open thread – July 17, 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 :)

{ 1,455 comments… read them below }

  1. Weeping Willow

    So crying at work. How often does it happen to you? Where do you go hide to sob in peace? All those fun details about dripping water from your eyes because your job sucks. Share them!

    (And yes, I do know crying at work about work is not a sign of a good job. I am on the search now and hope to be gone soon. It’s just been a rough couple of weeks and I want to know that I’m not alone in this.)

    1. AVP

      think Kelly Cutrone: “If you need to cry, go outside!”

      I had a really awful stressful June and found myself crying in the stairwell, twice. Luckily no one came down or I would have been mortified.

      1. Not My Usual Name

        I did the Dash-to-the-Ladies, and found myself spending more time in there the last few weeks before I knew I was being terminated. Oddly enough I didn’t cry once I had been terminated.

        Trying to get rid of sore, swollen red eyes is the tricky bit though!

        1. stellanor

          I had a brief crying-at-work period for non-work-related reasons (a change in medication was disasterous) and I also hid in the bathroom a lot. Fortunately my floor is maybe 10% women so the ladies’ room is a low traffic area.

    2. Former Diet Coke Addict

      Washroom. Run the water or hand dryer or flush the toilet if necessary to cover the sounds of crying. A cold cloth on the face will kill some redness. When you’re done crying, take several deep deep DEEP breaths and smile even if you don’t feel it–it will accustom your face to Not Crying mode. In a comment I’ll link to a guide on how to NOT look like you were crying.

      I use these tips a lot! That sounds depressing.

          1. Shannon

            Extra bonus points if you blame it on allergies during allergy season and you and your coworker bond over your “allergies.”

        1. kitten

          Thanks for this. I’m one of those people who retains “crying face” for hours even after I shed just a few tears!

    3. Kyrielle

      Haven’t had this issue in a while, but I disagree with AVP – outside at any of my jobs would have meant walking quite a ways to not be visible from coworkers’ windows, and even then, someone else seeking privacy might run into you. Washroom. I would hide in a stall, then when no one was in the room, come out and wash my face at the sink to ease some of the redness.

      1. AVP

        Ah. I work in a city where going outside makes it easy to blend in with tourists and other people on the street. Definitely wouldn’t work if you can be spotted!

        1. Kyrielle

          Yeah, I work more in suburbia and right at the moment (luckily no need to hide crying, yay!) I work in a complex of four buildings that are all the same company. It’s true I could probably get to where no one who would recognize me yet would see me, right now, but that’s not saying much as people get to know me more – and only employees and escorted or expected visitors should be on the grounds.

          Last job, it was just a case of walking out the front door puts you smack in the middle of the row of windows that is our office (single-story building). Hiking to the other end of that sidewalk at least would’ve addressed that, but there was never anyone out there except employees/vendors for the few companies in that building, so no crowds to blend in with.

    4. IndieGir

      The only time I cried at work was on 9/11. Not that there weren’t times I wanted to, but I was able to hold off until I could leave the building. One thing that helped me when I wanted to cry was doing the multiplication table in my head, starting with the 12s and working my way down. By the time I reached the 8s, I usually had it under control. It’s amazing how much of your brain you can redirect on that task . . .

      1. YaH

        This is actually a very useful strategy. If you’re crying or on the verge of tears, try doing math facts in your head, or counting backwards from 100 by sevens, or something else analytical. It forces your brain to switch off the emotions-center so it can concentrate on the logic-center.

      2. Chrissi

        I’ve been reading a book on neuroscience and your method works because you start using the prefrontal cortex (i.e. thinking part of your brain) instead of the limbic system (i.e. emotional part of your brain) and it kind of shorts out the emotion. That’s probably a terrible way of explaining it, but I just started doing it and it works quite well. I also sometimes sing the alphabet song – which seems like it would be too simple, but it works!

    5. GOG11

      I broke down crying once in front of my boss. I was having health problems that (potentially) could have had a HUGE impact on my job and I just couldn’t keep it together. Fortunately, it doesn’t happen to me too often. At times, I have access to a private bathroom, and I’d pop in there if I had to. Outside is another good suggestion (AVP).

      Unsolicited tip: putting face lotion/eye cream/whatever it is you put on your face in the fridge really helps sooth red or irritated skin. Since it seems like your job is soul and tear sucking, it might be helpful to keep some in a paper bag in there. It’s like a little reset button/fresh start for me.

    6. Amber Rose

      Bathroom or car.

      I cry a lot. I literally drip like a leaky faucet. Sometimes without realizing it until I scratch my cheek and realize my face is wet. :/

      So yeah. If I can, I’ll go sit in my car for a few minutes. Bathrooms have the advantage of cold water and paper towels to reduce redness and swelling though.

    7. LadyMountaineer

      When it comes to tough meetings or confrontational people you cannot hide from try bringing in a huge glass of water. Someone once told me that you cannot cry and swallow at the same time and this has bought me enough time to pass through dealing with jerks.

    8. Felicia

      Never at this job because I like it here, but at my last horrible job i’d try to go outside if I could. Or to the washroom. And it used to be 2-3 times a week, because that job was horrible. And EVERYONE there cried that often, so it wasn’t just me.

    9. Nashira

      Sometimes my cube, for a mild cry – oh noes, my dust allergy is bugging me again, aren’t allergies just the worst? For anything stronger, a bathroom on a floor where no one knows me.

      Right now, it happens to me weekly. I have PTSD related to medical crap and work in an insurance office, handling med records. Oh, the office also has a very toxic environment and some emotional abuse. This weekend’s task list involves working on my résumé and trying to keep holding on for my psychiatrist appointment on the 22nd.

      We’ll get out of our bad jobs!

    10. NicoleK

      I’m not a crier. If I’m crying at work…something is seriously wrong. That said, I felt very close to tears the last two days. My job is stressful enough; dealing with new coworker on top of that makes everything worse.

      1. Dynamic Beige

        Me neither. There are only two times I’ve cried on the job. At OldJob I had already decided to leave, then someone did something Not Cool to me and I lost it. I didn’t bother trying to hide it and just sat at my desk, I didn’t care who saw. I had already decided to leave and that treatment just confirmed I had made the right choice. I found out later that I must have a hide of crocodile because it turned out that one of the more senior people was crying all the time. Second time, I spent with a client who literally got on my last nerve then bounced up and down on it like it was a trampoline. I kind of blew up when I couldn’t eat shite with a smile and just take it any more. Never worked for them again. Oh jeez, I just remembered a third time but that was different. I was working on a job and one of the speakers smacked my hand angrily like I was a toddler. It was so shocking I just didn’t know what to do. Even worse were the reactions of all the other men in the room. Yes, I went to the ladies for a good half hour and cried/calmed myself down. The last time I had been struck by a grown ass man, I was 5 and it was my father — the first and last time he ever spanked me (that I recall). So yeah, that happened. Later, I said to people on the team that what that speaker had done was technically assault and I could have had him arrested. Also, that if I had been a man, he never would have dared to do that. Apparently, that speaker was a Giant Flaming Arsehole to everyone, one of the travel directors said that I had “won” the prize of who got to spit in his sandwich. She was, of course, kidding but if they were talking about him like that, he was definitely a Special Case.

          1. Dynamic Beige

            I *touched* his computer. Yeah. Really. Apparently anyone else on the planet who touches his laptop completely destroys it… or so he was yelling to justify what he had done. Which I vaguely registered through my shock. Seriously, the guy was Yosemite Sam style quiveringly angry that I had had the audacity to touch his computer. All I had done was move the pointer back and forth across the screen and was about to yell to my coworker backstage if they could see it, didn’t even know whose computer it was and had never been given any instruction that It Was Not To Be Touched.

    11. anonanonanon

      I graduated college right when the economy tanked, so I had to take a job as a secretary at a local doctor’s office (who, ironically, did not give me health insurance). People get understandably worked up about their money or health insurance, but there was this one guy who had called me on the phone and was screaming at me about how stupid I was for charging him for some tests the doctor had run and how I should have known how much the insurance company would cover. He called me some pretty awful things and kept insulting my intelligence and my appearance.

      I usually have a pretty solid backbone and ability to verbally smackdown people giving me BS – and I rarely cry about anything – but at that point in time, I was miserable that I was stuck in a small town at a job with no future that paid me barely minimum wage. All my friends were moving to cities to get jobs in the industries they went to school for and I felt like an utter failure. So all the cruel things this guy was yelling at me because he was angry about his insurance/medical bill (which was about $100 total, if I remember correctly), just broke me and I was heaving with sobs by the time he had finished. Like, I couldn’t even speak I was so upset and crying so hard. Which led to an awkward silence on his part once he stopped yelling. He mumbled something about his wife coming in to pick up a refund check and hung up. His wife comes in about 10 minutes later and I was still sobbing my eyes out and she looked absolutely mortified. I was alone in the office and I didn’t have the authority to issue a refund check, which I told her and she left after some awkward apologies.

      Fast forward to a week later, when the guy comes in and stands at reception. I instinctively move as far away as possible from him, he looks upset by that, and then is all, “If I had known you were so young, I wouldn’t have yelled so much”. Which, imo, is not an excuse since he shouldn’t yell at anyone like he yelled at me, regardless of age. The doctor banned him from the office and that was the last of that.

      But that’s the only time I’ve truly cried at the office. So, I share your pain at having a job that makes you cry. I hope your rough couple of weeks get better and that you find a new and better job soon!

      1. Melissa

        I hate places that don’t offer health insurance in general, but I get really peeved when I find out that health-related jobs don’t offer health insurance because WTF? I was a graduate student at an academic medical center, in their school of public health, where some of the professors were champions of universal health care and had given commentary on ACA when it was being debated. One day a friend/fellow student and I were chatting with a security guard who eventually mentioned that she didn’t have health insurance. At a school of public health!!

        Anyway, holy crap, did that guy not realize he was talking to a human being on the other end? Good for your doctor for banning him from the office, although he loses points for not giving employees health insurance.

        1. anonanonanon

          Right? The office I worked at got away with not offering insurance because they had a small number of employees and weren’t legally required to offer insurance under state law. I took the job because I desperately needed money, but I appreciate the health insurance I’ve gotten from other companies so much more now that I know what it’s like not to have health insurance.

        2. Artemesia

          I lived in a city where the conservative new pols elected bragged about saving money on garbage collections through their new efficient privatized service. What that meant was instead of public servants we now had men hauling our garbage who were paid poorly and had no health insurance — this is the ‘efficiency of privitization’ — screw the worker.

          Long since time for Medicare for all and divorcing medical insurance from employment. If you get really sick or really hurt and lose your job psst there goes our medical insurance just when you need it most.

      2. Pearl

        I’m glad your boss banned him from the office. Some people honestly felt that because the insurance system is stacked so pro-insurance-company, they have to start out belligerent to get anything done. I’ve seen people scream until their problem is fixed, then abruptly stop, smile, and say, “Thanks! You know, sometimes you just have to be aggressive to get things done.”

        1. anonanonanon

          Yeah. One of the biggest issues was that most of the insurance companies could only tell me if someone had coverage, not what it covered or how much they would owe. I had to wait for the doctor to bill the insurance company, the insurance company to send a check, and then I’d send the different out to the patient. Honestly, it’s really a patient’s responsibility to know what their insurance covers. When it comes down to it, it was never really my fault that insurance wouldn’t cover something or the doctor’s visit was a specific price. But people do love to yell at the messenger. Oh well.

          1. previously pregnant

            I think it’s the insurance company’s intent to make sure NO ONE knows what their insurance covers so that they can choose to approve or deny claims. I called my insurance company a lot during a pregnancy and after childbirth to find out what was covered and they’d always say, “we can’t guarantee approval of any procedure until we’ve reviewed the claim.” It was infuriating…but the people on the medical side didn’t have any better knowledge either!

            1. Judy

              I once joked that the reason the FMLA for the birth of a child existed was to give you time to make all of the calls to the insurance company. (Things like, you did send the insurance card for the new child, so beyond my notes I’m pretty sure we did call you to put him on the insurance, would you please stop denying the claims.)

              1. Judy

                Oh, and the worst “I can’t talk to anyone but the covered individual about this”. me: “Really, you need to talk to my 6 week old baby about this?”

                1. Courtney

                  I’d want to put the baby up the phone as he let out a loud wail. “Okay that’s him giving me permission to speak on his behalf. Now that’s covered so getting back to he was added to the policy…”

                  :)

            2. Ad Astra

              I feel this way too. Every doctor’s office I’ve been to has mentioned in the paperwork that it’s the patient’s responsibility to know what’s covered, but I’m always just sort of praying that the copay for whatever procedure/medication I need is something I can afford.

              For that reason, I’ve instructed my friends and family to never let me get into an ambulance if there’s any other feasible way to get me to a hospital. And I’m not entirely joking.

              1. LibLady

                I hear you on no ambulance! My brother-in-law was recently in a motorcycle accident (he’s going to be ok) and was life-flighted to the hospital. Care to guess the bill? $54,000. Fortunately they have insurance which will cover most or all of it, but that alone could wipe out a family’s finances.

        2. Artemesia

          There are automated systems program to give you a person if you swear. I have actually experienced that. With insurance you often don’t get what you are paying for unless you are very aggressive. Many service industries are primed to give poor service unless the person is aggressive or even unpleasant. It really sucks.

      3. Ad Astra

        That point where one bad moment (being screamed at by a customer) turns into a swirly, hellish build up of every single thing that’s been bothering you for months is so relatable to me. I’ve cried a lot in past jobs, and it was never solely about the situation at hand; it was always about the larger issue of feeling like a failure and wishing I hadn’t moved a thousand miles from home to take a job where (it seemed, at the time) everyone hated me and I wasn’t even good at the work. Ughhh.

        I don’t know who’s been teaching people that yelling at low-level employees is the way to get what you want, but that person’s a jerk.

        1. Retail Lifer

          Exactly. Because as a low-level employee, you had no input in creating the policy and you have no power to change it, yet it’s ALL YOUR FAULT.

    12. Malissa

      We have single bathrooms. Easy to lock oneself in and do what ever necessary to get through the day.

    13. ACA

      Bathroom, or else hold it back until lunchtime and then go cry on a bench outside.

      (You’re not alone. Last summer, I was so miserable at work that I actually called a suicide hotline, sobbing, just so that I could get someone to tell me that it things at work would get better and I would get through it. Things did get better eventually, and I did get through it…but I’m still looking for another job. Good luck to you on your search!)

      1. Mel

        Hahaha! One time I had a meltdown in my bosses office, which was fine because we had a close supportive relationship. She sent me outside to go center myself and pull my ish together and I decided to sit on a bench in the sun to do so. It was nearly lunch time and one of the senior execs happened to walk by and cheerily came over to say hello, while my puffy faced self was trying to get it together. I tried and failed to make cheery small talk before he awkwardly shuffled away.

        1. Artemesia

          Happened to me at the local bar with a girlfriend after work. I was weeping to my friend/colleague when cheery execs spotting us came over to say hello and awkwardly hustled on.

    14. Last Name here

      I inherited crying at the drop of a hat from my grandfather (would have really preferred the ‘bacon/eggs/steak every morning and still have low cholesterol’ gene). Unfortunately, it’s not great in a meeting with your boss. Most of the time I grit my teeth and get through it without them realizing how close I am to tearing up, but it absolutely sucks. I end up having a running commentary in my head about how I Must Not Cry and I’m always afraid that the distraction will make me miss something important.

      I did have come across a video earlier this year (we monitoring what kids do on a specific section of the internet) that caught me way off guard. I was so absolutely horrified by what other people can do to kids that I lost it at my desk. Fortunately, it was a.) very early in the day and b.)the few people who were in the office were very understanding (while saying ‘Before I come over to bring you this treat, is it still on your screen? I don’t want to see that…’).

      1. Anon for this

        Just so you know, people who have to look at that stuff for part of their job on a regular basis (like prosecutors and judges) still cry about it too.

      2. Shannon

        Telling myself that I Must Not Cry Now always makes me break into tears. That’s my stupid rebellious streak for ya.

        1. Not So NewReader

          That’s actually pretty normal. The quickest way to get a crying person to stop crying is to tell them it’s okay to cry. The acknowledgement is that strong, it can help a person to find their path through the tears and stop.
          But, yes, the harder we tell ourselves not to cry, the more we want to cry. That is true.

      3. anon for this

        Yes, one of the few times I’ve cried at work (and lucky for me I had a mid-day hour-long subway ride to do it on) was the first time I made a mandated reporter call. I can deal with workplace stress well but that was so much worse.

    15. Jubilance

      I try to go in the bathroom or an empty conference room. Then I need to sit for a bit and calm down so that I don’t look like I’ve been crying.

    16. Taco Bella

      My old office had giant landscaping rocks off in the far side of the parking lot next to the highway. It so far removed from the office that it felt like you were standing in a white noise machine on a different planet. We called them the crying rocks.

      1. Roly Poly Little Bat Faced Girl

        “The Crying Rocks” is sad and hilarious at the same time.

    17. Jennifer

      How often does it happen to me: seasonally at least. I just end up bursting into tears at my desk before making it to the bathroom, unfortunately. Last tears at work: two days ago.

      There is absolutely nowhere private to go here, unfortunately.

    18. Elizabeth West

      Most of the time, I can hold out until I leave, but it happens occasionally. I cry when I get frustrated and if something else is bothering me, annoyances at work will push me right over the edge. Fortunately, I’m alone in a cubicle most of the time, so I can get away with just big rolling tears and a sniff now and then. I sniff a lot due to allergies, so I’m sure people around me wouldn’t think anything of it. If it’s more than that, I hit the bathroom and blow my nose in a stall.

      Yesterday I had an okay day until about three o’clock, and then in the space of a half hour a bunch of stupid stuff happened. I was already a bit stressed out from a long week, and I REALLY wanted to cry. I held it back until I got in the car to go home and when I hit the highway, WATERWORKS. I bawled through two exits and then I was fine. Well, better anyway.

    19. Jerzy

      Several years ago I was working at a job I hated with people I didn’t like, but I thought, “Hey, at least this will get me out of my parent’s house.” I was 27 at the time, and had moved back about a year before from living/working abroad.

      I was on track to get an apartment when I got a call at work from the realtor working for the people I was going to rent from telling me that there was no CO for the place, and the deal had fallen through. And, completely unlike me, I started sobbing. I had my own office, and closed the door, but my office had a big window (no blinds/curtains) and one of my coworkers saw me crying and just let herself in to comfort me. Before I knew it, the whole office was standing around my desk, wondering why I was crying, but not really being comforting. Mostly just staring at me. I was sobbing so hard, I could neither explain it, or tell them to get the hell out because I didn’t want to be seen like this by people who already treated me badly.

      So a private office work, if you have curtains, and/or coworkers who understand boundaries.

    20. matcha123

      I’ve teared up a bunch of times, but I think there were only two or three times where I had to excuse myself. The first time at workplace A, I went to the bathroom a number of times. At a different workplace, I did it openly at my desk. In both cases, they were tears of frustration, rather than sadness.

    21. Blue Swan

      You’re not alone. I’d say on average I cry once a month, but there’s been difficult periods of time (both personal and professional) where I’ve found myself crying at work a few days in a row. It’s important to remember that no matter what, life will go on.

      As for places, I work in a complex so I have a few places: the bathroom, low-traffic stairwell, the roof and a closet.

    22. Lucky

      Crying at work bc frustration, jerky boss, various glassbowl coworkers, etc. = hide in bathroom, pat face with cold water, use emergency concealer in desk drawer.

      Crying at work bc my dad died = go ahead and cry, tell people “I’ll be fine, this is just going to happen for a while.” I was surprised at how kind people were about random tears once I told them my dad had died, not just at work but also on the bus, in line at the grocery, in a freakin’ job interview, etc.

    23. puddin

      I choose numbing instead. IIIIIII have become comfortably numb. Sing it with me now…

      Seriously, I am sorry to hear that you are distraught about work. It can be so frustrating and demoralizing. You are not alone. I am currently feeling trapped and am full on depressed about it.

      I have cried at work and I make no bones about it. I don’t wail, but I will let the tears flow and sniffle. I just sit in my cube, turn on a song (headphones) that expresses my mood, and let it burn for 3-4 minutes. Frustration water can be embarrassing though. If you do not want anyone to know, try a meeting room (if you have one) or outside.

      I did have a friend who worked in a mall and she would go on break (somehow hold the tears til then). Then go to one of the those back massage kiosks, get a rub, and with her face buried in the head rest let her tears flow.

      Move on and make a Smart move to the next job.

    24. ohgoodness~

      Heh. I’ve been crying a lot at work recently and i sort of don’t care? I’ve been having massive health issues, a very close friend was murdered recently, and my job extremely toxic, so, when it happens, I’ve just sat here and quietly cried cause I’m too busy to go off to the bathroom.

      1. INFJ

        I hate that- having to surreptitiously cry while working because you can’t get away. I’m always torn between 1) hoping nobody notices, and 2) wondering how the hell people don’t notice when they talk to me and my eyes must be clearly red and watery.

        1. SevenSixOne

          I’ll discreetly ask if everything’s OK if I know the cry-er well, if the crying lasts more than a few minutes, or if it seems like the person is in immediate danger. But usually when someone’s trying to Stealth Cry, I just pretend not to notice out of politeness.

      2. Nashira

        That is a lot to deal with all at once. I’m especially sorry you lost a friend that way. I can’t imagine how traumatic and difficult it is.

    25. Kate

      I’ve only cried at work twice that I can remember. Once it because it was my first job and a client was just really mean to me over the phone. I literally hid under my desk. You can totally do this if you work in a cube or office where no one will see you scurry under there, or your desk is off to the side and no one is looking.

      Once it because I was just so fed up with my job. There were other things going on and I was feeling down about life overall, and not liking my job was a BIG part of that. And then I got to work and spilled hot water all over myself. Cue the water works. I probably could have hid under my desk that time, but before I could another coworker stopped by and found me … luckily she’s also been fairly unhappy here so we had a nice talk.

      It’s terrible/beautiful how many of us have these stories.

      1. Chalupa Batman

        Seconding crying under the desk. Once I was in cubes and couldn’t (and was later told I am NOT a quiet crier- I ended up taking 3 days off with an infected tooth, so everyone knew why I was crying), but when OldJob was truly terrible and I was crying at work relatively often, I would close the door and cry under my desk so they would think I was out of my office and no one would bother me. Appropriately, one of the many reasons I was crying was because my workload was so unwieldy and interruptions so frequent that I was chained to my desk. Literally the only way to be left alone was to physically hide. I do not miss OldJob.

    26. afiendishthingy

      Well, at I least once at every job I’ve ever had, I think. Worst one was this winter where I cried in a meeting with a client who disliked me and was very passive aggressive, would say super insulting things about my abilities and then smile like it was a funny joke she was making. I escaped to the bathroom and took some deep breaths, it was a few minutes, but everyone definitely knew I was crying. It SUCKED. I don’t have that client anymore and my confidence has improved, but I’ve still cried twice since then during 1:1 meetings with my supervisor – but that’s more just about processing stuff and she’s a social worker so I try not to feel too bad about it.

    27. Alder

      When I first started teaching I worked at an after-school program in a middle school, teaching art. It could have been a great job, but I was really unprepared and way too hard on myself and spent a lot of time crying that year.

      One day, after the kids had left, I went to put away the stack of dried paintings I had collected from my students and found that this one kid had taken a stapler when I wasn’t looking stapled through the whole pile, a whole bunch of times. The paintings weren’t ruined, but they had holes in them and I was going to have to pry them apart, and I started crying and stomping on the floor. Just then I heard a tiny, twinkly voice from the hallway asking me what was wrong. It was this little sixth-grade girl, whose name was something extremely cute and flowery, who wore fairy wings to school on top of her uniform every day and had pink bows all over her backpack, smiling at me worriedly.

      I told her everything was okay, I just found a big mess I didn’t know about and I was frustrated. The next year I went and got a different job!

    28. Ihmmy

      at my last job I’d either go to the one single room bathroom (other set were stalls) but for bad sessions I went to my car and locked the doors. I needed distance from crazypants so I could let it all out and then come back and fix everything that was apparently wrong. Current job doesn’t have a good hidey spot, almost all the offices have a window in them and the bathrooms are all stalls. So either hide under a desk in an empty office, pray the one window free room is empty, or go to another building entirely. But I haven’t cried at this job yet, just had the start of a panic attack once.

    29. LQ

      Slightly different than the other posters. When I’m exhausted I tear up. My face will have tears running down it. And this can happen on and off all day. It would look like tears are just running down my face. When it is happening it is most likely I’m super busy at work. In which case I just wipe them away and continue, if someone looks at me funny I just say I’m tired and keep going. I just act like nothing is happening. If I tried to step away until it stopped it would be sometimes 10-15 minutes and often when there is a lot happening and several times a day.

    30. I'm Not Phyllis

      I’ve only ever full-on cried at work once (when I got laid off from my first “real” job – which was kinda embarrassing because I had a 16-week notice period and still had to go back to work for four months), but I’ve teared up a few times. I just go for a walk … and take as much freaking time as I need to compose myself.

    31. CheeryO

      I ugly-cried during my comprehensive oral exam for my Master’s. I made it through by biting my lip really hard, but I couldn’t stop the tears from coming fast and ugly once I was done. I apologized and dashed off to the bathroom to do damage control, but it was pretty bad. I started up again once they told me that I passed, and I just apologized again and gratefully accepted tissues. They were very gracious about it (and one of my professors shared that she cried on the bathroom floor after her own comps), but it’s still so embarrassing in hindsight.

      1. A

        As soon as I got back to my grad student office after my PhD comps, I just broke down. It was cathartic to release all that pressure and stress.

    32. Ally

      When I worked in a retail store (I was 17) I had to assist a severely disabled customer. He was the sweetest old man, had clearly had a stroke and could not 1. talk very well 2. walk very well and 3. hear very well and was out Christmas shopping for his son.

      I helped him get all his stuff, led him to the cash, and promptly burst into tears.

      I talked to a coworker who told me to go hide in the managers office until I had calmed down enough to pull myself together. It still makes me emotional just thinking about that man and it’s been years.

    33. INFJ

      LastJob, and 2 managers ago, I usually cried in the ladies room when I could- my boss at the time wouldn’t let me leave his office and come back later if I felt as though I was getting too emotional to have a constructive conversation, so it often happened that I cried in his office. I had to tell him to keep a box of tissues in his office because they were definitely needed. (And I was not the only one. I had one super-upbeat/bubbly coworker in particular who, every time I saw her crying, I would say, “Ramsey Bolton again?” because it was that common.)

      One of the best moments of my new job was when I had to bring a box of tissues into my manager’s office because we were LAUGHING too much. I share this last part because I want to give you hope that things can and will get better.

    34. Bad signs

      Not alone. My supervisor and I both feel like crying and/or screaming on a daily basis (most recently because Mr. Bossman did not pay for the company health insurance until 2 days after it was already supposed to be process)

    35. Bea W

      My employer got a new CEO earlier in the year. He decided to shake things up a whole lot. His new vision for the company translates into “Let’s make the shareholders rich and happy.”, which of is important to a point I guess, but I’m not terribly inspired by it as the “new direction” we’re taking, unless you count the inspiration to vomit.

      1. Bea W

        *sigh* I hit the wrong link again. This is a totally separate topic, although I admit it did make me want to cry.

    36. Anie

      Yeah, I can think of a few times I cried. Various jobs. This wasn’t the most recent, but I remember getting a call from my landlord that we had to have our apartment treated for bedbugs for a third time in as many months. It was an enormous process of washing every single piece of fabric and throwing away so many smaller items (they could also live in books and basically anything with a nook or cranny).

      I was so mad that the problem apartment, below mine, kept not cleaning up and taking the process seriously. I was also seriously allergic to bedbug bites and ended up with massive amounts of my body covered in bites.

      I broke down crying in the middle of a customer-facing area and my boss wouldn’t left me take any time to compose myself. I was standing there weeping while trying to answer questions from customers or keep my hair in my face so no one could see my eyes.

      1. TheLazyB

        I just don’t get bosses who won’t let you take five in these circumstances. It can’t look good to customers when you’re all teary. And bedbugs is an extremely good reason to cry IMO.

      2. Ad Astra

        I live in constant fear of contracting (is that the word?) bedbugs. What a nightmare. I would have cried too.

    37. Beancounter in Texas

      I’ll add my sob story…

      I was escaping Job From Hell and kind of desperate. I hadn’t landed any other interviews except with Current Employer and was hired to replace the senior bookkeeper (unbeknownst to her). Her tongue was super sharp and she berated me for every little tiny thing and made snide remarks that let me know she looked down at me and thought I was incompetent. I learned that the temp agency previous used had told The Boss that they would not send any more temps to our office because of This Woman. Hence, I was hired directly. I cried at least three times a week in the bathroom, if not everyday. I sobbed and bawled, like a “gasping for air between sobs” kind of cry. The promise of succeeding her if/when she was terminated is what helped me to suffer through. In retrospect, I was suffering from some post-traumatic stress from the Job From Hell before I jumped out of the frying pan and into this fire.

      After I started finding HER mistakes in some of the books (addition errors, writing the wrong dates) and realizing that I could totally do her job more efficiently, I stopped caring what she thought and for the most part, what she said. She could hurt my feelings if I dropped my guard, but I stopped crying for the most part. She was completely blindsided the day she was terminated. I felt a little sorry for her because she wasn’t wholly a bad person (just old and mean), and she had tears in HER eyes for a change, but she got herself fired.

    38. A Minion

      I go to the bathroom and cry. I’ve been in there twice this week already. I’m expecting more trips in the future. This has been a very, very stressful month for me so far. I’m glad to see the post downthread on how to not look like you’ve just been crying, though! Hopefully that will get me through the next couple of weeks.

    39. CrazyCatLady

      It only happened to me once after my boss yelled at me for almost an hour. I cried in front of him, so there was no crying in peace.

      1. Not So NewReader

        Why do people do that? Your boss behaved like an idiot. I always say, that people with real skills and abilities do not need to scream because they know what to do. Must be he did not have an real skills and abilities.

    40. TheLazyB

      I am a bit surprised and saddened by a lot of these replies. I don’t cry much in work, and I definitely wouldn’t recommend it, but I’ve mostly worked in environments where – as long as it’s not too regular – it won’t do you any harm.

      I recently went to a talk called Women Into Science and one of the speakers, a Physics professor (whose husband is a SAHD to their four year old) was talking about how shouting and aggression are far more acceptable in university science departments than crying – they won’t win you any fans, but it won’t permanently damage your career like crying will. And I thought, YES!! We women buy into this ‘WE MUST NEVER CRY IN WORK EVER’ and really it doesn’t do us any favours. It’s a normal physiological reaction to many situations.

      Trying to remember instances of me crying in work. I will discount the ones which were due to me suffering from poor mental health.

      OK, first job: I had split up with my boyfriend and was devastated. But I didn’t want to start crying (because if I did I’d never stop) so I asked for a quite word with my line manager and emphatically-mattter-of-fact-ly told her we’d split up, immediately followed by ‘please don’t express any sympathy or I will cry’. She understood and was very matter of fact in return which I really appreciated.

      The main other one I remember was when a senior manager came down to ask why his meeting wasn’t set up. It was nothing to do with me and we’d recently moved to a system where rooms weren’t set up any more. I was trying to explain this to him and say that as soon as I could find office cover I would go upstairs and do it but he just shouted at me! I was maybe 33 at the time and he was so far out of order I couldn’t believe it. I called someone else to cover and went and did the room. Then I went to my line manager’s office, luckily she was back, walked in and burst into angry tears. I was furious and frustrated.

      The next day when I had calmed down I went up to his office to explain what had happened and tell him he was way out of order shouting at me. I was the Chief’s PA FFS and worked hard and was good at my job! I got two lines into explaining and he started to get angry again! At which point I said ‘I came up here because you shouted at me yesterday and I do not deserve that.’ Or words to that effect. He looked sheepish and apologised.

      He mostly ignored me after that, until I ended up HIS PA too. Ha.

      Oh god I just remembered another one. A middle job. I got an email from my boss (who was working from home), telling me I was unprofessional, didn’t care about the job and that everyone else had noticed too. I went and hid in the loos and cried. Tried to avoid going for coffee break that day but they all waited for me.

      The lab assistant kindly let me know at coffee that our evil b@st@rd boss had BCC’d that email round the whole lab.

      I cried at coffee break too.

      Luckily a couple of the other staff came up to me and told me he just did that to people every so often and not to take it personally. But, yeah. I didn’t like sob openly, but I think everyone knew I was crying (and it was mostly men) and I think they all thought it was a reasonable reaction to the boss’s cruelty.

      So, yeah. I’ve been working nearly 20 years and they are the worst stories :)

      1. Not So NewReader

        Two more candidates for boss of the year right here. Wow. I am sorry these situations happened to you.

        1. TheLazyB

          Thank you!

          I still have the email somewhere. I can laugh now, mostly, but I had PTSD from that job for quite a while. I had no confidence to apply for other jobs after the abuse and ended up applying for an internal job and getting it. The people were lovely and it was great to realise that actually, I’m a bloody great employee.

    41. Miss Betty

      If you’re in a multi-story buildings and can access the restrooms on other floors (or if there’s a public restroom in the building), that can be helpful – at least you don’t have the added stress of hoping no one from the office comes in.

    42. Ad Astra

      About a month after starting a new job in a new city, I was sent off on what my manager thought would be a low-key assignment to photograph a cute event at a local grade school and talk to some kids. Talking to new people in an official context really stresses me out, but I didn’t want my new boss to think I couldn’t hang. So I headed out the door and tweeted something like “Today seems like as good a day as any to conquer crippling social anxiety.”

      It took me FOREVER to find my car in the garage, which had a slightly confusing setup. While I was searching for my car, the bridal shop I was planning to visit (a 5-hour drive from where I lived) that weekend called to tell me they couldn’t get me an appointment and I would have to reschedule. I had already waited until the last minute (in bridal time, which is really like 5 or 6 months before the wedding), so this was NOT GOOD NEWS. Before I made it out of the garage, my then-fiance called to tell me he wouldn’t be able to coach sports in our new state because of some problems with his license. Also not good news.

      I got lost on the way to the school, then couldn’t find a place to park, and then finally took a bunch of photos I wasn’t thrilled with. Then my check engine light came on. I made it back to the office, where my manager said she’d read my tweet and thought it sounded like I was complaining about the assignment (I wasn’t, really, but I see why it sounded that way.)

      I burst into tears, started babbling something about being really nervous and getting lost and the check engine light and not wanting to push back on the assignment because I didn’t want her to avoid giving me more opportunities in the future and wahhhh. I am sure this manager, who was all of 24 years old, was completely puzzled by my reaction.

      To her credit, the manager said something like, “When I assigned this, I thought I was actually throwing you a bone, not making your life harder. Sometimes this job will require you to go out and take photos or videos. Can you do that?” And then she sent me off to go get some frozen yogurt for an hour while I composed myself.

      She was the only consistently sane and human manager at this company, and she was gone before my wedding rolled around.

    43. LeighTX

      At my last job, I cried more in the last six months I worked there than in all my years at previous jobs combined, times about ten. I was so miserable that I would routinely burst into tears almost randomly, and even saw my doctor to get some medicinal help until I could get out of there. What made it all even more fun was that we had all-glass offices, so there was zero privacy. I’d try to turn and face the window until I could get myself under control, then put my head down and walk to the bathroom to splash cold water on my face or finish crying in the stall.

      I thank God every day for my new job. Being in a job or workplace that you hate is soul-sucking. Good luck, Weeping Willow; I hope you get out soon!

    44. Lily Puddle

      Similar to the other person who posted that you can’t drink water and cry at the same time, I heard once that you can’t cough and cry at the same time. So if I feel tears coming on at an inappropriate time, I’ll cough. Seems to work. It’s not something you can keep up long term, though, as people will start paying more attention to you if you cough a lot, but it may be enough to get you out of the room and to a safe crying place.

      1. Chrissi

        Also, if you are like me and get choked up when you cry, touch your tongue to the roof of your mouth as far back as you can – it opens up your throat and keeps you from choking up, and, for me, keeps me from crying in the short term.

    45. Writer in trouble

      Yep, I have cried at work many a time. I’ve had high anxiety lately and I work myself up over things both work and non-work related. I do go into the bathroom or whatever I have to do to ensure people don’t see me – haven’t gotten caught yet! Sometimes I do feel better afterwards from the release and it helps me get back to the grind.

    46. TootsNYC

      I once asked to speak with someone above me about the guy who was sort of my direct boss (though in a way, we were more like colleagues). He’d been nasty in criticizing me for taking an overdue task off his desk (because he’d vanished without a word to anyone, his deputy was getting calls about it, and my team could do the final check that -should- have been all we needed).
      I split it among my team (for speed) and said, “make -only- those changes that are absolutely crucial.” Well, on two of the pages, they found something important and rapidly moved to get them input and reprinted.
      The guy comes back, demands to know where the pages are, deputy & I tell him, and I saw, “two of them are being reprinted.” He snarls nastily about how they shouldn’t be making changes, and I point out, “they were typos or garbled inputting.”
      Two minutes, literally, later, I hand him the finished packet. It’s over due, remember. And 30 minutes later he brings me one of those pages with a photocredit change that’s really stupid–like, “Left:” is changed to “At left:” and insists that we should get that in and reprinted right away.
      I was furious.

      Since this was a trend of him being nasty and basically really disrespectful, I went to his boss. And started to cry as I’m telling this story. And she says to me, crisply and encouragingly, “don’t cry. Yell, get mad, raise your voice. Let your anger show in your tone of voice. But don’t cry. It’s OK to be mad–let it out. Just don’t cry.” It actually helped. Because it was true that the tears were from suppressing the emotion–anger.

  2. Mockingjay

    Good news!

    Out of the blue, I got a request on LinkedIn from a local company HR rep looking for an experienced technical writer. He wanted to set up a phone screen this week. I responded and we talked briefly yesterday – it went very well and he was very enthused about my qualifications. He asked me to send my resume asap so he could get it to the hiring manager. He even called me back to make sure I had his correct corporate email, and asked if he could have the resume by COB.

    Updated my resume and wrote an awesome cover letter (thank you Alison!) and sent them off…

    Here’s hoping for the next step!
    ******
    And for those of you following the Meeting Minutes saga…this week my intrepid colleague and I got a request to take minutes during an week-long training class.

    Ummm, shouldn’t the trainees be taking their own notes? How else are they going to learn? [Bangs forehead on keyboard AGAIN. I have permanent indentations that read QWERTY in the mirror.]

    1. GOG11

      Congrats on the phone screen and good luck for the rest of the interview process!

      Sorry to hear about you and your colleague being sucked into yet another note taking venture. Unless they’re trying to create a set of master documents that can be used from here on out (that keeps you from having to be there again!), it really sucks that you’re being roped into this :/

    2. Malissa

      Good luck on getting a new job. And start hitting your head on the keyboard rest. It’s much softer. ;)

  3. Overscheduled

    How can I deal with an unrealistic and punitive schedule? Yesterday, my boss asked me for a quote on how long it would take me to complete four projects, and I gave him a quote that it would take approximately 45 hours to do everything accurately and completely. He came back with “that’s too bad, it’s due Monday morning.” This means that I’ll be at work all weekend, likely 20-hour-days, to get it in on time.

    I am efficient and use my time well — I should point out that our competitor has 20 people doing the job that five of us here do, and those 20 people do approximately 12 similar projects a year. I’ve done eight since April, by myself.

    While I am pretty sure the answer is that my boss sucks and I should move elsewhere, I’m tied to the area and require the insurance benefits for at least another nine months, so I’d like any advice on scripts or … something to help push back. Thanks.

    1. LCL

      You’ve already written the script. Your second paragraph. Tell him. And stop working 20 hour days.

    2. Hlyssande

      I don’t have advice, but your boss is a terrible person. If he already knew it was due Monday, why did he bother asking? Ugh.

      I hope you’re not exempt and can get OT, but I’m guessing you probably are.

      Suck!

    3. Barbara in Swampeast

      1) Seriously, start looking for another job.
      2) Tighten your budget now so you have as much wiggle room as possible when he fires you.
      3) Talk to him today and tell him all four projects are not possible by Monday. Ask him which TWO should be your priority and point out to him that all your other projects are on hold while you do this and will also miss their deadlines.
      4) Only work on those two projects and when they are done, you are done until Monday. Take any time remaining and do something relaxing–like NOTHING!

    4. JMegan

      Do you give him the full details, or just the final number? When you say 45 hours, do you show each step of the process? Task X will take about 3 hours, then Task Y will take an hour and a half. Etc.

      You can also give some options – we could maybe cut out A, which would save two hours, but then that would impact B and C. If B and C are a priority, then we can cut D instead. Maybe someone else can do E at the same time as I’m doing F? We absolutely can’t cut G, though, so we’ll need to make sure we’re blocking enough time for that part.

      Also, put it on a calendar. So you’ll be doing X and Y on Friday, then spending all day Saturday on Z. Jane needs to approve A, and she won’t be in until Monday, so you’ll work on B and C in the meantime.

      Spell everything out in excruciating detail, if you’re not already doing that. You can also point out that you need rest in order to function effectively, and that your work isn’t going to be nearly as good at Hour 18 of a 20-hour day as it was at Hour 10. (Although it sounds like your boss might take that as a personal weakness on your part, so YMMV for that one!)

      Also, your boss sucks. I hope you can get out of there soon!

    5. Kyrielle

      Is there any prayer that he would give you part of the next week off if you said you were willing to work the weekend to get it done, but would like a day or two next week off?

      I’m guessing if that were probable, you’d have asked, and he doesn’t sound entirely reasonable, but if it’s not something that’s been asked before, you could float it and see if it goes anywhere.

    6. Camellia

      As a variation on this, at OldJob my manager stopped by my desk out of the blue and asked me how long it would take me to do GiantProject. I thought quickly and said, “Six months.” He snorted scornfully and said, “There’s no way it will take that long!” So they decided to hire ExpensiveExperts to do it. On the first phone call he asked ExpensiveExperts how long. ExpensiveExperts replied, “Six months.”

      The sound of crickets was quite gratifying.

      1. TheLazyB

        Wait, he contracted it out without a time estimate?! And how long did it take to contract it out?! Your OldJob was crazy.

    7. zora

      Dude, people are late with their deadlines all the time. If they are so horrible, they probably aren’t going to fire you because it would be too much work. Just work a normal amount of hours, get done what you can get done in that amount of time. Go home this weekend. When he comes to you Monday for the project, “oh, bummer, it’s not done yet, I still have this amount of work yet. I’ll get it to you when it’s done.” Turn back to the computer and keep working. You don’t need to argue with him about it, you just spend a reasonable amount of time on it, and get it done when it gets done. It doesn’t sound like you are a surgeon, so I’m willing to bet no one will die if it doesn’t get done by Monday.

      1. zora

        I’m just saying this because I worked with people who turned things in late All. The. Time. I got laid off and they are still there. You just have to calmly be like “oh, not done yet. Still working on it.”

        Another thing that has helped me: what is literally the worst case scenario that could possibly happen?
        -He yells at you? ok you can survive that, just sit there calmly and then when he takes a breath say, “Ok, well I will get back to work on it now then so I can get it to you.”
        -He can’t physically prevent you from leaving the office at the end of the day.
        -He fires you? Very unlikely, but hey, you’d get unemployment.
        -And what about the ROUSes? I don’t believe they exist.

    8. Not So NewReader

      “our competitor has 20 people doing the job that five of us here do, and those 20 people do approximately 12 similar projects a year. I’ve done eight since April, by myself.”

      ADDED: “Boss, I am dong the best I can do all the time. I understand you need to have that project on Monday. The best I can do is X day. The recipients of this work will just have to understand I am only one person. I will not jeopardize my health working 20 hour days to get this done for Monday. I will help out as best I can.”

      Maybe it is wrong of me, but I have a bit of an attitude about unfair work loads. It’s not MY problem when the boss overextends or over commits. I do my best each day, I have had a couple bosses say I work like I am three people. I am saying this because you probably have a similar track record. This project is not doable in the time frame given. You have the experience under your belt to know this to be a fact. Be confident, know that you know.

      Sooo- ask if he will authorize the rest of the week off for you because you will be working 40 hours over the weekend to get this done. OR Ask if someone can be reassigned to work with you so that you both can get it done on time.
      The way I have pushed back in the past is through the use of specifics like this. Another specific you can use if if you know something you need is not in house. “In order to assemble a 1000 widgets by Monday, I will need 500 more gizmos than what we have on hand.” Or perhaps a printer that you use is broken/information is missing/key individual is on vacation, you could point that out, too.

      Honestly- I feel he left himself wide open if those were his actual words, “that is too bad, it’s due Monday.” I would have said, “Well, it looks like we won’t make Monday, so what are we going to do here?” ** Watch your tone of voice, you want to sound sincere, not snarky. If you can muster a little fatigue in your voice that might help make it sound less like a threat and more like a real question. You also want to say “we”, indicating that it’s your concern as well as his. (** this works if you know your boss and his moods well enough and you know your tone of voice will help him change tracks.)

  4. Cruciatus

    Does anyone have tips for an entire morning of interviewing for an administrative role? Last week I was excited about getting phone calls for two universities I’ve been trying to get into for administrative work for years now. But now I’m super anxious! I will actually have 2 interviews on Monday—took the whole day off. I hope this isn’t a terrible idea… But the one university, a branch of a Big 10 school, sent me an ITINERARY! So my entire morning will involve meeting with 1 committee, then the entire staff of the department, meeting with another admin for a while, then testing (which is another question I’ll be asking separately), then meeting with the interim dean. Is this typical for an administrative assistant (closer to entry-level) to have a 2.5-3 hour long interview? Other interviews I’ve had for similar roles have been 30-45 minutes. The end. I do think it’s a main desk role, but I’m really anxious now knowing that it’s going to go on and on and on… Anything I should consider before I go in on Monday?

    1. fposte

      That would be a whole lot at my university. Our admin stuff is mostly civil service, so that doesn’t really count, but I’ve been involved in equivalent level hires and it’s usually phone screen, hour or so interview, meet manager.

        1. Academic Librarian

          This is not unusual if you will be interacting with different departments. It is also not unusual if this is entry level now but there is potential growth.

    2. it happens

      Remember, you’re interviewing them as well and they’ve already told you a lot about themselves with this marathon schedule. Your best preparation is going over your resume and their job description to make sure that you can tell a concise story about how you’ve handled anything they’ve asked for. Maybe have a mental list of the three most important qualities you’re looking for in a work environment/job – and then look for how this place rates on them.
      Be on time, be yourself, good luck

    3. Rowan

      In my experience, not typical but if there is one class of people on this planet you can rely upon for bloated and unnecessary bureaucratic processes it’s universities! Remember it’s a point-scoring exercise and write the most important things you want them to know about you and make sure you communicate them. If they like you more than someone else but you fail to mention that you’re great at important job responsibility A and their second choice does mention it, they might have to hire the second person. Good luck!

    4. cuppa

      I’ve learned that interview length has nothing to do with seniority. I’ve done interviews like this for part-time, low-wage jobs, and 30 minute interviews for management positions. It just depends on the culture and their interview process. It is good that they gave you an itinerary, though! To me, it shows that they take their hiring process seriously and are considerate of their candidates.

      Good luck!!

    5. Anon for this

      Hi there! I’m an admin assistant at a university. I did meet with a committee (Chairs from each of the Departments I’d assist + Dean), with just the Dean, and I went on a campus tour…and I was an internal candidate! The whole shebang took about as long as you estimate. There wasn’t a test for me, so I don’t know what that would entail. I think you should prepare for it like any other interview.

      Alison’s guide (the free one, in the right hand column) outlines what to do really well. I know it seems daunting to have ALL THE INTERVIEW ACTIVITIES, but this is a chance for them to interview you AND for you to see what they’re all about. I would have loved to have met with another admin, especially someone at my level. I think there have been posts on what to ask potential peers, but I can’t for the love of me think of what they are right now…

      Good luck! I hope it goes well for you :)

    6. The Strand

      No, it’s not typical, an hour or so is more typical, but maybe the job requires unusual skills (such as an assistant to a VIP – sounds like you could be meeting with a dean), or you’ll be working with multiple departments or groups.

    7. Melissa

      I don’t know if it’s typical, but I’ve done several all-day interviews myself! Academics really like long, multi-part interviews.

      Don’t let the itinerary make you more nervous – I remember the first time I got an itinerary and I was like ‘holy crap’. It’s actually a good thing, because you know what order things will happen in, and who you will see.

      If they’re smart they will have scheduled you in some breaks in between. If they have not scheduled you breaks, ask to go to the bathroom, even if you don’t have to. You can take 5 minutes in the bathroom to decompress, splash water on your face (if you’re wearing makeup maybe bring some water in a spray can?) and breathe. Don’t be shy about asking for water, too! (Although usually they’ll offer it.) If you’re prone to low sugar or migraines you might want to bring a granola bar or something. Me, the stress starts getting to me and I usually need some sugar to perk me up. The last interview I took some Excedrin Migraine right before the interviews started because I KNEW I’d have a migraine by the end of the day. (Aaaaaand my interviewer walked in while I was taking it. I was momentarily embarrassed, but he said he got them too!)

      If you know who you are meeting ahead of time, maybe make yourself a little “cheat sheet” to remind you who they are and some basic credentials. Wear something with pockets, and keep it in your pocket, so when you go to the bathroom you can take a quick look before your next interview.

      Also, in my experience interviewers have never looked down on me for bringing a small notebook with all my questions written down, and so I can take notes. (In fact, one of my interviewers complimented me on it last time, lol.) When you’re going to be there all day, it can be hard to remember what you wanted to ask, so if you don’t already bring them you might want to bring one!

      I agree with everyone else in that these longer interviews give you a chance to ask all the questions you wanted to know, and maybe even ask the same question from different people to get different perspectives on the answer (I asked several people what the culture was like on the team, and got similar answers, which was a good sign). In 30-45 minute interviews I often feel like I don’t get to ask everything I wanted to, but by the time a full-day interview is over I sometimes feel like I’m running out of things to ask!

      1. Melissa

        By water in a spray can I meant like one of those little travel Evian bottles beauty stores are starting to sell.

      2. Shannon

        All of this.

        I’d also do some basic research on each department listed that you’ll be interviewing with. If a department has its own social media page, I’d glance over it just to know what they’ve been up to lately. I’d probably make up a few dossiers on each department. “The Department of Tea Pot Medical Science is headed by Dr. Jane. Dr. Jane has made a career out of studying tea pot crack repair. The department has an interdepartmental tea time at 3 on Thursdays.”

      3. Slimy Contractors

        These are such good suggestions–thank you for writing all this down. A cheat sheet in the pocket is brilliant–I’m rotten with names.

    8. april ludgate

      That’s the type I had for my current job at a college. It was three hours and included a building tour, a committee interview, a campus tour, an interview where anyone in the department could come in and ask me questions, and a meeting with the dean. Also, no one warned me that it would be so involved, I should have asked how long it would take but it was my first time interviewing for professional jobs and I didn’t even think of asking.

      All of my advice is more practical than interview-based, but here it is: Find out about the parking situation before you go, a lot of colleges have designated lots for visitors to campus, so make sure you know where to park and if you have to pay/obtain some sort of permit to park there. And definitely arrive early to make sure you have time to find your way from wherever you park to the building you need. Wear comfortable shoes if it seems like you might be walking across campus, or in case they decide to give you a tour. Dress in something that won’t make you too warm in case they do bring you outside for a tour, or to walk to another building for a different section of the interview.

    9. Ama

      If you’re really going to be working with/supporting all the people you’re meeting, it might not be so bad. When I was in a similar position, I actually wish I had met the big boss and some of the faculty I’d been supporting (I interviewed with only the admin director and two coworkers in the administrative department), as I would have had a much better idea what the job truly entailed — they inadvertently gave me the impression most of my job would be admin support with very little faculty support when it was much closer to a 50/50 split.

      When we hired a new admin director, it was definitely an all day thing — maybe they just haven’t interviewed for a lower level position in a while?

      1. some1

        As an admin, I agree. Being a good fit to the team on both sides is so crucial for admin roles.

    10. twig

      I work at a university in an admnistrative position, and while my interview wasn’t like this, I’ve coordinated interviews for Administrative Faculty (In my case, usually IT related positions such as server admin or data warehouse analyst).

      For us, the purpose of these long interviews is so that everyone who will be working with the candidate will get a chance to meet them. Department meetings (IE meet with the critical systems group) are fairly casual — and a great opportunity for the candidate to ask about day to day operations, how the area is managed etc. We look for someone who will be a good fit personality-wise as well as skill-wise. this is your chance to interview back — to make sure that the place is a good fit for YOU. Ask about management styles, day to day operations (What does a typical day look like) etc. This is your chance to get it from the horses mouth — rather than what the manager *thinks* the day to day is like (sometimes they know and sometimes they don’t)

      Be prepared to have multiple people ask you variations on the same question — it is not a trick or some interview technique — it’s just multiple people having the same curiosities. Don’t let that throw you off. If you end up repeating yourself, it’s not a big deal.

      And Good Luck on your interview!

    11. Former Higher Ed Admin

      I worked in admin for a large university in a former life. They required all admin staff to pass testing. It was spelling/grammar, filing (of all things – but this was a long time ago), and finally a typing test. Not sure if that’s what they mean by testing? You had to score a certain percentage on the tests to be considered. I think a lot of schools have moved away from this now, but I’m not surprised there are some hold-outs. Good luck! I loved working in higher ed!

      1. Academic Librarian

        I am seconding the prepare for the academic environment interview…
        In your bag that you carry with you…
        1. a notebook
        2. two mechanical pencils (pens leak, lose their caps)
        3. a protein bar
        4. headache, migraine medicine (what every your substance of choice)
        5. a small bottle of water- i think there are 4 ounce ones now
        6.bandaids, handcreme, lozenges, (no gum) breath mints
        7. small packet of tissues
        8. eye glass cleaner packet (if you wear glasses)
        9. list of who you are meeting with, titles, departments
        10. wet-wipes travel pack
        11. Two or three copies of your resume
        12. A page with three references and their contact information

        I think you can ask about the test- ask what topics will be covered.

  5. TCO

    Does anyone else ever worry that they’ve taken a job that’s actually a step backwards in their career growth?

    I started a new job about a year ago in a somewhat different field than where I had worked before. My office is very high-performing and holds ourselves to a ridiculously high standard. I’m used to being a top performer in past jobs, and that usually comes with quite a bit of autonomy to run my initiatives as I see fit. I’m a natural leader and strategic thinker, so it’s important to me to have some discretion in how I go about meeting my objectives.

    Here, I get so little autonomy, which made sense when I was new but seems ridiculous now that I’m a year in. I am told I am exceeding expectations, yet I’m so micromanaged. Probably 80% of what I write (e-mails, meeting agendas and minutes, reports—not exactly big stuff here) is reviewed by 1-2 people before it’s sent out. I don’t get the opportunities I used to for program management, public speaking, etc. In my volunteer life I’m getting recruited and paid to speak at out-of-state conferences. In my work life I go to many meetings where I’m expected to distribute agendas and take minutes, but not say much of anything. There are always higher-up coworkers in these meetings who get the “speaking parts.”

    This micromanagement has eroded my self-confidence and I worry that I’m actually progressing backwards in my leadership skills. I’ve always thought that my next job after this would be management-level, but at this rate I’m never going to get the experience and resume-builders I need to be ready for that. I can’t figure out why they hired (and paid a premium for) experienced employees with track records of leadership and success… only to squander our talents.

    I’m still trying to figure out what I want to tell my bosses and what opportunities to ask for, so I’m planning to discuss this with them once my thoughts are a little more collected. In the meantime, I’m just venting.

    1. kozinskey

      Are you in my job? I have so many of the same complaints you list here. My boss regularly tells me I’m a rockstar & am doing well, yet micromanages everything I do, even though I’m in a role that ostensibly should have a fair amount of autonomy. After a year and a half of this, I’ve accepted that I’m not going to get the experience I expected out of this job and that my next job will have to be something very different if I want to end up where I’m hoping to be in 1o years. I’m just waiting to hit the 3-year mark here before I start my job hunt, and I’m counting the days.

      It is really hard on my self-confidence and work habits to stay in this job, though. I absolutely feel your frustration & hope you can figure out a way to make the situation better.

      1. Carol

        I had a similar situation. I had finally had enough of being reminded of some extremely basic aspects of my job despite having been in the position for well over a year and never having made a mistake relating to those aspects I kept getting reminded about. I took the time during a review (while I was being praised for my accuracy) and told my boss that I was surprised to hear this because of all the micro-managing I’d been subjected to. I also told him I found it disconcerting and that I was somewhat offended to be told the same basic thing over and over when I had never once failed to do things exactly as I was told the first time. I don’t think he realized he was doing that and did back off on me after that conversation.

    2. Ad Astra

      Any chance you work in an industry that’s more heavily regulated than your past industries? In my current (newish) gig, everything I write goes through 1-2 people, and some things require more like 9 people to sign off. The trickiest part is identifying who exactly needs to sign off on a project, and I get that one wrong a lot because I don’t know everyone’s expertise quite yet. It’s frustrating, but I’m coming to terms with the fact that this company does everything by committee.

      1. TCO

        Nope, it’s not regulated… but many of our leadership come from a field that is, so this is “just their style.” They’ve all worked here 10-20 years and so can’t see that this level of perfection and micromanagement is abnormal and actually counterproductive.

        1. Ad Astra

          That makes sense. In my office, I often suspect that lower-profile projects don’t really need so many eyes on them, but I think the environment of constant regulation has shaped many of my coworkers’ (and especially supervisors’) work styles. Everyone in this office has a desperate need to know everything that’s going on the minute it happens, but none of them have enough time in the day to actually monitor each and every project, which leads to a lot of sitting around waiting on busy, important people to approve things that are really not that important.

          I try not to take it personally. Many of them are aware of how frustrating this setup can be and don’t want me to enable that behavior, but it can be tough.

          1. TCO

            You articulate this so well. The problem with my office is that our leadership doesn’t really see why this setup is a problem–they want to be enabled to continue this way.

            1. Ad Astra

              In my last job, I could pretty much do anything I want without approval, so it’s been quite an adjustment. On the bright side, I now have lots and lots of people around to catch any typos or mistakes before they ever see the light of day.

      2. edj3

        Yes, I wondered the same thing. My industry is highly regulated and so everything we produce is reviewed multiple times. Add in the can’t miss deadlines and it can look like we’re micro managing when we’re not. It’s just required scrutiny.

    3. steve g

      I left a job after a month this year because of the same thing. They knew damn well I was managing a whole portfolio of customers + spoke at some conferences + fought a few regulatory cases (as an analyst because they were numbers-driven cases)….yet they didn’t even let me do the same level of work as when I was entry level at the competitor. Such BS. I’m still PO’d.

    4. Beancounter in Texas

      I think highlighting to them that you’re very comfortable and eager to get back to XYZ tasks of Former Job at Current Job and how you think it can benefit the company may put you back on their radar.

      My current boss was so focused on hiring a beancounter with expertise in QuickBooks, that he completely overlooked my experience with HR responsibilities (common in small businesses). So when I asked him to hand over the long-overdue HR project he kept promising to complete, he was blindsided by the fact that I had some HR knowledge that would be useful to him! By his reaction, I would swear (to this day!) he didn’t even read my resume. But he had to of read it – he just flat ignored anything outside of the scope of the beancounting job as he envisioned it.

  6. petpet

    I’m so frustrated with my boss I could cry. I approached him about a promotion last November and he told me he definitely saw me growing into a higher role and we’d discuss it during performance reviews in March or April. In mid-April, I asked when we were doing reviews and he said by the end of May. He completely forgot to do our reviews until I asked him, so they got done in early June. He told me he had official approval to submit my promotion paperwork but it would take “a couple months” to fill out. This week, six weeks after that, I asked for an update. He hasn’t started the paperwork at all and said his goal is to submit it by the end of August so it’ll go through in September or October. OCTOBER.

    If he had told me last November that it would take nearly a YEAR for this to go through, I would have had a talk with him about my expectations. Instead, every time I ask him about it, I get told “in a couple months” and a pat on the head. And I just smile and say thank you because I don’t think I can tell him about my frustration without getting incredibly flustered and emotional. My morale is in the gutter and I’ve been trying to find another job basically since I started here two years ago, but no luck yet.

    1. LadyMountaineer

      You may not like this answer but you probably need to leave. I just promoted out of my division instead of within because my boss did exactly this. See if you can do a lateral transfer–something. GTFO!

      1. petpet

        That’s definitely what I want to do. I’ve never been satisfied with my job – I finished a master’s degree in Teapot Design and the only job I was able to land was this one, where I’m a Teapot Assistant 2. I’m trying to get promoted to Teapot Assistant 3, which is still depressingly low-level compared to what I want to do, but it’s at least a little more money.

        I thought when I took this job that it would be a stopgap until I found a Real Career Job, but two years later, here I am. I did have a promising phone interview recently, so all my fingers are crossed for that job.

    2. Hlyssande

      If you check back at the end of August and he still hasn’t done it, it sounds like he’s not actually intending to do it at all. There have been more than a few letters where bosses have been stringing employees along and this sounds depressingly familiar to that.

      :(

    3. Bend & Snap

      My old boss did this to me and I gave my notice the day he finally promoted me. Served him right jerking me around. Good people wi find other opportunities if employers don’t keep their word.

      I hope you find something else soon.

    4. AndersonDarling

      I wonder if your manager is procrastinating because promotions only go through in October and completing the paperwork sooner won’t make a difference.
      It stinks.

    5. AdAgencyChick

      Sadly, this is SO NORMAL. It shouldn’t be, but promotions and raises often take SO LONG to get through because the boss’s priority is to do whatever projects she has on her plate, not push raises and title changes through. Except that part of her job as a manager is to push it through!

      Good luck finding another job — because I think that’s what it takes with most managers who drag their feet like this.

  7. Retail Lifer

    I’m scheduled for a second interview for a leasing position with an apartment complex (slight pay cut, questionable neighborhood, not sure about the benefits, but an easy commute!) and I have a phone interview for a customer service manager for a company that, according to its BBB reviews, is about as sketchy as they come. Apparently good pay and benefits, though, and it’s REALLY close to me. Beggars can’t be choosers. I’d take either one if offered.

    1. I'm a Little Teapot

      :-/ That’s frustrating.

      If you end up having a choice, go for the leasing position. Working for a company with a reputation for sketchiness might make you look bad, unfortunately.

        1. Retail Lifer

          The leasing job has a few bad reviews on Glassdoor but it’s no worse than my current company. The one with the bad BBB rating has mostly good or decent reviews from employees on Glassdoor, strangely enough.

      1. anon for this

        If you are talking about a professional reputation, I can tell you after being let go from a company that has a horrible reputation in my industry, interviewing with respected companies and orgs was actually easier, because they assumed I left because it’s such a poo-show.

  8. determined

    Have you ever gotten a job offer – a decent one in fact – but you had to turn it down?

    Last week, after months of searching, I got an offer. I really liked the work and the people, but taking the job would have meant working more hours, no 401k, and slightly higher health insurance. I turned it down.

    I’m currently employed but ready for the next step. It’s encouraging to know that I’m employable but it’s painful to feel like you are so close but still so far.

    1. AndersonDarling

      I kinda think that is awesome. It means you value yourself highly and are secure in your career goals!

    2. Elizabeth West

      YES.
      I got an offer before I found this job for a position in a field I wanted to work in (criminal court), with potential bosses I really liked (who liked me). It would have opened up further possibilities and of course, the work would have been really interesting.

      The pay, including money taken out for mandatory health insurance, was so low that after paying all my bills, I would have had about $14 left over at the end of the month. Raises were frozen and were not likely for another five years, if ever. If the insurance went up or I had any other expenses, I would have been screwed. And this was after I had cut all my expenses to the bone–it just wasn’t feasible.

      I felt awful about turning it down, but I couldn’t have lived on it. It wasn’t much more than unemployment.

    3. Retail Lifer

      A few years ago I turned down an otherwise great job offer (better pay, much more interesting work, some opportunities to move up) because the hours were slightly worse and the health insurance was $300 a month (I was paying about $90 at the time). It was the only offer I had received after months of searching but I just couldn’t do it. The benefits didn’t outweigh the negatives enough.

    4. Ama

      I may have told this story here before, but my dad was approached by his current firm ages ago with a partner track job that would have been a huge step up in his career, but would have meant long and unflexible hours that would have seriously impacted his quality of life, and the benefits were lower enough than his then-job that the pay increase wasn’t really that much. So he told them no thanks, but also said he’d be interested if they’d ever consider adding a non-partner track position with that set of responsibilities.

      Three years later, they came back with the exact position he’d asked for. He’s been there almost twenty years now.

      1. Not So NewReader

        In the 1950’s, my dad turned down a job doing the blue prints for Locally Famous Place. The reason, they offered to pay him by giving him a car. He already had a car, he wanted cash. He turned the job down and that must have been the right move. It never dawned on the people to liquidate the car and hand my father the cash. Now how hard would that be? My father felt it was indicative of other problems in the future.

    5. S

      Yep. I’d only been searching for about a month, but I got an offer– top of their range for that position, good benefits, decent hours, and I really liked the people I interviewed with. I just couldn’t make myself take it because it would require staying in the city I was in, and I just could not live there anymore without wanting to scream. Not to mention the pay was still too low for me to have any savings in the 2nd highest COL region in the US.

      I ended up taking a job that paid even more in my hometown (slightly lower COL) with similar benefits, a shorter commute, but longer hours.

    6. Solid B student

      I recently turned down a job that I REALLY REALLY wanted to take. Good job, good people, good supervision. The emotional me wanted to take it. The analytical me realized that it probably would not be the strategic or financial move. Sadly, I declined. I still have (small) regrets.

    7. Sara

      Yeah, I had to do this a couple of weeks ago. I really liked the boss and team members I got to meet with, and the position was very much in line with my career goals, but it was a five-month temporary assignment with a weird pay structure during the initial 60-day probation period. Overall, the net pay over the length of the assignment was comparable to what I make now, but the probationary rate would have left me about $600 short each month over those three months – so even though I’d make that up with the significantly higher, post-probation rate, it just didn’t seem responsible to commit to three months in the red. (Also, the job was temporary, and for all that I’m ready to move up in my career, I’m not really interested in being on the hunt for another new job come December.)

    8. over educated and underemployed

      Yes, earlier this month. I was excited about the position itself and it would have been a huge move up for me, but it would have had really serious work life balance issues that I decided I didn’t want to take on with a relatively young baby, and when I got the offer itself it was for a lower title and pay than I’d been told while interviewing, but same responsibilities. I am really hoping it means I can be competitive for other positions that might be less perfect on paper but better for my life overall.

    9. Silver

      Last year when the maternity leave contract I was on was coming to an end I interviewed for a company in the same field with a very famous CEO. They offered me slightly more money but there were so many red flags during the interview process that I ended up turning them down (with nothing else in the pipeline).

      6 months later I have a permanent job with a company I was doing the maternity leave contract for as someone else decided to leave. So so happy I said no.

  9. edj3

    Help!

    I manage a fairly large team, and I’ve been with the company just a couple of months now. We are up against some inviolate deadlines and my team has been working insane hours to meet the deadlines.

    While I can’t change the deadlines, and in fact had nothing to do with the work planning process that got us here, I would still like to do something that might help my associates know that I see how much they’re working (and we won’t do this again, not if I have anything to say or do about it).

    So what advice do you have from either side of the desk? If you’ve been on a team like this, what would have helped you feel appreciated while you were working such crazy hours? If you’ve managed a team like this, what have you done that helped with morale?

    1. Apollo Warbucks

      Would it be possible to order dinner for the office when everyone is working late?

      Also look at giving them a couple of comp days when the deadline has passed, so they can relax a bit.

      1. Beancounter in Texas

        +1

        I love food, so free food really boosts my spirits. Do more than just order pizza though. Get a good restaurant to cater it.

    2. Brett

      Food. Get them really good food and have it brought into the office. (Make sure to ask around about any special requests so people can deal with dietary restrictions; it sucks to be the one person who cannot eat because of some issue with the food brought in). It is a great morale booster when dealing with long hours and it saves a ton of time that makes it easier to keep working. It can get a bit expensive, so be sure you have the budget or can handle the out of pocket expenditure before promising anything.
      If you end up working late night hours, be sure to schedule in some downtown. When we have 24 hour shifts, the late night people appreciate getting a 30-60 minute break to watch a tv show or sports event.

        1. Nanc

          When you’re alone and life is makin’ you lonely you can always go . . . Downtown! (you know someone was going to say it–and great, I’ve just given myself an earworm)

    3. Amber Rose

      Coffee/food if possible. When we’re in a crunch and skipping breaks, the boss tries to bring in sandwiches or pizza or something.

      If that’s not feasible because of how many people you have or the cost, a quick email or announcement of gratitude is fine. If it’s sincere, a thank you tends to cheer people up.

    4. Bend & Snap

      Comp time after the fact or as needed. Be very generous with time off! Nothing sucks more than working 80 hour weeks and then havjng to use pto

    5. anonanonanon

      Can you give them some “unofficial” vacation days to take after the project is finished? We just had our busy season at work and it required longer hours than usual and really tight deadlines. My boss’ boss gave each of us a few “unofficial” vacation days, which was nice.

      If that’s not an option, food is always great.

    6. cuppa

      These are all great ideas. The other one I would say is single people out and tell them that you know how hard they’re working and that you appreciate it. Do not send a generic floofy email to the whole team.

    7. Ad Astra

      I see some good ideas already, but here’s my suggestion: While the craziness is going on, make it a point to thank people and acknowledge the craziness somewhat informally. If you can do anything to make the employees’ lives easier (bring in food, provide taxi service home, loosen the dress code, maybe tell them to cancel or ignore some of the daily/weekly tasks that don’t need immediate attention), absolutely do it and make it clear that you’re doing this as a thank-you for their hard work.

      Once this is all over, have a meeting or send out a formal email thanking them again, and tell them what you’re doing to prevent this situation from happening again. Then, if you can get them comp time or a paid day off or something, do it.

      1. Ama

        Yes — I didn’t realize how big a difference this made until I got to my current employer where they actually make a point both during and after our busiest times to acknowledge that X,Y, and Z project have everyone working incredibly hard, they know it’s been rough, and they really appreciate it (this is also usually followed in an email announcement by “Also there are snacks in the breakroom!”)

        Coming from a place where I often felt like even the people who thanked me for my work didn’t have a clue about half of my workload, it’s amazing how huge a difference just being super specific in your praise helps.

      2. S

        Yes to the dress code thing. My old job adhered to “tech-casual” dress codes, so working late nights was never too uncomfortable (I made sure to wear soft-denim jeans on those days), but I imagine that for anyone working in business casual or even business formal dress, being able to loosen the tie, take the jacket off, maybe slip into the bathroom to put on a looser top, would be really appreciated.

        I offered to help out at an off-site event an hour away once. My manager was leading the event as a separate project from our usual work; I didn’t get home until past midnight. She gave me permission to come in at 11 the next day. I don’t think she could’ve thanked me in any other way that would’ve been more appreciated.

      3. zora

        I would say more than just an email thank you, a printed letter or even notecard thank you to each person. It’s even better for me to be able to stick that on the bulletin board over my desk and have the visual reminder of that time I was really appreciated for kicking butt.

    8. The Cosmic Avenger

      Yes to everything everyone has said so far. I just wanted to add that food doesn’t have to be meals. We often have an abundance of Costco-sized assortments of snacks sitting around when we have to work nights and weekends, and for a lot of people, it helps keep them focused if they aren’t starving in between meals.

    9. FJ

      +1 on the food and ‘unofficial’ vacation days once it’s done.
      And, be generous on vacation days the rest of the time. If there are crunch times, be really flexible when it’s not crunch time.

      Also, when I’ve been working long hours, occasionally my managers have been in the office or on the chat system then too, and just hearing a “I know it sucks, but thanks for all the hard work” – especially at 10pm or whenever late hour when I’m working… that goes a long way.

    10. The Strand

      Coffee, breakfast if they come in super early (e.g. 6 AM), dinner if they’re there late (past 6).

      Give them a break at some point that allows them to laugh a little for fifteen minutes. YMMV, but it could be funny hats or toys. Silly Putty went over big in my office.

    11. AdAgencyChick

      Does everyone have to work late every night, or is there a way to rotate who stays late so that everyone is able to have one or two normal workdays per week? If there’s a way to make that happen, I think people really appreciate having an evening of break.

      If you can’t — let them order food, and don’t hold the budget to just pizza or sandwiches. Spot bonuses if you have the budget. A drawer filled with snacks that people can dip into when they need it.

    12. ginger ale for all

      I second the food idea and also send out personal e-mails or notes of appreciation to the team and let them know that you have noted how hard they are working and will be placing a note in their files so when the yearly evaluations start, they will have that brownie point in there.

    13. Lucky

      I think the food/treat suggestion is a good one, but also maybe you can insist that everyone take a break for an hour or even a half hour to just walk around and unplug. It doesn’t even have to be everyone leaving/unplugging at the same time, but make sure everyone knows that they can *and should* take a mental break. I’ve worked those insane hours to get a project done, and having even 15 minutes to walk around the building helps to keep focus and keep going.

      1. ThursdaysGeek

        Taking breaks means that more work can be done, not less. By working insane hours, they’re already working less efficiently, so encourage the breaks, since that will at least help.

      2. Shannon

        Don’t “insist.” Do offer. If I’m working long hours, I don’t want to feel forced into taking a break I may not want to. An hour long mandatory break would just make me angry, because I want to do my job so I can go home. I’d rather have the option of having an hour long break or four fifteen minuet breaks. Your workers are adults, give them opportunities, don’t mandate it (unless you are legally required to do so).

      3. zora

        I don’t think it’s exactly ‘insisting’ but I had one project where the lead did ‘5 minute dance breaks’ .. blasted music and we all danced around for 5 minutes. It was hilarious and energizing and just contributed to a good feeling of us all being a team and being supported by our manager.

    14. GOG11

      Everything that’s been offered up by others is wonderful, so I have nothing to add there, but I do want to say huge kudos to you for being the kind of boss who recognizes and rewards hard work. You’re awesome, and we need more bosses like you.

    15. Frances

      All these suggestions are great! If I were on your team, I’d also love it if you were passing word up the chain of command about the work we were doing – in my organization that sort of visibility is key to promotion, so that could have real long-term impact on your staffs’ careers.

      1. Ad Astra

        Great point! If your company has an intranet blog or a newsletter or something, be sure to share some information about the Big Huge Project your department is working on, and then share Big Huge Project’s successes when it’s all over.

        Edj3, the fact that you’re bothering to ask for suggestions at all shows you care and are probably at least an ok boss to work for. Making sure your employees know that you care about their quality of life and appreciate their hard work will earn you a lot of loyalty and defuse a lot of frustration among your team.

      2. Jillociraptor

        Yes. When I was in this position, the best thing our project leader did was have senior leaders send us all emails and voicemails to thank us and recognize us. It meant so much to know that my work was visible to senior leaders on other teams and our CEO.

    16. MaryMary

      Food and comp time/additional flexibility would be great, and I agree with the folks that said to thank people and to be specific. I’d also cc your bosses on the thank you note, so it’s not just thanks, it’s positive feedback documented to the people who decide their raises and bonuses. If you can work it out, have some of the big bosses stop by to acknowledge the team too. It’s great that you as their immediate manager recognize their hand work, but it’s even better if leadership does too.

    17. HM in Atlanta

      If there’s anyone on your team not pulling their weight, hold them accountable and do it quickly. If you have to fire them, do it. If someone on another team, that’s doing stuff you need is doing crappy work, kick it back to other team’s manager. Don’t let your team have to do that team’s work as well. If it causes business problems for the other team’s manager, that’s life. Work as much/more than your team (you probably are, but just in case). The workload will still suck for you and team, but you be a very strong team. As a new manager, you will have made your case for delivering to the business AND supporting your team.

      1. edj3

        Great advice–thankfully, we have strong performers but yes, there’s opportunity for improvement with some systems so that’s a conversation I need to have with the group that owns the system.

    18. edj3

      Thank you so much for these thoughtful replies.

      To answer some of the questions, no, this isn’t shift work. We are delivering products so the hours are driven by that, not by needing to have butts in seats for set hours. Historically, early summer has been absolutely awful for the team in terms of workload, and then more manageable at other times of the year. Now that I can provide data about the utilization rates of my team (and the associated costs tbh), I should have plenty of backing to level out the workload year round. We’ll never be twiddling our thumbs but we don’t need to have everyone on the brink of stroking out either.

      You guys have some great suggestions which are also confirming that I’m on the right path. I’ve been using our internal recognition program liberally, and letting my team know that while I can’t change the current insanity, I will do everything possible to never be in this position again.

      I love the idea of Costco sized snack packages, so I’ll grab some this weekend. They know they can work from home pretty much any time as long as that works for them completing the projects, and I’ve canceled or excused them from some of the meetings which would interrupt them when they’re hitting their groove.

      The last week in July is big for us—I think I’ll throw us a party after we hit our deadlines. And don’t worry, introverts, I don’t mean a party that would make you cringe. I just mean a celebration with ice cream or something.

      1. Teacher Recruiter

        “letting my team know that while I can’t change the current insanity, I will do everything possible to never be in this position again.”

        This. In addition to all the other great ideas, you’re smart to make sure and lay out why they won’t be in this position again. You don’t want to lose your top performers who think there will never be light at the end of the tunnel.

      2. zora

        oh totally, being excused from less-urgent meetings is HUGE! Well done on that one.

        And here’s my vision of a perfect “party”.. You announce “Friday afternoon 12-5 is our Thank You Party. You put on music in the office, have food put out, maybe even some games or activities people can do. But also it’s in the office, so each person’s level of participation is voluntary. Some people like to hang out the whole time. But I like the option of hanging out, eating some food, and then taking snacks back to my desk and catching up on work for a while. And people have permission to just leave early that day if I just want to go home, but eveyone is getting paid for 12-5 regardless.

        My biggest pet peeve is being told we’re having a ‘party’ but it starts at 5:30pm, bc they want to get as much work out of us as possible, but also cut into our actual personal time. Ugh.

        1. Artemesia

          If I have been working extra long hours — and I have done that — then the last thing I want is a ‘party’ at work when I could be home doing what I want to do.

          1. zora

            Not sure if you are agreeing or disagreeing with me ;o) But that’s what I tried to say above, if it wasn’t clear, that I love when work parties are optional.

    19. Jill 2

      Comp days, 100%. That you are allowed to take at the first opportunity when things die down. They did this at my first job, and it spoiled me; I thought this was the norm everywhere.

      I’m currently a member of a team going through this right now, and I wish my manager and overall leadership would do more to even verbally acknowledge us. Comp days would be a miracle here; no one even takes vacation, so it’s not going to happen.

      We have one manager who is the only one that “gets” is. She has done lunch runs every day for our team, and for the people she manages, has become insanely protective of them and schedules them in shifts. As more work piles on, she holds firm and says we need to ask for more resources because her team is maxed out. She’s the ONLY one that does this. I would work for her in a heartbeat.

      1. Not So NewReader

        This is really important, be sure to tell your higher ups how awesome your team is. If you can give them meaningful specifics then relay that information, too.

        Show concern. This can be as simple as holding a door for someone with an armload of binders and papers. Or it can mean periodically checking to see that everyone has what they need. Wear the attitude of service- “you guys are knocking it out of the park, you need something I want to know immediately!” If you see bottlenecks forming within your group, go over and help that person who is having difficulty- if this is possible to do.

    20. Bun

      Don’t forget to let them see *you* working as hard as they are! Come in when they’re coming in, handle the smaller tasks so they don’t have to, make sure that admin work is routed through you so they can focus.

      Inject whatever you can into the project to make it feel like you’re all pulling together. On one particularly ridiculous project a few years ago, we set up a “Best Project Quotes” board and recorded the funny or particularly telling things people said during the project. At the post-mortem we held a Quote Reading and drawing for some silly, dollar-store prizes. Having an entry on the Best Quotes board became a sort of badge of honor, and it helped people keep perspective about the stress.

      1. Lia

        This this THIS. I work in an office that has a number of emergency, high-priority projects that require all hands on deck, and our boss stays here with us to help. It makes a BIG difference in morale to know he is here working as hard as we are.

        I have worked in offices where this was not the case (boss would bail right at 5, etc, while the rest of the staff stayed late) and it makes a difference.

        1. Not So NewReader

          Echoing- One project I had involved my department head, my supervisor and myself working on it. The crew worked like wildfire- they were so productive it was amazing. The message is subtle but it works- “Wow, this must be really important the boss is working WITH us.” The harder you work, the harder they will work.

    21. Clever Name

      Yes to food. And if you are able to do this, let them know that you will be putting a plan in place to prevent the last-minute rush. My company does a post-mortem on certain projects to determine what went wrong and how we can fix it moving forward. I really admire my company that they can basically say, “We screwed this up, and here is how we will ensure that this doesn’t happen in the future”.

      1. Not So NewReader

        Post-mortems are a great idea. Let people know you are interested in doing this and ask them to each come up with one solid idea for improvements for the next time. Don’t make it mandatory. Keep it light and easy. They will blow you away with what they think of.

  10. Pill Helmet

    I applied for a job a while back and got through the first round. At the time they were just fielding candidates for future openings and keeping them on file. They just got back to me and said there is an opening, but I’m no longer available. My husband is available though and he is actually more qualified than I am for this position.

    He wants to apply but the job is no longer posted. Would it be out of line to give him the email address of the woman I am corresponding with so he can contact her and send his resume? If not, do I mention anything about this to her? I’m thinking I should stay out of it beyond giving him the contact.

    1. fposte

      I’d go the other way around (and would have done it at their letting me know about an opening)–“I’m not available, but my husband works in this field and not only has the Steeping Credential but also Lid Certification–would you like his contact info?”

      In other words, you give the employer the option of contacting your husband rather than sharing the employer’s information without their approval.

      1. zora

        This, but I wouldn’t just “ask” and then have to have another round of emails to get the info. I would edit this to say “I’m not available, but my husband works in this field and not only has the Steeping Credential but also Lid Certification–I have attached his resume and contact info if you are interested.”

    2. KJR

      I don’t think there’s any harm in passing along her e-mail address, and explaining how he got it. As an HR Manager, I would appreciate getting the resume of a qualified person in my in-box if during a search. I certainly wouldn’t be offended by it. I don’t think you really have any to lose here. Good luck!!

  11. Making the Jump to Manager

    My team is undergoing some restructuring, and as a result, we are adding two mid-level positions that will have some mentoring/supervisory responsibilities. The positions are only open to internal candidates, so my peers (there are 6 of us) are essentially all interviewing for these promotions.

    I don’t have direct supervisory experience (though I have related exp.), and am hoping to make a good case during my interviews. Has anyone else successfully navigated this jump? What questions can I expect? Any useful language that I can employ?

    1. FJ

      I’m trying to make this jump too, to an official manager position. Curious to see the other replies too!
      I sorta made it once before, from being a regular engineer to lead engineer for a major project, but it wasn’t a formal process. Have you been a lead on any projects? Especially for an internal promotion where upper level managers would know you, being able to highlight that you were lead on xyz project and you would be a good lead full time seems like a good angle to take. I would also try to highlight problems that you solved (someone being late, difficult coworker, etc) , if you think you’d encounter those sorts of problems again.

      1. Making the Jump to Manager

        Good ideas! I have been a lead in a couple of areas, as well as having provided some innovations to the team that have helped us all be more efficient. I already had those on my list to talk about, but I like the way you framed it here, and think I could tweak the language to make it seem more managery.

        Is the opportunity to jump up for you impending, or something you’re still looking around for? Either way, hope you’re able to make the jump soon!

    2. Bun

      I did this about 4 years ago. The questions in the interview were mostly about typical management situations:
      – How would you handle employee performance issues?
      – What do you see as the biggest challenges facing the new team?
      – What would you want to implement or improve in your first year in the position?

      Take a good look at what the new team is all about and the work that they will be done, and really think about how a manager can set that team up for success. Maybe the team needs better documentation or SOPs, or maybe they could benefit from partnerships with another department. Maybe they just need someone to be their front line of defense, or their liaison with another area.

      I got the position not by saying all the right manager-speak words, but by knowing the work and the people I would be supervising, and being honest and factual about how I would approach the position.

      1. Making the Jump to Manager

        Thanks for the advice! I like the questions you mentioned. I’ll have to think of some good responses to those.

    3. Powered by eight nuclear-heated Pratt and Whitney NP-4051 turbojets

      I became a manager earlier this year, and so far it’s going well[1].

      I guess it depends on your corporate culture, but at my company many people wish to actively avoid a management role. I did so myself for many years, but awhile back I decided that it might be worth trying it out[2]. I bring this up because a question you may wish to ask yourself is: are you sure you want this job? Do you know what the job entails? For that matter – are all 5 of your peers highly motivated to get this job? Is there a chance that there are two roles to fill, but you might be the only person interested in taking such a role?

      I did not have to compete to get a management role; instead, it was a matter of waiting until such a role opened up somewhere. However, this is not to say that they hand out management jobs to just anyone. I’ve worked for my company for many years, and my management knows that a) I’ve been in many Project Lead and other ‘leadership’ roles over the past umpteen years, b) performed well at it, plus c) I’m generally considered to be very good at the technical aspects of the job, and d) I have a reputation for being good with people[3] and e) trustworthy enough to be handed a chunk of responsibility. These things put me on the “minimally acceptable” list for management candidates.

      Obviously, the responsibilities that come with a manager job can vary quite a lot depending on your company and the kind of work you do. But at my job it really boils down to something like the reasons I listed above. Or allow me to attempt to restate it as: leadership experience plus being good at your job plus people skills.

      From the little I know about your circumstances, my guess is that previous leadership experience will count for a lot, as will your reputation for being good at your job. I mean, think about it from management’s point of view: they’re looking for someone they can trust, that they believe will be successful at the job. If you are really in a situation where 6 people are competing for 2 jobs and none of them stands out experience-wise, then my suspicion is that the decision is going to rely heavily upon the opinion your management has of each candidate.

      I hope this helps a bit. If this is a case where your management (or whoever it is that is making the selection decision) has known you and the other candidates for a long time already, there may not be a whole lot you can do to improve your chances: you’ve either been acting like ‘management material’ for the past one or two or 5 years, or you haven’t, and there’s probably not a lot you can say in a one-hour interview to change that.

      [1] I asked for a salary bump along with the new job responsibilities, and they recently handed me a 5% raise. I’m interpreting this as a sign that they’re happy with my performance.
      [2] Reading AAM was definitely an influential factor.
      [3] Yes, really!

  12. TheExchequer

    I have been eagerly awaiting the open thread all week!

    I GOT A NEW JOB!

    They actually sent the offer last Friday, but misspelled my email. They didn’t notice until they called me on Tuesday to follow up.

    Said new job:
    – is closer to home
    – has benefits
    – pays more
    – does not (as far as I know) have people crazier than pants who are too overwhelmed to pay me on time

    Needless to say, I’m pretty stoked.

    I actually got super nervous giving my boss my two week notice! Want to know how he reacted? After asking if there was anything he could do to keep me, he asked me to push back my start date a week! Uh, no. In my world, favors like that are reserved for people who already think I’m perfect. ;) I tend not to give them out to people who make ridiculous commands like everyone else is allowed to make mistakes, but I am not. :P

    Now that the awkward part of telling my boss is over, I cannot stop smiling. July 31 is my last day here. Is there anything I should get or do for my new job?

    My family and I are going out to celebrate this weekend. It’s party time, people!

    Wooooooohoooo!

    1. Hlyssande

      Woohooo!

      Make sure to take some time between the jobs to take good care of yourself. Relax and give yourself a mini vacation (even if it’s just that weekend) so you start the new job fresh and ready to go. If it were me, I’d get a massage and maybe some new bits for my wardrobe if I could swing it.

    2. Laurel Gray

      Whoooo Congrats!

      And as far as anything you should do – RELAX between jobs! I don’t know if you have things to take care of related to wardrobe like dry cleaning or buying new work pieces/shoes or getting your car detailed but outside of that? RELAX! Do nothing! Watch TV/crack open a book/crack open a bottle(or case, no judgment here) of wine and RELAX! High five for not accommodating SoonToBeOldBoss’ request. This is all about you now! Good luck!

    3. NacSacJack

      Yeah!! Congratulations. Advice for leaving: Pack up your personal stuff at your desk early. Take a little bit home every day. Make sure HR has your contact information. Ask when your last paycheck will come through and whether it will be mailed to you or directly deposited. Ask when your first paycheck from your new company will come through. It can take up to a month to get paid by your new company. If your checkstubs are electronic, print off last year’s last check stub and all this year’s check stubs. Ask when you can expect to get paid for your remaining vacation. Remember that your vacation gets taxed at something like 42%. Its considered a bonus, not pay. Convert or don’t convert your 401K to your next employer or to an IRA, need to make that decision. Find out what your COBRA costs will be. Find out when you have to decide to take the COBRA. Find out when the insurance on your next company kicks it. It might not kick in for 60 days and I think you have to decide to take COBRA within 45 days. Clear out your personal emails from your email account. Clear out your C: drive and your network drive of any personal emails or documents. If you need them or want them, send them home. Delete the documents/emails and the folders. If you did any volunteering or party organizing, make sure someone else is taking over and that they have all the pertinent emails, documents, contacts and supplies. If you have any keys and a laptop, hand them to your boss on your last day in your last hour. Maybe take a picture of him holding the laptop showing the serial #. Hand your ID to security on the way out. Document they have it.

      1. BenAdminGeek

        You have 60 days to elect COBRA, and 45 days from the election date to make your first payment. So if you might need it but you’re not sure- wait 55 days to decide, then wait 40 days to pay. Then if your new benefits have kicked in and you didn’t need the coverage (and the gap is less than 3 months so you don’t trigger ACA penalties), you just don’t pay and you’re golden. And if you did need the coverage, then you pay for your COBRA and you’re golden. Win-win!

        1. Artemesia

          This is how we bridged my husband from when my insurance ended with my retirement until he was eligible for Medicare. He had the full coverage but we never had to pay for it because he never used it — and once he had medicare we could drop the COBRA.

      2. Ama

        This is such a good list! I’d add “make sure they tax any paid out vacation appropriately.” My last job did not — they basically just paid me as if I kept working, and as a result I had a $900 tax bill the following year

      3. Clever Name

        Yep. When I gave my notice at my last job, I didn’t bother clearing out all my stuff because I was busy with fieldwork. I really wish I had because when my boss called me into his office 3 days later to inform me they were accepting my resignation “effective immediately” I had to clear out my desk right then and there. It sucked, as I had a ton of stuff.

      1. TheExchequer

        The thought of them trying to get along without me is putting a wider grin on my face than it probably should. :D

  13. Brett

    A few weeks ago I mentioned that my employer was requiring all of us to switch our LinkedIn profiles to our work email address, and then blocking links out from LinkedIn career/job emails. Turns out this is not just about LinkedIn.
    I was brought into a social media meeting with the chief executive’s office, and now know where this is going. All employees will be required to switch their social media profiles to either their work email address or to gmail addresses created and owned by the chief executive’s office. (The list included Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Vine, Instragram, reddit, Pinterest, and YouTube.)

    For employees who generate any content for official social media channels, they will access their personal accounts via a third-party social media management application and IT will control their passwords. So they won’t know the passwords to their own accounts, and password resets will go through work email. I checked, and password reset emails for social media are now blocked, so social media password resets will have to go through IT.

    1. Bekx

      This is horrifying and I would be looking for a new job ASAP. My employer does not need to know the hair styles I try and fail at on Pinterest.

      1. HeyNonnyNonny

        Hahaha, my employer would not know what to do with all the Renn Faire costume pins!

        But yes, this is horrifying.

    2. NickelandDime

      So what happens when you no longer work there? You may not be able to access LinkedIn, etc…Did they say why they are doing this?

      1. Brett

        Sounds like it is mostly to prepare for sunshine law compliance, but also to prevent employees representing our employer (especially the chief executive) without authorization.
        The policy is not done yet, so I have not seen what will happen when employees leave. I assume those employees will have to have IT change the email address on their accounts after they leave and then reset their passwords; or maybe have IT reset their passwords for them and give them a temp password.

    3. Ask a Manager Post author

      WTF? What’s the reasoning?

      Am I remembering correctly that you work in a highly regulated government office with really restrictive regulations on other things? Is this somehow linked?

      I’d just say you don’t have Facebook, Twitter, etc. and then make sure they’re not findable.

      1. Brett

        Archiving for sunshine law is a huge part of the motivation. They are expecting new rules to come down from the attorney general that are going to requiring archiving every social media contact between employees and the public.

        I suspect the other reason is to make sure that any employee who generates social media content is tightly managed; and make sure that no one other than IT is in possession of any passwords that could lead to an account that leads to official channels.

        For some channels where you can have multiple profiles, like Pinterest and Twitter, this will not be so bad. For other channels where you can only have one account and that links to other business accounts, like LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+, and YouTube, it creates a nightmare where you no longer have password access to your personal account.

        1. fposte

          I think your work uses “governmental” as an excuse for crazy. You are, if I recall, a mid-sized Midwestern state, not someplace guarding launch codes; I also work for the government in a mid-sized Midwestern states and we don’t have to deal with any of the crap you do.

          1. Brett

            Looks like we have no legislation on this in our state, just three bills that died in committee.

            1. Lucky

              Well, check the T&Cs for the various social media sites then. LinkedIn is pretty clear: you can only have one account, your account belongs to you, and you agree not to transfer any part of your account. Also, you (or your employer as user) agree not to “use or attempt to use another’s account.”

              https://www.linkedin.com/legal/user-agreement

          2. Ad Astra

            Oh yeah, good point. Just because the law allows it doesn’t mean the folks at LinkedIn and Facebook allow it.

        2. Cristina in England

          I’m pretty sure this is VERY much against the TOS of these sites, it would be worth pointing that out as part of a group push-back. As someone pointed out downthread, wouldn’t this also constitute a potentially legally tricky prevention of you finding other work (if they are blocking LinkedIn stuff)?

          1. Elysian

            Yeah, not only are the TOS a concern, but I would think that if you’re a government employee this would create giant First Amendment Free Speech and Free Association problems. Like, crazy huge probably unconstitutional ones. Do you have a union?

            1. Not So NewReader

              Yeah, I was thinking freedom of speech, also. If they have the passwords they can post anything they want and make it seem like it came from you. Going to the union is a good idea. I was thinking of the attorney general or the ACLU, too.

              I’d find ways to fight this one, even if I had to stay under the radar, I’d fight it. It sets a dangerous precedent.

        3. Sunshine Brite

          They really don’t need to know when I do a workout, how many cat videos I watch, and how often I end up live tweeting along with one of the shows I watch (The Profit!). No one really does but it’s just supposed to be fun. Why do employers always have to kill fun?

    4. kozinskey

      Well that’s horrifying. Are employees allowed to have separate social media accounts for work and personal purposes? Whether it’s allowed or not, I would be tempted to start a fresh account (with a different name) and leave the work-controlled accounts to slowly fade away.

      1. Brett

        I _think_ they can, but certain networks do not allow this. LinkedIn and Facebook will be the big ones, since both networks ban having more than one account and actively enforce it.

      2. Blonde Lawyer

        There are some very public positions where everything you do even “off duty” is still considered as done in your official capacity. Namely, judges. Even “liking” a story could end up being a conflict of interest. In the past, most of them just stayed off social media but now as younger attorneys who already had a social media presence are becoming judges it is now more of a problem. I’m not saying that is what Brett is dealing with but I have heard about it being an issue in my state’s bar.

        1. Not So NewReader

          I think that telling them to stay off of it is not as bad as telling them to hand over their passwords.

    5. I'm a Little Teapot

      Wow. That is utterly horrifying and shouldn’t be legal, no matter *what* your job is. (And in some states it’s not – there are some states that ban employers from requiring employees’ social media passwords.)

      They’re basically stealing your entire Internet presence.

    6. steve g

      Hell no! I’m noticing jobs (usually through jobvite) that have a link to put your linkedin AND facebook pages there. Now why the heck does a potential employer need to look at the page I used to use to watch funny videos of my niece when she was a baby and keep track of my relatives in general?!?! Besides the privacy breach, irrelevance, don’t employers realize that many people aren’t into social media??? I don’t think I’m ever gonna get into it. I may write what I want here, but I don’t want to broadcast all of my issues to distant relatives, former coworkers, and people from HS!

      1. Ad Astra

        I assume the companies are interested in your Facebook “presence,” like the fascinating articles and insightful opinions your share with your “following.” A lot of journalists and marketers use Facebook to curate content and promote their stuff and create a professional image. But then, a lot of them don’t.

    7. Brett

      I did strongly express my objections to this policy, since it is not final yet.

      I think ultimately it will just be employees connected to official social media who have to follow this policy. If this includes content generators, though, then this is a huge number of people, most of whom are essentially volunteers doing content generation outside their normal duties. I expect nearly all of these people to “quit” those aspects of their jobs with the support of their managers. Just in our department, we have one official social media manager but about 30 people managing and generating content in some way. That social media manager is probably going to find herself on call 24/7 and spending huge amounts of time generating content instead of curating.

      1. zora

        The problem here is just an inability to adjust to a new function of technology. The aggregate effect of the internet (and some would say, it’s purpose) is to open up communication and the sharing of information. Any government just literally will never have the ability to actually control every byte of information and communication on it. It is literally impossible, by virtue of it’s design. And therefore they are going to waste a LOT of taxpayer resources trying to for absolutely no reason. This is completely out of step with the actual spirit of sunshine laws and government transparency. And besides people who really want to do illegal and unethical things and avoid scrutiny are always going to find a way to do that. Ugh, i have so much to say about this and how this is an example of the exactly wrong way to run a democratic government/society. I’m sorry you’re dealing with this.

        1. LCL

          The actual spirit of sunshine laws? In my state, the effect of sunshine laws is basically welfare for anybody with a little bit of legal education that is willing to work the system, and added bonus of harassment of public employees.
          I do comply with the law, but I think sunshine laws are a bunch of crap. Basically a hammer to hit government employees with.

          1. zora

            Yes, I mean the original spirit of sunshine laws which was to increase transparency to prevent backroom dealing and corruption. But yes, in most cases where they have actually been implemented, people with terrible intentions have twisted the concept for their own anti-government ulterior motives and they are horrible.

    8. Muriel Heslop

      That’s horrible! I am our social media manager and handle all of our accounts – I cannot imagine how that would work!

    9. Jerzy

      By taking over your LinkedIn accounts in this way, they are cutting off a legitimate opportunity for you to find new employment if you chose to seek it, and that’s messed up.

      I can understand being concerned about how employees may represent your organization on social media, and a lot of people have made a lot of mistakes in that regard, but I think this is crossing a line. If you want to track what your employees do online, follow them on their social media accounts. If your employer thinks it can cut off employees who are behaving poorly online from their accounts as punishment, then employees are just going to start to make shadow accounts.

      Bottom line, this is ridiculous, and you employers need to be told that.

    10. The Strand

      No, no, no.

      My last job, they wanted me to have a Facebook account. So I created a second one. I maintained my personal one and they were none the wiser. One of my friends uses the last name “Fill in the Blank”

      It’s one thing if they’re talking about the official social media channels, quite another in cases like LinkedIn and your personal accounts for the like.

      Create the kind of profile they want for your work email address and create/keep one that you maintain control over. Use a nickname, keep your last name removed entirely, whatever.

    11. Gene

      The question I would have to have an answer to in writing before they got access to my accounts is, “What is the policy to get my account back when I quit over this bullshit?”

    12. Elizabeth West

      To quote Will Smith, oh HELL no.

      What I do on my own time is my business, and I maintain an Internet presence related to my writing. So my blogs, Twitter, and Tumblr would be under THEIR control? F*ck no.

      Facebook is how I keep in touch with far-flung friends and family, and I have a Pinterest but rarely use it. But those are still MY PERSONAL accounts. I’m not sharing that with my job. I don’t even friend coworkers!!! I’d be job-hunting so fast it would make their heads spin.

      1. afiendishthingy

        Oh my gawd, I’m hyperventilating at just the thought of my coworkers looking at my Tumblr. NOPE.

    13. ginger ale for all

      If it is the account that you are using AS AN EMPLOYEE representing the company, I would just raise my eyebrows and see how that goes.

      But if it is YOUR PERSONAL ACCOUNT, NO NO NO . And I would be very interested in hearing a lawyers opinion as to whether or not that is legal. I think it isn’t legal but I am not a lawyer.

    14. EmmBee

      Yeah, they’re violating the terms of service for each of those platforms.

      I sort of see where they’re going with staff who work on the company’s social media accounts (I’m a VP of social media for a big brand). It’s weird, but I sort of see it. But it makes zero sense for the rest of the employees.

      How do your colleagues/peers feel about this?

      Honestly — if you work at a relatively big company, you should send an anonymous tip to someplace like Gawker. They’d love this story.

    15. I'm Not Phyllis

      That’s a big fat “no” from me. I’d rather not be on social media at all if it came down to it, then have to link everything to work. I try to keep my work and personal lives very, very separate and I would not be a fan of this at all.

    16. Charlotte Lucas

      So, when are they requesting the keys to your houses to look through your medicine cabinets and underwear drawers?

      I think that this is probably against all the terms of service for most SM accounts, and I’d try to contact the companies to let them know about it. Also, I’d delete my SM accounts.

    17. TheLazyB

      Wow that is so completely awful I can’t even.

      I would rather not have any social media than let my work have the password.

    18. zora

      This is so completely crazytownbananapants that I don’t know how they have room for anything else in those pants with all the bananas that are in there.

      I would just lock down all my accounts as completely private and be like, that’s it, you can’t even see my accounts, so they are none of your business, so tough patooties. What is wrong with people??!?! And how do they have jobs when I can’t find one? ;oP

    19. Artemesia

      This is the kind of abusive behavior that gets unnecessarily picky legislation created. This is so out of line. They are trying to essentially cripple your career development. How on earth is my facebook any business of the job? Surely they could have a policy about misrepresenting or embarrassing the workplace without going this far.

    20. Oh Anon

      Excuse my language, but F*$% THAT! I would just say I didn’t have any social media accounts.

  14. Malissa

    Interesting week. Not one but two opportunities came back around. Both are positions I had applied for last year. One was very nice and informative all the way through the process and even gave me a very nice rejection. I touched bases with the hiring manager and reapplied. I have an interview for the same position on Monday.
    The other one was one of the most bizarre interviews I’ve ever had. At the time they had no idea what they wanted. No idea what the position they were creating was going to do. And they asked me no less than 5 times if I was a military spouse. Never heard a word from them after the interview. They pulled my resume and called me to see if I might still be interested. But they have yet to set up an interview.
    So I’m hoping things go good on Monday, because at this point I’m not sure if I even want to revisit the second place.

    1. The Strand

      They asked you 5 times if you were a military spouse?

      That’s not a good sign. First off, it’s a EEOC question (http://www.eeoc.gov/laws/practices/inquiries_marital_status.cfm), because technically they are using your marital status (including who you are married to) against you. Unfortunately, the USERRA labor law, which has even greater teeth, doesn’t cover spouses, just veterans.

      Without knowing the rest of the background, I’d assume they were really saying, “We aren’t sure if we want to hire you, because we suspect you’ll leave the minute your spouse gets transferred.”

      If they “double-checked” once in the interview your status, that’s one thing, but asking you five times says to me they didn’t believe your answer the first four times. That indicates a lack of trust in you as an applicant when you’ve been honest with them. Bad news.

      As a former military spouse I think these kind of people are not the kind of people I’d want to work with anyway. Whether someone discriminates against military family members, while waving the flag and announcing their support of veterans, or more directly expresses stereotypical views of people in and associated with the military doesn’t matter. At the end of the day discriminating against family members is as unpatriotic and crummy as discriminating against anyone else.

      1. Melissa

        Well, they might not have been using it against her – there’s a chance they may have been asking it in her favor. Many companies use military spouse status as a point in your favor. (Former military spouse here too!)

        1. Malissa

          No, they seemed a bit concerned about how many times I’ve moved. Even though there were 10 years between each move.

  15. Bekx

    Guys my mom is feeling really discouraged. She got her degree in special education/intervention specialist in 2011. She had a brain injury as a child, and can really connect to kids. You can’t tell she has a brain injury now, but it does take her longer to process things and she has major anxiety and low self-esteem after bullying.

    She’s substituted full time for a year and a half now, and she was in a really rough school. They had to call security on the students often, and when I tell people where she subbed, I always got raised eyebrows. She liked the kids, and her fellow teachers. She applied for a permanent position and the HR manager told her they liked her, but overall she was too nice for the job.

    It’s destroyed her confidence. She keeps saying “Well, I wasn’t meant to be a teacher I guess….” and “I’m too nice apparently…no one will hire me.”

    Is there anything I can do or say that can help her with this? It breaks my heart because she wants to help her kids. She’s not the type to sit on her phone and think ‘Well, these kids are too stupid to learn!’ because she strongly believes they can.

    Is being nice not a good skill for a teacher? Was it just that school district? She’s nearing 60, and feels like that’s a huge obstacle as well. She worked so hard for this degree only to feel like a failure.

    1. teacher's daughter too

      Can she continue subbing but in another district/school? Subbing was how my mom got back into teaching after more than a decade off. She developed good relationships and then when a maternity leave came up, she got that, and then when a teacher left, she got the job temporarily and then permanently.

      I think the “too nice” comment is weird–did they mean that she doesn’t know how to keep order in the classroom effectively? Does she have a mentor from her degree program who could talk it through with her? I don’t think being nice is a problem in and of itself–it should be an asset!

      So sorry she is having trouble–best of luck!

    2. Academic Librarian

      “too nice” is a euphemism for “does not have classroom management skills” If the students are not listening, following directions, focussing on their work, completing their work, or spending classroom or one-on-one time goofing off, the teacher is not teaching and therefore not meeting her expectations. There is help and advice for that issue in multiple articles, blogs and journals. There may be other circumstances where her degree and aptitude are a fit- after school tutoring centers etc.

    3. fposte

      Oh, that’s frustrating for her, and discouraging for both of you; I’m sorry. “Too nice” may be the education way of saying “Not firm enough” (or at least “Not firm enough for this school”). But I think this sounds like counseling territory for her–she’s taking this setback really hard, and you say she’s got anxiety issues in general. There’s only so much help a daughter can give there.

      Somebody in education might have more information about what kind of help is available to an aspiring credentialed teacher, especially in special ed. But it could be that it’s a tough market, and in a tough market surviving the search is part of the necessary skill.

    4. SambaQueen

      As a teacher, I’d say being “too nice” is often what gets said when someone is a decent, kind person but lacks the ability to discipline and manage difficult classes/students effectively, leading to disruption in the classroom and a poor learning environment. Obviously I’ve no idea if that is even remotely the case with your mom, but that’s been my experience of that particular euphemism in a school context. Certainly given what you say about the challenges of that particular district, it is possible that she simply wasn’t strict or tough enough on the discipline aspect, or that her approach was at odds with the school administration’s preferred approach. Does she specifically want to work in that sort of challenging environment? Is there any chance she could substitute in an easier district, or work with smaller groups of kids in a specialised unit, or in some other setting where the discipline and classroom management aspects might be less demanding, to rebuild her confidence and show what she can achieve with the students? I’m in the UK so I’m not that familiar with how special education where she is would be organised. Also, here a new teacher would have a probationary year placement in a school to complete their training and be supported through their first year in a full time teaching position, but it doesn’t seem like that’s a thing in the US? Does she have a mentor in the professions who could offer advice and support? Has she been observed teaching by other more experienced teachers and received feedback? How did that go?

    5. Brett

      > Is being nice not a good skill for a teacher? Was it just that school district? She’s nearing 60, and feels like that’s a huge obstacle as well. She worked so hard for this degree only to feel like a failure.

      Unfortunately, age probably is an obstacle. At age 60, the district might be looking at her as a short-timer. With the way teacher contracts work, it is absurdly easy for a public school to illegally discriminate.
      When my wife left public school teaching, she not only found multiple teaching opportunities outside public schools, but eventually found a position with comparable pay and benefits. Your mother might want to look into some of the special ed specialist opportunities out there that involve 1:1 or close to 1:1 services, not just through public schools but also quasi-public and private tutoring/therapy services.

      1. Not So NewReader

        I agree that this could be more about age than anything. I think looking around at not-for-profits is an excellent idea. Somebody, somewhere will hire her. There is a huge need out there. Tell her to hang tough and look at a variety of employers, not just schools. There is no doubt in my mind that she will find something.

    6. Muriel Heslop

      I’ve been in public education for 20 years, and “too nice” is definitely code for “lacks classroom management.” In special ed “too nice” can also mean “overempathizes” as those teachers are often working with students who need a totally different benchmark than typical academic standards. At a school like the one you describe, classroom management skills are critical and far beyond most people, even credentialed teachers. It’s also harder to develop those skills when you are a sub without your own classroom and limited authority. Has your mom thought about a private school, special needs school, a preschool, a CDC or a early childhood program. She sounds like a kind and caring woman and we definitely need those in education!

      Please encourage her to stay with it and try subbing at a lot of different schools as well as other types of teaching like tutoring, literacy support, or perhaps even a parent specialist? We need people who are committed to our kids (and please give her a hug from me!)

      1. Bekx

        I’m trying to get her to teach in a charter school, she doesn’t seem to keen on that. I know she doesn’t like teaching for Kindergartners but likes her 2nd and 3rd graders.

        1. Muriel Heslop

          It’s a brutal market for teachers right now. And elementary ed is glutted. If she can get a foot in the door with a job (charter schools ARE schools) that would be great! I know a lot of people who have been searching for a long time for a permanent teaching job in a school with which they are happy.

          PSA: There is not a teacher shortage. With the deregulation and privatization of teacher certification, there are fare more teachers than jobs almost without exception.

          I taught special ed – it’s definitely not for the faint of heart – and I wish your mom the best! If she made it a year in a challenging school and still wants to teach, she needs to keep trying! We need people who won’t give up on our kids!

    7. Mimmy

      I’d say it was because of being in a “rough” school. When you’re dealing with that population, being tough but fair is probably the preferred trait. I know I wouldn’t survive in a school like that because I just wouldn’t have the backbone to push back on kids if they can’t get their work done or they do poorly on a test or assignment.

      But your mom’s district didn’t handle that well. They should’ve been more clear about the reasons for not bringing her on permanently. “Too nice” is just not specific enough. If it hasn’t been too long, could she go back to HR and get more feedback? She may not get it because of fear of a lawsuit (not saying your mom would sue them, just in general), but I don’t think it hurts to try.

      Others in the education field may have better advice, but my one suggestion for your mom is to not give up on her goals. Special education teachers are in high demand – it’ll probably just be a matter of finding the right fit. I also have anxiety and slowed processing (the latter due to a congenital condition), so I know first-hand the importance of fit.

      Just one caveat – and I say this with genuine concern – she is right to be worried about her age. It’s not impossible, don’t get me wrong, but age discrimination does exist. Has she reached out to the school where she got her degree in 2011? Or even talking with other alumni who earned their degrees at a later age?

      I hope everything works out for her!

      1. Mimmy

        Just read everyone else’s comments – yeah, you can ignore mine ;) Though I stand by my suggestion to talk with other alumni (last paragraph).

        Give your mom a hug for me too!!

    8. MaryMary

      I’d suggest that your mom ask the HR manager for specific areas in which she could improve, and then reach out to the principal or one of the veteran teachers for advice on specific actions to take. It’s crappy to give someone vague feedback like “you’re too nice.” Your mom has every right to ask for additional information, and it should reflect well on her that she wants to improve.

    9. Elizabeth West

      Her classroom management skills may be okay but not for that school in particular. You mentioned that it’s really rough–she probably would have to be more hard-line to keep order than she is comfortable with.

      Has she looked at teaching opportunities in other settings? Still with kids? I think someone below mentioned tutoring centers. Any other ideas?

    10. Bekx

      Thanks everyone. You all pretty much hit it on the head. She says classroom management isn’t her strong point and she is much better in small group learning than in large group learning. Usually with her focus kids are taken one on one, but most of her sub jobs weren’t just special education. I’m trying to encourage her to go into other school districts, but my parents are in some financial droughts right now and all she can focus on is how much the school district pays for subbing.

      Counseling…..I’ve brought it up….but she gets very offended when I do. She went to counseling as a child so I think she thinks it’s something that she doesn’t need anymore. That’s another subject. She also blames her heart medication on her anxiety.

      1. fposte

        Oh, how sad and frustrating. So she can’t look outside a small area, can only work in a pretty specialized setting, and won’t go to counseling. There’s not a lot of room for potential there, unfortunately.

        I don’t think this is something you can fix. And maybe some of this is just because you know she’s upset right now, but is it possible you get asked to do a fair bit of emotional management for your mom? You sounded protective in a way that seemed unusual to be for a healthy and competent parent.

        1. Bekx

          Maybe. I’m very protective of her. Like I said, she had a brain injury and was teased as a child. Her sister’s still kind of bully her in a way. Her coworkers (she works in a grocery store for her health insurance) bully her. Her brain injury means she can’t do things like write on cakes (the nerve ending damage makes her hands shaky) and the younger employees are very mean to her. Tell her to just practice and that she’s stupid. Her manager is incompetent. I’ve been trying very, very, hard to get her to leave but she needs to take things in little steps.

          I know from that paragraph it probably sounds like she has a lot of issues. But she is so strong. She’s survived the brain injury (coma for 6 weeks), breast cancer, and congestive heart failure. It’s a LOT to put on someone. Her cancer came right when she went back to school, and was a major set back. Her CHF came right when she was about to graduate. I do think the heart medication is causing a lot of her anxiety, and she’s spoken to her doctor about it….but she’s afraid that if she goes to counseling she’ll get put on an anti-anxiety medication and she doesn’t want that.

          I don’t think she’d refuse counseling if my dad really sat her down and told her about it. I think she thinks I’m insulting her when I suggest it. But also she’s working 6 or 7 days a week, has meh insurance, and is afraid of becoming like her sisters who are basically drugged out shells of their former selves from anxiety medications. Honestly, I’m probably going to share this with her, and I think me typing this out will make her think. Money is very tight, and that is probably her primary concern next to the others I stated.

          1. ElCee

            You really love your mom. It comes through so much. Best of luck to her and you as well.

            1. Bekx

              Oh jeez. Someone just started cutting onions in here. Thanks. I’m a brat to her, but I do. :)

          2. fposte

            You’re a good daughter, Bekx. Clearly she did very well at the job of being a parent.

          3. Panda Bandit

            Nobody can force her to go on anxiety medication. Her therapist may suggest it but this is 100% your mom’s choice. For the money problem she can do a search for low cost or sliding scale therapy in her city. If there are universities nearby that offer pysch majors they’ll usually offer sessions with a graduate student for a very small fee.

            My vote is for suggesting therapy to her in a very nice way. I’m doing talk therapy only and I’ve had fantastic results: greatly reduced anxiety and much higher self esteem.

            1. OfficePrincess

              And even if her therapist does suggest medication, it doesn’t have to leave her drugged out. Most doctors will start a patient on the lowest dose possible and work up, so taking something to take the edge off while everything else gets straightened out may give her the mental resources to consider her options and make a plan.

              1. Panda Bandit

                True. If she goes on medication the dosage can always be adjusted or she can switch to a different kind.

          4. AnonAcademic

            Her being turned down for being “too nice” combined with her being bullied by both her sister and her co-workers suggests to me that there are maybe bigger issues at play here with assertiveness and setting boundaries. My sympathies. I have a relative with a similar situation (also a teacher) except she has a chip on her shoulder about being misdiagnosed as intellectually disabled as a child, and her response is to BE a bully. It has the same net effect in that she doesn’t work effectively with others which limited her career. Her solution was to work for under market salary at a private after school program she was allowed to design and run herself. That worked for a while, until….she had some sort of conflict with the organization it was run under and decided to retire.

            These sorts of personality issues can be really difficult and frustrating to watch and the best answer is usually therapy, which is also the option people resist the most.

            I don’t know where you are located but if you’re in an area with medical marijuana access, it’s a treatment alternative to sedatives for anxiety. High CBD strains (which can be taken as a pill) don’t have the mental effect of feeling “high” or the drowsiness of benzodiazepenes, but do seem to reduce anxiety.

          5. PurpleMonkeyDishwasher

            Bekx, I know I’m extremely late to this party, but please make sure your mom knows that “counseling” definitely does NOT mean “automatic medication.” If she goes to a therapist and says “I’m struggling with anxiety and need help developing coping mechanisms that are not medication,” a good therapist should be able to work with her on that, and at least TRY to treat her without medication for a period of time. Also, most therapists are licensed psychologists or social workers – they can’t prescribe medication even if they wanted to! So if that’s what’s holding her back, maybe knowing that it doesn’t work the way she seems to think it does would help?

          6. Pacific Blue Forest Green

            Wow … a teacher myself, the profession IS brutal these days, Special Ed in particular. With all of the issues your mother has endured, and accomplished, she deserves major kudos for doing what almost no administrator or board member would ever dare to do in the classroom.

            Counseling may be helpful for some of the issues, and it may be wise to at least consider medication for a very brief time, if necessary. However, she is also wise not to want to explore the latter option, as other methods can prove to be beneficial.

            Yes, hugs to her – and, no, don’t give up on teaching just yet. Best wishes to her!

    11. Jenna Maroney

      I don’t know if you’re still checking replies but your mom’s situation really tugged at my heart so I wanted to offer some things for you/your mom to consider!

      1. Some schools are in fact rougher than others, and what might not work there could be exactly what some other schools are looking for!

      2. When I started working with kids I often came across to other adults as “too nice,” but improving my classroom management skills didn’t require abandoning any of my niceness and in fact I became most successful when I started consciously implementing techniques I learned in a way that was true to who I was – I was a failure at trying to be “strict” or administer “tough love,” but “firm and kind and VERY deliberate” has been a winning combo. So, “too nice” is not a death knell for someone who teaches or otherwise works with kids. Furthermore, at this point I would not want to work somewhere that made a practice of insisting teachers not be “too nice”; schools are like other workplaces in that fit is key. I have been most successful in roles where my colleagues held similar approaches to mine, and less where I was a round peg in a place that trained students to be square holes.

      3. First year teaching is hard for EVERYONE and almost no teacher who’s stuck around would look back and think she was great when she started out. Most wouldn’t even say they were good until their second year or later. Substituting is especially hard because you don’t have a chance to build constructive relationships with kids, and also kids love to act up for a substitute; I was the biggest goody-goody in the world as a kid and I had still absorbed the cultural expectation that subs were not to be respected.

      4. People’s suggestions of looking at different districts and private school options are good. I would also suggest your mom look at assistant teaching positions, especially at private schools if there are a bunch in your area. (It is unfortunately extremely late in the year to get hired, but for next year!) This is what I’m going to be doing as I work on my master’s degree, but a lot of them also hire people who are fully certified. It’s a way to get sustained classroom experience without having everything rest on your shoulders. I know it might seem like a downgrade when you’ve already been certified but honestly I think this should be a standard requirement of teacher prep.

      5. She can also look around for things like after school programs – I worked at one that hired certified teachers to lead the academic components of the day.

      6. A lot of ed schools just don’t prepare teachers enough for the classroom management part of the job. As I alluded to in #2, a lot of people are in a similar boat. I really hope she doesn’t let this be the end of her dream.

      6. I do think that the age thing might be a problem, but not a insurmountable one; people do become teachers as career-changers and special ed is a high needs field. IDK. Your mom sounds great and I think that in the right place, she could be a real asset; I hope she doesn’t stop looking.

      1. Jenna Maroney

        Oh, and if pay is a concern: I’ll be making about as much as an assistant teacher at a private school as I would be making if I were a first-year teacher with a bachelor’s in education (but no master’s) in public schools. My friend is going to be teaching middle school English at a private school and despite not having an education background will be making more than teachers with master’s degrees make in their first couple years in public schools here.

        1. Bekx

          Thank you so much! I’m definitely going to share these comments with her. I think she’s just getting down from all the applying and no interviews. I bought her Alison’s book so here’s hoping!

          1. Not So NewReader

            Please add that teaching is one of those jobs where you are on stage. You are really putting yourself out there. The risks are higher because the bumps and snags are right out in the open- everyone sees. Yeah, it hurts even more in these situations. Point out to her all the different ways she is a gutzy lady. Then just encourage her to be a little more strategic about where she applies. Tell her that is what we all do- I don’t apply for jobs at big, huge, corporations because that would feel like drowning to me. I am sure other people here can give examples of places they do not apply because it’s just not a good fit for them. There is nothing wrong with that- it’s called knowing yourself. We should put ourselves in places where we will succeed.

  16. Dawn

    How do I go about telling the CEO about all of the little things around the office that, if changed, would make a big difference?

    I am a business analyst at a small (25ish people) tech office. There’s a very flat management style and I “report” directly to the CEO but I have immense freedom in what projects I do and how I do them. There’s some stuff in the way the office runs that I think if it was tweaked a bit/standardized it would be a big morale boost as well as just make things work better (and keep in mind it’s less of a “the office is run this way” as it is “this is just the way it’s always been done”.) Things like: contractor invoices will always be paid X days from day of submission (right now it’s just whenever, up to a max of 30 days past invoice submission which is what’s on the contract), restock of office supplies will happen every X weeks (right now it’s just whenever we run out of enough stuff and the mailroom guy has time to go over to Staples to buy more), filling out timesheets online instead of on paper (everyone has to account for how many hours they work on what project every day since we’re a gov contractor- and you can’t use white out on the paper forms and they have to be filled in with pen). There’s about 10-15 of these little things that I really think would boost morale (not that it’s low, but it would make things more pleasant) and just help the office run smoother in general.

    I’ve only been here 4 months but the CEO has been really receptive to any ideas that I’ve thrown out about projects that I’m working on, so I think he’d at least welcome my input if nothing else. Anyone have any good ideas about how to bring this up? Informal email? Mention that I have some ideas at our next 1:1 meeting (which will be a month from now because the CEO is really busy)? Let it go?

    1. fposte

      You’ve got a receptive boss and some reasonable suggestions. I’d be inclined to wait until the August meeting, but you could also email him and say you have some process suggestions, would he like them to wait until the August meeting or get them in email now?

    2. Hlyssande

      I think I would mention that you had some ideas prior to the meeting and ask if the CEO would like you to bring them up? If that’s a yes, you could send an email with a brief overview ahead of time to they have an idea of what’s coming.

      I would suggest starting off with only one or two things because otherwise it will look pretty presumptuous.

      Then, when you’re talking about it, make sure you do the following.
      1. Explain the idea as clearly as possible without inundating the CEO with too much information. Writing an outline might help in that case.
      2. Explain why it would be useful/more efficient to the company, based on your observations.
      3. Provide examples and research – you want them to know that you’ve done your homework.
      4. Be aware that there may be existing processes that cannot be changed – or that what you’re trying to change could upset a delicate balance somewhere. It’s easy for a new person to try to bring in sweeping changes without understanding the big picture.

      Good luck!

      1. The Cosmic Avenger

        Yes, write out an “executive summary” of each suggested change, which should include your case as to what needs to change, and how it would benefit the company (maybe estimated savings, even if you just give it your best guess). Then you should also have very specific suggestions as to how these changes could be implemented, such as mocking up ordering sheets or talked to the mailroom guy about having an email folder for “Office Supply Requests”, then once every week/month/etc., going through the existing requests and creating a bulk order, then moving those emails to a different folder.

    3. CLT

      Are the changes you want to suggest within the scope of your job description? If they are not, I would suggest you let it go until you have been there much longer. Those decisions were made by someone, and you risk overstepping boundaries by questioning the decisions of others, especially at this early stage.

      Besides, you may end up looking like a real newb for suggesting changes that your coworkers have all suggested to deaf ears in the past, as surely if there are that many process problems, others have noticed and complained. It is not unusual for a new person to come in, impatient to make changes, and start making suggestions before they really understand how the culture operates. It can rub your coworkers the wrong way. You are kind of saying that, although you have only been there 4 months, you know better than they do how they should be doing things or that you see problems they were too blind to see.

      I suggest sticking to suggestions about things that are within your own job description until you have been there longer, then venture in with an idea or two, not a list.

      1. NicoleK

        +1000. I’m working with someone right now who was throwing out suggestions on her first day. And her suggestions were absurd because she did not know the organization.

      2. Dawn

        Yeah I have gone back and forth on whether to bring things up or not too. However, since I’m here as a business analyst one of the things within the scope of my position is internal business strategy- I’m already working on finding more contracts for us to go after and would be advising on hiring and expanding existing positions if new contracts were landed. I see some of the suggestions that I would make as being within the scope of internal business strategy advising.

        However, you’ve really made me pause and think about how to go about bringing up these ideas. I think that I could bring them up organically as time goes by instead of having a big long list- for example, suggesting the paying of invoices whenever the discussion of new positions comes up, and maybe just asking my boss about the paper timesheets next time I submit mine in a casual “hey why do we do these on paper? Is it for regulatory reasons?” I’m definitely NOT trying to throw out a bunch of suggestions just because I’m new, and that’s part of the reason I came to AAM to ask what to do- I don’t want to be seen as a “HI I’M NEW HERE YOU GUYS SUCK LET’S CHANGE EVERYTHING!”

        There’s other stuff that I want to advise on as well, so I’m going to think about how to do that in such a way that the company (the CEO and the President, basically) can reach its own conclusion about the best way to do things based on the advice that I give. At my last job I had insanely good rapporteur with my boss and my VP so I could throw stuff out willy-nilly instead of having to think critically about the delivery like I need to at this job.

        1. Kita

          I’m a big fan of bringing them up organically. I’ve been able to suggest–and see implemented–a bunch of changes that would fall outside the scope of my job description. I think that was in part because I mentally noted things and then had opportunities in 1-on-1’s to mention some of them when they were relevant to something else.

          “Project X is going well, and I’m thinking we can mail it on Tuesday. Speaking of which, I noticed we run out of envelopes sporadically and thought one solution would by for Khaleesi to refill inventory weekly.”

        2. Powered by eight nuclear-heated Pratt and Whitney NP-4051 turbojets

          I don’t want to be seen as a “HI I’M NEW HERE YOU GUYS SUCK LET’S CHANGE EVERYTHING!”

          It’s arguably a Good Thing that you are aware of this – it’s almost something of a ‘management trope’.

          I don’t know your exact situation, but if I had one piece of advice to offer you, it would be this: think very carefully about how any of your suggestions will change or affect the jobs of other people in your office. If one of your ideas causes problems for the mail-room clerk, you’ll get push-back from them (plus whoever else will back them).

          One – no, two – things:

          One, if you have been brought into this job explicitly as an “agent of change”, you’ll have an easier time of it. However, you’ll only have a certain amount of ‘political capital’ to burn before you start showing positive results.

          Two: in my experience in general, getting “change” accepted is usually handled by talking to lots of people, listening to them, and obtaining their buy-in. It’s a process that involves time and lots of meetings and phone calls. Ie, unlike in the movies, you don’t surprise everyone at The Big Annual Meeting with a list of ideas that saves the company. It’s more like, by the time the Big Meeting happens, everyone already knows most of what you’re going to talk about, and they’ve had time to think about how the change will affect them, etc.

    4. Apollo Warbucks

      I’d bring up in your next one to one, it sounds like you’ve got some good ideas.

      One thing to bear in minds is there’s a lot to be said for using your full credit terms, it helps cash flow no end if you pay at the end of the period, I’m not sure if I’ve misunderstood but there’s no reason to pay contractors earlier than the agreed date.

  17. "Computer Science"

    I’m trying my best to embrace the weirdness in my office- among the group, my interactions with the Empath Without Boundaries stand out the most. Sadly, my methods of shutting down conversations haven’t been working: mentioning deadlines and schedules doesn’t phase them, and outright interruption asking us to carry on the conversation at a later date just leads to an Apple event’s worth of “Just one more thing.”
    Anyone have tips on shutting down conversations with endless talkers? Thanks, friends.

    1. fposte

      Is this informally, or in meetings? If the latter, who’s running the meeting? Is this a boss or a co-worker?

      If it’s informally and it’s a co-worker, you just directly say what you want. “Sorry, Empath, you have to leave now–tons of work to do.” “Sorry, Empath, I need to know the answer to the spout question but can’t cover other topics now. What’s your answer?” And if “Just one more thing” happens, you can talk over her while saying “Sorry, you have to leave now.” If this is really work-interrupting, you should loop your manager in and say you’ve tried telling her to stop, it’s not happening, and it’s a problem–any suggestions?

    2. JMegan

      Love your user name. :) Sounds to me like you’ve done more than enough to rid yourself of the endless talker, any reasonable person would have taken the hint ages ago. So clearly you’re not dealing with a reasonable person. I would try “What do you need me to do?” – force her into a specific action request if there is one, or at least to say so if there isn’t.

      If there is something you need to do, agree to do it and walk away. If there’s no action required on your part, then say “Okay, then I’ll talk to you later” and walk away. If she says “Just one more thing,” repeat “What do you need me to do?” one more time, and if still no answer, then walk away.

      If you’re not at your own desk, walking away is pretty easy. But if you are at your own desk, it can still be done – just get up and walk away! Go to the washroom, or into your boss’s office with a question, or whatever works for you. (Softer approach – walk her to the door as if you were showing her out of your home. Harder approach – “I need you to leave now so I can get back to work.”)

      You don’t have to listen to her, you know. It’s hard, because we generally want to be polite to other people, but remember she’s the one being impolite, not you. Good luck!

    3. ginger ale for all

      I had a problem with a co-worker like that before and we were friends so this approach won’t work with everyone but I once stood up and placed my hands on her shoulders and physically turned her around and told her to leave. I had just told her twice that I didn’t have time before I did that though. Her needs to talk about her kids did not trump my deadline.

    4. it happens

      All good advice above on how to deal with it in the moment.
      Might also be useful to ask the Empath to write down a list of items to cover with you and schedule a meeting.

      1. Dawn

        I think this is a great idea! Some empaths have this serious “need to be heard” going on which would work well with saying something like “Hey Jane, I want to hear everything that you have to say and I want to be able to give you my full attention so let’s schedule a meeting to talk about this. How about you put together a list of what you want to talk about?” Jane feels like she’s being heard AND this gives you a really good push back for when she tries to talk to you- not only can you say “hey let’s bring this up at our meeting” you can also say “Jane I am unable to give you my full attention right now because of (thing) and I want to hear what you’re saying, let’s talk about this at our meeting”.

        1. JMegan

          And make sure your meeting has a hard stop, lest you find yourself trapped in a room with her telling you “Just one more thing!”

          “Jane, I have another meeting in half an hour, so we’ll need to keep this brief. What are the three most important things we need to address? We’ll talk about those now, and then you can send me the rest by email.”

    5. ExceptionToTheRule

      Same sex or opposite sex? I’ve resorted to using the restroom for brushing off Empath of the opposite sex.

    6. AnotherFed

      Headphones. Seriously. It feels rude to interrupt to say you’re out of time to chat and try to end the conversation, but this person is actually being the ruder one who doesn’t understand boundaries. Do your normal attempt to end the conversation, smile, put your headphones on, and turn away from the person and back to work.

  18. nona

    I’m realizing that I need to GTFO my job and field for various reasons (including low pay that will probably never improve).

    If you’ve been there, what helped you? Any advice? Books on finding a new career?

    1. Cristina in England

      Well I don’t have any advice except to say that I have found, repeatedly, that if you don’t know what you want to do next, if you don’t know what you want the next step to be, it can be really hard to GTFO. Are you the kind of person who can leap into something just for the hell of it, for the experience? You’ll be better off. If you are very concerned with making the “right” move, you may never get anywhere.
      Spend some time thinking about what you’re good at and what type of environment suits you, rather than your “passion”. Look for good enough, not perfect!

      1. Beancounter in Texas

        +1

        Your next career step isn’t the End to All Career Steps. You can change it if it’s not right for you. :)

    2. YourOwnPersonalCheeses

      Echoing Cristina, in that it’s good to focus on what you’re good at, and then come up with ways to like it. (I think I got that from Mike Rowe.) As far as books, I’ve started reading What Colour is Your Parachute. It seems to be pretty well-regarded!

    3. phillist

      I’m going to go a little against the grain on this, because I’ve always found “figure out what you’re good at” overwhelming. I’m good at so many things! How do I pick just one!? What if the things I like are not easily combined–or if it’s not obvious how they can be blended?

      My advice is to start looking at orgs/companies you like and might want to work for, then look at the jobs available within those orgs. Which jobs would you (ideally) like? Which are you qualified for? How could you bridge that gap?

      Even if it isn’t feasible to get that precise job (like, you want to work for Apple but you can’t move away from Nebraska and aren’t looking for IT positions that could be done remotely), it might give you an idea of what kind of jobs you’d ideally like and find similar ones in other companies that might set you on a trajectory toward IdealJob.

      I’ve also found that being good at a job doesn’t necessarily meaning liking it. I learned the hard way that I can be great at a job, but working for a company I don’t like/disagree with ethically is a death knell for me. I switched industries to work for an org I truly believe in, took an entry level job (because I knew I would have to take a step backward title-wise due to switching industries) and excelled. 7 months later I was promoted into management at this new org and I could not be happier. I was always a good manager, and now I get to manage a team I love; work directly with Senior Leadership I admire; and feel like my work has purpose. Even on the very worst days, I can step back and say, “This is why I do what I do.”

      Your mileage may vary, obviously: some people value a mission, some people value the bottom line, some people value a collaborative culture, etc. But in my experience, aiming for the *place* that is going to be your best fit is just as important (more important, in my case) than trying to figure out which “career” suits you best. And often, it opens up possibilities you may never have considered: the skills you already have might be useful to the organization you’re shooting for, and might put you in a position to move into the work you ultimately want to do. Google needs HR generalists, and the ACLU needs accountants, you know?

      It’s not easy, and does take some long-term strategic planning, but it is possible! Good luck!

  19. Staff Meetings are Weird

    Does anyone else rotate facilitation in their staff meetings?

    This is my first professional job out of college and it seems strange to me that everyone from the office manager to the receptionist has to share in this duty. Facilitation includes soliciting and setting agenda items such as trainings and guest speakers along with running the meeting and taking minutes. I’ve noticed that when people who are in lower-level roles run the meeting that the team is more disrespectful to them. Side conversations, note passing, etc. are issues at all meetings but when, say, the receptionist tries to get everyone’s attention to start the meeting, people just keep talking. For over a minute, despite the receptionists’ repeated calls for silence. Management, though present, does not intervene. (They do call out bad behavior when THEY are facilitating though. But that’s maybe once a year because of the number of staff we have.)

    I can see why there might be a benefit to having people gain experience in this position and most of the office shares some core duties, but it feels to me like management has come up with a creative way to delegate this responsibility to the staff.

    1. fposte

      . . . and then failed to stand behind it, therefore undermining these people’s power rather than increasing it.

      Can you take the lead in modeling respectful behavior to meeting leaders generally and even do a little intervening? “Hang on, Bob, I need to hear what Jane is saying.”

      1. Staff Meetings are Weird

        Nail, meet head.

        I do try to be respectful, but I also actively avoid sitting next to the worst offenders for obvious reasons! This sort of thing is a HUGE irritant for me, and I’m afraid that if I open my mouth I’ll go off on my coworkers, whom I do like and care about. My position in the office is very low, so I don’t really have any capital to spend.

        1. fposte

          Yeah, this may just be a “try not to hurt your teeth when you grind them” situation.

          1. Staff Meetings are Weird

            But I might draw some comments if I wear a bite guard to the meeting…. Perhaps no one will object if I start shredding paper into tiny bits to stay sane?

    2. TCO

      We rotate staff meeting facilitation among the entire department (both my larger and smaller departments do this, with varying levels of responsibility for prep/agenda creation). I’ve never witnessed the kind of disrespect you’re seeing. That’s pretty outrageous.

      1. Staff Meetings are Weird

        So this IS a normal thing, then? I’d love to see a workplace where the meetings function respectfully. Sometimes I wonder (when it’s my turn) whether I’m actually building facilitation skills if I can’t get it under control.

        1. TCO

          There are a lot of things about my workplace that aren’t entirely “normal” so I can’t claim this is a common practice. But our meetings always function respectfully. It’s hard to imagine anyone in my office openly disrespecting a lower-level person in a meeting. We are very intentional about having kind, respectful, and healthy interpersonal relationships here. I’m guessing your office’s meeting behaviors are reflective of deeper cultural issues around disrespect, status, or morale.

          1. Staff Meetings are Weird

            I’m guessing your office’s meeting behaviors are reflective of deeper cultural issues around disrespect, status, or morale.

            Morale is a huge issue. Disrespect is not something I’ve thought about before, but now I can think of numerous examples of management disrespecting staff. Most notably the time the manager openly slammed several internal employees who had applied for a promotion in a staff meeting.

        2. zora

          no that is weird. I have seen rotating facilitation among a team or department where people are mostly on the same level and all doing similar work. To have the receptionist facilitating a meeting with executives in it is just weird.

          Honestly, even having a meeting with all of those people in it together is weird. The one place where we had this were annual/semi-annual all-hands meetings but those were run more as presentation level from the program staff, keeping all staff up to date on what the organization’s impact was, so there were very specific people facilitating each section to keep it running smoothly and efficiently since you are using the time of every single person in the organization at once, and that is a lot of people/money.

          1. Staff Meetings are Weird

            We don’t quite get up to the executive level (usually, maybe 1 – 2 times a year they visit our office–it’s a branch) but we have admin staff > professional staff > supervisors/program managers > branch manager > regional director (occasionally, he is CC’d on all agendas and minutes to stay in the loop)

            There’s a standing updates section for various programs and initiatives, but people are rarely prepared to present on their topics, despite the fact that it’s a weekly deal. We also have a high proportion of ramblers and people who think speaking makes them more important.

            1. zora

              Well then the first thing that is Weird about this is Weekly Meetings Are Stupid And Almost Always Unnecessary. So now that you explain, I think that is the big picture of what is wrong here. No one in your org understands meetings and how to do them correctly. These meetings shouldnt even be happening, everyone knows which is why they are not preparing, talking too much, and being rude to facilitators. Unfortunately, there’s not much you can do at your level, I don’t think, but if I was in charge there I would eliminate this entire weekly meeting shit show immediately. I think you might have to just suck it up and eyeroll your way through like everyone else is. Sorry. :o(

              1. Staff Meetings are Weird

                Please come organize a coup. Please? We have lots of food in the breakroom.

                1. zora

                  Haha! Now that you said this I realize that running at SWAT-team style “Meeting Correction” squad that stages coups to eliminate and fix stupid meetings might actually be my dream job! ;o)

    3. edj3

      I do. I’m having everyone on my team take a turn in facilitating our bi-weekly team meetings. They last an hour and the agenda is largely driven by questions or issues that the team has. This is a good way for everyone on the team to get facilitation and time management experience.

      I don’t think the issue is that the facilitator role is a round robin role–the issue is that the people on the team have terribly meeting manners. That’s a different management issue.

      1. Staff Meetings are Weird

        Hmm. I wonder if there’s any training out there on meeting manners I could “slip” into the agenda. This has been getting worse for months now, so I’m losing faith that management will address the issue.

    4. Shannon

      I’m admittedly passive aggressive and unprofessional, but, if I were one of the lower ranking facilitators, I’d put it on the addenda.

      1. Shannon

        I’d also call out people being rude. “Wakeem, we’ll start when your conversation with Jane is done.” And then pointedly stare. “Jane, was there a topic you wanted to bring up?”

    5. Powered by eight nuclear-heated Pratt and Whitney NP-4051 turbojets

      Wow. It sounds all egalitarian and stuff, but then when it’s actually practiced, it’s almost like it’s designed to reinforce the existing ‘dominance hierarchy’.

      Does the company make any resources available to people to help them when they take this role? (Mentors, classes, self-help books, hard drugs, etc?). Honestly, I’ve never heard of such a thing before, it seems like an idea that has literally crawled straight out of Hell.

      Do you have people freaking out as “its hour come round at last” they dread their turn as Chair?

      1. Staff Meetings are Weird

        There’s at least 1 DVD on presentations floating around the office, perhaps a book or two. I’ve never seen or heard of anyone utilizing them. I do know several people have been told they are “bad at presenting/running meetings” but the remedy seems to consist of Toastmasters and being forced to present more often. There’s really no constructive feedback given beyond, “Hey, great presentation!” from someone as you pass in the hall.

        I’m not certain anyone looks forward to it… I haven’t heard joy or excitement expressed ever.

        1. zora

          Everyone resents that they are wasting their time in these meetings. No amount of videos is going to help right now. The only solution is convincing management to stop these meetings. If they really feel departments need to be checking in and hearing what everyone else is doing, monthly is more than adequate. Quarterly is more reasonable.

  20. Windchime

    I wrote a few weeks ago about a really nice guy on our team who just cannot seem to do the job. Nearly everything he creates has to be re-done or fixed. Yesterday, he was tasked with doing something very small and he goofed it up to the point that the QA guy was totally blocked all day long because the build was broken (we write ETL code). The QA guy and I spent most of our day trying to untangle the rat’s nest of incompetence.

    It’s really hard. He is such a nice man but my productivity is going downhill fast. Both my manager and his manager are aware of all that is going on but I think it’s tricky to actually let someone like this go because he is retirement age. I’m weirdly frustrated and compassionate at the same time.

      1. Windchime

        They’ve looked into that and it doesn’t seem possible. It’s really strange to be vascillating between extreme irritation and extreme sorrow over this.

        1. Elizabeth West

          Can the company offer him early retirement? I feel bad for him. Of course, if he could improve but refuses to, then it’s kind of his own fault, but if it’s just difficult, then that’s unfortunate.

        1. Windchime

          Ha, yep, at my old job “special projects” was the kiss of death. It was one step above Switchboard. Which was too bad because we had a handful of people who were professionals at working in Switchboard, but that’s where people who had washed out of Special Projects were sent, and then they were eventually let go when they couldn’t handle the pressure cooker of working switchboard.

    1. Shannon

      Is this something that maybe some professional update training would help or is it just bad work?

    2. Anonymous Educator

      There are really only a few ways out of this and since just a flat-out firing seems out of the question to you (I think it’s tricky to actually let someone like this go because he is retirement age), here is what I would consider:

      1. Can you change his responsibilities so that he is essentially responsible for nothing… or at least nothing critical? I hate to say it, but I’ve been in workplaces like that, where someone who contributes nothing or contributes negatively has to be kept around for some reason or another, so the management just has that person do some non-job.

      2. Can you actually give him an early retirement or some incentive to retire early?

      3. Is there a job (somewhere else, maybe) that you know he’d actually be good at, and you could honestly give an enthusiastic recommendation for him for and help facilitate? That would be a win-win-win.

      1. Windchime

        3 is what I would really like to see happen. It doesn’t seem right for the company to continue to pay him what I assume is a six-figure salary to be non-productive. But he does have some skills and I would hope that they could find him something to do. I don’t think that firing is out of the question (and it’s not up to me anyway, because I’m not in management), but it seems unfair to fire someone who is retirement age and struggling.

        My guess is that, if they end up letting him go, he would probably try to go work at a nearby place where a couple other people who got laid off ended up going. It’s still sad, though. It makes me glad that I’m not a manager.

  21. Cruciatus

    My interview for an administrative job at a university on Monday will require testing. I asked more specifically what on and was told “Excel and drafting an email.” I do use Excel but would like to brush up my skills before Monday. I use the same functions over and over and don’t really need to branch out much.
    1) Are there good websites that offer (free) Excel testing? (The sites I’ve found are usually lame and don’t require you to do anything but rather pick an answer from 4 choices–I found this really hard. I don’t know WHY but I do know HOW (to do it). I’m going to assume my testing will be showing not telling.
    2) In lieu of websites, what would you expect an admin at a university to know how to do in Excel? This isn’t a senior role or anything.
    3) What sorts of things have others had to do in Excel testing for a job?
    3) Drafting an email? Like, “Hello John, The report we discussed earlier is now complete. Please pick it up at my desk at a time convenient to you. Thank you, Cruciatus” Am I missing something?

    1. Formerly Known as The Office Admin, Now Full Time Job Huntress

      I just did an Excel, Word, Spelling and Grammar testing for a hospital admin position, and what I thought I knew about Excel and Word was MUCH less than what I was tested on. It was a practical test, so it would ask to perform something and then move on to the next question, but about 25% of the Word test I was just like, “You can do this in Word???WHO KNEW?!”
      I passed the Excel and Word tests at 70% each.
      If you know HOW to do it, but not explain it, I think you’ll be ok! Good luck!

    2. Elkay

      The test I had for email was along the lines of “Here’s our website/brochure, here’s an email enquiry, respond to the email enquiry”, so you might respond with “Dear John, Thank you for your email enquiring about our Chocolate Teapot degree. Our entry requirements are qualifications in chocolate tempering and teapot handling, you can find out more on our website [insert link]. You can come and visit the Chocolate Teapot department on 32nd August when we hold our annual open day. You will need to register your interest here. Kind Regards Cruciatus”

      Excel was given a spreadsheet of applicant data, sorting it and answering questions about the sort. They might want pivot tables and/or charts too.

    3. Rowan

      Have you got an email address? I’m happy to email you some detail about this but I don’t want to give out too much info about my university’s Excel test in a public forum.

      1. Cruciatus

        That would be awesome! Thank you! I created a dummy account at yahoo, cruciatus9876 at yahoo dot com.

    4. AndersonDarling

      If the job ad didn’t specify any particular skills, then I’d bet they just want to make sure you know how to open and use the programs. Outlook will probably be about attaching a document and some formatting. Maybe setting up a signature, turning on the out of office notification, and using bullet points.
      Excel could be opening a file, save-as, re-sizing a cell, and if they are really going to push it- making a simple chart.
      It sounds like they just want to make sure you have the basic skills, you’d be surprised how many people lie about using excel and outlook.

    5. Sophiabrooks

      You might want to make sure you can mail merge letters and address labels as well as use formulas. I was the only admin who knew how to mail merge for awhile- everyone else was doing bulk mails by re typing the list onto labels! The other two things I do as an AA in excel are updating budget spreadsheets and making charts for PowerPoint presentations. I do more, but it is not expected.

      1. Elkay

        This kind of thing makes me die a little inside. Mail merge was one of the things I was taught at school 15 years ago, admin should be able to do it standing on their heads.

        1. Rowan

          I just cannot get my head round it. I’m proficient with the software for every other facet of my job but there’s something about mail merge that confuses me every time! Luckily we have plenty of other people on the team who can manage it and there’s enough stuff I can do that they can’t that it’s not too embarrassing.

      2. TheLazyB

        All our mailing lists were labels at my last job. and all the labels were different sizes. SO FRUSTRATING!!

    6. GOG11

      There were some helpful tips on how to handle consulting outside sources during this sort of test a few weeks ago. I’ll put a link in the comment to follow. Frequently, I Google things while working in excel because I don’t have certain formulas memorized, even though I know how to use them. I don’t know whether the place you’re interviewing with would allow it or not, but I would love to be able to use Google if I were taking the test since that’s how I normally work. Not sure if that’s applicable to you, though.

      1. Meg Murry

        The test that I took didn’t let us use google, but you were allowed to use the Microsoft Help files, which I used once or twice when I new what the command was called but not where the version of Excel I was using had hidden it.

      2. GOG11

        I’m having a heck of a time finding it… I do have a tendency to hit “surprise me!” and I forget that I wasn’t just scrolling through. Does anyone else know what I’m talking about or am I just a bit off today? The conversation was about how to handle a candidate who may have cheated on a part of her accounting interview. It seemed as though the applicant got stuck on something, left to use the restroom (took her phone with her) and was able to complete the test pretty quickly when she got back. It was a pretty strong example of how not to use outside sources during an interview, but Alison’s and/or the readers’ advice about how to ask if you can use them was really good.

        1. Apollo Warbucks

          It was in the open thread the other Friday someone posted asking of it was a deal breaker that someone used their phone in a test and wanted to see what opinion people had, about it.

        2. Random CPA

          I posted the question here: https://www.askamanager.org/2015/06/open-thread-june-19-2015.html

          The skills assessment tested whether the person could prepare a bank rec, apply various functions in Excel to data sets, and draft an email communicating a customer issue. The issue I had was when one of the candidates had asked to use the restroom after taking 40 minutes to do the bank rec section, and took her phone with her (which I suspected she used to look up how to do the functions, and I found that deceptive). I had said in one of my responses that I would have been okay with the person using the resources if she had asked rather than being deceptive about it, because I’m pretty good in Excel, but there are some functions I don’t use all the time that I have to Google to remind myself how to use or consult an Excel guide I put together of functions and examples of how to use them.

          However, one person said I should be consistent and either allow or not allow resources and be up front about it. I decided to go that route and consistently not allow resources rather than making individual exceptions if someone did ask to be able to look them up. This is because during the interview we asked each candidate whether they knew how to use the functions, and if they said yes, that they used them frequently, we tested them on them to make sure they were being honest about their skill set. If they said no, we had them skip the functions they didn’t know how to use.

          Having a candidate who could do everything was ideal, but if we had to choose between a candidate who was honest/realistic in their assessment of their skills vs. one who said they had the skills but couldn’t perform, we’d choose the one whose assessment was more accurate. (We found a great candidate who could do everything in the assessment, made him an offer, which he accepted, but then he accepted a counteroffer from his employer… so now it’s back to the drawing board!)

      3. Kita

        Agreed. The biggest barrier to being an Excel guru is knowing which phrases to google. I can do so much, but I’m always rusty on something and need to look up the precise formulas (vlookup, I’m thinking about you).

    7. Meg Murry

      I had to take a test for Word and Excel and these were some of the things on it:
      Excel:
      An example budget sheet has rows with $ amounts.
      -Format the $ amount column to show a $ and all the decimal points lined up
      -Add a row, call it XYZ with amount of Y. Adjust the cell at the bottom of the sheet that sums up all the numbers in the column to include that cell.
      -Insert a column and have it add up 2 other columns.
      -Some other cell is supposed to add up a different column but it isn’t correct. Correct the formula
      -Format the page to print all on one page.
      -Make this cell yellow and that cell bold italics.
      -Add a footer to say [blah blah blah] and page numbers.
      -Save the file as [name] in [folder name]
      -Print the file to [this printer]
      Nothing super complicated. If you are using an older version of Excel, consider trying to go to a public library or similar to use a newer version (or vice versa if you are using the brand spanking newest version) – Microsoft likes to move things around just enough to be confusing – I still swear every time I sit down in front of my laptop because the menu items are all in slightly different places.

      As far as the email drafting goes, they probably want to make sure you can use general spelling and grammar and don’t write in all caps or all lowercase with no punctuation or text speak. So not – “yr report is done – u can pick it up anytime tmrw” – which I know seems ridiculous, but I’ve seen it.

      You’ll be fine.

      1. TheLazyB

        Is it weird that I would be really excited to get this test!? All my interview tests have been really boring word/prioritisation stuff!

        1. Meg Murry

          I rocked it with a 95% (that should have been a 100% because the way I did one of the tasks was actually more correct and produced the right answer but wasn’t the way it was expected to be gone about) and I was so proud. The company was otherwise a total PITA and their application process was horribly stupid, so I was surprised to find the Word and Excel tests to be relevant and well done. Especially since I had heard people going on and on about how hard and stupid they were – they weren’t hard, they were just beyond what a lot of people who “use Excel” but really only fill in a couple of numbers in someone else’s spreadsheet do.

    8. Ragnelle

      Check your public library’s website. We give all cardholders free access to online software that has both learning modules and tests for lots of software, including Microsoft Office programs. Ours is called Learning Express Library, and you can access it from home with your library account. Your local library might have something similar.

      1. Cruciatus

        I do have this program and am searching through it but I can’t seem to find anything relevant. I’ll keep looking since this would be great if it works.

        1. Cruciatus

          Nope, pretty sure our library decided not to carry the part with any Microsoft products at all which is extremely frustrating. But if I want to get my CDL license I know where to go.

    9. Lily in NYC

      I think it’s too late for you to do this, but what I would do is register with a recruiting agency that specializes in admins and then go in for the testing they give. They almost all give very similar tests so once you do one, you can go home and look up the answers to the questions you didn’t know. There will be questions on how to make a macro or maybe a pivot table, so teach yourself how to do them if you don’t know how. Also, they will ask about some of the less complicated formulas. You might get a typing test, so brush up. For emails, if you don’t use “rules”, figure those out too because it will likely be part of the test. I highly recommend googling “Excel testing for job interview” – you’ll see sample tests. Good luck!

    10. Jean

      I’ve heard about lynda (d0t) com which is a training site for all sorts of software. You can sign up for memberships at various levels of service / program access / duration of membership / $$ cost. I wouldn’t cram in trying to become an Expert over the weekend, but this might offer some helpful hints.

      Have looked at the site, but never actually signed up myself b/c our family computer is in a high-traffic part of our home. This means I don’t get a lot of quiet time w/out interruptions when everyone is home. (Yes, I need to fix this!)

      My foggy memory recalls $25/month at one point, but I don’t recall what benefits this did or didn’t include. Price could have changed.
      Good luck!

  22. Formerly Known as The Office Admin, Now Full Time Job Huntress

    And this concludes Week 6(7? I’ve lost track. It may be Week 8) of Job Hunting Post-Move for Husband’s Job.
    I’m frustrated, annoyed, hopeful, frustrated and hopeful. I know there are other job hunters out there with me, we can do this. Right? Someone tell me there is an end in sight….
    I’ve had interviews, so all hope isn’t lost, but why must HR teams take SO long to call/email/send telegram/carrier pigeon after an application has been referred? WHY.
    On the positive, I was told by someone, “Your resume is really solid and quite good, I’m not sure why the recruiter hasn’t called you yet…”

    **ALSO: Any other Kansas Citians/Midwesterners? Is this heatwave not ridiculous? I feel like I might melt every time I walk out the door. Last night, I said, “Oh it feels nice outside, not too hot!” Checked the weather… 88 degrees, heat index of 94. Yeah, it was really really nice outside

    1. steve g

      I feel the same way. I’m keeping a spreadsheet of jobs I am applying to and have been seeing ads I applied to 2-3 months ago still getting reposted in multiple spots, and I’m beginning to think some of them aren’t “real” jobs. I am just putting down some as “rejected” on some jobs because it looks like no one has looked at my app in many logins (like jobvite). This is especially frustrating for those jobs that were very specifc to me (“seeking blue eyed 34yo male who likes music from the 80s, hiking, and insanity fitness who also cooks and has experience working in startups and loved excel and template building but also is good with customers and has account mgt experience.”) and I go “Omg I have to apply to this right now, I could have this job next week, it was made for me!” then I get a rejection or hear nothing. It ain’t easy out there.

      1. Formerly Known as The Office Admin, Now Full Time Job Huntress

        I think some of these jobs aren’t real too! I mean, statstically, I can’t not hear from 85% of the jobs I apply to, right?
        Also, the 80’s is a polarizing music genre, you may want to leave that out… ;)
        Jokes.
        I also tell myself, THIS IS THE JOB I CAN START A WEEK FROM TOMORROW, YAY!!!!!!!!!!!

        1. Steve G

          Certain companies (Moody’s, Travel Click) post the same ad for the same job every day or two. It really clogs up my searches! I am so sick of having to click through them. You don’t need to make a new ad and post it as if a job is new, every day, in order to find candidates. Believe me, candidates will find you

        2. Shannon

          A while back, I posted a job listing on Craigslist for a part time clerical/ dispatch type job. I got about 250 resumes over the course of four days for one job opening. I would have loved to replied back to all of them, but, I just didn’t have the time to do so (I was starting up my own company, so I was the President, CEO, CFO, IT department, marketing, sales and HR all in one). I feel bad about that, but, I was not expecting that level of interest in that job. I think a lot of employers are in a similar position.

          1. zora

            It takes 30 minutes to copy and paste and send out some simple “No Interest” emails. You could do it while watching Netflix after dinner. It’s just a habit to get into, I hope you think about it next time.

      1. Formerly Known as The Office Admin, Now Full Time Job Huntress

        OH NO!!
        Our’s was broken about a week before this heat started and I live in constant fear it may go down again.
        Sending you AC Repairs ASAP hopes and dreams!

    2. Muriel Heslop

      We have a ton of people out for about 6-8 weeks this summer and it has pushed back some of our response to applicants and interviewing. I hope that is the case for you and soon the calls are flooding in. Good luck!

    3. edj3

      *waves from downtown KC*

      OMG the weather is AWFUL. I ran Monday morning at 5 AM and it was already 81 with a heat index of 90. At FIVE AM.

      1. Formerly Known as The Office Admin, Now Full Time Job Huntress

        *waves*
        I find it being hot before the sun comes up insulting, don’t you?

    4. Elizabeth West

      It’s only in the 90s–it’s not NEARLY as bad as it was a few years ago, when we had nearly a month straight of 100-degree weather. UGH. I still took my walks, because I had no other choice.

      1. Formerly Known as The Office Admin, Now Full Time Job Huntress

        YES. Summer of 2012 was BRUTAL.
        I keep reminding myself this too, that it actually hasn’t gotten above 100(I don’t even think it’s gotten above 97?) it’s just the humidity from having SO much rain this summer.

        1. kozinskey

          I learned on MPR the other day that it’s not the humidity that makes you feel gross and sticky, it’s the dewpoint. Thank you Paul Huttner!

        2. Elizabeth West

          I’m glad it quit raining. My doors swelled up and getting in and out of the back of the house had me pulling and cursing. My cat just stared at me through the window while I was fighting with it, like, “What the hell are you doing? Why are you not coming out here to feed me? I can see you!” I thought at one point I would have to call in and tell my boss, “Well, I can’t get out of the house, so see you when the sun comes out!”

      2. edj3

        It still makes me a bit crazy that the heat index is 105F. It was cooler in INDIA last week.

    5. Know It All Management Consultant

      I may be weird, but after all of the rain, I’m actually enjoying this heat.

  23. ACA

    Yesterday at work I had a wardrobe malfunction that resulted in me leaving for lunch in one outfit and coming back 35 minutes later in a completely new one. And no one in my office even noticed.

    1. Formerly Known as The Office Admin, Now Full Time Job Huntress

      Hahaha! It could have been funnier if someone complimented you in the afternoon after you changed, “Oh that’s a lovely dress ACA!”

    2. Sospeso

      Hah! Same! I spilled a full mug of coffee on a floaty white button-down top – no fixing that at work – and ran out to the nearest store on lunch to buy something, anything, I could wear without major raised eyebrows. The only thing in my size? A bright green T-shirt. An actual T-shirt. And no one even gave it a second glance. This makes me question the effort I spend getting ready in the morning.

      This reminds me of the bit on The Office where Stanley grabs Jim’s coffee mug instead of his own, without noticing that he’s drinking cold OJ instead of hot coffee. Naturally, there are tests to see what else he won’t notice.

    3. Ann O'Nemity

      Once I ripped out the seat of my pants at work. No joke. And there was literally no time to go home to change. I shuffled to the bathroom with my legs clenched together, stapler in hand, and did the best fix I could. No one noticed.

      1. GOG11

        OMG NOOOO! Staples? How did that go? I’m so sorry for the skin in whatever area where the staples ended up being.

        1. Ann O'Nemity

          Thankfully it was along the seam and I was able to staple in a way that didn’t end up rubbing against skin. Still, it caused some fabric to bunch in a way that wasn’t super attractive. Plus, I felt the need to significantly shorten my stride for the rest of the day so it didn’t pop open again.

          1. GOG11

            I can imagine the hurried scurrying to the bathroom, stapler in hand, then having to take rigid little steps the rest of the day. It’s anecdotes like this that make me seriously consider keeping a full change of clothes at work.

      2. OfficePrincess

        I’ve done the exact same thing, except that it was the inseam. What’s better is that I shuffled past 10 people on their lunch break to the bathroom and back with a stapler in had and no one batted an eye.

    4. The Cosmic Avenger

      Are you sure? Maybe a few people noticed, but figured that, if you changed in the middle of the day, it might have been for an embarrassing reason? I probably would notice it but not mention it to anyone but my closest co-workers (those I actually socialize with outside of work).

      1. MaryMary

        This. I tripped on te 4th of July while walking my dad’s dog and really scraped up my hand because I was so concerned about hanging on the to leash (Scruffy is a runner). I was totally self conscious about it, but no one at work said a word. Finally, today somebody asked what happened, and it turned out several people had noticed my hand was messed up, but they were all too polite to bring it up.

      2. ACA

        It’s possible! I personally pay enough attention to people’s clothing that I’d notice and ask, just to make sure I wasn’t going crazy.

        1. TheLazyB

          Oh god when my co-worker had a different top on the other day i totally thought i was going crazy, but i’d rather think i was going crazy than potentially embarrass her.

          We’re both new and only met at the beginning of June. Give me another 6 months…. maybe i would ask. maybe.

      3. Shannon

        This. When I was a young woman, I had an embarrassing female problem at work. Went home to change and thanked God that no one noticed or commented.

        1. ACA

          Oh – in a pants change I probably wouldn’t comment, that’s true. But shirt/dress/entire outfit? Probably yes.

    5. Tagg

      This is actually a documented phenomenon called “change blindness.” Basically, if you don’t /see/ a change happening, more often than not your brain will literally disregard it and more or less go “oh, it must have always been that way.” There have been lots of studies done on it, and it’s fascinating. Search for “change blindness” on YouTube and you should come up with some pretty awesome videos – people can change clothing, skin color, even /gender/ and most people won’t notice it at all.

        1. GOG11

          I assume the change would have to be something you aren’t super familiar with. So, if there’s a random person in a store near you, unless you were actively paying attention to that person, they could swap out a man for a woman and you might not notice that it’s a different person. With coworkers, you’d probably have to keep things like gender static since you know them well enough to notice that drastic of a change, but you might not notice if there is a change in something that you’re not familiar with already (and things that we expect to change – like clothes, whether hair is up or down, etc.).

          1. Elizabeth West

            Possibly. We did have a cleaner who was trying to transition who worked for the company that serviced one job I had, and she showed up one day looking different. Longer hair worn down, wearing makeup, etc. “Call me Amanda now.” Cool, whatever. I definitely noticed, though.

            Postscript: I saw her again months later after I left that job, in the paper–she had been arrested for bank robbery. I felt terrible for her–I knew she probably did it because she didn’t get paid much and had talked about how badly she wanted surgery. :(

    6. Anie

      I’m always so loud about my wardrobe issues, lol. The last one involved a sweater. It was new (and so beautiful…) but 2 hours into the day I realized I was super allergic to the fabric. Of course, I realized in the middle of a meeting after scratching my arms so hard I started bleeding. Cue “WHY DOES EVERYTHING ON MY BODY HURT?! WHAT’S HAPPENING?!”

      My boss always insists I drop everything and shop for a replacement. Shoe giving me a blister? Hey, DSW is a block away. Oh, run in your tights? Macy’s is a block away! Forget your lunch/tampons/puppies? We’re in the middle of Boston and there’s hundred of places to chop at! Go!

      I try to be quick, but I remember once my boss showed up in a see-through shirt. She only went to find something else after the COO complained. Man, she was gone for at least 2 hours…

      1. HeyNonnyNonny

        Man, I always forget to bring my puppies to work…there’s no good puppy replacement store nearby though.

    7. Ama

      Hee, I work four blocks from my apartment and frequently go home for lunch. Wardrobe changes I have made that have gone unremarked upon:
      – Change of pants after spilling my lunch all over the first pair.
      – Kicking my shoes off when I came home for lunch and absent-mindedly putting on a different pair to leave.
      – Taking off an accessory (cardigan, belt) because I’d spent all morning fiddling with it.
      – Changing my jacket/coat and outwear to something completely different because of a drastic temperature change. (I happen to have very bright colored coats that many people in the office have commented on — but they never seem to notice if I change colors mid-day.)

      1. TheLazyB

        I would never notice a change of shoes. Hell my line manager had TWO DIFFERENT SHOES on for an hour and I didn’t notice. But still, neither did she…….!

    8. TheLazyB

      Now that’s weird, because a few weeks ago my co-worker had a completely different top on in the afternoon than the morning, and I didn’t say anything because maybe she’d spilled something all over herself and was embarrassed? I hope she wasn’t bothered because she thought I didn’t notice!

      1. ACA

        I wasn’t bothered, exactly, just confused because I’d been expecting someone to comment (as I said above, I pay a lot of attention to other people’s clothing!).

    9. Camster

      Too funny! My basic wardrobe colors are black tops, jeans (dark), black jeans and maybe the occasional purple top (I partially credit this to years of wearing a uniform all through my school years). If I changed anything, I doubt anyone would notice!

    10. AthenaC

      Just for fun, I wore the same shirt every day for a couple months. (Yes, I washed it regularly.) Why, you say? I work in a department full of men who are very odd in what they notice / don’t notice. If I wear a skirt it’s “What’s wrong?” If I wear a wrist brace it’s “What happened?” If I completely change my hair color – nothing. And now I know – if I wear the same clothes for a couple months – also nothing.

      Now, there is a slight possibility that they were all whispering behind my back – “Gee, Athena hasn’t changed her shirt in …. how long now? That’s weird!” But I doubt it.

      1. Regina

        I had a friend in college who wore the same outfit for two YEARS. He wasn’t broke or anything, he just wanted to.

        It was a big deal when he finally bought new clothes! He had to because his pants ripped.

          1. Regina

            I like that idea! I’d probably get a few different but similar shirts to match the black pants, but that’s just me and I don’t see anything wrong with the way she’s doing it if that works for her.

            I cleaned out my closet extensively two years ago and it makes choosing clothing so much easier. I try to buy clothes that are easy to mix and match, and I don’t buy any new clothes that I can’t see myself wearing at least every other week. Fun “wildcard” pieces can be tempting, but I prefer to spend my money and limited closet space on fewer things that I’ll enjoy more often.

      2. AnotherFed

        One of my coworkers with always wears the same thing to work. We tease him about it a little by claiming he’s a cartoon character, but if anyone else happens to wear something similar, we accuse them of stealing the outfit and leaving poor Coworker naked and locked in a supply cabinet.

        1. Sparkly Librarian

          BAHAHAHA!

          At one of my temp jobs after college, the director wore the same outfit most days. For one Halloween, the entire office of 20 people dressed in khakis, black loafers, and white button-downs, and put BART tickets in their breast pockets so you could see the stripe through the fabric. The director didn’t notice the first 2 or 3 people, but after a few minutes of people greeting him he caught on. :)

      3. Ruffingit

        Reminds me of the Seinfeld episode where Jerry’s girlfriend wore the same dress to each date.

  24. Come On Eileen

    When negotiating/making a case for a raise, do you ever have a backup request waiting if you’re turned down? I know when first negotiating salary with a company before being hired, a lot of folks successfully ask for other perks (extra week of vacation, etc) if they won’t budge on salary. Can you do the same thing when talking to your boss about a raise, or would that come across as out of step? Just curious what others have done — I’m going to talk with my boss about a raise next week and was thinking whether I should be keeping a secondary request in my back pocket if I get turned down.

    1. Applesauced

      A few months ago I had a performance review and asked for a raise. I had two numbers with me – one “reach” number (about 5-10%) if my review was stellar and one “cost of living increase” (3-5%) number if it wasn’t. I also discussed professional development and if the company could pay for some exams and/or professional association fees.

      1. Applesauced

        I had asked for extra vacation in lieu of extra pay when I first started and was told the company just does not do that. If yours does, it’s worth asking for.

  25. Gene

    This is a question on the “I don’t respect my bosses because I have a fresh degree and they’re old ” post, https://www.askamanager.org/2015/07/i-dont-respect-my-managers-college-degrees-from-20-years-ago.html

    The letter writer was properly castigated, but would your comments (including AAM’s) have been any different of the question had been,” I don’t respect my bosses’ degrees because my degree is from MIT and theirs are from University of South Dakota “?

      1. Christy

        This is going to sounds snarky and elitist and terrible, but a 3.25 from MIT is worth WAY more than a 4.0 from USD.

        1. NacSacJack

          I actually have to say, it does sound like that. How do you know the USD 4.0 isnt just better than the 3.25 MIT? Just because an institution is private does not make it better than a public one. Going to a private institution grants its graduates more opportunities but only because the elitest only want to hire someone like themselves.

          1. Anonsie

            I wouldn’t call it worth more but I would at least know the 3.5 was way harder to get at MIT than a 3.5 would normally let on just because I know people who went there and the competition is craaazyyy.

            That said, I went to a no-name school that was also fierce on grading, and my department in particular tended to be one of those “a C is average, a B is exceptional and no one is getting an A” type places, and it always burned my grits that someone seeing my B+ in organic chemistry would be unimpressed not knowing I was one of only two people who got higher than a C/D. So I wouldn’t say x grade at x school is “worth more” or necessarily more meaningful than another school, but I do have a hefty amount of respect for the amount of perseverance necessary to do ok at MIT.

          2. Christy

            I have friends who went to MIT, and I’ve heard how vigorous it is. I won’t say that MIT is automatically better, or that a candidate is automatically better, but a candidate is likely better if they went to MIT than if they went to Random State U.

            1. Christy

              (And I’m not talking about like Michigan or U Texas or elite state Us like that. I’m talking like random State U.)

            2. TL -

              Eh. An engineer from MIT is likely to have received a better engineering education than someone from university of Florida but that doesn’t mean they’re a better fit for every engineering job, or that they developed the ability to apply their knowledge outside of a classroom setting, or that they know how to be a good employee. Statically, it means that they’re probably white, from at least an upper middle class background, and had an interest in STEM in a community that held plenty of opportunities for them to pursue it.

        2. Melissa

          Disagree. I worked with undergrads at an elite private university on the level of MIT. There is rampant grade inflation at the top schools. I asked one of the professors I was assisting about it (who also happened to be the coordinator of undergraduate education in our department) and she told me point-blank that they do it because their competitors do it – they can’t have an average GPA of 3.25 if Harvard and Yale have an average GPA of 3.6 and are snapping up all of the plum jobs and med/law/business school slots because their students, on average, have higher GPAs.

          In fact, Harvard announced just two years ago that their average grade is an A-. Given the grade distribution we were required to maintain in my department, I wouldn’t be surprised if the same was true at the university I attended. A couple of sources have concluded that the average GPA at MIT is probably between a 4.2 and a 4.4 (equivalent of 3.2-3.4 on a 4.0 scale). So a person who got a 4.25 at MIT would be average. Now is average at MIT better than tippy-top at University of South Dakota? Maybe, but not necessarily.

          In fact, given what I’ve seen working with students from an elite university and also teaching summer students who came from a mix of colleges and universities (some from elite schools, some from schools I’ve never heard of, and everything in between), I’d say that if I were ever in the position to hire recent college graduates I’d pay less attention to where they graduated from and spend a lot more time looking at the things they did in college and beyond. This is especially true if the job requires writing, because one of the most interesting things I’ve learned is that elite college attendance does NOT guarantee good writing skills.

          That’s also neglecting the fact that GPA doesn’t really matter that much in job performance beyond a certain threshold. Were I hiring recent college graduates, given my experience with them, I wouldn’t much care about the difference between a 3.25 and a 3.67 or even a 4.0. In fact, I’m not sure I would ask for GPA at all were I hiring recent college grads.

          1. A Definite Beta Guy

            one of the most interesting things I’ve learned is that elite college attendance does NOT guarantee good writing skills

            What writing skills do your recent employees need, if I may ask?

            In retrospect, academic writing exercises did not prepare me for the business world. My professors already understood the concepts in my papers, and rarely struggled with any of the core ideas or logical connections. They wanted arguments, possibilities, and insights.

            My account managers and co-workers, however, do not have specialization in my job function, and do not want standard economist “on the other hand” statements. They want clear explanations and actionable items.

            1. Ad Astra

              I tested out of most of my required English courses in college, so almost all of my writing instruction was through the journalism school: huge emphasis on brevity and clarity. Most of the time, this comes in really hand in the business world — especially with emails and memos and such. Occasionally, I get the critique that a sentence doesn’t sound “official” enough, which guess means that it doesn’t include absurd phrases like “high rate of speed” and tons of passive voice.

          2. CA Admin

            This is so true. I went to UC Berkeley and we had no grade inflation. I was so proud of my B+ in Calculus II (for Math majors and Engineers) because there were maybe a half dozen people in the entire 200-person lecture with a higher grade than me. Our nemeses across the Bay (*cough cough* Stanford) had a much easier time with grades because they were paying too much to fail. I’d have gotten an A in Calculus there.

          3. Christy

            Fair. I would say that average at MIT is not necessarily better than a 4.0 at U South Dakota, but I would also say that a 4.0 at U South Dakota is not necessarily better than a 3.25 at MIT.

            I’m also weirdly biased about 4.0s because I had a friend at a state U who had a 4.0 who ended up making choices to protect his GPA over taking certain harder classes.

            (Also for the record I have an undergrad degree and a grad degree from different state universities.)

          4. Anonsie

            The grade inflation thing is off the rails at all the top tier schools I’ve ever heard anything about, though I had always heard from students I knew there that MIT doesn’t have nearly the same problem with it that the others do. Maybe they were big liars, maybe they were there long enough ago that it was true once?

            1. TL -

              It’s not as bad at MIT as at Harvard, but it’s still an issue that you wouldn’t see at somewhere like UT.

      2. fposte

        More practically, are you really going to dive into the GPAs your manager received 20 years ago?

    1. fposte

      As an academic, I’d say nope, nopity, nope, you’ve just revealed your inexperience and naivete, little scholar. One of the big kerfuffle posts was from somebody who was upset that he might be working for a dean with a degree from the University of Phoenix–I’ll post the link as it makes some interesting reading.

      1. Marcela

        Yes, yes. In academia we mostly don’t care about the university. The only ( infuriating) exception, in my experience, is when applying to a permanent/tenure track position, where the candidate’ degree and specially his PhD supervisor’s degree, is too important for a system that claims to be a meritocracy. Apart from that, nobody cares where you got your degree, as most of time it’s only representative of the money you or your parents have, and/or how lucky you were in the place you were born, not your knowledge or competence.

        1. fposte

          And a lot of that is about the program, not the university. North Dakota may have a more prestigious energy science grad degree than Harvard, for instance (I’m inventing but deliberately drawing on a Dakota strength).

          1. Melissa

            I think a dean at North Dakota made a joke about the school being the Harvard of aviation. They have a really well-respected aviation program.

            1. NacSacJack

              They do. UND is the premier place to get an Aviation degree around here. They maintain a fleet of planes for students to fly.

          2. Marcela

            I’d love to believe that the program or specific area is more important than the university name. But I’m not sure, at least not in the area of physics/chemistry we are. My husband’s PhD supervisor is one of the European top professors in this area, now a Max Plank Institute director, but my husband did not get even an interview in 3 years of applications. In comparison, a couple of friends with PhDs from Harvard with a recently tenured professor in the same area (my husband was a postdoc there), got a tenure track position in their first try. Perhaps it’s that this specific area does not have a very strong school anywhere, being not as specialized as, I don’t know, aviation or energy science. I just don’t know, but it embitters me.

            1. fposte

              That’s not my field, so I’m sure there are things I don’t know about. But I know there are some programs that have a single big-name person but don’t do much work beyond that or get much funding, so they don’t have much of an impact. I’m also not clear if we’re talking a European degree on the US market–if so, that’s going to be harder as well.

              But in general, the academic market is like trying to be a Navy Seal–look to the person to the left and right of you and assume that only one of you is going to make it. It’s really tough, and I’m sorry your husband (and therefore you) are having such a hard time.

              1. Marcela

                My former boss used to say that academia was like Hollywood (he was an entrepreneur and our job was his first one in an academic environment): the ones that promoted themselves better got all the contracts and prizes. He said that talking specifically about my husband, who is a great scientist (hehe, what else can I say =^.^=) but even for his life can’t talk about himself and his research in the way is common here in academia in America, where he is supposed to talk about the big importance of what he does, the revolutionary of his ideas and in general, what a great scientist he is.

                Yeah, it’s tough. But in general I feel we are very lucky :D

    2. Beezus

      If that was the only change? If the letter writer didn’t think the years of experience had enough weight to make up the difference, and/OR didn’t mention any shortcomings in the managers’ actual real-world abilities or effectiveness, I think the reaction would have been the same. I think the latter was a big deal.

    3. Christian Troy

      If that kind of stuff matters to you, then you should do your research and focus your job search accordingly. There are plenty of companies that strongly favor certain “selective” schools and programs. But if you went to Columbia and you’re living in Tampa, you need to have some reasonable expectation that your school isn’t going to be highly represented there and you might have to work for someone from USF.

    4. AvonLady Barksdale

      I went to a university that has an excellent reputation, is well-respected by many, and impresses a lot of people… who have heard of it. Leave the Northeast, and only people in certain circles have any idea what that school is or that it provides the education that it does. I worked for a very large company for a long time where you could lose track of all the Penn State, SUNY, Syracuse, and Rutgers alumni (still nothing to sneeze at, of course), but you could count the Ivy grads on your fingers. No one university gave anyone an academic advantage– alumni networks helped, sure, but that had little or nothing to do with the academic caliber of any one school.

      In short, my answer is– nope.

      1. Melissa

        My college is like that too. When I told people where I went to school in the Southeast (where the college is located, and where I grew up), everyone had heard of it, it was well-respected, I got stereotyped because of it, and some people reacted like they thought I was going to be snobby and elitist because of where I went. Now when I tell people where I went to college, I have to append a description to the college.

      2. Clever Name

        I went to TCU and graduated from a program that is very well-respected regionally. Now that I live in a different part of the country, people will ask me, “Oh, you went to Bible college?” Er no.

    5. GOG11

      I think the only way the problem wouldn’t be purely the asker’s issue is if the degree were from a for-profit university. I could see someone struggling to take that seriously and it being an issue with the degree due to the actual and rumored problems that come with certain for-profit schools (rather than a problem with elitism, mis-perceptions based on asker’s understanding of things, etc.).

      However, if it’s for-profit degree + 20 years of experience, I still think the experience trumps whatever degree, even to the point that many would find the degree a moot point because a great track record speaks for itself.

    6. Anonsie

      No. Were you expecting that it would be or are you just generally curious?

      PS on that thought, it was late in the day but if you haven’t seen it yet everyone needs to see that letter writer’s update in the comments. It’s… Disappointing.

      1. ACA

        Oh man, I’d missed that; just went back and read it. “Disappointing” is definitely a kind word for it.

        1. Shannon

          I can’t believe the OP likened the response to her question to Nazism and slavery. Well, I can, I just don’t want to.

      2. Marcela

        Do you remember the username OP used? I can’t find the update, unless I read all comments…

        1. L

          Username was: Wow. To everyone involved in this.

          It’s unfortunately about what you’d expect.

      3. Charlotte Collins

        I just went back and read the the OP’s comments. Then had flashbacks to when I did customer service for a health benefit. We always hated the calls from the psych providers, because they were often rude, unreasonable, and pretty full of themselves (not all, but a significant number). And they did their own billing, as opposed to hiring billing specialists – which interestingly enough does require specialized education and certification (due to such regular changes). Makes me wonder if the OP also has their AAPC certification or if s/he used properly educated specialists to handle claims.

        On the other hand, I always had great experiences talking to anyone from a pediatricians’ office.

        1. Anonsie

          I guess because a lot of psych providers are one-person businesses all on their own? I have heard a lot of horror stories about psych practice billing, now that you mention it, though even when you’re doing it right psych billing is kind of outlandish to my layman’s sensibilities.

        2. phillist

          There are people who would be surprised that medical billing is complicated and that you might need specialists for it?

          Wow. Hope those people don’t like getting paid for their services!

          Medical Billing is extremely complex. Especially psych, where individual insurances tend to make exceptions–so, your psychiatric treatment might be billed under medical but your therapy sessions might be billed under counseling through third-party coverage that partners with their medical insurance. And every insurance is different in their approach to mental health and how/what they’ll cover. And woe betide you if you work for an org that also gets grant money, and you have to work within the parameters of those grants (funding can go to this, but not to this and not if it’s paired with XYZ CPT code…).

          Sorry for the tangent but just…wow. My mind is blown.

          1. Charlotte Collins

            No – some people just like yelling at underpaid CSRs that they aren’t getting paid for their services, rather than just educate themselves to bill correctly or hire someone to do it for them. (I have a lot of respect for medical billing specialists – it’s a complicated job that requires regular retraining due to yearly changes in Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurance. And with ICD-10 coming – wow! Anyone in healthcare will know what I’m talking about.)

      4. Karowen

        Disappointing? I think the word you’re looking for is hilarious in its obstinacy. Because if I believe that she was serious at any point, I’d cry. Real tears.

        1. A Definite Beta Guy

          Perhaps this is just my Millennial generation, but accountants are not going to take non-accountants seriously. They’ve taken 5 years of classes with fail rates higher than many hard sciences, and then studied years to pass a major exam roughly on par with the Bar in terms of difficulty.

          You asking them to take a Motion Sciences major seriously as an Accountant is like asking a group of lawyers to take a Basket Weaver seriously as a lawyer. You can ask it, they might even politely nod, but most of them will think you have lost your marbles.

          1. AthenaC

            Plus, if you spend some time as an auditor (at any tier of the market), stories abound of:

            – the medical practice accounting staff who don’t know what “accounts receivable” refers to or why one might need a valuation allowance on medical practice receivables. Their boss (the CFO) doesn’t know either.
            – the controller that blinks at you in confusion when you ask, “Where is the other side of this entry? You’ve shown me the credit to A/P, where did the debit go?”

            And many others. The one thing they consistently have in common? No CPA or accounting education. Knowing how to enter transactions in is no substitute for knowing why things are done a certain way, and one is unlikely to learn the “why” on the job. Accounting jobs aren’t designed to teach a person accounting; they are designed to assign people queues of tasks that they have to clear.

          2. fposte

            It’s not about how seriously you take the major, it’s about how seriously you take the manager. This is what people working in that OP’s health care organization did 20 years ago. Majors are only a means to an end–if the end is that this person, 20 years on, is a decent and effective manager, that’s what matters, whether they got there by the high road or the low road.

            And Navy SEALs pass tests much harder than accountants have to undergo, but that doesn’t mean they’d be better suited to running a finance office. The ability to leap hurdles only matters when those are the obstacles on your road.

      5. Windchime

        Yeah, my opinion of the OP hasn’t changed for the positive. I could see a snotty 20 year old saying those things, but the fact that it’s a 40 year old so-called “professional” person–wow. I think this guy is going to have a tough row to hoe with this big chip on his shoulder (and yes, I did mix my metaphors, thanks for noticing!)

    7. Anonymous Educator

      I’ve learned not to judge people by the schools they went to, for at least the following reasons:

      1. Some of the people I most respect as people and professionals went to less-prestigious schools.

      2. Most prestigious schools are prohibitively expensive, so sometimes attending a state school or community college is the only (relatively) “affordable” way to get a college degree.

      3. Even if there is some actual indicator of drive or intellect that a prestigious school attendance reflects, that was one time in that person’s life (usually ages 18-22). People grow and change and learn. If you talk to a lot of adult professionals in their 30s, 40s, and beyond, you’ll find many did stupid things when they were young or were less mature or less learned. Thinking less of someone based on what school she went to ten or twenty years ago makes no sense.

      4. Related to #3, most people’s day-to-day jobs have very little to do with the actual stuff they studied in college. Yes, you can gain other things from what school you attend (networking with alumni, out-of-classroom intellectual discussions), but chances are the academic classes you took did very little to practically prepare you for the working world (I was an English major—believe me, I know).

    8. Ad Astra

      An MIT degree is very impressive, and will certainly catch my eye when I’m thumbing through resumes. But the only thing I know for absolute certain about an MIT grad is that they’re really good at school. Great! I love school! But work is not school. What matters is how good you are at doing this job, in this company. The MIT grad might have a dreamy list of hard skills, all the necessary soft skills, great industry knowledge, and a sparkling personality, but then… the South Dakota grad might have all those things too.

      Not to mention, there are many people who were smart enough to go to MIT but chose a place like University of South Dakota to avoid taking out loans, or to care for their sick parents, or to play on the football team, or because they hate Boston. The name of someone’s school is not, by itself, enough information to tell me who’s better at their job.

      1. TL -

        Or a lot of people go to MIT even though it’s a terrible fit for them and have an absolutely horrible time that may actually interfere with their ability to get the education they need, when university of south Dakota would have been a better fit and allowed them more time to focus on an educating they enjoyed/valued while being able to develop things like social skills and outside interests. And they would have been a better employee for having gone to a less prestigious school.

  26. Webinar tips

    I’m filling in for a coworker next week presenting a webinar. I’ve presented before, but never in a virtual format. Does anyone have any tips I should be aware of? Are the PowerPoint rules the same for a webinar as they are for an in person presentation? Thanks!

    1. Elkay

      Make sure you’re comfortable with the audio options so you can trouble shoot for attendees if necessary. Communicate how you want to take questions – audio, using the “hand up” option in webex, typed questions. Can you do a dry run with a colleage?

    2. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)

      1) If you have any say over the content/agenda, build in LOTS of opportunity for engagement. People learn better from having conversations about ideas than just hearing them delivered. Good training follows a cycle of anchoring people with knowledge they already have, adding to that knowledge, and giving them an opportunity to apply the new knowledge. Even if you’re not training, you can use the same concepts to help make sure whatever message you’re delivering sticks. So, e.g., in a webinar in which you’re reporting about sales results from this quarter, you could start by asking participants to chat in the sales successes or challenges they’ve had or observed in the past few months; then walk through the numbers; then ask participants to reflect about and chat in ideas they have about what the results mean – what are the trends they observed, what are they worried or excited about, what does it make them think about actions they might take next quarter, etc. Even if your goal is just for them to know the sales results, thinking about them in this way will help them sink in far better than just seeing slides with graphs.

      2) If you will have the chat open to participants, assign someone other than you to manage the chat – you will not be able to keep up with it. (And if you have say over whether you use the chat, definitely use it – people are way more engaged with questions/responses/etc. in the chat than by voice).

      3) If you are using video, remember to look at the camera, not the screen. That way, you will appear to be looking at participants when they view your stream. You may want to tape key points/notes/etc. up near the camera so you don’t have to look down for them.

      4) Speak more slowly than you normally do. It will sound weird to you, but be easier for participants to hear and understand.

      1. powerpoints

        I came back up here from my question below on powerpoints…these are such great suggestions, thank you!

        Is it overkill to ask a question with nearly every slide? I’m going to be covering some Topic X basics at the beginning (for new staff and because a lot of existing staff doesn’t know that much about it, isn’t confident in it). One slide is like, Types of X (ask audience to name types of X before diving into content); next slide, Benefits of X (ask audience to guess some benefits first). And this is for several slides.

        1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)

          I wouldn’t ask just for the sake of asking on every slide. In fact, I wouldn’t even think about the presentation as a series of slides.

          Instead, I’d think about the content you want to deliver/the knowledge you want them to walk away with, and build the presentation to support that. If you’re covering a lot of basics at the beginning, I’d probably try to draw out the knowledge that some of the people in the room have. I might start with a slide that just lists the headers for the kind of content you’re covering, like this:

          – Types of X
          – Benefits of X
          – Challenges with X

          etc.

          Then acknowledge that some folks already have experience with X and ask them to share their experiences. What types of X have they used? What were the benefits? etc. Capture that info on your slide deck, or on a whiteboard or whatever. Next you might go to a series of slides that has the content you want to deliver (a slide for types of X, a slide for benefits of X, etc.) and just go over the pieces that they audience didn’t come up with themselves.

          I’m a total training nerd and I’d actually be super happy to keep talking about this. Do you want to share your email and we can talk more there?

          1. Powerpoints

            You’ve really inspired me! I’m going to do the “basics” section as you described and I can even do a big piece of the policy section this way, too, I think! I’m on mobile but I’ll put an anonymized email today and hopefully we can connect!

        2. Powered by eight nuclear-heated Pratt and Whitney NP-4051 turbojets

          There are many, many different ‘philosophies’ on how to use PowerPoint. I’ve noticed that some people (Steve Jobs, for example) would prioritize the speaker’s words over the PPT content. So you’d have a foil that simply had the number “250,000,000” on it, and SJ would chime in with “the number of iOS devices in the world today” (or something) and expound at length.

          At the other end of the spectrum, it’s like: you’re expecting people to refer to the PPT material at a later date, and so the foils contain a lot more information. I’ve observed a lot of variation in how people speak with this kind of PPT, but in general they’ll provide some kind of summary.

          Pragmatically, I’d advise that you show up early so you have time to do a trial run and debug things. Ideally, you’ll have an assistant to help you with technical issues – you don’t want everyone waiting on you while you attempt to help someone with an audio issue. If someone asks a question, always repeat it for the benefit of everyone else before you launch into an answer. My personal experience with these things is that they often do not start on time due to one or more people having technical issues, so steel yourself to just launch into the presentation at no later than 5 minutes after the scheduled time. Is there someone who is ‘running’ the technical aspects of the webinar? If so, make sure you talk to them beforehand and ask them for tips.

    3. AvonLady Barksdale

      Agreed, speak slowly. And pause after either every slide or every couple of slides, and ask if anyone has questions. Not being able to see the room makes things tough, but only slightly.

      Smile when you speak– it will keep you sounding engaged. I tend to be an “active” presenter, talking with my hands, moving around, and I do that even if no one else can see me.

      Practice not letting your voice “sink”. It’s so easy to get kind of gravelly and flat as you present to no one, with no visible reactions.

    4. Rowan

      You will have to work much harder for participation – take a list of the people’s names and address them by name whenever you want them to contribute.

      If you can have someone else there to provide support should anyone struggle logging in, keep an eye on the chat and mute anyone who’s forgotten that there’s a webinar happening and is merrily singing while they wash their dishes (this has happened to me!) do.

      Good luck!

    5. Not So NewReader

      Am shaking my head. I just had a webinar this week and I felt sooo very embarrassed for the person.
      My learning experiences:
      1) Be used to the sound of your own voice. (I thought that was obvious, guess not, though.)
      2)Don’t apologize every time you stutter. It makes the listeners feel bad. Ignore the stutter, move on.
      3)Make sure people have what they need before you start. If you are into the webinar and people are still asking where the PP is to print out they are not listening to you.
      4) Make sure you have your facts straight before you start. If you are uncertain on a particular fact do not repeat it five times as being Fact. When the Big Wig calls you in the middle of the webinar to correct you about Fact, try not to sound like someone killed your puppy dog as you explain that Fact may not be accurate.
      5) If you have a Q and A time, before you start the Q and A make sure you state what types of questions you will handle right now and what types of questions the listener needs to email to you. Let’s say you are not set up to handle situation specific questions, just say that so everyone knows what to expect.

      Yeah, I felt bad about this whole thing. I think what happened was someone got to work and was told, “BTW, you are doing a webinar in 3 hours.” Not good.

  27. Katie the Fed

    I had to let a contractor go this week. It’s easier than firing a government employee, but it’s still not easy. Especially because of the hiring and contracting slowdown, removing someone from a contract can be as good as firing them – their companies probably won’t keep them around if they’re not performing well for clients.

    In this case it was someone who was gonig through the steps of making an effort, but just wasn’t improving. We’re paying good money for a certain capability level. I worked with him on specific issues but there just wasn’t improvement so I had to cut him loose for the good of the team. THe team is very relieved – they had been carrying him and he was really dead weight on the team.

    But he really didn’t take it well at all. I think his background was a mismatch for the position but..ugh. It was an awful conversation.

    1. it happens

      You made your employees happy, hooray!
      Could you please go over to windchime’s office and take care of her problem now? ;)
      We really should have a guest-employee-manager program – ‘oh, hey, I have this problem that you’ve solved in your place, wanna come over and do it again for a week here?’

      1. OfficePrincess

        That would be fantastic. Someone to objectively deal with the situation without the complicated part where you know he’s a good guy/great at lightening the mood/great baker/single parent/just bought a house/whatever unrelated issue.

        1. Windchime

          No kidding, that would be awesome. Not awesome that the guy would be getting let go, but for someone completely unbiased and uninvolved to make the decision.

    2. OfficePrincess

      I’m sure it was a tough conversation, but it spared you how many more difficult conversations with him trying to drag him up to where he needed to be or with the rest of your team about how they’re frustrated and struggling to pick up the slack?

    3. cuppa

      Letting someone go has to be one of the hardest good things you can do for a team. That sucks!

    4. Same

      Same thing for me, except (1) it was an employee and (2) coworkers couldn’t really see that he wasn’t doing his job except for his manager. The rest of staff is stunned at the sudden departure, and he left threatening to sue and calling us names. It is an ugly part of the job. I feel completely wrung out, so much empathy!!!

    5. The Toxic Avenger

      Hi, Katie – is this the person you’ve talked about before? The person who you tried and tried with?

    6. Ama

      I’m sure it was horrible, but good for you. I’ve been an employee stuck picking up slack for someone who everyone knew was slacking off but whose boss wouldn’t hear a word said against her and it is a real morale sapper.

    7. AnotherFed

      Good for you! It being hard just means you actually thought about it and tried to help. But when your team is relieved to see someone go, that’s a really big indicator that you’ve done the right thing – this guy may even have been negative help if one less set of hands is being seen as relief.

    8. phillist

      Ugh, I think I have to do this soon (with an employee, not a contractor).

      I know my team’s primary response will be relief, but this person has a lot of personal problems and even though I have long developed the Managerial Thick Skin of Survival, I still feel badly about it. I’m trying everything I can to save them, but ultimately it’s so far beyond being a bad fit, it’s painful.

  28. Amelia

    I had a good laugh at a rejection email I got the other week. The subject line just said “Decline”. I think whoever set up their rejection form letter could have picked a less rude phrase. :P

    1. AndersonDarling

      Ha! I wonder if they choose that over “Hell No!”
      Rest assured, you probably wouldn’t want to work for a company that doesn’t care about how they treat their candidates.

    2. CollegeAdmin

      When I applied for an internal position that was later canceled, my status in the application system went from “Interviewing” to “No.” Perhaps our HR people went to the same school of one-word negative responses?

    3. GOG11

      For some reason, this makes me think about Daleks. “REPUDIATE!” (closest “-ate” word I could find for reject…)

        1. YourOwnPersonalCheeses

          An old boss of mine used to write TERMINATED across the schedule of employees who left (and it didn’t matter whether they were fired or had quit). Yeah, real nice, boss!

    4. Kai

      Ouch!

      I just applied for a job and got a rejection within 40 minutes, so I’m feeling the sting pretty good today, too.

    5. Charlotte Lucas

      Perhaps they were giving advice on what to do should you receive a job offer from them?

    6. Pokémon Trainer

      Slightly different situation, but I received a “Sorry, you weren’t admitted” email from a graduate program I applied to several years ago and a week later, received another rejection from the university via physical mail. Point taken :p

    7. Lindsay J

      Maybe they intended that to be the saved title for the rejection template, rather than the title for the email itself?

  29. Clarifying Role

    So one of our newer employees seems confused about my role in the company and I think I need to sit him down and clarify with him. He came from an academic background to our small company (less than 25 employees) and was warned before ever being offered the job that we have very limited support staff and everyone has to fend for themselves, for the most part. I am the Operations Manager and wear many different hats, yay small company, but support of our mid-level engineers is not one of them. We really don’t have anyone that does.

    Does anyone have phrasing or words of wisdom for how they’ve had that type of conversation in the past?

    1. Ann O'Nemity

      I like what you said above, basically, “This is a small company with very limited support staff, so all employees must take care of all those details [like blank, blank recent requests] that support staff usually handles in larger companies. I won’t be able to help you with those kinds of things.”

      1. fposte

        I might be even more specific. “Bob, you’ve asked me to do your copying. That’s not what I do, and everybody here is expected to do their own copying–that also goes for communication with vendors and making travel arrangements, both of which you’ve asked me to do. If you have questions about other duties you’re not sure if you’re supposed to handle, let me know and I’ll be happy to tell you.”

        And if you have done any of these to be nice, stop completely.

        1. Clarifying Role

          I like this wording. Thanks. So far I’ve pushed back on everything but since it seems like a pattern, I think I need to be specific with him to avoid future requests.

    2. cuppa

      Well, when it happened to me, I really didn’t like the guy and basically told him, “I have too many important things to do than to answer your phone.” YMMV, but it worked for me :)

      He ended up being put out to pasture for other reasons not much later after that, which is why I think I didn’t get in trouble for it.

      1. Clarifying Role

        I’ve been tempted with that and suspect the same will happen with this person as yours. There are already other red flags that are worrying people. Time will tell…

    3. Anonylicious

      “I’m not your damn secretary.” (This is why no one asks me for words of wisdom.)

        1. INFJ

          I employ this tactic with my boyfriend.

          BF: I really wish we had another shoe rack like this one.

          Me: You know where bed bath & beyond is.

    4. Not So NewReader

      I had to explain to a person that they had to do X on their own. (Where X was a distasteful task.)
      “When X happens, we do not have Y employee to remedy that. So we all do it for ourselves and on our own. We are not that large a place and there is not that many of us to justify having a Y person.”

      I would also give examples of what your role in this person’s work life is. “I do A, B and C. If you need M or N, I am the person you talk to.” I think the only way to get through it is to be specific.

      1. Mike C.

        It’s disgusting, but won’t get far. I think it’s more of a “look what I did” for the elections than anything else.

  30. Not My Usual Name

    It’s been a few Fridays since I was able to post, but I am now halfway through my notice period following being terminated. The good news is I have some interviews lined up, plus the feedback from 2 second round interviews, but I don’t like the uncertainty. There is also the risk of a gap in my CV, but I might be able to spin it as taking a holiday before commencing a new job.

  31. NicoleK

    So I need suggestions on how to break this terrible habit. I tend to roll my eyes when I’m annoyed. Obviously, it’s not a great coping mechanism in the work place. Help….

    1. OfficePrincess

      I have a very transparent face, so I feel you. I will split my attention a bit and think about something completely unrelated like “lemons are tart, Percival is an idiot, did I turn the dishwasher on when I left this morning?” Obviously there are times when you have to pay full attention, but normally just one fleeting thought is enough to keep a neutral expression. When that’s not an option, try doing something physical like pushing your foot up against the chair leg or tapping your finger on your leg if you can do it without being seen.

      1. Diddly

        This is useful I also have a v transparent face – which I learned when someone videoed me peeved off and I thought I was giving off neutral vibes… Yeesh – scared myself,

      2. Melissa

        Ha, I was about to make the same recommendation. When I hear something that makes me want to roll my eyes, I have to very quickly think of something unrelated. “Puppies! Puppies are cute. Wow, the sky sure is blue today.”

    2. Cordelia Naismith

      I’ve found HabitRPG to be really helpful when trying to break a bad habit (or start a good one).

        1. Gandalf the Nude

          Whoa. This is going to change my life. It would be nice to have a clean kitchen for more than a few days at a time!

    3. fposte

      Find another one. It’s easier to change a habit than to extinguish it. What about trying to take a deep breath, or stretch your toes, or something harmless and maybe even beneficial instead?

    4. msbadbar

      This is a little goofy, but I wanted to share it. I recently got the idea to pretend that I’m beige paint–flat, neutral, unexciting–when I feel frustrated at work. (Seriously.) When I need to, I think, “beige paint.” This is even goofier, but I’m thinking about pick up one of those paint samples in beige and tape it to my monitor.
      :P

      1. OfficePrincess

        Hey whatever works. At OldJob I had a small picture of an inhaler on my monitor to remind me to breathe. (Three guesses why I left….)

      2. Slimy Contractor

        I used to keep a tiny rubber duck at my desk to remind me to let things roll off me like water off a duck’s back. It started one day when I was kvetching to a coworker, and I said, “I need to let it roll off my back. I need to be Zen about it. I need to be a Zen duck!” I would say “Zen duck” to myself, then take a deep breath and look at the duck to get recentered.

      3. GOG11

        This is such a good idea. I try to be neutral to some of my colleagues and it doesn’t always come out well.

        Colleague: Do you know if so-and-so got divorced? I saw it in the paper. Is it THE so-and-so we work with?
        What I mean to say: I don’t know. *shrug* Isn’t the weather nice?
        What it comes out like: No, I don’t know if so-and-so got divorced, and if I did, I wouldn’t tell you…if so-and-so wants you to know, so-and-so will. tell. you.

        Beige paint.

    5. Anie

      I roll my eyes a LOT when annoyed…but I also do it when not paying attention or when thinking.–as in I kind of glance up and to the side to contemplate new information. I got called out once and it was so horrible. I was meeting with a really well-respected person in my industry. He was speaking in a small, sit-down group and I glanced away to think about a point he’d made. He hard stopped and asked me point-blank why I’d just rolled my eyes at him. I was baffled and embarrassed and like, “Wut?! Nooooooo.”

      There was no saving that meeting. And I still haven’t broken the habit. :/

      1. SherryD

        I’m so glad to hear it’s not just me! I was called out once for being an eye-roller, and I was completely humiliated. And surprised and confused. And shamed. I didn’t even know I was doing it.

    6. Charlotte Lucas

      My sister does this, and she has unusually large eyes, so it’s really noticeable. I do it but not as much. I’m more likely to close my eyes when I feel like this. People who know me well know what it means.

      When I was an instructor/trainer, my classes always knew that when I covered my eyes with my hands – look out!

  32. Jennifer M.

    I recently transferred from a satellite office back to the HQ because the project in the satellite was done (3 year project). I was in HQ before then. They have a program for returning corporate employees where we get 3 months to find a job within the existing opening. Well, we get 3 months of guaranteed work but they will extend it if you are in demand. I’ve been filling in with my old department as it is recruiting replacements for departures, though quiteOne I wan frankly I will not go back there full time.

    Anyway, I had 2 interviews 2 weeks ago for internal positions. One I wanted and one I didn’t. I got a call from HR on Monday for the one I wanted. I didn’t get it. But the Managing Director of that department pulled me aside to let me know that this wasn’t the end of it. She wants me in her department but the team wanted someone with more new business experience (it wasn’t a new biz role) and she felt like she should defer to their preference. However, my old dept (A) interacts with this desired dept (B) and the person in A assigned to support B is leaving at the end of the month because his family is moving for his wife’s job. The Managing Director asked if I could cover for him while dept A recruits for the replacement that way everyone in Dept B could get to know me. I had previously helped out for a week in June and those who worked with me did have great feedback and since she expects to have another opening in the next 6-8 weeks (it depends on winning some new contracts), she thought this would be a good opportunity. So fingers crossed that this works out.

  33. TLT

    In January, I interviewed twice for a position that I was the “second first choice” for, meaning I didn’t get the job. Last week, I got a call from a recruiter at this local government agency telling me their hire didn’t work out and was I still interested. I said yes, she relayed this and my salary request to the hiring manager who emailed me and said that she should have an answer by Tuesday of this week. Well, Tuesday has come and gone, I haven’t heard anything. So I called the recruiter Wednesday. I still haven’t heard anything and I’m so annoyed/frustrated! Is this typical with local government agencies to get held up like this? Do I call the recruiter again?

    1. Chocolate Teapot

      I think it’s an issue with recruiters everywhere. My rule of thumb is that if they say they will have a response by the beginning of the week, expect it by the end.

      Hope the position works out!

      1. TLT

        Thanks for the luck! The other complicating factor is that while I was not pregnant when interviewing, now I am 27 weeks pregnant and haven’t had a chance to meet in person. I didn’t want to disclose this until I have an offer, so here I am getting more pregnant by the second as I wait for a call from either the hiring manager or the recruiter. Ugh, patience is a virtue I am currently not possessing.

  34. kozinskey

    I have a lot of issues with the job I’m in and desperately want to move on, but I’ve pretty much decided to stick it out until I hit the 3-year mark because that’s when my retirement benefits vest 100%. I’ve been here a year and 10 months, and this is my first job in this field. It’s a state job, so benefits are handled through a different agency rather than our HR person. This week, I received a retirement benefits statement saying my benefits had vested — they had calculated my date of hire from when I was here as an intern, rather than when I started full-time a year later. I’m 99% sure this was a mistake on their part, but it’s making me want to start my job hunt right now.

    Would I be ethically in the wrong if I didn’t contact the retirement office about this? What are the chances they wouldn’t notice the error if I left before my 3 years were up?

    1. Diddly

      I’m not sure about ethically. But if it’s a wrong calculation and you leave early based on it, and then they figure it out then I would assume you lose out, so it could make things tenuous for you – I don’t like living under an uncertainty that could later bite me, so I’d check with HR how your start date was calculated.
      I’m not sure by what you mean by being vested – but is it worth waiting out 2 years to do so at a job you don’t like? I don’t think you lose anything by looking for jobs whether it’s an error or not.

      1. kozinskey

        The retirement plan is set up so that I contribute X amount every month, and my employer puts in X*1.5 percent every month. It’s a fantastic plan. Right now I have about $4000 of my own money in there and $6,000 of my employer’s, but I won’t be entitled to any part of the share my employer put in until I’ve contributed for 3 years.

        It’s enough extra to make me want to stick it out, but I’m also at the start of my career and will have lots of time to build up retirement anywhere. On the other hand, I’d only have to wait a year and two months for it to be vested under my correct start date, and the closer I get to the 3-year mark, the more money I’d leave on the table by walking out early. Getting that statement has just made me weigh these factors all over again =\

        1. fposte

          They will have no compunction whatsoever about a clawback if it turns out this is in error and you leave assuming it’s correct, and that’s going to be a royal PITA. I would either call and clarify, since it’s possible that legally your intern hire *does* count, or pretend I never saw the statement. But I wouldn’t believe it was wrong and hope it would be right.

          1. K

            Agree. I don’t see why you’re assuming it’s an error. They probably know what they’re doing. Does it say anywhere in the paperwork that internships don’t count?

            1. kozinskey

              Well, I wasn’t contributing to the plan as an intern receiving hourly pay & no benefits. The plan brochure says you have to contribute for 3 years. Moreover, I was a summer intern, so even if the 3 months I was there counted, there would still be almost a year when I wasn’t employed by the state at all being counted if they went off my first hire date.

              1. fposte

                Call and clarify, then, or ignore it and go with the date you know to be true. Don’t move forward as if this were right–I really think you’ll be sorry.

                And do the math, and redo it every time you look at a job possibility. Don’t get blinded by the sunk-cost fallacy. If you find a good job that pays $2k more, that’ll make up the $6k difference in only three years, and you’ll like the job better, which I’d say is worth $6k on its own.

          2. kozinskey

            Ooh, you raise a good point about how much of an annoyance it would be if they figured it out after the fact. I could absolutely see that slipping by them until the time came for them to pay out and then making a big mess out of figuring out what share is mine at that point.

        2. Monodon monoceros

          I would 1) check the date of hire policy. I worked a state job as an intern once, and i think that time counted for vesting. I know it counts for “time in service” if I ever worked for them again; 2) start looking at new jobs. Be picky. If something really amazing comes up, then you can decide whether that job is worth more than the money you’ll leave on the table.

        3. Not HR

          Ask.
          You say two different things, tho: you have to work there three years and that you have to have contributed for three years. If it’s work there three years and your (presumably paid) internship counts, that’s one thing. If it’s contributed to the retirement plan for three years that’s different.
          I’d get this clarified, and in writing.

          And good for you for contributing to your retirement plan so early in your career!

    2. MaryMary

      It may not be an error, sometimes retirement benefits eligibility goes back to original date of hire, even if you weren’t eligibile for other benefits like health insurance as an intern.

      If it is an error, neither your employer or the administrator is obligated to allow you to stay vested when you shouldn’t be. They might not even notify you that they identified and fixed the error if you’re still actively employed and accruing service. Once you leave, they may or may not go after you to get their money back. Sometimes employers don’t collect if it’s their error. However, since you work for the state, I think it’s likely they’d try recoup the money. I get where you’re coming from, but you’re better off calling to see if it’s an error or not.

    3. kozinskey

      I just called them. The person I spoke with was able to tell me immediately that I’m not vested. She also said there’s no way to fix the statements I get so they show the correct date of hire & vesting date. I feel like that’s a little bizarre, but maybe just a function of state government systems. At any rate, I’m glad I called & know where I stand with them.

    4. Steve G

      Are you sure staying is worth the $$? If you are new to the field and it is a state job, let’s estimate your salary at 40K. You contribute 6%, they contribute 1/2, or 3%. So you’ve put in $4400, they’ve put in $2200, as per month 22. Is losing $2200 really that important at this point? I could see it making a big difference if tens of thousands are at stake, but not if the amount is less than….IDK…my cutoff would be about $7K-$8K.

    5. AnonAcademic

      Don’t assume. I thought I didn’t qualify for an employer’s pension plan because the handbook said you had to have 3 years and I left at 2 years 10 months. Imagine my surprise when I got a pension statement from them in the mail a few months later! They had been autodeducting from my paycheck and I never even noticed.

    6. Sunday

      Question: what are your self confidence and work habits worth to you? That’s the choice you seem to be making.
      How long will it take to recover them in a new job? How will that change your earning potential?
      My vote is to start looking. You may find something terrific in your agency/state system that allows you to continue to accrue and vest but you may find something better elsewhere.
      Good luck to you.

  35. Helen of What

    I had an odd interview experience and then saw it come up elsewhere, so I thought I’d ask if it was common. In my interview, I spoke to two would-be coworkers and one of them managed to interrupt me, ask difficult questions very quickly after I’d answered the previous one, and basically did his best to interrogate me about how I would handle tricky situations that often come up in the role. I didn’t let it phase me, and when that part of the interview was over I heard the team laughing outside, and the words “She handled it well!” (And indeed, I did make it to the next interview stage.) I guess they wanted to see how I handle pressure.

    Today, I just read a glassdoor review where the interviewer was intentionally irritating and rude, and condescending, probably to see how the interviewee would react. I think it’s terrible to surprise someone this way! Has anyone else had this experience, or has an inkling of why employers would do it?

    1. Diddly

      Yes – once happened to me – it was literally like the interviewers were playing good cop and bad cop. I’m not sure if they were doing it intentionally, but it came off that way. It just seemed dumb really, the other interviewer – bad cop – was dismissive and rude, I think now I would have been able to speak for myself but then I was taken off guard.
      I think it somewhat makes sense to see how the candidate deals with pressure – and for instance difficult people/customers – but it also might put your candidate off from wanting to work there with difficult people. So I guess you were lucky in hearing – she got through it! – because you knew that wasn’t what it was like day-to-day (?) otherwise it’s indicating this person is a difficult person and you managed them well. (But who wants to do that daily…)
      Lol I’m torn, interviewers seem to forget they’re likely your first impression of the company – they’ve got to come across well too… And confusing stuff like this doesn’t help.

      1. Helen of What

        Yeah, it helped them that the “bad cop” chilled out after the initial interrogation. But it was very weird, and could easily put off lots of otherwise stellar candidates. They never called, anyway!

    2. AndersonDarling

      I wouldn’t handle that well. I would assume the interviewers are jerks and would turn down any future interviews/offers. Even being told it was a “test” couldn’t repair the impression the interviewers made.

    3. Ad Astra

      That’s really weird, and for me would be a sign that this is not an office culture I want to be a part of.

      I did have a job where my coworkers and I got to talk with candidates who would potentially become peers, but we asked pretty basic questions and spent most of our time answering questions. A group of 3-5 people “interviewing” a single candidate can be kind of an intimidating setup, but we definitely didn’t interrogate them like this. So weird.

    4. cuppa

      I don’t like being interrogated and stressed, and I don’t like being manipulated to be “tested”, so even if I passed their stupid test I wouldn’t take the job.

    5. fposte

      There are a few situations where a stress interview makes sense, but most of the time it’s just because the interviewer likes the idea. And in that case, it’s just dumb.

      1. Anx

        Some of my very first interviews were stress interviews, but I haven’t had as much of them lately. I think they really screwed me up during my job search. I was so nervous all of the time. Maybe they were more in vogue in 2009?

        The worst interviews have been the ones after which I couldn’t tell if the interviewer was a jerk or trying to stress me out.

    6. Malissa

      At my last job my predecessor, in the interview, fired questions at me like it was the final timed round on Family Fued. I fired my answers back just as quickly.

    7. Elizabeth West

      I don’t like this sort of thing–you don’t expect people to be rude in interviews, and it rarely mirrors on-the-job stress. The incentives would have to be really spectacular for me to dismiss this kind of thing.

      The one time I had to deal with good cop/bad cop, it was with actual cops, and I just ignored the rude, interrupting one and talked to his partner.

    8. AnotherFed

      I’ve never had this happen where the intent was to be rude and interrogating, but I have seen some interviews for jobs that involved a lot briefing to non-nonsense, inquisitive audiences set up the interview to mirror how a lot of the presenting would work. My organization’s culture also tends towards brusque and formal until you know the person well. That combo could absolutely seem like an interrogation if you didn’t realize that it was pretty normal for the job and that part of presenting well to that audience is keeping it utterly factual and non-emotional, no matter what the questions are – whether bizarre, insulting, completely idiotic, totally unrelated, etc.

    9. Powered by eight nuclear-heated Pratt and Whitney NP-4051 turbojets

      I’ve been interviewing a lot of people recently, and as part of that I’m coming into contact with other people who are conducting interviews, and there’s just a lot of variation on how people choose to conduct an interview. Earlier this year I conducted a number of interviews with one or two other people as ‘co-interviewers’ – we had a general agreement about the overall flow of the interview, but we never conspired to any kind of good cop / bad cop routine. That could be a sign of a crappy “Repo Man” workplace culture – or it could simply be that the interviewers are kinda jerk-y.

      We never tried to make anyone tense up – in fact, we put a lot of effort into trying to get people to relax, as we didn’t want them to think we were ‘ganging up’ on them. However, tense moments did arise spontaneously, and we’d definitely notice when it happened, and it was not unusual for us to discuss how well (or un-well) the candidate handled it.

      BTW: having two or three people interview a person at the same time worked out better than I would have thought. It saved a lot of time, plus having a post-interview discussion was very useful.

    10. INFJ

      This is awful. I think the person doing this doesn’t realize he may be unnecessarily alienating a future coworker. I would be particularly embarrassed/humiliated if I heard the coworker laughing about it later.

      I don’t think you should view this as a reflection of the company per we, since this seemed to be the bad idea of one person, not in management.

  36. A note about counter offers

    Last fall I applied for and got an offer for a position in LA with a huge pay raise. I got my offer letter and I gave notice to my current employer (in San Diego). My current manager went to some meetings, made some calls and on my last day, came back with a counter offer. The money was not as good, but worth it to me to not have to move (and not have to live/work in Los Angeles). So the Friday before I was scheduled to start on Monday, I had to call the new job and tell them I was not coming. Of course, that conversation was not pleasant; burnt bridge there. Fast forward to last month, and due to failing sales, guess who was the first laid off at my company. Lesson learned – if you get a good offer, take it, expand your horizons and move on – even if things seem amicable, or strictly business, there is always the chance of some resentment when you strong arm your company for more money with an ultimatum.

    1. Laurel Gray

      Damn! I am so sorry this happened to you. This is another story I have to save and file in the “never take a counter offer ever” box. In the moment I know that can be a very difficult decision.

  37. Jennifer

    Not only did I not get the job I really wanted, I didn’t even make it to the second round. Because even with over a decade of experience in an obscure specialty, I STILL WASN’T ENOUGH.
    I am so angry and sad. I am convinced that God must want me to get fired from this job instead of finding another one, because if I wasn’t good enough for this, what the hell am I good enough for?

    1. Katie the Fed

      It’s a job. It’s not a reflection of you as a person. I understand you’re frustrated and angry but try hard not to overpersonalize it – there are surely plenty of jobs you’d be good at – it’s just hard to find them.

    2. Retail Lifer

      I’ve been job searching for nearly a year. I’ve been trying to branch out and find positions outside of retail, but I want out of my current place of employment so badly that I caved in and applied to two other retail management jobs. I got called into an interview for both, and didn’t make it to the second round for either. I know *exactly* how you feel. I’ve been in retail since I was in high school. I’ve been a manager for 17 years. If I can’t get another job in retail, what the hell can I even expect to get?

      1. Elizabeth West

        Sounds like the company is doing what someone here once called “waiting for Jesus.” They ain’t gonna find him.

        I don’t know if this will help, but I applied to a receptionist job first at my current company and did not get it. It was a good-enough job and I’m actually glad I didn’t, because my current position suits me much better. I really would not have been happy doing the same damn thing I’d already done for years, even in a better company with better pay and benefits.

        My fingers are crossed for both of you!

    3. Ad Astra

      Please remember that rejection isn’t about being good enough, it’s about being the right person for this job at this time. It sounds like you are objectively a very qualified applicant, and finding a job will just be a combination of time and strategy.

      If it’s at all possible, I highly suggest spending your weekend on something fun or relaxing. Job searching is stressful, and you sound worn out.

      1. INFJ

        I agree with Ad Astra: it will happen when the fit is right.

        I felt very defeated after a long time of unsuccessful job hunting while employed. I also felt like I would never be good enough (mostly with interviewing) because I’m introverted, not fast on my feet, etc. I actually told myself, “nobody (company) will ever want me,” that’s how discouraged I was. It took a year, but I found a great place (where introversion is cherished, no less!).

        Sometimes it’s not about experience, it’s about fit. Keep going Jennifer and you will find what you’re looking for!

  38. Kali

    How do you deal with someone who condescends to you? I have a new coworker who makes me feel like I’m being lectured every time I talk business with him. Yesterday, I got a long explanation about how to find the best interns, never mind the fact that I spent five years running a highly successful internship program. All because I made a passing comment about how I was going to start recruiting interns for the coming school year.

    Is there anything I can say in the moment to help him realize what he’s doing and that it’s insulting? I think there might be an element of man-splaining going on.

    1. Diddly

      Look blank – I know I’ve done it for five years now.
      How did you learn this? Really? It’s just I’ve done it for five years now and find that not to be the case/etc.
      I think general blank face and being disinterested helps. And leaving as soon as possible, or just querying how he got that knowledge and then indicating you know better, and then leaving.
      Or just interrupt – actually I’m familiar with the process I’ve been doing it for five years, it’s just always a tough call etc.

      1. Diddly

        Ooh and leave out the ‘just’ in my earlier line – was reading an article that says women use ‘just’ as like an apology word.

        1. Kali

          This is really good and it’s now making me realize how much I use “just” and how most of the time, it’s not needed. Thanks!

      2. Windchime

        Yeah, the arrogant guy who recently quit tried talking to me like this in a team meeting.
        Mr. Pompous: “Well, Windchime, the way a Left Outer Join works is…..”
        Windchime: [interrupting] “Let’s be clear–I know what a Left Outer Join is and what it is supposed to do.” Stop talking, dead eyed staring contest until he looked away.

        Do. Not. Go. There.

    2. Katie the Fed

      I work with a guy who does this too. He just needs to impart his vast knowledge on everything, and he talks to me like I’m the intern.

      I just stop mentioning things to him at all so he doesn’t have any excuses to lecture me.

    3. fposte

      I would take it less seriously. If what you want is to protect your time, do that; you’re not likely to be able to coach him out of this behavior, and it’s not your job. “Didn’t actually ask, Bob–gotta go!”

    4. Anonsie

      I think there might be an element of man-splaining going on.

      Maybe just a smidge. Just a pinch.

      I have a pretty large tool bag just for dealing with condescension because I get it on a pretty solid regular basis. In general I just make it really awkward and try to give off a vibe like “oh man, did you just say that? Oh that was embarrassing, I’ll move on to be polite though…” Let a couple beats drop and go “Oh… Kay… So what I was actually asking about was this.”

      Alternately, I sometimes ignore it completely depending on who it’s coming from. I’ve just kind of wandered away while someone was talking down to me before. Or they start talking and as soon as there’s a tiny little moment where you can interrupt without actually talking over them just gone “KAY. So, what about this totally unrelated thing?” Or if it’s brief then when they’re done I’ll say “Yeah?” and move on immediately.

      No polite interest ever, they’ll interpret it as you actually wanting or needing them to do this.

    5. Mints

      I don’t know if this is the best tactic…well, it’s the best when I’m losing how much I care. I get slightly condescending right back at them. It used to happen on accident (and still does, sometimes) but I’ll occasionally do it on purpose.

      They start mansplaining, and then I laugh like *oh baby boy you think it’s interesting to me that 5+5=10?* “I know.” and then I don’t participate in the conversation. I’m not having a big coaching session, but I don’t have to deal with it and just cut them off and leave

    6. Anonymous Educator

      When people do this to me, I just let them talk and listen, as if I were their therapist. I don’t disagree (those are arguments you won’t win, even if you’re right) or agree or sound grateful or resentful or anything. I just listen. Then I go and do whatever I was doing the way I was going to do it. My boss is the only person who has the authority to tell me to do something another way at work.

      1. Wee

        This was my approach but then it turned into never ending conversation. Never.ending. People love it when I listen like I care. I should have been a therapist. It makes me crazy when it won’t stop and they don’t take the polite hints I throw. So I started the “gotta go to the restroom” tactic to stop it.

    7. catsAreCool

      Interrupt and say “Thanks, but I have . I think I can handle it.” (I would do this as sweetly as possible, but that’s up to you.)

    8. Powered by eight nuclear-heated Pratt and Whitney NP-4051 turbojets

      I think that the term “man-splaining” is unnecessarily antagonistic and at least a little bit sexist, and conveys uncomfortable undercurrents of … no, just kidding.

      I don’t like it when people *cough* “person-splain” to me, either. But – a couple of things:

      1. You say he’s new? A person who is new on the job is probably going to feel the need to ‘contribute’. Additionally, being new, this person lacks knowledge of your past experience and expertise. So it’s not like this guy needs me to apologize for his behavior, but I wonder how much of it might be a consquence of his being “new”?

      2. I don’t think that an antagonistic response (which some people seem to be suggesting) is the best way to go here, at least not at first. When he starts in with this stuff, is there any way you can interrupt him with something matter-of-fact like “Thanks Bob. I guess you didn’t know I ran our intern program for 5 years? I think I’ve got it covered”.

      I’m not you, I don’t really know or understand the full dynamics of the situation. But I’d be inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt, at least at first. If he continues to be a huge boring pain in the ass, then maybe it’s time to escalate. I’ve had some limited success with looking them straight in the eye, putting my finger in front of my lips like I’m saying “shhh!” and saying “Bob, you’re not helping”. This may or may not work with your personal style.

  39. Malissa

    To tell or not to tell?
    I work in an office where there are plenty of Spanish speaking people. I am just starting to learn Spanish. On more than one occasion they have talked about me in front of me, in Spanish.
    Part of me would love to not tell them I’m starting to understand more of what they say. Part of me would like to share so I can practice with them.
    I am torn on which way to go.

    1. OfficePrincess

      Could you just reply to them one day in Spanish? It might clue them in to the fact that 1) you understand and 2) it’s super unprofessional and maybe they should stop.

      1. matcha123

        Honestly, I don’t think it’s unprofessional. Maybe it’s because I’ve grown up around people who speak many different languages. But, even if I can speak the local language fluently, I really do not need to ensure that my coworkers are able to understand a conversation that has nothing to do with them…

        1. AvonLady Barksdale

          They’re talking ABOUT her in front of her. In a language they think she doesn’t understand. It’s… pretty unprofessional.

          1. Anonsie

            Usually yes, though I could also see scenarios where it wouldn’t be. I grew up in an area where the majority of people were native Spanish-speaking and it wasn’t uncommon for people to flip around just to keep everyone included on the conversation or up to date on what was going on. Whether or not the person you were talking about could understand when you relayed something to someone else wasn’t really taken into account.

            1. Colette

              But they’re not talking about work or their weekend, they’re talking about her in a way they think she can’t understand. That’s rude.

              1. Anonsie

                Are they making comments about her during a conversation with her and not letting her in on it in English? Because yeah that’s rude. Are they making negative comments about her? That’s rude even if it wasn’t in Spanish.

                Are they making neutral statements (“Malissa is working on x thing so we can do y”) where she can hear? That’s not. Are they making neutral statements while in conversation with her that are things she knew (the “flipping language to convey information the subject already knows to others” Melissa mentioned below)? Because then that’s fuzzier, it’s not normally considered rude where I’m from but in many contexts it would be.

                1. Colette

                  If she doesn’t speak the language, she’s still going to understand her name. IMO, it’s rude to talk about someone (even neutrally) if they know you’re talking about them but can’t understand what you’re saying.

            2. Melissa

              Speaking in your native language in front of people who don’t understand it isn’t rude/unprofessional. Talking about someone in front of them is rude, regardless of what language you’re using. Flipping languages to convey information that the subject already knows to others who don’t speak the subject’s language isn’t the same thing.

              1. Melissa

                I’m also adding that I’m assuming that the original commenter means talking about her in a negative way, because I’m assuming she wouldn’t need to ask if they were saying neutral or positive things.

                1. Anonsie

                  Since she didn’t specify I wasn’t going to assume either way, but yeah once what they’re saying is negative it’s obviously not ok anymore.

              2. Ad Astra

                Exactly. There’s nothing wrong with defaulting to the language you’re most comfortable in, but talking about someone in a foreign language is just as rude as whispering about someone or texting about someone who’s in the room. It’s rude rude rude.

                That said, I’ve heard people talk about me in another language several times before, in different languages from different cultures. Is this universally rude, or are there some places where it might be considered ok? (In all of these cases, the offender spoke fluent English but chose to speak a different language so I wouldn’t understand the discussion.)

          2. matcha123

            I can’t reply to everyone, but, in general people assume that others are talking I’ll of them in a foreign language. The OP herself says her language skills aren’t all that high.
            For all she knows, they could be saying “OP is supposed to do roses today and after she finishes that she’ll be doing violets. It takes her a while to do the violets, so if you need something, you’d better ask now.”

            If they are ignoring customers or keeping information from her that’s necessary for her to do her job, then it’s certainly rude and unprofessional.

            I ran into something like this at my old job where a coworker assumed I and another coworker were slacking because we talked with each other in English. We were talking about work and things related to work. Sorry, but I’m not going to talk to another native English speaker in a foreign language just to make someone else feel better.

        2. Sunshine Brite

          I don’t think it’s unprofessional either. I mean, they’re just speaking Spanish. I definitely have seen my coworkers collaborate in Hmong and it’s clear they were just working on our projects.

    2. Career Counselorette

      Hahaha, welcome to my dilemma. I can actually have a conversation in Spanish but I look like the Swiss Miss girl and I have the most horrible Michael Bloomberg accent (not for want of trying!). I find that when people come into my office asking for Spanish, when I answer them in Spanish they immediately switch to English. The last time I tried to continue using Spanish, my office manager was like, “For the love of God, stop! You’re awful!”

      1. Malissa

        Lol! I’m a little afraid I’m going to sound just awful as well. I am totally incapable of rolling an R.

    3. Mockingjay

      Share. Ask them to help you. It can be a lot of fun.

      When I lived overseas, I had German friends who asked me to help practice their Business English. We would meet for breakfast, pick a topic for conversation, and converse. We had dictionaries at each place setting.

      It was even more fun when my friends turned the tables on me after about a year. They informed me that I had taken enough German classes, and it was time to put what I had learned into practice!

    4. matcha123

      If you’d like to practice your Spanish with them, you could ask to practice outside of work and possibly pay for lessons. As someone living overseas in a country with a lot of people who want to learn English, I’ll just say that when I speak with a coworker in English it’s for a few reasons including: I’d rather use English because it’s faster AND I don’t want other coworkers eavesdropping on my conversation.

    5. HeyNonnyNonny

      For me the question would be, are they generally nice when they talk about you in Spanish? If they’re nice, then you don’t have a problem. If it’s weird cattiness, then feel free to respond in the middle of a conversation, perhaps coolly saying “That’s rather rude to say.”

    6. Jennifer

      Are they saying nice or mean things?

      I dunno, I think I’d keep my mouth shut until I was fluent in Spanish. Especially if they are saying bad things.

    7. Dynamic Beige

      On more than one occasion they have talked about me in front of me, in Spanish.
      What did they say? If it was simple “Malissa wants to know about X” because they are more comfortable conversing in their native tongue, that’s a perfect time to let them know you’re studying or practicing. If it was some sort of insult, that would not be a good time to let them know, IMO.

      Because here’s the thing: eventually it’s going to slip out that you know what they’re saying. Someone is going to catch on that you can follow the conversation, or you’ll say something that someone only said in front of you in Spanish and people will start talking about what you know. Look at it this way, they are speaking in a language they don’t think you know for reasons and when they find out that you have been essentially eavesdropping on them, they will wonder just how long you’ve been spying.

      I say find an innocuous time when you’re all together eating lunch or something and just mention that you have been inspired to learn Spanish based on being at work every day and the news will travel, people will start to self censor more what they say in front of you knowing that you know. If you want people to practice with, bringing it up over lunch would be a great way to practice social conversation.

      1. Malissa

        One time of all things it was whether or not to include me in a lunch order that the company was paying for and everybody else in the building was getting the benefit of it. Other times it’s been a quick glance in my direction and saying something I know isn’t nice. Thankfully it doesn’t happen often. But you make a nice reasonable point. Just because I work in a circus doesn’t mean I have to act like a clown.

    8. KJR

      Is this situation reminding anyone of the Seinfeld episode with Elaine in the nail salon?? This is also the “stopping short” episode. I miss that show!

    9. Shannon

      I was in the same situation once. Some Spanish speaking male coworkers called me something unprintable. I never told because I got a perverse joy out of listening to their gossip. These guys would run around calling themselves the Spanish speaking “cartel,” never realizing that the little white girl took 3 years of Spanish in High School and while I didn’t instantly get what they were saying, I could follow the conversation.

      I considered it an instructional view into what these guys were really like. They’d be nice to my face and speculate about what sexual activities I would engage in. In front of me. I didn’t feel like I could report it because it would be my word against theirs. On my last day, I told them in stilted but perfect Spanish that I could understand every word they were saying. The look on their faces was awesome.

      Anyway, what this long winded wandering down memory lane is getting to is that it’s more instructive to listen than it is to speak.

  40. Diddly

    I seem to have lost all my motivation to get stuck in and apply for jobs. I’m looking for them but finding less and less, and thinking I need to give up on the dream ‘industry’ there’s too much competition, I’m not in the right city and I can’t afford to be, I also can’t afford to get the required unpaid experience – although I think my other experience transfers…
    I’m just totally not where I saw my future self, and I’m so far away from where I hoped to be I can’t see the possibility that I’ll get anywhere – it all feels a little hopeless.
    Especially as it feels like I’m going backwards. I probably need to go back to temping – I’m bored out of mind not doing anything, and money is always nice, it’s just last time I temped I was bored out of mind temping and it barely got me anywhere.
    Sorry for the whine – any one got some motivation boosters – or dramatic change of fortune stories :) ?
    Figuring how to literally motivate myself to get out of bed when there’s nothing to do is becoming a major struggle – then it just creates a vicious cycle.

    1. Ali

      I am the same way right now, so hopefully there’s some help out there!

      I want to work in communications, and people just keep suggesting that I freelance or volunteer to get experience. I have no desire to freelance (I have tried to make myself want it, but it just isn’t there!), and I have to pay my student loans. I can get income based repayment but recently found out I’m out of deferment options. So yeah, working for nothing is out of the question.

      I do want to be in the nonprofit sector and have thought about looking at AmeriCorps roles, but I’m afraid the really low pay would only make things worse, even though the experience would be valuable. I’m considering VISTA, though; not direct service.

      1. Sunshine Brite

        VISTA though, you can’t do any side work and you’re more locked in that other AmeriCorps roles.

      2. Shannon

        AmeriCorps might give you more deferment options. At the end of the year, you can apply to have 10,000 taken off of your student loans thanks to your service.

    2. zora

      wow, is it possible I posted this and then got amnesia and forgot? You sound exactly like me! Thanks for posting this, I’ll read through the responses and hopefuly they will help me, too.

      And also just sending some commiseration because it is so hard and I also feel like I’m going backwards.

  41. OfficePrincess

    Warning: Rant to follow.

    WHY on earth would you send a long rambling email to your boss asking to meet about problems with a coworker and then blow her off when she comes in 3 hours early to meet with you after sending a confirmation email???My team is split across all 3 shifts, so I have to make special plans to see the overnight crew, but try to at least once a week. I came in at stupid o’clock, said good morning, and before I had my computer on she clocked out a few minutes early and left. Like, if the problems are that bad, wouldn’t you want to actually show up to the meeting you scheduled to discuss it?

    I fully believe that at least 95% of what was in the email is legit. I’ve had issues with the other person’s attitude myself (though my boss thinks it’s just because we got off on the wrong foot, she’s wonderful, etc) and have caught her in lies to other supervisors. I’ve had it, but can’t escalate it without my boss’s signing off on it. Having someone threatening to quit because of her though, might be the push I need to be able to start formal disciplinary action, but said person needs to actually show up to talk to me about it. UGH.

    Sometimes this job makes me drink.

    1. Elkay

      Did you ask her why?

      I had a colleague like this, she sent an email to my boss then refused to discuss it with my boss.

      1. OfficePrincess

        She doesn’t come back in until tonight, so my options are to either get up super early again tomorrow and make a special trip in or wait until next week.

    2. AndersonDarling

      I could have done that in my immature days. Started the process, then syked myself out that nothing will change and the boss will resent me so I’m going to ignore the boss until they bring it up.
      On a side note- we had an issue at my part-time gig where there was an employee with an attitude problem that wasn’t being addressed by management. After one person put in their notice, the others followed the next day. By Friday, HALF the staff had quit. Attitude issues are a bomb waiting to go off.

      1. OfficePrincess

        That could be part of it.

        I really want to deal with this (not because I’ll enjoy any part of it, but rather just want the attitude to stop) but I feel like I need examples of the behavior that needs to change when I sit down with the one who is causing the problems. But that requires people to actually bring the problems to me.

      2. Anonsie

        Agreed with the first bit there. This is totally something I would have done as a youngin

    3. Katie the Fed

      Shift work is terrible. maybe she forgot about the meeting or was just too exhausted.

    4. KAZ2Y5

      Can you call her? And as a side note, thank you so much for taking time to meet with your night shift! I work the night shift and at my last job, my manager would never come in early to meet with us or talk to us. Most of our evaluations were done by email because he didn’t want to come in early. Made us feel oh so valuable to the company :-(

  42. Melissa

    How long is your work commute, and how irritating is it to you? How important is distance from work for you?

    I just got my first full-time job post-grad school (background check finished earlier this week, whoo!) and I’m relocating to a different city, so I’m currently looking for apartments in the new place. The job is located in the suburbs of a large city; I’m looking to also live in the suburbs, so the commute will probably be primarily surface roads (although there are some state roads and interstate highways that go through the ‘burbs in this area). My upper limit is about 20-30 minutes, so really I’m making the choice between about a 5-10 minute commute, a 10-15 minute commute, and a potentially 20-30 minute commute. The two shorter commutes also give me the option of taking a bus to work some days if I’m lazy, whereas the longer one does not.

    The reason I’m even considering it is the 20-30 minute commute locations are bigger with better in-unit amenities (nicer floor plans, upgraded kitchens) for the same price as the shorter commutes. The shortest commute has the smallest apartments, but also the most walkable nearby amenities.

    1. T3k

      It really depends on how valuable that commute time is for you.

      Currently, I have a minimum of a 35 min. commute that I’m pretty much stuck with until I can find a better paying job, as I’m paid so little, I can’t afford to even rent a place with someone else that’s closer. Personally, I’d love to have a 5-10 min. commute (my first internship was 7 min. away and it was awesome as I could get up 30. mins before I had to be at work instead of an hour like I am currently). Of course, if your job has a flexible schedule, commute time may not matter as much because you could then plan around rush hours. Also, you have to consider all that wear and tear on your car with a 30 minute commute on street roads (thankfully most of my commute is highway) and plan accordingly in the cost of upkeep there.

    2. hermit crab

      I would probably choose the short commute/small apartment/walkable neighborhood option, if I were in your situation. (Though I sometimes I feel like my current 10-minute-walk commute doesn’t give me enough time to mentally disengage from work on my way home, and I’m actually looking forward to our upcoming office move when my commute will be a little longer! That might be another consideration for you to keep in mind.)

    3. NacSacJack

      IMHO, take the apt in the 10-15 minute commute. When I bought my house I didn’t know I lived on 3 bus lines all of which can take me to work. It has been a lifesaver. Some things are walkable (defn bikable). The best about my location: the garage I take my car to or have it towed to is on a busline to and from work. And I live far enough away from work that if I dont want to see my building I don’t have to.

    4. Ad Astra

      My commute is about 35-45 minutes from a rural-ish exurb to the downtown area of a mid-sized city. It’s not terrible, but the COL here is low and there is plenty of affordable housing available in the city limits, so most of my coworkers’ commutes are 25 minutes or less. We’re moving soon, thank goodness.

      If I were in your shoes, I’d take the nicer housing and deal with the 20-30 minute commute, because 20-30 minutes is still quite reasonable imo. But that’s me. I think all three options sound fine.

      Of the three housing options, is there one in a neighborhood you like better? Or is there one in a neighborhood you like considerably less? See what you can learn about the parking, restaurants, shopping, noise, traffic, etc., in each area to help inform your decision.

      1. Melissa

        I’m supposed to be taking a trip to the city to see the apartments in person and walk around the neighborhoods a little bit more. The one with the mid-length commute but the smallest apartments has the best neighborhood – it’s in the downtown of a small city, with lots of shopping and parks and restaurants that I can easily walk to. I think traffic will be higher there, but not bad. I just used Google Earth to look at the apartment that’s 20-30 minutes away and it’s on a pretty deserted road that looks like it will be super dark at night. I live in a neighborhood like that now in a small college town, and it does sometimes irritate me that there’s nowhere to walk to if I don’t feel like cooking or if I need to nip out to get eggs and milk really quickly – and that’s with living only a 5-minute drive from my grocery store, and 10 minutes to the dog park. I know parking is generally bad in the downtown area, but all of the buildings I’m looking at have parking for residents.

        1. Ad Astra

          That’s good information. I think once you see all three places, you’ll have a pretty easy time narrowing it down. In general, though, I would prioritize living near stuff (restaurants, drug stores, a decent liquor store if you like fancy wine or craft beer or whatever, etc) over living near work.

          1. Ad Astra

            Ooh, and it’s also possible that visiting the apartments in person will reveal something unacceptable (or at least not preferable) about one of the apartments. A weird smell, maybe an extremely unsavory neighbor, lots of noise from renovations, who knows.

    5. I'm a Little Teapot

      *sigh* I just accepted a job where the commute will probably be an hour and a half each way by bus, so…they all sound good to me. But – the walkable nearby amenities are nice, and being close to work and everything else would make your life much more convenient and give you lots of extra free time. I’d take the short commute/small apartment, but I value free time much more than I value a nice apartment (any look at the tiny pigsty I live in would make this obvious) – so it’s really a question of what you value most.

    6. Christy

      Choose the walkable nearby amenities. It’s worth a smaller apartment.

      And my commute is 50 minutes on an ideal day, so I think all of your options sound ridiculously short. (I take public transit.)

      1. Melissa

        Yes, I feel like I’m being obnoxiously picky! But I’ve never had the chance to be even a little choosy before.

        I’m leaning towards walkable nearby amenities, too.

    7. Retail Lifer

      Commute time is important. I moved to the other side of town to my dream apartment, but that doubled my commute time. I already hated my job, and the commute is now slowly killing me.

      1. Retail Lifer

        But I work in the suburbs and don’t ever want to live there, particularly in the one I work in.

      2. Ezri

        I moved here for a job and intentionally chose a place less than a mile from my office, even though it was on the high end of my budget. Less than a year later, they moved my team to a new office fifteen miles away. I don’t have a horrible commute in comparison to most of my coworkers, but driving by the old building three minutes away from my house kills my soul a little bit.

    8. Gene

      13 miles and about 20-25 minutes. I drive alone, opposite normal commute flow. No transit possible without walking 4 miles.

    9. RG

      Honestly, I think part of it depends on your city. I live in Houston – traffic is bad everywhere, so even a commute of just surface roads can be horrible and much longer than you would expect.

      1. Melissa

        It’s in Seattle, and I don’t know too much about it. People claim that traffic is bad, but I’m moving from New York so…lol. I got stuck in rush hour traffic coming from the airport and it didn’t seem that bad to me. Based on Googling transit times it seems like traffic can be pretty bad on the surface roads in the morning, and some of the locations do involve driving on a state road that’s like a highway and that gets crowded too.

    10. rek

      Congratulations on the new job!
      I have never had a commute of less than 30 minutes, so even your worst-case scenario sounds good to me! I live in the suburbs; for most of my work life I commuted 45-50 minutes (one way) to another suburban location. My worst commute was 2+ hours via public transport to a city. I loathed every second of that commute. My current commute is, again, 45-50 minutes by car. My choice has always been for the (relatively) longer commute / better living amenities / lower cost combo, although you have to figure the cost of commuting in any bottom line analysis. (Also, there’s definitely something to be said for being able to walk to things close to where you live.)
      Good luck!

    11. FJ

      I think you can get used to 20-30 minutes. I don’t mind mine, but I also don’t mind driving. It used to be 25 minutes standard, now in a different place it is 35 minutes standard, or the occasional hour with weather/traffic. I know some people do an hour plus every day. I think it’s amazing what you can get used to.

      If it were me – If it’s all under 30 minutes… choose based on the neighborhood and other things.

      1. FJ

        Oh! Test out the commute if you can, at a real commuting time. I did that when interviewing or when looking for housing. Depending on the area, you might also be able to find a state DOT website with long-term traffic reports or something.

    12. Ashley K.

      I value a short commute a lot.

      My first job, I moved so that I was a 10 minute walk from the office instead of 45 minutes by bus.
      My second job, I moved so that I was a 10 minute drive from the office instead of a 90+ minute drive.
      My current job, I moved somewhere cheaper and bought a motorcycle (I’m in CA, I can lane split through traffic) so that my commute was <20 minutes.

      I went so far as to buy a motorcycle, yep. ;)

      My boyfriend, on the other hand, has a death wish and has just, for the second time, taken on a job with a 60-90+ minute commute. He listens to a lot of audiobooks.

    13. The IT Manager

      For me personally anything up to a 30 minute commute is no biggie. I grew up in the country where my small town had nothing and we had to drive 15-20 minutes for restaurants, shopping, etc. I do keep shortening my commute when I move, and I am very fond of walkability.

      For me it’s not the time, but the traffic. How stop and go would the longer commute be? If it’s easy you can just cruise along listening to a podcast or audiobook. If it’s stop and go and stressful, that’s an entirely different story.

      1. Elysian

        In my area, anything less than an hour is considered “not bad,” but of course this is all geographically relative. Currently I walk about 7 minutes, and honestly I think it is too short. I feel like I live too close to my workplace and I pass it all the time when I’m out doing “fun” things, and it just gets me thinking about work. It’s too close for me.
        On the other hand, for three months I have an hour and a half commute each way, and it was unbearable. For three years my daily commute was about 45 – 1 hour 15 minutes, and while that was on the longer side, I got used to it. I think 20 mins – 30 mins would be perfect for me. I also think though that it depends on driving v public transit. I would rather be on a train for 35 minutes than drive 20 minutes, so that would be part of my calculus, too.

        1. Melissa

          I know what you mean! When I was in graduate school I used to live 4 blocks away from the building where I worked and attended classes, and that was just too close. I felt like I didn’t have any time for my brain to switch over. (I mean, not that there was anything to switch TO in a doctoral program, lol.) I feel like a 5-minute driving commute is fine, but I don’t want to be able to walk to work, as weird as that sounds.

          I did a summer internship where I had a two-hour commute each way. It was all public transit and I had mixed feelings about it. I think if I had to do it longer than 3 months I would’ve hated it.

      2. Melissa

        Based on the location, it looks like it would mostly be cruising, perhaps with a few places of medium-speed traffic. I was wrong about the surface roads, though – the 20-30 minute commute would be at least partially on an interstate highway (there’s a couple different ways to get there.

    14. AvonLady Barksdale

      I’ve seen some of your other posts about the job and relocation (congrats, by the way!), so I have to tailor this to you a bit. :) I also moved from NYC to a place where I needed a car, though my new city isn’t a “major” one, and the adjustment is HUGE. Something to take into consideration in addition to your commute. (If I’m mixing up my peoples and you don’t live in NYC, ignore alllll the rest of this.)

      Our neighborhood is not downtown, but close to it, and we moved here for a couple of reasons: with only one car, it’s an easy walk to campus for my boyfriend (we moved so he could pursue a PhD), and we have a lot of stuff in walking distance. This was important to us, because I really did not want to go from no car at all to relying solely on the car. We have several nice restaurants to walk to if I want a cocktail with my dinner, there are interesting spots to take the dog on our walks, etc.

      When we first moved, I worked from home, so commute wasn’t a factor. Then I got a job about a 12-minute drive away, which is perfect. I take one major road and the rest are surface roads, with very little traffic. 20-30 minutes would be ok, but that’s pushing it. It was also tough for me to get used to the driving commute again after 10 years of taking the subway and bus– there’s no zoning out when you drive! So consider that too.

      If you’re moving to a new city alone, lots of walkable amenities will also help you connect with people– you won’t fall back on the, “Eh, I just don’t feel like driving today…” Admittedly, this is me projecting. :)

      1. Melissa

        Haha, thanks! You are not mixing up your people; I am in a confusing situation. I currently split my time between NYC and a small college town about 4 hours away – I’m a postdoc, but my husband and my friends and my network are all in NYC and I lived there for 6 years before moving here. So at my postdoc, I drive to work most days (about a 10-minute drive) and take the bus some days (about 25 minutes).

        So yes, part of my calculus is because I’m coming from being in NYC for pretty much all of my adult life and being used to not relying on a car to do everything. I like driving short distances, and I drive 4 hours back and forth to New York a couple times a month, but the less I have to drive around to do every day errands the better. You’re also right about wanting to connect; I’m moving alone (husband is staying behind to finish his degree for 9 months) and I’m really sociable and want to meet people.

        Hmm, writing this out to people is making me see that a walkable neighborhood is more important to me than I thought. This has been super helpful! This is why I love AAM.

        1. Christy

          OMG totally move to the walkable neighborhood. Plus it’s just you? It’s a no-brainer to me at this point.

    15. Elizabeth West

      About twenty minutes, but it’s an annoying twenty minutes. I live near an industrial area, so to get to the highway, I have to dodge FedEx trucks, double-trailer trucks, truck driver training trucks, utility vehicles, older people who just HAVE to go to Walmart at eight in the morning, and people who whip out in front of me and then go two miles and hour and I can’t get around them because the person trying to pass both of us cruises right beside them and won’t speed up. Once I make it to the highway, it’s like Dodge-em cars. If you put your signal on, people speed up so you can’t change lanes because ZOMG they might get there one second later!

      I’ve taken to getting here later just to avoid the trucks. If I leave earlier, it takes even longer because traffic to and from the industrial parks is nuts. On Fridays, it’s even worse. My blood pressure is pretty good thanks to more regular exercise, but if you took it right after I get off the highway, I’m sure it would blow the sphygmomanometer.

        1. Elizabeth West

          I’m trying to be mindful and positive–“At least it’s not raining,” “At least I have music,” “At least my boss hasn’t said anything about me coming in at 8:30” (though I have my eval next week so we’ll see).

          Drivers here are rude AF. I’ve had people let me across five lanes to reach an exit in ST. LOUIS, but here, the second they see your signal, it’s like a scene from Mad Max.*

          *which is freaking awesome, btw

    16. Lily in NYC

      30 minutes or less is what I would consider a gloriously short commute. I honestly don’t think 15 minutes should be the deciding factor when considering jobs when the totals are so short.

    17. Anonsie

      I’m ok with a commute up to 30-40 minutes but longer than that and it starts to cut into my quality of life pretty significantly.

      The thing to consider with the commute in a new place is also the “commute” to things you want to get to on your off time. Convenience in location of pharmacies, grocery stores, places to get dinner, etc. are also important.

    18. Mints

      A question: Have you checked out google maps with traffic time during rush hour?

      For me, 20-30 minutes is not bad at all, but I really hate driving in bumper to bumper traffic. I would choose somewhere farther away with no traffic, over closer in heavy traffic (with the times being the same). I’d pick the nicer apartment. But also, I’d pick the better neighborhood (living next door to a coffee shop or sandwich shop is seriously the best). Time for audiobooks!

      Also congrats!

      1. Melissa

        Yep, I’m basing the commute time on how long it takes with traffic (according to Google). The commute out from the far suburban location would take around 30 minutes max with traffic. The way seems to be mixed blue and yellow – so some cruising areas and some areas with medium-speed traffic but not gridlock. The two closer places are more trafficky, particularly the most walkable one because it’s coming from the same direction as the major nearby city.

    19. Sarrow

      My commute is 20-30 minutes depending on traffic. I carpool with my husband and drop him off and then go to my work. The cost of living where we live is a lot cheaper than the city where we work. The commute itself is not terrible – basically a straight shot on the highway. Traffic gets backed up once we get into the work city, because the highway connects to the outerbelt. I’ve been doing this for 15 years and it’s manageable. I certainly wouldn’t mind being closer to work, but we would have to move to a smaller house and pay more, so for us it’s not worth it.

      In your situation, I like the idea of the shorter commute with the option of taking the bus. Is weather a factor? If you can have a shorter commute for winter, that would be a huge plus.

      1. Melissa

        Weather’s not really a factor – average daily temps in winter are in the mid-40s F range in this city, and it rarely snows. Also, my future coworkers tell me that if there’s a hint of a snowflake everyone works from home, lol. (I thought about that too because I currently live in a place where we had permafrost on the ground for 3 months; the bus route was a savior during the winter!)

        1. Meadowsweet

          as a west-coaster: don’t underestimate the rain :)
          do any of the potential living places have underground parking? because it’s lovely to not be driving wet :)

          1. Honeybee

            Yes, one of my top choices has underground parking, and I think most of the other ones have covered parking. People in the PNW tried to stress to me that the rain was very light and drizzly, but now I’m skeptical lol.

    20. GOG11

      My commute is very short (around 5 minutes). I can walk or drive to work. It’s one of the biggest perks of my job, but I’m not exactly in love with my job. Whenever I’ve thought about applying to other companies that aren’t in the same city/nearby, the change in commute time is one of the bigger factors that has dissuaded me. As T3k, I really think it depends on how valuable that time is. For me, I like to have as much time away from my job as I can get because I have to recharge from it and having a commute that ate significant amounts of that time away would be really tough.

    21. Meg

      My (lack of a) commute is SO important to me. In general, I think most people underestimate how much your commute can decrease your quality of life. Time is the most valuable thing we have, plus a long commute can be stressful! (Especially if you’re in a car.)

      When my husband and I bought our house, our #1 priority was that it was within walking distance to our workplaces. I love love love my 20-minute walk. And regardless of how long your commute is, I highly recommend podcasts. :) Panoply has a wide variety of choices, and the vast majority of them are great.

    22. Sunday

      I vote for walkability. It’s your first year there, and you’ll have plenty of time to check out the area and decide if there’s somewhere else you’d prefer later. Especially as you’re in a city now. Congratulations!

    23. Sara

      For the past year, I’ve commuted to work 60-90 minutes each way on public transit (streetcar/subway/bus). This is the longest commute I’ve ever had, and it is the #2 reason why I’m searching for a new position. (The #1 reason is that I now have a key professional certification in my field and am eligible to advance to the next level of responsibility – unfortunately, my current employer doesn’t have any openings at that level.) Before this, my longest commute was about 25 minutes driving (highway). I think a 20-30 minute commute would be ideal, but I’m willing to consider traveling up to 45 minutes for the right opportunity.

    24. Tau

      I’d absolutely go for the shortest commute – and, in fact, recently did! I ended up with a tiny studio place where getting all my stuff in there required great creativity (and I still have stuff like mop/broom/bucket standing in front of the washing machine and a towel rack standing in the hallway doubling as a shoe rack because there is just no SPACE). However, I am *right* in the middle of town, about two minutes’ walk away from two different grocery stores and surrounded by shops, pubs and restaurants, and all of ten minutes’ walk/two minutes’ cycle from work. It’s FANTASTIC and I’m so happy I went for this over the larger places further out.

      Something of particular note: this is also my first full-time job post-grad school, and I seriously underestimated how draining a full-time work week is and how your time just vanishes. As a result, I think I seriously underestimated how much difference the commute would make – the other places I was looking at would’ve been maybe twenty minutes, maybe half an hour away by cycle or train, and I didn’t think it would be that much worse. But it’s just really amazing to be able to leave work and be home ten minutes later and it opens up my evening so much more than otherwise. I might even be able to head home for lunch some days!

      Of course, things that were true for me that might not be true for you: one, in some ways I was intentionally looking for a smaller place – my previous flat was pretty big and I honestly hated it, I could not keep it tidy for love or money, I felt lonely all the time and I was frozen during the winter because it was so difficult to keep warm. Two, I have a disability and some health issues that mean not having to travel far for stuff is more important than it might be otherwise.

      And one last thing…

      The two shorter commutes also give me the option of taking a bus to work some days if I’m lazy, whereas the longer one does not.

      I think it’s always, always good to have back-up options in case something should go wrong, so I’d definitely consider that a point against the larger route. This way, if your car breaks down one day you can still get to work pretty easily.

    25. Anonymous Educator

      Like some other folks commenting here, I’ve also never had less than a 30-minute commute, so all your options sound good to me. In fact, I currently have a 45-minute commute (sometimes up to an hour, depending on the buses), and it’s a delight. I’d love a shorter commute, but this doesn’t negatively impact my lifestyle. In the past, I’ve had commutes up to 2 hours each way. those are bad, and I now avoid them like the plague.

    26. Kirsten

      my commute is 35-40 minutes but luckily my husband works in the same office building as me so we commute together almost every day. It makes the ride feel faster and I can convince him to buy me coffee some mornings :)

    27. Windchime

      Between 15-20 minutes on the way in to work and probably closer to 30 minutes on the way home since there is a bottle-neck to get onto the exit that I take to get home. It’s not too bad at all; it gives me time to listen to a couple of songs or to finish my podcast. It would take over an hour if I took public transportation so I don’t bother; I just drive it.

    28. INFJ

      Options are good. I would go with the closer option that you can use public transportation.

      I take the train in to work and love it. I can read AAM on my way in and don’t have to deal with road stress!

  43. Amber Rose

    Our accountant/HR person is hard of hearing. I do the invoicing and accounts receivables so I often have to discuss things with her. My voice is super soft. I’ve been working on that because even the excellent of hearing sometimes can’t hear me, but it’s super hard due to me spending so many years not talking much at all. My success is variable.

    Anyways, aside from yelling, is there anything I can do that would make it easier for our accountant and I to communicate? Email isn’t really feasible. I’ve been trying to enunciate more but I also don’t want to sound like a jerk. You know, the kind who talks slowly and sounds condescending as hell.

    1. ACA

      If you’re not doing this already, then try to look directly at her when you’re speaking – it makes lipreading easier, and also means that the sound is projected forward, rather than down at the desk/to the side/etc.

    2. Gene

      It might be worth it to find a voice coach/therapist and explain the problem. Likely you’ll work more on projection more than sheer volume.

      As ACA said, make sure you are looking directly at her, as someone with moderate hearing loss, that really helps.

      1. Dynamic Beige

        If you are having people mention it’s hard to hear you overall, then yes a voice coach would help you. Or joining something like Toastmasters were you would be forced to speak to a group and get pointers.

        My grandfather was very hard of hearing but refused to wear hearing aids. For the love of all that is holy people if you are losing your hearing for whatever reason, please, please, please look for some kind of hearing aid that works for you. I spent my life not really speaking with him because the effort of raising my voice/projecting it so he could hear me was so. much. work. The day he told me he had gotten hearing aids because he had had a neighbour stop by to talk to him and he hadn’t heard a word was like a slap in the face. No one likes to get old and lose their various faculties, getting reading glasses this year has been Not Fun, but you can’t expect the world to conform to you.

        Having said all that, Amber Rose, I would suggest you speak with the accountant — yell if you have to — and ask them what form of communication they would prefer. Let them see and fully understand the strain it puts you under to talk to them. I imagine that some of the things you have to discuss might be sensitive and so yelling isn’t a good option going forward. But maybe this accountant doesn’t have hearing aids, or hasn’t known how bad it’s gotten because other people have been accommodating them. I worked with someone once who had a tumour in their ear. They hadn’t really noticed that their hearing was going, just that it was hard to hear on the one side so they just switched the phone from one side to another and did other things to compensate. By the time he decided to get a test, it was bad and he had to have an operation, completely lost the hearing on that side.

    3. TNTT

      As a fellow hard-of-hearing individual, please DO NOT try to over-enunciate words. This makes lip reading harder! Definitely (as ACA suggested) turn your head towards me so I can see your mouth when you’re talking. Hands down/away from mouth. And be patient … I’m trying!

      1. Charlotte Lucas

        Yes – speak normally and make sure you are facing the person. (When I was a kid, my mom was a secretary for a woman who was deaf. We learned lot about how to speak to the deaf and hard of hearing.) Also, make sure you have her attention when you start speaking. If she uses a hearing aid, she might turn it down when she wants to concentrate (in my first job, I knew a woman who did this).

        If she uses ASL, it is not necessary but a nice gesture to learn to sign a few basic phrases.

        1. GOG11

          “Also, make sure you have her attention when you start speaking.” This.

          I was tested for hearing problems because I was having difficulty hearing people and it turned out they just needed to get my attention first (thanks, ADHD). I can’t follow what people are saying if I don’t know they’re talking to me, and I’m not even hard of hearing. People getting my attention at the start of the conversation makes a HUGE difference.

    4. AVP

      My accountant is also going deaf. I know you said this isn’t really feasible, but I do try to have as many email conversations with her as possible as those go much more smoothly. In-person conversations are okay as long as we’re facing each other directly, so I do as many of those as I can. Phone conversations are terribly awkward for her, so I don’t schedule them and when my boss suggests one, I remind him of how awful they can be and find a way to have it in person instead.

      One thing that helps is that she knows she’s doesn’t hear well and isn’t awkward about it at all, so I don’t have to tiptoe around it or worry that I’m making her sensitive. She wants to find a way to work it out as mutes I do.

    5. OfficePrincess

      In addition to volume/projecting, try making your voice deeper. When I worked with an elderly population, part of the training was about what frequencies of hearing start to go first, and high pitches can be harder to hear than lower ones. But definitely speak at a relatively normal pace. When you speak deliberately slowly, it makes it harder to parse out words as well as lipread.

      1. A Definite Beta Guy

        Just responding to +1 this. I have high frequency hearing loss and struggle greatly with people who talk at a high pitch. Good ol’ Homo Sapiens do tend to lose our high frequency hearing first (my father’s has gone down the tube).

    6. Anonsie

      You don’t need to talk slowly, you just need to be loud enough to be heard. As others have said, don’t change the way you’re speaking, it makes you harder to understand. You just need more volume and all of it directed where she can pick it up. You need to:

      –Face her when speaking, the whole time. When you’re talking you’re essentially directing all the words at her and not around the room.
      –Make sure she can see your face as much as possible, because even if she doesn’t read lips it gives clues that help us interpret sounds.
      –You may even ask her if one side is better than the other and, if so, stick to it.
      –Don’t tease her about it because it’s super not nice and odds are good she’s heard any joke you have about five million times already*.

      A lot of people’s hearing is different on either side and it presents a lot of problems you might not be aware of, like telling where a sound is coming from or interpreting tone when you can’t see a person’s face. For me, if you were to see me twisting around (my head or upper body or whatever) there’s a good chance I can’t actually hear you or can’t tell where you are, so the most productive thing to do is to stop talking and just come stand directly next to me.

      *”I’m kind of hard of hearing, you have to speak up a little.” “What?” har har har hilaaarious, I’ve never heard THAT one before, tee-freakin’-hee.

    7. Ms. FS

      My son is deaf and uses hearing aids and a cochlear implant, so I deal with this often. I second making sure they can see you when you speak, asking for understanding, enunciating clearly, especially with naturally “soft” sounds like f, s, t, z. Put things in writing.

      Yelling actually doesn’t help much at all because it distorts the sound to a person that is hard of hearing. So I’d actually avoid that altogether. Speaking loudly and asking if she can hear me is a good step though.

      And you didn’t mention that this is a problem but I’m sensitive to this as a mother of a deaf child – please don’t think the person is ignoring you, or not listening. I know my child comes off as rude or insolent sometimes and its just because he doesn’t hear the person talking to him at first.

    8. Shannon

      Ask the HR person for advice. “I know my voice is soft. What can I do to better communicate with you?”

  44. matcha123

    I don’t know if it’s OK to have a bit of a rant…But…

    I find it so annoying that people where I am want to know what my current salary is so they can tell me that I basically don’t deserve a larger salary. My salary is low because that’s what the place can afford, not because they would rather pay me less. However, it’s low because the work I do is severely undervalued.

    To add on, in this country, men will get additional income from their employers if they are married and their wives make less than 10k a year, but nothing like that for women. Companies will give every excuse why I’m not worth a higher salary but will turn around and give a man a higher salary because “he has a family.” I can accept that a company might not find my skillset matches their needs or they think that what I can do doesn’t warrant a higher salary. But, I can’t accept them basing salary on whether or not someone has a stay-at-home-wife and a kid.
    If I didn’t have to worry about money, I’d say eff this all and do my own thing.

  45. Gingerbread

    I recently came here to vent about being overworked and underpaid. Six months after I started at my current job, I had to take on the responsibilities of an event planner and ecommerce manager, which requires me to work 50-60 hours a week to get the job(s) done. My manager agreed to talk about giving me a raise in the coming weeks, but I have no idea what to ask for. My current salary is $30k, so what’s a reasonable number to ask for? Is it okay to ask my manager what she thinks is fair before naming the salary that I want? This is my first job out of college so I’m new to all of this.

    1. fposte

      Research, research, research. Don’t ask your manager what she thinks is fair–you need to be able to have your own number suggestion and advocate for yourself. Look at salary ranges for event planners and ecommerce managers in your city/region; you’d be starting at the low end, because you don’t have much experience, but that’s what you’d be asking for and that’s how you’d be making your case. “I see event planners in Hometown make from $45-$70k; since I’m just starting, I think the lower end would be appropriate, so I’d ask for $45k.”

    2. ginger ale for all

      Go to the Bureau of Labor Statistics and type in your job title in the search box. It will take you to a page that has stats about your job, including average salaries. You can type in job titles that you think are more in line with what you actually do to see how the job is perceived across America.

    3. Observer

      Well, what is your official hourly salary? If you are non-exempt, then just make sure you are being paid overtime. If not, then ask for a salary actually reflects the number of hours you work.

    4. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

      I remember you!

      Also, I remember that you are in Los Angeles, which made me say that your current salary was pretty much intern level.

      Lookit, the job description you gave before is 50 to 60k in Los Angeles, even at young employee level. You are so far underpaid that trying to get to market level isn’t going to happen.

      I’d ask for 40k to begin to close the gap. And remember, valuable experience, just keep packing in the valuable experience and job hunt as soon as you have enough of it under our belt.

  46. SevenSixOne

    Does anyone else feel a little grossed out when they see a job posting that says something like “women and minorities encouraged to apply”?

    It’s a HUGE red flag for me, since even the most generous explanation is that the role or company has a reputation for being a boys’ club and/or unwelcoming to anyone who’s different… and I wouldn’t want to work in a place like that!

    Am I wrong– is there some other, less awful reason companies say this?

    1. Katie the Fed

      It’s probably an affirmative action policy – they want to make sure they have a large, diverse pool of candidates to choose from.

      With defense contractors, it’s a big thing to have a diverse workforce. If you’re owned by a woman/minority/veteran/disabled veteran, even better.

    2. Victoriana

      I’d see it simply as a sign that they are aware they have a gender and/or race imbalance and are attempting to address the issue. Whether it’s a red flag or not would require much more info. I’d certainly look into that more carefully, but I wouldn’t avoid applying because of it.

      I think the companies that have the imbalance but aren’t aware of it or addressing it are a much bigger red flag!

    3. Jenna Maroney

      I’d rather apply there than someplace that was 99% white men and didn’t think twice about it.

    4. Lily in NYC

      It shouldn’t be a red flag! I have never worked anywhere that didn’t have that as standard language on all of their job postings.

    5. Anie

      I had someone refer me to a job and tacked on that they were specifically looking for a lesbian because they “already had a black person, Hispanic person, and gay man.”

      1. Charlotte Lucas

        Well, then they’ll have the complete set! More valuable if you want to trade the whole collection.

        This is one of those “what is wrong with people” things…

      2. Creag an Tuire

        “Together you will be a wonderfully diverse and multi-ethnic team, perhaps saving the environment, or whatever.”

    6. CMT

      Hmm, the places I’ve seen that posted are generally pretty progressive places anyway, where I’d assume they have a lot of women and minorities. I don’t think it’s a red flag at all; in fact kind of the opposite to me.

    7. Kai

      As others have said, this is pretty common and not a red flag. Although it does make my nostrils flare when a posting says “females” are encouraged to apply, rather than “women.”

    8. Melissa

      Being a woman and a minority, I’m usually not. Honestly, I’d say that 80-90% of the job ads I’ve seen have had that invitation in it. I work in a field (and am transitioning to a different one) where women and minorities are severely underrepresented, so for some employers it’s an indication that they are actually making a good-faith effort to diversify their workplace. For most employers it’s just standard boilerplate their HR made them use and it means nothing. Yes, it often is code for “we don’t have much/any diversity!” but that doesn’t mean a place is going to be unwelcoming or a boys’ club.

    9. Student

      It doesn’t mean anything. Pay more attention to how the people you interview with treat you and less to what the HR rep slapped on to the bottom of every single post.

      Some places like this have low minority or women populations for a very good reason, and you want to avoid those. Others are reasonable places to work, but the pipeline into that field has serious problems so they never have diverse applicants.

      I’m in physics. The physics talent pipeline for women is terrible. The first time I was told I shouldn’t do something that would lead toward a physics degree was in 2nd grade (girls don’t like math! girls are worse than boys at math! stop being so good at math so you don’t intimidate the other kids, because it’s not normal!). The US education system, as I experienced it, funnels women away from math and hard sciences, from grade school all the way up to grad school.

      If you survive that, then the jobs at the end are mixed. Some have very few women and are also terrible old boys’ clubs. Some have very few women but are wonderful places to work. At both places, women applicants are few and far between. No place I’ve every heard of had enough technical, physics women to be anywhere near on parity. They often try to even out the overall company or department stats by hiring loads of excess women in non-technical fields; there will be more women business managers than normal or parity, for example (and all the admin assistants and low end positions will be “pink collar”).

      Often, I’m the only “technical woman in the room” for all of my colleagues. I’ve been to really terrible places. I’ve been to kind of medium-awful places, the ones you tolerate but never feel like you will fit in. I’ve been in great places where I feel like just any other team member.

      1. Tau

        I’ve gone from maths to software so I hear you on that (although I’ve always lucked out so far – fingers crossed that that keeps up). My main aim is to never be the *only* tech person who isn’t a guy, because that’s just really uncomfortable and something of a red flag – sorry, great companies who’ve just had bad luck with applicants.

        Honestly, I wish the “all applicants are welcome, we do not discriminate, hi look at our diversity policy!” stuff meant something… I’m of a disadvantaged identity in a few different ways and trying to find a welcoming workplace seems a bit like Russian roulette. So far at the new place I’ve been trying to keep an ear out to figure out how open I should be about not being straight, and I was very discomfited by the new hire paperwork that asked me whether or not I considered myself disabled and “if yes, please specify”. The reason they gave is wanting to figure out accommodations – excuse me, I’m the one who decides whether or not I want/need you to do that, and the fact that you appear to be ignorant of the idea that someone might not want to disclose a disability to the point of forcing me to lie on paper my first day in the office is rather worrying. It’d be nice if there was a better way of figuring out how good a company is on these fronts before the fact. :/

  47. MayDay

    So, I am supposed to have an onsite interview a few states away from me, yay. However, it’s been exactly a week since the hiring manager/boss has told me that their admin would call me to set everything up (flights, etc.). I’m guessing I should email sometime next week to see when to schedule since we talked about probably scheduling the interview at the end of the month.

    However! More importantly, he asked me to do a 30 min or so presentation on my research (I am in scientific R&D, at my company for about 6 years). But, I just realized most of what I do is company confidential. Any advice on what I can do? I am going to look at product release pamphlets and see what I can do, but I feel stuck!

    1. Chocolate Teapot

      Can you use Chocolate Teapots?

      Not literally, but as a way of maintaining confidentiality by not naming names.

      1. MayDay

        Hmm, that is what my one coworker suggested. But I am not sure, some of what I do is specialized :(.

    2. Ashley K.

      They should know full well that your work is confidential. I suggest asking them what they’re hoping to see from your presentation to clarify how they want you to structure it.

      I work in a field with NDAs during interviews and they are always explicit about company secrets: we won’t ask for yours, we won’t give you ours. If something is inadvertently revealed, you agree not to use it.

      1. MayDay

        Hmm good point! I will ask them when I follow up about the trip.

        They seem to be pretty rational, so hopefully they won’t have a problem with it.

      2. Elysian

        Yeah, if you’re confused I would reach out to them and see if they have a solution or a “what people normally do.” In my field (law) employers frequently require writing samples, but everything I do is either confidential or not solely my own work. It’s pretty much accepted that if they ask for a writing sample they’re going to get something old (cause I can’t ask my current boss for permission to use a writing sample to interview for new jobs…), something I did in law school (generally don’t need to ask for those), or something I literally just made up that I never used at work for the sake of having it as a writing sample. I think people kind of expect that in my field, so I bet your field has norms like that, too.

    3. HM in Atlanta

      Can your presentation be about how you approached your research and how you know your approach paid off? You wouldn’t have to use specifics that were confidential, you could keep everything high level, but that would let them know your critical thinking process that you would apply to their work.

      1. MayDay

        There is one project I could apply this too! Thanks – will have to think more about structuring my presentation!

    4. anonanonanonanon

      i would reach out to them and ask about the schedule and flight information.

      With regards to your presentation, in my experience in R&D, there are a couple of ways to go about it. 1) be upfront with the hiring manager and say, hey everything i work on is confidential. Can i give a presentation on this topic (maybe research you did in graduate school)? 2) anonymize whatever you can. I gave a presentation recently on some work calling the molecule “Drug A. i could do this because it was about the process of work i did with that as an example. 3) have you been on any publications or presentations recently? those can be adapted.
      If you are interviewing in the same industry, they will expect this to happen. they aren’t looking for company secrets, just whether you can give a presentation and answer their questions.
      Hope this helps!

      1. MayDay

        It does help! Actually, I was thinking of doing a presentation on my old grad school work, but I wasn’t sure since it’s a bit different (more like making drug a vs. analyzing drug a).

        I will definitely ask them though, when I ask for the schedule.

        Thanks (and to everyone) for the great advice!

    5. K

      Do you have any published research? That’s what I did – presented on research that was published in a journal and therefore no longer confidential.

    6. Melissa

      I just recently did an interview for which I had to do a presentation on my research, and I used my work from graduate school (a series of connected projects, related to my dissertation). They explicitly asked us not to present any proprietary information. My research was completely unrelated to the work I’d be doing in the job, but the approach and methods were useful, and they said that they just wanted to see how I thought about research.

      Now, I’m only one year out of graduate school, so that didn’t make a huge difference. I also agree about asking them what they want out of the presentation, because I did and am so glad I did – they wanted something completely different from what I thought they wanted, and it significantly changed the direction I took the presentation.

  48. T3k

    So, I’ve been casually searching for a new job (current job isn’t all that great but it’s not so bad I’d outright quit). One of my dream companies just happened to post a job in my field with no “certain number of years experience required in this field” like they usually do and so I’ve applied. I fear though they only got my cover letter as I had to register, and most registrations have multiple pages laid out and instead theirs is set up to automatically apply you when you hit register from the job application. I later updated my profile on there to include my resume and cover letter in one file (they don’t have the option of uploading 2 separate documents) and just hope they see both.

  49. Designer

    So I am the person who wrote a few months ago about my manager wanting trainees to be hermetically sealed from other designers at lunch time (result: I spoke up, manager agreed it was a goofy idea, plan was dropped). Since I wrote in April, we have hired and fired four trainees, which is just insane and a huge waste of everyone’s time. Lately it seems like we keep hiring people who aren’t exactly computer savvy, which is a giant killer as 98% of our job is computer work, and we end up with people who are saying they are really great with computers but can’t figure out how to manage having more than one window open. My manager says that we cannot include hands-on computer work as part of the interview test due to security reasons (big company bureaucracy, argh). Does anyone have any suggestions on how to screen for computer literacy without using a computer? Also advice on how to screen out people who won’t ask for help when they need it?

    1. Kyrielle

      For computer literacy, honestly, using a computer is the best. Could it be done within company security policies by using a computer that was off the network and created for this purpose, with no files that would be a security risk?

      Other than that – for “asking for help” I’d go with the old “tell me about the time you faced a challenging task” or something similar, I think. (Interestingly, some people will claim they are more independent than they are, then ask for help more often – but most people, IMX, will *not* say they ask for help easily, because some employers see that as indicating you’re needy. So that may make it extra hard to screen for “don’t be such a rugged individualist that you can’t recognize and admit you need help”.)

      It’s also possible this could be improved when you on-board them or work with them – is someone explicitly telling them that it’s viewed as a positive to ask for help if you get stuck? If they do ask for help, are they getting not only the help, but getting feedback (directly or in the manner the help is given) that having asked for it was a good thing?

    2. Cordelia Naismith

      Ask some specific computer-related questions, maybe? “List the steps you would take to accomplish X” or give them a scenario — “In Y computer-related situation, what would you do if Z happened?” That way, you get a sense of what they actually know about computers without having them take an actual computer skills test.

    3. Diddly

      I guess it depends on the programs you use – but can’t you give them a hypothetical computer question and ask how they’d solve it – or have some paper questions with images and questions (like screenshots)
      Or is it not possible to set up a dummy account that the applicant uses – like temps would – that has the software but none of the key information?

    4. fposte

      Oh, for heaven’s sake. That’s incredibly stupid. You seriously can’t put the Office suite on a standalone laptop and have somebody do stuff?

      Right now, your org is getting the trainees it deserves. I suspect that your manager is getting an overread and isn’t pushing back when she should.

    5. JennyFair

      Is this just basic computer use? Not programming or anything?

      I worked for an extremely large internet business that is also highly protective of internal information. We still managed to put applicants through a computer savviness test prior to interviewing, and did not have to compromise security. Ways to accomplish this:
      If the company is large enough to make the cost reasonable, there are programmers who will build you a mock-up. We had a compony do this for us, and the mock-up was accessible anywhere, so applicants could take this test from home. It was for call center type jobs and gave a pretend internal knowledge base to use and then had pretend customers ‘call’ with their problems.
      Provide a computer that is not on the company network and thus looks just like a home computer. Provide a sheet of steps to follow (Find the answer to this question via wikipedia/google, type the steps to comlete X task, log into this email account and send an email in Y format, etc.)
      If the applicants/job openings are few, in-person observation.

      I once worked as a temp for 9 or 10 months in a government office, but was not eligible for the permanent position due to not having enough ‘points’. I had to train my replacement, and during training she had to be taught how to copy/paste. I worried about my poor office of people after I left :( You have my sympathies!

      1. zora

        The computer can even be not hooked up to the internet, turn off the wireless card, etc. It can be completely disconnected from any possible way to use it except using the program you want them to use with generic examples.

    6. AVP

      I like the idea of asking a hypothetical computer question, and asking how they’d solve it. I also always ask something like, “Pretend you’ve come across a technical issue and you don’t know how to solve it. What are your next steps? Take me through the process you’d use to come to an answer.” People who are using computers regularly should have a good answer for that. And if they say “oh, I never have problems I don’t already know the solutions to!” then you KNOW they’re inexperienced.

      My company also has one very tech-heavy position, and we make sure the hiring process for that position includes an informal conversation between candidates and one of the people at my job who are technical geniuses but not management. IME those people can suss out a technical faker from 800 miles away.

      1. Anonsie

        I think this is a good idea. I know someone who started a job that involves doing trainings in new software a few years ago, and the biggest difference she says she notices between people that are able to work with it quickly and people who aren’t are whether or not they will actually look for a solution if they don’t know how to do something. The more successful people will open up menus and look for something like what they want, maybe try something or other (if that makes sense in the program you’re using), look in the manual, maybe ask the person next to them, google it, etc before asking her for help. The less successful people maybe do that for a second but tend to more or less immediately ask for assistance.

    7. Dynamic Beige

      Toronto went digital in 1990. I know this is true because between my 3rd and 4th year, everyone who tried to get a summer job was sat down in front of a MacSE and told “show me what you know”. Employers were desperate for people with computer skills. No one in my class got a job that summer in graphics, we didn’t have computers at school.

      So I would say that you speak with your department about what kind of skills you are looking for and set up a fake project for the applicant to “work” on as a test of their skills. From what I understand, people still have to take typing tests for speed and accuracy if they’re applying for work that requires that kind of proficiency (like temp agencies have tests for things like that). Surely there’s a way to get a laptop, disable the internet/wifi and just have the materials the applicant needs on it? 30 day trial version of CreativeSuite? Someone signs in with their passcode for the day of the interviews then the internet is disabled? I have to work at some corporate offices and there is never a guest wifi account, no internet for me unless I use my phone. If it’s not a real project, then they aren’t being forced to work for free and you would have a way to compare all the applicants based on what they did with the same task. Because otherwise, unless they have a proven track record of employment, you really can’t know for sure.

      Although I would also question that if you have gone through 4 people in as many months, I would wonder what the salary was. I doubt it’s very good if you’re getting people who have no skills. Surely people who go to design school nowadays (gets out walker) would have working knowledge of the software. I can’t imagine that anyone is required to use 12″x12″ boards and ruling pens anymore. If the salary is so low that it’s not attracting recent design school grads, that could be part of the problem right there.

    8. Melissa

      The way I’ve experienced companies screening out people who won’t ask for help is to give them a problem to solve in which they don’t have all the information to solve it. The interviewee is eventually forced to ask questions in order to solve the problem. A lot of interviewers like to see what kinds of questions you ask and the approach you take to solve the problem.

      I don’t see any reason why security would prevent you from doing a computer test. You can get a laptop that’s not connected to the company network or the Internet, and give them a test on a piece of software or something. Use a completed project that’s already public with fake data, perhaps.

    9. TheLazyB

      Your IT should be able to set up an ‘interviewee’ account that can’t access anything. That’s what we did and UK government computer policy is very restrictive :)

    10. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

      Okay, we have literally almost the same job/set up, an entire department’s worth and losing four out of four trainees is completely horse doo, as already know. That is bad bad hiring.

      You HAVE to give a hands on test, on computer, on premises, to the prospects, you have to. Our fail rate on new hires is low. Our fail rate on prospects? High!

      This can be done. Get a stand alone laptop not connected to your computer system, put the appropriate programs on it and design a test. Our test is three pieces, about 30 minutes total, that mimic real world tasks, example, clipping paths. If you think that every person who graduates with a design degree can do clipping paths efficiently and well, you’d be wrong.

      Utterly necessary.

    11. Laurs

      If you can’t set up an off-network computer and use this for a computer-literacy test could you hire one of the companies that will do online computing tests – which the candidates do before the interview?

      There are loads of them and they can set it up to cover exactly what you’re after. As they’re doing it on their own time and from home I’d say that 30-60 minutes is probably the upper limit for this.

  50. Tris Prior

    Just venting. I really like my job, but the company is having serious financial issues and there have been more layoffs…. so I need to start looking. I really, really do not want to leave but I can’t handle the instability and understaffing (we now have lost so many people that we seriously cannot function) and how everyone’s always panicking about low sales.

    This is the only job I’ve had that I have ever really enjoyed. (mostly due to the culture.) I’m worried that I’m never going to find a good culture again, especially since, at past jobs, I asked VERY pointed questions about culture and work/life balance in interviews and was lied to, by both interviewers and current employees that I asked to speak with. :/

    Also, this is a really niche industry and my previous field has pretty much been shipped overseas. So I’m not even sure what to be looking for! I’m trying to look for jobs that involve my transferable skills but so far have not even found anything to apply to that is not at least a $3/hour pay cut – and I don’t make very much now so that would not be do-able.

    I’m really frustrated – and quickly burning out so having trouble finding the brain space and energy to even think about what to try for next. :(

    1. Kyrielle

      Good luck. And…Glass Door can be helpful in figuring out company culture, as can reaching out to people you know who are already at the company if you’re lucky enough that you do know someone there.

      1. Tris Prior

        Thanks! And, good reminder about Glassdoor. The reviews for my previous companies are fairly accurate (current job is not on there) and those for Boyfriend’s job are PAINFULLY true.

  51. onanon

    I have two job offer-related questions!

    Over the past two months or so, I did a phone interview and an on-campus interview with my top choice (dream job for this point in my career at an awesome university.) During that time I was also interviewing with other institutions. Before I heard back from the dream job, I was also invited to interview on campus at a different institution, which I accepted and which I now have travel plans and accomodations set up for July 28, paid by them. Two weeks ago, I received a verbal offer over the phone for the dream job. I’m now waiting to receive my official offer letter from them, but I’m hesitant to put in my two weeks or cancel the other interview until I have the final offer.

    Question #1: If/when I do cancel the other interview, what should I say? Can I email them or should I call them?

    Question #2: I know this varies a lot, but how long should I expect to wait for the official offer? I sent them my transcript last week, and the dean contacted me on Monday saying that he’s working on the paperwork now and asking for my preferred start date. Can anyone in academia weigh in on the process for approving and sending a job offer letter?

    Thank you!!

    1. Diddly

      Can you ask the recruiter how long the offer letter process can take to come through and then judge what you do from there?
      Definitely don’t put in your two weeks notice, but I’m not sure about the interview…

    2. Solid B student

      Can’t help with Ques #2 but on Ques #1: Once you have a firm offer from dream job, Call #2,, thank them for the opportunity, the consideration, but you’ve accepted another offer.

    3. Lia

      I’m in academia, and the official offer is very likely dependent on sign-offs from various offices (HR, payroll, etc etc) and well, it is summer and staffing is likely to be lower, so things can take a while. I know here at Very Large Research Institution, we do not send out offer letters until every duck is in a row, so that means the transcripts were received, references checked, HR orientation set up — even a temp parking pass assigned, and if one link in the chain is on vacation, there’s some waiting.

      Also, there may be some funding stuff too — is the line dependent on external funding? Might need special sign-offs on that.

      Congrats!!

    4. Melissa

      Congrats!

      Don’t quit until you have the final offer! Particularly in academia. I do not want to scare you, but I’ve been reading the Chronicle and have read more than a few stories from people who have said offers have been canceled, yanked, etc. before the final paperwork was signed. (In fact, you might not even want to cancel the other interview until you have the offer inked, but that’s up to you.)

      #1 – When I canceled a job interview I sent an email. I’ve heard that you can cancel an interview in whatever manner you set up the original interview – so if they emailed you to set it up, email them; if they called you, call them. It also depends on how much time you have left – I gave them a few days notice so I was comfortable emailing them, and they’d previously been very responsive on email (within a few hours, sometimes minutes) so I knew they’d get it quickly. Calling is probably better, though.

      I just said “Thanks so much for giving me the opportunity to learn about X Company! However, I will have to cancel the interview because I’ve been offered, and accepted, a job with a different company. Best of luck with your search!” They emailed me back and asked me what role at what company, and I told them. They were very pleasant.

      #2 – For a postdoc, it took MONTHS for them to get an official offer letter to me. I was in a weird situation, where I was offered the postdoc a year before I started it – April 2014, and the director of the program forgot to send me an offer letter until November of 2014. However, once she realized that she forgot to send me one, it only took them a couple weeks to work it out and send it along (maybe 2?). Talking to friends who’ve gotten tenure-track offers, they’ve also said it has taken a couple weeks. Usually these things have to work their way up through several levels of bureaucracy – provost’s office, the department, the dean, HR, sometimes other levels higher or in-between. Also it depends on whether you’ve already negotiated or not. I’d definitely ask the chair or the dean how long you can expect the process to take.