open thread – May 8, 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 :)

{ 1,360 comments… read them below }

  1. The Case of the Mysterious Pubic Hair*

    Can we talk about inappropriate bathroom behavior at work?

    In my office there is someone who leaves pubic hair all over the seat, every day. I honestly don’t even know how it’s possible to leave that much behind. This is in the only usable stall. The others are soooo tiny. There is also something strange about this pubic hair. It’s suffers from static cling. I’ve tried to wipe it away and, I’m not kidding, I wipe it away, throw the tissue in the bowl and it appears on the seat again, like magic. It’s so bizarre. Why they can’t just clean the seat when they’re done, I’ll never know.

    There is also a woman that insists on turning the sink on when she goes to the bathroom and leaves it running the whole time. One time I turned it off and she asked me to turn it back on. What an enormous waste of water.

    1. AdAgencyChick*

      OMG YES. Dante should have put an extra circle in hell for people who pee on the seat and don’t wipe it up.

      And don’t blame the overactive toilet flushing mechanism. Yeah, that does happen, but I can tell the difference. Colorless droplets on the seat = the flushing mechanism. Yellow on the seat = you’re an a-hole.

      People in my office are pigs! Toilet paper all over the floor, pee on the seat, etc. I feel embarrassed when clients come to the agency and I know they’re going to see it.

      1. Anx*

        My college reno’d a new wing and the toilet seats have little lifter thingy attached. I was so excited. About 4 years I seriously considered writing letters to toilet companies urging them to design toilet seats that were more sanity to lift up. I’m so glad they’re doing it now!

    2. Anoners*

      Oh god yes. The worst is being a guy using a urinal and having people try to have full blown work convos with you. Like.. please just stop talking to me at this moment.

      1. The Case of the Mysterious Pubic Hair*

        My other half complains about this all the time. As well as when he’s using a urinal in a row of 5 other empty urinals and someone comes in and uses the one right next to him.

      2. Beezus*

        I heard a story the other day about a coworker walking into a men’s room to see someone eating a slice of pizza while using the urinal. I am still horrified.

        1. JB (not in Houston)*

          I was once washing my hands in the bathroom at my old job, and a coworker came in with an uncovered plate of food, sat it on the little table near the sinks, and went into the stall. NO.

          1. chewbecca*

            A few months back, women kept walking by my desk and mentioning there was a half-eaten pie sitting on the chair we have in our restroom. I never had the chance to see it for myself, but it was incredibly weird.

            What’s worse is that if I remember correctly, it was a chocolate pie.

            1. The Case of the Mysterious Pubic Hair*

              Was she mentioning it because it was strange or was this an “if anyone is interested, there’s poop cake in the bathroom” kind of mention?

              1. chewbecca*

                They were all mentioning it because it was strange. I really hope that our employees have enough sense not to eat mystery bathroom pie.

      3. Kyrielle*

        My coworker had a guy come into the bathroom looking for him while he was, uh, busy – in a stall, not a urinal, no less. Called his name, he foolishly responded, this guy proceeded to stand around outside the stall and hold a conversation.

        No, it wasn’t anything super-critical time-wise.

        I don’t even.

      4. Sunflower*

        I’m a woman and my boss talks to me while I’m using the toilet. Like we have an offices right next to each other- wait til I’m back please! Or at least wait til I come out to use the sink. It’s so awkward.

          1. kozinskey*

            That scene made me idolize Claire Underwood maybe a little more than is appropriate. She is so tough.

        1. Laura*

          I had someone do this to me and I just keep redirecting them. I’m not going to talk to you while I’m on the toilet.
          Them: “I just wanted to ask you about (whatever it is)”
          Me: “Okay, I’ll be back at my desk shortly.”
          Them: “I’ve been thinking about that issue where …”
          Me: “I’ll be back at my desk in a minute, so I’ll be able to talk to you about it then.”
          Keep repeating until they get the point.

      5. BRR*

        I was peeing once at a urinal and two guys were washing their hands and talking. One was on his way out but held the door open to the bathroom while he finished his conversation. Like WTF! Anybody walking by (it was a heavily trafficked hallway) could glance in and see me going.

      6. Sadsack*

        I was washing my hands in the ladies room in a college library. I heard the person in the stall, after having used the toilet, rummaging around in a backpack and then the sound of foil or plastic packaging being opened. She came out of the stall and was eating a granola bar as she walked past me and straight out the door. No handwashing. I guess she might have used purell in the stall. But still.

    3. Malissa*

      This is exactly why there are clorox wipes in my work bathroom. I have no idea how someone can leave so much hair and dirt on a toilet seat.

      1. The Case of the Mysterious Pubic Hair*

        We share the bathroom with other businesses on the same floor. Otherwise, I would absolutely leave clorox wipes in there.

    4. The Cosmic Avenger*


      1. The Case of the Mysterious Pubic Hair*

        This is similar to flushing when you fart. You’re not fooling anyone.

        1. Bea W*

          Though to be fair, sometimes those fart noises are actually shart noises and require immediate flushing before the smell knocks you unconscious.

          1. The Cosmic Avenger*

            Yes, although there’s one guy in my office who flushes almost CONSTANTLY when he’s in a stall. Annoying, especially since we’re supposed to be a “green” company.

          2. Mabel*

            Bea W, your comment made me laugh out loud! “shart” and “before the smell knocks you unconscious” !!! Thank you!

      2. Kyrielle*

        Possible. If I’m being charitable, maybe she needs the sound to help her for some reason?

        1. brightstar*

          I once knew a girl (we were teenagers) who was unable to go without the water running.

          1. nervous pee-er*

            It’s quite possible. I’m ostensibly not a shy/modest person about these things – I camp a lot, have no problem doing my business in the woods, I have no trouble changing in front of people or going nude at clothing-optional events…but I have a mental block that makes it really hard for me to pee when I think other people are listening. I’ll sit there trying to will myself to relax enough to pee but sometimes I really just can’t, even when I have to go so badly it’s painful. It’s an involuntary muscle so no matter how consciously/rationally fine I am with the fact that people can hear me, I can’t make it relax. It doesn’t happen every time someone else is in the bathroom, it’s usually when someone else is in the bathroom being very quiet that triggers it – like without knowing what they’re doing without making any noise some part of me decides they’re listening to me pee and clams up. If they’re in the bathroom but they’re also peeing or washing their hands it doesn’t seem to trigger the reaction.

            1. chewbecca*

              I spent about 3 years either working from home or being unemployed, and when I started my current job, I had a really hard time adjusting to peeing around other people again. It didn’t help that our bathroom has no ambient noise piped in, so it’s incredibly quiet in there. It took several months and lots of “it’s okay, just relax” to finally be able to go easily again.

            2. JB (not in Houston)*

              I have that problem when someone comes into the bathroom right after I sit down. I am easily startled, and our bathroom is pretty quiet. The sudden noise startles me, and then I just have to sit there until I can relax.

              1. Journalist Wife*

                Yes! I cannot “go” if someone else is in there! A coworker of mine also suffers from this as well, so we call it “Pee Fright” (like stage fright) and luckily the other ladies we work with know about it and give us a minute to ourselves. But yes, it’s the worst! There is no amount of self-talk rationalization that I can give myself to make that bladder OK with going. Although occasionally counting in my head really fast helps, though I once had a boyfriend I confided that in — and he thought it was so hilarious that every time we were on the interstate or somewhere with no bathrooms, he’d look at me and start whispering “1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10…” to make me have to go.

          2. Not So NewReader*

            I remember an Ann Landers column (Or was it Abby?) in the 70s talking about shy kidneys. Don’t know why that stayed with me, but I still remember. For years now, if I notice that someone in the next stall is very quiet, I just finish up and get out as quickly as I can. That has to be annoying and uncomfortable to have to deal with.

      3. Allison*

        To be fair, I’ve heard (rather immature) young women talk about times where they were in the bathroom and they could hear someone doing their business, and it was “like, omigod, soooooo grossssss!” or whining about how the bathroom smells like poop, so I can understand that some people might be embarrassed by what they (naturally) do while on the toilet. If more people just realized that the bathroom is where humans go to do “gross” things, others wouldn’t be made to feel ashamed of it.

        1. JB (not in Houston)*

          Right? Women take a lot of shame for it (I think I’ve mentioned before a coworker who thought no woman should have gas because it was unladylike), but anything that every human does, that cannot be prevented, and that is a natural process of living is nothing to be ashamed of.

        2. The Case of the Mysterious Pubic Hair*

          Yeah. I didn’t really think about it too much. I just thought about wasting water and that it seemed like 4th grade behavior. But you’re right, people do shame other people for simply being people.

        3. Valar M.*

          I’ve heard people of all kinds, not just young or women doing the same thing. In fact I’ve known fully grown adults posting about it on FB and social media, so yep.

        4. The Other Dawn*

          I’ll never forget the time I was doing my business and two women, probably early 20s, came in and remarked, “Oh my God! It’s smells so bad in heeeeerreeee!!!!! Sooooo GROSSSS!!!!” Um, it’s a bathroom. Hello?! Grow the fuck up!

          And to be clear it wasn’t me. It was the person before me, but building management didn’t stock air freshener in the restrooms so of course it looked like it was me. So I stayed in the stall until they were gone.

        5. matcha123*

          Courtesy Flush is great and works. Don’t let the turd fester in the water, flush it as soon as it hits and continue with your business.

          1. Bridget*

            Yeah, except that there’s almost NO WAY I’m going to touch a public toilet handle. I always use my foot. So a courtesy flush isn’t always an option in a public bathroom =X

      4. Sadsack*

        Some of us occasionally get stage fright in a public bathroom. I bet that’s why she does it.

    5. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I thought that working in a small office with one bathroom would reduce my bathroom annoyances, but it doesn’t. Someone (pretty sure I know who) never throws her paper towels in the trash can and NEVER replaces the toilet paper roll.

      This is better than previous offices, where people were DISGUSTING. One woman used to stuff the toilet with seat covers and clog it constantly. I don’t know why. And the hovering? Come on, now. Wipe up!

    6. Sparrow*

      I’m a firm believer that everyone should turn around before leaving the stall to make sure nothing is awry. As for the water, my thought is that she’s trying to cover up noises. I agree, enormous waste of water.

      1. kozinskey*

        Yes! People in my office are totally guilty of failing to double flush. Our toilets are wimpy, how do they not realize this by now??

      2. the gold digger*

        Freakanomics radio did an entire show about why, if we have to suffer with piped-in music everywhere else in life, are public restrooms silent as a tomb.

      3. Ama*

        The management of the building my office rents space in resorted to posting signs on the interior of all the stalls. I guess it is working — it seems like I walk in to find all three toilets with clear bowls more often –but it still makes me feel like we’re all in elementary school.

    7. fposte*

      If it’s magic wipe-resistant hair for you, it might be the same for the owner, I suppose.

      But basically I’m with Sparrow. Turn around and look before you go. The campsite rule doesn’t quite work–taking photographs would be weird, and leaving footprints suggests a depressingly low level of floor hygiene–but the underlying principle is sound: the place shouldn’t look any different for your having used it.

      1. The Case of the Mysterious Pubic Hair*

        You raise a very good point. I suppose she’s not able to wipe it away for some reason either. If it were me I’d be bringing wet ones to wipe the seat after I was done.

          1. Nashira*

            Somebody please put me out of my misery. I’ve been having an ulcerative colitis flare since February, and this week got put on a new med that frightens me. (irrationally – you have to be taking 3.5-5x higher dose to get the “gives you cancer” side effect.) I’m also on an emotional rollercoaster from only absorbing random doses of my psych meds. So what did I do?

            Randomly burst into tears while talking to my supervisor about how our remote manager is frustratingly clueless about conditions at our office. We both just ignored it but I wanted to crawl into a hole and never come out again. The thing with my manager is frustrating, as is being afraid to have coworkers find out how ill I am, since they’ll turn on me like sharks, but… Why did I have to get teary? Ahhhhhhh!

            1. Ruffingit*

              It happens and it’s OK. Really. You had a crying fest at an inopportune time, but guess what that means? You’re human. You have a chronic illness, you just got put on a new medication and you are not observing all you’re psych meds. You also apparently work on the set of Jaws. Any or all of those things can make one teary if not outright weepy. Hang in there and just know it’s OK. It’s really OK. You’re doing the best you can. HUGS!

            2. HR Generalist*

              This is my number one thing I’d like to change about myself (on a normal day!!!). I cry when I’m talking far too easily despite trying to be steely and act like I’m not emotionally affected. I would say don’t worry about it (especially considering I do it all the time). I’m going through a breakup at home right now and I get so frustrated about not being able to hold a constructive conversation without being obviously emotional.

              If I do it at work I will sometimes follow up with the victim of my emotional state. Sometimes by email or in person, just saying “Hey Jane – I got a little emotional yesterday when we were talking and I hope it didn’t make you uncomfortable. It’s something that happens a lot to me (sometimes I’ll add ‘especially when I’m frustrated, dealing with some stuff on the side, having a rough day, etc.’), I just can’t control it and it makes me uncomfortable too. Hope I didn’t weird you out too much!”
              In general people are really supportive around that conversation and I usually don’t have to disclose much personally. It’s important to be really casual about it in person. If I know I can’t handle that, I’ll do it by email. I’m sorry you’re going through all of this. Don’t be afraid of emotions at work – everyone has them and it’s nothing to stress (more) about. Take care of yourself first!

          2. I Know Weird Stuff About Weird Stuff*

            Because she’s got one of those hair-pulling disorders, and she’s sitting there on the seat plucking out hairs. And because they weren’t ready to be removed, they’ve still got that little bit of sticky flesh stuck to the root end, so they stick to the seat.

          3. Valar M.*

            It’s possible too that they are on medication that is making them lose hair. It’s not just the hair on your head that you lose, you know.

        1. Bea W*

          Every once in a while I’ll drop a pube on the seat, and I am totally horrified. There is no way I would leave that laying around for the next user, but I’m one of those people who check before I leave the stall to be sure I’m not leaving anything behind that would gross out the next user. It’s just hair, but no one wants to be forced to think about their co-workers’ public hair.

            1. hermit crab*

              Haha, public hair! I work in the *public* health field, often with or about *public* water systems, and we always have to triple-check our deliverables for accidental instances of the word “pubic.” This is the first I’ve seen of the typo/joke going the other way. :)

      2. Gene*

        Re: photos.

        I don’t know if it’s still being updated, and I can’t remember the name, but I used to follow a blog where the author photo documented every BM. One could follow his/her(?) health problems. The “Prepping for a colonoscopy” series commentary was a riot!

      3. Keery (Like the County In Ireland)*

        My peeve is if you use a toilet seat cover, you flush it. You do not leave it for the next person. How do you live so grossed out by germs that you can’t sit your bare hiney on a seat, AND THEN not touch the seat cover that your hiney was on? Get it together, ladies.

        1. chewbecca*

          I remember reading somewhere that they’re not even that effective. They nearly disintegrate when they get wet.

        2. Hlyssande*

          When I went to the bathroom a bit ago, someone had left toilet paper neatly laid across the seat. We don’t have covers. Were they making their own? Why would they leave it there? I DON’T KNOW!

          1. matcha123*

            Maybe your coworker is actually four years old, because I remember doing that at public toilets when I was that age. I thought I was being helpful because the seats were dirty. So, might want to be on the lookout for kindergartners in your office.

    8. Rebecca*

      I’m sick of going into the bathroom, discovering 1 or 2 sheets of toilet paper on the roll, and there are 2 rolls on the back of the toilet. What, is your time so precious you couldn’t do one small thing for the next person? Then, after I wash my hands, and try to get a paper towel, no towels, but someone put a roll on top of the dispenser. Thanks. I love it when water runs down my hands into my armpits because you couldn’t take a few minutes to put the towels IN the dispenser. And many times, there are simply no towels at all, and I wipe my hands on my pants.

      I’d love to know who the thoughtless special snowflakes are in my office so I could Gibbs smack them.

      1. Nanc*

        My office, too, has a someone-with-awful-bathroom-manners who deserves a daily Gibbs smack. Honestly, does she d this at home? She’s also the one who can’t close the door to the outside, resulting in flies–and guess whose office is closest to that outside door?

    9. Hlyssande*

      Ugh that’s terrible.

      I wipe down the seat every dang time (unless I’m about to lose control – long training sessions can do that to me) because I’ve sat in gross way too many times not to do so.

      Even when I don’t see it at a glance, there are usually droplets somewhere I need to wipe up.

    10. Dang*

      How about people who have phone conversions while pooping in the work bathroom?
      And why does that make ME feel awkward when I flush the toilet??

      1. kozinskey*

        Someone in our office listens to headphones at such a loud volume I can hear it, too. It makes me unreasonably uncomfortably.

      2. kozinskey*

        Someone in our office listens to headphones at such a loud volume I can hear it, too. It makes me unreasonably uncomfortable.

      3. Anon-4-this*

        Heh, I get a perverse sense of satisfaction out of flushing while someone’s on the phone. Like, you chose the location, you suffer the consequences!

    11. Bekx*

      One of our interns didn’t flush the toilet when I was in the stall next to her! She walked in with me, so she knew I was there.

      We washed our hands, she left…I checked and yup. Girl needs to drink more water. So I did the impossibly hard task of flushing for her.


      1. Bea W*

        People do this all the time when they poop. There was one person at a former workplace who had a BM every morning and just let it soak.

      2. Dana*

        A friend of mine works in a place where everything is automatic, the toilet flushing, the soap dispenser, the water, the paper towel, and I’ve definitely caught her not turning off the water in a restaurant. But I don’t know how you wouldn’t realize nothing flushed…

        1. Bekx*

          She didn’t even flush at all! I kiiiinda get it if you flush and run out and don’t realize it was a half-flush, but she didn’t even try!

          1. JB (not in Houston)*

            Would that were the case in my office! A few weeks ago the thing flushed *four times* while I was sitting on it. I think it gets confused if I wear all black?

            1. Seal*

              One of the places I worked had a bathroom like that. It also had motion detector lights. The lights went off very shortly after they stopped detecting motion, so if you were the only one in the bathroom and sitting down to do your business, the lights would go off. You would have to move to turn the lights back on, which would trigger the automatic flush on the toilet, which was also a motion detector. Even a quick pee would result in at least a couple of flushes unless you wanted to sit in the dark, windowless bathroom. The whole campus was billed as being green, but I was never sure what all that overactive technology in the bathroom was saving.

              1. JB (not in Houston)*

                Ok, that just reminds me of the Better Off Ted episode with the automatic light problem. I think in real life, that would be an awful thing to happen in a bathroom.

              1. Colette*

                When I was last in London, some public toilets had a sensor on the wall. When you needed to flush, you waved your hand over the sensor. It was simple and brilliant.

                1. Elizabeth West*

                  Love those. Also the Dyson Airblade hand dryers. I wish we had them here. And my favorite thing of all–the walls on the stalls in UK loos go almost all the way to the floor. If you must put your bag on the floor, you don’t have to worry about a random person snatching it from underneath, or kicking it or the toilet roll out where you can’t reach it.

                2. OhNo*

                  I saw those toilets, too, and they’re pretty great! I really liked that the sensor for all the ones I saw wasn’t right behind the seat – so you could move around while sitting without triggering it, but it was still motion-sensitive when you were actually ready to flush.

                  I wish we had that kind in my office, not the automatic kind that flush every time you take a deep breath.

                3. periwinkle*

                  Our building has autoflush sensors, but as a non-trusting person I use the magic power of hand-waving to manually trigger it. Also, we have the Dyson Airblade hand dryers (as do a lot of Starbucks). So awesome, if I had one at home I’d wear contacts more often…

                4. Windchime*

                  Trying to reply to Elizabeth West. Our Ikea and Costcos have the Dyson air blade dryers, at least here in the PNW. I love them; they are the only air dryers that actually work.

      3. Gene*

        For those of us who grew up in desert climates that admit they are deserts (yes, I’m looking at you SoCal), not flushing in this situation is autopilot. It takes mental effort to remember to flush.

        Maybe she was preoccupied with something else?

      4. HR Generalist*

        I’ve honestly done this at work and was mortified (including almost walking out on a #2 before!). Maybe I’m easily distracted but I grew up with a septic and the rule was not to flush unless it’s a #2. I also used a composting toilet for awhile. I don’t know if it’s a habit or what but I always do a double-check now to make sure I did flush before I leave the washroom!

    12. Bea W*

      I wonder if the woman who turns on the sink does so to help her go. I’ve heard of people doing that to help in situations where it’s just hard to go even when you have to go.

      1. Mabel*

        My ex had the same problem. Sometimes she couldn’t pee unless there was water running.

    13. Clever Name*

      I had a coworker who would wear black velour pants, so when she pulled her pants down to use the toilet, she would leave tiny velour hairs behind on the toilet seat (I am assuming this). Another coworker thought they were tiny and weird pubic or hairs from her rear end and was really relieved when I pointed out it was probably just from her fuzzy pants.

    14. Jaune Desprez*

      I once got a desperate call from my husband begging me to grab a pair of his trousers and bring them downtown to his office before he had to present at a big meeting. He had allowed his pants to touch the floor while he was using a bathroom stall, only to discover that they had absorbed most of a large puddle of urine left by a previous tenant.

    15. Vanishing Girl*

      Another pet peeve: people who don’t wash their hands afterwards!! At least pretend to wash for appearance’s sake.

      1. Allison*

        Ick, why?? I’ll be honest, when I was younger sometimes I’d skip washing my hands, but for some reason in college I became very aware of dirt and germs, and now if I even try to walk away from the bathroom without washing my hands my hands just feel weird, and I *have* to go back and wash them.

        1. Vanishing Girl*

          Yeah, if I try to just rinse my hands without soap I start to feel weird and have to wash them properly. But I like to wash my hands: it feels nice to get all that dirt off.

          1. ThursdaysGeek*

            Generally, all the soap does is get you to wash a bit longer, which is what does the good. The water and time get the germs off, the soap has little effect, except on your feelings.

        2. Cruciatus*

          I was actually the exact same way. As a teen I was even anti-hand washing but eventually some wisdom kicked in. I can’t leave a restroom without washing my hands (although I’m not as obsessed about clean hands as some of my coworkers who are constantly rubbing Germ-X on their hands). I work at a med school and whenever a student leaves without washing their hands I want to screeeeaaammm at them. It’s not going to get less germy from here, folks! Although, some of these students are jerks when they DO wash their hands. There are 2 doors to get out of the restroom so they will use a paper towel to open the door then the other door then throw it on the floor in the little “foyer” between the two doors so the cleaning people can pick it up later. Rude.

          1. Beezus*

            A lot of public bathrooms have a trash can near the door for exactly this reason.

    16. Catlady*

      That is really disgusting. At first I thought you meant the office seat and I was like WTF?? I’m not sure how you could address that with the office. But I mean, how does that even happen? Does this person itch themselves to the point that hair is falling out??? If so shouldn’t they get checked for some kind of yeast infection? It might seem passive aggressive, but I might put up a sign that says something like “Please make sure to clean up after you’re done.” Not referring to the actual type of cleaning….

      1. The Case of the Mysterious Pubic Hair*

        Could you imagine if it was the office seat? Woah. That would be a whole different issue.

        I’ve thought about making a sign, but its a shared bathroom in an executive park. Other offices are using it too.

        1. Mabel*

          I bet if you make signs for the inside of the stall doors and put them up, they would stay for a while.

    17. Oldblue*

      So here is a question about casual interviewers….

      I applied to a job advertised on a company website that didn’t have much description of the job. That may seem a little crazy, but its title was a type of job in my industry so it’s forgivable. Anyway, I got an interview, and when I wrote to confirm the interviewer, who would also be my supervisor, signed their first name. Does that mean I should call this person by their first name at the interview or should I stick to a title? I’ve done quite a lot of research on the company and they seem to have a similar atmosphere to a place I interned at, which was sort of casual. I don’t mean that I’d come to the interview in jeans and smack gum, but am I allowed to call this person by their first name?

      1. The Case of the Mysterious Pubic Hair*

        I think it’s fine to use their first name so long as you don’t leave any pubic hair in the bathroom when you’re interview is over.

        Sorry, couldn’t help myself. I realize you meant to post this elsewhere. In all seriousness, if they used their first name I’m sure you can use it too. I always do and it’s never been an issue.

      2. Rowan*

        I don’t think calling an interviewer by their first name is even casual. I think that’s normal for just about everywhere, unless you’re being interviewed by the president.

      3. Beezus*

        It’s very normal to call people by their first names in the workplace, regardless of their position or title.

        1. the gold digger*

          I had to be told, in my first job after college, that “Here we are on a first-name basis.”

          They were all so old. They were my mom and dad’s age. How could I possibly call them by their first names?

    18. matcha123*

      I also have someone leaving love crumbs on my work toilet seats. And don’t get me started on the squat toilets. How is this not even my country and I can aim better than you all? No excuses.

      Oh, and the people that don’t flush. How can you not notice that? This is not an automatic toilet with a sensor, it needs some manual labor. Argh!

    19. Treena Kravm*

      Ah yes, during the first month on the job, I’m getting these wild listserv emails about the bathroom in my office that I never go to. Apparently people were leaving streaks of poop all over the toilet bowl and then leaving it?? I wish I could remember details, but the director of the location’s pleas to please stop it were kind of hilarious, in a glad-I’m-not-there kind of way.

    20. Xanthippe Lannister Voorhees*

      I do hope that you have seen Broad City- one of the characters frequently has to deal with “pube situations” at her job at a fitness studio

      1. The Case of the Mysterious Pubic Hair*

        I have not seen it, but now I am going to look it up.

    21. Pee Shy*

      There is actually an anxiety disorder called Paruresis that I suffered from pretty severely for 10+ years where you can’t pee in public places. I’ve actually had to be catheterized at the hospital more than once because no matter how badly I had to go, I just couldn’t get it out (and it wasn’t for physical reasons–I got checked out). Even though I’m 95% better and can go in public restrooms, airplanes, and in the woods most of the time these days, I still DESPISE public restrooms in the U.S., because most of the time the walls and door don’t go down to the floor, which in my mind is just barbaric. While the water wastage would get to me too, I wouldn’t blame anyone for running the water just to be able to pee during the day–I can’t tell you how painful it is to hold it all damn day. And feel like a freak because you can’t do something that is physically necessary to life, because your brain has decided nope, not here, not today!

      1. The Case of the Mysterious Pubic Hair*

        I would never expect someone to hold it in all day just to save a little water. That would be awful. I didn’t realize this was an issue. But now that I do, I won’t let it bother me so much. Sorry you have to deal with that.

        1. Pee Shy*

          No worries, it’s much better now. It’s a very little-known problem because people really don’t talk about it, for obvious reasons…it’s embarrassing to admit to, and relates to functions usually considered to be private. I’ve never once seen a doctor or therapist who had ever heard of it…I only stumbled upon the term and a support website accidentally online one day. Ah, all the varieties of human experience never cease to amaze me!

          1. The Case of the Mysterious Pubic Hair*

            Interesting. I have sort of an opposite issue… overactive bladder. There are times when in a 15 minute span I have to pee 3 times, urgently. It’s so bad that you’d think I was holding it in all day. If I am out and away from bathrooms when it strikes, I’m in real trouble. I have had to hold it for lengthy periods before because I wasn’t near a bathroom. Once I was stuck in traffic on a bridge for 4 hours. No where to go. It was pure misery. And then there have been times that I’ve waited so long and had to go so bad that I almost can’t go because my muscles have tightened so much just to keep it in. I completely understand the pain of holding it in.

            1. Pee Shy*

              That sounds terrible too! I get the muscles tightening thing–I think that and the anxiety play off each other. A urologist told me once that when your bladder muscles get really overextended from holding it, they have a hard time contracting again to squeeze it out. And now we’re totally off topic, so back to our regularly scheduled programming…. :)

              1. HRWitch*

                My company requires all new employees pass a urinalysis drug test, to be taken care of between the conditional offer and setting the start date. The clinic called to say that one gentleman couldn’t produce a sample. He showed up in my office a day later with a note from his doctor regarding his medical condition, so we arranged for a ($400+) blood test in order to confirm his start date. Since then, we’ve had this same condition come up in several other candidates; it is apparently more common than one might think.

            2. Really anon for this one!*

              I’m pretty sure I have an overactive bladder too, and it’s no fun. :( What’s the worst is mine hits suddenly and with no warning. One minute I’m fine, the next I’m in an epic internal struggle to not let anything out.

              And there have been plenty of times where my conscious self has lost battle. :(

      2. Marcela*

        I’m more bothered by the big gap in bathroom doors. Why?! People can look at me, in the eyes, when I’m in there!

    22. Hlyssande*

      Happiness is being the first person in the stall on Monday morning. I know because the seat is still up after cleaning.

      Ahhh, clean seat.

      1. Windchime*

        Unless you’re coming in after my coworker, who is a woman from Russia and who inexplicably pees with the seat up. I suspect she might be a “hoverer” but I’m not sure.

        1. AnotherFed*

          I have accidentally done this when not paying enough attention. :( Especially at work, where I’m still thinking about whatever I was working on, and just forget to put the seat down.

    23. Tiny Tim*

      She probably has a shy bladder and that’s the only was she can go “in public”. I used to have the same problem

    24. The Case of the Mysterious Pubic Hair*

      I’m curious, with all the talk of food in the bathroom on this thread (which I also think is completely gross), is there a difference between bringing food, opening food, eating food in the bathroom vs. washing you dishes in the bathroom sink or brushing your teeth? I also think this is really disgusting, but I have received mixed feedback when I have mentioned it in the past. Is it just me or is this still totally gross to most people?

    25. "The same thing you are."*

      Re the pubic hair: there are some cultures that have a belief system where one needs to be very, very careful about the disposal of hair and nail trimmings. In the hands of a skilled enemy, these could bring about serious problems via the use of sympathetic magic.

      It might be interesting to talk this up down at the office, and see if it makes any difference as word spreads.

  2. Mockingjay*

    Need a professional response to demeaning remarks, and general omission of my presence.

    I am a technical writer. On my current toxic project (on a federal DoD contract), a part of my job is to take minutes for specified technical meetings. That’s fine, these are deliverables on the contract. And I take excellent minutes, because I have the technical background to understand the subjects. My main job is to write engineering reports, technical processes, and program management plans.

    Government project boss figured out that I am semi-intelligent and actually listen in meetings, so he pulled me from doing most technical deliverables. For the last year, I have done little more than take minutes for nearly every meeting – formal or internal, for over 60 people. (Never mind we have an Admin Assistant whose job it is to do minutes. She does a few of the smaller meetings, but that’s all.)

    The worst part is the snide comments in each meeting from multiple staff – Government and contractor:
    -“Mockingjay, write that down.” (Laughs.)
    -“Don’t write that down.” (Refers to joke or politically incorrect statement.)
    -“Mockingjay, did you write down the action items?” (Tone of incredulity, as if they don’t believe I was paying attention.)
    -“Did you catch that?” “Did you get that?” “Did you write all that down?”
    These commenters are not looking for affirmation that I caught an important point. It’s a horrible, snarky tone, by multiple persons, including the Government lead.

    It’s patently obvious that I take detailed, accurate notes and produce well-written, nicely formatted documents, because I keep being asked to do more of them (I have done over 50 sets of minutes in the last year), and I have received written commendations for several. Most of the internal meetings don’t even require minutes; I am simply writing down staff homework assignments because they are too lazy to do it. Never mind that we have a massive database with a task tracking tool they can use.
    And then there is the “invisibility” factor.

    At the start of a meeting or teleconference, the attendees go around the room and introduce themselves or announce who’s on the line. I am omitted each time – as the minute taker, I apparently have no status.

    Last week, our project sponsor was on site for several teleconferences to discuss teaming with another project, with participants dialing in across the country. During the introductions, when my agency team omitted me as usual, he stopped the meeting (shocked that they would be so rude) and ensured I had the opportunity to introduce myself and greet the teleconference participants. My team was flabbergasted to realize that I have an established professional relationship with the team lead from the other project – we had worked together years prior and have kept in touch.

    While I know the long-term solution is to find another job, how can I respond to these unprofessional behaviors in the interim? So far I have given no response or only repeated back the list of items.

    1. Future Analyst*

      For introductions, is it possible to jump in and introduce yourself? It’ll make people feel awkward, but they’re being incredibly rude. You can do so light-heartedly, as if it’s an honest mistake that they “forgot” to include you. Do it every time, and eventually they will include you as well, or at least pause for you to introduce yourself.

      As for their snotty remarks asking if you wrote down whatever, I would just respond nicely by reading back what you have (as it pertains to what they’re asking). They’re being rude, and snotty, and it’s totally uncalled for, but I think your best bet is to stay completely professional. This may include quickly stopping by the worst offender after the meeting, and asking “is there anything you’d like me to do differently during note-taking? I’ve noticed that you seem concerned that I’m not noting important information.”

    2. Sunflower*

      This sucks! So since you are getting pulled into all these meetings, does that take you away from other work you should be doing? Can you approach your boss and say ‘Boss, I have these projects to work on and taking the minutes for meetings is taking up a lot of my time that I need to spend doing this. Is it possible that the admin come in to do this?’

      1. fposte*

        Agreed here. This is a good arrangement for them, so they’re not going to change it unless you ask them to. Is there a pay differential that would help you make this point? “Given the difference in the hourly rate, you’re paying xx more per meeting just to have me take notes intead of somebody else.”

      2. Mockingjay*

        The boss originally wanted me as the Admin Assistant. I am not trained for that, nor am I interested in organizing his life. I have been doing systems engineering and software development documents for nearly 20 years – the tech side is my true love. Boss is hot-tempered; when I initially requested that I be returned to the technical assignments, he accused me of not being a team player and threatened to throw me off the project. (Very mature.)

        He has since realized that the quality of documentation is falling considerably, and is starting realize, that gee, maybe I should return to the job for which I was hired. The new Admin is being trained (I’ve worked with her considerably – I like her and she’s smart), and is starting to pick up more of the meetings.

        Unfortunately, the rest of the staff still views me as Admin, so I have to deal with them as well. There is an underlying issue that I am female and the other tech writer is male. He is NOT asked to do these things.

        1. Anna*

          Then that’s your opening. “I’m concerned that I’m asked to do these things when Male Human Tech Person is not. Is there a way we can more evenly divide up these minute-taking duties?” I would think most people will get the message pretty clearly.

          1. Cath in Canada*

            I agree. Or maybe even proactively come up with a schedule, listing who’s going to take minutes at each meeting, and present it to the boss as “I need to spend more time on the work I was originally hired to do, so here’s my proposal for how to share the more admin-type tasks more equitably”. If you get pushback about “but but but, Technical Writer!, just restate your own title.

            I sympathise, OP. I know minutes are important, and I take pride in doing them well, but it’s not a task I ever actually look forward to…

        2. LisaLee*

          For the rest of the staff, could you start redirecting their admin needs to the actual admin without getting much grief for it? If someone asks you to do a thing that is actually the new admin’s job, you could try, “Oh, I’m actually working on [real duties] right now. I was happy to fill in while we were in the process of hiring Lucinda, but that is really her area now.” You might also try repeating the “I was happy to do this TEMPORARILY” line with your boss if you think he’d respond well (or at least not incredibly poorly) to it.

          Are you very close with the other tech writer? Could you ask him to volunteer to take the minutes one meeting? At the very least, this will give you a break, and if your boss says, “I hired Male Writer to be a tech writer” you can point out he hired you for that too.

        3. AnotherFed*

          Time for a new job – I know we’d pretty much kill for people who like to write software and SE docs where I work. This is especially true for people who have the technical background that means they’re able to write up the documentation based on conversations, meetings, and playing with the software rather than needing one of the devs to pretty much write it for them.

    3. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I’m very lucky to have a great client. In fact, I worked directly with the lead in another capacity, not as a contractor to them. But this isn’t that unusual in Government contracting, probably because they feel threatened by contractors, some of whom could do their jobs and are being paid significantly less.

      I know there are many hard-working, brilliant Feds out there, I have worked with many of them. But in my experience, those with this kind of attitude usually don’t deserve those modifiers.

      All I can say is that it’s not right, but it’s also not uncommon, so just think of them as bad customers whose business you need in order to keep the lights on, and start looking at either other contracts or other consulting companies, because they’re not all like this. Not by a long shot.

    4. Kai*

      My manager does that “did you catch that?” thing to me all the time, and it drives me up a wall. I completely sympathize. Like, yes, I was brought in here specifically to take notes, and you can see me typing on my tablet/writing in my notebook.

    5. Technical Editor*

      I feel you on this. I used to work for state government doing technical writing, and I was also asked to do minutes. My boss was a male chauvinist and took it as a sign of manliness to demean women. I’m a confident person so I didn’t have any problem asserting myself in a room, speaking up, or calling my boss out. In fact, when I called him on his behavior, he respected me a little more.

      The next time they pass you on introductions, go ahead and do it anyway? You’ll keep being invisible if you let them think you are. Also, sit at the table, and not in the corner, if they can.

      1. Jen RO*

        Very vaguely related, I hope your job is as cool as it sounds on your LinkedIn profile! I wish I could be a technical editor full-time – the lack of consistency in our technical documentation drives me up the wall, but I simply don’t have time to handle everything. (I’m a tech writer in a country where the field is tiny, I only know of one or two companies that have technical editors, and I am sure my job would be the first on the line if I did get hired as a technical editor… but damn does it sound good.)

    6. Rat Racer*

      Hi MockingJay – that is awful. I just posted something below about how I am a terrible note-taker, and based on your post, I am starting to think that it takes a certain kind of intelligence to be able to capture a meeting accurately and succinctly. Most people can transcribe a conversation but it’s much, much harder to sift through and filter out the waffling and tangents and record just the important key points that will be relevant for everyone around the table.

      From my perspective there are two problems here: 1) you’re being asked to take notes all day which is totally boring and yuck who wants that job? and 2) you’re really good at taking notes, which is a highly valuable skill that is being totally under-valued and you’re being treated disrespectfully.

      To me, it sounds like #1 is the bigger problem and #2 just pours salt into your wounds. Is there a way to talk to your boss about expanding your roles and responsibilities? What projects would you like to be working on instead? If I had someone like you on my team, I would be so worried about losing you that I would make sure you had interesting work to do AND have you train others in the department on taking good notes in meetings.

      Goes without saying that people should be nicer and respectful in meetings, and think about what creek they would be up if they didn’t have you there to sift through all the chit-chat.

    7. Althea*

      I’m not sure this is a time for acting 100% professional. These are bullies, and they are bonding with each other through shared laughter – laughter aimed at you and elicited by bullying. I honestly do not believe that bullies understand any communication not related to this sort of dominance/bullying.

      The number one tactic to defeat this is to be funnier than they are. If you can do this in a nice way, it’s best, but even in a mean way can work. The goal is to turn their laughter around to laughing with you, and making them admire you aplomb and wit. Then you are part of the group, and you can generally revert to being nicer and more professional.

      Unfortunately, I, like most people, do not have the talent for being funny on the fly like that. Even when I manage it, I’m usually sarcastic and mean, and the person I am talking about is pretty unhappy even if everyone else laughs – making an enemy there.

      So the other thing to try is to play dumb and take everything literally. Like someone said, reading out the minutes when they ask “did you catch that?” or replying calmly, “I have omitted it.” The object of this is to make their jokes so boring they are no longer funny. This will likely cause them to stop, though you have to be on the lookout for them finding another “joke” to take out on you.

      Finally, you could try to get to know them individually and see if you can become buddies with a few. (They sound like jerks, so this may not be palatable.) Or do some of them a favor that only you could deliver. But if one or two of them come to like and/or respect you, they’ll probably cool it with the snark and refrain from the snickers, again making the “joke” go over like a lead balloon.

      I hope it helps! Sorry you have to deal with this middle school BS.

      1. MommaTRex*

        Actually, it might be better to find a way to have one of them do a favor for her. It sounds backwards, but it can really work – the psychology behind it is that the person doing the favor has to reconcile why they did that favor for the other person: “Since I did this for favor for them, it must be because I admire and respect them.” Ben Franklin used this tactic to win over a former rival; he asked to borrow a book from him and the whole relationship changed. Maybe I’ll try to dig up a reference to that story somewhere.

        1. Althea*

          That’s interesting! I’ve never heard that before. I suppose the big question is how to get them to do the favor…

          1. fposte*

            You just ask them. Make it something small that they’re not likely to mind doing and that you know they can do. “Hey, Dick, do you still have that ethernet cable in your office? Could I borrow it from you? The wifi in my office is being wonky.”

            1. College Career Counselor*

              Of course, you’ll have to keep a certain verbal emphasis off the name in your example. ;-)

              1. fposte*

                I should have lower-cased it to make it clear that would work as the address for any of them.

    8. puddin*

      Like much of AAM advice says, it is time to speak up. When the snide comments begin, “I’m sorry I don’t think we have time for this.” And like Future Analyst says jump in an introduce yourself to the conference call – every time its needed. Not only is it rude to you when you are not announced, it is rude to the people on the phone who should be made aware of all the participants.

      Finally, my thoughts on why the snark is occurring…It seems they do not value the skills you provide or the task you are performing. What I imagine them sarcastically saying is “Wow those meeting minutes are important har har derp.” My guess is they don’t value them or they value them less than you or your boss, therefore they do not value/minimize you.

      I would call your own meeting with the offenders and point blank ask them if they have a problem with how the minutes are written or distributed or ??? And tell them WHY you are asking this question – you get the distinct impression from the in-meeting banter that your contributions – the minutes – are not that important. If they answer that the minutes are useless or not as useful as they could be, investigate with them on how to make it better. Whatever their response, you have said your peace, counted to three, and hopefully have explained to them the effect of their behavior.

      I would avoid calling them snarky or opening up about how you feel about anything in this case. Take a professional problem-solving approach. “How might we make the meeting minutes most useful to you?”

      If after all of this continues, next time it happens, I would scowl and say, “Knock it off.” But that might not be the best advice, most likely that’s what I would do though.

      1. Althea*

        I think this kind of direct talk will only elicit worse behavior. In the meeting itself, they will pretend they are not snarky, and that their comments about the minutes are sincere concern about their quality. They will then take you less seriously for not understanding that they are making fun of you, and their bad behavior will get worse. Acting irritated/angry will encourage them and they will find it even funnier.

    9. the_scientist*

      Ugh, The Worst. I’d say this is like 75% of the reason I left my first post-grad-school job. You are correct that you will need to find a new job, because once people start seeing you as “the minute taker”/admin assistant, they will not change that perception, no matter how often you remind them of your actual title. At old job, I was introduced during a phone meeting as the “program admin assistant” by one of our leads; my actual title was research associate. NOT THE SAME.

      My experience is that I cannot take minutes and also participate meaningfully in a meeting. Do you think you could go to your boss with concerns that you aren’t able to fully contribute while also taking minutes and that it’s critical that you are able to participate in the meetings so could actual admin assistant please do the minutes? Perhaps you could even propose a rotating minute-taker (I don’t for one second think your boss will be okay with this, but maybe he’s enough of a jerk to imply that note-taking is “women’s work” and you can call him on that).

      Also, during phone meetings? Interrupt and introduce yourself. Yes, it’s rude, but it’s ruder for you to be left out. Be sure to also introduce yourself with your actual title, so the implication is “is here to contribute to meeting” vs. “is the assistant who is here to take minutes”. But yeah, you’ll need to leave to fix this problem.

    10. Christy*

      What these people are saying doesn’t sound too different from what I hear when I take meeting minutes. (The tone sounds really different so I’m not saying we’re in the same situation, at all.) Sometimes I internally roll my eyes at “Don’t write that down”, but what I usually do is raise my hands up (like I’ve been caught red-handed) and smile/laugh and say “Don’t worry”. Basically, I treat it like they’re joking with me instead of joking at me. (And often, they are joking with me, so it’s not an issue like it is for you.) But could you pretend they’re joking with you? They’ll also ask me to make sure I have something and I’ll either say “yeah, I got that” or something like “What, you still don’t trust me?” or “No faith!” while smiling.

    11. The IT Manager*

      Hmmm … can you take this up with your contract boss? It sound like the contract admin assistants didn’t do a good enough job taking minutes to the govt boss asked for someone better – you – to do it. It’s in the govt’s right to ask, but for most contracts the vendor has to deliver the deliverable and the government doesn’t tell them how or who does it. That’s up to the contract company. So it’s up to your contract boss to fix that part of the problem.

      Is it possible for you to give your boss a heads up that you’re so unhappy with the situation that you’re job hunting? So he knows if he wants to keep you he has to reduce the meeting minutes you take and let you get back to tech writing.

    12. waffles*

      Hi Mockingjay. I’m a public sector technical writer, and my co-worker and I were recently asked to take non-technical meeting notes for a director-level meeting. The director has an administrative assistant who currently completes this task, but the director feels we would do a much better job.

      We declined with full support from our boss. As a way to be helpful, I offered to meet with the admin assistant and help her come up with a new template for the meeting notes. I also feel like her boss should be more supportive of her and help her to develop her skills if needed instead of giving her responsibilities away.

      I’ve heard from other writers that this is a common problem in this field. Some orgs understand that this is a professional field; others see us as “people who type and make things look pretty.” (If I had a nickel for every time someone asked me to “spiff this up”…)

      Are you an STC member? I’m a member of one of the special interest groups, and we recently had a group discussion about this very topic. Some writers are ok with taking notes, others would prefer not to but do it anyway, and others just say no.

      I’m so sorry that you’re overlooked in your meetings–that’s not ok! That must be disheartening, especially when you’re doing a great deal of good work for this team. Is there anyone you can talk to about this on your team? Who do you report to, and could you find some support there?

      For starters, could you simply ask to be included in the round of introductions? Would you feel comfortable with a short, friendly, matter-of-fact request, something like, “Joe, when we meet on Tuesday, could you please include me in the introductions? I feel it’s helpful for our clients to know who is in attendance.”

      Also, can you open an conversation about moving back to producing deliverables?

      Good luck.

      1. Mockingjay*

        Thanks, Waffles. Unfortunately, my company boss is out of state. I work for a small company with not a lot of defense contracting experience. I am not a current member of STC, but do belong to several other tech writing orgs.

        I am an old-school technical writer. I was trained 30 years ago when technical writers were engineers and technicians with good writing skills, and persons without that background could only be classified as editors. (Contracts were very clear about the distinction.) I worked very hard to attain technical qualifications: I crafted my degree to suit – English with a minor in hard sciences and mathematics, spent endless hours in the field side by side with the technicians, took endless classes and certs, and so on. In fact, my labor category on the contract is Subject Matter Expert, the same as most of the engineers. (Note: I have 20 years’ experience total – career took a pause for my wonderful girls.)

        I noticed a shift in attitude about 6 or 7 years ago. With budget cuts, contracts eliminated a lot of admin positions and simply dumped the duties on the technical writers. Nothing against administrative personnel; as I stated earlier, I am not trained to be one. I also think tech writing has become a fad career. I’ve met a lot of people who told me, “I’m going to be a tech writer because I have good English skills and it’s good money” and then are overwhelmed because they literally do not understand the information in the document. I think my government boss’s expectations were tainted by prior writers on the contract who fell into that group. He looked at me one day and told me I had no technical background. Did he not remember reading my resume?

        1. waffles*

          That is indeed a wealth of solid experience. I hope you find a job that is a better fit soon–any place would be lucky to have you!

          I understand what you’re saying about the change in the field. I also think it’s just always going to be one of those professions that is undervalued and misunderstood. I’m super introverted and shy, and I find it challenging that part of my job is to sell myself, explain my value, and explain the technical communication body of knowledge. But, I love this field and so it’s worth it to me.

          I have an English degree too, but I fell into the IT world and worked as a systems admin for about 10 years. I then went back to school and got a certificate in technical writing. I hated IT, but I’m also very, very grateful for that experience. My current manager told me he hired me because of it. The right people will value your background. It sounds like you’re in the wrong place.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          I think you should use the meaty part of your second paragraph to introduce yourself. I think it would make most people think before they speak to you.

        3. AnotherFed*

          I think at least in many places, lots of new grads are getting picked up for entry level roles called technical editors or technical writers. In most cases, they are just doing formatting and normal editing, without having any technical background.

          The true technical writing that you are talking about is either falling to the engineers themselves, or getting called Systems Engineering. SE is bigger than just this piece, but I see a lot of SEs who just focus on developing documents – generating the technical content and expressing it clearly enough that the intended audience knows what they are supposed to do, whether it’s building something according to an assembly document, coding software to match proposed GUI mock ups, or writing an interface document that actually makes sense.

    13. A Teacher*

      Use the good old Carolyn Hax “Wow” (I know Alison is a big Hax fan) when they make the comment, or directly call them on it with “Did you have a comment?” or “What was that?” or even “Excuse me?” I find that seems to work with high school kids that I teach. The “wow” in stunned silence often works better… calls them on being an ass without actually saying they’re an ass.

    14. Mockingjay*

      General thanks to everyone who has responded today. I knew I would get some helpful feedback (and some nice soothing sympathies!) from the AAM family!

    15. Mabel*

      Regarding the snarky requests for confirmation that you included something in the minutes: instead of reading it back to them, could you just say, “yes, I have that”? It just makes me so angry on your behalf that you have to respond to these jerks, so my inclination is to respond as briefly as possible (since they already know you DID take the appropriate notes because you ALWAYS do).

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I am bothered by the snark, too. Watch to see how they speak to each other, it could be that they are doing this to each other, also. This is important to know.

        I think what I would do is say, “Have I failed you, yet?”, in a soft tone but with a look on my face that says I know I have not failed them.

        Conversely, some people just let anything they think of fall out of their mouths. So this could be what is going on. It’s nice to have some professional ideal to subscribe to, but if that ideal behavior/communication does not reach the person talking at you, then it is not much good.
        I am fan of matching what comes at me. There is a person that will say to me, “Did you get THAT done, YET?” I will say, “Are YOU back again? Keep coming back and it will never get done because of all interruptions.” But people with a softer approach get a softer answer. “I will be done later today and I will come find you when it I have it ready.”

        In a group like this they could be encouraging each other by actions and that perpetuates the remarks. I’d pick the loudest/biggest offender and say something. “Yes, I have that Bob. No worries, I will ask people to repeat something if I need it.” OR If I am really fed up, “Yes, I have that Bob. Have I failed you guys yet??” (I say things like this when I know I have nailed the task/job.)

        The problem with silence is that people read silence as “it’s okay, keep doing x or y”. So your silence may feel professional to you, but they do not understand that your silence means they are ticking you off.

    16. Mz. Puppie*

      Mockingjay, if you are a contractor to government, then your company and you are being paid to deliver very specific things. Your supervisor at the contracting company should take up the mantle for you to stop doing anything that is not contracted for.

      I came into a contractor-t0-government job 6 months ago, and immediately offloaded all the crap work by going to my boss and pointing out that none of this work is in our contract. In fact, other contractors on-site were ostensibly being paid to do that exact work and had been getting away with neglecting it. My supervisor immediately pulled me from all that out of scope scut work. It was hard on the government folks who had to learn a new way of doing things, but I just explained (repeatedly) that these tasks are out of scope for me, and they need to instead contact XYZ.

      If meeting minutes are not in the contract with your company, then you shouldn’t be doing them. Period.

  3. BRR*

    I’m currently job hunting and having a little trouble with references. I have two former managers who will provide outstanding references. I’m having trouble coming up with a third. I can’t think of anybody who can attest to the quality of my work who I would feel comfortable asking and who I could ask without revealing that I am looking. I know the usual alternatives to a manager but I’m coming up dry (no people who have seen a lot of my work, not even a former professor). This is killing me with ATS where I’m required to put three references in. Any suggestions?

    1. Sunflower*

      I’m not sure what you do but what about a coworker or other person you work with? I work with a lot of vendors and use one of them a reference.

    2. Delyssia*

      I sympathize, as I remember the “struggling to find enough references” stage of my career all too well.

      I recommend trying to think of *everyone* you have worked with who has any idea of the quality of your work. Even if that’s just for a single project you worked on together. Colleagues can work as references, especially if you have a colleague who trained you or who was team lead for a project, but even one you’ve collaborated with or who otherwise can speak to your work. Think about internal and external clients, or even vendors. Are there managers who you’ve helped out on a specific project or something outside of your usual scope?

    3. Retail Lifer*

      I have several previous bosses who have said they would give me a reference but then never returned calls from reference checkers when needed. I substituted a couple of former co-workers and they were happy to do it for me…and actually DID return the calls. Co-workers often know what you’re doing better than a manager does anyway.

    4. Nanc*

      Do you have any volunteer experience? Maybe someone from that organization would serve as a reference. Even if it’s walking dogs for the shelter or taking tickets for a non-profit theater, they could at least confirm you show up on time, are appropriately dressed and groomed and the dogs/patrons love you.

    5. KJR*

      As someone who does the hiring (and therefore the reference checking) for my company, I can offer a perspective from the other side. This is not all that uncommon, so I would do as other commenters have recommended and find former co-workers or vendors/customers who could also speak to your previous performance. Generally speaking I am comfortable with this approach. Especially if all three of them are great ones, and are willing to speak to me in depth.

    6. Oldblue*

      I have this same issue with references…. I have two outstanding references, then I asked two professors of mine to be references and they said yes, but one lives out of town and the other is retiring…. I had to find a third reference, another professor. Finding references is VERY hard. The only thing I can suggest for you is, if you are younger and don’t mind, and it relates to work, take a summer class then use that professor as your reference. OR volunteer somewhere and use the supervisor as your reference.

      I know that some places are very strict about references, such as, NO CO-WORKERS, ONLY SUPERVISORS….. It’s so hard especially when you re starting out.

    7. Meg Murry*

      Anyone from your current job that has moved on, that you could trust not to tell your current co-workers? It doesn’t even need to be someone you did a lot of work with – if you did one project together, and did a good job on that, it could be enough. If you have 2 supervisors, I think a co-worker would be good enough for a third.

        1. MommaTRex*

          I recently gave a reference for a former co-worker. We only worked together on a few things, but I was able to give such detailed information and specific feedback on her work on those items that I think it made an excellent impression. Well, she was offered the job, anyway, so I’ll take some credit for my reference!

        2. Not So NewReader*

          Maybe she is looking for a third reference, too, and you could help each other. Or maybe you can find some thoughtful gesture to say/do in return for her willingness to help you.

    8. Lily in NYC*

      Does it have to be someone who managed you? What about a high-level person whom you didn’t report to but that you worked with and can vouch for you? I needed a fast reference once and my best reference was trekking in Tibet and reachable. I asked the managing editor (it was a magazine) if he would be willing to cover for her in a pinch and he was so great about it.

      1. Koko*

        I do this to round out my references. I try to have at least 2 supervisors because you don’t want to raise the question, “Why is she ONLY offering peers?” but I think in a lot of ways a high-level peer from a recent job can provide more valuable information than a supervisor from a much older job (especially if you’ve stayed a few years at each post, the supervisor from three jobs prior to your current one could be decade out of date).

        There’s also definitely a different dynamic when you’re a department head offering the head of another department as your peer reference than when you’re a customer service rep offering another customer service rep as a peer reference. There’s less expectation that you’ve banded together in solidarity and in opposition to your manager when you’re independently operating peers than when you’re members of the same team.

      2. BRR*

        It does not have to be somebody who managed me. This is my normal suggestion to others, high-level people who I have done work for. But there’s only one and it’s a stretch.

    9. Anx*

      This can be frustrating. I am torn between trying to narrow my focus with my volunteer work and really commit to what I am doing and diversifying my reference pool. I hate, hate, hate asking people to do these references, to the point where I have a hard time applying for jobs, as I don’t want to ‘waste’ a reference request. Also, several of my references haven’t worked with me for years. Long term unemployment is tricky like that.

      I am sure most employers would prefer a candidate focus on specific missions or goals, but the actually application process doesn’t really reflect that.

  4. Sunflower*

    I have a question about getting and keeping in touch when HR seems disconnected.

    My current job title is a planner. I applied for 2 jobs at the same company(a big company, Fortune 100) a couple months ago- one was a coordinator and one manager because my experience puts me right in the middle. These roles pop up as the company gains clients or their clients give them more business. I was contacted about the coordinator role by an internal recruiter and interviewed with the HM about 2 months ago but never heard back. This week a different internal recruiter contacted me but the recruiter didn’t know whether the HM(same one as before) wanted to talk to me about the manager or coordinator role. Interviewed with same HM and she said she was only filling the coordinator role then mentioned a different recruiter might be in touch with me about a planner role which falls in the middle of a coordinator and manager. She explained to me how the coordinator and planner role relate and it definitely sounds like I’d be more interested in the planner role.

    So 1. This HR process is kind of confusing. Is this normal? and 2. Should I email the recruiter who most recently contracted me and ask about the planner role or does that look bad? I’ve never dealt with a company who has so many different recruiters in the mix!

    1. TootsNYC*

      Yep, email the recruiter for the other job. In fact, point out to them that the Hiring Manager suggested you apply for it, and that she told you he (the recruiter) was the who was handling it; that’ll help move you to the top. I’m sure they won’t think it’s weird for you to specifically say, “I am very interested in that position, and I would like to be considered.” The Hiring Manager may be looking for that expression of interest from you; everybody will say, in an interview, “yes I’m interested,” but she is likely “qualifying the buyer” by looking for that initiative from you.

      It *is* weird to have more than one recruiter working for the same hiring manager. It’s not just you. But maybe it’s some sort of “I hire at this pay-grade level” thing.

      1. MsChnandlerBong*

        That’s what we did when I worked for a hospital that was part of a large healthcare system.

        Lucinda recruited nurses; Esmeralda recruited for high-level positions, such as department managers/directors, physician assistants, and nurse practitioners; Wakeen recruited for hourly clinical positions that tended to pay very little (medical assistants, phlebotomists, certified nursing assistants); and Becky recruited for clerical positions.

        The director of a particular unit might work with Lucinda to find a new nurse, Wakeen to find a nursing assistant, and Becky to find a unit secretary.

  5. New Job Overdressed?*

    I’m about to start a new job at a tech company (not a startup). The company has no dress code and everyone dresses very casually (shorts, flip flops, sweatpants, jeans are all fine). Would dressing more formally be an issue? I wouldn’t wear a suit to work or anything, but a nice dress, occasionally heels. I want to fit in with my coworkers, but the idea of dressing casually everyday just doesn’t thrill me. Any opinions?

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I think you should hold off for the first couple of weeks and get the lay of the land. At some places, dressing more formally is very noticed and even looked down upon– at others, it’s more about individual style.

      Since it’s almost summer (and already in the 80s here), you should be able to get away with summer skirts, dresses, and sandals, which are casual but still somewhat more dressy. I’d recommend going that route first as you figure out the office culture.

    2. AdAgencyChick*

      I think it’s probably fine. I work in a pretty casual industry but there are a few dandies here and there who like to wear sport coats and dress pants or a nice dress. Maybe it’s because advertising is supposed to be a creative field and therefore open to various forms of self-expression (because hair dye in all colors of the rainbow is OK for most of us, too), but no one seems to bat an eyelash as long as you’re consistent about your choices. (If you’re ALWAYS casual and suddenly start showing up in a more put-together look, then everyone will assume you’re interviewing. But if you show up looking spiffy once a week, it doesn’t attract attention.)

      Might be a bit different in tech but I have a feeling startup culture would allow for a bit of personal style in that way as well.

    3. Dawn*

      I say bump it up one level above everyone else, but don’t go higher than two levels. What I mean is if “normal” attire is jeans and flip flops, wear relaxed slacks and dressier shoes. If the dress code is as relaxed as you say, it’s going to look really, really, really weird for you to dress nicer than everyone else, DOUBLY so if you’re at a startup. Startups have completely different cultures than established offices and often actively rebel against “typical” professional office stuff like dress code, office hours, not having a beer cart, etc etc. Express your personal style however you see fit and dress however you will be comfortable, but don’t dress in a way that alienates your peers or makes it seem like you think you’re better than they are because you don’t wear sweatpants every day.

    4. Future Analyst*

      I think nice dresses would be fine (especially during the summer), but be careful about heels. They really kick up the dressiness (??) of an outfit, which may look out of touch with your environment. I think the balance here is to find the outer edge of what’s considered okay, and stick to that (so nice jeans with heels and a blouse, as opposed to a nice dress with heels). And congrats on the new job!

    5. Kyrielle*

      I’m about to switch companies, and I don’t normally do dress/heels, but I seldom wear jeans or shorts and they do all the time. I plan to use business-casual and casual slacks, and just go with my standard (and, as it happens, truthful) comment: “I know, but I don’t have much luck finding a pair of jeans that’s comfortable.” And then dress it down with the shirts if I need to – a t-shirt (even with no writing on it) will do a number on it.

      Do get the lay of the land before going wildly against style, but honestly, I think most places will be fine with it as long as it comes off as “Oh, that’s just what Kyrielle likes” and not “Yeah, Kyrielle thinks she’s better than us” – the other reason getting the lay of the land is good is, it lets them get to know you as a person, and lets you set the stage that you are not thinking yourself above them, you just like to dress up a a bit sometimes.

    6. Sparrow*

      Since it’s summer, I think dresses are fine. I rarely wear shorts, but I have a range of dressy to more casual dresses – depending on the material. You could wear casual dresses with sandals and a cardigan if it gets cold. In colder weather, I would stick to nice jeans, like a dark rinse with knit tops and cardigans. Also, if there is no dress code, and you’re so inclined, maybe you can experiment with different trends or types of clothing that might not always work in a more conservative office.

    7. SLG*

      I work at a tech company with a casual dress code (although engineers tend to dress more causally, and sales/client-facing folks more formally). I like to dress more formally, so here’s what I’ve found that works: combine one casual piece with one nicer piece. For instance: pencil skirt with t-shirt from technical conference, jeans with silk top. One bonus is I can enjoy wearing more-formal stuff without having to buy as much of it.

    8. Colette*

      Would you dress casually some days (say twice a week)?

      I do t think y,oh want to be the person who always dresses more formally, but you should be fine dressing more formally some of the time.

    9. Natalie*

      The style of the pieces matters more than their category, IMO. It sounds like a sheath dress, blazer and classic pumps would be a little too formal in your office, but a casual dress and more fun shoes (even if they were heals) would probably be fine.

      Another good trick (with pants) is to put together a business casual wardrobe, but just replace the dress pants with dressy jeans. You will look appropriately casual because of the jeans, but still fairly professional.

      1. Koko*

        Spot on. You can go a bit dressier, just not so much that it’s really jarring. A lot of workplace don’t allow open-toed shoes, but if this one has people wearing flip-flops then a sandal heel can be a great choice if you want to get some of that height without making the look as formal.

    10. Allison*

      I get it, I work in an office where jeans, nice tops, and either sneakers or nice shoes are the norm for most women, and guys wear nice jeans with button-downs. I’m flip-flops and sundresses these days. I, on the other hand, get a little more dressed up, sporting Mad Men inspired clothing and stuff from ModCloth, and no one seems to have an issue with it. Just don’t dress too many levels above most people. Being yourself is fine, but looking like a corporate drone might send the wrong message.

      Have you considered using accessories to “dress down” the dresses you’d like to wear. Sometimes the right shoes, cardigan, or necklace can make a huge difference.

      1. New Job Overdressed?*

        I don’t think I’ll look like a corporate drone, I’m just more into fashion than average.

    11. Sunshine Brite*

      I always feel like there’s someone at work who’s clearly into fashion even if it’s not the norm and feel more at home dressed up. I don’t think it would be an issue especially since with the more casual environment you can use the colors/patterns that fit you best and show personality.

    12. CheeryO*

      I agree that you should be careful about going two levels of formality above everyone else. At my job, jeans, sneakers, and a button down or polo are the norm for men, but we have a few guys who prefer to wear dress pants and nicer shoes. No one ever seems to talk about it, but I’ve heard plenty of snarky comments about the (very nice, very competent) dude who comes in wearing ties and sweater vests, looking like he’s straight out of a J. Crew catalogue.

      I do think women have more leeway on stuff like this. At least in my experience, as long as you’re not wearing a cocktail dress or a full suit, people are more likely to attribute your wardrobe choices to your ~personal style~ without giving it a lot of thought.

    13. TootsNYC*

      If you really want to dress up, I’d suggest you start some sort of “Oh, I always dress up on Mondays; it’s a thing with me” tradition of your own. Then you can do the heels, silk shirt, etc., thing, but not that often, and it also looks like a quirkiness thing.
      I did that in college; I looked in my closet and thought, “I have these nice clothes from my summer office job, but I never get to wear them! And I’m sick of these jeans.” So I dressed up. And someone snarkily asked me, “why are -you- all dressed up?” So I quipped back, without thinking, “I always dress up on Mondays.” Really? he said. “Yes, really,” and then I just always did it. It was fun, actually, to “have to” put on a skirt, blouse, heels on Mondays.

      Would be a bummer to have a wardrobe full of expensive clothes that you never get to wear anymore. And if you have to buy other clothes to replace them.

      1. onnellinen*

        That is great! My previous job was at a non-profit with a very casual dress code, as well. A few of us had more formal work clothes from previous jobs that we hardly wore, so we “instituted” Formal Fridays. It was just a small group of us, but it was kind of fun to have a day to dress up a bit.

    14. Anony-moose*

      I work at a nonprofit that is VERY relaxed. If you aren’t in a meeting, you’re wearing jeans, sneakers, a tshirt. While I try to take it up a notch with say, jeans and a blazer, I never really dress up unless I have a meeting.

      We had a team member who ALWAYS looked amazing. Pencil skirts, blouses, heels. Perfect hair, great jewelry. Fashion was important to her. And we all loved it. She became known as the fashionable one in the office and men and women alike came to her for fashion advice. So I think dressing up can work if you know your environment.

      1. New Job Overdressed?*

        I was the fashionable one at my last job. But my last job wasn’t in tech. Hopefully it will fly in my new office.

    15. Rat Racer*

      Is this tech company in California? If so, no one will care what you wear. Dress codes seem to have disappeared in San Francisco (which is kind of cool). If you walk into a fancy restaurant you will see women in evening gowns and women in jeans/tee-shirts.

      If you had a job where you actually needed to be casual (like a summer camp, or working as a personal trainer) that would be a different story. But I find it hard to imagine that anyone in their right mind would care if someone in the office wants to wear dresses and heels while they wear sneakers and sweats!

      Full disclosure: I work from home where no one sees me, and some days, I put on dresses and heels just because I’m sick of wearing pajamas. And on other days I wear pajamas.

    16. Artemesia*

      I have a relative interviewing in this industry. He interviews in a nice shirt and pants. He tells me that showing up in a suit would be entirely out of place and he has the big time job offers to suggest he isn’t wrong. I think I would dress conservatively but casually for awhile and check things out. Being the woman who wears cute casual dresses rather than flip flops and cut offs might work fine — but heels and dressier than casual skirts and tops or casual dresses might be out of place. There is a fine line between establishing a style, that is perhaps less sloppy than the norm and dressing up in a way that makes you look like you don’t ‘get it.’

  6. Sharon*

    Just need to vent. Lately I keep getting lots of really super bizarre questions from both external customers and internal coworkers. I’m pretty sure I’ve fallen down the rabbit hole and am about to meet the Mad Hatter.

    1. Jennifer*

      Sounds like my job. We are apparently the catchall, know everything answer everything no matter what it is office.

    2. Happy Lurker*

      It’s a party! Just waiting for the fun to start!
      But really, sorry to hear that and hope it gets better. Personally, I think that everyone is so busy they don’t read communications completely and then do as little as possible to get through the day.
      I repeat Hanlon’s Razor (which I found on AAM) often.

    3. Serin*

      I used to answer the phones for a state government’s forestry division. They got so many oddball questions that they actually had a designated Stupid Question Answering position, which rotated among the dozen or so forestry officers who worked in that office.

      At the front desk, we had a chart that told who was Staff Duty Officer that week, and I always knew that if I got a phone call that began, “I got this tree — well, really it ain’t my tree, it’s my neighbor’s tree –” it needed to go directly to the Staff Duty Officer (as soon as I could get a word in edgewise).

      1. CheeryO*

        OMG, I’m in a similar field, and I love hearing about all the weird questions that come in. People calling to report squirrels in their backyard, people asking what to do with the raccoon that they just shot, people mistaking super common, small birds for eagles or falcons… I know that not everyone needs to be a nature expert, but c’mon!

    4. Clever Name*

      So, can you share any of them? Anonomyzed, of course. Sometime the only thing that gets me through trying times is thinking about what a funny story it will be later.

  7. KJR*

    Anyone willing to share your progressive discipline policy? I’ve seen some that include suspension, some don’t, some included a PIP, some are just a final warning. Just looking to see what else is out there. Thanks!

      1. fposte*

        I don’t know anything about suspensions–how do they work? Are they for a standardized time? And do the coworkers who have to cover that position during the suspension get told why?

        1. Joey*

          You go home with no pay for however long I decide the suspension should be. Exempts are done in weeklong increments usually for FLSA purposes (although they do allow some exceptions). Obviously the length of the suspension is determined by severity/truthfullness/business impact. Sometimes if you can’t afford to go without pay I’ll let you give up leave instead.

          1. Joey*

            Oh. Co workers have no idea it’s a suspension unless the employee tells them. For all they know it’s scheduled leave

        2. KJR*

          The suspensions are where I am struggling…we’ve never actually used it, but it’s in the handbook. So I’m trying to decide its usefulness. I’m toying with the idea of throwing it out, and just doing verbal, written, final written/PIP, term. Any thoughts would be appreciated!

          1. Not So NewReader*

            I think the punishment should fit the crime. My husband was suspended once for Minor Thing and his supervisor yelled at the boss, “What did you do that for, now he is using his week off to job hunt.” (Yep, and found a new job.) Very seldom does removing the person from the situation help to fix the person’s situation. They are not going to learn to do a better job/be more careful/ etc by sitting at home. They will only learn that by staying IN the work environment. In my husband’s case, the boss lost a valuable person that basically did a great job but apparently only the supervisor was aware of this. Later, the supervisor quit, too.
            I feel that suspensions should be very rare, for example, if a person’s carelessness causes injury/damage– those extreme type of situations.

    1. Retail Lifer*

      Verbal warning, two write-ups (the second is a final warning), you’re fired on the third. It doesn’t even have to be three offenses of the same nature.

      We’ll do a PIP in conjuction with a first write-up if the situation warrants it.

      Severe insubordination, violence, or major cash discrepancies might jump to a final warning without any priors.

        1. Retail Lifer*

          We had a guy get in a female manager’s face, raise his hand, and he was only stopped by security. He was sent home for the day and still had a job the next day. So yes, probably.

          1. ExceptionToTheRule*

            I’ve had co-workers throw furniture and not even get sent home for the day.

            1. Joey*

              Ive fired folks for just saying “let’s take it outside” or “you better watch your back”.

              1. Retail Lifer*

                I wish you worked here. We tolerate threats of violence, sexual harassment, and OSHA violations. God forbid you post something vague and semi-negative about the company on Facebook, though. Someone came REALLY close to being fired for that.

      1. A*

        why weird?
        We use it as a “take some time off and think about whether you can live by these rules/standard?”. When they come back we make them demonstrate they understand the problem and commit to fixing/changing it.

        If they don’t agree to change we consider it a quit (less UE exposure).
        If they agree we have a written committment that the employee understood, committed to changing, and understood the consequences.

        It avoids the whole I was trying my hardest/I didn’t understand/it wasn’t my fault stuff

        1. Steve G*

          My sister was suspended for a week in the mental health industry this winter when one of the patients snuck out of her classroom and ate food from the fridge. The rationale for the suspension was to give time to do the investigation for what happened (even though the investigation should have taken 2 minutes, which is why a suspension was pretty…useless).

          As it turns out, the fridge was supposed to be locked by someone else, so they were at fault. The facility took this seriously because patients are on special diets + they took it as a sign that she can’t handle a classroom (she says another patient was having a tantrum when that one snuck out).

          1. afiendishthingy*

            was this paid or unpaid suspension? I worked at a school for adolescents with developmental disabilities and any time Dept of Children & Families had to investigate a situation the staff involved would be suspended with pay while they investigated. I am not positive but I was under the impression my state required this.

            1. Steve G*

              It ended up being paid, but they didn’t tell her until after she was “allowed” to go back to work. The suspension was immediate, but they had to meet to tell her when she could come back and if she was going to get paid, so even though it was a week off, it definitely wasn’t a vacation, especially because people in that income bracket can’t swing an unpaid week, even when it’s planned. I felt bad. The suspension didn’t really teach anyone anything except that my sister needs to get a new job, and s*** is going to keep happening as long as they have too many autistic adults per employee.

            2. Steve G*

              To clarify, there was the possibility that it wouldn’t have been paid if the incident was her fault.

          2. Not So NewReader*

            This is par for the course in this industry, I’m afraid. As you said, the investigation should have taken 2 minutes.

        2. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Informally saying “why don’t you take a few days and think about this,” sure. But a formal suspension feels high-school-ish and punitive to me and out of sync with managing professional adults.

      2. Nerdling*

        Suspension without pay is definitely used in our organization. Depending on the severity of the offense, you might get off with as little as a letter of censure in your file, a brief (or long) suspension, the opportunity to resign, or flat-out fired. But those are more for behavioral infractions or rule-breaking. For poor performance, folks get PIP’d.

    2. BRR*

      We have various levels based on the infraction, this is not progressive steps:
      -verbal warning
      -written warning
      -I’m at this pre-PIP stage right now and it isn’t in the employee handbook (HR CYA). Everything I do is being documented and in a certain amount of time they will decided if I am put on a formal PIP.

      1. HR Generalist*

        +1 , we do it this way too. No suspensions other than “We need time to investigate and you need to not be here during that time”

    3. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

      We have one, but there is an overarching statement that the policy does not have to be followed, and that the ED (me) and skip over any steps as appropriate. This was written to give me some room to skip steps when something really egregious happens or when, for example, I give a verbal warning, and the person responds saying they refuse to comply – it keeps me from having to go through more steps when it’s clearly unnecessary. Believe me, nobody has ever been surprised that I fired them.

    4. AdAgencyChick*

      Verbal reprimand, written warning with PIP, termination. My company doesn’t seem to do suspensions and in any case I can’t imagine a situation in which they’d be helpful to me as the manager.

    5. HRWitch*

      We have both union and non-union employees and use the same process for both. We start with coaching from the manager, move to a formal verbal warning, then written warning, performance plan (work quality) or final written warning (behavior – attendance for example), end with termination. We use suspension (called out as paid administrative leave) when investigating an incident (fist fight, harassment, discrimination, etc.) California doesn’t like unpaid suspensions.

  8. CollegeAdmin*

    I got a new job! As of July 1, I will be leaving my current admin assistant role and moving into the IT department as a data analyst/trainer. I’m so excited! :)

    But I have a question: Is it possible to take time off between leaving my current role (currently scheduled for June 30) and starting the new one? Could I take my vacation time? I’m not leaving the college, just the department.

    1. Friday*

      Yes, taking time off between new positions (especially when it’s an internal move) is totally normal and lots of people that I’ve worked with have done it. Just talk to your new manager to see if it’s okay to push back your start date.

      1. Meg Murry*

        Or since you are giving lots of notice, talk to them about whether it would make more sense to take a vacation at the end of May or the first few weeks in June, then work a few weeks to finish out your job before moving to the new position.

        Depending on how long hiring takes at your college (a looooong time if it’s anywhere like the one I worked), if you took the last week or two off in your current role and they didn’t have someone to fill it July 1 that would make it even worse to have the role effectively “empty” for 2 more weeks, as opposed to you being out for 2 weeks, then back for 2 weeks, then off.

        Unless there is a policy otherwise, you can use the vacation you’ve earned – and if it’s at a school that has a use it or lose it by June 30th policy definitely take it. I’m assuming you’ve given your notice to the department already, so ask the chair (or whoever you report to) whether they would rather you take your vacation in May, early June, or to ride out the end of your time there until June 30th. It probably also depends on when the end of classes/graduation is and whether things are dead or crazy after that as to when would be best for you to take the time off.

        And congrats!

        1. TootsNYC*

          Most of the companies I’ve worked with have a policy that you must be in the office on your last day of work. No taking vacation day for your last day. My 1yo son had a medical procedure on my last day, and I couldn’t go home to take care of him; I had to farm it out to Grandma, because I was legally required to be IN the office on my last afternoon. I think I had to be there in the morning, and go on a long lunch for the hospital visit.

          So just ask.
          It’s my experience that 90% of the people I’ve known who were changing jobs (hiring them, friends with them, friends with the person hiring them…) take at least a week off between jobs, often covering that income loss with their paid-out vacation from their old job.
          I’ve had my to-be boss say to me, “OK, so you’ll need to give 2 weeks’ notice, and then you’ll want at least a week off, so you can start in 3 weeks or 4?”

    2. ZSD*

      Congratulations on the new job! Yes, I think it’s fairly normal to take some vacation time between the two jobs, especially since you’re giving so much notice for leaving. You could make your last day at your current position June 17, take two weeks of vacation, and then start the new job July 1.
      What I’m not sure of is which department would normally pay the vacation time. I would think it would be your current job, but maybe you could talk the two departments into splitting the cost.

    3. Malissa*

      If you have accrued vacation time I would ask your current boss. It’s not an unreasonable request.

    4. College Career Counselor*


      I would say it depends on what the new department has planned for you. Perhaps you could shorten the time period to your last day (which is 8 weeks from now)? In other words, make your last day June 16th and take a couple of weeks (or whatever) of vacation time.

    5. Bethy*

      Congrats! It’s always nice to see admins move into non-admin roles–gives me hope that I can make that transition when the right things comes along.

    6. TalleySueNYC*

      I don’t know why I didn’t focus on the fact that this is the same overall employer, but different departments. And so your “seniority for vacation time” will probably be considered to be continuous, and you will be entitled to whatever vacation time you earned; it’s just a matter of finding a time to take it that works with your direct manager(s). Just ask everyone how to schedule it; they will all totally understand.
      If you haven’t qualified for weeks off, then go to whoever is in charge of the HR aspect of your switch, and ask them if it’s possible to arrange an unpaid leave and keep your seniority/employment continuity going.

      Everyone will completely understand it.

  9. Malissa*

    So I started an application with an online system that serves academia. I bailed out about the time it wanted extremely detail information about my references before uploading my resume. I didn’t think anything else about it. Then the system sent me an email to get my master’s or PHD online through their affiliated schools. Seriously, now signing up for an application system is now grounds to send me unrelated emails? Nothing like confirming my suspicions that information handed over wasn’t going to be handled with discretion.

    1. Vanishing Girl*

      I once applied for a job with a government museum and they sent me a funding plea (with free address labels) in a couple months. I had the same feeling you did: thanks a lot: they’re supposed to be the ones giving me money in exchange for work.

    2. Ama*

      Ugh, that is terrible mailing list practices. Although it is possible that their system is set up to allow the addition of emails to a particular mailing list without providing access to the rest of the information.

      I once provided a reference to a student worker I’d supervised when they were up for an internship at a nonprofit. I had to exchange a few emails with the hiring manager to get the call set up, and then I discovered they added me to their email list. It really annoyed me.

      1. Anony-moose*

        Ugh, nope. I work at a nonprofit and I see this all the time. (It may happen in the for profit world as well, but I can only speak to the nfp world). It’s like no one actually thinks through whether or not someone wants to get an email…

        I am still getting emails from a company I used to work for. When I left the ED treated me REALLY badly and went so far as to try to undermine me in my new position. So why am I getting solicitations?

    3. Agreed*

      Omg, yes, this. Nothing like being rejected with no contact whatsoever, and then being asked to donate money you don’t have. *Eyeroll*

  10. Rat Racer*

    I am a terrible note-taker. I think the problem is partly medium (computer vs. by hand) and partly that my thinking isn’t very linnear. My listening, thinking and processing get in the way of writing. I can capture my own To Do list, but struggle to record conversations. In grad school, I used to record lectures and then re-listen and edit my notes, a time luxury I no longer have.

    Is there anyone out there who used to be a bad note-taker who developed a system that has worked for you? What did you do?

    1. Mockingjay*

      Use Microsoft One Note. Great for raw notes, and it’s really easy to use. You can import documents, slides, PDFs, and type notes directly alongside for easy reference.

      It has lots of nifty features. You can quickly tag items with a To Do or Question checkbox as you go.

      1. Rat Racer*

        Yes – I’ve tried using OneNote – it gets tricky if I’m sharing my screen or trying to present something at the same time. But I’m thinking of going back and trying it again…

        Do you find that there are different note-taking styles that you apply depending on the meeting? Do you look for different things to capture if you’re in a large group conversation where you’re a fly on the wall vs. a 1:1 with your boss, vs. a problem-solving meeting with lots of back and forth conversation?

        1. Mockingjay*

          The note taker can’t be the presenter. I would suggest asking someone else to drive the slide show while you concentrate on note taking.

          Meeting prep helps me the most – knowing the agenda or subject material in advance allows me to cue into important items or key words.

          My note-taking skills are actually a defense mechanism. I don’t have an auditory memory. I cannot remember conversations 5 minutes after. (If I read something, I have it down forever.) While still a schoolchild, I had to train myself to take copious notes to compensate for this lack. Basically I write as fast as I can so I don’t forget! I find it ironic that my most stressful weakness seems to be a career asset.

          1. Meg Murry*

            I agree – you can’t be the presenter or an active participant and take thorough notes on the conversation – that just isn’t going to work. The only way it can work is if it’s a very small group, in which you can say often “ok, wait a moment while I take this all down” several times. But it’s far more effective to enlist a third party to be the official note taker/minute taker if there needs to be documentation after the meeting beyond “these are the action items to have accomplished by this date”

            If you absolutely have to take notes when you are the presenter, print out the presentation and take notes on that, but build lots of time into the meeting for you to pause and take notes.

    2. Beezus*

      I record, listen, and write notes from the recording. I have a hard time participating in a conversation while also taking notes.

      If we’re using a whiteboard, I take a photo of the whiteboard with my phone.

      I have one very, very structured meeting with a clear preset agenda, where a series of people report their numbers for the day. I know what items everyone is going to report on, so I have a notes cheat sheet for that meeting, with spaces for each item, so I can just jot down the numbers themselves as we go along.

    3. Nanc*

      A digital recorder and time. As you listen and take basic notes, when something really important is discussed, note the time in the margin of your notepad or in your word doc and just go back and listen to that part of the recording. It takes practice but it works well for me.

    4. Observer*

      Another very easy to use note-taker is EverNote. It handles handwritten notes (which you can scan or create on a tablet with a stylus). Also, some tablets (the Samsung ones, that I know of) have decent handwriting recognition. So, if you prefer to hand write, you can do it, and still have the advantage of using a computer.

    5. The IT Manager*

      I think you can take good notes (as the meeting minute taker) or you can participate. I don’t think you can do both. Are you trying to capture the whole meeting or just certain relevant points for your own use?

      If you’re a participant in the discussion, I think the best bet is to write up your notes (expand on your quick notes) as soon as the meeting is over.

    6. Brett*

      I still revert to paper and the Cornell Method. It is especially great for non-linear thinkers.

    7. Development professional*

      This might sound weird, but see if you can discipline yourself NOT to do any processing of the information you’re hearing until after the meeting (again, this only works if you’re not also participating in the discussion) and take notes initially almost like a dialogue in a play. Don said this. Peggy said this. Joan said this. Roger said this. Word for word quotes won’t be possible unless you know shorthand or something, but get the gist. Then afterwards, go back and look at those notes and process the information, reorganizing into bullet points that make actual sense. This has worked for me in the past, especially in meetings where there were lots of different people speaking.

      1. Rat Racer*

        That sounds like a good strategy – – but one that would take a tremendous amount of discipline. And that’s what I’m realizing by reading the responses above: taking good notes requires discipline. Thinking I should start practicing in meetings where I’m just there to learn and absorb. The trickier ones are the meetings where I’m actively participating, handing out to-dos and follow-ups to myself and others, trying to organize my own thoughts and ask the right questions… My hat is off to anyone who can do all those things and take effective notes. My hat also goes off to people who are disciplined enough to take notes for the duration of a 4-hour meeting and then go back and read them…

        1. afiendishthingy*

          I’m a bad note-taker too, and for my job I have to write notes to bill for anything, which means a lot of taking notes in meetings where I am a very active participant. Frequently I just have to do the note after the fact (obviously as soon as possible is best). However, I do use handwritten notes with a template in many cases, where I can circle which items/cases/programs were discussed, and mark which were modified, who was present, to do’s, etc. My notes still aren’t great but this makes them a little more organized.

    8. TalleySueNYC*

      What is your -purpose- in taking the notes? Because I think that greatly affects what approach you take.
      -are you taking minutes? Then don’t really count on participating; and remember as well: minutes are not supposed to include the discussion–only the exact wording of the motion (so OK to make people slow down and dictate to you), who made it, who seconded, what the final vote was.

      -are you learning? Then don’t take notes; listen actively. I’ve heard that for college students, it’s probably better to not try to take notes, but to just listen and absorb, and think. Your approach of recording and re-listening later (and making any “study aid” notes) is probably smart. I mostly listen and only write down the four or five words of something that strikes me as a good thing to refer to later.

      -are you trying to remember the few specifics that apply to you? Then just write those few things down.

      did you know that juries aren’t -allowed- to take notes? They’re supposed to be focusing all their attention on the information being presented. So they don’t miss something while they’re writing, and so that all their attention is on what is being said and shown.

      There’s someone else whose only job is to take notes, and if the jurors want clarification, etc., they ask for sections to be reread. That’s what your recording could be.

      The next question would be, are you allowed to record the material, using your smartphone (if you have one)?

  11. Ali*

    I had two interviews in New York City this week, both for jobs at nonprofits. The first interview went well, and it’s an organization I’d love to work for, but I was a little worried about it because they are looking for someone who is a leader and motivator. I’m not entirely sure if that describes me! But I think otherwise there’s a good match there, and I even used the “magic question,” to which the hiring manager said, “Wow that’s a great question, but a tough one!” He did say, though, that the job is good for a first-time manager, so maybe there’s hope. I’ll know next week if I move to the next round.

    I went to a staffing agency about the second job, and they’re trying to fill a communications job at a different nonprofit. I got a copy of the job description and I’m not sure I’m going to be a great match, but I showed my interest in an interview with the organization and sent a different version of my resume to better reflect my experience. I don’t know when I’ll hear back from the recruiter, who was pretty nice and laid back, so if I don’t get this gig, I’d want to work with him down the road.

    I am back home now and have ANOTHER interview today at a credit union. While going to NYC is still my first choice, if those options don’t work out and the credit union hires me, it’ll still give me stability and a good place to work. Plus, it’s considered a nonprofit, so I would be excited for that too.

    It’s kind of funny, though, to have a flurry of interviews now that I’m out of work. I didn’t have this when I was employed!

    1. Mary inTexas*

      What’s the “magic question?” I’m a regular reader of AAM, but I must’ve missed this. Thanks!

  12. SevenSixOne*


    1. What bad habits, faulty assumptions, and unrealistic expectations did your first job(s) give you about How Work Works? What were the professional consequences? How did you finally un-learn them?

    2. Do you think managers have an obligation to educate their young/inexperienced employees (especially employees in low-skill, low-paying “McJobs”) about How Work Works?

    1. AdAgencyChick*

      1) My first “real job” firmly disabused me of notions like “work has a set beginning and end time” (my parents were both government employees who had very set hours, so that’s what I grew up thinking was universal) and “it’s enough to come up with some answers, you don’t need to thoroughly search to ensure you didn’t miss anything.”

      2) An obligation? No. A kindness? Yes, and one that may pay off if the employee seems like she’s simply clueless and would do the right thing if she knew what it was.

    2. Retail Lifer*

      1) Working hard will get you somewhere. Often schmoozing the right people is far more effective.

      2) I don’t think there’s an obligation there, but it’s the right thing to do. I’ve worked with a whole lot of high school kids in my day and I always try to help them be realistic about things. However, I’d never flat out tell them what I said for #1.

    3. some1*

      My first job was at City govt dept and every employee in my dept, save the head, had the opportunity to join the Union for their job title. For those who are unfamiliar with Unions, you have a union steward or rep at your work and a business rep at the union office that you can go to for basically anything (“How do I get a raise?”, “Can my manager make me stay until 5:00 on the dot when the bus leaves at 5:05 and I come in 10 minutes early?”) You never really went to HR for anything after hire unless you were applying for a transfer.

      So it was a shock to enter the private, non-union sector and see how some coworkers seemed to think HR was there as their personal advocate or to discipline a coworker for minor disagreements.

    4. AVP*

      My first jobs out of college were all freelance and contract positions which were terribly managed, and I had no idea that you could have a manager who was a good person, who might care about employees and not just try to get everyone out of people that they could and then drop them, and might care about the long-term personnel management. So, that was a really nice surprise at my first non-contract position.

      One terrible thing that I learned both from my first contracts and from my friends’ first jobs is that you’re supposed to go out drinking with colleagues all the time, and that people are all dating and hooking up with each other, sometimes in very inappropriate circumstances. I was also REALLY happy to learn that that isn’t the case with most jobs.

      I definitely think that one of the big tasks when you have entry level or low skill employees is to teach them how things should work, in a good, well-managed environment. It helps them, it builds loyalty, and it also means you have a more professional staff – win win win.

    5. Karowen*

      1) I’m still at my first job, and I have a horrible habit of cursing and pulling “that’s what she said” /”so’s your face” jokes. It’s…bad, to say the least. I’m trying so hard to break myself of it, but no one at the office cares and they have (cringe) come to expect it of me so it’s just all sorts of weird. It didn’t occur to me until well after it should have that maybe, just maybe, this type of behavior was inappropriate for the office.

      2) Like AdAgencyChick said, no obligation but definitely a kindness. I would’ve loved for my manager to pull me aside at some point and say “look, this may be okay for here but you’ve got to know it’s generally inappropriate.”

    6. YandO*

      1. My first job set up unrealistic expectations for the following things:
      a- good benefits
      b- awesome and reasonable boss
      c- being treated like an adult
      d- company that wants to keep employees happy through salary, perks, benefits, time off, etc.

      2. YES

      1. ali*

        this is exactly what my first job did too. Nothing after has ever been even close to that.

    7. matcha123*

      My first job was delivering newspapers, so I’m going to let that slide and go on to my second job working part-time at a library. What I learned my final three or four years there was that hard work is not rewarded, but brown-nosing is; years of praise for a job well-done can be tossed aside on a whim based on the feelings of the supervisor that day; you shouldn’t go to your supervisor with questions or work-related issues because it will be used against you somehow; don’t go to the restroom. Consequences were being fired for frivolous reasons or denied promotions for the same. It’s taken me years to try to ease out of that. It didn’t help that I worked there close to a decade…

      I think managers have an obligation to help ease new employees into their office and teach them the ropes. It makes everything go a lot smoother when everyone is on the same page. Even if I don’t like certain rules, if i know what they are from the get-go, I can know what to do and what not to do. If I choose to ignore the advice given to me, that’s my bad. But if someone with more experience decides not to give me that advice and then blames me for not knowing something, that’s their bad.

    8. Koko*

      1) “Venting and having bitch sessions with coworkers can help you manage a stressful work environment.” Eventually learned the opposite is more often true and when a work situation is f’d up you either need to keep your head down or get out.

    9. Alex*

      1. My first job set hugely unreasonable expectations about how much money I’d make in the future. Back in the earlier days of cell phones, the retail reps made TONS of money. In the late 90’s, early 00’s, 19 year old kids were making $80k+ just selling phones in a retail store. I joined in 20014-ish and was making $55-$60k as a teenager with no bills or expenses, and I literally blew ALL OF IT. I kick myself for it now. The realization that if I wanted to get out of sales at all, I’d be taking a $30k paycut to start out somewhere else, and now I had bills.. that was a tough, rude awakening.

      2. Kind of. I feel like this is part of good management. However, in a McJob type situation, management is probably a lot more transactional with very limited time for development, so maybe not.

    10. BRR*

      1) My first job had way too much work to do for the size of the department. If something was long-term it meant that it wasn’t going to get done. At my current (2nd) job, long-term means in a couple of weeks at most.

      2) By McJobs I think of minimum wage jobs where it’s completely different. For entry-level office jobs I think there’s some obligation. Part of being a manager is managing more than just the quality of work.

    11. MaryMary*

      1. My early “McJobs” and even my college internship didn’t teach me to set boundaries around how much I socialize with coworkers outside of work, and what weekend stories are appropriate to tell in Monday morning. When you work in retail and everyone is hungover on Sunday morning, including the managers, it doesn’t seem weird to complain about your own hangover and talk about how you were out until 4am. You may have even been out until 4 with your coworkers. When you have a professional office job, people are less impressed with your wild weekend stories. Getting wasted on the weekend with your coworkers and manager (or your direct reports) is going to lead to all sorts of ugly office gossip.

      2. I do think managers have a responsibility to teach young people proper workplace expectations. My office has an arrangement with a local parochial high school where students work here one day a week in exchange for free tuition. There are complaints around the office about the quality of some of the students’ work (they do things like deliver our mail and make copies) and occasionally their attire, but no one will address it with the student directly. It drives me bonkers, because we’re not setting them up for success if they thing they can half-ass a boring assignment, or ignore the dress code when they feel like it.

    12. SevenSixOne*

      I thought I’d always be a slave to my work schedule because scheduling was a nightmare at my first three jobs. No one had a set schedule, it was decided (often at the last possible second) based on “business needs”, and employees were expected to find someone to cover their shift if they wanted to take a day off.

      When I got my current job and found out my schedule would be the same days and times every week, I was thrilled. You mean I can schedule things weeks in advance, secure in the knowledge that I’ll have Tuesday off because I always have Tuesday off? And there’s enough staffing that it’s not a major crisis if one person (or two or five) isn’t at work? WOW!!!

      I still don’t fully grasp the idea that in some jobs you can often come and go as you please and no one really cares as long as the work gets done. How do you even DO that??!?!

      I do think managers have an obligation to guide their employees, but it can be hard to tell the difference between “this is how I like to run things”, “this is a norm specific to this workplace or industry”, and “this is a generally accepted standard of professionalism”, especially if it’s the first time an employee has that conversation. I think McManagers come with their own challenges, too. The McManagers I’ve had were often not much older or experienced than their teenage employees, or they had a ton of experience as a McManager but little or no experience with any other type of job, so their guidance wasn’t always useful.

    13. "The same thing you are."*

      My first job disabused me of the notion that The Boss had to be a smart guy. (Elsewhere on AAM I detailed how he came to 16yo me for assistance in determining the size of the business property in square feet. He knew it was rectangle 200ft by 75ft – he just needed to figure out the area).

    14. Kai*

      For #1, I grew up with two parents who both had fulfilling jobs with considerable flexibility (college professor and massage therapist, respectively). It was kind of a shock to me to realize that most people have limited time they can take off (winter and summer breaks aren’t really a thing outside of academia, are they?!). I also didn’t fully respect how restrictive 40 hours a week at a desk can be, compared to the flexibility my parents seemed to have.

      1. Manders*

        Ditto! My parents were professors, and while I knew that I wouldn’t get summer break in an office job, the first year I was scheduled to work Christmas Eve + Boxing Day was a big surprised.

      2. So Very Anonymous*

        Same here. Dad was a professor, Mom was music director for a church. They both worked a lot, but had a lot of flexibility about where and when (i.e Mom could practice on the piano at home, Dad had a home office, etc.) I still really miss my academic schedule.

    15. GOG11*

      I am on my third job post-college, so I’m not sure I am far enough along yet.

      Regarding 2, though, I am currently in my first management role (kind of…I manage two student assistants and I feel odd thinking of myself as managing people, even though that is what I’m doing). I don’t know that managers necessarily have an obligation to educate younger workers, but I know I feel obligated to do so. I work at a University, so this may have something to do with it, but there are others in my role with assistants who don’t feel that way at all.

      I do think it can be in the best interests of managers to work with employees who have difficulty adjusting or learning How Work Works. Part of management is coaching employees on how to succeed or excel in the role, which isn’t just limited to technical or process-oriented skills. One could argue that managers could just hire more experienced workers to get around that, but I don’t think that’s always possible/practical.

    16. Tris Prior*

      My first job was as a newspaper reporter in the 90s. As a reporter, I was expected to be fair, balanced, and truthful even if it made some people angry. When I moved on to a corporate communications job, I had a really hard time getting my head around things like pleasing clients and not telling the unvarnished truth all the time because it might piss someone off. “Spin” was completely foreign to me, as were most kinds of office politics. That was rough.

    17. Anx*

      1. I think what shocked me the most was how hard it was to find a job on your own. I worked pretty regularly when I was young. As a child I worked with my family (nothing exploitative), walked into a restaurant and got a job on the spot, and then easily got summer the summer jobs I applied for in college. In college, I found work readily (probably at first because I was FWS, then because I held a lot of student leadership roles). Then I graduated and my life has become year after year of rejection and underemployment. It was very jarring to go from working several jobs that I didn’t struggle to find to learning just hard it is go work when you’re not a student. In fact, I went back to school in part just to become a student again; people are much more inclined to hire students than the unemployed.

      2. I think they have an obligation to let their employees know what is expected of them regardless of age or experience. An accurate employee manual does a lot to assuage the anxiety of trying to figure out what the expectations are. Also, I think it’s important to let employees know if they are not doing something right before letting it fester.

    18. Clever Name*

      My first jobs were hourly and at the types of places where everyone took a 15 minute break and a half hour lunch at set intervals. At my first job, I was shocked when my coworker just plowed through the time when I would have normally gone on breaks in prior jobs. Now I forget that it’s ok to surf the web for 5 mins when I hit the mid afternoon slump

    19. Not So NewReader*

      1) I really did not develop any set assumptions or expectations. My parents did not talk much about the work world and I found my first job very confusing- no means yes and yes means no. You’re doing fine means you are screwing up. I thought to myself- I. Can’t. Do. This. I think what saved my butt, is that I love to be busy. So at subsequent jobs I just automatically asked the boss for more work. I started learning things and that helped me get launched.

      2) I think we all have some level of obligation to help someone enter the work world. Reality is though that this does not always happen. I have worked a few places where it was a game to laugh at the struggling new hire. Or worse yet, validation of “how terrible this place is.” (With the former, someone usually breaks down and decides to help. With the latter, for whatever reason, people tend not to help the new hire.) I think that treating people new to the work world like this really sends the wrong message that can take years to undo. And it does not go well with established workers, either.

  13. Cruciatus*

    I get back to my desk and check my phone; there’s a missed call from an unknown number. “Hooray!”, I think, “that company I applied to is finally getting in touch with me!” I Google the number and find…it’s a spammer. Gahhh! Oh, the highs and lows of the job search. Having one of those weeks (months, really) where I feel like I will never escape my current employer (which sucks, because things are really going south around here). (/end vent session)

    1. Retail Lifer*

      Solidarity. Things are in a rapid decline here and I can’t get out no matter how hard I try!

    2. Allison*

      I’ve gotten two calls from spammers this week, both from Florida. Unless I’m job searching, I let it ring and Google the number, nine times out of ten it’s either a spammer or someone from CVS calling to tell me I need to refill this or that prescription soon.

    3. cuppa*

      I thought I was getting a call for an interview I really wanted the other day, but it was just my dentist reminding me of my upcoming appointment. Won’t forget that number again. :(

      1. Cruciatus*

        Unfortunately I just received the rejection email. Argh! But thank you, I will definitely hang in there. Will have to do a hard core job search over the weekend which will eventually start in just 30 more minutes… I think I can, I think I can…

  14. Joss*

    How do you cope with a coworker who wants to mother you?

    I’ve been at my current workplace for almost two years — starting in a front desk position and moving up to a program assistant position. I’m in my mid-twenties, but I look quite a bit younger and fairly regularly run into the problem of people assuming I’m less experienced and capable than I am. This coworker, though. She’s an older woman with a deep investment in a very large family and she doesn’t seem to be able or willing to turn off the mothering bit of her personality with her coworkers.

    It’s nothing she does that’s a big deal in and of itself, it’s more little things that add up to her treating me like I’m one of her kids and it’s driving me batty. I don’t particularly like being mothered in general, so I’m aware that I’m sensitive in this regard. She does it to a couple of the other people in our department who are my age and it’s getting to them as well. We’re at a loss of how to tell her to quit trying to take care of us.

    1. AdAgencyChick*

      I’d give her as little information to work with as possible. If you don’t talk to her about your personal life, she won’t have as much to mother you about.

      And when she does, redirect like crazy. “I’ve got it under control, actually. Can we talk about the XYZ project?”

    2. Rebecca*

      “Thanks for your input; I’ll think about it”. If she still presses, deflect, and nicely tell her “thanks, I have it covered”. If she still continues to nag, loop in the others (out of her earshot) and make a pact that when any of you sees the other cornered by the mothering coworker, you will call your office phone, thus creating an instant “oh, hey, gotta get that” moment.

    3. Malissa*

      Well the line I used for a mother coworker, who was getting on my case about wearing a coat, “I’ve already have a mother and she raised me well enough to make my own decisions about my personal comfort. Can we talk about the monthly numbers now?”

      1. Anie*

        Don’t use that! Hits me as super rude. I would never describe myself as “mothering,” but I’ve mentioned once or twice that it’s cold enough to need a coat if I see co-workers leaving for lunch without it. They either say, “Oh, thanks!” or “I’m gonna chance it!”

        1. Colette*

          I guess it’s a little rude, and I wouldn’t recommend that be your first attempt at getting someone to stop trying to run your life, but if polite redirects or requests to stop don’t work, I bet this would get the point across.

        2. Krys*

          Honestly I think that your comment could be considered mothering. I’m an adult. If I leave the office and find that it’s chilly enough for a jacket I can walk back and grab one. I don’t need a coworker to tell me to do that. When you make comments like that it makes it seem like you don’t trust people’s decision making abilities.

          1. Colette*

            The exception, in my mind, is that it’s ok to mention the weather if you have been outside more recently than your coworkers (e.g. just got back from an appointment).

            1. Krys*

              I guess I always assume that if people want to know about the weather that they’ll check it out for themselves or ask me if it’s chilly outside if I’ve recently been out there. But I’m sensitive to people “mothering” me when it’s not needed. I don’t have my coworkers around in the weekend and evening and I seem to do fine. Lol.

              1. Colette*

                Personally, I’m usually dressed for yesterday’s weather, so I appreciate a heads up if the weather has changed.

                I think “It’s chillier than I thought” is fine, but “It’s chilly, so don’t forget your jacket” is not – one is informational and the other is interfering.

          2. Lily in NYC*

            I could see it rankling I guess, but I would be happy for the warning so I wouldn’t have to come all the way back upstairs to get a coat/umbrella. The temperature in our office is so crazy (either really hot or really cold) so we lose all concept of what is happening outside.

        3. Anie*

          I HATE that sounding concerned or trying to be nice is automatically “mothering.” I’m not trying to mother my co-workers. I’m putting myself in their shoes. If someone noticed me leaving without my umbrella but didn’t saying anything and KNEW it was raining, I’d be pissed! It’s called looking out for other people.

          Don’t mistake this for the person who comments to every single person who walks out the door. That’s crazy annoying. But if I’ve just been out, heck yeah I’ll mention it. Also, in my office, it takes forever to get to the bottom floor and back. No one wants to waste their time.

        4. Malissa*

          Subtle hints weren’t working and I was looking to get the relationship where it should be. The line was delivered in a most matter of fact tone with no hint of snark. But if you are trying to remind adults that they should be wearing a coat…well they’re adults and please stop.

      2. Ruffingit*

        I did that and it worked well. I worked with one woman who would do the whole “Well you know I’m a mom and I can’t help worrying…” and I finally said “I have an excellent mother, I’m not in need of another one.” Got the point across and she stopped being demeaning to me.

    4. Lo in CA*

      This happened to me all. the. time. when I started here right out of college. I would get “sweetheart” and “darling” or even “honey” from my much older, mothering boss. She would also introduce me to others as “This is Lo, a twenty something, she’s such a sweetheart” which also irked me because no one else was introduced with their age.

      I do have a baby face and the opposite of resting BF and I know I was extra sensitive about it. What started to help was that when I got a “sweetheart” I would say “Oh, boss, I prefer, Lo.” Then I’d follow that up with the project details I was working on, and always being a step or two ahead of where the boss expected me to be. This also helped a lot with the credibility piece.

      Weirdly, it also helped to start noticing that I was smiling all the time and to smile less. I’m a generally happy person, but I noticed that this was contributing to the problem. Now, I try to keep a pleasant expression on my face, but not a full fledged smile. It’s helped.

    5. Allison*

      Is this just . . . a thing that young(ish) women deal with at work? Older women talking to their younger female co-workers and/or suburdinates like they’re children? Condescending to them, calling them honey, trying to give them life advice, etc. I’ve gotten it from older women in the office, and from some comments I’ve seen here it looks like a fairly common issue.

      1. Malissa*

        It’s a thing that shouldn’t be a thing. I also think sometimes it’s a thing because the younger woman is in a higher position than the older woman and the older woman isn’t quite comfortable with it. I know it actually made me pause and think the first time I ran into some one younger than me was in a higher position.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      It depends on the person and how I feel about them, but I might try, “yes, mom” or “no, mom”.

      However, you might just need to set her straight by speaking directly, “Elma, I think that you mean well when you offer little helps. At some point I have to stand on my own two feet. And that is what I want to do. I do respect your advice but I would like us to change what we are how we handle that. I’d like to set it up so that if I need help I will ask, but I would like to work stuff through on my own first. I think that it is important for me to do this. ”

      Then when she starts explaining something for the 15th time, remind her, “Elma, you did a great job explaining this last week. I am ready to go it on my own here.”
      What I like about this is it circumvents the whole topic of mother/smothering and cuts to the chase. You don’t need a steady stream of advice, period. And this is important for her to learn.

      1. TalleySueNYC*

        I was going to suggest the “yes, Mom” approach as well. Slightly humorous, as if you find her amusing (even if it feels the tiniest bit patronizing).

        But if it’s really mostly work related i’m w/ NotSoNew Reader and the direct, “It doesn’t actually help me when you jump in to help me.”

        For me, I’d personally be adding, “In fact, it greatly distracts me from the mental steps I’m doing to get to the next steps.” Bcs it would.

  15. ZSD*

    I’m moving for a new job! In a little over a month, I’ll be switching from working in Southern California to Washington, DC.
    Has anyone else made the SoCal to DC transition (or vice versa)? What work-related cultural differences can I expect?

    1. Dawn*

      I’ve never lived in SoCal myself but I have friends that have and well… I guess you’ll be prepared for the crazy traffic if nothing else.

      As I understand it SoCal is really, seriously laid back. DC is the opposite of laid back. A large majority of people work crazy stressful hours at jobs they either marginally tolerate or actively loathe in order to either earn insane crazy amounts of money to buy shiny flashy things to prove to everyone how rich they are OR in order to climb more rungs up the federal government employee ladder and suckle the sweet teat of never ever having to worry about being laid off and having a guaranteed pension for life if they can manage to not kill themselves before they reach retirement.

      Now, that being said, not everyone is like that. There’s laid back people here too, it’s just that the overall societal vibe is that of overworked alcoholics who hate their jobs and their lives and their wives buying a bunch of flashy crap trying to impress everyone else and desperately trying to look cool or hip or with it. But that’s the biggest societal slap in the face that I had to get used to once I moved up here from NC.

    2. HeyNonnyNonny*

      I went from West Coast to DC. It’s…a change.

      Socially, know this: Always get a reservation for everything.

      Work-wise, I agree with Dawn. There’s a lot of ladder-climbing self-inflated jerk types, and there’s just straight-up power strata relationships everywhere. Oh, you only work for Congressman Underpants? I work for Senator Poopsie…that sort of thing.

      But also, like Dawn says, not everyone is like that. It just definitely does overall live up to the uptight East Coast vibe.

    3. Rat Racer*

      NorCal => DC and back. I’m afraid to draw too many stereotypes, but will say that office culture in DC is much, much more formal than in California. That goes for everything from dress code to email. And – again – my experience of n=1, there’s more of a “Live to Work” vibe in DC, as opposed to CA where you find more “Work to Live.” Tech industry in SF notwithstanding.

    4. LLC*

      That exactly what I did about 6 years ago. LA to DC and a year ago back to CA (but Northern this time). Work pace is definitely faster in DC and nobody works an 8 hour day in DC. Also, even if you don’t have a job in politics, it’s still a major factor in work relationships and is brought up often. DC is the only place I’ve ever been where I could go to a bar and c-span is on and people are actually engaged, including the “dive bars.” Also in CA I’ve had multiple casual dress jobs in DC I never found one. I found one that said casual dress environment and all it really meant was you didn’t have to wear a full suit every day, which is still a plus in DC when you’re walking to and from the metro stations in the summer humidity. I still loved living and working in DC though, but it was different. :)

    5. LPBB*

      Warning: Gross Generalizations Ahead!

      It obviously depends on what field you’re working in, but in general people in DC tend to be very Type A and, like Dawn said, work ludicrously long hours as a badge of honor. Who you know is also generally very important. Don’t be shocked at parties if people simply stop talking to you and walk away once they realize you don’t know anyone valuable to them. Again, this depends on the field you’re in and your own social circle, but it’s happened to me in a bunch of different settings. People also tend to be a little stodgy fashion wise, especially in the government. If you’re going to be working on the Hill, start stocking up on your Ann Taylor now!

      Finally, from my slightly tongue in cheek perspective as a Baltimorean, people in DC LOVE to act as though they are worldly cosmopolitans while they are really just as provincial as they accuse us of being in Bmore.

      1. the gold digger*

        Don’t be shocked at parties if people simply stop talking to you and walk away once they realize you don’t know anyone valuable to them.

        That was my observation as well. It is super easy to meet people in DC and get invited to things, but that’s because nobody knows if you might be useful. It is very shallow.

      2. Nerdling*

        I had that sort of thing happen when I interned there. I was with an agency, but I spent some time hanging out with high school friends who were interning on the Hill. I was much less interesting to their friends when they found out I wasn’t interning politically.

    6. Jillociraptor*

      I made the move from DC to northern California about a year ago. It’s a huge shift. Frankly, I’m more of a “DC Person” – very Type A, driven, impatient, live-to-work, etc. The biggest adjustment for me was that the Bay Area just seemed unbearably slow at first. People walk slow and talk slow. Service is slow. The speed limit’s even lower than anywhere else I’ve ever lived. It’s just soooooo sloooooow. It has actually been a good push to just chill out a little :) but if you’re accustomed to a slower pace, that will be something to adjust to. Just to give an example, standing on the wrong side of the escalator (and thus impeding those who walk up the escalator) is a cardinal sin in DC and literally the one thing that unites every person who uses public transportation in the city. If you are in any way impeding someone from getting somewhere quickly, prepare to get an earful about it, and prepare for this to be one of those business-drinks-small-talk topics that people LOVE to trot out.

      1. Nerdling*

        YES! Stand right, walk left, and for the love of all that is holy, don’t stop dead in your tracks as soon as you get off the escalator to figure out which way you need to go next!

      2. small firm attorney*

        Yes! Stand Right Walk Left! One of my favorite things about living in DC. It’s just not appropriate to yell that out on escalators here in the mid-west, but some days I really wish I could.

    7. Nerdling*

      I didn’t go from California to DC, but I went from the South to DC straight out of college. It really is a very different world: Lots of suits and ties, long work days, people waiting until considerably later in their lives to get married/have kids because it can be prohibitively expensive (I have friends there now paying $2-3k/month for childcare for one), hugely inflated housing market, politics being even harder to avoid, I’d mention traffic but SoCal is pretty bad from everything I’ve heard, people just being very very career-focused to an extent I haven’t really seen anywhere else I’ve lived…

      Now, that said, for me, it was easier in a lot of ways because public transit was excellent from both places I lived while I was there; it meant I didn’t have to fight Beltway traffic on a daily basis just to get to my office and back. I got a lot of reading done on the way to and from. There was a good bit of emphasis in my agency on flexible work schedules to allow people to avoid the worst of rush hour traffic. There was always something to do or see after work/on the weekends. I did a lot of walking, so I was in considerably better shape. And it was a good place to make connections – I worked then with people who are slowly but surely moving up the food chain now, and that can be helpful for getting into sweet gigs in the future. Putting in my time there early on also gave me a much greater sense of appreciation for how good I have things in my current role, as well as an understanding of how our agency works from the top down that I wouldn’t have had if I had started here instead of there.

      I would just say that you’re liable to experience some culture shock all around. That’s normal, but it will pass.

    8. Lizabeth*

      Expect everyone to NOT KNOW HOW TO DRIVE IN SNOW OR RAIN. Take public transportation on those days if you can – I did. I actually moved to NYC to avoid driving as much as possible because of all the road rage flying around on the Beltway and other major roads. There’s a lot of places that aren’t really serviced by mass transit easily. And yes, people do commute in from Harper’s Ferry, WV every day. My deli gal at Safeway drove down from PA every day.

      And expect for the grocery stores, before a “storm” is expected to hit, to run out of toilet paper, batteries, bottled water, milk and bread. There may be some other ones I’m forgetting but you get the idea.

      Everything is political. Even the cherry blossoms – which usually don’t bloom at the same time as the Cherry Blossom Festival.

      The Smithsonian museums are great! You can tell the tourists from the business people pretty easily on the Mall and they disappear after Labor Day.

      If you like to play volleyball at a pretty serious level, there’s a solid community of adult rec leagues all over the DC, VA and MD areas. I could play every night at drop-in places or leagues if I wanted to.

      Humidity is a bear in the summer.

      Good luck!

      1. ZSD*

        Ha! Nobody knows how to drive in the rain here, either. And I’m actually not sure it’s ever snowed in recorded history where I currently live.

    9. ZSD*

      Thanks for all the advice, everyone! This is good information to have. Actually, this makes me worry that…things are kind of…going to suck. I hope things aren’t as bad as they’re being described here!

      1. ZSD*

        But just to be clear, I truly do appreciate your advice! What you’re saying is kind of in line with the stereotypes I had in mind, but I had convinced myself that I was worrying too much and that people wouldn’t be as career-focused as I feared.

      2. LPBB*

        In a lot of ways it really does depend on the work that you do and the social circle you build. There are chill people and there is a lot of cool stuff going on in the city. You might have to do a little extra searching to find your tribe, but they will be there!

      3. Nerdling*

        There were a lot of things I really loved about living there. We took dance lessons several times a week. The public libraries near our apartments were pretty good. The variety of restaurants was amazing. And the history you’re close to is incredible — you can visit a ton of Civil War sites, if that’s your thing. Plus, it’s not a long train ride up to New York or Boston or other locations on the East Coast. I think you can make a great deal out of living there, honestly. It just helps to go in with your eyes open about some of the negatives. :)

        1. ZSD*

          Thanks! Yes, I’ve definitely been looking forward to all the free amenities, the great public transportation, and the beautiful springtimes. I was excited to learn that the Kennedy Center has a free concert almost every evening of the year!

      4. Otter box*

        I went from WA state to DC two years ago. Overall, while I do agree with all the comments in this thread, I still find I love living here. Yes, it’s ridiculously expensive rent (although you’re coming from SoCal, so maybe it’s not as big of a jump for you). Yes, people are pushy, and this city is full of self-absorbed lawyers and political types who think the sun shines out their asses because they have so much money or know so many powerful senators. But I’ve also met a lot of people who truly love the work that they do, and I’m lucky to work in an office full of them. “What do you do?” is THE question you will be asked by any person when you first meet. Walk Left Stand Right is the law of the land except in the metro stops overflowing with tourists (like Smithsonian). Metro also is actually pretty terrible – I quit riding it and started riding the buses because it kept breaking down and making me unacceptably late to work, despite charging high fares – but at least it’s (usually) there when you need it. The free cultural experiences are amazing (I saw you mentioned the Millennium Stage concerts at the Kennedy Center – VERY good and VERY free and I think they’re every single night at 6 pm, including Thanksgiving and Christmas). It can feel big if you want a big city or small if you want a smaller city. I don’t know if I want to stay here forever, but for the meantime, it’s been a great experience.

      5. Snargulfuss*

        I LOVED my years living in DC! Honestly, if the cost of housing in the area were even close to reasonable I would move back and settle there permanently. Yes, lots of people are career obsessed – some of them are power-hungry jerks, but lots of them are just really passionate about what they do, and it can be really fun to meet people and learn about all sorts of fascinating things that people do. groups are a great way to get beyond the happy hour bragfast type of socializing. There are also lots of sports leagues throughout the city.

    10. Ask a Manager* Post author

      How old are you? That’ll make a difference in what you experience, to a certain extent. But hordes of men in khaki pants and blue button-downs will be everywhere you go.

      1. ZSD*

        I’m wondering if you’re saying that things will be less rat-racy than they would if I were in my 20s. Is that the case?

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          I think how rat-racy it is depends more on what field you’re in and less on age. Politics = very, very schmoozy. But there are plenty of people doing plenty of jobs here that aren’t political. But it’s true that in general people here (regardless of field) tend to be more career-focused than in many other places.

          I was thinking about age more in regard to the social scene. If you want to be super social here, it’s very easy to do it — and even moreso in your 20s; there’s an aggressive social scene. 30s, people mellow out. I’m sure that’s true everywhere, but there’s a particular D.C. flavor to what it looks like here — there’s a kind of schmoozy, let’s-know-as-many-people-as-possible, not at all mellow feel to 20something socializing here, at least in my experience.

    11. Super Anon Today!*

      Can I say that these responses remind me how glad I am to live in California?

      1. Charlotte*

        I went from AZ to DC to Southern California where I am now. I agree with most of the other generalizations already mentioned. I lived in DC (Georgetown & Friendship Heights) and loved it, working near metro and bus stops. But it really depends on what type of job you’re getting and where you end up living. I worked for a small law firm first, business casual, and then at a non-profit where I wore jeans every day and my boss wore flip flops all the time. I had a lot of friends DC in political jobs (yes, they talk politics a lot) and non political jobs, but a vast majority were in some job related to government, whether contract work or directly. I had a lot of international friends, which is a great advantage in DC–lots of people coming and going to the city for work in embassies, think tanks, and studies from all over the world. People spot politicians and government administrators when eating out, not Hollywood celebrities. DC is a fun city; but like any kind of move to a new city, it takes time to meet people you want to spend time with and time to get familiar with the parts of the city that you will love.

    12. Stephanie*

      I moved from my college in Texas to DC and then again from the Southwest (about six hours east of you) to DC.

      I agree with everyone that it’s definitely more buttoned-up than SoCal. I had two casual dress jobs and I was an exception (and now barely own any business casual as a result). That being said, not everyone’s a Type A person striving to become the next White House press secretary (just like not everyone in SoCal is trying to break into the entertainment industry). I wasn’t! The vast majority of my friend group wasn’t. You can definitely avoid that, especially if you’re not working on or near the Hill. It was definitely more accepted to talk about work during non-work hours. People have some very specific, wonky jobs.

      There definitely is a strong happy hour and professional drinking culture. I found people started work later there due to traffic and relying on transit. Out in Phoenix, a lot of people start between 6-7 am (or even earlier). In DC, any meeting before 10 am wasn’t really happening.

      On a more social level, I found it (sort of) easy to meet people there. The city’s somewhat transient, so there are lots of people moving in and out looking to meet others.

      1. ZSD*

        Thanks, Stephanie. This is all helpful info. (Regarding working later: I was very surprised when they told me the office hours at my new gig would be 9-5:30. I thought, “There are actually people who don’t start work until 9?”)

  16. Anon Accountant*

    This week our trouble-making receptionist overheard me on a call with our local community college. They called me to tell me the May class wasn’t open but to ask if the July session was okay to register me for. I’m registering to take a Photoshop class and web design for our church. She raced back to tell the managing partner that she overheard me on the phone “registering for classes at some college”.

    She often takes a piece of information and conveniently leaves out the rest of it that would completely change the meaning of what is happening. Now I’m certain they think I’m planning to quit to return to school. And I mean with almost 95% certainty because she often puts a spin on things and embellishes things. How do I proceed?

    1. Relly*

      Just tell them you’re taking classes outside of business hours? Tons of community colleges offer evening/weekend classes for people who work fulltime.

      1. Dawn*

        Yeah if you think it’s a concern or whatever just email the managing partner and say “Hey I think that Jane might have misunderstood a conversation I had earlier- I’m registering for a nighttime photoshop class as continuing ed since my hobby is photography.”

        Also dang that lady sounds like an insecure basket case to work with… sorry you have to deal with that!

        1. KJR*

          I would be so tempted to use the word “eavesdropping” along with misunderstood. Sooo tempted.

    2. TheExchequer*

      Perhaps something like, “I’m concerned Penrose may have misheard a conversation I had – I’m taking a single class. I’m not planning on returning to school.”

      Then, take all calls out of earshot and be as civil as possible to Penrose.

    3. Malissa*

      Say nothing unless asked. Taking classes while being an accountant is normal. Chances are if the partner is concerned they’ll ask you directly. Just because others are making drama doesn’t mean you have to participate.

    4. Elysian*

      How do you know she told them? Did you actually hear her saying it? Did someone bring this to you? Or do you just assume based on what you know of her? How you know she did this would impact how you should respond.

      1. Anon Accountant*

        I overheard her telling him. She has a naturally loud voice and even when she tries to speak softly her voice isn’t quiet. Plus our layout isn’t the best for acoustics and conversations. She wanted him to “be aware of this”.

        1. Elysian*

          Yeah, then I would approach you manager: “I overheard Receptionist telling you about my coursework the other day. I didn’t mean to listen in, but she was quite loud about it. I just wanted to clarify for you that I’m taking night/weekend classes to further my photography hobby. I didn’t want you getting the impression that I was going to enroll in school full time.” and then talk to Receptionist about why she felt it was necessary to share that information. “I heard you tell my manager about my call, why did you feel it was important that he be aware of this? In the future, I would rather you not share my personal conversations with my manager.”

          1. Not So NewReader*

            This. Even if you just do the part about talking to the boss that should handle things.

            I don’t know…. she could be a lot of fun, if you can get a friend to play along with you. **Call your friend up and order 3 elephants, 2 zebras and a giraffe. Tell your friend that you want them shipped, don’t say where. Then settle back and watch her meltdown begin. Or call your friend and order 27 pizzas and 15 cokes.

            ** Don’t actually do this. But have fun thinking about all the phone calls you could make that would launch her into orbit.

            Seriously, if you do talk to her let her know that she is getting one side of the conversation and is not the same as actually understanding the conversation.

            1. Ruffingit*

              HA! Yeah, that would be awesome. I’d go a step further and say “One of the partners here has herpes?? OMG, who?” Then act like someone is telling you the name and say No way, I never would have guessed…then hang up.

              FTR, I am not saying anyone should ever do this. Just that it’s too funny to think about receptionist’s head exploding over that kind of conversation.

        2. peanut butter kisses*

          I think the odds are quite high in your favor that the guys just rolls his eyes each time she comes in with her own version of eye witness news.

          1. LCL*

            Yeah, that’s what I do with our resident tattletales. And depending on your workplace, this may be the time to start having fun with some fake stories. Invent a new persona! Going on tour with your band! Running a liquor smuggling operation! Buying the company out! The more outlandish the better.

          2. Anonymous Educator*

            Yeah, even though what she’s doing is annoying, I’d like to think people know her and when not to take her seriously (i.e., this would be one of those cases).

    5. Super Anon Today!*

      I’d start having fake phone calls with all sorts of out-there types, conveniently when she’s nearby of course — elephant trainers, skydiving instructors, etc. “Hey there Percival, thanks for calling me back! I’d love to hear more about when I can start my cornhusking internship…”

    6. Artemesia*

      I would have walked right in to the managing partner right then and told him that busy body receptionist got it wrong again — that you are taking an evening class in graphic design to assist your work with your church publications — and not planning to return to college. And I might ask him what you could do to discourage this sort of promulgation of half truths by this person.

      But then being blunt and a straight shooter served me very well in my career; don’t know if it would in your environment.

  17. Tiffy the Fed... Contractor*

    Can I just vent really quickly about something? Truly, I don’t get offended or enraged by much. Really. I’m not just saying that like a reality show “star” who says, “I hate drama,” but who obviously thrives on it. I get slightly peeved or bothered from time to time, but enraged, no. However, a current situation I’m dealing with at work is causing my blood to boil.

    I’m pregnant and planning on going on maternity leave in the next few weeks. According to my company’s policies, the company is required to have a nursing room in the same building as a mother if she plans to nurse when she comes back from leave. The building I work at didn’t have one, so I talked with my boss several months ago. He was very supportive and started putting into action plans of turning an unused office (currently being used as a storage room) into a nursing room. It’s right next to my cube, and I am very grateful. My last employer was not supportive at all, and I had to figure it all out on my own when I had my first child.

    Well our division is short on office space and people regularly are asking what the plans are for the office because they would like to use it. I hear all of these conversations because it is right by my desk. When our admin answers, she answers so awkwardly with sometimes weird things like, “It’s going to be a, um, quiet room,” or “It’s, um, going to, um, be, um, a nursing room.” Well of course people ask further questions, especially when she says things like “quiet room.” What the hell is a quiet room!? Why can’t she just say, “It’s going to be a nursing/lactation/booby room for Tiffany when she returns from maternity leave.” It doesn’t make me the least bit uncomfortable to admit I will pump milk from my breasts to feed my new daughter. And you know what, I don’t care if it makes someone else uncomfortable, because it shouldn’t! Nursing/pumping is not something shameful or inappropriate. For goodness sake, I’m not doing it in front of anyone! No one has to look at my boobs, nor do I want them to!

    My stance has always been if I was ever included in these conversations, I would gladly pipe in and say something to curb her unnecessarily awkward responses. But I never am, and it feels too confrontational to yell from over my cube’s walls to correct her inability to address something accurately. I’m getting to the point, however, where I don’t think I’ll be able to hold back. I will hopefully be able to respond with some tact, but, for heaven’s sake, this enrages me. You probably couldn’t tell.

    I’ve thought about talking the admin, but I’m not sure if it’s worth it because I’m afraid it will just come across as, “Look how emotional and touchy Tiffany is.” So if you want to offer advice, feel free. But really I just felt like yelling at my computer, so that I don’t yell at my co-workers.

    TL;DR: People need to stop being embarrassed by the fact that women pump milk from their breasts to feed their children.

    1. Dawn*

      It sounds more like they don’t want to embarrass you in case that’s something that you’d be embarrassed about. Why don’t you just speak directly to the admin and say “Hey, I’m OK with you telling people exactly what that room will be used for and I don’t feel awkward about talking about pumping or breast feeding, FYI.”

      1. Valar M.*

        This. I’ve met mothers on both sides – the ones that find breast feeding embarrassing and dart around the office with pumping items and hiding them behind their backs, and others who just take it matter of factly, and others who want to tell you all about their latest technique or problem with it.

        If I was dealing with an about-to-be-mom and I didn’t have anything to go on, on how she felt about the subject, I’d try to remain as vague and neutral as possible too.

        Just tell her directly and make sure you’re delivery isn’t emotional “Hey, if you want to just tell people I’ll be using that as a nursing room, that’s fine with me!”. .

    2. Sunflower*

      I would talk directly to the receptionist- calmy and nicely. I’m getting the impression she isn’t sure if you want her to tell them. Or maybe she doesn’t want to give a direct answer because she doesn’t want people hawking on her about the unused office space- do people in your office know it’s company policy? If not, I could see people being (unreasonably) up in arms over this. I would just say to her ‘Hi Jane, I’ve noticed a lot of people are asking you about what the unused office is going to be. Feel free to tell them it’s for me to nurse and if they have any questions, they can talk to me(or boss, whoever you’d rather deal with it).’

      1. Anlyn*

        I’d be concerned that if the admin is calling it a “quiet room”, then people are going to want to use it to get away from noise or to take a break, thus making it unavailable for its actual purpose.

      2. Tiffy the Fed... Contractor*

        Good phrasing. I’ll use that. I’ll try to even use the talking calmly and nicely too :)

        1. Connie-Lynne*

          If she *is* personally uncomfortable, or if she wants people not to try to use it as an office or as a place to get away from others, she can call it an “ADA Room.”

          We have these rooms at my office, and in addition to nursing mothers, it’s used by people with medical conditions requiring mid-day rest (like me), and by people with a need to pray at certain times of day. I know that the first two uses fall under ADA “Reasonable Accomodation” requirements, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the third was some kind of first amendment issue.

          I agree that she shouldn’t really be uncomfortable saying “it’s a lactation room,” especially if you aren’t, but there’s no reason to force her to say it if she just gets uncomfortable. Maybe she has a legit reason for being uncomfortable, like some jerkoff at a previous job wouldn’t let up on the boob jokes or something.

          1. Connie-Lynne*

            I’m gonna note that I probably would be tempted to just shout over the wall “I’M GONNA USE IT TO GET MILK OUT SO MY TITS DON’T ACHE ARE YOU COOL WITH THAT?” but I’m crabby today.

    3. Sheepla*

      I’m not really seeing what is making your blood boil here. Isn’t “It’s, um, going to, um, be, um, a nursing room” an accurate statement? The fact that you think she is embarrassed to say it doesn’t reflect on you at all and you have no idea what from her culture or background may make it uncomfortable for her to say.
      Having said that, sometimes there are things that just GET ON MY NERVES and this is a fine place to vent about them.

      1. Tiffy the Fed... Contractor*

        I think it’s more in her delivery. Difficult to capture via a comment section, but it usually involves lowering her voice to a whisper and adding awkward pauses. I think it just happens that this is a very sensitive subject for me, so I am acutely aware of someone making breastfeeding or pumping into something that shouldn’t be talked about in normal tone of voice.

        I’m sure she is just trying to spare herself and those she is speaking with embarrassment. But it just really bothers me that anyone is embarrassed of it at all. Sure, I’m biased and should be understanding, but I’m finding it very difficult.

        1. some1*

          Again, all of that could be because she thinks *you* are embarrassed, not because she is.

          1. Tiffy the Fed... Contractor*

            It’s possible. I just need to talk to her so we can get this solved.

        2. matcha123*

          As a fellow female, I feel incredibly uncomfortable thinking or talking about various body issues. And if I were her, I’d think that you wouldn’t want me loudly broadcasting your business to the office. So, I’d keep my voice down, and because it’s something I personally would not want to talk about, I’d try to get through it as quickly as possible.

          My mom breastfed me and my younger sister, and I was old enough to be there when my mom was feeding my sister and such and so on. But, to me, it seems like an incredibly private thing.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            Yeah, this is where I would be also. OP, I would read your lack of comment about the room as “keep it hush-hush”. My personality is such that I would just ask you your preferences, but she may not think that way.

            Currently, my boss is having situation X going on. It’s been going on a while now and it’s not possible to hide the situation. She just tells people like it is. “I have X going on. It’s been going on a while and it will go on a while longer.” When she talks this way, she has taken the whole thing out of my hands. I do not have to struggle for explanations, I do not have to wonder what she wants people to know and who she wants to know it. And she is role-modeling how she wants me to talk about X.

            It’s refreshing to work with someone who is candid like this. Makes my work day much easier.

      2. Dynamic Beige*

        She may not be 100% embarrassed by the breast milk pumping… but if lots of people are asking about the office, that says to me that space around your office is in demand and they are either expecting a new conference/meeting room or a new office for a new boss — or that they are hoping they can ask for it for themselves and get out of the cube farm. She could be hedging because how do you tell someone who desperately wants their own office that it’s not going to be an office, but a Lactation Room? I mean, I’m not saying you don’t need it or deserve it or won’t use it but I can see how some people might be all “*grumble* stupid pregnant wimmen should stay at home with their kids/why does she get a cube and an office/they’re spending money on this and it won’t be occupied all the time *grumble*”

        I think the thing to do might be to have your manager bring this up at a staff meeting if you have those on a somewhat regular basis. “I’ve been hearing a lot of questions and rumours about what is going to happen to the room we’ve been using for storage… In order to remain compliant with [whatever law is for this], we are converting it to a room for the usage of nursing mothers who have returned to work and need privacy to attend to their needs (or much much better phrasing than that) If you have any questions about this, please see me about it.”

        And when you come back, you might want to bring along a little sign you can hang on the doorknob (if there isn’t a lock on it) that says “privacy” or something like that (a wedge you can jam under the door from the inside). Because you know that people are going to use it for other things when you’re not there and won’t necessarily stop that when you’re back. I can just see someone barging in because they want to use the space for a quick meeting.

        1. afiendishthingy*

          I think you should put the Land O’ Lakes butter lady with the flap that you lift to see her breasts

    4. LizB*

      Do you have a good enough relationship with your admin to mention this to her in an offhand way, and make it sound like she might be doing this for your privacy? “Hey, I’ve noticed that when people ask about that office, it sounds like you’re not sure what to say — I’m fine with it if you just say it’s going to be a nursing room for me when I return from maternity leave! I don’t have any problem with everybody knowing that’s the case. Better to have the whole division on the same page rather than leave people wondering, ya know?” If I were your admin, I’d want to make sure I was respecting your privacy, and might answer awkwardly for that reason. Even if that’s not your admin’s issue, and she’s really just embarrassed, this may give her an idea of a script to use.

    5. Hlyssande*

      We have a ‘meditation’ room in my office. It’s small and has a table and chair in it, and you can use it for sensitive personal phone calls or nursing or praying (as one of our Muslim coworkers does) and it’s saved my butt more than a few times when I needed to sit in the dark a bit during a migraine.

      Your boss may want to consider making that a permanent thing, with a sign on the door that indicates if it’s occupied or not.

      But your boss is also being a butt about it. I can understand that they might not want to blab your business everywhere, though. You might want to talk to her and tell her that you don’t mind if she tells people that you’ll be using it to pump.

      1. Tiffy the Fed... Contractor*

        I could suggest it, but I doubt it would fly. We are federal contractors and have to account for every hour in a time sheet using specific charge numbers. I don’t know what charge number we would use for a meditation room. When I’m pumping, I’m supposed to be working. Part of my company’s nursing policy is to provide a laptop and wi-fi so that work can continue while I pump.

        1. kozinskey*

          OK, I’ll be that person — is that legal? I thought employers were required to provide time & space for nursing mothers, and it seems to me that requiring an employee to work would violate that. Anyone know more about this than I do?

          1. TFS*

            Employers are required to provide time and space to non-exempt employees only, and they are not required to pay you for the time you spend pumping. So if you are exempt or wish to get paid for the time you’re pumping, this is pretty much the only option if it’s what your company insists upon.

            1. fposte*

              And I’m not sure if it covers federal employees, either. Though I’m never clear who technically “owns” you if you’re a federal contractor.

        2. Calacademic*

          If they’re insistent on you working while pumping, invest in some good hardware to keep your hands free. My recollection is I kept a hand free to read the internet, but needed a hand to keep the bottles stable. There are things you can buy so that isn’t true, but I wanted to mention it. (If this is old hat for you, then nevermind. And congratulations!)

        3. Nerdling*

          Ok, that’s a ridiculous policy. If you aren’t allowed to breathe, relax, and stimulate letdown, your pumping sessions are likely to be completely unproductive.

          But, since it’s required, look into a hands-free pumping bra. Preferably one that does both sides at once. It’s the one thing I wish I had gotten when I was in your shoes.

        4. Payroll Lady*

          I would definitely check the law out, I am almost positive that not only does a private area need to be provided, you, as a nursing/pumping mother have to be allowed a certain amount of time (possible unpaid) I know there have been a lot of changes regarding this situation recently, and since I do not have any actively nursing mothers, or pregnant workers at this time, I’m not totally up on that law.

        5. hermit crab*

          I’m a federal contractor too, and we have a space like that in one of our offices. Like at Hylssande’s office, it’s used for pumping or private calls or whatever, and everyone’s fine with it. I mean, if you step out to take a private call, it’s not like that’s billable either, but people still need to do things like that sometimes and it’s good to have a place for them.

    6. Susan the BA*

      It’s possible that the admin is actually worried about you – she doesn’t know how comfortable you are discussing this topic or having it known that this room is being set aside especially for you (assuming you’re the only nursing mom right now), and so she’s trying to give vague answers to avoid putting the spotlight on you. It really might not be about boob anxiety at all, just her trying (unnecessarily but thoughtfully) to protect you from nosy questions.

      Even if that’s not the case, you could pretend it is and say to her “hey, so sorry you’re being put in a position to answer all these questions! just wanted to let you know that it’s totally cool *with me* if people know that I’m using the room for nursing.”

    7. some1*

      Talk to her. Maybe she thinks *you* don’t want people to know.

      “Hey, Jane, I couldn’t help overhearing your conversation with Wakeen. I’m completely fine with you telling anyone who asks that the old storage room is being converted to a pumping room for me when I come back from mat leave.”

    8. LCL*

      And I was the jerk who kept pushing to have the blinds removed from the conference room, because I thought it was an excessive amount of privacy for a conference room that I sometimes used, and only a few people (not me) knew that room had been set up so it could be used for nursing. Since we didn’t have anyone on site who needed it (I know that can change) management was doing something good and preemptive, it just wasn’t discussed with everyone because of embarrassment, I guess.

    9. TFS*

      Does anyone else have trouble with their comments not replying to the post they want them to? Grrrr.

    10. Dr. Doll*

      Put a big sign on the room’s door? Ask the boss if he would mind sending an email to everyone so they stop wasting the admin’s time with questions about the room? Send it yourself, thanking the boss for his support (ask him first)?

      I think what you are reacting to is the admin’s flaky awkwardness and if it was some other issue that she was being this awkward over, it would still be annoying as hell to have to listen to it. The fact that it’s so personal makes it extra annoying.

    11. TFS*

      I’m going to try again to get this comment to post in reply…

      As someone still nursing my nearly three-year-old (something I just don’t mention at all at the office because people would be so damn weird about it), I totally get where you’re coming from. If it was me, I would talk to the admin and just say something like “I know people are often curious about the lactation room that’s being created, and I just wanted to let you know that I’m totally comfortable with people knowing what it’s for and that I will be using it. So if you get questions, don’t worry about making me feel uncomfortable by telling people it’s a lactation room for me.” That might put her at ease about discussing it, and could allow you an opening to suggest what she might say if she’s feeling awkward.

      And I’m really excited for you that your office is being so accommodating (even if they’re bumbling and awkward about it)! :)

      1. TheLazyB*

        Nursing fistbump. My small child is nearly 4. Cutting down now but I think he’ll still be going for a while!

        I have nursed him longer than my mum nursed 3 children. It’s kinda weird.

    12. BG*

      We’ve called that room the “Quiet Room” at my current and last company. It may that is the terminology she is familiar with.

    13. Observer*

      I’m also not sure why your blood is boiling. I’d also probably just tell her that you are ok with people knowing. “Oh, and, by the way, if people give you flack about this use of space, you can tell them it’s company policy and it’s also required by law.”

      This is actually true. Some states have stricter laws than others but basic federal workplace rules require that a company over a certain size (and one that uses more than one building qualifies!) needs to provide a space where a woman can pump uninterrupted. Link in the next post

        1. Judy*

          Although, as shown above, that is in the FLSA, so anyone who is exempt is not required to do this.

    14. Brett*

      “What the hell is a quiet room!?”
      Our accreditation require us to have a quiet room. It is a soundproofed room with nothing by two soft chairs (no lights even) for 911 operators to sit in if they have a traumatizing call. Not sure what your admin is thinking calling that a quiet room….

  18. SuperIdentifyingPost Anon*

    I’m so upset. Money was taken out of my purse within the last few days.

    I’m 90% sure it happened last night at work. And unfortunately fairly certain it was the cleaning staff….but not 100%. We’ve had other things go missing — tickets that people win that are put in their mailbox in a sealed envelope. Coffee mugs, blankets, clothes. Never money that I know of.

    They left two dollars and my canadian currency that I’ve been too lazy to convert. I had maybe 50 dollars in there, but I’m not sure because I literally never use cash except to get my nails done (guess what I doing this weekend!). My hidden emergency 20 is gone too, but honestly that could have been me being drunk at the casino promising to replenish it…but I am not convinced.

    I told my manager, froze my credit cards…but I don’t think there’s anything else I can do. I left my purse unattended for an hour after hours while in a meeting. I just feel SO violated. It was probably less than 100 dollars, but I have a wedding next week and was saving money to go out to eat with my friends, drinks, pay for the bride to get HER nails and feet done.

    What do you guys do with purses and wallets when away from your desk? My cabinets have locks but who knows where the keys are.

    1. Rebecca*

      I just leave my purse under my desk. We have a small office, and to my knowledge nothing has ever disappeared from a purse here. My coworkers are unable to make coffee, change toilet paper or paper towel rolls, or report that we’ve used the last ream of copier paper, but they are very honest.

    2. Dawn*

      Do you need your wallet while you’re working? Could you leave all your valuables in your car while at work and just take in chap-stick and phone (which will always be in your pocket)? Sucks that this is happening to you. I would definitely keep following up with your manager and talk to your co-workers because if the building staff is stealing stuff this is a major issue that needs to be addressed immediately!

      1. SuperIdentifyingPost Anon*

        Leaving it in my car is an option I guess. Sometimes my coworkers might decide to get food, so then I’d have to run out to my car to get cash if I have any or a credit card. I have two phones — work and personal and they don’t fit in my pockets. Not to mention I wear dresses fairly often.

    3. HeyNonnyNonny*

      That SUCKS. When I started my job, I was told to keep things away or locked up because someone had gone around stealing recently. I’ve always been fine with putting my purse and cell phone in a drawer or buried under papers, but most people will lock everything up in a drawer.

      This might sound stupid, but check all your desk drawers and cabinets for the keys. I found mine lurking in the back of a random drawer when I moved in.

    4. Beezus*

      Take a look at MrLock dot com – they sell replacement keys for office furniture. You could also get replacement keys from the manufacturer most of the time. I have reason to know. It’s not terribly difficult or expensive.

      I leave my purse in an unlocked drawer. However, in the past, we had incidents of things going missing during evacuations (fire drills/severe thunderstorms where taking shelter is advised.) I take my purse with me now, if something like that happens.

    5. Anie*

      I’m so grateful I don’t deal with these types of issues! I went into a 2 hour meeting last week and when I returned to my desk (which is a cube opening up to a main walkway), I realized I’d left my wallet out right at the end of the desk near the opening. Nothing missing. I frequently get up and wander away without phone or ipad or purse. sounds irresponsible, but that’s just my office culture–no one’s going to touch it.

      BUT! I do know our night cleaning crew is untrustworthy. The floor below mine has a card reader of some kind. They got a fraud report early one morning saying someone was trying to run a bunch of cards through it at 10 the night before, so they turned off access in the machine (Similar to a bank locking an account if something comes up fishy). Obviously the office was long closed and the only people with access would have been the cleaning crew. Unfortunatly, the cleaning company did nothing and insisted it wasn’t their worker.

      1. ThursdaysGeek*

        Yeah, one of my coworkers leaves his wallet, often stuffed with cash, out on his desk every day. I can’t imagine anyone stealing anything from it.

    6. lionelrichiesclayhead*

      I would speak with your manager, HR, or the front desk staff to see if there is a way for you to get keys for your cabinets or somehow install a new lock with keys. A couple times a year, our front desk staff checks with the entire company to find out who doesn’t have keys for their desks/cabinets and makes arrangements to have replacement keys made available for those that need them. It’s worth checking into since ANYONE, maintenance staff or coworkers or visitors, could be less than honest when confronted with a purse or other valuables left out in the open.

      I’m sorry this happened to you and I hope you find a solution.

    7. Marzipan*

      If you don’t have the keys to a filing cabinet/pedestal drawer type setup, you can get new ones just from the number on the lock; you don’t need the actual key.

      1. SuperIdentifyingPost Anon*

        Hmm, it has a letter and 3 digits on the lock but the filing cabinet doesn’t seem to have a brand name or anything to identify

    8. The IT Manager*

      Hmmm … in my old office, I think it was recommended that we lock our valuables in our cubical cabinets (we all should have had the keys). But I usually just left my purse on a low shelf – not very visible but not locked away.

      If I were you, I’d try to find those keys and lock my purse up in the future. I am sorry that you’ve found out that people who frequent your office are not trustworthy. That feeling sucks.

    9. Muriel Heslop*

      I have started bringing just a small crossbody into the office for keys, phone, ID. Just the basics and it’s small and easy to stash if I am away.

      1. Judy*

        Me too. I carry a small “essentials” purse most of the time, and then have a larger one I use sometimes when I’m out with the family.

        My purse has my keys, phone, ID, credit cards, money, a pen and a chapstick. It’s actually a “wristlet” that also has a removable crossbody strap.

        1. cuppa*

          I do this too due to a purse snatching near by.

          I used to put my purse in an unlocked drawer in my office. Oddly enough, the only place where I’ve dealt with personal item theft was in a corporate law firm where we dealt with a lot of confidential issues and needed card access to any of our floors. Go figure.

    10. Kyrielle*

      I just leave mine in an (unlocked) drawer – but I’m realizing how lucky I am.

      I start a new job after Memorial Day – wonder what the best approach will be there. Hmm.

    11. matcha123*

      I took that stuff with me. If I left my purse in my desk drawer, I’d take out my wallet and cell phone and take them with me to whatever room I needed to be in. The office I was at at that time had cards you had to beep to get in and out, and it was a small office, but still. Trust No One.

    12. Kelly*

      My sister worked as a server a what passed as a high end dining establishment in South Dakota for a couple years between undergrad and grad school. It was attached to a hotel/convention center. There were no secure places for the servers to put their personal possessions in the building. Even keeping them in the trunk of their cars wasn’t an ideal option because the staff parking lot wasn’t well lit and most of them worked past midnight. She got to the point where all she took with her into the building was her coat, phone, and car keys after a co-worker had cash stolen from her wallet. The co-worker suspected it was one of the hotel’s cleaning crew that stole her money. She went to her manager and bought it to their attention.

      1. Natalie*

        This happened at the restaurant I worked at – the only place for the servers and cooks to put their stuff was in a literal pile behind my chair at the cash register. We had a cook briefly who apparently spend most of him time figuring out how to steal, including realizing that he could punch in as me while I was doing dishes and then open the drawer. I was nearly fired until he got caught rifling through someone’s purse.

      2. Anx*

        What gets me about working in a restaurant is there is a usually a dress code or a uniform that isn’t warm enough to commute in, but there’s safe place to keep your coat.

    13. ali*

      I have an old-fashioned man wallet and I carry it in the back pocket of my pants all day, just like the guys do.

      Until today when I actually had to wear dress pants. Women’s dress pants don’t have pockets big enough for my wallet! Argh. So since I don’t have a purse, I put it in my laptop bag, which is in my cabinet (not locked). My keys (also usually in a pocket) are sitting out on my desk though, but I don’t forsee anyone stealing them.

      This works for me because I wear jeans every day and am one of very few women in a male-dominated tech department. None of the men thinks it’s odd at all, and the women who have noticed comment that it’s really smart.

    14. "The same thing you are."*

      I rarely carry more than $100 on my person. Call me weird or whatever, but if someone went to the trouble to steal a small amount of cash off of me – I’d mostly feel really, really sorry for them. I might be unhappy, I’d for sure report it, etc. But mostly I’d be giving thanks that I and my family are not reduced to such measures.

    15. SuperIdentifyingPost Anon*

      Good news! Facilities just came over to get my cabinet lock number to see if they have a key. If they don’t have a key, they’re ordering me one for my cabinets.

      Unfortunately I’m still out the money, but luckily everyone here seems really concerned about it!

      1. catsAreCool*

        I wonder if it would be legal or would be OK with management if you left something that looked valuable on your desk (maybe an envelope marked “petty cash” or something) that when opened would squirt out some paint or something to catch the person? Or maybe would be noisy? Maybe that would be considered inappropriate, but if only a thief would open it…

  19. TotesMaGoats*

    Waiting on the job offer call today. Hoping it comes today. I’ve done the background check and they’ve checked in with me twice. I know I’m their selected candidate because they told me they’ve sent my paperwork to HR. The wait is killing me!

    While I’m not getting a bump in salary, I got them to exceed their budgeted amount for the position. They are meeting my salary. I know this is salary is at the very top of the range for the position and above range for the institution.

    Fingers crossed!

    1. Steve G*

      Fingers crossed but it sounds like this one is pretty much in the bag. Good luck!

  20. Dang*

    So I’ve been in my new job for just over a month now. I like it and feel like it’s going well but I don’t feel like I’m doing GREAT. And I don’t see how I will down the line either, if that makes sense.
    Is this impostor syndrome? Feeling completely average and not knowing how to get to the point where I feel like I’m doing a great job? Obviously I want to succeed in this role, and things are still coming together and starting to make sense… so I should cut myself some slack, right?

    Anyone dealing with this too?

    1. Dawn*

      I’m in the exact, EXACT same boat. I think it just takes time to build a rapporteur with a new company and get to know the ins and outs of how everyone works and communicates. For me what’s helpful is to go to my manager after I finish every project and say OK let’s spend 10 minutes talking about that, how it went, what you liked and didn’t like, and anything that you would want to see differently in the future. Make it obvious that you want to succeed and go out of your way to communicate that- show your manager that you’re actively working towards success and towards getting comfortable with your new position. And yeah, cut yourself some slack! No one is going to be perfect after only a month on the job. Just make sure you’re learning, not getting complacent, and communicating as much as possible.

  21. The IT Manager*

    So a home office question as we enter summer.

    Apparently my IT equipment generates a lot of heat. I mean, know that it’s a fact and server rooms need heavy air conditioning, but I had not realized that the reason my old home office was so hot was simply the heat my laptop and monitor kicks off. But I just moved and my new home office room is just as much hotter than the rest of the house as my old home office was. I don’t want to run the AC for the whole house just to make my office comfortable because of cost and because I don’t want to freeze when I knock off work at the end of the day.

    I actually don’t mind it if the room temperature is around 78 degrees (I work in shorts and t-shirts), but by afternoon the room temperature is getting up between 80 – 82. I don’t like the fan or AC vent blowing on me cooling me down below that. Any suggestions? Has anyone bought some kind of free standing A/C or fan that works for this problem? (I am not adding a window unit to the room.)

    I don’t my equipment damaged and I don’t want to have to cool down the whole house to deal with keeping the office cool.

    1. Catherine in Canada*

      Are you in an apartment or a house? In some houses we’ve lived in, we’ve moved the office to the basement in the summer time.

    2. danr*

      If you have windows in the room, open them up a bit on the top and bottom at night to take advantage of the cooler air. You can also get a fan that fits in the window and set it to blow in at night. (holmes and bionaire are two makes). This works until the night time temps are in the high 70s (f), but by that time you’ll be on AC anyway. Also, get some general circulation fans going. A larger floor fan will move a lot of air on low. Set it blowing away from you, out the door to the rest of the house. As for equipment damage… temps around 90+ (f) with high humidity start causing problems.

      1. BRR*

        I love my window fan. You can also point it out so it’s blowing the hot air in the room out and should in theory then suck cooler air from the rest of your house into the room.

    3. Bea W*

      Get a laptop “chill pad”. It’s just a base with a couple fans in it that run off a USB port. This really helps dissipate the heat.

      The trick is to make sure there is enough air circulation around your equipment. Having a fan blow on your equipment will help dissipate the heat. If you have a laptop, using one of those “chill pads” under it helps. If you have a desktop or a server, check that the internal cooling/fans are adequate. Installing additional fans helps. Check that there is enough space around them for air movement and all vents are free of dust and pet fur. If you have pets, I recommend opening things up and cleaning out the fur. It tends to accumulate in some of the heat sinks and get all up in the fans. For a laptop, you’ll have vents in the side and possibly the bottom. Check those for fur and dust.

      1. Development professional*

        Yup, this is the answer. it’s not about the fan blowing on you. You need the fan to blow hot air away from the vents on your equipment.

    4. Phyllis*

      There are room-sized portable ac units. You can buy them by BTU size to meet your needs.

    5. AVP*

      I can’t have an AC in my bedroom because the window is a fire escape, so I got a Honeywell Tower fan and it does a pretty good job. I don’t know if it would cool down a full room, but if you directed it straight at the eq it should make a significant difference. It barely makes any noise, which I like because I find fan noise distracting generally.

    6. Observer*

      Why not a window unit? It’s generally the best bet. The free standing units generally do NOT work as well.

    7. INTP*

      If you can leave your office door open and still have enough room to concentrate, maybe have a box fan pointing *out* of the office into the hallway. It will suck the hot air out of the room without blowing it on you. Crack the windows for some fresh air to draw in if it’s cool outside.

    8. Hlyssande*

      Can you open the windows and wedge a box fan in to get some air moving? That’s what I do in my apartment that only has windows on the outside wall. If you do that, can you leave the door to the office open for air flow purposes? It doesn’t have to be blowing on you, but any air movement would be better than none.

      Alternately blackout curtains may cut down on the heat.

    9. Kyrielle*

      The free-standing ACs that have a hose that go to the window work pretty well. However, if you have an option for one that can also pour its water out the window (not sure if that’s a thing, even), I’d take it. Because emptying the water trays was always my least favorite part, and I can’t imagine that carrying them past computer equipment while trying not to slosh/spill would make it better.

    10. Dana*

      I have a freestanding unit that I actually don’t know the name or manufacturer of, but it has two hoses that you stick in the window. I have a chinchilla that has to be kept under 80 degrees but I hate air conditioning the whole house. We had it set for 66 I think all last summer and it worked like a charm. It’s loud, though.

    11. Gene*

      The cooling pads for laptops only serve to more efficiently cool the laptop, the heat load to the room is the same. We have no full-house AC, so for the three nights a year we need cooling beyond what a window fan provides, we have a portable AC unit that cools just the bedroom. Make sure you get one that vents the hot air outside, some just blow cold air out the front and hot air out the back and actually heat room more than not having it there.

    12. FatBigot*

      What kind of work are you doing? If it is just document preparation & e-mail, then a modern computer should not use a great deal of power. Could you reduce the amount of power consumed, and hence rejected to the room as heat, by turning off background processes, video effects, making sure it goes to sleep when not in use, turning down the monitor brightness etc?

      A plug top power monitor will allow you to measure the actual consumption.

  22. Holly Olly Oxen Free*

    How long after starting a new job is it appropriate to request a day off? I relocated and my husband and daughter are still living in old city. By the time they join me I’ll have been working here 2 1/2 months. I’d like to ask for the Friday and Monday surrounding the weekend of the move. Is it too early?

    1. cali_to_carolina*

      It certainly can’t hurt, especially because it’s related to relocation.

    2. Karowen*

      Yeah, I think as long as you give them an obvious out and are okay with taking it unpaid if necessary, they’ll be fine. If it were for a random trip you wanted to take it’d probably be different, but as cali said it’s to cement your life in your new location, which your new bosses probably want you to do.

    3. BRR*

      Normally there is a policy whether written or unwritten. However in this case I think it’s perfectly ok to ask.

    4. Holly Olly Oxen Free*

      Oops. Hit submit by accident.

      Ok! I think I will ask then. We do have a really liberal “unlimited” vacation policy. Between that, sick & personal days, and holidays, they encourage about 44 days off per year. I just didn’t want to take advantage of it so early on. It feels weird to ask for time off right now, but in this case it sounds like you guys think most management would be ok with it.

    5. TalleySueNYC*

      Most jobs I’ve had, the time-off threshold is specified quite clearly I’ve worked places where you have to be there a year to get vacation, and 6 months for personal days.

      But also, most jobs I’ve had, the people I work with would be OK with fielding a request, and would grant it based on the excuse, often even if it was technically against policy. Your reason, especially because it is so closely related to your job/move, would be fine.

      So I agree, ask.

  23. Gwen Soul*

    Anyone get paranoid when they leave on maternity leave? I know my workplace is awesome and really supporting as well as my direct boss. Others have come back no problem, the company just expanded benefits to give us paid leave on top of disability, so I know this is totally my own issue. I have been here six years and I just keep thinking they will realize they really don’t need me. Partly because I have all the processes smoothed out now that my job really isn’t all that busy anymore. I have gone from 50-60 hour weeks to having time to surf the internet a few hours a day most days. Anything I can do to not freak out?

    1. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Sounds like impostor syndrome. YOU arranged/organized everything for a smooth transition with enough time to have everything in place already even if you (FSM forbid) deliver a bit early, so I bet your manager(s) appreciate your effort, rather than seeing you as slacking off.

    2. TalleySueNYC*

      Yeah, if you’ve gotten so smooth, will those processes run without you? I bet not. So they’ll notice when you’re gone.

  24. AFT*

    Any thoughts on seasonality of the job market? I’ve been looking around and not seeing many jobs posted in comparison to around 6 months ago. Could also be a symptom of being in Minneapolis where our job market was flooded with 1,700 awesome Target employees recently, but I’m just curious if there is a general seasonality to the job market.

    1. Sunflower*

      Depends on the industry. I think a lot of companies slow down during the summer. People take off more, business slows down a little bit so that could be why you aren’t seeing a lot being posted right now. It also depends on a company’s fiscal year and when their budgets come out.

    2. Ali*

      I am wondering the same thing after having three interviews scheduled this week. One of the places I interviewed with mentioned their fiscal year starting July 1, so I think maybe that’s part of it, as well as employers wanting to fill spots before too many vacations happen.

    3. TheExchequer*

      There definitely is. Obviously, there are a lot more jobs around the holiday season. And there tends to be more jobs around summer too (new grads, vacations, etc). And it can vary by sector. Tax/Accounting jobs are high in January and mid-March through April.

    4. TCO*

      I know a lot of those Target employees got hired elsewhere pretty quickly (and Target even rehired some of them) but it’s probably contributing to a shortage for certain skill sets. The economy is healthy here–you’ll find a job eventually! Seasonal ebbs and flows probably vary by sector, but Minnesotans try to cram so much fun/vacation into the short summer that I can imagine that some would not place a priority on hiring and training new employees in June.

    5. Sunshine Brite*

      I would also say depends on the industry. I feel like social work always ebbs and flows with more around December and May/June when graduation happens and when people up and change. Also, hello from another Minneapolis AAMer

    6. Jake*

      I work construction and seasonality is huge.

      Winter- only replace office folks

      Spring-good companies stock up like crazy,

      Summer-good companies hire field replacements as necessary, bad companies panic and realize they should have hired in the spring and make bad hires out of desperation.

      Fall- new grads and office folks get hired so they’ll be trained and ready for the next summer.

  25. Retail Lifer*

    Aside from outside sales and insurance, is there any other kind of job that you’d consider someone with only retail management experience for? Because I’m striking out HARD everywhere I’m trying. I’ve been applying to HR jobs for years (it’s what my degree was in but never had any luck) and I’ve been trying for admissions reps jobs as well but I can’t get a call back from anyone. I’ve applied to a bunch of recruiting jobs but the only responses I got back were from places that required a ton of travel and I’m not interested in anything but occassional travel. I’ve had a rare opportunity in another field here and there (assistant property manager for a company that somehow didn’t require a real estate license, a job at a staffing agency. The problem with those was they would require a huge pay cut that would leave me unable to pay my bills. I’m out of ideas.

    1. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I would think you could do any customer service job once you’ve proven yourself in retail, and by working your way up to management, it shows you weren’t just adequate, you knew the job very well. Maybe bank teller? You’ve probably handled money, too, so they know you’re used to that.

      1. Retail Lifer*

        Too much of a pay cut. I’m in about the only position (that I can think of) that will pay me more than $12 for the few skills I have.

        1. Dasha*

          Some customer service positions pay a lot more than $12, it really depends on the company/industry. I’ve seen some CSRs/Inside Sales Reps make a pretty decent salary and it could be a way to get your foot in the door.

          1. Retail Lifer*

            I haven’t seen any CSR positions that pay well. Do you have a suggestion for what industries might pay well?

            I really can’t deal with the instability of a job that pays mostly commission so I was avoiding inside sales jobs. Any thoughts on something that might have a good base pay and only pay a small portion of commission?

            1. The Cosmic Avenger*

              State or city agencies often need frontline phone staff that simply can look things up for the general public and eventually get to know the common problems or issues that people call about. It’s still a call center, but IMO they’re less stressful than commercial call center or retail jobs.

              1. Retail Lifer*

                I keep applying to these. It would actually be a manageable pay cut. If only someone would call me back…

                1. The Cosmic Avenger*

                  Remember, these types of jobs can take many months just to schedule interviews. But once you get an interview, I expect they’ll realize how awesome you are and fall all over themselves trying to hire you.

                  Unless they’re idiots, in which case you dodged a bullet!

            2. Dasha*

              Well, it depends on what you consider good pay. I’ve worked at several companies were CSRs were salaried employees with benefits and made more than $12 an hour. I’ve also worked at a company were inside sales was basically customer service and was not dependent on bonuses. These were also salaried employees with benefits. The pay wasn’t amazing but it was a decent job.

              1. Dasha*

                I think maybe you need to look for reputable companies and not look for those more retail CSR positions like at a hotel or something. Hope that helps!

            3. Pipes*

              Check out technology companies that sell business-to-business. You could certainly look at IBM or the like, but I’m thinking companies that are not day to day names for most of the public such as Avaya, Juniper, Cisco, HP, Dell, Aruba, etc. Each of these companies have resellers / partners that actually sell their business, too, and most of these partners would probably be a bit easier to get a job in vs the companies themselves. I work for one of these major companies as an inside sales person and make six figures a year; 30% of my pay is commission with 70% being base. So even if I have a terrible year, I’m still making a decent chunk of money. Most partners / resellers don’t pay that much, but most stay away from the commission only basis.

    2. Joey*

      What kind of retail?

      Whenever I hire my professional hr folks I always see retailers and I don’t get why? If you haven’t been in an entry level HR role it’s really hard to get into a professional position. I realize that’s probabaly a cut in pay but its super important to understand the black and white stuff before you get into the grey of HR. Recruiting jobs at staffing companies are a good foot in. You’d probably have an easier time applying for admin or HR jobs at retail companies.

        1. Retail Lifer*

          They all seem to require site visits and I take public transportation. Is it possible that some agencies wouldn’t require that?

          1. Joey*

            Yes. Some you just sit in an office talk to people over the phone, do some in person interviews and make rare visits to high volume customers.

      1. some1*

        +1. Or sign up at a temp agency and emphasize you are hoping to get placed in an HR Dept – they have a need for temps, too.

        1. Retail Lifer*

          I’d consider if it was a temp-t0-hire.

          Literally the ONLY call I’ve ever gotten for an HR job I applied to was for a temp job covering someone’s maternity leave. The experience would have been great but then what do I do in a few months with no job and insurance?

          1. doreen*

            My daughter just got a job in recruiting at a large medical center – but she didn’t get hired straight into that position. It came from an assignment through the center’s in- house temp program. It’s steadier work than an regular temp agency.

      2. Retail Lifer*

        Clothing stores, big box, a beauty supply wholesaler…I’ve done just about everything in retail.

        The entry-level HR jobs are just too much of a pay cut so I’ve given up on that. I realize it would be ridiculous to think I could just walk into a higher paying position without some experience first. There are several big retailers with their headquarters in the city where I live, but I can’t get my foot in the door with any of them.

        1. Sunflower*

          My friend is in a similar spot where she is in operations and trying to get into HR. I’m thinking there’s probably a lot of competition since HR tends to be one of the only normal hours jobs

        2. Joey*

          i don’t know if you qualify but getting your PHR would show companies that you’re not just another retailer who thinks she’s qualified for a professional HR job. They test on all facets of HR, not just the ones you see as a manager.

        3. Sunshine Brite*

          Is it too much of a stretch to start saving up to try and take a pay cut? Coming in at entry level is one of the easier ways of breaking into a new industry and I’m sure harder at the higher levels.

          1. Retail Lifer*

            It is. We’re talking a $6000 pay cut. I can’t make that work.

            I don’t have kids, I take public transportation, and I don’t go out and do much. My expenses are pretty minimal but I have some debt and student loans and there’s no way I can keep up on so much less.

      3. Sunflower*

        My friend started out of college at a staffing company. She didn’t make much the first 6 months- it’s kind of a trial period but afterwards, she got a major pay bump plus bonuses. 4 years later, she’s a director there and out of all my friends, is the most financially secure. So definitely worth a look at!!

    3. Jennifer*

      Unfortunately, the trend these days seems to be that you can only get hired for jobs you’ve already done before–stretch jobbing just isn’t happening. I don’t get calls for anything because I want out of what I currently do, and it’s not like it’s something easily transferable elsewhere. And the similar jobs I’ve seen at similar institutions are even more crazy stressful overload than what I’ve got now–like we have 3-4 people doing the jobs here that they want one person to do!

      I don’t know if it’s you, but that seems to be the trend in general.

      1. Retail Lifer*

        Definitely seems to be the case. I’m both miserable AND in a dying industry, though, so I have to figure something out.

    4. Tagg*

      Try looking at hospitals and large healthcare organizations in your area. There are quite a few entry level positions that pay decently. When I moved to a new city to escape a toxic work environment (yes it was that bad), I applied to every position I felt I could do based on the job description, even if I didn’t really know what the position was (job titles can be a bit weird in healthcare). I started as a registrar for labs and xrays (as a “Patient Access Representative I”), and I’ve moved into a sort-of-receptionist-slash-office-manager position (as a “Customer Service Specialist”). The nice thing about hospitals is that there’s always somewhere to move into, and (at least in my experience) they’re generally really good about helping you move positions within the organization. Also, the health insurance is good :)

      1. Retail Lifer*

        I’ve skimmed a few postings for hospitals but never looked very hard for jobs there. I’ll look into this. Thanks!

      2. Geek Girl*

        This is good advice. I have worked in health care for over a decade, most of that in various positions in hospitals. The “Patient Access” jobs will use a lot of your retail skills (working with the public, providing good service), but it is definitely not retail. If you are bright and motivated and do well, you can find all kinds of opportunities. There are lots of “hidden” jobs or jobs that people don’t think about in hospitals that pay at least as decently as retail and have the benefits of working in a hospital (lots of opportunity, actual benefits, etc.) – mail room, copy center, all kinds of schedulers and registrars, many different levels of clerical/administrative roles.

    5. Alex*

      Check around the internet for Account Coordinator, Client Development, Customer Success type positions. Many of these can be home-based as well, and usually pay quite well even when a portion is commission-based. A good path for you would also be to look at corporate jobs at the company you work for, and/or your competing companies or other companies in a similar product vertical. For example, I used to work at a cell phone store, and a TON of people there went to work at Best Buy or Target corporate. Check to see if there are any Sales Operations, Sales Marketing, Channel Management, Brand/Product Management, etc. A lot of these will have a sales component but often not a “hard” quota, so your paychecks won’t fluctuate as much.

      Another option would be to look at companies that promote from their retail management staff, and try to switch to one of those companies.

      Good luck!

      1. Retail Lifer*

        I’ll look into those job titles. Aside from Account Coordinator, I’ve never looked at a job posting for any of those positions. Thanks!

        1. rPM*

          Agree with looking for customer support related roles, which can be listed under all sorts of titles. You might try looking for that type of position within a higher-paying industry since you’re looking for a pay bump as well. I’m in the startup / tech world and we frequently consider candidates with retail-only backgrounds for our non-technical, entry-level customer support roles. It’ll vary a lot by company and geography but the positions I see typically pay $14-16+ depending on experience, and often have opportunities down the line to grow into areas like project or account management.

        2. Retail Lifer*

          These *all* seem to require travel, but I’ll keep looking for other things with these titles.

    6. BAS*

      I worked retail for 3 years as a personal shopper and now am in HR. I’m sorry you’re stuggling so much to find something to get out!

    7. Felicia*

      Member services at any professional association. That is about a third of what I do, and I think someone with a retail management background would be great at it.

  26. LizB*

    I had a phone interview yesterday (YAY!) that I think went… okay? I applied for one position, and they wanted to interview me for that position plus two more, so my answers were a little garbled sometimes — it’s hard to talk about why you’d be a good fit for three different roles! They also stumped me with a question about my long-term career goals, which I haven’t spent enough time thinking about and hadn’t prepared a good answer for. But the jobs all sound great, the work environment and benefits sound AMAZING, and I’m really hoping they want to move forward with me. 2-3 weeks until I hear back! Are you supposed to write thank-you notes or emails for phone interviews?

    I also got the nicest rejection email I’ve ever received. The hiring manager said they were looking for someone with more experience with X (which I knew I was a little short on, so fair enough), but she enjoyed reading my cover letter (yay!) and would keep me in mind in the future. She also suggested that I check out two other organizations in their area of the field that are often hiring, which I thought was very nice of her. So, all in all, not a bad way to get turned down.

    1. Slpm*

      I also got a pretty awesome rejection phone call today. They highlighted how close a decision it was, how impressed they were and forwarded my information to 2 other hiring managers (one with unposted listings) within the company.

  27. SoBurnedOut*

    Does anyone have experience dealing with intimidation from a former employer? For regular readers of open thread, my saga continues! I quit my job three weeks ago, and two days after my last day, my former boss sent me a termination agreement asking me to sign it. It contains a one-sided non disparagement clause and asks me to sign away my rights to sue them. I’ve ignored it, but after a week I started getting daily calls from him. After I blocked his number, he got a member of our board of directors to start calling and texting me. I’ve blocked him, too.

    Since then, they’ve been trying to use the new hire to get through to me. I sent the upper management an email saying, “Thanks for following up. I decline to sign this form and do not wish to discuss this further.” I got 10 missed calls from different numbers today, all tracing back to the old office.

    I no longer want to engage them AT ALL, but can’t afford a lawyer. Is there anything I can do to stop them from continuing to contact me, even after I’ve asked them to stop?

    1. SoBurnedOut*

      To add some more color as to why they might be so insistent on having me sign this document, one of the many reasons why I’d quit was because of how angry they became when I brought up the possibility of employee misclassification. I thought it would be helpful if I’d approached my former employer instead of going straight to the IRS and Dept of Labor, especially since there were multiple former employees who were affected.

      Instead, they became really angry and told me I was being unreasonable. I was even accused of trying to force a retroactive raise by doing this (I REALLY wasn’t. I knew and had accepted the low pay going in to the job, thinking it would be balanced out by the learning opportunity).

      The termination agreement said that they would reclassify me only if I signed the agreement. As far as I understand, that means the agreement would have no teeth anyway, because that reclassification is something they’re legally obligated to do. At this point, I think I’ll just go straight to the IRS and submit my SS8 form, then hop on over to the Dept of Labor.

      In all honesty, though, I really just want to be left alone so I can concentrate on finding a new job and pivoting my career. I don’t want severance from them– I very much just want them to leave me alone so I can move on. I’m really disappointed and kind of shaken that this was how things played out.

      1. Observer*

        One ting is for sure. No “non-disparagement” clause can keep you from reporting mis-classification or the like to the IRS or DOL.

      2. Apple Basket and Oranges*

        I say go to the dept of labor, and IRS as you plan.

        Do you still have all the phone calls from the office? Are they leaving you a ton of messages? Be sure and save this contact.

        I would answer next time they call. Avoidence isn’t helping here, and if you want to move on and not deal with these people anymore you need to address them directly. Answer the phone and say something like this. Rehearse with a friend if you have to. Perhaps have that friend stay with you for the call so you can focus on them and not the voice as you speak.

        Work calls and asks about the cease and desist letter. You interrupt them and firmly say:

        You need to cease and dissest this harrasing contact immediately. If you continue to harrass me I will go to the police. This is your last warning. No one from this company is to contact me again.

        And then hang up. If they call again, go to the police and file a harrasment charge.

      3. College Career Counselor*

        I’ve seen a couple of non-disparagement clauses–they are obviously to protect the company, but usually there isn’t any point to them if you’re not also getting something as well (severance pay, continuation of insurance, etc.). I’ve not been following your particular situation, so I’m not aware of the details. But, it does seem to me that a non-disparagement agreement AFTER you’ve already formally quit is like closing the barn door after the horse has left. I don’t know how long you were there or anything, but you can always push back on adding language that prevents THEM from disparaging YOU. There are obviously ways around this (is anyone there a potential reference for you?), but if you wind up signing it, push for language that protects you to some degree.

        ObDisclaimer: I Am Not A Lawyer

    2. Bee Eye*

      Seems to me that if you no longer work for them then you are under no obligation to do jack squat. They should have made you sign that while you were still employed by them. Perhaps you could file a police report for phone harassment or something along those lines?

        1. SoBurnedOut*

          Would I be able to do this without seeing any of them in person? I haven’t filed anything with the IRS or dept of labor, or claimed accrued paid vacation pay (I’m in CA) because I’d rather just put this FAR behind me than have to see them at a hearing. I’m starting to get anxiety attacks over the thought of seeing them. The other day I accidentally found myself walking past the old office and started trembling. I’m not sure how I’d hold up in a hearing.

          1. Retail Lifer*

            If this was an ex-significant-other doing this to you wouldn’t everyone be telling you to seek a protective order?

            Disclaimer: I work at the mall and I am the furthest thing from a lawyer you can imagine.

          2. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

            It depends on your state, and I’m not sure about CA. In many states, you could file the charge without seeing them, but if there is a court date, you would both have to be there at the same time. But the chances are high that they would stop the calls regardless of what happened in court. This is a not a huge legal that would require thousands of dollars in legal fees. A lawyer could probably represent you with just a couple hours of their time (this would address the “holding up in a hearing” concern. It’s pretty unlikely it would go to trial, and might end up just being a way to get their attention.

      1. lionelrichiesclayhead*

        Without really understanding the background information here, I agree that filing a police report, or threatening to, if the harassing phone calls continue would be a good course of action.

        1. catsAreCool*

          I talked to the police once when I was concerned about a semi-stalking incident, and they were kind and very helpful. They might be able to tell you more about your options, especially if you call and ask to make an appointment first.

    3. Sunflower*

      Would you be willing to threaten legal action? Send the same email as above and state ‘Please do not contact me any further. If you do, I will have no choice but to seek legal action’.

      I’ve heard people on here talk about getting a letter from a ‘lawyer’ that won’t actually go anywhere. No clue how this is done but that would for sure get them off their back.

      1. SoBurnedOut*

        I’ve thought about it, but recognize that if they’re crazy enough to pursue something this worthless, they’re crazy enough to escalate things if I so much as suggest it.

        I can’t afford a lawyer, and they know it because they paid me basically minimum wage, and worked me so hard that I didnt have any remaining time to find ways to supplement my income. They have a history of pushing people around.

        1. fposte*

          Are you anywhere near a law school? They’ll often have student-run legal clinics. And around here a lawyer would probably be willing to talk to you for free about this; writing the actual letter would probably be about $25, but even the conversation might be helpful.

          But I think going to the cops is a reasonable move at this point, too.

          1. SoBurnedOut*

            I do, actually! Thank you for the idea. I’ll look into it this afternoon once I send out today’s batch of job applications.

          2. ExceptionToTheRule*

            I was going to suggest this too. I had to threaten sue my non-custodial parent to get the child support owed to me during several years of college (all parties agreed said non-custodial parent would pay the money directly to me while I was in college as that parent’s contribution to my college education). Our crack law school legal clinic drafted the letter for me for no fee and miracle of miracles, a check arrived shortly thereafter.

        2. Malissa*

          You might have a case that a lawyer may take on contingency, especially if there was labor violations involved. I’m sure you could find one to talk to for about half an hour for free.

          1. SoBurnedOut*

            I actually approached three different firms about the misclassification concerns, before I quit. All three said that while I had a case, because my former employer is a nonprofit and only 5 people total were potentially affected, it’s not big enough of a payoff to take on. My best option with the misclassification would be to go straight to the IRS and Dept of Labor.

            I’m not sure what kind of severance might make it worth both a lawyer’s time and mine, but I was getting paid $25k/yr, so it seems unlikely that any package they offer will be sufficiently big.

            1. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

              The Department of Labor is set up, in most cases, for people to be able to access their services without a lawyer. They are pretty user-friendly. I think I would go that route first.

            2. chump with a degree*

              Absolutely contact the State Division of Labor Standards Enforcement. You may not even need a hearing. They are very helpful


    4. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Would you be open to a large severance payment in exchange for signing? If so: “It’s my understanding that the sort of agreement you’re asking me to sign typically accompanies severance payments, but isn’t normally signed outside that context. If you’d like to negotiate severance, I’d be glad to consider it. Otherwise, I don’t see any reason to sign an agreement like this after my work with you has ceased and would like you to stop contacting me.”

      There’s a reason they’re pushing so hard for you to sign; they fear you have a legal claim. Severance and a general release form are the usual way to handle that; they can’t just do half of it.

      1. SoBurnedOut*

        From my experience, I doubt they’ll react well. It’s hard to imagine that they’ll give me enough severance to afford the lawyer to negotiate it and still have some left over to make it worth my time. During my notice period, I got pulled aside a couple times and was told that I’d cost the organization a lot of money and resources to look into my misclassification claims, and that they were disappointed in me for causing such a big distraction about it. I’m afraid I’ll be opening myself up for some kind of damages lawsuit. It *sounds* over the top, but their whole reaction to this has been so over the top that I wouldn’t put it past them.

        Is it silly? I’m smarting from the accusation that I brought all of this up in an attempt to wrest a retroactive pay raise from them. It absolutely wasn’t. Money would be great but I’d rather continue this rice and beans diet and working at DQ indefinitely than be accused of being greedy.

        Once the dust settles and I find a new job, I WILL report them to the IRS and Dept of Labor, because I can’t in good conscience stand by and let them do this to other naive new grads like I was when I came onboard. I don’t want to sign a release that will prevent me from doing that.

        As I understand it, this release might not stop me from doing that anyway, but I don’t want to leave it up to chance and see no reason to further engage them.

        1. Sunflower*

          Wait what? IANAL but I don’t see how they could hit you with a damages lawsuit. Does this fall under retaliation of some sort?

          1. SoBurnedOut*

            I’m not sure! I’ve lost so much sleep over this that I’m not even sure I’m thinking straight anymore…

          2. Elysian*

            Its probably not retaliation without a lawsuit, formal complaint, or an adverse action, but SoBurnedOut, you would almost certainly not be liable to them for an investigation about whether they were properly following the law. That just isn’t a thing. You shouldn’t worry about that.

            1. SoBurnedOut*

              That’s such a relief– thank you for explaining. I’m clearly in way over my head, and it’s starting to look like I need to find a lawyer. Hopefully I can find some legal help at a local law school like fposte suggested.

              1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                Just to be clear: You don’t need a lawyer if your preference is to just ignore all this. They can’t make you sign, and you’re under no obligation to keep responding to them. You can leave this in your past and just move on (and file with your state department of labor over the misclassification if you want, without a lawyer).

                If you do want to negotiate severance, though, then having a lawyer contact them on your behalf could be really helpful.

        2. BRR*

          Asking for a large severance might stop them from contacting you.

          I’m confused (maybe I missed it) why you won’t report them now. That might also stop them from contacting you. Then you can tell them, “I have been advised (don’t have to say lawyer) to not speak to you while you are under investigation for a complaint I filed.” If they’re smart they wouldn’t want to contact you from that point on. Plus once it’s filed the agreement would be worthless I think.

          1. SoBurnedOut*

            I want to concentrate on finding a new job first, since I quit my old job in the middle of my search because the stress of my old job was affecting my health. I’m worried about opening up a long and protracted can of worms that will eat into my ability to find a new position.

        3. Geek Girl*

          I’m a little late to the game here, but this stuck out to me:

          Money would be great but I’d rather continue this rice and beans diet and working at DQ indefinitely than be accused of being greedy.

          There’s nothing wrong with being paid fairly for your work. It isn’t greedy to be paid fairly and in accordance with the law. There’s no benefit to taking some imaginary high road where you would never stand up for yourself and ask for equitable pay and treatment. Even if you WERE trying to wrest a retroactive pay raise – so what? You’re a bad, greedy person for wanting your employer to comply with the law and then to compensate you fairly when they don’t? This is a dumb thing that they are trying to make you feel bad about. Quit taking the bait.

      2. Elysian*

        This. A contract isn’t a contract if you’re only giving something up and not getting anything. Even if it were a severance agreement, you can always refuse the severance payment and keep your rights. It has to go both ways for it to mean anything at all. If you would actually be open to severance, tell them you’d be willing to discuss signing it for a substantial severance payment. Otherwise block their number(s) and consider calling the police/a lawyer. You don’t have to sign it if you don’t want to.

        1. Mpls*

          +1 – they haven’t offered you any consideration, so it wouldn’t be a valid contract.

          Also, IRS employee classification is determined by facts, not by contract. So they can’t offer the employee classification you should have anyway or an employee classification you don’t qualify for as consideration.

        2. Anna the Accounting Student*

          Agreed. Consideration is such a key part of contracts that much was made of it in the basic undergrad business law class required for accounting majors at my school.

      3. Natalie*

        If you do this, make sure you have that severance in ACTUAL MONEY before you sign the agreement and give it back to them. They cannot be trusted one bit.

    5. Jwal*

      Are there any places you could get some free legal advise from? In the UK there are places where people can get some advice from law students or barristers if they can’t afford to hire a solicitor. Or is there an equivalent of Citizens Advice Bureau? If you know you can’t afford legal action but cancome across as knowing exactly what your options are then it might make you stand that you’re in a better situation than you are.

      Otherwise continue to block the numbers =/

      1. Daydreamer*

        This. In most provinces you can get a 30 minute appointment with a lawyer for free or a very reasonable amount (I think it’s $20 in my province) so you can ask legal advice on different issues. Is it the same in the US?

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Depends–some law offices offer a free consultation, but most of the good ones you have to pay. I had to pay $100 to just talk to someone who couldn’t help me for fifteen minutes. :P

    6. Observer*

      Please make a record of all the calls, you responses (and non-responses) and any emails or other correspondence.

      If this does not let up, perhaps you can get a lawyer to send them a nasty-gram. These guys are bullies, and might just back off if that happens.

    7. ThursdaysGeek*

      So, let’s see if I have all of this. You and others were misclassified, and are/were probably due back wages; you had accrued vacation time that was not paid out, which is required in CA; they want you to sign a release form, but are not offering any severance; and they are calling to harass you, getting others to call as well, and are not stopping when asked.

      I think the suggestion of checking for a nearby law school is a good one, but it also wouldn’t hurt to just call a lawyer, and ask if there is a charge for an initial consult. If they are willing to listen to you without an initial charge, it’s worth trying that.

      1. TalleySueNYC*

        accrued wages, misclassification, and unpaid-out vacation time are all things that the Dept of Labor in my state would handle pretty aggressively on behalf of the People of the State of New York, with you as an accidental beneficiary.
        Here in NYState, we take that sort of stuff pretty seriously, and we regard those violations as being more against the People of the State of New York than as against the original victim.

        So you could file the info, tell them the company is harassing you, and move on. They probably wouldn’t even need you to testify against them; this sort of stuff would all be paperwork, probably.

  28. LDT*

    Does anyone have advice for someone trying to get into psychology without a formal background in it? I’m in my early 20s with just a BA in English. Trying to see if I can get into a good masters program for psychology (to eventually move onto a PhD).

    Other than good GRE scores, what else should I know to get accepted to a good program? I’ve tried looking at volunteer positions in relation to psychology — would they take someone like me with no formal background in it?

    Any advice from people more familiar with the field would be awesome!!

    1. INTP*

      What area of psychology? Do you want to do counseling, clinical, or research?

      For clinical and research, you need research experience. Even though most clinical psychologists don’t do research in their careers, the strongest PhD programs focus on it. MA/MS programs almost definitely would focus on it because you can’t actually practice with a masters. You might get into master’s programs without extensive research experience because they can be a bit of a cash cow for universities and often aren’t funded, so they’re much less selective than with PhDs, but it will help you get into the best programs. For clinical, volunteer positions like crisis hotlines might help. For research, they probably won’t care.

      For counseling, then volunteer positions that put you in contact with people will be more helpful. You can also practice with a terminal masters in counseling (MFT).

      1. LDT*

        Actually, the position I’m really interested in in the long-term is to be a jail/prison psychologist. I’ve read different things so I’m not 100% sure on what it takes to get there? But it seems like I would be aiming to become a Clinical Psychologist (masters and then PhD) and work from there. Does that sound right at all?

        The volunteer position I was looking at is actually the volunteer program at the Columbia University Department of Psychiatry. All it says on their webpage is that “interested individuals should set up an interview”…so I’m not sure if I qualify or not?

        1. Sunshine Brite*

          Have you worked in a jail/prison? It’s a very different work environment that in my area would be difficult to get as a first step.

          I would seek work in the direct care mental health field while you build credentials and go to school. Places like mental health group homes and homeless shelters often offer flexible enough work to balance working through a masters with the different internships that are usually required. Start looking at required prerequisites.

          Volunteer programs likely won’t take on someone with no schooling and experience in a psychology specific role because of the legalities and ethics around psychology, but you could find a volunteer position working with the related population like organizations helping ex-felons re-integrate into the community, etc.

    2. Muriel Heslop*

      I work with several psych PhDs and I hire a lot of psychology PhD students for contract work and some of what you are asking depends on what type of psychology program you want to pursue: ed psych, school psych, clinical pysch, industrial/org psych. Everyone seems to have some experience working with people: tutoring, volunteering, TFA, homeless shelters, teaching, etc. It’s not universal, but a definite thread.

      Good luck!

    3. edj3*

      When I wanted to get an MS in industrial/organizational psychology (had a BA in English), I needed to take more stats and more psychology courses in order to meet the admission criteria. So you may want to look into that.

  29. Hunting Hiring Manager*

    I’m looking for some office etiquette advice.

    I’m a director of 15ish person department (depends on how many vacancies). We are going to be expanding in the next year and there’s an employee in another department who I think could be a good candidate for one of the newly created positions. It would be a promotion for him and I’m pretty confident he would be interested. I want to suggest he applies. In this situation, should I reach out to his manager or approach him regarding this position? I’d hate to get him in trouble as it is my idea (it will be a moderately difficult position to fill).

    1. Dasha*

      I think you should reach out to him and see if he’s interested and then give the manager a heads up.

    2. Beezus*

      In my workplace, a manager approaching a lower level person directly about a job opening in another area is Not Done. Managers don’t poach each other’s talent that overtly. You could approach his manager, and his manager could decide whether or not to talk to him about the opportunity. You’d also post the opening internally, so he’d have an opportunity to approach you about it, and you could be very encouraging at that point. It would also be okay for a person from your group who is at a peer level to him now, or would be a peer in the position, to approach him, if you didn’t direct them to do that – that’s just networking and is not frowned upon.

    3. Nanc*

      Hmm, if you’re allowed to hire internally without posting the position, I’d definitely talk to the manager first. You might come up with a plan to help them fill the position if The Guy moves over to your team. Offer to help with recruiting/interviewing, give The Guy time to train a replacement, etc.

      If you do have to post it for all internal candidates, the same might go–letting his manager know you think he’d be a great fit and assuring them that you would work so he could help train a replacement.

      1. Judy*

        I’d say if it is posted for all internal candidates, it would be OK to talk with the person to make sure they know about it. Most places I’ve worked the employee had to talk to their supervisor before applying for an internal promotion, so it’s in their court to decide if they want to apply.

        Based on some past manager interaction I’ve witnessed, I’d not be entirely sure the current manager would pass on the information.

    4. AdAgencyChick*

      Depends very much on your company’s culture and whether this would be viewed as poaching or good career development.

      It might be most politically correct for the employee to officially initiate the conversation after you’ve spoken to him off the record to let him know about the opportunity — you proceed with the job listing as though you didn’t know he was interested, but you know he is (and he applies when the posting goes up).

      Or, if the culture is very welcoming of internal moves, you can talk to him and then talk to his manager if he’s interested.

      If this would be considered poaching and you don’t think the employee can be trusted not to tell his manager, then I think you have to leave him be, but hopefully that’s not the case.

    5. CollegeAdmin*

      At my place, you would have to approach my supervisor first; it’s policy. For my new internal job, the hiring manager sort of went around that by contacting the head of my department, aka my supervisor’s supervisor. The hiring manager then approached me, I went through a confidential interview process, and got the offer.

      At another time, a different (a third) department wanted to recruit me but didn’t want to tell my supervisor for fear of jeopardizing my current job, and office politics. That hiring manager went to HR and had HR encourage me to apply. Sneaky and probably unethical, but so long as it didn’t come back on me, I was okay with that. (The position ended up not being filled so it never mattered.)

  30. Anony Academic*

    Anonymous for this. I’m in academia. I am miserable at my job and am in bitch eating crackers mode. I started midyear and am flabbergasted that it’s gone downhill so quickly – particularly because I tend to be a positive person! I hate that I’m just becoming this bitter person. And a lot of the foundation of this comes from my chair. There are misogynistic things said, racial undertones to why not to hire someone and in our interviews. Ugh. My advisors tell me I should stay another year so I can get a book contract and not burn a bridge. But I just don’t see how I can last two years at this place. It’s affecting my productivity because I often come home crying, and when I get a chance to do work, I can’t concentrate.

    1. fposte*

      What’s your position? You’re talking about a book contract and your chair, which sounds like faculty, but you’re still working with your advisor, so maybe not. Is it a term faculty position, maybe?

      If so, leaving early is a big step with consequences. How much time are you in contact with the chair, and can you minimize it? When you say “mid-year” do you mean mid-academic year, so you have a year and a half left?

      1. Anony Academic*

        It’s a tenure track job. I’m not working with my advisor/dissertation chair, just asking their professional advice. Yes, mid-academic year is when I started

        1. Anony Academic*

          And, I cannot minimize time with chair. We are an extremely small faculty in the department.

          1. fposte*

            Oh, wow. Quitting a tenure track job is a tough thing to do, career-wise. But you also sound really miserable. What generally is okay is if you leave for another job–you’d have to frame the fit problem in a way that makes it clear you’d not be running into that in any new position, and you’d need to keep the search away from your current department.

            But that’s a big challenge in its own right, and in most fields you’ve missed the hiring for the fall. If you felt you had to quit even without a job, would you be able to support yourself for a year? And if this means you ended up adjuncting rather than finding a tenure-stream position, would you be able to roll with that?

            1. Anony Academic*

              Thanks for following up. At this point, I’m willing to wait for the next job market round that starts late summer/early fall, and that would mean one more year at my job. I can take that, if I have an end in sight. What’s frustrating is the advice I’m getting from my former dissertation chair – to wait until not this upcoming job market cycle (2015-16) but the next (2016-17) which would make me have to stay at this job for two years. I don’t think I can handle that. I am also at the point where I’m weighing giving up a tt job for a postdoc, if I also apply to post-docs this fall and get one. From my other former advisor, they think I should wait until the 2016-17 and that I can try and institute change! As a tenure track junior person I will not be able to institute any change, let alone in one extra year.

              1. fposte*

                Longer has its merits–after the third-year review is a common time to move, as you probably know. But if a new job is okay with you only having a year in the position and starting to hunt, then it’s not going to hurt you down the line.

                But if you leave this job and don’t have another position, it can be really, really hard to get back on the carousel. I don’t know your credentials or your field, so I don’t know how hard, but there’s a decent risk of not getting another tenure track position. If this job is ruining your life, it may be worth that risk, but you need to be realistic about future options. Including the fact that, as you probably know, this is pretty much your one leaving opportunity–you have to stick with the next place until you’re a rock star and people are begging you to defect.

                1. Today's anon*

                  Yes, I second this.

                  I don’t know if this would help but can you find allies within your institution that are in your school or college? It could be other faculty members but also professionals who might not be faculty. They may not be able to change things in your particular department (and change in academia can take a loooooong time) but it could make you feel better and less isolated.

                  But if you are this miserable, I’d start applying 2015/16 and see what happens; just be prepared with some explanation as to why you are moving on.

    2. Tired*

      I quit a job that made me cry and I have no regrets. (Fortunately I was able to negotiate severence)

      If you are in a small, close-knit field, future bosses may know the jerk for what he is. If not, you can probably put a positive spin on your story “it turned out not to offer the opportunities I expected” or “I decided to focus my attention on my book”

    3. Jennifer*

      I hear ya. Seems impossible to get out once you’re in unless you get canned, though….

      I just heard an amazingly shitty story yesterday about someone getting fired because they’re obviously an out lesbian and their new boss is a homophobe (also, it looks like the firing wasn’t legal), but then got hired as a part time temp. What?! Especially irritating since this is a very gay-friendly town and I am just flabbergasted that would happen here.

    4. Anon for this*

      I don’t have good advice, but I feel your pain. I’m in bitch eating crackers mode with my job too, and the place is turning me into someone I hate. I hope things turn around for you soon!

        1. Kai*

          I’ll jump in on this, too. I feel nauseated at work lately, I hate this job so much. Solidarity!

    5. Geek Girl*

      For most jobs, “leave and never look back” is good advice. You’re in a very different position, and taking advice from people with jobs in other careers is a bad idea.

      I’d focus on improving your coping strategies and resilience. Go to counseling. Try yoga, pilates, boxing, some kind of exercise. Take long walks in nature. Get a massage.

  31. Amber Rose*

    I just want to vent about a dismissive coworker. Aside from his initial habit of asking questions and interrupting the answers, I now have:

    “Got lots to stare at today?” As I tried to figure out one customer’s extremely complicated invoicing program. Dude, F you, I am not slacking off, I’m studying.

    “You just never want to do anything.” To a coworker who was lightly teasing me about my sword fighting class. Except that she just doesn’t like violence, she does aerobics instead.

    “Make it talk again!” I was being trained on defibrillator maintenance. When you turn it on, it screams at you to attach the paddles, which is both scary and hilarious, but this coworker just kept hovering, trying to get us to activate it again. It was like, dude, I’m trying to train here. Equipment maintenance is vital in a dangerous work environment like ours. Don’t you have work to do?

    There are other examples but this is already long. :/

    1. Sunflower*

      ‘Hey, if you don’t agree with what I do outside of work that’s fine- just don’t talk to me about it. thanks’
      If you need something more direct just say ‘Dude, I really don’t appreciate when you say stuff like that- it makes it seem like I’m slacking off and you know I’m not. Can you just stop?’
      Then there’s always ‘Please do not speak to me about this unless you have something positive to say’

      If you’re dealing with the types who will come back and say’ OMGGSZ I WAS JUST KIDDING DON’T FREAK OUT’, just respond ‘I’m not freaking out, I’m responding to your comments which I assume you were looking for a response since you said something in the first place.’

      1. Amber Rose*

        When he made the comment about staring, I replied with a detailed and probably not entirely called for explanation of the use of and problems with the customer’s AP interface. Starting with how I couldn’t seem to install it properly. It did shut him down pretty quick.

        1. catsAreCool*

          Detailed explanations can be great for getting people to stop asking you unnecessary questions.

    2. Marzipan*

      Hmmm. Maybe try a raised eyebrow (if your eyebrows are co-operative in these matters), a stare, and a very pointed ‘excuse me?’

    3. Anie*

      I raise your vent! I’m having problems with a “joky” co-worker. I’m fine with the occasional teasing, but if I start signaling that I’m not in the mood or it’s coming on too strong, the proper response is to back off and say, “Oh sorry, I was just joking,” NOT continue to lay it on thick and then shout, “Jeeze, learn how to take a joke!”

      Argh. Monday, my boss and I arrived at the same time, so we spent a solid 20 catching up on each others’ weekends. I watched this co-worker literally go from person to person and make comments about how I never shut up. Then he came over and started going on and on about how loud I am and how my mouth hasn’t stopped moving since I walked in. I had to make three comments along the lines of “Can you let this go?” before he finally flipped at me. And now apparently we’re “in a fight.” Am I 14 again?

      Seriously, if the choice is a co-worker who won’t respect boundaries without growing angry or a co-worker who doesn’t talk to me, I’LL ENJOY THE SILENCE.

      1. Amber Rose*

        Holy crap. That’s some ridiculous, childish shit right there.

        Here’s one for you: last Sunday I badly injured my left leg in a set of circumstances that is an epic tale all its own. I didn’t realize how bad it was until I made it worse driving to work, where I collapsed.

        Dismissive coworker proceeds to laugh at me and ask if I need it amputated and generally treat me like a child. While I’m huddled in a chair in tears. :|

        I hurt myself a lot in very silly ways and I am the first to laugh at myself. I’m even laughing at how I hurt my leg even though I’ll be recovering for weeks. But there’s a time and a place. If i’m clutching my leg and sobbing, not the best time.

        I ended up taking a sick day and having a doctor give me shit for walking around too much on a torn quadricep.

          1. Amber Rose*

            The only thing I can’t do now is kneel, which is the thing that partially got me in trouble in the first place, or climb stairs. Recovery time is approximately 2 weeks, assuming I don’t get impatient and re-injure myself.

            I once broke my hip and was laid up for weeks. I can’t remember how I survived the boredom.

        1. afiendishthingy*

          what an ASS. and I don’t think there’s a whole lot you can do other than shut him down in as few words as possible – “Got lots of staring to do today?” “No, I’m working” in completely unamused tone. Sounds like the only way he knows how to “relate” to coworkers is through weird, mean, unfunny jokes, so don’t engage, make it clear you’re not amused and don’t have time – and don’t make a big production of it because then he’s still getting attention out of it which is probably funny to him. Ugh. Good luck and I hope your quad heals quickly.

      2. Michele*

        There is a time and a place for jokes, and joking with people who don’t like you tends to not work. When people double down instead of backing off in those situations, it really makes me mad. You are right, it is very junior high behavior. Does he also snap women’s bra straps?

      3. Snoskred*

        Anie – I had a co-worker who would just blab on and on about herself and her family and her grandkids.. the stories were never ending, and were at their core about regular every day life.. Like X came over, and then I made coffee, and then we ate a piece of cake, and then we went to the park, and then I stepped in a mud puddle, and then X, and then Y, and boring, boring, boringness!

        If her phone would ring and interrupt her, the minute she was off the phone, she would say.. So anyway.. and then launch back into her super boring story about people I never met nor cared to meet nor wanted to know anything about. I feel like if they knew what she was telling everyone about them.. then they would be super annoyed. If *my* phone rang, she would keep telling her story as if I was meant to multitask my work with listening to her idiotic tales!

        We had a massive falling out over a shift swap, because I’d asked if she could do *one* of my shifts which was slightly less pay than hers, in order to go and have some urgent medical tests done. She refused, so I went above her head to scheduling and got it changed, and she made a huge big deal out of it, because she was going to lose less than $20.

        Scheduling called me to let me know she was really angry about this swap, so I had a heads up and I spoke to my boss about what I planned to say to her the next time I saw her. Which went like this –

        She started beyotching about the shift swap right away, and I said hey, these medical tests were important, this was not me changing shifts to watch teevee or something silly like that. I reminder her about all the times myself and other staff had bent ourselves backwards to cover her – and I mean, I’d pull a double shift of 12 hours where I was meant to do 6, all at the last minute, without having any food prepared so I’d have to organise takeaway, which cost me money, etc.

        But she refused to see my point and just kept on bitching.. In the end, I threw $20 at her, and I said to her, “That should cover your financial loss. You are such a selfish person. Don’t ever ask me to swap a shift with you, because I will never do that for you. And now, I’m done with you. We’re not friends, obviously we never were friends if you would act this way. I don’t want you to talk to me ever again unless it is work related. That means no more long and boring stories about your family.”

        Yes, I did say it, and I truly meant it, but she did not believe I meant it, so the next shift she showed up and started trying to talk to me, and I literally put up my hand in the stop position, and I said to her – remember, I said never talk to me again unless it is work related. You can stop your story right there. Just pretend like I am not here.

        She really struggled to keep her mouth shut, and she was so in the habit of “So anyway” after getting off the phone, she would be a sentence into her story before I could stop her, but I made a point of always doing it. Over time, multiple stops and a reminder of exactly what I said above, and there came a point where she got the message, and blissful silence was mine.

        In your situation, I would probably talk to my boss about it and if they did not want to handle it themselves, I would say that I was going to speak up and give my boss an idea of what I was going to say, because enough is enough.

        I would say to this co-worker something similar to what I said to my co-worker – No more talking to me unless it is work related. I don’t like your jokes and I no longer wish to hear them. Don’t talk about me to other people, either. I just want you to leave me alone. – I would ask my boss to back me up on the not talking about me to other people part.

        And yes, my co-worker kept the $20. Just by that one action alone, she showed me exactly who she was, and I believed her.

      4. TalleySueNYC*

        I’d be really tempted to reply to him, “Do you have a crush on me? Is this some playground crush thing, the way you can’t let go of this, and have to keep poking at me, verbally? Please stop.”

        1. TalleySueNYC*

          (was supposed to be referring to Anie’s story about the guy who went to the whole office and then to her, just to say, “she’s always talking.”)

  32. ACA*

    About a month ago I think I mentioned that I had a phone interview for a job that I hadn’t technically applied for yet (I did apply when the job was finally posted a few days later). It went well enough that I have an interview scheduled next week! The job is with a Fortune 50 company, and I’ve only ever worked at nonprofits before, so I’m more nervous than I would be otherwise – obviously every new job is going to involve learning new things, but this is a new industry and an environment that I’ve never been in before, and even though I’m qualified it feels like I’m not because my experiences aren’t directly applicable.

    Anyway, my actual question: The interview will be in three half-hour segments, each with a different person. I’m assuming they’re all going to meet together after to discuss; is it ok for me to ask them mostly same questions, or should I have a different set for each person?

    1. fposte*

      If it’s only a half an hour, they probably aren’t going to leave you a ton of time for questions anyway. If there’s something that you think it would be helpful to get different viewpoints on, I’d frame it that way so people don’t think you’re just sticking to a script, but I’d ID top priorities in my questions and lead with those in case time runs short.

    2. Dawn*

      Figure out what questions you want to ask in general- what you want to know about the company, the position, the culture, etc etc etc. Then, before the interview try and figure out who the three people you’re talking to will be and what their roles are in relation to the position. This will probably make it pretty obvious who you should be asking what about. For example, I was part of a team that interviewed for a new analyst position. The VP interviewed the candidate first, then my boss interviewed them, then I and my colleague analyst interviewed them. If I had been on the flip side of the table in that interview process, I would have asked the VP questions about the company as a whole, the division that the team was on that VP oversaw and how it fit into the company’s vision, and the future of the division. I would have asked my boss about the role, her expectations for the role, what success looked like in the role, etc etc. And then I would have asked myself and my colleague what typical days were like, what the work culture was, how the progression of the roles have been, etc etc.

    3. Amber Rose*

      Some questions it makes sense to want more than one perspective on: in your opinion type questions. But probably have at least a couple different questions for each.

    4. Lynne*

      Some things (what’s the culture like here, what does success look like in this position) will vary based on the interviewers position so it might make sense to ask several folks. I just was part of an interview process where we had folks from several different backgrounds interviewing candidates and I’m sure we all have different opinions on the above questions. We did get together to chat, but didn’t compare notes on the questions asked, more on general feel and fit, etc.

  33. V.V.*

    Good day everyone! So I have an interview for a job that I applied for a couple of weeks ago. I am happy about it, but when I got the prescreen call I learned that it is a higher level than I had anticipated, because it is “salaried” and thereby I presume is exempt.

    Though I am not doubting my abilities to do the job, I am pretty sure I never want to be “salaried” ever again. Do I need to call back and decline the interview and not waste their time? Or is it reasonable to try to “negotiate” into a non-salaried position? I am not sure what I can actually ask or do without being weird and I don’t want to preclude myself from being considered in the future.

    I am in a pickle because if I don’t go through with the interview I will probably lose my elligibilty for unemployment. I am in even more of a jam if the job is offered to me and I decline it, as I won’t be able to say it is unsuitable employment, since it pays more than what I was making last. Had it been advertised as a salaried position I wouldn’t have applied to it at all.

    Any thoughts? Thank you all.

    1. fposte*

      Can you clarify what your concerns are? Is it that you don’t want to work more than 40 hours without OT, or is it something else?

      1. V.V.*

        Yeah pretty much. It was watching all the non – exempt people being sent home to conserve the budget, and me having to their jobs in addition to mine, because I was “the manager” and accountable for any shortfalls in my department. I simply became cheap labor, because hey, my time was already paid for.

        I know many times “salaried” people make more than non-exempt and get “perks”, but has been my experience that non-exempt labor is used more carefully, and I value this more even if it means I wind up underutilized or underpaid for my skill set.

        The job posting cited a specific shift, so I guessed it was non – exempt and thought I was safe applying for it.

        1. Jake*


          I know the feeling. Working 70 hours a week for 6 months because I’m exempt has given me a whole new appreciation for how terrible my current employer is about taking advantage of employees.

          This was after being told I’d work Monday through Friday 8 to 10 hours a day and about one Saturday a month and no Sundays.

          …just finished working 20 straight 10 to 14 hour days last month.

          I don’t think I’ll ever be able to trust an employer about an exempt position’s hours ever again.

          1. V.V.*

            Fellow (future) refugee, take heart. I think there are many of us out there – too many. I wish I knew a way to fix (or break) this.

            I can’t even say I would have demanded a higher salary had I known what I was actually working for, because frankly there came a point when I knew there wasn’t enough money in the world to make that job worth it. Once I realized that, I knew I had to leave.

            To take a job that will do the same thing – well I am trying really hard not to make a habit of tossing my own self into the stew pot.

            Best of luck Jake, I hope your load lightens soon. If it doesn’t, then I rooting for you and hope you find a way to come out on top.

        2. InfoGeek*

          There are such things as salaried non-exempt positions. I’ve known quite a few people with jobs like those.

          1. V.V.*

            Salaried non-exempt position might be acceptable.

            It wouldn’t be out of order to ask? I am not sure when to bring it up. I have never asked the question before so I don’t know if it is best to be direct or what.

            My own feelings is that an interviewer may think that I am being inappropriately focused on this detail no matter when or how I ask it.

            Am I wrong?

            1. Thinking out loud*

              I am salaried and non-exempt, in a field that is often salaried and exempt. If you get an interview, I would ask about “work life balance” during the interview and see where it goes from there. I wouldn’t specifically ask about being exempt vs non-exempt – that’s not really what you’re concerned about.

    2. Retail Lifer*

      Is it because you’re afraid you’ll be working too many hours? I’ve had bad experiences being in salary in the past, but now it’s about the only positive of my current job. I only rarely work over 40, and I can sneak out an hour early here and there or come in 20 minutes late once in a while and no one can say anything. My current position is salaried simply because I’m a manager. If I’m short-staffed I’m expected to be able to cover if needed, but I have a pretty reliable staff and that doesn’t happen often. I wouldn’t dismiss an opportunity JUST because you’d be on salary.

      1. Windchime*

        Yeah, this. It sounds like the OP has been taken advantage of the exempt status in the past, but I love being salaried/exempt. It’s not so great during crunch times when I have to put in a few extra hours, but it’s awesome most of the time. I don’t have to account for every minute; I can work through lunch and have a 9 hour day or I can slip out early for a drink like I did yesterday at 4:30 PM.

    3. cali_to_carolina*

      I agree that it depends on your concerns re: salaried. It might be strange to ask about hourly in some industries — in mine, youd be more of a freelancer than an full employee.

      I’d take it if you are desperate and see what happens…

      1. V.V.*

        It’s too bad because the only reason I would be desperate, would be because of unemployment restrictions. Frankly they are the reason I am wary of having this interview. If I only had to answer to me, I could be more choosy, I just don’t feel I am in that position and it is making me jittery.

    4. Red Rose*

      It is possible to be salaried and non-exempt–I am. In your position, I’d go to the interview and try to figure that out first. If the situation isn’t what you want, just talk a lot about how important work/life balance is to you (you would’t be lying, right?) and you probably won’t get the offer anyway.

      1. V.V.*

        Ah, there is the rub. It’s too bad there are some companies out there that mentioning how important work/life balance is would tank the interview.

        Thanks for responding, I feel a little better about this whole affair after hearing everyone’s two cents. If I am lucky who knows? Things might just work out for the best.

    1. some1*

      Omg, that was so horrible. I don’t live in New York but I never saw much point in getting my nails done at a salon, anyway. I don’t like fake nails and a salon manicure/pedicure doesn’t last any longer than one I give myself at home, and I can sit on my own couch while my nails dry. :)

    2. jag*

      Yeah, that was depressing but not surprising to me (I live in NYC and see a lot of exploitation of recent immigrants).

    3. Dang*

      Whoa. That’s just awful. I knew it was bad… but I didn’t realize the extent of it. I live in the NYC suburbs and see those places everywhere.

    4. Michele*

      It is horrible, and that situation seems so common. There really needs to be a crackdown on employers like that. In an ideal world where I am empress, those businesses would be shutdown and the owners would go to prison for slavery. The employees would be given English lessons and workers visas and set on the path to citizenship.

    5. GOG11*

      I think I read the second part of the series, the one that covered the chemicals in nail polish. I’ve gotten two or three pedicures and couldn’t stand the smell, but I’d assumed it was my asthma/hypersensitivity to smells/fragrance allergies and didn’t realize how harmful the stuff is.

      1. AdjunctGal*

        There’s a company in MA that pays its nail techs a good hourly salary and gives them health and 401k benefits. I didn’t think the manicure was outrageously expensive, either. I didn’t really realize how rare this is in the industry. Yikes.

          1. AdjunctGal*

            Miniluxe. I went to the Lexington location on a whim. You do have to make appointments online, though. No walk-ins.

  34. LiveAndLetDie*

    I see quite a few resumes cross my desk, and I am amazed at how many people with plenty of work experience still feel the need to list high school achievements on their resumes. I’m of the opinion that unless that high school experience was *exceedingly* relevant (like your resume is for a football coaching position and you’re listing the fact that you were HS quarterback or something), it has no place on a resume once you have higher ed. and/or substantial work experience to list in its stead. Thoughts?

    1. techandwine*

      In discussing this over IM with LiveAndLetDie this morning, I was venting about a resume I just saw that referenced High School accomplishments. This guy has been working full time since 1999, has held numerous jobs in his field, and is absolutely fully qualified for the position we are hiring for.

      But, he has an “Additional Skills” section at the top where he referenced an internship he help in High School and, my personal favorite, he mentions that he was in the “top two percentile for reading comprehension in his age group as based on standardized tests.” I do not even remotely understand how this is a necessary thing, or really a thing that deserves a spot under “Additional Skills”. This is for a DevOps position, so reading comprehension isn’t the most critical aspect we’re looking for (I’ve come to terms with the fact that the vast majority of my company will never read my documentation).

      What’s the most ridiculous high school skill you’ve seen left on a resume?

      1. Lia*

        LinkedIn suggested I connect with a high school classmate, and out of curiosity, I looked at his profile. He had his ACT score on there. We graduated in 1992.

        Incidentally, he has an MBA from a fairly prestigious program and a lot of impressive positions, but that just cracked me up.

        1. College Career Counselor*

          Far too many people view a resume as an exhaustive list of ALL their accomplishments (every. little. twitch. gets documented) and not a summary of their relevant experiences and education. As a consequence, the resume starts to act like a black hole: information goes in, but nothing ever comes out.

      2. ginger ale for all*

        Not high school but one person attached their workout regimen to their resume. When asked why they did that, they had just mixed up applications – one for us and one for the gym job. We all tried the regimen though in our office as best we could and it was fun trying the stuff he did with office supplies and such. He turned out to be a great hire.

    2. Retail Lifer*

      I had a job interview a couple of years ago where the interviewer asked me to tell him what I was like in high school.

      I was 33 at the time.

      1. Clever Name*

        “I was intense, cerebral, and a rule follower. And a huge nerd. Just like I am now.”

    3. squids*

      Reviewed a resume just yesterday that listed the applicant’s driver’s license and boating license, each with date earned. (neither applicable to the position in any way.)

      1. Retail Lifer*

        I received a photo once and someone else listed their height and their weight, as if that’s at all relevant to anyone but Abercrombie & Fitch (I do NOT work for them!). But apparently that used to be acceptable. The boating license wins, though. That’s amazing.

      2. Anx*

        I wonder if this is because a lot of jobs require a driver’s license even if driving is not part of the job?

        I wanted to apply for several positions where driving was not part of the job. At one point, I even called HR to ask if a car was necessary, and they assured me there was no driving. Just the need to prove you had a driver’s license.

    4. Fuzzy*

      My sister is entering her senior year of college, and she has enough work/internship experience that I was able to tell her to take her HS stuff off. I had similar relevant HS experience that I kept on mine once I graduated, but only because I had previously volunteered with the organization I was applying for a job at.

    5. Michele*

      I see these things occasionally and just think of the Springsteen song “Glory Days”. Those people seem really sad to me that they still regard their high school accomplishments as being important. It is especially sad if they list a sports accomplishment. It would have to be winning some sort of national science competition (I hire scientists) to be remotely impressive.

    1. fposte*

      Wow. Zenefits dude is a major asshole. How many people are now going to cheer quietly when his company fails?

    2. LiveAndLetDie*

      Wow, I think the Zenefits guy was really unfair here. Weighing your options is absolutely a normal part of choosing a new job. I guess the lesson is don’t name the companies you’re weighing when you ask for advice online, I guess.

    3. Amber Rose*

      I feel like that was bad judgement on the engineers part. If you ask advice online, you should always be vague and leave out identifying details. For personal safety if nothing else.

      1. The IT Manager*

        I agree. I think Zenefits may have been right to withdraw the offer*, but it should not have been done publically like that.

        The young engineer made a big mistake providing enough identifying info for the companies to know who wrote the comment. This shows poor judgment; the kind of person who will go on social media about a work problem and name companies and people.

        * I did not actually go to Quora to read the thread.

        1. Natalie*

          Eh, I disagree. From what was quoted, at least, Engineer wasn’t bashing Zenefits in any way, just discussing the relative merits of the two companies. By his own words, the Zenefits guy didn’t pull the offer because Engineer named or criticized his company online, but rather because apparently debating between 2 offers meant Engineer didn’t “want to work [t]here”. That’s an overreaction, and Zenefits guy seems to know it as he tried to ninja edit his comment.

          1. Natalie*

            Oops, “ninja edit” was unfair; apparently he did note that his comment was edited.

            1. Cath in Canada*

              All users’ edits are visible on Quora. (Go to any profile and click “Edits” under “All Activity”, on the menu directly under the profile photo). So it’s always better to be upfront about any controversial edits than to try to hide them!

          2. Creag an Tuire*

            I thought the reason the offer was pulled was because the major “drawback” to Zenefits was that “I really want to apply to Google in a couple of years and it will be easier to do that from Uber”.

            I’d have pulled the offer too, though not publicly.

    4. LizB*

      Wow. I grew up in Silicon Valley but don’t currently live there, and everything I read about the corporate culture of the region makes me really glad I left before I had to try job-searching there. It’s totally normal for job seekers to be weighing different options; expecting everyone who applies to work with you to be 110% committed and devoted to working for Your Company Only is absurd.

    5. The Cosmic Avenger*

      What a tool! “You received other offers and dare to consider them? Well then, you must be a good candidate, so we don’t want you! Nanny-nanny-boo-boo! Pppphhhhhtttttt!”

    6. INTP*

      I feel like I can see both sides here. On one hand, it’s short-sighted to only want employees who have no other great options than working for you, and clearly the engineer saw something in the company or their offer if it was such a dilemma given Uber’s bigger name. On the other, the engineer exercised absolutely horrible social media judgment. It seems to me like it would be common sense to ensure anonymity and say things like “Big name mobile app company” and “Up and coming startup” instead of company names. If he would be this stupid about weighing the options, could he be trusted not to attach the company name to rants or other unflattering or confidentiality-breaking posts in the future?

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        I get what you’re saying, but it sounds as if the engineer wanted to know specifically what people thought about those two companies. There weren’t a ton of personal details (except that Uber wouldn’t negotiate salary but Zenefits would). Of course, if Zenefits is a small enough company, it probably wasn’t too difficult to pin down whose offer to rescind.

        In this situation, I get why the Zenefits CEO said what he said. Still, I think he overreacted, and it ends up ultimately being a bad PR move for the company. There is absolutely nothing wrong with candidates weighing two offers. And, oddly enough, the candidate’s assessment of the two companies seemed to favor Zenefits (except the brand name recognition). In this case, I’d say the engineer dodged a bullet.

    7. Karowen*

      From a PR perspective, the Uber employee’s response was basically perfect. Not calling out the other guy in any way, just implying that they’re okay with people weighing offers – and leaving readers thinking that they are a much classier company than Zenefits. Kudos to Uber on that!

    8. GlorifiedPlumber*

      This is going to sound horrible, but I love corporate job drama sometimes. Only thing missing is popcorn.

      Plenty of learning to go all around here.

      Posts like this support the whole “We’re in a CS bubble…” in certain parts of the country too. What is interesting is despite this specific example, I see posts like this ALL THE TIME (almost daily) on Reddit’s /r/cscareerquestions thread. Very popular question for younger cs folks to ask.

      Good share! Perhaps AAM has commentary on how a young jedi presented with multiple offers might effectively (and fairly from a hiring managers point of view) weigh offers.

      Also, the WP is a little liberal with the word Engineer these days it seems.

    9. Anon HR*

      I’m not surprised the CEO of Zenefits is a jerk. One of our clients uses their service and it is APPALLINGLY bad. They are great at selling it and it looks snazzy but it constantly is messing stuff up like employee deductions, etc etc. Their staff seems totally clueless and just apologizes over and over.

  35. Trying to be mature!*

    So I am getting a new boss who was hired because of who she knows and not what she knows. She has never worked in my field but was recommended by an influential person (influential to my boss!) and she got the job. Even though she was the least qualified of all the applicants and two of the higher ups in the company said they wanted someone else the CEO still hired her. My resume is stronger than this person and if I had known that she was going to get the job I would applied for the position even though I know I would not have gotten it because the CEO wanted this person from the beginning. I saw her resume, I talked with her and she doesn’t have the experience in our field. Her resume had two jobs on and there were errors on it! I even have more education than she does. She has always worked alone so I don’t even know what her management skills are.

    So now I am being told that I am going to have to show her the ropes and how things are done etc.etc. And I have a huge problem with it. I am trying to be mature but how do you get through the day knowing that the person who you report to (it will be a 2 person department for now) doesn’t have the same skills as you and you are going to have carry the load of the department while she makes at least 60k more than you??

    To top it off I was told I was getting a promotion before this CEO started and it never happened because he decided to restructure and is bringing in all his cronies and giving them the best jobs. Of course, I am being told how valuable I am to the company and there will be things happening down the road for me I just have to be patient but how is it that these people think that is ok? They don’t want to tell me how long I have to wait or what these changes for me will be but expect me to wait patiently until they decide what is best for me. I just don’t understand this thinking.

    So now this new boss is going to start and I want to run for the hills! I am really having a hard time with this and I don’t have a good poker face. When I am not happy you know it! And now I have to deal with this woman being in my face all the time asking me about things she should know how to do if she was qualified for the job.

    I was talking to a coworker and she said sometimes it is ok if your boss doesn’t know as much you do because that is not what being a good leader is about and that this woman could be a good leader even if she doesn’t know the job. Then she said this is my opportunity to make my new boss look good and that will make me look good. The problem is I already look good! I do my job well and have been successful! Why should I make anyone else look good? How does that help me? I have done a really good job for 5 years and when there was a chance to move up I didn’t get a chance. I’m not feeling very gracious and I am looking for another job but in the mean time I am struggling with being mature about this whole situation. I’m trying to get in the right head space so that I can deal with the situation until I can secure another position but it is not working and keeping my office door closed and not speaking to the woman is not an option! Lol! I know I need to be mature but I am struggling…………………..

    1. Retail Lifer*

      At two previous jobs I was denied a promotion and then still expected to help train my new boss. I did it and was nice to the newly hired person simply because I knew it wasn’t THEIR fault that they were given the job over me. As much as I wanted to sabotage them, it wasn’t fair to take it out on them.

      Didn’t stop me from silently hoping they would fail miserably and catastrophically though.

    2. J.B.*

      I am sorry, being passed over like that sounds rough. All I can suggest is that the person might prove you wrong and have better management skills than you thought. And framing it to yourself as showing how good you are to her may help your ability day to day.

    3. Colette*

      Helping her is in your best interests. For starters, she is your boss and will be the one setting your schedule and measuring your performance. If you don’t help her, what’s she going to think of you?

      And what will the managers who currently like you think? And your coworkers?

      You think she’s not qualified, but you’re not able to judge that from your position. And the people who are hired her.

    4. Cordelia Naismith*

      First of all, I’m glad you’re job searching. This sounds like an awful situation, and there really isn’t anything you can do to make it better. Yes, the boss is primarily a leader, but if they don’t know anything about the industry, they might accidentally lead you off a cliff.

      In the meantime, try your best to keep a positive attitude while you’re there. Don’t think of it as making your boss look good — think of it as mentoring and teaching. The more you can teach this person, the better she will do her job as your boss in the future. That’s doing yourself and your current company a huge favor. If you allow your understandable resentment to prevent you from doing your best to teach her what she needs to know about your industry to be successful, you’re really shooting yourself in the foot. Incompetent bosses or managers can really make things miserable for the employees under them. Job searching can take a long time, after all — you could end up staying there longer than you think. You can’t do anything about her managerial style, but you can do something about her lack of knowledge.

      Lastly, I know it’s hard, but for your own mental health, try not to dwell on all the things you hate about how she got hired. Don’t gossip about it with other employees or vent too much about it to your friends/family. The more you talk about all the things you don’t like about her, the more you end up reinforcing all those negative thoughts, and you might end up working yourself up into “bitch eating crackers” mode. Understandably so — but I think you’ll be happier if you can avoid that.

      1. Trying to be mature!*

        Very good advice thanks! I need to force myself to stop fretting about this and deal with it in a professional and graceful manner. I’m just not there yet but I am mature enough to know I have to get there and get there quick!

    5. Hlyssande*

      Like Retail Lifer and JB said, your best course of action is to be kind and helpful – and wow her and the company with how awesome and gracious you are. The way you handle this will be noted, for better or worse, and will certainly affect your reputation if you take it badly.

      The new boss didn’t get hired AT you, even if the CEO chose her because she’s a crony. Do your best to come into it with an open mind and without prejudice toward her. She may surprise you.

    6. Sunflower*

      You need to take a major step back. You are making A LOT of assumptions about someone you don’t know. She could end up sucking or she could be awesome. You coworker is right. Refusing to help her is only going to ruin your reputation. Also, it’s not her fault you weren’t hired. You can’t refuse to treat her the way she deserves to be treated because you’re mad at the CEO. Also, you’re going to need a good recommendation from your current company to secure a new job. Don’t throw 5 years of good work down the toilet over this.

      What you company told you about a future position isn’t that weird. Very rarely do companies know what is going to happen in the future and when. Also you state you didn’t get a shot at the position but you also state you didn’t apply for it. Maybe your company had no clue you were interested?

      You seem to be really upset about what is going on at the company so you should be aggressively job searching.

      1. Trying to be mature*

        You are missing the point. I know I can’t not help my new boss. I still have to be professional my point is sometimes when you know you have to be mature it is hard to get yourself there when you want to scream it is not fair and be a brat about it. My company is well aware of my career goals and I wasn’t told the job was being posted. I saw it on the Internet. I know this woman is not qualified I was told this by two people involved in the interview process. She was the least qualified of 10 applicants. My point is how to you put your big girl panties on and deal in situations like this. I’m struggling with knowing how I need to behave and my emotions of being sidelined for someone who should not have the job. It would be a totally different story if they hired someone qualified for the job. This was a favor to a friend.

        1. Colette*

          Your first step is to stop thinking she should not have the job. Really, that’s what’s causing your problem.

          Your company may not have told you the job was posted because they don’t think you’re qualified for it, or they already knew they were going to hire her, or they didn’t want to hire someone internal. They don’t (and didn’t) owe you the job.

          Yes, you’re upset, and that’s fine – but you need to find a way to move past.

          1. Steve G*

            I personally don’t see how this sort of attitude adjustment is going to help the OP long term. Expecting a promotion after 5 yrs of doing well at a job isn’t a crazy leap, it’s an assumption that is steeped in the American dream of hard work = upward progression.

            I’m also not sure that wowing them with how great you are, as someone a bit further up, suggests, will even work. If the new boss doesn’t have industry experience, a lot is going to be lost on them. The Director of the office I used to work in (thank God, not my boss) was clueless to about 60% of what I did in the beginning, to about 20% towards the time I left. My boss understood 100% of what I did. My boss thought I was the best thing since sliced bread, the Director took a long time to “get” me. He saw emails, spreadsheets, comments at meetings, phone calls, but it took a long time to grasp that the things I was doing exceeding the requirements of the job, or to realize that the 2 sentence comment I made in a meeting has 2 hours of work behind it, or that a particular spreadsheet looked easy but took a full two weeks to do, etc. etc. The new boss may not ever understand that the OP is awesome.

            1. Colette*

              The manager may not know if she’s awesome, but she will know if she sabotages her or sets her up to fail.

              It’s the difference between having a paycheck and a reference or having neither.

        2. BRR*

          I think you are missing Sunflower’s point. You’re making a strong assumption the new person will suck (and they very well might) but you can’t say yet that she sucks because you haven’t witnessed her sucking. You’re angry because they didn’t follow through on their promise of a promotion and it absolutely, 100% sucks. It’s really unfair to place the new person in bitch eating crackers territory when you haven’t gave her a shot and you didn’t apply for the position.

          On a separate note, I’m not sure how long the CEO has been there but have they not seen you shine? Doing well for 5 years but the CEO only seeing 4 months means they haven’t witnessed all you have done.

          In terms of how to deal with it, you should act nice because it’s professional and if you’re super helpful you can get an awesome reference down the road.

        3. Sunflower*

          I just think it might help to think logically about the situation which might help you stop feeling so much resentment towards it. You seem really determined that you know this person is not the best for the job and maybe she isn’t- but you gotta accept that you are not the best person to make that decision. People don’t agree on hiring decisions all the time. You’re really worked up over something that may or may not happen and your feelings going into working for this person may affect the way you act towards them whether you realize it or not and that could end badly.

          The only way to deal with it just accept it. A lot of things about job searching and careers aren’t ‘fair'(fair is really subjective when it comes to jobs) and they suck sometimes but the only way to deal is to accept it as a part of life and know when you need to move on. This is probably not the last time this will happen to you so the sooner you can just shrug stuff like this off, the better of you’ll be. Focus your energy on getting out of there.

        4. catsAreCool*

          Remind yourself that you’re taking care of yourself by being helpful and behaving professionally. This isn’t about her; it’s about you. If you are professional,it will help if you get another job, it may help in getting a better job at this company, and it will tend to encourage your new boss to think well of you.

          You’re going to act professionally because for you and your future.

          One saying that helps me sometimes is “The best revenge is to live well.”

      2. Steve G*

        I don’t think the OP is making assumptions. They saw the person’s resume, and presumably those of other candidates, and they know what the new boss’ qualifications are, and that they are weak. I sympathize with the OP because you shouldn’t just hire someone based on leadership skills – which this new boss hasn’t even proven. You need to bring skills to a job, not just one connection. At my past company, people like this fortunately didn’t stick around very long. However, one of my friends started a new job at the end of 2012 and 2 of the Sr. group of 7 staff members got the job because they are long-term friends with the owner, so they have the VP of marketing whose never done marketing before and isn’t doing it there either, and the VP of ops who has no clue about their industry so is more of a….honorary post (if we can call it that?!) and someone else actually runs everything. He keeps getting raises, but these 2 people have caused his considerable agida at that job. Yes, he puts on a smile and acts “professional” towards these people most of the time, but sometimes, there is no work-around to these people. For example, it would be nice for a marketing campaign that helps sales or increases retention, but this person doesn’t have experience in marketing or the industry, so they spend most of the time re-doing brochures (often with bad information that he has to correct), ordering brochures…basically “brochure management,” which should only be part of the job. He says that the few real marketing things this person tried fell flat on their faces. The person grew up rich and moved to a rich area of NYC and doesn’t seem to grasp that most of their customers are low-mid income, because they keep trying to set up partnerships with NYC’s high end retailers (i.e. buy enough from us and we’ll give you $50 gift card to Bergforf Goodman). They’ve also paid to sponsor a few posh NYC galas, again, not grasping the concept that the rich attendees on the upper east side are not their target audience!

        1. Trying to be mature!*

          Thank you! You get it. I am not making assumptions I am going on what I saw, my conversation with this women before she was hired and what I was told by a person very high up in the organization that they did not want this person but their hands were tied because the CEO wouldn’t listen to them. The CEO is bringing in his friends over staff who have been here. My old boss left because she wasn’t given a shot at the job either and she was there for 8 years heading up our department and she has 20 years of experience and I have 10 years of experience 5 being at this company.

          What I was trying to get at is that it sucks! I know it sucks but now what? My problem is getting myself to let it go, accept the unfairness and be mature about it. Everything that is being said here is true this one is really sticking. My want to let it go is not as strong as my feeling like I have been handed a raw deal from people who say I am valuable but clearly not valuable enough to be promoted into the lead position. I get that this happens all the time and might happen again in the future but man I need some magic words to let it go because the song ain’t workin! I’m talking about here because I don’t want to talk about it at work with my coworkers.

          1. Colette*

            I think you need to get away from thinking a certain number of years on the job entitles you to a promotion. It helps, certainly, but even if the company wants to promote you, that doesn’t mean you will get any particular promotion.

            It’s normal for new executives to bring in people they know and trust, particularly if they’ve been brought in to make changes. It’s also normal for existing executives to feel threatened, although many of them wouldn’t do the kind of unprofessional trashing of a candidate that’s apparently happening where you work.

            It’s possible the new manager will crash and burn. It’s also psossible that she’ll be great – and even that she’ll be great and get rid of you because of your attitude, if you aren’t able to overcome this.

            I’ll say it again – stop telling yourself she’s not the one for the job. That’s only hurting you.

          2. Steve G*

            I politely disagree with Colette, only because of the knowledge of the candidate. I think Colette’s comment would be good for the more generic CEO-hiring-friends situation. If it is known that the person isn’t skilled for the job, you should started applying for other jobs regardless of having a good or bad attitude. At last co, the shortest this type of person stayed was 6 months, but more common was 9-15 months. Most (well, there were only a handful, but…) were not long-term employees, except the ones who would have qualified for the job regardless of connections.

            Also, yes years of experience doesn’t always = promotion, but the fact that you are getting good reviews coupled with your stage in life (early 30s? Or did you just mean 10 yrs in this one field, not overall?) should mean that something needs to give, either a promotion or a Sr. added to the beginning of your existing title or some more money….something..

            You could also ask to officially take over the parts of the job that you know the new person has no experience in, they might be relieved to get rid of the things that will make them look incompetent.

            1. Trying to be mature!*

              Steve G its 10 years in the field. I’m in my late 30’s. You get where I am coming from! Also I was told I was getting a promotion it is written in my last review before the former CEO retired. The new CEO came in and started restructuring. He demoted my boss because he didn’t like her (it was painfully clear that he didn’t like her and she would break down in tears on a regular even the head of HR encouraged her to look for a new job) so because she lost her title I lost my promotion. She was Director and my new title was Associate Director. She was knocked down to manager so I couldn’t have the associate director title anymore. I asked about it and was told there would be no directors in my department only managers and a Vice President leading the department. They were making both of us managers ( I am already a manager) and this new lady was coming in and being put over the both of us.

              People seem to keep missing the fact that I am not guessing she is not qualified I know she is not qualified. She got the job because of the person who recommended her not because of her qualifications. The CEO is going against the very people he tasked with picking the person to run the department. I saw her resume, I spoke to her she is not qualified. The CEO thinks I am going to stick around and carry the department and show “her how it is done” in his words. He has his reasons for hiring her but her qualifications are not one of them. This is all about who you know and not what you know.

              1. Steve G*

                Wow, I sympathize and wish you luck. The situations at my past job were nowhere near as bad, because the people didn’t manage anyone. It was slightly demotivating to see people brought in with fancy job titles and fancy responsibilities (oversee risk management) that a lower level person with the actual experience and knowledge of the ins and outs could have done, but it was nowhere near this bad. It usually just meant that certain work wasn’t really done or was done 1/2 way. But it was also an understaffed organization, so that happened all of the time anyway!

                Good luck

    7. edj3*

      I could be your new manager. I’ve just started a new position, and I don’t have the background in the specific kind of teapots my company makes. However, I bring other, very much needed skills to the position and that’s why I was hired. Not because I make fantastic teapots but because of these other skills.

      I have a new direct report who pretty clearly feels the way you do—it’s a source of concern to this employee that I don’t have the same level of knowledge about constructing teapots. To her credit, she’s asking for feedback and the number one thing I want to do with her is get her ready for a promotion.

      That’s my suggestion to you. Ask for feedback from the people who do know you and are familiar with your performance. Ask what you need to work on to be a contender the next time that kind of job opens up. Probe for places where you need to gain some skills or hone the ones you already have. Ask for stretch assignments. Show that you are open to feedback and then act on it. You’ll be even more stellar and you’ll be far better positioned for the next opportunity—whether with your current company or elsewhere. And your reputation will only get better.

    8. Elizabeth West*

      I understand how you feel. It’s frustrating, but I think your coworker is right. What she has suggested is the professional thing to do. It’s okay to be upset about it, but you really need to leave that outside the office.

    9. ginger ale for all*

      Just remember she will be your boss today and your reference in the future.

      1. Trying to be mature!*

        Not worried about a reference. I never use current bosses as references and I have some really good references from past jobs. All they can do is verify employment at my current job. The former CEO from my current job has agreed to be a reference and my former boss as well. Lots of co-workers and colleagues in the field to be my reference. I won’t every be using this lady as a reference I am already interviewing for other jobs so she won’t have worked with me long enough to be able to give a reference. With the type of work I do if I really want to be out of there I could get another job quickly. I am trying to move up in my career which is why I don’t just take the same job somewhere else. I could go to one of our competitors very easily. All I have to do is put the word out that I am looking. My old boss works for one of our competitors. She offered me a job to come work for her. I said no because she wasn’t the greatest boss either. I’m trying not jump out of the frying pan into the skillet but that still doesn’t make this any easier.

        This really isn’t about worrying about references or being unprofessional as I said before it is finding a way to mentally get out of a funk of feeling sidelined and upset about a situation I can’t change and that I know is unfair on so many levels. Like I said I’m trying to be mature about it but I am struggling because of what I already know about the situation. I’m not guessing about the person I know it, I saw it, I was told it by people who were involved in the process. They should not have told me but they did. They don’t want me to leave either and they are hoping that I will stick around and help this woman out and teach her what I know.

        1. TalleySueNYC*

          I get what you mean; you’re really looking for the internal tricks to get out of that mental rut of resentment.

          I currently have a co-op board thing just like that. And when I try to talk to people about how to out from under the mental load, they talk about the logistics of it.

          Here’s what helping me: forgiveness.
          Forgiving these other people for being flawed and human, and for taking advantage of things that work their way (for now).
          I’m trying to see them as full-dimensional human beings, with good parts and bad parts and lazy parts and hopeful parts and scared parts. All parts. and forgiving them for the times when the less-than-admirable parts are most prominent.

          And forgiving myself for being angry and resentful.

    10. Snoskred*

      Trying to be mature – Your CEO has shown you who he is. Believe him.

      In my opinion, it is time to look elsewhere for employment. Sad but true. :)

    11. TalleySueNYC*

      Think selfishly. And cynically.

      She’s got the “in,” so make that work for you. If you become her ally, you will shape the department more than you know. You will also look really good to everyone who didn’t want to hire her.

      And when she phases out (she won’t stay all that long, is my prediction; people who get jobs based on who they know are usually restless and impatient with having to know how to do the work), you’ll be the star!

      And you can apply for her job.
      But you have to be seen by everyone as “the person who knows how everything works and put the company’s ultimate goal above the personalities and politics.”

      Retail Lifer has another point; this woman is going to be out of her depth, and unless she’s a horrible person, she doesn’t deserve to have you make it harder. So, maybe have a little sympathy.
      The hardest part might be finding that line between helping and covering up/sabotaging learning.

  36. Bye Felicia*

    I’m looking for success stories about managers being brought in and making significant changes. I start a new position on Monday – I was brought on to make pretty serious changes in a field not known for collaborative and productive change. I’ve read a ton and now I just want to hear from people who had big changes made from a manager that stuck and that created a better workplace that produced high quality results.

    1. Steve G*

      I would like to mention my previous previous previous manager in the startup branch of a larger corporation I worked at. Picture a large, somewhat regimented company, but we were a wild-west division.

      The biggest thing he shook up was handling people, hiring, firing, promotions, raises. He broke down barriers to raises, argued against caps on raises, pushed really hard to get poor employees fired, pushed hard to get positions created, and pushed for a few promotions……and some of these happened during a short period of official wage freezes! These items changed the office more than any process changes would have because it was about having the best coworkers in the office and not having to suffer long with low performers or people who just didn’t care.

  37. Awful Waffle*

    This week, a guy who sexually harassed a coworker a few months back got promoted…again. And yet, I can’t find a job and get out of this dysfunctional department to save my live. Whiskey tango foxtrot…

    1. some1*

      They promoted a guy at a former company of mine who had actually been suspended for sexually harassing people. I feel your pain.

  38. INTP*

    So this hasn’t been an issue yet, and hopefully won’t be, but I’ll ask so I can be prepared. I’m on a new medication that can weaken my respiratory immune system and the instructions specifically say to avoid contact with people with colds. My respiratory immune system has never been very strong, I can get a URI from any little irritation to my respiratory tract (breathing second, even third hand smoke) or immune system (skimping on sleep for a week). So I know that I need to follow these instructions.

    Of course, people often come to work with colds. I get it, I used to have one at least once a month, you can’t always take a sick day for every single cold. I usually work isolated in my own cube but how should I handle it in the event that I need to be next to someone for some time and they have cold symptoms? Or goes to shake my hand and their eyes look a little puffy? I feel like saying something directly will result in the standard “It’s just allergies” which I then have to try to tactfully explain why I’m not taking them at their word (I sure have caught a lot of “allergies” from coworkers in the past).

    1. danr*

      Wear a medical facemask at work. If people ask about it, explain the reason. And, stand as far away as possible from the folks who are coughing and sneezing. At this time of year most of the sneezing is probably allergy related, but wear the mask anyway. If you can’t avoid shaking hands, carry some hand sanitizer with you and wipe your hands as soon as you can. Until then avoid touching your face or eyes.
      If folks wonder if it’s really necessary say “Yes”… and then explain that masks are most effective when the coughers and sneezers wear them. Who knows?, it might catch on.

    2. Observer*

      Don’t shake hands with anyone. “Sorry, I can’t shake hands.” If someone presses “I have some medical issues and my doctor says I shouldn’t shake anyone’s hand.” And don’t let them push. The key is to really not shake ANYONE’s hand.

    3. afiendishthingy*

      “The instructions specifically say to avoid contact with people with colds.”

      I have no actual advice but WOW that sounds difficult. Crossing my fingers for you that everything goes well with this med! Any chance of getting your own plastic bubble? Is that considered a “reasonable accommodation” under the ADA??

    4. catsAreCool*

      Can you work from home, at least part of the time?

      I think work and grocery stores are probably some of the places with the worst germs – when people are sick, those are 2 places that people are likely to drag themselves to anyway because they need to be paid or need food.

  39. Jennifer*

    Happily, I get to leave at noon today and don’t have to answer the phones. Huzzah.

    In other news, I got to hear a whoooooooooole lot of fun stories about certain people and all the drugs they took in their wild youth yesterday. It was a blast. Never would have guessed in some people’s cases!

  40. Anon for this one*

    Any data scientists or aspiring data scientists in the room willing to talk about their work in “2015’s hottest profession” and what it takes to get there?

    1. Brett*

      A large number of data scientists got into it from another field. Tons of geographers, statisticians, mathematicians, even met quite a few biologists, oceanographers, etc.
      Since I particularly deal with spatial data scientists, they are overwhelming trained as geographers at the graduate level (mostly MS, but MS is not terminal in geography).

    2. Jen RO*

      An acquaintance just got a job as a data scientist; she has a PhD in Statistics and about 10 years of experience as a statistician.

      1. A fly on the wall*

        This. Kind of.

        I’ve kind of sidestepped into it. Great move for me, but now that I ended up with the tasking its time for some more school so I don’t totally mess everything up.

        In my case, I started out as primarily a DBA with some programming duties, sidelined into data warehousing out of a shared shear frustration with a vendor, then ended up loving the data science stuff.

        My guess is that for the moment, there’s going to be a million pathways in, but since stats are used so much stats are going to be the foot in the door, but one of the things people will be looking for is passion and related experience.

        Be really clear with yourself why you want in, the way you’re referencing it sounds like an acquaintance of mine who’s entire focus in education was on what was going to make them money. Worked great right up until the point where they graduated from law school a couple years ago with a massive glut of other lawyers.

        She works in recruitment now, and loves it.

  41. My writing sucks!*

    Does anyone have any advice on how to become a better writer? I need help in almost all areas: content, style, and grammar. Any websites, books, or advice is appreciated!

    1. LizB*

      If you google “purdue owl grammar,” the top result will be a site with a ton of editing and grammar-learning resources from Purdue University. Super useful!

    2. Oldblue*

      Practice practice practice…..

      As someone who excels in writing, I can tell you the best thing to do is write something every day within the aspect you want to improve…. If it’s technical writing, write technical stuff every day. If it’s creative, write a short story every day, etc. You also get better with mentors critiquing your work. is a forum for mostly creative writers, but there are people who will critique your work for you who just hang out doing that for fun.

    3. D*

      My favourite topic!

      The best way to become a better writer is to read a lot! Read books, articles, websites, newspapers – even those crappy LinkedIn pieces. It’s not about the content so much as exposing yourself to a wider variety of words and expressions, which will help your vocabulary immensely and help you become more familiar with different ways of expressing ideas. It also helps to just understand how things look – how are they using apostrophes? Dashes? Semicolons? How are paragraphs structured?

      Learn a few really common grammar rules that you might struggle with. Learning how to effectively use a semi colon or a comma can really make a huge difference in how you write! It also increases confidence – you don’t want to be worrying about a where to put a comma when you’ve got an important document to write. The more variables you can eliminate, the more you can focus on truly communicating your thoughts.

      Have you tried low-pressure activities such as commenting on a lot of blogs/news sites or writing Yelp reviews? It’s a fun way to practice writing in different tones and styles – and figure out which one feels most natural to you – without having the stress of a work assignment or important document. Most importantly, people are more confident communicators when it’s a topic they know well, so writing a blog or a comment about your favourite topic (or waxing poetic about your favourite restaurant) will allow you to really focus on the writing rather than the subject matter.

      Think of someone who you would consider a ‘good writer’ and think about what appeals to you in that style. Are they short and concise? Do they speak in simple terms or is it more elaborate and impressive sounding? Try and identify things that sound good to you and see how you can incorporate that into your own writing, or what qualities you like in other peoples’ work that you might be lacking.

      Take your time. Good writing and communication skills take practice and it’s okay to write, and re-write, until it sounds good to you. Get a second opinion whenever you can – you don’t need to take the advice as gospel but it’s good to hear feedback on how you might be coming across.

      Good luck!

    4. Muriel Heslop*

      I love the book Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott. She is one of my favorite authors, and this is her book on writing. Have you looked into taking a creative or technical writing class online or at a community college? This could also introduce you to some people with whom you could form a writing group.

      Good luck!

      1. Jen the linguist*

        Warning: Although E.B. White himself was a fine writer, The Elements of Style should be used with considerable care as a guide to good writing or good grammar, because it’s full of misleading advice and even factually incorrect statements about how English actually works. Here’s a link to Geoff Pullum’s article on this topic, “The Land of the Free and
        The Elements of Style,”
        which was published in English Today in 2010.

        1. AdjunctGal*

          Yes, thank you. It truly is an awful guide to writing, though perhaps it’s our linguist sensibilities showing.

    5. TalleySueNYC*

      Also, read. Seriously, read.

      Especially if grammar is what you want to absorb. Find some easy-to-read books that you like, and just read for half an hour every day.

      Oldblue is right about writing mentors; but they can be hard to find. Good ones will tell you why.

      i learned a ton back in the pre-computer days by looking over the markups the editors did at the publications I worked at. And trying to think of why they changed things.

  42. Job Offer Limbo*

    need advice!
    I’ve been job hunting since the winter. I have a full time job, but I got a new credential in December that ought to increase my earnings dramatically and I need a new job to make that happen. I’ve had three offers and now have an offer for an interview for a fourth thing. I chose one of the first three and lined up a side gig to fit with it neatly. It’s an academic job (but I’m currently not in academics). They have been stalling on my contract for…. months! I started interviewing there in February. I still want the job but I am so frustrated! I need to give notice at my current job and I need to look at the material I’ll be teaching and get oriented (this is a process in my field that will take at least a month before the start of the semester.) They seem in no hurry. I’m at my wits end (and don’t know if I should continue to interview or what).

    1. fposte*

      Ouch. Is it a state institution, by any chance? And when you talk abut needing to be prepared for teaching, does that mean you’d expected to be teaching in the summer semester? Have you looked online at their timetables to see if what you’re teaching is included in the summer schedule? (I’m assuming that there really is a contract part of the hire rather than this just being a situation where you’re waiting for paperwork on a position where they don’t do that.)

      I’m afraid I would recommend continuing to interview. I wouldn’t mention it to the contract-delayed folks until you get an offer that you’d take; at that point I’d say that I have an offer that I’ll need to accept unless we can get the contract firmed up and to me by x date. Too often these things fail at the institutional level, and you shouldn’t limit yourself while waiting.

      1. Job Offer Limbo*

        yes it is a state institution! I’ll be teaching in the fall. We had discussed my starting in June, loosely.

        I feel like I’m wasting other interviewers time by continuing to interview for jobs that aren’t my first choice, but….
        Working for them may well have its annoyances, but there are many perks I desire… that’s why I picked this job, over my other (very good) offers. I want the academic schedule, I enjoy teaching, I love the part time gig I’ve lined up (and don’t want to do that full time), the benefits are amazing. I know people who work there and love it. But I am frustrated.

        1. Judy*

          When my husband moved from industry to academia, he saw the posting in November and applied. He interviewed in February. He was offered the job in April and started a temporary contract on July 15 to prep for the start of his contract in August.

          It’s just how things move, especially when they are hiring for a position that doesn’t need to be filled until the fall.

      1. Cordelia Naismith*

        To be fair, this is pretty standard in academic hiring. It is a super slow process.

        1. Job Offer Limbo*

          yeah, I think it IS par for the course in academics. But when am I going to see the contract?! what’s reasonable?

          Also, I do not work in academics and they know that. It’s not like I’m moving from one university to another. In fact, I must continue to work in my field in order to teach in my field.

          1. fposte*

            But they don’t care that you don’t work in academics. I don’t mean that snootily, and I don’t think that not caring is unique to academics, either; in general, your other job or other job experience isn’t something a prospective employer thinks about. They operate on the schedule they operate on, and they really can’t make the state move any faster for anybody. They may not even have a budget approved for fall yet.

            Around here, fall isn’t an emergent situation, and I’d probably have answered differently if I’d known you were talking about fall; I know there are fall contracts that haven’t been lined up yet. We may not even have Summer II pinned down completely yet.

            I’m not saying your concern is irrational–it’s not. But what you’re describing doesn’t sound out of the ordinary to me, either.

            1. Job Offer Limbo*

              I get that….. when would be reasonable, do you think? FYI if I start the job at the start of the semester, I won’t be able to teach the classes they are hiring me for- theres a complicated training thing that takes a month, before I can teach.

              1. fposte*

                I’d say reasonable for a state institution is pretty much up to the last possible minute. Would you be unusual in that department for needing the advance month of training or is that SOP there? I’d follow up even in the second case, but if it’s the first, I’d be specific with a date–“I wanted to make sure we were on the same page about timing, since the contract needs to be in place by July 15 so that I can complete the full Mystery Training before the semester starts August 15. I know people take off during the summer–would checking back on July 1 leave enough time to make sure the contract is complete by July 15?”

              2. InfoGeek*

                State Fiscal year here starts July 1st. State budget often isn’t set until late May. Sometimes it goes even later. Then, once the budget is set, they see whether the position is funded or not.

                So, it’s normal to not have a firm job offer until July.

                Also, is this a 12 month contract position or a 9-10 month contract? If it’s a 9-10 month contract with an August start, be prepared that you may not get paid until a month later.

                1. fposte*

                  That’s what I was thinking of. I’m hoping that JOL isn’t expecting to do the pre-class training while under contract, because that might be trickier to arrange for exactly that reason.

    2. BRR*

      When did they make the offer? Is there any change they need to wait for the new fiscal year to do it (which is typically July 1st)?

      1. Job Offer Limbo*

        offer was 3 weeks ago.

        they have not told me that they are waiting for a budgeting cycle, though they have told me that some other person is ‘working on it,’ a week ago they said that a particular person in charge was figuring it out.

        let me also point out- I am cheap, qualified labor as far as they are concerned. the perks of this job do not include money.

        I’m just feeling so impatient!

          1. Today's anon*

            Yes, 3 weeks is nothing. And there are many layers of approval, even when a position was approved for posting, before a letter can be sent out. And like fposte said, we are trying to make sure Summer is covered.

            1. Job Offer Limbo*

              thank you so much to all of you for helping me gain perspective on this situation!
              I do understand that this process runs much more slowly than industry and that these people have other things on their plates.
              When they offered me this job, they said that contracts “typically” start in August, you can self-select whether you want a 9 or 12 month contract. But then they said that I’d need to have this training before I can start, so I could start sooner and they’d pay me per diem before the start of my contract. But I can’t not have benefits for a month, so I said no, thank you. For me, starting in the late summer would have been a deal breaker. And they said right away that they would work something out, that they understood, they’d get me a summer contract before my fall contract. I believed them, but I should have pinned them down more at that time if it was so important to me.
              If they wait until the verylastsecond, I’ll end up having to leave my job with no notice, which I am not willing to do (and which would actually be terrible for the school, since my school works closely with my workplace). But if that is how it needs to happen, I really need to find a different job where this won’t be an issue.
              I guess I just have to come to a decision about whether or not I can keep waiting or if I want to keep looking. It’s true that this is still my first choice, fortunately or unfortunately. I might send them an email on Monday reminding them that I accepted their offer with the contingency that I’d have a summer contract, and that if they can’t do that, I still need to decline the offer, and that I need to give my current employer notice.
              I just am hoping I didn’t make the wrong decision turning down those other offers I had!

              1. fposte*

                I think it’s okay to pin down what is meant by “summer contract,” too. Do they mean a two month-contract starting June 15, for instance?

    3. Michele*

      The last time I was job hunting, I was unemployed for two months. Then in one hour I got two offers. The issue was that I really wanted another job that had given me a verbal offer but nothing concrete. I called the place that gave me a verbal offer and explained that they were my first choice but that I had received two other offers that day, so if they were going to make me an offer, I needed something in writing by a certain time (48 hrs? I don’t remember). They emailed me an offer and had HR contact me with a start date by the end of the day. I had nothing to lose. I needed a job and wasn’t going to turn down the proverbial bird in the hand, although this time it was two in the hand and one in the bush.

  43. MB*

    I’m pretty sure I know the answer but I want to ask anyways.

    I applied for a full-time position in February. They updated the description two weeks ago, keeping the same responsibilities but using broad summaries instead of the detailed bullet points that were there before. It basically just made it shorter. Then last Friday they called to interview me Monday but didn’t yet know who I would be meeting with (from what I know of the company it’s common for them to not know who this position would be reporting to as there are about a dozen managers all with the same duties). I’m assuming it means nothing they altered the description and called at the last second. I guess I just need confirmation to not read too much into this (I’m underemployed and this is my first full-time job I have heard from at all in my 2 years hunting).

    1. Ama*

      I wouldn’t be too alarmed, it kind of sounds like this might be a newly created position and they haven’t quite worked out all the details (that would potentially explain the delay in response, too, if they decided to push back the hiring a bit). But I’d go in prepared to ask about the reporting structure and the history of this position, and be on the look out for any additional red flags.

    2. afiendishthingy*

      Nah, those don’t strike me as red flags, especially not the cosmetically altered job posting. Last minute interview is not great but not terrible either, I don’t think.

  44. Hot diggity dog*

    (I’m a fairly regular commenter but am on work computer…about work)
    Just: what is wrong with people!? How can they not fill out forms properly?
    This week I have sent several emails to prospective students about:
    no payment (seriously – do expect us to pay for it!?) – no payment means unless they send a cheque to us then the form is returned (requires signature)
    no ID with form
    no signature on form
    you say you have changed you details – well, what exactly?
    no number of old certificate
    no expiry date

    I think the best one was this guy who was just short of 5 years address history and when we queried it he said that he was travelling in various places in America and Europe so had no fixed address as he was “on a ship in the middle of the ocean with all my belongings in a container”.

    the form requires 3 x ID – you have only given us 1 or 2

    1. hot diggity dog*

      Apologies for the messed up formatting there! Bleh. Almost home time though – hurrah!

    2. Jillociraptor*

      First, I hear you — I’ve dealt with forms where people spell their own names wrong on the regular. There can sometimes be an alarming lack of attention with something that is actually a potentially big deal.

      But, it sounds like you’re asking for a ton of very specific information. Are you sure that the instructions and infrastructure of the form are setting people up to give you what you want? Like, is there a checklist up front that clearly states what you need to continue? Is there a version of the form that people can look at ahead of time to gather the relevant info?

      I ask this because I’m constantly caught in email back and forth hell with one division within my company because they have a form that is super unclear with what they actually want. It seems every time I send them something (maybe once a month or so), despite filling in every blank on their form, there’s something — usually something new because I track my past mistakes! — that I’m missing. It’s SUPER frustrating.

      Also, what was the traveler supposed to put for that time in his address history? He literally didn’t have a set address for that time. I understand your frustration with incomplete data, but I have no idea what I would have given you in that case! Maybe you’re not asking the right questions to get the info you need.

  45. TheExchequer*

    I had an interview yesterday and it was strange, so I thought I’d come share it with you.

    I arrived for the interview at 7:30 as requested. I filled out a paper form with the standard “Have you been to prison? What was your High School name? Where have you worked before?” questions.

    And then I took an admin test. Which wouldn’t have been so strange, I suppose, if it hadn’t been on /paper/. It had things like “Copy these sentences. Do some math. Correct this grammar.” All before 8 in the morning. And in a room where I was unsupervised. It would’ve been easy to whip out my phone and “cheat”. (I didn’t, but I easily could have).

    After I was finished with the standard paper form and admin test, the interviewer finally deigned to arrive at 8.

    She was an older lady in a floral print blouse (something I personally would not have been caught dead in, but to each their own, right?). She did not apologize for being so late to our interview, but she did apologize for the late call back. Apparently, the last person they hired didn’t work out, due to having personal e-mail on the computer and texting with her fake nails in the bathroom. She said this while waving her hands in front of me. Her hands with fake nails.

    I apparently need to work on my poker face some more, because she said, “Oh, it’s okay. Mine are short!” Ohhhhkay then. I got so self-conscious about my nails (I do not and have never worn fake nails. I’m still training myself out of picking at them) that I hid them under the table. The clear *glass* table. Epic fail.

    In a kind of sweet and bizarre way, I liked her. So much so that the job I interviewed for is currently my second choice. I’m really not sure what that says about me. xD

    1. Xarcady*

      It sounds as if you were expected to arrive at 7:30, which is a bit early, I’ll admit. But I don’t see the interviewer as being late–looks as if it was planned that you would spend half an hour filling out forms and taking the test. We did that at my last company–the interview was set for a certain time, but the applicant needed to fill out a form and take an editing test before anyone spoke with them.

      What the interviewer was wearing has no bearing on anything.

      The two things that stand out to me are the paper test and the comments about the previous employee. Is the office technically backwards? Or maybe they just don’t have a computer available for the test? The last would be the case in some places I’ve worked–there just aren’t spare computers lying around, they are all in use. Or in busy parts of the office where concentrating on the tests would be difficult.

      And while the comments about the previous hire’s nails are odd, the interviewer was sending a clear message that they don’t tolerate checking personal email at work, or employees going in to the restrooms to text. That’s useful information to know.

      1. TheExchequer*

        It was odd because most positions will send me that kind of paperwork ahead of time in an e-mail. Paper forms at the interview are kind of unusual now. (Especially if they have my resume and/or have an applicant tracking system). And I’ve literally never seen a paper test like that before. If they have me do a test, it’s all on the computer.

        The stuff about culture was useful to know. I would’ve liked the opportunity to ask questions about it, but they didn’t give me one.

  46. cuppa*

    I have a question about resume wording:
    I want to add to my resume that I worked with the c-level admins at my organization to develop plans and procedures for a huge multi-year project that involved a number of different departments. I was essentially a part of the team that planned and coordinated it all. It was kind of a big deal because I was the only one at my level that was asked to work on this. However, I can’t really come up with a way to put this on my resume; “consulted with” or “assisted” downplays the role that I played, but I am having trouble coming up with a better way to say it. Any ideas?

    1. misspiggy*

      Coordinated cross-team initiative to…? Or if that’s misleading, how about Played key coordination role in cross-team teapot harmonisation initiative?

    1. CrazyCatLady*

      I am right there with you. It is absolutely infuriating on a daily basis in SO MANY WAYS.

      1. Sharon*

        Larger companies can be their own breed of bureaucratic nightmare, but at least all those levels between you and your wackadoo boss, colleagues, clients, etc mean the crazy gets spread a lot thinner, and they may have real policies in place to deal with problems, not just “if you don’t like it, there’s the door!”

    2. TheExchequer*

      Yeah, I have to agree with this.

      My manager was great when I started.

      Then the manager (the other part of the husband/wife team) started putting her oar in.

      It has been considerably less than awesome ever since.

      Multiple late commission checks and now multiple late paychecks.

      I’m grateful that they gave me experience when no one else would.

      But never again.

    3. TNTT*

      I support you in this. Someone here said “ain’t no crazy like small business crazy.”

    4. Vanity Project*

      I learned too late that the small business I worked for was just a vanity project– the owner’s husband’s six-figure salary meant that the owner didn’t actually NEED the business to make any money, so the company was more of a hobby than a career for her.

      So on top of all the usual small business crazy, it also became nearly impossible for me not to see my boss as just some clueless rich person who doesn’t know what it’s like to work for a living.

    5. afiendishthingy*

      been there. Worst boss I ever had, not to mention his 19 year old son who liked to imitate his dad and bark orders at me too. Yup, once was enough.

  47. Marie*

    I’m in this never ending saga of trying to go from a temp to a permanent employee at work. It’s been 13 months since I was promised this job, and in total I’ve been working here for 3 years.

    I work for a large university and jobs get posted every Friday in batches. I check the job board religiously every Friday morning to see if “my job” has been posted yet. Jobs need to be posted for a minimum of 10 business days before a hiring decision can be made. The hiring process can take anywhere from a month to 7 months. So far, I have not seen anyone get hired in less than a month from the date of posting, even when the employee was just being promoted and the job posting was a formality (such as in my case).

    I have been promised that everything would be resolved by June 1st (after also being promised by October 1st of last year, by February 1st, May 1st…), but the job has not been posted this week (and the postings already went up for other departments). It’s taking all my energy just not to lose it and start bawling at my desk at work and have a mental breakdown. The stress of it all has been affecting my mental health, physical health and my also my work ethic, as I have not been able to bring myself to do anything productive in 3 days. It does not help that my salaried, and permanent coworkers spend their entire day on reddit and facebook, take 2 hour lunches, leave early, come in late and just generally slack off because they can (and I’m the ONLY one that can’t). *Sigh*

    1. Oldblue*

      Is there any sort of policy how long a person can temp in a job before getting full pay? That’s how it is in some companies. I would ask HR.

      1. Marie*

        The collective agreement of the union for the support staff specifies that if someone is a temp for more than 5 months in a department where there are unionized workers, the person must be terminated and the hiring process for the temp position restarted. So I would not be doing myself any favours there, although I have considered going this route to be eligible for unemployment.

        I am currently part of a union that represents “temp staff” (I know, it’s weird), but they are completely useless and they know they’re useless. Their collective agreement has no provisions for this situation, as the temp staff used to be 100% student workers and they did not see the point of protecting full-time, long-term “temps” as there weren’t any. Temp status used to be only assigned for short-term work but the departments are using it to circumvent hiring freezes and budget cuts.

        HR also can’t help me. I’ve tried. They’re a bunch of monkeys with keyboards. They’ve screwed up my contract/pay/personnel file at least a dozen times in two years. It’s happened 5 times in a year that my day was delayed by two weeks, because they can’t get their act together. And to think they represent nearly 50000 employees….

        1. Marie*

          *my pay was delayed by two weeks. The haven’t delayed my day yet. That would be weird.

          1. Oldblue*

            hmmmm It sounds to me like the university is purposely doing this to avoid giving you benefits (I know, obvious, but anyway.)

            But being a temp for 3 years?! Come on.

            1. Marie*

              That’s exactly why they’re doing this. I’m Canadian and do not have any significant health issues so not having benefits through my employer is not the end of the world as it would be in the US (and I also have insurance through my boyfriend’s work) – my bigger issue is not having any vacation time or even a single sick day despite how long I’ve been here. Also, we’re in a university and we close down for holidays, including 2 weeks at Christmas. I’m the only hourly employee in my office so while everyone else is celebrating a day off I’m stressing out about how the huge loss in pay is going to affect my budget.

              There is also the question of job security – this is a public university so a university job is like a government job. Once someone is in, it’s impossible to get rid of them. But temps have no security, so people can hire and fire them as they please with no backlash and no oversight.

        2. Marie*

          And that’s 5,000 employees not 50,000 employees. I’m just extremely rattled by the situation, I can barely type a sentence.

    2. TheExchequer*

      I so much wish I could give you a hug and some cookies right now.

      But, darlin, I don’t think they’re going to give you a permanent job. I would start looking for other things. If the permanent job comes along, great! If not, maybe you’ll find something better in the mean time.

      1. Marie*

        I really believe this at times, but I have been cc’ed on so many e-mails with discussion about contracts, budgets, etc from all sorts of people in HR, Management (from both my departments and a sister department) about this position that I doubt they’re really playing this long of a con.

        Also, HR is really just THAT incompetent at our university. It took 1.5 years to replace our ED even though she gave 3 months notice (we’re a fundraising department of only about 5 people, our revenue plummeted from $6m to $3m in the time we were without a director, so their incompetence actually has costed the university millions of dollars). A coworker quit in September, gave 6 weeks notice, and it still took about 7 months to replace her.

        1. Ama*

          Honestly, when I was in academia our HR department was just as terrible and personnel decisions took forever, so it’s not beyond possibility that they are just total screw ups, but it sounds to me like you need an advocate, a manager level coworker (or higher) who will hold HR’s feet to the fire until they get things done. Maybe write up the entire timeline of this discussion, and point out to your manager how long you have been waiting for this to happen? I know a bunch of my bosses in academia were happy to continue kicking deadlines down the road until someone pointed out that we’d been at this discussion for X number of months — then all of a sudden it had to be done yesterday.

    3. Graciosa*

      I think a lot of the reason this is getting to you is that you are mentally committed to this position – even though this employer is not at all committed to you.

      You need to stop.

      Are you applying to other jobs? You need to be.

      Work on the assumption that they will NEVER convert you and proceed accordingly. If this turns out to be wrong, great – but do not stop looking for a better opportunity elsewhere because you’re clinging to the last shreds of hope.

      This kind of reminds me of Carrie Fisher’s character in “When Harry Meant Sally” who was endlessly waiting for her married lover to leave his wife. She kept finding evidence that he had no intention of changing and acting like it was news –

      “I don’t think he’s ever going to leave her.”

      “NOBODY thinks he’s ever going to leave her.”

      “You’re right, you’re right. I know you’re right.”

      I would love to read a follow up that you found a new job, and your current employer was so shocked that they countered with the offer you’ve been dreaming of but – you need to assume that they’re never going to hire you.

      1. Marie*

        I’m 23, with a liberal arts degree living in a province experiencing the highest unemployment rate in something like 30 years. We just posted an ad up for a job that pays about $2 above minimum wage and is very entry level (filing, photocopying, etc). A woman with 5+ years of experience in the field applied and it was given to her, even though it was really intended as a student job. Apparently she has been looking for work for over a year but can’t get anywhere. It’s rough right now in this city. I’m actually doing pretty well considering.

        Also, this is the only professional job I’ve ever had, and I haven’t been able to get very far without professional (non-personal) references. I’ve been job hunting for over a year now – 10-15 applications a week, and in total I’ve heard back from 7 employers, from which I’ve had two interviews that didn’t go anywhere. I’m stuck for now.

        1. Graciosa*

          I had mixed feelings about this – I was glad that you feel you’re doing pretty well considering (and you are) but not thrilled that you’re feeling stuck. I would encourage you to focus on whatever positives you can, rather than the “stuck” feeling. A sense of helplessness or desperation can actually hurt your ability to move forward (which is as horribly unfair as it is true) and I don’t want you to get to that point.

          2 interviews out of 500-750 applications doesn’t sound like a good hit rate. Are you feeling that you’ve hit the point of desperately trying to apply to anything that might be a possibility, or do you think these were really well-targeted? I’m inclined to suggest you should limit yourself to five applications a week – partly to get you off the treadmill and partly to help you force yourself to carefully select only the best opportunities each week and then spend more time carefully tailoring your application rather than churning something out.

          Please don’t take the suggestion as criticism – I completely understand that the job market is outside your control, and you don’t need to feel worse about anything at the moment. I’m only trying to find ways to help you improve your chances where you can and help manage your stress while you do it.

          1. Marie*

            The quality of the positions I’m applying to really ebbs and flows with how happy I am with my current job and how close I am to end of my current “contract”, which are related as I become frustrated every time I need to renew my temp status. When I’m really unhappy, I can apply to 20-30 jobs during a long weekend. When I’m neutral about my job, I’ll apply to maybe 1 or 2 a week., Often, they’re mostly low level jobs where I need to fill out an internet form and there isn’t even an option to attach a cover letter (often, they “generate” a resume based on your answers to their forms, blech), and I pretty much only get automated responses. It seems like this is the status quo for where I live for lower paying positions. The two interviews I attended were actually for pretty decent junior positions, and I would have been happy to work at either company but they ultimately went for older candidates. I’m not putting nearly as much effort as I would if I was unemployed, which is why I’m considering cutting the cord with my current job. But then again, I don’t want to kill my savings between jobs.

            1. Graciosa*

              You may do better rationing your applications, but really taking them seriously (even if it’s 2 a week instead of 5). You can still make a serious effort to find a job without binging on applications as an antidote to unhappiness – even if you have to find another outlet when that happens.

              Best wishes –

  48. Oldblue*

    Sorry I posted this in the wrong place at first.

    So here is a question about casual interviewers….

    I applied to a job advertised on a company website that didn’t have much description of the job. That may seem a little crazy, but its title was a type of job in my industry so it’s forgivable. Anyway, I got an interview, and when I wrote to confirm the interviewer, who would also be my supervisor, signed their first name. Does that mean I should call this person by their first name at the interview or should I stick to a title? I’ve done quite a lot of research on the company and they seem to have a similar atmosphere to a place I interned at, which was sort of casual. I don’t mean that I’d come to the interview in jeans and smack gum, but am I allowed to call this person by their first name?