open thread – May 1, 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 :)

{ 1,213 comments… read them below }

  1. (Less) Frustrated*

    Just wanted to say thank you to everyone who gave input last week (about an undermining manager who basically won’t let me do the supervisory aspect of my job)—my manager and I met to discuss his expectations of me, and it looks like it’s not really about what I’m doing or not doing. He simultaneously told me that he doesn’t undermine me, but even if he does, it’s because it happens to him all the time, and it’s part of the culture here. I met with HR (on an unrelated matter), and was told that my manager had issues with both of my predecessors, both related to his inability to let them do their jobs, and relegating them to the role of clerk (which is obviously not what any of us signed up for).
    At this point, I think I’m better off looking elsewhere. And thank you! to Not So NewReader—you asked the exact right question: no, I don’t want this job, even if some of these aspects improve. From what I’ve seen, the culture here is less about getting work done, and more about playing mind games, and I’m definitely not the right person for that.
    Now it’s just a matter of figuring out how to approach job hunting. I’m pregnant and due in July. I plan to be home for at least 2-3 months after the baby comes, but don’t want to leave all my job applications until right after he’s born —when is the earliest I should be applying for jobs?

    1. Artemesia*

      Can you time it so you are actively available for interview at about 6 weeks post partum. I don’t know how many kids you have had, but when I had mine, that 6 weeks mark was a big point of change for me. By that point nursing was under control, my figure was pretty much back to normal and my energy level more or less back. for the first particularly, the first month was very rough — certainly would not have wanted to be interviewing. And if you have never had a child it can come as a shock that in the days immediately after the birth you still look 5 mos pregnant. For me the weight and toning went to normal relatively quickly, but that first month of exhaustion, out of shapeness and stress over the new Mom role was not the time to be putting a best foot forward elsewhere.

    2. BRR*

      Yeah, just because he gets undermined doesn’t make it ok to do it to others.

      Are you ok interviewing soon after the birth? Maybe start applying late may early june. Then start 2-3 months after the baby is born (congratulations!) by the time they finish.

    3. Anon Accountant*

      Definitely sounds good to be job searching. Maybe 1 or 2 months after the baby is born would be better time to start applying so you can be more settled into a new routine with the baby?

    4. BananaPants*

      Immediately postpartum, I would not have been able to put my best foot forward in an interview. I wasn’t getting enough sleep, I was still a bit sore/achy, and I’m a nursing mom who wouldn’t have been comfortable (emotionally or physically) with having to pump to leave a newborn for several hours. And my suit probably wouldn’t have fit! At around 5-6 weeks was when things got much easier; I was only up twice overnight and the baby was eating faster and I was fully physically recovered from delivery. I went back to work at 10 weeks with our first and 12 with our second and was definitely OK with it then.

      I would see how you feel and at a month after delivery, start applying. Assuming it takes a week or two at a minimum to get called for an interview, you’d be 6+ weeks postpartum by the time you actually interview. By the time you get through an entire hiring process you could easily be 3+ months postpartum.

  2. Adam*

    TGIF. Moving apartments over the weekend is a special kind of exhaustion. But I have a job hunt question I could use some help with please!

    Practicing interview questions and could use some feedback on an answer to the dreaded “Tell me about a weakness you have” bit.

    Recently I’ve been considering using something along the lines of “I can be a bit shy/not proactive about advocating for my own work and making sure my managers are up to date on all the things I’m accomplishing.” Very roughly worded.

    Context example: I have a co-worker who I collaborate with all the time assisting her with product review, quality checks, and various administrative tasks for our website. These tasks aren’t really part of my job description per se, but are directly related to my work so it’s well within my sphere to assist where I can. According to my co-worker I am an absolute lifesaver with all the work I take on for her.

    My department director, who both oversees these products and I interact with regularly, had absolutely no idea I did any of these things until it came up in a conversation with said co-worker who pointedly related how grateful she is I’m around to help. I tend to naturally be the sort where “a job well done speaks for itself”, but obviously in a busy office it’s easy for the higher ups to miss what you’re doing if you don’t let them know about it.

    Now this is a weakness to address in my personal development, but is it a valid one to bring up in an interview? I could easily see it being interpreted as the cliché “I work too hard!” type of answer.

    1. Not Today Satan*

      I think you’re right that’s it’s a “I work too hard!” type of answer.

    2. Future Analyst*

      I would be hesitant to use this as your weakness: it definitely comes off as a humblebrag. “I’m so good at my job, and helping with others’ work, and I don’t even ask for credit!” I’m also curious as to why you see it as a weakness, period. Has it negatively affected your worklife in the past? If so, it may be that the bigger issue is that you’re not communicating effectively (or at all). When you have reviews, do you identify the things you did well during the year? Or do you let others assess for themselves what you’ve done well? This may just be an issue of speaking up when you are given the opportunity to do so.

      1. Adam*

        Thank you commentors for the input. You confirmed what I was thinking so I’ll think of a better answer.

        To answer Future’s questions, I think it is a weakness to an extent as I’m naturally a keep to myself type of person and since my position doesn’t require much supervision I can end up doing a lot of things no one ever notices. I’ve never had a bad review, but review time seems to be about the only time my accomplishments get much of a highlight, and they’re usually the first time the higher ups hear about them.

        It’s also a question of how much company culture sucks (which is a lot). My direct managers are great but are so bogged down by the larger office Tom Foolery that my little corner of the world doesn’t draw much attention so long as the work is being done right. If I want to get noticed so I can have the opportunity to broaden my skills and do more interesting work I really have to hammer the point sometimes, and even then have to wait for a committee to decide it’s ok then.

        1. Beezus*

          I think if you boil it down, though, that’s a way you’re doing a disservice to yourself, and not really to your employer. Try thinking about things your boss might say you can work on.

          1. Adam*

            Good idea, although really he’d probably say that I’m not working on getting out of here fast enough (In a good way. He wants out too.)

    3. Salt bagel*

      I think there’s something here you can use. Maybe you can avoid the humblebrag aspect by playing up the shyness part, with a focus on how you work around it. Something like “I tend to be quiet, put my head down, and get the job done, and sometimes in the past I’ve let that get in the way of accepting credit for work I’ve done.” (There may be a better way to word this.)

      I know Alison has said in the past to point out how you have gotten past that weakness, so you probably need to ask yourself how you can start doing that without waiting for annual reviews or formal sitdowns. You could say something to your boss like, “I had the opportunity to help Sue out with the TPS reports this week, and I appreciated the opportunity to be exposed to that aspect of the job. She gave me some great feedback about my help, so I wanted to let you know.”

      1. Natalie*

        Eh, I’m still not sure this is actually answering the question. Ideally, a hiring manager wants to know weaknesses that affect your ability to do the job, not your ability to get credit for doing the job. This particular weakness is more about the OP’s professional development rather than their fitness for any particular role.

        1. Adam*

          Yeah, that’s a fair point. I’m a little on edge with interviews because THIS time I actually want to find a company that actually cares about its staffs’ professional development. But those are questions for further along in the process.

          1. Natalie*

            I totally get that – I’m looking for the same in my next job – but the “weakness” question isn’t the right place for that particular issue.

    4. Camellia*

      Many weaknesses are either the flip side of a strength or a strength taken too far.

      For example, I excel at taking a vague one sentence customer request and jumping on it, getting my arms around it, wrestling it to the ground, and ultimately coming with with concrete requirements that can be coded, tested, and delivered to that customer.

      The opposite of this is that if you stuck me somewhere processing nothing but one-line maintenance changes I would be so bored my eyes would cross and I wouldn’t stay happy very long.

      Carry this strength to the extreme and I can become a control monster.

      Maybe thinking along these lines will help you come up with a better answer for this question.

      1. PinkiePieChart*

        I had an interview recently where I was asked what would happen if I took a strength too far. Confidence turns into arrogance, that sort of thing. I thought that was a really good question and much more interesting that “what are your weaknesses.”

    5. OOF*

      Yeah, I think this is too much a strength. Here are two examples that I use that demonstrate an ability to be honest in a way that I don’t think is penalizing me:

      I’m very good at thinking strategically, and implementing ideas and opportunities successfully. However, I am not the world’s most creative person. I know this about myself, and that means that when my work would benefit from some creative thinking, I reach out to colleagues to brainstorm. I cultivate relationships with those who I know are creative, so that when we bring together our two perspectives, we end up with a stronger outcome than one person might normally reach.

      I’m actually a bit shy. This matters in our field, of course, because I’m constantly interacting with clients. I learned when I was very new to the professional world that I couldn’t let this be something that got in the way of being successful in my role, so I’ve had a good deal of practice now pushing myself out of my comfort zone, and also identifying which situations may have me feeling particularly shy so that I have a strategy in my mind in advance.

    6. Michele*

      I would steer clear of that. The person may stop listening before you get to the example and just hear you say that you don’t communicate well, which is a major problem.

      I hope you enjoy your new apartment. Moving can be exciting.

    7. nep*

      Same here — it absolutely strikes me as one of those ‘I work too hard’, ‘I’m a perfectionist’ responses.

  3. Nervous Accountant*

    How do you advise someone who’s not motivated to do much? She’s young, 18, graduated HS but dropped out of college after going for a few days. It seems like she’s lost and has no direction, but I haven’t seen her very much or spoken to her…I only know this bc of a few conversations w her sisters. Her family has tried to get through to her but shes’ not listening to anyone.

    I think there are some deeper issues at play as to why she’s not motivated to do anything……only reason I think this is bc I’ve felt that way and wasn’t motivated or ambitious at that age…but not going to college was NEVER an option in my family.

    What I’m stumped is what exactly to advise her. My husband and her sisters all have different opinions..force her to go to school, get a ft job instead, etc. She wants to do retail or food service, but her family is telling her to aim higher….I disagree bc at her stage, with only a HS diploma and NO college education, retail or food service is ALL she can get right now. I would suggest that she take those jobs, in the hopes that she’ll be so miserable that she’ll be motivated to go back to school. Others disagree with this approach. What do you guys think?

    1. Ali*

      My brother is somewhat like this. He went to college and does have a job as a food service aide in a nursing home, but he’s pretty content with just that and isn’t really caring to aim higher. My mom was asking me one night why he can’t be more motivated and how we should really try to encourage him to have bigger aspirations. I told her I feel like it’s losing weight and that you can’t force anyone to want a high-level job or a powerful career, a graduate degree or whatever.

      Maybe encourage your family member to explore different careers and the education required, just to see if anything can interest her before she commits to it? See if she wants to job shadow or something?

      That said, I’ve worked in food service before to make ends meet, and if you can get into the right place and move up enough, management seems like a decent enough career. Something like that could end up being good for her.

      1. Sunflower*

        A hotel might be a good choice for her too. Start off as a server or front desk agent and she could be a manager in a couple years..

    2. Question from Ontario, Canada*

      I’d take her out to lunch and ask her what she’s interested in. Explain there are more than just college options… there’s trades, university, apprenticeships, etc. If she says she’s interested in retail, maybe guide her to retail management which can be successful. Also, listen more than anything. I was that age not too long ago and I would’ve just enjoyed someone asking me about my life in an adult manner. If you push-push-push or threaten, she’s close up. If she truly wants to do food or retail, tell her to go for it, she’ll realize after a few years it doesn’t make much and then motivation will kick it… that’s what my sister did. She’s 24 now and in school now studying something that she knows she wants to do.

      1. puddin*

        I like this approach. The idea is to find out what do she wants to do right now…and not asking “what do I want to be when I grow up.” Then do that thing she wants to do. If she needs to also do something else in order to accomplish that thing (like get a job to pay for backpacking through Europe) then plan that out and meet that objective as a means to the end.

        Also, I have to add military service a another non-college option.

      2. Beancounter in Texas*

        I like the supportive attitude in your answer, Question from Ontario, Canada. As I am learning with my toddler, inviting her to cooperate with me and responding positively when she does gets us closer to my end goals on a much happier note than physically wrestling her and forcing my will upon her. And truly, it’s bonding when we work together.

        So much of knowing “what to do with your life” stems from some serious introspection and/or knowing yourself well, even if it’s “I do not want to do retail/food service.” Better for her to explore now while she is young without big responsibilities and has a safety net of parents.

      3. Lindsay J*


        I was one of those people where college wasn’t an option – I was going, no question about it.

        So I went, right out of high school.

        And I didn’t exactly goof off, but I switched my major a couple times because I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, I struggled with depression and lack of motivation, and racked up a ton of student loans and graduated with a much lower GPA than I should have.

        And now I do something that has nothing to do with my major, and that I only needed a high school diploma for.

        My little brother went to a ridiculously expensive school for a niche major and is now doing the food service grind anyway because there’s no jobs in what he wants to do.

        There are a lot of people who don’t want to do the regular 9-5 office type of job, and don’t want or need a college education to do what they want to do.

        I tend to find myself in weird job ecosystems, and there have been people successfully living on their own, building a family, etc, on their salaries in all of them (even very minimal salaries). And lots of them it’s entirely possible to work your way up within to something that makes a decent wage without additional schooling – just show up, work hard, and show you’ve got some common sense.

        I know people who are spending their careers working in amusement parks. Doing photography. Working in restaurants. Retail. Pizzarias. Working for an airline. Driving for UPS. Working in hotels. There are certainly people in these types of positions that hate their jobs – but I think that holds true for any type of job. There are also a lot of people in these jobs that love what they do every day.

        I think I would have greatly benefited from some actual conversations when I was in high school and just out of high school about the types of jobs that are available out there – without the “you’re too good to spend your life in retail” insinuation that any career talks I ever had included. I’m not a sit down, sit still, and do work for 8 hours a day type of person. I need a changing environment and a variety of tasks or else I am bored out of my mind. I am not wired to be able to wake up and do work at 8AM or 9AM. I like working independantly and feeling like people rely on me. There are a lot of environements that I can and do thrive in. Some exposure to them would have been nice, rather than being pushed into the one-size-fits-all model of going to college and getting a “good” (read, white collar) job that kids – and especially smart kids, and I think especially smart girls – get pushed into.

        I’m assuming she knows she has to pay the bills somehow. Have a frank talk with her about what she actually wants to do. What’s her plan? If she likes the idea of food service, is she okay with the fact that she won’t likely ever have a weekend off and will be working long hours, and if she’s a waitress that her pay may fluctuate wildly based on how busy her shifts are? Does she just want to work in a restaurant for a couple years while she figures out what she wants to do as a career, or does she intend to make it a career and/or dream of oneday opening her own?

    3. fposte*

      I think if she’s not listening to anyone, it’s probably a moot point. Being eighteen and making bad plans isn’t necessarily something you can be advised out of.

      I mean, yeah, I think she should get a job and do so ASAP; otherwise, presuming she’s living with her parents and not paying rent, it’s going to be the longest summer vacation ever. But if her parents are willing to subsidize a longer job hunt, it’s going to be up to her to decide if she wants something other than summer vacation. Unless there’s something about her skills or your area you haven’t mentioned, I think she’s going to have a tough time aiming very high with only an HS diploma, but that’s more about what I’d say to her parents rather than her.

    4. Sunflower*

      Well I don’t know who she is so I’m not sure how much your opinion matters. I think you have the right approach. I wish going to college directly out of HS wasn’t the norm. It’s tough because they say the longer you go out of school, the harder it is to go back. However, college is expensive so forcing her to go is not a great idea. Maybe she can get a retail or food service job and take a class at community college to meet in the middle a bit.

      1. Anx*


        I think that if you wait a while but still go before you have a family, you’re golden. Also, at a certain point you’re an independent adult, so you’re family wouldn’t be expected to pay for college.

    5. Adam*

      Is it possible she might be depressed? When I had no direction that was the primary issue at hand. I still went to college and graduated, but at the time I tended to be pretty automatic on things I’m “expected” to do and college was definitely on that list. Maybe some counseling to help guide her out of a funk is in order.

      Of course, she could also be the type that has no interest/is not built for school. In which case does she have other interests that could lead to long term careers with a little bit of training like retail manager, sales, web developer, hair stylist, or something?

      If she tended to float through her formative years with little responsibility it’s possible she simply hasn’t given much thought to her future. I imagine she’ll figure it out when she has absolutely no choice otherwise, but of course this means her family can’t always be bailing her out when she needs money or something. Desperation can lead to self-invention when she realizes she is now the one who has to take care of herself.

      1. Hlyssande*

        This is what I was going to chime in with. Not to armchair-diagnose, but this story very much resonates with me and my struggle with depression.

        Nervous Accountant, if you’re going to take her out to lunch as a get to know you session, really try to get to know her and leave your expectations out of it as much as you can. Don’t start pushing anything immediately because that will probably get you instantly put into the ‘boring adult, whatever’ category where she won’t listen to you. Ask her what she likes, as her favorite bands, hobbies, etc. Get to know her as a person first if you can.

      2. Nervous Accountant*

        I’m not sure if it’s depression…but I’m drawing on my own experiences. When I was that age, the reason I wasn’t motivated was due to low self esteem, low confidence etc….not thinking I had potential to do better….just a bundle of issues stemming from childhood etc. (Maybe that is part of depression? idk).

        It’s one thing if she has no direction and needs a nudge or push, it’s another if she’s just not motivated due to other issues.

        1. catsAreCool*

          That’s a tough thing to deal with. It would help to know what’s going on.

          A retail or food service job might be a good way for her to experience the working world. I worked in food service during college, and it was a serious incentive for me to do well in school.

          It might be just as well that she isn’t going to college yet – going to college when unmotivated is pretty expensive.

    6. april ludgate*

      Sounds like my younger sister, she’s still going to high school but she’s not doing well. Honestly, I don’t think it’s possible to force someone into being motivated, that’s something they have to find for themselves. I also don’t think that retail and food jobs necessarily make everyone “miserable.” Sure, plenty of people hate them, but there are other people that flourish in those environments and that doesn’t make them any less respectable than a person who went to college or has a typical “office” job, and she might be one of those people. Those jobs are often filled by young adults who “don’t have any direction” and there’s a sort of solidarity in that at times. If she wants to work in retail or food service, her family should stop discouraging her. And she must have some motivation if she wants to have a job at all. Not everyone is cut out for college and that is okay, but she’s an adult and she deserves to choose her own path in life without having the people closest to her telling her that her choices aren’t good enough.

    7. Elkay*

      If she wants to work in retail or food service those are both viable career options. I know someone who started at McDonalds as a weekend job and ended up as regional manager for his area of the country. Equally, there are vocational courses for both those areas. Quite honestly at 18 she can afford a year working in retail/food service, it might help her focus on what she would like to do.

    8. Payroll Lady*

      I would suggest her looking for a full time position. My daughter was like this at 18 and worked food service for a while. In her case, she got lucky, one of her customers saw potential in her and had her go test to be a para-professional (teacher’s aide). She actually passed the test, was sent to a school district that is pretty “rough” for our state and has ended up helping Special Needs Children. She loves her job, and is now looking (at 21) to start college for the summer session. Sometimes things can fall in your lap, sometimes you have to work to go further, but that is a decision only she can make in the long run and forcing her to go to school, will only cause her to fail out if she doesn’t want to be there.

    9. Artemesia*

      Our rule for our kids was: be in college or have a job and support yourself. If they wanted to live at home, they had to be paying rent if not in college. One of our kids dropped out after the freshman year of college and we insisted he support himself which he did and in the process found out how much he didn’t want to live a life where he had to live on what he could make at the kinds of jobs he could do without an education.

      But that is for her parents to figure out. As a friend, I’d encourage them to require her to work but not hassle her about the kind of work she does as long as she either pays rent or lives on her own — let her know that if she wants to return to school later, they will assist. Ours returned to college after 2 years and graduated Summa cum Laude and had a ride to grad school. The idea that such jobs are beneath her is weird — they are what she can do and she should be required to do a job she can get.

      For you as a friend with her, a more relaxed discussion of how she sees her life going might be helpful. Kids this age who are doing this are hyper sensitive to being pushed and manipulated. I’d probably encourage her to put off college until she knows what she wants i.e. reinforce her current instincts and encourage her to get any job she can get now while she is sorting herself out. She is an adult, it is her life, pressure won’t get anyone anywhere.

      1. catsAreCool*

        “require her to work but not hassle her about the kind of work she does as long as she either pays rent or lives on her own ” This!

    10. Lily in NYC*

      I think this is a perfect example of the saying: the world needs ditch diggers, too. Not everyone is cut out for college and not everyone is ambitious. Maybe she would excel in retail and move up to management. Maybe she would be happier going to a trade school; my cousin rakes in money as an electrician and I know a few hairdressers who make great money. I like what Ontario wrote above – maybe she just doesn’t realize how many non-college options there are out there. I think taking her out to lunch and helping her explore her interests would be really helpful. Heck, I was a great student who went to a good university and still could have used a conversation like that.

      1. Adam*

        +1 There really should be more conversations about how college is “a” path to a future and not “THE” path. For kids who don’t know what they want every option available should be on the table so they can make an informed decision. And for the electricians and hairdressers of the world if they know that’s their destiny then they should be able to dive in when they’re ready and excited about it. No need to waste time, energy, and money on college if it’s not ultimately part of their game plan.

      2. Sunflower*

        I would love to be a hair dresser but it’s just so not my niche. If I was talented at it though, I would do it in a heartbeat!

        1. Lily in NYC*

          I know, me too! But only if all of my clients would be willing to have hair like one of the three stooges, because I think that’s all I’d be able to do.

        2. Lindsay J*

          I know! I think being a hair dresser would be cool, but I’m so anxious I don’t think I could enjoy it – I would always be worried that the client was going to completely hate their hair when I finished with it.

      3. Pennalynn Lott*

        My boyfriend is a window cleaner. Not a sky-scraper window cleaner, but a residential 1- and 2-story homes window cleaner. He made $120,000 last year. That’s a lot of money here in Texas.

      4. Stephanie*

        Yeah, I was talking to one of the drivers at Brown Shipping Company last night about people stealing things. He’s like “Man, I don’t get why the guys do that. I bring home $1500 every week and others bring home more. There’s no need to steal a phone out a box.”

        I’m just thinking “Yup. That’s more than I made out of college and more than many people I know with degrees.”

        1. Lindsay J*

          Yeah, that’s my “If I could start life over at 18” career option. Apparently driver’s with a lot of years in can pull in over $100K.

          1. Windchime*

            Yeah, my brother-in-law raised his family on being a driver who wears the brown uniform. They weren’t rich, but they had/have a very nice life that now includes long tropical vacations once a year or so. No college whatsoever.

          2. Stephanie*

            I think the six figure guys are outliers. They’re probably senior guys getting OT. But they do make good money, especially when you factor in that they didn’t need college for the job. People wait years for those driver slots to open up.

            Not to romanticize it too much. I think it does take a physical toll eventually and a career-ending or -hampering injury is a very realistic possibility. But it is an example of a well-paying job that doesn’t require college.

    11. Xarcady*

      If I were this 18 year old’s parent, I’d first want a through physical check-up and depression screening, just to make sure that there isn’t some underlying cause for the lack of motivation. When I was 20, I became very anemic and while I didn’t drop out of college, I didn’t want to go to class, plan for my future, or anything. Only when I had to go to the student health center for something else was the anemia discovered and then treated and I became myself again.

      Eighteen is the right age to learn by making mistakes. Let her take the fast food and/or retail jobs. Her parents should, if she continues to live at home, charge rent, either in money or chores done around the house. She’s eighteen and she wants to be independent–let her take over all car-related costs–gas, insurance, monthly payments. And her phone bill. There is a fair chance that after some months of spending most of her pay on rent, gas and her phone, she might wise up.

      It is also possible that college is simply not for this person. While I believe strongly in education, college is not the right fit for everyone. And frankly, when the toilet is overflowing, I want a trained, experienced plumber, not a PhD. So some gentle discussions about what she would like to do eventually–be a hairdresser, an electrician, build houses, be a professional dog trainer–there’s probably something that she’d like to do, but she has no idea how to get to the place where she can do [whatever], because her whole family’s focus is on college.

      One of my cousins attempted college for a semester, and hated it. And both sides of my family are very, very college-oriented. There were fights with his parents, and our grandparents. He really wanted to ski. So he moved out of the family house, found a job teaching lessons at a ski resort in the winter, and building houses in the summer. Along the way, he worked a variety of low-paying retail and fast-food type jobs.

      He went on to be in several skiing films, and to run his own skiing classes. He started his own construction company that builds houses in the summer and shuts down for the winter so everyone can ski.

      He’s in his 40s, his parents became reconciled to his lifestyle years ago, and he’s happy. He’s built a house in the mountains, has a lovely wife, two kids, and is better off financially than several of his siblings.

      Just to show that college isn’t for everyone, and that a successful career can be built without it.

    12. LQ*

      Not everyone wants a college degree, some people want to work retail, some people want to work in food service. If everyone tells her what she wants is wrong or not what she wants she’ll just push harder to do it. Let her get a job in food service or retail, she might love it. She might hate it. But she’ll learn from it. She might get miserable and get motivated to go to school, she might decide it’s fine because she’s done at 6 pm and she’s watched parents and siblings have jobs that require them to work until 10 pm.

      Let her try things, mostly, let her own her life for a little while, because that’s what she wants. (And yes that means letting her live on her own, make her own friends, choices, etc.)

    13. BRR*

      I’m not sure how you know her but it sounds like you might be too unrelated to offer unsolicited help.

      You could try (and don’t push it), “I know it can be overwhelming trying to figure out what you want to do. If you ever want someone to discussion options with let me know.” I think the goal is to frame it as brainstorming, not telling her what to do. So instead of saying, “You should get a job, your parents won’t help you forever (I’m assuming she’s receiving financial help or at least a roof over her head)” you say, “What would you do if they weren’t around to help you?”

    14. College Career Counselor*

      Don’t know where you are or what this person’s affiliations might be, but there a gap year possibilities that involve service (americorps programs, avodah, quaker service), teaching (city year), learning a skill, organic farming (WWOOF), americorps, environmental engagement (student conservation association, orion grassroots network), to name a few.

      It may also be that a year (or so) of retail/food service is exactly what she wants to do (forcing her to go to school is a Bad Idea, however) and may spur some interest. The more I do this job, the more I see the value of NOT going to college right away (maturity, independence, gaining clarity about what you really care about, etc.). So, not going to college is not the worst thing, esp. if she’s not engaged with it.

      1. Daydreamer*


        If I knew at 18 what I know now, I would have taken some time before going to university. I wasn’t ready – I wasn’t mature enough, and in many ways it felt like a big waste of time and money. There are things she could do – work the retail or food jobs, travel, maybe do some international volunteering.

      2. Snoskred*

        Absolutely – having a gap year is a thing that is common here in Australia and I think it is super important. Most gap year kids I have known tend to travel around Australia or travel to UK/Europe and work in bars. I do know someone older – mid-30s – who quit their well paying job and went off and is doing that now because they missed out on doing it in their gap year.

        If I could go back in time, I would make my gap year Hawaii. There’s heaps of food service jobs on Oahu and it is such a gorgeous place to be. :)

    15. Malissa*

      A few months(years) in retail or food service is usually enough to get priorities like school and having a career back to center stage. Or maybe she’ll find a career in retail.

    16. Carrie in Scotland*

      The other thing is, is that life is fluid. If she doesn’t go onto high ed. now/soon, then it doesn’t mean NEVER.
      I’ve gone to university 3 times – once when I was 18 (dropped out), then I was 19-21 (dropped out in 2nd year) and when I was 24 I started again (all 3 were totally different subjects!).

    17. some1*

      “with only a HS diploma and NO college education, retail or food service is ALL she can get right now”

      Actually, some entry-level office jobs only require a high school diploma or GED. I used to work at financial services company with many people who started working there right after graduating high school and they never went to college. And the positions weren’t in a call center or customer service-related.

      1. Felicia*

        Was this recently? Because at least around here, in the past 5 years or so, there is no such thing as an entry level office job that doesn’t require a degree of some sort. Most of them require experience too, which is ridiculous. But I have looked at hundreds of entry jobs about 3 years ago trying to find one, and there was literally no such thing as an office job that didn’t require a degree.

        1. Natalie*

          I’ve actually been really surprised at how many office jobs I’ve seen during my recent search that don’t require a college degree. It seems like maybe the tide is turning back on that one? I hope so.

    18. Traveler*

      The short answer is, you don’t.

      We put a lot of pressure on 18 year olds to figure their stuff out because they are adults, and they are, but because they are adults they have to make their own mistakes. She will go back if and when she is ready. Let her shoot higher if she wants. If she can’t get it, she’ll fail and learn she has to scale it back. Better she drops out and makes mistakes now than half-arse her way through a degree and come out with a useless degree and bad grades. I knew a lot of kids that did this because not going to college was never an option, and they are worse off for it. They’re stuck trying to figure out what they actually want to do with their lives in their late 20s when a lot of things are set and they don’t have the money or time for another degree.

    19. tango*

      My daughter was a decent student in high school but never much motivated to put in extra effort for better grades. She did a few years of college and absolutely hated every moment of it that wasn’t social/fun/party related. I had to help her with her papers, constantly bug her about studying etc. Well she got a part time job at a major Foodservice chain that’s in between fast food and sit down dining and ended up dropping out of college. You know what? She loves it. She has days she doesn’t (just like any job) but 2 plus years later she’s been promoted numerous times, is an assistant manager on salary AND bonuses (her last bonus beat mine by a long mile) and enjoys the work. She’s 23 years old and makes pretty decent money if I do say so myself. She’s not a person who wants to sit at a desk, pushing paper or staring at a computer screen all day. She does everything from prepare food, serve customers, handle complaints, clean off tables, order food and supplies and likewise receive items from their suppliers (with associated invoice processing), rotate stock, interview and hire people, do shift paperwork, compute daily/weekly/monthly food, disposables and labor cost reports, bank till audit reports, etc. All the things she does are what my superstar high performing junior in college nephew (who is the opposite end of my daughter in regards to college/studying) calls “MARKETABLE SKILLS”. What irks me to no end is there are probably hiring managers out there who might strike her off an interview list for not having a college degree thinking it shows less dedication and brains than a college graduate with NO work experience.

      1. Xarcady*

        A friend of mine went to hairdressing school after high school, and went to work at her parents’ beauty salon.

        She now owns the business, hires/fires staff, does all the accounting, networks around the city and has made the business more profitable. She helps out women who have their own small businesses by showcasing their work (jewelery, quilts, handbags) in her shop–and gets a percentage of the sales.

        You really don’t need a *college* education to do well. You do need education in the specific areas where you want to work, usually.

    20. Shortie*

      Personally, I did not go to college right after high school and am glad I didn’t. I don’t think I would have appreciated or understood what I was learning at the time. I instead took an entry-level customer service job (not retail) and did a really great job and started working my way up. Honestly, it wasn’t that hard to do a great job. Pretty much “:show up early, work as hard and as well as you can while there, and don’t call out unless necessary” will get you far when you’re young. When I reached a point where I could go no further without college, I continued to work full time and went to school at night. Got the degree and continued to get promotions. Now doing very well.

    21. Anna*

      This is a little self-serving, but you might give her some literature about Job Corps and point her to the FB page. We sort of specialize in young people who aren’t sure what they want to do. I mean, we have a lot of driven students, too, but it can be a great program to learn about yourself, gradually take on responsibilities, and figure out how to function on your own. /endcommercial

    22. Carrie*

      This is a situation which in my opinion depends a great deal on the individual. I would agree with other commenters that not going to college at age 18 isn’t necessarily a tragedy, especially if the person doesn’t want to go, has no idea what they want to study, or wants to do something for which a college degree is not required. I also think that it’s a great thing that there are people who actually want to do retail-type jobs–I’ve tried them, and they are so definitely not for me, I have to admire anyone willing to stick it for more than a few months. On your last point, a personal anecdote:

      I went to college right after high school and had a fairly severe existential crisis my second year, which ended in my taking a year off between my 2nd and 3rd years. I moved to a big city and started looking for jobs. The only job I could get was in retail. For me, this worked exactly as you suggest. After working in a chocolate shop over the holidays and then (oh golly!) over Valentine’s Day, I was motivated to return to school as soon as possible and get a degree, any degree, that would get me out of retail.

      Sometimes the people who appear to have direction at age 18 simply postpone their directional crises until later… 18 is in the scheme of things pretty young. There’s nothing wrong imo with letting the young woman experiment with different jobs to find out how much she does or doesn’t like them.

    23. Lady Bug*

      You can’t. She has to figure it out on her own. You can provide guidance and share your own experience, but honestly the lessons that stick are the ones you learn on your own. I have an 18 year old unmotivated daughter, who I love and support emotionally, but not financially. When she wakes up and decides what is right for her I’ll be there to help, but I can’t make those decisions for her.

    24. Anna*

      If you know her well enough to suggest it, I would highly recommend you talk to her about Job Corps. It is an excellent program for young adults who aren’t finding college that compelling, who might want something more hands on, and who need a little space to wrap their heads around being an official adult. It tends to be a great place to learn how to be responsible, and it’s free.

      1. Anna*

        Okay, I posted this because it didn’t look like my original post went through. Sorry about the doubling up!

    25. PinkiePieChart*

      I think the focus on a traditional college as the be-all and end-all of graduation is unhealthy for us as a society. Trade schools are a valid option (and plumbers make really good money!), as is just working.

      Pushing her to go to college will end up with her family out of money and a cranky teenager. It’s really unlikely to make her *want* to go, which is the only way she’s going to do well.

      If she’s not going to school (college, trade school, whatever) full time, she needs a job, any job, as many hours as she can get. Hotels, restaurants, Walmart – if she doesn’t like it, she can change her mind about school, but the job really needs to be required. Also, paying rent/cell phone bills can be a big kick in the pants.

      One other thing to think about is the possibility of depression or anxiety issues. Lack of motivation can mask deeper problems. BUT, you also don’t want to ask that because mental health issues have such a stigma in our society.

      Good luck!

    26. Soupspoon McGee*

      Don’t force her to go to college. Waiting is good for some students. I used to teach college, and the students who struggled the most were the ones being forced to take classes without having internal motivation. They hated the experience, didn’t do well, and their failure become evidence (to them) that they couldn’t do college. On the flip side, I had students starting or returning to college later in life, and they were so motivated and engaged that they learned–and taught others–wonderful things.

      As for what to do now, she has a great opportunity to explore career options. Retail and fast food are options, but so are gazillions of other things. Encourage her to think about what she likes (being outdoors, working with her hands, working with children or the elderly). Lots of industries hire entry-level people (manufacturing and food processing are huge in my area). She can learn quickly whether she likes an industry or a type of work. And, as others have pointed out, she will probably learn how hard entry-level work is.

    27. Observer*

      I have not read all of the responses, but some thoughts.

      Anyone who thinks that forcing someone to do to school is a viable solution has no credibility and should not be allowed to make decisions for anyone. It doesn’t work, it cannot work – and there is no really good reason to try to make it work. You can be a moral, ethical and productive member of society without going to college.

      The people who suggested a full check up and depression screening are on the money. You may want to broaden things a bit, because odds are there is something else going on. But, in any case, you do want to make sure that her lack of motivation is not due to an underlying problem that can and should be dealt with.

      The people who talk about insisting that a child either be in school or working and paying rent have a good point. While I don’t think that everyone needs to go to college, people do need to be doing something productive. Not school? Then gainful employment.

      But really, people need to let her make her own decisions and mistakes. Yo learn how to make decisions by MAKING DECISIONS even bad decisions. You can point out pro’s and con’s. You can advise on ways to go higher while still staying in a field the she’s interested. But, ultimately she needs to make her own decisions.

      Lots of luck with this one.

    28. TootsNYC*

      Maybe ask her: Who would she like to help?

      Then get her thinking about how she can help them.

      1. TootsNYC*

        came back to say: I read a book recently (“Still Room for Hope”); the woman telling her story was going to college but not really feeling it. She decided to become a volunteer with a victim advocacy group, and that moved her to change her major and start taking classes in criminal justice, sociology, psychology, etc.
        Because those classes were taking her toward a skill she could use to turn her volunteer work into full-time, she found them fascinating.

        So, it can be a way to start small. Also, going to the local children’s hospital to read books to sick little kids will give her something to get out of the house for. It’s not income right away, but hopefully her family is willing to let her use her “college years” to figure out how to become a grownup, even if it’s not technically in college.

    29. Not So NewReader*

      I don’t favor telling her one thing and hoping she will discover something else. Although I don’t have kids, I can remember being 18 a little too vividly. What would have helped me is if someone had said. “Don’t take it all so seriously. No experience is ever wasted, go out and have some experiences. Try waitressing/kitchen work/retail/nursing home work/etc. Find out who you are and where your natural abilities are. Build a 1, 2 or 3 year plan. At whatever point your plan ends decide to reassess and see if you want to change course.

      I think a good rule of thumb is if you would not say it to an established adult then it probably is not something to say to someone starting out. I heard it all from “get a job” to “you better figure something out here or else”. None of this stuff was motivational and, worse yet, none of it was informative. Frankly, I lost a little respect for established adults who spoke that way. They seem to have no clue that their comments did not provide guidance or support. It created a distance between us that we never quite were able to totally repair.

      I do agree with saying that people who are not in school should be working and helping out with household expenses. But I think that is one part of the conversation and it can lead into a discussion of how to set and handle goals, plan out your future and so on.

  4. lionelrichiesclayhead*

    I am going to be turning in my resignation letter soon. While I recognize that it’s never an ideal situation to resign without having something else lined up, I’ve decided that the mental and emotional damage I’m experiencing has finally become too much. I recognize that I’m likely not going to find a new job within a short period so I’ve been thinking about what kind of a schedule I should set up for myself during the period that I am unemployed. I don’t want to end up sitting around in my PJ’s all day so I think it’s important to have a game plan during this time. Obviously my biggest focus will be on finding a job, creating cover letters, meeting with recruiters, and practicing interview questions. I’m also planning to devote some time to building my self esteem, confidence, and health back up as well since they have all suffered in the past few years. Volunteering and temp work are other things that have come to mind.

    Does anyone have any suggestions for other tasks I might want to work on or just general thoughts on creating a schedule while I’m unemployed? I’d love to hear what others have done and what types of things you felt helped or what you felt like was a waste of time.

      1. lionelrichiesclayhead*

        Thanks Stephanie. This is definitely a big one for me as I have gained a lot of weight while working at this job and I feel like it’s very important to address my health physically and mentally during this time.

        1. Natalie*

          Now that’s spring, get some of that exercise outside. Doesn’t need to be complex, a 30-60 minute walk will get you a good dose of sunshine and fresh air and get you out of the house.

    1. This is Me Not Being Me*

      Gym or workout routine. Are there skills you would like to learn/study that would help with your job search?

      Are there tasks that need doing around the house, that you could add to your schedule? I can think of a half-dozen things in our household that have not been important enough to deal with, but that would improve our quality of life if one of us had time to address them – scheduling some time for that sort of thing might be helpful.

      If there’s volunteer work (local or online) that would be potentially interesting/relevant, you might also want to go for that, though that becomes awkward if you need to drop it when you find a job and that happens quickly. (The good sort of problem to have, of course.)

    2. hermit crab*

      What about setting aside some time to catch up on some reading relevant to your field? Depending on what area you’re in, that could be trade news, research publications, regulatory updates, etc.

    3. Sunflower*

      Dedicate time to networking events or vow to go to x amount of events a week. Don’t dedicate all your time to job searching. Work out, eat right and make sure to factor in down time. When I was unemployed, I felt guilty if I ever sat around and did noting for a couple hours but it’s necessary to keep yourself sane.

      1. Serin*

        A recruiter on LinkedIn once said that when faced with a candidate with a period of unemployment, he’s looking for self-initiated efforts to improve their skills — “I took a Spanish class, volunteered at the park district to get more experience working with youth, and gave a presentation to my networking group to build my public-speaking skills” type of thing.

        1. lionelrichiesclayhead*

          This is a great point and one I will definitely put into practice.

    4. Retail Lifer*

      I was bored out of my mind when I was unemployed a few years ago so I volunteered at a no-kill animal shelter. I had always wanted to but could never find the time. It made me feel better about myself because I was helping, and it also gave me something to stick on my resume in between jobs. If animals aren’t your thing, I’m sure there’s a volunteer opportunity out there that aligns with your interests.

      1. lionelrichiesclayhead*

        I’m definitely planning on getting some volunteer hours in. I already volunteer doing river cleanup etc at my local National Recreation Area and I’m planning to get more involved while I’m out of work. The good news is that they have a big need for volunteer help inside their offices so it will be a great way to keep my work skills fresh. Thank you!

        1. land of oaks*

          good plan! The other good thing about volunteering with organizations that have a large volunteer base is that you meet other people who also care about the same issue, and that can actually lead to job related networking.

    5. BRR*

      Set your alarm during the weekdays. Get dressed, shower, be put together. Even if you’re just sitting around, do it in jeans, not PJs. Don’t forget to take time to heal.

      1. chewbecca*

        I totally agree with this. When I was unemployed, I made a rule for myself that I wasn’t allowed to eat lunch without having first showered and getting dressed. It didn’t matter if I then spent the rest of the day sitting on the couch watching awful Hallmark movies (this was around Christmas, so there were plenty to choose from) and job searching online. Having jeans on helped me keep in a more active frame of mind.

        For what it’s worth, I also had this rule when I worked from home. I tried working in yoga pants one day and just felt off the entire time.

    6. Future Analyst*

      Reading. Even if it’s not directly related to your field, read the news, read books, read anything and everything. Keep in mind that when you eventually land interviews, you may be asked about what you did in the meantime, and while I completely agree with others that working out is crucial to remaining engaged in the world, I don’t think that’s quite what the interviewer is asking about. Have a book or article or news event in mind to discuss, if for no other reason than to show you’re both interesting and interested in the world.

      1. lionelrichiesclayhead*

        A really great point. I will make sure to read and remain engaged in the world around me, near and far.

        1. Mints*

          Yes, book clubs and Meetups in general for free activities that get you out of the house and talking to humans. Especially humans that meet you with a blank slate and not know you as “Lionel Richie who hates her job”
          (Besides all of the good professional advice here)

    7. Partly Cloudy*

      I agree with workout routine. I wish I’d done that when I had 6 weeks between my last job and current job.

      To be more specific, you could set a schedule kind of like this:
      9am – 12pm: job hunt online
      1pm – 3pm: set meetings with recruiters
      3pm – 5pm: work on cover letters, interview prep, etc.

      Perhaps having blocks of time dedicated to specific aspects of job-hunting will help you both feel more productive and actually get more accomplished than just kind of winging it.

      I also highly recommend spending ONE day (the first one after your last day at your current job, probably) in your PJs, eating junk food and Netflix bingeing. It will help you unwind from the job you’ve just left and help clear your mind. Plus, it won’t be as much of a temptation if you just get it out of the way.

      Also, think about making dentist and doctor appointments, scheduling oil changes, etc. for your downtime so you don’t have to worry about taking time off from a new job for that kind of stuff.

      Good luck!

      1. Demanding Excellence*

        Several years ago, I found myself unemployed for about six months. I was in a similar situation to the OP (mentally drained, emotionally bruised, etc.), so it was a bit of a relief to be out of there. I was living with my parents at the time, so I didn’t have to worry about living expenses/rent either, which was a huge blessing.

        I’m a bit of a planner, so I found that having blocks of time carved out for particular things really helped me. I’ve always been active, but it became more of a priority during this time. I went to the gym M-F for a solid hour/hour and a half.

        I ended up getting a great job in an industry that I was excited to break into and moved to a city I really liked. I firmly believed that by being diligent in my job search and other aspects of my life helped me get that particular job.

        Having a plan of attack/action is the best advice I can give. Good luck and happy healing.

      2. CC*

        I would personally not schedule 9-5 for job hunting. I mean, unless you’re applying for fresh-out-of-high-school minimum wage jobs (and even if you are) there probably aren’t enough relevant job posts to fill all that time. I find it a huge downer and motivation killer to say I will spend hours every day job hunting, then burn through all the job posts I find and all the industry-specific business directories and having nothing new come up after that. Now what do I do with that time? (The more specialized you are, the smaller the pool of companies and the faster you hit this point.)

        If you are finding new relevant job posts on the boards every day, then schedule a few hours every day, and also schedule a few hours for going outside and doing something fun, and a few hours for some sort-of work, like volunteering or taking EdX or Coursera classes, or other things like that.

        1. Partly Cloudy*

          Oh, I agree! I wasn’t suggesting that OP spend 40 hours per week just job hunting. The point of my post above was blocking off time for specific tasks in order to prevent getting overwhelmed by the big picture.

    8. Seal*

      Good for you! I did the same thing for a the same reasons in 2001 and it was far and away the best thing I’ve ever done for myself. I had been planning to leave for months and finally turned in my letter of resignation the day I was passed over for a promotion I had been promised. Nothing like making a statement!

      Since I quit at the beginning of summer, I planned to take a few months off before job hunting to decompress and get my head back together after years of working in an abusive environment. I spent my time biking, writing, taking improv and coding classes, and deep cleaning and painting my apartment. I set a schedule for myself and made a point of getting up fairly early and doing something every day rather than laying around in my pajamas. After a few months I took a terrible temp job, which kick-started my job search. Six and a half months after I left my old job, I got a new job with the same organization I left, but in a different department with a much better salary and far more responsibility. From there my career took off.

      Based on my experience, I’d suggest that if possible take some for yourself before you start your job search. It will put you in a better frame of mind once your job search gets going. Good luck!

      1. lionelrichiesclayhead*

        Thank you so much for this supportive comment! While I can’t take too much time off before I dive deep into job hunting, I am planning on spending some serious time doing exactly what you outlined above before and during the job search. I’m so glad to hear that doing something similar worked out for you. It’s scary to quit without something else lined up, and of course goes against all normal advice, but I’m going to make the best of it and focus on self improvement while I’m looking for a better job.

    9. MaryMary*

      I’d suggest looking for volunteer opportunities right away. I was in a similar position as you a couple years ago. I took a month or so to get myself back on an even keel before I started looking for either volunteer work or another job (and I was lucky enough to be able to afford to do that financially). I naively and arrogantly assumed I could find a volunteer without much effort. I thought I could contact a couple organizations and say “I want to help you!” and they’re say, “Great! Can you come in tomorrow?” That is not what happened. Looking for volunteer work was almost like a mini job hunt, and even once I found some organizations who had openings and were interested in having me volunteer, I had to wait until the next scheduled event, or the next volunteer orientation session, or until they started the program again next quarter… It took a couple of months for me to get actively involved volunteering, and in the meantime I had a little too much me-at-home-job-hunting-time.

    10. Shortie*

      Lionel, since I’m considering doing the same, I’m curious how you will frame it when you resign. I’ve been struggling with that because I’ve been with my employer so long that being vague isn’t going to fly, but I also can’t say it’s for a break (although that’s true) because I’ve only been in my most current position with my employer for a couple of years. I fear that would lessen their opinion of me or hurt my reference.

      Okay, now to actually answer your question…I think the suggestions everyone else gave are good ones to exercise, volunteer, do projects around the house, etc. For me, I also plan to decompress for a full 3-4 weeks before I start the job search. That doesn’t mean sitting around, but it doesn’t mean focusing on the home projects and activities that are personally enjoyable before starting on the job search. This may be unwise, so it’s not really advice. Just something I plan to do.

      1. Partly Cloudy*

        I think it IS wise to spend some time decompressing, and it’s fortunate to have the opportunity (time and finances) to be able to do it. Especially if you’re leaving a toxic environment, it takes time to mentally and emotionally recover.

        Last year, I left a job I’d had for many years due to burnout, negative environment, etc. and being vague did actually work for me. “It’s just time for me to move on.” Repeat as necessary. But I can see how that wouldn’t work for everyone, and I’m a little surprised that it worked for me.

      2. lionelrichiesclayhead*

        I’ll tell you that I’m really not sure how I’m going to frame this to the general public at work. My boss is aware that my recent promotion to a manager position is not working out and he’s also nice enough to realize that he and the head of my company set me up to fail with the details surrounding this promotion. I’m considering changing industries so if anyone at work digs for details I’ll probably explain that I’m taking some time off to figure out what I’d like to focus on next. While you might not be changing industries, I still think you can frame it as a break to figure out what you are doing next. As far as references go, as long as you have been a good worker and remain professional through your resignation, I think you will be fine. It’s going to be more about how you handle your time there than why you are leaving.

        I really wish you a lot of luck and I would love to hear how things work out for you.

        1. Shortie*

          Good points. Thank you, Lionel. I wish you a lot of luck too and hope to hear how things work out for you as well.

      3. TootsNYC*

        You wrote: “I also can’t say it’s for a break (although that’s true) because I’ve only been in my most current position with my employer for a couple of years. I fear that would lessen their opinion of me or hurt my reference.”

        I’m not really sure why you think that. People take breaks for all sorts of reasons–they’ve been in their -industry- for a while (not -just- the company) and want time to train for a new field; they’ve had a rough stretch at work; their *personal* lives are stressful and leave them needing a bit of freedom from the grind.

        As for hurting your reference–I guess I think most companies don’t bother much with references; they tend to stick to “Yes she worked here, and yes she is eligible for rehire.” Anything else is just too much work, and criticism of you leaves them liable.

        Individuals may give more detail on their own, but most people don’t bother to get vindictive (again, laziness).

        So “time for a change,” or “I want to focus on a few things in my personal life” followed y an absolutely refusal to provide details (just repeat the same exact phrase, word for word; they’ll give up).

    11. Jake*

      Personally, I’d take at least one week, if not two, of “pajama time” simply because once you start looking, it will quickly turn into a full time job, either literally or figuratively.

      This may be the last chance to truly relax for a while.

      Of course that only applies if finances allow.

    12. Dang*

      Find something you like doing and won’t miss. Weekly, biweekly, whatever. I’m into yoga- and I tried all the classes at my gym, found the ones I really liked, and made sure to go to those. Just having to be somewhere helped me a lot in the year I was unemployed.

    13. Steve G*

      Why are you quitting with nothing lines up? I was laid off in Dec, then started horrible job I voluntarily quit…so now have no unemployment. I’ve spent about $10K in the 3 months I’ve been unemployed. I am sure I could have made budget cuts, but my food budget is low, its the standard car/insurance/gas/electric/internet/rent/mortgage stuff that is killing me. + I felt I had to buy some items along the way (new furniture, new trees for garden, revamping my aquarium) because I’d never have time to spends days doing the garden, etc. while unemployed.

      I live in NYC and was a Sr. Ops Analyst and my resume is all accomplishments – successfully fought regulatory penalties, upsold big accounts into other programs, managed a record # of equipment install projects in 2011, built all of our excel templates and cash processes for a startup branch, represented our company at regulatory meetings, helping change some rules, grew revenue a few hundred thousand dollars per year………………and I still find it hard to get interviews. I’m seeing on Linkedin Premium that only 10-20 people are applying to many positions that I also applied to for which I meet every requirement, and I’m oftentimes still not hearing anything back. We strengthened my cover letter + double checked for spelling errors and found none.

      I hope you have a very specific plan + some prospects lines up before you leave, and have much more cash than you think you need. It can be hell, very frustrating, when you devote days to a job, then don’t get it, and have nothing lined up………….

      1. Shortie*

        Not sure if this question is for me or Lionel. Lionel mentioned mental and emotional damage as well as physical health as reasons. For me, it’s similar…mental and physical health. I have never had a break between jobs and really need that before I end up ruining my health. The 3-6 months that I think I need is more than I would probably be able to negotiate as a start date for a new job, and honestly, I just do not have the energy or desire to search for a job right now while I’m working a very stressful one.

        That said, your points about having a plan and cash are well taken. I can swing it financially, even if it lasts longer than I hope. Still working on the rest of the plan, so haven’t pressed the button quite yet…

    14. PinkiePieChart*

      Volunteer somewhere, preferably something that would further your career, but really anything will do. Public libraries almost always want help. If you like to garden and there’s a farm or arboretum nearby, you could ask them.

      Online classes are good. There’s a lot of free stuff out there.

    15. mutt*

      If you tend to get a little disorganized/messy when you’re relaxing, check out UnF*ck Your Habitat – there’s a blog and an app. If you don’t mind a little bad language, it’s a great way to stay motivated to keep your space clean.

    16. Andraste*

      If there is a hobby or skill you are wanting to develop, I would also suggest taking a little time to work on that as well. That way even if the job search isn’t going well, you’re doing something where you have measurable project and tangible feedback of something that you are getting better at. I quit my job as of yesterday to get out of a toxic environment and will be studying for the bar exam in the next few months. So I’ll have studying to fill my time, but I’m also going to try to incorporate more time to cook and do yoga into my schedule. Cooking and yoga are both things that relax me and that I can feel myself getting better at, and I think it will be good for both of us to have outlets like this while we are unemployed.

      Good luck to you! I hope this all works out well. :)

    17. Not So NewReader*

      Since job hunting can be draining make sure you have smaller things going on that you can have success at. You have mentioned exercise. A friend said that he went to the Y everyday to work out first thing. That way, not matter what went on during the day he had one successful thing for the day already under his belt.

      Also consider reading a book or two (do not wallow in this stuff, though) about toxic workplaces and toxic bosses. Take your time picking out the book. Chose something that resonates with you well above the other books you have looked at. Knowledge is power- learn something about how to deal with toxic behaviors or how to spot toxic people sooner.

  5. Seashell*

    I received a message on LinkedIn from an HR manager, telling me that she and someone else at their organization saw my profile and thought I’d be a good fit for their open position. I’m at an association and this is for another association in the same city. I’ve been in my current position for a year and a half and I’m not looking to leave but the job title sounds interesting and like something I’d be good at. Do I respond? If I agree to a phone call and don’t want to interview, am I wasting their time and burning a future contact? Not sure what to do because this is my first time being approached like this. Is it OK if I ignore it? Can’t help thinking that if I got this message in fall 2015 I’d be more eager to respond.

    1. NYCRedhead*

      I don’t see that there’s any harm in having a phone call. If it isn’t the right position or time, neither of you have invested much effort, so I can’t imagine a bridge would be burned. In any event, I wouldn’t ignore it. You could simply say you aren’t looking, but you thank them for reaching out.

    2. HigherEd Admin*

      I think it can’t hurt to respond and say you’re not actively seeking a new role, but you would be open to having a conversation and learning more about it. You never know where the conversation might lead you — and maybe their hiring timeline is such that you wouldn’t start til closer to fall 2015 anyway!

    3. This is Me Not Being Me*

      It would be a waste of your time and theirs if you absolutely didn’t want to leave no matter what, but if you’re curious and it just has to be stellar to pull you away, it might be worth it. Just be clear with them that you’re not strongly looking to move, but are curious, in that case.

      Or if you really don’t want it – either ignore it and hope that (like most such contacts) they expect to be ignored, or maybe just reply and say you’re not looking at this time and don’t want to waste their time, but that when you do next look, you’ll keep their organization in mind because it does sound interesting? Or something like that.

    4. Sunflower*

      You’re overthinking this a bit. I would respond and be upfront- say you’re not actively looking but you’re interested in learning more about the position and the company. If you decide it’s not for you, just say so. People inquire about jobs all the time and end up passing on them with no bridges burned

    5. BRR*

      You sound open to it. I would take a phone call to discuss it. If you don’t think it will be your cup of tea say, “I really appreciate you contacting me about this position. At this time I don’t think it’s the right fit for me but I will be looking in the future for opportunities at your organization. I wish you the best of luck in filling this position.”

    6. AntherHRPro*

      It never hurts to take a call. Even if it turns out you are not interested right now, it can be a great networking opportunity.

    7. Michele*

      It is just a phone call. It isn’t like they are flying you out, putting you up in a hotel, and having you meet with everyone in the department. Spend half an hour and figure out if they have anything interesting to offer.

    8. TootsNYC*

      Nope you will not be wasting their time and burning a future contact. No sane manager assumes that the candidate is automatically going to want the job or be obligated to take it. And if you don’t want this job, they’ll probably have other jobs in the future you might want, so it’s never a waste for them.
      Especially in a world in which the talent pool is circumscribed, good managers value getting to know the people they might hire three or four years down the road.

      Just be honest, but overly, actually. Don’t tell them you’re not interested until you’ve really explored it. Because, for one thing, you never know… (and, neither do they; they may not want -you- once they interview you; or they may not want you -now-; or someone else might beat you out)

      Then, if you do decide it’s not the job for you, simply say that: “I’m afraid this is not the job for me right now. But I want to thank you for reaching out–I’ve really appreciated the opportunity to get to know your association, and to introduce myself to you. Maybe one day in the future we’ll get a chance to work together.”
      If you want to share the reason (“I’m getting quite a bit of supervisory experience where I am” or “The commute is easier here, and right now that’s important” or “I enjoy the customer contact I have here” or even “I feel that in a couple of years I’d be more qualified for your job”), it might be useful. But it’s by no means required. “I want to stay where I am right now” is totally fine.

      (and this: You may end up saying to your boss, “I met Senior Manager at the other association once–maybe she’d be good for that higher level position that opened up way over my head. I was impressed with her.”)

  6. NYCRedhead*

    I am fairly new to LinkedIn, and I have gotten invitations to connect from people I don’t know who work in the same field. I will accept invites if I know the person, their reputation or their organization, but what about accepting invites from virtual strangers? I have heard arguments on both sides about it: on one hand, that it is an endorsement and on the other, you never know who you might need to know. What do you folks think?

    1. Alex*

      My rule of thumb is if I have no clue who they are, I don’t have anything to do with their organization or industry, and they didn’t send me a message of explanation, I don’t connect.

    2. HigherEd Admin*

      There two very distinct camps on this one, with very valid arguments on both sides. I consider myself an “open networker,” meaning I’ll connect with anyone on LinkedIn. The reason I do this is because it expands my own LinkedIn network so that someone who may not have been a 2nd degree connection that I may want to get in touch with, might now be a 2nd degree connection thanks to some random LinkedIn request. You never know who someone else knows.

      I also suspect that very few people are going to consider a LinkedIn connection any sort of endorsement on my end or theirs. Connecting with someone just means you’ve connected with someone — not that you can speak to the quality of their work.

    3. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I never accept an invitation from someone I’ve never met. I also don’t accept random invitations from people I barely know or from people I don’t like. I use LinkedIn as a networking tool, but in my opinion, networking requires a personal or professional connection beyond social media. For instance, I will connect with people I’ve met and spoken to (however briefly) at a conference, but I won’t connect with someone simply because they attended that conference.

    4. This is Me Not Being Me*

      As a viewer, I figure “who are they linked with” on LI is _not_ a metric of the person at all. It just means they’re networking. It’s who they reach out through and who speaks for them that may influence.

      In other words, I don’t think it’s an endorsement.

      Myself, I will add people I know casually or have barely worked with. I don’t usually add total strangers, even if they work at my company, because I don’t see what value they would add in my attempts to reach out. I can…get a foot in the door…through this person who can’t honestly say they’ve ever talked to me or seen my work. You know, I can also just apply/email for that purpose.

      But I do know others view it differently and may network more broadly. Different styles and approaches!

      (But do NOT add recruiters unless you want your current employment to wonder if you’re desperately trying to jump ship. Just saying.)

    5. Retail Lifer*

      I add almost everyone that requests me to. I’m not an active Linked In user (years later, I still don’t see the value in having a profile except for the fact that I’m SUPPOSED TO). It’s not like adding a stranger to Facebook who can now see me complaining about work or that now knows I’m going on vacation. I figure if my network expands enough that one day my profile will be of some use to me.

    6. College Career Counselor*

      I get a lot of requests to connect from students–if I haven’t had a conversation with them, I don’t do it. I do other contacts similarly: I must have met them, had a conversation/interaction (that I recall or am reminded of), and/or been referred by someone I know/trust.

    7. Dan*

      I’m a bit selfish in this regard, but if I’ve never met the person, and they have nothing to offer me, I don’t accept. That basically means I’ll accept invites from people in my industry, but not college kids.

    8. BRR*

      If I can figure out why I accept. So fellow alums from my program or people in the same field etc. After a certain amount of time (usually a couple weeks) if they don’t reach out I de-connect (what’s the term?).

    9. Daydreamer*

      If someone asks to connect and I don’t recognize their name, and they only send the generic “I’d like to connect with you” message, I’ll send them a response saying “I don’t recognize your name. Have we crossed paths professionally?”

      Sometimes I get a great response, and we end up having a good conversation about professional development. Even if we don’t have common connections, I’ll add them. If they just say they saw my title and where I work, and thought they’d ask to connect, I will ignore the invitation. And if they don’t reply at all, I ignore them.

    10. AntherHRPro*

      I accept connects with most people as it broadens your own network and you never know when a name and contact information may come in handy.

    11. LovingTheSouth*

      I think it depends on the type of job you have. I have a global business development role. My job is to get my firm’s services in front of people who don’t already know us, so I accept any invitation that comes my way because you never know how that connection might help in the long run. I also send invites to people I don’t know but who work at firms or hold roles that are important to my firm. I have more than 3000 contacts and I can honestly say that I have made sales and built new relationships through an unknown LinkedIn request. As mentioned above, it might put you closer to someone you didn’t know before. It might give you contact info you’ve been trying to get. It might alert you to a company you didn’t know existed. I also scour the job changes each day. If someone I know moves to a firm I’ve been trying to connect with, I now have a reason to congratulate him/her and ask to have lunch at their new office next time I’m in the aea. I keep close tabs on what our clients are doing as well and it’s often through LinkedIn that I learn that a main contact has left his/her firm and I need to jump on it to make sure we don’t lose that firm as a client. So in a sales/business development role it’s invaluable to build your network as large as you possibly can. If I had a finance, planning, logistics or other non-sales role, I don’t think it would be as useful.

  7. Nethwen*

    What are the professional conventions on giving unsolicited recommendations for people applying to jobs? That is, if one of my staff is interviewing at another company and I want to support him, what is the professional norm for telling the other company he’d be a great hire?

    1. fposte*

      Well, you’ll probably be asked for a recommendation if he makes it that far. Outside of that process, I would only reach out to somebody I already knew or had a connection with at the company (or if they’d openly sought wider feedback, which can happen with some roles).

      1. BRR*

        As usual I agree with you. If you know someone reach out. But don’t cold call a recommendation unless you’re someone like the president or Stephen Hawking. If you do it could hurt their chances. I would find it weird that some coworker was referring a candidate.

    2. HigherEd Admin*

      Do you know anyone at the company where he’s interviewing? We recently had someone apply for a job in our office (I wasn’t on the hiring team), and I got an email from someone who works with that person currently, and who I know vaguely, to provide a recommendation. I forwarded it onto the hiring manager, and thought it was a nice gesture.

    3. Satsuma*

      Surely you would approach the person that you want to recommend. Tell them that you would be happy to provide a reference and would have nothing but positive things to say. They can then put your name forward at the appropriate time.

      1. fposte*

        Though I will say there’s a place for communication outside of this sometimes, too. I’ve had former employees emailing me when somebody they know will be a candidate here; there’s a lot of volunteerism in the field, so often those candidates wouldn’t be using my former employee as an official reference.

    4. TootsNYC*

      I really only do this if I know someone at the target company who is the hiring manager or who is very close.

      And I pretend I don’t know they’ve applied. I email and say, “I heard you’re looking for a Widget Editor. Have you gotten a resumé yet from Sally Smith? She worked for me at XYZ and was really good, and I know she’s looking. Just in case you haven’t, I’ve attached her resumé. Let me know if you need any other info.”

      But I only do this for people I would absolutely go to bat for, and if I have some sort of link to the person in the company.

  8. Katie the Fed*

    I’ve just gotten promoted and have a whole new bunch of people to deal with, so I’m sure I’m going to needing lots of good advice. First issue – has anyone ever dealt with an employee who just doesn’t present herself professionally? I have a late-20s employee who frankly comes across ditzy when she talks to colleagues or clients.

    She giggles, shrugs, uptalks constantly, seems a little flirtatious, etc. Other people have described her as seeming like she’s in a sorority chapter meeting, and I can see where they get that impression. Basically – her demeanor does not instill confidence in her abilities at all. I know I’m going to need to take this on as a coaching issue, but where do I start?

    1. Alex*

      That’s tough!! I don’t have an advice but I just want to thank you for planning to coach her on this. I wish I had had someone to teach me how to speak more eloquently in meetings earlier in my career. Not sure if this is helpful, but I realized how I sounded when I watched a recording of myself having a web meeting. I’ve been trying to emulate other people that I admire since then.

      1. The IT Manager*

        I hate, hate listening to myself. I don’t sound “like myself” and don’t like the sound of my voice. That said, I recently recorded a meeting (where I thankful didn’t talk much) but noticed I was shouting.

        I think it is because my computer mic is not near my face and also I has trouble hearing others. I have been making a conscious effort not to over-project/shout and think I am doing okay because I am speaking more softly and no has yet said I am speaking too softly.

    2. Libonymous*

      I just got promoted, too! I need lots of help, too. Starting with my second-in-command is not to be trusted but I don’t have documentation to do anything about it and he’s smart enough not to be subversive when I’m around.

    3. LBK*

      I might actually look at the letter on here from the manager who had to speak to an employee about her hygiene. That would probably be a good base for framing the conversation since they’re both subjects that are kind of uncomfortable to bring up to someone’s face.

      1. BRR*

        This was my thought too. Maybe do the “I had somebody give me this advice” thing. Also if she’s good let her know she has the potential to go far.

        BTW congratulations on the promotion.

    4. CrazyCatLady*

      I still struggle with being like this at times – people have told me that I seem ditzy when they first meet me and are always surprised at how intelligent I eventually seem. For me, it’s lack of self-confidence and nervousness. I don’t know if that’s the cause for everyone but if that rings true for her, maybe point out how capable, intelligent, whatever she is (as long as she actually is) and let her know that her mannerisms can make her come across to others as less capable than she is. (I almost ended this sentence in a question mark – even uptalking in writing!)

    5. fposte*

      Do you folks have access to any kind of coaching services, or is this all on you? Is this something that bugs you, or is it a problem that you know has hampered her progress or productivity?

      If it’s on you, you know the big rule here: be specific both about the behavior and the desired change. If it’s a bugs-you rather than problem thing, ask if she’d like some feedback rather than just telling her to change. I also think that with this kind of behavior it’s good to have several positive models higher up than she is as contrasts–“See how Lucinda responds when asks a question she doesn’t know the answer to? She says ‘I don’t know’ rather than shrugging.”

      And, of course, be sure to praise the stuff she does well at her work so you’re not just talking about this with her.

      1. Katie the Fed*

        No coaching services, unfortunately. And it bugs me, but it’s something that several other people (senior to me) have brought to my attention – before I even started.

        What I don’t know yet is this – is she actually really sharp and just presenting herself badly? Or is she not all that capable? Right now I can’t actually tell.

        1. Businesslady*


          I got some similar feedback early in my career, and while I wasn’t thrilled to hear it in the moment, I’m really grateful to my boss(es) for speaking up.

          The way it was framed for me was, “you have smart things to say; you just need to make sure they’re getting across to your audience.” Have her focus on speaking slowly and deliberately–and assure her that, while it feels unnatural at first, it’ll become more of a habit over time.

          Maybe you can find some TED Talks or similar online presented by women whose manner isn’t entirely different from hers, but who come across as more polished? There’s a really great one on women/body image by a Northwestern prof named Renee Engeln that might be a good model (although the content might introduce weird complications to the conversation).

          And of course, if she can’t take the feedback to heart, then you can start investigating whether or not the problem is actually a lack of “there” there.

        2. fposte*

          It might be worth waiting until you do know, then. Because if she’s not good at the actual job, her presentation is beside the point.

      1. Carrie in Scotland*

        I second this – congratulations on the promotion!
        Are you back up to speed after your health issue?

    6. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I’d frame the whole thing as gravitas –articulate it that way as one overall theme to her and then talk about the ways you see it manifest (so that you don’t appear to be nitpicking a bunch of small things).

    7. Muriel Heslop*

      I had this issue with one of my interns who wanted to stay and grow with the company. I asked her in for a sit-down to outline her goals and plans with the company. It then gave me the opportunity to outline for her what I needed from her for that to happen. And we went over it more than once. It was a tough road and we never made it as far as I would have liked, but she has moved on and is thriving in her new field.

    8. LQ*

      One thing that’s worth telling her is that if you (or someone else) asks her to estimate or give a professional opinion on something, they know it isn’t a 100%, so it is ok to be confident in that and it will help the person she’s giving the information to signficantly.

      I have a tendency to over-hedge my bets on these things. I might be 99% certain about something, but I’ll focus on the 1%. My boss once told me that if she was asking for my opinion or guess she wanted confidence as long as I was 75% sure. That changed my stance on that a lot.

      Also, please please please don’t encourage the giggling. I have a coworker who nervous giggles when she screws up. It is incredibly frustrating. It might have been cute when she was 15, but she’s like 50 now, it’s not cute, and it makes me think she’s not paying attention. (Which might be the thing to call to her attention, when you are giggling, I’m not sure you’re paying attention to what I’m saying, if you can focus and let me know that you understood I’d appreciate that.)

      1. Windchime*

        I wholly agree with you. We had a woman who was pushing 50 in our department who would laugh at EVERYTHING anyone said. “The TPS reports are done. HAHAHAHAH!!!!!” She said it was a nervous habit, but it was really off-putting. Customers would complain after meeting with her that she was ridiculing them because she would laugh at everything they said.

        It will really help your employee if she can get this under control now. It’s not cute; it’s just annoying.

        1. Fish Microwaver*

          I work with a woman who talks really loudly and lets forth these massive belly laughs about everything. We work in a highly specialised call centre and deal with people’s health so the laughter is often inappropriate. I don’t like it in the background of my calls and the loudness gives me a headache.

    9. Darth Admin*

      I think you could start with the most “fixable” thing, if that makes sense. Like, if she’s shrugging in meetings when other people talk, you could say “Hepzibah, when you shrug in meetings, it gives an impression that you are not engaged and do not care about what others are saying. This doesn’t help your professional image and will make people less likely to trust you on assignments.” And then see what she says?

    10. aliascelli*

      If after you talk to her she’s open to more development in that area, a local Toastmasters club might be a good fit. Having more presence and less, er, stand-up is something I’m working on in my speeches.

      1. AnotherFed*

        Many gov’t offices have public speaking training courses available – can you look into sending her to one of those, then encouraging her to join the local Toastmasters? I got sent to one of those multi-day “how to brief” classes when I was a new hire, and was surprised at how much was about all the little things, especially non-verbals, that either torpedo you or reinforce the image of technical authority. Something like that might be very helpful to her.

    11. Mockingjay*

      What about a practice presentation? My Government lead brings in interns every summer – he’s a good mentor. At the end of their stint, they have to do a brief on their accomplishments to HR and agency bigwigs. He has them practice their presentations in our weekly internal meetings. We give them lots of feedback: simple things like posture and facing the audience, or pacing PowerPoint slides while speaking, to handling the nerve-wracking open Questions and Answers session.

      Since she’s a regular employee, I’m not sure how to suggest a practice session for her. I would look for internal meetings and tasks that offer opportunities to demonstrate professional courtesy and responses. If you have regular meetings, she could be the facilitator, or given some role to brief others. Does your agency have a Toastmasters group? Could clear speaking skills be listed as an employee development goal?

      I think, in time, this problem will go away. People tend to emulate their environment. If she is surrounded by professional demeanors, she will pick up the same as she gains experience.

      And congratulations on your well-deserved promotion!

      1. Meg Murry*

        Could you make all your staff (or at least the younger/newer/staff that need it) do presentations and critique each other? I went to a training class where we had to prepare a 5-10 minute oral presentation on the topic of our choosing (we could have handouts or visual aids, but they wanted to focus on the spoken part, not writing a powerpoint – which is a whole separate topic). We gave the presentation first, were videotaped and were critiqued by our other classmates anonymously. Then we talked a little about effective presentations, watched some “good speaker/bad speaker” presentations, and were given 2 hours to go eat lunch and read over our feedback and watch our videos and self critique, then we came back and gave the same presentations again and were taped again.

        Everyone is always amazed to see themselves on video, and see what kind of habits they didn’t know they had, like saying “um” 1000 times, or shifting from one foot to another, or playing with the pens or papers in their hands, or reading directly off the paper – and the 2nd time around videos were so much better.

        If there is a budget to send her to professional development speaking class that would probably be best, but if not, I think you can probably put something together yourself. She might take the feedback to heart if everyone is telling her she uptalks and giggles, not just you, and if she sees herself on video.

        I’ll link to the course I took, but the link will get caught in moderation, so do a google search for kent state delivering powerful presentations and you will find it.

    12. MaryMary*

      Maybe address it as a communication style issue? Talk to her about tailoring her communication style to her audience. You can tell her that she comes off as very informal, and that when she’s talking about a serious topic some of her speech patterns and mannerisms undermine her message. The public sector is pretty traditional, and she’ll be more successful if she can adopt a more formal professional demeanor.

      For the record, I’m a nervous giggler and I didn’t realize how much of a problem it was (or how often I did it) until my manager pointed it out to me. I’ve very grateful he did.

      1. fposte*

        I like this, and wow, the nervous giggle plagues so many people, especially women. It’s particularly unfortunate during presentations, and that’s when people are most likely to succumb to it.

        1. MaryMary*

          I’m actually fine during formal presentations. It’s in conversations where I get into trouble, particularly if it’s a difficult conversation. I think the giggle is a misguided and not entirely voluntary attempt to lighten the mood. It is probably connected to my people pleasing/nice girl issues. :-/

          1. fposte*

            Oh, that’s interesting that the formality outweighs the nervousness. The nervous giggle is unfortunately rampant in class presentations; as you say, I think it’s a lighten the mood attempt. But it doesn’t really do that anyway, so it can turn into a bit of a tic.

    13. AntherHRPro*

      Congratulations on your promotion.

      It is always hard providing feedback to someone on something that seems personal (dress, hygiene, etc.) and this can fall into this bucket. I would frame the conversation as being about her presence and how the way she presents herself influences how others perceive her. In fact, it can distract people from the content that she is trying to communicate. Be prepared to share your thoughts on what good professional presence should look like. Things like projecting competency, being polished and poised, communicating clearly, directly but with empathy. Ask her who she thinks has a strong professional presence and why. Have her look to model these people.

      The conversation may be difficult, but if she is smart and capable, you could be helping her career tremendously.

    14. Jake*

      I’d address this in a one on one, and point out several male and female examples of exemplary behavior.

      this is exceptionally tough because no matter what you say, there is a decent chance all she’ll hear is “I don’t like your personality, change it” even though that is not even close to the case.

    15. Jen RO*

      Congratulations on the promotion! No advice, but I will be keeping an eye on your thread, because I also have to address something similar.. and it’s not gone very well so far (partly my fault).

    16. Emmie*

      I’d find out why she does this. Her demeanor resonates with me. Sometimes I act that way(bubbly, happy, and friendly, which seems to some like flirting) and your comment makes me reconsider that. I do it because it’s part of my personality, but mostly because I’ve gotten feedback that the other part of my personality (business, focused, intelligent but not in a know it all way) is seen by others as formal, closed, and doesn’t help with networking – according to feedback from managers. How do you find the balance between the two? Not sure, but asking her why she’s like that might be helpful. Congrats on the promotion!

    17. PX*

      Super late to this, but my university had mandatory classes on ‘How to give (technical) presentations’ which were some of the most useful non-core classes we had. See if you can sign her up for something like this? There was a strong focus for us on being aware of how you come across (eg filming yourself and then reviewing it, discussing with other class members how one came across etc), so it sounds like something like this could kill a few birds with one stone for you!

  9. BRR*

    As I have mentioned previously, I’m currently on a sort of pre-PIP due to work quality. I’m working hard and actually doing a decent job. Being on the right meds has certainly helped. One problem I have run into is I have been dinged for doing things the way my boss has previously been telling me to do them. I’m not sure how to bring it up when these situations arrive.
    Now side bar, I know when people are usually to this point it’s usually not fixable. I do think I have a chance because part of my poor performance was being on the wrong set of psych meds and that’s now been fixed more or less. I also know my boss would prefer to not have to fire me because she doesn’t want to have to (but she would) and she would love to not be one person down for the next several months as they hire and train a replacement. I think it can be summed up as she hopes I succeed but since it’s been shaky there are not high expectations for it to happen.
    For example, this week I got dinged for doing something one way. A year and a half ago I did it her suggested way but was told to do it another way that made less sense. I haven’t had to do this task since so it hasn’t come up again until now. This doesn’t happen often but it happens enough where I want to say something, I just don’t know how to say it. I guess I am looking for the polite way of saying, “But you told me to do it this way.” Especially when sometimes her way doesn’t make sense, that’s why she told me to go back to the way I first did things (usually her suggestions are correct, she’s not changing her mind over everything).

    1. Delyssia*

      “My understanding was that your preference was for [process x] in this situation. Has that changed? Or can you explain how this situation differs from one where I should use that process?”

      Also, can you document preferred processes to make sure you’re on the same page with your boss? I’m not sure that would make sense in your specific situation, but if it does, it could be valuable to both of you.

      1. 2horseygirls*

        Oooh, I am SO writing this down and using it!!!

        And BRR – glad you are feeling better! :)

        1. BRR*

          Thanks for your kind wishes!

          My boss said my work was better and asked what I did different. I was like, “better meds.” She doesn’t like talking about medical issues as a CYA move so I quickly moved on haha.

      2. GOG11*

        Oooh, this is good! I use the first part on occasion, but I hadn’t ever thought of the second part (to ask how it differs). It makes so much sense to do so, though.

    2. brightstar*

      My manager does this, and I try to get things in writing when I can. Another tactic I use is phrasing her directions as a question. “My understanding from your instructions was that A was to be filed under XYZ. Has that since changed?” Usually she just shrugs and says she was mistaken and I just have to deal.

      Particularly as you’ve had some difficulties due to your health situation, I’d document as much as possible. Pre-emptively, if given a task I’d carefully go over and at least take notes on what your boss has told you to do.

    3. Artemesia*

      I’d have a catching up conversation with her in which you reiterate your commitment to do a good job and appreciate her coaching (and perhaps note again the med issue if that is public information with her). Then I would say something like “sometimes procedures change over time and a couple of times I have done something the way you instructed me to do it last year and then been told I was in error. For example XXX. I really want to get this sort of thing right; how do you suggest I make sure that procedures have not changed when I am doing something that I haven’t done in awhile?” ‘I want to do a good job, help me’ is usually a good way to approach ‘you are doing a bad job supervising.’

    4. fposte*

      I think you have to weigh this (as you clearly are), because if you say “but you told me to do it this way” about every difference, it’s a defensive behavior and it doesn’t help you. Sometimes this is stuff you have to let go, even if you’re trying to move past a reputation for errors. But it might also be worth initiating a manual or at least a cheat sheet/style sheet that you can run by her for approval and then rely on; if she wants to deviate from that, that’s fine, but it’s clear that’s an update rather than your error, and you’ve also created something proactive and useful.

      I think the only time I’d raise the point is if it was a big mistake that the boss was clearly unhappy about. And even then I’d only raise it if you knew she wouldn’t deny her original instruction or if you had it in writing, and I’d do it not at the time she was drawing my attention to it–then, I’d just apologize and say you’ll be sure to do it the way she tells you. I’d talk to her a little later when the situation has cooled down to say that you had understood her to say you should do it the other way, you want her to know this wasn’t an example of you being distracted, and you’re hoping that keeping a style sheet that she gets to approve will help you avoid such misunderstandings in the future.

      1. BRR*

        The defensiveness was my concern.

        It was a pretty big mistake this time, it rendered my otherwise good work not satisfactory. I’m assuming I can’t bring this up three weeks later?

        1. fposte*

          I think it has to be part of a conversation about something else–if it’s happened again, if you have a plan to avoid it that you want her buy-in for, etc.

          1. BRR*

            I’m going to use Delyssia’s script if the situation arises again. Or preferably a rich, unknown relative dies and leaves me their billions of dollars and I can just quit.

    5. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I don’t know if it will make you feel any better, but in my opinion part of the problem is that you’re being dinged for doing things in a way that is perfectly acceptable (as it was the way it was done at one point), but not the way the current boss wants it done at this moment. Basically, it’s not you. Even if they told you recently, changing the details of many of the multitude of little processes that you have to deal with is a formula for confusion in even the most detail-oriented employee.

      I would probably say something like “I’m sorry, I remember we discussed doing it this way a year ago, and I didn’t remember you telling me to do it that way. Can you send me an email with the full process the way you’d like to see it now, so I can make sure I have the new process down exactly as you want it? Or can you let me grab a notepad and go over it with me now?” But then, I keep all emails like that, and I’m constantly digging them up for reviewing decisions like this. (Not as bad, it’s usually “Hey, why don’t we temper the chocolate before making the spouts?” “I think we considered it, but we decided that it would take too long…[searches “tempering spouts” in Outlook]….OK, here’s the email from last year, we said X.”

      1. Nashira*

        I use this strategy a lot as a way to discreetly cover for some executive function issues I have, related to probably-autism. Even if the procedure has to change, at least I have proof that it used to be another way and I am not crazy.

        My boss values it now, and occasionally asks me to see if I can find the email from 18 months ago about how to sort the lids.

    6. HRWitch*

      I deal with a 2nd level boss that does this constantly. I now send him an email to confirm my understanding of his directions. Then I print the email trail, including his ‘OK’ or ‘No, I want you to do Q, R, S, not R, S, T’ and keep in the work file. Although this can be a major PITA and often seems a waste of time (I’m getting lots of ‘OK’ replies), it has also saved the situation / defused the argument / resulted in a (grudging) apology.

  10. Consultant Mouse*

    For anyone that has been deeply unhappy or stressed out in their job, how do/did you cope with it in the months leading up to your departure? Meditation? Breathing exercises? Calling in sick?

    1. GOG11*

      If you’ve got a clearly defined date for your departure, I can see why it would be difficult to keep your motivation up. However, it may help to focus on using the next couple of months as an opportunity to transition out. Getting together documentation and wrapping up the projects you can puts you closer to your being able to leave on good terms, it can make the time go faster as you look forward to your departure and it can give you some closure. I hope others can weigh in and give you some good advice.

    2. lionelrichiesclayhead*

      I think it becomes very important to focus on how you are taking care of yourself outside of the job. Exercise, eating the best foods you can afford, connecting/reconnecting with supportive family and friends, not sitting on the couch too much, going to bed on time, spending time outdoors, working on hobbies, etc.

      If possible, it’s also best to find something at work that you can enjoy or at least feel good about and focus on those experiences as much as you can. Even writing down those small moments so you can revisit them later when you are feeling unhappy can help.

      I wish you luck!

    3. Stephanie*

      I drank a lot. Don’t do that. Not alcoholic levels, but I definitely took advantage of DC’s professional drinking culture.

      1. Turanga Leela*

        When I was a teacher, I lived on frozen margaritas. I wasn’t the only one, either. I know a lot of K-12 teachers who spend Friday night drinking off the stress of the week. If parents only knew…

        1. Stephanie*

          My neighbor in DC was a teacher at a Title I school. I was heading home and she’s like “Some of my coworkers and I are having drinks upstairs! Come join!” I did and yeah…they drink. I got like blackout drunk with them.

            1. Ann Furthermore*

              I volunteer one morning each month in my daughter’s kindergarten classroom. I could see her teacher needing Everclear Jello shots (which are the devil, by the way…oh my).

    4. HigherEd Admin*

      I try to think about the person who’s going to eventually come in and take over the role I’m leaving, and imagine that I don’t want this person to ever feel the way I felt at this job. So I try to make the transition as easy for FutureEmployee as possible and put my effort and motivation into creating transition documents. The added benefit of this is that it typically allows me to remember all the good, hard work I put in while I was there and I can try to replace my unhappiness/stress with pride at what I accomplished.

      1. GOG11*

        Oh, this is good! It’s hard to prepare things properly on principle and not everyone is concerned about leaving on the best terms possible, either…but I could totally see this motivating me when I move on next.

    5. Turanga Leela*

      1) Yes to meditation/breathing. I am a fan of the Pranayama app.
      2) Exercise—long runs, circuit training, anything where you have to focus on the workout rather than the office.
      3) Make time to go out for dinner/drinks/adventures with people who de-stress you. When you’re stressed, it’s easy to feel too tired to make plans. Force yourself to schedule things that you know you will enjoy. (This does NOT mean doing social things that you find stressful, like blind dates or big parties if you don’t like them.)
      4) Make room for beauty in your life. Go on hikes or to museums. Listen to music. Read books that inspire you.
      5) Try to make work as bearable as possible. Wear clothes that you like and comfortable shoes (seriously, nothing exacerbates stress like foot pain). Bring delicious snacks and nice coffee so that you have something to look forward to during breaks. Cross things off your to-do list so that you get a sense of accomplishment.

    6. Cupcake*

      I’m going through the same thing, so I’m really paying attention to all of the responses provided for your question.

      I know firsthand how hard this is and it’s not the first time I’ve been through this in a job. In my current company, I’ve been here for 31 months and I really cannot stand it much longer. It’s very difficult to pull myself out of bed and find the motivation necessary to go to work.

      I don’t call in sick or drink to alleviate my pain. Instead, I use a lot of self help, therapy, meditation and doctor-prescribed medication. It’s a way to manage the heaviness I feel each day in my heart, but it’s never easy.

      I’m sending good vibes & positive encouragement your way. From someone who is currently in the same position, I feel your pain and know you will get through this.

    7. AVP*

      I took up running. It helped immensely while I was in a bad work situation, and the minute the situation ended I quit and never ran again. It was great for mental health while it lasted though.

    8. Future Analyst*

      Pray, or say a mantra. (You don’t have to be religious, and the prayer certainly doesn’t have to be religious in tone or nature.) Sometimes the only thing thathelps me calm down is to say “Please help me, I don’t want to lose my sh*t” while breathing in and out at a measured pace. And obviously, that can only do so much if you’re in a state of constant stress. When it comes to it, take the sick day, but don’t spend the day wallowing. If you can, get outside, get fresh air and sunshine, and list off the things that you’re grateful for. Make sure that the sick day is truly restorative, not just a bandaid.

    9. The Cosmic Avenger*

      For me, I have felt much better when I realized that I am going to be gone soon, and I could walk right out if I really wanted to. When you make it your choice, you’re usually more accepting of that option, rather than feeling like you’re trapped in it. You could quit, but if you tough it out you won’t deplete your emergency fund, or have to live on ramen for the next few months, or get evicted or whatever. But you could. For me that was liberating, and it freed me up to give no f***s at all because I could have quit, but I chose not to.

    10. ExJourno*

      Well, let’s see. I drank a lot. I ignored the parts of my job I didn’t enjoy (at least when I could get away with that). I looked for new jobs constantly, often while I was supposed to be working. I used up all my sick days being depressed (which, I mean, is a medical condition… but still).

      Maybe don’t do what I did. Instead, I suggest reaching out to friends and family, stepping up your workout routine, spending more time with your pets — anything to help you remember the good things in your life outside of work.

    11. Bea W*

      All of the above, and keeping my sights on getting out. When I finally did have a real out, I was so much less stressed at that job, because there was a real end in sight!

    12. lawsuited*

      I had a few methods that I used alone or together as needed in the 3 months until I left:

      1. Therapy once per week – I wanted to start dealing with some of the stress and anxiety before moving to my next workplace so I could have a fresh start. It was also important for me to speak to someone who could calmly reiterate my feelings that what I was dealing with was not normal (family and friends got upset on my behalf and then I would feel like I had to comfort them). This was so helpful and so necessary.

      2. Walking outside for 30 minutes when I woke up, 30 minutes during lunch and 30 minutes when I got home from work – Seeing nature and other people gave me a sense of peacefulness and allowed me to reset and recharge.

      3. Being 15 minutes late – A lot of days I wouldn’t want to go in to work, but I knew that it would mean a bigger mess for me to deal with the next day, so my compromise was to linger a little longer when eating my breakfast or putting on my make-up and stealing back 15 minutes from the beginning of the workday to give back to myself. Petty and stupid, but it made me feel better.

      4. Mantras – I had a few mantras that I repeated so often that friends and family started repeating them back to me. A few of mine where “Not my circus. Not my monkeys”, “Fish gotta swim. Jerks gotta jerk you around.” and “_____ falls into the category of Not My Problem”. Make up your own and repeat as needed!

      1. puddin*

        Your #4 reminds me of my current situation. I have to keep telling myself, “This is stupid but it is what is done here. And this is why I am leaving.”

      2. HRWitch*

        Love the mantras! My ‘so bad I’m tearing my hair out’ mantra is “Life is _______, people are __________’. I fill in the blanks to match the current situation, then morph them over 3 or 4 repetitions to what I want it to be: “Life is s****y, people are too stupid to work here” becomes “Life is great, people are invigorating!”

      3. themmases*

        Oooh yes I would be late a lot. At my terrible old job, I started work at 7 or earlier routinely just because it used to be necessary and was what I’d always done. I stopped stressing out about that my last few weeks. No one was there and I wasn’t doing anything that needed to be done right at 7 anyway. It helped a lot.

    13. Lalaith*

      If you already know when your departure will be, maybe focus on what you’re going to do next, and prepare for that. Even if you don’t have a plan yet, maybe brush up on some skills, or learn a new thing that will be helpful to what you’d like to do next, or (if you don’t have a departure date) make you more marketable so you can get out faster!

    14. Jake*

      Run myself into the ground with 70 hour weels until I get so burnt out that I stop doing anything except the bare minimum.

      I don’t recommend it though.

      The only time I’ve been stressed at work is during periods of understaffing that requires insane hours for extended periods.

    15. AntherHRPro*

      Two ideas:
      1.) Take a moment to acknowledge each time you do something for the last time. As in, “this is the last time I will ever have to complete the TPL report for Bob. :-D Yea!!!”
      2.) Focus on the small things that you actually enjoy. Really look for them and acknowledge them. Like your first cup of coffee in the morning, lunch with a friend, the view out the window. It may sound stupid, but when I am stressed this technique really works for me.

    16. themmases*

      I took a ton of time off. I got into grad school around February and knew I would leave sometime in July. I started asking off days here and there before I gave my notice. Between holidays everyone got, several weddings and family things that were truly non-negotiable and that I wanted to make sure were approved before I gave my notice, and a couple of mental health days, I had the nicest summer I could have had under the circumstances without having anything to feel guilty for. Between my birthday in May and my departure in July, I never took a big chunk of time off but I also only worked 4-day weeks. I worked very hard to document everything and train the people who would be taking my work, which was very appreciated, put it out of my mind on long weekends, and no one cared about my time off.

      I also started cleaning my office and transferring files over to people early, a little bit at a time. It made it a lot easier in the end and my office was not only clean, it had that half-empty “last day of school” feeling that I found very calming.

    17. Mints*

      +1s to the exercise and friends

      Also, it’s very nice to have a little emergency fund (and boy was it little) so that you feel like you could hypothetically rage quit and not be completely homeless. It’s a nice little “I could quit if I wanted to” booster

      And not venting. I know, venting is fun while it’s happening, but overall it makes moods worse. Jamie has some good posts on this, that I can’t think of how to find… When you give up venting, you focus on things you like. When people ask about your job, quickly going “Not super, and I’m job hunting. But that’s boring! How’s X?” is
      better for overall forgetting

    18. Aardvark*

      I fined myself whenever I got really angry. I downloaded a free counter app for my phone, and any time I got past a certain threshold of stress/etc. I clicked the counter up by an interval of 2. Every few weeks, I would transfer the amount of money on the counter into my savings account and reset it. I had to disengage and think, “is it worth taking $2 from my day-to-day budget to feel this way?” If it was, I got the satisfaction of quantifying my frustrations, and if it wasn’t, the action of pausing to reflect on the feeling helped keep it from building up.

      …I saved a lot of money during that time.

    19. Ultraviolet*

      I definitely don’t have this all figured out yet, but two things I’m trying to do:

      1) Try to make your commute as pleasant as possible. I know that can be a tall order in some cases! But I found that a non-stressful or even enjoyable commute is a good transition from home (where I’m generally happy) to work (not). If the commute sucks then the abrupt change from home to stress hits me hard.

      2) Get enough sleep. If I’m unhappy at work I tend to try to stay up really late so I can improve the ratio of hours spent happy to hours spent unhappy. But the lack of sleep just makes things worse.

  11. AFT*

    I have a pattern of hating my job and moving on after 2 – 3 years and recently I’ve been attempting to understand more why this happens, as it seems to be an issue with personality. I’ve realized that in every position I’ve had, I have the same pattern – start off really strong, exceed expectations, and then around the 1 year mark, my motivation drops off, and eventually I can feel myself actually being put off by the notion of wanting to do well. So my productivity falls, and I start to dread my job, then I move on to something new.

    I thought maybe it was a boredom thing, but I don’t think that’s it – All of my positions have had lots of change, new titles, new duties, new challenges, etc.

    Any thoughts/advice/tips/armchair diagnoses? I’d really like to nail this so I can start performing again at my job and actually stick things out here.

    1. CrazyCatLady*

      My initial thought was boredom until you ruled that out. Is it that you feel a certain level of comfort? (To make a dating analogy, at first you put in a lot of effort to look your best, be on your best behavior, etc. but when you get comfortable, you wear sweats more or stop going to the gym as much). So more security and comfort – like they’ve already decided you’re a high performer and now you can let your effort drop a little?

    2. Beebs*

      Is it always the job itself? Could it be the environment, culture, team, etc. impacting your performance and motivation?

    3. Retail Lifer*

      I change jobs every few years, but that’s because raises are slim to none and opporunities for professional development or a promotion are always nonexistent. I *definitely* get bored with that.

      Even if you’ve had title and responsibility changes, are you sure there’s not something else that’s boring you? It might just be that you’re so used to changing jobs every so often that you’ll get bored regardless. Perhaps it’s because of the jobs I’ve always had, but I really can’t envision myself working for the same company for more than three years.

    4. Artemesia*

      When it is clearly you and not the job it screams ‘therapy.’ Because wherever you go, there you are. Wish I had figured this out earlier in life than I did. I have a young relative right now whom I would like to scream this at — but of course don’t as I watch his bright ambitious self shoot himself in the same foot over and over and over.

    5. Lo*

      I have the same issue, sometimes work related but also sometimes with other things in life (I like that dating analogy that CrazyCatLady used).

      My advice is to conciously recognize this situation and push yourself mentally to move past the block. I think that as you get more secure and start to test the boundaries of “can i slack off all day and still be ok?” and you continue on that path, you mentally sink deeper into the desire to not do anything to address it. But if you start to push back and force yourself to put in the effort you may find that it starts to come back, more naturally. At first you force yourself to complete a task but over time you start to naturally think “I just got to work, I need to do this, then I can relax and read AAM, then I will do x, y, z.” Creating a routine for yourself may allow you to settle into a more healthy and productive schedule, but at first you may need to force yourself to focus and get into the routine.

      good luck!

      1. AFT*

        I’m so terrible with routines but I’m sure you’re right and it would be immensely helpful to me. One of my self-improvement goals right now is more willpower with things like schedules and mental strength. Also you’re spot on with this –

        “”I think that as you get more secure and start to test the boundaries of “can i slack off all day and still be ok?” and you continue on that path, you mentally sink deeper into the desire to not do anything to address it. “”

        This is so accurate. I basically reach the point where I do whatever is needed to not get on my bosses radar and learn to say what he needs to hear and do the tasks that are important to him to keep him off my back, but doing nothing else proactive. I become a bare-minimum employee.

        1. Lo*

          I completely understand! I think that this is something many, many people experience. If you can try to reach out to trusted coworkers/others in your field who you feel will be helpful and considerate, as well as discreet, they may be able to give you some tailored advice, or friends who know your work style also. but in general, forcing yourself into the routine may be a first step, even if it’s a little rough at first. Also, remember to give yourself a pat on the back sometimes–it is healthy and good for you to be proud as you take healthy and good steps!

    6. fposte*

      This does sound therapy-esque to me. I will fire off relevant questions. Do you think that people’s expectations for your performance may have risen based on your excelling? Do you get satisfaction from awing people with your brilliance and lose performance when that stops happening because people get used to you? Do you think you may worry that you can’t keep up with your early standards so you don’t even want to try? More broadly, is there anything about being long-term successful that you have some resistance to? If I say “Oh, AFT, she’s a fixture here, and we know she’ll always come through” do you have reactions other than yearning and delight?

      Just some thoughts. It could also be you just have itchy feet.

      1. AFT*

        Thanks for the thoughts! I do think therapy would be helpful. I have sneaking suspicion there may be some self-confidence issues at play, but I don’t know.

        People’s expectations – Yes I do feel like that. I want to prove myself, and once I have, I feel like the bar is set higher than I’m willing to keep raising. Then I get to the point where I don’t even care that much what people think as long as I can avoid getting in trouble and I can just fly under the radar.

        This is interesting – “More broadly, is there anything about being long-term successful that you have some resistance to?” YES! But I don’t know why. I think I don’t like the pattern of increased expectations. If I do really well, I don’t want that to mean that I have to keep doing better and better. This might be why I think confidence has something to do with it, because if I do my best right off the bat but am expected to keep raising the bar, I’m not confident I’ll do well.

        Really thought-provoking questions! Thank you!

        1. fposte*

          Semi-randomly, this might relate to the “enough” question that I’ve been thinking about lately. If you don’t feel confident about internally judging what’s good enough or doing enough, the slowing down or even loss of external feedback may feel like a measure of your performance even though it’s more related to loss of novelty. And while feedback is important, we all have to develop our own senses of what doing a good job looks like.

    7. puddin*

      It sounds like maybe you enjoy the learning and ramping up portion. Can you incorporate more learning into your work routine? Learn new software, processes like project management, Kaizen, problem solving strategies, change management philosophies and plans, industry or product knowledge…etc.

    8. K*

      I’m curious about why you see this a major issue. Has it been adversely affecting your life overall?

      My mum is very much like this, and she found a career that was tailored to this as a project manager. Each project would last from 18 months to two years,and then she would naturally move on to the next one.

      My own career has been similar. I work in an industry where it’s considered very weird to be in one position for more than a two to three year stint. You go in, do your assignment, assignment ends, you move on to the next one. My successor was hired two years ago, so there’s no option for me to stick around in this assignment even if I wanted to.

      Rather than trying to ‘fix’ it, maybe find a career path where it’s an asset?

      1. Sammy J*

        I second this — why try to fight it and assume it’s a bad thing? There are some industry/career paths where if you stick around it seems like you’re stagnant…I thought it was just creative fields but being in DC for a while I started hearing it from others as well.

      2. AFT*

        Interesting question – no, I guess it hasn’t really hurt me thus far, I’m just honestly sick of the feeling and the cycle.

        Funny you mention Project Management! I recently enrolled in a mini-masters because I had the same reaction you highlighted here – this would probably be the perfect role for me. I’m in sales right now which has some similar elements, but Project Management appeals to me even more because the quota aspect is removed and hopping around would be totally normal. Thanks so much for the response!

        1. M*

          It’s “normal” to an extent. (Long time PM here!)

          The path K is referring to is a contract path, where you’re either hired on as an outside contractor (typically no beneifts, kind of like being self-employed) or employed by a staff augmentation firm/consulting firm and are sent off to companies to manage a project for 6-18 months or so. When that’s done, your firm places you in another company. With this path, yes, it’s very common for you to switch jobs often because you’re hired to work on a specific project. Once it’s over, you go. This path is VERY common in the PM world.

          Or you’re a full time employee of a company in a PM role. I’ve been a PM for 10 years and this is the only path I’ve experienced (I want the benefits and stability and I don’t want to work for a staff aug/consulting firm). I’ve worked for 3 companies in 10 years. Here, you definitely don’t want to be switching jobs every 6 months because, well, you’re an employee. If you’re not a contractor, your resume might get the side-eye (I say might because when I’ve reviewed PM resumes, the 6-18 month stint is just so common that at first glance, a hiring manager might not know you’re an employee).

          1. K*

            Actually, in my mum’s specific case, she was an employee of a company in a PM role, but the company was huge enough (multinational) that she could move around and have new projects and teams every time.

            Best of both worlds, I guess!

            Otherwise, completely agree!

    9. Vanishing Girl*

      Wow! I have the same problem, although my jobs have not changed much while I’ve been in them (or have never changed enough for my liking). I’ve been at this company for just over a year now, and in this position for 7 months. I’m already bored and I’m getting that old familiar feeling again…

      I am wondering if I take jobs that aren’t challenging enough because I don’t want to work more than 40 hours a week and then I set myself up for this pattern. I love the suggestions about finding careers where learning all the time and moving on regularly is part of the process.

      I am going to see what other ideas people have and follow this discussion. Thanks for asking this!

    10. Snowglobe*

      You say that you’ve had new titles & duties, but does that actually mean that you’ve transitioned to a new position within the company (new boss, new department)? I tend to stay at the same company for around 8-10 years, but I post for new jobs and change positions about every 2 years. If you are at the same company, it doesn’t look like job hopping on your resume, but it feels like an entirely new job when you are in another area of the company. I’ve moved from sales to customer service to finance, etc., so it has successfully kept me from getting too complacent.

    11. Cath in Canada*

      Do you see any parallels to this behaviour in other aspects of your life? e.g. do you tend to seek out new groups of friends after a couple of years, new hobbies, new music to listen to, etc? If so, you might be one of those people who’s strongly attracted and motivated by novelty. I have a bit of this myself. For example, even though I have a ton of great music saved my phone, I spend more time listening to music podcasts, because there’s always something new. It’s not that I’m bored, necessarily, with the music I already have – I still like it, I just don’t want to miss out on hearing something new that I’ll like better! Same thing with food and beer – my husband is happy to order the same few things over and over, but I always want to try something new, even though I like the other stuff a lot too.

  12. GOG11*

    My boyfriend started his new job this week and it’s going really well so far! He’s worn a tie everyday and feels better doing so because he looks about 10 years younger than he is (putting him in his teens…) and he is a senior role. A coworker commented on his tie and said that it might not be a good idea to wear a tie when the boss doesn’t. On a separate occasion, his boss joked about his tie, saying something to the effect of, “and we’ll need to talk about that tie!”

    Everyone else wears dress pants and button down shirts…should he give up the ties? Normally, I’d say go with whatever the culture is there, but the reason he is dressing up a bit more is to try to offset the fact that he looks so young and I’m not sure how that impacts things.

    1. Question from Ontario, Canada*

      I’d say on Thursday and Fridays maybe drop the tie, since they’re considered more ‘casual’ days. He could also do a sport coat with a dress shirt and no tie and it looks pretty nice. Also a sweater/cardigan with a dress shirt and no tie looks sharp too. At the same time, my opinion is also ‘rock the tie!’

    2. Fuzzy*

      I would actually ask the boss about this–if it does help your boyfriend when talking to clients then there’s an argument for it, but maybe have him keep one in the office and not wear it on a daily basis? But unless the boss says, “yeah it really doesn’t fit in the culture here, you should loose it,” he may as well wear it.

    3. Future Analyst*

      Unfortunately, wearing a tie when no-one else is may be making him look younger. (Think a little kid who dresses up like dad to look like an adult.) He should lose the tie, and only wear it if/when the situation truly calls for it (client meetings, etc.– IF that’s part of the culture). In situations like this, the only thing that will make him appear ready (senior enough) for the position is the work that he does: he should focus on that.

      1. GOG11*

        I hadn’t thought of your first point, but it’s a really good one. As Fuzzy suggested, I think I’ll suggest that he keep a tie or two in his office for situations that truly warrant it and have him focus more on his projects (he isn’t worrying about his appearance to the detriment of projects, but he may not realize that the work he’s doing will take care of his reputation far more than a tie could). This is his fifth day and he’s managed to get a couple of backlogged and time sensitive projects/tasks/fixes done that his predecessor just sat on, so I think he’s making good progress so far and I can remind him of how far that will go with his colleagues.

      2. Artemesia*

        He may need some wardrobe counseling about how to look authoritative while not wearing a tie. Part of it is quality of clothing and part of it is style. Jeans, a button down or other stylish shirt and a blazer may look more authoritative in an office where ties are not worn much. A lot depends on the fit, quality etc of the clothing.

      3. Jake*


        As a fellow 20 something that looks like a teenager, please ditch the tie, it looks like he is trying too hard to be an adult.

        Typically after realizing I’m good at what I do people not only quit judging by my looks, but even start thinking I’m older than I am. I try very hard to not let my age or my looks dictate how I handle a situation because that simply draws attention my age/looks.

      4. Jen RO*

        I work with someone who is 24ish but looks 18. Most guys in the company wear jeans and t-shirts – my guy wears slacks and shirts. It does not make him look older – exactly like Future Analyst said, it makes him look like a kid dressed in his dad’s clothes and trying too hard! It’s not a huge deal, but as his manager I can see that it’s not an isolated faux pas, he *is* in fact trying too hard in all aspects of his professional life, which has led in the past to him giving wrong information out of a misguided desire to help… Overall, I get the feeling that he thinks he works in a different company – one where looking like a businessman is looked upon more favorably than actually knowing what you’re doing. Unfortunately, he ended up with jeans-and-tshirt me as a boss, and I am soo not impressed :)

        1. Jen RO*

          Uhm, and I’m not saying your boyfriend is any of that. Just that yeah, a tie might be having the opposite effect. I’d lose it, especially if he’s gotten feedback in that direction.

    4. LisaS*

      Maybe lose the tie but make the investment in better quality shirts/pants? There’s a big difference in appearance between buying men’s shirts at the Gap vs buying them at Brooks Brothers or Pink’s, for example – a sized fit (instead of just M or L) is always better, plus the finer cottons, more careful tailoring and better buttons will make a real difference in how he’s perceived by higher-ups. And with pants, the finer fabrics & again better tailoring will be visible (and more subtle than the tie). I think my dad taught me this, that men might “look” like they’re all dressed alike but there are real differences if you are aware of them. And the shoes of course – he should look at what his lateral colleagues & the higher ups do for shoes, and mimic that…unless the CEO is in flip flops, in which case don’t go that far!

      1. GOG11*

        This is a really good point. We went shopping this past weekend and purchased extra slim fitted shirts (he had one that he knew fit really well so we went to that store and bought more) and some pants as well as new shoes (old ones were ancient). The stuff he wore at his old job was very baggy and they didn’t fit well at all and this has made a big difference.

      2. Michele*

        That is a good point. When I was younger, I didn’t understand why some clothes were more expensive and I couldn’t see the difference. I came from a blue-collar background in a small town and had never really been exposed to those things. Now that I am in my 40s, I see a big difference in the quality of a cheap shirt vs a more expensive shirt.

    5. LAI*

      I work in a field where the dress code is always pretty casual so this advice may not apply to more professional environments, but personally, I would say that if he feels better wearing the tie, then he should continue doing so. My first job out of college was at a university, and I was only about a year older than most of the students I was working with (and younger than some), so I made an effort to dress more professionally than everyone else in my office and it helped me feel more confident. Now that I’ve been working for a while, I don’t do it all the time but I still try to dress more professionally at least one or two days per week just because I like doing it.

    6. Meg*

      My BF also looks quite young and has a senior job. So he grew a beard! Really helps. :)

      1. GOG11*

        He has a beard now, too! He’d never had one before, but decided (partly due to my prodding…) to grow a beard this winter and it’s bumped him into his early twenties!

      2. Fuzzy*

        Depending on the job, beard may not be the right choice. I know people who have been “asked” to shave their beards because it looked “unprofessional.”

        1. Hlyssande*

          I think it might depend on the beard grooming. Well-trimmed and shaped beard? Very nice. Giant unkempt lumberjack beard? Not so much, professionally speaking.

          At least that’s how I see it.

          1. Natalie*

            I personally agree, but it’s worth knowing that some companies are quite anti-facial-hair. At least until the early 2000s you couldn’t have a beard or mustache at Disney (it may have since changed).

  13. BRR*

    Second question for everybody, how do you job hunt while on a PIP (or in my case a pre-PIP)? I can probably schedule a phone interview during my lunch (I am flexible with when I can take it) but my two questions are time off and references. I’m assuming it doesn’t look good for me to take time off right now. Also if I do get fired I get to cash out my vacation time. Regarding contacting my current employer during a reference check, from what I’ve read on here it’s just to make sure you’re not about to be fired. I’m worried that if they say I’m being monitored for work quality and that I could lose an offer. Thoughts???

    Alison, I sent this to you a couple weeks ago, if it’s in your queue feel free to delete this.

    1. Unmitigated Gal*

      Do you have sick time you can take for interviews, rather than vacation? Or, see if you can schedule your interviews before or after work; many places are willing to accommodate that.

      Regarding references, it is not unusual for people not to list their current job as a reference because they don’t want the company/boss to know they are leaving. Maybe you could ask someone you’ve worked with at your current company, other than your manager, to be a reference?

      1. Mz. Puppie*

        Honestly, if BRR is in a performance-improvement situation, even sick time will be looked at askance. They will assume BRR is not really sick. ANY time off during this period will be a big strike against. I think OP is going to have to try for after-work interviews and hope to be able to make that happen (assuming that the original job is worth holding onto and working to keep).

  14. TotesMaGoats*

    Ackkk! Does this mean? I had my in person last week. Went great. Got a call a week later, asking permission to contact my refs, including my current supervisor. I asked for information on the compensation package since I don’t have a salary number from them yet. The rest of the benefits I know and like. The salary number is the determining factor. They know how much I make now via employment application and it being publicly available. If I knew the salary and was happy with it I would move forward with giving my current supervisor up but if the salary doesn’t work, I don’t want to burn bridges.

    Hi Totes,

    I don’t know if HR gave you the attached summary of benefits, but if not, here you go. If you have specific questions, please let me know and I will get the answer. (On the other hand, please feel free to contact our HR office if you prefer.) I would like to talk with you briefly over the phone regarding what you have written, because the situation is different (in a good way) from what we originally understood. I completely understand about your reluctance to contact your supervisor before knowing as much information as you can glean from this process. Yet I’m unable to go too much further before the most important reference is checked. So, we’re both in sort of a catch-22.

    1. Sunshine Brite*

      Did you specifically ask about the salary? I could see a non HR person thinking of compensation package as the benefits.

      1. TotesMaGoats*

        I did and he didn’t know what it was.

        I just had a convo with the hiring manager/vice provost. Good conversation. They were seriously under paying the position with the budgeted amount from HR and fought back. He wouldn’t tell me exactly what the new salary is but is going to talk to HR to see if they can get “close” to what I make. Close has to be a couple thousand because I can’t drop more than that. He understands that if I give my supervisor info out and can’t take the job (if offered) then I’d screw myself in current job.

        1. lawsuited*

          The thing is: what does the hiring manager/HR have to lose by telling you whether they can get within $2k of your current salary before talking to your boss? If the talk with your boss goes badly, the deal’s off anyway. If the talk goes well, then you move forward in the process which would have included, presumably, telling you the salary for the position. I don’t think this is a catch 22. I think this is they-don’t-kn0w-what-the-salary-for-the-position-is.

      1. TotesMaGoats*

        I think that the vice provost is in the dark with some of this as he’s going to the HR VP for information. Why he doesn’t know what the number is…is concerning.

  15. YandO*

    After college I moved to a large city on East Coast. Three years later I moved back home “to find myself”. Now, it’s 14 months later and I finally think I know want I want. First thing, I would like to move west Colorado, California, Washington, but I care more about the job than a location. I’ve been applying to places and getting some positive response, but they always ask me “why do you want to move” and I never have an answer they seem to be satisfied with. I say I love the area and climate and I have lots of friends in that city.

    How do I approach it? I don’t have a legit reason like: family, partner, etc. There is a health reason that I am not willing to disclose and it only matters a little.

    To be honest, I don’t really care where I go, as long as the job is right in a semi-urban setting with access to beautiful landscape.

    1. Stephanie*

      Oh man, I struggle with this too. Job’s more important to me, too, so I also give probably overly generic answers like “I came to [City X] once and liked it!”

    2. Christian Troy*

      I usually tell people I am more than happy to relocate for the right opportunity and usually mention something specific as to why I would move (for example, “UColorado is a great medical school and would give me the opportunity to gain more research experience.”). I don’t think saying you’d move for a great professional opportunity is a bad reason to move.

      1. YandO*

        I heard a lot that hiring managers worry about the person not liking and leaving quickly to move back?

        I am leaving a lot of family behind, which I guess they don’t need to know. However, they always ask why I moved back home and I usually say to be with family, which is 50% true. But it was a number of things, my job was a dead end and there were no right opportunities for me at the time. With my BF and parents here I was going to take my time and look for a career change. I ended up change my course drastically when my current job came up.

        I feel like that does not inspire confidence in the fact that I am stable and will stay for long period of time, but that’s what I really-really-really want. I want stability and be at a company for a long time. I feel my history says otherwise.

        1. Christian Troy*

          I have applied and interviewed for jobs all across the US and every hiring manager and company is different. Some managers are used to people moving for positions at their company and some aren’t and it freaks them out. I don’t think it’s terrible to say you moved home because you changed careers or that you want to move to Denver for the right job, but I think you have to specifically explain why this is the best opportunity for you and why this company is so amazing. Alison has some posts in the archives about long distance job searches that you may find useful too.

        2. Treena Kravm*

          Ahh I see the problem. How can they tell you “moved back home?” Or are you supplying that information? Don’t tell them that the reason you moved back home is to be with family. You were home, left for 3 years, came back, now you want to leave again. What’s to stop you from leaving in a couple of years to go back home because you miss family? Even though you’re thinking you want stability, that answer does not say so to the interviewer.

          If you can’t avoid them knowing you moved back home for a year, how about:
          “After spending a few years in (east cost city), I realized that I’m probably more suited to the west coast. I’ve taken about a year to really think about specifically where I would want to live, and (west coast city) is one of my top choices. It really seems like the kind of place that I would want to settle down and plant some roots.” This is thoughtful, and addresses their concerns about you leaving while complimenting their city (which presumably, they like).

          And if they don’t need to know the family stuff,
          “I was seeking different opportunities outside my field in (east coast city) and I landed in a position in (hometown) in a drastically different field that I’ve ended up really enjoying. So while I know I’m solid on the field, I know that that (hometown) is not the place I want to settle down in. I’ve known for a while that the west coast was probably where I would enjoy living the most, so I took a year to really think about specifically where I would want to live, and (west coast city) is one of my top choices. It really seems like the kind of place that I would want to settle down and plant some roots.”

          1. Persephone Mulberry*

            Yes to all of this. If they believe you are in your current location because of family ties, they are going to want to hear a really compelling reason why you now want to move away. Treena’s second paragraph script is perfect.

          2. YandO*

            This is so great. Thank you! you really helped me to look/think about it in a different way.

            Moving home is obvious because I went to college here and now have a job in the same city….

            1. Treena Kravm*

              You’re welcome! Keep in mind that it’s not obvious at all! Lots of people go to college in a completely different city and get a job in that city right after college/later.

            2. Tau*

              Seconding Treena Kravm that it’s not at all obvious from that! I might be getting a job in the same city I did my undergraduate degree. It’s not my hometown, which is actually in a different country and not visible from my CV at all – I went abroad for university.

              (Which, incidentally, also seems to me a decent answer to the relocation question, which I’ve had to field a few times – if you’ve moved around in the past, you can talk about how you never had any problems with that and have always been willing to move for new opportunities.)

    3. Lily in NYC*

      Just say you have visited friends there multiple times and completely fell in love with the area. Honestly, I don’t think anyone truly cares about the answer unless it is something completely crazy, like you moved there because a psychic or your cult leader told you to.

    4. Turanga Leela*

      If the job matters more to you than the area, I’d emphasize why you think the job is a good enough fit for you to move there. The answer to “Why do you want to move?” is, more or less, “Because I’m interested in this job.”

      I’d structure it like this: “This job sounds like exactly what I’m looking for because [X]. I don’t have anything tying me to [hometown], and I love the area where you are because [great city, climate, friends].”

    5. BRR*

      If you honestly know you won’t have a problem living there, I think lying is ok*. “I have some family here” “I have a lot of friends who have settled in this area” “I have been here multiple times and really enjoyed the city” If you can, mention the attractiveness of the specific job/company. Try to also distance where you’re living now if you can do it politely.

      1. Sara*

        I agree with this. Don’t spin an elaborate web of lies, but some exaggeration won’t hurt anyone.

      2. Mints*

        Yeah, I think a little lying is fine here too.

        And whatever the city is good for, say you’d like to “Return to” that thing. (Return to somewhere where nature is closer, Return to a city with better nightlife, Return to a city with more family values, idk). It makes it seem like you know what you’re getting into

        1. Treena Kravm*

          This is really good wording. Anything to show you actually know a little something about the place.
          For really popular places (Denver, Seattle, SF, etc.) I would definitely tell some white lies about why it’s awesome with some research ahead of time. You don’t want the interviewer to ask if you like some famous thing/place in the city and you have no clue what they’re talking about.

          For my current job, I had a Skype interview and had never been to the small city before. I was honest with my now-boss, and told her I’d never been to the small city, but I had googled a little bit and told her I was excited that it had one of the largest municipal parks in the country. She was apparently blown away that someone would research the city, not just the job. I guess most people sort of resume-bomb in terms of location, but I move to a new city every new job I get, so I take the location very seriously. I’ve never said, “Nope, can’t take this job because I don’t like the location.” but I definitely do my due diligence, especially since I’ve never stepped foot in the city until I have accepted the offer and I’m looking for a place to live.

    6. AntherHRPro*

      Typically saying that you are comfortable moving for the right opportunity is perfectly acceptable. The one exception I have found is for folks relocating from the east coast to the west coast. It is such a big move and some employers (mine has experienced this) end up hiring folks who then leave a year or two later to move back east because they want to be closer to family.

      So how to respond to their questions? Still focus on moving for the right opportunity, but stress that you have a strong interest in moving to the west coast for personal reasons (in your case, it is your health). It does not matter what those reasons are and they are unlikely to probe further. They just want to make sure that something is going to keep you there beyond the job.

      1. Treena Kravm*

        Or they never show up! Another manager at my org hired someone from NY for a job in CA and gave her 3-4 months for the move, and then 2 weeks before she was supposed to start, she decided to not accept the job to be closer to family. ARRRGH makes it SO much harder on people who actually WANT to make cross-country moves.

  16. North Carolina*

    Does anyone in the AAM community work in the North Carolina public university system? I just applied for a job I’m very interested in, but am (a) an external candidate and (b) an out of state candidate. I had heard something about it being very difficult to get into NC university roles due to budget freezes and lots of internal candidates shuffling around as the only means to get raises. I would love any insight!

    1. J.B.*

      There’s been a lot of moving around but if I’ve learned one thing, it’s that you can never tell from outside. Don’t worry about the out of state thing, other than expecting to pay your own way to an interview. Good luck!

    2. Anonermous*

      I work tangentially to it and my partner works within it.

      To be blunt, funding is a nightmare. I know universities all over the country are feeling the squeeze, but NC is nosediving so quickly. When I first moved here, I saw quite a few entry level jobs that I applied for and never got. Now that I’m working and have developed new skills, I see fewer and fewer. It’s heartbreaking because NC had a reputation for having a strong public university system. And it still does in many regards, but it’s being cut off at the knees. Professors are fleeing or looking to escape what they fear is a sinking ship. The legislature here seems very aggressive about reducing funding to the college system.

      There were rumors that our university was going to close its medical school. The hospital and university are pretty much the major professional, non retail/construction/manual labor employers here, so you can imagine how nerve-wracking that was to hear about.

      I am not sure being out of state will hurt much, but just be aware that the UNC system is going through a lot of big battles right now.

      1. North Carolina*

        That is heartbreaking! But very good to know — thank you so much for your response.

        The job I applied to had an application period of maybe 3 days, so I assumed that either they had already identified an internal candidate or that openings were so scarce that they received record numbers of applications in a short amount of time.

        1. Anonermous*

          There are still programs that are growing and some groups are working very hard to keep improving the system, but the political climate makes things very difficult. You’re not even allowed to publish anything on sea level rise.

          I live near one of the less prestigious UNC schools and things may be better in the flagship schools.

  17. Question from Ontario, Canada*

    I have two questions:
    1. My husband has been relocated to another province and will report his new job on June 1st. I will stay behind to sell our house and likely join him in late July. How do I inform my current job? Note: it’s a government position and I only started 1 year ago. It’s a place where no one leaves willingly and my boss will be very disappointed. Furthermore, we are starting our major busy season now. Advice?

    2. I have a side job doing basic work for my previous employer, about 5 hours a week. I’m on contract with them and have wanted to end it for a while. I’ve tried meeting up with the managers in person, but to no avail. Do I just send them an email essentially saying “here is my 3 week notice to end this informal contract”?

    1. Yep*

      Yep – your schedule shouldn’t be held hostage to their inability to meet up in person when all you want to do is put in your notice. Good luck!!

    2. Colette*

      I assume you don’t work for the federal government or that if you do, you’ve already looked into transferring.

      If you told your manager you were going to leave and she said, “ok, today is your last day”, would that be ok? Is your timeline firm enough to let her know you’ll be gone at the end of July?

      Is working remotely an option?

    3. BRR*

      1) Has anybody else left willingly, did they work their notice period or were fired? Don’t worry about your boss being disappointed, it’s business. If you can trust them I would let them know sooner so they can prepare.

      2) I would email asking for a phone call.

      1. Question from Ontario, Canada*

        Thanks all!
        1) No one has willingly left in 12 years from my organization. I want to give them as much notice as I can. Also, it’ll be very obvious once the ‘for sale’ sign goes up on our lawn since coworkers live down the street. I wan to approach it like “husband was transferred… I will be here until at least end of June, possibly later…” I don’t think they can just walk me out since I’m union and if I have give a hard and fast end date, it’ll be around July 10th.

        2) I agree, I’ve actually asked for phone calls but the people I work with aren’t very flexible and often traveling for work. I am going to ask again and then call myself to explain the situation. I just have to put in my notice at day job first, since it’s a small town and word will get out quickly so I want to control it as much as possible.

        @Colette: Nope, not federal gov., I actually will be doing my Masters via online studies starting in September (already accepted to a good school). The village where we’re moving to does not have any positions or work available… it has about 8 people total living there, the closest town is more than 1 hour away. Working remotely for my current organization is not an option unfortunately.

  18. Fundraiser*

    Question for everybody, I’m pretty sure there are some development (fundraising) people on here. I currently do prospect research and want to move to a frontline fundraising position. I have two years of experience in my current position at a highly ranked university which makes people impressed ( I know it sounds pompous but that’s just been my personal experience). Before that I worked for 4 months doing both prospect research and assisting with planned giving at another organization where I had interned doing only prospect research. My planned giving boss was a demon and got me fired. I got my current job because my research boss liked me and could serve as a reference.

    I make a fair amount of money now so it’s tough to find a position that both pays well without a track record of closing gifts. Can anybody suggest how to approach it while applying for positions?

    1. Gillian*

      I’ve only done the development communications/special events portions of fundraising, which are very different, so I’m not sure I could be of much help. Does your area have an AFP chapter? Both the national organization and local chapter have been helpful to me when looking to step outside my comfort zone or learn a new skill.

      If you’re at a prestigious university, you might be able to talk about your interactions with important community members or regents or board members and point to that as proof of being able to manage conversations with the types of people who might be your donors, but without having actually made the ask before, it may be difficult. Sorry I’m not of more help!

      1. Fundraiser*

        Unfortunately I don’t have interactions with any donors. I am going to try and explain that I am ok making the ask because I know people can afford. Also that by researching people with many different occupations I can make conversation about a lot of industries.

    2. TFS*

      While you don’t have the frontline experience, your career and work is dedicated to assessing whether people have the capacity and inclination to give to your organization. I would focus on the way those insights, coupled with your people skills, will make you a great fundraiser. Good prospect researchers know a lot about fundraising–maybe more than some fundraisers (although 2 years of experience is not all that much in the grand scheme of things). You may also be able to point to some metrics showing how work you’ve done as a prospect researcher has led to gifts, or talk about how you work very closely with fundraisers at your org. You might also want to look into volunteering in your community in order to gain more hands-on experience.

      1. Also a Fundraiser*

        A word of caution: be careful not to over emphasize how much your research role gives you insights into frontline fundraising. Oftentimes there can be a gap between what researchers believe their understanding to be versus what frontline/managers believe their understanding to be. It’s better to show that you are informed because you’ve actively sought out information, not because because you believe your research background has prepared you for the frontline.

    3. Persephone Mulberry*

      Tangent question for Fundraiser: a local university has an opening for a propsect research officer, and it’s really hard to tell from the ad what exactly this job entails on a day to day basis. Can you shed any light? I’m interested in fundraising and development but *don’t* want to be the front line “asker.”

      1. Fundraiser*

        It can vary by institution. The vast vast majority of the time you’re not going to ever see a donor. That’s not what you’re hired for and it’s not popular for people to know they’re being researched.

        The majority of the job is researching individuals (sometimes it’s corporations or foundations, the job ad should specify and it all overlaps a little). There’s usually in-depth and not so in-depth research. You will have to to find real estate holdings, if there is public stock, other charitable giving, foundation fillings, and then try to estimate what they can give. There are tools for all of those things. A lot of places will have you write your findings up so writing skills are crucial. You get to research a variety of people which keeps it interesting. It’s basically a combination of facebook stalking and watching lifestyles of the rich and famous.

        Some places you will have to meet with the askers and discuss who they’re asking. You talk about their “portfolio” from a data stand point. This will be called prospect management in the job description. Please let me know if you have any more questions, I am more than happy to answer them.

      2. Florida*

        If you are interested in development but want to be behind the scenes, you could also consider grant writing, annual fund (which usually includes direct mail and telemarketing), or event management (although that might involve some asking).

        I worked at a very large organization that had a lot of highbrow events. The prospect researcher had to know all about the people who would be attending the event. She followed the president around and told the president, “This woman up here on the left is Minnie Bucks, the president of Fancy Dancy Teapots. They donated $5 million to us last year. Her daughter is attending Teapot University and studying teapot design.” Then the researcher would back out of the scene until the president finished talking to that person. I always thought that was a cool aspect of her job because it seemed like an undercover operation. She did this maybe 3-4 days a year. The rest of her job was sitting behind a computer doing research.

    4. Also a Fundraiser*

      I’m in frontline fundraising, and do a lot of hiring for entry/mid-level frontline fundraisers. A few thoughts for you:
      – It’s going to be easier to transition to a frontline role at a smaller nonprofit than a large institution, where the pool of experienced candidates is larger.
      – Some shops do have frontline positions that are below the director level, and are willing to hire those without as much experience.
      – Think carefully about where and how you want to build your career. If a position at a quality shop opens up that would put you on the frontline track, it may be worth it to take a small step back in salary. If you are good at frontline, you will have the opportunity to make up that gap within a few short years. My guess is that this transition could end up being very difficult if you’re not allowing for any room in salary.
      – Do some informational interviews with frontline fundraisers so that you have a realistic understanding of what the job entails. Candidates lose their competitiveness when they’re unable to articulate a true understanding of the work of the position.
      – Also consider a job that puts you closer to the frontline that you could do for a few years to make you more competitive (special events, donor relations, etc)

      Good luck!

    5. erd*

      I do digital fundraising but I got my experience basically on accident. It’s hard to get in front of donors (IRL or online) when you don’t have experience. Even though you are in fundraising, you’ve grown in prospect research to the point where it’s hard to take the entry-level roles that lead front-line fundraising. Not quite golden handcuffs (though who knows, I won’t pretend to know your salary!) but maybe silver handcuffs :) A lot of entry-level development positions pay pretty poorly.

      Can you volunteer at events for your organization? That’s a great way to get in front of people. Is there anyone who can mentor you? The few people I know well doing face-to-face fundraising started out in events.

    6. Florida*

      Are you in a position to offer strategic suggestions about cultivation? For example, after you research an individual, you could suggest that “based on this individual’s background, interest, and capacity, our next step could be ___.” I don’t know your workplace, so I don’t know how that would come across.

      If money is important to you, and it sounds like it is (nothing wrong with that!), then I would focus on larger organizations such as higher ed, hospitals, performing arts centers, etc. Social services organizations pay much less than those do.

      Have you thought about volunteering on a fundraising committee for a local nonprofit? That would give you the frontline fundraising experience. Another avenue would be to take a position involving the phone. The assistant to a major gift officer would have a lot of personal contact with donors, but it’s often on the phone. Another option would be alumni relations or donor stewardship. Those people are not closers, but they have donor contact. That might be a good transition to frontline fundraising.

      I know others suggested that you consider smaller organizations, but I also think you should consider staying in higher ed – a lot of it depends on the hiring manager. When hiring for a major gift officer, some managers think that a candidate with higher ed experience is a better hire than a candidate with frontline social service experience. Others think that the frontline experience (regardless of mission) is more important. If you are at a large university, you might be an attractive candidate for a frontline position at a smaller school.

      I think you are right about two years from a prestigious organization is a huge benefit. Two years is a long time in fundraising. Sadly, the field has a lot of turnover (check out Penelope Burk’s research on this). I’ve seen people hired for director-level positions with no nonprofit experience and not a lot of work experience. Also, it doesn’t matter if you are the janitor at the White House, you still work at the White House, which has prestige and impresses people. It sounds like your university might be like that. This is where a smaller, less prestigious school might hire you because you must be good if you worked for Big Prestigious University.

      Depending on your office environment, you might want to make it know that you are interested in moving into frontline fundraising when a position becomes available. If you have a culture where there is a lot of promoting from within and helping people grow, I would recommend that you make it known. In other cultures, you might want to keep quiet. But if people know, they might help you get more involved (including you in meetings, etc.)

      Good luck with it. Keep us posted.

  19. Nervous Accountant*

    Coming back with good news for once…..I got an offer to be made permanent/regular! This is my very first non seasonal/non temp job ever. I’ve been working towards this goal for years! It feels so surreal.

    Wonderful start to my favorite month :-)

    1. Carrie in Scotland*

      Good for you Nervous Accountant! Hope you get to treat yourself a little bit in celebration :)

    2. GOG11*

      WONDERFUL! Congratulations, Nervous Accountant! Is this in the placement you were in before (the one with the challenging colleagues) or a new one? Sorry if you’ve already said!

      1. Nervous Accountant*

        The one with the coworkers who didn’t like me, yes!!!! I’m still happy though lol

    3. Canadian Maternity Leave Question*

      That is so wonderful!! Feels good doesn’t it! Congratulations :) I’m sure it is a well-deserved promotion.

  20. angel tears*

    I heard of a little-known hiring secret. Someone told me that companies don’t like to hire previously intereviewed rejected candidates. I asked why, the answer is unclear. Now, I know this is by no means a universal truth. Heck, I myself have been hired by companies that intereviewed and rejected me before. But from the myriad interviews and applications I’ve gone through, I do think there is a lot of truth in this phenomenon.

    What does anyone else think? Agree? Disagree? What might be a reason behind this?

    1. GOG11*

      I don’t think this is quite right… though many positions do have a minimum set of requirements, meeting that bar doesn’t mean you get hired and not meeting it doesn’t mean the opposite. The strength and fit of the other candidates against whom you’re competing defines who a company hires. You may be a great fit, but not the best fit. Or the needs of the position may change. Or you may be hiring for a different, better fitting position. Or the candidate may have different skills/qualifications by the next time the position is open.

      If this is within one hiring cycle, i.e., we met with this person and they didn’t have the bare minimum but we didn’t find out until the interview, I could see this being applicable.

    2. Sandy*

      When we hire, it really depends on why we rejected the person in the first place. If we just had another outstanding candidate and it was a tough decision, then I’d be willing to hire them into a different role down the road.

      If we rejected the person in a “oh heck no!” kind of situation (either in the initial round or after an interview), then we wouldn’t waste our time going through the steps again.

      Problem is, as a job seeker, you have no way of knowing which one of those applies to your candidacy.

      1. Treena Kravm*

        This. I suspect whoever told you this “secret” was referring to the “Oh heck no” candidates. Of course they’re not going to get called in again. They were dressed inappropriately, were rude to the administrative staff, etc. Not much of a secret, IMO. If you behave wildly inappropriately enough to be remembered in a poor light, it’s sort of a guarantee that you’re not going to be given a second chance.

      2. Michele*

        It is the same here. If someone is rejected because they seem like they would be hard to work with or for some other major flaw, they will never stand a chance. However, if something was a close call, but someone was just more qualified, they do.

        I will add that if someone turns down an offer then reapplies at a later time, my boss will refuse to consider them.

    3. Lily in NYC*

      That’s not how we do it here! If someone was in the running (like second or third choice) for a position, we will often call them the next time something opens up to see if they are still interested. Or we will pass their info on to another dept. that is hiring and tell them that we came close to making him/her an offer. Those people often end up getting the job.

    4. the_scientist*

      my current job was a second interview with the same team! I mentioned it explicitly in my cover letter, as in “since being rejected for this job, here are the things I’ve done to make me a stronger candidate”. Obviously, I got the job, so it worked!

      Like Sunflower said, I think it depends on the reason- if you come across as unprofessional, inappropriate, incapable of conforming to professional norms and unprepared for your interview, you probably won’t be invited back. On the other hand, if you are professional, prepared, and give a good interview, but they go with someone who has more experience? I think any reasonable hiring manager would keep you in mind and invite you back if you apply again. I had a different interview for a government job where I didn’t get the job, but the hiring manager offered to give me some feedback and he said that he’ll be sure to bring me in for an interview if he sees my resume, because he was impressed with my interview, but they ultimately hired a person with significantly more experience.

    5. Artemesia*

      Someone I know just got a fabulous high level very highly paid offer from a place he was rejected by two years ago. As with everything — context.

    6. Erin*

      I do not know the thought process on the hiring side of things, but from the other side…I was once rejected twice by the same company. I interviewed for a job and was essentially told I was second choice, so I didn’t make it.

      A year later they called me back to interview for the same position (which wasn’t advertised anywhere) because the other person they’d hired was leaving. I was foolishly optimistic that I’d be almost a shoo-in, but they rejected me again. They seemed to feel badly about it and apparently are still holding onto my resume, but I would definitely hesitate to interview with them a third time.

      Perhaps I should have approached it like the_scientist did and specified how my job skills had improved in the meantime.

    7. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I’ve hired a bunch of people who I’d previously rejected for a different role (and maybe for the same role, although my memory is hazier on that). Their ongoing interest in working with the organization is usually a good thing, not a bad one.

    8. BRR*

      I’m sure people do it because people do a lot of dumb things but I think it’s uncommon. When people are interviewed, the company thinks it’s reasonably possible for the candidate to do the work required.

    9. MaryMary*

      I think it depends why someone wasn’t hired and at what stage that decision was made. If someone doesn’t make it through the phone screen, they’re probably not going to get hired if they reapply (unless their situation has drastically changed). But I’ve hired people into the same role they were previously rejected from. In one situation, we had two strong candidates, and it was a judgement call as to which we’d hire. If we’d had two open positions we would have hired them both. We ended up choosing the candidate we thought would fit in better with the current team. A couple months later when another associate left the team, we immediately contacted our runner up from the previous round of interviews. Luckily he was still available and interested, and we hired him right away. It was also terrific to bring in a new hire fairly quickly, instead of spending weeks/months reviewing resumes and doing interviews.

    10. Jen RO*

      My department hired a previously-rejected candidate and she’s a rock star.

      Initially we only had one position, and had to choose between a candidate with experience and a candidate who was very enthusiastic, but did not have any relevant experience. We went with the experienced one. A couple of months later, the same position opened on a different team, and we reached out to the other person. The two have different strengths, but they are both doing great more than a year after the fact.

    11. Anx*

      In my experience, I’ve never been hired where I had been previously not-hired.

      This is a little nerve-wracking because I live in an area with limited opportunities and there are only a handful of companies in my field.

    12. Cristina*

      It could be a data/filter issue rather than a conscious decision. In our system when we fill out the feedback on a candidate it asks “right for the role” and “appropriate for another role.” As a hiring manager, if they’re not right for my role, and there are no imminent positions for the person, I mark no to both. That doesn’t mean they should never be considered again, just that there are no current roles that fit. But I could see how that might filter them out for future roles. If they reapplied though they’d still be considered.

    13. Otter box*

      Well, it’s not an absolute rule everywhere, because I was hired a year after I was initially turned down for the same position. I indicated in my cover letter and email message that I had applied and been interviewed for the same job previously. It was a little nerve-wracking not knowing whether they’d rejected me because they hated me and I bombed the interview, or because they just wanted someone with more experience the first time around, but they eventually called me in for interviews and I think everything moved quickly because they were already familiar with me. In my case, it worked out well, and I wouldn’t be surprised if this is a little more common these days, with so many qualified candidates applying for each open position, for someone who was initially choice #2 or #3 to become choice #1 later on.

    14. Clever Name*

      I interviewed twice for the company I currently work for. The first time I interviewed I just wasn’t a good fit for the position they had open. The second time, about 3 years later, I was a perfect fit for a different position they had open then and they hired me.

  21. Not Today Satan*

    A couple weeks ago I had an interview that went well. I met with two managers separately for one hour each. This afternoon I’ll have a phone conversation with another manager. I’m a little confused by the order reversal of the phone/in person interviews, but in any case I’m glad I’m moving to the next step, because this is a job I really want.

    1. Lily in NYC*

      The person might be out of town. Or just prefers phone interviews for a random reason. I bet it’s really just for a silly logistical reason. Good luck! Your name always makes me laugh when I see it.

    2. Michele*

      Good luck. It could be that the second person was unavailable or that they only serve as a final check on candidates. One of our higher-ups does something like that. He get scheduled last, and if he gets good feedback on a candidate he will interview them. If he gets bad feedback, he won’t.

  22. AnonToday*

    Hello all – I’m a usual poster but I’m going anonymous for this question.

    I have a total of 9 years of FT experience, including 2.5 years at my current company which is in a different field than my previous work. For several reasons I’m looking to leave my current company and ideally I’d like to make a move that would be a promotion from where I am now. However, I’m not even sure if I want a management role, and I don’t have much management experience, aside from managing projects, leading a large company committee and managing 1 direct report for a year who was a temp employee.

    As I search for roles i may be interested in, I’m seeing a lot of roles for managers. Is it worth it for me to even apply to these, given my lack of experience managing direct reports? Should I keep trying to find individual contributor roles? Those seem to be fewer & fewer the more experience you have, almost everything is looking for a manager. And finally, I’m looking for roles both in my current profession, as well as the hands-on technical work I used to do, which I haven’t done in almost 3 years – do you think it’s a waste of time to look for those roles?

    1. Treena Kravm*

      I don’t think anyone will tell you it’s a waste of time to apply, but I would probably figure out what your top choice would be–technical work, contributor role, or manager? If it doesn’t matter too much, and you’re caring more about company culture, salary, benefits etc., then I would continue to apply to all 3 types.

      And for what it’s worth, 1 year of managing a temp is not nothing! Do any of the job descriptions tell you how big a team the position would be managing? I would focus my energy on applying to jobs with smaller teams. It’s easier to make the jump that way.

    2. Graciela Adrianna*

      Keep in mind the word manager doesn’t always mean you manage people. Where I work, the manager title often gets added to the next senior level of individual contributor, but it is said that they manage process. Don’t eliminate things unless you have to.

  23. AvonLady Barksdale*

    I interviewed someone yesterday and it left me flabbergasted. The candidate was smart, polished, and very personable, but he asked me no questions about the job and none about my job/role in the company. His two major questions (after I gave him an, “Ask me anything!” opening, which came because he wasn’t asking ANYTHING) were about his candidacy, specifically about his own position in the hiring process. I was so thrown for a loop that I answered truthfully and said that the decision is up to my boss (the hiring manager) and I really couldn’t say because I haven’t met with everyone yet. I tried to back-track and get him to ask me about the role itself, but I got nothing. I had asked him about his impressions of the role based on his earlier conversations, why he’s thinking about moving on from his current gig, all the basics, but he didn’t seem to care about the job itself, just about his own chances of getting said job.

    What have you done in these situations? How did you deflect these questions?

    1. Lily in NYC*

      Is this for an entry-level position? Because I didn’t ask questions during my first few interviews after college. I just didn’t know any better (and the internet wasn’t a thing yet so it wasn’t as easy to find out all this awesome advice).

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        It’s a junior position and he has about 2 years of full-time work experience. I didn’t ask questions either early in my career– and that’s why I was so taken aback! I would certainly never have asked about where I stood in the process. It was just so… weirdly forward.

        1. Artemesia*

          With a very junior applicant I would chalk it up to inexperience and naivete; some people get good advice about the application process and others don’t. If everything else looks good I wouldn’t hold it against him.

        2. Lily in NYC*

          Yeah, that part could be a red flag. And I also thought that there are plenty of junior employees who do their research and know to ask questions in an interview – so I guess I have mixed feelings about this dude!

        3. Persephone Mulberry*

          I think this is a VERY typical question for someone who isn’t very seasoned yet and isn’t sure what to ask but know they’re supposed to ask *something*, and also tends to be one of those “suggested questions” from mediocre job advice articles who still believe it’s important to “close the sale”.

    2. Treena Kravm*

      I think people easily fall into the “I WANT A JOB” mindset and they think any type of enthusiasm is equally valued, even the type that doesn’t really demonstrate they’re interested!

      If I were frustrated enough, I would probably ask pointedly, “Is there anything you were wondering about the position? I’m getting the sense you’re not all that interested in learning how the role functions.” If anything, that will be direct feedback about what he needs to do in his next interview.

      But agreed with Lily, for entry-level positions I’d cut some slack. It’s really hard to know that you should be asking these questions. Once you’ve worked somewhere an know you love X but hate Y, it’s easier to come up with questions.

      1. Sunshine Brite*

        ^^ This. I know at the job I’m at now I’m sure I asked some position specific roles but not too much because I got the sense there was a bunch of different avenues and they weren’t sure where everyone in the hiring class would end up. And I just started to seriously want out of my previous position to the point where I almost took a paycut which wouldn’t have been good with my husband’s employment situation at the time. The I WANT A JOB mindset can really be overpowering if you just want something else, anything else.

    3. fposte*

      I hire a lot of early-career people, and I found that I started getting very different responses when I changed how I asked for questions. “So, do you have any questions for us?” gets a lot of “No, I think I’m good.” “We’ve asked you a lot of questions; now it’s your turn to ask us some. What more would you like to know about the job or the workplace?” gets questions every time.

      Don’t know if that’s your situation or you just had an unquestioning candidate. But the first made it seem like “Do you have any problems” and made a “No” seem desirable, while the second makes it seem like it’s part of the process and a “No” would be inadvisable.

      1. Anx*

        Although I usually ask questions in interviews, I can totally see why the second phrasing gets so many more questions.

        I’m naturally very inquisitive, probably to a fault. Outside of interviews, “do you have any questions” is a pretty standard why of closing a meeting or a lecture or conversation and may seem more like a polite gesture than a true invitation for questions. I tend not to ask questions even when I’m curious sometimes in an attempt to be polite or not keep people longer.

      2. land of oaks*

        wow this is a really good suggestion! I know that for my first few years in the work world, I definitely felt like the former: I said “no, I’m good!” because I felt like having questions would make me sound difficult.

    4. Jen RO*

      When I was first job searching I had to really, really wrack my brain to come up with some questions. I had never had a job, so I had no idea what to ask! I am sure I was That Girl – “nope, I’m good, everything’s clear!”. Of course nothing was clear, but I wasn’t about to admit that I just wanted a job, any job, and I didn’t understand half of what the interviewer was saying. I was also terrified of the idea of interviewing.

      I’m very good at my job now (even though I had to fake enthusiasm during the interview), I know what questions to ask, and I’m starting to actually enjoy interviewing. I’d cut the guy some slack, he sounds young and inexperienced.

  24. This is Me Not Being Me*

    I got it I got it I GOT THE JOB I WAS HOPING FOR!!!

    They called yesterday with a verbal offer, email/physical to follow today or Monday. I do have to run the numbers to be sure, but based on what I already know, I’m pretty confident the numbers will be _just fine_. The salary offer was above what I was hoping for, actually, so the benefits would have to be terrible – and they’re known for having excellent benefits, and everything I did hear during the interview process (because one of my interviewers talked them up, all unasked) backed that up.

    I can go back to being me soon for everything, when I’m not hiding the job search.

    I got the job!

    (Offer contingent on background check. Not concerned about the background check, as there is nothing to find there that would mess with it.)

    1. This is Me Not Being Me*

      And, Alison? THANK YOU. Your advice and guides helped a lot with my resume, cover letter, and interview prep.

    2. This is Me Not Being Me*

      Thank you, everyone.

      The team members I met were awesome, the job and product sounds great, the campus and building is gorgeous, the benefits are nice, the manager works out of another location and was praised by the team members without prompting, and I will have a one-mile commute.

      One. Mile.

      I have fallen in a vat of…I don’t know, something good. (I know I should say I’ve “fallen in the cream”, but I’m lactose-intolerant so that doesn’t sound good. Yes, I’m weird. And very excited, and babbling.)

      1. Hlyssande*

        Oooooh, walkable and bike-able distance if you’re so inclined/able. Nice!

        1. This is Me Not Being Me*

          Yes! And I need to exercise more, and I like walking! I am super-excited about that. (And in fact, walking a mile will still be faster than driving my current commute…even if I somehow did my current commute with no traffic.)

    3. Steve G*

      Congrats! And I am jealous:-). I did NOT get the dream job I was hoping for, at least I don’t think I did, since the resume was 16 days ago………………………..

      1. This is Me Not Being Me*

        Thank you! Fingers crossed for you. I had the feeling they were moving fairly fast, and it’s still been…four weeks? Five? Something like that.

        Either way, I hope you find something awesome, and soon. :)

  25. Interview Coaching*

    How can I help my spouse prepare for an interview when they get defensive? My spouse’s original career goal was full-time professor. As it’s a lofty goal he has also been applying to non-professor jobs (he’s currently working retail and finishing his dissertation). I have several years of office experience where as his experience is all academic. He’s had a couple of interviews and I have helped him prep but every time he doesn’t practice his answers with me.

    Part of it is it’s awkward to say answers to your spouse, I get that. The other part is he doesn’t like receiving feedback from me. I am a good interviewer and have the track record to back me up, so I can be tough. But he’ll also deflect, hem and haw, or dismiss the basis of the question. I don’t think there’s been one question where he has just answered it. He got notice today of an interview for Monday, it’s really important that he does well because he is very interested in this job and the pay/benefits are amazing. He hasn’t had that much practice interviewing though. He’d be a great employee but interviewing isn’t his strength as he’s rather quiet, this job is a mild stretch for him, and is trained for academic interviewing.

    1. Anie*

      Well, you’ve found what won’t work, from the sound of it. So what else can you do that doesn’t involve you personally prepping him? Maybe you can suggest a friend he can do a mock interview with. Perhaps you could make a list of questions you feel are likely to be asked and simply give them to him.

      1. College Career Counselor*

        +1. Involving the spouse can be tricky in these situations. Do you have someone else versed in interviewing who doesn’t also have a personal relationship with him? And not to stereotype academics (much), but they’re experts in their field and sometimes carry that to OTHER fields, where it may not be as warranted. (I have had academics tell me to my face that the PhD entitles them to express opinions on ANYthing they feel like). Not saying that this is the case with your spouse, but academics often love to argue and re-frame and poke holes in whatever is presented (it’s part of the training), which can come across as defensive. As another thought, it may also be that your spouse feels some ambivalence about non-academic jobs, and this is playing out in the apparent defensiveness of his responses. That’s another thing that graduate school often socializes you to think: anything less than/different from tenure track is a failure.

        1. the gold digger*

          I have had academics tell me to my face that the PhD entitles them to express opinions on ANYthing they feel like

          My husband’s father, who has a PhD in English, was trying to convince our nephew that five times negative five was zero because the negative cancels out the positive.

          I really enjoyed being able to say bluntly and flatly, “Sly, you are wrong.”

          1. So Very Anonymous*

            On the flip side of that, I recently got twitted a little by a PhD for complaining about the weak teaching in a professional degree program because “Well, So Very, YOU have a PhD so YOU should have been able to teach yourself everything.” Yes, because my humanities PhD automatically makes me fluent in statistics… NOT EVEN A LITTLE. Believe me, I know my limitations.

        2. Interview Coaching*

          So much of this is right. He is that type of academic. He loves to be right and will be butt hurt about things just for the sake of being butt hurt (which is the perfect personality trait for interviewing :D).

          I do have a hunch he views a non-academic job as failure. Even though he went to a low ranked school, has no publications in peer reviewed journals, and his topic is so specific there will likely never be a job calling for it so he has to apply to broader job postings putting him up against more attractive candidates, academics cling on to hope (I call it Voldemort, they’re not allowed to talk about the chance of not getting a professorship). This is a company that hires a a lot of academics (he’s humanities and they’re humanities as well) for a department so he’s more open to this position when he found out he’d be working with fellow PhDs, but

          1. fposte*

            Have you posted here before about this? The situation sounds familiar, especially the publications thing. Is he preparing anything for publication now, and if not why not? Has he submitted proposals to presses about a book version of his dissertation? Is he prepared to do anything to make himself a more attractive candidate than he sounds even in the description of the person who loves him?

            I’m in armchair mode, so: is his defensiveness with you part of a fear of failing that led him not to publish and is setting back any other development efforts now?

            1. Interview Coaching*

              I have not, I think there are just too many academics in the same position haha.

              He is currently ABD and his last chapter is currently with his adviser, he will likely not defend until fall though. He is trying to prepare a dissertation chapter or a paper he will be presenting soon for submission. So his lack of submissions is only caused by nothing to submit.

              I’m going into armchair mode now too: I almost feel like he feels he hasn’t had his chance to test the academic market. That non-professor jobs are his plan b but plan a is very difficult and plan b isn’t so easy either (especially with a PhD in the humanities and his last non-teaching experience ended in 2008). I think his defensiveness is he doesn’t accept any criticism well from anybody and that he thinks of job hunting more as a class assignment than what it is. Such as he feels like if he submits a resume and cover letter for a position he’s qualified for they should “grade” (my words not his) him and invite him for an interview. And for interviews that he needs to impress them a certain way. He doesn’t recognize that it’s more like a contest.

              1. fposte*

                Oh, that sounds like a really plausible summary–he really hasn’t absorbed that they get quite a few applicants with passing grades but they only have room for one. So he hasn’t published anything–has he done some conference presentations? (And if he hasn’t done those either, I can see why the school isn’t ranked very high, because they should have been nudging him to both conferences and publications.)

                1. Interview Coaching*

                  He has his first scheduled in June. He was accepted to one previously but he had a family member pass two days before.

                  Hmm it’s interesting you bring up nudging students. All of his friends are in the same program and they seem to rely heavily on students using self motivation. His adviser will edit writings but doesn’t recommend or push things. Only one person from the program has gotten a full-time job in the recent past and they were lucky. It’s a really low ranked school (by US News between 173 and 201) and his grad program is ranked by US News past 100.

              2. So Very Anonymous*

                To be very blunt, he needs to get over this. The job market isn’t school, and he is competing with a LOT of people these days. He can test the academic market in the fall if he doesn’t have something lined up by then (since this is the slow season for academic job postings, right?).

                But at the same time, he does needs to be thinking about “plan b” options. Does his department or professional association offer any workshops etc. on this? It’s my sense that many associations and their conferences are moving towards offering information and support for transitioning PhDs into other kinds of jobs. I understand what you mean about Voldemort, but didn’t Harry Potter finally realize that it was important to start saying his name? That’s the case in academia now. It’s not Something That Can’t Be Named anymore.

    2. LizB*

      From what you’ve described, I don’t think YOU are the right person to be helping him prepare. It would be nice if he would take your experience into account and listen to your advice, but it sounds like coming from you, it’s too personal — he can’t separate “This is a person who is criticizing me to help me get better” from “This is my spouse and them criticizing me feels bad.” Do you have any colleagues or friends that he doesn’t know who might be willing to run through some questions with him? Also, are you sure he really wants to practice? I get that he should, because everyone should, but he’s an adult — trying to force him into doing this is not going to work, and feels a little bit like trying to parent him. You’re not his parent, and you’re not his hiring manager — you’re his spouse! This may just not be your role.

      If you’re dead set on doing it yourself, or he really wants to practice with you, I would suggest separating the mock interview portion from the criticism/feedback portion. If possible, record the interview (just sound would probably be fine), and be “in character” as a hiring manager the whole time, pretending you don’t know him at all. Then, afterwards, listen back through the recording and give him feedback. If you can write down the feedback, that’s even better, and gives him another level of distance to get his emotions in check. Ideally, he would be able to take the recording and your written notes and reflect on your feedback away from you, then take some time to consider it, and follow up with any clarifications or questions. This makes it all more impersonal, and lets him process and get upset/angry/whatever without creating conflict in the moment. If you can’t get actual emotional distance by having him practice with someone he’s not married to, this would be the best way to do that.

      1. Interview Coaching*

        Unfortunately there’s nobody else to do it. He definitely wants to practice. He wants help, can accept I have good advice, then hates receiving suggestions. I have asked how he would like me to deliver feedback but long story short, there is no way that will be acceptable.

        I am thinking maybe we warm up with him asking me some questions. This way it’s not so one sided.

        Also I’m not sure if this thread makes me sound terrible or him sound terrible or that we have a terrible marriage. I want to acknowledge he is an awesome person and we are happily married.

        1. LizB*

          If he refuses to listen to suggestions, then he doesn’t really want advice, he wants cheerleading. If you’re okay practicing with him without giving any advice at all, just so he can hear how his answers sound out loud, that might be the way to go. But as long as he refuses to accept any critical feedback, he’s never going to really improve, and practicing is not going to be very useful. It sounds like this is going to be frustrating for you if you don’t give feedback and frustrating for him if you do, which makes it a bit of a no-win situation.

          The ONLY way that written feedback + processing at a distance might help is if a) he acknowledges that there are actually areas where he needs to improve, and b) you both agree that once the feedback is given, that’s the end of the discussion. He can’t come back to you to argue your points, you can’t go back to him to verbally reinforce anything you wrote down. Once he has the recording and notes, he can do with them what he likes (shred them, burn them, write pages of angry rebuttal notes), but the practice session is OVER, and you are back to being just spouses.

          1. Interview Coaching*

            “If he refuses to listen to suggestions, then he doesn’t really want advice, he wants cheerleading.”

            There we go. I think he wants praise.

        2. College Career Counselor*

          If the career services office where he is finishing works with graduate students (and if they’re any good, of course), that might be a venue for a disinterested 3rd party to assist. And, believe me, I don’t think you or your husband is a bad person–you’re just not suited for these roles with each other. My parents decided that they would teach each other their respective foreign languages. What could possibly go wrong with that, right? Both academics in foreign language, well-versed in pedagogy, good at learning languages, etc.

          They had to give it up after six weeks, because it was threatening their relationship. And I’m glad they did, otherwise I might not be here!

          1. Interview Coaching*

            Unfortunately we moved for a job opportunity for me and he cannot access career services. They don’t have a great reputation at this university.

        3. TeapotCounsel*

          Also I’m not sure if this thread makes me sound terrible or him sound terrible

          Thread is making him sound terrible. As I get older, I get less and less patient with defensiveness. And I say that with some embarrassment because I used to be way too defensive.

          The issue here is more than interview prep. It’s a personality flaw. He needs to grow up and learn that receiving criticism is not the same as being personally condemned. He must learn to separate the critique of the attribute from the person that he is. His inability to do that stems from a lack of maturity and some narcissism (please forgive armchair psychology).

          I know this post sounds harsh, butI don’t mean to be. I say this harshly because it took multiple, harsh statements like the one above before I finally “got it,” and stopped with the defensiveness/narcissism.

          You may put it to him like this: You can either lose the defensiveness and have a job. Or you can stay unemployed.

          1. Interview Coaching*

            Ooh this made me feel better. I am worried how he’ll fair receiving criticism in a professional environment. Might as well coach him on that too.

          2. So Very Anonymous*

            I’m just curious — how has he responded to critique of his writing? When I was in grad school (humanities) we regularly had our work critiqued by our peers as well as by our professors — was meant to teach you both how to criticize constructively and how to take constructive criticism. Did he learn to view that kind of thing as constructive rather than critical? And if so, could he draw on that experience as a way of getting better at dealing with feedback?

            1. Sophia in the DMV*

              This! Plus, having your work peer reviewed by journal reviewers is a quick lesson in humility. Unfortunately it doesn’t sound like he’s even been through the peer review process

    3. Treena Kravm*

      Yea, I think you need to either not be the person who coaches him, or not be so tough. If he’s academically inclined, why not suggest he writes out his answers like a paper? That’s usually less intimidating for academics, and then once he’s got the solid answer down, then you can practice with him saying it all in a conversational setting.

      1. Interview Coaching*

        That’s a great suggestion. i don’t think that would be as helpful for him. He is a writer and needs to be steered away from sounding like a robot when answering questions. He is shy and so it takes sometime for him to project warmth to strangers.

        1. So Very Anonymous*

          Has he done any teaching? Could he approach interview prep as if it were like creating a lesson plan?

        2. misspiggy*

          That may be true, but you’ve got to start where he is comfortable for him to make progress. I’d say the written answers idea would be a great starting point.

    4. Artemesia*

      It just doesn’t work to play Mommy to one’s husband. I would not be giving him any advice he isn’t begging for. Send him to AAM’s sections on interviewing and such and let him run his own work life. You probably do have good advice for him but your marriage is more important than you being his job coach and worklife is one area where a spouse should not meddle IMHO. Even when the spouse is soliciting the feedback, it is a difficult road. When they are resistant it is a minefield. It won’t help his job search and it sure won’t help the marriage. Back off entirely.

    5. Sunshine Brite*

      I refuse to get involved with my husband’s job searches. I hated his resume and cover letter but unless he specifically asked for help I stayed out of it and tried to avoid proofreading. I was really glad this time around when I could connect him with a friend who was working on resume writing. I’m leaving his career success to him even though it can only benefit me.

      1. Jen RO*

        My boyfriend and I have very different ideas about job searching. He is very good at his job and he knows it, so he is sometimes (often) arrogant to HR and interviewers… then wonders why they don’t call back… but won’t listen to me that even though they have no idea what they’re talking about, maybe it wouldn’t hurt to be more diplomatic. He sees it as a good way to filter out companies he wouldn’t want to work for – I see it as getting himself removed from the process early. But since he’s never been without a job for more than a few days, I have accepted the fact that it works for him and I’m not getting involved (and also not asking him for advice on *my* job search!)

    6. So Very Anonymous*

      If he hasn’t already, he might want to look at a site like Versatile PhD, which has lots of information/advice for PhDs looking to transition out of academia. You do need to join for some but I think not all of their resources. I think there’s some cost involved if you join as an individual, but I know that the American Historical Association has arranged for their members to have a free membership — if your husband is a member of a large professional association along those lines, he may have that option as well.

      AaM’s archives are great not just for interviewing information/advice, but can also be useful for him to start learning more about how to acclimate to nonacademic work cultures.

    7. AnonAcademic*

      I read all the replies and just wanted to add something as an ABD who may have insight into your husband’s thought process. People who complete a Ph.D. are basically super students used to excelling at nearly everything academic. The risk of outright failure is low in academia for the super student – until you start trying to network at conferences, publish papers, complete the dissertation successfully, and go on the job market. For some people this is the first time in their life they may actually fail at something, because life/the job market is not as tidy as school. ABD is the part in the process with the highest attrition rate – google “the leaky pipeline.” It takes a great deal of humility and grit to put up with paper review, get through job talks, approach big wig speakers at conferences, and write the dissertation. It’s a different skill set than what carries you through the other 4 years of grad school. Your husband HAS to work on this skill set if he will be anything more than a super student. But, you’re probably not going to successfully convince him of this. Ideally it’s something one of his mentors would have told him at least a few years ago.

      1. So Very Anonymous*

        Yes, this. He will also definitely need this skill set if he is applying for nonacademic jobs.

  26. Lily in NYC*

    I recently moved to a new division – it’s smaller, and is staffed by overachieving Ivy League types who think nothing of working until 10pm every night (which is late considering we are govt). I am the executive assistant to the dept. head and also help out with a huge ongoing project which takes up 90% of my time. The lower level staffers have been asking me to do assistant-type work for them but I don’t work for them and am actually higher level or equal to all of them. I don’t think they realize this nor do I think they know I’m not a dept. assistant. But they all work so hard and so late that I feel weird pushing back and saying no. I’ve been doing what they ask but I’m getting much busier with my project. I’m ready to push back but I don’t know how to bring it up without it seeming like I’m shirking work. I’m sure my boss would be willing to say something but I’d like to avoid that unless I’m out of options. I’m the only non-exempt employee in the dept. and I work a lot of free overtime but still nothing close to the hours of everyone else. So when I leave before 6pm, they probably think I’m slacking, when in reality, I’ve already worked two hours for free (I can’t put in for overtime or they will find a way to fire me on trumped up charges). I’m basically looking for a way to let them know that it’s not my responsibility to help them with minor admin tasks without looking like a petty slacker. I know Alison has talked about this subject before but I think it’s a little different for me because the nature of my job is to be helpful.

    1. Ama*

      Would your boss be willing to send around an updated org chart that lists where everyone is in the hierarchy and their basic job functions? That might help with at least people knowing what you’re supposed to be doing. (I actually recently discovered that a bunch of people didn’t realize I’ve been at manager level for over a year because a new phone directory was sent out with my old title.)

      If your boss is willing, you also might be able to get his buy in on saying you can’t help with something because “I’m non-exempt and if I work too much unpaid overtime I’ll get in trouble.”

    2. This is Me Not Being Me*

      “I’ve been happy to help you when I’ve had free time, but my current project is ramping up and I don’t have the additional band-width any more. I’m sorry.”

      And if they push back about you being the department assistant, it will then be explicit and you can do the surprised “Oh! No! I didn’t realize you didn’t know, my role is….”

      I’d stop working the “free” overtime. That could get you in trouble, I would think. If they ask, just explain that you’re non-exempt and point out that paying overtime is not in the cards.

    3. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I do think it’s time to keep your boss in the loop. You can’t work unapproved overtime, right? And you’re working for free? That’s a good enough reason to say no, quite frankly. What I would do is talk to your boss and inform him/her that you’ve been asked to do admin tasks after hours but you’re planning to push back and say that you’re not authorized to work overtime and you’d like his/her opinion or back-up. Your boss doesn’t necessarily have to say something, but you should have back-up in case the rest of the staff says something to your boss.

      Unfortunately, though, I think you need to let someone send out a memo saying that if they need stuff they should go to a department assistant. You’re putting aside your own work so you can do tasks that aren’t even in your purview! It’s a bad precedent to set. I think you really need to bring your boss on-board, and soon.

    4. some1*

      This happened to me at a former company as an admin. I reported to the VP, but when new supervisor and manager (I outranked both on the org chart) were hired, they both tried to assign me stuff/get me to stay late, and the way I handled it in the moment was telling them I actually reported to the VP and would need to check with her.

    5. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Can you be direct about it? Like, “I don’t know if anyone ever clarified my role here. I’m actually not a department assistant; I’m here to do X, Y, and Z — and not to make you feel awkward, but I’m actually senior to you on our org chart so you’re stuck with your own copying, Bob.” (Say that last part with a sense of humor and/or smile and it I bet it’ll go over fine and get the job done.)

      1. Lily in NYC*

        Thanks everyone for your advice! I’ve tried the direct route with one person (who is new and equal level to me but doesn’t know it) and she just completely blew me off and just said “ok great” and walked away, still expecting me to do what she asked. I did talk to my boss and she gave me permission to push back but I’ve been reluctant because of the reasons I already mentioned. I think it’s time for me to say that now that I’m getting busier I can’t continue to do favors for everyone. And then I’ll say – “I’m not sure if you even realized that I do these things as favors and that it’s not part of my job”. I’m not used to working with such socially awkward people – they are all super-smart but don’t always pick up on social cues.

        1. plain_jane*

          Could you mention to them that you’re not allowed to work overtime?

          I’m not sure about the “not part of my job” comment. That would not go over well in any environment I’ve worked in. Instead “While in the past I’ve been able to support the rest of the team with these small requests, my Big Project needs to take priority for me. So unless you can get me an extension from Boss & the other stakeholders, I won’t be able to help out.”

          1. TeapotCounsel*

            Concur with this.
            “I’d love to help, but given my current workload, that would require me to work overtime, and unfortunately I’m not allowed to work overtime.”

        2. misspiggy*

          Could you say, ‘Ah, that type of task actually goes to Bob, your departmental assistant’?

      2. Rat Racer*

        Would you really trot out “I’m senior to you on the org chart”? Even in jest that sounds offensive to me.

        1. Lily in NYC*

          No, even though Alison said to do it in a jokey manner. It would go over fine in my former dept, but not this one (the people are more earnest and serious).

    6. LCL*

      You’re working free overtime? For a government job!? Stop that today. It is illegal law for non exempt employees to not be paid for overtime. It sounds like your employer is in violation of the Fair Labor Standards act. Tell your boss that you won’t work for free any longer because you don’t want to help them violate a federal law.

      You are actually entitled to those back wages, and you could get them back if you want to file a complaint with the US Department of Labor wage and hour division.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Lily has talked about this before and if I’m remembering correctly has made the calculation that she’s well paid and gets enough other benefits from the work (at a prestigious institution that’s not government, I think) that she’s fine with her situation. I don’t think there’s an obligation to fight your employer’s legal battles for them (and take on all the potential burdens that entails) if you’re actually perfectly happy with your compensation and treatment.

        1. Lily in NYC*

          Yes, this. Thanks Alison. And I was writing too quickly – my office is quasi-governmental – technically a private non-profit but we are attached to the Mayor’s office. I’m already making more than the top of my salary range and people are bitter about it (my salary is public info), so it’s just not my hill to die on.

          1. Rat Racer*

            It seems to me like Lily has an ongoing problem where she has a prestigious education (which she’s mentioned several times) a high salary and position on the org chart (which she’s mentioned numerous times) but a title that doesn’t match her role and has other people in the department mis-assessing her responsibilities and skillset. Maybe Lily you just need a new title.

              1. Rat Racer*

                Sorry Lily – I shouldn’t have said that. You have obviously struck a nerve of mine but I shouldn’t have been so dismissive.

                But – although I didn’t say it nicely, I actually do think that the reason you’re getting asked to complete tasks that are appropriate for someone much more junior has something to do with the fact that your title isn’t commensurate with your roles and responsibilities.

          1. Lily in NYC*

            No, not at all – my boss is not from the US and is kind of clueless about overtime laws. No one pays attention to anyone else’s hours around here.

  27. angel tears*

    To piggy-back on my earlier post, if you were interviewed by a company in the past and are in the middle of an interview, would you say something about interviewing with them in the past, if the recruiter doesn’t bring it up? I would love to hear from recruiters especially about this!

  28. LBK*

    Anyone have tips on asking for more/different work? I started a new position about 2 months ago and frankly, neither my team lead nor my manager has really given me much to do. I’m responsible for some regularly scheduled reports but those are far from enough to fill up a 40 hour schedule.

    The one thing that complicates this is that the non-reporting half of the team I’m on is a processing team and they’re understaffed and behind, so I’ve been chipping in to help them out a lot. I don’t mind assisting especially during a tough time, but it’s wildly different work than what I was hired to do and I have to assume there could be other things I could take on that are more related to my position – both of my managers and my team lead spend a ton of dealing with one off requests, many of which I feel I could be taking on for them so they could cut their hours and/or focus their attention elsewhere.

    The other complication is that there’s a huge emphasis on QC and reliability of data, so I think some of the resistant to passing along work is that (especially as a new employee) with the amount of time it would take to walk me through how to handle some of these requests or to check over my work before it gets sent out, it’s more efficient for management to just complete the requests themselves. Is there anything I can do to pry some of that work out of their hands and get them to go through the potentially rough transition period keeping in mind that ultimately it will save them time once I’m up to speed on handling these requests?

    1. This is Me Not Being Me*

      If they don’t want to train you on it and have you do it at first, what if you ask if you could shadow/watch while they _do_ that work so that in the future you would be grounded enough to take it from them? Initially you’d just watch while they did it and maybe spoke of their thought process, then they could start shifting it to you. Since you’re currently under-utilized, that might be a viable approach.

  29. Saying goodbye to a virtual employee*

    Question! I manage an entirely virtual team. One person who has been working with me for years, who I have probably the closest working relationship of any of my team, has put in her two weeks’ notice. What is the appropriate way to say goodbye? I see this person in real life maybe once a quarter tops. There is no office (or other coworkers) to have a cake-in-the-office celebration. I’ve already said how sad I am to see this person go and reiterated what a valuable team member they were, and have said I will serve as a reference. But is there anything else I should do to make this person’s last day special?

    1. Carrie in Scotland*

      Would it be appropriate to send something in the post or a delivery of flowers/gift/something?

      1. Nanc*

        I think the flowers or little gift–maybe a coffee card–is a great idea. A hand-written card or letter reiterating how much you valued them would also be nice–I have one from my manager at last job that I still reread every once in awhile.

    2. Jillociraptor*

      My team is also all virtual. It is really odd when people leave–it just always feels very unresolved. Some things we’ve done:

      – Team call where we all share a favorite memory or thing we appreciate about the person
      – “Memory poster” where we all write something nice about the person and then create a nice, well-designed poster that we frame
      – Frame a team picture
      – Memory book with photos and stories/reflections (you can do these for pretty cheap on sites like Shutterfly)

      Also, make sure to remind your team on this person’s last day to reach out and say goodbye!

      1. land of oaks*

        When working with lots of remote colleagues, I’ve seen the leader of a regular team call tell everyone to bring a glass of champagne or other fancy drink of your choice (could also be food treat) to the last call that X will be joining us for. And then at the beginning of the call did a thank you, we’ll miss you, a few people spoke about how great the person was (as Jillociraptor said) and then had a “Everyone raise your glass: Here’s to X!” moment together on the call. It was nice to have that shared moment with folks when we normally never got those moments since we didn’t work in the same place.

    3. TeapotCounsel*

      Maybe you could have a Google Hangout, show a cake and then eat it (feigning sadness that others can’t share). I think that would be funny.

      1. Jillociraptor*

        Or you could turn on the special effects and all have cartoon cake together!

      2. Mints*

        Oh man, or if you could get a chain to deliver cakes to everyone! There’s got to be some cupcake national delivery chains, right? And have it all delivered before a group hangout
        That’s cheesy but I would love it as a final chat (assuming I liked the team)

    4. Snoskred*

      One thing that I would do.. I am a huge sending blank cards with my own writing inside person.

      I would send them a card that repeats the points you have made here. In particular –

      – how sad you are to see this person go
      – that you are willing to be a reference and provide multiple forms of contact eg email, cell phone, mail address especially if those things are not the same ones you are using for your job. eg your private email address vs your work one, that kind of thing.

      I would include a written reference as well, if possible. Just fold it up and put it inside the card, but you can follow it up a few days later with the word document file via email if you like, or say let me know if you want this reference as a document you can print out.

      Hope that helps. :)

  30. Gene*

    Looks like Commuter Kitty is trying to retire. His driver says that he doesn’t head to the carrier with as much verve as before. There were a couple of days he didn’t even bother to come to work.

    But we saw a fluffy, white kitty that didn’t immediately run away this morning. Probably another dumped kitty – the problem has gotten worse since the Animal Shelter moved out here near us. Time to start the taming again.

  31. Andraste*

    A few weeks back I asked a question on when I should give notice when I was worried I would be let go right away. I’m back to update! I did end up giving early notice because I had to submit some employment verification forms for the bar exam’s character and fitness process. I decided the cat would be out of the bag at this point, so I might as well do it. I ended up giving 5 weeks notice and was allowed to work out my full notice period. The whole process went very differently than expected. I got very little guidance on how to transition the work I was doing to a new person and was basically ignored this whole month, but at least I did get paid. Thanks for the advice, everyone. Now onto bar prep!

  32. BabyAttorney*

    I started my new job two months ago. Its a dream, I love it, who gets to be in house at a firm as their first attorney within a year of graduating law school??! Amazing.

    I worry sometimes about my dress. I don’t know if I am overthinking it so I would really love some input here from folks who are attorneys/work with their GCs.

    We have a business casual dress code except when we are interfacing with clients. I usually wear a blazer, button down shirt, and dark slacks or a pants/skirtsuit. I have gotten as “casual” as dark khaki with a buttondown and blue linen blazer. As summer is coming, some of my more “fun” clothing is going to be weather appropriate but I have so little context as to what is okay as the sole attorney in house to wear. I dress more formally than almost everyone here almost out of fear of being judged as immature from people who do not interface directly with my work. I fear if someone thought I wasnt dressed for my position, they wouldn’t say anything.

    Today for example, we are having “derby day” where everyone was invited to dress as though going out to the derby and we are having a derby happy hour tonight. I wore a knee length light blue 50s style linen dress I made with a navy blazer. I felt so nervous coming into work. I usually wear this with a petticoat but left mine at home because I was afraid it would make me seem younger than I already am. =(

    Thoughts? Advice?

    1. TotesMaGoats*

      That sounds like an awesome outfit for that type of event. I hope you have a really cool hat to go with it! I think you are overthinking it though. What you’ve described sounds like your dress code, if a little more towards the business side than casual. But kudos for being aware of it!

    2. Turanga Leela*

      I’m interested to hear answers to this. I’m an attorney but I’ve never been a GC or at a firm; my experience is all in government and nonprofits. I usually wear a dress + blazer combo (not a suit). I tend to look more formal than my coworkers, but I also wear more colors and patterns.

    3. wonkette*

      I’m also an attorney who works in a business casual office except when I have formal meetings. If it makes any difference, I work in DC which is a pretty conservative place. Capitol Hill Style, Extra Petite and Memorandum (formerly Classy Cubicle) are great fashion blogs for working women who want to look professional and chic. BabyAttorney, I think your description of what you’re wearing seems totally appropriate though I also share your concern about summer clothes crossing the line into the “too casual” category. I personally would look at how management dresses and follow their example.

      1. BabyAttorney*

        Ah, helpful context! I am also in WDC. I will absolutely take a look at those blogs, thanks! Unfortunately there are literally no women in the C-suite to model after. The woman I report to for administrative purposes dresses a lot more casual than I do…pants or slacks and a blouse, but she has also been here a lot longer and worked with the owners for significantly more time. So it kind of runs the gamut.

        I worry about things like maxi skirts, brightly colored fabrics, etc. I have a few great pieces I’ve made that I adore wearing, like a bright floral cotton midi skirt, but I’m concerned the fabric makes it too casual, even though it may go great with my blazers. I guess I could ask…but that’s a really awkward conversation, especially because I’m not sure who I’d ask. Anyone above the admin report is all men.

        Aside, wonkette….are you an AU alumna?

        1. wonkette*

          No, I’m not an AU alumna though everyone in the DC metro area seems to be a graduate from there or from GWU and Georgetown. You can reach me at [at] if you want to chat privately.

          I think you have good judgement so if you feel iffy about something, you shouldn’t wear it to the office. Personally, I would stay away from wearing maxi skirts. Midi skirts are okay but, as you said, it depends on fabric, pattern, etc. I often think it’d be easier if my office is way formal or very casual just to know what the rules are… so I tend to dress more formally than my peers just to avoid fashion mistakes. I think you’ll find your comfort zone here too.

  33. Ama*

    Ugh, I have just roped a coworker into two conference calls next week *while he’s on vacation* and I feel terrible about it.

    They are both time-sensitive calls – one we’ve been waiting for the other participants’ schedules to match up for six weeks now, and the other was supposed to be today but the other participant is sick. For both calls coworker offered to call in before I could even ask how he wanted to handle it. I did offer to run Call #1 myself and have him write up a list of what he needed me to cover, but we can’t do that for Call #2.

    I tried to schedule them back to back so he could at least knock out the calls and go on with his day (hopefully both calls together will take 90 minutes or less). I feel so guilty because I know I would be furious if I had a vacation day planned and had to call in.

    1. Elkay*

      If it makes you feel any better I just asked someone who is currently on vacation work questions. In my defence he was logged into Skype with no indication that he wasn’t at work today.

    2. Persephone Mulberry*

      I had to interrupt a 10-day staycation to attend an on-site, half day training. I sighed, but I rolled with it – it was the only time the training worked for everyone else. I think you did a great job of being as accommodating as possible, and clearly your coworker gets that it’s part and parcel of working on time-sensitive projects. Don’t beat yourself up over it!

    3. Jen RO*

      If it makes you feel better, I wouldn’t be furious if I had to do this on a vacation day :) It would be inconvenient, but I’d be happy to help.

    4. Ann Furthermore*

      This kind of stuff happens sometimes, and there’s nothing you can do about it. There are times when I’ll take a day off and then check email at least once, if things are in a hit-the-fan mode at work. Once or twice, my boss has called me on a day off to ask me something (always apologizing profusely) and I’ll talk to her for a few minutes to answer her question.

      Yeah, it’s supposed to be a day off. On the other hand, for the most part I really like my job, I have an awesome boss, and I get a lot of perks. Like I’m allowed to flex my schedule when necessary so I can do things like volunteer at my daughter’s school one morning a month. When things are in a lull period, no one cares if you duck out early an hour or 2 early here and there, because everyone knows that we’ll more than making up for it when a project is ramping up or getting ready to launch. Many people don’t have that kind of flexibility and supportive management — reading this blog has taught me just how lucky I am. So if I have to sacrifice 15-20 minutes a PTO day once in awhile, to me that’s a fair trade-off.

      1. Ama*

        Thanks guys. I spent way too long in a work environment where I had to set some very strict boundaries to protect my off hours, and though my current workplace is far better about it, it still feels weird to infringe on someone else’s off time.

  34. Amanda*

    I’m looking to switch careers after earning a master’s degree in data science (well, I graduate in six weeks). A position opened up at my company, and I interviewed for it. The HR recruiter then contacted me to let me know that it would require a pay cut (since it’s dropping a level, which makes sense since I am new to this field and all of my work experience is irrelevant). Any thoughts on how to negotiate this, or if there is any room to negotiate this? She basically said they’d put me at the top of the pay band for the role but that’s all she can do. It would be a $15K/year pay cut.

    1. fposte*

      Generally, how much you’re willing to negotiate depends on how much you’re willing to go elsewhere. What’s the logical open market rate for somebody with your credentials, and how does it compare to their band? Does your previous experience really bring no extra value to the new role? Are you willing to trim your life back to fit into $15k less a year?

    2. College Career Counselor*

      Perhaps you can negotiate a six month review/earlier than normal review to try to move to a higher pay band, given your prior experience with the organization? It’s not a slam-dunk, but it’s worth a shot. Can you negotiate to keep/expand other benefits (time off)?

  35. Darth Admin*

    My work culture is nonprofit, pseudo academia/government. I have a direct report who thinks she’s a superstar but isn’t. She’s a good employee, but has places where she needs to improve. I have discussed with her those areas that need improvement, but she either a) disagrees with me that improvement is needed; or b) comes back in three months, having changed nothing, and insisting she’s improved. At this point, I think she is not capable of the improvements I have asked her to make.

    That would be fine – as I said, she’s a good employee at status quo, but not great and she does not have the chops to move up without improvements. However, she continues to think she’s a superstar. I’m struggling with how to mitigate her expectations of and complaints about not receiving promotions, bigger tasks, etc. I’ve told her that she needs to do X,Y,Z before such things will happen, but she’s not hearing it and the complaints continue – and are expanding to include her coworkers’ raises, promotions, etc.

    How do I politely tell her to either make the improvements or stop complaining? I’m rapidly approaching bitch-eating-crackers stage and every script I come up with in my head has a tinge of “shut up” in it.

    1. Lily in NYC*

      I think it’s time to be more blunt with her next time she complains, something like: Princess Leia, I have told you multiple times what you need to do in order to get promoted yet nothing has changed. I don’t want to hear about this again until you have done the following: XYZ. And then shut her down every time she brings it up afterwards. “Leia, have you done XYZ? Then I don’t want to hear it.” My former boss actually fired his assistant because she wouldn’t shut up about getting promoted but she messed up every chance he gave her, yet still complained.

    2. Adams*

      Have you asked her why she thinks she’s improved? What specific examples can she give that shows she’s improved? It might be interesting to see if there’s a disconnect and it could help you explain your view.

    3. some1*

      Agree with Lily – give concrete examples where she fell short on your expectations:

      “I told you I expect a 24 turnaround on TPS reports, you have met that goal 40% of the time in the last quarter.”

  36. Carrie in Scotland*

    I had my first ever long distance interview this week.

    It was…interesting. It seemed like the normal interview process was amplified, simply because there was all the things I had to do (get there, stay over night, find the right train, find the actual interview place etc) and I had to remember to bring things with me because it wouldn’t be like popping home to get it.

    I have another interview next week – I think I might prefer this one, even though it’s a 12 month fixed term position but this would mean that if I hated living there, I could leave somewhat easily.

    1. Traveler*

      I agree with the amplified bit. It makes in town interviews seem like a breeze in comparison.

    2. TheLazyB*

      Yeah I had that recently. I wrote myself a checklist in case it happens again :) hope it went ok? All good practice :)

  37. LizB*

    I sent in two job applications today! I redid my resume and wrote my cover letters all based on advice from AAM, so here’s hoping they work. :) I’m really excited about both positions. One of them was an online application, though, and made me enter tons of info that was already on my resume, full contact info for references, and salary history for each job I put in my employment history. It was irritating, took forever, and just makes me feel discouraged — I feel like I’m going to mess up on some answer or check box and get weeded out by the system, and no human is ever going to look at my application. And I really want the job. We’ll see how it plays out.

    Now, on to write more cover letters!

    1. Ailsa AbuDhabi*

      Online applications that make you retype everything on your cv into endless tiny boxes are the absolute bane of my life! They make it so much harder to apply, and it must make it so much harder for the person on the other end to read as well. The absolute worst.

      Good luck!

  38. College Career Counselor*

    Had a job interview earlier this week–it went well, but of course I don’t know what the rest of the applicant pool is like and whether the decision-maker will hold my particular set of skills and experiences in higher regard than someone else’s. However–I am very happy with what I said and how I said it (regarding both content and authenticity), so if I don’t get an offer, it’s because someone’s a better fit than I am and not because I didn’t bring my “A” game to the interview.

    Higher ed interviews at a certain level are a special kind of fun. Mine was approximately 13 hours in duration and included group interviews, fielding questions while touring campus, panel interviews, and three meals with various stakeholders while being in “interview mode” the entire time. Probably had interview conversations with close to 30 people (which makes thank-you notes challenging). The longest I ever spent interviewing was 2.5 days once. I’m curious to hear other people’s most gruelling interview stories–what was the longest interview, the weirdest scenario (pretty sure party planning/cooking for 40 people is the outright winner), the strangest question you had?

    1. This is Me Not Being Me*

      Wow. I thought my 4 hour interview was bad! (As an aside, I sent my follow-up note to the hiring manager and included that I really appreciated getting to meet with the various team members and enjoyed talking to them. I didn’t try to follow up with all the team members, although in this case I had sufficient info to work out the contact info for all but one.)

      1. College Career Counselor*

        Absolutely. I replied to the decision-maker and the chair of the search committee (not the same person in this case) and asked them to forward appropriately.

    2. K*

      Foreign Service.

      The interview was a full day long. Three parts.

      One part was a fairly standard situational interview, but with some seemingly odd scenarios, like “a major typhoon is heading for the country in which you are assigned. what do you do?”

      The second part was a one on one role play where you had to discipline an employee for poor performance.

      The third was a group exercise. They took everyone who was interviewing that day, put them into a room, gave each a project to advocate for even though there was only the budget to fund one, and let ’em have at it.

      A panel of future colleagues sat in on each part, so there was quite the audience…

      Oddly, the scenarios seemed really weird at the time, but proved to be scarily appropriate in time…

      1. College Career Counselor*

        I’ve had that one, too! Definitely surreal having the fly-on-the-wall observers watching the group interaction. I was the youngest person interviewing there that day (from what I could observe/glean from the conversation) and had NO real work experience to draw from.

        I use some of the weird situations from that interview when talking with students about “difficult” or challenging interviewers. As an example, I had one interviewer close his eyes, lean back against the wall apparently nod off while his interview partner told me “I will be staring at the clock on the wall behind you to time your answers.”

        That was a less than fabulous interview experience for yours truly. But very instructive about rigid government interview processes and certain kinds of bureaucrats.

    3. Traveler*

      My record # of interviewers was 9 for the whole process, 8 in a day, and 6 at one time sitting across from me. This seems pretty common now, but I still remember my younger self who thought a panel of 3 was intimidating. I’ve had them last up to 9 hours in duration. Weirdest scenario? Not so much weird, but I’ve been asked a lot of taboo and overly personal questions. I’m surprised at the frequency actually, even though I shouldn’t be given how many people seem to struggle interviewing.

      As an aside, I’ve been on the other side of this in the “stakeholder” group with campus interviews and I felt so much sympathy for people put in this position. It has to be so exhausting. When we did our candidate feedback/reviews I just wanted to write extra points for being “on” for that many hours in a row without flubbing it.

    4. Stephanie*

      Yeah…mine are nowhere near that bad. I did do an interview for a higher ed job where it was me and seven people on conference call.

      I had seven back-to-back one-on-one 30 minute interviews once (with no lunch)…and then I had to hop on a plane back home.

      I also did two (at the same company) in college where I did about five back-to-back interviews (including a couple that were technical interviews) and then had to go to dinner with the hiring manager afterwards. I had to be “on” for like nine hours. It was exhausting.

    5. Shannon*

      Academic interviews are marathons! Generally mine (for faculty positions) have been around 12 hours long, often including all 3 meals, walks around campus, meeting faculty, administrators, students, giving a presentation on research, teaching a class…it makes me tired just thinking about it. Probably the most stressful was doing it when I was breastfeeding, so they had to add breaks into the schedule for me to pump, and then everyone wants to know why you have “down time” built in. When I’ve flown in for them, they also often include dinner the night before, but I’ve been lucky to not have any multiple-day interviews.

      Good luck!

    6. BRR*

      None of mine were terrible. My current employer was the longest. 30 min phone screen, 2nd round 2 hour skype interview (it was inperson or skype depending on your location), final round 9:00-3:30 with 1 hour lunch and 1 hour skills test.

      BRR interview tip, take an Imodium if it’s a long day or if you get an upset stomach from worrying.

    7. Anon. Scientist*

      A bunch of former coworkers were at one firm that I also wanted to move to, but they didn’t have any hiring plans and the rest of the firm was starting to feel like the “my former workplace” faction was getting a little too large/powerful. So they scheduled me for a 9-hour “meet anon. Scientist” non-interview to decide if they would open a position. then, when they did open a position a couple months later, I ended up having a 8 hour “real” interview, four hours of which consisted of semi-hostile/aggressive questioning (think of a PhD defense) to assess my technical/scientific chops. there was a definite “well, some people here like you, but you’ll have to prove yourself to ME”.

      i don’t think the other candidates had such a hard interview. But it allowed me to really stand out because I maintained composure under fire and showed that I did really know my stuff.

  39. AnonToday*

    Another question – anyone else have a peer progress very quickly and feel resentful about it? I’m struggling with this right now. I have a former teammate who has received a promotion each year he’s been at the company. I don’t begrudge him those promotions – he works hard, he’s smart, but I wouldn’t say he’s THAT much of a rockstar. What he is good at is getting his work in front of the right leaders who love him, and that has helped him progress very fast. He’s now at a level above me, and while I’ve gotten numerous accolades and raises, I have been told to continue to develop in-role and be patient for my promotion. I feel a bit demoralized knowing that someone with half my years of experience has surpassed me and I feel a bit guilty about those feelings.

    1. Lily in NYC*

      I get it, but promoting yourself if a skill in itself. And it looks like he’s great at it. Unless you are willing to toot your own horn, then I think it’s normal that this would happen. I know it sucks; I would feel so weird talking about how great I am and how hard I work, but the people here who do that tend to get more recognition.

    2. Jessie's Girl*

      Totally understand. I’ve seen someone who started out below me (and at the same time as me) toot the biggest horn (while simultaneously complaining about his job) so much that he was promoted (but still to a position above me). From where I stood, he was barely working but he was also the kind of person who took 10 minutes to praise a boss about every little thing and my bosses ate it up. It made me pretty nauseous to watch.

      However, unfortunately, he kind of imploded on himself and his promotion and now most people don’t want to work with him, which made me laugh and almost balanced out the year of annoyance.

  40. Ms. Ineedanewjob*

    Does anyone have tips on how to discuss salary when being interviewed by a panel of three people? My first interview with the 3-person panel was two weeks ago. They didn’t bring up salary and neither did I. My second interview is next week. Two of the people who interviewed me last time will be present, and there will be a new third person. Salary always seems to me like it should be discussed one-on-one with the hiring manager or HR person, so I’m hesitant to ask about salary during my interview (if they don’t bring it up) since there are multiple people.

    1. Lily in NYC*

      You shouldn’t be discussing salary in an interview unless they bring it up. Wait for an offer.

      1. erd*

        I don’t think you have to wait for an offer to discuss salary. Honestly, I’ve been fortunate enough to always have it in the posting, in the phone interview, or before the second interview. If you are employed already, why would you want to waste your time interviewing for a job that might not meet your salary requirements?

        Ineedanewjob – I would during scheduling of second interview if it’s not brought up (but that window’s already passed for you) or scheduling of 3rd interview if they choose to do one.

  41. Mimmy*

    I’ve been waiting for this all week!! Looking for higher ed folks, especially any instructors / faculty.

    On Monday, my classmate suggested I look into online teaching as an adjunct. While it’s not something I’m ready to dive into just yet, the idea is intriguing. Other people have suggested this to me in the past. She specifically suggested applying at the school where we’re taking classes together (online, but the school has brick-and-mortar classes too).

    So….I’m just looking for some nuts and bolts info:

    I know I don’t need a PhD to be an adjunct; I do have a Masters and am working on a Graduate Certificate that I hope to be done with by next Spring (I’m only taking one class at a time).

    What are some of the pros and cons of online teaching?

    Any special skills or training that I should have or get? How about previous teaching experience?

    How would I even prepare?? This idea wasn’t on my radar when my friend suggested it. She was all “GO FOR IT!!” I love her, but one step at a time!

    I do know that many adjuncts feel that they are not paid well and doesn’t always offer steady work (if I’m wrong, I apologize), so I would never count on this being my sole job.

    I appreciate any insights you may have!

    1. TotesMaGoats*

      My dad is an adjunct online teacher for a brick and mortar school. My alma mater, in fact. He likes the online when the class is a favorite but hates it when it’s not. He teaches contemporary religion in america and philosophy. He loathes philosophy. So consider that you might not be teaching something you are very interested in.

      It does take a consistent time commitment. Reading responses. Responding to responses. It’s more than just grading a paper. I’d say it’s even more work intensive than a face to face class. But there is freedom that you don’t need to have papers graded before you see them face to face next time. So, flexibility is good.

      Pay will depend on where you live, size of institution, your experience and need for your subject area.

      1. AdjunctGal*

        It’s a decent side gig, but when it’s all you have (like me), it can be terrible. Don’t do more than one course at a time if you can help it. That said, Southern New Hampshire University I have heard does well by its online adjuncts, so check them out.

        1. College Career Counselor*

          Asynchronous classes take just as much prep and other work (done in a different format) as brick-and-mortar. Expect to work just as hard with the online version of the class (and have different challenges managing student information/response/participation).

      2. Persephone Mulberry*

        But there is freedom that you don’t need to have papers graded before you see them face to face next time.

        I’m not sure I get this comment. If anything, students doing online coursework are MORE rabid for getting grades back in a timely manner, specifically because there’s not the built-in “before next class period” window. It falls under the umbrella of responsiveness, which is one of the few points on which online students can judge the quality of their instructors.

        1. fposte*

          Yup. We teach online and brick and mortar, and you have to hand back stuff to the online students every bit as quickly. Online is if anything overall more time pressure rather than less.

          1. Anx*

            As an online student, I do appreciate a decent turnaround time. One of my classes has weekly projects that all build on skills from previous weeks’ assignments. I don’t begrudge the slow turnaround time because I am sure graded them is very time intensive, but it is really unnerving to be submitting 2-3 subsequent projects that include one skill when you haven’t got any feedback yet. There’s less opportunity to learn from any mistakes.

            Without face-to-face activity, that feedback is even more important.

        2. Ann Furthermore*

          I agree. I got my MBA through an online program at a brick-and-mortar school, and each class in the program was 8 weeks long. For the most part I really enjoyed the program, except for one instructor who was terrible about getting assignments graded and returned. We would go 2-3 weeks without seeing anything from him. In an 8 week class, that’s a significant chunk of time. There’s not much time left to course correct if you’re doing something that’s negatively impacting your grade. I finally complained about it to my faculty adviser. Things improved, but not much.

      3. rphillips*

        I’ve only seen this from the student side, but I agree on the need for a consistent time commitment. I had an online professor completely flake out on a class I was taking once. We had the syllabus, so we continued to try to meet its expectations, but the professor was conspicuously absent for multiple weeks at a time – no posts, no responses to questions – it was bad. I finally reported her to the administration because we had a final paper coming due and she wasn’t around at all to field questions about it. She eventually showed up again, but even then mostly failed to engage with us. It bothered me that I paid tuition for that particular experience.

        1. Mimmy*

          I hear ya. The professor for the class I’m currently taking is the same way. Not nearly as bad as yours, but in the past month, she has not been on the boards much, and hasn’t assigned any new readings since April 13. The readings are available in their respective weekly modules, but I have no idea of anyone is even reading ahead. I think most of us are focused on our final projects, due at the end of the month.

          Yup, my tuition dollars at work! :/

    2. LisaS*

      Whether or not you’ll need a PhD will depend depend on the institution and its requirements for faculty – most regionally-accredited schools will have guidelines for non-tenure track hires that apply whether you are teaching online or in the classroom. Generally speaking, the idea is that regardless of modality, learning outcomes should be the same, so faculty qualifications will be too. And keep in mind that many institutions have a pretty large pool of would-be adjunct instructors with PhDs to pull from.

      I prefer teaching face to face but I’ve done both & find that the time commitments are pretty similar. Depends on how the online coursework is structured, but monitoring/responding to forum posts etc can suck up vast quantities of time if you do it carefully, and I found I spent, if anything, more time following up on students online than in the class. Having said that it is challenging & fun if you go at it with the right attitude, so good luck!

    3. Shannon*

      I taught as an adjunct while in my PhD program and am now on a full-time faculty line. If you have never taught before, I might recommend starting with a face-to-face class. I could be biased because that’s the path I took, but I felt seeing the students in person allowed me to get more immediate feedback about what was working and wasn’t–body language is a wonderful resource. And it allowed me to focus during the first few times I taught a class on the content and not the technology, which I appreciated.

      Without a PhD, adjuncting is unlikely to turn into a full-time gig (and even with a PhD, it can be hard to do, depending on the field), but if you’re interested in the experience of teaching and supplementing your income, it can be worthwhile. Good luck!

      1. Mimmy*

        Silly question, but why would I need to focus on body language for online teaching? Is video lecturing a common aspect?

        1. Shannon*

          Oh, sorry that wasn’t clear! I meant that you can get feedback from the students, via their body language, regarding what is working for them–what they understand, when they need more information, etc. There’s also more opportunity for informal interactions with them which can help create relationships and ensure you’re getting an accurate sense of how the class is going.

      2. BRR*

        This is going to be an obnoxious add on but adjuncting rarely turns into a full time gig. Overall and especially at the institution you’re adjuncting at.

        1. Shannon*

          And paradoxically, it can be difficult to get a full-time gig without at least some time in the classroom!

          Not a system that makes much sense, for sure.

    4. BRR*

      Pros: It’s teaching and money. You can set your own schedule to a degree.

      Cons: It’s not a lot of money. No job security. It’s typically more work because you need to make up for no class participation. For everybody I know this has resulted in much more work to grade. Also some people record presentations. This takes a long time to do. Many don’t enjoy not having the in person time.

      1. BRR*

        I also know a couple people who have done it who don’t enjoy that their classes seem to be divided into high performing students who need the class to be online to facilitate their schedules and low performing students who signed up so they could attend class in their pajamas.

        There have also been instances of international students signing up for classes who really struggle and it’s difficult to help them online.

  42. Sabrina*

    Need to vent. My boss left last week and it was not pretty. He left due to issues with his management and pretty much everyone on the team was (is) on his side about it. So now I’m a bit worried that a lot of folks are going to leave for better jobs, management will replace them VERY slowly, and I and a few others will be left behind to take on the extra work. I just wish I had better options. :(

  43. Bekx*

    :( My dad got let go yesterday. He had only been there 6 months, it was a small business, and they weren’t exactly happy that they were paying him as much as they were. He’s bummed out about it, but he really hated working there. He liked the work, but the owner was horrible and my dad would feel sick going to work.

    He went to his old job, which he liked but wasn’t paying very much, and in the door was a “Now Hiring” sign. He went in, asked his old manager if they were hiring and the old manager practically jumped for joy. He was hired on the spot and they thanked him for making their day.

    So it’s bittersweet. He’s sad he got fired, but he’s happy that he was wanted at his last job with such fervor. I’m glad too, because he’s an awesome guy and doesn’t deserve to be miserable. Just wanted to share that sometimes when one door closes, another one opens!

    1. Lily in NYC*

      Oh, I’m so glad things worked out! I was so bummed out for your dad until I kept reading.

      1. Bekx*

        Thank you! I was actually really worried at first. He had texted me and said “Got a new job. Back at Teapots Unlimited. Had enough of Kettles Inc.” so I thought he had a personality change and blew up at his boss or something!

  44. Sarah Nicole*

    Any Registered Nurses here? I’ve been considering making a career change and have come up with a list of jobs I would love to do. They all involve much more physical activity (think law enforcement, nursing, farming, some retail) and the ability to help others in some way I find meaningful. Just want to know if there is anyone able to give me some quick tips, advice, things you think others should know about the profession.

    Also, has anyone made a career change and has gone back to school as an adult to do so? I specifically am considering a second bachelor’s degree. Has anyone here done this? Thanks for any advice!

    1. Judy*

      I’m not an RN, but just last week at the doctor’s office I ran into a former co-worker who is now an RN. She was in purchasing at a former employer. She went through an RN program at a local community college a couple of years ago and is just now starting an RN to BSN program at a local university. She said she’s been happy with the transition.

      1. Sarah Nicole*

        Thank you very much, Judy! I have been told by a few people that I should just bypass the ADN and go straight to a second bachelor’s since mine is recent and it should take me about the same amount of time the ADN would, but this is another option to consider! I appreciate your comment.

    2. Nurse-To-Be*

      I’m a nursing student, just finished my first year, and I’m also an adult who has made a career change and gone back to school. I’ve spent the past twenty years in the hospitality/tourism industry, working here in Canada as well as in Africa and the UK. After all this time, I decided I needed to do something more meaningful with my life, that was, as you said, more physical and more hands-on in helping. So…back to school as a 43-year old!

      I’m doing my RN degree in two stages. I’m currently doing the two-year college diploma for the Registered Practical Nurse, and then will be able to work as an RPN while I upgrade and do my RN degree over the next 2 1/2 years. I couldn’t afford to spend four full years in university and remain unemployed, so while this works out a bit longer overall, I will only be a poor student for two of those years.

      From my experience to date, nursing is an incredibly physical profession – you really do need to look after yourself first. It’s an incredibly hard program as well – very demanding (as it should be), a LOT to take in, and very time-consuming. Don’t underestimate the amount of time you’ll need for studying….I go to school full-time, and hold down a small part-time job of around 15 hours/week…the rest of my time is, quite literally, spent doing homework and studying. You need a good support system from friends/family, and you’ll need to get a good small group of fellow students to help each other through this.

      Going back to school as an older student has been much easier than I thought. I intensely disliked school the first time around, and was worried I would have difficulty this time. But I’ve found that I have far more motivation and discipline now, and am a far better student now than I was 20 years ago. There will be other older students as well, so you won’t be the only adult returning for a career change. I’ve also found that I have far more confidence stepping into our first placement rotations as a nursing student, due to the fact that I’m older and have ‘life experience’ – don’t underestimate how much your previous experiences (no matter how irrelevant they may seem!) come into play as a nursing student!

      Good luck with your decision! I will say that I never in a million years expected to find myself in nursing school (my mom is a nurse, and even she was shocked and surprised when I made this decision), but I absolutely love it, and it’s one of the best changes I’ve ever made!

      1. Sarah Nicole*

        Wow, thank you so much! Yeah I’m still pretty young, so I feel like it wouldn’t be a big surprise to anyone that I’d be going back to school. I’m 25 and have a degree in music – I honestly did intend to use that full-time, but I do work part-time now. My FT career is in marketing and I’m beginning to feel burnt out, which is crazy since I’m young and should feel excited with all the opportunities I have ahead of me. I just figure this is not the career for me. I also am starting to feel like being chained to a desk all day is killing me slowly. Ugh, I need to move around!

        I appreciate your advice! I was a good student the first time around and graduated with honors, but this would be a drastically different type of study than I did before, so I know I’d need to make sure I can really buckle down! Good luck in your new career. I appreciate the insight.

    3. LisaS*

      If you’ve already got a BA/BS you might look around & see if there’s an accelerated RN program locally that you can pursue. One of my housemates did that a few years back – she had her undergrad in kinesiology from Cal Poly & did a 1-yr RN program in nursing. She was beyond full-time with it though – between class & clinical postings it was 6/7 days a week for that entire year.

      Another thing to think about, instead of a 2nd BA, is a master’s program in whatever field you’re interested in. Master’s programs have the advantage of being a)shorter and b)more intellectually challenging, as the coursework isn’t scaffolding the same learning-to-learn skills you get the first couple years of a BA… they are a lot more focused, too, as you don’t have to do all the gen ed requirements (or deal with 18-year olds in group projects. I like teaching them, but boy, they’d drive me nuts if I had to take classes with them!).

      1. Sarah Nicole*

        Hi, Lisa, thank you! Actually the only master’s programs I could get into would be music, teaching credential/ master’s, or an MBA. I don’t want to pursue music or teaching as a career anymore, and the MBA would help me advance in my current career, but that’s not really what I want to do. I guess I’m just considering more education if it is to make a complete career change, and at this point would require another bachelor’s degree or vocational training.

        Thanks for the tips, I’m looking into a program that would get me a BS in nursing without having to do the full 4 years over, so that would be ideal! If not, I could start with the associate’s degree like Judy suggested. There are a couple of really great programs locally, so I’d be totally set.

        Also are you in CA? I’m in SoCal. :)

        1. LisaS*

          Yep. I live just up the street from Mt St Mary’s, where my housemate did her program. And good luck with whatever you choose – I went back and did an MA in adult ed at 40, which was a great move for me in a couple of directions I hadn’t anticipated.

          1. Sarah Nicole*

            That is very encouraging! Thanks so much. I always felt like we’re supposed to know what we want to do and go to school for it early on, but that just seems so wrong as I get older. I’m just now finding out what my calling is at 25. I love hearing how older people go back to school. My mom is 55 and is in college for the first time in her life. I’m so proud of her!

    4. Jake*

      My wife is an RN and my step mother went back to school as an adult to become an RN after being a police officer for 18 years.

      1. Sarah Nicole*

        Wow, sounds like you have a family dedicated to public service! That’s awesome. :) Does your wife enjoy being an RN? What type of education has she received? How long has she been doing it?

        1. Jake*

          She has a bachelor’s degree or nursing and has been an orthopedic/neurology nurse for 2 years. She loves it and hates it. It is extremely stressful, and it requires amazing time management. However, she loves being around the blood and guts and is extremely interested by the scientific/academic aspects of nursing.

          There are days she would rate being a nurse at 0 and others at a 10 without many days rated in between.

          1. Sarah Nicole*

            Sounds awesome, lol. I’ve heard similar things – the rewards are worth the “0” days for a lot of people. I feel like that would be true for me, too. Thanks for the info!

            1. Jake*

              The one thing I’d say is that if it is the science of nursing and health-care that interests you, make sure to go for the bachelor’s. The associates degrees teach you all the necessary skills, but not really the science behind what you’re doing.

              If you’re in it to help people, go the shortest allowable route by your state’s licensure body.

              1. Jake*

                A caveat, many hospitals are going to a “bachelor’s prepared nurses only” standard, so research your area well before signing up for anything.

                1. Sarah Nicole*

                  Great advice, thank you so very much! I will be sure to look into all of that with my local programs.

    5. Kate*

      I am an RN with about 10 years of experience. I would recommend pursuing a BSN rather than an ADN, because many hospitals (in my area, at least) are focusing on hiring BSN prepared nurses. In fact, my hospital won’t consider hiring anyone without a BSN (although we have plenty of ADN nurses that have been grandfathered in). If you are planning to work during school, you might look into becoming a pct (patient care tech) at a hospital that you are interested in working at. I’m not sure about the requirements for that position because I went to college right out of high school, but I do know that my hospital offers tuition reimbursement, so we have many pcts that are in school and are gaining experience, and who will eventually work at the hospital.
      I very much enjoy being a nurse, although it does have its challenges, as does any job. Do you have any specific questions?

      1. Sarah Nicole*

        Kate, thank you very much for your response! That’s yet another person telling em about the BSN, so second Bachelor’s it is! Two of my friends have told me the same, so that’s the way I’ll have to go. Also thanks for the advice about the PCT, I’ll look into that!

        I would like to know a little about your experience with bullying and the whole “doctors treat nurses like crap” sort of thing I’ve heard and read about. I’ve heard the same thing about being in the military, but have never experienced it, so I’m wondering how prevalent some of these things are. I know lots of people have probably experienced them, but what is your personal interpersonal relationship experience in nursing?

        1. Kate*

          Gaah! Tried to reply and the site froze, so pardon me if this posts twice!! I can honestly say I’ve never been bullied by a doctor. I’ve had a few doctors reply in a rude tone, especially when I was calling in the middle of the night, but that is the exception, not the rule, at least where I work. I have worked on the same unit for almost 8 years, and have established a great rapport with the doctors I work with. I have heard that surgeons are much worse to work with, but I don’t have any OR experience, so I can’t speak to the truth of that.
          I have recently seen articles talking about “the dirty side of nursing” that tell stories of hazing and bullying. I’ve never seen anything like that, although I have worked with nurses that actively exclude others from their inner circle (think sighs when asked a question, eye rolls, gossiping). Those nurses are very much in the minority though. Most of the nurses I work with are caring, helpful, and great people! If anything, you become closer friends because of the long hours and stressful work. I think as with any field the culture can vary from place to place. Hope that helps put your mind at ease somewhat!

          1. Sarah Nicole*

            Kate, I just realized I had forgotten to come back to check for a response! Thank you so very much for your advice. I appreciate your candor and encouragement!

  45. J. Quackadilioso*

    Hello all! How much or how little do you recycle cover letters for multiple positions at the same company? The place I’m applying to regularly posts openings for similar positions — Teapot Inspector, Spouts Division; Teapot Inspector, Handles Division, etc. My qualifications for all of these are pretty much the same — experience as an inspector and demonstrated expertise in teapot-related issues. I can put in a sentence or two about why spouts or handles are specifically interesting to me, but beyond that there’s not a lot of customization I can do to each particular posting. Will it look weird if I submit very similar cover letters to like 8 different positions? I don’t know if hiring for these positions is handled by the same or different people.

    1. Ailsa AbuDhabi*

      Is there any way you could find out who’d be in charge of hiring for each position? I would think if you can get to talk to somebody on a personal level about being interested, an “I see you have several suitable positions open and I’d love to be considered for any of them” would be the best bet.
      I do think it might look a little weird to submit all but identical applications for each separate job in short order – especially if they see that you put “I’m very enthusiastic about a career in spout decoration” in one and “Handle shaping is my particular passion” in another. But it might also be an opportunity to experiment with changing up the style and structure of your usual cover letters, and you can get some good ideas and a bit more zing into them by doing that sometimes.

    2. Sara*

      I pretty much recycle the entire thing, since every job I’m applying for is the same job. (I’m an elementary school teacher.) If I have some connection to the school or district or there is something very unique about the school I’ll try to work that in, but the “look at how my previous experience makes me amazing for this job!” is the same for every school, even schools in the same district that use the same HR office. (This is also partially because I’m relatively new – 2nd year teaching – so I don’t have as much experience to draw on. Eventually my letters might vary more…but hopefully I’ll be in my forever school by that point anyway.)

  46. Stephanie*

    Haven’t heard back from a (sort of) internal interview. I’m a contractor at the company, so I was interviewed as an external candidate. Waiting’s agonizing, but I’m just assuming I didn’t get it. Emailed once as a followup after the initial timeframe passed and didn’t get a response. Haven’t gotten an official rejection and position is still listed as open, but no clue how they do rejections.

    Would it be ok to email for feedback at this point? I’d like some, if possible. Thought maybe it could be ok since I’m already working there.

    1. Adam*

      I think it might be ok to email again if a fair amount of time has passed and the position is still listed. What’s the company (hiring) culture like? I once interviewed for an internal position that I ultimately didn’t get and they never officially said anything to me. They just hired the candidate they wanted and that was that. Hopefully you have better insight to how that whole process works than I did. Good luck!

      1. Stephanie*

        Company’s pretty stodgy, rule heavy, and slow-moving, so it would not be completely out the realm of possibility that I’m still in the running. The hiring culture does seem to be all over the place, though–someone in my department did get an offer and transferred in like the span of two weeks. Boss had no clue why they would take so long (and he was the one who urged me to follow up).

      1. Stephanie*

        Interview was almost six weeks ago. My last follow-up was two weeks (about a week after their original stated timeframe of two weeks).

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          It’s definitely been a while, but I think I’d still hold off until you can tell for sure that they’re not hiring you. If you’re still in the running, it’ll come across oddly to ask for feedback about what you could do better next time. (And good luck!)

    2. Megan*

      I think you might want to wait until you get the official rejection. If they are still considering you, it might seem weird you assumed you didn’t get it. Just a thought.

    1. ThursdaysGeek*

      May Day! May Day! I forgot to bring flowers to work or to wear in my hair!

    2. Vanishing Girl*

      Hooray! I should have taken PTO today, now that I think of it.

      When I get home, I’ll have to do some protest singing instead. :D

    3. Jen RO*

      It’s a national holiday here, and I was out on vacation on Monday, so big yay for the three day work week!

  47. Serin*

    What are everybody’s best networking tips?

    I’m not looking for a job now, but I probably will be in a couple of years. In my last job hunt, I met a lot of people with great contacts and great ideas, and I just want to keep those relationships alive.

    1. Adam*

      Periodic friendly professional check-ins go a long way I think. Maybe just email them every three months or so to maintain open contact and see how things are going as well as update them on where you’re at. Maybe share interesting articles that you know pertain to their field. Networking is mainly about communicating, so if you make it clear those communication lines are open without being pushy it should help keep your network live.

    2. Florida*

      I like to meet people for breakfast or lunch. That might not be reasonable if your offices are on opposite sides of town. But if they are close, contact the person every few months and ask if they’d like to meet for lunch to catch up. If coffee or happy hour suits your style more, that works as well.

      Also if you ever have information that might be useful to the person, send them an email and let them know.

  48. Treena Kravm*

    In an interview, how do you go about finding out how raises work? Not necessarily the % or anything specific, but in general how increases in compensation typically work.

    For instance, my current non-profit, your review has 10-15 categories and for each you get a Excellent, Great, Satisfactory, Needs Improvement, or another one that was the equivalent of a 1 on a scale of 1-5.
    If you got all Excellent, 4% annual raise; all Great, 4% raise; all Satisfactory, 4% raise.
    Needs Improvement, 2% raise.
    Only if you got a 1, then you would not get a raise. Nobody ever gets a 1.

    To me, this system tells me that there is a culture where everyone knew you didn’t have to try very hard to be compensated relatively well, which I saw ring true in many other areas of the org. In the future, I don’t want to work at another place like this. After typing it all out, I realize that the raise situation is a symptom, not the cause. So what are some questions to ask in an interview that will give you information on the level of expectations an employer will hold you to?

  49. LOtheAdmin*

    Hey everyone!

    I was laid off from my old, icky employer before Christmas last year. It was emotionally devastating for me after spending months swimming in BS.

    But, as of yesterday, after months of unemployment and over 10 interviews to find a good match for me, I have finally accepted a job offer with a company with a ton of career potential.

    I owe Alison and the commenters on this site big time. This place gave me hope when I had little, useful and practical knowledge when I had none, and it showed me what to look for in a good manager.

    I’m so happy to be working again, and I’m even more happy that the man I’ll be reporting at this job is to nothing like the guy who laid me off.

    So, again, thank you Alison and everyone here for the bits of knowledge and much needed laughs at a time where I needed it the most.

    PS I start Monday. :-)

    1. Sarah Nicole*

      Ooh, congrats! Do you have anything special planned this weekend to celebrate? I hope you have a relaxing couple of days before your new adventure!

      1. LOtheAdmin*

        A pancake breakfast and a morning on the golf course is all I want. Should be leaving for that in about an hour. Yay!!

  50. T*

    I’m wondering if any, hmm, more “established” readers have any advice about how to tough-it-out during the early shitty parts of your career? I’m in my first job in my field of study and some days I just keep thinking that I made the worst choices ever. I’m working part-time in my field and part-time in retail and I’m just hoping that I can get enough experience in a year and a half to get the proper amount of experience for a full-time job somewhere in my field, but some days I just feel so negative. My job itself is fine, but I wish I studied something more stable like accounting instead, you know?

    Maybe I’m just being a baby, but any advice/encouragement would be welcome.

    1. Nanc*

      I think I qualify as this year I’m celebrating 40 years of working! Full disclosure: I have a BA in Liberal Studies and an MA in Humanities and I now work in technology. Past careers in Parks and Rec and Higher Education. Go figure. I spent a good part of my career working more than one job because that’s what it took to live. I will say I was lucky that my second job was always something I loved doing, but wouldn’t love doing full time. Maybe you need to look at finding a different second job besides retail–unless that’s an industry where you can potentially meet good contacts for your desired field. What do you love as a hobby? Reading, maybe your local library needs part-time shelvers. Crafter, artist, knitter, fitness expert–can you teach a class for your local parks and rec? Love wine, maybe a local vineyard or tasting room needs part-time help. Education, is there a tutoring center in your area that’s hiring? Musician, how about teaching lessons?

      For your field of study, are there any continuing ed courses you could take to learn new skills, refresh old ones, just be with folks who are in the field? Are there LinkedIn groups or other online communities you could join?

      If it’s any comfort, I think your feelings at this stage are pretty normal. You’ve finally gotten the hell out of school and you’re ready to apply those skills, and it’s not happening as fast as you desire. Find a way to focus on obtaining the experience and the full-time work without obsessing about it.

      Good luck and keep us posted.

    2. Clever Name*

      In my field, pretty much everyone starts out doing fieldwork. And often the work is in unpleasant conditions. Outdoor work in all types of weather. Physical work. Tedious work. Sometimes it really really sucks, but it’s really important to have experience in it for stuff you do later. And the kind of odd thing is that the people that are the best at doing fieldwork seem to do it less than people who just plod along.

      Think of the early tedious work as laying the foundation for higher level work.

    3. AnonResearcher*

      I’m only a decade into my career but I have a management position and make six figures so I hope you’ll consider my advice as well.
      The beginning of my career SUCKED. I was figuratively crapped on by jerks at every job I had for the first several years. I did my best to soldier through it but there were times I wished I could just marry into money or become a stay at home parent and give up working all together.
      Now I’m actually glad for those crappy years, I am stronger and better for it. I developed a tough skin and direct no nonsense approach to work which along with developing my expertise in an in-demand field, has secured my employment doing work I love. I haven’t even applied for a job in 5 years, employers head hunt me on a weekly basis…
      The early years are bad, but push through. Those experiences are what’s preparing you for the good parts to come!

  51. Amber Rose*

    How do I say “that’s not my job” without sounding lazy and checked out? Or “that is my job” without sounding like a jerk?

    I’m in this weird position where I told people that I’m doing X and Y and learning Z, but I get basically everything about everything except X and Y. I’m asked to order parts when I know nothing about procurement. Or do NC reports when my boss specifically doesn’t want me in Quality. Or complaints about WHMIS, and while I’m in the safety program I know next to nothing as I’m still training and the safety coordinator should be handling that.

    Worse, I then get “Sally usually does this but can you get the documents for this teapot?” Which IS my job, and I want people coming to me for that, not Sally. I’ve literally been studying and revamping that process for a month (got it down fron a 2 hour process to 20 minutes because i’m awesome). I know more about it than her now.

    1. Ama*

      Do you know who they should be contacting for the things that aren’t your job? I’ve found a polite redirect that includes the correct person’s info works well: “NC reports are actually Wakeen’s job, I’ve cc’d him so he can help you” (or if that’s not an acceptable practice “here’s his email if you need it.”

      For stuff that is yours: “I’m actually the point person in that area now, so I’m happy to help.”

      But it really sounds like you might want to suggest to your boss that an all-staff update on everyone’s general responsibilities might be in order, if everyone’s this confused.

    2. Mike C.*

      Whoa, if you’re not QA, you don’t touch NCs. There’s a reason for a wall, and if you’re in a regulated industry that’s going to piss off a lot of people.

    3. Mints*

      I think that offering the first step makes you seem helpful without doing anything. So if it’s an email, you forward it to the right person with like “Hi Bob, Sally actually manages teapot handles. Sally, could you help Bob review the handle report?” If it’s in person, I’d probably offer to send an email anyway.

      The reverse is harder though and I don’t know how to get Sally to send work back to you unless she works fairly closely and you can talk about it.

    4. Jessie's Girl*

      I usually say, “Sure, I’ll ask Wakeen, who’s in the Teapot Department to handle.” Or, “No problem, I’ll forward this to accounting.”

      That way, I still look helpful but Mrs. Jackson knows that I’m not the one who’s going to take care of her problem.

  52. To Interview or Not to Interview?*

    A friend of mine has been wanting to work with me for a few years (we work in a similar discipline and have similar philosophies on said discipline). There is an opening at his current company, and he knew I wasn’t super happy with my current company last we spoke. I’ve changed jobs twice in the last 12 months and I’m reluctant to jump ship again, but he encouraged me to apply and speak to them anyway.

    I figured it couldn’t hurt, so I had a phone interview with his boss and their HR manager. The call went well, and they’ve scheduled an in-person interview for next Friday.

    I’ve been talking it over a lot with my husband and honestly, unless they offer me buckets of cash, I probably wouldn’t be willing to jump ship. The company is similar enough to my current one in terms of size, work approach, and client work, that I don’t feel like there would necessarily be a great advantage to moving. And it would permanently mar my resume with job-hoppiness.

    After thinking through it more, I’m not sure I should go to the in-person interview–it might be a waste of their time and mine (a 4 hour interview). I’m worried that my friend might be upset if I bowed out of the process now, and I don’t want my bowing out to reflect poorly on him, since he gave them my resume.

    What do you guys think?

    1. costume teapot*

      If you aren’t happy with where you are now, isn’t it worth figuring out if the other company has a culture that fits better with your personality? Worst that can is your waste four hours. Best case, you might end up with buckets of cash in an environment you love.

      1. To Interview or Not to Interview?*

        What I was hating about this place was a lot more client-specific. After I raised the red flag, my senior management worked with me and the client to try to make things suck less. It’s still a work in progress, but my boss has basically said that if I hate working with the client, he’ll take the account and assign me some other clients to work with. So the place I’m working now sucks much less than it did a couple of months ago–I haven’t seen this friend much as things were improving, so he’s not as up-to-speed.

        But your thought isn’t bad either–what’s 4 hours of my life? And I can always say no after that if it doesn’t turn out to be something I want to jump ship for.

    2. Jessie's Girl*

      Don’t back out of the interview, it could burn a bridge that you later find out you don’t want to burn.

      You don’t yet know that the company isn’t one you’d like to work for, an interview begins your processing in finding that out. And there’s nothing to say you’ll even be receiving an offer or that you have to accept it if one comes.

      Also, there’s nothing saying that you have to list every job you’ve had on your resume. Think of a creative way in explaining a gap and x one out if you want.

  53. Writing on the wall*

    I wrote in at some point (I’ll post the link below) about how my company was bought out a little while ago, and the type of work that I did (development) for the old company is done overseas by the new company. My bosses have clearly wanted me to take over more client-facing project-manager-type work, since that’s what most of the people in my office do, but that’s not what I want to do. Shortly after I wrote in, one of the bosses – well, I guess he’s not technically my boss any more, but he was the owner of the old company – asked me point blank whether I wanted to do more client work or keep doing development. And I told him, honestly, that I didn’t like dealing with clients and I’d rather not. At the time, his focus was on freeing up my overworked coworker, so he just said something like “OK, then we’ll find or hire someone else to take over X projects, no problem” and that was that. Well, this week I had a call with him, and the writing is basically on the wall. I’m not getting enough work in from my current projects to fill all of my time, and since the company has a lot of overseas resources doing the same kind of work for much cheaper, it’s not cost-effective to put me on other projects. It sounds like I either need to go to the client side or… go.

    My preference is go. I’d already been looking around a little, but now obviously I’m going to need to step it up. And since the boss is being so clear about it, I’d like to go back to him and actually tell him that I think it’s time for me to look elsewhere, though obviously I’d like to stay employed while I do so. He’s a good guy, not the kind that would immediately show me the door, so I think he’d be willing to work with me as much as he can.

    Has anyone else ever done this? How has it worked? What kind of arrangement seems reasonable to work out? I’d ask him to be a reference, obviously (which would be great, since this is the only job I’ve had doing this kind of work). But is there anything else I could offer or ask for?

    1. BRR*

      There’s a post on here about transitioning out. But it’s about the manager side of things. I will link to it in a reply.

  54. CrazyCatLady*

    I seriously feel like I’m the most neurotic poster here, ever! I have a huge inadequacy complex. I get interviews at pretty big and awesome companies and then end up canceling the interview (not burning bridges, but just explaining that I’ve decided to stay in my position for now and wish them the best of luck in filling the position, etc.). I know the reason is because I’m scared once they meet me, they’ll think I’m nowhere near as good as my resume makes me seem and that I’ll just make a fool out of myself. To be clear, if I thought the interview would go well, I wouldn’t mind ultimately being rejected because I know there are loads of talented candidates out there. So, it’s not so much the rejection. It’s my own internal judgement of how foolish and stupid I’ll sound, which makes me feel humiliated. I’ve tried practicing and practicing and practicing for interviews but feel like I just come across as stilted. If I don’t rehearse or practice, I am a mess. I can’t think of answers to questions, I answer questions inadequately, I use “we” to describe things “I” did, etc.

    Anyone else do these stupid things? Any tips besides working on building my confidence?

    1. Amber Rose*

      That sounds like my anxiety. There’s nerves/low confidence, and then there’s fear to the extent that it interrupts your life.

      For example, I joined a martial arts class. I’ve been 10 minutes late because I stand in the hall hyperventilating and wanting to go home. All that, for something I really have fun with and enjoy. But I am afraid of looking stupid so I end up in a blind panic.

      I urge therapy, but if not, try telling everyone you know you’re doing this interview. Tell yourself, “I am doing this.” Make a pact with a friend that you won’t cancel without their permission. Then ignore the fear and go.

      1. CrazyCatLady*

        Good for you for joining martial arts in spite of your anxiety! Mine makes me cancel on everything all the time :(

        I definitely have anxiety and sadly, have been in therapy most of my life. I’ve just had some more serious issues and traumas that I’ve spent most of my time working on that I’m just finally starting to address this. In fact, since I’ve worked on my more serious issues, I think I even have more anxiety because there’s less distraction and I’m more aware of my own behavior.

        I totally do tell everybody and ask people not to let me cancel too! But I end up doing it anyway and because I have a job, no one gives me too much crap about it.

      2. Colette*

        The fear of looking foolish is pretty common, as I’m sure you know. A couple of years ago I was waffling about going to yoga I. The park u til I realized that the worst case scenario involved me not finding the class after going for a walk in the sunshine.

    2. LizB*

      This is silly, but one thing that has helped me is reading all the wild stories AAM gets about terrible, terrible candidates. I may have confidence issues, but hey, at least I wasn’t terribly rude to the front desk staff when scheduling my interview! At least I’m not going to send them an invoice for my time when we’re done! At least I didn’t write them two ragey emails with ALLCAPS and exclamation points!!!! about how their online application system sucks! At least I didn’t straight-up lie about having a college degree!

      Interviewers see tons of resumes and tons of candidates, and I’m sure they all have some weird stories. Even if you’re not the right fit for the job, or they’re not impressed with your responses, it’s basically guaranteed that you’re not the worst or weirdest person they’ve ever interviewed. They know that a resume is a marketing document that’s going to emphasize exactly what the candidate wants it to, they know that people get nervous in interviews. There’s no way you’re the most WTF person they’ve ever had across from them, and the letters AAM gets can confirm that.

      1. CrazyCatLady*

        This is really helpful, thanks. I have actually read those stories too with much pleasure and they definitely do help me. And I’ve been on the other side of the table and know that candidates aren’t always perfectly suited for the job or able to articulate why they’d be good at it… so I should be less hard on myself.

    3. Colette*

      So if they met you and thought that you weren’t as good as your resume says, what would happen?

      The answer of course is that you ewouldnt get the job.

      What happens when you bow out of the interview?

      1. CrazyCatLady*

        I would feel awful and rejected and like I’m a loser and ugh, just so many things I don’t want to think.
        I feel a sense of relief when I bow out of the interviews and mentally, I feel like at least they didn’t have to be disappointed by me.

        1. Colette*

          What if you said to yourself “I’m not going you get the job, but I want to know more about it so I’m going to go in and see what they have to say”?

          Alternatively, what if you stopped applying for jobs? I suspect there’s a limit to how many times you can do this before they stop calling.

      2. College Career Counselor*

        If they invite you for an interview, they think that you can do the job. They’re looking for fit, which may not help the interview performance anxiety, I realize.

        I do not wish to minimize your anxiety in any way, but it does sound like in this case it manifests as a particularly virulent strain of Imposter Syndrome (as it relates to performing in an interview). But, it may help for you to create a pre-interview mantra: “I have a job, I’m good at it, I know my stuff, they WANT me to interview with them, and this is just a conversation about things I’m good at.” That might help re-frame things somewhat.

    4. Mimmy*

      I’m pretty neurotic too, so you’re not alone!! I get excited about potential opportunities, then wimp out. I might’ve canceled an interview or two, but that was YEARS ago. I do get some of those same concerns though. My fear is imposter syndrome.

      I will definitely be following this thread :)

    5. april ludgate*

      I’ve had similar anxiety problems, and it’s so terrible when you feel so self-sabotaging all the time. I’ve just practiced forcing myself to do things that make me anxious and they never turn out as badly as I think they will. Then I have those times as examples for when I’m psyching myself out again in the future. But if you’re getting interviews, you’re going into a room of people who already think you’re qualified and who are looking forward to learning more about you and your skills. They’re not judging you or out to get you (if they are, you’re better off not working for them!) they’re people who have gone through interviews and understand how nerve wracking it can be. Also, I’ve found that sometimes, in the moment, I just completely transcend my anxiety (kind of autopilot) and then freak out afterwards. Definitely consider talking to a professional therapist, though, they can give out great tips for dealing with anxiety, what you’re describing isn’t uncommon and you’re definitely not alone!

  55. Nerdling*

    Does anyone else work in an office where dealing with the Keurig is apparently too much to ask of people? Monday morning I had to refill it and remove used K-cups from the machine twice before I managed to get my tea and oatmeal done. I already know that my coworkers will just laugh me off if I bring it up (I like them, but sometimes I wouldn’t mind throttling them), so I could use some advice on how to Zen out every day. It’s not worth getting cranky every morning before I’ve even had caffeine.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Not the Keurig, but we have one person in our tiny office who doesn’t do her damn dishes. She also doesn’t replace the paper towels or the toilet paper roll. She recently suggested to another co-worker that we get an expensive blender for our office so she can make smoothies, and my response was, “Is she going to f***ing clean it?” (Yup, I’m so courteous and professional.)

      No advice, but what I would do is exactly what you’re doing and try not to get too resentful about it. Think of it as the price you pay to get that delicious cup of caffeinated goodness.

      1. Ama*

        In my current office, we’re mostly pretty good (I think it helps that 90% of us have some admin support and/or event planning background, so we’re used to being the ones who handle little details for others). But when I worked in academia it was *awful* — we couldn’t even get some people to put dirty mugs in a nearby sink so *someone else* could collect them for washing.

        But your story about the blender makes me laugh, because while in academia one of my bosses brought in a fancy Nespresso machine with one of those milk foaming chambers. I knew cleaning it would wind up being my responsibility (and since some of my coworkers worked on weekends I was envisioning starting Monday mornings with sour milk smell) so with his permission I just told everyone that we didn’t set up the milk feature.

        1. april ludgate*

          Ditto to the academia messes. The dean of my department had to email everyone asking them to clean out the microwave if their food splatters. Once, in a level of passive aggression I haven’t seen since my college roommates, one employee once pulled all the spoiled food containers out of the fridge and left them on the staff room table all day so people could “claim” them, which caused the staff room to stink to high heaven for days afterward. The same person hid the dish drying rack when people weren’t putting dishes away quickly enough. It’s ridiculous, really.

    2. Carrie in Scotland*

      Not a Keurig but some people can’t follow instructions as to how to fill out forms!

    3. Viktoria*

      in my office we all remove the used cup from the previous use and fill as needed. I take it you’re expecting people to remove their used cup after they finish? Maybe you and your coworkers are not on the same page, protocol wise.

      1. Nerdling*

        I guess that’s possible. Doesn’t help that I don’t actually USE the K-cups (I have tea bags), so nobody has to throw away my trash; I only have to throw away theirs. I’ll try to focus on me being the weird one on that issue (they can still take the time to refill the daggone water, though).

    4. Lily in NYC*

      We had to get rid of ours because jerk coworkers kept stealing the coffee. All I can think of is to put up a passive-aggressive sign near the machine.

    5. K-Cup Woes*

      Sigh. Yes. Despite signs all over the kitchen that ask people to throw away their used K-cups after making coffee, I never find the Keurig empty and awaiting my coffee-making pleasure. I know it’s not a big deal for me to throw someone else’s K-cup away, but I also know it’s not a big deal for someone to throw it away themselves.

      1. Shortie*

        The Great K-Cup Debate is interesting to me. I throw my own away because there is a little sign reminding us to and because I know others expect it, but it is more logical to me to throw the previous person’s away. Maybe my brain works backwards, but when I throw my own away, it’s still hot and dripping…even if I wait a minute. I’d rather each person throw the previous person’s away so they’re completely cool and no longer dripping. That said, I wouldn’t want a K-cup to sit in there all weekend, so Fridays would have to have a different a rule, which would get confusing. Okay, maybe I just changed sides! Ignore this comment, ha!

    6. peanut butter kisses*

      They might not be throwing it out because those Kcups are so hot right after you brew your cup of coffee. They might be thinking that they are going to wait a while for it to cool down before taking it out.

      1. peanut butter kisses*

        Oh – and then forgetting about them, like I forgot the last sentence of that post. Oops.

    7. Jessie's Girl*

      Suggest getting one of the Keurig’s that clears the slot when the top is opened. Then you only have to empty it when the reservoir is full.

  56. Outta Here*

    I just signed an offer letter for a position at a new company! I’m very excited! My question is, in an exit interview, how much is appropriate to share? I’m essentially leaving my current position because my relationship with my new boss is simply unmanageable. But I’m not alone – I know for a fact that more than half of the our (small) staff is looking for work, people are contacting labor lawyers and there is a group considering going straight to our Board of Directors since the senior management is refusing to deal with the issue. I want to be honest, but not mean, and I don’t just want it to seem like sour grapes. Any advice?

    1. Lily in NYC*

      Hm, this is tough. Most people I work with would say nothing and pretend everything was hunky -dory. I’m a bit of a mouthy broad so I would probably say something (but I would be much more diplomatic than usual). Something like: I really don’t want to get into this too deeply, but the main reason I am leaving is because of Manager’s poor management and the fact that nothing is being done about it even though it is glaringly obvious there’s an issue.
      But if you need them for a reference, I wouldn’t say anything.

    2. the gold digger*

      There was nothing nice I could have said about my old job, so I just refused to do an exit interview. No good can come from being honest about negative things.

      1. Windchime*

        This is how I feel about exit interview. They didn’t care about any of the issues the first (or second or third) time I brought them up; why would they suddenly care now? So I declined to do an exit interview when I left my last job.

    3. misspiggy*

      It depends on whether you think the person doing the interview will listen. Big changes can come for your remaining colleagues if that is the case.

  57. Calla*

    Well I think we have a counter-offer success story!

    My girlfriend has been a home health aide; she’s been looking to get out of it. 2 weeks ago she got an offer for a temp-to-perm position through a staffing agency and accepted. Her employer had been trying to get her to stay, but she was clear that she wanted out of the HHA thing. This week, they came back with an offer: work in their main office as an HR assistant/scheduler, full time and permanent, with benefits, matching the salary from the other position (which is nearly 2x what she was making as an HHA). The commute to this job is also way better than the temp-to-perm one, and she does like the people who work in the office, so it’s also not as much of an “omg new job” shock.

    I told her normally you don’t take a counter offer, but their offer resolved all of her concerns (job change, salary increase) with some added perks. So she took it! It also has the bonus of boosting her confidence, I think–the manager said the other people in the office had been telling her to offer the position to my girlfriend. :)

    1. LisaS*

      Congratulate her! And yeah, it’s good to hear that negotiating works – I thinks it’s the approach you take, and it sounds like she handled it really well by making it clear it wasn’t just more money she was looking for but different work, which they were in a position to offer. So a win for both sides as opposed to a loss for one…

    2. Persephone Mulberry*

      I think if your reasons for leaving are more about dissatisfaction with the role rather than the company, and the company is willing to address that, then it’s a little bit different than when the company just tries to throw around money/title changes to keep you. I also gave my notice what is still my current company, and I told them it was because I really hated doing X and could not stomach doing X anymore. So they said “well, we really value what you bring to the table, so what if you didn’t have to do X?” and they created a new position for me that was much better tailored to my skills and interests.

      Disclaimer – in my case I didn’t have another job lined up yet, I just needed out. But if they had said “what if we pay you MORE to keep doing X,” I still would have walked.

  58. Stemmie*

    I’m a summer camp administrator at a non-profit that runs several different camps and programs. We receive some government funding to run my camp for teens for free, so we don’t charge anything for that one. It’s really important for the program funder that we max out attendance and leave no slot unfilled, and to that end, discouraging applicants from flaking out is a priority. This should be easy – the activities are very popular (and have some academically prestigious cachet that looks good on college applications), there is very limited space at camp, and last year, we accumulated a waitlist that was easily used to fill a last-minute cancellation.

    However, I’ve been butting heads with my boss, because boss’ flakeguard of choice is a substantial deposit to hold each camper’s slot – i.e. camper gets accepted, parents send deposit check for $X00, campers who actually show up to attend camp get their check returned, and campers who bail lose $X00. The loss is purely theoretical at this point; campers can cancel their registration up to a week before camp, and I have the authority to waive the deposit requirement for applicants in need. (If we did collect, the non-profit would just absorb it to fund our other non-govt.-funded programs.) But I wonder how many people are looking at this camp and then turning away when they see the deposit requirement. I grew up without a ton of money, and I know my parents would have been reluctant to possibly lose $X00 for me to go do this “free program” in high school, not to mention suspicious enough of the demand in the first place that they wouldn’t have even let me apply. Last year, the only kids who attended came from wealthy suburbs – we had only one low-income applicant, but he chose a different free program even after I waived the deposit.

    With government funding involved, are there ethical or legal issues with asking for this attendance deposit? What are better guards against flaky attendance than a deposit? And parents/educators: if you saw a free government-funded program requiring an anti-flake deposit, what would you think of it?

    1. Chana*

      I don’t know the legal issues but as a kid in a family without any money, we would’ve specifically been looking for free programs. If we saw that there was a deposit required, not only would we not have been able to afford it, but I think we probably would’ve assumed it was a scam. “It’s totally free, but give us $x00 and we pinky-promise we will give it back to you!” sounds sketchy.

      1. ThursdaysGeek*

        Yup, as soon as we saw a deposit was needed, even if fully refunded, we would have moved on to something affordable.

        And I would have assumed the $100 check was cashed, and then then refunded, so that would really mean that money needed to be available.

    2. LizB*

      As someone who works with low-income kids, I think the deposit is likely discouraging kids from applying. Teens know how much their parents can afford, and if they see that a camp is going to make their parents hold $x00 dollars basically in limbo for months, many of them aren’t going to apply for that camp. If any families are living paycheck-to-paycheck, it’s unlikely they’re going to have the cash for the deposit, and even if they do, their circumstances may be unpredictable enough that they can’t risk losing it if someone gets sick or they get evicted or anything else happens. Also, if you’re not publicizing that the deposit can be waived, it’s unlikely families will ask for a scholarship. I don’t know about the legalities or ethics, but I think it may well be losing you potential campers.

    3. Treena Kravm*

      I can’t speak to the legalities, but ethically, this is really crappy. As others have mentioned, many low-income teens/families will self-select out because they can’t afford it. I grew up upper-middle class in the tri-state area and I self-selected out of expensive ($1k-4k) summer programs because it would be asking too much of my parents.

      And I know you didn’t ask this, but I have to say it. The fact that your free camp is filled with wealthy teenagers is a major problem. I’m sure that funding doesn’t exist to get rich kids great opportunities for free, even if it’s not specifically required for them to be low-income. I would seriously push back against the deposit, but also push to increase your outreach to lower-income schools. Guidance counselors there would LOVE to give theirs students these types of opportunities.

      As a citizen, I would be horrified that this is how government-funded programs are operating. They way your org has it set up, our tax-dollars are subsidizing rich kids getting one more leg up and purposefully ignoring the kids who need these types of programs.

      I’m also confused as to why you need an system to prevent flakes if the wait list is long enough that you’ve never had to have an empty spot.

      1. Stemmie*

        Oh believe me, I’m right there with you against subsidies for rich students – I’ve been saying it to boss and coworkers plenty myself. Coworkers are with me (and their programs serve needier populations way more effectively) but boss is boss. It really boggles my mind that he doesn’t see the problem of the deposit. Applications have been open for about a week and all I’ve got are apps from tony places again. If another week goes by the same way, I’m pushing again. Do you (and other folks, definitely would love more input) have other ideas besides simply keeping the waitlist, which we’re doing deposit or no deposit? And what other policies do program directors out there have in place to prevent people from flaking on a free program?

        Re: the “never an empty slot,” this is only the 2nd season it’s been running, so it’s tough to say we’d fill it year after year, but yes, it’s a small enough program that the waitlist should override the need for a deposit. This was a major point of contention between us last year, too. I’m actively hunting for another job, so I might not be around to see how attendance shakes out. But I’m hoping I can at least solve the deposit problem before I go.

        1. Treena Kravm*

          Honestly, I would just gather a lot of research about low-income teens/families and show it to your boss in a very matter of fact way. Low-income teens who “flake” on a free program are usually doing so because they have to work instead. I just listened to a great presentation about how a historically black college is trying to get more black students to study abroad. They have 3 spots every year for a 100% covered semester abroad (tuition, room/board, flight, visas, everything covered). A big factor is that they work 30 hour/week and send home a majority of the money they make. So even if they get it for free, their family is missing out on that $150/week.

          Have you been asking why people flake? Do they just not show up? Can you contact them and ask? This could reveal some barriers that you weren’t aware of. For instance, is public transportation to the program easy? (Car broke down, can’t go anymore) Is lunch provided? (Mom said she would pack me a lunch, but most days we don’t have enough food) Are you providing adequate information about the program, how it works, what it’ll be like? (Low-income teens who haven’t had a lot of experiences outside their neighborhood find it really intimidating to even go across town on their own to the rich side of town to the college campus.)

          The thing is, your boss doesn’t sound like he wants to actually work with low-income communities. He sounds like he wants to be a white savior-type, and offer the program, but if they can’t do it, it’s not his problem. I would try like hell to get him to understand that he’s literally keeping these kids out because he refuses to understand where they’re coming from.

          Honestly, the most successful program participation rates I’ve seen have included incentives. Even a $10-15 card at a sandwich place for every week they attend, it’s something. Or, if you don’t have the budget, you can get stuff donated (products, gift cards, etc.) and each day they attend they get a raffle ticket, and at the end of the program, there’s a drawing for the grand prize.

          Also, I never mentioned this because it seems obvious, but do you confirm at any point? Like they sign up in March, and til June, do they hear anything from you? Letter home, or phone call? Can you check-in a month or so before the program starts and fill from the waiting list? Maybe just having a system in place for moving people off/on these lists will make the boss feel better about the lack of a deposit.

          Last case scenario–can you put on the actual flyer/material something like “deposit can be waived if requested” and then waive all the deposits from the lower-income kids? And then maybe even collect a couple of the richer kid’s deposits and use those as incentives as I suggested above.

          Whew that was a lot, hope at least some of it was helpful!

    4. aliascelli*

      I am also not a fan of the deposit. Would your boss consider creating a waitlist instead, to buffer against cancellations?

      1. Stemmie*

        We’ll be keeping a waitlist once we have enough applications. In addition to keeping a waitlist, what are some other tools I can use to ensure filled slots? (Besides a deposit, obviously.)

    5. fposte*

      Rawr. This is a bad thing.

      My guess is that the funding program would be pretty horrified, and that you might not get money from them in future.

    6. Sara*

      I teach in a high-needs school and I wouldn’t even bother sending home the flier for a camp that had a $x00 deposit (even if it was refundable as the OP describes). My kids’ parents/guardians don’t have that kind of money lying around for a camp deposit, and I’d be concerned about whether the refund claim was actually true or not. A waitlist is a much better idea.

      1. Stemmie*

        I used to teach in a high needs school as well, and I had the same thought as you when the deposit came up, i.e. “Who can I even publicize this to now?” I do remember students really needing to drop things at the last minute all the time, though, so what other things can I do to guard against program dropouts?

      2. Stemmie*

        …I ask because I’m not sure I can get boss to budge without an [apparently] airtight solution.

    7. Betty (the other Betty)*

      Another reason that low income families may not pay a deposit: What if something happens and they have to move or the student can no longer attend? Even if the family can afford to set $100 or more for a short while, the risk of losing that money may be too high.

  59. Xarcady*

    So, I’m temping while looking for work. I just started a new temp job for the next 6 weeks, and possibly longer. However, the two people I’m working with are so busy that they really do not have time to train me on much. I’m getting one tiny task per day, which, after a week of this, is filling up about 10% of my time.

    The project is one the company picked up after another company told the client, sorry, we’re breaking the contract mid-year, good luck. So there are a lot of problems and issues and fires to be put out. I’m here to learn some of the day to day stuff so the other two can focus on the big stuff.

    I’ve read all the documentation they’ve given me. I’ve cleaned the office, dusted the desk and bookcase, sorted through the papers my predecessor left behind, straightened out the mess of cords behind the computer, emptied the overflowing trash bin. I’ve temped for this particular company a lot, so there’s not much to learn about the company as a whole. Now what do I do? There’s a bit of software I can explore a bit more, but what on earth do I do to appear busy where there is literally nothing for me to do? (I suspect in a week or two I will have more work, as they will have trained me on more things, so this is a short-term problem. I hope.)

    Another way to look at this is, just how much internet surfing can I get away with?

    1. fposte*

      I had one temp job where I read a book a day. I think that looks marginally better than having your phone out, so maybe that.

  60. accounting princess*

    I know you shouldn’t arrive too early to an interview, but what if you really have to pee? I have an interview in 25 minutes and there are no public restrooms nearby. Can I arrive 10 minutes early, but ask to use the restroom first??

    1. Delyssia*

      10 minutes early seems fine to me, and I don’t see a problem with asking to use the restroom. And good luck!

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Yes! This is perfectly normal practice, as far as I’m concerned. I used to always arrive about 15 minutes early, check in with the front desk and ask for the ladies room. It’s kind of expected that we will want to check our faces and hair, adjust the outfit, change the shoes, etc.

      My office is open plan and small, so early arrivals can be a bit uncomfortable, but if someone came in and asked to use the bathroom first, I wouldn’t blink an eye.

  61. Viktoria*

    I’m looking for input of how to organize/allocate duties. I am one of 3 employees in a small company whose tasks overlap in several areas. We all answer phones, do online customer service, place orders, track shipments, and provide quotes. Basically a combination of inside sales and customer service. We each also have some tasks unique to us- for instance, one person handles all returns, And I handle the invoicing and banking. Part of my role is also to try and figure out how we can work more efficiently.

    Currently we all just do everything and communicate via IM to “claim” tasks. We are in 2 offices in different time zones. It works ok for the most part, but things tend to fall through the cracks and it creates a lot of inefficiencies.

    What is a good way to divy up tasks like these? Should we assign each task to one person, whose job it would be to make sure nothing is missed and assign the incoming items to others as needed? My boss’s idea was to alternate days- for example, on Mondays I would be responsible for all shipments. I don’t know that that would work particularly well.

    Any ideas?

    1. Jillociraptor*

      Have you ever used Asana? It’s a group planning/execution tool. You can assign an owner for the overall task, and for each subtask. I think now you can also tag someone in follow up notes, even.

      So you can have a master “project” that’s the Smith Order, assigned to you. You would create the subtasks for “provide a quote,” “confirm order,” “create shipment,” whatever the steps are, and assign them to others. You can all add notes to the “project” so that everyone knows that Smith requested expedited support, or their contact is SUPER longwinded or whatever you need to know to collaborate effectively on the order.

      My gut thought is that you’re going to have the best outcomes if one person is the “point person” for each overall order, even if others are responsible for discrete subtasks. It’s really hard to coordinate by committee!

      1. Viktoria*

        Cool, I will look into Asana! That sounds interesting. thanks for the suggestion!

        The nature of the business is that we have 50+ orders per day, and only a handful require more attention than just our routine tasks. So while it might make sense to “assign” those orders to one person, the majority of our orders would have to be handled a little differently. But I think something along those lines would work best.

  62. SevenSixOne*

    Want to take a survey about what your work schedule is like?

    I posted this here about a year ago and thought the results and discussion about it were fascinating. I’m not doing anything with the results but satisfying my curiosity, and you can see the results when you finish.

    Link in the reply to avoid moderation hell :)

      1. Jen RO*

        Also, this comment goes against everything I’ve hear about French people: “It is impossible to leave at 6 here in France. It would mean being lazy.”
        Everyone says they are out the door the second the clock strikes 5! (Except for my coworkers in Paris. They stay late and forget that their late is even later for me!) [Sorry, French people. I guess my friends have had bad experiences with your countrymen.]

  63. NurseTeachy*

    Hi everyone!

    I’m a new adjunct prof teaching nursing clinicals. I’ve been a nurse for a long time, and teaching has been going well (it’s basically just precepting with a few extra people), but I have one problem student. Any time I pull her to the side (to an empty, private room) to privately speak with her about issues with her performance, she bursts into tears. She even hyperventilates. I tried to discuss how that behavior is an issue, and she burst into tears at that. I’m at a total loss. She’s not young, either, she’s one of my oldest students, nearly 30. How do you give feedback to someone when they hyperventilate and weep every time? Have any of you dealt with this? None of my other students have had any issues like this when I give feedback. The feedback can be as simple as “it’s not great that you forgot what the medication did in between getting it from the med room and giving it to the patient” and the waterworks begin. As far as I know, nothing is going on at home with her that would cause this overreaction (I asked her).

    1. Xarcady*

      Well, having been a teacher myself, sometimes students react like this because it gets them out of the discussion about what they did wrong.

      If that’s the case here, I’d just continue on with what I had to say.

      But it could be that she just can’t take criticism of any kind. In the nursing profession, I would think that would be a liability. In your shoes, I’d talk with other instructors and see how they handle this type of student. If they can give you any pointers, I’d try them and see if anything improves.

      But if nothing improves, I’d talk with the head of the program about this student. In her professional life, she’s going to have doctors get upset with her, patients get upset with her, patients’ families get upset with her. She really needs to learn how to control the tears and hysteria, moreso than in many other fields.

      1. fposte*

        Agreeing with Xarcady, especially on the head of program thing. Also, it’s fine for you to keep going even if she’s weeping and hyperventilating. Give her a minute, and if she doesn’t get it together, keep going and follow up via email.

      2. NurseTeachy*

        Thank you, Xarcady! I appreciate the advice. I think I was stymied by it, and did not continue until she had calmed down. I then let her tears convince me into a lesser consequence than I had originally planned. I am unsure if its because she does not want to have the discussion or if its due to not being able to take criticism. I have spoken with the head of the program and her theory faculty for both this semester and next semester, so she (hopefully) won’t squeak by, but I really appreciate your advice on not letting it get to me and just continuing as needed.

    2. Treena Kravm*

      Aside from the hysterics, is the feedback you’re giving normal, or is she not doing as well as the rest of her classmates? Because she’s older, I’m inclined to think that she’s realizing that her career change might not have been the best plan. If I’m correct, clinicals are towards the end of a nursing degree correct? Where all the info you’ve been learning comes together and you treat real patients? She’s probably realizing this is actually what nursing is like and she’s not as up for it as she wanted to be when she first started on the nursing track.

      1. Anx*

        That’s what I wondered, too. This could be a second degree, largely funding out of pocket or by loans. At her age, I imagine she’d afraid this is her ‘last chance’ to get a toe-hold into a career.

        If the feedback you’re giving her is normal or not a career breaker, is there a way you could let her know that? You shouldn’t have to do that, but I wonder if she’s panicking that she’ll never be able to make it as a nurse or that she’s incapable or that her instructor doesn’t think she has what it takes.

        1. NurseTeachy*

          It’s funny you say that, Anx – one of the things she said to me while hyperventilating was that she didn’t want me to think she couldn’t do it. At the time, I dismissed the comment as her not recognizing that the feedback was not about me, but was about nursing skills in general, but after reading your comment, I think you may have hit the nail on the head. The problem is that while some of the feedback is normal, some of it is because of things she should be able to do by this point. I should definitely be more clear on which is which, though, you are absolutely right. It’s so odd to me to think that a student would be more worried about my opinion, since I don’t really consider myself to be anyone particularly important – I’m acting more as just an experienced nurse who knows what the field requires, just like any nurse would/could. You’ve really shifted my thinking on this!

      2. NurseTeachy*

        This is a second degree for her, but clinicals are done throughout the course of a nursing degree. In this case, this is her third semester, and I am unsure how she managed to squeak by in her last two clinicals. However, this is definitely the first clinical where students are more independent and are encouraged to “take on a patient” on their own (though the assigned RN and I are both there still and working with the patients as well). I really appreciate your perspective – honestly, it has been so long since I graduated, I’ve forgotten how the thought of “not being good enough” to be a nurse can get to you. That may very well have a lot to do with this.

    3. the gold digger*

      We were doing training about how to give feedback and were doing role plays. I was the employee getting the negative feedback, so I started crying and moaning and trying to play on the “boss’s” sympathy.

      He was having none of it. He did not alter his tone. He did not acknowledge the tears. He just paused, asked, “Are you ready?” and continued with his very factual recitation of the problems and what I needed to do to fix them.

      I was in awe of his approach.

      1. NurseTeachy*

        Holy crap, your boss is a hero. I want to be him one day, because that is exactly how I wish I could have handled it.

    4. Jennifer*

      My guess is that she’s been traumatized by someone else in her past and now freaks out.

    5. Sara*

      What is your tone and body language like when you’re speaking to her? I ask because I had a supervisor in the past who went into her “angry stance” whenever she gave feedback, so even when her word choice was completely appropriate, it looked and sounded like the employee had started a chain reaction that would lead to the end of the world. Make sure you are calm and that your body language and facial expression convey that, too.

      1. LisaS*

        I always try to sit next to someone when I’m giving negative feedback or questioning them about something they are doing that”s not as effective as it should be. That way we can look at whatever it is together and the whole eye contact issue becomes easier, plus I feel less like the principal of their elementary school and more like someone with whom they can work together to make improvements/get coaching or whatever needs to happen. Too, when it’s time for one of those talks, it can be helpful to have a pad of paper that you can both make notes on… Maybe that could work?

        1. NurseTeachy*

          Hm, these are both good points. I was sitting next to her at the time, but I think I may come off as harsher than I mean to be, because I am from the east coast and I’m teaching on the west coast…and the stereotypes are definitely true, my first year here I was constantly accidentally insulting people when I thought I was just being normal and to-the-point. I’ve been here long enough now that I don’t really think about that any longer, but I was rarely put in a position to give feedback before I started teaching, so I might not be appropriately softening my body language to fit this coast.

  64. Lindsay J*

    Pay question.

    I am hourly, non-exempt. Live in Texas. I work for an airline, but am not flight crew (might be relevant because I think the rr act governs some aspects of airline pay, but AFAIK not mine). Non-Union.

    Basically, I think they are doing weird things with my pay which lead to me not being compensated fully.

    I’ll explain using hypothetical numbers.

    Say the base hourly rate for my position is $10.
    I work night shift, which pays a shift differential of $1.
    And I attended training for a specific skill, which leads to a $1 pay increase.
    So essentially my pay rate is $12/hr.

    However, each of these things are shown as a separate line item on my paycheck. So working 40 hours a week it would show
    $10 x 40 = $400
    $1 x 40 = $40
    $1 x 40 = $40
    total pay = $480

    This is cool up to 40 hours a week. However, once I hit OT is where I think it might not be okay, (but I really don’t know) because the 1.5 pay rate is only being calculated on the $10/hr.

    If they just calculated it on my total hourly compensation and I worked 70 hours in the week it would be $12×40=$480, $18×30=540. I would get $1020.

    However, instead it’s $10×40=$400, $15×30=$450, $1×70=$70, $1x$70=$70. So I get $990 instead. It’s not a huge difference, but it adds up.

    Also, training and travel are counted separate from work time. So if I worked 36 hours for the week, then was paid for 8 hours of training, and 16 hours of travel time, my paycheck would show 60 hours paid at my normal rate, rather than 40 hours at normal rate and 20 at 1.5 rate. (Classroom training, not hands on, if that makes any kind of difference.)

    Again, this may all be totally legit, I’m just curious because this is an area where I don’t know what the right/legal thing is.

    1. Apollo Warbucks*

      I think it will depend on your pay agreement if you have anything in writing check it out. It looks to me like they are treating the additional items as enchaements / premiums to your wage which doesn’t seem bad to me.

      However I don’t like the distinction being made between work time training time and traveling time it’s all work and I would expect anything over 40 hours to be treated as overtime.

      I’d start by talking to your state labour board and get some advice on the situation.

    2. Treena Kravm*

      You’re right that this could all be above-board, but it does sound fishy to me. I would check with your state labor board. How big of an airline is it? I would be shocked if it was a bigger carrier and no one had brought it up before.

    3. acmx*

      Typically, you get overtime based on your hourly rate. The other pay is ‘bonus’. Not all companies offer a differential or extra pay for extra duties that require specific training (many do, of course).

      Double check your work week and see if some of your training /travel falls into a different week (whenever your company determines its payweek).

      If you work 12 hours shifts and get paid as if you worked 40, your first 4 hours over your normal schedule (of 3-12s) might be a normal rate since the company gives you free hours.

    4. Sasha*

      You have an extra $1/hr in the first calculation. $15/hr OT pay + $1/hr + $1/hr = $17/hr.

      1. Lindsay J*

        The first calculation I was basing the 1.5 time on the entire payrate, so base rate of $12, time and a half payrate of $18 (12+6). That’s basically what I’m wondering – I don’t know whether that’s the correct way to look at it or not.

    5. Natalie*

      IANAL, but according to the FLSA fact sheet and other results on Google, it appears that shift differentials and most bonuses must be included when determining your “regular rate of pay”.

  65. Chana*

    This is just a vent. IT at my company made a mistake and deleted my account from our company’s website. In the process, they also deleted every single post I have ever made, and every single image I have ever uploaded.

    So most of our content from the past 6 months is gone, plus assorted stuff from earlier than that when I wasn’t doing as much on the website. I’m not even mad, I’m just kind of bleak. I did not have a copy of the entire website backed up. I do have most of the content saved on my computer, but it’s a matter of figuring out what I actually had up and what was in all of the individual posts, assuming I can reconstruct all of them. Next week I’m going to try to see if Google cached anything.


    1. Elkay*

      Oof, can you get anyone to lean on IT and see if they have back ups? Not sure how Google caches stuff but I’d get IT trying to get that stuff back sooner rather than later.

      1. Chana*

        I wish! Unfortunately when I called (because they told me this via sending me a new account login) and asked if that meant everything old was gone, they said yes, it was just gone. :(

        I mean luckily it’s not like, a shopping website, so the website is still functional for basic reference, but if anybody wants to look at more recent event posts or pictures they’re going to have to wait a while.

        1. fposte*

          Your company’s IT doesn’t back up the website? That seems like a very bad oversight to me.

          1. ThursdaysGeek*

            Yeah, a professional IT department does backups. And has a disaster recovery plan, including restoring from backups.

          2. Chana*

            IT doesn’t actually work in the same office as me so I kind of only talk to them when there’s an issue. I don’t really know much about how they run! It’s a small place (as we’re small ourselves) so I think there’s only two or three people over there.

            I’m going to ask about back-ups. Luckily it won’t be only me asking since other people are irritated that this happened.

        2. Colette*

          I’d push back on that (I.e. Escalate within IT). Sometimes the person you’re talking to doesn’t know about backups or it’s a lot of work to do.

    2. IT Kat*

      Shouldn’t IT have a backup of the website? Something they can use to restore from? Maybe it would be worth asking, if you haven’t already….

      1. Chana*

        I am going to ask about backups when I call them back next. I think I was just so surprised that I didn’t ask why they didn’t back it up. We’re very small, and they don’t work in the same office as me, so I don’t know much about how they run. I’m hoping this is just a one-time mistake and normally things are better. I don’t usually have issues with them…

    3. Evan Þ*

      Look at the Google cache as soon as possible; I’ve sometimes seen it get overwritten in a single day.

      You might also try the Internet Archive ( ); they don’t get every site, but they save indefinitely what they do get.

    4. Delyssia*

      OMG. That is unacceptable. I’m flabbergasted that it’s even possible for them to delete your account and thus delete all of your content.

      This needs to kick off a discussion of how to make sure something like this never, ever happens again. That discussion should include not only back-ups, but also what safeguards are or should be in place when it comes to deleting an account. For that matter, can they just deactivate accounts, not delete them? Because if you were actually leaving the company, why would they want everything you posted to disappear?

      Good luck restoring everything!

    5. The IT Manager*

      Deleting someone’s account from a web server, an error.

      Deleting significant portion of the company’s website, firing offences!

      Seriously they should have a back up. If they do not, IT people who allowed this to happen should be fired.

  66. De Minimis*

    Hoo boy….
    So they finally selected someone for me to train to take over after I leave. I had thought they were just going to have this person take over a few key tasks and everything else would be handled by people who are currently providing coverage for certain tasks when I’m on vacation. But no, they want this person to handle 100% of my job.

    The thing is, it’s taken me a couple of years to get handle on everything, and there are actually a few key things I’m not entirely confident with yet because they were things I only began in recent months when my predecessor retired. Yet I’m supposed to teach this person everything in just under 5 weeks.

    Also, I’m not sure if she is really prepared, but this is the person they chose [and who agreed to do it, I think they may have asked others who said no] so I have to do the best I can to train [and I’ll be honest that’s not a strong suit for me.] But I’m really thinking it’s going to be a train wreck as soon as I leave. I know that shouldn’t be my problem, but guess I’m afraid I’ll be blamed for it.

    The fact is, the chickens are finally coming home to roost as far as their setup over the last several years. And I think they are planning for it to be months before a replacement is found.

    In other news, it looks like I can collect unemployment while I’m looking for my next job, which is a relief. Apparently in my state one of the rare cases where you can quit and receive UI benefits is when your spouse has to move for a job. It will at least give us some breathing room but I’m hoping that it won’t be that long.

    1. De Minimis*

      Also, for any feds out there…I’m a grade 9, this person they want to serve as a interim replacement is a grade 4.
      I’m sure she can do it [though I think they may not have been 100% upfront with her about what they want] but it doesn’t seem quite kosher to me, especially on her end.

    2. Buu*

      ..or it will make then appreciate you all the more once you’ve gone. Perhaps leave behind some documentation so you have evidence you tried!

      1. De Minimis*

        Yeah I’m pretty much writing the governmental accounting version of WAR AND PEACE right now…

  67. Vee*

    Does anyone have any advice on avoiding all of the food and candy dishes around the office? I’ve been trying to eat healthier and on weekends, I do great! Unfortunately, during the week, people always bring in random goodies or there are leftovers from a meeting and I eat about three times as much as I planned.

    I’ve tried putting up healthy motivators like “xxx food = xx # of burpees” and it works for a few days, but I get desensitized and inevitably go back to eating everything that’s free around the office!

    Any suggestions?

    1. HeyNonnyNonny*

      Oh man…I sit across from our office’s main candy dish. I try to drink a lot of water so that I’m just not as interested in filling my belly. I’m also pretty liberal in excusing my grazing, though– it makes me less stressed to snack, and I’d rather be less stressed at work and then go home and be really strict about food and working out when I’m not juggling tasks.

    2. Dawn*

      GUM. Seriously. Gum all the time that you’re not actively eating your lunch or drinking coffee.

      Also, if you stick with the habit of not reaching for various “goodies” for a few weeks then it will become much much easier to resist. I have found that when I eat sugary or starchy stuff on a regular basis it makes me want more sugary and starchy stuff, but if I cut that crap out then after three weeks or so the urge is nowhere near as strong.

      1. LisaS*

        Seconding this – plus, if you have a blanket policy of saying “no” to all of it it’s weirdly easier, as you’re not putting any thought into the decision or trying to stop yourself after x or y number of sweets. It becomes not-a-decision, for precisely no cognitive load, as opposed to a calculation, which always takes more energy.

    3. Sparrow*

      Drink a lot of water or tea. Chew gum. Or if you’re able, just take one small piece of candy or dessert. I’m trying to cut back on my sugar intake, but I keep a small stash of toffee flavored almonds at my desk. Having a few of them helps take the edge off.

      Didn’t someone post here that a co-worker kept a litter box in the kitchen or on the counter? Imagine the homemade goodies baked in the litter box kitchen.

    4. fposte*

      Where are these kept? Do you have to go there for any work-related reason? Where do you eat them when you get them? Is it a pleasant break in other ways–social, time out, change of scene?

      I’m all about the behaviorism at the moment, so I think you’ll have better luck trying to stay out of their way than convincing yourself you don’t want them. Can you get up and walk in a different direction at appointed times, and find another way to check in with colleagues for a while?

      1. Vee*

        Our office spans 3 floors and there is a main kitchen, along with 5 kitchenettes, all of which are subject to food that’s up for grabs. Plus, I have *many* coworkers who keep candy dishes around. Sometimes we get emails about food being in one of the areas and it’s like an instant reflex that I have to go just to see what is there, but I end up getting more than I planned! I should just try to shield myself as much as possible. Other times, I’m on my way to do something legitimately work-related and I’ll come across something on accident!

        I’ll definitely try the gum thing, and I do drink tea and water throughout the day, but not with a purpose, so I probably should try to drink to a greater level of fullness.

    5. Anx*

      Is this a financial issue? Is it hard to turn away free food because you might not be able to eat something later?

      If so, sometimes I just remind myself that at a certain point, crappy food isn’t really helping me. I remind myself that I have perishable food at home or that I can’t afford to feel too ‘blech’ from a bad diet.

      1. Vee*

        It’s not financial in the sense that I can’t afford to buy food, but I do consider myself thrifty and I definitely think that does play a role! That’s a good way to look at it though — the cost of feeling “blech.”

        1. Anx*

          I know it’s a bit of an issue for me. I am food secure these days, but summer is around the corner and that often brings a big reduction in income for our home. So I need to feel like I can’t afford to pass up food while I have access to it.

          As it is, I already eat a lot of high carb, cheap food. If there are free donuts out, I feel like I need to take advantage of it, because I’m cheap. But then I think about how much money I’ve already spent on trying to add some protein or non-sugar based options to round out my diet and it seems counter-productive.

    6. Alex*

      I can’t say I have amazing self-control in these situations, but I heard a tip to wear restrictive clothing like tight jeans or a top that makes you feel like you want to suck in all the time, lol. My mom swears by this tip as she wears a uniform that is very uncomfortable if she eats food that makes her bloaty.

    7. Soupspoon McGee*

      I don’t do moderation with treats, so I’ve had to tell myself I just don’t eat certain things. The office candy is crappy, anyway, so if I convince myself I can have one good piece of chocolate when I get home, I can resist. Otherwise, I eat just one, and more, and I hate myself and the bathroom scale.

  68. Bamboo Earrings*

    Any suggestions on how to handle this situation:

    I manage a small team. Our newest team member (“A”) serves as an assistant to the other team members in the sense they help with all the projects the team works on. Their role is not administrative but more like a junior manager compared to a full or senior manager. The problem is that one of my other team members (“B”) is treating A as though A is B’s assistant. (B’s title is one level above A, they have a few more years experience and were recently promoted from the same title A currently holds.) B speaks to A bluntly and condescendingly both in tone and content. B also speaks to clients like this (I know because the client complained to me). A has been visibly upset at work on more than one occasion due to the way B treats A.

    I have spoken to both A and B separately. I have told B they need to be more conscientious of how they speak to A and made it clear that all the members of our department are equal, no one is an assistant to anyone else. For a few weeks the behavior improved, but then B reverted to the same way of treating A.

    How do you get someone to change soft skills like the way they speak to someone? Can that even be changed? What do I do if B continues to behave this way? (I have not spoken to my supervisor about this because, as the department manager, I am trying to resolve the issue before moving it up the chain of command.)

    1. Lily in NYC*

      I think it’s time for another chat with to let him/her know that the behavior has reverted back to unacceptable, and that you don’t want to have this conversation again. And that there will be consequences if it continues (like going up the chain of command or writing him/her up).

      Also, I would let A know that you are aware it’s still going on and that you are on it – sometimes just knowing someone else notices helps one deal with it.

      1. Bamboo Earrings*

        I am meeting with A early next week to see how things are going. I am also putting this as an item to work in in B’s review. I’m just wondering at what point does it become serious enough for a formal reprimand, and what are the consequences if it continues? A PIP? Termination? B is a good employee in other regards.

        1. fposte*

          Is there a way to change workflow so that A no longer does support work for B? Tempting though it is, I’d stay away from the punitive “You can’t have support until you know how to treat support” and try to find B another support option.

          1. Bamboo Earrings*

            That’s an interesting idea but would that go against the idea that we are a team? One reason A was hired was to provide relief to our team, which was understaffed (and overworked). A doesn’t have sole ownership over any projects, whereas the other team members do and we don’t have any other staff who can provide support for B. I also want to try to avoid – as much as possible – making this B versus A, because, as I said in the first post, B also talks this way to clients which needs to stop too.

            1. fposte*

              I don’t see why being a team means A has to work for everybody, and doesn’t treating one of the members poorly also go against the idea that you’re a team?

              I mean, if you don’t have other staff to support B, you don’t. But as I think you’re finding, B’s behavior is a kind that’s pretty tough to coach into a change. If he stays as he is, is he worth it to you? Even if it loses you A? I’m not meaning to lead you into one decision or another, but I think that’s a decision you may have to make.

        2. Soupspoon McGee*

          Are you willing to lose A and your clients over your otherwise good employee’s condescending behavior? Because that’s what will happen if B doesn’t behave differently. I think ongoing coaching is called for, with crystal clear examples of acceptable and unacceptable behaviors (not tone, not attitude, but actual words, tone, and requests).

  69. CPP*

    Do any attorney’s have advice on how to handle stress and prioritizing client work? I’m a new attorney and constantly feel overwhelmed from the stress and the amount of work. Part of it comes from my inexperience and how long it takes me to handle matters compared to more experienced attorneys, and the other part from not knowing when a matter truly needs to be done asap or when it can be put off.

    1. Sunshine Brite*

      Not an attorney but a social worker. Look up resources on mindfulness, positive stress management, etc. Not addressing the overwhelm for me can turn to procrastination so try to avoid that. Figure out what are the major deadlines. I have two tracks of client prioritizing that I use based on date visited to stay in compliance and level of need/safety concerns.

      1. CPP*

        Thanks for the advice! I’ve heard people talk about mindfulness before but never looked into it. I’ll have to read up on it. Procrastinating when I’m overwhelmed is a problem that I am working on and getting better about it but still a struggle.

  70. Catherine in Canada*

    I need some salary advice.
    I’ve been working as a technical writer on contract with a company for the last five years, with a PO every quarter. I am the only tech writer for a product line of 20-odd products, and maintain a documentation suite of about 10,000 pages in three separate release streams. My manager and all the SMEs I work with regularly tell me I’m doing a great job, I catch details they’ve missed, I anticipate their needs and have things ready before they ask for them, and make their jobs easier. (Which is what a tech writer should be doing…) While not indispensable, I’d be darned hard to replace.

    The company is undergoing a major restructuring – splitting into two companies. I am beginning to suspect that as part of the restructuring, my managers are going to try to bring me on full-time. (They’ve asked, in a very general way, if I’d be interested in that.) While I enjoy the flexibility of being on contract, there are advantages to having a salary and benefits (dental plan!)

    My question is, what should I expect or ask for in terms of salary? The PO amount times 4? More? Less? Most tech writers in this area don’t make the hourly I do, but they’re not as productive as I am either, so I’m not sure that “the going rate” is a good place to start.
    And how should I calculate the tax implications of a full-time salary? Currently, the POs are paid to my owner-operated writing services company. It then pays me a much lower salary. I keep that salary below the 17% cut-off, so generally don’t pay any personal income tax at all. The business pays income tax, but at a lower rate.
    Also, how much should I be willing to give up (as a percentage, say) for more vacation time? As a contract writer, I was able to take my laptop and go to Italy for a month two years ago. I doubt they’d let me do that if I was an employee.

    All this is complicated by the fact I’ve never had a full-time job before, I’ve always worked on contract. I’m afraid I’ll get surprised by an offer and feel put on the spot to accept immediately. Any and all advice on how to think about all this is much appreciated!

  71. K*

    I’ve spent the last few days giving my two weeks’ notice to various managers and team leaders. Everyone has been shocked and reacting with “only” two weeks being a short and speedy timeframe. I’m so confused??? Since when was more than two weeks expected? My supervisor even said something about usually they ask for four weeks. Um… how was I supposed to know that? And why is that necessary? I’m in a junior position. How long a timeframe was I supposed to give the new job?

    Probably relevant: I’m relocating ~9 hours for this new job. Also, I was hoping to give an additional week of notice but the background check took longer than expected.

    It seems like no matter what I do someone is going to be mad at me.

    1. Lily in NYC*

      They are being disingenuous because they want you to give longer notice. I would just say that two-weeks is standard and that you already made arrangements to move. Congrats on your new job and don’t worry about anyone being mad; they are trying to take advantage of you.

    2. Mike C.*

      Lily’s right – they’re just mad – they need to suck it up and deal with it. Congrats on your new job!

      1. De Minimis*

        Yeah I can already see my bosses acting somewhat pissy towards me and I gave nearly a month and a half notice! I’ve decided there is no amount of notice that will be sufficient, short of not leaving at all or else giving several months, but that isn’t reasonable.

        The takeaway for me is that managers should always be prepared to have a backup or some other kind of alternate coverage, that will take a lot of the sting away from normal employee turnover.

    3. Parfait*

      You didn’t do anything wrong. They’re being ridiculous. Good luck in your new gig!

    4. Buu*

      Notice period is usually in company handbooks. I had an awful temp job with only a week’s notice and when it was up one of the supervisors would not believe I was going. I had to insist they come with me and sign for my key fob so I wouldn’t be billed for it.

  72. Gillian*

    I’m happily employed in a job I enjoy and started last fall (thanks in part, I believe, to great resume advice here), but was thinking back to some of the crazy/bizarre interviews I had last summer or when searching for previous jobs that were such huge red flags I didn’t even need to think about asking someone if I should worry. I was wondering if anyone else had any good interview tales? What is the red-flaggiest interview situation you’ve ever been in?

    I’ve got two that tie for crazy:
    – Last summer, I had a great phone interview for a marketing manager position for a tech startup, but ended up pulling myself from the running because the timelines didn’t work out for me (they wanted me to decide and start the next day, and I needed more time to think something like that over!). They called back the next week and said, “The person we hired doesn’t seem to be working out. Could you start next Monday?” Trying to hire me while the person was still employed – and had only been there for three days. Nope.
    – When searching for full-time jobs after college, I interviewed for an in-house public relations role for a food/beverage company. The owner sat me down and basically said that the first thing the person would do in their job was to run a smear campaign against NASA in order to drum up publicity. I could not get out of there fast enough – I live in Houston.

    1. Sara*

      I had an interview last summer that consisted entirely of “fun” interview questions, i.e. what type of tree best represents your personality, would you rather fight a horse-sized duck or 100 duck-sized horses, describe your perfect birthday party, etc. After 45 minutes of this, I was ready to excuse myself from the work sample portion, but I figured that since I was there, I might as well do the damn thing. I nailed it – the interviewer literally had no critical feedback to offer. Got a second interview, but ultimately they hired a classmate of mine from grad school. And THANK GOD, because the interviewer is apparently a nightmare to work for and likes to make employees answer these questions during performance reviews as well.

  73. Elkay*

    Does anyone else find themselves wanting to reply to online articles and blogs with “That’s not what Ask A Manager would say/do/recommend”? I’ve been reading a blog recently and the author has found themselves in a bad place at work (for a variety of reasons) but their reaction to it (and all the commenters) is pretty much “I can’t possibly be in the wrong, my manager is so unfair”. I suspect the truth is a little bit bad manager a little bit the author not picking up on the cues the manager has been sending them. For example, a 1-1 where their manager told them all the things they’d done wrong, rather than trying to come up with ways to be better at work the author said “I’m shy, I can’t help it, how am I supposed to know what work needs doing if I’m not told”. I so desperately wanted to point them here but I don’t think they’d be particularly receptive to that sort of advice!

      1. De Minimis*

        Yes, usually when I see other blogs about work or finding a job. Just saw one recently about using a “functional resume” if you have gaps in employment….

    1. Amber Rose*

      Came across a post that was like “never use Times New Roman as a resume font because it makes you look old fashioned. Try Garamond instead. Also, use all the emojis you want.”

      And I just shook my head.

      1. land of oaks*

        Yeah I saw that post and refused to click on it because it was so stupid. And I think I remember the title was something like “Using Times New Roman on your resume is the worst thing you can do” ::eyeroll::

    2. some1*

      I actually had a discussion with a friend! She has been freelancing for several years but is trying to get back into a full-time role for security. She hasn’t job-searched for a traditional office job in over 10 years, and wants to stop by employers that are posting positions she wants (that clearly ask applicants to apply online) because “it shows a personal touch/enthusiasm” and “online applications/resumes that don’t have secret buzzwords will all get tossed out”.

      She is convinced she lost out on a job she phone interviewed for because she didn’t drop by to meet the hiring manager. The truth is, she’s in a very competitive industry (especially in our area) and the woman they gave the position to has 10+ more years of experience and previously held a VP-level role.

    3. Vanishing Girl*

      Yes! There are some posts on tumblr that talk about how to job search for new grads and OMG it hurts. I pointed out AAM in one post, but I don’t know that many people read that reblog.

      People just need to come here first: don’t ask Prudence or Abby or the teenagers on tumblr.

  74. Rebecca*

    I’m just so tired and burned out at my job, and mandatory overtime is not helping :( I don’t even want the extra money at this point, I resent having to spend even more hours of my life in a toxic workplace. A new job can’t come soon enough, but man is this looking bleak.

    I mentioned to an older person (not a parent or relative) that I was just burned out and wished I could do something else, and he said “just be glad you have a job”. Yes, that’s easy to say when you’re retired, pulling in social security and a pension that’s more than I make working. I’m so sick of the whole “just be glad you have a job” mentality. What is wrong with wanting to at least like your job just a little bit? I realize that not everyone can do what they love, but maybe at least be able to work in a sane environment where there are some rewards once in a while instead of reductions in benefits and perks.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Ugh, I hear you, and I hate this too. I was on the phone with my stepfather and said I was unhappy about working every weekend and several late nights, and he said, “Well, that’s why they pay you! If you worked at Wal-Mart you’d be working weekends too!” etc. etc. This from a retired professional who worked four days a week at a practice he owned, changed fields and retired with more money than I will see in the next 30 years. I was at brunch with him, my mom, and two of their friends the day before I started a new job and said something about how I left my old job because it had become political and insane, and the friend said, “Be grateful you have a job.” Um… what? I was starting a new one THE NEXT DAY.

      It’s almost like a reflex for them.

      Am I glad I’m employed? Of course I am. Am I glad I have a nice boyfriend? Of course I am. But I’m entitled to complain about them once in a while, and I’m allowed to be frustrated with my circumstances sometimes. Doesn’t mean I’m going to quit either one of them. My co-worker always says, “Sorry I sound like a brat,” when she vents about something, and I constantly tell her that she is allowed to have negative thoughts.

      In your current circumstances, I just sympathize and tell you to keep on trucking as best you can while sending out those resumes. Good luck!

    2. Jennifer*

      Well, I keep reminding myself of the same thing because having a job that sucks beats homelessness.
      It only somewhat helps.
      And now I am off to a 4 p.m. on Friday meeting “so they can get my opinion” on something where my opinion doesn’t matter. Huzzah!

  75. Kristen*

    Do you regret any career decisions you’ve made? For example, I’ve been looking for a job in my new field for two years now. Last year, I had a job offer that I turned down because the pay was much lower than I’m making now (I’m prepared for a pay cut, but I’m realizing the pay cut I have to take is going to be more extreme than I’d like) and the position itself didn’t match what I was looking for (i.e., I didn’t think it would help me get to where I want to go in my career). My would-be manager and coworkers seemed awesome though, so it hurt to have to turn it down, but I didn’t want to be in a position where I was unhappy. Fast forward a year later and I am deeply regretting the decision to turn the job offer down. What career decision do you wish you could redo?

    1. Christian Troy*

      I did the same thing as you. I started my job search last march when my master’s wasn’t finished; the coursework was done but my thesis wasn’t. I ended up pulling out of an interview that was a few hours away because the pay was pretty low and I got it in my head my degree was going to be conferred soon and I could get something better. It seemed like they were pretty interested in me, but since I never went to the final round I guess I’ll never know. It bothers me a lot because like you, it’s a year later and I still think how much better my life would have been if I just went and took the job if it was offered. I don’t know how to get rid of the feeling.

    2. HigherEd Admin*

      Several years ago, I had been laid off and a relative had given me a temp job at her company. It was so kind, and I was so grateful. About a month into the temp job, I had been asked to come in for an interview at a real job, in a field that I was trying to move into. I turned down the interview because I didn’t want to burn a bridge with my relative and leave after only a few weeks. Stupidest move ever. My relative would surely have rather I gotten a full-time position in my desired field than make mini-bucks as a temp admin!

    3. CheeryO*

      It’s not a huge regret, but I wish I had gone straight to work with my B.S. rather than staying at the same school for my Master’s. I got it paid for, and it may end up being useful at some point in the future, but I didn’t need it to get the job I have now. Grad school was incredibly hard and stressful – I think I have PTSD from my comprehensive oral exam – and graduating in December made it hard to get hired straight out of school. I was unemployed for six months, then did six months at a last-choice kind of job in my field, and now I’ve been in my current role for four months. I could be getting ready to apply for my professional engineer’s license right about now, and instead, I’m still a bumbling newbie. I love my job, and I’m more than willing to do what it takes to get up to speed, but I can’t help but feel like I put my life on hold for 2.5 years for nothing.

      1. Glorified Plumber*

        Hey, don’t let it get you down too much. As an engineer, you will bounce back exceedingly fast! Before you know it, you will be getting your PE, you’ll be leading teams, etc. You CAN and WILL recover from this 2.5 year deficit.

        It’s not grad school, but it’s a similar situation. I did not do engineering school until I completed my first degree and worked for 1 year. As well, my first job post school was a HUGE mistake and ended up quitting and taking a new job at 9 months. This means, when I graduated and started real engineering work, I was 3.75 years behind everyone my same age with regards to the engineering and the industry I worked in. I was a freshman… except I wasn’t, I was a freshman held back 3.75 years.

        3.75 years behind in leadership… 3.75 years behind in salary… 3.75 years OLDER in age… 3.75 years behind where I WANTED to be if I had “done it right the first time.”

        Fast forward, and I am ~7.5/8 years into my career now as an engineer (and I am relatively recently a registered professional engineer (12/09/2013 baby!), but my state needed 4 years not 2 years XP), work as a lead engineer on a major client, have my own minions, and am pretty well respected by folks I work with. I finally feel that I have caught up and surpassed many of my “peers” and the 3.75 years is no longer a big deal.

        My point… let that feeling of 2.5 years behind fuel you. It is POWERFUL fuel… seek out and take those leadership possibilities… cultivate mentors like it is your mission… be willing to take opportunities you might not take because you’re not “younger you.” You can and WILL catch up and eventually surpass… it just takes more time.

        Good luck!

        1. CheeryO*

          Hey, I just saw this – what a wonderful kick in the pants on a Monday morning! Congratulations on the P.E., and thank you so much for the advice and encouragement. I love the idea of using the “lost years” as fuel… much better to use it to propel me forward than to keep beating myself up over it. Thanks again! :)

    4. fposte*

      I’m curious, Kristen–this doesn’t sound like a decision to regret. Why would you trade for a lower-paid job that isn’t taking you the direction you want?

      1. Kristen*

        I guess it’s currently more of a temporary regret (I hope anyway). I believe I’d be better off right now with the year of job experience even if the fit wasn’t perfect. Not having any experience at this point is making my job search very frustrating.

        1. fposte*

          Yeah, that could just be grass-is-greener syndrome. Which is pretty much a chronic disease for me, so I get that.

    5. Sabrina*

      Years ago I was working at a company I’d been with for 10 years at the time. I was unhappy at the job. There were really no opportunities for growth, and I was very bored with the job, and felt I was underpaid. I started looking as I wanted something that was more challenging, had more responsibility, and paid better. I didn’t find anything. And then my husband and I decided to relocate. My mood immediately improved once the decision was made. I thought this was a good opportunity to start new in a new place and according to everything I read, I could get at least a similarly paying job in the new city. Yeah. We’ve been here 7 years, and the job I have now has less responsibility, is a lot less challenging, and doesn’t even pay close to what I made there. I regret leaving that job. And yes, I’ve tried to go back.

  76. new grad*

    Hello all! Would love your insight on the following:

    do you think dressing for the position you want to get is true? I have read articles about people like mark zuckerberg and all standing out because of their casual outfits, which suggests that they would have more ‘power’ in this way because they went against the norm. While I’m not talking about outfits as casual as theirs, I’m wondering if you all think it’s okay for a entry level staff to dress in smart casual? The office doesn’t have strict dress code, most people dress smart casually (e.g. in a shift dress and flats). But the managers and guys often turn up in formal wear (buttoned shorts and trousers; no blazer). Going back to dressing for the role you want, do you think I should step up my game and start to wear more formally (e.g. buttoned shirt and skirt/ dresses with blazer) as, like many, I would like to get promoted (not now but well, over time).

    Thanks in advance for any suggestions or opinions you may have!

    1. Turanga Leela*

      For whatever it’s worth, I think of dress + flats for women as about the same formality level as button-up shirts for men. If no one else wears a blazer, you don’t have to wear one, although you definitely can if you wouldn’t look out of place.

      In my really limited experience with dressing for the position you want, here’s what I’ve seen: it reflects badly on you if you always wear the bare minimum required by the dress code. I know people who go to work every day in khakis/corduroys, a plain t-shirt, and a sweater.* While each piece of clothing individually is fine, the overall effect is a) kind of blah and b) not very polished. Stepping it up, even a little bit, can make people perceive you as more professional.

      1. Sparrow*

        I agree. A dress and flats is the same as as button down shirt and slacks for a man. I think a more formal look for a man would be to add a tie and jacket. For a woman also that would be a suit with a skirt or pants.

        You can dress up the shift dress with a blazer instead of a cardigan. And make sure the dress is in a more “formal” material. For example, I think of jersey dresses as more of a weekend look. You don’t have to buy a whole new wardrobe, but make sure that what you have is clean and fits well. Pay attention to shoes to make sure they don’t look worn our out of place with your outfit.

    2. Mike C.*

      I think it widely depends on the culture of the workplace, but it can only go so far and it’s going to only augment what you already do as an employee. That is, if you’re a complete weasel and you start dressing like upper management, you’re going to come off a whole lot worse. If you’re a high performer but keep it more on the casual side, then it’s not going to hurt you.

    3. AVP*

      I would think about buying one decent blazer and starting to introduce it occasionally – once a week, maybe? Or leave it at your desk and throw it on when you have a meeting with someone higher up or someone who typically dresses more formally.

  77. paddlepickle*

    Hi everyone! I got a verbal job offer yesterday and am waiting on the written, and I have a few questions.

    1. My current title is “Director”. This new position is a bit of a step up in that I’ll be in charge of two departments and managing somebody, but the position as “Manager”. I’m wondering if it’s petty to ask them to change it to Director? When I started this current job I did so because the original title had been Associate but I was the only person in the department and had more experience/could take on more responsibility than they had originally planned, and Associate would be a big dip from my last Director position. But I feel like Manager and Director are kind of interchangeable, and it will probably be apparent on my resume that this was a step up, so I feel like it’s more of a vanity thing. Thoughts?

    2. I’m more than happy with the salary they’re offering, it’s a big raise for me. Their Director also told me that his ‘philosophy on hiring is to offer pretty much the highest of the range we can offer, but we’ll see what you think of the offer’. So I’m kind of not inclined to negotiate for higher, but I feel like, especially as a woman, I’m always supposed to. Should I?

    1. Judy*

      If it’s a company of any size, I’d not ask for the title change. Usually there is standardization over the company hierarchy. It also sounds like they have directors, which might be at a level higher than manager.

      1. paddlepickle*

        Oh yeah, I should have mentioned– it’s a small nonprofit and there’s an Executive Director but no other Directors– but I’m pretty much going to be the second most senior person. The person I’m replacing is Manager, but the only Director over her is the ED. Would that change your answer?

        1. AndersonDarling*

          The departments you would manage, are you making directional decisions and are you responsible for their results? Then a director title may be appropriate. But if you manage their day to day items (Jenny is out sick, approve their supply order) then Manager sounds right.

          1. paddlepickle*

            The former. I guess what I’m really wondering is “Manager” always considered considerably below “Director”? Because I’m confident that a Director title wouldn’t be inappropriate here, it’s just a question of whether it really makes a difference on my resume.

    2. Treena Kravm*

      I think you answered your own question. If someone offering you a job is a Director, they’re probably not going to give you the same title as them. And because they’re being transparent about maxing out their hiring offer, I would negotiate for an extra week’s vacation or something like that, so you’re still negotiating a bit. But if you’re happy with the money, be happy!

  78. a-NO-NO-mous*

    I wrote 2 weeks ago about competing priorities from my manager who questioned why I wasn’t getting things done and told me I could work more than 40 hours/week. I had decided to keep a log of everything I worked on to figure out how much time I was spending where and also to show that some of these tasks she expects to be done quickly are not simple and short. For our next meeting, I gave her the breakdown of the hours I had work for a week. I had a conversation like this

    Boss: You really spent 15 hours on spout documentation?
    Me: Actually it was 24 hours total. The 15 is only from the past week. I started working on it the week before. (15 hrs to finish spout documentation was low in my experience – thus I was explaining that)
    Boss: (looks astonished) These aren’t going to be the quick tasks that I thought they would be.

    My work hours for that week were also well over 40, due to having to catch up on backlog caused by having to drop everything for shifting priorities, while still having to keep up with day-to-day work. I feel like it was useful information. It wasn’t a typical week, some things took more time and some things took less than usual, but it was still informative. I am going to continue this, and see what it looks like at our next meeting, especially since now that the spouts are done, I have to write the manual on teapot body construction.

    1. C Average*

      This reminds me of a time when a former manager of mine asked me to keep a time log and also spent a day shadowing me to learn about my job. (She was new to the organization.)

      At the end of the day, her only comment was “Well, this is clearly a role we cannot outsource.” I think this passed for a compliment in her world.

      (She left the company after less than a year. Much rejoicing ensued. )

      I know people hate time logs, but the exercise can definitely be useful and informative.

    2. Sparrow*

      That’s good that the work log helped quantify your work load. Hopefully it will help with the competing priorities!

      I keep a work log too, because I have to code my time sheet according to specific projects. Lately, there has been a lot of scrutiny in the hours charged to projects so I have to be more specific with my time reporting instead of giving my best guess. I ended up setting up a spreadsheet similiar to my time sheet so I can keep track of everything during the week.

      1. a-NO-NO-mous*

        At my last job our time sheets were ridiculously specific and they were only completed once a month. I’d have to record how many hours I worked on each specific task for each project. We were all salaried non-exempt but the company tracked costs to clients per-task basis or something rather than saying, “You have 20 hours a week allotted to this project” it was “You have a total of 60 hours total allotted to polishing handles for Wakeen and 20 hours affixing lids.” It was ridiculously specific and filling it out easily ate up 90 minutes in of people’s time. Still that didn’t really help me quantify my workload on a personal level, because what I was doing was looking at my budget to know how to divide up my time.

  79. Lindsay J*

    Also, interview questions.

    A friend of mine was asked “What makes you uncomfortable in the workplace?” in an interview. Is this a rephrasing of “What is your biggest weakness?” and should it be answered similarly, or are they getting at something else?

    He went with something along the lines of “being held accountable for fulfilling expectations that haven’t been clearly communicated to me” as his answer to that one and highlighted ways he seeks clarification in situations where things are nebulous. But in hindsight we’re wondering if they were looking for something along the lines of, “well, I’m not too familiar with tool X in program Y, but I’ve been doing courses on on it,” or even, “it makes me uncomfortable when people make racist remarks.”

    Also any tips for STAR based interviews?

    1. Treena Kravm*

      My first thought is that it’s a culture fit question. I hate meetings or I hate open floor-plans would be a big culture clash for some workplaces. It could be that they’re looking for some of the values of the org in his answer (especially if it’s a non-profit). I think his answer about accountability/communication was great, a substantive example of what he wants out of his work culture.

    2. Sparrow*

      That seems like an interview question that can be interpreted in different ways. I think his answer makes sense, but you’re right that it could apply to a number of things – not just work related – that would make a person uncomfortable. I don’t think it’s a great question, but answering with regard to weaknesses seems to make the most sense.

    3. AndersonDarling*

      Eesh, what a poorly worded question. My first thought was sexual harassment, racism, and hard chairs. I would have failed.

  80. TheExchequer*

    I have three in-person interviews under my belt now and have two more scheduled.

    The first one I have yet to hear back from. I am unsurprised – he was looking for someone with construction experience. I do not have construction experience. Why are you interviewing me? (Still think it’s rude not to at least let me know I wasn’t the chosen one, but whatevs).

    The second one is for a job I really really want. Closer commute, large company, full bennies. Ahhh. The only two sources for concern are that it would be working for someone who sounds a little high maintenance and there’s some office politics. I’m supposed to hear back from this one today or early next week.

    If the third one had been any more of a dog and pony show, I could’ve sold tickets. I was interviewed by /five/ different people back to back for an /entry/ level position. Really! (If I got the job, they’d be my future co-workers. I can kinda see the logic, but at the same time, uh, no). Same commute, but large company and full bennies. But the interview has kind of soured me on what was otherwise my second choice.

    I have an in-person interview tomorrow morning (really!) for something close by. It’s a smaller company, so I don’t know if benefits are involved or not. Then I have an in-person interview late Monday. That one is more people-facing than I’m really looking for, but if I got a decent offer, it’s close by and a larger company.

    Meanwhile, my computer is on the fritz, so my job seeking has been curtailed somewhat.

    Here’s to getting a new job soon!

    1. Sutemi*

      Can I ask why getting interviewed by 5 people for entry level turns you off?

      We do this. The hiring manager spends the longest time with the candidates, but we value all the team members’ opinions and want them to meet the short list of prospective team members. Then usually there is a slot for a few minutes with HR to talk about benefits and a slot with the managers’ manager. I’ve seen this result in better decisions than simply getting the opinions of one or two people.

      1. TheExchequer*

        Well, it turned me off for a few reasons.

        1. The team of five did not coordinate their questions well – so when each person interviewed me, I got asked the same question several times.
        2. I didn’t meet the hiring manager in person – I interviewed with her over the phone. But the people who would be my coworkers were expected to interview me.
        3. To me, it felt like a really unnecessarily long process for an entry level customer service role. I’ve never seen anyone else do it and at least in my area, it’s not the norm.
        4. I didn’t get to see where the team worked. I was placed in a conference room and they came to me. I started to feel like I was in a doctor’s office.

        I’ve got nothing against meeting the people on the team or even having them ask questions, but this process was kind of exhausting. (Then again, it was at the end of a long work day and I’m an introvert, so that probably had something to do with it).

      2. Jennifer*

        I think 5 people interviewing you ends up being too many and too awkward to juggle. And in my experience, several of them didn’t really seem to know what doing the job even entailed. Really, I don’t think you need more than three people asking questions in an interview–though if you want to have extra to observe in the back and ask them what they think later, maybe.

  81. Owl*

    OK, I’ll put this one out there: my (new) boss wants me to dog/house-sit. I don’t want to because a) this is my boss, not my neighbor/friend, and b) I don’t want to stay in a strange person’s house. If I was caring for the dog at my house, it would be a little different, and I would be inclined to say yes, but again, she’s my boss. Thoughts on how to tactfully take care of this one?

    1. TheExchequer*

      Frankly, I wouldn’t. There’s just way too much that could go wrong with the dog and/or house that could forever change your working relationship. I would have plans that came up and couldn’t be changed that have you out of town.

    2. C Average*

      Nope. And I wouldn’t make excuses or offer a reason, either. “I’m sorry, but I won’t be able to do that.”

    3. AVP*

      Are you a documented animal lover / dog owner? If not, a simple “this isn’t a great idea if you want to come home to a happy, well taken care of puppy” might do the trick.

    4. land of oaks*

      yeah, you can just say no, without a specific excuse.

      “Oh darn, I’m sorry but I really can’t.” Shrug. Change subject or leave.

  82. Beezus*

    What strategies do you all use to implement/communicate/get acceptance for process changes?

    In the past, I took a very cautious approach. I documented the current process (usually in black and white with visuals), developed a business case for the change and studied the impact, had one-on-one discussions with the stakeholders in advance and explained the change and the reasoning behind it and heard their concerns, and finally communicated a decision to make the change with an effective date. My new boss is more of a “just do it” kind of guy, and I’m trying to implement changes more rapidly when I have the authority to do so and I know it’s the right thing to do.

    So I made a change this week – decided we would no longer be granting exceptions to a particular rule. We made some limited exceptions a couple of years ago, then gradually accepted more and more frivolous reasons, and finally abandoned any pretense of approval and let people just tell us they were invoking an exception to the rule.

    I took over the area this rule applies to recently, and implemented a more rigorous review of exception reasons immediately and started denying the obviously frivolous ones, while I was still getting an understanding of how things work. This week, I felt like I had a good enough grasp of it that I was comfortable saying that the rule needed to be black and white and we weren’t granting exceptions anymore for any reason. I am currently wildly unpopular, haha, but I reasserted our authority in an area we’re responsible for, where letting it crumble had caused confusion and disruption. I still feel like I could have been a little more diplomatic. My manager’s feedback is that I’m still being nicer than he would be, but he knows that’s my style, so that’s okay as long as I’m not letting it keep me from being effective. It feels great and scary at the same time – it’s going to take a few tries to find a groove that works.

    1. Jillociraptor*

      Ugh, tough. I know the “not all that popular right now” feeling all too well. I think you’ve done what you need to do: you need to set clear expectations and stick to them. Obviously as you go if someone is able to make the case that you truly are being unnecessarily rigid, you might reevaluate and communicate clearly the singular exception, but otherwise, consistency is key. “This not open for debate” might become a good phrase in your toolbox…

      One thing you might consider — you’ve got your manager on board but maybe working with other managers to get them on board too would help. We’ve run into this issue with our finance policies–I can explain compliance requirements til I’m blue in the face but for some managers, when their employees complain, they’ll grant an exception…even though it’s not their call to make. It’s always good to have backup and this might be one way of getting it!

  83. Fuzzy*

    There is some really cool stuff happening at my job. We are moving out toxic people and reformatting a program, and even though it’s barely the end of my first year I get to have a heavy hand in everything that’s going on.

    Problem: I am having major Jerk-Brain over everything. I can’t tell if the anxiety is because I’m not enjoying the work and want to explore something else, or if I’m just anxious, or just tired of work in general. How can I tell the difference and avoid burnout?

    1. C Average*

      What is Jerk-Brain?

      It sounds like there are good changes going on, but change is inherently stressful, even when it’s positive. I’d say stay the course if you can, at least for a little while. During major changes, the change management itself BECOMES the work, which can make the actual duties of the job feel more onerous than they would otherwise.

      Is there a specific future state your workplace is trying to attain through the reformatting? Will you know you’re there when you get there? If so, can you set a mental timeline to stay as engaged as you can until that goal is met? Maybe schedule a vacation for after the goal is met, so you’ll have a sort of finish line and reward. Then you can decide whether the newly formatted version of your workplace is a place you want to remain or not.

      1. Fuzzy*

        Ha! It’s a Captain Awkward phrase which basically means when your brain acts against you, aka when your brain is being a jerk.

        Unfortunately I don’t think we’ll know for a while. The restructuring is in a community based program where people don’t love change, and we think the toxic people we moved out are speaking out enough to prevent better people from applying to the new position. So we may need to hire interim before we can find a perfect “future state.” We’re also recreating a program previously run by the toxic person, which won’t come to fruition until next Spring. And while it’s agreed that this will be a trial year, even if we succeed we won’t know until a year from now.

        Looking at this schedule, he stressful change will last a year at minimum. Which is hard to wrap my brain around.

  84. Anon to protect privacy*

    I need help.

    I work in an extremely bad environment, where turnover is high, management is severely burnt out, and the owner regularly shouts at and belittles his managers.

    I’m surviving, just, but one of my coworkers is in a bad way. She’s been with this company for many years, and I think feels she can’t do anything else. She’s also suicidally depressed and attempted to take her life. I know she’s not functioning well at work and has been given a PIP.

    This job is LITERALLY going to kill her but I don’t know what to do or say. She feels pinned down because she’s recently made a major purchase, so she feels she can’t just quit, and her depression makes it hard for her to job hunt.

    Anything you can suggest is appreciated.

    1. fposte*

      Help lines, EAPs, etc.

      Also the fact that you can sell major purchases again. It’s not worth feeling suicidal to keep the house or the car.

      1. Anon to protect privacy*

        No EAPs available.

        Help lines are a good suggestion.

        I will point out the purchase thing.

        1. CrazyCatLady*

          If there’s no EAP, would she consider talking to a therapist? Help lines, while useful, are kind of like emergency rooms – they make sure you’re stable in the short-term and then admit you to the hospital when necessary. The help line might be useful in the moment, but if you feel comfortable suggesting therapy, I definitely would. Suicidal ideation isn’t a healthy response to even chronic stress and I’d be concerned that something else could trigger it in the future.

          1. Sunshine Brite*

            If she is actively suicidal, she needs to be evaluated at a psychatric department of a hospital. Some hospitals have specific emergency departments dealing in mental health. Some counties have mobile crisis units to do in person assessments. Most have helplines. She isn’t going to have a successful job search if she stays in that environment and doesn’t make any changes.

            Therapy if she’s not actively suicidal to help frame her thought towards possibility and trying to envision that her life can be different and rebuild her sense of worth.

            1. CrazyCatLady*

              I missed the part where she actually made an attempt on her life! I agree with you that she should be evaluated by the psychiatric emergency department.

    2. Delyssia*

      I’ve never actually been suicidal because of a job, but I’ve had severe depression, accompanied by lots of suicidal ideation, because of a job. I eventually realized that when a job is dragging you down that much, there are a lot of extreme measures that are worth considering. She can sell or return the major purchase. If it’s a house, can she get roommates, so she can afford the house on a lower salary? Maybe she can work multiple jobs for a while, or move in with family, or cash in her 401k, or sell everything she owns that isn’t a basic necessity, or… whatever else she thinks she can’t do. Because if you’re at the point where you’re actually, literally suicidal because of a job, anything that could get you out of that job and let you get by is worth at least considering.

      In my case, I ended up quitting the awful job without having something else lined up. When I quit, I was in discussion with my former employer to return to my old job, and it ended up working out, but I was so desperately unhappy that it was worth leaping before I knew if there would be a net there or not. (My first back-up plan was bartending school. There’s one near me, it’s a reasonably small time and money commitment, and they offer placement assistance. But if I’d had to, I was prepared to move back to the midwest and move in with my parents for a while, even though there was a time in my life that I swore I would never move back to that state, let alone live in my parents’ house again.)

  85. Gingerbread*

    I can’t do this shit anymore. I wrote in a couple of weeks ago about how one of my coworkers quit so I had to take over her job as the event planner on top of my own job as marketing & operations coordinator. I don’t like event planning, but I was fine with it.

    Fast forward a couple of weeks, and we fired the ecommerce manager. Guess who has to take on her tasks too? Me. I’m only one person. How am I supposed to do three jobs accurately and efficiently? I talked to my boss about hiring someone, but they are enjoying the decreased payroll costs and do not plan on hiring anyone.

    I’ve tried to delegate some tasks to other coworkers, but my supervisor doesn’t like that as he “doesn’t trust them to do the job right”. I pride myself in being a hard worker, always stay late, etc, but this is just too much. I shouldn’t have to work 12 hour days to get my job done when I only signed up for one job, not three.

    On top of all of that, I’m annoyed by the fact that I get paid $30,000 while the event planner was getting paid $45,000 and the ecommerce manager was getting paid $80,000. I’m doing three full time jobs, working 60 hours a week, and getting paid $30,000.

    Sorry for complaining so much. I just do not know what to do anymore and I’m at my breaking point.

    1. AdjunctGal*

      You need to have a sit down with the boss and say, here’s how all of my responsibilities have changed. Can we work out a way that my workload is manageable and I am compensated better? If not, then, I think it’s time to start looking for a new job.