open thread – June 19, 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 :)

{ 932 comments… read them below }

  1. Future Analyst*

    Just wanted to say thanks to Alison and all the wonderful commenters here. I’ve been miserable in my job, but since I’m expecting a baby in July, I wasn’t planning on getting a new job until at least after maternity leave. However, due to following Alison’s excellent advice on resumes, cover letters, and interviews, and a nice nudge from commenters here a couple of weeks ago, I’ve secured a new position to start in October, and plan to give my notice at my current job in lieu of taking a leave of absence (since my current company wouldn’t be paying for any benefits while I was out). This is the best of all possible outcomes, and I am eternally grateful for all the sound advice.

    1. Carrie in Scotland*

      That’s great to hear Future Analyst – and I’m sure a big weight of your mind!

    2. Mallory Janis Ian*

      Wonderful! I’m glad you had such a stellar outcome, and I second your sentiment about Alison and the commenters on this blog being of such immense help.

    3. ElCee*

      That is a nicely aligned set of stars! But mostly your own awesomeness I am sure. Congrats!

    4. Future Analyst*

      Thank you all!! Like I said, the advice/input/viewpoints offered here are invaluable– I’ve learned SO MUCH from both Alison and the AAM community in the last year.

  2. HigherEd Admin*

    Hi all, looking for some guidance today on a job offer I’ve received.

    After a year of applying, I finally received an offer and was so excited…until I heard the details about it. The initial offer was a $10k increase from my current salary, though I anticipate a raise (and possibly a promotion) at the end of the month, which makes the offer less appealing. I am in the midst of negotiating salary, thanks to all the advice I’ve received here, and it’s possible they could come back with a number that’s more in line with what I was looking for.

    Benefits include only health insurance (no dental/vision), at a cost that’s over 5x more than what I pay now – and gets me worse coverage. A third of the $10k increase would go towards increased health insurance costs alone!

    The vacation/sick leave is a joke. I would lose at least two weeks of vacation, and go from an unlimited sick leave policy to a rather restrictive sick leave policy. It doesn’t appear that vacation days are negotiable.

    So why am I even considering it?

    The role itself is great. I would be getting to do a lot of wonderful work, and get my foot in the door of an industry that I’ve been trying to break into for a while. I could get a lot of great experience, and hopefully turn that into another job with better benefits in another year or two. I also really, really liked the team and feel like I could learn so much from them.

    Plus, the commute would be much, much better than what I have now. It would be cut in half.

    What else should I be thinking about as I mull the offer over? Would you take this offer, if you were me? What would have to change in order for you to take this offer, if you were me?

    1. Ad Astra*

      I don’t think I’d accept the offer as is, but if they can throw in more money it might make sense for you, since it’s a transition into a field you’re trying to break into. And I think you should at least try to negotiate more vacation time. Vacation days don’t affect the employer’s budget, and exempt employees will have to do the same amount of work regardless, so it’s worth trying to negotiate. I’m not sure why some companies are so inflexible about PTO in negotiations.

      1. Retail Lifer*

        Our PTO is set in stone and must follow the written policy. No exceptions, ever. Glad to hear it CAN be negotiable in another industry.

        1. Jerry Vandesic*

          Money might be the answer. Take the number of PTO days that would be lost times the daily pay, and bump up the salary by that much.

    2. AVP*

      Since you’re changing industries, is there any way to talk over the offer with a connection who’s already in the new industry? It may be that the new benefits are totally standard for them, or it could be a crappy offer, but it’s hard to tell from the outside.

      I would definitely be considering it enough to do research, though, if you’ve been trying to break in for a year/

      1. HigherEd Admin*

        I do have connections in the industry, who have agreed that these particular benefits are terrible. :(

        1. The Cosmic Avenger*

          That might actually be a good thing. It means once you are in that role for a year (or whatever you think is enough time), you can apply for the same role at better companies and be fairly confident that you’ll be able to improve your benefits.

          To me, though, the most convincing thing is the commute. That’s pretty important to my quality of life. I would have to be offered a huge raise and better benefits to significantly increase my commute.

          1. Hotstreak*

            If you time a future move right, the lack of vacation won’t be that bad. Take a few weeks off between jobs, use what few days you get from the new company, then take another few weeks off if/when you jump ship (to some place with better benefits!).

          2. Mabel*

            Whether to accept this kind of offer really depends on what’s important to you and what you can live with. For The Cosmic Avenger, the commute is a big deal. For me, getting a better health insurance plan than what I currently have would be very important (or enough of a raise to allow me to pay for the medical/dental/vision services I need that aren’t covered). You also mentioned wanting to get into the field and liking your potential future colleagues, which are not small things. Please update us on what you decide and what they’re willing to negotiate on.

    3. Steve G*

      I think we need more specifics on what type of raise and promotion you’d be expecting and how realistic it is in your current job.

      But there is something to be said for getting your foot into a new industry with higher pay. I am job hunting and it seems more than ever employers aren’t receptive to stretch/outside-of-the-industry/not-direct-experience candidates. This might be your one opportunity….

      1. HigherEd Admin*

        Regarding the potential raise/promotion in my current role: I’d say there’s a 100% chance of a small COL raise of maybe $1500-2000, and a 75% chance of a bigger raise/promotion, of maybe $5k.

        I agree with you that this may be my one opportunity! That’s definitely why this decision is so hard.

        1. Steve G*

          mmm if you like your current industry I’d stay. But if you want to go into new industry, I would (with trying to negotiate more PTO). As I said, I am actively job hunting, and employers are really not into candidates from outside their industry, or they are, but then a candidate comes along that did the same exact thing at another company and you are out of the running.

          So getting a job offer in an industry you have no experience in actually does have value beyond just the $ amount of the raise.

          1. YandO*

            What Steve said. I totally agree.

            I am also job hunting in a new industry while trying to move. I’ve had to come to a conclusion that I will not get the money I want.

            1. hnl123*

              I agree. I somehow managed to get a fairly related industry job, (for less pay) and parlayed that into the industry job I wanted in less than a year. (I know the short time frame is usually looked down upon) but that is what happened to me. Point being, getting your foot in the door NOW means that better opportunities can come to you sooner.
              BUT not having dental is huge for me…. unless the pay increase is big enough to cover. Unexpected dental care can be $$$!!!

        2. Kyrielle*

          Hmm. So if 1/3 of your $10k will go just to the increased medical costs, you will get over $1k more after that, vs your best-case scenario, if you switch.

          Shorter commute vs. reduced PTO and sick time…how much sick time do you use? Can you live with the PTO situation for a year or two to make the industry switch?

          It depends on how much it’s worth to you, but IMO the PTO/sick is the sticky part – the money works out, especially if you manage to negotiate more, but marginally even if you don’t.

    4. Nobody*

      I would be inclined to take it. It seems like the pros outweigh the cons. It would suck to pay more for health insurance, but it looks like the salary increase would more than make up for it. I rarely take sick days, so that part wouldn’t influence me much (but of course it could be a bigger factor for you). And while it would be tough to get less vacation time, it looks like the work is something you’d enjoy more.

      I think I would try to negotiate for a little more pay, and see if there are any other perks like flexible schedule or telecommuting privileges that would make this job better than your current one.

    5. LBK*

      Is it possible to look at it out of the context of current job vs new job? Ignore what you get now and just look at what the work is that you’d be doing and what’s being offered in terms of benefits. Can you picture yourself being happy doing that job for that much money with those benefits? If so, then I don’t think it matters what you have now.

      1. HigherEd Admin*

        This is a wonderful view, and one that’s so hard to take. You’re right, I should consider the offer as a standalone, not just as a counter to what I’m current doing.

        1. LBK*

          I think this is part of the trap of somewhere with an uncommonly generous benefit like unlimited sick time – it feels so hard to give that up without realizing that if you’d never worked somewhere that had it, a limited sick time policy would seem totally normal.

    6. BRR*

      I’m not sure, here are some things to consider.

      If this is the only response you have gotten for changing industries that would make me consider it. Changing industries and a raise,+1. What about retirement matching? Saving commuting time would also help financially. Are the hours you put in significantly different? Does new job have 60 hour weeks or do you do 60 hour weeks now and new job is 40? Did you like the people? What if you can’t turn it into another job for a while longer and you’re stuck in that position? Do you not want to advance on your current career track, like are you just done with it?

    7. Dana*

      For me, the commute is jumping out. If it’s “much, much” better, you’re cutting your work day hours down and the stress I have commuting/being late because of traffic/arriving home exhausted/arriving home late really impacts my quality of life.

      1. Future Analyst*

        +1. I think most people undervalue how much commuting does or does not contribute to the stress of their workday.

      2. Parfait*

        agreed. if you go from driving 2 hours a day to half an hour a day, your effective hourly rate is higher AND you get time in the day to do things that are not work. When I switched jobs and reduced my commute by 2/3, the tension in my shoulders that I had stopped noticing went away and I had time to start exercising regularly. Quality of life! It’s worth a lot.

    8. Sarah Nicole*

      I would monetize some of the benefits you have now, like your drive, and compare them. I would also look into other health plans – depending on your age and current health, there are actually some decent plans worth buying for yourself. That could be one avenue to consider if their insurance is no good. I know someone who has always had her own and couldn’t be happier.

      Also, I think you might take far fewer sick days at a job you’re really enjoying, so that may help you make the decision in terms of sick leave policy. As for the vacation, it sucks to lose it, so I don’t blame you there. Perhaps you could negotiate more days like other commenters have suggested.

      1. Jerry Vandesic*

        Great point. I once took a job which inferior insurance benefits, and my new employer solved this problem by bumping up my pay for 18 months. It’s important to look at the entire package (salary, benefits, vacation, PTO) and come up with numbers for old job vs new job. Negotiate the package up, and if there are things that can’t be negotiated (e.g., probably can’t get a new/better health plan), use salary to make up the difference. The hard part is with intangibles (e.g., shorter commute), but time is money so you can probably incorporate it into the salary you need. If the new employer can’t give you a good enough package, keep looking.

    9. puddin*

      So your overall total compensation is going down. Is the opportunity to grow and other benefits a large enough and sure enough stepping stone to make up for the overall loss of income and benefits? What if this job and the team totally suck? Will you be ok for 1-2 years while you build up your resume – because you will be paying your dues at that point with little extrinsic reward.

      What do you want that can sweeten the pot for you? A 9/80 work schedule, WFH, Job Title improvement (over the one offered), an ‘in writing’ raise after 12 months, a training budget – again, in writing – to grow yourself in this new industry…what else can you ask for that is meaningful to you and something they can do?

      What are the chances that you can receive a better offer that moves you in the desired career direction? If they are slim, then that sweeten the pot for this offer. I would still negotiate something better though – because you seem to be giving up a whole lot.

      I would absolutely negotiate the vacation time. Don’t leave that up to a hunch!

      Finally, is their offer reasonable with what is in the marketplace? If not, you have ample ammunition to come back and ask for more salary. “I am pleased to receive this job offer. The role and the team seem to be an ideal fit. I think we are close for the salary negotiation as well. My research has turned up that this role with this size company in this metro area for someone with my experience, education, and skill sets offers a total compensation package of $XX. I understand that the benefits are baked in and not something subject to change. This does leave the salary as a variable however. My investigation puts the salary/salary range at $XX-$XX, bringing the total compensation to $XX, which is industry standard. Do you agree?”

      Good luck!

    10. Development professional*

      If your goal is changing industries, then don’t discount that as a benefit when weighing your options. You shouldn’t pit your current salary/benefits against this new offer without adding additional weight for the fact that the new job itself is much better or more aligned with your career goals. Changing to a new field is hard, so give this new offer “credit” for having that element. It still might not be enough to tip the scales, but it should count for a lot.

    11. YandO*

      Well, my question is will you need to change your lifestyle dramatically with the new job?

      If you can take the new job and still live comfortably then I would take it. This is an opportunity and in the big scheme of things it will not cost you a whole lot.

      Ont he other hand, if less medical coverage means your kid can’t get his asthma appointments every month, then no. Forget about it.

    12. Jerzy*

      I was recently faced with a somewhat similar situation. I had a job I really liked with great benefits, but with a long commute and no real chance at advancement/raise. I was offered a job closer to home with kind of crappy benefits but a serious pay increase. I was able to negotiate for more vacation time (3 weeks, as opposed to the 2 that they offer standard) and they offered me $5,000 above the minimum of my salary range to help cover costs of benefits.

      In the end, I weighed my options and took the new job, mostly because they were able to meet my minimum requirements. The first step I would suggest for you is to figure out exactly what you want in a job (i.e. salary requirements, benefits, time off, room for advancement) and decide what your deal breakers are.

      If they won’t negotiate, and you’d end up losing money on the deal, it may not be the right position for you. It’s ok to turn something down and keep looking for something that’s a better fit down the road.

    13. Former HigherEd*

      I take it from your name that you’re in a college/university setting. That can vary I know, but I’ve worked at 3 different colleges/universities in my career and I just would want you to think about the change in culture. I know you are saying you want to get into a different industry so you’ve probably already considered this, but higher ed is very unique. Going into a corporate setting from a higher ed setting can be a bit of a rude awakening in my experience.

      Just something to really consider, especially if you are taking a cut in other benefits to do it. This is probably biased, I admit, from my personal experience and really missing some of the advantages and perks that you more typically see in higher ed.

    14. Another HRPro*

      What value do you put on breaking into the new industry and the work you will be doing? It sounds like the reason you were looking wasn’t financially motivated. And it took you a year to get this opportunity. If you can afford the change in benefits and really want this type of experience, I say go for it. I once took a job at a very low level that was a cut in pay, benefits, everything really to get into the field I wanted. That gamble paid off for me tremendously. Looking back over a decade ago now I realize that if I hadn’t taken that chance I would be making less money now and doing a job I wouldn’t enjoy.

    15. HigherEd Admin*

      Wow! I did not expect so many responses. This is all really helpful, and I really appreciate everyone’s input and bringing up some things that I wouldn’t have thought to consider.

      One thing I didn’t mention is that this is for a contract position, so I am also taking a risk in not knowing if my contract would be renewed at the end of its term. Even if they came back with the salary I want, I’m not sure it outweighs the risk of not being firmly employed in the future.

      1. Jerry Vandesic*

        In my opinion this changes everything. I would never move from a permanent job to a contract job that pays just slightly more. Contract jobs need to pay significantly more to offset the risk. The fact that other parts of your new comp package would be inferior (insurance, vacation) makes this look like something to pass on. Use this experience to better understand and grow smarter about the new industry you want to move into, and then keep looking until you find an opportunity that fits your needs.

    16. Pill Helmet*

      For your health insurance you may want to take a look at the maximum out of pocket expense for the plan. We always hit the maximum due to some major health issues and I always consider this. I’ve noticed that with some plans the paycheck contribution might be low but the out of pocket max is really high, so if I were to hit that it would cost me more money than a higher contribution and a lower max out of pocket. If your plan has poor coverage you may meet the max sooner than with good coverage.

      Also, check out if there is an option for a plan that includes employer contribution to an HSA and factor that in as well.

      If it were me, I’d do the math to see exactly the max out of pocket expense for the year and subtract that from the extra 10K you’ll be getting paid to see what your real raise will be. With a 10K raise in salary you may still be in the plus. I’d also use that number in negotiations to see if they can come up with their offer.

      As for the dental/vision. That sucks but I don’t find they cover that much anyway and you can find some pretty cheap plans outside of your employer.

    17. abby*

      I’ve not yet read all the comments, but your user name, “HigherEd Admin” caught my attention. Are you moving from higher ed to private industry? If so, then you may never get close to the same benefits that you receive now, though the benefits will vary greatly. Instead of comparing prospective benefits with your current benefits, you should compare prospective benefits with other companies in this new industry you wish to enter.

      1. HigherEd Admin*

        I totally agree, and that’s what I’ve been doing. The benefits are low even for the industry, which makes the shock of going from glorious university benefits to…basically nothing at all…all that more intense.

  3. DP*

    Hi- Any advice?: I’m in my first real job, at a state agency. I’m a probationary employee for the first 6 months (not that I wouldn’t be trying to make a good impression anyway). I’ve been here about 2 months now. So, I don’t have that much to do yet, and I’m usually in front of the computer all day. I occasionally crave human interaction, so I say hello/have a brief conversation with some of my co-workers.

    The issue is that one of my co-workers, while she’s super friendly, also is super talkative, and now comes over and pulls me into longer conversations that I’m not sure how to politely get out of. She’s been here about 10 years. Also, I suspect my manager doesn’t like personal conversations during work, though she hasn’t said anything. I work right near her (both of them). I want to be friendly, but I don’t want to form bad habits/make a bad impression. This is already starting to become a habit. I’ve gotten good feedback on my work so far, I just haven’t a chance to do much yet, so I’ve been reading a ton and learning as much as I can but not saying anything to anyone all day while I have very little to do drives me a bit nuts sometimes. Thanks!

    1. Lenticular Focus*

      Brief chat to be friendly, then (cheerfully) “Right, I’m on deadline/super busy today/need to get this done by 4/whatever, so I better get back to it. See you later” and turn back to your computer.

    2. Nashira*

      Ask your manager for help in extracting yourself from these conversations? Like, what strategies have other people used?

      For the super chatter in my office, I learned to make non-committal noises and never look away from the work at hand. It feels rude. It even can be rude. But in my case, “I’m sorry I have to finish this” never ever ever worked to make her go away.

      1. No Longer Passing By*

        I agree here. Manager. Why? You’re on probation and don’t want the manager to think this is voluntary. Also opens the door to you requesting more assignments

    3. Midge*

      I share an office with someone like this and feel pretty ok dealing with non-work chit chat. If your coworker starts talking about something unrelated to work, you could try saying something like, “I’d love to hear more about that later, but I need to finish some emails/work/a project right now.” (Even if, in all honesty, you don’t want to hear about her pets/children/weekend plans or whatever.)

      The thing I’m stuck on with my chatty coworker is getting more succinct answers to work related questions. She has the tendency to give long-winded answers when it’s simply not necessary. Would it be too rude to interrupt with something like “Thanks for answer my questions! I’ll use that information for X.” and then turn back to my computer? Does anyone have other suggestions?

      1. Jazzy Red*

        With these long-winded people, you HAVE to cut off the flow of wordswordsandmorewords any way you can. It would definitely not be rude to do as you’re thinking of doing, because most of these people either don’t know rudeness at all, or are used to people doing this and it doesn’t bother them.

        You need to do this just to get your work done. Don’t let talkers hold you hostage when you have something you need to do.

        Another thing I’ve learned over the years is to try to ask only “yes” or “no” questions. Sometimes that works, but when it doesn’t you can interrupt and say you only need “yes” or “no” to this question.

    4. Diddly*

      Far as I aware being on probation is usual at the start of a permanent job, if you haven’t got much to do, I’d speak up and ask for some work or whether anyone needs help, or whether there’s something you should be doing. You don’t want to be bored, or miss opportunities or perhaps, which I think you’re worried about, look like you’re not doing anything.

    5. NacSacJack*

      In a state job during probation, I was recently reminded of the following wrt a friend’s experience: Show up on time, dont clock in early, never work late, dont do overtime, ask questions, dont look like you’re lounging around, ask for help, and do your work. Sadly I think you have to bury your nose in your monitor during probationary period given your location within the office in relation to your manager. If need be, simply say to your co-worker, I am on probation. I cant be seen taking time for conversations. Its rude, but it also reminds her you’re at risk for losing your job, not her.

    6. CheeryO*

      I’m in my probationary period at a state agency right now too! Mine is a year long, and I’m six months in. Funnily enough, I also had a super-chatter get attached to me in my first few months here. I really like talking to him, but he would come and plop down in my “guest chair” for 20+ minutes at a time, and I started to get nervous about it after a few weeks. (My agency is almost overly friendly, so it wasn’t really out of the ordinary, but like you, I want to make a good impression while I’m new!)

      Anyway, what worked for me was to be super blunt with him. I said, “Hey, this is probably silly, but I’m a little nervous about looking like a slacker while I’m in my probationary period. Would you mind if we cut the chatting down to just a few minutes at a time, at least for now?” Around here, it’s kind of a cultural thing to keep your head down during your first year, so people are pretty understanding when you tell them that you can’t chat too much, or take a long lunch, or whatever. YMMV of course.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I agree with being blunt.
        “I like talking with you, but as you know I am on probation, I don’t want to be seen as a slacker because I really like this job and I am happy to be working here. So, I need to make sure that I am doing my best everyday, which includes limiting how much visiting I do with everyone during my work day. I watch how long I spend chatting with everyone, it’s not just you. I hope you understand. I really don’t want to blow this.”

        I have used this before and found it seemed to help some, because I said I was doing this with everyone. The recipient of this message usually said something like, “yeah, you’re right. If you need something be sure to let me know.” I thought that was a nice, sincere answer, because basically I was telling them to “stop it”, but I used a lot more words.

    7. TootsNYC*

      I agree that one way to convince your boss that you’re not part of the problem is to take the problem to her.

      Say, “Could you give me some advice? Coworker has started coming over and chatting, and I’m having trouble extricating myself without causing offense. I really don’t want to be derailed like that. If I tell her, “I can’t talk right now,” will you back me up if she complains I’m unfriendly?”

      And, definitely, say, “I really can’t chat right now.”
      Also, feel free to go to the coworker at a sort of private time and say, “I wanted to ask you to help me keep the chatting down to a bare minimum. I’m new still, so I’m still making my reputation. My boss doesn’t really like lots of conversations in the office. And I have a lot to do, and some times are OK and others really aren’t. If I let you know that I can’t talk, would you help me by ending the conversation immediately? Not after two or three wind-up sentences, but right away?”

      I had a roommate who’d call me at work, and when I said, “I’ve got to go,” she’d wrap up, for 12 sentences. The third time she did this, my boss was standing there waiting for me. I just hung up on her. She was mad, but it gave me the opportunity to point out that she’d do the whole wrap-up thing, and to say, “When I say I’ve got to go, I mean NOW!”

      So be direct, and phrase it as “please help me.” Maybe even suggest a code word.
      But laying the groundwork for this, and couching it as her helping you, that will hopefully remove any “I reject you!” impression.

  4. Venting*

    This is something I know I need to just get over and quit being bitter about, yes life is unfair and I have no claim for sympathy for this…but I really need a place to vent. (I’m not in the US but I’ll leave out the location just in case.)

    A year ago our team got a new manager (NM) who was just not good at his job (I started typing out examples but it went too long). Projects ran overtime with little direction or structure. His excuse was always that he was new at doing this, which was okay at the start but six months into it you should have some clue (we’re only a five person team)!

    It was driving me crazy and I couldn’t understand how someone like that could be promoted to management. At the same time, I felt like I’ve gone as far as I can with this job and really want to keep building my career elsewhere. So I started looking for a new job, and it’s been all the anxiety and heartache that come with job-searching.

    Then last week, NM announces that he was offered an amazing position at a fantastic organisation in the US – one of those high profile companies (think Google) that people fight tooth and nail and jump through countless hoops to get into. NM made sure to emphasis how he was offered the position without even having to apply (a ‘right place at the right time with the right friends’ sort of thing).

    It took every ounce of self-control for me to keep smiling and congratulate him (and not throw breakable things). I’ve dreamed about working in the US for years (properly thought through and researched it – I actually found AAM during that process) but I always knew it’d be terribly difficult, given visa restrictions and the job market. The few times I’ve summoned the courage to apply to US-based jobs have been crushing, and I wonder if anyone even looks at my cover letters or if they automatically veto me when they see a non US-address on the resume.

    My friends have tried to point out that ‘at least you don’t have to deal with NM anymore’, but right now it’s like I’m having a mild existential crisis – like why even bother trying when it feels like life is just a crapshoot. Maybe he has hidden qualities I never knew of but this is someone who made my life absolutely miserable for the last year, so to know they’ve been given a golden ticket just brings out so much resentment and bitterness I don’t know how to get over it. I wish I was a better person.

    1. Ali*

      I hear you on this. I’ve job searched for about a year now, and despite improving my resumes/cover letters and landing a good amount of interviews, I only got one offer…for the part-time job I’m starting now. Meanwhile, I have dealt with managers who have no business managing, knew a guy who can’t stay anywhere for two years and continues to get great offers and have a friend who landed with her first choice company right out of school. When she texted me to tell me they hired her, I felt envious that it was so effortless for her while I was pounding away with very little results.

      I have a strong support network, but sometimes that doesn’t make things better, knowing I’m surrounded by very successful people and I’m the odd one out.

    2. Tagg*

      Don’t really have any advice, but you have my sympathies.

      Take solace in the fact that he will most likely be found out for his incompetence at this new location sooner rather than later. I highly doubt someone with those sorts of performance issues will excel in such a sought-after company no matter who his friends happen to be.

      1. JB (not in Houston)*

        Ditto. I don’t have any advice, but you have my sympathies. That just sucks.

        For years, I’ve wished I could win the lottery, start my own company, and give jobs to people from out of the country in a small protest to our ridiculous immigration laws–I will never understand why we don’t want to do whatever we can to get talented, hard working people to move here. “Yes, come here to go to college, excel in your studies and learn this advanced field . . . and then take that knowledge somewhere else so that some other country can benefit from it!” But that hasn’t happened yet.

      2. AndersonDarling*

        Yeah, the super employers didn’t become that big by keeping dead weight around. He will be found out. Let’s hope he doesn’t try to get his old job back!

      3. The Cosmic Avenger*

        If the manager is really that ineffective and unable to adapt/learn/ask for help, I wonder if either he lied about getting the job or lied about his qualifications in order to get “recruited”. Actually, if he’s still bombing that hard, I wonder if this is his way of spinning the fact that he’s being fired, or he knew he would be fired so he made up a reason to quit.

        I have no evidence for this, but if he ever lied or prevaricated about why projects were having issues, or about what he knew, or something like that, it wouldn’t surprise me.

        1. Ruffingit*

          This. I’m thinking this guy is lying through his teeth and is actually about to be fired and they’re letting him “quit” with dignity or he lied like a rug to the people who hired him. Either way, he won’t get away with it for long. If he’s working for one of the big companies in the US, they will expect a certain level of knowledge right off the bat. He doesn’t have that so he will quickly be shown the door.

    3. LCL*

      Maybe it would help to look at it this way-now you know someone who has a connection to the industry and area where you want to work. He could be helpful to you with networking/introductions, and also just explaining some of the complications and things that could go wrong. Of course, that does require you to stay in contact with him, but since he won’t be your boss any more that might not be too bad.

      1. A Bug!*

        That’s what first came to my mind, in tandem with “now you’re free of him.”

        It’s tough to see someone get something you wanted when you just know in your gut that you deserve it more. So, Venting, even though you didn’t ask for it, you do have my sympathy.

    4. Erin*

      Try to turn this into a positive – if he can do it you sure as hell can do it, and in the meantime you don’t have to put up with him anymore. Yay!

    5. Steve G*

      Most of us have been there, sorry for having had to deal with him. Well, now he’s gone, and one day he is going to be somewhere that actually makes him work, and he’s going to die!

      I also have many examples of bad boss that are too long to write out. I keep remembering new ones that I forgot. Yesterday a friend opened the door when I was brushing my teeth in the bathroom and I had a flashback to how every single time I closed my door to concentrate, he’d open the door and come in and sit down and ask what I was busy on. He often thought people weren’t working, so was basically checking to see if I was doing a non-work activity. What a douche! Meanwhile I’d be freaking out about how to complete all of the work and get to the gym class at 8pm.

    6. misspiggy*

      Sounds like you should be applying for his job when he goes – would that help sweeten the pill?

    7. Traveler*

      Luck, or whatever you’d like to define it as, is a factor in these things. I’ve known people like this, too. Mostly in my personal rather than professional life, but I still find it frustrating that they get constant promotions and always land on their feet when I know there are probably other people actually working hard that don’t.

    8. puddin*

      Maybe its about fit. He clearly does not fit in well with your org – maybe the new one will be better for him. Not that you care, but it means that maybe he is not incompetent and lucky but rather mismatched and lucky.

      Speaking of lucky, I am a natural skeptic, but I have my doubts about how he just fell into this ‘dream job.’ If the company is on the level of Google, they do not frequently just hire people without applying. Yes it can be all about who you know, but in those large companies you also have to go through The Process of getting hired. So I think his, “Oh yeah They can looking for Me” story smells a little of rubbish.

    9. Emmie*

      How is your company at training people? How great are they at sharing info? What’s the environment like? Do things change often?
      I’ve been in two types of management roles. One of them was at a company in an industry in which I had experience, thrown a laptop, told to get to work, and given a few hours of training. That’s not ideal, and absolutely impacted my reputation and perceived level of competency. It can be a driving force to leave a company. Perhaps looking at the type of organization you work for, and how they treat employees may give you a new perspective on your new / departing manager’s performance and help you acclimate the next manager, if it is not you. Best of luck to you.

    10. Diddly*

      Well for all you know he’ll do terribly at that job – seeing as he can’t do this one, and will be back looking for a job shortly. Or he’s lying through his teeth. Who knows. Perhaps you can take his role now?
      And maybe the key is networking in terms of helping you get your next job.
      Sorry that’s a sucky situation, and frustrating, I have a friend who seemingly always gets jobs instantly while I go after application after application. But she works very hard behind the scenes to get these jobs, including teaching herself new skills/volunteering/interning on top her work (remotely) – I wish I had her energy! My point is although he told you he just winged this job for all you know he’s been searching since he got this position as he was worried he was going to lose the job… :) Hope things get better for you :)

    11. Just*

      I’d say you were me but my nm (also 1 year in) isn’t going anywhere as far as I know.
      I hate having people call me to complain about nm personally.
      No, there is nothing I can do. Sorry. Stop asking.

    12. Evey Hammond*

      It doesn’t make you a bad person to feel this way, trust me. It’s hard not to feel jealous even when competent, skilled people get positions like that (and in that manner)- with a boss like yours it’s even more understandable.

    13. Observer*

      I haven’t read all the replies yet but…

      You don’t really know the real story of how he got this job. Maybe it was all just a fortuitous and smooth process, and maybe it wasn’t. And maybe he got pushed out of the job he is in now, too. Unless you keep in contact with him, you really have no way to know if he’s at GreatCompany at all, and certainly not after 6 months.

    14. Not So NewReader*

      Your turn will come. Keep applying, hang tough, your turn WILL come.

      Get a punching bag. Run five miles. Do whatever you can to burn out the heavy part of your anger. Of what anger is left, use that to keep you moving. Do not stop now.

      If they approached him, maybe someone will approach you. Not a good time to be really angry- you want to be sharp, on the ball and very hire-able. Another good reason to work out that heavy part of your anger.

      Remember, anger itself is NOT wrong. We are supposed to feel anger, especially when life is unjust, like what happened to you here. It’s what we do with that anger that makes us or breaks us. Consider anger as a source of extra energy. Now, how will you use that extra energy?

      The next question is in the same vein. We can let our adversaries sharpen us or we can let them dull us. Are you going to let this guy kick you down a flight of stairs OR are you going to make some minor changes in what you are doing so that you can get something as good as what he has? I think you could end up in a better place than him, because that is how these stories play out over the years.

      Keep in mind, it’s what we do when the chips are down that can make or break our quality of life. How we respond when we get dealt a blow can impact the next decade of our lives, easily. Don’t stop now, keep going.

      And let us know how you are doing.

  5. Officen00b*

    I’ve been working from home for the past couple of years but my company has recently opened an office near where I live. Whilst I visit one of our regional offices a couple of times a month for meetings, I’m slightly concerned about how to adjust to office life, as prior to this job I worked in a school so I’ve never really learned the nuances of office etiquette, particularly in a hot desking/open plan environment. Any tips?

    1. Future Analyst*

      Do you have the option to stick with your WFH arrangement, at least part of the time? If nothing else, this will give you time to adjust gradually. Once you’re in the office, see if you can ID someone who clearly knows what they’re doing, and ask for tips. Most people are more than happy to clue you into the nuances of certain offices/ office styles if you make it clear that you need the help.

      Good luck!!

      1. Officen00b*

        I’ll still be working from home 2 days a week.
        It’ll be odd as my team is spread across the UK so I won’t be directly working with any of the people in the office which adds an extra layer of awkward.
        I’m very introverted, so I think the transition is going to be quite tiring!

        1. Dasha*

          You can do it! I don’t really have much advice but it seems like you’re pretty self-aware just by asking what you need to do to adjust. Just continue to be self-aware as you get used to your new office life. :) You read AAM so you already know tons about office etiquette!

        2. The IT Manager*

          It will be change, but I think you might come to enjoy it. I am very introverted and now work from home because there’s no office nearby. I used to work from an office 3 days a week, and I miss it. Even though my cubical neighbors weren’t on my team (since like you my team was spread across the country), it was good to meet people, talk face to face, chit-chat, network with people in other sections that you’d never meet any other. Try to view it as an opportunity. Hot desking is tough, but I do recommend setting of goal of having one or two conversations a day with colleagues so you got to know these people. Something simple – it could be a conversation in the elevator or lunch room.

    2. Jazzy Red*

      * Don’t wear too much perfume. Don’t open a perfume bottle or spritz some on at your desk, or anything else that has a scent. Many people have allergies and you don’t want to be known as that clueless person whose perfume is choking everyone.

      * Similar to 1, don’t eat smelly foods at your desk.

      * Personal phone calls will annoy some people at work. If you need to make them, try to find an empty conference room where you close the door.

      * Say “hello” and “goodbye” to your coworkers. A little chitchat is a friendly thing to do, as long as there’s no TMI or overly-long conversations involved. (At my last place of employment, many of the people there had terrible interpersonal skills. My boss walked past my desk every day to get to his office, and never once said good morning to me. I started saying it to him, and then he would reply, but it bugged me that he couldn’t be bothered with common courtesy towards me.)

      * Try to find someone friendly who can answer questions about the office procedures. Most people like to help out new staff members. And remember that someday you’ll be helping a new employee.

      It can be a bit daunting to go into a new environment like this, but after the first couple of weeks (maybe even days), it will start to feel familiar.

  6. 30-minute lunch*

    I have a coworker who takes excessively long lunch breaks. We’re non-exempt, hourly workers with a 30-minute paid lunch break. We don’t have a set lunch time; our management trusts us to monitor our own breaks and limit lunch to 30 minutes. One coworker, however, usually takes an hour (sometimes an hour and 15 minutes) for lunch.

    Our management seems to have noticed this, and they’re the type who don’t like to address problems directly, so they’ve been hinting that they think we, as a group, are taking too long on our lunch breaks. My other coworkers are afraid management will start keeping track of lunch break times. This would be easy to do, as we work in a secure area where we can’t have food, so all they would have to do is check the security system log of when people enter and exit the secure area. Most people take a few extra minutes for lunch, but other than the one person, rarely more than 45 minutes.

    My coworkers have basically nominated me to talk to the long luncher because I work closely with her on a project, but I’m not sure if I should. I normally try to mind my own business, and I’m not worried about management checking my lunch times because I almost never take more than 30 minutes, and I usually take less. I don’t think the long luncher would be very receptive to me suggesting she shorten her lunch, because she’s pretty nonchalant about it; when we started this project, she told me she likes to take at least an hour for lunch. My other coworkers are pressuring me to talk to her about it, though, saying that I owe it to her to warn her that she’ll get in trouble if she keeps it up, and I owe it to them to keep management from cracking down on lunch breaks.

    Should I try to talk to my coworker about shortening her lunch breaks? If so, what do I say?

    1. LCL*

      So let’s translate this. Basically, your coworkers are pressuring you to harass another employee, for the good of the group. And your coworkers won’t be involved. And since you would be doing this without management support, the employee will see it as harassment. Now the employee is mad at you, the coworkers have denied everything, and management is mad at you for trying to do their job.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        Yep, this. Go back to those cow-orkers (not a typo) and tell them “You know what? I thought about it, and I don’t feel that I know Jane well enough to bring this up with her, that’s something her manager should be doing, not a co-worker. Besides, I only take 30 minutes for lunch anyway, so I’m fine with them monitoring our lunch breaks…but if you are worried about Jane, please, feel free to talk to her about it yourself!”

        1. AnonAnalyst*

          Totally agree with this. It sounds like you don’t really need to be concerned because if they start monitoring more closely it won’t matter to you. I might feel differently if you were friends with said coworker, but since it seems like this will only result in issues with this coworker for you, I don’t think this is your responsibility. If the other coworkers who are taking slightly longer lunches want someone to talk to her for the benefit of the whole group, let them step up and do it.

        2. crystal clear auntie viola*

          This made me laugh – are you familiar with the fable of The Mice In Council? Your co-worker mice have graciously decided to bestow upon you the honor of hanging a bell on the cat’s neck. In short: tell ’em to go fuck themselves.

      2. Artemesia*

        Good advice. I am that ‘helpful, competent’ person who often had a foot in many different work and social groups on the job, so would be nominated to do this kind of dirtywork. Don’t fall for it. No good will come of it for you. Either those who are worried do it or the entire group goes and talks to the manager. Don’t let the cowards around you make you the fall guy. I burned up a few of my giant stack of chips by getting played into this sort of thing.

        1. LCL*

          Me too. I see rereading my original response that I was excessively sarcastic, but all of that mockery was directed at myself. I have fallen for this more than once so was speaking from bitter experience.

          1. Jazzy Red*

            No, actually you were right on the mark!

            On my first job as an Executive Secretary, we had to split up our lunch breaks so one of us would be available at all times. One day “Cathy” went to lunch and didn’t come back for 2 hours. I was the one who had to cover for her, so I was an hour late getting my lunch break (I couldn’t even take a potty break until she got back). I let her know as nicely as I could that I wasn’t happy about that, and she took it very well. However, this was just between her and I, and no managers were involved. It was a very different situation than the poster’s.

      3. No Longer Passing By*

        +1. Don’t be the fall guy or gal. Because if it goes left, they will deny knowledge

      4. Anna*

        I agree with everything you’re saying, except the harassment part. It’s more butting that they’re asking 30 to butt in to something that’s actually none of her business and certainly not her job to police. Even in the non-legal sense of harassment, this doesn’t fall in to that category.

    2. Apollo Warbucks*

      I would say something to her, along the lines of “if I’m noticing then other people have as well ” present it as a favour or some words of advice to soften the message.

      Failing that push management to pull her card records and tackle the issue with her directly rather than you all as a group.

    3. J.B.*

      You know, she’s gotten the same info you have. You don’t need to do anything. Other than (if you want to) maybe push gently back at management if they do roll out the new tracking.

    4. Dana*

      Ah, the old blanket-policy-for-one-person-they-refuse-to-manage. My sympathies! If you are on good terms with management, I think I’d almost suggest talking to them instead of her. You could maybe let them know that while everyone else seems to take reasonable lunches (I wouldn’t specify length, since you said some people go over–but within reason), hers are more than double the allotted time and are affecting productivity (if they are). If you make it clear she is an outlier, you might have a chance of heading off a blanket policy.

    5. Language Lover*

      Based on what you’ve written, I am not sure it’s management trying to avoid confronting one employee. You say most of your co-workers take a “few extra minutes for lunch” but “rarely more than 45 minutes.” 1 or 2 extra minutes doesn’t strike me as a big deal but 15 extra minutes? I would argue anyone who regularly takes 15 extra minutes for lunch is part of the problem that management notices. They may not be as bad as the co-worker who takes an hour or an hour and fifteen minutes but management isn’t out of line or necessarily practicing avoidance if they see this as a bigger problem than just one person.

      I wouldn’t talk to the co-worker. None of this is your issue. And I think your co-workers may not realize how much they may be part of the problem. Getting their co-worker to cut their lunch down to 45 minutes may still lead to management wanting to take a closer look at the time stamps. Good management probably won’t care about a minute or two.

      In summation: Stay out of it. Your co-workers are trying to make this your problem when it’s not. Tell them that it’s not your business.

      1. Amtelope*

        Yeah, if it really were only one person going over the time, it might be worth talking to management and saying frankly “I don’t think we need a new system for tracking lunch times, everyone takes a 30 minute lunch as they’re supposed to except for Mary; have you tried speaking to her directly?” But it sounds like many people are regularly taking 45 minute lunches when they’re supposed to take 30 minute lunches. If everyone doesn’t get serious about being back within 30 minutes (at least for a while!), I think management is very likely to start tracking lunch times no matter what you do. I’d stay out of this one.

      2. A Bug!*

        I also agree with your assessment. I don’t see anything in there that suggests that management isn’t already aware of the full extent of the problem.

        Your coworkers aren’t worried that Long Lunch Lucy is going to cause management to institute a new policy. They’re worried that she’s going to make it so they won’t be able to get away with violating a policy that’s already in place. Hardly a position of ethical superiority.

        1. A Bug!*

          Oops. To be clear, the “your” in my first paragraph is to Language Lover, while the “your” in my second paragraph is for the top-level comment.

    6. Ad Astra*

      Do you clock out for lunch? If it’s an unpaid break and everyone’s work is satisfactory, I’m not sure why the length of an unpaid lunch break is a problem. If it’s causing people to miss deadlines or do sloppy work, that’s of course a problem, but then the real issue is about output and not the break itself.

      1. Amtelope*

        Per the OP, they’re non-exempt hourly workers and it’s a paid break. Many employers wouldn’t be happy with people going over 30 minutes for lunch in this situation.

        1. Ad Astra*

          Ah, my mistake. I misread the post the first time. I still think management should focus more on the quality of work and less on the length of someone’s breaks. This isn’t the OP’s responsibility to handle.

      2. OfficePrincess*

        In this situation, it’s a paid break, but there are still plenty of times that taking too long of an unpaid break would be a problem too. For example, if there is a limit to how many people can be on break at a time, everyone needs to stick to the allotted time so the next person can go.

    7. 30-minute lunch*

      Thanks for the advice, everyone… I don’t want anyone to get in trouble, but I also don’t want to be seen as a bossy jerk, especially by someone I work with closely and need to get along with. She knows what the rules are, so I guess it’s not my responsibility to try to keep her out of trouble.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        ” I don’t want anyone to get in trouble…”

        That is an easy pit to fall into.


        People will get themselves into trouble EVEN if you DO say something. It’s not up to you to live their lives for them, honest! She has already told you that it’s not worth haggling over it with her because she is doing to do whatever she wishes.

        I agree with those who said to tell your coworkers to handle it themselves and that timed breaks are not going to be a problem for you.

        As an aside, people like this woman tick me off. They are stealing from the company- they are accepting pay for hours they did not work. Their work load is subtly shifting on to other people’s backs who do follow the rules. I say let the chips fall where they may here. Your life will go on with little to no impact.

  7. Audiophile*

    I’m curious what others do when they get a failed email delivery message when trying to apply for jobs?

    I usually plan to follow up and find an alternate address, but almost never do.

    Does anyone contact the organization by phone or send to an alternate address?

      1. Audiophile*

        No, they specifically stated applying through email. In this case, they had entered the information incorrectly, so the hyperlink was wrong. I got it resolved.

        I’m still curious what others do though.

        1. Mimmy*

          I’d see it maybe not as a red flag, but a yellow one. To me, if they’re that careless about posting the contact information / application instructions correctly, I’d be leery about the rest of the process.

        2. danr*

          I would go digging for an alternate address on the company site. If the job is posted there, I would use that email address.

          1. Audiophile*

            I did, prior to figuring out that they’d input the email in wrong. All I could find was an @info address. Which I guess would work, but likely result tossing the application.

    1. ihateusernames*

      So. I took my current job a year ago that was a full time Term of Project contract that’s renewed every 6 months. My boss and her boss have mentioned how much they want to keep me at the company in years and are interested in seeing me grow into other roles. But this is a corporate company in an industry that’s going downhill and not changing rapidly enough to keep up with current technology and customer demands/preferences. I like my job well enough, but I took it to get out of a horrible company with extremely low pay. I know I won’t stay here longer than 3 years max.

      I recently went to a networking event my grad school was hosting and was approached by someone at a startup offering me an interview. The company seems interesting, my background falls in line with what they offer, and they have a pretty good work/life balance. The biggest change is that they’re offering me a lot more money. A $15K increase, plus good benefits, and a sign-on bonus that will cover a good chunk of my outstanding loans.

      I live in a major city on the East Coast. I have student loans. I have medical bills. My rent keeps rising obscene amounts. I’ve always been told not to take a job because of money, but well, I want to pay down my loans and start saving more. My current job doesn’t pay me horribly, but within the city and with all my loans/bills, it’s not like I’m rolling in the dough. I like my current coworkers, but I feel guilty leaving because we’re really understaffed and everyone has been encouraging about how much they want to help me rise within the company. What do you all suggest about taking a new job after only one year at my current place and because of a large salary increase?

      1. ihateusernames*

        whoops, sorry, I have no idea why this ended up as a reply to another comment instead of a new comment! D:

      2. misspiggy*

        Seems like a no-brainer to me, especially if you’ve done your research and you feel you could stay at the next job for two or three years.

        1. Anna*

          And always ask about their funding. Specifically if their funding is secure and will maintain them for the next (INSERT NUMBER OF YEARS THEY SAY YOU’D BE THERE).

      3. fposte*

        A large salary increase sounds like a great reason to change jobs–I’m not sure why you’re considering it a dubious one. Things to consider here: duration of your jobs generally (if your current job is your only job, it’s going to hurt you if you leave the startup after a short time, which seems likelier to happen at startups than just about anywhere else) and whether the startup money is blinding you to flaws there. Things that aren’t factors: that your current boss is interested in you and your growth. That’s lovely, but it doesn’t confer any obligation at all.

        It sounds like a good opportunity that’s certainly worth pursuing to the interview stage, at any rate, and you can think further about the possible cons along the way.

      4. Diddly*

        It sounds great. Unless the start-up is unsound, run my a mad man- I’d take it, just do some research and make sure you get to do an interview – so you can interview them. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to get paid well and have security. But if it’s just for the money and you’re not sure you’d actually like the job or the environment, then see it as a good sign that you’ve got value and use that to give yourself a boost to apply for jobs you want which are paid well.

      5. NoCalHR*

        To summarize: current job is contractual, 6 month renewal, decent pay, in “an industry that’s going downhill and not changing rapidly enough to keep up with current technology and customer demands/preferences” and you don’t plan to stay more than 2 additional years. Potential job is interesting start-up, you have the background for the job, offers a good work/life balance, offers a $15K/year increase in salary, good benefits, and a sign-on bonus that significantly reduces your debt load. If you’ve done the research and are comfortable that Start-Up is adequately funded, take the job! Nice compliments from your current management have not resulted in a solid job offer, don’t correct Current Job problems, or increase your stay time. Leave, now, with a good offer!

    2. A Bug!*

      I think it would depend on the reason for the failed delivery, and how badly you want the job.

  8. SaraV*

    So let’s recap the past couple of weeks…

    I find a job posting I’m really interested in. Find some wording on the online application that concerns me, post here in the Open Thread, but am convinced otherwise that I was misinterpreting it, and it was a slight overreaction on my part.

    I try to go back to the application on Monday, but the posting is taken down. I’m bummed, but having read AAM long enough that MAYBE it will be reposted.

    Guess what?

    It was reposted this week.

    Resume, cover letter, and application was off to them yesterday. Now, it’s the darn waiting game.

    1. fposte*

      “Fortune favors the prepared mind.”–Louis Pasteur. Good for you for being that prepared mind!

  9. Oryx*

    Any advice on if there is something that should be done differently in a second interview? I had a phone screen/interview like 2 weeks ago, a first in person interview last week, and next week is a 2nd interview with some execs and I am not entirely sure what to expect as I think this is the first time I’ve ever had *this* many interviews for a job!

    1. Dawn*

      Honestly, for me the times I’ve been on the other side of the table with this it’s because the candidate needs enough “buy-in” from the people doing the interviewing. So basically go in there and wow the execs the same amount that you wowed everyone else- because everyone you talked to is going to huddle and have a thumbs up/thumbs down vote on you working there. Yeah it can be onerous on the interviewee, but in the end if you get the job it means you impressed a whole lotta people!

    2. Nanc*

      When you say execs, do you mean C-suite folks? Folks who will be your supervisors? Peers? Knowing this (if you can) will help–you speak to the C-suite or supervisor differently than to your peers.

      If you have names, check out their LinkedIn profiles and see what groups they’re in, if they’ve presented somewhere at a conference recently, if they’ve published any articles or blog posts etc. Get familiar with with what they’re interested in and think about what experience you may have that’s relevant that you could bring up in the interview, especially for an open-ended question about why you want to work for The Company and what would make you the best fit.

      If you don’t have names, check out their social media and see what sorts of updates they’re pushing. Thought leadership, conferences, articles, etc. If the department you’re applying to has a corporate blog, read it!

      If you have someone you can practice/role play with–do it. Have them ask you some questions around the research you’ve done about the company–rehearsing will make it flow trippingly off the tongue when you get to the real thing.

      Good luck and let us know how it goes!

      1. Oryx*

        Yes, C-suite. Two of them. I’ve looked on LinkedIn and the company website and already know that at least one of them graduated from the same university as I did, so that’s an in I have. But looking for conferences and articles is a good idea, too. Thank you!!

    3. HigherEd Admin*

      Prepare yourself to repeat the same answer to the same question. Figure out if there’s a way to incorporate information you learned about the job/organization in the last interviews into your new answers.

    4. Anonymousterical*

      If it’s with execs, I would be prepared to be very knowledgeable about the company. I wouldn’t be nervous about giving repeat answers but be prepared to elaborate on answers to repeat questions you think they may ask (e.g., “As I told Phone Screener or Interviewer 1, blah, blah, blah, and, oh, XYZ.” Be yourself and be prepared and you’ll be fine. Take clean copies of your resume. Have questions ready! It’s a great sign they moved you on.

      FWIW, I used to do second and third interviews at a retailer (admittedly, with a joke of an interview system), and, really, the third interview (you had a phone interview, in-person interview, and now onto a third interview, right?) was the highest up in the chain making sure the other interviewers weren’t making a mistake–kind of like quality control. For reference, it went: first interview with the hourly supervisor of the area, second interview with the salaried supervisor of the area, and then third interview with the store manager or highest salaried manager in the food chain currently in the building (…because the store manager always took a 3 hour lunch and missed every effing interview).

      Good luck!

  10. The Expendable Redshirt*

    Does anyone know of a website or online class where a person can learn Quicken 2015?


    1. Mallory Janis Ian*

      Have you checked They have online training videos for just about any software imaginable. I’m no longer a member, so I’m not sure whether they would have Quicken 2015 yet, but it couldn’t hurt to look.

      1. Vanishing Girl*

        I just checked on and they have a Quicken 2014 course, but I didn’t see 2015 yet.

      1. AndersonDarling*

        Yep, its an online class depository. You purchase a monthly subscription and then have access to all the classes you want. I’m taking an online bachelors program through a university and one of my classes was supplemented by I was considering bringing to the attention of our HR because it had so many good classes.

        1. No Longer Passing By*

          How would this work? I’m looking for training options for my company and the budget always is the primary concern. Are certificates given afterwards? Does the employer prepay or reimburse? Does the employer open a special business account with user access?

            1. Expendable Redshirt*

              My public library does not. :(

              It was the first place I looked. The Head-Librarian of Education Stuff regretfully informed me that they had no information beyond the Quicken 2015 instruction book by Intuit.

              Not enough pictures Intuit…. Not enough pictures. *sigh*

              1. Coach Devie*

                What about older versions of Quicken? If you just need to learn the program, an older version (a year or two or three) will give you sufficient baseline knowledge and then using the program yourself will give you the rest, in my opinion/experience.

  11. Cruciatus*

    I had a phone interview on Wednesday and yesterday it occurred to me that I should send a “thank you note” and scoured the site for suggestions but was surprised when I didn’t see any examples (lots of talk about them, but nothing specifically saying, “have this, this and this.” There was one for if you’re really not interested in the job but not for when you still want it. If I wanted to clarify an answer I feel I’d have a good handle on it, but I don’t. I just want to say thank you for meeting with me. I enjoyed learning more about the position and now that I know more I still feel my skills and experiences line up and that I would be successful in the position. Is something like that good enough? I looked up examples online but they were letter versions and basically rewrites of the cover letter. I feel just a few lines are appropriate because it was just a 20 minute interview, a bit low key—more about getting to know me as an employee rather than a deep look into my skills and experiences. I hate to ask it but…does size really matter in this instance?

    1. Future Analyst*

      I really don’t think it has to be anything long– if anything, trying to make it so will frustrate you and confuse the reader. Just a simple “thanks for taking the time to chat with me, I enjoyed hearing about the position, and am particularly interested in XYZ (whatever intrigued you most about the position), looking forward to hearing from you” will do. (Obviously with better grammar and punctuation.) Good luck!!

  12. working for the government*

    Does anyone here work for government? (I’m in Australia, but also interested perspectives from other countries!)

    When I started uni (public policy related degree) I really wanted to join a federal agency like the Treasury and work on stuff like the federal budget. But given the state (and reputation) of our government at the moment I don’t know if those are the kind of people I’d want to work for.
    (Example: when confronted with the problem that the skyrocketing housing prices in Sydney was making it impossible for young people to buy their first home, the Treasurer’s advice was ‘Get a good job that pays good money’. Needless to say that advice was not well received)

    So basically: how do you deal with it when you disagree with the policymakers but nevertheless your job depends on the agency or department responsible for them? I know you have to remain politically neutral but I can’t imagine that’d be easy.

    1. LCL*

      I work for a smallish large city. I pay as little attention as possible to the policy makers, because they usually have very little effect on my job. I always try to remember what my job is, what it is for, and that the way to best serve the public is to do my job.

      I do have some of that public servant attitude that is usually seen as arrogance-given the nature of my division’s work, if the public would just stand back and let us do our jobs without interference we would serve them better. I view money that is spent on public outreach as wasted and detracting from the mission. With this attitude, I make sure to stay out of higher management.

      In short, find a public service job that provides a necessary service, and ignore the politics, and you will be fine.

    2. misspiggy*

      Being very aware of the legal and policy environment you’re going into would be important. Some governments can’t actually change previous legislation or policies very much, for various reasons, and others have much more scope. If you’re interested in helping to make workable, damage-limited practical solutions from badly thought-out policy statements, the type of work you’re describing sounds perfect. But if you’re more of a big-picture person, interested in shaping and redirecting ideas, it sounds like you might be better suited to nonprofit policy advocacy, thinktanks/consultancies, or getting into the political side of government yourself.

    3. SuperSecretNameHere*

      It is frustrating as hell. I deal by being angry, and cursing them privately in my home. Especially when policymakers play russian roulette with your livelihood and everything you believe in. More so when they do this because they are mad at people in another party and think its good business to put lives on the line in order to make a point. I cannot say a word in dissent either without jeopardizing my job.

    4. AnotherFed*

      My experience is that the policymakers draw big blue arrows on what they want and where they want things to go, and then their staff starts turning that into smaller blue arrows for career government to do something with. Lots of what makes up the big blue arrow is pure rhetoric and is completely diverged from or ignores 90% of what the reality of the task even is, so from there, career gov’t breaks things down into progressively smaller tasks and smaller blue arrows until you get to the point where there’s real work to be done, and includes the 90% of the real world work that wasn’t cool enough to make it into the policymakers speech and new policy. Policymakers change their big blue arrows all the time, but the day to day impacts down at the lower level are pretty minimal. If you want to be part of defining the big blue arrow, than a non-profit is the place for you. If you want to actually implement things and don’t want to deal with politics, then there’s plenty of room for that, just stay clear of policy jobs.

    5. US state employee*

      I work in a branch of our state’s government run by an elected official. It’s a conservative state and there are certain things my office does that I don’t support politically. Fortunately, my specific area is about as non-political as you can get. There are also divisions of my office that do work I wholly support, so it helps to remember that it’s not all bad. I just try to adopt a smile-and-nod attitude towards the parts I’m not crazy about. It also helps that I get to talk to the elected official in charge occasionally, which helps reassure me that they’re 1) human; 2) knowledgeable; and 3) have reasons for their decisions.

      What’s harder for me to deal with is the generally conservative culture in the office. I hear racist/sexist/homophobic jokes and comments with some frequency. Some weeks, when it’s busy and I can keep my head down and focus on my work, are fine; others (like this week) my spouse gets an earful every night. All this to say: you can do good work within an organization you’re not totally aligned with, but it may or may not be a place you want to stay long-term. YMMV.

    6. AE*

      In my experience, you have to suck it up and represent the Boss, whoever that may be. The lower you are on the totem pole, the less say you have in policy. You have to decide if you love doing what you’re doing enough to stick it out until a different administration takes over. If your agency is huge, there probably won’t be many changes. If you work for a smaller government or smaller agency, a new Policymaker could completely revamp your agency or eliminate it altogether. Being a team player and good sport and not causing any embarrassment for The Boss(es) will help you stay employed as times change.

    7. Chrissi*

      I work for an agency in the US federal government that does not do policy. I notice that new employees, especially new graduates have completely unrealistic expectations when joining about how quickly their input will be asked for or at all valued (in terms of having an effect on decisions made by the agency). But that applies in private industry as well. I think you are overestimating how closely you would be working with the parts of your agency that would come out w/ big policy decisions like that. You may find that you quite like the individual agency that you work for – they tend to all work a bit different and have different “personalities”. Some are strictly apolitical (like mine – it’s a requirement), others would fluctuate a bit based on who is in office. I’d look into the individual agencies in more detail and not pay so much attention to the high-level umbrella department stuff when you look into applying. I would think that working for Treasury and w/ federal budget-type stuff, that you will not likely be doing tasks that would put you in direct conflict w/ your own politics.

      I work for the US Department of Labor, but our agency operates as separately as possible because they are very political and it is very important that we are as apolitical as possible. I’ve worked through two different Secretaries of Labor, each appointed by a different President w/ opposite ideologies, and the press releases and emphasis of what they did at the Labor level changed significantly, but it had very little effect on my agency. I would say that the Secretary of Labor is the equivalent to the Treasurer in your example. That person has little to no impact on my life (except when we get an email the day before Labor Day letting us leave 2 hours early that day). You will also be working at such a micro level as an entry-level employee and so focused on learning all of the procedures and the job, that I don’t think your politics or opinions on high-level policy are going to be as important as you think they are. Not that they aren’t important to you, just that it won’t impact your job that much. You learn to divorce your politics from your job (some people are better than other at this). I would say give it a chance. At the least you might work there for 2 or 3 years, get some interesting experience and then move on, either to other agencies or to private industry.

    8. attornaut*

      IME, people who view government work as a higher calling and think that they will be the ones to change the world are the ones that burn out the quickest and move to another sector. I can take pride in doing my job well without needing to agree with the policies or politics. And frankly, for me, a government job is a “good job that pays good money,” or at least good money relative to the hours that I need to work and considering the benefits I receive. I wouldn’t be having an existential crisis if I were working at a corporation and didn’t agree with 100% of their policies, so I’m not going to do it here.

      Of course, this only works if you don’t think that the place you are working is actively harming people/evil/whatever. There is a difference between disagreement and disgust.

    9. Independent*

      For me the answer is easy – work for an independent oversight agency with legislative independence from government. I am a performance auditor with a state Auditor General (but there are lots of other independent agencies too). We report directly to Parliament and our whole purpose is to give Parliament & the public independent evaluations of government agency/programs. The role is not deciding policy but it is certainly influential … largely because it is independent.

    10. Sunshine Brite*

      County level social worker. There’s things I like about what our policies are and try and focus on that. Otherwise, it’s an open environment with my supervisors and coworkers to discuss disagreements in ways that it impacts our clients and what we’re doing which is helpful to vent. I have a coworker I rely on to fill that gap where we can truly be open when we’re frustrated. Currently, I’m building knowledge and experience, but eventually would like to do more personal work around social justice to fill some of the gaps I see in policy and communicate with my legislators what I would like to see and why.

  13. Reference question*

    I’m in my first job right now. A while ago, my first manager moved to another position in the same company. I need to ask her to be a reference and I am REALLY overthinking it.

    – Do I need to worry about her telling anyone I’m looking?
    – How should I phrase this?
    – Would it be rude to send this to her work email? I don’t have her personal email or phone number.

    1. Beth NYPL*

      Is she in the same company and the same location as you? I’d go see her or ask her for coffee to have the conversation.

        1. lawsuited*

          If you can’t swing by her office seeing as she’s in another location, then I’d call her on her work telephone (seeing as you don’t have her personal phone number) and ask her that way rather than emailing her work email.

    2. BRR*

      First one really depends on her personality.

      Just ask her. Something like, “I’m exploring some other opportunities and I was wondering if you would serve as a reference for me?”

      I probably wouldn’t send it to her work email if you can help it.

    3. Diddly*

      Usually your internal email should have an address book that should give you her work number, you could perhaps give her a call, and arrange to meet or just ask her over the phone.
      Maybe someone else in the office has her contact details. – ask around

  14. GigglyPuff*

    I feel really bad for my coworker in a different department. The person they hired about four months ago is just not doing their job, and she routinely gets his work dumped on her by their boss. Her boss keeps making exceptions for this guy, like not requiring him to do every step of something because he’s like a month behind or talking about re-training him. But it’s not that he needs retraining, it’s that he doesn’t care the first time around and sees the entire job beneath him. You try to tell him how to do something, my friend had to train him and I’ve had to train him on some equipment in my department, and he just doesn’t care enough to pay attention. You can actually see him not listening, and then later when he has to do something he doesn’t know how and doesn’t seem to care that he has to ask how later, and still won’t listen to directions! And then he starts bitching about the most basic parts of his job, things that were made clear to him in the hiring process that he’d have to do, something almost everyone in this line of work has had to do at one point. Like I said earlier, he just thinks everything is beneath him, and doesn’t care about one aspect of his job, but routinely talks about his five year plan and about what other openings might be coming up that he can transfer to soon. He’s just completely oblivious that he is alienating everyone around him.

    My biggest pet peeve, and for some reason I just didn’t like him from the beginning, no idea why, it’s almost never happened before. But he’s routinely 5-10 mins late to work, but the thing is, he has to be here exactly at opening because he’s the front desk! So multiple times now, there have been customers waiting, and few people have access to the computer to help them. Even people in other departments have started to notice that people are waiting. This is just such a basic function of any job, and he just doesn’t care, doesn’t apologize to others when they have to cover for him, or thank them.

    TLDR: coworker won’t do his work because he thinks it is beneath him, loves to discuss other jobs he can get in the company and my friend gets all his work dumped on her by their boss.

    Ugh I just needed to rant because I feel so bad for my friend right now, she’s really angry because just got tons of his work dumped on her, he didn’t do some stuff the last couple of days, and then forgot he had to watch the front desk today, so the stuff still didn’t get done, stuff that needs to get done that are other people are going to have to do for him while he just sits at the front desk playing on his phone. I don’t usually just label people like this, but this guy is, is just a douche.

    1. Anony-turtle in a half shell!*

      I worked with a guy like this once, and it drove me nuts. I had created a basic manual for myself of “how things are done” with step-by-step procedures for the most common parts (and a few rare, but complicated parts) of our job, so I could be self-sufficient faster. I discovered that management eventually used my manual as a training guide for new employees after I left. This guy would start things and either completely screw them up (we were dealing with people’s finances, so that was not an option) or act clueless so someone else would take over for him. I showed him the manual I created and left it at his station, only grabbing it when I needed it for one of those obscure tasks that we rarely did. For some reason, a bunch of the other workers loved this guy, but he drove me nuts, because he wasn’t unable to learn — he was just lazy!

      What drove me the craziest was that I often had to fix his mistakes when he completely screwed something up (including being screamed at by a client when he royally messed up two people’s accounts, because they had somewhat similar names. Note that we were not supposed to look up accounts by name, only by account number, for this very reason), because management didn’t want him to screw things up even more and I was the next newest employee after him. This went on for months and months, and everyone else but one other worker seemed to love this guy. He thought he was the most hilarious person in the entire world, and for some reason most of the others did, too. I’d rather have a good coworker than a stand-up routine on a daily basis, but I was obviously in the minority. I think enough customers complained that he was finally fired one day when I was at lunch. I was a little sad that I missed that. (In case you can’t tell, there were a lot of other issues at that place as well, including management, so I left not long after that myself.) He was also the only man in this position along with a lot of women (including our manager and our manager’s manager), so I have always thought there was a bit of, “Oh, these ladies absolutely love me, so I can get them to keep doing my work for me if I just act clueless and flirty and crack jokes that make them laugh.” Hey, it worked for a fairly long time, so I guess he was right!

      1. Ezri*

        “I’d rather have a good coworker than a stand-up routine on a daily basis, but I was obviously in the minority.”

        Agreed… I work with someone who is really well-liked and hangs out with team members outside of work, even though he does pretty much nothing. Honestly, I don’t see the draw of his personality either… he’s really narrow-minded and not well-spoken. But I wouldn’t mind that so much if he actually did things.

    2. Anony-turtle in a half shell!*

      Forgot to add that I completely empathize with your friend, because I hated being in this position. It’s hard to get your own work done when you’re fixing someone else’s screw-ups all of the time, especially when the only reason they are screwing up is because they just don’t want to do the work. I hope your friend’s boss wises up soon (even though I know that’s not usually the case).


      1. Windchime*

        We have someone on our team who is a really, really nice person but almost all of his work has to be completely redone. It’s so frustrating, but management knows and says they are “working on it”. The months go by and we keep re-doing the work.

    3. Cajun2Core*

      Basically put if I were your friend, I would start looking for another job.
      If management isn’t doing anything about it, I doubt that they ever will.

      1. NM*

        Seconded. I posted below about your friend telling management how bad the problem has gotten. But if it were me, I know I’d walk away from the situation.

    4. Ama*

      So does the boss not care that he’s keeping customers waiting by being late? Even if he was willing to excuse the other issues I’m not sure why he’d think that was acceptable.

      Are you in a position where you could say something either to your boss (or, ideally, his)? Not about what’s happening to your friend, unfortunately, but about the behavior you’ve witnessed from him when trying to train him or how many times you’ve noticed that customers have been waiting when he’s supposed to be there, etc.

    5. NM*

      Ugh, this guy is the worst. Is there any way your friend can go to management about this? I don’t want to make excuses for them not noticing his behaviour, but hearing about all the problems might make them take action. It’s possible that they can’t tell how bad it is. Either way, your friend shouldn’t be forced to cover for a slacking coworker for the sake of teamwork.

    6. GigglyPuff*

      Unfortunately I just started a few months before this guy, so I’m not really comfortable going to either manager about this, but my friend is getting annoyed enough to bring up the problems more often to their boss. But their boss has started to notice more, before he wouldn’t actually arrive until after the guy was supposed to be at the desk, but I’ve noticed him getting in earlier, I believe to see for himself what is going on. I also know, a couple other people in the dept but under a different boss have started getting fed up (his not doing his work, also means they might have to pick up the slack) with his attitude and him not being on top of his work. And after reading so much AAM, I did encourage them to approach the guys’ manager since he wasn’t around to observe it for himself, they weren’t sure it was their place, but I pointed out it really was when the manager wasn’t in a position to see it for himself, and they have started to do that.

      I’m hoping based on few things I’ve seen the manager do, like come in earlier, discuss re-training, he’s starting to get the picture, because this is really not a difficult job and shouldn’t require re-training. But I will say this is state govt. so I don’t know what it’s really going to take for someone to actually do something about this guy.

      And thanks for commenting, ranting is always nice, but it’s also nice to know that other people agree that these are legit problems, and not just minor things I’m blowing out of proportion just because in general I think the guy is a dumbass. :)

      1. AlyInSebby*

        I think of them as “Thank you for listening.” rants :D

        I think I speak for most of us, your rant is our afternoon pick me up, rant away!

    7. TootsNYC*

      I want people like your friend to go to their boss and say, “Hey, boss, would you fire his butt? He’s not going his job–he can’t come in on time, so customers are waiting. He doesn’t listen–WON’T listen–and all his work is getting dumped on me.
      “Fire him, would you? So I don’t have to go look for a new job?”

      I always wonder, would the manager pay attention?

  15. I am a secret squirrel on a Friday afternoon*

    I’m at work posting this…shhh!

    So. One of our higher paid support staff is taking the money & running (voluntary severance) and until they post a newly secured admin in the role for some of her work it could go to me. It’s just I’m worried about the timing as I’m also looking for another job elsewhere. They are anticipating they’ll have the role filled by Aug/Sept.

    I said that I’ll happily do the job but was worried I’d leave before the new person started. They seemed ok with that. So hopefully I will a) be busier and b) have more things to put on job applications.

    1. Cajun2Core*

      Don’t worry about leaving before they get a new person in. Most companies don’t care about their employees. I learned a long time ago that when it comes to work, you have to look out for yourself because no one else is.

  16. Toast*

    I’m moving cross country and I’ve asked my current employer to consider letting me work remotely. Being a planner and wanting to be employed after I moved, I started applying for positions in my new city. I am now at the second interview stage for two of those positions and waiting on the decision from my current employer on the remote proposal I submitted. How terrible would it be if I got the okay from my current employer to work remotely but took one of the other jobs? I like my current job and would have stayed if only my spouse wasn’t across the country. Do I treat the potential new offer as if I were leaving for a better position in current city (i.e., leave only if I get more money/benefits/potential for career growth? If so, I only applied to somewhat lateral positions so I’m torn about leaving current employer who gave me a break when I was unemployed and attempting to change careers. (I know I’m not at the offer stage yet but I want to be prepared.)

    1. Christy*

      Just figure out which job works better for you overall.

      Your office wouldn’t continue to employ you if it weren’t better for them overall. Don’t feel guilty if you take a lateral move!

    2. PurpleMonkeyDishwasher*

      Mostly, I’d evaluate the same way you would if you were leaving for a better position in your current city, but with one caveat – if you are in a field where professional networking is important, consider how having a local workplace from which to launch your networking efforts could be helpful.

    3. Development professional*

      If you’re definitely already moving, then I don’t think you should evaluate the new offers with the same level of scrutiny as you would if you were considering moving for the new position. It sounds like you only pursued the remote-work option so you wouldn’t have a period of unemployment, not because you just can’t bear to leave your current company, right? So it’s fine to take a lateral move if it’s one you’re happy with. You just have to give your current employer reasonable notice.

      However, if your current company is making considerable investment in accommodating your remote work (i.e. buying computers or other equipment for you) then you should at least be transparent with them if you can that you will eventually pursue local employment in your new city, and see how they feel about that. If they expect you to stay with them for a certain amount of time after buying your equipment, you both need to be clear on that point.

      1. Toast*

        Yeah, these kinds of issues are what’s making me torn. I haven’t heard yet on the remote working decision and likely will hear back around the time the second interviews are concluded. If I get an offer for one of the two positions AND the remote work is approved, I will feel awful leaving.

        The other factor I have to think about is the likelihood of moving yet again as spouse is in a career with lots of movement at the early part.

        1. Treena Kravm*

          Ooo, this is a major factor. Are we talking about expecting a move less than a year from now? Or every 2-3 years? If 2 years or less, I would think long and hard about frequent job searches, especially if the new jobs are lateral. Does your field have positions in nearly every city or are there some places where you’ll have to start over without a remote job?

      2. Tamsin*

        A remote worker in a new state can also trigger corporate income tax nexus for a company so that it now must allocate and apportion part of its business income to that state, which is one of the reasons why it can take so long for a company to determine whether it makes sense to sign off on the request to work remotely. I’m not saying to stay just because a company does decide to essentially open shop in a new state with all the accompanying financial and paperwork that means. But it’s as big (or bigger, really) an investment/commitment to that employee.

        1. Toast*

          Current employer actually already has another employee in my new state. They probably have a 20% remote workforce (pulling that number out of nowhere but certainly substantial). They just don’t have a remote worker who occupies the same role I do and actively recruit new employees to work out of our main office in current state. This is why I wanted to cover my bases and apply to positions in my new city prior to the move.

  17. BRR*

    So update, I’m going to be put on a formal PIP (it’s currently being drawn up). I actually left the meeting feeling pretty good though because I had received a decent amount of praise during the meeting and while I think my chances are relatively low of passing (it is a PIP after all) I do think that if anybody can do it, I can.

    So now my two questions:
    1) How do I ask for time off for interviews? I’m assuming it doesn’t look good to ask for time off during my PIP. I have plenty of vacation and sick time. I’m thinking I could do a little asking for DR appointments (except that I legitimately want to see my optometrist and dentist because that insurance won’t continue if I lost my job but I will do COBRA). Maybe say the dog has the runs and I need to stay home to take him out? Car problems? And legitimately my mom is visiting at the end of the July and I need two days off for that.

    I’m also worried it’s painfully obvious that I’m interviewing. I have been told specifically to not half ass this and that if they’re willing to give me more time I need to continue giving the effort I have been putting in and not slack off. So by interviewing will it look like I’m not trying?

    2) I already have my first phone screen next week! I’m having a little trouble coming up with why I was fired from my last job (which was also my first job, let’s ignore that I appear to be a terrible employee). I was hoping for some help coming up with an explanation.

    I work in fundraising and my first job was partially supporting the major gifts program and partially prospect research. I was fired for some small errors in gift acknowledgment letters like a missing zipcode in the address (caught before they were sent out) but also because I had to draft the letters and my manager would get mad when I didn’t include facts from her meetings with the donors when I wasn’t even there. Also I think my major gifts manager didn’t know what my role would be because she was new to the field and even though I asked for work she didn’t give me much so I spent a lot of my time on the huge backlog of research tasks. She pushed for my firing.

    My research boss loves me and is a strong reference. I work in prospect research now and explained my firing in interviews with something about not being a good fit for the major gifts part of my position but I always received strong praise for my research and that my reference can attest to. I’m looking at gift officer positions now though.

    So I’m a little at a loss as to what I should say. Other things that might be useful to know: I was never disciplined at my previous job, it was a complete surprise being let go. I had received praise from everyone up to the department VP. It had been pointed out I missed something but I was getting the vibe that they were happy overall. The current hiring manager who I will be doing my phone screen with used to work at my current organization. She was a gift officer here and I wrote reports for her. I’m not sure how this will affect things either now or further in the interview process.

    Sorry for the wall of text, thank you everybody for your help!

    1) How do I ask for time off to interview when I’m on a PIP when I already need to ask for two days off?

    2) How to explain being fired previously for poor work quality?

    1. misspiggy*

      I’m not clear whether you mean the PIP is you being fired, or whether you were fired from another job and are now on a PIP in the next organisation. If it’s the latter, I think you might want to try temping for a bit. This could expose you to different lines of work in case fundraising is not for you, and will give you a chance to build up a more solid work history. If you do want to continue in your current field, I think some soul-searching or career coaching would be needed to identify how you can change the behaviours that seem to be holding you back.

      1. BRR*

        Oops sorry.

        First job, intern 6 months, straight to permanent position for 6 months, fired no warning.
        Now on second job, 2 years in, starting PIP soon. Manager strongly wants me to succeed and I believe her (and that’s not me being oblivious).

        It’s been a battle with ADD/depression/anxiety and I finally seem to have hit a balance of meds that works for me. I like the suggestion of temping but fundraising is where I want to stay. I was planning on transitioning to a gift officer position at some point in my career and now seems like the opportune time.

      2. Anon369*

        Sorry to say, I agree with this. if I’m reading correctly, you’ve been fired from your first job and put on a PIP in your second job. At least in my line of work, that would indicate a not-great fit with the line of work.

        1. Folklorist*

          Yeah, but BRR said that those were caused by mental health issues that have been recently resolved. It sucks that things went down the rabbit hole and got to this point, but is great that things might be looking up.

          You can be good at the work but have a JerkBrain that messes things up. (My JerkBrain is awesome at that.) There’s nothing wrong with busting ass on a PIP while looking for another job–it’s smart, and not necessarily indicative that the job function is a bad one. BRR even said that s/he got praise for a lot of stuff in the PIP meeting, which is a good sign of fit and ability to move forward, even if it’s not in this particular company.

          1. BRR*

            I think Anon369 has a very good point but not being able to explain everything I think I have one more chance before reconsidering career tracks.

          2. Anon369*

            I hear you. I have a jerkbrain too (anxiety disorder). But as someone who has had to counsel a couple people out In recent years, I think you have to discount the positive things people say in a PIP meeting. Managers don’t want to be entirely negative so you try to give some good feedback too. But it doesn’t mean that I think they should be doing this job. The OP seemed to be taking a pretty rosy view of the feedback to me – for someone that seems light on track record (2 jobs, 2 negative employment actions).

            1. BRR*

              Maybe others have to discount them but I don’t think I do for multiple reasons:
              -My boss has no problem only offering things to improve on. She doesn’t do the compliment sandwich. It’s all straight up and factual, which is a reason I like working for her.
              – I have not had a rosy view on much. I have had a terrible view about basically everything. I have been such an anxious and depressed mess for the past 3 months I’ve barely been eating when usually I stress eat (at least that’s an advantage). I don’t think I’m just being optimistic about this.
              -First job was partially bad management and a toxic work environment. Somebody who was there for three years counted 44 different employees in an 18 person department during their time.

              I by no means think I am in a good situation. But because I am working my way back up from an anti-depressant that made me incredibly more depressed and nullified the effects of my ADD meds, I think I can pass my PIP and succeed in this field. While my track record is poor, I have also done a lot of good things and have not explored all area of fundraising yet.

    2. manomanon*

      I was theoretically on a PIP at my old job prior to being let go with a whole bunch of other people. Since I’d already been looking for jobs and we were relatively flexible I had a washing machine “break” twice and took a whole day for doctor’s appt (3 interviews) on a different occasion. They can’t be surprised that you’re looking if they’re putting you on a PIP.
      I managed to dodge the question on #2 but I would focus on the things you did well and say that the poor fit between the major gifts manager and you impacted the types of work you were doing so that there was no track record of excelling like there was with research. Fit the wording to your own situation but one thing I learned is that some people’s idea of poor work quality is more of a reflection of dislike than actual quality issues. Obviously there are a few things that you would need to work on but it sounds like you caught them before they impacted much or just couldn’t have known.

    3. Development professional*

      What’s the time horizon of your PIP? If you’re committing to it, and wanting to make it through, then you really cannot be asking for time off for almost any reason. The time horizon should be relatively short (2 weeks-ish) per Allison’s advice, so that’s just going to be a time when you can’t go to mid-day interviews. But some places might be willing to set times at very beginning or end of day to accommodate not missing work. Is this possible?

      Also, since this is my field I have to ask, if you’re good at research and didn’t have much success in major gifts, why are you applying to gift officer positions now? Those are very different skill sets, and it doesn’t sound like you have much/any solicitation experience? Just wondering about your path. Pretty much all development work is highly detail oriented. If this is something you struggle with, you might want to consider your pursuit of the field. Not trying to be unkind, just speaking from experience.

      1. Anony-moose*

        +1. I’ve been in development for a few years and it is SO detail oriented. And I get those same questions from the ED and Director of Development all the time. “What happened at xzy meeting and why isn’t it in this letter?” My boss has made it clear that our priority always is to make sure the ED has all the information she needs. So I’ve come up with processes for capturing all that elusive information so it can go in letters, reports, grants. It’s pretty grueling and I can’t imagine it being a good fit for someone who didn’t enjoy having an eagle eye for details.

        There is ALWAYS need for good researches in Development, though. I wonder if that’s not a good fit for another few years, and then slowly start getting some solicitation experience?

      2. BRR*

        First, I welcome any insight you could provide on the development field. I really appreciate you taking the time to weigh in.

        I think my PIP is going to be longer. I was previously on probation for 60 days and didn’t pass but I’m on the line of acceptable versus non-acceptable. I excel with almost everything but my main problem is with writing long research reports (boss’ words). It’s also the aspect of my job I like the least. I feel like a writer when I want to be more connected to the fundraising process. I know writing is important as a gift officer (and really most jobs) but my colleagues who are flourishing in this position are people who like to write reports, it doesn’t matter what the reports are on but they would enjoy it as long as they are writing reports.

        I don’t have any solicitation experience and minimal donor contact (I know that’s going to hurt me). I do think that I would do well in a gift officer role knowing what it entails though. My failure in helping with the major gifts person at my previous job was partially administrative and partially she didn’t have goals for me. Nothing came from me trying to establish goals or responsibilities with her except for her asking me to check endowment balances for donors, which we were not equipped to do at the time and were in the process of setting up a system to do that but it was a couple months until it was in place. So I was unable to meet the expectations she wanted due to it not being possible and also not meet the additional nonexistent expectations.

        As I reported to two managers 50/50, my research boss (who has 15+ years of development experience versus the 1 year of experience my other boss had) loved my work and work ethic and always thought I would eventually move to a gift officer role. She basically was my mentor about development as a whole and her idea was that after two or three years in that role I would move to a gift officer position at that organization.

        1. misspiggy*

          I wonder if you might also want to explore the community fundraising or campaign organisation routes? Being the person who organises community fundraising events or products, or who coordinates public mobilisation campaigns, can be great for dynamic people who aren’t into the detailed writing that comes with the more formal fundraising roles.

        2. Lia*

          As a former development worker, if you are looking to break into major gifts work, you might look at annual fund positions. I’ve known a number of people who got their feet wet in that area and then moved into major gifts. Donor relations or stewardship can also provide some contacts, but again, you are going to run into the details piece.

          That said, if you do not like writing reports, prospect research is not going to be a good fit. I myself am not a fan of overly long prospect research reports that have the prospect’s third-grade teacher’s name and favorite tv show in them — I think that the best gift officers can get the job done easily with a one or two page report — but that is NOT what a lot of leadership wants to see.

          1. BRR*

            Thanks for the annual fund tip. I have applied to a couple of annual fund positions as well. This particular MGO position is maybe not so major. 3 years experience and the amount to ask for is relatively low. Plus I know the hiring manager is awesome from when she worked where I am now. That was a major incentive to apply knowing my boss would be good.

        3. Calliope*

          I’m a little concerned by the way you’re thinking about your current performance problems. Whether you like to write reports or not isn’t really relevant to the question of whether you do a good job on them. Moving into a job that has more aspects you like may make you more happier, but it’s not going to make you better at proofreading, or ensuring that reports are accurate and complete, or avoiding whatever errors have led to your current PIP.

          Specifically, what are the problems that you’re having in your writing that have led to this PIP? Specifically, what’s your plan to fix them so that they’re not a problem in your next job? Any fundraising role is going to require writing skills and attention to detail.

          If you’re SURE you know what’s wrong and have a plan to fix it, so that you can hit the ground running in your next job and succeed, I think other people have good advice in answer to your questions. (And I’d suggest you not take two days off for your mother’s visit while you’re on a PIP, unless you’ve already decided you don’t want to keep this job.)

          If you’re not, I’d suggest you consider seriously the suggestion to spend some time temping or look for a job that keeps you in the nonprofit sphere but doesn’t require the same kinds of writing/proofreading skills. If you get another job in development and it goes badly, that’s likely to be your last chance at making this your career.

          1. AnonAcademic*

            Yeah, I find a lot of the writing I do incredibly tedious (doing literature reviews and reporting statistical results especially). I have to bribe myself to do it and pretty much hate every minute. Still managed to complete a 140 page dissertation that was at least ~40% lit review and ~30% reporting stats (and ~30% my own independent thought, that part was more fun).

            I will add, as the spouse of someone with ADHD, that his ability to motivate himself to do unpleasant tasks is basically nill without medication. I can actually tell when he hasn’t taken his meds because he drags his feet on everything. OP mentioned getting on the right meds helping…another interview line could be “I had medical issues that made concentration difficult, but those have been successfully treated now and won’t be an issue going forward.”

            1. BRR*

              Medication is a huge aspect. I had a really bad reaction to an anti-depressant and should have probably taken medical leave while I got it out of my system.

              There is a lot of talk about if I’m on the right career path and I really think I am (and I’m a person filled with self-doubt). My research boss at my first job was pissed they fired me and if I didn’t have the boss with no experience I would likely still be at that organization. My current boss named a lot of positives I bring but the way we are set up I just have to do a lot of writing. She even said if she could hire an additional person who was a writer, that there wouldn’t be a problem with me at all.

    4. Mimmy*

      Last week, you mentioned the possibility of disclosing ADD…I assume you decided against it?

      Not sure about #1, but for #2, I think talking about the job not being a good fit is the best way to go.

    5. LisaLee*

      For #2, could you say something like “The responsibilities of the role I was in were unclear, which often led to me not having the information I needed to complete my tasks well. I also struggled with copyediting our correspondence/publications, and that’s something I’ve worked on improving since I left.”

      I think the key is acknowledging both the circumstances that made it difficult for you to do your job as well as your own responsibility in not performing tasks to your manager’s specifications. If you’ve got specific examples of how you’ve tried to improve your skills since that position, you could add that too.

      I’m not in your field, but at my company a red flag for interviewees is when they can’t articulate *why* the circumstances leading to a previous firing occurred. Saying “I was fired because I couldn’t make enough chocolate teapots per hour” for example doesn’t say as much as “I lacked the sculpting skill to complete enough chocolate teapots per hour, but I learned that my real passion lies in packaging the chocolate teapots and not sculpting them.”

    6. Student*

      (1) Just ask for a day off. Don’t proactively offer up a reason for the day off. Don’t over-think being on the PIP. People take days off. You’re over-thinking this because you’re using the time to job search and you’re afraid that they’ll find out about that. In reality, people take days off for all sorts of things and most managers do not care at all about the details of those days off.

      Mentally prep a white lie if you really expect to be quizzed on the details – but that’s unusual. I suggest saying that you need to take care of a personal matter if someone asks. If pressed for details, “Thanks for your concern, but it’s a personal matter that I need to address.” Act like it’s something embarrassing, or hint that it’s embarrassing to discuss (as long as you think this technique will make people back off instead of going for the jugular).

      Also, I think it’s pretty easy to argue that by interviewing, you are committing yourself to NOT trying to go through this PIP. Obviously, I don’t have all the details. But, you should make this decision with eyes wide open – job hunting means you aren’t devoting yourself to your PIP and taking it seriously. You aren’t planning to succeed on the PIP. You are planning to avoid it by changing jobs. That may be a good call or a bad one.

      If this is the second job in a row where you’ve faced the possibility of being fired for poor performance, maybe it’s time for a little introspection on your part so you don’t just keep this pattern up.

    7. Addiez*

      1) Others may have more creative ideas, but honestly there isn’t a silver bullet here. I’d say have your mom cancel her visit for now, and do your best to schedule job interviews toward the beginning of end of the day. I’d sometimes say I was going to grab lunch or just sneak off to do phone interviews in my car, but in person requires a bit more planning.

      2) Hopefully they won’t ask why you left your last job, and definitely don’t bring it up. If they do ask, I would say something along the lines of you weren’t all on the same page about how the work was to be done and the office wasn’t good at communicating about it? That or something a lot more vague like oh there were a lot of reasons stemming from having a relatively inexperienced boss. Maybe others will have other ideas.

      1. Coach Devie*

        Why didn’t you just bring up your mothers visit (or bring up that you had something coming up end of July that was already on the calendar if you dont want to be specific) at the PIP meeting? It was something already planned and you knew you were be requesting off. Setting that expectation early seems like the right idea to me, thought I’ve never been on a PIP.I suppose you should say something now, rather than waiting until a week or two out.

    8. brightstar*

      Could you schedule interviews during your lunch to help mask the fact that you’re interviewing?

      Since part of your previous poor performance was due to mental health issues, I’d go with you had some health problems that have since been resolved and talk about which lessons you learned from the experience of your first job. How you would handle things differently now, etc.

    9. Thinking out loud*

      I try really hard not to lie about why I’m missing work (without actually saying I’m interviewing) when I have interviews. Can you schedule a doctor’s appointment on the same day as your interview and then say, “I have a doctor’s appointment [whenever], so I’m just going to take the entire day off”?

  18. SandrineSmiles (France)*

    Hi everyone!

    Silly question, I know. So as you know, I’ve been doing quite a few things videogame or Youtube related lately:

    – video game stream
    – Youtube videos (one of the channels is growing faster than the others and I might end up doing something good with it)
    – might soon be co-admin of a FB group that is videogame related (with over 14k people)

    Do you think there is any way to formulate this to put it on my resume… somewhere ? Or should I just make a “fun” resume to indicate what I’ve done in case I want to work on game related things in the future ?

    Thanks for any ideas you may have… including kicking my ass because I’m being too silly with that Youtube stuff :P

    1. Tagg*

      Do you get a revenue stream from your YouTube channel? That can absolutely be listed as a self-employed side job.

      1. Dasha*

        What about saying something like, “Well versed in social media outlets such as YouTube. Oversaw and managed YouTube channel with over 1,000 subscribers.”

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I was going to suggest something similar, and it might go in the Other Experience section–thoughts on that, anyone? It’s not a job per se, but it’s absolutely relevant if you’re applying for something where you’d need that skill set.

          1. SandrineSmiles (France)*

            No money yet, but some things have happened over the past few days that make me think it won’t be long. It seems silly to think of that at this stage, but I like the stuff I do so I just can’t help it.

            Thanks for the pointers though ^^

    2. Sabrina*

      As a fellow female gamer, I’m interested in what game, your YouTube channel, and FB page? Unless they are in French that is. LOL French wasn’t an option at my high school. :)

        1. SandrineSmiles (France)*

          Oh, and it’s a mix of Minecraft, Age of Empires 3, Sims 3, Roller Coaster Tycoon 3, World of Warcraft, Heroes of the Storm, Sonic the Hedgehog… and… huh… trying to vary the whole thing. LOL

    3. Liane*

      For the past 7 years, I have been (volunteer) Lead Mod for a podcast website’s forums. I put this on my resume all the time, in the job section. Position varied, depending on where I was sending resume but it used to be a separate job right under (now-former) Current Job. Employer was given as Game Company that owned website.

      With my latest resume, it is a line in (new) Current Job:
      Game Company, City, State.
      Copy Editor/Contributing Writer (04/2015 – present)
      Lead Moderator (09/2008 – present)

      Granted, I was only trying to get a pays-bills job in the short term, but it did that. And I am not “Horrors! Unemployed” red-flagged to decision-makers because I am paid for the writing. Plus, the CEO, who has always treated me as a valued part of the team, has agreed to be a reference.

    1. Anony-moose*

      I saw this during the week and just about DIED. Couldn’t wait to share it with y’all. Glad you posted this Lalaith!

      1. SaraV*

        I do also. :D

        And hey, if a job candidate came in and shared a KitKat with me as an interviewer, they’d nearly be a shoo-in with me.


        It would have to actually be Twizzlers.

  19. LBK*

    Question about perks: do you think it’s better to accept a perk even if it’s not something you’d particularly enjoy? My VP signed me up for a sporting event that I’m sure most people would find a great and unique opportunity (playing softball in our city’s very famous baseball stadium) but I’d describe myself as aggressively unathletic and would probably spend most of it embarrassing myself.

    Fortunately I have a good enough relationship with her where I felt comfortable saying on the spot that it wasn’t really my thing. She was totally understanding and said she’d find something else special to do for me, but it’s just got me thinking about turning down perks in general – on one hand, maybe it’s better to not bite the hand that feeds you, but on the other, it’s not really much of a perk if it’s more torturous than fun.

    1. Apollo Warbucks*

      “It’s not really much of a perk if it’s more torturous than fun.”

      I think that sums it up pretty well, if it’s meant to be a reward then what the point in going if you won’t enjoy it?

    2. GOG11*

      I think if you phrase it as something that isn’t a great fit for you and (where applicable) that you don’t want to take a slot from someone who would be thrilled to have the perk, that doesn’t look bad and it wouldn’t set a precedent that you don’t want any sort of company perks.

      If attending an event or taking advantage of a perk provides some sort of career or job benefits, I would consider taking advantage of it and just go into it knowing that, while some might find it fun or enjoyable, you’re there because it provides other benefits for you. To everyone else, you’ll be just another person partaking in the “fun,” but you might be able to deal with the less pleasant aspects by remembering why you’re really there.

    3. OfficePrincess*

      I’m solidly on team That’s Not a Perk. It sounds like you have a pretty good relationship with your VP and turning it down went ok, but it really is a know your office situation. This is also why companies should really stick to money and vacation time as perks. When it comes to most other things, one person’s idea of fun could be another person’s torture.

    4. Tomato Frog*

      I had a related issue a while ago — I took a colleague up on an offer only because I didn’t want to discourage such offers. In the end it caused both of us a few problems and didn’t really benefit either of us. I’m a big believer in never doing things ONLY because you feel you should oughtta. It almost always backfires for me.
      And also you just reminded me of that time in elementary school when the school achieved a charity goal and as a “reward” we all got to dance the Macarena at school assembly. Gah.

  20. Steve G*

    This week cemented my feeling that I was right to take the severance and not the job during my last company’s takeover (though long term unemployment sucks!).

    This week the newly created company took over yet another company. And lo and behold, a person from the taken-over company gets bumped up right to VP level. Employers from my original company – which was the biggest of the three – are all on the bottom rungs of the ladder.

    I am actually really happy to be out. If they are going for a bigger-is-better approach, they are in for trouble. What made our company successful was our tailored, hands-on approach. This isn’t financial services, this industry requires you to have relationships and contact with your customers. If you run it like a huge financial services company and automate everything (including customer contact) your customers will quickly and happily leave.

  21. Vacay Laday*

    I’m currently in an odd situation where I’m waiting for a manager. The plan to hire the person who will lead my new team has been put on hold until at least August. (It was supposed to happen earlier this year.) I do currently have a manager, with the knowledge that is it temporary until the new person comes in to lead our team.

    I am trying to plan a vacation to Asia in January, and want to buy tickets now to get a good fare. I should definitely have a new boss by then, unless they postpone it once more.

    Can I ask my current boss to approve vacation for a date when I won’t be on his team anymore?

    1. Ama*

      Yup, this is one of the reasons temporary managers exist — so normal office processes don’t have to wait around for a position to be filled.

      1. Sail On, Sailor*

        That’s really great! You might want to get something in writing, just in case.

  22. DMouse77*

    Just want to vent – my boss’s boss asked me to do a project for him this week. I specifically asked him when he needed it by, and he said “end of the week.” First thing this morning (as I was preparing an email to him with the files needed), he complained to my boss that it wasn’t done yet. She asked him why he told me end of the week if he wanted it sooner? He said that I’m usually so quick to get things done, that when he said “end of the week”, he just assumed I’d rush to get it done sooner. And, he also complained that we moved a bunch of boxes that were cluttering up the main part of the office, that people were tripping over, and put them in an unused side room. He is always complaining about weird things and it gets frustrating!

    1. Urban_Adventurer*

      That sounds like it falls under the category of It’s His Own Fault. :) Good thing your boss called him out!

    2. Ama*

      Aargh. I have dealt with bosses like that — the ones that fixate on whatever’s right in front of them instead of taking a moment to prioritize or think through context. My favorite one was the boss who used to regularly gripe the three times a year I ordered $40 worth of pens for the office, but when we needed a rug to absorb sound in a new conference room, nixed the perfectly serviceable all purpose rug I found for a couple hundred bucks and spent over $1000 on a fancy Persian rug. (Although the silver lining of that one was my direct manager, who was still new, finally understood what I was trying to tell her about the mixed messages I was getting on purchasing.)

        1. Ama*

          That place was so much more concerned with aesthetics than they were with practical day-to-day operations that it was kind of a relief when the rug episode happened and people who thought I was exaggerating realized I was not kidding.

    3. zora*

      ugh, I have worked with people like this, too. Why are people so weird??! And why does he think it’s better to complain to your manager instead of just coming to you and asking if you are done yet? But that’s awesome that your manager seems to have your back!

  23. Allison*

    I finally had the guts to tell my manager about how my coworker’s been treating me. I told her about how she doesn’t give me the information I need to do my job, how she asks me to do her admin work, and how she micromanages my tasks. I’d been hesitant to say anything, but I’d had enough, and luckily my manager agreed that her behavior is not okay. She said to tell her if this woman doesn’t improve in the next week or so.

    Today I got a really passive aggressive e-mail from said coworker, and I’m wondering if I should forward it to my manager. On the one hand it seems petty to complain about a passive aggressive comment and I hadn’t mentioned passive aggression before, but on the other hand I want to give her a clear picture of what’s going on. What do you guys think?

    1. Urban_Adventurer*

      I would wait the full week, then bring up the whole package of things that show she isn’t changing. Did your manager actually talk to her, or was she just hoping that your coworker would have an unprompted attitude adjustment?

      1. An Omnom Mouse*

        I dunno if she spoke to her, or will speak to her, she might be waiting to see if it’s an ongoing issue or just a period of bad behavior caused by stress.

        I’ve been documenting the things she says/does, in case I need it. I may also start putting some of her e-mails in a special folder.

      2. AlyInSebby*

        “I won’t bother to ask our -insert co-worker name here – because she’ll just tell me it’s on the intra-net (No, I didn’t think to try THAT first.” Got me put on a PIP for being passive aggressive.

      1. Steve G*

        I want know too! But regardless, I’d share it and say “yet another example of what we were talking about”

        1. Steve G*

          I was just curious, don’t need to know. I’ve scene passive aggressive emails and am totally not questioning whether it is or not, which is why I don’t think its petty to share.

      2. Allison*

        I’m not gonna share the exact wording, and I don’t feel comfortable explaining the context because it feels too specific to where I work. Do you need to know, in order to judge whether I’m overreacting?

        1. AnotherFed*

          Probably not. However, you’re already fed up with this coworker, so it’s easy to get into a mindset where you interpret their words and actions in a more negative way than you might if you didn’t know them or had a more neutral relationship. It sounds like you’ll have major things to discuss with your boss about this coworker, even at your next check in, so you need to make sure you discuss what really impacts your work – if this email isn’t evidence of that, then think twice about whether it’s worth it. On the other hand, if it’s a prime example of your coworker’s style of getting in the way and micromanaging, it’s critical to bring it up.

          1. Allison*

            True, I’m kind of at the “bitch eating crackers” stage, hence why my original post said I was worried it might seem petty to forward the e-mail. But if nothing else, I will bring it up in the next one-on-one meeting.

        2. fposte*

          To know if you’re overreacting? Yes, probably we’d need to know, but the question isn’t really whether you’re overreacting, it’s whether this should be mentioned with your boss. And I join those who say not now, but when you report back in general in a week or so this should be included in the discussion. It’s what the boss thinks that counts anyway, not what we think.

          1. Bend & Snap*

            I asked about wording because if it were really egregious, I’d share as an FYI. If not, just wait for the requested check in.

    2. Colette*

      When did you talk to your manager? If it was in the past couple of days, I’d say you could forward the email with the comment “This is an example of what I was talking about”.

  24. LizaNW*

    I’d be interested to know people’s thoughts on student government reps not doing their ‘jobs’. We’ve got a situation at my faculty (small faculty in a big school) where people have run for positions that involve sitting on committees (with high-ranking staff and faculty) and then don’t go to meetings or provide information to the student government as a whole. We’re looking at rewriting our Constitution to make this a ‘forced resignation’ offence but until that happens, what do we do? Talking to them doesn’t work, FB shaming doesn’t work either. (Only slightly kidding.) How do we get people to take these responsibilities seriously? It harms the integrity of student government when they don’t! Thanks.

    1. misspiggy*

      Threaten bad references? In the UK, student government posts often go to people aiming for a career in politics or government. Reports from their tenure are crucial for getting the key internships which can make their careers.

      If this isn’t the case, you could always sit each offending person down and find out exactly what’s going on. If it’s general laziness you could suggest they resign, but if study responsibilities are too much, maybe these roles need to be split between more people?

      1. LizaNW*

        I wish! This is a graduate faculty with no connection to politics, I doubt anyone would use this as a reference-gathering tool for a future career. More likely it will be on their resume as an activity even though they actually never went to meetings or did any of the things they were supposed to.

        One thing I know we can do is make it clear that if they can’t make a meeting, they can ask another member to go in their place. As long as someone else knows in advance, they can try to attend, but just not showing up for months at a time is not acceptable.

    2. Yoshi*

      If this is a pattern (and not the work of 2-3 slackers), I’d take a look and see what the faculty could do to make it better/easier for the student reps to attend, and to ensure that you’re attracting the right kinds of students to these positions in the first place. I’d review the materials to ensure the students running for these positions know what is expected of them, making sure to list job duties and expectations, making sure to emphasize the importance of the committee meetings, and draw a clear line of the benefits to the students (creating relationships with high level admins, duties that can be included on resumes, references, etc.). I’d also double check that meeting times are workable on a students schedule (i.e. not 8 am and not at 1pm when all classes are in session- consult your school’s class schedule), and I’d cut them some slack during midterms/finals. Finally, I wouldn’t use terms like “forced resignation”, but rather say they’d be removed from their position. Students who don’t have extensive office experience don’t always grasp the nuances of office speak- but they do understand being fired.

      1. LizaNW*

        Thanks for the feedback! I know at least a couple of meeting times were discussed (via DoodlePoll or similar) so student schedule feedback was solicited – though I don’t know how much of it was taken into consideration.

        One thing I know we can do is make it clear that if they can’t make a meeting, another member can go in their place. As long as someone else knows in advance, they can try to attend, but just not showing up for months at a time is not acceptable.

        1. Stackson*

          Sorry, just wanted to add that I totally read this as PoodleDoll initially. Threw me off for a second.

    3. Chickaletta*

      I’m curious to know the answer to this too. Only my situation involves professional adults. I admin a membership non-profit that’s governed by a volunteer board. There’s about 2 or 3 people on the board that actually do anything. We barely make quorum at the quarterly meetings. I do most their duties: managing membership, doing finances, coming up with marketing strategies, etc. It’s hard to get members to run for board positions, so most of them feel like they’ve done their duty just by filling in that seat! What can we do to get more involvement?

      1. zora*

        You’re not going to like my answer because it is “pay people to work.” I know it’s not that easy, but as someone who has founded and run volunteer orgs of various sizes, it’s just not a good long-term strategy to expect a lot of people to work for free.

        I’ll also point to my answer to the above comment, you need to recruit better. You should only have people on the board who are passionate enough about the org that they will participate at some level. This is just a very big issue that goes more to the heart of how you structure your organization, it’s not as simple as ‘getting’ people to be more involved, unfortunately. I would look more into governance structures and there are lots of websites and books out there about boards and volunteers. Sorry, wish I had an easy answer!

        1. Chickaletta*

          Thanks for your advice. Are there particular books or website you recommend?

          Unfortunately we don’t have the funds to pay these board an amount that would motivate them, but I’ll have to think if there’s some other non-monetary incentive we could provide…

          1. zora*

            Well it’s more that you come up with a long-term plan to get to the point where you can hire one person at the very least to do the most pressing tasks, and to be the coordinator of the volunteer folks so that you are giving them the amount of work they can manage as volunteers.

            Also just doing better outreach to get new board members that are invested enough in the mission that they *want* to do work. You just can’t force people to work if you are not paying them, there is no magic formula for that, unfortunately.

            As for resources, I can’t think of any titles off the top of my head. But I have found a lot of resources on board governance and more generally on nonprofit management by just googling. There is an organization called CompassPoint that gives trainings in SF but they have some good writing on line as well. The Nonprofit Association of Oregon (used to be TACS), I took a lot of classes there as well, but I seem to remember them publishing some helpful reports. BoardSource is another organization, their online offerings are limited, but this is their entire purpose. And have you looked into YNPN or CNRG, they are networks of nonprofit workers and have chapters in various cities. Plugging to a network locally can help so you have an email list of people to go to when you have questions, or who can suggest resources they have found helpful.

          2. MsM*

            I would actually suggest the reverse: do you have a give or get policy? That can be a good way to weed out people who aren’t actively invested in the organization and its work – and at least the ones who do nothing but write a check are contributing something.

    4. mskyle*

      Another thing you could try is requiring potential student leaders to sit in on X number of meeting before they’re allowed to run. Might help weed out the kids who just want the “achievement” of having been elected without any of the actual work.

      1. LizaNW*

        Good idea! We do encourage interested parties to sit in on our meetings before running but most people don’t and I don’t think we can require it. But we can more strongly urge people, surely.

    5. zora*

      I agree with the comment about making sure you’re attracting the right students to these positions. I was on a couple of boards in my college, and I wanted to be on them because I felt strongly about Things, so I would never have missed a meeting for anything in the world. I don’t think you can force someone to do something they are not getting paid for, but you shouldn’t be giving these positions to students who don’t care.

      Like I said, I always showed up, so I don’t know if there was a procedure for removing students at my school. But these were sought after opportunities, so if someone was not showing up to meetings there were other students who would have happily taken that position. But then, I went to a school with a very strong political culture, so a lot of us were very passionate about governance and activism and about our university. So maybe the population of the school is relevant here.

      1. LizaNW*

        Thanks for this. These are elected positions, so no one is ‘giving’ the position to anyone. People who take initiative to run are often acclaimed – very few spots are contested, again, we are a very small faculty.

        1. zora*

          Huh, this is weird then. I don’t get why they would do the work to run and then not participate. I think you might need to think about restructuring your system and how it works. If they don’t have to show up, I guess they just won’t. Are these committees doing substantive work, is there a point to these meetings? Pointless meetings are dumb, but I feel like people will participate if they feel like the work is important and useful for the school.

    6. Today's anon*

      At my place this would be something to bring up with student affairs – they often have the connections, know and work closely with student government but are in a friendlier place to have “the talk” with students. Sometimes students need to learn about following up on obligations etc.

      1. LizaNW*

        Thanks for the feedback! I don’t think this would work in this case (we are a graduate faculty so student affairs is pretty hands-off) but the wording about following up on obligations may be useful in future communications.

    7. AnonAcademic*

      Former graduate SGA eboard here. Write it into the constitution. Our org added an attendance requirement for clubs/departments to stay funded. No major attendance issues since (every year 1-3 clubs loses funding for poor attendance but that’s out of around 25 clubs/departments, and it’s handled very transparently).

  25. AGirlCalledFriday*

    I’m getting so frustrated waiting to be contacted about this potential job! I was told I would be contacted this week, and nothing yet. Normally I would just move on, but I’m attempting to career change into something completely different…and this position would actually be a stepping stone to that. The more I think about just applying to more jobs and hope something comes of it, the more I think that I might not enjoy my *new* career path. But when I think of something I probably would enjoy – HR work comes to mind – I’m not sure I can find a job like that unless I go back to school, which I can’t afford right now.

    1. Anonymousterical*

      I would give it a few days after they said they would be in contact, and then give your contact/interviewer there a call or shoot him/her a brief follow-up e-mail. There’s nothing wrong with that.

      FWIW, I had ten interviews in the last two months. Maybe I just totally suck, but all but two of them didn’t bother to call and say “ha, not you!” The two that did call had job offers. You’ll get there! :)

      1. AGirlCalledFriday*

        I already sent a short email following up and asking about their timeline. It’s a small informal startup, so I felt it would be alright to email now rather than wait though the weekend.

        They reached out to me specifically and I’m pretty sure that they aren’t interviewing other candidates now, that’s why I’m freaking out! I’m thinking…maybe they are just spending a lot of time discussing how much to pay me.

        Person 1: “Let’s pay her x amount.”
        Person 2: “Wait – remember she’s going to have a slightly different function, it doesn’t work with our pay scale for our regular employees. How about y?”
        Person 3: “AND she’s got a lot of experience and advanced knowledge, we need to pay her even more than that! Probably in the ballpark of z.”

        Annndd so on.

        1. Anonymousterical*

          Eh, I did hiring at a small start-up (it broke off from a larger firm), and I also did office management, handled 20+ very large/expensive liability cases, handled all IT and computer issues, was on the phone all morning telling hospitals and random companies 1,000 miles away about why I had a legal right to those records I requested 30 days ago, and was my boss’ go-to person for venting… Most days, HR stuff was the dead last thing on my list. I’m sure I made a lot of applicants nervous and/or mad that I took so long, but, seriously, at a start-up, there are a thousand and two things going on that shouldn’t be, on top of the thousand and two things that need to be taken care of on a regular basis. Give them time. :)

  26. Urban_Adventurer*

    Hey all! I would love some input on a dilemma I’m having. I started a new job less than 3 months ago, and I’m about 80% satisfied with it, but I’m pessimistic that I will be able to build a career in this field. It also has very poor health benefits and pays at the bottom of the range I was looking for.

    A little while ago a professional contact recommended me for a position in the perfect field, with enormous growth and skills development potential and about a 50-70% raise in pay. I know it’s a reputation killer to leave a salaried job so soon, but I decided the new job would be worth the sacrifice and applied. I have an interview next week!

    My question is: Should I mention that I am currently employed? The current job is not on my resume yet, so they don’t know that I am. I just finished grad school in April so the gap isn’t long enough to raise any flags. However, if I don’t disclose my current job and they find out later somehow, that makes me look dishonest.

    Would appreciate any input!

    1. NJ Anon*

      I probably wouldn’t. If they found out later I would just say I wasn’t there long enough for any impact.

    2. IT Kat*

      If they asked what you’ve been doing since you graduated, be honest (maybe with a disclaimer of “I’ve been working as an ____ (title), but unfortunately the job isn’t the best fit). But otherwise, you aren’t required to disclose every single job you’ve ever had, including the one you have now. It’s not dishonest unless you lie if they ask!

  27. Retail Lifer*

    My job hunt is still going poorly. I can’t seem to find ANYTHING that doesn’t require at least local travel on a regular basis. I take public transportation, which makes that a no go, plus I also have some minor medical stuff going on which just makes travel more inconvenient and uncomfortable. Is there such a thing as a job that doesn’t require any travel (except for the occasional training session)?

    1. sam*

      I think this really depends on the industry/type of work.

      Obviously the medical stuff is a separate issue that I don’t have an answer for here, but I live in a big city, don’t own a car and rely on public transit as well, but when I have to travel away from my office for my job, I fully expect them to cover the cost of transportation (paying for taxis, car service, airplanes, trains, or if I have to drive, paying for a rental car). I think this is a standard expectation in most/all professional environments outside of, say, food delivery (where you’re expected to use your own car).

      1. sam*

        To add: there are certain professions where you do use your own vehicle – my BFF from high school is a therapist who works in peoples homes – she uses her car to drive from location to location – but she’s also self-employed and takes all of the related tax benefits to using the vehicle as part of her business. But I don’t think that’s the situation you’re talking about here.

        1. Retail Lifer*

          Every position outside of retail that I meet the qualifications for seems to require at least semi-regular travel in your own vehicle. Public transporation and Uber can work for occasional travel but not for as much as everything seems to require.

          About the only jobs that I meet the qualifications for are in sales, recruiting, and college admissions but all of the postings specifyc regular travel.

          1. sam*

            but those are positions that, by their inherent nature, involve travel. Sales will necessarily involve either visiting customers or going to trade shows; recruiting and college admissions have their own similar “job fair” and “college fair” type programs, in addition to the necessary “off campus” meetings that are inherent in such positions. I still think it’s reasonable to expect travel to be covered/reimbursed in such circumstances, but I’m not even sure how to do such jobs without some level of travel involved, unless you only do admin/secretarial work in such a department.

            1. Pipes32*

              This is not necessarily true. I work a sales job and am an inside, or virtual, sales rep. I work from home 99% of the time. The rest of the 1% is when I go out of town for company-wide or team-wide meetings. These typically happen about 4 – 5 times per year.

              Now, keep in mind, I do not make as much as an outside sales rep. When they have a great year, they make 200k+; my great year is around 125k. (Their base to commission ration is skewed in favor of commission, mine is skewed in favor of base. So, a great year means a lot more commission for them.)

              The trade offs are worth it, for me, though. I love working from home. And even in a terrible year I’m making around 75k.

              As you may imagine, this particular industry (tech) is not easy to break into without previous rock star sales experience unless you are shortly out of college, due to its high salary, but the WFH sales jobs are out there for sure.

              1. Pipes32*

                Actually, I should also make mention of this. Tech companies themselves can be difficult to break into, but most of us sell through partners / resellers, all of whom have sales reps and most of whom have inside sales reps. These jobs are far easier to break into, which can often lead to a job directly with the tech company.

                Furthermore, we have had two people on our team who came into my company in an admin role, and later was able to make the jump to sales. Understanding the processes and procedures for our company was a big help, and they had a good sales personality. So, in companies that have WFH sales opps, if you are able to take a job working with the sales team in some capacity, that may lead you to a great job.

    2. Yoshi*

      I wouldn’t let this one little item prevent you from applying. I think a lot of people keep this in there as some stock language, and with many offices this wouldn’t be a problem. Once you get to the interview stage, then you can suss out how much travel is actually needed (and many times, I think they just want someone who can reliably get to work on time).

  28. AGirlCalledFriday*

    I’m considering going back to school to get a degree in international business. Does anyone know someone who does this type of work? I am just wondering if it’s the sort of degree that will end up not being worth it in the end. I would have to go to school overseas for it as I can’t afford to go in America.

    1. Retail Lifer*

      My boyfriend’s close friend has a degree in international business. I don’t know the specifics of what he does all day but he makes good money and he gets sent to other countries several times a year (mostly Turkey for some reason). I don’t think he’s making six figures or anything, but he makes more than the rest of our friends.

      1. AGirlCalledFriday*

        I wouldn’t mind the travel – I’ve lived overseas and traveled a bit. It’s part of why I’d be interested.

    2. Sunflower*

      I’d weigh an international business degree with the same weight as any generic business degree. If you’re interested in international business, I personally think you’d have much better luck obtaining an accounting or finance degree. The people I know who do the most international work are all in finance or accounting and some are in engineering.

  29. An Omnom Mouse*

    For those of you who get e-mails and InMails about job opportunities, do mentions of little perks about the office sway your interest at all? Part of my job involved crafting InMail templates and sending them out (personalizing them, of course, the template is mostly a company blurb and a brief job description), and my cowkorker is adamant that these templates should include mention of our beautiful new office with fully stocked kitchens, free snacks and coffee, a Starbucks and cafe onsite, a game room, etc. I’m thinking, these are nice, but they seem irrelevant when we’re trying to gauge someone’s interest in working for us. Personally, I care about where the job is and what I’d be doing, and I’d suss out things like benefits and flexibility in the phone screen, *and then* I’d get a sense of the office at the interview stage.

    The only office perks I could think of that people would care about would be things like public transit access (which we don’t have) and an onsite daycare (which we also don’t have) – things that would actually help with the commute and work/life balance. I’d rather not list the little things she wants me to include, and I’ve been leaving them out without saying anything. Should I explain to her that I don’t think it’s necessary? Should I ask my manager first, to make sure she’d back me up if it came to that?

    1. Karowen*

      I’m with you on this. That’s great stuff for the interview, but coming out of nowhere it almost sounds like you don’t have anything to recommend the job itself. Like “hey, you’ll probably hate the JD but we have other cool stuff so please come talk to us anyway!” I’d also worry that you’d be getting people who care more about the perks than about the substance of the work.

      From what I can see you have a few of options: 1, Ask the co-worker to explain her POV more in-depth and then explain yours as well and see if you can come to an agreement. 2, Continue doing what you’re doing (assuming that it doesn’t actually impact her). Or 3, talk to the boss to get her take on it and then adjust to that, giving you a fall back if the coworker complains about it.

      1. Allison*

        In addition to those concerns, I worry that people will think this is the type of office that people basically live at, like the Facebook and Google offices.

        1. EmilyG*

          Exactly… this would be almost actively a turn-off for me, if it were emphasized too much. Not just because I prefer to have some work-life balance, but also because I am a grown-up who can take care of my own food so I prefer not to be infantilized with a game room.

      2. Felicia*

        I agree with this. Usually when I see these kinds of perks, I assume that this is the best things they can think of to say about the job, which means the job isn’t very good. Also usually places that are super into these kind of perks have employees that never really have time to enjoy them.

    2. Judy*

      I’m assuming you have a link to your recruitment website in the email. It’s fine to have a list in there, but I’d not clutter an email with those things.

    3. LisaLee*

      I think that it’s a nice thing to include one line about if it’s actually a unique and substantial perk. “Free coffee” is pretty standard, and “nice offices” sounds like a bit of a stretch, but if a company offered something like free gym memberships, a day care, or reimbursement for public transit. It doesn’t sound like the things your office is offering rise to that level.

      1. LisaLee*

        Whoops, I meant I’d be interested if the company offered those last things. Brain glitch!

    4. mskyle*

      I think they’re interesting, mostly because they can be so telling… when a company tells me I should work for them because of their foosball table, craft brew taps, and Pizza Fridays, that sends up little warning flags for me. But I guess they must work for something.

      On the other hand, I super-appreciate the fully-stocked kitchen and free lunches I get at my current job. I appreciate the fully-paid health insurance and four-mile bike commute from my home even more.

      How personalized do you make these emails/InMails? At the risk of stereotyping I might promote the game room more heavily to a two-years-out-of-school software engineer or salesguy than I would to a mid-career manager.

      1. An Omnom Mouse*

        You’re right about the game room, it may be intriguing for younger people, especially if their profiles have any signs of nerdiness. But even then, I’d need to say more about it, because if someone cares about the game room, they probably care if our “game room” is a sad looking room with a ping pong table and some board games, or one with a flatscreen and next-gen consoles. But I wouldn’t promote the game room to everyone.

        I actually do appreciate the free snacks at work, but that’s me, and I think most offices have free snacks nowadays, and as much as I love pizza, the idea of free pizza wouldn’t compel me to switch jobs. The idea of getting to do what I do now, for more money and for a great team of people, is what I care about.

    5. danr*

      The problem is that those perks can disappear in an instant or are great distractions from really working. I’d want to know about the great PTO, percentage of insurance paid for by the company and sane work days. To me the extras scream nights and weekends spent at the office.

      1. Judy*

        But those other perks can disappear in an instant, also.

        I’ve been through major restructuring of PTO, paying more and much more of my insurance, and new managers that were going to “shake up” the team by making them work all the time.

        1. An Omnom Mouse*

          One great perk I did enjoy at my first job was getting a paid half hour off every Friday. Our work schedule was 8:30-5:30 every day, but on Friday they let us go at 5:00 and still paid us for 40 hours instead of 39.5. Would’ve been better if that half hour could be used at any time during the week, or added to PTO if it wasn’t used, but whatever. Then a new HR person came in, and suddenly that perk was gonzo. You could still leave at 5 on Friday, but only if you worked an extra half hour early in the week to earn it. It was poorly communicated too, which pissed me off, they basically attached it to a memo to managers expecting them to tell their teams, but my manager missed it and when everyone was talking about it, he had no idea what was going on.

          Any perk, whether it’s frosting on the cake or an actually useful, important perk that allows for work-life balance can be taken away at any time. I wouldn’t judge perks based on that. That said, the little shinies are more likely to stay because they’re easier to sustain AND they can distract people from a lack of good benefits. What’s easier? Giving people free coffee or matching their 401k? Not only is free coffee easier, but if someone complains that you don’t match their 401k contributions, they smile and say “but you have free coffee! doesn’t that even things out?” When I said I didn’t like my first job’s crappy PTO policy, I was told “yeahhh, but we get to work in the city and wear jeans on Fridays, and that’s pretty cool.”

  30. Anonymous Penguin*

    Next week I have an interview at a company that has a reputation for not valuing work/life balance. Given their reputation, I’m not sure how to ask my interviewer about work/life balance without seeming like I’m lazy or not a hard worker. I like being really challenged and busy at work, but I need to be able to disengage sometimes! Anyone have any advice on how to ask about this?

    1. Generalista*

      First, do you really want to work at a place that has a reputation for not valuing work/life balance? I currently work at one of these places, and the burn-out is terrible. People are miserable and some even have health issues due to the stress.

      I’d phrase the question as “I work really hard when I’m at work, and love having a challenging job, but I find it helpful to have some time to recharge a few times a year. How would you describe the work/life balance here?”

    2. Malissa*

      Ask the interviewer about their typical week. What kind of typical week do they see for this position.

    3. Anonymousterical*

      It has a reputation for a reason. I’ve ignored reputations at two companies, and I worked 65-75 hours a week for five plus years between them both and had a heck of a time trying to make time for interviews. I just got hired into Higher Ed and when my boss told me (over e-mail) that he expects me to make time for weddings and of course I can have the Friday of my first week off — I literally cried. I’m having to reset a lot of expectations and anxieties I have that come from exclusively working for death-march companies. tl;dr – choose wisely, and don’t ignore the reputation, because once you get sucked in, it’s hard to get out.

      I handled the work/life balance question in recent interviews by flat-out saying I voluntarily left my last employer because of the hours I was working, and then gauging their response to that. I’m going to be working for the place that had a panel of interviewers drop their jaws and erupt with, I crap you not, a litany of “OMG” and “HOW HORRIBLE!” Heh.

      I also really like the other scripts provided by Generalista and Malissa.

  31. Ali*

    Does anyone have any ideas to keep from getting overwhelmed in a new job? I’m not talking about imposter syndrome as much as I’m referring to how to stay focused when you’re getting a lot of new information and remembering it all.

    I started training for my pharmacy tech job this week, which involved sitting in a conference room with a trainer and reading material/watching videos. I still have several computer-based modules to complete and also have an on-the-job training next week. The program is said to be 16 weeks long, but I imagine I’ll be doing regular shifts in my pharmacy at some point. I passed the one assessment with a 100% on the first try (you had to get 100 or otherwise they would make you keep taking it until you did) and passed my second assessment to earn credit for the course. But part of me is still worried about succeeding on the job and wondering if I should’ve picked a shorter learning curve.

    I’m also still insecure about where I’m at. It seems like everyone else in my training class has their career planned out and I’m the only one still figuring out what to do next. I also still envy my friends who have professional jobs, nice salaries, health insurance and all that adult stuff while I get ready for a part-time job that pays less than $9 an hour. I’m still looking, but my area barely has any full-time jobs available, and now that I’m working, I don’t know how much time I’ll get to travel out of the area for interviews.

    How do I not lose my mind while all this is going on?

    1. Jillociraptor*

      The first few weeks (and often months!) of a job just are overwhelming. You’re already doing well and there’s no reason to assume you won’t continue, so I recommend you at least start from the assumption that you’ll do great if you continue to be as present and thoughtful as you have been!

      One thing that has been helpful for me when I’m trying to assimilate a lot of information is to talk to myself. In the shower, in the car, as I’m getting ready for bed, whenever–I imagine that I’m explaining part of my job to my mom, or getting asked about it in an interview, or, I don’t know, getting interviewed on CNN (most boring interview ever). For some reason, that really helps me to solidify what I’m learning.

      1. zora*

        haha! I do pretend interviews into the mirror all the time, too! I never thought of it as a genuine learning technique, but you’re right, I think it really does help. I often imagine I’m on Fresh Air with Terry Gross, though. ;o)

    2. Anonymousterical*

      Take notes off the Computer Based Learning courses and videos. Anything that makes your head spin in circles – write it down.

      Also, don’t compare your first draft to your friends’ highlight reels. I got into my first-choice prestigious company right out of college, with a 401K and health insurance and a shiny salary instead of a time card, and I was “I hope I get hit by a car before I make it to work” miserable. Not kidding in the least. I jumped from that job into a worse job, and now I took a 36% paycut to go be the bottom of the totem pole somewhere I’ll be happy. But, trust me, I wish I’d been the career marathon runner instead of the career sprinter who busted a knee halfway to the finish line. You can get there “screw everything!” fast, or you can get there in a way that lets you do right by yourself, you know?
      You’ll be fine. Good luck! :)

      1. Expendable Redshirt*

        It’s taken me eight weeks to get somewhat used to my new job. :/
        Feeling overwhelmed is a normal aspect of starting a new role. I found that acknowledging the emotion was useful. “Yes. I feel overwhelmed, but as I gain experience this will pass. There will soon I will feel competent.”

        Another phrase “You know enough about the job to survive today”. Yeah. I didn’t know everything. I wasn’t (and still am not) the most efficient at completing tasks. I reminded myself that I knew enough about my responsibilities that I would not utterly destroy the lives of my clients. Woot!

        1. Expendable Redshirt*

          + Points for writing things down. On a piece of lined paper. On a napkin. On the arm of the person nex to you.

          Wait … Don’t do the last one.

  32. Jude*

    Okay, I need some advise on this.

    I was working for an institution for two years, until I decided to head to a creative agency (which turned out to be a toxic environment) where I stayed for four months. After a freelance gig, I got into a six-month temp position.

    My manager has indicated to me that there will not be conversion to a perm role, so I am now thinking of looking for jobs again.

    How should I then explain the several short stint? Or should I completely leave out the job I’ve at the creative agency altogether and explain about the long gap on my resume?

    Any comment is appreciated.

    1. Sarah Nicole*

      But you only had one truly short stint, which was the job where you stayed for 4 months. The other was a temp role, and you can indicate that on your resume so it leaves no question. As for the 4 month position, I had the EXACT same situation last year. I left an awesome job for what I thought would be a great opportunity and it turned out to be a hell hole. When I interviewed for my new (current) job, I just told them they were moving in a direction that I didn’t think was a great personal and professional fit for me. It’s okay to have one or two of those in your job history, so I wouldn’t leave it off your resume at this point.

      Freelance, temp, and contract work are all meant to be short, so just note that on your resume and you should be golden.

    2. Anony-moose*

      You say creative agency. Are you in advertising/marketing? My other half is and my understanding is that this type of job hopping doesn’t raise as many red flags in the advertising world as it does in other fields. If you are clear on your resume that you were freelancing and temping, and working project-per-project I think you’ll be ok.

      1. Jude*

        I did more of a public relations/media relations role, though I dabbled in copywriting in the creative (or rather, a multi-modal agency). The institutional role I had was a corporate communications executive role, and I am thinking of going back to corporate comms.

  33. Lore*

    Resume question: at the end of last year, I got a promotion that amounts to an additional title being added to my previous title. So my official title now is “Title A, Title B.” It’s about 2/3 formalizing a lot of stuff that I’d taken on as my department’s workflow evolved but that didn’t really fit under the heading of Title A, and 1/3 new responsibilities. What’s the best way to indicate on a resume that I’ve had Title A for 6 years and now hold both Title A and Title B as of January? It’s easy to break out separate bullet points for each, but I was doing most of the things related to Title B before the new title became official, so I have more experience at them than would be indicated by “Title B: January 2015-present.”

    1. fposte*

      I would just put the extra responsibilities under the new title and not worry about the fact that they preceded them.

    2. EmilyG*

      I’m not sure this makes sense for your two titles, but I had a situation where I had an administrative title and later an academic title added, but I only had one job at the institution. I didn’t interview for a new position or anything. I put:

      Name of institution
      My administrative title, 2005-2012
      My academic title, 2010-2012
      -Bullet point list
      -Of things I did at the job

      Since there’s only one bullet-point list, I’m not separating out the duties into two jobs. The dates make it clear that I had the titles simultaneously. It sounds like that would be accurate for you too. I was afraid it would be confusing but no one has ever asked about it.

      1. Sara*

        I agree. About a year after I received some additional responsibilities, I started searching for a new position and marked my titles and the dates as EmilyG suggests above. But now that I’m several years out of that job (and have had two other jobs + grad school in my field in the interim), it just says “Title A, Title B, 2003-2007” (even though I didn’t get Title B until 2006).

  34. Ally*

    The thread the other day got me curious: What do you do at work when you have a lot of downtime?

    My work is dependent on the number of files an outside source sends me daily, so some days I don’t get a break and other days I’m done in 20 minutes! It can be pretty boring.

    1. Ama*

      I keep a running list of organizational projects or other non-urgent tasks that I can work on if things are really slow. One of my most recent downtime projects is writing a real manual for a number of processes I do that have previously only been documented in very broad outlines — I took over my job after a real-life “predecessor got hit by a bus” situation so I know better than most how inadequate our existing documentation is.

    2. Camellia*

      Aside from reading AAM? There are a lot of free on-line courses. For short stints I might look up a new function to learn in Excel or how to create a perfect three-fold brochure. I don’t worry if it applies to my job RIGHT NOW, just if it is fun or interesting. There are also free courses on lots of other subjects; if you can find something that applies to your job or to a job you might like to have in the future, great! Or look for white papers in your area of interest. Look around at other jobs where you work – any cross training opportunities? Doesn’t have to be formal, maybe just say, “Hey, could you show me how to do [that] sometime?” Update/polish your LinkedIn profile and/or resume.

      Create a perfectly tailored grocery shopping template that’s easy to use. Plan menus for the week. Plan DIY projects for around the house Find new recipes on the Food Network site (or any other). Research a new hobby/pursuit.

  35. Katie the Fed*

    Husband the Fed and I just closed on a house that’s actually big enough to host people!

    I was thinking of having a party/barbeque for my team – is that a good idea or does the idea of going to the boss’s house seem dreadful? The team has great camaraderie and they hang out at happy hours and such, and I thought it might be nice for them to bring spouses and kids – we have a nice playground as well.

    Thoughts? advice?

    1. Ella*

      Require your team to attend and ask them all to cook for you. Promotions are available for the best cooks.

      1. Katie the Fed*

        I like where you’re going with this, but I also need my car washed and my dog walked. Any ideas?

        1. Malissa*

          A point value system for all the things that need to be done. Promotion going to the one who gets the most points. Spouses and kids are welcome to help the employee earn points.

      2. Another Attorney*

        When I was researching ideas for my upcoming housewarming party, I literally found suggestions for having a “painting party” where you’d ask your guests to paint a portion of a room. ACK.

        1. Nashira*

          You can tell I’m detail oriented, because my first thought was “but then the paint would be patchy and uneven!”

          God, that would drive me crazy.

    2. Bend & Snap*

      It really depends on the boss. I’ve done this where it was awkward/a chore, and where it was fun. If your team already has a great dynamic it seems like a solid idea. If not….eh.

      The other thing to consider is any perceived major disparity of wealth. I’ve seen this happen where employees were resentful that the manager could afford a really nice place…tends to happen when people are unhappy with their salaries.

      1. Journalist Wife*

        +1 – This was exactly what I was going to bring up. It seems like it could be perceived by some as a “Hey, people who are below me on the corporate ladder — come see this great new house I was able to buy since I am the boss!”

        That being said, I think it could be helpful to test the waters with something outside the normal team/group party by volunteering to throw the next baby shower or similar event that already has a built-in function outside of just gathering your team to enjoy your new digs. I will admit I have been invited to things before by bosses who meant well but were just so out-of-touch that showing off their beautiful homes made me want to quit and then go home and cry at the disparity. Usually because they were right after/before everyone except the bosses got crappy raises and were told that was all the company could afford but we were the best employees they could ask for, etc., etc…

        Depends on your relationship with said teammates/employees, and what precedents your office has (have previous bosses hosted parties for their employees at their homes? How did it go?)

        Best of luck, and congrats on the new house! (I genuinely mean that!)

    3. AnotherFed*

      Borderline – if you weren’t the boss, I’d say it’s a great idea. If you think your team would get that it’s totally optional and you don’t want housewarming gifts, and you don’t have to worry about how to make any contractors on your team feel included but not required, then it’s a good idea.

      Personally, even though I have a very close team, I would be wary of going to the boss’ house – it’s totally different from going to happy hour or doing charity dodgeball or any of the other team activities we do in neutral spaces. What if I accidentally broke something? Or there’s an unexpected pet? Or worse, I have to figure out how to talk to the boss’ small kids and not accidentally teach them words/actions that are banned in their house?

      1. Katie the Fed*

        Hmmm good point. I wouldn’t call it a housewarming – and definitely specify no gifts. I could warn them about all the pets. Luckily, we don’t have kids – just a kickass playground.

        1. AnotherFed*

          Warning people about pets is helpful in case of allergies or childhood phobias or cats who like to sneak attack people.

          Is your kickass playground open to more grown up children? At least for my team, you’d sell us on this being fun and all with playground supersoaker/water balloon fights.

    4. Another Attorney*

      Each year one of my bosses hosts a holiday party at his or her house. It’s always great fun, and no one thinks about being at a boss’s house after a couple of minutes. But, we are mostly actual friends. I think it depends a lot on the culture at your workplace. If they seem to enjoy hanging out together (with you there, too!) already, then I lean in favor of doing it. It’s a generous and fun thing, I think.

    5. IT Kat*

      Depends on the team. Like others have said, I’ve been on some teams where it was awesome and others where it was a chore.

      You surely know, but make sure to press it home that it’s optional. :)

    6. Colette*

      I’ve gone to events at my manager’s house, and it’s been fine. The key is to make it clear that it’s optional, and to invite everyone (and spouses/kids).

      (And congratulations on the house!)

    7. AGirlCalledFriday*

      I think you just have to really know your team for this. I personally wouldn’t like it because it would feel like work to me – I’d feel compelled to attend even if I didn’t want to, I wouldn’t feel comfortable letting loose with the boss around, and I just really enjoy having time away from work being fully away from work. That’s different for me than going out with coworkers or team members, who can cross into friends. Also – if it’s people from work, even if its at a private, after hours setting, it’s still a *work* event and can be treated as such.

      Of course, maybe you have a team that would absolutely love this too. If you aren’t sure, is there someone on your team you can sort of mention it to?

    8. mskyle*

      I think location of your home and timing of the party really matters too – happy hour after work at a bar near work is very different from a Sunday afternoon party at someone’s house that’s in a suburb on the opposite side of work from the suburb where I live and it’s going to take me 45 minutes to get there…

      1. SaraV*

        I was just going to post the same thing. At least, are you fairly centrally located for your team? Will someone have to drive two hours to get there?

    9. Apollo Warbucks*

      I like th idea. My boss does a summer bbq for the team and we all love it. No was is forced to come everyone’s families are welcome which is nice.

    10. hermit crab*

      One more data point — my manager did exactly what you are describing and it was lovely!

    11. Merry*

      it sounds pretty dreadful to me, but I’m not the type to go for happy hour either.

      If you do go ahead, please make sure it’s extremely clear that it’s optional, and that you won’t hold it against anyone who doesn’t attend, even a little bit. (And if you can’t be absolutely sure you won’t, don’t do it.)

    12. AvonLady Barksdale*

      It’s really a “it depends” situation, but I’ve gone to several parties in bosses’ and superiors’ homes and they’ve been lovely. I don’t resent it when the boss has a nicer house because… that’s the boss, who makes more money than I do. There was one time we all shlepped to CT for a party in an SVP’s house, and the place was huge, stunningly gorgeous and completely empty. We all walked around in awe of it but also rolling our eyes at Mr. Consummate Bachelor who can’t even be bothered to hire a decorator– but who has a wine fridge in his bedroom. (I am super nosy when it comes to other people’s houses.)

      Of course, make it optional, insist that people do NOT bring anything, have plenty of food and drink available and you’re good. :)

    13. Kirsten*

      We do this every year with my team around the holidays and it’s always really fun. This past year we added a secret Santa gag gift which was great.

  36. Ella*

    A question about references: a month or so ago, a person that I work with sometimes (they work all over the public library district that I work in, and come in contact with a lot of people) heard that I was applying for a position and offered to put in a good word for me with the hiring manager (who is the supervisor of a particular branch in the district). She wrote an email to that manager and cc’d me on it just so I’d know what was said (but of course I didn’t have any input into what she said, I was enormously flattered and grateful that she did this on her own time). I didn’t get that position, so I’m still applying to openings in my district. Can I use this written reference at all? It feels weird to print it out and bring it with me to interviews (that’s not how my district does references), but maybe I could. It feels intrusive to ask her to continue to email hiring managers (each branch manager is also their own hiring manager, so unless I apply at that branch again nobody will see the reference she wrote). Either way I would ask the coworker what her preferences are, it just feels wasteful to be sitting on this really nice letter of reference that nobody will see. (I believe she had previous work history with this manager which is probably part of why she offered and felt it would be helpful.)

    1. Nachos Bell Grande*

      Maybe ask her to publish it as a recommendation on your LinkedIn, if that’s in use in your industry?

      1. Ella*

        That’s not a bad idea. I have a LinkedIn profile, and there’s a link to it on my resume, but I’m not sure how often people in my district check it. But if the coworker doesn’t mind, that’s probably not a bad place to put it.

    2. Generalista*

      I wouldn’t print it out and take it around to other hiring managers–it was an email she wrote specifically to one person, so it would be kind of strange to use it as a reference letter. I would just contact her, thank her for the reference, let her know that you’re still applying to openings in the district, and ask her if she wouldn’t mind writing a recommendation letter that you could use in the future.

  37. OfficePrincess*

    I’m currently at a point (again) where everything I need to do is dependent on getting information/reports from someone else first. I can’t be the only one in this situation, so I was wondering what everyone else does in this situation (besides check in here)? I can only clean my desk so many times and don’t want to look like I’m slacking.

    1. FJ*

      I am in a big company – often relying on other people to provide info. But I often have enough other things to work on that I can juggle my schedule around.

      Not sure what sort of work you are waiting on…
      I like using the “I could really use your help with x…” phrase when I’m talking to other people. Or, convey some sense of urgency without crisis… “Can I get this in a day or two…”

      Or, depending on how important or what it is – ask if you can work through it together. Often, my work requires getting other people to agree with me, so going through the exercise of writing and reviewing the document/spreadsheet/flowchart together is really helpful.

    2. Renee*

      I often take online courses and I sometimes work on those. If they’re skills I can use on the job, I figure it’s better than sitting there doing nothing. I’m not sure what is out there for free. I have a subscription to a company that provides training through my work, and I take classes on my own through ed2go. I’ve taken accounting classes and classes on different computer applications. Currently I am taking a class on WordPress.

  38. AnotherFed*

    There’ve been lots of annoying (or worse) coworker stories the past few weeks. Has anyone had good experiences or just gotten lucky in turning an annoying coworker situation around to the point where you can work with them without being annoyed?

    I’ve got one coworker who has always had very strong opinions and hasn’t liked to admit when evidence no longer supports those opinions, and I tend to have strong opinions of my own. I actually like this coworker a lot, but we don’t work together well – he and I used to regularly get sucked into debates even if the disagreement wasn’t relevant to the main point of a meeting or project, and once we start on one thing it’s like we can’t even agree on what the date is. I’ve been really working on letting points go when they aren’t worth pursuing, and toning down the way I phrase questions to make it clear that it’s a request for info rather than an invitation to debate, and I suspect he’s been trying as well. End result – working together this week, we’ve managed to stay on topic and accomplish what we needed to, and only had one disagreement that took up time, and it was on topic to boot!

    1. puddin*

      Hmmm, sort of. I have a co-worker who fires first, aims second. Causes a lot of panic and chaos, not to mention re-work. He is not a bad person, nor is he dumb. But man I wanted to scream,”Do you know what you have just done!!??” more than a few times at his face.

      In order to address this, I did something that I don’t know I would advise anyone else to do. I took a couple minutes at the end of a meeting we were both in to let him know that he has really stepped up his game since he first came aboard. I said that I could tell he is more comfortable in his role and is less reactive and more calm these days. Which was kind of true, but not entirely. However, I did want to acknowledge the improvement while still communicating that he had/has these habits. I also let him know that I too have gotten my sea legs (we both started our roles about the same time) too and its nice to feel more adapt isn’t it?

      He appreciated the mention and seemed genuinely pleased while also thoughtful about what/how I mentioned his work habits. In the end, he does not react that way with me at all. He still does with others. (His boss is sort of that way too, so there is a cultural legacy there that is not going away any time soon.)

      The recipe:
      Be charming and smile
      Self deprecate
      Honestly complement (I did exaggerate though)
      Be sincere in your internal desire to elevate everyone’s performance and that will show through

      I am glad to hear that you got things moving past your differences, well done!

    2. Ama*

      When I was in university administration, I worked with a few faculty members who started out pretty annoying (asking for help with things they should have been doing themselves, *not* asking before doing something against policy that caused a massive headache) — and I found that being patient with them, explaining clearly why things needed to be done a certain way, and really listening when they explained to me why they had done what they did really helped.

      With one particular faculty, it turned out he’d previously worked in a university system where the admins really did take care of every little thing — once he understood what I actually could help him with and what he needed to do on his own, he became one of my favorite coworkers.

    3. afiendishthingy*

      Sorry, no. Once I’ve come to the conclusion that coworker (or whoever) is annoying, maybe I can have a brief interaction with her every now and then in which I don’t want to duct tape her mouth shut, but the overall trend is still that I get progressively more annoyed by her the more time we spend together. But I’m hoping to become a bigger person one of these days.

    4. NicoleK*

      I posted my story near the bottom of the thread. I don’t like the annoying coworker and haven’t liked her from day one. Though I think I’m growing indifferent to annoying coworker. It’s been a work in progress. Alot of venting and journaling helped me to cope.

  39. Computer Guy Eli*

    Does a fella have a chance at getting a position as a developer if they self-taught themselves programming?

    I’m looking into learning Java but since the only place for formal education (in programming) in montana is halfway across the state,so my only option is self-teaching or online college, and I am in a bit of a financial pickle as I’m sure some of you know.

    1. Cheesy Potatoes*

      I’m trying to hire a developer right now, and all I care about is 1. Can he/she make the things happen that I need to happen and 2. Is he/she going to flake out on me halfway through like the last guy. I’m sure that’s not universally the case, but if you learn real hard and avoid being a jerk, it’ll get you far!

    2. Apollo Warbucks*

      I taught myself SQL, vbscript and HTML (as well currently learning C# as well ) and managed to get an application support job / system analyst role whilst I’ll never be a developer I writing code every day, but only for small projects and tools and reporting purposes.

      I’ve had a positive reaction to my CV and skill and it hasn’t stopped me getting interviews and jobs if you can point to projects that have used your skills and demonstrate what you can do then you should be fine.

    3. AGirlCalledFriday*

      Yes, you absolutely can get a job. I’m attempting to do this right now, actually. I’ve taught myself HTML/CSS and JavaScript. Most companies I’ve seen don’t particularly care HOW you learned, they mostly care if you actually know your stuff.

      Also – I was approached about a position and I was just freaking out about knowing enough JavaScript, etc for the role, and it turns out that they are specifically interested in my education background. Go figure. Anyway, I’d suggest that you work on a project for yourself or a friend so that you have something to show. That seems to be pretty important.

    4. Christy*

      Yes, definitely. Just make sure your skills are acceptable. It’s hard for me to imagine anyone caring at all, actually.

    5. Lia*

      My ex did. Was completely self-taught — had an overnight desk position at a hotel and was able to use the computer there to learn Java, C++, html, and a bunch of other stuff I have forgotten. Has been steadily employed in programming for 15+ years now, all without a degree (although that lack of ANY degree has hurt in some opportunities).

      1. KuroNeko*

        I think it’d be useful if you had possibly a small portfolio of projects. Show that you’re able to answer technical questions, that you know what object oriented programming is. Address it in your cover letter. Show that you have skills, and the ability to self teach yourself. (Pretty much the fundamental skill for anyone in programming)
        IMO, You might have better luck starting at a smaller company.

    6. CA Admin*

      Getting a job after being self taught is hard because you’re not going to know a lot of the norms and conventions that make code easier to scale/build-on/maintain. I’d use your self-taught knowledge to work on a recognized program–boot camp, community college class, certification, etc. It’s hard to hire a person who’s never worked on production-level code AND doesn’t have some official education.

      My husband is a developer who studied something totally different in college, learned Python in his free time, wanted to change careers, and ultimately had to do Dev Boot Camp to be taken seriously in job interviews (or even get them in the first place). He recommends Bloc–it’s an online boot camp, so you can do it remotely while maintaining your primary employment. They also provide the same level of mentorship that regular, in-person boot camps provide, so you’re getting feedback and help throughout the process.

      1. AGirlCalledFriday*

        Dev Boot Camp is like 12 grand though. Prohibitively expensive though if you can do it, you can get great results.

        1. CA Admin*

          Yeah, and it requires that you move to an expensive city (SF, NYC, or Chicago) and not work while you’re attending. So more like $25k at least. And they got bought by Kaplan last year, so the quality has really gone down–I don’t recommend that path for anyone these days.

          That’s why I suggested Bloc. Still like $5k per course, but you can do it at your own pace, in your own home, while working at your job. It has the same mentor system, but doesn’t require the same level of cash outlay. Spending some money will be required no matter what–certifications, college classes, and boot camps all cost money. That said, they make it a lot easier to actually break into the field, so it’s a worthwhile investment.

          1. AGirlCalledFriday*

            Really? I checked out Bloc, it looked awesome. It was priced at $9,500, but maybe that’s if you take the entire thing? Can you take the courses sort of piecemeal? I’m trying to career change to front end development and something like this would be super helpful to me. It’s tough trying to learn this on my own.

            1. CA Admin*

              Yeah, that’s the price for the entire program–$5k is for individual courses. And it is awesome! I know a few people who work there and they love it. They’ve got a lot of really great mentors and the training program is excellent. The software also functions well because they put a lot of time and money into the engineering department.

              Best part? They stand behind their education–they’ve hired junior developers from people who’ve taken their courses because they actually have the skills to be programmers.

    7. CAA*

      The problem is you need to be able to demonstrate that you know your stuff. If you have no formal education to put on your resume, then you’re going to need a portfolio. Have some stuff on GitHub, contribute to an open source project, maybe build a site that does stuff and host it on OpenShift … something.

    8. Treena*

      Yes! My husband has a degree in a completely unrelated field, ended up working in retail. He hated it, so he saved up thousands of dollars living at home, then quit his retail job and took on a lot of crappy, free/low-paid web gigs. He worked a data entry temp job to earn some money, and later was a contractor for a retail business who needed a system to track their product, but he also did a lot of stuff to build up a portfolio which is KEY. He made simple websites for local businesses, an older guy who had a lot of ideas for new businesses that were in fact, crap ideas, would “hire” him to make websites for them (he paid him in stuff like a bike and easy chair). But he took each and every shitty job to build up his portfolio.

      He ended up doing an online certificate program at a for-profit place, and he regrets it (they taught him nothing new). That’s part of how he landed his first, FT Junior Developer position. He went from Jr to Sr in 5 years, but that was after 4 years of teaching himself/grunt contractor work. All 9 of those years he went to meet-ups, read coding books, etc. He’s never stopped self-teaching, because while a degree gets you into a job, you need to keep up with new stuff to stay relevant.

    9. I'd blacken his room*

      I’m sorry to tell you this, but at my company (a fortune 50 IT outfit), it would be very difficult to even get your foot in the door. Almost all of our new hires these days come from the pool of summer interns – who are typically 3rd year college students.

      I’m even sorrier to tell you that my personal experience has been that the college degree really does make a difference. About 10 years ago, under unusual circumstances, I got a friend hired at our Israel research facility as a ‘domain expert’ – and it simply did not work out: my friend simply did not have the chops or the necessary work ethic, and his/her boss and other people would not take him/her seriously. Eventually they had enough and quit.

      My friend was unhappy, and so was I: I had hoped they could at the very least pick up a nice item on their c.v. that might bootstrap them into a career. Instead, my friend went back to living at home and working at their family business.

    10. Just look at them and sigh*

      Hi again, Eli – I was thinking about your situation. This is perhaps hopelessly naive, but I know several people who have vacation / retirement properties up there. I’m wondering: is there any market for outfitting such houses with Internet cameras (and perhaps monitoring)? The idea is: it’s your own business, you network / schmooze with realtors and such to get work. For all I know, the market is saturated. But even if it is, you might be able to draw business based on personal service / superior knowledge of the tech.

  40. squids*

    I’m about to go off for probably 6-7 weeks of planned medical leave.

    Always thought I would not be that person worrying about the office while I was away … but I am. All this week my colleagues have been asking me questions & advice about various things, that they probably should actually know or be able to figure out on their own. They should be fine without me, but they’re not acting like they will be. Hopefully this is last-minute nerves & overthinking.

    Meanwhile I am trying to get through a whole lot of stuff and package it off into simple tasks that the summer student they are apparently going to hire while I’m away can handle with basic supervision.

    What else do I need to get settled by the end of the day? What am I overlooking?

    1. Colette*

      Have you written things down – if not “how to do X”, then “when I run into problems with X, I talk to Sam” or “when Y happens, I consider A, B, and C”?

    2. fposte*

      I think they’re mostly going straight to “OMG this is my last chance to ask squids!” rather than thinking first if they could figure this out on their own. (And I tend to think it’s good that they’re a *little* panicked–it keeps you from worrying too far in the other direction, that they’ll never notice you were gone.)

      And I hope your medical stuff goes swimmingly.

  41. Meg Murry*

    8 years ago, I was told to learn more about a small subset of my job/industry. I had a good mentor teach me the basics and I got a good textbook and found I really liked the topic, but didn’t get to use it much.

    Fast forward to today, and I’m working on a big project (with more to come) making this subset a major part of my job, and I’m loving it. Broke out the same textbook, and new boss is serving as a great mentor to me on the project. And I just used the Somebody-Someone equation in a sentence like I knew what I was talking about – and I actually did know (at least sorta)

    Lesson: careers are long, and things you learned years ago can come back around to help when you least expect it. Total example of the quote: Luck is when opportunity meets preparation.

      1. Meg Murry*

        A stand in for a real equation using 2 people’s names. Pretty much all math and engineering work have these 2 name equations that you learn about in school but no one uses in real life other than heavy duty researchers. In this case its an obscure formula for my sub-specialty, and it would out my industry and subspecialty, if anyone here actually knows about it. For instance, in fluid dynamics a big one is the Navier-Stokes equation.

        1. puddin*

          Aaahhh. Something like this?

          ‘The Guinness-Jameson equation will help to elevate mood along the normal curve until you hit the porcelain throne of resistance’.

  42. Brett*

    So, a couple of weeks ago I mentioned how a dream job opened up on the other side of the state, but we cannot move there because my wife already has her (very rare) dream job here.

    The hiring city contacted me directly (specifically, mayor’s business director contacted me) to let me know the posting was extended and to see if I wanted to talk to them about the job. Residency is required incidentally, but this actually pays nearly double what I make now. This is kinda killing me.

    I wrote them back with my situation, but asked them if I could learn more about the position so I could figure out how to advocate for a similar position here, and they still want to talk to me. I’m just trying to figure out what to ask about and how to go about this to help me but not waste their time. (I actually have a feeling they want to pick my brain for potential candidates. Unfortunately, the best local candidate I could have recommended to them just moved away three months ago to take a similar but higher profile job out in San Francisco.)

    1. Brett*

      On the brighter side….
      I got a personal email yesterday from a white house rep congratulating us on the MacArthur grant we just received. That was pretty cool.

    2. Camellia*

      Oh, those heart-breaking dream jobs. My husband had to turn down a job offer from MajorGamingCompany, that included a ginormous salary, full relocation costs, and sending/paying for him to go to school for their training. It started with a survey that he took, which led to several phone calls where they picked his brain, which let to the offer.

  43. Anon365*

    Beloved co-commenters, I am looking for sympathy and advice, and I apologize in advance for the giant wall of text. I’ve been working part time for a really great company for a couple of years. It’s not been a by choice part-time job – It’s that there hasn’t been enough work for me. Being a contractor is great that way.

    Suddenly, things are changing. I’m getting more work. I’ve worked as many hours so far this month as I did in the previous two months. I’m leading six different projects, while also acting as a contributor in several of them. I’m doing some things that are beyond my technical ability. I am completely overwhelmed even though I’m not putting in an excessive amount of hours, I still hit barely 30 hours most weeks, it’s just that these are all high-intensity hours that leave me really stressed out. My hours ebb and flow (2 hours one day, 10 hours the next) because I can only drag myself out of bed and force myself to concentrate on this monolithic work pile some of the time. I feel like an awful underachiever and like I belong folding jeans at the mall because that’s a level of pressure I can handle. I’m ashamed of myself for being so incapable of managing work I’m smart enough to do, and I feel like a jerk for complaining about how ~*~hard~*~ I have it when plenty of people scrub toilets 60 hours a week. I’m so afraid to admit any of this that I’ve been staring at this comment box for twenty minutes.

    I’m scared to look for a new job, because it’s going to be at least a 40 hour a week commitment, and if I can’t handle this, how can I handle that? I’m scared to tell my boss I’m overworked because then I won’t get enough hours to live on, and I’m trying to get hired as a W2 employee so I can afford insurance to address my health problems. (And yeah, if I’m consistently weeping into my inbox, I could probably use some mental help too.)

    What do you kind folks recommend? Thank you in advance for reading <3

    1. Steve G*

      It doesn’t sound necessarily like a bad thing though you’re framing it that way. Some people would look at this as a chance for growth.

      Would it help if you had more hours or steady hours to handle the work, since your apparently thinking about it outside of the job anyway? Maybe you just have a sit-down with your boss about “how does he/she think things are going” without an agenda and not mention your feelings?

      Also, I know you were kidding about the jeans, but just remember, even retail can be harder these days….you may have a sales quota (no commissions of course), have to sell store cards, collect customer addresses/emails, and may be sent home really early if business is slow!

      1. Anon365*

        It’s definitely a chance for growth, and that’s why I haven’t just fled. It’s just that it’s making me feel awful all the time. I think you’re on to something though. I need to figure out a way to bill for worrying hours instead of worrying for free.

        I hear you about retail being not much easier.. I’ve been there! But my analogy really comes from the fact that I would be a substantially less important cog in the wheel. Clients worth zillions of dollars to my company depend on me. But if I were folding pants, all I’d have to worry about is me and my loyalty cards.

    2. Amtelope*

      It sounds to me as if the issue is less that you’re putting in too many hours than that there’s too much work for you to do in those hours. As a contractor, sometimes you have to push back against unrealistic expectations and say “Hey, I’m available to work 30 hours a week on this, but I’m being handed more than I can reasonably do in 30 hours. Can we prioritize tasks X, Y, and Z so that I’m putting my energies in the right place?” And/or, “Given the amount of work we’re now doing on X, Y, and Z, I’m going to need to work 40 hours a week to cover all of those. Is that okay with you, or should I focus on doing just X and Y?”

      1. Anon365*

        You’re right. The challenge is that I need to delegate some tasks, but there’s nobody to delegate them to. But that’s really not my problem, I’m just a contractor. Good insight! :)

    3. LCL*

      1. Stop beating yourself up.
      2. This company doesn’t sound that great to me. They have kept you on part time for a couple years, don’t offer medical, the workload is uneven, when they do give you work they overload you.
      This is the time to talk to the boss. Don’t phrase it as being overworked. Tell the boss you want to review your job assignments and figure out how to get the work done in a logical way, since now you are bouncing from task to task and not getting any of them done as well as you would like.

      1. Anon365*

        You know what? It has literally never occurred to me that this place could possibly not be a good place to work. My last job was super toxic, so basically any job where I’m not getting punched in the face sounds like a dream. Maybe this isn’t a dream. I’m gonna use that to reframe my thinking this weekend. Thank you!!

      2. Steve G*

        I like this comment, I think mine might have framed it as a positive growth position because that was my experience at my last job where I felt overworked. LCL is right that it may not be as great…

    4. LMW*

      I’d give yourself a little more time to adjust. I remember when I got my first full time job — that was so exhausting at first! And when I went from having a not-busy-all-the-time job to having a more steady workstream, it was really hard to adjust to actively thinking and doing for that amount of time.
      It’s kind of like you’ve been training for and running 5ks for a while and then sign up for a series of 10ks. Yeah, that first one is going to be rough, because it’s the first one and it’s further than you’ve gone before. But the next one will be easier, and so will the one after that, and the one after that. You just need more training to get up to that distance.

  44. Procrastination*

    I’ve got a serious problem with procrastinating. My job has a lot of Very Important deadlines. It’s not just looking out the window distractedly every now and then. This is a chronic problem for me that has only gotten worse as I’ve gotten more responsibility. Not good.

    I know I need to just do my tasks, but for some reason I can’t just make myself do it until the deadline is right on me, causing bad stress. And not endearing me to my bosses or clients. I haven’t missed a deadline yet, but I routinely get extensions. I’ve even been waking up and unable to go back to sleep recently because I’m afraid I’m in danger of missing a deadline.

    Has anyone else struggled with this and overcome it?

    1. AnotherFed*

      I’m terrible at procrastinating on big projects, but if I break it into smaller tasks and then impose outside deadlines on those small pieces, it’s a lot easier. Can you break the tasks up into smaller pieces and set hard deadlines (not just to yourself, but to someone else who you’d have to face if it isn’t done) for the small pieces? Maybe commit to having drafts or one of a set of items to boss/client much earlier and allow feedback or course corrections on that piece before the whole thing is due?

    2. Cheesy Potatoes*

      Can you try setting your own deadline so that you can underpromise and overdeliver? If Very Important Deadline is Friday, act as though it’s Wednesday.

    3. the_scientist*

      Hmmm….how long have you been at this job for? is this the first job where procrastination has been a problem, or are you a lifelong procrastinator? Is the workload simply overwhelming? Are you understaffed? Are the timelines unreasonable? Do you have so much to do that you don’t know where to even start? Is your work-life balance suffering? Or is there something else at play- you’re just not interested in the work anymore? Disengaged? Have a poor relationship with boss or colleagues? Maybe there’s an ADD diagnosis here, if you’ve struggled with this your whole life? Basically, I think you need to spend some time trying to pinpoint what triggers the procrastination. I struggle with anxiety/perfectionism, so for me, my tendency to procrastinate kicks into gear when I’m feeling really overwhelmed; perhaps you are the same way. My first instinct is that you could just be burnt out and Over It, but you’ll have to be the judge of that.

      Of course, figuring out *why* is well and good but if you want to keep your reputation/job, you’ll need to figure out a way to overcome this issue. Breaking activities into smaller, actionable pieces, writing checklists, and using the Pomodoro method are all really helpful for me. Perhaps you need to get better at time management (i.e. blocking time off to work on one particular project rather than working on things as they cross your desk) and prioritizing- maybe creating work plans for yourself would be helpful.

      1. Procrastination*

        I’ve had this problem my whole life, but I’ve always been a high achiever, so my ability to do good work at the last minute has ensured that the problem has always flown under the radar. I’ve been in my job for several years now and am starting to get more responsibility, so the lifelong habit is really starting to show. I am also a little burned out, even though I love my job in theory. Not sure if that makes sense. I’m in a weird stage where it’s no longer new, but kind of a grind until I get up a few more levels. I do really really want to make it up those levels.

        This is a very long way to say that I agree I need to get to the root of it, but I get upset and ashamed when I try to think about it and I think it’s a big combination of factors.

        Also what is a work plan?

        1. A good old canuck*

          I wonder if some counselling would be helpful to get to the root of the problem (full disclosure, I’m a therapist). There are some very intense emotions attached to this problem if procrastination (you mention that whem you try to look at addressing the procrastination on your own, you experience feelings of shame). It may be helpful to address that feeling and it might actually bring more clarity to the procrastination. Also, sometimes resolvong the emotional issue actually helps with yhe presenting problem which is the procrastination. I sympathize with you. I experienced workplace PTSD and when I got a new job I was still experiencing severe anxiety and that actualy tonprocrastinate (the procrastination was actually an avoidance strategy that helped to manage the anxiety). I sought help for the workplace PTSD and anxiety and then the procrastination lifted because I no longer needed the avoidance strategy.

        2. AFT123*

          I go through this too, and I’ll be interested to see suggestions. I have none – Like you, I’m generally regarded as a high-performer, and when I’m still new enough to be shaping a reputation, I have no problem focusing. However, once the responsibilities and expectations start adding up, my brain just shuts off. I posted about this awhile back and got some great tips from people here.

          Check this post for really helpful comments that may apply to you –

          I posted as AFT but that isn’t really easily searchable – maybe search Beebs as she replied to me. I posted it at 11:11am.

        3. the_scientist*

          I’m beating a dead horse when it comes to this book recommendation, but check out the book “When Perfect Isn’t Good Enough”. It talks about anxiety/perfectionism and how high-achieving perfectionists often self-sabotage by procrastinating……and how because they are high-achievers, they can skate by with this habit for a long time, only to have a rude awakening at a later point in life. You might find it applicable to your situation ;) (in all seriousness, it’s an excellent book and I personally found it very helpful and other AAM readers have said it was helpful to them as well).

          And you can totally be burnt out while still loving your job- it happens all the time! Are you able to take some time off work? It might be a good idea to take time off (even if you don’t go anywhere) for some relaxation/self-reflection, so you can come back refreshed and committed to solving this problem. Book time off, wrap up your outstanding projects as best as possible, and then take time off to completely unplug!

          A work plan is basically a schedule that breaks down a project into individual steps with a deadline attached to each step. A Gantt chart would be a type of work plan, I think (feel free to correct me if I’m wrong, AAM readers!). I find them really helpful because they let me think through how much time I need to allocate to each step of a project, and I can plot it out by working backwards from the final deadline. They take practice to develop (I’m still learning and don’t always know how much time things take) and might seem like a waste of valuable time at the outset of a project, but honestly they’re extremely helpful; the time spent creating them is always well worth it. And for a procrastinator, having small, actionable pieces of work with a clear deadline attached could be really useful!

        4. Ad Astra*

          Many, many people with ADHD and a high IQ are able to cover up their symptoms for years or decades because they have the aptitude to produce good work even when they’re not giving it the attention it needs. They think they work best under pressure because that’s the only time they work at all — but really, they’d get better results if they found a way to manage their time effectively.

          Full disclosure, though: I have ADHD — diagnosed at age 16 or 17 — so I could be projecting a little. I like A good old canuck’s suggestion that you look into counseling. There might or might not be a clinical cause (ADHD or otherwise), but either way it’s clearly something causing you a lot of distress.

          1. zora*

            This is what I came here to say. I am definitely a high-achiever with ADD and had a similar struggle with procrastination when the stakes got higher in higher-level jobs in my career. But I just want to plug the book “ADD-Friendly ways to organize your life.” It really helped me with a lot of different ideas of ways to organize my work and thinking so that I could stay on top of deadlines. Whether or not you are actually ADD it might help, or could be a first step before counseling or doctors.

    4. A good old canuck*

      Is there a time of day that you find that you are more productive? For example, I find that in the mornings I can really get a lot of paperwork done. The afternoons not so much, so I make any phone calls during the late afternoon.

      Also, please don’t take this next piece as piling on. You stated that “you haven’t missed a deadline, but routinely get extensionsl. When I read that I thought that you are.missing a deadline…an extension is something that you get because you can’t reach the original deadline. I would auggest that you lok at that thought differently, could be impacting your ability to complete tasks to the original deadline. And I wonder what the impact is on the larger project…does your extension make it harder or put pressure on your manager or other team to complete their portions of the project to their deadlines. Again, I’m just gently sugfesting that cahning your perception on deadlines and extensions is contributing to procrastination. I’m sorry, if this sounds like I’m piling it on.

      1. Procrastination*

        This is completely fair, and no offense taken. The procrastinating definitely does affect others’ ability to review or complete projects. Another reason I know I need to fix it.

    5. Meg Murry*

      I have this. Still working on it. Probably will always be working on it. Only things that have worked for me:

      1) Adderall or other ADHD meds help, but some times the side effects are killer, so I cycle on and off them depending on what the lesser evil is.
      2) It sounds like you need the adrenaline of a deadline to motivate you. Can you get adrenaline going in another way, like exercising before work? Sometimes that extra energy transfers over to the word day and into a go-go-go mentality, and sometimes not.
      3) Make to-do lists on paper, and physically cross items off – it feels good to cross things off. I have friends that actually keep a gold star chart in their day planners, and I’m thinking of doing the same. Get out the door on time? Silver star. Hit a deadline? Silver star. Get something done well and early? big sparkly gold star.
      4) Keep a running list next to the bed/ in your pocket at all times so if you think of something you can write it down, get it out of your brain and go back to sleep.
      5) If you wake up and really can’t sleep, can you actually work on something instead of just stressing about it? I was up working on a report this morning at 4 am – not because I have some kind of crazy work ethic, but because I procrastinated about it all week, had planned to have it done mid-week and today is the deadline and I woke up amped up about it. Having a laptop and VPN means that if I wake up stressed at 4 am, I might as well work on doing something about that stress rather than just stress and not sleep.
      6) Strict Workflow app on my computer to block distracting sites (like this one), or sometimes even downloading the files I need to my desktop and then crawling under my desk to unplug the network cable – no internet = less interruptions.
      7) Telling a trusted co-worker “I’m going to go work on the Jones report now, check up on me and nag me later today if I haven’t gotten much done, ok?”
      8) Do something, anything, even if you write [come back and write a paragraph about ABC here] and jump all around. Work on whatever parts are working for you, and don’t stress about getting it all perfect in the first shot (way easier said than done for me).

      1. Ad Astra*

        Ugh, I’m reading this now as a means of procrastination and I know it’s because I’m overwhelmed.

    6. Marcela*

      Something that helped my husband was this article called Why Procrastinators Procrastinate (I’ll include the link in another comment, but you can find it in google if you search by “procrastination monkey”). The article explained to me, not a procrastinator, the process behind and that was fantastic. For him, the part two of the article, called How to Beat Procrastination, contained good strategies. It still a struggle, but it got better once he stopped feeling so guilty because not only he was procrastinating, but also not doing anything to fix the procrastination.

        1. Windchime*

          Wow, these articles are amazing. I’ve literally wondered out loud, “Who/what is this other person in my head?” And now I know. It’s the monkey.

          1. Marcela*

            Hehe, I just love the monkey. Well, the monkey in the article, not so much my husband’s monkey.

    7. Yoshi*

      I’ve struggled with this problem too, and while I don’t have any concrete answers, one thing that helps me is to start by being productive from the second that I get up. So for me, that means immediately making my bed, washing any dishes in the sink, answering a couple emails from my phone on the way to work, and then immediately getting things done by setting artificial and unrealistic deadlines in my head (i.e. I need to get these four things done by lunch). I find that if I have a productive morning, my entire day is productive.

    8. NoCalHR*

      Mega thanks to all of you! I struggle with this daily, am now setting a timer for my AMM time to ensure I don’t use ‘professional development’ as another procrastination tool. Love the suggestions, the support, the ideas! May you all have wonderful weekends, stress-free and joyous!

    9. Dirk Gently*

      Check out a book called “The Now Habit” by Neil Fiore. Good, practical advice for identifying why you procrastinate, and for getting past that habit.

  45. LizB*

    I had a second interview on Wednesday for a position I really want, and I think it went really well… except that as soon as I walked into their office, the back seam of my skirt decided to rip wide open! D: the lining was still intact, so my underwear wasn’t visible or anything, and I’m actually not sure anyone but me noticed – nobody said anything, and I just carried on as normal because I didn’t want to draw attention to it. But wow, do I NEVER want to have that experience again. Totally embarrassing.

    1. AGirlCalledFriday*

      It wasn’t an interview, but once after I recently started a new job, I left the bathroom and walked down the hall with my skirt tucked into my underwear in the back.

    2. Anony-moose*

      Ugh! Last week I was wearing a FANTASTIC dress in anticipation of a donor event we were having. AND IT RIPPED. IN THREE PLACES.

      I stitched it back together in the bathroom but was so paranoid the rest of the night!

    3. OfficePrincess*

      A few months ago I had the inseam of a pair of pants rip open. On a day we had visitors coming, of course. I stapled them back together in the bathroom and made sure to sit with my legs crossed to cover it. Wardrobe malfunctions aren’t anything I’d wish on anyone.

  46. GOG11*

    I’m pretty sure this falls into the work thread, but if not, please feel free to delete it!

    How do you all respond to questions about your vacation from coworkers? I will be taking time off soon and every one of my colleagues who has asked me about my plans (staying at home) has insisted that I need to go somewhere, at least on a road trip. I’m tired of trying to justify why I’m not going anywhere (and I can’t afford a vacation right now on my wages isn’t something I want to share…), I don’t want to lie and say I’m going somewhere, and I don’t want to be weirdly secretive about my plans.

    The only reason they know is because I had to let them know I’d be out of the office. If it were up to me, I wouldn’t field questions about it in the first place. I know they’re just asking because if I were going somewhere nice, that’d be fun to share I guess, but ugh. Just let me stay at home in peace!

    1. Tagg*

      Ugh. The whole “insisting you need to go somewhere” is a bit of jerk move, and probably comes from a position of privilege.

      I was in a similar situation a while ago (took a bunch of days off just to get away from the office) and just told people I wanted to get stuff done around my apartment. Luckily, no one pushed me on it. Maybe that would be helpful? Instead of telling people you’re just staying home, maybe say something you want to do while your home (get some cleaning done, polish your teapot collection, finally hang up all those ancient Mayan ceremonial masks you have lying around), so people don’t worry that you’re not doing anything with your days off (and yes, it’s ridiculous to have to justify this, but people are weird like that.)

      1. GOG11*

        Yes, the people I work with are paid 2 to 3 times more than I make and have way more time off than I do. If I had the money to go somewhere and if I had a bunch of time off to devote to planning a vacation, getting everything ready to go, and then to unpacking and transitioning back to work mode after I got back, I’d be all over traveling!

        Next time a coworker asks where I’ll be taking my vacation, I’m half-tempted to just gleefully squeal “AT HOME, AWAY FROM YOU!” and run out the door. I mean, for goodness’ sakes, can’t you just pretend I’m a robot who shouldn’t get sick or have a life outside of work or have human emotions like you do the rest of the time? Sheesh.

        1. No Longer Passing By*

          Teapot collection sounds fascinating! I spent 1 month just selecting my daily teapot

    2. Retail Lifer*

      This was the first year that I have ever gone on a REAL vacation in my 20+ years in the workforce (aside from a few trips to visit out-of-state family), and that was only because I was invited along on a trip that my boyfriend’s parents paid for. The reason for me never going anywhere was partially money, too, and it drove me crazy that everyone always insisted that I SHOULD BE GOING SOMEWHERE on my vacation. I even get hassled regularly by some co-workers because I prefer to spend my weekends at home, cleaning, relaxing, and hanging out with my boyfriend and my dogs instead of DOING SOMETHING.

      I deal with the public all week. When I’m not at work, I usually don’t want to do anything else social. I actually do enjoy my time at home very much. When nosy co-workers pry, that’s exactly what I tell them. Even when it’s not completely the truth (yes, I would have loved to have taken actual vacations on many of my vacation days in years past), it works.

      1. Ezri*

        I’m the same way and I deal with the same thing. I have coworkers who talk about needing ‘to get me out and about’ because I never have weekend plans. I’m an introvert! I need two days lurking in my house to detox from 40+ hours a week of pretending I’m a social creature.

        Fortunately my husband is willing to do all that pesky people-interaction at home. :)

    3. Ihmmy*

      “I had a nice, relaxing time at home and got to catch up with [home project / friends / other]”

    4. OfficePrincess*

      “Well, I’m spending one day going to the grocery store/bank/post office/laundry mat and the rest of the time traveling between my couch and my porch.”
      Seriously, taking a few days off to just be home and chill is the least stressful type of vacation. Even if you like traveling, making plans and dealing with traffic etc is still work to a degree.

      1. Ezri*

        A coworker last week asked what I was doing, and I just said ‘Laundry. ALL THE LAUNDRY.’ I get so much freaking stuff done when I don’t have to go to my job.

    5. MJH*

      When they ask, are you positioning it as “Just staying home” (whomp-whomp) with a sad face? Because that is going to prompt the “Oh, why?! You should go somewhere!” response. If someone asks where you are going on your vacation, you could simply smile and say, “I am staying home and I am super excited to get some relaxation time in!” and leave it there. If they continue, just repeat, “yeah, I’m looking forward to staying home” (smile) and treat the entire thing as a fun time you are going to have with your Netflix and your wine and your sleeping in or whatever. I think most people understand the appeal of a “staycation.”

      1. puddin*

        I was thinking the same thing.

        “I am going to stay at home and I am so looking forward to it. Isn’t that awesome!”

        Or name your house Castle Dunnshire or something old timey like that and tell them that is where you are going.

      2. GOG11*

        I don’t have a sad expression, though perhaps it isn’t the happiest one with a few coworkers (some of my coworkers are VERY nosy and don’t have information shared with them very well, so I bristle at the thought of having to divulge personal information to them…maybe they’re misreading that as my being sad to have to stay home).

        Now that I think about it, it was sort of similar to a response I got when I stated that I probably won’t have children…”Oh, don’t say that! I’m sure you’ll have them someday!” I think it’s just hard for some people to fathom that their idea of super-awesome-fun times is not my idea of super-awesome-fun times. FTR, I don’t make a habit of discussing reproductive choices at work, I just didn’t realize that my existence as a child-less woman would be something to comment on. In their minds, I guess women are just pre-baby until I have one.

        Sigh. I’m realizing I really need more effective ways to disengage my coworkers and their prying.

        1. GOG11*

          Ugh, I can’t even formulate coherent sentences.

          I don’t have a sad expression, though perhaps it isn’t the happiest one with a few coworkers (some of my coworkers are VERY nosy and don’t handle information shared with them very well…

          In their minds, I guess women are just pre-baby until they have one.

    6. fposte*

      As Katie’s answer implies, a lot of times they just want to tell you about places they think are great. So just let them do that.

    7. AGirlCalledFriday*

      Ohh no…I’ve done this.

      I spent a few years overseas and traveled to a fair amount of places. I LOVE to travel. I love experiencing new things, I love learning about other cultures, I love seeing things that I’ve only read about. I think back on my life and realize that the best time of my life was when I was doing this. I also know that Americans tend to not travel overseas much. So when someone says they have a vacation, I always want to talk about where they might go, and if they aren’t, I guess I do try to *sell* the idea of going somewhere. I guess it’s just me selfishly not recognizing that some people just don’t want to travel.

      1. GOG11*

        I think it depends on the dynamics of the conversation, too, though. When the person trying to “sell” you on going somewhere makes a lot more money than you do and routinely spends their summer traveling, it becomes a bit more awkward than just a peer saying, “Oh, traveling can be so fun! You deserve it and if you can swing it, you should really consider it!” I’d consider that to come from an overall supportive place whereas the other scenario just rubs me the wrong way. I can’t articulate why, though.

        1. AGirlCalledFriday*

          I see what you mean. Well, I’m always broke because of my travel habit, so I’m definitely not coming from a place of privilege there!

          1. Tagg*

            Just to point out – privilege doesn’t mean “I have all this money to travel with!” it means “I have the ability to travel!” – even if that makes you broke, you still have (presumably) enough to spend on actually traveling. This is a position of privilege above someone who literally cannot afford to travel because they’re always broke due to having to pay rent, or buy groceries, or that they have something else that keeps them from being able to travel.

            I’m not saying this in any way to be mean or to give a lecture, I just know that the concept of privilege is something that is hard to grasp, and often misinterpreted.

            1. AGirlCalledFriday*

              My travel has come from sacrificing a lot of things that others have. I sought out employment opportunities overseas, I’ve never owned a home and I often don’t have a car, I live very cheaply, I am unmarried and without children (part of the reason why I came back), I’ve had to sell all my things several times over, and I’ve said goodbye to friends and family who I may not see for a year or more. So, it’s not that I have this income I spend on traveling OR any more ability than the next person to travel – it’s that I make the choices to go without so that I may travel.

              Almost nothing really prevents people from travel if it’s something they want to do. Lots of people with families and jobs and not that much money manage it, but it DOES take a lot of research, planning, and some willingness to not have certain things. It’s not for everyone, but it can be done.

              1. Tagg*

                “I’ve never owned a home and I often don’t have a car, I live very cheaply, I am unmarried and without children (part of the reason why I came back), I’ve had to sell all my things several times over”

                Your commitment to traveling and bettering your worldview is commendable, and I admire your hard work and sacrifice to be able to do so. What I was pointing out, however, is that some people do all the things you described in the above quote not by choice, but by necessity. They don’t choose not to have a home/car/children so that they can travel, the cannot afford a home/car/children at all. It’s a subtle difference, and in no way am I trying to belittle the sacrifices and hard choices you have made, but it is important to remember that some people simply don’t have the choice or ability to do those things. There are certainly plenty of things that prevent people from traveling, even if they have the sincerest desire to do so.

                1. Treena*

                  This is so true, regarding privilege overall. But I’m guessing is that AGirlCalledFriday and I have had similar experiences. We’re told how lucky and privileged we are to be able to travel–but by other privileged people. So the people with the home/car/kids feel we’re privileged because we travel, but they’re just as privileged as we are, and it gets really annoying. I have no problem admitting I’m privileged, but the only people who bother to point it out to me are just as/more privileged.

        2. Anonsie*

          I can: It makes you feel like an outsider because they’re working off the base assumption that this is just standard for everyone to have and appear to be unaware that people with finances/situations/whatever like yours even exist. There’s a really specific tone people can take on that has this effect and really makes you feel like an alien.

    8. The IT Manager*

      Calling it a “stay-cation” since that has recently become a thing covered by the media may get them to back off.

      As other have mentioned just say you want relax at home, to have uninterrupted time to do projects, explore your city, or whatever on your stay-cation.

      PS I am giving serious to a stay-cation just to enjoy reading some books and playing tourist at home, but I do want it to be relaxing and not feel like my too short weekends.

    9. sam*

      Ugh. I love to travel, and back when I was at a law firm, I generally felt like I *couldn’t* take a vacation without going somewhere, because I was too available if I was home.

      But then I ended up having to travel a TON for work. Two weeks after I moved into my new apartment in August 2005, I got sent to Italy for what was supposed to be a two-week trip. which turned into a 6 week trip. You may think this romantic and wonderful. 18-hours a day in windowless conference rooms in Rome are exactly as romantic as 18-hours a day in windowless conference rooms in New Jersey. especially after the hotel destroys half of your clothes in the hotel laundry. While you’ve come down with the flu.

      Then it was off to London, where we spent about two weeks getting 2-3 hours of sleep a night for the final “push” on the deal. I finally came home for “good” the day before Thanksgiving.

      The following year the office asked me to MOVE to Italy for 6 months. and I did in September 2006. At least this time I had an apartment. I came home in March 2007, went to a destination wedding in florida, flew BACK to Italy for a few more weeks of deal wrap up, flew home again, went to ANOTHER destination wedding for another friend in Montauk, and again finally came home for good.

      It was at this point that I had accrued so much vacation time that I was in danger of losing some. But the mere thought of packing another suitcase and getting on another plane was the worst thing I could possibly think of in the world. So I took a two week staycation. It was the best vacation I’ve ever had, and now I do at least one every year. I clean out my closets, I have brunch with friends who are differently employed, I see matinee movies in the middle of the day when everyone else is toiling away in their offices. If the weather is nice, I go for long walks and bike rides around my fantastic city that I don’t get to enjoy enough. If the weather is crappy, I go to lots of museums. I sit in coffee shops and read lots of books that I usually don’t have time for. I play tourist for “free” in a city that other people pay ridiculous sums of money to come visit.

      Most of us have made a conscious choice to live in the places where we live. Why do we feel the need to flee them the second we have any actual free time?

        1. sam*

          and, i mean, even if you’re not in some tourist mecca like NYC like me, sometimes it’s fun just to spend a few days having zero obligations, sleeping really late and marathoning something on netflix.

          My vacation this summer is splitting the difference. I’m taking two weeks off – for the first week i’m going to a photo workshop in Wyoming (part of my goal to both do more photography and see more places in this country that aren’t on the east coast), and the second week i’m back home just hanging out.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            The photo workshop sounds awesome!
            I took today off because I didn’t have desk duty–I really, truly meant to get some work done around here, but that tropical storm greyed everything out. I ended up doing practically nothing. Well, I did put the laundry away.

    10. Ask a Manager* Post author

      The key is to sound super excited. I took a staycation recently and could tell someone I was talking to was about to go into “you should go somewhere mode!” and so I really enthusiastically said, “I’m going to lounge on my couch and read books and watch movies and I CANNOT WAIT!” And the person actually responded with a wistful-sounding, “That sounds really nice, I’d like to do that.” If you sound pumped about it, most people will take their cues from you.

    11. Kelly*

      I had set some vacation days aside this spring for a visit to my sister on the east coast. Turns out it didn’t end up happening due to a combination of my finances and her need to schedule doctor’s appointments months in advance. I switched the days around so I have a 4 day weekend over the 4th of July. I did keep one day off to do some household tasks, weather permitting, including priming and staining a nightstand that I inherited from my grandmother. That’s a two day task with one day for the priming and day 2 for staining, while waiting for it to dry and be brought back in on Sunday evening.

  47. Helka*

    Wondering if anyone has any advice on how to manage communication issues!

    One of my coworkers just got promoted to team lead, and it’s beginning to raise some difficulty. Not that she isn’t good at it (I was rooting for her to take the spot, actually) but it seems like whenever I have a question about instructions from her, she and I end up talking past each other. So it’ll be something like,

    Me: Hey, I have a question about this urgent item we’re doing. You’ve asked me to work M-P on the alphabetical spreadsheet of Things What Need Fixed, but I’ve noticed that A-E on that same spreadsheet aren’t getting handled, and those are higher-priority items. Do you want me to handle the more urgent ones first?
    Her: These all need to get done today, please focus on the spreadsheet and not your other work.
    Me: Okay, I can definitely do that. Do you want me to do the high-priority or the low-priority ones first?
    Her: Don’t work on anything but this spreadsheet, these all need to get finished. (Cue visible signs of impatience.)

    I feel like I’m expressing myself clearly (Yes, the spreadsheet is top priority, someone should be working A-E because those are the Very Big Deal items but no one seems to be, do you want me to take care of them?) but it seems like she’s hearing something completely different, along the lines of “Do you want me to work on a thing that is not on the spreadsheet at all?” I would understand if her answer was “They’ve been assigned to Stannis, he should be taking care of them” but I don’t see that in her responses. I’m not sure if there’s some issue of clear expression, or if she’s just answering what she expects me to ask instead of what I’m actually asking, or what on earth is going on.

    If you have script suggestions for how to raise this without accusing her of not listening to me, that would be fantastic!

    1. nona*

      I think she might be answering what she expects you to ask – sort of trying to guess what you’re going to ask before you’ve finished speaking, so that she misses whatever you actually ask.

      Start with “I’m sorry I wasn’t clear” or “I think I misspoke earlier” or something to soften it, then “I’m not asking (whatever she thinks you’ve asked). I’m asking where to start.”

    2. GOG11*

      It seems like you’re talking in pretty specific terms already, but I think it might help if you addressed the time limitations, as well, and outline options (in enough detail that you can implement them with minimal additional questions) for her to say yes or no to.

      I.E., “You’ve asked me to complete the spreadsheet by 4 today. I can do M-P or I can do higher priority items A-E, but I can’t do both. Would you like me to continue with M-P and do A-E tomorrow or would you like me to focus on A-E right now?”

      1. Camellia*

        I understand this perfectly because this is the way I think. However, I have learned over the years that this is too gymnastic for some people. I’ve found that breaking it up into simple questions works best. Question 1: “Do you want me to work on A through E today?” Then she can say yes, or no I told you to work on M through P. If she says the latter, then you can artfully trot out Question 2: ” Okay sure no problem, but aren’t A through E a higher priority?” Then she may explain that someone else is working on them, or say hmm, okay, work on them instead, or whatever.

    3. AnotherFed*

      This might be my communication style, but I’d interpret that response from her as “Don’t care, just get all of it done.”

      If you want some sort of more relevant confirmation of what you should be doing, it sounds like you already know what the right answer should be, so can you phrase it as “I found a problem with spreadsheet, so today I will do priority #1 thing and then I will do priority #2 thing. Does that sound good to you?”

      1. Alex*

        That would be my interpretation too. I think the only thing you can really do is make an assumption, then ask her basically for approval on what you already plan to do. “My plan is to handle M-P today and A-E tomorrow. If anything changes, I’ll keep you posted. Does this work for you?” or something like that.

    4. Retail Lifer*

      You’re being really specific and just asking for a yes or no answer and she’s still not getting it. I would keep repeating myself until I got an answer to what I was actually asking, and keep the questions as short and simple as possible.

      “Should I complete A-E before M-P?”
      “Should I handle A-E first?”
      “Being a higher priority, should I complete A-E before M-P?”
      “Yes or no, should I do A-E first?”

      I know I would get progressively snarkier and snarkeir with each attempt at the question, but I wouldn’t know what else to do if I couldn’t get an answer.

      1. AnotherFed*

        This is a recipe for pissing off your manager. Unless you can come up with a meaningful way to rephrase that adds new information and changes the situation, this is going to come across really, really badly. You might eventually badger your manager into breaking your tasking down into steps like do a, then b, then c, then d, but it comes at the expense of having your manager believe you can’t handle normal tasking and need special handholding. Asking essentially the same question over and over also could start to sound like “I really don’t want to do this, so I’m going to pester you until you give me a different answer to my question.”

    5. Have courage and be kind in Austin TX*

      Her: Don’t work on anything but this spreadsheet, these all need to get finished. (Cue visible signs of impatience.)

      “I’m sorry, I’m probably not expressing myself very well. I get that the spreadsheet is the top priority, and I do intend to focus on it. However, my concern is that you’ve asked me to work M-P, and I’m not seeing that A-E are being handle. So, I wanted to confirm whether I’m only supposed to work M-P as you originally assigned, or focus on A-E first. I estimate that I can either finish M-P today, or A-E, but not both, and I just wanted to make sure A-E are being handled by someone else, since you said it all needs to get finished.”

      In other words, spell out what your concern is, which from your example I don’t think you’re doing yet!

  48. Lisbonslady*


    I have two managers, one reports to the other, in a very dysfunctional environment.

    The lower level manager is not very smart and as I continue to work with her she keeps making comments that I feel are just to cover up her own short comings and/or to take credit for my work. She gave me a project and then said she would do it because “it needs to have no mistakes”… The other day I sent out a document, as she requested, and the doc had tracked changes (I had put in our legal department’s edits, and as she asked I “double and triple checked it” and it was going back to them) and she emailed me to say “I trusted you to send this out without tracked changes. I’ll have to fix it.” and she took legal’s notes to “double check you didn’t miss anything” (I didn’t) and accept the changes and send it out, again, to the internal group.

    I had gotten a bit angry when she started to behave this way weeks ago, as things got busier and so I kept working but kept them in the loop more than usual. I wasn’t my cheery self, more just business, but not unprofessional. So of course in my weekly meeting with both managers it came up that I had been tense and I mentioned why, that there has been a lack of communication and I’m not sure where this attitude I keep getting is coming from, I’m not perfect but my work isn’t full of mistakes… I was told “it takes too much time to give you all the information.” and it was left there and basically the manager said she didn’t even remember what she said but I brought one email to the meeting and read it. She apologized but our boss basically tried to put it back on me, that I had other experiences working for other people and that this place is different.

    The following meeting with them was about “is there anything you like about your job here?” and an offer (veiled threat) about contacting the agency that placed me to get me another role. I have decided not to say much more since then, I have bills to pay, and speaking up seems to make things worse.

    So I’m looking for another position. After those meetings things calmed down with the nasty manager a bit, but she’s starting back up again, saying there’s typos in my work, but when I ask what typos she mentions one word that wasn’t even misspelled… really not sure what to do anymore… I have a hard time just coming in anymore…

    What do I do in the meantime to survive this place while I look for another job? Any suggestions? Thanks.

    1. Lisbonslady*

      And let me just add, I had gone to HR months ago, to see if there was another role that would be a better fit. And the woman in HR, who has been in meetings with my managers and I told me from her point of view, “at 40,000 feet”, that it seems to her that I do a lot of the lower level manager’s work, as opposed to assisting her with it.

      I asked if I could be transferred out of this department and she said it would make the managers look bad and she didn’t think she I would be able to shake that.

      She was supposed to talk to my higher level manager. But after that conversation, I got an email and she also reached out to my agency, just saying I wouldn’t be able to transfer.

      1. No Longer Passing By*

        I think that you got the information that you need. This is one of those YMSAIGC situations. Reading between the lines, HR has told you that you’re doing the lower-manager’s job and that she doesn’t have the authority to help you. You need to act on that information

        1. Liz*

          Thanks. Sometimes you need to just get it all out there and make sure you’re not crazy. Not sure what that acronym means (your manager s*cks @ss…something?) but thanks for the feedback.

          1. No Longer Passing By*

            Alison has a feature called “Your Manager Sucks and Isn’t Going to Change.” Do a search and you’ll see a recent post that addresses similar situations.

  49. Colette*

    I’ve been unemployed for three months now. I’ve had a few leads, but haven’t landed anything. I feel like I should ramp up my efforts (I’ve done some networking and applied to a bunch of jobs, but I could do more), but I’m really enjoying being off. I’ve done a bunch of projects around the house (painting, replacing a bathroom ceiling, building a hidden door), and I have a bunch more I want to do.

    But … I feel like I should be a little more anxious about getting a job, and, like I said, like I should be working harder.

    Part of my problem is that financially I’m fine, and part of it is that I know my job history makes me a bit of a unicorn – a lot of recruiters have trouble figuring out where I’d fit.

    I guess I’m looking for people to tell me to get my act together.

    1. Stemmie*

      It sounds like you’re getting something out of your time and not just loafing. And highly hireable. Any reason you believe you should be more anxious? Do you want to spend more time around other people?

      1. Colette*

        I’m mostly concerned that I’ll become complacent and never end up working again! Honestly, I’m completely fine with the way things are now, but I’m afraid that will make me lazy about job hunting. and I probably should get a new job sometime.

        1. sam*

          I ended up unemployed for about 2 years after i got laid off – the *benefit* of getting laid off at the front end of the financial crisis, when there were simply no jobs to be had. I was financially OK too. not financially OK enough to never work again, but I covered for the full time I was off.

          I’d say the biggest thing to make sure of is to be able to explain the gap in your resume, particularly if it extends for more than 6 months. that was the biggest piece for me. I spend a good chunk of the time I was “off” helping my dad with his business, so while it wasn’t in my area of work (and I wasn’t getting paid), I had a separate section on my resume where I had that listed – it helped at least start the “what the heck were you doing for two years” conversation – and my dad’s got a pretty unique, interesting business, so it gave me something a little different to talk about and explain the gap.

          3-6 months, you’re probably fine without something.

    2. Sarah Nicole*

      But why should you have to get your act together if your life is going fine while taking a few months of leave from working? I think what could get you into trouble is if you stay away from searching too long and end up in a financial crisis because of it (at least that is what would worry me, or not having insurance if I got sick). Why don’t you put together a plan? If in X months I still haven’t found a job through causal searching/ networking, then I’ll get much more serious and find one within X time. I don’t really see a problem with taking off a few months to enjoy yourself if you have the financial means. Just tell interviewers you took a hiatus to take care of yourself, recharge, work on your house, etc.

      1. Colette*

        That’s my concern – that I’ll get too used to being off. Luckily, I’m Canadian, so basic medical insurance is not an issue (although I’ve discovered one of my medications is much more expensive than I’d assumed).

        I like the plan idea – that’s probably a good way to approach this.

        1. Sarah Nicole*

          Oh yes, that’s better than the U.S. if you’re trying to take some time away from work. Health coverage there is not a concern. Well in that case, I’d say that as long as you have an “End of Complacency date” like fposte says below, then you should be fine. Besides, it is wise to take this time if you feel you need it. Then when you do go back to work, you’ll feel refreshed and ready! Most people will not experience this luxury during their professional lives, but it sounds like you have set yourself up to be able to enjoy it, so do just that!

    3. fposte*

      It sounds like your act is already pretty together to me. If there’s a time by which you need to have a job for sure, then you can declare an End of Complacency date a certain time before then. But it seems like you’ve planned well, have a decent cushion that you’re okay with living on in the meantime, and can wait for a job that’s a good fit. It’s like you’re thinking because that’s rare it can’t be okay. And it can be okay.

    4. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

      IDK, you’ve always impressed me with your grounded approach to everything.

      I think when you’re ready, you’ll be right on top of it all.

      1. Colette*

        I hope so! Part of the problem is that so much is out of my control.if there were ten or a hundred or a thousand things I needed to do to guarantee a job, I’d do them. But, of course, a large part of this is out of my control – I can increase the odds but there are no guarantees.

  50. A good old canuck*

    I have a questions about references. I am just over one year into what I consider my first professional career position (I had one job before this, but I was only there for a short period of time because it was such a hostile work environment). The job is going well and I don’t plan on leaving the position anytime soon. My question is, if the time comes when I want to leave, how do I manage my references. The company I work for has a policy that all reference requests are required to go through HR, so even if I wanted to, I couldn’t ask co-workera or my fellow team members. The refences I used to get this job were professors and internship supervisors from grad school. So I feel like in a couple of years those references would be stale. Have any commentors beem in this situation? How did you navigate the situation?

    1. GOG11*

      I know many companies have a similar policy, including one I worked at recently. Though the managers weren’t allowed to give references, a few of mine did anyways. From what I’ve read in previous threads, others have had similar experiences, so this may be an option for you, too. Additionally, from the way your post is phrased, I’m wondering if it is possible that requests go through HR, but the prospective employer/hiring manager will still have the opportunity to talk to your manager(s).

      This far out, though, it might be difficult to bring the question up since it’s only an issue you’d face while looking for other jobs.

      1. A good old canuck*

        I guess I’m looking at this from the position “don’t let your current employer know that you’re job hunting”. To the best of my recollection, the way the policy is written, if I we to approach management, team member or co-workers for a reference, they are to decline and redirect the request to HR. I totally understand this policy, because HR has my employee file and will be able to comment on things like disciplinary issues, etc. and possibly (I’m guessing here) to prevent a poor-performing employee from receiving a good reference by an employee that is representing the company.

        I know that I’m totally thinking of something that is far out. It’s my nature… I never want to end up in a situation where I want (or have the opportunity) to leave, only to have this get in my way.

    2. Retail Lifer*

      My company (and pretty much all of my previous companies) have had this policy. I have skirted it for excellent employees who I wanted to help move on (because this place is awful) by allowing them to give employers my personal number and email. If they call or email me at work for references I have to follow the policy, but I can get away with it if it’s on my own time and my own equipment. I don’t offer to do this for all of my employees since it IS a breach of policy, but if they’re stellar and I can help them move on to better things, I will. If you have a supervisor that you’re comfortable enough with and who really has faith in you, this option might work for you.

  51. Penny*

    I have someone who’s interested in entering my field (well, they’re in school for it) coming to do a tour of my workplace. I don’t mind giving this tour, I agreed after all! But I’m wondering if anyone has any advice for how to be on the OTHER side of an informational interview? This is my first job post-grad in this field, and I’m honestly kind of over the field (I do like my particular workplace though, if that makes sense). I don’t want to scare her off from the field, but if I had the chance I don’t think I would do it over again? How can I be honest, but professional?

    1. GOG11*

      I think if you recognize that you not wanting to do it over again comes from a combination of external factors (things about your job and industry) and internal factors (things about you – your wants, needs, strengths, challenges, etc.) and keep that in mind when deciding what to share, you can be candid without focusing too much on your particular fit for the industry.

      For example, I think it’s valuable to say stuff like “jobs in this field usually come with sporadic hours and a bit of inconsistency” or “most positions that lead to the stuff you see on TV require an advanced degree” (or whatever is applicable). If you present things more or less objectively (not selling the industry or slamming it) the students can weigh that against what they know about themselves and determine their own fit for themselves.

    2. GOG11*

      Oh, and if you search for “informational interview” on AAM, the first article that pops up has some really good questions. In addition to what the person you’re meeting with asks, you could also share your thoughts about those topics.

  52. CrazyCatLady*

    I’m super lucky and have always gotten pretty good raises without ever asking, and not coinciding with annual reviews. But last week, I asked for a raise (about 6%) and it was approved! I was so excited because it was my first time asking and I was really nervous.

  53. Ad Astra*

    How do you stay motivated when your position doesn’t have a lot of measurable goals or hard deadlines? Since I moved from journalism to marketing, I’m not getting the same immediate feedback I’m used to, and my deadlines seem to change because so many of my projects are dependent on several other people. It’s a much less urgent environment, which is good in a lot of ways, but I don’t know how to run on anything but adrenaline. Any advice?

  54. Stranger than fiction*

    Anyone else hate the sound of flip flops in the office?

    Drives me nuts all that slapping as coworkers walk around! And don’t even get me started on the fact we’re supposed to be business casual except for Friday but plenty of people think flip flops are ok during the week

    1. Cruciatus*

      Where I work we sometimes complain about the strict-ish dress code–men must wear ties, women must wear pantyhose if they are wearing a skirt/dress. No open-toed shoes or sandals. And then I think about having to hear flip flops all day and I’m suddenly glad for these rules!

      1. sam*

        I’m currently wearing 3-inch heeled patent-leather slingbacks, and they still make that noise sometimes, because the damn straps won’t stay all the way up on my heels. But I’ll be damned if I’m wearing pantyhose in the summertime.

    2. The IT Manager*

      I don’t mind the sound, but I completely 100% agree. Flip flips are certainly not business casual. IMO which is obviously and unfortunately in a minority they are not appropriate for any occasion where you are in any away dressed up. Not saying that they can’t be worn in public just that don’t try to convince me that flips flops are any dressier than tennis shoes. An, yes, flop, flop, flopping, contribute to them not being dressy.

    3. puddin*

      I do hate that noise. I really don’t wear them myself for that reason – just in the locker/shower at the Y.

      Also, I marvel at people who can wear flip flops that don’t make noise. How do you do that??

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Ours does too, but you can pay to wear them in summer and the money goes to charity. So we have people in shorts and flip flops flapping around. I don’t do this because I would freeze to death–the office gets cold.

        I did buy some capris, which are allowed, but I have no idea what shoes to wear with them. Flip flops hurt my feet so I only wear them in a pool locker room or similar.

        1. puddin*

          I hate the pay to wear charity things. Either its work appropriate dress or it isn’t. What is the point of having a dress if every other week there is some way to not follow it?

          1. Elizabeth West*

            Well, our dress code is pretty casual, unless we have clients in the office. Most people wear jeans and t-shirts so shorts (NOT Daisy Dukes) isn’t that much of a stretch.

            1. puddin*

              Ah, that is different. Periodically, we get very parental emails about The Dress Code. But every other week you can pay to wear jeans and the pay goes to benefit corp sanctioned charities (which the office Judy picks). I guess its a pet peeve of mine – clearly LOL

        2. The IT Manager*

          Dressy tennis shoes like sketchers with short socks. Or other sandals, but when I’m trying to stay warm in the office, I want closed toed shoes.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            I have some Skechers. I also have some Clarks clogs I bought (for $16 at the remainder store–SCORE!). Would the clogs work?

            I have a blanket in my footrest in case I get chilly, heh heh.

            1. I survived!*

              I totally think the Clark’s clogs would work. I am very fond of Clarks myself.

      2. Nashira*

        Do you work in my office? Because this drives me up a wall. As does the sound. This year, some folks seem to think fancy paint jobs on their toes are sufficient embellishment to wear blatantly worn out flip flops.

        I try to ignore it but oh the sound.

    4. Not helpful*

      Today is national flip flop day. Local smoothie place is giving away a free smoothie if you show up in flip flops. I have not worn flip flops since I was a kid, and then only to the pool/beach.

      1. No Longer Passing By*

        Tropical Smoothie Cafe? I’m so going to get an Acai Berry Boost and have been thinking about it for an hour. I don’t wear flip flops about but I’ve planned to drive in my shoes and then change to flip flops in the car and change back.

    5. A good old canuck*

      I do not consider flip flops appropriate office footwear. My sister wear flip flops to work all the time (I’m not exaggerating… even in the winter). The thing is other than her flip flops, she actually dresses quite appropriately for work. I have tried to gently tell her that she should wear other more appropriate footwear, but she is not having any of that. She just simply stated that flip flops are the most comfortable for her. I almost hope that she never leaves the company she works at because I think she would have some difficulties adjusting to other office dress codes.

  55. Looby*

    I’m wondering if I somehow blew my chance at a temp job by applying for other jobs at the same company.

    I applied through an agency for a temp job that, honestly, it looked like they had taken my resume for the last few years and rolled everything I’d done into one job. I was excited, the recruiter was excited. I found out this week, the company didn’t want me.

    The recruiter told me which company is was for when I applied (it’s a smallish town so I was 90% sure before it was revealed), so while I was waiting for an answer for the temp position, I applied for a few similar(but definitely different) positions directly through the company’s website.

    Now I’m wondering if I blew my chance for the temp job by applying for the other jobs – did it make it seem like I wasn’t interested in the temp job because I was applying for others? Did they reject me for the temp job because they are planning to interview me for other positions? It’s so frustrating because, according to the recruiter, the hiring manager didn’t give any reason for the rejection, so I have no idea which way to think!

    1. fposte*

      Can’t say for sure, but in general these would get considered separately, so applying to another wouldn’t have hurt your chances at one, and you can’t assume your rejection for the one means they’re interested in you for another.

      Sorry about the rejection–it’s annoying when there’s such a seeming fit but you don’t get moved forward. But good luck with the other applications!

    2. Diddly*

      Can you get the temp agency to ask again, just to say my client applied for a number of jobs on ur site while she was waiting to hear about the temporary role, and wondered if that had an effect on her application.

  56. Stemmie*

    Hi all – Allison shot me a quick response to this a while back, but I’m curious about additional thoughts:
    I’ve been applying to jobs in education outreach – various roles – and often there are several levels of pretty much the same job open within the same organization. I wondered, should I avoid stating upfront that I’d be happy with any of them, thereby open myself up to the lowest level/worst pay? Or should I apply to the top level only and risk them not considering me for a basically equivalent job because I didn’t make myself available for it? Generally the difference is a 2-3 years of experience and job title language (coordinator vs. manager, assistant ___ vs. ___) – otherwise the job duties almost identical.

    And a new addition to this thought: if I get interviewed and rejected, and then decide to volunteer for that organization during my job search, well, does that come across desperate, or might they appreciate my familiarity with the organization later? Often the volunteer duties don’t really match the paid position duties (and don’t interest me the same way), so I’m wondering if it’s a wise use of time, vs. doing something unrelated for money while I’m still job hunting.


    1. fposte*

      I would definitely be explicitly open to any job you’re actually open for. Do they not want a separate application for each? That’s how I’d expect it (and unless they explicitly say not to, that’s how I’d do it).

      I think it’s fine to volunteer for the organization as long as it’s separate from any job expectations. It sounds like you might be thinking of it as a bit of a foot in the door, and I wouldn’t do it for that, because it usually won’t be. Do it if you’d volunteer there anyway.

  57. seasonal employee*

    We all know the cliche about job searching being a full time job, but what kind of time do people devote to it when you already have a job? I am seasonally employed, so am on the lookout for a permanent job to start this winter (or before), but I’m finding it impossible to submit more than a couple of new applications each week due to my schedule, commute, and family commitments in the evening. I can occasionally reuse a cover letter with some light editing, but the online application systems where you have to enter your entire work history into tiny boxes are really slowing me down. What has your experience been? Any tips for streamlining the process?

    1. AFT123*

      Hear, hear! Taleo can burn a fire-y, horrible death.

      The only way I’ve found to sort of streamline is by starting my search on LinkedIn Jobs. It seems to pull relevant jobs, and some let you apply right through LI with your profile, saving tons of time. I don’t think there is really any way around the manual process other than that though. It sucks. I have found that smaller companies and start-ups don’t really use the time consuming programs, so maybe target your search at those? Also get in touch with company recruiters who can reach out to you when they have a posting that fits your skills. Job hunting is such a job in and of itself.

      1. seasonal employee*

        Interesting, thanks. I am mostly searching for jobs in universities and nonprofits, since those are the sectors where I have experience and I am not even sure what roles I could be eligible for in corporate contexts, but I guess I should at least try. There are so few full-time opportunities to do what I do that I am very open to transitioning. (Another problem with job searching while employed: no time for informational interviews!)

    2. Retail Lifer*

      There’s not much you can do to streamline the cumbersome process that most companies make you go through, but look for jobs on LinkedIn. A lot of the jobs posted there let you apply with your profile (no additional application), meaning you attach a cover letter and you’re done.

      1. Ad Astra*

        YES to LinkedIn jobs, and any position where all they want you to do is shoot them a resume (somewhat common in my field). I always prioritized those, and then bookmarked the more involved applications for jobs I was super interested in.

        When I was employed and searching, I tried to set aside 30 minutes during the work week and another hour on the weekend to apply for jobs. It worked best when I woke up early to get these done before my usual tasks, but YMMV.

  58. Amber Rose*

    So currently at my job I maintain and update the company website and social media, I create, order and send out promotional materials and brochures, I order, assemble and deliver technical docs and certifications with customer orders, accounts receivables is mine, and I’m a permanent member of the safety committee. I also have side projects where I’m writing some manuals and organizing the server folders and tracking customer POs in spreadsheets and taking pictures of stuff.

    What… should my title be? =P

    I was updating everyone’s titles yesterday and realized I don’t even know what to call myself anymore. I started with Document Controller (I wasn’t hired with a title so I made one up), but that doesn’t seem to really cover all the extra stuff I took on. Or it makes it sound like I do less than I do. I feel that I’m justified in feeling proud of myself for learning all this stuff in 4 months.

    On a side note, I brought up in a meeting that nobody knew what I do and my boss made sure that changed. Thanks for the advice guys. :)

    1. Diddly*

      Hmm, safety committee doesn’t sound part of job, just maybe outside responsibilities, or something to note at end of description.
      Perhaps something to do with communications – considering website, social media and written documents.

      1. Amber Rose*

        I know it doesn’t except that I’m actually in training to take over for the safety coordinator when she leaves (at which point I assume i’m expected to clone myself). I have a couple outside certifications for it already. Not sure if that matters? I don’t mind leaving it off, but I am technically a point of contact for H&S issues.

        1. Diddly*

          Wonder if you can do it similar to the way Alison says you list temp roles then, otherwise your title might be very lengthy :)

          1. Diddly*

            Guess it also depends how much it takes up of your time.
            Perfectly ok to list what you’ve trained in such and such, and taken over role of Safety Officer in your description, while having a different title especially if day-to-day it doesn’t raj up much of your time. (At least in my opinion.)
            Maybe you should talk to HR, looking for a new person – I’ve taken over so many roles I don’t know what to give my title as! Is it possible we could get some help in our dept…

            1. Amber Rose*

              We don’t really have HR. The company is currently in the “need to catch up to speedy growth” stage where everyone is filling lots of roles and we’re hiring as fast as we can but haven’t really defined departments or anything.

              In a couple years I can see need for more people, but for now I can handle it alone.

    2. Alex*

      Hmm… It seems like you should have some kind of “communications” and possibly “marketing” in your title. Maybe “Communications and Content Delivery Manager”?

    3. Bend & Snap*

      Well…what do you want to do? You have a lot of marketing in there, some customer facing stuff and some office management stuff. I’d think about the career path you want to take and tailor the title to that.

    4. Student*

      What is the most important thing you do for this company? The thing that matters the most to your boss, if you’re not sure.

      Make a title based on that function. The other functions are just other hats you wear. To me, the way you portray yourself (small duties that are all over the map) makes you sound like an admin assistant, or maybe a personal assistant.

  59. Lurker Ama*

    I just learned that our single HR person at my company will not keep ANYTHING you go to them with confidential, including complaints about harassment and such, going so far as to actively share information with people that they didn’t ask for and wasn’t the topic of conversation. They have even said to someone “X person came here with a complaint about you making the workplace uncomfortable for her” which totally didn’t make it more uncomfortable and allow for a lot of retaliation behaviors at ALL…

    I don’t currently have anything concerning me that I would normally go to HR for, but if I do in the future, how should I handle it, knowing that it won’t be confidential?

    1. TheExchequer*

      Oooh, that’s a toughey. Maybe the person managing HR? Actually, I’d probably do that now. Maybe: “I overheard Jane sharing a harassment complaint and I’m concerned that would open us up to allegations of retaliation.”?

      1. No Longer Passing By*

        +1. What’s the size of this company? Is the HR person full time? Is there a HR manager? More information may be needed

        1. Lurker Ama*

          HR is full time, is the only HR person (not sure who they answer to but there’s an org chart somewhere), our branch of the company is 150ish people, but the company itself is international and the headquarters is not local. HR person has been working here for many years.

          I’m mostly just wonder what routes to consider to address HR-specific concerns I have in the future if HR being conscientious with my concerns is not something I can trust.

          1. No Longer Passing By*

            That’s tough because it’s 1 full-time HR person who’s been with the company for a period of years. I’m going to guess that there isn’t really someone to go to except the general manager and you probably need to find out her relationship with the HR person first. The HR person probably grew in her role or straight out of school so meaningful experience is an issue.

            Speaking as a person in a small family run company, I question whether there’s even an effective complaint system. you may need to do some Intel to determine management’s real view of the person before making a complaint.

            I’m betting that, although her title is HR, she’s more like an in-house recruiter, onboarder, and benefits administrator than full- cycle HR. Meaning, don’t go to her for any HR complaint or anything sensitive like ADA accommodations. None of that’s really her job or skill set; ignore her title

    2. Student*

      HR is not there to keep complaints confidential. They are there to address problems that could jeopardize the COMPANY that they represent. Not you, the employee – the organization that is paying their bills.

      The reason HR investigates claims of harassment and such is to protect the company from having to fight lawsuits or pay out legal judgements. They don’t do it because it’s the right thing to do, they do it because the law makes such behavior a very expensive business cost if it is allowed to happen. Sure, many individual HR people do their jobs because they want to help people do the right thing – but that is not why HR departments are funded, in most places. It’s a type of compliance department.

      Yes, it’s inappropriate for this HR person to gossip about incidents that get brought to her attention. However, you should never expect stuff that goes to HR to be confidential. That’s contrary to their role – they ought to be taking incident informant and doing something about it. That “something” might be to talk with relevant managers and fix the problem, or it might mean telling a manager that the complainant is a stirring up trouble and ought to be kept an eye on. If you want stuff kept confidential, go hire your own lawyer.

      1. No Longer Passing By*

        Agreed. But HR should investigate appropriately in order to make changes that, at minimum, will reduce the company ‘s liability. Harassment would increase liability so HR should aim to remedy, not share juicy gossip. This is the opposite of what should be done

      2. Lurker Ama*

        I wouldn’t mind if HR was sharing the information that needed to be shared, but saying to someone that Susan made a complaint against them for making the workplace so unpleasant/uncomfortable isn’t necessary and has too much potential for retaliation, and saying to someone looking for mediation that Joe has had conflicts with all these other people too and here is all the juicy drama and this one person they didn’t like no longer works here but you might want to look them up to hear their story too! … Not so good for HR purposes.

    3. Retail Lifer*

      I have never had a good experience with HR. I’ll never trust them again. From now on I will only call the anonymous hotline.

      First bad experience: I was a manager in a store that had so many problems with turnover and sales and management that we had to have an HR intervention. I was cornered by an HR rep and asked to discuss any issues I might be having with the store manager. After initially hesitating, I told her everything. She then proceeded to tell HIM everything and did nothing to correct anything. Coincidentally, right after that I started getting written up for everything, including stupid stuff and things I had nothing to do with. I was eventually fired and the final issue was something I had nothing to do with but, hey, employment at will!

      Second bad experience: Current job. A bunch of us banded together and called the anonymous hotline about several major issues with management. It was enough to trigger a massive investigation. No one knew who called so they talked to everyone. I was told by the manager and HR rep leading the investigation that if things didn’t improve or got worse or I saw any signs of retaliation I could come to them. I did wind up coming to them, and they turned right around and told the people involved that I complained about them. Then those people angrily confronted me. And of course all of the problems that we originally called about still persist. It’s a fantastic working environment now.

    4. Bend & Snap*

      One of the 6 million reasons I left my last company is that our sole HR person was a vicious gossip, and overblew a simple request for advise working with someone who had a different style to the point that my boss told me to “f-ing fix the problem and I don’t want to hear another word about it.”

      There was no problem. I asked her for some input. Trust demolished.

    5. No Longer Passing By*

      I’m curious about the amount of HR reps who appear to be vicious gossips. What would cause this? I had to terminate an HR assistant who sat around doing NOTHING all day long. Why? Why? This was your major. Why are you doing nothing?

    6. cold so cold I can't pretend*

      Frankly, there is a larger lesson to be learned here: promises of confidentiality are frequently broken.

      In practice, before you level with someone, try to imagine the consequences if this person spills the beans. Can you live with them? If not: you may want to reconsider opening up to this person.

  60. manomanon*

    I posted a few weeks ago about looking for a second job and I had an audition for one this week- yes an audition.
    It’s for a hair place whose colors are black white and yellow. It was a group of us all at once complete with ice breakers, skits and silly games… for a job. The kicker to the whole thing was that I was the only one not commenting on how much fun the process was. Absolutely absurd, this was after the very disorganized process to begin with- not something I recommend.
    I have never been so happy to not get a job in my entire life.

    1. Camellia*

      Ice breakers, games, and…skits? SKITS? There are no words for this. My heartiest congratulations to you for not getting this job!

    2. No Longer Passing By*

      Remind me not to get my hair colored in any salon with a yellow, black, and white color scheme. Clearly, they know what matters….

    3. Manomanon*

      To be fair it was for a receptionist job- I get my hair blow dried there all.the.time and adore the work.
      But yeah… Priorities

  61. Anony-moose*

    Not a question perse, but something to share :)

    A little under a year ago I left my job to follow my supervisor/mentor to another company. The head of the company was…not happy. Absolutely treated me like shit during my notice . Continued to harass me and my mentor for a few months afterwards. Really icky. I cut ties with everyone I knew at the org to avoid getting pulled further into the toxic situation and vacillated between being really angry and really sad about the whole thing.

    Now I’ve learned that about eight people have left the company. In droves. Including key senior staff. I’m watching in awe as people run, run, run. Is it bad that I’m a little gleeful about the whole thing?

    1. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Not at all. I’d be happy for them for realizing they deserve better and can do better…and yes, gleeful at seeing the head of the company having to deal with the consequences of torpedoing her own ship. :) Without consequences, most people would never improve, right?

    2. Anie*

      Something similar is happening at my office. Earlier in the year, execs had been a little…threatening. Example: Oh you don’t like that I’ve cut your benefits? How about I take them away altogether? How would that be? Basically a “If you don’t like it, then leave” approach.

      Sooo, people are leaving. Lol. So far two VERY senior managers. It suuuucks for the rest of us who are still looking, but I so get it. And even as more work gets tossed my way, I’m still gleeful the top exec is reaping her just reward.

  62. Random CPA*

    We’re hiring for an accountant where I work. We do a skills and writing assessment (writing because clear email communication with other departments is key to the role). One of the candidates interviewed fairly well, and the 3 of us that interviewed her were thinking we’d call her back for a second interview to meet with others assuming she did well on the assessment. The assessment was on skills she said she had during the interview. Before our accountant left for his new position, he took it and completed it in 10 minutes.

    So 40 minutes go by since the person started the assessment, and the person in HR came by my office and told me the candidate was still working on the assessment but stopped to take a bathroom break and brought all of her things including her cell phone to the bathroom with her. This seemed odd to both of us because we had her working on the assessment in a vacant office, which would be her office if she got the job, and presumably, she would not bring all her stuff with her each time she took a bathroom break. So I emailed a copy of the assessment to myself and found that the person had only completed a 3rd of it in 40 minutes. She was gone for a long time in the bathroom, too. I suspect she was looking up how to do the functions in Excel, which seems very deceptive to me. After she came back from the bathroom, she finished the rest of the assessment in 20 minutes. I think the first part took her so long because she couldn’t figure out how to do the second part.

    However, though the rest of the interview panel agrees with me that we should not bring her back for a second interview, the question my boss, another person at my company, and my husband have asked is whether the skills she was likely looking up were things we could train her on. They are, but to me, that’s not the issue. The issue is that in an accounting role where people have access to cash, banking information, etc. integrity is critical, and to me, her going into the bathroom to look up answers doesn’t show integrity.

    Now, had she said, “Hey, I’ve forgotten how to do this function, and usually when that happens, I Google it to refresh my memory. Is it okay to do that for the assessment since that’s how I would approach this if I were offered and accepted the job?” I would have respected her honesty and resourcefulness. Am I overreacting to thinking her behavior was deceptive?

    1. Anoners*

      Yeah, that is deceptive, and I think you’re right. I mean, really, you gave her a test, and she cheated on said test (or at least you’re pretty sure she did). You have to work with the information you have on the candidate, and the information you have on this one is not-so-great.

    2. Diddly*

      I don’t think you’re overreacting. But your option for her to question you about Google is a bit difficult if she’s away in a vacant office.
      I’d point out your worry about dishonesty to the other groups reminding them she has access to such and such.
      Or you could bring her in for a further interview and ask what happened, tell her what you believe happened and see how she reacts/question her excel skills. If she’s truthful/apologetic and says she’s prepared to learn, then perhaps it’s salvageable – but still seems odd.

    3. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Absolutely it was deceptive. If she didn’t think she was doing something you’d object to, she would have done it in the office, not hidden herself away in the bathroom to do it. She knew she was doing something she shouldn’t be — hence integrity problem, hence rejection.

    4. fposte*

      I would pass on her, but I’d also be more specific and vigilant about assistance during the skills assessment. “While we all Google stuff in daily life, we’re looking to know what it is you know without Googling, and we’ll also therefore ask that you stay in this space while doing the test or leave your phone behind if you have to step out.”

      1. Random CPA*

        Thanks everyone for your feedback!

        fposte, we will definitely be more specific with the next candidate. Our HR person said that after thinking about it, she should have asked the person to leave her phone behind when showing her to the bathroom.

      2. Ad Astra*

        This is sort of the opposite of my suggestion, but I agree it could help to be more specific one way or the other. Clear expectations are always good.

      3. Student*

        I’m not clear on how this skills assessment is supposed to work. Are these tests proctored at all? If not, then your other candidates could’ve been “cheating” and you just didn’t know.

        Are candidates allowed to use Excel’s built-in help function? What’s the real, job-based difference between someone who can do the skills in the allotted time with Google (or built-in help) and someone who knows them all by heart? Shouldn’t you be able to see that by how big of a difference in competence in the time it takes to complete the test?

        I’m not saying what she (presumably) did was right. She should’ve asked what was allowed, not looked up answers in a bathroom. But in the future, you should make this clear for everyone, so that either everyone gets to Google stuff, or no one does. And if an exam needs to be proctored, then have someone actually proctor it.

    5. Steve G*

      I don’t understand you’re family’s argument that the stuff is trainable. Being an Accountant is a professional where it is easy to get training in and find resources online to train yourself. Its not some niche job or new industry.

      This reminds me when we tested someone in Excel in past CO with a really easy project and they got stumped with vlookup and said “the vlookup isn’t working” and all of this drama about it. They obviously had no clue how to write one, and didn’t even think to enter the fX formula function and lookup Vlookup and try it there (instead they just tried to guess how to do it from scratch), which also spoke to their general lack of Excel acumen.

    6. Ad Astra*

      I agree that this raises concerns, and if you have other qualified candidates I wouldn’t bother continuing with this one. That said, a candidate likely wouldn’t feel comfortable with the “Hey, am I allowed to Google this?” question.

      You make a good point about how she’d be able to Google things she can’t remember in a real-life setting, so maybe in the future you should consider telling candidates it’s ok to look something up. If they have the skills but can’t remember a shortcut or something, they’ll finish the assessment in a normal amount of time. If they really don’t know how to do the work, they won’t be able to learn something entirely new through Google in the time you allot for the assessment.

    7. LQ*

      Everyone else has addressed the rest so I wanted to mention the google part.
      Is it really a problem if someone googles something? If I take 5 minutes and someone else takes 20 but they do it through trial and error and I google to refresh my memory is there a problem with me asking google? (This assumes the task is sufficiently complex to really test if they understand it.)

      From an example below I’d totally get stumped on a vlookup, but I’d also be able to pull it up in a minute or two in google to get me back up to speed, it’s just not a function I don’t use every day. (Or even monthly, simply because it’s not part of my current job. But I also know I’d be bored to tears at a job that never let me do any kind of beyond the absolute basic excel functions.) Does that mean I don’t know it?

      1. Random CPA*

        As I said, if she had popped her head in my office and asked me to Google it because she needed a refresher, I would have told her she could do that (the vacant office she was working on the assessment in was right next door to mine, so this would have been easy enough for her to do), but also looked at how much time it took her to finish the assessment. Looking something up to refresh your memory takes far less time than learning how to do something from scratch.

        I’d also like to mention, the assessment tested her on skills that she claimed she had during her phone interview and that we asked more information about during the in-person interview. There was one particular skill that HR wrote down that she had during the phone interview, so we put it in the assessment. However, after interviewing her she clarified that what she had said to HR is that she hadn’t used that function before, but could probably figure it out. So as I was going through the assessment with her, I told her that if she wasn’t able to complete that function, it wouldn’t count against her.

        So if she did look up how to do the functions in the bathroom, then not only do I feel like she was deceptive, but I also feel like she misrepresented her skills. She said she had other skills and experience during the interview, so then I question whether she misrepresented those as well. If she wasn’t looking up things while in the bathroom, then she just took way too long doing the assessment. So either way, not a good candidate.

        But what threw me is that my boss, coworker, and husband all seemed to think her taking her stuff to the bathroom was not a big deal because we could train her on the skills and during her regular workday she could Google questions like that anyway. So I started to question whether it was a big deal or not. The whole thing seemed sneaky to me, and I don’t want someone on my team I can’t trust.

        1. Student*

          I think your boss’s point is mainly that the skills assessment might not really be a useful hiring indicator. I doubt they really want to defend the sneaking around behavior, maybe just get you to think of a better way to evaluate skills that are necessary vs nice to have.

          1. Random CPA*

            Well, if I have two great candidates and one already has the skills and the other doesn’t, all else equal, I’m going to choose the one that has the skills already. It will save time during training and we need someone that can hit the ground running.

            1. No Longer Passing By*

              Well there you go. But I think that Student’s point is, have you vetted the assessment test? Is this a commercial test? Did you research the vendor? Is this an internally developed assessment? Because they may be questioning the validity of the test. But anyway you take it, I can see why skilled would be preferable to unskilled

    8. Apollo Warbucks*

      I’m obviously in the minority here but I don’t think its that bad and I certianly wouldn’t extrapolate from this behaviour to think that there’s a risk hiring her because she might committ theft or fraud.

      That said her behaviour fell short of what was expected in the situation, she went to check some answers, even if she wasn’t told it was exam conditions there’s enough reason to think looking up the answers wasn’t what was intended, also taking 60 minutes to complete the test is a big problem when apparently it should take 10 – 15 minutes.

      So yeah a rejection but for me it’s because she a weak candiate not so much about honesty and integrity.

    9. Sunshine Brite*

      It seems deceptive, don’t get me wrong. But I know I’d feel uncomfortable in a new place like that even if it was a vacant office and probably take all of my things with me to the bathroom. Now if it was just the cellphone and like not the wallet or anything it would seem more straightforward in my mind. Plus, some people just need long bathroom breaks. I think the biggest thing is that she took forever to complete what seems like was an easy task for her predecessor and if that assessment is still something valid to measure skill on the work then that’s your easiest answer for not asking her back.

  63. Diddly*

    So at my last job I was let go at the very end of my probation period and I felt that I hadn’t been given much warning at all. Although I’m sure the other side would say different. It’s made me worried that the same thing will happen at the next job I have (which hopefully I’ll find soon…)
    I was hoping for scripts to be able to ask upfront what is expected for me to achieve during my probation period, how they will measure it and how will they let me know if I’m meeting or not meeting their expectations?
    I’m also worried as my manager claimed I didn’t have great attention to detail – lots of the roles I’m applying for look for great attention to detail – and in all my other roles they’d say I had it, he’s made me kind of self aware about this and worried about it and it puts me off applying for those jobs as I’m worried if I get to references stage he say I was lousy at that.

    1. Diddly*

      Also regarding probation period – I’m worried asking specifically about it will make it clear that I lost my job during probation period. Although manager has agreed to say it was a short contract (I think due to lack of warning.)

      1. Apollo Warbucks*

        Don’t talk about passing your probation, talk about doing a good job and performance instead, frame it that you want to do a good job not just pass probation. Like when you start a relationship you don’t talk to much about the how the last one ended and didn’t work out.

        Also dont dwell on it my dad who’s had 25 years working in the same profession was recently let go after a couple of months in a new job, the job wasn’t right for him and he wasn’t right for the job he was a bit shaken up but moved on to a new job and is much happier.

        Lastly I’ll second the comments below, get some meetings with your boss set up and get regular feed back.

        1. Diddly*

          Thanks – I’m probably over thinking it – the company I was working at was very small and kind of backwards, and made me feel uncomfortable asking anything. My line-manager really did nothing, and it was confusing what was expected of me. It definitely wasn’t the right fit.

    2. Colette*

      I’d suggest weekly (or biweekly) meetings with your manager where you talk about how things are going and specifically ask if there’s anything they like you to do differently.

      1. Diddly*

        How do you arrange this, in my former roles it was just part of HR pattern, but last role was very small company and it was hard to find private time to talk to anyone and ask for a regular meeting.

        1. Colette*

          I’d just ask my manager directly. “Is it possible for us to get together every week or two to make sure we’re aligned on what I’m doing?”

          1. Future Analyst*

            +1. Frame it as you wanting to make sure you are all on the same page. A weekly or bi-weekly meeting can go a long way towards making sure you are meeting expectations. Additionally, I would encourage you to be upfront with your manager, and tell her that you’ve been in a situation in which you did not receive clear direction, and didn’t fare well under nebulous requirements. Proactively asking that individuals communicate when you are not doing what they expect/want won’t prevent all future miscommunication (or complete lack thereof), but it will help set you in the right direction.

            1. Diddly*

              I think that’s a good idea, to frame it as an experience that didn’t work for me/way I learn/understand things.
              Thanks all for answering! It’s one those I’ve been worrying over, even though I’m no where near a new job, I’d just rather that didn’t happen again!

  64. Emi*

    I don’t care!!! I don’t care why we’re calling a folder ‘intake’ and not ‘incoming’. I don’t care why provider X is submitting data in a slightly different way. I don’t care about backlogs increasing when we’re already emptying the ocean with a Dixie cup.

    On a gut human level I just can not bring myself to work up any level of emotional investment in the mundane machinations of office life. Or my work on its own merits. When I leave for the day I don’t give any of this a second thought. It’s a check and that’s it.

    Does anyone know what I’m getting at? This sense that life is too big and interesting to care about your menial job??! My practical side knows some stuff you just gotta do and get over it…but I’m finding it really difficult the older I get.

  65. TheExchequer*

    This week.

    – I have had a parade of stupid people come by (“Is the stuff you sell real?” What. “How do I cancel the order I haven’t made yet?” What. “Can’t you just give me stuff for free?” Uh, no. What.)
    – I had no follow up from the interviews I had, one of which was a second round interview. Yes, I reached out to them to ask for one. What.
    – Both of the cars we use broke down at the same time. One had a hose break, the other one got the seat belt caught in the door and the door will. not. budge. What.

    It’s just a whole lot of stupid that would be made at least marginally better if I could get a job offer soon. Anyone looking for a slightly unlucky office assistant? :P

    1. Elizabeth West*

      Aaauugh, what a week. I hear you on the stupid Whats. They’re so much easier to deal with when the big stuff is going well. I hope you find something soon. (Also that What thing was funny.)

    2. Nanc*

      All I can say is I hope things get better, soon! Maybe the Winchester Mystery House is hiring?

  66. afiendishthingy*

    So a few weeks ago I posted about how I was pretty sure my awful unsupportive lazy director overheard me and a couple coworkers complaining about him. I was mortified and ashamed of my own professionalism but also trying to figure out if I could adjust to his “management” style or if it was a “your buss sucks and isn’t going to change” situation – which would suck because this is my first post-grad school job, I’ve been here just under a year, I generally like the job otherwise, and I still have a lot to learn here and really don’t want to leave the agency.

    Wednesday he sent an email saying he was leaving the agency at the end of this month, doesn’t look like too amicably – “I wish things had turned out differently regarding developing new programming for Teapot Handles and Spouts but sometimes it just doesn’t”. Not sure if he’s leaving because he doesn’t feel like he was allowed to do what he wanted to do or if he’s being forced out because he does not fulfill his job duties, but I’m happy either way! I’m especially happy if it’s the latter, though, because it’s good to know if leadership is willing to get rid of a bad manager who’s alienating good employees. Yay!

  67. AnonToday*

    I’ve got an interesting situation at work, and I’m wondering how the brilliant minds here might handle it:

    Thanks to a business relationship, our company has gotten a reception/private box package to a local very high-profile international sporting event the past couple years. It’s not common knowledge that we get this, and in the past, the people who go have been the board of directors, and a random selection of employees – historically those who have either a long tenure, or a history of socializing with the board.

    Though it’s pretty obvious these people are getting a MAJOR perk, there is never any communication to the rest of the company about why certain employees were selected to accompany the board on a pretty fancy day out.

    Well, this year I’ve been invited to go along. It’s really nice, I’m exited to go, and I have a few inklings on why I’ve been invited, but nobody has said “this is for doing a kickass job” or anything like that.

    It takes place on a workday, so I’ll be out of the office, and it’s going to be obvious where I’m going and who I’m going with. Do I try to explain to my team (I’m their manager; enough are new that many won’t be aware of this corporate perk, or who gets to take advantage of it) why I’m going? Or how the selection process works (total black box)? It seems strange to say I have no explanation, but hey, lucky me! Enjoy your day working, suckers! But equally strange to say nothing at all.


    1. TotesMaGoats*

      I think you are overthinking this. Just say you’ll be out and if someone asks then you can share. Sometimes managers get these perks and sometimes you get them for doing a good job on something. Either way, enjoy your day and don’t stress about what people might or might not be thinking.

      1. Steve G*

        I concur, also many people don’t even want to go to the Hampton Classic or NAscar 500 or whatever, or only want to go once for the experience, and then don’t want to deal with the prices, crowds, etc….so not everyone is even going to care

    2. Judy*

      “I’ll be out of the office tomorrow.” or “I’ll be offsite tomorrow.”

      It’s rare that a manager gives much more information than that, unless it is for a meeting that I need to know about.

  68. Evey Hammond*

    Anyone have any stories about leaving a reasonably high-paying job for a low-paying one in their preferred field? I’m about to quit a gig in a university research office for a summer internship in a library- basically my dream environment and a good way to get a foot in the door of my city’s public library system, which is notoriously hard to break into, but it obviously pays way less, and I’m a little nervous about making the leap.

    1. Colette*

      When I was laid off the first time, I ended up taking a job at 70% of my previous salary. (I was in high tech during the boom, and they didn’t cut salaries when the market changed.)

      Can you live on the lower salary? If so, that’s what matters.

      1. Evey Hammond*

        I think so! The position I had before this was fewer hours on similar pay and I managed to make that work.

        1. Colette*

          Then go for it! Just be conscious of your spending – it’s easy to get used to making more money and harder to go the other way.

    2. Diddly*

      Guess my only prob with this change is – what will you do if you don’t get a covetted position at the public library from this internship?
      Not saying you shouldn’t go for it, just make sure you have a back up plan for if it doesn’t lead to a job (unless this is a sure thing.)

        1. Evey Hammond*

          It’s a paid internship, if that helps! (Also my definition of “well-paying” is a little skewed- prior to this job I worked in food service so really anything above minimum wage is good to me.)

      1. Evey Hammond*

        Yeah, I’ve been worrying about that myself. I think as long as I prepare for that eventuality and make sure to apply for other jobs well before it ends. I’ve got some solid admin experience under my belt and a surprising number of the skills I earned doing my MLIS are transferable outside the field, so I am moderately confident that I can work elsewhere if library jobs are thin on the ground when I finish (as they often are).

        1. Evey Hammond*

          “I think as long as I prepare for that eventuality and make sure to apply for other jobs well before it ends I should be okay” is what I meant to say there!

          1. Diddly*

            Sounds like you shouldn’t worry then :)- if you can live off the salary and you’ve thought it all out – then go for it especially as it what you want to do! :)

  69. KAZ2Y5*

    I have an interview scheduled for this Monday, yay! It would be working for the state I am in and they apparently use some type of outside source for their reference checks? With an email survey. And I haven’t been able to connect with 2 of my 5 references they need for an email address! Why have you disappeared now oh former managers of mine? I have texted and called and facebooked them before with no problem but now….
    I have sent an email to the HR person who contacted me, but am wondering if anyone else has been stuck in this position and how much time you got. I can replace one reference with someone else if necessary, but not both (I don’t have that many former managers!).
    And the moral of this story is to always get the email addresses of your references, just in case (I’ve never had to have this before, so never knew…)

    1. Diddly*

      That’s a lot of references! Does it have to be former managers? Can it be former co-workers or college professors etc?
      Can you contact the places you used to work and ask if they can connect you with these managers? Equally can you ask former co-workers the same?

      1. KAZ2Y5*

        I know, I have never had to have this many references before. Maybe because it is a state government job? 3 have to be managers and the other 2 can be coworkers. I have heard from 1 manager and 2 coworkers and have their email addresses. I have contacted another coworker who knows both managers to see if he knows where they are.
        The HR person also emailed me back and said it would be better to wait until I get all of them, so she at least knows I’m working on it. Hopefully I will have all the info I need by the end of the weekend!

    2. No Longer Passing By*

      That is a lot of references. Are they using ChequedReference or something similar? I’m presently considering using such a service but have concerns

      1. KAZ2Y5*

        They are using something called Skill Survey. I have never done anything like this before so couldn’t tell you anything about it. But I did get all the email addys I needed, so hopefully all is good!

  70. Cool doodle*

    A coworker made a mistake that cost the company money and I’ve been assigned to fixing it. Now my boss is mad at me for it :(

    Any advice on just brushing off this anger?

    1. Random CPA*

      Do you know why your boss is mad at you for it and not your coworker? Unless you were responsible for checking over your coworker’s work, that seems unreasonable.

  71. workplace vent*

    A couple weeks ago, a manager in my company reached out directly to tell me that she had already verified my eligibility with HR and asked me to apply to a position on her team by directly emailing my resume and cover letter to a specific HR person, so I did. Days later, I get a response from HR saying they’d had an offer out to someone for 2 weeks and they’d let me know. Early this week, I overheard the manager finalizing this person’s start date and to this point, no one has said anything to me.

    It’s so frustrating that they handle internal applicants like this!

    1. Diddly*

      Can you tell your manager this – the one that proposed you for the position, perhaps by framing it that you like some feedback about why you didn’t get the role, you could also say it kind of put you off applying for other internal roles – she might report back to them and you might also know why you got passed over. Or why they asked for a further candidate when they’d already offered someone the role (perhaps the manager is at fault here and shouldn’t have asked you to submit your application.)

    2. Future Analyst*

      No advice, just want to say this sucks, and sorry! :( They definitely should have handled it better, particularly since the manager reached out to you, not the other way around.

  72. Anon Today*

    My co-worker will not stop sucking her teeth, and it’s driving me nuts.

    I know that it’s a loaded topic, as the French government just issued a ban on it in schools. I know its racial implications. I think it’s ridiculous to ban it.

    But my God, she WON’T STOP. She’s done it twenty times today alone. It’s SO AGGRAVATING. It’s gotten to the point that every time she does it I slam my desk drawer because it’s so viscerally annoying.

    Should I tell her to stop?

    1. Diddly*

      Really the French government have banded it? I didn’t even know that was a thing, sorry to be a dummy – but what are the racial implications?
      Think you just have to address it, I guess, but like I said, no idea there was any ban on such a thing, or that it could have racial implications.
      Perhaps you’re over thinking it. To be honest when someone did something similar to me, I just said that’s getting really irritating, could you stop. Or that’s starting to bug me. Think they’ll likely just to say sorry, if you do it casually enough, and then try and do it less- unless there’s tension between you.

      1. Anonsie*

        Man this is one of those things that’s really hard to explain to someone who isn’t already familiar with it, kind of like the formal names/titles thing from a few weeks ago. It’s one of those things that’s more commonly done by specific groups, and in this context the lines on who does it is heavily based on race and class as these things tend to be. So specifically calling it out requires delicacy because there are bigots that latch onto stuff like that as a veiled way to criticize by race while going “What? What? I’m just talking about actions, it has nothing to do with race!” Because they’re also liars.

        That said, this is one of those things I don’t do at work because it definitely has some rude connotations where I’m from. If you did this to a teacher or your parents or something you’d be in trouble.

      2. No Longer Passing By*

        I can’t imagine how this is happening so often that a law was needed. Plus it’s extremely disrespectful. My parents would not tolerate it and I can’t imagine how it’s coming up so often in school or at work. It’s a known expression of disgust in the Afro-Carribean community and I know of no positive interpretation. It’s the verbal eye roll.

        Tell your coworker that it’s distracting and that if there’s something that’s bothering her, you’d appreciate that she communicate because her vocalizations are bothering you. If she’s doing it because you’re doing something that’s bothering her, you’d probably prefer that she just tell you what it is

    2. Diddly*

      Also she’s probably annoyed at you now for passively aggressively slamming your desk drawer which is no doubt driving her crazy. So probably good for all if you address it.

      1. Anonsie*

        Yeah I think you should knock it off with the drawer, that’s a pretty juvenile way to react to someone annoying you and I guarantee she’s noticed and isn’t impressed.

    3. MegEB*

      I had no idea this was a thing – this is kind of fascinating. Is she clearly doing it to express disapproval, or is it an unconscious habit? I’ve been known to suck my teeth, but I am definitely not Afro-Caribbean and I don’t do it consciously.
      I think you should tell her to stop, but take pains to be as sweet and non-confrontational as possible. “Jane, I’m really sorry to bring this up, but I’ve noticed you suck your teeth sometimes, and the noise is very distracting. Can you please stop doing that?”

    4. Katie the Fed*

      God, that is the WORST sound!

      You could ask if she has something in her teeth and needs a piece of floss, maybe? And if it continues just say “I find that noise really distracting – are you sure you don’t need a piece of floss?”

    5. QualityControlFreak*

      I had to look this up. I suffer from misophonia and this would drive me right up the wall. I have a coworker with a habit of constant loud, juicy nasal sniffing. All. Day. Long. This person has many behaviors that annoy, but this one gets me at a visceral level and there’s really nothing I can do about it as sinus issues are just one of the legion of problems this coworker has.

      Teeth sucking on the other hand, while cultural is voluntary and arguably controllable. I don’t think it’s crazy to tell them you find the sound distracting and ask them to stop.

  73. Diddly*

    How to people keep their motivation up during job hunt?
    Like an earlier poster I don’t have any major financial constraints at the moment so I can take some time. But my motivation is kind of flagging, largely I think because last year I did a big push to find a new job, temped, applied loads, volunteered, learned new skills. New job lasted 6 months… and then I’m back to square one, but can’t seem to get my butt in gear.

  74. Carmen Sandiego JD*

    I’m in a teapot national writer contract job, and people are leaving left and right, team leads are being let go as sacrifices ‘taking one for the team’ even if it was their subordinates’ fault. I have an in person interview with a major contracting company paying close to $10k *more* than what I’m making, but same title (and bigger perks–ie. they’ll offer leadership mentors built in, more transparency).

    And, I’m nervous b/c most times when I go into an interview, my vocal cords go squeaky and I nearly lose my voice (in addition to any hope of getting said role). Anybody have helpful hints/tips? I’m nervous about Monday, but I did well on the phone screening…

    1. Nashira*

      Relax your neck and shoulders and abdomen. Stretch them out in your car or other pre-interview staging area, and make sure you’re well-hydrated. Take a few moments to relax your mind, too, to let the anxiety go as much as you can. I am a dork and therefore use Frank Herbert’s Litany Against Fear.

    2. Diddly*

      Random one but old drama teacher recommended having a basil leaf, rubbing it between your hands to warm it up and then breathing it in to open up your vocal cords. Deep breathing generally helpful, perhaps hot tea. Whatever works to relax you and keep adrenaline down.
      Maybe look up similar hints and tips for actors/performers.
      Can you also practice what you might say to someone/ do a practice interview so it feels a bit natural?
      On the day -You could always cough and take some water, take a breath and say sorry I’m getting over a cold.

  75. Sloop*

    Quick question – a former coworker put me down for a reference for a new opportunity and I am more than happy to be a reference for her! The new organization called this morning, as I was running into a meeting and he said he’d call me back at 1 which works for me. It’s now 1:12 and am little concerned as I have meetings from 1:30-3:30. What is proper etiquette in this situation if we continue to play phone tag?

    1. Diddly*

      Perhaps say you can offer a written reference by email if convenient.
      Or give them specific time and say that it can’t be later as you have a meeting.

    2. BRR*

      Hmmm, leave a positive reference via voicemail and say to call or email if they have any specific questions?

  76. Nashira*

    This is me bragging, basically, in an attempt to silence my anxiety disorder. I had a chance for a face-to-face one-on-one with my normally-remote manager this week, and as part of it we discussed how my degree is going. I’m headed into information security, which means once I graduate, we both knew I would be looking for a new position. Not only was I able to affirm that I would like to stay with my current company if possible, since they do tons of internal hires, but we talked about what my timeline for graduation would be like.

    I think I earned points with her for being honest about it and essentially giving her about two years’ notice. It may be less, if I can earn some certifications and find a less-toxic work environment sooner than that, but er… She doesn’t need to know that much detail.

    I just hope my brain weasels aren’t right in telling me that they’ll preemptively replace me soon, ugh. It took them eight tries to find someone who could do my job and manage the clients’ staff’s attitudes, last time. My manager and boss adore me. I don’t think they want to play roulette again. Right?

  77. Ghost Pepper*

    Have you ever had an interview where the interviewer asked you solely one question: “Do you have any questions for me?”

    That’s it. Nothing about your resume, your background, your hobbies or interests.

    Had an interview like this. I later got the job and casually mentioned to the interviewer (now coworker) his “interesting interview method.” He said it was deliberate and intentional.

    Anyone else aware of this type of interview?

    1. Evey Hammond*

      That’s… really bizarre. I guess it gives the candidate a chance to talk up their own skills and experiences? Still, weird.

    2. Kelly L.*

      In other words, “I don’t want to bother thinking up questions–I’ll make the candidate interview me instead!” LOL.

    3. GOG11*

      I had an interview at a retail store. The store manager talked about the job for about 90% of it. The other ~10% was me briefly going over my qualifications when I found an opening in the conversation. He’d said “something, something, job qualification, I’m not sure if you have experience with that…” (I did…it was on my resume…) and I jumped! Not sure if I would have gotten the opportunity to talk about my fit for the role if I hadn’t done that.

      Didn’t get the job. And after that interview, I knew I didn’t want the job.

    4. Graciosa*

      I ran into it once as a candidate and hated it. In my case, it was the last of a series of interviews and at that point, I honestly didn’t have any questions and said so.

      This is undoubtedly not the “right” answer and I didn’t get the job – but I’m not sorry about that. This “method” of interviewing does not inspire my admiration, and I don’t regret not working for the individual who used it.

    5. Ad Astra*

      I did once have a phone interview where the hiring manager said, “So basically, I’m just gonna let you ask all the questions,” and it did throw me off a little. This was my second interview for the position, so I guess the other hiring manager (his boss) had filled him in on my skills and such. But since he and I worked so closely together, I’m surprised he didn’t have questions of his own. I did end up getting the job, though.

      1. Diddly*

        Unrelated but I did an art exam in high school and the examiner flummoxed me by doing this – it said in all the exam material that I would be asked questions instead he asked me to explain everything to him.

    6. CheeryO*

      Yep, and it was completely bizarre. He read my resume out loud and made a few vague comments about my experience, gave me a very brief overview of what the company does and what the person in the role would be doing, and asked if I had any questions. I totally fell on my face because I didn’t even know where to start. I think the entire interview took about 15 minutes, and I never heard back from them.

    7. Steve G*

      Never this bad, but as I’ve kvetched about recently in open threads, I definitely notice employers preparing a lot less for interviews and screens than my last job hunt. Reasons I’m thinking this happens is managers thinking they are smart enough to wing interviews even though they’re not, laziness because a perceived change in the power dynamics in the job hunt, and I’m also wondering if its a “generational” thing, that people who started in HR after the 2008 crash were never trained properly or at all in how to conduct interviews, because I’ve noticed this the most with 20-something HR people doing initial phone screens than with older people doing phone screens in this and my past job searches. I’ve also noticed older HR people seeing connections between related experience to a position, while 20-somethings black out everything/don’t want to discuss anything not 100% related to the job they are hiring for. Maybe a study of post-’08 HR workers is needed:-)

    8. Sara*

      I had an interview a couple of weeks ago where the only question he asked me was “Tell me about yourself.” The rest of it was basically a pitch for the position he wanted to hire me for (which wasn’t exactly the one I applied for, but is quite similar).

  78. No work at work*

    I’m looking for advice on what to do when I don’t have enough work at work. I’m very new to this position, and I often run out of things to do by the afternoon. So I end up sitting at my desk twiddling my thumbs for many hours, feeling like I’m wasting my employer’s time. I’ve asked my boss if there are other things I can do, and he suggested a few but they’re not enough to fill my time.

    I wouldn’t mind sitting and reading or working on personal projects except for the music. My work environment is very casual, and we work in an open space with no cubicles or walls, so we often play music over the speakers without worrying about content. The flip side of that is my supervisor listens to standup comedy that I find deeply offensive (it’s racist, homophobic, and misogynistic. I don’t think my supervisor means to be offensive, but I think they haven’t though about how it might affect people). And if music is playing it’s hard to focus on anything – but I feel antisocial and rude if I put my headphones in. I’m planning to express my disapproval of the offensive comedy routines, but I don’t want to tell my coworkers I’d rather not listen to their music.

    Does anyone have advice on what to do when work is light, or how to escape my coworker’s music without seeming rude?

    1. Colette*

      Have you explicitly told your boss that you can’t fill your time with the tasks he’s suggested? Do you have a sense on when you’ll be busy? It’s really hard to have a job where you’re not busy, so I’d be concerned that this will go on too long.

      I think headphones are fine – but that depends on your environment. Does the music bother you when you’re working on work or just when you’re working on personal projects?

      1. No work at work*

        I haven’t told my boss that since I asked for more things to do. Everyone tells me that work will pick up in the fall, but that’s a while off. The things he’s suggested so far are mostly helping other people with their jobs, which I don’t mind at all, but I don’t want to be underfoot either.

        The music doesn’t bother me when I’m actually working – but the standup routines do. I’m leery of putting my headphones on if I’m just working on a personal projects because if it’s loud enough to drown out music I also can’t hear if someone talks to me. I don’t want to seem like I don’t want to take on more work if it emerges!

          1. No work at work*

            I work behind the scenes at a retail establishment, so in helping out I would be organizing merchandise in a public area that is usually organized by someone else. And would be almost literally underfoot. :)

            1. No Longer Passing By*

              Ah…. I don’t know then…. Perhaps you can ask a coworker what was their onboarding process like and what they did to learn the job and try to create your own personal training program that way? Unofficially shadow??

              1. No work at work*

                That’s a good idea, thanks. :) Maybe I’ll ask a few of my coworkers what it was like when they started. There’s a high turnover where I work so a lot of people are relatively new.

        1. Colette*

          I’d recommend asking what you should be doing since you DJ t have enough to do. Helping coworkers can be a good way to learn, so maybe that’s the right answer, or maybe your manager just wants you to keep yourself busy or do training courses. Ask.

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      Thinking pragmatically here (not idealistically), I don’t think you need to focus on how offensive the comedy routines are—you can just focus on the noise level and say it’s distracting… same as the music. It’s not the content or choice—just the fact that you can hear it. A lot of people get easily distracted by media playing in the background, and that’s nothing to be ashamed of.

      In terms of not having enough to do. Depending on the type of work you do, is there anything you can be proactive about without waiting for your boss to assign you something? Are there processes you can streamline or make more efficient, tools you can implement that are better than the tools you’re currently using? If not, I’d say just use the extra time to do something for yourself. As you said, you can work on personal projects. Or teach yourself programming. Or write a novel.

      Best of luck to you!

      1. No work at work*

        @Colette – I’ll try to get up the courage to ask.

        @Anonymous Educator – That’s a good point about the music, I would like it to be quieter – I think it would help me work as well as be less distracting in general. Though I don’t want to seem like a wet blanket who doesn’t want to listen to music haha. I’ve tried to improve a few things around, I’m afraid that being so new there might be certain procedures that seem incomprehensible to me but are actually necessary. But I’ll see what else I can think of. And then maybe I’ll just put my headphones in and write a novel.

        Thanks everyone for the advice!

  79. Liana (not my real name)*

    So I’ve been debating about whether to post this at all, because it’s actually a pretty sore subject for me and I don’t think I’m going to garner much sympathy for my situation, but it’s been eating at me for awhile, so I’m going to just bite the bullet and ask the AAM community for advice:

    A few months ago I was arrested. Nothing too terrible – it’s definitely a misdemeanor, but I WAS charged (whether or not I should have been charged is a different story, but the fact remains that I was). To make a long and upsetting story short, I essentially got drunk and pushed someone at a bar. I’m working with a lawyer and chances are looking good that the charges will be dismissed, but it shows up on my record, and I do work in an industry where they do CORI checks for all employees. Even if the charges are dismissed, I’m worried that they’ll still show up on a check and torpedo my chances of getting another job when I decide to move on from this one. I like my current job and plan on staying here for a few years, so this isn’t something that’s going to come up soon, but eventually I will move on and I’m afraid I won’t be able to find another job. When this point comes, should I bring it up proactively, or should I wait for them to run the CORI check and hope for the best? If I bring it up proactively, I might be creating an issue where there wouldn’t otherwise be one. If I wait for a prospective employer to find out on their own, it’ll look terrible for me.

    Add to this the extreme guilt I already feel about the whole night in question, lingering issues I’ve had surrounding anything that reminds me of that experience (I had a panic attack the other week when a friend jingled a pair of plastic handcuffs in the room), residual anger over the way I was treated by police, and terror that I might drink too much and have this happen again, and I’ve been kind of a mess the past few months. I worked really hard to get my career to this point, and I’m afraid it’ll all be shot down because of this one incident. Has anyone else dealt with this?

    1. Creag an Tuire*

      Even though it’s standard practice in your field, isn’t it likely that the interviewers will ask/otherwise bring up the fact that they will be performing a background check at some point? That seems like the time to bring it up.

      Keep it to-the-point and factual; you have one blemish on your record due to an error in judgement; you regret and have taken steps to make sure it never happens again. I don’t think a reasonable employer will hold one bar fight against a you if it was several years ago and not part of a pattern.

      1. MegEB*

        In both my current job and my previous one, it was only mentioned by the HR person when they called to make an offer, not by the interviewers. I work in healthcare – it’s kind of expected that they’ll run a check. I don’t know that I’d feel comfortable bringing it up with an HR rep who wasn’t actually involved in the hiring process – they don’t know me or what I look like, and they don’t even know why I was hired, just that I was who the hiring manager wanted.

        1. MegEB*

          Also, I just realized that my replies have been posting under a different name than the original comment – sorry! “MegEB” is the pseudonym I use on this site, but I have different names, including “Liana” for different blogs I comment on, and I think I accidentally typed the wrong one at some point. Sorry for any confusion!

        2. soooo Anon*

          Well, this totally depends on what in healthcare you do, and where/ how they do their background checks. But a few data points for you- I am in healthcare HR, and pretty much everything comes up on our checks, but, if it is not a conviction we are not likely to hold it against you. Particularly one item- possibly a pattern, but that is not what you have here. It would also need to be relevant to your position to have an impact on whether you are hire-able, but we would probably ask you for a written explanation.
          But what I really came here to say is that at least in my company, you would totally want to bring it up with HR and NOT with the hiring manager- that is what we do, and if this does not exclude you we do not share it with your manager (possibly the head of your area, Director or C level, if it is not a direct report) and if it does disqualify you, we just tell them that, not the details.
          If you are in healthcare in a way that involves patient contact and requires licensing, credentialing etc. (for example, a doctor) once this is resolved out some thought into a brief written statement you can provide on request because it will come up forever.

    2. BRR*

      I would probably bring it up when you know they will do a check. Also I would start networking now so that when you’re looking they can say, “Liana had this happen but it’s very unlike her and positive positive positive.” You might always check with a hiring manager in your industry to get them to weigh in. Is there any chance of getting it off your record at some point in time?

      1. MegEB*

        Talking with another hiring manager in my industry is a good idea – maybe there’s a way to do it anonymously?

        I’ve been looking into getting it off my record at some point. If all goes well at my next court date, the charges will be dismissed after a period of probation (I think it’s usually six months). I’m not entirely sure whether the CORI check would still show the charges, even if they were dismissed, or if it only shows convictions. I’ve heard conflicting knowledge. Regardless, they’re minor enough that I should be able to get it expunged after a period of about 5 years, although in 5 years I’m hoping to be in grad school and/or at a higher-level job, preferably management.

        1. can you dig the sheep goddess*

          They want you to wait 5 years to expunge it? Hmmm. You say you’re working with a lawyer, right? I Am Not A Lawyer, etc, but you’re going through a diversion program, after which the court will dismiss the charges? I know that this stuff can vary a lot from state to state, but are you sure you need to wait *5 years* for expungement? That seems like a long time. Obviously, you need to discuss this with your lawyer – people will sometimes play fast and loose with terms like “sealed” and “expunged”, so get your lawyer to tell you precisely what those things mean in your state.

          Regardless of how long it takes, it is most definitely in your best interest to petition for expungement as soon as you possibly can. I’m not seeing the actual charge against you, but if it’s something like ‘assault’ or ‘battery’, you *definitely* want to do what you can to get your record sealed / expunged. In case it’s not obvious, it’s worth spending some money on this to get it ‘handled’ as best as it is possible, and quickly, too.

    3. Apollo Warbucks*

      Don’t be so hard on yourself, one error of judgement doesn’t sum up your charater. I would hope that if charges aren’t brought then it wouldn’t be held against you be prospective employees, is there anyway the record can be suppressed? And another thing to think about is how much wriggle room you have when explaining what happened whilst still being honest. Can you explain that there was a small argument in a bar and it escalated until the police were called and a number of people,were arrested including you (or were you the only person arrested?) stress that it was a minor scuffle and no harm was done to anyone and no charges were brought as it wasn’t a major incident.

      Speak with humility and sincerity and try to show that you understand it was a bad situation and you learnt from the mistake.

      1. MegEB*

        So, the charges were definitely brought, and I was the only person arrested. If I was just put in a holding cell for a few hours with no charges, this wouldn’t be a big deal, but I am absolutely charged with a crime. In my state, the police can still charge you with a crime even if the victim doesn’t want to press charges. This is exactly what happened in this particular case, where the other girl involved told the police multiple times that she didn’t want to press charges, but they pressed charges “on her behalf”. It’s supposedly done to protect the victim, so the perpetrator can’t intimidate them into not pressing charges and therefore get away scot-free, but what ends up happening (at least in my city, which is a fairly major city) is that the police rack up multiple charges on a person for a single minor incident in the name of victim protection. No harm was done to anyone, no lasting damage, nothing.

        I think part of what’s making this so hard for me is that it’s become an incredibly painful thing for me to talk about, and the idea of ever having to explain it to someone who may offer me a job is filling me with dread. I know this is something I’ll have to get over, but it’s not making it easier for me to process the situation :(

    4. Jillociraptor*

      I think others have given good advice — if you can address it, when necessary, in a way that shows that it was a one-time error in your judgment rather than part of a pattern, and that you take responsibility for the things that were in your control, chances are good that you’ll be fine.

      But a couple of things in your message have me a little worried. First, the ongoing anxiety about this situation seems to really be impacting your life. Also, you stated that you’re terrified that the same thing might happen again. I think you could really benefit from talking to someone about this if you’re not already. This situation isn’t great, but it isn’t something that should destroy your career–not by a long shot, especially if it’s a one time thing. I think having someone else’s perspective in helping you work through what happened to you and figuring out strategies to ensure it doesn’t happen again could really help you feel confident about moving forward in a future job search and just generally in your life without this hanging over your head.

      1. MegEB*

        I’ve thought about talking to someone. I saw a therapist for a couple years and it was a really wonderful experience – she helped me work through a lot of other, unrelated issues related to anxiety and depression. I had eventually gotten to the point where I wanted to try going therapy-free, but I’ve considered going back. When it came to telling other people in my life about this, there were a couple people who didn’t react in the best way, and it sort of exacerbated my anxiety.

        1. Jillociraptor*

          I get that. If you have a therapist you can trust, though, I think it would be really helpful. I can imagine that getting judgment from others about something that you’re already feeling pretty vulnerable about is really unhelpful and hopefully having someone who’s got your back as you process your experience would help you a lot.

          1. Kerry (Like the County in Ireland)*

            This is major sstuff, and seeking treatment for drinking/anger management on your own, before sentencing, is the sort of thing that makes judges and others think that this behavior is a one-time abberation and not going to be a repeat offense.

            1. MegEB*

              So, in the interest of full disclosure, I’d like to make it known that I feel fairly confident that I don’t have a drinking problem, and the idea of going to AA/seeking treatment for alcoholism when I really, truly don’t believe I need it seems a little disingenuous. Maybe I’m looking at it the wrong way, but I feel like it would be wasting everyone’s time. I am considering going back to therapy though – I have a lot of unresolved feelings surrounding the whole incident (anger being one of them) and it might be helpful to have someone to talk to.

              1. Jillociraptor*

                I have exactly zero experience with alcoholism, but the thing that really struck me was that you said that you have “terror that I might drink too much and have this happen again”. That suggests that your drinking doesn’t really feel like it’s in your control. If that’s because you genuinely have trouble figuring out when you’ve had too much to drink, AA might be the way. If that’s more of a feeling that you generally don’t have control over what happens to you, therapy will probably be more helpful.

                And while I think it’s good to prioritize the solutions that are most likely to benefit you, I also really believe that any time you’re starting to think, “ehh, this isn’t going as well as it could be…” treatment won’t be a waste of time. I remember thinking that about therapy a lot — I was functioning fine, effective at work, getting by socially, but I was constantly anxious and plagued by intrusive thoughts; since it wasn’t affecting my ability to function, I put off therapy for a long time. It was important for me to realize that just because I was technically making it okay, doesn’t mean that I didn’t need or deserve support to be doing even better.

                If you have someone you trust to talk with seriously about your alcohol use, it might be helpful to consult them. Maybe they’ll totally agree that the issue is something else, and then you’ll maybe feel even better about pursuing the therapy path; or maybe they’ll help you see a pattern you wouldn’t otherwise have seen.

              2. goneanon*

                I think therapy is a good idea regardless. It sounds like a very stressful situation and you’ve got a lot of emotions about it to work through.

                I don’t think seeking treatment for an issue you don’t believe you have is a productive use of time either. However, I will say that ” terror that I might drink too much and have this happen again” jumped out at me, because it implied the possibility of you drinking too much was something you had no control over. It sounds like your fear is more about not being able to control the anger than the drinking, but if the drinking is a trigger I would be exceedingly cautious about overindulging at least until you’ve worked out better coping strategies for the anger.

                Good luck. Everyone screws up sometimes. I got into a screaming swearing match with someone years ago and almost lost a job over it. Extremely out of character for me, not my finest moment, and I had a whole lot of very conflicted emotions over how SHE STARTED IT and MANAGEMENT THREW ME UNDER THE BUS and then “oh, crap, I did not handle any of this well at ALL”. I lived, I learned. My therapist definitely helped me process that one.

                Hopefully charges will be dismissed long before you’re job hunting again. Take care.

            2. Kerry (Like the County in Ireland)*

              AA is not the only solution to get ahold of substance misuse issues, but as it is cheap and widely available it is the favorite of the legal system. If you don’t want to be forced into AA, at least talk to a therapist or counselor on your own.

    5. Ad Astra*

      I’m sorry this happened to you. Even if you made some bad choices, being arrested can be very traumatic and this situation is something that could happen to a lot of otherwise level-headed people.

      That said, I don’t think you should worry about this unless/until you’re convicted. Hopefully someone knows more than I do about CORI checks specifically and can confirm/deny that they only catch convictions. This also sounds like a case where you may end up in diversion and having this expunged.

      1. zora*

        in addition to my comment below, I second this point about diversion. In the event you completed diversion, it wouldn’t show up on a standard background check at all.

    6. zora*

      I guess it depends on the industry and type of job you would be applying for, but many employers don’t reject candidates for having any charges at all show up on the background check. I used to process hire paperwork including background checks and we only took it into account if it was a felony, or if it was directly related to the job they would be doing. Ex: any DUI charges would mean we couldn’t hire someone into a position where they would drive company vehicles, but often we could place them into a job anyway, but there was a specification (kept confidential with them and their manager) that they could not get put on our insurance and therefore could not drive our vehicles.

      Any unrelated misdemeanor convictions or dismissed charges would be disregarded by HR, but the background check results filed in our secure filing system.

      So depending on your career, I would say that no, your entire career is not over because of one incident. I am sorry you are going through this and are so stressed out about it, but please try to give yourself a bit of a break on this one.

    7. Karowen*

      I know I’m late and I’m honestly not going to read through the posts, but I do want to point out – ONLY convictions can be considered for employment decisions. If the case is dismissed, they cannot use it against you.

  80. Ms. I Need a New Job*

    What search engines/websites do you use to search for jobs? Which do you find to be most helpful? I primarily use and Washington Post jobs…

    1. S*

      For the non-profit world, Idealist is a good place to start. It’s where I found both jobs that I eventually got offers for, and neither were posted anywhere else.

    2. Bekx*

      Indeed because I liked the search function. I tried CareerBuilder on a whim and found my current job from there! So just try them all. I did find my first job out of college on craigslist…….of course it was a horrible company but still.

      I know my current company uses LinkedIn too

    3. Anonymous Educator*

      Sometimes it can be helpful to look at company/org. websites for products you use or causes you believe in and just see if they happen to have openings.

  81. Chickaletta*

    I got a job offer yesterday after almost two months of looking! I’m excited because the job is perfect for me. It has a wide variety of job duties including some off-site work and a little bit of travel, so every day will be a little different and I won’t be stuck behind a desk all the time. Best of all it has flexible hours and a laid-back environment– I can work from home several hours a week, keep my freelance job (he encouraged it), and if my work is done on a Wednsday afternoon and I want to take off to golf? No problem. Also: decent vacation time, the owner of this small company and I seemed to have great rapport during the interview, and the job title and the duties would position me for vertical job growth in the future.

    The salary he mentioned seemed low to me: $42k, but it’s hard for me to figure out what it really should be because 1) the job title is a little misleading (it has the word director in it, however I’m not managing anyone, let alone a whole department) 2) it encompasses a variety of jobs—marketing, community relations, PR, graphic design, and IT. 3) it’s a small company, like 20 employees.

    The good news is that the owner has opened the door wide to negotiation. His words were “let me know if this is way off base”. I asked for clarification if there was leeway in the salary and he responded “definitely”.

    So, he’s waiting for me to come back with a counter offer. But what? I’ve done some digging on the internet but for the reasons above it’s hard to pin down a figure. I’d like to ask for $50k, so that I can at least pay my mortgage and bills without being strained, plus I think the nearly 20% increase is a little more in line with all the responsibilities I’ll have. I know that’s a huge jump from the first number, but maybe based on the owners comments it’s not unreasonable. Would I be out of line to ask for that much more, even given his comments?

    For comparison, I had a phone interview with a different company yesterday who mentioned a similar salary to the first offer, but with a much narrower job description (graphic design only, so if I had to look for another job in the future I wouldn’t be able to make the career leap that the first job would allow). Job 2 also has a better health insurance plan, but that’s it. I doubt they’ll allow the flexibility in hours like the first company. They’ve asked me to come in for an in person interview next week, but I like the first job much better at this point.

    So, I’d like to hear other opinions about what to counteroffer in this situation.

    1. Apollo Warbucks*

      I think countering at $50,000 is a good idea it isn’t so much more than the original offer that it’s outragous and the guy seems open to having the conversation.

    2. Kerry*

      I’d counter with $55k and let him bring you down to $50k. It sounds like it’s justified.

    3. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

      $42 is a low salary for that wide skill set.
      $55 is a huge counter offer.

      I’ll fall at $50/$52 max, thinking you might have to settle at $48

      If $50 is the rock bottom you’d take, you could try $52 but stand firm at $50 when it got there.

    4. Chickaletta*

      Thanks everyone for your suggestions. I’m glad to know I’m not crazy here. I countered with 50, and he said he’ll think on it over the weekend, so we’ll see what happens.

      1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

        Hope this works out in the best way for you!

        It’s easy for small businesses to be out of the loop for market pay scales. It doesn’t necessarily mean the owner is cheap or trying to get something for less than street value. Might just be uninformed.

        So I hope this works out!

  82. puddin*

    Am waiting to hear on Dream Job offer. Have gone through all the interview steps and now I wait. I was told I should hear from them on Monday. I have apps that I am filling out in case I get passed over. At the same time, I am creating a ‘wrap up’ check list for the things I need to take care of at current job before I hypothetically leave. Can you say baited breath and roller coaster?

    Everything would be a step up with this job. The company, role, team, $$, benefits, even down to the cubicle walls, bathrooms, and office supplies. My commute would double, BUT I will make that trade – until it snows and I complain anyways.

    OK, well I need to pre-occupy myself lest I work myself into a tizzy!

    Thanks for letting me spout!

    1. S*

      Fingers crossed! I turned down an offer in hopes of waiting for a different one (bad idea, I know…) and I was wracked with nervousness during that gap period. And also beginning to write a checklist of things to wrap up, and also putting systems in place for how to do what I do. That was a nice distraction, along with the staff retreat that was happening the same week as reference checks for Offer #2!

  83. esra*

    A little thank you from the garbage-gifted employee:

    Thanks everyone! I was really stunned after my gift of garbage during surgery recovery, and it honestly helped to just have a bunch of people reply that it was indeed crazy. Sometimes when you’re in a bad spot, awful creeps into being normal and you wonder if you’re the weird one.

    1. Kerry*

      Yes, please let us know what happened – I’m really keen to find out how your coworkers reacted in the office!

      And I hope your surgery recovery is otherwise going well!

    2. Future Analyst*

      Totally agreed with your last line– when you’ve been in a setting too long with people who have a very warped sense of what constitutes funny/appropriate/adult behavior, it can be hard to remind yourself that you’re not the problem. Hope that you’re headed somewhere better!!

    3. Mimmy*

      I too remember this and am curious about the outcome. Hope all is going well with your recovery!

    4. fposte*

      Holy crap, esra, that was you?

      Wow, did you deserve better than that. I hope at least the physical stuff is doing better now.

  84. MsChanandlerBong*

    If you meet every single requirement in a job description, with the exception of one, is it still worth applying? I just saw an ad for a freelance proofreader. I have proofread more than 30 books, some of which have gone on to hit the New York Times and USA Today bestseller lists. They specifically want someone with medical experience; I am the former managing editor of a nursing magazine, and I currently write copy for eight different medical practices (two primary care practices and six specialties). The only problem? I don’t have a bachelor’s. I’m about 87 credits into a bachelor’s in business administration, but I’m not finished yet.

    1. Future Analyst*

      Apply! The worst that could happen is that they don’t call you. But based on your experience alone, I would think you’re worth at least an interview.

    2. Ad Astra*

      Absolutely, apply. Most employers will value skills over formal education, especially in something like proofreading. There might be some companies that would disqualify you for not having a degree, but I wouldn’t let that stop me.

    3. Evey Hammond*

      Definitely apply! (And mention that you’re working on your Bachelor’s while plugging the hell out of your related experience.)

    4. Lore*

      Especially for proofreading, the odds are very high that the first thing they’re going to do is send you a proofreading test. I hire the freelance proofreaders for my job–I will look skeptically at a resume that shows no experience with long-form proofreading, but I will send out the test to just about anyone. I may look at other qualifications later in figuring out how to match freelancers with projects, but passing the test is really the main requirement.

      1. MsChanandlerBong*

        Thanks to all who replied! I am working on my application now. The job itself is a perfect match for what I am doing now (it’s also a freelance position, not a full-time job), so I would regret it if I didn’t take a chance on applying.

  85. Kerry*

    Has anyone given notice just before their annual review? How did you handle it? I’m about to resign from my current job as I’ve got a new one (which I’m really excited about!), and my manager has just sent over our 20-page annual review form, to be completed by next Friday. I’m probably going to give notice on Monday or Tuesday, assuming the paperwork with my new employer is sorted by then.

    1. Future Analyst*

      Unless it’s a total timesuck and doesn’t actually address your performance, go ahead with the review. Even though you’re planning on leaving, it’s good to put together a list of things you accomplished during the last year. And if your manager signs off on it, it can be useful in interviews down the line– as in, “during my final annual review at Chocolate Teapots, my manager specifically praised my ability to delegate effectively, meeting tight deadlines, and produce exemplary teapot designs.”

      1. Kerry*

        In my experience (I’ve had two at this company) it’s about 75% timesuck and 25% performance addressing. My manager gives really good, comprehensive feedback throughout the year, and the official performance appraisal is basically aimed at getting something on paper to help department heads figure out bonuses (I won’t be eligible for a bonus once I give notice).

        1. Graciosa*

          Performance reviews are one of the few items that actually make it into your performance record and are maintained by the employer almost indefinitely, so I’d invest the time in making it at least fairly decent.

          If something happens to your boss in the future, the reference you receive from this company – or whether you receive an offer to return to a new position at some point – could depend upon the content of those records. Even companies that have policies about limiting what is confirmed have been known to change them. Or you could end up defending your performance in the future (for example, counter-claims if you ever have to sue for harassment), and all these records will be subpoenaed and taken very seriously.

          That said, the review needs some effort, but not A+ effort. I’d do a little better than average (like B- effort?) but without killing yourself. You need a decent record, but not an extraordinary one.

  86. KitKatToe*

    Hi, I’ve been reading AAM for a while now and this is my first time commenting. I’m hoping to receive some advice on my job hunting situation where I’m also looking for a career switch.

    I had recently applied to a Company for a role and had two interviews, one with HR and one with the hiring manager. I was expecting to go on to the next round when HR called to say the role was no longer available. I was of course extremely disappointed. However, I was checking on job openings in the same Company again and found that there is a similar role that had opened up but it’s in a different team and the HR person is different.

    My question is: How should I go about applying for this new role?
    – Should I write a different cover letter?
    – Should I mention I have previously interviewed for a similar role?
    – Any other tips that I can do to show I am really keen on this?

    1. puddin*

      Apply just as you would if you had not applied to the other job.

      Tailor your cover letter to the role. If the old one works well, I do not see a huge reason to change it.

  87. AC*

    I recently accepted a job offer that came hand-in-hand with a background check from this company called HireRight. I checked some of my old files and another old employer used them to do a criminal check, so I figured great, this’ll be easy — except I was wrong.

    Aside from line-by-line resume checking, which they can’t seem to do any of on their own, they had giant six-question form letters for my references, which I was not aware of until reference #1 let me know as he was finishing the process. Of my other two references, who I contacted and confirmed in writing prior to inviting them to the form, one subsequently said she “didn’t feel comfortable” providing a reference and then went back on her words and said she’d finish it (learned my lesson and I will not be using her as a reference again). Neither her or the other (a former mentor/supervisor) has finished the form.

    The invite was sent only two days ago but the company is already notifying me that they need a verification. HireRight specifically informs you that you can not delete or change a reference — what do I do?

    1. fposte*

      Supplicate. Honestly, that’s the only option I can see here. Send your references an email saying that you’re so sorry, you had no idea it was going to be so onerous, but it’s also absolutely requisite for this job and you will lose it if they don’t complete the form ASAP; you don’t even have the option of letting them off the hook at this point. Please send it in, thank you so, so much.

      You might at least try to find out what the deadline is and include that (or a padded version of that). But basically, I’d throw myself on their mercy and beg.

  88. Anon for this*

    My boss’s boss was looking through my phone at pictures I took at a work event. The pictures I had taken just before were of the naked selfie sort and I am terrified that she saw them :x

    1. Evey Hammond*

      Was it a phone specifically for work, or your personal phone? Because if it’s the latter it’s really nothing to do with her. I can understand being embarrassed if she saw them, but the fact that they exist on your personal phone is not a big deal, imho.

  89. S*

    My very small org (4 people including me) is losing a team member soon. We’re reallocating their duties for the time being until we hire someone new. I see it as a period of growth for me (it’s likely that a lot of the tasks will become my responsibility), but I’m also apprehensive. I’ve only been here for a little over a month–I’ve just gotten the hang of my own duties, I’m still on 90-day probation, etc., and while this doesn’t feel like imposter syndrome, it does feel like “what if I screw up royally and jeopardize my job??” syndrome. No one has expressed any dissatisfaction with my current work (the whole team has been singing my praises both internally and externally), but I can’t shake that feeling!

    1. Graciosa*

      It definitely sounds like imposter syndrome – if you were confident you were a rock star, you wouldn’t worry about screwing up.

      It sounds like you’re doing just fine, so hold on to that.

  90. Dynamic Beige*

    I was speaking with a friend of mine about a work problem and suggested she post it here, but she is vehemently opposed to posting on blogs, so I’m going to ask this for her.

    A few years ago, she was hit by a car and suffered a concussion. About a couple years later after completing her PT, she took on a new job and is finding it increasingly difficult to concentrate because she’s sitting at an open plan office and right behind her desk is a table of sorts where everyone sits/has meetings/eats lunch. She does programming, so she really needs to be in a place that is quiet so she can concentrate — if not an office where the door can be closed. She had tried using headphones but it’s not working. There is apparently one desk she would like that is free (used for contractors and temporary people) and has informally asked for it a few times, but has always been put off with things like “then I’d have to put in a request to IT to get your extension changed.” Her focus problems are getting so bad due to the noise and disruption that she’s working at night and on the weekend to get caught up. Her manager does not know about the accident, although when she recently came over to my friend’s work space she found she had to bring my friend back to her office because it was too noisy to speak to her… which gained the admission that she was starting to understand what my friend was talking about. My friend is not allowed to work from home (during regular office hours), not even one day a week, so that is not an option.

    I suggested to my friend that she get a doctor’s note, that she take it to HR or her manager but she is afraid that if they knew about the injury, it would be bad for her. While she is an amazing programmer, she is also not fresh out of college so I can kind of see how someone could use her injury as an excuse to get rid of her if they were a total jerk or as a way to throw her under the bus if a project went all pear shaped. This is a major multinational company so I would think there would be something in place that could be used to accommodate her, but she doesn’t seem willing to seek it out.

    Does anyone have any suggestions or scripts that might be helpful? I think a part of it is that she wants the manager to give her the office space on her own merit, but I think things like this need a little push more than faith. This is in Ontario Canada, so the laws are probably not be the same as in the US about this kind of thing.

    1. Toast*

      It sounds like she is reluctant to disclose the accident and really it is besides the point since she’s a programmer and needs a quiet environment regardless of the accident. I would have your friend put in another request to her supervisor stating that the noise is impacting her productivity. We had a similar issue with noise levels and our entire department moved because our supervisor recognized the need for a quiet environment to maintain our productivity levels. (I’m not a programmer but our work needs concentration.) It seems so common sense to be able to provide the resources, including quiet, in order for employees to succeed in their work!