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.


    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… 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.

          1. HeyNonnyNonny*

            Oh yes, this was me too! I had to glue my sole back on and shuffle verrrry slowly.

        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.


      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*


        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.

      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”

    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.

    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 for cardholders!

    2. Barbara in Swampeast*

      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 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: 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*

            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, 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*


          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.


  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*

      A blog written by MLS students for MLS students. There’s profiles of many MLS programs ( 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:

      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*

        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.*


              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. 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 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, 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!