrong to you. I walked into one place while job searching a few years ago and it just reeked of despair, in some way I could never prove. I don’t think I gave the best interview ever, but based on both the gut sense and the things said by my interviewer, I think it was a bullet dodged.

          So in addition to all of C Average’s great advice (the part about orienting yourself is something I’ve found particularly useful too), it’s also possible that your gut picked up on something at #4 specifically, and maybe you wouldn’t have wanted to work there anyway. I know this sounds like woo, but I can be a little woo-y. :)

          But definitely, yeah, don’t beat yourself up, and read C Average’s post so much.

      1. Happy Lurker*

        Love the first line “I wish there were a way to learn about our limits without actually exceeding them, because we feel like such crap when we do exceed them.”
        As well as the rest.

      2. Anon4This*

        Thank you so much for your comment. I feel like I really dread interviews at this point because they feel so negative to me. I feel like my search has been feast or famine; I go through periods of nothing and then everyone wants to talk all in the same week. It’s hard saying no because in a lot of situations, people have only allocated a few days to meet with applicants, which I don’t blame them for but it’s hard to space out the interviews I do get.

        As for not letting disappointments gain too much momentum, I don’t know how to do that. I try to keep perspective not to take things personally but some days are better than others.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          What do you do to recharge yourself? Some how bad stuff does not need scheduling, it just happens to us. But if we want something good going on, we have to deliberately schedule it, create it, set it up. We have to recharge.

          Just as you schedule job interviews for yourself, plan something pleasant afterward. This does not have to be complex. It could be as simple as, “I am going to read that new book on Saturday. I will take the whole day and do nothing but read this book I am looking forward to.” Think about simple, doable ways that you can recharge yourself. Call it an investment in you.

          Please learn some breathing techniques for the anxiety. No, it’s not a miracle cure but it is something you can do anytime and anywhere. Practice your breathing techniques during calm times. I like to do mine before bed. I sleep better. The reason for practicing them in calm times is so if the anxiety does it, the technique is very familiar to you and you go right into using the technique.

          Breathe in through your nose. Keep your mouth closed. Count to ten, release the breath through a small opening made with your lips. Even if you do it poorly, keep doing it. It forces oxygen into your blood stream, it will calm your heart rate and ease the difficulty.
          The other thing I did and this worked really well- I made myself look around. When I’d get hit with panic or anxiety, I kept looking down. I made myself look up and look around. The first time I did this, it was the hardest freakin’ thing in the world. But after a few times, the symptoms would just vanished.
          So in short, recharge, practice breathing techniques and if you are looking down at the floor, gently talk yourself into looking up.

      3. littlemoose*

        You’re awesome, C Average. And Anon4This, I bet you are way more awesome than you are giving yourself credit for. Let yourself move forward from this. You will make it, I promise.

    4. LPBB*

      I also have problems with anxiety and am a world champion at beating myself up. I’m very familiar with that downward slide where you make a perceived mistake and then just feel like everything is pointless and you should just quit. You have my sympathies!

      One thing that might really help you is developing some self-compassion. It probably won’t help with the anxiety, but it might make it easier to let go of the need to beat yourself up or at least help you get out that stage quicker. Be warned though, it is a lot easier said than done, at least for me! Since you said you still haven’t found a therapist, here are two links that you might find helpful:
      Personally, I find self-compassion incredibly hard. It is just a totally foreign concept to treat myself with loving kindness. This meditation has been so helpful to me, because you start out by sending loving kindness to someone else, then reflect it back to yourself, and then focus it on yourself. I find this to be so much easier than just trying to love myself and my flaws.
      This is a meditation from Kristin Neff who has done a lot of research on self-compassion and wrote a pretty good book about it. I like this one because it’s short and portable, it’s easy to do in the moment, even in public, because it’s pretty unobtrusive.

      Good luck and even though it’s hard, try to be gentle with yourself

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        This really can work for some people. I was going to recommend imagining that a dear friend came to you and said exactly what you said. What would you say? Picture you talking to yourself as if this happened to your clone or twin, and tell yourself how you would counsel that person about this problem. Those of us with poor self-esteem tend to be much nicer to others (even strangers) than ourselves. Show yourself some of that compassion.

        But I’ll bet the links provided above probably address this much better than I can.

  36. Anna*

    Hi All,

    I have a question! I’ve been accepted to graduate school, with the beginning date in August. When and how should I quit my job? Should I give the customary 2 week notice, or should I give 4?


    1. Graciosa*

      This depends entirely on your management.

      If they would respond well to advance notice (keep you employed through the notice period, and generally be appreciative rather than snippy) then give them the notice. In fact, you could give them more than 4 weeks, depending upon how easily replaceable you are. This is a rare situation where there is enough time to let the business find and hire a replacement (possibly even let you help with training if they’re really smart about it) which is not usually the case.

      If you have good management who will respond well, I would say you should give them the consideration. You’ll probably create a great reference for yourself in the process.

      But just in case, I wouldn’t give them so much notice that they find a candidate, hire her, and decide to fire you months early. A week or two off before starting school is a lot different from months of lost income.

      There are companies that respond to advance notice – or any notice of an employee departure – badly, and walk the person out the door immediately, badmouth them for leaving, or otherwise behave very poorly. You owe them nothing – and I do mean nothing. You owe it to yourself to give the minimum 2 weeks notice because you need to preserve your reputation for professional behavior, but that’s for you and not for them.

      Consider your management team carefully, and give them the notice that they deserve.

    2. Lily in NYC*

      It’s really up to you. However, I think people tend to give longer notices in these cases. My division loses between 5-10 people every year who go back to school and they all tell us as soon as they get accepted (April) and then they usually leave in July or early August. It’s different because everyone knows they are applying because our bosses do their recommendation letters. If you have good relationships at your job, there’s really no reason not to tell them now. However, if they are vindictive then just give two or three weeks.

    3. Calacademic*


      I agree with other posters, with the added reminder to double/triple check when your “actual” start date is. Orientation may begin more than a week before classes actually start (particularly if you’re going to be partially supported as a graduate student instructor). When I was in graduate school, teacher orientation started August 13th, classes started August 24th (example).

    4. thisisit*

      congrats! how is your relationship with your manager/the company? both times i left (the same org), i actually gave a year’s notice. but i had that relationship with my boss. when a colleague asked me about giving notice, i told her to give as much as she could (her friends had advised her to give 2 weeks since it was standard), because our boss would never just fire her and he’d be really appreciative of the extra time to make arrangements to have someone take over the project or rearrange staff as necessary. so she gave him a couple months’ (her new start date was a bit vague), and he was totally cool about it and worked it all out with her. and we are all less stressed about it. :)

    5. Intrepid Intern*


      FWIW, most people I knew took a month off between working and grad school. Our program was abroad, and I know this doesn’t really address how much notice to give… but I guess my advice would be to make the weeks leading up to grad school as low-key as possible, including maybe giving yourself more time to wrap up your current projects.

  37. Jennifer*

    Good news and bad news this week:

    On the bad news side: I got yelled at multiple times on Monday and told I was horrible (yes, that actual word was used to my face) for not knowing how to fix a website I have no access to, and got in trouble for asking some girl to provide ID before she just dropped a bunch of papers off here for a certain team. NONE of those people were there to ask at the time, nor were any managers (as usual, every time I get in trouble here it seems to be when I am the only one there to handle anything), I “used my best judgment,” guessing that I’d get in trouble if I took them and I’d get in trouble if I didn’t, and sure ’nuff, that manager came screaming for me an hour later saying I should have “known” that lunch meant she was just hiding in her office and I should have banged on her door.
    Basically, no matter what I do, I am wrong.

    On the good news side: (a) I am getting free career coach counseling, so we’ll see how that goes, (b) I at least saw a few things to apply for this week, and (c) my boss is getting as annoyed with the never ending loud horrible country music my coworker plays 9 hours a day as I am, and while coworker was at the front counter yesterday, stomped over and shut it off. She said she wants to have some kind of talking to with her about turning it down or using headphones (especially said she didn’t want this going on after our office move), but so far that hasn’t happened yet. I hope it does, though.

    1. AggrAV8ed Tech*

      I sympathize with the “no matter what I do, I am wrong” statement. At my job, I can be doing things the same way I’ve been doing them for the past 15 years and then get suddenly yelled at that they’re wrong. Then I’ll start doing them according to the boss’s “new orders” and…still get yelled at that I’m doing things wrong.

      1. Ama*

        My last job was like this. Any time I didn’t double check with someone and went with what the common sense answer would be (and sometimes with the exact answer that was fine in a similar situation), it turned out to be either flat out wrong or not what the coworker involved wanted. It really did a number on my confidence in my gut instincts, to the extent that I still get a ridiculous amount of anxiety about making work decisions on my own, two years after I left that place, and with a ton of positive feedback from my current bosses, who actually think my instincts are pretty good.

        The silver lining is that I’m really good at coordinating projects that require input from a number of people because my last job trained me to always fully communicate with everyone who could possibly get mad about not being consulted.

        1. Jennifer*

          I’m getting tired of being told to “use my best judgment” and “don’t ask about every little thing,” but then look at what happens when I do.

          It all boils down to that I, as a person, rub them the wrong way no matter what I do.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            It boils down to they are idiots. I think I have worked for these people at some point. There is only one answer, move on. Somebody somewhere will think you are the best person that has happened to their company in along time.

    2. Amethyst*

      Some people just demand that everyone around them be a telepath, and are gravely offended when the world does not live up to their expectations. I hope that you find something better soon.

  38. SMT*

    2 questions I have this week:

    1) I had an interview Wednesday (and the interviewer was impressed when I use Allison’s recommended question,’what makes someone in this role great v. Good?). I need to put my thank you note I the mail ASAP, but only know her 1st name. Do I need to cyberstalk her to find her last name, or just address it to 1st name, c/o company?

    2) my current job requires weekend hours, but you can request days off. And 1/3 of my colleagues who share my role never work Sundays. I put in for this Sunday because a) it’s Easter Sunday and I know we’ll have plenty of call ins to try to cover and b) it’s my birthday, and while I normally don’t mind working on it, I just dread coming into work on Sunday. I do have attendance points and PTO I could use since I was scheduled anyway. And I haven’t called in in over a year. I guess I need someone to convince me to be a grown up and go to work.

    1. Expendable Redshirt*

      SMT, you are an honourable adult with responsibilities. Go to work.

      Did that help?

      1. HeyNonnyNonny*

        To be a bad influence: If you want to use your PTO and take a day off, do it! You are an honorable adult who has earned the privilege to take time off ;)

    2. Lily in NYC*

      Don’t address it to first name only. I would call the company and ask the receptionist for the full name. Or, if they have an automated system, typing in the first name to get the extension might get you her full name. Or just google her first name and company and see what happens.

    3. ExceptionToTheRule*

      If someone else will have to come in and cover for you, then please don’t just call in (sick or otherwise). That’s just screwing somebody else who might have had plans.

      If they don’t have to bring someone in to cover for you, then all bets are off.

    4. yep*

      1. Just happen to me. One gave me her card, the other didn’t have one available . I cyberstalked her and nothing came up even in their telephone automation system. I called 3 times and the receptionist phone went straight to voice mail. I ended up addressing the thank you just to her first name. Hope it’s overlooked and not counted against me.

  39. vaguely anonymous*

    I’m looking to move from a job I’ve only been in a year.. and I think I’ve found the perfect replacement. My current job was a big shift for me, and this potential job would be back to doing what I’ve done before, only with a (small) raise and (significantly) more holiday and (even more significantly) better pension. I’m definitely going to go ahead and apply, but I have two thing I’m not sure about:

    – How should I talk about my move into a different field, and why I want to move back again? I’ve enjoyed my time at Teapot Finance, but I’m confident it’s not for me longer term. I don’t want to undervalue what I’ve learnt at Teapot Finance, but it hasn’t been working the best for me. I don’t want to come over all fake ‘well it was GREAT, I just want to leave’, because I think it’ll be pretty clear that I tried something that didn’t work out, but I don’t want to sound like a flake either. Will just stressing the longer periods of employment (up to nearly five years) on my CV, and why I think my experience will help me a better employee at Teapot Industries, be enough?

    – I have a 10 day trip booked not long after the job advert says it closes for applications. I will be on email and probably phone during that time, but it’s to a quite remote place and I can’t be sure of the phone signal. I also definitely will not be around for an interview, should I be lucky enough to be asked for one. How do I bring that up? Or, more accurately, when? I think including “Oh and I will be unavailable [x-y]” in a cover letter or something is presumptuous, but blindsiding a possible employer with it at a later stage also sounds like a bad idea. I can’t cancel the trip without massive, massive inconvenience and upset for myself and a lot of others. Any thoughts anyone?

    1. Jennifer*

      I once put in at the bottom of a cover letter that I was going to be on vacation from X to Y (which started a few days after the filing period closed) and hopefully I would hear from them afterwards. However, this was during Christmas break season and they most likely weren’t going to call until mid-January, and that is how it ended up panning out.

      In your case, I would mention it: say you’ll do your best to get back to them but may not have control over the reception and you will get back on X date. It might very well rule you out for the job if they want you to interview immediately during that time, but what can you do? Hopefully HR will take long enough enough filtering applications or whatever so it won’t be a problem though.

      1. vaguely anonymous*

        I’m glad that worked out for you! I’m probably overthinking it – I know that if it will be a dealbreaker then it’ll probably be a dealbreaker however I say it, but I really feel like this may be Dream Job and I am slightly freaking out. :)

    2. Sunflower*

      I think you’re over stressing over how to explain the move. I’ve always found it’s actually a good thing to be able to say ‘I tried this, it didn’t work, now I know it’s not for me and I know what I want’. It shows you’re willing to try new things but also able to recognize when something isn’t working. It also shows you’re sure of what you’re looking for, you’ll be happy doing it- that could be music to an employer’s ears.

      Any chance you can put a new voice mail on your phone that you are out of the country with limited phone access until x/x? Vacation reply on your email?

  40. Expendable Redshirt*

    Some good news to report (and praise for the AAM community!)

    I have a new job! The New Job is a big step upwards in both responsibility, compensation, and suits my temperament. Also, New Job is within my company so I already know the atmosphere is healthy. Strategies from AAM were a big part of what made me the successful candidate. Here is some feedback from the hiring manager on why I was the primary candidate.
    1) They liked that I asked questions at the end of the interview. Not every candidate did that.
    2) I asked “How is success defined in this role/program?” (a classic AAM interview question!) The HM was impressed that I cared about doing a good job, and that my clients were successful.
    3) They loved my soft skills (curiosity/problem solving/agreeable nature). My ability to “play nice with others and think” bumped me over individuals with more impressive hard skills but didn’t have the same human skills.

    Hopefully this story will help others with their job search. Don’t forget to ask questions at the end of an interview!

  41. Ask a Manager* Post author

    Thank you to everyone who shared your unprofessional moments in yesterday’s “great moments in unprofessionalism” post! I was up half the night reading them and laughing.

    (And I just left my own over there, in case anyone is interested.)

  42. thisisit*

    when you get asked in an interview about when you’re available to start, are you held to that answer? let’s say you interviewed on Jan 1, said you could start Feb 1-15, but Feb 1 rolls around and they haven’t extended an offer yet? If they extend it say on Feb 10, can you say, well, I won’t be available until March 10? (with some reasons, ie, job requires moving, last minute family-related travel, etc.) Notice doesn’t come into play because you are currently unemployed and your last contract ended Jan 31.

    1. Joey*

      You should be saying “I plan on giving two weeks notice.”

      And only give that two weeks when they’re ready to schedule a start date.

          1. thisisit*

            yes, well my question is about what happens *after* you’ve already given a time frame of availability. :)

    2. Not Today Satan*

      In the future I would say X days from the date of offer. If this already happened, I would hope that the employer would be understanding, and I wouldn’t hesitate to move back my start date,

      1. thisisit*

        yeah, i realized after i gave my answer that i should have just said a month after the offer. for whatever reason, i thought the offer would be coming earlier (don’t ask why, haha).

        so yeah, this has already happened. there hasn’t been an offer yet, but they are checking refs so a decision should be made shortly (yea or nay). the job does require moving to another country, so i figure asking for a start date a month out isn’t too crazy…. right? i mean, i’m available earlier, but i do still have to pack and do other stuff related to moving.

  43. Gwen O'Brien*

    Hi all–
    I am looking for a creative and appealing way to market a Friday night/Saturday day/Sunday day front desk position in a retirement community. I realize this is not the greatest schedule in the world, but it is a permanent position, no benefits except for PTO. Any suggestions would be appreciated!

    1. Sarah Nicole*

      Are you near a local community college or university? I would have taken a job like this in college – not everyone always wants their weekends free. You’d be surprised how many applicants you might get if you posted on their job board since some students want their weekdays free to schedule classes and do homework.

      1. soitgoes*

        I wonder how the school schedule would affect this job though…as soon as the semester’s over, this person’s availability might change. It’s something for the OP to take into consideration if she/he wants to hire someone who’ll stick around for a few years.

        1. Jennifer*

          But most college classes aren’t offered Friday nights, Saturdays, and Sundays. It seems ideal to not have to worry about a changing college class schedule.

          1. soitgoes*

            I’m talking about in a few weeks when the semester ends and there aren’t any classes at all, or in a year or two when that person graduates and suddenly needs full-time pay. It’s not an issue if OP is okay with turnover, but looking at community colleges is going to result in two-year employees at most.

    2. soitgoes*

      College students maybe? Or high school? You might have to bite the bullet and offer more benefits though, or restructure another role to take on a weekend afternoon so that this person isn’t giving up his or her entire weekend. A part-time permanent gig isn’t always easy to fill….hmmmm, good luck.

    3. AndersonDarling*

      My part time gig just hired a retiree for their weekend receptionist. You’d be surprised at how appealing that shift can be. As long as you make it clear what the hours are, you should have a good pool of candidates to choose from.
      Good luck!

    4. BRR*

      I would just state the schedule. There are plenty of people who are looking for a second job and if they have a traditional M-F job this is perfect for them.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        “Great PT job for someone looking for a second income or looking for a PT job that is not during usual business hours. The hours are _____. This is a permanent position.” [ list some skills needed, and some responsibilities of the job.]

  44. Startup @ tradeshow*

    I am part of a new software startup and we are attending our first tradeshow. We have a booth and will run a looped demo of the software (essentially a screencast of cool features). We will also have iPads for signing up/lead generation and a postcardy handout describing our benefits.

    What else do we need? What would you want from an interaction with a Saas company at a tradeshow?

    1. Dawn*

      People who man the booth who can tell me what you do and answer the question “Why should I care”. I would say that you should strive for ways to answer “Why should I care” without someone ever having to talk to anyone- have a big sign in the booth that explains in one or two sentences EXACTLY what you do and what your value-add to the market is. “Wakeen’s Teapots, featuring the never break(TM) handle and the revolutionary patent-pending NoDrip spout!”

      Trade shows can be a huge blur for attendees and for me I was always drawn to and grateful for companies that quickly caught my eye, got me interested, had someone who could answer any questions I had, didn’t try and rope me into the booth for a 15 minute demonstration (cause I have about 100 more booths to check out after theirs), and who allowed an easy method for follow-up WITHOUT requiring me to sign up for anything. Make sure you have a ton of business cards to hand out- if I was interested in a company, I was about a zillion times more likely to contact someone that I met and had their direct email than to sit around, wait for a marketing blast, and then have some company send me their newsletter once a week because I signed up at some trade show.

      1. the gold digger*

        People who man the booth who can tell me what you do and answer the question “Why should I care”.

        Exactly. Don’t tell me how it works. I don’t care. I want to know how you are going to solve my problems. How are you going to help me make more money, get more customers, and keep my current customers happy?

        I don’t buy a car because I want something with a manifold and 32 horses and V-whatever. I buy a car because I cannot get from point A to point B. I want to go there and not be cold and I want to listen to music while I do it.

    2. Brett*

      As a startup, have investment information available, if applicable. (Not sitting out on the table, but maybe tucked away in the founder’s briefcase.) I have worked part time for a startup as well, and we would get a surprising number of investment inquiries. I know this is normally super-complicated with SEC rules, but it does definitely happen.

      If at all possible, pricing info, even if vague.
      I hate when I am listening through a demo of a cool new software product, and find out it costs more than our entire software procurement budget for the year. (I can think of at least four times I sat through a demo and found out at the end that the software would cost our organization 7 figures.)

      The ability to run a live demo would be very useful, but not always feasible for SAAS with tradeshow internet.

    3. manomanon*

      Don’t try to make people stick around once they’ve decided the product doesn’t work for them. Obviously you have to balance this with the fact that you are making pitches but if you’re selling software to grade types of dark chocolate teapots only it won’t work for someone who only uses milk chocolate teapots. There’s no need to try to make the milk chocolate person stick around when you could focus on getting dark chocolate customers in front of your booth.

  45. Sarah Nicole*

    Yay! This is my first time asking an open thread question. So I’m newish to my job, been here 5 months. I’m at a small (55 people) IT company in a marketing role. Some changes occurred as I came on board and my big boss left the company – no ill will, just had personal things to tend to. My coworker was promoted to Director and is a really cool guy. I just have one beef with him. We sit in a open floor plan and he sits behind me facing the opposite wall in our corner, and when I turn around to talk with him, he stays facing his computer and talks to me with his back to me! Once in a while he will turn around, but mainly he stays facing his desk.

    Is it just me, or does this seem off? I sort of feel like I’m not important enough for him to face me when we need to discuss something, and it makes me feel sort of bad. BUT other than that he is a great boss and totally cool. Do I try and talk to him about this, or do I let it go since he’s so cool otherwise? A little more info: sometimes execs will come over to talk with marketing, but I’ll sort of be left out of the conversation as I often have my headphones in, and we do generally have a culture of “approach to talk about anything without asking to interrupt.” Also our other coworker who is here part-time faces him and she interrupts him all day, but obviously it’s easier for him to look at her since they face each other.

    I know it’s weird, but it makes me feel lonely and left out. What do I do? I don’t want to annoy him since I’m so new and want to be here for a long time.

      1. Sarah Nicole*

        Thanks, CrazyCatLady! I would tend to agree, it doesn’t seem personal in any way. I guess this is a “don’t sweat the small stuff” situation. I am so not good at these! But maybe this one was sent to me to help me get better at it.

    1. Beancounter in Texas*

      To me, that’s weird, but maybe he’s assuming you’re talking over your shoulder too. In which case, start doing that or walk around to his line of vision to talk with him. Your other option is to let it go too. Good luck.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Can you hear every word he says? If people talk to me with their backs turned, I sometimes miss words here and there. I have used that to open conversations about looking up or turning around. “I hate pointing this out, but if you don’t turn to face me, sometimes I miss some of the things you say. This concerns me because I don’t want to miss what you are saying.”

    2. nof*

      I agree with above but since he turns around sometime, you could also wait to talk until he turns around.
      “Hey, Joe?”
      “Uh huh?” *without turning around*
      “Do you a sec?”
      *either turns around – success! – or affirms again without turning
      “I have a question about XYZ…”
      At that point, I think most people will turn around. If so, tentative victory! Try that a few times and see if he starts turning earlier, maybe he just got into a bad habit of not looking up from his screen but the positive reward of a face-to-face conversation will get him back on track. But if he never turns without prodding, lay off and use only when you really need it, you don’t want to be annoying and sometimes you just have to go with other people’s conversational styles!

      1. Sarah Nicole*

        nof, true! I should try and get used to it. I’ve sort of tried this and I’ve figured out that if he doesn’t plan to turn around, it’s not happening, lol. Thanks for the reminder that others communicate differently, that does help me feel better about it. It’s not a big deal when you put it that way!

  46. Abc123*

    I’m about to graduate college, so all of my work experience is in student jobs and summer internships, though they’re relevant to what I want to work in. When I list them on my resume, should I indicate whether they were part time and the number of hours/week I work? Or should I just assume that they know, since it’s obvious that these jobs took place while I was in school?

    1. CrazyCatLady*

      I personally wouldn’t list them as being part-time but if it comes up, I would tell them.

    2. Sospeso*

      As many people here have mentioned, resumes are marketing tools: they don’t have to cover everything, but they should be truthful about what they do cover. I wouldn’t list your hours and such on your resume for two reasons. One, I think that the extra text might make your resume more difficult to scan quickly. And two, if your resume is clearly laid out, your interviewer should be able to get a sense of how you balanced your internships/summer jobs with your college education.

      I recently graduated, and many interviewers weren’t shy about asking how much time on average I spent in relevant activities. (“Oh, I see you were in a research lab. About how much time per week did you spend doing that? What did that look like?”).

    3. S*

      I’m a recent grad (about a year out now) and hiring managers for entry-level jobs should (and most likely will) understand that these were all internships and summer jobs when they see your graduation date and educational history! And when you mention the title/position, it will be very obvious when you write ‘summer intern’ or ‘summer associate’ or whatever it may be.

  47. Delyssia*

    I have a career guidance question… or maybe two.

    In my first two jobs out of school, I was a good, but not great, employee. At my current job, I’m pretty much a rock star. But there’s not much advancement opportunity, and I can’t see myself doing exactly this for another 30 years until I retire. How do you figure out what aspects of a job you’re really good at transfer to other fields, careers, etc.?

    In general, I have no idea what I want to do next. Oddly enough, that makes it really hard to look for something (needle in a haystack and all that). What resources have you all found helpful in finding a direction, identifying potential career paths, and anything else related to career and professional guidance?

    1. Jennifer*

      Um…I just look for what jobs have similar enough experience to what I have at this point. The trend these days is to pretty much hire someone who’s already done it before, and in your resume/cover letter you need to be proving that you already have what they want.

      1. Delyssia*

        My past job changes have been in the same general field, but not doing exactly the same thing. If I’m going to continue to do exactly what I’m doing now, then I’d rather stay here where at least I know I like the people and the company. I’m trying to figure out how to tell from the outside what related, but not exactly the same, jobs I would rock at vs. which ones I would do okay at.

        1. little Cindy Lou who*

          I wouldn’t think of it as seeking out something completely different unless you want a wild change. Usually it’s thinking of what industries you find interesting and looking for a job that uses similar skills (eg are you proficient with a certain type of software? Do you do analysis? ) or identifying roles that give you a slightly different or enhanced set of responsibilities similar to what you do now.

          There are plenty of resources online with general descriptions of jobs and industries that you can browse for ideas. And if you have mentors or former bosses you keep in touch with they may be able to suggest ideas on what you’re especially good at and seem to enjoy.

        2. little Cindy Lou who*

          I wouldn’t think of it as seeking out something completely different unless you want a wild change. Usually it’s thinking of what industries you find interesting and looking for a job that uses similar skills (eg are you proficient with a certain type of software? Do you do analysis? ) or identifying roles that give you a slightly different or enhanced set of responsibilities similar to what you do now.

          There are plenty of resources online with general descriptions of jobs and industries that you can browse for ideas. And if you have mentors or former bosses you keep in touch with they may be able to suggest ideas on what you’re especially good at and seem to enjoy. You might even eke it out of your current manager if you phrase it as wanting to talk about your performance and talking strengths / weaknesses

  48. Worried Contractor*

    I’m currently working as a contractor at Teapot Inc. via a recruiting agency. I was told that if I was interested in applying to a job posting for Teapot Inc., I had to let my recruiter know. I did see a job I wanted to apply to this past summer, and told my recruiter. She said to send her my resume and wait for her suggestions on editing it before applying. She never responded with suggestions even after a few follow up e-mails, and by the time I decided to just apply, the job posting was taken down. (A few weeks later I got a reply that simply said, “These went to my spam folder. I’ve fixed the issue.” My e-mails had never gone to her spam folder before so that was suspicious, and she didn’t apologize as if it didn’t matter, which was very off-putting.)

    The same position was open again this past week, so I applied without telling my recruiter, and someone from Teapot Inc. called me the next day to schedule a phone interview for next week!

    I’m not sure what to do about my recruiter now. After what happened the first time I let them know I was interested in applying to the job, I’m afraid of letting them know and having them somehow ruin my chances again. (Don’t they make more money off of me as a contractor than if I got hired, so they might *not* want me to get hired?) Could I get in trouble if they found out though? (They technically already knew I was interested in the position, and my recruiter is on leave without a replacement yet, so are those okay excuses for not telling them?)

    Another concern is that if I’m asked to interview in person, I’d need to schedule it during work hours. I have to give a few days advance notice if I want to take off from work which makes scheduling hard, and I wanted to ask the recruiting agency if interviews with Teapot Inc. would be an exception to this rule. But I’m afraid of letting them know I applied for the above reasons.

    1. Sunflower*

      The way most recruiting agencies are set-up is that if they do place you somewhere full-time, the client is required to pay them a fee for that. That’s why the recruiter didn’t want you to apply on your own- they want to make sure they get the fee. I would just email someone from the recruiting agency and say ‘Hey I saw this job at Teapots Inc. I know Rob is gone now and I wasn’t sure who to email about this so I went ahead and applied on my own.’ They might be pissed(some are really staunch about candidates not having any real direct interaction with clients) but as long as they get the fee, they’ll be happy.

  49. S. Ninja*

    This is the standard “I’ve been out of work for about a year and am rapidly losing my sense of self-worth” post. I really hate to job-hunt, and keep managing to convince myself that places I try to apply for would never want to hire me. I’m working with a vocational rehabilitation counselor, but I don’t see anything in the near future.

    What do I do to prevent myself from going crazy/giving up all hope? Is there a way to shorten this whole process so I can be working and feeling as if I have some value to society again?

    1. CrazyCatLady*

      Could you volunteer in the meantime? Maybe it would at least boost your self-esteem and make you feel like you’re contributing.

    2. Buu*

      Give yourself a routine that involves something constructive, get up in the morning have breakfast. Try and add stuff to your schedule like going to the library, or for a walk etc.

      What type of work would you like to do? Perhaps we can suggest things you could do.

      1. S. Ninja*

        I have degrees in library science (MLIS) and biology. I don’t really know what I’d like to do, but at this point it doesn’t actually matter, as long as I get paid for doing something.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Well, why not apply for jobs that you have the quals for and see where that puts you.

          I think the real problem here is your self-talk. And that can do a real number on our heads. Change your mind, change your life. So fortify first- good, healthy foods, take walks/other exercise on a regular basis. Yep, doing these basics matters. Not much different than putting Kool-aid in the gas tank of your car and expecting your car to run well. You can’t fill your brain with trash about yourself and run very well.
          Here’s something to check out- pretend you have a dear, dear friend who is really upset about job hunting. Gosh, it’s so hard to see her this way, this is your dear, dear friend. So you decide to try to help. What will you tell her?
          Then say those things to yourself.

        2. Buu*

          Have any educational facilities near you? For example a University with a science dept? Perhaps they might have work for you in their library ( or will let you volunteer for a bit). That would use both qualifications. Are there any science related media companies in your area? ( ie journals, educational materials) Again might use both areas.

          Also take a look for temp work even if it’s just a day or two here or there. We’re heading Summer so that’s a great temp time for entertainment related jobs ( ie working the fun fair, promotional work for summer related activity places, theme parks…) Look in more informal job ad places for those ( the paper, community notices)

          I’ve been in the situation where just any work would do, but I also think it unfocused my search a bit. Perhaps divide up your job time so you apply for general jobs and more targeted jobs as well.

  50. HR Shenanigans*

    I need a bit of reassurance that I’ve done all I can/should do. We recently interviewed and decided to hire someone. At the time I expressed concern to the hiring manager about the cultural fit of the person. I really don’t think they’re approach will work well with our current dynamics. The Hiring Manager decided to make the offer. The candidate pushed in their interview wanting additional PTO. The HM made it clear that they weren’t a fan of giving additional PTO but would concede to x additional days.

    So we extended an offer to the person. They will be moving from Canada (where they are a citizen) to the USA. We made a verbal offer, which they agreed to. He sent us a checklist of things needed in the written offer in order to obtain access at the border. We followed up with a draft of the offer letter including the items on the checklist for immigration purposes. The candidate made changes to the offer letter, including adding additional PTO, and sent back an email stating that they’d made changes and highlighted them in yellow.

    Many of the changes were fine and potentially wanted, but not needed per our immigration attorney, for getting the best status for working here. He also added things to the offer letter that were not on the checklist nor anywhere we could find online. Things like gross revenues of the company, President’s cell phone number, President’s home address, guaranteed employment until certain date, etc. It doesn’t sit well with me that they made some substantial changes, like adding PTO, and then just sent it back without calling to discuss or at least acknowledging that they had done something that changes their compensation. We also cannot guarantee employment to any date as we are in an at-will state and do not want to set up an employment contract. We are also not providing home addresses or cell phone numbers. The office number will suffice and it is all on company letterhead so that and more information is available as well.

    I again expressed my concern to the HM and mentioned that I didn’t like the approach for the changes and didn’t like the strange requests without an explanation for them. We consulted with our immigration attorney and made sure our letter will suffice and are planning on sending back the final version to the candidate.

    Long story short, I’m concerned this candidate, given recent events and his work history, is just trying to make it back into the USA and will not be with the company for long. Generally I get a not-great vibe from him. Have I done all I can or should I push more?

    1. AndersonDarling*

      That sounds really sketchy, really, really sketchy. I’ve worked with jerky salespeople who would play the same kind of game with contracts. They would agree to change the quantity ordered, but then they would sneak in other changes to the contract and not say anything. The trusting client would sign the contract, a few months later they would find the changes, and the salesperson would pretty much tell them they are stupid for being so trusting.
      Underhandedly trying to get more PTO is disturbing. And you can be sure that attitude of deception will be displayed in their work.

    2. Artemesia*

      Well he is going to need that extra PTO for interviewing for the job he really wants.

    3. The Toxic Avenger*

      This person is acting like, and will be, an unreasonable, high maintenance nightmare. If you can, try to convince the hiring manager to DTMFA and find someone else!

    4. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

      Good god.

      Someone would need to be a rockstar level to pull something like that off, say, walking in with a $25 million dollar book of business or a talent equally rare and valuable. Even then I wouldn’t bring the person on board without some meeting of the minds on culture and the way we treat each other.

      In my world, our HR director would say, “I think you are making a big mistake and here’s why”. She’s been at HR for a zillion years, although only recently at our company. Sometimes the HM listen to her and sometimes they don’t and then tell her later that they should have.

      She sees it as her job to make sure that people are well informed of the trap they are about to step into, but after she’s made it as clear as possible, she continues the hire process with a smile (while muttering under her breath I am sure.)

      I think her approach is perfect.

  51. Bridget*

    I’m starting a new job next week that I’m really excited about. Would it look like I was sucking up/brown-nosing if I brought in Munchkins or something on my first day? I’ve never done such a thing before.

    1. Trixie*

      Eh, I wouldn’t. Focus on the job, meeting folks, getting to know the office, etc. It’s great to be excited about a new job but treats, candy, etc. can wait until the next holiday.

    2. Artemesia*

      Don’t immediately jump into the role of office mommy. How many men would think to do this on a first day?

    3. Beancounter in Texas*

      I brought a dozen bagels with cream cheese packets once about two or three months into this job to an office of six people. I was the only one who ate the bagels. Everyone else was on a weight-loss diet, was “full from breakfast” or claimed not to like bagels. It felt weird that nobody accepted my offer. Double-whammy in awkwardness for bringing bagels to an office of Jews, although I didn’t mean anything by it; it was a total whim to bring anything at all.

      1. nof*

        Ouch! I love bagels, come to my office!

        Does highlight the risks though; most offices love food, but plenty don’t do that or only do it in certain ways/times.

    4. Random CPA*

      They should be bringing you munchkins :)

      We usually do go out to lunch or order in when we have a new person start (paid for by the company).

  52. Meg*

    I really love when people pop in and share details of their careers, especially when they aren’t widely known, so I thought I’d do the same! I work in institutional research, which is a division of higher education administration. We handle the data about the university and inform a lot of the strategic planning. We also organize all of the federal reporting that’s required for colleges, we run studies, and we do specialized projects for various academic and administrative departments. I basically get to play with data all day, so I love my job. I think it’s a great job for someone who loves data and also enjoys working with non-data-oriented people, as we often have to make presentations to people and groups around the university.

    It’s a great option if you want to work in higher education but don’t have a specialization in a certain field — everyone comes from varied backgrounds, though most people have some experience in education administration and/or data and statistics.

    1. Jillociraptor*

      Ooh, I’m so glad you shared this. That sounds really interesting. If you don’t mind sharing, what is your professional background like? How did you get into this line of work? How does your work break down between longer term/planned projects and more emergent, short-cycle things?

      1. Meg*

        I have an M.S. degree in a quantitative field and a solid background in data and statistics, though I had no direct prior experience with education administration. The university I work at is the biggest employer in the town I moved to (for my spouse’s job), so I was just looking for jobs and this one sounded interesting!

        The majority of the work is long-term cyclical projects (such as various rankings and federal reporting requirements that come around at certain times of the year) with other institution-specific projects mixed in (such as working with surveys, financial aid, admissions, etc.). I don’t often work on urgent things with short deadlines, which works well with my personality type. I like to plan things out!

        1. Jillociraptor*

          So interesting! I don’t know how I’d do in a mostly long-cycle environment. I like the thrill of the chase too much to give that up entirely :). I’ll have to keep an eye out for roles like this! I live in a university town (with a HUGE university) so I’m definitely looking at roles within the system.

          Thanks for sharing about your job!

    2. Elsajeni*

      Neat, hi! I’m in an IR-adjacent job — I do similar work, but college-specific rather than university-wide, and I work with our university IR folks pretty regularly — and I love it. My favorite task is filling out rankings profiles, because I am a weirdo.

      1. Meg*

        Then I must be a weirdo too! :) Everyone’s doing the US News rankings right now, and it’s pretty fun.

  53. hopefully_not_a_trainwreck*

    Help! I had a phone screening yesterday that came as a bit of a surprise. It was rescheduled from last week, but I never got a confirmation from the recruiter. I sent an email reply to her (the last email being “I will follow up with a confirmation”) thanking her for setting up the call and expressing how enthusiastic I am about the position, but I’m still super nervous!!!

    I expressed to my interviewers how I did not receive a confirmation but would love to do the interview win the moment. But here’s the catch — it’s for a job that requires my second language skills, and while I am skilled in the language (and we had a fine interview/conversation, very minimal re-explanations/confusion) I had not “thought”/spoken the language in a few days and I don’t think I performed at my best. I had a really bad accent ahaaaaa…they said I did well though and they were going to follow up with the next step (as their job was to just screen my language skills)

    I’m going crazy. I need to vent. But if anyone has any words of advice please help. GAH.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      They know they caught you by surprise. You probably did do well and you are probably just feeling super-critical of yourself. Alison always says to take them at their word. I think it’s a good idea if for no other reason then to save your sanity.

      Go out for a walk or do some other activity to burn through that nervous energy.

  54. AdAgencyChick*

    Woohoo, I’ve been waiting for Friday to ask this!

    Not on my own behalf, but it came up recently while at…team drinks, of course. I say “of course” because it’s a question about drinking culture.

    Advertising is notoriously boozy. We’re not as bad these days as “Mad Men,” that is, there’s almost always no drinking during working hours. (Almost! During St. Patrick’s Day or Cinco de Mayo, though, forget it. The party starts at 3.) But there’s still a lot of expectation for “playing hard,” especially when we’re with clients. Not so much when we travel to see them, because they go home to their families — but when they come to see us, or we’re all meeting at some off-site location (say, for a conference), OMG, forget it. They want to get sloshed and they want their agency people to get sloshed right along with them. There’s also a fair amount of team outings to bars. (As an introvert who doesn’t drink much, I HATE this aspect of my job!)

    Anyway, during a team drinks outing this week, one of my colleagues said that, when she was pregnant, she actually ordered a beer that came in a dark bottle so that she could pretend to sip it and thereby not disclose her pregnancy earlier than she wanted to! I hate that she had to do that, and I wondered, since I myself was not drinking at this outing (for reasons unrelated to pregnancy), was I going to start the rumor mill? (Fortunately, I’ve already established myself as a low-volume drinker/eccentric health nut if you ask my coworkers, so I’m guessing I didn’t — but I certainly could have.)

    Would love to hear what other people in “work hard, play hard,” aka “spend all your time with your coworkers either working or getting plastered,” cultures have done or would do in a situation where not drinking puts a big cloud over your head.

    1. Delyssia*

      Cranberry juice (maybe a quarter of a glass), topped with sparkling water, with a twist of lime, gives the illusion of being potentially alcoholic… As long as you can order one-on-one with the bartender.

      If you need an excuse, you can always claim to be on medication where you can’t drink and just say you’re fine if anyone presses for details. Though, really, anyone who harasses you about not drinking deserves a full-on lecture on whatever new fad diet there is that tells you to avoid alcohol. (In general, I think there’s nothing worse than listening to someone drone on about their diet with the zeal of the newly converted, but I think in certain situations, it’s deserved.)

      Of course, while I’ve worked with my share of borderline alcoholics, it’s been fine if someone in the group said, “I’ll just have iced tea.”

    2. Not Today Satan*

      I wouldn’t worry about the pregnancy thing.. when your belly remains the same size it’ll become obvious you’re not pregnant. Plus, you’ve always been a light drinker. It’s when someone who *always* gets a drink suddenly stops (every outing) that it makes people think she might be pregnant.

      When with clients, would it be possible to ask the bartender to serve you a seltzer with lime in a cocktail glass (like a high ball)?

    3. Sunflower*

      I’ve not been in a spot like that but I had a friend who was pregnant, not showing, and wanted to still hang out at the bar with friends. She would order a club soda or cranberry juice, head to the bathroom if people were buying shots or rounds. You can always order a dark beer bottle, dump and fill with water in the bathroom.

      Funny thing is once people get drunk, they all seem to think other people are not drunk enough no matter how much they’ve had to drink. Hate to admit I actually do this but yes I have thrown shots on the floor because I didn’t want them and no one has noticed.

      1. AdAgencyChick*

        “Funny thing is once people get drunk, they all seem to think other people are not drunk enough no matter how much they’ve had to drink.”

        FOR REALZ.

        Duh, “vodka cranberry minus the cranberry” is such an obvious solution. (I guess I never thought of it because I quit drinking juice a while ago, but it’s useful.) Thanks, you guys.

        1. AvonLady Barksdale*

          While I hated it, you could always go the diet route. I used to work in sales support, and all of those women were on diets so they rarely drank anything. “Oh, I had my vodka calories for the day.” Ugh. (For the record, I did a lot of cranberry and soda with a splash of vodka.)

    4. Not So NewReader*

      A friend was in optics, this was years ago. She got sent to school for something. The drinking culture was so big, people were coming to training still sloshed from the night before. Now, my friend was a pretty heavy drinker, too. These people were way out beyond what she was doing. After a bit, she found she had to quit the field.

      Moral of the story- even if you do drink heartily you can still feel very out of place.

    5. DEJ*

      I work in college sports and often have the same problem and have usually done the ‘water looks like gin/tonic or vodka/tonic’ approach although I think I’ll need to add the ‘vodka cranberry without the vodka’ idea to the rotation. I also usually tip the bartenders/waitresses well when they do this, to make up for the lack of alcohol sales. Quite honestly, it’s worth it.

  55. T*

    I do volunteer office work for an organization, but since I got my latest job I haven’t been doing it as often. Unsurprisingly, they have a new volunteer coming in more regularly to work on projects, etc. That’s completely fine, but I was recently on the phone with the volunteer coordinator and she made some remark about how they need someone who AGREES to do all the work they want them to do and was really insinuating that I declined doing tasks they assigned me. However, I never, ever declined doing any task for them as a volunteer. Some weeks they didn’t have anything extra for me to do. I’m feeling really, REALLY annoyed by that comment. I know I should probably let it go, but I just want to know what exactly happened to make her say that?

    I’m supposed to go in later in the month and meet with the other volunteer and, I guess, be her “assistant,” but would it be worth mentioning that comment again to the volunteer coordinator? It really stung and I just don’t get it.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      “Jane, when we talked the other day, I had the impression that you were saying that I had declined to do tasks you’d assigned, and I was taken aback by that, because I think I’ve been vigilant about doing what’s requested of me. Did I misunderstand?”

  56. Anon for this*

    I have a coworker who consistently signs off e-mails with “Please advise.” I don’t think he realizes that in our culture, “Please advise” is usually used to mean “Why haven’t you given me this yet?”

    Is there any way to tell him this? He’s someone I work with regularly and is slightly higher in position than me, though not my manager. (Think that I’m a Handle Engineer and he’s a Senior Spout Engineer.)

    1. Anon for this*

      Further information, I know one of his subordinates feels very frustrated because she feels he doesn’t trust her to respond, even though I know he signs off most of his e-mails that way.

    2. Not Today Satan*

      I don’t know… are his emails like, “Trying to decide which is a better strategy. Please advise”? I think usually the context will make the meaning obvious. I don’t think I’d bother saying anything.

      1. Kelly L.*

        Yeah this–I always thought it meant more like “Um..HALP.” If it is actually more confrontational than that, I’ll have to stop using it that way!

        And yes, it would be very weird if he just put it on everything regardless of context.

        1. Not Today Satan*

          I’ve definitely seen it used passive aggressively. Like, “Previously you said [something that contradicts what they just said. Please advise.”

          1. Amtelope*

            This is the most common context in which I see the phrase at work (and I’m not sure I’d call it passive-aggressive, but then I’m in a culture that insists on polite phrasing even when you’re really mad) — in response to either contradictory instructions or radio silence. “Your email Monday said to use dark chocolate for the teapot handles, but the client’s instructions say white chocolate. Has that changed? Please advise.” “I haven’t gotten approval to book my flight to the teapot convention, but if I’m going we need to book that today; please advise.” I wouldn’t use it just to ask a question or make a request.

            1. Tris Prior*

              Boyfriend and I have a running joke that “please advise” in an email is corporate-friendly-speak for “you dumb shit!” In his company it’d be in response to a co-worker refusing to cough up info he needs to meet a deadline. At my former job it’d be in response to getting instructions from a boss that bear no bloody resemblance to what the client told both of you a day ago.

              (at my present job it’s not an issue because we’d just say “you dumb shit!” in the first place. :) Mostly kidding. Really, we’re not all a-holes or anything. It’s just really nice to work somewhere where it’s OK to be blunt!)

        2. Anon for this*

          To clarify, I don’t think it’s normally used that way! It’s just that in our SPECIFIC culture, it usually is so he’s coming across as more passive-aggressive than he means.

          1. Jillociraptor*

            That’s definitely true in our culture, too. Please advise actually usually means, “This is your responsibility and you dropped the ball majorly.” It is a pretty aggressive thing!

          2. Anonsie*

            That’s interesting. In my experience “please advice” only means “you’ve messed up and you need to tell us how you’re going to fix it” in some contexts, and in most it’s face value.

            I would just tell him in person when you get a chance, but sooner is a lot better because the more times he does this before you tell him the more awkward he’s going to feel.

        3. Beezus*

          In my company, “please advise” usually means, “I’ve asked you for this twice (or more) and I’m not getting it yet, get off your ass and get it for me, already.” Sometimes, they take the passive out of passive aggressive by preceding it thusly – “Second request – please advise!” They’re really mad if they put it in the subject line, add extra exclamation points, use CAPS, and/or cc: your manager.

      1. Anon for this*

        Yeah, it’s odd. If it was just for me, I would write it off as a vague annoyance and not say anything, but I happen to know it really, really bothers the person who directly reports to him.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      I can go either way on this one.
      If it is bothering “everyone” then it is “everyone’s” responsibility to tell him. I think complaining about this behind his back is passive-aggressive on their part. If I landed on this as my thoughts on the matter, I would tell anyone who complained to me, “Well, maybe you should mention it to him, if it bothers you so.”

      But, OTH, I could see myself going over to his desk and saying “hey, Bob, I know you don’t realize but here, at this company, people think that “please advise” means you are ticked at them. I know that’s not true and I just wanted to give you the heads up.”
      At this point, Bob is going to start questioning every thing he types because who’d thunk that “please advise” was upsetting to people. So I am leaning toward the answer of telling people that they should let him know it is upsetting to them.

  57. Jen RO*

    I need some opinions.

    Two of my direct reports keep laughing and giggling and high-fiving loudly every day. We are a casual company, so ‘slacking’ online is not frowned upon, and I don’t care if they read 9gag as long as they finish the work.

    But they are loud, and annoying, and they behave like high schoolers. Virtually everyone in my department has complained to me about them (along the lines of ‘wtf can be so funny all day long?’, ‘how can you stand them?’, etc.).

    The question: what do I do? *Do* I do anything? I have told them to tone it down but I think I’ve been too subtle… probably because couldn’t think of a good enough (work related) reason to tell them to shut it. I’m also at bitch-eating-crackers phase and not seeing very clearly… I stopped caring about their professional reputation at this point, but I do care about the team’s. If having a good team reputation means I have to coach them, so be it, but honestly I’m tired, and if 20-something adults can’t figure out how to be professional, I’m not willing to act like their mother.

    1. FD*

      I would suggest saying something like, “Wakeen and Jill, we don’t mind that you’re having fun, but you’re consistently being loud enough to disrupt others. I expect you to keep it down in the future.”

    2. AdAgencyChick*

      You have a work-related reason: It’s disturbing their colleagues! I think you need to be very direct and unsubtle having a conversation about the pattern (not just telling them to cool it at individual instances): I’ve noticed that you spend a lot of time joking around at loud volume, that volume is disturbing to your coworkers, and I need you to be quieter. Then the “tone it down” comments you make if you catch them at it in spite of your instructions are tied to clear instructions they’ve gotten to change the pattern.

      And if they won’t stop despite being told they need to cut out the pattern, then you escalate it — “In order for you to continue working here, I need you to keep the volume to a minimum so that the environment is conducive to everyone getting their work done. Can you do that?” Basically, escalate to, “If you don’t do this, your job is in jeopardy.”

    3. Nobody*

      Yes, PLEASE do something about it! Your team is looking to you to solve this problem, and it will hurt your reputation if you don’t address it. When you asked them to tone it down, was it in the moment (i.e., the bad behavior was happening at the time and you told them to stop it)? If so, they might have gotten the impression that their behavior is fine until you tell them to stop, and it might be more effective to meet with them privately to tell them it’s an ongoing issue and you expect them to change going forward.

    4. Amtelope*

      I’d say to each of them individually, “I need you to be quieter when you’re working; your loud talking and laughing is distracting other people and making it difficult for them to work.” And then repeat “That’s too loud; I need you to keep it down” when you catch them at it.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      I have hit some stuff like this when I have been responsible for a group. I had to remind myself that subtle does not work. Speak directly. “You are doing X and you need to stop right now. This is your verbal warning. Your next warning will be a written warning.”
      I reached the stage that involved cracker eating, I had to recognize that I did this to myself. Because I did not end the situation when I first saw it unfolding, I am now stuck cleaning up a larger mess. So the first step was to clearly explain what was expected and what the person needed to change. This was not pleasant because by this point I realized I should have done this awhile ago. The next step was to follow up as needed. And because I let it go, follow up was tiring. But I had to do it because I believe once you start something like this you do not stop- you see it through.

      1. Windchime*

        Yes, this. “Tone it down” is very vague. It would be better to be more specific: “The loud outbursts of laughing and high-fiving are distracting to the rest of the team. I need you to stop that behavior.”

  58. Lazimpat*

    I’m having trouble figuring out how to list my current job on my resume. Last spring I used Kickstarter to fund a film project that I’m completing alone over the course of this year. For six months, it’s a full-time job, in that I don’t have time to do work in my other field. I’m not sure who to list as my employer. I’ve done a few small videos for non-profits, but not enough to make a living, so “self-employed” sounds wrong. Currently, no one is planning to buy the film, so “freelance” also seems incorrect. But it’s definitely a job in that I am getting paid (and I’m doing a lot of work). Any suggestions for how to list this on a resume?

    1. Buu*

      Give yourself a routine that involves something constructive, get up in the morning have breakfast. Try and add stuff to your schedule like going to the library, or for a walk etc.

      What type of work would you like to do? Perhaps we can suggest things you could do.

    2. Buu*

      Woops somehow my last reply re-posted here. What I meant to post was something like:
      Project Organiser -” Bladedah film” < an appropriate job title and the film's name instead of an employer.
      Co-coordinating a successful crowding campaign and creating the resulting film < some kind of summary that shows how awesome you are to organise a kickstarter and creating the resulting film.

      What parts of your role on the project depend on what job you're applying for.

    3. Dawn*

      “Self Employed” is fine. Be sure to bullet point your achievements! Working by yourself on a Kickstarter funded film project sounds AWESOME, so make your bullet points reflect how awesome it is. I bet that it’ll be a heck of a conversation starter in interviews!

    4. oaktown*

      I would just put “Filmmaker” and no employer.
      And then list the fact that you raised the money and are doing the work yourself as part of the’description’. I think that covers your bases.

  59. Alliej0516*

    This is just a petty little gripe, but I do find a little humor in it. Does anyone else work with an “announcer”? I’m glad that we have a high cubicle wall separating us so that she can’t see my face when it happens, but I sit next to a woman who feels the need to announce everything she’s doing… Okay, I’m going to start on this project then I’ll finish that spreadsheet… I’m back from lunch, going to get coffee… I’m going to take my coffee mug home over the weekend and run it through the dishwasher… calling Lorelei to get that file that I need… it IS comical, although I’m not sure if she expects an answer or an ovation? ;-) Anyone else?

    1. Calacademic*

      Aggh, you’ve made me self-conscious, because I know I do this to some extent. I have to leave my building to work in another building on campus, so I often announce my departure as I walk out of the shared office space. At least one person has said to me, “Okay… why do I need to know this?” (Because… because… um…)

    2. jhhj*

      I’m like that. I talk to myself. I talk to my computer. I talk to the chair (it doesn’t stay at the right height). Luckily I have my own office, but I have been asked “excuse me” when I am in the middle of a clearly important conversation with the printer.

    3. AVP*

      There was a guy on the subway like this recently. “The train is delayed! We are waiting for the train! It has been 10 minutes! The new train is coming! I am getting on! I am sitting down! I wonder where those people are from!”

      Besides the announcements, though, he didn’t seem crazy. My boss turned to me and said, “I wonder what he ISN’T telling us all? What does the INNER monologue sound like??”

    4. Tara*

      I’m one of these! I’m super scatter brained and I rarely remember things unless I say them out loud. Although I try not to do it outside of the house. This is also why I listen to music during work periods at school, because if I don’t it’s almost impossible to contain the “Now I take the derivative… There’s the slope… Now I have to find the equation… damn, well, that was wrong… oh!” which I’ve been informed others Do Not Appreciate. (And I was 100% unaware of doing it until someone pointed it out and I’m now mortified about three months of being the most annoying person in calculus class.)

    5. Not So NewReader*

      I had a family member like this. She had no clue how much she discredited herself with other people. There was a lot of talk behind her back about it.
      The most annoying thing about it, was that when she spoke I would stop to listen (because I was never sure if she meant it for me or not) and lose my own train of thought in the process. I felt like saying, I have to work hard to keep my thoughts organized, too. I guess she wasn’t thinking about that.

    6. nof*

      My husband does this – not what he’s doing but his to do list. Honestly it irrationally enrages me! I’ve noted in not his personal secretary and I don’t care, but he says he’s just taking to himself :)

      The poster above who announces when she’s changing buildings, I don’t think that’s as bad since it’s potentially useful information. Sometimes a person might want to ask you a quick question before you go that’s easier to do in person than on the phone it whatever.

      1. nof*

        Oops, meant to add, husband is very much an auditory learner and I’m very much not, which I think explains why it is so useful to some and so annoying to others!

    7. Windchime*

      We used to have a person like this until just recently. She would not only talk to herself, but she would mutter snarky comments under her breath in meetings, etc. It’s like she was compelled to do it. Someone else would be explaining something, and she would mutter, “Yeah, we GET it, we know!” , or “Yeah, good luck with THAT”.

      So annoying.

  60. ArtsNerd*

    Following up on a post I made in the unprofessional thread: what’s the weirdest phone message you’ve ever received?

    Once I received a post-it note that just said: “FBI laser pointers planes. – Christine {phone number.}” When I called the number, it was a main switchboard, not for the FBI, and the poor receptionist had no idea who Christine was.

    I was so excited/disappointed to find out what was actually going on with that.

    1. Kai*

      I got a voicemail from a woman screaming angrily about how she hadn’t been reimbursed for the school bus she rented for a class trip, or something. It went on for several minutes. And my job has nothing to do with bus rentals or student trips or anything like that.

    2. Jennifer*

      I got a guy cussing out our computer system. Happily, he did not leave a number to call him back at.

    3. Amethyst*

      I once had a long rambling message from someone cussing us out for not being open when she came in for her appointment with the doctor. Eventually she used the doctor’s name, and it was not my boss’s name. She had gotten the location completely wrong (think Boston vs. the Cape). That was an awkward return call.

    4. S*

      I wasn’t the recipient, but just yesterday, we had to dial in a remote team member into our morning meeting, so we called and started with ‘hey, [remote team member],’ and then launched into our meeting as usual. Five minutes later, when we asked for updates on Remote Member’s project, he cleared his throat and said that we’d dialed in the wrong person.

      Turns out our manager has more than one guy with the same name as Remote Member in his phone, and gave us the wrong number. Thankfully nothing confidential was shared during that time period!

      1. little Cindy Lou who*

        I work regularly with a senior systems guy who has the same (admittedly awesome) name as a sales guy. I once reached out to the sales guy with a message chock full of tech talk and got an awkward “…you want the tech guy” response. I was mortified haha.

    5. Sara*

      When I worked for county government, I got a message that was probably meant for the sheriff’s office from someone whose neighbor was threatening him with a gun. (Like, at that moment, the neighbor was threatening him with a gun.) I have no idea why the caller wouldn’t have called 911 (or why he would have thought that leaving a message for what he thought was some law enforcement agency was the best way to go). We passed the message along to the sheriff’s office but never found out what happened with that situation. It made me anxious to listen to my voicemail for a couple weeks afterwords.

    6. ThursdaysGeek*

      This wasn’t a phone message, but rather a phone call, and it was my co-worker who received it. This is from decades ago. She was running the main switchboard for the hospital we worked at, and we didn’t know that a brochure for a hotel had a typo and gave this number.

      Someone called and wanted to make reservations. Well, if you’re doing an elective surgery, you could call to reserve a room, so it wasn’t immediately obvious it was a wrong number. She got the date he was interested in; the conversation started out in a normal way for both of them. Then she would ask if he wanted a private room, and of course he did: who would want to share a hotel room?! He asked for the cost, and that was harder for her to say. It really depends on what you’re having done. It was a several minute conversation, with both of them getting more and more confused, until she finally realized he was calling for a hotel room, and he finally realized he’d called a hospital.

    7. manomanon*

      My old job was on an island and we ran a small science museum and aquarium so people would call us if they found dead animals they thought we may want. (We only wanted birds and fish- dogs, cats, deer and farm animals were a bit much) That was all well and good but the morning I arrived to a voicemail about a live SHARK on the beach was a bit much. Especially since they left no information about which beach or who else had been called.
      Live animals, particularly those in distress were not our forte (dead ones were barely my forte but at least I could pass the message on)

    8. Case of the Mondays*

      A woman called my firm trying to reach an elder therapy hotline. She was trying to tell me how sad she felt that she never saw her grandkids and I was trying to tell her that in our state, under the laws, she didn’t qualify to apply for grandparents rights. (I’m a lawyer). She got annoyed and finally said, “I don’t care what the law says, I called to talk to you about how it makes me feel.” I said something like “oh, well if you aren’t looking to hire a lawyer there really isn’t that much I can do to help you.” She then said “is this elder therapy?” And I said “no, this is a law firm, is that not what you were trying to call?” Turns out, our trusts and estates people sponsored some elder help talk and our number got put under the therapy line accidentally. We got it fixed quickly but I was the worst therapist for this poor woman LOL just talking about her legal rights and what attorneys cost and why she didn’t have a case.

    9. Former Diet Coke Addict*

      Not quite a message, but this week a woman called and asked “Is this a toll-free number?” and I said it could be, as we have both a local and a toll-free number, and we can’t tell which number incoming calls dialed. So I gave her the local number, asked if that was what she dialed, and she read it back to me very slowly and said “Is that a toll-free number?” No, I said, that was the local line, but we did HAVE a toll-free number, and I read that off to her. Then finally got to “Is there something I can help you with?” only for her to say “No! I’m just checking my phone!”

      No idea what that was all about.

  61. miki*

    Update on sighing annoying sound coworker: I had a small chat with him this Tuesday, very early in the morning (pretty much the first few moment I heard him start with it). Happy to report that he has quieted down, much to my and other coworkers pleasure (one called me brave to talking to him! ).

  62. J in NY*

    I’m currently 5 months pregnant employed full time. I live in NYC which as you may know has a HIGH cost of living. I’m currently working at a non-profit and do not make enough money where I feel I can support my family. I’m been job hunting (not fully committed to the process, but seeing interesting posts and responding with a resume and cover letter every so often). The problem is that I am due to give birth in +/- 4 months and know that it would be terrible to potentially get an offer and have to leave after such a short time, so I think a better option would be to suck up my misery at my current job and hopefully find a better one after my maternity leave (which ends 3 months after July or August, depending on when my baby comes!) and hopefully find a new better paying job afterward. Issue with my maternity leave is that my company’s policy says that in taking maternity leave I will be forced to use vacation time, so i will get paid for about a month, and the other 2 months I’m unpaid— but may be eligible for temporary disability insurance, which i doubt will come close to my biweekly paycheck– which really isnt that much anyway! But I feel like I might be limiting myself and my growing family by locking myself into this plan of staying miserable for the next four months and HOPE to get a job after maternity leave. Is there another option I might have that I don’t see? Is it possible to negotiate for a start date that is pushed back enough for me to recover and spend time bonding with my husband and new baby?

    1. Bend & Snap*

      Well–it sounds like a new job with a pushed back start date would leave you with 0 income vs. partial income. In your shoes I’d stay and hunt after leave.

    2. Random CPA*

      If your disability premiums are paid with post-tax dollars, then your benefits are not taxed meaning there’s no federal withholding, SS, or Medicare withheld from the benefit checks. So even if your weekly benefit is only X% of your regular income, you don’t have to worry about anything additional coming off the top (though, if you have to pay for a portion of your benefits with your employer, you’ll have to pay for those still).

    1. ExceptionToTheRule*

      I have a home office kitty that looks just like that when he takes over my chair…

    2. Windchime*

      Wait I thought something sad happened to Office Kitty, like he was taken to the shelter or something? I’m glad to see that he is happily napping in the sun!

      1. Gene*

        Office kitty disappeared for a month or so. Then reappeared waiting for us one morning. Since then ha’s been commuting with the boss.

  63. Job-Hunt Newbie*

    How soon is too soon to follow up? It’s been three weeks since last contact for a higher-ed job; I made it past the resume screen, and had to submit a reflection piece for the position. I know search committees can be slow for a variety of reasons, but do you think it’s okay for me to email them today to ask for an update on the status/process?

  64. Stephanie*

    I’ve been an intern for 3 semesters at a small non-profit (About 10 staff, 20-25 interns). I’ll be graduating next month and there is currently an opening on staff for an entry-level position. The position is in resource development but is largely data entry. My internship projects have largely been more on the program side, with some nonprofit management stuff. However, I have no doubt I would be a good fit for the open position and I feel confident in my chances. I’ve got a good relationship with all of the staff, the other interns feel comfortable coming to me for anything, the board loves me, and I’ve got a couple pages of top-notch references to choose from. I feel like I’m doing pretty good to not let that confidence come across as feeling like I’m entitled to the job or anything like. I certainly don’t feel like that, I just tend to be a really confident person. I would love this job, and really don’t want to work anywhere else, but if it doesn’t happen, I’ll be okay.

    For whatever reason, I am having a very hard time with this cover letter. I feel like everything I write, they already know about me. Our CEO and some of the staff has known me and my work for almost 2 years (even before I came on as an intern). I’ve written a ton of cover letters, but up until 2 weeks ago I was planning to relocate. Now that I’m not, I’m going to be in the position of writing cover letters to agencies and staffs that know me, none more so than this one. I tried to write it with the mindset of pretending like they don’t know me..but that’s not very easy to do. Plus, I feel like maybe I shouldn’t need to do that. It just all feels really weird to me and I need to get over it. If I’m having this much trouble writing the cover letter, I can’t imagine how much worse I’ll find the interview process to be. Does anyone have any tips/tricks/suggestions/ideas/etc? Has anyone been in this same position before?

    1. Meg Murry*

      use something like “as you are aware, I am good at blah – example blah blah blah that we did on the Teapot Dome project”?
      Since its a non-profit, they may have to sell hiring you to their board, or even have a board member as part of the review committee, so pretend you are writing to that person. Otherwise you might look like “that person who thought they had this in the bag so they didn’t try very hard”

      Do you have the job description? Is it bullet points? Just go down the list and find examples of what you’ve done on the projects (there, in school or otherwise) and speak to them. Just make sure to give credit to the whole group (we did this, I did this specific part) so it doesn’t look like you are trying to take credit for something someone else did, since they all know what you did/didn’t do.

      Do you have a mentor there that wants to see you hired in that would proofread/revise it with you? If I had an intern that I liked and wanted to see hired, I would definitely help with the application materials – giving advice like “say more about this here, and don’t worry so much about that”

  65. Trixie*

    Couple weeks ago, a friend reached out to me about light blogging for her company. As asked I submitted a quote which I’m pretty sure was too high but made it clear I could work within her budget. She said they’re still working on it and should have figures to share next week. Very excited to see if this going anywhere, nice alternative to group fitness instruction which my back will thank me for later.

  66. Anonymous for this one*

    I have an employee requesting to go to HR for a mediation meeting. I am their manager. Has anyone done this? What can I expect?

      1. Anonymous for this one*

        Yes. There is a conflict. I have attempted to resolve it, give feedback, set expectations, etc. They keep making complaints but not providing any examples to support or improve them.

        1. Katie the Fed*

          Sounds like a waste of time. Do you have to go? Can you explain to the mediator that you think the employee is using mediation as a way of getting around meeting their expectations?

    1. Katie the Fed*

      It’ll really depend on how the organization uses mediation and under what circumstances.

      I would go in with the approach of just listening and understanding the issues. Honestly, MOST people just want to feel heard, and if this person is going the route of mediation they probably feel they’re not being heard.

      So, listen and be as empathetic as you can. That doesnt’ mean you admit anything, but try to see the situation from their view.

  67. Meg Murry*

    Just wanted to say I stayed up WAY WAY too late last night reading the un-professional things people had done on yesterday’s thread, with tears streaming down my face I was laughing so hard!

    Good job everyone! Alison, I love these directed open threads like yesterday! Can we have more? Ideas for topics:
    -ways you blew an interview
    -weirdest thing an interviewee or new employee ever said to you
    -habits of favorite bosses/mentors
    -things that are normal in your industry but that would be unprofessional or abnormal in others
    -worst thing you’ve ever worn to the office without realizing it was not appropriate at the time

    and I had another one that was tangentially related to yesterdays thread, but I forgot it – maybe it will come back to me

  68. This is Me Not Being Me*

    Wish me luck everyone! (Better still, wish me skill and composure. Those are always useful!)

    Two phone screens today, in an hour and four hours from my posting this. Both are with companies I’d be happy to work for, though the company I’d rather work for of the two is the one where the exact position is a less-perfect match to my skills. It’s not anything I couldn’t do if they’re willing to let me learn on the job, though, and they approached me, so….

    I really hope one of these leads to a real interview, but we’ll see. For now, final prep review for phone screens and doing my best on those!

    1. This is Me Not Being Me*

      One interview, one waiting to see if I get an interview. I’m feeling good about this!

      1. This is Me Not Being Me*

        Two interviews for two phone screens for two applications.

        Nothing is ever sure until the offer’s made and accepted…but still, feeling pretty good about this so far!

  69. The Other Dawn*

    ARGHHHH….FDIC examiners here this week! Always fun. Actually, we have a good examiner this time around so it’s not bad. Just takes up a lot of time.

  70. De Minimis*

    Just wanted to give an update.

    Moving my wife cross country for her job. We got a rental secured just last week. The house was put on the market and we had a contract in less than a week! It’s not a done deal yet but we’re optimistic and happy about what we were offered.

    Only one problem….I got a job offer two days ago for a federal job I’d applied to back in January. I was selected without interviewing or meeting anyone. All I did was apply. It’s a promotion and allegedly I’m supposed to be promoted another grade after the first year, which would open up a lot of potential for future positions elsewhere.

    But my wife and I would probably have to be apart more or less permanently [and I know of some federal employees who actually do this for their jobs.] I don’t know if I’m willing to do that. We’ve done it twice before where I’ve taken jobs and had to move away, and it’s been a huge strain both times and ultimately wasn’t worth it.
    She is past the point of no return as far as this job and moving out there.

    The job could have issues too. It’s a completely different agency and involves subject matter I don’t really have any experience with. It involves supervising people and I’ve never done that before either. I would have been okay with taking that on had they contacted me a month ago, but don’t know if it’s something I want to deal with now…
    This particular office seems to be in constant conflict with the community they serve, and accusations of mismanagement seem pretty common. From various surveys, it seems like morale is pretty low at this organization. I could view it as a stepping stone, but I know the chances are good that I might just get stuck there.

    The good news is I’ve already gotten some response from things I’ve sent out to our new location. That’s really encouraged me and I am feeling a little better and not as terrified about turning down this opportunity. Right now that’s what I’m leaning toward doing, even though it’s probably something I’ll never have a chance at again.

    Would like to hear people’s thoughts!

    1. Christy*

      If you didn’t have the complication of your wife moving across the country, I’d take the offered job so that you can move up two grades in two years. Even if it’s awful, once you have your year-in-grade at the N+2 grade, you can apply for jobs at the N+3 grade.

      But given that your wife is moving across the country AND there are lots of challenges around the potential new job, I’d turn it down.

      1. De Minimis*

        Yeah if they’d gotten back to me a few weeks ago we would have just gone for it and my wife could have just stayed. It’s especially frustrating since they didn’t even interview people so they really could have acted sooner. My status had changed to “Referred” on USAJobs about a month ago.

        My former coworker has a lot of inside knowledge about the place and she’s supposed to drop by for a chat later on today but we’ll see. It’s hard because I don’t know if my decision is coming from the right place…

        1. De Minimis*

          Oh, and my parents of all people had the idea to just take the job with the intention of quitting as soon as I found something else!

          Think that’s a bad idea for multiple reasons—this recruiting office actually also handles recruiting for the area where my wife will be working. So in the event a job did come up later on they’d remember I was the guy who flaked out on them. And it’s just bad to do anyway…

          1. Treena Kravm*

            I think it’s actually lucky that it’s the same recruiting office. If you tell them you’re turning it down to move to X area, then they may keep an eye out for positions for you!

    2. Dawn*

      I dunno, I feel like in this situation “a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush”. Your bird in the bush- You *might* get another promotion in a year, but to do so you’d have to be separated from your wife (which you already know you both would hate and would put a strain on your marriage) AND you know that the agency you’d be moving to would be problematic and you might get stuck.

      I say pass, move with your wife, take the bird in hand.

      1. De Minimis*

        Yeah, the promotion is not truly automatic–it is a “ladder” position but you still have to meet expectations to get the promotion.

        My coworker came by….she told me the problems with this particular office [mainly to do with the administrator there] probably would not affect me, there was some kind of lawsuit that took away the administrator’s authority over the area I’d most likely be working with and I’d be working under some outside trustee or something like that. She said it would be a good opportunity, but ultimately we had to consider our marriage and other priorities.

        Other than that a big concern for me would be if I was truly prepared for the job.

        1. Christy*

          I get the nervousness about being prepared for the job, but you learn SO MUCH on the job at a new job that it doesn’t matter as much. I’ve been terrified most of the time I’ve been on this temporary assignment (180-day detail, allotted 60 days at a time) but you know what? I’ve learned as I’ve gone, and my skills are so so so much better than they were when I started the detail. You’ll be able to learn as you go, and I bet you know more than you think you do.

          With the promotions, do you feel stuck at your current grade level? I know I do, which is why I’ll almost certainly take the opportunity being created for me–it will get me closer to flexibility in future jobs.

    3. catsAreCool*

      This job sounds kind of painful – not being with spouse plus low morale, etc. at the job. I’d look for something else.

      1. De Minimis*

        Thanks for all the comments. I ended up turning down the job. Just felt like it wouldn’t be right and would be too much strain. It’s helped too that I’ve actually had a pretty good response to my inquiries about jobs in the new area—been corresponding with one potential employer over e-mail and I have a scheduled phone chat with a manager from another place tomorrow. I’m also supposed to talk with a recruiter in a couple of weeks.

        Moving cross country with my wife and our dogs tomorrow….in multiple U-Hauls! It’s going to be rough.

  71. Awful Waffle*

    Management folks – do you ever promote someone in the hopes that they will really screw up and you’ll eventually have to fire them?

    At my company, a man who had just one direct report was recently promoted. He is now leading a team of 20. If that’s not hard enough, he is leading a team of clinicians. He has a business background and has no clinical/medical/healthcare experience.

    Needless to say, he is overwhelmed (understandably so, imo). He is a “yes” man and hated confrontation. He will not challenge anything his management suggests, even if it’s downright ridiculous. But he is absolutely one of the nicest people I’ve ever worked with and has a heart of gold.

    I’ve been hearing that upper management is trying to “coach” him into leaving and that’s why they gave him this promotion. Word is they are hoping that he will quit on his own or that he was screw up so badly that they fire him.

    Does this really happen?

    1. CrazyCatLady*

      I only heard this as a rumor, but my husband works for a company with many retail locations. He said that bad managers were often sent to bad/difficult-to-manage locations in the hopes that they would catastrophically fail and be fired…. since almost every state is at-will employment, it seems like it’s making the situation harder than it needs to be, though.

      1. Shell*

        I hear about this a lot, and I think for cases like retail, this situation is a win-win for the employer.

        Either the employee is somehow so much of a rockstar that they turn the bad location around (rare, but it does happen), or the employee flames out and then they have a ready excuse to fire her. I’ve heard of the former happening, though obviously the latter happens more.

        It’s a really weaselly way to do things though.

    2. HR Shenanigans*

      That is really bad and lazy management. If they want to fire him they should do just that. Promotion should not be the path to firing him.

    3. Emily*

      Oh yes. We had a gentleman at my job who was guided this way. He seemed like an outwardly nice guy, but creepy (comments to women like “What would your husband say if he saw you wearing that?”when they wore dresses) and So bad at his job. He would flunk his requirements or do awful work every few months. His boss tried to fire him and after 6 months of him rebounding his work enough to get off a Performance Plan he would tank it again. So she switched to promoting the heck out of him, paying for interview and resume building classes, and got him a job in a new department with more money and responsibility. She joked for weeks about how the unemployment would be out of their budget now. It’s a nasty move, but it happens.

    4. Sualah*

      Not exactly the same, but I had a manager who promoted a teammate to the position team lead, knowing that he would be dreadful at it, but she (my manager) was planning on coaching and developing him, and really making it work. However, my manager then decided to leave our department, and our team lead became our de facto manager because they decided not to backfill. And he was just dreadful at it, and it was awful. My manager hadn’t shared with anyone her grand plan for developing our team lead, so none of the other managers really did anything to help him. They assumed if he’d been promoted, he could do the job.

      I know my manager had to do what was best for her career, but not promoting someone who would have done a decent job (which we did have on our team) over someone who was awful but had potential is still a bit of a sore point for me.

    5. ThursdaysGeek*

      This happens where my spouse works, but for a different reason. If someone is doing poorly at their job, and they are already in lower management, they will often move them up to a higher position. Perhaps they will do better higher up? Occasionally someone is so disastrous that they are moved sideways, out of direct management, but usually the bad managers are just promoted.

      I hear this second hand, of course, and it makes no sense to me at all. I really wonder if there is something else going on. On the other hand, it’s pretty consistent with other things I’ve also heard and seen for myself.

  72. Gentile in a Jewish Office*

    I ordered a mini-fridge to be the Kosher for Passover fridge. It’s large enough to store a lunch or three and keep a two-liter bottle chilled. (The Kosher for Passover Diet Coke & Coca-Cola comes in two liter bottles.)

    So, tonight is starts the first day of Passover. The boss gathered the staff, explained what he needs to do to comply with Jewish law (yay!) and we hid away all of the company-owned snacks and drinks. He asked that we take home anything refrigerated that belonged to the company and gifted it to us. And the boss thanked us all for our cooperation. It was a very nice touch.

    As we’re hiding stuff away, the mini-fridge is delivered. Now I’m confused. Does this clearing out mean the main fridge is Kosher for Passover, even though we’re allowed to put our non-kosher food in it, rendering the mini-fridge a frivolous purchase? The boss’ son, by whose authority the mini-fridge was purchased, isn’t here today and he’s the most educated on Jewish law. And there’s no mistaking that the main fridge was actually cleaned out to the level the refrigerator at home was cleaned. We just cleared it out, we didn’t clean it off every speck of food.

    And on an ironic note, the boss’ other son, who recently joined the business, is off work today for Good Friday. He’s not off for Pesach, no, he’s off work because his job revolves around the the stock market, which is closed for Good Friday. Seems fair he should enjoy a Christian holiday when the rest of us get to enjoy Jewish holidays. :-)

    1. Kerry (Like the County in Ireland)*

      No, it’s good you got the second fridge. Main fridge has had non-Passover food in it, so it needs to be thoroughly cleaned. Those little specks of food would contaminate the Passover kosher food.

      Second fridge is the Passover only fridge. You’re not ever putting anything that’s not kosher for Passover in it, so it won’t have to be cleaned to the same standard. And at the end of Passover the boss should just take it home or put it in storage. It’s like how your Orthodox boss probably has Passover-only dishware in his house.

    2. Amethyst*

      I agree with Kerry, don’t put kosher for Passover stuff in the main fridge. Keep everything isolated in the mini-fridge. The mini-fridge can be boxed up later. If the boss doesn’t have room to store it at home you could probably store it at work as long as it was *sealed off* somewhere. At work we have Passover-only water heater things for coffee and they stay in boxes in a closet most of the year.

      /Not Jewish but I work in a synagogue and we just finished cleaning and prepping our building and kitchens for Passover a few hours ago.

      1. Kerry (Like the County in Ireland)*

        Also, don’t think about it as clean/not clean. Reframe it as “contaminated by chametz (all that leavened stuff).” Amethyst can attest that Passover cleaning goes beyond just removing dirt and getting the non-kosher materials out of the place–you really have to be in aggressive attack mode, hunting down every smudge of non-kosher material.

        1. Beancounter in Texas*

          I comprehend getting rid of chametz for Passover on an intellectual level, but I do not know it in the sense of ever having done it or witnessed it. Our boss just puts the chametz away, but the boss’ son tells us of the techniques he uses to get his kitchen and car clean. I cannot fathom doing that every year!

          It wasn’t clear to me that our boss was not claiming it kosher for Passover. After a while, I figured that our food in the fridge would definitely not be cool for Passover, so I plugged in the new mini-fridge. Then I wiped it out with a Clorox wipe and put a bottle of Passover Diet Coke in to chill over the weekend. And thanks for the note about boxing it up. It will be easily stored in the office, but I didn’t considering keeping the box for storage.

    3. little Cindy Lou who*

      Slightly tangential but it was my first time being involved in a Passover tradition: My coworker is Orthodox and he “sold” me the cereal we share for snacks the other day for $1.

  73. the gold digger*

    I just had to take my bag of day after Valentine’s Day sale candy hearts to the break room and leave it there because I was making my cubicle mates nuts with my loud crunching. Goodbye candy. :(

  74. Cold Coffee*

    I’m a B2B sales rep for a importer of French Teapots. A company colleague at my level in another market was recently told her compensation will be going from salary + commission after $X sold to no salary and commission only. A total surprise. I don’t know the details but she doesn’t like it, so she is giving her 2 weeks notice. Now, I don’t think commission-only is necessarily a bad thing – but if I’m eventually told the same thing, I would think the role would now be as a broker rather than a sales rep.
    So in preparation for that conversation, should it happen, is it unreasonable to ask for my commission to start from Dollar One Sold and be allowed sell Indian and Japanese Teapots (I did not sign a non-compete clause).

  75. SoBurnedOut*

    I’m in a sticky spot as to how to deal with this situation. As many Open Thread readers might remember, I’m in this job that has destroyed my mental and physical well-being. Last Tuesday I finally handed in my two weeks’ notice, without another job lined up. I’ve been at my current job since graduating college. I started here hired as an independent contractor, and after a little over a year I was made the second ever payroll employee in the organization’s history.

    Problem is, I’ve recently found out that I was unambiguously misclassified and should have been an employee all along (and in the process also discovered that the nonprofit has committed a number of other labor/wage violations in both my case and with previous “contractors”). I’ve approached my boss about this in late January, who told me that he’d “look into it,” but firmly told me to not put anything in writing.

    As you might have already guessed, absolutely nothing has happened since that conversation, despite two follow ups from me. I’m in the process of finding a new job, but plan to file my own SS-8 form and complaints with the Dept of Labor once I leave. I know for a fact that this will absolutely torch any bridges I have with this organization.

    I approached my boss yesterday about the misclassification, and I’ve been treated like a pariah ever since. I’ve been asked multiple times what my intention is with bringing this up (well, it’s to not have to pay the significant taxes that I would have been responsible for if I had been properly classified, and to make sure this doesn’t continue to happen to others.) No matter what I say, though, I keep getting asked the same thing and have been accused of anything from trying to take down the organization (absolutely untrue) and blackmailing the organization for a retroactive raise (also untrue).

    I’m concerned about retaliation if I were to apply to a new job and my old boss was called for references. How can I deal with this and nip the problem in the bud? I only have some volunteers to suggest in lieu of my boss, since we’re a TINY shop. Or should I just sit back and leave well enough alone?

    1. Laura2*

      I’d head it off at an interview by saying “Just so you know, I discovered that my previous job misclassified me as a contractor, and when I attempted to get this fixed I was accused of trying to destroy the organization.”

      1. SoBurnedOut*

        I guess my fear is that I haven’t heard of anything like this before, so I’m not at all sure about how this might be received. Would it raise a red flag about me? I know it probably depends on the person I’m speaking to and exactly how I convey the information, but how would it look to you, AAM readers?

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Retaliation for reporting a labor violation is illegal, so you might want to have a lawyer negotiate your departure for you and how references will be handled.

        1. SoBurnedOut*

          Is this something I could do without a lawyer? I’m pretty much fresh out of school and without much money to my name. I spoke to a number of employment lawyers to find out my options about the misclassification stuff, but I doubt I’d be able to afford a lawyer who could help me with negotiations.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            Can you get a lawyer on contingency? Can you negotiate legal fees as part of a settlement?

  76. BAS*

    Ugh, I just noticed yesterday my newish coworkers is one of those people who seem incapable of being quiet. She’s either constantly clearing her throat or humming loudly or making little ‘hmm’ sigh/moans to herself when she isn’t just straight-up talking to herself. Now that I’ve noticed, I can’t not hear it and I might go insane. We usually have music on, but that person is out this week and I can’t wait for them to return.

    1. SoBurnedOut*

      Are you in an office where earbuds/headphones are permitted? If so, I HIGHLY recommend the White Noise playlist on Spotify. It’s significantly lowered my blood pressure and anxiety levels brought on by overly noisy coworkers. If it weren’t for that, open office plans would be the death of me.

      1. BAS*

        We can wear them, but I answer the phone and do filing and am generally moving about. It’s a temporary issue since we usually have music on, but once I noticed, I couldn’t UNnotic to the point of distraction. I’ll probably play something quietly through my computer today to keep my sanity. I really just needed to vent!

    2. Kimmy Gibbler*

      Ugh. I have a co-worker who is a very frequent sigher. Not a small “hmmm,” I mean these are “Woe is me, the End of Days are upon us” type of sighs. Which is so out of character for her — she’s a very happy, upbeat person. But, hearing that, you would think she is actively miserable. I’ve mentioned it to her nicely, and it’s clear that she has no idea she’s doing it (which probably makes it hard for her to stop if she doesn’t even realize it in the first place…) For a while, I amused myself by keeping a daily tally chart of sighs. :)

  77. Aech*

    Hope I’m not too late! Piggybacking on this week’s question regarding University of Phoenix on the resume, would like some opinions on when formal education stop mattering so much vs work experience? The question is for my husband. He went to a trade school for a 2 year diploma in the oil and gas industry, and has been very fortunate in his career so far. We now live in the Middle East and he works for a small company. He is interested in getting more involved in the business side of things, rather than the actual technical work. He has been taking classes at University of Phoenix in business. His company pays for the classes, as long as he gets certain grades. He worries about whether he is wasting his time because of their reputation, but so far it has been the best option. He is not looking to leave his current company any time soon, and is able to learn a lot there since it is so small, but is always looking to improve his knowledge and skills, so definitely wants to do some PD. My thoughts are that if he is learning, then it is worth his time, but I don’t think it will necessarily add to his resume. We are both in our late 20s, so while he has been at his current company for a relatively long while, he is still a younger professional. So I guess my question is at this point in his career would it matter in future job searches (maybe 2-3 years down the road) whether he attends University of Phoenix vs online classes at a different university? Or would the work experience matter more? If you are of the opinion that university classes would still matter quite a bit, is there one you would recommend other than University of Phoenix? If it matters, if we ever return to north America, it would be Canada, not the US. Also, full time school here in the middle east isn’t really an option (and to be honest they probably don’t have a much better reputation than University of Phoenix)

    1. AndersonDarling*

      If your husband is planning to stay with is current company then it is a benefit. He will be able to move into positions that require a degree.
      But if he is planning to look for another place to work, and enter roles that require a degree, then Phoenix isn’t the best bet. Unfortunately, there are so many places that 100% require a degree for their roles, even if you have done the exact job for 10 years and written 5 books about the industry. Some may accept the Phoenix degree, but you just don’t know.
      If he can switch universities, I’d suggest doing it. I’m not an expert, but I’d be more comfortable retaking some classes and having the guaranteed degree.
      I’m doing an online program, but it sounds like you aren’t in the US and I’m not sure it is international.

  78. caraytid*

    so i have a question about passwords, my husband who is relatively new to corporate culture and i have different takes on this.

    is it appropriate/ok/expected to share your computer login information with coworkers?

    i’ve always worked in very collaborative environments, doing creative work where it would be expected to share passwords if necessary. especially if i’m traveling with my coworkers and we need to use each others’ laptops. it would come across as strange if i refused to share my password. he feels his computer/account password should always remain private and never be shared for any reason.

    this doesn’t come up a ton since neither of us usually stores files locally, but was curious if there a norm about this? or does it vary from office to office, industry to industry?

    1. Gene*

      We have specific guidance to not share our password, even with our supervisors.

      Along with arcane password rules and mandated changes every 60 days.

    2. the gold digger*

      No! You don’t share your password!

      If you need to collaborate, you use a collaboration program, like confluence.

      I am in manufacturing/engineering/software industry.

    3. Colette*

      It’s definitely not a good practice to share logins, and there really shouldn’t be a reason to do it. It can, in fact, get you fired, depending on what the person you give access to does.

    4. Sualah*

      Wow, in my industry we would get in tons of trouble if we shared passwords. But I can see that varying from industry to industry. I would just make sure the shared password was nothing like my regular passwords, even going so far as to use something like “password.”

    5. AndersonDarling*

      Ideally, you should never be sharing logins. Are you sharing the same computer? In that case, your user accounts should all be set up on the account so everyone can login as themselves, do their work, log out, then the next user logs in.
      I know there are places that purchases a single license for software instead of one for each user. It goes against the user agreement, but I know places that do it.
      I’m not even IT, but I know it is bad news to give someone your password. They could go in and delete files, mess up accounts, and who gets called into HR and reprimanded? You do.

      1. De Minimis*

        For us it’s a violation of policy, of course so are a lot of other things that people do all the time regarding passwords.

      2. caraytid*

        i think that’s exactly what my husband is thinking, and he would be right for his situation (huge company, many locations).

        my situation is an extremely small 5 person company with no IT or HR department, and the use case would be more like “i don’t have time to install all the fonts needed for this client presentation, can i just use your machine really quickly”.

        1. Kyrielle*

          But in that case, each machine should be set up so that anyone can log in to it. They would use your machine, with their user name and password, and use the font.

          1. De Minimis*

            That’s a setup we have, you can either log in with your ID card [most workstations here have card readers] or with a user id and password. There were people doing a site visit here last week from another facility and they were able to log into a computer at a vacant workstation.

          2. Kyrielle*

            I will add that we have a lab where we genuinely need to share stuff done under the same account, without swapping users. For that, we have a generic login whose password is shared between us. That generic login has no privileges on the rest of the network beyond where it’s needed, though.

    6. Kyrielle*

      I would be fired in a hot heartbeat – and in my workplace, if I shared the wrong one, I’d be violating the law.

    7. Jules*

      Unless it’s pool laptop, NO! Read your company policy for final guidance though. So far most companies I worked for its a big NO NO.

    8. Nashira*

      In my office, NO, sharing complete logins is forbidden explicitly. There are (bad design) reasons why we know or could look up many of each other’s login names in a previous system, but complete credentials… Nope. Sharing that info can only bring you problems.

      1. Nashira*

        Oh – I work in an worker’s comp office, with access to a lot of patient health info. Information security hangs over us like the Sword of Damocles.

    9. AVP*

      I’m also in a very collaborate / creative environment where it’s usual to share passwords if necessary.

      Caveat: we’re not working on anything that’s confidential, and the nature of our projects mean that we’re each doing multiple steps of the same projects and passing them back and forth, and it’s a very tiny company (less than 10 people) so in the past when we’ve tried to introduce “collaboration” software it drove everyone crazy.

      1. caraytid*

        this sounds a lot like my environment!

        i’m surprised there wasn’t more of a split on these answers but it makes sense to me. realizing that my work situation is probably not the norm :)

    10. Not So NewReader*

      I would not share my password until I saw other people doing it.
      Where I work now the rule is “absolutely no how, no way, under no circumstances are you allowed to share your password”.
      The other day I was on the phone with someone who said “Please use the other person’s password and log them in”. And I did.

      There are some work environments where passwords absolutely must be shared in order to get work done at all. If passwords are not shared, nothing gets completed on time.
      I say wait and see what is needed. He should play by the book until he finds out there is a huge need to do something else.

    11. Greggles*

      I work in the banking industry. This can be grounds for disciplinary action and termination. There are sites like Share Pointe, Shared drives or group emails for collaboration. But you ALWAYS want to make sure you know who is doing what.

    12. catsAreCool*

      At my workplace, we are not supposed to share passwords, and a training we get every so often reinforces it.

    13. Windchime*

      Using someone else’s password where I work could be grounds for termination. We are specifically instructed to never, ever share our personal passwords. If we have to share it with the Support Center for some reason when they request it to help us with a technical issue, we are prompted to change it next time we log in.

    14. little Cindy Lou who*

      It depends on the office in my experience. At a big Fortune 500 company, we regularly shared logins with each other while covering vacations, appointments, transitioning roles, etc. At a hedge fund it would have been Instant Termination to do so (a guy was sacked for leaving his half of an expired dual key on a post it in a conference room). Current place is “don’t do it!” but with a few wink-and-turn exceptions.

  79. Rose*

    I know Alison has covered following up quite a bit but I didn’t see anything on following when you have multiple job opportunities. I had a interview at the job I really want about two weeks ago (job #1). I think I’m still in consideration because one of my references called this week to let me know that they’d been contacted. However, the other job (job #2) I interviewed for called me today and offered me a job with them. They want to know by Monday. Should I contact job#1 and ask about their timeline? Should I mention that I have another job offer? Contact job #2 and ask for more time? Any help would be much appreciated! Thanks.

    1. Colette*

      Ask job 2 for a couple days, and contact job 1 to explain you have another offer but they are your first choice and ask them when they plan to make their decision.

        1. Rose*

          Thanks again for the help.

          Sent an email Friday to job #1 but looks like they were closed Friday and Sunday (they’re open 7 days a week) for the Easter holiday. Still haven’t heard back but have to let Job #2 know by Friday Job #2 (kindly gave me the week get back to them). Should I just let #1 go or follow up one more time mentioning that I have to let Job #2 know by Friday? I’m thinking I should just let it go but wanted to check – I tend to think everything’s pushy.

  80. LV Ladybug*

    I a small a hotel where there are a couple of other companies that work with us at this location. My husband got a job with one of these companies at a different location. I was not involved at all. Even after he was hired, I would see his boss, Jill, at our location and not once did I ask about how he is doing or anything. I was out of it. He also never brought me up to his co-workers, however his bosses knew I was his wife.

    Well after some time, things weren’t working out for him, they weren’t giving him the hours he was promised or even the job description. I still did not get involved other than giving him advice. Eventually he quit because it was not working out. I agreed that was the best decision.

    Shortly after he quit, some of the employees at my location were not doing their jobs correctly. Since I manage the hotel, I have an obligation that all of the people working here conduct the same amount of hospitality, since most of our guests do not know we are different companies. My staff and I started to notice that they were eating in front of guests, using their personal phones, etc. that are against the rules for my staff. So myself and other managers here reported these instances to their boss, Jill.

    One day, Jill came and spoke to one of my subordinates asking if I had a vendetta against them because of what took place with my husband. She then proceded to tell all these personal things about our relationship, that he was cheating on me and telling people we were divorced, etc. My subordinate told her that this isn’t a professional conversation and isn’t relevant and left the conversation (she called and told me everything.) I filed a complaint with my HR who were going to talk to their HR. I do not know what/if anything came about it.

    Here we are a few months later and Jill still comes by my hotel to check on her staff. Every time she sees me she makes a point of saying hello. I always say hi back, but I am sure that I sound pretty cold. I am not sure what to do. I want to tell her off on how inappropriate she was on top of a few other things. But I am not sure if I should. I do my best to be pleasant but I can’t help wanting to rip her face off for being completely out of line. Not sure if it would be like kicking a dead horse. What do you think?

    1. AllyA*

      I think you should do nothing. Be polite and professional, nothing more, and try to let it go.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Very hard to do but it is the correct choice. OP, Jill will unravel herself on her own, you don’t have to help her unravel. You see her level of professionalism for what it is. It is just a matter of time. She has shown you what she is willing to do, it’s not a stretch to assume this is the way she operates. I am sorry, I know holding back is difficult.

        I have seen people like this get fired or even end up dead. It takes years to play out. It left me thinking that in the greater scheme of things what happened was not as important as I thought. I think seeing the twists and turns in people’s life stories helps to reduce the intensity of whatever negative went on between us.

        From what you have said here, I would have to think that you won this one. Try to tell yourself that this is what winning looks like. It’s rather anti-climatic, not much fanfare.

        1. LV Ladybug*

          Thanks for the advise! I hate being the bigger person, but I’ve already sucked it up this much. She is a horrible manager, I am sure she will get her due eventually.

          1. catsAreCool*

            Jill sounds awful, but I agree. Be professional, and let her self-destruct on her own. Sounds like she will unless she really turns her life around.

  81. JPixel*

    I have two employees, George and Elaine. Recently, Elaine told me that George is always talking about how he is not happy at his job and that other employees are getting to work on assignments that he feels should go to him. He openly complains at work and is creating a negative environment. I told her that I would keep her name out of any conversations I have with George, but that it wouldn’t be hard for him to take a guess at where this was coming from.

    I then checked in with Jerry, who has worked with both of them and who I could trust to be honest. I didn’t offer up any details but just asked how things went when he worked with them. Jerry gave me the same story as Elaine.

    I talked to George privately and told him I was hearing he wasn’t happy on the job. He completely denied it. He said that he loves his job and would never complain about it and acted baffled at the concept.

    I’m getting different stories from each side here. So… what do I do now?

    1. Graciosa*

      You can still have the conversation about your expectations with George.

      “I’m glad to hear that, but if it ever changes, I expect to be the first to know. It is important to me that we maintain a positive environment in the office. If there are real issues that need to be addressed, the right way to do that is by bringing them to me. Complaining to others in the office creates an unnecessarily negative atmosphere. That type of behavior is not acceptable in the office, and imposes an unfair burden on the people around you who have to listen to it without any power to address the issues. I do have that power, which is why I am the person you come to if you are ever unhappy here.”

      There is a potential follow up conversation about how a decision you make is final (if George ever brings you something and doesn’t like the way you handle it) and he doesn’t get to complain about closed issues either.

      That is my answer to the question of what do you do – but there’s another point I want to address.

      You seemed to think that unless George admits this, you’re not allowed to do anything. This is not a court of law, it’s a business. You’re going to have to make decisions with incomplete information routinely. You have credible information from multiple sources, so this one isn’t even hard. Unless you have reason to believe that Jerry and Elaine are conspiring against him, my vote is that George did this.

      In this case, you don’t have to tell him you don’t believe his denial in order to address the problem. I wouldn’t if this is the first time, although I might get to that point after repeated incidents. Making your expectations clear should be enough.

      Good luck.

      1. JPixel*

        Thanks! Great advice… this is more or less what I said when I spoke to George yesterday. And you’re absolutely right that this is not a court of law. My hesitation is that George is kind of… annoying. And Elaine and Jerry might be a little too sensitive to that. And what Elaine and Jerry are describing is out of character for George. I don’t think they are conspiring against him per se, but the situation just doesn’t sit right with me. After speaking with George, I don’t have a specific reason to worry that the behavior won’t stop (assuming that even if he’s denying the problem to me, he’s aware of it internally). But it’s little harder to control and measure than a performance issue like constantly showing up late, missing deadlines, sleeping on the job, etc. Most likely he’s not going to complain when I’m around, so I need to trust these other observers and go with my gut.

      2. YWD*

        In addition to what Graciosa suggests, you could also coach Jerry and Elaine on how to respond to George. If they refuse to be a sounding board for his negative comments at least it won’t be spreading through the office and might force him to come to you.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            Yep. Empower the employees to take steps on their own. “George, if you are so unhappy here then you should go talk to the boss.” Then escalate with, “George, you need to stop telling me your complaints and go talk to the boss.”

            I think for the most part bosses have no idea just how negative some people are.

            1. JPixel*

              Agreed. To their credit, Elaine and Jerry both told me that they did tell George he was making them feel uncomfortable or that he should speak to a manager about his problems. I think this can be a really hard thing for people to do.

              1. Not So NewReader*

                Yep, it is really hard for people to do. But in some cases the Georges of the world push so very hard that it becomes easier to just say, “I can’t fix this for you George, either go to the boss or stop talking about it.”

    2. TheLazyB*

      I’m sure Alison has written about this, and that one suggestion is to try and catch the employee in the behaviour – is that a possibility?

  82. RecentJD*

    How do people feel about LinkedIn etiquette? Last week I attended a networking event and was strongly encouraged to exchange information and make connections with fellow attendees. After the event, I reached out to a couple of those connections on LinkedIn. I only reached out to the people that I had actually met and had a conversation with and those who’d explicitly said they’d like to stay in touch. The day after sending out invites, I noticed that one of the attendees had viewed my profile and then, apparently, decided not to accept my invitation. I know this sort of thing is silly and I shouldn’t take anything personally but…isn’t that pretty much a snub? For the record, we are in the same area of practice and I don’t believe there’s anything strange or unprofessional on my profile. I tried to personalize my invites but I can’t be sure that I said anything particularly original in the invitation.

    1. Colette*

      It’s probably not a snub. They could have decided they didn’t want to stay in touch via linked in, or that they only want to connect to people they’ve worked with, or they just got distracted.

    2. Not Today Satan*

      Idk, LinkedIn is wonky. Sometimes someone sends me a request, and I click “Accept,” and then it says something like, “your request has been sent to Jane.” It’s possible something like that happened. I hate that site tbh.

      1. RecentJD*

        That’s true, thanks. I’m not a big fan of LinkedIn either, just trying to make the best of it!

    3. caraytid*

      i wouldn’t read too much into it – you definitely weren’t in the wrong by trying to connect.

      i personally accept all LinkedIn invites if i have actually met the person, but i imagine some people are more selective (i’m that way with Facebook).

    4. TheLazyB*

      Our reciptionist recently set up an account. She wanted to connect to me. I sent her three invites (and she tried to connect with me twice too) before we finally managed to make it work.

      Yeah, sometimes linkedin is weird. And i guess for someone you’ve only met once you’re not going to perservere as long.

      Hope that helps!

    5. Not So NewReader*

      Then I am snubbing everyone. I just don’t have time, I know I have requests and I cannot get to them at all. I hope people aren’t worried about it.

  83. Graciosa*

    I’m not entirely sure if I’m posting for advice or sympathy.

    I took over my current job from another manager who was promoted to a non-management policy position, and she is driving me crazy. She just cannot let me alone to run what is now my team. A few examples:

    She happened to see a draft document from someone on my team, and wrote a long dissertation explaining point by numbered point everything that was wrong with it. The critique was longer than the document. I replied at much less length along the lines of yes, it’s a draft, and I’m supposed to sign off on it before it’s final (with a few implications of why are you spending your time on this?). She replied that apparently I misunderstood.

    She sent an email asking if she missed the announcement of a new employee (I have reasons for scheduling them differently, but why do I have to defend myself to her?). I ignored that one.

    She copied half a dozen of my peers in a status request to me, stating that I am the only one left before an action can be closed out. I replied back with an update, but removed my peers from the copy line. She replied again – and added all my peers back on the copy line. Why? As far as I can tell, they do not need to know (nor do they care) about something that doesn’t affect them.

    I see her name on an email, and I suspect my blood pressure jumps just from the sight. The problem is that she now reports to my boss’ boss, so I’m trying to make sure I’m not giving her ammunition.

    I suppose I know what to do – having established a decent track record in role and with the support of my boss and disengaged from her as much as possible (I think getting into an argument with her about how I run my department assumes that she still has a right to the information), I will need to have the direct conversation with her – ask her to explain her behavior (with whatever is the most recent example at the time) and tell her to back off.

    The problem is first, that I don’t want to do it (okay, apparently I’m just whining for sympathy here) and second, I know I need to do it without losing my temper. If it weren’t for that limiting factor of having to keep my temper, I would probably enjoy it.

    I do have a temper. I mean, I have a Temper.

    Most of the time, I have a pretty good handle on it, but I know when that control is going to be tested, and this is really one of those times. But if I lose it at work – I lose. So I can’t.

    The good news is that she is well known as a micromanager who just can’t let anything go, and my boss has been very supportive of the changes I’ve made to the department – including eliminating a lot of wasted work she had previously imposed on the team in terms of non-value add reporting. So I will win this as long as I don’t do anything unprofessional.

    But she is really making a nice, unprofessional dressing down of one of my boss’ peers seem really appealing.

    1. Aech*

      I feel you! Was her move recently? Or has she kept interfering for quite a while? I had a similar situation when I joined my current company last year, with the person that had my role for the interim. It worked itself out… As I got more settled, she stopping interfering. Is it possible that will happen in this case and you just need to be a little patient? Once you get more confident in your position, it probably won’t bother you so much anyways.
      You could try responding to her with something like “thanks, I’ve got it covered, but I will definitely reach out to you if I need any help”. And probably just ignoring the other stuff where she’s not really requesting a response.

      1. Graciosa*

        It’s been several months at this point, and I’m confident enough to ignore whatever I can. The problem is that she is legitimately allowed to ask for certain things in her new role – and as a micromanager, probably does not realize that the level of detail she is demanding is intrusive.

        It’s a good thing to think about, though. Her boss kind of laughs about some things that really get on my nerves. Changing my mind set may help.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Temper. I saw a lot of temper growing up and so I had to fight internally to keep my temper down.

      One thing I found helpful is to think of temper as an admission of not knowing what else to do.

      This means when I feel my blood pressure going up, I have to build a plan to deal with the situation in a decent manner without losing my cool. Really the only way I could figure out what to do in the future was by autopsying previous experiences. This worked into something like “she said X, so in the future when I hear that again, I will say Y.”
      I just kept doing this. The effect is cumulative. People like this can sharpen us if we let them. We can learn to think on our feet, very logically and very fast.

      I would recomend keeping a log of her interactions with you. Particularly ones that are a tremendous waste of time.

  84. Sualah*

    This is a just a thank you to Alison and the AAM community! I’ve been reading and lurking for awhile, while I looked for a new position. My fiancé has also been job searching. Well, thanks to a lot of the advice from AAM about resumes and interviews, we’ve both been offered new jobs. His job is in a new company with very nice salary increase and mine is a promotion to a new department with my current company, so I got the title and salary bump. I know that the advice and comments here really helped us. When I was offered my job, the hiring manager specifically said I was night and day from the other candidates, that she loved my specific examples, and thought it was great that I had good questions to ask her as well.

    Thanks again!

  85. TinyPjM*

    Yesss I needed this.

    Okay, backstory. I’m in my late twenties, I have had a fairly successful career thus far, but I only have my HS Diploma. I am going back to school, but I won’t have my BS until I’m 30 or 31. Work is willing to pay for me to get my CSM and CAPM certifications (I’m a project manager), but do you think these will help me when I move on to other companies? Or am I kind of SOL until I complete my degree? I ask because I may be moving states later this year, and am trying to not live in a constant state of panic until then. Any help would be much appreciated!

    1. Dawn*

      YES. YES THEY WILL HELP- GET THEM. Go go go! They’re pretty much de-facto for moving up in the PM world, and they will add gravitas to your credibility in that area in a way that a BS won’t (not that the BS won’t be helpful too!) Holy cow, if your employer is willing to pay for them I don’t think you can run to sign up fast enough!

  86. Brett*

    So, I had my first performance review yesterday with my new director. He actually came to my office, sat down, and asked me questions.

    After years of poor management here, his first question floored me, he actually asked me, “Where do you think you will be in five years.” I had absolutely no answer, since I have spent so long feeling like I am trapped in a job I cannot leave that offers no advancement and no raises. I basically explained how I had my projects and volunteer work (mostly my volunteer work) planned out through June and could not build a vision of any changes after that.

    But then we had a discussion of the structure (or lack of structure) for professionals in our department in my field. We finally internally promoted a second person a few months ago to a position equal to mine, filling a position that has been open three years. We still have five open unhired positions, all in different units.

    I really wanted to say, “We need a management structure for these people we need to hire, and I should head it up.” But I could not do it. I know I am one of the top professionals in my field nationwide, but I had a hard time even suggesting I should be promoted in my organization to be in charge of one person. Part of this is that our other hire is very talented. I have far more experience than her and have been with the organization longer, but I am pretty certain she will match me for professional accomplishments very soon (I am even the one that insisted on hiring her in the first place, over the initial objections of our CIO).

    I have done leadership before too. I head up a volunteer group of 200 people. I have organized several major tech events and conferences. I also coach at a high level, have taught college classes, and been an invited trainer for multiple state associations. So, it really bothers me that I cannot just say, “You should make a new position and promote me into it.” That is where I should be in five years, if I am still here.

    Any thoughts on how to tackle this? For now, I already talked to the other person in my job class (she works in another division) about developing a formal structure for our department and fitting that into the overall organization. Though now that makes me feel like I would be proposing to her, “Oh, and I should be in charge,” and that makes me feel even more uncomfortable with this whole thing.

    1. Graciosa*

      Sometimes this is a test to see if you will raise your hand and ask for the job.

      Sometimes this is a test to see if you have the strategic thinking ability needed to identify a vision for the future.

      If you can’t manage either of these things, how effective do you think you would be in that new role?

      If you want it, go back to the new director and say, “I’ve been thinking a lot about what we discussed, and I really think that [insert vision for new department, possibly with brief supporting statements about what it will accomplish].” Be prepared to discuss it in more detail if asked, or to ask if this is something Director might be interested in discussing further.

      If you’re struggling with the idea of naming yourself as a future leader – and remember, this is sometimes a requirement to be considered – then feel free to soften it slightly along the lines of, “If we did [implement vision], I would really like to be considered for the new [Title] position. I think I would be a competitive candidate [given my great track record in the industry / whatever], although I’m sure I would not be the only one interested in such a role.”

      This leaves you looking professional and understanding if someone else is selected, but you still raised your hand. I know one person who applied for the same job (different groups) multiple times without getting it. She impressed management a little bit more each time until she was the top, successful candidate.

      You will never get it if you don’t apply.

      1. Brett*

        Our new director was my co-worker for the last 6 years (we go org/dept/division/office, he is the office director). I know him well enough to be pretty certain it was not a test. (Plus, I am the one who initiated the discussion of structure.)
        It would not be a new title or position actually (or any change in pay), so there would not be an application process. The process to do this has to go through two external tax boards, and one of them is adamantly opposed to any new job titles. This would just be a reorganization to improve our processes and give someone department level decision-making responsibility over the type of work I do.

        1. Graciosa*

          These unspoken tests are more common that most people realize, but I’ll assume your correct.

          You still won’t get it if you don’t apply, so the real question is whether you want it enough to have the conversation.

          Good luck –

          1. JPixel*

            Agreed about the unspoken tests and about having a follow-up conversation about this with your director. Definitely go back to him and tell him you have had time to digest what you discussed in your review and have some additional thoughts. I think your line here is key: “I had absolutely no answer, since I have spent so long feeling like I am trapped in a job I cannot leave that offers no advancement and no raises.” It sounds like you have a good enough relationship with him to tell him that and to also bring up your ideas for improvements.

            Also, as part of your review, did he share any insight with you about what he thinks your goals should be, or anything that you should be working to improve?

            1. Brett*

              Checked back through my old reviews, and it looks like I have been setting my own training, projects and goals since around 2011 (2 managers ago). One problem is that I have a technical position that no one else in the org understands, so it leaves my chain of command confused as to the current limits of my capabilities. At this point, I have finished every project and professional development goal I have been assigned or self-assigned in reviews since my first review in 2007 (~45 in all), including a lot of multi-year goals. I did just take on a new one that will take about 3 years to finish (requires 3,200 hours of training across our 8 person unit), but it has nothing to do with my primary technical field.

          2. Not So NewReader*

            Totally agree about unspoken tests. I think what you are saying OP is that it’s not a deliberate test, your boss did not set up a conversation with the idea of “I want to test OP today.”
            It’s a life test. Sometimes opportunities stroll by us in life and we have a choice to grab them or just let the opportunity keep strolling along past us. It’s not any one person is testing us. It’s that opportunities come and go through out our life time and we have to decide whether to take a chance or not.
            One of my favorite quotes comes from an old man in a nursing home. He was asked, “Do you have any regrets in life?” He said yes. He wished he had taken more chances, more risks. He said he made things a much bigger deal than they actually were. And he should have pushed through that.
            Give it a shot. I see the hurdle about no new titles. Please do not make decisions for other people. You may have allies that you do not realize you have. Your allies could tear those hurdles down for you. But they cannot pull down that hurdle if you do not make a move first.

  87. Mel*

    Hey guys! I’m hoping you all can help me. I work for a transportation company in Alabama and the CEO wants to put cameras in our company vehicles that would record video (of the road) and audio (inside the car). I know we need a signed policy before monitoring our employees, but any suggestions on how to ensure we’re not violating the law? I feel like the audio is an invasion of privacy, but I can’t find anywhere that says that we are not allowed to do so as long as our employees sign an acknowledgment of the monitoring. Any advice? Are we breaking law? For what it’s worth, I already pled my case that we have no real reason for audio, but the CEO feels that he should be able to ensure that our employees are doing their jobs.

    1. Gene*

      Alabama is a single-party recording state. So long as at least one party in the communication has consented to the recording, not illegal.

        1. Mel*

          Oh good. I always research behind any advice, but I was hoping to find a few experts to at least guide me in the right direction!

        2. ThursdaysGeek*

          Does that mean that Gene is not a stranger on the internet? He’s on the internet, so he must be a friend. Hi Gene!

          1. Gene*

            I’m stranger than most.


            There may be other things that come into play here, and IANAL.

    2. ExceptionToTheRule*

      IANAL (employment or otherwise) but I don’t think there are any legal barriers to what the CEO wants as long as everyone knows the cameras are there & recording both audio & video. I’m going to guess the CEO wants to be able to know if your drivers were on the phone (hands free or not) and potentially distracted in case of an accident or complaint. I don’t know if that’s reasonable or not.

    3. Graciosa*

      I’m sorry you lost this one.

      I would have understood a safety argument (we’ll only listen to audio after an accident, so we can hear “Look out to your left!” and figure out what happened), but I’m not sympathetic to a CEO who needs to hear everything “to ensure employees are doing their jobs.”

    4. Not So NewReader*

      The CEO sees no other way to figure out if employees are doing their jobs?
      Does the CEO have massive problems with people not doing their jobs?

      It’s looking like you might not have much for legal support on this one. Maybe you can appeal to common sense. My suggestion: “If you treat people like they are five years old, you are going to end up with a bunch of five year old employees working for you.” People who were not fudging the system are going to be hopping mad, they will feel insulted. These people will either start fudging the system or they will quit in anger.

      Who is going to review all this taped stuff? How long will you keep these records? Where will they be stored? What will be done to make sure these recordings cannot be altered? Will they only be viewed if there is a problem? Or will someone review them on a regular basis? These are all questions you can lay out for the boss to help him understand this is not home videos he is considering.

      My thinking is that if you have to put cameras on people to make sure they are working then it’s over. Hang it up, go home. You have lost control over your company.

      Many retailers have constant cameras going on now. My boss lost her credit card. She went back to the store. Security reviewed the tape of her sale at the register. The tape showed my boss putting her credit card back into her wallet. I see so many problems here. BUT. When we are in stores now it is widely assumed that cameras are rolling. I think that cameras in cars will probably be judged similarly, there is no privacy issues because people are often taped at work. (Black boxes in airplanes, another example.)
      Not a lawyer here, but I think this one could be expensive to get out from under. Better off to appeal to logic/common sense. This will impact employee morale to a degree that is not imagined. It will only serve to hurt the company in the long run.

  88. Jane*

    I recently saw a job posting that was a big reach for me. However, it was a role I eventually wanted to do, meant a big salary increase, and would cut my commute by 75%. I used your advice for writing my cover letter, interviewing, and (ultimately) negotiating salary. I start in a week. Thank you for doing what you do!

  89. Mimmy*

    Are questions related to the AAM site okay in the Open Thread?

    For the past couple of days, I’ve been getting marketing emails from a place whose parent company is Vendini–it’s some sort of app for buying tickets I think? Anyway, I just noticed one of the ads on the right side was Vendini. Do companies who place ads on your site draw from the email addresses of those who put their address in the “Email” field of the comments box?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      No, there’s no connection between the email address you enter here and the ads you see. No one has access to your email address except for me and my tech person.

      However, the ads are based on cookies, so if you’ve clicked on a site related to that company in some way, that could explain it.

  90. Amanda*

    My husband is a recent immigrant and has good spoken English but pretty atrocious written English. I’ve been working with him on cover letters for months and none of my advice on how to even form a basic sentence, much less write a compelling cover letter, seem to be sinking in. We’re both at wits end. Any advice?

    1. Anie* has a resume/cover letter section. You have to pay and I’m unsure what the rates are,but I used to work there. All our comments are supposed to be geared toward making the person a better writer using their examples, not just “fixing” the work itself.

    2. Mephyle*

      How is he in his first language? If he knows the analogous rules for written language, would it help to compare them to English? “Just like in Your Language, a sentence has to have a subject and a predicate.” “Unlike your language, we can’t leave out the pronoun here–English is different that way.”

    3. AcademicAnon*

      Can he tell you verbally what he wants in the cover letter and you transcribe it for him?

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Literacy volunteers? I have a friend that does this work and he does a lot of English as a second language work.

      Is he trying to write the way he speaks or is he trying to sound like someone else when he writes? When I write in a voice that is not mine it’s a disaster.

  91. Cher Horowitz*

    I met with a recruiter for a position I was highly interested in. She has since stopped responding to me and I’m under the impression she did not submit my resume to the employer. I was able to figure out who the employer was by something she said…would it be wrong for me to reach out the employer on my own. Just a quick, “are you hiring for x position, if so here’s my CV/resume.”

    1. Mel*

      If the company has a contract to fill the position through the recruiting agency, they technically would not be allowed to use you especially if the agency already did submit you. Well, they could, but they still would be forced to pay the fee if the agency found out. I had a few companies try to do this to some candidates I sent to them, by meeting them, telling me they weren’t selected, and then directly contacting the candidate themselves. Needless to say, I brought out the fancy contract and got that straightened out.
      That being said, you could always try applying directly with the company. I would check their online applications though and see if it’s even posted or if they have a generic application to complete.

  92. Anie*


    I’m full-time, but only work 4 days a week. Because of this schedule, I have a second, part time job to fill in that extra weekday. When I first began my full-time work, if there was a holiday I’d offer to rearrange my schedule so that I could still come in 4 days that week. I was always turned down (And not because I’d be paid the holiday and would therefore get an extra days pay. That was early enough that I still had temp status and didn’t get paid holidays.)

    Well, last year a company-wide meeting was scheduled for the day I don’t work. I didn’t offer to rearrange my schedule and no one brought it up, but when I returned the day after, upper management brought it up to me and seemed upset. This was the same person who have previously turned down my requests to “make-up” a day when the office would be closed. She didn’t outright say I should have made it in, just sounded heavily disapproving.

    There’s another meeting company-wide meeting next week, scheduled on the day I’m not in-office. I’ve heard from the office manager that upper management was made aware I wouldn’t be there; I once again didn’t offer to try to change things on my end.

    What I’m wondering is this: Should an employee feel obligated to rearrange their private schedule to make appointments happening on their days off? It’s certainly the nice thing to do and can be helpful, but how far should someone go on this, knowing it could put pressure on that second job? Also, I’m not salary.

    1. Colette*

      I don’t think you should have to rearrange your schedule, but I do think you need to be more proactive about this. yiu need to talk with your manager and ask her whether she’d like you to arrange to be there when there’s a company meeting (either through working more hours that week or through rearranging your schedule.)

  93. RidingNerdy*

    I recently interviewed for a position that I was really interested in at the time. It was an out of the blue interview – I’m not actively job searching. I interviewed them just as much as they interviewed me. After that interview, I’m leaning more towards “not interested” than “interested.”

    One of the interviewers gushed about what a perfect fit I’d be. I expect an offer to be forthcoming. If it were the right offer, I could quickly be interested, I think. However, if it’s not the right offer, I’d like to have a response ready so they could quickly move on to the next candidate.

    I’ve never turned down a job offer before. What’s the proper way to do that?

    1. S*

      I did this a couple weeks ago. Make sure you follow up via phone, not email. If the offer is made over the phone, please, please, do them the courtesy of calling them back and saying that you will not be taking the offer. And then send a follow-up email thanking them for the opportunity and saying that you’d like to stay in touch. I added my interviewer on LinkedIn after the call, for example.

      It’s polite to offer a vague explanation why (I’ve decided to pursue a different opportunity, remain with my current employer… in my case, it was that there are family issues that have made a move out of my city necessary), but you’re not required to. But be gracious with your tone, explain that you were very excited about the offer and thank them for it. Candidates turning down offers isn’t uncommon but it’s also important that you don’t burn bridges while doing so.

    2. Sara*

      I just turned down a job offer last week. Officially, my reason for doing so was that the compensation wasn’t in line with what I was looking for (and there was no room to negotiate), but I didn’t say that – I just said that I’d come to the decision that this wasn’t the right opportunity for me at this time. I also did this via email, because all of my correspondence with the hiring manager had been via email. (If it matters, this was a job at a very small, local non-profit, not a large employer.)

  94. Clever Name*

    Dude, I really need this one. One of my close friends at work got fired. I’m super bummed. It was for performance reasons, and it’s been a long time coming, but I’m still upset. Even though I know my company did the right thing for our company, I’m still sad. :( Most of my coworkers are just like, “meh”, which hurts.

    1. Joey*

      Or you could be thinking “I’m glad that doesn’t have to dread coming here any longer and can move on to something better.”

    2. Not So NewReader*

      That sucks. Seeing both sides of the coin is not so helpful sometimes. Not every company is for everyone. Hopefully, your friend will move on to something that is a better fit for her. Yeah, coworkers can be collectively disappointing, too.
      I hope you get to talk to your friend this weekend.

    1. ThursdaysGeek*

      I really like the line “With an infectious can’t-do attitude…”

      Still, I prefer the more ambiguous “You’d be lucky to get danr to work for you.”

  95. ExceptionToTheRule*

    For the first time in 3 years of handling scheduling, I’m going to have to turn down peoples’ time off requests.

    I’ve got 11 employees (counting myself) and one just gave notice, so that leaves 10. Six of them have asked for some part or another of a week off with 4 requests for a single day which includes everyone who regularly works the evening shift that day. I’ve got to have 3 people here for each newscast shift and I just can’t make it work.

    I feel bad to a degree, because I don’t like saying no to time off requests, but part of me is aggravated that people are asking for this day off because it falls in ratings and the company policy no time off during ratings (unless you or someone related to you dies or is hospitalized). I communicate that policy regularly and the ratings periods are posted right next to the time off forms. I do try to be accommodating with single days here & there because, you know, life, but I feel like doing that has contributed to the current mess.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      You may have to block the day entirely by telling them that they can’t request time off.

  96. Dave*

    Are these red flags?

    I’ve been with this company for about a year. One of my primary duties is writing most (between 70 and 100%) of a daily e-publication we do.

    One of the things that has been frustrating me lately is that it’s very difficult to get time off. I think it’s just being professional to talk to people if you time off might affect them in some way, and I try to do that. If I take a vacation day, there’s somebody who can cover for me. However, it’s increasingly becoming painful to do this. The person covering for me will tell me that she can’t cover me 2 days out of every 2 weeks because she also writes another publication we do that goes out bi-weekly. So she says she can’t cover me the two days before it comes out because she needs the time to write it. (I am not sure how it takes her 2 days + to write it, as I get my version, which is arguably more labour-intensive, done in 5 hours at most.)

    That’s a nuisance, but recently I had a situation where my 20-month old came down with something on Sunday. It was clear that it wasn’t the sort of thing that was going to go away overnight, so I emailed my boss, and the person who covers for me, that day to give them a heads up and say “if everything goes really well, I may make it in, but I doubt it.” But because that Monday was one of the days that my co-worker is apparently unable to cover for me, I ended up having to work ahead on Sunday and put in a few hours on Monday while my child was napping to cram in my day’s work.

    Now, I’m apparently going to be promoted very soon. (I’ve been told that I will be promoted but when I asked my boss, who I generally like, said that we will discuss the terms of that at a later date.) When I do, I will take over one of the roles of the guy who currently reviews my work. I’ll still be responsible for doing at least some of the writing–they say they will hire somebody to take over some of it, but not all–but will also be required to edit and review our publication each day before it goes out. This, apparently, will be the case even when I am on vacation, or off sick. I won’t have to write it, but I’ll still have to edit / approve the publication.

    Is this… odd? I’m not in a senior position, nor will I be. I am taking over some of the duties of a VP, who is leaving the company, but I’m not going to be a VP. Presumably he gets paid a lot more than I will be, even after the promotion. I have so many vacation days stipulated in my contract. Already, I still have to check my email every day because inevitably I will get things that might need to be dealt with immediately that only I can do. But this is still pretty passive, sending a quick email type things–not actively editing stuff.

    So red flags? What should I do? I’ve already suggested to my boss that they need more bodies, and presented the possible scenario that both of the people who can do this get sick, or that one of us gets sick while the other is on holiday, and he said “Well, between the two of you I’m sure somebody will be able to step up.”

    1. soitgoes*

      Some jobs inherently do not have a lot of flexibility built into them. Hopefully that is balanced by a good salary and reasonable hours. But I don’t think it’s a red flag to insist that the person in charge of getting out the weekly newsletter on time is able to do it. Sometimes you simply don’t fulfill the requirements for a job and those reasons are not your fault, but the requirements are red flags for not working with your particular life situation. This is one of those cases where if you feel that you can’t work without flexibility, this is not the position for you.

      1. Sarah Nicole*

        I disagree. It’s unreasonable for someone to literally never get a day off just because the job has to get done. If that’s the case, why can’t they train someone to cover? It doesn’t make sense for only one person to be the key-holder for a job. Everyone deserves to take vacations and rest when they get sick.

        1. RidingNerdy*


          Also, what should happen if Necessary Employee were to be hit by the proverbial bus?

        2. soitgoes*

          Until I saw the clarification, I hadn’t known that the newsletter couldn’t be written ahead of time :/

      2. Dave*

        It’s not weekly; it’s daily. I’m fine with it not being flexible to a degree, but when it gets to the point where I am unable to take a day off to take care of a sick child (or to recover myself when I am sick) is when I start to ask questions.

        And no, it’s not exactly balanced by a good salary; it’s not much above an entry-level position.

    2. Sarah Nicole*

      What are you writing about? Is it time-sensitive? If not, there’s no reason why it can’t be written ahead of time and approved early. Then that person can send it out even while you’re on vacation. Of course that doesn’t work as well for sick time. I’ve been a marketing writer for a couple of years now and any reasonable person knows you write ahead…unless it’s news or something. Is it like that?

      Either way I’d never want to work at a place that makes it difficult to take time off just because there’s a daily job that needs to get done. Someone else can be trained to do it for just a few days. There always has to be someone else with skills enough to be cross-trained and cover. I know it’s tough in smaller workplaces, but what would they do if you were in the hospital or in a no service zone and literally couldn’t be reachable? Not smart.

      1. Dave*

        It’s industry news, so yes, time-sensitive. Occasionally there’s the possibility to write ahead, but not often. My role’s also expanded a bit and fulfilling the other tasks leaves little time to write ahead anyway unless it’s been planned for.

        I think I feel the way you describe in the second paragraph: I feel as though I am entitled to take time off, as stipulated in my contract, and I have always been very accommodating. However, I’ve repeatedly said that there needs to be enough redundancy that somebody can step up if I were, say, in a car accident or something.

        1. Sarah Nicole*

          Right. It’s not fair to you, but it’s also just not intelligent on the part of the employer. I had a boss that had all of us on a 7 person team cross-train on at least 2 other members’ jobs. She said in case she was hit by a bus, she’d want her job to be done, so she even had us learn parts of her job. And honestly when you have something important enough as daily industry news, you spend a little more on staff to make sure there’s no way it won’t get done every single day. Maybe if you are promoting you can help influence this a bit at your company. If not, I’d probably look to go elsewhere, personally. That’s too much stress that could be completely avoided, and everyone deserves time off.

  97. nona*

    My part-time job has slowly been given the responsibilities of a full-time job. I’m extremely stressed out.

    That’s all, just venting. I’m going to talk to my manager about it next week. Now back to work.

  98. Steve G*

    I just wanted to mention GlassDoor while I was looking at yet another good company with horrible ratings. This one says “The toilet works sometimes. Even then, they are not always flushed. You should get a job here only because it feel so good when you leave.” I know this company. OK, they may not be the best employer in the world, but it is by no means this bad!

    I interviewed somewhere a few times over the past few weeks. They had HORRIBLE ratings on glassdoor, so I was skeptical during the whole process and convinced myself that I was just doing it for practice. There were ratings that the pay was low, benefits were horrible, and there was no PTO the first year. Well, lo and behold, by the time these items came up in the discussion, none of these things turned out to be true. And these aren’t subjective points, I mean, I got #s from them to back up that glassdoor ratings were wrong. I was more than miffed that I’d invested so much in glassdoor only to find out that the ratings were very misleading.

    I am now applying to jobs w/ bad glassdoor ratings because I don’t know how to use them to make rational decisions anymore.

    1. AndersonDarling*

      It could be that the company finally started responding to employee complaints and started paying better and offering better benefits. Although, many places will give great packages to new employees while leaving their current staff behind.

    2. Not Today Satan*

      Well, my last employer has a 1.9 rating on Glassdoor, and I think that’s generous. It’s possible that the company you interviewed with has a lot of low level employees with terrible benefits, even if you got better pay and benefits.

      1. Steve G*

        Perhaps….I just don’t know what to make of all of the reviews I am reading in this job hunt. Maybe 75% of the companies hiring have ratings below 3.0. And every company’s ratings have at least a few horror stories. It’s hard to use information when it is overwhelmingly negative.

        1. thisisit*

          it’s interesting because i left a review for my last org on glassdoor and commented that we didn’t get paid enough for the work we did (a sentiment echoed by others). i knew people who had left for lateral moves to other orgs who got 20K+ bumps. i’m interviewing at a place myself that is actually less work than my old position, but pays almost 75% higher. so i didn’t think my review was that off base.
          then i read some other reviews for my old org and was surprised that people were happy with what they were paid. maybe an issue of different divisions doing different things? people being happy with what they have (instead of making comparisons)? who know? but definitely pays to take things with a grain of salt. and anyone who complains about the toilets (unless it’s a toilet manufacturer or installer?) is one to ignore. it’s like when people complain on tripadvisor about how the hotel staff doesn’t speak English… in a non-English speaking country. says more about the reviewer than the place….

        2. AnotherAlison*

          I’ve read some of the reviews for my company, and some of the most negative ones are from interns and new grads. My reaction is awe, sorry you didn’t get a 6-level promotion in your two years here. Even legitimate negative review should be questioned for how they apply today. 10 years ago, my division was less than 1/5 the current size, and we got a new president at the beginning of the year. Not that I’m all rah-rah about my company, but when you’re on the inside of what’s a pretty decent place to work, it’s easy to see how someone’s most likely genuinely bad experience is an outlier more than the norm.

        3. Random CPA*

          Yeah, but certain departments or locations can be worse than others. For nationwide companies with different divisions, it’s hard to get a sense reading glassdoor whether the stories will hold true in the particular area you would be working.

    3. Dawn*

      I always look at Glassdoor less for the content of individual ratings and more for the trends. Are the majority of people saying the same things? Are the people that are saying the same things all from the same department or vertical? I know that before my last company went completely insane that there were verticals that would always have the same complaints, and verticals that would always be singing praises.

      I use Glassdoor as a litmus test. Does literally every review say the CEO is insane? Does everyone, regardless of title or if they’re a current or former employee, complain that salaries are below market? If so, I go in to the interview wary, and make sure to ask questions that can perhaps refute those claims.

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        I think it’s interesting not so much whether people give positive or negative ratings as what they decide makes for a positive or negative. I always laugh at the reviews that say Company X is a great place to work because you get to have all these team-bonding activities at faraway vacations or that the “positive” is there being a real “work hard, play hard” atmosphere. Those are big red flags to me.

        1. Steve G*

          Yup…I saw some that rates companies 1 or 2 and the only “con” they wrote was “no advancement opportunity. Um…that so does not make for a 2 out of 5!

    4. little Cindy Lou who*

      Glassdoor can be hit or miss, especially in companies with many offices or very segregated departments. I pay far less attention to the overall rating and instead scan for the (a) the location of the office I’m interviewing for and (b) mention of my functional area. It gives a better gauge. Also you can definitely bring any concerns about the bad reviews up conversationally with HR and say you know it tends to be the unhappy wheels who squeak the loudest there but how do they handle x, y, z (if you have any specific concerns from the reviews)

  99. TheExchequer*

    So I’m job searching again. My employers are not making paying my commission on time a priority for them. And I understand it’s a bonus and I’m not really entitled to it, but it frustrates me that they repeatedly tell me I’ll have it on a certain date and then they are magically too overwhelmed to get it to me. (Current score: 1 month out of 5 for getting it to me on time or even by the date they say they will). My tenure at this job is less than a year, so I’m wondering if I should somehow address this in my cover letter? Or just hope for an interview and address it at that point?

    1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

      Here I go again………. commission is part of your pay structure. It’s not a bonus. It’s not optional. It’s part of pay.

      Bonuses can also be part of your pay structure, mine is, but sometimes bonuses are optional. “Good job Fred, look here’s a bonus.” << may not repeat the next time Fred does a good job.

      Commission IS pay! 2% of collected sales commission is as much a pay agreement as $400 a week salary is.

      I don't know the legalities of someone not paying commission on time vs salary, since I've never been in the position of someone diddling with my commission or me diddling with someone else's. Maybe someone else here does.

      Re cover letter: you can get better advice here on cover letters than I can give, but my thought would be the positive spin of dropping in looking for employment in a financially stable company.

      (If you told me in an interview that you were having trouble getting your commission paid, that would tell me all I needed to know about why you were looking for a new job after 8 months.)

      1. BRR*

        I second this. Commission is pay.

        Maybe something like “The company was having issues issuing my pay in a timely manner.”

    2. little Cindy Lou who*

      No advice just sympathy. I did commissions calculations for a brand I supported (part of being their financial analyst) and had an absolute fit when after the usual review the company tried to “hold” part of one guy’s commision for no reason other than it was larger than they expected and they thought his targets needed to be reviewed (it was a company where this was a drop in the bucket to pay out compared to what revenue was brought in). I won the “pay up!” battle but it made me sick of the parent company as it was one of a series of “we don’t care about you” events.

      maybe it’s a review process holding things up?

  100. Cass*

    How do you ask someone to be your mentor? At this point in my career, I really need one. I have a meeting with a person who I think would be perfect – I asked for feedback on a job rejection and she suggested meeting up in person. Do you actually have to “ask” or is it more informal?

    1. Mimmy*

      I’d be curious in this answer too–I could probably use a mentor;, I don’t have anyone in mind specifically right now, but it’d help if I do identify a possible person.

    2. Meg*

      There’s a podcast from Real Simple called Adulthood Made Easy, and the latest episode (ep 5) is all about finding a mentor!

    3. Dr. Johnny Fever*

      This is where the advice is close to dating advice. I’ve been on both sides. FWIW, just be open and candid about what you want.

      Ask for the feedback first, and don’t be afraid to ask for her input on any classes or activities that might help you improve. After receiving the feedback, say that you are very interested in putting together a development plan and ask, “Do you have time or willingness to mentor me on this path? If not, would you know someone who might be interested in mentoring me?”

      Mentoring is not everyone’s cup of tea, and you want to give her a clear out if this is something that is not strength for her or she doesn’t have time for. By asking for an alternate, you’re showing definitive interest, and you have the potential to expand your network.

      The mentoring relationship is as formal or informal as you need it to be. First order of business is to talk about the goals, timeframe, and expectations for the relationship, then stick to them. You can pull together a formal dev plan with checklist to review on a regular basis, or meet every two weeks to discuss current work and different approaches you might take based on different factors or points of view.

      Bottom line – just ask. At worst, they say no, and you move on. Good luck.

    4. little Cindy Lou who*

      I think the best mentoring relationships develop informally — you and a more experienced somebody click, talk, swap stories, share advice.

      One of my best mentor stories: I’d brought that I’d like to have a mentor to my first boss out of college and named a lady in our department about his peer as someone I was considering, and he snapped “No! I’m your mentor!” … At the time I was totally confused, but he did actually mentor me very well in the 2 years I worked for him and is still a supportive reference to this day (we chat once in a blue moon to catch up). He also clarified later that his 25+ years and multiple evolving roles across our functional areas made him way more qualified to guide me career wise and in developing strong core skills than the less diversely experienced person I had named.

  101. Ribald Robbie*

    On the advice of a friend, I upgraded to the Premium Jobseeker membership on LinkedIn. One of the “advantages” to this membership is that occasionally on a job posting on the site it will tell you whether or not you are in the top 50% of candidates. I can’t find any details on how they are measuring your competitiveness and I’m skeptical about this in general, so I’m wondering if any of you know whether this is actually accurate or not. I ask because I’m surprised LinkedIn has suggested I would be in the top percentage of candidates for some jobs and not in others–I find it alternately off-putting and unbearably hope raising. Any insight would be greatly appreciated!

    1. Colette*

      My guess would be that it’s an automated algorithm that matches your profile/application with the listed job requirements – but that’s only as good as the posting and your wording.

  102. JBean*

    My office is a small division within a mid-sized company. Our leadership has historically overseen an average of 4-5 staff members. We’ve had a number of cycles of expansion and contraction of staff numbers due to contract work. As the numbers grew, office systems did not change. We still bottlenecked at the same two individuals; we did not have any hierarchical project management structure that was worth anything; and employees were often thrown into projects – occasionally in leadership positions – with little orientation, background experience, and overall experience in the contract type. Turnover was high, due in part to the contracts ending, but also because of frustration with the management of the division.

    The head of the division just left, and in her place is the 2nd in charge. I’ve worked with him for a number of years. Though he is technically as senior-level staff member, I cannot move beyond my impression that he operates as a mid-level manager – due to the division’s size – and our business and management style suffers as a result. He will lie to save face, will dump projects on others, and is generally unreliable. I’ve come to doubt everything that comes from his mouth, and have taken it upon myself to double check anything related to contracts, regulations, laws, and ways of doing. I’m convinced that he is in a position of comfort and moving more fully into a senior position, with all the appropriate planning and delegation and oversight, is something he resents.

    Is there anyway to manage this while I remain at the company?

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Sounds like a nightmare. I think you are doing everything you can given your givens. For your own peace of mind you might want to try to stop thinking about Loser Leader as often as possible. Keep a written list of your accomplishments on this job. This will help you write your CL and resume. (I have to say that because I know first hand that if you have to fact check everything you lose sight of what it is you are contributing yourself.)
      One thing I usually land on in this type of situation is that this person is allowed to continue doing whatever, because upper management allows his behavior to go on. Sometimes this idea stings if I like upper management and I don’t want to think of them as being this foolish.

  103. Former Diet Coke Addict*

    I had a phone call this week to arrange an interview for next week, and I checked out the guy on LinkedIn, only to find that he lists “My first entrepreneurial endeavor in Grade 5” of cutting out pictures of New Kids On the Block and selling them to girls in his class, in all seriousness, on his list of jobs.

    I am not sure how I feel about this but I am sure it will be an interesting interview if nothing else.

    1. Steve G*

      LOL NKOTB was my first concert. At least the guy has a sense of humor! I remember big drama when my sister’s Donnie pin went mysteriously missing, and her friend mysteriously had a new Donnie pin, even though you couldn’t get those types of pins anywhere except at the concert (which we were at)……

    2. AnotherAlison*

      The most disturbing part of this is that NKOTB hit it big when I was in 5th grade, which means this guy is >35, so that’s a little weird if he is serious. OTOH, I have a friend who has his time working at the little league park and Pizza Hut on his LinkedIn and it’s clearly a joke.

      I think as long as it’s not on his resume, I wouldn’t judge harshly.

    3. EmilyG*

      I recently got a LinkedIn request from someone who included a surreal level of detail about experiences he had had as well as a bizarre willingness to disclose failed endeavors.

      For example, he had an item thanking Harvard for interviewing him five or more years ago, and saying what a privilege it was to meet with them even though he wasn’t admitted to a grad program. He also has “fellowship applicant” down for multiple years and states that he’s going to keep applying until accepted. The profile includes his high school trombone teacher and a family vacation in the 1980s.

    4. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*


      He might be okay. I like people who don’t get super serious on Linked In.

      My entire job description is “Yes, I do that. “. (I’m not job hunting and I’ve no reason to spend time creating long paragraphs that explain what I do.)

      Give him a shot. He might be fun and the kind of person who doesn’t take himself too seriously. (If he thinks that’s an Impressive Accomplishment, I bet you’ll get the Important Person vibe off of him quickly.)

  104. Anonymous Educator*

    A few weeks ago, I left a very toxic Old Organization for a job at New Organization.

    The funny thing is that every new person I meet at New Organization keeps saying it’s nice to meet me and then something like “Isn’t this such a crazy place?” or “You like it so far? That’ll change—don’t worry,” and I want to be like “You have no idea how much worse it could be,” but I don’t think they really care that much to hear about how bad Old Organization was, and I don’t think a lot of them would even believe how toxic it was there.

    I think, to a certain extent, I’m still in a “honeymoon” period at New Organization, and that shine will wear off after a few months. In the meantime, when people at New Organization complain about stuff, I just keep thinking how much worse (like a 100 times worse, not 3 times worse) it was at Old Organization.

    Anyone else have an experience like this before?

    1. EEK! The Manager*

      Yep – though I’d never return to Old Org, I’ve been at New Org for almost two years now, and the honeymoon for me has worn off. I still enjoy my work and the people, but I’m starting to experience the stress/burn-out that some were complaining about when I first started.

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        Thanks. Fortunately, nobody at New Organization has complained about stress or burnout. A lot of tiny little things but nothing major. Many of them have been there for 10+ or 15+ years.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Yeah, I made the mistake of trying to point out that things could be worse at one new job I had. Big mistake. They were caught in hell and wanted everyone to thoroughly appreciate how they were suffering.
      I used to chuckle when they complained about how fast everything had to be done. I thought it was slow compared to where I have been. I sincerely believed that if they stopped standing around and visiting with each other for 45 minutes at a clip that more would get done. Call me crazy.

      Life experience makes a difference in how we take in our current experience. Additionally, some people seem to have a main goal of showing everyone how miserable their job is. But employers don’t want to hire martyrs. Making mountains out of mole hills is not something that works well on a resume. Annnnd there is an opportunity cost. If a person is not developing as an employee that works against them in the long run. Stepping back from the challenges of a job only benefits the short run, because in the long run the person has missed learning experiences that could be applied to future jobs. It’s those learning experiences that bring on rock star status.

    3. little Cindy Lou who*

      Yes. So much yes.

      For what it’s worth, a year in new job and I’m still mentally singing happy happy joy joy!!! Every. Day.

      A friend asked me what I’d think if she applied to Never Again and I was straight up “I love you no matter what, but don’t say I didn’t warn you…”

  105. araminty*

    My husband works as a programmer at a small game company here in the Bay Area. They recently had some layoffs, about 15%, and as a result, he’s been assigned some new projects. Some of them seem exciting to him, but it’s certainly an increase in his responsibilities and workload overall.

    How to balance asking for a raise in the obviously uncertain climate?

    1. AVP*

      I wouldn’t ask until he’s already succeeded at them. Maybe if there’s an opportunity like a review after six or nine months, or a huge change in company fortunes. You don’t get the raise just for getting new responsibilities, especially when they’re due to others being laid off.

    2. Apollo Warbuks*

      If they laid people off there’s obviously money problems so I’d think very carefully before asking for a raise, at the moment. It seems like a bad idea to me.

    3. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

      If he needs/requires more money than he’s making right now, a company that just laid off 15% isn’t the place to get it. If nothing else, it’s tone deaf to ask for a raise after 15% of people just lost their jobs.

      After layoffs he should be at least casually job hunting anyway so I think it’s best to put his salary increase effort in that direction.

    4. TinyPjM*

      I too work in the Bay Area in games…and I think I know the company. Since we’re kind of a weird industry, it’s possible he could gently argue for a title change. Under the assumption that he has been in the industry a while, he knows there is a lot of turnover, so a title change may be the bump his resume needs for the future.

  106. cereal killer*

    I wanted to get this in early, but hopefully people will read to the bottom!!

    I’m going in for an interview next week for a position that is very much what I want to be