open thread – June 12, 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 :)

{ 1,208 comments… read them below }

  1. Savannah*

    I’m rather confused about my companies’ policy when it comes to exempt workers and I had a situation last week that I’d like some advice on. I work in a hospital in a department with two exempt (myself and my boss) and two non-exempt (our IT guy and our coordinator) workers. Everyone in the department, except my boss, has to clock in and clock out for the day and the two non- exempt also clock out during their lunch break. Last weekend everyone was required to work over the weekend both days for 12 hours, which is not totally unusual but is not a common occurrence. We all normally work 9-5 throughout the week. My boss then asked both non-exempt employees to take a day or two off this week so that they do not go into overtime hours. I worked the weekend and then on Tuesday I had a planned one day trip to see my mother and due to weather my flight was delayed into Wednesday. We had a function on Wednesday afternoon so I made a good effort to get back to the office by 2:00 pm and worked the function until its close at 5:00pm, ultimately clocking in for 3 hours on Wednesday. I was notified today by our coordinator, and approver of the hours, that because I did not work 4.5 hours which is our company policy for exempt employees, that I would have to use 5 hours of PTO time to get my day to 8 hours. Having just worked 24 hours extra with no additional pay I guess I am confused about if exempt workers are supposed to clock in 40 hours a week or if it is really 8 hours per day? Any clarity would be appreciated.

    1. PurpleMonkeyDishwasher*

      My understanding is that when you’re exempt, it’s entirely up to the discretion of your employer as to whether weekend work “counts” as make-up time for purposes of calculating your PTO (as long as the extra weekend hours wouldn’t bring your total pay below the relevant minimum wage standard where you live). It’s perhaps overly rigid of them to have you use PTO in this situation, but there aren’t really any rules about how much employers are “allowed” to ask exempt workers to work (per day or on a weekly basis) – that’s kind of the point of being exempt.

    2. Dana*

      I know it doesn’t answer your question, but I’m exempt and supposed to work at minimum 40 hours per week. Once in a while there is weekend work that we don’t get extra pay for. Some nights I have stayed quite late with no extra pay. I was here until 9 p.m. one night and had scheduled PTO for two hours the next day because of an appointment I’d be leaving early for. My manager came to me and told me to cancel the PTO for two hours since I had stayed so late the night before. If it hadn’t literally been the next day I doubt it would have happened. It was just a random nicety I think.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        Well, at our company every supervisory I’ve known will tell you to go ahead and take Monday off, and bill those 8 hours you worked on Saturday to Monday. But they’re also really good about work-life balance, and I know that that’s unusual. As others have pointed out, employers CAN ask exempt employees to work as many hours as they want (as long as it doesn’t bring them below minimum wage, IIRC), and still charge you 1 hour PTO for the 2 minutes you were late because you were in the office until 4am the night before.

        1. Savannah*

          Yes, I am not looking for extra pay as I understand what being salaried means, but the two 12 hours back to back weekend work was rough enough and it just seems like that work/life balance is an afterthought. Additionally anyone who is a manager and above at my work does not have to clock in so they can be salaried and do get to use comp time. At this point I’d rather be hourly and get OT.

          1. Artemesia*

            This would have me actively searching. It is a callous nasty way to treat valued employees. You aren’t nickel diming here, you put in 24 extra hours and they want to nickel dime you. This is a business that doesn’t care about its employees. No rush but start scanning your environment for better places to be.

            1. AnonEMoose*

              I agree. The phrase “penny wise and pound foolish” is coming to mind. The goodwill and loyalty they would earn from the OP by not being so rigid about this would be worth far more than anything this would cost the company.

          2. TootsNYC*

            I’d bring this up with your boss. Because he may not be aware of it, and may want to make some sort of exception for you. Or, at least that will give *him* the opportunity to mitigate this for you.

    3. Apollo Warbucks*

      it’s total bullshit but as far as I know from what I read hear it is entirely legal. You can be made to take PTO deductions for every minute under 40 hours, when you run out of PTO time then you company are out of luck as they still have to pay you even if you’re under 40 hours for the week.

    4. Ann O'Nemity*

      Unfortunately, this is legal and it’s not all that abnormal. Still, it’s awfully crappy of your employer/manager.

        1. Payroll Lady*

          Just to follow up on your comment fposte, you are absolutely correct. Comp time is only allowed in very limited conditions and what has been described here could be considered illegal/improper. Depending on the pay period itself, One or both the weekend days will put the employee into overtime, and if it is the end of the period, then you have to pay the time. You can not “even” out the pay weeks but taking time off in the next week. IF this does fall into the comp time regulations, than the time given off MUST be given off at time and 1/2.

              1. NJ Anon*

                We do not allow comp time either. By law, non-exempt employees must be paid cash money for ot and exempt employees, by definition, are not allowed to be compensated for any hours over 40.

                1. Elysian*

                  The law specifies that you can’t pay exempt employees for extra work? That seems unusual. What state are you in, and do you know what law it is?

                2. afiendishthingy*

                  I don’t understand this. She’s not asking for more money, just asking not to have her PTO nickel and dimed after working 24 extra hours over the weekend. I know government employees (don’t know whether OP is one) are subject to weird policies, but I really don’t get the point of this one unless it’s “kill morale”.

    5. GigglyPuff*

      Is there no company policy about overtime for exempt?
      Do you have to clock in and out? So are the hours for that weekend also on the same timesheet as the days off?
      Have you brought it up with your manager? it sounds like the coordinator is a different person
      And while it sucks, you should get something for those weekend days, but this doesn’t always happen.
      It sounds like the trip was planned ahead of time, so presumably you knew you were going to have to use PTO (and again so I’m not jumped on, yes the weekend hours should count towards those hours off or comp time), so I think the issue you might need to raise with your manager, is are you going to get compensated for those weekend days? And if not, whether that will always be the policy moving forward…you also say you’ve had to do occasional weekends before, what happened then for your compensation?

      1. NJ Anon*

        Except in rare cases, exempt employees are not permitted to be compensated for “overtime.” You are paid to do a job regardless of the number of hours. Compensating an exempt employee for “overtime” in effect, invalidates their exempt status and makes them non-exempt and they then need to be paid for the ot. At least in my state (NJ).

        1. Elysian*

          That is not entirely true. Lots of employers pay a bonus, or pay straight-time overtime, to exempt employees. Paying extra, by itself, does not invalidate the exemption. It matters how you treat the employee overall.

          1. NJ anon*

            We met with a lawyer who specializes in employment law and she agreed with our assessment. You can certainly pay bonuses to exempt employees but it cannot be based on hours worked, per we.

        2. GigglyPuff*

          By compensation, I didn’t necessarily mean pay, but other things like comp or leeway when taking PTO and having to report it. Sorry for the confusion.

          I’m exempt, not excepted to work more than 40 hrs, and when I do work an occasional half day on Sats. (required) I get comp time.

    6. CAA*

      Can you talk to your boss about this? The coordinator / time approver is following policy, but perhaps if your boss talked to her, and approved an exception for this week, it would be allowed.

      Also, Saturday and Sunday may be in different weeks, depending on how your business calendar is setup. If you need to work 40 hours per work-week, then the 12 hours worked on Sunday don’t quite cover the 8 hours on Tuesday and 5 hours on Wednesday that you were out and you would need to use at least some PTO to get up to the total.

    7. Mike C.*

      Talk about abuse of the concept of exempt time. If the idea that exempt employees are paid to do a job rather than to fill a seat, they should be able to go home when that job is done without repercussion.

      You say you work for a hospital, do you think a heart surgeon would have to stay an extra few hours one day if a surgery was cancelled, just to make it back up to that 8 hours/day or 40 hours/week?

    8. Lionness*

      Good employers recognize that as an exempt employee you will often work more than 40 hours without receiving more pay. They reward this by allowing for a little discretion on when you must use PTO.

      It doesn’t sound like your employer follows that line of thought. At my place, I do not take “hours” of PTO, I take whole days. So if it is less than a whole day, my employer just asks that I make up some of the time so I am not below 40 hours and anything beyond that is ignored as long as my work is completed.

      I think it would be worth talking to your manager. They may truly just not be thinking of it the same way you are. Good luck and keep us updated!

      1. Savannah*

        This was the case at all other places I have worked before-however because I clock in and clock out there is an exact to the hour data on my workweek hours, leading to the PTO being applied in hours. For managers and above however, who don’t clock in, they use PTO much more like you are describing, daily rather than hourly.

    9. Tyrannosaurus Regina*

      Blargh, halp!
      So the place I applied to this afternoon asks applicants to send a completed application form, résumé, and cover letter by email, to an email address specific to the opening. (So it looks like: jobtitle@institution.org, with a different email address for each position posted.) Their site says: “Online applications will receive automatic confirmation receipt.” It also says: “Please, no telephone or email inquiries; due to high volume, we are unable to respond to individual applicants.” Which, of course, I totally understand.
      Here’s the blargh: I sent my stuff. Well, I tried to: the first time, when I copy and pasted the opening-specific email address, Gmail told me it didn’t exist. So I tried again, typing it directly into the To: field. This time it sent, but I’m really worried it just disappeared into the void because I never got that auto confirmation promised on the job site. Blargh!
      I don’t want to be a pain in the ass, but I’m really tempted to try to follow up in some way to see if my application arrived. …but I’m also kind of thinking they filled the position and just haven’t gotten around to updating the website, and if I called/emailed I’d just get on their nerves and look like a gormless doofus.
      I’m really frustrated, (A) because I’d love a chance to interview with this organization, and (B) at least I wanted that confirmation email so I could document this as an “employer contact” for my unemployment job log.
      Anybody think it would be worth calling to follow up? I don’t want to disregard their explicitly stated do-not-call guidelines, so I’m leaning toward no, but the curiosity is getting to me. If the best course of action is just to move on with my life, I guess I’ll have to make my peace with that.
      Thank you for any thoughts you care to share!

      1. Coach Devie*

        Double check your spam folder for any mailer DAEMON’s it might be trying to send to the address if it looks valid, and will try 4 or 5 times, over a few days before it gives up and returns it to you if it is in fact not valid.

        1. Tyrannosaurus Regina*

          Thank you! Both of you!

          …and apologies, to the world, for accidentally posting my question as a reply to someone else’s. D’oh.

        2. Tyrannosaurus Regina*

          It showed up this morning! Thank you for counseling patience. I feel much better now. :)

    10. The IT Manager*

      That’s not fair, but it is perfectly legal. It would have been very nice if your boss had not charged you PTO; although, that’s difficult for him to do with you clocking in and out and someone else tracking the hours.

      That’s what I see here. Your boss might have been willing to informally comp you the extra time (did you ask) on Wednesday, but the clocking in and out and the coordinator whose job it is to track these things is sticking to her rules/instructions which is the right thing for her to do because it sounds like she’s at a lower level than you are. You wouldn’t want people influencing the coordinators to change their hours.

      1. Savannah*

        My boss has to sign off on all the time sheets so he is aware of PTO usage.(although our time sheets only ever include 40 hours regardless of what I have worked because I am exempt) When I asked him about the PTO issue for this week he deferred back to our coordinator as she has about 10 years of company time more than him. It might be a conversation I can have with him the next time this issue comes up.

        1. Anonsie*

          I think you should talk to the coordinator and say, hey, this is kind of an unusual policy here. Normally people don’t ding exempt employees for PTO like that.

          I mean, that’s part of the perk of being exempt. You often have to go over 40 hours without overtime, but you also don’t have to worry about clocking exact hours like that and taking PTO for the odd shorter day in acknowledgement that you put in extra time more often. That’s a company policy thing and not a legal thing, but it’s common enough practice that it’d be worth asking the coordinator what she thinks. FWIW I was also told to do this by my department when I moved to an exempt roll and I contacted the hospital payroll to double-check what the institution expected as a whole and they said not to clock the PTO, so it’s possible your coordinator (like ours) is so used to dealing with non-exempt employee rules that they’re just not sure what to tell you to do.

    11. ITPuffNStuff*

      It sounds like the company is sending a clear message “you work for a crappy company who doesn’t value you, and should be looking for something better”. If they can’t even tell they are sending that message, that’s just one more reason to look for a better situation.

  2. Christy*

    I got a new job! I asked here a few months ago about applying to two different offices within my government agency, and when one posted the position (SharePoint developer), I applied and I found out this week that I got it! I start at the end of the month. I’ve worked for my current office my entire adult life, and so it’s really exciting to move on to something new. Thanks, everyone, for your advice on that thread. I feel really good about my new job.

    1. Christy*

      Did I mention that they didn’t make me interview? I’ve worked with the office before, and they wrote the posting for me, so once I passed through HR they called me within three days to offer me the job. Unreal.

      1. ElCee*

        That’s excellent! I remember your original post. Congrats and best of luck on your first day!

  3. Former Diet Coke Addict*

    My boss’s latest idea to keep us “motivated” is to block off the entire internet. All of it. Which is fine, except that a big part of our job is researching on the internet–schools and businesses to put into our database. His solution is “Just let me know what sites you need unblocked.” Okay, so we send him lists. “DON’T send me more then 3 sites at a time!” Uh, okay, so we just constantly have four or five emails open and send one every half an hour. Today, he asks “Why does everyone keep sending me so many emails? It’s so annoying to keep unblocking stuff!”

    Yes. I imagine it would be.

    1. Carrie in Scotland*

      Ah, your boss is an idiot but you that already.

      Actually, somewhere I have dealings with only deals with 3 queries at a time when you phone them up.

      1. Bend & Snap*

        I used to have a client who would only consider ideas presented in groups of 3 or 5. It was crazy.

        1. ElCee*

          Well, it makes sense. Martinis must have only 3 or 5 olives, never 4, so …. ok maybe it doesn’t make sense.

    2. Stranger than fiction*

      That is horrible but a while back we had to do this to our customer service reps because it was perceived they were perusing too much but after a bit mgmt realized they also
      needed to look at customers sites so somehow our IT was able to unblock websites in just the industry our customer base is in so they should be able to do something similar for schools

    3. Mike C.*

      Could you automate this somehow, where you have a text file that lists all the sites you need unblocked and it generates the emails?

      What I’m thinking here is that you start making requests not for the main domains (xyz.com), but every section and location within the site (xyz.com/blah/index.html). Get your coworkers to do this as well and just pile on.

      1. Mike C.*

        Even better, get a spider to pull all the links of a site from your phone, and use the results to populate the text file I mentioned earlier.

    4. Folklorist*

      On the one hand, I want you to get a new job for your sanity’s sake; on the other, I really only come to Open Thread to read your crazy posts and would miss them terribly!

    5. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

      I am sorry for your troubles and always appreciative of your stories!

      You need to write a book.

    6. Stephanie*

      So then is he going to ban smartphones, too? Because those are more common nowadays and you’re able to get to the internet from those…

    7. Not So NewReader*

      Some people just go at things verrrry slllowly. For whatever reason, these people are sometimes put in a position where they have to make decisions. I bet he hates his job.

      This has to be painful to watch. I am so sorry.

        1. afiendishthingy*

          Wait, this is the dude who thinks Lady Employees should have better organized Lady Blood, right? Has anybody egged his house yet?

    8. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

      You know, the other thing about your stories is:

      Your boss seems to be a decade behind in his/her issues. (forget if his or her)

      I had to fight this battle with PTB here fifteen years ago. 15 years ago they wanted to block the internet and after I recovered my skull fragments and bits of brain and pasted my head back together again, I walked them through: Stupidest. Idea. Ever. (Among reasons: we were trying to establish an online presence!)

      Block some sites, sure. We run a nanny thing which will block egregious porno, etc. It occasionally scoops up things we need and we’ll submit an unblock request but that’s once every six months.

      Block social networking, er, okay, if you don’t need to ever social network for business but kinda dumb since people use their phones for social networking mostly.

      Block the entire internet? That’s ridiculous.

      (True story, 15 years ago the CEO’s chief worry was: what if they spend all day online shopping? My answer in the year 2000 was I’d give my right arm for a staff of people proficient in ecommerce!)

      1. Ruffingit*

        What about non-egregious porno? ;) JK.

        The IT folks at my job have blocked a ton of web sites and it’s ridiculous. Luckily, most of the blocking has a button that says “Proceed anyway.” Not all, but most. Keep in mind that I work in mental health and often have to print things off from AA/NA meeting schedules and the like for my patients when they leave the hospital. Sites that are blocked include AA meetings, group therapy idea sites and so on. Because…yeah, that makes sense. Sometimes I just don’t understand what these people are thinking.

    9. AdAgencyChick*

      This was the case at my first job out of college — we had to submit requests for unblocking of ANY site. Which was silly, as we worked on licensed products and often had to look up the sites of the characters or universities or brands we had a license with.

      I hope your boss is soon overwhelmed by the requests and realizes it’s, you know, smarter to treat employees like adults.

    10. afiendishthingy*

      Well. Give that guy a nude spray painted gold Barbie, because I bet his employees are motivated as $%#@ now. MANAGING!

    11. Windchime*

      He’ll get sick of unblocking sites one by one and eventually unblock it all. My work has all social media blocked, because they don’t want patients walking down the hall and seeing nurses or receptionists playing on Facebook. And when they first put in this new firewall, AAM was blocked (AUUUUGGGHHH!). Turns out they were blocking everything that fell into the “blog” category, but they unblocked it after I pointed out a bunch of SQL blogs that I needed to be able to read. I also mentioned that I wasn’t able to access my “career blog” (AAM). Fortunately, the block only lasted a couple of days.

    12. ITPuffNStuff*

      i can’t help but file this management decision under “failure is always an option”

  4. Golden Barbie Trophy*

    Any tips for a company buyout or merger? My huge Fortune 500 company is most likely going to be bought by a competitor or merge with one in the next few months. There is a hiring and promotion freeze in place currently. I’ve been looking externally for months so I’m hoping to get out before it happens, but looking for guidance on how to deal in the meantime.

    1. NacSacJack*

      Hang tough. You don t know if you will be one of the ones let go in the post-merger layoffs. Depending on your years of service and your company’s or future merged company’s policy on severance it might be good to hang til you get severance or until the waters settled. Mergers are good opportunities to shine and show what you can do. If you can keep your EQ balanced and energy up, it looks good on you.

    2. Emmie*

      I would keep doing high quality work, and building relationships with people across the board for potential internal or external references. If you’re still there when the merge happens, people in higher places can vouch for your work ethic and quality. I have been through departmental merges, and this helped me stay on board. I’d also make friendly professional contacts with the other company if possible when the move happens. Of course, nothing is guaranteed and you are wise to be looking elsewhere. I’m sorry you’re going through this and good luck to you!

    3. Stranger than fiction*

      Yes you’re smart to be looking and that’s my advice. In my experience usually the company buying yours does some serious reorganization/downsizing

        1. TootsNYC*

          And when I went through that, we got a stay-on bonus, AND the new company simply continued to run those units. Unchanged. And they kept the in-house daycare.

          I bailed, because I thought they wouldn’t keep the daycare (plus, my oldest was just about to age out, and Kgarten was going to get hard due to commuting patterns), AND because someone came and asked me to work for them.

          But often I really wish I hadn’t. I left a huge stay-on bonus, and I could have kept another year of on-site daycare.

    4. Gwen Soul*

      Insurance? If so I am in the same boat. I think it willt ake a year or two to go through though, of course I am nerveous being preganant on top if it.

        1. Gwen Soul*

          That is it! I am stressed, but getting though anti-trust and CMS will take a while. Plus the ones looking to buy us are buying because we have a book of business they don’t, so if you are close to there you won’t be impacted, at least at first. There was also an interesting article about the buyer maybe moving to our headquarter city, which could actually bring more jobs to town. It could go either way of being good for us or being very bad, but I bet it will be awhile before we know. Good convo on Buzz with 80+ comments for other perspectives. I am hanging tight until after maternity leave then will take stock of the situation.

          1. Golden Barbie Trophy*

            I haven’t checked Buzz lately so I will do that – thanks for the tip!

            You’re right – it will take awhile to go through if it happens and that will give employees time to get their game plans in order. Unfortunately, I work in an already vulnerable area of the company, so I’m sure we would be one of the first to go. That’s another reason why I’m trying to get out now.

            Congratulations on the new baby by the way! :)

    5. Dasha*

      Start stashing money in your savings just in case, keep looking but continue doing excellent work. You really never know what will happen. I know it’s a tough situation to be in, so keep your head up! You can get through this!

    6. Anon Accountant*

      Keep looking, networking, doing a great job and unfortunately that’s about all you can do. You don’t know if you will be one of the ones let go in the merger and you could possibly stay at that company. Try to keep building and maintaining internal and external relationships- especially higher-ups. Sorry you are going through this.

      1. some1*

        +1. I went through a merger/acquisition at a former company and they didn’t necessarily base the layoffs of duplicate roles on years of service.

    7. Brandy*

      Stall as long as possible on signing any non-competes that may come your way as part of the merger, if you know you want out.

      1. Golden Barbie Trophy*

        Nope – healthcare/insurance. I’m very sorry that you are going through something similar.

        1. Bend & Snap*

          Right back at you. My friend survived an Amazon acquisition and said for M&A that size, people typically have about 18 months before things change. So it should give you a chance to read the writing on the wall and act accordingly.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            I have seen this in other arenas also, I will agree with the 18 month lag time. Once they buy the company you probably have 18 months before stuff happens. But keep that as an ace card up your sleeve and go like heck now to try to get yourself to a safer spot.

            1. AntherHRPro*

              Don’t count on 18 months before thing start. With each of our acquisitions we have moved quickly and the integration took place over a period of about 18 months, but some individuals received notice within days of the purchase. It depends on the purpose for the acquisition. Sometime you keep the company whole and allow it to run as it did. If there is potential for savings due to duplication of work (i.e., two sales forces that can be combined into one, two billing depts. that can be combined, etc.) it may take some time to figure out the best way to integrate the work but you can expect layoffs. With those layoffs most big companies will offer severance and even outplacement assistance. But you may not want to hold off on looking for job for this if you can land something sooner before others are looking for work.

              Good luck to you!

              1. Have courage and be kind in Austin, TX*

                I was included in a layoff due to an acquisition in the healthcare industry, and it happened in 3 months. I had already lined up new work, so staying and getting severance for me was a good thing, but it’s important not to count on things like “18 months”.

                Through LinkedIn I noticed that some groups indeed stayed intact for about 18 months, but others were dismissed much earlier.

                I think the best thing to do is what others said (and I did) — start networking and applying for jobs, as you never know how long it will take to find a great job, and when you do at least you have a choice to consider if you still have your current job, as opposed to passively waiting and ending up surprised with a layoff.

          2. TootsNYC*

            One nice thing–if there’s interaction between the two companies during that 18 months, that increases the number of people who might think well of you and be part of your network.

    8. Golden Barbie Trophy*

      I guess I should add that I’ve been deeply unhappy at my current workplace for quite some time. It’s changed a lot since I started there five years ago and it has become a place that I’m no longer proud to work for. Plus, the entire industry just feels icky to me and not one im passionate about. Even if I don’t get laid off, I don’t want to stay with the company. Of course, I’m hoping (and have been working diligently towards) to find a new and better position at an external company soon. If something happens, I’m going to use it as an opportunity to reposition my life for the better.

      1. Gwen Soul*

        Good reason to leave then, you have a great response for why you want to get out! I personally love my area and what we do so I would be really sad to not have this job.

      2. of souls, and to your scattered bodies go*

        Maybe you’ve got some inside scoop on it, but – based on what you’ve said, I’d stay at the place. It sounds like even more Change is just around the corner. Yeah, they might simply lay you off. Or – they might offer you a better job and salary to stay and provide some continuity. It’s impossible to say, but – unless I had a totally great job offer from another company staring me in the face, I’d want to stay and see what happens. Just MHO.

    9. Not So NewReader*

      Check Glassdoor to see if you can pick up any tidbits about the buyer.
      Check out business sites/articles for more tidbits of info.

      Chin up and treat everyone in the same professional manner. Keep in mind that, just like you, they did not chose to be in this situation. Hang on to that idea, it might help from time to time.

      Not all M and As are bad, we just hear about the ones that really suck. Some are so-so and some go okay. A friend got a half year’s pay as a gift from the exiting company. Another friend had such a tiny office in the boonies that the new company paid no attention and life went on as usual.

      Stay sharp. Read EVERYTHING they give you. Keep it in a file and keep it organized.
      Even though it looks like you will probably leave, minimally you still should know where your health insurance went and where your retirement went (if you have these things).

      Contract agreements for a purchase like this can be as unique as people are. There are things written into the contracts that are unique to the situation. Pay attention to what people are talking about that they think is “strange” or “different”. This is how you will learn about what is going on with your specific setting- through scuttlebutt and running commentary.

      Even if you have a sucky boss, if he answers your questions with “I don’t know” he probably actually does not know. Don’t let his “I don’t know’s” make you more tense. Just keep with your plan and work your plan.

      If things get really tense create a daily no-fly zone. I’d recommend and hour or two before bed- where you do not think about it and you do not talk about it. Just take a time out from it all, on a daily basis.

  5. EdibleCrayon*

    In searching for a new job, does anyone ever get worried they might move from an ‘okay/tolerable but not loving it’ job, to something far worse that you’ll end up regretting the move?

    I’m starting up the search for a new job, still at my first full-time professional post-under-grad job so I’ll be on the hunt for #2. The move is making me a little nervous, especially after so many AaM horror stories. Thoughts or advice?

    1. Heather*

      Yes. The devil you know is always better than the devil you don’t.

      That’s why it’s important to interview THEM as well as they interview you. Ask questions about work load, managerial style, culture of office, etc etc. Don’t ignore red flags.

        1. Revanche*

          I meant: your idea of tolerable might have been skewed by being with them so long and it’s possible to find that another version of “tolerable but not loving it” is actually much better. But yes, absolutely watch out for red flags!

      1. Future Analyst*

        Absolutely agreed on this. Make sure that you interview while you’re still tolerating your current job, few things make you select a new job as poorly as being in a hurry to get somewhere new. Walking into the interview, don’t be afraid to ask questions: prod and poke a bit to see what they think they do well, and what they can improve on. If they don’t think they need to improve on anything, beware. Also, think carefully about any trade-offs you might have to make in the new position. Make your list of must-haves before you even apply: if a short commute is a must-have, don’t apply for anything outside of a certain radius. If you’re looking for more money, make sure you know what you’d like, and what’s reasonable in your field.

        The more guidelines you have in place when starting your search, the better you can predict your future happiness at a given employer. This is not fool-proof, though, so prepare yourself for the possibility that you take a job that’s not an improvement. We all make mistakes, so try to learn what you can from picking poorly, and move on.

        1. Future Analyst*

          To clarify: I agree with the notion that you should interview them as much as they are interviewing you.

    2. nona*

      Yep. I get it. But we only hear stories when people write in for advice or in the open thread – of course we’re not hearing about new jobs where everything’s okay or actually great.

        1. nona*

          Yeah, we do get good updates. :) I just mean that people don’t write in to an advice site to say “everything’s fine,” they write in when they need advice.

    3. Emmie*

      Totally normal! It’s also pretty normal to regret the move for a while after you’ve gone. (I chalk that up – for me – to going from an expert in one company to a brand new learner in another.) There are lots of great and even okay opportunities, and it’s worth it to advance your skills. Good luck!

    4. Stranger than fiction*

      Just do your diligence researching the companies and people you’re interviewing with look at glass doors linked in etc and ask the questions Alison recommends which give you great clues

    5. ExceptionToTheRule*

      No advice, just commiseration. I’m trying to decide the next stage of my career and while I love what I do and the benefits are decent, I don’t love the crappy hours, the “eh” pay, and 90% of the people I have to work with. So, do I try to outlast them and stay or are the pastures actually, possibly greener on the other side.

    6. Helen of What*

      Yeah, 2014 was a bad luck year for me employment-wise. I had a good but not great job, which was my first job out of undergrad. In a weird twist of fate they ended up going out of business shortly after I left, so it was a good idea to leave–except that I left for a job that ultimately decided they didn’t need me. And then I quickly was picked up by another small business that was toxic, paid horribly, and which the owner seems desperate to sell. I started looking for a new job a month in, was fired a few months later.

      But I’ve temped at a couple of great places since, and can better recognize the signs of a good workplace and a bad one. If you’re reading AAM regularly, you can more clearly see the bigger red flags waving in your face before you accept the job. While you can’t avoid everything that could possibly go wrong, you can screen employers well, research them, and handle the bad stuff tactfully if needed. I am super careful about reading between the lines when considering jobs now! May the force be with you.

      1. Future Analyst*

        +1 to everything in your last paragraph. Hope things are going better for you in 2015!

    7. Former Usher*

      As others have noted, make sure to interview the potential employer. And pay attention to their responses! When I was interviewing for job #2, an interviewer let it slip that they weren’t very good with training. I didn’t press for details at the time. Once I started, training consisted of watching a videotape on fire extinguisher use, and an hour introduction to the department org chart and data structure. Ouch. I received more training as a bagger at a grocery store.

      If you decide to accept a job, make sure EVERYTHING is in writing. I accepted that job based on certain assurances from the hiring manager. On my first day, HR had me sign a document acknowledging that any such assurances were not valid unless in writing and approved by the executive director. Yikes. It was a sign of things to come.

    8. INTP*

      I used to not but…I actually DID make that mistake once. I went to a new job that was a much shorter commute (battling socal traffic for 2 hours a day was literally making me more misanthropic) and slightly higher pay and absolutely perfect for me on paper. Unfortunately, it was a just-past-startup-phase company of about 100 people with a whackadoodle CEO whose personality basically determined the work environment and his personality was pushy, always has to “win” every social interaction, every single minute thing has to be an absolute crisis for everyone. Like, he would turn the ordering of promotional pens into a crisis (refuse to allow us to order pens until he approved them, not bother approving a model until it was past the last date to ship them in time for an event, expect us to be on the phone with the company demanding not to be charged an expedited shipping rate – it was like that for literally every task we were given). It made me miserable and I wished that I had just stayed at my old job even though I was getting good experience. On the plus side, it gave me the push I needed to commit to grad school ASAP because I didn’t think I could emotionally survive another year if I put it off for another application season.

    9. Elizabeth West*

      After Exjob laid me off and I heard they had fired Bullyboss, I was terrified I’d end up working somewhere he worked. Or that I would get a job and they’d hire him. Thankfully, that didn’t happen. I can’t imagine him working here, and I heard he started his own business anyway.

      1. 22dncr*

        Elizabeth – this is my fear too!!! So I try to google stalk my horrible ex-bosses so I know where they are.

        1. Merry and Bright*

          I do that too! Two of them, anyway – from Toxic Job. I am currently in one of the last places they would work so I am safe at the moment. I saw Poisonous Polly on the tube in London a few weeks ago and my heart missed a few beats. Even after nearly 3 years she still had a rant. Well out of that place.

      2. Revanche*

        Holy crap, you’ve just given me a fresh nightmare, Elizabeth. I never thought it could happen but an ex-manager of Worst Job Ever sent a resume that crossed my path and now I feel compelled to check to confirm none of those Froot Loops might be in this area.

    10. Melissa*

      I worry about that sometimes (I’m currently job searching) but I figure that the only way I’ll ever find out is to actually do it.

      I agree with Heather’s advice. I’ve been asking some thoughtful questions about the jobs I’ve interviewed for and have been able to identify quite a bit about the working environments at these places and who I’d be working with. The most comforting thing I’ve uncovered (which Alison says all the time, and it’s true) is that hiring managers and recruiters are humans who in general realize that they are looking for other humans to hire into their jobs, and are looking for the right fit – so they answer questions truthfully.

      Also, I found Alison’s book and interview guide to be tremendously helpful in setting realistic expectations for the job search. That’s where I came to the conclusion that hiring managers are humans, lol, and she’s got excellent examples of questions you can ask at your interviews to ferret out information.

    11. Steph*

      I know how you feel. I had two back to back terrible jobs and I’m still not out of the woods yet, career-wise. My mistake was snapping up the first opportunity to get away from a bad situation and not paying attention to the red flags telling me the new job was going to be just as bad. If you want to move to a different job, you should definitely try to make it happen. Just be careful and, like others have said, really investigate the places that you interview. As long as you’re not blinded by the desire to move on, you’ll be in a good position to make the right decisions.

    12. INFJ*

      I agree with all the advice about asking the right questions during interviews to give you a good sense of the working environment.

      I would like to add that this is especially important about the hiring manager, i.e., your future boss. I recently left an “OK/tolerable, not loving it” job for what has proven to be my dream job. It was a great fit in many ways, but knowing that my manager would be everything I required in a boss helped seal the deal. During my interviews (which included talking individually to all my future coworkers, a team of 4), every person had something amazing to say about my future boss- without me even asking them about her! I got so much information during the interviews (and research on the company!) about culture and work life balance and performance expectations that I have had no surprises 2 months in.

      Your boss is the person who has the biggest impact on your job experience: the policies that are put in place, how much support you have, what your work/life balance looks like, etc. Make sure what you need out of a manager aligns with what they have to offer.

  6. Boogles*

    My husband and I are considering a move to Richmond, VA. We find living in the metro DC area tough and can’t seem to reconcile housing costs and ridiculous commutes. Does anyone know how the job market is in Richmond? My husband works for a DOD contractor and I work in HR and have experience in Operations and Event Planning. Pros/ Cons on relocating to Richmond, finding a job there versus here, etc…? Any advice would be much appreciated!

    1. Adams*

      I’m not how much I can say on those two jobs categories, but we just relocated to Richmond (but not from DC) and love it so far. I was able to find a job pretty quickly at VCU and can now commute by bike! My husband grew up in the DC area and is so thankful to no longer live in the car, but of course that’s much easier living in downtown RVA compared to the surrounding areas.

    2. FairlyNewRichmond-er*

      I just moved to Richmond in the last few years. It is a very nice place to live, much smaller than DC. Also significantly lower cost of living.

      Most people I know work in state government, banking/finance, or the healthcare sector. There are also a handful of large private sector companies based in Richmond. As far as DOD contractors, there aren’t many in Richmond – far more in the Hampton Roads area. I found a job here pretty quickly (actually the reason I moved to Richmond). It took my SO several months to find a job with one of the large banks. There are definitely jobs available, but it is a much smaller market than NOVA/DC.

      Overall, I think Richmond feels much smaller, slower, and laid-back than the DC metro area. Richmond is a fairly insular town, I think because many people have been in Richmond for years and years, but it is a great place to live once you get settled.

    3. Not Katie the Fed*

      If your husband is a DoD contractor, you might want to look at the Fredericksburg Area. The housing prices are decent, and there’s a lot of work at Quantico and Dahlgren. (If you’re interested in more info, let me know.)

    4. MegEB*

      I second Katie the Fed on the Fredericksburg suggestion. My boyfriend works for a defense contractor (only for two more weeks – he just got offered a position with the fed. government!) in DC and lives in the metro DC area, and he says that Richmond can be tough but Fredericksburg is developing quite nicely. Maybe check out an open house or two?

    5. AnotherFed*

      It’s certainly easier to find a job in the DC metro area for government and government contractors. That said, there are a couple of military installations within a reasonable commute of Richmond, so depending on what your work experience is you should be able to find something at one of the contractors associated with those installations. It’ll be a lot easier if your husband is looking for something fairly junior or mid-level than if he’s relatively senior – there aren’t many large DoD employers until you get a few counties north.

    6. Not my real name :)*

      I’ve been living in Richmond for a few years now working for a major employer in the area. My job brought me here from a larger city. Overall, Richmond is a nice town. Much slower pace and much cheaper. I’ve seen the greater area grow a lot in the past few years. I would think you would be able to find a job fairly easily. I don’t know about your husband.

    7. BigBadBernie*

      The job market is limited in Richmond. Capital One is the largest employer, and they pay well. Other large employers include VCU, the Federal Reserve, Carmax.

      I moved down to Richmond to work for Capital One. I liked the job but never really got into living in Richmond. A bit of a cow town, as my wife liked to say. The cost of living was great, but I missed the intellectual and artistic opportunities that we had in NJ. After seven years we moved back, not really missing anything except a really good barber.

  7. Sunflower*

    Update on the job at the ad/branding company with 95% terrible glassdoor reviews which has brought up some other questions

    HR emailed me this week about setting up a phone call with the head of the dept (my first phone interview was with HR). I decided that I would at least move forward and see if I got to the in-person so I could see the office myself. I got back to them to let them know I was free during the majority of the time they asked about. HR wrote back that they had a 3 hour window open next week and now they want me to come in for an in-person interview during that entire time.

    I know 3 hour job interviews are not uncommon but I’ve only had a preliminary call thus far. Considering I’m not a very senior candidate(4 years out of college), I was a little thrown off. I’m obviously wary of this company so I’m now trying to figure out if this is common or not. The longest interview I’ve ever had was 1.5 hours. I have very limited time off at my company(i almost always schedule my interviews after work with no issue) so I probably won’t be going in anyway but just trying to gauge if this is normal for this industry?

    1. Stranger than fiction*

      I wouldn’t let the 3 hr interview be a red flag at all. I’m an Admin and also have a customer service background so nothing fancy but have been on plenty interview that last this long or eve up to 4 hours if they want you to meet with several people but the 95% negative wow I too would want to interview just to see the train wreck up close

      1. Sunflower*

        I think what threw me off was they wanted to do a phone call then all of a sudden decided to do a 3 hour, in person interview and only gave me 1 time slot with 2 business days notice. That just felt like a huge jump to me.

        1. Jax*

          I had an interview similar to this with a super short notice (“We’re interviewing at 9 on Tuesday”) and a warning to come prepared with notepad and pen. It was a group interview–more than likely scheduled around the top candidate–that drug on for 3 hours with essays and role playing and I left there SO ANGRY. I very much felt like I had been used.

          TL:DR – If you feel off about it because it seems “rushed”, trust your gut. A good company that is genuinely interested in you will work around your scheduled.

        2. Shan*

          The 3 hour interview isn’t abnormal, as it normally just means they are able to schedule the people you need to meet with all within that window. This could also be the reason for only offering 1 time slot.

          The negative reviews raise more of a concern, which leaves you to decide whether you think it would be worth a 3 hour interview. I would do more research on the company (not necessarily on Glassdoor) to determine whether or not you could see yourself working there. Good luck!

        3. Lizabeth*

          It’s not a red flag…just the “employer market” cycle we’re in at the moment. Don’t forget that you are interviewing THEM as well; it’s not a one-way street.

        4. of souls, and to your scattered bodies go*

          I may be hopelessly optimistic, but a long interview may mean they have several people they want you to talk to. The short notice may indicate some urgency on their part. (Admittedly, it could be that the recruiter’s boss just yelled at them because they haven’t brought someone in to interview in awhile).

    2. Melissa*

      I don’t know what industry you’re in, but I’m currently job hunting in tech and 3-hour interviews (or a series of interviews over the course of a full day) are quite common. I’m not a senior candidate, either – I have a PhD, but I’m only a year out of graduate school, and my role would be entry-level.

    3. Stephanie*

      Yeah, I’ve done all-day interviews (including dinner with the hiring manager) for entry-level jobs. I also did an all-day interview for a junior-level (not entry-level) job. In that latter role, I would have been assigned to projects under various team members, so they all wanted to interview me.

    4. Coach Devie*

      3-hour window doesn’t automatically read to me that they want you to do a 3 hour interview, just that they have time during a specific 3 hours to interview you. Am I misreading something?

      Also, not uncommon for a long interview day if they want you to interview with more than one person, etc.

    5. Thinking out loud*

      I’m in a different industry, but the-hour interviews are very normal – I had one yesterday! I also had a full-day interview once.

    6. TootsNYC*

      I think especially since this is HR, they’re grabbing that whole hour so they have more flexibility to slot the department-specific hiring manager and staff into it. And so they can do any additional interviews all at once–it’s probably easier.

  8. nona*

    Thanks for the advice on I/O psychology programs last week! I’m still thinking about it, studying to retake the GRE, and looking at programs in my state’s schools.

    1. edj3*

      I missed your post last week! I have an MS in I/O psychology from Kansas State University, which offers a blended program. It was the right choice for me and I’ve found it quite useful in my career. My background is in learning and development, and I did go the consultant route for nine years (mostly management consulting, some organizational development and a lot of change management).

      1. nona*

        Cool! If you’re still visiting this thread, do you mind if I ask about that? What drew you to I/O psychology? What did you like about consulting, and what have you done since then?

  9. Golden Barbie Trophy*

    Do you tend to work better for a male or female manager?

    I’m female but my best managers have always been male. My female managers have always acted like junior high girls – catty, petty, and cliquey. I know this isn’t indicative of female managers overall (men can certainly act this way as well!), but it’s been a pattern in my professional life.

    1. Christy*

      My direct managers have always been male, but the directors over them have mostly been female. The directors have always been highly competent, without any sort of cattiness issue. I’ve had fewer interpersonal issues with the women than with the men. (I’m female in case that’s not clear.)

    2. TotesMaGoats*

      I’ve had a majority of female managers and it’s been hit or miss on that. The male managers, at first, were great but then I got to really see true colors and they weren’t any different from the catty female managers. Cattiness and pettiness transcends gender. I think it shows differently in men though.

      1. Lizzy May*

        This! Petty and childish people exist everywhere. Women get a bad rap as “gossipy” and “catty” but there are just as many men who behave that way without getting that title.

        1. Stephanie*

          I work with a bunch of Teamsters (who are mostly male) and they looooooove to gossip. Trust me, it’s just not limited to women.

        2. Kristen*

          Speaking of women getting a bad rap for being gossipy, I had an interview this week and my would-be boss’s boss told me that he doesn’t tolerate drama and gossiping in the office (asking if I was OK with that). I didn’t think much of it, but wondered later if he gives the same speech to the men he interviews.

          1. Clever Name*

            I would have been taken aback if someone said that to me in an interview and I would really wonder about the working environment. In my experience, pretty much anyone who says “I’m not into drama” is actually a huge source of it.

    3. Ann O'Nemity*

      I don’t have a preference and haven’t really noticed a gendered pattern. I wonder if this varies by industry?

    4. HeyNonnyNonny*

      …looking back, 100% of my managers have been female. But I can say that they have ranged from wonderful to micromanagey. No one’s been catty yet!

    5. Stranger than fiction*

      I’ve had the same experience I hate to say. I’m female and have always gotten along better with male teachers and bosses and all my best friends are male but low and behold I now have two female bosses and they are great and none of the awful things you mention so life is full of pleasant surprises

    6. Ambee*

      I’ve worked for great men and women and crappy men and women. Haven’t really noticed a pattern.

    7. August*

      I am working for a female manager for the first time in my career and I can easily say she is one of the best managers I have had. She is no way catty, petty or cliquey. I have worked with five male managers. Two were good managers, two were horrible, incompetent jackasses, one was just neutral.

    8. Katie the Fed*

      So…I’m a female manager in a very male industry, and it’s been REALLY hard for me to find a mentor for this very reason. The few women I’d worked for I haven’t have good experiences with. I don’t know why – I think maybe because it was hard for women to get ahead the ones who did generally did so by being fairly brutal, but I had terrible experiences. So I find it difficult to know what “right” looks like in terms of being a woman manager, so I read and observe and just do my best. I want to break the pattern.

      1. ITPuffNStuff*

        so the strategies you’ve seen successfully implemented by other managers are not something you feel comfortable implementing?

        i’m confused why gender is playing a role here. perhaps you can clarify what the problem is?

    9. Anonymusketeer*

      In both of my previous professional jobs, I got along fine with my male direct supervisor but clashed with a female boss in charge of running the show. I felt one female manager was very cliquey and overly involved in the personal lives of her employees.

      The other female manager was fine a lot of the time but seemed petty and when it was time to actually manage. She often left early to attend her kids’ track meets or whatever but was very rigid when childless employees had commitments. She also was known to keep a file on her computer called the “shit list,” where she recorded every teeny tiny mistake you made and later included it in your annual review. Things like “Anonymusketeer needs to be more self directed; when she was sent off-premises for an assignment on her third day of work in an unfamiliar city, she called her manager for clarification even though the manager had already told her what he wanted.”

      I briefly had a direct manager who was a woman about my age and we got along great at work but I always felt like she didn’t like me as a person.

      1. Anonymusketeer*

        I should add that this probably has more to do with me than with my managers. I worked in an industry known for promoting people who are the best at their (somewhat technical) jobs rather than people with actual management skills. So they were all equally clueless about how to train, motivate, or critique people.

        Actually, that female direct supervisor I had was pretty darn good at actually managing. It just hurt my feelings that she didn’t want to be my friend, even after (or especially after) she left the company.

    10. Vex*

      I’m the opposite. I’ve had one really awesome male boss, but otherwise the most toxic drama llama managers I’ve had were men. In particular, I worked in a couple of environments where a majority-female group was headed by a male manager, and for some reason I always found those to be the worst. In one case, the male boss projected a lot of his marital problems onto female staff members (“why are you so NEGATIVE??” in response to bringing up a totally standard business problem) and in another the male boss would straight up physically intimidate us, although I’m not sure he even consciously realized he was doing it. This is completely anecdotal, but I’ve had better experiences with men who were managing a more mixed-gender staff.

      I’ve had fewer female managers, but better experiences generally. I’ve been lucky to work for some very no-nonsense, “did the work get done?” type women. OTOH I’ve also worked with some women who were nightmares, so I don’t assume a female manager is always going to be better than a male one or vice versa.

    11. Revanche*

      I’ve had dismal male and female managers, the only one that wasn’t horrible happened to be male but the female boss I could have had at the job was also pretty great. So, just luck of the draw on personality and managing types, really.

    12. CAA*

      I’m a woman in tech, and perhaps oddly, most of my managers, including the current one, have been female.

      I’ve had good managers of both genders, but the best ones have been female. Don’t know if that’s just due to numbers though.

      1. ITPuffNStuff*

        maybe not as odd as it sounds. for my last 15 years working in IT:

        male managers: 6
        female managers: 5

    13. Future Analyst*

      I don’t have a preference, I care mostly about communication style. If you play games and talk in circles, engage in gossip and are petty, I have no use for you. If you’re direct and clear about what you need, we’ll work very well together. Interestingly, the managers I’ve had have skewed the opposite ways of what you describe.

    14. Ama*

      I’ve had several of each (I’m also a woman) and I have had about an even 50/50 split of good/bad across genders — including one man and one woman who were each fired for very similar misconduct. Honestly all my bosses, male and female who were bad were overly obsessed in different ways with interpersonal relationships over the actual work being done — control freaks who interpreted any initiative-taking as disrespect, paranoid bosses who warned me on the first day my coworkers would try to undermine me (not true), bosses who went out of their way to get people to like them which turned out to be a cover for their embezelling… I think it’s not so much a gender thing as a bad boss thing.

    15. I'm a Little Teapot*

      My good managers have mostly been female; my bad managers have all been male. And by bad managers, I mean one who had a habit of not paying people (among many other things) and two of whom refused to train people, expected mind-reading, and constantly insulted me, one of whom who was arrested for assaulting my coworker.

      So, while I intellectually understand that gender essentialism is bullshit, I have a visceral “Oh God no” reaction to having a male boss. It’s wrong, and it’s something I’m trying to work on, but it comes from some very bad experiences.

    16. AnonyGoose*

      Can we please not define professionals by their gender? Confirmation bias is strong, and the idea that “women managers are catty, bitchy, etc.” is one of the stereotypes that does a real disservice to women in the workplace.

      You might have a previous woman boss that was unprofessional. That does not mean that all woman bosses are unprofessional, or that all men bosses are professional.

      1. August*

        Exactly..I cannot help but think that the OP had a
        1. Bad luck that she always had bad female managers or
        2. She is biased and labeling all the female managers she had as catty
        3. She is not comfortable with female being an authority figure and gets into power struggle and then call them catty which she doesn’t do with men

        I hope I don’t get flamed for what I said.

        1. Snargulfuss*

          Right, and there’s tons of literature out there showing that a behavior exhibited by one gender may be read as positive but exhibited by another gender labeled as negative. That’s not to say that there aren’t bad managers out there, but there’s so much bias when it comes to gender and authority in the workplace.

      2. Amanda*

        +1.
        Would it be okay to ask a question like: “Do you work better for white or black managers?” This isn’t really any different.

      3. AnonyGoose*

        There is one exception. Women managers in STEM fields are, of course, distractingly sexy.

        1. Windchime*

          Well, yeah. Because they are always taking off their glasses and pulling the pins out of their long hair, then shaking it out in slow-motion. Duh.

      4. Zhook*

        I disagree, no one is saying every woman does this. Women are sharing their experiences, which may differ from yours – people post here from all over the world. This is a widely recognized phenomenon, so let’s talk about it , not shame and silence women.

      5. ITPuffNStuff*

        agreed, however i would add that the stereotypes do everyone a disservice in the workplace. are male managers more likely to be demanding, aggressive, unreasonable, aloof? are female managers more likely to be creative, kind, personable, flexible? of course neither stereotype is true, but both are propagated. so yes, we need to avoid gender definitions, but we also need to acknowledge that is for everyone’s benefit. the view that a victim of gender bias must automatically be female is a gender bias in and of itself, and (i feel) is often used to silence men who think it’s worth discussing how gender bias affects both men and women.

        1. AnonyGoose*

          We can move to that as soon as this whole pay gap thing is resolved. Until then, I feel safe to say that stereotypes negatively affect women in the workplace disproportionately to the way they affect men. (Not to say that we shouldn’t actively avoid stereotyping men based on gender, obviously. Just that the danger of “silencing men” isn’t really my number one concern when discussing the issues women face in the workplace.)

          1. ITPuffNStuff*

            hi AnonyGoose! thanks for replying!

            your comments are fair, and if we’re talking exclusively about pay, promotions, and hiring, you’re absolutely right that this disproportionately impacts women. i do question, however, why we would limit the discussion to only those 3 items. there’s a lot that goes on in the work place, and selecting only those which disproportionately impact women biases the conversation in a way that … well … silences men.

            unfortunately there’s no way to solve it as if it were two separate problems, because it’s really two separate sets of symptoms with a single, shared root cause, which is that we view men as inherently different from women. i don’t think it’s actually possible to solve one without also solving the other.

            if the above 2 points are not convincing to you, i offer 1 more: the very fact that men do occupy positions of power in many workplaces means that solutions for equality can’t be implemented without involving men. equality requires getting more men on board (and particularly those few men who occupy positions of power and can actually do something about it). silencing those whose support is critical doesn’t sound like a workable path to equality to me. men are involved in the situations, and thus have both a right and a requirement to be involved in the solutions. silencing us sends a clear message: “your needs are irrelevant”. that’s a quick path to alienation, which just reinforces separation and perpetuates sexism. men can’t be involved in the solutions if we are excluded from the conversation.

            please don’t make men the enemy; gender bias is the enemy. it is something every infant, male and female, is raised in since they are too small to know the difference. every single person is guilty of gender bias every single day, and most of us are not even consciously aware of it. we perpetuate that bias against ourselves as individuals, against others of our own gender, and against the opposite gender. gender bias affects men differently, but no less, than women. and men are neither more nor less guilty of perpetuating it than women.

            men and women have to agree to work together if this problem is going to be solved rather than perpetuated. we can’t work together effectively if half the people in the situations are excluded from the conversation.

    17. amandine*

      I work better for managers who are clear, direct and straightforward. Their gender is irrelevant to me.

    18. zora*

      I’ve had a couple of awesome female managers. One was a little too ‘nice’ to employees much of the time, and would let some people walk over her, but she was great to me, and I wanted to work hard so she supported basically everything I did, and would always be there to help me make things better when I wanted to. And I was pretty independent of the people who were taking advantage of her.

      My worst bosses have been men. The worst being a space cadet who wouldn’t do anything, wouldn’t hold anyone accountable for their work, and wouldn’t give me any support or resources when I needed it to do my job. And we would have to hound him for weeks on end to get the smallest task from him. The second worst being a socially awkward tech-guy type who could not get his brain around the big picture, and couldn’t let anyone do their job without him getting to approve every single step.

      So, I think there are lots of different ways people can be terrible managers. And those aren’t limited to women. Maybe the reason you’ve had your experience is the trends are more by industry/sector? Your area tends to draw similar kinds of people, and the women tend to be petty?

    19. TheExchequer*

      Depends on the manager. Doesn’t seem to have anything to do with gender. I’ve gotten along well with both male and female managers. I’ve also had both male and female managers who could’ve inspired their own blogs!

    20. Cereal Killer*

      Just counted it out, in 10-ish years I’ve had 10 different managers (which seems like A LOT). Only two of those managers have been women. And one of them I just started working for three weeks ago sooooo… too soon to judge. But the other woman I worked for was one of my favorite managers ever. She was good at communication and managing people/personalities. She took an interest in my growth and development and worked with me to get me where I wanted to be. And I never felt she was catty though everyone has personality flaws. On the other hand, while I’ve worked for some great male manager, I’ve also worked with male managers that are blatantly sexist, male managers that are raging narcissists and incredibly entitled, and male managers who are good at managing processes but not people.

      I think you might have had a string of bad luck with female managers, but really a lot of this is probably due to industry and how their personality fits in that industry. I’ve found as a whole that great managers are hard to come by no mater what gender.

    21. Xay*

      I don’t have a preference. I’ve worked for or with catty, petty, and cliquey managers of both genders. Right now, my manager is female and very helpful, supportive and fair.

    22. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I really, really hate this entire line of questioning. It reinforces bias and stereotypes, and is kind of like discussing whether you prefer working for managers of race X or race Y. I’d love it if as a society we put a ban on it.

      1. thelazyb*

        Yeah – you’d never hear people asking about black managers vs white ones, or older managers vs younger ones….

      2. Not So NewReader*

        Personally, I had to have a chat with myself. The only true common thread in my crappy boss stories is ME. I had to take a look at what I was missing that some how I ended up with a few crappy bosses. The answer was that I was way too passive in that area during the interview stages.

        It would be a wonderful magic bullet to be able to decide that x type people make crappy bosses and we should avoid all x type people. Problem solved! Reality is, though, we are responsible for where we put ourselves because no one else can dig us out of a bad spot, we have to do it ourselves. The worse the spot the more introspection we should use. Figure out what went wrong and figure out how to apply that learning so it does not happen again.

        1. ITPuffNStuff*

          +1 for personal responsibility! so difficult to acknowledge the ways we limit our own growth! thank you for sharing this!

    23. Cath in Canada*

      I’ve had good and bad female bosses, and good and not-bad-so-much-as-clueless male bosses. Current boss is male and awesome. I have a slight preference for male bosses overall, because of one (overall great!) female boss who would chat to me about work while we were both using the washroom. Guys can’t do that to me :D

    24. FiveWheels*

      I have a male manager who is eccentric but I get on great with, and had a female manager who was totally normal and I got on great with.every other manager I’ve had has been intolerable in one way or another.

      In general I socialise much better with men, but in work it doesn’t seem to make much of a difference. (I’m female.)

    25. Jessie's Girl*

      I’ve only been managed by females but I’ve had good and bad managers, including some where I’ve had to manage up.

      I don’t think I can generalize by gender though.

    26. TootsNYC*

      Oddly, I’ve never had a male boss!

      But my female bosses have all been perfectly reasonable.

  10. Good Golly*

    Hi all, I’m a new reader here (steadily making my way through years of archives) and would love any advice people might have for me.

    Some background: I’m currently finishing up my PhD and am applying for non-academic jobs. I have some experience in instruction, research, course development, and conference organization, but all at my university (let’s call it Westeros University), so I’m finding it hard to calibrate how much this experience will count for in professional circles. (I’m fully prepared for the answer to be “Not at all,” by the way.) So I’m trying to write good, tailored cover letters, but could use some guidance as to what is appropriate to include. Just as a concrete example, one job I’m applying for is at Westeros University, in the area of international recruitment.

    So here are some questions, though general comments would of course be appreciated as well!

    1) One thing they require is previous international or cross-cultural work/study/volunteer experience. I recently spent time studying abroad, so I include that info. But can I discuss in my cover letter my previous experience volunteering with my local cultural organization? I did things like design and deliver cultural presentations, as well as co-hosting the annual fundraiser formal gala with 300+ guests. This was over 7 years ago, so I’ve left it off my resume, but it seems relevant in this context. (They also want someone with strong presentation skills, and I want to show that not all my presentation experience is academic in nature.) But is it naive to talk about this kind of volunteer stuff from years ago?

    2) I’m underqualified in the sense that they want someone with two years’ related experience working in a university environment, whereas my work has mostly been on the instruction side. From what I’ve read, it seems like it’s better not to bring this up explicitly (“Although I don’t have the two years’ experience you ask for, I do have these other totally great qualities…”) and instead, to just focus on what I can offer. Does this seem right? And is it silly to claim that getting my graduate degree at Westeros Uni has provided me with personal insight that would help me knowledgeably promote our school and programs?

    1. GigglyPuff*

      I would maybe switch the study abroad and volunteer experience. Volunteer experience is completely legit on a resume when it relates to the job, and this definitely does. But with the study abroad it really depends on where, how long, what for? Because there are so many varying levels of study abroad, if yours wasn’t…”immersion” enough it might look naive to include it.

      1. Cath in Canada*

        But if they’re specifically requiring previous international “work/study/volunteer experience”, the study definitely needs to be on the application, surely?

        1. GigglyPuff*

          Like I said it probably depends on what kind of study abroad experience. I think Alison has covered this before, like there is less weight given to studying in English speaking countries (if English is your first language). Or was it like take a theme class for a semester, then travel for two weeks visiting things that relate or museums, versus actually staying in the country for a month or a semester and taking a class or more.

          1. Good Golly*

            Right, that makes sense. I’ll look up what Alison says. I’m from an English-speaking country and spent 18 months as a doctoral student in a non-English-speaking country. The school I was visiting is an English center, but I did take some language classes and conduct some research in that language, as well as having to integrate to a certain extent in the community. Good to know I should be more specific in my letter.

        2. Good Golly*

          Thanks for the replies. To be clear, I don’t put my study abroad experience on my resume either since I don’t really consider it an accomplishment. But since it’s relevant for this job, I discuss it briefly in my cover letter. I’ll think about putting my volunteer experience on my resume.

    2. katamia*

      In my experience, the number of years people want is somewhat flexible. I’ve never said “Although I don’t have X years of experience,” and have gotten a lot of interviews (which have always been my weakest skill, so I’m pretty confident that the jobs I didn’t get were less because I didn’t have the requisite number of years and more because I turn into a blithering idiot when I’m in a job interview). I’ve also gotten at least two jobs that theoretically required 2 or 3 years of experience when I had none because I did so well on the skills tests. And I don’t think it’s silly at all to say that having gone through the university yourself, you have a good understanding of the ins and outs and can do it, but I’ve also never applied for a job at a university.

      Your volunteer experience sounds like it could be really valuable to the job, so I’d find a way to put it in.

      1. Good Golly*

        Thanks for your input! I’ll play up my related skills and background, and not mention my lack of experience.

    3. OhNo*

      You should absolutely mention the volunteer work! It sounds like it’s directly relevant to the position, and even if it was 7 years ago, you probably still gained some knowledge from it that will be useful it you got the job. I would say add it to the resume, too, but that’s a personal preference. I like every position mentioned in my cover letter to be on my resume, as well, so they match and the hiring manager can easily see the timeline.

      As for the experience, I think you could probably leverage your previous work at the university to your benefit, even if it wasn’t directly related. Did you work with or design instruction for international students? Did you do any recruitment, like for people to be involved in conferences or for instructors? Did you develop any research skills that would help you find new international recruits? Any of those might help with not having the minimum of “relevant” experience, and it will show the hiring manager how the skills you have already could be an advantage for them.

      1. Good Golly*

        Thanks for your suggestions, especially in your second paragraph! I’ll have to think harder about how my university experience relates to the specifics of the job. I find that I have a tendency to downplay any “grad-student-ish” work, for fear that people will get the impression that what I really want is an academic job.

    4. Melissa*

      Hi, I’m in a similar boat – I finished my PhD a year ago, and am applying to non-academic jobs (not at universities – in tech). I’m new to the whole thing but I’ve gotten a couple of bites.

      So far I have totally been counting the experience I have at my own university, and leaving it up to employers whether they want to count this when they’re looking over my resume. I think you should discuss the volunteer work if it’s directly relevant, because it *has* given you the skills to do the job. Let them decide whether or not it’s important to them, but don’t select yourself out too early.

      I wouldn’t say that you don’t have the years of experience. First of all, your experience IS related – it’s not exactly the same, but it is related to student services. Cover letters are all about promoting your strengths, not drawing attention to your weaknesses, so I would just focus on the things you bring to the table.

      And if you don’t already know about it, join VersatilePhD.com! It’s a website and community dedicated to helping PhDs find non-academic jobs. Great group of folks, and if you are nearby a major city they also have monthly networking sessions in several major cities.

      1. Good Golly*

        Funny enough, I learned about VersatilePhD from previous comments on this site! And thanks for your input about academic experience being relevant in certain ways; I guess I just have to work harder at framing it that way, both in my mind and on paper.

  11. MB*

    So I am starting a job in two weeks. At this company it’s common to not know who your manager will be until you start as they decide their team needs (I did interview with a couple of people, one of which will be my manager and I liked them all). There are three days in September I wanted to ask off because I have two preplanned trips for family events.

    First, is asking for one Friday and then later a Friday and a Monday off after two months on the job too much (I can skip the Friday and Monday even if need by but it would be undesirable)? This is an indefinite temp position and all time off would be unpaid if that’s relevant. Second, I’m not sure who to ask because I don’t know who my manager will be. I emailed my contact asking about something related to time off and she said that time off would be up to my manager to handle. I do have the director’s email who would be my manager’s boss but I know that’s not a good idea. Is it unprofessional to ask on my first day?

    1. Emmie*

      I normally ask for the days off during the offer stage, but if you’ve already received the offer, I’d talk to my temp agency (if you worked with one) first then to the contact they recommend. If it’s a direct hire, I’d talk to who gave you the offer and I’d do it asap. I did this at my current job, and I’m happy I did. I had a pre planned vacay. Training is mentally taxing and it was a well needed break that ensured I didn’t get sick. My approach was “prior to taking this job, I planned a vacation on X and y. I’d really love to have those two days off, but it’s not a deal breaker if I cannot. I’m willing to work around the business needs.”

      1. MB*

        Thank you for your response.

        The process was through the company who then had a temp agency contact me for filling out paperwork. I asked the person from the company about it and she said I would have to ask my manager who I have no idea who it will be (thanks to her for not saying but in reality it is likely not even decided). They haven’t sent all the details about my first day so I think I will wait a little bit and reply to that with my question.

    2. puddin*

      Perfectly OK to ask, but I would avoid it on the first day. Maybe two weeks down the road.

  12. H*

    My new job sucks. Is it too soon to apply for an internal transfer?

    I recently started what I thought would be a dream job with a dream organization. My impression was that I would report to a guy named Hank and work closely with his team.

    I showed up on my first day and was surprised to find out that while I would be reporting to Hank, I had actually been assigned to work with one of his reports, Walt. Walt joined Hank’s team recently as part of a merger, and he works in a different building. So do I.

    Walt is awful. Not abusive, but awful enough that I dread seeing him every day and cringe every time I get an email from him. The only highlight of my week is getting to see Hank and his team in a weekly all-staff meeting. They are really nice people, and I’ve started getting lunch, coffee, and drinks with some of them.

    Even worse, there are ongoing discussions about undoing the merger staffing arrangement, and moving Walt and me back to his original department. I left my previous job to escape a toxic environment, and now I find myself desperately wanting to leave.

    Is it too soon to start putting out feelers for getting officially transferred away from Walt? I want to have a serious confidential conversation with someone who’s a peer and ask for advice on how to approach Hank, but I worry that I’ll look like an unreliable, complaining job hopper.

    1. HeyNonnyNonny*

      Is there any way of framing it to Hank as a positive, like you love working with him and his team, and you’d love to do that more? Just don’t mention the flip side, that Walt sucks.

    2. Stranger than fiction*

      Talk to hank specifically about what walt is doing/why you guys aren’t working well together if he’s that cool he’ll work something out

    3. Future Analyst*

      No advice, just empathy. I ran into a similar situation, and have stuck it out, but only because I’ll be out of mat leave soon.

      I do think you can approach Hank and say something like, “I wanted to check back with you about the position I was hired for. I was under the impression that ABC (you would be working under Hank, doing chocolate teapots projects, etc.), but it appears that XYZ (you’re working under Walt, the work is very different, etc.). I was really excited to work with you, and want to know if I’ll get the opportunity to do so in a larger capacity in the future.”

      I wouldn’t jump to applying elsewhere INternally just yet, but you’re certainly free to do so EXternally.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        I like that wording. If I were Hank, I’d read that as very polite way of saying “I’m not enthused about working under Walt” (which is what you want to convey politely, so this works well).

  13. Sassy Intern*

    I have a question about moving on vs. staying. I’m currently an intern at a place I absolutely love. I’m getting interesting, exciting, and worthwhile projects (producing client ready work as an intern!). Plus, I’m being paid fairly decently. I’ve talked to my coordinator about being hired full time, but was told that due to some staff changes at the HQ (I work in a satellite office) they couldn’t hire me “yet.” Instead, they offered me a raise! Yay!

    However, I’ve graduated and I feel like I should be in that “entry level” job by now. To be honest I really would like actual perks of being salaried (like PTO and benefits) but on the other hand this is exactly where I want to be. I work for really cool clients in a specific niche industry I’m very interested in working in. It seems like from searching around there’s not really another firm that I’d be willing to jump for.

    I guess my question is, I’ve only been interning for around 5 months now. It’s not a huge gap, I know. But will me working so long as an intern raise any red flags down the road? Also, when do you know when it’s time to leave somewhere you’re working? I’ve only really had retail jobs that I quit for one reason (like school/other opportunities) or another.

    1. afiendishthingy*

      I think if you can handle not having benefits for a bit longer, it’s best to keep learning at an internship you love. I don’t think it’ll raise red flags down the road if you can show specific achievements and skills you’ve gained at the internship.

    2. NacSacJack*

      Okay, I have to ask. How is it you’re an intern? You graduated. Are you still getting college credit for the job? If not, then I’d say you’re in the entry job right now.

      1. Sassy Intern*

        In my industry it’s really common for people to take on full time, post grad internships. (Usually they’ll be pursuing a Masters, but it’s not necessary in my field). A lot of the time agencies like mine end up hiring interns in, or later down the road. It’s more of a junior account coordinator without actually being a junior account coordinator.

        1. Stephen King's Constant Reader*

          If that’s the case, I’d stay and continue to gather experience/make connections. They may extend an offer to you down the line if they see how committed you are.

          Also, how long does it take to hire in your field? You’re there 5 months now, so if you start job hunting in a month or so you’ll possibly be at the year-long mark if you get an offer. By that time you’ll probably have a better idea of whether or not they’ll offer you a FT position and then you’ll also have the option of going to work somewhere else FT.

      2. cLA*

        It is possible to still be an intern after graduation. I’ve seen internship listings that ask for current or recent graduates. I don’t think there is anything written that says they have to hire an intern after the intern graduates.

    3. kozinskey*

      I think this depends on the experience and contacts you gain by staying and your chances for advancement at that company. If you’re still gaining good experience and lower pay/lack of benefits aren’t a dealbreaker for you at this point in your life, it’s not a bad idea to stay for a while longer. It sounds like you have a good relationship with your coordinator and they’re doing their best to keep you. Maybe plan to stay for another 3-6 months and reevaluate at that point?

    4. Sunflower*

      Can you talk to your manager about getting a title change? If you’re only worried about having the ‘intern’ label too long, is there a shot you can change to a ‘coordinator’ and stay on part-time.

      However, I would definitely start applying for jobs. I think this is a ‘you’ll know it when you see it’ sort of a situation. Just because you apply for(or get offered) something doesn’t mean you have to take it. It’s a lot easier to weigh the benefits of staying at a job when there’s a real alternative offer.

    5. Tiffany*

      I interned for the same organization for over a year and only left because I graudated and had to find a job that paid me money (my internship was unpaid). I stayed so long because it was a great organization, I was getting to do real, valuable work, and was able to build a great network and reputation in my town and industry. In fact, it directly led to the job I got. Best part is I got enough experience that I was able to skip over that entry-level hurdle…so I can definitely see the benefit to staying in this situation. It’d be different if it was unpaid, but since it’s not, and there aren’t really any other options, I’d stick with it.

    6. cLA*

      I would definitely stay there. For now. You work with a good company, you like your work, you are learning, AND you are getting paid as an intern (and they just gave you a raise), all this and you just graduated. I wouldn’t care so much about the benefits right now.

      I would continue for another year. If nothing comes your way as for as becoming hired as an employee, then I would start looking. I am assuming you are single so at least you are able to hold off on leaving this position. If you have a family to take care of then I would tell you to look for something with better pay and benefits. For me, I know it’s time to leave when I’ve explored everything possible and I could see that there was no room for professional growth (no other positions you want to try) or if you work in a bad environment/company.

  14. Heather*

    Just out of nothing I had a job interview this week that I felt went well. Usually I’m a bundle of nerves (really, really bad) but I bought Alison’s book “How to Get a Job”. To be honest most of the advice I’ve already gleaned from here but there was one section that was really helpful on nerves. I think it really made a huge difference. I was a little nervous but not too bad so I was mostly calm and able to answer questions without stumbling all over the words coming out my mouth and I even remembered to ask questions myself. I am crossing my fingers because I am definitely interested in this position.

    1. Melissa*

      Congrats on the interview, and good luck!

      I’m also going to second your advice – after I got an interview I bought Alison’s book and it was just so amazing. It’s made a huge difference in how I’ve approached my interviews, too.

  15. GreatLakesGal*

    We just got a memo from our VP of operations regarding upcoming sweeping regulatory changes in my industry. We are all ” strongly encouraged” to view the extensive training videos on the company website and are expected to be ready to implement these changes.

    Problem is, we are all non-exempt, and are supposed to be paid for all “mandatory” trainings.

    Am I wrong to feel like the company is trying to cheap out by ” strongly encouraging” vs “requiring” this training?

    I’m so irritated by this!

    1. Ann O'Nemity*

      In that situation, I’d assume they intend to pay you for the time and submit hours for it. But that’s me.

    2. Persephone Mulberry*

      How extensive is extensive, i.e. how much time per week would you need to devote to these videos in order to get them all in before the implementation date?

      I’d figure out that math, and then go to my supervisor. “Hey, I’ll need to block out X hours/week of my workday to watch these videos, or I’d need to know how to clock the time if I’m watching them after business hours. Which way would you rather I do it?” (assuming you are even willing to watch them on your own time, for pay).

    3. Gene*

      Why not ask? Ask your supervisor directly, “Is watching the video training paid time?” If no, don’t watch them.

    4. Dana*

      When I was non-exempt we were paid for watching training videos–the people who did it at work were compensated and people who for whatever reason didn’t have the opportunity to do it on site during their shift were paid for watching it at home. It sounds like your VP of operations is a lot higher up than you (my mistake if I’m wrong) but do you have a manager you directly report to that could shed some light on this? Maybe you could just phrase it as how to report the time you will spend watching them and see how the manager responds? (“Of course, add the 3 hours to your time sheet” or “Well you aren’t getting paid for this” ??) I don’t know how you’re supposed to implement the changes if you don’t watch the videos, but I would be pretty peeved about not getting paid for training.

    5. J.B.*

      Was there anything to suggest you needed to do it outside of work hours? I am supposed to watch trainings all the time as part of my work hours.

    6. Mike C.*

      I can’t imagine why you wouldn’t be paid for this time. Your manager might pick certain videos to focus on or watch them as a group, but there’s no way in hell they can expect you to watch them on your own time.

      1. GreatLakesGal*

        I was told by my manager that since these were not officially “mandatory,” they are to be done on my own time.
        If we were exempt, no problem. It’s that we are non-exempt, and this really chaps my hind-parts.

        1. jhhj*

          What would happen if you didn’t watch them, given that they aren’t mandatory and are unpaid?

        2. Mike C.*

          That’s a load of crap. Either you need to know the new regulations or you don’t. And if you do, then that time is paid, end of story.

        3. Jessie's Girl*

          Are you sure “on your own time” means off the clock? Did you confirm? When someone tells me to do something on my own time, I’m still going to do it during my work time but just when I don’t have anything pressing I need to get done. I.e., during my down time.

    7. Elizabeth West*

      My company requires certain training modules as well, but they expect we’ll do it during work hours. I’d be really surprised if they didn’t.

      If it’s a time constraint with your regular duties, ask your boss how he/she wants you to structure your time to accommodate them.

    8. Grand Canyon Jen*

      Well, I’m a new-ish school secretary and a district security training was announced for everyone who hadn’t had the training before. When I asked how I should submit for payment, they told me that they couldn’t pay me for my time (several hours), but they “strongly encouraged” me to take part. I was on the fence about it – really? You don’t require the secretary and main gatekeeper for the building to have training in active shooter scenarios? – but had pretty much decided to do it anyway (on the grounds that I am probably the most likely person to be shot) when they cancelled the training. I am not making this up.

  16. Animalia*

    So I’m in the process of applying to volunteer at a local Natural History museum that also houses an area for native wildlife that are either being rehabilitated or can’t be released into the wild. The employee I spoke to said they often hire on volunteers for permanent positions. This would be an amazing step in the direction I want to take my career. My problem is that I have no degree (my major was animal biology but I never graduated) but the subject is my passion. I’ve done extensive studies on a variety of species, but all in my own time. Is there a way to show them that I know my wildlife and I could be a great add-on to their team without coming across as a know-it-all?

    TL;DR – Know a lot. No proof. How do I navigate?

    1. danr*

      This might be your chance to get your foot in the door. Show off your knowledge in a professional way and don’t go overboard. Plus, as a volunteer, you can show what your passion is.

      1. Stephen King's Constant Reader*

        +1. Unless it’s an actual requirement to have a degree, I find that a lot of employers value personal interest/experience/dedication over that piece of paper.

        1. Tyrannosaurus Regina*

          FWIW, when I worked at a zoo most of the keepers had a BS in a related field, but plenty had no degree (and a few had delightfully unrelated degrees, including one guy with an MFA who’d made a career change.) The thing that came up over and over was experience > a degree; that is, they’d usually look more favorably on someone with “some college” + “tons of hands-on animal experience” than a person with the “right” bachelor’s degree and little-to-no hands-on experience. Almost everyone got that animal experience through volunteering, usually at facilities other than ours. (Of course a degree + experience was preferred, and this was almost ten years ago, so YMMV.)

          I really wouldn’t worry about showing what you already know. That’ll show itself naturally as you do your volunteer work and they see that you’re competent, knowledgeable, and eager to learn. I will caution that at our zoo, some departments were reluctant to hire volunteers after a few incidents of hiring someone who seemed to shine as a volunteer but had attitude problems once they were hired. I’m thinking of two or three people who, unfortunately, really seemed to believe their past volunteer experience meant certain rules didn’t apply to them and that they didn’t need as much training as other new hires, etc. It was really uncomfortable to see.

          Of course most volunteers are great and have good attitudes, but it’s possible to alienate potential future colleagues if you give the impression that you Already Know XYZ—even if you *do* already know x, y, and most of z…just have a cheerful attitude about being trained in those areas anyway, since it’s so, so important to make sure everyone in an animal-care department is on the same page. And, of course, no one wants to work with an arrogant volunteer. (Not that you sound like you’d give off an arrogant vibe *at all*; I just wanted to caution that if any members of the animal care team at this facility has had experiences similar to some keepers I knew, they may view volunteers with suspicion right out of the gate. Not totally fair, at all, but maybe worth being aware of.)

          Anyway, I’m verbose. Mainly I wanted to reassure you that whether or not you have a degree is way, way less important than a good attitude, willingness to work hard, and doing the work well. Congratulations on starting what sounds like a super cool volunteer gig—fingers crossed it can lead to a new career!

          1. Stephanie*

            There’s a good book called Kicked, Bitten, and Scratched by Amy Sutherland which profiles a training program for exotic animal trainers at a community college in Southern California.

            It also being turned into a movie. Reading the IMDb page, I groan because there’s some mention of the main character’s desire to have a baby. Because a movie about exotic animal trainers isn’t interesting enough, they have to add a subplot about a baby.

    2. Not Today Satan*

      I would just let them get to know you and your knowledge over time. It’s really annoying and off-putting when someone is always “proving” that they know things. Best wishes.

    3. Karowen*

      Could you put something to the effect of “Completed X hours towards Animal Biology degree at Valdemar College” on your resume? I wouldn’t recommend it in general, but if it’s super relevant to the position it may be that leg up that you need.

    4. BRR*

      I apologize if I am wrong about this but I think you need to step back for a second. They might often hire volunteers for permanent positions but don’t expect that it will guarantee you a position or that an opportunity will even present itself soon. Part of it will be just when an appropriate position opens up.

      Your best bet is to do a great job with what you’re assigned. Rock the tasks given to you, that is how you will prove yourself. I’m concerned you might be assigned the non animal area and persistently try to work your way there, don’t do this. I also worry you might tread into know it all territory by trying to compensate for not having a degree. If you do well with what they ask of you, they might not even care about a degree (if you can finish it though it would be helpful obviously but I’m sure you knew that).

      Tl;DR. The best thing you can do is when assigned a task, do it well.

    5. Isben Takes Tea*

      Are you by any chance talking about a museum in the San Francisco area?

      My sister was a volunteer-turned-employee at an institution in there. However, she had volunteered regularly for several years before she was hired and it was for a very part-time, low-paid position.

      What they were looking for volunteers with passion, availability, reliability, and good patron interaction skills, all of which you can demonstrate in your cover letter. Basically, they want to know that you’ll be treating this as a job, even if you’re not being paid. Knowledge is a big plus, but no schooling is required.

      I’d also echo restraint in your expectations: there were very few full time positions available, and those required very specific degrees and experience. They did prefer to fill the part-time positions with loyal and dependable volunteers, but there is no guarantee they’ll hire you, and it may take years for a position to open up.

      However, just the volunteer experience looks great on your resume, and you could get a great reference out of it, and they probably have fundraising events you could volunteer to help with that would provide you with networking opportunities. So I would encourage you to apply and treat it professionally, but as a labor of love.

      Good luck!

    6. Bird Trainer*

      I got into the animal care field by starting as a wildlife rehabilitation volunteer/intern, so that’s definitely a way to get your foot in the door when it comes to “animal jobs.” I do have a bachelors degree and I think that was a factor in the hiring process of my current job, but I wouldn’t say it was required. I’m not sure exactly what career you want but many facilities hiring for trainer/keeper positions will substitute hands on animal experience for education requirements.

      Just re-read your post and to answer the question you actually asked… I also think there’s a culture of “paying your dues” when it comes to working with animals. If you want a career working with animals you need to be willing to clean a lot of crap first… Regardless of how much you know. So apply to be a volunteer and have a good attitude and learn as much on the job as possible. Also, start praying now they have an opening for what you want to do. Being a volunteer won’t guarantee you a job anywhere but if they like you it could help when positions open up.

  17. TotesMaGoats*

    Welp, it’s the end of my first week at my new job. You want to hear a story?

    Went to bed early on Sunday night. I was feeling off but chalked it up to nerves. Woke at midnight and was horribly sick. Then proceeded to wake up every hour after that for a repeat performance. Best sleep all night was leaning against the toilet. I somehow managed to make it into work. But made a poor decision to sip water while taking a tour of campus. Finally sitting down and almost done with my first meeting and had to rush out to be sick. Yep. Thankfully no one saw that and while I looked like death, no one really said anything. Was so tired on the way home that I missed my exit and added another 20 minutes to my now almost an hour commute. Lots of tears on the way home. Plus missing the exit meant I had to drive past my old office.

    Feeling a ton better (and I’m gonna have a great weight watchers weigh in this week) and getting to know everyone. Starting to get the impression I was undersold on this job. Yes, I’m in charge of growing programs but there is so much back office stuff I’ve really got to fix first. It’s a mess. But I love a challenge and I’ve got pretty free reign. Struggling with the hours though. 845-5pm. But I’ll have a new boss in a month or so and hope to change that. Starting the day that late kills me plus traffic at that time is awful.

    On the up side, they brought a cupcake truck on campus yesterday. I’m also drinking more water because they have filtered dispensers all over (to save on plastic bottles). And walking a ton more. It’s a much bigger campus than I’ve ever been on. Good things.

    Strangest thing though. So, it’s a pretty casual place especially in the summer. Some people are in shorts and tshirts. One person is always in jeans and a tshirt. Walking in today I’m wearing a cotton dress with wedges and a pretty necklace. Person says “So it’s casual Friday then”. Seriously? You have on tennis shoes and cargo pants. Gonna ignore since person has a huge chip on shoulder about God knows what.

    All in all, still happy with my move.

    1. Carrie in Scotland*

      Well – some of those things are very good (the free reign, the cupcake truck – yes please!). I hope you feel better now. And I hope your new boss is understanding and you can get your commute changed for the better.

      1. TotesMaGoats*

        And evidently a month ago there was an ice cream truck. I can get behind that kind of thing!

    2. danr*

      I would take the ‘casual Friday’ comment as a joke. If you work it right, you can start a running gag.

      1. TootsNYC*

        I agree–I think that was possibly a joke.

        “Walking in today I’m wearing a cotton dress with wedges and a pretty necklace. Person says “So it’s casual Friday then”. Seriously?”

        Are you sure that wasn’t a touch of teasing? You were -more- dressed up than anyone else on a Friday, so it sounds lightly sarcastic to me (but not in a mean way).

        Once when I was a college student, I got sick of jeans, and also realized I had all these nice clothes in my closet (summer office job) that I never wore. So I wore one of them.
        A guy said, “What’s the occasion?” and it annoyed me, that he’d make a fuss over me dressing up. So I said, “It’s Monday.” Him: “Do you always dress up on Mondays?” Me: “Yes.” And I did, for the last 3 years of college.

        So, I sort of dare you to always dress up just a little every Friday. And if attire ever comes up, say, “It’s a casual Friday!” (with a “duh!” tone behind it, just a bit)

        We once freaked someone out by insisting that she was too young to understand the joke. She was older than us. Broke her brain. Go for it!

    3. diet ginger ale*

      I was at a conference once and was told that on the last half day of it, I was supposed to wear the shirt my supervisor got for our team and a casual pair of jeans. I did. T-shirt with our library name and catch phrase on it, nice colored jeans, casual flats, and make up and somewhat tamed hair (my hair does the wild thing). A quick look around told me that most people were following this dress style. A woman at the conference came up to me and said “It’s always the last day when people wear their trashiest things”, smiled and walked away. Sometimes, people are jerks.

      1. Clever Name*

        I recently heard an amazing retort for when people say things like this. You say, “No thank you. I’ve already had a banana”. And then you walk away.

    4. Folklorist*

      Maybe he was sarcastically implying that you were over-dressed? What a weird thing to say to a new person.

    5. zora*

      Ack! What a crazy first week! I guess it can only get easier after that?? ;)

      And yes, cargo pants are objectively more casual than a cotton dress, weirdo coworker. Good luck on your second week!

    6. Lady Bug*

      I had no idea cupcake trucks were a thing. That sounds amazing, I’m a total sucker for cupcakes.

    7. ITPuffNStuff*

      definitely hope you get the better schedule. wasting hours stuck in traffic just because “everyone else works at this time and so should i” is bad for your mental health, bad for your car, bad for the environment. no one wins.

      do be wary that if this is an exempt position, you could start at 4 am and people will still expect your presence at 4 pm meetings, or call you at home, or demand to know why you always leave “early” even if you’ve been in for 12 hours. it will have to be understood with your boss that starting early doesn’t mean staying until 5.

  18. Cruciatus*

    If it’s been over a week since I was told someone would call me to set up a phone interview (specifically for “some time this week” which is now nearly over) it’s not pushy to call today and ask about it, right?

    1. kozinskey*

      I don’t think a polite phone call is out of line. I feel like AAM has recommended an email in this situation in the past, though.

    2. Judy*

      I’d wait until Tuesday or Wednesday of next week. Their deadline is this week, you want to wait until after that.

          1. Melissa*

            My hypothesis is that this website is magic and makes things happen if you talk to it.

    3. HigherEd Admin*

      I would call or email to follow up! I posted in the open thread a couple weeks ago about this exact same scenario, and it turns out the recruiter had been trying to contact me all week but wasn’t getting through (or was using incorrect contact information).

    4. AnonyMe*

      Ooooh, I had this happen to me about a month ago. Applied online, took a screening, got a “no-reply” email that someone would be calling to set up a phone interview, and then…nothing.

      It took four weeks for someone to call me, just to set the thing up.

  19. afiendishthingy*

    I think if you can handle not having benefits for a bit longer, it’s best to keep learning at an internship you love. I don’t think it’ll raise red flags down the road if you can show specific achievements and skills you’ve gained at the internship.

  20. Watt*

    Is it a bad decision to resign or let myself get fired because I don’t want to move from my office to a study carrel? I have been a manager for2 year and was told 2 days ago I need to move out by the end of the week; they’ve hired someone who needs the office. I am now forced to move my closet full of files to a shared storage closet. I really feel this will hurt quality of work but my boss won’t budge.

    1. Sunflower*

      Is this worth losing your job/income over right now? I get being pissed about it but this might be a problem where you realize that you don’t want to be at this company any more but it doesn’t mean you need to make a decision right now.

    2. TotesMaGoats*

      How badly do you need the job? I assume you’ve provided a reasoned argument to your boss as to why this will impact your productivity. If you do need the job, move and do it with graciousness but then document how it doesn’t work. Maybe after a month or so, you’ll have some data to back up your argument.

      This might be a battle worth fighting for you. It might not. But if you do fight it do it with the right attitude.

    3. Christy*

      How does your new workspace compare to a cubicle? Lots of people have to work in cubicles, even managers in some organizations. Analysts in my office are all in 8×8 cubicles.

    4. Ann O'Nemity*

      First it’s the study carrel, next you’ll be down in Storage B.

      Jokes aside, I would hate working out of a study carrel. I wouldn’t quit immediately, but I’d probably start looking for better opportunities.

        1. Aunt Vixen*

          It’s a desk in a library, probably with sides like a cubicle and a hutch with a bit of a bookshelf. Think very, very small cube. There are banks of them in academic libraries so people can study without hauling tons of books around the place (or so they can study with books that can’t leave the building) – hence the name.

      1. ThursdaysGeek*

        Yeah, quitting usually hurts you more than them. But finding a new job could be good.

    5. Stephanie*

      Ok, that is bad. But unemployment would be worse. And you’d need a good way of explaining that to future employers and risk dealing with a probably not-good reference.

      1. Stranger than fiction*

        Exactly. Just start a soft search for something else if it’s going to be an issue letting yourself get fired seems extreme and will be detrimental

    6. BRR*

      I would try and look at this practically. Who’s getting your office? Are they high up? Does the nature of their work require an office? Does the nature of your work require an office? Are you the logical person to move? Does it actually make sense and you’re just mad (which is completely appropriate to be mad about)?

      To me I’d stay and start job hunting if it really bothers you that much. It’s easier to find a job when you have a job. Honestly, it sounds silly to resign or let yourself be fired over losing an office even though that’s incredibly frustrating because offices are awesome. Think of your total salary and benefits, is that amount worth it over moving to a study carrel?

    7. Not So NewReader*

      Your boss probably cannot budge, the matter could be totally out of his hands. I am not sure what specifically would hurt the quality of your work, but I would try to find ways to mitigate that. If you need to move a lot of files during your workday would the boss consider buying a rolling cart to load them into? Can you get headphones to cut down the noise?
      I would not quit without a job lined up. I know that it is very difficult to do what I call “working stupid”, but you can’t let it zap your professionalism. If you are worried about your productivity levels plummeting because your files are not easily accessible, let the boss know that you are having a problem. But don’t do it in a whinny manner, do it in a concerned manner. Present it as you want to keep doing the good work your have been doing but now you have a few obstacles that worry you.

    8. Observer*

      Yes, it would be a VERY bad thing for you. You can be sure that if you tell another prospective employer that you quit over this, they are not going to look at this well.

  21. Anon for this today*

    So, has anyone ever been in a bad/abusive job situation? I was in a horrible job for about two years. Long story short bosses would yell, blow up over every little thing, it was a family owned company so the siblings were all mixed up in the management, one of my bosses threw a coke can at me, another one slammed a binder down and it landed by my feet. I could go on and on, but it was bad and I couldn’t really do much since you can’t really go to the owner and complain to him about his son and daughter’s husband. I was so overworked they ended up hiring FOUR people to replace me when I left.

    Flash forward, I’m now in a much better job (I feel so much better physically and mentally) but I think I’m still traumatized? Like I’m constantly afraid my boss or others I work with will blow up at me. I’m afraid to be too friendly with my other co-workers. Basically, I still can’t get used to a normal job. I always feel like I’m not doing enough at this job because I’m so used to being overworked…

    Uh, I guess this is silly but how do I be a normal worker? When will I feel normal again? I’m sure others who have been in these sort of bad job situations could bestow some wisdom and experience on me.

    1. GOG11*

      This isn’t silly at all. I don’t have advice, but I did want to say I’m so sorry for the way you were treated in your past job and I’m so glad you’re in a better situation now.

    2. NacSacJack*

      I just realized this past quarter that I still suffer from PTSD from my first job/boss 20 some years ago. Sometime last year one of Alison’s fellow writers posted an article on successful people. One of their traits is forgive and forget. Apparently the act of forgiving makes it easier to forget. Another trait they have is always look forward, forget the past. Let the past stay there, in the past.

    3. The Cosmic Avenger*

      It will probably just take time. Well, some people never recover from being traumatized like that, but you’re seeing the differences, and you’re noticing that your reactions are no longer appropriate, even after the fact, which is a huge, huge step. Eventually I hope you will experience that “noticing” at the same time as the reaction, and you will be able to adjust it, and then the reaction itself will start to fade. That’s kind of how I’ve gotten over traumatic reactions, at least.

    4. Myrin*

      I don’t make a habit of analysing strangers over the internet but just in case you haven’t thought of this yet: I’d suggest it’s possible you’re suffering from a kind of PTSD with what you’ve been through (words of wisdom I read just last month: “PTSD isn’t a veteran’s disease, it’s a trauma disease”). Especially with the “when will I feel normal again” it seems like a therapist could be helpful if you can get ahold of one in any way. I’m so sorry you went through this and am very glad you’re out of that hellhole!

      1. Partly Cloudy*

        This.

        Or it’s like getting out of an abusive relationship. Even if you’ve moved on to a healthy one, it takes time to change your reactions to or expectations about situations that your “ex” would have lost his or her mind over but your “current SO” is like NBD. This analogy came up the other day on one of the AAM threads but I don’t remember which one.

    5. Bagworm*

      I think what you’re feeling is totally normal after the type of traumatic experience you’ve had. For me, it took therapy to really get back to normal. Even just a couple of meetings with a counselor through EAP if available would probably help. Good luck!

    6. Bekx*

      It gets better. I could have written your post last year. I still get nervous when my boss calls me, when she asks me to close the door behind her, when she asks me to go for a walk…but that nervousness has decreased. It just takes time. Kind of like a breakup where you’re skittish for a bit!

    7. fposte*

      I’ve got some AAM links in moderation, but if you do a search here for “PTSD,” the two top posts will likely be right on target for you.

    8. Vex*

      I haven’t gone through anything as bad as what you describe, but I did have a pretty traumatic job experience a while back. I’m now in a great job that I love. I know it’s a cliche, but reminding myself to take it one day at a time has been really helpful. I find myself prone to mental disaster dominoes (“I forgot to e-mail this one person, so the WHOLE PROJECT’S GOING TO IMPLODE AND BIG BOSS WILL WANT MY HEAD ON A STICK” type of thinking) and the more I’m able to pull myself out of the Imaginary Disaster Future and focus on the present, the better. Both better for my mental health and for my work performance.

      I’ve also seen a therapist for anxiety. If you are open to doing that, and are able to, I would really recommend it.

      Good luck to you.

    9. chump with a degree*

      I left teaching in 1980. I had very rare nightmares up through the mid-90s. It will take some time. On the other hand, I have been at my dream job for 25 years now and still have to pinch myself sometimes.

    10. AndersonDarling*

      It took me a year to readjust. I was luckily enough to get a job in a position where I didn’t have much face-to-face contact with my co-workers. That was great for my recovery, I was able to de-stress, focus on my work, and slowly get acclimated to a good work culture.
      After a year I was rehabilitated. I had confidence I never had before, I could speak up in meetings, tackle projects on my own, and be generally social.
      It is amazing how much a bad job destroys you as a person. Just give it time and be open!

      1. Former Usher*

        So glad to hear this! Eight months at job #3 and sometimes I’m still tortured by memories of job #2. Still, every day is a reminder that job #2 was NOT normal.

    11. zora*

      No, this is a totally normal reaction, seriously. I completely know what you mean, but yes it will take a while to adjust, and that’s okay, just take your time.

      I have been out of my terrible job for a year and I still get surprised sometimes when someone says thank you for doing some tiny menial task for them, and my first thought is “Wow, that was so nice!!! .. Oh yeah, wait, that’s normal behavior.”

      Try to loosen yourself up a little bit at a time? Maybe focus on one thing like every time you think something bad is going to happen and you get that panicked feeling, remind yourself to calm down and that this boss is different, etc. Chip away at these feelings a little bit at a time.

    12. Lady Bug*

      It’s definitely normal to have ptsd from a horrible job. I’ve found that the way you look at the situation sometimes helps. Most of the time, even though it’s the other person acting like a jerk, we somehow feel its our fault. After I switched my view from “what did I do” to “this person is an asshole and it has NOTHING to do with me” it made the experience much less traumatized. You can yell at me all you want, and if you’re paying attention visibly see me losing respect for you. Unfortunately, I can’t fake respect, so that doesn’t always we work out so well.

    13. Elizabeth West*

      Nooo it’s not silly. Job PTSD is a real thing. It will take time, but you will feel normal again. I can’t say how much because it varies from person to person.

      I understand the I’m-not-doing-enough thing. The best way around that is to give your tasks your full attention and try not to rush through them–I ended up doing that and messing up a little bit because I was so used to “do this now before the phone goes crazy, etc.” mentality from Exjob. Finally I began to relax when I realized I don’t have to get everything done RIGHT THIS MINUTE. Also, when you start feeling freaked out, take a moment to breathe. Slowly in through your nose and out through your mouth. It lowers your blood pressure.

      Enjoy your new normal job! :)

    14. Nashira*

      Honestly, you know what’s helping me? Counseling. I started via my company’s EAP; now I’m paying out of pocket, and it’s worth the $160/month. I wish I could go every week, but it’s just not in the budget. But therapy really can help, once you find a therapist you click with. I find having a neutral third party who can say “That’s normal” and “that’s not normal” is incredibly useful when I’m stuck in one of those periods where it’s like… I sorta suspect what I expect or am experiencing isn’t okay or normal, but I don’t KNOW that it’s for sure not okay and not normal. It’s helping me build a more realistic set of expectations.

    15. Not So NewReader*

      I have a small exercise you could start right now if you like.

      Take a scene from the old job. I’ll use the soda can scene as an example. You sit down in a chair and don’t allow any distractions. Concentrate. Think of the time the idiot hit you with the soda can. Picture that event. Then tell yourself: “Yes, this is true this did actually happen. It is not happening any more. It is over. It is not happening any more. It is in the past.”

      The idea here is that our minds keep thinking it could happen again at any minute. It takes deliberate action to get our minds on a new track. By thinking of the scene and then deliberately reminding yourself that it is in the past and it is over you start a new path in your thinking.

      You do not have to do it for long each time – a few minutes is fine. I like this because I can do it anywhere or any time. For example, the boss says she needs to speak to me, I can just quickly picture Old Job and say, “that is over, it’s not happening anymore.”

      Yes, it sounds kind of silly and it does not work if you only do it once or twice. You have to keep doing it. And right, it’s not a big miracle, either. But it is something you can start right now while you mull over what else you would like to do to help yourself.

    16. TootsNYC*

      “Civilian” PTSD is a real thing. It’s not as severe as what people get in combat, or war zones, but it’s real. (Oh, and—I wrote this sentence BEFORE reading everyone else’s suggestion of the term.)

      Think about it–we all get conditioned by our experiences, and conditioning takes a while to go away.

      I strongly suggest you seek out a cognitive behavioral therapist, who can help you “rewire” your mental reactions. (That’s sort of what the “forgiveness” suggestion is.) No joke–it works. Ask me how I know.

    17. Anx*

      I don’t think I’ve had abusive situations, but I think I’ve definitely been in jobs were a little bit of exploitation was the norm, as were jobs with a wide range of duties.

      I think one the strangest work days of my life was going to my restaurant job where I was a busser/counter help/back of kitchen worker and instead ended up babysitting the owners’ grandkids with the owner (she wasn’t there often, but boy did she scare the crap out of me).

      I was so nervous. I sort of hate the assumption that people assume any young woman is good with kids.

  22. GOG11*

    My organization has doled out projects of people who have left rather than replacing them. This has left me with some work that I’ve never done before or using skills I have to work in areas I have no experience in.

    One of these tasks is taking a series of training manuals and resources, all of which are paper copies from various years that vary in quality from “okay, hole punch holes and a bit of fading” to “the letters in the font aren’t even connected anymore and I’m pretty sure this original was on dark red paper…12 copies of copies ago.” The person who is in charge of this Dept is not in for the summer (she is part time contract, replacing someone who was full time…there was no overlap/transition).

    I’ve been tasked with scanning in and cleaning up these materials – about 250 handouts’ worth, some of which are repeated throughout the years.

    Any tips on how to organize this stuff? Should I just scan everything and let the other person use what they want? This would require a great deal of time spent on a task that has nothing to do with my job/normal duties, and a lot of the materials may not even be needed. Should I attempt to create one master set of documents? This would require less scanning and cleaning up (i.e., making the font uniformly sized and spaced, deleting random objects that the scanner detects, deleting scribbles, etc.) but this is not my area and I don’t know what needs to be kept and what can be scrapped. Is there another plan/method I’m missing?

    Additionally, is there a software program somewhere out there or some way to tell Adobe or Word that “hey, this was scanned in from a document that had uniformly sized and spaced font once upon a time, please don’t switch formats every third character”? I have other projects (within and out of my Department) to get done, but there isn’t anyone else to take this on, so really, there’s no giving it back….I just need to figure out the most efficient way to get this done.

    1. Judy*

      I tend to think better with paper, so I’d probably do some organizing with the paper first. (Sort, figure out if there are copies or revisions, etc) Ask if they want all of the revisions, or just the most recent. Figure out a way to name your scans, maybe with a date of the training and subject matter.

      I have no experience with scanning/cleaning up of massive amounts of documentation but this is how I’d start.

      1. GOG11*

        I sat down yesterday and tried to track what is where (there are 7 different folders with 40ish sheets in each) and gave up because I just could not keep track of what was where and I didn’t want to pull everything out of order just in case I need to put everything back the way it is now. Maybe I will camp out in the conference room for a while, though, and see if I can come up with some way of sorting without mixing everything up that way. Thank you!

        1. zora*

          Use sticky notes to save the current sorted order.

          Each folder: Sticky note with Letter [Folder A]
          Each page: Sticky note with Letter and order [A1] [A2] etc.

          Do that quickly, then you will have preserved the current filing order and can always recreate it if needed.

          Then start physically moving them around and see if you can come up with a better order or system by looking at them visually.

    2. of souls, and to your scattered bodies go*

      There are outfits that do this kind of work professionally, and you may want to do a cost / benefit analysis and see if it might be better to subcontract at least the initial OCR work out. I can tell you from experience that this kind of thing can suck up a LOT of time.

      That said: do a Google on ‘OCR correction community’ and get a feel for what all is out there. There are some interesting and surprisingly cool tools out there for this kind of work, if you’re up for it.

      1. GOG11*

        Thank you! I figured that others do this, but I had no idea what to search for to tap into stuff that pertains to the kind of work I’m attempting. I’m 99% sure that subcontracting out isn’t an option (very slow moving educational institution that would rather something be inefficient and passable than pay money for it to be done by someone who knows what they’re doing). Regardless, though, now that I know what this is called, I can hopefully get some insight on how it’s done :)

        1. brightstar*

          If you use a service like Iron Mountain, I believe they may do imaging as well since they act as an all around records management outfit.

          These are the questions I had reading your post:

          1. Is there imaging software like Kofax Capture to help in cleaning the pages up?
          2. Are high volume scanners available?
          3. Would you be able to use interns or someone like that to assist you?
          4. Is it possible that the originals are on a shared drive somewhere so that the scanning isn’t really necessary?

          Particularly if no high volume scanners are available or imaging software to help clean the images up, then subcontracting may be the best way to go. Even with those, this is a project that will take a while. If you haven’t been given preferences for organization, I’d go with how they were given to me and weed out replica copies.

          1. GOG11*

            1. That I know of, we do not have that type of software available. I do plan to call around and ask now, though.
            2. We have a high capacity feeder tray (so not just one original after another), but the server/copier can only send so much data at once. Like, 20 sheets of it O___o
            3. No, we don’t have anyone here over the summer unfortunately.
            4. I don’t see anything on our network and the files from the retired director’s computer weren’t retained (there is a bad habit of letting IT take computers without ensuring data gets transferred here…for as much turnover as we have, you’d think we’d be good at it by now…)

            Thank you for the suggestion about keeping the documents intact and mostly just replicating. I have tried to start, but it’s SO. MUCH. WORK. and I get a bit paralyzed by the thought of having to switch midway through. I don’t feel great about either of my options, but maybe I just need to see if we can subcontract out or accept that the project isn’t a great one and I can only do what I can do with it.

        2. of souls, and to your scattered bodies go*

          I found a couple of interesting threads on Metafilter that pretty much directly address what you’re doing. Maybe in more detail than you’d prefer, even :) But they may be interesting:

          http://ask.metafilter.com/266697/Strategy-to-proofread-document-from-OCR

          http://ask.metafilter.com/241806/Free-or-Low-Cost-OCR-Solutions

          The Distributed Proofreaders community that gets mentioned sounds intriguing, but it may be rather more HP than you need.

    3. mdv*

      I think I would go back to the person who gave you this project, and ask them the following questions:

      “Some of these are duplicates — do you want me to scan all of them, or just the most recent ones?”

      “Several of the documents are copies of copies of copies, and when I scan it, it is nearly illegible (or whatever level of “bad” that it really is) — it would probably take less time for me to type it up from scratch than it would take to clean up the scan. How would you like me to do it?”

      “This is going to seriously impinge on my ability to do my regular work, especially projects X, Y, and Z. How would you like me to prioritize these?”

      And depending on the answer to that one: “Can the deadline for scanning/cleaning up be extended to [SLOW TIME]?”

      1. GOG11*

        Thank you, mdv!

        The person who left these for me doesn’t know what she wants. It was all sort of dropped in her lap, as well.

        As much as I hate to have to type a ton of things up, I may just have to suck it up.

        Regarding prioritization, I don’t have one centralized boss so it’s really hard to prioritize and the person I’m doing this for isn’t one of my bosses. She and I don’t cross paths until you get to the head of our division and that’s who has asked me to do this…this is our slow time and if I don’t do it it just won’t get done. The Director I’m doing this work for is woefully under-supported and only has half the time the old Director had to do work that is unappreciated but very important, so I’m afraid pushing back will result in the project getting dropped and I really don’t want that.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Ummm… please don’t base work decisions on what you want. I am saying this as a person who has let many a good project slide by because it is just not realistic. I found it painful to let go of these projects, but I have come to the conclusion that sometimes we have to let go.

          It’s wonderful that you see value in this project but you also have to consider what is doable given your setting.
          Decades ago, I prepped documents for scanning. This ended up being way more intense than I ever imagined. So I can just picture what you are seeing now. Please check in with the boss on this job. Let her know what you are saying here. Perhaps the two of you can cull it down to something reasonable. Or maybe she can find a second person to help you sporadically.

          Conversely, do 20-30 pages. Time yourself doing those pages. Let’s say it takes a half hour. (Maybe my numbers are not realistic, but this gives you an idea.) Then estimate how much you think is there and estimate the time. If you figure you have 6000 pages, and it takes an hour to do 60 of them then you have 100 hours worth of work. Ask the boss if she wants you to put that kind of time into it. Point out this does not even include sorting it into some type of logical order.

          Some times people have no idea the size of the job they are requesting to be done. If you can work it into some numbers that might help to illustrate your points.

      2. TootsNYC*

        This: get more guidance.

        The woman who gave them to you had no idea what the scope of the project was going to be when she gave it to you. Getting that scope is part of what you’re supposed to do.

        So go back with the info you have. Consider that your FIRST role is to help her decide what the value of this project is. And then the cost (time, energy, etc.).

        Also have:
        • some possible suggestions
        – e.g., that stuff older than 3 years is really irrelevant, or duplicated in something newer–if nobody’s used it in that time, they’ve obviously figured out some other workaround;
        – or that the documents should be sorted, indexed (and the index disseminated–or maybe the documents distributed to the department most closely related to them for THEM to do) and dated for “last accessed”–and then only scanned or updated when someone comes to use them

        • some requests for support
        – get permission to find & download a character-recognition software, perhaps, to save you all the retyping;
        – maybe ask fora longer time frame so you can do three batches of 20-page files each day
        – maybe suggest these things be reviewed by the people who might actually use them, to get their input on what’s still valuable.

        Get more guidance.

  23. LadyLep*

    I cannot remember which thread this was on, but I noticed people mentioning a dislike for Taleo when applying for jobs. I’m 1/2 of our recruiting team and I post requisitions, respond to candidates, etc using Taleo (we used Vurv before Taleo took over). I’ve never had an applicant complain about the process. I’ve submitted my resume as a test before and found the process fairly painless. Could it be the way we have ours set up? Also, is there an ATS system that you find preferable?

    1. Sadsack*

      Does your system ask for the user to enter all the information that is already on his resume, such as address and job history? That stuff sucks, especially if you have more than a couple of jobs in your history. The redundancy is what kills me. It’s already on the resume that I am attaching, so why do I have to enter it all again? One system asked me to provide salaries for all jobs in my history, too. I gave up at that point. Spending an hour to apply for a job because of all the data entry required is ridiculous.

      1. Kate*

        I can answer this one! Your question may have been rhetorical, but it actually has an answer, so…

        Most systems require the data entry because that’s the data that’s used in searches by recruiters.

        For example: If I want to see every candidate with the phrase “project manager” on their resume, I do a search in a candidate pool for “project manager.” That could pull up people who’ve never been project managers, but use phrases like “report to project manager” on their resumes. If I want to see candidates who are currently project managers, then I do an advanced search for candidates who put “project manager” in their “current position” field. If candidates didn’t enter their data accurately, they won’t show up in the appropriate search results, and it can hurt their candidacy.

        Background: I’m a recruiter. We don’t use Taleo, but a similar system. Our system pulls data from people’s resumes to fill those fields automatically, but candidates still have to review and correct as needed. I’ve tested it. It’s a pain. However, the data entry is minimal, and it takes max 15 minutes to apply to multiple jobs at once. <5 minutes if you've used the system before.

        1. Kate*

          TLDR version: The data entry is annoying and time-consuming, yes, and too many companies require too many unnecessary fields. However, it also benefits qualified candidates by making it easier to identify them in a large pool of candidates.

    2. Lizzy May*

      I’ve found some Taleo setups better than others but the whole process just feels long and inflexible. There are easier ways to apply for jobs so anything more complicated does stand out. I’ve only ever given up an a Taleo application once. After 20 minutes and only halfway through I decided that I didn’t like the job enough for the time commitment required to apply.

    3. Sunflower*

      It’s very annoying to have to add in job history in application fields. Yes the system pulls from your resume but it’s NEVER accurate and I have to go through and edit the whole thing anyway. I understand why name, address, and that kind of stuff needs to be entered separately from my resume but job history and description? Also, if you have something where we can add soft skills and rate them(leadership, team building) PLEASE get rid of it. Most ridiculous thing I’ve ever seen on a job application.

      Also, I’m not sure applicants are going to complain about an application system. Yes some of them are annoying but they are about the lowest of the low on things I’d complain to a potential employer about.

      1. College Career Counselor*

        Let’s add requiring the manager’s name and contact number for every. single. job you ever had. Really? The manager at my last job moved and nobody has her new contact info. The manager at my job previous to that is retired. The manager at the job previous to that PASSED AWAY. And yet, you can’t not put in a phone number.

        I’ve also seen systems that wanted the exact date you left all your previous organizations. I have a fantastic memory for this kind of thing, but I can’t recall if it was July 11 or 12, 1993 that was my last day on the job. Of course, having discrepancies is a reason for not making an offer or grounds for dismissal if an offer is made.

    4. Stephanie*

      Hmm, I’ve used Taleo and had it be ok. I think it depends on how much data entry you’re asking of the candidates. Also frustrating is when you have to auto populate the fields with predetermined things or “other” (like only certain companies pop up). Like others said, it just feels redundant if you’re already submitting a resume and cover letter and can feel pretty frustrating if it’s buggy or asking for your high school graduation date.

      I like Resumator and Jobvite. Quick forms and just a resume/cover letter upload.

        1. Connie-Lynne*

          I’m always tempted to put “meeting boys and not getting caught drinking” but figure it would be unprofessional.

    5. Not Today Satan*

      I can’t imagine a candidate ever having the nerve to complain about an application process, so I wouldn’t take the lack of complaints to mean people are fine with it. Those systems are universally despised by applicants.

      1. BRR*

        A candidate who complains is a candidate who is not going to be a candidate much longer.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        I would never even think of complaining. I have just quit the application process halfway through because it was just too much. By then I am so annoyed, not only will I not apply for a job with the company, I will also try to avoid buying their products. It has not happened often, but when it does I get fed up.

        This is something companies need to think about. Their applicants could also be their customers. Do they really want customers seeing the company in that light?

        Is there a way for companies to tell how many apps have been started and never completed?

        1. Anx*

          I feel pretty similarly.

          I still shop at the grocer that I had a horrible Taleo experience with, because they give a student discount and have the best selection and while being a little expensive are working on bringing their prices down. And also because Walmart uses similar ATS systems and personality tests.

          But I do feel better shopping at one of their competitors now because I know their hiring process isn’t designed to discourage applicants as much and doesn’t use personality tests (a practice I deplore).

          There are other companies that I used to feel a little sympathy for as their locations struggle, but the use of personality tests and ATS definitely makes me thing of them more as big corporations with no regard for their employees or their communities than chains struggling to compete in an ever-changing economy.

    6. HigherEd Admin*

      Taleo is only annoying because you have to enter in all your information that’s already on the resume. And it’s not just for your company. Every time I have to apply for a job that uses Taleo, I have to re-enter the same information. As an active job seeker, this means I could be re-entering the same information several times a week! The frustration for me is that the Taleo information isn’t transferrable between employers’ systems. I wish I could just log into Taleo and have my information follow me around.

      Also, the chance that I’m going to complain about the recruiting process to anyone remotely involved in the recruiting process is 0%.

      1. Future Analyst*

        YES. I think we can all agree that if candidates could create a universal Taleo profile, we’d love it. Instead, having to regurgitate the same information over and over and over again gets old quickly.

        1. Sabrina*

          Taleo did have this at one point. It didn’t work and they’ve since shut it down.

    7. some1*

      If I was an applicant, I don’t feel like I would feel comfortable complaining about your app system during the hiring process. I don’t want to come off high-maintenance or like a whiner.

      The process that I prefer is emailing just my resume and cover letter, and then filling out an application only if I get invited to an interview. If you don’t even want to interview, I don’t see the point in telling you where I was working 12 years ago.

    8. Steve G*

      I didn’t complain on that thread, but every job I’ve applied with using a taleo site has asked for extensive fields for each job (manager, phone, address, why did you leave, salary, etc.) which is very time consuming. Also, there have been some issues…for example, I applied for one job at a company a year ago, and then went to apply to another, and I was clicking the “next” button to get to the part where I could update salary + other info from my last job, and it just submitted my application!

      I also loath Jobscore, only because it always makes you set yourself up as a new user, then when you are done with an application, it says “are you steve? your login already exists?” And makes you start again. Why it doesn’t recognize me from the get-go, I don’t understand. Jobvite always does.

    9. Anx*

      I’ve had issues with Taleo before, but I never complained about them because there was no contact information. I assumed they didn’t want any feedback about their system at all, knowing that it’s Taleo. I’ve had Taleo not let me set up a new account because my SSN was on file, but also would not accept my username and password (it was correct, because a few days later I’d magically get through). I’ve been logged out mid-application many times (timing out).

      All ATS systems frustrate me, though. I really hate having to clutter up my application with jobs that aren’t relevant or were incredibly short term. I hate worrying that I’m lying if I click “laid off,” because fired doesn’t seem to be correct. I hate having to choose “quit” if I left a job because I wasn’t eligible for it anymore for reasons completely unrelated to performance.

      But Taleo has been the worst of all of them.

    10. Jubilance*

      As a candidate, I’ve never complain to a company about their application system. I have complimented a company that had the best, easiest application system I’d ever encountered though.

      Taleo is always a pain because it doesn’t sync across sites – each company that uses Taleo still requires that I set up a login, input all the info thats on my resume, etc. And some companies have their Taleo system set up to require a ton of info, or have a million rules for your password which adds to the annoyance.

    11. Voluptuousfire*

      Taleo is time consuming and buggy. The way some places have it set up, searching for jobs it very strange. If you click back from reading a requisition, it takes you back to the original search page instead of the page of results. That way you have to search all over again.

      Jobvite and Greenhouse are my favorites. Simple, clean design and easy to use.

    12. Stephanie*

      I think, too, even if you did feel comfortable enough to complain about the ATS to someone, it’d be tough to imagine the complaint would do much. I know those things are expensive to set up and maintain and I’d have trouble believing that the hiring manager (who, for me, is usually in a completely different functional area outside of recruiting or HR) or the worker bee recruiter could do much to change it (or that it’d be a priority outside their regular jobs).

    13. Dana*

      I’ve luckily never had to use it, but if I find an application process that isn’t worth my time, I don’t apply. Your applicants aren’t complaining because the ones that it’s impacting the most aren’t bothering to apply. If you don’t care about missing out on that demographic, that’s fine. But I would also never do anything to impact my hiring possibilities, including telling the hiring manager that their application/process sucks.

      1. CM*

        I was most of the way through a long, frustrating, and buggy online application process once when I abandoned it and gave up on the company. The company made the job application software! It was a terrible advertisement for them. No way did I want to work at a place that produced something so crappy.

    14. zora*

      As for “best online application ever” category, I recently applied for a job at Dropbox. They just have you login to your Dropbox account and attach your resume/letter from your folders. Genius. It was super easy and so fast. And by doing it that way they know that everyone applying knows what their product is and how to use it. I was kind of impressed.

    15. Lalaith*

      Since it seems like most people would not complain about the process while they’re still applicants, can you ask new hires for their opinion on your Taleo setup?

    16. Ad Astra*

      One of the easiest application systems, from the applicant’s point of view, is LinkedIn. Can anyone here speak to how well it works on the employer side? I hate when I get excited about a job opening on LinkedIn only to realize I have to go to the employer’s clunky site and re-enter all my information to their dumb system.

      1. AnonAnalyst*

        I love LinkedIn as an applicant! I think LinkedIn only delivers LinkedIn profiles or resumes (if candidates attach them) to the job poster, though, so if you want the searchable database ATS systems provide, it’s probably not best for that.

        OP: Echoing what others have said about Taleo. I find entering all of the information from my resume into the system annoying, but I can deal with that. What annoys me with Taleo as a candidate is when companies have it set up with overly specific data fields, like exact start or end dates of jobs (not years, actual date), or exact start and ending pay rates, or my GPA when I graduated high school 15 years ago (also, I agree with others: what’s with the degree and major field for that level of education?)

        And, a lot of companies make all of those required to advance to the next step of the application. If yours is set up to only collect basics, like the stuff you would typically find on someone’s resume, it’s probably not terrible for candidates, but if you’re collecting all of the information Taleo allows you to collect and making it all required to fill in, I would urge you to figure out what information you really need at that point in the hiring process and only ask for that info or only require that info to be filled in to make it easier for candidates.

    17. cLA*

      LadyLep, you said you submitted an application and found it to be painless. Did your application go through and end up in the list of candidates moving on to the next stage? If so, don’t forget you are in HR so you might have insight on how to get passed the system that regular candidates applying to your company, do not. Plus, I’m assuming you only submitted one application. Have you ever looked at some of the applications that didn’t make it? I wonder if you would find some strong candidates in there that just didn’t compose their resume in a way that the ATS would accept.

  24. AnonNeedsEncouragement*

    I guess I just need some encouragement. I been at my company for 3 years and I am ready to move on. Currently getting an MBA part time in the evenings. I am confident I can be making at least 20% more money and I don’t want to wait until the degree is finished to look for something better. The problem is that I am currently learning about the more technical parts of the jobs I want from my course work, not from my job. I fear that the longer I stay employed at this company and at this level I will pigeonhole myself into non-managerial/non mid level positions forever. I see recent (under) grad opportunities that pay better than what I am making now and that would be a great step in the right direction. Some include rotation programs which I think would be excellent for me but I don’t know if I should apply. I just cracked open Alison’s book for another go round (only previously skimmed it when I first purchased) so I am hoping it will help bring me to a positive mental place about it all. Anyone have a recent success story with landing a job transferring skills with better pay?

    1. TheExchequer*

      I don’t have a story like that yet but I hope to soon. And I encourage you just to send your resume to see what’s out there. Most other jobs are paying more than what I’m making right now and it’s encouraging even to interview for them.

    2. puddin*

      There were 3 students in my MBA cohort that were MBA interns or employed through development programs. No harm in trying. Be sure to include ample information about your skills and the transition you are looking to make in the cover letter.

      Go fer it!

  25. YetAnotherAnon*

    I recently discovered that my old employer (OE) is hiring for a position that I’m qualified for and that I would enjoy doing. I’ve been with my current employer for nearly a year, but I’m not entirely happy with the position. I want to apply to the position at OE, but how do I get over the guilt that I’m feeling over my current position? If I were to get re-hired at OE, I’d receive $20,000 salary increase and I’d get to move back to an area that I know well and where I have personal and industry connections. Any advice would be appreciated.

    1. Sunshine Brite*

      If you’re not happy, you’re not happy. An application and an interview isn’t a guarantee. You’d have time to work through the guilt and see where it’s stemming from and if it’s worth holding yourself back from what sounds like a pretty unique opportunity.

      1. ThursdaysGeek*

        Why did you leave OE? If the reasons you left are still there, think long and hard about whether you’ll actually be happy. But if this new job is something you’re pretty sure you’ll be good at, will like, and will be willing to stay at for a few years, then go ahead and apply. True, you’ll have been at this current job for a short time, but if you’re at the next one for a good amount, this current one will become insignificant.

        1. YetAnotherAnon*

          I left to get more experience and more pay (I was a parapro); I really enjoyed working at my last job and I liked my colleagues, but I felt that the only way to get experience was to move up and out (for a time.)

    2. Partly Cloudy*

      “It’s not personal, it’s business.” Rinse, repeat (in your head).

      I totally get the inclination towards guilt, but this is your professional life and your happiness at stake. $20k can buy a lot of wine to help you forget the guilt. ;)

    3. NacSacJack*

      IMHO, $20K is a good reason to apply. This is an opportunity for you to get ahead. Now, if you take the job, because you were in your current job for such a short time, from what I read, you better plan on staying at this new job for 3 years. Depending on your industry and your smarts, 3 years is a good length of time to show you know your stuff and could do the job so when you move on, you’re moving up. A 1 year job in between two longer term jobs would not be unusual if I saw that you grew your skills.

  26. Lizzy May*

    I need to vent today. I work in a role that is mostly customer facing. There is als an administrative component. In summer we are significantly slower but there is still work. My teammates have taken to reading at their desks. One of them bragged about reading 50 pages in a day earlier this week. While they’re reading, I’m doing the bulk of the administrative tasks. I’ve tried talking to them to ask for help with the work and I’ve talked to my manager but in both cases the books remain. I’m just very frustrated.

    1. kozinskey*

      Can you ask your manager to assign specific tasks to people? That way the work would be divided up more evenly, and you wouldn’t be responsible for other people failing to pull their weight.

      1. Steve G*

        I concur, I felt the urge to do this when I used to be a CSR in the same Dept working with a rep who’d been there for years….and people would call and say “let me get Laura,” not “I need sales/customer service/service.” So I would be fighting to get work, ands sometimes was not in the mood to do that. Maybe something similar is going on here?

    2. Sadsack*

      Why do you keep doing all these tasks? What would happen if you slow down and don’t do everything?

      1. Lizzy May*

        It would impact our customer service score and I’m rated on our team’s score. I can get the work done so I do since the alternative is a lower rating. I’ve talked to my manager about the division of the workload but she doesn’t care how the work is getting done just that it is.

        1. Partly Cloudy*

          That really stinks. Do the others care about their scores? Is it worth it for you to let one or two projects flop to incentivize your lazy co-workers to step up? Not that this is an ideal solution, but your manager stinks too so I don’t see another way.

      2. mskyle*

        Have you said a general, “I wish you guys would help me out?” or have you said, “Jodi, could you please do [Admin Task]?” Sometimes a specific ask works out better than a general request. Maybe ask your manager if this is OK to do. Also accept that you will get labeled as “bossy.”

  27. Liz*

    Reading your book Alison, but open to all comments… you say if you’re not qualified for the position, not to leave that out of the cover letter, to address it… it’s not like you won’t notice (excuse me for paraphrasing)… but this is my question:

    If a job “requires” a college degree and I have no college, do I address that in the cover letter or not?

    Thanks!

      1. Liz*

        I have years of experience, and I reference that, just wondering if NOT addressing the degree is the way to go, if it’s required. I have always opted to just focus on the positive, leave out the lack of degree, but in Alison’s book, it says address qualifications you don’t have and I’m not sure if a degree would fall into that category.

        1. Anon Accountant*

          I would consider a line such as “although I do not have a degree in teapot making I designed the new line of teapot handles that increased productivity by 30%” or something similar. Maybe someone who does hiring will weigh in and give their perspective though.

          In a few former companies I’ve worked at a degree wasn’t a hard requirement but the ad would typically list it. If you met the majority of the core requirements they were interested in interviewing you.

  28. Malissa*

    I just realized that a position to which I applied and had an interview is still open. I also never heard back from them after my interview. It’s been a year since I’ve really started searching for a new job. In a market that is hard up for talent. In this time I’ve turned down one job offer, because you can’t tell me you really value and want my skills and then offer me 20% below my bottom range and expect me to take you seriously. I’m feeling like a purple unicorn in a land of green squirrels.
    Please reassure my faith that there are managers out there that believe people can still learn new things and just because somebody is in a different industry doesn’t mean they should be treated like a person who know absolutely nothing.

  29. Random CPA*

    I wish more people would read this site. I posted for a position we had available and asked candidates to submit cover letters. Only 1 person did, and he just rehashed what was on his resume, bullet points and all. If only the candidates applying knew how much they would stand out if they would write a tailored cover letter. I’d be so excited to interview them. Instead, we’re interviewing 3 people that I’m kind of just meh about, not just because of the lack of following directions for the cover letter, but also because their resumes just list duties and irrelevant jobs they held for 3 months years ago. But they’re the best applicants I’m getting…

    1. Megan*

      It’s times like this I wish you could email them back with a link to AAM and a ‘this will help you’.

      But some people are just lost causes/don’t care.

      Can you ask? In the interview ask why they didn’t follow the simple instructions of a cover letter – you could frame it as ‘do you have trouble following instructions in general?’ Or what not. I’d be interested to see what they say.

      1. cuppa*

        I once had someone come in and ask me about a job, and when I told him he could submit his resume, he told me he didn’t have one. When I suggested that maybe he write one, he looked at me like I had three heads. I’m still trying to figure out where he thought everyone else got their resumes from.

    2. matcha123*

      I hadn’t seen this site when I was desperately searching for jobs a few years ago, but I was using some resources from my university and other things I found online. But if I’m perfectly honest, no matter how much I read about cover letters and writing them to match the job, I never feel like I’m writing anything great.

      I don’t know what hiring managers want to hear. I don’t know what words to use in my resume to make it stand out. And since I’ve never been in charge of any projects, and never will be, I can’t easily write about how I could succeed in a role. I don’t know how I could be great in a role or how to write that so that whoever is reading the letter feels confident in my abilities. Then I get to the interview and have to hear about how I don’t have experience with something that wasn’t listed in the job advert that I actually DO have experience with, but it was from high school, so I didn’t list it because I figured no one would care.

      As an applicant, I wish job posters would just write: “In your cover letter please tell us about X, Y, Z. If you have any experience with X (even if it’s old), please include that and information on how you learned it.” Something like that would help me focus in on the points that the people hiring hope to see, rather than fumbling around hoping that I hit something they wanted to see.

      1. Partly Cloudy*

        I hate writing cover letters, too. Everything I come up with always sounds trite to me.

      2. Dana*

        Sorry if I’m way off base here, but I think you’re putting too much pressure on yourself. Getting a basic cover letter going shouldn’t be a big mystery (IMO), and you can/should revisit and revise from there. If you find a job description you’re interested in, think about writing an email to your mom/sibling/SO–what would you say about why you think you’d be a good candidate? “OMG Mom, this sounds like the job for me because…” If you start with that kind of base, I find it personalizes it and you can polish it up and refine it afterward. Write the “email to Mom” and a few hours later or the next day, read the job description again and revise your email into a cover letter with Alison’s advice.

      3. Random CPA*

        For example, we’re hiring someone to do bank recs, so for that person, they could write a cover letter about how of all their duties, preparing bank recs is their favorite because they love problem solving to find where the difference is and ultimately getting their variance down to $0. Accountants are such nerds and we can all relate to wanting to account for every penny. So tell the hiring manager why you’re excited about the position and why you would be a good fit.

      4. Folklorist*

        I’m a writer by trade–I’ve written everything from books, newsletters, articles, magazines, etc, etc, etc…and cover letters give me panic attacks. I hate, hate, hate them.

        (One reason is because, when you’re writing for writing/editing gigs, there’s zero room for error. You also have to work even harder to stand out against all of the other good writers out there. It’s basically another writing sample on top of your published work.)

    3. Malissa*

      You expect accountants to write….j/k. Honestly I think this is why I get an interview for almost every resume I submit. Well written cover letters are rare.

      1. Random CPA*

        Lol, I know! That’s why people choose accounting…so they don’t have to write.

        1. RidingNerdy*

          No, we choose accounting because we couldn’t figure out how to make a living with an English degree. Someone advised us in college, “Well, you could always write your novel in your free time!”

          1. Artemesia*

            Einstein managed to write the 3 most important papers in physics while employed full time in a patent office.

            1. Regular Going Semi-Anon*

              LOL, I worked at the US Patent Office. I wish I had time there to compose seminal papers. The USPTO is so backlogged that we all worked crazy hours just to keep up with quota.

    4. Xanthippe Lannister Voorhees*

      I recommend this site to soooo many people and when they come back to me later with the same problems I say “well when you went to AAM did you see…” and so many of them say “oh, I didn’t go there.”

      You’re only hurting yourselves, friends.

    5. Future Analyst*

      I agree. I’ve found it’s difficult to even take people seriously anymore when their resumes are just not good. But when lower caliber individuals are the only candidates you get, and you’re not in charge of changing the job posting, I guess you’re stuck picking between “mediocre” and “worse.”

    6. Liz*

      I want to wish you luck with finding someone who is a good fit.

      And thank you for posting this question. It’s nice to know I’m not the only one who cringes at writing cover letters and that hiring managers actually care. I have such a hard time actually writing a letter and then getting no reply at all that I end up resenting the whole process of I’m not careful…. so… well.. this gives me a little hope!

      And with all the help here I’m sure my letters are much better now than they were before I found this site (and book).

      Again, good luck!

  30. Megan*

    I’m so excited to make it for Open Thread! I’m on the other side of the world and by the time I wake up it’s all full and no ones posting again :(

    I just want to say a massive THANK YOU to AAM/Alison. I continue to learn so much every day, the quality and quantity (rare to have both) on the site is second to none. I often jokingly refer to AAM as my religion and just then when I told a friend I was reading AAM she asked if I was doing my nightly prayers and of course I answered yes.

    Alison, you’re truly incredible. You’ve answered two of my questions and each time I was jumping out of my skin excited. You rock!

  31. Stephanie*

    A few of you mentioned you had grad school classmates who did a qualifying semester before being formally accepted into the program. Do you know how the classmates went about doing that?

    1. fposte*

      I think it varies from program to program and school to school, but we have something called “community credit” that allows non-degree students to take a limited amount of individual courses. It’s handled through the continuing ed division, and I suspect that’s not uncommon, so I think continuing ed would generally be a good place to start the questions.

    2. cuppa*

      My program allowed you to take nine credit hours before becoming officially accepted into the program, but I think the guidelines vary by the program. Take a look at the schools/programs you are interested in, and it should be listed somewhere on the websites.

    3. Brett*

      For my grad program, there was a graduate college wide conditional acceptance program that was _only_ for students who did not have qualifying TOEFL scores. Then each individual department had its own policy on admitting students who were not fully prepared for their program. When that happened, the grad advisor would create a 1-3 semester long program of undergrad (300-level) or undergrad/grad (400-level) courses that the student would have to take before they were fully admitted to the program at the grad (500-) level.
      On top of this, even fully admitted students could be required to take extra 300-level classes for no credit if they had deficiencies in their undergrad program. Probably about 80% of grad students had at least one of these classes too.

      300-level courses could not be taken for credit. 400-level courses were capped in how many could be applied to a grad program. So, inevitably nearly all of these courses in this prep program were not applicable to the student’s eventual degree program. All of this was handled by the individual departments, with the grad advisor having final say, rather than through the graduate college or continuing ed.

    4. Artemesia*

      This is not likely to be an option for high powered research programs with the goal of a PhD and academic appointment. For those you pretty much need to be in a well regarded i.e. selective program and funded and those are hard to come by.

      BUT most masters programs are not particularly selective (leaving out MBAs at high powered schools) and many schools allow someone to register for a limited number of hours before matriculating. If they are then accepted full time, they can use X number of those hours towards the degree. In the case with which I am most familiar, one could bring in 6 hours of credit earned while not being in the program.

      If one has marginal qualifications but really aces those two courses, it may improve the odds of admission; it doesn’t guarantee it. It is particularly helpful for people returning to grad school long after a mediocre undergraduate performance. Years have passed, the person has worked, and hopefully matured and the undergraduate grades are less useful as predictors — so good test scores and a brief excellent classroom performance can tip the scale.

      1. Stephanie*

        Yeah, MS level. Definitely not looking into high-powered research doctorate programs. I’m in the scenario you mentioned–long out of undergrad (where I had a mediocre performance*) and don’t have anyone to speak on my behalf for a recommendation (was an okay performer in my past jobs, but they were in an industry I have no desire to work in anymore). I had looked into this previously and was trying to figure out funding or if anyone knew of a more formal way to do this.

        I just had visions of being stuck in my current, poverty-level wage** job indefinitely and freaked out (their vague promises of “We’ll find something full-time for you, don’t worry!” aren’t exactly comforting), which is what got me thinking about this again.

        *I meet exactly the cutoff for most programs, save for the super selective ones
        **For once, I wish I was being facetious.

  32. anon fed*

    I’m eligible for a grade promotion next month and hadn’t heard anything yet, so I asked my boss if they were planning to promote me then. He said yes and also mentioned that they’re trying to remove the junior from my job title. I said that would be nice (because I’ve been working above my pay grade for awhile now–obviously didn’t say that bit) and he said something to the effect of “all you have to do is ask.” I thanked him and left feeling absolutely terrible. Logically, I know I should be happy because I’m being promoted — but, honestly, I was expecting more positive feedback from the whole interaction.

    Am I totally off base in my feelings? Other advice?

    1. Christy*

      I think this really varies manager to manager. I don’t think the interaction sounds bad. Perhaps your manager thinks that the promotion is positive feedback enough? Some people just aren’t effusive.

    2. fposte*

      I’m with Christy–I’m not seeing what’s making you unhappy. It was a question and not a review, right? And you got a good answer–not only are they going to promote you, they’re trying to give you a better title. What was there to be getting feedback on? Or did you have a subtextual queston of “Am I valuable here?” and you had hoped to be assured of that? Which is understandable, but it’s also unsurprising that your manager didn’t ask a question he couldn’t actually hear :-).

      1. anon fed*

        Thank you both.

        fposte – I think you’re spot on that I was hoping to get feedback on the subtextual question. My office does the minimal amount required for performance reviews (basically just signing the paperwork), and my manager doesn’t really give feedback to anyone (that I know of). Maybe it’s really on me to ask then.

        1. fposte*

          It sounds likely, from what you describe. So you could certainly consider asking to have a check-in where you get more detailed feedback. The more specific you get about what you want (“Could you tell me two areas where I’d benefit most from improvement?” rather than “How’m I doing?”) the likelier it is you’ll get something useful.

          It’s also worth considering that your manager may be the kind whose silence means he’s pretty happy with you. It’s not great managerial practice, but it’s not uncommon for people to figure they only need to speak up if something’s going wrong.

          1. The RO-Cat*

            “your manager may be the kind whose silence means he’s pretty happy” – this.

            Just 3 days ago I finished a training with a high local political entity (think state governor and his apparatus*). The governor was baffled – truly and honestly baffled by one of the division directors he appointed – she called him once or twice a week for updates and to get feedback that the direction of her work was OK and he was like “I put you there, of course I trust you, I’ll tell you when you veer off-course” and she (present in the room) was like “but I need regular feedback to keep on course”. Both were meaning well, it was just a difference of style. I had to put in some effort to help him see the world through her eyes. In such a setting, who adjusts faster ends most happy.

            (*titles and positions probably are all wrong, because I can’t make perfect parallels between the political organizations of USA and my country, but I hope you get the gist)

            1. AKB*

              That’s helpfulfor me in framing the interaction. I’m generally much more effusive with the teams/projects I lead (particularly for good work), so it’s good to be reminded that there are lots of management styles.

  33. HeyNonnyNonny*

    Is anyone in the DMV area willing to share their PTO/sick leave amounts? I am a non-Fed with 10 days (total!!) and aiming to negotiate for more. Trying to get a feel for a good market amount for mid-level non-Fed leave situations. Will appreciate any data points y’all can give me!

    1. Stephanie*

      When I was a non-fed there I got 14 days total (sick and annual). You want more than that!

    2. HigherEd Admin*

      When I was in DC, I worked in the non-profit sector, and we had at least 3 (maybe 4?) weeks of PTO.

    3. Aunt Vixen*

      DC, small federal contractor, 10 days vacation and 5 days sick. Up to 15/10 after five years and 20/15 after ten years, if you happen to be with the same company that long. (A year and a half ago the previous contracting company lost the rebid, and my co-workers who had been with the old company and stayed with the contract became new employees of the new company and had to start over at the beginning, so.) Plus all (10? 11?) federal holidays, of course. Lately we’ve been hooked up with the option to telework when necessary, which means there will be less scrambling to find something to do from home (or gambling with the planning ahead for this) when there’s weather, but if we didn’t have that option we wouldn’t get the admin leave the feds get when the government shuts down – we’d have to take PTO.

      My best non-Fed leave arrangement was two jobs ago at a local university: 23 days annual leave, 14 sick days, 3 personal days, 11 federal holidays, something like three university holidays, and admin leave if the university closed and we weren’t allowed to come to work. On the flip side, I was so underpaid that I qualified for subsidized housing. No job has everything.

    4. The Cosmic Avenger*

      At our company:
      > 3 years with the company, 15 days of PTO per year (sick and vacation).
      between 3 and 5 years, 20 days of PTO
      > 5 years, 25 days of PTO

    5. manomanon*

      DC, small foundation 15 vaca/leave, 10 sick, 3 personal. I’m entry level but this is what everyone at my org gets the first 5 years unless they negotiate more.

      1. manomanon*

        I skipped over holidays- we get the standard 10, but we work the week between Xmas and New Year’s which i find incredibly annoying

    6. Dawn*

      NoVa, small fed contractor, 18 days total PTO (vacay + sick leave) + 10 fed holidays a year.

      My last job, mid sized publicly traded company, was 3 weeks vacay (4 weeks after 3 years, 5 weeks after 5 years), 5 days sick, 10 holidays a year. Vacay rolled over from year to year with a max of 8 weeks total in the bank, sick leave didn’t roll over.

      1. Dawn*

        OH and 2 “floating” personal days a year, one given on Jan 1, one given on July 1- they stack within a year but don’t roll over with the rest of the vacay days.

    7. HeyNonnyNonny*

      Wow, thanks everyone for all the input! I made a tiny bar chart and am crunching averages (minus me and Aunt Vixen’s awesome university job as outliers, the DC average is somewhere around 18) so I feel in a much better place to pick a number and negotiate! :)

    8. Non-fed local*

      Yikes! I work at a generous trade association. 2 weeks sick, 2 weeks vacation, plus the week between christmas and new year’s off. Plus federal holidays. That’s basically been my standard in the DMV for the past 10 years with the exception of the free week off. Some places I’ve worked also do summer hours or summer Fridays.

  34. afiendishthingy*

    Do those of you in stressful jobs find you thrive on the chaos/stress? I’m beginning to come to terms with the fact that there is always going to be some crisis going on with at least one of my clients, and sometimes I’ll be able to help and sometimes it’s going to be out of my control. It’s stressful but I’m doing my best to just ride the crazy waves, and I’m realizing that part of m really does appreciate that there’s never a dull moment. I had a lull in March and April when a few cases closed, and I was freaking out about having so few billable hours. But it’s been one thing after another the last 6 weeks, and sometimes I want to curl into a little ball under my desk but overall it is actually preferably to having nothing to do! Anyone else conflicted like this?

    1. Sadsack*

      Yes, I seem to work better with a heavy workload. I get bored when things are calm and I do not have a looming deadline to meet.

    2. Jenna Maroney*

      It’s funny – one of the things I appreciate about my current office gig is that it’s very low-stress, lots of office chatter and general downtime, and I think I wouldn’t be able to handle an office job that was constantly intense. However, the jobs I’ve liked best have all been pretty intense, and what I’m currently in grad school for is being an elementary school teacher, which is a job I want partly because there is literally no downtime during the workday (except your 45-minute lunch, if you’re not spending it prepping); you’re “on” every moment that you’re with your students. I definitely welcome that, even though when I’m in it it can be hard – but there’s something about going home knowing I really gave my all that makes me feel very alive, I guess.

      I’ve had friends who’ve been like, paralegals at big law firms and I would never be able to do what they describe, and probably not what you’re talking about, but those same friends can’t imagine spending even a week working full-time with 7-year-olds (much less smiling your way through it!). Different strokes!

      1. afiendishthingy*

        After working in schools for five years I’m very happy that I now spend maybe twenty percent of my working hours with kids and their families and the rest in the office writing treatment plans, making materials, etc. It’s difficult because I really have to manage my own time (and for a lot of other reasons!), but I was really over the being “on” all the time thing. 35 hours a week with kids with moderate-severe developmental delays and every challenging behaviors you can think of is a lot, no matter how much you love them and how fun the good parts are. Even there, though, the crazy stuff kind of kept me going! Towards the end of those five years a 12-year-old kid deliberately peed on me and my main reaction was “This is hilarious, I can’t wait to tell everyone about this.” You have to be a little weird for this kind of work I think :)

    3. matcha123*

      I worked with kids for a few months. We were understaffed, the other teachers hated each other and every other day was full on drama day. The stress of planning lessons, buying supplies, keeping kids from killing themselves by walking into the street and finally performing for parents was just too much. I got out after six months and found myself in another workplace fueled by drama.
      Busy times can get the blood pumping, but I prefer to have them in a place with people I enjoy being around.

      1. afiendishthingy*

        Before I finished my masters/professional certification I worked in schools for five years as a paraprofessional with kids with developmental disabilities, many of whom had severe disruptive/aggressive/self-injurious behaviors. I loved a lot of the kids and it was great experience but I was very done after 5 years. Now I supervise home-based treatment for the same kind of population, and I’m client-facing maybe 7 to 15 hours a week and in the office the rest of the time, very flexible. So it’s stressful because going into people’s homes is a crazy business, and it’s a lot of responsibility, but there’s also a good balance.

    4. Kai*

      I start longing for any kind of busyness/stress during the summer. We’re almost always busy during the academic year, but campus goes pretty dead June-August, and there’s only so many times I can clear out my inbox and organize my files. Then when I do get a real assignment, I procrastinate a LOT because I know it’s probably the only thing I’ll need to take care of over the next several days.

    5. Sunflower*

      I totally feel you. As an event planner, my job very rarely comes without many speed bumps. I have so many mixed feelings about it. I frequently have nightmares about work(including on the weekends) where I either forgot to do something or something get messed up. People have heard me yell in my sleep about it. In the same sense, it’s the best part of my job. I’m a problem solver and get bored if there isn’t something I need to figure out. When I’m in the midst of a stressful situation, I enjoy how the time flies and don’t usually notice how late I’m working. Like you, I’ve hit a point where I know what things I can control/fix and which ones I need to just let go. During our slow times, I am annoyed at the mundane work I have to do.

      The thing that actually stresses me out is not everyone in my company(esp my boss)/who I interact with is like me. When chaos hits, everyone panics and it makes my job that much harder. I ALWAYS panic when I get a phone call or text outside of work hours because i know something has happened and while I can comfortably asses the seriousness of it, not everyone else can. While I know it’s something we can handle in the morning, everyone else thinks it’s an asap emergency. for example, my boss called me 2 days ago telling me we had a problem. He sounded so concerned I actually thought someone died. After he explained everything, I almost laughed as this was hardly an emergency, more like a memo. Things like that are what I can’t handle most at my job

      I feel really conflicted over it. I think if I worked somewhere where people were more like me I could deal with it a lot better.

      1. afiendishthingy*

        My managers are very even-keeled and say things like “Go enjoy your weekend, you’re not helping them by trying to do all their worrying for them, do what you can to fix the piece you have control over, but you can’t fix everything. Give them a call on Monday.” On the other hand two of the people I work most closely with – both of whom are very competent and whom I like a lot – have worse anxiety than I do and my GAD is pretty bad. so we get into an anxious feedback loop sometimes, although sometimes if I can tell them when they text me about the crisis du jour at 11:30 pm to GO TO SLEEP and WE WILL TALK TOMORROW it reminds me to give myself the same advice. (OMG. longest sentence ever. queen of run-ons!)

      2. CM*

        You know, this is probably one of the things your coworkers and clients value about you — that when everyone else is panicking, you stay calm and focus on how to handle it.

    6. Katie the Fed*

      Yep. I love chaos and stress! My job is perfect for me! I’d be happy in a newsroom or the floor of the NYSE.

    7. Steve G*

      There were some “perks” to working in a chaotic startup office – occasionally coming in very late, taking a mental health day with little to no notice were barely noticed………….and there was lots of room to do interesting work….because of the chaos, people that would have otherwise grabbed the “interesting” projects didn’t always see that they were there or that there were “interesting” problems that needed work.

      And a added bonus, is that I can write a cover letter in 15 minutes because it gave me so much fodder to tie to different job postings:-)

    8. katamia*

      I love chaos and get antsy when I feel like there’s “nothing” going on and that every day is going to be exactly the same as the one before it. I WFH right now, but I would always get really grumpy when I’d go to work and there would be nothing to do. I could never find a way to shush the part of me going “…You brought me here for nothing when I could have been at home in my pajamas?” (I was the same way at school when we watched movies in class. *sigh*)

    9. aliascelli*

      I do seem to thrive on crises, but my problem is dialing it all back *after* work. I find that the general business of living gets ignored because it’s not pinging my stress radar in time. I don’t know how to balance the two. Maybe I can’t.

      1. Afiendishthingy*

        Yeah. I keep getting kind of stern lectures from the senior clinician about how I have to learn to shelve the work stress at 6 if I don’t want to burn out. She’s right but the work issues are interesting in addition to anxiety producing. It’s tough, I’m trying to get there

    10. thelazyb*

      I would rather have too much to do than too little. It does stress me out being too busy, but not as much as it depresses me being too quiet :-/

      1. FiveWheels*

        Ha yes this is my life. I think it’s pretty typical in law.

        I’m fine under stress and overworked and in chaos… Until that moment when I’m not fine, after which I’ll be Really Not Fine for a few weeks until I can recover.

    11. AnotherFed*

      I love chaos and I love high-speed, Very Important work with strange and fascinating problems to solve. I do not love people, especially when I have to slow down to catch them up or wait for them to do something. Unfortunately, my job has both pieces, and it’s simply not possible to have the crazy fun chaos without the people, so I find I love my job but by Friday I have so had it with these people for a while.

    12. Clever Name*

      If someone had asked me years ago if I prefer a fast paced environment, I would have said heck no, but I work for a busy consulting firm where I wear a lot of hats, and I love it. I’m usually working on a dozen different projects at any given time, and many of them are high profile (my part is not high profile though). I start to feel antsy when I don’t have just slightly too much to do. Or worse, when I have to wait on others to move forward. Waiting is the worst.

  35. CarrieT*

    I have trouble focusing on work when I’m in a messy environment. I have the constant urge to clean my desk (at the office) or my apartment (when I’m teleworking). The trouble is, it’s basically *impossible* to actually work in an uncluttered, distraction-free environment, because, well, life is messy and clutter happens. So how can I make some sort of mental shift to be able to focus on work, amid the piles of papers and dirty dishes?

    1. CarrieT*

      In other words, how can I change my attitude and get down to business when I know I can’t have the perfect, clutter-free work environment that I crave?

      1. AnonymousaurusRex*

        I had this problem when I was writing my dissertation. I ended up keeping a very clean space where I could work and not see the rest of the mess. When this didn’t work and things like the dirty dishes in the next room would bother me I would leave and go to a coffee shop or the public library. This helped a lot, since it was pretty ordered and clean, and got me away from my ability to procrastinate by cleaning up.

      2. HeyNonnyNonny*

        Can you try setting aside a very concrete amount of time for cleaning at the beginning of the day? That way you can get it out of your system but then also have work time.

      3. LCL*

        I can’t help you, I have the opposite problem. I thrive in disorganization. But I wanted to thank you for posting something that validates what I tell people all the time when they ask why my office isn’t clean.
        To me, cleaning up is a necessary but despised task, I know it has to be done and I respect the people that clean but I hate it. I clean as a work avoidance tactic. I tell people I only clean when I don’t want to do my regular work.

        1. katamia*

          I work as a cleaning avoidance tactic, unfortunately (for my house) and fortunately (for my paycheck). I use “If you don’t work, you have to clean” as a way to make myself work. *sigh*

      4. The IT Manager*

        Clutter free home office?

        If you’re seeing the dishes from your “desk”, you’re working in the wrong spot. If its just knowing they’re in the other room that’s much harder, but you can wash dishes or tidy up the morning before you start work?

        I think the answer is a designated workspace you keep tidy and ignoring the rest while you’re on the clock.

      5. cLA*

        If you can afford it, you can also look into those co-working/shared office spaces. I agree with the other commenter though, set time before you start to work and clean your space or do it before you leave for the day.

    2. GOG11*

      Sometimes I use cleaning to process/as part of the process. If I’ve got a project I’m trying to tackle but I can’t figure out how I want to go about it, sometimes I’ll clean up and it helps, either by easing me into the work or perhaps because it is a physical version of what I’m trying to mentally do at times.

      I don’t think it’s unreasonable to work in a clean space unless you don’t have control or authority over that space (if it’s your neighbor’s messy desk that is driving you nuts, I would recommend learning to live with/work through that type of distraction). One way to do this without spending too much time cleaning when you should be working would be to set up your work space so that you are facing a wall or minimally clutter-able area and keeping the space to either side of you tidy. If space allows, put messier piles or projects to the side out of your peripheral vision and put office supplies or clutter in drawers or cabinets.

      It may also help to overhaul your space when you have time and create a system that keeps clutter from becoming a problem. I’ve noticed lately that, since I’ve gotten a roommate, I’m cleaning ALL THE TIME because there just aren’t good places for things. At some point, I’d love to go through and get rid of some stuff and create new systems so that cleaning up entails putting things away and not having to find a space for everything every time I come across it.

    3. Briar*

      I am just like you… it hasn’t occurred to me to defy my nature, though. but, if your space is constantly cluttered, things need places, you need less stuff- then you clean less often. that’s ny solution, anyway.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Have assigned times or days for these tasks and stick to that schedule. When the pile of dishes starts calling you away from your work, you know that you will do them according to the schedule. The dishes will get done, just not right now.

  36. Grey*

    It’s often written at AAM that hiring managers won’t check references until an interview is completed. Supposedly, this saves time for the manager in case the interview does not go well.

    But if the applicant pool isn’t that large, aren’t there managers who’d think, “Why should I make this guy prep and drive over here and spend an hour talking to him if his past employers have nothing good to say? It would only take about 15 minutes to call a couple of employers on this resume”?

    1. fposte*

      Sure, there are exceptions. I was called for a reference in one of those situations–it was a library job that elicited applicants from several surrounding states, and they didn’t want to drag somebody in if it turned out they really weren’t a strong candidate, so they called the references of their finalists in advance. (My recommendee was brilliant, and I told them they’d be sorry if they didn’t call her in. They hired her.) I’m not clear if they informed the candidates or not, but I think they did.

      But they likely won’t call people unless they know they’re finalists. It’s not about a small applicant pool, it’s about the PITA that is calling references. It doesn’t take “about 15 minutes.” It takes about 15 minutes to make the initial calls or emails. It then takes another 15 to arrange times, and follow up on the nonresponders. It takes 15 to prepare the questions. It takes 15 to reschedule with the person who wasn’t there at the call time. Etc., etc., etc. It’s my least favorite part of the process because it’s so freaking labor-intensive.

    2. GOG11*

      I haven’t done a ton of hiring, but if you do reference checks first, your questions won’t be informed by what you learned about the candidate during the interview. I imagine it would be hard to anticipate everything you’ll need to ask without first having interviewed the applicant and you wouldn’t want to squander the opportunity to talk with someone’s references or go through the hassle of talking to them twice.

    3. Margali*

      Our process is to do a phone interview first (I know Alison approves!), then check references, and then do the on-site interview.

      1. fposte*

        Do you check references of everybody you phone-screened, or do you narrow the pool before deciding whose references need to be called?

    4. Trill*

      We’re hiring for a high level position right now with relatively few applicants, all of whom are out of state and need to be flown in for an interview. We’re checking references before the interview invitation (but after phone screen) since it is expensive and time consuming to bring people in for an interview. It is difficult to ask good questions of the references, but for this position we get a much better feel from the full day in person interviews than from references anyway. We have had a few applicants who we did not invite for an interview due to red flags in their references though.

    5. Ask a Manager* Post author

      It’s because people are far more often knocked out of the running from an interview than they are from a reference check. So you’re likely to do the reference check, want to proceed, and then as a result of the interview want to reject. So you could have skipped that reference check on a lot of people.

      Plus, doing it your way means references would get checked WAY more often, which isn’t very considerate to the references. Say people interview for five jobs for every offer they get (I’m just making that stat up, but it seems plausible). That means you’d be talking about a massive increase in calls their references would get — five times as many for lots of people. (And you might think that’s not the employer’s problem, but as an employer you want references to not be worn out; you want them eager to talk to you.)

    6. ModernHypatia*

      I’ve had places check references before – but it’s usually been academic interviews (I’m a librarian) where they’re going to fly in the top couple of choices (on their dime, so you’re usually talking $1000+ between plane flight, hotel for 1-2 nights, meals with the search committee, etc.) and most candidates may be coming from significantly out of town.

      Usually it’s been a moderately thorough phone or Skype interview (usually 30-45 minutes, not just a brief screening), then talking to references, then arranging the visit.

  37. Tele-team bonding?*

    I lead a team that is spread across the country, with about 5 located in one office, 2 others in two other offices, and 10 or so remote (ie home office). We try to do a live team quarterly meeting but this year they are likey going to be cut due to travel costs. What are some good ways to do the normal “team bonding” type activities (lunch out, happy hours, parties for weddings/babies, and even things like condolence cards when not-happy events happen)?

    I have everyone’s birthday and send flowers or treats (or both) to everyone on their birthdays, and I did a secret-santa type thing when we had an all-team meeting in january….but any other ideas?

    It’s also a little hard because I do have a bunch of associates in one office, so it’s easier to do things like baby showers for those people since we have a “critical mass” of team members + the rest of the office.

    Ideas?

    1. Tele-team bonding?*

      I should add that our company does various things to try and include the remote workforce in office events (eg if there is an ice cream event, they mail gift cards out to the remotes, as an example [this happens like, once per year]).

    2. ThursdaysGeek*

      I’m part of a remote team, spread out over at least 4 locations, and it would be nice if there were any team building activities. But, other than having us go to the main office about once a year (not all at the same time), there isn’t anything. I still haven’t met 2 of my teammates. So, good luck, and I’m interested in hearing replies. Especially if there are any ideas that a fellow teammate can do, instead of management.

      1. Brandy*

        I am right now trying to coordinate a remote baby shower. It’s pretty lame (we’re all doing donations via payal to my account, I’m buying a diaper cake online and having it sent, along with some stuff from her registry). I wanted to see if there was a way to do something more interactive (like food!) but i’m running out of ideas.

    3. of souls, and to your scattered bodies go*

      Have you tried using Second Life?

      I’m only half-joking. As telepresence goes, we found it was somewhere between a phone conference and F2F. It had a pretty steep learning curve, though, and not everyone can handle the ‘online culture’ they’ve got going in there.

      About a week ago I tried out a telepresence robot – I believe it’s the same type as used on that Modern Family television show – for a remote meeting and it was a huge FAIL. *sigh*

    4. RidingNerdy*

      Have you considered trying some Google Hangout events? Maybe do some interactive ice breakers (they make me cringe in real life, but might really be needed for virtual team members).

      Depending on your industry and office culture, what about a team book club/article club where you read business books/team-building books and/or have folks share relevant articles/blogposts/etc. and then meet in a Hangout to discuss them via webcam/conference.

      Shew…that was a lot of forward slash usage.

    5. FJ*

      I’m on a remote team too. I think some previous AAM columns said to “solve real work problems” as the best way to team build. That has worked well for us.
      – Sometimes we have longer group meetings to work through immediate issues, or discuss improvements to our products/process/whatever, or review new things we are doing…. inevitably leads to side chats and getting to know people.
      – We also do short (15-30 minutes) of “What I worked on today” which borrows from the daily standup meeting of agile software development.
      – As team lead, I say “Wakeen and Tyrion, please talk to each other and work together on the new castle project.” Then, they get to know each other by working together.

      We try to get together in the main office every so often, but that is hit and miss. When we do, there are often group dinners and lunches to get to know people.

    6. The IT Manager*

      Don’t. I now work on virtual teams. There’s no money for travel. Not that I think its great, but I don’t think there’s any way to do it virtually where its not forced.

      Only thing I ever saw sort of work was have the meeting start with non-work chat instead of silence while we waited for everyone to join, but that occurred in part because the team knew each other from the past/other trips. It made for a feeling of friends instead of coworkers.

  38. Anon Accountant*

    Any advice on how to explain in a cover letter why you are applying and are interested in a lower level job? I have 7 years experience and a job I’m interested in requires only 2-4 but it will pay more than my current job. The duties are similar also. I don’t want the company to look at my resume and think “well she’ll want too much money so disregard her resume”.

    1. GOG11*

      I wouldn’t worry about the numbers not exactly matching up in this case. If the job duties are similar and you have the qualifications to do the job (but you’re not really over qualified and, therefore, a potential flight risk), they should be able to see that and will probably pay more attention to how well your skills and experience align with their requirements/what they’re looking for. If this genuinely is a bit of a step down in some way, you could explain why you’re excited about the job – i.e., company does great things, is located in an area (geographically) you want to work in, focuses on an area in your industry you want to work in etc.

    2. cLA*

      I would go ahead and explain in the cover letter. I don’t want to take the chance if I really want that job.

    3. Random CPA*

      If the duties are the same, are you just taking about a different title? For instance, I worked with a girl once that had been a Controller at her previous employer which was a very small company and she didn’t supervise anyone but then joined our much larger company as a senior accountant where her duties were similar and she also didn’t supervise anyone. So if that’s similar to what you’re talking about, I think you should mention something in your cover letter about how even though you’ve been working as X-higher level position, your duties are similar to Y-lower level position. I think it’s good to connect the dots for the hiring manager in your cover letter rather than hoping they analyze your resume and figure it out themselves.

  39. Nashira*

    Good thing: We have a temp employee on their second day with us. While my boss is out, she trusts me to keep showing the new person the ropes and helping them find stuff to do. Being trusted like this is great, and helps me kill the brain weasels that always suspect people hate my work and just won’t tell me.

    Bad thing: A particular jerk employee keeps trying to take over and push me out, while treating the temp either like a child or like they are a thing and not a person. For extra fail, jerk coworker is white and temp is a person of color, so this behavior has especially awful connotations. So far I am doing a good job of playing shield, though, which was my major job duty for today.

    Worst thing: Jerk coworker also keeps triggering my actual I’m-in-treatment PTSD. Trying to be a polite friendly shield is hard when your brain is convinced you’ve been dipped in velociraptor food and thrown into the pen with a few dozen of them.

    1. I'm a Little Teapot*

      Wow, that sounds awful. Is there any way you could tell your boss about Jerk’s behavior? Possibly mentioning how bad it looks considering Jerk and Temp’s respective races? (“I’m just worried about exposing the company to legal liability…”)

    2. of souls, and to your scattered bodies go*

      Hmmm. I’m guessing Temp probably doesn’t have any channels they can complain on. And you’d probably rather not deal with the rep you’d get if you stabbed Jerk.

      Only thing I can think of is: do you have any idea why Jerk wants to get involved? It’s a shot in the dark, but if you knew this, it might somehow be easier to tell Jerk “hey – I got this” or “Boss told me to handle this, but thanks.”

      1. Nashira*

        Our office jerk pretty much tries to be the Ruler of All Things Clerical, every time a new person comes into our section of the team. It’s a known and expected behavior, and normally one that is easily shrugged off with a mental eye roll, you know? She does it because she is afraid of being fired (for which there is cause, good grief), honestly, and wants to prove herself indispensable. Keeping that in mind does help with shrugging her off, though, you’re right!

    3. Username*

      I would give jerk coworker the benefit of the doubt – if just to show your boss later when this doesn’t work. You could pull him aside (or send him an email) letting him know how harmful his behavior is (racial discrimination, triggering PTSD). Act like he isn’t aware of what he’s doing. He’ll either stop or (most likely) continue his behavior. Then you can go to your boss and explain the situation and the seriousness of it.

      1. Nashira*

        If I were in a reasonable office with a reasonable office jerk, I would try talking to her. Unfortunately… past attempts to politely go “hey, you’re treating me/someone else badly when you do that, did you realize that?” have resulted in tears and dramatics, which are non-helpful. I am going to speak with our boss on Monday, and let boss know that I didn’t like the way she spoke about our temp.

        There’s also… My PTSD is also related to medical situations and is triggered by her detailed descriptions of a surgery she just had, which is grossly similar to the event which traumatized me. I can’t help overhearing it sometimes since our cubes share a wall. I have no idea how to even begin to say “please stop telling everyone every detail of your procedure when you’re at your cube” without her accusing me of discriminating against her on the basis of disability. I honestly don’t care who she tells… I just wish I could work without worrying that her next phone call will feature a blow-by-blow. I don’t know if I should disclose to my boss either, since we work with medical records and I don’t know if my boss will understand that I’m okay with the WORK, just not the narration.

        Mostly, right now, I must just be drinking an awful lot of water since I keep having to go to the ladies’ room all the time. Or get something from the file room. Or refill my water bottle. My therapist helped me brainstorm ways to escape, because my therapist is amazing.

        1. Username*

          I didn’t realize you had already talked to her. Ugh.

          Is there a way you can bring this up to your boss without mentioning PTSD? Maybe simply saying that it’s really grossing you out and causing you to lose focus and be unproductive will make your boss talk to her about it. I totally understand not getting your boss involved in your medical history – but it might be worth saying something like “Jerk Coworker’s behavior and comments throughout the day are interfering with a [medical condition, situation, etc] I’m dealing with. I don’t feel comfortable talking to her about this; can you handle it?”

          Otherwise stick with the therapist who’s giving you escape plans ha ha.

    4. ITPuffNStuff*

      can you list specific examples of the problematic behavior you want changed? and regarding race, have you seen evidence of racism or are just concerned because these two people happen to be of different races?

      i’m not completely comfortable with slapping value labels like “jerk” and “racist” because:
      1. even if this person really is both a jerk and a racist, i doubt those value labels will be part of the actual solution to the problem behaviors
      2. value labels are always at least a little bit (and often a lot) subjective
      3. none of us are perfect, and as imperfect beings, i don’t feel we should be setting ourselves up as our peers’ judges

      my normal approach to problem solving is to identify the unmet needs and try to think of a compromise that meets them, but in this case, it isn’t really a conflict between you and the (alleged) racist jerk, but a conflict between two other people, to which you are a third party. so … how do the 2 people who are actually involved in the conflict feel about it? does a conflict even exist between them? what are the unmet needs?

  40. Liz*

    Oh and I have another question… I have a GED… but to make it look nicer on my resume I wrote it out (especially since I feel many people see GED an have an immediate reaction and judgement) as what it is: General Education Diploma.

    I’ve had a couple of interviews where I’m asked where I went to school and so I am guessing people don’t know that that is a GED and while I answer best I can (well I didn’t go to school, I was on my own at a young age and took various training courses…) I am wondering if this is misleading in a way. Should I change it back? Not sure how to proceed with that.

    Thanks!

    1. Sadsack*

      What if you just say, “I received my GED in 2009 and then took courses in X field at Such and Such Training Institute,” or something like that?

      1. Liz*

        Thanks for the more polished language, I got a little flustered when asked, I wasn’t trying to give the impression I have a degree…

        Would you say leave it spelled out then on the res?

        1. Sadsack*

          I think it is fine the way it is written, it’s not like you made up another name for GED to try to hide that fact. I am sure most people know what a GED is, so if having it written out is throwing them off, I think once you use the term GED in the conversation, they will make the connection. I do not think it appears that you are trying to mislead anyone.

    2. YandO*

      Why do you need to put GED on your resume?

      List the specific training/certificates you received. Unless you are a teenager, everyone assumed you finished high school and nobody cares how that happened.

      1. Liz*

        OK, I really thought I would HAVE to include it. Thanks everyone, I like that even better :)

    3. Persephone Mulberry*

      I think…that other people will think you’re trying to hide the fact that you got your GED rather than a traditional diploma, and they may wonder what else you’re hiding.

      I also think that you can take it off of your resume entirely. For 10 years between finishing high school and starting college, my resume just didn’t have an education section.

      In an interview, if they ask “where you went to school,” all you need to say is “I got my GED in 2009.”

      1. Liz*

        Interesting, hadn’t thought of it that way… Thanks. I love the idea of just leaving it off.

  41. Anony*

    My company is a privately held company that doesn’t disclose it’s financial information. I’m looking to update my resume, and in my field, size of the company is important and best assessed in terms of total sales since the scope of duties of my position varies widely at different companies based on how large sales are. My company’s handbook says our financial information should not be shared. Can I list a vague total sales figure on my resume? For example “…with over $X00 million in total annual revenues.” I’d hate to just leave that part off because my company is not well-known, but is very large, and Glassdoor lists what they think annual revenues are, but the amount is only 10% of what our actual revenues are.

    1. TheExchequer*

      You can, but I don’t know how likely it is to make a difference. (Think about if you’re the manager getting two different applicants of the same quality. Is your deal breaker likely to be how many sales their current company makes, unless you’re hiring for sales?)

      1. Anony*

        But by just looking at two resumes, if you don’t know the size of the company, in my position, the scope of work varies heavily for a $10 million/yr company vs a $500 million a year company. So if I leave that part out for my current company, which is the largest I’ve worked for, I feel like I’m leaving off valuable information when applying to similar-sized companies in different industries that have never heard of my company, and could assume it’s a small company.

    2. it happens*

      I would suggest that you do a search for +’your company’ +sales or +revenues to find a public source for the info. Even if they don’t do press releases as a private company, they may still respond press or community surveys for important companies in the area, or PR for important exec etc. As long as you can find anything in the public domain that is similar to the number you have internally then you would be OK. (And general ranges for that type of thing are fine, so 10% of the total number is not good as it’s off by an order of magnitude, but saying over $10 million of annual sales covers everything from $10 million to about $15 million, etc.)

      1. Anony*

        Good suggestion. I had seen stuff on Glassdoor, which was totally off base and then I just searched generally online. I found Hoovers also lists our revenue, but like Glassdoor, they list only 10% of actual. So $70 million/yr instead of $700 million/yr. So, I don’t think putting over $70 million/yr on my resume would give a good indication of size. Another website lists between $20 and $30 million as their estimate. The closest I’ve found is one that lists $100 million, but that’s still pretty far off.

    3. puddin*

      What information is available from the company public website? Do they list anything that could be helpful in terms of sales figures, position in industry, number of clients, # of patents…anything??

      If its on the public website, you can feel free to use it. No, its not groundbreaking information for the interviewer that knows how to use The Google. If the idea to convey how successful, impactful, or profitable your company is, look for the language on the website that states that.

      Good Luck!

  42. _ism_*

    Sigh… HR lady continues to undermine me. She gives me conflicting information about my schedule that differs from what my boss tells me. She makes rules that only apply to me when something is irritating her (example: I must walk three blocks and use a printer in a different building if I am printing more than 50 pages, so as not to cause delays on other print jobs. She prints 300 page books on a daily basis at the printer in our building.) Every time I have to talk to her, she reports to my boss that I’m “arguing.” I never am. I learned my lesson the first time, to act meek and apologize for having questions and concerns before addressing them with her, basically to suck up. She gave me a major OSHA compliance projects for which I have been doing months of research, collaboration, and legwork with all the departments, but when she requests updates on my progress she says things like “We don’t need that. I haven’t studied the compliance guides but I don’t think that’s necessary. Don’t make this so complicated, it’s not a big deal.” (We’re talking about employee safety here! I am being thorough and she can’t stand it?) I guess it’s a personality clash. I just don’t know what else I can do. She doesn’t take me seriously.

    1. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Is your boss afraid to stand up to her? Because she shouldn’t be giving you any work or instruction, period. Can you talk to your boss about the instructions, and ask if they can work it out so you only take instructions from or through your boss?

      1. _ism_*

        I’m not sure how my boss and HR lady interact privately. When I’ve brought these concerns up to my boss before, what usually happens is my boss and HR lady have a private conversation, and then boss and me have another private conversation after that. This morning I told my boss about all the things HR lady said while she was out of town and how it conflicted with what I thought my boss’s instructions were. After talking to HR lady herself, my boss asked me to confirm whether I had in fact “argued” with HR lady. (No, I simply stated to her what my boss had communicated to me and that I was acting under her instructions.) It feels like tattling and I hate that I’m in this position.

        The way it seems to work around here is that anyone who’s a manager or department head can tell anyone else what to do. The receptionist can ask me to help put up holiday decorations or set out food for employee lunches. The IT guy can ask me to help train people on how to avoid spyware. My boss can ask me to help train people on Excel. The HR lady can… ask (tell) me to do anything and I don’t dare say no to her after all this. She makes a very clear point to make sure I don’t receive any special treatment under her watch (I’m in the same classification and beholden to all the same rules as all the factory employees even though I was hired for skilled office work. HR lady likes to make sure we know our place. Turnover here is awful.) However, HR lady and Boss lady seem to have some checks and balances against each other built in. My boss told me flat out I work the hours SHE tells me, not what HR lady says. She didn’t offer any help on how to handle HR lady when she’s not around to be my mommy and hold my hand :(

      2. _ism_*

        I’m also very very fearful that even if I got my boss to advocate your suggestion and they agreed to it, HR lady would find other ways to make sure I’m miserable. I get to overhear her personal conversations with other managers all the time – she’s not a nice person. Right she and other managers are eating lunch, joking about cutting up an employee and sending his body parts to his family.

        1. Ezri*

          That’s terrible! Are you looking for another job? It’s your decision but that doesn’t sound like a healthy environment at all. Especially if other managers refuse to stand up to her and are going along with that kind of humor in a public setting. I’d be furious if I heard management speaking with that kind of violence in general… let alone about an employee!!

          No advice for your situation, unfortunately (other than get the h*** out), but much sympathy. :(

          1. _ism_*

            These are the same people who played a trick on the factory workers on April 1st telling them they had to work overtime and to do a perfect job because there would be auditors coming.

            I definitely want to find another job, in a REAL city, but in this town it’s very hard. It’s a very small town in a very rural area, and I’m told I’m lucky for getting hired on full time here and that they pay the best in town. ($9 an hour. LOL.) This job was going to be my fresh start for a career. I have a bad history, no good references other than the one I really hope my current boss would give me in the future. It’s why I feel it would be wise to stay here at least 1 more year, to prove to future employers I do have staying power. I’m kind of between a rock and a hard place and this job is really my only asset in getting myself out of this job. Heh.

            1. Coach Devie*

              Don’t let that stop you from looking!! You never know something better may come along, that pays better, and is willing to take you on. It can’t hurt to look, outside of your town if you want to leave, just to see what’s out there and where you could potentially fit. Craft a great resume and cover letter and you never know what could happen. I wish you the best!

        2. Coach Devie*

          Something Alison says sometimes…

          Your HR lady sucks and isn’t going to change.

          So… are you looking for something else, because it just sounds like a miserable situation to be in and it’s going to start affecting you outside of work if it hasn’t already. Not to mention, her behavior towards you could prevent promotions, etc and stunt your career growth. I echo the sentiment that you should get out as soon as you can.

          In the meantime, is there anybody higher up that you can go to?

          Who does one go to when one has grievances with the people who are supposed to handle grievances? argh…

          This cutting up an employee thing, while very may well be a joke, someone could take real offense to that or feel it is creating an unsafe or hostile work environment.

          1. _ism_*

            Exactly. HR lady is the one you would normally go to about interpersonal conflict at work. But when I was afraid to report harassment to HR lady, I went to my boss first and she went WITH me to make the official report with HR lady and that’s probably the only reason it got taken seriously and I didn’t feel bullied.

            The only higher up people are our corporate office in NYC. I’ve never even met them and I am explicitly forbidden from contacting them on any matter without my boss’s approval.

        3. of souls, and to your scattered bodies go*

          Given that you have limited options, I think you should chance it: attempt to have a short, serious meeting with your Boss where you establish that you have *one* boss, and that boss is *her*, and not the HR Lady. You work *for* your Boss. You work *with* the HR Lady.

          I wish I had a better idea. But it sounds like HR Lady is gonna be all bitchy whether you take it to your Boss or not. Why not give it a shot?

          1. _ism_*

            I’ve been thinking about this conversation with my boss all day. I want to try to catch her at the end of the day, if I can pin her down. (My boss is the Fire Chief, so to speak). My boss and I have already talked about the shared understand that she tells me what to do, not HR lady…. but I need to ask my boss specifically how to handle HR lady, because she’s going to try something again. I just know it.

              1. _ism_*

                Haven’t had a chance to talk to boss yet. I’m going to stay until HR lady is gone in order to pin my boss down.

                Here’s your update. HR lady took the project away. She somehow managed to complete it in one day. She didn’t even send me a copy of her work. Just an email, at the end of the day, when she knows I’ve spent months on this, saying “I have updated [project] so I won’t need you to do it. It was just a matter of changing the names of people in the departments.”

                This is on the written plan, that spells out who exactly is responsible for what – which is all the owrkd I havve been doing and i guarentee my name isn’t on there at all

  43. AnonymousaurusRex*

    So today I’m really scared. My company is in a tough financial situation and if we don’t have a paying contract come through by the close of business today, we’ve been told that there will be staff reductions on Monday. I’m currently filling in for my manager on maternity leave, and I’m the last person left who can do this job, so I don’t think I’ll be amongst the first reductions, but this is really sad and really really stressful. We were a company of about 60 when I joined a year ago. We’ve been shrinking slowly through non-renewal of contracts and some people jumping from a potentially sinking ship. We now have fewer than 30 people. I don’t want a different job, but I also don’t want to be playing the violin on the Titanic!

    I’m also having trouble figuring out how to strike the right chord with my team, who I’m currently managing. It’s hard finding the right balance between peer (freakout mode) and manager (calm and reassuring), when I’m only temporarily managing in any case. I probably won’t find out before anyone else who will and won’t be laid off, but we are a close bunch and tone matters a lot in building camaraderie while trying not to let emotions run amok and start to death-spiral-stress-out.

    That’s all, just sad and scared. Advice welcome.

    1. Malissa*

      Stay calm and project calmness. Everybody will be stressing and you stressing in front of them, even if they are peers won’t help.

    2. Dasha*

      Whatever you do, don’t shut down. One of my old bosses did this. Just do the best you can, make sure people have information they’re allowed to have access to, and be as transparent as you can. You are just riding it out with everyone else.

    3. AnonymousaurusRex*

      Well, I just had a good meeting with my team. Told them everything I know and clarified questions I could answer for them. It wasn’t much, but hopefully it helped.

      1. RidingNerdy*

        Tough situation, but I think that’s the best way to handle it. Let them know that you’re sharing all the information you can. I think you can tell them that you’re concerned, too, but are trying to process the “known” data rather than worry about the “unknown” part.

      2. puddin*

        This is important to do – a few times while the company is struggling. Even if there is no new info or little info that can be shared. The mere fact that you gather people together, acknowledge the difficulty, stress, and awkwardness, and let them speak their minds will go a looooong way to avoiding the death spiral. I promise!

      3. Jillociraptor*

        Yes, that’s exactly how to do it. In a stressful situation like this, people will fill the information void with catastrophe thinking, so the more you can tell them about what you know and what you don’t know (and won’t know) the more you can help keep the anxiety to a reasonable level.

        Having directly supported and worked alongside some senior leaders in my organization as we went through pretty significant layoffs, I’ve developed a lot of empathy for managers and leaders. It’s hard to have time to process your own feelings and also prepare the public face you need to wear, so cheers to you for thinking about it. Your team will appreciate it, I’m sure.

        Good luck! I hope everything turns out well for you!

  44. Better get back to work*

    I’ve been a stay at home mom for about 3 years. I lost my job not long after I became pregnant so with the exception of one part time job and one short lived temp job I haven’t worked in much in 4 years.

    Now I’m a few months into a new job and I’m having trouble adjusting to the 40 hour work week. I’m finding it difficult to focus for 8 hours on just work. My mind wanders and by the end of the day I feel mentally drained and unable to pay attention to work tasks. It’s hard enough that outside of work I feel like I’ve lost all my time with my family (at least it’s drastically reduced), which I anticipated. But the combination of the two is feeling like failure.

    I’m not doing poorly in my position, but I could be more productive. My work is high quality but it’s being delivered slower than I’d like. I used to be a superstar employee and now I’m feeling subpar.

    Any advice for a parent getting back to work after many years off?

    1. Dasha*

      You’ll get back in the swing of things after a few weeks. I remember (way back in the day) when I first started working how tired and mentally exhausted I was for the first two months but then it was just normal to me.

      You’re going to do great- just give it more time! Good luck :)

    2. Dawn*

      One thing that I did that really helped was identify what time of the day I was the most productive and then tackle my biggest/most complicated task during that time. I’m a super morning person and am hellah productive from 8am-11am so that’s when come in, get my coffee and water, put in my headphones and goooooooo! Then there’s other times when I know I’m not going to be very productive, so I do the easy/little/quick tasks then- like during the hour before I leave for the day I do the simple stuff.

      Another thing is DON’T be focused on work for 8 solid hours! Use the Pomodoro technique (25 min working, 5 min break, with a 15 min break every two hours). Get up and walk around, get a glass of water, whatever. And TAKE YOUR LUNCH! Go away from your desk, get outside, read a book, go sit in your car, disconnect your brain. It helps so much!

      1. Better get back to work*

        The Pomodoro technique is new to me. I noticed someone mentioned it in a thread the other day. I’d never heard of it before. Sound advice! I am sitting at my desk all day and eating lunch at my desk too. My hours are really flexible so I try to power through so I can leave early or on time but maybe that’s the wrong way to approach it. I have been trying to meet my family for lunch at least one day a week. I could probably do more. In the mean time, I’m going to try to break more during the day.

      2. saro*

        I just started the Pomodoro technique and love it so much!! I use an app on my phone and an extension on my Chrome.

    3. thelazyb*

      My DS is nearly 4. I went back to work when he was 1 and worked 4 hours a day until recently.

      I started a full time job on 1 June. We drop him off at 730 and I don’t pick him up till 5 or after most days. I am COMPLETELY wiped out and can barely do the minimum, can just about feed us (I get home earlier than my DH) and keep us in clean clothes. Everything else, either my DH can do or it waits (for ever atm). Once DS is asleep I watch one thing with DH and then go to bed, and I am still exhausted.

      So if you’ve gone from not working at all to full time, you will be EVEN MORE wiped out than me. I was in my previous job 7.5 years and rocked, even when exhausted, even after a bad night. It’s really hard.

      Don’t forget, when you’re new, everything takes longer than usual anyway. You’re learning tons, and it’s not routine yet. New jobs are always tiring.

      We’ll adjust. It’ll just take time :)

      Keep posting in the Friday threads, we can check in with each other!

      1. Better get back to work*

        Fortunately my husband is stay-at-home (we switched roles so I could go back to work) and he has been rocking it! So not much for me to do when I get home but I feel like my evenings evaporate and I’m mentally tapped.

        You are right. We’ll adjust! I will keep posting and if I come up with any helpful tips myself I will make a note of them to share.

        1. TheLazyB*

          Ooooh I wish my DH could stay at home! He’s looking at reducing his hours when DS starts school which would help very much. I do just think it’s a matter of time. And taking regular breaks as mentioned above, you’ll be much fresher like that. I stayed at my desk today and read online newspaper and I was far more tired this afternoon, even though all I normally do is walk into the kitchen and eat my sandwiches :)

          1. Better get back to work*

            I’ve been looking for work for years and I got lucky enough to get a job that pays significantly more than he was making. So we were able to make the switch instead of us both working.

            I hate to admit it but my DH is a far, far better stay at home parent than I ever was. My daughter is played with and happy, the dishes and laundry is done, the house is clean, and random broken things get fixed. The only thing he doesn’t do is the grocery shopping, which he probably would do if I asked him, but I’m not about to do that, LOL.

            I hadn’t really thought of it but I can see how not getting up from your desk, even for 5-10 minutes can make the day seem so much longer. I mean, I get up to go to the bathroom but that’s about it. I need to start going outside mid-day for some sunshine!

    4. The IT Manager*

      Just know that many people – kids or nor, newly returned to work force or not – are wiped out at the end of the day. You are not alone.

    5. Revanche*

      It took me a long while to get back in the groove too. I was only off maternity for a few months, and coming back to work both my normalish schedule (on a few hours, off a little while, back for a few hours, off a little, on again) or a solid 8 hours straight has me seeing sideways by the evening. Hang in there and be kind to yourself on those days when you just can’t. You’re doing a lot!

  45. Katie the Fed*

    You guys, my new office is all pastries and donuts and candy all the time. It’s DRIVING ME NUTS because I’m stressed and I stress eat and willpower is lacking.

    HELP!

    1. HigherEd Admin*

      Keep your own supply of stress-eating snacks! This is the only thing that saves me from eating the constant parade of sweets and treats in my office.

      1. straws*

        This is what I do too. I can’t eat unhealthy food if I’m busy chewing healthy snacks. You have to pick something you really like though! I’ve definitely brought in snacks that I was ‘OK’ about and ended up subbing them out for office food before…

      2. Elizabeth West*

        This. If I have alternatives, I don’t think, “I have to eat this because there is nothing else.” (Of course, that didn’t stop me from buying chocolate cookies out of the vending machine for lunch dessert today). :P

    2. HeyNonnyNonny*

      Please send them to me! I am a huge stress eater, and I’m shamelessly allowing it right now to avoid burnout. A donut would buy me a few extra hours of sanity…

      1. Katie the Fed*

        I know. I think I’ve given myself a free pass right now because I’m just generally stressed.

        Maybe I give it three more days and then stop.

    3. Stephanie*

      I usually drink water or chew gum (uh, make sure it’s sugar free…I had a bad experience at work once when I stress-ate an entire tin of (not sugar-free) Altoids) just so my mouth is occupied.

    4. Cruciatus*

      My office has been like this lately because of end of school year celebrations and retirements and this and that. There actually came a point (this week, in fact!) where I was just uninterested. I opened the donut box and thought, “I really don’t want that.” And the time before I took only half a donut and felt just fine about it. I don’t know how it will be the next time treats are presented….but I’m taking it as a win for now. Maybe you will eventually reach the point of being used to it (and/or the stress will be alleviated) and you won’t care anymore.

    5. matcha123*

      If you were to take some, why not break them into smaller pieces as soon as you get back to your desk and cover them with tissue or a paper towel?
      Have one piece then, and then put the rest aside and when you feel like another, then take one of the bits you’ve broken off? Sometimes I take snacks to have on my desk because I know my coworkers will get to them quickly. But then I end up with a pile that I forget to eat because they are right in front of me and I think, “I’ll grab it after this…” and then forget about it…

    6. AndersonDarling*

      Cold carrots and celery. I keep a supply in my desktop mini-fridge. But I will often cut a corner off a donut, just for a taste.

    7. cuppa*

      I am a stress eater too (or so the scale tells me, ha!)
      One thing that helps me is to look forward to lunch and/or dinner. I try and plan something healthy that I know I’ll get excited about, and that helps me resist the temptation to eat other things. (“oh, I don’t want to spoil my exciting lunch, so I’ll skip the donut”)

      Good luck!

    8. Nanc*

      Just to clarify, does the office/business supply the snacks or are people bringing treats to share? If it’s the former, ask about adding fresh fruit or nuts/trail mix or some other more healthy options. If it’s the latter, bring in your favorite healthy yet tasty snack to share! I live in an area with tons of peach orchards and during peach season I always go by the farm stands and buy a ton of peaches and bring them in. If I’m in a baking mood, I will make a peach cake/cobbler, but I figure using fresh peaches balances out the cake/cobbler aspect leading to a neutral snack in terms of good/bad! Kind of like Girl Scout cookie calories don’t count as they’re for charity.

    9. thelazyb*

      Get ppl to put them in opaque containers. There is research. I’ll post it later if I don’t fall asleep first ;-/

    10. DMV*

      Oh I’m right there with you. The only thing that helps me avoid the brownies right outside my office is gum. LOTS of gum. Different flavors of gum. Literally I chew gum until my jaw hurts.

    11. puddin*

      I keep chicken bouillon in my desk. It sounds odd, but I will have some of that before I grab a donut. Many times, I am full enough that the treats look less appetizing.

    12. abby*

      I feel for you because I am in the same situation. I am a total stress eater, I am stressed quite frequently, and there is always some junky but yummy treat available. I gained 20 pounds by indulging in my stress. I recently changed my ways and while I’ve not dropped any weight yet, numerous health markers are improved. This is what is working for me, so far:

      1) Know where the junky treats are regularly placed and stay away if you can. If I don’t see the stuff, I won’t eat it (and most of the time won’t even realize it’s there). This has been huge, even though difficult because the junky stuff is in the room with the main printer/scanner/copier.

      2) Like others suggested, bring your own snacks. But they need to taste good and maybe even a little decadent to make up for not eating pastries or something similar. I keep a constant supply of very good dark chocolate in my desk because I can eat a few small squares and be satisfied, even when majorly stressed.

      3) Don’t ban the treats entirely, but make choices. What is worth it? For example, I now pass on grocery-store pastries and treats made with questionable ingredients. Reading labels on some of this stuff makes me go “ick” and I don’t want it. If something home-made comes in, on the other hand, or something from a bakery that is known to use quality ingredients, I will have one.

      4) You are recognizing you are a stress eater, which is good. It took me a while to realize that. Now that I realize this tendency, sometimes I go for a brisk walk instead. When I come back, the urge to eat is often gone. If not, then I eat. But I am eating much, much less than I used to.

  46. Yikes*

    I share an office with a couple other people and recently, one of those people changed. I’m not a huge fan of my new office mate, but I try to keep things professional and friendly, to avoid the “bitch eating crackers” phenomenon. Well, she just went on a minutes-long rant about how she wasn’t hired for this internal position that she wanted because they hired someone prettier than her, who can’t think for herself, who makes mistakes, and she’s so much better than this other person who only gets things because she’s pretty, she can’t believe this other person got hired. Loudly. With the door open. Our team does have a little bit of a rah-rah culture (“We’re the best at everything, unlike these other teams!”) which is something that happens primarily because we’re effectively the clean-up crew, but that usually happens behind closed doors, at internal meetings, and not at near-shouting volume? I didn’t say anything at the time and now I really regret it, so I’m going to try to get some responses locked down in case she starts up again in the future. Ugh.

    1. Florida*

      Isn’t it annoying when you think of all the brilliant things you should have said about a hour too late? That happens to me all the time. Depending on the situation, sometimes it’s awkward or even wildly inappropriate to say them later when you think of them. (Sometimes it works, it just depends.) I always have situations where I think, “I should have said ____.”

    2. Not So NewReader*

      That is a pretty good slam against management. I guess if she does it again, I would say something to the effect of “you told me this already”. Or if the door is open, I would say, “The door is OPEN… the DOOR is OPEN…”

      Or if the moment felt right, you could let her know that the door is open and now everyone knows that she feels management is incompetent.

  47. Lisa*

    At what point do I give up on getting my review and go elsewhere? I am 4 months behind. My boss is 11 months behind. Everyone is behind by 1 – 14 months. I hate having to remind management that my review should have happened by now. Feels like I am begging for a raise (implying quitting if my review continues to be held off) vs. getting one that I deserve.

    We were acquired last year so that is why everyone is behind schedule. I seriously doubt anything I get will be retroactive. Especially when at least 10 people should have gotten their reviews and raises in 2014, which now means that their raises are taken from the 2015 budget (my raise budget). So not only do I see delaying reviews as a tactic to avoid giving increases, but I feel like had they done everything on time – I would have gotten a higher percentage.

    I’ve talked to my boss, he knows I am annoyed. He was told reviews are going in order so I got delayed, plus they use a 360 system with new company. We weren’t trained on the system until last month (11 months since being acquired). So my boss was told to hold off until the training for my review, which was rescheduled 2x. March, April, finally happened in May. We still are not listed in that system at all. Since our office has jobs that are new to corporate, those jobs are not in the system yet either. So yeah… HR sucks for delaying that 360 training and not creating the new jobs in the platform. So boss’s boss told him to collect 360 feedback by email. Well 10 people were selected for me and everyone was great about it and got it back even though they dont usually do it outside of the system.

    My boss reminded his boss that he had all of my 360 feedback. He was told that his review will happen before mine. He was told he is having his review at the end of the month – but hasn’t been scheduled.

    This is a fixable solution, get off your butts and give people their reviews. Make it retroactive.

    Even if I get my review, if they don’t make it retroactive – should I leave? Again, feels like a tactic to avoid giving raises for as long as possible. Doesn’t make me feel happy about new company, makes me feel like they are squeezing every dollar out of us.

    1. Colette*

      Do you have a contract that specifies that you get raises?

      You say you want y.our review, but it sounds like you actually want a raise – but it’s possible to get a review and not get a raise. I’ve gone several years without raises when the company wasn’t doing well.

      Merging companies is complicated, and there are a lot of important tasks, all of which take time.

      If the raise is critical to your job satisfaction, you should be looking. Otherwise, it sounds like you’ve done everything you can do and you just need to wait.

      1. Lisa*

        People are leaving left and right, and management is talking to HR about how to stop the turnover. But no one is talking about obvious things like the insane delays. I don’t have a contract, but I also have no clue how I am doing at my job. I know my boss likes me, likes my work. But he doesn’t decide raises or promotions at all. So I am basically blind on whether I am doing a good job according to corporate and if I have a future here. I want to know that before I jump ship. 10-15% raises are standard in my industry if you are valuable. 5% if you are just ok but doing good work. Its an employees market for my industry, so getting nothing isn’t the norm usually. But corporate isn’t used to giving market or raises to fit these new jobs. Typically they only give COL increases if that. I am in Boston, and it remains to be seen if I end up with an Ohio (corp headquarters) COL increase vs. a Boston one and if they will adhere to market value raises for the jobs that they acquired.

  48. Gandalf the Nude*

    Bit of a rant on a probably divisive subject to follow.

    One of the linked posts this morning mentioned something that’s been on my mind since the NC legislature passed Senate Bill 2 this week, allowing magistrates to opt out of performing marriages for religious reasons. The aim of the law was to let them not perform same-sex marriage, and they claim that it’s fair because magistrates who take the exemption will be barred from performing all marriages. I disagree with the law for many reasons, but I’m only going to speak to the AAM-relevant one: I think it’s ridiculous that they can abdicate such a huge part of their duties with no consequences. Alison wrote (emphasis mine):

    …ultimately your employer can require you to administer it if they choose to. There are a few exceptions to this, such as if you hold a bona fide religious belief that conflicts with the policy (and if the policy isn’t a key element of your job).

    I feel like this is the same thing. These folks swore an oath to the state and federal constitution, and performing these duties is such an integral part of their job that I don’t see how a religious accommodation is reasonable. It’s like Alison says: the conditions of the job have changed, and you have to decide if you still want the job under those conditions. If they have such an objection to such a huge part of their duties, I don’t see how they can say this is still the job for them.

    /rant (PS, sorry if my formatting fails.)

    1. The Cosmic Avenger*

      It bothers me even more when it’s medical providers, because your job is to HELP PEOPLE BE MORE HEALTHY, how the (&*# can you abdicate that responsibility because of your religion? How and why do people like that go into helping careers anyway?

      And if that’s your religion, you need to go back and study it, because I can assure you that it’s actually NOT a part of your religion, just your bigotry.

    2. Elsajeni*

      Well, one question would be how big a part of their job it really is. A quick search for “north carolina magistrate” got me a description of their duties that includes issuing warrants, setting bails, accepting guilty pleas and fines for certain misdemeanor offenses, and presiding over small claims court, but nothing about performing marriages; I don’t know if performing marriages is something that they do regularly and an expected part of their duties, or just something that they are authorized to do but that isn’t a part of their day-to-day schedule. The judge who performed my marriage only performed marriages on evenings and weekends, outside of his regular work, and I don’t think anyone would even notice if he opted out so as not to perform same-sex marriages; I don’t think he should and I reserve the right to think he’s kind of a jerk if he does, but I can’t see an argument that it’s an integral part of his job. But I can also imagine that magistrates might be scheduled more like “Bob, you’re on traffic court today; Susan, you’re on civil marriages,” and in that case I would feel like Bob and Susan shouldn’t even have the option of opting out, other than by finding a different line of work.

      1. Steve G*

        I don’t see the argument that it is an integral part of the job.

        Also (said as a GM), I don’t see someone being a jerk for not wanting to do the ceremony. Actually, all the better if he opts himself out. I would want someone who wants to do my ceremony do it, and would rather not deal with any awkwardness caused by someone feeling forced to do it, especially if someone else if available.

    3. jhhj*

      I don’t like the idea that you can opt out of a key part of your job, but if this isn’t key — hard to tell — then it feels fair. Either a magistrate does marriages for everyone or for no one.

      1. Ezri*

        I’m torn on this issue. I support people getting to opt out of things that go against their religious beliefs on principle, but the same-sex issue is pretty personal to me so it’s hard to be objective.

        For me, if a particular church or private business doesn’t want to support same-sex marriage, they don’t have to. I don’t like it or agree with it, but that’s their prerogative. But I don’t really care for government officials opting out of administering policy that they don’t agree with.

        If a state legalizes same-sex marriage, I don’t think couples should have to deal with a official effectively saying ‘let me get another magistrate to marry you, because it was up to me this wouldn’t be legal’. You can shop somewhere else, but you can’t really take your governmental business elsewhere.

        1. jhhj*

          I’m not totally clear on how it works in NC, whether this is the only way to get a non-religious marriage or what.

          (As far as I know the rules in Canada are that government officials can never refuse and members of clergy can refuse for any reason.)

    4. thelazyb*

      I learned in training last week that a registrar in the UK was sacked for refusing to perform civil partnerships. But Google tells me she won her appeal on religious grounds :(

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Dear UK,
        Please don’t be like the US. You are our older, wiser, big brother. Please don’t turn stupid.
        Love,
        Anglophile

        P.S. – I know you’re not perfect but DAMN.

              1. The Cosmic Avenger*

                My daughter is binge-watching Friends on Netflix, so I’m getting to enjoy it all over again. :)

    5. Artemesia*

      This is a thoughtful strategy promoted by the ‘think tank types’ and the billionaires funding the right wing. They thing calling bigotry and discrimination ‘religious’ and pretending they are being oppressed if they can’t discriminate is a winning stance. They have redefined bigotry as ‘religious freedom.’ It has worked on guns; we are willing for children to be massacred in school rooms and random citizens in churches, campuses, malls and workplaces because ‘freedom.’ At least two states have recently passed legislation to allow domestic abusers to have guns, because freedom. (and don’t get me started on the push to allow blind people to use guns.)

      It is a naked political ploy cynically put forward to play to racism and homophobia as part of the efforts to build political power.

      1. Clever Name*

        You hit the nail on the head. Said billionaires are also systematically defunding our public schools and sending kids to private (often religious) schools with vouchers in the name of “choice”.

    6. ITPuffNStuff*

      this doesn’t seem that complicated to me. you have 2 sets of needs:
      1. some same sex people need to get married
      2. some magistrates do not want to perform the ceremony for religious reasons

      compromise: the people in #1 get married by one of the magistrates who doesn’t fall into #2. is there some logistical reason that wouldn’t work?

      i can understand people in #1 would probably be offended merely because those in #2 exist, and to “win” the conflict feel those in #2 should be dragged kicking and screaming into performing the ceremony, or be terminated from their jobs, even if their are other magistrates completely willing and able to do it.

      those in #2 are probably also offended merely because those in #1 exist, and to “win” the conflict feel those in #1 should never be permitted to marry or even walk on the same side of the street.

      i’m interested in solving problems and meeting needs, and that is not done by deciding who should “win” the conflict. arbitrarily choosing a winner means the loser leaves with needs unmet, and the conflict perpetuates. this may sound callous, but i don’t honestly care if people feel offended. living on a planet with other people on it means feeling offended some times. don’t like it? feel free to move to your own private island somewhere. otherwise, be an adult and accept that some things others do offend you, and some things you do offend others, too.

      getting married is a need. receiving a religious accommodation is a need. not being offended is not a need. it’s a want. it’s impossible to build effective compromises while trying to satisfy everyone’s wants, so i feel we all need to grow up and accept that we can get our real needs met, but we’re not magically entitled to never feel offended.

  49. Eugenie*

    What do you do when an executive level staff member constantly bullies your (much lower level) staff? I’ve tried talked to her before, but she’s very good at making comments that are just on the borderline of being out of line — but it’s the pattern that’s dragging my team down. Her boss is the CEO and I know problems regarding this VP have been brought to him before and he chooses to not care. HR won’t do anything since the CEO has made it clear it’s not a priority. Meanwhile this Vice President just keeps making nasty comments to my staff and criticizing all their hard work!

    1. J.B.*

      I’m sorry, that is rotten for everyone. What I would do is politely call the person on it and point out that so and so did a great job on x. I would do that in my current environment because I know the limits of the jerkiness and that part of it is lack of awareness on the bosses’ parts and because they themselves don’t need positive feedback. There are people who respect you if you push back. I would have no idea if that is the case in your office or it would have repercussions.

      1. Eugenie*

        Thanks — I’m not sure how that would go over. This VP is super unpredictable so I just don’t know how to respond. On one hand I want to stand up for my team (who are working their butts off 50 – 60 hours/week) but on the other hand I don’t want to make anything worse for them by creating a bigger rift between the departments than there already is.

    2. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I think the best thing you can do is make sure as much interaction as possible goes through you. For example, tell the VP that you need to get a handle on this staff member’s workload, so please send all assignments to you and you’ll manage them, and have the staff member send work to you to be sent to the VP. Maybe you can at least partially insulate the junior staff member from the VP.

      1. Eugenie*

        Yeah, one of the things that frustrates me the most is that my poor manager (as in, manager that reports to me, not my boss) has to go toe-to-toe with another department’s VP just in the normal course of her work. She typically works with other managers at about her same level, but then this VP butts in whenever she feels like it and gets down in the weeds with project details that she does not need to be concerned with.

        Any tips for how to phrase that kind of request? “Hi Jane, I’d really appreciate it if you brought any concerns you have regarding Jill’s work directly to me, as her manager?” That seems super formal for our work environment – any thoughts on lightening the tone a little? I work with this VP fairly regularly and need to have at least a cordial relationship with her (as tough as she makes that sometimes).

        1. The Cosmic Avenger*

          Hm, it really depends, but for someone with whom I had a decent relationship, I’d probably just explain that I’m trying to help my reports manage their workload, so please route all interaction about their projects though me, as I’m going to start managing their tasks a bit more. It’s a bit of a white lie, but then again, part of the “workload” when it comes to this VP is dealing with her bullpucky, and so you ARE taking over that part of the workload. :D

          Actually, I think the more important part is to have the manager refer the VP to you whenever they contact them directly. The VP might need to be “retrained” to go through you, and the manager is the only one who can and will have the opportunity to redirect the VP like that. And tell them you back that 100%, no exceptions.

    3. puddin*

      Give your staff verbiage to tell her she needs to take up her concerns with you. Make sure they know they have the permission to say this and, not only will they not be in trouble, but that it is the preferred way for everyone to handle it.

      “Cruella, I understand you have concerns. The best way to address them is to take it up with our manager, Jill. She has specifically requested this info so we can all be better at our jobs.”

    4. Revanche*

      I used to put myself between the bully and my staff. They’d be too intimidated by his bullying and spin that made them look bad to refute his “facts” so I’d take the heat by stepping in and clarifying the details he tried to obfuscate in order to bash them. It wasn’t an awesome solution but it would give them a chance to remember it was ok to politely stand up for themselves, take a breath, and be constructive. It was clear to everyone around us that he was the jerk but it took a long time to resolve that situation. In the short term, he backed off making so many wide sweeping derogatory statements in my presence because I wasn’t afraid of looking like whatever people perceived me to be in the course of defending my team.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        That’s kind of what I was aiming for, Revanche, thanks for that. I’m just not sure everyone can pull it off. I know I would have a lot of trouble, because I’m horrible with confrontation. But then, I think this is really the only way to protect your staff from people like that when they’re tolerated by the rest of the company.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          The key here is consistency. You are either in or you are out. If you decide to go this route you cannot stop, you must follow up, follow up and follow up. She might decide to leave Jane alone, because you stood up for Jane. So she moves to Sue. Now you have to go get Sue.
          Recognize that this will involve a huge amount of energy and it will take time. I do agree with Revanche that this will work in the long run. Definitely arm your people with the words you want them to use when these things pop up. Target her recurring remarks and give them replies for those recurring remarks- such as she should talk to you or whatever is appropriate.
          When your people see you making good on your end of the deal they will tend to follow your instructions for wording better and better as you go along.

  50. IndianSummer*

    My question is about job offers and negotiating. I have been in my current organization long enough that I earn a good amount of vacation every year. I would be starting over – likely at two weeks annual vacation – with any new organizations that I move to.

    Would it be feasible to negotiate an additional week of vacation instead of a higher salary? Is this done? Am I crazy?

    1. HeyNonnyNonny*

      I think I remember this coming up before…But if I can’t find the original post, I think that it’s totally fine to ask, and you’d just say something like, “I’m interested in an additional week of vacation; is that possible?”…pretty much what you said already.

    2. Lisa*

      I negotiated that, then my company was acquired. I no longer have that. I should have negotiated salary.

      1. IndianSummer*

        Wow, that is terrible. Thank you for sharing as this was not something I had considered.

    3. puddin*

      All the time. I have even been on a couple of interviews where the recruiter, knowing I have ample vacay time currently, will suggest to me that extra time is definitely negotiable. But even if that was not stated outright, I am still requesting the extra time. Starting over with vacation time sucks!

    4. Windchime*

      I did it, but I was moving to a company where I already knew a lot of people and they recruited me, so I knew they wanted me. I was getting X numbers of days of PTO at OldJob and I told them I needed to get that at NewJob. They said they never start anyone out at that and that I would start accruing at that rate after five years employment. So they front-loaded my account with the amount of days I would be missing out on for five years, which was really nice because then I could take of a couple of weeks that first summer I was here.

  51. Sunshine Brite*

    Masters level social worker here. Got a mailing from my college about a Masters of Leadership certificate at an alumni discount. What are thoughts on that sort of program?

    I enjoy my position now and plan to stay at the county government for the foreseeable future, although possibly moving into a supervisory role with more experience if there was a time that I was more willing to give up the extensive flexibility I have right now. I’m so not there yet haha. I love working from home.

    I was considering an MBA if I did get an additional masters and only after I paid down my current school debt which is substantial. But this certificate would only be about $2600 total which I could make work out of pocket.

    1. Tyrannosaurus Regina*

      I wonder if there’s a way to chat/network with alumni of the certificate program to find out how they’ve fared?

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I do a lot of hiring where management and leadership experience is important, and I would give a masters of leadership certificate exactly zero weight. Possibly less than zero, actually, if I got the sense the person put too much weight on it themselves. What do you want to use it for?

      1. Sunshine Brite*

        More as leverage to say that I’m serious enough about developing leadership skills to look at the theoretical aspects if I were to do it. It seems pretty unnecessary overall but I didn’t want to turn down the alum discount if it was something that people would look favorably on. I’ve already started developing some leadership skills by mentoring new staff.

        1. Sunshine Brite*

          Plus, I just like school. I’ve always been a much better student and dreamer.

          1. puddin*

            Me too, but maybe that $2600 is better spent paying down the loan or on a personal enrichment fund. The leadership cert sounds iffy in value – as many certificates do (unless they are technical, and even them some are ‘in paper only’).

  52. Cruciatus*

    I just need someone to say, if I get the job I’m interviewing for, that I’m not screwing over my boss/students for whom I’m the AA for…it’s a normal part of doing business. It’s a normal part of doing business.

    We’re transferring case studies into a web designer software that I’ve just been trained in (and only me). There are over 70 to transfer by the beginning of the school year (late July). Plus I have other work leading up to the new school year. My boss has been told by the provost it needs to be done by then. Add in that my employer is very slow in hiring… I will be screwing them over, but not on purpose. Gah! I realize I don’t have the job yet, but I feel like the one that comes at the worst possible time is probably the one that will actually happen.

    1. J.B.*

      That’s business, and they should be happy for you. Slow employer processes are something we live with. The most essential work will get done and a lot will fall by the wayside.

    2. The Cosmic Avenger*

      No, they are screwing themselves over by not realizing that (FSM forbid) you could be hit by a bus tomorrow…or mid-July, even. If that happened, I hope you wouldn’t expect anyone to feel sorry for them!

      Can you suggest cross-training anyone? Would your new employer push the start date back?

        1. Meg Murry*

          Yup, procedural is my recommendation. Take screenshots of the process one time, put it in Microsoft Word, printing it out, put it in a binder. Then worst case your boss can do it him/herself if they can’t get approval for a temp.

          Totally a normal part of doing business. And even if they offered you the job next week, you would need to give 2 weeks notice, so it would be early July at worst before you left – and chances are it will take a week or two, so staying at your current job through the end of July or close to it is not unreasonably unlikely.

          One of the best pieces of advice I’ve heard is “we’re not doing heart transplants here, we’re [putting case studies in web software, or insert other duty as appropriate]”. While you should do your best to keep the project on track so that it could be completed on schedule, honestly, what is the worst that will happen if it isn’t done by July? Not heart transplants, no one is going to die – some people will just be slightly inconvenienced. Cost of doing business is that anyone can quit at any time.

          Take a deep breath, rock your interviews and don’t worry about it. Maybe make one more case to your boss that someone else should be cross trained as a backup and then drop the guilt.

    3. Red Rose*

      It’s ok; in many jobs there is never a good time and yet people do eventually leave jobs, either to go on to something new or they are carried out feet first. I’m sure you are good (and obviously very conscientious) but nobody is irreplaceable. And as slow as hiring can be at some places, you may very well be there until the end of July if you do get the new job.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Tell yourself, “Lack of foresight and planning on their part, does not constitute an emergency on my part.”

      It’s kind of you to worry about this, but you had no control over how this was poorly planned out. Since you had no control over the planning, you have very little responsibility for how it plays out. If push comes to shove you can ask them if they would only give out one building key to one person. No one else would be allowed to have a building key. This is the same concept only in a different costume.

  53. Wrong Job*

    Anyone have any advice for taking the wrong job?

    I was offered two positions, both in the same general field, but in two different areas (database management and fundraising). I wanted the database position more, but it was paying over $20K less than the fundraising job. I took the fundraising job, because I did want it, and I thought it would be a good challenge, but it’s a much higher position than I’m used to–I manage employees, am in a visible leadership role, etc.

    I realize now that I made a mistake in not listening to my instincts, and I’ve only been in the job for two months. Should I stick it out until I’m there 6 months, hoping it’s just a serious adjustment period, or should I start looking?

    1. Kelly White*

      Only you know if it’s truly not the job for you. But, two months is not a long time. Especially at a job which sounds like you have a lot of new responsibilities.
      I always tell myself I’m going to stick out a job for a year. After a year, I should know enough about the job (and myself) to know if its a good fit or not.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Two months is way too short a time frame. Start looking around and figuring out what you can do differently. Can someone mentor you? Can you find books that would be helpful? Can you let your people guide you more? This would be by asking them questions about what they need from you, where their problems are, etc.

      Maybe people here can give you resources online to read.

  54. Violet Rose*

    Ugh, this week… I am seriously at the point of resigning without anything concrete lined up.

    I have enough savings to see me through the end of October with no additional income, so it’s not hugely rash. There are a lot of things I can do as a stop-gap, most of which involve self-employment: I used to sell homemade toys at fan conventions, for example, and have enough leftover materials to dive right back in. There are also at least half a dozen tutoring companies in this city, most of which seem to recruit year-round, and I have a very impressive-sounding degree in a STEM subject.

    For more structured jobs, I run into the issue of a lack of references. I can’t use my current manager as a reference until I officially resign, and the only other references I can think of are former academic supervisors. I wasn’t the best student ever, but I think they’d have at least some good things to say about me – but I’m also a super awkward person and don’t know how to randomly ask someone that I haven’t seen in six months to be a reference for me. Thoughts?

    1. Violet Rose*

      Oh! I volunteer sometimes at a local bike workshop; what’s the viability of/etiquette for using volunteer supervisors as references?

    2. fposte*

      Thoughts: Awkward or not, you need to ask for some references. Ideally you would have asked this before you left school, but this isn’t unheard of. “Hi, Professor X; Violet Rose here. I was in your Toad Motion seminar and you said my final paper showed ‘occasional flashes of brilliance about wart aerodynamics.’ I’m looking for a new job in cosmos destruction and hoped you might be willing to serve as a reference; I’ve attached my current resume for additional information. Please let me know if you’ll be able to do this. Thanks, and I hope all is well at Wassamatta U.” Keep in mind that if it’s summer there it may take quite a while–like, till fall–to get a response

      And yes, you can ask for a reference from a volunteer supervisor. That’s kind of like an academic supervisor in that it’s not going to carry as much weight as somebody who actually supervised your paid work, but if that’s what you’ve got for recent reference, put it in there.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        wart aerodynamics?
        Whatever you put in your coffee, I would like some, please.

      2. Violet Rose*

        Thanks for your thoughts! Fortunately I finished my degree less than a year ago, so I’m thinking it won’t be too out-of-the-blue for them. I also know that, conveniently, most of them work/answer emails throughout the summer because the postgraduate degrees tend to be very year-round (although I could easily see them being tied up by their current supervisees).

        Also, wart aerodynamics! *gigglesnort* I now really want to apply toad motion to cosmos destruction. I guess if you had enough toads…

  55. Denita*

    So guys, who do you go to when you need your resume and cover letters checked? I’m trying to get someone in my social circle (family and/or friends) to go over mine, but past experience has taught me they’ll hash out outdated advice (resumes: the longer the better!) or only spell check. Tempted to go to my college’s career center since they’re on the way when going home, but…well, it’s a college career center.

        1. Denita*

          At the risk of sounding like a child, oooh, is there a specific name for the group on LinkedIn?

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        I actually kind of discourage this because you don’t really know if the person doing it is doing it well. I know that sounds snotty to say — we’re talking about readers here, after all! — but the reality is that I have readers tell me ALL THE TIME that they’ve used all my resume advice but then when I look at their resumes, they appear to have used nearly none of it. So it’s really hard to tell if the person you’re about to get resume advice from, especially if they’re a stranger, is good at it.

        1. KAZ2Y5*

          Alison, when you do your resume reviews would you be OK with doing a medical one? I don’t have the type of job where I would have to have a CV but some of the advice I read for resumes just doesn’t seem to fit. Or maybe I just don’t know how to make it fit because it didn’t used to be necessary for me to get a job! I’m a pharmacist in case you are wondering. Thanks!

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Yes, as long as you don’t mind the fact that I’m obviously not reviewing it with the perspective of someone in your field. For most fields, that’s totally okay; you’d know better than I would whether your field has a highly unusual way of doing things!

    1. HigherEd Admin*

      If the college career center appointments are free, I recommend you go. You may find out it’s one of the good ones (yes, good ones do exist!). If it’s not a good one, well, you’ve only wasted an hour.

      1. Denita*

        Checked their website and they said alumni are also welcome, so yay, that’s a plus. I’ll try it out though and see if I can get an appointment. If it doesn’t work out (getting an appointment or the actual appointment itself), the plus side is visiting the campus again!

        1. Coach Devie*

          At the very least, you already have a wealth of great advice from being here, so you’ll know pretty quickly on if anything at the career center is bad advice and not worth listening to. lol

    2. YandO*

      I found someone through this website to go over my cover letters and resumes. She is wonderful and the fact that I pay her for her time makes me feel a lot more at ease when I ask for help vs the way I used to feel with family/friends.

      Also, Alison’s input on my resume was fantastic. I knew a lot of it before hand, but the fact that she spelled it out for me once more gave me the confidence boost I need it to make the changes.

      1. Denita*

        That’s great you found someone you can trust with your resume to edit/look over. And asking family/friends does make one question if they are giving legitimate advice or not, sadly.

        Also did not know we can ask for help from Alison. Well, will try once I gather my nerves.

        1. YandO*

          Alison posts opportunities to buy a resume review now and then. I think it is totally worth it!

        1. YandO*

          I commented about horrible resume writers and how I got burnt with one last year. We started chatted and she offered to look over my cover letter and then I asked if I could hire her to help me with more. The rest is history as they say :)

    3. Florida*

      Sometimes I avoid getting advice from my family or social circle. Let’s say a spouse/parent/good friend tells you that you need an objective statement on your resume. You know that that was good advice the last time aid person looked for a job, but not something you want to do today, so you opt not to take their advice. Then you apply for a few jobs unsuccessfully, and this close person keeps insisting that the problem is that you are not following their great advice. If there are people like this in your circle, do not not not ask them to look at your resume, even if you think they might give you good advice. It’s not worth it.

      With a career center, if they give you crappy advice, you thank them and leave. They will never pester you about it later. They won’t even know if you followed their advice.

      1. Steve G*

        I got into editing my sister’s (not that I am an expert, but she is very modest/not goal focused, and repeats word so there were basic things to change) when we were all at my parents’ last, and I told her to take out the “ran reports IN EXCEL” or “did X IN POWERPOINT.” I said it is 2015 and most offices use MS Office and doing basic things in them is nothing special, its actually expected. I said if you have more advanced skills to include them in a separate “skills section.” (Now cut me off here if this is bad).

        My dad came in and said no, no, no, it is good to say “did Xyz in (insert MS application). I said that was ok maybe in 2005 at the latest?! They all said I was being a NYC snob. Whatever….I don’t think it is snooty to assume that everyone working in an office in the NY metro area knows basic word, outlook, and excel. I think it makes my sister look naïve on paper

    4. cLA*

      When I needed someone from my circle to review and/or help me write my resume, I ended going to him because others had. I also learned he was the best person for the job because his English is perfect (both spoken and in writing), plus he is one of the few that has great command of the English language so he wasn’t just able to correct my grammar but he could also convey what I wanted to get across better than I ever could. He, understandably is also the most successful person out of all of us.

      Those are the traits I would suggest you look for when you are looking for a non-professional resume writer.

      1. cLA*

        I would like to add, ask to see the other person’s resume as a writing sample before you ask them to proofread for you.

  56. Nervous Accountant*

    Things got better with work this week. But then a few weird things happened….

    For the past few months I’ve posted occasionally about not being liked at work. Things started out wonderful, but slowly they got weird….subtle snubbing to openly hostile, the person who greets everyone but ignores me, the one who called me a bitch etc.

    I kind of got over it for a few weeks but then this week was weird.

    One day I went in the elevator w a group of people. One girl said “there’s too many people in here.”

    Second time, I was walking in and she said “omg every single time!”….her friend/coworker said “she followed me.” (We left at the same time).

    Both times this was said in a very lighthearted joking way….everyone’s friends w each other so she could have been saying it to them….Sounds reasonable and I sound paranoid and crazy.

    But……..my gut tells me otherwise….

    Sigh.

    I’m generally a nice person. I’m not an asshole to anyone, I share my chocolates, I’m not nosy or gossipy, I smile and greet people, I don’t bring smelly food I don’t do or say anything that’s out of the ordinary I apologize a million times for existing. I try to be polite.

    1. GOG11*

      I’m sorry this is still an issue for you. I know that you’ve had some problems with clients/the work itself and having all this inter-coworker stuff doesn’t help. At this point, I’m wondering if this is just a very clique-y work place. In the beginning, because you’re new, they tried to be friendly and welcoming, but once they no longer saw you as the new girl, they stopped going to the effort to make you feel welcome and they never started making an effort to fully integrate you into the group. I hope others will weigh in and give advice. This is a tough situation to be in.

    2. HeyNonnyNonny*

      I’m so sorry you’re still going through all that. It sounds pretty ridiculous. I don’t have any advice, but as long as you’re the sort of person who shares chocolates and doesn’t bring smelly food, you’re a good person and normal people will like you!

    3. IndianSummer*

      I am sorry. I don’t have any advice, but I commiserate.

      I have a particularly un-nice coworker who does not hide her frustration with me. She sometimes says really immature and assholic things like, “It’s been real and it’s been fun, but it hasn’t been real fun,” as she leaves for the day. Who even says that?

      I guess just try to rise above the pettiness and ignore them. It’s really poopy of adults to act this way.

      1. of souls, and to your scattered bodies go*

        One of the few privileges of being a scary-looking old guy is that when someone says something like that, I can look them in the eye and say “you’re an asshole” (or some other colorful phrase).

        Nervous Accountant: have you ever sought treatment for social anxiety? I’m not a doctor, but an Rx of Wellbutrin might do you a world of good.

        (it worked for me)

      2. Not So NewReader*

        Regarding the real fun- I have heard a few people say that. It usually means they hate their jobs. I think that reflects more on her than anything with you.

    4. Malissa*

      Quit apologizing for existing. It’s their problem, not yours. Own who you are and if they don’t like you, it’s on them. That said I know how hard this kind of a situation can be. But if you are unfailingly polite, nice, and generous it will really start looking like it’s them that’s the problem not you.
      What are they going to do complain to the boss that you don’t hang with them? That you are too nice and helpful? too professional?

    5. fposte*

      Agreeing with people upthread that things might just be a little cliquey there; cool independence may be what you want to cultivate. But what’s up with the “apologizing a million times for existing” thing? Do you really apologize a lot? That’s probably something worth toning down, if so; I’m thinking of when you wrote that you get up and get people’s coffee creamer and stuff for them, and frequent apologies are similar in in that they actually can strain relationships rather than smoothing them.

      I’m glad things got better overall, though.

      1. Nervous Accountant*

        Yeah i stopped doing that way back then. I mean I literally don’t apologize for my existence but it’s like “oh sorrh I was in ur way, sorry let me move out of your way, sorry for bothering u” always w a smile and lightheartedly. I also say thank you a lot is that overkill? Some days j do feel like apologizing for my existence, here and at home.

        1. fposte*

          I’m sorry, NA; that sounds pretty uncomfortable. You never, ever need to apologize for your existence, not to anybody.

          And apologies are kind of an interesting topic, because it’s hard to state a clear rule. Have a look at other people in the office, especially people who are handling things in a way you admire. How often do they apologize, what is it for, and what does it sound like when they do it? If you’re in line with them, then you’re fine, and forget about it. But if you’re apologizing more, or longer, or more fervently, think about dialing it back. It’s a little piece of that whole “we teach people how to treat us” thing–if we present as people who aren’t worthy, it increases the chance that we’ll be treated as if we aren’t worthy.

          You also don’t want to go too far to the other side and never apologize for anything, of course. But, for instance, a few years ago a big project got kicked back to me and almost failed entirely because it was missing a key part. That’s something that should have been caught at two different levels, including by an excellent colleague of mine, and it took a lot of work for me to fix in time. My colleague apologized in email when I notified him and then in person the next time I saw him, both simple, straightforward “I’m really sorry” apologies without further abasement, and then we got on with the work. We both understood that we’re good at our jobs but not perfect, and this is just one of those things rather than an indication that anybody’s a bad person. If he’d apologized over and over again it would have been less professional, would have taken an inappropriate amount of time, and shifted the conversation to be about appeasing him rather than moving forward. If he hadn’t apologized at all, I’d have been really annoyed at the seeming lack of respect for how much work this was going to mean for me. So there’s kind of a sweet spot to aim for.

          1. afiendishthingy*

            Agreed, as always fposte says it really well. I’m sorry you’re still going through this and I hope it gets better soon. I do think you have the power to change your situation a bit, but it will be hard work and won’t happen overnight.

            It’s not quite the same situation but it reminds me a bit of the post the other day about the coworker who trash talks herself constantly. Apologize when you make mistakes, then move on. Say “excuse me”and move if you’re in someone’s way. Honestly they’re probably in your way too, and you have the same right to occupy space as they do. You sound like you’re making it clear that you think everyone sees your presence as an annoyance and inconvenience, and that at least part of you thinks they’d be right to think that. So by projecting that it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, and/or people feel like they need to be constantly reassuring you that it’s ok for you to exist. So other people feel uncomfortable, you feel more uncomfortable and even less confident in yourself. Vicious cycle :(

            Have your benefits kicked in yet? I have to, again, strongly recommend cognitive behavior therapy. It’s going to take work to change the thought habits that I’m sure you’ve had for years. There are also some CBT workbooks out there you could get if you can’t get a therapist right now, although obviously better if you have someone to help out. Good luck!

            1. afiendishthingy*

              and also. Even if they still don’t like you that doesn’t mean you’re fundamentally unlikeable or anything like that. Didn’t mean to put everything on you. I’ve got a lot of issues with anxiety too, and it’s really hard to accept sometimes that I am fundamentally just as smart/competent/good-hearted/funny/whatever the day my coworker makes me feel dumb as I am the day my boss compliments my work or my niece draws a picture of me. It’s awesome getting positive feedback from other people, but you can’t depend on it for your sense of self-worth.

        2. Anonsie*

          I think you are probably a polite person working with a lot of snippy people and they’ve interpreted you being polite to mean they can say and do whatever and you won’t ever call them out.

    6. Bend & Snap*

      That sounds pretty pointed and very Mean Girls.

      Next time it happens can you just ask if there’s a problem, or call them on it in some way? Maybe it’s time to start pointing out that you do notice this stuff and it’s not acceptable.

      1. Malissa*

        Smile and very nicely, with a hint of confusion say, “What do you mean by that?”

      2. Sadsack*

        Yeah, like the second elevator scenario, I’d ask with a smiling/quizzical look, “Are you talking about me?!” Maybe they will be direct and maybe they won’t, but calling them on it may shut them down.

      3. Windchime*

        It’s very Mean Girls. I might be tempted to say something like, “You know I can hear you, right?” It probably wouldn’t help your cause in the long run, but jeez–they are being pretty mean.

    7. Elizabeth West*

      Do not apologize for existing. Do not defer to these people. I mean, if you step on someone’s foot, it’s fine to say, “Oh, excuse me.” But do not act like you have no right to be there, because you do.

      Your coworkers suck. Who does this sh!t past middle school? I wish I had some advice, but I’ve never been able to crack a clique because most of the time I do. Not. Care. To.

    8. The IT Manager*

      I’m sorry. I experienced this once and the only consolation was that it was a 6 month training class so it ended, but it was a long, painful 6 month. This kind of childish behavior is childish. Remember that, but I know that’s little consolation.

    9. Just me*

      I am really annoyed with my new boss. But I have been polite and professional. I disagree in a normal fashion.

      If your coworkers aren’t your biggest fan, that’s fine. They should not, however, be jerks. That’s there problem, not yours.

  57. YandO*

    I just had a phone interview yesterday. Went really well and next interview is scheduled for Monday.
    Their process consists of: 3 phone interviews, PP presentation, research project, they fly me out for final interview ( I assume offer).

    Here is my problem. During the phone screen the recruiter asked for my salary/range and gave theirs. My number was 65K, where I am perfectly fine with 60K. My salary history + moving to a *very* expensive city supports this number plenty and then some.

    Their number is base 50K + 10K in bonuses (paid out quarterly). I said I would need to look at the overall package, but I can work with that. The benefits she mentioned were good, not as good as I had at my OldJob, but comparing to no benefits at my CurrentJob, they look good.

    The truth is, I cannot live on 50K and I don’t feel comfortable counting on bonuses to live off. As vacation money, extra savings money, fun money….sure. But I need to live off of my base salary and I cannot do that with 50K in that city.

    However, this job seems like a great opportunity for growth/promotion/stepping stone. From what I read on glassdoor, I should not count on my limited power of negotiation.

    I guess I need get through the extensive interview process and dazzle them? Should I suck it up and go into debt in hopes of bonuses and future potential?

    I know my worries are way pre-mature, but I just….I don’t understand how they can expect to pay that kind of salary in that city.

    This is more of a vent than anything.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        I know, but for example my annual bonus has been 3-4% of my salary every year for the almost 2 decades I’ve worked here. I would say YandO could risk it at my company. :)

        1. YandO*

          If I get through to the offer stage, I have 101 questions ot ask about their bonuses.

          I am currently in a position with goal-based bonuses where goals are out of a Tolkien novel. I will not let employer lie to me like that again.

    1. The Cosmic Avenger*

      At some point, maybe when you’re there in person, can you ask someone who would be a peer or teammate whether the bonuses are consistent, or if people sometimes fall short? Are these like commission-based? If they’re an annual bonus, then ask someone who has been there a while how many years/quarters they’ve gotten a bonus.

      I know none of that is a guarantee, but it’s probably the best you can do, short of a contract, and if they were willing to do that they’d probably just give you a higher base salary.

    2. Steve G*

      Not sure what city it is, but 50K is pretty low in most big cities. I went straight from 51K to 65K in salary, and it was over a $800 month difference, which made the difference between having a roommate in a hood/not great area to moving to an OK area in NYC close to Manhattan and having my own nice studio apt (+ having $ to save). When I made 51K, every extra expense was a crisis. And in big cities, you can easily blow a hundred dollars every time you go out……

      I’d insist on a higher salary

      1. YandO*

        San Francisco.

        I am willing to make sacrifices for the right job, but I don’t know how I can live for 50K in that city. I just don’t.

        I will go through the interview process and then try to negotiate. Also, I will need to see their benefits (cost of insurance, vacation time, other perks?)

        1. Stephanie*

          What? I hear Stockton is a reasonable commute. :)

          (But yeah…that would be tough to live on there. I know people do it, but that’s low.)

          1. YandO*

            Right? I mean I am not unreasonable here?

            I just don’t understand what the employers are thinking here. How do they expect their employees to live/work?

            It’s not like I am a recent grad either. They asked for experience, I bring that experience plus some.

            1. Stephanie*

              They probably bank on people being desperate. And I’m sure they’ll get someone in that role who just wants a job (or maybe has a supportive spouse or something), but I’m having trouble imagining anyone staying in that role long-term.

          2. zora*

            As someone who “lived” here on 35K for 4+ years….. No. No you cannot live here for 50K. I don’t get what people are thinking. You are not being unreasonable.

        2. BAS*

          If it’s an exempt position, $51k is the MINIMUM you can legally be paid in SF starting July 1. Just throwing that out there.

          1. YandO*

            REALLY???????????????????

            That is great information that I did not have before. Thank you!

            1. zora*

              whoa, wait, can someone else corroborate this? The last I heard it was $41, and it was by NEXT July 1: 2016. This is way higher than I remember.

                1. YandO*

                  I just researched this

                  According to CalChamber:

                  “Exempt employees in California generally must earn a minimum monthly salary of no less than two times the state minimum wage for full-time employment. Paying an employee a salary does not make them exempt, nor does it change any requirements for compliance with wage and hour laws.”

                  Here is the thing, CA minimum wage starting July 1st is $9, but San Francisco is 12.25.

                  So, if we take SF minimum wage and double that we have $24.5. If we assume 40 hour 52 weeks a year, that comes out to $50,960.

                  However, the law seems unclear, because it says “generally” and “state minimum wage”

                2. zora*

                  This was the last explanation I saw. But I am willing to accept that new info is out since last year that I don’t know about. Posting link below this.

                  1. Review base salary for all exempt employees.
                  In order to qualify as an exempt employee, which is an employee who is not entitled to receive overtime for work performed over eight hours in one day or 40 hours in one week, the employee must be paid an equivalent of two times minimum wage. Before the minimum wage increase in July 2014, this amount is $33,280 annual salary. When the minimum wage increases to $9 per hour, this amount will increase to $37,440 annual salary, and when the minimum wage increases to $10 per hour, an exempt employee will need to be paid $41,600 annually.

        3. TinyPjM*

          Hello! Permanent Bay Arean here.

          The odds of you living well in SF on 50k are fairly impossible and I would strongly recommend against it.! That said, I was making about that and found a nice place in Oakland that was affordable, in a decent area (Oakland is not that bad) and had money to save. I’d strongly recommend checking out the East Bay for places to live. There are plenty of commuting options that are not BART as well. Good luck!

          1. YandO*

            Yeah, I am recommending myself against it.

            I think I can do 60K for the right job, but not less than that. I had an offer for 55K (almost non-existent benefits) and I turned them down, cause cray-cray people. It was in Palo Alto and I would need a car. Not happening.

          2. zora*

            I feel like such a downer on this thread! :-\ but when did you find your place in Oakland? Bc the prices here have skyrocketed in a very short time. Especially anything near BART. So even Oakland is not as affordable as it was a year ago, and it would still be very hard to live here on 50K.

          3. Anonyby*

            South Bay is just as bad price-wise, but with even fewer car-less commute options. Some quick research I did showed that even for the cheapest studio apartments I could find, I’d need well over double my current hourly at FT to be able to afford to rent them solo. :( I personally think 60k is not really workable down here. (Though my estimates could be off! I’m not used to figuring such things out.)

        4. Steve G*

          Woh $50K just aint gonna work, doesn’t matter if you make sacrifices. You’ll need to push back. I remember when I made $50Kish my take home was about $1450 every 2 weeks. Yeah, twice a year you get a 3rd paycheck in a month, but most month was $2900 cash for all expenses.

  58. Xanthippe Lannister Voorhees*

    I was in the midst of writing out a question about health plans, which is work related because it is issued through my work and the time to make any changes is right around the corner, but after writing it all out I’m wondering if perhaps it wouldn’t be a better question for the general open thread?

    1. Xanthippe Lannister Voorhees*

      Going off Alston’s OK (delete if necessary). I am wondering, as someone who does not see the doctor very often (haven’t gone in about three years). If it is worth keeping my high-deductible health plan. I’m realizing that I really do need to get a primary care physician and see someone about some issues that I’ve been having, but I’ll pay out of pocket for just about everything (I do have an HSA my employer added some money to when my health plan first started). While I know it’s ultimately my decision I’m interested in hearing people’s experiences with high-deductible plans, especially as a single person, while I decide if I want to change to something with a smaller deductible that takes more out of my paycheck upfront.

      1. GOG11*

        I am young, single, in meh health (have a handful of chronic conditions, a few of which require expensive medications, specialist’s visits, etc.) and I have a high deductible plan. Once I hit my deductible, the coverage is much better for the high deductible plan than for the other plan and the premium is much lower. My employer also provides a bit via HSA to offset the cost. I have enough stuff to actually hit the deductible pretty early (I hit it this year in April) and I’ve gotten to enjoy stellar coverage and lower costs since then. I do have secondary insurance through my parents, so that has helped with reimbursements, but I’ve paid everything up front and I never really know how much or if something will get reimbursed.

      2. fposte*

        A lot of the people I know with high-deductible plans have kids. There are also people who really like having the HSA as an investment vehicle if they’ve already maxed out the 401k. Your situation doesn’t sound like that, so I’d definitely consider looking at lower-cost plans.

      3. MaryMary*

        It really depends on a couple things:

        1. How liquid your finances are. If you have room in your budget to contribute your HSA then it may still be better to pay less in premium. HSA contributions are pre-tax, so you save a little money that way. It’s also yours to keep if you don’t use the full amount this year.

        2. How much your employer contributes to your HSA. I have a high deductible plan, but my employer contributes $1500 to an HRA. In a year where I see my PCP once or twice, maybe see a specialist, and go to urgent care when I have strep on a Sunday morning, I’m still within the $1500. And under Obamacare, preventive care like an annual physical and preventative screenings are covered at 100%, so that’s nothing out of your pocket.

        3. How much time do you have to research lower cost medical procedures? (I’m not talking about takin vitamins instead of meds). Let’s say your knee is messed up and your doctor recommends an MRI. There can be a difference of hundreds or even thousand of dollars depending on where you get the MRI. Some insurance companies have tools to help you find more cost effective procedures, and some doctors will help you too.

        The other thing to keep in mind is that you’ll need to wait until your employer’s open enrollment period to change plans. You can’t just go to HR or your benefits person and switch plans.

        Good luck!

        1. Alston*

          To be clear, you’re thinking of getting rid of your health insurance? DON’T DO IT. Sure you’ve got a high deductable and don’t think you really get a benefit from the insurance, but let’s look at it another way. If you have a car you’d pay your insurance every month, not because it paid for your oil changes and tire rotations right? You’d pay for it in case you got in an accident, or someone stole your car or something. Same thing, keep it in case you get a chronic health problem or have an accident.

          I am young and fairly healthy person, had no chronic conditions. A year and a half ago I fell off a pogo stick and broke both wrists, in 8 places. Not something I’d seen coming from a mile away.

          My out of pocket cost for an ambulance ride, 4 days in the hospital, surgery, and months of rehab was around 3 grand. Without the insurance it would have paid almost 100k. That would literally have bankrupt me.

          You never know what will happen, but please don’t get rid of your health insurance. The risk isn’t worth it. And even if you don’t have an ill fated fall off a pogo stick you could still develop a chronic condition that needs a bunch of appointments–and you wouldn’t be able to get back on your insurance until your open enrollment.

          Other thing, your insurance company also helps negotiate down the cost of your doctors visits, so without insurance you could end up paying $400 for an appointment that would only have cost you $100 if you’d had insurance. The insurance companies have the power to negotiate that you as a solo person won’t.

          In summation, don’t do it!

          1. Alston*

            And obviously I stopped reading part way through your question. Apologies. I’ve been on both types of plans, I prefer a lower deductable plan that takes more out up front because I’m better able to plan around financially.

      4. asteramella*

        I assume you’re in the U.S. Look into the preventive care benefits that are offered without cost-sharing under the Affordable Care Act. Many people with HDHPs don’t realize how many services they can get for free. Acquire a copy of your Summary Plan Description and read it carefully. If your employer offers more than one plan, ask to see the SPD for the other plans. You can also sometimes purchase a limited indemnity plan that isn’t full insurance but will provide some first-dollar coverage to offset your costs under your deductible. Also know that for a HDHP, you are guaranteed by law to only pay out a certain amount out of pocket over the year. This year the limit is $6,600. This means that you will only pay $6,600 in copays and coinsurance, after which your plan must pay 100% through the remainder of the plan year.

  59. Hope*

    Over the past five years, I’ve segued from being inside a corporation to being outside in sales. My work team is predominantly male and mid-30’s to mid-40’s. Is it typical for these work teams to party half the night when they meet? Our company is private equity owned and there is a lot of pressure to increase sales while having cut a lot of internal “tribal knowledge” people over time, so maybe that’s how they blow off steam, but I can’t keep up and often go to my room early (10’ish) after a long day of meetings with this same group. I need some privacy to recover for the next day of 7:30 to 5 meetings or walking trade shows, etc. Anyone else have this experience? Will it hurt me to not engage until 2AM so I can join conversations the next day about how funny it was when two of them got into a hot conversation that almost came to blows over internal resources, etc. I am not willing to stay up super late and drink heavily, so I’m really just curious and wondering if anyone else has had this experience.

  60. Seattle Writer Gal*

    What do you do when you feel set up to fail at work?

    I started a new job about 8 months ago and while I loved it at first, it took about 2 months for me to start getting the sense I wasn’t being allowed to succeed. It seems like no matter what I do, I always get reprimanded for doing it “the wrong way” or not providing “what was expected” when no expectations were set and no instructions were given beyond: “can you draft me a teapot design contract?” No client details, no parameters, no budget, nothing. Not to mention I was hired to be a Teapot Designer not a Teapot Salesman, but I’m being asked to do things like write sales proposals, draft contracts and compile budget spreads.

    My clients all love me (they’ve said so and my boss has said so), so I know I’m doing a good job on that front. I just can’t seem to get a handle on the internal politics and it’s really sapping my positive attitude.

    There are only 2 people in the company of 100+ who do what I do: me and my boss. My boss, however, frequently travels for business (we’re talking 3 out of 4 weeks a month sometimes) and is just not available to help me out or run interference for me on a regular basis. He’s also young and I’m his first direct report in his career, so I can’t really look to him for much mentorship or career development.

    Any suggestions on how to improve my situation?

    All I want is to be treated as an equal member of the team rather than a scapegoat for everything that goes wrong with a project while being told I don’t know what I’m doing (even though I am 1 of only 2 people at the company who can do what I do!).

    1. Kelly White*

      Would it help to ask for details up-front?
      If you are asked “can you draft me a teapot design contract?”, say yes, and then come up with a list of info you need- client, budget, parameters. Maybe that would help.
      Or, is there a person you could go to and be honest about how you feel and get feedback about how you “should” be doing things?
      You have my sympathies- I’ve been at a job where I just didn’t fit in, and even though my work was fine, it was just such a struggle everyday, because I really couldn’t figure out what I was doing differently/wrong.

      1. Clever Name*

        This is what I was going to say. Some people are crappy delegators and don’t realize you can’t read their mind and need certain information in order to get them what they want. It’s okay to ask for information that you need to do a task. Or you can say something along the lines of, “Sure! Where can I find client and project info?” Sometimes info is in a place nobody has thought to tell you about, or its in their brain or on their pc, none of which are particularly helpful to you.

    2. it happens*

      I empathize with you. Given what you’ve described, it sounds like you’re dealing with ignorance more than malice. If only you and your boss know how to do your jobs, when others come in to your area to ask for help they lack any experience with what they want. All they have is a vague idea of something that doesn’t look like what you’re providing. Which sounds terribly frustrating all around.
      Can you talk to your boss about this? Since he is a new manager you would probably have to frame it very clearly with him – internal staff ask me for ill-defined deliverables that are tangentially related to our work and do not seem satisfied with the results. How can we work together to raise our internal satisfaction scores to match our external scores? It may be that each time you are asked for something internally that you have to become a bit of an educator – ask them for context while providing your own to create a clear expectation on both sides. Your manager would have to be on-board with the value to your area because it could affect your productivity. It’s a lot more work, but if you want to stay with the company long-term is probably worth it. You could become the expert translator between external and internal!

    3. catsAreCool*

      It may help to start documenting what you’ve been told to do and what you’ve been told was done incorrectly.

  61. AmyNYC*

    I recently started working under “Paula”, who is notoriously hard to work for: she keeps long hours and expects the same of her team, she micromanages (we have two to three “check in” meeting per day), is a perfectionist and can be condescending when explaining things. In the past year or so there’s been A LOT of turnover in the office, particularly for people who work with Paula – 4 of her longtime staff have left, the unofficial reason being burn out.
    I’m starting to get burnt out myself and for that (and other reasons), I’m hoping to move on in the next year. I was making small talk in the elevator with one of the firm’s partners who pointedly asked how working for Paula was and to tell someone if it’s too much, saying that the partners don’t like having this much turnover and they want people to stay with the company.
    I have an annual review in the next few weeks and I’m sure Paula will come up. She’s been her longer than I have (and longer than I hope to be) and she gets good work out of people, and our clients like her… she’s a nice person just really really hard to work for. I don’t think telling my boss any of my issues with her a) are things he doesn’t already know or b) will change the way she manages the team. Two questions – How honest should I be? And any tips for working with the Paulas of the world?

    1. Hope*

      I worked for “Paula” at one point in my career. If her boss is happy with her output and clients like her, it can be tough to change the situation. But the fact that a partner made that comment would encourage me to say something. That said, I would keep my comments very specific to how it affects company output, client responses, etc. When I left that job, I did a pretty direct, but polite, exit interview and was thanked by HR for the info. They said they hoped to use it to improve the situation for the next person. Alas, Paula was even harder on the next person, so it clearly didn’t work. It really depends on how willing the partners are to see the truth and address it.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      “Boss, I think you already know the reasons why people are leaving. Nothing has changed. It’s safe to assume that people will continue to leave. I am not sure how my inputs could add any additional information.”

      1. Windchime*

        This. The partner specifically asked about Paula, so it seems he already knows. If he wants more detail, you could give it if you felt comfortable. But if four of Paula’s employees have quit in the past year, then Paula is obviously the common factor.

  62. Going Undercover*

    Work/life dilemma.

    I am shortly to return after maternity leave to a job I haven’t held for very long. Let’s say I’ve been on maternity leave for nine months and was previously in my job for six. I enjoy my work, have great coworkers and a great boss I get on with well. The cons are that the commute is punishing (90mins by car) and a significant amount of travel is required. I will be returning on a reduced-hours schedule. I also performed very well in my first six months with the company and made a significant impact.

    I have been approached about another job, at an exciting company. Slightly smaller than mine, but the role would be a step up in responsibility and title. It is located much closer and I could take public transport (significant plus), and it is unlikely that travel would be required. However, it is a one-year contract (significant minus). I could do the same reduced-hours schedule as well. I was really, really not looking, but the opportunity was such that I didn’t feel I could pass up exploring it.

    I have already decided that I am only prepared to jump for the right culture fit and a significant pay bump. But at this stage in my life, the travel and commute factors are significant. I know Alison says you get one short tenure ‘freebie’, but this isn’t a case of lack of fit, but of a great opportunity (potentially) falling into my lap. I’ve never burned a bridge in my life and have always left jobs on good terms.

    Am I an ungrateful wretch for even considering this? Or would I be a fool to pass this up for a misplaced sense of loyalty? What would you think if you saw this on my resume?

    1. Bend & Snap*

      I don’t think it’s ungrateful, but I do think it could potentially look bad.

      On the flip side, my long commute went from annoying to completely intolerable post baby. I moved near my office.

      1. Going Undercover*

        Thanks.

        Moving closer to the office is an option, but a difficult one which will significantly lengthen my OH’s commute.

    2. Lia*

      I’d encourage you to have childcare near the office, rather than home, if that is a all possible. Makes it a lot easier when baby needs to be picked up for illness, etc.

  63. Not Bruce*

    FINALLY maybe hiring someone for a position that has been an adventure an a half to fill. I have never been more stressed out than trying to hire someone for this position. I cannot wait for this to be over.

    In other news, I get an intern next week! Things are moving forward.

  64. Elizabeth*

    Question about broaching an internal position opening with a current (but difficult) boss…

    Backstory: I’ve been in my position for about 10 months, and there’s currently a position open in another department. Recently, a manager in that department approached me quietly and encouraged me to apply, saying I’d be good for it. The position itself is really interesting, I’m qualified, it would be a step up, and in short, I’d be interested. The problem is my current boss. He’s not a bad guy, but he tends to be brash and reactionary, and in short, while I like him just fine, I’m not sure he’d take it well if I told him I were interested. On the other hand, as Alison (and my conscience) says, I feel like I would need to tell him were I to apply. I really like this company, and I’d like to move up here, but I don’t want to anger my current manager in the process. Plus, were I not to get it, I don’t want to make things awkward between us if he suspects I’m trying to fly the coop (which I sort of am–not because of said boss or any personality issues, but just because this job isn’t as challenging as I’d hoped when I took it).

    Any thoughts?

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Can the manager who approached you give you advice?
      If there is an HR can they help?

      Can you take a preemptive strike when you break the news. “Boss, I am looking for challenges in my work. I have applied for the opening in Dave’s department. I feel I am a good fit for the position and the job will come with the challenges I need to grow myself.” With the preemptive strike you take whatever you think is going to be his beef and squelch it right away.

      Go to worst case scenario. What is the worst thing he could say or what is the worst thing that can happen?

  65. Steve G*

    Ugh, I hate recruiting agencies wasting my time with fake jobs. Last week I applied for an Energy Analyst job, in which I have 5 years experience. The recruiter emailed and said they have potential jobs for me. Um, what about the one I am woefully qualified for? Anyways, they ask when I am free to interview. Emails are exchanged. They give me a time of 1:15. Who starts an interview 15 minutes after the hour?

    I check the reviews and there are 18 reviews between Yelp and Glassdoor, all 1 out of 5, all angry people who thought they were going to real interviews. All say they were “interviewed” for 5 minutes, told to wait while the recruiter did something (went to set up an actual interview, call around, etc.) and nothing ever happened, and they’d say “we will be in touch.”

    Now, I’ve been to interviews like that with recruiters, but those recruiters also really placed people as well. Trandon Associates (yes I’m talking to you!) though seems to be just some type of resume mill

  66. SnowWhite*

    Hi All

    I have a problem. I work in HR and have been dragged into the middle of an issue I am now struggling to get out of.

    A member of staff came to me and claimed that her manager openly admitted he was deliberately stopping her progression in the company due to personal opinions and issues not relating to work. Long story short, after investigation this was not the case and discounted when arranging objectives in relation to a promotion in the company.

    When the work task was part completed the employee came to me and requested her salary and position in the company, it was explained that until the task was completed we could not review her position but will book in a meeting once completed in one to two weeks time. The employee was not happy, I suggested she speak to her line manager and directed her to our grievance procedures. When in a meeting the same day with her line manger, she said that I said that we would have no staff reviews ever again. It was later agreed that we would review her position in one to two weeks following completion of the task.

    IMO it was done, over, there had been a misunderstanding and we moved forward and found a brief resolution. Win, half win.

    The next day I was called into a meeting room by the employee and she addressed the personal tension between us and she was concerned this would cloud my personal judgement. There wasn’t any and we had had a long conversation not about work that morning. I explained that there was no personal issue on my behalf and I understood that there had been a misunderstanding and that she felt frustrated about the situation at hand. She seemed angry, got up and left me in the meeting room.

    Today, we came into work at the same time and rode the lift together. She faced her entire body away from me, would not make eye contact and made clear she was not speaking to me.

    I do not know how to proceed. Until then I thought there was no personal issue and I need this sorted should I need to handle a grievance being raised.

    What do I do? I have not had this since I was in secondary school/high school and am slightly taken aback.
    My role is to be the impartial third party, and have open lines of communication should the usual ‘refer to line manager’ route is not applicable, available or appropriate.

    How do I fix this without making it worse? I am wary of further one-on-ones with this employee due to being misquoted (her manager for constructive dismissal, me for breach of contract/constructive dismissal) and do not want to appear to Senior Management as though I am being dragged into personal spats. I am early twenties and female and aiming for a promotion to HR Manager in a standalone position.

    1. some1*

      I wouldn’t meet with her alone anymore. That’s a really immature reaction on her part.

    2. J.B.*

      No further one on ones with her. Are you the only HR staffer there? If not I would ask for some advice from your supervisor/colleagues. Make sure all communications are written.

      1. SnowWhite*

        Definitely am moving forward. It sucks because I took a long time here working on having HR being approachable which I am going to have to stop.

        I am the only HR staff there.

        1. Coach Devie*

          You can still maintain that HR is approachable. But perhaps just implement certain procedures (such as always having written communication with issues like this, for all employees) to protect yourself from people like her. It’s not your fault that she hears what she wants to hear and then reacts like a 6th grader.

    3. Bend & Snap*

      I’d escalate since she hasn’t just done it to you–you want it on the record somewhere that she’s prone to this type of behavior. And don’t meet with her alone anymore.

      Also if you haven’t, I’d email her the agreed action plan.

      1. SnowWhite*

        Thanks – all conversations have an email which follow along the lines of ‘as discussed’ and notes if necessary

        I love your username btw…

    4. Not So NewReader*

      “When the work task was part completed the employee came to me and requested her salary and position in the company, it was explained that until the task was completed we could not review her position but will book in a meeting once completed in one to two weeks time. ”

      Maybe it is the hour but I am not getting this. Did she ask you for a review? And you replied that you could not do that until this first thing with the investigation was complete?

      It could be that she wanted that review as part of the investigation because she was trying to show you something. When you said you would do it later, you troppled all over that idea. (Actually, you sent a much harsher message than that.)

      Annnddd… while it is maybe true that she is not eligible for promotion, why, oh why, is the boss turning it into a personal matter instead?? Why not just tell her the truth instead of saying he was going to make sure she never got promoted?
      What this looks like to me is that she is claiming the boss said he would see to it she never got promoted and this whole thing turned into a list of reasons why she is not currently promotable.
      There is a difference between asking about what it takes to get a promotion and asking for help with a boss that will not allow you to get promoted. I have seen this one a hundred times, yes, bosses do tell their employees, “I will see to it that you never get a promotion here.” It happens frequently.

      I could be off-base here. But I think the reason she is angry is because she was not asking you to promote her or tell her how to get promoted. She was asking for help with a possibly toxic boss. Possibly there could have been something in her review that would have supported her concerns. Lacking that review she has no basis for further conversation.

      Take a second person with you if you want, set up a meeting, ask her about it. Ask her why she wanted a review. Ask her why she is so ticked off. Stop talking. Seriously, if you want to bring this to a real resolve, just listen. If she is way out in left field that will become apparent quickly. But if she has a legit complaint, you will be glad that you slowed down and listened.

      1. SnowWhite*

        Hi

        Must be the hour, no worries.
        The boss never made it a personal issue – she said that he had said it, when it was investigated and went to ceo it was clear he didn’t.

        She was set a task with elevated responsibilities which needed to be completed so we could review her capabilities against the level she was asking to be promoted to. She wanted the review before the tasks were complete. When this was explained, she told senior managers that I had said there would be no reviews for staff ever again, which wasn’t said.

        The next day she confronted me about how she felt we had a personal issue which would cloud my professional judgement. We had had a long conversation that morning and everything seemed fine.
        When I explained that I had no issue and understood why she was frustrated she got up and left. The next day she refused to even look at me.

        She is pushing for another promotion which is now separate to the investigation months ago, she was completely supported during this time. This will be her third promotion in a year with significant salary increases.

        The investigation was months ago and is now a mutually agreed dead issue and she was completely supported during that time and given access to all tools she would need should she have chosen to pursue the matter formally.
        She has now shifted the Problem with her boss to me and is quoting me as saying things that were never said.

        If we had broken the agreement and the task had been completed then I would completely understand where she is coming from. But, the task isn’t complete and we cannot review her salary and promotion again until it is which it will be in a few weeks.

        This is where our problem is – she is saying that people are saying very serious things which they haven’t said. In the last 6 months I have spent probably 7 hours listening to her concerns, setting up meetings and finding if she has a legitimate claim.
        The agreement for her third promotion request was that she complete a work task which hasn’t yet been completed and due to the thing with her boss (even though it had been investigated and found to be at best a misunderstanding) I escalated her request to director level.
        We will not be able to review her position within the company until the work task is complete – that is all that was said, and we set a date for the review. What she took from that was that there would be no reviews for any member of staff ever again, that we were breaking our agreement and that I had a personal problem with her.

        I don’t think I was harsh in explaining that we will need to stick to our agreement, arranging a meeting that afternoon with her manager (who she had said after the investigations she would not like to transfer teams and he was a good manager) to discuss further concerns she had and that there was no personal issue and I understood her frustrations.

  67. Amber Rose*

    Everyone who is going on the company camping trip is leaving at noon if they haven’t left already. The rest of us (like three people) have to stay until close. Feels like I’m being punished for not wanting to spend my wedding anniversary (today) in the woods being sweaty and irritable (I loathe the outdoors and the pollen this year is insane).

    Just wanted to whine about it a little.

    In other news I went to the Global Petroleum Show yesterday and had no idea what to do with myself. My boss was like, go look at new products and socialize. There were lots of shiny things, not that I knew what they did. And lots of booth babes, which was just depressing. It’s super skeevy to me to hire or assign your booth person by how they look in a mini skirt and lace. There is still a difference between club wear and business wear right?!

    1. some1*

      I’d be annoyed, too, but that’s been the SOP at every job I have ever had: if you opt out of the company event outside the office during work hours, you are expected to stay and work.

        1. Colette*

          Why?

          You could have gone, but you chose not to – the people going aren’t getting away with something, and you’re not missing a benefit.

          1. Amber Rose*

            As below: if I’d wanted to go as well as the other people who opted out, wouldn’t the office be closed anyway? Also they’re not working or even doing anything work related, and they’re getting paid, so why do I have to work? If they weren’t getting paid that would be different.

            Also I could have gone, but that would be a shitty way to celebrate my anniversary.

            1. Coach Devie*

              Get away with doing the bare minimum today? haha.

              Happy Anniversary btw! Hope you and your partner have a lovely relaxing and happy weekend!!

            2. Ask a Manager* Post author

              It’s work-related. They may not be doing actual work, but the point of the trip is to benefit your organization (by bonding or whatever else is going on). It’s good that they didn’t push you to go! I’d focus on that part of it :)

        2. Coach Devie*

          I think I would be irritated too, especially if the three of us who opted out went, then would offices be closed for the day?

    2. Elizabeth West*

      Think of it this way–with them all out of the office, it will be blissfully quiet. (I hope it will!)

      As for the show, free noms? I would just partake of free noms, hang out, make a few notes, and then bail.

  68. Cruciatus*

    I’m about to interview for an assistant for student records position at a small university. Does anyone have any details about what the day to day might be like? The good, the bad, and the ugly? Any good questions I should make sure to ask at the interview related to the position? The job post only gave vague information.

    1. Amber Rose*

      I think that’s a better interview question actually. “What does a typical day look like for the person in this position?”

      1. Cruciatus*

        I will of course ask there as well. I’m just trying to see what all might be involved in the position and if that’s of interest to me in the first place. I mean, am I locked in a room all day entering in new student info? Do I interact with people? They may not be as forthcoming about that sort of thing.

    2. TotesMaGoats*

      Probably a lot of data entry. You’ll want to ask about the document management system/scanning system they use. How automated are processes in the office? Is it paperless?

    3. Helen of What*

      If I’m concerned that a position might be isolating, I ask “How much interaction is there with other depts/teams? Who would the person in this role work with most?”

  69. manomanon*

    I had my introductory review at my newish job yesterday and it was fantastic. I finally feel like I’m making progress putting my old job out of my day to day life which is wonderful since that place was so horrid.
    I just had to share someplace since I’m still over the moon!

  70. some1*

    The post about the inappropriate boss talking to his GF got me thinking: what are your stories about coworkers who got away with murder without consequences?

    I worked with an attorney at my first job who rarely went to court, so she didn’t have to wear suits, but she would wear skirts that were short enough to be cheerleader skirts. (And she was in her 40’s, so she can’t say she didn’t know appropriate office wear). She would also take 2 hour lunches every day.

    1. Amber Rose*

      Oh, the field guy at my last job. He was rude and snapped at customers. He destroyed lawns without fixing them after. He refused to answer questions and wrote long, passive aggressive rants on sticky notes and left them on the boss’s desk. He broke more equipment in a month than the other guys did in a year, and then he’d buy the most expensive replacement and charge the company without approval. And one time he got us tangled in his legal mess where he stole a tank of gas. If we gave him work he didn’t want to do, he just wouldn’t do it.

      My boss was too wussy to fire him (instead waged a passive war where he made the field guy’s life miserable and consequently upped the office tension to crushing levels) so we suffered for a year before he quit.

    2. Xanthippe Lannister Voorhees*

      I worked in a bakery/cafe inside a grocery store. We hired a new barista after I had been there about six months who was somehow the golden child of the entire store. He was rude and condescending to the rest of us in the bakery, did an incredibly half-assed job, would hold up long lines so he could monologue for the customers, wouldn’t charge customers for certain things, the till was usually short after he had been working, he did everything the opposite of how he was shown just to be contrary, and he would make customers “special” drinks that we couldn’t duplicate if they ordered while he wasn’t working because no one knew what was in them! But he did latte art, and he roasted his own beans, and he once had a coffee shop! So apparently none of that mattered.

    3. YandO*

      My co-worker, EA, did not submit 20K+ worth of work -related expenses for reimbursement for her executive. We figured it out when she left.

      At OldCompany they reimbursed $12 for lunch if you work through it. My entire office did or pretended that they. One analyst woudl go to Potbelly, buy $8 worth of stuff and then right in $4 tip on every lunch receipt. This wen ton for months before I took over his expenses and put a stop to it.

      Now that I think about it, there are tons of expense-reimbursement related stuff.

      In my current job, I work for a married couple/owners of the business. She is supposed to be the “marketing director” and “executive manager”. She did not show up to work for four months last year.

    4. GOG11*

      I have a coworker who swears audibly, slams doors, and asks inappropriate, rhetorical questions in the lobby of our building. I have another who will ask our customers (students) what they think about mistakes the university has made (like, “what do you think about me not showing up to your class because my contract is late?”). Uuuugghhhgg.

    5. INTP*

      My former coworker was caught watching movies on his phone at his desk when he was supposed to be working. Apparently he would do this for hours per day.

      Instead of him getting in trouble individually, the consequence was that headphones and “looking at your phone” were banned for the entire office. Most people ignored the latter rule – there were a lot of parents who needed to be available to respond to emergencies or calls from the school or whatever and everyone else had managed to remain productive despite having access to our phones. No one ever got to wear headphones again though.

    6. Dasha*

      I had a co-worker who mostly looked at memes and reddit all day and when he did get calls he would yell at our sales reps (who he was supposed to be supporting), would talk to clients like they were stupid, take really long lunches, and randomly walk around the office and talk to people most of the day, but sucked up to our boss enough that now he’s a manager (I left a long time ago).

      He was also incredibly self-centered, a know it all, and extremely arrogant. He thought he knew more than everyone evening those with 10+ years experience on him.

      1. Windchime*

        We had a manager like this, too. For years he seemingly had no work at all of his own to do. He would wander around the office and lean on people’s cubes and yak about non-work-related topics for literally hours. During the times he spent in his actual office, he would conduct his side business of day-trading from his personal iPad while his work computer sat idle. When it came time to conduct annual reviews on his employees, he would just give them all the highest score in all categories (even those employees who could barely function in their jobs). I finally had to just learn to let it go because obviously he was somebody’s Golden Boy. I was actually kind of shocked when he got laid off when the downsizing came.

    7. Sunshine Brite*

      Program director going into retirement who didn’t do any paperwork for months who was managing the manager who lived almost 2 hours away going highway speeds. Manager didn’t know what to do and quit coming in but didn’t quit. She also stopped answering calls and texts from direct staff. I had her as a manager for almost a year before she quit. Then there was this series of managers resulting in me having 5 managers in the year and a half I was there and being pushed out as one of the ‘old way of thinking’ staff.

      1. Sunshine Brite*

        Oh and the coworker at that job that had super erratic behavior and I’m pretty sure was drunk or high taking care of vulnerable adults. The one manager stopped taking any information about that coworker’s behavior even though she wasn’t present to witness it. At least one in those series of managers was super good and she fired that staff in the time that she was there.

      2. Artemesia*

        Reminds of the time we worked hard to persuade a resistant administration of a college to support an important new program and then we had a new administration that decided it was an idea of the ‘old administration’ and so canned it. There are years of effort to do good in the world, I’ll never get back.

    8. zora*

      omg I hated this guy.

      He would be late or just not show up to work All. The. Time. He never walked in the building before 11am, and usually would be heading out around 3 or 4. He was late for every single meeting that was ever scheduled. We had a regular weekly senior staff meeting that was originally supposed to start at 11. He started not showing up till 11:20. He “asked” (passive aggressively assumed) for the start time to move to 11:15. Then he wouldn’t show up till 11:30. Some weeks he just wouldn’t show at all and wouldn’t respond to texts about where he was. But we had to wait for him. Then it was 11:45, etc etc. He lived a 20 minute walk from the office, most of the senior staff lived in the same neighborhood as him. We all managed to get there around the same time.

      When he was actually there he would never pay attention to anything, would not volunteer for any work, would openly go on the desktop computer and read articles, etc, we would have to repeat things he wasn’t listening to. He would be given an initiative to implement with his staff, and after 2 years he was still making lame excuses in every staff meeting about why he hadn’t been able to make any progress on it that week. It just never happened, after 2 years.

      We had several off-site all-day planning meetings per year (that’s a whole other story, ugh) and again, he would be late every single time. One time we’re sitting there at 35 minutes after the start time, and the ED is texting him, he says he’ll be there in 15 minutes (He lived a 5 minute walk from the meeting location), and the ED turns to the rest of US and starts complaining about how he’s always late! I had to literally bite my tongue till it almost bled to keep from saying “YOU ARE HIS BOSS!! Why are you telling US about this, tell him!” I would hear through the grapevine from some of his direct reports that he would just tell them straight out that he wasn’t coming in that day because he was hungover, or while he was in a meeting with them that he was ‘so high.’

      On top of all of this he would consistently tell me what to do, even though I was in a different department and not in his chain of command, and condescend to tell me every way I was doing things ‘wrong.’ When we were rarely given a project to do together and would sit down to work on it together, he would inevitably find some moment to say “well, I don’t think this will work for me, so you just go ahead and do it.” And then just never contribute to the project and one by one put every task on me so that I had to do the whole thing. And just generally every time he talked to me would say something condescending or with a patronizing tone because I couldn’t possibly ever know how to do my job.

      Best part: he was fundraising and his departments kept coming in further and further below goal every quarter so that they had to give up and close one program after another, so he had less and less work, but somehow was always just too busy to do anything else. And then the rest of the staff was getting pay cuts and furloughs and having to lay down positions because his departments’ revenues were just disappearing. So, not only was he taking away my time by being late to meetings but he was literally taking money out of my pocket because he wouldn’t do his own job.

      The ED was so concerned about being nice and having such a ‘supportive work environment’ and being a chill, laid-back hippie that he just wouldn’t say or do anything to this guy. I got out of there, but since I left they have had to lay down still more positions and I don’t know how they are even paying the bills at this point. Oy, sorry for the novel, but just thinking about that guy still chaps my a$$.

    9. Cath in Canada*

      I work in academia so I have several stories of “mad genius” types who are incredibly smart, but sometimes do or say incredibly inappropriate things. I heard that one of them used the N-word in a meeting recently! He was instantly and publicly reprimanded for that one, but seems to get away with lots of other stuff.

      On the plus side, the woman who used to spend literally hours each day openly playing solitaire on her computer hasn’t done that for weeks – someone must have finally said something to her. I’ve seen her doing the crossword a few times, but for some reason that bothers me less.

      1. GOG11*

        Also in academia, also have a handful of colleagues who have boundary/language issues.

    10. Elizabeth West*

      I have three.

      #1–Bullyboss. A manager (not mine). Lazy as hell. Would not ever answer his phone. I’m convinced he was slightly psychic (“a little shine,” as Dick Halloran would put it), and knew when I was about to transfer to him even though I said nothing that would indicate the call was for him. He would get up and walk away or flat out ignore the ringing phone. He also bullied one of his direct reports (Bob) unmercifully–it was so bad I could have claimed a hostile work environment just from having to listen to it. He tried to do end runs around this person by directing customers seeking samples to me and leaving him out of the loop–I thwarted it by replying to them and copying Bob. I would say, “Bob is your rep,” and not copy Bullyboss. Made jokes that were really thinly disguised insults. I got around that by acting as if his jibing questions were totally serious (took the wind right out of his sails). Everybody hated him. Everybody.

      He got away with it for years until we got a new VP, and then he got fired. :D :D :D I was gone by then, but when Friend Who was Still There But Has Now Escaped told me, we both wished we’d been a fly on the wall for THAT conversation!

      #2–Cruella the Evil Salesperson at a short-lived job in a carpet store. Meanest woman I ever met in my life. Just nasty -tempered, bitch-mouthed, horrible person. She was family and it was a family business, so they put up with her. To her credit, she was a pretty good salesperson–I never heard her acting like this to customers–but I hated her. The job sucked; I ended up covering for the receptionist more and more even though I was only supposed to do it one day a week, and now I understand why she bailed all the time. Someone told me they had hired a salesman and she was so mean to him he quit after three days with no notice.

      One day, Cruella’s daughter called and I had to put her on hold to find her mum. She was on hold less than a minute and hung up. I found Cruella and told her to call her daughter. I don’t know what Baby Cruella said, but Cruella came back over to me and IN FRONT OF A CUSTOMER, proceeded to lambast me for hanging up on her daughter. I looked her straight in the eye and quietly and coldly told her I had NOT hung up; I put BC on hold and she was the one who terminated the call, and I have never hung up on a caller and never would. Cruella retired in defeat and was sort of nice to me for a day or so, before she started up again. I was so glad to get out of there.

      #3–Twitface. OMG.
      This was at the cafe. She was engaged to a security guard who was studying to be a cop and who had a lot of cop friends. She would go all out to say how great he was and how much she loved him, etc. etc., and then in the next breath, woudl talk about all the cop buddies she boinked behind his back. (We never found out if this was true or just her bullcrap, so we never said anything to him, although we were dying to.)

      She flirted insanely with customers, and even bamboozled one into bringing her a huge bouquet of roses one day (we all were about to puke). I liked a guy who was working on the construction project across the street, and he would come and talk to me sometimes. One time, she walked up and sat down and started talking to him as though I weren’t even there! We later had a date to a film, and he stood me up. I never knew for sure but three guesses who he was really with that night! No big loss because after that I didn’t want him anyway.

      I hated her. In my mind, when I cast someone imaginary as a “slutty pumpkin,” it’s her. I used her in a story and would do it again. She’s going to end up in Secret Book, I think, as a slutty pumpkin who getst bested by the female protag, ha ha ha ha. Or I could just drop a piano on her.

      For some reason, she annoys me more when I think about her than any other co-irker, and it even trumps Cruella, the only person I worked with who I actively hated. I guess Cruella was so obviously nasty that at least she gets points for being honestly so.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I vote that she falls out a 13th floor window and the piano lands on her. Give her a really bad hair day.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I sometimes used to imagine that I’m very successful and have a fabulous sexy husband and she puts the moves on him and he shuts her down immediately and then I give her the smile. You know the smile. The “I didn’t have to drop a piano on you because you just did it to yourself” smile. Heh heh.

  71. Xanthippe Lannister Voorhees*

    Here’s a definite work related question! My SO has passed the teaching exams required for the state, but still needs to pay for the actual licensure (because teachers make so much money it makes sense to nickle and dime them, right?). Money is tight for us and he doesn’t want to throw the money out to get the license without a job, but most job postings want someone licensed in the state (he actually is licensed in a different state, but of course where we live now is non-reciprocal). I told him that maybe he should try applying and mention in the cover letter that he has passed the test, include his scores, and note that he can have the actual license in time for the start of the school year if there’s a job in place.

    Is that an actually feasible way to go about things or am I way off base into how school hiring works?

    1. TotesMaGoats*

      In my experience, he needs to find the money and get the license. Nurses have to do the same thing and you’d be up against stiff competition to have passed the NCLEX but not having paid for license. Same for teachers.

    2. Coach Devie*

      I agree with either or. But since you live in this state now and he is going to be looking for teaching jobs, he will need it at some point, no? I figure it makes sense to just get it over with and have it done because at some point it will be needed and also, there won’t be worry about if it will actually be done on time if he is offered a position. It could very well end up being a deciding factor between him and another equally qualified candidate for the same job.

      1. Xanthippe Lannister Voorhees*

        Part of his hesitation is that we are not planning on staying in this state past me finishing my Master’s and having the qualifications to get a higher-ranking job, and his already-held certification is reciprocal just about everywhere but the state we’re currently in (though I still think it is worth getting the extra license and a job for experience)

        1. Coach Devie*

          Understandable. I do think he should probably get it though, just for the simple fact that it could be the deciding factor for a job there, and as Totes above me said, having everything else but the license could halt progress on an offer/position.

          I do not know how much of a budget hit the teaching license, but I think it’s probably the best option to go ahead and get it taken care of. And yes if he gets a job and experience while you are currently living there, it will also help tremendously when you all relocate to your permanent state when he begins job searching there!

          Good luck with everything! :)

    3. Sunshine Brite*

      If he’s just starting as a teacher, maybe. My husband applied for jobs before everything was complete based on the way this state had things timed out for new grads. If not, he needs to get the license and not to wait because every licensing board often takes longer than expected in my experience.

    4. Ad Astra*

      My husband was in this situation and never did hear back from a single district in that state. If it’s at all possible, I think you should pay for the licensure. I kept asking my husband to talk to his parents about loaning him the money, but he felt uncomfortable because he was supposed to be independent.

      Things only got better for us when I lost my job and we moved to a state where my husband was already licensed.

    5. Sara*

      He’ll almost certainly have to pay for the license, unfortunately. In my area, most districts won’t even consider interviewing someone who doesn’t have a license in our state. (One of the instructional aides I work with is licensed in a neighboring state and taught there for 5 years…they still wouldn’t consider her for a classroom teacher position.) Long term substitute gigs are sometimes a different story, but even for those, my current and my previous district still preferred someone with our state’s license over someone with another state’s license.

    6. AGirlCalledFriday*

      Well, this is not a good time to be a teacher.

      I don’t know where you are located, but if it’s anywhere in the midwest expect stiff, STIFF competition for jobs. I’m a teacher, most teachers I know weren’t hired the first year they were looking, so have a plan for your SO to be subbing for the year just in case. As far as licensure goes, he absolutely must have it in hand before he will be considered, even if he is licensed in another state. Currently there are thousands of teachers out of work and looking for jobs – there’s no reason to consider anyone who doesn’t have all their ducks in a row. It’s a sad time for teachers and hopefully your state isn’t as affected.

      The other thing your SO could do is apply to private schools. Again, this is very dependent on the area you are in. In my area, maybe 5-1o years ago teachers could get hired at private schools without licensure, but no longer – now they all have masters degrees because there aren’t many jobs available. Unfortunately the private schools pay abysmally.

      I don’t know if your SO has taught for any length of time, and you didn’t ask for this advice, but I’d be prepared to consider some kind of backup plan to teaching. Teaching is amazing and rewarding work, but the job has mutated and become something so soul- sucking that teachers are career changing in droves. Many, many people don’t make it past 3-5 years. If your SO is just starting out, it’s possible that in a few years he’ll be so burnt out that he needs to do something else.

      Also – you mention your master’s program and that funds are tight. He might want to consider teaching in the Middle East (Abu S=Dhabi/Dubai) for a short while. You get great housing and a very decent paycheck. I loved my time in the Mid East, and there are thousands of western teachers there. Many of my friends are still there, traveling the world during vacations and saving up enough to pay off ALL of their debt/buy houses/go back to school when they get home. Just something to consider for down the road.

  72. Mallory Janis Ian*

    Today is my last day with my boss of almost seven years. I worked as his assistant at the university for six years and then moved to his private firm with him. Turns out, his wife is like a terrible, spoiled child, so I’m going back to a new department at the university, at a promotion over my old position (yay!). I’m going to miss my boss, but I’m excited to get all my good university benefits back. Lower salary, but more perks and time off, so it all works out for me!

      1. Revanche*

        I read that to mean that having moved to the private firm with her soon to be ex-boss, Mallory was exposed to the boss’s wife in ways that impacted her work whereas as university employees, the wife wouldn’t have been present in any significant way. Was that correct, Mallory?

        1. Mallory Janis Ian*

          Correct, Revanche. I didn’t know how bad his wife’s behavior was until I went to the private side with him.

          We had a three hour going away lunch at the bosses’ country club (which they were the architects of), and it was nice. My original boss walked me to my car at the end of the day and said very nice things to me. I’ll really miss my working relationship with him.

      1. Mallory Janis Ian*

        Thanks, NSNR. I still don’t regret that I did it. Even though it didn’t work out, in of ways it strengthened my tires with a lot of people in my work network, who championed me through leaving the university and then through the hard times I had with his wife, and finally through my decision to return. I never realized I had so many friends and supporters among my colleagues until I needed to lean on them through this.

  73. Diverbuddy*

    Question about job titles versus roles on discrete projects: I worked for a consulting firm on a number of contracts. I had a generic title with a list of fairly generic and ill-defined duties. In that role, I worked on discrete projects but most often with very different duties and levels of responsibility and complexity. I list the different projects on which I worked, the duties, and a generic title to provide some sense of my role (project manager, coordinator, team member, team lead). For the most part, our management was uninterested in defining roles and responsibilities and seemed oblivious to the differing requirements across projects.

    I worry that without an employer-designated title for each role, the generic titles I provide on my resume may be perceived to be misleading by potential employers. I could just remove the titles and leave a description of my role under that project. Any thoughts?

    1. Clever Name*

      I would list the generic title, and if you can think of a more appropriate title, maybe list it in parentheses to clarify what your role actually was. I’ve done it before when my official job title really didn’t encompass what I did and sounded much lower level than what I really did. Your resume is a marketing document, and it shouldn’t merely be a list of job titles and job descriptions.

    2. abby*

      I worked for two small consulting companies and neither company provided formal titles for discrete projects, unless it was the project manager. Everyone else was a member of the project team and expected to contribute. I was often a project manager for one project, a team member for another. So what you describe is, in my experience, common in consulting firms. My advice is that you should ignore the generic title and focus on your accomplishments and contributions for each project.

  74. Chairs*

    Question about putting up feet and such –

    My desk is an open front desk (no panel in front of my legs) and there are two chairs on the opposite side of my desk. In January I had a moderate back injury (could have been a lot worse, no lasting pain, but caused intense pain and prevented various types of sitting, leaning, and standing for a couple weeks). During this period – after I was off the serious drugs and could work again – I got into the habit off putting my feet up on the chair across from me. Doing so was frankly the only way I could sit for more than about twenty minutes and helped be keep decent posture that didn’t hurt my back. Realizing this is somewhat unprofessional (I don’t put my shoes on furniture at home, much less in the office), I would try to pull them down whenever someone walked by/came into my office.

    My boss however, would come and sit in the other chair, then pull my footstool chair back to use almost as an armrest. I couldn’t tell if he was doing it feel comfortable, or if he was subtly trying to tell me to stop. So instead I switched to propping my feet up on the garbage can, which was a little lower, but still helped.

    Now I have two problems.

    1) Now that my back is better (except for the odd bad day), I have found that propping my feet up is still wildly more comfortable than sitting in the chair normally. I am rather short and have short legs, so even on the shallowest setting, my legs barely clear the chair set when bending, which sometimes pulls me into a slouching posture to make my knees more comfortable. Propping my feet up relieves this problem and keeps my neck/shoulders/back from hurting/aching/stiffing so much at the end of the day. So, in an effort to justify continuing to prop my feet, I started wondering if foot-propping is as unprofessional as I think it is. Thoughts?

    2) Also, my trashcan is apparently not as sturdy as is appears to be warping slightly. Does anyone have an recommendations for ways to make office chairs more comfortable for short folks?

    Thanks for any input.

    1. Catherine in Canada*

      I’ve seen people use foot rests – wedge shaped things to accommodate different legs lengths, I guess.
      Get a yoga ball chair? you can adjust those to suit any leg length by how much you inflate it. Good for your posture too.

    2. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I would suggest an ergonomic footrest. They’re as low as $20, although you can certainly pay a lot more, and you might be able to get the company to pay, but if it were me I would just buy my own. (But then, I wouldn’t expect other people to do so, that’s just me.) I see an adjustable height one on Amazon for $30.

      1. College Career Counselor*

        +1. A colleague at a previous job had terrible back pain until she got a footrest. Within a week, 90% of her issues cleared up. It was paid for out of the facilities budget (whatever it was, was a hell of a lot cheaper than having her miss work or go to the doctor once a week).

    3. ThursdaysGeek*

      Our company has provided footrests for some of us shorter people, because we don’t have desks that adjust down. In the past, I’ve used a paper box (filled with recycle paper), but like your garbage can, it isn’t as sturdy. If our company provides the footrests, they can’t be unprofessional, right? You should see if they’ll buy one for you.

    4. fposte*

      In addition to the footrest question, can you get an adjustable chair and desk so you can drop the chair height to a body-appropriate level?

      1. Chairs*

        A small issue is that everyone has the same type of desk and chair and I’m not certain how pleased management would be for me to be the odd man out. One of the directors of the company got a standing desk addition to his desk, and that was a brouhaha. I’ve tinkered with the height of my chair and monitor to the point that at least my arms and head looking at the monitor are in an ergonomically good position. My main issue isn’t so much the height for my legs as the depth of the chair. The chair has one of those nice lower back supporting curves and a nice amount of give for stretching and squirming, but even with back moved as close to the front of the chair as possible, it’s still a bit deep for me (I have this problem a lot – movie theater seats are the worst, but I also can’t sit on most couches normally because my legs wil