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 biubiu.pl, 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*

          +1

          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 USAjobs.gov 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.
          Interesting.

  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:

      http://marc.ucla.edu/mpeg/05_Loving_Kindness_Meditation.mp3
      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.

      http://self-compassion.org/wp-content/uploads/meditations/01-Kristin-Neff-The-Self-Compassion-Break.mp3
      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?

    Thanks!

    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*

      Congrats!

      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*

      Congrats!

      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*

        This.
        “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!