open thread – June 5, 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 :)

{ 1,382 comments… read them below }

  1. Anon for this question :-)

    So I am managing my first intern this summer… So far it is a lot of fun because I get to think bigger picture about my own projects while giving her pieces she can excel at and own. And I don’t even mind all the admin duties that come with managing, such as approving time, expense reports and having weekly status updates. However, my intern is not someone I would have personally hired had I interviewed her. She is smart, but a little lacking in the personality/interpersonal relations department. My question is: Is it my job as a manager to point out where personality “flaws” will not help her get ahead?

    For context: This is her first internship and she is very young (19 I think). She is an engineer which probably (stereotypically) does not help with the quirks, but then again, so am I and I don’t remember having this trouble when I was that age. Sometimes her quirky personality and lack of a filter for oversharing and making weird random statements make her come across as naïve on conference calls and result in sideways glances from team members at meetings.

    Do I have a responsibility to tell her that she needs to tone it down a little or think before she speaks? Or will she just learn this on her own? Or should I just butt out altogether because everyone is entitled to have their own personality and not be judged for it? Any advice is appreciated!!

    1. MegEB

      Do you feel like you have a good relationship with her, aside from her quirks? Personally, looking back at my own internship experience in college, I wish I had a mentor who coached me on stuff like this; I was a really awkward person for a really long time and ended up having to work through it on my own through various embarrassing and/or painful experiences. If she’s smart and seems receptive to feedback, I think gently guiding her on these so-called “soft skills” would be hugely beneficial to her and might make your day-to-day interactions with her a bit easier.

      1. Anon for this question :-)

        Pretty good relationship. Still new, so not to the point where i think she trusts me completely. Some of her behaviors are just so bizarre though… I am usually just speechless when they occur, so it’s hard to make corrections after the fact. But I like the way you approach it and I am glad you wish you had a mentor tell you, because that makes me more inclined to tell her now so that she appreciates it down the road, even if it is hard/awkward to hear now.

    2. Dawn

      Tell her, but do it softly and do it from the perspective of being on her side and not against her. “Juliette, I don’t know if you noticed but in that last meeting when you talked about your family’s beef with the Montagues it came across as (immature, off topic, whatever). It’s important to (blah blah blah) and I have found in my own career that (reasons why when you stopped doing stuff like that it was helpful for you).”

      If you choose to help steer her professionally this way then I think you’ve stepped out of the pure manager role and into the role of mentor. You can choose not to do that, but I think if you feel that you have a proclivity to do so and can help her professionally, PLEASE do so. It’s INVALUABLE to get feedback like that when you’re that young and what you teach her this summer could well resonate through the rest of her professional career.

    3. fposte

      One plan would be to ask her if she’d find feedback useful. You can say “When I was starting out, it was sometimes hard for me to realize how I was communicating and relating to people, and feedback on that was/would have been useful. Would you like some feedback about that in your midsummer review as well?” Another would be just to fold it in with a review–this is a good example of why a review along the way can be really helpful for interns. After her first month or something you can give her feedback on strengths and weaknesses, and that will give you time to pick a couple of really good examples.

      You can also just give her feedback in the moment. “Hey, that email language sounds really brusque to the recipient–please change it following this template.”

    4. KathyGeiss

      I think if you can separate out the “strange personality quirks” from the “legit and specific thing that is something she can work on” you could help her. Internships are great opportunities to learn about office norms and the like and if you can help her with that, it would be a real boon for her.

      Maybe instead of “you’re sort of strange and off-putting” you could tell her, “sometimes in meetings your comments seem a little off-topic. I know it can be nerve-wracking when you first start out. One thing I sometimes do is make a little note about what I want to say before saying it aloud. It helps me formulate my thought and ensures that it relates to the discussion.”

        1. anny

          +1
          This is one of the hardest things for some people to realize, especially when just starting out! She’s probably eager to show that she has something to contribute, and might be blurting out the first thing that comes to mind.

        2. AnotherAlison

          Exactly. I don’t typically have new hires (new grads) on conference calls, unless they are there only to listen in and see how it works, so I thought that was a little strange anyway. I don’t see a need until they have ownership of some task/deliverable, which an intern likely would not have 2 weeks into summer. Most of my conference calls are with clients, though. I can see how an intern might need to be on an internal department call.

      1. The IT Manager

        THIS! Your heart is in the right place, but you need to provide actionable feedback that isn’t “suppress your personality.” She’s not trying to be odd and off putting so she doesn’t realize its happening or that it will happen before it does. Concrete feedback; perhaps immediately after it happens in meetings.

        1. a different anon

          I did basically get feedback that was ‘do not bring your personality to meetings’ and it was pretty gutting (especially since I’d not heard a peep about it before my annual review — was everyone secretly glaring shut-up daggers at me and I missed it???). I was so embarrassed I totally emotionally shut down for a few weeks because I wasn’t even sure what was or wasn’t objectionable, and I was so humiliated when it came up in my review that I couldn’t bring myself to ask for specific examples.

          I’m honestly not sure the feedback did any good other than to make me too nervous to speak in meetings unless absolutely necessary. I guess if their point was “talk less” it worked…

          I’d thought I was doing pretty well at my job but now I kind of think not.

    5. AdAgencyChick

      Yes! You’re her manager, so of course you should be coaching her on this kind of thing! (Asking yourself first, of course, “Would I find this personality problematic if she were a man?”)

      I think you can help a direct report correct *behaviors* without changing *personality*. I feel for your direct report, because this sounds like emotional intelligence, which also does not come naturally to me. But the ability to read a room and know what should and should not be said (and, equally important, WHEN to say something) is a skill that can be developed, and that will serve your intern well.

      I’m in a singing group, and our director often tells us to “listen louder than you sing.” I think that’s good advice for the working world (except change “sing” to “talk,” of course). This could turn into specific pointers like listening to how much coworkers are sharing about THEIR lives and deciding accordingly how much to share about hers, or giving her a blueprint for conference calls (“actually, your job today is mostly observation” or “Stick to commenting on the XYZ project that you’re working on; you don’t have enough information to be saying anything about Jane’s work on ABC”).

      1. Anon for this question :-)

        Also for context, I am also a woman, and because I know how hard it is for women to get ahead in a male dominated industry, I really want to help her become more polished and professional. So yes, I would still have the same attitude if she were a man, but I want to help her even MORE SO because she is a woman and I want her to be successful like I have been.

        Thanks for your advice! I appreciate it!

        1. GlorifiedPlumber

          It sounds like you are on the right track! I wish my mentor was as involved as you sound when I was a wee intern.

          Can she take someone being blunt to her? Can anyone that age take someone being blunt (trying to remember if I could when I was young…)?

          “Jane, this is the way things work. One day, you too can make waves, but for now when you say X and do Q, people perceive Y. I doubt Y is what you’re going for. Consider A, B, and C instead.”

        2. Meg Murry

          Are some of you concerns related to her being a woman and doing stereotypically “girly” things, or are these more “new to the workforce” things.

          As women to women advice, have you read “Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office”? I would highly recommend reading it, and then giving her a copy and pointing out which things you are actively working on, or which items you struggled with when you were first starting out, or maybe some things that are not necessarily relevant at your current position but have been in other offices (for instance, the “don’t bake for the office” rule – at my last 2 jobs it was fine and didn’t have a stigma, but at a previous office the one woman who did definitely got cast in the “office mom” role.)

          I agree with others that giving her gentle feedback immediately after something happens is way better than saving it for her “official” intern review. Or maybe you could do lunch once a week and give her some mentoring feedback outside the office that would be less “I am your boss and I am scolding you” and more “I am your mentor and I want you to succeed professionally”.

          If you suspect it’s a personality thing you might even explain to her about “work personality” vs “friend personality” and while you aren’t expecting her to be a complete phony, sometimes you have to act a part a little bit at work or keep some parts of your life and your personality to yourself and your friends. I’m not explaining this well, but maybe you or someone else understand what I mean and can say it better than I can?

          1. Anon for this question :-)

            These are definitely more “new to the workforce” things, not “girly issues”. But, her being a woman, if she keeps up this behavior, it won’t do her any favors when going up for that next promotion, asking for a raise, or whatnot. Some of her comments, without going into detail for anonymity’s sake, just paint her in a negative, “know-it-all”, naive, bizarre, light that i cant quite articulate. I dont think any intern, male or female, would get ahead in this world with these types of behaviors/comments, but especially being a woman, i think it closes even more doors for her.

            Thanks for your book suggestion! I’ll definitely give it a try!

            1. NicoleK

              OMG. I’m having the same experience with new colleague. Except she’s positive, “know it all”, naive, bizarre light that I also can’t quite articulate.

    6. nona

      I think she’ll learn this on her own, but talking to her now would help her learn faster. I wish someone had done this for me!

      Talk about her behavior rather than her personality, though. This isn’t about her personality or quirks, it’s about learning what to do at work.

    7. Yoshi

      I’m not a manager, so maybe others can give more concrete advice, but just wanted to say that when I was in my early twenties and in my first real job, I always appreciated how my manager responded very compassionately when my teammates and I said something dumb or naive. She’d respond with something like “That’s part of it, but I’m more concerned about____” or “never thought of it that way before, but because I’m looking for_____, we should go with ____”. It was a way of validating what we said while immediately redirecting the conversation back to where she wanted it to be.

      1. Mallory Janis Ian

        I had a manager like this in my first real office job, too, when I was in my early twenties. She never made any of us feel dumb or naive, but just took every opportunity to help us learn to think through a situation by letting us in on her thought process about most things. She used the same kinds of softening (but firmly redirecting) phrases as your boss did, Yoshi. I’m so glad I had someone like her as my first real boss; I feel like she set me up to trust my future bosses and expect respect from them, unless they proved otherwise.

    8. Ann

      If I were the intern I would want to know. I think she’s probably coming across as naive, because she is. She’s 19 and on her first foray out into the real world of business. I kinda thought that’s what internships were for – to learn how to conduct yourself in a business setting. Since it’s a little more personal than just addressing her skills or performance though, I might ask her if she was interested in this sort of feedback first.

    9. anny

      Yes!! Please do. As a fellow young, female engineer who has gone through several rotations of my intern program, I know that it would be great to get this feedback.
      You should definitely explain that you’re doing it for her benefit. I like the wording that others here have used, like “I’m not sure if you noticed, but…” and refering to your own beginnings.

      Please make sure to remind her to think twice before she speaks up. It seems like a lot of fellow interns I’ve worked with seem to think they know everything about the plant after having been there for 1 or 2 weeks. I don’t know if that’s A Thing across the board, but if you remind her that it’s okay not to know everything or to not be an expert immediately, it might help. She’s probably just eager to please and thinks she has some great ideas – which she may, but she needs to know how to professionally and effectively communicate them!
      Good Luck and thanks for being a good manager that cares about the success of your intern! :)

    10. Dan

      “Do I have a responsibility to tell her that she needs to tone it down a little or think before she speaks? Or will she just learn this on her own?”

      Rhetorical question: If you don’t tell her, how do you expect her to “just learn this on her own”? It’s going to be much more painful for her if it takes six months of her having to read sideways glances when you knew after two days that Behavior X was an issue.

      While I kept it to myself, I actually got really pissed at my manager at my last job for not telling me that at “these kinds of meetings” you should keep your mouth shut unless specifically called upon. He let me go on for three days at a rather large meeting before coming up to me at the end and saying “Client Y didn’t appreciate your input.” What I wanted to say was, “So why the F didn’t you kick me under the table or something? After the first day, that reflects just as much on you as it does me.”

    11. chemicals like some cheese-eating high-school boy

      I would urge you to tread lightly here. Are you absolutely positive that her behavior is something that is turning off everyone, or is it just you? I’m sorry that I’m second-guessing you here, but this is one of those areas where it is not uncommon for people to think they have it right – but they’re wrong.

      And – if you’re sure – then I’d ask: are you indeed really her manager / supervisor? My point being: is it truly your job to give her this kind of feedback? You say that you are “managing” her, but – are you indeed an official manager? Or are you a project lead who has been given intern responsibilities? Point being that if you talk to her and it goes badly, are you going to get called on the carpet? By who?

      Finally – I’d recommend finding a trusted colleague and doing some role-playing first. I do not doubt that you mean well, but there are many ways this could go badly. I don’t know the intern, but if she’s 19yo and this is her first industry job – is she away from home, too? – you’ll want to be really, really gentle about this. You’ll want to stay away from words like “quirk”, “flaw”, “weird”, and so forth. Telling her that some of the things she says result in “sidelong glances” from her team is not a good thing, either. On the other hand, she will probably, and with justification, want to know about specific instances where her behavior has been problematic. You’re going to have to figure out how to spin what you tell her so that it’s specific enough that she can learn from it – but not so harsh that she’ll feel embarrassed and humiliated and perhaps shut down, stop contributing, and possibly even quit. I don’t have any specific advice for you, but – as you would with any employee – ideally you’ll give her a couple of positive things that she can work on, that can be easily measured to indicate that her performance is (fingers crossed) improving.

      A lot of this is doing to depend on your personal style and the relationship you have with this intern. You’re an authority figure providing unsolicited criticism to a someone who is young and inexperienced. You need to put some real thought into this. At the very least, make a list of 2 or 3 items to discuss with her – you don’t want to come off lecturing her about random stuff off the top of your head “… and another thing, you talk too fast …” – and stick to the list. Make it fast. And of course, don’t do it in public / in front of her co-workers.

      (I’m really not trying to judge or second-guess the LW here so much as to suggest a ‘checklist’ that anyone who is considering such action would want to step through before proceeding).

      1. Anon for this question :-)

        Thank you for the thoughtful insights! To be clear, i am a technical lead, but have managing authority over her. I approve her time sheets, sign off on expense reports and will conduct her performance review at the end of the summer. I have been asking for managerial responsibilities for a few months and this is my first go at it at this company. I think my manager is testing the waters with me as an intern manager. I really do like your advice about role-playing and i think i will also have the conversation with my own manager about how to handle it and if he thinks i should even handle it at all just to be 100% crystal clear. But I would want to do this anyway even at a mentor level to give her valuable feedback. I was given similar feedback when i was much younger from my own mom surprisingly, and it changed the way i interacted with adults for life (for the better!). I definitely don’t want it to be unsolicited feedback either, so maybe asking her if she would like some informal feedback on interpersonal skills would be helpful might be a good idea.

        Thank you again for the kind reply!

        1. Observer

          Asking your manager for advice on HOW to deal with this is a good idea. Asking WHETHER to deal with this, not so much. You sound like you don’t really know what you are doing and what managing entails, if you do that.

          You are the person doing her performance review, so you should be the person telling her things that could affect that review, and the reviews she will get over the course of her life.

          Unsolicited feedback is part of any decent job. Remember, we’re not talking about random personal stuff here, but behaviors that can and do affect her work and working relationships. That’s feedback she needs, whether she asks for it or not. And, if she balks at getting feedback, that says something about her work readiness.

    12. Observer

      I’m going to echo the others. If you don’t tell her, how will she learn? The key is to talk about specific behaviors and why they are a problem, rather than her personality.

      And if SHE brings up the personality issue – “Well, that’s who I am” kind of response – you can point out that you are not asking her to change who she is, but how she behaves in specific situations.

    13. mookitty

      You are her manager? Yes you need to tell her what she needs to do in order to improve her performance. Manage her.

  2. Up and Down

    Sometimes I wonder if it’d be better if I just gave up with applications altogether. My current job is making me absolutely miserable, but most of the time I can get to the point where I’m just numb inside going through the motions (and even act sociable if I try hard enough).

    But then I’d see a job ad that gets me excited, and I’d start thinking perhaps there’s better things out there for me. I’d go through the nervous tension of putting together the application and sending it through, and I /know/ I should stop thinking about it once it’s sent but it’s not like a switch I can just shut off. I’m also well aware of the warnings against getting hung up over a ‘dream job’, and I’m careful about that, but in order to sound enthused in my cover letter I need to feel /some/ degree of excitement at least right? No matter what I do to not think about it I still feel devastated when I get a rejection.

    I know that if I don’t keep trying things will never get better, but at least I don’t have to deal with the insane emotional rollercoaster.

    1. Dawn

      “I don’t have to deal with the insane emotional rollercoaster”

      That rollercoaster comes from within, not from without- you *can* control it. Work on controlling that rollercoaster within yourself and don’t look at it as something external that just happens no matter what. Keep reaching for that dream job!

      1. Bea W

        Was just going to say that. You can control that emotional roller coaster. It’s easier said than done, but in the job search process, it’s probably the ONE thing you can have control over once you’ve submitted your application.

        I wish I had some practical tips on how to reign it in. It’s not an overnight process. You have to retrain your mind. So don’t get discouraged if you try different things or try to think of things differently and find you can’t instantly switch it off and keep it switched off, and rejection is always hard no matter what. It’s totally okay and normal to feel crappy about it, it’s what you do with that crappy that can help it be a less bad experience.

        I know that if I don’t keep trying things will never get better.

        Stick with that thought!

    2. Kai

      I feel like I could have written this. Two years of applying, interviewing, and networking, and I still haven’t been able to leave this dead-end job. I bought one of Alison’s (very helpful!) resume reviews; I write an awesome, personalized cover letter for every job; I apply for positions I’m qualified and (at least from the outside!) well-suited for. I know there are almost countless factors why a person may not get a job, and some of the reasons I get rejected may not have anything to do with me. Still, it’s discouraging.

      1. Stranger than fiction

        Don’t know what your field is but can you broaden your search? Similar titles? Throw your hat in the ring on ones you don’t meet 100% of the qualifications? Sometimes you’d be surprised what you get a response from

    3. Jennifer

      I feel the same way. Most of the time I can barely drag myself to look and it’s always the same old (a) crappy jobs, (b) ridiculous requirement jobs, (c) jobs I don’t qualify for, (d) jobs I don’t qualify for and don’t want to do anyway. My heart’s not in wanting any of the so-so ones either. And last week a friend of mine found a job listing in her work, but I literally DO NOT COMPREHEND their first three top requirements or what they are, which should reasonably rule me out right there, eh? (Friend didn’t know what most of it was either.)

      However, I did see a job listing yesterday that is for something I probably at least qualify for (I have a rare specialty here, which is not exactly helping me find a job when you can only find jobs you’ve done before)–though yeah, there’s some things in it that I haven’t heard of before either. I know way better than to get my hopes up for ANYTHING any more, but it’s a better qualification/theoretically better pay and it’d get me out of this office but not my employer entirely so I can keep the benefits…

      But yeah, can’t get my hopes up, nobody ever wants me, there’s always someone better, God clearly wants me in THIS job, etc.

      Also, my best friend’s husband just got a job in Portland, (Oregon), so she’ll be leaving soon. Dammit.

      1. misspiggy

        I always like to think that my application has the chance of keeping someone far less talented with far more confidence out of a job they would suck at. For some reason, this pretend-competition with a fantasy arrogant nitwit motivates me to apply. I’m not doing it for me, right? I’m doing it to protect X Company from getting an even worse candidate who talks a good game.

        If I genuinely can’t bear the office day to day anymore, I tell myself I always have the option of temping or freelancing. That has really helped with the frustration of a crappy job – I am choosing to be here, because it is still preferable to temping or freelancing. So my situation is not too bad, right? I did in fact leave my last job because it had got worse than the alternatives, and am having a good time freelancing.

        1. fposte

          Oh, that’s hilarious as well as being really clever. When hiring, I would also rather talk to you than to somebody with fewer skills but more confidence, so I support this pretend competition.

        2. Anonforthis

          Speaking as someone who just chose the freelancing route, that’s really encouraging to hear. Thank you.

    4. Sarah Nicole

      I hope what I’m about to say is going to help in some way. I think you’re very emotionally invested in your job search because your current job is so awful, or you’re miserable there. I think that if you found some way to address your emotional state, it would help you be more effective in your job search and not get too down when you do get a rejection. I’m thinking it could be a combination of things, like relaxation methods, exercise, spending time with family and friends – basically anything that can help you feel good about other things in your life while you’re working to address your employment situation.

      Of course I don’t know enough about your job or what is making you so miserable, but it seems like that is out of your control right now. Work on feeling happy elsewhere and try to remember that if you have patience with your job search and can stick it out, something great will come along in time!

      1. Up and Down

        It’d probably be more accurate to say I’d get hopeful rather than outright excited. It’s like a glimmer of something beyond the here and now, and it’s hard when that gets dashed.

    5. Tau

      I also had the problem of making myself really excited about a job in order to write a good cover letter and then having that feeling linger. What helped for me was, basically, moving on by looking at other jobs. It was a lot easier to “transfer” the feeling of excitement to the next job I was applying to than to just try and shut it off entirely. So if I got a rejection from Job X, I’d be able to go “well, that sucks, but what about Job Z? That looks amazing and a great fit and the location is much better than X’s and-”

      This might not work all that well if you’re not applying to a lot of jobs, but I think it might still make sense to see if you can “shift” the excitement to something related in lieu of trying to flip a switch.

      1. J.B.

        I like this approach. Using the good feeling towards your current life and work can be really helpful. Because something will eventually work out.

        However, if you’re getting stuck at the application stage all.the.time, it might be time to focus on networking. What is the best path for me to take forward, etc.

    6. Christian Troy

      Oh man do I feel you on this. I don’t know if I have any advice because I think part of what happens with a job search is that it becomes less about a better job and more about a better life, and it’s very easy to get caught up in the hope that comes with a new position.

      As for feeling devastated over rejection, I allow myself to feel sad for the day, or even a few days, but at some also realize at some point how I’m feeling about the situation is optional. Yeah it was depressing to get rejected from Super Job because I thought it was a great fit professionally and I liked the people, but they didn’t like me enough to give me an offer and can live without me in the role so they’re not such a Super Job anymore.

    7. Malissa

      I know the feeling. You have my sympathy and understanding. The best advice I can offer is to just try to wipe the application out of your mind after it’s submitted. Tell yourself it’s over and done with and you’ll never hear from them anyways. That way you expect nothing and can get pleasantly suprised if anything does come out if it.

    8. Voluptuousfire

      Oh, this was me a week or two ago. I’ve gone through nine zillion phone screens in the past year and the thought of mustering up the enthusiasm for yet another job I’m meh on…it’s tough to say the very least!

      I empathize completely. I usually found it wasn’t anything a half glass of wine playing with my neighbor’s wiggle butt pittie puppy didn’t cure! (The puppy’s so cute. She’s a black and white cow puppy!)

      1. HAnon

        I read that as “pity puppy” and thought “that is awesome! there should be a market for those!”

    9. Me

      Sing it, sista/brotha. I feel like I must be unemployable. I’ve been in this job nearly 16 years and they’ve been systematically firing the old-timers, so my time’s almost up. But I’m going to wind up driving a truck. If I can even get that job. :(

    10. Steve G

      I’m so with you. I am targeting jobs I qualify for and customizing everything, and I still have problems.

      I had an interview this week and found out at least what one problem could be – the job had no listed years of experience but asked for lots of computer programs + the way they described the role…I pictures someone +/- 30 doing it. But during the interview, I was asked if I was OK doing an entry level position?! What. No I am not. Well, salary comes up, and its definitely a salary someone +/- 30 makes, a little less than I used to make but I don’t care, but definitely not an entry level person. So I said in a roundabout way yes, but totally wanted to give the company advice on how to write ads, and what entry level actually means.

      It made me think if the same thing has ruled me out of even getting interviews in the past, who know?!

      1. Stranger than fiction

        You really hit on something there. Job ads are just plain written poorly often. Mine was and I love my job (except a few annoying issues every company has). Also, I don’t know what you do but I’ve found they don’t get the titles right either sometimes. Like maybe they need a product manager but they’re calling it a product owner or they need a project manager but they’re calling it a product manager (my bf had a lot of this when he was searching)

        1. Steve G

          I am an operations analyst/manager dealing with financial and sales data…….which yeah, that can be an entry level job, or one for someone 15 years outside of school (maybe with a slightly different title, but in the general ballpark)…..but I don’t get why they can’t just write “prefer 10+ years of experience” or “we’re asking for a lot but in reality we’re really looking for the basics, so someone 2 years out of school most likely will suffice.” Why do I have to apply, wait, etc. because you can’t write what you want?!

        2. Connie-Lynne

          Oh man, the whole “product/project/program” manager thing! I’ve gotten to the point where I just assume those words are interchangeable and then in the interview I ask how _that particular company_ defines the difference in roles.

      2. Melissa

        I feel like there’s been a creep in what entry-level means. I’ll look for job postings that are “entry-level” or for new college grads (supposedly) and they requires 1-3 years of experience or ask people for all kinds of skills that a new college grad would be very unlikely to have.

    11. zora

      Wow, I am totally feeling like this, too. Thank you for typing it out because I hadn’t really put it into words. It is so hard, and because it’s so hard I keep going into avoidance mode, which is even harder to pull myself back out of. Sigh.

    12. Not So NewReader

      I can’t tell from your post, but are you giving yourself regular mini-breaks from job hunting or are you doing a grueling marathon?
      You sound the way I feel when I push myself waaay too hard. The thing is when we push ourselves too hard, we can end up sounding desperate/defeated rather than sounding employable.
      Do you reward yourself for little accomplishments such as – do your best on one application and cover letter then go for a walk or call a friend and get ice cream?

      Pretend you are talking to a good friend. What would you tell her to try to help her to worry less?

      1. Up and Down

        Not really a marathon. I only have time to put together one or two (decent) applications a week so it’s not exactly constant but it’s on-going and I just can’t fathom where it’s going to end.

    13. Golden Yeti

      I know others have expressed solidarity, and I just want to add mine in, too. I could have written this easily (especially about being numb). Solidarity with Jennifer and everyone else, too.

      Even though job hunting may not necessarily be physically exhausting, it is mentally and emotionally exhausting. At current job, I’ve abandoned sociable; I’m too tired for it. I’m just sticking with polite and efficient.

      You’re so desperate to get out, you start looking at just about anything, but just about anything is probably not what you would truly want to choose if you had your preference. Then, the things that pique your interest tend to fall into one of a few categories: 1-Interesting, but not remotely qualified, 2-Interesting, but realistically, too intimidating, 3-Interesting, and very qualified, 4-Interesting, and just barely qualified, and of course 5-Only interesting because I am qualified enough that it just might get me out of here.

      It seems like most of the time, I come across everything except #3. You barely have energy to apply to the others, but you halfheartedly put something together, and nothing happens. The rare #3’s actually excite you and infuse you with a temporary burst of energy, which you spend applying. Your mind can’t help but wander to what your day might be like at that job, or what your life would look like if it were your job. And you go through all that just to hear more crickets.

      It’s hard. I’m sure it’s not impossible, as many have posted positive outcomes, and Alison’s resources are certainly helpful. But in the meantime, it’s damn hard.

      1. YandO

        I have reached a point where nothing looks interesting anymore. I have no idea what I want and where to go and how to be.

        I feel worse than I did when I started this stupid job search.

        1. Steve G

          I’m so with you…it’s hard to have passion/interest for jobs in this new economy where the hiring managers want you to have experience doing the SAME EXACT THINGS at your past job.

          Exciting would be a growth opportunity, or a chance to learn a new computer program on the job, or a growth in an area I only dabbled in before.

          Exciting is NOT acting like I’ll die to do the SOS I did at past job for the same or oftentimes less pay.

        2. zora

          THIS! So much this. that is exactly where I am right now. I’m so confused I feel paralyzed.

    14. Sunflower

      Wow are you me? I totally get where you’re coming from. At some point, I become kind of numb to job applications as well. I truly think this is a case where what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. I’ve gotten my hopes up about jobs, basically been ready to accept a job offer and then the offer never comes. After going through that so many times, I’ve trained myself to not get excited over anything pretty much. It’s kind of sad and bleak but the more you just churn through applications, the more rejections you get, the more you’ll be able to deal with it. This is bad but sometimes I apply to jobs that I have no real interest in. Sometimes the feeling of applying to a job that I don’t feel the need to slave over the application takes stress off the ones I do have to.

      This is more related to your miserable state at your current job than getting a new one but try coming up with a backup plan. The reason you’re so emotionally invested in your job search is because it feels like the only thing that will take you out of your misery. Come up with a what if. Plan for when you are absolutely so miserable, can’t handle it anymore at your job, what will you do plan? Often times, you won’t use it but just knowing it’s there if you need it might help.

      I give myself ‘deadlines’ that I never stick to. Many times I have said ‘If I’m still at my job in X amount of time, I’m quitting and getting a waitressing job’. I’ve never quit and it’s still tough trudging through my job and I think just knowing the option is out there to quit whenever I want helps me put less stress on my job applications.

    15. Connie-Lynne

      I could have written this in January. I let a truly awesome role slip through my fingers because I was so beaten down and disheartened that even sitting down to update my resume was giving me panic attacks. What finally pushed me forward and through it was a combination of things:

      * Something happening at work that made me really, _really_ angry. Angry enough to motivate through the panic.
      * Finally getting my resume done, removing the Sword of Damocles.
      * Talking to my network about how I was looking for something and having, in one day, EIGHT people send me private “hey! Come work with us! Apply for this job!” emails.

      That last thing was key. Do you have people you know either as friends or professionally who can cheer you on, be a “team you?” Getting the positive feedback from people who I used to work with really turned my outlook around. It’s still hard, but I can cast my brain back to that moment now, and tell myself “hey. Lots of people out there think you are amazing.”

      If you don’t have a strong professional network like that, you can still do it with friends — ask for a resume review, for example, or just reach out to your friends in similar fields and say “I am feeling really dispirited with job searching. I need someone to take a look at my resume and tell me I’m awesome.” Give yourself little job-based rewards: “I sent out an application today; I get a sticker!” (and then put a sticker on your arm! Nobody else will know what it is, but you’ll know and it can remind you of better days ahead)

  3. UKAnon

    I was hoping that you might all be able to help me with some sage words of wisdom. Where I work my managers are at a different location and so almost all communication is through online methods rather than in person. The nature of the work means that I am able to see the work of other coworkers on my team and they are able to see mine. It’s highly subjective work, so often if you throw a question out you’ll get three or four different opinions about what’s best to do, but nevertheless there are some standards and we are supposed to be both thorough and relatively consistent.

    The problem is I noticed earlier some, what I thought was, really substandard work by a coworker. None of us are perfect and I know I make mistakes, plus I’m not in any way a manager so I can’t say definitively what a good piece of work would have looked like. But when I and other coworkers have been working on similar things in the last couple of weeks, we’ve all spent an hour plus on it, and somebody spent two. I know that this coworker spent less than five minutes, and the results aren’t what I personally would have called alright.

    Normally I would butt out and mind my own, especially as I am uber-awkward over written communications (can you tell?), not a manager etc. The trouble is that the managers can’t necessarily tell who’s done what work and usually we all just get a round email with corrections/ suggestions for improvement. I want to make sure that the quality of my work is known – both because I want to do well at my job for all the obvious reasons and because it means I can get much better feedback on when I do get it wrong. So I am wondering if I should say anything to my managers? And if so, how would that look?

    I think I’m probably just too scared to say anything either way, but next time something arises it might be nice to have some things to say if the overwhelming consensus is that that would be appropriate. I should say that the coworker in question will be able to know whatever I say unless I approach a manager privately, which usually only happens for a Big Deal.

    1. Ann Furthermore

      Does your co-worker who is doing things so quickly care about the quality of his/her work? If so, is it possible to address it there first? That’s where I would start. If someone wants to improve, or expand their skill-set, they’ll be open to feedback and less likely to get defensive.

      1. UKAnon

        Unfortunately, I don’t think so. They tend to ask for the least guidance and be the least involved in team conversations; they’ve also said a couple of things that makes me pretty sure they’ve been job hunting for a while, so at this stage I think it’s just a wage coming in unfortunately.

        1. HarryV

          I would simply ask for a 1:1 with your manager to let him / her know about your concern.

    2. Judy

      If your manager doesn’t know who does what work, how are performance reviews done? That would be the biggest issue for me.

      1. UKAnon

        There’s nothing like that in the role – we’re bottom of the totem pole, so basically we sink or swim as a collective unit.

    3. Observer

      Could you suggest that all work is initialed by the person who is doing it? It would have the benefit to you, that your manager would know who did what. But, the benefit to the organization is that this way it is easier for the person who did the work to go back and make fixes or changes as needed. This is a good idea in general, because if someone else goes back to it, it takes longer since that person might have done the job differently, although correctly.

    4. Intrepid Intern

      Could you send your manager a request for feedback for yourself? You could attach your last/best five pieces of work, thereby showing the type of work you do AND that you care about quality enough to seek out feedback.

  4. Golden Yeti

    I submitted this to Alison awhile back, and the opportunity to negotiate has since passed, but I would still like to hear people’s opinions:

    Is it okay to ask for more money without intending to increase your workload?

    For context: I’ve been working at a small company for 4 years. Everyone is expected to pitch in as needed. I have done my share, but many of those duties–and more–have evolved from a pitch in basis to my responsibility.

    Company policy is that every year, employees get a small per hour raise (under a dollar). This has been the case for me, as well. The only exception I ever experienced was my first or second year, when I got a little more. There is usually no performance review; the raise is automatic, and employees are simply informed of how much they will be getting (the same amount each year). An opportunity to negotiate is not explicitly offered.

    I want to leave this job, but here I am, staring down the barrel of another year, another small raise. I discussed it with my mom, and she feels that I should raise the issue (pun not intended) of a higher raise, because she feels the scope of what I do is worth a higher raise than I’m receiving. My stance is that I shouldn’t ask for more money unless I’m also willing to take on more work, more responsibility, and put in more time there. I feel that by asking for a higher raise, you’re essentially telling the company you are thinking long-term, and intend to do the work to make their extra investment in you worthwhile.

    Because these “extra duties” are now regular for me, I feel it’s too late to take those things into consideration for higher wages. And, as I mentioned, I want out (and it probably shows). If I wanted to stay at this company, I could see making the case for a raise, and taking on more responsibility. As it is, though, I don’t want to put in even more work and energy into a job I am already disconnected from anyway. It doesn’t seem like it would be fair to me or the employer.

    For next time, should I take the regular raise for regular work, or ask for more knowing I would probably be expected to do even more?

    1. Happy Lurker

      As a former worker at a small company and now a quasi-manager at one. Ask. Point out that not only do you do your fair share, you are happy to help and have no issue taking on more tasks and responsibilities. Because it is small, the manger/owner will know this to be true.
      At old job I was hired as a temp. I was so bored I kept asking for more work (apparently that had never happened before). When my 3 months was done, I still asked for more work. Within 6 months my position had grown exponentially and I asked for a raise. I got it too, along with more responsibility.
      Don’t be afraid to ask, especially in a small situation where the boss knows what you are working on.
      Good luck.

      1. AmyNYC

        But it sounds like OP doesn’t want more duties and responsibilities, just that she’s underpaid and wants a larger raise

        1. Golden Yeti

          You are right, Amy. I do a lot as it is (mind you, so do the other employees). I’m not wanting to ask for more things to do, but I’m afraid that asking for an above-average raise is essentially that.

    2. MegEB

      I’m with your mom on this. And for what it’s worth, I don’t think it’s too late to take your “extra duties” into consideration for higher wages. I don’t know your office or whether it would be appropriate to ask for a raise now, or whether you should wait until next year’s review, but if you’ve been taking on extra work, excelling in it, and generally being a great employee, then you should ask for a raise based on that, not on your willingness to do even more.

      I do think you’re right, however, in thinking that by asking for a raise you’re telling the company you’re thinking long-term. If you’re already disconnected and are actively looking for another job, then I feel like asking for a raise might be in bad faith. But if you’re not, or if you’d be willing to stay for a raise? Ask away!

    3. to

      It sounds like the expectation at your company is that everyone’s responsibilities will grow a little over each year, and everyone will get a small raise each year to reflect that. If you feel your responsibilities have grown more than “average” at your company, or your salary is below market rate, then I would ask for a raise.

      It seems to me your question is – which comes first, higher pay or higher responsibility? Nowadays, I think more work comes FIRST, not second – so you’re perfectly positioned to ask for a raise now!

      1. Natalie

        IMO the size of raise Golden Yeti is describing is a cost-of-living adjustment, if that. I would be cash money that if you compared using real dollars, they are earning the exact same as when they started, or possibly even a little less.

          1. Golden Yeti

            You are more dead-on than you know. There is actually current legislative talk of raising the minimum wage to what I was just earning just last month after 4 years of work (this month the extra change kicks in).

            1. Natalie

              Well, for starters stop thinking of those salary adjustments as raises. They literally, actually were not raises – they were adjustments to keep your real salary the same. So you haven’t gotten a raise in 4 years even though your duties have evolved and, it sounds like, increased.

      2. Golden Yeti

        I guess the question would be, though, who is determining what is average? Is average compared to everyone else in this office (everyone performs multiple roles), or is average compared to industry standards of this role? If the former, I’d have a hard time making a case because it’s not just me going above and beyond–it’s everyone. I know people who have been here almost twice as long as I have and who aren’t making much more than me. If it’s the latter, I’d also have a hard time making a case because starting pay is already low on the scale (average per hour is about $8-9/hr more than I currently make), and I don’t see them budging on that unless legally obligated to do so.

    4. Persephone Mulberry

      You’re looking at it backwards – having taken on these additional responsibilities already is perfect justification for asking for a raise. You don’t say “if you give me a raise, I will do more things,” you say, “since I’m doing more things, I deserve a raise.” Go for it!

      1. Golden Yeti

        I guess I’m viewing it as a kind of a sandwich model–I’ve done these things in the past that make my case for a raise, and if you give me more money now, I’ll do more things in the future to justify giving me a raise. Basing the argument entirely on the past without any commitment for the future just feels weird–I think fposte’s comment is pretty accurate as to why I feel weird about it.

        1. TootsNYC

          B ut raises and promotions very, very frequently come after you have already been given the extra responsibilities.

          And the unspoken subtext is: “I am now doing more. I am worth more to you. If you don’t pay me what I’m worth, I can go get a job somewhere else. And since I do so much, you can imagine that a different employer would value me! Prove to me that you value me, so I don’t have to start job hunting.”

    5. fposte

      First off, there’s almost no place where an opportunity to negotiate is explicitly offered. Why would an employer do that when it’s completely to their disadvantage?

      I think you’re right that if you were given extra duties in the past, that was a good time to raise the issue. I also think that there’s a pretty clear increase structure in place there, and that can be hard to push against. In theory, though, I think that unless you’re working for punitive types it doesn’t hurt to ask, noting your excellent performance and past accrual of new duties; being paid more for excellent performance doesn’t automatically mean you have to do more and stay longer.

      But it sounds like you’ve got one foot out the door and more money wouldn’t change that. At that point I’d be inclined to expend my energy on the job search; I think in a place like that you want to avoid being the person who got special unusual extra money and then left within a year.

      1. Golden Yeti

        You have my line of thinking pretty much nailed in your last paragraph. These guys are not the type to take things lying down, so I’m sure I’d hear about it if I “took the money and ran,” so to speak.

      2. TootsNYC

        If you’ve mentally decided you sort of want to move on, I agree–I’d suggest you simply do so as soon as you can.

        If you were just thinking, “I like my job, but I’m feeling a little underappreciated,” then ask for a raise to match the duties you have already taken on, and to match the increased value you now provide for the company.

    6. CrazyCatLady

      I don’t think it has to be based on more responsibility – if you’ve excelled in your position and have a record of improving processes, saving money, bringing in more money, etc., you could make a good case for more money without taking on more responsibilities.

    7. Thinking out loud

      At my company, we are generally expected to do extra work well and THEN we’re given a raise at the end of the year, as recognition that we are doing better work. It’s a little backwards, but it works with me now that I’ve figured out what’s going on. I’d plan to discuss with your manager before the raise announcement comes out, since my guess is that would be a better time to negotiate.

    8. Sunflower

      A raise doesn’t always happen only because you take on more work. I agree with Persephone Mulberry that you are getting it backwards. Also there are lots of reasons people get raises. The longer you have been in a position, the more you master it. Therefore you become quicker and better at your job which can result in a lot of things like cost saving, increased productivity.

  5. Sunflower

    How do you interpret Glassdoor reviews when 95% of them are bad and many say the same thing?

    I interviewed with a branding agency of about 100 people located in Philadelphia(maybe AdAgencyChick can help me out here?). I always take glassdoor reviews with a grain of salt and figure it’s a more disgruntled employees over happy ones. However, there hasn’t been a positive review for this company in over a year- and people called out the positive reviews as fake. Many reviews state people quit without jobs lined up, work/life balance is non-existent(these people have come from other ad agencies so they are used to working long hours), employees are berated. Just all terrible. I didn’t get that vibe at all during the interview. Looking on LinkedIn a lot of people have been there for at least a year and a half. So I’m not sure how to take these reviews. I defintely plan to ask about it but at what point in an interview is the right time to address it with the hiring manager?

    1. Sarah Nicole

      Oh man, I always look at Glassdoor. I do take the negatives with a grain of salt, especially when they’re poorly written or have other tell-tale factors that would signal a red flag to me about the reviewer. But when there are almost NO positive reviews….I think I personally would move on. How many are there? If it’s 95% of 6 reviews, maybe that’s not enough to judge. But if there are a lot more and they’re mostly negative, I’d start to trust the reviewers a bit more. Also, I’d be looking for people that have been with the company for at least 3 or more years.

      1. the gold digger

        I looked at the reviews for my current company before I accepted the job. There were a lot of negative reviews, so I asked the hiring manager (now my boss) about them. He said he knew and that most of those reviews applied to the HQ location in another state.

        “It’s not like that here,” he said, and he was right. I trusted him, but we also really hit it off from the beginning. If I hadn’t liked and trusted him, then I probably would not have believed him anyhow.

        1. Elizabeth West

          So did I, and there were a couple of negatives, but they all had to do with one location. The rest were glowing to middle-of-the-road. Since my company regularly makes a list of best places to work in its field, I’m glad I chose to ignore the bad ones.

      2. stellanor

        I temped at a place with abysmal glassdoor reviews, and when my temp assignment was done I left my own abysmal review and refused to take any more temp gigs at that company even though I was unemployed and they asked me to come back three different times. The work environment was so bad I had to seek help for my mental health afterwards.

        I take glassdoor reviews with a grain of salt, but if there’s an overwhelming theme to them that usually has at least some merit.

    2. themmases

      While I think it depends on the number of reviews and the type of work, I can say that the reviews of my former workplace are very accurate. Reviewers with a similar job to mine report similar problems despite being in other divisions, and people with different jobs have problems I find very plausible based on my interactions with people in those roles. The information about things that affect us all, like general culture, bureacracy, and changes to benefits, are true and the pattern is there for a reason.

      That said, the reviews of my current role at my current employer are basically meaningless (I’m a graduate research assistant at a large public research university). The role could mean anything depending on your field and which faculty member you specifically work for, and important things like our benefits are different enough from full time staff that many elements of their reviews aren’t meaningful to my situation. No project is big enough for people to give away which faculty member they worked for, and possibly not even the specific field, which is all that really matters. If you work in an area where you’re housed entirely within one project or division with very little outside contact after coming onboard, the relevance of reviews really takes a nosedive.

    3. Tris Prior

      Partner was reading Glassdoor reviews last night and out of curiosity looked up his own company. Almost no positive reviews, most negative reviews listing factors like you listed above. And, well, for what it’s worth, he said that all of the negative reviews were absolutely accurate.

      I think there will always be disgruntled employees leaving reviews, but if there are NO positives (or if the positives sound fake and saccharine or are vague – “This is a GREAT place to work!” with no details is one thing he saw), I’d believe that, probably.

    4. entertainment720

      A friend of mine asked about a company’s Glassdoor reviews (like yours, EXTREMELY negative. like, so outrageously negative it was almost fun to read in a schadenfreude-y way) during her second interview, during the ‘do you have any questions for me’ phase of the interview, after she had gotten past a few phone screens and was clearly being closely considered for the role. The way they responded confirmed for her that the reviews were correct — not in any sort of overt way, but more trying to downplay that reviews were always from disgruntled employees and they shouldn’t be taken seriously. I think engaged employers will care that their employees are unhappy. For what its worth, my company’s Glassdoor reviews are extremely accurate — both the negative, and the positive, and I think looking at them gives a really fair sense of the spectrum of the job — the positive ones reflect what it feels like here on a good day/week, and the negatives reflect what it look like on a bad day. Still, take it with a grain of salt, but maybe a few grains…I wouldn’t ignore that.

    5. Steve G

      From all of my jobs + the 3 companies I interviewed at multiple times (3X and 4X and 3X), they are all very true. I know regret wasting time and energy interviewing at those places, eventually all of the BS mentioned in the ads came out in one form or another in the interview, either directly or in the form of a question.

    6. Dan

      Frankly,

      Glass Door reviews aren’t unlike many other review sites. That is, people are much more likely to seek out a venue to vent than they are to sing their praises. Apartment review sites seem to be the worst at it.

      I pay the most attention to negative reviews when I see a pattern of similar things, say three or more referencing the same topic. My last job is like the one you’re concerned about — lots of negative reviews, few positive ones. This from a company that was 220 people at its peak, and now down to 130 or so. The negative reviews have a central theme, and while I never posted one, I could have written any one of them. They’re accurate.

      But how, pray tell, do you expect an interviewer to respond to your “concerns”? Several people talk on this site talk about how “I was told X in the interview, but Y is the reality.” If the HM says that the online reviews are exaggerations by disgruntled people, are you going to believe the HM? And what happens when you start and find that the reviews are more accurate than the HM lead you to believe? When you talk about “the vibe”, you interviewed with what, four people? Do you not think those four people are putting on a shinier-than-average image? They are, after all, trying to sell you on working there (at least they should be anyway, they’re not doing you a “favor” by hiring you.) A year and a half tenure ain’t squat. When I refer people to my current job, I want to see at least three years at the previous place. At a year and a half, they simply haven’t built enough experience to have “grown” at that job, and I want to see that.

      Oh, quitting without jobs lined up is the biggest red flag a company can have on those sites. NOBODY does that, unless conditions are terrible. Multiple people? Run.

      Sorry, but like I said, I think about my last job. The negative reviews are fair, and they’re consistent. They’re not written by people with axes to grind (you can usually tell the type), and the most honest answer an HM can give to “concerns” about those reviews is that they’re 100% accurate. Anything less is spin, posturing, or predictions about the future that nobody can make. “We hit a rough patch, and are really trying to turn things around” is about as much of an actionable statement as “I’ll definitely consider possibly relocating closer to your work site so I don’t have a two hour commute.”

      1. Sunflower

        This is definitely true. I feel like any answer they give me will just be a lie. I compare it to reviews where people say things like ‘yes the hours or long and management can be daft but X is great and I’m well compensated’. there is just NOTHING positive.

        I wouldn’t be so worried except multiple people are citing specific examples. Multiple people write ‘no work/life balance’, ‘higher-ups berate employees’. Situations that sound too specific to be made up. No one writing back and saying ‘I had a totally different experience than Joe.’

        And from all research I did, everyone says the same thing as you. They look up reviews and almost everyone says ‘yup they’re accurate’

    7. AdAgencyChick

      Hi! I’m not in Philly (and very likely you’re not looking in the niche I work in) so unfortunately I can’t confirm or deny. That being said, there are two things about Glassdoor comments that would concern me very much: 1) a consistent pattern and 2) mentions of a specific problem. 100 “I hated it there”s — probably a red flag, but not necessarily enough on their own to make me cancel an interview. A pattern of even 5 or more people calling out the same problem, and it’s an issue that’s important to me? That would probably scare me away.

    8. Felicia

      I think specifics are how you can tell if they’re accurate. If it’s just a generic “this place sucks”, then it’s harder to tell, but if it’s a specific “x,y and z are horrible things that happen” and a hundred people say it, it’s likely true.

    9. b lee

      Hi! I live in Philadelphia. I’m not in advertising, but maybe I’ll know something about the company?

    10. Ad Astra

      I gave what I would describe as a pretty negative review for a former employer, but I was still able to come up with some positive things like “Lots of talented people who really believe in the mission” and “More resources for Mint Teapots than you might find at a smaller teapot supplier.” You can tell when a review is thoughtfully done versus a disgruntled employee who’s just mad.

      Like other people said, a pattern of specific complaints would make me think there’s some validity to the claim. I tend to ignore complaints of “favoritism,” because low-performing employees are usually the first ones to think everything is unfair when high-performing employees get praised and promoted.

    11. Anonsie

      People always say people only leave reviews on Glassdoor when they want to complain, but by and large I think the reviews of most companies I’ve ever looked at were pretty balanced. So if there are a lot of reviews and they consistently skew negative for the same reasons, I’d take note.

  6. Sara The Event Planner

    It’s my last day at a job that I have been incredibly unhappy at — and yet I’m weirdly sad. I swear, I got a little misty-eyed as I turned in my ID badge and laptop. Graduation goggles are a wacky phenomenon.

    1. Elkay

      I had that, I cried half the way home and I hated that job. I did like some of the people though. I think it’s a combination of reality check that this is ending and fear of the unknown (new job).

      1. Seal

        Same here – when I finally left my much-hated first job out of college after almost 13 years, I cried all the way out to my car. The reason I stayed so long in the first place was that the job supported what at the time was my passion for performing; having a steady job with benefits allowed me to pursue side gigs as a performer. Ultimately I realized that I was getting nowhere with either my job or my sideline, and that my place of employment was slowly killing me. So I took the leap and quit without anything lined up. Best thing I ever did for myself, but that walk to my car on my last day was brutal.

    2. Carrie in Scotland

      Yes, it’s hard because you’re stepping into the unknown. But congratulations on finding something better!

    3. Sunshine

      I had that as well, what made it really hard was I really enjoyed my coworkers and it was hard realizing I wouldn’t be seeing them everyday, even though I was more than happy to leave the actual job (boring, not going anywhere). Leaving the environment was tough, especially after having an awesome last day filled with food, games and well wishes.

    4. TheLazyB

      The only job I cried leaving was the only job I truly hated. Jobs I’ve been neutral on or loved, I’ve walked out without being anything other than a tiny bit sad. It’s weird!

    5. Rebecca

      Haha, I was just going to comment “graduation goggles!” but you already did. :) Yes, it’s so odd. I remember having daydreams about just torching Old Job on my way out, but found myself oddly nostalgic on my last day. It was more about the few coworkers I had formed good relationships with, though.

      Congrats, I’m sure you’ll love the new job!

      1. Elkay

        My imagination had me as the Joker and my old office as the hospital in The Dark Knight.

  7. ARRGH

    I sent in an application for a job earlier this week, and within a few hours got the following email:

    “Thank you for your application for [role]. Your application is being reviewed. If you do not receive a response within the next two weeks we regret to inform you, you have not been successful. Thank you for your interest.”

    It’s so blatantly obvious that the role is either already filled or something in my application made it an automatic no. They want to make it look like they’re giving it ‘consideration’ (so avoid irate applicants asking why the listing was still up or wanting more information on their decision) but can’t be arsed to put a two-week delay on ‘send rejection email’.

    It’s infuriating because it’s such a cop-out and a totally disingenuous thing to do, and there’s absolutely nothing I can do about it except suck it up.

    1. College Career Counselor

      To me, that reads as a form letter saying that your application is under review–nothing more. You may or may not get a response for an interview, but I do not see this as “you’ve been automatically disqualified.” I actually kind of like the fact that they put a timeframe on there by which you should either hear back or move on. So many organizations leave candidates hanging that this seems kind of refreshing in its bluntness. I understand that others may not agree with me, however.

      1. Jennifer

        I thought the same thing: at least it’s telling you after 2 weeks, stop wondering.

      2. puddin

        Yep – I get replies similar to this as well. Many of them have resulted in some sort of progress.

      3. Sara

        I agree. The online application system that my field uses sends out similar emails, although usually without a specific time frame for hearing (or not hearing) back from the employer.

    2. Dawn

      Woah, back up a sec! That is ABSOLUTELY NOT an indication that you’re not in consideration. They’re just letting you know that they got your stuff, that it is being reviewed, and not to hold your breath waiting for them to formally tell you you’re not in the running.

      Seriously, where do you get “blatantly obvious that the role is either already filled or something in my application made it an automatic no”? Is there something in your past job history that makes you jump to that conclusion?

    3. AvonLady Barksdale

      I wouldn’t jump to that conclusion just yet. It sounds like an auto-response to me– once the application gets processed, everyone gets the same response. While I don’t advocate assuming you got the job the second you submit the application, I also don’t advocate jumping to negative conclusions so quickly.

    4. edj3

      Yeah, I don’t get that you’re disqualified. I think they’re trying to be efficient and they’re letting you know the timeline for hearing back if you’re successful. You just won’t hear anything else if you don’t get moved forward.

      Would you rather that they just not say anything at all? At least this way, you know your application was received.

    5. Apollo Warbucks

      I disagree with you, the email means exactly what is says!

      The application will be reviewed but they do not plan on sending any more communication to rejected candidates and have given you their time line for moving the hiring for the role on. Its as simple as that.

    6. MegEB

      What? No! That’s not what I got at all from that. It seems like a pretty standard form reply, and I’m not sure where the “disingenuous” part is. I don’t know if you’re just stressed from job-hunting, but seriously, if I were you I’d take a step back and breathe, because I don’t see anything indicating that they’re stringing you along.

    7. danr

      Not really… you have a time frame in which to hear from them. It’s better than the jobs ads that state that you’ll only hear from them if they want an interview… and they want your references upfront. I applied for a couple of those early in my job search, and when the identical ad appeared the next year, I skipped them.

    8. fposte

      That’s an acknowledgment that your application was received. That’s something job-seekers kill for.

    9. BRR

      I also disagree. It’s lazy and slightly rude but I wouldn’t consider myself out of the running.

    10. Amtelope

      That’s just a form reply. It means they got your application. That’s all it means. (And that they’re not planning on replying to people they don’t hire, which is a little lazy, but also pretty common.) It means absolutely zero about what they think about your application. Why do you think it does?

    11. MK

      It sounds to me like this is a new approach to the “no response means no” policy some companies follow instead of sending rejection letters. They don’t want to bother sending form letters to everyone who applied and was rejected, but they don’t want to leave the applicant with no answer at all, so they send a pre-emptive e-mail, saying “if you don’t hear from us in the next two weeks, you are rejected”.

    12. Lizzy

      Not to continue the pile on, but I was on a massive job hunt from 2013-2014 and I would often see that form and still got callbacks after receiving it. Some places might use it as an indirect way to let you down, but often it is just verification of receiving an application.

    13. HRWitch

      This is just an aut0-reply, advising receipt of your application, and the timeline for review and notification. It’s not about you or an indication the job is already filled. Breathe, keep applying, and offer others the space and grace you want for yourself!

    14. TheLazyB

      I read it as ‘the only thing that has happened is that a clerk has received your application. Someone else will review it soon’.

      Do you feel any differently seeing that no one else reads it the same way as you?

    15. Sunflower

      Sounds like a generic ‘we got your application response’. Although the ‘you have not been successful’ is super weird IMO. Just a strange way to phrase things?

    16. TootsNYC

      That SO reads like an auto-response. I bet they didn’t even look at your resumé–it may even have been automated. Or cut-and-paste.

      Especially “within a few hours”? C’mon–few hiring managers, or those working for them, will be doing substantive review of a big batch of resumés so promptly.

    17. Here

      Sounds like an auto-reply from the system, that is sent to everyone. Nothing more than that. You’re thinking the worst and getting angry when it could be nothing more than an auto-reply.
      Like Alison says, let go of the emotion or attachment to the job. You’ve done your part. How surprising it will be if you’re contacted in a few weeks for an interview!!

      I’ve been helping my cousin lately with her job search and she’s been getting tons of emails just like this, after submitting applications/resumes. She’s also gotten a few interviews after an email quite similar to this one.

  8. Nervous Accountant

    ​So following on my post from Friday… on Monday I was brought into the conference room and my boss wrote me up for my failure to perform. I felt horrible, it felt horrible and I cried, big ugly redfaced tears. I apologized a million times for crying.

    There was no deadline, no idea of what will happen next or what to wait for, just a written warning. She told me that I take one step forward and then 2-3 steps back. She brought up a new complaint that had come up, which had never been addressed prior to this. I wasn’t in the place to argue about it so I didn’t say much. ​She said she just wants to see me improve.

    The next day I googled some topics from here and told her I valued the feedback and was mortified that I cried so much.

    So…..not a great week. :(

    1. De Minimis

      So sorry you’re going through this, I have been in the same position. It is so frustrating.

      Does she have specific points where you can improve, or is it just a blanket, “You have to do better…”‘
      Best of luck to you.

    2. Dasha

      I remember you posting about this last week. I hope things start to look up for you. Are you going to look for another job?

    3. IndianSummer

      No words of wisdom, but I am so sorry. :( I hope you have constructive advice to improve your performance.

    4. BRR

      I’m really sorry. This is so rough to go through. After rereading last week’s post, I’m curious if you’re looking for a new job?

    5. Jennifer

      I feel ya. I got bitched out again this week too. I just fail and fail no matter what, apparently.

      I am so sorry you’re going through this.

    6. fposte

      Aw, I’m sorry, NA–that’s rough. However, it’s *good* that you didn’t argue about the new complaint–argument only makes things worse in that situation.

      So are you going to be able to create a plan to address the complaint-eliciting mistakes? That’d be a great thing both to have and to share with your boss.

      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        That’s where I’d focus too — taking your boss out of it, what’s generating the complaints and what can you do to change those things?

    7. Malissa

      Are you able to ask your boss or a coworker for extra review? Since there seems to be so many problems that don’t get brought up after the fact can you proactively take something to your boss and say, “I’d really like a second set of eyes on this before I submit it to the client?”
      What I’m gathering from your posts it that you are suffering from a possible lack of training and a definite lack of timely feedback. Think about how you can be proactive on this and take it to your boss. Also don’t quit looking for other opportunities, because it sounds like your work place sucks.

      1. Voluptuousfire

        Keep looking if you’ve been looking!

        Lack of training plus inconsistent feedback is awful. Been there! Be glad they’re at least giving you warnings! I had that at my last job and I was let go without warning and it was awful.

        1. Diddly

          Same . Realised it was a blessing because management was awful, but it definitely hurts. To OP can you ask for specific goals you can work to and a time line and ask for clear consequences of what happens if you don’t meet those goals.

    8. Mimmy

      I can definitely relate. When I’d cry / get upset after feedback, my managers would then be afraid to give me feedback because I’m so sensitive. Ugh.

    9. Anonsie

      I’m sorry, I know you’ve been stressing out about this. At least that bump is past, you can keep trying to learn but you can also keep looking for a new job.

      1. Anonymoustelecommuter

        I am in the same boat- I started a position with no training and no feedback, and constantly receive mixed & inconsistent messages from my boss. When I started to realize what was going on, I asked my coworkers and they said yes, the person is incredibly passive aggressive and does not communicate well. BossPerson also admits that she is a roadblock on things, and it is only within the past month that I have realized that the person multitasks like a crazy person – so now I know that if I am on the phone with her, she is likely to be reading or writing or doing other things and then she will say “what? I’m sorry, I got distracted.”

        OTOH, I know there are things I can do better so I am trying to focus on those – things that people have said is to ask for specific feedback if they just start venting to you. Focus on your boss’ anxiety and try to make it better for them even if they are nuts.

        When I got reamed out again this week I asked for specific feedback on something that was said last week that really made no sense to me – and what she told me was even more insane. And I let her comment bother me for days and now I know it shouldn’t. How do I know this person is nuts? Because I described what she said to my soon to be ex husband – who is also nuts but good in work situations – and his comment was “wow, she is crazy!”

  9. At the crossroads

    Sigh. I’m feeling so conflicted at the moment. I’ve been thinking about moving overseas for a few years and getting to that point where I really need to make a decision. I’m terrified of picking up and moving to another country without a job lined up, but when I was researching the job market I spoke to recruiters who told me employers are unlikely to speak to you if you’re not already in the country. That seems to be backed up many of the posts on this blog that describe the challenges of long-distance job searches.

    So the dilemma is whether to take the gamble, pack up and move out there to get some chance of entering a highly competitive job market, or just…stick with the status quo. I’ve looked into whether I can get a year’s leave (without pay) but that was shut down pretty quickly, and to be honest I’m not sure I’d be abel to face going back to my current job if I’d spent a fruitless year overseas. I have enough savings that I’d be able to support myself for a couple of months, but I’d have no backup after that.

    I know people often say it’s the things you don’t do that you end up regretting later, but I’m usually so risk-averse I don’t know if I really have what it takes. I wish there was some way of finding out whether it’s really the distance that’s my hinderance or if it’s my experience/qualifications etc that doesn’t measure up, then at least I’ll know what aspect I need to fix.

    1. Sunflower

      Do you have a work visa for the country you want to move to? That to me would be the biggest decider of whether packing up and going without a job would be the best idea for you.

      1. Steve G

        I know…but it depends on the country. I worked in Czech Rep where you need a job offer to get the visa, and you need to apply for it outside of the country, which resulted in my boss paying me under the table for the first month after we drove a few hours to Germany to officially apply for the visa…..but at least they let me work (illegally, woops!) in the meantime

    2. Daenerys

      I also really want to move overseas and have read the same things.

      Is there any chance of looking for companies in your current area with strong international presence? I just started a new job in February and one of the contributing factors to taking the job (which I mentioned to my boss during the interview stage) was the opportunity to relocate to one of the company’s global offices in a couple of years.

      Where are you looking to move to?

    3. Dawn

      A former colleague of mine moved to Berlin with her family after planning it for the past decade- she and her husband specifically took jobs and got education that made them employable in Germany, specifically enrolled their daughter in a German school from the time she was old enough to go to preschool, and saved up a buncha money so that when they got to Berlin they could afford to live for a year without finding a job.

      So it definitely works! I think careful planning, plenty of savings, and a good exit strategy are what to do in this kinda situation. Know when the tipping point is so you can say “I’m going to (country) and have enough money that if I don’t have anything lined up by X months I can, should, and will be returning home”.

      1. Not So NewReader

        Exit strategy- yes, yes, yes. KNOW how you will get yourself back if things do not go well. This is hugely important.

    4. Cruciatus

      Perhaps you can continue saving up for now to get that number as high as possible. Maybe you can give yourself a time line based on that. So if you have enough for 8 months, then you could give yourself 4 or 5 abroad. If you don’t find something in that time, you’ll still have lived abroad and maybe have more connections if you try again later, and maybe even discover if it’s something you want to keep pursuing. While you save you could look into all the details that you’d need to know about (visas, hiring process, maybe find some recruiters abroad who can give you some tips) so that you’ll have everything you need the minute you get there (if something doesn’t come up before then). Good luck!

    5. Carrie in Scotland

      Perhaps you could get in touch (via fb maybe or some other site on the internet) with expats and see what experiences they’ve had in moving to your overseas country?

      1. College Career Counselor

        +1. sites such as transitionsabroad.com sometimes have information for would-be ex-pats on visas, etc.

  10. Jordi

    I will be attending a conference in my field in a geographical region that I would like to move to. The conference is for continuing ed, but I would like to also use the opportunity to network, make connections and also get information on jobs in this area.

    Networking and small talk are not my strengths. I tend to be more quiet and introverted, especially in group settings and with people I don’t know.
    What advice can anyone give me to take advantage of this opportunity and to make quality connections at this conference?

    1. College Career Counselor

      Is there a list of conference attendees available to you beforehand? If so, looking at some of the people who are going to be there and making a point of seeking them out to introduce yourself can be helpful. I realize that this can be stressful and anxiety-inducing, but it may help give you a goal to focus on (I want to try to talk to A, B, and C) versus “I need to make connections with EVERYBODY at all times.” For scripts, after introducing yourself, you can always ask questions about their career to start: “How did you come to be at organization X?” “What’s the most exciting/interesting project you’re working on currently?” People generally like to talk about their work (whether they love it or hate it), so you can pick up information on the organization that way.

      Hope this is helpful.

    2. sylph

      I’m no social butterfly either, and professional conferences were tough for me when I first started going.

      One nice thing is that you’re all there for the same reason (conference for X field) so there are some ready made conversation starters.
      -“This is my first time at the Southern Teapot Handle Designer’s Conference. I’m really impressed with the organization. Have you been here before?”
      -“That was a great presentation on the future of liquid caramel accents as selling points. I hadn’t thought about it quite that way before. What do you think?”
      -“I’m thinking of attending the session on crispy rice mix ins tomorrow, what are you planning to sit in on?”

      At most conferences I’ve been to, everyone has a name tag with their role and company on it, so you have some idea of who you’re talking to.
      “Oh, I see you’re in white chocolate drizzle–What do you think about the new requirements for at least 75% dark chocolate content in all drizzles that kick in next year?”
      -“Godiva Teapots! I hear they are a great company to work for. How long have you been there? Do you like it?”

      Many people will also be looking to network, and many will also probably be on the introverted side. If there’s a cocktail mixer or coffee hour or whatever, go. You don’t have to be the life of the party but you can probably find some like-minded souls around the periphery of the room or hanging out in the corner.

      Good luck!

    3. themmases

      My advice is based mainly on proctoring a yearly course at a HUGE conference in my city, but for what it’s worth:

      Get to stuff early. Everyone there is waiting for and interested in the same thing, unlike after when lots of people may be rushing off to another talk. People will be more likely to come up to you and confirm that they’re in the right place, or it’s normal for you to do that same. That easily segues into talking about why you’re there.

      Go to courses, especially software courses. I proctored a course for some open source software every year and people always ended up doubling up on computers. You can talk about the thing you’re working on the whole time without constantly having to come up with dazzling small talk.

      Go talk to the speaker at the end of things. I’ve never had to a bad reaction to waiting around to ask a real question of a guest speaker, and I’ve had some great conversations. If you have to wait to talk to them, you can talk to the other people milling around while you wait.

      1. Dana

        +1 to verifying you’re in the right place. I didn’t even realize this was an ice breaker I have used/had used on me until now!

      2. So Very Anonymous

        Second the talking to speaker advice.

        Another thing you can do is talk to people who ask questions in the Q&A, if you have relevant/related questions or thoughts — by asking/commenting, they’ve also given information about what they’re interested in, and you can build on that. Asking a question or commenting yourself is also good if you’re up for it — then someone may want to talk with you, and, you’ve given yourself even more of an opportunity to talk with the speaker/speakers (I’m in a field where most conference focus on panels rather than just individual speakers).

      3. So Very Anonymous

        Oh, and depending on your field, exhibitors might be useful to talk to. I kind of straddle two fields, and in one field, exhibitor are fun to talk to and also necessary to talk with if you’re looking to publish, because they’re usually publishers’ reps or editors. In the other field, talking with exhibitors is interesting too, but can also result in endless sales calls later, so, YMMV according to what they, and you, are there for.

        (Having been a publishing rep working conferences, just standing there at the table can get boring, and it can be nice to chat with conference attendees….)

    4. TheLazyB

      The last conference I was at, when I was there completely independently and felt quite like an imposter, I sat next to someone else on her own who looked friendly. She also felt like an imposter for competency different reasons and was really interesting to talk to :) I also figured out in a small session that I knew another woman’s boss and said ‘oh do you work for x?’ after dinner when she was sitting on her own. I figured out their emails afterwards and messaged to say hi, and they both seemed happy to hear from me.

      Sometimes even just the simple stuff works :)

    5. Sunflower

      I attend a lot of conferences as a planner and the groups I work with have a reputation for being introverts.

      – This sounds obvious but take advantage of the networking events. So many people just attend the conference but the real networking takes place afterwards
      – A lot of people don’t want to talk shop during the casual parts of the event. If you are having trouble adding input, sometimes just adding in reactions like ‘oh wow’ or ‘that’s so funny’ can help you be more involved
      – Realize a lot of people will be at these things alone so you’re not the only one on your own!
      – Don’t be afraid to put it right out there that you’re looking to move to the area. Something like ‘how long have you lived here? I’m thinking of moving to the area. Any tips?’
      – Try to get a list of attendees beforehand and check them out on LinkedIn to see if there are mutual contacts. That can also help with the list of things to talk about.
      – Make sure to get plenty of rest. Conferences are tiring and it’s important to get enough sleep so you have the energy and willingness to go to these events

  11. Happy Lurker

    Wondering if anyone out in AAM land has some advice on weather to lay someone off versus reducing their hours? This person is not a superstar and does not take on additional responsibilities.
    I have concerns about both situations.

    1. edj3

      Are you trying to reduce budget? Or is this question of lay off vs. reduction in hours specific to the employee?

      1. Happy Lurker

        Sorry, yes reduce budget. I meant to say that. Trying to balance the amount of info I put out.

        1. edj3

          You’ll want to run your numbers carefully then, because an employee is more than just the pay rate.

          Do you have a way to quantify the work your employee does? In other words, what’s the cost of not having that person produce your teapots?

          1. Happy Lurker

            That is my biggest concern. I can handle her teapots, but can I handle decorating, boxing, stacking, and shipping said teapots? That is what I keep bringing up to other manager.

            That is why we were thinking part time, because she gets the teapots done in 10 hours per week, but her decorating is elementary and her boxing is backwards. We both stack and I ship now, in addition to my duties.

            1. Diddly

              Love your explanation! Sounds better that you reduce to part-time but then I guess that depends on your contract with her how you could just suddenly cut her workload like that. Also I think you should give her a lot of warning before you do this – or give her the opportunity to resign, cutting someone’s hours down to 10 (a week/a month?) is dramatic and could put them in financial difficulty. So ultimately you might be driving her out to find something that provides full time hours or causing her a lot of stress. So warning is necessary! As either she’ll need to look for another part time job or just another job.

              1. Lindsay J

                Yeah, talking to the employee and offering an option (if you can, indeed, do either/or) might be the best thing to do.

                They may not be able to survive on part time hours and prefer to take the layoff instead.

                They may be completely fine with part-time hours.

                Or they may be willing to work part-time until they find a new full-time job or until you hire and train a part-time person to replace them.

                1. Happy Lurker

                  I feel like i am a day late and dollar short here with my response…We have spoken to them in regards to going part time. They are a very closed mouth person and never say anything. In meetings where we ask for feedback we generally get a shrug of shoulders or a non-committal sound.
                  I believe that we probably will sit them down and have a conversation about it. I just don’t know if it is going to even be productive.

      1. Happy Lurker

        It is a budget issue. Haven’t specifically spoken to employee about their desires. My concerns are other employees moral. If they stay part time will they cause more problems? Currently, they do not have enough to do and they don’t have initiative to take on more.
        I didn’t know if anyone experienced a situation before where they did one thing and really wished they had done another.

        1. Colette

          I’d probably go with laying them off (if they haven’t been talking about how they’d like to move to fewer hours) – a layoff forces them to find another job while collecting unemployment. It’s also a clean break for the employee and the organization. Just reducing someone’s hours is likely to force them to quit anyway, but will probably make the rest of your employees worry. (Well, they’ll worry about the layoff as well.)

            1. Emmie

              I 100% agree with the layoff. If this person were a stellar employee, my conversation would be much more different. I’d be giving that employee the option; however, with this individual it is better to lay them off.

    2. Natalie

      Which one achieves your budget number? If they both do, what’s the benefit to keeping them on part time?

      1. Happy Lurker

        Oh, that’s good. Lay off hits my numbers quicker. But part time keeps the teapots flowing better.

    3. AnnieNonymous

      What do you mean by not taking on additional responsibilities?

      Regularly taking on additional work that is outside of the scope of the original job description warrants a raise, if not a promotion…not a layoff. Have you given this person a reason to rise to your expectations?

      1. My Fake Name is Laura

        Also is this person aware of other additional opportunities? Maybe they’d be perfectly fine taking on additional work if you asked? A lot of this depends on the culture of your office too. Is it okay to ask for additional work or better to keep your head down & mouth shut?

      2. Diddly

        OP could also point out that this is expected, and if not achieved by x time consequences would be such. It’s unfair to lay someone off having never spoken about issues which are the cause of the lay off or assuming that they know what’s wrong, they might not be taking on extra work because they didn’t know it was expected and no one has talked to them about their behavior.

      3. Happy Lurker

        What I mean is that they do exactly what is asked and nothing more. Certain tasks remain undone until it is specifically asked (over 4 years of employment – these tasks were gone over the first month and it is in the training documents, which sit on their desk). If something comes across their desk that doesn’t look correct, they don’t notice.
        They have been sat down numerous times to ask them to grow into the position. To do the tasks efficiently and accurately. They have remained stagnant. While the budge allowed for that before, now it is apparent they need to go or be reduced into useable time.
        Manager continually hedges back and forth due to employees personal circumstance.

    1. I hate vanity projects

      By “vanity project”, I mean a business run by someone who doesn’t NEED the business to be profitable.

    2. HeyNonnyNonny

      One thing I’ve seen is a lot of drinking (by the owner, encouraging others to drink too) at business/social events. More of a ‘here to party’ vibe.

    3. Happy Lurker

      I don’t really know the signs. Except, maybe absenteeism. As in the owner is always out doing something else or on extended vacations.
      But if it’s a good job and seems profitable or the owner is willing to keep pumping money into it, it could be a good all around for you. Think networking, etc.
      My mom has spent 20 years working on and off again for a highly successful commodities broker. His vanity project was being a professor for a year.

    4. Dan

      They’re classified as a 501(c)(3)

      Sorry, couldn’t resit. But that’s because I work for a 7000 person company that isn’t profitable, and isn’t intended to be.

      1. I hate vanity projects

        ha, I guess I should have said “doesn’t need the business to make money”, since plenty of nonprofits have great leadership and pay their employees well.

    5. AnonAcademic

      The business owner has a spouse who makes six figures who plays an “investor” role in the business. Also if the business doesn’t keep regular hours.

      1. I hate vanity projects

        “The business owner has a spouse who makes six figures”

        Do you think there’s a way to find this out in the interview/application stage without crossing a line?

        1. College Career Counselor

          “What’s your strategy/timeline for growth in this company?” I’m thinking that if it’s a vanity project, they’ll not have thought much about it.

    6. Lizzy

      In my experience, it usually starts with the owner or founder coming from a wealthy background. Now that alone doesn’t mean someone doesn’t want something to be profitable, but it always the first thing you notice. Other clues are this person or the people in charge have an idealistic attitude that can seem out of touch with reality, and they love the idea of the product or service but have no real tangible business plan.

    7. Not So NewReader

      They are picky about their customers. They turn down business, randomly with no real reasoning.
      They seem to have no awareness of time- a 15 minute project takes three days.
      They over-invest in the wrong things.
      They place their business where there is not enough demand to sustain the business.
      They don’t have enough help or they have too much help (not paying attention to staffing levels).
      Property maintenance is an issue (mowing, weed-eating, etc).
      They are more interested in chatting with people than they are focused on the business.
      Business policies and procedures are not consistent/non-existent and, in extreme cases, they are detrimental to the business.

      It takes several things for me to believe that the person has a hobby not a business. No one thing is a tell-tale. It’s just my opinion, though.

      The real life example I am drawing on, the person had way too much going on already and never should have started the biz. They had the equivalent to 2 full time jobs and then they opened this business. It took them well over a year to open it- because they were decorating it. They stocked it with items that were not affordable to people in the area. The hours of business changed regularly. The staffing levels fluctuated. Staff could not easily contact the owners when something came up. Yes, one owner was passive and the other owner was active.

      The business finally closed down.

    8. Clever Name

      Hmm. Most entrepreneurs I know work insane hours. If the owner is never around and seems to not even put in 40 hours and they aren’t traveling to develop the business or attend committees or speak at conferences, it could be a vanity project. Same with the business not having regular hours. There was this one store at the shopping center my mom used to work at that was sporadically open. Customers would go up to the store wanting to go in and the store would be locked up. The owner seemed to come in when she felt like it, and it really seemed more like a hobby for her. The place didn’t last a year.

    9. asteramella

      If its business plan resembles the “cat park” sketch from Inside Amy Schumer.

  12. De Minimis

    Yay, it’s early!

    Today is my last day at my current job. I feel a lot of guilt and wish I could have done a better job of training the people who are supposed to fill in for me after I leave, but there was just too little time and training isn’t a strong point for me. Also, I think it’s really an apples and oranges situation as far as their current job as compared to my job. Have no idea what the plan is long term, but I guess it’s not my concern anymore.

    The good news…had a phone interview last week and they want me to come in for an in-person interview next week!
    So who knows, I might not have to go very long without a job….this seems like a better position, still in healthcare, maybe doing more interesting things. I’m really excited about it!

    1. Malissa

      Awesome news on the interview!

      Leaving any job is awkward. It’s hard to just walk away when you know they won’t quite fill the void as efficiently as you did. ;) But it’s not your problem and you’ll soon forget about it. :)

  13. self-conscious

    Has anyone had to deal with customers who make too-personal remarks but seem to think they’re being ‘caring’?
    When I worked in customer service there was this one customer (an otherwise pleasant enough middle aged lady) who would always comment on my weight, stuff like ‘oh you’ve been a bit naughty over the holidays’ or ‘my daughter’s really diligent about keeping fit, she can give you some tips if you like’ or ‘you look like you’ve lost weight, good for you!’. It’s amazing I didn’t develop some sort of eating disorder during that time. (I was close to 150 pounds back then, so maybe she had a point. But it didn’t really fluctuate much at all and most of the ‘changes’ she’d comment on were just down to wardrobe choices).
    and it’s not like I could’ve done anything about it. It’s usually a remark that comes at the end of a transaction and besides it’s part of my job to be polite, and from her tone I really don’t think she was trying to be malicious, but I still cringed everytime she came in. At least it was good practice for blocking out unsolicited opinions.

    1. Dasha

      You could use Alison’s line of, “I know you don’t mean any harm, but I’d appreciate it if you didn’t comment on my appearance. Thank you” in the nicest voice you can possible muster.

      1. Dasha

        Also, if you’re looking for another line for unsolicited opinions and advice (not appearance related) another reader suggested, “Why are you telling me this?” or “Why do you ask?”

        1. self-conscious

          Those are definitely better responses than my ‘awkwardly try to laugh it off’ approach!

          1. Dasha

            I’ve also found “Oh, OK” works sometimes or at least helps transition the conversation onto something else.

            1. Mimi

              I use this all the time. It throws people off, since they aren’t sure if I’m agreeing with them or blowing them off.

      2. MegEB

        I really like this advice and this is probably what Self-Conscious should go with. However, I would probably give her the stink-eye and say “Excuse me??” in the bitchiest voice I could muster. This is probably why I no longer work in customer service. Also, for what it’s worth those comments are completely out of line.

      3. kozinskey

        This is gold and I’m going to keep it in mind. I don’t know why anyone thinks someone else’s weight is a good subject to bring up to them.

    2. NYC Redhead

      That’s not caring, that’s rude. I would practice ignoring it completely. Or the non-commital, “Oh, you know how it goes!”

    3. College Career Counselor

      You had a concern troll/body image bully for a customer, there. I’m afraid I don’t have much practical advice (although I like what others below have said). I probably would have gone with stony silence.

    4. Natalie

      “Thanks for your concern” always comes across as “butt the eff out” to me, especially with a flat affect.

      1. JMegan

        I have a friend who likes to say “Thank you for your advice, I’ll give it the consideration it deserves.” Delivered in a polite tone, sometimes even with a smile, it’s a perfect conversation-stopper.

    5. Liane

      Oh, I feel for you. Some customer who was about 3 times my circumference–and I could do with a few less inches &/or pounds–once told me how fat my clothes made me look! But that was a one-off.
      What I usually have to deal with is snarks/advice/questions about my glasses & eyes. Bi-/tri-focals don’t help me because I have monocular vision* so I either am not wearing my glasses while working or I have to take them off when I read; plus, partly out of habit, hold what I’m reading close to my eyes. Thus a *ton* of stuff about how I am old enough for readers, what is wrong with my eyes, I must have trouble seeing, haven’t I heard of bifocals, maybe I need LASIK…Often in tones suggesting I am too stupid to know I need reading glasses &/or too vain to get them. I try to remember and use Miss Manners’ suggestion for customers/clients who keep on saying annoying or even outright offensive things: “Yes, Ma’am [or”Sir]. ?” Repeat as needed.

      *tl;dr: 1 eye handles my close vision, the other distance.

      1. Charlotte Lucas

        The only appropriate comment about someone else’s glasses is to compliment the frames. (Coke bottle glasses growing up. They complemented the orthopedic shoes so well. But in adulthood I’ve been called vain for wearing contacts – which will always give me better vision than glasses. And now I have readers for close work on top of them. My hat’s off to those with bifocal contacts. I didn’t enjoy the year of bifocals in grade school. They really made kickball HARD.)

        1. stellanor

          I tried on my mom’s bifocals once and promptly walked into a table. I’m impressed by anyone who can wear bifocal anything without serious injury.

    6. Charlotte Lucas

      If it’s not too awkward, you can ignore it an act as if she said something else. Or just deflect. “Have you heard about our great store news? We’re getting chocolate mint teapots in next week!” Basically, act as if you heard wrong, because no one would say such a thing in that situation.

    7. Sunshine Brite

      I feel bad for her daughter. Can you imagine what growing up with that is like?

    8. catsAreCool

      Look at her blankly, as if you’re thinking “Why is she saying this to me?” (sort of a blank but puzzled look) and say “Um.” in a tone of voice that sounds like you have no idea what to say to this because it’s so unexpected.

  14. The Bookworm

    Last night at dinner with friends, I found out that their employers ask for social media ids & passwords for part of the background check. Neither friend saw anything really wrong with it. After all, you can change your password after they access your account.

    It as been a couple of years since Alison answered a question about this: https://www.askamanager.org/2012/01/when-a-prospective-employer-wants-your-social-media-passwords.html

    I just can’t believe some (major) employers are still doing this.

    1. Ann Furthermore

      If a potential employer asked me for this information, it would be our last conversation. I get that most people have some sort of online presence, and I totally get companies wanting to check out what’s on your twitter feed or FB profile. But that’s it. If they can’t see it publicly, then that’s that. I have some stuff on my FB page I wouldn’t want a potential employer to see. And it’s not because it’s inappropriate, it’s because it’s private and none of their goddamned business. Like, I have one friend (who is an ex — we had a fling about 15 years ago) who I met up with again on FB. From the minute we met, almost, we had an instant rapport and could talk about anything — and we did, and often about very personal things. That hasn’t changed, and we talk quite a bit via FB personal messenger. It would be a violation of my privacy, and his, to give someone else access to that stuff.

      1. AnonEMoose

        I think my initial response would be, “So…you want me to violate Facebook’s terms of service?” And wait for the response.

        I could honestly assure them that I don’t post about work, I don’t friend coworkers (not while they’re current coworkers, anyway), and my profile is friends only (you can search and find me, but my posts are all limited to “friends only.”) And if they’re not willing to accept that, I don’t think it would be a good fit.

      2. Liane

        I would just tell them I don’t do Facebook, so no password. And they probably wouldn’t find me if they went looking. My resume’ has my legal name of Liane Maiden-Married but the FB account I didn’t admit to is Lia Married, and I don’t use Lia otherwise. You’d be surprised how many in-person friends have told me they can’t find me on FB because they know me as Liane. And these were people I had told clearly, “If you want to Friend me on FB, search for LIA Married, lives in Smallville.”

        Not sure if it would work so well now, since GamerNation blog posts links for articles I write and that side job is on my applications and resume’ because I often apply for writing &/or editing jobs.

      3. AnonAnalyst

        I agree. I would not provide this and would consider it a bullet dodged. I don’t even understand how that falls under a background check. Checking out the publicly available info maybe makes sense, but full account access? Never going to happen.

      4. Elizabeth West

        BINGO. Plus, it’s against FB’s and other social media’s terms of service to share your password. Don’t do it!

        This is NOT something they need. They’re being nosy and invasive and I wouldn’t want to work for a company that did such a thing.

      1. Lucky

        Right after they made this illegal in Washington, my employer issued a policy stating all employees had to create and maintain a LinkedIn account and give the company access to it (with proscribed passwords) and in the event the employee left, the company owned the LinkedIn account.

        The company? A law firm. Full of lawyers. Lawyers who (a) thought this was okay and (b) didn’t think to see if this would violate state law or LinkedIn’s terms of service.

    2. TheExchequer

      Yeah, that absolutely would not happen. With the private messaging I do to friends to vent about my current job and other extremely personal things? Not a chance.

    3. Me

      “Haha! Who knows their password? It’s saved ony computer. ”

      Yeah. No. They could change your password on you, send or delete messages. … Just no.

    4. Lady Bug

      No no no no no no no no no! Not only
      does it feel like an invasion of privacy, particularly on messenger where I frequently flirt with my husband, but it’s a red flag that the employer will take far too much interest in my personal life instead of the quality of my work.

    5. Mimmy

      My Facebook page is relatively boring, but I still would never give anyone my password. My page is locked down pretty good too. Not sure how harmful it is job-search wise, but that’s what I’m comfortable with. I’m glad that there are laws forbidding this–I just don’t think it’s appropriate to ask for personal information.

      1. stellanor

        My facebook is boring as hell but I wouldn’t give anyone else access to it because that would be violating the privacy of everyone who communicates with me via Facebook.

        And seriously there’s nothing an employer would care about there. Not even my facebook friends REALLY want to see 300 photos of my dog.

    6. ITPuffNStuff

      just echoing the agreement of others here. no reasonable employer is that interested in your personal life, and no one who understands basic boundaries is going to ask for this. i have no clue why your friends thought there was nothing wrong with this. it would be telling to hear what other boundary-crossing behaviors their bosses engage in, and what else they consider not to be a problem.

  15. Windchime

    So the creepy, over-qualified guy that we hired in December quit a couple of days ago. He got hauled into HR for a meeting with HR and two of the bosses in our department for a discussion of some kind, and he ended up quitting. For those who remember, he was way over-qualified for the “tester” position that he was hired for, and kept angling (hard) for a management position. He was condescending and rude to two of the women in our department (me and his manager).

    I am so glad he is gone. The vibe in the room is so much lighter and tension-free without him in it. My long national nightmare is over.

    1. Cruciatus

      This isn’t quite the same thing, but the newest admin has been out the last 2 days while her kids graduate and I have actually re-enacted the scene from The Sound of Music where she spins around at the top of the mountain in my enjoyment of her being gone. She’ll be back Monday, but I’ll take what I can get.

      1. Ann Furthermore

        LOL. I had an absolute crazy boss years ago. Technically, probably the smartest person I’ve ever worked for — she could probably recite GAAP in her sleep — and I learned a ton from her. But she was nuts and made everyone’s life miserable. She quit during December, and I referred to it as a Christmas miracle.

        1. Windchime

          Hahah, you guys are cracking me up. The Sound of Music is certainly playing in my heart, so I suppose the dance wouldn’t be totally out of line. He is/was so arrogant that there were palpable waves of it eminating from his person. He was clearly too smart and talented to work here, so I suppose it all worked out for the best.

          It’s amazing; the room is so peaceful and calm. I can hear people softly talking about work issues and the tapping of typing, and it’s just so nice.

    2. kozinskey

      My jerk coworker is out for three consecutive weeks this summer (sadly, the first week is already over) and I feel so much happier this way. I’m really hoping she’ll come to the same realization and decide to not come back.

  16. kimmy

    So, I have a question about promotions and looking for a new job. I have been at my job for two years, have been promoted once, and my supervisor has been discussing a promotion with me for months now. I came in at a lower level than my experience warranted, since it was shift in focus areas for me. The promotion will be determined if we can get the funding, and at this point, our funding has been cut, not increased.
    I don’t necessarily feel ready to move on from this job, but am feeling like I could use more challenging goals and, since I know now that a promotion would be warranted if the funding was there, underpaid. I have an initial interview next week for a new job that would be a step up, and am wondering if I should say something to my supervisor? She has been very supportive, and has been very open and honest with me about wanting to promote me but needs the funding to do so. Would it be wrong to move on, interview for new jobs, without warning her that this might happen?

    1. Colette

      It doesn’t sound like you’re underpaid – you’re just not earning as much as you would be if you held a higher-level job. And you didn’t come in at a lower level than your experience warranted, because your experience was in a different area.

      I don’t think you necessarily need to stick around (although it sounds like they’ve been good to you), but I do think your thinking is a little off.

      1. kimmy

        Oh huh, interesting. You are probably right. I have just been frustrated at this promotion opportunity that is being dangled, but my thinking is probably off.

        1. Colette

          Don’t get me wrong – the cut funding is a sign that you might be better off looking elsewhere, but when you do you’ll probably end up happier if you are able to evaluate your current job a little more objectively.

    2. Lead, Follow or Get Outta the Way!

      And if you’ve only been there two years and already received 1 promotion, I wouldn’t necessarily discount where you are so quick. It looks like this organization values you and looks to promote from within, so perhaps give it a little time before you jump ship. Personally I would consider moving on if the decrease in funding is actually threatening your current position, otherwise I would probably plan on giving them another year before re-evaluating your next move.

    3. Sara

      I’m in a similar situation right now, and the choice that I made is to search for a new job. I did tell my boss about it, but at what was a very natural opportunity to do so. (My current position is being eliminated and she wanted to discuss options for lateral moves within the organization.) I also really wanted to be able to use some folks from this job as references, but I didn’t feel comfortable asking them to keep their knowledge of my job search private. I can see where you might not want to share this information with your boss if you are on the fence about moving on (I am not – I strongly feel that I am ready to move to the next level), but if you have a good relationship and it would bring you peace of mind, I think you should do it.

  17. HereWeGoAgain

    We recently hired a new office manager to replace me after I was promoted. She quit after a week. I think it’s because our boss was used to delegating everything to me so he just kept throwing tasks at her before she really knew what was going on. When he asked me what I thought happened I was trying not to be directly critical because he gets really defensive, so I said I thought we overwhelmed her, that maybe I trained her too fast (when really I was just trying to keep up with all the requests she was getting hit with) and he requested too much of her too fast. He insisted that he’d barely talked to her at all her first week, just met with her once, I think because he was so used to telling me, “Call this person, follow up on this, do this thing” that he didn’t even register that he was doing the same thing with her. We’ve hired a replacement and now he’s convinced he needs to micro manage how I train her so she doesn’t get overwhelmed. Ugh.

    1. NJ Anon

      Yikes! I hate when my manager tells me how to manage my direct reports. I mean, if I can’t do it, why’d you give me the job?

    2. Colette

      I think you need to suggest a training plan where she only handles X issues week 1, X+Y week 2, etc. so that she can learn at a reasonable pace. I don’t think you’re doing anyone any favours by saying you trained her too fast – that’s not the issue and fixing it won’t change the outcome.

      1. puddin

        This. Create a training plan. Day be day topic by topic. Let Boss review it by saying, “I took your advice and created a plan so we do not overwhelm the new office manager.” Add the ‘took your advice’ part so that you can influence your boss by helping him see that this was his idea (more or less).

        Also, next time unless you really feel like you messed up, do not take the hit. You said you trained the new manager too fast so now your boss feels like he has to step in because your competency took a hit. I am familiar with the idea of falling on your sword, but it will damage your reputation. People are all too ready to believe that you were the one who erred instead of themselves.

  18. {Last Name Here}

    Happy story!

    A few months ago I was very stressed about the work level of our department. Unfortunately, when other departments break their teapots, it almost always substantially increases our work load. Since the occurrences were usually infrequent, I didn’t want to hire more people for a few weeks and then have everyone sitting around bored because there isn’t enough work to do. In the past, I’ve just put in extra hours for the few days it takes to get everything back up to date. However, over the winter and early spring, what was once something that happened every few months was happening multiple times per week, pushing our department further and further behind. As a result I was working 15 hour days 6 days a week, and ‘only’ ten on Sundays for a couple of months and we were still behind. It got to the point where I was pulled into the office of my boss’s boss, and was pretty certain I was going to lose my job. Until… He said that he appreciated all the work I’d been doing, but things were obviously not my fault and I didn’t need to feel responsible for fixing them by myself. We brainstormed ways to handle these issues when they arise (as they certainly will continue to happen). At one point, I was so relieved that I was trying very hard not to cry. He said something about me looking like I was going to cry and it didn’t bother him, I should do it if I needed to, and then he moved on to the next thing. I was pretty floored by the meeting and his way of handling things.

    A few days later he called me to follow up and said they were concerned that if I got too stressed, I would start looking elsewhere. I felt a little like I was jumping off a cliff, but told him that I had interviewed with several world famous teapot makers recently and had thought pretty seriously about leaving. He asked what they would have to offer for me to go. I named a few of the things I considered big pluses and he was silent for a minute. Then he asked me to give him a little time to see what they could offer. The next week my boss pulled me back in to offer me a new job where I can pretty much make it what I want to be. Well, unless it’s napping and eating bon bons. I don’t think that would fly. It’s been a few months and things are infinitely better. I don’t have everything I listed as reasons to go, but there have been huge steps in the right direction. Next week I’ll be acting as a spokesperson for our teapots on a national tv program. I’m pretty excited about my job now, in a way that I hadn’t been in awhile. And hopefully, I’ve picked up some great tips on how to handle members of your team when they are overwhelmed or thinking about leaving.

    1. Daenerys

      That’s amazing! It sounds like you are an exceptional employee, and that your boss knows it!

    2. Diddly

      A nice employer who values you! Good to hear :) CONGRATS! Hope it keeps getting better.

    3. Not So NewReader

      Congratulations- this is great news.

      Did you have to pinch yourself to make sure you weren’t dreaming?

  19. LibrarianJ

    What is the appropriate etiquette for work-shower thank yous? My coworkers threw me one last night and it was so sweet, so I really want to make sure I thank everyone properly. It would be difficult to write individual thank-yous because the department took up a collection to buy a few big gifts and I have no idea who contributed. I would definitely write an individual note to my boss who organized everything.

    Local culture seems to be to send a department-wide e-mail with thanks, but I’ve also variously been told by friends/read online that I should: also write individual notes for the folks who actually attended (even though I know this excludes some people who were really into it and had conflicts come up); write individual notes for everyone on staff; throw a bagel party or some other goodies with a card for everyone on staff. What’s the appropriate response? I want to express my gratitude but also not go overboard or make anyone feel weird.

    I’m also not sure of the etiquette for a few people outside of my department who I know were invited, but did not attend. Since it’s summer in academia I’m not even positive if they saw the invitation. Is it appropriate to ask my boss who she heard back from?

    1. NYC Redhead

      My local culture is also to send a thank you to all who were invited. If there were people active in planning it, maybe you could send them a written note. I think giving any kind of party back would be overkill.

    2. Elkay

      I’d go with local culture and send the email. Not sure what type of shower it was but for baby I’d send a card/email pic of baby using whatever was given. If it was wedding bring in some goodies either left over cake/favors or some food from wherever you honeymoon.

      1. LibrarianJ

        Thanks — it was a wedding shower. The food after is a good idea! We didn’t do favors, and we won’t be going on a honeymoon this year (too much money / time off of work), but there might be leftover cake or I could just make something special to make up for it.

        1. the gold digger

          We had a baby shower for a woman at work. I contributed to the group gift because 1. I didn’t know her and 2. I am lazy.

          I was pleasantly surprised – no – very impressed – to find on my desk a few days later a handwritten thank you note with a little bag of cookies. She definitely did it right!

    3. Dawn

      Can you find out who all was invited and just reply to all of them? Since it was a whole bunch of people and you don’t know who contributed what, I think the least stressful thing to do would be a big heartfelt email saying that you don’t know who all did what, but omg thanks it was amazing I’m so grateful etc etc. Maybe also see if your boss knows the names of the planners, or of people who put in particular effort, and then sending them a card directly.

      1. LibrarianJ

        The entire department was invited, as were two former coworkers and very small number of people I know from another department (my boss had to ask me for those names and my wedding registry, so it wasn’t a total secret), so I could easily message everyone invited.

        My boss handled pretty much everything herself (decorations…ordering…invites…) but I know our administrative assistant would have helped with the collection/card if nothing else. Maybe I could ask my boss if anyone else helped her plan. The group e-mail is definitely least stressful — I just really don’t want to break etiquette or offend anyone. I have always been on the other side of these kinds of things!

    4. Sunshine

      I was involved in planning a shower for a coworker, she followed up by sending everyone a thank you note and those who she knew were heavily involved, a small gift/token of appreciation.

    5. danr

      Go with the local practice since it takes care of all of your questions. Don’t throw another party as a thank you, but you can bring in stuff later on.

    6. ThursdaysGeek

      Others are saying an email thank you is adequate, if that is the culture. If you can also make a physical thank you card, perhaps sent to the entire group, or for each sub-group as you know, that would be nice in addition. Perhaps direct in the email where the physical card is.

      For shower gifts, a real card is usually the best way to go. A group card is acceptable when a group gift is given. Individual gifts should get individual cards.

  20. Anon for This

    I am still struggling with Alison’s advice on focusing on achievements on your resume. I am in a field that doesn’t lend itself to metrics or provable results. If folks could share some of theirs (anonymized or not), I might be inspired.

    1. Dawn

      At my last job I was working on what was basically vaporware so I didn’t have any metrics like “Did this thing which then got pushed live to 50K customers blah blah blah” but what I *did* have was stuff like “Gave presentations on (thing) to SVP and CXO level managers” and “Researched and strategized implementation of X new feature which was then included in Y version of Product” or whatever. So no I can’t say “hey I did this thing and it made the company a million dollars” but I can say “hey I did all the research and strategy into putting this new feature into our product and then presented it to the CXO and then it got put in the product and I advised everyone on how to do it woo isn’t that awesome?”

    2. littlemoose

      Have you checked the AAM archives? I know she did a post about how to write an accomplishments-focused resume in fields that don’t easily lend themselves to metrics.

    3. HigherEd Admin

      I struggled with this for a while, too. Here are some bullet points I finally landed on:

      “Updated travel policies and contracted an online travel service to provide a costs savings of $X”
      “Awarded the Francis Scott Key Key for providing support beyond the position’s scope”
      “Oversaw the planning and execution of a range of events and programs, including two major industry events of 400 attendees each year.”
      “Reduced attendee attrition by X% in two months, utilizing feedback gathered from event surveys”
      “Created Software Program manual that increased staff training efficiency and reduced user error by 25%”

    4. Diddly

      I did a really admin heavy repetitive job where ther was no chance of promotion or gaining new tasks (so glad I left!) but I was conscientious and tried to trouble-shoot issues we had, I iniated ‘ventures’ – changes in procedure that helped us improve our targets. Also I worked in a difficult ‘industry’ in terms of what ppl were having to deal with when they spoke to us- use to demonstrate great comm skills and dealing with diff/stressful situations.
      So what processes are your friends surprised by your work/ wouldn’t like to do but you can handle well?
      Have you initiated any changes?
      Were you complimented on anything/received good appraisals/ rewards?
      Don’t think it has to be so number based – just how you are good at the job, what you bring to it – sometimes things that everyday in your job wold be overwhelming for an outsider

  21. Ali

    I am in NYC today to interview with a small PR agency. I also had an interview earlier in the week for an assistant event planner job and a phone screen Wednesday for a job with an NYC medical group.

    Things are still happening but I am getting worn out on hunting and traveling to interviews. I am taking a break from NYC job hunting for a couple weeks after today bc my family and I have a busy June planned. It’s also kind of a rough day in NYC, as it’s raining and my interview look will probably go to crap. :/

    Please send any thoughts you have for continued positivity on the job hunt front!

    1. HigherEd Admin

      Good luck! I’m also in NYC and had an interview on Monday, when the weather was that horrendous rainy mist that makes umbrella use completely pointless. My interviewers (fortunately) totally understood. Rain makes everyone in NYC a little sympathetic.

  22. Treena Kravm

    Australian readers! Any Oz-specific resume advice for someone abroad. For example, should I have an employer description to give my employment context?

    Also, I hear over and over again that “business casual” is very, very casual. Should I be packing slacks and heels or would that be a waste of space? I know it’s employer-dependent, but I’m wondering about general trends, especially in the non-profit sector.

    1. araminty

      That kind of depends on the “abroad” you’re going to :)

      I didn’t make many changes to my resume when I moved from Aust to California in 2009. I did change the terminology a bit in my Education section, as a “graduate diploma” isn’t a thing over here – just explained it was a one-year postgraduate qualification.

    2. TL

      Is there a company website where they post group photos of current workers to see what they’re wearing? If not, my go to business casual is a white 3/4 sleeve blouse, knee length khaki skirt, and ballet flats. The lighter colors keeps it form being too ‘conservative’ and the neutral tones keep it from feeling to causal. Also as a former AU Expat. do layers, unless your from similar tropical climates, a Ozzy winter can feel like late fall at it’s coldest to people uses to snow in the winter, and a sauna in the summer.

      As for resume advise none that I can think of, I believe the only thing that threw me at first was when they asked for a cv, curriculum vitae. It’s like a Cover Letter and Resume rolled into one, mostly used in the US for academic positions, but the companies I interviewed with all asked for one even though I applied for Finance Related positions.

      1. Treena Kravm

        So I’m finding conflicting advice on length of a CV. Some places insist that it should be 1-2 pages max (so really a resume that we’re calling a cv) and others insist on pages of descriptions. So which is it? I have 3 years post-college experience and a lot of during-college experience. What length should I be shooting for?

        1. Ismis

          Also in Australia and I’ve seen both… I asked my actual Australian mate though and he says max two pages is good :)

    3. jesicka309

      I’m Australian!
      In most companies I’ve seen, business casual is “what you would wear out to dinner with your parents”. At least, that’s how I shop for it. Dark wash jeans, a nice (non-revealing) top, cardigan or blazer, nice boots/heels/flats. Other options – Leggings + long tunic, basic sheath dress with tights, nice top + skirt (nothing too ‘suit’ like), basic black slacks + nice top.
      I’d leave your suiting pieces at home, unless your jacket is really neutral and can be worn with jeans. You’re really aiming for dressy casual in many respects. I’ve always shopped with the maxim that if I’d wear it out for a nice dinner with mum and dad, it’s work appropriate. Obviously no glitter, no cut outs, no midriff, but you get the idea.
      For men, standard fare is dark jeans/slacks, a collared shirt (polo or button up), and a nice pullover jumper. Some switch the pullover for a blazer, others wear both.

      1. Treena Kravm

        Thank you! Literally everything you listed are either things I wear every day or for work, so that’s a relief! What would you recommend for interviews? I’m thinking the black slacks and nice top, if I should leave the suits at home?

        1. Ismis

          I see a lot of people wear suits to an interview but I work in a more traditional industry. Maybe slacks and a nice top but carry a suit jacket? You can throw it on if you feel underdressed but it’s less conspicuous if you’re running out on your lunch hour to go to an interview (wait… That was me :))

  23. to

    Okay, I know we generally don’t like to “read the tea leaves” at AAM, but I’m interested in others’ experiences with this.

    When I applied for the job I have now, the salary was listed. Now I’ve come to learn that this is not standard practice here. If only one (or a few) jobs at an organization list salary, do you think that’s a sign the salary is low, high, or something else?

    Anyone else had the experience of being the only one at your office with a publicly listed salary? So far, no problems, but it does make me curious.

    1. Sunflower

      I don’t think the salary being listed means anything. Were you able to negotiate your salary at all? Some companies have positions where the salary is set at X, no matter what, no negotiation. You might just be in a position like that and they wanted to make it clear up front.

      Or maybe your company let’s hiring managers make job postings and your manager thought it was important to include salary but other managers don’t feel the same way.

      1. to

        All good points!

        In this case, I was able to negotiate and I have seen other postings from the same manager with no salary listed, so still a bit of a mystery!

    2. fposte

      I think it means there was a different hiring manager for that job–or there was once and they just updated the template.

    3. College Career Counselor

      In higher ed, when I see the salary listed (or if it’s communicated in the screening interview), I generally assume that it means “it is what it is–this is our range” and that negotiation is probably not possible. I don’t think that there’s enough information to determine if it’s low/high.

    4. BRR

      It means the salary was listed.

      Also if it’s union then they might have to. But all it means is the salary is listed.

  24. Clarissa

    I’ve always been employed at companies where work relationships are (generally) contained to work. Not many people become friends with their coworkers and socialize outside of the office. This is of course not true for every single person and I have met a few people that I hang out with outside of work. But generally, the culture is that work relationships are separate from social relationships.

    On the flip side, one of my past roommates worked at a smaller start up that employed (mostly) young people around her age. They worked long hours and many of her close friends were from work. She would socialize with them multiple times a week outside of the office – happy hours, dinners, even attending events and doing overnight trips. Her manager (who was not much older than she is) would often join. Although my roommate made a lot of friends, she did not enjoy the long hours and inter-office drama and eventually moved on.

    I prefer the first work culture of keeping things separate, but I’m curious as to what you (and others) prefer personally and what you think about the second type of culture (which seems to be growing in popularity) and whether it’s viable.

    1. College Career Counselor

      Generally, I prefer not to cross the work life and personal life streams. This doesn’t mean that I’m not friendly with my colleagues or that I can’t or don’t go to lunch with them–regularly, even. But I tend to be very judicious about what I’ll talk about in my personal life, even in those situations where I have close relationships and a great deal of shared history . I have excellent relationships with my colleagues, but I remain uncomfortable with social events at work that have me in the center spotlight (birthdays, baby showers) or that have an element of artificial and slightly coercive socializing aspect (all-college ice cream socials/picnics, mandatory attendance at the VP’s holiday party).

    2. Jennifer

      Probably depends on the job and culture and how nice everyone is and if they have anything in common. My first job had relatively young people and yes, we did hang out at the bar across the street after work frequently. It was fun. At my current job, we can’t even have lunch together like, at all, and almost everyone Has Families, so most people don’t socialize off the clock. A few do, but I’m not invited. Ah well.

    3. S

      I went from your roommate’s situation in my old job to your situation in my current job. Personally, I do prefer the smaller start-up environment–we were a very close-knit team and company, which was useful in the type of work that we did. The people I worked with are some of the most dynamic people I’ve ever met and it was incredible, being surrounded by that type of energy all the time. But there are perks to what I have now–more “me” time, for example, and more time for other friends outside of my office.

      But still, If I really had to pick, I’d choose something like your roommate’s situation (minus the drama!)

    4. BRR

      I tried to make a work friend and it blew up in my face. We’re civil to each other and you can’t tell anything but yeah.

    5. Anonymusketeer

      I have relocated for all of my post-college jobs, so I typically go in hoping to make friends with at least some of my coworkers. I’m often disappointed when someone doesn’t seem to want to hang out after work or on the weekends, but I’ve learned to remind myself that they probably just like to keep their work and professional lives separate.

    6. ThursdaysGeek

      I realized recently that I’m quite happy with my job right now, and it’s because I have some newer co-workers that I think are going to become very good friends. We walk together and can talk about all sorts of things.

      None of us are that young, but we are different ages, at different stages of life, so it’s not that we’re the same. Nor are we working closely together or working long hours. We’re just people who like each other. So it’s not the work that is drawing us together.

      I’ve also become friends over the years with former coworkers, as we meet for breakfast or lunch periodically. Initially it was to keep in touch, and now it’s because we’ve become friends. Some of those friendships have been continuing for 25 years! I regularly meet with people from three former jobs.

      Work can be a place to make friends, and I think it can be a good thing.

      1. Windchime

        Yes, this. I’ve always made friends at work. Sometimes the friendships don’t last after one of us leaves the job, but many times it does. I’m not a super social person, so work is really my main opportunity to connect with people. I don’t make tons of friends and I’m really careful who I confide in about personal stuff, but I do usually make it a habit to make friends at work. I also have other “work friends” who I go to lunch with but that’s as deep as it goes.

    7. hermit crab

      I started my current job (several years ago) as part of a small cohort of entry-level staff who were all hired around the same time. We all became friends quickly, spent time together outside of work, and are mostly still friends even though several of us have dispersed to different cities. I’m even inviting the core group to my upcoming wedding. That said, there are two of us left at the company and I’m really glad that the other one (now a very close friend) has since moved to a different department, so that we don’t actually work together anymore. We can go to lunch and complain good-naturedly about general office annoyances without worrying that one of us will need to manage the other on a project.

    8. Dan

      There’s differences between “people I work with” and “people I know from work.” I’m a-ok socializing with people I know through work. But people I have to *work with* as in deal with, argue, and get pissed off at? I can only take so much of you, and I can’t always put on a happy face in front of you after work. The whole point of throwing a few back and letting loose a bit, is to throw a few back and let loose a bit.

    9. fposte

      I work with my best long-term friends, but this is academics so things run a little differently here. There’s been the occasional glitch, but we’ve worked through it, and it’s getting close to twenty years now.

      The downside I encounter, for the friend I work with most closely, is that work can end up substituting for social time with the friend. That’s the thing I try consciously to avoid.

    10. it happens

      I was just having this discussion with someone last week. I have never worked with people my own age (+/- five years) and so have always been at a different life stage than co-workers, meaning that we would be social at work, lunch, chatting, etc. but not outside. My sister, on the other hand, has always worked with groups of people who were her age, really nice and social – so she and a lot of her coworkers met their spouses at work, even if they don’t all work together now (though some of them do.) I would have preferred to have the choice to make social friends at work, but my career path just didn’t work out that way.

    11. Elizabeth West

      I generally keep it separate. I’ve found that when you leave a job, unless you ended up besties for life with someone and your kids are practically growing up together, then you never see them again. There are exceptions. I do have people from Exjob with whom I’m friends on Facebook, and I sometimes have lunch with my former supervisor (not the last one–the one before that), and there is one person who is now out of that job and we’re still friends (though we barely see each other), but that’s basically it.

      As for relationships at work, there are several couples here who met here and married, but I don’t think that’s feasible for me. 1) There isn’t anyone I’d be interested in who would be interested in me, and 2) if it goes bad, I can’t afford to lose a job over a guy no matter how hot he is.

      I try to be nice to everyone and friendly, and that’s what I get back, for the most part.

    12. Rebecca

      Yeah, I definitely prefer to keep work and personal life separate. I have become close with some coworkers and socialized with them outside of work, but we honestly did most of our socializing during lunch or outside of work hours.

      One of my good friends (who I met at work, ha!) socializes with her coworkers a lot, her new job is a lot like your friend’s. And she just got promoted to manager, I think it would just be too weird to have to write my friend’s performance reviews and such.

    13. Cath in Canada

      I’ve always had work friends. Most have been the type of friends where you’ll socialise with them at after-work drinks, or lunch during the work day, but never see them on weekends; others are “real” friends that I’ll spend time with on weekends, we know each others’ partners, visit each others’ homes, etc. Even in the one job where most people were almost completely asocial, I managed to find a couple of people to be friends with. I think social people always seem to recognise each other – like gaydar, but bardar or something like that :) I’m still friends with people from jobs I had >10 years ago.

      I prefer it this way, but totally get why other people wouldn’t like it! Part of it might be industry- and location-specific, too: I’m in academic science in a city that’s already very diverse, and I love having friends who come from all over the world. My husband’s friends mostly all grew up here, and while some of them are lovely, their conversations don’t tend to be quite so interesting! Academics also tend to move around a lot, especially in their early careers, and having twice been that person who was new to the country and didn’t know anyone, I’ll make a point of asking new arrivals if they want to join us for after-work drinks or something.

    14. Sunflower

      As usual…it depends. I totally get what your roommate is saying. Often times, companies offer these perks to compensate for the long hours and sometimes low pay. We have a company that is ‘trendy’ to work at. Truthfully, everyone I know who works there is miserable, the hours are terrible. But hey you can bring your dog to work and crack a beer open on Friday afternoon so that makes it all worth it?

      I wouldn’t mind working long hours but I’d have a hard time doing it unless I was properly compensated or I really believed in what I was doing. Friendship and happy hours are not enough to take me away from my ‘real’ social life.

    15. Lady Bug

      It’s more on an individual basis for me. I am friendly to everyone until you give me a reason not to be, but I have made some lifelong friends at work and I even married a coworker (still going strong 15 years later). I don’t mind socializing with coworkers, but I don’t get into my personal life unless we become true friends.

  25. Sunshine

    Interviewers: What are your favorite/most insightful questions for candidates? And what kind of responses are you looking for?

    1. fposte

      I really like specifics about what they did or what they might do, so “Tell me about a time when” and “Here’s a situation we might encounter–what would you do?” are always really illuminating (and often just plain fascinating).

      1. stellanor

        My “favorite” (sarcasm quotes!) is when you say “Tell me about a time when…” and they respond with generic descriptions of what they think they might do, and even after you ask them to please tell you about a specific situation four times phrased four different ways AND ask them if they ever encountered a similar situation at Chocolate Teapots Limited because it sounds like the kind of thing that might come up there, they still refuse to give specifics.

        Then you determine they can’t follow directions.

    2. AnotherFed

      I almost always ask them to tell me about a major mistake they made and what they did about it. Everyone’s messed something up, but admitting it, fixing it, and preventing it from happening again are the parts I care about. It’s also interesting to see what mistakes people will admit to in an interview – some people won’t come up with anything more serious than a typo, some people admit horrible things, and some people give me really thoughtful answers.

    3. Clever Name

      figure out what qualities a person needs to have to do well in the role and. Ask “tell me about a time” questions aimed at evaluating that.

  26. Kate

    Here’s a question: is there some kind of way to hint at your supervisors that you’re unhappy in your job? I am hoping to leave soon, because I am just a thorough mismatch with the position and loathe it deeply, but I do generally like and respect my managers, so I try hard and act pleasant. But it’s a pretty hands-off management style (not a bad thing), and I don’t think they know I’m miserable, and I’m wondering if they’ll feel blindsided or betrayed if I come to them soon and say I’m turning in my two weeks notice. Especially since I’m looking at like, data-entry jobs, because this position has drained me completely and I need to do mindless work for a while while I regroup and figure out the next steps. (I’ve got enough savings to do that for a bit.)

    I would be happy to stay here if I could take on a position that had nothing to do with what I currently do, but that doesn’t seem likely – tiny office. Is there some way to have that conversation without jeopardizing my current position should the job hunt take a while? Or is it always just kind of a surprise when a good employee leaves? (Or are managers better at reading employees than I think they are?)

    1. Jennifer

      I wouldn’t say anything. I’m in a similar boat and while they can already figure out which aspects of the job I hate (I’d be happy to stay here if they’d just take me off public service), they absolutely can’t do anything to accommodate that and they would probably rather I quit and leave entirely (hey, one less salary to pay, never mind that the few people left are drowning!) than try to shift my responsibilities to make me happy and keep me. It would also really piss off my coworkers even if they were willing to drop me out of those parts of the job. If I flat out put it on the record that I’m unhappy and want out, I think it would only make things worse here and make me even more of a target. I think this sort of idea about talking it out is for people with some level of power, but not peons like myself.

      They’ll feel blindsided/betrayed whether or not they know you want out, because then they have to cover for you. That’s just the nature of anyone leaving.

    2. Future Analyst

      It depends on your current relationship with them, and how you think they may react to having a conversation about you potentially leaving. Is there anything they can change to retain you? And what are you looking to get out of the conversation, other than letting them know you’re looking to leave? Once you have those items sorted out, you should be able to assess whether or not it’s worthwhile to have such a talk before you find something new.

    3. Sunflower

      First- realize there is no way to ‘betray’ your company unless you do something unethical or illegal. Taking a new job and not telling anyone you were searching is no unethical. It’s smart.

      Well what is the likelyhood of a position being available? Does someone have to die for you to move up? The last person who advanced from my position was my boss. This was 6 years ago. For some small companies, there’s just nowhere to go and people will understand that. Weigh your options here. If you really believe there is nowhere else your company can put you, don’t mention it. i don’t see any good coming from it.

    4. Chriama

      Is there anything they could do that would make you want to stay? Would more money get you to stay, or better hours? Would they be willing to get another employee, even part-time, to take some responsibilities off your plate?

      If there’s nothing they could do to get you to stay, there’s no point in having the conversation. If you have a good relationship with your manager and there are things they could do to get you to stay (even if you think it’s unlikely they’d want to do those things), it’s still worth bringing up. You can have a conversation about aspects of your job that you’d like to change without making it sound like an ultimatum.

    5. BobbyTwin

      This reminds me of the Amy Schumer sketch where she’s on a reality TV show to dump her boyfriend. “Do you want it to be a total surprise or a slow realization?”

  27. New manager

    First time posting on a thread here! I am currently in a position to move up to management and my boss wants me to look into potential courses/trainings for developing strong management skills.

    Has anyone on here taken a training they felt was extremely useful in their management career? Are there any programs I should stay away from? I studied Business Management in school and know a lot the theories behind good management and leadership, but I’m looking for something that’s more hands on and based on real situations (hence why I’m so happy to have found this blog!)

    Any ideas or suggestions would be IMMENSELY helpful! Happy Friday!

    1. puddin

      My fave topics:
      Change Management
      Crucial Conversations
      Effective Business Communication
      Goal Setting
      Project Management for non PM profressionals

      1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)

        I can second this. My last org hired the Management Center to do our internal management training, and they were transformative.

    2. FJ

      Congrats!
      Can you look to your industry for management classes specific to your processes?
      I’ve taken a few that are specific to new engineering managers and software development management that are used by our company, helpful so far.

    3. KathyGeiss

      Any sort of personality course that involves a 360 review would be really valuable.

  28. Shell

    Ugh.

    Despite the compliments last week (and I even got one yesterday), I have still embarrassed myself several times this week through screwups big and small. I am so frustrated at how green and inexperienced I am.

    Impostor syndrome at full swing here. Here’s to hoping no one wants to run me through with a forklift (figuratively).

    1. AvonLady Barksdale

      Ugh indeed. It is SO HARD to get past your own head. I’m there now too– getting compliments but still thinking I suck, making mistakes (that often aren’t really mistakes), second-guessing myself constantly.

      Here’s the thing: I seriously doubt anyone wants to run you through with a forklift. How long have you been there? There are some things to remember about people: they’re generally more sympathetic than you give them credit for, and they often don’t really care that much about what you’re doing. Case in point: I work with someone who totally takes her moods and issues with other people out on me (and others). For weeks, I thought she hated me, thought I was incompetent, was frustrated with me, thought I was a pain in the ass, etc. I had an incident yesterday that made me realize what was going on– nothing to do with me. Which also sucks, because that’s shitty, but learning this? Liberating.

      You’re still new, right? You gotta get the lay of the land. Keep those eyes open and try hard to fight your demons until you’re a little more secure in your position. And if you can, take a day off. I give you permission to wake up with a migraine on Tuesday.

      BREATHE. :)

      1. Shell

        I’ve been here a little over three months. And yeah, I know chances are they aren’t really fantasizing about running me through with a forklift. I’m just…very frustrated at myself a lot.

        No taking days off. We’ve a huge work event kicking off next week and everyone’s in full out workworkwork mode. I can dream, though.

        I’m also sleeping less, though that has less to do with work and more to do with the fact that my body is seasonal and likes to wake up with the sunrise. Which means in the summer I’m awake by 5:30 bloody am. Ugh.

        1. AvonLady Barksdale

          Three months is a drop in the career bucket– there is at LEAST a three-month learning curve at every new job! I was completely dejected when I hit three months and still felt overwhelmed, then I hit six months and still felt that way, and my boss reminded me that it’s “only” been six months and I’ve come so far already, even if I didn’t think so. And you have too.

          I hear you on the sunrise– not only do I wake up with the sun, my dog wakes up with the birdies. Can’t win. But take those breaths and look for some time to take a breather down the road.

          Just keep swimming, just keep swimming… You’re doing fine

        2. Nanc

          Oh the early summer wake up thing! Blech. I schedule myself an after-work nap every Wednesday–come home and sleep for 3 hours and then get up and just do the basic stuff that needs to get done. I’ve found this gives me more energy. Mind you, I’m one of those people who is able to nap easily and wake up ready to function.

        3. JMegan

          It took me a solid six months in my current job before I started to feel like I knew what I was doing. Some jobs just take a while to settle in to. And you know, I take that as a good thing, because it means I’m learning and growing and doing new things.

          The trajectory that led me here was that I was stagnating and burnt out in a long-term job, and ended up getting let go. Took a mat leave contract (1 year in Canada), which was essentially the same job I had left; then my next job after that was the same job again. So I started two jobs in a row with basically no learning curve, and I knew what I was doing within a couple of weeks. Believe me, that was worse! Some days here I still feel like a complete newbie and that I’m not up for the challenge, but it’s definitely better than the alternative.

          1. Not So NewReader

            Yeah, I was going to say six months to a year.
            I hope you can find ways to be easy on yourself. One thing I like to do is compare me now with me on my first day. Biiiig difference usually.
            Another thing that I have found helpful is to use my commute time or early morning quiet time to picture the steps to various tasks over and over in my head. Being away from the place seems to be key. It makes my brain work harder at thinking it through.

            All the compliments in the world are not going to do much if you do not allow yourself to feel good about them. How about keeping a compliment journal and making yourself read it over and over?

            You will be okay. Keep going.

    2. Nanc

      At my very first part-time job (fast food!) way back when, the training manager said he expected me to make mistakes but that he expected them to always be new mistakes. I embraced that idea and it has served me well the past 40 years. Making mistakes is part of learning any new job and figuring out how to not make them in the future is part of the learning process. As other folks are saying, you’re doing fine. If it will make you feel better, document your mistakes, how you fixed them, what you’re going to do to prevent them in future. That info will be helpful when you have your first review and may also help you let go and move forward. As Red Green says, we’re pullin’ for ya–remember, we’re all in this together!

    3. Sunflower

      If it helps, I’m currently working with someone who is fresh in their job and they keep messing up little things. I don’t find it annoying at all and I’m kind of worried they think I’m annoyed with them. I know they’re still learning!

  29. Cruciatus

    I finally received a call to set up a phone interview! It’s in the same city, just at another school and the HR director said benefits would be similar, though he was amazed my current employer pays our insurance premiums (in my interview with the provost 4 years ago I asked for $10/ hour instead of $8 and was told, “No, but we pay your insurance so it’s like making $10 an hour.” OK, not really). Anyway, he told me the position (student records assistant) pays in the mid-20s and then he asked what I was thinking. I asked about flexibility in the salary and he said “I don’t want to say no, but…” and said I was thinking $14-15 an hour. He made me feel sort of like a jerk by implying that I was haggling over $2000-ish bucks. (Um, yeah. I feel like I will never make $30,000 a year and I’m already 34–note: I did not say this!) According to many people I spoke to that have interviewed there they’ve never had to do a phone interview so I wonder if he’s doing it for me because we were somewhat off about the salary. He said something about doing it to see if the position was something I’d still like to do. Someone will call me next week to set up an appointment for the phone interview. I don’t know if I handled it perfectly but I’m still glad I tried.

    This position (should I get it) won’t be paying me a lot more than now, especially since the commute is a few minutes more and I have to pay $1000 a year for insurance premiums, and pay for parking my car, etc. but there is probably more room to grow. I’m basically stuck where I am now. And the employers (according to glassdoor) are way happier than at my current place (1.5 stars vs. 4), but I keep thinking, “Oh, but if I stay at my current place, maybe I’ll keep looking and find an even better paying job next!” Yet, that hasn’t happened in the year I’ve been looking. It’d be crazy not to take the still low paying job that comes with more advancement opportunities than hope an even better offer comes along, right? It could but…will it?

    1. Retail Lifer

      If a better offer comes along after taking this new job, you can still accept it. “Better” offers are just so few and far between (or maybe that’s just in my case?) that I wouldn’t hang my hopes on one coming shortly. If you’re at a dead end and have the opportunity to get out, I would.

    2. Treena Kravm

      I think you have to ask yourself if you can stick it out for another year+ at a low-paying salary. Would you be continuing to job hunt from the get-go, or would you really dive in and seek out advancement opportunities? If you know for sure (as reasonably as possible) that your primary goal will be to get some accomplishments on your resume, I say go for it.

    3. Some

      I had 6 hours long interview at a very hot start-up (one of the very popular travel web pages ). It included catered lunch (sandwiches). The hiring manager took me to the sandwiches and cookies to choose (they were in another room) and when when we were back, simply said: “You can talk, while I eat”. And proceeded eating while I was explaining my experience. I didn’t take the job.

  30. Future Analyst

    Piggy-backing off this morning’s nail clipping interviewer, what’s your weirdest interview story? I don’t have one off the top of my head, but love reading others’ stories.

    1. Partly Cloudy

      Off the top of MY head, I interviewed someone who brought up masturbation vs. sex (as an analogy).

      1. puddin

        Along that same vein an interviewer asked me if I liked 3 ways. I took the job (inexperienced me). He was later fired for – wait for it – sexual harassment (of other folks, he never said anything else like that to me).

        1. Partly Cloudy

          She was asking about our smoking policy, which led to a short tangent about e-cigs vs. regular cigs, and that’s where the comparison was made. I quickly jumped in with diet desserts vs. regular desserts to try to steer the subject back to something resembling normal.

          1. TheLazyB

            Wow that’s…. such a weird example. Did she seem like she was horrified that she’s chosen it, or was she ok?!

            1. Partly Cloudy

              She didn’t bat an eye! My co-interviewer and I were horrified enough for everyone.

      2. stellanor

        I once interviewed a guy who made three different jokes about stabbing people during a 30 minute interview. Including one in response to a question about how our clients are often nervous and how might he help them feel more comfortable.

        My notes for that one start out totally normal and then at the end just say “NOPE.”

    2. Somewhere over the Rainbow

      I don’t think this was so much weird as unexpected (on my part).

      I answered an ad for a position that sounded like it was for promoting products in shopping centres and other public venues (the wording was really vague) and was invited to a group interview session. Turned out it was an ‘audition’ for Three Minute Angels, and the session involved a group of us giving massages to each other and role-playing.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger

        If I Google “Three Minute Angels” at work am I going to get fired? Because now I’m really curious….

        1. Somewhere over the Rainbow

          Haha, they’re not seedy or anything, but probably more ‘hands-on’ than I’d be comfortable with.

    3. BananaPants

      As an interviewer, it would have to be the guy whose qualifications were extremely overstated on his resume, who arrived wearing an orange polo shirt with a brown macrame tie and blue jeans, said to me that, “back in my day, women knew that their place is in the home”, and who tried to light up a cigarette inside the conference room where the interview was taking place (we’re a non-smoking building). He kept begging for a smoke break every 20-30 minutes during the full 4 hours of panel interviews. When he received a polite rejection letter a week later, he threatened to sue the company for age discrimination.

      1. EmilyG

        This sounds like mine. A guy showed up 15 minutes late for the interview, which I was willing to give him a pass on, since the location is complicated. But he wasn’t very apologetic, and told stories in response to questions that were so long that it was hard to get a word in edgewise to ask any questions. We pretty much failed to elicit the info we wanted. Worst of all, I was the hiring manager and the interview also included our sysadmin (a dude). The interviewee talked to the sysadmin exclusively, essentially acting as though I weren’t present. Not only did he not get hired, it was so awful we didn’t even really debrief it. I think the sysadmin was more uncomfortable than I was.

    4. Rance

      The guy who asked editors interviewing him if they’d like to see his yo-yo tricks. That’s not some euphemism. He pulled out a yo-yo.

    5. Natalie

      Talked at length about my college’s “explicit consent” policy for sexual contact, which had made news and SNL in the 90s. This was a couple of years ago, so it’s not like it was recent news.

      1. Natalie

        This was, incidentally, the last red flag in a sea of them. The first being that they kept me waiting for an *hour* for the interview, with no update until 45 minutes in. I should have just left.

      2. fposte

        Oh, I didn’t know you were an alum from there! I went to an alternative high school where a lot of my friends went to Antioch, Reed, Hampshire, etc. so I always feel very cousinly towards those schools.

        1. Natalie

          Oh, funny. I probably know some of your former classmates. It’s a pretty small alumni group.

    6. ACA

      An interviewer once asked me how I organized my spice cabinet (by height, by use, alphabetically, etc.). I was in college; my spice cabinet consisted of…salt. I didn’t get the job.

      1. Anie

        This would’ve have pissed me off. I don’t cook, have no spices, and I’m NOT in college. But I’d probably try to shift it to how I organize my bookshelf instead.

      2. Persephone Mulberry

        I throw them all in a drawer. The ones I use the least have migrated to the back of the drawer. Sometimes I remember to write the names on the caps in silver Sharpie so that I don’t have to pick up every single one.

        I probably wouldn’t have gotten the job, either.

        1. stellanor

          I line them all up on a ledge behind my stove in no particular order, but I have memorized their arbitrary locations so woe betide you if you move one.

          My desk looks exactly like you are currently imagining it, I’m sure.

    7. Jennifer

      One lady, when asked about her typing accuracy, said she was very accurate at crochet. I am a crocheter myself and even I thought it seemed a little…off to answer like that. At the end of the interview I was all, “I think she’s crazy, don’t hire her.” We didn’t, but later another section of the office did, and she was out by the end of her probation period.

    8. Algae

      My co-worker and I were interviewing for someone to be our new manager. We asked what her employees would say about her. “Well, one of them would call me a witch with a b”.

    9. TheExchequer

      – The interviewer who asked me if I had a sense of humor. When I said yes, they replied, “Tell us a joke!” Uh.

      – The interviewers (in the plural) who have thought it was appropriate to ask what my ethnicity is. (It is not. Especially not when you phrase it as, “You’re not X, are you?!?”).

      – The interviewer who asked me, “You know that’s illegal, right?” when I told them I wasn’t getting paid on time. Yes, yes, I do, but I also have to keep my job until I find a new one.

      – The interviewer who asked me what my favorite Excel function is. I cannot imagine what possible useful information you will gain from that.

      – The interviewer who asked me what superpower I would pick. Telekinesis was the wrong answer.

      – The interviewers (again in the plural) who have told me, in depth, about their relationships to their family members. I am not a therapist, nor am I interviewing to become one. Telling me about your estranged daughter or how your wife did this cool thing is (I’m sure) supposed to be connecting, but it comes off as odd. And more than a little awkward, frankly, for me.

      1. TheLazyB

        The excel thing, isn’t that just to see if you can name one? My sister struggles to get anyone to say more than ‘yeah, I’m really good at excel!!!!’ in interviews.

      2. The Cosmic Avenger

        The third one doesn’t seem bad — I’d have just about the same reaction if someone that I was interviewing told me that at their current job they were treated in a way contrary to the law. I would be worried that, even though they were trying to get out, they might not know that they should not have to put up with that particular part of their mistreatment.

        1. TheExchequer

          It maybe wasn’t so bad – but it made it hard to treat my current employer with the deference that most interviewers expect.

      3. TFS

        My work is very Excel-heavy, and I actually think the favorite Excel function question would be awesome when interviewing for a job like mine. In fact, I might even use it if I ever get to hire someone (which is unfortunately not looking likely). But if the job doesn’t require extensive Excel work…yeah, then it would be ridiculous.

        1. TheExchequer

          There was some Excel work involved, but it wasn’t solely focused on Excel by any means. It was kind of a silly question.

      4. Sara

        This is now my go-to interview joke (thanks, Planet Money!): How many Chicago-school economists does it take to change a lightbulb? (None. If the lightbulb needed to be changed, the market would take care of it.)

        I haven’t yet had occasion to try this one out, but I had a ridiculous, all personality questions interview during my last job search, so I’m trying to be a little better prepared this time around.

        1. TheExchequer

          I managed to come up with a tax joke I had heard recently. (Why do they call it a 1040? Because for every $50 you make, you keep 10 and the government gets 40. They politely chuckled. I did not get the job).

          1. TheLazyB

            My fave joke ever isn’t dirty:

            What’s orange and sounds like a parrot?
            A carrot.

    10. some1

      I went to high school with a pro athlete and, since I didn’t complete my college degree, I used to have my high school on my resume.

      A lot of people ask me if I know him when they found out where I went to high school and it was my interviewer’s first question. Then she gushed about him and asked me all these questions about him. It was weird.

    11. Malissa

      I once had a guy fall asleep while I was interviewing. He was one of three panel members. At the end of the interview they asked if I had any questions. I said a quick “nope” left and never gave that place another thought.

      As an interviewer we had a guy that was overqualified show up in sweatpants and a t-shirt. It was like he was doing us a favor be even being there. The sad part is he was the other’s first pick for the job. I said no. I told them if they offered it he was going to decline it. He was only there to check a box for his unemployment. I was right.

    12. Former Diet Coke Addict

      I had a woman ask me “So, are you married? Will your husband let you take this job?” And later “would your husband be OK with you taking this job?” And “Do you have kids? If you have kids I can’t hire you.”

      It was for a meat company sales position, not, like, a brothel or anything.

    13. fposte

      Not a story, but I was perplexed by a phone interview question of “Do you think you’re smarter than other people?” It definitely wasn’t an off-the-cuff response to my arrogant manner but a real question, and the job was clerical/assistant in a dental office. I still don’t know if he was trying to ensure humility in his workstaff, trying to weed out people who might be obnoxious, or trying to get people who *were* smarter than other people. I think I muttered something about my SAT scores and generally flailed.

      1. Not So NewReader

        If you had said, “No, I do not think I am smarter than other people” he probably would not have believed you anyway. That is one of those loaded questions. It’s loaded with lots of backstory and emotions.

    14. Sunshine Brite

      It’s not even my story but when I unofficially met my husband. During his interview at the job we shared 2 of the residents were home so I was there to take care of them while the manager interviewed. I would’ve taken them out but the reason 2 were there was that one was sick.

      So the sick one sat right behind him and as this person is nonverbal they squealed punctuated with snot sounds and coughs throughout his whole interview. I tried to get the person to go in the other room for awhile but the person clearly wanted to sit there and it’s that person’s house. I don’t know why the manager didn’t just take it downstairs. Especially since the other person was back in their room just screaming because their symptoms were making them have a hard day.

      I knew he must’ve been super desperate at that point because he took the job for some reason. At least during my interview they made it seem super nice and sweet all the time.

    15. Diddly

      Had a screening interview which involved me having to pick colored cards in order as a ‘personality’ test and then important qs about where I was really ‘from’ and what my parents do… Plus really low grade puzzles to solve.
      I had semi expected this from glassdoor who also told me I should pick the bright colors first. Was desperate for a job but glad they rejected me (after 2nd interview…)

      1. Diddly

        Actually lol major red flag from my last job which I should have noted. She asked if I was OK with lying, and that she would likely over deliver – including to me – just really wanted a job…

      2. Here

        Curiosity got me, and I found their glassdoor page and wow at these interview reviews from other people. What a strange strange….really strange…place (one of them said that a question on a quiz asked if they ever had sexual dreams…)

    16. Career Counselorette

      I had an interviewer demand that I switch seats with him in a large open area with these big identical plush chairs. I obliged him, but then he explained that he had had his business professionally feng shui’d, and that the chair I’d initially chosen was the designated chair for the business owner as the power figure, and that if anyone else sat in it the flow of chi would be disrupted.

      I worked for him for a couple of weeks, and I also witnessed him berate employees for leaving things on that particular chair. It was sort of like a mash-up between Seinfeld and the Branch Davidians.

    17. AnotherFed

      I had a candidate tell me he ‘maybe’ smashed his computer in a fit of rage, but it was ok, because he bought a new hard drive and managed to get it working again. My notes for that interview started off well, then just ended at MEGA NOPE!

      We had another guy who thankfully only made it to the screening stage who had lied about literally everything on his application. It was a federal job, so he had obviously just picked max level on all the KSAs, but he also added random bogus awards and achievements to his previous federal employment history. Bullet dodged, there.

    18. NicoleK

      This is my weirdest interview story. This experience made me doubt my supervisor’s judgement. Executive Director (ED) interviewed the candidate alone for first interview and was impressed. Candidate was invited back for a second interview with ED, myself, and another program manager. As ED had met with candidate previously, ED asked candidate to summarize her work experience for myself and other program manger.

      During the interview, candidate called her current colleagues “high maintenance” and boasted that she knew how to handle them because she had worked with the mentally ill (2 years of experience). She goes on to share that she left one job after they failed to implement her recommendation (she candidly said her recommendation benefited her more than the company).

      There was a weird vibe in the room and ED barely said a word during second interview.

      During the first interview, ED shared with candidate that the organization disliked the current database and was exploring other possibilities. ED does not use the database and only has a very basic understanding of the workings of the database. Candidate began talking about creating a database in Excel to replace current database. When she was given the opportunity to ask questions, ninety-five percent of her questions were focused on creating a database in Excel (keep in mind that this is during the second interview, she has no experience with the current database used by the organization, she does not know the organization, the programs, and population served, and the position she is applying for is program evaluator, not database manager).

      The interview grew even more bizarre. I’m seeing red flags everywhere (but apparently I’m the only one with concerns). ED requested for me to leave the room (the other manager had left by this time). ED stops by my office 10 minutes later to tell me that she’s making an offer to the candidate. No background check. No reference check. Nothing. Candidate was offered a position on the spot!! Candidate gave her employer a week notice and is now with my organization.

      1. ITPuffNStuff

        yikes. i cringe when i hear that people think Excel is a good approach to solving company data tracking / utilization needs. excel is not a database, and can’t support the needs of any but the absolute smallest data tracking / querying operations. even in those situations, i don’t recommend it due to the lack of scalability.

        excel performs its designed functions very well, but track/query/report organizational data are not among them.

    19. neighborhood friendly QA tech

      I think this was done because I was an temp, interviewing for my own job for a second time, and trying to keep it lighthearted (I was turned down the first time, but stayed as a temp.) My boss’s boss asked “what would I do in case of a zombie apocalypse “

  31. TheExchequer

    TGIF!

    My commission check for May was late once again. (First because my boss suddenly decided he wanted it in a different format, then because he was overwhelmed. Not too overwhelmed to look at the price of tickets to a sports game though). I got another lecture about how everyone else can make mistakes but I am not allowed to make any mistakes, then he took $80 out of my commission. He also praised the new hire for every single thing she did right, even if it wasn’t actually right.

    I’m not sad I have a few in person interviews next week. I’m just trying to figure out how best to interview without making it obvious that’s what I’m doing, but I’m also close to embracing the fact that my boss probably already knows (or at least suspects). No question right now – just hoping the right job comes along and SOON.

      1. TheExchequer

        Because I made a mistake. I’m not allowed to make a mistake. Neither my commission on the order (much less) nor the amount it took to fix the mistake (much more) were anywhere near $80, so where he got that figure, I couldn’t begin to guess. Probably in the same fever dream he got the idea that I don’t do enough work. :P

          1. TheExchequer

            If it were from my paycheck? No way. Commission is a trickier beast though and I don’t know the answer to that.

    1. TheLazyB

      I remember being horrified about that ‘everyone else is allowed to make mistakes’ thing before. I hoped your boss had realised how insane that was by now :(

      1. TheExchequer

        You would think most people would realize about two seconds after such a thing came out of their mouths that it is, in fact, a policy made of crazy and pants. But not my boss. :(

  32. LizB

    To follow up or not to follow up, O wise commenters? On Monday, I missed a phone call from a prospective employer inviting me for an in-person interview on either Wednesday or Thursday. I called back as soon as I could, got the HR person’s voicemail, and gave them the times I would be available. I then got an email the following morning saying that they were pushing all their interviews back to next week, and would call me Thursday morning to schedule a time. It’s now Friday morning, and no contact, either by phone or email. Should I call or email to try and schedule, or is that pushy?

    1. Dawn

      Wait till like 2pm then send a quick email is what I’d do. Who knows what fire they walked into on Friday morning that meant interview scheduling had to take a back seat!

    2. fposte

      I would email. There’s a legitimate time-sensitive issue in the air, so I don’t think it would read as pushy; you can, if you haven’t already, include your available times next week.

      1. LizB

        All right, I’ll email. Any scripts you would suggest? I don’t want to come off passive-aggressive — I get that emergencies happen, and deadlines get missed, so I’m not mad, I just want to make sure I don’t get lost in the shuffle. Maybe “Thank you for getting back to me. I’m looking forward to coming in for an interview. Next week, I’ll be available Wednesday and Thursday from X-Ypm. Please let me know if that fits into your interview schedule!”?

        1. puddin

          As we discussed on the phone, I would be happy to meet with you for an interview. I understand that the interviews have been pushed back to late next week. With that time frame in mind, I have the following times/days available. (list 2-3)

          I am looking forward to learning more about the position. Please feel free to contact me via email or phone to set up the time that works best for your team.

          Contact info here.

          Enjoy your weekend,
          LizB

          1. LizB

            Thanks for the script! I sent this email, and quickly got a reply scheduling me for an interview Wednesday! HOORAY! (I also managed to schedule a different interview for Thursday. And I’ll hopefully be signing a lease for an apartment. And maybe test-driving a car I want to buy. So next week is going to be a big week for me!)

            1. puddin

              W00t! Go get ’em!

              You do have a lot going on. Best of luck in all the awesome endeavors :)

  33. Xanthippe Lannister Voorhees

    My landlord was breathing down my neck about renewing the lease (which I understand, really, because her income depends on that unit being filled) so I reached out informally to a friend at dream job (called such for succinctness, I have read the posts) and asked if she had any idea where they were at in the hiring process. They had filled the position with someone who has more experience and a completed Master’s. Not at all surprising but incredibly irksome because the job is still posted with “open until filled” on the institutions website. If they had pulled it when they made the hiring decision I would have checked, seen it was absent, and put two and two together. It’s ok though, because while dream job would have been a promotion (basically) and put me in a geographic location I like a lot better current job is a not bad at all (I just wish it paid better) and now I can just focus on finishing the degree and getting more experience before jumping into the job hunt next year. I really wish more apartments in the areas I end up living would do month-to-month leases though, since I’ll be looking to leave this area when I do begin job searching it’s frustrating to know that I’ll probably have to deal with the same type of housing limbo.

    1. Natalie

      My city is similar – you can do month-to-month, but they charge you and arm and a leg for it.

      What’s the rule on leasebreak in your city? Sometimes you can get out of them if you pay a fee or find a new tenant.

      1. Xanthippe Lannister Voorhees

        If I break the lease I’d have to pay the rest out, and in the lease itself it states I’d forfeit my security deposit. This doesn’t mean that my landlord wouldn’t allow us to sublet with permission, but it feels like unless a new job and the end of the lease line up perfectly there’s going to be extra hassle.

        1. Natalie

          Bummer.

          Check your state laws on that security deposit clause, though – many states only allow them to be taken to damages or unpaid rent, not as a punishment.

    2. Jennifer

      Ugh. The housing market is so tight here and the leases are so restricted that there’s basically no way I could move for another job and break my lease. I would have to know about the new job in February, so I don’t renew the lease, and then I can’t take the job or move out until the end of August. Period. Otherwise I’m either homeless or trapped into another lease for over a year.

      Meanwhile, my friend is all “In California you can break your lease if you get another job 75 miles away.” I looked this up and no, you can’t, but she keeps insisting. I guess she’ll be finding out the hard way.

      1. Natalie

        I think landlord-tenant law is probably a close second to employment law in the “Most Misconceptions” contest. I have literally given up telling people that “quiet enjoyment” has nothing to do with noise. Maybe if they go to court they’ll believe the damn judge.

      2. Xanthippe Lannister Voorhees

        How wonderful would it be if that were true though? I’m lucky that I have the option to move back in with my parents temporarily if I need to, but it would knock my commute up to about 2 hours (once THEY move into their new place) and when I’m at their house they treat me like I’m 15 again.

    3. More Cake Please

      Ugh, I empathize. My landlord is willing to do month-to-month, but they charge an extra $100. There’s a chance that I might end up transferring to a different city, and my lease is up at the end of this month, but I’m resigning tomorrow in hope that A) if that job does come through, it’ll take 4 – 5 months before I actually move and therefore I don’t lose too much on rent and B) it doesn’t come through and I don’t waste $$$ on this small chance when I had been planning on leaving town next year anyway and need all the cash I can save for it. Most places in my city do 6 months and then automatic month-to-month indefinitely… but this is the price I pay for not living in a mold-encrusted, ant-infested crap box of an apartment.

  34. BRR

    So first, amazing news! My husband got a job offer for an amazing position! I hope this can serve as inspiration for others. He is ABD with a humanities degree and has mostly teaching experience but he managed to finally land a job. It took two years and in that time he only got five interviews; two being only phone screens for part-time positions and one for his crappy retail job.

    Unfortunately things are not going as well for me. During my one on one, a mistake was pointed out and my manager said, “We have two weeks of this left then it looks like we will meet with HR.” This is likely when I will be moved from probation to a formal PIP. Yesterday I told my manager that this obviously wasn’t going well and blah blah blah still trying my best blah blah but if she doesn’t think I can meet the expectations for the position I’m willing to work on a plan to transition out and specifically said I’m not quitting. She responded we will meet with HR in two weeks and maybe they will have some ideas. My AAM instincts didn’t work well :(. I thought she would have appreciated the fact that I said I would go easily. She did point out that I have a lot of good qualities as well. So who knows what will happen. My thoughts are she hates to see me go but I will admit to being inconsistent with my attention to detail.

    I’m also obviously job hunting right now. If I get an interview, should I just ask for a vacation day and be honest about it or fake sick? I get paid out for vacation days but not sick days.

    Also a networking question. I currently do prospect research but am applying to all types of fundraising roles. One of the gift officers I used to work with is now a director at another organization and is the hiring manager for a gift officer position I just applied for. I only knew her somewhat while we worked together (on a scale from 1-10 where 1 is stranger and 10 is bff we are probably a 3.5). I also went to grad school at the same university she received her bachelors from (she’s moderately involved in the alumni association) and we have the same niche graduate degree although from different universities so we had bonded over that. Should I email her my materials directly? If it matters my husband who also went to the same university had reached out a month or two ago about tips for applying to a position at the organization so I don’t want to risk over networking her when we weren’t super close.

    Thank you for your help and everybody’s support through all of this. There have been so many amazing people on here and it’s meant a lot to have the AAM commenters as a support system.

    1. Jennifer

      If they pay you for unused vacation days, call in sick. Screw ’em, call in sick anyway, I think. Or “oops, I better go to this doctor’s appointment while I still have insurance.”

    2. Mimmy

      Awww man, I’m sorry you’re struggling so much :( I have no sage words of wisdom, just commiseration. I had my probation period extended TWICE at one previous job. I just couldn’t get out of my own head and my anxiety was off the charts.

      You are smart to be job searching. Any ideas of what you think went wrong with your current job? Are you trying to get away from prospect research and into other areas of fundraising?

      Also, a huge congrats to your husband!!!

      1. BRR

        Well I have ADD/Anxiety/Depression so I was prone to some mistakes and with the right meds I got better then one was added that was terrible. While I have since recovered the bar has been raised and I am just not getting there. I think I might do better as a gift officer although I’m also applying to research jobs to try and avoid a gap in my resume (already have that from my last job).

        I had terrible anxiety before because my husband was earning minimum wage but now that he will have a full-time salary our household income will be more or less the same.

        1. Have courage and be kind in Austin, TX

          ” I’m also applying to research jobs to try and avoid a gap in my resume (already have that from my last job).”

          BRR, I’d take a hard look at whether you think you can succeed at a similar job to the one you have. It looks like even with the right meds this may not be the right type of role for you; I’d be more concerned with a short stint in another job that didn’t work out than a gap in my resume. Now that your husband has a better job (congrats!), in your place I’d reevaluate my strategy and make sure to only apply to jobs that are a good fit for your condition and don’t put you in a position of making the same type of mistake that can risk your new job. Good luck!

  35. themmases

    I have a question! To you, what does being too invested in one’s particular job look like? Let’s say it’s an average job with stress and stuff you’d change but not actively toxic.

    I’ve been thinking about this because my partner has a work friend (I’ll call them Pat) that, without fail, at any social gathering they will end up cloistered together complaining about work and *people* at work that they used to be friends with until they had to be senior to these people. For example, they have a friend, Jean, who sounds kind of feckless as a direct coworker (think Millenial stereotypes) but is a lovely person, clearly very smart, and moving up in their own way. In a way, I’d call Jean person more successful than my partner and Pat because Jean hasn’t made themself indispensable to a team they don’t even want to be on long-term and was able to get promoted to something more interesting. When I look at my partner and Pat, I see people who’ve taken work ethic way too far and are accepting martyrdom and stress for an industry they don’t even care about. I did something similar in the past, but with a very toxic workplace.

    Happily my partner has moved to a better job so I think the complaining may go away on its own. I was just surprised when I thought about it recently to realize that Jean, despite having some questionable habits, is just as good at their job as my partner and Pat, doing as well at is, and arguably much happier.

    1. fposte

      I think of too invested as being more bleeding the company colors than bitching with a colleague at every social occasion, but I think that your partner and colleague are falling into a habit that’s ultimately making their situation worse rather than better. So if that’s part of your question, I think it would be better for them to leave that to the work hours, but I don’t know that you’ll be able to convince them to do so.

      1. themmases

        Interesting, I see those as two sides of the same coin when you can’t attend a social function without talking about work. I know I had a period in my first job where I *loved* it and really didn’t have a lot to say for myself other than what was going on with me professionally. This feels the same to me, and like the negativity is incidental to not having other interests.

        I guess the problem I see is less about complaining than about the attitude that it’s near-immoral to give anything less than 100% to your job no matter what that job is, with no consideration of things like pay, your own goals, whether you want to be well known for being good at something you hate, etc. And I see evidence (in this company at least) that being that way doesn’t work any better than Jean’s choice to be amazing at the things they wanted to do and merely good at other stuff.

        1. fposte

          It’s hard for me to say about the immersion thing, because as an academic my work does permeate my life; it just happens to work really well for me. But I agree with you that there’s nothing immoral about devoting yourself to non-work aspects of your life. I mean, it sounds all Kennedyesque to say you’re always going to give your all and be winners at everything, but 1) Joe Sr. was a jackass and 2) even the Kennedys have, pretty legendarily, had downtime.

    2. Anon for this because I'm ranty

      I see this in a friend of mine, and her specific problem (in my opinion) is that she’s looking for validation and a sense of self worth in this job, and that is a hole you can’t fill from the outside. She wants her bosses to thank her for her martyrdom, and she doesn’t listen to them when they tell her she needs to delegate more or stop working 70 hour weeks. She drives herself to the point of exhaustion, complains about it, and yet she got there under her own steam. That to me is the definition of being over-invested. Every once in awhile she will say “I don’t have to work weekends for another 6 weeks!” or “I left work at 8pm today!” and it drives me crazy because she’s just looking for another head pat. She wants to be given a gold star when she works insane hours by choice, and she wants to be given a gold star when she doesn’t. She has been complaining about this job for 6 out of the 9 years she’s been in it, and yet she doesn’t want to leave. I should also add, while I’m at it, that she is like this in relationships too, she complains and complains but never ever breaks up with anyone. Just GTFO or STFU!!!

      1. Not So NewReader

        Some people get energy from complaining. If there is nothing to complain about they can’t function. Okay, maybe not that severe, but it does drive their day and their job.

  36. Vanilla

    So…it’s looking like my company is going to be bought by a competitor. Nothing is finalized yet but it’s certainly looking that way. I found our via the media that our company is in a hiring freeze. I asked my manager yesterday and he confirmed this. I’ve been interviewing for an internal position for months, and now that’s gone. You know it’s bad when your manager tells you that you should be looking for external jobs now because the freeze is supposed to last through 2015. :(

  37. Retail Lifer

    My work environment is becoming more and more unbearable. For example, here are some things I’ve been yelled at about this week:

    1) Asking my designated Point of Contact question about a report I didn’t know how to run. She didn’t know either. Because I should have already known how to do that, I apparently should not have asked because it makes me look bad. Even though she didn’t know either. And even though it’s also her job to field questions of that nature.
    2) Not completing a manual log that, per policy, does not need to be completed anymore because COMPUTERS. Even though the policy says not to do it I should do it anyway because redundancy and wasting trees is apparently the top priority here.
    3) Responding to an email that I was copied on because I had more information. Being copied does not give me the authority to respond, only read. How dare I?
    4) How my whole staff is a huge problem because they keep screwing up their paperwork, even though I have only been informed about one person messing one thing up and I already addressed it. We have a checks and balances system where another person reviews our paperwork and it never touches my desk unless there’s a problem. However, I should obviously just KNOW about these problems without having actually been told.

    I’m to the point where I would actually consider just walking out, no notice, if I got another job offer. I’ve never been that kind of person, but I might become it. Unfortunately, the job hunt is still not going well.

    1. LizB

      If you’re getting yelled at a minimum of four times a week over ridiculous things, I think that counts as an abusive environment that would justify giving no notice. (Or giving two weeks, but saying you won’t tolerate being berated, and cutting the notice period short if/when it continues.) Best of luck in your job hunt! I hope things start looking up soon.

    2. Jennifer

      Oh, fun.

      Here’s my list so far this week:
      (a) Hey, you passed this weird, complicated test we made you do with badly written instructions that you were supposed to be following and not getting help in any way! You did great! BUT you both stamped it with the date AND wrote the date on the form–which THE INSTRUCTIONS TOLD ME TO DO. I got nitpicked for being redundant. I said “I was following the instructions even though yeah, I can tell it’s redundant”and got marked off anyway.
      (b) I have a messy desk. I can’t argue with that point, but yes, I can find things on it, really.
      (c) You fell completely asleep in a meeting–I concur I was feeling tired, but I did hear the meeting and recited facts back to prove it, and was still in trouble anyway.
      (d) You just suck as a human being any time you are around other people, basically.

      Meanwhile I am a “rock star” at actual paperwork–they just don’t like me if I have to speak to other people. God.

      1. mondaymoos

        Do you really not understand why you are in trouble for falling asleep in a meeting?
        I guess I could give you the reasons: it’s incredibly disrespectful to the person who is speaking. It appears that you don’t care about this meeting and/or think it is below you. If you’re feeling tired in meetings, stand up or write notes about what people are saying.

        1. TheLazyB

          Sounds to me like they thought she fell asleep but she verified that she was actually awake (by reciting the facts), so this response seems a bit harsh.

      2. Future Analyst

        I got the “you suck at being around people thing” too this week, which was interesting, because when I reapplied for a job at my old company recently, I was told that no fewer than three people said nice things about me and would love to work with me again. Ugh. Get out ASAP!

        1. Not So NewReader

          Ironically, usually the person who says you suck around people is the person everyone hates.

  38. Jeaneane

    I’m in a bit of a panic. I started a job last August that I really like, but wasn’t fully committed to because it had a two month furlough/layoff period, and I wanted year-round employment. Also, this job doesn’t seem to have much, if any, room for advancement, and they’re not all that great at providing opportunities even for internal development. Now, my supervisor is super nice and the office is a great environment on the personal level, and there are some good benefits, but I feel like it’s a dead end. So even though I like my boss, I kept job hunting.

    I didn’t get any nibbles until this week, when I was offered the chance at a job that sounds pretty perfect – more room for advancement, more money, and year-round employment. A friend works there and has given me some positive insider information telling me that the place would be a good fit with good work/life balance. I was pretty sure I was going to take the job.

    BUT THEN my current boss found a way to give me a year-round contract. Unfortunately, it doesn’t come with a raise, and there’s a budget freeze on, so there won’t be one for quite a while. But I do know my boss fought pretty hard to find the room in the budget, and I was offered the new contract because they *do* want to keep me and they think I’m valuable.

    I don’t know what to do. I don’t want to burn bridges or make things difficult for my current boss or team by leaving. Starting a new job would very much be starting over. But with the money issues and lack of internal development, I know I’ll be leaving someday in the next two years anyway. What do I do?

    1. Dawn

      “But with the money issues and lack of internal development, I know I’ll be leaving someday in the next two years anyway.”

      LEAVE. Leave now. A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush, and darlin’ you’ve got a pretty new job offer in your hand “that sounds pretty perfect”. It’s awesome that your boss went to bat for you and all but you sound like you’re all kinds of done with the job you have now.

      Jump ship, be graceful when doing so, and in six months pat yourself on the back that you made the leap.

      1. the_scientist

        Agreed. When you resign, thank your boss for going to bat for you and mention that you’ve truly enjoyed the work there. If your boss is as good as they sound, they’ll understand that this is a better long-term opportunity and be happy for you.

    2. fposte

      You owe your boss thanks for going to bat for you. You do not owe him/her indentured servitude.

    3. Jennifer

      Finding ways to exit a job are nigh impossible these days. If you can get out, do so. You’ll regret it if you don’t. If you can get more money at another job, they’ll at least get why you leave.

    4. Joey

      Isn’t it amazing how obligated we feel to reciprocate when our managers take care of us? Just tell him you appreciate the offer and hope your new manager is like him. He’ll appreciate that

    5. Not So NewReader

      Leave.

      These people have shown you who they are and how they operate. If you stay it will just be more of the same thing.
      You can reassure your current boss that you really appreciate her efforts and you enjoyed working with her.

      You keep the bridges intact by being polite and pleasant all the while knowing that you have made your mind up and this is it. Offer to help them transition in what ever way you can and let the rest go.

  39. Anon for this

    What’s a good system for handling raises/benefits/perks in a small business (less than 15 people) when everyone is aware of everyone else’s perks?

    I’ve been working at a tiny company for 3.5 years. They’ve repeatedly told me I’m a star performer and have been compensated accordingly. For my 3 year review, I decided that in lieu of some of the raise they would give me, I was going to ask for 1-2 weeks additional vacation time. At the time, they said they would have to work the numbers but they would try to make it happen. Shortly after the holidays, we had a crazy project blow up and everyone was pulling 80+ hour weeks to make the client happy, so the issue got bumped back. We just had a follow-up meeting to discuss it, and the CEO and the COO (my supervisor) basically said really politely that they would love to just give it to me but there were two issues. 1/ They have to work the numbers (understandable, me not working for 1 week = $5k in revenue loss) and 2/ They have to come up with a company-wide system for deciding things like extra vacation because essentially they have no problem giving this to me, but they know other people are going to want it and they don’t deserve it (he said it more politely).

    My wife says they’re just avoiding tough conversations with mediocre performers, but is it possible that this is a unique challenge to small businesses where the entire company knows each other intimately and we can all see each other’s calendars? What systems have others used?

    1. Ms. FS

      Many years ago when my company was still at that size (we since doubled in size), I had a similar situation. I suggested that I could put together a reasonable compensation plan/options and the management could consider it for implementing as a company wide policy. I did some research on costs, comparable benefits of similar companies, etc. Then they took what I’d given them, and implemented some version of it, and I got my extra compensation. I agree with your wife that they are probably not dealing very well with under-performers, but at the same time they way you can get compensated and by how much should be applied fairly to all employees. Employees need to know what they can expect in terms of compensation and other perks. When they don’t have that they can become demotivated.

      1. Anon for this

        “should be applied fairly to all employees” That’s the problem. I’m basically in a category by myself, which you’d think would lend itself nicely to separating our benefits, but I guess it doesn’t?

        Would you say that it’s necessary to have a clear structure, and if so for which perks? Vacation and cost of living raises are usually pretty predictable at most companies, but is it really so terrible to have everyone negotiate what they want at their performance review? It’s pretty common to have to negotiate a raise yourself, why not vacation?

        In my case, we all work remotely, there’s no paid holidays, no health insurance, and no retirement account. The only things that change are salary, vacation and titles. I’m the only one who wants to do professional development, but that could change if new hires are the type to care about their career.

    2. chemicals like some cheese-eating high-school boy

      My only comment: I work for a very large company, and we get additional vacation time based on our time with the company. Ie, you start with 2 weeks, after 5 years you get an additional week, etc. Yeah, there’s some book-keeping involved, but my understanding is that this is not an unusual policy.

      It beats me why your management is avoiding it, but my gut feeling is that it’s a change and a hassle and they just don’t feel like dealing with it.

      1. Anon for this

        Well they’re definitely avoiding it because we start at 6 weeks, so if everyone got 1 more week at 3 years (following my lead) that’s a lot of vacation time. But because we don’t get paid holidays (usually there are 10-12/year), that’s really only 3.5-4 weeks vacation and I’m personally not interested in another big raise, and would rather have the extra week.

    3. BRR

      I think there are multiple things going on. New policies can be tough to create. But they should make one and say no when other people ask.

    4. Not So NewReader

      If one more week is equal to a raise of some sort, why are mediocre people getting raises (or additional vacation time)? It would seem to me that you either qualify for a raise or not.

      It looks like it might be cheaper for them to give you a raise than give you time off, though.

      I think if you consider it from their angle you would be more apt to gain ground. You said less than 15 people. So, just to use a number I am going to use 12 people. 12 people with six weeks vacation is 72 weeks. That means that for at least 20 weeks out of the year you have to have two people on vacation. Not sure what that does to the workload, but it can’t be good. If everyone bumped to 7 weeks vacation a year, then that would be 84 weeks total and 32 weeks would have to have two people on vacation. They would need to hire someone just to cover vacations. (Probably not possible because of the variety of skills necessary to do that.)

      Are you sure this is even do-able for them?

  40. Danielle

    I just got an offer at a job I’m really excited about! During the initial stages, the HR representative mentioned that this position typically started out at $55k (it’s entry level, but I’ve been working for a couple years in a different field). I was hoping the base was that number, and the actual base they quoted was a little bit lower. Can I negotiate in this position? If so, what can I say? Thanks!

    1. Joey

      I’m really excited about working with you but I was thinking more along the lines of x. Is that offer negotiable?

      1. Danielle

        Short and concise – perfect, thank you! I’m pretty nervous about the whole thing, as you can tell :)

    2. BRR

      There’s a post on negotiating. This was submitted by a reader. As Alison says in the post, the important part is STOP TALKING.

      Thanks in part to your advice, in two weeks I’ll be starting a new job that I couldn’t be more excited about. The people seem beyond lovely, the responsibilities are exactly in line with my skills and interest, and there is definite growth potential.

      I did have a hard time finding a lot of information on the internet on what precisely a successful salary negotiation should look like, and so I thought I would offer my experience in case it helped your readers. I have a background in sales, so that definitely helped me, but the basics of this are not that hard to adapt.

      My to-be manager called, extended an offer, and I expressed how genuinely excited I was to hear the news, but also said that I hoped the salary would be higher. I suggested I would review HR’s official offer and call back. I think this accomplished a few things: I established that I’m enthusiastic about working there, and warned them that I would be negotiating salary without having to jump into it right there on the phone–in a hot car, with a barking dog–when neither of us were overly prepared to have that discussion.

      In any event, after HR emailed me the official offer, I called my to-be manager with a few questions and then jumped into the salary negotiation part. Here’s what I said: “As I suggested during our last conversation, I was hoping the salary would be higher. I’m really excited about the prospect of working for your company, so I’m willing to be flexible, but the number I had in mind was $XX. I think I’m worth this because of A, B, and C value I will bring to the company.”

      It’s important to adapt this to your own style, but a few things: Don’t make $XX the number you are actually aiming for. Negotiations very often wind up as a compromise, so I offered a number that placed my goal as that midpoint. (i.e. If they offer you $25K and you want $50K then you ask for $75K, although obviously these numbers are exaggerated.) Also, as you’ve said before, you’re not negotiating because you have a high mortgage or love buying designer shoes. You want to offer (in my opinion a brief) statement about your *value* for them.

      After you make your counter offer, STOP TALKING. Even if you are nervous, bite your tongue. You might feel uncomfortable because you really want this job and want them to see you as a “nice person” or “team player.” Negotiating does not make you a mean person or selfish; stop talking at this point. In this case, my to-be manager expressed some hesitation, but said he’d talk to upper management. When he got back to me at the end of the day, their counter offer was exactly the mid-point I was aiming for, plus a few additional perks I had not even asked for!

  41. Rin

    Does anyone have insight on transitioning careers to book publishing? I’ve been in administration, with some editing duties, for a few years, but I’d really love to be an editor/publisher. Do I need to go back to school? I graduated with a BA in English. Or do I start at the bottom, and, if so, how? Thanks!

    1. katamia

      There is a lot going on in the publishing industry. It’s changing a lot. Jobs in NY aren’t as easy to come by as they used to be. What kind of books are you interested in? I’m on mobile right now so I’m trying to be brief,but will come back to this thread later.

    2. Anie

      Best of luck! I have a master’s in publishing and it is tough. There’s some academic stuff readily available, but most of the people I know get their foot in the door on the marketing/admin side and then slowly ease into the editorial side via promotion and whatnot.

    3. cali_to_carolina

      Speaking from an educational publishing POV, you do often need to start at the bottom, and that typically is the editorial assistant role. You’d support an editor with admin tasks and learn the biz a bit. It’s notoriously low pay but it’s certainly an industry where you have to ‘pay your dues’ to move up, IMHO. Also, jobs like these are typically on the coasts – NYC, Boston, and SFBay is where I can recall the big publishers are located. Don’t go back to school for this…a BA in English is perfectly fine.

    4. Lore

      Junior editor jobs are the hardest to come by. One thing I’ve noticed at the large publisher where I work, though (and I think this may be true at agents’ offices as well, if that interests you)–a lot of the senior editorial slots (deputy publisher, publisher, that kind of position) hire admin assistants. Nine times out of ten, that person works as an admin for a year or two, and if they’re good at that job, they can almost always get a transfer/promotion to another department in the company, and have a very, very important ally at their back. The person who was the assistant to my division’s head five years ago is now the director of special events in the publicity department, for example, and others have gone on to editorial roles. If you have a solid administrative resume, it might be a way in.

      1. Isben Takes Tea

        This.

        I am lucky enough to work in book publishing at Dream Job. There is A LOT of cross-hiring within companies/the industry, so find whatever job you can. The good news is there are LOTS of different kinds of jobs in publishing other than editorial: publicity, marketing, production, tech, business analysts, managing editorial, agencies, bookstores, etc.

        MOST non-admin entry level positions across the board expect intern experience, so do what you can to get some. If you can’t work for an actual publisher, volunteer, work, or intern anywhere where the job titles match up (e.g. marketing manager) or leans heavily to a production cycle or just screams BOOKS!

        Education-wise, no specific degree is needed, but knowledge of the industry (and how publishing actually works, as opposed to how people THINK it works) is beneficial. Good writing skills are generally expected, but pinpoint grammar knowledge is only expected in certain jobs (managing/production editorial).

        Finally, I would just say there is a LOT that editors do that isn’t actually editing, and it is THOSE skills that publisher’s are really looking for as you move up. Finding mentors or getting informational interviews will really help you be able to focus on developing the skills to get you the job you want.

        Best of luck!

        1. Lore

          I am +1 on the part about editing not being the main thing editors do. In fact if developmental/early stage editing is what interests you most the agent route might be more interesting to you.

  42. Chris

    I’m a new leader for a team, brought in from outside the company. This is my first real “leader” position, and things are going really well! I had a question about donut etiquette. Sometimes a person on the team will bring in donuts for people to eat. I feel weird about eating them, as I am their supervisor. I have brought in treats for them before, but I feel like it’s the “gifts roll down hill, not up hill” thing that has been discussed before on here. Any thoughts about this?

    1. CrazyCatLady

      If I brought in donuts and my boss ate one, I wouldn’t even notice/think about it. I would hope people would eat food I brought in!

    2. LizB

      I think the gifts rule is for individual gifts, not things brought in for the whole office to share. If I brought in donuts and left them out for everyone, I wouldn’t even notice if my boss ate one.

    3. The IT Manager

      I’m with CrazyCatLady. You can eat treats like that from your subordinates when they’re for the group – you’re part of the group. It’s not like an individual gift. It’s a snack for everyone on the team/in the vicinity. I think it is odd that you feel you can’t because this has never occurred to me. I’d never notice one way or another.

    4. Ad Astra

      If you’re really worried about it, just wait a few minutes after the “Donuts in the conference room!” email so that your employees get first pick.

    5. Bee Eye LL

      You’re the boss, right? Take the whole box into your office and polish them off yourself. Hahaha

      About once a month somebody brings in donuts to our office as well. It’s one of those random things. Maybe wait a couple of weeks and bring some for your group if you’re feeling guilty and eating one of “their” donuts.

    6. Relly

      I know when I bring in treats to my office, I hope everyone has a chance to enjoy them, whether they’re a coworker or my boss or the CEO. I wouldn’t worry too much. :)

    7. LQ

      When I bring in something for the whole team I always bring enough to include my boss even though he almost never partakes. It feels a little odd that he doesn’t participate. I very much think thinks like donuts or whatever are for everyone (either on a team or in a physical space) including leaders.

  43. A Minion

    Maybe someone can help me with a work/life balance issue. I am overweight by about 55lbs and just turned 40, so I really need to get in shape (I’ve begun having some minor health issues, so I need to nip it in the bud right now) and I’ve decided that running is part of how I’m going to get healthier.
    I started a new job in October so my commute is now about 40 minutes each way. My hours are 8 – 4:30 and this job often requires that I work over with very little to no warning. I also live and work in a very rural area, so I can’t just use my lunch time to go to the gym a couple of blocks over – I’d have to get in my car and drive a couple of miles to the Y, not to mention changing, showering, etc and my 30 minute lunch doesn’t cover that, obviously, with time to eat too.
    So with getting home late, trying to get into the bed in order to get a decent night’s sleep and making sure I’m getting here on time every day, it’s tough to fit in a workout. How have you guys handled that – those of you who are also pressed for time or have long commutes? I’d love to hear some suggestions.

    1. HeyNonnyNonny

      I work out at home when I do, and I rotate between three quickie workouts when I can:
      1. the 7 minute workout. There are apps that tell you what to do and time you. You can repeat it a few times, or just do it once.
      2. Work out (I choose exercises from a list like pushups, jumping jacks, situps, etc) for X number of songs.
      3. 15 minute yoga routine (bonus: least likely to get you sweaty and gross if that’s an issue).

      With these, I tend to focus on how it’s more important to do something instead of nothing.

      1. The IT Manager

        I recommend developing an early morning routine. An after work routine is harder because working late, being tired, needing to run an errand can provide an easy excuse. For the early morning one, you just need to get up in time. Not easy I know, but easier for me than planning on after work.

        It can be an half an hour or less. I favor walking and running eventually because is easy because you don’t need any equipment except shoes. But HeyNonnyNonny’s got some great suggestions. Develop the routine of doing something first and then you can look at making it harder or longer if you want.

        If you do drive to the Y in the morning on your way to work, pack your gym back with your work clothes and put your workout clothes on a chair before going to bed. That way you can roll out of bed and to your car within 10 minutes of getting up.

        1. the gold digger

          That’s how I used to do it – I packed my work clothes and my breakfast and lunch the night before and left my gym clothes out. Alarm went off at 5:05 and I was at boot camp by 5:30. In the shower by 6:38, at work by 7:15.

          I hated it, but I did get the smugness of being at work knowing I had already worked out.

          (Now I work out at lunch at the break room at my office.)

    2. Dawn

      There’s about a bajillion different opinions on “getting fit” and how to do it and the “best” way to do it.

      My knowledge and experience (strength coach, with weightlifting and fitness as a hobby) is that you’re not ever going to get anywhere with exercise unless you clean up your diet first. So work on that- cut out junk food and soda, eat more veggies, drink more water, get more whole grains and lean protein. Just focus on one thing at a time until it becomes a habit, then pick something else and focus on it until it becomes a habit, etc etc. So spend two weeks focusing on drinking more water until it becomes routine to drink more water. Then spend two weeks on eating veggies with every meal until it becomes routine to put veggies on your plate. And on and on and on.

      After that, the exercise part is really up to you- I *strongly* suggest you don’t just take up something “because it seems like a good idea” and instead say hey, go find something that you want to do that fits in your schedule. Don’t just go run because you think you “should”- you’ll quickly hate it and begrudge doing it and want to quit. Instead find something that you actively like to do, like riding your bike or swimming or 7 minute workout or Nerd Fitness (google it) or weightlifting or canoe races or whatever. If you like what you’re doing then you’ll keep doing it and consistency is KEY in fitness.

      1. nep

        Dawn is spot on.
        I don’t know what your eating habits are like and you didn’t ask about this, but for weight loss cleaning up your eating is paramount — with changes that you will be able to sustain, not radical changes that you’ll tire of within weeks or that will sap you of much-needed energy.
        And yes — move your body in ways that you will regularly do. People ask what is the ‘best’ form of cardio? Answer: The one you’ll do consistently. Consistency trumps everything.
        Agree with HeyNonnyNonny — you don’t have to have a huge block of time to get in some good exercise. And a handful of no-nonsense bodyweight exercises done at a pretty fast pace can do wonders.
        Developing a habit to exercise in the morning is a great idea. It is indeed tough to fit exercise in to a super busy schedule, but once something’s a habit it really works. And you’ll likely start to enjoy it a lot more as your strength and stamina improve, and you’ll do more.
        Wishing you all the best. Rule number one: Know that you’ve got this.

      2. the gold digger

        If you like what you’re doing then you’ll keep doing it

        That does help, am sure. I hate exercising. Hate it. I begrudge every second I spend doing it.

        It’s just that I hated being fat even more.

    3. Daenerys

      Hey, another person getting into running later in life! I started running a few years back and ended up losing over 100 lbs. It’s definitely tough to change your schedule, but you can absolutely do it!

      1.) Start small. Maybe you want to run 3x a week, or in some sort of patter (2 days on, 1 day off). Make sure you schedule it like an appointment — there were plenty of times when I was like “blech, I’m tired and I don’t want to run” but if I had a 20 minute run scheduled on a Tuesday, I went out and did it. (also, I then got really excited for my “off” days when I didn’t have to run!)

      2.) Be honest with yourself that fitting in a workout is tough. Then decide which option will be less tough — morning or evening. I’ve turned into a morning runner, and if you told me a few years back I’d be getting up at 4AM every day to log miles before work, I would have laughed. But it’s now become a part of my routine. I made a choice to prioritize running over staying up for an extra hour every night. I go to bed between 8 and 9 on the weeknights, and it sucks, but it sucks less than trying to muster up the energy to workout after getting home from a long and tiring day. Maybe it’s the opposite for you, and you prefer evening workouts. Try both and see which one you prefer.

      3.) If you are brand new to running, it’s a pretty small time commitment at first. My first few weeks were spent walking half a mile, running a quarter mile, and walking another half mile. Make it a goal to run walk for 20 minutes. Or try one of the apps like Couch to 5k — they have great programs!

      4.) Set yourself up for success. I sleep in my workout clothes, and put my ipod and keys on the table by my door the night before so I can just wake up and go. You can lay out your workout clothes the night before (or in the morning, if you are going to be working out at night). If you are going to exercise after work, make a “no sitting” rule when you walk in the door — force yourself to change clothes immediately and head back out. I promise, getting out the door is the hardest part!

      5.) Try to make yourself look forward to it! I only let myself listen to my favorite songs when I’m running, so if I want to rock out to my music I’m forced to run. Is there a park near you that would be a nice relaxing place to go to at the end of the day? Maybe a podcast or book on tape that you could listen to only while your working out?

      Good luck! You can totally do this! (signed, someone who went from never having ran a step to a 5 time marathoner)

      1. A Minion

        Thank you for the suggestions and the encouragement. I will fit it in somehow and my goal is to be able to run a 5k before the end of the year.
        On the evenings that I get home on time, I can go to a nearby park, but I did consider joining the Y or a community center near work to do a morning routine so that I could shower before heading in to work. Sleeping in my workout clothes is an excellent suggestion, though! Thanks for that! I’ll definitely try morning workouts too to figure out what’s going to work best for me.

    4. Natalie

      I’m not pressed for time, but something about going to the gym always felt impossible to me. Getting dressed, getting my stuff together, interacting with a bunch of randoms… it always seemed like such a production, so I would only go if I was going to a long class. That meant I never went.

      I started working out at home instead. I do yoga in my living room (2nd bedroom will be a yoga room once I move!), bike around the city, and run in my neighborhood. You might find that, as a new runner, you can’t go for very long anyway. Running is deceptively hard, and I can only manage about 20 minutes, maybe 30 if I’m just CRUSHING it that day. Could you fit a 20-30 minute run into your schedule, just around your neighborhood?

      1. Elizabeth West

        I do this too–walking in my neighborhood when I get home from work. Going to the gym is a pain in the rear, but I do it when the weather is bad and I can’t go outside. I keep a loaded gym bag in my car with shoes, workout clothes, my padlock for the lockers, and the thingy I use to clip my phone to my waistband. I CANNOT walk without music. It drowns out the basketballs.

        1. Elizabeth West

          I forgot to add, I do stair climbs at work on my breaks, too. I go down and then climb up three floors six times. Twice a day. I lost some weight doing just that and changing my eating habits, but it was slow. It’s more a supplement and a way to keep my legs strong–I started doing it last spring to get used to stairs before I went to the UK. And it fits right into my day–I rarely have to skunk it unless I’m super busy or not feeling well.

    5. LizB

      If you can, I’d try to work out in the morning (assuming you can fit it in and still get enough sleep). That’s my preferred timing, because then I only have to take get dressed once and take one shower, and I feel more awake/energized for the whole day. My dream is to own my own treadmill someday, and be able to just roll out of bed, throw on a sports bra, and jog for half an hour in the comfort of my own home before I start my day.

      I just started the Couch-to-5k running program, and it’s pretty fun so far. It starts out nice and gentle, and while it ramps up quickly, you can repeat days as often as you like. I bought the official app for my phone, and use it along with music. Everyone I’ve talked to who has used it has given it rave reviews.

      When I’m really pressed for time, I work out along with exercise videos on YouTube instead of going for a run. There are a ton of beginning Zumba/jazzercise/other cardio videos out there, and you don’t usually need any equipment other than exercise clothes and maybe a towel. Some are as short as 10 minutes, so you can combine whatever lengths you need into the time that you have.

    6. AggrAV8ed Tech

      I work from 7 to 4 every day and I actually show up to work no later than 6am (my commute is about 40 minutes as well, traffic’s not bad at that time of the morning) so I can go for a four mile run on a trail nearby, then take a shower here at work to be ready for 7am. Not sure how feasible that would be for you, but that’s how I do it. Weigh 100lbs less than I did 7 years ago, so it must have done something for me.

    7. themmases

      (I have an irregular schedule and I walk and do yoga but am strongly considering adding running.)

      This is a more nebulous addition, but I try to keep exercise and my health on my mind somehow every day. And when I do exercise, I try to notice what immediate benefits I am getting that I can think of as a carrot for next time.

      For example, I try to usually have a fitness forum or blog that I follow at least casually and I weigh myself every day even though I know weight fluctuates– just to keep the topic of my health right in front of me. It’s easier for me to do the “right” thing if it feels like a choice I made 2 hours ago instead of 3 years.

      Exercise has lots of immediate benefits to be mindful of and that helps me want to do it. It can clear your head, help you sleep better, help you make a real break between what a lot of us do all day (sit at work then sit some more in the evening), give you an opportunity to explore your neighborhood and see pretty architecture and nature, enjoy spring/summer/fall weather, appreciate your sedentary hobbies more without getting restless, and sometimes even eat more!

    8. Ms. FS

      You didn’t mention whether your long commutes is due to lots of miles or lots of traffic. I have about a 16 mile commute roundtrip and it takes about 45 minutes in the car. I also have an extremely tight childcare schedule that requires me to leave exactly at a certain time otherwise I won’t be on time to work or to pick the kiddo up. I can’t rely on hubby because his schedule is insane, sporadic, and he’s disorganized. So I finally just realized that I would have to use my commute as exercise time and I got on the bike. It’s relaxing and I’m absolutely FORCED to do exercise because if I don’t I won’t get to work or back to school to pick up the kid! I can also mix it up by doing sprints or going hard uphills, etc, etc. I deal with sweaty-ness by wiping myself down with a wet washcloth and spraying a light fragranced body mister after the workout in the bathroom. So depending on your commuting situation, this could be an option for you.

    9. Newsie

      Agreeing with workout in the morning. I set out my clothes for both the gym and for work the night before so I can just roll out of bed to make it to my class on time. My coworkers on my schedule seem to do the same – there’s a gym and a park close to work, so they shower and arrive at work having just run.

    10. Anonsie

      I’m working on this myself. The balance of getting enough sleep and trying to fit more into the evening is tough. Personally, I cannot get up early and work out since that still messes with 1) the sleep issue and 2) makes me exhausted all day.

      The big thing for this and anything else is to always do it when you have a chance even if it just means a few minutes. Someone advised me a few months ago for a personal project to just start working on it any time I felt I had at least two minutes to work on it, even if I didn’t want to, knowing I would get engaged after those two minutes and spend some more time on it– but even if it’s just five or ten minutes, that’s a lot more than nothing. So don’t worry if you can’t get in a big long run. Do some small exercises at home every time you think you have a few minutes and don’t worry that it’s not a whole workout.

    11. Lady Bug

      I have a 50 min commute if I get up at 530 and go to the gym, otherwise it’s an hour and a half, which is my motivation to just get up and go. I work out about an hour, take a half hour to shower and change, and get to work by 830. I leave work by 6/630 most days, home by 7/730. I try to go to bed at 10, but I’m still ok with 11. I am not a morning person at all, but its been 2 months and I’m enjoying it.

      I haven’t lost any weight, and only really want to lose 10#, but I’ve built a ton a muscle and improved my stamina a ton. I’ve lost weight in the past tracking my calories much more easily.

    12. Rose of Cimarron

      I too have a long commute and work very long hours and am struggling with this. I have a stationary bike at home (found a great one used for $100) and I’ve started wearing a pedometer that acts as a reminder to get out of the office and walk around the block at least. I also re-joined Weight Watchers online tracking (it’s worked for me before) but I find that on top of working with a project management system in which I’m constantly tracking tasks, it’s a bit too much 24/7 tracking.

      Good luck. I get home and find it very hard to get on the stationary bike or take a walk or do yoga BEFORE I eat something.

    13. Kirsten

      It’s hard for me to get motivated on workdays as well. Now that it’s light out until at least 8pm, my husband and I go for a 2 mile walk almost every night after dinner. I try to do that at least 3 days a week then hike or take a spin class on the weekend. Even if you only run on the weekend, you will likely be able to get to a 5k by the end of 2015. I would just focus on running on the weekends and trying to get some other form of movement during the week like a walk or a quick at-home workout.

  44. SaraV

    So this is disheartening…

    I posted last week about a job I was excited about that seemed like it wouldn’t take your application if you had a 13 month gap in work. With some wise words from fposte and others, that wasn’t the case. Well, with my goofy work schedule, and just plain brain cramping on trying to write a cover letter, the job was off the website before I could complete my application.

    *sigh* It would have been fine, I think, if I had applied and been rejected, but to completely miss/biff the chance…Gah.

    I’m still looking, though, if it gets reposted. Read too many stories about that happening to give up.

    1. Carrie in Scotland

      Ah, I’m sorry the job disappeared. But on the positive side, you do have ideas/ways round your work gap if it ever comes up again…so that’s good :)

      1. TL

        Don’t feel bad, other jobs will pop up. It could be worst, you could have done what I did. Found a great job posting, listing half my current workload, low end of the pay range was x2 times what I’m currently making, full benefits. Unfortunately, they had a online application system that requires a sextant and star chart to navigate, and I end up submitting a half completed application with no resume or cover letter attached, and no way to go back and redo it.

  45. HeyNonnyNonny

    Happy Friday! I have a silly question:

    A lot of the AAM posts are populated by Jane, Fergus, Wakeen, and a few others…what do they look like to you?

    For me, Jane looks like a blonde Jane Jetson/Children of the Corn (perhaps because she’s always the bad employee?), Fergus is a Ferengi, and Wakeen of course looks like Wakeen Feenix. This makes some of the scenarios very odd….

    1. fposte

      There’s Bob, who to me tends to look like smiling Bob of the ridiculous Extenze commercials.

      1. HeyNonnyNonny

        Well great, now that’s going to be my new Bob default…and he always creeped me out so much!

    2. Demanding Excellence

      For some reason, I always picture Wakeen being from the Southwest – perhaps New Mexico.

      Personally, I hate the name Jane. It could be because I’ve known several Janes who I didn’t particularly care for. All of them were really nosey and negative. So, when I read the name Jane, I always think of a busybody type of character.

    3. puddin

      Jane looks like Jane Curtin doing the news for SNL from the 70’s.

      Fergus looks like Mr Bean.

      Wakeen looks like Christopher Walken (some alliterative association there).

      1. HeyNonnyNonny

        Hah! So if Jane starts doing something that needs a discussion, you can start by saying “Jane, you ignorant slut…”

    4. MaryMary

      When Alison uses fancy names (Percival, Cordelia, Lucinda), I picture veddy proper British people. Sometimes in period dress.

    5. YWD

      This year the ‘J’ hurricane will be Joaquin so we can also picture weather related chaos when thinking of him!

    6. Elsajeni

      In spite of his name, I’ve always thought of Wakeen as Indian. Jane is blonde and has a sort of rodenty face. And Apollo looks exactly like Reggie from Archie Comics.

      1. HeyNonnyNonny

        I…had to google Reggie. Hah! I always see him as Apollo Ohno, back when he was all shaggy and always wore a bandana on his head.

    7. Elizabeth West

      Bob–A random nondescript dude, sometimes older if we’re talking about someone over 40.

      Fergus–I always picture Ferguson from Clarissa Explains it All (Weirdly, I have a very cool character in Tunerville who is named Fergie and has red hair!)

      Wakeen–for some reason, I picture him as looking vaguely like Moss from The IT Crowd.

      Jane–reminds me of an old supervisor. Those scenarios are especially enjoyable when our example Jane is screwing up. >:)

  46. Natalie

    My dude just told me he got his new job. Super proud of him because he’s really new to thinking of job stuff as a two-way street, but when they underbid him on salary a bit he asked for market and got it. And a raise in 90 days (current job has given him exactly $0.35 in the last 2 years). And it’s a 20 minute bike ride from his house, rather than 45 minutes or longer in traffic. Woot!

  47. nona

    Blah. I’m vaguely thinking about graduate school, but keep coming back to that “grad school is not your escape” article. Thoughts?

    I have a B.A. in psychology. I’m interested in I/O.

    Not super serious about this. It’s one of a lot of things that I’m looking at.

    1. Dawn

      Do you need to go to grad school to get where you want to be in your career? If the answer is yes, then take a serious look at *when* in your career path you’d hit the ceiling of “you don’t have X degree, we can’t promote you any further”. If the answer is no, DON’T GO TO GRAD SCHOOL.

      1. nona

        The answer’s no, then. Part of the problem is that I had a career path planned, but have seriously lost interest in it/it wasn’t a good idea to begin with. (Why I’m looking at a lot of other things, too, and applying for jobs.)

      2. puddin

        I disagree in part. Education is not just a means to an end. If you think you will enjoy the challenge, want to expand your personal knowledge base for its own sake, AND can afford it (one way or another) then I say Yes – even a career boost is not certain or even all that relevant.

    2. Bella

      If you are specifically interested in I/O, I would get your masters. I am very interested in I/O but I couldn’t afford my Masters, so I do Human Resources which allows me to use I/O

      1. Coccinelle_rouge13

        I second both of these.
        If you get a masters in I/O you may end up in consulting, whereas HR isn’t necessarily as restricting.
        I was interested in I/O too and am currently getting an MBA where I get to learn about I/O even if they don’t call it that.

    3. Cristina in England

      What is I/O? I keep thinking Input-Output, like old keyboard ports or something.

    4. periwinkle

      If you’re seriously interested in I/O, check out the field and education information on the SIOP website. My own field is human performance improvement (HPI) and it’s a good place for psych majors to investigate. HPI is a blend of I/O, org behavior, training & development, business analysis, and HR.

      And as noted, do a lot of talking and thinking before making the decision to pursue a grad degree. Do you want to be an I/O psych practitioner (requires the master’s) or to use elements of I/O psych in your job (might not need it)? Are you interested more in I/O or in organizational behavior?

  48. IndianSummer

    I had a phone interview this week, and I think it went well. The interview was with HR and longish (45 minutes). She was very complimentary, said she gave me a thumbs up, and asked if I had any other offers pending. Good signs?

    But here’s what happened before and during the interview:
    I found my phone upside down in the dogs’ water bowl just 1 1/2 hours prior to the interview! Ack! Fortunately, it still worked fine.

    During the interview, I sat in my car a few blocks away from my current workplace. It was a morning phone call so I did not really consider the heat. About halfway through the interview, I was dripping with sweat! No exaggeration. I looked in the mirror and sweat was cascading down my face. However, I was afraid to turn on the car to get A/C or the windows down for fear that music would blast out of the speakers! My car’s volume seems to have a mind of its own. Then I had to go to work with a sweat soaked shirt and skirt.

    I feel like a walking disaster.

    1. Elizabeth West

      Youch! That wasn’t a good day. It sounds like something out of a sitcom.

      My last car had no AC and I drove it while interviewing during the heat of summer–everywhere I went, I arrived dripping. I had to wear a very light blouse and leave off the blazer until right before I went inside. Otherwise, I looked like a drowned rat. I would have fought people for shaded parking spots, too. Ugh.

      1. IndianSummer

        Oh man, that would be rough! I had the A/C go out in August on a previous car. It was pretty darn miserable.

        1. Elizabeth West

          It’s not the heat, though; it’s the humidity. Missouri can be very humid. Like today–we had pop-up thunderstorms and it feels as though you could wring it out like a washcloth.

  49. Don't Call Me, I'll Call You

    So I started a job earlier this year. My boss has been here for decades, generally working alone, and reports to the director of our organization, who has also been here for decades. My position is a new one, created because of a backlog of work in the department.

    My boss told me when I was hired the he knew he wasn’t a good manager. I work with one other person in our department who has been here for a couple years. She’s also hardworking and is extremely passionate about what she does. My boss told me on my first week, very privately, that he is unhappy with her work and has been for a long time. I asked him if this has been discussed with her and he said no, that she’d probably be shocked to find out that he was unhappy.

    Fast forward to now. I have gone through what has been a sharp learning curve in my organization, as I am the first one in my position ever and most of my coworkers have been here for most of their careers. Elements of my job have been extremely frustrating, as my boss prefers to do things himself without telling me and I am often unintentionally kept out of the loop. I try to regularly meet with him to what is going on and asked to be included, but this is not always successful.

    This week I unexpectedly got called into the director’s office, with my boss, and told that he had complained about me, saying I was not working up to what he expected , and that I was going to be put on a performance improvement plan. My boss then proceeded to outline mistakes that I’ve made in my short tenure, many that could have been addressed at the time, yet I had no idea I was doing these things wrong. I found out later that a similar conversation was held with his other direct report, the one he discussed with me during my first week, outlining a PIP for her as well.

    I’m shocked, hurt, and confused. I had no idea I wasn’t doing my job well and had been making efforts to stay in constant communication with my boss, but was not being informed of any of this unhappiness. I do honestly believe that this PIP is aimed at making me improve, not shoving me out the door, but I want to find a way to say to management that it’s not that I (or my coworker who is also on a PIP) want to do my job poorly, but neither of us are being given the tools, guidance, or support required to succeed. We already have weekly meetings, as well as impromptu meetings, and it’s still not working. I am up to doing the PIP, but fear I have now been permanently labeled a poor performer.

    I love this company and would like to stay here, knowing I have the skills and passion to do my job well.

    Any suggestions on how to proceed?

    1. LBK

      Wow. I honestly don’t know if there’s a solution here. It sounds like your manager just isn’t capable of giving you the kind of constant, immediate feedback you need in order to succeed in this position – especially considering it’s a new one and you have no one else to give you guidance. A PIP should never come as a surprise, it should be a last ditch effort after a trend of unsuccessful attempts at performance management.

      The best thing I can think of is to have a really direct conversation with him where you state that you need to know immediately whenever there’s an issue because you can’t fix problems you aren’t aware of. But I’m really hesitant to believe that someone who’s been historically bad at having direct conversations will be able to learn how to do this (or wants to, since it sounds like he’s only comfortable doing it when he can hide behind his manager and the formality of a PIP).

      1. LBK

        Oh – and on top of that, it’s completely unacceptable how your director handled this. First off, your manager shouldn’t be going to “complain” about you. If anything those conversations should be an FYI – “Jane isn’t working out, I’m putting her on a PIP.” Your director’s immediate response should’ve also been to ask what he’d already done to work with you. I can’t believe he agreed to this unless your manager lied about what kind of feedback he’s given you.

    2. BRR

      I think this is a your manager sucks and isn’t going to change. Or at least it sounds like he isn’t going to change.

      First, you might need to start job hunting. I’m sorry to say that but that’s basically always the first step in a PIP.

      Now let’s go over what you might do at work:
      -Do you know if your other coworker is good or bad at their job? If they’re good I feel like you might have some success in doing this as a group but you have to make sure your manager doesn’t feel like he’s being ganged up upon. “We’re really confused as this came as a complete surprise to both of us. Would it be possible to address errors when they occur so we can promptly work on that area?” or something like that.
      -If you can, recommend Alison’s book on management.
      -It sounds like you’re going to have to do some serious managing up. If you don’t have clear goals in your PIP ask for them. Communicate better is the type of thing that does not belong in a PIP, it’s vague. Ask what successful work looks like. Ask for more instruction. “I’m sorry you’re unhappy with my teapot. Would it be possible to go over the teapot making procedure again so my next teapot will be better?”
      -Is there anyone else you can get on your side? Someone who can say, woah you’re sucking at managing.

      Honestly I would be pretty direct if you can that he’s sucking (different words). But do you think he can change?

  50. Kat

    Any advice for someone about to go on their first international business trip? I’m not presenting anything formally, just meant to interact with our clients and maybe sell some extra work for our team.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale

      Read up on local business customs. Some countries (England, France) are easier than others (Japan) for North Americans to adjust to. You might be majorly jet-lagged, so don’t drink too much. Have fun. If you’re going to a country with good chocolate, stock up on you way home.

    2. YWD

      Two things I always bring when visiting a new country – Advil PM to help with time zone changes and protein bars because I am not at all adventurous when it comes to trying different food.

      Work related – I bring an envelope to store my receipts and try to make a note what each is for at the end of every day. Find out the weather / dress code, bring a gift from where you live if appropriate (my team loves American candy for some reason).
      Have a great time!

    3. Cristina in England

      Where are you going? The AAM commentariat is international and I’m sure you can get some good specific advice for where you’re headed. If you’re going to the UK, for instance, I would say to tone it down. Everything. Tone everything down. Especially anything positive. Enthusiasm. Optimism. Compliments. Vim and vigor and all that. It seems to grate on people here, moreso the farther north you go! (said with love for my Scottish friends and former colleagues). I’m American by the way, so this is just what I’ve directly observed in my ten years here.

  51. Carrie in Scotland

    I was in a meeting the other week and the person running the training spoke about “flipping the system over” meaning to update the system.

    What other interesting business-speak have you guys come across lately?

    1. Jennifer

      We have “this program is going away,” rather than saying a computer program is discontinued or died or whatever. I think it sounds like it just poofed into the ether.

    2. Mockingjay

      Yesterday my husband asked my opinion of the word “tarped.” (As a technical writer, I am the household arbiter of All Things Grammar.)

      He and his colleagues are referring to the covering of equipment with a tarpaulin.

    3. Diddly

      Not sure it’s interesting business speak. But one I’d like to nix “going forward” – going forward we will do x, y,z. While speaker has no plan to do it, doesn’t intend to enforce it etc, just pointless phrase. Grr….

    4. Cristina in England

      “On-boarding” should go away. What is wrong with “implementing” or “training” or “transitioning to”?

      1. Jessie's Girl

        I don’t think either of those words are appropriate for bringing someone new into a company. It’s not just about training, transitioning, there are dozens of other processes involved.

    5. QualityControlFreak

      When our clients complete their apprenticeship and become journeymen they are said to “journey out.”

    6. Clever Name

      “Low-hanging fruit” is one I hate. Particularly because my last boss, who just wasn’t a nice person on top of being a bad manager and just not all that smart, liked to use it often. He also want an especially hear worker, so yeah, he always wanted to go after what was easy.

    7. Kirsten

      Sunsetting meaning something is being phased out. We’re apparently sunsetting a lot of things at work so you hear the phase 50 times per day, I am so sick of it now haha.

  52. kristinyc

    How often does your company replace/upgrade computers? What do you think is reasonable to expect for how current your machine is?

    I just (FINALLY) got approval for a Mac (background: I’m new to the company. My work is a bit code/design involved. I’ve worked at startups the last five years and am much more comfortable on a Mac over a PC. I work at a non-profit that is a bit behind the times in terms of tech. There are people who have Macs, but it’s mostly designers and coders.)

    My manager approved for a new Mac to be purchased. It took IT a few weeks to sort through the request, and they brought me an iMac that is 5 years old. It’s a high-end model (27 inch, a decent amount of ram, all that), and probably better than the 3 year old PC they had me using before, but…isn’t that a bit odd? I know Macs last a while, but a five year old computer? My manager approved the budget to buy me a new computer. I feel like if I push back on this, I’ll be seen as the diva who needs the expensive computer (which I’m already worried about by even wanting a Mac). Our IT dept seems pretty anti-Mac, (and, um, Pro- Internet Explorer…. year) and I’m wondering if that’s playing into this.

    1. Treena Kravm

      I would find issues with the specific model first. For instance, I have a 2011 Macbook Air, and I can’t download an app because my iOS is out of date. It sounds like your IT dept wouldn’t have taken that stuff into consideration, so find the errors, and then go back and say, unfortunately, because it’s a 5 year old computer, I can’t do x, y, z.

    2. The IT Manager

      I think the standard for PC desktops/laptops is about three years; however, lately I am finding that 3 year old systems don’t actually need to be replaced.

      I would find giving someone a 5 year old system a bit odd though – like a slap in the face because that is outdated probably need replacing soon.

      My agency is much all PC. The standardization is very helpful for IT so I can understand their annoyance at having to deal with multiple OSes, but if your company approves it they should have to suck it up and deal with without being snippy about it. Will they? – that’s company culture.

      If they’re anti-mac, they’re probably pro-PC or windows (IE is the web browser). I just didn’t get what you were trying to say with that comment.

      1. Ad Astra

        It’s one thing to be pro-Windows. It’s quite another to be pro-IE. Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox are both much, much better browsers.

        1. Natalie

          Yeah, even my company, which largely seems to be stuck in the 90s IT-wise, is moving away from IE.

        2. themmases

          Yep. My last organization held onto IE and it was awful. Also, every place I’ve ever worked that was into IE was also very behind on updating IE. It was antiquated, unstable, not as secure as it could have been, and caused compatibility issues with many sites. The only benefit I could see that we got out of it was SharePoint compatibility, a dubious benefit if ever there was one.

          I understand why institutional IT (and often average users as well) can’t completely disable IE on Windows-based systems, but I definitely look askance at organizations that use it as the default.

      2. kristinyc

        Yeah, I was just trying to illustrate that they’re a bit behind the times in what they think we should be using in general. I know the difference between Windows and IE :)

    3. MaryMary

      In my experience a lot of companies are weird about upgrading technology. OldJob was a Fortune 500 company, and I had to fight for months in the mid- 2000s to convince IT I needed a computer with 1GB of memory. I got approval for the computer program that used a ton of memory, but couldn’t upgrade the hardware. Around the same time, they were extremely stingy with laptops (even though people regularly worked 60+ hours per week). I had a coworker who would unplug his CPU and carry it home so he could work on weekends without coming into the office. Eventually, someone in leadership saw him carrying computer components around and asked what he was doing, and shortly thereafter many of us got laptops.

    4. Lizabeth

      Mac user here – UNLESS the iMac can run the current OS, current Adobe Creative Suite (I have 5.5 at home but I refuse to pay monthly for the cloud version – darn you Adobe!!!) and has a serious amount of RAM, push back with a list of what the machine needs to have to do your job properly without waiting out spinning beach balls because there’s not enough RAM.

      The Mac Mini might be an option to suggest if they have decent monitors available. Again, how much RAM do you need? It’s all about the RAM…

      Most corporate “IT” people just don’t want to bother with Macs.

      A resource to check out: http://forums.macresource.com/
      They may have something in the archives about being the lone MAC in an IT department. I remember reading some threads along those lines. It’s also my go to place when I have problems with my Macs.

      You’re not a diva when requesting the equipment to do your job the right way. Good luck!

      1. kristinyc

        Thanks, good to know! I just need to be able to use Dreamweaver (I do email marketing, so I don’t have to deal with gigantic image files or anything like that) I have 8 GB of RAM, so I think I’m okay for the time being.

        I had budget approval to get a brand new one, I think it’s just IT being difficult for no real reason. The diva thing was since it’s a nonprofit, I don’t want to be perceived as someone who has to have the most expensive equipment.

        I’ve had some pretty ridiculous mishaps on my PC before switching over – apparently keyboard commands are very different in excel, and I somehow managed to turn my screen upside down multiple times when trying to select a column, just because of where my finger muscle memory goes from using excel on a mac. (Anyone on a PC who’s curious – I think it was either CONT + SHIFT + Down or Alt + Shift+ Down. I was working quickly and took a few minutes to get my computer back to normal!)

        1. Lizabeth

          If you’re in NYC (I’m assuming because of the user name) – go visit Tekserve on 23rd between 6th & 7th (I think!) to do some recon and get advice on the best setup for your needs. They are the BEST non Apple MAC store ever :))))))

    5. Cristina in England

      Look very hard for some spec in some essential piece of software that won’t work for you. For instance, you need the Adobe Creative Suite (whatever they’re calling it now) in the 64 bit version and the old computer will only run the 32 bit version. That’s a huge performance hit right there, and will cost lots in time.

      If your manager approved the budget but IT gave you an old computer, is it possible that IT is keeping the difference, or they don’t know that there is budget for a new computer?

    6. Anonsie

      Not odd for a nonprofit, no. Where I work they upgraded us to the 2010 version of all our Microsoft products up from the 2003 version a few months ago and that was just because all support for 2003 was cut. We’d still have it if not for that. Heck, the versions of Chrome we have available are so out of date that when I open gmail in either of them it puts up a big “what the hell are you doing with that browser” banner along the top, and Chrome is free. And we are not small and not under-funded.

      Honestly if you push too hard on this you are going to look like you’re pretty out of sync with the culture, I think, unless there is a specific problem the out of date computer is causing.

    7. Kelly

      I work for a public university that has been in the news recently for a significant budget cut and attack on tenure. Generally, our machines (90% PCs for staff workstations) are replaced about every 3 years. There have been some who would prefer to use Macs, which is a combination of personal preference and greater longevity of Macs. My division, campus libraries, switched to a new cloud based software. The reason given why we couldn’t have Macs for our office machines was that the old software was not Mac friendly. That excuse isn’t going to work with the new cloud based system. The MS Office isn’t an issue – campus gets discounts on both Office for PCs and Macs. I’m due for a new machine next year and two other coworkers are due for new ones this year. Both probably will stick with PCs because that is their personal preference. I’m going to try to get a Mac when I’m due next year using the arguments that it will take up less space, and won’t have to be replaced as frequently. I have a feeling that I’ll be denied for budgetary reasons but it’s worth a shot.

      Also, campus switched email and calendar services from one that was built in house at least 15 years ago to Office 365. I hate Outlook, having used it in another job. I’m almost sure the reason that Microsoft got the contract was that it was cheaper than Google. I wish we had gone with Google because they have better cloud support and a better interface. Same logic goes with my division and the software they selected. We went with a program that was unproven for a large system and we were the guinea pigs for any adjustments that needed to be made. We’ve been live a little under a month and there are too many bugs that are still being worked out. We should have waited to go live until all the bugs were fixed so the patrons would have a better experience or went with a more proven software for a multi-campus system.

  53. Muckraker

    So, I was officially offered a communications job with a university this week! I’m waiting on the background check to complete before I submit my official notice. Does anyone know how long this process generally takes for a staff position at a university? I’ve always worked in the private sector, so I’m not sure how extensive an institution that receives state and federal funding is required to dig or how long that generally takes.

    1. LibrarianJ

      In my experience this actually has more to do with the source of the background check than university procedure. I was recently on a hiring committee for a staff position. HR went to run a background check on our top candidate, which they expected to last about a week. However, this check apparently went through the town where the candidate was currently living, and that particular town had a 15-business-day turnaround time. I don’t think this is common because HR was floored, but we were stuck with that timeline, and in the end I think the check did actually come through on (business) day 14.

      1. LibrarianJ

        I’ll add the caveat (I didn’t read your last two sentences carefully enough) that I’m at a private institution, so a public institution might need to do more digging. But I’d imagine at least some things hold true for both.

    2. periwinkle

      It depends on how efficient the university’s HR is at submitting requests to the background check company AND how efficient said company is at running checks AND how responsive other agencies are. When I was in HR, our provider offered 3 business day turnaround; it usually took only two but some states/counties were consistently slower to respond to criminal records requests. Meanwhile, when I was on the other side of hiring, it took about two weeks for my new employer’s service provider to get all the background work done (they are very, very thorough about that – and yet never checked my references?).

      When in doubt, ask. Drop a quick email to your HR contact at the university.

  54. anon for this

    So I just got a contract position at as an administrator for a well known retail company and it’s been nothing but a disaster so far.

    Starting from the day I got an interview offer – they screwed up my email so I never got the information, called me the day off the interview to schedule because of the screw up, called me with an offer and forgot to tell me where to go on my first day, called my house to ask if I was at work while I was in the dam orientation on the first day!!, the payroll is messed up, no one knows how to communicate, no one knows the answer to anything, everyone always passes the buck .. I could go on but you all get the point.

    These are all serious red flags .. and yet my family thinks I should take a full time position if offered. Thoughts?

    1. LizB

      Noooo. Don’t take a full time position if you’re seeing this many red flags. That place sounds miserable, and you deserve better.

  55. Snargulfuss

    A few months ago I recall a discussion (I believe it was in one of these Friday open threads) about mistakes people made in their first professional jobs. Have there been any full ask the reader posts on advice on for new grads on how to be professional or mistakes not to make? If not, Alison would you consider doing one?

    I find the ask the reader posts chalk full of useful information, and I’d love to point my students toward a post such as the one I’m describing. I have tons of information I share with them on how to search for a job, but I don’t have as many quality resources on what to do once they’ve started the job.

  56. Anonymusketeer

    I’m only about two months into my new job and I just… don’t like it. The people are really nice but the work is boring, the environment is stiff, and the vacation package is freaking terrible. I’m really mad at myself for not trying to negotiate a reasonable amount of vacation. Now I have a bunch of weddings this year and I’ll be taking all those Fridays off unpaid.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale

      Seriously wondering if you’re the person they hired to replace me at my old job… I stuck around for over a year hoping things would get more interesting. Glad I did because they eventually let me work remotely when I moved, but it was the worst job I ever had.

  57. Marie

    So after over a year and a half of being promised a permanent position “any day now” and signing month to month contracts, the job posting finally went up for the position I was promised…except it’s not in any way what I was promised. I was told that I would be getting a entry-level associate fundraising-related job (I’m a general office temp right now, just on paper, as I am carrying out responsibilities way above my pay scale), and instead what went up was a posting for an administrative assistant. The first job would have been a non-union job with a higher salary, and the possibility of merit increases down the road, while the admin job would be a much lower paying, union job with a maximum 1% yearly increase (with no chance of promotion for at least a few years as this is a tiny, tiny department). Not to mention that having the second title over the first on my resume will make it harder for me to get more senior jobs in fundraising in the future even if I’m qualified for them (not that I don’t respect administrative coordinators, but I would like a job title that reflects what I’m actually doing, instead of it being applied to me blindly so that my employer can pay me less and give me less perks). I feel like I’ve been punched in the face after what has been a very stressful year+ long ordeal, and so the emotional part of me just wants to pack up my desk today before I leave and walk out on this entire fiasco. The slightly less irrational part of brain is telling me to just not apply for the job and leave at the end of this month’s contract, which means that my department will be forced to hire someone (all posted jobs must be filled!) who is very unlikely to carry out all these higher-level tasks for a paltry admin salary, let alone to the level of an employee who has been doing this for three years already!
    /rant over

    1. fposte

      Ugh. I’m sorry.

      I don’t think you should leave out of spite, but I think leaving soon is still a reasonable possibility. You have no obligation to take a job that isn’t what you’re looking for, and it may keep you from finding the kind of job you *are* looking for. If relationships are good, it might also be worthwhile to talk to your manager or whoever was saying “We’ll have a job for you” to say that this isn’t the job for you, unfortunately.

      1. Marie

        Unfortunately, they are very much aware that this isn’t the job for me as we discussed the job at length before it was posted. I was told that it had x,y,z characteristics the last time I spoke to them…then the job went up this morning and it was a 180 from what we had agreed upon. I wouldn’t have even known that the posting was meant for me if our department wasn’t made up of about 6 people, and therefore I would know if we were recruiting an extra administrative assistant (I was also told it would go up today). My current contract ends on the 30th of June regardless. At this point, I have no plans to accept a renewal, and I doubt completely that they’ll even offer me a renewal if I don’t apply for this permanent position. My entire floor is supposed to go on vacation the week after my current contract ends (I haven’t had any vacation days for the 3 years I’ve been a temp, but that’s another story), so they either someone is going to have to give up their vacation or they will have to shut down that entire part of the office for a week (which is not feasible as we are the donations/main office of a foundation).

      1. Marie

        It’s not the title that’s the problem – it’s the different classifications. I work in a huge bureaucracy so it’s not as simple as asking for a title change. This new administrative position needs to be abolished (which can take months to do – Central HR and the union need to both approve the cancelling of the posting) and the “new” position (i.e. my originally promised position) then needs to be created/re-created. For this, I need to go to my supervisor, who would need to go to the head of the department, the head of the department then needs to approach both the CFO and Head of the Teaching hospital I work at, who would need to approve the job, then that has to be discussed with the HR of the hospital, then brought to Central HR of my university…and then there’s plenty of steps after that. And each of these steps requires extensive documentation and the actual drafting of proposals for why the position is needed (even for very low-paying jobs). Unfortunately, there is no official recourse for an employee who has been misclassified like this. If your supervisor does not want to move you into another category, that process dies at the first step.

        It’s taken almost a year and a half just to get this posting up. It takes just as long to get an administrative position approved and posted as it does a non-union, professional job, which is why I’m so angry at this sequence of events. Misclassifying me is all about paying me less and leaving more room in the budget to hire other temps (we have more temps now than permanent staff). I am convinced at this point that they knew all along this was how it was going, but they think that I’m going to feel that I’m so invested in getting hired after all this time that I will just take whatever they give me (some sort of sunken cost fallacy).

        1. fposte

          Ah, this is a university situation. Oh, boy. Yeah, usually I’m dubious of “they knew all along” thinking, but I think in this case you might be right; around my university there’s no way it would just come back as a union/staff job when it was submitted as a professional position. The closest would be a rejection of the request with a notice that such a position would be considered union/civil service and therefore couldn’t be a professional position–but even then you’d have to submit the request for the union/civil service job.

          Sorry. It can be tough to slide people from the contract to the permanent, but people generally get that–it’s when it’s done in a way that minimizes the importance to the employee that it feels so disrespectful.

  58. Anony-moose

    Linked-In. Important or not? Let’s hear arguments.

    I’m a big fan of Linked In. I use it all the time. I use it for networking, for my job as a nonprofit fundraising professional, and because it’s interesting. I’ve landed great freelance jobs through it because people in my network message me through it. I’m solidly pro Linked In. I also have a stable, traditional 9-5 job at a well-run nonprofit.

    Traveling Best Friend thinks Linked In is all sorts of useless. He’s a travel writer and gets his work through word of mouth for the most part. He abhors the whole idea of Linked In. Recently his “boss” (who he reports to when he does work for one major company) posted on Facebook about how useless HE thought Linked In was. Traveling Best Friend is a freelancer, travels constantly. Total nomad. We’re professional obstacles

    We’ve been locked in this fiery debate that’s descended into something akin to sibling rivalry. Tell me your arguments why Linked In is the best thing in the world so I can proverbially kick his arse, or tell me why I’m stupid and it is actually the worst.

    1. Partly Cloudy

      “We’re professional obstacles”

      I assume you meant to say opposites… so LinkedIn is perfect for you, the traditional office job professional, and useless to him, the creative freelancer. :)

      1. Anony-moose

        Hah, I just caught this. Yes, opposites!

        I keep arguing that it could be a great networking tool for him. But maybe I’m wrong?

        1. Partly Cloudy

          What Colette said.

          Even though I’m an office-dweller myself, I “use” LinkedIn to the extent that I have an account. I rarely check it. And I know even less about what it takes to be a successful traveling writer, although I wish I knew more! Talk about a dream job.

        2. Felicia

          I think it could be, but he has to put effort into it to make it that. If he just signs up for an account and forgets about it, then there’s no point. Sort of like if someone gives you a business card and then promptly throws it out.

    2. Colette

      Social media, in general, is one of those situations where you get out of it what you put into it. If you spend time on it and use it to build or maintain relationships, it’s great. If you sign up and expect jobs to come to you, it’s useless.

      1. Jennifer

        Pretty much. Also depends on your industry. I only found it helpful for getting a hold of one of my references at one point. Otherwise I haven’t logged into it in years. But it’s not exactly helpful in my industry/position either.

    3. Christian Troy

      I don’t find Linkedin useful for my industry TBH. 90% of the positions I apply to and am looking for are not posted on LinkedIn so I don’t update my account anymore.

    4. Felicia

      Well we post jobs on LinkedIn, as do a lot of other companies, so it’s a great place to find a job if you’re looking for one. Also a lot of the freelance “word of mouth” happens on LinkedIn. E.g. I work for someone at company A. That person has moved on to company B. I see that company B is looking for some work that I can do. I find the person I knew from company A and ask them. Or… I loose track of a former person I did work for, and want to see if they require further work. I use LinkedIn to find them . It’s just another medium for the traditional networking he seems to be doing. Why is he so against it? He could be getting even more work if he used it for all he knows.

      1. Anony-moose

        That’s what I keep saying and he seems staunchly against it.

        I get a lot of messages like “If I recall, you do some writing, right? Can we chat about this project?” and I’ve landed some good clients from people in my network. One woman, for instance, served on professional board I managed. Two years later, I’m helping her out writing stewardship reports.

        In my mind, Linked-In can be a fantastic online resume and/or CV. And if you’re a published writer, having all those links adds credibility. In his mind…I don’t know!

        1. Felicia

          For me, I met someone at an event for my job, and she added me on LinkedIn. Then she sent me a message later saying she’d love to connect and talk about the industry. She acts as a mentor to me now, and I wouldn’t have that without LinkedIn. Is it because he just doesn’t like the newfangled internet witchcraft?

    5. katamia

      I maintain a basic profile on there in case it somehow magically becomes useful, but for my career goals and industry, I can’t imagine it becoming useful. I’m closer to your best friend’s end of the spectrum, though. I have a network of writing people and websites who are much better about letting me know about writing work (not my main job, something I’d eventually like to be my main job but am so not there yet), and tbh when people on AAM talk about being contacted by recruiters or hiring managers and such on LinkedIn there’s a small part of me that just…kind of doesn’t believe it. Not that I think people are actually lying, just that it’s so far outside of all of my job experience since I started working that I can’t even imagine it.

      1. Anony-moose

        I get contacted by recruiters fairly regularly. It’s never anything very promising but I’d say I get at least one message a month and I’m fairly early in my career. I wonder if it is industry specific?

    6. Cristina in England

      If his way is working for him, then why would he invest a lot of time and energy in Linked In? He doesn’t have a problem for Linked In to solve. It would be different if he were complaining to you that he can’t find any freelance work, but it doesn’t sound like that’s the case. His way of finding jobs seems to be working just as well for him as Linked In works for you.

      1. Betty (the other Betty)

        Freelancer here. I find LinkedIn to be useful. Most of my ‘new’ clients are referrals from existing clients, so it’s nice for the new (potential) client to be able to find out my background via LinkedIn. I also have a website, but that shows my portfolio while LinkedIn shows more of a resume.

        Also, I’ve had several clients leave one company, get a new job, look me up on LinkedIn, and hire me to do work for their new company.

        And it’s handy to be able to connect with people I meet at networking events so that we can find each others contact info later. Yes, they probably gave me their business card, but I probably threw it in a box and wouldn’t be able to find it later. Plus, when I look someone up on LinkedIn, I can (usually) see their photo.

  59. I'm Not Phyllis

    I recently left my job – a lateral move involving very little change in salary or benefits. I’m pretty happy with my decision. However, my old boss keeps telling people I left because she’s a “tough boss,” implying that I just couldn’t keep up. I left the job for a host of reasons, including a ton of overtime (which I wasn’t supposed to ask for lieu time for), a toxic work environment, management who throws its employees under the bus with volunteers constantly and a general disagreement (on my part) with the way money is being spent at a charitable organization. My boss being “tough” (read: micromanager) really was the least of it. Do I say something or just leave it alone? I’m happy where I am but I do still care about my reputation and don’t want her telling people I couldn’t keep up when that’s not at all the reason I left.

    1. Muckraker

      I’d leave it alone and focus on moving forward. I’m sure the people who work with her are also familiar with her shortcomings and see it as the obvious face-saving measure it is.

      1. I'm Not Phyllis

        I totally agree with you, except that it’s not just former co-workers she’s telling. She ran into a friend of mine who mentioned she heard that I had recently left, and this was the line my former boss gave her. My friend happened to already know why I left so it doesn’t really matter in that case, but I worry about who else she’s saying it to.

        1. J.B.

          I think if I heard someone calling himself or herself a “tough boss”, I would think that person is probably really awful to work for. Few people really see the negatives in themselves, and if someone got to the point of calling themselves tough as a boss I’d wonder if that meant there was really some screaming involved. (In contrast, the way Alison describes herself, much more specifically of setting a high bar, etc, tends to make me think she’s tough but fair. Which is why we’re all her groupies :)

        2. J.B.

          And really there is no point in worrying what an evil ex-manager says, because then you are still giving them power over you. You know? There are always two sides to every story, and most people will realize that if they put their thinking caps on.

        3. fposte

          It doesn’t matter. You can’t get her to shut up, and what she’s saying is having very little effect. Ask people not to pass this on to you and file it away as another reason why it was good to leave.

    2. chemicals like some cheese-eating high-school boy

      This is just me, but if I talked to a person A who told me that one of their employees B quit because person A was a “tough boss”, my default assumption would be that person A was a huge pain in the ass.

      I don’t think I’m alone. Face it: being a self-proclaimed “tough boss” who goes through a lot of employees is not exactly something to be proud of. And someone who *is* proud of it – well, that’s a Big Red Flag right there.

  60. Leslie Knope

    Oh yay, Friday open thread, I’ve been waiting all week to ask this!

    I came across a weird situation at work this week. I thought the answer was completely black and white, but friends I respect have disagreed with my snap judgment when I polled them about it.

    In your opinion, can a worker refuse to share office space with a person of the opposite sex? These are offices that are designed to be occupied by two people, and they either have large windows or are located in a very public part of the building. The objection is about sharing with any member of the opposite sex, not a specific person who has annoyed or harassed the complainant in the past. When the complainants were hired, the shared offices were all single-gender, although that was a complete coincidence. Now we’ve had some turnover, and the shared offices might wind up mixed-gender.

    A married woman is on the verge of quitting, and as far as I can tell, her quitting is mostly due to this office issue. An unmarried man came to me about the issue. He’s very upset and is pretty much set on quitting or going to HR in our very large system about this. He’s a very conservative person and says it’s about his own personal discomfort, not the fear of how his relationship with this hypothetical woman would be perceived. I am not a manager, just an onlooker, by the way.

    What do y’all think? Am I off-base in thinking this is irrational and that giving into it would lead to crappy, discriminatory hiring practices?

    1. Somewhere over the Rainbow

      I’m a bit confused – is it the married woman or the unmarried man who is threatening to quit? Or both of them?

      1. LBK

        I think it’s both – him because he doesn’t want to share an office with a woman, her because she’s offended by his assertion that them sharing an office would be a problem.

        1. the gold digger

          This was one of my GMAT logic problems! I had to load six people into two canoes and meet all the conditions, one of them being that “Bob can’t work with or sit by women,” and all I could think of was, “Bob is an idiot” and “If I were Bob’s boss, this would not be my problem.”

          Today, although I almost always disagree with my German co-worker about how we approach change management – I say we have to make a compelling case for change and give people the tools they need, he says we just tell them “This is how it is and it’s our way or the highway,” I would have to agree with him about this guy who doesn’t want to share an office. “This is how it is and if you don’t like it, you may quit.”

      2. Leslie Knope

        Sorry for being unclear. The unmarried man and the married woman are both upset separately. They are both currently alone in two-person offices and are both upset at the prospect of their (separate) hypothetical officemates being of the “wrong” gender.

        1. themmases

          Not only do I agree with the other commenters that this is a totally unreasonable complaint, your clarification makes it sound like these people just don’t want to have to share an office.

    2. LBK

      Wow.

      That is sexist BS and completely inappropriate for the office. If he’s uncomfortable because he thinks she’d be some sort of distraction or temptation, that’s his own problem. I can’t fathom an acceptable reason to grant this request.

      1. katamia

        I agree. I get that the married woman is upset too in this case, but if I were in a similar situation where a man didn’t want to share an office with me solely because I was a woman (distraction, temptation, whatever) and that request were actually granted, I’d be looking for a new job. Ugh.

        1. LBK

          I want to clarify – I didn’t read it at first that the woman was upset because she had to share with a man, but rather that she had to share with this particular man since he was being pretty demeaning to her. Now that the original commenter has clarified that both are upset with the general idea of sharing with someone of the opposite sex, I think the woman is being equally sexist. She’s reinforcing the idea that a woman should limit her interactions with men who aren’t her husband and/or painting all men as ravenous beasts who will try to take advantage of her.

          In short, get over it.

    3. Sarah Nicole

      I don’t like it and in my mind it is irrational. It’s a work space, not a hotel room. People of opposite genders share offices all the time. Leave the door open! However, I can also see that anyone who has been sexually harassed at work or even assaulted by anyone may feel uncomfortable – if he or she works late or comes in early, I could see feeling uncomfortable or uneasy. I guess I’m just saying that it’s possible someone might have a very personal reason (that they shouldn’t have to share) for being uncomfortable with it. But for people just feeling uncomfortable with sharing a workspace with someone from the opposite gender…I think that’s unreasonable. The hard part is that you probably won’t be able to distinguish one from the other.

      1. Colette

        But if the issue is that they’re afraid of something happening if they’re there in unusual hours, being in a separate workspace isn’t going to provide any protection. The issue there would be that there’s no one else around to help if there was an issue, not that their desks are side by side.

        1. Sarah Nicole

          Yeah, I agree with you. If someone is going to be harassed or assaulted, changing circumstances like these won’t help. I’m just saying that it would be an understandable reason for someone to feel uncomfortable. I can’t think of any other reason why this should make someone feel uneasy.

      2. Treena Kravm

        No. I come from a strong sexual assault/domestic violence background. If a survivor is at the point where sharing an office with a window is too triggering, they’re not functional. How do they sit on public transportation, go to the grocery store? They need to get back into therapy and figure out their stuff. It’s absolutely unreasonable to expect a workplace to cater to this.

        1. Sarah Nicole

          I totally agree. All I was saying is that someone at that point may feel uneasy, and it would probably be impossible for the employer to know that was the reason. I’m all on board for this whole situation being unreasonable and something the company shouldn’t have to cater to.

    4. Natalie

      Nope, those people are being completely unreasonable. Oh no, they’re going to sit 10 feet away from someone of the opposite sex!!! The horror.

    5. HeyNonnyNonny

      Yeah, this doesn’t make sense at all. Perhaps they’re both just upset at the idea of losing their single-person offices?

      1. Partly Cloudy

        I think you’re onto something here. If they’re both used to having their own private office, complaining about having to share “with the opposite gender” might just be a convenient excuse.

    6. Margali

      I think their concerns are cuckoo. Are they going to ask for a segregated lunchroom next?

    7. Jennifer

      Do you live in a heavily religious area? Because that’s the only way this one makes any sense to me.

      Yes, it’s irrational. But if you’re about to lose two employees because they can’t stand to room together at work, maybe it’s worth it to you to scratch this idea, even if they’re being irrational. It’s clearly bad enough to both of them to think it’s worth quitting over, after all.

    8. Dasha

      I’ve had to share an office with a man before and I never thought twice about it. I guess I kind of think this whole thing is pretty over the top.

    9. Anoners

      Yeah. This is crazy. Instead of it being over gender, switch it with religion. It would be insane to separate two employees because of their beliefs, and it’s equally insane to separate them over gender (this is assuming you live in a place where both gender and religion are protected rights that can’t be discriminated against).

    10. periwinkle

      Really? I share a moderately large cubicle with an opposite-sex co-worker. We all have shared cubicles and are generally grouped by job function or team needs. Gender isn’t a factor.

      I suspect your co-workers are more upset about the “another person” part of the equation rather than the “different gender” bit.

    11. Sunflower

      These people are crazy. That is my only input. That and how do they function in the world?

    12. chemicals like some cheese-eating high-school boy

      In the distant past I’ve been part of a group that was being relocated. Management handled it pretty much ad hoc: they already had a reasonable feel or which people would ‘fit’ together in an office, and if people had specific objections (re gender or personality or whatever) there would be a little bit of last-minute shuffling. Which seemed like a good way to handle it – out of the many, many ways that an employee can become disgruntled, being seated with the “wrong” officemate is one of the more serious situations that can arise in the office. Putting in a little effort and flexibility up front seemed well worth the hassle.

      1. misspiggy

        Maybe in this case the flexibility should be to put the two complainants together – they’ve made it clear they don’t approve of inter-gender office shenanigans, so that should be the most reassuring pairing possible for them, without setting an awful gender segregation precedent.

  61. SwissTeapot

    Is it normal or good practice for managers to announce firings in group meetings? I haven’t worked long enough to know if this is typical (3 months in this company, 1.5 years since I finished school) but the announcement has generated an unsettling feeling in me. I do not know the person or his work well, but I do know he often comes in on weekends to work so this came as a surprise. He had been with the company for a number of years.

    1. Felicia

      It’s been typical in my only a tiny bit more experience than you have. How else would you want them to announce it? A lot of people would need to know that someone no longer works there in order to do their jobs properly, and often you don’t know the warnings, performance improvement plans, etc. someone would have gotten before a firing. It may be a surprise to you, but may not have been a surprise to the person.

    2. Dave#

      We used to get euphemistic emails.

      “Hi everyone,

      This email is to inform you that so and so is no longer with Company Name.

      Thank you,
      Manager.”

      Very unsettling.

      1. Jennifer

        We get those too. Or “Friday was so-and-so’s last day” for the last person who got fired.

      2. MaryMary

        Yes, it’s commonly assumed that “today was her last day” means the employee was fired.

      3. skyline

        This is what we get these days. I agree they’re unsettling, but I’m not sure I see a much better alternative. People need to know the person is gone. (As opposed to years past, when the person who had left stayed on the phone list for ever and ever. Ugh. Awkward.)

    3. Treena Kravm

      Did they actually say “fired?” That’s pretty unusual. The typical wording is, “Jane is no longer an employee here” or “Jane’s employment with us ended on June 1st” etc.

      1. SwissTeapot

        The person sent a goodbye email last Friday that he was leaving (I thought he quit). The manager then explicitly said he was fired yesterday.

        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          Sometimes people actually need to know the circumstances — that it was a firing. It can affect things like their work needing to be re-reviewed, or understanding why a huge hole was left in their project, or just knowing not to assume work they sent to you recently was perfectly done. Or the employer might feel like they want you to understand why someone just disappeared without any warning.

          1. Creag an Tuire

            Posted before seeing this response, but even in such cases how often does there need to be a group announcement? (As opposed to a quiet talk with whoever’s going to be responsible for quality-checking Bob’s work, who likely already knew that Bob was having problems.)

            1. Ask a Manager Post author

              I’d say it varies. Small team? Might be everyone. Large team? Probably not.

              But there are circumstances where I could see telling everyone the basics, especially if the employee is pushing a totally wrong version of what happened, which I’ve seen.

              1. Anomanom

                I worked in a building with a workplace shooting a few years ago perpetuated by a recently fired employee and had a good friend whose fiance was killed by an employee he had let go earlier that day. My last company always made it clear if someone was or was not welcome back in the building after termination as a safety precaution. Extra eyes knowing, hey this person shouldn’t be in the building are not a bad thing. I am extra sensitive to this though, I know.

              2. Rebecca

                We’ve had this situation at my office before. We had a fairly small team and morale was pretty low at that point (due to forces outside of our team). Nobody thought the person in question was a high performer, but I think our manager was afraid that people would get worried that it was a layoff and worry that they would be next. So we had a team meeting and he basically said that Wakeen had been let go, there were some ongoing issues (he didn’t go into any details) and that we had no need to worry about our own jobs. Then we talked about the logistics of covering the open workload.

                I much preferred that to when someone just disappeared. That just always led to gossip and paranoia for no reason.

              3. Lindsay J

                I’ve done it before, just to quash rumors.

                We fired a woman because she had stolen a large amount of money. She was pleasant, well liked, had worked there several years, and nobody really suspected until we saw the evidence.

                I didn’t go into a lot of detail, but I did let my team know she had been let go due to “a severe policy violation” because there were rumors swirling around about what happened.

                (Also, they had to know because it was a secure workplace, and they needed to known that she was not allowed to access the building any longer.)

        2. Creag an Tuire

          Wow. That’s a git move by that manager — the employee was willing to leave graciously with no fuss, but you’re going to rub in that he was fired anyway. Git git git.

  62. A Nonny Mouse

    How do you know when the job just isn’t a good fit and you need to stop trying to make it work?
    I have been in my position for 18 months. It was presented as 30% staff/volunteer management and the rest programming and research. However, in reality, the values are flipped, and I think I am just too introverted to be handling conflict and managing difficult people all the time. It completely drains me. 2 of my 3 staff people are difficult, 1 exceptionally so, and nearly impossible to fire (yay for government work!). I hear that she is badmouthing me to other volunteers, who are already displeased because I came in as policy was changing, and I had to implement it. I feel like I can’t trust my staff, volunteers, or colleagues. This, on top of grad school and a long commute, feels like too much. It is exacerbating some chronic health problems, and I have gained a significant amount of weight since I started.
    I think I have decided to move on at the end of the calendar year to see the program through a big event and to wrap up two research projects, but there are many days where I feel like I need to leave now.
    So how do you know?

    1. Jennifer

      You know it’s time to move on when you can find another job to move on to. So yes, you should be job hunting. You don’t know how long or how many years it will take to find another job, so you might as well get on it.

      I feel similarly about the draining aspects of my job.

    2. Dawn

      “It is exacerbating some chronic health problems, and I have gained a significant amount of weight since I started.”

      When a job starts to affect your health, it’s time to leave, job lined up or no job lined up (assuming you can swing it financially).

      NOTHING in life is worth sacrificing your health for, especially not some stupid job where your name will be completely forgotten a year from now.

  63. Felicia

    So I’m reviewing job applications now, my first experience involved in any kind of hiring, and I’m shocked at how bad most of them are! There are so many that put the name of the wrong job in the cover letter, or misspelled the name of the city they work in , or sent in super generic cover letters if they sent any at all (we said to send a cover letter, obviously they can’t follow directions if they didn’t send one). Or they say in their cover letter that they’re excited about the job because they’ll get to do x and y…well no, they won’t get to do x and y, it doesn’t say anything about x or y in the job description. Or they have a totally unrelated PhD, and the job only requires a bachelor’s , and they’ve never had experience in the job aspects and don’t mention that. Or they live in the US (I’m in Canada), and don’t acknowledge that. Or they live a 5-6 hour drive away and don’t acknowledge wanting to move here. Just reading AAM so much I guess I’m now surprised at the people who don’t know this stuff. Even the few we’ll interview is a reluctant interview. The worst is the one that mentioned how much they love their cats in the cover letter. Why?? I love cats too, but that’s not where you say that. Now i’m concerned we won’t be able to find anyone even remotely ok.

    1. OfficePrincess

      I know that feeling. I’m not sure if it’s because there’s so much bad advice out there or that people don’t know what’s expected and wing it, but I’ve definitely gotten some doozies. Between a resume that had random chunks in a foreign language to one that had more than 5 bullet points about animal care and breeding for an office job, I’m always a little nervous when I start screening.

  64. Knits and Giggles

    A little job-hunting rant: I roll my eyes whenever I see “_______ industry opportunity” in job posting titles (“Fashion Industry Opportunity,” “Entertainment and Media Industry Opportunity” and so on).

    I don’t know if this verbiage is seen in job postings in better-paid (or less “glamorous”) industries. But whenever I see boasts about the “opportunity” upfront, I read it as “This job has low pay and awful conditions, but everyone wants to work in this industry, so if we hire you, consider yourself lucky. And if you’re truly lucky, you MIGHT be able to make connections or meet someone who knows a wealthy bachelor.”

    1. Laurel Gray

      Interesting. When I see this, it usually screams “job posted by staffing agency, not the actual company!”

    2. Sunflower

      Totally agree. I see a lot of marketing/fashion/sports/public relations/event planning entry-level. I believe most of these jobs are actually sales jobs- some door to door sales- and most are commission only. I don’t click on them at all.

  65. Clever Name

    You guys, we have a new receptionist, and my coworkers and I are totally at Bitch Eating Crackers stage with this woman. She was okay her first few weeks. But it seems like she’s no longer on her best behavior and she is completely obnoxious. She will barge into people’s offices/workspaces and launch into conversations about her weekend and shove her phone in your face so that you are forced to look at a picture of a fish she caught or her dog or whatever. She wears stretch pants/leggings in the office and she greets visitors by loudly saying, “Hi!! I”m Jane! What’s your name?!?”

    Worst of all, she barged into my office the other day and said (loudly) “Somebody’s lunch really smells!! What did they heat up??” I was eating my just warmed-up lunch and said, “Well, I’m eating now, so maybe it’s me” She said, “Well, it smells terrible!” I was momentarily speechless and then gave a tight-lipped smile and said, “Well, it’s my lunch, and I think it tastes just fine”. Even worse, the next day she discovered that I had forgotten some restaurant leftovers in the office fridge that was starting to go off. Instead of quietly throwing it out and just not saying anything or even apologetically telling me that she had to throw out my food because it was starting to smell, she said very loudly, “You know those leftovers from Restaurant you had in the fridge? Well, it was stinking up the fridge, so I had to throw it out!” I’m embarrassed and insulted. I’m the type of person who tries to be really conscientious at work. I clean up after myself (and others), I’m not loud. I try to be friendly. I knock before entering someone’s office and ask if they have a moment before I ask a question. I have worked at four different workplaces, and I’ve been in this current office for years, and not once has anyone ever commented on how my food smells. Never. I do plan to say something to her if she says anything to me about my food. But she really is driving me (and everyone else, from what I hear) nuts. The worst part is that she replaced a longtime and beloved receptionist who was just not able to keep up with the increasing demands of our growing business. She’s actually worse than the person who was let go! No advice. Just a vent.

    1. Eeek...

      I’m not trying to be unsympathetic but I think you’re being overly sensitive. It sounds like she’s pretty over the top and you’re pretty reserved and you just don’t mesh well with her.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale

        I have to disagree. There’s gregarious, then there’s obnoxious. This woman sounds like the latter. Making a show of throwing away your food? Telling you your lunch smells? That is BS and inappropriate. Is this her first office job? Also, the “Hi, I’m Jane! What’s your name?” greeting is remarkably unprofessional. The receptionist should always greet everyone, yes, but, “Good morning! Welcome to Wakeen’s Teapots Unlimited. Can I help you?” is much better. Heck, stop at “good morning”.

        Sadly, I have no advice, but I would feel the same way you do. And yes, next time she comments on your lunch, tell her you’d rather not hear it.

        1. Clever Name

          Yes, I think she is remarkably unprofessional. Not only is it grating and I cringe every time I hear her greet visitors, but I’m also embarrassed that she is the first person people see when they come to our office. Our owner is an eminent figure in our industry and I’m imagining how she comes off to people who visit the office to see the owner. :(

      2. Amanda

        “Overly sensitive” has got to be one of my least favorite phrases in the world. It doesn’t seem like you’re using it to be dismissive, but that is the only context in which it’s ever been used for me to basically dismiss my legitimate feelings or concerns.

        All of this receptionist’s behavior sounds both irritating and unprofessional. I’m insure why their styles not meshing means Clever Name is overly sensitive.

  66. Beebs

    So glad to be an AAM reader for days like today. I work for a non-profit, and we have just been “strongly encouraged” to donate money to a fundraising challenge for our org. ICK. Adding to the pressure is that for every dollar donated we are entered into a draw for a cash grand prize (multiple organizations are raising money through this challenge). Senior management is extremely well compensated, the rest of us not so much. We also have problems with getting our expenses reimbursed in a timely fashion (anywhere from 6 weeks to 4 months). I do not work to earn a salary to support the organization, I work to support myself, not my fault the fund developer is not successful. /rant

    1. Joey

      I can’t really grasp the concept of donating money back to your employer. It sort of feels too much like a pay reduction and not a donation.

    2. Yoshi

      My old non-profit job did this once. I HATED every second of it. I refused to donate, mostly because I was already unhappy with my pay and role within the organization, and having them asking for me to donate money was adding insult to injury. I just kept quiet while people were talking about it, and to their credit, they never bothered me on an individual basis.

    3. MsM

      Oh, ick. If you can afford to offer a cash prize, put that toward the initiative instead and leave everyone else alone. Or at least make it a “getting” campaign and see which non-development employee can encourage the most people outside the org to participate.

  67. How to be a good partner

    So, here’s the deal – my spouse has worked for the same company for over a decade, where he’s risen from Entry-Level Teapot Coordinator to Vice-President of Teapots. He is at the ceiling for his position within his company, which is relatively small. Also, the company has taken some hits recently, and he lost a lot of what he previously enjoyed about the VP position – travel has been severely curtailed, they’ve reduced their Teapot offerings, his department size was cut in half last year, etc. His position is as secure as any at-will employment position can be, and he’s not worried about being laid off or anything like that. Also, given the drastic reduction in the company’s offerings, he’s had a lot more time to work on personal projects outside of work that are really important to him, which has been a good bonus.

    Now he’s being recruited heavily for a Head of Teapots Division-type job at a new company, where he’d basically be launching a new department from scratch, and a lot of the old “perks” of his job would be back in his life if he gets/takes the position – much bigger team to manage, more/better work, more business travel, etc. He’d also make a lot more money. Which all sounds great, except that his commute would more than double and his hours would get longer (although that’s arguably a fair trade-off for the increased salary), which would mean he wouldn’t have time to pursue his personal projects anymore.

    He keeps asking me what I think, and I am trying to stick to “do whatever makes you happy,” but honestly? I don’t really want him to take the new position. As much as he claims to have loved it when his current job was more high-powered, it kind of turned him into an a$$hole, and I didn’t particularly like being married to that version of him. It also made it impossible for him to pursue any of his personal projects, and I think he’s a better and happier person when he’s working on those projects than he is when he’s not.

    I feel like a jerk for even thinking any of this, though – like, what kind of partner discourages their spouse from taking a “dream job” (his words) because I don’t like it when he works a lot? Never mind the fact that the increased salary would vastly improve our financial state (like, it’ll make the difference between whether or not we can afford to have a child, which we – and especially he – really want), and I’ll certainly benefit from that as much as he will. Am I crazy for thinking this way? And, perhaps more importantly, do I say anything to him about what I’m thinking/feeling, or do I suck it up and let him make this decision without my input?

    1. Cristina in England

      You should tell him what you’ve said here, although in a more gentle way. If you didn’t like the version of him from when he had the high-powered job, you could word it like “you seemed unhappy when you did X” or “I think you seem to be happier when you have time for your personal projects” or something like that. I know you said that the higher pay would make it affordable to have children, but would you want to raise them with the asshat version of your spouse? There may be other alternatives financially (downsizing, cutting expenses, a different higher paying job) but there’s maybe less flexibility with the version of your spouse you will get!

    2. hildi

      I don’t think you’re crazy for feeling what you’re feeling at all. It sounds like things are pretty good for you guys right now and facing any change is hard enough, but the par that caught my attention was when you said that he was really different in his other high powered job and this new position would be similar. I’d be apprehensive about that too!!

      I don’t really had any good advice, but one question that occurred to me when I was reading this is: How does e feel about it? Is he clearly excited and totally ready for it? Or do you think he’s hesitating, too? I only ask that because you said, “He keeps asking me what I think..” Maybe he’s equally on the fence and is genuinely trying to gauge your reaction? If it was me (without knowing the full context, of course), I would be straight up honest with him. A job really does affect both people in a partnership and if you have reservations about how that would affect him your quality of life, I think you owe it to both of you to be honest.

      The again, I’m the type of person that would happily forgo $$ in favor of quality of life. To me, there is no comparison.
      I’m also a big fan of trusting your gut. A few years ago y husband was interested in applying for position with decidedly more $$ and upward movement than his current position. But the potential job was political in nature and may not be around when the current governor left office. We both just felt in our guts that it wasn’t the right move. So he stayed in place and just this week was offered a position that is a significant increase in pay, a big development professionally, but much more secure and in line with his skills. In other words, it’s a great move for him. If he had pursued the other job, I don’t think this one right now would have come about. So…..your reservations are trying to tell you something.

      1. Cristina in England

        Yes, exactly, maybe he wants you to tell him not to take it, to confirm his intuition. Well said, Hildi!

    3. Yoshi

      Could you get him to sit down with you and make a pro-con list for both staying in the current more flexible job and moving to the high power/dream job? That way you two can bring up potential pros and cons together, and you’ll have an opportunity to discuss some of your concerns in a constructive manner, instead of just kind of blurting it out.

    4. Palmer Eldritch and Timothy Archer walk into a bar

      I seem to be having problems submitting replies to AAM today – I hope this gets through.

      Two things: 1. You have every right to weigh in on this – it goes along with being married IMO. Does your husband know about the aspects of the new job that worry you? (The bit about turning into an a-hole is especially troubling). A high-paying job is great for you as a couple – but not if it splits you up.

      2. I gather you’re a young-ish couple. There is something to be said for making hay while the sun shines. I don’t know your husband’s profession, but can he expect these kinds of opportunities when he is older? And – how much of this new job might ride on him being young and full of energy and willing to work long hours? Along with having children, you should both try to consider long-term career path. Would suffering this job now make life considerably better 10+ years from now?

      All that said: again, yes you should tell him your concerns. And – maybe your husband needs a new job, but not *this* new job? Maybe he should turn this one down but continue looking?

      It sounds like a tough situation, but I’d focus on one thing: what will this new job do to your marriage?

    5. Not So NewReader

      Please weigh in on this one. Let him know the things you have said here, toned down, of course.

      Ex: “When your department was bigger at this job, you were so stressed out that you were not YOU anymore.”

      Don’t let this slide by you, your future could be radically different if you do not speak up.

  68. SJPufendork

    Alright, chiming in with my first Open Thread Question, in a hope someone can help me see a path!

    I’ve got one of those situations with a person I manage where I’m not sure what to say/do. Essentially, my employee (Jane) works in an office and sits directly next to the EA (Mary) for the COO (we’re in IT) in a remote office (remote from me and my boss the CIO, that is). There are only 3 offices in that location and all are occupied.

    As they sit next to each other, they’re very friendly and ask each other questions all of the time. However, the issue that arises is that Mary will ask Jane casual questions and then report the “negative” answer back to her boss (who has a lot of tension with mine), which then creates mayhem and drama. This has been going on for a little while, but the last incident involved the question like “Did you hear Mike broke their laptop? Was it backed up via ?” and Jane will answer, “Oh, no it wasn’t backed up via ” While this is technically true, there is usually reason for that being true which Jane is not privy to (in this case, we were using an alternate backup method for reasons).

    However, Mary goes and reports that “IT isn’t backing up computers!” As you can imagine COO reacts, goes to my boss (the CIO) and the CEO of the company , and there is much mayhem and drama. Since this one was such a big deal in terms of chaos, my boss came to me and asked, “Why did Jane say we weren’t backing up computers?…We need to think about replacing her, since she can’t keep her mouth shut.”

    On the other hand, Jane does good work and I’d like to keep her. Likewise, I can see Jane answering the question in a very literal way and Mary running with it (since Mary is clearly aware of the tension between the two departments….as I’ve been on the receiving end of other incidences like this). So in my view, Jane is being set up to some extent. In this case, I’ve got my boss to back down, but if there’s another incident (especially if it involves the COO, my boss, and the CEO again), I’m not sure I’ll be able to save Jane.

    So how do I address it? I don’t want to tell Jane to stop talking with Mary – that’s ludicrous. I’ve told Jane previously that she needs to be careful in what she reports to Mary; however, in that case, it backfired as Jane apparently told Mary what I said because Jane didn’t want Mary to be mad at her (cue another go around of tension). I’m not sure what to do, as we’ve clearly got management issues all over the place, but the only person I’ve got any ability to effect is Jane. What do you think?

    1. Sadsack

      Does Jane know about the latest incident? If not, it may help her understand exactly how she needs to handle conversations with Mary. That said, the fact that she told Mary what you said about being careful talking to her make Jane sound either kind of dumb or like she is into the drama herself.

      1. SJPufendork

        We haven’t spoken about the incident yet (it happened in the last two days), as I wanted to figure out a reasonable approach…

        I suspect Jane is just open and awkward, based on my interactions with her. Her openness (read: inability to keep a secret) is one of the reasons why she’s not in the know about certain decisions….and as I type this, I realize that this issue (not being mindful of her words and what she shares) is broader than the immediate issue. Hmmm……

      2. A Definite Beta Guy

        That said, the fact that she told Mary what you said about being careful talking to her make Jane sound either kind of dumb or like she is into the drama herself.

        She might just be oblivious, and does not understand a comment like that might cause tension. “You misreported something I said, it caused drama, and this reflected badly on me.” Why would anyone take that negatively? I’ll just say that’s what happened.

        1. Sadsack

          I guess “kind of dumb” was mean of me, oblivious is the better way of putting it.

    2. LizB

      If Jane won’t be careful in what she reports to Mary, maybe she’d be able to be careful how she reports it? Some people tend to see things in the worst possible light and blow problems out of proportion, either because they’e drama llamas or because they’re just cynical. When you’re talking to those kinds of people, you need to be 100% sweetness and light and everything-will-work-out-for-the-best — and if you can’t spin your answer in that direction, you need to be vague. So:

      Mary: Mike broke his laptop, was it backed up via?
      Jane: We always back up either through via or [other method], so either way Mike won’t have a problem!
      (or)
      Mary: Mike broke his laptop, was it backed up via?
      Jane: Oh, Mike’s going to be just fine! We’ve got it covered.

      I find it really weird that Jane told Mary you had asked her to be careful around her, though — it suggests to me that she’s more worried about preserving her relationship with this one drama llama coworker rather than saving her department from unnecessary tension. I’m not sure she’ll have the willingness or the diplomatic skills to pull off the kind of spin that Mary’s drama-mongering requires. It might be worth a try, though.

      1. SJPufendork

        I think she is really concerned about preserving the relationship. Mary is senior is age and experience and can be a little insistent, based on my dealings (example: demanding a laptop from another one of my report for a new alleged hire in the Operations team before we’d be notified of it properly). And since Jane is remote from the rest of our group, it would make sense that her closest real work relationship is with one of the two folks she sees everyday.

        As I mentioned, we’ve got more issues across the board (see drama llama-ing all around), but I only have direct influence over one of the actors, so to speak.

    3. fposte

      So there’s no option just to move the desks apart? Or to loop the COO in to say this info pipeline means she’s getting stuff that doesn’t need to be on her radar looming with inappropriate size?

      Absent those, your option is, I think, to be crystal clear with Jane about how serious this is and that her job is hanging in the balance.

      1. SJPufendork

        Ideally I’d love to move the desks apart, but it is a small 3 person remote office far from HQ (where I’m located).

        I think I’m just going to have to buckle down and explain how very serious this is. I hate having do this (especially since I do believe Jane is somewhat stuck in the middle — her only “work friend” is using Jane’s words to prove a point in some way). It’s doesn’t feel “fair” to me, since I know it takes two folks to tango (so to speak) and my person is the one who’s going to come out poorly in the end.

        Management issues all around, indeed.

        1. fposte

          It may not be fair, but it’s more fair than terminating her without giving her a full understanding of what’s desired.

          1. A Definite Beta Guy

            Life ain’t fair, particularly when you have a power-politicking Mary in your office. Sounds like an Eat or Be Eaten situation, TBH.

    4. Cristina in England

      I am confused. Can’t you tell your boss that Mary is the problem? You could use one of the patented AAM methods of asking your boss for advice about it, or just go to your boss and say that you feel awkward about it because Mary is not your direct report but she is causing a lot of problems with Jane.

      1. Not So NewReader

        I don’t think it is reasonable to make Jane micromanage her word choice because Mary fails to collect up all the facts annnd she chooses to use partial facts to cause upset and upheaval.

        I think that you should start documenting instances of Mary’s failure to collect up all the facts before proceeding to the boss.

        The real problem is Mary. She is a closet saboteur. She seems to enjoy the upset and the confusion that she causes. If it was happening to me, I would go to my boss and explain what happened. Mary failed to collect up all the facts and, instead, reported the incomplete knowledge to her boss, which in turn caused a lot of confusion and chaos.

        Since you know that Jane tells Mary things, then use that to work for you. Let Jane know that Mary did not report the story correctly to her boss and you have let your boss know that Mary did not get her facts straight. You can let your boss know that you have been watching this sabotaging behavior going on for a while and you are going to start keeping a written record of it. You might or might not let Jane know you are documenting.

        Your employee did nothing wrong, she was simply having a conversation with Mary. Let her know that you understand this. And you also understand that the whole uproar was unnecessary and totally preventable.

        See, part of this approach is subtle. You are not directly saying to Jane, “hey, Mary screws up everything you say”, but you are showing this one example at a time. In a bit, Jane will figure out how to talk with Mary so Mary has less ammo, or Jane will figure out Mary is not the nice person Jane thinks she is.

  69. MayDay

    I’ve been trying to find past posts on AAM (I thought there were some) and found one, but could use a little more help (or links)!

    Last year I talked to a recruiter at a competitor company, really nice, via LinkedIn when he added me. Got brought in for two interviews for two different jobs, and ended up as the 2nd choice.

    My question is, if there are new jobs popping up this year on the website, would it be too pushy to contact the recruiter directly through email or LinkedIn? I could swear I saw posts on AAM about this, but I can’t find them. I think possibly one turnoff of mine was being out of state, but it wouldn’t be a problem interviewing wise since I have many days off. Or should I just fill out the application(s) on the job page and not risk being pushy?

    Sorry for the (probably) common question, but advice or links would be very welcome!

      1. MayDay

        Thank you! That was super quick, and super helpful.

        Thanks – could’ve sworn I read something similar on your site before but my searching skills must be poor this week!

  70. Spooky

    Question about including something on LinkedIn/resume:

    I’m a writer, and I have recently been accepted into a writing conference this summer run by a major Ivy League school. Ordinarily, it would never even occur to me to put a conference on a resume as anyone can go to a conference, but this one is competitive – you submit a writing sample, your name, and email, and are either accepted or denied based solely on the strength of that sample. Since the school is a major name, I think it might look good to mention on a resume or at least LinkedIn, but I’m not sure it warrants it. Thoughts?

    1. Ally

      I would definitely put it on LinkedIn, probably not on a resume though. Congratulations!

    2. PurpleMonkeyDishwasher

      I could see it fitting on a resume under “other professional experience” or something, perhaps worded as “one of X writers selected to participate in FancySchool Writing Conference, 2015” or similar.

  71. Employee

    How can I get a job with the Federal Government? It seems like the USAJobs route is an impossible bureaucratic route to take to get a job with them.

    1. Ad Astra

      Well, yeah. It’s the federal government. Bureaucratic routes are pretty much the only routes they have.

    2. Dawn

      Alternatively, get a job at a Federal contractor, use that to get closer to Federal circles, then get in that way.

    3. LiptonTeaForMe

      USAJObs is the only way unless you go in as a contractor, but keep in mind there isn’t much of a hiring budget for many government entities. And once you get here, you are at the beck and call of Congress…

    4. Cobalt-60

      USAJobs is your best bet. You may feel like you’re applying and applying and applying, but keep at it. Even jobs that seem identical may report to different people and have different needs. Make sure you tailor your resumes closely to the postings.

      Very rarely, a job can be posted with “direct hire” authority, so that the position gets filled in a more traditional way (networking, recruiting, industry job boards) and does not have to consider the traditional veteran’s preferences and such. If you’re in a very niche field, watch your niche job boards and there may possibly be a direct hire solicitation there.

  72. Nan

    A PSA: This is not the way for a rejected candidate to ask for feedback (from an email I received this week from a candidate who had been rejected after a 15-minute phone screening): “Could you please let me know in as much specificity as possible what was seen as desirable and undesirable in my qualifications for this role? If you’d rather do this over the phone, that’s fine with me too.”

    I’m willing to give feedback when I can if it’s short and easy to do, but asking for detailed coaching with no acknowledgement that you’re asking for quite a favor isn’t reasonable.

  73. NicoleK

    I’m a program manager at a smallish (approx. 30 employees) non profit. New colleague started a week ago. Her role is program evaluator and research. Her educational background is process improvement and optimization. We both report to the ED. New colleague does not have any experience with small community based organizations and no experience in health care access and population health. New colleague is very motivated and eager to jump in. She’s made several suggestions so far in her first week. One of the suggestions, none of the other managers believe that it will work but she continued to push for it. The other suggestion, I know it would not work based on my knowledge and experience in the field. Though I’ve given her an overview of my programs, I’m not responsible for her overall training. I should also mention that there is some bias on my end. We have totally different personalities and work style and I’m trying to find ways to work with her. I also had concerns about her being a good fit during the interview. I’m open to entertaining ideas from her. My question is how should I respond if she suggests ideas that clearly won’t work? Do I tell her point blank that it’s not going to work because of x, y, and z? Do I suggest that she run her ideas by the ED? I’m trying to remember that she’s new and everything is new to her. I’m hoping that everyone here can help me tips.

    1. fposte

      How big are these ideas? “I’m skeptical, but I’m willing to consider it–however, I won’t have time to think about a change like that until [month]. If you could write up a proposal in the meantime that addresses Objection 1 and Objection 2, that would help my consideration.”

      Obviously, if this is “let’s buy some pencils!” it’s overkill.

    2. catsAreCool

      As an idea person myself (but I tend to write down my ideas and wait for it to be a good time), I prefer knowing why an idea won’t work – it helps me come up with a better idea next time.

  74. Dave#

    I accepted the new job! Gave my notice! Massive pay increase! Hooray! Yet I’m still all “oh god what have I done? Is this the right thing? Did I just make a huge mistake?” Oh boy.

  75. Well

    I’m about to take over managing a team of four of my former colleagues. Any advice on managing this transition gracefully? I’ve managed people in the past, but haven’t ever gone from being someone’s colleague to being their supervisor.

    1. Bee Eye LL

      I did the same thing recently. Left an employer and then came back a couple years later as a supervisor over my old group.

      My best advice is to firmly establish your new role so people won’t walk over you. I don’t mean turn into a drill sergeant but hopefully they will understand your new position. Also make sure not to fall back into your old role and know that you’re the person they need to come to. Be careful with favoritism as well because you might have had some office buddies that you now have to supervise. It’ll be a little weird at first, but you’ll get the hang of it.

      1. Well

        Thanks, great points. Any tactics you used to ‘firmly establish’ that worked well?

        1. Bee Eye LL

          If there’s an issue you always wanted to fix while you were there, use your newfound authority to do so. Pick something minor or institute some kind of minor change. Most new managers do this anyway to put their own brand on things. I am a help desk manager so I worked to get a bunch of our software upgraded to give us new features, etc. New toys, basically.

    2. ThatOneRedhead

      Acknowledge the awkwardness in your first one on ones. Then set clear expectations for what you expect of them and what they can expect from you. For example, I told my direct reports that they would hear any negative feedback (either from me or that I’d heard) within a week of me hearing it, they can ask anything and I’ll tell them the truth (or at least that I can’t tell them), and that I will be an honest advocate for them with others.

  76. Vanishing Girl

    Hi everyone, a quick question before I read the others:

    I have started losing confidence at work and have blushed in a couple of my last meetings when called upon, which leads to me losing my train of thought and not speaking well. I used to blush easily when I was a teenager, but it stopped. It’s like I’ve regressed to those days. What can I do to control this?

    1. louise

      No advice, but I was really intrigued by the last act on this week’s This American Life about several people with that same struggle. Maybe you would be encouraged by their journeys.

    2. Well

      I’d suggest thinking about the root causes. *Why* have you started losing confidence at work?

      1. Vanishing Girl

        I’m not entirely sure.

        I’m in a job where I don’t have enough to do and it is all the same thing: no variety. (I was promoted/transferred into this job from the previous position I’d applied for. ) Almost every idea I’ve had to take on a stretch project or help the dept. out has been pushed aside, and my manager never suggests any. My position is getting a new manager sometime in the future, and everything relating to the thing I do seems to be tabled until the new person gets here. But we don’t know when that will be. It’s already been pushed back once.

        I really want to expand my role and do more research, planning and things beyond what I am doing and feel adrift here. (I also know I have the capability and training to do so, but can’t get any stretch projects.) I don’t think my manager wants to deal with me because they are already overwhelmed with managing so many extra people right now. I feel unwanted and useless, and for some reason I get very anxious going to this meeting ( which is just my manager and other people on my team). I’ll be asked to report on something we’re doing, and everyone stares at me, or it feels like that. I start talking, and blush, and then my sentence crumbles and I blush more.

        Sorry, this was long. I think fposte has a good idea too: it’s discombobulating me and makes me blush more. Just the idea of going to that meeting and knowing I may blush there makes me anxious. I don’t want it to become a thing every time.

    3. fposte

      Is it possible that it’s going in the other direction, too–that blushing is making you feel destabilized?

      I don’t think other people pay that much attention to blushing, but you could see if taking a sip of water helps focus your system elsewhere for a key moment. Overall, though, I would try more to not mind it than to control it.

      1. Vanishing Girl

        Good point! That is very likely. I’ve never felt very comfortable in this particular regular meeting: no one ever seems interested in what I have to say or ideas I put forth. I usually stay quiet for that reason.

        I know this week, I was worried that I would blush again and then it did. I don’t know that it will happen again next week, but I’m also scared that it will continue.

    4. Lady Bug

      I always blush when I have to present something. At this point I know it’s going to happen and just own it. I’ve been told that I come off very confidently, and I’m not nervous or anything, so I just started to ignore it. I know it will be gone in 30 seconds anyway.

      1. Vanishing Girl

        Thanks! I am going to remind myself of this next time it happens: most likely, this week’s meeting. Hopefully, the third time will break the curse. :)

  77. Bad proof reader

    I’m an event planner and my department was restructured so that I’m now in charge of proofreading invitations, place settings, and the like. The problem? I’m TERRIBLE at proof-reading! It’s been very lowering to go from something I’m really good at (on the ground logistics, space planning, menu planning), to struggling with something I’m very bad at. Is there any way to become a better proof-reader?

    Thank you in advance, Ask A Manager readers!

    1. ThatOneRedhead

      – Print hard copies and use a blank piece of paper to cover up all but one line at a time.
      – Read everything out loud.

      1. Dasha

        I’m not a great writer/editor either, but the printing thing really works. I have no idea why but that piece of physical paper makes all the difference.

    2. Turanga Leela

      I agree with printing and reading out loud. Also, for some people, it’s easier to catch errors if you read the document backwards—start with the last sentence/line, then work your way back to the top. (That’s harder for me because I’m usually proofreading and editing for substance simultaneously, but it might work for you and could be GREAT for menus and invitations.)

      Also, triple-check the spellings of people’s names.

      1. fposte

        And checking spelling means having both your source and your document visible at the same time; I recommend also saying each letter aloud going backward.

        The thing you really *don’t* want to do is rely on your memory, even to carry the name from a booklet ten feet away and back to your computer.

    3. Judy

      Make checklists for different types of items.

      For invitations, start with
      -What?
      -When?
      -Where?

    4. Ragnelle

      Good advice above, and I second the reading it out loud trick.

      It isn’t specific to your industry (your company may even have their own style manual), but I’d recommend reading Eats, Shoots & Leaves by Lynne Truss. Your local library should have a copy or be able to get one through inter-library loan. It’s a very readable (and entertaining) book that explains not only how to use proper grammar and punctuation, but also why. When proofreading, it helps to know the reason behind the rules because you’ll be making an informed choice. Others may be able to share additional titles they find helpful.

      Also, things like invitations and place settings may be in fonts that are difficult to proofread. Try copying them into another document and changing them to a more readable font for review.

    5. Carrie in Scotland

      I second or third all the advice above and add:

      Never proofread and finalise it in late afternoon/just before you leave if possible. If you’ve been sat reading all day at a screen you might miss certain mistakes. Come back to it fresh in the morning – it’s amazing how much difference you see sometimes.

  78. S

    Does anyone here work on a 9/80 plan? I know it’s more popular in certain sectors, but I’ve never heard of it until this job (I worked in political campaigns before this), and once my first 90 days have passed, I can switch to that schedule if I want to. Just wondering if anyone has really strong feelings about it, because most of my office is on 9/80, and so Fridays are pretty dead around here…

    1. Partly Cloudy

      I used to do it, and I loved it. I worked 9 hours M-Th and 8 hours every other Friday. The week transitioned in the middle of the Friday shift, so half counted toward the previous week and half counted toward the next. Having a built-in 3-day weekend every other week was great, and getting used to working 9 hours vs. 8 on the other days was a snap.

      I have a friend who worked a 9/80 structured as 9 hours M-Th and 4 hours every Friday.

      How does your 9/80 break down?

      1. S

        Everyone sets their own version of the schedule, and the free day can be scheduled any time within your 2-week pay period, but preferably Fridays. My two co-workers stay late, work a regular 8 hours on Friday, and alternate free Fridays so that we’re not left with a day where it’s literally just me and our ED. If I were to join the schedule, I would like to negotiate coming half an hour early and leaving half an hour late.

        One of my concerns is that I am a program assistant, but also an executive assistant in many respects, so it would have to be a conversation to have with our ED about whether this role would even allow for a schedule like that. I don’t anticipate that it’ll be a problem because she’s often out on Fridays too, especially in the summer when the kids are out of school, but who knows?

    2. ThursdaysGeek

      I liked working 9 hour days and getting every other Friday off. You can schedule appointments, go to businesses that are only open on weekdays, and get 3 day weekends every other week. And 1 more hour a day isn’t that much, really. If you can handle the extra 1 hour of work each day (and I recommend 1/2 hour lunches so your day isn’t too long), then it has a lot of advantages.

      1. S

        Everyone who’s tried this plan seems to enjoy it, and I’m a traveler–I love weekend trips and getaways, and having a 9/80 schedule would make that so much easier. I could fly a Thursday night red-eye! Or an early Friday morning flight! But I’m also not a morning person at all, and getting up an extra 30 mins early to make it in at 8 seems like So Much.

        (Also, I’m non-exempt, so 30 mins unpaid lunch is part of my schedule, but our ED is incredible and has made it clear to me that I’m not expected to be back at work after 30 mins, no matter what my time sheet may say).

    3. Dasha

      At Old Company I did this. I was really tired the first month or two before I got used to it but it was so nice to get all my appointments done on Fridays and not have to take personal time. So, so nice.

    4. Headachey

      I don’t work this schedule, but would if I could. My mother worked a 9/80 schedule when I was in elementary school, and I really loved getting to eat breakfast and walk to school with her instead of going to daycare before school.

    5. MaryMary

      One department I used to work in had a similar schedule in the summer. We’d alternate one week with a regular 5 day/eight hour schedule, and one week 9 hours M-Th and a half day on Friday. A couple of our teams were really small, but we could still work it out coverage if people alternated weeks. It was very popular!

    6. SaltWater

      You might want to check and see how company holidays are handled with the 9/80 schedule. At old job most of my department worked 9/80s and were salaried. We routinely worked more hours than whatever the schedule was for that day (9.25 hours or something like that). There were no issues with holidays. When the company was purchased by Hidebound Corporation, holidays became a hot issue for that schedule. There were debates about whether we had to make up the 1.25 hours during that week, during the pay period, or if we had to work 10/80s for that pay period. I don’t recall how it was resolved, but I know those who are still there are resentful about it.

      1. S

        Company holidays are still paid if it falls on a 9/80 free day and you can move your 9/80day to another day within the same pay period. But I will definitely be double-checking with HR and payroll before switching over!

    7. AnonAnalyst

      This was something my old employer allowed, and I loved it. I think about a third of our office was on it, and I was always surprised more people didn’t take advantage of it. Mine was structured so that I worked 9 hours every work day, and then I had every other Friday off. I also did what ThursdaysGeek suggested and typically took a 30 minute lunch, so my actual work day didn’t really seem to get that much longer and it wasn’t difficult to adjust.

      The nature of your role might make this more of a challenge, but if you’re interested in trying it out, I would definitely recommend it! It can’t hurt to have a conversation with your boss to see if it’s an option for you.

      1. S

        Oh yeah, I definitely want to have a conversation with her about it, probably during my 90-day review (I’m still in the probationary period). She tends to be out on Fridays as well, whether for business or not, but maybe that would be a reason why she would definitely want me in on Fridays too.

    8. edj3

      A couple of jobs ago, I was on a 9/80 schedule. I didn’t get that Friday off for over six months, and then only sporadically after that. Most of us called it a 10/100 plan. Obviously YMMV.

  79. A Minion

    I work at a nonprofit with a lot of government funding, so we run multiple federal grants. This results in a need to allocate shared costs among the different programs. We have financial software that does most of this allocation for us at the end of the month when I’m running my financial reports. When the software is working, there is a little green wheel that goes around and around – you guys have probably seen a similar wheel when your computer is “thinking”. I’m not sure if the little wheel has anything to do with it, but when I was being trained, my predecessor repeatedly referred to the system working as “it’s doing it’s spinning”. She would also say things like, “When the system spins down the expenses”, which led to much confusion because I thought she was saying “spends down” and couldn’t figure out how the computer system was “spending” expenses, which didn’t make any sense to me. She’s gotten others using that terminology now, so we’re all talking about how the “spinning” shakes out each month.

  80. Amy

    Question for feds (or anyone, I guess). How do I list a federal job through a contracting company?

    I just started work at Federal Teapot Administration (temporary) but I’m actually employed by Teapot Systems, which has a contract with FTA. Obviously, FTA is a much more prestigious thing to put on the resume, so would it be disingenuous to list it as “Federal Teapot Administration, Spout Inspector” or do I need something more like “Federal Teapot Administration (contracted through Teapot Systems), Spout Inspector.”

    For context, most of FTA’s employees are employed through contracts.

    1. Amy

      Also, I feel I should clarify that I am not “a temp,” so to speak, but rather that the position was designed to be temporary.

    2. HeyNonnyNonny

      What I do:
      Spout Designer for the Federal Teapot Administration, through Teapot Systems

      I definitely keep the Federal agency forefront, since you’re doing the work for them.

    3. Mockingjay

      Teapot Systems Inc., September 2007 – Present

      Spout Inspector for the Large Teapot program, under contract to Big Government Agency.
      or
      Spout Inspector for the Large Teapot program, in support of Big Government Agency.

  81. PregnantEngineer

    I am about 9 weeks pregnant, and finding that some of the associated symptoms (lack of energy and nausea) are taking a toll on my ability to work at my usual level. My boss and his boss know about the baby and are supportive, but I’m not planning to tell the rest of the team for another 3-4 weeks. So, in the meantime:
    – How do I keep this under wraps without looking like a slacker?
    – Should I tell my direct reports before the rest of the department?
    – Any advice on how to get some more energy? Losing caffeine has been awful!

    1. Dasha

      One of my old co-workers used to take a nap under her desk at lunch during her pregnancy. I know it sounds strange but she said it really helped.

    2. J.B.

      Congratulations!

      You don’t have to completely lose caffeine, you know. I know some women get sick from coffee but if you can drink it 2 cups a day (or in my case a mix of caff and decaf) can help you survive. Lemon drops too. Oh, and 10-20 minutes lying down in the afternoon can help with getting through the day.

      Don’t worry about keeping people in the dark. Some may guess, but only an idiot would ask you outright. When you are ready to tell, probably do tell direct reports first.

    3. Ragnelle

      I don’t really have any advice about this, just sympathy. It was amazing to me that everybody I worked with hadn’t guessed by 10 weeks. For me, going to bed as early as humanly possible and sleeping away my weekends kind of helped. I also tend to wear pretty heavy eye makeup, which helped to cover up just how tired I looked. Also, depending on your OB’s instructions, you might be able to have a bit of caffeine (mine told me I could have 1 cup of coffee or 1 glass of tea every day, but no more). Also, try eating a banana–they can do wonders for energy levels.

      Three weeks isn’t that long, and hopefully you work with people who, if they guess what’s up, are smart and kind enough not to say anything to you about it. It’s a particularly cruel bit of biology that our bodies seemed determined to let others know before we’re ready. Congratulations, and I hope all goes well for you!

    4. E

      Same boat here, I’m about 9 weeks and the exhaustion and brain deadness is the worst of it currently. I told my boss and the person I work with most closely, but am holding off on anyone else at work for a few weeks more. I’ve been able to get more sleep at night by going to bed early, which seems to help. If that’s not an option for you, talk to your boss about taking a short break to rest or walk around.

    5. Still-secret pregnant lady (i.e. anon for this)

      I’m 11 weeks today and omg YES the tiredness. The advice where I live okays 2-3 cups of tea or 1-2 cups of coffee per day, which is way more than I drink normally so I have really enjoyed indulging in a nice cup of tea on afternoons when I really need it.

      You could try aromatherapy, if there are smells that won’t make you feel sick? Peppermint, maybe?

      You could tell people you’re on a new allergy med and you think is making you tired and nauseous, if you felt you needed to say something, otherwise, people are often more oblivious than you’d think.

      Let’s hope the first trimester side effects fade quickly for all of us! I am SO over being pregnant (this is my second). I would just like to have the damn baby already and I’m not even a third of the way through.

  82. Bee Eye LL

    Last year for Christmas, I splurged a little about bought the entire office $10 gift cards to a local eatery that I know everyone has been to. This was for a dozen people so yeah I spent $120 of my own cash.

    Would you believe that of the 12, four of them didn’t even acknowledge the card? For all I know, it was stolen off their desk. I didn’t give the gift with the expectation of getting a gift back – in fact I gave it on the last day before Christmas holidays, but you’d think a simple “thanks” or something would have been due.

    1. ThursdaysGeek

      Are you a boss or a co-worker to these people? If you’re a boss, they may have thought the company paid. If you’re a co-worker, you may have made them feel awkward, as they didn’t get (weren’t able to get, didn’t want to get) you something back. Gifts are nice, but they can make things weird too.

      1. Bee Eye LL

        Boss to some and co-workers to others. It’s the last time I’m going to do it, though. I get what you’re saying.

        1. ThursdaysGeek

          It’s nice, however. Maybe do it sometime when it’s not near a gift-giving holiday. If you were my boss or co-worker, it’s something that would please me and I would let you know that. Still, there are some people who won’t thank you, because that is just human nature.

          That’s not to say that receiving a gift doesn’t require acknowledgment and thank yous, but when you give a gift, it shouldn’t be given in the expectation that you’ll get something in return, including thanks.

          And as for Demanding Excellence’s claim about thank you’s not being as much of a thing anymore, there’s a parable in the Bible about 10 people who were healed and only one who bothered to say thanks. In other words, lack of gratitude is nothing new.

    2. Demanding Excellence

      I’ve noticed in general (workplace included), people don’t really say “thanks” anymore, which is so sad to me because my parents taught me to send thank you notes, or at least call and thank the person for the gift. Some recent examples I’ve encounted:

      – I gave my friend a couple of outfits for her baby that’s due in a few months. I got a half-hearted “cute” but not a thank you – verbal, card, or otherwise.
      – I brought in snacks for our team a few weeks ago. Some people ate them, some people looked at me like I was Satan, but no one said thanks.
      – I went to a kid’s birthday party recently and the kid would say things like, “I don’t like this” or just toss the toy in the pile. The parents would nudge them to say ‘thank you’ but the kid never did (not that I heard anyway). And forget a thank you note.
      -This Christmas, my boss bought small gifts (with her own money) for everyone on our team. I wrote her a thank you note, and was the only one to really tell her thanks. She told me that the thank you meant so much to her, because others barely acknowledged. She even displayed it in her cube.

      Sorry – this stuff really grinds my gears. Is it really that difficult to say ‘thank you’ or (gasp) send a thank you note? Really?

      1. Cristina in England

        Agreed, thank yous are like gold, I’m very happy to get one and very quick to give them. I’m coming to this late in life actually, as I was never made to send thank you cards growing up, but I am a nut about them now.

      2. Jessie's Girl

        I started buying breakfast items for the office every Friday a few weeks ago. No one has thanked me for my efforts but they all complain when they’re not ready by 9:30 a.m.
        I’m not doing it any more.

  83. PJ

    I’ve been telecommuting at my job for almost 5 years. My husband recently accepted a job where he’ll be traveling around the country a lot. Would it be a bad idea for me to tag along with him on some of these trips (I would work from the hotel room in the daytime and explore the area in the evenings)? There would be no additional expenses to either of our employers, since I would pay for my own flights and food. It would sometimes put me a few timezones away from the rest of my co-workers, however, but I don’t think this would be much of a problem 95% of my job is separate from what my co-workers do.

    1. Partly Cloudy

      I’d run it by the powers that be at your job, just because of the time zone thing, but I think it sounds great.

    2. Anon for this

      Oh my gosh yes! I’ve been doing this with my husband for years and it’s fantastic. He telecommutes 100% of the time, and my job offers a lot of flexibility, so we each go to the other’s work conferences. We’ve been to Colorado, New Orleans, Oregon, Texas, Southern California, etc. all for a fraction of the cost of going ourselves. We usually take a few days before/after to get some day-time stuff in, but even if we couldn’t it would still be worth it.

      Do let your boss know you’re going, and expect to be available during your home timezone (which may mean sticking to the computer at inconvenient hours) but it sounds like that won’t be the case for you. Good luck!

    3. Elizabeth West

      Ask about it. If you need to coordinate with your coworkers regularly, they might hedge on it. But if you’re good at staying on top of things or can work the hours where you’re online when they are for at least part of the day, then it could totally work.

      I did this when I went to London recently, which is a six-hour time difference. It made for some long days, because I had to be online in the evenings after doing research and running around all day, but I got all my month-end stuff done and it worked out very well. I was even able to take a few days completely off during that time because I managed to keep up. The worst part was hauling an extra computer–I couldn’t do work on my personal PC and couldn’t do personal stuff on the work PC.

  84. Anne S

    I’m in a field where it’s fairly common to get recruiters contacting you via LinkedIn, and since I’m not job hunting, I usually reply with a polite brush-off. Today’s, though, really takes the cake. Almost every member of my department (we compared notes) was contacted by a in-house recruiter for our closest competitor. And, rather than doing it through LinkedIn and our personal email addresses, they did it by guessing our corporate emails!

    Granted, I happen to know that our IT folks are too busy to monitor email, but: recruiters, this is not the kind of first impression that makes me think you’d handle a job hunt professionally.

    1. Judy

      I’d bet that someone gave them an employee contact list. Everywhere I’ve worked, those lists were clearly company confidential because of this reason.

    2. Dasha

      I once had a recruiter call me at work through our company’s line, after I had only been at that job for 2 months. I was like, “Uh, sorry I just started here so I’m really not looking to move.” I don’t know what they are thinking sometimes!

      1. Demanding Excellence

        That happened to me at my old job. I had been on the job a few months and a recruiter contacted through my company’s email and would call my work number constantly, to the point it was harrassment. I just ignored them.

    3. AnonAnalyst

      This has happened to me too (from multiple recruiters no less!). I’ve also had recruiters call me at work — on my work line, not on my cell phone — which to me is totally obnoxious and unprofessional. Seriously, even if I were interested, I work in an open-plan office. There’s pretty much no way for me to take that call without it becoming really awkward for me, which does not endear you to me.

      Just use LinkedIn. I am easy to find on LinkedIn, seriously! There is no excuse (aside from not wanting to pay LinkedIn subscription fees, which frankly really isn’t my problem) to contact me at my current job.

    4. Rehabbing Recruiter

      Yowza. This can be pretty common in recruiting, as I was explicitly instructed to do stuff like this in my previous life as a recruiter. The reasoning from our bosses were that we are fishing in the same pond, so the most ‘creative’ tactic will yield the fish.

      The best experience I lived through was CALLING into the person’s place of work, stating that you are a Teapot Consulting firm to get through the gate keeper, intro yourself as a fellow Teapot maker needing help to fill my Teapot Consulting opening, closing with ‘Would you be able to refer me to someone who you feel would be a good fit, perhaps someone like yourself?’

      There are not enough showers in the world to get rid of that kind of ickiness. Needless to say, that world is behind me now.

      1. anonintheuk

        I was once called by a recruiter who got through to my extension by claiming to be my sister. This was rather a surprise to me, since as far as I know I don’t have any sisters.

  85. not for this

    I’m starting to look for a new job. I have a great relationship with my current boss. We were chatting about interviewing generally a couple of days ago and I mentioned that though I’ve conducted plenty of interviews at this point in my career, I’ve never actually been interviewed (I’m 25 and I was referred to and there was no real sit down interview process involved). I said that it’s going to be really nerve wracking to be on the other side of the table, so to speak.

    She paused, and did a, “you’re not leaving us, are you? Just let me know if you’re looking — you can tell me.” I’m a manager and she’s a director, and I know it’s not recommended to let your boss know you’re looking for another job, but given our close relationship, should I take her comment at face value and let her know that I’m looking? I’ve been here for 6 years and I honestly don’t even know who I’ll use as a professional reference. She’s offered to be one for me – would it be weird to ask her to be my reference too?

    1. Kara Ayako

      While I may not jump into “yeah, I’m actively looking” with your boss right away, I might start with what you ARE looking to get out of your next position. Have you already had this conversation with her? If you’re looking for a, b, and c in your next role, and this job only offers x, y, and z, then she’ll at least be mentally prepared for you leaving. And best case, she can help you move into a new role that’ll get you a, b, and c. This will help you feel her out on how safe it would be to mention that you’re looking.

      1. not for this

        Thanks! Yeah, I’ve sort of done this before, but to be honest, at this point, I feel like I don’t want to continue on this career path and am willing to try anything but here to figure out where I want to be. I really don’t know how to convey that professionally, and in a way that makes it clear that I appreciate all of her mentoring in my current role.

    2. Well

      With a good relationship and a point-blank question like that, I’d let her know, yeah. Kara’s framing below is good. Make it less about your current job (which she may take personally) and more about how you’re looking to grow.

      On using her as your reference: you *really* want to be able to use her as a reference. You’re 25 and you’ve worked there 6 years, so I’m assuming she’s one of your only managers. I’d definitely broach this with her (once you’ve brought her along mentally to the point where she’s OK with you looking).

      1. not for this

        Thanks. Do you think, since she’s already mentioned that she would be a reference, I should wait until I have a fairly solid opportunity to bring it up again?

        My answer to the point blank question, btw, was a jokey, “I’m sure we’ll both be here til we’re 80.” We talk like that often because we’re both fairly veteran to the company, which is only 7 years old.

  86. Admin/New College Student

    I’ve been working as an admin assistant for 8 years and have been trying to find a better job but haven’t had luck. I have a BS in business management but am enrolling for an associate’s degree in a STEM program in the evenings. I have to work full-time while attending and am thinking about taking 6 credits per semester which will take me until Spring 2017 to graduate. If I take 9 credits per semester I’d finish Fall 2016 and bother scenarios include summer classes.

    I’m eager to finish and get a better paying job but don’t want to let school interfere with work to the point of jeopardizing employment due to performance. No kids yet but hopefully there will be in the next few years as I’m 30 now. How have those of you who have successfully worked full-time while taking classes managed? Especially those of you with kids?

    1. Carrie in Scotland

      I work in admin too and I study part time distance for a degree – I’ll be graduating shortly after you (June ’17).

      One thing I find from working in an office is my eyes become tired, therefore sometimes I really do not want to come home and stare some more at a computer. If you can possibly do some less computer intensive activities when you have an assignment due, that goes a long way.

      I find because I’m me and I’m not very good with organising my study time (and also, I’m in the UK which means we get quite good holiday allowances) I try and take a day off the week before a deadline, just so I have some breathing space. Those deadlines sneak up on you faster than you think.

    2. themmases

      I studied in my office. After years of working full time and being out of school, I found that home is no longer my thinking place– my desk at work is. I’d eat lunch at my desk and study there, or if I didn’t need to go straight from work to class I’d shut the door and study in my office until it was time to go. It really helped me feel like school was just taking over two nights a week (or whatever), rather than my whole life, since I rarely did work at home. I think I was more efficient at work too.

      I was taking introductory lab classes and I loved the way my school set them up. One of my classes was one night a week for 5 hours. (Unfortunately it was a Friday– the only drawback.) The other was 2.5 hours twice a week. Both of them were roughly half lecture, half lab, depending on how involved the lab was. A good friend and coworker was also taking STEM coursework at night, but her classes had lecture a couple of nights a week and then the labs for those classes were all day Saturday. I know she was more tired than I was, and although she had to go for longer and ended up taking higher level classes than I did, I think the schedule really wore on her. Just something to think about if you have choices in your schedule.

    3. Persephone Mulberry

      I am picking away at a bachelor’s degree (evenings and weekends), work FT, have a husband who works retail hours, and have two kids (ages 5 and 12 when I started in 2012). I managed 3 classes (12 credits)/semester for 2 years to get the generals out of the way and have scaled it back to 2 classes/semester for my upper level, major coursework. School doesn’t affect my work performance at all, actually – it’s the home life that feels the pressure. My kids are old enough that they understand that Mom can’t [whatever] when she’s doing homework, or that I might have to miss a band concert if it’s scheduled on a night I have class (my daughter had four band concerts this year, so I didn’t feel bad about missing one. If it had been the only one, I would have skipped class instead. Priorities.). And my husband has been really, really amazing about picking up the slack on housework and stuff, especially since he tends to have more daytime hours free due to his job. I could not successfully work, school, parent AND housekeep!

  87. Ghost Pepper

    Has anyone applied to job knowing they weren’t really interested in it?

    I am in a director position and am pretty happy with my manager and the growth my role has taken in the company. I’ve been contacted about a lateral job opening by 2 recruiters and the other company itself. If I were to interview with this place, I’d say there would be a 5-10% chance I’d accept an offer – provided it exceeds my current salary and allows me to work from when I want to (as my current job does). But I just can’t see myself leaving my current role, especially since I’ve been there less than a year. It says as much on my linkedin profile, which is how these folks found me.

    My husband says it might be “good practice.” And “hey, you never know.”

    Anyone ever end up leaving a job they were pretty happy with for something even better?

    1. Treena Kravm

      Is there a chance this new position can offer you more growth, long-term? I guess there’s no harm in interviewing, but it sounds like with all those contingencies, there’s a 5-10% chance, so that’s probably much closer to 0%, right?

    2. Dr. Doll

      I would recommend pausing and not jumping the gun. I jumped back in the day and it was one of those turning points….it’s led me to a wonderful career but my life would have been much more…oh, in line with my North Star if I had waited a bit.

      Apply and even interview if you like, but meditate.

  88. second jobs

    How do people go about finding second jobs when they have a job with pretty standard hours Monday-Friday? I have a boatload of experience working retail though none waiting tables and haven’t been able to find anything. Every place I’ve applied has said they want part time workers for during the week not evenings and weekends.
    Any tips or is this something where it’s just keep trying until something pans out?

    1. Retail Lifer

      It’s much harder to find people who can work during the day in retail and restaurants because most people with daytime availability need full-time jobs. Those are few and far between in those industries, so it’s always a challenge filling those positions. It’s easier to find people who can work nights and weekends because there are a lot of people who are in school or working second jobs and they aren’t there for the benefits. There are almost always a ton of applicants for every open night/weekend position. Still, those are the busiest times for retail and the turnover is really high. Just because they’re fully staffed THIS week does not mean they will be NEXT week. Keep trying. You just have to get lucky with the timing. Also, stores will really have to beef up their staff for the back-to-school season and the hiring frenzy for that is just around the corner.

      1. littlemoose

        The upcoming back-to-school season is an excellent point – a lot of retailers (clothing, office supplies, and discount stores) do seasonal hiring for this starting in the middle of the summer. You might be able to get a seasonal position for nights and weekends that way, and if it goes well they might be inclined to keep you after the season ends. The retailer for which I worked for many years did seasonal hiring for back-to-school and Christmas, and we usually wound up keeping one or two strong performers permanently.

    2. Sunflower

      I’ve had a good luck signing up for promo work. The pay is pretty high(usually around $20/hr) and you aren’t committed to a schedule. It’s basically picking up shift work so work when you don’t, don’t when you don’t.

    3. salad fingers

      Weekend and nighttime shifts for serving are essentially prime time. Those are the shifts that lifers with seniority want. The slower daytime ones during the week are harder to fill because it’s less likely that those shifts are going to be super lucrative.

      Not sure about retail opportunities, except that shifts may not align perfectly with 9-5s. They may be 3-10p or something like that, and there’s little incentive to accommodate someone’s main work schedule when there are plenty of people willing to do the job and be very flexible with hours.

  89. Tris Prior

    Boyfriend is job-hunting and we’re both confused as to how to list his current job on his resume. He has been doing the same job for a couple of years, but around a year (?) ago, his division spun off into its own company. It is still under the umbrella of the original company – owned by them, I think? Even he is not clear on exactly what the situation is or why it was done, as nothing at all changed about his job, responsibilities, supervisor, location, or the company policies they need to abide by. He didn’t even move desks.

    He doesn’t want to make it look like he changed companies or job-hopped, because he didn’t. His team was just spun off.

    At any rate, I was thinking something like:

    Job Title, OldCompanyName (now NewCompanyName), StartDate-present

    Would that be accurate and clear? Or does that imply that OldCompany doesn’t exist any more at all?

    1. Colette

      I worked for a company that was renamed while I worked there (well, two of them, actually). What I do is:
      Job Title
      Name A/ Name B

    2. louise

      Kind of clunky, but he could do:
      Job Title, NewCompanyName (formerly part of OldCompanyName), StartDate-present

      Doesn’t clear it up entirely, but might help.

      1. Tris Prior

        That’s probably clearer than what I put. And more accurate because he is presently employed, on paper at least, by NewCompany, not OldCompany. Thanks!

    3. Treena Kravm

      I would do:

      Job Title, New Company Name (subsidiary of Old Company Name), Start Date – Present

      1. Dasha

        +1 That’s what I did for my resume: Teapot Maker, Super Chocolate Teapots (Hot Teapots)

  90. Oatmeal

    Looking for advice from people who have made the choice to give up certain workplace freedoms (flexible schedule, ability to work from home, casual dress code, etc.) for more money. How did you adjust? Was it the right choice for you?

    I’m considering moving from the not-for-profit arts to a corporate environment (for 30% more pay) and I’m scarrrred.

    Thanks is advance!

    1. S

      I gave up casual dress codes and more flexible hours for my new job, specifically for more money. But I found that for all the times I hated putting on a pencil skirt or slacks, I enjoyed the financial freedom I have more than I hated the clothes. I’ve spent 2 weekends in a row traveling (thank you, Spirit Airlines and red-eye flights) because I now have the financial means to do so and it’s exactly what I wanted to do with my life, but couldn’t, when I was in the more flexible but low-paying job.

      1. Oatmeal

        Wow. That’s a great angle. I hadn’t thought about it like that. Making more money would help me to pay off student loans that have been hanging around for way too long, and to eventually buy a house.

        I’ve become so accustomed to being able to determine my own hours and work from anywhere that it would be challenging for me to adjust to a new, stricter schedule. But maybe I’d hate that less than I hate having debt hanging over my head….

        1. S

          Exactly! But in the end, it’s all about what you prioritize in your life, and whatever you choose, it’s totally fine! If you value the flexibility of your job a lot, more than the pay bump, then maybe it’s not the right decision for you at this time. But if the flexibility is simply something that makes your lower-paying job more tolerable, but it’s also holding you back because you haven’t been able to save up or make a dent in those loans, then think about that new job seriously.

          1. Oatmeal

            I do think the flexibility has made my current job tolerable. I do value the flexibility, but not more than financial freedom.

            I also think the flexibility has reinforced some lazy habits (it is 10:38am and I am laying in bed, thinking about whether I should go to work today). I feel like my need for flexibility is actually a symptom of disliking my current job.

            Thanks for helping me to reframe this. I really appreciate your perspective!

    2. Ghost Pepper

      I once had a job where I could work from home at least 2 days a week (sometimes more), wear sneaks and sweats every day, and had super cool, laid back managers who respected folks’ time as long as they got their work done.

      But I wanted to advance my career. I left that job for somewhere that required me to be in the office every day and wear business casual (with jeans Friday). I think I made the right decision. Because of the more “corporate” job, I was able to leverage that experience to a better position, which is where I am today.

      And I think nowadays, with everything being more virtual, people are becoming more flexible about working remotely and schedules. As long as you prove yourself to be a high performer and you meet your deadlines, most reasonable managers shouldn’t have an issue with some flexibility. My managers at the more “corporate” job slowly warmed up to the idea of working remotely (very sporadic, but once in a while). And if I had a doctor’s appointment or had to pick up my daughter from daycare, they were fine.

      Aside from pay, will this corporate job advance your career in the field you’re interested in?

      1. Oatmeal

        Well, it is more of a general concept than a specific job at this time. I’ve applied for several positions, and have a few interviews coming up. I think any of them are a good match for my career goals.

        My current workplace is SO flexible (I can literally work whenever, wherever I want, as long as my work gets done. I can show up or not show up any time without letting anyone know, etc.) that any other workplace I move to is nearly guaranteed to have less flexibility.

        One of the jobs I have an interview for is a large telecommunications company – I kind of submitted my application on a whim, thinking it would never get through their screening software. I’m a little shocked to have an interview with them and trying to wrap my head around what that kind of move would actually be like.

    3. katamia

      I’m going from freelancig (work whenever I want, wear PJs all day if I want, etc) to a more traditional office environment. No insight, but I’m scared too, lol.

    4. Demanding Excellence

      I gave up a job (Job A) in an environment I really liked (i.e. very casual dress – jeans every day, creative environment, a fantastic boss) to work for a more buttoned-up environment Job B (formal dress, strict rules, the worst boss ever, etc.). I loved Job A (ad agency) but I wasn’t making any money and I knew I wanted to pay off student loans, eventually buy a home, and just have more financial freedom in general. When I moved to Job B, I got a 50% salary increase (that should tell you how bad my salary was at Job A).

      Even though Job B was a really bad experience overall, I’m glad I made the move. After about a year, I moved on to Job C (where I am now). I got a really nice bump in salary, I like my boss, and I get to work from quite a bit. Job C is in a corporate environment, so it’s not perfect, but overall much better than Job B.

      All this to say – give it a try. :)

      1. Demanding Excellence

        Oh, and after moving on from Job A, I was able to pay off all my debt (credit cards and student loans) by being very disciplined and I will hopefully be able to purchase a home sometime in the next year. :)

    5. Sunshine

      I recently made a move from 3 weeks vacation at very low pay to 2 weeks with 20% more pay….no sense in getting all the time off if you can’t afford to go anywhere :)

    6. NZ Muse

      Left journalism and a role with a lot of autonomy and flexibility but overworkedand underpaid. Now make more, am learning a lot of new stuff and generally feel positive about my lifetime career prospects.

      Zero regrets. Love the money (lifesaver as partner has been out of work) and have goals such as homeownership and kids that financially, are lots more achievable now. I also love my new job though overall it probably does have slightly more day to day frustrations. Much better resourced and there is actually cover if I want a holiday.