open thread – May 22, 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 :)

{ 1,293 comments… read them below }

  1. Anie*

    Hey fellow posters! I asked for some advice last week on how to handle my boss quitting.

    So a large part of her work is being placed on me. The COO (my boss’s boss) has not made time to talk with me yet. I can’t quite pin her down as she’s in and out of the office so much with conferences and meetings.

    My boss has repeatedly told me that she has told both the COO and the owner that for me to take on so many tasks, I’m either to ditch some of my current duties or have an extra day added (I only work 4 days a week, curently). My boss emphasized that I have a second job and if they chose to offer me that additional day (necessitating me quitting my second job) it would have to be a permanent change made in writing.

    How does something like this work? Right now I’m an at-will, hourly employee. Is that even a possible change? How in the world would something like that be phrased and would it hold up? Is this something I should consider/trust? In the long run, my boss brought up getting it in writing because neither of us trust the COO or owner to keep their word.

    I am still going to bring up working longer hours on the days I come in, as an alternative. I mean, I leave at 3:30, for crying out loud…

    1. Stephen King's Constant Reader*

      I don’t see the issue with you staying later, either, as COB is 5pm at most places (or so they say!).

    2. Colette*

      Since you don’t trust them, I don’t think getting it in writing will work. I’d suggest being straightforward about what you’re willing to do – which might be that you can work more hours four days a week but aren’t available otherwise.

    3. Meg Murry*

      If you are currently an hourly employee, I’m assuming you currently work less than full time if you are 4 days (maybe 35-32 hours?). So they are talking about increasing your hours or making it a full time position, yes? I would ask if it’s temporary until they hire a replacement for your boss, or whether you are being promoted to your boss’s duties or what. Unless you have a contract that says you only work X hours a week, they can ask hourly employees to work more hours (and get paid accordingly). However, if the number of hours a week you work reaches a certain average, you would qualify as full time for things like insurance eligibility under the ACA.

      Even in writing, they could ask you to increase your hours to full time, and then later decide to decrease back to part time – however, in the US, I believe in most states being cut from full time back to part time makes you eligible to file for unemployment to make up the difference.

      I would definitely have a chat as to how long they expect you to keep up more hours, so you can either say “can’t do, I can’t quit my other job for this” or “ok, but I still have to be able to work at my other job” or “Ok, I’ll quit my 2nd job to work here more hours”.

    4. Erin*

      I would e-mail the COO, maybe CCing your current boss and the owner, asking for an official meeting with her to discuss the transition. I would offer suggestions to your increasing workload and see what she says. It sounds like you’re willing to be flexible – you can quit your second job if they’re able to offer you more full time hours, or you can extend your hours on your current days, or maybe you could even delegate your lesser responsibilities to someone else.

      It seems like you know all of that and the bigger issue is the COO being unresponsive and is untrustworthy. I’m suggesting e-mail because that way you have everything documented – like your boss said, get it in writing. If the transition takes places and nothing has changed, I would again track things via email. “So and so, I got A, B, C, and D done this week but I was unable to finish E and F. Please let me know if I should be prioritizing things differently.” Then reiterate your offers to be hired on for more hours, or to delegate some of your duties to someone else – whatever makes the most sense to get the job done. They may be ignoring you now but if work isn’t getting done they might be more likely to take an action.

      Absolute worst case scenario you end up not working there anymore and your current boss can be a reference for you.

      On a personal note, I was in a weird, two-job situation with neighboring offices who now “share” me. It was a unique and unprecedented situation but it ended up working out. Weird situations like yours come up and can be resolved – assuming of course you can actually touch base with the higher ups.

    5. Oatmeal*

      Do you currently have a contract? I’d just ask for them to draft a new contract that lays out the details of the new arrangement. (I’m from Canada, though – I think employment contracts are more common here than in the US.)

    6. land of oaks*

      I think the ‘in writing’ part could be as simple as an offer letter, a simple letter/email that states what your job title is, your salary and sometimes your expected work hours. Yes you are at will, but that provides something in writing you can use in the case of wage theft, etc.

      But honestly, in a case like this, I would want a new job description complete with all the new tasks, and the new hours and confirming your salary/wage. And it doesn’t sound like you trust them very much, so I don’t know if they would actually follow through with that. But you could write up a new job description and just send it to them and ask them to approve it?

  2. Stephen King's Constant Reader*

    Everyone do the Friday dance! (Weekend workers, I am sooo sooo sorry). Any tips for how my colleague and I can broach the issue of getting things done while our boss is out on leave without seeming like we’re trying to completely bypass her?

    Although I’ve been here longer, my colleague is more senior than I am, so effectively she’ll become the “Boss” while our real boss is out for a month and some change. That means she’ll be having the weekly debriefs with my boss’s boss (we’ll call her Big Boss). Boss really does not get anything done, although she blows a lot of steam about being busy. She tells everyone that there just aren’t enough hours in the day to push forth real initiatives for our office and calls everyone else incompetent, when in reality she just doesn’t want to do the job (she’s never here, she procrastinates everything, etc.). The kicker is that my colleague and I have done some of these things for her already, so it’s at the point where all she has to do is literally read and approve. However, she does not do any of this, plus more. She cracks down on us if we remind her to do these things, saying she’ll get to it, it’ll be done in whatever timeline, and it never happens. It has been this way since she was hired, so totally unrelated to the current medical leave. Do not ask me why she is getting paid to do nothing.

    So since my colleague will be meeting with Big Boss, we see a real opportunity here to just get things done. One of the issues here is the fact that in the past, Boss has complained to Big Boss (and many others, including me) about my colleague being too proactive and essentially trying to sidestep her when she’d first started. To be clear, my colleague really just had good intentions with certain projects and was trying to help, but Boss totally took that the wrong way. My colleague probably should have waited to assess the culture in the office before trying to do some things, but I couldn’t exactly tell her not to do her job because actual Boss does not want to do work. So Boss came down hard on her for some of those things and complained to many people in the process. Basically, we know that Big Boss may be tainted because of this.

    Does anyone have any suggestions for how she can phrase some of the things that we have in the pipeline but essentially just need a green light from a higher power? We don’t want to make it seem like she’s just ambitious to a fault and was basically waiting for Boss to go out on medical leave before trying to appeal to Big Boss about certain projects. I want to be clear that some of these ideas even came from Boss—they are written out, completed, but then she just won’t do anything about them! It’s SO frustrating, because it’s really important work but it makes it look like we just sit around doing nothing at all when she doesn’t just do what she says she’ll do (and, might I add, this is literally her job. Nothing extra). Thoughts and suggestions?

      1. Stephen King's Constant Reader*

        Thanks! I can totally relate although I’m a Kindle girl, but there is a clear disproportion when it comes to my SK books vs. any other books.

      2. knitcrazybooknut*

        I had to set aside an entire set of shelves for my collection! Thank goodness for the Stephen King Library subscription service. Filled in my missing books and sends me the new ones at about half the cover price.

        1. Stephen King's Constant Reader*

          o_O what is this magical service you speak of? Currently Googling….

          1. knitcrazybooknut*

            I’m assuming you found it. Every year they send a Stephen King Desk Calendar, which we used for a couple of years, but I finally told them, look, here’s the list of what I have. Send only anything that’s not on the list. So now I only get the new releases on the release date for about $19. Love it!

    1. R10Tact*

      If it’s a known fact that your colleague is your boss’s delegate when she’s out of the office – it should be fine to talk to the Big Boss and send your boss an email letting her know that you’ve covered X, Y and Z and how you’ve tackled everything , so she remains in the loop. Even if she’s not a delegate – I think it would be ok to approach the situation the same way.

      1. Stephen King's Constant Reader*

        I like this suggestion! I guess our main concern, though, is phrasing the requests in a way that allows us to get the green light from Big Boss in the first place. Like I said, she may already be slightly tainted, so we don’t want it to come off like my colleague is trying to get around her, because that’s basically what Boss was telling people she was doing.

        1. R10Tact*

          I guess something along the lines off “Hi, there…In our update with the Big Boss today we covered X; Y and Z and provided solutions/ updates/ feedback on the matter. Please let us know if you have any questions?”

          I think if you put it forward as a “we made you look good and now you know” kind of way (way way more subtle) rather than a “while you were away…we were rockstars” – i don’t think there should be any repercussions.

          1. R10Tact*

            Adding to that…if she’s a good manager (which maybe she isn’t so much) – she’ll appreciate that you and your colleague have addressed things in her absence. If she’s a craptastic manager…she’ll have a bone to pick with you regardless and you can keep going knowing you did what you had to do to get the job done – and going around her wasn’t a factor.

            1. Stephen King's Constant Reader*

              She is a craptastic manager! This is just one concern in a whole list of things but going off of what you say in your previous post, I’m hoping that we can pose this in a way where she can’t possibly be mad that we went ahead and did these things.

              1. Mike C.*

                Here’s the thing – she’s going to be mad. Accept it, kick some ass while she’s away, and then you and your team will have a ton of leverage when you want to get other things done.

                1. CAsey*

                  Yep. That’s exactly what I would have done. Making sure that I am not stepping on any toes and CYA-ing with Big Boss approvals like nobody’s business, of course. Its a nice opportunity to change your Big Boss’ perception of your colleagues, too.

                  Have you considered that Boss actually DID take these projects to Big Boss and Big Boss said ‘no’ or ‘not at this time’? How do you know she’s just sitting on them without any influence from her leader?

    2. Ama*

      How about “So we’ve reached a stage on this project where we’d normally ask Boss to do X so we can move forward. Is it okay to go ahead, or should we wait until Boss gets back?” You do risk Big Boss saying to wait, but at least then your coworker won’t be overstepping — and if Boss does get irked at least you’ll have the backup of Big Boss saying you could go ahead.

      1. Erin*

        This sounds perfect to me.

        Is Boss checking e-mail while she’s on leave? Keeping her in the loop with the goings-on would be a good idea. If Big Boss approves something and you’re emailing about it, CC the Boss.

        Also, even if Boss is a slacker, why would she mind other people getting stuff done? That’s weird, but you probably already know that.

        1. Stephen King's Constant Reader*

          I really wish I could tell you. She’s a strange mix of being so hands-off that we have to pick up the slack for her, but also freaking out and saying “I’ve never seen this before! How dare you go around me!” And I’m pretty much like….look you can’t have it both ways. It’s either you want to be involved or not.

      2. Meeee*

        The advantage of this is also that now Big Boss knows that X, Y, and Z are mostly ready to roll, so when Boss gets back hopefully Big Boss will hound her to actually get those things done!

        1. Stephen King's Constant Reader*

          This is actually a great point. I’m hoping Big Boss does do this!

      3. JenGray*

        I agree that it’s probably best to phrase it in a way where you have done all you can do and am just waiting for approval to move forward. Also, from what you explained I think that if you let Big Boss know that you have quite a few projects done that are just waiting for approval maybe she will see that Boss is not as busy as she claims. I know it’s a tough situation but you might actually get something done if you approach it slowly and see Big Bosses reaction

      4. Not So NewReader*

        I used this approach with Worst-Boss-of-My-Life (WBML). It worked! And the reason that it worked is because Big Boss was verrry happy. Because the Big Boss was not yelling, WBML was in control of her emotions.

        I am sure in the long run she was not pleased. But it took her a while to find other things to get upset over.

  3. Anie*

    Side question. I’m interviewing at other companies. Two days ago I had a short phone screen with an HR person. He sent me to his boss for a second HR phone interview the next day (though I never got his boss’s email).

    I’m sending a thank you email to the first person. Should I mention the second person and thanking them or just let it go on the assumption that if he wanted me to have his email, he wouldn’t have set the interview up through his assistant?

    Also, the second person has already said they’re passing me along to the actual department the position is in for further consideration.

    1. Adam*

      I was told that you send thank you notes to everyone who interviewed you if you can. If you don’t have an email for some of them then mention them in the one email you do send:

      “I’d like to thank you and Ms. Smith for taking the time to interview me yesterday…”

      Good luck!

      1. EmilyG*

        I do the “I’d like to thank you, Bob, Mary, and Sarah” thing because in my industry it is common to assemble panels of 6-8 people for even first round interviews (I’m not saying this is a good idea!) and it’s hard to write non-form-emails to that many people. I know when I’m on a panel, we forward thank-yous to each other, so I assume that will be done when I’m the interviewee as well. I’m not saying that sending messages to all of them isn’t a good idea, but if it doesn’t make sense for other reasons (too many of them, nothing individual to say, don’t have their contact info), it doesn’t seem like a black mark not to do it.

        1. Adam*

          Yeah. On every panel there’s usually a designated “lead”. If you make sure to contact that person but mention everyone who was there you’re probably gold.

          1. College Career Counselor*

            If you can’t mention everyone because you literally met 30+people (hello, higher education interviews!), you can also ask that your thanks be conveyed to others you met during your time at the organization. One more reason to send email thank-you notes–they’re easily forwarded.

        2. CoffeeLover*

          Awkward when you forget someone’s names. I once had to write “I’d like to thank you and your colleagues.” Not my best moment, but I didn’t get a job offer from them :P.

          Always, always ask for business cards.

          1. Revanche*

            I’d hope a reasonable person wouldn’t take that personally. Some of us just stink at names. Heck, there were days I couldn’t remember my actual coworkers’ names because there were so many of them and I am badbadbad at names and faces. It’s like my brain doesn’t want to store that information since I see them regularly anyway.

            1. CoffeeLover*

              I feel your pain. I’m AWFUL at names. I’ve gotten pretty adept at avoiding mentioning someone’s name as a result.

    2. edj3*

      If I don’t have all the email addresses, I ask the ones that I do have to forward on my thanks.

    3. Rex*

      If you know his name, you can probably guess his email based on the naming convention of the first person. I think I would err on the side of sending a thoughtful, unobtrusive, thank you email.

      1. Karowen*

        The only problem with this is if someone else in the company already had that email address, they’ll get something different. So Sam Smith may be ssmith, sasmith, samsmith, etc., or they may go by Sam but their first name is actually Nathan and their email address is n(/na/nat/nath)smith.

        I’d send the email to the one person you spoke to, ask them to pass your thanks to the other person, and leave it at that.

        1. Nancie*

          Then you have someone like me who accidentally misrepresents the email address convention.

          Actual convention: first six letters of your last name, followed by your first initial. No punctuation between the two.

          My email address: appears to be my last name. Because it’s seven letters long, and the seventh letter is identical to my first initial. :)

        2. Kelly L.*

          Yup, or it’ll be truncated at a certain number of letters. Mine’s klastna, not klastname. But you wouldn’t get that if you met ssmith, whose name is short enough that it wasn’t truncated.

  4. Former Diet Coke Addict*

    I haven’t had a story about my boss lately–but this week I returned from a week away visiting my parents, where we discovered my dad has fairly advanced esophageal cancer. As you can probably imagine, my week was not great. When I got back, my boss asked “Did you have a nice vacation?” (Ok, maybe he forgot where I was, although I told him) and I said not really, dad’s sick, etc. My boss’s response was “Oh, cancer isn’t that big a deal any more. They’ve got great treatment options. Don’t worry, your dad will be fine.” So I turned around and left his office without saying anything, because as with so many things he says, there’s no response.

    As terrible as my boss is (complete whackaloon! And terrible manager who doesn’t say anything to employees who outright refuse to do tasks! Ever! Once told me to plan better when I had a mortifying incident where I bled through my clothes!) I’m putting my job search on hiatus for the time being. Summer is very slow for us, and I want to expend my emotional energy on my family rather than the job – searching slog.

    1. HigherEd Admin*

      I’m so sorry to hear about your dad, and wish him the best of luck with treatment — and you the best of luck in dealing with this news.

      I can only hope your boss thought he was being supportive and optimistic, even though it sounded like he was minimizing the situation (and your feelings about it).

      1. afiendishthingy*

        Yeah, I want to give him the benefit of the doubt here that he thought that was a supportive comment, but what an UTTERLY thoughtless thing to say. I’m sorry you have to put up with comments like that while also dealing with such a tough family situation.

    2. Carrie in Scotland*

      FDCA that is truly awful. Your boss is a terrible human being, like seriously what a d*ck (and I say this as a daughter whose mum died of cancer).

    3. Holly Olly Oxen Free*

      I’m sorry about your dad.

      Your boss sounds terrible, but I can also see how what he said may have been a poor attempt at making you feel better. Of course it won’t, but I think people often try to buck people up by downplaying what they are dealing with, as if to make it seem not so bad and more deal-able. Also, a lot of people have absolutely no idea what to say about cancer. Really, there is nothing to say except sorry you’re dealing with that and try to be supportive as best as possible.

        1. Holly Olly Oxen Free*

          My spouse had stage IV colon cancer and was given a 6% chance of survival (luckily he’s in remission now) but I found during that time that absolutely NO ONE had any idea what to say to me. Mostly it was silence and awkwardness and eventually a lot of people came out and told me that they just don’t know what to say and they feared it came off insensitive. I learned from that not to judge peoples responses to cancer news. It’s one of those things that scares the crap out of everyone and no one really knows how to deal with it.

          That’s not to say it doesn’t hurt when someone says the wrong thing. But in hindsight it might make it easier to not think badly of that person as you go forward.

    4. KJR*

      I can’t stand when people say, “oh don’t worry, everything will be fine!” Because really, how do they know?? It may not be fine. I feel as if they’re uncomfortable and don’t really know what to say, so this is their way of changing the subject to something more manageable to them.

      I’m sorry to hear about you dad. I sincerely hope they are able to treat him, and that he will be OK. It sounds like your plan of putting the job search on hold while you deal with family issues is a wise choice. One emotionally draining thing at a time. Good luck to you and your family!

      1. edj3*

        Similarly, I detest the “when one door shuts, another will open” or even worse, “Someday you’ll look back at this as being the best thing that ever happened.” Um no. Just no.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I hate that first one too, especially when they don’t. I think people say things like that just to have something to say. Sometimes, it’s best just to say, “I’m sorry,” or “That sucks,” and stop there.

        2. Carrie in Scotland*

          I’m sometimes very blunt about it and go “oh yes, my mother dying was the best thing”.

          Relatedly, I was volunteering an extra day on our Mother’s Day day (back in March in the UK) and obviously conversation turned to what we got our mum’s. And I said, I didn’t get her anything because she was dead – to be fair, I actually thought the person I was speaking with knew but clearly not. I do sometimes feel bad for being so blunt but *shrugs* …I don’t know – it’s not easy.

        3. Lucky*

          How about “everything happens for a reason”?
          Yeah, my dad died because he had cancer. That’s the reason.

          1. Windchime*

            That’s the one I hate the worst. “Everything happens for a reason.” Yes. These people can never explain to me what the reason is for innocents being abused or good people dying of a horrible disease; it all goes back to “faith” at that point.

            Hate, hate, hate it when people say this. It sounds so flip.

              1. Chartreuse*

                Why doesn’t it make sense? It isn’t very consoling, I’ll grant you, but it isn’t illogical or untrue. It’s kind of a non-statement like saying “Things are what they are.” Which is perfectly true, even if not very informative.

                There is in fact a reason for everything. Sometimes a good reason, sometimes a bad reason, sometimes a neutral reason. What’s the reason I was late for work? Because I was hung over (bad reason). Because on my way out to my car I saw my neighbor was having a serious allergic reaction, so I assisted them to locate and use their kit and avoid death by anaphylaxis (good reason). What’s the reason innocents are abused? Because other people choose to commit evil against them (bad reason). What’s the reason good people die of horrible diseases? Same reason bad people die of the horrible diseases: the body system was so disrupted by the disease that it couldn’t continue to function (neutral reason).

                Possibly what irritates people about the phrase, or where the question strays into matters of faith, is when people use the phrase to mean more than just “there is a reason” and what they actually mean to say is “there is a good reason.” I can see where that could sound trite if uttered cavalierly by someone outside the situation, but I’ve heard the concept uttered about themselves by some who are suffering terribly. It doesn’t sound trite then. I actually find their steadfast hope that somewhere, somehow there is a good reason for what is happening to them to be deeply moving. It gives them a positive outlook in the midst of a terrible situation. You can see that it benefits them. Who can argue with that?

                And who knows, perhaps the people who say it to others aren’t saying it cavalierly after all, perhaps they’ve seen firsthand the benefits the concept has given to certain sufferers, and are thinking it will provide the same benefit to the one to whom they are speaking. Not everyone is as consoled by the it, though, so their good intentions can backfire, unfortunately.

                1. Elizabeth West*

                  I can. I can argue with you all day long. I probably should have been a lawyer. :)

                  Not everyone shares the same faith. Most people say that in response to something another person did, or an illness, but not everyone believes God controls every tiny little thing. And I’ve heard too many people say it when the circumstances don’t warrant it, because they feel the have to say something and they pulled it out of their butts, or because it’s an opportunity for them to push their faith on the person they’re saying it to (I live in the Bible Belt; f*cked-up religious stuff is really common here).

                  When people are in pain, they don’t give a rat’s rear end about reasons. They need consolation, not logic. That’s a conversation for later, when they need to pick apart what happened, and it’s one THEY should initiate.

                2. Chartreuse*

                  “It’s one they should initiate”
                  But that’s precisely what I’m talking about – as I said, I know people who *themselves* in the midst of the horrors that life throws at them (and cancer and its complications are nothing short of a horror) say that they believe it is happening to them for a reason. And it is obvious when they say it that the thought gives them great consolation and keeps their outlook positive. I’m certainly not about to tell them that it’s a stupid thought, that they shouldn’t care a rat’s rear end about reasons and that they shouldn’t take consolation in that idea! How cruel of me would that be when clearly it is helping them?

                3. Holly Olly Oxen Free*

                  I have never in my life heard someone say “everything happens for a reason” when they aren’t implying that there is something good to come out of it down the line. It’s also rarely true. In most cases, the good thing would happen independent of the bad thing happening. It’s also insensitive to the pain people feel when dealing with some kind of loss. It implies that they shouldn’t be as devastated and should instead feel good that something positive is coming out of it.

                4. Chartreuse*

                  Yes, Holly, I agree that’s the usual meaning. I acknowledged as much in the second from last paragraph (actually both of the final two paragraphs) of my original post.

                5. Elizabeth West*

                  @Chartreuse
                  I never said you should say that to them instead. Where the bloody hell did you get that? I mean that in the middle of pain, many people don’t want to hear that it’s “happening for a reason.” They want the pain to stop. If they’re not saying this platitude to themselves, then I doubt they want to hear someone else say it.

                  If they want to talk, they’ll initiate the conversation, is what I meant.

                6. Chartreuse*

                  Sorry, Elizabeth, I guess I misunderstood. Where I got it from was when you said you’d be willing to argue about it, in response to my saying that in these cases it is clearly helping them to stay positive “and who can argue with that?” I wouldn’t argue against something that’s clearly helping someone; it sounded at first like you would. But from your clarification it sounds like you wouldn’t. Fair enough.

                  I certainly agree with you that it is not a very consoling platitude in itself and can definitely come off as trite and cavalier if uttered by someone outside the situation (I said all that already in my original post). However, when uttered by someone actually *in* the horrible situation, I find the steadfast hope and positivity that it expresses deeply moving. Here’s somebody going through more than I can even imagine and yet they have this strength…I mean, it is one thing to be joyful when life is going well, but life isn’t going well for them. At all. And yet they are joyful. It is an amazing and humbling thing to witness.

            1. Holly Olly Oxen Free*

              A friends mom once said to us that people are abused, starving, and dying so that others can live better lives. It’s how the universe balances itself out. Yup. She actually said that.

              1. Chartreuse*

                Agree with you, Holly, that’s an appalling point of view!

                (Assuming she meant it as a good thing – I do think that we do unfortunately have despicable situations in the world where some people enjoy “better lives” at the expense of others whom they exploit, however I consider that a very *bad* thing, a thing that we should all work to change in whatever ways we are capable of)

          2. afiendishthingy*

            UGH I hate that. Can’t believe people actually say that to the bereaved.

          3. nona*

            I hate that one!

            I think (?) people who say this find it comforting to tell themselves, and guess it’ll be the same to tell someone. No :(

      2. Jennifer*

        Oh, I hate that. It’s like “shut up and be happy, dammit” when someone tells me everything will be fiiiiiiiiiiiiine.

      3. Observer*

        As someone said to me is a somewhat different context, “Really? When was the last time he had a conversation with G-d?”

    5. Future Analyst*

      Sorry to hear about your dad. Your boss is completely out of line, and I’m sorry you have to deal with him on top of everything else!

    6. A Definite Beta Guy*

      Sorry to hear about your father, FDCA. I do hope he recovers and you can have a less stressful week ahead.

      Once told me to plan better when I had a mortifying incident where I bled through my clothes!

      Does your Boss think your workplace is a Monty Python skit or something? :/

    7. Beancounter in Texas*

      I’m sorry to hear about your father and I hope everything works out for the best.

      It sounds like your boss generally doesn’t want to manage people and deal with other people’s problems.

    8. Dang*

      Wow. Your boss is unbelievable. The crazy thing is I’d bet he THOUGHT he was being helpful and/or compassionate, but wow did the come off terribly. I had forgotten about the “plan better” story… wow. I hope you can get out of there. He’s nuts.

      I’m so sorry to hear about your dad and hope you and your family are coping okay.

    9. Risa*

      My Brother-in-law’s father was diagnosed with esophageal cancer last year – late stages with a fairly grim prognosis. However, they have made great advances with the treatment for that form of cancer, and today he is in remission. It was a rough go for him – the treatment was quite harsh and he lost a ton of weight. He still suffers from severe dry mouth, coughs/clears his throat a lot, and has some difficulty swallowing. He can’t eat some of the things he used to because of that. So, not to mimic your awful dismissive boss, but in the experience with my family, there is still some room for hope, even with a dire prognosis. I truly hope your father can get the care and treatment he needs to overcome this. And as the daughter of a woman who lost her battle with breast cancer, I wish you and your family the best in coping with his illness. Being a caregiver is a really hard job – be sure to take care of yourself and for your mother to take care of herself while all this is going on.

    10. Revanche*

      UGH. Your boss is the worst. Does anyone who spouts “it’ll be fine” or “everything happens for a reason” actually think they’re being helpful? Because if so, we need a PSA that it’s a jerk move.

      I’m sorry it’s been such a tough week.

    11. AnonAnalyst*

      Wow, somehow every story I hear about your boss still shocks me! You’d think at some point I would just expect the dysfunction, but clearly not.

      I’m sorry about your dad. I hope there’s a treatment that will work and he’ll make a full recovery.

    12. nep*

      Ugh. Talk about uncouth.
      So sorry you’re having to face this situation of your dad’s illness — and the horrible boss on top of that.
      Take care of yourself. All the best.

    13. Aunt Vixen*

      I’m so sorry about your dad. Esophageal cancer tends to sneak up on people, because there’s so much room for it to grow before it gets in the way and you start feeling it. I hope his doctors are able to pursue an aggressive course of treatment and he makes a full and lasting recovery.

    14. M*

      Hugs. My dad was diagnosed with esophogeal cancer a couple years ago, he had his entire esophogus removed but is now in remission. Feel free to email me if you’d like to know more about the process and recovery, as another poster said the treatment for this type of cancer has come a LONG way in the past several years. When he was first diagnosed I read some scary stats, but the prognosis for many is not a grim as it used to be.

    15. Chloe*

      I’m sorry about your father :-(

      Wow, your boss sounds like a massive ass wipe! I understand the drain of job searching. Maybe you’ll hear something from jobs you’ve applied for already. When I first got hired at my current job, I got a couple of calls from jobs I didn’t even remember applying for. That’s how long ago it was.

    16. JenGray*

      What a terrible thing for a manger to say to you. I am so sorry to hear that your dad has it and I wish you guys the best of luck on dealing with it. Cancer is a big deal. Yes, nowadays there are more treatments but it is still a very crappy thing to have to deal with.

    17. Not So NewReader*

      This is what happens when people who do not know what to say keep talking. They make themselves look foolish (at best) and really tick off the person they are speaking to because they have just minimized/ wiped out their concern.

      I am so sorry all this is happening to you. It’s some of the roughest stuff in life. You and yours are in my thoughts.

    18. Lady H*

      I’m so sorry to hear about your dad’s diagnosis. My dad had the same (late stage) and at the time, I also had a horrible boss*. Sending good thoughts of hope and strength to your family!

      *I worked for a furniture store that also sold some vintage items, and when I mentioned that my dad had the same (beautiful) stereo system that was in our shop, my boss made a comment about how when I should sell him the stereo when my dad died. As a “joke”. Of the many indignities that still haunt me about working retail, that’s near the top.

    19. Former Diet Coke Addict*

      Thanks to all of you for your extremely thoughtful comments! You are all very kind, and I would be beyond proud to work for or with any one of you. Thanks for all your lovely thoughts and being an excellent sounding boards for not only employment-related issues, but life ones as well.

  5. Holly Olly Oxen Free*

    I’m writing some technical documents for work and have been told to consider that some of my audience may not be English speaking and I should keep that in mind when writing my English reference guides. These aren’t being translated and I’m writing as simple and straight forward as I can.

    For example:

    “You must do X action before Y action.”
    “The purpose of this task is to X, Y, and Z.”
    “Do not ever do A, B, or C.”
    “Steps:
    1. Click D
    2. Click F
    3. Enter such and such here.
    4. Click submit”

    I have not ever written for multiple audiences like this before. I feel like I can’t get anymore straightforward than what I’m already doing. Yet, that is the feedback I am getting.

    Are there things I should consider that I probably am not thinking about? How can I effectively write English technical documents for people who don’t speak English? (My guess is that they do know some English or can read a little, otherwise this seems a rather impossible request.)

    Would love some advice on this so I can make sure everyone gets what they need out of my documentation.

      1. Holly Olly Oxen Free*

        Yes, there are screenshots that are numbered for the steps they have to complete.

        1. Meg Murry*

          Are you putting circles or arrows on the spots they need to click? I’ve seen some mediocre documentation that had screen shots but would just say “click the query icon” and nowhere in the documentation did it say which icon was the “query” icon, and its not that that is an intuitive or descriptive icon, like “the phone icon” or “the paintbrush icon” might be.

          1. Holly Olly Oxen Free*

            I’m trying to revamp the mediocre documentation they already have, so I know exactly what you mean. The way I have it is the list of steps at the top. Then the screenshot below it. The fields they need to enter are numbered in the screenshot, accordingly with the steps. On some documentation I had arrows pointing to the numbers and at the end of the arrow the step. But in those cases it wasn’t in order so I thought it wasn’t as clear as listing the steps in order and just numbering the fields to match the listed steps.

            1. KMA*

              It sounds like you have this set up as
              [Complete List of Steps]
              [Screenshot]

              Can you break up the screenshot and intersperse it with the steps? Like
              1. Do X.
              [Screenshot of X]
              2. Do Y
              [Screenshot of Y]
              3. Do Z
              [Screenshot of Z]

              That might be easier for people to follow, instead of of having to keep looking between the steps and the screenshot.

              1. Holly Olly Oxen Free*

                I could try something like that. It would work if this was something that had an orderly flow on the page. But this is kind of like a bunch of actions in a small area. The page won’t refresh and load a new image between actions and step 1 might be a button at the bottom of the page, step 2 at the top, step 3 at the bottom again, step 4 on the right, step 5 at the left. So I feel like breaking it up could make it confusing about where they should be doing the steps without seeing them in real relation to each other.

                But I haven’t tried it so I could play around and see how it goes.

            2. Meadowsweet*

              Could you try putting the screenshot first, then the steps? We’re pretty visual creatures, even those of us who prefer text :)

              1. Elizabeth West*

                No, you need to have the screenshot after the text. People’s eyes go down the page, not up and back. That will frustrate them and they won’t read it.

                1. Meadowsweet*

                  Ok, but this is a reference manual – their eyes are expected to be moving back and forth. The issue is making it as easy as possible to understand, particularly for users whose first language may not be English or who may not usually read the way English readers do (top left -> bottom right)
                  Placing the screenshot at the top facilitates finding by image, if a user finds that easier, and having a main image in a consistent place for each topic helps comprehension – the user has a visual before reading the steps so they have an understanding of the space in which that step occurs and it’s a static reference point instead of a moving one (if the screenshot is at the end you get situations where for topic X the screenshot is at the end of 3 steps, for topic Y it’s 27 steps with half of them and the picture on the next page, for topic Z it’s after 8 steps but because those 8 steps are long the image is by itself on the next page).

                2. Elizabeth West*

                  They might go right to left in another language, but they’re not going to read from the bottom to the top. I guess it doesn’t matter much, as long as it’s consistent throughout the document.

      1. A Definite Beta Guy*

        Yes, I would definitely ask for specific feed-back, and ask for an example SOP already approved.

        General advice? Sentences need to be short as possible. Always explain things in bullet-points lists when possible.

        “You must do X action before Y action.”
        That probably won’t work.

        1. Do X.
        2. Do Y.

        Disclaimer: my experience is entirely with outsourced accounting work in India and the Philippines. This may not translate to, say, Java programmers in Slovakia.

        1. Holly Olly Oxen Free*

          These are going to software engineers, technical architects, etc. type roles, world wide. Another reason it has to be super simple. So many different languages.

        2. Nancie*

          Numbering the steps is an excellent idea, but you should also add something like “X must be done first.” or “Wait for X to complete.” after step 1. (Wait for X to complete could even be step 2, bumping “Do Y” to step 3.) Otherwise you will get people who think it’s ok to, at the least, do X and Y virtually simultaneously.

      2. the gold digger*

        When I do that kind of thing, I try to user test it. I had a meeting this morning with someone to review a presentation I am preparing for her group. I thought I had a decent outline of topics, but it only took her a few minutes to say, “Yeah, but we’re going to want to know about A, B, and C.”

        So perhaps review a draft with a non-native speaker to identify what works and what doesn’t?

        1. Artemesia*

          User testing is always the key whether the people using it are English speakers or not. It is the nature of expertise that sometimes it is hard to imagine people without out it and what questions they will have. (I am struggling with a new sony point and shoot that is fairly advanced and complicated and has a manual written by someone who assumes a lot)

          I once designed an incredibly elegant survey research instrument in which people filled in responses on a matrix. It took only a page compared to 4 or 5 if each questions was asked separately and was totally simple and easy to use. Thank goodness I tested it because about two thirds of the people using it panicked at the very sight of a matrix — we had to go back to the drawing board on that.

    1. the_scientist*

      I would aim for about a grade 7 reading level, and make sure you are not including acronyms (or are very careful about spelling them out initially) and providing a definition of particularly technical terms where possible.

      1. Holly Olly Oxen Free*

        I’ve been writing acronyms out initially. Unfortunately my company uses endless acronyms. I have to include them because they won’t here it said fully in real life. But I do write it out and then put the acronym following it.

        I have not done definitions for technical terms and I was thinking that may be where I was falling short. Despite how clear the directions are, I can’t quite figure out how to write technical concepts in simple ways. But definitions are a good idea.

          1. Holly Olly Oxen Free*

            I’m creating a complete user guide for a software program that we use internally. In there I will have a list of acronyms. However, I also need to create a number of QRGs and I’m finding I don’t have the space for stuff like that. Some of the older documentation that was created before I came onboard here had 7-10 page QRGs, which of course are anything but quick. I’ve been tasked with getting them down to two pages, max. I’ve been pretty successful, but if I add more the pages will look like a wall of text, which I am really trying to avoid. I also do not want to cover screenshots with text, so that minimizes my text space as well.

            1. Meg Murry*

              A QRG to the QRG acronyms? Including QRG? Sorry, had to go there.

              Do you have a friend outside your industry who can read through it and play “spot the acronym”? I’ve found that over time, people who are used to certain acronyms don’t even notice them as such, so I have to have my husband proofread my work when it’s going to someone outside of my immediate field.

    2. Xarcady*

      I would ask the people telling you this for advice. What exactly are they looking for, since the documents aren’t being translated?

      Elkay’s suggestion of the screenshots is probably on target. If you’ve ever assembled a piece of IKEA furniture, their instructions are completely illustrations with no words–enabling them to sell goods all over the world without translating the instructions.

      So think screenshots. If you are doing instructions for working on a computer, putting the exact text that will be seen on the screen in the instructions. As many visual aids as possible.

        1. Felicia*

          I find IKEA directions impossible too. I think because i’m not naturally very visual, so I understand written instructions far more than pictures.

        2. The IT Manager*

          Ha ha ha! Slightly off topic, I managed to put together a piece of furniture this week. Mostly images, few words.

          I went surprisingly well except when I got to step 16 of 17, I discovered that the drawer rails were in backwards – they went to the back of the cabinet instead of the front. The picture in Step 2 where I attached the rails was unclear as to what was front and back and I misread the picture for all 4 drawer rails. Luckily despite that being in Step 2, I didn’t have to take apart everything to fix it. But then the drawers would NOT go in. Again luckily I eventually grabbed the second drawer and compared – somehow the first drawer was put together opposite making those drawer rails backward too. Seriously don’t know how I mixed up parts N and O on only one of the drawer, but luckily it was on only one. If I managed to mix it up on both then I might never have figured it out.

          To be honest, I am more of a words person. Wish those instructions had a few more words and slightly more clear drawing for those drawer rails. (Some of the other pieces were labeled with an arrow pointing toward the front. Those should have been too!

          1. Holly Olly Oxen Free*

            I’m very visual, so I like picture directions. But it is hard to draw the square side of a desk and indicate exactly which side goes up, down, left or right, when the differences are really minor, like a tiny screw hole on the edge of one side.

            I have done exactly what you did with IKEA furniture, put it together backwards and have to take things apart and start over.

    3. Mockingjay*

      I write a lot of technical procedures. General rules:

      One action per step. List expected result of action after the step, but not numbered.
      1. Press [A].
      A appears on the screen.

      Use action words to begin a step: Select, Click, Double-click.

      Do NOT use the word “Enter” when typing is meant. “Enter” is reserved for pressing the [Enter] key.

      Command sequence. Provide condition and location prior to command. List result of command after. This does not apply to descriptions or expository material. “On the Desktop, double-click My Computer.”

      For multiple fields which must be filled in, display as tabular.
      2. Fill in the fields:
      First Name username
      Last Name username
      Email Address anyone@email.com

      Indicate letter and common keys in square brackets: Press [CTRL] + [ALT] + [A].

      See the Microsoft Manual of Style for Technical Publications. I don’t use all of their formatting; our docs are mostly internal so we don’t need publication-ready items. But it is a good reference.

      1. Holly Olly Oxen Free*

        This is so helpful! Thank you. Some of it I do (action words, providing condition and location prior to command). I never would have thought not to use Enter, but of course that would be confusing. I also don’t list the result or use tabular directions. I’m going to try this and see if I get a better result.

        And thanks for the book reference. I’ve been looking for something like that.

        1. Mockingjay*

          You can usually get the manual for free. When Microsoft updates it, they often offer the previous edition as a free PDF for download. Search online and see if you can find it.

        2. Jen RO*

          I’m pretty sure the MS Manual also includes a section on international audiences. (Fwiw, I’m an ESL tech writer writing for a global audience and Mockingjay’s advice is spot on.)

      2. Elizabeth West*

        Thanks for the tips and book referral–this will help me at work. I know nothing; I just fly by the seat of my pants every day. Talk about impostor syndrome.

    4. jhhj*

      Negation is super complicated and differs in weird ways between languages. “Do not ever do X, Y, Z” is liable to be misinterpreted.

      Always put things in the actual order they have to be done. Don’t use complex clauses. Avoid using passive sentences.

      1. Holly Olly Oxen Free*

        Huh, ok. So if you have to tell someone not to ever do something, what is a better way to phrase it? There are a couple of things that people have been doing that they keep doing unless we explicitly say DO NOT DO THAT. It causes huge system problems and I need to get people to stop doing it.

        1. Mockingjay*

          Insert a Warning or Caution at the step.

          6. To save changes, click OK.
          The system restarts.

          WARNING
          To restart system, click OK only once. Clicking twice will crash the system.

          I center notes and warnings in the page, to differentiate them from steps. Notes are usually informational. Cautions or Warnings are for the “don’t do this” items.

          1. Holly Olly Oxen Free*

            Ok. I can see how that would work for an action that they were doing incorrectly. How about for an action that they shouldn’t do at all.

            For example, the issue we are having is there is a field that has data in it that can be altered but should not be. They don’t need to do anything with this field except not touch it. Instead they are editing it to reflect something that that data is not supposed to be reflecting. So it messes up a bunch of internal records which takes many hours and people to go back and fix.

            So how do I say just never do this? Would it be better to say “If you edit this data, this will happen”? I just don’t want it to be interpreted as something that is supposed to happen.

            1. Meg Murry*

              Maybe “leave field XYZ alone” or “do not change the value of XYZ”?

              Honestly, if people can alter a field that shouldn’t be altered, that is a problem with the coding, not the manual – fields people shouldn’t edit should be locked down, with varying levels of access for different users.

              1. Holly Olly Oxen Free*

                “leave field XYZ alone”

                That might be the best option. I agree the field shouldn’t be open for editing. I don’t know why it’s not. The only thing I can think is that this is a field for a software program that isn’t ours. Our software program, that is developed internally, is linked to this other software. People go from one to the other for this particular task. The field they are editing is in the one that isn’t ours so coding it differently it may not be as simple as getting something on our own software changed.

            2. Mockingjay*

              I am presuming that several fields are displayed, and only some need to be modified. If that’s the case, provide instructions for the affected fields only.

              If you really need to tell them not to do something:
              WARNING
              Do not change the value of the XYZ field (or the remaining fields). Changing the value results in the world ending.

              1. Holly Olly Oxen Free*

                Honestly, I wanted to avoid the field all together. Show people how to edit what they should be editing and not point them to the other field at all. But I’ve been asked to specifically call it out.

                1. Nancie*

                  You’re already modifying the screen shots, correct? Try crossing out the fields that people aren’t supposed to use, perhaps in red. Then add a note saying something like “Important: ignore all fields X’d out.”

                  If you do use red for the X’s, then you might want to make any number labels and “pay attention to this field/button” circles in a green that contrasts well with the rest of the screen.

                2. Meg Murry*

                  I like the idea of red Xs, with the words “do NOT change crossed out fields”.

                  Or maybe the No symbol (circle with line through it – is that considered universal?)

        2. Clever Name*

          Do not think of an elephant.

          Are you thinking of an elephant now or not? I bet you are. My point is, it’s better to tell people what you do want them to do rather than what you don’t want them to do.

          This probably isn’t something you have control over, but I wonder if there is a way to disable that thing that nobody is supposed to do but everybody does that messes things up.

          1. Holly Olly Oxen Free*

            Ha, that’s funny. My problem is that what I want them to do is to not do something. How about “Never do this”. Would that work better? It’s still kind of the same but its telling them what I want them to do. I want them to never touch this. LOL

            I wish the field was disabled. I’m honestly not 100% sure why it isn’t, but I’m betting there is a reason.

            1. Observer*

              I would put in something like “Change fields a, b, and c. DO NOT touch fields x, y, and z ever. You may only chance fields a,b, and c.”

              Yes, it’s repetitive, but it keeps the focus on what they CAN do, and finished off with that.

          2. Holly Olly Oxen Free*

            Oh, and it’s actually kind of funny that you said this because this particular documentation had a section in the beginning titled “Examples of what not to do”. Of course I immediately changed that to explicit directions about what they should be doing.

            1. Observer*

              The problem is that plenty of people will do the thing they should not because “You never said not to” and / or “You didn’t say what to do with x,y, and z, so I just figured I’d make this change.” This is especially true for people who need the kinds of detailed instructions you are describing.

        3. Beancounter in Texas*

          I referenced a child safety seat manual for an example of “do not ever do this” phrasing, and they just don’t include “ever.” They also use “NOT” in bold. Example: Do NOT place a child restraint in the front seat of a vehicle with a passenger air bag. Important things tend to be separated into their own single sentence paragraph, but I know space is an issue for you.

          Too bad you can’t use the phrase “WARNING: DEATH or SERIOUS INJURY can occur” with your “Do NOT do this” statements.

          1. Holly Olly Oxen Free*

            LOL. My colleague who fixes these problems would probably agree that death or serious injury could actually occur if people don’t stop doing this, because he’s going to hurt them.

        4. jhhj*

          If you need to do that, put each of them in a separate sentence. Instead of writing “Never put a teapot on your head or a tea spout up your nose”, write “Do not put a teapot on your head. Do not put a tea spout up your nose.” Don’t use “not” with “every” or “all” or “each” because those are almost impossible to write without ambiguity, they’re even worse than the weird interactions with “and” and “or”. (“Never” is a weird word and might as well be avoided, “ever” is a terrible word and should always be avoided.)

          “Everyone isn’t happy” — all people are not-happy, or not all people are happy? That’s a canonical example, but other languages will disambiguate differently and it’s so complex and the interactions can be so hard to tease out, avoid it entirely.

    5. ZSD*

      I’ve had experience with non-native speakers having trouble interpreting sentences like your first example. Since the word “before” comes directly “Y,” sometimes people think it’s Y that you should do first (= “before”). So instead of writing, “You must do X action before Y action,” I’d suggest writing, “First, do X action. Then do Y action.”

      1. Holly Olly Oxen Free*

        Another great suggestion. Thanks!

        This is why I wrote my examples. I couldn’t quite figure out how to rephrase things. This makes sense.

    6. Clever Name*

      I am a native English speaker and while I’m not an engineer, I can think like one (I adore IKEA instructions- it’s just like putting a LEGO set together!). I would be confused by your instructions. For engineers in particular, don’t provide a lot of up-front explanation. Just get to the point. I would rethink if the explanations and background info as to why stuff needs to be done in a particular way even need to be included in a technical manual. The purpose of a technical manual is to tell people how to do stuff. I don’t think it really needs to get into the why. With that said, this is how I’d re-write your instructions, as an example of what I’m talking about:

      Step 1. Click [D]
      Step 2. Click [F]
      Step 3. Type: such and such [here]
      Step 4. Click [Submit]

      As for the “You must do X action before Y action.” I would just make that part of the steps. Making instructions sentences and paragraphs instead of bullet point single-step instructions is confusing to many. I would also avoid putting things in quotation marks for when you want people to type in specific words or commands. Many think you are supposed to type in the quotation marks too.

      1. Holly Olly Oxen Free*

        I would rethink if the explanations and background info as to why stuff needs to be done in a particular way even need to be included in a technical manual.

        I have been having this exact conversation with the people I’m answering to for this project. They want a lot of explanation and descriptions of background processes that I feel are 100% unnecessary. They do not need to know why and how things work. Just the exact action they need to do. I’m meeting major resistance. I edit out stuff like that and then send them my version and it comes back with comments to make things more complex.

        1. Holly Olly Oxen Free*

          The fact that I got the original 7 page QRG down to 2 pages should tell you how much extraneous information I’ve removed.

          1. Meg Murry*

            There are some engineer types (like me) that DO want to know the why, or how it works. But that isn’t QRG worthy – that is for an actual manual.

            Could you propose an actual more detailed manual as a later project that goes into the why or how things work, and a QRG for the on the ground average user?

            1. Holly Olly Oxen Free*

              That is exactly what I have proposed and it’s mostly been accepted, but the QRGs I feel still have too much extraneous information. I am also the kind of person who likes to know stuff, just to know. I like knowing how things work. But these are overworked employees who are often working on projects out in the field with customers. They need to complete this task quickly and easily. They already have a lot on their plate and being a software company they are constantly being asked to advance their own knowledge as fast as the field is advancing. I really don’t want to give them something extra to learn that they don’t have to. I want to make it easy for them to do their job and giving them something long is just going to result in them skimming through and missing important details (which is exactly what is happening now).

              But I agree, people DO want to know the why, sometimes. This particular task is not that interesting. LOL

              1. land of oaks*

                Oy, these people you work for are really making your life hard! I’m so sorry! ;)

                One suggestion: can you convince them to START the manual with the explicit instructions up front. Then have an added Background section below with the additional info? Can you explain it as, they only have to read the background info once, but they will need to quickly refer to the instructions multiple times, so you’re making it easier to find?

                Either way, good luck!

                1. Holly Olly Oxen Free*

                  I’ve said exactly that about people only having to read it once.ive been able to get them to agree to a 2 page QRG where all the extraneous information is on one page and a second page has just the steps. That way they can just print the one page with the steps if they want it. Then there will be even more extraneous information in a full user guide.

                  The information they want me to include are sort of like rules. Important rules that people need to know. They may not read a complete user guide so they want the info on the QRG. To some extent I agree but I feel like there’s too much, as that’s not exactly the purpose of a QRG.

                  However, this thread just gave me an idea to do the whole thing as steps, rather than blocks of information that they need to know (really it’s short sentences in bullets). I could just make these part of the steps. I’m going to try that.

        2. the gold digger*

          The “why” is one of the first steps of your change management process. In that step, you (or someone with more power than you in the organization) explain what the change is, why you are doing it, how you are doing it, how it affects your audience, and how you will help them get the information they need to accommodate the change. You tell them when you will be doing the technical training and where they can get user guides.

          The user guide you are writing should not address the whys and the hows – that has already been addressed.

          1. Holly Olly Oxen Free*

            Yup. I agree. I think this is generally the way we are going. The “why” that they keep asking me to include is a bit different. I want to say something like “You do this first and then that information will transfer over to this program. Then you go there and complete these steps.” They want me to tell people the technical process that happens behind the scenes to transfer the information over.

            For example, “You do this first and then that information ill transfer over to this program. It does that because it works like this and here is the process of how it happens. Then you go there and complete these steps.”

            I don’t want to include that middle part.

    7. Elkay*

      I should have also said huge sympathy for the crappy feedback of “I don’t know what to change, just do it better” because that’s always helpful…

    8. matcha123*

      I haven’t read the other replies. but I would re-word the first three as:
      “Do X before Y.”
      “This does X,Y, and z.”
      “Never do A, B, or C.”

      I would suggest browsing some sites for ESL or EFL. That might give you a better idea of how English is presented to non-English speakers. Sentences should be very basic grammar if you believe your audience doesn’t understand English that well.

      Sometimes it’s better to write the technical word rather than a more simple word. For example, in Japan, people know “influenza,” but they don’t know “flu.” They know “refrigerator,” but don’t know “fridge.”

    9. Anx*

      I’m not a technical writer, but I would imagine that it’s inherently difficult to do this in multiple languages. I only studied one foreign language, but I do remember one of the most difficult things to get used to was thinking in a different order, since syntax varies between languages.

    10. misspiggy*

      If you can include visual representations (like screenshots, or flowcharts) of processes, this will definitely help the understanding of people with weak English.

        1. CAsey*

          Actually, that solves your WHY. It explains where everything goes and you can include additional comments in the process of why, if it’s not already clear. (Which it totally will be because you’ll kill it!)

  6. edj3*

    So. I’m off to India to onboard some new associates who will be part of my team (rest are based in the US). I’d love tips/suggestions for fully integrating all members of my team so that all feel both part of the team and on equal footing.

    1. Development professional*

      I worked with a team in India for a while. Is it possible for you to set up a regular conference call that everyone participates in? We used to do a call for the whole team that was in early evening for the India folks and first thing in the work day for the US folks. It was scheduled for once a week, although it would get cancelled about once a month or so if there wasn’t much to discuss. It worked well to just have a round robin of what everyone is working on and deal with any pressing issues. Also something about hearing everyone’s voice on a regular basis really helped mitigate some of the weirdness that comes from email-only communication, especially when you’re bridging cultures that use rather different idioms and expressions even though we all speak the same language.

      1. edj3*

        Yes, we are moving to a Skype-esque solution for video conferencing. We use scrum even though we don’t develop software, so the video will be used for our 15 minute daily meetings.

        Hopefully we’ll be able to start with these video conferences while I’m there with the team, so they can feel comfortable with the process. Did you face any issues with the video conferences, things I should be aware of?

    2. MaryMary*

      If you can arrange to skype or video conference between the two teams, do it. It helps so much when people can see each other, body language, facial expressions. If that’s not possible, some sort of introductory document for both teams with names, a picture, and a brief bio will help put names with faces. Sharing pictures of the different offices might be fun too. Our Indian office was brand new and the team was very proud of it, although I could have done without seeing pictures of the urinals in the men’s room. ;-)

      Are you bringing gifts for your Indian team? At OldJob, when US folks went to India they usually brought American candy, and it was a big hit. You may want to think about something more substantial for the managers on the Indian side – a scarf, a tie, maybe a nice knickknack, especially if it has some sort of tie to the area you’re from. Be prepared for your Indian team to send gifts back with you for your US team. At different times, I received a pair of silver earrings (I’m wearing them today, actually), a carved wooden elephant, and a 11×17 card signed by my team with art print of the Indian countryside.

      In my experience, the Indian workplace is much more into the team building and rah-rah activities than their American counterparts (or they pretend better than we do). Think about what will translate, though. Some of the people who went in our first group to work with the offshore team used Two Truths and a Lie as an icebreaker. Somehow, Two Truths and a Lie became the official way to introduce yourself to the US team, but a lot of Indian associates (especially the ones for whom this was their first job out of university) could not fathom lying to their coworkers. We’d end up with introductions like “Amit Kumar: 1) I am a nice person. 2) I am a hard worker. 3) I am not not a nice person.”

      1. edj3*

        I didn’t know that about gifts! I will look into finding items here to take over with me.

        And yes, we wondered what icebreakers might work well across cultures. Hmm we’ll have to figure that one out.

        We’ve also thought about bringing over short video clips from the US based associates as introductions, and then doing the same when we return so that everyone can start getting to know each other as individuals.

        1. MaryMary*

          Oh, and to clarify on the gifts – American candy, NOT chocolate. Chocolate doesn’t travel well in India (and European chocolate is usually better than ours anyway).

      2. thisit*

        as a person of Indian origin, I second the gifts idea. Candy is fine, but anything American and not kitschy is great. Alcohol works too if they are not Muslim (though usually for men, not women).

        As for icebreaker, can you sing? There’s a popular game where you sing a line of a song, and the other team has to use your last word to sing a line from a different song. But it only works if everyone is familiar with the same songs!

        1. edj3*

          Hmmm. I’m not sure how well I could pick songs that my audience would also be familiar with but perhaps we could do it with just the local associates?

  7. Ayeaye*

    I am so happy!

    After some of the most dreadful years*, everything has finally come together!

    I have just accepted the most amazing job opportunity. I applied with the thought “I’ll never get it, but hey, it’s good practice…” (Incidentally I also wrote a great cover letter ;) and then managed to get an interview – again, “I’ll never get it, but hey, it’s good practice…” I decided to make the best possible impression so when the vacancy came around again and I was more qualified for the position, they might remember me. I read here all the time anyway, but I properly channelled the philosophy of the two-way interview, of not being too emotionally invested. But that apparently worked so well at calming my nerves I absolutely rocked the interview (whole day, two interviews with two different panels, I delivered a presentation and then was quizzed on it for 20 minutes, plus informal lunch with all staff, plus informational interview with students… EXHAUSTING!) but now I am the department head for the library service (not managing staff – the staff is just me, just the service) with a massive need for innovation and the capacity to implement my ideas. It’s a massive pay rise for me and pretty outstanding when compared to other posts not just in paypacket but other benefits – CPD investment, swimming pool, gym, free lunch, free tea and coffee and cakes whenever…. It will be a massive time investment – 48 hour weeks! BUT I get 11 weeks annual leave, and next year when I am so brilliant I can push for an assistant to do some of those hours… I am so happy. It’s a massive leap in the right direction for my career, at an amazing school (independent, so not impinged by the horrendous cuts to education in the UK) and it’s something I never thought I’d get to at this point.

    Not to mention, when I was offered the job they said the most amazing things. And then they wrote it all in the offer letter too. I have never felt prouder of myself in my life. I know it’ll be hard work, but it’ll be so satisfying. And one of the interview panel, who is the Director of a library service at a university in the city, has offered to be my mentor and “critical friend” as he sees big potential in me. When I left the interview he apparently said “That’s the one, she’s the one you want.” I have never felt like this in my life. Genuinely capable, and believed in, and ACE.

    I just now have 4 weeks to think up some ideas to get implementing, I already have some, but I can actually flesh them out in to reality now! And the pupils all seem so nice! And are polite to each other as well as the staff! And don’t have massive behavioural issues I am totally unequipped to deal with!

    *lots of bereavement, cancer, relationship troubles, family drama, redundancy ever-looming, new job that ended up being awful, you know the kind of score. This year is awesome job opportunity, wedding, honeymoon in south-east asia, perfect new little house all settled in to. Amazing.

    TLDR; Things will be okay in the end. I have spent the last several months on the brink of a massive breakdown, sobbing with the misery of everything on my drive home from work, having a massive depressive resurgence I just couldn’t fight back. I feel like someone has opened all the curtains and windows in my head. Proper joy.

    Sorry for the enormous smugness – I have had the worst confidence and the worst luck for years that I just need to get it all out!! Everything feels great right now. :D (I will dial this down in time for my start date so I can actually enjoy it and be capable of dealing with challenges/difficulties – just basking for now!!)

    1. Stephen King's Constant Reader*

      Awesome! You’re totally entitled to be smug for a little bit!

    2. AmericanInEngland*

      I am absolutely THRILLED for you! It’s nice to hear fantastic news … it brought a smile to my face. Well done you and best of luck!

    3. Lead, Follow or Get Outta the Way!*

      Like, like, like! It’s beautiful when things come together like that. FAITH is a powerful thing and is what keeps you going when it seems like the chips are down. Way to go Ayeaye! Enjoy this time and don’t forget it because there will always be challenges in life and just keep telling yourself it will get better.

    4. OriginalEmma*

      You ever read a post when you start with a little smile but as you continue you become boyant with happiness? This is that post. Huge congrats, Ayeaye.

    5. Sparkly Librarian*

      Hooray for you! Isn’t a great feeling to know that you rocked an interview? And how lovely to have it all in writing. Those perks sound stellar.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      [Sends in marching band with lots of percussion and brass instruments…]

      Congrats. Your hard work and determination has finally paid off!

    7. CAsey*

      If anybody here deserves to be smug, it’s you. For real.

      CONGRATS!!!! This gives me hope that this year might not turn out to be as shit as it is right now, so thank you.

      1. I live to serve*

        A big congratulations. You pretty much told my story about my “newish” position. Two years in and still the pink cloud. It is so amazing that they picked me. It is so amazing that all of my seemingly random jobs and interests landed me here. I am in an academic library and my initiatives have all been approved by the director AND I read a book called The Professor is In. I took the author’s advice to apply for a writing leave. (to achieve tenure we must publish academic work) And I thought no-way they were going to give it too me. AND THEY DID! I have a six week leave coming up end of August to September, JUST TO WRITE!!!!

    8. Pineapple Incident*

      This isn’t smugness- bask in your achievement! It’s a big deal to feel validated after a lot of hard work that hasn’t gone anywhere yet, especially if you were struggling with work stress. Congratulations!

  8. ACA*

    Last week I had a job interview get postponed at the last minute; this week I found out that the position was being canceled. It wasn’t totally surprising – I have a friend in the company who’d told me that a few jobs had been posted based on a business deal that fell through, so if I got hired I shouldn’t be surprised if the job included some extra responsibilities that weren’t in the initial posting. Unfortunately for me, it looks like it’s this job’s responsibilities that will be getting rolled into someone else’s job.

    On the plus side, HR says they’ll be in touch next month about some similar positions that will be opening up! So at least there’s that.

    1. CAsey*

      So, not too bad, and now you have more time to prepare for the next one (which will likely be more stable – phew!).

      1. ACA*

        Basically! It was kind of a relief when the interview was canceled, tbh, because I was coming off a crazy week at work and had had literally zero time to prepare.

  9. the_scientist*

    So, as I’ve posted about before, I agreed to do some work for my former job after I resigned and started a new, much better job. I recently met with the person who replaced me- finally. Over the course of this meeting, he mentioned that he was already feeling frustrated with the amount of time he is spending on admin tasks and asked me what my experience had been. He further said that he feels like he was mislead because so far the actual day-to-day of the job does not align with the job description or the way the job was presented during the interviews.

    The truth is that the experiences he described were approximately 90% of the reasons I left that job. I also felt that I was a glorified admin assistant and that I’d been somewhat deliberately mislead about the nature of the job.

    I would never have brought up my frustrations independently, but he asked me a pretty direct question and I chose to respond honestly. I offered some suggestions about ways to approach the boss with shuffling responsibilities so he’s not doing only admin work. But now I’m wondering if that was the ethical thing to do. Did I throw my former boss under the bus? Should I have kept my mouth shut?

    1. danr*

      No… he asked and you answered honestly. Maybe he’ll be able to do better knowing that he’s not misinterpreting things.

    2. CoffeeLover*

      I think it would be more unethical to mislead him. You have no obligation to your previous employer to endorse their lies. You did the right thing.

    3. Christian Troy*

      I’m not sure how its throwing your employer under the bus if you’re being honest about what the responsibilities of your job were. You can’t really control how they advertise the position to applicants and it’s not like you were offering unsolicited information.

      1. the_scientist*

        Ok, this reaffirms my feelings. It might have been kind of crappy to go into this meeting determined to trash the job and the employer, but I helped write the job description and I experienced the exact same issues…….and he came right out and asked me. Honestly, in the three hours we spent talking, he strikes me as a really smart, on-the-ball and experienced person who honestly deserves better than admin work all the time. And Coffee Lover is right; I have no obligation to prop up their dishonesty; at first I thought that this wasn’t deliberate but now I think it is.

        1. the_scientist*

          I should add: I don’t mean to sound like I’m looking down on admin work; I know (too well!) that it’s so, so critical to the function of a workplace and how valuable a good admin person is. But this person has an advanced degree, tonnes of hands-on experience with the unique vulnerable population we work with, and was under the impression that they’d get to do a lot of writing and knowledge translation, not spend 90% of their time on meeting minutes.

          1. CAsey*

            Oh, so it’s my job. Ya, I gave it three months and realize that I am an overpaid/titled admin. So annoying.

      2. BenAdminGeek*

        You handled it right- it would be inappropriate to say “Those jerks will screw you over.” It’s the right thing to tell him honestly what might happen and approach solutions for making his tenure more successful.

    4. Sunflower*

      Agree with what you did. Your employer knew what they were doing when the misrepresented the job- it’s on them if NewGuy chooses to move on. And if he does, there’s a good chance he’d make that choice whether you talked to him or not.

    5. Stephen King's Constant Reader*

      I think that as long as you were respectfully honest (i.e. not slandering your old place), your opinions were probably much appreciated.

    6. themmases*

      I would probably do the same. I knew my replacement at my old job and I tried to be pretty clear with her about not only individual projects but the job overall. I think I explicitly said, this job is a great opportunity if you stay 2 years. Do not stay more than 3 years.

      I believe people get way too attached to these early career research jobs. As a young person, it feels like you’re being given a shot at helping with something really cool that is a stretch for you. It’s hard to see the big picture that you’re getting to stretch because the project won’t hire appropriately. I thought for a long time that I was just helping out or being tested with easy, research-adjacent stuff that would go away once I proved myself. I think it’s only fair for people to hear that that’s not the case so they can decide for themselves how long to stay, knowing what the real path may look like. (Our job posting was a mess, too.)

      The other thing about these jobs where you’re a researcher but also all things to all people is, if you are good at them it’s because you have a lot more to offer. I’m sure programs that do this would love to keep such a person forever and ever, but unless they can offer the basics of a decent job (or at least interesting work to make up for the deficiencies) then they’ll just have to content themselves with getting 2 years out of a bright young person who went on to better things. Once you see how other programs are run, it becomes so clear that this is a choice some programs are making.

      1. the_scientist*

        Your second paragraph is so spot on it’s not even funny. As to your third paragraph, my former boss always talks about how she hires only really good, really smart people, which OK, fine. But then she’s always complaining about how “everyone leaves her”. She doesn’t let these smart people she hires use the skills and the advanced training they bring to the position! Instead, their time is filled up with menial admin work that could be done by an actual admin assistant. AND, to add insult to injury, the position is profoundly underpaid and is a contract position with no vacation, sick leave, or benefits (and it’s grant-funded, making it extra precarious).

        So of course, the second a good, smart, talented person has a better option, they are going to jump to take it. It is definitely a deliberate choice to underpay and offer little job security and be content with getting two years out of a fresh-out-of-grad-school RA- and honestly, I don’t necessarily think it’s an unethical one, as long as the hiring manager is up-front about it. What strikes me as deliberately malicious is the misrepresenting of the job; promising lots of opportunities to learn and take on exciting stretch projects and then not following through. And promising to change things when the employee brings up all these stretch projects that never came to be, but never following through.

        When I left this job my boss was mildly upset because we’d had a “heart to heart” where she’d asked me to tell her if I was unhappy enough to consider leaving. I’d already tried to make a case for a raise and title increase and was turned down. There was no chance of converting to a permanent position. I wasn’t allowed to work on papers. What, exactly, was she going to offer me?? I left for a permanent position with a pension plan, generous benefits, career development opportunities, increased responsibility and a 13% salary increase. Good riddance!

        /whew! I needed to get that off my chest!

    7. JenGray*

      You did the right thing. I left a job last fall and my former boss refused to hire my replacement until after I had left. Then I find out from my old coworker that when he “trained” the new person it mostly involved bad mouthing me and the way I did things. The “training” also lasted for two months- no job has that much training. I was in that job for 5 years (5 YEARS!) I think I knew how to do it. I did have to go back and help out with a website thing and there were a few things I noticed when I went back 1) my replacement had “cleaned” out the office, and 2) I don’t think she really knew what she was doing in regards to websites. When she cleaned out the office she threw away something that she actually needed for the website. I don’t even know how much other stuff she threw away that was needed for the job. Oh well, not my fault.

    8. Not So NewReader*

      FWIW, I have had people help me in a similar manner. It’s been very meaningful for me to plan my next steps. And, let’s face it, people don’t ask questions like that if they don’t know something is up. I always figure the question is the tell-tale. It indicates that the person has already figured it out and I am merely verifying it for them.

  10. Anonercopter*

    My boyfriend (and I) would really appreciate some help regarding his employment situation (he’s at work until late and can’t post, so I’m posting for him).

    He started a new job about a month ago and is working in a contract-to-hire position. He was sought out by a recruiter (who had done the job before and who thought he was a good fit) and was the top candidate for the company. From my boyfriend’s side of things, he thought it’d be a great opportunity for him (more responsibility, new challenges, larger scale, big bump in pay).

    Unfortunately, he’s realized that this job makes him miserable. In the interview stages, it seemed like he’d be on call for a week out of every so many weeks, but the boss wants him monitoring his work email 24/7 and expects him to be available all the time. His coworkers are run down and job searching, so it’s not just him. On top of the cultural mismatch, he’s discovered that the level of administrative work and lack of hands-on work isn’t a good fit for him.

    His old position hasn’t been filled and his boss wants my boyfriend to come back. Previous boss is working on putting together an offer for my boyfriend, which would include a higher salary from the start and a contract that states he’d receive cost of living raises on an annual basis. Boyfriend loved his old job, but felt that new job would present better opportunities (but he didn’t realize those opportunities would come with the level of demands new boss places on everyone).

    Boyfriend sorely wants to go back to his old job and old job and coworkers want him back. He’s been doing a good job at his new job (several hard to please folks are very happy with fixes he’s implemented so far), but he’s honestly miserable.

    Any advice for how to resign from new job? I’ve sent him Alison’s post about resigning when you’re new, but neither of us know who he actually resigns to first. Does he talk with his onsite boss or the recruiter he’s actually employed by? Any success stories or cautionary tales from those who’ve navigated this in the past?

    1. Dawn*

      First of all don’t do anything till you have an offer from Old Job in writing and it’s been signed and squared away. Then I would contact Recruiter first, give date of last day, and ask them what the procedure is for notifying the on-site boss. I definitely think that your boyfriend should talk to the on-site boss as well, but since he’s employed through a Recruitment company they get the notification first.

    2. Nanc*

      I’m going to take a guess and say he should talk to the recruiter/contract manager about the resignation first, with the caveat to make 100% certain that he has his old job to go back to. As for quitting when you’re this new, I think doing it once in your career is no big deal–a bad fit is a bad fit and in my opinion, the probation period is for the employee as much as the employer to discover if the person is a good fit to the job. If your boyfriend goes back to his old job, he has to be ready to address suspicions that he may pick up and leave again soon. Personally, I would suggest he be ready to commit to the return for at least 2 years, and have a serious discussion with old job boss about creating opportunities within that job instead of looking elsewhere (kind of like Dorothy discovering happiness was in her own back yard the whole time!). Good luck to him and let us know what happens.

      1. Anonercopter*

        Thank you for addressing the suspicion about him wanting to leave again! He actually already talked to his old boss about this and old boss has put forth some changes that will be put in writing that would create more opportunities for him.

        He’s been in his other jobs at least 2 years, and the other two for 3-4 each, so this is definitely a one-off for him.

        1. BenAdminGeek*

          That’s the big difference here- this is an anomaly, not the norm for him. Probationary/contract-to-hire periods are for him as well. If this doesn’t work for him, sticking it out another year is worse than just heading back to the previous role.

          As a hiring manager, I look those as a “7 year itch” thing- your minor dalliance before returning.

    3. Development professional*

      Once he’s secure in the offer from Old Job, he might want to consider talking to his supervisor first, instead of the recruiter. The reason is that the recruiter is going to be highly motivated to try to keep him in the job, no matter what, and could go behind his back to the New Company to ask for more pay or other benefits just to try to get him to stay *even though this is not the issue* which could make him look bad in the long run with New Company. This happened to someone I know. The recruiter likely only gets a small fee for placing the contract and a big fee for the permanent hire. So, it costs them more to have to recruit all over again for the contract position, and they don’t want to lose their investment of time in you. Recruiters don’t particularly care if it’s a bad fit for you personally, they are paid by the company and only care what the company thinks. Talk to the supervisor first to maintain a good relationship, then talk to the recruiter to resign. Even if it’s not a good fit right now, the future reference he’ll want is from the supervisor, not the recruiter.

      1. Anna*

        I wouldn’t call it revenge. Revenge is tinged with the idea that the person on the train had a specific vendetta against them and that wasn’t the case. It was a matter of them starting out being rude, escalating to them talking about easily identifiable things, and ending with them being absolutely rude about being asked to quiet down. I don’t think there was anything particularly personal about talking to the firm they worked for.

        1. jhhj*

          I’d call it revenge, and I was on the side of ‘I would totally have wanted to do that’.

      2. land of oaks*

        So people should be able to act like sh1theads and never see any consequences for their actions? I don’t see it as revenge at all, it’s the consequences of their own behavior. That’s called cause and effect.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Applause, applause. Congratulations, Alison and LW. You both hit the bull’s eye.

  11. Zillah*

    Yay, open thread!

    So I’m finishing up an application for a residency thing, and I just realized that I’m supposed to submit a CV instead of a resume. I’ve literally never made a CV before, though, and I’m wary of google because so much of the resume advice I’ve found doing searches on google is off-base. Do any commenters who I trust infinitely more than google want to give me any tips on what I should/shouldn’t include?

    I’m a recent library science grad with some experience in the field, some random unrelated PT jobs a few years ago, and no real teaching experience, if that matters, and the application is for a residency that doesn’t involve teaching at all.

    1. Calacademic*

      Include all secondary education degrees. Is the position research or teaching? Write a paragraph detailing your most recent research/teaching project. Describe all relevant research projects. You can have a skill section (more common for STEM fields). Then citations, in reverse chronological order (newest first).

      1. Zillah*

        Research.

        The issue I’m having is that I’m not in academia in general – I got a master’s last spring, took a couple months off, worked FT on a grant-funded project for six months, and have been job-searching since. The only formal research projects I’ve done have been part of classes – I haven’t published, I haven’t presented, I haven’t taught.

        But it doesn’t seem like that’s necessarily a problem – it’s aimed at recent MLS grads without a huge amount of experience, and AFAIK, most of the current residents didn’t go in with extensive CVs of published work, projects, or presentations. So I’m a little confused.

        1. fposte*

          I think they’re probably just using their field term, but that at that career stage resumes and CVs aren’t necessarily going to differ much.

        2. So Very Anonymous*

          If you did research projects (or other relevant projects) as part of your library school training you might want to include those — I’ve seen librarian cv’s where those were included as part of library-related work experience, with the specific course title included, and a short description of the project. Also, did you do any kind of final project or practicum for library school?

          Does your library school have any kind of career services or placement offices? If so, they might be a good resource for advice on making the shift from “resume” to “c.v.”

          1. Zillah*

            I did, on both counts – I’ll include them. :) My school does have career services – I may look into it, but I think this is the only cv I’ll be putting together for awhile. (I hope.)

            Thank you!

      1. Zillah*

        Not really? Stuff I did in class, but that’s it. I have a very public project I did extensive work on, but I didn’t put together the presentations on it.

    2. CoffeeLover*

      In my field, employers use “CV” and “resume” interchangeably. I don’t think the same holds true for academia, but I really don’t know. (Sorry for being totally unhelpful.)

      1. Zillah*

        I’ve seen that a few times, too! But since it’s academic, I feel like I probably should have a proper CV? Probably?

        But I don’t know what it should look like, since I’m not in academia and don’t have anything in a lot of the fields that it seems like you’re supposed to put. :/

        1. fposte*

          A proper CV is mostly a resume on steroids. It’s complete rather than summary. Early in your career, your resume may be complete in its own right, so you wouldn’t need to change anything for a CV.

    3. EmilyG*

      I’m a librarian. I’m not sure this distinction is as important as it sounds. Librarians tend to use CVs and resumes depending on whether or not they’re dealing with an academic library, i.e. they follow the lead of the library’s parent institution. Universities sometimes have formal templates for CVs for faculty, but I can’t imagine you’d be expected to know this as an applicant. In the past, I’ve been stuck maintaining three versions of my document: a shorter, punchier resume version; a CV; and a CV in the style of the university I worked for, which was so ill-suited to describe librarians’ work that I only used it internally and when required to.

      I would say that something pretty close to your existing resume would be appropriate, but with some tweaks. CVs are probably supposed to be just plain chronological so if you have anything like a “library experience” and “other experience” section going on, undo that. They’re more straightforward and factual, so if you have language about how you’re an energetic self-starter (which the AAM community would probably frown on anyway), take that out. The sections should be things like Work Experience, Publications, Education–not Summary of Qualifications, A Bunch of Social Media I Like To Use, Hobbies. CVs can be really long, there’s no 1-2 page rule at all.

      I’ve been on a ton of hiring committees and I wouldn’t throw out anyone’s application for not following some secret CV format. I’d suggest that you look up librarians you like/admire online and see if they have CVs posted and start to get a sense from that. Here’s one randomish example: http://matthew.reidsrow.com/cv/ This is a-okay, although for a job application I wouldn’t include conferences you’ve merely attended and not presented at.

      1. Zillah*

        Thank you so much! This is super helpful.

        How exhaustive should a CV be? Like, should I be listing all the positions I’ve ever had, even the short-term ones that were completely unrelated to library science? Or the MA I started but didn’t finish (which was in the last three years, if it matters)? I’ve heard that CVs are supposed to include more than resumes, but I’m not sure how far to take that. :/

        And, since I’m a recent grad and the residency is supposed to be for recent grads, do you think I should list the courses I took for my MLS?

        1. EmilyG*

          Hmm. I’d say the answer is that you want to be complete enough to explain your story but not so exhaustive that you appear to be grasping at straws. I’d include jobs that are needed to explain what you’ve been doing with your life since you graduated from college, but not every job you’ve ever held. But if you’ve had minor jobs/internships/volunteer stuff that are relevant, go for it. (I spent a whole year as a volunteer/intern doing serious technical services work when I was in library school and I *still* include that even though I’m pretty far into my career, because it was a significant amount of time and an important skill.)

          If you had presentations in library school that are relevant to this position, and you don’t have other presentations, I think you can include those. Coursework is probably okay too but not everything–I used to sometimes include just a few key upper-level courses that indicated what my focus was on. But no one cares that you took That Introductory Class on Providing Information Services 501, you know?

          I guess I’d ask of each thing you’re planning to include, “Is this important? Relevant to the position?” and if it’s neither, then skip it. So for the MA program, if it’s in a wildly unrelated field and incomplete, nah, but if it’s somewhat related and you did a fair amount of coursework, include it and be prepared to discuss why you dropped out.

            1. EmilyG*

              You’re welcome! I see there are some other helpful comments that are saying that CVs should be complete rather than presenting on highlights. I agree, but I think libraries sometimes just kind of throw around the terms somewhat interchangeably, and don’t let that make you feel like you need to have a blank Awards & Grants section or anything like that.

    4. ms-starfish*

      My understanding of a CV is that it is longer and has a more academic bent to it. This page from UVic (University of Victoria in BC) seemed pretty clear. (Link in a separate post.)

    5. Zillah*

      Also, along these lines: my membership in the ALA and Metro is about to lapse. How important is it for me to keep it current, library folks?

      I’d like to… but at the same time, $100 is a lot for me right now, and I don’t want to if it isn’t going to tangibly help me.

      1. Calacademic*

        Not a librarian, but my society has a jobs board which is actually useful. (Got a interview + offer from a posted ad.) If either of your societies has that, I would keep your membership current just for the access to the boards.

      2. I live to serve*

        Emily G. is right on the mark. It would be good to include ALA and Metro memberships- There may be a special rate for students or unemployed- check into that. I agree that a CV in not the same as a resume. And like Emily I have 3 iterations. If you a new to the profession there won’t be high expectations.

        Include any publications such as reviewing whether it is blogging or for a journal.

        If you had an internship- bullet point projects that provided skills that dovetail with the job description. There should have been outcomes that you can use.

        There are quite a few CV examples on-line. Don’t worry about length.

    6. Jaune Desprez*

      Former residency program manager here (although not your field).

      You’ve already gotten lots of great advice, but I wanted to mention that many academic institutions have their own preferred CV format. If you google a few faculty in the department that you hope to end up in, you are likely to be able to find some of their CVs online. If you can find examples from the institution, I would suggest following the same format for your CV as best you can without tying yourself into knots. If there are categories that don’t apply to you, I would suggest omitting them altogether (for example, leave off the Publications section rather than writing “Publications — None”). If there’s information you’d like to include that doesn’t fall in any of their standard categories, go ahead and add your own extra category.

      I’ve seen a few institutional CV formats that still include Social Security numbers, gender, and/or date of birth. It’s a hangover from a previous era, and I would absolutely leave this information off. They’ve undoubtedly captured it elsewhere in the application for those who really need to know it.

      1. Jaune Desprez*

        Sorry — I should add that no program is going to think worse of you or mark down your application in any way if your CV isn’t in their own format. The purpose of using their format is to just to make it a tiny bit easier for the selection committee to review your application. When you have stacks of applications to review, hunting for information through CVs that are all in different formats can get pretty old.

  12. Ladida*

    Has anyone, early in their interviewing experience, ever gave an answer that still makes them cringe? I remember once in my university days when I answered the ‘why do you want to work here’ question with ‘your company name sounded pretty cool’.

    1. Ayeaye*

      When asked “What is your biggest weakness?” I answered “Well, I’m not very strong. I probably can’t carry heavy boxes.”

      This was for a job at a bookstore. Somehow managed to get the job!

    2. Vanishing Girl*

      During an interview for a library/archives job that would have involved a lot of writing about collections, I somehow let out that “I don’t really enjoy writing.” I knew as soon as I said it that I’d bombed what had otherwise been a great interview.

      [insert loser horn]

      1. GigglyPuff*

        During a great interview, for a position at a small college where I would have been a one woman archives dept, which translated to me, many different things to do (not just repetitive grant project work where I only get one task), I said a get bored easily, and the next sentence from them was, we have a huge backlog of unprocessed material…oops, totally said that the wrong way

        1. So Very Anonymous*

          I have been asked, in two different interviews for two different jobs, how well I dealt with tedium. I got the first job but learned quickly why I’d been asked that. The second time, I took it as the red-flag-for-me that it was.

          I still think my answer — that I’m good at keeping myself interested in what I’m doing — was a good answer, but it was definitely a lesson in thinking about what the question is getting at, rather than just coming up with an answer that would get me the job.

    3. Elizabeth West*

      No, but I asked a question once in a second interview that made it sound like I hadn’t paid any attention in the first interview. I actually wanted clarification on something, but it came out completely wrong. I knew the second I said it that it was the kiss of death. I was so nervous I couldn’t think how to rephrase it. Needless to say, I did not get the job. Urgh.

    4. Ann Furthermore*

      Ha!! I interviewed with an accounting firm once while I was still in college. It was in the days when you still had an “Interests” section on your resume (or maybe those days never existed, and I took someone’s bad advice), and one of mine was Travel. The guy who interviewed me asked me about it, and I answered like I usually do — told him that I lived in the Middle East with my parents when I was a kid, and we got to travel all over the world, and so on. We chatted about that for a few minutes.

      During that conversation he commented that he’d taken his entire family to Israel a few years before. I answered that my parents had been there, and were very disappointed by much of it, because they found it to be horribly over-commercialized and touristy. My mom told me that they’d taken a couple tours of some places that are supposed to be holy and sacred, but the tour guides would say things like, “Well, this is where [miracle] happened. If you’re Catholic, it happened over here, but if you’re Protestant, it happened over there.” Pretty bad.

      Anyway, I prattled on about that, and then realized the person who was interviewing me was probably Jewish, based on his last name. Then I remembered that for many Jewish people, going to Israel is often the trip of a lifetime, and a very significant event. And here I was, all of maybe 23, telling him that it was a craphole tourist trap. OMG. So mortifying. I kept talking, trying to dig myself out of that hole, and instead it kept getting deeper. I should have just apologized, thanked him for his time, and told him to get another cup of coffee before his next interview.

      1. De Minimis*

        Ugh….not realizing that “No” isn’t a good answer when asked “Do you have any questions?”

        1. +1*

          Yeah, that… but I often really did not have any questions. Most of my interviewers in the past told me what I wanted to know, and then I felt bad for acknowledging their preparedness.

          I’m trying to take to heart Alison’s advice on finding some general things I would like to know about, because it does not come natural to me to ask questions if I don’t have any.

          1. Holly Olly Oxen Free*

            I used to do this! All. The. Time. I’d come up with two questions based on the job description that inevitably got answered because of course they are going to talk about the job description. Now I have at least 6 questions in my arsenal and I make sure 2 of them focus on what they are looking for in an employee, how they measure success, opportunities for professional development and advancement, and company culture.

            1. +1*

              This is actually super-helpful, thanks! :)
              It’s funny, when you put it like that, it makes perfect sense!

      2. land of oaks*

        whoa, I thought I had written this for a minute! I also grew up in the Middle East and we traveled all over, crazy! ;)

      3. Fuzzy*

        As someone who runs Israel trips, this is HILARIOUS.

        Just like any pace it can be touristy, with people trying to take advantage of important sites to sell you something, but as soon as you step off of the main road in any area, you can immediately find something cool and authentic.

    5. Natalie*

      I completely misunderstood the purpose of the ADA questionnaire I had to fill out at my first temp agency. Somehow I thought it had to do with what kind of work I wanted to do, as opposed to what I was physically capable of doing. As I did not want a job involving standing for hours and lifting things over my head repeatedly, I answered No to everything.

    6. Karowen*

      Not an answer to a specific question, but along the same lines. It was the very end of the interview for a marketing position at a law firm and the hiring manager made a joke about having to explain to her friends that she doesn’t work for ambulance chasers, she does XYZ. So I responded by saying that I was a little wary when I first got the call for the interview (through a recruiter) because I was worried it would be an ambulance chaser along the lines of that Hammiler law firm and man, do I not want to work there.

      Unfortunately, Hammiler was the company I was interviewing with. Hammil was the ambulance chaser firm. I knew immediately that something sounded wrong but didn’t figure out what it was until about 2 hours after the interview had ended. I did not get that job.

    7. Mimmy*

      Oh I’m sure we’ve all had our share of interview blunders! I remember two of mine from way back:

      1. For a clerical job at a law firm, they asked how organized I was; I don’t remember the exact wording, but it was along the lines of “somewhat”.

      2. I interviewed for job with a child study team (I think as a typist or secretary?), and it was only part-time. I was currently in a miserable job that I was trying to get out of. I think I’d told them that I was just looking for something until I found something more full-time.

      D’oh!

    8. Stephen King's Constant Reader*

      Oh goodness…when I was still in college, early years, I interviewed for a job and was asked the typical “Tell me about yourself.” I LITERALLY told him about myself, aka how I like to hang out with friends, read, go to bars, etc. Yes I said I like to GO TO BARS. Clearly I did not get the job. Still makes me cringe to this day!

      1. Future Analyst*

        Ha, this makes me laugh. I think we’ve all done that to some degree or another. :)

      2. +1*

        Oh, boy, I’ve done that too. “Well, I like gardening, long walks in the sunset…” types of answers. Now *that* is cringe-worthy, lol, but I really didn’t know any better!

      3. Snargulfuss*

        University career counselor here – I get this ALL.THE.TIME when I conduct mock interviews with students. I am quick to let them know that “Tell me about yourself” is not an invitation to relate your life story.

        1. Afiendishthingy*

          Yeah, I think this is a super common one! I recently asked a candidate “tell me about your experience working with chocolate teapots” and she told me about every job she’d had in the past 15 years, with a very brief teapot mention at the end. She also said she didn’t really know what she wanted to do but thought it might be teapots. Poor thing.

      4. Lindsay J*

        I did this in the interview for a prestigious college.

        I think the question was about the best day of my life or something like that. I talked about hanging out with my friends in a hotel on a marching band trip, talking about boys, blasting music, and basically misbehaving because there was not a lot of parental supervision.

        1. Holly Olly Oxen Free*

          Oh, how does one answer “what was the best day of your life?” in a job related context? That’s tricky. I’d believe very few people if they told me the best day of their life was the day they won an account or made a big sale or something.

          1. +1*

            Oh, I’d actually love to know an appropriate response to this one. I can’t imagine saying something like, “Yeah, that time a customer bought a candy bar? Rocked. My. World.”

          2. Lindsay J*

            It was actually for admissions as a student, not in a job related context. But still.

            I suppose they wanted to hear about a day I accomplished something cool.

    9. Delyssia*

      I honestly don’t know if I mis-spoke or was just misunderstood, but I was trying to make some sort of point about how my previous experience in business-to-business (B2B) marketing was relevant to this role (which was also B2B marketing) and the interviewer responded strongly that, well, of course this role was B2B marketing and it’s a little different because of X, but it’s definitely not consumer marketing… I kind of stumbled over myself to agree with her, but I really, truly regret not having responded with something like, “I’m sorry, I must have mis-spoke, but that was absolutely what I was trying to say” (and then strengthen whatever my initial point was).

      I think the rush to agreement just sounded like trying to cover up my confusion or whatever, and I should have attempted to make it abundantly clear that I understood the market. I really feel like I shot myself in the foot on that one. And, no, I didn’t get the job.

    10. cuppa*

      I actually bombed the “what do you know about this organization?” at my own organization. It was an internal interview. I was so flabbergasted that they asked me the question, and I was super unprepared and uncomfortable, and I laughed, made up some crap on the fly, and fell flat on my face. Everyone knew I knew all about the organization, and I still managed to bomb it. Ugh.

      1. Snargulfuss*

        At my first job out of college a position opened up, at my same organization, that was just slightly above my then-current position. The boss asked, “So, why do you want this position?” and I responded that it was pretty much the same thing I had been doing but at a higher salary. Um, no. I most likely would have gotten the job anyway, but I was 95% sure that I’d be moving to another city within a few months, so I ended up withdrawing my candidacy.

    11. Ama*

      I once had to explain the concept of slash fiction to a confused interviewer who had asked if I had experience writing about controversial topics. The worst part is I could have avoided it entirely — the controversial topic I was referencing was an article taking a (then) major internet site to task for only having women writers on to write “girly” posts about a particular fandom, one of which happened to be slash fiction. I could have referenced the post where they talked about the cutest fan apparel but noooooo.

      I did not get the job.

      1. fposte*

        I wish this had been to a room of interviewers. A room of elder statesmen, listening in polite puzzlement.

    12. The IT Manager*

      I don’t think about it (until you brought t up), but I completely bombed the classic biggest weakness question. I wasn’t expecting it. I was way to honest. And since it wasn’t expected it was a meandering response to.

      I said something along of the lines of, when I don’t know how to do something, I procrastinate on getting started, but with lots more words.

    13. CheeryO*

      YES. People with my degree generally work in one of two fields – let’s call them X and Y. About halfway through my post-graduation job search, I had a phone interview with someone from a company that does work in both fields. The position was in field X. The guy asks me a total softball question about which field I would rather work in and why, and I just blurted out “Field Y!” He said, “Uhhh, interesting. Why is that? How would this role fit into a career in that field?” I pretty much had no response to that, and he politely ended the interview. I don’t think I’ve ever felt as stupid as I did in that moment, and I still hate thinking about it.

      In another interview, I answered a question about my technical writing skills by telling the interviewers all about the stories I used to write as a kid.

      Sometimes I can’t believe that I’m employed.

      1. Kelly L.*

        Ha, just a few years ago I was in an interview that had started in the morning and just kept.getting.dragged.out.longer. I think I’ve mentioned it here below as the interview where they pretty much trained me on the software during the interview. In and out of this room and that room and meet this person and meet that person and here’s how we use the software and on and on and ON and finally I was famished. I made some kind of offhand comment about how I’d have to go get lunch at some point–I didn’t actually mean mid-interview! it just slipped out!–and I really think that was part of why they didn’t hire me. They thought it was hilarious and one of them said really snidely, “OK, go get your luuuunch” to me when the interview finally ended.

        1. Traveler*

          This is unreasonable on the part of the interviewers. You probably dodged a bullet!

        2. Not So NewReader*

          What if someone was a diabetic and had to eat??? ugh, ugh. You dodged a bullet.

    14. Retail Lifer*

      I interviewed with a company that I had worked for almost a decade ago, but for a much different position. The original job wound up being not at all like what I was told it would be. At the time I was in my early 20’s and wasn’t prepared to handle the number of hours I would have to put in. At one point there I worked for two weeks straight, and the weekday shifts were often 10-12 hours. I went home exhausted every day and had no time for my boyfriend, my friends, or even myself because all I did was eat dinner and then go straight to bed.

      When the hiring manager asked me why I left, I told him that I worked too much and I just wanted to go out more.

      Not how I should have phrased that.

    15. Lols*

      I don’t know about cringe, but my answer on my very first job interview still gives me a chuckle. Interviewer: “Why do you want to work here?”. Me: “I need a job and you are hiring.” I guess honesty worked in my favor, because I got the job!

      1. Lindsay J*

        It annoys me that you can’t give this answer for like minimum wage jobs, because that’s really what it boils down to.

        I understand once you’re further up the career scale needing to be excited about the company and the work. But when you’re working for minimum wage or trying to just get started in a career, the honest truth is more like “I need a job so I don’t starve and this place doesn’t seem horrible,” or, “I’m a receptionist, and you posted a job for a receptionist,” than it is about being excited to work for any particular company.

        And I feel like any reasons I would have for wanting to work for a particular company would still sound self-serving. I would be excited about working for (and I generally try to support by shopping at) companies that treat their lowest level workers ethically – paying them a living wage, giving 40 hours a week, offering decent insurance, offering paid time off, etc. But since I tend to fall into that category (or at best a step or two up) it still sounds like, “I wanna work here because you’ll treat me better than the meanies down the street,” rather than anything about principles when really both play a role.

        1. Lols*

          Yeah, I can’t imagine an answer like that passing in today’s market. The entry-level application process is so different now- personality tests, group interviews, bizarre exercises… You are so right- the same motivation exists, they just now have to market themselves from the get-go.

        2. catsAreCool*

          In the late 80’s when I applied for a job at McD’s, they just had me fill out the times I could work (and maybe took my resume). There wasn’t much of an interview process at all.

    16. themmases*

      I was 22 and starting a part-time research job and meeting with my director and the department head to discuss the position. Previously I’d been an undergrad research assistant and worked a conference for this field’s professional organization. I was a grad student.

      They asked me about pay and I essentially said, well, I’m a student so I need to buy books and told them what these previous two types of jobs had paid me hourly.

      Both of those marginally relevant jobs also turned out to be below the (still pathetic) hourly minimum at my new job, also. Good times!

    17. Traveler*

      Yep. I had an interview once where the person kept asking very vague non-specific questions, when I later realized she was asking for something very specific. I gave a very rambling answer that made me sound like a total idiot. The question was about something that would be maybe 5% of the total job, and if I’d just been up front that I didn’t understand what she was asking, maybe I wouldn’t have bombed it.

      1. Sara*

        I’ve done this, too – I understood the question but thought it was being posed in a much more global sense than it was. I went on and on about the entire forest, he wanted to know about a couple of trees.

    18. Nobody*

      When I was in college, I did an internship, and one time during the internship, an employee was talking about ICP. I asked what ICP stands for, and he replied, jokingly, “Insane Clown Posse.” I thought that was hilarious, and we had a good laugh, and then he told me it actually stands for inductively coupled plasma spectroscopy.

      When I graduated from college, I had an interview for a permanent position at the same company, and the interviewer asked me if I was familiar with ICP. I replied, “Insane Clown Posse? Yeah, I love them!” I guess I thought that was an inside joke in the whole department. Well, the interviewer did not get it and was not amused, so there was a very awkward moment when I had to explain that I was kidding and yes, I am familiar with inductively coupled plasma spectroscopy.

    19. Cath in Canada*

      I answered a question about why I’d stayed in a previous job so long if it wasn’t a great fit with “Stockholm syndrome”. It just popped into my head. I did give a better answer too, though!

      I got the job!

    20. Afiendishthingy*

      Not very early in my interviewing experience, but I basically had no answer for “why do you want to work here?” at an interview last year. Very awkward and short interview- but it’s ok, I really DIDNT want to work there.

      Not a job interview, but I interviewed for a college scholarship when I was 17 that would have included money for study abroad. They asked me what my favorite thing to do when traveling to a new place was… I said “shop.”
      I still cringe about that one!

    21. Not So NewReader*

      Looking back on it, I might have subconsciously decided to shoot myself in the foot.

      I found the interviewers draining, they were exhausting people. I don’t know why I felt this way but I could not shake off the feeling. However, I needed a job so I forged ahead.

      Interviewer: How do you feel about ghosts?
      Me: Oh, you have a ghost?
      Interviewer: We have several and they are very active.
      Me: Well, that is because no one told them to leave.

      In that moment, I lost the job. They did not want their ghosts to leave. Who’d thunk?

      Sometimes interviewing is just so damn hard.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Looking back on it, I should have just side-stepped the question and hoped the interviewer did not notice. Probably the right answer would have been to indicate any seance experience or similar spirit world interaction. I initially kicked myself for the poor reply, then I realized later that I did not want to deal with dishes flying across the room and such. I probably dodged a bullet… or dish as the case maybe.

  13. Consultant Mouse*

    I have an interview today for a position at a large company for a position like “Sr. Operations Analyst.” Presumably there are Operations Consultants, Operations Managers, etc. This is my very first interview, and it’s with the SVP of Operations – literally the top executive of this function at this company. I’m really surprised by this – any speculation as to why such a high-level position would be interviewing such a low-level position?

    1. Christy*

      Are you sure it’s such a low-level position? For my government agency, that would be a high level no supervisory role. A GS-15, if that means anything to you.

      1. Consultant Mouse*

        Good comment. This isn’t for a government position, but yeah – I think this really is low-level. 3-4 years experience, no higher ed other than bachelors… MBA preferred.

        1. my two cents*

          the senior title, the 3-4 years exp and an ‘MBA preferred’ note implies this is more than entry level that they’re hoping to fill. could be that there’s a lot of burn-out or turn-over with the other lower ranks, which is how this position ends up reporting into the SVP.

          any idea on the number of employees at that office? if it’s a smaller office location, it could be that the VP just happens to work out of that location and is easy to schedule interview time with as opposed to pulling someone else in from another state.

    2. CoffeeLover*

      It could be a small department. At my first internship I interviewed with the CFO and executive director of the department because my department was me, my supervisor and ED reporting to the CFO and CEO. Everyone in the department was in a high-level position (well except me).

    3. Development professional*

      Could be that the position for the immediate supervisor is vacant, so the department head is doing it.

    4. the gold digger*

      I interviewed with the director, who reported to the VP, for my senior analyst position in corporate finance. It’s not a junior position – everyone there had an MBA or was a CPA.

    5. steve g*

      Sr ops analyst can be low level or high level. Sometimes they are leading CRM upgrades, big finance and sales initiatives….but sometimes it’s just data entry, calendar management, contract management, and a whole LOT of spreadsheet work for stuff that doesn’t fall nicely into accounting or finance. Most require advanced excel etc so you can build complicated reports and templates.

      Most sales ops analysts I’ve seen have been in their 20s, it’s usually not that high of a position (though in some places it pays 70k+ and involves more senior level tasks).

      1. Holly Olly Oxen Free*

        Most sales ops analysts I’ve seen have been in their 20s, it’s usually not that high of a position (though in some places it pays 70k+ and involves more senior level tasks).

        This is me. I’m a sales operations analyst, mid-level, not sr. with higher level tasks. I also interviewed with the SVP of Operations for this job and it’s a large company. One explanation might be that some companies have a slew of SVPs, VPs, Directors, etc. and nearly all level employees work with them in some way or another, so it makes sense to interview with them. Also, depending on your role you may work closely with the SVP. Lastly, my company uses the operations analyst title for a bunch of different kinds of roles at different levels. So some people with the exact same title as me are more junior and others are more senior and you can’t really tell by the title alone.

        1. Steve G*

          This is making my job search hard:-). I was upset I got rejected from some Ops Mgr and Ops Analyst roles this week, then did some research on linkedin and found people with similar titles at those companies, and they were all like 24, 25. I wish they specified that in the ads! It also throws me off that they say things like “expert in VBA, 2 yrs of Salesforce admin experience, experience running commission processes and developing dashboards for Sr Management, and presenting sales related issues to upper mgt,” and then you think “mmmm that is a job for my level!,” only to found out later that they are really looking for someone more junior

          1. Holly Olly Oxen Free*

            This is my first operations analyst role, a career change for me, so I don’t know too much about the field. The only thing I could suggest would be to apply anyway! My position was listed as wanting someone with 5 years experience as an analyst, but I had 0 (I had other qualifications they were seeking that are hard to find in this particular field, which is why I got the job). I had to do some things during the interview process that showed I had the aptitude for it.

            In my role I do technical writing and training for the sales, services, and educational operations sections of the company, in addition to back end administration in salesforce and other internal company software. More analytical tasks are in the works but I’m still newish so still getting up to speed. It’s a strange mix of responsibilities and I can totally see how it would be hard finding work as an operations analyst that fits your specific experience since they all seem to be so different.

            All this to say, at least for my employer, they were looking for specific aptitudes and I imagine you could make a strong case for yourself for a lot of ops analyst roles just because you have a track record of analytical work, and don’t necessarily need to have the exact experience they are seeking.

  14. Anonymosity*

    Ugh, I’m very attracted to a new-ish coworker (different department but same area of the building), and he of course doesn’t seem the least bit interested in me. He’s friendly but not in any significant way. I set up openings and they remain untouched. I wish we would stop running into each other, or I would find out that I’m wrong.

    I hate this.

      1. Ali*

        I feel you too. I’m attracted to someone in my career field. We have things in common, we’re not far apart in age, he’s great to talk to and super supportive of my job search troubles. Sadly for me, he’s in a relationship. With a live-in girlfriend. Oof. Yeah…now that we’re not seeing each other in person for a few months, I have to scale back on the contact.

        1. anon for this*

          Also on the feelz train. I fell for my coworker who I sat next to for two years. He moved to another branch to live with his gf, came back for a team building event and put the moves on me. It sucks because we were good friends, and I didn’t expect he felt that way at all, and I haven’t been able to get him out of my head since. :(

    1. GOG11*

      There have been a few posts in the past about this type of thing, mostly with the focus of getting over the crush. If this is the sort of situation where your workplace dynamics would allow it, I’m very sorry that things aren’t mutual :(

      1. Anonymosity*

        They probably would, but I suppose this is for the best. If only, as said upthread, it was because the door is closed due to a window opening! But that doesn’t seem to be the case.

        Bummer.

  15. Aloe Vera*

    Random rant: I’m hiring for a writing position, and the job description says that you must submit a cover letter to be considered. Only about 1/3 of applicants do. It’s a good screening method I guess, but what the heck???

    1. Future Analyst*

      I feel like they’re doing you a favor. If I were to apply for a writing position, I would not only include a cover letter regardless of what’s required, but I would also make sure that it’s some of my best writing. Despite the understandable frustration, I would view it as them helping you by thinning the herd. :)

    2. danr*

      If they are on unemployment assistance they have to apply to many places, not necessarily in their fields. So, reject them without worrying about it.

    3. cuppa*

      I once got an applicant who, under the spot where he was supposed to copy or attach his resume, simply wrote, “I don’t have one.” D’oh.

      1. araminty*

        Ha! I had a similar case, I was hiring a presenter for museum education programs, and we asked the interviewees to prepare a 5 minute presentation on a topic of their choice. One guy just said that he hadn’t had time to do it! NEXT!

    4. Revanche*

      I both get frustrated by people who fail the most basic application instructions and am grateful to know that they obviously wouldn’t excel at the detail oriented jobs I’m hiring for.

    5. Althea*

      I’ve done a fair bit of hiring of non-profit interns, and I was always amazed at the number that would come in within an hour of the posting. They would typically refer to our “corporation” and “company” and be so generic it was painful. I always wondered what happened to those people, and if anyone hired them when they couldn’t even be bothered to read the job posting.

      1. Snargulfuss*

        Oh, I’ve gotten some within minutes of posting a job announcement. There is such a thing as replying too soon. How much thought could you have possibly put into your application if you’ve submitted it before you even had time to read the posting thoroughly, let alone compose a tailored resume and thoughtful cover letter?!

  16. Adam*

    No question this week. Just a cheer for everyone in a lopsided working environment. My department is closely connected to a different department in our organization, so we all share the same floor space. My “sister” department had a staff of about 8 full time people in it, but due to the direction this train is headed three of them resigned in one month. One of those leaving staff members came and told me personally (in hushed tones) “I’ve got to get the **** out of here.”

    The slowly sinking ship just got another hole drilled in it. Three cheers for three day weekends!

  17. Ask a Manager* Post author

    Amusing miscommunication of the week:

    So, yesterday on the AAM Facebook page, I posted something like this: “I”m currently sitting in the waiting room at the auto mechanic, waiting for my car to be ready. I just heard a manager literally screaming at an employee behind a closed door — shouting obscenities and berating the guy for not putting a gasket on right. It was pretty awful. I’m thinking about telling them when I leave that I won’t be coming back because of how awfully he treated that guy. My question: Is this likely to make the berated employee’s life better or worse? I could argue it either way.”

    Of course, what I was asking was whether me saying something to the boss was likely to make the berated employee’s life better or worse. (Would I just inflame the boss and get the guy in more trouble?) But apparently lots of people thought I was asking whether the boss yelling at the guy would make his life better or worse. And that I was saying that I “could argue it either way” (!). I’m alternately amused and mortified that people thought I’d need to ask that — and why were they not more appalled and disgusted with me? (Maybe they were; I should have looked to see if I lost followers en masse.)

    (And it took me a really long time to realize that’s how people were reading it. For several hours, I was just baffled about why dozens of people were patiently explaining to me that it’s really crappy to be yelled at like that.)

    1. CrazyCatLady*

      I’m not on Facebook so I don’t know, but did you end up saying anything to the boss?

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        I didn’t before I left because I couldn’t figure out who to say it to (there are a zillion people there and I didn’t know who had done the yelling since it was behind a wall), but I’m going to write the owner a letter this weekend.

        1. CrazyCatLady*

          Good! That’s what I would do, too. Plus, it’s more removed from the situation and maybe he’ll be in a more rational mood when he reads it (hopefully).

    2. Partly Cloudy*

      People need to work on their reading comprehension and common sense. I read your question the way it was intended and am baffled that so many people didn’t.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Yeah, I had no trouble understanding what you meant, Alison. But judging by all the “these people should not be on Facebook” posts I see out there, it’s not surprising. People often post before they really look at a thing.

      2. Mimmy*

        I read it as intended too, but people read things in a hurry and may miss important context (usually in the middle of a long paragraph, I think). If it helps, maybe break up those posts into paragraphs. There *is* a way to do it in FB…I think it’s Shift+Enter. (whereas just “enter” uploads the post).

        1. Elkay*

          It’s self perpetuating though, people skim, miss the important point, comment, people read the comment and comment on that rather than what was in the original post.

        2. ThursdaysGeek*

          I had to read your explanation of how people got it wrong a couple of times, then back to the start, because I wasn’t understanding what they got wrong. I still don’t understand how they came to that conclusion. Maybe when multiple get it wrong, there is a problem, but as far as I can tell, the problem is on their end.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            I read comments on other sites sometimes and I see a pattern of one person gets it wrong so others just keep following that wrong interpretation.

            We are lucky here because most people read very carefully before answering. Not so much on other websites.

      3. Jake*

        +1

        Reading comprehension is the number one thing I tell high schoolers to work on before college if that’s their intended path.

    3. A Definite Beta Guy*

      My question: Is this likely to make the berated employee’s life better or worse? I could argue it either way

      I cannot use the bolded words in work emails because they are so easily misinterpreted. I feel your pain!
      Then my emails become too wordy and I can just feel a dozen eyeballs roll…..

      Just think…
      “My Question: If I tell the manager the boss’s inappropriate behavior prompted my switch to a competitor, will the boss treat the employee even worse?”
      I can’t even read that! (Wait, what did you mean by “that” ADBG?) I can’t even read the hypothetical sentence I just wrote above! (you ended a sentence in a preposition, ADBG). I can’t even read my hypothetical correction.

      This is why it’s easier to communicate via phone sometimes. (What do you mean by “This” ADBG?)

      Shut up, stupid voice in my head.

      I swear I’m not crazy.

    4. The Cosmic Avenger*

      You’re just spoiled due to the quality of the comments here, you’re used to your readers being able to use (un)common sense. ;)

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        But I think they’re the same people over there! Maybe I’m wrong.

        Basically, though, now all of Facebook thinks I’m not entirely sure if it’s a bad thing to scream obscenities at your employees :)

        1. Revanche*

          I suspect we’re not entirely the same group, judging by how many people here understood what you meant. (One data point: I’m not on FB so no overlap here!)

          1. The Cosmic Avenger*

            I’m on FB, and I Liked the AAM page, but I don’t read FB very often any more, and when I do I usually only have time for close friends and family.

            But I actually hopped on FB on my phone and checked the AAM page there, and I couldn’t find that post.

        2. Kyrielle*

          Data point, though – if I comment on a FB post, it gets shown to my friends (who may not friend/follow that person) if the security settings allow. And it draws attention to (and often only shares) with my friends *my* comment, they have to click thru to see the others.

          So after 1-2 people misunderstand it, people who don’t know you may see your post and the comment based on the misunderstanding, and may or may not even read the post itself in full before piling in, either. Then THEIR friends see it….

        3. Holly Olly Oxen Free*

          If they are the same commenters from over here then they definitely know you don’t think it’s ok to scream obscenities at your employees.

          If they’re not, well then maybe they will be enraged enough that they NEED to check out your blog and see what other awful advice you are giving (because that’s what I do when I read something ludicrous from a blogger online) and then quickly realize that you’re not actually that person at all.

    5. Sabrina*

      I was also baffled by those comments. I don’t think it’s you. Reading is fundamental!

    6. SLG*

      Did you see NPR’s April Fool’s joke related to articles and internet commenting? They published a story headlined something like “Why don’t people read books anymore,” with a long article saying essentially “If you’re reading this, don’t comment. This is an April Fool’s joke. Of course we know people read books. We want to see how many people only read the headline and then comment on the story.”

      The comments section blew up with arguments about why people don’t read books anymore. :-)

      I wonder if that’s part of what happened to your FB comment. Maybe people read it quickly, saw “mechanic … screaming at an employee … thinking about telling them … make employee’s life better or worse?” and jumped in with opinions.

    7. Anx*

      One thing that really irks me is employers taking crap out on employees. I’ve worked in those positions before and am a pretty sensitive person, so I loathed it. I’d much rather do the gruntiest, grossest, work than have to deal with smiling while being berated.

      I’m also not wealthy by any means. As a consumer, I do not want to settle for mistakes. I may have saved up all month to get out to eat; I don’t don’t want the wrong order, etc. I hate feeling like I’m in a positions where I have to deal with mistakes or shoddy service unless I’m willing to get an employee fired or yelled it.

    8. Bekx*

      Did you delete the post? I just went to read what people were saying and it’s not there

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Yeah, I decided I really didn’t want something up there that was leading people to think I thought screaming at an employee might improve their quality of life, and by the time I realized it was happening I was outside of the window where it would let me edit the post.

    9. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      Ohhhhh. I didn’t understand that either – I thought it was weird that folks were dwelling on that.

    1. GOG11*

      I saw that and was really surprised that debt didn’t show up sooner/play a larger role.

    2. Adam*

      This is why I decided against going to grad school. No giant rock snakes for me, thank you!

        1. Adam*

          I was slightly confused on that part. Was the guy with the beard a fellow grad student? A professor? A mentor?

          1. AmyNYC*

            I thought that was his dad (or just family/friends) rooting him on during senior year. And then maybe he died during grad school and gave money which helped power up the battery?

  18. Ali*

    I have some good news, but I also need some advice on dealing with people if anyone has ideas.

    First, the good: I am still getting interviews at a fairly decent rate. I interviewed with two separate companies about pharmacy tech positions, and I already booked one interview for next week with a company in NYC. (It’s a video call, though, so no need to travel. Yay!) Also, during my second tech interview, the pharmacist said I appeared to be motivated.

    But now my question: I don’t know if my first tech interview went well. I had to recount all my job history from the last 10 years, and I’ve admittedly struggled in some bad fit jobs and was laid off for economic reasons from my first job out of college. My mom and my sister, who have not had to job search during the recession, are grilling me about what’s going wrong in my interviews and making assumptions about why I haven’t had an offer yet. They are asking how I interview, do I make enough eye contact (a tough spot for me), do I present well, etc. and then assume I am not doing these things right. My mom even said “Ex convicts have an easier time than you; I don’t know what to tell you about what you’re doing wrong.” It made me feel really hurt. I’m getting interviews. I am trying to read AAM’s guide and write out answers to possible questions. I am upgrading my interview wardrobe where I can, making sure I wear the right clothes and appear polished. When I interview, some employers have given me compliments on the questions I ask them, the skills I bring to the table and how I’m well spoken. I’m just waiting for something to stick.

    I’ve also had people nitpick about the fact that I’ve applied for pharmacy tech jobs. They’ll say “Oh the salary isn’t great!” Yeah, but it would give me something stable and in demand to do while I look for something full time, and maybe it could even lead to a new career. How is this a bad thing?

    Any ideas on how to talk to people who are cutting me down and determined to pick apart my flaws? I’m willing to work on my interview presentation, but when I have people assuming I have something wrong with me or complaining about where I apply…that doesn’t help!

    1. Ayeaye*

      Deflect deflect deflect. Try not to have those conversations at all if you can, they’re not helpful to you or your search. Trust you know yourself, trust the actual interview feedback you get, be persistent. Hope you find something soon!

    2. Colette*

      Stop sharing with them. If they ask, say you’re still looking but don’t tell them where you’ve applied or interviewed.

    3. Future Analyst*

      Keep in mind that unless someone is in the room with you while you’re interviewing, they can’t possibly know how you’re interviewing. Family members are sometimes the worst people to talk to about job searching– my mom also always assumes that I’m doing things poorly, regardless of the outcomes. At the end of the day, none of what they have to say matters– what matters is how you come across to your interviewers. In the future, try telling them the interviews went “fine,” and that you’re trying to stay focused on not getting too invested in any one job, at least not until you’re actually offered the position. Good luck!!

    4. Dang*

      i’d honestly just stop sharing this information. “I’ll let you know when I have news.” “Like I’ve said before, I’ll let you know when I have news. I’d rather not talk about it.” The key is being consistent. I moved back in with my family when I was unemployed and they drove me up a wall asking me questions after interviews (and like your family, they hadn’t interviewed in years, even decades, so they didn’t “get” it anyway). The only thing that kept me sane was to not mention jobs I’d applied for or who called me back. And after an interview I’d say something like “it went well, but I don’t want to get too hung up on it so I’d rather not talk about it.” When you stop giving your mom and sister an in, they’ll be less able to criticize you.

    5. Revanche*

      Wow, yeah, those kinds of comments are just not helpful. I agree with the other commenters: share no more information or details. Just be generically upbeat and change the subject. Best of luck!

    6. Retail Lifer*

      I’ve taken all of the advice on here and I still can’t get an interview for stuff I appear to be totally qualified for. It’s not just you. Tell them THAT.

    7. Me*

      This. So much this. Listen, all of the above advice is amazing, and know you are not alone.
      I’m dealing with it too. Unfortunately, when I try the shut-downs, people are getting offended. But, seriously, tearing me down because I haven’t gotten a job yet is very much not helping.

      Actual advice I’ve received:
      1. Take anything.
      2. (I have an interdisciplinary background in X and Y)
      After applying for a job in X, “So, no Y, huh?”
      Me: “Well, X+Y is several states away”,
      (mentally adding: “And you gave me poodooh the last time I tried to move to somewhere with actual prospects.”)
      3. You need to get something (Like I don’t know that)

      Plus, an added bonus of friends mysteriously disappearing. Good times.
      Just be true to yourself, and come here when you need a dose of sanity.

    8. Not So NewReader*

      “Gee, Mom, I don’t know of many ex-cons that could get a job working in a pharmacy.”

      “And that boosts me up, HOW?”

      “Why would you say something like that?”

      Seems to me that you are going to work there, not these other people. So what difference is it to them what you are paid, etc.?

      These people are ticking me off here, you have worked hard at so many things right along. I am sorry to say this, but perhaps you need to look at the people around you. I think they are bringing you down when you are doing everything possible to lift yourself up. Why not ask them why they seem to be enjoying your “failures” so much? Or maybe not ask them. Maybe just quietly decide that you will find support else where. You are already entrenched in the comment section of the world’s best work advice blog. That is huge.So you found this blog, you can find more supportive people near you, too. Something will break for you very soon. Make sure you take good care of you and don’t get caught up in what the Negative Nancys and Skeptical Sams around you are saying.

      Just hang on to this: People either lift us up or they pull us down. There are very few people who are neutral. Make it a point to identify which category each person that you speak with is in. Yes, it does matter and over time it can be a quality of life issue.

    9. Cobalt-60*

      No advice about most of it, but I was a pharm tech for a couple of years. When you’re interviewing for those jobs, emphasize your customer service skills and your ability to work quickly and efficiently under pressure.

      I still have dreams sometimes about counting pills in multiples of 5…

    10. BananaPants*

      My husband had an unsuccessful job search last year and it was deeply frustrating to get the comments from what we called the peanut gallery – his retired father, his sister who has a very secure job with the federal government making a lot more than she would in the private sector, his BIL who got all of his jobs through connections with his old college buddies, and even my parents. There were a lot of hurtful comments:
      ~ “What’s wrong with you that you can’t even get a job at Walmart?”
      ~ “I know a guy who can get you a part time job as a gas station clerk – I don’t think you can f*ck that up.” (said by my BIL while drunk)
      ~ “You have a bachelor’s degree, so you really should have been able to find a job by now.”
      ~ “Take any job you can find and work your way up. A real man provides for his family.”
      ~ “He should just march in there and show them he’s confident and motivated!”

      The problem was that even if he could find a full time job at Walmart or Target, working the typical 36ish hours a week for $10/hour wouldn’t have come even close to paying for full time daycare for two kids. We would have been hemorrhaging money that we didn’t have, and none of the peanut gallery was offering to provide free childcare so he could go back to work! He’s been an at-home dad since last September. I was promoted last month with a decent raise and our oldest child is starting kindergarten in the fall (basically our daycare bill will be around 60% of what it was a year ago), so he’s planning to return to the workforce soon.

      Mr. BP just finished a pharmacy technician course at a local community college and is taking the PTCB exam next month to get the CPhT certification (crossing fingers he passes). His long term goal is to move into health information management but he wants to be working again and we need our finances to stabilize first. He chose to go for a pharmacy tech job because the training course was relatively short and inexpensive, it does not involve hands-on patient care (which just isn’t for him at all), it gets him knowledge of and exposure to the health care field, and it’s projected to have faster-than-average job growth through the next decade. His background has been in retail and customer service so he’s hoping to leverage that background with the CPhT certification to land at least a retail pharmacy job to start. We know it’s not a high-paying career but it can lead to higher-paying jobs in the long run.

      Good luck! Keep trying and ignore the naysayers. Stop sharing details of interviews and the job search, and when they ask for specifics, deflect to another subject.

  19. CrazyCatLady*

    I work for a tiny company. For high-level tasks, my boss defers to me but for completely menial tasks like ordering food or putting postage on an envelopes, he micromanages the crap out of me, constantly asking questions like did I weigh the envelope? did I remember to order food? It’s a relatively minor thing but it annoys me. Kind of just venting but if anyone has any suggestions, I’d be open to them. For what it’s worth, I have never forgotten to order anything nor have I ever messed up mailing something out.

    1. GOG11*

      I haven’t had to deal with too much of this and haven’t used what I’m about to suggest, so I’m not sure how effective it would be, but would replying with a bit of information about why you do what it is that you do so your boss understands that you understand the underlying logic/reason for doing the action and/or the consequences of not doing it? Something like, “yes, I weighed the envelope. I always do to ensure we use correct postage so it won’t get returned to us (or whatever makes sense).” You’d have to say this in a professional, pleasant tone so it doesn’t come off as snarky or annoyed, but maybe your boss would realise that you’ve got it handled?

      1. CrazyCatLady*

        Now that I think of it, I usually do say something like this: “Yes, I always weigh the envelopes to get the right postage.” so the next time it will be like, “Did you put the correct date on it?” and what I WANT to say, but obviously won’t, is “If this requires so much attention and is so difficult, maybe YOU should be doing these.”

        I just don’t get why he isn’t comfortable letting go of these minor tasks but doesn’t want anyone but me to handle far more important and relevant things.

        1. College Career Counselor*

          Just a thought but maybe the boss knows that HE would struggle with all these details so he thinks that by bringing up all the possible pinch points of the task, he’s being helpful? Or maybe he hates this kind of task, but just can’t let it go despite that? (I am THRILLED with my colleague who makes all the mailings/checks/food orders/etc. happen properly!)

          1. CrazyCatLady*

            That’s definitely a possibility. He also has had a lot of people in the past mess them up … I’m just not one of those people!

          2. BenAdminGeek*

            I’d lean towards having trouble letting it go. I have those tasks I hate, but hate to give to someone else, but hate to see done wrong. I really struggle to give them to others and walk away.

            1. CrazyCatLady*

              None of them are tasks he’s handled probably ever, since he’s the president of the company.

              1. puddin*

                Ah grasshopper, that is why he is is concerned about them. He really does not know how to organize that stuff himself, so he over-checks on whether its done or not.

                Next envelope weigh-in you could try asking him why he is asking you about these things…does he doubt your capability? That might get the message across.

    2. TNTT*

      As many have said here, “ain’t no crazy like small business crazy.”

      When I had that boss, I just held my breath and job searched until I could get out.

    3. TheExchequer*

      Also work for a small company; also have this happen. I think it’s just one of many, many delightful quirks to working in a small company.

    4. Delyssia*

      Sometimes, I find it helpful to overcommunicate with the micromanager to get in front of the litany of questions. For ordering food, it could be a quick email to confirm that you’ve placed the order, how many people it’s for, any special instructions you gave, and when it will deliver.

      But it depends on your boss, because some micromanagers would just respond to the email and either ask about the one thing you didn’t address in there or ask questions that you covered already…

      1. CrazyCatLady*

        Ugh, I do this too but it just doesn’t stop it. I don’t understand. It’s very rare that I don’t proactively communicate the status of almost everything just because I know he prefers to be in the loop. But sometimes, he’ll ask things before it’s even reasonable to ask things. For example, yesterday we talked about ordering pizza today for the holiday. He asked if I would do it. I said yes and put a reminder in my calendar. Before I could even give a status update, he asked at like 9am “So…. are you going to order pizza… or….?” I don’t know if it’s a memory problem for him? Or if he thinks I have a memory problem (though there is zero evidence of this)? Or if he’s micromanaging? Or just weird, haha.

        1. SadieCatie*

          I’ve been in a similar situation, CrazyCatLady. The endless nitpicking over simple tasks is frustrating. Even with immediate email confirmation and daily task recaps (with as many details as possible [and screen grabs! and pictures of outgoing mail! I kid not] to reassure the task had been handled), I knew that there would still be nitpicking.
          My coworker slipped one day and admitted that big boss never read my emails despite big boss’ insistence that the notifications and recaps be sent.
          It was an eye opener.
          I realized that it was more of a lazy “Hey, did I assign this? Where are we?” sort of deal.
          Less irritating when I thought about it that way. It’s not exactly a solution, but it may at least cut down on some of the stress.
          I sympathize entirely, hope this helps!

    5. the gold digger*

      I worked as a temp secretary at the World Bank once. The head secretary asked me to send a fax.

      Me: OK [reach for paper]

      HS [pulling paper back]: Now, after you send the fax, you need to wait for the FAX CONFIRMATION NOTICE.

      Me [reaching for paper]: I know.

      HS [holding paper back]: If the FAX CONFIRMATION NOTICE says “fax not sent,” then you need to RE-SEND THE FAX.

      Me [reaching for paper]: I know.

      HS [yanking paper back]: You have to wait for the “Fax sent” message on the FAX CONFIRMATION NOTICE.

      Me [sighing]: You must be used to working with really stupid people.

    6. Revanche*

      Is he at all reasonable? I once had a boss who did the same: would turn me loose on some pretty complex high level stuff and nitpick about the tiniest things. We had a chat about how it was a bit maddening to me and it turned out that it was just a bad habit she’d developed over the years and didn’t realize it was counterproductive. So, maybe?

      1. CrazyCatLady*

        He has his moments where he’s reasonable – but also moments when he’s unreasonable. How did you approach it?

    7. Not So NewReader*

      Having successfully transitions a boss or two from nervous nellie to smiling supervisor, I have a couple of ideas.

      My number one idea is to reframe this in your head. Tell yourself you are taking care of a very nervous person who has been screwed over by past employees. This means getting rid of the idea that he micromanages the crap out of you. Okay, let go of that micromanaging concept as best as you can, I know it is tough. Tell yourself that this is going to take a while. But also smile to yourself because you know you can change this guy’s workday/worklife.

      This brings me to the next step where you are that cool, confident employee. Don’t break stride with the trivial questions.
      “You betcha! I got the food ordered an hour ago, boss. All good here!”
      “Yep. That envelop is weighed and good to go! I know you worry about that so I made sure I took care of it. ”
      I am not saying “act happy”. I am saying exude confidence, you are in control, you know it and just let that show.

      With one boss, I was able to get her to vent about her previous problems. It helped her and it helped me. Through her examples of previous problems, I could see where she needed me to help the most. I learned my boundaries through these examples, too. Sometimes I would lay out work so she could double check it. I did not wait for her to ask, I just gave it to her. Trust is earned, it’s not automatic. Keep your work highly transparent.

      Another thing you can do to help the situation is anticipate the question. “Boss, I know you always like to know that I have ordered the food. So I just wanted to tell you, the food order is complete and it will be here at 12 noon sharp.” There is a lot of power in taking that preemptive strike. You know he is going to ask about the food, don’t wait, just tell him.

      You are taking care of a traumatized person. This is a person who has lost their faith in finding good help. Your goal is to restore that faith. This entails looking at everything through his eyes.

      Yes, it is hard to tell if it is a memory problem or if he is a professional worrywart. You will know in a while which one it is. But remember, people who feel that they have been screwed over are going to be rattled. Part of being rattled is not being able to hang on to a thought for very long. (Grieving people have the same experience- they forget all. the. time.)

      My guess is give it 6 months to a year using this these type of techniques. If you see no change then maybe consider moving on. For the moment, think of yourself as the strong one, he needs you because you can do a great job for him. If all goes well, you won’t need to tell yourself these little things for very long.

      1. AVP*

        Oh, coming from he micromanager’s side of this, these are all great ideas of suggestions of language. I am so relaxed looking at them.

        One other thing that makes me feel like I can stop worrying is when people respond to emails. A quick “got it” when you see a task coming your way, and an update when finished. That can either be a “okay, did it!” or “I talked to so and so and the quote is coming tomorrow for your approval but we need to decide by this week.” That’s way too much email for a lot of people but in the right situations it can work miracles.

    8. Snoskred*

      I go to a medical practice where, in the 5-10 minutes I have to sit in the waiting room, I witness the present front desk person being micromanaged by the practice manager, and it is that 5-10 minutes that tells me why there is a new desk person every time I go there.

      Every single thing is micromanaged, to the point that the poor girl is on the phone trying to speak to someone and the practice manager is talking non stop telling her what to ask, what to say next, and what to do.

      I don’t even know why she has a front desk person. She might as well do the job herself and save herself all that time of constantly riding the front desk person like she is an out of control stallion heading towards doing the wrong thing.. :)

    9. AVP*

      I’m replying late to this, but I work in a similar environment and both do this to other people and have it done to me often. I stopped being offended by it because I realized it’s not about me – the people around me are good at their jobs because they have a certain level of anxiety and extreme orientation towards details, and often they’re not micromanaging because of you. It’s a reflection on either something they’ve messed up in the past, or something someone else messed up once before you were in the job and now they have a bee in their bonnet about it. And now I’ve been in my job long enough to have seen things go horribly awry because my otherwise-stellar coworker forgot to check that a fedex package was delivered or ordered the wrong salad for a client or something equally mundane (or, um, did that myself) that I have a thing about them….

      Anyway, advice is to remember it’s probably not about you and try not to take it personally.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Really good advice and very important to keep at the forefront of your thinking each day.

        OP, you could find that you work into this and get use to it because of additional context. For example you could find that the boss basically is a super boss and you decide you are willing to over-look the constant double checking.

        One boss I was with for a couple of years and Boss still double-checked me, but it was a lot less in than in the beginning. And there were 100 other things that she did right. I had no problem letting her double checks blow by me. I could clearly see it was just her personality and had nothing to do with me.

  20. Nyla237*

    I work in IT and our department manager is currently going through a review of all of our job descriptions and pay scales because he found out so many of us have capped out at the top of the current pay grade we’re in or are very close to doing so. We have a department were the average tenure is currently 10 years with the organization. He’s asked for input from everyone since it’s been quite a few years since any of this was reviewed.

    My question is what sites can I look at for pay scale information and generic job descriptions that would be reasonably accurate? Is payscale.com good?

    1. Stephen King's Constant Reader*

      In my experience, it’s been a smorgasbord of websites and speaking to people in the industry, and of course it also depends on where you live because that’s a big part of it. Salary.com has been good for me and so has Glassdoor. I’ve never used payscale.com so I can’t really say. Again, though, I wouldn’t only rely on websites. I kind of start off just Googling my position and location and a lot of times, a pretty succinct range emerges that I can start with.

    2. Joey*

      I hate to say it but after 10 years your value to the company isn’t going to increase much, if at all beyond what it is, unless you take on more responsibility.

      Most org’s have this comp philosophy.

      Really the only thing you can do is try to look at what comparable jobs at comparable companies in the locations that compete for those folks. In other words you’d be looking at to compare and align salaries that will guard against folks leaving for competitors.

  21. Overthinking Anon*

    After spending the weekend telling myself “Nope nope nope nope nope” (I had to review a hilarious Sesame St. video on YouTube to recall the Yip yip characters), I got a call midweek asking for my references! I think I’m pretty likely to get an offer that I could enthusiastically accept. This isn’t just a very good job for me but a chance to move back home, which I’ve always wanted. Deep breaths! Thanks for all the nudges here to apply, to let it go, etc.

    1. Mimmy*

      Thank you for the Sesame Street reference – ahhh, childhood memories! :) My husband reminded me of those martians a few years ago.

  22. Foxtrot*

    I’m in college and starting to look at fall internships, some of which have an application deadline at the end of next week. My question is how do I handle my summer internship when I have just one week of experience and can’t really put any accomplishments on my resume? Should I just put dates on my resume? Expected duties? Or leave it off entirely? I feel like I should show that I’m doing something over the summer and not just goofing off.
    Unfortunately, I’m in engineering where cover letters aren’t a big thing, so I can’t address it there. We still do a lot of career fair hiring and the online applications are fill-in-the-blanks.

    1. GOG11*

      Could you put the organization, that it’s an internship, starting date-present, and a brief description of what you anticipate you’ll be doing or that you’ll be interning in a W department that does X, Y, and Z until “end date”?

    2. Future Analyst*

      Include your summer internship. It’s completely reasonable that you include it even though you’ve only been there a week, they likely have many applicants who are doing the same. List start date to current, or expected end-date, and include expected duties. (Hopefully the place where you’re currently interning has given you an outline of what you can expect to work on/learn there.) Keep in mind that they may not interview for a couple of weeks, or even months, so you should have some time work on what you’ll discuss in your interview.

    3. Spiky Plant*

      I would say included, with a note about expected duties based on the description.

  23. CarrieT*

    What is your personal catchphrase for self-motivation at work, when you just don’t feel like doing something but know you need to? Or when you want to boost your own confidence? What do you say to yourself to pump yourself up?

    1. Megalizabeth*

      “Just do it!” (borrowing from Nike)
      “You’re the star of your own movie, not the sidekick.”
      “Just keep swimming, just keep swimming….”

      1. Meg Murry*

        +1 to “just keep swimming” I may or may not have muttered that under my breath approximately 1000 times in a row when doing a tedious task to keep myself from screaming. Ingrid Michaelson’s line “All I can do is keep breathing” in repeat on my head helps too.

        I’ve also been known to tell myself to “suck it up, Buttercup” and setting outlook calendar alerts that say “Are you doing hated task yet? Go do it! Now!”

        I also sometimes remind myself of the summer I spent working in a factory, and my cousin who worked in at a stamping machine at that factory saying “please don’t cut my hand off” CUH-CHUNK “please don’t cut my hand off” CUH-CHUNK approximately 1000 times a day – at least I’m not actually risking limbs anymore.

    2. Isben Takes Tea*

      “If they didn’t think you could do it, they wouldn’t have hired you.”

    3. Dang*

      I’m a self-briber. “If you do it NOW, you can have a cup of coffee in 15 minutes.” Stupid things like that. But for some reason it works.

      I’m a pretty negative thinker, and I’ve been consciously been trying to at the very least think more neutrally (sometimes the normal “pump yourself up” things sound so ridiculous in my head that it just feels completely fake). So I’ll often catch myself going down the road I don’t want to god down, and then I’ll think something like, “self, it’s not that bad! remember this good thing that happened yesterday? that wouldn’t have happened if you totally sucked as an employee and human being.”

    4. HeyNonnyNonny*

      “Not my chair, not my problem”

      …I sometimes have problems letting go of things that really don’t matter and that I can’t solve.

    5. Jennifer*

      “I have to do whatever they want me to do, and I will get in whopping trouble if I don’t.”

    6. A Definite Beta Guy*

      “All fight, no quit.”
      “You’re not being the person Mr. Rogers knows you can be.”

    7. Maxwell Edison*

      When I was at ToxicJob, it was “Conceal it, don’t feel it.”

      Nowadays, it’s “Thank God I’m not at ToxicJob any more.”

    8. Spiky Plant*

      I’m competitive, so it’s usually something like “The best people eat this task for breakfast” or “You can’t be the best if you’re can’t get off your ass and do this.” Or even “you can’t get that amazing new job unless you have a killer reputation here.”

    9. ThursdaysGeek*

      I’m working for God, not just this company — am I representing him well? (And, I’d better get back to work.)

      1. I live to serve*

        I can do anything for twelve hours that would appall me if I had to do it for a lifetime.

    10. Editrix*

      they can call me crazy if i fail/
      all the chance that i need/
      is one-in-a-million/
      That they can call me brilliant/
      if i succeed (lyrics to Swandive by Ani di Franco)

    11. Felicia*

      “I’ve done it before, I can do it again” – not just for work, but for everything.

    12. Revanche*

      My absolute favorite saying from a really dismal professional time: “Don’t let nobody steal your joy today!”
      The job may have sucked but hearing that bucked me up every morning – I wasn’t going to let them take away my pride, dignity, or joy, no matter what came that day.

    13. puddin*

      You will feel better once this is done. It is the not doing that is stressing you out, not the task itself.

    14. Kyrielle*

      I self-bribe too. Or if it’s a confidence situation, I try to remind myself of similar situations that I have ROCKED in the past.

      And I totally have a playlist on my phone called “pump it up” and it has nothing to do with exercise. :)

      I also tend to keep kudos around from past successes to look at, but I’ll need to keep those on my phone for a while, since they’re all from OldJob and I don’t think I need those on display at NewJob. ;) Wrong impression.

    15. Dana*

      “If ____ can do it, I can do it” has worked well for me on occasion. I think of someone I know that I would consider myself as successful as or more successful than.

    16. Not So NewReader*

      I use bribes and catchy phrases. But sometimes that does not work. Sometimes a task is unusually nasty and I. don’t. wanna. big time. I tell myself that will I appear strong to other people if I just chug through Nasty Task. And this actually works, I have seen people raise an eyebrow, “You got WHAT? all done????!” You can almost see the respect. When nothing else works imagine the silent respect others MAY have for you for pushing yourself onward.

      People do notice, believe me. So this is not as crazy as it sounds.

    1. Jennifer*

      “We’re just like a family!” Sort of true, except if your family is kind of shitty and can boot out family members forever at a moment’s notice.

    2. Mockingjay*

      Yeah, my company is all about #1. They have a hard time understanding why we’re not closer.
      1. I already have a family.
      2. Corporate office is in another state. The only way we can be closer is to convert the conference rooms to Star Trek transporter rooms.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Well, at least he admits that companies lie.

      Employees have to say things like “I will work here for my next three lifetimes” because companies hold the cards.

  24. Liza*

    I was browsing through old posts and found one where a commenter imagined an AskAManager Magic 8-Ball. What answers do you think it would give? I’m thinking one answer on the AAM 8-Ball would be “Yes, it’s legal.” What else do you think it would have?

    1. TheExchequer*

      “Chocolate Teapots is a great industry!”

      “Black magic is one of many occupational hazards.”

      “Mentally move on.”

      “Revise your resume.”

      “Revise your cover letter.”

      “You don’t have a job offer until you have a job offer.”

    2. Kelly L.*

      You also need a “Nope, that’s actually not legal!” And a “Only in California.”

    3. GOG11*

      A really adorable cat photo. Breaks up the tension between “This person sucks and isn’t going to change” and “Get out now.”

    4. Development professional*

      “There are rare exceptions to this, but you’re probably not one of them.”

      1. Snargulfuss*

        Me too! I’d put it on my desk and then, in an open Friday forum, we could have another one of those “post a photo of your desk” threads (I vaguely remember that from a thread a few years back).

    5. Carrie in Scotland*

      I’ll go with “Ack, don’t do that!”

      (but I think we could incorporate some commenter’s in there too, so we could have Elizabeth West sharpening her skates and things like that)

        1. Elizabeth West*

          This is something I do in my chat room–one of our people drew a picture of us and actually drew me with the skates as big ninja weapons, ha ha ha!

  25. AdAgencyChick*

    I’ve been waiting for this!

    I would love to hear stories from people who’ve made a career change, whether changing to a similar job function in a different field, a different job in the same field, or both a different job and a different field all at once.

    How did you get the new place to give you a chance? Did you have golden handcuffs to break out of, and if so, how did you handle that transition?

    I’m in need of a little inspiration today!

    1. Vanishing Girl*

      I am working on that right now with my newish group. A big thing for me is to prove myself valuable to the group as a teammate who wants to improve things for the team, not just myself. I got some good advice to look around the dept. and make a list of things that need to be done that aren’t being done. Then look at those and take action: some smaller things that relate directly to my current role I can do without asking my supervisor. Others I can work with my supervisor to see if it’s a good thing to tackle. (Note: my supervisor is reasonable and welcomes ideas.)

      This is true of my last position here (new industry, new job). I ended up providing thorough and clear documentation for a complicated technical process that no one else wanted to do. That got me respect from my team and good feedback from supervisors in that department and eventually this position. Now to repeat the process with something different.

      How can you show you are valuable to the entire team? Is there something you can do well that needs to be done?

        1. RollaRoaster*

          *Passes the marshmallows and weenies* and waits to hear more successful tales of the mythical career change ;-)

    2. Not Today Satan*

      I just made an awesome career change! Basically a reversal (working for the bad guys and now helping the little guys). I volunteered at a similar agency before, and I think that helped prove how truly into this field I am.

    3. MaryMary*

      Luck? I moved to a different job within the same field, the equivalent of going from chocolate teapots to strawberry teapots. There’s actually a good amount of crossover and applicable skills, but there are enough applicants with years of experience in strawberry teapots that no one really looks at people with experience in chocolate teapots. I applied for a position that only specified that they wanted someone to work with teapots, and then the hiring manager took a liking to the idea that I could bring a fresh perspective. I sold myself to everyone else from there. But if it had been a different hiring manager (or, after working with him, if my resume had arrived on a different day when he was in a different mood), they would tossed my resume because I didn’t have experience with strawberry teapots.

      As for the golden handcuffs, I had come to the decision that if OldJob doubled my salary, I would still be just as miserable. Then I looked at my finances to figure out what I could give up and what I really didn’t need, and prepared myself to move to a smaller place or eat a lot of beans if it came to that. But Lady Luck smiled on me again, and I ended up matching my previous salary.

      1. abby*

        I think the “fresh perspective” I bring to my new role helps, as well. I switched from managing programs and projects to managing a business function that affects the entire organization. I know how it is on the other side and think that perspective helps me work better with people from the programmatic department.

    4. limenotapple*

      I switched fields in my mid-30s. The hardest part for me was starting from the bottom. In order to switch, I gave up pay and the respect of people in my old field, and had to prove myself all over again. Sometimes it was discouraging to be at the bottom, and sometimes I had imposter syndrome.

      However, if you know that you want to make the change, it is worth it (It was for me!). It didn’t take long to climb upwards and make a name for myself. I think it’s important to have realistic goals, for example, that unless it is a related field, I probably won’t come in at a high salary, etc.

      I also engaged in a lot of positive self-talk and attended a lot of networking events and social events with people in my field. Once I felt more comfortable socially and was connected, everything became easier.

      1. abby*

        I was in my mid 40s when I made my second change and started as an administrative assistant. That was very, very hard for me. Especially when I could see how the people I was working for were doing so many things so very, very wrong. It was frustrating to be in a position where I knew I could fix things, but my input was not welcome because of my position. Thankfully, that is changed now.

    5. Gandalf the Nude*

      I don’t know if I’d call it a career change since I haven’t really established a career yet, but my first few jobs were admin assistant positions, and last year I got a temp-perm job as an HR assistant. So, same principles, very different concepts, but it was something I’d wanted to learn since I was eyeing office manager as a potential career path.

      I was referred by the recruiting agency I was working with at the time, and the hiring manager liked my technical skills and personality. It helped, too, that I was cool with a 3 month stay, which would make it easy to part ways if it turned out HR wasn’t for me. Also, he was just a really good guy and was excited about teaching someone who was early in her career and eager to learn, which was awesome for me because it meant I’d have someone to show me the ropes and not just throw me to the wolves. Unfortunately, I ended up fending for myself anyway (and here’s where I out myself as a former LW) since he was diagnosed with cancer and died shortly after I started. So, I learned the field on my own pretty quickly as a matter of necessity just to keep the department running until my new boss was hired 3 months later.

      On the one hand, it was super stressful, especially since I was still on the recruiter’s payroll and wasn’t accumulating benefits or anything like that, and I was constantly worried that I’d fowl up payroll or something and get the company in trouble. There was a lot of deep breathes, bottles of wine, and tears behind closed office doors (the tears and breaths–the wine was off the clock!). On the other hand, though, I’ve done really well, thrived even, and it’s been super satisfying to know that, despite the circumstances, I came out ahead in the end. It’s one of the hardest things I’ve done work-wise, but I’m much better for it!

    6. Lalaith*

      This may not be useful for everyone, but I switched into a technical field, and my employer really only cared about whether I had the necessary skills (and it was an entry-level job). I did a lot of learning on my own time, and managed to pick up some freelance work to prove myself before being able to land a full-time job. No golden handcuffs, though – I’m actually afraid of that now, because I think I need to move on soon and I think I may be overpaid for what I currently do :-/

    7. afiendishthingy*

      I’ve talked about this here a number of times before mostly as it relates to my impostor syndrome. I think two big factors sealed the deal when I got hired last year for my current position – I hold a very in demand professional certification, and I’m bilingual, and the combination is pretty uncommon here. However I just completed the certification last year, and my previous experience is in the same field but a different setting and didn’t come with nearly so much responsibility. I’ve really been MUCH harder on myself during the transition than my employers have; I had a sit down with my supervisor last week in which she said “You have the skills, but you put your weaknesses up on a pedestal” – which I knew, but very nice to hear from a supervisor. So my difficulty has really been much more about me giving MYSELF a chance to learn and grow and make mistakes.

      Is your question related to a position you already have, or more about interviewing? Hopefully you have a supervisor or mentor that you can be frank with – “This is a big shift for me, I’m confident I can be great at this with time. What can we do to make sure I get the guidance I need to grow as a professional?” or something. Or if it’s something you’re interviewing for, ask in the interview about their training process, because you’re committed being a great employee but may need more guidance at the outset to fill in the gaps. Also be very ready to show how your past experience may transfer or give a helpful other-side perspective, but admit when you don’t know something.

    8. LQ*

      I lost a job at a TINY place and knew I wanted to go some place bigger. I got a job I was great at, but hated, but while in that job I was excessively good and worked very hard to make offers, grabs, and shows of the other things I could do. It was about a year in the job I hated (and I was interviewing elsewhere the entire time looking for something good but different). The same company recognized my aptitude for things other than that job I hated (and while I was very positive about the work and the opportunity, I did kind of make it clear that it wasn’t the best fit for me personally) and gave me a shot.

      I put a ton of effort into it and have managed to make a pretty big shift. It was more about sort of digging a crowbar in and grabbing everything I could and making sure that they saw while I was good at the other stuff I was AMAZING at the stuff I wanted to do and look doesn’t it do so much more for the company to have me make teapot making machines rather than make teapots.

      Basically I used to melt the chocolate and occasionally dabble in smoothing the handles on them, I’m now making teapot making machines. It was a several step process to get here but a lot of those steps were within the same company.

    9. abby*

      Haven’t read the other replies yet. I’ve made two big transitions in my career. First one was to a completely different industry but a related role. Second one was a completely different industry and a completely different role.

      Both times, I emphasized transferable skills. I learned as much about the organizations as I could, and spoke about my previous work experience in ways that I thought could relate to the new positions. Unfortunately at the time, both times I had to start at fairly entry-level positions, but moved up very rapidly. Once in the companies, I looked for things that needed to be done and did them, in addition to my formal job duties, which I think contributed to my rapid rise.

      The first transition was by choice and it was, honestly, much easier. There was enough overlap between the two positions and the skills required, and I was a strong enough candidate (several assessment tests and several interviews) that they were willing to take a chance on my lack of experience in the industry. I had a really steep learning curve, though, and for a while I was so confused about some things that I could not even formulate questions. But one day things clicked and I ended up being one of the primary go-to people, plus a primary trainer of both employees and clients on a number of topics. Training was not part of the formal job, just something I did well.

      The second transition was not by choice. The job mentioned just above came to an end because the governor in my state eliminated the program I had become an expert in. I attempted to transition to related work, but did not have success.

      Meanwhile, I had been volunteering at a nonprofit that I admired and the volunteer coordinator connected me with a department head that was looking for temporary help. So I started with the organization as an administrative assistant. I’d never done this before; my background is as a consultant analyst and project manager. I am honestly surprised they hired me for this role, because during all the discussions I had, I emphasized that I did not want to be an administrative assistant, but I was willing to do it short-term as a foot-in-the-door and as I continued to look for a “real job”.

      I was a terrible administrative assistant. It’s a much tougher job than I ever imagined. And, to be honest, I had a really hard time being given direction by those that I felt were my intellectual inferiors. I had to really get over myself. I constantly pushed for different work and made my boss’s life miserable. But I did my job well, fixed a lot of things, and stirred things up enough to force necessary changes that I caught the eye of my present boss. When there was an opening at a MUCH higher level in a different department, I was encourage to apply and got the job. I had no experience in this job, either, but I had a track record here of learning fast, having good judgment, and getting things done.

      So in my experience, I would say: Prepare to begin at a lower level. Be awesome at whatever they give you. Have a good attitude no matter what (I had to learn this). Look for work beyond your role, show value and ability to learn and transfer your knowledge and skills. Figure out what the organization needs and show how you can help with that. I have been able to carve out a neat niche with my job because of this, and I am super grateful that I am essentially writing my own job description because I can keep up with my stuff and also get to all this other, way more interesting stuff.

  26. CoffeeLover*

    I’m hoping someone can help with the work etiquette here (and maybe email wording). I went though a multi-round interview half a year ago. I got the job and will be starting in a few months (yay). I feel like closer to starting (or maybe after I start?) I should reach out to the partner I interviewed with, but I’m not really sure how to go about it. I figure a simple email is better than popping into his office. I’m also not really sure how to “remind” him of me. Should I thank him for giving me the job? I tried writing something just now, but it was so awkward. I’m hoping someone more eloquent can give me some guidance. Oh, and I’m not sure if this is relevant, but I’ll be doing project based work so I may or may not end up working under him (chances are I won’t given the number of partners/projects).

    (Also, I know Alison posted a similar question on May 12, but the situation feels different enough for me given this man interviewed me and hypothetically knows I’ll be starting to work soon.)

    1. Dang*

      How long ago did you get/agree to the offer? I see nothing wrong with a quick email thanking him for the opportunity and telling him that you’re really excited to get started.

      1. CoffeeLover*

        Between the time I got the offer and the time I start it will be 10months. I’m struggling most with the opening. “Hi Bob, I enjoyed meeting you last September during the interview.” or “We met last September during the interview for X position” I don’t know… it sounds weird to me.

    2. ace*

      If it’s anticipated that you’re going to be working with him, he’ll probably know when you’re starting.

      If you start work and don’t have any projects with him immediately — and don’t come across him in the hallway or at a lunch or anything — I might shoot an email from your work email address during your first week saying, “Dear Partner, I wanted to reach out to let you know I started earlier this week. I hope you’re well and [that case we talked about is progressing nicely/etc. if you can] and I look forward to working with you soon.”

      Don’t thank him for “giving you the job.” Don’t email him from your personal email address.

    3. fposte*

      Can you clarify what your goal is here? Maybe that’s why you’re having trouble figuring out what to do–you’re not sure of what you’re trying to accomplish.

      That being said, I like ace’s idea, and if your goal is a nice loop-closing courtesy, a post-hiring email would work perfectly.

      1. CoffeeLover*

        It’s mostly “close the loop” with a side of “develop internal network.” From what I understand, having a good internal network can really influence the kind of projects you get in this position (improve the chances of you getting on the project you want to get on).

        I like ace’s suggestion too. I might wait until I’m done the two week training (which is in a different city), and after I get my first project so I can give a more substantial update (and will know if I will be working under him at the start).

        1. Florida*

          I would wait until you have a feel for the place, then you can email and say, Thanks for interviewing and hiring me. I can already tell that this is a good place for me. Maybe point out some specific things about the workplace or culture that you like.

  27. infj*

    Should I be annoyed by this? I applied to a job listed on a company’s website. They called me for an interview (the very next day) and were very specific about the times/dates. About halfway through the interview it was revealed that there was no job, they were just looking to see who was out there for future reference. Now, it is a fast growing company but STILL. Does this feel…..thoughtless (disingenuous?) on their part? Had it been framed in this manner, I would have been more than happy to meet with the guy but wouldn’t have screwed up my schedule for the week to make it happen.

    1. Dang*

      Disingenuous, thoughtless, yes. Uncommon, no. I’m actually surprised that they admitted to this and I’m sorry you had to mess with your schedule for this.

    2. KJR*

      As someone who does the hiring for my company, I disagree with this approach too. Sure, it may benefit the employer down the road, but I consider it disrespectful of job seekers’ time. Plus, it puts unrealistic expectations out there, something job seekers do not need. I once had a consultant recommend that we do this, to “keep the pipeline full.” Obviously I passed on that suggestion.

      1. Natalie*

        Right, because the pipeline is somehow in danger of emptying. Have these people been paying attention to the economy?

    3. Nanc*

      Yep, thoughtless, nay let’s call in downright rude. When they post the “real” job, I’d be wary of applying.

      1. Anx*

        Beyond rude.

        Many job seekers aren’t exactly flush with cash. Every afternoon off, every venture on public transit/on in a car, every hair cut or new outfit costs money. An interview may mean scrimping on groceries or medicine or incurring extra interest delaying a payment.

        1. Agreed*

          Seriously! Arranging transportation & the cost of gas/bus/train ticket, transportation time/babysitter if needed, making sure your old work clothes still fit/finding something that does, taking the time to prepare, expending your ink and paper on resumes/internet access or transportation to a library, electricity and consumeables to wash the clothes/iron if needed, a haircut/female with no styling or blowdrying was $15 minimum the last time I checked…

          Something’s got to give to make room for these things. This could skipping meals or, as indicated above, not buying needed medication. I’m happy to do these things if I stand a chance, but don’t waste my resources just playing around.

        2. infj*

          To that point, I bought a new suit just for this interview. A few more interviews came through in the meantime so I would have needed it anyway but I easily put $500 into this specific interview: new suit, 2 full color, bound copies of my portfolio plus an extra early drop off at the babysitter (so I could get dressed without the risk of yogurt-covered toddler hands touching my brand new suit).

          Even without the suit, it costs me nearly $40 to print a copy of my portfolio. I usually bring one for every interviewer plus an extra. Inevitably someone keeps a copy (fine, expected) or they get smudged up. So I need new ones for almost every interview.

          1. Agreed*

            That’s ridiculous! At least you were able to re-use the suit…
            $40. per copy/per interview- wow. Totally understand why you’d want/need the visuals ready, but that’s crappy. Hopefully that diligence will pay off, though! :-)

            In my opinion, you are better off not working for someone so utterly disrespectful of interviewees. “Believe what people tell you about themselves”, as the saying goes.
            Good Luck!

    4. Sunflower*

      Have you ever applied or looked around on this company’s website before? Sometimes on website’s I’ll see ‘We don’t have any current openings but please submit your resume should something come up/see if you fit’ and I never do it because I figure it just gets dumped in the trash anyway. Maybe they weren’t getting enough submissions so they tried this instead. They probably should have 1. Announced in the initial phone call that there was no job available but they’d be interested in meeting with you and 2. The specificity of dates is crazy. If there’s no open position, why is it so necessary to talk to you ASAP? I’d still be pissed

    5. infj*

      This is the first time I’m looking for a job while holding a full time job. Trying to figure out how to discreetly accommodate interviews, phone screens, etc. is tough enough. I don’t need to be tricked into blowing a half day on something that should have been an early morning/after work discussion over coffee. I’m glad I’m not the only one with this expectation and I probably won’t consider reapplying for anything there or entertaining an offer should one come through.

      1. Kyrielle*

        Yeah, I am grateful that when I was searching, I only came across one of those and they were *up front* about what it was. I self-screened myself out of it…but was left with a positive impression of the company, because they were clear on what was being done.

    6. Lionness*

      That is horrible! It feels very deceptive to advertise a job, call you for an interview and then tell you there was no job and they were just fishing. I’d feel like my valuable time was wasted.

    7. Meg Murry*

      It’s possible “for future reference” is code for “we’re about to fire someone who currently holds this job” or “we’re in the running for a huge contract with a new client that would necessitate us to hire a bunch of people really fast” or “we just interviewed 3 internal candidates to move within our company, and one of the 3 will be getting it so we’ll have that opening to fill but we haven’t decided which one yet.” I worked at a company where 75% of the people at the R&D center had the title of “Chemist” so there was often a generic listing for “Chemist” on the website, and they would do 1st round screening interviews off of the people that applied to that, and then call them in for 2nd round interviews as positions opened up due to people leaving or internal shuffling.

      It’s possible they will call you back for a second interview for a specific position under a specific hiring manager, and I wouldn’t blow that off. But until then, yes, I’d put it in the back of your mind as if nothing is going to come of it, and then be pleasantly suprised if something does go forward.

      1. infj*

        That’s an interesting perspective and if it had been presented to me in that way, I would have been receptive.

    8. BRR*

      That’s bs. They just wasted your time and money. I would write a review on glassdoor about it. If it was me I would now NOT want to work there after this.

  28. Golden Yeti*

    I applied for an entry level banking job yesterday. In some ways I’m disappointed it’s come more to that and less to what I want to do or what I could see myself doing in the future. But, my situation is becoming increasingly less about a step up and more about mental health.

    Even though I don’t know how far along I’ll get in the process, I’m still concerned because this search has taken me so long. Friends have said they did “interim” type jobs and just left them off their resume. But I don’t know if it would be that simple for me–I could go into a job thinking “interim” and end up like now: job searching for years. I wanted my next move to set me on a path for the future. To what extent do you think random jobs can affect a future career?

    (Also I submitted a question to Alison that I’m curious about, but I’ll give it another week or two to throw it out here.)

    1. CoffeeLover*

      I think “interim” jobs come more from a place of necessity, but I would think having something on your resume is better than having a large gap of unemployment. Overall though, I wouldn’t close myself off from different possibilities. A lot of successful and happy professional I speak to ended up going down their career path after getting a job they never thought they would do. Depending on your desired job/career, it might not be a good market for you, and it might be time to look at other opportunities. It could just be the reality of the situation.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      This might be more of a philosophical answer that you would want but from what I am seeing I do not believe in randomness so much anymore. I am awed by how many experiences in life and in work come back later on and are totally useful.
      I think if I could speak to my younger self I would say, “Don’t take it so damn serious. Grab up as many experiences as possible. Roll up your sleeves, dig in and be a little sponge. Soak up anything and everything.”

      See you are still you. So even in picking a job to tie you over you are going to pick something out of a similar pool as you would a career type job. I hope that sentence make sense- for example: I would never work for a car repair place. This means I will not take a job repairing cars there, nor will I take a job answering phones there. I don’t know that much about cars and I am not interested in learning a ton. I am still me no matter what type of work I pick out. So we tend to pick things out of a similar pool. There tends to be common threads in what we pick. I usually pick something centered around living beings- plants, animals, people. I have a family member who, oddly, picks things centered around paper- banking, teaching, paper crafts.

      If you think you would like to try banking for a while, then go for it. What you learn there will not be wasted, ever.
      However, your best bet is to be deliberate with every step you make. Have a goal or a reason in mind. (You want to be running toward something and not running away from something else.)

    3. Sif*

      Having a “stop-gap” job at least shows that you’re willing to put yourself out there, and you can always learn transferable skills that you can use elsewhere, and also get some recent references out of it. It may not be ideal, but it’s still better than unemployment.

  29. TotesMaGoats*

    After resigning on Monday and finally being able to tell my staff on Wednesday, I was able to send the bulk “I’m leaving” emails out today my colleagues. The responses have been so humbling and it’s good to know that I really will be missed. It makes up for all the crap I’ve been through over the past few years.

    1. Maisie*

      Are you my old manager? If so, I will be so pleased, because she is the best manager I’ve had. If you are an American currently living in Scotland but soon to be working in England – hi!

      1. TotesMaGoats*

        Sorry Maisie, that’s not me. I kind of wish I was living in Scotland though!

        1. Carrie in Scotland*

          We are lovely, here! ;)

          It’s great that underneath all the crap, people really did appreciate you, Totes.

  30. Mimmy*

    Has anyone ever felt regret when a particular job or career path didn’t work out? This is something I’ve dealt with off and on, and I wonder if it’s part of why I hold myself back.

    In 2007-2008, I had a part-time job at a nonprofit. My particular job entailed giving information and resources by phone and email plus telephone intakes for a separate program. I really struggled with self-confidence and multi-tasking at this job, and the anxiety was pretty evident to my supervisor and my coworkers. I was eventually laid off after only 10 months there.

    I know this was years ago and I’ve had other awesome opportunities since then, but I still can’t help regretting having let my anxiety get the better of me and not allowing myself to grow in the position. Furthermore, this nonprofit is one of those that isn’t *just* direct services–it had every function you might find in a major nonprofit: public education, professional development (of those who work with the population this agency serves), fundraising, advocacy, resource library….you name it. I just feel like had I just relaxed, I could have had growth opportunities, either in the position I was in–I’m a huge “resource” junkie, and probably would’ve enjoyed manning the resource library or keeping the database up to date–or perhaps in one of the other areas.

    I definitely enjoy what I do now with school (except for my current class….) and volunteer councils, but I always go back to the “what ifs”.

    1. Dang*

      Sure, all the time. But I’ve found that the “what ifs” don’t serve an actual purpose other than making me more anxious and insecure. So I think your best bet is to let yourself off the hook. You’re doing something you enjoy, and that can be Enough.

      1. Ali*

        I am dealing with this right now. For the longest time, I wanted to work for a pro sports team and assumed I could easily find even a basic low-level job in the industry, like working game nights or selling tickets. I couldn’t even find those. The reality was that, unless you intern and volunteer for a long time in college and make the right connections, it’s really hard to get in the door. Which I didn’t know was so crucial for success. Last year, I even went to a seasonal hiring fair for the local minor league baseball team and did not get a job. It upset me that I couldn’t do what so many other employees seemed to do easily, but it helped me realize it was time to abandon pursuit of that goal.

        I’m now looking into other things that could make me just as happy, even working on the event/venue side of sports rather than being with a team. However, I still sometimes envy team employees who love their jobs and wish I could be in a cool environment. I wish I had known what it took to get into the industry and made the right moves during school. But for me, knowing when it was time to let go has helped a lot.

        1. Dana*

          “I wish I had known what it took to get into the industry and made the right moves during school.”

          THIS. Without writing my life history here, I’ll just say that I can fully appreciate this. I have days where I absolutely want to go back ten years in time and just re-do everything…or cry (and sometimes I do)…but I also have days where I feel like I can still change the world. I try to start each day being positive and hope for the best.

    2. MsM*

      The thing is, though, if you’d been good at the intake work, they probably would have wanted to keep you growing along the intake work path instead of letting you transition into something that would have been a better fit for you. And there’s no rule that you couldn’t apply for one of those openings as an external candidate, show off all the great experience you’ve gotten since you left them, and let them know how much you’d love to contribute to their mission in a role that utilizes your strengths. So I think the way things worked out was for the best, even if it doesn’t feel that way.

    3. goneanon*

      Not to sound to hippy-dippy, but it sounds like it just wasn’t the right time for you and that job. Maybe if it had come your way now, it would be different, but you probably still learned a lot from the experience even if you aren’t happy with how it happened.

      Also in 2008, I resigned from a position I never should have taken after about 4 weeks. I was completely unprepared for the job, I had little to no guidance from higher ups, it was in a foreign country, and oh yeah, I was having a MAJOR flare up of anxiety and depressive symptoms for which at that point I’d never sought treatment. Yeah, I still feel weird and uncomfortable thinking about it, but I also learned about going into jobs with my eyes open and not taking on more than I could handle. It still plays a role in getting me where I am today, which is not a bad place.

      The what ifs are tempting, I know. But you’re ok now, and maybe another opportunity will come along and you’re a different person than you were, so it’ll go differently.

    4. Cristina in England*

      It seems like maybe your anxiety then, and you blaming yourself now are related? I mean, like your anxiety is still present, just manifesting differently? I sometimes escape into whatifs when I am unhappy or anxious about something in my life, but I am trying to train myself into thankgoodnessthats instead. For example, when I am whatiffing about not knowing what I want out of my career, I snap myself out of it by saying “well thank goodness that I have this freelance job with this great client right now”. It helps me break out of that negative thought pattern in the moment.

    5. Cath in Canada*

      I sometimes still wish I’d applied for vet school, like I’d wanted to do for almost my whole life. I decided against it largely because I’d decided I wanted to do genetics research instead, and I never met a single person who knew that you could actually do both until it was too late.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      Sometimes when we lose something that grief over that loss remains pretty thick until we find the next big thing.
      It could be that when you land your next big thing that you will gain a new perspective.
      It could be that you need to keep the resource junkie stuff at the forefront of your thinking because you know that is an environment where you can thrive. Remembering the past pain forces you to remember where you can thrive.

      Going in the opposite direction maybe privately you feel that you are preventing yourself from growing in some way AGAIN. You might want to look at this one because it’s tricky. Maybe you actually can’t grow right now in all the ways you want because you have to do this other stuff. In other words, maybe additional growth right now is not reasonable yet you are nagging you about it. So if you privately feel like you are preventing yourself from growing now give it the reason-ability test. If your friend told you she had this exact problem would you think she had reasonable expectations of herself or no?

  31. MK8*

    I’m a recent college grad and I’ve been hired to work for a startup while I do my masters. I’ve signed my contract and I will be starting in August. My soon-to-be boss emailed me yesterday asking me to look over a template he is creating to send to new clients. It only took me 15 minutes so I did it quickly & then he asked if I had any ideas for another template. I want to be a team player & I know working for a startup there is a different mindset (everyone needs to be devoted to the app etc), but I’m also not getting paid for this. He sent me an email asking if I minded if he sent me some mails over the summer & I’m not sure how to respond. Any ideas?

    1. Dang*

      “I’m happy to discuss doing some work over the summer (if you are… if not, you are completely allowed to say no) but can we discuss how I will be compensated for this? It might change my current employment situation and I’d need to understand how this works first!”

      1. MK8*

        Do you think it matters that it is a start-up and everyone else has really devoted their lives to the project? I want to be considered a team player and get ahead, plus they have been really accommodating with me so far. I was thinking of saying I had some free time right now but when I go back to my home country for the summer, I might not be able to do as much? Also a friend is getting married in a different country at the end of August and I would like to take 1 or 2 days off then (she decided on the date after I already signed my contract). Do you think I could somehow leverage that time off in exchange for doing small work over the summer?

        1. Natalie*

          When you start a new company, or invest in a start up, you may work without a paycheck because you have an equity stake. In theory, your unpaid labor will be returned to you in the future when the company is profitable and you can sell it, borrow against it, or withdraw from it.

          Personally, as an employee I draw the line at unpaid work. I’ve never actually known anyone to benefit from it, except in the way you benefit when you enter a raffle and win a big pile of garbage. The reputation you build is as someone to take advantage of, and the theoretical job security ends up being either as a volunteer or someone significantly underpaid. And for me, personally, if my new job was the sort of place that expected me to prove my devotion to their mission by volunteering for the company, I would want to know that as soon as possible so I could find other employment and break the contract.

          I’m sure there are some people who have had other experiences, that’s just my two cents.

        2. E*

          Explain that your time between now and your start date is very limited. What assistance are you willing to offer? Reviewing a template in 15 minutes each week? Or multiple emails each week?

      2. steve g*

        I do not agree….he manager probably thinks he’s doing you a favor (and I think they are) by giving you a chance to get involved and to give feedback (which usually isn’t asked of people just out of school), so I would be happy for the emails and not ask for money – to which they will say “no” and it will make you look very ungrateful for being one of the lucky ones to get a job the week of graduation with built-in time off.

        I mean, if you made 25/hr….how much would this work even come to? ten dollars? Not worth hurting your image.

        Also seeing some stuff beforehand will totally help with first day jitters.

        1. Dang*

          I think it really depends on how much work he’s sending and what the expectations are.

          A few emails, 15 minutes here or there, sure. But it’s easy to see how that could slide into a few hours here or there, in which case it’s not fair to not compensate, especially if it is enough that the OP has to rearrange their schedule/not work a summer job/whatever.

          So I think it all depends on the situation, but maybe the first step is to ask how much is “some mail.”

    2. Frances*

      I would also files this away as a potential red flag – Will this employer respect the time you need for your grad school work? He’s signalling that he might not.

      Of course, no guarantees – It could be that he completely ends up respecting your class/dissertation time. But I would be wary.

    3. Thinking out loud*

      “I don’t have the opportunity to work full-time until August, but I’d love to help out on a part-time basis with projects like this in the interim. Is short-term contract work an option here?”

    4. Snargulfuss*

      Read the comments to yesterday’s question about the guy who is working for a start-up. They’re notorious for expecting people to do free work . I’m not saying that your company is like that, but you need to get comfortable with setting boundaries.

    5. Cristina in England*

      I tend to be pretty generous with this type of thing when I can, but I would pay attention to your own intuition as it goes along about whether he’s trying to take advantage. Maybe say something initially like you would be happy if this guy sent you a few emails over the summer but that you will be wrapping up a summer job/travelling in Europe/working on your Masters full time/whatever else you can think of that is even a little true so you will not be able to do anything complex or time-consuming. This will set the expectation that you’re not on call and have higher priorities until you actually start work but are willing to get a tiny head start and contribute.

  32. Benedicta*

    I’m one of the final two candidates for a senior position that the hiring manager wanted to have accepted by Wednesday May 27. The hiring manager called all of my references on Tuesday. On Wednesday, one who had missed his call returned and found that he was on vacation through Monday (Memorial Day). That means, if he hasn’t offered yet, he will offer on Tuesday for acceptance on Wednesday– practically no time to negotiate.

    What’s more likely: that he already offered the position to the other guy; that he will offer on Tuesday for acceptance on Wednesday; or that he is pushing back his timeline, despite wanting to make an announcement to his Board?

  33. ElCee*

    Internal hiring Q: I was interviewed first for a position in another division of my agency, but close enough that we often work together and I already knew the hiring manager. They still have a handful of external candidates to interview. How much of an edge, if any, might I have on external people? It’s a jump up from my current position (think associate program officer -> program officer) but I have a ton of institutional and specific subject matter knowledge by dint of my current position.

    1. Thinking out loud*

      If that hiring manager knows you and likes/respects you, I think you have some edge. That said, an external candidate may come up who’s a great fit for a variety of reasons, so don’t get too excited – I’d still assume that you don’t have the job until you do.

    2. Revanche*

      IME: Depends on how well you prepared. I’ve had internal candidates who literally told me they assumed they’d get the position and were only going through the motions of the interview and lose the job against external candidates who actually took it seriously. When we had internal candidates actually show up for the interview like a candidate, they’ve knocked my socks off with great ideas and were successful hires.

  34. Seven Day Weekend*

    I’m the manager of a department. I have a senior person, “Joanne,” who has been here for several years. “Alex” has been here the same length of time. The two others, “Sue” and “Marcy,” and I have been here less than a year. So, five people including me.

    So, yesterday my boss and I were talking about managing people and how it’s great when people do what they’re supposed to do, but it sucks when people don’t. Wouldn’t you know –Alex comes to me yesterday late afternoon and explains that she feels Sue isn’t as productive as she should be, either due to too much time on her cell phone (posting selfies on Instagram, surfing Twitter and FB, etc.) or taking way too much time to clear items that are assigned to her. Alex asked if I had assigned any work to Sue; I hadn’t. She said that she and Joanne didn’t either, since Marcy was on vacation and Sue would be doing Marcy’s work also. So, Sue was working on only one task the whole week. Alex decided to run a report that gives a rough idea as to Sue’s productivity and it showed that Sue is taking way too long to clear the items she’s supposed to clear. Basically, it boils down to either wasting a ton of time, or just diving way too deep on each item. Either way, I’m told it’s causing Alex’s and Joanne’s workloads to get backed up since Sue is no longer asking if they need some help.

    Alex then told me that Sue called her on her day off and was asking her work questions. Apparently they were questions that could have been asked of me or Joanne; there was no reason to call Alex. In addition, the questions point to Sue not trusting her own judgment. I know that comes with time, but in this case she should be asking less of these questions.

    I’ve got a few issues here, in my opinion: 1) I feel that, while Alex discussed this with Joanne, the senior person, Joanne should have been the one to come to me. Not only because she’s senior to them, but because she has to maturity and experience to make certain judgments based on the information she’s getting; 2) Alex took it a little too far in running a report to figure out how much time Sue is possibly wasting. I feel like she’s overstepping a bit; 3) people calling coworkers on their day off for trivial issues or things that can be dealt with by others; and 4) people spending too much time on their cell phones, and it’s affecting the workload of others.

    I think #3 is easy to handle. I just need to make it clear that I am someone who values time off and I expect everyone to value others’ time off. Also, if someone is calling a non-exempt person at home, that person needs to be paid for the time spent on work-related issues. That could create unnecessary overtime, which cuts into our budget. #4 is easy, too. Just let them know that checking their email or sending off a text or two is fine when it’s a few minutes here and there, web surfing and selfies should be left for lunchtime. I’m thinking of having a quick meeting amongst us all to go over these items, plus a few other “housekeeping” items.

    Not sure how to handle #1 and #2. I don’t know if I’m overreacting a little at Alex’s involvement, since this does affect her, too, not just Joanne. To give you some background, Alex is young and is very aggressive in her desire to move up and learn more; she’s basically a rock star and she’s awesome. Joanne is older and more experienced, but I think while she can crack the whip, she seems to be kind of in her own world when she’s working, so she didn’t notice that Sue wasn’t working as quickly as she should.

    One of the things I will make it a point to do is to check in with the group a few times a day. I’m really bad with just being off on my own, doing what I need to do, and just assuming everything is hunky dory; I’ve struggled with this a lot in the past. At Old Old Job I was in an office and my people were right outside my office so it was easy to be in the loop. All I had to do was yell out the door or keep an ear cocked. Here, I’m in an office that’s down the hall from the team; it’s so easy to just do my work and not mingle.

    Any advice for any of this?

    1. Christy*

      It seems to me like you need to be more directly involved with everyone. If you ask me, you should have a sense that Sue is unproductive without another employee having to run a report on her.

    2. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Now, without knowing your industry it’s hard to say, but the things that stick out to me are 1) people are waiting for Sue to ask for work, and 2) no one noticed that she is not productive until Alex ran the report.

      It would seem in the jobs that I’ve been in that you or Joanne should be monitoring Sue’s workload and/or assigning her tasks as you need them done. I would also expect one of you to be running these reports periodically to check on productivity if you don’t actively follow workloads. That way you would have known that her productivity was unacceptably low sooner. (That is, assuming you don’t have a ticketing/job tracking system like ZenDesk.)

      Are there reasons that those things can’t or shouldn’t be done, or are they just “not expected” or not common?

      1. Seven Day Weekend*

        The system we use for said tasks doesn’t have a great reporting system – there’s no such thing, really, as a “productivity report.” We’ve spent the last 6 months (the amount of time I’ve been there) figuring out how to use this system to its capabilities, so we haven’t tried to do any productivity monitoring yet; it’s one of the many things on the to-do list and it’s near the bottom. We’ve also had a huge backlog of work to catch up on since it was a two-person department and is now five people.

    3. Isben Takes Tea*

      The first thing I would do is verify, verify, verify! There have been several stories here where coworker complaints were false, and you’d be relying on evidence from someone who seems pretty invested in proving their point.

      It also sounds way off base that one coworker is trying to evaluate another coworker’s effectiveness–that should be the manager’s job.

      This situation sounds like it’s a giant warning flag that whatever managing strategies you were employing ate not working, but you already seem to recognize that.

      If checking in several times a day doesn’t work, I suggest having all your reports send you weekly status reports: you can see everyone’s workload and how they’re moving through them.

      Good luck!

      1. Isben Takes Tea*

        And I didn’t mean that to be condescending–“already seem to recognize” was poorly phrased. You identified a problematic situation and are getting advice, which is what all of us wish our managers would do!

        1. Seven Day Weekend*

          I know what you mean and it didn’t seem condescending at all.

          Yes, that is what annoyed me, I think, that she spent her valuable time on running a report to see what Sue’s doing. I think it comes from the fact that it was a two-person department before the rest of us arrived. They were absolutely drowning before we got here. They were working very long days, couldn’t keep up with the flow, crying at their desks daily, etc. Finally the company was told by an outside party that they NEED to add more staff. So now when they see someone not being as productive as they could be, it really grates on them. They see it as, “Here we are, working our asses off, while Sue is taking selfies.” And I totally get that; it sucks. Not making excuses, but just explaining why Alex might have take it upon herself to run reports.

          1. The Cosmic Avenger*

            Ah. It sounds like Alex is having trouble decompressing now that you actually have sufficient staffing. I still think the more senior people (whether it’s just you, or Joanne, or also Alex) should be doling out assignments to the junior staff. It seems odd to me to wait for them come to you to ask for work, although maybe it depends on the nature of the work and the work culture.

            1. Seven Day Weekend*

              A lot of what we do consists of daily, weekly and monthly tasks. There aren’t a lot of “projects” that come along, so there isn’t a lot of extra work to dole out. When people are done with their regular tasks they will ask others if they need help with their work. Sue had been doing exactly that up until the last couple weeks, from what I’m told.

          2. Beezus*

            It would grate on me, if I approved those additional people and then walked through to see someone appearing to be unoccupied. I’d assume it was a fluke once, but if it became a repeat thing, I would conclude you didn’t need quite as many people as you added. The wrong person drawing that conclusion could cost you a team spot.

    4. RoseTyler*

      Unless Alex reports to Joanne, it was appropriate for Alex to come directly to you. I take from your question that you directly supervise everyone in the situation (i.e. nobody reports directly to Joanne), is that right?

      I would tell Alex that you appreciate that she came to you to voice a frustration, but next time you’d encourage her to come to you and chat about the issue before taking it upon herself to run a report, as that’s really something that should be left for you to handle as you see fit.

      You need to be more closely monitoring project flow if two members of the team are swamped and one person is plodding along on one task the entire week. I think it goes beyond checking in with people a few times/day – you need to be monitoring project completion as a whole, not just what individual people are doing. I’d look into online collaboration tools or other methods that will show you the big picture of how work is flowing across your department.

      1. Seven Day Weekend*

        Yes, you’re right in that Alex does not directly report to Joanne. They all report to me.

        In between the time I wrote this and now I’ve talked to both Alex and Joanne – they were in my office for something else – and I told Alex that I’d take it from here and not to worry about it. Joanne admitted that she didn’t realize Sue was doing one thing the whole week. Joanne tends to be very heads-down with her work, since most of it involves research.

        Sue’s work is very routine (she’s Junior Teapot Analyst), and takes place daily, so it’s not a “project” she’s working on, but I understand what you’re saying. I want to see what our system can provide to us that would give some reliable productivity information.

        1. Meg Murry*

          Is anyone telling Sue how long she’s expected to work on the task when giving it to her? I agree with other commenters that waiting for Sue to come say “I’m done with task A, now give me more” isn’t really the best way to dole out work – if I don’t think there is anything pressing going on, I could spin out one task to last a week to really dig deep into the heart of it, or I could bang it out in a less thorough but sufficient way in half a day and move on to the next thing on the to-do list if it is starting to back up.

          When I was junior like Sue, I worked much better when someone said “here is task A, and I need it by Tuesday at noon, here is task B – it’s quick but I don’t need it until Friday and here is task C that will take a while and I also need by Friday”. That way I could work hard on task A, but when I needed a mental break I could switch to Task B or C instead of switching to Facebook, Instagram (or, ahem, AAM).

          1. Seven Day Weekend*

            We’ve talked about it as a group in the past (when we were all working on it to catch up), but I will now need to talk more pointedly to her about it since she’s doing the bulk of it. Especially now that we are going to start cross training and have an actual project to work on.

            Even as a manager, many times I find I work better when I’m given a task and told when it needs to be completed. Sure, I control my own workflow for the most part, but it helps to have my boss give me something that has a hard timeline.

            1. Meg Murry*

              Can you also enable Alex to just say to Sue “Hey, I’m really backlogged/swamped/whatever here – when you finish with your current tasks can you please come help me out?” Sue might just need a reminder that just because no one is saying “do this now!” doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty of work to do. Or would you rather this all go through you, and you say that to Sue?

              1. Seven Day Weekend*

                She already knows. She and Joanne were doing that for awhile, but I think they’ve been a little lax about that lately. Our work is mostly steady, but we definitely have times of much higher volume. I think it’s a matter of them being more “heads down” lately and me not being over there to “visit” as much as I should. And of Sue not asking for work like she used to.

    5. Xarcady*

      I ran a report on a co-worker once, in order to bring an issue up with my manager. I wanted some sort of proof of what Co-worker was doing, so as to avoid the awkward, “Well, it seems like she is doing . . . ” and “I get the feeling that . . . ” Instead, I was able to show my manager the facts of what was going on.

      So my take on the report is that Alex was just trying to get some facts to back up what she was saying.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      Joanne: Does she know you expect her to take some sort of lead? She does not seem to be aware of that. And so far, based on what you say here, she does not seem to have that global overview that a lead would need to have.

      Alex: As another poster said she probably felt you would not believe her or act on anything she said without some concrete proof. She already knows she can’t go to Joanne with a problem like this.

      Sue: She needs to have a sit down chat.

      It looks to me like you have been so focused on going through the learning curve of your new job that your employees have really been struggling. Yep, you do need to spend sometime observing them, but also ask them where their struggles and hassles are. Listen. You might find some surprises.

      If you have not done this already, let them know what your expectations are. This covers a lot of things such as setting limits on behaviors such as cell usage, what you expect for productivity and what you expect them to do if they need help.

    7. Ask a Manager* Post author

      How exactly are you managing Sue? How are you assigning and monitoring her work, checking in with her, and giving her feedback? How do you know what she’s working on, what she’s completing, and what the quality of that work is?

      I ask because in addition to everything else you mentioned, this situation is a flag sounds like a flag that you need a better system for managing her; you want this to be the kind of thing that you’ll spot without other employees bringing it to you. (After all, if Alex hadn’t, it could have gone on for a longer time.) I’d take it a signal that you need to more closely manage Sue and maybe create better systems to allow you to do that.

      I also wouldn’t go the group meeting route for addressing the stuff you said you might address as a group. These are Sue issues; address them directly with Sue.

  35. weekend is here*

    Does anyone have any “I left corporate America” success stories? I need some inspiration….badly.

    1. Muriel Heslop*

      I left Corporate America for public education and have never looked back. It’s not everyone’s definition of a success story but it definitely was the right choice for me. Hang in there! There are so many ways for people to make their own career path these days – good luck!

    2. Maxwell Edison*

      I left Corporate ToxicJob back in December and have been full-time freelancing ever since. I couldn’t have done it if I was solo, as I make a fraction of what I used to, but we live off spouse’s income and use mine for occasional big expenses like tuition, taxes, etc.

      I don’t mind the reduced income because I am so much happier. Over the years my position at Corporate ToxicJob had been morphed into something I hated and was not good at, and I was being targeted for layoffs (I was so paranoid that I might actually be fired that I resigned rather than wait for layoff and severance). Now, I do work that I actually enjoy and that uses my skill set. I have happy clients and repeat customers. My time is more flexible, which is a big plus since my spouse travels a lot now and the kid’s schedule is variable. My mental and physical health has improved and I’ve lost weight. I’ve been able to go off anti-anxiety meds.

      It gets a bit tight at times, and the spouse and kid don’t always like hearing that “we can’t afford X.” But I am so much happier. I’m still in touch with people at Corporate ToxicJob and things have only gotten nuttier since I left, so no regrets for me on that score.

    3. Lucky*

      After a lay-off in 2008 (following a 2001 lay-off at the same company that made her into a contractor/vendor) a friend of my quit corporate recruiting and went to culinary school. Now she runs her own catering company and works as a private chef to several people, including a local-sports-team hero. Her clients love her, she loves her work and she is happier than I have ever seen her.

  36. Zorro*

    What is the proper etiquette for asking for time to accept a job offer when you are interviewing for multiple jobs, long distance, in several different states?

    For example, you fly out and interview for a job in the North West, and they offer you a job two days later. But the next week you have an interview in the Midwest and the week after that you have an interview in New England. Both of the future interviews are flying you out at their expense and have already booked the flights. Obviously the North West job wants an answer as soon as possible as they have other candidates waiting.

    Assuming you wouldn’t turn down the North West job even if it was the only offer you got, should you accept it and turn down the future interviews? ask for two weeks to decide to go on the other interviews? ask for one week and cancel only the New England interview? accept but go on the other interviews knowing you’ll be turning down any offers? Does asking for more time depend on how long you’d be asking for? what if it was three weeks or a month?

    What is the ideal way to handle this or a similar situation?

    1. ElCee*

      Congrats on the offer! If you know that’s the one you want to take, there’s no sense in wasting everyone’s time. I’m not a hiring manager but a candidate asking for a week to think doesn’t seem particularly crazy.
      One thing to consider is that the other jobs might be able to reschedule the flights for other/future candidates if you give them enough time to cancel.

    2. Traveler*

      First off, whoa! That is complicated. I don’t think you can ask for three weeks to a month. That means at earliest, they couldn’t have you on site for 6-8 weeks and that’s generally more time than a company wants to spend waiting. It also makes it sound like they are your plan b. If you are interested in the NW job, I’d take it and cancel the other two. If you’re on the fence, and the other companies seem interesting, I’d contact them now, relate that you have a job offer but you are still very interested in them and see if there is anyway possible to move up the date or switch the format (phone or skype). They can typically get refunds on flights, and I’m sure this isn’t the first time this has happened.

    3. Dr. Ruthless*

      This is pretty common in my field, which has a compressed annual job market.

      It’s totally fine to call one or both of the places that you have interviews lined up with and say that you’ve received an offer with a deadline of X. They may scramble to interview you early, they may replace your in-person interview with a Skype or phone interview, or they may say “ok, good luck!” and move on to the next candidate. It’s reasonable (though perhaps not necessary) to tell them the terms of your offer–I got an offer from X company for $Y. (When candidates have told me that they’ve received offers, I’ve asked where from [but clarified that they didn’t have to tell me], and they’ve always chosen to tell me.) This can help the other places decide whether it’s likely that they will be able to make a reasonable offer. Your current offer might be $10k over their maximum–that’s important information for both of you to know before anyone scrambles to do anything.

      Last note: you should only ask companies to do a scramble if there are fair odds that you’d take the job if offered. If the North West job is your preferred job (and it’s unlikely that the other companies could offer you so much money that you’d take them instead), then it’s better to just say that you’ve gotten an offer and are planning on accepting it, thank them for their consideration, etc.

  37. Ann Furthermore*

    My 10 days of testing with needy, clueless, difficult, and unreasonable users mercifully ended yesterday. This project still has one month to go, but at least now I’m back working on my own and not having to lead testing sessions all day long, which is waaayyyyy too much human interaction for me. But the support for this project post go-live is going to be terrible, and I’m not looking forward to it.

    1. Nanc*

      I have no helpful response or suggestion but did want to say that your description of your 10 days of testing woes makes me want to write a parody to the tune/style of the 12 Days of Christmas.

      In my defense, I’ve had no coffee and am procrastinating . . . (not much of a defense, but there ya go).

  38. sprinkles!*

    Does anyone else out there hate Lync? Here’s the thing: I’m super responsive to emails and phone calls. I hate being interrupted constantly by Lync. Every when I put it on “do not disturb” people still try to get ahold of me. In my Lync account, I clearly state that email is my preferred method of contact. (Our culture is very much CYA and email seems to work best for me )

    1. The Other Dawn*

      We use Lync. I actually like it, but I came from two places that didn’t allow IM. The conversation history is saved in Outlook (not sure if that’s universal, though) so wouldn’t that be sufficient for CYA purposes? Obviously in situations that require more formal documentation that likely wouldn’t work, but I would think for just having a written record that would be enough.

    2. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Nope, I don’t hate it because my co-workers are mostly pretty good about using it for a quick question that requires a quick answer for them (or me) to proceed with the task at hand.

      I do get a little annoyed at coworkers who IM me with just “Hi, Cosmic”. Come on! Just ask your question up front, don’t make me stop what I’m working on without knowing what you want! I could have looked up your answer if you had just done that!

      Not a big deal, just a minor but persistent annoyance. Luckily, I really do like the two people who do that to me. :) Actually my biggest annoyance are the people who never sign in.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        Sorry sprinkles!, I guess that wasn’t very helpful. This reminds me very much of the recent questions Alison has answered about bosses or coworkers expecting 24/7 responses to phone and/or email. Can you ignore IMs when you’re DND, or paste in “I’m sorry, I’m in the middle of something critical right now, which is why my status is set to Do Not Disturb. I’ll get back to you as soon as I’m free”? Or are these people who think they have a hair-on-fire emergency multiple times a day?

      2. the gold digger*

        Oh! I do that to see if they are actually available. I mean, I never message someone unless I have an actual question or want to call, but perhaps I should append the “Hi Wakeen” with “Do you have the May TPS report ready? If not, when do you think you will have it?”

        You raised an issue I had not considered but I will change how I do things. I don’t want to annoy people! I just want an answer.

        1. The Cosmic Avenger*

          Well, I know that’s some peoples’ communication style, I just find it a little irritating when I have to stop what I’m doing before I know what they want, because I see it as an unnecessary extra step. But since I really do like the two main offenders personally, I remind myself that they probably consider it polite to check in whether I’m free before asking a question.

    3. Beancounter in Texas*

      My hubby uses it, but I’ve never laid eyes on it. Does it notify you visually, audibly or both? Can you control the notifications based on status? I would think a status of DND would also silence notifications to you, so that you’re truly not disturbed. I’m going to ask hubby…

      1. Beancounter in Texas*

        Hubby said no, but I found this in Office’s support pages. The other thing you can do is establish boundaries. If someone repeatedly disturbs you, don’t give them what they want. Type, “I’m focused on an important task right now, which is why I’m DND. Please do not message me now.”

        How do I disable IM alert sounds?

        You can instruct Lync not to play your audible IM and/or phone alerts whenever your presence says Do not Disturb, and you can further instruct Lync to notify you only if the person trying to contact you is a member of your workgroup with that privacy relationship.

        To view and adjust these settings:

        Click the Options button in the Lync main window, and then click Alerts.

        To turn the audible alerts off altogether:

        Click the Options button in the Lync main window, click Ringtones and Sounds, and then clear the Play sounds in Lync 2010 (including ringtones for incoming alerts and IM alerts) check box.

    4. The IT Manager*

      I really like it. My email is a black hole. Lync’s IMs are great for those quick, easy to answer questions.

      1. The IT Manager*

        Doesn’t do not disturb prevent you from even seeing the Lync requests? If I see someone marked do not disturb, I don’t even try to IM them.

    5. Helka*

      I actually wish my coworkers would use it more; for quick things, they’re more inclined to come over to my cube and try to talk to me face-to-face, and it’s the worst productivity killer for me.

    6. Rebecca*

      We use both Lync and AIM. So, if I don’t answer one, the other pops up. And then the phone call. Never mind that I might just be busy and need a few minutes. I wish they’d both go away.

    7. limenotapple*

      I hate it in my organization because it is not used for communication as much as it is used just to see if people are around, and if they are really at their desk, and it takes forever to get going when I turn on my computer. If we could use it to cut down on emails, I’d be all for it.

    8. Ann Furthermore*

      That’s weird, in the version of Lync that we use, if you try to IM someone who is on Do Not Disturb, it won’t even let you send the message.

    9. puddin*

      Lync is the devil.

      I also save my convo threads for CYA purposes. I frequently have to ‘move’ people off of Lync and into email, copying and pasting the thread along the way.

      My main issue is that people do not use it for a quick question. Not to mention that my new boss seems to want to use it to track where I am. Look at my dayum calendar!

  39. LisaLee*

    I’ve written here once before about Terrible Boss (brief recap: inefficient, ineffective, blames his inability to do his job on age, etc). Luckily, Terrible Boss has finally decided (or been forced) to retire! Yay!

    Unfortunately, The Powers That Be have decided to hire someone with the exact same problems. Lucinda seems like a very nice person, but prior to this promotion she was working at a job (a little below my level, even) at a wholly different department. She, like Terrible Boss, has very little knowledge of even the basic things we do. I’ve been tasked with training her these past couple weeks, and it’s just so annoying. She needs help with things entry-leve employees should know, like how to add or delete rows in Excel, and she has no ability to try and work things out on her own before asking me. For example, she’s had to ask me how to send, reply to, and edit (etc) emails in our email system. I get that this might be unfamiliar, but its a basic system that’s fairly intuitive and she really should be able to figure it out.

    She also has lots of ideas for changing things that are not really helpful or as easy to implement as she thinks. She keeps bringing up these ideas even after people have hinted that she doesn’t really know how our department functions or what systems we already have in place.

    I know the answer to all this is “find a new job” (I’m trying!), but what do I do in the meantime? Have you ever had to deal with a boss who is just incompetent and comes to you for help? And what do I or my coworkers say about her unhelpful suggestions?

    This whole thing is really driving me nuts–I’d hoped for a good boss after Terrible Boss’s retirement, especially since it seemed like The Powers That Be were aware of the issues with him.

    1. infj*

      Ugh. I have a similar terrible boss. but he’s one of two partners at my firm. Wont write his own Emails, cant find documents on the server, everything you could imagine. Its nerve wracking. I decided that i wasnt there to do my actual job. But to be as pleasant and cooperative as i could be. I do the stupidest things with a smile on my face. It makes it feel like a game to me. Like the joke is on him. it sounds stupid but it worked for me for three years until i started job searching 6 months ago. you better believe i will be smiling even more when i resign and tell him to type his own emails. What a waste of resources to have an experienced senior project manager waste their time on that kind of nonsense.

      Good luck to you! Just keep your head up.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      I guess you have to stop hinting and speak directly. Hand-holding really does her no favors. Can you teach her how to find answers on her own?

      It seems like you are basically running the place right now. Do you think that you can persuade her on some changes that you are interested in? It might help distract her from her own bad ideas.

      1. LisaLee*

        I am definitely considering being more bold. My workplace is very hierarchical, which sometimes makes even reasonable disagreement difficult, but I’m thinking of laying out how we do things and why we do them that way, and hopefully she’ll get a sense of why her suggestions aren’t really reasonable. Giving her other changes to make is a good idea too, I’ll definitely give it a shot.

        She’s very nice and unlike Terrible Boss seems at least a little interested in picking up the things she needs to know, so I’m hopeful that this will get better. But she has so much to learn!

        1. Not So NewReader*

          That sounds like a really good plan. Both of you should be feeling some relief if you reach out like this. Good luck!

  40. Amber Rose*

    Here’s a nasty problem.

    Yesterday one of the techs cut his hand on some racking. It bled a lot and looked awful but was pretty shallow and the tech said it was no big deal. Though he did ask for some good quality gloves (apparently the ones we have aren’t up to his standards.)

    I guess he forgot he has the safety coordinator on his Facebook though. She came to me (also in safety) super upset because he put up a picture of it and one of his friends said “where are your gloves, I’m reporting your company to OH&S!” And he replied “tell them my boss is the worst.”

    The question was, do we say something? If so, to who?

    I asked myself WWAAMS (what would Ask A Manager Say) and suggested reminding him that his FB isn’t isolated and he needs to speak up if he needs equipment because we can’t read minds. She wasn’t comfortable with that and talked to his supervisor instead and now it’s a shit storm.

    Problem is, we in safety are not managers, but we have some limited authority (writing people up, etc). It’s hard to tell what we should deal with or pass upward. And also, is stuff said on FB even something to act on?

    What would you guys do in my/her place?

    1. Sunshine Brite*

      I would get on his manager or supervisor really for not making sure their workers had the proper equipment. I’m not sure about the FB point, I liked your idea.

      My brother ended up in a situation where he got hurt – dislocated shoulder/tore some stuff after the people who ordered the equipment didn’t do the work or ask for manager input. So I think it technically met safety standards but didn’t make sense for the tasks they were doing. I almost wonder if that’s something here where the gloves meet standards, but don’t make sense for their work and the supervisor wasn’t sharing that.

      I hope he did the worker’s comp stuff in a timely fashion. Hand stuff is no joke. I know in my area there’s only a few specialists since I had something happen to one of my hands a couple years ago and all the nerves need extra attention.

        1. chump with a degree*

          Why would you not send him to a doctor and do the paperwork, though?

    2. KJR*

      This is timely. I was just doing some reading on social media, handbooks, and the NLRB (National Labor Relations Board). IANAL, but I would caution you strongly against disciplining this employee for his FB post. His post, while embarrassing for your company, would be considered a protected activity under the NLRA, since he is discussing his working conditions. (If you want to read more about it, Google the Walmart social media policy for some background info). Personally, I liked your idea of just going to him and saying that while you’re sorry he got hurt, he definitely needs to speak up about things like this because your company puts the safety of its employees above everything else.

      1. Amber Rose*

        Not in Canada apparently. The employee in question was fired. Google says in Canada, this is legal.

      2. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Just to clarify: It would only be protected if other coworkers joined the conversation on Facebook. The NLRA only protect conversations about wages and working conditions with other coworkers; it doesn’t protect them if other coworkers aren’t involved.

    3. LCL*

      Meet with the manager of the workgroup and the safety coordinator first. Purpose of the meeting is to discuss PPE requirement for the job. Then have a brief refresher with the crew at shift change reviewing PPE requirements, and asking for input.
      I would speak to the employee and tell him you don’t read facebook for work things, and that you want him to come to you or any of the safety reps if he has a safety issue.
      It sounds like the safety coordinator was concerned about the wrong thing. Your suggestion was a good one, but she didn’t take it.

      1. Amber Rose*

        I think her problem was she was really upset at the implication that she isn’t good at her job.

    4. Clever Name*

      I’m a little concerned about your comment that his gloves “aren’t up to his standards”. It’s clear he wasn’t wearing his gloves, for whatever reason, and cut his hand on the job. If I were in your place, I would go to him and ask about his gloves and why he doesn’t want to wear them and see if you can order gloves he can and will wear. PPE is useless if you don’t wear it or wear it incorrectly.

      1. Amber Rose*

        We bought him better gloves already. After he got hurt, he asked for some and we got him to pick a pair he liked.

        The standing rule has always been that if you need or want something for your work, you ask for it and we get it. But we can’t know that people need something unless they say something. None of the other guys have a problem using the usual gloves. It’s fine that this guy doesn’t like them, but we can’t read minds. People have to speak up. That’s the frustrating part, that he blames us for not just knowing this stuff.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          It seems to me that this guy did not follow proper procedure. I cannot imagine asking for gloves on FB and actually expecting an answer. But I think the FB thing is beside the point.
          He should have had gloves on or he would not have been cut? Okay maybe he did have gloves on but did not like them and he could have gotten what he liked? Either way that sounds like he violated procedure.

          He had a problem that he either caused by neglect or could have prevented by having the right gloves. He failed to follow proper procedure to get the correct gloves. Notice how FB does not even come into play here.

    5. Beezus*

      Wait, did he mention the quality of the gloves as a “by the way”, or as a reason for not wearing them at all? He needs to wear the PPE; if it is so bad that he doesn’t want to wear it, it’s bad enough that he needs to speak up before he gets hurt…not wearing it and getting cut and then bashing the PPE sounds like an excuse. As someone who has purchased PPE before…I don’t want to hear about the quality of the glove when you get cut, unless you got cut in spite of the glove (and then, please, for the love of pete, don’t start the conversation by leaving a gross bloody glove on my desk for me to find.)

      1. LCL*

        …I was left a cellphone in my office mailbox that I was told ahead of time had been dropped in a toilet and needed replacing. The cellphone wasn’t in any packing or container whatsoever…

      2. Amber Rose*

        Both. He wasn’t wearing them because he doesn’t like them, which we only learned when he started bitching after he was hurt. :/

        I am a lot of things, but not a mind reader.

        1. Beezus*

          I would not hesitate to write someone up for causing a safety incident by choosing to not wear their PPE. I’d discuss his judgement with his boss, between the decision to not wear the PPE and the decision to misrepresent the situation on social media.

  41. Sunshine*

    I started a new job in March after being at my prior job for three years. I have a lot of positive memories and personal development from my last job but it was kind of a toxic environment, overall had a lot of unfairness (everyone was exempt would work weekends with no comp time), and no work life balance.

    The new job I have supports work life and is a HUGE improvement for me. When my current coworkers complain about something sometimes I will reference my last job and just how things were there (a lot worse than what they are complaining about) I am appreciative of my new opportunity but don’t mean to constantly be referencing my last job but I think it is worthwhile for people to know how other workplaces operate, so maybe they can see things aren’t so bad here. I don’t think I am being a total pain in the arse but I don’t know if this is something I need to cut out. I don’t badmouth my last employer but I just state facts of how they handled certain things, which is a huge reason why I left.

    I guess my question is does it seem terribly annoying if a coworker is referencing their last job, maybe like once a week?

    1. Amber Rose*

      So now I’m thinking of Magic School Bus, and the little girl who was constantly saying, “At my old school we NEVER [insert activity here].”

      I think once a week isn’t too bad, but I also think that instead of referencing past things at old job, maybe actually state the alternate perspective you want to get across. So, instead of, “at oldjob the managers did worse thing” maybe try “I think your manager is doing this for X reason, to avoid doing [worse thing].”

      We all have THOSE stories from old jobs and it’s fun to share them. But don’t get so caught up in past terrible that you miss all the current good.

    2. Revanche*

      I think once a week is kind of a lot to be using that particular tactic. I know that I had the impulse to do it much more frequently when I thought people were complaining about really petty, overprivileged things (and that can be quite a lot of things hereabouts!) like the temperature of preheated water on standby for tea, and that kind of thing.

      In a lot of cases, though very well meant, I’ve seen people interpret it to mean you’re diminishing or dismissing their complaint which people take personally, that you’re always thinking about your old job or that you feel that going through that particular gauntlet makes you better than them, or just plain assume that you’re badmouthing the old job even though you didn’t. That sort of thing is difficult to shake. It might be better to respond with different phrasing that doesn’t directly reference your old job.

    3. fposte*

      I think even once a week is probably too much. This is the work equivalent of telling somebody you had to walk to school in a snowstorm uphill both ways–whether it’s true or not, it doesn’t instill gratitude. I think it’s fine to respond with a smiling “I like it here!” but I’d save any description of the downsides of your last job for somebody who keeps bitching to you about the same thing repeatedly.

    4. Clever Name*

      I used to work at a crappy workplace, so I get the impulse to kind of let your current coworkers know that what they’re complaining about really isn’t that much of a problem. If you feel like you’re talking about your old workplace too much, maybe don’t volunteer anything when your coworkers are complaining. If someone asks your opinion directly maybe you can shrug and say something like, “I guess compared to my old job Annoying Thing X just doesn’t seem like that big of a deal to me”. Or whatever. People will probably stop complaining around you, which isn’t a bad thing, in my opinion.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      One time, I suddenly realized I was doing a similar thing at a new job. What I learned was they did not give a darn about anything I said about the old job. They did not want to hear it could be worse- they were absolutely certain they had found new levels of hell on earth. (I am here to tell you they did not, but that is beside the point.)
      No, what they wanted was agreement and sympathy, that was all.
      So, yes, I would stop mentioning old job. Just know for your own reference that this could be worse, use that to help yourself to keep humming along.

  42. Vanilla*

    What’s the longest interview process you’ve experienced for an internal position?

    I’ve been interviewing for three months for an internal position. They are past the original deadline for wanting to have the position filled. They are very happy with the candidates they are interviewing so they are not thinking about reopening the candidate pool.

    1. Jillociraptor*

      I’ve been in two so far this year that neared the three month mark. It always takes so much longer to hire than you think it will — even internally.

    2. Clever Name*

      At my husbands huge corporation, applying and interviewing for internal job transfers would often take up to 6 months.

  43. Elli in Cali*

    How do AAM readers organize their time at the end of their work day? Lately I’ve noticed I’m frazzled and leaving a little late as I try to finish my work (chocolate teapot processing and supervision of the teapot process in a small nonprofit). Any suggestions for ow to avoid this?

    1. Dang*

      I work a LOT better in the morning, so I try to get a lot of stuff done then (or at least prioritize). Around 3, I’ll think about what I can realistically finish in the next 2.5 hours and start writing a to-do list for the NEXT day with things that can wait until the morning.

    2. CrazyCatLady*

      I organize my day so that toward the end of the day, I’m writing a list of things I want to get done the following day. I use calendar reminders and flag emails for follow-up where necessary to prevent the amount of things I have to remember. Doing this allows my workload to be heavier in the morning so that I’m really wrapping things up toward the end of the day.

    3. nona*

      I keep a to-do list and a calendar. I plan/track everything I do on the calendar, down to 10- to 15-minute blocks. Everything gets done on time. And I learn to plan better as I see how much time things really take vs. how much I expect.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      With a new job, I use trial and error for timing but I do time myself. My first attempt would be 15 minutes before leaving. I clean up, finish off whatever I can that is in process and button things up. If 15 minutes does not work I bump to a half hour. At this point, I try to be discreet because I don’t want to look like I am eager to leave. I finish off the in-process stuff that I can finish and I make a pile/list for tomorrow. Then when it gets to be 10-15 minutes before quitting time, I do things that make it a little more obvious that I am cleaning up and packing up to go home. Yes, my bosses can read that I am winding down, but it took them a while to recognize what that looks like with me. I have never had a complaint.

  44. The IT Manager*

    Happy memorial day weekend everyone! I have a 3 day weekend coming up. I just finished my last meeting of the day, and I really, really wish I had taken the rest of the day off because I know I will be spectacularly unmotivated this afternoon. It’s going to be a battle to start a tasks and stay on it (and not just keep refreshing this open thread among other web surfing).

    The problems are (1) I need to schedule normal annual leave in advance and not last minute like “I’ll be off for the rest of the day.” It’s supposed to be approved in advance. (2) I knew I would be totally unmotivated especially this afternoon, but I felt like I had too much to do to just take the afternoon off especially since I took a day off earlier in the week. But I should have just gone with my gut ants scheduled the afternoon off.

    Any one else fight this battle?

    1. OfficePrincess*

      Yup! I’ve had a funky schedule for some medical appointments over the last few months, so I feel like whenever I don’t have a “legit enough” reason I need to be here, even though I was scrambling to use PTO at the end of last year. I’m almost out of actual work to do for the day and just can’t wait for the clock to run out.

      1. The IT Manager*

        “legit enough” that’s it. And, like you, running out of PTO is not a concern.

  45. Elinore*

    Hi, everyone – I’ve been reading the site for a while but this is my first comment, as I could really use some advice!

    I’m in higher ed admin, and I took a position last August at a new institution that has turned out to be a really bad fit. The new institution and my coworkers are fine, but I also switched from one area of administration to another that I had far less experience with, and now that I’m over the initial hurdles it’s turned out that I really was happier with my old area. By chance I saw an opening in another department at my institution that’s in the old area and aligns very closely with what I did at my old job and miss most about it, so I applied on a whim. I got an initial interview that went well and have been asked to come in for a second round.

    My question is – at what point do I tell my current boss about this? Is there any expectation that you let your supervisor know sooner when it’s an internal hiring as opposed to an external position? Is it more likely that they’d want my current supervisor to serve as a reference since it’s internal? The opening is in a different school so it’s not really very connected to my current department.

    1. ACA*

      I’m in a similar situation (interviewing in different departments within my university), and I don’t plan to tell my boss unless I get an offer. Definitely tell the interviewer, if you can, that your boss doesn’t know that you’re looking so that they don’t call him up to chat about it.

    2. HigherEd Admin*

      Hello from a fellow higher ed admin! I think a lot of it depends on the culture of your office/institution. At my school, people are very territorial about their department’s staff. So, telling my bosses that I’m looking to move to another department could potentially hurt me. I probably wouldn’t tell anyone until I got to the offer acceptance stage, just like with any other role.

    3. Stephen King's Constant Reader*

      Also in higher ed. I agree with HigherEdAdmin, some departments are very territorial but at the same time there are managers that understand your need to branch out and grow more. With that being said, it doesn’t sound like you’ve been in your current role for very long. I would probably err on the side of caution and tell your current boss since in many places it’s par for the course to exchange that kind of information between departments. Even if it’s another school, your new supervisor (if you’re offered the position) may just call your current boss and then she’ll be totally blindsided. You can do what ACA suggested and let the interviewer know that your current boss doesn’t yet, but I think you may have to find some way to let current boss know when you get a little farther ahead.

  46. AFT123*

    Anyone have any thoughts or opinions on the recruiting industry? I’m looking at a client-side position for a large firm (Randstad) and I have no experience with the industry. Looking for some feedback on the industry and/or the company itself if you’re willing. – Would this kind of position be sustainable long-term? Is there a lot of burn-out? Is the field over-saturated or at risk for becoming over-saturated? Or anything else you’re willing to share. Thank you!

  47. TheExchequer*

    I had a lot of interviews last week but no offers or interviews this week. I’m just plain tired and can’t wait for the long weekend.

    For those of you also job searching, what keeps you motivated/inspired/encouraged while waiting?

    1. Adam*

      Keeping busy a.k.a. complete distraction. Right now I’m on an extreme de-cluttering kick (thank you, Marie Kondo) and it’s consuming every spare ounce of memory I have. Takes my mind of work woes and job search nuttiness. I find with both work and job searches sometimes you just have to compartmentalize it away when you aren’t working directly on it.

    2. Traveler*

      Reading this website helps, commiserating about it, and keeping my job searches organized with Excel spreadsheets. Keeps me focused, which helps when another job I’m interested in comes up. I also just try to focus on the idea that the company already has someone in mind that they want, and I won’t get it and I’m just applying for practice. I know that sounds weird, but that’s how I keep from getting upset when I don’t hear from someone.

    3. cali_to_carolina*

      I am working on staying BUSY! I am going to seminars/training in my industry, working on some projects around the house I have been neglecting, catching up with friends. Basically, trying NOT to spend 8+ hrs refreshing Indeed!

      The waiting just plain sucks!

    4. Kelly L.*

      When I was job searching, it honestly was Wanting Stuff. I had a safety net for the necessities, for which I was really lucky, but I couldn’t do anything fun, go anywhere, buy silly things.

      1. Adam*

        I know this feeling. Double the fact that this year I’m making a concentrated effort to get rid of all my debt finally. At last I’m sub $10K! So close, and yet so painfully far…

    5. Sara*

      My firm belief that eventually, I will get a job. (I’m not freaking out because it’s not “eventually” yet. However, one day it may be really close to “eventually,” and if I don’t have a job then, I will be motivated by chocolate and hugs.)

    6. Steve G*

      I’m depressed to from it. I spent a lot of time this week building a fabulous VBA template that totally stretched my programming skills this week and made me feel very smart and powerful, but the rejections and the “but we someone to do x (and I only do A-W)” type comments, which makes me moody.

    7. SherryD*

      I think Alison’s written here that job searching really isn’t a 40-hour per week job. I know that when all you want is a paid job, it’s hard to appreciate your free time. But if you can, it feels good to clean, declutter, read, exercise, catch up with friends, and all do things that you will have a hard time fitting into your life when you’re working again.

      Good luck! If you’re getting interviews, it sounds like you’re on the right track.

  48. LAI*

    Should I point out small mistakes made by someone who is more senior to me in my office? I have been in my office for about a year but have been working in my field for about 10 years. This other person has been in the office for only a few months longer than I have, but is much older than me and has been working in the field for his entire career. I have on several occasions noticed minor errors that he has made but always after it was too late to do anything about it (for example, he directed a client to complete a certain process, which was actually unnecessary, and I am seeing the client after they have already completed the process). I can deal with the client and there’s really nothing else to be done, but should I let my coworker know? I think I just feel hesitant because he has seniority over me. But different errors like this have happened several times – it hasn’t ever been the same error twice, at least not that I’ve noticed.

    1. the gold digger*

      If you are going to point out the errors,

      1. Do it in private
      2. Present is as, “Hey I noticed this and I always thought it was X, not Y”
      3. Do it when it actually makes a difference. Ie, don’t tell him after he has given the presentation to the client that he made a typo on the slide – it’s too late to fix it.

    2. SherryD*

      Hm. I’m not a fan of pointing out errors just for the sake of being right.

      But I think the gold digger is right. Do it one-on-one, politely, with the focus on being constructive.

      I think there is something respective about pointing out errors in the right way. I’d be embarrassed if coworkers were shaking their head at my mistakes, but never mentioning them to me. It would make me feel like they thought I could never learn.

  49. LBK*

    Any tips on avoiding sounding like a know-it-all? I am a really, really, frighteningly fast learner in a new department that has a few people who’ve been working here for 10-15 years. Sometimes in meetings I keep my mouth shut when I’m fairly confident I can address something or participate in a discussion because I haven’t even been here 3 full months yet and I don’t want to seem like I’m overstepping my boundaries. It’s also tough because my counterpart in my role only got hired a month or so before me, and she hasn’t picked up on a lot of the intricacies of our department the way I have.

    Should I just continue to silently absorb info for at least another 3 months or so? I want to be a good, productive employee that can contribute my problem solving skills to my department, but I’m also cautious of coming off as cocky.

    1. CrazyCatLady*

      I think it depends on how you’re phrasing things. When I’m new and suggesting a solution, I usually start with “You may have already thought of this, but do you think XYZ would work?” and then I don’t push back too much if they disagree or whatever. Eventually, I think you can push back more but you should absorb the way the people in the department handle things.

    2. fposte*

      I think it’s okay to contribute now. What I would prioritize is making measured, thoughtful, and non-rambling contributions–not so much the “OMG I couldn’t wait to say this!” kind of thing or the burst of enthusiasm with no firm ending. Also, overtly build on the contributions of others at meetings, so it’s clear that you’re listening and understanding other people’s input and history.

      You’re not there to be a know-it-all, but you’re definitely there to be at least a know-it-some.

      1. LBK*

        That makes sense. I came to the team with some unique knowledge about the inner workings of my old department (a particularly weird branch of business that doesn’t follow a lot of the normal rules), which this department deals with but no one here really understands it. I helped them clean up the system to process that business more effective and made some other procedural clarifications, so I’ve already established myself as someone who can grasp and explain complex topics. I think if I can keep that kind of (as you say) thoughtful, measured tone when talking about other advanced topics, it’ll just kind of seamlessly blend into the conversation without anyone thinking twice about it.

        1. Windchime*

          I think if you approach it this way, you’ll be fine and people will appreciate your input. Don’t be like our new guy, who advised a group of IT professionals with decades of healthcare-related experience (that he doesn’t have) that we need to be aware of HIPAA regulations when creating files. Yeah, thanks dude–good thing you’re here or we’d have never thought of that.

  50. kac*

    Hello All!

    I am in need of a bit of advice. I work from home, and I have for the past year. I travel about once a month, and the rest of the weeks I’m working from home. (I live in a pretty small one-bedroom apartment in the city, while my husband and I save up for a home.)

    Anyone out there who works from home, either full-time or occasionally, have tips on how to stay focused and productive? Lately I’ve been really struggling to get my work done! Any morning routines that work well, or tips to bring yourself back to the task at hand when you’ve fallen off-course?

    Thanks!

    1. Jessica*

      Have you tried the Pomodoro time management technique? Having that break helps me focus on my current tasks because I know a reward is coming up soon. I’ve started timing myself because I realized that I was futzing around on the internet longer than I thought I was.

    2. katamia*

      Depending on the kind of work you do, try turning off the Internet for awhile if you can. That’s a major source of distraction for me, but I can’t turn it off because my work requires a lot of Internet research. If you use Firefox, there’s LeechBlock, which I hate (when I tried it, it seemed to work the opposite way I wanted to–I wanted something that would not allow me on ANY sites except for ones I specifically whitelisted, while it made me list specific sites it wanted me to blacklist), but I also have a writer friend who swears by LeechBlock, so if the Internet is a big distraction for you, you could try it or a similar add-on.

      Also, I have “acceptable distractions.” I play music and will typically have IM open with one or two close friends who don’t talk much (a few messages an hour, not constant). This keeps me from going, “Hey, I think I’ll open up Sims” or “Gee, I wanna watch a movie.” I might be a little slower when I do this than if I didn’t have to, but they keep me from the real productivity-killing activities. I also burn out very, very quickly when I try to go for a long time without any breaks with the kind of work I do right now, and the occasional IM/paying more attention to the music break helps a lot. Of course, this might not work if you spend a lot of time on the phone.

      Another big one for me is that even if I’m distracted, I don’t close the file I’m working on. It has to be open. It has to be there on my toolbar, shaming and judging me for not working on it, lol.

    3. Revanche*

      Hah I use katamia’s open tab self-shame thing too. But it’s also a reminder. I’ll get 20 tabs deep into some project and completely forget about that one thing that I honestly didn’t want to do. So I open it in a fresh browser and leave it there as a reminder that once I close the first 20 tabs, it’s STILL THERE waiting for me.

      Otherwise, I set up my environment so that I won’t be easily distracted. I prefer to have some small amount of noise, and I know I’d always be checking on X, Y, or Z if I were in a secluded place, so I go with that and make my desk where I’ll be physically comfortable and able to easily see/hear what I would otherwise be straining to pay attention to if it weren’t right there in front of me.

      I would use LeechBlock but I notice that if I let myself have tiny 30-second breaks, especially when I’m working on something that I don’t like, I get back to work faster. That’s a highly individual thing though.

    4. Marcela*

      When I was working as a professional blogger from home, the only way to actually work without being distracted was to set my working space as it was an office outside home and also prepare myself as I was going out. All of that meant I had to get up in time to dress (no jeans, yoga pants or piyamas, but the same clothes I would use in other jobs), put make up, have a good breakfast. It also meant my computer and desk were only used for work, and I had to sit at the same hour every day (I’m not a morning person, so I started about 11:00), only leaving for lunch and bathroom breaks, and ending my working day at 19:00.

      Unluckily, all of this takes time to work. It’s not an immediate solution, but in my case it helped my brain to recognize certain signals and put itself in working mode. Having said that, when I’m really unable to concentrate, I always take 10 minutes to really distract myself. For example read AAM, or play something in my phone, or read news or walk around. After 10 minutes, that’s it, I have to go back to my task, no matter how boring it is. This has always worked very nicely, even when I’m not working from home.

    5. catsAreCool*

      If you can set up a space that’s just for work, that can help.

      I found that having specific hours for work (with a lunch break) helps me focus.

      When I have music on, especially instrumental jazz, that helps me focus.

      In general, I try not to use the internet for anything that’s not work-related during my working hours. I think my company can tell what I’m looking at, so that’s added incentive for me to stay off of most sites until after work (and on my personal laptop).

      Sometimes taking a quick break to walk around can help.

      I like keeping cold water by my desk, so I can sip it as I work.

  51. GreenMachine*

    So it looks like I’m going to have to go on an unexpected company trip in two weeks. They want us to share rooms, and possibly even beds in order to do this trip. I have health problems that I absolutely don’t want to share with my coworkers but if we share a room there is no way around them finding out. I have tried gently pushing back on the idea but they seem to think this is fun. I don’t want to seem out of touch with the culture but I don’t like sharing personal information like this. Any suggestions?

    1. Xarcady*

      Share beds? No, oh, please no.

      Just about the only thing I can think of, if you’ve tried asking for a single room and they’ve said absolutely not, is to offer to pay for your own room. Not at all fair, I know, but it would get you the privacy you need.

      1. GreenMachine*

        I am reasonably certain my manager will be offended by this suggestion as the rest of the office seems to think this is a fun idea for us to share beds and spend quality time together.

        I am so glad other people are reacting the same way. I feel like I am the strange one for thinking this kind of togetherness is weird for professionals.

        1. Jessica*

          I can’t imagine my coworkers going for this idea. Quality time together?? If I’m going to a business trip, I need time alone to recharge from the day of being ‘on.’

          1. Dynamic Beige*

            Nevermind time alone to recharge, time alone to cuss the “special” people out!

        2. Sparrow*

          Your managers and co-workers who think this is a fun idea are the ones who are strange. Sharing rooms is bad enough, but beds also ?!? No way. Can you phrase it in a generic way such that your medical needs require you to have a separate room? If your manager is so big on quality time, maybe come up with some specific examples of how you’ll still be involved even if you’re not sharing a room. Good luck!

        3. limenotapple*

          I had to share a bed once, and it was awful. I feel like that is way too much togetherness. I am not sure if this is helpful, but would it be possible to look at what’s normal for your industry? If you had enough other people saying “We would never require that of our employees” would that matter?

          it’s also possible there are other people thinking the same thing who just don’t feel comfortable speaking up. Is there any way to discreetly ask some of your trusted coworkers about this?

    2. kac*

      Share beds?!?!?! That is outrageously unacceptable.

      Offering to pay for the difference of your own room might be worthwhile; I’m sorry. Good luck!

      1. The IT Manager*

        Yes! I was in the military – I shared tents, bathrooms, and rooms (with mostly with one other person but sometimes with 8 or 50), but sharing beds with co-workers is 100% something I will not do.

    3. TheExchequer*

      Share a room? Maybe, with the right coworker. Share a bed? Oh, heeeeeeeeeeellllllllll to the no.

        1. Windchime*

          Heh, me too. There is a certain co-worker I wouldn’t mind sharing with, but since that’s 100% unlikely to happen, I have to say , “Oh hell no!” to the bed-sharing idea. I’ve been on one business trip where there were three of us women in one room with two beds, and I immediately claimed one for my own. No. Way.

    4. Jessica*

      Oh my god, no. I would never share a bed with a coworker. Absolutely never. I would actually have a problem sharing rooms too.

      You might have to disclose your health issues to your manager. I know, that sucks, and you shouldn’t have to. Maybe your boss doesn’t realize how out of the norm it is to ask employees to share beds/rooms? I have no idea how, but maybe tell them that it’s not really the norm and that it’s weird.

      1. Xarcady*

        Well, in some industries, sharing rooms is the norm. OP, what is the norm in your industry?

        But sharing beds? Seriously? If the only option given me was sharing a bed, I’d refuse to go.

      2. Jennifer*

        Yeah, I think that you might have to disclose. Or else say you are the world’s worst snorer.

      3. Dynamic Beige*

        I had to share a room once in Monte Carlo because the whole damn place was sold out (not to mention très cher) and then a few years ago with the project manager, but we had a suite with our own bedrooms/bathrooms and shared common areas including a full kitchen. Once, we were supposed to share on another job, but she opted out and paid for her own room. She got really bad migraines, I knew that, but it would not have been fun to share with her, she likes to get up at 3am to work *shudders*

        And that is a summary of all the times I’ve shared a room for a work trip in over 15 years of business travel — NEVER a bed. Although I do have a somewhat skeevy anecdote of bed sharing and not knowing it — ask to hear it at your peril!

    5. Sunshine Brite*

      Ugh, I hate sharing beds with people. I usually slept on the floor instead during sports and family trips over the years rather than sharing. I would most definitely not want to bunk with my coworkers.

    6. Newsie*

      Nope. NOOOOOOOPE. I’m decently close with my co-workers and would share a room with my co-workers. But a bed? On a work trip? NOOOOOOOOOO. Big no.

      Can you get a doctor’s note that doesn’t specify what you have, but says you cannot share a bed? It SUCKS that it comes to that, and if your doctor charges for that, then obviously not. But in case your manager doesn’t hear you, it might be a last resort?

  52. Anonymusketeer*

    Is it possible that some of us will never be superstars at work? I’ve had three or four jobs in my field and have never felt like a top performer. I’ve only been at my current job a couple of months but I don’t think I’m making a good impression. I don’t feel like I have enough good ideas, and it seems like the managers kind of have to hold my hand to get anything done. I don’t anticipate needs, or I anticipate things that turn out not to be needs at all. Am I just bad at working?

    1. Partly Cloudy*

      If everyone was a superstar, the word would have no meaning. There are always going to be top performers, middle-of-the-roaders, and people who struggle. I think it’s fine to be a Steady Eddie and there’s no shame in being average (it’s not the same as getting a C in school). Also, give yourself a break — two months isn’t enough time to learn all the ropes of a new job and workplace.

      1. Natalie*

        “(it’s not the same as getting a C in school)”

        We have performance reviews coming up and my boss just reminded us in a staff meeting “‘Meets Expectations’ is a good score. We all have high expectations, so meeting those is great.”

        1. Tookie Clothespin*

          That’s a really, REALLY good point. I had my first performance review ever last December (never had one at my old job) and I was pretty crushed to receive a bunch of meets expectations until I talked to my dad who pointed out that that’s good for someone in their first year at a job and that if they didn’t like my performance they wouldn’t have given me a (small) raise.

        2. Anonymusketeer*

          I’ve only had one formal performance evaluation and I got a 2.5 (out of 5, maybe? Or was it 4?) which was something along the lines of “meets most expectations” or something. The HR lady (who was based at a location 2 hours away) told me that was a good score to get after my first year with that role. The manager who gave me that score, however, made it clear that it wasn’t a score I should be proud of. It felt very much like getting a C in school.

          The eval mentioned, among other things, that I could not work independently – as evidenced by the fact that I called my immediate supervisor (not the manager who did the eval) for clarification when I arrived at my first offsite assignment, about two months into the job. Rumor has it she kept a file named Shit List, where she noted every mistake anyone made so she could bring it up during evals.

    2. CrazyCatLady*

      Yes – not everyone can be a superstar; otherwise it would become “average.” That being said, I think your obvious self-awareness could go a long way toward improving things for you. Can you look back on examples of times where you didn’t anticipate needs and retroactively troubleshoot where you went wrong? Or analyze thought process you could have had in order TO anticipate needs? I think it might take practice, but surely recognizing it’s a problem will help move you forward.

    3. Jake*

      If bet there are 2 things going on here.

      1. You have a bit of imposter syndrome, meaning you are better than you think.

      2. I’d say roughly 15%of people I’ve worked with are rock stars. Roughly 20% are bad enough that I’d fire them If I had the authority.

      The point being, this means most people aren’t Rock stars, but that’s OK. You don’t need to be a rock star to be valuable. The person that dependably comes to work every day, completes the assigned duties with help from the manager and is reasonably easy to get along with is hugely valuable. This person certainly isn’t a rock star, but I don’t know any managers that wouldn’t snatch up that person right away.

      I think the key is realizing it is still great to be a solid contributor on a great team.

    4. Delyssia*

      I have mixed feelings here… On the one hand, it’s certainly true that not everyone can be a top performer. On the other hand, I had two jobs (not counting part time work during school or temping as a stopgap) before my current one. At both of those, I would say I was good, but not great. (There were some bumps on the road in the early days of the first one, but I got past those to where my boss absolutely valued me, but I still don’t think he would have described me as great. Good, reliable, solid performer, sure. But not great.) At my current job, I’m a top performer. This job is a good fit for my strengths and weaknesses in a way that the previous ones weren’t.

      That said, I didn’t know until I was in this job and had been for a while that this was the right fit where I’d really excel. When I first started here, my boss was very hands-on in training me. Ultimately, I think this was good, as I learned a lot from her, but it can definitely feel like hand holding.

      Have you talked to your manager(s) about how it’s going and how you’re doing so far? Having clear expectations set for you (instead of trying to guess what they want from you) is invaluable.

    5. The IT Manager*

      Delyssia makes a great point. Not everyone can be above average or it wouldn’t be average. Not everyone can be a superstar because then that would be the standard and then everyone would just be meeting standards. But you can find a job that aligns with your strengths and doesn’t call on you to use your weakest areas very often.

      For what’s happening to you now, a couple of months is a very short time to get to know the ropes and be anticipating things. But if this is a known weakness for you, you can try to get better at it (do you just need to set aside some time to think and brain storm everyday? do you need to remind yourself to question needs when they are first presented) or you can look for jobs that don’t require you to make those kinds of decisions – process oriented jobs with checklists or processes that don’t have a lot of deviation or only deviate at certain point described in the process.

      Something to think about: if you have never felt like a top performer in your field, is that the right field for you. Or imposter syndrome or Dunning–Kruger effect (a cognitive bias wherein unskilled individuals suffer from illusory superiority, mistakenly assessing their ability to be much higher than is accurate. This bias is attributed to a metacognitive inability of the unskilled to recognize their ineptitude. Conversely, highly skilled individuals tend to underestimate their relative competence, erroneously assuming that tasks which are easy for them are also easy for others.)

    6. Jennifer*

      Eh…I have been called a rock star at work, but in my job that means nothing since I can’t get promoted, get another job, or get a raise. I think “rock stars” are for management or more powerful jobs, really.

    7. Anonymusketeer*

      There is definitely some imposter syndrome at play here, but how much? I start every job feeling under qualified and genuinely surprised that the hiring manager chose me over someone else. It makes me feel like I’m better at crafting resumes than I am at actually working.

      A lot of these suggestions are helpful, so thanks. I’ll check back later and see if there’s any new advice.

      1. Partly Cloudy*

        Maybe you can turn crafting resumes (for others, contractually) into your career. ?

    8. 960 bpm*

      I’ve been a “rock star” in the past. There are many things I could say about it, but I’ll limit myself to this: there’s a lot of luck, timing, and circumstance involved. Talent and hard work are part of it, but – well, think about real rock stars in the music biz: there are an ungodly number of bands that are just as – if not more – talented than Metallica (for instance). But Metallica happened to be the right band at the right time, with the right connections, etc. I’m sure Lars and the boys put a lot of work into trying to make it happen – but they had no guarantees, and if you believe in the notion of infinite parallel universes, there are probably tens of thousands of other bands within sqrt(-2) meters of here that fill the ‘niche’ that is Metallica.

      So there’s an element of luck in addition to ability, plus you often need to work towards it as a goal. Carl Sagan, for instance, did not become a Famous Scientist simply because he was good at science – among other things, having a shrewd wife who is also a kick-ass writer helped a lot.

      All that said: if you’re only a couple of months into your job, then you’ve got some time to work with.

    9. Not So NewReader*

      A bunch of questions:

      Do you want to change this?

      If yes, what parts are you willing to tweak first?

      If no, it could be that you are a relationship person, who values relationships above everything else. Or you could be a work-to-live person as opposed to a live-to-work person. If you are content then there is no problem.

      I noticed a lot of “feeling statements” here- you have never felt like a top performer, you don’t feel like you have enough good ideas and so on. If you don’t do anything else, change yourself over from “feelings” to “facts”. Collect up facts. What do your reviews look like? What kinds of compliments do you get? Are you meeting deadlines? Do you hand in work that is your best effort? Deal in facts, because if you are going to go along with what you feel it’s going to be a much harder road. This is because we are toughest on ourselves. Unless you are doing brain surgery or rocket science there often is a margin of error for various jobs. You make a little mistake, you fix it that is all. You make a medium mistake, you own it and you fix it. It’s not the end of the world in healthy work environments.

      I am not sure why the concern about anticipating needs, but here goes: This is nothing anyone is born with, it’s something we grow/cultivate in our thinking. It is a something one has to deliberately develop. One thing I did when I first started working was I watched everyone else. Well, I was so busy watching what everyone else did, I had no free brain space to think a process through and develop my own ideas of what is coming up next or what will be needed next. (Part of that is because if someone starts talking my train of thought totally derails.)

      What I did was start with the simpler, repetitive tasks. To do X, we need A, B and C. (We are having coffee, we need cups, spoons, creamer and sugar. )Decide to just nail down this primary layer of basic tasks. (It helped me to picture the process in my head. What do I need to do this? Whoops, forgot to check to see if there is a pot of coffee made or if I need to make more. I made adjustments as I went along.)

      You have been at the job a few months. Personally, I think you are hard on yourself. If you have a boss training you, I would call that “lucky” not “hand-holding”. But you can ask the boss how she thinks you are progressing, if you like. Bonus points for having specific questions such as, “I think I should have caught on to X by now, and I don’t feel that am moving along with that. Do you have any tips?”

      Last thing: I can say that I feel that for every ten suggestions I make at work nine of them get shot down. I don’t even blush anymore because it just seems to be par for the course. Making suggestions, offering help shows you are thinking and you are trying. Never stop doing these things, even if you feel you turn up wrong a lot. You keep doing it you WILL get better at it.

  53. Anon Today*

    I volunteered to help facilitate a session for a professional group that I’m a part of, and I’m regretting it and not sure what to do.

    I have a background in leadership development and training, so when another member of the group had an idea for a session asked for help in designing I offered to help. It’s been super tough to work with him – he’s all over the place, does things at the last minute, and doesn’t have a great handle on the issue he wants to address (or how to do it well in the time we have, but that’s where I should be able to add value).

    We’re now a week away from the session and he just sent me his agenda. I genuinely can’t really make sense of it, and I’m frustrated. I don’t have the time to spend in the next week to make this something I could be proud of, and I don’t know that I could bring him along with my recommendations anyway (he’s not dug in, he’s just flighty – it would be hard to get him focused enough to make decisions about changing direction and move ahead with them). I’m also worried that the session will be a bust, and I don’t want my reputation diminished by that (it’s not a high profile thing, so this is probably an unnecessary concern, but still).

    Should I step back? Let him know that I don’t think I can be helpful at this point? That doesn’t feel good, but I don’t really know what else to do. Just let it go ahead in its less-than-ideal form?

    1. Traveler*

      I know this will be difficult, but can you confront him on the issue in a polite way? i.e. “Tyrion, if I’m going to be co-presenting this material with you at (professional group) then I need to make sure I feel the session will be successful. I have a few issues here, here, and here. This is how I think it could be improved. Here is how that could happen. If we can’t come to that point with the remaining time, I’m afraid I won’t be able to help with it.” Tone and demeanor could go a long way with softening this, especially if you know him well enough to know what language to use with his personality.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Well, he wrote an agenda so you have that to go with, if you chose.

      I guess I would take one last shot by saying “What is the number one thing you want to accomplish here? I was looking at the agenda and I really can’t tell what people are supposed to walk away with. What do you want them to know/think about?”

      It could be that all the agenda needs is to be arranged in topics with subtopics.

      If I really wanted to do the project at some point I would say, “Bob, I want to help you but you have to quit flitting around, you need to land on some concrete stuff in order for us to proceed.” It could be that he wants to accomplish a lot, which is admirable and you can say that. Ask him if it is realistic given the time frame.

      Because he has an agenda written, I would be tempted to try. But I am sitting in my comfy house telling you this and you are actually living it. Think about the pros and cons of hanging in with this and decide which pro or con resonates the most with you. Perhaps you could end up saying, “This is a totally different experience and I want it to learn from it.” Or maybe you could settle on, “This is MY good name and I don’t want my name associated with this.”

  54. OfficePrincess*

    Ugh. I know we’ve talked about this before, but WHY do people think it’s ok to ask if you’re pregnant. I have a couple chronic illnesses so sometimes I’m sick for what seems like no reason. But is it really necessary to follow up an admission that I’m not feeling well by asking if I’m pregnant? The people I work with are so far down the list of people I would tell right away. And while (thankfully) I haven’t had any issues with infertility or miscarriage, I also haven’t been doing anything that would lead to a baby in quite a while, which is a bit of a sore spot.

    People suck. Is it the weekend yet?

    1. kac*

      Oh, god, why is right!! I had someone ask me in an airport security line the other day. Nope, just have a belly thankyouverymuch.

    2. HeyNonnyNonny*

      A coworker the other said to me, ‘Your face looks fuller…are you pregnant?’ I stammered a little, but what I really should have said, as cheerfully as possible, was ‘Nope, just getting fat!’ to see how she’d respond.

      1. Bekx*

        I was at a bridal shower and this random woman asked the bride’s FSIL if she was pregnant. She replied “Nope! Just fat” and the woman was like “Oh- No! No! I just mean you’re…um…glowing! You look so healthy!”

        It was really awkward and uncomfortable. Unfortunately the perpetrator didn’t seem too messed up about it. The victim was really upset, as she has fertility problems.

    3. Traveler*

      I’m the type of person that hates when even people I know ask this question. No, thanks, I just feel like crap! Thanks for pointing it out!!

    4. TheLazyB*

      I think it’s really ok to respond with “why on earth do you think that’s an appropriate question?!” Because I cannot imagine ever asking anyone that. Friends, coworkers, anyone. Just don’t.

      (Someone said to me today ‘time for another?’ while my son and I were at the park and I just wanted to say ‘that is a really painful thing for me to hear’ but I didn’t… I know she meant well :-/ )

      1. TheLazyB*

        In fact when my friend disclosed her pregnancy I misunderstood her at first and even when I realised I waited for her to clarify, because just no. The contents of anyone’s uterus are none of my damn business.

      2. afiendishthingy*

        At a happy hour with coworkers recently, one of my coworkers said to another coworker and his wife “I think you guys should have another baby!” The wife cheerfully responded “I don’t!” but I know from information her husband volunteered to me that there is some family medical history that could make a pregnancy dangerous for her. The coworker who wants to dictate their reproductive choices, meanwhile, has a history of boundary-crossing and being super inappropriate, so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised.

      3. Chartreuse*

        Agree with the “why on earth do you think that’s an appropriate question?!” Nobody should ever ask that question. Very rude to ask. Believe me, if the person is in fact pregnant you will eventually be told. Just be patient.

      4. Marcela*

        I think I’ll practice responding “why on earth…”, because the frustration and anger I got from those questions follow me for several days afterwards, even if I don’t want to conceive. At my age, being married 8 years, I can’t be sick or show I have a round tummy, because everyone feels with the right to ask stupidities. Honestly, can’t they think that if I AM actually pregnant, they WILL know it?

    5. Lalaith*

      Oh Lord, yes, do I hate this! I’m “just fat” so I’ve gotten it more than I’d like. Once I was in an elevator making small talk with my (male) boss, and this woman just randomly interjects something like “Do you find that the wind affects you more, being pregnant?” I assumed she was talking to the other woman in the elevator, it was so out of left field. And when I realized she was talking to me, and stammered out “I… I’m not…” she apparently thought I meant “I’m not affected” not “I’m not pregnant” and started prattling on about I don’t even know what. I wish I hadn’t been so stunned, and could have said something. The elevator opened at my floor, Boss spotted someone he wanted to talk to, and I slunk off to my desk. Never wearing THAT sweatshirt again :-P

  55. cuppa*

    I’m debating leaving my field for another career. My current career is one that I got a Master’s degree for, and I still have student loan debt, but I fared better than others in my saturated field and actually did get a related job for a number of years. I’m not very happy in my current position, and a lot of that has to do with increasing dysfunction in my organization. However, it’s getting to the point where it’s souring me on my whole field. I’m discouraged because I feel like I’m not going to be able to find another position in my field and get a good salary without doing the exact same thing I’m doing now in another organization (and I don’t want to do that).
    I found a position that I really could do, I have previous experience in, and it’s tempting. Half of me feels like I’m giving up my dreams and the other half of me just wants to give up on my dreams and just get the hell out.

    1. Traveler*

      Wow. I feel like I could have written this. I’m not sure I have much advice, mostly just commiseration. At this point, I think if you can make money doing something else for awhile it might give you perspective on your current career. Help you decide whether or not you’d like to stay in it. It’s what I’m thinking of doing.

    2. cuppa*

      Thanks for your responses! I hope things work out for both of you, and it’s nice to hear I’m not alone.

    3. Lalaith*

      This sounds like me a few years ago. I double majored in X and Y in undergrad, and went on to get a Master’s in Y, and then a job in a Y-related field. It wasn’t what I wanted to do with Y, though, and I couldn’t figure out how to get the experience I’d need to do what I wanted. So I got frustrated and burnt out, and eventually decided to try to get back into X. In my case, jobs in X paid better and were a lot less emotionally fatiguing – I just had struggled a lot with it in undergrad and didn’t think I’d be any good at it. But I’ve found an area of that field that really works for me, and I’ve been really happy about it. YMMV, of course, but I hope it helps!

    4. Not So NewReader*

      What is your primary thinking here with your new opportunity- are you running towards something or running away from something?

      It’s fine to give up on a dream if you think you have found something better. Dreams are just our way of guessing what we want, anyway. Dreams are not a commitment written in stone. What is the old saying– “Be careful what you wish for”. Lots of people have realized their dream and found out they did not want it.

      Out of respect for yourself, make sure you are going toward something better in some manner.

  56. puddin*

    I am right at this very moment on the verge of frustration water (NOT tears). I have a new boss while I have retained the same role at the company I am patiently but ever more desperately trying to leave. I don’t like this one bit. I have little respect for this person professionally and feel they are ill equipped to manage. I am getting instructions that are not congruent with my depts purpose or goals. This is going to turn my role into something else entirely.

    Thankfully, I had a great interview last week. Un-thankfully the incumbent company takes months and months to make a hiring decision – So Sept would be a realistic date to hear any news at all. Oh, and there may be one more round of interviews. uhg.

    Feeling so trapped and overwhelmed right now. The company has already dampened my spirits about liking what I do. This new guy is not helping AT ALL. I have been depressed about it for a couple of months now.

    There is a role open where I am qualified. Do I move to this role knowing that I more than likely would continue my outside job search? It would be a promotion/raise. But would also take me further away from the types of roles I am seeking outside of the company.

    1. GigglyPuff*

      Ugh, that sucks

      but can I say, I love “frustration water”, it’s perfect. I actually had a mini melt down earlier this week at work over personal things. The type of frustration water, where you can’t even catch your breath, and it really was just frustration at the entire situation I am in! Quickly got out of there, hopefully before anyone saw me through my giant glass office wall.

      1. MaryMary*

        Ha! Frustration water. I’m going to start using that term. “I am not crying, my frustration is leaking out.”

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Since this sounds pretty dire, I say go for the promotion. You have absolutely nothing to lose and everything to gain.
      You are in a bad spot, give yourself as many options as you can. It’s when we don’t have options that we sink to new lows.

      Keep job hunting, too.

  57. Ella*

    I am honestly not sure if I am looking for advice or just need to vent.

    I am part of a team of about eight people. All of us have the exact same basic job description and task work, centered around the core task of packaging chocolate teapots. My boss has conveyed to me that she would like us to spend 50% of our time packaging teapots, 25% of our time take teapots off the assembly line, and the other 25% on other projects (often assigned by others, but there’s also leeway if someone comes up with an idea for their own project they want to do).

    In the past, my boss has spoken to me about making sure I have my priorities in order, and that I really am spending 50% of my time packaging teapots. I find that totally fair and have restructured my work patterns to make sure I’m pulling my weight and that the bulk of my time is spent packaging teapots. And, to be honest, I’ve basically stopped spending any time on projects, because it feels like whenever I do, I get reminded that packaging teapots is my #1 priority.

    It’s also probably important to note that most of our shifts are fairly unsupervised. We’re responsible for prioritizing our own duties from moment to moment. This also means that our boss has to rely a lot on inference and second hand information when it comes to who does what on any given day. I’m not saying my boss is wrong and that I’m a rock star, but I do think there is a disparity between what she thinks I do (or don’t do) all day and what I actually do. I’m also kind of getting to the point where I don’t even know any more.

    That is not the problem. I can live with all that. The difficulty is that I have a coworker who spends at least 50% of his time on projects, and almost no time on the core duty that I get so much flak for not doing (even though I do it). He’s consistently late, and today was assigned to go to another location for training (a training that I would like to do, and have asked to do, and have been told that I can’t do until I can prove that my priorities are in order), and the other location called because he was late there too (or possibly didn’t show up; they called us wondering if he’d come to his regular location by accident). But I know he talks about his ideas for projects with the bosses before he starts them, so I know they know at least that he’s doing them (if not, maybe, how much time they take). Maybe they talk privately with him about needing to spend more time on packaging teapots, but I don’t know. They at least aren’t holding additional training out of his reach until he gets his teapot packaging up to par.

    Part of me wants to talk to my boss about this perceived double standard, and part of me understands that how my coworker spends his day isn’t my business. And I don’t particularly want to open up another opportunity about talking about whether I suck. I guess I just learn to live with it, and continue job searching, but it’s frustrating.

    1. IndieGir*

      Have you tried documenting how much of your time you are spending on packaging teapots and showing this to your boss? That may be a good first step, do a time-log and show what you are actually doing.

      I wouldn’t try to address this as favoritism, in my experience those who practice favoritism are also masters of rationalization and will react badly to being called on it.

      Also, I hate to say it, but you may have to resign yourself to moving on if sometime like a call log doesn’t change Boss’s opinion of you. It sucks and is unfair, but sometimes that happens.

      1. Ella*

        I actually did that after the first conversation we had about my habits. I would have to go back and find the graphs (I made graphs!), but I was a little bit shy of spending 50% of my time on packaging teapots. This is how I got the 50% number from my boss. She had initially approached the conversationg as, “I need to make sure your priorities are X.” I came back with, “I can’t document my priorities, I can only document my actions, so here is this spreadsheet of everything I’ve done for the past two months.” (I phrased it much more nicely and professionally, and it led to what felt at the time like a good conversation about what she wanted from me and how I could convert those things into action-based items that would actually hold me accountable to improving.)

        The last conversation we had was the most frustrating for me, because she’s back to “Your work habits are perceived as….” and I can’t fight perceptions. It feels like I’m being told that looking busy is more important than actually doing my job. I’m reasonably certain these days that I’m spending more than 50% of my time packaging teapots, but even if I were to re-document my time, I also don’t know how to have the conversation addressing the potential fact that her perception of how I spend my time and how I actually spend my time are disparate.

        But yeah. I need to stop taking mental notes on my coworker. It’s not helping anyone.

        1. Jennifer*

          That is true: she’s convinced that you aren’t doing your teapots, and what the hell can you do if she doesn’t look at evidence?

          I’d be documenting all the teapots constantly as proof/backup/saving your ass, but….there may be nothing you can do if she’s convinced you never do teapots. Just pull out your tally marks of every teapot you processed (or however you do it) every time she brings this up again and again, and see if that does ANYTHING.

    2. Jennifer*

      So….you spend 100% on teapot packaging and he’s spending 100% on projects, apparently. And your boss is…fine with that?

      I don’t know what to say other than “constantly document that you are 100% on teapots” to make up for him.

    3. Judy*

      Could it be that she wants the department to spend those percentages?

      At a former workplace, a manager in a meeting noted that 10% of our work should be on innovative projects. So, we all started working on innovation ideas (there was a program company wide) more than we had been. The manager after looking at the time records then had to clarify he didn’t want all of us to spend 10% each. He wanted 10% of the project load to be innovative projects, and he’d assign who was working on them. So if there were 15 of us in the group, actually 2 people would be working half time and the rest of us were only to work about an hour on the innovation program, not everyone worked 4 hours per week on the innovation program.

    4. 960 bpm*

      It pains me to say this, but – to use male-female relationships as an analogy -it sounds like you have been relegated into the “friend zone”, while your co-worker somehow smooth-talked their way into FWB or better.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      Having seen jobs go like this and there is probably not a lot you are going to be able to do.
      The only other thing you can do is just give daily reports of how many teapots you packaged on the previous day and how long it took you to do that.

      If you actually have repetitive work like that and it is measurable ask her how many you should be doing per day on average.

      I suspect you have a boss that has no clue how to manage people. Probably one of her main strategies is to keep moving the target and you have to guess which way the wind is blowing today.

  58. Gaurang Pandya*

    There is no ‘master key’ or solution to different work situations pertaining to individuals. The reason? We are Humans, working with Humans. We are not programmed Robots or machines. There should be set policies, but to accept extra duties or not is like buying shoes. You can ask and get suggestions about which look good, only you know if they fit or not! I would analyze the benefit to cost and cost to risk ratio.

  59. At First Job*

    Entry-level millennial here at my first job. I quite like the job and the office and the managers and senior staff, but not my coworkers. But I feel very ignored at my job, overlooked by my managers and my coworkers. My coworkers are cliquey and exclude me from their socializing at work and outside, which bothers me but I’m more concerned about my managers. While my managers and senior staff are very nice to me, everyone fawns over and trains this one particular coworker who gets to be involved in different projects. I’ve made my goals and desires clear to my manager, and they’ve assured me that once they get this major transition off the ground, I can be more involved. I wanted to take an outside course related to this transition, but the course was not approved since the project leaders aren’t sure what will be needed for the transition at this point. Anyway, I’m just starting to wonder if investing in me will ever come or if I’ll be stuck in my role without growth. To be fair, I’ve only been in my position for just over a year, but I’ve consistently received praise and positive feedback. Should I bother looking for another job or sticking around for a while longer?

    1. CoffeeLover*

      You are your own champion of growth (cheesy I know). Sometimes you get lucky and have a manager that really supports your growth and involves you in outside projects, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be involved even if your manager isn’t willing to put that extra effort into you. It’s just up to you to make contacts outside of your department and to let people (not just your manager) know where your interests lie. Networking in your own organization is important for this very reason. An easy way to do this is to contact people in your organization to see if they are willing to meet for a coffee and an informational interview. Only do this if you genuinely want to learn about what the person does and it relates to your own career aspirations. Sometimes it could be about something they do well (like presenting) that you’d like to improve on rather than their actual job function. Anyways, you meet one of these people and mention you’re interested in communication work (i.e.), then when they need someone on a project to be in charge of the communication they’ll think of you.

      I think you should give this a try before moving on, especially since you’ve only been there for a little over a year.

    2. katamia*

      Is there a specific timeline for the major transition? In the past, when they’ve given dates (“X will happen by this date”), has that turned out to be relatively accurate, or do things often get pushed to the back burner or forgotten about? (Basically, although it’s probably hard to tell since you’re relatively new to the workforce in general, do they do what they say they’re going to do/do you believe them when they say that more will come once the transition is off the ground?)

      Also, I’m not saying you’re doing anything wrong, but do you work closely with this coworker everyone loves? Are there specific things they do or skills you have that you could work on training for while you’re waiting? If they’re, say, a great public speaker, maybe you could check out Toastmasters or a similar organization or group and work on those skills if your company seems to value them.

      1. At First Job*

        They want to wrap up the transition by fall of this year, but it’s been dragged out for so long that it may take longer. They are working hard on it, even involving this coworker to help on it, but there’s no guarantee that it will be finished on schedule.

        As for this coworker who everyone loves, she does not talk to me at all unless it’s work related, and I don’t even work directly with her. Like I said, they’re really cliquey and aren’t welcoming, and I’ve given up trying to fit in. As for her special skills, to be honest, it’s just because she has a degree and the other coworkers don’t so they’re investing in her, giving her more duties. I also have a degree and I can also take on more responsibility, but they’re investing in her only.

        I should also add that my coworkers socialize outside of work with some senior staff (although not our direct manager), so I worry that I’m further overlooked for more opportunities.

        1. katamia*

          Oof. I was hoping your answer to the coworker’s special skills would be something like “She speaks a language that no one else does that is important to some of our clients” or something genuinely special. I’d recommend upping your skills now as cheaply as you can (library books, free online courses, etc. for some things that would come in handy either for your current industry or for jobs you want in the future), but it doesn’t sound like a good situation. If the transition is completed on time and you do start getting more opportunities afterwards, hey, that’s a pleasant surprise. But I definitely wouldn’t bank on it. The 2-year mark has been quoted a lot around here, and as someone with a jobhopper’s resume (have finally started to overcome that, but I’m sure it’s made things harder for me), having a little bit of longevity on your resume is a very good thing. But in the long run, once you hit the 2-year mark, you’re probably better off looking elsewhere.

          1. Dynamic Beige*

            I’d recommend upping your skills now as cheaply as you can (library books, free online courses, etc. for some things that would come in handy either for your current industry or for jobs you want in the future)

            Agree with this. It’s so much easier now to get the training you want on your own time/dime than it was when I was an FTE. There are points on Udemy where they have sales on their courses where they’re $10, and that’s just one online training website.

            I don’t know what you do specifically, but it was my experience that I was always kind of the “last one hired” and there wasn’t any room for promotion or upward growth because there already were people in those positions who weren’t interested in moving and if they did, other “better” people would be slotted in ahead of me. At LastJob especially, they only cared that I cranked it out like a machine, there wasn’t any path to learn new things or move up that was obvious and spelled out… so I moved out and it’s sad but as a freelancer, I have both gotten more interesting projects and given myself more opportunities to learn and grow than I got being an employee. It’s still something I struggle with, and I’m not 100% it’s full Imposter Syndrome as I have had people tell me that I was bad at what I do to my face, and treat me that way. Now working on my own, it’s hard to judge against others if/how I’ve improved compared to others, I only have repeat clients and looking at some of my old work to judge by! So, take a tip from me and if you’re not getting what you want or need from work, give it to yourself outside of work whatever way you can.

    3. Jesus Built My Hotrod*

      It sounds like there are a lot of things going on at your workplace, and it’s difficult to get a good picture of the situation. But I think I’m seeing a couple of things:

      I’ve noticed this arise with millennials with some frequency: they get a job, they seem to do well at it – but after 3-9 months, they’re approaching their boss with ideas and plans for a new job that they like better. The boss is typically not excited – probably because they were hired to do a specific job, and for the new-hire to start to push to restructure their job is looked upon as “presumptuous”.

      The other thing I think I’m seeing is that, to be blunt, everyone seems to like your co-worker more than they like you. This could be due to any number of reasons, but I’m cynical, so I would initially ask: is your co-worker attractive, friendly, flirty, fun to be around? While you’re just another guy in a suit? (My first job, I was a carhop. A guy carhop. I remember the first time I made $10 in tips during a single shift, it was a big deal. But the girl carhops routinely made $10 *an hour* in tips. Sometimes there is simply no way to compete).

      The one piece of advice I have for you is: find a mentor at your job, and pay attention to what they tell you. Because, frankly, overall you sound very lost. You need someone to help you find order in the chaos.

  60. Dr. Doll*

    A few weeks ago I posted about a job for which I was an extremely highly qualified candidate if not the best one in a large radius but I wasn’t sure if I would get called due to the weird hiring process — well, I *did* get called for an interview. (Good, their process does work!) I was one of four finalists.

    The interview went well but I think it’s the wrong move for me at this time. Not only do I feel like I’m not “done” at my current place, there’s a deal-breaker from my side and I think one from theirs as well. I’m wondering if I should email and politely withdraw, or just wait? What do you fine folks think?

    1. CoffeeLover*

      I think it’s more polite to withdraw once you’re certain you won’t take the position (if the deal-breaker is non-negotiable). Otherwise, they’re wasting their time considering you.

  61. Kali*

    What does everyone here think of coworking and coworking spaces? Is it big in your city? Do you do it? What do you like/dislike? My boss just decided to turn our building into a coworking space, so I’m trying to figure out how to actually make it worthwhile and not just the next fad.

    1. S*

      I lived in San Francisco, working in tech, and that’s where coworking spaces are all the rage. Personally, I love it–I love the start-up environment and I love open office spaces. But I can see where the noise level (oh, the noise level…) would bother a lot of people, even if you’re renting one of the ~private~ offices.

      If your building management is great (we work out of one of the SF WeWork buildings and use other coworking spaces in other cities), then it should be a mostly pleasant experience.

      1. Kali*

        Does your management help you get to know your coworking neighbors or does that happen organically?

    2. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      I love coworking spaces. Enough “energy” around that it feels better (to me) than working from home, not so much that I can’t focus. They usually have a nice split of open space and closed-door space.

      I worked for home for years and should have gotten myself a membership at one of the co-working spaces nearby.

      1. S*

        Yes! I loved the energy and vibe as soon as I step inside (and I loved petting the occasional dog in the elevator, heh).

        1. Kali*

          I can’t have a dog myself, so I’m going to quasi-selfishly make it a dog-friendly workplace so I can play with everyone else’s dogs!

    3. Marcela*

      I’ve worked in academia, where only the boss gets a private office, and I love coworking spaces. It’s true thay the noise can be bothersome, but in my experience it’s possible to get to an agreement so nobody suffer so much when they really need to concentrate. The best part for me is the natural way conversations include everyone. In the offices I’ve been all come from different places, and the open space makes very easy for anybody to say “really? In my country is like this…” or “yes, I’ve had that problem, I solved it this way…”. Even when we have had a jerk postdoc, the way the open spaces allow us to interact, has make possible to develop civil relationships with him, instead of isolating him and making everything worst as it happened in the only place where everyone had an office of two people.

  62. CoffeeLover*

    This is about volunteering so I’m not sure if it should be in the work thread. Basically, I would like to find a nonprofit organization to devote myself to in a volunteer capacity. I’m looking for something that’s more than physical labor (what I’ve done in the past) and utilizes my more “professional” skills. For example, there’s one position that helps new immigrants with resumes and interviewing. As someone who’s never REALLY volunteered before (for one organization in a longer-term capacity), how have you decided which organizations to volunteer for? I know their cause is probably the biggest factor, but are there other things I should consider? Any red flags I can look for that show the organization isn’t well managed or doesn’t successfully provide the services it boasts?

    1. nona*

      Look out for things like poor organization, complaining, high turnover, general drama… if you see a little bit of it now, it’s the tip of an iceberg. The green flags are extremely good organization, happy volunteers, people who tell you they began volunteering after a friend told them about it, and good relationships between the organization and related ones in the area.

    2. Not Today Satan*

      I think it’s a lot more rewarding working for a smaller organization that has few volunteers. Big, high-profile organizations tend to have a surplus of volunteers and not enough work to do–and then they bring you in anyway to “build a relationship” and hope that you’ll become a donor, but it can be a frustrating waste of time.

      Of course, the smaller, lower-profile orgs are harder to find.

      1. CoffeeLover*

        That’s something I hadn’t considered. I definitely want to be making an impact. I don’t want what you described above, a bunch of volunteers with nothing to do. Do you have any suggestions on how to find lower-profile orgs? Alternatively, is there a good way to find out whether the org actually has a role to fill?

    3. Mockingjay*

      I would treat it as you would a professional job search. Research the organization. Research the position. Identify the pros and cons. Is there an interview process? Can you request an informational interview?

      It is work, after all. The compensation is simply a different form than a paycheck: helping a good cause, personal satisfaction.

    4. ella*

      Depending on your location and the size of the town you’re in, you might check with your local library. Mine has a computer lab at once branch and they’re always looking for volunteers who know how to use computers who can compassionately help people on the other side of the digital divide do things like open facebook and email accounts. I know a lot of people go to the library looking for resume help, too (though I don’t help them with that).

    5. Volunteer Coordinator in NOVA*

      As someone who manages volunteers and does a lot of work in the sector, I would say look for somewhere that already has a program/volunteer roles identified before you start. It usually makes the process smoother but also means they’ve identified that as a need which is huge. I don’t use a lot of the huge databases like volunteer match as I don’t find them as helpful so you could always google organizations as you may find some smaller ones that way. You could also check with your local volunteer center as they usually have a pretty good idea of the organizations around them and their needs. A lot of homeless shelters or transitional programs are looking for volunteers to help with resume writing so I would recommend looking at those. I like organizations that have an orientation for their regular volunteers because I think it shows that they are transparent but they are also letting them know what you can expect from them and what they expect for you.

      Good luck!

  63. LizB*

    For hiring managers: when you interview someone, how important is it that they have excellent answers to every single question?

    I’ve had a few phone interviews lately, and I feel like in each of them — and really in most interviews I’ve had in my life — there’s been one question that catches me off guard, or that I don’t have an example prepared for. I always come up with an answer, but it’s not nearly as good as my other answers, and even if the rest of the interview goes well I feel like I totally screwed up. I prepare pretty carefully for interviews, but somehow there’s always one question that is unique to this interview, or is phrased in such a way that I can’t really use one of my prepared examples. Does this kind of thing happen to other people? Hiring managers, would one less-strong answer be enough to make you reject a candidate whose other answers were strong?

    1. Jillociraptor*

      I don’t think I’ve ever interviewed anyone who perfectly nailed every answer. When I’m hiring, I’m always looking at the interplay of strengths and weaknesses in the candidate, and how those complement the role and the team. It’s probably a flag if you can’t think of a time when you were successful at doing one of the core components of the job, or operating in a context critical to success in the job. But I’m not going to reject someone just because they didn’t have a strong answer to one question. Usually, if they’re overall strong, that’s just something I’ll probe in a different way in a future interview.

      1. LizB*

        That’s good to hear! I think I know theoretically that it isn’t really possible to nail every single answer, but I’m so anxious about this job search that I’m second-guessing everything I do. Thank you!

        1. Jillociraptor*

          I totally get it. I’m a long term commenter but job searching for the first time since visiting this site regularly. It’s amazing how often things that seemed like such no-brainers as a commenter suddenly seem impossible as a real-life job searcher. Second guessing and obsessing over details constantly! Good luck :)

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      I can’t speak for other hiring managers, but when I interview candidates for a position, I don’t really think of interviewing as a quiz or test (with right and wrong answers). It’s possible a candidate could say something alarming or extremely inappropriate that would be a huge red flag, but if a candidate seems nervous and isn’t as eloquent on one particular point, that’s rarely a dealbreaker.

      The other thing to consider is that (again, unless there’s a huge red flag), your interviewer is very unlikely to reject or accept you based on your interview questions (especially in a phone interview). Again—can’t speak for others—but I use the phone interview as a way to just make sure the person is semi-normal… I’ve seen her paperwork and qualifications already. If she’s semi-normal on the phone and looks good on paper, then I’ll bring her in for an in-person interview.

      At any step of the process, I’m not looking to ding candidates or “accept” them. It isn’t college. It’s not accept or reject. What I’m doing is ordering them in my mind (“This is my top pick. But I also really liked this about so-and-so.”). Then, when it comes time to make an offer, I’ll make an offer to the top candidate and keep the other top ones in mind. If you are the 2nd-from-top candidate, you may have said everything “right” in your interview, and you may be an excellent candidate, but if the top candidate takes the job, then you got “rejected.”

      Does that make sense?

      1. LizB*

        That does make sense, and is good to know. The phone interviews I’ve been having have seemed more substantive than just a quick is-she-a-weirdo check, though — lots of behavioral questions, etc. Still, I don’t think I’ve said anything super alarming, so that’s good.

        1. KJR*

          The other commenters have summarized my thoughts nicely. It would be very unusual for a candidate to give a super impressive answer to each question. I am looking for an overall picture.

      2. abby*

        This is similar to the approach I take. Like Anonymous Educator, I cannot speak for other hiring managers, but I am often alarmed if a candidate seems to “nail” every question. Did they just memorize phrases, or are they really thinking about the questions? And I don’t see an interview so much as a question-an-answer session; I prefer a conversation. Really, I do. We hire for fit as much as for skill, so the back-and-forth with the candidate is pretty important. If a candidate pauses to think through a thoughtful answer or asks for clarification, to me that is a good thing.

        1. Anonymous Educator*

          Yeah, I’d actually say the most common way a candidate can screw it up for me (because candidates rarely raise up red flags like saying something overtly racist/homophobic/sexist) is to not be natural at any time… ever.

          I expect in the beginning for candidates to be on their best behavior and to be polite. That’s just being professional. At some point, though, during the interview, I want to see a little vulnerability. How do you actually behave as a human? What are you really like (to a certain extent, of course)?

          If I can’t see any part of that (the vulnerability/humanity… dropping the shield), then I usually move that candidate down the list or off the list completely.

    3. Jake*

      In my experience different questions are weighted dramatically differently.

      For example, during my interview for my first job I was asked how I’d use my ROTC experience to fit in with the rough and tumble construction crowd. After my first month, my boss told me that my answer to that question nearly single-handedly got him to give the green light to hire me.

      I thought I’d done so-so on that interview, outright tanking at least 2 questions, however, that one question (and my answer) ended up outweighing any poor answers I had given.

  64. Jubilance*

    Any tips for dealing with coworkers and partners who will run to your boss to “snitch” on you instead of addressing it with you? I’m encountering this for the first time in my career and it’s driving me crazy. It’s to the point that I’m feeling demoralized and questioning myself, when I know this really isn’t about me. It just seems so extra to run to someone’s boss and say they didn’t email you back fast enough, instead of reaching out to the person. But this is the situation I’m in right now, so I need to work around it for now.

    1. CoffeeLover*

      Have you talked to the coworkers about this? “Jane, I’ve noticed you’ve gone straight to Boss about some issues you’ve had with my work recently. In the future, can you please speak to me first so I can try to address it before involving Boss.”

      Maybe someone else can weigh in on whether to loop the boss in that you either plan to have this conversation or have had the conversation.

    2. Jennifer*

      Beats me, but I’m running into it too. Actually, I’m not at all sure I’d even want them to tell me their complaints directly, since my boss is more tactful and modify-ing and makes it a little less terrible to have to hear. But man, I wish people would stop reporting on every tiny thing I don’t do 100% perfectly. I’m trying, dammit. I’m sorry I’m not 100% smooth, knowledgeable, and perfect about everything when literally half of what I’m asked is stuff I’ve never heard of! I’m sorry I was “late” because I was dealing with someone else’s work drama and couldn’t just take off and leave! etc, etc.

    3. Malissa*

      Can you ask your boss to redirect them to you? Say, “I’m finding it odd that people come bug you for minor things that I could address in half the time it takes you to deal with it. Could you please ask them if they’ve talked to me first?”

    4. peanut butter kisses*

      I would also try to sing the praises where deserved of your co-workers when appropriate. If someone did a great job on a project, let them know when someone else can hear. You will soften your image and seem more approachable. No one likes to rat out Bambi.

    5. Greggles*

      Went to a peer once about a mistake they made. Thought they took it ok until I got pulled into the office. I won’t go to a peer again.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      The boss is probably encouraging it. I had one boss who said she preferred things were handled this way, as we were not capable of working it out among ourselves. sigh… Yeah, that’s what I thought, too.

      I would go to the boss, especially if the boss is the one relaying all these messages to you. “Boss, I am really not a wicked witch, it’s okay for coworkers to tell me they need a speedy reply, etc. I won’t get ticked at them. Is it possible for them to be redirected to talk with me personally? I won’t learn how they want things handled if we don’t have an on-going and open conversation.”

  65. Jillociraptor*

    How do you include interim roles on a resume?

    My permanent position was eliminated earlier this spring, but I’ve been asked to stay on in an interim role through the end of the summer. Should I list the interim role separately, or as a bullet point in my previous role? I know what projects I will be working on in this position (and they’re pretty cool so that’s a bonus!) but I definitely haven’t done anything of note yet as I only started about a week ago. So I’m also not sure what to include. Any thoughts?

    1. puddin*

      Hmmm, I think it might depend on how much you get accomplished with the interim assignment. Is it a ‘whole job’ unto itself with lots of valuable measurables to add to your resume? If so, I would add it as a separate role.

      If it is a very temp or very low involvement role, I might leave it as a bullet point to your previous role.

      1. Jillociraptor*

        It is a whole job–it’s actually about two steps up in scope from my permanent role, though I’m filling in for someone on leave (so obviously I’m not doing her full job). At the end of the summer, I think I’ll have some valuable outcomes/accomplishments to include, but for right now, it’s really just anticipated outcomes.

        1. puddin*

          Yeah def separate then. This would call out the advanced nature of the job. List the targets or desired outcomes as your achievements for now and then update them when they are accomplished.

          If I were the hiring manager looking a this I would want to see that you have a plan for the role. Listing the targets seems to be the best resume strategy for this when you are one week into something.

          Good luck!

  66. HigherEd Admin*

    I just got a call from a recruiter from a Big Company, who introduced herself in a very confusing way on the phone, and then launched into a phone screen before my brain could figure out who she was and what job she was referencing!

    I managed to get in-person interview scheduled, so I guess I did well enough on-the-fly, but why do people do this?!

    1. Stephen King's Constant Reader*

      No answers for you because I find this mind-boggling, but I totally sympathize.

    2. CoffeeLover*

      It’s pretty rude, honestly. Like we’re expected to drop everything we’re doing to be interviewed on the fly. What if you’re at work? What if you’re driving? What if you have 4 screaming kids and 2 dogs around you? These things should be scheduled or at the very least she should ask if it’s a good time before jumping into a phone screen.

    3. KJR*

      What?? I *SCHEDULE* phone interviews in the same way that I do in-person interviews. Rude & unprofessional!!

    4. Mz. Puppie*

      Yeah, the Surprise Phone Interview is the reason that I stopped answering any unknown phone numbers while I was job searching. Let them leave me a voice mail so I can go back into my files and refresh myself on the job before talking. If they’d have a problem with leaving me a message and me calling them back same-day, then they’re too cray for me to work there anyway.

  67. Nervous Accountant*

    I guess this is more of a venting post than advice. It was my birthday on Saturday. Ever since I started working here everyone celebrated their bday. Usually a coworker gets a card and cake and passes it around and everyone who wants to contributes. Takes about 5-10 minutes, no ones pressured to contribute and it’s a popular thing. As sad as it sounds, I couldn’t wait until it was my turn.

    And then I find out that there’s now a policy that bday celebrations once a month. My manager didn’t like this rule and the ppl in charge of doing bdays didn’t like it But didn’t want to get in trouble (which I totally understand….). I’m told There will be a joint bday on the actual day of the other persons bday but….idk.

    Then……the same upper mgmt that forbid individual bday parties threw one for the CFO. My boss personally approached me and said. “I didn’t know it was ur birthday…. I don’t check the list….i’m the type that doesn’t care if ppl remember mine or not but you–…well happy bday, we did this for CFO bc there’s no one from upper mgmt here–”

    Of course I’m taking it personally. I was excited to have a bday at work for the first time ever….. I haven’t vocalized anything to anyone though, but I guess my face said it all.

    1. Jessica*

      Looks, that’s rough, but don’t take it personally because it clearly wasn’t meant to be. I also wouldn’t bring this up with anyone too. If it’s a company policy, there’s nothing you can do about it. Ask you friends and family to take you out and have a nice birthday celebration with them instead! Or, next week, bring in cake for the office and say that you wanted to share birthday cake with everyone.

    2. Malissa*

      You could work with me where birthday celebrations are completely random. Some times they get acknowledge, sometimes they don’t. Once in a while it’ll involve a lunch out. It’s all so random that I just ignore everything, including extortion requests for gift money.

    3. HeyNonnyNonny*

      Here is a story, because you are not alone in this: For three years, I went to graduate school, and every year they set up a ‘birthday bulletin board’ of all the graduate students. Every. Single. Year. I was left off.

      It sucks, because you want to know why you don’t matter, and it’s not fair. But I think Jessica had some great ideas…and the best thing about birthdays is you’ll get another one next year :)

    4. Nervous Accountant*

      Ok I feel horrible for posting this becauseeeeee they threw me (and the other may bday) a surprise party! So sweeet!!!!!

  68. katamia*

    I need to contact my previous/current employers within the last few years for my work visa (got the job in Taiwan, yay!), but I don’t want to let the companies I currently work for know that I’m leaving. (I’ll probably be leaving sometime in July.) Anyone have wording suggestions for how I can get letters that say I worked there from X date to X date without, er, indicating that I’m leaving? Or is this impossible and I should just tell them now because it would sound really weird otherwise?

    1. CoffeeLover*

      You could just try emailing your HR person and ask them for confirmation without giving a reason. If they ask, you could say you need it for banking reasons (banks want to see stable employed when giving out loans, so it seems like a reasonable white lie to tell).

  69. ALC*

    Recently, I had an eyebrow raising meeting with a headhunter who contacted me about a position a few days ago. I am not really in the job market but the opportunity seemed like a decent step up for me and would include tons of growth potential.
    I had a phone interview with the hiring manager for the job and that went well, but it is clear he is just starting to review candidates for the position.
    The headhunter asked me to meet them at a local coffee shop so we could discuss more things in more detail. I figured it a little strange since they’d already presented me to the client as a candidate but I was fine with it.
    I met with her before work and the whole thing seemed strange. The headhunter showed up wearing jeans and a casual shirt. I wore a suit. The first thing they asked was if I’d like to go ahead and buy a coffee, since they’d already had breakfast at home. I figured I had better since we are taking a table in the shop for this meeting. It seemed odd to me that they’d schedule this meeting and not plan to have a drink there, and that they didn’t offer to buy me a drink. (These things were not a big deal, just things I thought were mildly different than I’d been expecting.)
    Then they used the time we were meeting to pump me for information on my current company, my salary history, everywhere I’d interviewed before and the hiring managers involved…you get the picture. This came off like they were using this meeting as a way to find out information to expand their recruiting business and find clients. If I had known that was the purpose I would not have agreed to this meeting in the first place. I found it double rude not to even buy me a coffee in exchange for all this information (kidding)!
    Finally toward the end of the meeting the headhunter made a point to chastise me a bit about how I need to be careful about mentioning job titles too much to hiring managers, as it can come off like I’m not interested in the opportunity. This was said in a very condescending tone (which was odd because they had just gotten done telling me about how they knew one of my former colleagues, whom I was quite friendly with, and made a point to call him condescending, even after I mentioned our friendship). I just looked at them quizzically and said, of course that is what I mean, job title is a proxy for the opportunity that comes with more responsibility. I understand sometimes things can get misinterpreted but what I’m talking about is opportunity specifically. They backed down eventually but all in all I found this meeting to be very surprising and in their interest, not mine as the candidate. Maybe I am looking at it the wrong way, has anyone experienced something like this as well…?

    1. College Career Counselor*

      Recruiter sounds full of him/herself. Trust your instinct that the person was pumping you for info and that it had little if anything to do with the job you are under consideration for. Good luck in moving forward with the hiring manager!

  70. Workplace Birthday Parties*

    My workplace celebrates everyone’s birthday with a card and lunch out. The organizer for this is always a woman. This year, I was voluntold to do it by another coworker. She is a manager, but not my manager. About two organizers ago/a year ago, I suggested that we evenly divide the birthday responsibility among all the staff – everyone picks a name and organizes that lunch and card. Not hard, right? But, my suggestion got a lot of sexist push back, such as ‘I don’t think the men can handle that responsibility, haha’. I said that was unfair to our male colleagues and said that it is sexist, but no one cared to hear my opinions.

    I’m mostly annoyed and frustrated about the sexist push back. My male c0-workers are competent adults. I would feel terrible if my c0workers thought I was inherently unable to accomplish a task because of my gender. Like, what!?? This morning I mentioned again to a coworker that we should make the birthday celebrations more equal and, again, I heard a lot of sexist drivel. I replied ‘well, I don’t agree with that.’ I also mentioned that the worst that would happen is someone’s birthday is over looked – and that they would obviously bring it up and we would schedule something. It’s not like they would cease to exist if their birthday wasn’t acknowledged!

    Anyways, I’ve done about two birthdays so far, and I’m completely over it. I have my bi-weekly meeting with my boss next week. How can I bring this up to him so that 1/ I’