open thread – July 24, 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 :)

{ 1,550 comments… read them below }

  1. Mockingjay

    No Meeting Minutes this week. It’s a miracle!

    And I have a phone screen set up for next week with the company that found me on LinkedIn.

    Happy, happy Friday!

    1. Gamma

      Yay Mockingjay! Good luck with the phone screen — fingers crossed, please keep us in the loop!!

  2. Cruciatus

    I received two offers after two interviews on Monday. Woo! I’m in demand! But I don’t feel great yet. In fact I’m feeling almost miserable. I tried to call the one person back at the job I want—she let me think about it until Friday. I called and she never answered so I emailed her asking if she could plan a time to talk. It’s nearly impossible for me to get away from my desk today and/or take a personal call (my desk is in the middle of the building and everyone could hear me talking, but I could plan a trip to my car). Anyway, I got an automatic reply back that she’s out for the day today (but she wanted an answer today!). I have her cell phone number—she said if I couldn’t reach her (when she was going to offer me the job) to call her there. Should I do that now? If she’s on vacation I don’t want to bother her, but I also want to accept already, dammit! I also wanted to just ask if there was any flexibility in the salary—I’m mostly happy with it but if I could get over the $30,000 mark I’d be even more ecstatic. We’re talking a difference of $.50-$1.00 an hour.

    By this point today I was expecting to have accepted the offer officially, turned down the other offer (also anxious about that—never had to do it before and they are already talking welcome packets and whatnot—I want to get it done before it gets too far. Note: I only said I was still interested, I never said I would absolutely take the job), and then finally tell my boss and write a letter of resignation. But NOTHING has happened at all. Nothing has moved forward and I’m getting more agitated by the hour! And my boss was just talking to me about another colleague that shocked him when he left. He probably doesn’t know what I’m planning but the guilt! It’s mounting!

    1. Retail Lifer

      She said she wanted an asnwer today. She said it was OK to call her on her cell. Please call her! You don’t need all this stress when you should be excited!

      1. Artemesia

        Today is the day and you need to at least take a swing a negotiating. This is your golden moment for that — once you say yes, you have no leverage at all. Call.

    2. fposte

      Many congratulations!

      Definitely call her cell–and also realize that sometimes things just don’t move along that quickly. The only sticking point here is the other place waiting for your turndown, and I might even mention that in your message if that’s not information she has already.

    3. voluptuousfire

      Call her and report back to let us know how it went. Also let us know how your resignation goes.

    4. Cruciatus

      I called her cell but she wasn’t there. I left a voice mail explaining why I called her there and if she could get back in touch with me through email with a time to touch base. Hopefully it’ll be today. Otherwise do I just call on Monday? I don’t want to accept in email for some reason, though I suppose I could.

        1. Mel in HR

          This. One thing I’ve learned from AAM is that whenever I move on to a better place, I should at least try to negotiate. I would definitely give it a shot and you need to do that over the phone. BUT I would also read into how she responds as well.

          Good Luck!

      1. Cruciatus

        After some back and forth we finally spoke to one another. I asked about a slightly higher salary. She said it would probably not happen but she would ask on my behalf. But at least I tried (I’m still happy with the salary anyway). We will try to talk again this afternoon, at which point I hope to be able to say I ACCEPT!

    5. Honeybee

      I’d call her cell, and if you miss her/can’t reach her, accept via email. When I couldn’t reach the recruiter via his phone to tell him I was accepting the offer, I left him a message and then sent him an email letting him know I was accepting the offer (and asking some follow-up questions I had, but my acceptance wasn’t contingent upon the questions’ answers). He called me back when he got a chance and it was absolutely fine.

      However, since you want to ask about salary flexibility that might be better to do over the phone, so yes, I’d try her cell regardless!

      I’m still dealing with the guilt of resigning my current position and accepting an offer to move, even though everyone’s been supportive. I guess we just have to plow through it? I have no suggestions in that area, lol.

      Congrats!

    6. Cruciatus

      I have officially accepted the first offer AND got…$384 more dollars! That’s $.02 more an hour. Whoa! But you know what, it’s more than I’ve ever been able to get before so I’ll take it.

      I haven’t called the other company to turn them down yet. I didn’t want it hanging over my head all weekend but that’s just how it is. I am weirdly nervous about turning them down but surely it has to happen frequently. I just hope they aren’t too far in the process on Monday.

      And so this also means I will not tell my boss until Monday. You know, the first day our school starts. Oh, I hope that goes well too. I may have more updates for next Friday…

      1. Tau

        Good luck! I was in a very similar position to you recently – two offers on the same day, I actually ended up turning offer #1 down before I managed to confirm offer #2 because I was worried about leaving them hanging. I was *so worried* about how they’d take it because they’d also jumped straight to start dates and relocation costs, but they were really great about it. As you say, this happens a lot. I’m sure it’ll be fine!

        Also, congratulations on the negotiation *and* on the new job!!!

      2. Mimmy

        YAY!! I’ve been keeping an eye on this thread to see how you made out….so glad you were able to get this one squared away before the weekend. GO CELEBRATE!!!

  3. Delyssia

    The short version of the question: how do you identify legitimate areas for improvement when you suffer from imposter syndrome?

    I’m working with a new internal client group at work, and my imposter syndrome is seriously flaring up. Every bit of feedback (not even criticism, just feedback–like: “Oh, I think we have a better picture to use there.”) has me second guessing myself like crazy. I realize that I have areas to learn in working with this new group, but I don’t want to drive myself completely insane in the process. And I don’t want to get so focused on improving minutiae that doesn’t really matter that I ignore bigger, more important areas that need improvement.

    1. Ad Astra

      I don’t really have advice, only commiseration: I still am not sure if I suffer from imposter syndrome or if I am actually bad at working.

    2. Christy

      I ask for large-scale feedback, particularly from my boss. He believes in “expanding your capabilities through self-sufficiency” so he’s basically telling me to figure it out myself. Basically, whenever I’m too doubtful of what I’m doing to keep doing it, I ask. Sometimes a boss, sometimes a peer.

      Actually! We have an informal peer chat weekly, and I think something like that might be a way to make sure you’re on track. Check in with your peers to see if they notice anything about you or your work that you might want to change.

        1. Christy

          I mean, it helps in that it’s very clear what he’s interested in hearing from me. I know not to ask him “how” questions unless I’m really stuck. I know asking questions won’t help me, but trying to figure it out myself will. I’m very happy to know where he’s coming from. And with what I do, there’s a lot of self-teaching I *can* do. It’s just not always my first instinct. I’m also coming from the office where I interned, so it’s good to know what expectations are in other offices.

          1. Hlyssande

            Ah, okay. That makes a lot more sense! I thought you were asking for feedback about your performance in general and got that in response.

            I must not have had enough caffeine yet today. :)

            1. Christy

              That looks like I wrote, even though that’s not what I meant. I don’t think I was particularly clear (even though I was totally clear in my head)!

              1. Christy

                How about “that looks like what I wrote”.

                And I ask for large-scale feedback because asking for help or advice on small things doesn’t seem to be his style.

                There we go! That seems clearer.

    3. GOG11

      If there are quantifiable areas of your job, perhaps you could look to those first? For example, if you’ve spent the last six months learning about a new product and you’ve landed 3 clients, perhaps you could say you’d like to land twice as many now that you know the ropes. You don’t want to get bogged down by numbers so much that you ignore the bigger picture, but starting with them gives you an objective measure to keep you grounded. Those figures might not be available in every job, but maybe they are in yours.

      Another approach that might help would be looking at processes/policies/etc. that you know don’t work well, but you don’t know yet how to solve them. For example, a certain process takes X weeks where I work, which is fine for longer-term projects. But now, we have a new project that cycles through 4 times faster than the normal ones. One of my goals is to figure out how to make that same process happen by the time the project cycle is done. I don’t know how I’m going to do it yet, but it definitely needs done and both achieving the solution (for the company) and gaining the skills needed to look into the current process, find potential fixes, get other departments on board with those fixes (for me) will be really valuable.

    4. Lisa

      I do this too. Mainly because I had a psycho boss that gas-lighted me into thinking I was never good enough. Even amazing performance for clients was treated with ‘was it really something we did or dumb luck?’. So I am conditioned to believe nothing is good enough and trying to determine every word of what my managers tell me. So even good feedback is not good if I’ve been told it probably had nothing to do with me or my work.

      Try to think of things in buckets. If you always split it up, but focus first on the biggest impact, you will be ok.
      – work with biggest impact toward goal
      – continuous improvements

    5. Not So NewReader

      If you do not know understand process x, task y or recurring problem b that is not impostor syndrome. That is real. Start by figuring out what you really do not understand.

      The thing with the picture sounds like “naw, I don’t like the green shirt, I want the blue one instead.’ Personal preference, a random need to correct someone else’s work, or maybe she just used that picture last week and does not want to use it again. Who knows. I think it is okay to sometimes ask “what grabs you about this picture over that one?” So when you hit one of those blue shirt/green shirt situations, try to figure out why people are making the choices they are making. You can also use a compliment with a question- “When you do abc it always comes out well, what’s your trick here?” It’s amazing how much info you can get if you compliment people.
      Personally, I like to be a little sponge at work. I like to listen to people’s ideas and soak up the best of the best ideas. Those ideas, I make part of my own routines.

      Lastly, ease up on yourself. Make it your goal that at least once or twice a day you are going to let someone “pick the green shirt” and not your “blue shirt” and you are just going to let it ride WITHOUT questioning yourself. Just breathe.

  4. Job Hunter

    How have you handled an ATS that requires 3 references’ information to be put in? I only have 2 because I’m early in my career but both are prior managers. I know the other options to use for references such as senior coworkers you worked closely with, but let’s just assume that there’s nobody else I can ask.

    1. Ad Astra

      Even in jobs where the ATS doesn’t ask for reference information, and employer is probably going to want at least three references before they make an offer. I think you really need to find a third.

    2. Mints

      Yeah, I think you need a third, even if it’s just a coworker with no management at all. Or also a professor (assuming you’re a recent grad)

    3. Jerzy

      Do you have a former professor you could ask to be your reference? If you’re just starting out, most employers wouldn’t bat an eye at that.

    4. Anonymous Educator

      I would say doesn’t even have to be senior. Just use a co-worker. If you have had two jobs with two managers, use those two, and then pick a co-worker from your most recent job.

      1. zora

        but make sure they are a coworker who can speak professionally and clearly about your job performance.

    5. Mel in HR

      3 is very standard. I would try to find a mentor that you can use. A professional who knows about your skills and whatnot. I had to do that after college as I had moved to a different state and had no local/recent references.

    6. hermit crab

      I think you probably do have other people you can ask — besides professors/advisors like others have mentioned, what about people from volunteering, community organizations, summer jobs you had in school, etc.?

      Then again, sometimes the three references requirement really is just a software requirement and not a requirement of the organization. When I applied to grad school, I used an automated form that required three letters of recommendation, but the instructions explicitly stated that masters applicants only needed two, and I just had to put something in the form so it would let me submit. My third reference was literally Mr. Not Applicable — entered as first name “Not” and last name “Applicable”!

    7. Lady Bug

      I’ve used business associates before. Fir example I was a buyer and I’ve used sales people I’ve dealt with, since they can speak to the quality of certain aspects of my job. That’s an option if it applies to you.

  5. Christy

    How does one resign a non-profit board? I’m not exactly quitting in protest; I’m just less interested in the direction the group is going. I joined in September 2014 for a two year term. Am I obligated to finish out that term? I’m on the executive board too, and half of the executive board is leaving in general at the end of the calendar year. What are my obligations here?

    1. inkstainedpages

      Talk to the board chair! No one wants a board member that is no longer committed – the chair will probably be happy to help you transition out. And good for you for recognizing it would be best to resign rather than waiting out your term.

      1. Christy

        No one is very committed following the changes? And I don’t think there’s a big contingent of new people waiting out there to join. The chair is one of the ones resigning, and a relatively new board member will become chair in September. (Ack maybe I shouldn’t be getting into this.)

        1. inkstainedpages

          Hmm, do they have a good system set up for recruiting new board members? If not, this is one of the risks they run by not having a good board recruitment system in place (my board does not have a good system either). It’s tough to feel like you’re deserting them when they need you since so many others are stepping off the board around the same time, but as Ashley said below, this is a common thing – when you join the board we hope you continue through your term, but it’s understandable if circumstances arise that make that not possible.

          Talk to the board chair and/or executive director and let them know that you’re worried about stepping down with so many others leaving too – if they’re in a pinch, maybe they’ll ask if you’d be willing to finish your term, but likely they will understand and have you transition out now.

    2. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec

      Talk personally with the board chair and the executive (phone is okay), and then send an e-mail to the rest of the board. It’s really okay – people do this all the time. And frankly, if your energy/enthusiasm are low, it’s probably a good thing to do for both you and for the agency. Reasonable people will understand that not everyone on the board is equally excited about the mission and the current tasks at hand – that variation is normal.

      1. Anon369

        I’ll disagree here with a number of the comments – a lot of people do resign mid-term, but it’s not a practice I would recommend.
        First, it does leave the other members in a lurch.
        Second, it may well reflect on you in the future with other roles – I’ve seen boards and elected positions ask if you’ve ever resigned from an officer or Board role before.
        Third, that’s what term commitments are for.
        Fourth, you have the opportunity as a Board member to be the change you want to see from the inside.
        Fifth, you may have fiduciary obligations to your donors and the like.

        The times I think resignation makes sense is where the Board is acting unethically, immorally or illegally and you aren’t able to make changes. Barring that, I’d be hesitant to recommend someone who’s resigned before.

        *Experience – recently became one of the “last men standing” on a Board when the single-employee director resigned, and all of her Board reps resigned right away. Four of us limped along for another year of our two year term, but we did what the organization needed.

    3. Simplytea

      If you only have two months left (until September 2015) before the one year mark, I’d say wait it out until the end of the first year and then say you don’t want to continue for the second. Is this completely volunteer or contractual? I suspect answers will be different depending on the answer. Good luck!

    4. part of the machine

      I’ve done this before. I checked the bylaws (often there are provisions that state who you need to notify), but it’s mainly the executive director and board chair. People step down for a number of reasons, you don’t have an obligation to say why, but if you do want the org to improve or are willing to work towards it, I would have a conversation with the board chair/ed first.

      1. Not So NewReader

        Definitely check the bylaws- if the bylaws are well written it will describe what to do.

    5. LPBB

      I noticed downthread that you have an MLS…..is this non-profit library related? If so, is it going through a transition that could potentially destroy it?

    6. Not So NewReader

      No, you do not have to stay on a board. It sounds like there are difficulties there that you don’t want explain here. This happens a lot with boards. Once you are inside a board, sometimes it is not as prestigious as the public thinks. It can be a lot of work and you can even end up spending out of pocket.

      If you are reluctant to quit, see if you can find out who the new incoming people are and try to figure if the board will change direction because of these folks.

      I presume you got asked if you wanted to be on the board. Were you doing that out of the goodness of your heart or did you join in the hopes of moving your career? If the board position is some how tied to your career then I would think very carefully before quitting.

    1. ella

      I caught the back pocket of my jeans on a sales display and riipppppeeeedddddddd from the top of my pocket all the way to the crotch of my pants. That was fun.

    2. Kara Ayako

      I once ripped my shirt–half the sleeve came off as I was reaching for a shelf. I didn’t have any substitutes, so I actually had to go all the way home and change.

    3. Christy

      Does forgetting to wear a bra that day count? I just put on my thick work sweater and hoped for the best.

      1. LPBB

        I didn’t realize how thin the fabric was of a shirt I was wearing one day until I went to the bathroom and looked in the mirror to discover you could plainly see my bright pink bra through it. I also swaddled myself in my work cardigan for the rest of the day.

        1. SnowWhite

          OR didn’t realise what I thought was a completely opaque nude bra wasn’t as opaque as I thought and discovered when I walked into the bathroom at work.
          Strategically placed scarf for rest of the day and praying I caught it before anyone noticed.

      2. Kristen

        I will be starting my first office job in a few weeks and y’all have taught me that I must keep a cardigan at work. And for that, I thank you.

        1. SnowWhite

          Another one is always check your makeup in your own bathroom before you leave the house. For some reason lighting is different, I have found bedroom lighting does not always clearly show if you are orange or stripy

        2. hermit crab

          The basic black back-of-the-desk-chair cardigan is probably the #1 most essential piece in my work wardrobe. It seems like it might not be that important, but it might be something that you end up wearing more than anything else, and it’s worth it to get a good one! I recently upgraded mine and it’s amazing how much more professional I look/feel.

          I also keep a fleece vest, some socks, and an old pair of sneakers at my desk. There is nothing like realizing that you have to stay at work all night to work on a proposal and not having any comfortable shoes to wear while you’re doing it.

          1. Christy

            +1. I have a heavy dark grey cardigan, and it’s the best. It’s not very professional, though. I’d definitely support someone buying a nice office cardigan rather than just using the one they left in the office years ago.

          2. hermit crab

            Oh and something else that’s awesome that I’ve recently discovered — blazers that are made out of soft sweatshirt-style material! I have a gray one that I found on deep discount at Ann Taylor (I think) and it’s fantastic. It looks enough like a regular blazer to be a step up from my standard cardigan, but it feels like I’m wearing a sweatshirt in terms of both warmth and comfort.

          3. Ad Astra

            Yes! Though I might recommend a white or gray cardigan if you’re someone who wears navy on a regular basis.

          4. Tau

            I wish I’d done this. I ran some errands at lunch today and it was pouring rain and it turns out my shoes are leaky. I was squelching as I walked when I got back to the office… I ended up just sitting at my desk in socks for the rest of the afternoon and hoping nobody noticed.

        3. Rowan

          Two cardigans! One tissue-weight one for aforementioned wardrobe malfunctions and a nice warm one for when the air conditioning is arctic. I will admit that I am a compulsive overpacker and other people might find that excessive. ;)

        4. Kelly L.

          It’s so handy. Not just for wardrobe malfunctions but for days when the air conditioner turns the place into Antarctica.

          1. Sammie

            Speaking of—my worst wardrobe malfunction was when a make co-worker nodded at me–glanced at my chest and said, “MY it’s cold in here”…..

            I’m still embarrassed. Cardigans forever!

            1. Dinah

              You should have stared at his crotch, put a sympathetic expression on your face, and said, “It certainly is!”

        5. Artemesia

          Also always keep a good pair of walking shoes in the bottom drawer of your desk if you normally wear heels. My kids were both in DC on 9/11 and one of them walked 5 miles to connect with the other when they finally were able to get in touch. It reminded me that ins a crisis like a fire, blackout, terrorism, floods, any disaster the ability to be able to walk 20 miles can save your life.

        6. catsAreCool

          I keep an extra shirt at work, just in case I spill something on the shirt I’m wearing.

      3. INFJ

        My mother has done this. She was driving to work when she realized it, turned around to put one on, and assured her supervisor that she was late for a good reason.

    4. Sascha

      I wore a lot of leggings as pants during my pregnancy. I work in a pretty casual office and I always wore long tunic shirts and stuff…but I probably shouldn’t do that anymore. Pants are just too hard when you’re pregnant, okay??

      1. Alston

        I started wearing pregnancy pants when I broke both arms and couldn’t put on real pants. They were awesome and I still wear them, stretchy, no button, no forgetting to do up your fly. Win!

        1. Jerzy

          When I was pregnant, I put off wearing maternity pants for some reason I can’t even remember now. The first day I admitted I was busting out and needed to wear them, all I remember is the absolute BLISS of comfort and me wondering why I had put it off for so long.

          1. einahpets

            Yeah, I did that with my first.

            I am at 16 weeks now with my second, and with a combination of feeling like I am showing way earlier (I’m fairly tall so I was almost halfway through my 3rd trimester before I actually got strangers asking if I was pregnant and not just rounder in the middle — our new neighbors at the time didn’t realize I was even pregnant until a week before we came home with baby, lol), so I have totally embraced them. And maxi skirts. And my bella band, for some of the work pants I still actually want to wear but can’t.

          2. Dinah

            Same. I thought they were totally weird looking until I actually put on a pair, then I was sad to give them up.
            According to my grandma, they didn’t sell maternity clothes back in the day. She said that most women made aprons to wear over their regular clothes (which I assume were left unbuttoned and unzipped) because making new dresses was too much trouble. I can’t even imagine…

      2. zora

        Eh, I think all rules are suspended when you’re pregnant ;o) Having never been pregnant myself, I still give you a pass.

        1. ActCasual

          Me too. BTW I ordered some of the Betanrand dress yoga pants mentioned last week and they are AMAZING. Plus, they have free returns – they pay return shipping and everything.

    5. nona

      A button in the middle of my shirt came undone. I noticed at the end of the day. Not sure when it happened or who could have seen it. Paranoid about button-up shirts ever since. :(

      1. SnowWhite

        I had to tell an interviewer that this happened in the middle of an interview for a job I really wanted. It kept happening throughout and was embarrassing for both of us.

        Poor, poor lady

    6. Jill of All Trades

      I have a particular button-down blouse that I love and so does my seat belt – somehow on my way to work the seat belt unbuttoned the one critical button on this blouse and left my girls open to the wind. I didn’t notice until I was in the building.

      1. Beebs

        My cross body purses do this to me all the time! I am mindful about it, but sometimes you are caught off guard

    7. Kelly L.

      I’ve probably told both of these here before.

      1. Spilled pasta sauce ALLLLLL down my blouse. Worked at a college campus at the time, so remedied the situation by buying a school T-shirt at the bookstore and changing into it. I had been wearing a really uber-femme skirt with the blouse, so the rest of the day I was going around in this odd mismatched outfit.

      2. Accidentally wore black pants with a 2″ hole between the legs to work. Thank the gods for fortuitous wearing of black underwear.

    8. HeyNonnyNonny

      Most of my pants had back buttons on the back pockets that kept getting caught in my desk chair, so I couldn’t stand up or move without having to reach around and disentangle my butt. Finally, they all ripped off from this, so I guess it solved itself.

    9. Amber Rose

      Realized last week that you could really see my bra poking up under the t-shirt I had on. It’s not a very low cut shirt, just a really high up bra. Super awkward.

      Also the time I didn’t realize the cat peed on my sweater until I’d had it on a while. I’ve become fairly nose blind to the fuzz ball.

      1. MaryMary

        One of my coworkers is running to Target at lunch because she’s pretty sure her cat peed on her sweater, but didn’t notice the smell until she was in the car on the way to work.

        1. Elizabeth West

          I stepped in cat poo one morning on the way to work and had to take my shoe off and wash it in the sink. I didn’t notice until I got to work. GROSS

      2. JenGray

        Cats are the worse. I know that pet hair is a fact of life when you have animals but I think my cat is shedding worse than she ever has the older she gets and I swear she knows when the dryer is done so as soon as pull clothes out and set them anywhere to fold or hang she lays on them.

      3. Izzy

        I have read that cat pee does not smell when it is fresh, only when it is a few hours old and starts to decompose. Often you can’t see it either. I have also run into this, wearing something for a while before I smelled something. Cats were getting in baskets of clean clothes. Incentive to put them away right away!

    10. Anon for this

      Hit submit too soon. Inspired by the poster the other day who had to staple her pants together.

      My worst one was a couple weeks after I’d gotten my nipples pierced. I hadn’t had any problems with them until I made the mistake of wearing a low cut bra with a lacy border. One of the tiny barbells got snagged in the lace and I couldn’t see to get it untangled and it KILLED! Fortunately one of my very good friends with a very good sense of humor worked there and she got me unstuck. Which is awesome because otherwise I would have ended up cutting my bra off.

      1. Mimmy

        Inspired by the poster the other day who had to staple her pants together

        LOL – Which thread was this?

        Great post idea – I’m snort-giggling on some of these already!

      2. Anon17

        My underwire broke at work one day (on my only flesh-colored bra), and was stabbing me. I kept going to the bathroom trying to just get it angled away from my flesh. I wanted to just pull it out, but I couldn’t get it. Finally when I got home, I cut out the underwire. I then ran to the store to get a new bra — when I got home I realized that having one cup with an underwire, and the other without leaves you looking very lopsided. I’m glad I couldn’t get it out at work :-D

    11. Muriel Heslop

      Discovering my shirt that seemed fine at home was extremely transparent under the fluorescent lighting of my eighth-grade English classroom. Of course, my students were happy to let me know.

    12. Lore

      I bought a vintage ribbed knit top from a costume designer’s tag sale–never been worn supposedly. Well, I guess it was old enough that the thread was rotting away. Midday I realized there was a seam rip in it and went to borrow a safety pin. The amount of twisting required to fasten the pin generated two more rips. By the time I got back to my desk the whole thing had basically disintegrated on me. Thank goodness I keep a cardigan at my desk.

      1. Kelly L.

        Oh! I also had a shoe with a foam heel completely disintegrate on me in about 30 minutes. (I had been walking around the department grumbling about Some Inconsiderate Person who had obviously left little hunks of “dirt” all over the place. Surprise! it was me.) By the time all was said and done, one foot was flat on the ground while the other was still about 2″ up on its heel. No indecent exposure, but I did look kind of dorky.

        1. GOG11

          I had the sole of my leather shoes fall off at work. They are a very nice pair of shoes, but I’ve had them for quite a few years and the wood parts just detached one day. Luckily I had another pair of shoes in my car.

        2. lawsuited

          My most obvious wardrobe malfunction was when I wore one nude shoe and one black shoe. The heel heights were similar enough that I didn’t notice until about 10am. There was literally nothing I could do, short of going barefoot for the day, so I just made a lot of jokes about having difficulty deciding which went better with my blouse.

    13. Mints

      My pants ripped :X
      It was inner thigh, thunder thigh style.

      I mostly sat awkwardly and avoided walking anywhere

      1. Katie the Fed

        Same thing happened to me. Lightweight linen pants. Inner thigh in the crotch region.

      2. oldfashionedlovesong

        This has happened to me with multiple pairs of denim and linen pants. Gotta love them thunder thighs. Luckily I sit with my legs together!

    14. Hlyssande

      – I had a really bad nosebleed and absolutely ruined my favorite sweaterdress (I gave up on trying to get the blood out after multiple attempts over a year, sob). The neckline was one I couldn’t wear a scarf with, so I took my hair down and tried to keep the stains covered the rest of the day.

      -My chair ripped the bottom of a pants leg off – at least 8 inches of it all around – when I was trying to get up one day. They were a little long, but the best linen blend and were so comfortable. And had pockets. UGH.

      1. Anonny

        This sounds really gross, but your own spit will often help to get blood out of clothing. I’ve done it before, and it gets a fair amount of the stain out, though it still would need a good cleaning.

        1. Hlyssande

          This was before I really knew how to get it out. I know now, but haven’t managed to bleed on clothes again yet.

          I did give it a good long rinse under cold water in the bathroom at work if I recall (thank goodness I always wore a tank under it), but later forgot and it got mixed up in the actual laundry. :(

          1. hermit crab

            OK, so I came back to this thread see what other wardrobe malfunctions people had posted, and someone’s funny story made me snort with laughter, and blood came out of my nose and landed on my bedspread. It was very appropriate. And gross. Appropriately gross.

        1. Hlyssande

          I wouldn’t say that I get them frequently, but it’s definitely a non-rare happening. At least a few times a year, with some years worse than others.

          That’s the only article of clothing I’ve ever gotten it on, though, so there’s that.

    15. Vex

      I once saw a pair of shoes I liked so much that I bought them in both black and brown. Cue the day I absent-mindedly got dressed and put on one brown and one black shoe… and didn’t realize it until mid-afternoon. Woof.

      1. littlemoose

        I own several pairs of shoes in both brown and black, and I am forever paranoid that I’ll do this. I often check my shoes more than once before leaving the house. I’m sure it’ll happen to me at some point anyway though.

      2. Katie the Fed

        I was really hungover the morning of my college graduation and got dressed without the light on. I wore two different black heeled loafers – with a height difference of about 3/4 of an inch. Sigh.

      3. Gene

        A friend just posted a PSA to not pack for a work trip in the dark, at 0300, with a photo of two shoes; both black, but obviously different. Oh yeah, both right shoes.

        1. Alston

          Last wedding my boyfriend and I traveled to he packed two right dress shoes. He was TOTALLY going to force his left foot into one of them and wear them anyway. Fortunately we found a Good Will on the way to the ceremony and stopped that madness.

    16. Bekx

      Somehow when I threw my toilet paper into the toilet part of it missed and caught itself in my pants. One of my coworkers noticed and I was pretty mortified. I seriously don’t even know how that happened.

    17. AvonLady Barksdale

      I had a Very Favorite cashmere sweater that was so perfect… black, soft, short-sleeved but the right length. I wore it all the time. I had a client meeting scheduled so I wore the Perfect Sweater with a great skirt, then I got to work… and noticed a MASSIVE HOLE under my armpit. How did I not see that??? Well, I hadn’t looked at myself from the side. I kept my arm pinned to my side the whole time and freaked out over what to do, made plans to go to Lord & Taylor asap… then the meeting was cancelled. So I just walked around with my arm pinned. I hated having to toss that sweater.

    18. Also Anon

      Got my period and it leaked through my jeans! Had nothing to put over my butt, so walked around with bloody spot all day.

      1. oldfashionedlovesong

        I feel pretty confident saying that any woman who has a menstrual cycle and says this has never happened in her lifetime is lying :P

        1. Treena

          Uh, no? I got my period when I was 16 and have had it for 10 years (2-4 years w/o period because of birth control). I’ve never once leaked through clothes, and I don’t have a particularly light cycle. Definitely not lying!

          1. oldfashionedlovesong

            That was a tongue-in-cheek comment to reassure Also Anon that this has probably happened to many other women. In my teen years, my period was very irregular and I once spotted on some bed linens during a sleepover. I was absolutely mortified, but my friend’s mom was so kind and assured me that it was such a normal thing to happen, especially for a younger woman whose cycle is still normalizing. That meant a lot to me.

            But Treena, it was not my intention to be rude, and I apologize for offending you.

            1. Treena

              Oh, not offended at all! I’m just a health educator and it’s a pet peeve of mine when people make sweeping generalizations. Everyone thinks they’re a freak and when they see something like that, it’s confirmed!

              1. oldfashionedlovesong

                Ok, I’m glad to hear that! That’s awesome, I work in public health as well. It’s a good reminder of how something that seems innocuous to one person may read very differently to another. I wrote my comment as a jokey way to reassure the poster that she wasn’t a freak and it’s a thing that happens to everyone– and I ended up making a generalization anyway.

          2. Kelly

            I had to go home sick recently during my period because I didn’t have any extra clothes to wear. I only came in because we are short staffed during the summers, when I should have called in because of a rather heavy flow and cramping. I leaked blood onto my black pants.

        2. Nervous Driver

          That actually has not happened to me since I was 13….however I still do have sleeping incidents and stained many bedsheets ugh. I’ve realized that the only thing that can fix this is doubling up on protection which sucks but eh what else can you do.

      2. Algae

        I had that happen. It was the first period after a baby, so it was super strong. I ended up going home because it. wasn’t. stopping.

        I got an ablation shortly after that and haven’t had a period since then. (knock wood)

        1. Sara

          Same – sophomore year of high school. It was MASSIVE. I swear that I haven’t bled that much in one day since then.

      3. Renee

        Perimenopause did that to me. I would have crazy floods for a couple of hours every cycle that could not be stemmed by any product. I had a major gusher at work and I actually told my boss I was sick and went home. I work at a manufacturing company that was 80% male, and even as much as I think men need to toughen up about it, I couldn’t bring myself to walk around with visibly blood soaked pants for the rest of the day.

        1. Tau

          Eep, that sucks. I am nowhere near menopause but have been having similar issues due to a health problem – let’s just say I didn’t realise it’s possible to bleed so heavily you can’t leave your house until recently. (Also, the spells of dizziness + complete destruction of my fitness and stamina from blood loss every cycle, last month joined by actual fainting. Fun times.) At least I was still job-hunting during the worst of it. Trying to arrange interviews with that going on was bad enough, I shudder to think what working full-time would have been like… strongly hope I won’t find out.

          1. Renee

            That’s a bummer. I hope they’re able to address that for you. I was chronically low-iron too. I’m not getting my cycle much anymore and I’m on hormones so my problem has mostly resolved.

        2. Not So NewReader

          Perimenopause yanked me around pretty good but not as bad as what you describe here. It was enough to keep me worried all day at work. Some days I could not keep track of things because of worry/run to the bathroom/worry/run to the bathroom loop that I was stuck in.

          The ironic thing was the one red stain I had was actually red paint that I had managed to sit on. I went home and changed in total disbelief that after being so careful paint got me.

      4. Vancouver Reader

        I did one better than you. I had on a white matching top and skirt with coloured stripes (so there was a fair bit of white) and I leaked through and had to walk to the bus stop after work. I didn’t notice until I got home.

        Another time, I had to change into a pair of leggings I had thankfully left at work, and fortunately, that workplace was very casual, so no one batted an eye.

      5. Still So Anonymous

        This happened to me as a freshman in high school. Wearing cream colored pants. My dad had to come pick me up from school because in addition to the humiliation, I had such terrible cramps I was throwing up. Ugh

      6. Felicia

        At least you didn’t also get it on your chair and had it stain (which is what happened to me!)

    19. Jennifer

      My skirt fell off in front of my boss, but I was wearing leggings so nobody saw anything.

    20. some1

      I took the bus to work in the winter and forgot to bring shoes in my bag and had to wear my snow boots all day like Napoleon Dynamite.

      1. MaryMary

        I’ve done this. I did it deliberately one of the days it was -20 outside and our office was barely 50 degree.

        1. Elizabeth West

          I wore coveralls all day at the front desk one winter day at Exjob. It was oh-hell-no cold outside and people kept opening the doors and freezing me out.

      2. Gamma

        I did this – purple rain boots with pale blue cloud-shaped dots — to a meeting of the Board of Directors. sigh

    21. Retail Lifer

      I split the seam of my pants (butt area) at work once. I was INCREDIBLY lucky to work in a department store with an alterations department at the time. I weighed about 20 pounds less than I do now but boy, did I have a fat complex that day.

      1. Cordelia Naismith

        Not a wardrobe malfunction, but one time I leaned back in a chair at work…and the chair broke. It was a cheap plastic thing on its last legs (literally!), but I have never been more embarrassed or self-conscious about my weight than that day.

    22. some1

      I used to buy cheaper dress pants from the Juniors section. I had more than one pant seam come undone and didn’t have a safety pin and had to staple it.

      1. GOG11

        I buy my dress pants in the juniors section because I have a very short torso (but long legs, so petites are out for me) and the lower rise pants fit me like normal dress pants would fit many other women. I have yet to rip a hole in my pants, and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it won’t happen anytime soon.

    23. Gene

      Not to me, but to the coworker for whom I’ve been in two of her weddings.

      We would spend all day driving around in our early-80s Chevy station wagon, sampling and inspecting industrial users, responding to plugged sewer calls, and finding shady spots to sit and do paperwork. I would describe her as always a bit fidgety, but that day she was squirmy, just could not sit still. Finally, at the end of the day when I dropped her off at the women’s lockers so she could change for her bus ride home, I saw the problem as she was walking away. The left side of her rental uniform pants was the correct size, but the right side was about 2 sizes smaller, squeezing her whole butt to the left. It would have made a great picture, but this was back when film ruled, and one didn’t have a camera in one’s pocket all the time. I did call her back to let her know what was going on, then laughed all the way home.

    24. Lucky

      I’ve got a great story, but it’s a long one.
      Okay, so I was a law clerk for a trial court judge, and all the judges would cycle through the various rotations (juvenile, family, civil and criminal). A daily calendar during criminal rotation included in-custody hearings – a video streaming set up allowed the defendant and his/her attorney to appear from jail, with the prosecutor, judge and court staff in the courtroom.
      It was a quick-and-dirty calendar with 75-100 files that I had to prep on the bench. One day, as I was arranging the files, the printed calendar, my judge’s preferred pens, etc., I heard someone clearing her throat. I looked up and saw a blurry image on the video monitor. As I stepped back, I realized that in my rush to get things prepped, I had leaned over the video camera lens in a way that angled it at and then into my cleavage, transmitting that image directly into the hearing room in the jail, for the delight of all the defendants in their red jumpsuits, the same shade of red that I quickly turned.

      So, do I win a prize?

      1. Emmie

        Yes, you do!
        When I was a law student I wore my favorite burnt orange business suit jacket to do jail visits and prisoners at an ICE detention facility. I picked this jacket because it had a high collar covering my body, and would cover my chest. When the detainees arrived, I realized my conservative jacket was the same color as many of their prison jumpsuits. In my desire to be overly conservative, I never thought I’d match the detainees. Note to self: never wear orange to jail as an attorney, which I’ve followed.

    25. LizB

      I was going to be outside for a work event and the forecast called for rain, so I grabbed my raincoat off the extremely messy floor of my bedroom and shoved it into my bag. Put it on at the event when the rain started and stood around talking to clients and coworkers for about ten minutes before another coworker pointed out that a pair of my underwear that was exactly the same color as the coat was stuck to the velcro in the front. Whoops!

      1. inkstainedpages

        Not work related, but one time in high school, one of my friends found her little sister’s Barbie clothes velcro-ed to the inside of her shirt. They had apparently gone through the laundry together and gotten stuck in there.

    26. littlemoose

      Just a couple of weeks ago, I wore a red blazer over a cream-colored top. Well, it was hot that day, and I took off the blazer in the afternoon. When I got home that evening, I discovered that the red dye from the blazer had bled onto the armpits of the cream top from where I had sweated. :/

      1. Career Counselorette

        No shame- I wore a pair of white pants a couple of weeks ago when it was like 90 degrees, and at the end of the day I realized that I’d had swamp ass so bad I actually sweated through the pants and there was this horrible yellowish outline right in the crotch. Everyone probably thought I’d pissed all over myself.

        1. Sascha

          This is why I never wear light colored bottoms. My offices are so poorly temperature controlled I always have swamp ass. The struggle is real!

        2. littlemoose

          I will never wear white pants for just that reason. I’m a champion sweater and am all too familiar with the dreaded swamp ass.

        3. Ad Astra

          I don’t know how so many people manage to wear white/light bottoms without sweating through them or staining them all to hell. The lightest I’m prepared to go is a medium khaki.

        4. Mimmy

          Even without thinking about swamp a**, I always try to wear white underwear with white pants–or even nude color–I figure that other colors might be visible.

      2. Elizabeth West

        Oh ugh! I hate that! I borrowed a cheap red purse from my auntie in London, and it rubbed dye off onto a white t-shirt and ruined it. My fault, I guess–I should learn not to wear white at all when traveling.

    27. Felicia

      Once i was wearing a white dress with blue polka dots, plus a blue cardigan. In my home, which is a basement apartment, which i thought was well lit, it was 100% work appropriate and looked nice. When i got to work, under work lighting, it was see through, and everyone could see my underwear.

      Also tied for worst, luckily at a different job. I was wearing kind of beige-ish pants, and I got my period unexpectedly, and bled through my pants, and onto my seat. I didn’t realize it was on my seat until the next day and my coworker pointed it out. At this job a different time , I also spent all day at work with my shirt on backwards and I didn’t notice.

      1. Kelly L.

        Oh! I once wore my shirt inside out to work. It was one of those where the tag info is printed on the shirt, so I didn’t notice.

    28. Bangs not Fringe

      My cup exploded cranberry juice all over a white linen shirt (and my desk)… my coworker found me in the bathroom in my undershirt rinsing it out in the sink. I didn’t want the stains to set in and lose the shirt.

      1. Alston

        I forgot my shirt once.. At home I’ve got a habit of just going around in my bra, and I pull a sweatshirt on if I have to go to the door or whatever. Was running late one day, threw on a heavy sweatshirt and winter coat and ran out the door. Outside was fine but my office was always roasting so I was stuck in my ratty sweatshirt all day trying not to die of a heat stroke.

        1. Angelfish

          I did something similar in elementary school, though I only realized it when I got home, took off my sweatshirt and saw I was still wearing my nightgown underneath.

        2. Sophiabrooks

          I forgot to wear bottoms once- I had a floor length down coat and got to work wearing tights, a turtleneck and sweater. Luckily, it was my weekend job doing theatre costumes, so I was actually able to find a skirt before my students got there!

    29. AndersonDarling

      I was returning with a tray of Starbucks and spilled them all on my full length georgette silk skirt. The fabric was thin so it was soaked through and was sticking to my legs. I was working in fashion development so I was able to get a pair of “damaged” pants to wear the rest of the day.
      Funny part was that I had ordered one of those mini juice jugs, so I still got to have my drink.

      1. Jill of All Trades

        So I had this co-irker once (Cersei) who came back from lunch with Shae laughing uncontrollably. They finally managed to tell me that when they were walking back in from lunch Shae noticed that Cersei’s skirt had ripped and said “oooh, girl, I can see your whole butt!”. I mentioned that I’d thought they were going to say that she’d tucked the skirt into her underwear. Cersei then goes to the ladies room and comes out – as she’s walking along the corridor a woman in payroll stopped her to tell her that she’d tucked her skirt into her underwear.

        She had the nerve to blame me because I’d “jinxed” her. I think that I would have been quadruple sure to check myself before leaving the restroom, and I only wish I had that much power to jinx someone. I wasn’t a fan of Cersei.

        1. Delyssia

          Wait, doesn’t everyone quadruple check anyway? I mean, you have the experience of tucking your skirt into your underwear once or twice, and then you swear it will NEVER HAPPEN AGAIN. I wear skirts/dresses 80% of the time at work (I wear jeans on Fridays), and when I’m leaving the restroom, if I can’t actually feel the skirt against the back of my legs (either because it flares out enough or because I’m wearing leggings or heavy tights), I will smooth my hands over the back of the skirt to make sure it’s where it should be.

          1. Jill of All Trades

            I’ve actually had a life-long paranoia about this, and there was one time that I forgot to quad check before leaving the stall, and I still found on the final door check, so I’ve never actually had the walk of show and tell. Cersei apparently never checked? She couldn’t have – I basically reminded her right before and she still didn’t check!

    30. Seal

      Not sure if this counts as a wardrobe malfunction per se, but definitely a malfunction at a work-related event. My reading glasses (the kind you get at the drug store) once fell apart 10 minutes before I was scheduled to do a presentation. Naturally I didn’t have a second pair and I couldn’t read my notes without them. Fortunately we were able to scrounge up a twist tie to secure the bow to the frame so I could wear them, albeit looking like a total geek.

      These days I either make sure I have a second pair of reading glasses with me, or print my notes with an 18 point font.

    31. Algae

      I was wearing heeled boots and indulging in my bad habit of leaning back on the heel part when one of the heels just snapped off and I fell over.

      I was talking the the Safety Coordinator at the time. He proceeded to lecture me on why wearing high heels is a bad idea.

      1. Elizabeth West

        I leaned back to stretch once while talking to an attractive guy at this one job and fell over backward. We ended up dating/living together for nearly five years. He never stopped teasing me about it, either. >_<

    32. MaryMary

      One of my bra straps broke. In lieu of spending the rest of the day being lopsided, I took a stapler to the ladies room and stapled by bra back together.

    33. Amanda

      Years ago I worked as a hostess/server in a restaurant. I was working as a hostess on what should have been a super slow day but we were slammed so I started waiting tables. Our hostess uniform was white button up shirt, black skirt. As I was trying to squeeze between the chairs and the booths behind them while collecting payments from a large unpleasant group of people my shirt snagged on a coat hook that was on the end of a booth, ripping the shirt wide open and causing all my buttons to pop off… I was scheduled to wait tables that night and had my server uniform at work with me, so I ran off to change and then finished dealing with the checks – the guests were jerks, they were mad that I had changed my shirt before giving them change for their bills and didn’t even tip. Ugh!

      1. Still So Anonymous

        Wow. I think everyone should be mandated to wait tables or be in some other heavily customer service oriented position when they start out in the work world. Maybe they wouldn’t treat service people so poorly. Some people are such jerks.

    34. LCL

      Driving to work one swingshift afternoon, I spilled a 12 ounce latte into my lap. The whole latte. Luckily I was able to stop at a department store and buy a pair of jeans and change. Unluckily I didn’t have any extra shirt or jacket with me so I didn’t have anything to tie around my waist so had to go into the store all soggy, in very faded denim the spot was obvious. The cashier didn’t make eye contact with me and I totally understand.

    35. Jen RO

      Sat on my dress and ripped off a strap. (One of my coworkers got a needle and thread from the cleaning lady and sewed it back on!)

    36. Colorado Girl

      My husband grows a little bit of weed (yay for Colorado and our progressive laws!) and I once went to work with part of a very recognizable leaf attached to the back of the sleeve of my sweater. I went at least a couple of hours before a friend pointed it out.

    37. Victoria, Please

      Not a single wardrobe malfunction story from a guy? Or are y’all just keeping quiet?

      –Long indian village style skirt, worn with snappy black sandals. Which broke. Leaving me having to wear *trainers* with little sockies all day. Frump. Tas. Tic.

      1. Kelly L.

        Their clothes are made better, I swear! If I didn’t have (specific figure traits redacted), I’d be all over the men’s department.

        1. Nashira

          Men’s wear does seem to genuinely be made better. I can wear both men’s and women’s clothing, and typically my men’s pants last longer. The shirts sure do – I have work-appropriate polos that are five years old, whereas I only have one woman’s shirt that I expect to last that long. It cost twice as much as the polos did.

      2. some1

        Once I saw a guy who had forgotten to take the designers label that comes on the sleeve of men’s sport coats

        1. GOG11

          Those are supposed to come off? I have a wool winter coat and I think it might still be on there… I’m not fancy enough for fanciness.

        2. Bangs not Fringe

          This is like when I see people who don’t cut the little stitches on their skirt’s kick pleat or their jacket’s vent. I want to help them.

          1. GOG11

            I remember to cut those because it’s hard to walk when those are intact. The tag doesn’t impact the function of the jacket, so I didn’t know why it wasn’t there if not for people to see it…I mean, really, why is it there?

            1. GOG11

              The question is rhetorical…I just realized that it might sound like I’m interrogating you, Bangs not Fringe, but that’s not my intention.

      3. Moss

        My husband has weekly wardrobe malfunctions. My favorite one has to be the time he was taking our baby to day care on his way to work. The baby hiccupped and vomited milk all over one shoulder, while almost at the same time a bird flying overhead crapped on his other shoulder. The day care staff thought it was hilarious.

        1. Jill of All Trades

          Good Lord! OK, I was totally laughing out loud at my desk. Poor guy. Maybe he should have bought a lottery ticket or something with odds like those?

      4. MaryMary

        One of my former managers got dressed in the dark one early morning and put on his wife’s pants instead of his. He’d been at work a while before he realized why his panta felt like they didn’t quite fit.

    38. Elizabeth West

      Once, at a newish job, I messed up and the gruff coworker whom it affected caught me on the way to the loo to scold me. I said I got it, thanks, please excuse me, and ran into the loo because I REALLY had to go. I was trying to hurry so I could go back out and fix the mistake, but when I turned on the faucet to wash my hands, the water sprayed out all over the crotch of my pants. UGH. I dried off as best I could but I still had to go back to my desk all damp. I’m sure everyone thought I actually peed myself.

      Another time, I upended a water bottle into my lap (same job) . At least my coworkers actually saw that one. :P

      1. Still So Anonymous

        I’m so in solidarity with you right now! I can’t go two hours without dumping most of my lunch and part of my drink all over myself.

    39. Merry and Bright

      Two come to mind:

      I wore odd shoes and didn’t notice until I was in the lift of my office building.

      The other one was where the strap of my shoe suddenly came apart. I ended up using the industrial stapler to fix it until I got home.

      Wherever I work I now always keep an emergency pair of black low-heel shoes in my desk or locker.

    40. BeaW

      Not me, but a co-worker’s dress was rumpled and bunched up in the back from sitting. She she stood up and was leaned over to work on something you could see her panties. My boss happened to be walking by and quietly adjusted the back of my co-worker’s dress then kept on walking. Not sure my co-worker was ever aware!

    41. TheExchequer

      You mean other than the time I didn’t realize my pants had split until I was home? How about the time I forgot to put on deodorant? Or the time I thought taking my shoes off in an office was perfectly acceptable even though it was hot and I was sweaty? (Gee, I wonder why that place didn’t hire me permanently). Cringing so hard now.

      1. GOG11

        I forgot deodorant one too many times and now I just keep a stick of deodorant in my desk.

        1. littlemoose

          I keep a travel-sized stick of deodorant in my work bag at all times, not just summer.

      2. Ad Astra

        I’ve forgotten to put on deodorant once or twice, and I’ve forgotten to brush my teeth once or twice, and I’m just grateful I didn’t forget both of those on the same day.

    42. zora

      I feel like I’ve had at least one that I’m blocking out because I just can’t think of one. But I did realize once when putting clothes in the closet, that a pencil skirt I had already worn to important work meetings a few times still had the vent stitched closed. And this after I’d commented several times on the internet about checking to make sure you’ve removed those stitches before wearing an item, and even pointed out the same thing to a colleague about their suit jacket. Felt like such a doofus.

      1. Anx

        I bought a new shirt before a recent interview and left the size sticker on it. It was a patterned shirt so i didn’t notice it at first. I had worn a cardigan anyway and checked my complete outfit too. There was also a downpour that day and i didn’t have an umbrella so my number 1 priority was staying dry.

        But i did wear that shirt after the interview on its on with the sticker on and didn’t notice either. Neither did my boyfriend

    43. louise

      I had a temp job covering for someone’s maternity leave when I was 23. One day the boss and I left to scope out some property the department was thinking of acquiring. When we returned, AFTER I walked past several dozen people, I realized the cute big buckle at the waist of my pants* had come undone and was hanging down and flapping with every step. I promise, it really was just a field trip and no hanky panky–but I always wondered if other people noticed and wondered what the boss was up to with the temp worker!

      *I never bought pants in the juniors’ section again. Too risky.

    44. Nashira

      I was eating a warm croissant filled with chocolate and frangipane, and it gooshed all down my front when I bit into it.

      Twice.

      1. OhNo

        I did that with a frosting-filled cupcake. Being the incorrigible person that I am, I immediately did what I would do at home: pulled the front of the shirt away from my body and licked the frosting off it.

        Yeah, my coworkers still tease me about that one. I’m pretty sure I’ll be hearing about it forever.

    45. Scotty_Smalls

      I worked in a freezing cold library and had worn a thin shirt and bra and forgot a cardigan. I didn’t notice the problem until midway through the shift. Luckily my boss always kept an extra cardigan that I was allowed to wear if it got too cold for me. The awkward thing is I was going to church right after work. Luckily they don’t keep the church that cold.

      1. Carmen Sandiego JD

        1) I had a pair of H&M shoes that got really worn b/c of a torrential downpour, the same day as an in-person interview. During my lunch break (had a gig at the time) my right shoe broke apart completely, edges/sole and I ran into CVS to stitch it up. (It stayed intact till post-interview, but didn’t get the job, unsurprisingly, lol)
        2) While crossing the street on a separate occasion, my flip-flop strap came completely undone and I was forced to use rubber bands to strap it together while lopping along luckily to a grocery store that sold stylish shoes…

        (I walk a lot in the city, which means most of my casual shoes are quite worn…)

        1. TootsNYC

          And that’s why NYers used to wear sneakers on the street. It’s faded out quite a bit since I first moved here.

          I once went barefoot when it was pouring, because I only had my good shoes and I didn’t want to ruin them.

    46. HR Noob

      Ugh, so many, all in my first job.

      Once I spilled coffee all over my white shirt before I even got to work. Took it off in the bathroom and washed it, then spent the rest of my day wearing a hoodie zipped all the way up while my shirt dried on the radiator. You know, like a classy adult.

      There was the time my thunder thighs ripped a giant hole in my pants. Thank God it was 4:30 pm and I had yoga pants in my bag.

      Worst of all was the time I forgot we had an event at the Supreme Court and showed up for work in a pink sweater and khakis. It would have been embarrassing enough if I’d been sent home to change, but my manager at the time let me work the first part of the event, had someone else send me home halfway through, and told me the next day that my outfit had been inappropriate.

    47. Amber T

      This literally happened two days ago… I found a very cute skirt in the back of my closet that I loved and had completely forgotten about after I moved – white with black and pink flowers. It’s a perfect, work appropriate length, and with a black blouse and cardigan it’s a very nice work outfit. Now, most of my unmentionables are very plain… black, white, beige, I don’t get fancy. But it’s nearing laundry day, and pickings are slim, so I went with the lime green undies I had once bought on a whim. Didn’t notice that you could see lime green (with black wording on the butt, no less!) through the white skirt until I was several hours into work, and by then, there was nothing I could do about it. No one has said anything to me, but that doesn’t mean nobody noticed…

      I have another longer skirt (passed the knees) that has a nude slip and a patterned sheer part over it. Still not quite how this physically works, but I managed to put in on inside out with the sheer part still over the nude slip. Luckily a coworker pointed it out to me early in the day before I saw too many people.

      I’ve walked out of the bathroom with my skirt tucked in my undies. Frantically I undid it in the (thankfully empty) hallway, but anyone who passed definitely got a preview of my junk in the trunk.

      Note to self: Stop wearing skirts!!

    48. Nerdling

      I had to think about this…

      Most recently, I went to the gym before work and realized, after working out, that the only shoes I had packed were the flip flops I wore in the shower. So I wore flip flops to work instead of nice dress shoes or my gross sneakers.

      Working in DC, I generally wore sneakers or flats to work and then switched into heels. This meant that I kept a lot of my good heels under my desk at the office. Which was all well and good until the day I had to go to a series of meetings that started about 6:30 in the morning at our main office across town. I was forced to break out my oldest but most beloved pair of black heels. Which of course broke on the way into the meeting. Once the meetings were over, I put on my sneakers to walk back to my office and sadly deposited my heels in a trash can somewhere along Pennsylvania Avenue.

    49. Liane

      I used to be a microbiology lab tech in the medical device industry. Part of my duties included going into the production areas to do sampling. These were bio-clean rooms, so you wore lab-style coats, booties, gloves & caps. With your hair under the cap.
      One day my supervisor, a very good & cool boss, came to me & said, “Someone told us that yesterday, part of your hair was out of your cap while you were sampling. So I have to talk to you about it and this is the talk.” Both Boss and I were of the opinion that it would have been much better for the products if someone had said, “Hey, Liane, your hair’s coming out of the cap – get to the gown room & fix it ASAP,” then reported it, if they really thought more than telling me was necessary.

    50. LawPancake

      My gel bra started leaking during a meeting with maybe 20+ department heads. I didn’t feel it at all but when I hit the restroom after the meeting there was a large wet circle on my blouse. Mortifying.

    51. Kiltie

      Not actually work-related, but I think it’s an amusing story anyway. In college, I was in the marching band – the quirky “Kiltie Band”, who wore kilts as part of the uniform. “The band without pants”, we called ourselves. My very first football game with them, as a freshman, was an away game, so naturally we had to bring all of our stuff with us. So I’m in the bus before the game, getting into my uniform… and I don’t have my kilt. I look everywhere. No kilt. I had assumed, when I grabbed my uniform, that all of the parts were on the same hanger. Not so. It’s my first game, and I’m kiltless. I had to go out on the field as the only member of the band without pants… wearing pants.

    52. Cath in Canada

      Nothing really big, but lots of small ones – I cycle to work and then shower and change, so I don’t put on the whole ensemble until I get here. I’ve had a few instances of boots that don’t match my trousers (I have 3 pairs of boots that are really similar except for the colour, and the light in my closet isn’t very good), and a few instances of bras that are unexpectedly visible under my shirt. But the worst was when I thought I’d brought my pale blue t-shirt with a lovely squid graphic on it, but had actually brought my pale blue t-shirt my friends made me for my hen night. It had my name, the date, a martini glass, and “end of an era” on it – could have been worse, but still not suitable for the office! I wore the t-shirt I’d cycled to work in for the first hour until a nearby clothing store opened at 10, then bought the first thing I found that fit me.

      Oh and once I accidentally wore a cords/boots combo that made me go “swoosh – click – swoosh – click” with every step. I have a hard enough time coordinating by colour, let alone by sound! :D

    53. Nervous Accountant

      I’m sure ther’es many over the years, but the most recent one:

      Bought this long maxi dress to wear during the summer. I wore it to work on a Friday and my bra was too lazy and thin and the AC was on and….yeah.
      I wore it the next day (on a Saturday) with a light sweater over, and better bra.
      Wore it the third day (yes I wore it 3 days in a row) to a friends picnic….by the end of the third day, in near darkness mind you, someone tells me that they could make out what kind of underwear I was wearing.

    54. Anx

      This isn’t so much of a malfunction, but I’ve taken my bra off twice at work.

      I was a restaurant server in an indoor/outdoor restaurant and I wore sports bras fairly often since they could be machine washed more easily and were genreally better for the job. Only problem is that I find them really tight, even larges, and i can’t keep scaling up because I am flat chested (but wide ribbed). Sometimes I’d have trouble breathing and have to take them off in the bathroom. Fortunately our shirts were thick and black (and I almost always had an undershirt).

    55. So Anonymous

      I borrowed a friend’s skirt suit to wear to an interview. The skirt was one of those with the little hook at the top of the zipper, and she was slightly smaller than me so I left that unclasped and just zipped it up. This was for a very male dominated public/civil service type of job, so faux pas #1, should have worn pants. Anyway, I fumbled my way thru the interview – insert bomb falling noise – and as one of the male interviewers was walking me back out to the reception area, I felt something sliding over my feet. He turned around to walk back, I looked down, and discovered my skirt On.The. Floor. Luckily the jacket was mid-thigh length, but this was almost 20 years ago and I still cringe.

    56. Catherine

      I have SO many of these stories, its ridiculous. How could I not reply to this?? A small sampling:

      Forgot to wear shoes to work. I guess I was having a super absent minded morning because I literally drove the entire way to work before I realized as I was getting it of the car that I had NO shoes on whatsoever.

      Buttoned the top clasp of my skirt and didn’t zip it. The person I was interviewing that morning alerted me to this fact as she was following me towards the office. I was wearing a bright pink thong. Oh god. (By the way, she got the job)

      Had my nipples pierced. They were still healing and I guess something snagged because one bled on my white blouse. Thank you for saving the day, work cardigan!

      Spilled hot chocolate everywhere. EVERYWHERE. As I was filling the cup with hot water, it splashed on my hand and burned me. I jumped, and the cup of hot chocolate went all over my hair, face, shirt, skirt, shoes. Had to go all the way home and shower + change.

      And the piece de resistance:

      Threw up all over myself. After I told my boss I was pregnant at lunch, he was beside himself worrying. On the way back (in his brand new expensive luxury car that he had just gotten that week) I kept asking him to pull over because I was sick but he was so wound up he didn’t really hear me. Threw up all over the car and myself as we were pulling into the executive parking deck, where all the executives had just returned from lunch and saw the whole thing. Boss wasn’t sure how to help so he gave me a shirt from the back seat to clean up with. His dirty workout shirt from that morning. This did not help and I threw up even more. Through my tears (yes! A tear-worthy moment!!) I told him I would get him a new shirt. He asked if I could just clean and return it because it was his lucky shirt he had had since college. 5 years later and this is still so, so deeply embarrassing!!

    57. Anonymousaur

      I may or may not have accidentally forgot to wear underwear once. And I do mean forgot – this was not intentional. I realized it halfway to the subway (which is a bit of a trek from my apartment), but I was running late and didn’t have time to run back home.

      1. Anonymousaur

        Oh, also…
        One time a knocked a 20oz open bottle of lemonade across the desk and all over myself and a coworker (and the floor). Got to spend the rest of the day sticky.

  6. Mr. Manners

    I’m looking for some etiquette support. I have a coworker in my small department (9 people) coming back next week from weight loss surgery and I want to make sure I handle it correctly. Demographics (which I feel are important in this situation): I’m a 31 year old gay male, she’s an early 50s woman. We are a pretty personal team but I feel weird commenting on her body by saying she looks great. Should I just stick with “welcome back, I hope you’re feeling well” and “we missed you around here?” Or because she had weight loss surgery am I an ass for not saying how great she looks (which is what I imagine the rest of my department will say but they’re all women)? Thanks for everybody’s help!

    1. Sadsack

      I think your suggestions are thoughtful and safe. You can gauge whether to say more based on her response.

    2. Persephone Mulberry

      Unless she’s been out for months, it’s unlikely there will be an immediately noticeable difference in her weight at this point anyway. Stick with “welcome back, we missed you.”

    3. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec

      I think you are on the right track there – I always try to avoid commenting on people’s bodies unless the context is there to say something very benign. For example, if they say “I’m doing well – I’m not as tired as I was last week” then you can say “Well, you look great and I’m glad you’re feeling better”.

      1. Erin

        +1

        I was trying to think of a way to say this. “You look great” should only be said if she prompts it in some way like in the above example. Otherwise I would stick to, “Welcome back, you were missed around here.”

    4. Ambee

      I hope it’s ok to link to other advice columnists here. This comment discussion might help you. http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/style/wp/2015/03/27/hax-philes-losing-weight-gaining-attention/

      My reaction would depend on how close I am to the person. If we’re friends and she’s talked about the surgery a lot, I’d ask her how she’s doing and say “I’m so glad you’re feeling great!” or “I’m so glad you’re happy with the results” or whatever is appropriate. If she talked about her appearance a lot I’d probably add “you look wonderful.”

      If she’s a casual co-worker that I didn’t interact with much, I wouldn’t mention it unless she brought it up and then I’d take my cues from her attitude. “Welcome back,” or “You were missed around here!” sound like considerate things to say.

      1. Mr. Manners

        I interact with her fairly often but I’m definitely the least close with her compared to everyone else in my department. I feel like she’d want the compliments but I am going to play it safe.

    5. Ad Astra

      I say focus your comments on how glad you are to have her back, and maybe ask how she’s feeling. If it were me, I’d resent comments about my appearance after bariatric surgery because the surgery is meant to improve my health, not my appearance, and coworkers are the last people I’d want evaluating how my body looks. Your coworker might or might not feel the way I do, but she will certainly appreciate your concern for her health and excitement about her return.

    6. ella

      I’m a woman, though not a very overweight one. Personally, I would prefer things in the realm of hope you’re well/we missed you. If you notice an attitude change, I think observations that she seems happier (if that’s true) are okay too. IF you gave her compliments on her appearance before her surgery then I think you can continue to do so, but I think to say she looks great now if you never said it before has the potential for implying that she didn’t look great before (she may hear it that way, even if you don’t mean it that way). I have an acquaintance who recently lost over 100 lbs and I try to keep my comments on his attitude and perceived happiness, because it’s really all one and the same to me if he weighs 200 lbs or 350.

      FWIW, I would prefer my female co-workers not comment on my appearance either, but that’s me. I dunno if that helps?

    7. oldfashionedlovesong

      I think either or both of your ideas are your best option. They’re kind things to say and cross no boundaries. The rest of the women might comment on the weight loss, and that may or may not be okay with her, but I think you’re on the money that it might feel different coming from a man.

      As a fat person, generally speaking, if I want to discuss my weight or weight loss with someone, I prefer to be the one to bring it up in all cases– whether that’s with men, women, coworkers, family, etc. So if she does mention it to you (I can’t really fathom how, but it’s possible she might say, like, “So, Mr. Manners, how do I look?!”) then feel free to say she looks great! But otherwise steer clear.

    8. Chrissi

      I’ve been in the position of having been very overweight and losing a lot of weight (over about a year), and while I did appreciate the compliments from a couple of coworkers (usually coworkers that had struggled w/ weight as well), I would have been weirded out if everyone commented on it. And, I didn’t really feel this way, but I’ve heard from other people in this situation that sometimes you can’t help but think on the reverse of “oh you look great”, which is, “are you saying I looked bad before?” or something like that. I think it’s safer to just tell her it’s great to have her back.

    9. Sunflower

      I’d focus on the first two. I’d refrain from saying anything about her body today or anytime in the future. It’s just super awkward for everyone. I totally get where you’re coming from but I wouldn’t mention her body unless she brings it up.

    10. Liz

      My first day at my current job also happened to be the same day another person returned from an extended leave after weight loss surgery. Everyone was very open about the change, and he was more than willing to discuss the process/changes/etc.

      Before I started there was some reorganization but I believe his team and mine worked on the same floor and were really close.

      I would wait and see how she presents the situation. If it is something she invites on her own, then don’t feel weird about it. But if she seems to skirt the subject with others, then forget it even happened

    11. Honeybee

      Yeah, I agree with everyone else about not commenting on her body at all – just say “Welcome back!”

      Also…she might not look different right away. Weight loss surgery often takes time to make a discernible difference in people’s appearance. (Not that it matters anyway.)

    12. TootsNYC

      Well, “you look great” doesn’t have to mean weight. It can mean, “you look energetic and rested.”

      But I think avoiding a comment on her body is probably best.
      If you know her well, you could ask her: “Did you want us to comment on weight loss as you go along?”
      I once didn’t mention anything to my SisInLaw about her breast-reduction surgery, and she mentioned that I hadn’t mentioned. I had to tell her that she looked exactly the same to me–I never thought of her as being particularly big breasted, and that she matched my mental picture of her. And that I wasn’t sure I should comment anyway.

    13. Not So NewReader

      “Glad you’re back, we missed you!” Works for all kinds of situations. I had a cohort who lost a family member. The whole story was NOT GOOD, so she clearly stated she wanted NO mention of it. I went with the “glad your back” stuff and her face softened into a small smile. The conversation flowed quite easily from there on.

  7. Sad & Remote

    About trying to improve loneliness and disconnectedness when you’re a remote employee…..

    I started 1.5 yrs ago at my company, on “Team A” as a support person for the only other person in my territory, who was on “Team B”. This colleague left abruptly a few months ago during our busiest season, so I assumed most of his Team B duties as well. Since that time, I have been looped into Team B meetings and I’ve been in a weird limbo where I don’t seem to be fully on either team.
    The problem is that I have no consistent, meaningful interaction with my other coworkers. Our company office and all other employees are on the opposite coast. I was pretty close with my Team A coworkers, but their number is dwindling (only 1-2 other members on that team). My new team B members are more numerous and closer in age to me, so I thought I would fit in pretty well with the group. However, they come off as cliqueish. I don’t think they dislike me; it seems to be more a case of 1) some of them knew each other before or 2) sheer proximity (they either work together at HQ or if remote, see each other much more often at meetings), or 3) they still think of me as a Team A member.
    At in-person meetings, our company schedules a lot of group dinners, activities, etc. However, Team B members will often go out afterwards or hang out together and I’m rarely invited along. They also talk and text a lot amongst themselves. Occasionally I’ll send a text just to reach out or share something funny/interesting/helpful, but the response will be a simple reply and that’s it.
    Unfortunately, communication isn’t that great at our company, and I’m usually the last person to hear about stuff. A few months ago, we were all asked to provide our birthdays and mailing addresses. My birthday (last month) passed with no acknowledgment. That was fine, but it stung when we were notified of another team member’s birthday last week and asked to all wish her a happy birthday. In the past, I’ve also mailed birthday cards to coworkers if I knew their birthday.
    This situation wouldn’t be such a problem if I didn’t have such a poor support system at home. Due to work/travel schedules, my husband and I are ships passing in the night. I’m a transplant to a rural area where it’s hard to find friends, join meetup groups, etc. and I’m very far from my family and old friends. Never having worked alone, I never realized I was an extrovert until this job. I love what I do, but the loneliness is killing me. I’m on the road by myself all the time and often I’ll sit in my truck and cry.
    I’ve told some of my coworkers about being lonely out here, but the response is either 5 seconds of lip service (“Awwww….”) or unhelpful remarks (“I’d *love* to not have people bugging me all the time!”) If I complain about this too much, I fear I’ll come across as a whiner or unable to handle this job. Finding a new job is not an option. I’m currently seeing a therapist but it’s very difficult to get appointments. Any other ideas?

    1. Christy

      Make new friends in the area. Find meet ups that you can join. Call your family or old friends while you drive for work. Find a new therapist with more appointments. Volunteer (at a school?) so you get more human interaction.

      Just brainstorming, sorry I’m so abrupt.

    2. Lizabeth

      Check out the local library to see if they have programs you might find interesting or at least have a local event bulletin board.

    3. Sunflower

      I agree to focus on finding friendships or activities outside of work. Try meet-ups or local websites to see what’s going on in your area when you are home or whatever area you’re traveling to. I’ve recently started listening to podcasts in my car and it’s totally changed my commute. That and books on tape can help me feel not so lonely when I’m alone.

      1. Shannon

        If there aren’t any meetups in your area start one.

        I’ve had long stretches as a housewife, so I understand where you’re coming from. Here are some things that I’ve done at various times and have worked for me:

        – taking a class at the local community college (if not too far away)
        – volunteering
        – physical fitness classes at the YMCA/ martial arts classes
        – book clubs at the public library
        – knitting/ embroidery/ sewing circle
        – bowling on a league (either with my husband when I could coerce him into making time for it or by myself)
        – does your community have a department of parks and recreation?
        – throwing a block party
        – I’m really hesitant to throw this out there, but, there’s always church. I’ve known people who went to church for the socialization aspect more than the religion.

        Since you’re in a rural area, you may have to take the lead in setting some of these things up. Honestly, though, for any interest you have, you can probably wrangle together a few other like minded people.

        The real problem is that it sounds like this job isn’t a good fit for you or your family. Would it be possible to investigate other jobs?

    4. LJL

      I also work remotely, so I get it, and I’m a transplant to the area where I live now. It is work to meet other people. Absolutely. Here are some things that have worked for me and my brother (when he was relocating to another area…not same as mine):
      1. Join professional organizations in the area like Rotary or Kiwanis. Many of them are announced in the newspapers, and even the smallest/most rural areas have some kind of civic group.
      2. Join a church or attend regularly. it’s very nice to have someone say “good to see you again,” even if you don’t know the person’s name. If you want to volunteer, this can also provide you with avenues to do that.
      3. Volunteer.
      4. Join groups of local interest. For me it’s a book club, for my brother, adult kickball. Look on Facebook to see if there are any advertised.
      5. Make an effort to stay in regular touch with friends and family virtually. My BFF and I used to do “lunch dates” over the phone: we’d each get lunch, then call each other on speaker phone.

      I hope these help. If you’re depressed, I know that it can be a hell of a lot of effort to do that. If you’re trying to do something on the list and it’s seeming hard, make a deal with yourself that you will get a reward after you do it.

      Also, you can check out this book: Feeling Good, the New Mood Therapy. Simple, basic, but it really helps.

    5. Sad & Remote

      Thank you for the suggestions. You all are right, it would be best to focus on cultivating friendships in my own area. There is a swing dancing club I’ve been meaning to check out, and this sounds like a good time to do it!

      1. Shannon

        Don’t get too frustrated if your first attempt at doing something out of the house doesn’t net friends right off the bat. Just keep on trucking!

        1. Chocolate Teapot

          I have taken up Swingdance/Lindy Hop and can report it’s an excellent way of meeting people.

      2. Christy

        Oh, and IDK if this is up your alley, but I’ve made a friend through Weight Watchers. If it’s something you might join anyway, it could be a good way to meet people (and to, if nothing else, interact with the same people every week).

      3. The IT Manager

        Yes! I think it’s a change, but as a remote employee you can’t expect to form real friendships and a support structure with your remote co-workers. Maybe you’ll really click with someone, but working remotely removes a lot of possibility for small talk and getting to know each other.

        It’s tough. I just moved. I play adult sports and immediately joined a league, but it took several months before I realized that I needed to look on Meet-up and Facebook for other social groups to join. It’ll be even tougher for you in a rural community, but I think you need to look for friendships with people you can see face to face.

    6. WorkingFromCafeInCA

      I’m in the sad & lonely remote worker for 2 years club. Everyone at my company works remotely; no one is in my city. What about an AAM work-from-home chat group? Didn’t someone start one once? I’d just love more people to share my random thoughts with, or “hey I found this cool thing in Excel” or “Gah! Printers are the worst!” or “Quick puppy-gif break!” kind of stuff…

    7. Dynamic Beige

      I would also suggest that if you drive a lot for your job, make a CD/MP3 playlist of all your favourite songs that never fail to put a smile on your face/car dance in your seat/that you love to sing along to. Or, use the time to listen to audiobooks/podcasts.

      With regards to your coworkers who seem very clique-y, have you asked them for suggestions? I mean, you’re new to the area, you don’t know what’s going on. You could try starting some conversations with them along the lines of “it’s my anniversary coming up and I’d like to go out for a nice dinner. Can you make a recommendation? How about Jane? Would she know of anywhere?” Even if you don’t go for your anniversary, go to one of their suggestions alone if you have to, then come back and report. “Thanks for suggesting Wakeen’s Roadhouse. They had great ribs! I’ve really been hankering after some good [food type here]. Do you know any place locally that does that?” Unfortunately, it’s not kindergarten any more and if you want to get to know your coworkers better, you’re going to have to not take it personally and drip, drip, drip, like erosion to wear them down. You think they’re clique-y or see you as a Team A person, but maybe you haven’t been as friendly and welcoming to them as you think you have been. Or that you resent them because you’ve lost all your “better” Team A members.

  8. ACA

    I mentioned the other week that I’d received the most encouraging rejection letter ever from a job that I’d been runner-up for. This week, they contacted me again to say that the person they’d hired had received a better counter-offer and decided to stay at her current job…and was I still interested in the position? Why yes, yes I was.

    Unfortunately, company policy requires that they talk to my current supervisor in addition to any other references, but they graciously offered to hold off on contacting him until I’d had a chance to tell him myself. So yesterday morning I got to have an awkward chat with my boss (it went a lot better than expected), and yesterday afternoon I got to anxiously stare at the light on his extension while he spent 30 minutes on the phone with the hiring manager.

    This morning the hiring manager emailed me to let me know the next steps – and assuming that HR doesn’t drag their feet too much, it looks like they could be making me an offer by the end of next week.

    I think this might actually be happening.

    1. CoffeeLover

      That’s super exciting. Congratulations! They sound like a good company to work for and I hope the rest of the process goes smoothly for you.

  9. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec

    I need some tips. I have a new employee who has Aspergers, and I’d like to hear from people with Aspergers about great managers you’ve had. What did they do well? What worked for you? What did they do that didn’t work?

    I have a long-time close friend with Aspergers, but enjoying someone’s company and managing performance aren’t all that similar.

    1. Barbara in Swampeast

      While there may be some general tips people would have, I want to point out that people with Aspergers are individuals also and what bothers one person may not bother another, so sit down and have a conversation with the employee. Ask if she has any preferences for how to communicate with her, in person or email. Ask if her workstation is satisfactory – light, sounds. I would also ask “What one thing do you want me to understand about you?” Let the employee tell you what she needs.

      1. GOG11

        “Let the employee tell you what she needs.” +1

        If the conversation you’re preparing for is specifically for mapping out accommodations, I think it’s more appropriate to bring up potential problem areas than if it were a more general conversation, but I still think it’s best to let the employee tell you what she needs and then be as open and accommodating as you can.

      2. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec

        Of course. I’m actually interested in individual people’s experiences. This person is completely new to working (very young), and is not a great source of information on how they can best be managed. Hoping to speed up my learning curve a bit :-).

    2. Mints

      I think a lot of my advice is to approach it with good management in general. Being kind, direct, clear expectations, flexible. My preferences might be affected by Aspergers, but you / my manager wouldn’t know until we work together for a little while. I think what I look for in a manager overlaps with most of the content on this site. I’m not “out” at work, so the things I ask for or talk about are really specific (I might say something like “I tend not to be really emotive” or “I’m weird about fabrics, and I hate this chair, sorry”)

    3. AndersonDarling

      As Barbara said, everyone is different, but I can tell you what I have difficulties with.
      1. Being trained in a process but then being told that that “we really don’t do it that way.” I live in a very truthful world, so I feel like someone was lying to me if they trained me wrong. Drives me crazy! I need to be trained correctly the first time, and any variances need to be explained up front.
      2. Be straightforward. If feedback is being cushioned, I really don’t pick it up.
      3. It took me a long time to adjust to my co-workers’ humor and figure out who was being mean and who was being funny. Sometimes I guess in the wrong direction.
      That being said, no one knows I have Aspergers, these are things I just had to observe and understand that the world doesn’t think the same way I do. :)

      1. AndersonDarling

        Oh yeah… I can’t lie. I figure that at some point I will need to tell my manager that so I’m not put in a situation where I need to bend the truth or embellish it.

      2. Tau

        Oh yeah, +1 on the not being able to lie.

        And I’m having similar problems with training right now – our materials seem to be slightly out of date, so sometimes they’ll say to do things X way and then my trainer comes along and says no, we do this Y way now. Or sometimes it’s a “sure, *on paper* we do it this way but in practice what actually happens is this.” Drives me bonkers.

        (I’m curious to see what people’s experiences with disclosing/not disclosing are! I haven’t disclosed, but I’m thinking about it.)

    4. AnnieNonymous

      Hmmm, what kind of work is this employee doing? I’ve heard Aspergers being defined as an inability to read social cues, and I’ve seen that to be true, generally speaking. I would be mindful of how this employee is able to accomplish customer interactions (both in person and on the phone) – there may be issues that cannot be solved with training, and the role might have to be reconfigured a bit. Even email can be difficult sometimes, as people with Aspergers sometimes have trouble gleaning meaning from figurative language/quirks from other dialects/sarcasm.

      Aspergers diagnoses are incredibly common these days, and I’ve worked with a few people who are on the spectrum. It’s never been a huge problem, but managers need to be on the ball. I had a coworker with Aspergers disrupt and inadvertently completely derail an important meeting (in our open-plan office, natch), because he didn’t understand the cue to be quiet about sensitive business details, and my boss hadn’t anticipated that my coworker would chime up to “correct mistakes.”

      By no means should you treat this person like a child, but you need to be really direct and clear in your directives. Read through past AAM posts about bosses who phrase directions as suggestions for more tips on communicating in ways that will be interpreted properly.

      1. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec

        Doing very basic clerical work. We have learned that sometimes a script is needed, vs. general guidance about how to handle something. That’s tough for me, because I’m used to giving higher-level, concept-based feedback, ie, explaining what the goal and what standards should be met is vs. explaining exactly how the task should be accomplished step by step.

        1. AnnieNonymous

          A very common trait of Aspergers is the tendency to get bogged down by details. I’ve seen it described as “someone who could tell you the name of every single part of a camera made in 1927, despite having no interest in photography.” As you give your step-by-step directions, it would probably be really helpful if you were very clear about how tasks rank in terms of priority.

        2. catsAreCool

          When I’ve run into issues with unclear directions or contradicting directions, I write up what I know (including the items that contradict each other) and ask someone to look over it and let me know how to fix it. I don’t think I’m on the spectrum though. I do want to get things right.

          In this case, if you don’t have clear written directions, this may be the perfect time for you and the new employee to make the directions better. Maybe you start by explaining things and giving the person documentation you have, then the new employee can go over the data and put things into a format that works for someone who wants things very exact. Then you can go over it and fix anything that needs to be corrected.

    5. AnotherFed

      Consistency is very important, so it’s important to be clear and specific when giving feedback (whether planned or just basic reactions) – it’s confusing to everyone when a manager says X but only sort of holds people to it, but especially so to people with Aspergers and new to the workforce.

      If the task has multiple ways it could go, it’s very helpful to build an “if this, then do that” chart to show what steps to do, not train the task one way and just mention that there’s exceptions X, Y, and Z.

    6. Tau

      I don’t have much to add – just started my first job and haven’t disclosed – but one thing I want to point out which a lot of people forget is that Asperger’s is more than just the social stuff. Something that may crop up, for instance, is sensory issues. Your employee might need a quieter workspace or can’t handle fluorescent lighting or the like, and that kind of need is not to be taken lightly.

      I’d also be curious to know if anyone has had a manager whose style helped in some way with difficulties prioritising and other such executive function-related issues. Those are some of my biggest problems, but I’ve failed to think of any way in which a workplace could help so I’m planning to grit my teeth and muddle through on my own.

  10. Gandalf the Nude

    Without getting too specific, here’s a “fun” thing that’s going on at my office. A manager, Art, came to me (HR) with evidence that he’d caught his employee, Rachel, in a pretty elaborate lie that included impersonating Art. After talking it over with me and a couple other people, he went back to Rachel to give him a chance to come clean. But Rachel says she didn’t do it, and Art gets the impression she’s being truthful. It’s entirely plausible that Rachel’s being framed by one of her employees. Raylan and Rachel do not get along, but his work is solid and he’s protected by Art, who worked with him previously. Tim, as far as we know, doesn’t have a reason to want Rachel to get in trouble but would have benefited from the content of the lie. Then there’s Ava, who was recently fired but wouldn’t have enough information to form the lie unless she’d kept in contact with one of the current employees. Oh, and we have to make sure that Rachel herself isn’t framing someone else, particularly given her relationship with Raylan. So, now we have to figure out who it was and discipline them. Oh, and my boss and all the other folks above Art are out of the office until next week. Fun, right?!

      1. HeyNonnyNonny

        +1 this was my thought too! I’m imagining Tim Curry running around the office gathering clues.

    1. Jill of All Trades

      What was the impersonation? What was the lie? If Art came to you saying he’d caught Rachel in this lie, how is it he now believes she didn’t do it? Was she caught or not? Could Art actually be the trouble maker here?

      1. Gandalf the Nude

        I don’t want to get any more specific since the investigation is ongoing and I don’t know who in my office reads this (I know I’ve recommended AAM to my boss and to Raylan), but I’ll be happy to get more specific once it’s resolved. It is the kind of thing that would be very obvious and was very easy to spot, though, but also very easy to fake. I had actually wondered whether Art could be the perpetrator, but I hadn’t gotten the impression that they were terribly misaligned, though I’m not always privy to that kind of thing. I think we’ve got a good game plan, though. I just wanted to pass the nuts.

        That everyone is a suspect, though, does say some rather troubling things about the dynamics of the department.

      2. some1

        I have the same questions. If we’re talking about impersonating Art by email, how could a former employee have done it?

    2. LPBB

      I have no advice, but great choice of names! For once, someone picked a TV show I’m actually familiar with!

    3. fposte

      If this is via email or other computer communication, can’t they identify the computer and who was logged in? Or pull the metadata from the text document?

    4. CoffeeLover

      It’s the kind of thing you would expect to see on a work-life reality TV show. I hope you find some time to enjoy the drama.

  11. Gwen

    How do you deal with a coworker who is 100% committed to championing a tool that you hate? Her support of it doesn’t necessarily affect my work (my manager supported me in switching to a different tool for at least one portion of the project), but I’m having a difficult time figuring out how to respond when she starts insisting that the tool she likes could have done anything I wanted when, obviously, the reason I switched was because that wasn’t so. I don’t want to make an enemy, but I’m also sick to death of hearing about it.

    1. Charlotte Collins

      I’d just redirect the conversation. There’s got to be something else work-related that you could discuss.

      I have found that “not robust enough” or “doesn’t do exactly what I need” then moving on to other things has helped. (I’ve had to justify not using a tool that didn’t do what I wanted, too. I’d rather use my old, clunky tools that I know the workarounds for than get something shiny and new that creates the need for shiny new workarounds – when I still need to use my old tools for certain things. I wish more management would actually pay attention when their staff tells them what they need in a tool…)

    2. CoffeeLover

      I think instead of arguing over which tool is better, you should just say you prefer this tool for you and leave it at that. Don’t get into debates with her.
      Her: “X is so much better and can do all the stuff you want, blah blah.”
      You: “I’m happy you found a tool that works for you. I gave it a good try but I found Y works better for me, so I plan to stick with it.”
      Her: “But X is blah blah”
      You: “I have a personal preference for Y”
      Etc.

    3. Lefty

      I would address it quickly and change the subject- something like, “Thanks for your input but I’m really happy with ________ for this. Have you been outside yet? I wonder if I need my sweater when I leave for lunch.” Maybe if you need something firmer, “I know you prefer ______; since Manager and I are happy with _______, I’ll stick to that, thanks.”

    4. JenGray

      I would use some of the language already posted but also after you have had that conversation with her & she brings it up again just say to her that you have already discussed why you using X and won’t discuss it anymore. I have found that sometimes people don’t fully understand what you are doing so will be convinced (even after you telling them otherwise) that something will work for you when it won’t. It annoying and at a certain point you just have to be firm.

    5. Not So NewReader

      You could try saying something like, “Yes, Marisa, you’ve told me how much you like this tool,” with a little smile on your face but a tone of finality in your voice.

      You could try saying something like, “I really don’t want to talk about Tool everyday, can we find other things to talk about?”

      Or you may have to just drop the hammer. “Marisa, Boss okayed my changing to This Here because of difficulties with Tool. It’s a long and involved story. I won’t be switching back to Tool. I would really appreciate if we could stop discussing Tool and find other things to talk about.”

  12. Biglaw Stormtrooper

    I am, as my username indicates, in Biglaw–I’m a second-year litigation at a large firm in the northeast US. I need to do a couple more years because of loans, but after that I’m interested in transitioning into government (my magical unicorn job right now is one with solid pay and benefits, but one where I’m not constantly on call). Does anyone have advice on that transition? Or other exit options that I might not have thought of (I feel like there’s less variety on the litigation side than the transactional one)? Any advice or anecdotes would be much appreciated. :-)

    1. kozinskey

      I have no advice that’s actually of value, but as a government atty I thought it was hilarious when we had a new hire from Biglaw and he was shocked that he had to buy his own tissues =D

    2. PurpleMonkeyDishwasher

      Look up your “dream” government job now, and figure out what your qualifications will need to be to get you into (i.e., you’re not going to go work for the SEC without significant meaningful securities experience). Then do whatever you can do to maneuver yourself into a position where you’re gaining the necessary skills. Good luck!

      1. Lucky

        Yes, this, and then network your butt off. Find the people who are doing your unicorn dream job now, the attorneys who are 4-7 years out, and ask them what to do. Since you’re Biglaw, also hit up your firm’s alumni who escaped.

    3. cv

      IANAL, but I am married to one and have many lawyer friends. I’d say to stay in touch with classmates from law school and other associates who leave your firm (and there are a lot of associates who leave Biglaw firms in years 3-5), because people end up all over the place and you’ll want those contacts. Straight-up networking isn’t usually the way in to a federal job the way it is with the private sector, but having people to talk to about which jobs need which skills, who’s hiring, what sorts of things to emphasize in your application, etc., is really valuable in any job search, especially given that government hiring processes are often really different than what you’ve probably dealt with before. You may end up deciding that a smaller firm is what you want since some of them have better hours and a more emotionally satisfying client base, or that you’re interested in regulatory work rather than straight-up litigation if you do go into government, or that you want to go in-house in the private sector (I realize that in-house litigation jobs are scarce, but they do exist). Knowing people who are doing those things or knowing people who know people doing those things will be a huge help.

      Your geography will affect your search, for sure. If you want to do litigation in many federal agencies, trial work is done in the regional field offices and appellate work is mostly out of DC. Whether you’re in a state capital will matter, too.

    4. TNTT

      I did this transition about a year ago after 4 years in BigLaw. The above advice is good, but the biggest thing I can tell you is to avoid the golden handcuffs at all costs. You will take a SIGNIFICANT paycut, even if you get to “solid pay and benefits.” If you’re talking about leaving as a 4th/5th year, you could be making 50% of your salary or even less. Make that part of the transition as easy as possible by (1) throwing all your BigLaw dollars at your loans and (2) saving the rest.

      Don’t buy a car, don’t buy a house, don’t start buying ridiculous bespoke suits. Keep your eye on the unicorn job prize, your qualifications will get you there, and you’ll be happy once you’re there too!

      1. Nerdling

        This is very very very true. One of my coworkers did all of the things that TNTT said not to do (minus the suits) before taking a massive paycut to transition to a new job role and work for us. It has left them at a point where ever buying a house again may not be financially feasible.

        Also, be aware that the hiring process for many government agencies can take ages. Relocation might be necessary. See if you can get to know some Assistant US Attorneys if there are any in your area. They can tell you a lot about how the system works if you’re interested in working for DOJ. And definitely network your butt off; it can help you get a better idea of which agencies you might want to work for and which you definitely wouldn’t.

    5. Anon Lawyer

      One other option — consider going to a smaller or mid-size firm that largely works with government. This obviously depends heavily on where you live, but I started at BigLaw and eventually made my way to a shop that focuses on governmental contracting and litigation. I am far from 24/7 because my clients all go home at 5 (or earlier!). It will be helpful to you if you can try to pick up cases with a governmental angle (FOIA, regulatory, etc.). Some firms will also transition litigators with specific skill sets to contracting (such as turning construction defect litigators into construction contract negotiators). I do agree with the other suggestions as well.

    6. Honeybee

      I don’t, but I will say that I do love your username.

      Well, I guess I do – but it’s the more general advice that since you know you have a couple more years, now is a good time to start expanding your network in government law. I’m assuming that you are in or nearby a large city since BigLaw firms don’t tend to be out in the sticks, and in that large city are probably some professional groups for lawyers. Maybe join some and try to meet some lawyers who have made that transition. Also contacting the alumni association (of law school but also maybe undergrad) and seeing whether friends or classmates have gone into government law and picking their brains.

      Also, is there the possibility of doing some pro bono or consulting work with government firms? Not that your life probably isn’t crazy enough, but do those opportunities exist at your firm?

  13. SerfinUSA

    Does anyone use Access, and can recommend some good free online tutorials/resources for building a database from scratch?
    I am hoping to track instructors and the courses they teach per quarter, plus park email and other communications on a tab somewhere so I have a pixel trail all in one spot. I need stuff on table relationships, primary/foreign keys, forms & subforms.
    Ugh!

    1. Hermione

      Lynda [dot] com has always been my go-to place for learning new software. They have a monthly subscription, but usually have a free 30 day trial that would let you learn Access quickly and then cancel.

      1. SerfinUSA

        That sounds like a great option. I’ll check out their trial and see what I can pick up in 10 days.

        1. Bibliovore

          Check your local library, too. More and more public libraries are offering free access to Lynda.com for cardholders!

    2. Barbara in Swampeast

      Serfin,
      I LOVE doing schemas (figuring out the tables and primary/foreign keys) and will do that for you for free, plus explain what I did. You will just need to figure out forms, queries, and reports. You can use the contact form on my website (click on my user name).

    3. Career Counselorette

      You can also check out gcflearnfree.org. They have really good learning modules for every version of every Microsoft Office program, all for free.

    4. cv

      I learned Access in part by getting an instruction manual in hard copy – I think my company paid for it, but a library copy would have worked fine, too. Sitting down and reading a couple of chapters on exactly how a relational database is supposed to organize information really helped.

    5. JenGray

      I just discovered this today: GFClearnfree.org. It’s completely free and offers training on most Microsoft Office products including Access.

  14. Midge

    How do you deal with coworkers who are moms who make everything about them being a mom? (I haven’t seen the same thing withy dads, but maybe it exists.) Like asking, “Jane are you going to Lucinda’s going away party (during work hours)?” And Jane replies that it’s so hard to find time for stuff like that when your a mom. Or if she makes a mistake with a customer and you ask her to do something differently next time, and she replies, “I can’t believe as a mom I even did something like that!”

    It’s driving me bonkers.

    1. Muriel Heslop

      I’m a mom with small kids and that drives me bonkers, too! When I encounter that, I just ignore it.

    2. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec

      This might not be all that nice, but I sometimes say “yeah, we all have a things going on in our lives that make us busy. It’s hard to prioritize sometimes.”

      1. GOG11

        If this is delivered in a sympathetic tone (that doesn’t come across as mocking), I don’t think it would come over as rude, snarky, mean, or un-nice. I think that would actually work.

          1. GOG11

            I think you’d probably have to change the subject right after, too, to something work-related. If you just leave it at Ashley’s suggested reply, she might go on about how it IS so hard to prioritize, exhibits A-E included.

            I’m not a parent, but I definitely have rambling moments when I talk about things I’m passionate about and it would work on me at least.

        1. Honeybee

          I agree with that! I actually usually do express some sympathy for their struggle and then follow with a line like this.

        2. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec

          I agree. I’m good at neutral/sympathetic, so I don’t tend to get a bad response. I say it might not be nice because it’s not really…tuning into the other person’s experience – which is the polite thing to do. But if you are trying to shut this down, then I think that pointing out that she’s not the only one with responsibilities and pressures is perfectly reasonable.

      2. Ad Astra

        In the right tone, this would be perfect. You just have to make it sound like you’re commiserating rather than arguing.

    3. Mockingjay

      You can only ignore her.

      The “Martyr Mom” will always win, no matter what you say. She’s just a variation of the office Topper.

      (If you really need an outlet, post pertinent Dilbert cartoons around the office. She won’t get that they’re about her.)

      1. CoffeeLover

        That’s funny and accurate. We should create a wikipedia page for people you find in the office. “Martyr Mom” and “Topper” would make great first entries.

      2. Chrissi

        There’s a blogger on Mommyish, Blair Koenig, that calls it Mommyjacking – i.e. hijacking every conversation w/ a mommy story. I love that phrase.

          1. afiendishthingy

            I assume it’s what I call the One-Upper. If you say you’re tired, they say they haven’t gotten more than 2 hours of sleep all week. If you’re busy, they were at work til 9 last night and then came home and made 25 costumes for their kid’s school play. If you have a paper cut, they have a story about being stabbed with a samurai sword.

    4. ElCee

      Just start your own version. “As a khaki-wearing angelfish, I am sure hoping those TPS reports come in!”

    5. SerfinUSA

      Wow. Sounds like being a mom takes up a lot of CPU. Hopefully you can shut down some other apps to free up more processing power.

    6. nona

      Ignore. It is really annoying but I haven’t found anything that stops it.

      I was the only non-parent working in a store once. Good times.

    7. Anonicorn

      Maybe start relating your experience with pet ownership.

      “I hear you; my dog needs so much attention. As a dog owner, it’s difficult to stay away from home even during normal working hours.”

      1. Mints

        I’ve done this. Two coworkers were going on and on about their kids (like at least half an hour, going on a whole hour) and I said to another coworker, “Cersei, how are your cats doing?” She kind of snickered because she saw what I was doing but we ended up sharing a few funny stories. It was great. Especially when we realized her cats were older than the kids haha

        Oh, if you’re going to be extra snarky:
        “I feel you. As a fish owner, it’s hard to get away for more than a few hours”

          1. Mints

            +1
            I was thinking plants, but couldn’t think of something funny. Orchids work because they ARE difficult!

        1. afiendishthingy

          I sent out a report full of grammatical errors? I can’t believe, as a knitter, I did that!

          Sorry I can’t stay late tonight. When you’re a popular fanfiction writer, your priorities are just different.

      1. GOG11

        I’m not a parent, and I’m not a fan of children, but for some reason, It’s Like They Know Us makes me laugh so hard I snort. I do enjoy STFU parents, but nothing is funnier to me than ILTKU. Doubt it will help when you’re annoyed at a parent, but I wanted to share nonetheless.

    8. pony tailed wonder

      It’s time to make out an office bingo card. Make the squares for each tried and true phrase that Mommy says.

      Just kidding. Sometimes you just have to suck it up and put up with other people’s idiosyncrasies.

    9. JenGray

      As a mom myself it’s ridiculous to equate you being a mom with what you did at work. I think that you should take the suggestions of the other posters and when thrown some reference to kids respond with something about your dog or plant.

    10. Dynamic Beige

      Or if she makes a mistake with a customer and you ask her to do something differently next time, and she replies, “I can’t believe as a mom I even did something like that!”

      OK, I hate to say this but if someone said that to me, they’d probably be looking at my Confused Face as I said back “I don’t get it. What does being a Mom have to do with the fact you didn’t give correct change / forgot to include the terms on the invoice (or whatever the error was)?”
      [wait for response]
      “You know, if I were you, I wouldn’t say things like that around the office. I mean, I’m not saying that they would target working moms first in the event of layoffs, but if they thought that you were making excuses for things like this and blaming it on caring for your children/your family responsibilities… I can’t see how that would work to your advantage. It sucks and it’s not right but that is the way the world works unfortunately.”

      Because I don’t think she’s doing this because you need to be reminded that she’s got children. I think she’s doing this because she wants to remind you to go easy on her, because she’s a *Mom* and she’s got all these other responsibilities that eat away at her time and energy (that you just don’t have any clue about) and being mean to her would be like being mean to your own Mom — and don’t you love your Mom?

      1. Ruffingit

        I think some women do this to try to feel better about themselves. The non-childed peons cannot possibly understand the difficulties of being a mom. I just can’t possibly go to a work party, I have CHILDREN. Won’t someone think of the children?!

        It’s like they’re trying to justify their existence or choices or something or make themselves feel better in comparison to their co-workers who don’t have kids. “Those work parties (which I used to think were fun) are no longer worth it because I have children and they take priority. You go on now and do your little immature partying…” I don’t know if this is the deal with this woman, but I’ve totally seen this attitude with others before.

      2. Not So NewReader

        I agree with this so much, especially the third paragraph. She is doing herself a great disservice with these constant references to her “mom” status. It’s almost like a mini-meltdown on her part.

        Other people who are parents know for a fact that being a parent has no bearing on whether you make mistakes or not.

        Additionally, these people are not her children. I hope that people are not thinking she is taking care of them as if they were her children, these are fellow adults. Maybe you can say something like, “These people are adults, they don’t expect you to be a mom to them. They already have a mother.”

        1. Dynamic Beige

          I also kind of wonder if she’s got some weird Now That I’m a MOM, I Must Be Perfect at All Times thing going on. “I can’t believe as a mom I even did something like that!” — what does that even mean? “I can’t believe as someone who has brown hair/requires oxygen/wears shoes I even did something like that!” Whaaaaat? Is there some new special metric at work that sets moms to a higher standard of performance than everyone else?

          1. Not So NewReader

            Yeah, it could be the tip of the iceberg for other things. Hopefully, not. Maybe she just thinks everyone else around her is a parent and she needs to keep referencing her mom status to fit in.
            Under her theory, though, people who do not have kids do less than perfect work. That is a pretty weird correlation.

  15. Regular contributor going anon for this

    I’m going anonymous for this one. I have had a few issues that have popped up in the last few weeks.

    I got hurt at work last week, reported it to the client (the site I work at is a large financial company) as well as my direct supervisor. I went to the on-site nurse and then went back to work.

    On Tuesday, I was presented with a series of rewrite ups for insubordination, which all related to the date I go hurt. One of the was for failing to return from my 15 minute break on time, it says in the rewrite that I didn’t return for 35 minutes.

    I’m pretty sure these rewrite ups will be used to remove me from the client’s site. I’m unsure what to do, since I didn’t push to go to a doctor or the hospital.

    Unrelated to this, I started a complaint with the DOL against my employer.

    A few friends have said I should try to find a lawyer, but that’s going to be expensive and I just don’t have the resources. Plus, I don’t exactly want the job back under those circumstances. Since I know the direct supervisor and my company would use anything they could to fire me from that point on.

    1. SerfinUSA

      Can you get a 30 min consult with a lawyer? That would be enough to see where to go next, in terms of legal action.

    2. Barbara in Swampeast

      I worked with a woman who had been written up in a previous job for leaving work early because she had had a heart attack and the EMTs took her to the hospital. The man beside was written up for leaving his desk when he went to aid!

    3. Observer

      This screams retaliation. You need to protect yourself. See if you can have an initial chat with a lawyer for free, and see if they will take this on a contingency basis.

      1. AndersonDarling

        Exactly. We had to do this when my husband was hurt at work. It wasn’t a big injury but the business started retaliating in a similar way. We aren’t the litigating kind of folks, but I knew things weren’t right so we got an attorney. There was a consultation, and we hired him on a contingency basis. I think it saved us a lot of heartache to have the attorney and not have to navigate the problem alone.

    4. Lucky

      Talk to an employment lawyer, as it’s very possible that a lawyer would take your case on contingency (i.e., you pay filing fees and other costs, but the lawyer gets paid out of the $$$ you get in settlement, arbitration or trial.) Start by Google’ing “your state + bar +association + employment + section”.

      1. Audiophile

        I’m in NY. The bar association website directed me to the NY Courts website. From there I’d have to know a first and last name, in order to verify that someone is registered. It’s a little confusing.

          1. Audiophile

            I looked. They’re closed until Monday at 9:30, I’m scheduled to work tomorrow. I’m sure when I show up tomorrow that I’ll be unable to get in the building.

        1. Emma

          Try Avvo.com, I’m not sure if it can find you exactly what you need, but it may be a good resource.

    5. attornaut

      Google “OSHA 11c complaint” to find the web-based complaint system, and then immediately fill it out.

    6. BRR

      Search “evilhrlady how to hire an employment lawyer” That should be everything you need.

      Also would it be possible to address it with HR, sometimes they’re great about the entire “we don’t want to be sued for illegal actions” thing.

      1. Audiophile

        I searched but the links in the article are broken. I’ll look again when I get home.

        1. Audiophile

          Thanks.

          I went through all the links and eventually found the NELA website. Found a list of employment lawyers I can contact on Monday.

    7. JenGray

      I would notify the DOL because even though the injury & complaint are separate they might be related in regards to retaliation. Depending on the injury even if you didn’t go to the doctor the company still has to keep a record of it. I think that you absolutely need to consult a lawyer. I know in my area that most lawyers do a free consult for a certain amount of time. Make some calls. Also, if you haven’t already write down what occurred in regards to your injury so that you don’t have to rely on your memory and be specific- date/time of injury, date you are writing this all down, who was there, name of the on-site nurse (if there are multiple ones). Even though this might not be exactly admissible in court it will help the DOL or lawyer when you fight this.

      1. Not So NewReader

        It looks like retaliation to me, but I am not a lawyer. I see enough going on in this story that I think you should find a lawyer.
        It sounds like the write up is a flat out lie, if that is the case then you know that this is a warning sign. It does not matter if you cannot prove it’s a lie, because, really all you need to know here is that the company is willing to create these lies. This means you are forewarned.

        Do document, even if you write it as a daily journal type of thing. You will find it very useful later on.

        1. Audiophile

          Quick update for everyone:

          I was notified yesterday that I am no longer allowed on the client’s property.

          I will call the DOL on Monday and notify them that I was removed from the site.

          I briefly spoke with a lawyer earlier in the day, who said, that because I’m at-will it will be difficult to prove any wrongdoing on their part. But he recommended I find an employment law lawyer, who might be better suited to handling a possible case. I will go through Avvo and NELA this weekend and look for lawyers in my area.

          Thanks to all of you for your help.

          1. Not So NewReader

            A friend of mine got injured while doing a service call. One of the first things that happened was that he was not allowed on the property of that customer. I think this is SOP for situations like this.
            I wish you the best outcome on this one. Keep us posted.

            1. Audiophile

              Yeah, it’s not because I was injured. I worked for a week after my injury. This is most likely related to the write ups. I refused to sign them and this clearly irritated supervisor. I knew the writing was on the wall after that.

  16. Simplytea

    How do you fix extraordinarily horrible employee morale when no one except you will speak up about it?

    Having this situation at work where one of our managers is HORRIBLE and very selfish (e.g. takes all credit for themselves, leaves early but refuses to let others do the same, doesn’t produce the same amount/quality of work as direct reports), but it’s chalked up to as “being able to deal with abrasive personalities”. This manager’s boss (my direct supervisor) either doesn’t realize how bad it is or chooses to ignore it even though I’ve eluded to it a few times. Clearly, this is causing a lot of resentment.

    As an executive assistant, have you dealt with a situation like this? I’ve only been here for 6 months, so I don’t yet have the level of… respect to make a direct complaint. Do you tell all or keep to yourself? This manager generally directly bother me, but it is hard to hear how bad it is for everyone else on our small team (<10 people) all the time.

    1. Isben Takes Tea

      It sounds like one of those cases where direct conversation is needed, but it should be coming from those directly affected. If they’re not willing to say anything, it’s not your job to have that conversation for them, even if you’re affected by the overall office morale. If there’s an opportunity to bring up a point where you’re directly affected by this person’s behavior, you can bring it up, but you still aren’t in a position to bring up her behavior to her direct reports…only the behavior that affects you.

      It stinks, and good luck!

    2. fposte

      A “Jane is just plain horrible and everybody hates her” complaint is pretty much doomed to failure from the start. Even if it was deemed actionable, the only real actions you can take on that are 1) fire her (unlikely) and 2) make her be completely different than who she is (impossible).

      It’s also tough because what you’re describing either sounds subjective or defensible. If Jane’s production issues are a problem for your workflow, or if Jane leaves early when you need her for something and expected her availability, that’s one thing. But her just not doing as much or going home earlier aren’t inherently problems, and they also really need to be problems for you or your direct reports, not for somebody else, before you can make a complaint.

      So I think you’re in suck-it-up mode. If I’m wrong and Jane’s productivity/schedule is indeed an issue for you, that’s the focus: “Can you give me some guidance in how to plan with Jane in the future? Both this week and last week I needed her signature at 3 for COB, and it’s slipped her mind and she’s been out of the office.”

    3. oldfashionedlovesong

      I’m interested what solutions people have for this. I work in an office with terrible morale because the director is just horrid to everyone below her, and some of the people directly under her are also horrid to everyone below them (and I am one of those “everyone”), and everyone knows it but no one speaks up about it. Even the people higher up from our director are well aware of the awfulness and just ignore it. It’s really a terrible place full of hostility and dysfunction and poor quality work, and I just try to do my work and engage as little as possible with the awful people (which is hard because my technical role supports all departments here and there are certain people with whom I dread having to speak). …I spend a lot of evenings job hunting.

      The one thing that does help is the few people who are decent try to create a bit of an emotional oasis. One of them is my direct supervisor, for which I am eternally grateful, and I in turn try to be that space for her when the director (her boss) goes after her. It’s not a perfect solution, because my direct supervisor won’t (more realistically, can’t) speak up to the director either, but at least there is a small circle of people who support one another and make the day bearable. Can you find a way to create a space like that with a few people there you feel you can connect with? I’m sorry I don’t have more constructive ideas!

    4. OriginalYup

      My response is affected by my own experience in a very, very similar situation.

      I was a new employee and saw terrible morale in a department of 15 employees that was due to a 3-person clique who were basically bullies. I discreetly asked around and everyone basically said, “Yep, it’s awful and that’s how it is. It used to be worse, actually.” So I matter of factly said something in a one on one meeting to my boss, the head of the department and head of HR. I said that I’d observed a morale problem based on a few employees being disrespectful and snide to their colleagues, and that it seemed to be affecting business because people were afraid to approach this one group with any requests at all, even functional requests that they alone could handle.

      It did not go well.

      I subsequently was invited to a meeting with my boss and another manager, outside the office so we could “speak privately,” where they asked me a series of questions about what I had observed and why did I think it was affecting morale. The entire company received booklets on fair treatment in the workplace, and had to attend a series of meetings about presentations about it. No mention was ever made about the actual problematic behavior, which continued unabated until the lead perpetrator changed departments.

      So I think that this situation exists at your company because they let it. Admittedly, I am cynical about situations like this due to my experience. I am worried that directly bringing it to their attention, especially as a new person and in a non-management role, will likely put you (rather than the bad manager) on the spot. If you directly affects your work and you do decide to address it with your boss, I would make the conversation about any instances that have directly been about you: “Crispin is extremely short with me when I ask for the Pinsky files. Is there something I should do differently when working with him?”

      1. Not So NewReader

        Beautiful advice here. I firmly believe that these situations go on and on because management lets them. If you try to fix it, you could end up being everyone’s target. Yes, that is extreme but it does happen.

        The best you can do is try to build some cohesion, build an oasis as OFLS says above here.

  17. Holly

    I know I’ve ranted about my (now old!) job a lot on here over the years.. the job where I got screamed at by the owner for not giving her a thank you card for my bonus – the day I found out I was getting one – and the job where we paid for ice, got nickel and dimed for all of our PTO, the owner saying racist and sexist things to us all the time, being told a kindergartner could do my job, etc. etc.

    I’ve sorta mentioned it in here but I’m so happy I want to say it again. I have a new job! And I love it here, so so much. I’m doing the same thing as before but in a new industry – an industry I have zero passion for, but that’s literally the only drawback. My team’s great. My director’s great. There’s no sign of irrational behavior or decision-making. The benefits are awesome. I’ve actually gotten praise for my work! I missed having positive self-esteem.

    Major thanks to AAM. I’ve used Alison’s e-book on all my job hunts over the years, but it was super helpful again for interview tips. I had no idea how being that unhappy was draining my energy to the negatives every day until I got out. :) Life is good again!

    1. danr

      Let your passion for the new industry grow slowly and concentrate on your work and the good environment. Congratulations and good luck.

      1. Not So NewReader

        Right on. You can find passion about the job because the people there are good to you and the company is good to you. Framed this way you could be able to keep going with this place for quite a while.

        Congrats. It’s always good to hear about someone turning their situation around.

    2. CoffeeLover

      Congratulations! I’m happy you were able to get out, and that you found a sane place to work. As for the boring industry, I honestly think that’s like cherry on to of the icing. You don’t really need the cherry to enjoy the pie :).

  18. Hlyssande

    My department laid off three people on Wednesday. The atmosphere is obviously somewhat subdued. It’s frustrating because we were told a few months ago that our new budget was approved and they didn’t forsee any need to lower headcount; they just weren’t going to fill any of the open positions. When they announced it, they said that they couldn’t guarantee that there wouldn’t be any more reductions.

    It scares the crap out of me because I feel like if I wasn’t the only one with the deep knowledge of this one application I’ve been helping with from the start, it would have been me let go. I also have not been able to build up a safety net, with student loans, rent, insurance, all the things. I am living paycheck to paycheck and while I could budget somewhat better, there isn’t exactly much wiggle room to allow me to build up much in the way of savings. Every time I try, there’s another emergency, like something else breaking down on my car (desperately need to get the brakes fixed right now, for example, but have no money or credit room for said fixes). It’s depressing.

    I really need to get off my butt, use Allison’s book, and seriously work at getting out of here. I’ve been saying that I would for years (this is #10 for me), but I’m going to actually try and do it this time.

    1. Tris Prior

      I just went through something similar and it sucks! I know that the only reason I escaped the last layoff is because there’s a vital task I’m responsible for, and I’m the only one here who knows how to do it. (not a thing that’s easily trained.) I have a TINY safety net but not enough to help much if I lost my job.

      It is depressing, and I’m sorry you’re going through it.

    2. Cordelia Naismith

      For help with the budgeting part, I recommend YNAB (You Need a Budget). It’s really easy to use, and it made an immediate difference for me. You can download the full version for a free trial that lasts a little over a month to see if it works for you. There are also free webinars on their website; they give away a free copy of the software to one random participant for each webinar.

      Even if you can’t afford to buy the software, I think the YNAB method is doable with Excel or even just pencil and paper, so it’s worth checking out. I like it because it encourages a sense of control and empowerment over your money, and it discourages feeling shame or guilt for being in debt (if you are — I am, and I’ve managed to reduce my debt by 25% in the year and a half I’ve been using YNAB. I would have thought that was impossible before).

      I also like it because it encourages savings. I think some of the things they recommend are mostly psychological (having several smaller emergency funds set aside for specific purposes, for instance, instead of one big fund. For me, having one fund for “medical” and one for “car repair,” etc, means I’m much less likely to dip into those funds just because I made an impulse purchase than if it was just an amorphous money blob called “emergency.”

      It really helped me break out of the paycheck-to-paycheck cycle. I’m in a much better place financially than I was before I started using it.

      1. Hlyssande

        Thank you! I will definitely look into that when I get home.

        Money has always been a huge source of anxiety for me, just like a lot of other people. My current apartment was a bit of a stretch in terms of rent, but the ability to live alone for the first time ever and NOT with terrible landlords has been a boon in its own right. It’s worth the trade off.

      2. Honeybee

        Thanks for this! I’m starting a new job soon and I am determined to set myself a budget and get aggressive about paying off some of my debt. I’m doing pretty well but I know I can do better. I want a budgeting tool that’s easy – everything else has seemed like so much work to me, so I definitely want to give this a try. Thank you!

        1. fposte

          Not to bury you, but there are also budgeting templates available in Excel–you can find additional free downloadable ones right through the application, if you don’t like the ones already offered, and they’ve got all the fields set up and formulas loaded and everything. But many people really love YNAB. too.

    3. NDQ

      In order to get ahead of your bills, you may have to change your lifestyle dramatically. Cheaper housing, apply for income-based student loan payments, lower your food costs, and cut transportation expenses. There’s always another option. And yes, even getting a better paying job. But money habits tend to stay the same regardless of how much you have.

      Anyone can lose their job like your co-workers. Cut out everything non-essential and start planning for the worst.

      Good luck. I think lots of people are in a similar situation.

      NDQ

  19. bassclefchick

    I could use some positive energy today! I got called for an interview yesterday. Yay! It’s for a pretty good company and the job is something I’m interested in doing. However, 2 hours after I got the call to set up an interview for today, the scheduler called me back and said the hiring manager’s calendar changed and would have to cancel the interview for today. Which is fine, these things happen. But she didn’t set up a new time!

    So, of COURSE I’m extra nervous now about not getting an interview at all. The thing is, I’ve been a temp for 4 years. The stress of not knowing if I have a job past the current week is taking a toll. I’ve been lucky that I’ve only had a few assignments that have all lasted a year or longer, but the uncertainty is killing me. I know I can stay at my current assignment as long as I need to. BUT. I work at a major food manufacturer that just completed a huge merger. Let’s just say the ketchup colored writing is on the wall. All the permanent employees are nervous as hell about keeping THEIR jobs.

    I REALLY want this new opportunity to work out. On the plus side, instead of having less than 24 hours to prepare for an interview, I now have all weekend. Wish me luck!

      1. bassclefchick

        Squee!!!! Elizabeth West responded! I’m such a nerd! *waves hello* – love your blog!

        I don’t comment much, but I love this community and I read every post. You guys are the best!

  20. On and on anon anon

    New one here, yesterday another work group’s manager came through unplugging everyone’s phones/iPods/tables/MP3 players/etc with the proclamation that they were “stealing the company’s electricity” and “anyone caught with one plugged in would be fired!”

    Our manager shook his head and told us to carry on.

      1. Nashira

        I work in a state government office. You can get written up if you’re caught with a plug-in fan. We also have an illegal toaste that only survives because the senior manager who likes toast has informants with the energy inspection people.

        Not kidding. It’s surreal sometimes.

        1. Charlotte Collins

          The toaster I can see, as those can be a fire hazard. (I thought my mother was nuts for always insisting that the toaster was unplugged when not in use until I read something about fire safety that said even modern toaster can cause fires easily if they are plugged in and not monitored.)

          1. Not So NewReader

            Yeah, that is true and it’s been going on for decades. My father worked for Famous Company. He said never, ever leave your toaster/ toaster over plugged in. My geeky husband kind of chuckled at that. Then one day hubby had to repair ours. When he got it back together he said, “Your dad was right. Never, ever leave the toaster plugged in.”
            There was an article just recently talking about all the things that we leave plugged in and should not. For some reason they suck small amounts of electricity and increase our bills. Just another good reason to unplug.

      2. The IT Manager

        I’ll be hones -; that’s often a safety thing / electrical load. I don’t think people’s electronic devises draw the same load as fans, heaters, or toasters (and toasters and heaters get hot and could cause fires).

        1. Natalie

          In my experience at least, fans and toasters aren’t much of an issue. I can’t think of a tenant that’s ever overloaded the electrical with one. Heaters, on the other hand, are definitely an issue for a number of reasons. Microwaves, too, particularly since they often share a circuit with the fridge. We’ve started building out office with multiple circuits in the kitchen.

    1. Also Anon

      WOW. That is .. WOW. I’m laughing. It’s so terrible I literally can not even process how a manager could think like that!

    2. Nanc

      Careful, the next step is not flushing the toilets because that’s stealing the company water!

      What a maroon! (said in my best Bugs Bunny voice!)

      1. Dynamic Beige

        Someone I knew in high school worked for a family-run store and she was required to leave a quarter in the washroom after she used the toilet.

    3. GOG11

      Next he’ll be taking a thermal scanner around and threatening people who give off too much body heat that drives the AC costs up.

    4. CoffeeLover

      Just be happy you don’t work for her and that your manager is a lot more reasonable.

    5. Apollo Warbucks

      A guy on a train in london got arrested recently for pluging his phone in during a journey

        1. Merry and Bright

          Sorry – that was meant as a reply way upthread. Something went wrong there…

        1. Apollo Warbucks

          What amazed me was its a specific offence he was arrested for abstracting electricity.

          1. Natalie

            Someone recently broke into a home and lived under a (non-occupied) bed for 3 days. They were charged with B&E and theft of electricity, since they had charged their phones.

      1. TheLazyB (UK)

        Well yeah but apparently the plugs are clearly marked ‘do not use’ and there’s a high chance of anything pluged into them blowing if they’re used on a moving train.

        Arresting him was rather OTT though.

      2. Dynamic Beige

        My favourite story is the one of the guy who walked on stage during a Broadway play to plug in his phone. He saw the outlet on the set and just went on up. The kicker was that it wasn’t real or plugged in to anything.

        Another one that’s always good is that when onsite for a conference, attendees are notorious for just walking up to anything plugged in and unplugging it. This doesn’t happen all the time, but there are enough “and he just walked right up and unplugged the switcher without asking. It took an hour to boot up and reprogram” style stories from people I know. Or the lights. Or the audio console. Or an amplifier. Or a plasma screen. Or a computer. Or someone else’s phone. It’s pretty much a guarantee that at some point, someone is going to want to borrow a cable for their iWhatever because they forgot the cable at home/in a cab/in their hotel room/on the plane/in their car.

    6. Not So NewReader

      Actually, that is fairly normal in retail settings. You charge your phone in the backroom while you are working and that is considered stealing. Yes, you will lose your job over it.

  21. Library looker

    I’m interested in hearing from those of you that work at libraries about how you got into the library industry, what kind of degree you have, and whether the industry is truly as oversaturated as they say. I’m 23, at the tail end of undergraduate (English), and thinking hard about going into library science. I worked for two years at my first college’s library at the front desk, and have contacted my local library to see if I can volunteer there as a page or something, but I’d like a little more information about library careers before I decide whether to apply for grad school.

    1. Christy

      The job market is terrible. I got an MLS in 2011 and I work for the government, not anywhere near a library. My girlfriend got hers then as well and she’s a non-librarian staff member at a university library. Another friend works at a for-profit college for peanuts. Another works for Blackboard, doing sales. A few are academic librarians at universities. A few are public librarians. One is a prison librarian after years of underemployment. One is a barista. One interned for two years after her MLS and finally got a permanent job. One has been trying for years and still doesn’t have a job that pays a living wage. Many have moved to other areas for work. Many did intern-level work after graduation. Many had periods of unemployment.

      Unless you won’t survive without being a librarian, don’t go to library school. There are other careers with more options available to them.

      1. Christy

        Also! It’s easiest to get a job as a librarian when you have a background in literally anything other than English. There’s a glut of English majors who want to be librarians. There aren’t enough biologists or chemists.

        1. Library looker

          Haha, so basically, don’t do it! Thanks for all the advice. It sounds like the job market is just as bad for MLS degrees as it is for creative writing MFAs (which had been one of my other dreams). Hopefully I’ll get my library fix by volunteering.

          1. First year MLS student

            Don’t be discouraged! I’d venture to say that the MLS is one of the most versatile grad degrees you can get.

            1. Natalie

              That sounds an awful lot like something library schools tell students to get them to enroll in a program that is widely known to be an oversaturated market.

              1. fposte

                It’s a little of both. The “I am a librarian at your local library” path is definitely oversaturated, but it really is a versatile degree. You just have to be aware that “versatile” means “stay open-minded and creative” and “still not guaranteeing a job.”

              2. Honeybee

                And law schools, and MFA programs, and PhD programs, and basically any professional degree with mediocre to poor job prospects in the field most of its graduates want to enter.

                1. Natalie

                  MBAs, too, I suspect. There are a lot of job prospects, but nearly enough for all those newly minted biz school grads.

      2. JMegan

        I actually have the exact opposite experience – all of my friends from my MLS program got jobs in the field, and are still working there years later (except for the one who quit to become a SAHM.)

        I think it can be a tremendously useful degree, as long as you are open to the possibility that “library work” may not happen in a traditional library. Archives, records management, and information privacy/ information security are all related jobs, which you’ll often find in government and other highly-regulated industries.

        INALJ-dot-com (I Need a Library Job) is a great resource as well, to give you an idea of what’s out there. Good luck!

        1. Christy

          Where did you go? I’ve heard that those from UNC have great success. I went to a top-10 program, but it seems to me that the programs that actually benefit you are UNC and Illinois.

          1. JMegan

            University of Toronto. :) Sorry, should have mentioned that I’m in Canada, so there’s a bit of a YMMV there!

        2. Vanishing Girl

          INALJ is a great resource! Most of the people I went to grad school with for info science are employed in a library somehow. I am currently in corporate media/tech using my degree, but I’m missing my life in archives and am looking to get back there with more skills.

          I did want to say that the archives field is even more closed and difficult to enter than other types of library-related work. Too many graduates, not enough full-time paying gigs, and you are competing with museum studies and history majors as well. But if you want to go that route, go to a library school with an archives track or specialization and that will help. Good luck!

    2. First year MLS student

      http://hacklibraryschool.com/

      A blog written by MLS students for MLS students. There’s profiles of many MLS programs (http://hacklibraryschool.com/category/education-curriculum/hack-your-program/) and LOTS of tips/things to think about/things to look for when you’re considering library school.

      The grad degree you’d want is the MLS or a variation, from an ALA-accredited institution. A list is here: http://www.ala.org/accreditedprograms/directory/search

      Getting some volunteer or work experience in a library first is a good plan. Also, talk to people! You’re off to a good start with your question here :) Find a librarian at your alma mater and ask lots of questions: how they got into librarianship, any advice they have for folks interested in the profession. Find librarians/information professionals in different sectors–archives, public libraries, etc. Google libraries or library-type places, find the staff list, and send someone an introductory email. Most librarians I’ve come across are super kind and very willing to chat about their experiences.

      My background: I’ve always loved books and now I’m getting very interested in librarians as educators, information literacy, instruction, etc. I took a year out of undergrad and worked at a large libary for a year while I researched and applied to MLS programs.

      1. Vanishing Girl

        These are all great ideas and advice!!

        I second this idea of talking to people! I did that before I applied to my IS program and it was so helpful to know whether I wanted to enter the field or not. Talk to people in a variety of environments and even see if you can volunteer someplace to learn more about it.

        The MLS is a very diverse degree that can be used in so many ways. For example, my work has absolutely nothing to do with books or patrons. So find out as much as you can about what jobs people actually get afterwards and have an idea of what you’d like going into it. I was very focused in school, and I feel that helped me plan and get the most out of my degree as compared to other students who were taking classes to fulfill the requirements but not sure how they’d use them. I don’t regret getting my degree, but I advise anyone thinking about it to do your research, meet people, and go into it without blinders on. Good luck! It is an exciting field, IMO.

      2. NoCalHR

        My sister-in-law earned her MLS and snagged a school librarian job with the elementary school system. She adores it, has all the school holidays (including summer vacation!!), and wasn’t required to join the teachers’ union (a perq from her perspective). And of course, YMMV!

    3. SerfinUSA

      I was just on a hiring committee for 2 lowish level library staff positions, no library degree required. We had quite a few with MLS or equivalent apply. It was sobering.

      1. Christy

        Yup! My girlfriend’s job requires a GED. The jobs she’s applying for also only require a GED.

      2. miki

        MLIS 2009, working for public university library (civil servant) Started as a library specialist and got a promotion last year to senior library specialist. What got me in: foreign language background : I’m in cataloging dept.
        I always say that this field is for people who like to help others, but not get payed much. Think carefully if you really want to do it.

        1. Christy

          Yes! I totally agree with this. You really have to like helping others, and you really won’t get paid much. I outearn all of my library school peers because I do tech work for the government.

      3. Jennifer

        My friend that works in a library complains about getting no support from higher-ups and that everyone there has been stagnating for years and they all apply frantically if any post opens up.

        (She thinks I can get a job in a library, but YEAH RIGHT.)

    4. Kelly L.

      I worked at a library–not as a librarian–for a few months. It was…an experience. It was a local small-town library, and everyone there had carved out their niches and political rivalries 20 years before I ever got there. People got all Game of Thrones over it. Another setting might be completely different, of course.

    5. Anon for this

      I was lucky enough to graduate and establish myself before the Great Recession, so I now hire and mentor recent grads. I feel more positive about the profession than Christy but her headcount of what her friends are doing sounds pretty typical to me.

      That said, there are *some* jobs and *somebody* is getting them. Who and how? I think it is the most stellar library grads (top 5% of the class) and often those with significant additional skills, which they probably got in some prior job (given that most MLS students did something else first). Think project management, data, community building, arts, etc. The highest paying jobs are in technology but those increasingly don’t require an MLS anyway.

      Your plan of volunteering is smart, but I would also think, hard, about what you would bring to a future job application other than an English degree and an MLS–everyone will have that.

    6. fposte

      It also sounds like you might still be learning about what kinds of jobs people get with LIS degrees, and I’d encourage you to really dig around on library school websites, librarycareers dot org, etc., to get a better idea of the possibilities. And make sure you look at the information science side, too–that doesn’t mean you have to be a computer scientist, and it’s a more open area for career possibilities right now.

      (I’m at a library school, and we do still place our English-major-to-librarian people, but it is very competitive.)

    7. S

      A close friend of mine completed a specialized library technology program at our community college. He was working at his public library on a sporadic basis already throughout the program and once he finished, they were able to make a full-time offer. Reading everyone else’s stories kinda confirms my feeling that he was incredibly lucky and knew the right people at the right library that had openings.

    8. Kelly

      I finally got a job in a library after looking for over 5 years. It’s a paraprofessional position that if I’m really honest could be done by a grad student part time. It’s probably still a permanent staff position because we are currently having staffing issues and if my unit gives up a permanent position, we won’t get it back. I work in technical services and spend far more time doing public service duties than my predecessor did due to budget cuts. It wasn’t the position that was advertised during the hiring process and interview two years ago. Due to the increase in having to work the desk and no raises for another two years, I recently applied for another position that’s similar to my job description in the Midwest that should pay more and have minimal public service duties.

      The academic library I work for just put in place a partial hiring freeze because of budget cuts. Any positions that are posted are open to internal applicants only and are positions that must be filled ASAP. I know the institution I work for isn’t the only one with hiring freezes. My alma mater also put into place a hiring freeze that had just been lifted only 2 years ago.

      I think that having customer service experience is important. Even in an academic library, the majority of interactions with patrons are directional or technical. Most of the questions I answer are where are the bathrooms or where are the shelving areas. It’s a bit absurd how we can’t have directional signage because it interferes with the aesthetics of the building. I still get questions on how to access email and how to use our scanners.

      I also think we are more open to the public than some academic libraries. We don’t require an university login to use the computers and are an open access library, which is becoming a problem. There has been an increase in certain individuals who have no academic affiliation sitting at our computers all day. There’s also some concern that once winter hits we may have more homeless coming into sleep during the day. Due to budget cuts, there’s no longer 24/7 access to the building, but part of that may have been a preemptive measure at discouraging the homeless/transient population from sleeping in the building overnight if they can’t get into a shelter overnight.

      1. miki

        @ Kelly: reading description of your library: do you work at my library ? -> (I also think we are more open to the public than some academic libraries. We don’t require an university login to use the computers and are an open access library, which is becoming a problem. There has been an increase in certain individuals who have no academic affiliation sitting at our computers all day.)

    9. Seal

      Academic librarian and department head here. While the job market is not great, there are jobs available in librarianship. The key is to make sure that you find your niche and have the appropriate skill set. General reference librarians are a dime a dozen, but there is demand for librarians with a science background in particular. Good catalogers or metadata specialists are always in demand, as are those who specialize in digital projects, data or GIS.

      So if you do choose to go to library school find opportunities to specialize, both in the classes you take as well as through internships and volunteer opportunities. Look for programs that offer the opportunity to pursue a second masters degree in conjunction with your MLIS, particularly if you plan to work in an academic library. Gather useful, transferable skills such as coding or Photoshop as you work on your degree. Join library associations (which generally offer discount memberships to students) and get involved. Make yourself marketable and make yourself stand out amongst the other would-be librarians who majored in English and you’ll get a job.

      1. Cristina in England

        This.
        The standard vision of “librarian” is very saturated but metadata specialists and cataloguers can get into some interesting niches supporting research projects or companies in many different fields, and if you can take some electives on basic programming, you can really find yourself with expanded options. One of the areas I’ve gotten into in my most recent job is data visualization. I would love to learn programming skills (like regex and perl) because I see “big data” and data visualization as really interesting areas that join information science with pretty much any other field: journalism, agricultural science, business… honestly, so many more that I can’t even name them.

    10. SerfinUSA

      Also good to sign onto an ALA job list if possible. I see a lot of openings for tech-related positions. Lots of digital initiative type buzzwords in the listings. Anyway, looking at postings might help with picking a direction, even though things will change rapidly.

    11. Demanding Excellence

      After I graduated with my bachelor’s degree, my first professional job was as a reference librarian at my hometown’s public library. It was a small town (25,000 people) and the source of the town’s only computer lab/cafe, so needless to say it was very well utilized. I lasted about a year, and it was a very interesting experience. (I have terrific stories from my library years – I told one earlier this week in fact.)

      My degree is in journalism/PR, so I was able to parlay my research and communication skills into the reference library position pretty well.

      I haven’t worked at a library in several years, so take this advice for what it’s worth, but I would recommend trying to find a position at small town library that’s close to where you’re living now, if at all possible. The positions typically aren’t well-paid, but you can get some great experience. Good luck!

    12. Ragnelle

      I have an M.A. in English and sort of stumbled into an awesome public library job. I started going to a library program when I moved to my current small city, and the library director encouraged me to apply for a temporary paraprofessional position doing reference, customer service, and programs. The job turned permanent when another person left the department, and then I got a promotion to an outreach position. An MLS was preferred for the position, but I convinced the decision-makers that what they needed was a professional communicator (and got the job over two MLS-holders). I work with awesome people and develop my own projects. I’ve considered getting an MLS solely to keep moving up the ladder, especially if I ever move. I do realize my career trajectory is not normal and that my library is probably not normal.

      Here are few things to keep in mind as you consider your next steps:
      -It’s better to get experience before getting the degree (makes you a better library school and library job candidate)
      -It matters A LOT where you live–if you want to live in a major urban area, you will face super low salaries compared to COL and a tough job market
      -All libraries are different, so ask lots of different people about their experiences
      -If you can get hired at a library, see if they have an MLS assistance program where they will pay a portion of your tuition in return for a number of years of service

      I love working in libraryland, even though I’ll never get paid much to do so. Best of luck to you, no matter what you decide!

      1. Christy

        I would specify that it’s better to get non-library experience before getting the degree. Sometimes, there can be an issue where if someone has been non-librarian staff in a library, even after they get an MLS, they’ll still be seen as “staff”. This particularly happened in a few public and academic libraries I’ve heard about.

        But non-library experience is really helpful when you’re job-searching.

        1. Mimmy

          I think this is what a friend of mine has experienced. She pursued her MLS while working at a university library (I think mainly front desk and shelving?). She got the degree a few years ago, yet she is still at this same job. She also has an infant daughter, so I think she’s dialed the job searching back because of that.

      2. skyline

        -It matters A LOT where you live–if you want to live in a major urban area, you will face super low salaries compared to COL and a tough job market
        I would agree that location matters, and that salaries can be laughably bad in some metro ares. I would note that regional pay differences tend to trump urban/suburban/rural pay differences. In general, I would say that salaries are the best on the west coast.

    13. Tomato Frog

      I’m an archivist with an MLS. I graduated two years ago and as far as I know, all my classmates who were willing to move for a job, have a job in the field. I would guess some took about a year to find a job, though.

      1. fposte

        Oh, good point. A lot of people have two obstacles: they can’t move for a job, and they’re looking near the library school, so they’re competing with all the other graduates who can’t move.

        1. Anx

          I was about to say, I see tons of openings in my current location for library jobs. There isn’t an MLIS program at my school and we live in a rural area without a lot of literary culture.

    14. grumpy career changer

      Good on you for doing some research in advance. I would be very leery of going to library school straight out of undergrad. Get some professional experience in project management or usability testing first. Also, consider very carefully whether it is worth paying for yourself. Yes, it’s hard to get funding (or tuition remission), but if you can get funding that would be a good sign.

      I did not get funding. I had a bad day at work, applied for the local MLIS program on a — not a whim, I’d been considering it for years, but definitely as a result of a terrible interaction with my boss, and decided to pay for it myself. I regret it sometimes — like this week, when a contact somewhere I’d like to work interviewed me then left me hanging.

      Whole story: she contacts me (we know each other through a professional organization) to ask me to apply for a part-time, temporary job. I say sure, she asks for a cover letter, schedules and does a thirty-minute interview the next business day, tells me the (supposedly very strict) timeline for when the temporary job will start, then ignores me until after the start date. She only tells me someone else was hired when I followed up a second time.

      Sure, from reading this site, I know that I should accept that sometimes timing changes. But when someone recruits me to apply, based on a pre-existing relationship, I expect that professional courtesy would mean keeping me updated about changes in the process. Maybe that’s unrealistic, and the power dynamic between applicant and hiring manager is just that way. Or maybe there really was a series of unavoidable delays and the contact who had enough time to reach out to me and get me to apply didn’t have enough time to let me know.

      The kicker? All this back-and-forth for a job that pays $11.50/hour, which is less than a quarter of my rate in my current profession.

      So, take my comments about librarianship with a grain of salt; I’m a bit grumpy right now. But I think my first advice — get some relevant professional experience first, then decide if you want to continue in that field — is good, regardless of my current grumpiness!

      Good luck with your decision.

    15. Language Lover

      I went to library school kind of blind. I didn’t have library experience but I felt like it’d be a good way to work around schools/universities where I always felt more natural than a business.

      I ended up being lucky because I work full-time as a professional librarian. I say lucky because the only experience I had was an internship during grad school. I got my first librarian job because I had a background in high school teaching, which helped for an instruction position, I happened to know a librarian leaving her position who recommended me and I was willing to move to a place I really had no interest in moving to.

      I eventually was able to move back to my preferred place to live. I do think graduates who wanted to or had to stay in the area with an MLIS degree granting school are making it much harder on themselves. I find that to be true with almost any professional school. I do worry what I would do if I ever lost this job. I don’t know how many transferrable skills I have. And budgets are being slashed. In my library, positions that used to be professional librarians are being reconstructed as paraprofessional positions. Business thinking is starting to invade higher ed and libraries are pretty much pure cost centers.

      There are MLIS graduates who will highly discourage anyone thinking of getting the degree to pursue one. It’s certainly not an easy job field to enter. I’m not that discouraging. Rather, I encourage people entering the program to be realistic and do research such as informational interviews, to read job ads, to develop skills you might not get taught in grad school like technical skills, marketing, outreach, instruction…etc.

    16. Mimmy

      As others have pointed out, the job market for ML(I)S graduates can be really tough, but it sounds doable depending on what type of library you want to work at, any areas of specialty, and whether you’re willing to consider work outside of the traditional library setting. The links others provided are a great start.

      I was actually considering library work myself awhile back; in particular, I was interested in either an academic library or a resource library (in my one post-MSW job, I was briefly the librarian while they were looking to replace the full-time Information & Resources Specialist who had resigned; one of the I&R Specialist’s duties was to maintain the resource library and track borrowed items). However, after seeing how much trouble my friend, who I mentioned upthread, was having in her job search and a conversation I had with the social work librarian at my university, I gave up on the idea. I am such a resources nerd, though, and still sometimes wish I could scratch that itch somehow.

    17. pony tailed wonder

      I am a paraprofessional at an academic library. I love my job but I don’t expect to get rich while working in a library. Some of my co-workers below me qualify for food stamps. Raises are practically non-existent.

      At my library, a curious thing is happening and I am not sure of how I feel about it. We are hiring a lot of people who have masters or doctorates in other areas than library science to fill niche roles. It has both positive and negatives to it. I really want to see the long term effects on this before I pass judgement.

      If you are on facebook, there is a group called the ALA Think Tank there that might also be able to give you some advice.

    18. Briefly anon

      Public library middle manager here. My take on the market is that it really depends. The top candidates are having no problem getting jobs, even fresh out of the library school. Our hiring pools for professional positions are often disappointing, though there are many applicants. And I am in a big organization with competitive salaries in what’s considered a nice part of the country.

      The main mistakes that I see library students making: (1) Thinking that the degree by itself guarantees a job. (2) Being inflexible about their position requirements. If you only want to work in certain cool cities–many of which have library schools churning out hundreds of MLIS degrees every year–you’re going to be in trouble unless you are the cream of the crop. If you only want to work for your hometown library, you’re going to have a hard time, too. (3) Failing to present themselves in a professional manner. I see so many truly embarrassing resumes and cover letters, and most of the interviews are not that much better.

      I think it’s a really good idea to get experience before you decided on grad school. Quality non-library work experience will also help–both in applying to grad school, and later in applying for actual professional library jobs once you have the degree.

      There are still jobs out there. I graduated at the height of the recession and many of my classmates got full-time jobs within months of graduation and have been steadily employed since. But I had a strong resume, was willing to move, and apparently do a pretty good interview. (On a side note, I was also an English major, so English-majors-turned-librarians aren’t necessarily hard sells. But I did have 5 years of solid, professional work experience between undergrad and grad school in my favor, too.)

    19. A

      I graduated from library school in August of 2008. I started a full-time librarian job in January of 2009. I was very particular about the kind of jobs I applied for (FT, children’s) although I was willing to move basically anywhere in my state.

      The most important thing is PAID library experience. I started as a shelver, then got promoted to circulation (started my MLS), then got promoted to youth services paraprofessional (about halfway through my MLS). Then I finished my MLS and applied for about 3 jobs. I interviewed for 2 of them in the same week and accepted one. (I was the second choice for the other one, told it was very close but they went with someone who also spoke another language that they had a large number of community members who spoke.)

      I think I got promoted so quickly because I am extremely personable and hard-working. I also was honest about wanting to move up (and always volunteered to help with projects outside my job duties when my regular work was done.) but patient about it.

      I’m now,7 years after graduating, a youth services department head, which was my goal all along.

      I also filled out my resume by writing a professional blog and getting involved with my state’s library association (serious discount for students).

  22. Lisa

    I just found out that the average promotion at my company takes 4-5 years with only 2% increases like COL so no merit-based raises apparently. Headquarters is in Pittsburgh, and Boston doesn’t work like that. We are used to promotions within 1-2 years and increases of 5-15% in our industry.

    Now we have to be happy with being on a ‘Pittsburgh’ schedule and their rules vs. market rates and what is normal for our industry in Boston. It will take me 4 more years to get promoted here, and I’ll end up being 20k behind my peers by then with only 2% increases. Apparently promotions only mean 5% increases too vs. paying market rate for the new job title.

    Getting acquired sucks. Especially, since our office is trying to fix delayed promotions in Pittsburgh. So 5 promotions there means that no one from Boston can be promoted yet. Why is everything so archaic that we have to ‘wait our turn’ vs. being treated as a valuable employee that deserves recognition regardless of seniority? Headquarters will always be favored then.

    1. Bea W

      This is exactly what happened to my company when it was acquired, good-bye merit-based increases and promotions! People jokingly refer to our annual increases as “pay cuts” because they don’t keep pace with COL or the industry. :(

      Don’t even get me started on the “harmonization” efforts and the constant restructuring. I stay because I love what I do here. I think about leaving because I’m starting down 20-30 years of not making much headway in career progression or salary if I stay (and having to eventually move into new offices without cubicles – rumor is we’re going to the open table crap. God I hope that is only a rumor!)

      1. Lisa

        Yeah, HR claims they look at market rates for positions often, but I don’t buy it. I think it’s lip service. No one is going to willingly agree that you are underpaid thousands and suddenly start paying you that. I have to move on. It sucks, but I do. I hate that.

    2. Ashley K.

      Best way to get a raise is to find a new job. :(

      Best of luck to you. Restructures like that are incredibly frustrating, especially when the markets of HQ differ from your office.

    3. CoffeeLover

      I’m starting a new job and I’m kicking myself because I didn’t ask about their policy for raises and promotions. I’m in an industry where a significant pay increase happens after your first year, so I kind of assumed I would be getting that, but now I’m not so sure.

  23. edj3

    Quick update on my question last week about critical deadlines, huge workloads and an overworked team:

    Snacks: I brought in a variety of snacks on Monday and they were a hit—since we’ve had issues with the cleaning crews taking snacks that are out in the open, I put them in an unlocked drawer and made sure everyone knew where they were and to help themselves, and they did! Bonus is now I know what their favorites were so if we are ever in this situation again, I know what to get. But I will use all my influence and energy to never do this again.

    W@H: I’ve always thought working from home is perfectly fine most of the time and have continued letting people do that. Apparently my predecessor had a one day a week limit but I believe and have told my team that we are adults and as long as the work is getting done, I’ll almost always grant permission to work from home. What’s most gratifying is that one person knows working from home isn’t a good option for him—he says he gets distracted and that he’s not as productive—and so he works here. That’s exactly the kind of self awareness I appreciate.

    Why the deadline matters: I told my team why the deadline matters and how much extra cost we would incur if we miss it. I’m not sure they’d ever been told the dollars and cents behind deadlines.

    Recognition: I used our internal rewards program this week—I wanted those rewards to hit now, when they are doing so much, and got several comments about how they love being appreciated.

    Vacation: I’ve already gotten requests for vacation next month and have been able to accommodate those requests. Knowing that they’ll get a break soon is helping, too.

    Our big deadline is next week and yesterday the mood on the team shifted. I heard more laughter, and saw a more relaxed attitude rather than the overwhelming tension I’d been seeing. No, the work isn’t finished, but I believe we are going to make our deadlines.

    Thank you all for your very helpful suggestions. I really appreciate it.

      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        Do you want my real answer? I’m a huge curmudgeon, and I will always avoid that kind of thing here because there’s too much we don’t know. It’s the same reason I’m always surprised when people say things like “I’d hire you!” in response to a single anecdote from someone; someone could be great on X but bad on Y. We rarely have enough info here to truly know the whole picture.

        (None of which is about edj3, of course!!)

        1. edj3

          Yup. And while I do appreciate the kind words, the fact is there’s always room for improvement. That’s why I keep reading here and asking questions.

        2. These are live servitors under transient control.

          I concur. These things will often turn into popularity contests. And – something that I think is sometimes forgotten here is that Alison is the person who actually has the Big Brain full of management information. Sure, any of us in the AAM community can offer suggestions or relate stories. But if Rachel Randomperson comes here looking for help, she needs to be careful to note the difference between what Alison advises and what (for instance) i might advise.

          Having said that – I think it might be nice if AAM moved to software that was more along the lines of StackExchange / StackOverflow, where answers are voted upon and ranked, and there is some ability to observe the history and “wisdom” of a person .

          And, while I’m just blue-skying around, I think that Alison and AAM are sorta hovering about a critical career decision point: around now is when she may want to consider a) getting an agent, b) writing a book (somewhere prescriptive, not a how-to) based on c) a cause that she believes in which needs support. Then she does the talk-show circuit with John Stewart and John Oliver. This can all be done without selling-out – I’m loosely using Dan Savage as a model for what I described previously, and while opinions vary, I think Dan has largely kept his head on his shoulders.

          And the idea here isn’t just to make more money. It’s primarily to cement Allison in the next tier of management experts. And I would personally like to see that happen because a) Alison has competition and b) they suck while c) Alison does a really good job of combining rationality, clear writing, and some sense of fairness into advice that tries to balance the needs of the business and the needs of the employee. Oh and d) did I mention clear writing? There is a blessed lack of bullshit platitudes or trendy mgmt buzzwords in her advice.

          In the words of former Head of the KGB Nikolai Jakov: “Eez ween-ween”. Alison gets a career bmp, more businesses and managers acknowledge and practice her concepts, and in theory this leads to higher morale and better business, maybe even a better economy (I said this was blue-sky).

            1. These are live servitors under transient control.

              Cool!

              I’m no kind of expert on this, but I think you should get an agent first. Is there anyone in “the biz” that you trust, who could talk to you about it? Offhand, I’d be concerned with a) protecting your name (and, alas – cause I know you hate this – your brand), and b) ensure that writing a book is only *part* of an overall strategy.

              Okay, I’ll shut up now :)

              1. Ask a Manager Post author

                An agent actually reached out to me last year and I talked to her a bit. I’m not sure I actually want to do a lot of what she recommended though — public speaking and appearances and the like. That sounds onerous to me. Really I’d like someone to just give me a radio show someday; that’s my dream and the only thing I’m really interested in doing beyond what I’m doing now. (Even with the idea of doing another book, I’m not sure. I make a lot more with the ebook I sell myself on this site than I’d be likely to make via traditional publishing, so I question whether it’s worth the time and work. I am lazy!)

    1. Ad Astra

      What’s most gratifying is that one person knows working from home isn’t a good option for him—he says he gets distracted and that he’s not as productive—and so he works here.

      I am totally that person! I would love the option to occasionally work from home if the weather made it dangerous to drive, or I really needed to be home for some reason, but I never get as much done and my setup at home isn’t very conducive to WFH anyway.

      I’m so glad to hear last week’s suggestions helped!

    2. Not So NewReader

      Good on you, edj3. Well done! And you will harvest what goodwill you have sown here.

  24. Beebs

    Working as a remote staff person in a small org has had a lot of challenges. We have a team gathering coming up where we present on our projects and discuss how we can improve or what we have learned. I started as a remote person and don’t have much relationship or interaction with most of the team. I work on my own project but there are components of what we do that overlap and we can certainly learn from each other and support other projects. This has been a true struggle for me as I feel very isolated and unsupported in my role. I had expected a much greater degree of mentorship and collaboration as was detailed to me during the interview and offer stage. None of this has come to fruition and I am beyond frustrated and honestly apathetic at this point.

    My question is, do I bring up the challenges of being in my position at this team gathering? In an ideal world they would hear my concerns and actively work on improving the situation, but realistically I think it would fall on deaf ears and if anything lead to perfunctory changes. I am not sure if discussing this will lead to any improvements or just make things worse for me.

    1. Sad & Remote

      No suggestions, just empathy. The people I talk to about feeling isolated when being remote are kind, but they don’t seem to fully understand it. I’ve tried bringing up my concerns to my team as well, but nothing has come of it. Not saying that you shouldn’t consider bringing this up to the rest of your team, but I didn’t experience much improvement.

      1. Beebs

        Sorry to hear you are also dealing with this. I think part of the problem is they really do not understand how this impacts the organization so when I try to articulate my position and give examples, their solutions make no sense. Ex: we need to communicate strategy better and nuances – solution: everyone use the calendaro more.

        1. Sad & Remote

          “Use the calendar more”???? Hahaha! I’m laughing but can totally see someone seeing that as a solution to your concern.

          Do you feel that as a remote employee, the rest of the team forgets you are there, and that’s why they are not looping you in? I don’t have a suggestion for “make sure you remember the ‘forgotten’ remote team members on emails/calls/meetings”, but if anyone has seen this resolved at their own org, I’d love to know how they did it.

          1. Beebs

            They forget me all the time, at first I knew I’d have to do the heavy lifting and keep reaching out to people, but it gets old, fast. I send random updates and try to connect the team to various things I’m working on, but it’s usually met with no response or acknowledgment whatsoever.

      2. Sad & Remote

        I should add that if you have a good manager, it’s worth it to bring it up. I told my boss about my concerns as well, and she was the only one who tried to address them — by allowing team members to come and support me when possible. Unfortunately, that only helped when my coworkers were here….when they left, the isolation and lack of communication returned. The problem is that I would like to go to my manager with a solution (not a problem), but can’t think of one. Everyone I work with is very busy and manufacturing some forced collaboration probably wouldn’t work very well.
        Like edj3 says, is there a way that you could feel more included?

      3. Lisa

        Its not just when you are remote, but also when most of the office is remote. Those left behind also feel very alone. I talk to the remote people more on IM than the ones in the office. Everyone stays in their cubes.

    2. edj3

      Do you have ideas about what steps could be taken that would result in feeling more included? That might be a good place to start.

      1. Beebs

        I have been mentioning things for months that could help improve dynamics. When support or input is requested from me on other projects it is usually when things are going wrong, so I said that if I were to be looped into the conversations earlier I could make thoughtful suggestions that could help avoid getting to that point. The issue is that we very much work in silos, and fostering a collaborative spirit is hard when you are physically removed from the team, and even when I proactively ask questions to help support other teams, I get vague responses. Doesn’t seem like anyone has a good solution, and the non remote staff are clueless to what it is like for us.

    3. Former Office Superstar

      I am dealing with this exact issue now and went the direct route of talking with my boss and HR about the lack of professional development. It’s only been a few days so not much progress has been made, but here is what has happened since:

      1) my boss now makes a point of acknowledging me every day and inviting me to social events (coffee run, lunch, etc.)

      2) When asked by HR what a successful resolution to my issues would look like, I clearly said, “I want to get back on the road.” Less than 12 hours later I received an email from my boss saying my request to attend an out-of-state conference was denied.

      3) Department head–who has never bothered to give me the time of day–suddenly wants to “connect” over coffee or lunch.

      Being that a large part of my issues with working at this company is that people ask for your opinion then get defensive (I have been reamed out in meetings several times for honestly answering) so I, too, a skeptical that anything will change.

      So you have my sympathies. Just know you are not alone.

      1. Beebs

        Thanks for sharing. My reluctance is that I don’t think this team has the understanding or capacity to be high functioning, especially with remote staff. I am so disappointed in this experience, it was not at all what I signed up for, no growth or development, no support, complete isolation. I have also learned that there is considerable incompetance at the higher levels, which honestly just makes me really sad and deflated.

  25. Hermione

    UGH job searching is the worst. Does anybody have any tips for getting through it more… calmly? It’s SO frustrating.

    1. Ad Astra

      Try setting aside specific blocks of time to work on job searching, and then fill the rest of your day with all the stuff you’d rather be doing. It helped me focus on the good things in my life instead of keeping my job search at top of mind every waking moment.

    2. Jerzy

      It’s popular to say that job searching is itself a full-time job, but that’s a problem if you’re already working a full-time job, and if you’re not, you still can’t just spend 8 hours a day everyday sending out resumes.

      I had a job I HATED, and I started looking for something new about a year in. It took me TWO years to finally find something. During that time, I made myself physically ill (stress lead to an increase in migraines, insomnia, etc.).

      If I had to do it all over again, I’d just keep telling myself to breathe, and set realistic goals (apply to x number of jobs per week, reach out to x number of contacts, etc.) and not stress about what’s outside of my control. Meditation. Herbal teas.

      And maybe a good punching bag for when zen just isn’t going to work.

    3. Bangs not Fringe

      I’ve finally taken Allison’s advice about letting go. I keep a spreadsheet of all the positions I apply to and I keep a copy of the position descriptions. But as soon as I apply for a position, I try my best to let it go and move on. I try not to stress about the things I can’t control and I definitely can’t control what happens after I hit submit.

      1. Elizabeth West

        Me too, and I used mornings for that stuff and then had afternoons to myself. I almost always took interview slots in the morning too, if offered, so I didn’t pace around the house nervously and make myself crazy.

    4. Sunflower

      Don’t over or under commit yourself. I’m a big fan of committing to apply to X amount of jobs/week. Also it can be helpful to mix up actual online applications with things like networking events. I agree with the spreadsheet idea- that’s what I do and try to move on after you apply.

    5. Sara

      Relieve your stress through exercise. On days when I don’t exercise, job-hunting stress keeps me awake for hours at night. I am three months into my job search and I would probably be a puddle of sadness on the floor if I didn’t go running or hit the gym everyday.

      (The other way I get through it is by enjoying my job, but I realize that not everyone has that luxury. [I’m job hunting because I’m underemployed, not because I’m miserable at work.])

    6. Anonymousterical

      I quit without anything lined up in early April and was hired at a wonderful place in a wonderful industry by mid-June. In moments of “I’LL NEVER BE EMPLOYED AGAIN!” panic, I just reminded myself that of course I would be employed again. Try not to let yourself catastrophize about worse case scenarios, and try not to go looking for unemployment horror stories (e.g., the ones about it taking years and years to find something). In my area, it took a good 30-40 days for companies to start calling back on my earliest applications, so try not to freak out at the radio silence. Job boards suck on Monday and anytime before 11 a.m., so I usually focused my hunting on Tuesday-Thursday, from 12p-3p. I also focused on companies I really, really wanted to work for and applied for jobs through their Website (the job I have now was not posted on any job board). Good luck!

  26. Retail Lifer

    I had a couple of great interviews for a job with less pay (but manageable) and a MUCH easier commute, but the insurance is going to be twice what I pay now. That’s a no go when coupled with the pay cut. I’ve been advised on here before not to ask about insurance early on in the process, but I just wasted more time off on something that ultimately won’t work out. I know it’s bad form, but I really need to get this info up front. I’ve found insurance ranges from $40 to $350 per month…and the negotiation range isn’t normally that high to account for the upper end.

  27. Ali

    How can I best decide where to spend my money for professional development when I’m underemployed and can’t put in hundreds of dollars a month? I decided the other day to try and change up my strategy a little since it’s been a year of searching and I still don’t have an offer after several interviews. Since I would like a job in marketing or communications, here are the options I’ve come up with:

    -Adobe Creative Cloud membership: Adobe programs are in demand for a lot of these jobs, so it might be worth it for me to download the software and teach myself.

    -Lynda.com: I know this has been talked about on AAM before, and it looks like a valuable resource for me to pick up on extra skills such as email marketing. Plus I’ve read really good reviews on it. Downside being that some employers may not care that I’m teaching myself things because I didn’t use them in a job setting.

    -LinkedIn Premium: An ex-boss suggested this to me, as he has a Premium account, but I am mixed on how necessary it really is. The ability to send InMail would be great, though.

    In order to have one of these things, I am dropping my membership to a freelance writers’ site that’s currently $25 a month. I just don’t see myself going the freelance route. Much as I’ve tried to get excited about it, going it alone scares me and I can’t seem to get over that fear. In the end, I’d rather have an employer and benefits.

    1. Christy

      It seems to me like your skills are sufficient to get you to the interview stage. I assume you’ve read Alison’s interview guide. I wonder if there is a way for you to work on your interview skills. Could you benefit from joining Toastmasters or something similar?

      1. Ali

        I have tried practicing my interview skills. In fact, one of the last rejections I got, I got feedback that I interviewed well but they took a more experienced candidate. So while more practice is always beneficial, I like to think that means I’m fairly proficient.

        1. Christy

          That’s great! I don’t think professional development is going to help with seeming more experienced, though. In that case, I think Ad Astra and fposte have great advice.

    2. Retail Lifer

      Coursera has free courses, and for $35 (I think?) you can get a “badge” for your LinkedIn page. I don’t know how impressive that is, but it’s a one-time fee that’s not too bad.

    3. Ad Astra

      I think LinkedIn Premium is going to be a waste of your money. Adobe Creative Cloud or Lynda.com might be worth the investment, but only if you think you’ll be able to produce some kind of sample document to show what you’ve learned. And only if you know you’ll have the discipline to actually do the lessons regularly, which was always an issue for me.

      If you have the time, I’d encourage you to seek out volunteer positions that involve writing or marketing. Helping your local animal shelter (or Boys and Girls Club or whatever charity) with social media or some basic marketing could get your some relevant experience while you’re doing a day job that’s unrelated.

    4. fposte

      I think that it would be a mistake to sink money into something unless you knew how it would benefit where you wanted to go. For instance, if you’re looking to apply in a particular area that you’re fairly strong in and you know that they’re seeking people who know Access and you don’t, a lynda course on Access could make sense. Just taking one because people seem to like it and it might look good on your resume wouldn’t.

      Self-taught or self-initiated coursework can soften a reservation, but it’s not going to have huge value (it’s not the same as doing it for work), so I’d recommend being both strategic and realistic about spending on it.

    5. Lizabeth

      You “might” be able to pick up an older version of Adobe’s Creative Suite that doesn’t require a Cloud membership but it may be more than you want to pay for it – check eBay. A lot of people on the forum I read were not happy about Adobe’s business model change (including me, have 5.5 at home and still on 4 at work with no chance of an update there anytime soon). You might consider taking an actual class at a community college where you’ve got access to the programs and computer labs.

      1. Dynamic Beige

        I’m with Lizabeth. Seriously, if you’re going to drop a $25/month membership because you don’t think you want to do it, with Creative Cloud, you’ll be paying potentially a lot more… and you have to keep paying it if you want to use the tools. I think there’s a 30 day (it might be longer) free trial. But, if you’re not sure, just try to find old NIB (new in box) versions on eBay of the things you want to try. There’s lots of stuff out there for old versions. I’m pretty sure if you bought Photoshop 7, you could pick up a used copy of Photoshop 7 Wow! Book — uh, huh you can buy it for $0.01 + $3.99 shipping — if you prefer to work from books.

        There are also sites like Udemy that offer online video training. If you sign up, you get on their newsletter and they often have times when all (or most) of their courses are offered for $10 lifetime access. There were 516 paid results and 58 free ones on a search for Photoshop. With Lynda, I think you pay a membership fee per month and you get all the courses, with Udemy, you pay for the courses you want to take once (OK, twice — one I signed up for recently upgraded and I had to pay an additional $10 to get the new stuff)

    6. Headachey

      Also, for lynda.com, see if your local public library system gives you access to this – mine does, and I’ve found some of the courses to be quite helpful. Nothing I’d list on a resume as an accomplishment or skill (if I haven’t used it in the workplace), but definitely a way to beef up my understanding of a new program.

    7. Julianne

      Free certification/online training is offered by Google Analytics, Hootsuite (I think you might have to sign up for a free trial, but you can complete the course in that time) and Hubspot (Inbound marketing). These aren’t going to magically get you a job, but will give you some insight into the tools marketers use. Plus, free! If you are looking for volunteer ops, check out Catchafire. Good luck!

      I am exploring the freelance route – would you mind sharing the name of the site? Thanks!

    8. grumpy career changer

      Some public libraries offer Lynda.com access (not just onsite, but if you log in through the library’s website). My library does this — but you have to log in through the library’s site, not through the Lynda.com organizational login page. Might be worth checking out.

  28. Anoninterviewer

    I’m supposed to interview someone whose resume I personally would have passed over. I’m not seeing the amount relevant of experience we normally look for to fill this position, and the couple years of related experience this person does have was 4+ years ago. I’m a bit baffled how it made it through screening for an experienced level position in our group. Her skill sets and job history as reported on the resume is mostly in a totally different area from what we do.

    *scratches head*

    1. PurpleMonkeyDishwasher

      Can you talk to whoever made the call that she would be interviewed beforehand to find out what they saw in her that warranted interviewing? Maybe that’ll help inform your conversation with her.

    2. Ad Astra

      If you haven’t already, I’d talk to whoever decided to interview this candidate. Maybe they know something about the candidate that isn’t on her resume, or she comes highly recommended by someone important, or your colleague is really interested in some specific skill or experience the candidate has that you find less interesting or important. Or, maybe there’s a dearth of truly impressive applications coming in? Your colleague might have some good insight, and you’ll feel better if you’re on the same page.

      1. Anoninterviewer

        I talked to the HM but it was before I got the candidate’s materials. I assumed the relevant experience was present experience. I think you and Purple (above) have the right idea though, and I’ll need to revisit to get more information not just on the candidate but what work/role she’s see a new hire taking on. The HM might be thinking of assigning this person work that she thinks fits well with this person’s different experience.

        This is a good lesson on why interviewers should be reading at least the resume and doing some prep before going into an interview. Based on the information I have I want to ask some different questions or go in a slightly different direction with some of the questions I would normally ask someone with typical experience.

        It’s entirely possible this person got laid off 3 years ago, and has been taking advantage of her experience from her first career as a widget maker to stay employed while looking for another job in her second career as a tea pot spout designer. That’s what the latest portion of her job history reads like to me. There is a period about 16 years in one career, then a clear transition that lines up with getting a second degree and then 5 years working in various roles for two companies in my industry, and then all heck breaks loose.

        After writing the above paragraph, I did a quick search, and her last relevant employer cut 20% of its workforce the same year she left that job. Ouch.

    3. fposte

      Happens pretty commonly in committee situations, I think. I like the idea of talking to whoever it is that moved the application along–sometimes they have a perspective that you’re not seeing.

        1. fposte

          Could be, but in my hiring committee experience it’s pretty common to have people to see the pool in really different ways and prioritize things differently.

        2. Anoninterviewer

          That did cross my mind, but this hiring manager has been up front previously about any pre-existing relationship she’s had with a candidate. So I don’t think it’s the likely case here.

  29. Elizabeth

    Happy Friday all!

    Good news: I scored a first (Skype) interview with a great company that produces a very popular video game. I don’t play this particular game, though my boyfriend does, so I’ve learned a bit about it through osmosis, and obviously I’ve been reading up a lot more (as well as sitting in on BF’s games and completing the tutorial) in the last couple days since getting the phone call. Interview is first thing Monday morning.

    The job posting mentioned being a big fan of the game as being important, and while I made it clear that I’m not super-familiar with it but am willing and eager to learn, I’m still nervous that I’m out of my depth and I’m going to get some obscure game-related questions thrown at me.

    On the other hand, they know I don’t have a ton of experience, and presumably if that was an insurmountable hurdle, they wouldn’t have set up an interview with me. And if this job does require minute understanding of the game right off the bat, I’m probably not the best fit anyway.

    I guess I’m not so much asking a question as seeking some reassurance for my pre-interview nerves. :)

    1. voluptuousfire

      Keep in mind that they brought you in for an interview because your resume shows you’re qualified. Don’t worry too much!

    2. Lucky

      I’ve worked in games, and in my experience “being a big fan of the game” can just mean “being one of us” which is more about fit than being a player, and being able to connect with your player base. I’d be straight up about having only begun to play the game, but demonstrate your knowledge of the culture surrounding the game. If it’s an mmorpg, talk about player dynamics, connectivity, in-game currency – whatever aspects of the game that would be particularly important to your role. If it’s fantasy based, see if you can throw in a Game of Thrones reference (if you’re a fan). Check out message boards that discuss the game (i.e., Reddit – ugh) and see what’s important to the fans.

      1. Elizabeth

        Thanks! It’s actually an event coordinator role, so I’d be be handling logistics for recruiting events, “community events” (tournaments), etc. So deep content knowledge of the game probably isn’t AS important were I in software development or something, but obviously I’d want to develop a working understanding of the game and the community, so I could gain an understanding of how to make those events better. And this company is apparently really good about encouraging development as a gamer (daily optional game play, a personal gaming fund of a few hundred dollars a year per employee, etc.), so were I to get the position, I’d definitely take advantage of those perks.

        Reddit (totally agree with the ugh, though) is a good thought. Obviously, I’m trying to get BF to download as much info as possible over the next couple days and get his (and his buddies’) insights on what could be done better. Just hoping it’s enough to get me through, but what will be will be. :)

        1. misspiggy

          Do you look at the Warframe community videos on YouTube? Their community people make a point of playing through the game online and really showing they know every bit of the player experience. So as long as you showed keenness to get into the game as a player that might cut it.

          1. Elizabeth

            That’s what I’m thinking. I made no secret of my novice status in my cover letter, but I figure if I go in with some working knowledge of the game and make it clear that I’d definitely be ready and excited to learn more, that’s the best I can offer; I’m not going to be an expert in 48 hours. And if being an active, dedicated player of the game really is necessary for the position right off the bat, then well, it wasn’t meant to be. :)

            I haven’t looked into Warframe, but I’ll definitely do so this weekend. Thanks!

        2. T3k

          Ohhh, lucky you to get an interview! (been trying to get a job with local game developers for a few years now)

          I would caution you though to not let opinions detract from trying to learn as much as you can about the game. While having some criticism about a game is ok, they’ll probably be turned off if you give a huge list to the point it sounds like they’d need to re-do the whole game if you were the decision maker. However, since it seems your BF enjoys the game, you’ll probably get some good opinions from him on it. Ideally, I’d suggest playing the game all the way through to get a feel for it, if you have the time.

          1. Elizabeth

            No, I completely understand. I should have probably prefaced the “tell me what could be improved” bit by the fact that I looked on Glassdoor and it turns out someone who had interviewed for this position reported that “How could this year’s championship tournament be improved over last year’s?” was one of the questions. Who knows if/when in the process it makes an appearance, but I wanted to have some ideas ready just in case. :)

            And I’ve definitely been scouring everything I can about the game when I have free moments. Like I said, this is an event coordinator position, so I’m especially focusing on that side of things (though still trying to get in-game as much as my limited experience allows :)).

            Thanks, everyone, for your help and good thoughts!

    3. TinyPjM

      hello! fellow games industry person here. you’ll do great as long as you make it clear you have done some research, and can talk about it at least on a slightly below the surface level. we hire a ton of people who do not play games, but the ones who can at least talk about them (or make it clear they have attempted to play ours) stand out in a very positive way.

      good luck! i have a feeling i know which company this is, and if you got an interview at all, you’ve already impressed them :)

      1. Elizabeth

        No, I completely understand. I should have probably prefaced the “tell me what could be improved” bit by the fact that I looked on Glassdoor and it turns out someone who had interviewed for this position reported that “How could this year’s championship tournament be improved over last year’s?” was one of the questions. Who knows if/when in the process it makes an appearance, but I wanted to have some ideas ready just in case. :)

        And I’ve definitely been scouring everything I can about the game when I have free moments. Like I said, this is an event coordinator position, so I’m especially focusing on that side of things (though still trying to get in-game as much as my limited experience allows :)).

        Thanks, everyone, for your help and good thoughts!

      2. Elizabeth

        Ahh, replied to the wrong comment! Anyway, thank you! This made me feel better. Apparently the hiring process here is a long one, and the odds are against me, but yeah, based on what I’ve heard, I feel really lucky just to have gotten an interview. :)

  30. I am now a llama

    Advice please :) Putting together a profile section, based on Alison’s recommendation. Please weigh in and let me know if this sounds ok:

    Trustworthy and passionate individual with an excitement for building lasting relationships with customers and colleagues. Praised by managers on performance evaluations for great attention to detail and proactive communication.

    And then I have Key Achievements:
    -achievement A
    -award x
    -award y
    -able to translate complicated technical concepts to simple terms for executive management

    Any edits? All advice appreciated!

    1. misspiggy

      Great start! Alison might recommend you change the adjectives about how you feel to adjectives about what you do or the skills you have. Also, you might want to highlight strengths that come across as more ‘above and beyond’ than detail or communication. Not saying these are bad things to talk about, but can you describe which precise behaviour or skillset really sets you apart from others in these areas? I find it can help to write this kind of stuff out in a long document to get at the really distinctive things you offer, and then condense it back down.

    2. Hrm

      Re: “Trustworthy and passionate individual with an excitement for building lasting relationships with customers and colleagues. Praised by managers on performance evaluations for great attention to detail and proactive communication”.

      I don’t think summaries are a thing anymore, but wait to see how Alison responds.

      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        Summaries are a current thing. They’re what has replaced objectives. I agree with misspiggy’s feedback above — you want it to be less subjective/less generic (something lots of people might say about themselves).

    3. JPixel

      Can you elaborate on what kind of jobs you are looking for? (To us, not actually in the summary). I think the key achievements sound great but the summary sounds vague – these are things that many people would say about themselves. And can I just say that “able to translate complicated technical concepts to simple terms for executive management” is such a helpful skill!

  31. LizB

    Can I just vent about employers that interview you and then never get back to you? I had an interview two weeks ago, and they said they’d be making decisions within a few days. At this point, I obviously didn’t get the job… but I haven’t heard a single thing from them. Not even a form email. You have a big fancy online application system, I am 100% certain there is a “Send Mass Rejection Email” button somewhere in there. Grrr.

    On the plus side, I found a job posting yesterday that is a) at an organization whose work I follow and really admire, b) exactly in line with my skills, experience, and interests, and c) the hiring manager is someone I’ve had an informational interview and multiple other interactions with in the past. I kind of flipped out when I saw it, and applied immediately. Hopefully I’ll hear something soon! *crosses fingers like whoa*

    1. Ad Astra

      I’m still waiting to hear back from a company I interviewed with in March. Fingers crossed! ;)

      1. College Career Counselor

        I’m still waiting (not really) to hear back from an organization I interviewed with in June.

        Of 2012.

    2. voluptuousfire

      Yep! Had this same situation recently. Long story short, I had to follow up twice with a company to get a response. Needless to say I won’t be applying with them again.

      I also had a job come up in my Indeed search for a similar role that I had applied for back in March and had gotten a second interview for but didn’t pursue to scheduling conflicts and a temp gig extension. It was funny timing because I had checked the same company’s website (I kept an eye on it because I liked what they were doing) the same afternoon and didn’t see it. I applied for the new role and got a call and ended up being able to skip the initial screening because they remembered me from March and had a very positive impression (!) of me. I had a call with the HM for the role and it went smashingly. I hopefully should hear next week.

    3. Jennifer

      Hah, I had an interview with one org and never, ever heard back from them–but did get a rejection letter from the other job I applied for there. I can only assume the first group told them I sucked.

    4. CMT

      It’s so rude when companies do this! I’m sorry these people are jerks (about this particular thing, at least).

    5. Sara

      Right? I went through three rounds of interviews with an employer, culminating about a month ago, and haven’t heard a single word from them since then – and that’s after two emails and a phone call (appropriately spread out). In my field, no contact for a month basically means I know I didn’t get the job (we move quickly since most hiring is done over about a 3 month period every year) – and I can deal with that. But I find it so freaking rude that after I spent so much time prepping for, traveling to, and actually participating in the interview process that they don’t have the decency to let me know I wasn’t selected.

    6. JenGray

      Not sure why/when this became the trend but companies don’t like to get back to candidates. Also, I am not sure when this because a trend but horrible rejection letters are becoming common place- google rejection letters and you can come up with a good example (they don’t have to be long letters either). But I applied for a receptionist job one time and got a letter back saying that I didn’t have experience as a receptionist so would not be getting an interview when at the time I actually I had 8 years as a receptionist.

    7. Communication is key

      Seriously. Yes, this. One of my biggest pet peeves. It doesn’t have to be overly personalized, but just a little something to let me know you’ve moved on would be helpful.

    8. Ann O'Nemity

      Ugh, I hate it when companies never follow-up after an interview.

      My worst experience was when my “rejection” came in the form of a newsletter with an article celebrating their new hire. Yep, they never followed up after the interview but they added me to their mailing list.

  32. Sunflower

    Any advice for how to network in a city when you don’t live there? I’m finding that my applications for jobs outside of my city are just getting thrown in a virtual trash box when I apply online. I only live 1.5-2 hours from the city I’m looking in so while physical networking events aren’t impossible, they certainly aren’t ideal. My university has a very large alumni association so I’m definitely looking through there

    Also has anyone had luck with virtual networking events? I have done a few through my university but not much came of them

    1. Lost in France

      Do you belong to any communities or alumni groups that might be active on social media? I’m in a few alumni groups on Facebook and people will often post questions about jobs, connections, moving to a new city or country, etc. I’ve also heard of people successfully making connections on Twitter, but that may only work in certain industries.

    2. Ad Astra

      Your name and the fact that your alumni association is doing virtual networking events makes me wonder if we belong to the same alumni association. But then, it’s quite possible that a whole bunch of alumni associations are doing virtual networking lately.

      Do you know people in your new city who could keep an eye out for you? Are you mentioning your plans to relocate in your cover letter? Might there be one or two especially valuable networking events in this new city that would be worth the drive?

  33. MousyNon

    I have an interview next week with a top-10 company that, according to glassdoor reviews, seems to micromanages their employees to the point of infantalization (managers can remote into a subordinates PC at will and track when you’re typing/on the phone/etc, the entire company can see when you’re busy/working remotely/available with no direct employee control).

    I know glassdoor (like any review site) is going to skew negative since people with bad experiences are more likely to write reviews than people with good experiences, but I do still want to ask about this in the interview, since working in a corporate culture obsessed with perceived “time theft” is definitely a deal breaker for me.

    Any suggestions on how to phrase a question for the hiring team so I can get the information I need without coming off like an employee hoping to slack off and watch netflix all day?

    1. LQ

      How about something like just covering what a day in the job is like or what kind of regular interactions with the manager are like?

      Also the remoting into pcs is super ish. But the entire company can see when you are busy/avail this might just be a baked in tool like Lync that syncs up with your Outlook calendar that the company uses and then locks down employees from fidgeting with the settings on. (We have that and someone freaked out about it until I pointed out that it’s not magic, it just sees what is on your calendar, which anyone can see if you are free or busy anyway.) Sometimes might be totally gross and some might just be people not understanding tools and going OH and they also are watching you and they totally know when you are free or away from your computer or in a meeting.

    2. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

      We just had this happen the other week.

      There’s a (true) negative pattern in some of our Glass Door reviews, albeit presented more negatively than it actually is because of who was writing the reviews. The statement, however, is factual.

      We were interviewing someone at management level and when it came time for her questions, she asked us right out, “I read this in glass door, can you tell me about this”.

      I happened to be one of two people who was in this, her first interview. This was *great*, just asking the question so we could address it, rather than trying to suss out or guess.

      We answered honestly what she could expect.

      The happy additional note here is that not only did we have her back for a 2nd interview, we offered her the job and she accepted!! This was such a hard hire for us, we’ve been looking for months and she was the perfect fit for the job. Imagine if she didn’t just ask the question and give us a chance to give a direct answer.

  34. Parking issues - WWYD?

    Parking in our building ramp is not great – the spaces are narrow and often awkward to get into due to the placement of the support columns. Our company policy is that employees are not supposed to park in the first row of spaces closest to the door (these spots are labeled “office/visitor parking”) so that those spots are available for visitors to the building. I saw one of our employees park in one of these spaces this morning. Would you report this to our mutual manager?

    1. Nanc

      Nope. You have no idea why they used the space. They may be sick or injured and have permission to use those spaces for the time being. They may have brought something heavy and carried it in and moved their car later. Maybe they had car trouble and parked before the car died and blocked the aisle. Let it go.

    2. Sunflower

      I totally get the desire to do this but I wouldn’t unless it becomes a habit and visitor spots fill up so they no longer have somewhere to park. I don’t know if your manager would even care if you reported it. I know mine wouldn’t

      1. Parking issues - WWYD?

        FWIW, it was the last open visitor spot in the row.

        I don’t make a habit of monitoring my coworkers’ parking habits, but our office is literally plastered with reminders about where not to park – it is the Big Boss’s pet peeve.

        1. Elsajeni

          If it’s the Big Boss’s pet peeve, I’d leave it to her to pay attention to and enforce it. I wouldn’t even mention it to the coworker unless I thought there was a chance they’d somehow missed all the reminders.

  35. SandrineSmiles (France)

    I need to slap my unemployment advisor xD .

    In France, when you find yourself unemployed, you have to enroll with “Pôle Emploi” . Said agency just makes sure you look for a job, you have to update every month, things like that. This isn’t a problem, they want to make sure you don’t cheat the system to keep the benefits.

    My former agency was one hour away. People from my area were transferred to an agency over two hours away and I discovered that they have a “100% web” solution. Ah, that’s my jam, I thought. Hmm.

    What I didn’t think about was the fact that, with this solution, it was more likely that they’d send me offers I HAVE to apply to. New advisor did just that. She didn’t speak with me other than tell me my resume wasn’t available on the site, boom right away without discussion she sent me something to apply to.

    Hmm… Lady… How about we talk, even through e-mail ? I don’t want to lose my time or yours. So I applied like the directions said (but thankfully I’m pretty sure I won’t get called) .

    Oh well! Let’s hope I get along with the advisor haha.

    1. misspiggy

      Just be thankful you’re not in the UK, where people are routinely cut off from all welfare for months, for things like applying for the dictated number of jobs each week, but not realising the jobcentre week goes from Thursday, so they ended up doing more in one week and not enough the following week. Or for not attending a mandated jobcentre interview because a mandated job interview clashed with it, despite informing the jobcentre. Yes we have had a few deaths from starvation.

  36. Jerzy

    What are people’s thoughts on going back to work for a previous employer after only being gone a few months?

    Some background: I left a government job I really liked working with people I adored back in March for a new opportunity in the private sector that was 1) much closer to home, 2) provided me with a 50% pay increase, and 3) seemed to offer me a position with more autonomy and possibly more opportunities for advancement. I’m content enough at my new job, but I happened across a job posting with a local nonprofit that I felt I HAD to apply for, and I wanted to let my old manager know I wanted to list him as a reference. He saw this as an opportunity to try to get me back. Who knows if he’ll be able to work out something at the salary I want and with the ability to work from home or a local field office (at least some days), but would it look bad to go back to an employer so quickly, like I just took this new job to leverage a better deal? I also worry about my former co-workers somehow resenting me for leaving and coming back in (likely) a high position, or even a contractor.

    Again, nothing’s happened, but my old boss is quite tenacious when he wants something, and so I can’t write this off entirely as a pipe dream.

    1. fposte

      I think it’s fine as long as you didn’t leave because of dissatisfactions that still exist and they can deliver on what they’re promising–or hoping to promise–you to lure you back. That’s how people in some sectors rise.

      1. fposte

        Oh, crap, I totally ignored that you’ve only been in your current job since March. And I think one reason I ignored it is that you’re not discussing the effect on your current job when you talk about your decision.

        And looking more thoroughly, I think there might be some soul-searching involved here. You’ve been there four months and you *had* to apply to an opening and are now considering walking for yet another opportunity? Have you not really emotionally “broken up” with your former job, since the people there are the one you’re most worried about?

        I don’t think returning to the old employer is itself a big deal; I think that Sunflower is right that you’ll take a hit reputationally at the new job, and I also think you might be in a general shopping mode that it would be good to understand in case you find yourself still interested in exciting opportunities after you leave where you are.

    2. Sunflower

      I’m split on this. Obviously you know your old employer, you liked your old job. I can see where the desire to go back is coming from but
      1. Realize you’re probably burning a bridge at your new job. Although gov’t jobs can take a long time for things to move along so who knows how long you’ll have been at your ‘new’ job once an actual offer comes through
      2. I can’t speak for every employer but my friend is a recruiter and she has always told me it’s bad to do this. Regardless of what actually happened, people will always think what they want. I wouldn’t worry about your coworkers as much as your manager who might be thinking you’ll leave again once a better offer comes to the table.

      This is also just my opinion but your old manager probably thinks you’re unhappy in your new job since you are already applying for other ones(even if it was just a once off thing) so who knows what kind of deal he’ll actually come back with. Is there a reason you are already considering leaving your new job?

    3. JenGray

      I am not a fan of taking counter offers because nothing really changes from when you worked there. Also, nothing is every guaranteed unless you have a contract. I once took a counter offer from an organization and nothing was ever the same after that and the person who actually convinced me to stay (my boss’s boss) 1) lied about why he wanted me to stay and 2) I actually found out later was bad mouthing me & my coworker to other professionals in our field. My point being that you really take a gamble when you do this.

  37. Lunar

    This may seem like a silly problem, but how do I deal with my boss’s jokes? They aren’t offensive or anything like that, its just that I don’t really find them funny and they happen over and over. Often it is just things like sarcastically commenting on how “great” the cafeteria food is or asking about the traffic on my commute (I walk to work). I usually smile and sometimes offer a jokey response back, but they get so old day after day.

    Sometimes the comments relate to my position – like jokingly asking my “permission” to do things like take time off (when I am the lowest ranking person and he is my boss) or joking about adding to my job title or giving me a raise because of how much I do around the office (this is always a joke, and he has mentioned in the past that he purposefully does not mention things like this in front of others because he doesn’t want them to suggest giving me a raise or anything like that). I am pretty overwhelmed with work and underpaid and I’m unhappy with my job for many reasons so these comments bother me. I don’t think it is worth saying anything about them, but I worry that not reacting to his jokes in a super positive way is making me seem negative and grumpy. We are in a very small office, so we are often only interacting with each other. Do you think it is okay for me to be unresponsive about the jokes and just focus on work? Or do I need to respond in a similarly lighthearted way even though I’m not feeling it at all? (For the record: I’m not super serious and I love a good joke – I just don’t find his funny at all).

    1. TheExchequer

      I think the irritation with the jokes is a symptom. (I bet they would bother you a lot less if you were happy and paid better).

      I don’t know if you can get away with being completely unresponsive about the jokes. Depends on your relationship with him and what kind of person he is. Some people would be fine with a tight lipped smile and eye roll, some people would get all hurt that you didn’t think they were the next Seinfeld.

    2. Tomato Frog

      You might try responding politely but as if he means what he says. “How was the commute?” “Good, thanks.” Then bring up work topic. If he explains it was a joke, you can say, oh, right, sorry. I have a cousin who’s this way naturally and she sometimes seems like a doof, but never a jerk.

      1. Tomato Frog

        But yeah, I don’t think you need to act amused. Bemused and distracted is fine.

    3. Not So NewReader

      The one thing I would consider hitting is the jokes about your job/title/pay. I would try something like this: “You know it bothers me when you joke about my job/title/pay. I work hard and I have enough work for two people [0nly say this if this is true]. So it’s disconcerting to me to hear these type of jokes. I would appreciate it if you could cut back on those jokes.”

      Personally, I think that people who repeat the same jokes all the time are tired people. They don’t even realize how much they are repeating themselves.

  38. cuppa

    I got turned down for a job this week and I’m pretty bummed. I was really excited about the opportunity, and I worked really, really hard to prepare for the interview (which went SO well). It’s hard to know that you did everything you could and it still just didn’t work out. It’s been hard to find jobs in my field and in my area lately, so it’s not as easy to just let go and focus on the other irons in the fire, because there just aren’t any.

    1. Jennifer

      I second all of your pain, same thing happened to me last week. It really, really sucks. And yeah, I have no irons in the fire either and no hope of any now.

    2. Not So NewReader

      That sucks. I am sorry to hear this. I hope you give yourself some kind of reward this weekend because you really knocked yourself out for this one. Take the time to grieve and take the time to pat yourself on the back for the parts that went right.
      I hope this picture changes for you very soon.

  39. I am now a llama

    Separate question! How do you get started in/ find a government job? Is there a separate job listing site?

    I’m interested to explore this avenue but not sure where to start.

      1. Chrissi

        And pay VERY close attention to how to apply – if you are missing anything, you won’t be given an interview, and they will not open the listing again. I only say this because I’ve known too many people that screwed up the materials they needed to provide, and then got ticked off that they weren’t given another chance.

        1. I am now a llama

          Does this also apply to qualifications? Or would I be able to apply for a reach position?

          1. Chrissi

            That’s hard to answer. There is usually a part of the job vacancy announcement w/ required qualifications (like 21 credit hours of statistics or whatnot), and then usually some more soft skills type things – those are absolutely required. Then there’s another section where they will put other skills they’d like, but that are not required. Generally, the only things you HAVE to have are the college classes or any certifications that are listed.

            After you apply, you can check the status of your application online and they will let you know if you’ve been “referred”, which means the HR people sent your application on to the hiring manager and you will get an interview. So, even if you apply for some “reach positions”, you’ll know the outcome fairly quickly.

        2. Chrissi

          BTW, usajobs is only for federal positions.

          Also, every vacancy announcement has an HR person down as a contact (it’s usually to the right side of the screen in the announcement). As a matter of habit, I always contact that HR person after I’ve submitted my documents to make sure they got every page of every document I scanned. Some of them are more receptive to this than others, but you’d hate to miss out on a job because their printer jammed when they were printing out your transcript or something.

    1. Jerzy

      Most states also have separate sites for their civil service positions, and each one operates differently. Most you have to take a written test, and then if you pass you get put in a pool of candidates and are interviewed if an actual position opens up.

      1. Chronic Snacker

        Then to make it even more fun, there’s county specific and city specific government sites, and each of them have their own application process. Just follow their instructions to the T on info requested from you.

        But also, they take a while to get through, so don’t give up!

    2. LQ

      For my state:
      State are on the state jobs site.
      City and county – varies from place to place – they often also list on the state sponsored jobs site.
      I’d highly recommend checking to see if your local employment/unemployment people sponsor a job site of some kind, often whatever this job board is will either let everyone post free or will let all government entities post free, but it is very often a way government entities will reach out.

      Be really specific on all their requirements.

      When you get called for an interview give answers that are very complete and take notes on the parts of the questions.

      Also? This can vary greatly from agency to agency.
      *does not include federal anything!

    3. AnotherFed

      USAjobs is the single web application place for federal government jobs, but you’ll also do well to reach out to any contacts you have in gov’t jobs for help. They’ll be able to tell you about any oddities their own organizations add to the process, and point out postings in their agencies. USAjobs is not a user-friendly site AT ALL, so it’s often very helpful to have someone on the inside tell you what jobs really are or point you to relevant jobs they know are posted. Lastly, the government is allowed to do a small number of non-competitive hirings (meaning no posting required), so they can recommend you for those or push your resume along to someone who might need skills you have.

  40. Anonymusketeer

    My boss sometimes says things that are borderline racist, classist, or sexist, and it’s starting to make me really uncomfortable. In my opinion, these comments are on the wrong side of the borderline and really are unacceptable, but obviously he sees them as harmless.

    It’s “small” things, like trying to imitate the Middle Eastern man who rented him a car, or comments like “And that’s why you’ll be working at McDonald’s forever,” or referring to the women in our department as “young lady.” He never outrightly disparages any group of people, but I don’t think his comments are funny or acceptable.

    If this were a peer, I might use Allison’s line about “I hope you’re not telling me this because you think I agree with you.” But I’m new on the job and he’s my direct supervisor, so I don’t feel comfortable calling him out. What should I do?

    1. CMT

      Ahhh that’s so annoying.

      The governor of my state recently introduced the commissioner of a department as “young lady” at a press conference. Not. Cool.

    2. Sunflower

      Usually just ignoring him will work. When things like this happen, just be super engrossed in your work like you didn’t even hear it. I also think raising your eyebrows is a good indicator of a visual ‘wow’

    3. LQ

      I think ignoring goes a long way here. As can playing a little dumb. “I’m sorry was that a joke? I don’t get it?” is my favorite but it’s also a little aggressive. Just not responding with any positive reinforcement can help. It’s unlikely to stop him, but it’s sometimes the best you can do it a spot where you are concerned about your job being on the line.

      The problem of course, is if he starts getting angry like why aren’t you laughing etc…But assuming he’s not that bad, just doesn’t see that it’s a problem it will help a lot to never give him positive reinforcement on the jokes. If you can just dead silence at the “punch lines”.

    4. Not So NewReader

      Sometimes a “don’t go there” said with a smile gets the point across. It’s helpful if you can get that phrase out quickly without missing a beat.

      Boss: blah,blah, blah.
      You: “oh, let’s not go there! hey, what about the monthly report on X when is that do?”
      [You say it, then you keep moving to a redirect.]

  41. Sachi

    Does anyone have advice on career trajectory/development advice for paralegals? I am coming up on 1 year at my firm as a litigation/business paralegal in DC. Disregarding the fact my role is underpaid, I’m also trying to figure out my possible next steps in terms of advancing professionally. I’d like to keep working in litigation, but I could work in transactional stuff too. I just want to know what are other non-paralegal type roles/tracks I could transition to after gaining some more experience. I’m 2 years out of undergrad with no plans to go to law school, but I’d like to work on a track with a decent amount of growth potential (none where I’m at). Any advice is welcome and appreciated in advance.

    1. PurpleMonkeyDishwasher

      Have you thought about going to a bigger firm? There are usually more opportunities for growth in that setting, since they’ll typically have multiple levels of paralegal (i.e., more senior paralegals who only work on the more complex projects, or paralegal managers who manage teams of paralegals, etc.). Is that the kind of growth you’re thinking about?

      1. Sachi

        That’s probably the next step I’ll take, but I’ve tried to do some research and I hear about working in litigation support / analyst / consultant type positions, but there doesn’t seem to be a lot of in-depth stuff (or even a lot of postings) about it. Same for lit tech/e-discovery, although I feel like I’d need a stronger tech background.. So far all the paralegals I’ve met through work have either gone to law school, or another firm, so I was wondering if anyone had stories of people who branched out into a different legal related field successfully (sans law school).

    2. Lucky

      Consider going in-house to a company’s legal department, especially if you can build your transactional skills. Especially at a large company, you’ll be able to move up and even out of legal, like into a business analyst or vendor management role.

      1. Abby

        I have 10 years paralegal experience, wanted out and can’t find a decent not entry level job. I would think hard about if you really want to spend your career doing this, and if not get out sooner rather than later.

      2. Anon369

        This. Look for finance companies that have in-house legal staff – there are a number of them in the DC area.

  42. Emilia Bedelia

    Here’s something I’ve been thinking about recently: I read something recently about the distinction between “No problem” and “You’re welcome” in response to “Thank you”, and how Milennials that use “no problem” are often poorly perceived by older adults who think it is disrespectful. I am a Millenial who uses “no problem” quite often myself, and I’m curious whether this is really something that people are concerned with. I’m not opposed to using “you’re welcome” if that’s what the culture demands, but is this just another reason the media has come up with of why my generation is terrible?

      1. Charlotte Collins

        I am, too. I think that the level of formality I’m trying for makes a difference. You can also try “My pleasure” if “You’re welcome” sounds like too much. Or “I was happy to do it” or “Happy to help” (unless you really weren’t). I’ve always liked the Spanish “De nada” (I think the English equivalent is “It was nothing”). In German class, I was taught to say “Bitte sehr,” which I think is pretty similar to “Very pleased to help.”

        1. Lllll

          I’ve been saying “my pleasure” lately but I worry it sounds a bit… obsequious? The thing is I am totally sincere! People are constantly apologizing and/or over-thanking me for doing my job; I just want to communicate that I’m happy to be doing it.

    1. Lunar

      I think this is so interesting! I am definitely a Millennial and use “no problem” all the time for everything and I’ve read different things on the subject. I tried switching to “you’re welcome” for a while, but it is such a hard habit to break. I do think it is one of those sensationalized things that are trying to pit generations against one another. Everyone knows what is meant by “no problem” and “you’re welcome”. I have been trying to be more mindful of not saying “no problem” when something really was a problem or I went out of my way to do something. I can’t speak to how it is perceived by my older colleagues, but I don’t think it should be a big deal.

      1. Pearl

        For me when something was a problem or I had to go out of my way to fix it, I try to say something like “I’m glad I could help” (since I also can’t get myself in the habit of saying “you’re welcome” – it just sounds/feels weird).

        None of my older coworkers have ever said anything about it to me if it bothers them. I know my grandma was very focused on saying specifically “you’re welcome” but I always took that as part of her dedication to formality in general.

      2. Renee

        I often say “Anytime.” I feels that it’s not overly formal but doesn’t get into whether what I’ve done is a problem. The reality is that, even if it is a problem, I’m willing to help anytime.

    2. nona

      Yes, pretty much.

      I think the problem (ha) with “no problem” is the implication that the other person’s request could have been an imposition. I don’t hear it that way, but there are some “opinionated” people who do.

      1. Natalie

        It’s so silly when people get that literal about one phrase but not whatever their preferred phrase is. You could say the exact same thing about “you’re welcome” – it implies that you’re not welcome by default, oh no!

        1. fposte

          Yeah, I think this is pretty common when a new pleasantry crops up and people haven’t absorbed it as just noise. I wouldn’t be crazy about “God be with you” but I’m fine with “Goodbye.”

    3. Anie

      I…always say “no problem.” Honestly, there’s something squicky when I say “you’re welcome.” It just feels weird. Of course np at it’s base is much less formal, but I’m rarely in a situation of strong formality where someone would thank me for something. No one has ever indicated it’s less than appropriate.

      1. fposte

        Don’t assume that’s proof it was always all right, though. Most of the time if it bugs somebody they’re not going to correct you. Alison has a post about this fallacy somewhere–I’ll see if I can find it.

      2. Ask a Manager Post author

        Here’s the post fposte is referring to:
        https://www.askamanager.org/2015/04/just-because-no-ones-complaining-doesnt-mean-your-behavior-is-okay.html

        People complain to Tom Sietsema, the Washington Post restaurant critic, about waiters who say “no problem” all the time! (Which I note not to say I agree with them, but just to illustrate that a decent number of people really dislike it.)

        I just searched for it, and actually he seems to hate it too:
        http://live.washingtonpost.com/ask-tom-06-06-12.html#2044536

    4. Ad Astra

      I’m a Millennial myself and “no problem” bothers me a little. The proper response to “thank you” is “You’re welcome” or “I’m happy to do it” or “Any time!” or something like that. “No problem” is what you say when someone is reflexively apologizing for something that doesn’t require an apology, like someone digging in their purse for 8 seconds at the cash register.

      That said, I don’t think less of people who have this extremely common habit. I never remember who, specifically, said this to me, and couldn’t possibly tell you which of my coworkers/friends say “no problem” and which say “you’re welcome.”

      1. Katie the Fed

        “Proper” is dependent on culture, and culture changes with time. In Australia, the response to “thank you” is “no worries!”

        I think it’s just something that’s changing with time.

        1. fposte

          Agreed. And it takes me back to one of my favorite linguistic moments, where a new Russian immigrant to Minnesota was asking his coordinator “What is this Ubicha?” They finally figured out it was the great Minnesotan courtesy “You betcha.”

    5. fposte

      Yes, there are definitely people who don’t like “no problem,” and I tend to encourage my younger staffers away from it.

      I don’t think it’s being used with the implications that bug people, but since it does bug some people and you’re in a situation where you want to get paid money, I’d stick to responses that don’t bug people.

    6. FD

      I don’t think it’s an issue in speech with your coworkers. However, I think it does sound less polished and isn’t how you want to sound if you were making a professional sales pitch or presentation.

    7. Arjay

      “No problem” is a huge pet peeve of mine, but while I’m annoyed at its use, it’s not something I associate with millennials. I limit myself to being annoyed by the individuals who say it, not by attributing it to an entire generation.

      1. LCL

        Yup. It is all about me; I hear ‘no problem’ as a snarky retort, but I know the person actually meant it as a polite response. It’s one of those grating habits, like the word ‘orientated’ when they meant oriented.

        1. fposte

          Though that’s regional (and also industry, I think); “orientated” is correct outside of the US.

        1. These are live servitors under transient control.

          I’d never heard of this as a “Millenial thing” either.

          I’m Generation X, so “no problem” brings back memories of Alf. I liked Alf (and still do) so I’ll sometimes say this. Although I won’t use the phrase “no problemo”, because that reminds me of Herb Tarlek from the television show WKRP. And I can’t deal with too much Herb-ness.

    8. afiendishthingy

      Hmm. I’m a Millennial but on the older side of the generation (born in 1984). I say something like “Sure, of course” when someone thanks me for something they really don’t need to thank me for because it’s my job, like a client thanking me for calling them. I say “no problem” a lot too, probably especially with coworkers. I think I use “you’re welcome” most when someone thanks me for doing something that was actually a favor, like feeding someone’s cats while they’re out of town. I suppose I understand that some people take “no problem” to mean it COULD have been a problem, but that’s not how I use it – I use it to imply that because there really isn’t a problem there’s no need to thank me.

    9. Hlyssande

      I also read the same thing and it’s very thought-provoking.

      I was born in ’82 and actually use both, but ‘no problem’ comes easier to me. ‘You’re welcome’ does feel sarcastic and condescending depending on the situation.

      As always, the media will jump on just about any opportunity to tell us that we suck. :(

    10. CollegeAdmin

      I used to always use “no problem,” and then decided that it sounded like I was minimizing my own contributions. I switched to saying, “you’re welcome” and suddenly realized how much I was doing, and I think my boss did too.

    11. LQ

      I try to go with “Happy to help.” when talking. Though I just over thank the person if it’s in email.

      Thanks for your help on this project.

      Thank you, I’ve had a great time working on it.

      But for people who think “no problem” is disrespectful there have to be some who think “you’re welcome” sounds condescending. But is that what the person means or are you just crabby because you didn’t want to the on the project to start with? It’s like the bitch eating crackers mode of generational “conflict.”

    12. Rat Racer

      I came here to write that people who are offended by the phrase “no problem” must not have many real problems to keep them occupied.

      But then again, I have a personal pet peeve about the phrase “no worries” because I am a constant worrier who tries hard not to worry so much all the time, so when I hear the phrase “no worries” I think “I wasn’t worried! Stop being condescending!”

      Then I have to remind myself that it’s an empty meaningless phrase and that the person who said it was not referring to my anxious temperament.

    13. Meadowsweet

      it’s the media assuming that anything ‘new’ must be because of the most recent generation to enter the workforce.

      I have heard that ‘no problem’ can be a problem in other countries or when US English is not the other person’s first language – the implication that the request might have been a problem is the problem.

      I try to vary it :) I mostly use “you’re welcome” for things that were or could have been significant effort, “no problem” for things that are an ask but not a big one, and “of course!/glad to help!” for little things that are little to no effort or that are integral to my job. Though I will sometimes change it up :)

    14. Not So NewReader

      Baby boomer here. I had bosses tell me that “older people” are offended by “no problem” and by “have a good one”.
      They think “have a good one” is a sexual reference.

      I did have a friend that could not wrap his mind around “no problem”. I said that “thank you” to me means that someone thinks I have applied extra effort on their behalf. Perhaps, I have put extra energy into something for them, but it was a pleasure for me… not a problem. I tried to encourage my friend to think of the phrase “no problem” as the last half of a sentence. “It was a pleasure to help you, it was not a problem at all.”

      Conversely, I have been told, “oh you don’t have to do that!” And I have responded with, “You might be technically correct about that, but I WANT to do this.”

  43. JQ

    Hey wise job people!

    I have spent the entirety of my career so far working in academic scientific research (first as a research tech, then as a doctoral student research assistant). I’ve done pretty well at it but I’m not interested in pursuing it further (academic positions are scarce and also I don’t really see the point), and finishing my doctorate seems like a natural time to make a transition to something else. So I am on a fact-finding mission about what kinds of jobs are out there! The transferable skills I’m particularly thinking about right now are: technical writing (I have spent a LOT of time documenting complex technical processes and writing descriptions of technical concepts) and project management (I manage complicated multi-step research projects concurrently and coordinate a lot of unpredictable moving parts). But I realize that “technical writing” and “project management” mean something more specific in the working world than just “writing about technical stuff” and “managing projects.” So, anyone in these kinds of positions willing to talk about their jobs and what specific experience and qualifications are actually needed for them?

    Just as an aside, the work chat open threads are my FAVORITE thing on AAM. I learn so much!

    1. voluptuousfire

      Depending on your doctorate, you may want to look into data scientist roles. It’s supposedly really hot right now and the majority of data scientists are phDs who have experience with data analysis and such. They’re quite in demand with start ups and large companies alike and starting pay is somewhere around 70k, if not more. Having a data background along with the ability to break down your results for the average person to understand, all the better.

      I interviewed for a position at a start up that offered post doctoral fellowships to phDs to become data scientists a few months back and did a bit of research to get a better idea of the market. :) That’s why I know a bit.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale

        Agreed. We recently hired a data analyst with an MA and a few years of experience, and she is amazing. I’m in brand/market research. We farm some of our work out to a PhD statistician, but as we’ve grown, we’ve needed someone in-house so much more. She does a lot of our basic analysis and her boss does a ton more– they advise on methods for studies and help us compile results, and having someone sit there with me and explain why a TURF came out the way it did makes my day and life so much better.

        At my old company, they laid off a ton of people because they’re moving to using data scientists in those roles. My former colleagues were doing basic analysis based on simple data, but companies like that one (a large media company) now need and want creative and complex ways to map out their business.

      2. Tau

        I have a PhD’d friend who is now a data scientist, and one of my rejections came with “but have you considered applying for our open data scientist role because you seem to be a great fit for it!” attached. So I also get the impression it’s a hot area right now where PhDs are in demand. I ended up going into software development, but although I’m pretty happy with that choice I didn’t get the impression my PhD was much of a bonus there.

    2. cv

      I’m not in those fields, but as someone who has switched fields/careers, had a resume full of transferable skills with no career direction, and who is currently in grad school, I’d suggest taking a look at your school’s alumni directory to get a sense for where other people from your field/department have ended up. Many alumni directories will have titles and organizations for at least some people, which can be useful information even if you don’t contact them. There may be industry jobs in your field that you don’t know about, or interesting directions that people have gone with education/skills similar to yours.

      I know one biochemistry PhD who’s working for the government on biofuels, a couple of others who went to consumer products companies, someone who’s a bench scientist of some sort at a pharma company, a civil engineer PhD who went to a tech startup that’s related to his subfield, an engineer who went to work for a law firm doing patent stuff, and probably others that I’m forgetting. Don’t label/think of yourself as “smart person with transferable skills but little office experience” because that’s going to land you in entry-level office job territory.

    3. ACA

      The other week I met with a just-graduating Chemistry PhD who’s going into investment banking – reviewing scientific companies/projects/products/etc to see if they’re worth investing in. Might be something worth exploring for you!

    4. Cath in Canada

      I’m a project manager / grant writer in academic scientific research.

      I’ve written about the grant side of things as a guest post on the Research Whisperer blog (link to follow). The PM stuff is really a continuation of the same theme – taking on the non-research tasks to free the researchers’ time. So I spend a lot of time tracking progress & spending against targets, making sure invoices get paid, writing progress reports, running meetings, tracking which papers/presentations/posters belong to which grants, making sure we maintain compliance with funder, IRB,& external dataset provider rules, coordinating sample submissions and processing, etc.

      People in my team have varied backgrounds. A lot of us have done research before (I have a PhD, and so do about half of my team, but it’s not necessary – although it’s helpful to know the nuances of how research labs work), but we also hire people straight from undergrad or masters, or from other sectors e.g. IT. A couple of people have formal PM certifications when they’re hired, but most of us learn on the job and take the PMP after a few years’ experience. The key things interviewers will be looking for are organisation skills, flexibility regarding everything except deadlines, an ability to prioritise, ability to work with academic egos (more of an issue in my last job than in my current one luckily), willingness to do some of the less interesting work with a good attitude, etc.

      Happy to answer any more specific questions, too!

  44. Anon for this!

    Just passing on two things my clueless boss said to me this week. We finally got permission to hire someone to help out with the workload. She actually said to me that one of the people who applied seemed pretty old, and she thought she should hire someone younger! I said whoa, you know there is such a thing as age discrimination, right? Her age has nothing to do with the ability to do this job, and you shouldn’t be considering it! The second stupid comment was, well, if I do hire her, I will only do so if she agrees to carpool with “Jane”. Again with the car pooling remarks. I have been shaking my head all week. Really? Until the company buys a car, pays for the insurance and puts gas in it, it is NOT my clueless boss’s business who rides with whom back and forth to work.

    1. TheExchequer

      Makes you hope said applicant has other offers and can turn your boss down, doesn’t it?

      1. Anon For This

        If I thought I could get away with it, I’d put little cards on the car windows of people who apply that say “RUN IN THE OTHER DIRECTION AND DO NOT TURN AROUND”.

  45. Microsoft Word Challenge

    OK, posting this for a coworker for any MS Word experts out there. She has a lengthy document that requires a number of different style sets. She created these and saved them in Styles. Whenever she opens this document, they are there. But when she opens a new document she doesn’t see them. She edits countless versions of this document and doesn’t want to click through and re-create a style for each section every time. Does anyone know how to set it up so that she always has them available to her in any document?

    1. Lore

      I suspect the way to do it would be to create the styles in a template rather than a document. Then she could attach the template to any document and as long as she checked the “update styles” check-box when attaching the template, the styles will automatically come through. It is possible to save any document as a template; it might be worth playing around with that feature before going through the work of re-creating all the styles. I think, perhaps, if she saved it as a template, then deleted all the actual copy, the styles should remain–but that might take some playing around.

      1. Microsoft Word Challenge

        I suggested exactly this but she brought up the point of how to update an existing file. What do you mean by attach a template to any document? You can open a document that already exists and add a template to it?

      2. Microsoft Word Challenge

        I had to add the developer ribbon, but this seems to have worked. Thanks!

        1. Lore

          Oh yes, sorry. I should have mentioned that. It’s enabled by default on our work machines so I always forget that’s not the standard configuration.

    2. Jerzy

      Sounds like she needs to create a template. Not sure how to do that myself, but I guarantee there are tutorials out there for free. Google is her friend here.

    3. FD

      This is most likely where it’s breaking down:

      1. Get her gallery set up like she wants it, with all the customized styles.
      2. Home > Styles > Change Styles > Save as Quick Style Set… > Name it whatever she wants (This is the part I think she’s missing.)
      3. Open a new document.
      4. Home > Styles > Change Styles > She should see her new style set in this list.

      1. FD

        If this doesn’t work, I would be happy to share my e-mail so she can contact me, I am a styles guru!

        1. Microsoft Word Challenge

          We don’t see a change styles option. I think she would LOVE to talk to a styles guru.

          1. Microsoft Word Challenge

            Though I don’t think she could share the document as it has sensitive company information.

                1. Microsoft Word Challenge

                  Thanks! I passed it on to her. She will put “Styles Guru” in the subject.

      2. Aunt Vixen

        This is what I was going to say. I’d throw in a screenshot if we could do that here. On my ribbon “Change Styles” is almost all the way to the right side of the Home tab.

    4. Michelle

      She’ll need to recreate the style, but when she does so, make sure that “New documents based on this template” is selected. Then it should appear in all new documents.

      By default, styles don’t carry across documents, but if you switch which item is selected it should hold.

      1. Microsoft Word Challenge

        She tried this also. What do you mean “switch which item is selected”?

        1. Microsoft Word Challenge

          She has “New documents based on this template” and then when she opens a new document that option is switched back to “only in this document”

  46. Apollo Warbucks

    I’ve had such a bad week if any other database nerds can spare some sympathy I’d be really grateful.

    I’ve spent hours arguing about:

    Data normalisation (No we really don’t need to keep the customers address 6 different times in 3 different places )
    Database level constraints (Yes we need them, yes they are important)
    Data types (Storing a number as text is dumb, and not right)
    Sensible unique keys (No it can not be a concatenation of name, zip code and phone number)
    Naming convention (Use reserved key words for database objects and I will want to hurt you)

    I can just about cope with these problems but you want to start writing application code before the requirement gathering has been done I really am going to lose my shit.

    1. Observer

      Who are you arguing with? Why do people who don’t know anything about database design get to argue with you about this?

      1. Apollo Warbucks

        Developers who write great application code but know apparently nothing about database design or how they function!

        1. Nashira

          They ought to be able to understand not naming objects with reserved keywords at the very least. That was like week two of my intro to C++ course: “Here’s the forbidden words. Never even try to use them for variables.” It’s a basic concept!

    2. Joss

      You have my sympathy. My databasing isn’t quite that high level, but I spent much of last week trying to explain that Access literally cannot do the things my boss wanted it to do while he nodded in supposed understanding and then carried on telling me to make it do impossible things.

      1. Apollo Warbucks

        Don’t get me started on asking a question and then ignoring the answer, there is nothing worse.

        I hate access with a passion but, what is it that you need it to do?

    3. Hlyssande

      Data normalization/standardization is a huge pet peeve for me. How do people not understand that if you do it right from the start, with the most complete information possible, it makes everything that comes afterward so much easier?!

      I work with a customer database where we need complete name/addressing information and you wouldn’t believe how many times people think that a company name and country are enough to pass trade compliance and restricted party screening.

      Not the same thing that you’re dealing with, but I can absolutely empathize. I’m also a primary tester for our customer setup application, so I’ve butted heads a ridiculous number of times with the Devs who don’t understand what a friendly user interface looks like and do things that aren’t in the requirements because they think they’re a good idea.

      1. Apollo Warbucks

        God yes data validation is a must, “shit in, shit out” is a good maxim and prevents having a bunch of meaningless junk that should be data.

        Devs that don’t want to listen are missing an important part of the job, you’ve got to write software the customer wants to use and is fit for purpose.

        1. Hlyssande

          Yes, exactly! Data standards are so freaking important to our business, yet everyone thinks they should get the exceptions for crap information.

          We’ve managed to wrangle out the build process well enough – now, the people who actually maintain the application (as in, are sort of super admins for the different groups that use it) get to sit with the PMs and Devs and decide what exactly is going into each build. There are still problems with ridiculous assumptions, but it’s so much better these days.

    4. Camellia

      I hear you. I spent my week dealing with a vendor and it went something like this:

      Me: I need the data type and length for that field.
      Vendor: It is derived.
      .
      .
      .
      Me: What value will you send me in that field?
      Vendor: It will be blank.
      Me: Really, truly blank? Or will it be nulls?

      So glad it’s Friday.

      1. Apollo Warbucks

        I made a similar joke the other day but,

        SELECT * FROM dbo.vendor WHERE vender.clue is not NULL

        (0) Rows returned

        I’m so glad it’s Friday too, I’ve just finished for the day and am off to the pub for serval well earnt pints.

    5. Joie de Vivre

      Storing numbers as text drives me right round the bend.
      Bonus points for when the data point appears in several different tables sometimes as a number others as text.
      Thank you, Dear Developers, for adding to my ever growing collection of grey hairs.

      1. Bea W

        One of the first projects I worked on had this issue. It was a PIA to standardize these for analyses. The worst part is that it was one of the key variables – the subject ID.

      2. Windchime

        We have a few data fields that we import into our data warehouse from our vendor’s system. They have an ID field called “[something]ID”, and right now it contains only numbers but is formatted on the vendor side as a VARCHAR. Which means that *we* have to format it as a VARCHAR, because if it can hold characters you can bet that someday they will pass us a character and we need to be ready for it.

        The vendor has also decided that the best format for PatientMiddleInitial is Varchar(208). Figure that one out.

    6. Natalie

      ARRRRGH, bad databasing bugs the crap out of me. I’m not actually a database nerd, but I am a user of the database. I want the address in ONE place, not 3 places where it’s all formatted slightly different and 3 other places where the addresses are different and now I don’t know which one is current. *head explodes*

      1. the gold digger

        How about this? I was in charge of getting all the customer and item data from 70 factories and three operating systems ready for converting to SAP.

        These were really old systems and all the text was free-form entry.

        Do you know how many ways there are to abbreviate “Texas?” Or “brown?” Or – anything? Do you know how hard it is to find all the sales made to Texas or Oklahoma or Florida if you don’t know all the ways to abbreviate those names? Bad data = no data.

        Even though the SAP project was cancelled after I was laid off (I knew they couldn’t do it without me), my team and I did a ton to make life easier by designing, implementing, and forcing, via a web interface for all new data entry, data standards for the legacy systems.

    7. Tau

      …I started learning database design two days ago and even I know how wrong most of those things are. *shakes head*

  47. Anonymous for this

    I just found out that one of my coworkers went to an out-of-town conference and bought his wife a plane ticket to accompany him with the company credit card. He then skipped out on the whole conference, claiming to be sick, but posted a bunch of pictures on Facebook of himself and his wife sightseeing in the city where the conference was held. What an idiot! The worst part is that I have never once been allowed to travel to a conference or training because it’s “not in the budget” for my position, but this guy gets to go to conferences at least once or twice per year on the company’s dime, and he just uses it as a free vacation.

    1. T

      I think this is actually pretty common. I have a friend who works in HR that goes to at least one out-of-town conference a quarter and never attends a single scheduled event. She would never charge her company for a second ticket but she’ll often take her husband or one of her girlfriends (they pay for the ticket) and just share her room. But she’s not dumb enough to post pics at the beach on Facebook during a work trip. Even if she went to beach after the events ended, it just doesn’t look good.

      1. Anonymous for this

        The boss found them on his own after he heard from someone else at the conference that this guy didn’t attend a single conference event. He also found evidence that the same thing happened at previous conferences.

    2. Cath in Canada

      whaaaaaat

      My husband’s accompanied me on a couple of work trips, and will again in November (TOKYO!!!!! So excited), and when he’s with me it makes me MORE likely to go to ALL conference events, because I don’t want it to look like I’m treating a work trip like a vacation.

  48. MayDay

    Not really sure if I’m looking for feedback (of course, it’s nice!), but I lost my flash drive in my purse (I think it fell out somehow) when we took visitors out for lunch in a coworker’s car. It had all my personal job stuff – job searches, cover letters, salary requests, resumes, W2’s and also some specific work projects that a few people work on.

    Apparently he found it in his car and gave it back to me yesterday. I asked how he knew it was mine and he said he looked in the folders and saw files with my name but didn’t look around. The files in the folders he was talking about have my name and “Cover Letter” or “Resume”. Apparently he also passed my flash drive around (to his boss & people), which I only found out when I asked him why there was extra stuff in my flash drive.

    Then I looked at the date accessed of some of my very personal files (salary, W2, resumes, cover letters, applications), and saw they had been open prior to me getting it back.

    Yes, I shouldn’t have lost my flash drive – I am really not sure how it fell out of my purse since I keep it zippered, but I also keep the zip drive on my desk. So maybe it’s all my fault.

    If you found a personal zip drive from work, what would you do with it? Ask around first, or check inside to see whose it is? Oddly, I found one last week as well but did not look into it – I asked around and then shipped it out to who it belonged to.

    1. Apollo Warbucks

      I would ask around first because there are only so many people in the car who could have dropped it it would be easy to ask people or send an email to the small group.

      Maybe you could look at password protecting or encrypting the drive in future?

      1. MayDay

        Yeah, maybe I will do that! I figured it was okay because people probably wouldn’t look through my files, but maybe I was expecting too much!

        1. Nashira

          Never ever ever assume that people will do the decent thing, when it comes to information security. This is a case where some paranoia will serve you well in the end

    2. Ad Astra

      I would either ask around or take a quick peek at the contents first, depending on my proximity to a computer. But it really wouldn’t take much poking around to discover who it belongs to if it contains all the documents you referenced. No need to click a document called “W-2” when there’s one called “Resume.”

      In the future, I would consider naming your flash drive “MayDay’s flash drive” and looking into installing a password or some kind of encryption. Or you could switch to a cloud-based platform like Google Drive, if it meets your needs.

      1. MayDay

        I did start to label my other flash drives, but not this one! Google Drive might work, but I’ll have to see how much data it can hold. I use Dropbox, but I don’t have much space there at all…

    3. Arjay

      We were taught in electronic security training that sometimes hackers will leave a flash drive in a parking lot, hoping that an employee will connect it to their computer to find out who it belongs to, and end up unleashing network havoc. I don’t know if that’s just an urban legend, but it convinced me enough that I would never connect a random flash drive to my system.

      That said, I’m not sure that if I had accidental access to salary information, I’d have enough self control not to take a peek.

      1. MayDay

        That’s true, when I think about it, maybe my coworkers wouldn’t have enough self control either. I must not have zippered my purse well :(.

      2. Nashira

        That’s a legitimate tactic, yup. Folks doing penetration tests will use it to gain access to networks the easy way, since most folks go “wonder what’s on here?” and plug it into their machine. And a pen test uses the same methods as attackers would… You shouldn’t ever plug random storage media into a computer you want to keep secure.

    4. Lillie Lane

      This coworker sounds dumb and rude (to snoop around and then lie about it). He should have asked you first about the flash drive (and any others in the car). If he just wanted to figure out quickly who to return it to, then he didn’t have to open any files if your name was clearly in the file names. Why on earth would he have to look through your W-2s and salary files? Ugh.

      1. MayDay

        Yeah :(. I think it’s even weird that he passed it around for people to use. If you don’t know whose item it is, why would you give it to someone else to use if it’s not yours?

        1. Lillie Lane

          Yeah…why was he passing it around? And why on earth did other people (including his boss?!?!) add stuff to the drive? What?? Don’t these people have their own? SMH.
          I actually do not like to use others’ flash drives because at a conference I was at a few years ago (and was helping with presentations), someone had a flash drive with a virus that would copy itself to the laptop and infect any other flash drive that was then connected. It wreaked havoc and the hosting org’s IT had to spend days helping clean up the laptops from all the presentation rooms, plus assist all the speakers that had infected flash drives.

          1. MayDay

            Ah, I don’t like to use other people’s flash drives too, but mostly in case I forget to delete anything from it! Good point about viruses though; lucky I (usually) always have my own on me!

    5. Lizabeth

      I second naming your flash drive. I would also password protect the folders in the flash drive if you don’t want someone to leaf through them if lost. It’s not much but better than nothing…I’m a Mac tho, so I don’t know how to do that with PC stuff.

    6. Sunflower

      Your coworker seems a little daft. Unless he’s driving a bus, if he found a flash drive in his car, it’s like max 6 people he’d have to ask. Which can easy be done in a mass email.

      I’d put your name on the flashdrive in the future just to be safe. Although there’s not much that can stop nosy Nancys!

    7. Elizabeth West

      Anyone with a brain would turn it in to the front desk. That’s the first place I would look for mine if I thought I dropped it.

      It would probably be a good idea to password-protect it from now on. My flash drive is protected–I had to put BitLocker on it in order to use it at work. It will log itself in on my work laptop, but on any other laptop, including my own at home, I have to enter the password.

    8. Cath in Canada

      I’d hand it in to reception, who would send an all-staff email saying “a flash drive has been found; if you’ve lost one, please come and claim it” and only give it back to someone who was able to describe it. That’s what we do when we find phones or keys in the kitchen or other public spaces.

      I might have a cursory look at the files if no-one claimed it within a couple of days, but what happened to you is well beyond acceptable! I’d be pretty pissed off and would at a minimum be suggesting a new policy to TPTB.

      1. MayDay

        Unfortunately while we are a huge company, we’re a small site, so we don’t really have on site IT or security! Nice in a way, but definitely not nice in other ways!

    9. AnotherFed

      This might be a security policy difference, but I’d have had to hand it in – either to my manager or to the security POC. They’d have checked it on a special standalone machine, added a particular piece of security software, scanned it (which would probably show up as every file having been opened), and then returned it to me as clean (if it passed their scans) … which would still leave me with no idea whose it was or what was on it. If something similar happened to this drive, that could be a less creepy explanation for the file access and extra stuff on the drive.

      1. MayDay

        We’re a big company but a small site. No real IT here, and security is pretty lax! I thought maybe antivirus would have messed with the date accessed, but I looked into it more, and nope!

  49. Amber Rose

    Just a small rant: I have a weird… problem/illness/thing. Until it passes, however long that takes (maybe a couple months) I can’t eat very much, and I run a definite risk of throwing up immediately if I try to eat. I’m also prone to panic attacks during this time as I struggle with the psychological burden of my symptoms.

    It’s tough to have coworkers comment on my non-eating habits through this. I’m tired of arguing that no, I really don’t want you to get me something while you’re out, I’m fine with my water thanks.

    1. fposte

      I had a colleague with that problem; she ended up with a simple surgery that helped a ton.

      Are they really arguing with you, or is it just that normal “Can I get you something? Are you sure?” is feeling more onerous than usual? If it’s the former, they’re probably untrainable, but if it’s the latter, I’d probably announce that I’m on a medical restriction at the moment and that you’d love it if people didn’t talk to you about food for a while.

      1. Amber Rose

        A little of both. Most stick to “are you sure” but one manager will stare at me and wait for me to change my mind and others try to get me to go out with them.

        I actually really enjoy lunch with coworkers at whatever place because I like everyone here, but even the smell of food is problematic right now, and I prefer to have my headphones in and practice mindfulness at lunch so I can concentrate on not going crazy.

        1. Aunt Vixen

          I have a friend who once, after one too many “Are you sure”s, said “I’m sure, and thank you for taking ‘No’ for an answer.” In a totally cheerful tone, so it was clear (a) that she wasn’t offended and trusted she wasn’t offending anyone else, but (b) the subject was closed.

    2. Ad Astra

      Offices are full of nosy but well-intentioned coworkers. Have you tried saying something like, “No thanks, I’m not feeling very well”? It may be that your coworkers think you’re skipping meals in a misguided attempt to lose weight, or you can’t afford lunch, or you’re so busy that you don’t have time for lunch. A vague comment that indicates a mildly upset stomach could help, at least for a while.

    3. QualityControlFreak

      Are you me? I have been sick all week, throwing up, desperately trying to find SOMETHING I can a) eat and b) keep down. Horrible nausea and smells do trigger it, even though there’s very little I actually can smell. And yes, there’s that shaky, light-headed, panic-attack feeling as well, and the stomach just in knots. It’s probably ulcers and the doc is doing labs, etc. I absolutely can’t wait to get this under control. My blood sugar can’t take it and I can’t afford to lose any more weight. So I’m on an anti-nauseant and a proton pump inhibitor (shuts off some of the acid) while we wait for the lab results. My work is aware it’s a medical thing and no one comments on what or how often I eat. Maybe just “Sorry, dealing with some stomach issues” in response?

  50. Jennifer

    Well, after last week’s devastating rejection for a job I supposedly actually qualified for, I have realized that well, there really isn’t hope for this particular job and I’m just going to get canned come my next review and there probably isn’t anything I can do to stop it. (Especially since we had yet another “You’re just not pleasing us” meeting that I cried through, again, yesterday.)

    However, I am running into the following problems with job applications: I’ve never done finances, travel arrangements, working exclusively for a high level executive (I literally do support for 20+ people, but not just one big shot), and I have never done event planning professionally (what apparently surprise ruled me out of the last job). Why? Because none of these things come up in my job, or in my previous field either. I’m literally ruled out of every single job I can see available because they want at least one or more of those things.

    How the hell do I get professional counting experience in these things? I actually don’t want to do anything involving payroll and I’m not super psyched about doing travel arrangements/money things because I’m terrible at math and I’m afraid I’d get fired for screwing up finances, but at the very least I will have to do event planning or sucking up to a high level exec (or whatever the drastic difference in that is–I think it sounds probably easier doing support for one person rather than 20+, but what do I know?) even if I’m not super psyched to plan everything about an event and never throw parties on my own. So how do I fix these resume holes in my career?

    1. Joss

      Have you done any volunteer work? Most of my event planning experience prior to my current job came from my volunteer work. I wasn’t organizing large events single handed, but I was assisting those who were and that was enough to indicate on my resume that I had been involved in event planning and had a sense of how it’s done.

      1. Ad Astra

        I second this. My immediate thought was that you could get some experience with event planning by helping some kind of nonprofit organization.

      2. Jennifer

        I have a volunteer job, but it doesn’t really count for any of those activities either. (Their party planning boils down to “hey, bring some food and maybe we’ll bring some toys to play with.”)

    2. LizB

      If you see a job that wants one of those things, but that you’re otherwise well qualified for, I’d go ahead and apply for it — these mostly sound like things you could learn on the job, so it’s possible you’ll be able to convince them to hire you anyway. Whatever the requirement is, I’d spend some time thinking about the skills it would take (e.g. travel arrangements require research, working for one person requires managing their calendar) and figure out what skills you already have that are similar or transferable. Then you can say something in an interview or cover letter like, “although I don’t have professional experience working for one person, I’ve juggled the calendar for a department of 20+ people, and understand how to balance to multiple people wanting to get some time with the professionals I support.” It’s okay to apply for positions that are a little bit of a stretch as long as you can articulate why you’d be good at the work despite not having identical experience.

      1. Jennifer

        I have been doing that and it has occasionally gotten me into a job interview, but then their faces fall when I say I haven’t done event planning or travel. I’ve been told in the interview that they don’t want to train you for doing it if you haven’t done it before. I agree that yeah, I think I could figure out that stuff if I had to, but these days nobody is giving you a chance to. I have done scheduling before and don’t think it’s a big hard deal, so at least I have that one under my belt professionally.

        I guess I better look for yet another volunteer job, really.

  51. Nanc

    Any tech theater folks out there looking for a job? In my little corner of the PNW the Oregon Shakespeare Festival is hiring for:
    Assistant Technical Director
    Automation Electronic Fabricator
    Data Analyst
    Stage Operations Manager
    Warning: they do have a particular way they want you to apply so read the entire job description.
    Full disclosure–I don’t work for them but I’m a 20+ year member!

    1. LizB

      Not a techie, but I’m headed up to Ashland for a week-long OSF trip next week! I’m so excited!

      1. Nanc

        Bring your sunscreen and parasol. For some reason they’re forecasting 100s next week (we’re not supposed to get that until August!).

        1. LizB

          Oof! I’ll plan for hot weather. At least that might mean we won’t get rained on during shows in the Elizabethan?

          1. Nanc

            Ugh, I wish I could guarantee that but there’s always a chance of thunderstorms when we get that hot. Google the July 7 storm in Ashland! And check OSFs Facebook page for that time, I believe they had some great video of the flooding outside the Elizabethan Theatre.

    2. Ashley K.

      Former techie very sad to not be able to head up there for that! I miss stage ops and lighting.

    3. Jennifer

      Hah, the one guy I know who would qualify for that just got hired by the city of Portland.

    4. ThursdaysGeek

      I was just there for a class reunion, and one of my former classmates from there is a geek (and actor) and is looking for a new job. She mentioned SOG a couple of times (Southern Oregon Geeks), so I think she’s a member there. Have you connected with them? I’ll tell her to check with the festival and apply there too. She’ll have other contacts as well.

  52. Bangs not Fringe

    For job seekers and those in hiring, does any know if is there a difference in perception between an EAD(Employment Authorization Document) and having an actual green card? In both cases the person is not asking for any visa support.

    I ask because my spouse has had a terrible time job hunting with possession of the EAD while awaiting the green card (they are taking a long time, 9-12 months). I believe they may not be being taken seriously without the green card despite the fact that they have the right to work.

    1. Ashley K.

      In my experience*, the question is “Do you have a legal right to work in the U.S.?” and sometimes “or do you require sponsorship?”

      Whatever answers that question closest to the employer not needing to put in a lot of extra work or deal with government and its quotas and requirements, well, that’s your best bet.

      Is your spouse advertising this in advance? I’d say unless field convention says to do it, there’s no need to disclose that before they ask.

      1. Ashley K.

        Caveat: my experience is probably weird since I’m in the SF Bay Area and work with a lot of tech, start up, and otherwise flexible companies.

      2. Bangs not Fringe

        On most online applications, they do ask a form of this question and the answer is “Yes” they do have a legal right to work in the US and “No” they do not now or in the future require visa sponsorship.

        I believe the fact that they had the EAD may have been disclosed on the resume and perhaps this should be removed… as you said, there’s no need to answer unasked questions.

      3. NoCalHR

        This. If you have the legal right to work in the U.S., and do not require employer sponsorship, there’s no real difference between a green card and the EAD from the employer’s perspective. At my previous 2 high-tech jobs, we took either, no problem, and we as well at my current non-profit service organization. I’d suggest your spouse simply answer the question honestly, and don’t provide any other details.

    2. Lost in France

      I’ll be in a similar situation in the next year or two when we move back to the US and I’m curious how long it takes to get the EAD. Do you get it when you start the green card process?

      Also, are foreigners discriminated against for US citizens even if they have the right to work? I’ve experienced a lot of that in France as a foreigner.

      1. miki

        LPR (Green card holder) here: no, LPRs are not discriminated against US citizens (Except for Federal jobs that are exclusive for US citizens), as long as you can pass I-9 Employment Eligibility verification (http://www.uscis.gov/i-9).
        Depending on how you are planning to immigrate, you might be able to work from the moment you enter country on immigrant visa (CR1, IR1): once your visa is stamped it turns into temporary I-551 (AKA Green card) which is valid for a year (or until you get the physical plastic green card) K-1 visa holders (fiance visa) do have different process of getting permit (EAD).

        1. Bangs not Fringe

          I’m don’t believe you can unequivocally state that immigrants are not discriminated against in favor of Americans when it comes to jobs. Being able to fill out I-9 is only half the battle. I think this is going to depend on the field and the company of course, but there are definitely prejudices and they are not laid out equally among all immigrants. Do you think an immigrant from Canada or Western Europe will meet the same challenges as an immigrant from Africa, South America or even Eastern Europe?

          1. miki

            Well, I am from Eastern Europe and I never felt discriminated against. I am not saying that is not happening, but if you are legal immigrant you should not have problems (field dependent of course) getting a similar job provided you have qualifications job asks for. That said, I know of a person from Eastern Europe who took trucking job when he migrated to the US (he had a DDS: dentist in his home country), then switched to nursing. Some jobs are very hard to get evaluated here and require extensive follow up: more classes to have equivalency, or at the worst case scenario one has to get a US degree in the field (medical, dental, veterinary)

          2. AnotherFed

            Depends on the job, but middle class and higher jobs are certainly discriminating based on qualifications that are harder for non-citizens to obtain. Many industries do not allow certifications, licenses, or degrees to transfer (or transfer easily) from any foreign nation or even sometimes between states. Degrees from non-US schools are usually seen as second class at best, regardless of the quality of the school, because their reputations are pretty much unknown to most US hiring managers. Also, most white collar jobs require communication and writing skills, which few people are as good at in a second language as they are in their primary language.

            1. Bangs not Fringe

              It seems it’s most likely the judgment against the foreign degrees and experience that are really holding my spouse back. Goodness this is so frustrating! The first job is definitely going to be that major milestone.

              While my spouse does not communicate as well in English as they do in their native language, they are an incredibly articulate English speaker and are constantly teaching me new words. I find it hard to believe this would be the reason in their case although it’s always a possibility.

      2. Bangs not Fringe

        Lost in France:

        I highly recommend visiting the VisaJourney forums to help you decide which visa path you will take (spousal vs. fiancé). I can tell you that we took the fiancé (K1) route and it has been fine but the green card took forever (2+ months to get visa, 70 days to get EAD, 10 months to receive green card). Just remember if you do K1 to file for adjustment of status asap, because 2+ months of not being able to work will get old fast for your partner.

        1. Lost in France

          Thank you!!! This is really helpful. We have been planning to take the K1 route also because it seems more efficient to get married in the country we want to live in. Although it seems less than ideal to be planning a wedding and job hunting simultaneously while relocating from across the world, we decided it would ultimately make the visa process easier. (Although now that I’m reading the comparisons on VisaJourney, the IR1 sounds like it has its advantages.)

          We’re hoping that his current French company would allow him to work remotely as they’re likely to expand into the US market soon (they sell a reservation management system to hotels.)

          I’ve been batting bureaucracy in France for three years (I have to stand in line at 3 a.m. until around 10-11 a.m. to renew my visa) and it sounds even worse in the U.S.

          1. Bangs not Fringe

            Be aware that if you go the K1 route, he won’t be able to legally work until he gets his EAD, even remotely for his current company. The advantage to spousal visa is definitely clear in that work permission starts on arrival to the U.S.

            Also, once you get the visa it’s valid for (has to be executed within) a certain amount of time (6 months?). In that time we prepared our move and I applied for jobs. One of the jobs that I applied to in that period is my current position. You can definitely apply from abroad if you know when you’ll be back and where you intend/want to go.

            Battling American beauracracy is different in that there are few physical lines. Mostly you get ignored and wait forever with little information of how long things will take. Best of luck.

            1. Lost in France

              It’s good to know that it’s possible to get a job from abroad. I am worried that it will take me the better part of a year to find a job so I want to start looking as early as possible.

              That’s what I’ve heard about American bureaucracy… it almost makes me want to stay in France! Thanks for all the helpful information.

    3. Lily in NYC

      We won’t hire anyone who needs sponsorship, but we would definitely hire someone who was simply waiting for a green card. I often see people write that they aren’t looking for sponsorship in their cover letter or resume.

  53. voluptuousfire

    Recently I read an article about how long people usually spend researching a company for interviews and the average was two hours. How long do you spend researching companies for interviews? I usually spend about 1 1/2 hours to three, depending on how in depth I go. I found one woman who spends 10-20 hours for every interview she does. She says she treats it like a midterm exam. I don’t think that works if you’re actively job hunting. It also sounds like a hell of a time investment in something that may not work out.

    1. Retail Lifer

      I’ll spend an hour, at most. You need to understand what the company does, how it does it, and what it’s working on now and what it’s successes and challenges are. No one’s going to quiz you on, say, the names of all the people on the board or who the Acting Vice President of Upper East Coast Chocolate Teapot Development is, unless you’re applying for a job in that exact division.

    2. Holly

      I’ve done the one hour thing and I’ve done two straight days. I’ve put facts, product names, service line information, etc. on notecards and studied them like an exam. I’ve also put down line by line of their job description and wrote notes of where I match them (just, like, “Write press releases…” – NF, CN) etc. But it definitely is a lot and it’s a bit exhausting. Studying that intensely does help with my interview anxiety, though, and as long as I know when to quit I’m usually still energized enough for the actual interview.

    3. cuppa

      Yeah, I would say one to two hours max. The most I’ve ever been asked is “what do you know about us” or “what makes you want to work with us” in an interview, and I think you can glean from that in just a couple of hours. I can understand that some positions may require you to brush up on their current happenings in the news, etc., but where I am that’s not really a consideration.

      1. Sunflower

        I agree. Most of the time they want to know that you have a general idea of what they do. I usually go on their website, linkedin, maybe Facebook if they’re involved in that. And then I search them in google news. But really it’s hard to throw in some of that stuff depending on what industry youre in.

    4. S

      30 mins the night before and then 15 mins of skimming before I leave for the interview. I just look at mission statement, history, and the staff bios and LinkedIn profiles of the people I’m interviewing with the night before, and then mission statement one more time before the interview.

    5. Nobody

      It depends on what you count as research. I’d say I usually spend 1-2 hours researching the company to prepare for my interview — looking at the company web site, information about the company on industry web sites, and recent news articles about the company — but I spend longer than that looking at information for my personal interest. If it’s an out-of-town job, for example, I will look at real estate and information about the area to determine if I could see myself wanting to move there. I will also look up Glassdoor ratings and try to find comments or blog posts by employees about their feelings about working there. If I know the interviewers’ names, I will look them up on LinkedIn and Facebook to see what I can find out about them. If you add up all of that, it might be 4-6 hours (depending on how much I find).

    6. Ad Astra

      I don’t think I ever spent 10-20 hours studying for a midterm exam, if we’re being honest.

      I probably spend an average of 1-2 hours researching a company, but it really depends on how much information is out there. If they have active social media accounts or there are lots of Google/Glassdoor reviews, or news articles referencing the company, I end up spending a lot more time than if they don’t have much web presence.

    7. Jennifer

      I probably do the same as you, but nobody ever asks me about any of that information in interviews.

  54. Lucy

    It’s my last day at my crazy dysfunctional job and I’ve gotten the silent treatment from senior staff all week. LOL.

      1. Lucy

        The VP literally walked through our open office saying good morning (individually) to everyone but me. Sooooo happy I’m out!

    1. Ashley K.

      Haha!

      It could be worse. When I resigned from my last job, every time I had a meeting with the CEO he’d comment that he knows the guys at my new company and should get me fired from the new job so I wouldn’t leave.

      Awkward laughs for everyone!

    2. I'm Not Phyllis

      Ha – this happened to me at my old job! My actual boss didn’t even say goodbye – send me an email instead. I think it’s just to let us know we’re doing the right thing :)

  55. T

    Major, unannounced reorg across the entire organization this week. Lots of weird moves that don’t make sense (probably setting things up for a second phase of changes with some key people retiring this year). Other than a handful of people that got promoted, almost everyone is unhappy. Me? My manager got promoted (good for my future and my supervisor who rocks is taking her job but keeping his title) and two people on my team, one toxic and the other incompetent, got moved to another team. Woohoo! I have to keep my poker face on at work to not display how much I love the reorg so everyone doesn’t get mad at me.

    1. Lily in NYC

      I’m going through the same thing! We have a new president and there are big changes – they fired five incompetent top-level people and the other senior staff members are losing their minds with worry. Meanwhile, us peons are doing a happy dance because someone is actually getting rid of the people who need to go! I’m glad you are happy with your reorg too.

    1. Retail Lifer

      I guess the one positive aspect of my job is that we don’t have sexist air conditioning. It’s always really hot in here. I would have said it’s because we’re cheap, but know I know it’s because WE CARE ABOUT GENDER EQUALITY.

    2. FD

      Yeah, there is certainly a lot of sexist BS in the business world but I don’t think this is among it.

      Women have the option to wear full business professional if their male colleagues are, which does tend to be a warmer form of dress. If you know your office is set for suits, maybe don’t wear a summer dress?

      I grant that it’s a pain to swelter outside so you can be comfortable inside, but if you spend most of your time in the office, that rather makes sense.

      1. misspiggy

        Ah but women’s body temperature is on average 1 degree lower than men’s, so even with warm clothing it’s still a problem.

        1. Charlotte Collins

          Unless you are like me. I am a woman who loves lower temperatures. I’d much rather have too much AC than too much heat (which makes me grumpy and faint).

        2. Observer

          Not close to what is being described. If the normal attire in a place is “business” or “business casual” it’s just not reasonable to ask that the temperature be set for sundresses.

      2. the gold digger

        If I am wearing long sleeves, a scarf, a skirt, and pantyhose, I should not need to run the space heater at my desk. I do not think I am dressing too cool for the office in that outfit.

    3. nona

      Lol no but it is pretty frustrating. A man who is more than twice my size controls the AC. I’m tired of being cold when the temperature outside is in the 90s.

      That said, where the writer mentions men and women dressing for weather differently, I’m really not jealous of men who have to wear suits in the summer while I can wear a short-sleeved dress.

      1. Sunflower

        Yeah I must agree with this. I usually wear a sleeveless dress and then put on a cardigan when I come into the office. My job isn’t people facing so I also have a blanket I keep at my desk to put over my legs. There’s really nothing you can do when it’s 90 degree outside and 65 in the office!

        1. Observer

          How many offices really do that? Let’s face it, most places are not going below 70 or 72, which is not THAT cold.

          1. A K Climpson

            You’d think so, but the maintenance guy in our building came by to check on the temperature yesterday and found that my area was 63. (It was actually worse in a coworker’s office a few weeks ago).

            The article definitely struck a chord in our DC office, where everyone keeps multiple sweaters, space heaters, or (in my case) a large winter coat handy at all times.

            1. Observer

              I’m sure the maintenance guy “fixed” that, ASAP. Not because he’s enlightened, but because that’s a huger waste.

              The reality is that what most of the posters here are describing is very different from what the article describes. When I read about a woman whining that she “has” to wear a ratty sweater over her sundress, I have no sympathy. Either dress for the office, or keep something nice in your office.

              On the other hand, if it’s at 65, I think your boss (or whoever controls the AC) is nuts. If the controller reports to someone reasonable, it think there’s a straightforward argument to be made that it doesn’t make sense to cool any space (that doesn’t need refrigeration) that low. Keep in mind that in some municipalities, during the winter landlords need to provide enough heat to bring the indoor temperature to at least 68.

    4. Treena

      I was just coming to post this! I don’t think it’s a conspiracy, it’s just one of those things that have been ignored because men were the majority for so long. What I find funny is that if it happened to go the other way around, (women were hotter than men), because women would be dressing “inappropriately” (ie, sleeveless tops, etc.) and it would be a problem stamped as needing solving ASAP.

      http://io9.com/why-do-womens-bodies-run-colder-than-mens-836827770

      1. Lizzy

        Same here. I am as feminist as they come, but I love having the AC being blasted as cold as it can get. I’ll let the patriarchy have that one.

      2. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

        ha ha, indeed.

        And it has absolutely nothing to do with age, what makes you ask?

    5. Nobody

      I am a woman and I like it cold! Meanwhile, I have a male coworker who is always complaining about how cold it is, and he works in a coat and winter hat (our office is casual, so he doesn’t wear a suit).

      I have to roll my eyes about the assertion that the situation is sexist against women. If anything, men should be complaining about sexism because they have to wear suits all the time while women can wear something more comfortable for the weather. If women don’t like it, they can always wear a suit to work.

      1. Charlotte Collins

        Isn’t it just as sexist to assume that all women are too cold and complaining about the AC? Also, in my mother’s words: You can always put on a sweater. There is only so much I can do that’s office-appropriate when it’s too warm.

        Try having to go in to do testing on a Sunday in the summer (a hot, humid area, and a building without windows that can be opened) when your workplace believes that AC on the weekend is a waste of money. You’ll never complain about too much AC again.

        1. Anon the Great and Powerful

          You can always put on a sweater, but you can’t always put on gloves and a balaclava.

          1. the gold digger

            I take a coat to work every day, even though it’s July. Sometimes I wear it once I am inside. I know I am always the first one to get cold, but honestly – in July?

            1. Anon the Great and Powerful

              I once worked in an office that was so over air conditioned (50Fish) that I wore a winter coat at my desk all summer. Of course, people were still sweating and asking for the air conditioning to be made even colder.

              The air conditioning wars are why I now work from home. :)

    6. Ad Astra

      Sometimes I feel like the only woman in the world who isn’t cold all the time. I have to wear cardigans or some other longer-sleeved top to cover a tattoo (didn’t find that out until I accepted the job), but I don’t bring jackets or blankets or space heaters to work in the summer. And I wear knee-length skirts/dresses instead of pants every chance I get, because it’s really hot here. If I get a little cold, I’ll get up and refill my water bottle or something, and then I’m fine.

      It’s totally stupid, but sometimes I feel like it’s un-feminine to not be shivering at my desk. :(

    7. IndieGir

      Woman here. I’m hot all the time, and I’m sick to death of other women in the office who come in dressed in the sheerest, lightest clothing and then complain about how cold they are. I mean really, you show up in a sheer silk skirt, no hose, and a sleeveless silk tank top and then wonder why you are cold. Put on a flipping blazer! It’s 76 degrees in here, which should be warm enough for everybody, and is certainly warm enough to keep me sweating.

      The only folks I feel sorry for are those stuck right under the air-conditioning vents. They do have a legitimate beef, but I’m not sure how you can solve the problem. The cool air has to get into the building somehow. Maybe issue sweaters . . .

      1. Jennifer

        I wish my coworker who sat under the vent would deign to put on a sweater, but she categorically refuses because then she’d be “too hot.”

        So multiple times I hear “It got COLD in here all of a sudden!”

      2. I'm Not Phyllis

        Yuss! There were two women at my old office who always wore sleeveless dresses – always. And we have some REALLY cold winters. They would constantly complain about being cold. Ummm, it’s winter. If everyone else is dressed for the season it seems silly to accommodate the two who dress in January the same way they would in July.

      3. Clever Name

        OMG. Our office manager does this. She’ll wear a tissue weight “sweater” and complain about being cold all the time and how she likes it to be 80 deg. Just put on a real sweater, made of wool (or whatever) like the rest of us.

    8. Rebecca

      I shouldn’t really comment, because for the 3rd summer in a row, the aircon hasn’t worked in my office. It’s stuffy and hot all summer long. As a bonus, the heat doesn’t work in the winter, so at least 7 months out of the year it’s bearable. Next week it’s supposed to be in the 90’s, so I will not be wearing normal office attire.

    9. CMT

      It’s not a “sexist conspiracy”, it’s just one example out of 2359710946872 in which the standard, or neutral setting, is set to “men”.

    10. Elizabeth West

      I suppose it could be, but in my work experience, I’ve had women cranking the AC up because they’re hot (hot flashes, pregnancy, etc.). Or I get cold because of where I’m sitting. I just keep a cardigan around and a fleece remnant in my footrest that I can use in the winter. We’re on the top floor at my current job and it’s weird, temperature-wise. I have a fan for when I’m hot after stair climbing.

    11. Shell

      As a woman, I think this is ridiculous.

      Men’s work-wardrobe doesn’t have as much variety as women’s. We can argue why that is all day long, but work-appropriate clothes for men generally comes down to pants of various formalities/fabric weights, button-downs, polos. (I’m excluding super casual environments that allow t-shirts and shorts and whatnot because the article specified men in suits.) Women have a more variety in the summer with dresses and whatnot. Again, we can argue why that is all day long, but at the end of the day it’s not like the men can strip down and still maintain an appropriate dress for the given level of office formality (assuming it’s an environment where seersucker suits or shorts aren’t appropriate), so I think it’s fair to let them have greater say in the thermostat. Women can request a space heater, a blanket, or throw on a sweater.

      By the way, my work wardrobe is kind of like a man’s: button downs (I have 11 of them at last count), jeans on Fridays, dressed pants or slacks…and the occasional skirt or dress. But regardless of what I wear, I’m still always cold because I sit under an air vent and I run cold naturally. I understand being cold. But this is a dumb battle to pick and I certainly don’t think the coldness is from a secret plot by the patriarchy.

    12. Lily in NYC

      Ha, it is so freezing my office today that one of the guys borrowed my sweater. It’s a really girly sweater and is tiny on him but it’s so cold he doesn’t care.

    13. Not So NewReader

      This job- my boss is a woman. She likes the AC at 60. If I mention it, it’s never a problem to turn it up.
      Previous job- AC was controlled by remote computer. It was 45. If I mentioned it, it was always a major problem to get the AC turned up.

  56. Gillian

    I’m on the board of a local theater group that’s been around and successful for more than 60 years. Part of this success is due to many long-standing volunteers who really believe in the group and have been basically working for it part-time for free for decades. However, we’ve started to come to a point where their longevity is hurting rather than helping and I’m not sure how to approach it with them.

    This issue has been on our radars for years (it took until last fall to convince them that selling our music through iTunes in addition to physical discs would not be the end of the world), but it’s recently gotten much worse. This came to a head within the past week or so when the board president (president since 1981, been involved since at least the 70’s, perhaps longer) both a) gave an incredibly negative speech in the middle of the opening night party for our major donors about how we’re in trouble because no one will give us money and complaining about the venue we use moving to an online ticketing system – which as far as we can tell, ticket buyers preferred anyways and b) sent belligerent, spiteful and demanding emails to the venue managers accusing them of lying (they didn’t), demanding refunds because the city is doing construction nearby (what?) and generally just being rude and awful while shooting the messenger for bad news (one of the multiple escalators needs a part replaced and it might not come in before our performances this weekend). We don’t have a good option for another venue of similar size, pricing and good location, so alienating this vendor is an awful idea!

    I know reticence to change is common everywhere, and I truly understand his worry about not being “needed” and losing control of something he’s led for longer than I’ve been alive. But how do I get across that his current behavior is very much less than professional and is hurting our image? I know if I’d donated to a group and then their president said “everything sucks, no one’s giving us money” that I’d assume they were going under and would allocate my donations to something that looked more financially sound. It’s to the point that we probably need a new public face of the organization but I don’t know of the best way to broach “You’ve given so much and we’re thankful, but we really need you to stop talking to our vendors and the public.” without just getting kicked off the board myself.

    Any ideas about increasing my tact or experience with shifting responsibilities away from someone who’s had them for a long time would be very much appreciated!

    1. Intern Wrangler

      I’m assuming the theater company is a non profit. Does the board have term limits? It might be worthwhile to investigate those. It is considered best practices in the nonprofit field. It might start a discussion that would help board members to move along. The Charities Review Council in Minnesota has a great accountability standards tool that might be useful.

      1. Gillian

        If only. We tried suggesting they institute term limits for executive roles about 3 years ago when also trying to set up some sort of succession plan for if something happened to one of the executive board members (our VP is 93, so it’s not a good assumption that she’ll still be around in 10 years). It got totally crushed after being deferred to committees about 5 times. The board does have membership on two-year terms but pretty much if you say you want to be renewed, you are. The entire board is elected as a slate as well, so there’s a lot of disincentive to vote nay, as you’re then voting against everyone.

        The yearly re-election of the executive officers is even worse and just treated as a routine procedural thing you have to do, similar to approving the meeting minutes from last month. As far as I know there’s not been any discussion or disagreement in decades. I’ve been half tempted to nominate someone else (or myself) for a position just to see what happens but don’t want to end up having to be president myself as I’m totally capable of recognizing I’m not qualified for that role.

    2. MsM

      When you say “we,” who does that include? Is it you and a couple of others, or is it a majority of the board (and staff, assuming you have any)? Because the latter makes it easier to say stuff like, “Joe, I understand you have frustrations with the venue, but please be clear when you’re expressing your own opinions rather than speaking on behalf of the organization. I haven’t had the issues you seem to be having, or at least not ones I didn’t feel could be resolved, and I’d like to keep things that way.” (If you’ve only got the former, you can still pipe up with your opinion as a reminder that his isn’t universal, but it’s not likely to have the same impact.)

      Having the rest of the board on your side also makes it easier to take a look at the bylaws and either use what’s there to start easing people off and into less formal advisory roles, or set up committees so that people who are weirdly fixated on a particular thing don’t deal with that issue, or have processes in place to make sure official remarks get reviewed before the gala, or initiate the discussion about having all that stuff if there’s nothing there currently. There’s tons of best practice stuff out there from Bridgespan or Compass Point or similar organizations that you can use to make the case for why it’s a good idea if you need to start building allies.

      1. Gillian

        I know of two others on the 18 person board that share my sentiments, and a couple who mostly agree but would rather just go with whatever happens, good or not. There aren’t any paid staff, so that’s not a help. We do have an emeritus status for board members to transition into, and the board president himself has been actively advocating for it, just not showing any interest in it himself or in encouraging those who truly should be taking advantage of it to do so.

        The entire board agrees in an academic nature that “we should have plans” and “no one should do the same thing forever” and “let’s make the best decisions for the group’s future,” they just don’t think about applying it to themselves.

        Trying to focus on organizational processes may be the way to go since that is people-independent and hopefully will stop people from taking anything too personally and just stalling the decision making process. And I’ll definitely take a look at those resources – I’ve tried to incorporate best practices into my own work with the group, but hopefully it could be of help to other board members as well.

  57. TotesMaGoats

    Question for my mom.

    Quick backstory. My mom has been in her position as a senior administrator for 20+ years at the same place. With the same Dean as her boss. For the past 19 years, they’ve had an amazing relationship. He’s been public in his praise of her work, “Mary Poppins” reviews with raises every year, called her “the voice of God” in regards to policy. Basically she could do no wrong.

    Something has happened in the last year that has completely changed that. To the point that her recent prelim review meeting was negative, no raise and “HR will decide if you will be put on a PIP.” And she was blindsided by everything. The past year has been rough. He’s questioned decisions she’s made(that she’s made for years with no issue), publicly ripped her over things that weren’t her fault, not passed along information she should have and then blamed her for making the wrong decision on inaccurate information and the list goes on. Of course, when every email you send gets blasted, you get super anxious about what you send. So she’ll accept that their communication needs alot of improvement but the rest is pure BS. Everyone on campus is reporting the same sort of things.

    She loves her job. She’s my mentor in how to be a great boss and higher education professional. She’s respected at the state level and has presented and received awards at the national level. I feel awful that she’s being treated this way. My assumption is that part of this is due to BigBoss facing some dementia and at the point when they realize they are losing their faculties and get angry about it. The other is BigBoss has an heir apparent, whom Mom has worked with for many years with no issues, but that convalutes the communication process. Part of me thinks there is a push to get out the older employees who are paid really well.

    I know what it’s like to hate being at work so much that you cry a lot or are anxious all the time and second guess yourself. I encourage where I can but aside from trying to find a new job, which would be difficult, what other advice can I give? HR is NOT to be trusted, so that’s out.

    Should she even bother to stand up for herself? If so, how would you do that knowing the situation? I just feel awful for her and want to support her since she supported me through the suckiness that was OldJob.

    1. Gillian

      I’m so sorry that’s happening to your mom! Is there anyone else there with long tenure who may be able to give an outsider’s perspective to things that she could talk with? Maybe another administrator of similar level in a different department?

      I’ll be thinking of her. I know how tough it can be to have a job you love transform into something awful overnight because of the whims of academic administration gone bonkers.

      1. TotesMaGoats

        Several of the senior leaders on campus, with long “tenure”, are telling her they are getting the same sort of treatment. All are over 40, most are women. All have been there at least 15 years. Thus the thought of pushing out the older, higher paid workers.

        1. MsM

          If the pattern’s that clear, then maybe they all need to band together and go have a conversation with an employment attorney about how to push back.

          Honestly, though, it might be better to just have a sit-down where she acknowledges that things clearly aren’t working any more and tries to figure out what they can do to part on an amicable note in recognition of all the good years they did have together. My dad did that a couple of years back when his school’s HR started making noises, and he’s currently pulling down a nice consulting fee from them because they realized there was still stuff they needed that only he could do.

    2. fposte

      1) Has she directly asked the boss what he sees as the reason for the change? I would have asked what’s changed right after the PIP thing.
      2) Has she looked at the possibility of changing jobs? There might even be something within the same school.

      While I think the conversation in #1 is worth doing, I think #2 is really the important one here. This has been going on for a year, so it’s not a transient thing; it sounds like she’s locked into a situation where she just wants things to be the way they used to be and that’s worth hanging on for. But I think she needs to let go of that belief and decide what she wants to do.

      And as a tame academic, I get that it’s a great situation for somebody who excels in what she does and has the opposite of itchy feet, because that’s me. But people change jobs all the time, even in academics, and are fine; she shouldn’t let a fear of moving on to something new keep her in a position that’s gone sour.

      1. TotesMaGoats

        Gets the run around on #1.

        #2 isn’t a possibility. There is only one of her job at any institution. While she’s got lots of transferrable skills I know there are no openings that she could move into.

        She’s open to looking for other jobs but the problem she faces is that higher ed in our state is very close knit, so rumors are going to fly if she starts looking. She’s over 40 and female. She’s got crazy amounts of experience but only a BS degree, so that makes searching harder for people who don’t look beyond a piece of paper. She close-ish to retirement but really enjoys working and I don’t honestly see her being happy in a position with less responsibility/authority.

        I think she needs to be more aggressive in responding to the hits she takes from him but recently they’ve been so out of the blue that the shock locks her up. I can’t imagine having years upon years of reviews where you are told you are perfect (literally) and then out of the blue get a “needs improvement”. I wouldn’t know how to respond to that. Note that at no time during the last year was there any discussion on areas of improvement. Just blasting with no follow up and, often, mind changes on what actually needs to be done. Makes your head spin.

        1. fposte

          I don’t know what you mean by “be more aggressive.” Can you explain what you’re thinking there? It sounds to me like just turning it into an argument that she’ll lose.

          If this is because the boss is suffering from dementia, it’s not related to any larger concerted push; if it’s a larger concerted push, it’s not related to the boss’s dementia. (I’m skeptical about a larger concerted push anyway–not only is it an inefficient way to safe money, it requires a level of concert that academics generally finds pretty difficult.)

          I still thinking looking for a new job is the best option here, and I don’t see why she needs to care that rumors are going to fly; talking to networks is what networks are for, and it’s pretty common to sound them out in academic life, in my experience. It does sound like she’s got limited flexibility, but some of that may be self-imposed; that’s her call, as long as she knows that she’d rather stay in a job she’s not enjoying and may possibly be losing, if your suspicions are right, than look out of state or get people talking.

          In short, it sounds like it sucks, but I think both you and she are focusing on the injustice of it. That’s understandable on a personal level, but even if that does get addressed it’s not likely to return this to the job she wants. So if it’s not the job she had before this year, does she still want it? Does she want to stay in state enough to keep it?

          1. TotesMaGoats

            You’ve made some good points and are right. The injustice, hurt, shock is what we’ve been focused on. I know my mom won’t leave the state with kids and grandkids here but accepting that working there just might not be the best thing is worth considering.

            1. fposte

              And I’m in a position not too dissimilar from your mom’s, and if my job turned sour I’d be devastated; there would be a real grief process there. So I do understand all of that, I think–it’s just that it’s really separate from the question about what to do.

              I don’t think it’s necessarily a mistake to stay where she is, but I think it would helpful if she detaches from the sadness about what the job was and now isn’t; lots of people have jobs they’re not crazy about and bosses who don’t support them and they’re okay. It’s clutching onto the “if only” that will make you crazy.

              1. TotesMaGoats

                I think you hit the nail on the head there and as I counselor by training, I should’ve picked up on it. It’s a grief process.

                I didn’t answer your earlier questions about aggressiveness. Based on what she’s told me, she hasn’t really stood up for herself in the moment when “accused” of something. Probably because she’s been bowled over with shock when it happens. Because generally, it’s a case of she hadn’t been told that the policy/rule/arbitrary decision of the day had changed.

    3. Victoria, Please

      Is there a university ombuds? If so, do they handle staff at all?

      I’m so sorry, this sounds unbelievably difficult and heartbreaking. Twenty years of “You’re awesome! I love you!” and suddenly it turns to “You suck and I hate you” is traumatizing.

  58. GG

    An awkward situation came up at work this week, and I’m hoping some of you might be able to offer some advice.

    Background: I’m the bookkeeper at a small company (14 employees). The official company owner is semi-retired, and leaves the day-to-day operations to the VP. In addition to keeping the books for the company, part of my job responsibility is to also keep (very simple) books for the owner himself, and few other companies he has hands in. I’d say I spend maybe 15% of my time on those other books.

    This week the owner asked me if I could help his son get books set up for a small business he started last year. I asked if he meant that this would be on the clock (as opposed to something I’d do after hours for separate pay), and he said yes – on the clock. I said that I could probably find the time in my schedule to help the son get set up and trained.

    But now I’m wondering if the VP even knows about this situation, and is cool with company resources (my time) being allocated that way. I kind of want to run it by him, to make sure. But if he does already know, I don’t want to be perceived as tattling, or trying to second-guess the boss.