open thread – May 15, 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 :)

{ 1,232 comments… read them below }

  1. Christy

    I posted about a month ago about choosing between two different employers with equal pay and benefits. I’ll comment a link.

    Update: Office B, the office I’d been working with, won’t be able to post the job for a while, so they encouraged me to apply to Office C, the sharepoint job. I applied for that job on May 3. Haven’t heard anything yet, but that’s not surprising. First it goes to HR for ranking and then to the hiring manager. (It’s a new manager, a guy I’ve worked with a bunch who I really like.) I’m excited for the technology specialization. Thanks, everyone for the support and encouragement!

  2. Anie

    Alright guys, I need help please.

    My boss just gave her notice. Unfortunately, that means some growing pains for me. We’re a very small office. There’re three directors (including my boss) who only answer to the COO. My particular department is only three people. I’m the assistant and I have one co-worker with a very limited project base who absolutely can’t extend his duties.

    Because we’re such a small company, there’re no redundancies and everyone is already a bit overwhelmed. In the years I’ve been here, no position has been re-filled in less than 3 months. So I fully anticipate I’ll be doing a majority of my boss’s duties when she leaves (2 weeks) and will continue to do so for a good stretch of time.

    1) Do I have any negotiating power here, salary-wise or relating to overtime? Yes, I’ll of course fill in as much as I can, but I’m just not sure it’s physically possible to do an assistant’s work and a director’s work in 30 hours a week. I’m a part time, hourly worker. In fact, both my boss and I have repeatedly proposed hiring me full time and been rejected by the COO.

    2) If I’m asked to work full time but only until a replacement is hired, how do I phrase turning that option down? I’ve a second job just to pay the bills, and I don’t want to quit it and then be left in a bad situation when I need it again within a couple months. Is it reasonable to suggest working 4 longer days instead of 5 normal length days?

    3) I’m planning on asking my boss if I can use her as a reference. Someone suggested I also question her on my flaws and what sort of negative things she would tell prospective employers about me. That sounds…awkward to me. At this point in our relationship, as she leaves, is it really a good time to ask what she wishes she could’ve changed about me?

    1. Malissa

      I see no problem with suggesting #2, especially when they’ve turned you down for full time work. Just say this is where I can fit in the extra hours.
      on #3 see if your boss is open to having coffee or a lunch. then you can discuss the reference situation and address anything else that come up in the natural course of the conversation.

    2. YandO

      1. Yes, but only if they ask you to fulfill her duties. You cannot presume they will.
      2. Just tell them your situation and see what they propose.
      3. Don’t ask about your flaws, ask for advice on professional development. If she responds in very general terms, ask “With specifically me in mind, my strengths and weaknesses, do you have any anything you think I should focus on?”

    3. KathyGeiss

      Malissa has great answers to 2 and 3. As for 1) this is the type of situation where people just need to accept that not everything is going to be done. Hopefully your boss is working on a transition plan with her boss. Ask her to get visibility on that plan.

      When things come up after she’s gone, use the phrases “ok. I can do that but that means I cant do x, y and z. How would you like me to prioritize?”
      Hopefully the COO is coming to terms with the idea that some things will be put on the back burner and some things will fall through the cracks. But, if not, you may need to have some difficult conversations that outline the reality of the situation with them. Be factual and keep it unemotional. Be prepared to “step up” and work a bit harder but figure out what your line is where it’s just too much. When you hit that line, have a conversation with the COO about priorities.

    4. Benefits Battle

      1) I don’t think you really have negotiation power (others might feel differently). In a perfect world it would make sense but companies view filling in temporarily as part of your job.

      2) Assuming you want to I would say how you would love to however your current schedule would only allow you to work *insert time*. An alternative would be, “because of my current schedule I have prior commitments on Wednesday and Fridays but would it be possible to work longer on Mondays?” If they know you have a second job I wouldn’t bring up that you don’t want to quit it when you might need it and I wouldn’t say your prior commitment is a second job.

      3) Two parts: First, I would just ask if she would serve as a reference. Second, have you been receiving regular feedback? If not you could ask if you could get some feedback on your performance before you leave.

      1. The IT Manager

        RE #1 – It is a bit different for someone who is hourly and part time than for someone who in exempt and just ends up having to accept that this is one of those times that she has to put in more hours than standara as an exempt employee.

    5. EmilyG

      Re: your third question, it seems like a good time to ask her to be a reference but the part about questioning her on your flaws seems weird to me because if you no longer work together, she has no way to tell whether you’ve addressed it. I think identifying weaknesses (whether in a review or an interview) should always been accompanied by a discussion or plan for how to address them, or a story about how you did, and that doesn’t seem to be the case here.

      1. some1

        I agree. At that time, I would ask for her personal phone number or email so you aren’t trying to track it down later.

    6. Artemesia

      The problem with waiting till they ‘ask’ is that often in situations like this, cheapskate bosses just assume and push work without asking so they don’t have to consider a raise. I would keep to your hours absolutely. If the COO asks you to step up to do extra then that is when you say you cannot do this on a temporary basis because of your second job but are open to a new full time position and raise whereby you would drop the second job. And given the overall situation, it would be wise to be looking for a new job rather than be at the mercy of people who don’t or can’t staff properly. I might fear that they would reneg on the full time gig when a new person came on board.

      For the reference, you can ask for advice on improvement and you can ask if they can give a strong reference but don’t ask them ‘what bad stuff would you say about me’ Don’t poison your own well.

      Hope something new is on the horizon so you don’t have to deal with a possibly exploitive situation.

    7. GreatExpectations

      I was in your same situation this year, covering as much as I could of two roles on 30-hours a week for 3.5 months until a new hire was found. My boss balked at the idea of hiring me for more hours or really coming up with a concrete priority list (and list of what to let fall through the cracks). If you can get your boss or the COO to identify what items are needs vs. wants I think it would make things much less frustrating. Regarding your negotiating power, I was able to get an extra week of paid vacation.

      1. Anie

        Now THIS is interesting to hear. You’re the first example I’ve seen of someone hourly getting something out of the extra work. Interesting. Thanks for sharing.

    8. MaryMary

      For #1 and #2, I’d suggest putting together a list of your responsibilities and your boss’s (with her help, if she’s willing); determining what 1. must be done, 2. should be done, 3. nice to have; and then determining what is possible to be done within 30 hours. I’d send that document to the COO. If there are things in the should be done and nice to have category that could only be done if your position was permanent full time, include those too. Use that document to both CYA, and to negotiate what you want in terms of hours and salary. Of course, the COO could say no, but now you’ve documented the scope of work that can be done within the time you have available. We all want to be team players and help out, but you’ve listed very good reasons here where you can’t just stretch to pick up everything your boss is doing now.

    9. Anie

      Thank you to EVERYONE. You’ve pointed out and suggested some wonderful options. I really appreciate your help. My boss only put her notice in yesterday and yet her work has–today–already begun being shifted onto me. Of course, the COO also took the majority of the next two weeks off to jet-set to various conferences. (She’s supposedly available by email.)

  3. ACA

    So the job interview I was supposed to have this week got postponed at the last minute, which is frustrating (especially since I’d taken the day off work) but understandable – looking at the news that morning, I’m surmising that the department was thrown into emergency meetings due to a major announcement from an industry competitor, so it wouldn’t have been the best environment to interview in anyway. Hopefully I can get back on their calendar within the next couple of weeks.

    In other news, a colleague gave notice last month and made sure to tell me so that I could keep and eye out on the job postings board. Is it appropriate for me to reach out to her supervisor (we’ve met/spoken before) to let her know I’m interested and will be applying once the job is posted?

    1. Christy

      Have you met like once, or are you like regular colleagues? I’d definitely mention it if you are regular colleagues or if you’ve spoken more than once. I’d probably recommend it if you’d only spoken once, too, honestly.

      1. ACA

        We’ve spoken/emailed a few times, and I actually interviewed with her for a different job last year (she was the hiring manager, but wouldn’t have been my direct supervisor; I made it to the final round but didn’t get an offer).

        1. LVL

          I would probably send an e-mail re-introducing yourself. Might at least get your resume looked at! And maybe even an nformal, informational interview with her. I would just make sure it doesn’t look like you are applying to *any and every* job that comes up, secif whyyou ar great for this particular one.

        2. Josh S

          Then definitely reach out! Just say something basic like, “I heard from Mary that a position is opening in your department soon. I plan to put my name in once it posts. Do you have any idea what the timing on that looks like?” Good luck!

  4. Recruiter Question

    Happy Friday, y’all! I have a question about working with recruiters that I hope you can help me with.

    Last week, I applied for a very interesting-sounding job posted through a recruiter’s website. I was immediately contacted by the recruiter and we set up a time for that day to talk more about the role. During our conversation, I learned that the role (which is a management position) is a temporary contract, with potential to go full-time. The recruiter was unsure how likely the role was to go full-time, as this was the first time she’d work with this particular type of position.

    The contract role would have been a great step up for me in terms of work load and management opportunities, and would have been a great way for me to get my foot in the door of an industry that I’ve been trying to break into. So, I was still open to having a conversation about the position, but was, of course, wary of leaving a full-time position with great benefits for a temporary position that wasn’t guaranteed to go full-time.

    The following day, I saw another job posting for a role the same company with a very similar title, only this time it was posted from the company itself, not from a recruiting agency. In looking at it, I realized that it was the exact same role but there was absolutely no mention of a contract period. The role is simply advertised as being full-time. I emailed the job posting to the recruiter to see if she had any insight, but haven’t heard back.

    I should also mention that the original role I applied to made no mention of the contract period (otherwise, I would not have applied), but I attributed that to the recruiter’s discretion while developing the job posting.

    Anyways, this is long, but here are my questions: Should I apply for the full-time job posted directly through the company’s website? Will this impact any applications the recruiter sends on my behalf? Do you think they are two separate roles, or simply the same role advertised differently? Why would the company conduct a search for a full-time person for the role, if they’ve asked the recruiter to conduct a search for a contract person for the same role?

    1. Joey

      It’s likely they’re hiring full time themselves and only using a recruiter to either test out candidates they provide or hire a temp until they themselves find a perm candidate. Remember it’s usually very expensive to use a recruiter so you’ll be at a disadvantage if you get the temp job through the recruiter. Apply directly. Sometimes recruiters will try to call dibs on you but since you found the company on your own the company may call bs on that.

    2. Malissa

      I’m guessing that the recruiter is going to offer a temp-to-hire to the employer. That way it’s easier to move to another person if the first person doesn’t work out. This kind of arrangement is fairly common.

    3. Anomanom

      I might be able to give a little insight. We recently had an integral team member with a pretty specialized skill set leave. In an effort to fill the position with the best possible person in the shortest amount of time, we not only had our internal team working, but also reached out to a recruiting firm that does temp to perm as well as permanent placements from their recruiters. We interviewed all 3 types of candidates (our own sourced, temp to perm, and recruited) and it turned out the perfect fit was a temp to perm. We are 100% sure we will be keeping them at the end of the 90 days, it was just a way to widen our potential hiring pool.

      If the recruiter has already sent your name in, I’m pretty sure the company can’t hire you on their own outside of that, but someone more familiar with recruiting can probably give you a better answer.

      1. Anomanom

        also, you can get a temp to perm started waaay faster then a permanent placement. We can do all the normal preemployment screening while they are in their temp period, plus no waiting on notice to a prior company. Its a pay more for less time wasted tradeoff.

    4. SO

      I know my experience is probably not common, there were a lot of internal issues leading up to it, but I’ll share anyways. I applied and was offered a contract to hire position with a small municipality. 3days before my start date the contract company called to say the muni didn’t want me to start.(This is after I’ve quit my job and have a uhaul ready to move 10 hrs south.) They call me back the next day and say OK you can start on Monday. Decided to continue with move. Start job, about 3 weeks in get told I’m being let go, they are going to hire someone directly. This all had something to do with the the muni’s CIO being fired, some political bs, and I was caught in the crossfire. This wasn’t exactly the contractor’s fault but of course they didn’t give a rat’s when this all went down.
      I’m sure this will not be the case in your situation, at least I hope things like this don’t happen often, but I would recommend applying directly to the company just to be on the safe side.

    5. The Strand

      The problem is that you already spoke to a recruiter about it, so they may try to get credit if you get hired. Whether it’s more of a temp agency or a headhunter firm, these places can be very territorial, because it’s how they get paid.

      I think it’s also sketchy that the position was not advertised as being temp to perm.

    6. Bea W

      When this has happened at my company, it has been because they are hiring BOTH perm employees and temps at the same time. The temp positions are only posted through agencies and the perm positions are only posted by the company. I’m sure not every company does it that way, but it’s an example of what could happen. I was in this same situation, informed the recruiter who did some asking around on his side to find out if he could still submit me for a temp job even though I’d applied and interviewed for a perm position just over a month prior. Turned out these were separate and the temp job reported to a different hiring manager for a different group so it was okay. I wouldn’t assume anything though. If you work with a recruiter explain and ask. They certainly don’t want to submit an application that wouldn’t qualify to get their fee and the rules are dictated by their contract with the company. I do know my company keeps hiring of temps and perm completely separate. Internal recruiters handle perm apps, and temps apps go through an entirely different channel (outsourced actually, internal HR is hands off).

      If you personally know anyone at the company, you could ask them as well. They may or may not be able to tell you.

  5. Tagg

    Bit of a rant on discrimination.

    I work the front desk at an office where several different specialty doctor practices rotate through. One of my favorite doctors that comes here is a cardiologist – she’s fun, outgoing, great with patients, and a very good and caring doctor. Unfortunately, she doesn’t fit the cookie-cutter mold of a cardiologist (old, grey haired white dude with less-than-stellar bedside manor). I say “unfortunately” because she’s just been informed that according to patient surveys, patients who chose not to follow up with her after their initial visit stated they “didn’t have confidence” in her.

    What makes it even worse is that the administration for her office HAS ADMITTED that this is because she is a young-looking woman (she’s in her 40s), and that they want her to dress and act differently so as to be perceived as older. She’ll also need to be observed by a panel now to assess her patient interactions. Eventually, these surveys will be used to determine her compensation. This is despite the fact she’s been a practicing physician for over 10 years. I feel that this is both gender and age discrimination.

    The whole situation makes me livid. I hear time and time again when patients check out how much they love her, how she’s not the stereotypical cardiologist (and that that’s a good thing), and how much they love coming to our office. The patients who gave her the “confidence” assessment are obviously people who value appearance over ability.

    I honestly feel that this is illegal discrimination, but I don’t know if there’s anything that can be done about it :(

    1. Christy

      It’s not illegal discrimination if the patients are discriminating against her, sorry. And technically age discrimination only serves to protect those over 40, not those who are deemed as too young.

      It’s definitely crappy, but it’s not illegal in any way.

      1. Allison

        I’ll agree that it isn’t age discrimination, or really any form of discrimination in a legal sense. But this woman is facing what many women experience in many fields: being perceived as incompetent and stupid just because they’re young and female, especially if they’re also friendly; although let’s face it, if a young woman isn’t friendly she’s seen as a cranky bitch, so there’s no “right” demeanor for a professional young woman. If a woman is lucky, this perception just means people condescend to her, but all too often it impact’s a woman’s pay and chances at getting promoted.

    2. Allison

      So, what you’re saying is, right now people judge her as being incompetent because she’s not a cranky old man, and now she may be officially penalized for not being a cranky old man? What the hell? If I had a heart problem, I’d be thrilled to have a doctor who was not only good at her job, but friendly as hell, because I can only imagine how scary it is to need to see a heart specialist.

      1. Tagg

        Exactly! That’s what frustrates me the most – these surveys /will/, in the future, determine her pay. And like she said, you can be the worst doctor in the world, but if you do better on the surveys, you’ll get paid more.

        1. Observer

          It’s frustrating. But, you are blaming the wrong people. The fact is that people are choosing not to follow up with this doctor, and that is a legitimate problem. It could be that this is because people are stupid and prejudiced, it cold be that there is something in her manner that legitimately puts people off (possibly even those who like her), or it could be a combination.

          The observation of her patient interactions is a very legitimate way to gauge the issue, by the way.

        2. afiendishthingy

          Yeah, and I have a doctor friend who works in the same practice as a super unethical doctor who prescribes WAY too much ativan and narcotics to everyone. I’m betting Unethical Doc would get some pretty good patient reviews. I think patient reviews may reveal some areas of need that administrators might not necessarily see, and most of the medical professionals I know get some sort of bonus based on how many patients they see, so having patients who like them and keep coming to them for their care does help them and the practice. Yeah, definitely an imperfect system, it’s a little scary how much is based on money – but it is the system we have.

          1. Observer

            I was just reading an article about teaching that I think is relevant here. The issue was student evaluations of college instructors. Many people hate them, mostly for the same reasons mentioned here – there is a lot that is wrong with them if they are not properly used. On the other hand, they also provide a surprising amount of information, if you understand the limitations.

            I think that this applies very much in this type of situation.

      2. Anonsie

        I’ll be honest, part of why I haven’t done the cardio eval I’m supposed to is because I specifically want a female cardiologist and there aren’t a lot of those. I’ve had too many “oh well maybe that happens because you’re a delicate little lady who has feelings” from too many doctors to care how dumb that sounds, either. The female docs do it significantly less often than the males do IME.

        1. Marcela

          That is good to hear, because I gave up trying to get a female OB/GYN after decades of listening that I exaggerate the (quite horrible) pain I felt every month. Once I asked one about the efficiency of a new birth control method she was prescribing me and she told me that only stupid people who can’t follow her instructions would have problems. I guess tactless people are everywhere.

          1. Anonsie

            Gyns are the one exception to this in my experience, I’ve never ever had a pleasant experience with a female gyn. I think they have Former Smoker attitude sometimes. “I [quit smoking, take my birth control reliably, get this exam done] with no issue, so everyone else who has an issue is a stupid whiny baby with no self control.”

            1. TL -

              Wow. I’ve had the exact opposite experience with female ob-gyns, though to be honest I’ve no gender preference.

              1. Connie-Lynne

                Yeah, the only time I actually specifically requested a new doctor was when I got a male OB. It was like being examined by a bro, he had no bedside manner, wasn’t interested in explaining to me what was going on, did not look at my chart, was ENTIRELY UNAWARE that I was not married despite being pregnant, when made aware of the situation *STILL* kept referring to “your husband,” and so on and so on.

            2. Marcela

              Yup, I’ve never had a pleasant experience either. My main problem with them is that (warning: maybe TMI) I suffer horrible pain every two weeks. I could not convince them there was something wrong until I got a male gyn, who made all the tests I implored the other gyns to do and was told I exaggerated or that “all women suffer”. Turns out I have a serious endometriosis and once in the right palliative treatment, I’m a happy person, no more pain :D

              Another female gyn told me I was a drug addict lying about my pain to get stronger painkillers. Other, when I told her I was afraid to have endo, told me I shouldn’t be paranoid, that endo was impossible and the pain didn’t mean anything. The kicker was she told me she used opiates, but she won’t prescribe them to me. But it’s not that all of them were rude people: I had this very nice older lady gyn in Spain, who “shared” the office with her husband, also a gyn. So you would have seen by two gyns at the same time, both of them asking you questions and/or giving advice. The physical examination was done by her only. She was a nice person, but again and again she told me my pain could not have been as intense as I claimed.

              Given the chance, I would always pick a woman for any need/work. It’s not that I think we are better, but sometimes we get fewer opportunities and I’ll happily lend a hand. I truly hate that my experience with female ob-gyns has convinced me that I need a male gyn. This thread is making me think that maybe the need for a “masculine attitude” is making some doctors less empathetic, I don’t know, but I need somebody compasive and friendly by my side.

      3. Bea W

        I really hate going to cardiology for this reason – grumpy older men with less than stellar bedside manner. Ugh. My new pcp wants me to be followed regularly and I just have this terrible image (based on past experience) of some stodgy old man who can even bother to pretend to be interested and doesn’t explain anything. I couldn’t even tell my new pcp what the diagnoses were just that I’m wired weird in an annoying but probably non-life threatening way.

        My apologies to cardiologists everywhere for the generalization. Surely you’re not all this bad, but I wouldn’t know!

    3. Joey

      There’s not a lot of traction to being discriminated against because you’re young. It’s usually explained away as less experienced.

    4. fposte

      The whole survey thing in medicine seems to be a known sore spot–medical bloggers rant about it like crazy.

      I think what management *does* about surveys could be legally discriminatory, but I’m not sure that it is in this case. What would be relevant is if she had no more bad survey results than any other doctor there but they focused on her, and if there were a penalty involved; right now it just sounds like they’re coaching her to work with the patient pool you have.

      And the thing about medicine is that you can’t limit health care only to those who value ability over appearance, and confidence is a big thing in patient outcomes. So if she really is turning off a disproportionate bunch of her patients, it’s reasonable for management to want to coach her past that.

      1. Tagg

        That makes sense, and yeah the whole survey thing is a biiiiig sore spot. I understand upper management wanting to be able to quantify a patient’s experience, but not everything can be accounted for in a number on a spreadsheet.

          1. Anonsie

            I dig through the surveys where I work sometimes (they’re made available to all staff) and the overwhelming majority of the comments are about how they didn’t like how long they waited for their appointment or how they didn’t like the parking. Comments are care quality are few and far between.

            1. Emily, admin extraordinaire

              Wait! He is posting! It’s my Feedly subscription that isn’t working. Must fix. . .

      2. Steve G

        When do the surveys get sent to the patient? I never heard of these. If it is too close to the appointment, that may be a problem.

        I could imagine a patient being unhappy with a doctor telling them to lose weight and drink less, even though telling the patient that should be precisely a reason for a higher rating.

          1. Steve G

            Isn’t that one of the problems then? People don’t even know if the doctor’s medication/referral/plan are any good yet!

    5. UKAnon

      Are you allowed/would she mind you quietly prompting people to send positive feedback as well? Next time someone checks out and says how good she is, could you reply with “That’s great to hear! If you wanted to let her supervisors know, you can contact them ____” or similar? Even if it doesn’t help with the eventual ramifications of the survey, it gives her something of a leg to stand on in showing that she can do her job well.

      1. Tagg

        Yes, and the nurses have started doing that in the appointments. I also give any patient who gushes about how great any of the doctors are one of the cards for customer service.

    6. Steve G

      But isn’t there a benefit to going to a cardiologist with more years of experience? I honestly don’t know, I don’t know how rote the work is for a specialist like that, but your letter states that she is younger than the typical cardiologist (even if “typical” is somewhat of a stereotype). I think it is reasonable that patients are going to want to put their potentially life or death situations in the hands of the person with the most experience. You yourself say that she “only” has 10 years of experience. There are a lot of doctors to go with more years of experience, my GP is about 57, 58. It’s not age discrimination going to him, I just want someone who knows as much as possible, which most likely is going to come with age. If this is age discrimination, then every 25 yo in corporate America has a right to say “I’m not being respected, I should be a director.” No, you are just younger and less experienced than the people around you.

      1. Tagg

        I didn’t say she “only” has 10 years experience. 10 years is quite a lot of experience. I also said that she is a very good doctor.

        1. JB (not in Houston)

          Plus, there is also the fact that sometimes doctors who have been practicing for a long time don’t keep up with the most up-to-date information (I know doctors have mandatory continuing education, but it can’t cover everything). So she might actually have useful knowledge that the most senior doctors there don’t have.

          1. Allison

            I’ll be honest, in thinking about this I remembered that Scrubs and Grey’s Anatomy had story archs on this very thing, older doctors who used outdated procedures that endangered their patients.

            And fun fact, both old school doctors were played by well-known actors, Dick Van Dyke was the one on Scrubs, and the older doctor on Grey’s Anatomy was the guy who played Mr. Fenney on Boy Meets World.

            1. Lady Bug

              The reference to William Daniels being famous from Boy Meets World is cracking me up. He was a doctor on St. Elsewhere for 6 years, and most importantly K.I.T.T. Damn I’m feeling old!

            1. Kai

              This–and also, my husband recently had very intensive abdominal surgery and specifically sought out a younger doctor to perform it, because in his mind, a less experienced surgeon may be much more concerned about screwing up and therefore pay closer attention to what they’re doing. More experienced doctors are often very very good at what they do, but also can be rather cavalier or casual about it. It’s a generalization, I know, but it’s pretty valid too.

      2. Allison

        Years of experience is only part of it though. A doctor can have tons of experience, but if they haven’t been staying up on the latest treatments or keeping their skills up-to-date, they may not be the best one to go to.

        1. fposte

          It’s also going to depend on what we’re talking about, too. For surgery, complicated diagnoses, or rare conditions, mileage is a definite advantage–you want to go to the person who’s done a bunch and/or seen a bunch. That doesn’t necessarily correlate to age, though–the doctor I see for a relatively unusual condition of mine is pretty young, but she’s seen a million more examples of this than your usual practitioner in the field, no matter her age.

      3. The Strand

        What Allison said. A younger doctor may be keeping better up with breakthroughs and changes in the field, and more open to patient-centered care (i.e. working with the patient rather than just talking at him or her).

      4. Melissa

        Maybe I’m biased because I know the details in this situation. But if I had a choice between a cardiologist with 10 years of experience and a friendly, kind bedside manner and a cardiologist with 25 years of experience who was a cranky, mean old man…I’m going to go with the friendly cardiologist. 10 years is quite a lot of experience, and unless my diagnosis was somehow complicated or very life-threatening she probably knows what she needs to know to treat me. After a certain number of years there are diminishing returns on experience in every career.

        1. Marcela

          Yup. And not only that, being sick is very stressful, you don’t know what to expect or what’s going to happen. Maybe the cranky doctor is better than the friendly, but when I’m scared and in pain, I’d rather have a friendly face walking with me than an mean, impatient one.

      5. Bea W

        I wonder if it’s more related to many of the patients being older themselves and in a different generation than a young female…a generation when women did not work outside the home and we’re thought of as much less capable of doing certain jobs. It may be the patients’ own bias coloring these surveys.

        1. Kelly

          There’s probably some of that bias as well. My recently deceased grandmother had the same doctor for 25+ years. When he retired, she was assigned to a female general practice physician. That was not acceptable and given that the woman could have given a seminar on passive aggressive behavior, made sure that everyone knew that new female doctor was inferior to old male doctor. I don’t know how much harm she did to this poor doctor’s practice by belittling her to everyone she knew. She succeeded in getting a male doctor although he may have not been the best for her overall health. He may have overlooked some concerning symptoms, including dementia because of her being a bully. It was discouraging because several members of the family, all women are in the medical field and are/were RNs. One of them worked with several female physicians and could have told her that they were as qualified as their male counterparts. At the time, my sister was considering going to med school for orthopedics, so it was illuminating for her to see what see could potentially have to deal with.

    7. the gold digger

      OK, so the patients might be stupid and illogical, but if this problem can be solved simply by having her change how she dresses, then why wouldn’t she?

      If my boss told me he would give me a raise if I would just not wear an orange skirt to work any more, I would say, “You know that’s totally stupid, right? You know I am competent because you have worked with me, right?” But then I would shrug and think, “All I have to do is change this one thing that affects how people who do not know me think about me and I will get more money.”

      1. Blue_eyes

        But is it really just “one small thing” that will solve it? It seems like it’s not just dress but also her mannerisms and whole demeanor. “Just be a different person and we’ll pay you more” seems like a lot to ask. I would guess that “don’t have confidence in her” is just code for “don’t think women can be decent doctors” and that isn’t going to change for those patients.

        1. fposte

          But it’s also not asking for a lot of action to see if it does work, so I’d think it was worth a try.

        2. Observer

          Not necessarily so. Just one example of the kind of thing that can throw people off – “uptalk”. That’s where sentences are ended at an upward inflection. It makes things sound like a question more than a statement and makes people look less confident. And it is FAR more common in women than men.

          Then there is trying too hard to be collaborative and interactive. So, the doctor tries to engage the patient in a conversation about the condition and ways to manage it. One part of the patient LOVES it – it’s nice, it’s friendly, it’s respectful etc. That’s genuine. But, another part of the patient (or maybe a caretaker or close family member) is internally screaming “Can’t you just TELL ME what I NEED to do and what would be good? Don’t you KNOW? Why are you asking ME?” And that translates to lack of confidence in the doctor that you really like.

          I’m not saying that this doctor is doing either of these things. I’m not even saying that the doctor is doing ANYTHING that *legitimately* should cause lack of confidence. I AM saying that it is POSSIBLE that there are real reasons beyond “oh she she’s a young woman so she must be incompetent” that are causing the results they are seeing.

      2. Jennifer

        There isn’t all that much she can do about her face, though. If she wears old lady clothes and dyes her hair white, is that going to fix the “she’s not a cranky old man” problem? Probably not.

        If it was as easily solved as a particular skirt, that would be one thing, but this isn’t.

        (I speak as someone who is easily mistaken for someone 20 years younger: makeup and clothes do not always fix these things. I doubt she can go the age makeup Hollywood route either!)

      3. Steve G

        I know this is a serious conversation, but more I read this the more I think of Dr. Kylie from MadTV, for those who are familiar:-).

        1. KimH

          I remember! One of my favorite skits.

          And unfort., its true.

          My DH had to see a neuroncologist. He was ancient. Said “lets try the wait and see approach”. Ummm, we are talking about brain cancer here.

    8. Belvis Tarl

      This definitely sucks for her, but it doesn’t sound like illegal discrimination. Patient surveys are a good way to gauge customer feedback, and if she is truly great with patients, she should have just as many (if not more) outstanding surveys as negative ones – unless you just happen to live in an area where the majority of people are awful bigots, which is infrequent.

      It sounds like administration is even trying to help her with this, though it sounds a bit misguided (i.e., “They must not like you because you’re a young woman; you should aim to look older.” What?!) I don’t think the aim here is to discriminate, from the sound of it. If I was receiving less-than-stellar reviews for an employee, I would have to investigate on some level, even if I truly thought the employee was amazing.

      1. Tagg

        Unfortunately, we kind of are in an area full of awful bigots :( And , with the way the healthcare system in America works, often the type of people who can afford the insurance to come to specialists like cardiologists trend toward bigoted discrimination.

        1. Tagg

          Because heart disease hits predominantly in later stages of life, a large percentage of cardiac patients tend to be older and from a generation in which a woman’s place was in the home, if you know what I mean.

    9. Artemesia

      I don’t buy that a 40 year old cardiologist is being perceived as unconfident because she is a woman. Maybe. Yes there is sexism out there. But I know so many female doctors in this age group who exude competence and authority that I think this doc should be examining how she behaves, dresses and interacts with patients to see if there are things she can’t improve. Having her observed with patients is not a bad idea if it isn’t just a pretense for getting rid of her.

      1. JB (not in Houston)

        That may be the case , but I know my grandmother did not have a lot of confidence in much younger (than her) doctors, and she had a bias toward male doctors as well. So if this woman is primarily treating older people, I can see it.

      2. The Strand

        The trouble is that what people think they want, and what actually suffices as good care, may be two different things. Some of these patients expect a crusty male doctor who will lecture at them, rather than a woman with a sunny, outgoing personality who is younger. They have long-held beliefs about doctors going back to Marcus Welby, M.D. or earlier, and are scared as hell because they are thinking about their heart falling apart. They want someone paternal who will reassure them and fight for them. In a way that’s not unreasonable; it’s just unreasonable that they assume that person can’t come in a more cheerful, female package.

        There are broader issues here beyond what this individual doctor might be doing, and I don’t believe it is right to assume she could just control this through her own behavior. I’m thinking of the “Women in STEM”, “Women in technology”, and “Women in film” discussions that are also percolating and how often it goes back to, “Well, if you would only do this and that… This wouldn’t happen to you.” Then you find out a woman professor at MIT took the time to actually measure offices and discovered that less-experienced, less-funded men were getting bigger offices than women who had more experience, and you’d think, expected clout.

        Much of what we know about medicine is driven by our expectations. There’s a reason why physician assistants and medical students wear white coats, as well as MDs and DOs, and that’s for the cultural signifier. Sexism in medicine is a place where our cultural signifiers about women and health clash – just do a quick search on the KevinMD blog. Sample piece: “The blonde minority”, where a doctor explains that she was told “not to worry” about her career because she was “marrying a plastic surgeon”. Meanwhile, only a decade ago, the head of the Royal College of Physicians said that too many women in medicine were “feminising” the field and weakening it. This was from a *woman*. This discussion is still coming up in British circles.

        1. Tagg

          “There are broader issues here beyond what this individual doctor might be doing, and I don’t believe it is right to assume she could just control this through her own behavior. I’m thinking of the “Women in STEM”, “Women in technology”, and “Women in film” discussions that are also percolating and how often it goes back to, “Well, if you would only do this and that… This wouldn’t happen to you.”

          This is exactly what has me upset. I hate that this sort of thing is happening to someone I respect. It’s easy for people put on their sexism blinders and say “what’s the big deal? she just needs to change this or that and it’ll go away” and missing the larger picture here – that by doing that, people are essentially telling her that she’s not as good as someone else because she’s a young woman. It’s not based on patient improvement, or hospitalizations, or long-term health improvements. It’s based on how people perceive her.

          1. Anonsie

            Perception by patients is huge, though. Massive. Especially for a specialty where lifestyle changes are going to be a big part of their recommendations.

            So here’s me, as someone who earlier this week was saying I do refuse to soften my edges completely at work (on the rude/blunt post) just because people like smilier women, saying she should absolutely try to figure out if this is a projection she can influence and work on it if it is. Is it a massive pile of BS that patients may be judging her competency based on something asinine like that? Yes. But these are her patients, not her colleagues. It’s one thing to tell your colleagues to adjust their expectations, and quite another to try to demand that from your patients. You do what you can to get better confidence from them, and that will lead to better results. Assuming their intentions really are good, having someone observe and either 1) give actually helpful feedback and/or 2) determine it’s really just issues on the part of the patients that can’t be addressed is a good idea.

            Two caveats to this: One, it’s possible that the practice is just using this as a way to needle her due to their own issues. They may be blowing a small amount of stupid feedback from just a couple of idiots into a big thing that it doesn’t need to be just because they themselves have prejudices and won’t cut her the same slack they would to the other docs in the practice. Two, if it really is purely something she can’t change (the patients complaining really just don’t like ladies or really just don’t trust younger doctors and there’s nothing you can do about that), then the practice better be letting it go at that.

              1. Anonsie

                The crappiest part of the crap sandwich she’s being served here is that it’s difficult or impossible to know whether the complains are legitimate and the practice is handling it without bias. What I would be most concerned about in her place is that the administrators are going to have someone check her out and decide it’s her bedside manner and personality that’s the problem even if the patients complaining are really just bigots. There is a pretty solid limit to how much you can influence how people see you, obviously, but no limit to how hyper-responsible they may decide she is for things that are out of her control.

                That’s why I say assuming their intentions are good. It’s possible for them to just have someone observe (since this isn’t an unusual way to evaluate people with patients, here we have an annual observations as part of our reviews and those reviews do determine our pay as well) as a precaution and be very reasonable about what they see. I would see how this plays out, but I would be nervous too if I were her. Subjective reviews like this are so easily tainted by people’s own stupid ideas.

          2. Observer

            The problem is that while sexism is real, we really don’t have enough information to assume that that’s the whole, or even predominant, issue here. One thing we do know is that observing her patient interactions is probably the most reasonable way to figure out what’s happening, unless men with the same ratings are being handled differently. If that is happening, everything else I have said on this thread may be true, but is not relevant. But, otherwise it’s not really useful or sensible to ASSUME that it’s all about bias and nothing else.

      3. Anonsie

        40’s is still quite young for a physician, the late 30-somethings and early 40-somethings are the youngins around here and they absolutely get feedback about confidence and trustworthiness. A while ago one of them who is particularly youthful looking gave a report on goals for his practice and one of them was to be able to figure out how to appear old enough that his patients will stop asking the nurse whether they should trust him when he leaves the room. They all wear suits, their bedside manner is great, I’ve seen it. But the babyfaced ones do automatically get put in an unfavorable bucket.

        1. Observer

          Heavy gold watch? Use a “stodgy” phone – not one that’s way out of date, but one that doesn’t scream “latest tech”?

      4. Melissa

        I don’t know…I consider myself an enlightened, feminist woman and I’ve found myself giving bias to male physicians in certain specialties. I’ve also had conversations with other young, enlightened, feminist women who prefer male physicians for certain things (one being gynecology; the perception among many seems to be that female doctors are ironically unsympathetic to gynecological discomfort and pain because they go through it themselves). Besides, there are multiple studies that show that female physicians – and females of all professions – are rated as less confident and competent by perceivers even when they say and do the exact same thing as males. In fact, when perceivers are simply reading about the actions of female employees or managers, not even seeing them, they rate women as less competent and confident than men.

        Combine that with a powerful stereotype of the confident, educated doctor as an elderly white man? Yes, I’m quite willing to believe that many (not all) patients would choose a male doctor over a female doctor for perhaps unconscious biases. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t things she can change to attract more patients, but unfortunately some of those things might be “act more masculine.”

        1. NJ Anon

          I have to disagree. It’s more about the relationship. My ob/gyn/gp is female and awesome!

          1. Beebs the Elder

            I feel guilty because I only want female lady-parts doctors. Also, I switched out my youngerish (female) ob/gyn for an older NP–because I’m on the downside of the reproductive cycle and the doctor didn’t seem to have much interest in my stage in life…she’s interested in pregnancies. Now I have a super-competent NP who’s been through it all and really takes the time to listen and ask questions. And I had some major surgery and had a wonderful female surgeon. Now that I think about it, my kid’s pediatrician is female, too. So I guess I’m kind of biased in the other direction!

        2. Stephanie

          Actually, I went to a male ob/gyn once and he was awesome and it was the least painful well woman’s I’ve ever had. I don’t know if he just had a better bedside manner, but he was far more cautious and explained everything. I’m biased in that direction.

        3. Artemesia

          I have had both male and female doctors. My internist is a woman as was my last internist and my last gyno was a man. The worst doctor I ever had was a female Opthamologist who took over when my previous opth. became terminally ill. She was awful on every level — bedside manner was creepy and she had a poor reputation for competence on such simple operations as cataract. Her awfulness had nothing to do with the fact that she was Asian and a woman; it had to do with her awfulness. She is the only doctor I ever refused to continue to see. (the hospital/clinic pushed back because I think they didn’t want to allow competitiveness among doctors or ‘popularity’ contests or perhaps she had lots of patients wanting to leave her — I told them to switch me or I was going elsewhere)

          I was a female profession in a profession where men tend to get better reviews and women are held to different standards. I know it matters. But medicine is rapidly becoming about 50% female and there are lots of examples of well regarded and competent women in practice so in 2015 I am not going to assume that is the only thing going on here. I don’t doubt that it contributes.

        4. Panda Bandit

          I’m also going to disagree on the perception. I think a female ob/gyn would be better and more sympathetic because they experience many of the same things as their patients.

          1. Marcela

            Oh no. That’s not true for me. I’ve NEVER had a sympathetic female gyn in my almost 40 years of life. Granted, I do have a illness that makes my symptoms different and gives me more paim that it is normal. But that illness is very real, doctors should know about it and consider it a possibility given my symptoms. All my female gyns told me in a very snotty tone that I could not possible experience what I said, so obviously I was a drug addict asking for prescription drugs, or I was exaggerating because I didn’t want to work or study, or that I was a special sunflower wanting attention. Because obviously, they experience the same thing as ALL women, so they know I can’t have what I finally ended being diagnosed with :(

            1. Someone Else

              This is so true, it took several doctors to diagnose my endo also, females all said the same thing, “You just want pain medicine.” I actually told them to quit giving me pills, and find out what’s wrong. It was a MALE doctor that finally found out what was causing all my symptoms. I will be forever grateful for him.

    10. MaryMary

      I don’t know that the most patients are even aware of their bias, so I’m not sure how your friend is supposed to act to appease them. My best friend is a neonatologist. Patients* routinely think she’s a nurse, even though she’s wearing a white coat that has DOCTOR embroidered on it. And while neonatology isn’t as female-dominated as the rest of pediatrics, there are lots of female neonatologists. For my friend, she doesn’t tend to have too much trouble with patients* feeling confident with her abilities once she starts to work, but a lot of people still have an inherent bias that “the doctor” is going to be an middle aged to older man.

      *A neonatologist’s patients are really the wee tiny babies, who genuinely do not care if their doctor is male or female, old or young. It’s the patients’ families who confuse my friend for a nurse.

      1. Anonsie

        Yeah they advise younger female physicians to not use their first names and repeatedly say “I’m DOCTOR so and so I will be your DOCTOR today” to drill it into people. Otherwise you get patient complaints that they never saw the doctor but they did see a very nice nurse a few times.

  6. Guava

    This is a question for all you fed employees out there in AAM world!

    When someone is in the final stages of being hired for a certain government agencies, a thorough background investigation takes place including with your current employer and coworkers.

    How would someone prepare their manager for this?

    I try to imagine this conversation in my head and it sounds insane. Even in the most professional and eloquent language I feel like it would still come across as: “Hi, I wanted to let you know that I have received a conditional offer for employment pending a BI…men in suits may call you or show up any day now…oh, and I’ll probably be working here 4 more months until the process is completed and I get the official offer. Thanks!!!”

    Anyone else have to deal with this before? How did your manager take it?

    1. Katie the Fed

      Yeah that’s awkward, because you can’t avoid it and they will clearly say “Guava is being considered for a position in national security.”

      I would tell your boss something like this:

      “I have lifelong dream of working in national security and I decided to apply for a position. I’m being considered but I have to get a security clearance. You’ll be contacted by an OPM investigator at some point with some questions about me. I have no idea when, or even if, I’d be leaving for a new position but I promise I’ll give you as much warning as possible when I know anything for sure.”

      Hope that helps!

    2. Chinook

      If you truly feel a need to hide your job search during the background check, can you say it is for your spouse/significant other? I know that when DH had to get his high level security check for one job, I had to provide him with not only my personal information but my parents’ as well (including where they were born and when my dad became a citizen and where I had lived for the last 10 years (we had been married for 2 at the time)). With some clearances, they do go into the backgrounds of your significant others and family members.

      1. Katie the Fed

        No. They will tell anyone they interview that Guava is being considered for the position. And they don’t go into family members’ backgrounds to that extent – only credit, citizenship, things like that. They don’t interview the spouse’s boss.

        1. Chinook

          In that case, Guava will have to out herself as job searching. It may be better for her to bite the bullet and control the timing of this message to her boss than sit around wondering when.

          1. Noelle

            Yeah, when I’ve participated in those interviews it’s extremely clear what it’s for. I agree with Katie that the best bet is just to be straightforward (Also, it sucks that the government still does hiring this way. I recently turned down a second interview because they insisted on talking to my current employer before giving me an offer, and it wasn’t enough of a dream job to be worth the risk).

            1. Chinook

              I agree that it sucks when an employer insists on contacting a current employer for a reference, but a security background check is a different kettle of fish. I would understand it as something that is done to ensure the safety of data/people you may be working with and for a greater purpose. Living in DH’s world (he being a former military intelligence operator), I can totally understand why certain people need to prove that they are trustworthy and/or that anything blackmailable is nullified by the employer knowing ahead of time.

              That being said, most office jobs have no requirement for this type of scrutiny.

              1. Noelle

                Yes, I understand that it’s different, but it’s still pretty typical in government to insist on talking to your current employer before offering you a job. It’s especially annoying because if you make me an offer contingent on a security check, I can estimate my own risk of failing/passing it before accepting. But if you just want to talk to my current employer without even giving me a contingent offer? Not necessary, and what information will they find that wasn’t true at my last four jobs?

    3. HR Generalist

      You have to out yourself before they do. Just sit down with her and explain that you’re considering a change (you can go into as much detail as your situation suits – I’m close with my boss so I would explain to her why, what my plans are, etc. but you could just say that you’ve decided to go in another direction if this option pans out) and that likely someone will be visiting to question your employment history. Don’t bother with saying you’ve been offered, treat it like an interview stage as they could easily rescind still, so I wouldn’t say “this is a go in 4 months!” Also don’t put conditions on what she can say – sometimes we’ll have employees warn us about someone checking in on them and then say, “Could you not mention ______?” .. That’s a definite bad sign.

      We’ve had them show up at our office (HR – so their direct supervisors didn’t know) and they questioned their rate of pay, length of service, any disciplinary notse, etc. They opened by saying “We’re here from the ____ Police Department doing a background check for a potential candidate for our department.” We didn’t relay any of that information to their supervisor.

    4. insert pun here

      I have been on the receiving end of this — not for an employee, but for a friend. I wish that he had given me a heads-up, because I almost passed out when I answered the phone and it was the secret service calling for a chat.

      So, there’s that to consider.

      1. Meggers

        Seconded. I wasn’t sure the call was even real. When the govt person showed up for the interview, I asked to see a badge, then realized I wouldn’t know if it were fake anyway. The whole experience was surreal.

      2. Mpls

        +1 – I think I got a heads up from the friend needing the background check AFTER I got a call from a US Marshal to set up a time to meet.

      3. VintageLydia USA

        My neighbor started dating a Chinese woman and he and his step-mother (that he lives with) have clearances. So of course, they had to tell their security officers once it got beyond a couple dates. At the time, I barely knew this neighbor and I had no idea who he was dating, or that he was dating at all, so imagine my surprise when a very nice lady from OPM is at my door and sat down for 20 minutes to talk to me. I knew nothing, so she didn’t get much out of me then “He seems like a nice enough fella! We wave at each other when we see each other but that’s it.”

        But I’m near DC and there are more people around here with some level of clearance than not, it seems like. So at least I wasn’t totally surprised.

    5. Chrissi

      I gave everyone I listed on my background check a head’s up, but I didn’t have to use a manager. My background check wasn’t as extensive as yours sounds – some of my people were never called. On the other hand, my brother’s check included personal visits to a lot of his contacts, but they said it wasn’t really a big deal. The people doing the check are used to it and I’m sure they try to put everyone at ease (I hope, at least). Be warned, the OPM checks can take freaking forever – especially the higher clearance ones. My brother’s took a year.

    6. AnotherFed

      Depending on the position and the level of investigation, they may only interview a few (or even none) of the people you list for verification of addresses, employment, education, etc. and just mail a questionnaire to the rest. I can’t remember on initial background checks, but at least for reinvestigations I think they let you choose who they interview in person.

      Also, assuming it’s a federal background check, it’s almost always done by OPM’s FIS. If it’s them, you can verify it’s a real background check by confirming the agents’ ID at the OPM hotline or by email. Info here: https://www.opm.gov/investigations/background-investigations/cooperation-in-investigations/#url=Investigator-Verification

      1. Katie the Fed

        “at least for reinvestigations I think they let you choose who they interview in person. ”

        No – you’ll give them names and they’ll go digging for more names of people you didn’t list. They’ll call almost everyone you did list and then look for me. They wouldn’t be doing their jobs thoroughly if they let you decide who they could talk to. It’s a real pain though :/

          1. AnotherFed

            Well, they do say it’s a small world, so it wouldn’t surprise me!

            I guess I’ve just been in the same part of the community long enough that there isn’t anyone I haven’t listed (if not this time around, then the last time) that they could really go talk to – the neighbors work in the same place I do, and my family has been happily messing with each other through the investigators since long before I was born.

    7. Guava

      Thank you all for your wisdom and helpful phrasing! I’ll definitely give family, friends, and neighbors a heads up too.

      I have a good relationship with my manager, so ultimately I think if and when the time comes hopefully this will go as smoothly as possible.

      I know it comes with the territory of applying to these types of jobs, *sigh* so it is what it is.

  7. Job Hunter

    How do you handle interviews when you’re job hunting and currently employed? Do you call in sick? Do you say you need to use a vacation day next Wednesday?

    We’re a friendly office and tend to ask about plans in a polite chit chat sort of way. I can make excuses or say it’s personal which would be fine since we do respect people’s privacy. I feel a series of days off with little notice and random reasons would look suspicious.

    1. Ali

      This makes me glad that when I was still employed and job hunting, I had two weekdays off (my last job had a non-traditional schedule) that I could give employers for interviews so I wouldn’t have to worry about vacation time. The one time an employer did want to do a phone interview on a work day, I just told my boss I had to leave a little early to make an appointment. It was easy, and the flexibility of my last position is the one thing I miss.

    2. Delyssia

      If I feel like I need to offer an excuse, I’m more likely to lean on something along the lines of an emergency at home than on sickness, because I feel bad when people ask if I’m feeling better when I called in sick for an interview. So I’d say I need to be home for an emergency visit from the plumber (or another repairperson).

      I’ve even said something along those lines even though I live in a building where management can let the plumber in even if I’m not there. I just tell work that I’m more comfortable with letting someone into my place if I’m there. Generally, people completely understand that.

      If you’re scheduling more in advance, I’d tend to say something vague about needing to tend to some errands or something along those lines, but you could also be booking a repair or cable installation or whatever in advance.

    3. ACA

      I usually take a vacation day or a half day; we’ve had a lot of work done on our house lately so it’s not unreasonable for me to need to be home to “supervise the contractor” or something. Just don’t do what one former coworker did and pretend you need to go visit a dying grandparent.

      1. Anie

        People seriously pull crap like that?! I’m pretty transparent if I need a day to wait for a contractor or visit the doctor, but when it’s something like interviewing (or anything else I don’t feel like sharing) I just … don’t specify. I’ve never had anyone push.

        1. ACA

          She also quit without notice by leaving a note in the office manager’s mailbox, so we’re not talking about an especially professional individual here.

          1. Mallory Janis Ian

            Sigh. I’ve been having an urge lately to just text “I quit.” to my boss. But, no; it’s just a pleasant fantasy that I’ve been entertaining lately. I’ve got applications in other places and I’ll white-knuckle it until something comes through.

    4. CheeryO

      My go-to strategies, in order of preference, are (1) schedule the interview for a Friday or Monday and take a long weekend “to recharge”, (2) call off sick that morning with a migraine, and (3) fake a medical appointment. (I always had the excuse of an IUD installation and recovery ready in my back pocket for anyone who got nosy, but I never needed to use it!)

    5. Kitsy

      You could try a non-emergency medical excuse if you wanted to use sick time: annual exam, dental check-up. Something that your boss/coworkers won’t follow up on even in a friendly office but also doesn’t put bad karma out!

      1. Josh S

        “I have a minor medical procedure that needs to be done. I’ll be back the next day.”
        If they press, tell them it’s a colonoscopy. Shuts down the conversation real quick.

        1. Josh S

          Also, don’t lie. Be vague. “I have an appointment.” is usually enough for 90% of bosses. Only pull this out if they get too nosy in your business.

      2. Future Analyst

        I would even go as far as to actually schedule some of these things during this time (as in: interview in the morning, dentist appt 2 hours later). Some insurance coverage doesn’t start until you’ve been in a new job for 30-90 days, so get all your necessities out of the way while you still have coverage.

    6. Retail Lifer

      I’m currently job hunting now. I have the excuse of a last-minute doctor’s appointment because I have some known medical issues, but my legit doctor’s appointments and days off from actually being sick have left me with almost no more time off this year. I’m saving thr last couple of days off I have for potential interviews, but I’m completely screwed if I get sick or something.

      1. TheSockMonkey

        Yup, doctor’s appointment or just an “appointment”. Also, I would say you should stop offering details about any time off, even when it isn’t a job interview.

        Personally, I don’t even take a whole day but try to schedule interviews at the beginning or end of the day when possible. Although I am lucky in that I am able to flex my time.

    7. Alex

      My experience is that in the type of environment you describe, a dentist/doctor/eye/routine appointment is a huge gigantic red flag that someone is interviewing. Personally, I’d probably call in with car troubles, locked out of the house, dog got loose, water leak in the basement, hot water tank leaked and have to replace, broke a window and contractor coming over, etc.

    8. Natalie

      Try meeting with a financial planner, meeting with your kid’s teacher (if you have kids, obviously), vet or dog behaviorist appointment, or waiting around for the phone/cable installer.

    9. Noelle

      I usually used sick or vacation times, but it was definitely stressful when I started getting a lot of interviews. Particularly because I work in a public building and take public transportation, so even for phone interviews I’d have to go all the way home because it was literally the closest quiet place. No one in my office noticed, but everyone kind of kept their own schedule there.

    10. AvonLady Barksdale

      Migraine. I get them, I often go to work with them so everyone can see my misery, and I made a resolution to take a sick day when I get them. Because everyone in my office knows I get them, it looks pretty legit.

    11. Sara

      I’ll be using my one personal day and then calling in sick when the interview offers (hopefully) start rolling in. Luckily we’re not a workplace where people take time to discuss or dissect why so-and-so isn’t here today.

    12. Kirsten

      I’ve done both before. It really depends on how far in advance you know about the interview. If they call on a Monday and ask you to come in on Tuesday I would just call out, but if they schedule it a week in advance I would take the day off. Good luck with your hunt!

  8. Katie the Fed

    Total workplace pet peeve – people who nod along when someone is talking in a meeting. Even worse if they add in “mm hmm” or other agreeing noises. If you do it once in a while, that’s fine. But the people who do it constantly – why? WHY??? And why do you sit next to me?!

    I need a vacation :(

    1. Rat Racer

      I second this peeve – however, the opposite (totally disengaged, possibly sleeping) is even worse.

    2. UK Alice

      It’s a habit I picked up as a kid. I did it to show I’m paying attention and following what the person’s saying. Honest question, is this likely to be irritating? I try to keep it to a minimum because when people nod and ‘hmm’ at me, I feel like they’re saying ‘yes yes, I know this, get on with it’ .

      1. Katie the Fed

        It’s irritating if you’re doing it vigorously and constantly. If it’s an occasional little nod, that doesnt’ bother me. But nodding along like you agree strenuously with 100% of what’s being said? Gah!

      2. So Very Anonymous

        I find it annoying when it seems really strenuous because it feels like the really-enthusiastic-nodder is acting like s/he’s in a one-on-one conversation with the speaker, rather than in a roomful of people. We have someone who does this regularly in meetings, and it’s so pronounced sometimes that it feels like s/he’s having a one-on-one with a small child.

      3. The Other Dawn

        Yeah, it’s OK once in awhile, but to constantly do that tells me that the person is getting impatient and wants me to move it along as quickly as possible. Or I’m boring them.

        My sister does it to me vigorously and it really makes me feel like I’m boring her and should just shut up.

    3. AMG

      Oh dear…I’m busted. I don’t do it constantly (I don’t think) but I do this. I don’t work in government but now I’ll have to watch this.

    4. SoNotaPhase

      I think this may be a cultural thing- I don’t make noises to indicate listening unless I am on the phone- but I do nod and so does everyone in my family. I completely get why audible stuff would be annoying but I guess it never occurred to me that simply nodding would be irritating. But maybe I am from a culture that moves more in general- I always marvel at people who can stay completely still when music is playing at a show and my gf told me it’s because it’s seen as impolite. I guess I’ve been “that girl” at musicals all my life without knowing it..

    5. Mallory Janis Ian

      Ha. One professor used to do this constantly when the department head was talking. He seemed to want it to appear that he and the boss were generating leadership together. You know how a cat “follows” you by anticipating where you might be going and then proceeding in that general direction right under your feet? That’s how this guy would “follow” the boss’s meeting remarks. The boss once looked at him and said, “Why do I feel like I have a parrot on my shoulder?” The guy shut up for two whole meetings after that before he was back at it again.

      1. goneanon

        Arghh I know a guy (not at work, in a church group) who does that constantly, with dumb little jokes to rephrase the speaker’s every sentence. Then he laughs at his own jokes. He has Asperger’s so I feel a bit mean complaining about his social ineptitude but I just want him to STOP

        1. Jean

          It might be a kindness to recommend to him, gently, that he find another way to show that he’s following the speaker. But I think the greater kindness would be to tell yourself “this is just the way Wakeen is wired; he doesn’t mean to be annoying.” And the greatest kindness would be to befriend this guy, if you can honestly do so–or to find something about him that is genuinely good and remind yourself about it whenever you’re with him in a meeting.

          Sorry to preach! I can relate to your struggle because I’m currently doing the same thing with someone whose work style is very different from mine. (Mine, of course, is 100% perfect! Ha.) my workplace. I keep telling myself that Person X is really, really good at doing Task #1 even if I personally have trouble when we have to collaborate on Task #2.

          I’m also preaching because I’m the parent of someone with Asperger’s. Thanks for being aware of your colleague’s circumstances. I know it’s not always easy to be around someone on the autism spectrum–but then Aspies also find it hard to be around us so-called “neurotypicals!”

    6. Happy Lurker

      I also do this and it is a trait in my family too. I feel like I am being rude when the person speaking is looking at you and you don’t acknowledge in some way that you understand them. So, I nod or say “um-hm”. I will have to curb this, because I have casually noticed that I am generally the only one in the room doing it. I never even thought it might annoy others.

    7. fposte

      I do that. Because it’s a conversation, not a lecture, and I do those things in conversation too.

      But you don’t have to sit next to me–you can sit across from me and I’ll see if I can make you laugh instead.

    8. Anie

      Everyone seems to be saying this is stuff they do.

      I don’t. And I find it crazy distracting in a larger meeting. BUT taking time off–or a weekend–does help dull letting the tiny annoyances get to you.

      1. Katie the Fed

        Yes :)

        I’ve been working crazy long hours for a while now so my patience is being seriously tested :)

        1. ExceptionToTheRule

          I hear you. I’m a week away from the first extended vacation time I’ve had in since October. I’m at the “f@ you all” end stage of having any patience left.

          1. Elizabeth West

            Ha, I was exactly the same way before I left last autumn. It wasn’t so bad this time since I worked from abroad and knew I wouldn’t have any last-minute stuff.

    9. Anonicorn

      If the person talking looks directly at me, I have no idea what to do except nod so that I don’t look like a scared animal hoping my predators can’t see movement.

    10. Ultraviolet

      Ha, I have a coworker who nods along very, very vigorously at meetings. Drives me up the wall. That’s mostly because he irritates me in other ways. But he also looks very obviously and visibly dubious when he doesn’t follow the presentation, and he’s almost always got either his doubtful or his approving face on, so I think I’m also annoyed because I feel he’s deliberately and unnecessarily drawing everyone’s attention to him so we can be constantly apprised of his opinion. We don’t need to know!

      (It’s probably relevant that most of my meetings with this guy are centered around presentations of other people’s work and getting in facetime, rather than collective decision-making or input-gathering.)

      Hypocritically, I do think nods from meeting attendees can be helpful in general. I’ve seen speakers wrap up or summarize quickly when it became clear they were preaching to the choir, making the meeting much more efficient. And a nod of agreement from the politically powerful people in the meeting can go a long way. Still, I get the annoyance!

      1. afiendishthingy

        haha I’m honestly not sure whether I do the nodding thing (I suspect I do), but I’m POSITIVE I do the Dubious Look. I am just naturally expressive and not actually trying to draw attention to myself I swear!

  9. TotesMaGoats

    This is some kind of torture! I’ve got a job offer hanging out there and the hiring manager is being super transparent about the status. Like daily emails transparent. But it’s because my last name is the most common last name ever that the background check is slow. They have to check it manually. Then the letter needs the prez to sign off then they can make an official offer. It’s killing me. Knowing the job is mine but it’s hoops to jump through until it’s official. I so want to put in my two weeks but I’m not.

    1. Blue_eyes

      Just be glad you don’t have the opposite – totally uncommunicative hiring manager. Hang in there, it will happen soon! And congrats on the new job!

  10. Ali

    I have *another* interview coming up on Monday! This is for a pharmacy technician at a grocery chain. I’m excited because it’s more than just a hold over job you’d think a grocery store could be, and I know this could really turn into a career if I get hired, get the right training and get my pharmacy tech license. The chain also has a good reputation for treating its employees well and giving them good careers, so I’m excited to see what will happen.

    I wish all these interviews had come while I was employed, but I have to admit…it’s nice to be wanted/in demand. :)

    1. Kirsten

      Good luck! I was a pharmacy tech for 6 years and loved it. My only regret is not getting certified quicker because your pay increases (it also allows you to get hired at a hospital as a pharmacy tech which is better paying.)

    2. Jean

      Oh, lovely! So glad to hear things are going well for you. Hang in there and enjoy the ride!

  11. HeyNonnyNonny

    OK, I have a question on the history of the work week: My husband and I watched 9 to 5, and he mentioned that it’s not really 9 to 5– or any other 8-hour work day anymore. Instead there’s that extra half hour for unpaid lunch in the middle, stretching out the work day. Was it always like that? Or is that new?

    1. Delyssia

      I don’t know the history, so I’m interested to see what others have to say on that. However, there are places where they expect a 37.5 hour workweek, because it is 9-5, with a half hour for lunch in there. I interviewed at such a place in DC (but ultimately turned them down), and from what I’ve heard, this seems to be pretty normal in Canada.

      1. the_scientist

        I’m in Canada and have worked mostly public sector or unionized private sector jobs and I’ve always had a *minimum* 37.5 hour work week (7.5 hours per day, plus an unpaid 30 minute lunch). My current gig stipulates that additional hours may be required but there is a requirement for overtime pay above a certain number of hours per week (in practice, I just get time off in lieu). The 37.5 hour work week is pretty normal here, but obviously very industry dependent. And in my experience, when a position stipulates 37.5 hours per week, it’s pretty rare to work more than say, 45 hours a week.

        1. HeyNonnyNonny

          Huh, I had no idea! My annual salary is broken up into hourly pay based on a 40-hour work week, so working any less like you do would throw it off completely…

          1. the_scientist

            oh, that’s interesting! I’ve always had bi-weekly pay, so the total pay period works out to an even 75 hours. I am salaried, but my hourly rate appears on my pay stub. My old job was hourly and I had to manually enter my hours, but again, it was a bi-weekly pay period.

      2. the gold digger

        My first job out of college – the one with 100% employer paid insurance, 11 federal holidays, and a defined-benefit pension, was 8 to 4. Get to work at 8, leave at 4, half an hour for lunch.

        People could smoke in the office.

        I feel old.

        (But I would happily take in-office smoking again if it meant I could have a pension.)

        1. Anonicorn

          I have to come in at 7:30 to leave at 4, but nobody seems to care if we take lunch for 30 min or 60 min as long as the workload allows it.

          1. HeyNonnyNonny

            You have my exact schedule! Though lunch is supposed to be kept to half an hour here.

        2. KJR

          We have a strict 8-5, 1 hour for lunch. Trying to be a progressive HR person, I suggested allowing for flex time (choose your hours during a core time, then stick to them), which would also offer better coverage on the phones, but no. Because someone MIGHT call at 4:30 and Wakeen leaves at 4. Because no one else could help him! (Which is nonsense because people fill in for each other all the time.) Whenever I bring it up, I get “CUSTOMERS COME FIRST!” Yes, of course…but you’re not getting it. I will keep trying.

          1. Juli G.

            Keep fighting the good fight. I’m always trying to convince managers that it’s okay to work 8:30-5:30 or 9-6 (non customer facing role). I had two this week tell me 9 is just ridiculous.

        3. Jean

          If I worked in a yes-we-allow-smoking office I might not live long enough to need a pension! Unless wearing a gas mask became a socially acceptable accessory for administrative professionals. Gaaah.

          1. Jean

            Woo hoo! The html commands worked! Thanks to the commenters who explained this on a thread a couple of weeks ago! And okay, I’m swearing off exclamation points right now.

    2. Isben Takes Tea

      I think it depends on your job and how they choose to set up payroll–I work 9 to 5 with an hour for lunch. It’s full time, but I’m technically only getting paid for 35 working hours a week.

      I just watched 9 to 5 on Tuesday…I’m so glad it’s not as bad as that anymore! My mom won’t watch it because it hit too close to home.

      1. HeyNonnyNonny

        My husband had never seen it before, so the second I saw it on Netflix I knew what we were doing for the night! It’s painful to think that it was/is still the norm in some places.

    3. Xarcady

      Interesting question. I’ve wondered about this myself.

      I’ve had the following at various jobs, starting in 1985 and moving up to the present:

      8 hour work day; half hour paid lunch.
      8 hour work day; hour paid lunch. (2 different jobs)
      8 hour work day; half hour unpaid lunch
      9 hour work day; unpaid hour lunch
      8.5 hour work day; unpaid hour lunch
      8 hour work day; half hour unpaid lunch.

      So in my experience, most work places have an 8 hour day, start to finish, with some length of unpaid lunch in there somewhere. But I do think there is a significant population that works for 8 hours and has an unpaid lunch in addition, stretching out the work day by half an hour or more.

      1. HeyNonnyNonny

        I’m part of that 8 hour day that gets stretched out by lunch…I actually had no idea there were so many variations, since every job I’ve had has done it this way! I’m sad to see that ‘paid lunch’ drop off as you move forward in time…

        1. Elizabeth West

          In my experience, the lunch gets longer, so that’s a good thing. I went from no breaks (part time) to unpaid half hour–barely time to bolt your food and have a smoke, so when I smoked, I was really skinny because I’d skip lunch to have ciggies–to unpaid hour. An hour is enough time to whack out a quick scene; I wrote a good portion of the bank robber book on lunch hours at Exjob.

      2. Oh Anon

        I’ve had:
        part-time, random hours
        8.5 hour work day (40 hr wk); unpaid 1/2 hour lunch, 8:30-5
        10 hour work day (40 hr wk); paid lunch, 6:30 to 4
        10 hour work day (40 hr wk); paid lunch, sometime between 7:30 & 8 to sometime between 5:30 & 6

    4. ThursdaysGeek

      It’s always been 8-5 in my 30 year experience, or 8-4:30 if there is a half hour unpaid lunch. I always wondered how they got in their 8 hour days starting that late in the day.

      1. TootsNYC

        We don’t; we word a 7-hour day. Here at my 9-to-5-with-an-unpaid-hour-for-lunch company in NYC.

    5. Rock

      I didn’t realize it was EVER legit 9-5. I honestly thought that was a shorthand.
      I work 8-5 with an unpaid mandatory hour for lunch, and prior to that worked 6:30-3 with an unpaid half hour of lunch. Which makes it a 40 hour working week, but a 45 hour week of being around the office.

      1. Jennifer

        Me too. Exact same thought. I’ve only ever heard of 8-5, or the very rare 7-4 (which I did for about four months).

    6. The Other Dawn

      Not sure of the history, but when I got into my first *real* office job, it was 8:30-5, including a 1/2 hour unpaid lunch. We all bitched because we wanted an hour unpaid. Well, guess what? That means either coming in at 8 (last job and this job) or staying until 5:30, which most people don’t want to do.

      But nowadays it doesn’t matter for me, really. I work 8ish to 5ish and I’m supposed to get an hour unpaid. Sometimes I take longer, sometimes I take less than an hour. I’m exempt and my boss doesn’t give a hoot as long as all the work gets done. Most laid-back, reasonable guy ever and I love him!

    7. The IT Manager

      I don’t know, but I thought (1) 9am start was something done in NY, east coast or “banker’s hours” whatever that is supposed to mean (2) it’s for low level hourly employees (but I still don’t understand the lack of paid lunch break).

      * Really I don’t know the writer’s background, but you could expect a Hollywood writer to not understand the reality of working in as office.

      1. The Other Dawn

        Banker’s hours used to be 9am to 3pm, no weekends or holidays. But in this day and age it’s 9am to 4pm or 5pm, sometimes 7pm, and at least Saturday and most holidays. “Banker’s hours” is a thing of the past, really.

        Unfortunately for me I came in banking right after they did away with being closed on Good Friday and other minor holidays.

    8. TootsNYC

      When that movie came out, my mother said, “I don’t know anybody who works 9 to 5.” And that was true, even in Des Moines. When I moved to NYC, there were 9-to-5 jobs with 35-hour weeks (and yes, lunch is in there, so you don’t work *nonstop* from 9 to 5, but I don’t think it’s that inaccurate to describe a job by its outside parameters); I had some of them. The one I have now is technically 9 to 5 / 35 hours if you ask the company, but my unit is 10 to 6.

      But I hear of 8:30 to 5:30 jobs / 40 hours in other parts of the world.

    9. Millenial Banker

      Crazy that you’re bringing this up today. I had the same thought on my way to work this morning!

    10. Noelle

      Everywhere I’ve worked it’s been 40 hours (or more) without breaks. I read a really great article a couple years ago about how the 40 hour work week really drives consumerism. It was depressing to think about, but true. The more you work, the more you put a premium on time over money. So you end up spending a lot more on things that save time, like pre-made meals, eating out, splurging on vacation because you only get a couple days off, etc. I noticed this last year when we ended up spending nearly double what we’d originally planned for our vacation because of last minute problems, and neither of us knew when we’d ever be able to take FIVE WHOLE DAYS again.

        1. HeyNonnyNonny

          Huh, that article is exactly how I feel! I wish I could work 30 hours or something, instead of 40 (plus 2.5 extra hours unpaid for lunches…)

        2. The IT Manager

          So true. I really enjoyed being a full-time student as an adult. My classes were in the evenings – ending at 10pm. I adjusted my schedule to go to bed around 1 or 2am and get 8 hours of sleep. I cooked; I worked out; I read for pleasure; I also studied diligently. It was awesome, but I was also only going to class/studying about 20 hours a week.

          Right now work is super busy. I barely have any food in fridge because I missed last weekend’s grocery shopping. I can’t even find time to walk a couple of blocks before work much less really exercise. And I don’t get enough sleep, and my house is a wreck because I still haven’t finished sorting out everything after my move. I really wish I could work 30 hours a week. Those extra 10 hours could be put to good use.

          1. Noelle

            Yeah, I routinely find that when I’m doing well at work, the rest of my life suffers. Not enough sleep, terrible nutrition (it’s ok to eat this bag of doritos for lunch because I’m far too busy to walk down the street and get a salad, because I’m important!), no exercise, and no social life. It’s terrible for morale, but it just seems to be the standard these days.

    11. Anx

      It just occurred to me that I really don’t know anyone closely that works 9-5. Almost everyone I know well is underemployed or overextended.

  12. Not Today Satan

    I GOT A JOB!!! A full time, permanent job in exactly the field I wanted to switch to!!

    Backstory: my most recent job was in a field that I really found to be unethical (I’d rather not share the specifics). It was eating away at me. Eventually I couldn’t take it anymore and quit without having another job lined up. And my new job is in the opposite field–fighting the bad guys I used to work for!!

    I’m so excited. I definitely have bad job PTSD and am worrying about everything that could go wrong, but over all I’m so happy.

    1. GOG11

      Congratulations!!! This is wonderful news. Best of luck to you as you start your new job :)

    2. Nashira

      Woohoo! Kinda sounds like a comic book origin story, because the role reversal is so neat. You should think up a super hero name to celebrate!

      I might be a nerd.

    3. The Other Dawn

      Congrats!

      And I totally know what you mean about bad job PTSD. I had that when I came to this new job. My previous boss was very anal, was a clock-watcher, very formal, and extremely detail-oriented. He was such a pain in the ass to work with. So many things were drilled into my head while I was there (a whole 10 months!) and I kind of carried those over to this job. It took my a while to get the message through my head that, yes, I’m an adult and I’m to be trusted. No, I don’t have to report to the boss every time I need to leave 15 minutes early. No, I won’t get scolded if I forget to change a footer on a document. It will take time, but you’ll get over it. Just keep remembering that you’ve got fresh start and you’re one of the good guys.

    4. Anonicorn

      Were you the one working in an office the size of a closet with several other people? So glad you got out of that mess and found something.

      1. Not Today Satan

        Yes, thank you! That’s my temp job. Today’s my last day. It was so hard to motivate myself to come in today.

    5. TootsNYC

      I bet you’re going to be great at that job–insider knowledge of how it works, plus a conviction that the industry needs scrutiny? I bet they are thrilled beyond words to have you.

      1. Jean

        Mazal tov and many many wishes for happiness and success as you cross over to working for the good side.
        Also, can I just say that one of the reasons I love this site is because I get to see conversations between people named Anonicorn and Not Today Satan?

  13. GOG11

    I need help figuring out how to navigate fundraising in my workplace (kind of timely considering #1 on the earlier post!)

    My employer participates in a fundraising campaign for a local organization to the extent that our annual meeting includes a slot for local org’s Director to do a fundraising pitch/kickoff. When I first began in my role, a coworker who coordinates these fundraising activities contacted me and asked me to be responsible for soliciting donations from my colleagues.

    Within my departments, some coworkers donate each year and are happy to have a reminder from me. Others feel that how they spend their money is a private matter and they feel very uncomfortable having these activities promoted at work. I’m fine with distributing an informational flier and making how to donate known among my colleagues, but I feel that even that is somewhat intrusive.

    In the past, I used my own money to make baked goods to ‘sell’ for donations. Having seen how my colleagues reacted to the fundraiser in general, I scaled back my efforts and simply distributed donation packets this year. Consequently, there were fewer contributions to the fundraiser.

    The coworker in charge of coordinating all departments called me to ask why things hadn’t gone as well as in previous years. I stated that some people feel uncomfortable being asked to donate at their place of employment and that many people prefer to keep their charitable giving decisions private. At this, she accused my colleagues of lacking compassion and of being unwilling to help.

    Due to the nature of my role in the organization, I’m the most logical choice to coordinate for my areas, but I don’t feel comfortable soliciting my coworkers – having a good relationship with my colleagues is important to me and to my work and I feel that this fundraising role creates tension between me and them. The overall coordinator is not in chain of command, though she is higher up in my organization in general.

    Can I get out of this without having someone else to hand the responsibility off to? Do I just hand out the packets and say I did my best? We’re doing more with less (just got two new, ongoing projects added to my plate) and this not only distracts from my other responsibilities, but it kind of erodes my relationship with my coworkers.

    1. fposte

      “At this, she accused my colleagues of lacking compassion and of being unwilling to help.” Well, that’s a response that makes you more compassionate and eager to help, isn’t it?

      I’d either stick to handing out the packets and saying I’m doing my best or getting back to the so-helpful coordinator with an “I don’t think this role is possible for me now, so I won’t be able to fill it any more.”

    2. Pineapple Incident

      Sounds as if they really have tried to paint you into a corner with this one. Even if you’re the most logical person in your office to handle this and they asked you to do it when you started there, you aren’t obligated to hunt down your coworkers for their donations. You’re right- many people do choose to keep this kind of thing private, because you never know who could be having financial difficulties they don’t want brought up at work, or who don’t want to be judged for choosing not to donate for any number of other reasons.

      That being said, it also sounds like you may have difficulty getting out of this since you’ve already agreed to it for what I’m assuming is a while. I think it would be worth having another go at a constructive conversation with this coordinator and/or someone else in her area, about how your spread-thin department is not welcoming to repeated fundraising requests, and you would rather not negatively impact your working relationship with these people by being associated with soliciting them beyond passing out the fundraising packets. More often than not, those who are interested in donating will seek you out anyway, and those who can’t will keep quiet or feel pressured by repeated requests.

    3. Not So NewReader

      Looking at your second paragraph, it looks like this director has a personal interest in the charity and they are using their position in the company to leverage donations from the employees. Maybe you could suggest a more public campaign which would take the dependency off of the employees. For example, maybe the fund drive could be promoted on the company FB page or website.

      You could mention that maybe if the company offered to match the donations, that might inspire more people to donate.

      Also, I would consider cluing my boss in about all this. Does your boss want you putting huge amounts of time into this? Does she want your coworkers hiding from you, lest they be hit up for a donation?

      The coworker’s response is a big turn off. If I heard that in my own company, I would make sure I did not donate for the next ten years (okay, maybe not ten years but you get the idea). It really shows a lack of understanding. Some how she needs to find out that people will be even less motivated to donate because of that type of statement/attitude.

  14. Benefits Battle

    I hope this is work related as it deals with my benefits department. When I started at my job almost two years ago they gave us the option of 3 levels of insurance. Because I am a type 1 diabetic I picked the top one. This top tier has two different companies that can administer the plan (i.e. Blue Cross, Cigna, United Health Care, Kaiser) so you get plan A or plan B.

    The plans, cost wise and what they cover, are exactly the same (surgery will cost the same, chemo will cost the same, blood work will cost the same). It was described to everybody (large company so training starts with a half day in a conference room with HR presenting about our benefits) that both plans cover doctors around us; the only difference is plan A covers more doctors east of our city and plan B covers more doctors west of our city. So I chose plan A.

    While talking to a diabetic coworker in December of this past year, long story short plan B has been over administering their benefit for insulin pump supplies and she had been receiving her’s for free. In the almost two years I have been here I have paid about $1K for insulin pump supplies and am needless to say not happy. I would have easily picked plan B had I known.

    So my question to all you reasonable people out here, what should I expect? They are currently conducting an impact study. Obviously I would like my money back but then there is the question of who would pay it (that’s the real tough part and company B messed up but they’re obviously not going to compensate people who picked plan A). Any insight would be appreciated. I don’t want to drop this as it’s $1k that I have paid out.

    1. The Cosmic Avenger

      Unfortunately, while a good company would run down all the relevant differences in benefits, ultimately it’s your responsibility to check factors that might affect you and your choice in matters like this. Do NOT ask for someone to reimburse you for that money. No one is going to take responsibility for your decision, even if there were factors you weren’t told about or couldn’t have foreseen. Just because you couldn’t foresee these issues doesn’t make them someone else’s responsibility. Company B didn’t mess up unless they were obligated by your policy to cover those items but refused to anyway, in which case yes, they are responsible and should eventually reimburse you. Not every bad consequence we suffer is someone else’s fault, even if it’s not our own. I had misunderstood about my dental coverage and paid out of pocket for some work, and when I realized that it should have been covered, but it was a couple of years ago…I started using my coverage like I should have and tried not to worry about my error too much.

      I’d recommend telling your benefits department about your issue, and let them know that employees should be warned that if they have diabetes, they’ll pay more out of pocket with plan A.

      1. Benefits Battle

        I think I told the story poorly. They should have cost the same. It was told to me they cost the same. The only difference in plans is which doctors they cover.

        Company B messed up because people who enrolled with them should have been paying $x like I paid. However company B made an error and covered them in full. They were not supposed to do that.

        The benefits department is aware and is seeing how many people this affected and how long it has gone on.

        1. The Cosmic Avenger

          OK, my apologies. People with Plan B may have to pay back that money if they were paid in error and the contract of coverage spelled that out, but if Company B decides to eat that cost, don’t expect anyone to reimburse everyone on Plan A. If Company B was small enough it would probably have to raise its premiums enough to cover that cost, but my guess is most insurers could cover it in order to save themselves the bad publicity of demanding $1K in full from each diabetic patient because of their error. But their error in someone else’s favor still doesn’t somehow mean you’re owed that money.

          1. Benefits Battle

            Damn. I figured it was the answer. I guess just wanted to at least vent about it. I feel like I gambled and lost when picking insurance.

            As for the actual cost it will depend on the employee and how long this error has been happening. For me it’s $1K. I did ask when they updated me about it last if reimbursement was being discussed, figured it didn’t hurt.

            1. TootsNYC

              ” I feel like I gambled and lost when picking insurance.”

              Don’t feel that way! What if these people have to suddenly pay back the $1,000 they accidentally avoided? You got the accurate company, not the company that suddenly is making you worry whether you’re going to have to scrape up $1k!

        2. Spiky Plant

          Yeah, I don’t think you have any cause to get that money back. Insurance companies make mistakes sometimes. When mistakes are made, those affected can have cause to complain or demand a refund, but your company/plan didn’t make a mistake.

    2. Annabel Tippens

      I’m confused. Do you mean that coworkers who chose Plan B received free insulin pump supplies that they were never entitled to?

      In that case, I’m sorry but I think you need to let this go. I know it sucks thinking about the money you spent when other people were getting the same supplies for free, but that benefit wasn’t improperly denied to you. It was improperly given to them.

        1. ThursdaysGeek

          So, you didn’t overpay by $1k, you paid what you should have. They got a benefit as the result of a mixup, but it’s not going to be an ongoing benefit (I expect). It’s like someone paid for their lunch when you went out together — that doesn’t mean you deserve a free lunch too, just because someone else got one. They got something good that they didn’t deserve. Be happy for them, and let it go.

          1. Benefits Battle

            Paying what I should have is a better way to phrase it to give me closure. It definitely won’t be an ongoing benefit because HR let the insurance company know (assuming the insurance company isn’t going to hand out extra money hahah).

    3. Anna

      I don’t understand what you mean by Plan B over administering their benefit for pump supplies. I’m Type I also and have a pump. In the past I’ve had supplies covered very well by Plan A administered by Company A and then switched to Plan A administered by Company B and had it completely change. When I asked about it I was told I must have reached my deductible earlier in the year when I was paying less for the supplies. Well, no actually. However, I don’t have any idea how to make them pay more for my supplies when they’ve done it in the past. What I’m saying is I don’t think you’ll be able to go back to the plan you chose and have them refund you money based on what another plan is doing. I’m not sure there’s much recourse for you.

      1. Benefits Battle

        They paid more to the pump supplier than they should have. Both companies should have paid the same. Insurance error in the employees favor. My company didn’t make a mistake while the other one did.

    4. fposte

      I’m not sure that I’m following–you’re saying that plan B is covering an insulin pump but it’s a mistake and they’re not supposed to? What makes you think it’s a mistake?

      I suppose that’s not really relevant to your question, but I’d say the answer is a pretty clear no, there is not going to be $1k coming to you because another insurance plan has different payments. It’s certainly not going to happen if that coverage is in error, and your colleague may well find that payment getting clawed back. Even if that coverage is correct, though, what the workplace says about plans is generally informal and not binding; what’s relevant is the plan booklet or description of coverage.

      So if that’s a legit coverage, switch your plan during the next period that you can do that.

      1. Benefits Battle

        I’m starting to think I did a terrible job telling the story haha.

        The plans are the same in coverage except which doctors they cover. The plans are supposed to both cover pump supplies 90/10 after you meet your deductible. Plan B accidentally covered them in full instead of 90%. Nobody in HR knew this. Myself and my diabetic colleague approached the benefits manager who discovered plan B was doing this by mistake. Had I known I would have obviously gone with plan B.

        1. fposte

          Okay, that’s clearer. And I’m afraid I don’t think you’ll get anybody to give you $1k for this–it’s like asking for $10 because she found a bill in her desk and you didn’t.

          1. Benefits Battle

            I think I have a very slim chance of getting it. I don’t quite think it’s the same as your example. HR says you can pick plan A or B, their geographical coverage is different but everything else is the same. I pick A however turns out B is covering differently. The difference being I was told by HR when I started the only difference was geographical coverage. There’s also partial outrage in having to pay so much for diabetic care.

            1. fposte

              Hey, it’s your call; let us know how it goes. If you’re going to ask, though, why not ask your co-worker for $500 and split the difference?

              1. Benefits Battle

                Well my thought is HR would worry about a law suit and if it doesn’t affect a ton of people offer me something for a release. It’s really just more hope for a surprise bonus. I’m not going to push. I just thought asking once if it was being discussed wouldn’t hurt.

                1. Ask a Manager Post author

                  I’m confused about what the legal action would be though. Your plan functioned the way it was supposed to; you got exactly what you were supposed to get. The other plan made a mistake, but it sounds like you’re arguing that you should benefit from that mistake because others did? I don’t think your company is likely to see it that way or that there’s any lawsuit there.

      2. Arielle

        The colleague will almost certainly receive a bill from the insurance company. I had the exact situation happen to me with an insurance company (literally, the exact situation – insurance has no idea how to handle insulin pump supplies, apparently!) and got a whopping bill in the mail for something that shouldn’t have been covered at 100% but was. I fought them and got them to waive the bill but that was by no means guaranteed.

    5. Judy

      I would clearly check the language in the plans, because in the last 5 years or so, the insurance I’ve had (and my husband had) over 4 companies overall, paid 100% for diabetic supplies (and statins, and something else). They had targeted those diseases, and were doing “disease management”.

      Just as a second check.

      1. Benefits Battle

        Both plans are so similar they are literally listed together in the benefits booklet. Lets see if I can type it out here.

        Plan A/ $2 per month
        Plan B

        Lower Tier $2 per month

        Under mine it’s definitely 90/10 after the deductible. We have a disease management thing for prescriptions through our mail order pharmacy where they’re free but that is separate from our medical plan. Pump supplies go through our medical plan (and I tried to explain how they require a prescription and are for ongoing treatment but lost that battle).

    6. TootsNYC

      They’re not going to “fix the error” by giving you your money back. That was not the error.

      The error they’re going to try to decide about fixing is whether to *charge* your coworker the money she -should- have paid. They may ask people like your coworker to pay that money after all. They may come up with a repayment plan of some sort if a lump sum is too hard.

      If they decide that making people pay their proper bills is going to be too onerous, they may write it off, but that doesn’t mean that you will get money. I don’t think you have any standing here. You paid the proper amount. Other people getting misled and having their budgets jerked around like that is not a reason for you to get a benefit you weren’t entitled to.

  15. Resume gap question

    Some advice about explaining a gap on a resume please?

    I’m not sure if this is a common thing in other countries, so just briefly: here in Australia, a lot of employers (usually large companies ones or government departments) run ‘graduate recruitment programs’, which are basically large-scale recruitment rounds for new, recent, or soon-to-be grads. The rounds typically open in March/April, and offers start getting sent out around June (the timelines vary depending on the employer), and most jobs start the following January.

    When I started applying for some of these roles (April) I had just finished a short-term contract job, and since I was spending all my time with applications (including assessments, interviews etc) I didn’t take on any other work. So when I got my offer (June) I didn’t have any other commitments, and I figured it’d be a great time to go travelling, so that’s what I did for the rest of the year.

    At the time I didn’t think much of it, but now, after having worked there for over four years and thinking about moving on, I’ve started updating my resume and there’s this 8-month gap between my current job and my last one, and that seems to me like too much time to not mention.

    Should I put a note explaining I was travelling? Do I need to add that I had a job lined up at the time (to indicate I had a ‘plan’ in place)? Would employers care all that much?

    1. Not Today Satan

      I have a few gaps in my resume and no one has ever asked me about it. I would just explain during the “walk me through your resume” part of the interview.

    2. Judy

      I’m 20 years out of school, so it may not be as applicable, but I don’t put dates on my resume, only years. Once a job is several years long, there’s no reason to put August 21, 2001 to July 7, 2005, just put 2001 to 2005. I’ve usually taken a couple of weeks between jobs, even when I’ve had a job lined up when I quit. (I do put dates on any job application.)

      1. Resume gap question

        I’ll keep that in mind down the line. At the moment though I still include the month because every job I’ve had before this one I’ve stayed for less than two years (probably pretty typical for students?).

        I have seen online application forms that ask you to enter dates of employment as dd-mmm-yyyy, which is weirdly specific.

    3. KathyGeiss

      8 months isn’t a big deal and I would hazard a guess that in this economy, it is quite common and won’t raise an eye. Don’t bring it up unless asked or until you’re given an opportunity to “walk them through your resume” as the previous commenter mentioned. If the opportunity never arises, don’t worry about it.

      1. Resume gap question

        Thanks. I guess I’m a bit worried that an unexplained gap would make recruiters suspicious (and hence never getting to the interview stage), but from responses here it looks like it’s not a big deal. I tend to overthink things.

    4. Lionness

      I’m not sure people will care about an 8 month gap from 4 years ago. If it were more recent, or you had stayed on at this job short-term (less than 2 years) there might be some concern. Also, I’m not sure how Australian’s job market was 4 years ago but here in the States an 8 month gap from 2011 wouldn’t even get my attention. I’d be more surprised to not see a gap.

      1. the gold digger

        I have a five-year gap on my resume, but now have been working three years. I used to have consulting work on my resume to cover the gap, but now I just leave the gap (because I am currently employed, so not so suspicious) and explain in my cover letter that I was laid off from my old job, got married, moved to current city, and then re-entered the work force in 2012. It has not been an issues.

        1. Resume gap question

          Do you think I should include an explanation for the 8 months in the cover letter? The problem is my reason is essentially “I wanted a holiday”, and I’m worried about seeming as if I wasn’t taking my career seriously enough to get stuck into work right out of uni.

      2. Resume gap question

        Most of the employers doing these grad intakes still opened up the same number of places so I guess that’s an indication the job market wasn’t too badly hit (at least not in this industry). I think I’m just not sure if it’d be bad to leave the gap there with no explanation, or to explain the gap but then that would call attention to it. But it appears that people don’t think a gap from 4 years ago would raise any concerns, so I might leave the explanation (and save some resume space!).

    5. Blue_eyes

      I don’t think you need to explain it. You’ve been continuously employed for the past 4 years with the same company and are currently employed, that’s what prospective employers will care about.

  16. Sandy

    I’ve gone back and forth on whether this belongs on the work open thread or the personal one, and I’m biting the bullet and putting it here.

    We employ a part-time nanny to help take care of our newborn. She is great in almost every way, but she’s not very good at taking direction and I’m particularly bad at insisting that she do so. On top of everything, we advertised the position at 15-20 hours a week, because that’s what we can afford and she’s consistently been pushing for more and more hours, which I understand but don’t have deep enough pockets for.

    Ultimately, I’m going to have to put my manager’s hat on and have a more formal discussion with her since the informal ones haven’t worked. No way around that.

    My question is more about ME. How/why is that I don’t have issues with setting expectations and holding my employees to account (both positive and negative!) at the office but I struggle so much with it when it’s an employee in my home?

    1. Christy

      Easy: because the worst thing that can happen at work can’t possibly affect your family and your infant.

    2. Jake

      If you’re anything like me, “home Sandy” and “work Sandy” have a distinctly different tact and way of handling problems.

      “Home Sandy” is the one dealing with the nanny instead of “work Sandy.” This’ll become tougher and tougher if you have to switch back and forth in your dealings with her.

    3. Happy Lurker

      Having “sort of” been in your shoes with a household worker not taking direction (but not with a newborn) AND the push back on hours; I understand. Christy is spot on. This is your home and your baby.
      Put your manager hat on. If your employees were not taking direction after 2 or 3 tries they would be gone right? Does this lack of direction cause you to feel unease with leaving your baby with her? If so, take it from someone who has been there, look for a new nanny. The anxiety this one is causing is not worth it.

    4. Future Analyst

      What Christy said.

      Something else to think about: when I went through some of the same issues (particularly with not taking direction), I had to check myself and verify if our nanny’s way of doing it was good enough. If the baby was fed, cared for, and clean, I didn’t need to dictate the particulars of how those things happened. This is similar to how I operate at work– if the work is getting done, and meeting standards, I don’t need to dictate how our employees get there.

      The conversation about not pushing for more hours needs to happen, though. You can be firm, polite, and confirm that you understand that she would like more hours, but you can only over x. She needs to stop pushing for more than that. (You can certainly offer to check around and see if anyone you know needs someone for complementary hours.) But don’t soften your language and indicate that more hours might be an option later on if you know now that that’s not going to be the case.

    5. the gold digger

      I think, too, there is a factor, at least in the US, of hiring help for in your home. I don’t think this applies to nannies, but I have friends who are horrified at the idea of hiring a cleaning lady because they think it is exploitative.

      I have no such feelings – my grandmother worked as a maid and I have hired maids in other countries and as far as I am concerned, cleaning a house for money is good, honest work that really makes the employer’s life so much easier. But I think there is some complication of feeling for work that is done in your home instead of in a neutral space.

      1. Elizabeth West

        If I were to hire a maid and I were dotting all the employment I’s and crossing the T’s, I wouldn’t feel badly about it at all. I’d be THRILLED if I could do that. Soooo much time saved that I’m not doing goddamn chores that I could be writing.

        But if she were like this nanny, I’d have to have a conversation with her. I don’t look forward to that part of it.

    6. Elsajeni

      In the office, are you the one solely responsible for setting the standards, or do you get some direction about what those expectations need to be from someone above you? I think that might be part of it — it’s less anxiety-inducing to enforce standards when you have a fallback position (even if you would never use it) of “Hey, I don’t make the rules around here, if you don’t like it talk to Bigger Boss.”

    7. The IT Manager

      Depending on the Nanny’s personality, I think you could benefit by being upfront about why you can’t add hours. “I know both you and I could benefit from you working a few more hours a week, but we cannot afford it.”

      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        And you can present it as being partly about concern for her: “I want to talk to you about this because I want to make sure that you’re really clear on what we can and can’t offer. We can only offer X hours each week. I know how frustrating it can be when you want more hours, so knowing that it will be X with us for the foreseeable future, can you live happily with that?”

        After saying yes to that, it’s going to be pretty hard for her to keep bringing it up.

    8. Not So NewReader

      Work places are more structured. There are SOPs in place, there are higher ups to contend with and it is a controlled environment.

      Home life is more fluid, there are less SOPs because things are tailored more specifically to what is going on at the moment. You are the CEO of your house, you have the last word, that is kind of weird if you are comparing work to home. How many times at work do you have final say? (ha!) Work is very limited compared to home life. At work the goal is to make widgets. At home there are many goals and a wider variety of considerations.

      Do you have a baseline of expectations? These are expectations that MUST be met there is no wiggle room here. Call them deal breaker expectations. It could be anything depending on your needs. For example the nanny must arrive at your house by 7;30, no exceptions because you must leave at 7:45. I think once you get a handle on what you must have and absolutely need that will help you to firm up some of the other stuff. Get your baseline and you can build up from there.

      1. Not So NewReader

        By way of example, I am having work done on my house. I am not worried about what time people show up or how long they work. My concerns are centered around safety and clean up. I don’t want anyone getting hurt on the job and I don’t want my place looking trashed all the time. This means taking a few minutes to figure out how to do repairs safely and every few days just walking around and tidying up a bit. Those are my baselines.

  17. Nervous Accountant

    At what point do you start thinking of the next steps? When does “relaxing” turn into something counterproductive now?

    I was finally made regular at my temp/seasonal gig. When I started telling people, along with being happy for my good news (thank God I weeded out the negative ones a few years back), start giving me advice on doing this as a side business, now I can think of my next move, apply to the Big 4 etc. I get why they say that, and I know it’s coming from a good place, not a negative one.

    I guess my question/issue/rant is….when is it time to think of the next steps? The way I see it, and I guess I really am lost here–I feel like I just hit a MAJOR goal that I’ve been working towards for the last 2-5 years, and I just want to enjoy it for now and not think of what to do next.

    Ideally I’d like to stick it out for at least a couple of seasons (so 2-3 years) and I can see myself doing that, I’m committed to doing that. At what point do I start thinking of “next steps”? To be honest, I have an inkling but no concrete idea or even desire to explore it just YET…..When does “relaxing” in my current role turn into being stagnant?

    Sorry if this sounds disorganized or confusing…..I’ve just been so used to working dead end/seasonal jobs, striving for something and now I have it….I’m having outside and now internal pressure to think… “what next”?

    1. Christy

      I would settle in and worry about this after next season. Give it a year to settle into the role.

      1. Vanishing Girl

        I agree. It’s going to take at least that long to feel comfortable in your new role. Also, in a year you will learn a lot more about what you actually do, and how it will prepare you for the next thing.

        Just enjoy it: you’ve worked hard and earned some relaxation. Enjoy your current job and excel at it. Over time, you’ll get ideas about where you want to go next.

      2. Isben Takes Tea

        As a culture, we’re programmed to respond to others’ hitting milestones with pushing towards the next one. You can’t graduate high school without “Where are you going to college?” or college with “What are you doing with that degree?” We have a difficult time with leaving it at “Congratulations!” If you can, try to take the pressure with the grain of salt of encouragement (even if it’s unwelcome).

        It’s okay to “relax” by focusing on immediate instead of long-term goals: how can I do THIS job to the best of my ability? That will likely give you some good guidance after the period of time you’re thinking.

        Congratulations, and good luck!

    2. KathyGeiss

      Definitely give yourself a year to settle in. Heck! It may take more than a year and that’s ok. As long as you’re enjoying your role and learning new things, you aren’t stagnating. If you get into a period where you’re bored and tired of your job, then you need to start thinking about next steps.

      As you get more comfortable with the role, those next steps may become clearer. But, they may not. If that’s the case, look for some mentors in your industry and ask them some questions: what’s a logical next step for me from here? What training/ opportunities should I be looking for at this stage?

      I had a big problem as I started growing out of my first job after school. It was the first time in my life that I didn’t have a concrete goal (it had always been graduate high school, get into university, graduate, get a job) and it sent me into a tailspin. But, eventually I became much more comfortable with ambiguity in my long term planning and was able to focus on excelling in my current role.

    3. themmases

      In my opinion earlier is better. You don’t have to start actively looking right away, but when you’re ready to move on it helps a lot to know what else is out there. I once was in a job I thought I would want to stay in indefinitely until I rather suddenly needed to get out right away. Job searching was awful because I had barely even looked at a job posting in years. (And ultimately it didn’t really work since by the time I started getting responses, I knew I was going to grad school.)

      Now I just have a couple of job alert emails I get sent to me automatically. I see a healthy amount of stuff I should be qualified for in a few years– and read those ads so I know how to become a good candidate– and a handful of things available to me now that are interesting enough to click through. I would say if I get a really exceptional alert email reading these takes me 10 minutes and no effort since I’m not applying right now. But I’m definitely a lot better informed, and happier because I understand what I have with my job.

      1. Lucky

        Great point, and in the same vein I’d advise that Nervous Accountant (and really everybody in a new position) get in the habit of keeping notes on new skills, successful projects, etc., both for annual review time and so they can more easily update their resume.

        1. Not So NewReader

          I so agree with the both of you.
          Start now doing background stuff. Know the market. Be deliberate about building up skills and experiences that round out a resume.
          A year will fly by quickly. You can do this and relax because you are just doing background work with no intention of taking a new job right now. You are keeping yourself informed (not much different than reading the news everyday) and you are keeping your resume current.

    4. fposte

      And you can also tell people “Hey, let me be happy with this achievement for a while; I’ll let you know when I’m ready to think about next steps.”

    5. Malissa

      Just work for the next year. Take time to relax and breathe. When the time is right your thoughts will move naturally towards what your next step will be. After you work something other than just tax all the time you’ll figure out what area you really like and where you might want your career to head. But now is the time for exploration and learning new things, not mapping your career.

    6. Josh S

      The time to consider moving on is when
      a) your current role isn’t engaging or challenging to you anymore,
      b) your workplace/manager/circumstances are toxic,
      and/or
      c) you aren’t getting promoted/raises/compensation because your company doesn’t give them internally in the right way (ie, you gotta jump ship to get a raise/promotion).

      That’s when to start looking.

      HOWEVER,
      The time to start setting yourself up for success in that front is NOW. If you “relax” or coast in your current work, you won’t have the accomplishments or ability to quickly find something better somewhere else.
      So if you have an eye toward a Big 4 firm, make sure your work now is putting you on pace. It’s not about relaxing, it’s about focusing on doing great work instead of focusing on getting the next new job.

    7. Nervous Accountant

      Interest approach, very valuable replies. Thanks everyone! THe point about how we’re always programmed to do what’s next is spot on.

  18. AnonAnalyst

    I need advice about fielding a job offer when you’re not sure you want the job. I am in the fortunate position of having a mostly okay job, but am being actively recruited to another company. I’m anticipating receiving an offer from them next week.

    The problem is that I’m not sure if I want this job. I’m continuing in the process because I’ve seen enough that makes me interested in learning more and I think there are some definite advantages to this other position, but there are also some real quality-of-life drawbacks, like a much longer commute, that give me pause.

    However, I’m not really satisfied in my current job, mostly because I’m pretty sure I’ve reached the ceiling for me in this organization and that there are no further opportunities for growth or advancement. I’ve been discussing this with my manager for over a year now and while she keeps floating plans for me to take on more responsibility, none of those have come to fruition.

    I’m not actively job searching yet, but one day when I was particularly frustrated with my current job, I was contacted by a recruiter for this other organization. Because of the timing of the outreach, I responded, and although I’ve been going through this process for awhile now, I’m still not totally sold.

    If I decide this job isn’t for me, how do I decline it while remaining on good terms with the company? I can see myself potentially wanting to work there in the future, but I’m concerned that if I turn it down I might burn that bridge because a lot of time (on both sides, I recognize) has been invested in this process.

    And, there’s no way to use this offer to improve my current job, right? I feel like a large part of the reason why none of the plans for growth for me have come to fruition is that there’s no sense of urgency on the organization’s part to start that ball rolling because they think I won’t leave. But I’m thinking there’s nothing to be gained from letting them know that I’ve gotten another offer…right?

    1. Retail Lifer

      Be careful if you try to use the new job as leverage with your current employer. While it could possibly result in your current employer finally offering you something more because they don’t want to lose you (that did happen to me once), it might just result in them accepting your notice or even trying to push you out early (unlikely, but that also happened to me once). Just make sure that if you decide to mention it to your employer that you’re actually prepared to take it. That part’s the tough decision. Good luck.

    2. Future Analyst

      I wouldn’t use the coming offer to try to get your way at your current company, because a) they’ve already indicated to you that meeting you half-way isn’t a priority for them, and b) you don’t want to create an atmosphere in which you have to threaten to leave every time you want something different.

      Instead, assess the coming offer on its own merits (does it interest you, would there be room for growth, how are the benefits, etc.), and decide if you want to give it a shot. Keep in mind that you don’t have to pick between these two options alone– unless you’re chomping at the bit to get out of your current position, you can keep applying to other positions and take your time to carefully make your next move. Good luck!!

  19. Folklorist

    Quick vent: ARGH ARGH ARGH ARGH ARGH!!! I’ve been working on the most mind-numbing awful project for over a week now, and I’m likely to have to work over the weekend. My bosses just stuck me on it without training and told me the wrong thing to do, so seven 10+ hour days later, with the entire company breathing down my neck to get everything done, they FINALLY called someone in and told us a quick way to skip all of the fat. We could have been done days ago IF THEY HAD ONLY TAKEN FIVE MINUTES TO ASK IT FOR ADVICE!!!
    I really like my job, but they really need to get their sh*t together with basic training. GAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!

      1. The Cosmic Avenger

        You’re too nice, Anie. Let’s just say my frustration would be much more outwardly-directed than yours. (I’d have a strong urge to go scream at the idiots who wasted my time.) However, I do have clients that ask me to change something in a specific way, then ask me to change it in a specific way that was EXACTLY the way I did it the first time. But I’ve gotten used to simply considering that part of my paid work, and I simply comment when they ask me to change something how long that change will take, and how long it will push back our deadline (if it does). Luckily for me, my client doesn’t expect me to do 40 hours of work in one day, and realizes even to devote 40 hours a week to one task will require that certain other tasks be neglected temporarily.

        The way I live with idiocy like Folklorist is putting up with, when I encounter it, is to consider it management’s ultimate responsibility to make sure work is being done efficiently. All I can usually do is optimize my tasks, and make suggestions for optimizing the workflow, but in my position it’s usually up to people above me to make some of those decisions. (But as I said, I’m lucky in that they usually take my recommendations, or if not, they understand the impact of not following them.)

        1. Folklorist

          Yeah, I’m new and this is a massive and terrible project that we get stuck with every year. I thought that since I was following my bosses’ orders (since they’ve done it every year), I was doing it the best way–even though it seemed like there had to be an easier way. I finally questioned it now that it seems like we can’t possibly get it done on time. My supervisors are awesome people and extremely knowledgeable in our field (editing/publishing), but terrible with technology. I know how to do the project now and can take the lead next year when they inevitably forget how this whole thing works again. Sigh. Back to it….

          1. The Cosmic Avenger

            Look at it this way. I had plenty of tasks that I had no idea how to handle when I started my current role. I created procedures and templates and such, with some trial and error, and now these tasks are SO much easier, and some of the complex ones can even now be delegated because I’ve streamlined the process, but there’s always going to be a learning curve. Just make sure you can allude to how much more efficient you are…without sounding snarky or smug about it. That’s always the tricky part for me. ;)

            1. Folklorist

              That’s a great way to look at it, thanks! I know everyone goes through things like these, and to be honest, this job has been so fantastic since I started that this is just a tiny blip. A frustrating one, but a good means of learning a new system (and learning to speak up when something doesn’t seem right!).

          2. TootsNYC

            Document for next year!

            Insist on a postmortem. Start on your own, and write up procedures, best practices, shortcuts, tips, etc. Write out what you did that -didn’t- work; what did; what was fast, where the snags were.
            Include info on who are the people to speak to about extra info, requirements, standards, technology shortcuts, etc.

            Write out a list of recommendations for next year’s do-er. Like: “Call Expert Y before you even begin.” “Ask Stakeholder G for info early, because they’re slow at responding.”

            1. Folklorist

              Already documenting like crazy, coming up with training and style guides. You’re absolutely right!

              1. TootsNYC

                And, make that documentation be an achievement that you brag about–to your boss, shortly before review time, and to any future employer you apply to.
                It’s a very forward-thinking action. Get the credit you deserve.

      1. Jean

        I may be contacting you with a loooong list of unpleasant, annoying, kick-deserving characters. (Leans back from keyboard with an evil chuckle.) Honestly, it’s nice just to imagine the kicking. With all respect to the creator of the Dagwood cartoon, I call this “the Mr. Dithers’ foot experience.”

  20. themmases

    What is your approach to dressing for work? How did you pick it?

    I have a uniform, more or less (tons of colors that I mix and match, but the same few silhouettes that all kind of come together the same way), but this week had to dress up for something and realized I am really attached to my uniform! I had no idea it had become so important to me.

    1. Kelly L.

      I have a uniform too! It sort of grew out of being plus sized and mostly shopping at Goodwill, and it’s sort of become a thing now. The specifics won’t apply to everyone, as it’s a relatively casual place, but almost every day I wear:

      -A shirt/tunic that is probably made of polyester and comes in a brightly colored pattern. I probably have 20 of these in different patterns and sleeve lengths.
      -A cardigan that coordinates with some color in the shirt. I have probably 6 or 7 of these, and they each match several of the shirts. This is intentional. The cardigan is necessary because the temperature is really unpredictable in my building.
      -Plain monochromatic pants–black, khaki, brown. I have several pairs and they too can each go with a number of shirts.

      It’s become really useful because my bus commute makes me get up stupid early. It’s nice to be able to get dressed while not quite awake yet.

      1. Hellanon

        I do a variation on this, a little more dressed up because of where I work. My uniform is dark wash jeans, black pants or khaki pants (ankle length in the summer), some variation on a t-shirt (nice quality, fitted, either cashmere or cotton) and an interesting jacket or simple cardigan. Most of the year I add a scarf of some sort. Depending on how dressed up I need to be I’ve got everything from denim jackets to vintage designer coats & cashmere sweaters, but like Kelly is saying, thinking of the 3 pieces as a uniform really simplifies getting dressed in the morning!

      2. Blue_eyes

        I do something like this too. Neutral colored slacks (black, navy, gray, or brown) with a colorful top. Each top goes with more than one pants color generally and then I have some sweaters and jackets in different colors. I have black and brown shoes plus a few fun ones like red. It’s harder to find pants that fit, so I just keep the ones that I have and buy a few new tops each season to keep my wardrobe feeling fresh.

        1. Kelly L.

          I have one shirt that’s, like, the Type O of shirts. They probably designed it this way on purpose. It has black and brown and red and orange and purple all in it. And it doesn’t clash like you’d think. It always makes me think of spices or something.

      3. Mallory Janis Ian

        This is pretty much what I do, too. Dark rinse trouser jeans from Layne Bryant (the only thing I buy brand-new) and blouses and cardigans from Goodwill, the plus-size resale shop, or on sale.

    2. CheeryO

      I have a uniform too. Cardigan + sleeveless blouse + dark, straight-legged jeans or black ponte pants. Sometimes a thick sweater instead of a cardigan in the winter. Lots of greys, black, and jewel tones. Black flats in the summer and black Chelsea boots in the winter. I very rarely deviate from that formula, because everything works with everything else, and I can throw on anything in the morning and look pretty polished. I do like wearing tops with cute prints on them, so that keeps things semi-interesting.

    3. Shell

      Yup, uniform.

      I have a lot of button-down shirts (I am among the few whom button-down shirts look decent on), couple pairs of slacks, and two black skirts. In the morning it’s grab a long-sleeved tee (it’s cold in my office), layer with button-down shirt, throw on slacks, throw on socks. Done.

      Occasionally (like today) I’ll exchange for a top and cardigan, but that’s pretty rare. :)

      I hate thinking about clothes.

    4. Career Counselorette

      This is super-immature, but I really like using the Polyvore apps to help me get ideas. If you can pick through the One Direction fandom collages, there are a lot of really creative looks in there. A good part of my evening iPad time is spent browsing and liking sets. If I’ve recently purchased a new item, sometimes I’ll even look it up to find sets using that item and see what else I have in my own closet to model on it.

      1. fposte

        I think Polyvore started as being more grownup than it is now–I was taken aback for a moment when you said it was super-immature, but I realized what you meant when I thought about all the collages and the pink hearts and whatnot. So seconding Polyvore–it’s fun to see what people put together with things like yours.

    5. Vanishing Girl

      I do too! It just kind of happened. I am also in a pretty casual office, but I try to stay away from jeans.

      I have these categories:
      tops that go under things (colorful longer tank tops/shells)
      tops that go over things (longer cardigans, shrugs, button-down shirts, occasionally trendy blazers)
      knit dresses (knee-length or so, bright colors/patterns or black)
      leggings or pants (cotton leggings, leggings with a skirt attached, jeggings, or one flowy knit pant)

      My usual thing is dress, leggings, shoes. But I mix and match depending on how I feel each day. Today I have a colorful tank, button-down print shirt, and jeggings. My main goal is to not be too matchy-matchy but coordinate well, and stay comfortable.

    6. Kyrielle

      Totally uniform, and I’m presently very frustrated. I need some new pants (because wear and tear) but the “type” I always use is presently in spring colors. So not what I’m looking for. Argh. But yes, specific brand and style of pants in a few colors, 2-3 styles of tops (in colors that go well), etc.

      I’m actually seriously reducing from “a few colors” to “1-2 colors” for the pants, actually, because if I don’t have to think twice in the morning about what goes with what and whether everything else will still match later in the week if I use this shirt now it would really be nicer. ;)

      1. Kelly L.

        and whether everything else will still match later in the week if I use this shirt now

        THIS so much, mostly with camisoles. Some of my shirts have necklines a little too low for the office, and I have a prodigious selection of tanks to go under them. But I probably ought to invest in, like, multiple black ones, because just this week I was annoyed that I’d worn the black tank with the purple and black shirt because that meant I couldn’t wear it with the beige and black shirt two days later unless i did laundry. This all came about because I couldn’t find the purple tank on Monday…

        1. Kyrielle

          Yep! I love my changing colors of shirts…so I need to standardize everything else so that I only have 1-2 (and multiples of them), and then I should be good to go, I figure. Since I need new pants right now anyway, a great chance.

          Except I want charcoal grey, and maybe dark brown, in a particular line that presently wants me in seafoam green, periwinkle, or dusty rose. Um. No, that will not help. :P

      2. Lucky

        This is why I banished brown from my wardrobe – I hated having to plan my week’s wardrobe around my few tops that would go with either brown or black pants or skirts. Plus, I no longer have to shop for brown shoes. I’m strictly black and gray now, with color tops and accents. My closet is basically Garanimals for adults (70s kids will get that reference.)

        1. OfficePrincess

          I’m in the process of switching to that. My ability to walk and carry paperwork at the same time did in my last pair of brown pants and they are not getting replaced. I’m now down to black, a couple shades of gray, and khaki. Of course, the brown pants fit well where some of my others don’t, but I’m playing the lets see how long I can go without buying pants game since I’m currently losing weight and don’t want to have to keep replacing them.

      3. Snoskred

        Given the terrible Australian dollar right now, and the fact that we are in fall heading into winter over here, taking a look at a few Aussie clothing websites might get you what you are after. :) possibly at a decent price too.

    7. the gold digger

      I work with almost all male engineers, so that makes my life a lot easier. (I usually dress for other women, not for men.)

      1. I wear what looks good on me: skirts, not pants. Silhouette fitted, so pencil skirts, sheath dresses. I have nice legs but my lower butt, which shows in pants but not in a skirt, is not so great. (Although to quote my Serbian co-worker: “Is OK. Men like big butts.”)
      2. No patterns. I am looking for sleek and simple. But I do like color and look like death if I have black next to my face. Black skirt, orange sweater. Orange skirt, white t-shirt.
      3. I hate being cold, so usually have a scarf. (Yes, the a/c kicked in at work the other day when it was 41 degrees outside.)
      4. I am trying not to spend a lot of money on clothes, so have issued myself the challenge of going a year without buying new work clothes. I have discovered nobody cares (or at least, they have never said anything) if I wear the same skirt to work three days in one week.
      5. I buy the highest-quality clothing I can. I would rather have a few very well-made items than a lot of cheap stuff. (Plus we try really hard not to buy anything made in sweatshops, ie, China, in our house.)
      6. Italian shoes.
      7. No earrings any more because I have to use a headset to have conference calls.

      1. Elizabeth West

        I used to never wear scarves, but now I feel naked without them. They’re nice when you take your cubicle cardigan home for a wash and forget to bring it back. My cube is near the cold end of the row, too.

        I forgot a cardigan one day at the British Library, and they don’t let you take your coat into the reading rooms, so I nearly froze. I had a big scarf on, so I just unfolded it and made a shawl and that helped.

        1. themmases

          Agreed, I have a cardigan or a scarf or both with me every day at work.

          Plus, I read somewhere that your outfits will always look more pulled together if there’s a third item, found it to be true on me, and picked scarves. I use them as a cheap, easy way to buy prints and color while keeping my actual clothes basic and interchangeable. So now I am never not wearing a scarf unless it’s at least 85 out (and even then it’s probably in my purse for when I get indoors).

    8. lionelrichiesclayhead

      I don’t have a uniform in the sense of a bunch of different clothes in similar silhouettes but I do have about 5-7 outfits that I rotate through. I literally wear the same navy pattern wrap dress every single Monday and have been doing so for about two years now. What’s funny is that I still regularly get the “I love that dress; is it new” comment and it makes me laugh every time.

      Every once in awhile I’ll introduce a new outfit just because or if the seasons change but otherwise I just wear the same thing every week. It works for me and no one notices. All of my outfits are very put together and accessorized so even if someone did notice I was wearing the same thing, it doesn’t matter to me because it guarantees that I’m always in a really nice, fashionable (for the office), and professional outfit.

    9. HRWitch

      Another uniform-user here! This is a business-casual work environment although managers are expected to be on the business end even on casual Fridays. I also dress in the dark (spouse is medically retired and needs more rest), so my closet inventory is black pants in several styles, one pair of black jeans for Friday, tops in multiple colors, and cardigans/jackets that go with multiple tops/colors. I have about 20 scarves/wraps that pull everything together, and wear one pretty much daily. Formal meetings in warm weather mean dresses with jackets (love my collection of faux wraps!), and in cool weather, black or navy ponte pencil skirt with matching jacket, pretty color top. And a scarf. Always have a scarf!

    10. Aardvark

      Uniform user here! (Are we almost uniformly usual uniform users?!)
      I work in a really casual office, so I wear:
      — reasonably nice jeans
      — a t-shirt or tank
      — a blazer or cardigan
      — tennis shoes if I’ll be walking a lot or flats/low heels otherwise

      And I too banished brown from my wardrobe–I have one brown shirt left, and I think it’s going to Goodwill next time I donate stuff. I’ve also cut down on blue tops, since I usually wear jeans. Most of my tops are jewel tones or neutrals.

  21. M

    If you were scheduled for a second in-person interview for a job you were 90% sure you wouldn’t take, not because of the work itself but because of the schedule/flexibility and pay/benefits, would you cancel the interview?

    It’s supposed to last 4-5 hours and include lunch. I’m worried that I’m not operating in good faith here since I’m pretty sure I’m not interested but obviously don’t know these details for sure (I was told I’m at the top of their pay range and would for sure be working FT vs my current PT schedule).

    1. Dasha

      It depends on when you have it scheduled. If it is for later today that might look really bad. If not, then go ahead and cancel so you’re not wasting their time or yours.

      1. Yaneli

        This happened to me. I ended up going to the 2nd interview and actually took the job. Almost 2 months in, I am a lot happier and stress-free, even with lower pay.
        I say go, you never know. They might say something that will change your mind.

    2. ThursdaysGeek

      If you still have doubts on whether you’re interested, then there still is a chance that you’ll take it. Therefore, going to the interview is not in bad faith, because you need that additional information to know whether you’ll take the job or not. You suspect the additional information will let you know that you don’t want it, but you don’t know that. Go for the interview without guilt.

    3. Josh S

      Is there anything they could do that would make you willing to take the job?
      If so, go for it. If not, or if the things they could do are SO FAR outside the scope of what is possible in your industry/this company, then save everyone’s time.

    4. Ailsa AbuDhabi

      Mercenary answer: how nice is the place they’re taking you for lunch? ;)

      If going isn’t inconvenient for you (like having to take time off your current job), I would probably go. Interview practice is always worth having. If you’re worried about operating in good faith, this is an opportunity to talk to them about what they might be able to be flexible on, but also to impress them enough to remember you if something closer to what you want comes up in the future, or maybe make a handy contact. You’re not promising them anything just by going to the interview.

  22. Question Asker

    Does anyone have any advice on how to deal with someone who is more senior to you and you do projects for but isn’t your manager and sometimes they overstep the line and treat you as though you report directly to them?

    I do a lot of things for our sales manager but I report directly to the owner. Things get kind of tricky because they both work remotely and my boss is absent from the picture a lot.

    I want to do a good job and make sure the sales manager is happy with the projects I do for him but I don’t want him to act like my boss when he isn’t. Sometimes he gets pushy and I would appreciate any scripts on how to politely respond.

    Any advice for dealing with this dynamic?

    1. Joey

      yes talk to the owner and ask him if he expects you to take the sales mgrs direction or not.

    2. CrazyCatLady

      I think it really depends on what the sales manager is doing. It sounds like a fairly small company since you report directly to the owner and since the sales manager is senior to you, I think it’s reasonable that he might act like he’s your boss sometimes – but it really depends on the specifics.

    3. Anomanom

      No advice, because I need some guidance on this one as well. I find myself getting really irritated, and I am aware I don’t always hide my irritation well. How do you nicely say, hey I don’t work for you, so you need to back off or run this request to drop my normal job and work on your priority through the person I actually do report to?

      1. Question Asker

        Yes this is exactly what I’m trying to get at. I’m in no way trying to get out of doing things for him, he just goes a little crazy and I want to politely but firmly push back (and still do a good job- he’s just making things unnecessarily stressful).

    4. Brett

      I had a similar issue and I ended up having to really change the workflow to deal with it. I spoke with my direct boss, and basically we decided that the other manager had to directly all requests through him. Since my boss is ultimately responsible for my time, he has to know that my time is being requested by the other manager and make decisions on what should be prioritized.
      The long term effect is that the other manager dramatically cut back the requests he made from me. My own work ended up becoming much more productive as a result.

      1. Brett

        Should add that I had my manager be the one to make the request that everything be routed through him. I did not talk directly to the other manager about this. When there was push back, he went up to higher levels. (In your case, since your manager is the owner, then the request to the sales manager should definitely come directly from the owner.)

    5. Malissa

      For a minute there I thought I wrote that question. The way I deal with this very similar situation is to push back gently when it happens. “Hey Joe it sounds like your trying to manage me.” I realize that Joe doesn’t often recognize it himself when he tries to manage me, so a gentle reminder is needed every so often. He usually goes back to the coworker zone after that. I’ve also just given him “the look” when he’s tried manager stuff on me.

    6. Not So NewReader

      I would start with finding out from my real boss how much I was expected to do for the sales manager. Give examples of the tasks or give examples of how he pushes. It would feel like firmer ground to me to have this conversation under my belt. You can ask your boss, “How would you like me to handle this when Bob says to do X or get Y.” If it’s impacting your own work be prepared to say something, “I am having difficulty completing these reports because Bob needed A, B and C from me.”

    7. catsAreCool

      I would reply with “Let me check with my manager and make sure that this is OK.” Then I’d check. It would be good to get some general instructions from your manager about when you help and when you don’t.

  23. Sunflower

    Just looking for some good vibes. I interviewed for a job I was over qualified for and the hiring manager liked me so she’s trying to get approval to open an additional position for me that’s right at my skill level. I have no clue the likelyhood of this happening. It’s a really big company and I’m still pretty low on the totem pole but I don’t want to get my hopes up. The job wouldn’t be perfect but would be such a great opportunity and would open a lot of doors. I’m just excited someone in the org likes me enough to try for this so even if this doesn’t work out, it’s nice to know I still have someone in there who is interested in me.

    1. Pineapple Incident

      Good juju headed your way! I’m in the same boat, except I think they’re trying to scale back the position to fit me in it- I’ve had 3 meetings with these people and have a 4th on Tuesday next. Good luck- us low-on-the-ladder folks have to stick together!

  24. Mind If I Interrupt?

    Background: I’m an admin who reports to a group of people, any of whom can assign me work.

    One of my bosses’ style of assigning me work is driving me up the wall. All day long, she’ll call out from her office or drop by my desk and say, “Mind if I interrupt?” I don’t really feel comfortable saying no to that, and I figure it’s a rhetorical question anyway. So I let her interrupt whatever I’m doing. And then whatever task she has for me, she wants done right then on the spot while she’s standing there.

    These are not really onerous tasks. it’s usually stuff that just takes a few minutes. But they’re also not emergencies, and this isn’t the way most people assign me tasks–they’ll email me, or leave me a note, or drop by and tell me and tell me a timeframe (“can i have this by Tuesday”), and then I can plan my day and block out which tasks to do when. I’ve started to dread the days this boss is in the office because I know my train of thought will be broken every 10 minutes by the latest 2-minute task that’s popped into her head.

    Really the problem is twofold. Part one is that I’ve reached BEC with the phrase “Mind if i interrupt.” If she weren’t my boss, or if we had a different relationship, I might joke back that it doesn’t matter if I mind, because she’s going to do it anyway. But I can’t really do that. Is there any way to make the phrase go away, or am I stuck making a game out of it and seeing how many times she can say it in a day?

    And part two is that her style of assigning work is immensely distracting to me. I know the “interruptions are your job” thing, and it’s what I keep telling myself. But every ten minutes it’s some random thing, and I get nothing else done when she’s in the office. I’m guessing I probably have to suck it up?

    1. Dasha

      Are at least some of these requests usually the same? Like can you run this report or email so-so about the meeting? Could you frame a meeting with her as scheduling these things in advance so you’re more efficient? Maybe that would cut down a little bit on the interruptions.

      1. Mind If I Interrupt?

        I think they’re usually things that she didn’t know or that she forgot, which then pop into her head and that are making her stall out in her own work till she gets them. Things like needing to know how to format something in Word, or looking up information on somebody because she was working on something regarding that person and couldn’t remember a particular fact about them. I think I’m serving as her auxiliary brain here.

        1. Blue_eyes

          Some of these sound like things she could figure out herself in the same time it takes her to go and ask you and then take the answer back to her office.

        2. Not So NewReader

          Can you show her how to find out about formatting or getting info on her own? You could say, “In case I get swamped here is how I am getting this info, it might be easier than waiting for me.”

    2. Christy

      Can you ask her to email you instead with a task and a deadline? Say “Sally, it helps me prioritize work when I get emails and can schedule tasks according to office-wide priority. Jane and Bob send emails for tasks, and I find it’s really helpful for making sure the most urgent stuff gets done first. I’d appreciate if you could do the same.”

      1. Ihmmy

        +1 for this. I’m such an email brained person when it comes to tasks, even if someone tells me verbally I ask them to send me an email so I can flag it and ensure it’s done.

      2. Pineapple Incident

        I second this one- I would check my email 15 times a day or just continuously have it up to avoid the kind of “interruptions” you’re describing, and ask her to use that way.

      3. Sadsack

        Yes, I agree with this. I wouldn’t wait until the next time she comes asking for help; I’d have a conversation about it when you have time. Stop by her office and tell her you’d like to discuss your workload and how you’ve developed this process with the others. If she is at all reasonable, she’ll accept it.

    3. Mpls

      “Actually, I’m in the middle of a thing. Can you email me the details and I can get to it at X time when I shift gears?”

      Sure, might be more work up front, but repeat enough times and maybe you’ll get her re-trained?

      1. Mind If I Interrupt?

        Based on previous interactions, I think this might be the one she’d respond to best. Thanks (and thanks to everybody who replied)! I’ll try this first.

        1. Sadsack

          You might try having a conversation with her first, then resort to this if she starts slipping. Good luck, how ever you handle it!

    4. LBK

      I would start taking her “Mind if I interrupt?” question literally. She’s giving you an opportunity to push back, whether she means it rhetorically or not (and I’m sure she does), but it’s not unreasonable to answer that question honestly.

      I understand the impulse because I’m also a person that has a very hard time saying I’m busy, so my response when someone asks if I’m free is usually “Depends what you need!” (in as jokey and friendly a manner as I can, so it’s clear I’m semi-serious but not being bitchy). Then if it turns out it’s something that I can’t/don’t want to do right now, I usually self-deprecate and say “Can you actually shoot me an email about this? I’m in the middle of something and I know I’ll totally forget about it by the time I get a chance to work on it.” That might be another route you can go if saying no directly feels unnatural for you.

    5. Anonsie

      Start with telling her you’re busy and when she should come back to talk about it. Or tell her to email it to you.

      Seriously though, I know she’s your boss but she is asking if you’re free to talk. Assume she means that, unless you can assume based on her overall personality that she really doesn’t mean it and would be angry.

    6. TootsNYC

      It sounds like you need to proactive approach the basic problem, which is this:

      *she has things she needs to get onto your to-do list now, while they’re on her mind
      *you need to be able to focus without interruptions

      So, go to her and say, “you know how you aways ask, ‘mind if I interrupt?’ and then give me something to tackle for you? The truth is that it’s often a problem for me to be interrupted for these sorts of things. Can we come up with some way that you can get this tasks onto my to-do list, without your actually having to interrupt me?
      “What’s most important to you, in terms of dropping off the task, what do you need back from me?
      •do you -need- to give me instructions now so I don’t interrupt you later?
      •do you need to know that I’ve seen it, or do you need an estimate of when it will be done?
      And perhaps I can establish an In box, with paper, and you write down the task and drop it there, and I’ll email you when I’m about to tackle it, so you can cross it off your mind. {insert other solution there}”

    7. Mz. Puppie

      I understand you’re supporting multiple people, but you must have one singular supervisor, the one who approves your time off and gives you your performance review, etc. Given that BEC is legitimately preventing you from adequately assisting all the others, you have a real problem here. I’d go to your supervisor and ask for advice about how to help BEC while not shortchanging the others.

  25. CorgiGirl

    I had a great experience yesterday with my boss yelling at me in front of donors because I broke my foot Tuesday and wasn’t able to attend an event. The event was a donor appreciation lake party in one of our rural wooded retreats. Thankfully, today is the last day of my notice period so I am out of here! However, should I worry about th issue yesterday affecting my boss’ reference in the future? I’ve always gotten exemplary performance reviews and she had previously been satisfied with my work. Should I bring it up again today before I leave?

    1. Happy Lurker

      As painful as it may be, I would bring it up. I would want to know if she could be counted on for that good reference.

    2. Anie

      What’s she going to say?! “Oh, I would recommend CorgiGirl for a position at your company, but she broke her foot and couldn’t go to this party in the woods. Obviously unreliable!” If something like that would affect a recommendation, I’m not sure talking about it with her will change anything.

      1. Sadsack

        She might say something more along the lines that, “in the past, OP has been unreliable attending events,” but without giving any details.

    3. Katie the Fed

      I wouldn’t bring it up – she reacted badly and stupidly probably because she was stressed about the event. What an absolute jerk. I wouldn’t bring it up though – just thank her for everything (lie through your teeth if you have to) and be pleasant on your way out.

      Hope your foot feels better!

    4. Future Analyst

      I would give it some time (a week, maybe more), and reach out to her via email or phone. I would apologize for not making it to the event, and add that my foot is feeling better (mostly as a reminder to her that your foot was broken), and then say that you want to check with her about her future references. Say that you know she was frustrated with you during your last week, but you want to make sure that that doesn’t overshadow years of exemplary work. Hopefully she apologizes for reacting horribly to something that was out of your control, and confirms that she will be a great reference. If not, at least you know where you stand.

    5. Noelle

      That’s horrible. But for what it’s worth, my past manager said some really rude things to me during my notice period (even though we’d had a great track record previously), and then after I was gone they were fine and gave me good references. It’s probably just bitter grapes and it’ll blow over.

    6. Nanc

      Ugh! What an awful thing for your boss to do! Other commenters have covered options for talking to the boss about the reference so I’m going to give broken foot advice. If you’ve never broken your foot before, be prepared for changes when you’ve recovered. I’ve done it twice (same foot, 15 years apart–yep, I’m a klutz!) and it changed the way I walked to the point where I ended up with neck pain until I found a massage therapist who helped me figure out how to deal with it. Because my gait was different, my shoes also became painful to the point where I had to buy all new shoes.

      Wishing you a speedy recovery!

      1. CorgiGirl

        Thank you! I’m hoping that everything heals quickly. I fell while trail running and this is my first time breaking anything. I’ll definitely keep all of this in mind! :)

    7. Ruffingit

      Wow. I cannot imagine that the donors were at all impressed with her yelling at you for a medical issue out of your control. If I were those donors, I might seriously consider reallocating my money elsewhere.

  26. Noelle

    I swear, sometimes I feel like I must not be speaking the same language as some of my coworkers. Case in point – My office has three separate departments. An outside organization asked us to partner with them on something. I got sign-off from the first two departments, but it has been a month and I am still waiting for the third department. I have called, emailed, and talked to them in person, and it’s like they are incapable of understanding this request. “Uh, why are we being asked to do this?” “It’s because of XYZ.” “Uh, don’t we already have something like this?” “No, it probably sounds familiar because this is the exact same thing I’ve been talking to you about for a MONTH NOW.” It is such a simple and basic request, and there is no reason for this hold up.

    1. KathyGeiss

      This is super irritating. Maybe try framing everything at once in a super simple format. I like the following:

      Situation: thing is happening and we have an option to get vendor to fix thing. Other departments are a-ok wth this.
      Implication: thing won’t be an issue any more.
      Next steps: I need approval to move forward with vendor or I need you to decide: pink or green solution.

      Another framework is: what, so what, now what.

      Choose whichever words best resonate within your company culture.

      1. Noelle

        Thanks! I guess my mistake has been in assuming they can function in a normal work setting. I did send an email last night (and reiterated it this morning in person) that pretty much said exactly what you have here. I always feel bad when I get emails that are bolded or highlighted, like I’m too much of a flake to read my emails. And then this happens…

        1. AVP

          If something similar happens in the future you could also try the opt-out method, depending on where everyone is in the company hierarchy. You can send a regular email first if you want, but if they don’t reply, send a second one that says something like, “hey, we’ve been invite to do this thing and it’s a great opportunity. We’d love your sign off, but as you seem busy, we are going to go ahead with it unless you have any objections. We are planning to sign the paperwork next Friday. So if you have any questions please let me know before then?”

          1. Noelle

            Unfortunately my organization isn’t set up in a way I can do that. At my last job that is how I dealt with it, and also with managers (In the past I’d often send emails like, “Hey, this is what I think we should do. I will plan on doing this unless I hear otherwise from you by X date.”). One of the most frustrating aspects of this new job is I can’t do that. But on the plus side, the department I was waiting for FINALLY signed off!

  27. MsChanandlerBong

    I’m self-employed now, but this happened to me at my last job, and I was curious as to how you all would have handled it.

    I gave my two-week notice. My employer said I could work the full two weeks, but I would have to do clerical work (collate interview packets, make copies, etc.) and have no contact with potential students. That was fine with me. During my last two weeks, they had me sitting in a co-worker’s cubicle doing the above-mentioned tasks.

    When I went in to pick up my final paycheck, another co-worker of mine came out to talk to me. He said Lucinda’s (another co-worker) purse was missing, and everyone thought I took it. For the record, I absolutely did not take the purse, and I never even saw Lucinda with it. Basically, it boiled down to, “Well, you and Matilda were the only two people here during our weekly meeting, and we don’t think Matilda did it, so it must have been you.”

    I was kind of flabbergasted, so I just said I didn’t take it. I was a little upset, so I also said something like, “If Lucinda finds her purse, I hope someone gives me the courtesy of calling me and apologizing to me for making such an accusation.”

    How would you have handled this? Lucinda was known for being somewhat scatter-brained, so it’s entirely possible she left it at a restaurant when she went out for lunch or set it down in the bathroom and never picked it up. I worked for a college, so it’s also possible that one of the 75 or so students in our building walked by, saw the empty cubicle, and took it. I absolutely, on my honor, 100 percent did not steal it, though.

    1. Dasha

      Oh wow, I’m sorry. I wouldn’t have handled it well either but I think all you can do here is say you didn’t take it. They acted badly and made accusations, not you.

      1. Me

        Hubby’s boss once accused him of having stolen their dog over the weekend. (This was the first time I’d ever heard of the notion that someone might bother to steal a dog.)

        Luckily, we’d been out of state at the time and so that accusation went nowhere.

    2. LCL

      So coworker took a slap at you, at the very last second? And it was the kind of remark with no good answer, and that you will obsess over? Former coworker is a malicious piece of work. This may even be mostly made up, with Lucinda’s purse missing but the rest of it BS.
      The way you handled it was fine. I probably would have said “so call the cops if you think a crime has been committed” and not given it another thought.

      1. MsChanandlerBong

        I do think her purse was stolen (or at least she thinks it was stolen; she might have lost it). I just didn’t do it. My boss was talking about it a day or two before I left. “Lucinda’s purse is missing. I’m not happy about that.” Come to think of it, maybe she was trying to feel out if I took it. I always wondered if it fell into one of the hanging file folders when her drawer was open (it was not a large purse, but a wristlet just big enough for a thin cell phone and a few business cards).

    3. Happy Lurker

      Seems like someone stole it and knew you were not around to defend yourself. That is terrible.

      1. Kelly L.

        Yup, I have seen this before. Something gets stolen, and everybody blames whoever is leaving or just left.

    4. Anna

      I’m trying to wrap my head around your coworkers thinking you’re a thief. “Matilda doesn’t look like a purse thief, but MsChanandlerBong sure does! Let’s go accuse her baselessly!”

      Wow.

    5. Pineapple Incident

      I don’t think I could have handled this any better, especially not in the moment. No one should have the right to accuse another coworker of stealing without actual evidence (I’m talkin’ caught red-handed, keys to a locked drawer found in their possession, or video footage). Sorry you had to be on the wrong end of that.

    6. Ama

      Honestly, I think you handled it way better than I would have. I would have included some choice swear words.

      Are you sure this coworker wasn’t just acting on his own? If they really thought there was a reason to suspect you, it seems like a much more formal approach would have been taken (campus security and/or your boss probably would have been there) — it kind of sounds like this dude decided it was you (perhaps against everyone else’s opinion) and took it upon himself to “confront” you before you “got away with it.”

      1. MsChanandlerBong

        I’m pretty sure. When he confronted me, he said he wanted to wait for Maxwell (another co-worker). After a few minutes, Maxwell hadn’t shown up, so he just went ahead with his prepared speech. He also said “we” a lot (“We think you took it.” “We don’t think Matilda took it.”). It was a toxic environment, so I bet they all sat around discussing it and came to the conclusion that I took it.

    7. Malissa

      I probably would have said, “Seriously?!?” And maybe “Wow.” Then shook my head and walked out with my final paycheck.
      I did have an old job call me and basically accuse me of stealing a memory card out of a camera. I gave a most fact based reply, even if my eyeballs where popping out of my head at the question. The real is story a store manager that had borrowed the camera, who was also the roommate of the IT guy, returned the camera with no memory card. But nobody was really concerned about it then when I told everybody it was missing. I left and he saw an opportunity to blame it on me.

    8. Not So NewReader

      Did you talk this over with the boss? Or is your boss part of the problem?

      Did your coworkers call security? If not, why not?

      Guilt is not usually established by voting, typically evidence is used to establish guilt. What a “nice” group of people. (NOT) They will probably turn on each other after you leave, they seem to have no problem randomly throwing people under the bus.

      I guess I would check in with the boss and/or HR. I hope Lucinda finds her purse and you don’t have to deal with this except to tell them they need to be careful about what they accuse people of.

  28. Lucky

    I’ve found myself in a pickle this week. I started a contract-to-hire position as the mid-level counsel between the general counsel and a junior counsel. GC has been trickling work to me – I couldn’t tell whether he was just trying to ease me in or just too busy (and unorganized, which he is) to give me work. But, he keeps assuring me that he thinks I’m a great fit for the position, etc.
    Then last night I saw a job listing for the GC’s position, posted by the company’s exec recruiter on LinkedIn. Big board meeting yesterday. Saw GC for a few minutes this morning, acting like nothing’s amiss.
    My Friday mantra: Not my circus, not my monkeys.

    1. Not So NewReader

      Well, at least you know why he’s not pushing work your way. He’s got bigger fish to fry. Hang tough and be glad it’s not involving you in any manner.

  29. Cath in Canada

    Got a grant submitted on time yesterday, despite the principal applicant being hospitalized for emergency surgery last week (he’s OK, thankfully). I negotiated a two week extension on a second grant, and we decided to abandon a third that wasn’t as well developed. Kind of a busy week!

    One unexpected silver lining was that I finally managed to tell a nosy coworker that medical information is private, you should assume that the person involved will tell you exactly as much as they want you to know, and asking for any further details is rude. (I honestly don’t know anything other than hospital, surgery, doing OK, and haven’t asked anything else other than “hope you’re feeling better”).

    Why is it sometimes easier to stand up for someone else than for yourself? I didn’t manage to say anything at all when she was asking why I’d been off sick one time, and exactly how I’d hurt my back another time. Oh well, hopefully it’ll stick.

    1. Anonsie

      You might ask for an extension on the third one, I’ve found most grant deadlines are a lot more flexible than you’d think if you just ask. Unless you just don’t want to dump the time into it, which is also understandable.

      Hope your coworker is okay!

      1. Cath in Canada

        I did ask, but the funding agency wouldn’t accept anything from me – it had to come direct from the person affected, who wasn’t able to respond in time (I didn’t even find out about the incident until several days later, as it happened while he was on a trip so I didn’t notice that he wasn’t in his office). And they’d only have given us an extra week anyway, which wasn’t quite enough time to reach an acceptable quality. We already had text for the other two grants that I could develop and polish with very little input needed, but the meat of the proposal we abandoned was still just in the principal applicant’s head!

        1. Anonsie

          Oh that’s ludicrous. I love when people say they’ll only talk with my PIs directly or will only accept request directly from the PI. I’m like… Ok, well, I guess you’ll get your answer in about three months. And that’s when they’re not on some kind of emergency leave.

  30. Maybe Baby?

    I’m not having a kid tomorrow, but it might happen in the next few years, so before I take a job, I’d like to know how they handle maternity/paternity leave.
    People have mentioned here and elsewhere that some companies avoid hiring child-bearing aged women for this reason (even though it’s illegal), so how do you ask about leave without raising flags or getting blacklisted? Can you negotiate maternity leave? Do you do that during the hiring or after you work there and you’re planning your leave?

    1. Joey

      You’re getting way ahead of yourself. Wait until you get an offer to ask about benefit/leave details.

    2. Lucky

      I absolutely think this is necessary information, but don’t think there’s any way to ask for it during the interview/negotiation process without opening yourself up to discrimination. So, I think you have to scour the company’s careers site, sites like Glassdoor, and any other source you can find, like friends-of-friends who are not in a hiring position at the company. Also, if you’re looking at large companies, try one of those “best places to work for women” magazine articles.

    3. Bend & Snap

      Leave is often negotiable. And honestly with the high-level attention, laws could change by the time you have a child. I’d let it lie and review with the full benefits package.

      Larger companies often post these types of benefits on their websites too.

    4. Kyrielle

      Two things:

      Check the web site first! Family-friendly companies sometimes (but not always) trumpet information about their awesome family-related benefits on their web site, as an enticement to get good applicants who might (gasp) also want a family. :)

      If they don’t, wait until a verbal offer, and if you haven’t seen it by then, ask if you can see the employee handbook. That will usually give you a good idea since the policies are spelled out, of at least the minimum they’d do.

      If the handbook doesn’t satisfy you – and you don’t want the job if they’re not family-friendly – I’d work to negotiate it at the offer stage. But bear in mind that a company that doesn’t normally do that may view you differently if you do negotiate that; finding a place for which that’s the norm is going to be more comfortable.

      1. A Jane

        Agreed on the website — organizations with great benefits will make sure it’s front and center.

        1. Kyrielle

          Usually but not always. *wry* The company I worked with until they were bought was really good for maternity leave/accommodating mothers (not always so good for family balance in other ways), but it wasn’t the center of their “who we are to our employees” and they didn’t even mention it on the web site. (I wasn’t interested in that when I took the job, lo so many years ago, and just was grateful for it when I did have kids!)

      2. Anonsie

        This is what I was going to say– the leave policies for things like this should be in the handbook, so if you ask for that you could go through everything you could possibly want to know without setting off any alarms.

        I’d be suspicious of the websites alone because I know plenty of places that tout a lot of benefits on their recruitment pages but then their actual policies are a lot more finicky and harder to work around than they implied at the hiring stage.

  31. Is it legal? Terrible principal edition

    Ok, so I hate to be the person who asks “is this legal,” but here it goes:

    My husband is a teacher at a charter school (so, no union). He was informed by his principal a week or so ago that his contract would be non-renewed for the next year (but is employed through the end of the school year in ~7 weeks or so), along with a couple of other teachers. He was also told that the non-renewed faculty (and only the non-renewed faculty) would now be required to submit doctor’s notes for every sick day taken. It also appears that what was given to them as a combined vacation/sick day generic PTO pool has been magicked into only sick days (and it was impossible to get approval for vacation unless you negotiated it before hiring). So now there’s no way to take a day off (for instance, to schedule an interview, or to take care of our pup post-surgery, the latter of which had been approved [by someone other than the principal] before he was non-renewed).

    So, I think that there are two “is this legal?” questions:
    1) Can your employer unilaterally and without warning change PTO time to sick leave only? Unfortunately, the principal refused to give an employee handbook, so I don’t know if anything was in writing.
    2) Can your employer have a different sick leave policy for some employees–specifically, those that are being non-renewed versus those that *may be* returning (this school is a disaster, and most of the teachers are leaving, but the principal doesn’t know that yet)

    1. Joey

      Yes and yes. Unless for example its all the older or female workers that are not being renewed and are affected.

      But what’s to stop him from taking a day off anyway without a drs note? I mean it’s not like his contract renewal is on the line.

      1. Is it legal? Terrible principal edition

        Right now, the principal has at least said that he would give a positive reference to future employers, but I imagine if he just starts flouting the sick leave policy, he might not. I also think that they might dock his pay? I don’t know what they would/could do.

        (And for the record, this school has been such a disaster that I think it’s fine that he’s not being re-hired, as he wouldn’t want to go back, and this way he gets some unemployment while looking)

      2. Brett

        > But what’s to stop him from taking a day off anyway without a drs note? I mean it’s not like his contract renewal is on the line.

        In many states, the district/charter sponsor has the power to have your license pulled if you are a probationary teacher. Getting caught in a lie like that would probably result in that sort of retaliatory action, and now you cannot teach in the state at all. Probationary teachers are basically powerless and it is pretty easy for their employers to take actions that are actually illegal. (One district my wife worked for would automatically non-renew every pregnant probationary teacher or any probationary teacher who exceeded a certain amount of health insurance claims.)

        As for “is it legal”, unlike a lot of other professions teachers almost always have a written contract (even non-union teachers). Refer to the contract and see if it spells out how leave is handled. Still though, you have the whole issue of the charter sponsor holding all the power via the teaching license, so even if the actions are illegal, doing anything about it could result in some nasty career ending retaliation.

          1. fposte

            Though since she doesn’t have personal days any more, that seems merely like redefining the terms of termination rather than avoiding it.

            1. Joey

              That’s true but doing it so close to the end of the school year makes it a lot less likely I would think unless you take a bunch of days.

    2. SevenSixOne

      As far as I know, PTO is a perk that US employers are not legally required to provide. Changing the policy without notice or canceling PTO that was already approved is stupid and terrible for morale, though. Two sick days per year is insanity!

      It’s possible to have different PTO policies for different employees– I worked in a job where employees hired before a certain date got a lump sum of PTO on January 1st, but employees hired after that date accrued PTO on a rolling basis each pay period. The company notified current employees about the change about 3 months ahead of time, and existing employees were able to choose the rolling accrual as long as they submitted a form before the change took effect.

      1. Is it legal? Terrible principal edition

        They were given 9 days of PTO, and he took one sick day a few months ago. Many/most of his co-workers have taken all or nearly all of their PTO, and it looks like he’s going to have to leave most of his on the table.

        I think that the plan–at least for the previously-approved leave for dog surgery is to take the day off, tell the principal that [other admin] had approved it, and say that since he was never told he couldn’t take it, he assumed that it was still fine.

        And unfortunately, I don’t think that the principal is worried much about morale at the school (which is why he’s losing >80% of his faculty for next year). There are a million examples, but here’s a good one: my husband’s classroom didn’t have electricity until a day or two before classes started, despite months’ worth of pleading for electricity so he could do set-up. He got harangued to come in more frequently to set up and decorate the classroom over the summer, which he had to do in the dark.

        1. Joey

          Remember teachers are typically exempt so even if he did take a day off and didn’t have leave to cover it they couldn’t legally reduce his pay

          1. Brett

            There is an exemption in FLSA that allows the pay of teachers to be docked as if they are hourly workers if they miss a full day of work. (Also applies to “outside sales” positions, though I’m not sure what that is.)

    3. BRR

      Does his current contract have a rule on sick leave? If not you’re SOL.

      Can he interview and schedule a doctor’s appointment for the same day?

      1. Is it legal? Terrible principal edition

        Yeah, that’s sort of the plan right now. He’s got a job interview on the afternoon of the day that he’d prearranged to take off to keep an eye on our convalescing dog (the day after surgery). I can work from home to watch the dog, so it’ll work out. And in the future, I think that he could head to a Minute Clinic type place with symptoms of seasonal allergies and say that he knows it’s silly, but that he needs a doctor’s note to be out of work.

  32. Arjay

    Venting. My team is mostly made up of licensed professionals, with me and one coworker being the non-licensed exceptions. Coworker has been in an exempt individual contributor role, while I am the sole non-exempt person on the team. Coworker was just promoted to a new manager role, and he asked me if I’d be interested in joining his new team in a subordinate role. He knows that I’m a lower level than he is, but he also knows that I report directly to our VP. These new roles are a lower level than I am, even at my current puny level. I know I’m sensitive about some of this, but it just seemed like such a tone deaf thing to ask. At least I managed to avoid blurting out, “I wouldn’t report to you if you were the last manager on earth!”

    1. Bend & Snap

      Take it as a compliment, not an insult! Managers are charged with building strong teams. You clearly have some desirable qualities.

      Obviously still decline but don’t take it as him trying to put you down.

      1. Arjay

        Thanks. I didn’t think he was trying to insult me, but I did find his general cluelessness kind of offensive. I like your suggestion to reframe it in my mind.

  33. Missing Lync

    My department used to have Microsoft Lync access, but the whole department’s access got revoked when people started using it to goof off and have personal conversations.

    I think we could reduce the potential for goofing off if managers could send messages to and receive messages from anyone, but non-managers can only send messages to and receive messages from managers.

    Does anyone know if this is possible in Lync or any other instant message program?

    1. The Cosmic Avenger

      I don’t think so, but I’m only familiar with Lync as an end user, not an administrator. I really just wanted to comment on your post to ask if your employer is also eliminating water coolers, bathrooms, hallways, and anywhere else that employees can “goof off and have personal conversations”. A good manager would have tried to fix the productivity issue and abuse of company resources instead of taking the easy way out by removing a useful tool.

      1. Missing Lync

        Oh, believe me, the whole department has given the boss an earful about how not having IMs makes our job 10x harder.

    2. Sadsack

      How is IM useful if you can only have conversations with managers? What is the point of that? Does that mean one’s direct manager, or one can IM with someone else at a manager level, regardless of what department, or what? How would that be controlled?

      1. Sadsack

        For the record, I agree with The Cosmic Avenger, and I understand that Missing Lync is only trying to salvage the IM issue. This situation is ridiculous.

  34. Steve G

    Attaching work samples to job applications for Analyst jobs…..

    I am having a hard time getting a job and wanted advice on whether it would make sense to add Excel work examples to my job applications. 2 additional questions about what type:

    1) would it be ok/normal to send a Word document with just the formulas from the templates I made in my past job, because I don’t really want to be emailing around the propriety stuff I made at past Co? For example a sheet with formulas like this:

    =IFERROR(IF(AND(‘Customer Facing’!$E$21=”General Large, Not Time of Day”,Calc!$K10>100,’ConEd Cut and Paste’!$B$6=”L”),SUM(‘Pull Downs & Assumptions’!$F$10,95*’Pull Downs & Assumptions’!$F$11,(Calc!$K10-100)*’Pull Downs & Assumptions’!$F$12),IF(AND(‘Customer Facing’!$E$21=”General Large, Not Time of Day”,Calc!$K10100,’ConEd Cut and Paste’!$B$6=”H”),SUM(‘Pull Downs & Assumptions’!$G$10,95*’Pull Downs & Assumptions’!$G$11,(Calc!$K10-100)*’Pull Downs & Assumptions’!$G$12),IF(AND(‘Customer Facing’!$E$21=”General Large, Not Time of Day”,Calc!$K10<100,'ConEd Cut and Paste'!$B$6="H"),SUM('Pull Downs & Assumptions'!$G$10,$K10*'Pull Downs & Assumptions'!$G$11),0))))," ")

    2) Or should I just make a whole new template from scratch with fancy Excel things as a work example and attach it to job applications….

    Or is the whole idea gaudy and am I trying to differentiate myself in the wrong way?

    1. Christy

      The first idea is really gaudy, and while someone can read what you’re saying, it’s totally not clear what the context and need is for the formula. Definitely don’t send just the formula.

      I wouldn’t recommend sending the second idea, the recreated spreadsheet, either. I think you should focus on your cover letter, resume, and network.

      1. Steve G

        OK thank you.

        As per the network thing, I only for 2 job offers through my network but the jobs were both bad matches/not great companies. I was in a niche industry not big in NYC so the network here is small. But thanks for the answer on my question!

    2. College Career Counselor

      I have no advice for you on the type of sample documents to attach, but I would caution you against submitting materials that are not asked for as part of the application (if this is the case). Extraneous materials may be viewed at best (in my opinion) as neutral and at worst as evidence that you can’t follow instructions.

      Why risk alienating the recipient unnecessarily?

        1. MsM

          You can always create a website or online portfolio and include a link to that in your resume. The employers who want to know more will go take a look; for the ones that don’t care, you won’t be wasting their time.

    3. Brett

      Excel docs are questionable work samples. If I am looking at one of those, I have no idea if you are the one who actually created it. I work in geography where people frequently submit maps as work samples; I have the same issue there. Unless it was a published document with your name on it, I do not know if you produced it (or, more importantly, how much of it was your work).
      At the interview phase, I can ask that person about the decisions they made in the document and get an idea of how strong their knowledge is from that. (e.g. I would probably ask you about decision to use such a complicated formula over using intermediate calculations and lookups)
      The more I read the formula, btw, the less I like option one. With no context, I have no idea what you are trying to do with that formula, nor whether it is effective and efficiently written.

      Also… if you do create an excel doc as a work sample you run the risk that it will break and be unusable on the other end for any number of reasons (macro blocking, version mismatch, etc).

      1. Steve G

        OK thanks for the reply, I would never think of submitting something that is not 100% mine, it is sad that that is what some applicants do

    4. Josh S

      Nope. No need to do either. Work examples don’t need to be attached to job applications.

      Make yourself stand out through your resume (accomplishments!) and coverletter (why are you excited abut the position?) and allow yourself to speak to your Excel knowledge in the interview.

    5. Lucky

      In my early days as a lawyer, I was often required to send a writing sample with my resume. Because my writing samples all contained confidential/protected information, I would make them generic by removing or changing party names to “John Doe” or “Doe Company” and remove any identifying details. Maybe you could do that to an Excel work example?

    6. AnonAnalyst

      Agreeing with the chorus that I would not send these along with your application. If the employer wants a work sample at some point in the process, they will ask.

      Is there anything you can add to your resume or highlight in your cover letter about your Excel skills, or something you’ve done in Excel that’s had a greater impact on the business? I’ve had some employers take note of either some of the specific Excel functions I’ve listed out, or of some of the accomplishments I’ve listed, like building models to improve efficiency or help standardize a process.

  35. Shell

    I had my three-month probation review on Monday and not only did I pass it with flying colours, I got a raise. A pretty decent raise (4%).

    Yay! :D

    1. Elizabeth West

      Hooray!

      Our self-appraisals are coming up and then our yearly with-manager ones. Ugh ugh ugh. I hate those. I always vaguely feel as if I’m going to get in trouble. We talked about past job trauma last year, but I’m thinking I should be over that by now.

      1. ILiveToServe

        Just completed the self-eval….great trauma- why is this so, so, hard? Good news just got my supervisor’s rating back and received the equivalent of “walks on water” No significant raise but at least I have some positive feedback from her. (there is literally none during the rest of the year) I thought I was sitting down to go over my self eval and she spent the time pointing out the margins and bullet point formatting of the written document.

  36. BoomShaka

    I need advice on how to handle former colleagues. I used to work an at awful place (with a bad reputation) and then moved on to a much better employer. I’m doing really well and have quickly moved up the ranks and am well connected. I didn’t leave on good terms with some of my former colleagues and supervisor (They were toxic). A few of them, including my old supervisor, have been going around badmouthing me. It has not affected my work or advancement but I wonder if it will color people’s opinion of me? It’s been a year and a half and they are STILL talking trash even though they’re still there miserable and none have been able to get out. (You would think they’d try to make friends and be smart but nooo..they’re crabs). Our field is small and so I see them often at events. I ignore the toxic ones and talk to the ones I got along with including another supervisor (because I figure why start small talk when they are so gossipy and toxic) but a few times they have interjected a conversation I am having with someone (to be annoying and seemingly dominant and I guess show they also know people above their lowly current employer). I have been literally ignoring them and going about my business building allies at more powerful places…but I’m wondering am I going about this the right way? I feel like trying to talk to them and build some sort of civil friendship would be stupid and somewhat weak as they have ALWAYS been jealous and toxic. Plus, I’m at a much better place and am more connected so I don’t want to pull myself down by even talking to them. Advice on if I’m approaching this correctly?

    1. Anie

      I agree with what you’ve been doing. You’ll only pull yourself down by being involved with them, even in small interactions. I’ve had to do the same thing. Sometimes it’s your best option.

    2. Anna

      I think you’re doing everything just fine, but if you want to take the higher HIGHER road, you can maybe still be pleasant to them when you see them. Say hello, even if you don’t stop to talk. Killing them with kindness in this particular instance means that if and when they say shitty things about you, the people they’re telling will be confused because you have always been polite to them in public, etc. You don’t have to be best buddies, or even friends, but in public it might be more helpful to be polite.

      1. Dynamic Beige

        This. You need to get in the habit of BIG SMILE “Oh mi gawd! It’s so great to see you! How’s everything? Uh-huh. Really, that’s great! Oh dear, I need to get a drink/grab something from the buffet — I’m famished/find the restroom/speak to Jane over there it’s been ages since I last saw her. So great to catch up with you.” and vamoose. Sincerity. If you can fake that, you’ve got it made :P

    3. The Cosmic Avenger

      Your former employer is the class bully/gossip/clown of your industry. Most people know not to trust what they say, and the few who don’t will learn when you set an example that is so markedly different from the trash they’re talking. But most adults will recognize trash talk as suspect even without any context.

      tl;dr version: You’re doing it right. :)

    4. BoomShaka

      Thanks guys! I was getting a little worried because it’s a good three people plus my old supervisor so I thought that the more people talk trash the more credible they seem but…I guess there is nothing I can do but go about my business and ignore them. ThanKS for the advice on being civil in public.

    5. Brownie Queen

      You say that your field is small so I am sure no one pays attention to their trash talking. Keep taking the high road and continue to ignore them. Living well is the best revenge.

      1. Not So NewReader

        Probably everyone in you field knows who they are and WHAT they are- this goes for good workers and bad workers.

        I was at a competitor’s place one day as a customer. I happened to mention that I worked for his well known competitor. He said, “OH! You worked for BOB? Uh… Do you want a job?” Bob was well known for his well established business and broad customer base.

        Going the opposite way, my husband worked for Mr. Jerk for almost ten years. Years later my husband mentioned in passing, that he had worked for the man. The reaction of the person he was speaking to was amazing, “YOU lasted that long with that JERK?? I only lasted two years, I had to get out!”

        You stay in a field long enough and you get to know the long term players. It sounds like the folks at the new company are ignoring the gossip about you because they are considering the source. Continue ignoring it yourself and you will also create another talking point for your cohorts. ” Jane and Paul are always talking negatively about BoomShaka for no reason. Wow, they are off base, AGAIN, Boom is great with us. Steer clear of those two if possible.”

    6. TootsNYC

      People do NOT like trash talking. And it sounds like they really can’t do it subtly anyway. So add in the idea that they’re really not good at it, and I don’t think they’ll have much credibility.

      That said, don’t be obviously ignoring them. Just be vague and fade away on them.

      1. BoomShaka

        Thanks! It’s just so hard to engage in any conversation because they are so petty gossipy and immature. I don’t want to give them any info and I also don’t want to seem like i’m running away because that looks weak, so instead I just give them a sharp hi (if we make eye contact) and that’s it. If they have questions, i respond, but I know my face screams “why tf are you even talking to me” and then I just leave the conversation and talk to someone else. It’s hard to crack the door open when the person is a sh*tstarter.

        1. Not So NewReader

          Try to frame it as you are “running toward something”. For example: “hi, sh*tstarter, how’s it going? Oh, that’s good [too bad]. Oh my, look at the time, I gotta run and meet someone.” Try to have something that you are going toward be it a meeting, a friend, a cup of coffee or even a bathroom. This is a slightly different mindset than simple avoidance. If we avoid someone we don’t necessary have a place that we ARE heading to.

          This won’t fit every interaction but it might offer relief here and there.

          1. BoomShaka

            Thanks for this! You’re right. It sort of signals…”You’re not that important, but I acknowledged you anyway” which is great because that’s how I feel.

  37. Mike C.

    So what kind of music are you folks listening to at work?

    I’ve been hitting Digitally Imported pretty hard, but I’ll take anything trance or house related.

          1. fposte

            Ooh cello’s my favorite instrument, but in a general way; I’ve never encountered Herbert before, and now I’ll have to have a listen to him.

            (No music at work, though–couldn’t cope with it.)

                1. Stephanie

                  I totally would have played the viola if I didn’t have a giant hand span better suited for a cello or bass.

                2. Joey

                  The violin is the closest to the female voice . The violin is the closest to the range/tone of both male and female

              1. Stephanie

                Also, I remember playing pit orchestra for a few musicals. The keys were always weird, not string-friendly ones (ie, lots of flats) because supposedly that was easier for singers? (Unsure of the veracity.)

                1. AVP

                  Oh, she’s so great! She’s a contemporary cellist and composer who mainly does scores for films and tv, and works with rock bands, but she has a few albums of her own more classical work out as well. Into the Trees is my favorite for work music, but One Cello x 16 is great too.

                  It’s interesting that you read that the cello is the closest instrument to the human voice – I usually don’t get into classical music because I miss the voices and lyrics, but I’ve never missed it with this. Her work with the cello is just like singing with a different tone.

    1. Cath in Canada

      I listen to music podcasts at work. I find that listening to music I know well is too distracting – I want to sing along! So I find podcast hosts who play genres that I like in general, and let them pick stuff that’s new to me. The only exception is that the soundtrack to Fridays, 4-5pm, absolutely MUST be Nirvana’s Unplugged album.

      When I’m writing or doing other very focused work, I like blues music. There’s something about the predictability of its structure that makes it my perfect background music. For other types of work I like indie guitar-based music, with some classical music, non-challenging jazz, and a touch of hip-hop thrown in.

    2. Tagg

      I love digitally imported! (my favorite channels are vocal trance and ambient).

      Unfortunately, while I do get to pick the music that plays in my office, it has to be pretty conservative. So right now we’re listening to Garth Brooks :)

    3. HeyNonnyNonny

      Pandora. My Grimes playlist is pretty good for background for work.

      I put on the Lordi playlist when my coworkers bug me too much.

    4. Nashira

      I keep listening to PHOX’s self-titled album on loop, and I’m getting Sylvan Esso’s album as a reward for finishing this quarter at school. PHOX is neo-soul/jazzy with brilliant harmonies, whereas Sylvan Esso is electronic dance music with a great vocalist. NPR has a recording on Youtube of an entire SE concert that’s awesome.

      I’ve also been listening to a lot of Professor Elemental (chaphop/steampunk) because oh my word have I needed the ridiculousness to make it through this week.

    5. Retail Lifer

      We can’t choose the music (mall Muzak). They’ve chosen super generic elevator jazz.

      With such a fantastic grasp of what our target market is interested in, you really have to wonder why malls are dying.

    6. aliascelli

      Pandora’s “Best of the 80s Reloaded Radio” channel. One day it seemed like every third song was Queen. I didn’t realize you could get to the car in Good Omens from Pandora!

    7. Tinker

      I’ve been listening to Clublife by Tiesto and Groovelectric. The latter podcast is apparently by the same person who does Podrunner, which I used when I started running (their 5k interval series) and have gone back to recently because apparently I’ve got to work my way back up to 10k runs rather than just do them.

      I also really need to go through my music collection and make some new work playlists so I can download stuff to my phone. Used to listen to a lot of trance[]control and I think it makes great work music; also, on particularly gray and bleak days I have been known to take the “more Cruxshadows, louder Cruxshadows” approach to motivation.

      1. Mike C.

        I currently have Group Therapy, Global DJ and a few others on my phone right now. Man, I remember trance[]control from years back, when I was downloading their tracks from Napster.

    8. Gandalf the Nude

      I actually mostly listen to video game soundtracks! Since video games are so goal-oriented, a lot of game music seems to be composed specifically to facilitate problem-solving, perseverance, and task completion. Or, at the very least, that’s how I’ve been conditioned to respond to the Water Temple theme. Either way, it makes my excel sheets feel like part of a larger adventure!

      1. Elizabeth West

        Soundtracks! :D
        I love all the Hitman ones. Jesper Kyd is one of my favorite VG composers. His music for the Assassin’s Creed games is top-notch too. Also Jeremy Soule.

        1. Gandalf the Nude

          I listen to my Black Mages station on Pandora almost every day. :)

          I also have a lot of Chrono Trigger/Cross and Zelda reorchestrations and remixes in my library, the most bizarre of which are probably the Jay-Z albums remixed with Chrono beats.

      2. Hattie McDoogal

        Me too! I used to listen to Grooveshark, which had a couple of good video game music stations, but they shut down a few weeks ago and now I’m sort of lost. :(

    9. Elizabeth West

      I listen almost exclusively to soundtracks these days, so it’s mostly that or classical–Chopin, Arvo Part, Vivaldi, etc. Instrumental–I can’t listen to vocal music while I’m working because 1) it distracts me, and 2) I always want to sing along. Imagine if I suddenly started belting out “THERE YOU’LL SAMPLE MRS. LOVETT’S MEAT PIES, SAVORY AND SWEET PIES, AS YOU’LL SEE!” at the top of my lungs.

      1. Gandalf the Nude

        At old job, we could all have our own music in our own offices, and everyone loved all the different music and singing along to whatever was in earshot. Even so, I was pretty red in the face when I realized my intercom was on and the whole office had listened to me singing Jonathan Coulton’s “Re: Your Brains”.

    10. waffles

      I listen to the “Ambient” station on Pandora. It’s like very pleasant white noise, and because there are no words, I don’t get distracted by the music.

    11. Anonyby

      Pandora here. I have a playlist specifically for work. It’s mostly pop music from various decades, and I’m very conscious about managing the ones I find relatively harmless versus the ones that make my hackles raise. lol Even then there’s plenty on there that I wouldn’t have thumbed up if my office was busier when I’m working…

  38. Vanishing Girl

    A week or two ago, there was an open thread discussion about getting bored within a year of getting a job, and some people suggested looking for project-based jobs.

    Project manager was mentioned, but I was wondering if you all had more examples of jobs/careers that are project-based?

    1. Delyssia

      Proposal coordinator or manager, if you’re interested in more short-term projects.

    2. Jake

      Construction. Both in the field and in the office.

      We need every thing from laborers to admins to project managers to accountants and much much more. If you’re truly interested in project based work, the construction industry has you covered.

      1. Rock

        As an admin in construction, +1
        We’re always looking for solid folks in this industry. My area, at least, is struggling with a skilled labor shortage. Estimators, Project Managers, Engineers… admins too like mentioned above, all have places in the construction industry.

        1. Jake

          Yes, I think a lot of folks don’t think about the construction industry because they view it as physical labor, or as a project management role. There is so much in between that is very very underserved throughout the industry.

      2. AnotherAlison

        And there is an engineering equivalent to the construction jobs, too. Beyond engineers, drafters and project mgmt that you typically think of, we have project-assigned project admins, coordinators, project controls, expediters, and document controls staff. None of these positions require engineering degrees, although project controls can be engineers and if not, usually require construction/engineering/business management degrees. Other jobs are more entry level or have requirements for 4-yr, 2-yr degrees, or equiv experience.

        I’ve always done project-based engineering work. I am like VanishingGirl and need change. In the past year I moved to work on very short-term project work and do <6 months on one project, while I used to work on large engr/const jobs that were 1-2+ years. The shorter the better. Project work is great.

    3. Steve G

      I’ve worked in Contract Administration, which can be project based in that you sometimes have big contract and analytical packages (analyzing the effectiveness of the sale-prices or campaign or whatever the contract is for) in order for the renewal package, and then there is a lot of back and forth with the customer to redo the analysis or get additional info for the renewal.

      As Delyssia said, RFP/Proposal Coordinator/Writer is another one.

      I also worked in energy efficiency projects, which are like somewhat like construction. They can involve large scale lighting or air conditioning or even LEED building design projects.

      And lastly many Business Analyst roles are project based, including projects like “become expert in Salesforce and work with the Sales Director to migrate all information into it seamlessly.”

    4. Clever Name

      I’m a consultant, and my job is project based. There’s always something new to work on, and I’m expanding the types of projects I work on. Right now I do about 4 different types of projects in pretty disparate areas, so it’s cool to be able to switch gears.

    5. AVP

      I have a staff job at a company which works exclusively on a project by project basis We have a few long-term clients, but no guaranteed yearly contracts. I love it because it’s always something new and is rarely boring and I love having ten million things on my desk at the same time – it’s a type A person’s dream, as long as it’s going well.

      The downsides are that people freak out when there’s no work coming in (and the overhead is significant, so it’s not like being a freelancer who’s able to drop a lease or take on a side job – we have to pay our end of the business contracts, money coming in or not). It can also get pretty boring at those times.

      And I think I have the worst of all worlds when it comes to scheduling – project-based people can work really hard in spurts and then rest in between gigs. Regular office workers can rest knowing they’ll put in a somewhat even level of effort over the course of weeks and months, and will likely have weekends off. When you’re a staffer at a project-based company, you work the crazy hours during the intense projects and then in the “off” weeks you still have to be there every day.

      All that said I love it and would totally recommend it – assuming you can find something you can live with doing and do well.

    6. Vanishing Girl

      Thanks to all of you! I had never even considered things like construction or engineering. There’s a lot of places where project-based jobs are more the norm.

      So much to think about!

  39. Nethwen

    I’m excited. I’ve been a library director for a month and now am hiring for three part-time positions. It’s my first time hiring, but I’ve sat on hiring panels, had dozens of interviews in the past several years, done research, and thought about what I really want from these positions. I’ll probably make mistakes, but overall, I feel good about my process and planning. I put the ads up yesterday and this morning received an application that followed directions and used good grammar and punctuation. Do to the nature of the jobs, I know we’ll get several clueless applications, but it’s an encouraging start. And I get to do something I haven’t done before. That’s energizing!

    Do to comments on AAM, I plan to e-mail potential questions to those we want to interview. I want to make the process as transparent as possible and for the interviewees to have the option to be prepared, so thanks for the idea, group mind! And yes, I will respond to everyone, including those we do not interview.

    1. TotesMaGoats

      Why would you email questions ahead of time? That’s not any standard practice I’ve ever heard of. Most interviewees should know at least the basic standard questions you would ask and prepare on their own.

      1. Ambitious, but passionless

        Just to put everyone in an equal playing field. It’s not a common practice, but very helpful for thise new to working.

        As a software developer, this is a similar practice to Google. They give you a list of topics and books to study to prep for the interview.

      2. Nethwen

        Because these jobs are designed for people who have little, if any, work experience, and I remember several comments on AAM a few weeks ago where people said they wished they had a selection of potential questions specific to a particular interview to help them target their preparations. It would take hardly any time for me to copy and paste the questions into the e-mail, so why not help someone out? I’m not into playing games and many professional conventions irritate me; I want things as clear and straightforward as possible and don’t mind deviating from convention if I think it’s for the better.

    2. Joey

      I wouldn’t give them too much time. Maybe the night before or when the arrive. Otherwise you risk some really rehearsed answers. And I imagine one of the things you need is folks who can respond to patrons quickly with thoughtful answers.

      1. Nethwen

        Eh, most interview answers are either rehearsed or stumbled through, I think. The more experienced interviewers are able to transfer the rehearsal into conversation mode, that’s all. Plus, my target audience may not have been in an interview before. And if this turns out to be a bad experience, I won’t do it again this way. I’m flexible in my approach. ;)

        1. ILiveToServe

          Nethwen,
          I am in the library world and have been a hiring manager for the last 15 years. I have never given questions a head of time but in the academic world it is not unusual to provide a topic for job talk. Good luck with your experiment and please report back.

      2. Spiky Plant

        But that’s why you ask follow-up questions, rather than just asking a question, accepting their answer, and moving on. And an interview is really different than a customer service environment; if you’re testing the latter, an interview probably isn’t the best way to go about it anyway.

  40. Ms. I Need a New Job

    Hi guys,
    I had my second interview with an organization last week. During the interview, they did not bring up salary/benefits, and I did not bring it up at the advice of readers here. Well, they emailed me yesterday to inform me that I am their best candidate and that they would like to begin a background search on me. I definitely want to bring up salary/benefits now because it doesn’t seem like they ever will. Do you have any advice on how to bring this up?
    Thanks in advance!

    1. TotesMaGoats

      I actually would’ve asked during the second interview about benefits. If they hadn’t brought it up (which is my normal experience), I would have. I would email back and ask for the details. It’s pretty straight forward information.

      1. MsM

        Agreed. Just stress that you’re excited about moving forward, and want to be respectful of their time by confirming you’re on the same page in terms of salary range and benefits before they start the background check.

    2. The Cosmic Avenger

      I agree with Totes, I think either a second interview or when they inform you about checking your references or background check are good times to ask for basic benefits info.

      Now, if you’ve got something specific that’s very important to you and could be a dealbreaker, like maternity leave, or teleworking, or a certain level of medical insurance, assuming you need more details after asking for general benefits info, I’d wait until an offer was made to ask about those things, because you might need to get a firm offer with a final salary/rate to decide if that hill is the one to die on. (For example, if they double your salary/rate, you might be OK without certain other benefits.)

  41. Cassie

    One of our supervisors is asking to make a counter offer to retain one of her employees, Jill, who just got a job offer with a different unit (one step up from her current entry-level position of clerk 1).

    Jill’s job performance is satisfactory. She’s been here for about 7 years.  Jill’s skill set is limited and she wouldn’t be a good fit for another position within our unit (we have a couple open right now).  Maybe we could offer a raise (there’s a pay scale so it would be about 50 cents extra per hour) – but that’s still below the pay scale of a clerk 2.

    It’s very rare for staff retention cases here (faculty -yes, all the time; staff no). Plus what can we offer her? We can’t match money without changing job titles and we can’t change job titles without an increase in job tasks or responsibilities. And I don’t think she will be able to take on more or different tasks (the kind that would warrant a title change).

    I like Jill as a person and like I mentioned, she is a satisfactory employee. For her own sake, I think she should take the job offer – this other unit sees potential in her and is willing to hire her at a higher title.  Maybe she does have the ability to grow and maybe she’ll go on to be a superstar. I just don’t think we need to try to keep her here. Especially when stats say that like 70% of employees leave within 6 months of accepting a counter offer! (I don’t know if Jill is looking for more money or if she doesn’t like her job duties or what – the supervisor seems confident that Jill will take a counter offer).

    I’m inclined to ask the supervisor think through this carefully. If it were my decision, I’d just tell Jill “congrats and good luck”.

    1. Persephone Mulberry

      Seven years in the same role? And now another department is offering her a promotion? I would not even waste my breath on a counteroffer that I know isn’t going to match what she’s being offered.

      1. Kelly L.

        I think there’s a word missing, and it’s “One of our supervisors is asking ME to make…”

            1. Cassie

              I’m part of the HR team handling staff recruitment / compensation cases – the supervisor is asking us for the green light to make a counteroffer. The supervisor flat out stated that we need to retain Jill at all costs. I’m not the supervisor’s supervisor so I wouldn’t be a position to stop any retention efforts anyway.

    2. nerfmobile

      No organization I’ve ever know allows counter-offers for people doing internal transfers (even if it’s between units/departments). The goal is to retain good people within the organization broadly, not to shoot yourself in the foot by allowing units to jack up their salary costs via internal competition.

    3. TootsNYC

      I think I’d say, “why not use this as an opportunity to freshen up the staffing? Jill’s got a nice gig, and it’s probably a good time for her to go somewhere new; the seven-year itch, and everything. And you can get someone with a new personality, and nfew outlook, new perspective, new energy.”

  42. Knits and Giggles

    I’m the newspaper copy editor at a crossroads from last week’s open thread ( https://www.askamanager.org/2015/05/open-thread-may-8-2015.html#comment-743678 ) I joined the LinkedIn group this week, so feel free to reach out to me there (I posted in the introductions thread).

    Also, if anyone can tell me how to gain experience in AMA style (there are a lot of postings for medical/pharma/health proofreaders and copy editors in my area, and they’re very adamant their hires have actual experience in AMA), that would be fantastic.

    1. Editrix

      I’m a scientific and occasionally medical editor. My suggestion would be to google authorAID info (not posting link because it will stop my comment from showing up). You can find researchers from the developing world there who otherwise can’t afford to have their paper edited. Once you’ve done a few papers you will have legitimate AMA experience and you’ll be doing some good too. Experience with ESL authors is also in demand.

    2. Spondee

      I’m a copy supervisor at a pharma ad agency, so my experience hiring editors is somewhat limited, but I started as an editor and work closely with a team of editors now. I know a few managing editors who are willing to teach AMA to a strong freelance or full-time candidate. It sounds like you just need to meet people like them.

      I’d suggest joining AMWA and starting to network with writers and editors. You could also try applying for more junior positions. Our current junior copyeditor came from 4-5 years at a magazine that folded. She’s a good editor, but she didn’t have experience with AMA.

      Good luck! It’s not impossible. Most of my coworkers didn’t start out working in AMA.

  43. cerie

    I reached out this week to my future employer about an update on when my paperwork would be sent to me, knowing that background checks can take a while but wanting to give notice before I get assigned to projects with end times past my last date. I was told I’d get my paperwork “tomorrow.” That was Monday. Should I be worried? Should I reach out again? Should I assume they’re busy and go ahead and give notice given that on their website the position’s been filled? Alternately can I just get some drive-by sympathy for what I recognize logically is a very minor problem which has nonetheless been causing me a ton of anxiety?

    1. Delyssia

      Personally, I would not give notice until I had confirmation (ideally in writing) that the background check had cleared. I cannot imagine anything coming up in my background check that would cause someone to rescind their offer, but I still feel like it’s not really official until that’s cleared.

      That said, it is so unbelievably nerve-wracking to wait for it to be official!!!

      1. cerie

        Ugh, I knowwwww you’re right, but it is so annoying!! I think it would bother me less if my current employer weren’t in a period of expecting rapid growth – the worst part of my job is honestly just like, faking enthusiasm for our future plans, haha. Thank you for the advice and commiseration!

    2. Job Offer Limbo

      Just commiserating…. I’m in the same situation, posted last week about it. It’s SO frustrating! After I posted here last week for advice, I emailed them Monday. They were stalling on a start date. They called and gave me a verbal start date, which I said yes to, since the schedule is flexible. They announced that I’d be starting to the other faculty, have started cc:ing me on things. I emailed them today, in response to one of the scheduling emails, and let them know that I won’t be able to give notice until I see a contract, which may limit my availability.
      I can’t wait for all the waiting to be OVER. I totally feel your pain!

      1. The Cosmic Avenger

        Not giving notice until you have a written/emailed offer isn’t a bad idea, although a lot of jobs in the US don’t offer contracts. I definitely would not give notice until at least a verbal offer has been made, and if they said “tomorrow” on Monday, I would have called Wed. or Thurs. to ask if it could have gotten lost, or if I should expect it later.

      2. cerie

        It’s SUCH a pain! I’m lucky in that my start date is both set and a ways away (it’s a school-calendar-pegged job), but I just am a fretful nervous person and won’t stop irrationally freaking out about ways I might have failed the background check (which I literally can’t come up with realistic ones!) until I see in writing that I didn’t.

  44. ohword

    So my cash deposit at work was off by $50 recently. I have no idea how it happened. I counted the money originally when I completed the transaction and again before I sent the money to the bank. I don’t recall anything unusual happening that day and it wasn’t even a lot of money compared to some deposits I get when it’s busier.

    Now we need to have the deposits come in wrapped, recount it with the person still there. If the amount of the transaction is over a certain amount a second person needs to verify. Then the next morning the money needs to be counted all again (no matter the amount). I totally understand the reasoning behind this obviously and I am totally grateful I didn’t get fired or accused of stealing, or forced to cover it myself. However, it’s creating a huge hassle for the other 2 people in my office and I feel so incredibly guilty. I would have just paid the $50 if I knew this whole thing was going to happen and we will literally be wasting more than $50 if 3 people need to count the money every day.

    Not sure what my question is… should I buy my coworkers a bottle of wine?

    1. Pineapple Incident

      You’re certain this is because of just you? Correct me if I’m wrong, but it sounds like you work for a retailer or other entity that has to have cash deposited every day from the safe to the bank. In my experience, it’s usually a problem that happens in a few different locations, so policy is changed everywhere to prevent it from recurring.

    2. Retail Lifer

      Policies always change and get more complicated because one thing happened at one place one time and now everyone has to pay for it. In the two years I’ve been at this job they’ve added countless forms and spreadsheets and reconcilation processes just to make sure any errors or sketchy activity is caught ASAP. As you already are, just continue to be glad that you didn’t get fired and yes, buy them some wine.

    3. Not So NewReader

      It sounds to me like there was a problem on the bank end and no one is saying that.

      Two stories of what can happen: One time entire deposit got caught in the chute for the night deposit. The employee was initially accused but someone reached up into the chute and found it. Another time a bank employee was stealing. It took about a couple months or so to figure that one out.

      From what you say here, it sounds to me like they think there is a thief at the bank. It does not sound like they think it was anything you did. You can buy them wine if you wish, but honestly, this happens all the time. One place I worked made dozens of changes as to how the deposit was handled in a period of three years. Some of the changes were totally necessary because they were using outdated methods. And some of the changes were just bizarre. I think your best bet is to just keep following the changes and doing the new procedures to the letter. Definitely realize that it’s not you. They found a weak spot in their system and they are dealing with it as best they can.

  45. avril

    In his last set of 1-on-1’s with us, the company owner asked us all to rate our job satisfaction on a scale of one to ten, and explicitly defined one to be actively looking for new work. Is it me or is this basically guaranteed never to result in honest feedback?

    1. Kara Zor-El

      Rating job satisfaction will never garner honest feedback unless it’s truly confidential! Does the company owner expect to find out who’s secretly looking for new work through this method?

      1. avril

        My thoughts exactly! At least two people (me included) are for sure leaving this summer and two more are trying to, but although we’re all planning to give at least a month’s notice we would never just like, say so in this context, because we don’t want to spend 3 months unemployed/getting the cold shoulder at work!

      2. Not So NewReader

        Maybe it is just me but there seems to be two types of people. There are the ones that will tell everyone in sight that they are so done with their job and they are looking for something/anything. There there are the stealthers that don’t even tell their own families because they are so tight-lipped.

        I think that people tend to continue with their chosen method when filling out a survey. Chatty Cathy’s will have no problem saying they are very unhappy and Stealthing Sams will give no clue that they are looking for work. People either say so or they don’t – changing the context from in person conversation to written survey has very little bearing.
        But that is just my two cents from what I have seen around me.

    1. Overthinking Anon

      Good luck, Today’s anon! A contact had the nicest thing to say to me before my interview: “They need you.” I of course had been in the mindset of a desperate supplicant but that really put me in a better mindset. They need someone good and they think it could be YOU.

      1. Pineapple Incident

        That is probably the best possible pep-talk- I’m stealing it. Good luck to you, Today’s anon!

    2. Today's anon

      Thank you! I had a great interview, whew. Fingers crossed now but at least I did my part.

  46. Ama

    Happy Friday everyone!

    I haven’t posted in a while and I’ve noticed that there’s another regular poster who uses the Ama name as well. I am not them.

    I’ve been on loan from my department to the one I would like to work in as a career for the past month. It has been AWESOME. The manager here is very conscientious, involved in the department’s work without micromanaging, apologizes if he messes up, communicates clearly and regularly… Basically working here is a dream. It’s really thrown a hard light on how poorly run my department is and how terrible the manager there is. Poor performance has no consequences, the manager doesn’t keep his word, good performance is not even acknowledged, and of course there’s all the employee resentment that breeds. I’ve brought up my concerns with the manager but I doubt they will go anywhere, based on his history of not keeping his word or following through on things he says he will.

    Unfortunately, this current job in the good department with the good manager is temporary and they are not hiring permanent employees at the moment. So once the work is finished, I’ll be sent back to my usual department, but with the added disappointment of knowing how much better it is elsewhere.

    Any suggestions for adjusting back to dysfunction? I’ll definitely be dusting off my résumé and looking for positions elsewhere, but the market is a bit thin in my area and it may take a while.

    1. Pineapple Incident

      I would just tell the manager you’ve enjoyed working with him and that you would definitely be interested in a permanent position with their group, if one were to become available. Keep in touch, since you’ve enjoyed it so much you’ve probably made some great contacts- if nothing else those people may be able to help you put out feelers for other things.

      As for the dysfunction, just keep in mind that you are a useful and good employee and that this is a problem with someone other than you. Like AAM and other readers always recommend, keep your head down and focus on the work- it helps at least a little!

  47. Everything's a disaster!

    How do I tell my close-knit group of coworkers that I’m getting a divorce? An awkward email? I don’t want to have this conversation over and over again repeatedly. I just want to get some work done – it’s the only thing that’s distracting me from my otherwise awful circumstances right now.

    1. CrazyCatLady

      Why do you have to tell them? It’s pretty personal, even if you are close-knit.

      1. EmilyG

        I got divorced and changed my name back, and the most excruciating thing was the numerous colleagues who forgot about my previous vacations with my husband, my previously-present-now-absent wedding and engagement rings, etc. and congratulated me on getting married. I tried to spread the word a little, but I guess it wasn’t enough. I wish I’d had a better, uh, “communications plan” to spare me the misunderstanding-based small talk.

        Are there any divorce(e)s among the close-knit colleagues? That person could be really helpful in spreading the word subtly and respecting how you feel about it.

        I think of divorce as starting with a Vale of Suck that you must pass through, but it gets so so so much better. Work is definitely something that can help. Good luck, an online anonymous person’s pulling for you!

      2. Natalie

        In a close-knit group of co-workers it’s probably going to come up at some point. Might as well get it out there on your own terms.

    2. dr.ruthless

      I’d tell your most loudmouthed colleague, and ask him/her to spread the word that you’re getting divorced, and so you’d appreciate [whatever you’d appreciate–time, space, a hug, etc.] but that you don’t really want to tell all the gory details right now (or ever).

        1. MaryMary

          Yes, a former coworker of mine used this strategy. She told one or two coworkers she was close to, and asked them to spread the word and to ask the people they told to spread the word. The message was basically, “Judy is getting divorced. She wants people to know so there are no awkward conversations about how her devoted husband is doing, but she does not want to talk about it.” It worked out very well.

      1. Anon for this

        +1000
        (I speak from experience.)

        Also, I’ve found it’s helpful to have a canned response ready that acknowledges concern (because with close-knit colleagues, you’ll get concern, and it’s really nice to know that they care about you and that warm fuzzy feeling can drag you out of the suckage) and pivots the topic, because some people will ask no matter what. I’ve used something like, “Yep. Ugh, it’s a thing, but [things are getting better|the new house is great| I’m really excited about project X]. Now tell me all about [Project Y|your mom’s dog|what your plans are this weekend]!”

    3. CheeryO

      I’d just tell one or two people (do you have someone in the group who’s a little gossip-y?) and let the grapevine do its work. I imagine you’ll be correcting people for awhile when they ask about your partner, but word should get around fairly quickly. I definitely wouldn’t worry about having the conversation with everyone personally. People will understand.

    4. Bend & Snap

      I told my management because I’m becoming a single parent and needed a little time off, and my friendly colleagues in passing when I was ready. Everyone else will either hear gossip or they don’t need to know. Honestly, if you’re not close enough to tell them in person when you’re chatting about personal stuff, they don’t need to know. It’s a really awkward bomb to drop.

    5. Partly Cloudy

      No awkward email–this is not work-related information.

      I agree with everyone who’s saying let the gossip network do the telling for you. That’s what I did when I broke up with my long-term boyfriend; I told a few work friends directly, and word got around. That’s how I always remember finding out about Big Personal News about my co-workers, too (good or bad).

      I wish you luck, and time really does heal.

    6. Blue_eyes

      Tell one person that you’re either particularly close to, or is particularly gossipy and ask them to quietly let others know. Say that you really don’t want to talk about it, but you wanted everyone to know. People will appreciate having a heads up so they don’t ask about your ex. They’ll also be more understanding if you aren’t totally yourself right now.

    7. Not So NewReader

      Maybe you can enlist one or two people to help you. Ask them to spread the word that you are getting divorced and you really just want to focus on work and not talk about it. If anyone wants to be supportive they can include you in work related discussions for special activities or difficult problems. Just say that type of help would be the most meaningful to you.

      I have done this with a few people where I dragged them into a side project or something to help fill up their day. I could see “thank you” in their eyes and they were actually a big help with the side project, too. It worked out well.

  48. Kara Zor-El

    I have the unique opportunity to interview people for the role of director of my work team. I will either be reporting directly to this person, or getting a new manager who will report to this person (this is will be up in the air until the new person is in place bc they’ll get to decide how they want to structure the team).

    What kind of questions can I ask the candidates to probe their management philosophy and make sure we hire a director who will have a reasonable approach to work-life balance, will be a strong strategist and leader without being a micro-manager, and will generally be a pleasant person who I enjoy working with and learning from?

    1. Emmie

      When I’ve done these interviews, I’ve focused on situations like tell me about a low performing employee and how you handled that; you have X years of experience in management, how has your mgmt style evolved over that time; what mgmt style works best for you in reaching performance metrics; how much involvement do you need in the day to day tasks of employees; when you’re unfamiliar with the work your employees do, how can I help you understand my duties and output / what info you need; how to you gather info from your employees. I generally avoid the micro manager phrase and use the questions above to measure their involvement. It’s hard to ask a potential manager about work life balance. If you’re asking because your company as a whole us out of wack, I’d frame it as a “have you ever had to push back on a company policy or corporate culture that negatively impacted your employees? What happened? ” if your curious about how this particular manager works, I’d ask what their expectations are for employees are when there may be big projects, or how they managed big projects with lots of manpower hours involved. I shy away from work life balance questions directly because I always get a canned positive answer. Plus, this interview will also be a reputation builder with your new manager. You want to be professional and seen as a good worker.

      1. Emmie

        It looks like AAM and I were posting at the same time. :) It makes me smile that there are a few overlaps in advice.

        1. Kara Zor-El

          Thanks, Emmie! Great advice, especially your point about it being a reputation-builder with my potential new boss.

    2. Fuzzy

      I just messaged AAM about this yesterday! I’m in a very similar situation. When are your interviews? Mine won’t be for a few weeks so I’d like to hear how yours went! :)

      1. Kara Zor-El

        The first interview is actually this Tuesday — I’ll be sure to report back!

  49. Young Worker

    My performance review is coming up. I work in an entry level role which traditionally has 3 people in it. I replaced one person and another person left, so there are just two of us now. We are sometimes supported by a third person, but lately she has been actively involved on another project so it’s just the two of us.

    I want to draw attention to my hard work in my review, but will it be crass to talk about how since I was hired, there has not been a need for a third person in my role? The reason is my coworkers are extreme slackers and the three of them would spend all their time chatting, socializing, surfing the internet. I’m the one who actively finishes work and takes on tasks outside of the work given to us. I want to stand apart from my coworkers and be recognized for my work ethic, but will it be seen as arrogant if I point this out?

    1. Graciosa

      Not arrogant exactly, but you still need to be careful not to appear to criticize either the performance of your co-workers or the way the team is managed.

      What you need to do if you want to be recognized for your performance is to highlight your accomplishments – but that means talking about the actual work you perform, not about the work other people have not performed (now or in the past when there were three people on the team).

      Business impact is important, but I would measure it using something other than staffing. For example, you completed a report two weeks early that allowed it to be submitted to Prestigious Industry Journal before Big Industry Conference, resulting in favorable trade press. You improved cycle time in Teapot Handle Attachment by 15%. Your new proposed spout design reduced manufacturing costs to save the company $2M per year.

      You should approach this as if you’re too busy doing great work to worry about anyone else’s performance.

      1. Pineapple Incident

        Exactly this. Let whether your coworkers have not been doing work be the thing that sinks them in their own reviews- they won’t have nearly as much to talk about if they aren’t being busy.

    2. Not So NewReader

      Am smiling, been there.

      Noo, do not talk about the slackers. Do not point out that two people are doing the work of supposedly three people.

      Just talk about your own work. “I saw that by doing y before x saved several hours of labor and netted the same desired results. So I switched the order I do these things. This gave me some additional time to do A and B. From there I moved on to tweaking A in Z manner and now A is less time consuming, and happily, more accurate because of [list reasons here].”

      Just talk about your overview of your job and your work on the job. That will speak volumes by the uniqueness of what you think of to say. It will also demonstrate how broadly you think.
      Where I work it is just me and my boss. She had three previous employees. None of these employees talked about the wide variety of things that I have spoken about with her. I talk about safety issues, work flow issues, computer problems, and resources. I pull together supply orders and I manage to find freebies for our office areas. Let your actions show the boss the range of what can be done. Talk about what you have done so far and let the boss know what ideas you have that you are still incubating and ask her for her thoughts on those ideas.

      In doing this, you will absolutely drive your point home that the previous person was a slacker. You will have a slam dunk here and all without mentioning what other people did during their work hours.

  50. UK Alice

    Some advice about a very bad judgement call on my part?
    My workplace has a managment structure where you are on lots of different teams, but have one ‘personal manager’ who oversees your general HR/development/problems, etc.

    I had a serious communication/personality clash with my personal manager at work (Joachim) when I was having problems with anxiety and depression, and I was too anxious to address the matter head on with him.

    I wanted to transfer to another manager (Wakeem) who said that he’s happy to have me once I’d talked to my current manager. I put it off for a ridiculously long time, over two months, and finally scrapped my courage up to talk to Joachim. After a really long talk, we actually talked out the problems and I’m more at ease working with Joachim and stick with him.

    I now have to talk to Wakeem and I have no idea how to deal with the convo ‘Sorry but I’ve hashed out the differences, I hate to let you down, etc’? I know I’ve handled this very unprofessionally and I’m dreading this and keep worrying that Wakeem is going to be incredibly angry (although he’s always been a professional, polite and helpful person, I can’t help thinking about how frustrating this must be for him). I didn’t sleep much last night and I keep feeling sick with dread. I don’t know how to clearly explain this, and deal with any fall out.

    1. Delyssia

      It’s not going to be less awkward in a week or two weeks or two months, so I’d suggest getting it over with before you lose any more sleep over it. At this point, it’s entirely possible that Wakeem has either forgotten about it or has just decided that it must be off the table for whatever reason. (I still think you need to let him know officially, for your own sake, if nothing else.)

      If it’s easier for you to do this by email, think about doing that (though also think about whether or not you want this in writing). I would suggest saying something along the lines of, “Wakeem, we had discussed the possibility of me transferring to your team a while back, and I’m sorry I didn’t close the loop with you sooner. I’ve ultimately decided it’s best for me to continue to report to Joachim. Thank you so much for your support in our previous discussion.”

      If Wakeem presses for an explanation, how much you explain depends on what you told him in the first place. If you told him how much you hated working for Joachim, then I think you need to say something about having worked through your differences. Otherwise, if you were vague in your initial conversation, I think you can keep it vague now.

      Good luck!

    2. The Cosmic Avenger

      Don’t feel bad! The delay was not helping anyone, but believe me, I think everyone knows that sometimes it’s easier to just put off difficult issues. You did address it eventually, and you fixed the root problem instead of working around it. If anything, Wakeem should be proud of you for figuring out how to handle the issue instead of giving up! Just tell him that you realized that it would help your professional skills to learn to work out the issues you had with Joachim, and although you were glad to have Wakeem available in case you were not able to solve the conflicts you had, you were able to work them out and salvage your professional relationship with Joachim.

      Or something like that. I’m using my own terms and filling in blanks, but basically this is an accomplishment, not a failing. You may feel embarrassed that you were ready to give up, but they both knew that you were at that point, so they should be happy that you were able to set things right.

      1. fposte

        I love the point that this is an accomplishment, not a failing.

        I don’t think this is that big a deal, and I think you want to talk to Wakeem soon so waiting doesn’t make it seem bigger. This doesn’t need to be a big emotive conversation, just “I appreciate your willingness to make a team-switch happen, but I’ve managed to work things out where I am. Thanks so much for being helpful; it meant a lot to me.”

    3. Not So NewReader

      I totally agree with what people have said here. Please keep in mind that the other boss may have understood that if you just spoke with your boss the situation would get fixed. It could be that your boss was telling this guy, “I wish Alice would just talk to me, I want her to know we are okay here.”

      I have used this technique myself, so I can promise you that these types of conversations do happen. We don’t know if it happened in your case here, but it’s possible that it did. Thank him for his kindness and enjoy getting your current job back on track.

  51. ohgoodness~

    How often should employee reviews be done? We went from getting them maybe once a year to get them every three months, and I feel like it’s a bit overkill. Like I’m not getting that much progress done in three months, especially on my long term goals that are waiting on other departments.

    1. Katie the Fed

      Formal ones? That’s way too often. But informal checking in I think every few months is fine.

      1. ohgoodness~

        They’re formal ones. They’re not exactly done well, but they’re ‘formal’ reviews.

  52. Belvis Tarl

    Good morning, wonderful readers!

    I am currently on the hunt for a new job, and have made impressive strides at my current company since my hire date. However, I am not getting any bait on my job leads, and I think the wording of some of my accomplishments may have something to do with it. I was switched from my current role as an Admin Asst. to a Program Coordinator. Right now, I have that worded on my resume as “Was offered higher responsibility as the company’s [insert program] coordinator”. I feel like this sounds weird. Am I right? I’m not sure how else to put it; I describe my accomplishments/duties in the new role later in my resume.

    I guess the real reason I find it so weird is that my job duties don’t match my title. My employer switched me to this role and hid it from the corporate office, so neither my title nor pay has changed – while I do have references that can vouch for my experience in this area, I am unsure how to put it on a resume. Any suggestions? I feel like this is contributing to my not being able to find another job despite my accomplishments.

    1. HigherEd Admin

      Was offered higher responsibility as the company’s [insert program] coordinator

      This is phrased too passively, like it was just something that happened to you rather than being earned by you. I would say it like, “Promoted to Program Coordinator due to accomplishments XYZ.”

      I’m confused by your statement that neither title nor pay has changed. If someone were to call to verify your employment, would HR refer to you as an Administrative Assistant and have no knowledge of your status as a Program Coordinator?

      1. nonegiven

        If s/he was not promoted and given the title, it shouldn’t be in the resume. Maybe list specific additional responsibilities s/he’s taken on, that would be in the job description of someone with that title.

    2. Pineapple Incident

      I think now would be a good time to have a conversation with your boss about officially changing your title. It’s nice that you feel you’ve made great strides at this company, but if it can’t be verified from the outside that you’re employed as X, it may appear as though you’re fudging your experience. This conversation doesn’t have to reference anything related to job searching if you frame it appropriately, but can just be about being above board with the corporate arm of your organization.

  53. afiendishthingy

    I think we’ve had this discussion before here but – In what ways are you That Weird Coworker? I keep a carton of lactaid whole milk in the office fridge and generally drink at least a glass a day. (My meds mess with my appetite and it’s often easier for me to drink calories than eat them.) It’s a minor office joke at this point. What about you?

    1. CrazyCatLady

      Apparently, it’s weird that I like to keep my fluorescent lights off and open the blinds to my window instead.

      1. Nethwen

        I do that, too. Sometimes the cleaners get in before me and turn on my lights, which if fine if it makes their job easier, but when they leave, I turn them off. I also open my windows, but try to be considerate of people whose allergies are triggered by the smell of freshly mown grass, no matter how much I love it.

        1. CrazyCatLady

          I open my windows, too! And I’m someone whose allergies are triggered by everything, but it just makes it so much more… peaceful to have the fresh air and natural light.

      2. catsAreCool

        Fluorescent lights sometimes give me headaches. That’s not weird to me to have them turned off.

    2. Stephanie

      I used to chop up fresh ginger, steep it in hot water from the knockoff Keurig and mix it with lemon and honey. I used to get really bad post-nasal drip (apartment with giant radiators) and that helped soothe my sinuses. But I know I looked really weird chopping up ginger in the break room.

      Speaking of beverages, I also had a French press at my desk because I hated the coffee from the knockoff Keurig.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger

        Ha! I have a table full of coffee equipment and even some flavored syrups with pumps, just because I was able to accumulate much of it on the cheap, and for a while my company had HORRIBLE coffee.

        But I think the weirdest thing is that I have a mini fridge in my office. Its contents: Cherry Coke Zero, soy sauce (in a condiment bottle), and various hot sauces.

        1. nonegiven

          DH put a mini fridge and a microwave in his office the first week he was there. He recently added a coffee maker because too much time was being taken up when he went to the front office for coffee by people who wanted to ask a question that wasn’t important until they saw him.

      2. So Very Anonymous

        French-press-at-desk buddies! We don’t have any kind of coffee setup and it was getting too expensive to buy coffee at the coffee shop in my building. There’s no sink in our work area, so the whole process of getting rid of the coffee grounds, heating water, etc., is kind of a ritual for me by now (like a smoke break). People joke about it, but, hey, it’s cheaper, and tastes better.

            1. Stephanie

              Ugh. The coffee tasted like nothing and the tea tasted like everything. (The tea was too strong.)

              1. Audiophile

                Yeah. I don’t love Flavia. I will drink it as a last resort. They have a Dove hot chocolate that works in that machine, I like that. That’s about it.

                I much prefer Keurig. My mom made me banish the home Keurig machine to the porch. ;-(

    3. Anon because of work details

      I am professional staff in a police department. I am apparently both the nicest person in my whole unit and the most terrifying person in the department. I have had multiple members of the SWAT team tell me that I am the only person in the entire department that they are afraid of. I have had _commanders_ tell me that there are other commanders who are afraid of me. I do a lot of complex analytic projects, and this makes people think I am some sort of IT wizard who could ruin their lives. It is really weird.
      My chain of command has no fear of me at all though since they know me better :)

      1. the_scientist

        LOL! I am not proud of this but I used to teach swimming lessons and first aid and once made a first aid student cry (in my defense they were about the same age as me, so it’s not like I was making a child cry) because I was “so intimidating”…..

        I am like, barely 5 feet tall, very soft-spoken, and quite shy. I do have a reputation for not suffering fools kindly, but I’d hardly call myself a dragon lady.

      2. anonintheuk

        I am apparently the most terrifying person in the building, apart from to my immediate staff.
        My team have a great time when work from other departments is delayed. ‘I will tell Anonintheuk and she will not be happy’.

    4. Partly Cloudy

      I’m always cold. Everyone else will talk about how hot they are, and I’m sitting here in a sweater, shivering. (As an aside, I started my current job in December and the thermostat is often the same or within a degree or two of where it was at my old job, but I wasn’t constantly freezing there. I’m starting to wonder if it’s in my head.)

      Apparently I also have good posture, because I get comments about how straight my back is when I sit.

      1. Catherine in Canada

        I have rocks on my desk. (I like rocks, they remind of the great places I’ve been). Everyone else thinks it’s weird.

        1. Stephanie

          Oh, I had a bunch of postcards on my cubicle walls (in an office where people didn’t really decorate their cubes). I liked to look at them and daydream about being on a beach or up in a mountain.

      2. CheeryO

        Yup, this is me too. Today I’m wearing a cardigan AND a thick fleece jacket, and I’m still not warm, really. Everyone else is walking around in short sleeves.

        1. land of oaks

          I’m the one who wears fingerless gloves at my desk pretty much year round. My hands are ALWAYS cold.

      3. Nicole

        I’m always cold too and my current job doesn’t allow space heaters like my former employer did. So I bought Cozy Toes products (Google it) and they have saved me from feeling miserably cold all day long.

    5. ThursdaysGeek

      I’ve been making a chain out of foil chocolate wrappers for several years. I twist each foil wrapper into a stick, then twist it into a link on my chain. Co-workers, family, and friends bring me candy wrappers, and my chain is over 70 feet long. It’s often one of my office decorations.

    6. Carrie in Scotland

      ONE: my officemate and manager seem to think I drink alot of alcohol, I mean I often say after a stressful day that I’d like a drink but I rarely (unless I am on a night out) actually drink.

      TWO: I’m now the proud owner of a multicoloured wand and pink feather boa and tiara in my office due to an in-joke with above people. I quite like the wand but really, I am not a girly girl and it’s all a bit…stupid.

      1. Sara

        I used to do #1, until I really stopped to consider how it might come off as weird or concerning to some people. My new stressful-day phrase is “I need to go home and sit on my couch.” (True, sometimes that involves a beer, but now nobody has to know that.)

    7. BenAdminGeek

      I arrange all my Skittles by color and eat them two-by-two. One for each side of the mouth!

      1. Shiarah

        I used to work with my cousin, and we sat back-to-back on one side of a cubicle quad. One afternoon we all had Skittles. Someone walked over to talk to us, looked at our desks, and busted out laughing: we had both dumped out our Skittles and arranged them by color, hers in rows and mine in circles, each without realizing the other was doing the same thing. There were frequent jokes on that team about how clearly related she and I were. :)

          1. Anonyby

            I do that with M&Ms too! Only I’ll arrange them in pairs by color, and then eat them down until there’s the same number of each color, and then eat them in rainbow order…

    8. Anonsie

      I ask people really off the wall questions a lot. This isn’t weird where I’m from, since it’s considered pretty normal to ask non-work-related questions of people you’re friendly with at work if you think they might have a good answer. Like, if you got a new kitten and you know a coworker has a few cats and you want to know what brand food they feed them or something, that wouldn’t be weird.

      But where I live now talking to other people is viewed as kind of a last resort so people think it’s really odd if I walk over at lunch and start asking them how bad rush hour traffic is in their part of town or whatever. They always ask me if I’ve looked it up online first, but it’s usually questions where finding out the answer yourself is laborious but a person who has experience with the thing would know right away, or the opinion of a person with experience with the thing is more valuable.

      1. afiendishthingy

        Oh no, that’s so sad! I’ve never worked in a place where it would be weird to ask a cat person for non-dusty kitty litter recommendations or to ask if anybody has a dentist they really like. That sounds so lonely!

        1. Anonsie

          I do find it more than a little sad sometimes, and I can be quite the misanthrope so that’s quite a statement.

          1. afiendishthingy

            It’s just so weird to respond to a question they clearly have firsthand knowledge of (and isn’t something like “How late is the CVS on Main Street open?” that would be super easy to find out online) with “Did you google it.” That is not a a let-me-google-that-for-you answer. And they’re already talking to you to say that so why not answer?? Are you sure it’s your geographic area and not just your workplace? Because I moved from the Midwest US to the northeast 5 years ago and while I did initially find customer service here to be weirdly standoffish (now I don’t even notice it), I’ve worked in a few jobs up here and none anything like yours. If anything my current workplace errs on the side of being too chatty (which can be really fun but hard to focus sometimes).

            1. Anonsie

              Are you sure it’s your geographic area and not just your workplace?

              A little from column A, a little from column B. This area is known for people really really really not wanting to interact with other people (versus the northeast’s reputation for people always being hostile) and my office tends to uphold that stereotype particularly well compared to some other places I’ve worked, but not by a huge margin.

              1. Not So NewReader

                Ha! About a year ago, I had a southerner tell me, “What they say about you northerners is simply NOT true. Some of you are actually very nice!” I laughed right out loud.

    9. Cath in Canada

      Most people on my team do a mix of project management and grant writing/editing. I’m pretty much the only one who likes the grant writing best. It’s my favourite part of the job, and I’m never happier than when I have that focused in-the-zone feeling a couple of days before a deadline, when everything starts coming together. Everyone else who’s submitting something to the same deadline will be stressing out, and there I am with a big mug of tea and my music, bopping my head and smiling as I work.

    10. Elizabeth West

      Everywhere I work, I like stuff no one else likes.

      –I’m usually the only nerd. If there are nerds, I’m not with them; I end up sitting in the middle of the sports lovers.
      –I eat weird food (like Marmite).
      –I do stair climbs for exercise at work (some people have started copying me, which I don’t mind as long as they aren’t doing it when I’m doing it).
      –The whole writing thing.
      –The ice skating thing. Every time I say I skate, someone asks, “Oh, roller derby?” (Seriously? Do I look like I’d throw you an elbow? :P) When I say it’s figure skating, they ask, “Oh, are you going to the Olympics?” >_<
      –I watch TV shows no one here has ever heard of.

      I have nothing to talk about with my coworkers because no one likes the same stuff as me.

      1. Rock

        For me, every time I mention I occasionally do recreational Roller Derby they say “… really????”
        Apparently I don’t look like I’ll throw an elbow either. :P

    11. Mockingjay

      I have a lamp on the small credenza located outside my cubicle. If I am in, the lamp is ON. If not, the lamp is OFF.

      I will turn off the lamp if I don’t want to be bothered. People assume I have left for the day.

    12. AnotherAlison

      Oh, I’m so the weird coworker, but I’m just a weird person so it’s not surprising.

      1. I’m one of the 10% female engineers/project managers, so I’m already weird by default.
      2. I have kids that are ~5-10 years older than most of my same-age coworkers’ kids, so I don’t relate by life stages to my peers.
      3. I live in the country, so my “what did you do last weekend” stories are weird. It’s not like I keep animals or raise crops, but I have a hot tub in my barn.
      3. I eat tuna, hard boiled eggs, and salad for breakfast or lunch almost every single day, so when the few coworkers who tolerate me ask if I want to go to lunch, it’s prefaced by “unless you want to eat tuna.”

    13. AvonLady Barksdale

      I’m a choral singer. At my old job, people thought it was really strange and they never took it seriously. I sang in some of the world’s greatest venues! But they thought it was like church choir and I was silly.

      At my current job, a whole paragraph in my press release was devoted to my choral career. They are in awe of it, in a good way.

    14. Lalaith

      My office has a weekly happy hour type thing, but usually all they have is wine, and sometimes beer. I don’t like either :-P So I feel like I’m in some weird limbo where I’m not a non-drinker, but I’m just not going to drink what they have. I think I just feel odd about that in general.

      Also, I feel like I’m the only one here who drinks soda. And I rarely drink coffee, while others are fiends for it. And I only like one kind of tea. So I guess I have a bit of a beverage complex :-P

      1. afiendishthingy

        See but soda is still a normal adult drink. Who the heck drinks glasses of milk at work? I am pretty sure it is just me :)

    15. ILiveToServe

      I think it is weird that anyone even comments on your milk consumption. I also take heart as I have the same milk in our fridge for the same reasons- no one has even looked at me sideways.

    16. Sara

      I eat a lot of things with my hands that might not necessarily be thought of as finger foods. Think cut-up fruit like pineapple or melon, and when I occasionally get a salad for lunch I’ll usually eat it (sans dressing) by picking things out of it and eating them. I also dive enthusiastically into things like bone-in chicken that are much messier to eat with one’s hands because (I believe) it’s more efficient than using a fork.

      And of course, there are my numerous Peace Corps stories that I think are perfectly normal, but I can acknowledge that my concept of “normal” probably differs from everyone else’s…

      1. Sara

        Perhaps to flip the tables a little, I think it’s extremely weird that so many of my coworkers will only drink bottled water at work (IDK about outside of work) because of concerns about the taste or quality of our water. (The latter concern is 100% unfounded; our city’s drinking water is in no way unsafe.) I keep these thoughts to myself though.

  54. Dr. Doll

    My SO’s boss has an incredibly annoying nervous personal habit that ze (he/she) does in any interaction with other people, sometimes worse than others. Ze does it because ze’s a high-strung, nervous person who I think is a little insecure. I won’t describe it because it’s pretty distinctive and anyone from our institution reading would say “Oh my gosh, that’s Pat!” Think hair-chewing, nail-picking, gum-smacking, snorking, spit-bubble blowing, incessant fidgeting, that kind of thing.

    In a recent one on one meeting, ze did it *the entire time* and my SO was very distracted and made tense in turn by it. It’s really pretty bad. Any advice for my SO?

    1. fposte

      Yes, and you know what it is :-)–learn to tune it out. Run a recording of it at home so it becomes a constant like train noise, give yourself a teensy reward every time she does it, or just use your Zen to focus on what’s necessary and not what isn’t.

    2. Not So NewReader

      Conversely, your SO can use it as a gauge for how the current conversation is going. Nervous habit increases, conversation is not going well. Nervous habit decreases then the current conversation is going better.
      When the habit increases your SO could do spot checks by saying, “are we good with this plan or do you have a concern?’ I would not do this all the time. And definitely I would only use it strategically, for example if we were working on a plan and I needed a finalized answer for what to do next.

      Encourage your SO, that we all have different ways of showing worry/concern. I have had bosses that fall silent when things got really bad. I have had bosses that throw things. Personally, I start to get a stomach ache. My current bosses are talkers. Which is great, we get the problem out in the open, throw around options, pick something and use it. But my bosses will talk until something is chosen and we move forward with that idea. So it’s a lot of talking.

      I feel that it is really important to look for ways to reassure a boss. This reassurance can be done in many ways. Sometimes days or weeks later, I will say “Gee, I am so glad you chose A not B. A has worked out so well, and here is why [insert reasons].” I only do this when I sincerely mean it, though.

  55. Review Question

    I recently went to an event targeted at women where one of the points that was made was that women tend to assume that their work will be recognised whereas men are more willing to advertise what they’ve worked on. With this in mind I wondered if review processes which require the employee to complete their own review before it goes to their managers are disadvantaging women. Does anyone have any experience of this? i.e. does one gender progress faster with certain types of review process?

    1. Katie the Fed

      My female employees definitely often undersell themselves in their self reviews. I’ll kick them back and tell them to rework them, with specific instructions on things to strengthen.

      1. Review Question

        But that relies on you recognising what they’ve done, if you don’t recognise what they’ve done they’re not pushing themselves and are at risk of missing out.

          1. MaryMary

            Katie, you rock. :-)

            At least for me, one manager telling me that the self-review was not a time to be modest, but a time to sell myself and my accomplishments was enough of a kick in the pants to permanently change how I approach my review.

    2. nona

      I don’t have experience with this, but it’s an interesting idea. Any advice for people who are new to promoting their work?

    3. Joey

      I haven’t had that experience at all. To me the introverts are the ones who have those tendencies

    4. AnonToday

      This is purely based on my own experience and anecdotes from women, but in general, yes, having to write a self-review is often harder for women. I’ve always had a boss review my self-review before it goes into the system, and each year I’m told to take more credit for the work I’ve done. I’ve also noticed that many men tend to take sole credit for things that were a team effort, while women emphasize that they worked on a team that developed a solution/deliverable. I’ve been working on breaking myself of that as well.

    5. MaryMary

      If you have a good review process, the self-review is only one piece. It should be apparent if an employee is underselling themselves or being overly modest, as well as if an employee thinks they’re a rock star when they’re not. A good manager would work with both employees to reconcile how they perceive their works and how others perceive their work.

  56. Stephanie

    Interview Monday wasn’t too bad. There was a technical question I wished I answered “I don’t know” (tactfully, that is) instead of stumbling through it. But everyone was really friendly and the rest of the questions weren’t too bad. Role would involve process improvement, so I was able to use some examples from Brown Shipper that they seemed sort of impressed with (heh, so maybe the job isn’t as completely dead end for underemployment as I originally guessed).

    Ok, so for the probably irrational part of my post. I live in a very hot climate and it was sort of that day, in the the mid 90s. My suit is cheap. It does not breathe. The sweat probably evaporated outside, but once I got inside, I could not stop sweating (even after I dabbed myself in the ladies’ room). I spent the first 10 minutes of the interview sweating (I could feel a bead or two dripping down my face). I’m sure I looked more nervous than I actually was (I wasn’t that nervous, even). I just felt kind of embarrassed.

    I had that happen another time (in the same suit). Wasn’t hot, just super humid (and I walked to the interview). I had to ask to excuse myself (it was way worse).

    1. College Career Counselor

      I feel your pain. I went on an interview a few years ago when it was 102 F outside. The hiring manager insisted on giving me a campus tour right before my presentation to 40 people. I have no idea how the guy didn’t sweat, but I sure did. For the next hour.

    2. fposte

      Ugh. But you most certainly wouldn’t be the only one, so I’m sure you didn’t stand out for being “dewy.”

    3. Malissa

      Antiperspirant at the hairline and on the forehead really helps with the sweating. I’ve found in the hot temperatures that antiperspirant can go just about everywhere if needed.

    4. Audiophile

      I’ve been there. I’ve interviewed on hot days on more than one occasion. It’s not fun. Have you tried looking for a better suit? Macys often has sales on suits.

      1. Stephanie

        I’ll give it another shot. I don’t think suits sell super well out here (the clerks told me like only a couple of Macy’s or Dillard’s in an area will sell suits). so it was tough finding a decently-priced one.

        1. Audiophile

          Try online. I have 3, nearly identical, Anne Klein suits. All gray, but slightly different shades of gray. They hold up well, look very professional, and I think they breathe well. It can get very hot and humid here in NY. Especially over the last few years. I tend to sweat badly on those days. I try to keep deodorant and wipes around to freshen up.

    5. Mz. Puppie

      I have your solution. I am also a humidity-sweater. So my interviews in Houston were super fun. :-/ Google Dermadoctor MED e TATE antiperspirant wipes. Before an interview I swipe this all over my face, throat, back of my neck, behind my ears. You can put makeup on right away afterwards, no problem.

      Last interview I had, I walked in the room & felt my scalp break out in a sweat, but all visible areas I had treated stayed completely dry. It was awesome.

  57. LizB

    What’s the etiquette for applying for multiple positions at an organization? I found out that an organization I’d love to work for is hiring, and they currently have three openings for almost identical jobs (same title, very similar responsibilities, different locations). The instructions say to apply by sending resume + cover letter to a central HR email address. I’d like to be considered for all three jobs, but I’m not sure how to do that. Should I just send in one resume and cover letter, and mention in my cover letter that I’d love to be considered for all the currently open Teapot Specialist positions?

    1. CrazyCatLady

      Interested in the answers to this, because I just applied for two positions with the same company and wasn’t sure how to handle it.

    2. Joey

      Apply and in your email or cover letter tell them you’re open to all three of their locations.

    3. Development professional

      I would read the application requirements really really carefully. In general, sending one application with a cover letter that specifies you would have an interest in all three locations would work. BUT if they have an automated application system, or are using filters for applications, you might need to submit three times. What I mean is, if the application requirements ask you to put a position number or specific words in the subject line of your email (and those numbers/words differ among the three locations) you should definitely submit three separate times, and note in each cover letter your other applications for the other locations. It’s possible that the applications for the three positions are going to be routed to three different hiring managers.

      1. Sara

        +1. I am doing this all the time in my current job search, and it’s so annoying – I wish I could just point out “You have four jobs that are 99.9% identical open. I would love to speak to you regarding any or all of them.” But, no. Have to submit what is effectively the same cover letter every time.

      2. LizB

        Ooh, good point. I don’t think there’s an online application of any kind, but I’ll look over the descriptions again and be careful what I put in the subject line of my email. Thanks for the tip! I’ve been kind of spoiled so far in this job search — I applied to a single position at another place, and when they called me to set up a phone interview they asked me to also be a candidate for two other positions that are different, but equally interesting to me. I didn’t have to fill out another application, send in another resume, or anything! If only it were always that easy, right?

  58. Sutter

    How do I raise the question with my boss of whether my grant-funded position will continue to be funded? In my role, I overhear (and receive gossip about) a lot of things I’m probably not supposed to know, for example the fact that one of my coworkers is being laid off, another is likely to be, and funding for our division is running down overall. What I haven’t heard is anything substantial regarding my own position, outside of things like “Good luck”. I’d prefer to explore other openings in our organization if worse came to worst, but I don’t want to do that behind my boss’ back. How can I ask him whether I should be looking if I’m not supposed to know that these things are in motion?

    Even if I do end up sticking around, the people that are leaving have workloads that are way over my head, and would probably fall onto me. Wish me luck…

    1. fposte

      Maybe your org is more NSA about these things than I’m accustomed to, but I think it’s fine to ask a straightforward question. “Hey, I know that grant-funded positions aren’t guaranteed, especially not these days–do we know when we’ll hear if we’ve got funding for me for next year?”

    2. Anonsie

      You are supposed to know if your grant-funded position’s grant is about to be up or might not be renewed. That said, some people like to keep tight-lipped about this so their grant funded employees don’t leave if the future looks grim, but that’s a terrible policy.

  59. DC Bound

    Sick leave question: Is it OK to use sick leave to go and help my sister when she is having a baby (I have some 18 days of sick leave, plan to use 8-10 for this) Her husband is not going to make it for the birth, and all other family is abroad. She’s my twin.

    1. Katie the Fed

      That’s really your boss’s call. You can always ask. My boss let me take sick leave once because my dog was sick because she’s family :)

    2. LCL

      Depends on your company’s policy. It is OK where I work. Just give your manager a heads up. And don’t talk up too much the “Now I am an auntie” part of it. Talk about taking care of your sis after she gives birth. And don’t go in to the other family stuff, it isn’t necessary for anyone else to know that.

    3. Development professional

      Seems like this would be covered under FMLA, right? Immediate family member with a medical need? I’m no expert, but it seems so.

      1. fposte

        I don’t think siblings are eligible unless they’ve stood in loco parentis to you.

    4. littlemoose

      Maybe check your employee handbook and see what the guidelines are. My organization does generally permit the use of sick leave to care for ailing relatives, so it’s certainly not unheard of. If not, be mindful that some organizations will require a physician’s note for prolonged absences (like a week or more), so that may preclude the use of sick time in this way.

    5. Xarcady

      I had a boss let me use FMLA for something similar–my brother was hospitalized for two months and my SIL was coping with a 2 week old baby, a 3 year old and a 6 year old who is medically fragile–ventilator, home nurses, all sorts of issues.

      Our company policy did not allow me to take time off to care for the children, which was what was needed, but did allow me to take time off to care for a sibling. My boss decided that caring for my sibling included making sure his children were looked after and safe–after all, that would ease his mind and promote his recovery. But that was a very good boss indeed.

  60. Owl

    Hello!

    I asked a couple weeks ago about caring for my boss’ dog. Thankfully, that has been resolved by my boss’ family member needing to stay home so I don’t have to take care of the pup! Woo! It had all sorts of potential for disaster that I just didn’t want to deal with. I was planning on telling her “no” anyways, but this resolved the issue well.

    Speaking of my boss, we’re having a calendar issue. Three months ago, I checked in with her (in person and in writing) for approval for a group to come in to our facility for me to present to (I do outreach). In person and in writing she said that this was fine, was excited about it, etc. It never made our paper calendar, and my boss completely forgot about it. Now she’s out of town and I miraculously have to reserve a space for the group in two weeks. I’ve spoken briefly with my second supervisor (one step down from my boss), who is in charge at the moment, about it, but I’m at a loss about what to do because I don’t know how to schedule spaces for things like this and I haven’t heard from the group about their numbers, so I don’t know what space to reserve. I’m actually out of the office the next two days (sick/family event), so I’ll be calling the person on Monday to get numbers, but EEEP. I’ve already apologized for not keeping track of this better, but I am still tied up in knots over this. At least the presentation is prepared. But ARGH. So that’s my rant. I love this new job (much, much better work environment), but the politics and scheduling stuff alone is driving me to eat way too much candy.

  61. Xanthippe Lannister Voorhees

    I touched on this briefly in the post about the creepy custodian, but gah do I just hate the one I have to deal with. He’s also constantly interrogating me about stuff that’s not my jurisdiction (“who put one banana peel in the trashcan, now I have to change the whole liner!!” We’re a small office but since I literally don’t follow my coworkers around while they’re eating and am not glued to my desk, sometimes I don’t know. I don’t need to banter about banana peels. The lights were turned on by whoever came into the office first, I don’t know why certain tracks that aren’t normally on are on. I don’t know where the coffee cup in the stairwell came from, I don’t want to be interrogated about why I’m taking time off just because I marked it on the calendar we used, and I certainly don’t need my white-board handwriting commented on!).

    But the other custodian, that we don’t with directly (she works downstairs primarily) seems to really dislike me even though I never see her and have only talked to her a handful of brief times. She’s come up to the office that past couple of days and whenever she walks in I say “hi!” and sometimes “anything we can help you with?” and she just stares at me and then walks into a coworkers office. Yesterday she was asking about the whereabouts of a priest who is sometimes here doing work. My coworker didn’t know if he would be in or if she had missed him coming in so she called over to me. I said that he would be late because he had church business and we weren’t sure what time he’d be in, but he’d be in if she wanted to leave a message for us to pass on, or stop back in before she left for the day. She just stared at me with her mouth hanging open, then turned back and continued talking to my coworker who just repeated what I had said. I don’t know what happened to get such frosty behavior!

    1. Not So NewReader

      Do you have a coworker you can talk with? It could be that they treat everyone that way. A cool coworker will incorporate you into a conversation with the person who ignores you. This kind of forces the person to speak with you. I have had people do that for me and it ended the problem.

  62. Aloe Vera

    I have a question about reporting harassment leading to a hostile work environment.

    One of my work friends shared with me that her boss (a new executive) consistently says things to her like “That’s why I hate working with women. They’re too emotional, take things too seriously…” etc. She has shared that he has said similar things to her before. They are in a very male-centric department at my company (IT).

    She is afraid to share this info with HR because of how it may affect her career, both in the short term and long term. This exec is also in charge of leading a transformation process at our company, which will likely lead to reorganization and potential layoffs.

    I am a manger at the company, and our harassment training has made it clear that I am expected to report this type of thing if I hear of it. I think her fears are well founded given what I know of my company, which is why I am reluctant to do anything.

    What do I do?

    1. Katie the Fed

      You report it. You’re required to report it, and you need to do so. Your company has made its expectations clear that if managers know of harassment or hostile environments, that you need to report it, and that’s what you do. Not doing so puts the company at greater risk of losing a lawsuit, etc.

      So, tell her that you’re obligated to report it, and do it. She might not be happy with you, but when you’re in a managerial role you can no longer promise employees that you’ll keep things in confidence.

    2. fposte

      And it occurs to me that if you get any pushback you can state that you’re following and respecting the company policies, and you’re assuming that they were put in place because the company meant them. The objectors’ issue is with the company, not you.

    3. afiendishthingy

      I suspect if your friend’s boss is saying this stuff to her he’s probably saying it to other people, so he may not know who told. But either way, yeah, you need to report it. Tell your friend you will try to keep her name out of it but can’t promise it will be anonymous.

    4. Aloe Vera

      That’s what I figured – just needed the confidence boost/external confirmation it was the right thing. Thanks!

      1. Katie the Fed

        You’re doing the right thing, even if it’s going to be super uncomfortable. In my experience, by the time someone steps up to make a formal complaint, there are usually MANY people who knew about it and experienced it but didn’t want to rock the boat and complain. But by getting a formal complaint on the record, you make sure there’s a record of complaints.

  63. Overthinking Anon

    I recently did the interview for the job that I wasn’t even sure I should apply for, and whether or not I get the job, I think I can feel pretty good about how I performed and it solidified my interest. Just got a reply to my thank-you saying they’ll be in touch next week.

    Any SERENITY NOW tips for the weekend? I know the advice is to move on, but I’m not sure how to *do* it!

    1. College Career Counselor

      Do something fun/distracting with friends or family. Engage in a favorite hobby/sport. Take a day trip somewhere you’ve never been.

      Good luck!

    2. Jillociraptor

      My strategy is “Instant Nope.” As soon as I start thinking about the job or the interview, I make my brain start going “nope nope nope nope nope nope…” like the Yip Yips on Sesame Street.

      It’s very juvenile but it actually works pretty well!

      1. Kelly L.

        A heavy black curtain. That’s my mental trick, similar to your nope. It helps with all kinds of thoughts, for me. I feel it starting and visualize a heavy curtain–like the kind on a stage–falling down with a big THUMP between me and the thought.

  64. Jillociraptor

    How do you find a recruiter as a job seeker?

    One of my colleagues just started working with a recruiter and she is raving about it! I know of a couple of niche folks in my area, but their focus is a little off from my expertise. Any advice for finding, evaluating, and choosing a recruiter/agency to help with your job search? Any advice for working really effectively with a recruiter?

    1. some1

      I only have advice on the last one. I got placed in my current role by a recruiter and started working with her because I answered an ad she placed.

      Obviously it worked out for me, but what I would stress is remembering that outside recruiters are looking for a commission so there’s a danger of them being clingy (mine wanted almost round-the-clock updates during the interview process and called me in the evening) or trying to get you to take a job you don’t want or isn’t a good fit. Thankfully, I expected this from being a regular reader here so I was assertive with her about appropriate contact and made it clear (politely) that I wasn’t going to take the job if I didn’t think it was right for me.

  65. Bridget

    I’m in a new hourly position. All of my previous jobs have been salaried, so this is a bit new to me. I’m sort of on this committee which is responsible for making our customer experience better as well as working in the community. Next week, we’re going to a farm coop for a few hours to pick vegetables and help out. All well and good, right?

    Well, I’ve been told that, as an hourly employee, I am not to be on the clock while we’re volunteering. I guess that makes sense, since that’s the point of volunteering and all, but shouldn’t it be my company “donating” time, rather than me?

    Salaried employees will be attending as well, and will not be docked half a vacation day or anything like that. So it also seems unfair that we’re treated differently in that aspect of “volunteering.”

    The sticking point here is that the event is not *technically* required, even for the committee. But of course it would look bad if I didn’t go. I just don’t think it’s right that I’m volunteering on behalf of my company but not receiving compensation for doing so. What do y’all think?

    1. CrazyCatLady

      If it’s not required and you’re not getting paid, I wouldn’t do it. I get that it might make you look bad though. Is there someone you feel comfortable bringing this up to?

      1. Bridget

        I’m considering asking HR, but the other admin (who was the driving force behind organizing this particular activity and who told me the GM said we weren’t allowed to clock in) said when she spoke to HR about putting a sign-up sheet near the time clock, they said it would get sticky because people would want to clock in and leave.

        I think it’s a little different, though, because they’re not on the committee whereas we are and they’re not expected to go…but we are.

        I’m leaning toward not going, because I also can’t go home to change after (my one-way commute is an hour) so I’d have to get in my work clothes after spending several hours in the dirt on a farm.

    2. Midnight Oil

      Why would you get paid for this? Salary workers don’t get paid for this, they get paid for doing a job regardless of the hours it takes. It would be a bad move for the company to dock salaried PTO for this event, since it’s likely they are working more than enough unpaid overtime to cover this. It makes total sense to me that hourly workers won’t clock in for this — because it’s not work and I wouldn’t want to pay overtime because someone volunteered to do this and then worked a full shift on top of it.

      One of the perks of being hourly is that you get paid for all hours worked, regardless of how many hours that is.
      One of the perks of being salaried is that you can go do non work things during the middle of the day and still make the same paycheck.

      1. Midnight Oil

        Also for what it’s worth I was on two company sponsored committees and frequently had after hour and weekend events that I did on my own time. I think this is pretty much the norm – these events are volunteer and unpaid. : )

        1. Bridget

          Sure, but it’s required that at least one of us admins is on the committee–the reason I said I’m “sort of” on it is because she took me to one of the meetings to show me what it’s about, and now I get the emails for the committee, so I guess I’m on it. I didn’t volunteer for it.

          I’ve done volunteer work with employers before, but I’ve always been salaried, so technically I was paid for it.

      2. Bridget

        It’s a work-sponsored activity, though. That, to me, makes it work. What’s the incentive for anyone to go to this if they’re only going to get paid for half a day? It’s not like I’m going to come into the office at noon and work until 8 to make up my hours, although I guess I could, but then I’d have worked almost a 12-hour day…with no overtime to show for it.

        And don’t get me started on overtime. I’ve already seen my fellow admin clock out and keep working in order to avoid getting overtime. I am NOT on board for that.

  66. Josh S

    This post is going to be a book, and it’s more of a rant than it is any kind of request for advice…

    About 18 months ago, I got a great job: Working on the most prominent department, for one of the biggest clients of my company, which is the market leader in the industry I work in. Hooray! It was going really, really well, too.

    Then, due to some internal position shuffling, I switched the primary client and team I supported back in September. This was in theory a step up–bigger budget, more prominent team, more opportunity to shine. In practice though….
    -The person who had held the position before, Jane, got promoted to be my new manager.
    -My (new) main client really likes Jane.
    -Jane didn’t really want to let go of the client relationship and support me in establishing my own way of doing things with the client….anything that I did “different” was seen by the client as “wrong”. And the client would go to Jane, and Jane would the client that it was simple to do things Jane’s way…. and so I got stuck holding the bag.
    -Add to this some time away due to paternity leave & bereavement leave & illness & holiday travel during the transition. So for the first 3-4 months, I was really only working for 3 weeks at a time, with gaps, so the transition was very stop-start. (Most of this was planned before the transition, and I warned them that it was horrible timing for this.)
    -While I was out of office, Jane pretty much did nothing to ensure my projects were progressing, so that when I came back and things were disorganized and behind, I had to work 60+ hours/week (sometimes more) to keep things on track.

    So…things went to hell. Those first 4 months were terrible. And I felt lost and unsupported, undermined by my boss, and untrusted by my client. Suck.

    Just as I was starting to get my feet under me, my manager relays some complaints that she got–a “missed” deadline, unmet expectations from the client… and put me on a Performance Improvement Plan. No chance for me to explain the reality that the unmet expectations were also uncommunicated and that the missed deadline was, in reality, the deadline we had agreed on for a first draft and not the finished project.

    Nonetheless, I was on a PIP for a month.

    And what do you do when your manager puts you on a PIP? You see the writing on the wall and start looking elsewhere. So I did. I have been looking elsewhere. Interviewed at the main competitor for a couple positions (got one offer, but the location would have required a 2+ hour commute each way or relocating my family, both non-starters right now…*sigh*…oh well).

    Month came and went and the PIP ended successfully–I did all the things I had already been doing…just made doubly sure that I was communicating everything and cc’ing my manager on everything. Total CYA territory.

    Now, things are better with my client. I’m past the barriers and things are in a “good” spot. But…they’re still not in a “great” spot. I feel like I am constantly having to be on my toes to overdeliver and watch my back, that my manager has it out for me, and that I’ve got a target on my back.

    Jane agrees. Suggested about a month ago that it might be worth exploring other teams/opportunities at my company. Then, a week after that, asked me to hold off on doing that because there were a lot of changes at the client that could potentially impact team structures. Then, the week after that, she asked me why I hadn’t reached out to our HR rep to start the conversation yet. So I talked with him….and set up several internal (informal) interviews with people I know. Then, this week, she again asked me to hold off on exploring other teams because we just had another person (on our 5 person team) quit, and Jane is going to be out of office for a while too.

    So…I’m basically annoyed with a bad manager who has undermined me repeatedly over the past 8 months and shown that she doesn’t have a ton of interest in my development (at least on this team). She can’t make up her mind on whether she wants me to stay or go, and I’m fed up with it.

    Honestly, I just want to ask her to her face, “If you put a person on a PIP and then tell them it’s best if they move off the team, but then put the brakes on … do you think they are going to want to stay? Or do you think they’re going to look for better opportunities wherever they can keep them?”

    I honestly want to stay with my company. I love my role, and the work I do, and the team I work with, and the company. But I’d like to get as far away from Jane as possible, since I think she is a detriment to my ongoing success and performance.

    That’s all. Thanks for reading.

    1. IndieGir

      Ignore Jane. She’s a horrible manager. Keep working with HR, cover your butt, and move on as fast as you can.

    2. fposte

      Pretty much agreeing with IndieGir and mostly posting to say I’m sorry–it’s so frustrating when something that starts great turns sour.

  67. Dysfunction Sucks

    How do you handle internal job hunting when you have to tell your manager of your intentions?

    I’ve been in my role for four years. Until now, I’ve been a valued member of our team (promotions, bonuses, awards, you name it). I’m searching for a new role because there has been a tremendous amount of change in the past year, including a change in business needs (which results in much less work for me), too much turnover in mgmt. (I’m on my fourth manager in 10 months), no advancement opps on my current team, and general dysfunction. I personally think the team will be dissolved in the next year or two and I’m trying to get out while I can.

    At my company, you are required to tell your manager if you are interviewing internally. HR will not grant you interviews if you don’t. I’ve had several interviews, have been the second choice a few times, but obviously, nothing has materialized.

    In the past few months, I’ve noticed I’ve been treated differently. Upper management seems to have written me off and I no longer get recognition like I used to. I’m trying to maintain excellent work and a good attitude but it’s so hard.

    1. Internal Applicant

      I’ve done it twice. Once for a position within our office, and once for one in another department. First, I wouldn’t recommend saying anything unless you are absolutely positively putting in for it. Application ready to send off and everything. You don’t want to bring it up if there’s a chance you’ll get cold feet, and I know my feelings have changed while putting together an application.

      What I did was this: I finalized my application and then asked to speak with my office manager. I explained that I was applying for job X in Y department because I thought I was a good match for the job and I wanted to give him a heads up before I sent in the application. Since I’m young and have few references, I also asked him to be a reference (figured they’d call him anyway so… might as well put him down formally). We discussed timelines and who would take over my duties if I left. It was pretty premature for that conversation, but my boss is a planner. And of course he told the whole office, so that’s why I waited until I was positive I was going to apply. (We thought I had a good chance, but I didn’t even get an interview. :( ) Then I went and talked to my supervisor, basically same conversation. Sent in the application that night. I was a in a similar position as you (not much to do in the office anyway, supervisor didn’t give a crap about my advancement) and there was a couple-month period where I was like a rockstar again and I had to spend a bunch of time training another coworker on my duties. And then when it was clear I didn’t get the job, things went back to normal.

      If your boss is a blabber-mouth, be prepared for everyone to know you applied and for everyone to know if you don’t get it. Hopefully yours knows how to keep quiet!

  68. ThursdaysGeek

    Yesterday there was a nice post on avoiding drama in the workplace, and last night my god-daughter called to complain about drama in her new workplace. But I wasn’t quite sure what advice to give her. The drama was coming from the employee she just replaced, who got a new job, but the new job starts later in the day. So she came by to hang out at the old job. It’s a daycare, so the kids were confused. The owner is off the premises, and the god-daughter just started last week and hasn’t established her authority, especially as the person coming back on the premises is the previous supervisor.

    What’s a good drama-free way to ask a former employee to keep their distance?

    1. fposte

      What’s great about authority is that pretending to have it actually gives it to you. “Letitia, we love to see you and we hope you’ll come to the lunch in a few weeks, but I’m uncomfortable with having to explain to parents why non-employees are hanging around/please give the kids time to get used to me without you being here.”

      And unless the owner’s invested in the ex-employee, tell her to not worry about whether the ex-employee is offended by this or not. Leaving in a huff is fine.

    2. The Cosmic Avenger

      She needs to ask the owner. Having someone who is not an employee and is not there because of a relationship with one of the children could be a licensing violation, or at the very least a liability issue. Our state has very strict rules about licensing and caregiver/child ratios (in case any other employees are leaving the room to talk to ex-employee).

      And if the owner permits her to be there and your god-daughter doesn’t want to socialize, she will probably just need to go about her job as if this ex-employee isn’t there. You know, say something like “I’m sorry, I can’t talk, I need to [work-related task].”

      1. Judy

        Yes, the day cares that my kids have been at require anyone who isn’t staff to sign in and note the reason they are there. All of them had locked doors with buzzers.

    3. Amethyst

      Is there a directory on-site she could mention this to? “It’s difficult to get the children to listen to me when God-daughter is here. I’m worried about them getting distracted or separating because they’re used to following her. Can you please ask her to step back so the kids can get used to me?” If she emphasizes how this is affecting the children’s relationship with her it might help.

      I don’t think she should have to talk to god-daughter herself, but if there is no supervisor besides the owner, she might have to. In that case she might just say that “the children are confused and it’s making it hard for me to build my relationship with them. Could you please step back?”

  69. Clever Name

    So how do you deal with coworker’s personal, well, issues? I hesitate to call it drama, because what my office-mate is dealing with is really stressful and awful. However, I really don’t want to deal with his personal problems in addition to my own. Without going into detail, I’m really going through a lot right now (and have just started therapy), so I get it, however, I choose not to discuss much of what’s going on because I’d really prefer that work be a break from all that. Even listening to him talk about is stressing me out. I know we’ve discussed the white collar/blue collar background differences here before; I’m wondering if that has something to do with the difference in styles. I also acknowledge that growing up protestant in the Midwest probably has something to do with my perspective on sharing personal crises at work as well. I did notice that when my office mate told another coworker about what was going on, he basically said, “Gosh. Wow. That sounds really tough…..so about the Paddington Plan Set…” Which made me fell better about my reaction, which was similar.

    1. fposte

      Yeah, going through a lot is one thing, but telling everybody about it work repeatedly is another. I don’t think you’re unsympathetic in wanting this to stop. I think you can follow your co-worker’s model, or, if you think you need to address it more globally, say something like “Lavinia, I feel for you, but I’m finding it hard to focus on my work when we dive too much into life stuff, so I’m going to draw back for a while.”

      1. Not So NewReader

        This. I have said something like, “I am totally sympathetic about your concerns. But I have some life stuff going on, too, and my time at work is time out from life stuff. It part of my plan to cope with what is going on. I hope you understand and I hope that things go better for the both of us very soon.”

        Sometimes two people just cannot help each other. And there is no shame in saying that. It happens for lots of reasons. One is situations like yours where you have your own full plate. Other times it happens because people cannot relate to the person’s problem or have no clue how to begin to handle it. It does not mean they do not care, it just means they do not have any experience or exposure to those types of situations.

        Whatever wording you settle on, be prepared to say it a couple times. As you are aware, people in stress/grief have a hard time concentrating, so your coworker may not catch it the first time you say it.

  70. the_scientist

    Fellow project-based workers! I am in my first 4 months in a new position that is extremely project-based (my last position was a mish-mash of projects and re-occurring, regular tasks). As a result, there’s a significant ebb and flow to my workload, and my workload is heavily dependent on other people and departments- i.e. I’m hopefully going to be working on a big reporting project, but my team is waiting for approval from the director, who will then take it to the VP for approval, so we can’t start working yet.

    So my question is, what do you do when you don’t have a lot of work to do (because you’re waiting for approvals, or because you need someone else to finish component A before you start work on component B)? When I started, I did a lot of reading, poking around the intranet to familiarize myself with the org, policies and procedures and whatever, and mandatory training. Now, I’m doing my performance planning for the year, and doing some reading on project management best practices- my manager is really enthusiastic about me taking on more of a project co-ordination/management role, which will be a stretch assignment and a really great opportunity for me! What else can I do to keep myself busy and engaged while waiting for things to cross my desk? I’m thinking of taking some free SAS/R programming courses, and potentially looking to Coursera for an introductory project management course. I’d love any other suggestions, though!

    1. Steve G

      If you’re doing a reporting project, maybe you should hone or learn more computer skills. I keep seeing python in job ads, and also SAS/R, they look worth learning!

      1. the_scientist

        I’m already intermediate-ish in SAS, so I wouldn’t be starting from scratch. I do have SAS and data access at my job, but in practice I haven’t really needed to use it- we have an entire team of really strong SAS programmers who know our datasets inside & out; they are the ones that typically end up pulling data for us. I’m more on the interpretation/ reporting side of things. Which is fine! I’m an epidemiologist and my strength is definitely in the methodology and writing and interpretation side, as opposed to the math and programming side!

    2. AnotherFed

      If you’re looking to take on more of a project management role, why not start looking at classes aimed towards getting your PMP cert? The cert itself is not very fun and its value varies by industry, but the classes teach useful PM skills and may be able to help you decide if project management is really your cup of tea.

      1. the_scientist

        So, the thing is that I’m only in my second year of post grad school employment. The certification is quite expensive, although my employer does offer tuition assistance, but I’d like to have a little more experience under my belt before working towards a PMP cert. It’s certainly a future option, but I think for now I’d prefer to stick to getting some hands-on experience with guidance from my manager and deciding whether it’s really something I’m interested in. My organization does offer a free one-day Intro to Project Management course that I will definitely be looking into, though!

        I’m really enjoying the project management work I’m doing now, but I’m torn because I also love being in the weeds of methodology, study design, planning analyses etc…..but the reality is that project management presents way more opportunities for advancement than that type of hands-on work. Senior analysts in my area are well compensated, highly valued, and certainly can find niches for themselves, but they do not get the same visibility and leadership opportunities that project managers do.

    3. notfunny.

      Do you have project plans that are carefully written? What about documentation about how you do your work? Can you start writing about the things that are coming next? I switched to a project management role that relies on subject matter experts to contribute content and approvals, and I’ve found it to be really exciting, constructive stuff! However, I have enough projects that there really isn’t a lot of down time in between. If I were to have down time, I would likely work on developing the skills necessary for the projects that I do, and developing more clear project plans in advance. Do you use project management software to track your work? If not, that might be something to explore if you think it’s helpful.

      If you’re interested in learning R, you may want to check out the Johns Hopkins Data Science track on Coursera. Swirl was also recommend to me for learning R, and I’ve found it to be helpful. Good luck!

  71. Tau

    I have a job offer!!

    Which I may… accidentally have accepted right away over the phone. Um. I’m really not sure. O first-time job-hunting woes, I was hoping to a) cut my teeth on negotiations, b) hold out a bit for Job B I interviewed at start of the week, but the conversation basically jumped straight from “you have an offer” to “so we’ll send out the contract in the post, sign it and get it back to us” with me confusedly thinking “weren’t there supposed to be negotiations somewhere in here?”

    I did put up a protest re: salary – she wasn’t mentioning it at all, I asked what it was, she said she didn’t have it in front of her but would call me before she sent the contract. I’m hoping this means it’s the amount I asked for (since I was willing to be negotiated down a bit on it) but want to be prepared to push back if it’s too low. Also protested re: start date, since they wanted me to start two weeks from now and I need to relocate (which they know) and that’s not enough time. I asked for mid-June, she said she’d speak to the hiring manager and get back to me. Forgot (ugh) to mention that I’ll need a day off for graduation, unfortunately! in the first two weeks of starting, so I’ll have to discuss that when she calls again.

    Still not quite sure whether I should have tried to hold out for Job B or how I should have gone about doing that (suggestions appreciated! I felt rather steamrollered during that conversation). I’ve gone back and forth on which of the two jobs I’d prefer ever since the interview and was *originally* going to ask about this today except that, well, offer. (The short story is that Job B is most likely much better for my CV but riskier in lots of ways, while this job won’t offer the same breadth of experience but is one where I’m much more certain I’d be happy working there and able to do the job.)

    1. Tau

      Rereading it occurs to me that this comment comes off as too negative and I should probably have finished with “but no really I have a job offer!!!” because that was definitely my first reaction, I just thought my way into a muddle after that.

    2. Steve G

      You got a job before graduation? Wow!

      I don’t know about other people, but this is how every you-got-the-job call went for me, no one asks “so do you want it.” They send you the offer (don’t feel guilty making them do up the paperwork, its usually only 3-4 standard pages) and then you can nitpick specific terms then.

      1. Tau

        Okay, good! I was worried I’d seriously screwed something up by not pushing back with negotiations right away. So should I wait to discuss things like day-off-for-graduation until I have the offer letter in front of me?

        And before graduation, yes, but from my PhD. :) I actually finished everything start of March and have been eligible for the degree since then, it’s just that we only have graduation ceremonies twice a year. Still, I was beginning to think I wouldn’t find something for a while, considering I’m trying to switch into chocolate teapot making and that’s not directly relevant to my PhD subject! I get the impression the economy in chocolate teapot making over here is leaning more towards the job-seekers’ side of the fence.

    3. Tau

      And ten minutes after I posted this I got a call from Job B… also with a job offer. (This one, they actually offered me a week to think about it and make sure it was right for me from the start, which was lovely!) And talking to people it sounds as if the point of no return here is when the contract is signed (I’m in the UK – we do contracts) so as long as I haven’t signed at Job A I am still free to say “thanks, but no thanks”.

      So, time to decide.

      Question: How have people dealt with large amounts of travel as part of their work? This is really the biggest issue for Job B and I feel like I can’t properly gauge how I’d deal, even though I’m pretty sure I’d quite enjoy some travel (and did + wouldn’t have minded a bit more during my PhD).

      Still slightly stunned I landed two job offers in the same day…

      1. misspiggy

        Erm.. be careful, because in the UK a verbal agreement counts as a contract. But as long as you didn’t actually say, ‘I accept’, you haven’t made a verbal contract. Personally, I love work travel, assuming they cover expenses and travel time – you might want to check that with Job B, as it won’t be covered in the contract probably; but it is normal for expenses to be covered. Congratulations!

        1. Tau

          Eek! There’s a thought to keep me up at night, considering everyone’s been going “as long as you didn’t sign the contract you’re fine!” But I’m quite certain I never said “I accept” – I do regret not working “can I have some time to consider this?” into the conversation, but any presumed acceptance was implicit. Plus, I did say I needed to know the salary!

          Re: travel – expenses are covered, including travel, accommodation (which they arrange for you) and food. I was definitely paying attention to that since I applied to another place that was… less than great about these things. It’s good to hear you love it! I’m starting to think I might quite enjoy this (I generally like experiencing new places) and it seems that’s not so far-fetched an idea. :)

  72. KitKat

    So the fiance is searching for other work. He’s been getting progressively more and more fed up with his current job (retail, running a garden center for a large home improvement chain) and desperately wants out. His job isn’t in danger, so he’s not in a rush, but it’s getting bad for his mental health. Due to a combination of bad management and inconsistent direction, it’s become… well, not “toxic”, but slowly getting there.

    My (our?) problem is twofold. One, he’s desperate to get out of retail. Unfortunately, that’s pretty much been every job he’s had. We’re in our late twenties, so there’s not a lot of job history to pull from to begin with. At his current job, he’s moved through the ranks from seasonal help to manager-in-practice-but-not-in-title, but he’s having trouble crafting a resume that demonstrates these skills. It doesn’t help that he’s never needed a resume before.

    Which is the second problem. He’s taking resume advice from friends who have had to use them before, but it’s not always good advice. I’ve tried explaining that just because it worked for one person doesn’t mean it’s good, but I’m pretty sure he thinks I have no knowledge on the subject since I’ve been working for the same company for 10 years. I’ve even bought him Alison’s book, but getting him to read the damn thing is like herding cats. Love him to death, but he’s stubborn and proud and drives me nutty sometimes. So how do I get him to accept actual good advice on resume practices without resorting to tying him to a chair and reading to him aloud?

    1. Persephone Mulberry

      Ummmm I think I’m married to your fiance. o_O

      But seriously, my husband is in the exact same shoes – retail, worked his way up to a managerish role but they won’t give him the next step up (he’s not sure if he even wants it at this point), wants out of retail but is struggling with what to do instead and how to communicate transferable skills. Fortunately, he IS smart enough to only take resume advice from me (and AAM by proxy).

      Best of luck!

    2. MsM

      What does he want to do? Informational interviews with people in those roles who can tell him that his resume isn’t going to get him any callbacks in its current format and how to highlight the things that would make him seem like a good fit (or how to develop those skills if they’re not already there) are always good if you can get them.

    3. Retail Lifer

      You probably can’t get him to read a whole book, but have him skim this site. I don’t have much of an attention span but I can spend hours on here. I didn’t realize how awful my resume and cover letters were until I spent time on here.

  73. AnonyMouseketeer

    Can anyone comment on what happens if you make a complaint to the Department of Labor? Hypothetically speaking, if someone is being classified as a contractor instead of as an employee, and they report that to the DOL, what happens next?

    Said someone is more concerned about losing the job than being wrongly classified. Any advice? Thanks in advance!

    1. Not So NewReader

      I called the DOL once on a very different matter and I was underwhelmed, at best.

      Not knowing more about it than what you say here, I have to go with the expression about letting sleeping dogs lie. This could be a case where you cannot have both goals. I think going to the company and asking about becoming a full time employee would be a far safer bet because it is closer to the actual goal of getting correctly classified at a job that they actually want.

      Think of it this way, you have a problem neighbor but you want to get along better. You cannot report the neighbor to the police and get a better relationship. It’s only going to make things worse in some way. Likewise, calling in the state or feds at work is probably not going to make things better. Tell your person to go by themselves and have a sincere conversation with tptb. Pick wisely, pick a kindly boss or a concerned HR person, pick someone. Go in, hat-in-hand, and say, “hey, I like it here. What are my chances of becoming FT/perm? How can I increase those chances?”

  74. Mindy

    Sometimes you know nothing will change but you just need to vent. The upper management where I work, never cease to amaze. The latest: It is May and one department director put in a request to use part of his capital expense budget that started in January. He was told “All of the budgeted money is gone, it has been redirected to another project.” None of the managers, including the receiving director had been informed. The money is now targeted to move the fitness center from one room to another and make it more attractive, because Marketing feels it is ugly. The Fitness Coordinator had not been consulted about what the move would require for the equipment but was asked if she liked the multi thousand dollar mural that had been selected by the interior designer. No money was allotted for moving and recalibrating the equipment or putting in needed electrical outlets, but they are getting new attractive lockers. There are no plans for new equipment. The decorator doesn’t feel that the flooring request made by the Fitness person will be attractive so it might not happen. Looks is much more important than function. No provisions have been made for the employee training computers relocation but there won’t be room in the new location. This is just one in a long list of “necessary” changes. They might not be function or useful and may inconvenience vast numbers of people, but they sure will look good.

    1. Not So NewReader

      All of their capital expense budget is shot? wow.
      I would write more of a comment here, but I feel inspired to take my IRA and invest it in making my lawn weed-free. Wouldn’t that be NICE??

      I hope you are looking for a new job. If they routinely make business decisions like this you are looking at a company that will go under in the next few years.

  75. HRChick

    Our pres. has asked me to figure out how we can move our performance management merit based compensation program from fixed % to compensation by shares.

    Problem is, I keep running mock numbers and it keeps exceeding our budget almost every time. Does anyone have any experience with this? Should I be mathing or budgeting a certain way that I’m not?

    1. Graciosa

      Mathematically, if your original target amounts are converted to equivalent shares, this can’t happen, so I would go back and review your equivalencies or see if the budget changed.

      If you had a program that gives employees in category A percentage raises valued at $3,000, you would give $3,000 worth of stock. If your shares at trading at $100 each, there are 30 shares available at this level.

      This is just math, so if the numbers are right, it will work. If you accidentally used $10 each for your share value and think you have 300 shares available, it will result in your being over budget.

      If you changed the compensation scheme (“Let’s raise category A compensation to 40 shares”) without making adjustments, you will be over budget.

      If you have an employer who does not fully fund the merit budget (I had this happen) then you will be over budget if you don’t model the reduction.

      If you’re trying to troubleshoot, adding everything up at each stage may help you find the issue – meaning add up your original estimates from the old budget first; if it’s over, you need to fix that first before addressing the new scheme. If the totals for the equivalent shares are fine, but there were adjustments (my 40 shares example) then those are the issue.

      If you approach it methodically, you can figure it out.

      1. Not So NewReader

        I think this is why my husband’s old company went with stock options. My husband had an option to buy company stock at $42 per share. What a worthless piece of paper. The economy tanked and the stock was worth $24 per share. With the expiration date coming up soon, I tossed the paperwork out.

        Are you able to use partial shares of stock? You may be losing a lot of math by rounding. Some employees’ compensation may actually work out to X.5 shares, or some other decimal number and not a whole share.

  76. Lizzie

    The wonderful thing is that my partner has finally gotten a job, and therefore I may finally be able to escape my hellish job with an abusive boss. However, I am just so. done. and I can’t give notice for at least a couple of months. Does anyone have some tips on making it through the next couple of months? My anxiety has really ramped up even though I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

    1. Dasha

      These things helped me when I was in your situation:

      Doing a count down. Writing down how many days you have left, every day.

      Going outside the office for lunch. Just get out for an hour or whatever. At suckycrappysucksuck job I didn’t have a lot of money so I would bring my lunch but still leave the office to eat whether it was in my car or from a bench outside.

      Have someone to call before / after work.

      Remember in the grand scheme of things a couple of months isn’t really that long.

      It will be hard but you can do it!

      1. Lizzie

        Thank you! I am doing a few of those and am working on getting perspective. I have been here so long that really, two months isn’t that much!

        1. Dasha

          Also, do the very best job you can! That way they will miss you lots when you’re gone ;) sometimes doing the right thing is the best revenge.

    2. Not So NewReader

      Stay away from the caffeine and junk food as much as possible. Check out herbal teas that help with calming. Crappy foods exasperate anxiety.

      Take some “me” time daily. Even if it is just 15 minutes- do something for yourself and only you, daily.

      Take after dinner walks with your partner. Reconnect with what is actually important in life.

      Make a vivid image in your head of life-after-rotten-job. Work on that image- make it so clear you can almost touch it/feel it.

  77. Anna

    I’m about done with one of the instructors at my work. We’re supposed to be holding a yearly industry meeting next week to get employers around a table to talk about where the industry is headed and how we can prepare our students for that. When we first met to plan the meeting, he specifically told me he would handle the invitations. So far I’ve received one RSVP from him and it was a no. Then this week he sent me an email letting me know that a reporter for a local paper wanted to interview him and his students about the training they’re doing with the local sheriff’s office. Awesome! I asked for the reporters information and what day would work for him for the reporter to visit. Please note that it’s actually a huge part of my job to work with the media about our site. The response I got from him was that he didn’t remember the reporter’s name and that she would be coming “some time today [yesterday].” On top of that I heard from students that when they’re conducting tours, this instructor’s students will not let them in the classroom because they’re “too busy” for tours. I am at my wit’s end. His manager is kind of ineffectual with staff so there’s not a lot of help there. I’ve talked about a few other things with my boss (who is the boss of everyone) but I don’t want to go to her too often because I don’t want to sound like I’m picking on this one instructor. But I’m about to flip my chickens.

  78. Lanya

    I posted a few weeks ago about having panic attacks during meetings at work, and I wanted to provide a little update. The feedback I received from fellow posters was wonderful, and that, in combination with talking about it with my doctor, has made a huge difference. I am still having the attacks, but less frequently, and through breathing exercises I have been able to get through them without any issues. I am handling it much better now and I foresee the problem coming to an end eventually. Thank you so much to those of you who responded with tips and tricks – especially the one about the app for breathing exercises. It’s been wonderfully helpful!

    1. Lanya

      Also, I should mention that I wound up not telling anybody at work. I decided I didn’t want to potentially make a bigger deal out of it than it is, or have people watching me during meetings to make sure I wasn’t having a problem. I realized that would just make it worse for me. Instead, I chose to open up about it to some friends, and talking about it with them has made it feel more normal.

    2. fposte

      I’m really glad you found a way to make this better; it makes such a huge difference to feel like you’re finding a way to deal with something like this.

  79. No such thing as free pizza

    A vendor is sending the office pizza today as a thank you and the staffer who is the contact sent out an email with an hour advance notice of the pizza’s arrival. This staff member is now walking around to everyone’s office (50 people) telling us that there will be pizza. When I mentioned I didn’t think he needed to do this he insisted he needed to do so because “not everyone reads their email all the time.” Not my monkeys, not my circus, but he still makes me crazy!

    1. HeyNonnyNonny

      Hey, there might be a reason– I am mysteriously not on any of my office email lists and I had to be notified in person when there was ice cream this week!

      1. Sadsack

        Our dept executive admin just realized a couple of weeks ago that I was not on one of her distribution lists that she uses to send a critical monthly update. I have worked here for 5 years.

        1. No such thing as free pizza

          Pizza delivery guy needs to feel like he is helping people, which for him seems to mean walking around the entire building. In sad pizza news, the vendor only sent enough pizza to feed half of the staff.

        2. No such thing as free pizza

          A couple months ago I realized half of the department was on an old listserv that the new members were not members of. We got rid of a whole bunch of old listservs after that and made sure the members of the remaining lists are up to date. Reminded leadership things like this have to be assigned to someone or unit to ensure they actually get done.

        3. Kitchenalia

          I know I’ve been guilty of this, maybe for 5 weeks but not 5 years. I need a better system to add and remove short-term contracted staff to a DL. It’s easy when they leave the organisation, embarrassing when I forget to add them in the first place.

  80. AnotherFed

    What are the best interview questions you’ve asked or been asked? Especially for entry-level/new college grads?
    HR’s giving us an extra interview with candidates, but I’ve already asked all my questions…

    1. Spiky Plant

      I like some variant of “rate yourself 1-10 on how well you match the job description.” It gives you good info about how they self-evaluate; for instance, if the job requests A, B and C skills, and someone has only A and C, but rate themselves a 9.5, they’re missing something in how they evaluate their own skills.

      1. OfficePrincess

        I like that. The people I interview are all very entry level and generally if they have work experience it’s not office experience, so I have a really hard time adapting the “standard” questions.

    2. New_Anon

      (really late to the posting game here, but wanted to throw this out there)
      Was recently asked in an interview: “What are you good at {on the job}, but wish you could do less of?”
      Never been asked that before, and it made me assess my skills in a different way. This was for a mid-level analyst-type position, but could probably be adapted.

      1. AnotherFed

        That’s a really interesting one – it sounds like a good way for them to highlight what they aren’t looking for in a job in a way that doesn’t feel like complaining. I’m going to have to work that into my normal questions and not just the HR-is-crazy bonus interviews!

    3. Anx

      I am curious how to keep positive about working alongside regular employees when you do similar work for similar hours but are in a separate work class? When I was working at one organization (volunteer), many of the workers were on one benefit tract while others were on another. By and large, the younger workers aren’t eligible for health insurance and sick days. Older workers tend to get hired into the coveted regular employee tract. I always felt bad for the workers who couldn’t get benefits having to listen to other workers gripe about the tiniest changes to HR policies; it seemed insensitive to me.

      How many years should one person work in a situation like that? Do you think that you’d affect your long term earning or benefits potential by staying there?

  81. Wayloo

    Background: I was laid-off earlier this year after a new boss decided to bring on someone he’d worked with before. I’ve decided to move from the city I’ve lived in for 20+ years (NYC) to coastal New England.

    While I could conceivably move immediately and would if the right offer came in, I don’t expect to move before late summer (I’m going to sublet my co-op apartment and this takes several months.) and I’m not actually certain where I’m going to settle yet. These two things are tripping me up a bit as I apply for jobs. I’m adding ‘Moving to X’ where ‘X’ is the appropriate city or state to my resume and saying that I am moving later this summer in my cover letter, but it is a slight falsehood as I might not be moving to X but to Y instead. Is there a better way to handle this?

    Related, I’d love more tales and advice regarding combination moves/job hunts. Thanks!

  82. Lisa

    Ok, I’ve asked this before, but this is sort of a different question.

    I am applying for jobs overseas. I had originally thought that I needed to convert my resume into a CV, but do I? This company has a US location though it is not the headquarters. Do I have to convert my resume into a CV to be truly considered for this job? Also, how would I include on my resume that I would need a work visa to work in europe and that I am not currently on one or a pre-approved visa applicant?

    1. The IT Manager

      I don’t know for sure, but if you are not applying for the US location, I think you need to convert to a CV. You’ll be competing against locals who have their resume in the correct/expected/normal format that the hiring manager and HR are used to.

      Point 2, is a work Visa realistic? If you don’t bring a special skill set usually you’re eligible for a work Visa.

  83. KAZ2Y5

    I have a new job! It is only prn right now, but with the job market the way it is where I am I think I will just have to work my way up. At least I now will have some current experience (and money!) after being laid off 7 months ago.
    So my problem – I need new clothes. I am used to wearing scrubs, but will have to wear street clothes for this job. So where are good places for casual-dress type clothes? Also I am size 20-22, so I can’t just walk into the cute little place down the corner for clothes. I have been spoiled with scrubs for work and jeans for everything else and haven’t really shopped for nicer clothes in a while!

      1. KAZ2Y5

        Sorry, as needed in the hospital world. Meaning whenever they want me and no benefits :-( But for training I will work full time (5 weeks) and then cover vacations, etc. Plus someone is going on maternity leave in August so I will be able to cover their shifts. Better than no job, for sure!
        Ha! I just looked at the other comment – that would be a totally different type of job and wardrobe!

    1. oldfashionedlovesong

      Congrats on the new job! I’m a size 18/20 and right on the line between petite and regular height so I feel your pain. I’ve also been trying to upgrade the quality of my work wardrobe a bit while still not breaking the bank (I’m recent-ish out of grad school so it’s been hard to break the habit of Old Navy’s clearance section…)

      I like popping into discount department stores like Nordstrom Rack/TJ Maxx/etc from time to time– they don’t usually have a huge plus selection, but often you can find a small number of good-quality work trousers, blouses, dresses, and of course nice shoes. Some brands that do good plus workwear and are often found at the discounters are Calvin Klein Womens, Michael Kors Womens, NYDJ, Vince Camuto Plus. And of course nice shoes!

      Online options are getting better, like Eloquii. If you like dresses/skirts, eShakti is kind of mindblowing because they make sizes up to 32 I think and you can customize sleeves, etc. They usually have a good coupon for first-time shoppers.

      For more ideas, check out the women’s workwear blog Corporette. It’s much more “dressy” than I need to dress– seems to target your Wall Street/lawyer ladies– but it’s a great source for ideas and they make an effort to highlight plus options. Good luck with the job!

      1. Mz. Puppie

        I recently discovered that QVC’s website is a treasure trove for plus sized clothing, oddly. You have to sort through a lot of dreck, but you can find some gems!

        Also a big fan of JC Penney online.

      2. Xarcady

        Also check out the clearance racks at Nordstrom’s and Macy’s. Never buy anything there full-price, but their clearance stuff is reasonable. You just have to be prepared to hunt a bit for your size/color/style. Macy’s has lots of coupons, as well, so if you combine clearance prices with a coupon, you can get things for under $10 sometimes.

        Lane Bryant has outlet stores now, if one is near you.

        Land’s End has a lot of plus size clothing. Shop the clearance section of their on-line store.

  84. Natalie

    I found out my crappy new boss used an offer from somewhere else to get a promotion that a) they don’t deserve and b) the company doesn’t need. I’m so disappointed in Big Boss for caving to that nonsense. :(

    So anyway, now that the semester’s over I need to get serious about finding a job. I’m thinking about getting in touch with some staffing/placement agencies as I flipping hate looking for work, and will be back in school in a month and am house shopping and am trying to have something resembling a social life. How does this work with staffing agencies? Can I be a little more frank about why I’m leaving and what I’m looking for? It stands to reason that might fly, but I’ve never actually worked with one.

    1. Mz. Puppie

      I hate to say it, but if you’re house hunting you really have to stay put in your job until after you’ve secured a mortgage and bought a house. A mortgage will be a no-go with a brand new job — they really prefer to see 1+ year of tenure at your current employer.

  85. Persephone Mulberry

    I just found out from one of my coworkers that another one of my coworkers, who has been out of the office for a couple weeks, is out because she had a stroke. I thought she was on vacation or something because no one on the management team felt it was necessary to pass that info along to the rest of the staff. I just can’t even right now.

    Every time I start to think maybe this job/company isn’t so bad, something like this happens and I am reminded of why I’ve been keeping half an eye on the want ads since the day I started.

    1. CrazyCatLady

      I don’t know if I agree here. Many people don’t want their health issues broadcasted to the entire office and I think it’s best to err on the side of caution. We see a lot of letters on here about management revealing confidential health information and it usually isn’t considered a positive!

      1. Persephone Mulberry

        I don’t necessarily need the details of why she’s out, but there has been absolute radio silence, as if if they don’t say out loud that she’s out, maybe no one will notice? Except people ARE noticing – people have been sending her emails and voicemails and getting frustrated that their not being addressed, and nobody knows if those boxes are being checked hourly or daily or not at all. It’s not that hard to send out a companywide voicemail along the lines of “Just wanted to let everyone know that Jane will be taking a personal leave to deal with a medical issue, we will keep you posted as to her return date, please keep Jane in your thoughts and in the meantime Suzette will be checking her voicemail and email regularly.” It shouldn’t have to be passed down via the company grapevine.

        1. CrazyCatLady

          Ah, I see. I thought you meant that you were told she was out on vacation. They definitely should have mentioned that she’d be out and who would be covering her duties/checking her email in her absence.

    2. A Jane

      Similar story — we found out through the grapevine that a coworker, who was relatively young (late 20s) had a heart attack. His “brilliant” manager sent a note that Person X is out sick and he’ll be back in the office in a few days! It was absolutely infuriating–how could you he treat this as a simple out of office moment? For me, it was another sign to get out of the toxic environment.

    3. edj3

      Yeah, I wouldn’t share someone else’s health issues either. That’s just not cool.

      1. Persephone Mulberry

        My beef is not with protecting this person’s health issues, it’s that there’s been no communication of coverage while she’s out. I have a more detailed comment in moderation.

      2. Anna

        I think it’s okay to give an overall idea of what’s happening. A person (granted, well-known) at our subcontractor passed away last week. The announcement said “sudden illness on this day, passed away later that day”. I have no idea what his illness was, but you can actually convey the seriousness of the illness without going in to personal details.

    4. Persephone Mulberry

      Upon re-reading my own post, I realize my thought process got off track. My complaint is really that my management isn’t even addressing the fact that she IS out and what is being done to cover her role in her absence.

  86. Anon for this

    I saw a job posted at a company I’m really interested in. About 6 months ago a recruiter who works for this company contacted me about a position and said how she thought my background would be a great fit for the company (in my area, people with my experience are tough to find). I thanked her but said I wasn’t looking to leave my current company at that time. I’d like to contact this recruiter and pass along my resume, the only kicker is that I wouldn’t want to start until October because I’m having a baby in July and would want to spend time with the baby for the months in between. I was thinking of mentioning the delayed start date when I send my resume (but not mentioning my pregnancy) and just adding that if they find their search is taking longer than expected to keep me in mind. Good idea, bad idea, worth it to even try at all?

    1. AnonAnalyst

      I would just send over my resume and leave that part out. Hiring can often take much longer time than expected (we just hired someone on my team this week, but the process started back in February!) so it might not even be an issue. If you get to the interview stage, I’d mention it then so they can take it into account if it really is an urgent need, but there may be a lot of hold ups and delays on their end so that your proposed start date won’t even end up requiring much of a wait on their side.

  87. Arvil

    I have an internal interview coming and would really appreciate some help with phrasing my questions and what to ask. Something that would be a big change from my current role is that this prospective job involves a lot of travel – any tips on what I should be asking about this? For those who travel regularly what would be your deal breakers and what do you wish you had asked? I do actually enjoy travelling solo so I’m excited to be interviewing, but want to make sure I don’t get caught out.

  88. Fuzzy

    This week I send out a HUGE mailing–both email and mail. I am expecting a large response and a good number of phonecalls. Guess who’s IT department updated the phone system and knocked the phone number on the mailing offline?

    ARG

    1. Kitchenalia

      I’m sorry to hear that, a real pain! I made a typo in a RSVP phone number, which meant calls went to a major department store. Coincidentally, a friend had contacts there and I was able to speak with their switchboard and arrange to leave the correct phone number with them. Needless to say, a special present was sent to the dept store switchboard peeps for their understanding.

  89. Friday

    What are people’s thoughts on posting a resume to a job board? Any bad experiences if their own company is able to see it?

    1. Retail Lifer

      Some sites will let you post anonymously and the only way an employer can contact you is through email (they won’t even have your name). Make sure you take that info off your resume, though, because it will be posted as-is.

      I get stalked mercilessly by companies wanting me to sell insurance, but I also don’t really have any skills. I know other people have been recruited by decent companies who found them on job boards.

    2. Apollo Warbucks

      It’s such a passive form of job hunting I’ve never seen it as credible, I’m sure people have used it successfully but my advise is for you not to bother.

        1. Retail Lifer

          I set up another email just for job stuff. Obviously just as much job spam, but at least it’s separate from my real emails.

    3. A. D. Kay

      I wouldn’t use Monster, but in my field (tech), it’s pretty common to set up profiles on DICE and Indeed. You can choose to keep your name and contact info anonymous and only release it upon request from recruiters. It wouldn’t hurt to have a solid LinkedIn profile either.

    4. Morgan

      This happened to me! I was job hunting and posted my resume to a job board, completely forgot about it, and about five months later, had an awkward conversation with my boss about if I was job hunting because he had seen it. I panicked and said no, and that I posted it a long time ago and forgot (which was true!). I ended up giving my notice about a month later and had another awkward conversation about if I was lying in the first conversation.

      And for the record, I never got any spam from it.

    5. AnonAnalyst

      I have a couple of friends who have gotten interviews (and one was eventually hired) from posting their resumes on Indeed, but I’ve never had much luck with it. Like Retail Lifer, every time I’ve posted my resume to a job board I’ve gotten nothing but insurance or other door-to-door sales contacts, so I probably wouldn’t do it again. It seems like companies hiring in my field are relying more on LinkedIn than those job boards since I do get messages there, so maybe it’s somewhat field-specific?

  90. Katrina

    I really need help.
    I was just let go from an entry level job that I only worked at for a month. I don’t really agree with why they fired me and I loved the job and thought I was doing well. I called HR and they told me that I was let go for ‘unsatisfactory performance’ (which is bs, personally and its a big slap in my face to find out I wasn’t doing good when literally no one told me I wasn’t). Anyway, this was Monday that I was let go, so its still recent and still stinging. I need a new job asap. I need to know if I should put this job in my employment history on forms (it was only a month but if they want all my job history? I also dont have all the info i would need to fill out on a form like that, as I was still new), if it should still go on my resume if related (I gained a lot of skills working there but I know something like that isn’t probably resume material). And I really don’t know how I would address this in interviews if it were brought up.

    Speaking of interviews, I’m not in the best mental state to have them and my sense of self worth is pretty deflated. If anyone has any advice at all it would be really helpful.

    1. Retail Lifer

      I’ve been fired. It’s crushing. It hurts. It’s awful, especially when it wasn’t your fault. I got fired for some BS stuff that was ultimately just work politics, and I bet that probably played into your surprise firing as well.

      I didn’t know how to best handle it after it happened and I was applying for new jobs. I didn’t want to lie about it and then have potential employers find out the truth while doing reference checks, so I was originally pretty up front about it. After I told potential employers that I was fired and why, half of them told me that was the stupidest thing they ever heard and it didn’t affect a thing. The other half changed their tone and pretty much ended the interview right then.

      Five years later, I have been telling employers that I left because the company was firing managers left and right (and that wasn’t a lie). Hardly anyone even asks follow-up questions on that, although I’m sure there’s a better way to handle it.

      Right now, apply for unemployment ASAP and apply to anything and everything. I didn’t have any skills that a temp agency could want, but try one if you do. You might regret it later (I certainly do), but try retail simply because turnover is high and someone (especially larger places like department stores) ALWAYS has open positions.

      1. Retail Lifer

        Also, it might be easier to leave this month-long job off of your resume simply because some employers will never give you a chance because you’ve been fired. It will also save you from having to explain it in an interview. I’m interested in what other people will say though.

    2. some1

      Definitely leave it off your resume. I would only include it in job apps/verification history that explicity state that you have to include everything for the last X years.

      1. Elizabeth West

        Agreed, and for most jobs, you won’t have to include information that detailed anyway. The only time I’ve ever had to do it was when I applied for an internship at the police department.

    3. A. D. Kay

      I’m really sorry that happened to you! Think of it as a good thing that you were only there a month. Would you want to stay any longer at a place that treats employees so shabbily? Try to let it roll off of you and don’t let it affect your self-worth. It very well could have been that you were let go for some bogus reason, like someone messed up and didn’t get approval to hire you. You certainly don’t need to list it on your resume.

    4. Golden Yeti

      I had a sort of similar thing happen to me at a job I had been at for years. It was one of my first jobs, and I made a Big Screw Up–I was supposed to work weekends on months with 5 weeks, and this happened to be one, but I didn’t realize it. So there was nobody there, and everyone wanting to use the facility was calling my boss. My next work day, she called me in for a meeting to say that this situation could never happen again, and I fully agreed. I was so embarrassed of my mistake after, though, that I started hiding from my boss. Most customers were regulars and knew I was the go-to, and when the boss left, I would go to the more visible “official” perch. Looking back, I know it was terrible of me, but I was green and didn’t know how to overcome my own humiliation. When contract renewal time came around, my boss informed me that my contract would not be renewed. She had not met with me or brought up any other performance issues since The Meeting, and even during The Meeting, she hadn’t indicated that my job could be on the line. I had to press her to find out why she wasn’t renewing, and the reasons she gave me seemed random and were completely unrelated to the weekend or my hiding. I fully respect her authority to do what she did, but I’ve never agreed with how she did it. After that debacle, I found out that I was not the only employee to have experienced similar treatment; in fact, she had earned a clever monster-y nickname amongst certain staff.

      I share my story to say, it might not have been you. Your boss could have had a pattern of this, and you just aren’t aware of it.

      1. Snoskred

        Golden Yeti said – “I share my story to say, it might not have been you. Your boss could have had a pattern of this, and you just aren’t aware of it.”

        I say the same, but it might be the company, not the boss.

        I say this because a similar thing happened to me years ago. I had a meeting with my boss who told me I was doing great and gave me lots of positive feedback. One week later, I was called into the office and told I would not be passing my probation and its KTHXBAI to me, with a lot of really unpleasant things said by that same boss, which were not raised by the boss at all one week earlier.

        I moved on to another job, and 9 months into that job they changed everything and a lot of my awesome team left. One of them left to go to the same company that fired me, and I felt like I had to warn that person – which I did. But he was like “Oh, I’m sure it won’t be a problem for me”.

        It turns out, it was a problem for him as well, and he found out that the company did this to new employees on a regular basis because there was a clause in the contract that if we did not pass our probation, they kept all our commissions. They owed me 5 grand, and they owed him 5.5, and there were four other people who were let go while he was there, all of whom were owed around the same – so that is 30k they made from sacking us!

        He took them to court, and won, the company was fined, and this particular contract loophole was closed for good.

  91. Indiana Jones and the TempAnon of Doom

    So I just found out I got a new job–yay! I’m really excited about it. Buuuuuuut I’m also concerned.

    I’ve always been a sprinter rather than a marathoner when it comes to work–I take lots of breaks, I do better when there’s some sort of “crisis” I have to solve rather than just slogging through the everyday stuff, etc. But I always make my deadlines–I have good time management skills and don’t slack off.

    I’ve been freelancing the last few years, which has been great. I love having a variety of different things to do and setting my own schedule. (I’ve always had a hard time with schedules–even as a little kid, I skipped a ton of school because I found the “5 days a week every week for most of the year” schedule to be extremely stressful and emotionally exhausting.)

    New Job is definitely going to be more slog and less crisis, though–it’s my first 9 to 5 in awhile, and the workflow will be steadier than what I’m used to having as a freelancer.

    How can I improve my work-marathon skills and get better at the everyday slog that has always stressed me out so much? When I’ve asked people I know for advice, their answers have been “You’ll get used to it,” which doesn’t address the issue.

    1. fposte

      Big projects are just a bunch of little projects glued together. Break it up conceptually. Even if it’s something that isn’t a finite project, break it up for yourself by kind, or number, or color, or whatever–your goal this morning is 100, and you met it. Yay! Go for a walk and get a drink. Look for where what you’re doing fits into the overall mission. That’s a thousand widgets sold for your 100 whatevers that morning! That’s 10 people closer to funding because of it!

      Basically, if there’s no pattern, impose one.

      1. notfunny.

        Yes, fposte is exactly right! Bits and pieces. Instead of writing a perfect document, write the outline first. then maybe do another task. Then turn the outline into a rough draft. Break it down so that it feels doable!

      2. Indiana Jones and the TempAnon of Doom

        It’s not that the work doesn’t feel doable, it’s the mental exhaustion that comes with just getting up and going to the same place at the same time every day, especially when there are no crises and I don’t have the adrenaline pumping to help me through it. I’ve tried to explain this to people before and a lot of people don’t seem to get it, but that sort of thing has just always exhausted me. I’m hoping to be able to somehow mentally exercise my way up to a greater tolerance level so it doesn’t exhaust me, but since I’ve always been this way I just don’t know where to start.

        1. fposte

          Yeah, if you’re talking purely an allergy to routine, that’s a challenge. Is the work varied at all?

          1. Indiana Jones and the TempAnon of Doom

            Not really. It’ll be a lot of very similar work. (Which is work I generally enjoy, for the record, but the procedures are going to be pretty similar for just about everything.)

        2. Clever Name

          This will sound awful, but I take frequent mini breaks and read AAM when I’m working in slog mode rather than crisis mode.

    2. BAS

      I have to say that I am like you and used to skip out on school when I wasn’t mentally up to it (I graduated from undergrad w/honors still, etc). When I worked retail, it was sort of nice I almost never worked 5 days straight and could call-in sick whenever (within reason) because my job roll was such I almost never was ‘floor coverage’. Having a 9-5 now is HARD. Even 8 months into it, I still struggle a little with attendance (breaking my foot did not help) and some days I feel like I am just doing the minimum to get by. Saying that, I am still productive and well-liked at work, but man, it is HARD. I haven’t had to show up somewhere for a prescribed time period 5 days a week since…high school!

      1. Indiana Jones and the TempAnon of Doom

        Oh, man. It’s really nice to see that there are other people who struggle with this, too–most of my family and friends are very big on routine and just can’t understand why I have so much trouble with it. I didn’t have significant issues with attendance in my one 9-5 job (that I only held years ago for a few months before moving), but I definitely took several “sick” days that were more like mental health/routine recovery days even just in that short span of time.

        I hope your foot is feeling better.

    3. VintageLydia USA

      Are you my husband? He’s going through something similar. He used to work in TV when he was younger which is anything but routine, and since then he’s been looking for an equally exciting job that, you know, actually pays well. He’s about to be put on a contract that really amounts to “sit around with 4 other people for possibly weeks at a time until the client actually needs one of you. Maybe. Possibly.” He’s not looking forward to it but the pay is really really hard to turn down for now.

  92. Chocolate Teapot-smith

    I’m wondering if anyone has some good advice on what to focus on in order to learn do a better job of applying background skills/knowledge training.

    I ask in the context of someone who worked as a newspaper reporter for a while but felt unprepared to make career leaps (https://www.askamanager.org/2007/10/do-i-need-more-time-to-grow.html), then went back to school to be a lawyer, and am still feeling challenged trying to translate work ethic into actual results. I feel like I am a very competent writer who can use reasoning and logic creatively in the abstract, but somehow this gets lost in the details of trying to actually apply these skills to projects.

    At 22, it was easier to write off as part of learning how the working world functions — now I worry I’m an egghead stuck in theoretical thinking, and while the equation of general intelligence + legitimate effort ought to be capable of equaling a valuable and talented employee, I’m somehow missing something in the equation. I realize this is a bit of a generalized question, but advice would nevertheless be very much appreciated, as I’m genuinely just trying to be better at work…

  93. Catherine

    I have been waiting all week for this because I need some advice on how to handle my boss right now. I really feel like I can’t get a grasp on his expectations, and no matter what I do, I can’t win.

    My boss works 80 – 100 hours per week, rarely sleeping. He has a wife and children whom he rarely sees. I work from 60 to 80 hours per week, give or take. Lately, whenever my boss says something like, “We are having a very busy day today” and I agree with him in a conversational way (“Yeah, tell me about it”), he doesn’t say anything at the time but later passive aggressively asks me if I can’t handle my workload, telling me that he has reservations about my performance. I ask for examples, but he never gives any – in fact, he has states repeatedly that I get everything done on time with a high degree of accuracy, have a positive attitude, and my colleagues enjoy working with me. Over the past month or so, I have completely stopped ever saying I’m busy or acknowledging it when he says it, but he has repeatedly brought up that I “always talk about how busy I am.” So I’m not sure what’s up here.

    Last week I worked on a project that required me to stay overnight. Boss and I clearly communicated that because I was working overnight, I would be allowed to go home and sleep the next day (example: work in the wee hours of Wednesday morning, sleep during Wednesday day). Even though the communication was that I would be off the remainder of the day Wednesday, I actually worked until about 10 AM, went home and slept a few hours, and logged on from home to work from about 2:00 pm until 6 pm. I did not complain about this, I told my boss where I was, boss had no complaints at the time, I thought everything was fine. A few days later, my boss chided me for expecting to just “take off work in the middle of the day” and said that if I work overnight the expectation is that I will work the next day as well or take vacation time if I am out of the office during 8-5 hours.

    I told my boss that I was frustrated because I could not understand his expectations and I felt that things were not being communicated to me up front. I am especially frustrated by his comments on how I do not work enough, given that I frequently work late into the evening and miss family events. He responded that he never sees his family either, and that any time I work late it is “my choice;” that I am somehow working too hard on what he perceices to be non-priority items or doing unnecessary work. Again, there are no examples of this and I am a very high performer.

    Does he want me to work more hours or less hours? I’m being told on one hand that if I want to succeed at the company, I must work 22-hour days regularly (note: I don’t think this is true at all for the company, I think this is an expectation of my workaholic manager). On the other hand, I’m being told that I am not allowed to indicate that I am busy because I am ‘only’ working 14 hour days instead of 22 hours, and that any time I work over 8 hours/day is “my choice.” This is despite calls and emails from my manager at all hours of the day and night asking me to work (we’re talking 7 PM, 11 PM, 2 AM, 4 AM – way outside of normal working hours).

    Boss is just not giving clear communications upfront, and then behaving passive aggressively later. I’ve been promised a promotion for over 2 years with no actual promition in sight, and boss keeps making remarks to the effect of me being unable to handle the workload, even though I have never complained about my existing workload and always jump into new projects as needed. I am the go to person for my boss, and he always comes to me first.

    Any advice here? How would others respond in this scenario? Even though I love the actual work, I’m getting really burnt out and happy because of boss’s passive aggressiveness, skewed perception, and unclear expectations.

    1. Katie the Fed

      I don’t understand why you’re even still there. You work for a boss that thinks it’s appropriate to ask you to work 34 hours at a time and never see your family, who fails to promote you as promised, and doesn’t give clear guidance. That’s not healthy.

      I mean, I suppose you could ask for a meeting and lay it all on the table – come to agreement on expectations for hours you work, how work should be prioritized, etc, but I don’t honestly see this changing.

      None of this is healthy. I mean, I work honest-to-god important stuff, and I used to work insane hours too. But burnt out people are no good for anyone, and things start to fall through the cracks. As a manager now I try to limit my hours (I’m having mixed success at the moment) and make it clear I don’t expect or want my employees working late, weekends, etc. And I try to set the example by not doing it myself if I can help it. It’s not good for the team.

      Sorry, but I think it’s time to find a new job.

    2. CrazyCatLady

      Wow, that sounds really frustrating. It looks like you’ve tried talking to him without much change in his behavior. I would start looking for another job because that sounds awful.

    3. the_scientist

      Your boss will never promote you, unfortunately. He’s happy with your work- that’s clear because you are his go-to person- and knows that it’s going to be really, really hard to find someone else who is willing to work this kind of insane schedule.

      The unclear communication/passive aggression is a bad sign, too. He’s doing it deliberately, I’m sure- he’s setting you up to fail all over the place, so then when you ask why you haven’t been promoted (after two years of promises!) he can’t point to a “lack of work ethic” and “inability to handle the workload”. He’s telling you that working late is “your choice” because those hours aren’t *actually* required (i.e. as per company culture) but he clearly expects them and evaluates your performance based on those hours. When you get so burned out that you make a mistake, he’ll let you go without hesitation because you “couldn’t meet expectations/handle the workload”. He’s being slimy and underhanded, make no mistake.

      Also, if the boss wants to kill himself slowly and destroy his relationship with his wife and kids, he’s allowed to make that decision, but it seriously pisses me off when people try to make that type of decision for everyone else. /rant.

      Seriously, it’s time to find a new job.

    4. Victoria, Please

      Where the f*ck do you work? What the hell does this company do that this kind of work is necessary? What could *possibly* necessitate this schedule, except for maybe preparing for nuclear war?

      Set some boundaries and look for a new job, and don’t worry about the reference because this insane termite is never going to give you a good one.

      1. Snoskred

        fposte – brilliant comment!

        And I absolutely agree with it 100% – Catherine, you need to quit this job ASAP. This is not normal.

    5. BenAdminGeek

      This is a boss who has issues setting boundaries. You setting any boundaries (even the crazy low bar of “I don’t want to work 24 hours straight”) is likely a challenge to how he’s set up his life. Even if you’re not criticizing his choices, he’s seeing it that way. Unfortunately, there’s no winning here- find a new job.

    6. Anonsie

      It sounds like he’s going to needle you no matter what you do. Do his passive-aggressive complaints tend to line up with times that he’s busy or stressed or in a bad mood? Like, when he’s in a good mood he’s fine with you taking part of Weds out to sleep but then later he’s in a grumpy mood and decides to take it out on you? Or is he just always giving you the ok and then immediately turning on his heel about it? Either way he’s an unreasonable wad.

      Just make sure you get everything in writing all the time, sending confirmation emails and things like that, so if it comes up in a performance review or he puts you in a PIP or something you have a portfolio of instances where he was the cause of the confusion.

      And also, get a new job eventually. This one isn’t doing you any favors.

    7. Not So NewReader

      This sounds like a company my friend worked for. One of his coworkers did a 36 hour shift. Around the 24th hour, his coworker felt he should not be behind the wheel of a car, so coworker’s wife drove for him. My friend worked 23 hours, went home for an hour of sleep and got yelled at for it.

      There is a technical term for places like this: HELL.

      Your boss is sleep deprived and has no idea that he does not make sense in conversation. This is why they use sleep deprivation as a form of torture in prisons. It screws up the mind so badly. You are trying to have a conversation with someone who is exhausted beyond comprehension. It’s not going to work well. I would suggest repeating things back to him.
      You: “So it is okay for me to go home and rest after the all-nighter?”
      Boss: “Yes.”

      Later on:
      Boss: “What the H did you go home and rest for?”
      You: “Boss, you okayed it.”
      Boss: “I did not.”
      You: “I repeated it back to you and asked you if you were okay with me going home for a couple hours and you said yes, again.”

      Get out while you still have your health and you are still able to keep track of your thoughts. Please take care of you.

  94. Rachael

    Hi Everyone, I just heard back from an interview for a Project Manager position, and they want to bring me back in to interview for a Chief of Staff position! I am excited, but a little unsure exactly what a chief of staff does? It would be for a large healthcare nonprofit.

    Thanks in advance for help! I’m excited/ freaking out a little!

    1. Jillociraptor

      As a chief of staff…I wish it were easy to answer this question! It means a lot of different things depending on your context and the needs of the leader you’re supporting. In some cases, you’re literally the direct manager for everyone who reports to the leader, so they drive vision and strategy, and you manage the people and execution part.

      My role is more as an adviser and tracker. So I help my boss collect context as she makes decisions, help her keep track of all the stuff she needs to do and its context, and manage logistical stuff like communications, drafting anything major that comes out of her inbox. Basically like an executive assistant + special adviser. My job is one where you just need to be able to wear lots of different hats, and be whoever it is your boss needs to to be to achieve her priorities. It’s a very interesting job!

    2. Spiky Plant

      It really depends on the organizations. It’s traditionally a high-level job where you’re managing high level staff/being a #2, but lately I’ve been seeing a lot of mid-level “right-hand of the CEO” CoS positions that include a lot of executive assistant type duties, such as setting appointments for the CEO or managing their calendar.