open thread – June 26, 2015

It’s the Friday open thread! The comment section on this post is open for discussion with other readers on anything work-related that you want to talk about. If you want an answer from me, emailing me is still your best bet*, but this is a chance to talk to other readers.

* If you submitted a question to me recently, please don’t repost it here, as it may be in the to-be-answered queue :)

{ 1,213 comments… read them below }

  1. Folklorist*

    Hi everyone! I need to be prepared…how bad am I about to look?
    After two years of job-searching, temping, and contracting, I finally found a great job 8 months ago as an editor for a small member association. Things were going great, I was expanding my skills, and loved my work, and then they took out my biggest project—half my job—citing budget constraints. (They insist that they love my work and it has nothing to do with that.)They said that I would be in charge of this other huge project, which is just now wrapping up, and then I’ll work more on our association magazine, which we publish 8x/year.
    Well, there was a company meeting on Wednesday where they said that we were all massively in debt with no way of knowing how to get out. They’re talking about cutting our publications in half (only publishing 4x/year). My excellent boss is advocating for us and trying to get an ad salesman that will only work on commission so that we can keep going. With the sudden number of closed-door meetings, though, I’m not so sure that my position is safe. I’m by far the most junior person here! My two coworkers were doing all of the publishing themselves before I came in to help, and if the Powers that Be cut down the workload enough, there is literally no reason to keep me.
    How bad will I look for leaving after 8 months? I was really hoping to be here for a couple of years at least! I’m afraid that with all of the temp/contract stuff before this job, I’m going to look like an epic job-hopper. But I also REALLY don’t want to wait until I’m laid off to start looking! Advice? What do I say in cover letters or interviews to show that this isn’t because I’m flaky without badmouthing my company?

    1. Malissa*

      First don’t wait to start looking. Way better to do it now. Second, employers will understand leaving because of a lack of funding for your position.
      Good luck!

    2. Thinking out loud*

      I think you should start looking now. As long as you don’t have other short stints on your resume, I think you can say that your work has been reduced because of funding constants and that you’re looking for a job that is more stable and can keep you busy.

    3. BRR*

      You have good reason, best of luck! Temp/contract stuff doesn’t come off as job hopper and neither does this.

      1. QAT Contractor*

        This is 100% true. Contract work is just a signed number of months of work, that’s all. It’s not that you are job hopping, you are just filling a role for the client at that point in time. Same goes for temp work.

        Looking for a job now is your best bet. The fact you were only at this employer for 8 months shouldn’t hurt you. If you want to address it you could, but it would come across as potentially bad mouthing depending on how you present it. If you indicate there are some financial difficulties without going into detail, I don’t think it would be so bad.

    4. Dasha*

      I’m not sure how you address this in a cover letter – maybe someone else can give some good advice there but I agree with the others that you should start looking. IMHO this is out of your control and not really job hopping. I think when you start to get calls you could maybe say something, “I love my current position but unfortunately they are looking to reduce headcount here.”

    5. Dan*

      Temping and contracting don’t “count” against you in terms of job hopping. You job hop if you leave what is expected to be full time employment on an ongoing basis after X number of years (in my industry, certainly two years.)

      If you had a series of full time jobs that you left after a short period even through no fault of your own, that probably counts against you. People are going to think that you were let go for cause, but it got disguised as a layoff.

    6. JB (not in Houston)*

      I don’t think you’ll look bad. You’re not being flighty. I am pretty sure Alison has previously talked about how to address this, but I’m not sure how to search for it.

    7. TootsNYC*

      It is not “badmouthing the company” to say that they had budget problems and cut staff. It’s totally honorable of them, actually. Sucks for the employee, but it’s not a heinous thing for a company to do.

      It’s also completely understandable–especially in this economy! It’s not like we’ve had decades of “companies never lay people off!” We have this impression, as a culture, that in the ’50s, people held jobs “for life,” but that probably wasn’t true then. And even if it was, layoffs have been commonplace for all of my professional life. Thirty years.

      If you’re worried that you PERSONALLY have too many short stints (I’m in publishing too, and I’ve been there! I was willing to work at startups, so I got laid off a lot; plus with tiny staffs, the exact skill mix is crucial, so you can find a specialized position being eliminated in favor of a generalist or a different specialty–and there goes the copy & production editor job!), you can put the reasons you left on your résumé.

      Date Range Title, Company (laid off for budgetary reasons)
      Date Range Title, Company (position eliminated for reorganization)
      Date Range Title, Company (startup magazine folded)

      And absolutely, start looking now. The whole thing can come crashing down; you ALL may be looking for a job.

      1. TootsNYC*

        Also not “badmouthing” them to say your workload was reduced, and you FEAR they will cut headcount. Because even if they KEEP you (I got laid off once when they were targeting higher-paid staff and keeping junior people!), your work will get exponentially harder, so whether you think you’ll be targeted or not, who wants to work on a sinking ship?

        Nobody’s going to think you’re flaky; they’ll think you’re prudent and proactive. It would actually make a good impression on me, to be honest. I’d think, “Aha! a savvy, proactive person.”

        Make a rule for yourself: no more than two sentences about your old job.

      1. Folklorist*

        Thanks everyone! This is what I thought, too–I just really dread going back on the job search again. I like my job!

        I already have a couple of good leads and am talking to one company tonight. Unfortunately, it would mean moving back where I grew up, which I’m not thrilled about. Trying to keep an open mind, though!

        1. Artemesia*

          The shoe hasn’t quite dropped so you have a little time to try to get what you want, where you want. Hope it goes well. It does sound like you need to move as fast as you can.

    8. JenGray*

      You won’t look bad just explain that your job was downsized. It’s not your fault that the company is having financial issues. I would just say that the company reorganized and your job was eliminated. I don’t think that you really have to go into any more detail than that. I would focus more on the work you did and as long as you speak positively about the job (I loved my work, coworkers, boss- even if only moderately true) most companies won’t care. As long as the company is willing to give you a good reference and say essentially the same thing (job was downsized) than you have nothing to worry about. The temp/contract stuff isn’t anything to worry about either as long as its not completely random (i.e. your an editor/writing and you were doing dog walking) because I think that just taking any temp/contract work doesn’t help you. But if stuff is related you have nothing to worry about.

    9. Creag an Tuire*

      If you’re worried that the temping stuff looks bad on a first glance, I think AAM has said it’s okay to consolidate gigs under the same agency, e.g.

      – Contractor (OfficeMonkeys Ltd.) 2011-2014
      — Teapot Monkey, (Wakeen’s Teapots) Feb 2014-Aug 2014
      — Spout Monkey, (Bubba’s Teapots and Shrimp Shack) Oct 2013-Jan 2014

    10. Purr purr purr*

      You wouldn’t look bad at all. You have to look after yourself because no-one else will do it for you. Most likely your colleagues are now looking to, even if they aren’t saying that.

    11. Observer*

      “my employer has made it clear that there are major fiscal issues that threaten my job, and have already cut my hours and pay significantly.”

      That doesn’t make you look bad – you’re not just leaving a job, you are being pushed out.

    12. lawsuited*

      You don’t look bad for leaving because your company is in a poor financial position and doing restructuring. I wouldn’t address it at all in cover letters, but in interviews you can just say “I’ve loved working at Small Member Association, and I’ve really improved my skills in X and Y while I’ve been there, but funding is an issue and I think restructuring is around the corner.” Then launch straight into why you want to work at the new employer. I had to start interviewing under awful circumstances (my boss had a terminal illness but refused to get treatment and wind down his practice), and so I cited “instability” at my current workplace as once of the reasons I was looking to move on and everyone understood and didn’t ask follow up questions.

      Also, start looking now.

    13. Lisa*

      What is job hopping? In terms of length? Some people think multiple jobs with under a year each.

      Job A – 4 months
      Job B – 8 months
      Job C – 2 months

      Others think over a year is acceptable with all 3 at 1-2 years each, but could still be job hopping if its always 2 years. I had a boss who said anything less than 4 years is job hoping though. What is acceptable?

  2. Anony for this*

    So with the good news of the US Supreme Court there always seems to be some people who will be negative. I eat lunch with a group of people, some at my level, some above, but all have been there longer than I have (except the interns). I work in an incredibly conservative field. When the Caitlyn Jenner thing happened, at lunch they were all saying things like “ew, this is disgusting” or sharing memes like his photo on a Fruit Loops box. One of the interns was the biggest culprit, but a manager was the one showing the photo. Finally I said “I just don’t like making fun of people just because you don’t agree with them. It’s hurtful.” the manager replied “well, he put it out in public. He was asking for it.”

    So obviously I’m concerned about lunch today. I like my coworkers, they are genuinely good people but have beliefs that are very….not my thing. We’re a very laid back bunch, and we do make jokes about things like a coworker there having a lot of 1s in her pocket so obviously she’s a stripper. Jokes like that. I have a good relationship with everyone.

    All I want is something to say when the inevitable talk comes today. I think I could easily say “I hope you’re not saying this because you think I agree with you.” (thanks to whoever here said this, I think it was Alison but I’m probably wrong!) to the people at my level and below, but the managers and people who have been there 20, 30 years…I don’t feel comfortable with that. I have to work with my coworkers daily. I like them when we aren’t talking politics (though in my opinion this is a civil RIGHT not politics).

    1. Nikki J.*

      I may make other plans today. Why put yourself in the position to have to come up with something when you know it’s going to happen. Maybe I just have less tolerance for behavior like that, but there is no place for it. Realizing how glad I am working at my new job today where people are celebrating vs sitting at their desks steaming because of this news.

    2. Thinking out loud*

      Yeah, can you just skip lunch today? I’m loving the news today, but I know not everyone feels that way.

    3. CB*

      Can’t you skip lunch? Tell them you have to run errands or stop at the bank or something. Why surround yourself with negativity.

    4. Artemesia*

      My mother was a very conservative person politically and we didn’t have any known gay members in our family in those days or in their friendship circle, but when this topic came up I remember her saying ‘you know, it is hard enough to find love and a person to go through life with, who am I to judge someone else’s love.’ I always liked its gentleness and its support for the choices of others.

      1. S*

        Even for someone who does have queer friends and family, this is so important to remember. No one’s relationship and no one’s love should be judged simply because of who it’s directed towards.

        1. Artemesia*

          Oh agreed. I am not old myself and have gay friends, gay family, transgender friends and trans gender in laws and had gay and transgender students, colleagues, parents of my girl scouts etc etc. It is easy for me to see gay people as people. I was just always impressed that my otherwise rather judgmental mother was able to see gay people whom she didn’t know as people as she lived most of her life during the period when people hid in the closet.

      2. AVP*

        That is really sweet! FWIW my parents are ordinarily very conservative but support gay marriage. I had no idea until my mom mentioned in passing that their dance teacher is gay, has a partner, and was trying to navigate the civil union thing.

      3. Windchime*

        Not to boast, but that’s exactly what I have said to my kids, too. It’s true; it’s hard enough to find love in this world, so who am I to judge when someone else finds it? Live and let live; that’s my motto.

        Related note: I have a lot of bigoted cousins, apparently. My Facebook exploded today.

    5. OriginalYup*

      Personally, I’d just be very matter of fact, change the subject where possible, and simply excuse yourself if it gets too heated. If people are just stating that they disagree with the decision for reasons X, Y, and Z, or they’re worried about the results, that perfectly fine conversation in my book. You can discuss differing opinions as long as its all respectful. But if they start with in with rhetoric or ragey nonsense, I’d probably try to change the subject. If unsuccessful , I’d just look them in the eye and say, “You know I completely disagree with everything you’re saying, right? Maybe we could talk about ABC instead.” Everyone’s entitled to an opinion and all that, but it doesn’t mean workplace lunchtime is the best environment to be airing them.

      And re their Caitlyn Jenner comments, I’m pretty confrontational about stuff like that, but I would have looked at the folks involved said “Don’t send/show me things like that. It’s cruel and makes me think less of of you.” The end.

    6. nona*

      Eat somewhere else for now. They’ll run out of things to say about it soon.

      I’ll be hanging out either by myself or with other LGBT folks for the next couple of days. :)

      1. Violet Rose*

        London Pride is tomorrow – the timing is amazing :)

        To the OP: nthing the “eat elsewhere today” comments. Or, if you find yourself wanting to leave halfway through and the weather’s nice, “I think I’m going to take nice stroll outside” is a good way to buy yourself a few minutes Away From There.

    7. Steve G*

      I like Tinker’s related wording yesterday not to do this anymore: “Let’s have a pseudo-academic discussion about whether I should be respected as a peer of all other adult humans or whether I should have to appeal to others for consideration that most other people would be substantially offended by having questioned.”

    8. Anony for this*

      Unfortunately I have to eat there. Eating at your desk is frowned upon (I’m hourly and management would be concerned I wasn’t getting a break), and I take a half hour lunch so no time to go to get something. I’m hoping it will happen at the 2nd half of my lunch and the first half we’ll just talk about weekend plans.

      Although, I suppose if someone says “Did you hear about gay marriage?” I can quickly chirp in “Yeah! Can’t believe it took so long. The wedding industry will be booming and the economy will really profit from this! What a great thing for everyone to get equal rights on something that doesn’t affect straight people like us!” And maybe that will shut them up.

      1. Salatree*

        Do you have a family member who is gay? If so, mention them. “My cousin is gay and she is thrilled to be able to marry her long-time love.” People are more likely to behave themselves if the issue is personal.

          1. Zillah*

            Yeah, I would talk about a cousin or a friend or something, whether or not you have one. It’s a reminder that this isn’t political fodder, it’s something that will make a tangible, positive difference in millions of Americans’ lives.

      2. Natalie*

        You could just lie about running an errand. Put a sandwich in your bag, say you have to go the bank, and go for a drive while you eat your sandwich.

    9. Anonymous Poster*

      I am very conservative and do not agree with the SCOTUS’s findings recently. And I haven’t been able to stand both liberals and conservatives gloating/ranting about these things in my workplace the past couple of days too. The workplace is not where we get to soapbox about our politics, it’s where we accomplish a mission and do our jobs.

      To me it sounds like a day where you have a lot to do and need to eat at your desk. Or your lunch won’t agree with you and it’s a day to find lunch elsewhere. Or whatever works in your particular environment, maybe you need to eat lunch later than everyone else.

      1. Zillah*

        I can understand that. But, at the same time, for people who are dramatically affected by rulings – particularly rulings like today – I think it’s not necessarily realistic to say “Keep it at home.” I haven’t been able to stop crying since the ruling, because it means so much to me on so many levels. If I was working today, I don’t think I’d be able to hold it in. This transcends politics, and I think it’s a little self-centered in this particular case to begrudge them their joy over a decision that can change their lives or the lives of people they care about because it’s something that you politically disagree with, even though your pov is reasonable in general.

        1. Zillah*

          Or, to put it a different way: people who have supported marriage equality have a lot more skin in the game than you do. Let us have our day.

        2. Anonymous Poster*

          Please see my response to LBK. The intent of my post wasn’t to tell you to keep it at home. It’s that it sounds like this particular situation is where people expressing their political views is getting out of hand, and though we disagree politically, we agree that this situation is bad.

      2. LBK*

        Being excited that you’re no longer considered a second class citizen under the law is not getting on a political soapbox. Try to imagine that you know some gay people (because you probably do!) and just enjoy their happiness about something good happening to them like you would when a good thing happens to anyone you care about.

        1. Anonymous Poster*

          It sounds like, based on the original poster, that this transcends someone being happy/unhappy with the ruling, and into outright ridicule of the ruling. I could be projecting – since at my own place of employment, there have been yelling matches as this is a very emotional subject. That’s the big issue I’m trying to comment on.

          In the workplace, I don’t care if someone’s happy or unhappy with it, I care when it impacts the ability of people to work together. And it sounds like that’s happening in this case.

          The point of my bringing up my being conservative is that I’m approaching my answer as someone that does not support the decision, but agrees that what’s happening in this situation is bad and should not continue, and providing some ways to try and protect one’s self from the bad situation.

    10. Lucky*

      Stop joking about your coworker being a stripper. That’s not “laid back,” that’s sexual harassment.*

      Then when the “teh gays are rooning our country” say one of these two things:

      “I not only disagree with you, but it makes me think less of you when you make such bigoted statements.”


      “Yeah, Joe. Now that the Supreme Court has made gay marriage legal, you and Doris will be forced to get divorced and you’ll have to marry a man. We (or ‘you and Dave”) should probably pair up before all the good guys are taken. You know, like picking teams for dodgeball.”

      *Sex work should not be shameful, but I assume you’re joking about her being a stripper because you believe it is shameful and gross, not out of reverence.

      1. Anony for this*

        No, no, I definitely don’t think sex workers as shameful or gross. The comment was just “Oh, you got a lot of ones! That stripping is paying off!” and I think she said something like “Yeah, my husband can’t afford to give me more so it’s just all ones!” and someone else said something like “You’d make more at [stripjoint down the street]”

        1. Lucky*

          Your coworker may be totally fine with that joke, or she may be playing along so that she isn’t perceived as a a humorless feminist whiner. Of course, you know here better than I do, but I’ve been the woman who played along with sexist jokes because complaining didn’t feel safe or prudent.

          1. Anony for this*

            No, she’s the one who actually started the joke in the past. I understand where you’re coming from though, and I’ve had a few instances where I had to tell them to knock it off because it took a step too far, but she is probably the one who instigates it the most (usually to herself).

    11. Ad Astra*

      I will be treating myself to a celebratory lunch today (even though I didn’t really do anything, SCOTUS did). I think you should do the same.

      1. Ad Astra*

        Ah, I missed your response that you have to eat there. In that case, I like your wording. You could also just change the subject entirely. “Hey, did you hear about the change they’re making to TPS reports?” or even “Ooh that looks yummy, what are you eating?”

    12. TootsNYC*

      “We’re a very laid back bunch, and we do make jokes about things like a coworker there having a lot of 1s in her pocket so obviously she’s a stripper. Jokes like that.”

      Jokes like that are not OK, by the way. That’s sexual harassment.

      And you know what? It’s crude and rude. Unsavory. Juvenile.

      Maybe you could be the voice that says, “I don’t like crude jokes like this. Can we stop?”

    13. Anonsie*

      This is a pretty good example for why people like to keep the boundary for what’s ok to joke about at work way, way before any of the stuff you guys usually talk about. It keeps it from bleeding over into this with people afraid to say anything because “but we’re always laid back about jokes” or something.

      1. Anony for this*

        Fair enough. I’m the newest one there, and I won’t be able to change the culture. We’re undergoing renovations so we only have one lunch table. There is anywhere from 7 to 15 of us there at any one time, and I like interacting with a few of the regulars that aren’t crude. Unfortunately you can’t get away from the entire lunch table conversation.

    14. JenGray*

      I agree with everyone that I would just find something else to do at lunch even if it is just taking a walk. This is a very tricky situation because it sounds like this stuff actually is sexual harassment. I agree that the workplace is not the place for politics. Phil Robertson (from Duck Dynasty) said that its a myth to think that if you love someone you have to agree with them whole hardheadedly. I actually agree with him about this- Just because you have people in your life doesn’t mean that you all need to believe the same things or love the same things or have the same life. Diversity is what makes life interesting. To me the decision today is wonderful but only because I don’t think that people should be allowed to tell others who they can & can’t marry (or love) and I don’t think that those that can get married have exactly done the best job with it either (50% divorce rate)

    15. A Minion*

      Why not just offer your own opinion the same as everyone else seems to be doing?
      Them: “Can you believe they legalized gay marriage? There goes the country!” (Or whatever they may say)
      You: “I think it’s great! Now people who love each other can marry without fear of legal repercussions or lack of legal protections.” (Or, again, what you may want to say)

      We all have our opinions. Surely adults realize that no matter what opinion you may have of any particular subject, there is surely someone, somewhere that holds an opposing opinion. I learned that lesson the hard way. I said something particularly insensitive about a subject that I feel very strongly about once and my co-worker shut me down quickly, but it was in a gentle way – she simply asked me if I would feel comfortable saying that same thing if there were someone dealing with that issue sitting right in front of me and, though it was quite uncomfortable for me, I realized that she was right and it was an insensitive thing to say. It didn’t require that I change my beliefs or opinion, which I have not, it just made me a little more aware that I’m not the center of the universe and my opinions aren’t, in fact, always the gospel truth.
      Sometimes a gentle, but firm reprimand is all that’s needed. (Disclaimer: I realize not everyone is going to take criticism well and sometimes they get defensive when their views are challenged. I get that.)

    16. Clever Name*

      As I’ve gotten older, I’ve cared less about preserving the feelings of bigots. They are free to have their opinion and I am free to have mine. I actually got into a discussion with a coworker who said that he thought being gay was a choice. My uncle had recently died, and I actually started crying when I said, “Well, you may think it’s a choice, but it’s not. Why would anyone choose a love where they are persecuted against and denied rights (until now)? I lost out on a relationship with my uncle for 30 years because he was afraid that my family would reject him for who he is. The sad part is that it didn’t matter to any of us, but because of people like you, he never could be sure.” That shut him up, and I hope it made him think just a little.

    17. Observer*

      I haven’t read the whole thread, but if I had to eat with these people, I would probably stick with “I really don’t think this is a work appropriate conversation.”

      As for the other stuff, I think that two appropriate responses are “just because someone put something out in public doesn’t mean we have to discuss it.” and “He put it in public but others who this affects didn’t.”

    18. Student*

      I enjoy making people like this uncomfortable.

      My favorite technique is to say, “My grandmother is a !” and look sad and horrified that someone would insult your dear old granny.

  3. Malissa*

    I got the nicest rejection from a company that I didn’t even interview with. Nice to know there are still some classy companies out there.

    1. Ad Astra*

      I wish more companies realized what a positive impression they leave when they can reject someone kindly. In the long run, it’s a great recruiting move.

      1. Relosa*

        This. I just don’t get why people don’t understand that bridge-burning works two ways.

    2. Steve G*

      Care to share it?

      I still analyze them to death even though you guys keep telling me not to. I was perplexed by this one from an energy management company recently because I met every criteria (and most people out there wouldn’t because they wanted industry specific experiences.

      “We regret to inform you that you are not being considered for this position.”

      Um, OK. It made me think that they should have one form letter for applicants who don’t qualify at all and one a little less terse for people who meet the requirements, custom wrote a cover letter, and stood a reasonable chance of getting an interview.

      1. Malissa*

        hank you for the interest you’ve expressed in Initech.

        Your qualifications have been carefully reviewed. At the present time, no position is available that fits your resume profile. In the event our employment needs should change, we will be pleased to contact you.

        We appreciate your interest in Initech and wish you success in your search for new career opportunities.

    3. Anx*

      It’s too bad I don’t have much discretionary money, because I am a Forever Customer at a company that took the time the send me a rejection email.

  4. AmyNYC*

    If anyone remembers past questions I’ve asked in the open threads, I’m going through a bit of a quarter-life crisis (one week I was asking advice on getting a promotion, the next it was about leaving my company, and then a few weeks later it was about moving to a new city….)
    Right now, the plan is to move to a new city next summer. So I’ll stay at my decent but-I-don’t-love-it job for another year and use that time focus on taking my professional exams (AREs – Architectural Registration Exams).
    At my performance review a few months ago, my boss (Partner A) offered to pay for my exams (it will cost them about $1500) but didn’t say anything about staying for a set amount of time afterwards. About a month after that, at an all company meeting Partner B said you can take paid days off for exams without using vacation time but only if you stay for at least a year after finishing them. (Those days would be taken out of your unused vacation days that get paid out when you leave).
    Here’s my ethical question – Obviously, they’re offering the time and reimbursement as an incentive to stay with the company long term. But no one said anything about repaying exam fees if I leave, so is it wrong to take as many exams as possible (on the company’s dime) while I’m still here?

    1. Apollo Warbucks*

      Personally I don’t think you should take the exams and training at you companies expense, unless you will be there for a little while afterwards so they get some benefit out of the investment they made in training you. By the sounds of it staying for a year after your exams would be reasonable.

    2. Sunflower*

      What is the likelihood of getting your exams paid for at any new job you take? If it’s not very likely, I say take the test on their dime and see what happens. It’s too hard to predict the future. Hopefully everything works out and you can leave in a year. See how you feel then. If you really feel bad, you can always offer to repay it then and I don’t see any hard feelings coming from it.

      If it’s likely New Job will pay, then you’re still dealing with a double edged sword. Offering to pay for your own exam now or saying you don’t want to take it will look weird and/or bad. Is there anyone at your company who left not long after taking the exam? They might be able to help you dodge the question or come up with a better solution

    3. CorgiGirl*

      I don’t think there is anything wrong with doing it, as long as you commit to staying at least a year after taking the exams.

      1. VictoriaHR*

        I think she’s saying that she will NOT be staying for the year; she would prefer to take the exams, let the company pay for it, and then leave shortly thereafter.

    4. AmyNYC*

      Does it make any difference that a) I was planning on taking the exams before the company offered to pay? and b) I didn’t ASK them to pay, it was offered (seemingly with no strings attached)?
      Another concern – Partner A will ask why I’m not submitting reimbursement forms for my exams and I will have to tell him I’m thinking of leaving before I’m ready.

      1. Apollo Warbucks*

        I think it’s reasonable to infer that the compamy are offering to pay for you exams on the basis they will get some benefit from having spent the money on you.

    5. Thatguyagain*

      Isn’t there a legal principle that says any ambiguity is interpreted in favor of the person who did not draft it? I think that a similar principle applies here. Take the exams, let the company bear the expense. The company has the policy in place to entice employees to take on additional abilities. Utilize it. If it becomes an issue, then it’s on your management to address it. Ethically, it may feel wrong to let someone else pay your way, but this isn’t a personal expense coming out of your friends pocket. It’s a business expense that the company has put into place to encourage you to stretch your abilities.

      1. Sunflower*

        I am on this side here. Double check with the company on the policies of taking the exam and then leaving. TBH- if your company doesn’t have a policy against it than either they don’t care or it’s their own fault.

      2. lawsuited*

        Contra proferentum really doesn’t apply to verbal agreements and discussions like the ones the OP describes. I think what matters here is the reasonable expectations of the parties. OP’s boss (by being explicit that in order to take paid time off to write the exams OP needs to stay for a year after) has made it clear that the company is not putting up money gratis for the OP to write the exams; they expect her to stay for a year in exchange.

    6. AndersonDarling*

      It sounds like a standard educational expense contract. We pay, you stay a year. Just keep tabs on when your last reimbursement was so you know how much you will need to pay back if you leave. I consider this a benefit your employer provides.
      If you stay for a year, the company is getting a benefit from you new skills/education. Your employer is investing in your work, not just you as an employee.

    7. Emmie*

      There are 3 parts to your question: is it ethical, is it permissible, is it professional? It’s probably not ethical to do this with the intention of leaving. I’d argue that it is an employee benefit, and you seem to keep changing your mind. A person should probably not hesitate to take advantage of a benefit if she is truly undecided about a decision to move or stay with the company. Yoishould look to the documents that you sign to see if leaving is permissible. It isn’t professional to leave shortly after using these benefits. You need to be comfortable with the potentially negative impact on your reputation and references. Good luck with your decision. I remember this time in my life, and it’s normal to be uncertain. I learned that times are not like they were for our parent’s generation where you pick a 25 year career, stay with a company and collect a pension. There’s more flexibility need from employees in careers now and the important thing is to build transferable / marketable skills and to constantly build your skill set.

      1. Jake*

        It is ethical, probably permissible and not professional.

        I’m pretty comfortable in all 3 of those assessments.

    8. Diddly*

      Not sure if this is the case with your company, but they may make you refund them what they paid if you don’t stay a certain period of time after the course. I think you should possibly let them pay, as you’re possibly signalling that you’re going to leave by not letting them – but have the money ready in case they want it refunded if you do leave.
      I would also say that like you mention you’ve gone through several different scenarios of what you might do, and have so far made no definite plans so there’s the potential that you’ll change your mind and have missed out on an opportunity. But go with whatever sits best with you.

    9. TootsNYC*

      Partner B said you can take paid days off for exams without using vacation time but only if you stay for at least a year after finishing them. (Those days would be taken out of your unused vacation days that get paid out when you leave).

      They have a plan in place for what to do if you use this benefit and then it turns out you decide to leave. So it’s not unheard of for this to happen (use the benefit, leave early anyway). They’ve had it happen before, and apparently they consider the change in PTO to be an adequate “consequence” or reimbursement. It doesn’t sound like they’re really angry beyond words at the idea that someone’s plans would change in the year following the exams.

      So look quietly to see if there’s something about repayment of fees.
      And if there isn’t, either:
      a) be prepared to reimburse, on the theory that it’s exactly the same as the PTO;
      b) ask someone, citing the PTO info as the trigger: “I’d like to take the exams, but I wonder what happens with the fee if for some reason I need to leave the company before a year is up. Is there a specific policy?”

      Take the exams.

      Also–leaving next year is your CURRENT plan. If you take these exams, and your work changes slightly, or you get mentally re-energized by the learning and testing process (or by a sense of appreciation of your company’s policy), YOUR plans may change. Or, just get delayed a little bit.

      Take the exams.

    10. JenGray*

      I think a year is quite a while away and you never know what would happen. I say take the exams- they are part of your professional development now and so will benefit you beyond your current job. Its good that you are aware of the ethical questions surrounding this but the AREs will help you no matter if you move or not. Also, even if you don’t stay quite a year sacrificing a few vacation days is not the end of the world. Employees do trainings etc. all the time and then leave a company soon after doing it and don’t feel bad so you really shouldn’t either. I know its hard (I would feel exactly the way you do) but companies plan for these types of things (i.e. the reason for the rule about the vacation days).

    11. AmyNYC*

      Thanks for all the advice! To clear a few things up:
      As commenters have noted, I am sort of in flux right now, and there’s a chance I will be here longer than I think I will.
      It is unlikely that my hypothetical new job will pay for tests (based on where I’m looking and the size of company I want to work for)
      There was no contract or any written statement about reimbursement and/or repayment, this has all just been verbal.
      Since I’m not 100% sure I’ll be leaving, I’m going to take the exams and submit reimbursement paperwork as if there’s no plan to leave. In the event that I do leave, I’ll keep track of what’s been reimbursed and have it ready to repay if they ask for it back.

      1. PegLeg*

        Good plan! I would at least ask beforehand what the process is as far as repayment is concerned if you do leave, and, like a commenter above said, cite the PTO policy as a reason for asking. Just so you have some clarification and an idea of what to expect, and so you don’t end up feeling totally cheated if you leave and get a letter three months later saying PS you owe us $3500. Not that I have any experience with that… ;-)

      2. NoCalHR*

        Yay you for making a reasoned and reasonable, pragmatic series of decisions. And good luck with your exams! FWIW I did something similar at a OldOldJob, knowing that our then-current plans were to move out of state in the next 18 months. Tracked what I’d received for potential repayment, cleaned out all of our closets – and SO got a better job in the same area, and we stayed. Bullet dodged, junk gone, training accomplished. Win-win-win!!

      3. Not So NewReader*

        I think this is the best route to go. I would add, make the offer to reimburse them without them having to mention the topic first. You will want a reference from them, so you don’t want them to have a bad thought in their heads because of the exam expenses.

        Since you will be there a while longer, maybe you can discretely keep an ear out to find out what others are doing, what is expected and how this all plays out. When it comes time to leave you may have a much better handle on this question than you do now.

    12. AdAgencyChick*

      Something tells me just because the boss hasn’t said it verbally doesn’t mean there won’t be a dotted line to sign on once it comes time to actually have the fees reimbursed. I would ask what the terms are, and act accordingly.

    13. infj*

      I was just in this exact situation. I passed my last exam, submitted my receipts for reimbursement and signed a contract saying that I would pay back the reimbursement if I left within a year. There was no mention of any strings attached when they first offered to pay for my exams. I just scheduled my 4th interview (hiring process rant excluded) with another firm. I’ll take the job if they offer it and pay back my exam fee reimbursement. It’s the only way to do it. Its suspicious if you dont ask for the money. Further, your new job and move may not work out like you expect. It ended up taking me three years to complete my exams. Got pregnant and had a baby, also failed and had to retake one of the exams.

      1. infj*

        Also, my office didn’t pay until I passed all of the exams. That was never articulated in the original conversation either. That might be the case at your office too. At any rate, it’s a reasonable question that does not seem suspicious if you wanted to revisit the conversation with the partners.

  5. Sunflower*

    I had interviewed for a job I was overqualified for back in March that didn’t end up working out- the position was canceled. In May, they contacted me again to ask if I was still interested in the company. I said yes and the hiring manager informed me she was going to try to get approval to open up a higher up position aka one that fit my experience. The recruiter told me to check in the next week with her. I checked in and she told me she had not heard anything back from the hiring manager. She said she’d check in with her and as soon as there is movement, she would let me know. This was 5 weeks ago and she never got back to me with an update or decision either way.

    Naturally I want to check in again. I’m 80% saying don’t do it but 20% of me thinks its okay. what do you think?

    1. Thinking out loud*

      I think you can say, “I assume that means there hasn’t been any movement, but [the job] and [the company] seen like a great fit, so I’m hoping we have an opportunity to move forward.”

    2. Christian Troy*

      Eh, I probably wouldn’t. I think if someone wants to give you a job they just don’t forget it or you. Plus it sounds like if he had something to tell you, she probably would.

    3. JenGray*

      I vote yes to and just say something along the lines of just checking in on the status.

  6. Boogles*

    Boss establishes new meeting with admins at our various locations supposedly to better communication and work on establishing better practices. I mention we should have meeting minutes and action items. Boss says great. Draft them up. I draft them up, boss decides not to send them out. Is it just me, or is that not the quickest way to make sure a meeting doesn’t foster communication and is completely pointless?

    1. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

      Ask her why. Perhaps the format of the minutes wasn’t what she was looking for.

      1. Boogles*

        That’s just the way management is here. Not super keen on transparent commuication. They may actually have to be held accountable to a deadline or deliverable.

    2. Lily in NYC*

      I don’t know – my boss doesn’t like using an agenda and we don’t take minutes unless it’s a board meeting or RFP-related. Some people take notes, some don’t. I have found that having an agenda/taking minutes makes absolutely no difference either way (in my experience, but I’m sure others will disagree).

      1. Judy*

        Until this job, I’d not seen minutes for a meeting at work. I’ve seen action item lists with maybe a summary, but typing the entire time during the meeting creating a transcript, not ever.

    3. JenGray*

      Not sure if you can do this but I would perhaps just send them out to the people that attended the meeting instead of giving them to your boss to send out. I had a boss that would edit my staff meeting minutes- she would change the wording of things so that it benefited her and didn’t reflect what was actually said- so I just started sending them out to everyone that attended the meeting. This way there was no way to edit before people saw them.

    4. AE*

      Sounds like boss’s boss wants boss to establish better communication but boss either can’t or won’t. How lovely that your time is worth so little to boss

  7. Kathleen*

    Neurotic question time! I have an interview this afternoon which I’m quite excited about. But I keep finding typos in my application materials and it’s driving me crazy. Is there any professional, appropriate way to bring those up and ensure the interviewer that I’m generally neurotic about accuracy? Or is it best to just forget about it and assume that, based on the fact that I have an interview, it doesn’t matter that much?

    For what it’s worth, the hiring manager’s emails had plenty of typos of their own …

    1. TheExchequer*

      I would leave it alone unless they bring it up. Maybe they didn’t even notice! :)

    2. Thinking out loud*

      I hate that! When I found minor things, I didn’t mention them – I think other people are generally not neurotic enough to notice, so I’d only be bringing their attention to the mistake if I mentioned it. (I had a stray bullet point with no text at one interview that made me crazy, but no one mentioned it and they offered me the job.)

    3. Ollie*

      I can sympathize–my cover letter has a whole paragraph devoted to how detail-oriented I am, yet my last job application had at least one typo in the online form I had to fill out (it was related to salary and the interviewer asked me about it). I was horrified. I’ve noticed typos when looking at other applications too.

      I wouldn’t bring it up to the interviewer unless they ask about it (it seems like a bad time to be explaining away mistakes/making excuses when you want to focus on more positive things). You got an interview, so the typos couldn’t have mattered that much. A lot of people don’t even notice minor things like that (you even said the hiring manager had plenty of typos in their e-mail!).

    4. voluptuousfire*

      As a fellow neurotic, annoyingly detail-oriented person, I’ve found most people really don’t care all that much about little typos. They just accept it as a minor detail in the scheme of things.

    5. Other Jen*

      Based on my experience as an interviewer I can say that just because a typo isn’t mentioned doesn’t mean it wasn’t noticed or doesn’t matter. If the topic of attention to detail comes up I think it would reflect well on you to let them know that you noticed it.

      1. fposte*

        I lean the other way. I’d be okay with somebody saying “I realize I got your name wrong in my cover letter–I’m so sorry” (my email makes it look like my last name is something else, so that’s pretty common) or anything else that’s similarly factually significant. But just random typos, or “I noticed several typos in my application materials, and I wanted you to know I noticed” doesn’t really improve things–either way the typos didn’t get caught when they were supposed to, and that’s the goal. It would be really weird to me if a candidate took the occasion to try to emphasize their usual attention to detail.

        It’s not necessarily an application-killer, but the package you send is the representation you get. And it sounds like yours did the job it was supposed to, so interview away.

    6. Lily in NYC*

      Something very similar was discussed here recently, and general consensus (Alison included) was to not bring it up.

    7. Kate*

      Thanks everybody! I think the interview went pretty well, and as for the typos, well, they didn’t bring them up and I didn’t mention them haha.

    8. Mander*

      Ugh, it’s so mortifying when this kind of thing happens!

      As a sideline I started editing other people’s academic papers, long before I was finished with my degree. I have a natural talent for proofreading, and I enjoy it. I even feel like I’m pretty good at it.

      But man oh man, I was careless with my own thesis. One of my examiners actually asked if I was dyslexic because of all the typos! I could have died.

  8. Carrie in Scotland*

    I’m so glad to see The Hive!

    I have an interview next week (wish me luck!) but in the thank you for confirming your interview email, there was this:
    ‘It may be helpful for you to know that it is not our practice to ask candidates to wait until a decision is reached. You will therefore be free to leave when your interview has concluded.’

    Mind is blown.

    I’m thinking something like X Factor auditions, a room with all the candidates, a “we want YOU”, camping out before the interview (I’m kidding) but seriously – what!? Surely the fact that it’s in the email means it’s happened before….

    1. Malissa*

      Now I want you to hang around just to see what happens. lol. Not really but I would love to know the back story on that one.

    2. Mimmy*

      Huh??! Of COURSE you would leave when the interview is done! Unless I’m totally misinterpreting this?

      1. Carrie in Scotland*

        I know, right!? I would never think to hang around afterwards – you just come in and do your interview and then leave.

        I’m wondering if it was a cultural thing…

        1. Merry and Bright*

          Agree, Carrie! The call of coffee or chocolate is too loud to ignore when that interview is over!

    3. Amber Rose*

      Wait. They have a problem with people waiting around for same day decisions? Enough of a problem to email about it?


      1. ThursdaysGeek*

        It would be worse if the decisions take 2+ weeks, and you’re expected to wait. :)

    4. Sunflower*

      HUH? My first instinct is that they are trying to say do not repeatedly check in, do not wait for us to make a decision, feel free to take another job is one comes up first. But the second line is throwing me off. I wonder if people have camped out in the lobby assuming a decision would be made right after the interview? But is there ANY place that is common practice?

    5. Diddly*

      Hahaha – maybe they had a super awkward interviewee who refused to leave… How weird. Or maybe they decide on the day!

    6. TheLazyB*

      Not a school post? Teachers usually are all there all day and the unsuccessful candidates get to see the successful one called in to be offered the job.

      I would hate to be a teacher.

      1. Carrie in Scotland*

        Nope, uni.
        Thanks for the luck!

        (I too would hate to be a teacher, I currently work in an education dept = potential teachers)

    7. Future Analyst*

      Haha, what a strange thing to include in there. As opposed to…? You moving in for 3 weeks while they decide?? So strange!

    8. Elizabeth West*

      Good luck, Carrie!!!! *crosses fingers and toes*

      Hmm, that’s really weird! I wonder if they did this in response to specific incidents, or maybe it means “don’t call us; we’ll call you,” and it’s just worded in a peculiar way. :\

    9. Clever Name*

      Weird. I agree, it must have happened once before. That reminds me of the offer we received on our first house. The contract had a line in there about the “seller removing all debris” from the property before closing, and I was insulted as well as baffled. Our house was spotless and showed well, and the only thing I could think they might possibly be referring to was our compost pile in the corner of the garden. When our real estate agent asked about it, the buyer’s agent said that one time the sellers left a ton of junk and trash behind when they left, so he had that line in all of his contracts as standard language. Yeah.

      1. fposte*

        And that was how my seller was. In fact, he was going to leave a dead refrigerator in the garage, and my realtor beat him into submission by noting that only one refrigerator (the actual working one) was listed in the contract.

        1. Anon1234*

          Interesting…I just sold my place and all the contract said was “broom clean.” I only left things directly related the house (extra paint, extra flooring, appliance manuals), and left a note of explanation with other useful information. The thought of leaving more never crossed my mind.

      2. Windchime*

        I will have that language in any future house I buy. I bought a cute little old house in my previous town — great location, solid old house, nice yard. They left so much CRAP. I didn’t think to put it in the contract because of course I thought they would haul off all their junk! They left a huge bin of crappy, broken toys on the back patio. Miscellaneous junk in the garage (half-bottles of car washing soap, hubcaps for a VW, scrap lumber, etc). There was an entire room in the basement that had a broken clothes rack, broken tools, and other junk. And, inexplicably, a drawer full of CD’s in the dining room.

        So yeah, next time I will have that written in.

  9. Anonercopter*

    I wanted to say thank you to everyone who provided suggestions about how to resign from a contract-to-hire job. My boyfriend put in his resignation and, while his current job tried (hard.) to retain him, he is delighted to be leaving and going back to the type of work he truly enjoys (his old job).

    Even more good news is that his leaving made old employer realize how frequently his area was overlooked and how little effort they were putting into retaining employees in his department. They took a good, hard look at compensation and benefits for all workers at my boyfriend’s level (not just him) when determining what to offer my boyfriend to return. Now, the same benefits that my boyfriend will be receiving (higher pay, a schedule for receiving cost of living adjustments, more generous compensation for continuing education etc.) will be extended to the rest of his department, as well!

    1. Future Analyst*

      Love that the company wants to treat EVERYONE well! That’s fantastic news, thanks for sharing. :)

  10. saro*

    Any recommendations/advice to start an employee evaluation process? New company, just hired new people and it’s high time we started. I’m overseas and it will be new to them so the easier/simple the better. Thank you!

    1. Thinking out loud*

      Performance reviews? At my huge company, we set goals in the beginning of the year and discuss them with our managers. After six months, we discuss the goals and our performance against them. If we’re doing different tasks, we update our goals. At the end of the year, we update again if necessary and then we’re judged against our goals.

    2. GOG11*

      I’d recommend checking out the Management Center (I think Alison used to work there). They offer templates for a lot of stuff. Go to managementcenter . org and then hover over “tools” in the right hand corner. There are quite a few resources that might work under “Developing People” and under “Roles and Goals.”

      1. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

        I want to second that. My team uses those tools All. The. Time.

        Also, buy Allison’s book “Managing to Change the World”. Lots of great stuff in there. I’m in the process of starting a book club/discussion group with other nonprofit managers about this book because it has been so helpful to me and several of my peers.

        The book is geared toward nonprofit managers, but I used it in a class I taught where many people were far outside of the nonprofit filed, and it got rave reviews all around. There’s not really much that doesn’t apply generally, the nonprofit part is more the context/examples given.

        1. GOG11*

          I love that book! I have my student workers find a job they’d like to do and answer common questions in reference to that job, including what challenges the role would pose. I also have them think about how they can improve their skills in that area. One of my students said she has trouble delegating, so I “assigned” the section that covered that area in the book (I borrowed it from the library, and I can’t recall what the chapter was called exactly). We ended up having a really good discussion from it!

    3. AndersonDarling*

      On the flip side, we have new hire surveys that we give at 60 days and 90 days to make sure we are doing a good job with on-boarding. The feedback from these surveys could let you know what your new hires are expecting with reviews and performance goals.

  11. Oatmeal*

    I currently work for a not for profit, and have had some interesting conversations recently about having a job that you are “passionate” about (for this question, let’s assume lower pay, longer hours, and higher stress go with this – which is true in my current field) vs having a job that you are ok with and cultivating your interests/passions outside of work.

    What do you think? Was this an active choice for you? Or is it a false dichotomy?

    1. Rat Racer*

      I wouldn’t go so far as to proclaim “false dichotomy” because generally speaking, not-for-profits offer lower salaries — although I had thought that part of the deal was better benefits – not worse. But there’s so much variation! And especially in my field (health care) it’s hard to distinguish between for-profits and not-for-profits in culture, salary, mission.

      After working for non-profits for the first 15 years of my career, I took a job with a for-profit company. The salary is crazy good (I still think I’m overpaid), but the hours are long, I’m working for a department whose mission I’m passionate about within an organization I’m on the fence about (good guy? bad guy? depends who you ask). Truly a mixed bag. However, and most importantly, my colleagues some of the brightest, most accountable and kindest people I’ve worked with so far, and that makes a huge difference. The culture here is great – and that’s not something you can split down the middle based on profit status.

      My best advice is to ignore profit status and focus on the criteria that matter most to you personally.

      PS – if it makes you feel better on the double posting side, I just totally failed at my first AND second attempt to respond to you.

      1. Oatmeal*

        Ah, interesting. The kind of work my company does (it’s a very specific arts thing) does not exist outside of the not for profit (NFP) sector, so for me it isn’t a matter of working for this company, or a similar for-profit company. There is nothing even close to analogous in the for-profit world. My organization is the only one that does this type of work in the region.

        I had an informational interview this week with someone who works for a NFP that I admire and respect, and we had a long conversation about this where he basically told me that although he loves the organization and enjoys his job in theory, in practice it is grueling. He encouraged me to find a job that pays the bills, and cultivate my artistic practice outside of my job.

        (For reference my current role is kind of a unicorn – great benefits, relaxed hours, I get paid very well for what I do… but I’m at a dead end and there is nowhere for me to advance within the organization. I’m not being challenged in my role at all, and feel like my work brain is atrophied.)

        1. Rat Racer*

          Have you thought about working for a Foundation? One that gives grants to organizations like the one you currently work for? Total shot in the dark – don’t know if that’s a possibility.

          1. Oatmeal*

            Haha – that’s actually almost exactly what I am doing now! I’m working for a large granting agency.

            (Working in this capacity has actually drastically cut down on the number of organizations I’d actually apply to as well – once you’ve seen the sausage being made, it is hard to unsee.)

            1. Rat Racer*

              I’ve heard this, actually, from several people who do foundation work. I’ve never worked for one myself. I have also heard that they provide excellent free snacks :)

    2. OriginalYup*

      I switched from for-profit to non-profit with full knowledge that I’d take a big pay cut because I specifically wanted to do a particular kind of work in the nonprofit field. I imagine it’s pretty common for people to enter this field because of personal commitment to a cause or perceived social value. But the passion that’s often expected in this field — long hours for lower comparable pay, going above and beyond because you care about the issue — can lead to poor quality of life, burnout, and groupthink. I believe it’s really important to have a mix of true believers and people who are bit more removed if you’re doing cause-based work, both to get a balance in perspectives and also to dial down any smug unhealthy “if you REALLY believed in what we’re doing, you’d work harder/faster/cheaper/forever” nonsense that can creep in.

      Also, I think some people look at work as what they do to pay the bills and keep food on the table, and passionate interests are what they do in their private time, e.g. through volunteer work, so it doesn’t get tainted with that “ugh, another day at the office” feeling. For example, reading is my favorite hobby, but I would never want a career that involved it heavily (editing, publishing) because what I love would get all muddled in with daily job drama. I can certainly see someone wanting to preserve the best parts of what they love by making it voluntary rather than making it into a career.

    3. Kathleen*

      I think it’s kind of a false dichotomy. There are some people whose passions line up with (highly or not) paid employment, and to those people I say – go forth and rock your jobs! But there’s a lot of people who just like their jobs, or who don’t mind their jobs, and that’s to say nothing of the people who are in jobs they don’t like but can’t leave for whatever reason. Basically: feelings about jobs run the gamut.

      I don’t really see myself ever being passionate about a job, but I’m content to have a job that I feel good at, that I believe is doing good work, where I like the coworkers, benefits, and hours. It’s a nice way to spend my days, even if it doesn’t give Meaning to my life. For me, the meaning of life is relationships with friends and family, and I’m just not sure how to get paid for that.

      I also resent the idea that some have that working in a job you’re not passionate about is selling yourself short, or that if you’re not fulfilled and blissed out all the time always you’ve failed somehow. It is 100% ok to have a job you don’t mind and cultivate interests and passions outside of work.

      In the nonprofit sector, though, I feel like intense enthusiasm for the work is occasionally a job requirement. I’ve been to one too many conferences where we’re supposed to talk about our favorite part of the job, and everyone says “helping people,” and I’m thinking “the fact that I can wear jeans and I get to leave at 4.” :)

      1. afiendishthingy*

        I think “helping people” is the job interview answer – it’s not exactly a lie, but it’s not the whole truth. I work in human services, and yeah, it is great when I see a client make great progress, but my favorite part is that I don’t have to get up early and there’s always a coworker clothing swap going on. That said, my only for-profit workplaces were a hotel reservation call center and a restaurant, so not career type jobs; I can’t imagine myself in the for-profit sector in the future, but I do think it’s a matter of personal preference. My interests/training just don’t really align. I don’t know that “passionate” is the right word, but I do need to find my work interesting. Not every second, I don’t think any job is without some tedium, but a good chunk of the time. Of course that’s a luxury to have that choice, and I don’t know that everyone needs that, and I’m sure a lot of people find their jobs in for-profits interesting.

        1. Anonsie*

          It’s also just a meaningless statement. Yes yes, everyone likes helping people to some extent or another, good for you. What about this specific role or company hits that mark for you, though?

          1. afiendishthingy*

            Agreed, and I would be more specific in an interview, with examples – like seeing a kid who had no communicative skills at intake start using picture exchange to independently request things, or seeing a parent who had been at the end of their rope be less stressed out because they were using strategies I’d taught them to manage their child’s challenging behaviors.

      2. Ihmmy*

        ^^^ this x 1000. I’m the same way – I’m not passionate about the work here, but it’s a job I’m good at, I enjoy, I have good coworkers, I am helping improve lives in my way, AND I can leave it at the office when my day is done. And I work in non-profit, my last two jobs have been there, but there’s no feigned enthusiasm at least. Both are education fields, and I do feel continuing education is great, but it’s a bit different of a non profit than charities and such can be for temperament.

        1. Oatmeal*

          Yeah, my work environment is similar. Definitely no feigned enthusiasm. We all like what we do, but understand its challenges too.

    4. Mimmy*

      This is a really good question! I’ve been trying for years to find a way to cultivate my interests in a paid capacity. The closest I came was my one post-Masters job that only lasted 10 months. Right now, my work is as a member of several councils / committees that are somewhat related to my interests, but beyond regular meetings and time-limited (~2 months at a time) grant proposal review periods, it’s not steady, and one of my councils has been a bit of a mess since I was appointed last year.

      I think a lot of times, it’s not an active choice – One would certainly like it to be, but if you can’t find something paid that is in line with your passions, the best bet may be to accept an “okay” job and cultivate your passions by volunteering in some way to perhaps fill experience, skill or knowledge gaps. That’s what I’ve been thinking of doing. Then down the line, one could try again to find something paid.

    5. Dan*

      I took a serious pay raise moving from a for-profit to a non-profit in my field. Great work, 40 hours a week, not much stress at the IC level. I like my work and am passionate about it… 40 hours a week. I get to leave work at work, and have plenty of time to cultivate interests/passions outside of work.

      1. Felicia*

        I had a similar experience. I work 37.5 hours a week, which is less than i did at a for profit, and make more money too

    6. Ad Astra*

      It is possible for some people to find jobs they’re passionate about that also make them lots of money, so it’s a little bit of a false dichotomy. My husband is passionate about teaching, and while the money isn’t awesome, it’s actually better than the money I’m making in marketing right now, and he doesn’t have to work all summer.

      I worked in a field where passion and a sense of duty were supposed to get you through the long hours and crappy pay, and by the time I was laid off, I was also burnt out. It wasn’t a conscious choice to switch industries; there just weren’t any suitable jobs in my original field in the market I live in, and I wasn’t in a position to relocate. But I had long suspected I didn’t have the necessary passion to keep up with the industry, and I was relieved to find a job doing something else.

      The stuff I really care about — my family, my dog, good beer, my sports teams, visiting my best friends who live far away — are things I can’t turn into a job. They’re things I had to sacrifice in order to succeed in my old industry, and I really grew to resent it. So now my focus is on pursuing those interests, which means making money and accruing vacation time. As always, YMMV.

    7. the gold digger*

      I have never had more than one job offer at a time, but if I did have two offers at once, I would go for more money. That is the main reason I work – money.

      (And I almost punched my sister in law last week when she said how lucky it was that my husband is unemployed and we are not “financially strapped” so that my husband can be the main one taking care of his sick dad. Primo has spent the past two and a half months in Florida helping his parents and his two brothers have been of almost no help, except to advise Primo that he needs to make their dad lose 30 lbs, to which my sister said, “If he has that power, I want him to work on me first.”)

      1. Anonsie*

        Theoretically I would also do this but in my biz the low money/high money spectrum is also the normal organization/extremely evil organization spectrum and they line up exactly how one would expect, and there’s definitely a line for me taking the money and running.

      2. Oatmeal*

        I don’t have multiple offers – I’m just in a position that I like-ish, and looking to move forward in my career, which I can’t do at my current company. So I’m just trying to think about what is actually important to me in my work, and navigate from there.

        It helps that my job doesn’t put time pressure on this process – I like it well enough for now, and am not itching to get out or anything. I just see a move to another role on the horizon, so am starting the search process.

      3. Merry and Bright*

        I was asked that as a job interview question earlier this year – if I had two offers, what would be my deciding factor. I said something about instinct having met my prospective teams. It would really be the money of course, alarm bells and red flags apart. But we aren’t supposed to mention money upfront, and so….

        In reality, I have never been in that position and would rather not, to be honest. I know myself too well, and the first bad day I had I would be wishing I had taken the other job instead.

        I once got offered a job I had given up on after I had started somewhere else but luckily I was settled in and happy by then.

        1. Rat Racer*

          I’ve been in this position twice: two job offers, one pays more, the other I was more passionate about. Both times I took the higher paying job. The first time, it was a total mistake and one that I still sometimes regret. The second time, it was absolutely the right choice, and I’m so grateful to have landed where I did (money aside, the other company totally fell apart). It just goes to show how hard it is to draw firm lines in the sand.

    8. The Cosmic Avenger*

      It’s also not a choice that has a right answer. Some people may feel the need to have a job about which they’re very passionate, and they’re willing to give up material things for that. Some people might try to find something they don’t hate in order to “work to live, not live to work”. Some might decide that making money is their reason for being, and the more they make the better they feel about themselves.

      There’s nothing inherently wrong or unhealthy about any of those. They can all be taken to extremes, or not be satisfying because the thing they need isn’t sufficient.

      I’ve found something that I find interesting, and I’m well compensated. I’m not in love with what I do, but I like doing research into it and finding new solutions, and I have that opportunity fairly frequently. I could branch out or apply my knowledge in a different area and make a lot more, but right now my technical knowledge is applied to a web site that helps people, so I like being peripherally involved in this kind of helping. I also telework and work with people who believe in work-life balance, and I wouldn’t want to work anyplace where my personal life suffered greatly, no matter how much they paid me.

      But, tl;dr version, it’s all a very personal choice, based on what makes you happy.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        Oh, but to answer what you seemed to be asking, I started out in a more “helper” position, because that was satisfying, but found a way to move into a more technical role, which is less stressful and pays better.

    9. Felicia*

      At my not for profit job, I make more money , work less hours and have less stress than my friends in comparable for-profit jobs. I’m also not particuarly passionate about the organization (a lot of non profits are not cause based, mine is not), but I kinda like it and care a little. So i guess i can “have it all”? There’s other non profits i’d be more passionate about. For me, I want to have a job I like, that I make enough money to live off of in my current style (which isn’t that much) where i don’t work long hours. I think there’s a difference between that and “passion” which I don’t need.

      1. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

        This might be heresy in the nonprofit world, but I agree with you – there are lots of nonprofit jobs where an extreme passion for the mission of the organization is not required. There are some people on my team (those doing outreach and community relations work) who REALLY need to be passionate. There are others (the accountant, for example) who just need to do a good job in their specific area of work. I don’t really care if the account does a great job because he cares deeply about the work, because he has high personal standards, because he’s just a perfectionist, or because he wants a great reference for the next job. The point is, the organization is getting what we need from him. Great!

        Personally, I consider my career to be nonprofit management vs. the specific field that I’m in. I don’t share that often because sometimes it’s received as a dirty secret. I do somewhat prefer to stay on the human services side (vs. environment or animals) but there are tons of causes I could be quite happy working for. All of these different agencies/causes are pieces of the pie – we can’t have JUST domestic violence services, or JUST hunger services – it’s all important and I’d be quite happy contributing in a number of areas.

    10. fposte*

      Yeah, I’m going with “false dichotomy, if not completely untrue.” There is no shortage of long-hours high-stress jobs for people who are mostly passionate about their standard of living, after all.

      It wasn’t a conscious choice for me, but reading AAM makes me realize how *incredibly* fortunate I’ve been to find a career track that I love and that pays me pretty decently. If I lived in a more expensive region of the country, the salary thing might be an issue, but here I have enough to save for retirement and satisfy my largely modest tastes, so the money difference isn’t an active problem.

    11. Oatmeal*

      I didn’t mean to necessarily pit for profit against not for profit – I know some NFPs pay more, some people in for profit roles have more stress than their NFP counterparts… I just phrased it that way because that is the choice I am currently facing. I am just interested in hearing how people balance their lives and make choices about the kinds of work and careers they pursue.

    12. Sunshine Brite*

      I feel like finding a job that I’m both passionate about and have a life is important to me. I need a flexible schedule to manage stress and I like being able to do my activities, etc which would lead me to a job I’m ok with. But I’m still a social worker and I’m still working to help advance people even if it’s not my first area of choice because I saw what some other nonprofits and for-profits were doing to their employees and I couldn’t live like that for long.

    13. JenGray*

      I think you can do both. I just left a nonprofit for a for profit job but not because the mission of the organization was not something I was passionate about- I left for other reasons. I think that you will have more flexibility with a nonprofit than a for profit but the nonprofit job might require more evenings/weekends. But if you can take more time off than you have ability to pursue interests/passions outside of work. It all depends on the organization. If you are fulfilled in your nonprofit job than there is no reason for you to leave but just know what comes with it.

    14. Glod Glodsson*

      I’m leaning towards the false dichotomy side. Sometimes I worry a bit about how much value we as a society place on employment. We all derive part of our sense of self from having a rewarding job – or really, being employed at all. It’s something employers really benefit from, the whole ‘when you do what you love, you don’t work at all!’-schtick (she says while posting on AAM :P). It’s nice if you find your work really meaningful, but it’s also fine if you just do a job that brings in the rent if it allows you to focus on your personal development outside of work, as long as you’re happy that way.

      I read an article about this a while back which was interesting, it was a very critical article about this line of thinking, especially because low-wage jobs are becoming more and more prevalent. I’ve looked it up if you’re interested, it helped me take a step back from my overcommitment to my employer.

    15. The Expendable Redshirt*

      I work for a not for profit (NFP) that’s pretty awesome. I don’t know about lower pay, but the hours are reasonable and there’s minimal stress. Bonuses are a regular occurrence.

      Getting into this field/role wasn’t exactly an active choice. My journey is more like a comedy of errors and surprising accidents. I chose my job because it happens to be what I’m good at. Am I passionate about the cause? Kinda. People matter to me. What has been most important is finding a job with tasks that I’m good at along with a healthy work environment. I’ve found both, and sticking with this place.

    16. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

      You know, this is a question I toy with all the time. I do have lower pay, but I have GREAT benefits. When I started at this job (a decade ago), it consumed my life. I worked day and night, and expected many others to do the same. Because of health problems (in part caused/exacerbated by working so much) and generally realizing that work/life balance matters , I now work a pretty consistent 40 to 45 hour week with a 60 hour week thrown in a couple of times a year. I’m not exhausted, I have lots of time to pursue my own interests. I eat healthy, home cooked food, and I exercise every day. I volunteer. I take all my vacation time. And you know what? I get more done. And, because I’m the boss, I’ve worked really hard to make this our culture and to encourage people to work hard while they are at work, and then go home and do something else.

      Yes, I could make more money elsewhere. That said, my education and expertise are in nonprofit management, so this is a chosen career and it would be a good bit of trouble to switch fields. I also like what I do, I like the people I work with, and I like knowing that my work matters. I also like that I have tons of flexibility, which limits stress.

      I have, especially at times when I wasn’t loving my job quite so much, thought about whether I might be happier making more money and just making work work. I might do that someday. But I am also very aware that the grass might not be greener, and that I might not enjoy the money enough to make up for enjoying that 40 hours a week less.

      Not every nonprofit expects you to work day and night for nothing. Some do, but that’s the same with for-profit jobs.

    17. Melissa*

      Active choice for me. I also think it’s a false dichotomy; one of the things I’m passionate about also happens to be a hot area with the potential for a lot of money. But after 7 years in academia, I’m definitely going for “this job makes me reasonably content but also pays well and gives me time to have a life outside of it.” Those are top priorities for me, and much more important than the specific industry I’m in.

    18. wanderlust*

      I think it’s a bit of a fallacy to assume it’s “either, or”. On the one hand, I work in nonprofit, and I know that passion is a difficult motivation to sustain – especially if your role is less hands-on, or if your boss/coworkers are crazy, or if you’re living on ramen because you can’t afford groceries, but also if you realize that sometimes nonprofit work is a lot like working in an office, and it’s not always a warm fuzzy. On the other hand, though, people are allowed to be passionate about something BESIDES helping animals or feeding the hungry – medicine or research would be a great example, but people can be passionate about numbers, about operational oversight, about architecture and design, etc., etc. Nonprofits don’t have a monopoly on passion in the workforce, and for-profits don’t have a monopoly on dissatisfying jobs.

      Think about what it is about your WORK, not your company, that makes you happy (or not), and look for that in your professional life – i.e., how are you motivated? what kind of projects excite you? what saps your energy? Some people love analyzing data, some people love event planning. That can be done in a variety of contexts. But bottom line, if you work anywhere and you’re NOT feeling satisfied, then yeah – go volunteer, take up a new hobby, pursue a new job if it makes sense.

    19. Jillociraptor*

      Just to toss a fun wrench in this mix, I work in a mission-driven nonprofit, and lots of my colleagues also have “side hustles” that are additionally important to them beyond their work specifically toward our mission. So both is also an option!

      I think of my dad, who worked in a for-profit company his whole career (same one), and absolutely had what I’d say is passion for his work. It wasn’t mission driven, but he believed deeply in what his company did, and the way they did it.

      Contrast that with my mom, she had zero problem going to a job every day that she didn’t personally care about and finding excitement in her non-work life.

      Like my dad, I feel pretty strongly compelled to do work I believe in. I don’t feel super motivated by the idea of “work-life balance” — I care about and get tons of meaning from the work I do every day. I don’t think I could ever have “just a job,” that I could leave at work and not think about.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I’ll throw in another monkey wrench.
        My primary focus is the organization itself. Do I believe in what they are doing/making/selling? Is the organization ethical? I don’t believe I have to be “passionate”, as passion usually wanes as familiarity increases. I do have to have a core belief that the product or service is basically good. It’s that belief that carries me through the tough days.
        Second is I have to feel like I am making a contribution and making a difference. For profit or not for profit status does not matter, if I am not contributing.
        As far as money is concerned, I stopped accepting less money because of some vague “greater good”. I think that is fine for the short run, but it is not a long term plan. The math does not work for me. My fuel bill is four times what it was when I first moved in to my current house. My health care insurance has is now EIGHT times what it was nine years ago. No, seeing how the numbers play out over the years, I can no longer accept less pay because of a greater mission. I don’t have to make a bizillion dollars a year, but I do have to be able to cover my bills (and their ever rising costs) so I can sleep at night.

        In short, I target comfortably covering the bills, the overall value of the organization’s product/service and my ability to make a contribution to that effort. Those are the three things I feel are important for me.

  12. co-authors galore*

    How do you list large group publications on your resume? I’m one of about 30 co-authors on a multi-hundred-page scientific report that was recently published by a government agency. We are all named as authors within the report, but just in general as a group (not for specific chapters, etc.) and it’s one of those publications where the appropriate citation is “Government Agency Name (Year).” I’m not an academic, but my field still values publications, and I definitely want to add this to the Publications section of my resume — any tips?

  13. Sherm*

    Just wanted to give out some encouragement to the job seekers. I got a (new) job after eighteen months of looking. I know how hard it can be! You know how people say “I send out dozens of resumes a week, and I hear nothing”? Well, that wasn’t me, because most days I couldn’t find a single job posting that matched by skill set.

    But it finally happened. And it was pretty easy! And (lots of “ands” here”) my resume wasn’t perfect — I sent by mistake a version I wasn’t completely happy with. And I wasn’t perfect in my first interview — I left something in the office and had to go back to it. I wasn’t perfect at the second interview — I said “Deadlines are hard!” meaning “hard” in the sense that one day late doesn’t cut it in my field, but my interviewer thought I meant “Deadlines are difficult!” I didn’t have a good opportunity to correct myself, as the interviewer went on. But I still got the job. AND I like it! It can totally happen to you.

    1. ElCee*

      I love this! Thank you for the pick-me-up. My experience is similar. I send out maybe one resume a week–I know I’m being a little “picky” but (knock on wood) my current job is safe for now, and my biggest reason for a new position is upward mobility and pay, so there’s not a lot out there in my already-tight field. Just have to keep plugging on!

    2. cuppa*

      I’m having the same skill set issue (my industry seems to hire and waves and we’re in a dry spell), so I’m happy to see a success story! Sometimes I have to remind myself that just because I don’t see anything today doesn’t mean I won’t see anything ever.

    3. Melissa*

      Congrats, and thanks! I’m interviewing/applying now and the reminder that you don’t have to be perfect to get hired is always welcome.

  14. J.B.*

    Project management certification – it would be really useful for me to have but wow! even the community colleges charge beaucoup bucks! I’m wondering if there are a few starting classes that are worth taking separately, and then pursuing certification later. Or is it better to do some sort of intensive. Any tips on what courses are worthwhile vs working towards the exam?

    As a specific example, the most applicable courses to me from one of the local ($) programs are:
    Project management tools, principles and practices
    How to communicate, influence and negotiate in project management
    How to manage capital projects

    1. Rat Racer*

      What on earth do they teach in those classes? I feel like project management certification is a total scam. Although I am admittedly a lousy project manager, in my opinion, it’s a skill set you can just as easily cultivate on the job if you enjoy doing it (I do not). I know this is not very helpful to you though JB, because so many jobs now require Project Management certification.

      But seriously – just a rant here – in my experience Project Management and People Management are skills that you should learn by doing/learn by mentorship, and can’t be purchased through coursework. I wish academia would stop trying to bottle and sell this snake oil.

      1. AndersonDarling*

        I used to think the same thing- Don’t you just figure out how to manage projects? But I learned that actual Project Management is a whole different ball of wax. It’s budgeting, conflict resolution, negotiations, contracts, human resources, and so many budgetary and scheduling calculations it makes my head spin. I understand now why the certification takes 3,000+ hours of hands-on experience. It is like learning an art and a science at the same time.
        I could handle managing a one month project with a budget of $1,000. But I could never begin to handle a 2 year project with $Millions at stake. The PMs can have it.

        1. Rat Racer*

          I just want to clarify that I firmly and whole-heartedly believe that project management is a real skillset, and that the skills you listed above take time and effort to develop. I’m just skeptical that someone who has completed project management coursework would be as competent as someone who has cultivated those skills through on the job training and real world experience. Especially when it comes to the soft skills like conflict resolution – how do you bottle conflict resolution skills in a classroom?

          Part of my cynicism comes from the total BS management classes I had to take in grad school. Actually, the real value in those classes was that they didn’t provide any value at all – at least I know now that good management skills can only be obtained through contextual experience, mentorship (and the AAM blog and Book)

          1. AndersonDarling*

            Oh yeah, I agree! I’ve wondered why the PM students are taking the certification if they need 3,000 hours of experience to complete the course. After 3,000 hours of experience, wouldn’t you be a project manager anyway?
            And I double agree about the management classes. I’ve learned 100x more from reading AAM than I read in a management texbook.

      2. Us, Too*

        The class does NOT teach you to be a good project manager. The class teaches you how to pass the PMP exam, which is NOT the same thing.

        I was required to get this certification for a former job. Although I am a great project manager, and I have many years of PM experience, I took the class. The class made it MUCH easier to pass the test because it taught me to think about what the right answer for the exam was (What Would PMBOK say?) rather than what the right answer in real life was (What is the Right Thing To Do).

        1. Witty Nickname*

          I did a Project Management bootcamp through Project Management Academy, and it was absolutely valuable for me. It taught me a lot about being a good project manager, as well as how to pass the exam. I was able to implement a lot of what I learned in the bootcamp into my role and help establish some best practices in my organization (my role was new to our org, so my team really was able to help set some direction).

          However, I know that even with PMA, the quality can vary depending on your instructor. I had an excellent instructor who was able to make the insane amount of material we had to cover in 3 days clear and applicable to real world project management (not just PMBOK project management).

          1. Us, Too*

            I think this is kind of like arguing that you can learn to be a great manager via coursework. The coursework alone is not worthless, but there’s no substitute for real life experience and practice.

            Having said that, if your org is full of folks who have neither the practice NOR the book learning, go for it. In the land of the blind the one-eyed man is king. :)

          2. Us, Too*

            I should add that I also had a really good instructor. For every real world example, though, our class had enough seasoned (jaded?) PM veterans that one or more of us could cite a counter example in which doing this would sink a project or create additional issues, etc. Poor woman had to repeatedly point out that this is about what PMBOK would say, not what may be best in a particular situation! :)

        2. Cath in Canada*

          Well, there are classes that teach experienced PMs how to pass the PMP exam (I took one and it was really valuable for that specific purpose), and there are also separate classes that teach the theory of how to actually manage projects to people with zero hands-on experience. I’ve never taken one of the latter type (I learned on the job), but some of my colleagues have and said that they were at least valuable in getting hired into their first PM job.

        3. AnotherFed*

          +1000. What would PMBOK say is a horrifying standard to apply to real life project management, especially if you’re managing people who actually know what most of the PM lingo means… there is no faster way to piss off engineers than to say Earned Value Management!!

    2. cuppa*

      Check your local library for the Gale Courses program. They have two free MOOCs on project management.

    3. Gwen Soul*

      Are you talking the PMP certification? If so it is possible to study on your own, you just have to be very focused and dedicated.

      1. Us, Too*

        You can’t actually apply for the PMP certification without having 35 hours of “formal education”. :/ So at some point you have to sit in a classroom and (likely) pay for it.

        1. Gwen Soul*

          It can be self directed as well. None of my hours came from a class room. I did online webinars and books from the library. I got my PMP a few years ago, so that may have changed though.

    4. Jubilance*

      Any possibility that your company could pay for your training? I got lucky and a previous employer paid for my entire team to attend a PMI led certification course.

      1. J.B.*

        The short term goal is to refine my cat herding skills :) I have opportunities to practice but no real mentorship. My employer will pay for something but it needs to be cheap. I think in my case classroom work on specific topics would be really useful. I care much less about the exam prep but will get there eventually. I’ll try for classes that meet the “formal education” requirement right now and work towards the exam later.

        Thanks for the tips!

    5. AndersonDarling*

      I just completed the CompTIA Project+ certification. It is a really good step into project management.

    6. ID10T Detector*

      My local community college offers a series of classes that culminate with PMP Prep 1 and PMP Prep 2 – the first four classes are $60 each, and the 2 prep classes are $90 each. The classes are entirely online through Ed2Go. I can post the URL if you’re interested.

    7. FJ*

      Do you have industry related project management courses you could take? I’ve taken two specific to processes in my industry and they were both more useful than the general PMP course I took from the local university.

    8. Jillociraptor*

      Coursera has an on demand course that I found simple but enlightening on the topic. It’s free, might be worth checking out!

    9. Kirsten*

      I don’t know if this will help you at all but my husband and I are both project managers and neither one of us ever took the classes or got the PMP certification. I currently hire other PM’s and never look for the cert. I don’t know how much it would actually help you, so maybe it’s not worth the cost?

  15. Steve G*

    OK I’ve been waiting impatiently to ask…….Questions for recruiters using online job boards (any recruiters here?!):
    1) How do you the applicants get to you? From Indeed/Monster/etc. Do you have to put the effort to login to look at them, or do they get emailed to you?
    2) Many sites mess up the formatting of resumes/cover letters, and or insert it into a cut-and-paste field. Do you also still get the pretty, formatted version we originally attached, and/or do you not care if the formatting becomes a bit off because of your job site?
    3) Linkedin – Out of the 25ish jobs I’ve applied to here, only 3 of the applications have been opened, yet I got an interview for a job where they didn’t open my application. How is that possible? Conversely, I’ve been rejected without seeing the “application viewed” status come up… how do they know enough about me to reject me? Have you ever not opened the application and just looked at their Linkedin profile? Or does the application get emailed to you somehow?
    4) Jobvite – does “in process” mean you looked at the application yet or are seriously considering the person? Because 90% of the time “in process” has meant I got a phone screen, but I saw one job go into “in process” this week, then I got rejected (ouch!).

    1. Karowen*

      Not a recruiter, but re: Rejection without looking at you – I’d bet you this happens to people all the time, we just don’t have any visibility into the recruitment process so we give the recruiter the benefit of the doubt. Think about it like this: two years ago, the average position got 118 applications. There’s no way to efficiently go through all of them. So you go through them until you find a handful of stellar candidates and put the rest to the side in case your handful doesn’t work out.

      Conversely, the recruiter could’ve peaked at your profile (invisibly) and seen that you didn’t tout required skill x and moved on, or if it gets imported into an applicant tracking system may have just done a search for a given word and rejected anyone who doesn’t have that word. There are soooo many possibilities, so don’t let it get to you.

    2. Kay*

      Hey! I wasn’t sure if you meant recruiter from a recruiting company or like, an intercompany recruiter. From a staffing company…

      1) We do both. We get emails set up from Boolean alerts that we create (i.e. “winterfell ruler” AND “dead” NOT “everyone in the westeros”) but we usually run through those pretty quickly, or they are a lot of the same people we have seen before. We move on to looking on the boards themselves and trying different combinations of searches to see new resumes.
      2)We know that the sites mess up formatting and don’t worry too much about it (short of it being unreadable). We can click on the download button to get the pretty version, but it usually wastes too much time and is unnecessary. We will if we want to save the resume to send out later.
      3) I’ve rejected people after looking over their linkedin profile. Sometimes I find that they aren’t as strong a candidate as their resume makes them seem. One time I found a guy who plagiarized an entire cover letter from this website. That was fun. I can’t really speak to the candidate side, maybe its buggy, maybe recruiters have enough resumes for that postion.
      4) I don’t use this site, so I couldn’t guess.

      1. Steve G*

        Really good information, so let me ask about Linkedin…what are you looking for on the profiles? Because 1) I tend to be shy about connecting with people (because a lot of my customers at past companies were older men who didn’t really use or need to use social media), so would a low # of contacts (100) make me look less qualified to you (I totally marvel at people 2 years out of school with 500+ connections because I’ve never even worked with that many people)…..and 2) I don’t want to post too much about what I did online, so there isn’t much detail. Either it feels like oversharing, or I feel like I am putting previous employers/coworkers at risk oversharing about what they do

        1. Kay*

          I don’t look at connections at all. It’s basically a tool for a more detailed look at your background. I found that LinkedIn profiles can sometimes tell more of a story just because they tend to be more detailed. I also keep an eye on any groups they are a part of, just to paint a picture of who they are and their interests.

        2. RR*

          Not Kay, but as someone who has recruited from LinkedIn (well, had my in-house recruiter look for me, the hiring manager), I can tell you that in my field, we don’t care squat about number of connections. We look for certain key terms that are common to our (rather specialized) line of work. And if you have worked for certain industry leaders (and in what role).

          What I have in my profile, which has generated a fair amount of contacts from recruiters and hiring managers, is a one paragraph summary of my key qualifications, and then a listing — with ZERO details — of my current and past positions. Company name and title only, but in my line of work, that does convey a fair bit of info by itself.

    3. Recruiter*

      1) For the most part, applications/resumes are emailed directly to me when you use a link from a job posting to apply to a job we have posted.

      2) Depends on the specific site and how you’ve applied but we usually will get the resume as you have formatted it and if we don’t, we don’t really care as long as you are actually qualified for the job we have posted. (95% of the responses we receive are people that just click “apply” to a Java Developer posting when they have formerly worked in a car dealership as a sales person)

      3) It could be that we’ve already looked at your profile and don’t need to look at your application. Or it oculd be that we already have people interviewing and don’t need any other candidates but we haven’t taken down the job posting yet.

      4) It really would just depend on how the particular company you are applying to uses Jobvite within their organization. Most times we wouldn’t put someone in process unless we were considering them but that doesn’t mean that’s how all recruiting companies use the software.

      The truth is we get so many responses to job postings that are not qualified

      1. Steve G*

        This is a really good bit of information, thank you so much!

        I am especially excited to get a response on the jobvite thing. I have 2 applications on it “in process” now, and the majority of times (maybe 6?) I’ve seen “in process,” I got a call within the week, so when I saw “in process” then got rejected it really surprised me.

    4. VictoriaHR*

      Recruiter here :) It really depends on the job. Something highly specialized, like an Information Assurance Engineer who’s willing to relocate to a remote Navy base and work for a lower salary, we have to go digging. More generalized positions such as Software Engineer I, we often just post on our careers page and plenty of worthwhile candidates apply.

      I don’t care if resumes get formatted in a wonky matter due to the applicant tracking system. I take it with a grain of salt. We’ve hired people with pristine resumes and we’ve hired people with crap resumes. We base the decision more on how the person was in the interview process.

      Never used LinkedIn or Jobvite, so can’t help there, sorry :(

      1. Steve G*

        Is there any site that makes the applications somehow easier to get in front of HR people, or are they all kind of the same? So when you get a lot of candidates, do you have to login into the system (like is there a back end of and then open each resume one by one, or do they get emailed to you each time someone applies?

        The reason I’m asking all of these questions is, if one site is harder to use so HR people don’t really check the applications, I want to know.

        1. Kay*

          I just wanted to chime in…every recruiter has a different preference. Some people find monster the best, others prefer indeed. They all have their strengths and weaknesses. We don’t really let that affect our opinions of the candidates. In general though, some stereotypes filter through…
          CareerBuilder – Everyone and their mother uploads their resume there so you may end up with some slightly odd candidates or people who aren’t sure about using computers. Good for blue collar jobs though and easy to search.
          Monster – Usually a different candidate pool, people who are looking for white collar jobs.
          Indeed – Good for all around candidate but a pain because you get a very limited number of free emails and people don’t always respond. Very easy to search.
          Craigslist – Always entertaining. Sometimes you luck out.
          LinkedIn – Best for higher level/executive jobs. Higher Maintenance Candidates.
          GeographicAreaHelpWanted – Really easy to use, good formatting. Searches on this site are impossible though and make it really difficult to weed out candidates without reading the whole resume.

          I’m sure there are others. These really are just stereotypes and need to be taken with a grain of salt, but it tends to be what people fall back on when they are trying to recruit lots of candidates or fill a lot of jobs.

  16. TheExchequer*

    Couple of interviews but no offers. The car situation seems to have stabilized for now so hopefully we’ll be okay for awhile.

    I have a bona fide question for you. I’m job searching like crazy for multiple reasons (including but not limited to: multiple instances of not receiving my commission and/or paycheck on time (apparently being overwhelmed is a valid excuse for that! Who knew?), my boss telling me repeatedly that nobody else had to be perfect but I did, lack of benefits, and a general lack of business – it is really slow and not in a season that should be slow for us). However, my 1 year anniversary of being at this company is coming up. Even though I’m vigorously job searching, can I still try to negotiate a raise if I don’t have any offers? Or is that considered negotiating in bad faith? How long should I wait after getting the raise (if, indeed, I do get one) before I leave?

    1. Retail Lifer*

      I’m sure this is bad avice, but if you’re not getting paid on time and your boss is treating you like that, I wouldn’t worry about negotiating in bad faith or quitting right after getting a raise. It would be completely different if this place was good to you, but it hasn’t been. If you get an offer, do the respectable thing and give your two weeks, but you don’t owe them any more than that.

    2. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I agree with Retail Lifer, but I also wouldn’t consider it bad faith. You don’t KNOW you’re leaving, you might be stuck there…well, hopefully not for long, but it could be a while. Unless you have plans etched in stone, I don’t consider it bad faith to move forward assuming the worst scenario (that you’re stuck there for a while).

      If you get the raise, then you leave whenever you get a better offer, and you can tell them that it wasn’t enough to keep you because there are concerns other than pay rate (stability/reliability based on your late pay).

    3. Golden Yeti*

      I would say it might not be bad to try to negotiate a small raise, at least. That way, if your job search takes longer than you’re expecting, at least you’re making a little more in the meantime.

  17. Ali*

    My new job is turning out to be a struggle. I haven’t lost hope that things can turn around, but I don’t think this will be the place for me. Although I’m making less than $9 an hour, I didn’t find out until my new hire orientation that I would have to complete my training across three different sites (the store that hired me, one store for classroom training and a third store for on the job training) and I also have to complete computer work before I attend classroom sessions. In addition, there are several assessment tests that I cannot pass with anything less than 100%. I understand the importance of all the classes, as my job is a pharmacy tech so there’s a lot to learn about laws and safety. However, since the pay is so low and I’ll only be working part time, it seems silly to have some of the aspects…like going to three different stores to get the training done. I cannot do the on the job training in the store that hired me. I also feel out of place with all the other new techs hired across my company, as they want to go to pharmacy school or pursue other medical careers. I don’t have the smarts for that!

    I have an interview for a different part time job on Tuesday and am also considering a career change. I still do not have any other prospects for full time work in my field. If I get this other part time job, I think it could be a better fit and I’d end up taking it, even if it paid a little less. I guess I am just a little disappointed b/c I had solid hopes for this job, and now it’s not looking good .

    1. Sadsack*

      Hey, I don’t know you, but saying that you aren’t smart enough to pursue further education or career paths sounds like you are really selling yourself short.

      1. Ali*

        I was referring to pursuing medical/hard science paths, not ruling out other careers in general. Pharmacy school, for as interesting as it sounds, requires a lot of work that isn’t really in line with strengths. Same with healthcare careers across the board.

      2. Nikki T*

        I approve this message. You might not have those sort of aspirations, but don’t sell yourself short!

    2. E*

      The pay may not be good, which is a valid reason to look elsewhere. But going through the intensive requirements for this job would be something to add to your resume, along with a decent length of time working there if this works out.

    3. KAZ2Y5*

      Don’t get discouraged! I’m a pharmacist (although I work hospital and it sounds like you work retail) and I know how competitive the pharmacy job market is now. I have just now (hopefully) gotten my first full-time position after being laid off 7 months ago. You need to go through all the training (even if you are just working part-time) because you are expected to have the same knowledge, even if you are just working 1-2 days a week (or whatever your schedule is). I had accepted a prn position and had to go through the same 5 week training that all new pharmacists go through (full-time, part-time or prn) because when I am there I need to what their policies and procedures are.
      I would just count this job as a step up the ladder. You will have to probably work there for a while before you can get a full-time position (either there or somewhere else) but this is great experience and something to put on your resume.
      And as a side note, if you are interested you might check out hospital pharmacy. The majority are open 24/7 (which may or may not be a problem for you) but the pay is much better. Good luck!

    4. fposte*

      I’m sorry this isn’t working out as you hoped. Can you explain why the other part-time job would be better, even if it pays less and the pay for this job is already a problem? And what’s the problem with the training at other stores–is it that those stores are hard to get to, or you’re not being paid (or you’re paid less) for them? If it’s just that they’re hoops, could you just jump the hoops and move forward?

      If I recall correctly, you’re thinking about other directions since it’s tough to find full-time work in your field. Do either of these jobs offer the possibility of expanding to full time work and better pay?

      1. Ali*

        The other part time job I feel more excited about because it’s in a chain restaurant and I’ve always been drawn to the idea of doing hospitality management. I did food service to make ends meet in school and enjoyed it and part of me always wanted to come back to that. I don’t necessarily know yet the pay will be less (I go on Tuesday for a second interview), but it feels more in line with something I’m excited about. I feel hospitality/restaurants offer a lot of opportunity for growth if you get in at the bottom and do well. (Look back at Alison’s cover letter example from Dany from…2013? I think? to see what I mean.)

        I guess I think it’s pointless to train at other stores because there’s no reason, in my opinion, why you can’t do on the job training at the store that hired you. It’s the same system at every store within the chain. I don’t have a car right now, so having to make at least three half-hour trips to one of the training sites is difficult and in my area, that trip can’t be made by bus so I have to find rides. I did not know about this until I was in my new hire class and it was brought up that we had to go to training stores. If it had been mentioned to me in the interview, I would’ve self selected out.

        I don’t really see how far my career can advance as a pharmacy tech because I don’t have the knack for all the hard sciences being a pharmacist requires. Plus, it’s not like I’m that great about my own health and fitness that I’d be in a position to advise others on some other career path in that field! I mean, in my company, it’s possible to do retail and pharmacy tech duties, but I’m not yet sure if retail management would even appeal to me.

        Either way, I still want to be on the lookout in case something full time does come along. But I got rejected from another job today b/c even though the lady who talked to me said she’d get in touch with me with an interview time, she ended up emailing and saying they filled the job. Kinda depressing.

        1. TootsNYC*

          I guess I think it’s pointless to train at other stores because there’s no reason, in my opinion, why you can’t do on the job training at the store that hired you. It’s the same system at every store within the chain.

          The other store may have a staffer who’s better at training. Or qualified.
          The other store may have physical room that makes it easier for someone to observe you, or for you to shadow them.

          Try not to invest too mu h angst in second-guessing them. Go with the flow; don’t try to do their job for them.

  18. Pill Helmet*

    Any photographers out there?

    My husband has the rare opportunity to change careers and he’s interested in becoming a professional photographer. He’s been an amateur photographer since I met him and has quite a good eye for composition. He takes some really stellar pictures so I believe he’s talented enough to do it with some time and training.

    I know it’s a tough field. Any advice for how he could get started? I’ve been telling him to take some classes, offer to do some volunteer work for local non-profits, do some band photography, offer low rates for beginner work just to get experience, and to see if he can find an apprenticeship. I’m not sure if these are practical ideas, bad ideas, or even completely unrealistic.

    I’d also like to get some guidance for him about setting up a portfolio / website. Should he have printed photos or are all digital ok? How man should he have prepared to show to potential customers?

    Any other tips or thoughts?

    1. Bekx*

      I’m not, but my dad is.

      Here’s the problem. Everyone with a camera now thinks they can be a good photographer. My dad was President of multiple organizations, nationally accredited and state accredited. He was inducted into invite only societies for photographers that are considered Masters of their field. He taught. He got his Craftsmans degree from PPA. A photo of me as a child is an internationally award winning print.

      It’s hard now. Everyone thinks they are a photographer. You have to be twice the businessman as you are photographer.

      My grandmother’s studio that he worked at for 30 years? Gone. As are many of the studios that held master photographers.

      I was at a wedding with him recently, and he was sitting down showing the flower girl how to sit on the steps of the church. He showed the bride how to position her hand (closed) and what angle the groom needed to look. A woman commented “Wow! I’ve never seen a photographer do that! You can tell he’s good!”. And I’m biased as hell, but HE IS GOOD.

      But with all this talent, he does not have his own studio. He does weddings on Saturdays through 3 other companies. Work is hard to find. My dad is an artist. He is not a business man.

      Not to scare you away from it, but it’s tough. tough tough. But to answer your questions since that’s what you care about:

      All digital photos are great for a portfolio website. Make sure you have an album or five that you can physically show clients. Make sure you have on hand a few weddings with ALL the shots. Good and bad. Photographers can take 600 shots for a wedding and have maybe 2 or 3 portfolio worthy ones and display those on their website, but those aren’t the ones you’ll get for the other 597 shots. This is good advice for a bride to be too, ask to see a FULL wedding. That’ll give you a better picture than the ones people display on their website.

      My dad usually will send them/show them 2 recent weddings, 2 albums and any more that the bride might request.

      1. Pill Helmet*

        I appreciate the feedback. I have definitely considered the “everybody thinks they’re a photographer” point. It’s a concern. He’s a bit different than the average person running around with an iPhone, snapping anything, and editing it in instagram. I mean, he does do that. BUT he also has several high end cameras and actually takes time to go out and shoot real photos, and he’s been doing it for decades, so it’s not just a passing fancy. He’s taken some intensive photography classes in the past and now he reads photography books and blogs to keep up with it and tries new techniques, etc. etc. But I totally get your point.

        You’ve made some really valid and helpful points about the businessman aspect and the kind of dedication required. Both of which worry me. He’s not a business man. He’s clearly dedicated to photography, but I rarely see him exhibit real stick-to-it-iveness when it comes to career ambitions. I hate to say anything negative about him, because he’s an amazing husband, but he doesn’t have an ambitious bone in his body. He has absolutely no direction or motivation to move forward in his current career (tech support). He can’t even verbalize his skills or answer the question “what do you want next?” But he REALLY wants to be creative and I don’t want to dissuade him.

        1. Bekx*

          Yup I get that. I’m in marketing and I’m the one who has to give my dad ideas. It’s definitely hard, but maybe what I’d recommend is he keep his job but do it on the side.

          1. Pill Helmet*

            He’s actually unemployed right now. We relocated for my job and he quit his. He’s been wishy washy about finding a new job. But I’m also making enough money that right now he has the luxury to make a change, which is why this has come up. I agree, if he were working I wouldn’t have him quit his job to pursue this.

            1. BRR*

              Sounds like a good time to let him try although it’s definitely a word of mouth business. If you don’t mind him trying it now sounds like a good time. Could he also find maybe some other part-time work for now if that is what your household needs?

        2. Natalie*

          Maybe reframing it a bit. Rather than being his career, what if he viewed tech support as the day gig that allows him to have a much loved but not terribly profitable photography business? There’s no rule that your 9 to 5 job has to be your primary interest in life.

          1. Pill Helmet*

            This is a great idea. I have suggested part time work, but I haven’t framed it quite like this. I’m going to try it.

            1. Mander*

              FWIW I have attended a bunch of business development courses and seminars over the past couple of years and there are always tons of photographers in them. Not to denigrate your husband’s skills, but it’s definitely a saturated market, so making a living from it might not be realistic unless he’s devastatingly good.

              But that’s not to say he can’t make some money doing it, just perhaps not enough to mean that he’ll never have to work in a field that’s not his passion again.

      2. RMRIC0*

        This is very important advice to anyone getting into the field, your ability to market and sell yourself is just as important (if not more) than your ability to take a good picture. There are plenty of “rockstars” in the field that are mediocre photographers but get tons of dough (mostly from other photographers) because they have built brilliant brands.

        1. VictoriaHR*

          This goes for a lot of home businesses. I make and sell soaps and lotions and if I don’t keep up with the marketing aspect of it (which I have not this year at all), my business slows down and eventually dies off. I stopped doing farmer’s markets after last year and so now I have hardly any income from it. But it was always just a hobby and would have never been a full-time job for me, because I could easily see that making soap would lose the “fun” factor very quickly as soon as I “had” to do it to fill orders. If your husband isn’t willing to do the business administration side of it, he should probably keep it as a hobby and have a day job.

          1. Folklorist*

            Off topic, but you said you sell soaps–ARE THOSE YOUR DALEK SOAPS??? If so, where do I buy??? Take my money, please!

    2. ElCee*

      He should make a website. I recommend apprenticing or working as a second shooter for other photogs, vs. undercharging or doing free work*, to build his portfolio. The reason for this is that you want to network and develop relationships with other photographers–that really is the best way to gain real clients in the long term. Photography (and TV, which is my partner’s field) can be a pretty small world, so you want to start off on the right foot with other photogs and not get a reputation for “stealing” clients–whether right or wrong, it is a hard one to shake. Maybe it’s different in still photography vs. TV, but relationships are important in this industry.

      *Free work for friends is OK, IMO. The idea is you’re not undercutting any competition, they’re your friends after all so they would be choosing you over another photog anyway.

    3. Lily in NYC*

      I used to work in the photography departments at US News & World Report and then Sports Illustrated, so I know lots of professional photojournalists. I’m going to be brutally honest – it is almost impossible to make a good living at it anymore unless you go very commercial; like weddings. With the advent of digital cameras and the slow death of print medial, there just isn’t the market for photography that there used to be. Sports Illustrated just let go all of their staff photographers a few weeks ago and are going to use freelancers. Which is so incredibly competitive – if you don’t know the right people, you won’t get any work.
      RE: Portfolios – I think digital is ok these days. The photos need to be a good size (at least 8×11) and there should be a good range of subjects; portraits, close ups, candids, landscapes, etc. unless he plans to specialize. Other than the photojournalists I mentioned above, I only know one person who makes a living wage as a professional photographer – and his duties consist of taking photos of businesses (I can’t remember the context but I remember it was boring as hell). Even war photographers these days are all freelancers. What Bekx wrote about being a good businessman is so true – it’s just as important as being good at taking photos.

      1. Pill Helmet*

        I should say that he doesn’t have dreams of becoming a photojournalist or anything like that. He’s definitely thinking commercial. He just wants to take pictures and show them to people and get oos and ahhs. And while he’s at it, make a bit of money. He’s thinking, weddings, children, local events kind of stuff. Nothing high profile.

        1. Lily in NYC*

          Oh good! Then please disregard my entire comment. It’s probably still pretty competitive but easier to break into the field than print work. One thing to remember is that he will have to work a lot of weekends!

        1. Lily in NYC*

          It’s so depressing – like acting as well. Talent will only get you so far and then you need luck/connections.

    4. FJ*

      Not a pro, but I’ve thought about it too. Seems like a tough way to make a living these days. Lots of online articles about it (i’ll post one in the next comment). I think I’m going to keep going at my regular job and maybe try doing a photo business on the side. If it builds up, great, but if not then I still have income and I haven’t ruined my love of the hobby.

    5. Stephanie*

      A former roommate transitioned from engineering to professional photography. From what I remember, it was definitely a long game–she kept her Big Corporate engineering job, squirreled away as much money as possible, and freelanced on the side to build up her portfolio. She and her husband also moved from Southern California to New Mexico (mostly for his job, but there had the added benefit of a significantly lower COL where they could have one income and one freelance income).

      Former Roommate makes most of her money doing commercial work for billboard companies and the occasional wedding. I’ll echo everyone else in that you have to be a top-notch businessperson. Former Roommate always knew where every dollar went and was (and still is) an aggressive networker.

    6. RMRIC0*

      I am a wedding photographer (and portraits – though those are mostly related to weddings like bridals and boudoir).

      The classic line here is “don’t quite your day job.” While photography can be a tough field to find success in, it’s also a place where you can just dip in your toes to get a feel for the market and how things might go (which is part of why it’s hard to find success in the field).

      I think your basic approach seems about right – networking with local non-profits and doing free or discounted shoots are a great way to start building a portfolio (depending on what you want to shoot). He can also probably pick up some work as an assistant or apprentice with other local photographers, even if he’s just holding lights and reflectors for a bit while seeing how other people work.

      As far as what that portfolio should consist of it will vary greatly depending on what he’s doing. I’d say that if it’s a digital portfolio there should be at least 20 strong images (enough for people to flip through) and a few sets from completed sessions that clients can look at. I don’t think you necessarily need a physical portfolio unless you’re looking to sell prints (and then you’ll want something more like a sales kit than a portfolio).

      There are also a lot of great resources online that cover the business side including forums like or education sites like that can serve as a springboard into the creative and business end of things.

    7. AVP*

      I hire photographers and work closely with them.

      A digital portfolio website is fine. Squarespace is great for that.

      Photography jobs are really, really word-of-mouth heavy. A lot of people can take great pictures, but not everyone is great to work with and be around for the very long and stressful hours that are inherent to the trade. Building up a reputation for being flexible, not a diva, useful to have around, good at fixing things in any condition – those are the types of skills that lead to new jobs. You can start to build up that reputation by doing some volunteer work, or lower-rate work, or taking spec pictures. You might be able to sell them to stock houses to make a tiny bit of money at the beginning – not full-time-job-level money but enough o offset some costs. Or ease into it by keeping your day job and starting with weekend work.

      Being good at managing your own media, keeping things organized and neat, and all that – whenever I hire someone new, it’s because someone gushed to me about them, and those are usually the things they bring up (in addition to their work).

      I would also recommend reading the Black and Blue blog – that’s for video camera ops but a lot of the skills cross over, I think.

    8. Kirsten*

      He could offer to 2nd shoot for local wedding photographers. They almost always have 2nd shooters who are typically new/less experienced.

  19. Elkay*

    Is it reasonable to ask that my boss doesn’t allocate work to me via my co-worker? We work in one office and my boss is in another office. I’m sure it’s just a case of my boss being on the phone to co-worker when something comes up but given that a) I was told there was no difference in hierarchy and b) I found out co-worker is a grade higher than me I’d like to get this straight.

    Also, I want to avoid becoming a proxy when another team member is on leave. How do I say this to my boss?

    1. Colette*

      Why don’t you want to get tasks through your coworker? Is information getting missed? Is there a delay that makes you rushed? That’s what you should bring up to the manager.

      What do you mean by not wanting to be a proxy? Do you mean you don’t want to cover for someone who’s out? If so, why? That’s a really normal thing to do, so you would have to have a really compelling reason to ask not to do it.

      1. Elkay*

        It’s more that it feels like boss and co-worker are discussing what I should be doing and co-worker is acting as my boss. The message this week was “Boss wants you to talk to Lucinda about switching from Chocolate to Caramel teapots” boss hadn’t mentioned Lucinda to me nor the switch but co-worker couldn’t give me any more info.

        Team member does a totally different job to me and I have no desire to do her job. This isn’t just “Make sure emails are routed” it’s “Check this, then make the spout, then return it to the teapot maker”, my job doesn’t involve spouts or teapot makers. If co-worker is here I literally have zero involvement in any of this.

        1. Colette*

          In he first case, I’d contact the boss and say “coworker mentioned you wanted me to talk to Lucinda about switching to caramel teapots. When do you want to make the switch? What’s driving the change?” -e.g. Get clarification about what is required.

          As far as covering for coworkers, it’s not about learning the entire job. It’s about keeping things moving while a coworker is out. If people didn’t cover for jobs they’ll never do full time, a lot of people would never get to go on vacation or get sick – and that’s not reasonable. Can you look at it as learning more of the business and interacting with people you wouldn’t otherwise get to know?

          1. Elkay*

            Problem is boss disappeared on vacation after that, I just kind of wished if it was that important he had told me directly so I could have asked questions.

            I’m having trouble getting my head round it because I have zero interaction with what this person does. I was asked to help out and said yes thinking that it would be a case of all move up one and I’d cover my co-worker who is in but interacts with the person who’s away while they covered the absentee. Today it was a case of “Oh you need to check this then go back to them if it’s wrong….” so I misunderstood.

            Over the last few years I’ve tried to draw boundaries in jobs so I don’t get stuck doing the things I hate and almost have a mental breakdown like I did about three years ago which resulted in me walking out of a job with nowhere to go because I couldn’t cope any more.

            1. Anonsie*

              Ok ok, I’m going to really solidly disagree with Colette and Toots on this one because I’ve been in your situation and I know what you’re talking about. It’s really hard to articulate why this is a bad idea because it seems reasonable on its face, but I always felt like I was being set up to look bad. You’d get a “boss said this” from Jane but Jane couldn’t tell you enough for you to actually do it, so then you’re delayed and having to ask dumb questions. When it happens all the time, the overall look is that Jane is in charge of things and you’re the one who can’t just get things done and is always confused for no reason. Double-extra bad if boss is asking Jane for updates on your work but you are separated enough that she can’t actually give a decent report.

              So here’s what I did to get a handle on this again: I just made sure to talk to our boss a lot so everything I needed from him came directly from him and everything he heard about me came directly from me. It’s not *easy* because it means dedicating quite a bit of time to it, but the difference it made was huge. I used to get generally favorable but overall kind of lukewarm performance reviews from him, and after I started doing this within two weeks he was telling the big boss I had “turned it around” and he was really impressed with my improved performance. Literally the only thing that had changed was that he was talking to me directly.

              1. Colette*

                The problem is that “I’m afraid it’ll make me look bad” is not something you can take to the manager. You need to figure out what the actual issues with it are to make an effective case for change.

                1. Anonsie*

                  I think you misunderstood me, because I’m not suggesting Elkay bring it up with the manager as a problem. Just start being in more contact with him so she (?) can be sure they are in touch often enough that there is no reason for him to continue to route things to/from her through her coworker.

                  My experience was not that I was afraid it would make me look bad but that it actually did. I felt embarrassed by it regularly but I didn’t realize the impact it made on my image until I increased contact and immediately got feedback from the manager that he felt I had made some amazing sweeping change for the better in my overall work quality. I had never imagined how much of a negative impact that arrangement had on my credibility, because it just doesn’t seem like it should.

        2. TootsNYC*

          I think you should notice that the coworker is at least saying. “Boss wants…” and not just “You should…” And coworker isn’t giving you more information, bcs she doesn’t have it.

          So coworker is NOT acting as your Boss; coworker is acting as Boss’s messenger. I don’t see that as unreasonable. Take all queries straight to the boss.

          As for having to sub for your other colleague–I would address the “lack of expertise” idea. But if I were your boss, I would provide whatever training I could, adjust my expectations for your newbie-ness, and then be ticked that you were trying to dictate what you work on. I purchased your time and attention; I get to spend them how I want.

          1. TootsNYC*

            AND…yes, I would expect you to be willing to learn other aspects of our business, certainly enough to keep things moving. (Some people are *pleased* for opportunities like this; they regard it as growth. Even if you never, ever do it again, you will have gained an understanding of your colleagues’ work. It might make you more effective for the organization in other ways.)

            1. Elkay*

              I’m not trying to dictate anything. It’s just strange to me to be asked to work on something that’s not related to the skills they hired me for. Think along the lines of designer being asked to run orders and shipping. Two totally different skill sets.

              1. Colette*

                Are we talking a week, a month, or a year? If it’s a substantial change for a significant period of time, you can object (realizing that they might not have the job you want available). If it’s for a couple of weeks, you’ll look bad for objecting. Covering someone’s job forms couple of weeks is not about your career path – it’s about pitching in to keep the business going.

                1. Elkay*

                  Honestly I don’t get the “Pitching in to keep the business going” mentality, I just don’t view my company that way. It’s huge. There are two other people who deal directly with what the person who’s off deals with. I literally have no overlap with the role.

                2. Colette*

                  I’ve covered for multiple people who I had no overlap with. It’s just part of the job.

                  Fifty years ago, it might have been possible to only do the tasks defined in your job description. Maybe there are still jobs today where that happens, but a lot of people are expected to do more when necessary (and saying no can have consequences).

                  If there are other people who can cover (and who it makes business sense to have cover), you can suggest that (or at least ask if it would be possible to do it). If covering would cause you to miss deadlines in your job, you can raise that. If you’d rather be out of a job (or have fewer possibilities for promotion) than cover, you can say no. But choices have consequences, and saying no because it’s not your area may not look good.

        3. Thinking out loud*

          Can you schedule regular (weekly?) tag-ups with your boss to talk status on what you’re working, ask your boss for any help you need, and get any new assignments your boss has for you? That might improve your communication with your boss and negate the need for your coworker to act as the intermediary.

          1. Elkay*

            I already have those, I think that’s what threw me, I’d spoken to boss about three hours beforehand. Normally I’d pick up the phone/IM and find out what’s going on but boss went off-grid for three days following the message. It’s like Anonsie said upthread, I feel like I’m being set up to fail.

    2. Anonymousterical*

      I had an employee say something like this to me, when I was a retail manager. It was less than appreciated, and I really couldn’t wrap my head around it. I managed the seven-person unloading team, none of whom had walkie-talkies; one day, they were scattered all over the huge big-box store doing different projects, and one of them literally wanted me to walk around and find each and every one of them to deliver the same information–instead of focusing on my tasks–because she just could not handle having one of her peers allocate work by saying, “Anonymousterical wants us to do X instead of Y, because Overnight Manager is going in a different direction tonight.” I asked: is John being mean about it? Rude? Bossy? Is the information not clear? Do you have questions? And, no, none of that. John was the one pulling pallets all around the store, and he was the one who would see everyone in the least amount of time, but that didn’t matter. She just couldn’t handle a peer “telling her what to do.” I mean. C’mon. Really?

      I’ve had two peers pull the same thing. One of them wouldn’t do ANYTHING, unless he heard it directly from the boss’ mouth; it doesn’t matter if the boss told me or the guy’s best work friend about what he wanted done that day, if the guy didn’t have a one-on-one conversation with the boss, then, NOPE, not happening. Because he just couldn’t handle “being told what to do” by someone else. The other peer was an admin at a law firm, who would argue with you for 10 minutes about “well, if Jane told you, then why didn’t she tell me?!?! Well, I need to hear it from Jane!!” and then come up with 50 random questions about the simple task, in a clear attempt to get out of doing it and prove to you that you shouldn’t even be talking to her about it, because you clearly you don’t know what you’re talking about (yeah, she said those words).

      I’m not saying you’re those people, at all. But do you want to be ANYWHERE close to their ballpark? If your co-worker is being a you-know-what about it, then that’s different. If you have questions about the change of plans, then e-mail or call your boss for clarification. If you feel you don’t have enough communication from your boss overall, then go that route. Otherwise, yeah, I think it’s unreasonable to tell your boss that you need to hear change in work directions directly from him/her. Sorry.

      1. Elkay*

        I do normally call/IM my boss but he went off-grid after delivering the message. In your example from the admin I can see where she’s coming from, when a job needs clarification it seems pointless to ask an intermediary to deliver the message because you run the risk of it ending up like a game of telephone so you have to talk to boss anyway.

        1. Anonymousterical*

          Well, that particular admin was a 20 year veteran of that office, having worked for the same partner for all of those years, being told through a proxy to do simple, straightforward tasks, like “call the Court reporter and tell her the deposition of Plaintiff B is cancelled and will not be rescheduled as of this time.” Cue 50 rapid-fire defensive questions about how/why to do the job she’d been doing for 20 years. Not fun.

          The point of my post is that I’ve seen a similar attitude multiple times (perhaps to their extremes), both as the proxy-peer and as the manager being second guessed about message delivery decisions, and it never ends well. It destroys morale and turns healthy team dynamics into dysfunction and resentment. I wish you the best with your situation.

  20. Adam*

    When you’re coordinating a group project, what methods do you use to delegate tasks and get people to stay on task?

    Expansion: I’m coordinating my organization’s annual charity drive which goes on for two weeks so we start preparing several months in advance. While I’ve been at this organization nearly five years I’m pretty much bottom of the totem pole structure-wise. Everyone in the group is senior to me (including one executive level director), but since I’m the coordinator for this project everyone looks to me to set the tone and manage everything. So far I’ve tried being very open to discussions and encouraging sharing ideas and have asked for critiques of things and ideas I’ve presented, but so far the team has been somewhat non-responsive. Not completely, but a little bit.

    Granted this an outside-of-work work task so it’s not front and center on their plate like it is for me, but I worry we’re going to get closer to the date and I’ll end up doing a ton of things myself since I have a tendency to do that. Being on this project was completely voluntary for everyone, FYI.

    Any advice on getting people to engage when you’re the small fish without being too aggressive about it?

    1. Adam*

      Further clarification: People haven’t been completely ignoring me when I ask for feedback or ideas, but it seems like a lot of the time people don’t have much input. And I am definitely not above needing critique! Haha.

    2. Colette*

      1. Ask for suggestions. (It sounds like you’ve done this.)
      2. If you get no suggestions, come up with a plan. (Here is how we are going to do this, tasks A, B, and C need to be done by Friday, next week we will work on D through J). If you get suggestions, still come up with a plan but incorporate reasonable suggestions.
      3. Ask for feedback and make changes.
      4. Send on the lists of tasks and ask people to commit to what they can do.
      5. Check in with people to make sure the tasks are happening and they’re not hitting unexpected snags.

      1. Sunflower*

        Yes exactly. You will find out v. quickly if people have ideas. If you’re having trouble getting people to commit to things, feel free to be upfront and say ‘these are tasks we still need done. If they are not picked up, we will allocate them among everyone’.


    3. Anna*

      I do a lot of project management/event planning in my job and volunteer work. When I ask for and don’t receive ideas or feedback, I’ll throw out some thoughts and get the ball rolling. Sometimes people genuinely don’t know where to start but once you give them something to latch on to, they can formulate some thoughts. Just keep in mind that sometimes those thoughts are “that looks good” or “that works for me.” :)

      After that, I hand out the jobs. It helps if you start with what you’re going to do. “I’ll do A, B, and D, since they’re related. Joyce, can you take on finding out about C and F? Just send me an email with prices.” Etc, etc.

      1. Adam*

        Yeah, I’ve been getting that impression. Most of the ideas we’ve been working with have been my own ideas. I just don’t want to seem like I’m dominating the group.

    4. You're It.*

      As for being “pretty much bottom of the totem pole structure-wise”…
      you don’t have the authority to delegate additional voluntary (unpaid, unrelated-to-actual-work-that-pay raises-are-linked-to-type-of-work) work to anyone.

      You have been stuck with this unwanted task because you are “pretty much bottom of the totem pole structure-wise”

      You do not mention anyone else.
      Did anyone else even volunteer for this ?

      Are you trying to get underpaid co-workers to cough up cash out of their wallets “for the cause” ?
      Or are you in charge of seeking out donations from outside of the organization?

      I’m guessing that you work for a non-profit. It seems that this blog is heavy with people working in non-profits. If you truly want advice, elaborate.

      Make it fun somehow.
      Make people WANT to get involved…somehow.
      Offer something that people like in return for participating…informal networking opportunities, pizza or cake at meetings…something.

      Good Luck

      1. Adam*

        It’s not really as grim as all that. Specifically, the charity drive is a food/hunger elimination drive that my entire city participates in and that many organizations across different fields “compete” in to see who can raise the most. I do work for a non-profit (well, it’s closer to being a state agency really) but it has nothing to do with the charity subject matter, but we have participated in this annual event for several years now.

        All participation and planning for this event, including my own, was voluntary. I volunteered to be coordinator of my own accord (after it became clear that no one else in my organization was chomping at the bit to do it).

        So I am seen as being in charge of the project, but since my actual ranking in the organization is low I’m not sure how to effectively go about assigning things to people.

        1. misspiggy*

          I think if you follow Anne’s advice you’ll be fine. As this is voluntary work for all of you, no one will mind you stepping out of your usual authority, and they should actually feel grateful that someone is coordinating. Identifying clear tasks for different people, checking and confirming that everyone is OK with their tasks, reviewing and chasing progress, and thanking people for their involvement, should be seen as positive.

          1. TootsNYC*

            Also, make the tasks in small, short chunks.

            Also: If you’re the main mover on this, a lot of people will be completely OK with you making decisions and just telling them what to do. Identify a few key people to discuss “policy” things with, so you have some “spare brains” and other people’s’ outlooks, and then just move ahead.

            Don’t make the other “volunteers” think.

  21. cuppa*

    So I am going to apply to two jobs at the same place. I talked to someone who works there, and they suggested it. How do I submit the resumes? Do I submit a different resume to each one (Tailored to the positions), or submit one and try to tailor it to both positions at the same time? I’m just concerned it would look weird to submit two different resumes at the same time.

    1. Alston*

      I applied to two jobs at one place.

      Are you applying via website or emailing your resume? If it’s the website same resume, different coverletter.

      The place I applied I was referred by a friend and just had to email my resume and cover letter to their recruiter. Because I was interested in two jobs I wrote two separate paragraphs in my cover letter, one explaining why I was interested/would be good for one job, and the other paragraph for the other job.

      1. cuppa*

        I’d be emailing the resumes. If I understood my contact correctly, I’d be sending two separate e-mails for the two separate positions. I’m leaning towards tailoring my resume to both and sending the same one twice? I like your idea of sending the cover letter with the two paragraphs!

      1. cuppa*

        You submit your resumes to a generic resume e-mail, so they would go to the same place.

    2. Apollo Warbucks*

      I would say tailor the resumes to the different jobs to highlight the experience and skills you’ve got listing the most relevant achievements to the indivudal role.

      1. TootsNYC*

        I agree–because they may be separated into different piles for each Hiring Manager.

        I might suggest you send one resume on one day, and the 2nd on the next day, so the sorting process is likely to be more accurate.

  22. Ms. I Need a New Job*

    What search engines/methods do you use to search for jobs? (I posted this last week but didn’t get many responses). Thanks!

    1. Elkay*

      I target companies I want to work for and sign up for their careers section or just check their site weekly.

    2. HigherEd Admin*

      I use Indeed a LOT. I don’t love it, but it seems to have the most postings for the kinds of jobs I’m looking for.

    3. Jessica*

      I use a combination of Indeed, LinkedIn, and going to the job boards of companies/organizations that I like. If you have a professional listserv that you can subscribe to, a few jobs come across that way. I set up an email alert from HigherEdJobs.

    4. Mimmy*

      Many industries have niche websites for job searching. For example: Idealist for non-profit jobs and HigherEdJobs for jobs in colleges & universities. (I don’t know what field you’re in–those were just the two I knew off the top of my head).

    5. Gwen*

      Location & industry specific websites, for the most part. (I’ve had a lot of luck with Big Shoes Network, in case there are any other marketing/PR/design people in the Midwest!)

    6. Sunflower*

      I use a few but Indeed is the best I think. LinkedIn too as many jobs are only posted there and will not come up on Indeed. Indeed will pull jobs from a lot of other job search sites.

    7. YandO*

      Mostly LinkedIn. I am signed up for glassdoor weekly alerts and if I see something interesting, I go to LinkedIn to check them out and then to the company’s website. Also, I use LinkedIn to search through similar jobs, similar companies, jobs recommended for you.

      This has worked very well for me. I don’t visit any other job search engines.

    8. Evey Hammond*

      CareerBeacon mostly! It’s a good way to find temp jobs since it’s linked up with a couple of different agencies.

    9. KW*

      I used:
      1) Idealist for non-profits.
      2) Bookmarking individual companies’ job pages and setting up RSS feeds to get updates from them. I had a LOT of companies/organizations bookmarked (think 50+) so the RSS feed was so helpful – you just check one place and it shows updates from all* of them, instead of having to go to all 50 websites each week to check. (*Not all job sites work for RSS but at least probably 70% did.) I used Feedly for an RSS reader and Page2RSS plugin to create the feeds.
      3) Industry-specific job sites – for international development, that was mostly Devex, Devnet, and ReliefWeb.

  23. betty lou spence*

    Recently my workplace has been holding “town hall” style meetings with 50+ people to discuss what we can be doing better. I believe the company is sincere, but I’ve noticed that conversations are dominated by the same people. Other people are quiet and never have a chance to speak because the same group keeps interjecting. Is there anything I can say to the higher-ups about this? Any suggestions on how they can encourage others to provide feedback? I know some others want to (I’m one of them!) but it’s just not possible as the core group keeps raising their hands to talk before others even have a chance. Is it appropriate for the moderator to say, “we’ve already heard from you. Let’s see if someone else has something to say first.”?

    1. OriginalYup*

      Definitely need a moderator. They could also:
      -limit questions to one per person
      -switch up the format so it’s townhall-style for the big announcements followed by smaller groups for discussion (one exec per group to catch the feedback)
      -offer slips of paper for written questions/comments that are passed to one “reader” to read aloud
      – make it a looping session where people can submit questions after the fact that are addressed at the beginning of the next meeting (both for anonymity and also to provide space for the people who need time to process their thinking before asking the question).

    2. Natalie*

      It would definitely be appropriate for a moderator to shut these folks down, but honestly IME a lot of people are TERRIBLE at moderating meetings. Politely telling people to sit down and shut up is an art form, for sure.

      I don’t see anything wrong with mentioning to whomever is organizing this or your boss or someone else who might be able to change something that you’ve noticed this, and perhaps they should have smaller meetings or surveys or something to get feedback from the quieter people.

    3. Dynamic Beige*

      If these are moderated discussions, then yes, the moderator should be choosing from everyone, not just the ones who throw their hands up first and make a show of wanting to speak. Instead of outright dismissing someone, though, they could say “let’s hear from someone in X department (or whatever), how about you?” (pointing to someone who is obviously not as enthusiastically raising their hand). BTW, congratulations that so many are participating, that is frequently a problem with these kind of events, people are afraid of speaking up and it’s not uncommon to “seed” some questions into the audience if no one is heading to the mics.

      Having said that, do they have mics set up? If people had to line up to speak, then maybe some of the other people might do that (or not). It would be easier to get people in a line and wait their turn, in some ways, rather than picking hands out of the audience. But with an audience of only 50, that might be overkill.

      There are other ways to handle this, though. There could be a Questions box that is put up somewhere like the lunch room that people drop a question into, they are reviewed and answered at the townhall, or a virtual one on the website/an e-mail that people can send their concerns to. Some companies put cards on the table for people to write their questions on, which are picked up at various points throughout the meeting and answered. I’ve seen it where everyone is given a stack of Post-its, they can write their question on it and stick it on a white board somewhere in the room (or immediately outside, depending) and they are reviewed/answered live.

      They might want to consider sending a survey around and collecting the information/questions that way and bringing up the results at the meeting and getting detailed feedback live at the meeting, or using live polling software to ask questions and get audience feedback in real time, but the questions would have to be drawn up ahead of time.

    4. Artemesia*

      This is not an effective format because lots of people will not speak up in such meetings — even apartment from the boors who always dominate. If you really want feedback then structuring things differently might help. Having written comments, suggestions or questions so people can anonymously participate might work. Having small groups within the 50 discuss whatever the issue is and then come up with 3 questions or 2 suggestions or 2 topics that need further discussion or whatever your focus is, can be helpful. Having one of those post it walls where everyone identifies the issues most needing to be addressed (or whatever your focus is) and then organizing those so you can see which ones are most widely held.

      In other words, don’t put 50 people in a room and expect the timid to say anything, especially anything that might be deemed critical. And of course you need skilled moderation in any case.

    5. TootsNYC*

      Tell the moderator what you’ve just told us: I’d like to comment, but the same people keep taking up the air space. Plus, it makes me feel pushed out by them.

      And you know what? Be the change you want to see.

      Get your hand up in the air. Think of it as “taking one for the team” (or, not “taking” but “doing,” maybe). (I always go first in the buffet line if there’s ever a hesitation. I figure it’s a way to serve my fellow diners, by breaking the ice.)

  24. Alston*

    If you got to pick your ideal work schedule (working around school) what would you pick?

    I’m going back to school in the fall, and I’m keeping my full time job. My job has a flexible schedule, and pretty much as long as I get my work done (I need about 35 hours) it doesn’t matter.

    School is from 8:30-4:15 daily. I’m thinking of going into the office after school for 5 hours on M, W, F, and then doing the rest of my hours from home on the weekeneds.

    What would you pick?

    1. OriginalEmma*

      Wow, I commend you for your dedication to both full-time work and full-time schooling! Is this graduate school? With a schedule this demanding, please remember to take care of yourself. Self-care should be paramount for the next few year(s) as you pursue this demanding schedule.

      My ideal schedule would probably have work in the morning and school in the afternoon. It’d make it easier to continue on studying in the evening, vs. having to switch gears with a school-morning/work-afternoon schedule.

      I’d probably want to work about 20 hours/week, since that’s what I did while doing full-time undergraduate studies.

    2. Monodon monoceros*

      I’m confused- do you have classes on T/Th? During college I worked M/W/F/Sa/Su (usually 7:30 – 5pm, plus 1 hr commute each way) and had classes all day T/Th, with homework/studying in the evenings. It sucked big time. Give yourself at least one day off per week.

      I wouldn’t be able to be real effective at work for 5 hrs after being at school 8:30-4:15. But I have thought for a while that I need more “down-time” than the average person. But I would think seriously about how focused you could be after a day of classes.

    3. Anonymous Poster*

      That’s a very long day. I think the answer will vary based on the level of schooling you’re undertaking. Could you tell us whether it’s a grad degree or not, and what’s it in? I’ve done a MS in Engineering and working through an MBA right now so I might be able to provide some insight.

      1. Alston*

        It’s actually a furniture building and carpentry building program. So there may be a small amount of research outside of class hours, but nothing like the studying I’d have to do in a grad program. More like browsing the internet for furniture styles I like and sketching, or a bit of theory reading.

        @Monodon The class is 5 days a week, so on Tuesday and Thursday I’d just go home after class and have the evening off to chill. Do laundry, see boyfriend, etc.

        My current work schedule is 10am-10pm and 8 hours on Sundays–two part time jobs along with full time job to pay for this class.

        1. Alston*

          Also, forgot to mention, this is a 3 month program. So I just have to be able to hold it together that long. I am considering their longer program, if that happens though I’ll have to reevaluate the job, because I know I couldn’t keep this up for 2 years.

          1. Monodon monoceros*

            Ah, OK. 3 months of this schedule I could do. It might be a sucky 3 months, but it’s doable. My stint of classes and work every day lasted 2 years and by the end of that I quit and went to live in a tent for 3 months (seriously).

    4. alice*

      That’s basically my situation as well, except I work from home during the week after school and come in to the office on the weekends. I’d say you have a good schedule there. Just make sure you don’t get burned out.

    5. Anonsie*

      I’ve done this, but my classes were all on off hours so I was working regular time. Essentially I ended up with the same schedule you did– 8am to 9pm days 2-4 days a week (variable by year) with the fifth being a regular work day and one weekend half day.

      If you can, I would encourage you to do as much work from home time as possible. This wasn’t possible for me, but the biggest thing about this schedule is that you’re never home and you can never get anything done. At least if you’re WFH you can 1) cut out the commute time and 2) throw some laundry in or vacuum during your break time so you don’t feel like you live in a hovel. I didn’t like my hovel.

      Remember you will ALSO have homework and readings, and as much as you want to pre-do it when you have time on the weekend it will often not be possible because you’re trying to make up time getting household stuff and errands done. Also, one thing that always burned my grits was that the professors knew most people didn’t do their work until short notice so often they didn’t send things out until a day or two before a deadline or exam, so working it out in advance was not possible a lot of the time.

      1. Alston*

        Burned my grits :D

        I actually could do my entire job from my house, the only reason for me to go into work is to show my face/make sure I’m included in decisions.

        I’m only going to be overlapping with people for a couple hours, so in theory I could go home and finish up there. I’m afraid though that if I do it’ll break my concentration and I’ll just end up sitting on my couch and vegging.

        1. Anonsie*

          My grits are delicate and easily burned :P

          You can try it in person and find out. I find it easy to get things done for work while I’m at home but not everyone does.

    6. Sofie*

      I currently work full time during the day and take graduate classes at night, full time. It’s not nearly as demanding as the schedule you describe, but it still is pretty rough. It leaves you with very, very little time to do other things (like planning a wedding, which I recently did… do not recommend). It might be tough to swing this schedule unless you expect your course load to be really light.

      Best of luck to you! I know what a challenge it is to juggle school and work.

      1. hermit crab*

        Oh, we’re life-choices twins! I just finished my last grad school class this week and I’m getting married in a couple months. I would not do it again (even though my mom is basically planning the entire wedding, haha). Good luck with everything!

    7. hermit crab*

      I’m just finishing a grad program where I went to school full time and worked nearly full time (averaging about 30 hours/week). All our classes were in the afternoons or evenings and even after two years I never got the hang of going back to work after class — I’d have all these plans for doing work-work or schoolwork or even just laundry afterwards, but on most nights I’d just be like NOPE and go to bed. If you’re a productive-in-the-evenings/night-owl type, your proposed schedule might work great for you, especially since you’ll only need to keep it up for a few months. Faced with your class schedule, though, I think I’d rather spread out my work hours after class all week, or use after-class time primarily for life stuff and then work a lot on the weekends.

    8. Jem*

      I had a job once where I worked Monday through Friday 6p to midnight. It was the best schedule ever. I could get done anything I needed to do at home during the day and I didn’t get off too late to still enjoy a couple hours of relaxation before hitting the hay. I was so well-rested too!

  25. HigherEd Admin*

    I just wanted to say thank you to everyone who weighed in with their thoughts last week about a pending job offer. They came back to me with a little bit more money (thanks, AAM, for the negotiating tips!) but not enough for me to make the leap. I have two other interviews lined up, though, so hopefully something else pans out.

    So, a huge thank you to the AAM community for helping me think through my options!

  26. Applying for internal positions*

    How do you respond to coworkers when they ask if you are applying for an internal position (promotion)? I really don’t want to discuss whether I am applying or not, and I also don’t want to lie. I have a particular co-worker, whom I normally consider a friend, but she turns every conversation I have with her into the third degree about whether I’m applying for a certain position. I want to still be friends with her, but I feel like anything I say will either confirm that I’m applying or be a lie.

    1. Thinking out loud*

      “It looks interesting, but I’m still trying to decide whether to apply or not”?

    2. HigherEd Admin*

      Can you tell her you’re thinking about it but that you don’t really want to talk about it? That way you’re sort of noncommittal, but you don’t blow her off entirely.

      1. Applying for internal positions*

        Well… except now we’re at the point where the application deadline has passed and the question is a direct “Did you apply?” (I know that wasn’t expressed well in the original question.)

        1. Nikki T*

          Darn… I was so evasive when I got asked this question no one ever came back to me to ask about it later.

          Can you smile mysteriously (or wickedly) and say, “time will tell”….I mean if she keeps asking I’d ask what’s it to her?

        2. CB*

          “Why do you ask?”

          Let them lead the conversation and see what they’re trying to get out of you?

        3. Development professional*

          I don’t mean to sound flippant, but “did you apply?” is a yes/no question, so I’m not sure how it’s the third degree. I would answer “yes” and then respond to any follow up questions with “I’d rather not discuss it.”

  27. HRJillOfAllTrades*

    Just need a reality check here. Every year, I update the handbook that was created by an employment attorney and email a copy to all staff in the first week of January. The handbook has a list of holidays. Yet, without fail, every year, two or three people (out of a staff of 28) email or approach me to ask if this day or that is off. I just got this about July 3rd a few days ago. I emailed that person back and said, “It’s in the handbook I emailed in January.”

    Am I overreacting to be so annoyed that people won’t look up a list that’s all of half a page long to find out if we have Columbus Day off or whatever? This has been bugging me a lot. How would you handle this sort of thing?

    1. Alston*

      I would be annoyed, I would probably also be one of the people asking you. Anyway to put it up on an internal website or even a physical bulliten board?

      1. HRJillOfAllTrades*

        We don’t really have an intraweb to use for that kind of thing. And if people can’t refer back to their electronic copy of the handbook with its searchable text, they’re not likely to go to our website to look for it there either.

        Can you explain why you’d be asking me instead of referring back to your copy for something like this? Maybe that would help my frustration.

        1. afiendishthingy*

          Also, I’d be much likely to look for a calendar on the website than find the email with the handbook and ctrl-f to find the holidays. Having it on a website is more intuitive to me. Maybe a shared google or outlook calendar?

        2. AnotherFed*

          Because the employee handbook is a silly place to list out the holidays – handbooks are for opening if you have problems, and most people barely read them as new hires, let alone keep track of frequent updates. Even if you don’t have an intraweb, a list of days off is an easy thing to put on a bulletin board.

          Emailing back to say go look at the handbook seems a little passive aggressive. Even “yes, and you can find the rest of the holidays in the handbook” would be a lot more reasonable – you didn’t have to look up the answer so it takes you no more time.

        3. abby*

          I oversee HR and other business processes for my organization. In a previous life, I was on the programmatic side and I actually think it helps me manage my responsibilities and team.

          Anyway, back then I would have always checked the employee handbook for holidays. But there are other things I would not have thought to check. I was busy doing my job, not remembering all the HR and business process stuff. So I would need you to remind me of some things because it’s just not something I dealt with regularly enough. I wanted to make sure I got it right.

          At my current organization, we just list the holidays in the handbook with no specific dates. Then, each year, we update a list of holidays with dates and email it to everyone. Most print and put it in their cubes. We also add the holidays to a shared organization vacation calendar. Works for us, everyone knows. We field a lot of questions about other things. I remind my team to be patient because not everyone deals with this day-to-day like we do.

    2. Dasha*

      This is annoying but I feel like there are always those people…. Could you send out the holiday list in the body of the email when you send out the handbook next year? I remember at a larger company I worked at they sent out an email with holidays to the entire office at the beginning of the year.

      1. BRR*

        Ooh we got one of those for the first time this year and it was super nice.

        I vote it’s fine to refer them to the handbook if it’s super thorough. We have a great intranet that nobody looks at so in my office I feel fine telling people it’s on the intranet. I’m trying to condition them.

    3. LCL*

      Post the list of holidays on the company web page, where the employees can find it. Email them the link. Post a hard copy in the office.

      1. Sara*

        We have a whiteboard on the wall in reception, near everyone’s mailboxes, where the boss posts schedule changes (including upcoming holidays where we’re closed) and other items of note.

    4. OriginalEmma*

      Does your organization have Outlook or some other calendaring system? Why not put the holidays in there for all the office to see.

    5. Natalie*

      I get similar repeat questions, and sure it’s mildly annoying. For whatever reason, some people prefer to interact with another person when they need information, rather than look it up somewhere. They’re probably not going to change that style, so I don’t personally find it worth dwelling on.

      It’s apparently something that happens a couple of times a year. Answer their question, maybe include a link to the holiday list as well for future queries. And then take a deep breath and let it go.

      1. HigherEd Admin*

        Agreed. I am someone who always looks things up first before asking for help, and I get annoyed by people who don’t take this same approach. And then I remember that everyone has different styles, and you just have to learn to work well with everyone!

        1. Natalie*

          Oh yeah, I definitely should have mentioned I’m a straight up misanthrope. I will read an entire manual before I ask someone a five word question. :)

      2. Kelly L.*

        This is a really good insight. Like HigherEd Admin, I’m the opposite–I’ll find out everything I can before I engage other people, and I don’t think it ever quite occurred to me that people might just like asking, even if it’s not hard to look up.

    6. Judy*

      A former company did a one page printout calendar with all of the holidays, available on the internal website.

    7. Sunflower*

      Nope not overreacting. If you spray-painted it in huge letters across the entrance to your office, there would STILL be people asking you about it. Why? I really don’t know!!!

      I would just email them an attachment with the handbook and say ‘Please see handbook that was sent to you in January’

    8. fposte*

      I’m with othersyes, this is annoying, and no, it’s not going to change. There are people who go to text and people who go to people, and you want the latter as well as the former in your organization. Putting the holidays on a website is a good plan, since people almost certainly have no idea where they’ve stored the manual by the time June rolls around, but it’s not going to stop this entirely.

      This is the HR version of “the cats will never learn to herd themselves.”

    9. straws*

      We have our holidays on a shared calendar, plus listed on the front page of the leave request system. We still have some people submitting for PTO on a paid holiday and others asking if we have off. I’m pretty sure I could replace their computer monitors with the list and I’d still get questions.

    10. The Cosmic Avenger*

      No, not overreacting, I would find it equally annoying. However, from working with web sites, I know that it doesn’t matter how well you present the information or how much you present if no one visits those pages. You have to make it easy to navigate, you have to optimize SEO and third-party links so that people can find your information.

      Is there somewhere on an Intranet where this information could live, as others have suggested? An Outlook or Sharepoint calendar that everyone can see?

    11. JB*

      Yes, be annoyed. However, it’s never going to change.

      I’ve had this exact problem. I don’t know if you’ve tried this or not, but I put the holiday calendar as the second page in the handbook. That cut down on many of the questions because there was no having to open it and page down to find it. I also created the handbook as a bookmarked PDF so that people could find the sections more easily.

      Once we had an internal website, I posted the handbook there and put a link in my email signature so they would stop asking for the link. Granted, I only send internal emails, so no issues with this going to a client.

      Now I’m not responsible for the handbook, but I still do the “post online/link in signature” for another procedure doc.

      1. afiendishthingy*

        I would even send out a “holiday calendar” doc in its own email, with its own subject line HOLIDAY CALENDAR 2015, the same time you’re sending the handbook, even it’s also included as part of the handbook. Yes, people are still going to ask, but you may be able to cut down on a few requests this way if they can just search their email for “holiday calendar” and not have to remember that they should really be searching for “handbook”.

    12. JenGray*

      It is really annoying but try not to let it bother you because there will always be people who no matter how many times you post it will always come to you and say “Hey, do we have July 3rd off as a paid holiday?”. I think that you should have to manage your own schedule yourself but at my old job it wasn’t like that. We were constantly reminding people about things to the point where I would think these are adults and we are babying them. I would figure out a way to separate the holidays from the handbook and maybe make the holidays in the handbook generic ( I.e. we get the following holidays paid- news years, christmas, labor day, etc. without dates) and then send out a separate list of the dates of the holiday. You could put the actual dates in the body of the email when you send the handbook. If you have this list as a separate document you could easily just send it to those that ask. If you have to respond to the email anyway just give them what they want instead of referring them to the handbook email in January which can come off as passive aggressive.

    13. Apollo Warbucks*

      Not over reacting at all, it shits me when people ask questions that they can find the answer to themselves.

      Do you have a comapny wide calendar, that you could add the days too, that might stop people asking you.

    14. Anonsie*

      This would drive me nuts if I were you, but also I really dislike when you ask someone a question and they tell you to look it up. Because 1) if I run into someone who knows the answer to something, it makes sense to just ask rather than spend way more time digging in the handbook and 2) sometimes people are asking to double-check that something they looked up.

      I think there’s a simple way around it which is to just have a list of holidays (without dates, like just the name like Memorial Day) and, since you don’t have a company intranet, send that out by itself. Or post it somewhere if that makes sense where you work. Then don’t bother updating the dates. I would guarantee part of why people keep being weird is because in their mind it’s changing somehow every year. Then the other part is just not remembering since different companies do different holidays.

      1. HRJillOfAllTrades*

        Huh. It never even occurred to me that the changing dates/days of the week would throw people off so badly. Some holidays are always a Monday but some float around like Christmas and New Year Day so it seemed better to just put the dates* down for that reason. The holidays themselves don’t change though. We don’t celebrate President’s Day some years and take it off the list other years, for example.

        1. afiendishthingy*

          Also, Independence Day being a Saturday this year throws things off – I didn’t email anyone but I did ask a room of people if we had the third or the sixth off. Yes, I knew it was somewhere on the shared drive, no, I don’t remember where. One of my coworkers answered right off. Problem solved.

          However in January a higher up emailed the entire department of about forty people asking if anyone had a list of the holidays. Which were already on the shared drive. She’s already notorious for unnecessarily emailing the entire department, but yeah, THAT was annoying.

    15. Persephone Mulberry*

      Nth-ing that this is annoying but never going to change. You are the path of least resistance – it takes 5 seconds to type “do we have july 3 off?” vs however long to search back through your email for “holidays,” fail, (maybe) remember that they’re in the handbook, search for “handbook,” open handbook document, search handbook for holidays…

    16. Cristina in England*

      I have been on both sides of this. From your side, obviously it is annoying because you put a lot of effort into that handbook and making sure the information is out there. From the other side, though, an employee handbook that was sent out in January is an extremely low priority email for my brain to remember, because I receive it once and I receive it so far away from when I need the information within it.

      Think of it like airport security: the TSA agents act like you are the dumbest person alive because you did take out your laptop / didn’t take out your laptop / did take off your shoes / didn’t take off your shoes. They do this routine every day, they know it inside and out. You on the other hand, fly once every five years, or usually fly from a different airport. There is no reason for you to already know what to do when you’re in the moment, but they haven’t maintained that perspective.

    17. Me Too!*

      I would get this all the time, and still occasionally do. What I do is put the holiday list on the freezer door of the fridge in the company kitchen every January. Even if someone doesn’t remember the date, they generally know they can look when they get their Lean Cuisine out for lunch.

      This wouldn’t work at a large company, but we’re small to mid-sized like it sounds like you are.

    18. Random CPA*

      At my company, HR hands out a 1 page calendar each year that has shapes around specific days. For example squares around holidays, circles around pay days, triangles around fiscal month-end days. I’ve seen that a lot of employees pin it up somewhere by their desks to reference things like holidays. I don’t think most people are going to take the time to even open the handbook you send. So they may not even know the information is there.

    19. TootsNYC*

      I’d put the list on the bulletin board.

      Or I’d send a separate email each year, when updating the handbook, that has a really clear subject line (“Days Off: Company Holidays for 2016”) and include a suggestion that they print it out or file it so it doesn’t get auto-deleted.

      Or I’d make a Google Docs folder that holds stuff like that (a poor man’s intranet).

      Or I’d plug it into any calendar function that’s company- or department-wide.

      If you want to reply in a way that doesn’t sound so snippy but still puts it all on them, I’d suggest: “I hate to say off the top of my head–could get it wrong. It’s in your handbook, though.”

    20. Kristen*

      Maybe when you email the handbook out in January you can make a comment in the email to “please take note on page X of the days the office will be closed for holidays”

  28. Camellia*

    We moved into our house a couple of weeks ago and while unpacking I came across a small folder that I hadn’t seen in decades – literally, it had a document in it dated 1992. It also had a collection of sayings that I had printed and posted in my work cubicle at that time. Here are a few of them.

    “I speak fluent patriarchy but it’s not my mother tongue.”

    “Feminism is the radical idea that women are people.”

    “Well-behaved women rarely make history.”

    “I think, therefore I’m dangerous.”

    “If you feel attacked by feminism, it’s probably a counter-attack.”

    My daughter is thirty and my granddaughter is three. Why are we still having to fight the battles of equal pay, promotion, etc.? Why are women still called ‘aggressive’ while men are called ‘assertive’? Will we still be fighting these when my granddaughter is thirty?

    1. LoPay*

      FWIW – I’m 54, a friend of the guy I am dating first question about me was “Is she hot?” Holy crap, not am I smart, kind, or funny. These are professional college educated men who identify as being politically liberal.

      1. YandO*

        I mean….I can see myself asking my female friend “is he hung well?”

        that’s not reflection of my political beliefs, just my personality and our relationship

      2. Jennifer*

        Any time someone asks me that question I say “No.” Whether they actually are or not, screw ’em.

    2. Artemesia*

      Love the feminism is people quote. I have been saying that for years as I made my career in the south where it was fairly common for rude and boorish men to make cracks about feminazis and feminists or use it as a put down. I just blandly said ‘of course I am a feminist; a feminist is someone who believes that women are human beings.’

    3. NacSacJack*

      Exactly!! Why is it we are still dealing with gender inequity. I grew up with two older sisters and we were all told we must go to college. I work with women all the time and it seems like 50% of my dept is women and yet surprised when I see the stat that women only comprise 35% of the dept. Why? I’m so over this discussion because my mother and father both worked, my sisters and their husbands work, my dept VP is a mother with a stay at home father/husband. What is the problem???? It should be expected that women make as much as men, that we equally get promoted up the ranks and it shouldn’t matter if your project lead is a man or woman!!!

  29. NicoleK*

    I need to have a conversation with the new coworker about communication. We’re not on the same page, not on the same book most of the time. I say x and she hears y or assumes y. I don’t know if the miscommunication is due to difference in communication style, she just doesn’t listen well, I’m not as clear as I could be, or that she’s new and isn’t picking up on the nuances of the organization and programs. She’s only been here about a month so I’m not sure how she will respond. Additionally, I struggle to work with her as I find myself in BEC state with her. I’m open to any and all suggestions.

    1. Graciosa*

      First, I would determine whether this is really a communication problem or a competence one.

      If I say, “Turn the Important Report in by 5:00 today,” and someone decides that means tomorrow, or next Tuesday, or before they go home (whenever that happens to be) the problem is competence. Labeling it a “communication problem” makes it sound as though no one is at fault when the report isn’t there at 5:00.

      On your side, you need to make sure you are being very clear – and documenting in email, because this stuff only gets worse – and addressing every issue as soon as it happens. Yes, this is a lot of work. You have to do the equivalent of walking over at 5:01 and asking why the report didn’t show up. You need to address the excuses and claims of miscommunication as they happen (as much as you can do as a co-worker rather than a manager).

      On the other hand, if you’re saying, “I really need Important Report as soon as you can get it to me,” and then stewing because it doesn’t arrive at 5:00, that’s closer to being an actual communication problem but it lies with you. You need to be very specific and crystal clear in your communications.

      If you are and she still isn’t getting it, you’ll be in a much better position to take this to your manager and ask for help. That discussion should include examples and a review of what you’ve tried to address the problem and what the results were. At that point, your manager should help you come up with ideas to resolve the issue or address it herself.

      Good luck. If you’re having this many problems after only a month, it sounds like you’ll need it.

    2. cuppa*

      It sounds to me like maybe the best thing to do is get immediate reflection from her about what you are saying so you have the opportunity to clarify in the moment. Also, maybe you could get some thoughts from her on why she is hearing or assuming what she is?

    3. Nanc*

      I get that you’re frustrated, her not picking up on important aspects of the job impacts your being able to do yours but if you’re going to sit down and tell her she needs to communicate better, you need to offer suggestions and help.

      If she’s a visual rather than auditory learner it would help to put it in writing. Do you have written SOPs? Can you use email or IM for requests and responses? What was her training like? If she got a massive info dump at the beginning she may still be struggling to figure out what’s important and what’s just good to know. Maybe she needs more structure–some people can hold everything in their brains and some of us like a step-by-step, tick it off as you go approach. It might help to review her tasks and help her figure out how to schedule ongoing items vs items that only happen monthly, quarterly, yearly, etc. It puts a lot of work on you but if she came from an environment where everything was laid out and scheduled by someone else, she may have zero experience in knowing how to prioritize.

      Take a nice deep breath, step away from the cracker box and have a cookie instead.

    4. Artemesia*

      “Ferocia, I find that we seem to be miscommunicating a lot and perhaps I am not being clear. Could we get in the habit of double checking; if I (ask you to do something, share a policy, whatever) lets get in the habit of your repeating it back to me so we are sure we are on the same page. I’ll do the same.” Then solicit that each time you direct or tell her something.

    5. HRJillOfAllTrades*

      Can you email her a one-line sentence (or 2-3 lines if that much is needed) that encapsulates whatever you asked her to do? I agree with Nanc downthread that some people are visual. If someone asks me to do something, it’s in one ear and out the other, especially if I can’t go write it down immediately after the request is made. But if it’s emailed to me, I’ll read it and keep it in mind much better.

      1. Diddly*

        Prefer this to getting her to repeat back – that seems a little humiliating.
        And you can quite easily say ok, I’ll just clarify what we’ve spoken about on a quick email to make sure we’re on the same page.

    6. JenGray*

      I would try emailing information to her if you can. This will help determine if it is a communication problem. I had a coworker at my last job who I had a tough time working with at first- we had some growing pains! It was hard because she never wanted to accept help from anyone- I tried to help her with the nuances when she got a promotion to the job where we would be working closely together but she completely disregarded me. It was at the point where I was told that I was mean to her. I wasn’t but she just wasn’t great at communication and don’t try to bring up any conflict with her. I think that an email will be a record of what exactly you said and when. Then if there are still issues at least you know communication isn’t one of them. This might not work and come off as weird but at least it doesn’t become a she said/she said situation.

      1. NicoleK*

        I thought maybe she’s just more of a visual person…so I tried email. This is a very brief summary:
        1. I sent her an email requesting a status update on x and y.
        2. She responds by stating that x is delayed and she’ll work on x sometime next month (no mention of y).
        3. I reply by thanking her for the update on x and again ask about y.
        4. She responds the 2nd time by going into further detail about why x is delayed (still no mention of y)

        And that’s where we are at for the time being. I still don’t know if she started y or finished y. X and y are tasks that should be a piece of cake for her (based the skills and experience listed on her resume).
        I’m a program manager and she’s the new program evaluator. Her role is unique in the organization. No one else in the organization has a firm understanding of her daily, weekly, or monthly tasks or how to complete those tasks. She did receive 2 hours of training from her predecessor and he’s open to answering questions.

        I’ll shoot her a follow up email inquiring, for the third time about y, and see how she responds.

        1. Cristina in England*

          What happens in you ask her in person about Y? Do you get the feeling that she is evasive, or that she doesn’t seem to understand what you’re asking?

          1. NicoleK*

            The only in person conversations we’ve had about x and y occurred her first day. When she volunteered to complete x and y for me. Since then, all conversations about x and y have via emails. At one point in time, she said they’d be done by the middle of the month. Obviously, that did not happen cause now she’s projecting that she won’t start x until middle of next month.

        2. AnotherFed*

          Can you set up regular in-person meetings? Send a list of topics in advance, and then keep the meeting on track to get whatever you need on each task. And like Graciosa said, be crystal clear about due dates for tasks.

          I’ve got one support guy this summer who literally does not do work unless you tell him ‘do x today and y tomorrow’ and then tomorrow stop in to make sure he did x and is working on y.

    7. Kay*

      What does BEC stand for? I tried googling it and couldn’t come up with anything that made sense.

      1. Cristina in England*

        BEC is Bitch Eating Crackers. I don’t know where it started, but there is definitely a snarky ecard out there that says “look at that bitch over there eating crackers like she owns the place”. It describes the point of annoyance you reach with someone where everything they do becomes the most irritating thing in the world.

  30. Rat Racer*

    I wouldn’t go so far as to proclaim “false dichotomy” because generally speaking, not-for-profits offer lower salaries — although I had thought that part of the deal was better benefits – not worse. But there’s so much variation! And especially in my field (health care) it’s hard to distinguish between for-profits and not-for-profits in culture, salary, mission.

    After working for non-profits for the first 15 years of my career, I took a job with a for-profit company. The salary is crazy good (I still think I’m overpaid), but the hours are long, I’m working for a department whose mission I’m passionate about within an organization I’m on the fence about (good guy? bad guy? depends who you ask). Truly a mixed bag. However, and most importantly, my colleagues some of the brightest, most accountable and kindest people I’ve worked with so far, and that makes a huge difference. The culture here is great – and that’s not something you can split down the middle based on profit status.

    My best advice is to ignore profit status and focus on the criteria that matter most to you personally.

  31. Felicia*

    Does anyone have any suggestions of really good interview questions to ask entry level candidates? None of them have specific related experience, but that’s not necessary. We want someone who can learn, who is very organized and detail oriented, comfortable juggling multiple deadlines, can work well in a tiny environment where everyone does a bit of everything (like less than 10 people), is to an extent comfortable with making things up as they go along, and can try to figure things out themselves/take initiative before asking, though of course they can ask. I do want to ask them what they know about the program we’d be hiring them to manage, because that info is publicly available on our website and that’s a good way to determine if they at least googled us. I tried to search the archives here but didn’t have any luck. Any suggestions? I’ve never been involved in hiring anyone before, and although I don’t have final say, am a bit nervous about this power!

    1. Stephanie*

      Hmmm, maybe ask them to describe a project exhibiting some of those qualities you’ve mentioned? You could mention that it could be from school or extracurriculars. If it’s a group project, just make sure to ask what the interviewee’s particular role was.

    2. AndersonDarling*

      For entry level, we stay away from behavioral questions like “tell me about a time when you had to resolve a conflict” because they just don’t have the experience to draw from. So instead we present it as a possible situation. “Let’s say your manager said we will no longer give out coupons to upset customers, but you have an upset customer who is demanding a coupon. What would you do?”
      You can ask them to walk you through their thought process for prioritizing work. They may not have the answer you would give, but if they can talk about it, you will know if they understand deadlines and hierarchy.

      1. TootsNYC*

        I hire copyeditors and proofreaders, and I often ask ones that stump them, like: “What’s the worst mistake you made, the one that still bugs you, and why is it the worst one?”

        And then I tell them mine. I give them an example. It makes them feel at ease (esp. with the “worst one”), and it shows them what I mean.

        So maybe things like, “did you ever start a new job–babysitting, or camp counselor, or working on the float–and how long did it take you to feel like you were the pro, the experienced one? Tell me how you could tell you knew what you were doing? What things did you do that made you feel more confident?”

        And then maybe you say, “I volunteered in the church nursery. And I realized that after a few months, I was the one who knew where the baby wipes were, and I was the one who realized we were about to run out, so I went and asked the folks in the office to add baby wipes to the list of stuff they regularly purchased. Something like that.”

        Prime the pump, so to speak.

    3. Sunflower*

      I think stress that they can use examples from school or their part-time jobs. Sometimes students are hesitant to use these examples because they don’t feel they are applicable so make sure you encourage it so you can get some real life examples.

    4. fposte*

      “Tell us about a time when . . .” is the classic for this. You can also take the opportunity to give some flavor of the office. “At this workplace, people have be willing to take the initiative to figure things out for themselves. Can you tell me about a project you worked on where you had to solve problems independently?” (I don’t like that wording, but you get the idea.)

      Also, ask them to problem-solve situations people have really faced or are likely to face. “It’s a Friday in summer and the rest of the staff are out of the office. A client comes in insisting she’s been overbilled and demanding a refund–what do you do?” With the kind of office you describe, it’s going to be particularly useful for you to see how people approach these; you don’t care so much about the actual answer, but you want them to think the situation through.

      1. Felicia*

        I like the suggestion of real situations , and I will try to use that in some way! I think for most questions I’m looking for more about how they approach things than the real answer. And I also like the way to let them know what it’s like to work here. It’s a very specific environment to work in that some people love and thrive in (like me) and some people hate or struggle in.

        1. TootsNYC*

          I can see that if I don’t work there, I would have no idea “what would you do?” in that work situation. I wouldn’t know if I was allowed to call the manager at home, etc.

          Maybe ask things like, “What do you think your reaction would be?”

    5. MaryMary*

      I think behavioral questions are still good for entry level candidates, as long as you’re ready to hear about examples that aren’t necessarily school or work related. I asked a candidate once to tell me about a time she had to resolve a conflict with a colleague, and she gave me an example that involved living with six roommates. It was great! For an entry level position, I just needed to know that she could play well with others, it didn’t matter if the “others” were coworkers, classmates, or roommates

      1. Felicia*

        I think for any behavioural questions i’ve thought of, they don’t need to come from a specific experience, they could come from the restaurant the person worked at or the school club they were in or something. It
        s more about how they would handle things. I think anyone can think of a time where they had to stay organized or work under pressure.

        1. TootsNYC*

          Yep! Especially for entry level.

          And that’s why I’d suggest priming the pump by suggesting examples that seem closer to their real lives.

          So you say, “tell me about how you’ve resolved conflict–maybe with a roommate, or a club, or one of your jobs…” Make it clear that you recognize that skills in a social arena can carry over to the office.

    6. FJ*

      I’ve been in similar positions… doing part of the interviewing but not the final decision.
      I like asking “Can you tell me what the biggest thing you accomplished during blah blah blah….?”
      Even entry level candidates should be able to come up with *something* school or work or personal project related.

      Even for non-entry level candidates, it is a good question.
      I had someone with several years of experience not able to give a good answer… and combined with other interviewer’s feedback, we decided not to hire them.

      1. TootsNYC*

        Nice! Because it focuses on achieving. And people who can’t identify achievements are probably not achievement-oriented. They are more likely to be people who just do what other people tell them, without investing their own sense of “what can I do here?”

    7. Anne S*

      One of the question I’ve tried in that situation is ‘tell me about a situation where you’ve had to teach yourself something.’

    8. VictoriaHR*

      “Tell us about a time that your organizational skills or attention to detail helped you in the workplace or at school.”

      “Describe a time that you had to juggle multiple deadlines to get everything done – how did it work out? Is there anything you’d do differently?”

      “Tell us about a time when you had to take initiative in order to finish a project.”

      “Would you call yourself a rule-follower, or a think-outside-the-box type of person, and why?”

    9. AnotherFed*

      I like “tell me about a time when…” type questions, even for new hires straight out of college. Some good ones for your situation might be:

      … a time when you had to coordinate a complicated project or event with a group of people.
      … a time when you made a serious mistake. What did you do to resolve it? How would you prevent it from happening again.
      … a time when you were given a major project and had to plan out and then execute the plan to complete it. How did you handle events that disrupted your plan? What would you do differently?

      And with college-age new hires, make sure to ask follow-up questions – many of them don’t have much interviewing experience and don’t explain their experiences or how they approach problems as well as they could.

  32. Shell*

    For some reason, despite being out in the working world for a good couple of years now, I’ve never gotten into the habit of keeping my lunch in a lunch bag–I’d just take the Tupperware inside (however many there are; usually 1-3) and stick them in the fridge but put the little tote bag I carried everything in at my desk.

    I lost a box of strawberries yesterday, likely because someone assumed it was theirs and took it. And there is no sane way to ask the entire company where my food went :P So I’m writing it off as a loss. From now on, all Tupperware and the bag goes in the fridge, together!

    What other little things have you learned about the working world that no one ever taught you?

    1. Sadsack*

      I write my initials with a Sharpie on any individual item that I put in the shared fridge. A can of soda or a yogurt, I put my initials on it. It helps keep others from taking it by accident and also helps me remember that it is mine if I don’t eat it the same day I brought it.

    2. Anie*

      Just this morning I read a big long thread about people stealing other’s lunch at work. I’ve NEVER had that happen, but dozens in the thread attested to using laxatives or Ipecac to catch the culprit if HR didn’t do anything.

      Not that I’m suggesting you do that, lol! It was probably an accident, I agree.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        I’ve read in a few places (and IANAL!) that deliberately spiking food to catch a food thief can be considered assault. Even if it isn’t, DON’T DO IT. :) G-d forbid someone accidentally takes a piece of fruit and ends up in the hospital.

        Not that I support food thievery, mind you. When I worked in a large office, I just kept an insulated lunch bag at my cubicle, which I started doing after maintenance threw out a glorious salad I made in an effort to deep clean the fridge.

        1. The Cosmic Avenger*

          But if you just happen to REALLY like a ton of hot sauce on your lunch, that’s not spiking food….just sayin’…..

      2. Anonymosity*

        We had it happen here and they put up a camera. I think they found it was one of the cleaning crew. Stuff had been disappearing out of people’s desks too. Most people leave food in the fridge for days around here, but that’s still not okay. It’s really not okay for them to rummage in the desks!

        1. CoffeeLover*

          People stealing food tugs at my heart strings a little. I mean if it’s the president of your company stealing your samosas (as Lady Bug mentions below), then you’re probably safe to assume they could afford their own samosas and are just being lazy and opportunistic. But someone on the cleaning staff? There’s a big possibility this person could also afford their own food, but then there’s also a possibility they can’t. I can’t be upset at someone that’s stealing food out of necessity even if it means I have to go out and buy a mars bar.

      1. Shell*

        Office tea politics? Did I miss a thread somewhere? I haven’t been on this site as much as I would like in the last few months!

      2. Elizabeth West*

        I swear I saw a funny article the other day about struggles of the office tea round, but I can’t remember if it was on Buzzfeed or Metro or what.

    3. Evey Hammond*

      If you have milk in your work fridge and forget to write your name on the carton, in a day or two you will no longer have milk in the work fridge.

      Also, a lot of people are disproportionately enthusiastic about Avon catalogues.

    4. TheLazyB*

      My old boss got her sandwiches out of the fridge one day only to discover SOMEONE HAD TAKEN A BITE AND WRAPPED THEM UP AGAIN.

      If it was an accident surely you’d confess?! She was lovely and it was a very friendly workplace!

    5. VictoriaHR*

      Ugh. I bought a small bottle of reduced sugar ketchup, wrote my name on it along with “DO NOTS USE,” and it still gradually disappeared over 2 weeks. I think I got some twice. Friggin people.

    6. AnotherFed*

      That even grown adults are susceptible to hangry attacks. I keep a desk drawer full of snacks just in case hangry strikes, but it took me a few years to just give in instead of hoping people (myself included) found something out of a vending machine.

      And also that the vending machine will eat your dollar with 100% probability if you are hangry and only have one $1 bill.

    7. Lady Bug*

      I once left a box of Samoas in my desk only to find the next day that the President of the company ate the last three when I went home! Stealing food is bad, but stealing Samoas should be a crime!!!!

    8. Kristen*

      I have an insulated bag that I take my lunch in and it stays at my desk. I have never trusted or liked keeping my lunches in common refrigerators at work. People have no respect for others food and most of the places I have worked the refrigerators are like science projects anyway. Just gross!

  33. FJ*

    Ugh, this has been a not great week. For a while I’ve been waiting to hear on an internal promotion that I was very excited about. Now I’ve found out that both my position and the promotion are being relocated to the main office of my global corporation. I’m currently remote. It sucks because I’ve been a high performer, working remote for a few years, and I was asked to apply for this promotion. Everyone in my department from my boss up to the department head supports me being remote, but they were all overruled by the head of HR.

    I kinda knew this was coming in a year or two, but I didn’t think it would happen now. I don’t really want to move back. There is a possibility I could take a remote position in another part of the company, but I don’t think it has much long term potential. So I guess I’m starting to job search and reach out to some connections. I’m kinda dreading the search, but I think I’m ready for something new.

    1. Dan*

      If HR has that much power, your company sucks. HR is supposed to help the business get the job done, not get in they way.

      1. FJ*

        Yes, HR is my biggest ongoing complaint about the company. Forced curve performance reviews that other similar companies have abandoned… No transparency or communication about salaries and grades and career paths…

        Besides that, I really like the work and my colleagues. We are a niche within the industry that I really like, so it’s a general bummer that the job is moving.

    2. Artemesia*

      In my experience when you know enough to know ‘it is probably coming in a year or so’ you should expect it to happen at any moment. My daughter lost her job while on maternity leave (they closed the office); she knew it was coming but because they had just received a new contract thought it would be coming in November instead of February. Once the handwriting is on the wall, expect the uglies to come down at any time.

      1. FJ*

        Yeah… probably good advice. I had been talking to my department folks since the winter… asking how they thought working remote was going and if I could keep doing it. Everyone said yes, so it’s especially surprising/annoying/ridiculous that HR was able to overrule.

  34. Sara*

    Annoyed because I probably missed out on a full-time permanent job opportunity because I failed to understand a statement in the prospective employer’s email as a question. “I will speak to the hiring team and see if they’re available to meet with you around X:00” is not the same as “Should I speak to the hiring team to see if they can meet with you around X:00? Are you still interested in the position?” To me, the first one – which is basically what the hiring manager wrote – didn’t require any response (especially since she and I had been emailing 1-2 times per day for several days trying to coordinate schedules – I thought my interest was a given!), but when I finally met with her today about a slightly different opportunity, she indicated that she actually meant the latter. Ugh. Seems like I kind of shot myself in the foot in an effort to keep my contact level with this hiring manager appropriate and professional. (I very much wanted to email her back hours later to ask if she’d been able to schedule anything at a better time for me, but I didn’t want to seem pushy…and also I tend to assume that when people write “I will do X,” that they mean they’re actually going to do X.)

    The good news is that the interview went well, and depending on the salary and benefits structure, the alternate opportunity could actually work out fairly well for me. I’ve had a couple of other interviews this week, including one third-and-hopefully-final round meeting with an employer that I’ve gotten a really good vibe from throughout the process. Fingers crossed.

    1. Dan*

      Well, the HM sucks for 1) Not being clear, and 2) Absent a follow up from you, not directly soliciting a response.

    2. AndersonDarling*

      So frustrating! But I like to think that those little miscommunications and quirky situations are there to keep you out of the wrong jobs and keep you available for the right ones.

    3. TootsNYC*

      I think responded to every single communication *is* “appropriate and professional.”
      Even if it’s just an email back that says, “Great! looking forward to it.”

      Lesson for the future, I suppose.
      Or, per AndersonDarling: “I like to think that those little miscommunications and quirky situations are there to keep you out of the wrong jobs and keep you available for the right ones.”

  35. Rock/Hard Place*

    My husband and I relocated to the east coast for his work two years ago and are kind of…over it. There aren’t many other options where we live, so we want to go back to our hometown (large Midwestern city). Getting closer to our family in general is our goal, and both of us are at mid-level positions in competitive fields, so it feels very “take what you can get” (and we have to let our landlord know in 2 weeks if we want to resign a year long lease).

    So far, I’ve had phone interviews for a few positions in a mid-sized city four hours away, and another in a mid-sized city 6 hours away (where we have extended family but not immediate), and one for a position in the middle of nowhere, about an hour from our hometown, with next to zero prospects for my husband to get a job. I’ve had one (unsuccessful) phone screen for our dream city/hometown.
    I’m at the point now where I’m getting requests for interviews, but travel expenses would be my own. At $400+ a pop, I can’t possibly go everywhere and I just don’t know what to do. Initially we were very “we’ll take anything!” but now that it’s time to drop the cash, nothing seems perfect. At the same time I don’t want to miss an opportunity. I just don’t know what to do.

    1. Sarah in DC*

      Would your landlord be open to a short term or month to month lease? Maybe if you offered 60 days notice? Obviously that doesn’t fix the job problem, but it at least gives you some breathing room.

    2. Sunflower*

      Can you go to one of the cities and stay there with family for a week or two at a time? You could interview, network while you’re there. Other than that, skyping?

    3. alice*

      Are they doing preliminary phone or Skype interviews? If they are, that should give you an idea of whether you’d want to work at the company/whether you’d be a good fit. You should be able to narrow down your options from there. It sounds like your current situation isn’t horrible, so I wouldn’t jump on an opportunity that doesn’t meet your needs or for some reason doesn’t feel right.

      I get that you’re on a tight time frame right now, but is it likely that you’d get an offer and be able to move in two weeks or less? If not, I’d renew the lease. Better safe than sorry.

      Also, when you do travel for an interview, can you stay with family to cut back on cost? (Maybe you’re already planning on that, but I’m throwing it out here just in case.)

  36. anonanonanon*

    Anyone here do freelance writing/editing/proofreading work? I have a full-time job, but I’d love to start making some extra money on the side to help pay off some bills and make finances a bit easier month to month. Most of the jobs I’ve found online seem to be for content mills that pay $0.01/word or $1/1,000 words. I’ve heard people talk about getting $12-15/hour for online contract/freelance side jobs or getting $100 per article, but I can’t seem to find any of those jobs. I don’t really have a portfolio I can send out since almost all of the writing and editing I’ve done professionally are under non-disclosure agreements.

    Any suggestions or resources would be helpful and appreciated!

      1. Anony-moose*

        I’ve been freelance writing on the side for about five years and have loved it. I actually just started a blog about the process that I can send you if you are interested!

        I’ve found the website Make a Living Writing a good resource. She has great articles, links, and information.

        But in a nutshell:
        1) Build a portfolio. Talk to family, friends, pick up some cheap work or even just write on your own.
        2) Build a network. Let everyone know you are writing. You’d be amazed what you will uncover.
        3) Don’t get bogged down on bidding sites like Elance and oDesk. I have some great clients through them but it’s not the norm.
        4) Pitch when you have time, and cultivate the hell out of the clients you have.

        Right now I have one long-term client I’ve worked with for two years, and one client who knew I wrote and reached out to me via linked in. It’s been a GREAT way to make some extra money!

        1. Anony-moose*

          Oh, and I should mention that I started out with pathetic rates but now charge $25 to $30/hour. It just takes time and networking.

    1. Jessica*

      I don’t do freelance work, but a close friend does freelance copy editing and proofreading work. She got into it by knowing people in publishing who needed freelancers to complete projects and has grown her side business by word of mouth.

      Maybe you can put it out there that you are looking for freelance work? Or do some low paying freelance work to start so that you have a portfolio?

      1. anonanonanon*

        I actually work in publishing, so I unfortunately can’t go that avenue since it’s a conflict of interest.

        1. Lore*

          Interesting. I also work in publishing and we are allowed to do outside freelance work–not for any projects of my division but for other companies and even other divisions of our parent company. This applies to copyediting and proofreading, interior design, covers, etc.

    2. Mimmy*

      Stupid question, but what *exactly* is copy-editing? I had someone tell me a couple of years ago that I’d make a “wonderful editor” because of my keen attention to details. Is it more than just checking for typos, grammar and accuracy?

      1. anonanonanon*

        The exact definition varies by field, but in all the publishing companies I’ve worked in, copy-editors generally focus on format, style guidelines, grammar, and display copy (headlines, pullquotes, photo or diagram captions). Sometimes, depending on the project, we use copy-editors for terminology and accuracy, but more often than not those projects go to subject matter experts for accuracy checks and copy-editing. We depend on copy-editors to make manuscripts or documents ready for publication.

        I think people sometimes have the impression that editors tend to only look for typos or grammatical issues. I can’t speak for every company or other industries, but book publishing tends to have proofreaders to catch the typos and grammatical issues, copy-editors to get manuscripts ready to be printed and to adhere to style guidelines, and various other editors to work on the other stages of the manuscript or work with the author.

        1. Liane*

          I am Copy Editor for a small game company’s blog, and my job description is much closer to “proofreader.” I have very little style-checking, but it may be because this is a different field, a much smaller business and/or the Managing Editor (my boss and a published author) doesn’t see the need for a style guide. Now, if one of the writers uses a format for an article or series of articles, I make sure it is uniform. I also do all types of editing tasks for Managing Editor’s articles, at his request, because the two of us are the entire editorial staff.

          And thanks for explaining what Copy Editor usually involves. Now I know more about what is more in line with my actual skills and experience.

        2. Elizabeth West*

          That’s basically what I do at work–the SMEs write the reports and I assemble the parts (if they have modules) and check formatting, sentence structure, see that the text matches the screenshot, etc. Then I send them out. I modified the corporate style guide a little for our department and designed a new template so all the reports match. It’s not really portfolio worthy, I guess.

    3. Macedon*

      Afraid you need to have or quickly grow a professional network likely to want regular work. Check out med/big name publishers calling for freelancers – get a gig once, make sure to stress your availability after.

      It’s unfortunately difficult to make solid money off writing/editing otherwise, in my experience. It always works out better to try for part-time work with flexible hours in this industry.

      1. anonanonanon*

        I work for one of the big publishers, so I can’t work as a freelancer for any of the other big companies since it’s a conflict of interest. Though, I can say that in terms of hiring freelancers, they’re very picky and 8 times out of 10 use people who used to work in the industry over people who have no industry experience. Part of my issue is that the people I network with can’t offer me any work since it’s against their company’s policy and mine.

        1. Lore*

          I said this above but I also work at one of the big publishers and this is absolutely not our policy. I hire freelancers from other divisions of my parent company and the pay goes directly on their paycheck and I’d say a third of our freelancers are full time staff at another publisher, and most of my colleagues do freelance work elsewhere. You might want to s

          1. Lore*

            Sorry, hit submit. Solicit literary journals or other publications of university and small presses if that’s allowed. I freelance for a literary journal-only twice a year but interesting work. Not nearly as good pay though.

    4. Post-doc*

      I just started doing freelance editing for scientific manuscripts, grants, etc. and I really dislike it so far. The content is all from non-native English speaker, written about extremely complex scientific subject matter (I have an engineering PhD so this isn’t a problem for me if the writing makes sense). The pay is only $10 / 1000 words. By the time I finally understand what the authors are trying to say and figure out a way to say it more clearly, I think I’m only hitting about $10 / hr, which is is way too low. I’m also frustrated that I have received low quality ratings, but I haven’t received any usable feedback from the higher up editors to improve (and there was a typo in one of the responses which killed me).

      Definitely make sure the job is worth your time or the experience is truly worth it. So far I am not seeing much value at all and I’m a little concerned it is a bit of a scam.

    5. Cristina in England*

      I have gotten a couple of jobs from Upwork (used to be oDesk) specifically editing academic papers. My problem specifically with those sites is that you are literally facing globalization, competing directly with people in Malaysia or India who charge $3/hour (the minimum for oDesk bids, I think). Most job postings on there want to pay very little. It can be hard unless you have specialized skills or subject knowledge. See also the Clients From Hell blog.

      I wouldn’t recommend going into writing/editing/proofreading for some extra pocket money (see the photography thread above) because the work needed to get started is quite a lot if you already have a FT job and this isn’t your long-term dream or anything. I have made much more selling some used toys and craft supplies on ebay and etsy, and I hate selling things, I’d rather give them away. So far it has all been stuff I’ve had laying around the house already, and it has come to a couple hundred for minimal effort.

  37. Sadsack*

    I have a question about business casual office attire. I searched the archives and found some articles related to interview attire, but my question is about day-to-day work attire. As Allison requested in a related post, I do not want to recreate the “Great Pantyhose Debate of 2010”, which I read yesterday and, wow, there are some serious pantyhose-at-interviews proponents out there.

    Anyway, the reason for my question is that my company recently distributed a reminder about our business casual policy. I adhere to most of the rules. I do not wear sheer clothing. I don’t wear shoes that make any flip-flop sounds, and my skirts and dresses are always at the knee or just above the knee.

    I work in corporate offices and do not see customers. Our business casual dress policy includes the following: “Hosiery is optional for women with slacks or long skirts and dresses (that fall to mid-calf or lower) but still suggested for shorter skirts and dresses.“

    So, here’s the deal. I do not wear hose in warm weather. I wear it in cold weather, and I would wear it if I were wearing a suit skirt or dress to an interview or other formal event. But to my office just to go to work, in summer? No way. I am taking their suggestion as just that, a suggestion, not a hard and fast rule.

    Does anyone have any opinion on this? Am I really bucking authority, or am I right that this suggestion is up to interpretation?

    1. Alston*

      So the “suggested for shorter skirts and dresses” reads to me like “if you are in danger of flashing someone.”

      So as long as you’re not in flasher category I’d bet you’re fine.

      1. Natalie*

        They’re defining “long” as mid-calf or lower. Someone wearing a knee-length skirt is probably not actually in danger of flashing someone.

        1. afiendishthingy*

          Yeah, to me this is a pretty crazy definition of “shorter skirts”. I never wear pantyhose, I don’t wear tights in the summer, and I’m not wearing miniskirts but I also don’t wear skirts that hit below the knee, I’m short and I think it looks weird. I think you should look nice and presentable but take them at their word that hosiery is a “suggestion”.

        1. A Bug!*

          I can’t help but wonder if the person writing that memo meant to say “mid-thigh” and not “mid-calf”, because that would make a great deal more sense to me.

      2. Marcela*

        Maybe I’m not really understanding the subtle differences in hosiery, but I don’t get how pantyhose is going to avoid flashing. Until now, I thought pantyhose are the light, “transparent”, flesh colored things, and you can still see the underwear under them, while tights are the opaque ones that could prevent flashing.

    2. Colette*

      What do others in your office do?

      Personally, I think bare legs are fine, but it’s really about what the norm is at your company.

    3. Natalie*

      I really doubt anyone is noticing. As long as your skirts are already a work appropriate length, you will not be showing enough leg to scandalize someone with your lack of hose.

      1. Sadsack*

        You are probably right. I see some people here wear some really questionable outfits that seem to me to be obviously inappropriate for our office, but then I have to wonder if I am being oblivious about what I am wearing. I guess not. I like Headachey’s strategy of being fine as long as I am only breaking one of the rules at a time.

    4. Headachey*

      I’d read that as optional. What do other women in your office do? Do bare-legged women get side-eye?

      You could always adopt the strategy I used in a conservative office with an unwritten, unacknowledged dress code – assume that bare legs, bare arms, and visible toes are verboten, and strive to break no more than two of those rules at a time.

      1. Sadsack*

        Hey, I like your way of thinking! Our policy is otherwise pretty accepting. Open toes and sandals are ok if they don’t make noise. Sleeveless is ok, but not tank tops or spaghetti straps without a sweater.

      2. afiendishthingy*

        Ha! I frequently break all three of those in the summer, but we’re quite relaxed – don’t wear jeans and a t-shirt and you’re good.

        1. Arielle*

          My life goal is to never have a job where I can’t wear jeans and a t-shirt to work. I love working for startups. :)

          1. Elizabeth West*

            I get to wear them here, but I got used to dressing up just a little bit more on holiday (I didn’t want to look like a schlub). Now I feel weird if I wear a t-shirt without a cardigan. I still wear jeans, but it’s more like jeans/nice shirt or t-shirt with cardigan and or a scarf/ cool earrings/nice shoes (though I’m wearing Skechers today because it’s been raining). I wore capris the other day and felt naked. o_O

    5. Kelly L.*

      Hmm. It’s really horribly and passive-aggressively written, but I think they’re at least Strongly Encouraging, if not outright requiring, hose with shorter skirts. “Suggested” is a hideous word choice here, but they’re contrasting it with the “optional” of the first clause, so I think they mean “suggested” as “yes please do it this way.”

      (People, write better than that.)

      I also think it’s old-fashioned and shouldn’t be a rule, but it’s not up to me, alas.

      1. Sadsack*

        Yeah, I think I’ll keep doing what I have been doing. I doubt that my manager is considering having a sit-down about my lack of pantyhose. That conversation would be awkward and hilarious.

        1. Judy*

          I did work at a place where pantyhose was directly called out in the dress code for use with dresses and skirts. One of the HR managers had a thing about it. She was known for sending people home for this. She also sent home someone with foot issues for wearing inappropriate shoes.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            At Exjob, I had a foot issue once too and had asked BossWife if I could wear Crocs until it cleared up, but she wouldn’t let me. Then I found out that Crocs sold regular shoes with the foamy stuff on the inside. A black pair of Mary Janes later and all was well. :)

            Another time, a temp showed up wearing a blazer over a VERY low-cut blouse and all the guys in the office were leering at her. BossWife saw her and made Supervisor send her home!

    6. JenGray*

      I think that bear legs are fine as long as the dress/skirt is knee length or longer. I never wear pantyhose anymore just because I feel that they are more hassle than they are worth. But I also either wear pants or maxi skirts. I will occasionally wear something that hits around my knee but I have Eczema so I have a not so great looking spot of dry skin below my knees that I don’t like to show people. I think that unless they specifically say you must wear pantyhose you are probably fine.

    7. Anonsie*

      I think they are suggesti-telling you they are required but if you don’t see other people doing it, screw it.

    8. Kirsten*

      My office is pretty casual (we can wear jeans any day of the week) and no one wears stockings in the summer. Unless someone is looking very closely at your legs it’s hard to even tell. I would just not wear them and if HR says anything then start to wear them. (This may be terrible advice though haha.)

    9. Expendable Redshirt*

      I hate hosiery with the passion of a thousand burning suns.

      My advice is to go on a crusade to destroy all the hosiery in the world. Then the company can’t request it in te dress code.

    10. TootsNYC*

      I kinda doesn’t matter what we think. It really only matters what your boss thinks, and what your company’s dress-code police think.

      I would say that if I were you, I’d make sure my skirts weren’t particularly short and go without hose. If they don’t like it, they can say something to you about it.

  38. Amber Rose*

    Any tips on corporate blogging? I’m apparently the marketing manager now (ha!) and they want me to write about a new service we’re offering that nobody else offers in our industry and I’m drawing a blank.

    Apparently I also have to start tweeting… any tips on what I should tweet? I’ve never even used Twitter, though I do know how it works.

    1. Rin*

      With Twitter, we sometimes will link to articles our office has written or we’ll retweet from people we follow. If nothing else, I’ll sometimes look at business sites for good articles. Even a Happy Friday or a Throwback Thursday picture will suffice. We try to keep it business related but also personable.

    2. louise*

      We have a branch of the state’s small business administration with an office at a local university. They have classes almost every month on topics like this. They’re targeted toward small businesses, but a lot of it applies to any kind of business related social media. I attended one of these sessions and was surprised to find it was definitely not a waste of time.

    3. Anony-moose*

      Blogging can be so valuable but it is also really time consuming.

      I freelance write on the side and a lot of this is blogging. It regularly takes me 2-3 hours to research and write a blog article, including sourcing images. When I give my clients a blog it’s ready to post.

      If you do some research about blogging as a lead magnet, it’s pretty compelling. But the blog has to be done well and it can be hard to find time! I think that’s why a lot of companies hire a freelance writer to blog for them – you come up with the ideas, they do the rest.

      If your budget allows, could you hire a freelance writer?

      And as for Twitter, I still have no clue!

      1. Amber Rose*

        I’d have to convince my boss that blogging matters first. He doesn’t think it does, which is why I got all the passwords kinda shoved at me and told to deal with it. We’re a small company in a niche market. We need an online presence to reassure customers that we’re not outdated but there’s no budget for online marketing really.

        1. Diddly*

          That’s annoying. Entirely depends on industry but short interviews with team members could be interesting – showing that you’re experts in your field – gives more personality to company – faces.
          Useful to figure out number of posts you’ll do say a month. And perhaps come up with regular themes for those blog post – unrelated examples – but say you did four a week, week one is always cat pictures, week two scientific papers, week three an interview, week 4 make up tips… Or something like that. With writing regular blogs it helps to have themes to know what you can write up and also have a lot of stuff half written in the background. Planning is the key! (V much lacking in last job.) Helps to have a schedule and know what’s going to posted, when, so you can do a load of preparation and save time rather than just writing the blog on the day it was due. (I was reliant on loads of other ppl who would plan, schedule or essentially help me out – instead expected me to bug them for information…)

          1. moose*

            Yes to all of this! I plan my blog like three months in advance and write as far ahead as possible, when I’m working on personal stuff. For clients I write at least a week or two in advance. It’s so helpful to have “blog” as part of your job and not just an afterthought. Of course it can be hard to make the time and justify the hours spent planning, researching, and writing.

            There’s a lot of great research about blogging as an inbound marketing strategy. It’s not necessarily related to one niche but I wonder if you could take some of it and make a case for the time, planning, and resources it will take to have a good corporate blog, and then work in the ROI associated with a well-run blog?

    4. Bend & Snap*

      Oh boy. I run both a corporate blog and a corporate Twitter account (each of these took 6+ months to plan and launch). You really shouldn’t just start and fly by the seat of your pants.

      For the blog: identify the mission, audience, type of info you’re communicating, voice, author(s), where you’re going to get legal imagery and what promotional vehicles you’re going to use. You need a strategy and an editorial calendar of topics.

      Twitter: Ditto. Types of content you can think about are offers, white papers, news, articles about your company, videos, analyst reports, etc–basically, good corporate Twitter accounts are vehicles for content, but are also entertaining. Audience is really important here, and your content should be tailored to that.

      It’s also good to start slow. Walk before you run to make sure you’re setting a sustainable pace for both bandwidth and content.

      1. Bend & Snap*

        Also you need to think about naming, branding, etc. so that the look, feel & tone are consistent with the rest of the company branding.

    5. Diddly*

      With tweeting you want to be informative and supportive and only occasionally act like you’re seriously marketing your business. You want to build a following who is interested in your business and product and sees you as an expert, but they don’t want to be blasted with loads of marketing. Building communication is useful. But it can be a bit of a time-drain… You can use sites such as hoot suite to program a load of tweets at a time instead, and then check up intermittently. Depends on your industry and business users whether it’s actually worthwhile to put a lot of time into.

    6. Ad Astra*

      Google “content marketing” and you can probably find some good resources. My best advice is to write briefly, use a bit of a conversational tone, and find good photos to go along with it.

  39. Persephone Mulberry*

    Our internet has crashed twice in the last three days – 3 hours on Wednesday and 90 minutes today. It has really lit a fire under my manager’s a** to do two things: first, get the backup solution that was initially discussed 8 months ago in place, and second, lobby with her manager for a dedicated IT person. Cross your fingers that she can make it happen, because right now everyone comes to me despite the fact that this is neither my area of interest nor training, and I’m about at bitch eating crackers with every person who starts a sentence with “can you help me”.

  40. Stephanie*

    Y’all, I’m conflicted on this internal(ish) job (I’m a contractor at the company) I’m interviewing for. I never heard back from another internal interview I had back in March (followed-up with no response) and had a coupe of interviews (but no offers). So….this is all I have at the moment.

    I’m heading in today to sit for a test for the job. I asked my current bosses and they said that that’s a good sign as all the would-be managers at the company take this in the late stages of the interview. I’m interested in the work and it’d be good skills to gain.

    Just the pay. Ugh. It’s comically low ($14.50/hr) and it’s like 0.7 FTE on a graveyard shift. (And they want someone with a math/science BS with intermediate to advanced Excel skills.) Commute would be significantly further (uh, since I can’t really afford to move out of my folks’ house on that little money, even in my sort of low COL city). There are some other non-monetary benefits that might be useful, like stock plans and tuition reimbursement.

    If I got it, I’d take it because it’d still be better than what I’m doing now. But this is probably the most ambivalent I’ve felt about a potential job yet.

    1. Dan*

      I had an interview like that from a household-name employer. Pay was $45k/yr, wanting an MS in a technical field with industry experience. When I interviewed with them, I got the impression everybody wanted to be somewhere else. This was in 2008, right as the recession was in full swing. That was the only job I ever prayed for a rejection from.

    2. Audiophile*

      I’ve been there, Stephanie. I interviewed with a synagogue for a communications position. Prior to the start of the interview, I was super excited. But once we got down to business, I discovered they couldn’t meet the low end of my salary range (they were about 2k shy) plus I would be rreplacing two part time workers and “eventually” their graphics person. My graphics skills are minimal but I’m certainly willing to learn. Long story short, I was glad I never heard back from them.

      How about I move to Arizona and we become rommates? What say you? Lol.

      1. Stephanie*

        Ha, you don’t want to move here this time of year.

        Yeah, this is a “Well, if it’s meant to be…” job.

    3. Artemesia*

      Think if it as a slightly better platform from which to search for the next position and start immediately if you get it, looking of course for something you would be happy with long term.

      1. Stephanie*

        Yeah, that’s how I’m looking at it. And I guess I could point to being promoted as well and the skills should be broad enough and transferable enough to other companies or industries (unlike like my former field). It’s just like “Damn it. I thought this could have ended this horrible job search.”

        1. TootsNYC*

          Think of it as a ladder–with lots of little rungs?

          And you can keep the external job search humming, just not quite as high a frequency/pitch.

  41. Jennifer*

    Still waiting around to hear or not on the job I want. Keep checking my cell when I’m outside, even though it’s probably “too soon” anyway. Meanwhile, my office is prepping for other changes like a move and new business cards and I got asked whether or not I want new ones. Uh…. I’ll pass for now, I guess. This makes me wonder about the other things they’re going to spend money on for me, like a new fancy chair. But…well, odds are I won’t get it anyway (or at least I need to not get my hopes up because that seems like a jinx) so I should shut it.

    Just wondering on a few things:
    * am I obligated to tell my supervisor about being up for the other job if it’s at the same employer but in a different office (one ours works with a fair amount)? She does know people there so I have to reasonably assume at some point it may get back to her, but I don’t really want to say anything unless I get an interview anyway. No point in getting anyone’s hopes up or down until then.
    * What the heck would I do etiquette-wise if I actually got another job? Other than I have to write some kind of letter announcing my quitting and give two weeks notice. I’ve never actually quit anywhere voluntarily before. What do I say to the other employer if they say yes? Do I wait for a written offer letter before I submit the quit?

    (I’m sure there’s AAM on this somewhere, hopefully someone can point me there…?)

    1. Diddly*

      I’m not sure I follow – have you applied for the job and you’re waiting to hear if you got an interview? Or are you waiting on the results of the interview?

      My understanding from this blog is basically don’t say anything till you’ve signed on the dotted line – especially don’t quit.
      And your letter and 2 weeks notice sounds normal, I think if you can you should pull aside your boss and ask to speak to them, basically inform them you’ve loved working with them (whether true or not) and that you’ve now been given the opportunity to move on and so are handing in your resignation and two weeks notice (or whatever you need doing.) You could then ask how you should announce it to the team and what your manager needs help with for the transition. (Or you might have something prepared.)
      But don’t do anything till you’ve got an offer letter/contract.

      1. Jennifer*

        I JUST GOT THE INTERVIEW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :) In a week and a half!

        So there’s the answer :)

    2. Apollo Warbucks*

      When I’ve applied for internal jobs it’s alwys been policy to tell your current manager, and I agree with that as a curtesy your should tell your boss.

      When you leave write up you letter of resignation, keep it short and simple make sure to include your leaving date, and be sure to have the conversation in person.

    3. TootsNYC*

      Do not worry in the least about whether you’re inconveniencing the company w/ business cards and a new chair. Seriously. Not a problem.

      1. Windchime*

        Yes. Business cards are like $6/box and someone else can use the chair if/when you leave your job.

  42. What was that?*

    How do you deal with a boss who asks you the same questions over and over all day long? E.g.:

    Boss: Who submits all TPA reports?

    Me: Jacob submits them.

    Boss: So Jacob submits all TPA reports?

    Me: Yes.

    … 5 minutes later …

    Boss: Who should should I contact about next week’s TPA reports?

    Me: ?!?!?!?!!?!?!?

    Boss hates when you say things like: “As I mentioned last week.” “As I told you previously.” “As we discussed last week.” For her, it’s insubordinate to mention that we’ve had this conversation (10 times!!!) already.

    1. Anie*

      I have a co-worker like that. Older and mostly helpless with technology.

      I can not tell you how many times he’s asked for basic things like, “How do I get a Euro symbol in my Word Doc?” or “How do I download and open this white paper?” or “How do I log on to this site?”

      Recently he asked me if I knew how to do a “split screen.” Because he only has one monitor, I was pretty sure he had no idea what he was asking for. When I clarified, it turned out he didn’t know how to minimize browsers so that he could have 2 Word docs next to each other or 2 web pages showing at the same time.

      He’s always very apologetic about asking, which is miles better than a demanding person, but it’s still repetitive. Fortunately, I’m pressed him to start writing this crap down.

      I’m not IT.

      1. Diddly*

        Hmm with your I think you can definitely draw them up a handy hints doc, for these things they keep asking especially as they’re apologetic.

    2. Mean Something*

      I think you’ve probably got to acknowledge that you’re dealing with someone who needs information repeated and not try to turn Boss into someone who isn’t going to ask you the same question three or four different ways. You are probably a person who can hear something once and it sticks, but not everyone is like this. (I’m a high school teacher, so I get constant demonstrations of how important it can be to give information in multiple ways–some kids can hear it once and remember it forever, but some do better if it’s written on the board and a handout AND spoken.)

      You might want to think about whether there is anything in the situation that might be triggering Boss’s anxiety or uncertainty, and/or anything you can do to provide a quick and easy visual reference that might head off some of the questions. For example, if you keep a certain schedule in your head, posting it might make things easier for Boss. Don’t just point at it and sigh, of course–say “Here’s that info–I thought it might be good to have this where we can check it easily.” Then, the next time Boss asks, look at that info before answering–model how to find it.

      Boss might have some kind of information processing issue (auditory, perhaps) or a generally high anxiety level or possibly an attention deficit. The challenge is to figure out how to jigger the environment to smooth out whatever parts of this you can so that both you and Boss are more comfortable. Good luck!

      1. What was that?*

        You might be right.

        Although, boss never seems anxious, I think the boss assumes that I will know the info so there is no need to retain it.

    3. moose*

      Yep. This is my life. I just keep saying the same thing over and over again. It drives me crazy though.

      1. Mallory Janis Ian*

        I think sometimes the problem is that the boss doesn’t store certain information in his head; he stores it in other people’s heads and retrieves it by asking each and every time.

    4. Diddly*

      Hmm if it was regular things you could draw up a doc that spells these out. (If they’re all related) and hand it to boss, not sure how you phrase what this doc is though…
      Think it’s just a quirk for you to deal with and kind of agree with boss saying as I said previously etc comes off as kind of passive aggressive or just a bit childish – although it’s frustrating clearly your boss doesn’t realise that they’ve asked you this a million times before so it just comes off as rude.

    5. fposte*

      Unless she’s accusing you of failing to tell her stuff, there’s no point in noting that you’ve told her that before, so definitely put an end to that.

      Is there a category of stuff that she asks about? That may just be the stuff that she doesn’t retain well, and you might find a way for her to get that information otherwise. But overall I’d go with “If she asks, just tell her.” I suspect there are other things you don’t like about her, because this doesn’t seem like a big thing on its own.

      1. What was that?*

        I don’t/haven’t pulled the “as we’ve discussed before card.” Other people have, multiple times and my boss has complained about them ad nauseam. The first time my boss told me that was one of her “triggers,” I knew not to say it.

        However, it’s been over a year and I’m still repeating things we’ve discussed multiple times over the year. It’s driving me (and several other people) crazy but I can’t complain about it apparently.

        She asks about almost everything, all the time.

        1. AVP*

          My boss is also like that. The only thing to do is grit your teeth, smile and answer.

          There was one thing he kept asking if I had done – a one-time thing that I did once five years ago but I noticed he would frequently ask if I had done it or not. Finally I was like, “you know, that was a one-time task that I did ages ago. If it’s stressing you out, let’s talk about why, because it has DEFINITELY been done.” It turns out he thought it was one of those technical things that you had to do once a month or so. He stopped asking about it for a good four months but now he’s back to asking about it relatively often :)

        2. Kate M*

          If it’s happened enough to be one of her triggers, then that probably shows you she’s been like that for long enough that people have been saying it to her for years. I don’t really think there’s much you can do to change it. If it’s the same type of stuff she’s asking about (maybe like things pertaining to how a certain department works or something?), then maybe a one-pager cheat sheet would help to keep right by her desk. However, if she’s this bad, I doubt she would even use it. As long as she’s not blaming you for not having the information, I might just suck it up and repeat my answers.

    6. Monodon monoceros*

      My new boss (she’s been here about 3 months) is a bit like this so far. I’ve been wondering if is just a thing with it being a new job for her, lots to learn, and lots of change in her life moving here, but it hasn’t really abated over the 3 months.

      So far I’ve been just answering as if she hasn’t asked before. I think that’s really the only thing you can do without seeming a bit snotty. But I feel your pain. This has been making me a little bit nuts, and it’s only been 3 months. I hope it ends….

  43. Kay*

    What do people think is the appropriate amount of lee-way to give a new employee who just isn’t getting “it”?
    I hired a new person who seemed great on paper and was very good in her interview, but I’m struggling because she doesn’t seem to be catching on to the work. I work as a contract analyst (read…just staring at contracts and submissions all day) for the State, and she is demonstrating a lack of understanding of the basics like how to minimize windows (?!) and how to “save as” and over write other files. I feel like I’m rushing to judgment because she’s only been working here for 7 days, but part of me is frustrated because I’ve had to go over the same instructions multiple times and I’m concerned because I really can’t take the time to teach someone how to use Windows . How long should I give her to get used to the work before discussing this with her?

    1. Ollie*

      Ack! I just interviewed at a place where they give a test on using Windows because they’ve hired people in the past who were great on paper/interviews, but didn’t know how to use a computer their first day on the job.

      I don’t think you’re rushing to judgement at all. Knowing how to use a computer is a really basic skill and not having that skill is causing a problem with her getting work done (and causing issues with you having to take time to explain things you shouldn’t need to explain). It’s not really a judgement thing so much as a practical/logical thing. I’d discuss it with her right away. Maybe she needs to watch YouTube tutorials or get a “For Dummies” book to learn the basics. I’m not sure if that’s something she should do as “training” at work, or something she should be expected to do at home.

    2. Anie*

      Recently, I joked to someone about how stupid companies are that still include, on job posts, things like “Must be profecent in Microsoft Word.”

      Yeah, it hurts me that people like this are still out there. It’s 2015. Even fast food restaurants use computers.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        That is why I put MS Office in my resume if I saw it in the job posting. I knew they would expect it. What I hate are those tests that only let you do stuff one way–and it’s NOT the way I do it!

    3. fposte*

      I would discuss it with her right away. “I’m concerned that you’re not seeming comfortable enough with the computer programs to work on them independently, which is what the job needs. Let’s try a week where you have to find the answers to your software questions by Googling, rather than asking me, and see how that works.” I don’t know if you’re invested enough in her to cover an online tutorial for her or not (maybe you guys have a subscription to, if you’re state), but that’s another possibility.

      Can you let her go if it’s not working out? This is a pretty big deficit (and an illustration of why a sample run at an interview can be so useful). As you can probably tell from my suggested script, my goal would be not only to point her toward how I’d like her to work but also for her to take less of my time; if you can’t terminate her, minimizing her impact on you is going to be an important part of the goal.

      1. Kay*

        I really like the language you’ve used here. Part of the issue is that we are all temp workers with the state, so there really isn’t any investment in skills development. Very much sink or swim.

        I can let her go if it doesn’t work, I’ve been thinking about that today when her uncertainty came to a head. But…then I feel really bad because I know how overwhelming the first week can be, and lord knows I’ve made dumb mistakes before. I wonder if that reaction is too rash.

        1. AnotherFed*

          It’s kinder to tell her now that she needs to do better, and give her meaningful, concrete things she can work on fixing (or that she can look at and realize she needs a new job soon). That way she has a chance to improve, and if she doesn’t it is not a surprise if she needs to be let go.

    4. NicoleK*

      I would discuss it with her right away and suggest free tutorials, computer classes, and etc.

    5. Development professional*

      I’m wondering, is it JUST that she doesn’t know how to use the computer? Or is it that AND you “had to go over the same instructions multiple times” about non-computer stuff? In addition to thinking about whether she has the skills for the job, it might be worth considering whether your method of communicating instructions to her is working for her. Is it all verbal, when she would do better with an email? If instructions have to be verbal, are you asking her to repeat them back to you to ensure she understands what you’re asking for? Is she writing an instruction sheet for herself after she figures out how to do something new, so that next time she doesn’t have to ask you? You might have to be really explicit with her about how to do these things and why they’re important. It’ll take more time up front, but could pay off in the long run if she’s exhibiting good contributions in other areas.

      1. Kay*

        I think you are right that the frustration is definitely stemming from the combination of issues. I tried having her shadow multiple people through the job, gave her written instructions, and had her take notes and go through some practice exercises. I think part of the issue is that I get her to verify that she understands, but she still comes back later (not referencing her notes) and asks me how to do it. Looking over your suggestions, I realized I haven’t been asking her “Have you looked at your notes from before?” which might be a good starting spot ^_^.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          “Have you looked at your notes from before?”

          In my head, I heard Roy from The IT Crowd asking, “Have you tried turning it off and back on again?”

    6. JenGray*

      I don’t think you are rushing to judgement- computers are a fact of life nowadays. If the job posting/description (they are two separate things but as this point she should have seen both) talk about computer skills and your not seeing them than I would talk to her. I think it is best to have a discussion because perhaps she is just overwhelmed with a new job- sometimes anxiety gets the better of people. But it is in everyone’s best interest if you nip it in the bud than when it is easy to fix as opposed to later when things have gotten way out of hand.

    7. MKB*

      I would probably give her another 2 weeks then talk to her about it. I currently have one of these. It bothered me that a week in she wasn’t getting it, now it’s been 18 months and although she can do her day to day, she’s never going to excel at this job. She was a bad hire that I completely regret.

    8. Sunshine Brite*

      It’s already been too long I feel like if it’s standard systems. I work with someone who can’t catch onto my work and as their coworker it’s really frustrating to see them get the easier overall caseload and tasks because they can’t handle the more complex things rather than spreading it around evenly.

    9. Kristen*

      Oh boy, I went through this last year with an office assistant we hired. Her learning style was just way different than anyone I had ever trained before and I had to adjust to make it easier for her to understand and make it all “click” for her. It was a very frustrating 6 months but she finally got it down and is doing much better now.

  44. Ollie*

    I applied for a job where, during the phone screening, interview and a follow up e-mail about the hiring timeline, I was told that they tell always warn candidates that any offer made is conditional, until a group of board members is able to vote and make the offer official (so the candidate shouldn’t resign from their current job until after the vote).

    It seemed weird to be told this since so many times since it’s not relevant unless you’re the candidate getting an offer (and I bombed the interview, so it seems even weirder that they would mention it again in the follow up e-mail). My friend is getting my hopes up that it’s a “sign” that they’re going to make an offer to me, but I know Alison has said about 900 times not to take anything as an indication you’ll be getting an offer except an *actual offer* itself. So I should just ignore this, right?

    1. Mean Something*

      If they started mentioning it at the phone screening, then yes, they probably say it to everyone. They’ve probably been burned before. Good luck, though!

    2. Today's anon*

      We say something similar repeatedly to emphasize that our process is very long and bureaucratic and there are many aspects that are out of the hiring person’s hand. Candidates have trouble hearing this or can’t believe the process takes as long as it does but it really does.

      1. Ollie*

        That makes sense. They did me the process would be long and bureaucratic, so I assumed I wouldn’t hear back from them for months. (I was surprised to find out they’re actually making a decision in a week or two.)

  45. voluptuousfire*

    I started using a bullet point cover letter with my applications and it seems to be garnering a good response rate. I have a phone interview later this morning for a position that seems pretty tailor made for me: an HR admin in ed tech. I’ve worked in education in the past and loved the environment. I can also see myself working in HR and this would be a great first step.

    I’m also slightly further along in the interview process with another company but this ed tech role sounds great. After reading the HR lady’s Linkedn, it seems like we would get along very well (the woman I’m screening with would be my boss). The only fly in the ointment is that I interviewed for a temp gig that would start most likely Tuesday and would last until the end of August. If I didn’t have anything else in the pipeline (or something less favorable), I wouldn’t hesitate in taking it. The interview was brief and the contact who interviewed me really seemed to like me and I’m only up against one other person. Unless the other candidate was a dark horse, chances are I’ll be offered the gig later this afternoon. I’m really hesitant to accept it, especially since the pay hasn’t been settled yet. I just completed a successful temp gig and was glad to have the opportunity to reestablish myself but I’m not sure I want to proceed directly into another gig. Like I said, if I had no or less appealing options, I wouldn’t hesitate to accept it. I’d really like to see how these two roles pan out. But again, quitting a temp job isn’t the end of the world. I’m also slightly worried about accepting and quitting so quickly, potentially causing damage to my relationship with the agency and them with their client. I’ve been lucky with this agency so far and if the two other roles didn’t work out, I don’t want to have to go through finding another agency to get me work.

    1. voluptuousfire*

      OK, phone screen went well but won’t know the results for another 10 days at least. So maybe I will take the temp gig if the money’s right.

    2. What was that?*

      Agencies are usually aware that you’d prefer full-time, permanent employment. You shouldn’t worry about upsetting either the company that is the temp assignment or the agency because most people would prefer not to be temps.

  46. some1*

    What do you think annoys IT people more, installing Google Chrome or streaming music? Discuss.

    1. Natalie*

      Amusingly, I originally downloaded Chrome because I wanted to stream music. (I couldn’t install Flash Player and Chrome has it built in.) Years later, my IT department has finally come around to accepting that IE sucks and now Chrome comes standard on all of our machines.

    2. cuppa*

      My IT person told me to install Chrome, so I’m going with streaming music. But, I’ve done both.

    3. ThursdaysGeek*

      Streaming music, because we have limited bandwidth (as I post this using Chrome, which I installed with their permission).

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        I want to say that you have had bad IT management, but actually, you can manage/lock out IE’s policies (settings/permissions) on a domain (company network), and you can’t do that with Chrome. If you have users that are constantly deleting system files or downloading viruses, I could see IT management preferring IE.

        1. Natalie*

          I’m not sure that’s still true. My office Chrome has a whole bunch of permissions locked out, and I can’t download extensions.

          1. The Cosmic Avenger*

            Oooh, I’ll have to look into that! It’s not really my area, but people sometimes ask my feedback on stuff like that. It might provide me with some ammunition! :D

            1. Natalie*

              I suspect that’s why my IT department was finally willing to let us have Chrome standard.

    4. Ad Astra*

      IT downloaded Chrome for me at my request after I asked my boss and he ran it past, like, three other people. It makes me feel kind of sneaky and special to have a browser that works while everyone else is stuck using IE.

      IT did not, however, share their opinions about this.

    5. GigglyPuff*

      Where I work everyone has downloaded Chrome, but due to admin rights, we don’t have permission to change preference files, meaning can’t get rid of auto-fill, etc…pain in the @ss

    6. another IT manager*

      Now that I have enough bandwidth, I don’t really care about streaming. And Chrome updates itself, so less work for me.

      Right now, our HRIS that needs Java to do payroll pains me the most. (Java wants to be updated about once a week. And the browsers won’t run outdated versions anymore.)

    7. Elizabeth West*

      We can put Chrome on our machines, but we’re only allowed to stream Pandora (GACK), so I’d say music. I stream my soundtrack site over my phone when there’s something I want to listen to, which means I have to queue-stalk all day. I can’t stream all day because it would eat up my data.

      1. Stephanie*

        Former fed. (Left in 2010.) We had IE 6 (I think), the entire time I was there. I fantasized about having a browser with tabs.

        My friend at another agency was stuck with Lotus Notes. We did at least use Outlook at my agency.

        1. TheLazyB*

          I am sure that it won’t surprise anyone to hear we had Lotus Notes with our IE6. In fact that’s been my email from 2004 to ealry 2015. So glad to have started a new job with outlook!

    8. GreatLakesGal*


      One person downloads it and suddenly it’s the insidious default browser on everyon’s desktop— but Chrome doesn’t play nicely with our top two or three applications.

      And then the IT help desk is flooded with urgent requests from multiple users who don’t know that the reason they can’t save any of their work, can’t complete documents or submit billing, etc is that they’re using Chrome.

      the person in the office that people ask for help when they are on hold with IT.

    9. Windchime*

      Streaming music, apparently, since it’s not allowed at our workplace. It’s blocked. When too many people are streaming, it slows down business-related traffic to an unacceptable level. So those of us who want to stream need to do it over our phones. We are allowed to use the guest wifi to do it, though.

  47. Meganly*

    I am going to go insane. It feels like for the past two months, every single engineer I work with has banded together with a commitment to completely ignore all of my emails and calls. I should be super overloaded with work, but because no one is getting back to me, I’m sitting here twiddling my thumbs and having no billable time.

    Any advice on how to not be obnoxious when you are harassing someone for information they should have given you two weeks ago for the umpteenth time?

    1. Colette*

      Can you walk over and ask?

      If not, I’d escalate – either to your manager or their manager. (“hi Sue, I haven’t received the TPS reports I’ve requested from Fred, and it occurred to me that he might be out. Is there someone else who can help?”)

    2. Malissa*

      Find them in person and ask. Do this enough they’ll start answering emails. I had to employ this tactic with a former coworker who used to ignore calls, emails and instant messages when I needed her to do her job so I could do mine. I had to go camp in her office a few times before she got the hint that it really would be easier to just respond to my initial request in a timely manner.

      1. Thinking out loud*

        +1. I had to go to another office sometimes, and I’d just cheerfully say, “Hey, I was in your area and decided I’d so by to see if you had comments on my teapot design. If you haven’t looked at it yet, I can wait/come back in half an hour (depending on how long I thought it would take to do it). Don’t give them long enough to procrastinate, though – the trick is to make them do it immediately.

    3. AnotherFed*

      How clear have you been about what you want them to do, when you need it done by, and why you need it/why it’s important? If you’ve consistently been clear about that, but haven’t been getting responses and haven’t taken action, it’s going to be hard to recover and get people to start paying attention again.

      Going to people in person is a good start, but you’ll also be better off if you can explain what the impact is (and why they care about the impact) of not doing whatever it was you needed. Explain what you need for everything to get back on track, and don’t let them off the hook on failing to deliver by softening your language or implying that it’s no big deal.

      If it still continues, go to your manager – if you can’t do billable work because other people aren’t being responsive, that’s an important thing for them to know, and they have more ability to resolve things like staffing problems or other people’s priorities.

  48. louise*

    I feel overwhelmed.

    I started a new department (of one, so no reports) and came out of the gate super gung ho. Got a lot accomplished the first 3 months. Since then, I’m left with some really large projects I haven’t made good headway on and tons of little details I struggle to keep up with. I feel like more of a sprinter at work than a marathon runner. I did so much early on, but I can’t keep up that pace.

    I’m now one year in and wonder if some of what I’m feeling is perfectly normal for the stage I’m in or if I’ve established some bad habits that have me in this overwhelmed rut.

    College was 10 years ago, but I used to get this feeling every semester, about halfway through. I’d look at the syllabus, decide not to worry about a few assignments, and just take my lower grade. It doesn’t work like that in the workplace.

    I can’t figure out if the workload really is too much or if I am inefficient—or perhaps a combination. I know I waste a lot of time on lower priority tasks (like reading industry related news/articles/etc). The more overwhelmed I get, the more I do that and the more I get behind and more stressed.

    I don’t even know what my question is, just looking for ideas and encouragement, I guess.

    1. alice*

      I imagine not having coworkers in your department is contributing (just having some energy associated with your work helps). If you set up some goals with a time frame at the beginning of a new project, would that help? Then you can pace yourself.

      I do think this is normal (it is for me anyway). I get bored kind of easily, but talking to other people in the office and having good communication with my boss is what works for me.

      1. louise*

        A good reminder about communication with the boss — I’ll try to put together a couple things I think are going well and a couple things I feel stuck on and have a chat with him. Seeing if he’s pleased with the direction of things may be the shot in the arm I need for a couple projects.

    2. fposte*

      Some of this may be the end of the honeymoon period, some of this may be working style, some of this may be something like ADHD or anxiety; if you’ve never talked to a doctor about it it might be worth doing.

      That being said, I’m a sprinter masquerading as a stayer. I’ve worked long enough to know how my energy levels function and know how to break my work up into achievable tasks. Be as granular as you possibly can–for me even “Open the relevant document” counts. The reason I mentioned anxiety as a possible thing is that I think that’s pretty common with the “feeling overwhelmed and doing piddly stuff” instead syndrome–your brain is firing too much to make the executive decisions about “do this first and you know it’s done when it’s X” stuff. I suspect what might be happening is the avoidant behavior starts to snowball, and your brain decides it would rather fail by omission than commission. I also find it weirdly successful to talk myself through, sometimes even out loud, the task I need to do and the reason for my resistance to it. “I don’t want to work on the grant abstract, because it makes me feel vulnerable and uncertain, I have to keep mustering energy to write every sentence, and I’m afraid I’ll write it badly and look stupid to the peers I have to show it to.” “Okay, but you can just open the document and write an ugly sentence. That will be a success!” Celebrate every freaking little success, at least for a while.

      Make task lists; make weekly time-tables for what you’ll focus on; create systems that will guide you when your brain doesn’t feel up to the executive prioritizing decisions. I have daily and weekly task lists and a timetable, and I’m always working on additional structures.

      1. louise*

        Oh, fposte. Thank you. You’re my next favorite after Alison. Will you do a career advice blog too? Instead of Ask A Manager (though you may be one, I don’t know), it could be Ask The Cool Aunt (or Uncle; I don’t know) Who Always Talks You Down Off That Cliff.

        The world needs more of your actionable wisdom, is what I’m trying to say.

        Yes to anxiety. I don’t think the medication I’m on is meeting my needs anymore, but it’s too scary to talk to my dr about making any changes there. I’ve got some great books (which I started but never finished…) to help me explore some of the ways that impacts my day-to-day approach to tasks, both work related and domestic. I struggle in both.

        I like your bite-sized approach. I’ll give that a try. First up: Submit this comment. Close out of AAM until afternoon snack break. Open the insurance document and FOR GOODNESS SAKE, TYPE A FEW LINES, ALREADY.

        1. fposte*

          Heh. Thanks. I’ve learned a ton from reading here, that’s for sure.

          Computer stuff can help as well as hurt, too: LeechBlock and StayFocusd and their ilk can cut you off of distracty sites, and if you suffer from stuck-in-the-chairness, something like Mindful Mynah can help tip the balance between stasis and movement.

      2. catsAreCool*

        fposte is one of my favorite commenters, too.

        Sometimes I find that listening to music, especially jazz without vocals helps distract my mind away from the “What if I can’t do it?” thoughts.

    3. NacSacJack*

      A former project lead would tell me to treat big assigments like eating a big whatever. One little bit at a time. Break your big tasks down into smaller bites. Use that to gear up your sprinter mode. Unfortunatly businesses expect us to maintain a steady keel with no ups and downs while business itself goes fast/slow/fast/faster/slow/oh my gosh turtle/slow/hurry up and wait. And wonder why we aren’t steady.

  49. Anony-moose*

    How do you know when it’s time to switch careers?

    I’m 28 and have been in nonprofit fundraising for about five years. I have loved it, but over the past year have steadily fallen out of love with it.

    I’m struggling with whether I’m responding to a not-great situation at work (which I’ve been hashing out with my partner and therapist ad nauseam) or truly ready to move on. And then of course the thought of moving on is also terrifying.

    So – how do you know when it might be time to move on?

    And how the hell do you switch from a Development job? What do I do? Have any of you switched from fundraising to…to what?

    1. OriginalYup*

      Picture yourself doing Development at a different organization, one that is filled with smart wonderful people who respect and value your work. Your pay is good, your commute/office/quality of life/etc are good. It’s a successful organization that has a great mission and a deep reserve of committed sane supporters ready to be cultivated as major donors.

      Do you feel lighter, happier, or more energized?

      If yes, you’re probably fine with Development work as a whole and just not loving your current job.
      If no, you might be ready to move into a different type of work. And I think there’s plenty of places you could do, depending on your skills and interests — grant writing, marketing, project finance, etc.

      1. Anony-moose*

        “Picture yourself doing Development at a different organization, one that is filled with smart wonderful people who respect and value your work. Your pay is good, your commute/office/quality of life/etc are good. It’s a successful organization that has a great mission and a deep reserve of committed sane supporters ready to be cultivated as major donors.”

        I love this. And I now feel like “nope, don’t want to fundraise.” Which is a big, scary realization!

        I’m drawn towards marketing. But I think I want to leave the nonprofit world altogether, which is another layer of “what the eff am I doing with my life!?”

        1. OriginalYup*

          Well, the job world is a wide field. There are big corporate-like nonprofits that are practically conglomerates and there are small social enterprise businesses that are very cause-focused. If you start looking around with lens for marketing-affiliated positions, you might start to see a pattern in the ones that appeal you. It might be less about the sector and more about some other factor — level of interaction or autonomy, a specific sub industry or field, working 9-5 hours at a desk versus not, crossover with creative fields like graphic design, etc.

          1. moose*

            I think this is really true. I’m getting pretty exhausted by the politics of fundraising and working with boards. I’m also fatigued by the 9-5 and am longing for some more flexibility. (We have flex time but it’s a joke and negotiating a different schedule is near impossible)

            I’m thinking about consulting. I really like the strategy around fundraising and get abnormally excited by a good gift table and annual plan. I don’t like working with boards. The dysfunction I’m experiencing in every small shop is grinding.

            And I love marketing and writing. My sid gig of freelance writing (and running my newly launched blog ABOUT freelance writing) gets my juices flowing. I’m hoping I can somehow find a link between marketing/content marketing/fundraising/consulting.

        2. Julia*

          I’m in a similar situation, although I work in a niche field within fundraising. I’m in the process of moving, changing fields, AND changing industries. Hoo boy. (I have seasonal depression, so I truly need to leave my northern city before the winter if I want to be a person all year long.)

          The thing that has helped me the most has been talking to people who actually do the things I want to explore (ie, going on informational interviews or having more informal chats with friends). So far, this has helped me weed out some types of roles and also gather more information about the ones I’m still interested in.

          Another thing that has helped is re-writing my story. What I mean is that I’ve looked at my work history from a few new angles and experimented with emphasizing different parts of my work. One thing that was a big help in this regard was sitting down with a friend who worked in a field I was interested in, describing some of the things I’ve done, and having her tell me how she would write about those things in her industry’s jargon. I didn’t use all of her exact language in my resume, but it was a helpful start. Looking at job descriptions has also helped me work on translating my work into the context of the new field, and so has talking to people in the informational interviews. I’ve experimented with how I describe my job to people when they ask me what I do (even at parties), since my field is kind of obscure and hard to sum up briefly in a way that makes sense to people. I’ve run things by a lot of people to avoid unintelligible fundraising jargon! Rewriting my story has been a long process and I’m still figuring out ways to do it better.

          Another thing that has helped has been going to meetups related to my new industry. I want to work at a startup, so Code for America has been a great start because it’s a great opportunity to actually try some of the things I want to work on in real life. If I were less burnt out by my current job, I’d probably try to volunteer or intern with a startup in my spare time to get experience. People like hearing about this, and also it gives me a chance to network and show commitment to the new industry.

          I think well through writing, so journaling has helped me, too. I’ve gotten a lot out of writing and talking about what I’ve enjoyed about past jobs, what has felt rewarding, what is different about my current job that feels less rewarding, how I like to work, how I’ve felt about different team structures/working environments, what my strengths are, what makes me feel most alive, what makes me feel most focused, etc etc etc. I loved a recent comment or post about the idea of “what you can’t not do” (aka what do you always end up doing, regardless of what your actual role is).

          I still feel overwhelmed by the career change process and stressed out about reaching out to people…BUT I am way more afraid of staying where I am than I am of leaving. I’m not learning anymore and I’m not doing good enough work to meet my own standards, plus I’m a basically a zombie from November to March. I’ve been talking about leaving for way too long and I’m afraid of what it would mean if I were still here next year. Because of all this…I’m planning to break a great big rule and leave my job without another one lined up if I haven’t found anything by the end of the summer so that I can move to my new city to job search. Yikes. (Feel a little better about your own potential career change now??? :) )

    2. Lia*

      I moved from development work to research/stats/analysis work in higher education. I know a number of people who have made the jump to doing that sort of work on the for-profit side, and often with attendant pay bumps.

      It can be a hard read to see if it is the tasks you’re doing, the environment, the organization, or some combo of those that isn’t working for you. Sometimes it’s all of the above, sometimes it is parts of them, or just one.

      1. moose*

        “It can be a hard read to see if it is the tasks you’re doing, the environment, the organization, or some combo of those that isn’t working for you. Sometimes it’s all of the above, sometimes it is parts of them, or just one.”

        This is how I’m feeling. I’m having a hard time trusting myself. I’m a bit in Bitch Eating Crackers mode with my team which doesn’t help. But it’s taken all the excitement out of my work and made me realize that maybe it’s ok to not love fundraising anymore.

      1. moose*

        +1,000,000. But I’ve only been here for 9 months so I’m sort of cautiously laying the groundwork for my next steps.

  50. Jennifer*

    Oh, and while I’m at it, yesterday’s special moments from the meeting:
    (a) we don’t qualify to be allowed to have a “panic button” because “we don’t deal with money.” Uh, yes we do, we just don’t deal with ONLY money.
    (b) after having yet another meeting in which we’re told that everyone’s going to be coming in here shitting bricks about money again next week–well, they already were this week and I had several occasions when we had no managers in the office and had to turn people away saying to come back later. I asked essentially, do you have to schedule the manager’s meeting during public hours, and the answer was, “Well, it’s always been scheduled for then as long as I’ve been here.” Uh, aren’t you high up enough that you could perhaps reschedule it? It’s not carved in stone in Outlook, is it? I love how they tell everyone to ask questions and make a big deal about how there’s always supposed to be a manager on call, and then there isn’t.

    1. Jennifer*

      Oh, and I just found out we will have NO managers again for the entire morning, because “I have to go to a horse recital.” Greaaaaaaaaaat. They’ll throw me on the phones to the wolves, people will be asking financial questions, and we’ll have no managers who can actually answer anything. God, I wish there was some way to get them to hire more people, especially since supposedly budgets aren’t nearly as horrible any more.

        1. fposte*

          I’m guessing it’s kids in a school horse show, but I like the idea that it’s kind of an official field day for all the Mr. Eds.

        2. AVP*

          I envisioned one of those shows with the horses that dance sideways. Do they still have those?

  51. Ihmmy*

    we have a new hire, just temporary while someone is away for medical leave. She’s young but super excited to be here and so far rather awesome. But, sometimes her dress seems a little less professional than the rest of the office. I’m not sure if it’s legit or if I’m just seeing it that way because she’s very pretty and very skinny and very young. Anyway, it’s not against dress code here, but I could see it being a potential issue depending on where she ends up. I’m just a coworker technically but will be helping her learn this job – should I say anything? How do I say something without being all body-shaming or negative about her?

    1. OriginalEmma*

      If she were a new coworker who was not very prety, not very skinny and not very young, would you notice it? Would you mention it? That might be your answer.

    2. Anie*

      I’ve recently been lectured about young employees and their outfits. Apparently, you need to be aware that someone just out of high school or college may understand what the dress code is, but not be able to afford more than one of two key pieces.

      But I feel it’s equally possible that their oblivious!

      1. Colette*

        I don’t see how that matters, though. If they’re not meeting the dress code, figuring out how to buy or borrow appropriate clothes is their responsibility.

        1. Sadsack*

          She is meeting the dress code, just not dressing as professionally as the rest of the office. OP didn’t explain if that means everyone else wears blazers and the coworker wears a cardigan or what. I think it all depends on what exactly is bugging OP.

          1. Ihmmy*

            mostly she’s showing notably more skin than most of us do here. But part of that I suspect is just that she’s so tall and lean, clothing fit may be an issue (I am short and wide and I get that fit can be an issue). Yesterday she had a skirt that was mid thigh on her, but on someone my height would have been knee length.

            I think I’ll let it sit for now and address it if I see more of a trend as time progresses. If I do bring it up it’ll be as just a tip, not a serious talking to or anything. Thank you all for the replies!

            1. What was that?*

              If her boss hasn’t said anything then it’s not a problem. I would classify this as NYB.

    3. some1*

      Either someone is dressed professionally enough or they aren’t – age, size, and level of attractiveness doesn’t matter.

      1. Sadsack*

        Yeah, especially since the coworker is dressed according to the current dress code. I don’t see why anything should be said to her about her clothes, unless she asks for advice.

        1. Sunshine Brite*

          This. There was all kinds of going around at my last job nitpicking whether so and so or so and so met the dress code, people were talked to, etc. It completely devolved. When it was just cut or dry, does it meet or doesn’t it vs pulling in only people that were young and attractive vs larger vs older, etc. Sounds like she meets dress code so I’d set it down for now.

    4. Natalie*

      It’s definitely not out of the question that someone’s looks, attitude, or personality can affect the way we view them, and that can sometimes be counteracted with clothing. We’ve talked about that here before in regards to people who are very petite or look very young. So one way to frame it might be “you’re not doing anything wrong, but here are some strategies to appear even more confident/professional/experienced/etc.”

      That said, I would definitely spend a little time identifying exactly what you’re noticing. I think that will help you in two ways. You will spend a little more time observing the actual behavior and determine if it really is the clothes, or something else. Maybe it’s her personality, as you say she is super excited? Secondly, if and when you do give her this feedback, you can tell her things that are specific and actionable. That’s much less anxiety-inducing than some vague “you could dress more professionally”.

    5. fposte*

      I agree with the idea that you should figure out exactly what difference is that you’re seeing. And if you talk to her, I would frame it as something she might find of interest if she wants to grow in her career rather than a comment about what she should be wearing now, because it doesn’t sound like it is a current problem. It can also be helpful to point her at somebody, maybe not even you, as a model–“you see how Lucinda always has a belt or cardigan over her summer knit dresses?”

      I think this is something most of us go through when we start working, and it’s helpful to have somebody give us some suggestions for the future. Talk in the vein of this being something you’re glad you had some help in or wish you had some help in yourself.

  52. Anonymous Fed*

    Does anyone have good suggestions for when your boss gives you feedback that is demonstrably factually incorrect and then hammers you for being resistant/difficult about feedback? I’ve tried acknowledging the feedback, saying it surprised me, and saying I’ll keep an eye on it going forward, but I’m at a loss.

    1. Katie the Fed*

      I think it depends on the context of the feedback. Does it REALLY matter? Like, is it part of an adverse action or a bad appraisal? Or is it just something the boss said in passing? If it doesn’t have teeth to it in the form of an adverse action I would ask for specific examples, then just pretty much say “ok, got it.”

      I’ve had bosses who form snap judgements about people and never really move past them. Those are difficult – it’s like when I was a kid and didn’t finish sodas usually, my mom TO THIS DAY insists that I don’t finish sodas. Um, it’s been 25+ years, mom. Move on. But there’s no point arguing with her because it doesn’t matter that much.

      1. Windchime*

        My mom still considers me a blonde because I was from ages 0 – 2. I’m in my early 50’s now.

    2. ACA*

      My husband (also a federal employee) gets this a lot. He usually says, “Oh, has there been a change in policy? Because in the manual/guidelines/policy handbook it says ____.” And then he includes a screenshot for proof.

      But he kind of enjoys being a troublemaker like that, so this may or may not be a solution for you.

      1. What was that?*

        This is me. I usually say, “ok, but according to XYZ, this was incorrect. Was there a change that I’m not aware of?”

        That usually stops it.

    3. AnotherFed*

      Pick your battles! Also, is it possible that even when you’re accepting the feedback, your tone or facial expression is sending a mixed message? If you’re visibly gritting your teeth to hold in an argument about why the feedback is demonstrably factually incorrect, your boss could be reacting to that.

      One strategy for feedback (if you can manage the innocent/genuinely open expression and tone) is to acknowledge the results were not as good as you’d like and ask for advice on how you could have handled it better. This can give you a clue if there was some way you would have been expected to deal with extenuating circumstances/factual changes/whatever led to you getting negative feedback (and sometimes the answer is something super helpful like be psychic). Your boss probably isn’t going to suddenly admit he was wrong if he realizes it based on your question, but hey, sometimes miracles do happen.

    4. misspiggy*

      You could try to work out what the boss is really unhappy about – but feels she can’t say outright, or isn’t thinking clearly enough to articulate. If that doesn’t get you anywhere, try to investigate how she has been misled. How could she have formed the impression something was wrong, even if it wasn’t? These lines of inquiry may lead you to realise that a) your boss is a jerk, b) she is getting incorrect information from somewhere, or c) she has a valid concern. Useful information in any case.

  53. Steve G*

    I read the racist tweets posts when I got home at midnight after the posts died down, so didn’t comment there, but I was slightly taken aback about one commenters’ disdain for coworkers not speaking up when their coworkers heard another coworker say something: “I admit I did not look at those coworkers the same during the rest of my time there.”

    First of all, many of us have bad experiences of going to management and HR with issues and have been either dismissed, treated like they are exaggerating/making stuff up, or told to MYOB. Second, not everyone has an HR or manager to go to. I had two contract jobs for a year, and all I had was an ADP type mailbox for payment/PTO issues. Issues with your coworkers though? Suck it up was the attitude. Third, a lot of people have major things going on in their lives and need to ignore stupid talk going on around them and try very hard to focus just to get through the day. Your coworker may be dealing with income/financial issues, a chronic illness, insomnia, alcoholism, drug abuse, spousal abuse, burnout from taking care of an elderly person.

    Unless your management creates some sort of open door policy where people feel company reporting incidences, you can’t be mad at your coworkers for not doing so, and in the case of the comment I am referring to, that poster’s boss gave people “talking tos” for not speaking up, but apparently didn’t have an open door policy because the poster thought they were going to get fired for speaking up. So it’s pretty crappy of said boss for putting his employees in a sort of damned-if-you-do damned-if-you-don’t situation.

    1. some1*

      You’re…pretty defensive about a situation that didn’t involve you. Finding things out about coworkers changes people’s opinions all the time. And fwiw, I thought the poster thought she might be getting fired because she was sent home, and that’s not an unreasonable response.

      1. Laurel Gray*

        Some1, if he is talking about the post I made, you are exactly right.

        Steve G, I respect your opinion and previous experiences but I will agree that you do seem pretty defensive about this. The work environment where I had the racist coworker was a typical corporate culture with hierarchies and multiple departments including in-house general counsel. There was an open door policy. These people definitely had multiple places to go to report this coworker if they really felt that what she was saying was horrible. The same way a coworker can throw you under the bus when errors are made and over time your perception of their competence and professionalism changes, this issue changed mine. I don’t agree that burn out or financial hardship or a sick relative is excuse enough for most to tolerate racist hate speech at work.

        There is privilege in being able to “ignore stupid talk” particularly when that talk is racist and homophobic and isn’t directed at you. As a black person, I do assume that anyone that hates Jewish people enough to say very disgusting things at work (with a CEO whose name ends in -berg!!!) probably could do without my black ass being there too.

        1. Steve G*

          Hi, thanks for a response, I don’t get defensive about these things in real life but yes, there is something about reading them online that does get my blood pressure up, yes. I think its because after reading all of the comments, I’ve seen a couple of the same arguments come up a few times, with little “meeting of the minds” where someone says “I see your point” (racism aside, there were some other discussions about online privacy or mob mentality or freedom of speech). I just don’t think someone should be mad at their coworkers for not reporting speech, because not reporting doesn’t = accepting, it’s just that a lot of people have had bad experiences going to managers/HR about stuff for various reasons.

          1. Laurel Gray*

            Steve, for what it’s worth, that incident happened over a decade ago and those coworkers admit that racist coworker had been spewing her nonsense for years. I had only been there a few weeks at the time of the incident. Knowing that coworkers sat around listening to racist speech (that I don’t believe they agreed with) but chose to say nothing for years was disturbing and did change my opinion of them. Did it stop me from continuing to collaborate and respect these people in the workplace? Absolutely not.

            1. Steve G*

              Oh OK, I pictures it differently now, but BTW, how do you go on about that for years? Perhaps a rhetorical question. I keep picturing these racist-coworker scenarios as one off things, or one-off bad jokes, I don’t know how someone keeps getting material to go on and on about a bias. I had one coworker who had a homophobic moment once but I ignored it and it never happened again. The guy was good-looking and thought every gay guy was hitting on him (in NYC so this could happen quite often) so had to make it known how he doesn’t like gays, isn’t comfortable around them blah blah blah. I rolled my eyes in my head (because he had a thing for making long speeches about random topics when everyone was busy) but later got pissed because I thought he might have been talking indirectly at me, and then was confused, because he was the one who cornered me and talked at me for 1/2 an hour at a time, not the other way around. So the next time he talked at me in length about non-work related items, I made a point of not looking at him lest he feel uncomfortable (sigh, eye roll in head). That was my only real experience with “hate speech.”

              1. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

                If you think people can’t go on with constant racist speech for years, you should meet my father in law. It’s remarkable how much of his life he spends being overtly racist. Asking him to stop makes him louder. And he lived in a place where it would not have been hard at all to get away with this at work.

  54. ACA*

    I have a job interview on Monday! It was the most informal interview request I’ve ever gotten (“Thanks for submitting your application materials for this position. When would you like to come talk with me?”), which is explained somewhat by the fact that 1) she’d already told me she’d be in touch to schedule an interview, and 2) she’s is someone I’m in regular contact with anyway because she’s covering the duties of the open position.

    I’d also interviewed with her last year (I made it to the second round, but didn’t get the job), so we’ll see how things go this time around. Interviewing with people you’ve already interviewed with can be…interesting.

  55. FurnitureLady*

    Anyone have experience with “personality tests”? I am one of three finalists for a director-level position and one of the steps is taking a “culture index quiz”. I’ve done that and they now want me to talk to the consultant who provides said test. I’m not really sure how to engage with this person or what they might be looking for.

    If it helps, I know this test as “PI” or Predictive Index, which is supposed to measure assertiveness, people orientation, level of detail and patience and come up with a personality profile. Ugh.

    1. NacSacJack*

      You’ll be surprised at the results if you get to see it. It’s more of a balance of what would you do?

    2. misspiggy*

      In theory the purpose of these discussions is ethical – you have the chance to get useful information about yourself, and to set the record straight if there has been a genuine error in the data or analysis. In practice the consultant is rarely willing to accept correction, and the employer will use the occasion as an opportunity to get further information about whether you seem resistant to feedback and so on.

      I would view this as a presentational interview, where you are trying to project the version of yourself that is most in harmony with what the employer wants. Also it may be a chance to find out what kind of person the employer wants, and decide whether you want to try and fit that profile.

  56. Sandy*

    Someone mentioned the other day that they would immediately harbour doubts about a candidate that emailed from their work email, since in their view this shows that they are not up on professional norma.

    I’ve totally been stewing over this all week. My contract at work states that our employer is required to give us time off during the work day for professional development, explicitly including job interviews in that.

    I’ve worked here ten years now and everybody makes use of that provision, including the higher-ups! But now I’m applying outside our organization, and wondering how many times someone has discounted my application since I used my work email…

    1. Graciosa*

      Well, if that happened, it happened in the past and there’s not much you can do about it. The good news is that you – unlike some of your competitors for any jobs to which you apply – are now aware of this and can take advantage of it. Just get a free email account with a professional sounding name and use it in the future.

      I understand that you are confident that your employer is comfortable with your use of your work email to apply for other jobs, but you can’t expect everyone else to know that. It isn’t the norm.

      So if you’ve been stewing over this all week because you feel you’ve been treated unfairly by other employers who discounted your application because of your use of work email, please stop. It wasn’t actually an unreasonable assumption (even if it was not true in your case) but more importantly, the angst is affecting you more than anyone else.

      1. Sandy*

        It’s more that I really had no idea that this was apparently such a *thing* until this week’s discussion.

        Guess I have outed myself as unfamiliar with professional norms! It can happen to us all…

        1. fposte*

          Unless I’m confusing you with somebody else, it also sounded like you might be in a specialized field with its own way of doing things (it was massively international, as a start), so it may not be as much of a thing there.

          1. misspiggy*

            That’s true – it wouldn’t be a thing at all in my field, also very international.

    2. Pleiades*

      I know, it’s been nagging me too, since I used my old work email address for one of my last job searches.

      HOWEVER, I was searching with the full knowledge and blessing of my boss/workplace – our budget had been deeply cut and we all needed to eventually find new positions. So, something like that could be the case….it was so with me!

  57. Jubilance*

    I have a question about working in consulting. Is it standard in the industry that if you aren’t on a client project (so “on the bench”) that you don’t get paid? I have an interview with a consulting firm and the reviews of the company note this can be an issue for some people. I’m trying to evaluate if this is unique to this company or just how all consulting firms work.

    It feels very much like a staffing firm & not a consulting firm to me, but maybe I’m just out of touch with how consulting works.

    1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      Management consulting? Definitely no. Being “on the beach” for long will endanger your job (i.e. if nobody wants to work with you they won’t keep you around) and definitely your bonus, but you should be getting paid your usual salary.

    2. Stephanie*

      That’s odd. I haven’t worked in management consulting, but a few friends have (some at the elite ones like McKinsey, some at more IT-focused ones like Accenture). All said they got paid for being on the bench. They did say it looked really bad to be on the bench for too long as it showed you weren’t being aggressive in finding new projects and/or no one wanted to work with you.

    3. Sarah in DC*

      This is definitely not how it works at the consulting firm that I work for (large corporation with multiple other divisions as well). While you are on the bench you are expected to be doing training, catching up on any admin work you have and working on proposals for new business while searching for a new project. Some people take vacation to protect their billable percentage, but definitely not unpaid leave.

    4. hermit crab*

      Oh wow, I’ve never heard of that. How does that even work, for people who are salaried/exempt? I work at a smallish consulting firm where, barring a huge workload emergency like a government shutdown or something, everyone’s on at least one project at all times, so the whole concept seems foreign to me. Also, I had a roommate once who worked for a big-name consulting firm. I was a little bitter because he was recruited right out of school, and he spent the first three months of his job sitting at his desk reading novels. He moaned a lot about how hard it was to adjust to the working world; I would have been much more sympathetic if he wasn’t getting paid, but as it was he was making 1.5 times as much as I was at the time, and he was still always too busy to clean up after himself around the apartment. :)

    5. Jubilance*

      Thanks all for confirming my thoughts! It was explained to me that this company (which was spun off from Deloitte) essentially pitches you to work at a client, and they try to keep you on projects, but if you aren’t on one then you aren’t paid. To me that sounds like a staffing firm who is placing people in temp positions, not a traditional consulting firm. I may pass on this opportunity because having an unreliable income isn’t something I’m interested in risking.

  58. mar*

    Hi all! Question for the commentariat: So, I just accepted a job offer at another company in a similar field after a wonderful, long run at my current place. I’m planning to give 3.5 weeks notice to my boss on Monday, and I’d love some advice about how to deliver the news. First-hand experience, moral support, and scripts would be highly appreciated!

    Challenge factors:
    -My former colleague just started at this company as well, so I have the sense that my boss will be angry and maybe feel betrayed
    -My boss is a good person but doesn’t always respect professional boundaries. When my colleague left she hassled him about how much they were paying him, constantly jokingly tried to convince him to stay…
    -We’re a small org and I’m the only one with specialized knowledge (fundraising) that’s going to create a gap for awhile. They can definitely find a replacement, but it will take time, and in the meantime there will be lots of deadline-critical work to move forward. I will do everything I can to complete deadlines for the next few months early, leave clear documentation and recommendations, but it will definitely be challenging for the org.
    -The new company invited me to a two-day conference during what would be the second week of my notice period, and realllly want me to go, but it just doesn’t feel right… so I’d love some gut checks on that. Would that be terrible to negotiate with my current employer?


    1. fposte*

      It sounds like you’ve taken into consideration what you need to, and you’re not leaving them in any uniquely difficult position–what you’re talking about is standard. I’d be kind but matter-of-fact: “I’ve loved my run here, but I’ve had an opportunity I just can’t pass up, so I’m taking a job elsewhere. I’m making arrangements for transition and will be able to say through July 15 to get things set up as much as possible.” I would be straightforward if asked where, because dancing around it or awkwardly admitting it credits the notion it’s A Thing. You can’t control if your boss is mad or feels betrayed, so just let that happen and be clear of where you are: “I know transitions are always tough, and I’ll do my best to make sure things are prepared for somebody new to step in.” (Note the subtle reminder that this is standard business practice there.)

      I’m with you on thinking you really can’t take two days out to do something for the new workplace; at a lot of workplaces, you wouldn’t be allowed time off during the notice period at all, and I’d observe the spirit of that even if the letter isn’t required.

    2. Development professional*

      Regarding your third point, would you be open to referring any contacts in your network to your boss who could be your replacement? Would you be willing to (as one of your wrap up projects in your remaining weeks) seek out potential candidates on LinkedIn or elsewhere who have the right skills and experience to replace you, who could become a list of people your boss could send the position announcement to? I did this once when leaving a job, and it went a long way toward building goodwill with my boss and the colleague who would be taking on my work in the interim until a replacement was hired. I don’t think they ended up seriously considering any of the people who I surfaced that way, but it was the thought that counted.

    3. misspiggy*

      On the conference thing, I’d say you can’t leave your current employer in the lurch and attend, but that if there are any after-hours sessions or social events for the conference, you’d love to attend those.

  59. Katie the Fed*

    I had to have a REALLY uncomfortable talk the other day with one of my teammates – her lack of initiative and difficulty in solving problems was driving all of her teammates (and leadership) crazy. And she’s very sensitive and seeks everyone’s approval. I had to hit the right tone between “this is a big deal and you need to work on this” and being so direct that she shut down completely.

    The good news is that it ultimately went well (after some tears) and I told her I’m confident in her skills but she needs to do these things. And she’s actually started to show some improvement, which is huge. So, fingers crossed it keeps working.

    1. Nanc*

      Congratulations! Neither party ever enjoys these tough conversations but it sounds like she listened to your concerns and wants to make it work–best possible outcome!

    2. ThursdaysGeek*

      Tell her you’re seeing those signs of improvement. It’s always nice to hear when you’re doing things right, or at least moving in that direction.

    3. Nervous Accountant*

      That’s great!!!! This sounds very very similar to what I experienced a few months ago at work and in fact you had posted a response to it as well. I’m glad it worked out for you.

  60. Anonasaurus Rex*

    So that job I posted about a couple weeks back, where a coworker was leaving and I was getting move into her position with a big bump in pay and stuff. Well she changed her mind. She had accepted the offer, she had even gone there, out of state, with her husband and started the process of buying a house that was still under construction and rent a townhouse to live in temporarily. Then earlier this week, with 2 weeks left to go until she was done, she just changes her mind. She un-accepts the offer, un-buys the house, and un-resigns.

    No new job for me. :(

    1. Carrie in Scotland*

      You can un-all of that? Really??

      I’m sorry anonasaurus rex, that sucks terribly. Shame on your company!

  61. Mallory Janis Ian*

    This is the first Friday in a long while I’ve had time to do more than just skim the open thread. I’m back at a university job and at the slowest part of the summer.

    I don’t have a question, just an update. Some of you may remember that after working as a department head’s assistant at the university for 8 years, I left to go to work for my department head at his private design firm as his office manager. It did not go well. I’ve always had a good working relationship with him, but it never did work between me and his wife, the other principal in the firm.

    I could tell within one week that, if I were going to last at the firm, I’d have to really work on communicating with her. I’ve never met anyone before that I couldn’t learn their communication style and adapt accordingly to work smoothly with them. She always communicated in emotional tirades and insults, though. She never acted like a professional, but more like a spoiled child. Then the guys at the firm told me that she had never wanted to hire me in the first place, and that my boss had convinced her, against her will, to do so because he just wanted to keep having an assistant. (It wasn’t me, personally, that she didn’t want to hire. She didn’t want to hire an admin at all; she had the next salary line earmarked for another designer. She is the financial/administrative principal, and he is the design principal, and she felt like he overruled her in what was supposed to be her area of control.) So I was off to a bad start with her before ever even going over there.

    Then, she was always jealous of anyone who had interaction with or got positive attention from her husband. Not just women — it wasn’t a man/woman thing that she was wary of. She would get jealous of the male employees, too, if they put forth an idea that her husband thought was a good one. It’s like she was threatened or felt like she was “less-than” if anyone else looked good in her husband’s eyes. Like he was supposed to have professional admiration for her alone. So she would always lash out at anyone who got any kind of positive professional attention from him.

    I only stayed there for 8 months. I finally realized that there was nothing I could do differently that would change the fact that she interacts with people in a toxic way. Most of the other guys in the office had been on the verge of quitting at one point or another because of the way she treats people, but they are designers working at a firm that wins a lot of design awards, so they stay for their careers. I realized that, hey, I’m not a designer — I don’t have to put up with this sh*t; I can be an assistant anywhere!

    So I applied back at the university, to a position that is a promotion from the one I left. It is still assisting a department head, but with a title bump and pay increase (because the business school is richer than the design school and has more salary lines for higher-level admin positions).

    I had a heart-wrenching, 45-minute exit meeting with my boss, who didn’t want me to leave, tried to convince me to stay, and asked me all kinds of questions about what went wrong. He knew I’d had tension with his wife, but he thought that he had successfully smoothed things out between us. In one of my last conversations with her, I could tell that he had talked to her, and that she was being temporarily conciliatory with me but that she resented the hell out of it. I knew it wouldn’t last.

    I meant to make it to at least the one-year mark, but I just couldn’t handle feeling like I was her target for any longer. The university typically tries to fill permanent positions for the upcoming fall semester in the late spring, so I jumped on the opportunity to get one of those jobs before it was too late.

    1. Nanc*

      It’s one of those cases where you’re choosing between you being happy or your boss being happy. You spent a lot of time and energy trying to make it work. You deserve to be the happy one.

    2. fposte*

      Joining others here–you’re absolutely making the right decision. You gave it the old college try, as my father would have said, and if you can find another position before you hit the year mark there’s nothing special about 12 months that would require you to stay. I’m glad you were able to get a pay bump going back to the university, too–allows you to be more philosophical about the whole thing.

      Former boss is really going to struggle with his wife sabotaging the assistants.

    3. Mallory Janis Ian*

      Thanks, y’all. I did think it probably reflected badly on me to have stayed such a short time, but I am happy now. And it does feel good to go back to the university with a promotion instead of slinking back laterally.

      I am curious to see whether the dynamic is any different for the new assistant. I could tell before I left that my boss had had a talk with his wife about me, and she was being grudgingly (and temporarily) nicer. I wonder whether she’ll be more civil with the new assistant, or if not, whether the new assistant will have a thicker skin that I did. Or maybe she’ll just be able to click with her and not be bothered at all.

      Here’s a thing that his wife did to me that was weird, though: I always opened all my boss’s mail at the university office; he never touched it himself unless I put it in front of him and called his attention to it. So at the private office, I accidentally opened his birthday card from his mother. I was used to seeing him get handwritten professional correspondence that looked similar (congratulations for appearing in a magazine, winning an award, etc. from colleagues in his professional network), so I didn’t think anything of it until I saw what it was. I wouldn’t have opened it if I’d realized it was personal personal vs. work personal. So I showed it to his wife and told her I’d mistakenly opened it, we sealed it back and put it on his desk, and she seemed fine.

      Well, about midnight that night, I got a long (six-paragraph) email from her, of the type referred to on trashy daytime TV as a “ho letter”. It was all about how she and hubby shared everything together, and I was nothing, and how dare I open his private mail from his mother, etc., etc. My last week at the job, I tried to retrieve that email to save for when I wanted to be incredulous again, but then I remembered that when I received it, I was so MAD that I (1) deleted it and (2) went into the deleted items folder and deleted it again.

      1. fposte*

        Yeah. Wife has issues. I wonder if a male assistant would receive the same treatment?

        1. Mallory Janis Ian*

          My replacement at his university office is a young man, and my boss has been on the verge of firing him. I think the new assistant needs a more regimented boss. I was already an experienced assistant when I started working for him, and he is not a boss for a beginner; he’s too high-maintenance and needs to be managed up, whereas the new assistant still needs managing himself.

          I don’t know if a male assistant would be better or not. It would remove the gender element from the equation, which I think is part of it, but not all of it. She gets jealous of the males in the office, too, if she thinks they’re coming between her and her husband in some way.

          tl;dr: Yeah, she has issues.

  62. Sunflower*

    What are your thoughts on getting a certification if you aren’t even sure you want to stay in your field? In 2 months I will be eligible to take my CMP (Certified Meeting Professional) Exam(you need x years of experience/degree to take the test) However, I’m really not sure I want to stay in this field. If a job comes up that I am really interested in- great. But I’d like to ideally make a move into project management- if not now, then soon. Likelihood of my company paying for the certification isn’t very high. I know a lot of people want to get into event planning so I’m thinking might distinguish me out from any old person who hangs a sign on their door saying ‘Beatrice Jones- Event Planner’. Also, I’ve been feeling kind of low lately and hoping to make a move to a new city and I’m wondering if this test could be an encouragement for me? Any other event planners on here would be esp helpful!

    1. HigherEd Admin*

      Event planner here!

      I’ve also been toying with the idea of taking my CMP, since I’m trying to switch fields and I think it might give me a professional edge. However — it’s expensive! I am not sure that the money is worth the fact that I’m not 100% sure it would actually give me an edge.

      The Exam itself cracks me up — all it does is say “yep, you’ve worked in event planning for X years, congrats!” Someone could just as easily see that from my resume and cover letter.

      I will be interested to hear what others think!

  63. Lily in NYC*

    I had my performance evaluation this morning but it was sprung on me and I didn’t have time to prepare. However, I quickly went to the “Alison archives in my brain” and used what I’ve learned here to ask for a bigger raise than the piddly 1% I get every year because I’m near the top of my salary range. It worked and I’m getting a very decent increase. Thank you, Alison!

    1. Lily in NYC*

      I forgot to mention that I have never asked for a raise, ever, so this was a big deal for me.

    2. Mallory Janis Ian*

      Huzzah!! for your raise.

      Being able to mentally access the “Alison archives” in a pinch is one of the great benefits of being a regular reader of this blog.

    3. fposte*

      And that’s a double score because it counts as a personal growth/doing something new moment, too. Congratulations.

      1. Lily in NYC*

        Thanks fposte – you are so right. I am happier about asking for the raise than I am about getting it (well I’m happy about both).

  64. Saltine*

    I have a coworker who seems intent on causing drama and a manager who prefers to keep out of things (we have a fairly flat hierarchy at a very small family company, >10 employees). There are a lot of complicating factors here which I will try to include, and I need advice on whether I am justified in being full on bitch eating crackers mode or whether I just need perspective.

    This coworker is insincerely amplifying concerns about a third person to the manager. The third person he does not like. I know he is insincere because I overheard him talking to another worker about “the act” he “put on” for the manager. While the issues are real, there’s no need for dramatics, and he picks out every error and takes it to the manager. Unfortunately management is not circumspect and often lets nuggets of irritation or criticism drop which the coworker picks up on and construes as approval to continue picking away at the offender.

    We also have an open office (ugh, I know) and he is often talking or whispering. He also has tics where he continually makes noises with his mouth, or the same jokes or comments every day. This is interspersed with periods of sullenness. I can also overhear him talking about others as mentioned above. I’ve said to him that I can hear him talking, but nothing has changed – in fact, I feel like he is now targeting me as well, as the whispering has increased, and he watches what I am doing on my computer screen. I’m efficient at my job, but also spend time on non-work websites as a brain break. I’m unwilling to change my habits due to what I see as a whisper campaign. There is no issue with my productivity or output, and no opportunity for me to advance (I’m casually looking for other jobs). I’ve been here for almost a decade and have a “work to live” attitude, although this is eroding in the face of this tiresomeness.

    Alison’s advice is always “Be direct!” (with a few exclusions) but as I’ve been passive in the past, and this office has a passive atmosphere (no evaluations, no direct criticism aside from passive aggressive remarks, feedback is not welcomed, defensive management) I am wondering how to be direct and effectively shutting down this drama manufacturing plant without increasing the bad behaviour. I have no official authority over this person and it’s unlikely I can enlist management in corrective techniques. Frankly I think he should be let go as it’s corrosive to the atmosphere, but as I said before, I’m in cracker-eating mode so take that with a grain of salt(ine).

    Complicating factors: I know he has a diagnosed mental condition (he got hired on here as an intern with a return-to-work placement program). I am not sure how much of this is him and how much is the disease, and I don’t think he has a lot of supports. Accommodation is a difficult thing and management here is not the proactive type to sit down and discuss strategies with him.

    So: how much of this can I do something about, and should I? Or is it as I suspect, my workplace sucks, and I need to leave?

    1. Saltine*

      To clarify: this is a blue-collar environment, in manufacturing. I work in the front office, they work in the back.

      1. Saltine*

        a second clarification: I err on the side of paranoid occasionally (I think people are whispering and laughing about me, for example) so his comments that I overhear about what I am doing could be a coincidence.

        Yeah, the more I write here, the more I see my answer is “your workplace sucks, I’m sorry, get a new job”. My partner also works here, which is a complicating factor, and due to the tiny nature of the company I have zero references without notifying the manager. Other people have tried to leave in the past and when the manager found out, they were treated with pity. I don’t want to be treated this way and would rather be able to make a clean break rather than “Oh Saltine applied elsewhere but I guess it didn’t work out”.

        My partner says it’s just work and that there’s no guarantee another job will be free of potential irritants.

    2. Sunshine Brite*

      You could say something, but it sounds like mental health problems to me and the manager needs to manage. Because your manager isn’t managing, your workplace sucks

    3. fposte*

      I think there’s also the middle ground of “How do I train myself to be less bothered by this?”, which I think is the main goal here.

      He sounds annoying, to be sure. But I think most of the drama manufacture is a different thing from the making noise at his desk thing. If he’s openly saying something to you or a group including you, say “I don’t think it’s that big a deal,” and change the subject, or just walk away. If he’s yapping at his desk, try to tune him out, whether by headphones or mental redirection. If he wants to watch your computer screen, let him watch–your approach is the “Who gives a damn?” shrug. Overall, do not accept the drama when it pushed at you. Let it plummet to the floor. You don’t care. (You haven’t mentioned whether any of your colleagues care or not, either–is it possible they just let him yammer and aren’t particularly worked up about any of this?)

      If the amount he talks while working is atypical–if it’s a problematic distraction for you and it would be regardless of what he talked about or whether it was somebody else–then I think you can directly ask for him to step outside if he’s having personal conversations, because it affects your productivity. Unless you’ve been enlisted to be alert to a particular need for accommodation that would prohibit that, that’s a perfectly reasonable request to a colleague regardless of any health issues he may have. And if he can’t or won’t comply with that request and he’s still making too much noise for you to work well, then you go to a manager about it.

      But I think some of this is that he’s hard to look away from, because he’s acting out of the office ordinary and your attention is drawn to him. So you training yourself to push his buzz to the background is likely to be key here, because it sounds like he may always be out of the office ordinary. In a small office, that might well be too distracting for you to work with, but that’s for you to say, and in the meantime it’s worth finding a better way to insulate yourself.

      1. Saltine*

        Thank you fposte. I plan on implementing your suggestions at the earliest opportunity – right now.

    4. NacSacJack*

      Can we stop using the b word in this space? If you want to be treated with equality and respect, stop using hateful language against yourself. Frankly I was taught never to use that word ever and never, with death threats attached, ever use it against someone of the female gender. Besides, I just dont get it. What does eating crackers have to do with your mood?

      1. Lily in NYC*

        “Bitch eating crackers” is a term that is hard to explain but I’ll try: it denotes when you hate someone so much that every little thing they do drives you nuts, even the innocuous things like eating crackers. It’s like you say to yourself about the person you hate: “would you look at that bitch eating crackers, hmph”. When all the person is doing is eating crackers but you just can’t stand them so even that is unbearable. It’s not really calling the person a bitch, it’s showing how you can’t control your emotions about this person and inflate everything to a ridiculous level.

      2. Saltine*

        I don’t disagree with you here, NatSacJack, but I’m using it here as shorthand amongst AAM commenters who are familiar with the complex emotional state it describes. I know you mean well, and as someone seeking advice, your reply seems a little harsh. I know what it means and consciously chose to use it, please respect my decision here to do so. The crowd here provides thoughtful, useful feedback – if you feel that this phrase should be phased out, perhaps we should start a new comment thread?

        1. Saltine*

          Also, I should apologize for not putting it in quotes, that would have made the phrase clearer as not of my own origin but a colloquial phrase.

  65. L*

    Two former boss questions.

    1. What do you do if you think you may have offended a friend/former boss. I have no clue what/how, but my former boss has been uncharacteristicly quiet and withdrawn. I’ve reached out here and there and am met with silence. Do I ask if I’ve done something?

    2. Thanks to AAM I realized that I didn’t handle my relationship with a former boss (during my employment) as well as I should have. She was difficult to work for, but I was probably a difficult employee to manage. She has some pull in my field, but I don’t use her as a reference. Should I reach out to her and try to apologize or acknowledge that I was a bit of a pain? Do I just leave it be. If I were to reach out, what the heck do I say??

    1. Nanc*

      Hmmm, are you trying to reconnect because you need her as a reference? If yes, when you reach out with the request I would list the things she helped you learn on the last job and try to subtly say that you realize you weren’t the easiest employee to manage. Something along the lines of “the biggest skill I learn from you was X and I appreciate how hard you worked to help me learn it, even though I was initially resistant to learning such a difficult skill.”

    2. fposte*

      In general, I think people shouldn’t ask if they’ve done something except maybe to spouses; it reads more as a request for reassurance than an attempt to repair. Did she give you any indication she was offended, and do you know what it was about? When you say “quiet and withdrawn,” do you mean in person or do you mean she’s not answering texts/emails/phone calls? Is there a reason you think it’s just you she’s not talking to?

      Most of the time this is just somebody who isn’t that interested in being social, or social with the person they’re not communicating with, and that’s something that you just have to respect and let go.

      1. L*

        It’s completely awkward! She’s just not answering which is the exact opposite of normal. I’m not sure, though the consulting ended sort of funky, so maybe I’m projecting.

  66. GOG11*

    I’m not sure if this falls into the work thread or the weekend thread, so feel free to delete, Alison, if this is in the wrong place.

    A few months ago, I took my boyfriend shopping to pick up some work clothes that were of a higher quality and better fit than what he had. Seeing how much of a difference that made for him, coupled with my recent discovery of the Konmari method, makes me want to spruce up my work wardrobe a bit, too.

    I’ve been looking at blogs like corporette and capitol hill. From what I’ve gleaned from those and from looking at higher ups where I work, I think I have a decent idea of what types of pieces are appropriate for my workplace. The hit-or-miss shopping I’ve done so far, and with a little help from my mom, I’ve figured out which cuts and types of clothes work for my body type.

    I’m delighted to have gotten a handle on those aspects, but when it comes to color, I’m really lost. Initially, I bought a bunch of neutral pieces, but then I realized that nothing but neutrals, at least the way I’m putting them together, looks blah and awkward. So then I gotten some brighter pieces (think turquoise, bright yellow, what google images tells me is “azure”), but they look weird to me unless I wear them with black or grey. Aside from that, I’d like to incorporate some more of the colors that look good on me, like jewel-toned stuff.

    TL;DR and my question: how do you find clothes that match? I do a good job finding individual pieces that are work appropriate and that fit my body type, but I can’t figure out what goes with what, mostly in terms of color. How do you know, in the store, whether or not something will match what you’ve got at home?

    1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      Maybe try looking at dresses that you like, and see what colors are combined on those? Then you can replicate those with the clothes that you want to wear.

      1. GOG11*

        This is a really good idea. I have one shirt that has lots of colors on it, but they are all from the same family (I don’t know what it’s called) and it looks nice. I don’t know why this hadn’t occurred to me. Thank you :)

    2. Kerry (Like the County in Ireland)*

      It’s really what looks good with your coloring, not what looks good together. You should be planning for overall harmony between your clothes and coloring. What are you using as your neutrals? You should really build a wardrobe around 2-4 base colors that everything looks good with. I buy a lot of green, dark gray, and black stuff and will pair it with various blues, coral, cream and pinks. Generally if you look and feel good in a color, you’ll look and feel good in other colors that coordinate with it.

      In Style has a column where they take the hot color of the month and pair it in some interesting ways with other colors. Go to the library and take a look at some back issues.

      1. Catherine in Canada*

        “It’s really what looks good with your coloring, not what looks good together….What are you using as your neutrals? You should really build a wardrobe around 2-4 base colors that everything looks good with. ”

        I have gradually built up a wardrobe of basic pieces in black, white, grey as neutrals and accessory/completer pieces in cranberry red, saffron yellow, persimmon orange and occasionally a teal-y green as brights/colours.

        I barely need to think when getting dressed in the morning. Which is a good thing because thinking isn’t happening much at O-dark hundred.

        1. GOG11*

          This is where I want to be.

          If I have pieces that I like, but that don’t go, do I get rid of those? Or can I try to bring them into the fold with pieces that bridge the gap? Do you rule things out based on color, even if you the all the rest about it?

          I have been thinking of dividing my non-neutral stuff into spring and summer (my brightly-colored stuff) and fall and winter (my olives, a “fire brick” ish red blouse, a dark grey dress with small accents of dusty rose and beige) and thinking of them as entirely separate entities. It’s really hard to find summer-weight stuff that’s in an autumn palette.

          1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

            Do you happen to be plus size? If so, check out Gwynnie Bee – it works like Netflix for clothing, so you can try out lots and lots of different styles/colors/etc.

            1. GOG11*

              I’m a size 4 or 6 in most stuff. I’ve seen their ads on facebook so many times and would love to try it, but I think they start at 10.

              1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

                Yeah, it does – and frankly the selection isn’t great below a size 16 or 14. But maybe you could try Le Tote, Stitch Fix, or Rent the Runway Unlimited instead? Not exactly the same model but might be fun anyway?

          2. Kerry (Like the County in Ireland)*

            1) Yes, you can keep stuff you like if you can come up with bridge pieces that also match other parts of the wardrobe. But if you can’t, you’ll have to let it go and if you give it to someone in a clothing swap or think how thrilled they’ll be at Goodwill, it will soften the regret.

            2)And yes, I have to rule things out based on color. I have pale skin, green eyes, and graying hair. There is no way I can make something bright yellow look good on me. The clothes are there to serve you, not the other way around.

        2. Student*

          How do you decide what looks good with “your coloring”? I have no idea how that works.

          1. Hannahhhhhh*

            Spend some time in a store that has decent lighting (or even better, natural light – look for windows), and good mirrors. Try on a wide range of colours, and notice how they make your skin, eyes and hair look. Ignore the shape/cut/fit etc of the items for this, just look how you look in that colour. You should start to find some colours that generally work well for you, some that definitely don’t, and some that are OK.

            Colours that work well on me make my blue eyes “pop”, my skin glow and look clear, and my hair looks bright and rich (it’s dyed deep purple with violet hightlights at present). Those that don’t suit me tend to make my eyes look dull, my skin look yellowish or greyish (hello tomato red, you make me look like a corpse!) and my hair look weird. I look really good in grey, purple, deep green, brown and teal. I look terrible in red-toned pink, orange-reds, yellows, tan and beige. Black, navy, white etc. are fine on me, but usually need perking up with colours that suit me better. I therefore stick to using no more than one piece in those colours, or using them in patterns with colours that are good on me.

            My best friend is terrible at this stuff. We went shopping last Sunday and she handed me this tomato red top that she thought would suit me – urk! I have tried to explain how I know that colour won’t work on me without trying on every item in it that I see, but she can’t seem to get it. 90% of her wardrobe is black, because she is scared of choosing colours.

          2. GOG11*

            I found what looks to be a pretty good start at figuring out what colors might look good on you at a blog called inside out style. I went through some of the articles/activities and agreed with what they suggested for colors for my features. Link to follow.

    3. L*

      Franish is another blogger who actually just did a series on how to build a cohesive wardrobe. I found it really helpful.

        1. Windchime*

          Also take a look at The Vivienne Files. The clothes that she features range from expensive to LL Bean and she has wonderful examples of what colors look good together and how to put together a wardrobe.

    4. Sadsack*

      I think I heard this on what not to wear years ago: It’s not that your outfit “matches,” it’s that it “goes.” Get it? Like putting different pastels together or different brights together. Also, like Victoria Nonprofit USA wrote, look at other single pieces that are multicolored. If I can wear a scarf that has a bunch of colors in it, why couldn’t I wear an outfit that combines those same colors? You absolutely can wear turquoise with yellow and tan, that’s tropical and the colors will really pop! You’ll look put together without being all matchy-matchy.

      1. GOG11*

        So more than one piece that’s a bright color (that isn’t the same bright color…) won’t overwhelm the outfit?

        When I see what others put together, sometimes I’m like, yeah, ok, I see that, but I don’t think I’d have gotten there myself. Other times, I have no idea how it matches, but apparently it’s considered an outfit.

        Me trying to match clothes is either (a) completely matching things (the blue in this shirt matches the blue in the sweater, bam, matches…matchy matchy…), (b) everything is black or grey and my shirt or sweater is a color, or (c) a complete and total guess. I think I lack color intuition or something.

        I’m not at all questioning your assessment of turquoise, yellow and tan, but where did you learn that they go together? How do you know that?

        1. afiendishthingy*

          Interesting question. For me it’s not a matter of having “learned” that colors go together, if it looks good then they go, if they look terrible then they don’t. And a lot of it is subjective. I like the suggestion of finding a multicolored piece that you like and then trying that color combination with other pieces. It seems to me like you’re overthinking it, but I guess it’s one of those things that comes easier for some people than others. I’m terrible at things like arranging furniture in an aesthetically pleasing way or most things involving good use of space, but it’s nice to think I have good color intuition!

        2. Sadsack*

          I agree with afiendishthingy about it coming easier to some than others. It does not come easy to me! It is easier now than it used to be, but I used to be just like you with the matching and wearing black or grey as my only neutral. I had a hard time accepting that navy is a neutral! Well guess what, so is tan. Part of my coming around on being a bit more daring with my outfit combinations really is due to having noticed some of the scarves I have. (When I say daring, beleieve me, I am not at all daring. I mean daring for me). I have some really pretty scarves, and they combine colors that I never would think to put together myself, but they work. So, why not wear separates in those color families together? Maybe start where you are comfortable. Wear a black and white dress or black pants/white top with a colored sweater instead of a black or white sweater. Wear a red belt with your navy pants and white shirt instead of a black or brown belt. These are examples of things that I used to fret over.

        3. fposte*

          And some of this learning is cultural–for a while black and brown couldn’t go together, and blue and green couldn’t go together (which always struck me as stupid, because hello, that’s the earth and sky), and then people said “Sure they do” and you started seeing those blends around. So getting your eye used to combinations by looking at fashion blogs and dresses (great suggestion!) can help a lot–your brain starts accepting coral and burgundy, say, as a regular thing it sees around together. You also don’t have to learn the whole concept of what every color looks good with–just learn some good possibilities for the colors you tend to like. (Blue and purple and black and gray could probably get me through an entire year.)

          Shoes can be a great way to slam some color in, too. I had some fun red heels that I’d wear with fairly neutral outfits.

          1. Snork Maiden*

            What fposte said – looking at lots of visual suggestions is a great idea. Then ask yourself what you like and don’t like – and why.

            (this process also works as an introduction to analyzing art, wine, literature, music…being able to explain *why* you like or don’t like something is a terrific skill. Everybody likes different things so being able to export your perspective is engaging and fun and can also tell you a lot about yourself!)

            1. Kerry (Like the County in Ireland)*

              And not just clothes, but paintings, home interior magazines, buildings, even just paint chip samples. Turquoise-yellow-tan say “hello, Miami!” to me.

    5. Kyrielle*

      Match your colors. Look up “Color Your Style” (which is a book, and which will claim that certain colors promote energy, etc. – I don’t buy that part but it gives a GREAT way to pick colors that match your skin, hair, and eyes).

      And when fall/winter colors come around, I’m hoping to reduce my pants to exactly two colors (a darkish brown, and a charcoal grey, in my case) so that I can vary the shirts and not worry about it. Right now, all the pants I can buy in the line that fits me best make me look like I ought to be sitting in a basket of easter eggs, which, uh, no.

    6. cuppa*

      This might be a “duh” note, but be sure you are wearing the clothes you want to coordinate when you shop for things. That way, you can see the colors together and make sure they go.

      1. GOG11*

        Brilliant! It’s actually not a duh moment for me. I usually pick something up and try to imagine what I have back home.

        I try to make sure what I buy goes with at least a few outfits and pieces I already have. If you can’t wear them all, do you bring them with you?

        1. Sadsack*

          I bet if you pick something that matches what you have on, you’ll get home and realize that it matches other stuff you forgot you have. It sounds like you already have a pretty good neutral base. Get something because you really like it, not because you have a minimum number of outfits that it will go with. Soon enough you’ll have a bunch of things that you like and you will start seeing how some different pieces can go well together.

        2. Kerry (Like the County in Ireland)*

          Oh yeah, bring it with you. When I worked retail we had people do it all the time. Or at least have pictures on your phone of the stuff you want to match.

    7. Ad Astra*

      Have you tried making a “work clothes” board on Pinterest? That’s where I get my ideas about how to wear a certain item or what colors go with what. Add the word “capsule” to your search and you can see how people created a bunch of different outfits with the same pieces.

  67. Growing Pains*

    Can I just vent?
    I work in medical device complaints. Any device issue is reported to me by the sales rep, then I determine whether further investigation is needed and whether the issue needs to be reported to the FDA. The sales reps at my company make my job a living hell. I spend LOTS of time making my follow up questions as specific as possible to reduce the amount of back and forth between the sales rep and me. They respond back, “Don’t know why you’re asking me this. No device issue.” They don’t even ASK me to elaborate or have the courtesy to respond in complete sentences. (I’m at the ‘bitch eating crackers’ point with them. My coworkers all feel the same way.) It isn’t until I begin throwing in words like “FDA” or “serious adverse event” that they begrudgingly comply with me. A few reps are incredibly helpful and a delight to work with. The remaining hundreds however….

    1. Anie*

      Not the same thing at all, but I have a vent and we work in the same industry.

      The company I work for publishes news about the FDA or drug companies or whatever. This morning, someone tweeted about my company and included a link that, when I clicked on it, was actually a full posting of our copywritten content.

      So I went to the sales rep who covers that territory to see if they’d bought the rights to do so. After ten minutes of trying to explain what I was asking (and getting “You want to give them rights?” or “Gosh, I thought you were talking about breaking our copyright for a second!”), she finally seemed to get it. “Oh, that IS in my territory! I’ll get right on it.”

      On my own, without being asked to do so, I emailed her the link to the stolen content on their website.

      And hour later, she comes up to me, arms waving and shocked voice: “OMG, I just looked that link you sent. They’ve ALREADY posted our content! That’s so different from wanting to buy it! I wish you’d told me.”


    2. Anonsie*

      Oh lord. As someone who sometimes has to actually deal with med device/biotech sales people as a customer, I have deep sympathy for anyone who has to deal with those people on a regular basis.

      No personal offense to anyone who has that job here, just… Good god they are difficult.

      1. Growing Pains*

        I’m actually pretty surprised that you as a customer would also have a difficult times with sales reps. I feel.. comforted..? :P You have my sympathy. If you don’t mind elaborating, what makes the sales reps difficult?

        1. Anonsie*

          Right? You’d think they would be super accommodating to the people they need to buy stuff from them. Nope. They know we can’t go anywhere else for whatever they’re selling 99% of the time.

          They tend to be time vampires. You might email them asking for the turnaround on a product order and they’ll reply right away but dance around it and want to schedule a phone call and say maybe I’ll just drop by your office and just never answer your freaking question. You’ll go back and forth like eight times before they tell you what you asked for originally, all the while trying to get you to spend more time talking to them through some other mean instead of just ending the conversation by answering. That’s the biggest pet peeve, there are others though.

      2. Jem*

        While we’re bitching about medical device sales reps – I work for doctors and have to field communications from them. It’s such a weird position to be in because they are trying to sell you crap but we also need them for grant money. I think it’s really creepy how they try to get really personal with you right away and start asking how your family’s doing, etc. Apparently the smarminess works on some people but I find it invasive and insincere. I’d rather they just be businesslike and cordial. We all know what they’re here for. Also, why don’t any of them want to communicate by email? I hate talking on the phone and it’s even worse when they drop by unannounced for some non-reason when I am super busy.

        I apologize to any medical sales reps on here – I am an easily annoyed person.

        1. Anonsie*

          Yes! All of this! Just take my money and go away, for god’s sake.

          We have a great policy where I work that unannounced visits from vendors or their reps are strictly prohibited, so they couldn’t even make it to our office to pull something like that. And if they somehow did, the policy is actually posted right next to my desk (I have no idea why, I think because it’s right inside the front door to this department) and it would be easy to bounce them.

  68. AdminAnon*

    I have been thinking about joining the Peace Corps for a few years now and have finally made up my mind to actually apply, but I’m still trying to figure out how it would fit into my long-term plans. For reference, I’m still early in my career–one AmeriCorps VISTA term + two years of employment at the same non-profit. Are any of you lovely people RPCVs or do you know anyone who is? How has it impacted your career paths? Do you have any other advice? I’ve read everything I can find about the actual experience, but I haven’t found much about life post-service. Thanks in advance!

    1. MsM*

      Not a vet, but I’ve known lots of people who did it, and I can’t think of anyone whose career was affected for the worse by it. A lot of them came back really enthused to work in international development or public health, and either used the Peace Corps network to find jobs in that field or went back to school to get the qualifications they’d need. Even the one person who had a lousy experience and left partway through found a short term gig, went to law school, and is happy now.

    2. Sunshine Brite*

      I know people who have, my undergrad actually has a decently high rate of participation. Post-service, I know one person working for the State Department, one still completing their service, others working in various non-profit roles/for-profit with a cause/government.